Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

Day 131. 

There is an awful lot to watch this week.  There was the open session of the House Intelligence Committee on the Russia Hack and we got some news that everyone kind of knew but didn’t expect to hear.  Neil Gorsuch began his hearing to become part of the Supreme Court.  And, the Republicans are pushing very hard to remove tens of millions of people from their health care coverage.

As I watched the hearing yesterday, I began to wonder if I was watching two different hearings.  The Democrats were hammering away at the real purpose of the hacking by Russia while a lot of Republicans were hammering away at the leaks that basically led to these investigations.  That is somewhat understandable.  Republicans have wanted to deflect away from trump’s administration’s behavior so going after the leakers is their plan.

However, when Comey said that there was an active investigation not only into the Russian hacks, but also about whether or not trump campaign team members actually helped in that hacking scheme, the air seemed to go out of the room.  When he said also there was no information to back-up trump’s claim of wire tapping of his tower, there was a moment of relief in the room.  Everyone in the room had already expressed that was not true for a couple of weeks now.

The one thing I believe this hearing did prove is that we really do need an independent commission, complete with a special prosecutor, to investigate this matter.  I don’t say that easily either.  But, this matter is way too important for any appearance of politics interfering with the investigations.  And, holding the investigation in Congress allows that to take place too easily.

An independent commission, with a special prosecutor, would be able to get to the real truth, regardless of what that truth is.  The circumstantial evidence does not look good for trump, but it is circumstantial and I am not making any decisions on the guilt or innocence of him or his team.  I want the truth.

Hopefully, the investigation at the FBI will go along smoothly, but since it is part of the executive branch, there is no guaranty of that either.  Watergate proved that point very well in the past.

Just as importantly, the White House started distancing itself from some of the players in this investigation.  Spicer even went so far as to say the Paul Manafort “played a very minor role for a very short period of time”.  He also said that Mike Flynn “was just a campaign volunteer”.

Does the White House really believe the American People are that stupid?  Paul Manafort ran the campaign from March through August.  He was brought into the campaign to have a professional actually run it for them.  He did not play a “very minor role”.

Mike Flynn was not just “a campaign volunteer”.  He was the security advisor to the campaign.  He even went onto become the National Security Advisor in the administration.  That is quite a leap from just being a “campaign volunteer”.

Sometimes when I watch this administration I am dumbfounded by their ease in lying to the American People.  On the other hand, that has been their way of doing business ever since trump began his campaign.  But, now when it appears they just might have gotten caught with the whopper, they are hunkering down even more.

The problem is that I believe they are actually circling the wagons in a minefield.  How many times have you heard that if the moron would just come out and say he made a mistake, even with a flimsy excuse, about the wiretapping claim he could get around it.  But, trump never admits he is wrong about anything.  And, this is no different.

Then, out of the blue, it was reported last night that our empty suit of a Secretary of State is going to skip the NATO meeting in April.  They claim he is skipping the meeting to stay around for the Chinese Foreign Minister’s visit to Washington.  However, later in the month, he is going to visit Moscow.

That is a very bad message to send to our allies.  Instead of trying to change either the NATO meeting date or the Chinese visit date, they are just going to skip NATO but still visit Russia.  If trump had not been hammering away at NATO and trying to make it appear as a protection racket, maybe NATO members wouldn’t get nervous about this situation.  But, since trump cannot stop calling NATO “obsolete”, I am guessing they are very nervous about this situation.  And, I don’t blame them.

The Gorsuch hearings are ongoing and I will have more as this week goes on.  But, this hearing is very important.  I already pointed out one case that I believe should exclude him from serving on the Court.  I want to hear what he says, and I really want to hear what questions the Democrats are going to ask.  I already know the Republicans will just showcase their ideology rather than vet this candidate.

Now we come to the Americans Without Health Care Act.  Republicans are trying very hard to placate other Republicans to get them to vote for this bill.  They announced some changes to the bill and are touting that it will help older Americans better.  That is nice, but it is also gutting more parts that will hurt many more Americans.

Some of the amendments geared towards conservatives include Medicaid and what is being called the Buffalo Bailout.  One thing they want to add is a “work requirement” to receive Medicaid.  That may sound nice, but it will hurt a whole lot of poor people and people with disabilities.  There has been no clear definition of just who must follow this “work requirement”.  They want to take a program that is intended to assist out-of-work people and poor people to have health care and put “requirements” on them.

About one-third of people on Medicaid are in nursing homes.  Are they supposed to follow the “work requirement”?  That may sound like a crazy question, but it is a very real possibility if there aren’t any definitions about who must obey this requirement.

This is just another example of the conservative viewpoint that anyone who needs help only needs help because they are lazy slugs who don’t want to work and support their families.

They are also going to “speed up” the tax cuts from the ACA, the repeal of expanded Medicaid and “block grants” to states for Medicaid.  And, this small government party wants to dictate just how states do their Medicaid.  Hence the Buffalo Bailout.

In New York State, and many others, the state requires counties to contribute to Medicaid costs.  The Upstate counties complain that it means they must charge higher property taxes.  So, conservatives in Congress have decided that they will step into each state’s operation and state that counties no longer need to contribute to Medicaid costs.

To show they mean business, they have even said that this applies to any county that has a population of less that 5 million people.  They are not only interfering with a state’s operations, they are saying which counties are involved.  So much for “small government” actions.

As far as the Americans Without Health Care Act goes, in order to help older Americans purchase insurance they have decided to include 75 billion dollars to increase tax credits for people between 50 and 64.  Only, the cowardly House won’t say how that money should be used, they are leaving it to the Senate.  In other words, they want the House to pass a bill that gives 75 billion dollars to it, but won’t say how it should be spent.

Additionally, they won’t say how they were going to pay for that 75 billion dollars.  This is the party that says everything must be paid for before it is passed.  Yet, here is 75 billion dollars that isn’t being paid for and still is expected to be passed.

None of these changes are going to do anything to lower health care costs.  None of these changes are going to do anything to keep people from losing their health car coverage.  The only thing this bill will do is give the rich massive tax cuts.

We don’t know if it will even get out of the House.  The so-called Freedom Caucus is still against it, but there are serious cracks in their front.  They need 21 votes to kill the bill in the House.  If it gets to the Senate, it only needs 3 votes to kill the bill.  So far, there are a lot more than 3 Republicans who are against it.  So, this may not reach the president’s desk.

But, that is nothing to cheer about.  If this bill does not pass, you can bet the next one, if there is a next one, will be far more conservative than this one is and many more people will lose their health care coverage.  Or, Republicans will do nothing except cut the ACA even more through executive actions, and hurt even more people just for ideology’s sake and tax cuts.

Then there is the budget that trump wants to pass that will hurt the poor even more.  It will gut the EPA and destroy our State Department.  We have heard some really stupid things to justify this draconian budget like Meals On Wheels isn’t effective.  Then over the weekend, one GOP congressman in Pennsylvania said that “god was guilty in helping pollute the Chesapeake Bay”.  He came up with this brilliant answer when it was demanded in his town hall that he vote against gutting the EPA.

There are a lot of things to watch this week in Washington.  But, with an FBI investigation hanging over the White House, things could get very interesting in the coming months.  What was it that trump said during the campaign?  Oh yeah, “you cannot elect someone who is being investigated by the FBI”.

I wonder if that means you cannot pass an agenda by an administration that is “being investigated by the FBI”?  I guess you have to answer that question for yourself.

We keep hearing from Republicans to look at “what the president has done in such a short time”.  Only, when you look at what he has done you discover he really hasn’t done a damn thing.  Except for business owners.  He has done nothing for the people who voted for him.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

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Day 127. 

All I can say is this has been one week from hell.  First we have the Americans Without Health Insurance Act, then we have the budget for the rich, and then we have trump still claiming “my wires were tapped” by the former President even though everyone including the heads of two congressional committees have said there is no evidence that it happened.  But, don’t worry, the reason is because Obama apparently had the British tap his wires so there won’t be any evidence.  Something the British claim is patently false.

One of the beneficiaries of the massive cuts to federal agencies, Rex Tillerson from the State Department, said that the cuts were okay with him because “we won’t be in as many shooting wars” anymore.  What?  The very next day he told North Korea that “we aren’t taking any options off the table, including military options, if they don’t comply” and denuclearize.

Does this clown have ant idea what his job is supposed to be?  It is the job of the Secretary of State to help keep us out of shooting wars, not get us into them.  He is supposed get our allies to support us and to even get our adversaries to help stop North Korea.  In other words, he should be talking to China to help us get rid of the nuclear weapons in North Korea rather than threatening war that China will not look favorably on since they border North Korea.

China is the only real ally North Korea has.  If we can get them to do something, then we won’t have to go to war.  But, trump administration is more interested in flexing muscle than in keeping the peace.  Remember Seoul, the capital of South Korea is only 30 miles from the border.  And, North Korea has it lined up in their sights of artillery.  There are only 20 million people living in Seoul, but what the hell, they are just “foreigners” and not white ones either.

Then we have trump’s budget director Mick Mulveney trying to justify all of the budget cuts with absolute stupidity.  For instance he claims cutting off all funds to Meals on Wheels is justified because, “it hasn’t shown it has worked”.  In other words, “do those old farts really need to eat?”

He also claimed that the wipe-out of the Public Broadcasting Corporation is “good for the single mom who has two kids.  She shouldn’t pay for that program anymore”.  Only, that is the best place for her children to get educational television that is also entertaining.

On the other hand, it is perfectly fine for that single mom who has two kids to lose her health insurance so Mulveney and his kind can get a huge tax cut.  It is perfectly fine for her to pay more in taxes so the rich get even deeper cuts.

You can see where this is taking us.  The rich matter.  Everyone else does not.  It is okay to take people off their health care if the rich get the benefit.  It is wrong to pay for good educational television since the rich needs to kick in also.  Just so long as you claim that you are being “nice to that single mom”.

There is not a singe item in the budget cuts proposed that will have a negative affect on the rich.  But, every proposed cut will have a negative affect on everyone else.

That single mom must pay for the Berlin Wall on the southern border that won’t do anything to secure our borders.  But she is being saved from paying for something that she actually uses and probably needs.  See how wonderful and nice this administration is to this poor lady?

As far as Meals on Wheels go, it is reported that the programs helps keep people out of nursing homes.  What is the benefit of that?  Only about one-third of the Medicaid budget for each state.  But, we apparently don’t have to worry about that either.  With the proposed Medicaid cuts, there won’t be any money to put these old people into nursing homes either.

This is what the administration wants to do.  Health Care, cut it.  Workplace Safety, cut it.  Diplomacy, cut it.  Meals on Wheels, eliminate it.  Public educational television, eliminate it.  Environmental Protection, cut it.  Climate change research, eliminate it.  Health Science research, cut it.  Weather forecasting, cut it.

You can see the pattern.  When trump said he wanted to “drain the swamp” what he really meant was that he would bring in a bunch of billionaires to pass budgets and laws that make life better for themselves.  Screw the rest of us.  What he has done so far proves that he is keeping his campaign promise.  He is screwing us really good.  Hope you like it.

Maybe he is beginning a new phase of eugenics.  Maybe he is making a mockery of the old adage of “only the strong survive” and making it “only the rich survive”.  Maybe he is just trying to cull the surplus population.

I am sorry, but our beloved leader is on a definite mission.  That mission has nothing with America being exceptional or even normal.  That mission is to make sure the rich get richer, non-whites are kept out, and the rest of us struggle to survive.

Today our beloved leader will meet with the Leader of the Free World, Angela Merkel.  Doesn’t is sound weird that we will meet with the leader of the free world instead of the way it used to be?  But, that is what trump has given us.

But don’t worry.  Things will definitely get better.  Congress just passed a law that will allow veterans who suffer mental health problems to buy guns easier.  Since only 20 vets commit suicide per day, so let’s give people who should not have guns because they are a danger to themselves to add to the numbers.  How’s that for culling the surplus population and helping our vets with their health problems?

And, the shirts keep marching along!


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Day 126. 

As a nation we need to ask one question.  What type of country are we willing to become?  Ever since trump won the election, that question has been at the top of everything he has proposed.  And, in my opinion, he is looking for something that has not been America.

He has pitted race against race, religion against religion, and rich against poor.  We have always had problems in these areas, but he has ramped them up to a point where your race, your religion, and your wealth is the determining factor of whether you are a winner or a loser in his America.

He has tried to place a limited Muslim Ban on travel to the U.S. twice now, and he was rejected by the courts twice.  He claims that is all in the name of “keeping Americans safe” but he always runs his mouth and shows that it is really based on religion, which is unconstitutional.  His administration doesn’t help either with their rants about how Muslims are the root of all of our problems.

Then we have the so-called “Obamacare Repeal and Replace” legislation trying to get out of the house.  The CBO scored it and there are some good things and some bad thing for both sides.  The good for Republicans is it says that it will reduce the budget by $337 billion over ten years.  The bad for everybody is that 24 million people will lose their health care over the same 10 years.  The White House memo says that 26 million people will lose their health care over that 10 year period.

It is also becoming apparent even to Paul Ryan that the bill as written cannot get out of the House.  His problem is that in order to get out of the house he needs to take it even further right.  But, in order to get it through the Senate it needs to go further left.  It would seem that he has painted himself into a corner, and trump seems willing to let him blow in the wind over it as well.

Now we are seeing trump’s first budget.  This budget shows us just what kind of country trump wants us to have.  A country with no culture, no heritage, no sympathy, no decency, just more military and more bullets.

Naturally, there is the huge increase in defense spending and a huge increase in DHS budget for mass deportations and his Berlin Wall.  But there are still huge cuts for the Coast Guard, the TSA, and FEMA.

The Coast Guard is really our front line defense for our borders in terms of drug trafficking and people trafficking, as well as our port security.  The TSA is supposed to make us safe while flying  FEMA is the agency that responds to natural disasters, and in case you didn’t know, they are responsible to coordinate relief work in case of a wide-scale terrorist attack.  Who needs these agencies?  Apparently not trump.

But it gets even worse.  HUD will lose $3 Billion in its budget.  Number one on the hit parade from HUD will be a small program called “Meals on Wheels”.  All funding will go away to help old and disabled people get food delivered to them.  There will also be the elimination of the heating help funding for poor and older Americans.

The State Department will lose 28 percent of its budget.  The EPA will be hit hardest with a 31.4 percent cut to its budget.  What will be taken away is 3200 jobs and eliminate a new plan for tighter regulations on power plants, and “zero out” programs to clean up the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay.

Health and Human Services is facing a 16.2 percent cut.  These include cuts of $5.8 billion from the nearly $32 billion National Institutes of Health, the nation’s premier medical research agency.  The NIH’s budget has not kept up with inflation as it is, and now trump wants to cut it even more.  This is the agency the does research on diseases to help us defeat things like cancer or stop pandemics before they get going too bad.  But then, since fewer people will have health insurance, who needs research?

The Department of Labor is facing a 20 percent cut.  These cuts include eliminating a federal program designed to help people 55 and older get new jobs.  The Labor Department is also supposed to protect your safety at work.  OSHA will see a huge cut in its budge meaning fewer inspections of workplace safety.

The Commerce Department is facing a 12 percent cut.  One of the biggest will be at NOAA.  These cuts would eliminate more than $250 million in National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration grants, including a program that helps coastal communities adapt to climate change, deal with invasive species and maintain healthy water and fisheries. Also on the chopping block: the Economic Development Administration, which provides federal dollars to foster job creation and attract private investment; and the Minority Business Development Agency, which is dedicated to helping minority-owned business get off the ground and grow.

Other independent agencies will be cut off completely and be forced to shut down.  These include the Public Broadcasting Corporation, the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Chemical Safety Board, the United States Institute of Peace, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for National Community Service and the African Development Foundation. That foundation was established by Congress and provides seed money and other support to enterprises in some 20 countries on that continent.

I guess Big Bird is on the chopping block, again.  We really need to do away with things like education for young children and eliminating the arts for everyone else.  What kind of country needs those things?  And, chemical safety is definitely not needed since we can trust the Koch Brothers to protect us from harmful chemicals.

These are just some of the cuts that trump wants to make to the budget.  Of course, Republicans will tell you how much this budget will save money, but they will leave out their upcoming massive cut taxes, especially on the rich.  That means, even with these cuts, the deficit will grow even more than it is.

However, this also brings us back to the question I asked at the beginning.  What type of country are we willing to become?  All of these cuts affect the average person.  All of these cuts will have a negative impact on just about every American who is not in the top 2 percent of income brackets.

The Department of Education is also facing cuts and the biggest target is support for before and after school programs.  How is that helping the middle-class and the working poor?  It doesn’t and it will affect you directly.

There has always been a kind of pride in Americans and their willingness to help those in need.  Are we going to let that one trait of ours go away?  Are we going to stand by and let the unfortunate become poorer while the rich get richer?

Just how are the poor, the working poor, and the middle-class going to get ahead if they need to spend more income on things like expensive child care that will only keep them back?  As silly as some of you think, the Public Broadcasting Corporation helps educate children before they start school.  Are we going to handicap poor people’s children just to save a few dollars?

Before and after school programs allow parents to keep working to support their families and help keep kids off of the streets thus getting into trouble.  Should we really eliminate that funding as well?

The same people who want these cuts to take effect are the same people who claim that America was founded on “Christian Principles”.  Really?  These cuts to the social fabric of our nation are examples of “Christian Principles”?  If it is I am glad I am not Christian.

The health insurance argument really sums it up best.  The real question isn’t about liberalism v. conservatism.  It isn’t about right v. left.  It is about one simple question.  Is health care a right or a privilege?  If you believe it is a right that everyone deserves health care, then you must support universal health care because that is the only way people will actually have affordable health care coverage.

If you believe that it is a privilege then you fully support the Republican plan.  You are saying openly and defiantly that health care only belongs to those who can pay for it out-of-pocket.  If you cannot afford it out-of-pocket, you don’t deserve it.

If you believe that health care is a privilege, then you are surely in favor of all of these social cuts to the budget as well.  If health care is a privilege then so is clean air and water.  So is workplace safety.  So is being warned about weather events that may hurt or kill us.  So is medical research.

Those are some areas where these cuts are most felt.  The disadvantaged are being targeted so trump can have a massive military buildup.  They are being targeted so the rich can get more massive tax cuts.  Trump is telling his supporters who will be hardest hit, “screw you, I won”.

Of course it still needs to get through Congress.  We know that Democrats will be against most of these cuts, if not all of them.  We can only hope they are able to kill this budget before it kills too many of us.

If you believe that the disadvantaged should be abandoned and left to die, then trump is your president and the Republicans are your party.  But, I would suggest you stop your “Christian Principles” argument because you are not only lying to us, you are lying to yourself.  “What you do unto the least of you, you also do unto me”.

So far, I believe that this administration and Republican Controlled Congress want to abandon the disadvantaged.  They are only interested in the wealthy.  To me, that lacks all decency.  This budget is a snap shot of that lack of decency and moral fiber.  It is a perfect example of greed and a “me first” attitude.

So much for Christian Principles.

And, the shirts keep marching along.


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Day 124. 

The awaited CBO scoring of the Americans Without Health Care Act is in.  As expected, you lose.  The CBO score has one good news story for Republicans, it says that the bill will reduce the deficit by $337 billion over 10 years.  But, it also says that up to 24 million people will lose their insurance in the same 10 years.

The administration and Republicans are already calling the report false.  And, according to a memo that Politico saw from the White House, they are right.  According to that memo, the White House says that up to 26 million people will lose their insurance in the next 10 years.  See, the CBO is low on their numbers!

Here is an example of the plan.  Under this plan, if you are 55 to 64 years old, and you make about 30,000 per year, your premium will increase 700 percent and your coverage will go down from 87 percent to 65 percent.

It works this way.  Under the ACA a person in this group now pays $1,740 in premiums including the subsidies that they receive from the government.  Those subsidies will go away and instead that person will receive $4,000 in tax credits to purchase their insurance.  That means this person will be responsible to pay $14,640 in premiums.  So, if you are that person, half of you income will go to your health insurance, if you keep it.

The CBO report says that about 14 million people will lose their health insurance in the first year.  Again, that is because of the removal of the subsidies in helping to get insurance.  In the future, at the end of 2019 to be precise, Medicaid will be slashed big time.  In addition, growth in Medicaid will be capped and the money will be given to states in “block grants”.

The block grants will be based on the number of people on Medicaid, not the costs of health insurance needed for coverage.  And, with the caps on growth, that means more people will be tossed off of Medicaid.  You know, the program that trump said would not be cut.

There are a lot of other problems with this plan.  Planed Parenthood, which is the largest provider of birth control and pre-natal care for poor women will be cut from the Medicaid funding altogether.  Meaning they won’t be able to provide those services to poor women.

The CBO report says we can expect thousands of unwanted pregnancies due to these cuts.  It also means that people who need pre-natal care the most and can’t afford it won’t get it.  Meaning many more birth defects can be expected as well.  Plus, it will probably also result in more abortions.  Abortion rates are at 30 year lows because of the birth control that places like Planned Parenthood offer.  More birth control results in fewer unwanted pregnancies and fewer abortions.

The only reason that Republicans have targeted Planned Parenthood is that they offer abortion services.  They do not allow abortion services that are paid for through Medicaid since that would be against the law.  But, since they offer the services, Republicans say they can’t get any money from the government.

So, more unwanted pregnancies will result.  Fewer cancer screenings will result.  More women will be hurt by not receiving these services, just because Republicans simply don’t care about women’s health care needs.

Paul Ryan is actually happy as a lark over the report.  He naturally is claiming the deficit reduction is all that matters.  But, then, that is the whole purpose of this Americans Without Health Care Act.  To cut the deficit and to cut your health care coverage and to give the rich a bigger tax break.  As far as Ryan is concerned, mission accomplished.

It isn’t just the old who are going to get slammed by this bill either.  The middle-class will also get hurt.  It is estimated that the average increase in premiums will be over $1200.  So, unless you are making over 75,000 per year, you can expect your insurance coverage to go up.  Plus, it will cover less than the current law does.  That 87 percent is cut to 65 percent across the board.

There is also the very real possibility that if you are currently covered by an employer sponsored health insurance plan, you could lose it.  The new law takes away the employer mandate.  Under the ACA, if a company employed 50 people or more, they were required to provide health care coverage.  If this law passes, they will no longer be mandated to provide that coverage.

That means that any company who currently provides health insurance as part of their employment package can opt out and leave you hanging.  I really don’t expect a lot of companies to do that, but the possibility is there which means the numbers of people without insurance could be much higher than the CBO or even the White House currently expects.

Rural areas are going to be especially hard hit.  Whether or not you know this, it is in rural areas where opioid addiction is at its worse.  Just to give you a hint, there is a small town in West Virginia that has a total population of 400 people.  Three pharmaceutical companies sent over 4 million doses of opioid pills in just one year to that town.  A former State Senator is suing the companies over this abuse.

Some of the things that are being cut in the Americans Without Health Care Act is treatment for addiction.  Without Medicaid, people in rural areas won’t be able to afford treatment for their addiction.  And, addiction requires constant treatment, it doesn’t go away with one or two visits.

The result will be that poor people in rural areas will continue to die from opioid addiction and this plan will do nothing to help them.  Instead, it will make the problem even worse.

Here is another simple fact.  These poor rural people are the very people that voted for trump.  He promised them he would take care of them, and now he is backing a bill that will ultimately kill them.  That is not hyperbole either.  Without health care, people will die.

You also need to know something that will couple with this bill.  There is another bill going through the House that deals with so-called “wellness programs”.  These programs were designed to help keep costs of health care down by helping people live better healthier lives.

Under these plans in the ACA the program is voluntary.  They offer screening for things like cholesterol, high blood pressure, body fat, etc.  If you agree to the program, you can receive a lower rate on your premiums or other incentive awards.  Those awards are capped on dollar values.

The new bill that is sponsored by Virginia Foxx from the Soviet Socialist State of North Carolina goes even further.  It says that an employer can ask you to give them a DNA test.  She claims it is “voluntary” but if you refuse, the company will be allowed to charge you a basically unlimited amount of money for your premiums.  That is not “voluntary” it is “mandatory” unless you want to pay much more for your insurance.

Forget the idea that this program would be a violation of your privacy.  The bill strips that privacy right away from you when it comes to your health coverage.  If your DNA shows a genetic trait, what is going to keep the company from dropping you from the health plan?

As far as I am concerned, the covers have been thrown back to show what the Americans Without Health Care Act is all about.  It is a simple tax cut for the rich at the expense of the working poor and the old.  It is estimated that the top 2 percent of income earners will receive a whopping $250 billion tax cut over ten years from this bill alone.

The fact that their tax cut is being paid for by you losing your health care does not matter to Republicans or to trump.  The only thing that matters is that the rest of us be kept in our place.  The only thing that matters is that income inequality is to grow and grow.  If you die, so be it.  You don’t matter.

This especially comes true when you look at the cuts that the trump administration wants to make in the budget.  They want to cut research funds for the CDC.  They are rolling back environmental protections that will result in more illnesses.  They are cutting back on FEMA funds.  They are basically abandoning the American People.

And, the shirts keep marching along.


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Day 123. 

According to the Republicans in Congress and our beloved leader and his administration we will all be better off with our health coverage because they will let the “free market” be the driver for our coverage.  The problem is they are selling a myth.

Do you know just how many “free market” insurance systems are out there?  Do you know how many of them are actually working and keeping the costs down?  The answer to both questions is zero.  There are no “free market” insurance systems in existence anywhere in the world.

There is a reason for that.  The simple reason is that a “free market” system just won’t work to cover everyone.  The simple fact is that if you believe that everyone deserves access to inexpensive health care coverage, the free market is incapable of providing it.

The Republicans claim that their “free market” insurance system will be different.  They claim it will work, and they offer a lot of examples as to why it will work.  And, their arguments are all over the board.

For one, Ryan claims that the free market is the only way to go because “then a healthy young person won’t have to pay for the insurance of a sick older person”.  He basically doesn’t understand how insurance works.  Or more importantly, he doesn’t care how insurance works as long as his words sound good.

We all know that the only way to keep costs down for everyone is to have everyone purchase insurance.  That way, the younger healthy people get insurance and the costs they pay help keep down the costs for older people.  Then, when the healthy younger person becomes older and sicker, they also get lower costs from the younger healthy young people.

That is the only way that insurance can work.  Without the healthy young people in the insurance market, the insurance companies cannot afford to protect the older people who may have more coverage needs.  This is the same formula for car insurance also.

One of the main reasons that states require you to have car insurance is to help keep the costs down because safe drivers help pay for poor drivers.  That is a simple fact of life.

Another argument for this so-called repeal and replace from Republicans is that it “doesn’t matter how many people have coverage, but rather how many have access to their doctors”.  That is a perfect example of double-talk.  Everyone who has been without health coverage knows that you don’t have access to any doctor unless you have health insurance.

The costs of just seeing a doctor are astronomical for anyone without insurance.  Then, we have the case that hospitals are required by law to treat uninsured people who enter the emergency room.  Only, when they can’t pay for those services, the rest of us pay for it through higher health insurance premiums.  And, if the hospital has too many patients that cannot pay, they lose money and shut their doors.

Additionally they claim that young people who want to should be able to just purchase “catastrophic” insurance.  That means they will not have access to health care by visiting a doctor.  Preventative health care is not part of catastrophic insurance, only hospital stays.

Republicans also say that the reason that insurance premiums are so high is because they cannot sell insurance across state lines.  That is lie.  There is nothing to keep insurance companies from selling across lines right now.  Except, they must be in line with each states regulations regarding health insurance.

If they are going to pass laws that supersede state laws, aren’t they violating their highly touted “states rights” argument?  Wouldn’t they be interfering with each states’ right to determine health insurance requirements for their citizens?

Finally, you have the very real problem of people with pre-existing conditions.  Both Republicans and the administration says they won’t lose their health care.  They are going to be protected.  But how?  If young healthy people don’t have to purchase insurance, how can health insurance companies afford to cover those with pre-existing conditions.

The Republican idea is that they will be placed in high risk pools.  That on top of the plan to charge older people up to five times as much as they charge younger people.  If you place pre-existing condition people in high risk pools, the costs of their premiums will explode.  That isn’t making insurance cheaper, it is making it more expensive.

Republicans claim that the “free market” is the way to go.  By using the free market, they claim that premiums will go down and everyone will be able to afford health insurance.  That is a total fantasy.

We have seen the same “free market” and “more competition” argument used in other areas that was supposed to keep prices down.  The result was just the opposite.  When companies are given a free hand, they reduce their competition by merging with it.  Then, when they cut the competition down, they raise rates even higher.

We have seen it with phone companies, cable companies, and even health companies.  Remember the only reason that Aetna pulled out of the exchanges is because the government denied it permission to merge with Cigna.  The government said it would reduce competition and cause prices to go up.

Aetna threw a hissy fit and pulled out of the exchanges to “punish” the government.  That is the only reason they pulled out, not because they were losing money.  That is what the “free market” gives us.

Before the ACA was implemented, we probably had the closest thing to “free market” insurance in the world.  And, costs were high, and going up, and about 40 million people had no coverage.  Plus, hospitals in rural areas were shutting their doors at such an alarming rate that many areas of the country don’t have a hospital within 200 miles of people.

On the other hand, countries that have a one-payer system pay less for health costs.  We pay twice as much in health care costs than people in a single-payer system.  Why?  Because under such a system, everyone has health insurance.  The covered pool is much larger, and it makes it cheaper for everyone.

And, don’t swallow the lie that everyone in those countries are trying to get here for better coverage.  They aren’t.  I know a lot of Canadians for example, and none of them are willing to come here because of our “wonderful” health care coverage.  They are perfectly happy with their health coverage.

Additionally, people who live under single-payer coverage live longer than we do.  Their life expectancy is higher than our life expectancy.  That is because they have proper health coverage that helps prevent problems and/or catch serious problems earlier allowing proper treatment before it is too late.

It doesn’t matter if you are talking about health insurance or anything else.  The free market scheme simply does not work the way Republicans want you to think it does.  A total free market takes away all regulations that keep companies in line and keep them from forming monopolies that will hurt the consumers.  That is why we have anti-monopoly laws.  That is why we have laws regulating the financial markets and banking markets.

The old Robber Barons of the late 19th century and the early 20th century were able to create monopolies to make themselves rich.  Only, they didn’t take the rest of us along by raising wages or lowering prices.  The opposite happened.  They cut wages and raised prices.

That is what the Republicans want to happen to our health care insurance.  They want to let the insurance companies loose to do as they see fit.  If you lose your coverage, Republicans just don’t care.  If your premiums go way up, they simply don’t care.

The Americans Without Health Insurance Act is simply a tax cut for the rich and corporations.  The ACA relied on these taxes to pay for the health coverage of poor people and used these taxes to pay for the subsidies you may get.  Republicans want to eliminate those taxes so only the rich and health care companies see the positive results.

Ryan was even bragging on television the other day that he was cutting Medicaid massively with the biggest cuts in history.  How is that allowing poor people to have health insurance?  It doesn’t, it takes it away.  And, Paul Ryan is perfectly fine with that fact.

There is a huge difference between capitalism and a free market.  Capitalism works well, as it has in this country, but only if there are reins on it to keep it from going wild.  The free market on the other hand has no reins on it and they go wild to the detriment of everyone who isn’t rich already.

If you have been wondering why there isn’t a single “free market” health insurance system in the entire world, the answer is simple.  It won’t work!  Republicans know this simple fact, too.  That is why they want to keep “tax subsidies” in their plan to make you think they are helping.  That is why they want to keep pre-existing conditions covered.  They know that the “free market” system they are touting won’t work and will leave these people behind.

But, they are going to leave them behind anyway.  The poor will lose their health care because Medicaid expansion will be revoked.  Those with pre-existing conditions will be left behind because they won’t be able to afford the premiums in those “high risk pools’.  Everyone else will be left behind because in the first year, it is estimated that premiums will increase almost $1500.  And, by 2020 those premiums will increase another $2400.

In the meantime, companies like Aetna will be allowed to swallow up more and more of their competition and that means less competition not more that Republicans promise.  Meaning, premiums will go up even more than expected.  Less competition means higher prices.

Have you looked at your cable bill recently?  It keeps going up because of the “mergers” of cable companies reducing the competition.  That is what Republicans want to do to your health insurance.

The bottom line is that a total “free market” does not exist simply because it cannot work.  At least not for the average person.  The only way to reduce health care costs is to go to a system like Medicare for all.  Otherwise we will take the Republicans word and just piss into the wind as we get sicker and sicker because we can’t afford health insurance.

And, the shirts keep marching along.


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Day 119. 

With all of the hoopla going on about the Russian connections between trump’s administration a Russian officials, the Republicans in Congress have fired off several rounds in their war on the people of this country.  And, it is going to get much worse before it gets better.

There has been one battle cry from Republicans since the income tax was first introduced.  They say this is what has been going on.  Rich people are being “unfairly” taxed and the money is given to the rest of the lazy worthless people who live in the country for free.

You really have to understand where Republican priorities are.  According to their mantra, if you are rich, you are blessed and worked hard to get your money.  If you are not rich, you should be “thankful” that some rich guy has been nice enough to let you work at the factories that make him rich.  Even if the wages he pays you don’t let you support your family.

You are looking at everything the wrong way.  These rich people are our saviors.  If not for them, we would all be even poorer than we are.  They have all the power.  They have all the money,.  They have all the land.  We should be thankful that we are fortunate enough to live among such great people.

The way things are supposed to work in our country is that the rich, who are marvelous caring people, should pay little or no taxes.  Instead the rest of us should pay all of the taxes the country needs and just shut up.

The rest of us do not deserve the things that we already have.  We don’t deserve a secure retirement through Social Security even though we have paid taxes all of our lives to get it.  We don’t deserve health care when we are old through Medicare even though we paid taxes all through our lives to get it.  We don’t deserve health care at all.  If we can’t afford to pay ridiculous premiums so Insurance Company CEOs can get a bigger tax break, that is our problem.

We don’t deserve proper housing.  We don’t deserve food that has been inspected to make sure it isn’t bad and make us sick.  We don’t deserve clean water to drink or clean air to breathe.  We don’t deserve to have our children receive a good public education.  No, we don’t deserve any of that because we are just slime that is allowed to labor for the rich to get richer.

According to the Republican worldview, there are two kinds of people. The marvelous, wonderful rich people and everyone else.  Everyone else must be fully dependent on the rich letting us work for low wages and we should be very thankful for their generosity.

When it comes to the nation we live in, our rights are all dependent upon their view as well.  They say the government cannot get between a doctor and his patient, but it is okay for the government to get between the doctor and patient if that patient is a woman.  See, women are stupid ignorant forms of life that need a man to tell her what is right and wrong.  She needs that man to tell her how to live.  And she needs that man to tell her how to behave.

I know you think I am being facetious.  I am not, this is exactly the current Republican view of the world.  What Congress has been doing behind the curtain is very showing of this view they have.

Let’s examine what they have been up to.  The very first thing that they got their brainless hand to sign hurts first time home buyers.  Under President Obama, the rates for the Mortgage Insurance that is usually required for first time home buyers was to be reduced.  NO shouted Republicans.  They killed that decrease and instead raised it so people buying their first home will have to pay $500 more per year in home mortgage insurance costs.  Even if that is the drinking water for their workers.

The second thing they did was kill a clean water provision.  Mines have for hundreds of years polluted the water around the mines.  There was a rule that said that mines could no longer dump their byproducts into streams and rivers thus polluting the water.  The Republicans again shouted NO, and passed a law killing that rule.  So, now mine owners can pollute the water anytime they desire just to save a few bucks.

Then there was the rule that made it so brokers handling your retirement plan had to serve you and not his commissions.  They were required to let you know the disadvantages of buying a new stock, and get your permission.  Again a loud NO came screeching from the right.  So, now they passed another law that allows these brokers to simply change your portfolio without your consent even if that change will increase their commissions and hurts you.

Then we come to the proposed budget from the trump administration.  You can see there what the Republicans worldview really is.  This budget targets the vulnerable people in our country, as well as the middle-class with massive cuts while giving our best equipped, strongest, and best military in the world a $54 billion increase in their budget.  Plus, they need another $21 billion to build the Berlin Wall on the southern border.

How are these massive unnecessary increases gong to be paid for?  Well, you guessed it.  Out of your pocket.

The administration has decided that we don’t need a State Department anymore, or at least not one that works.  They are planning to slash at least 30 percent from the State Department’s budget including from USAID.  These programs that are being targeted are the very ones that help us maintain our leadership throughout the world, but since trump appears to be wanting to partner with Putin, we don’t need to hold on to that leadership role anymore.

The budget also calls for a 35 percent cut in the budget for the EPA.  Who the hell needs a department called the Environmental Protection Agency if you don’t care if the people get clear air and drinking water?  That is obviously an unnecessary agency.

We will also see a $6 billion cut to HUD.  These cuts will be made to cut back on major repairs to buildings.  Why should we fix buildings that people live in?  They are just poor schmucks and should be happy they have a roof over their heads.  Quality of life means nothing to them.  Hell, this works nicely for the wealthy.  Our own president made millions doing just this type of ignoring properties in private business.  The biggest cuts will hit the community planning and development grants, which have been used to clean up struggling neighborhoods.  That area will see a $4 billion cut.  Who needs to clean up struggling neighborhoods.  Rich people don’t go there.

Other cuts will include direct rental assistance payments — including Section 8 Housing and housing vouchers for homeless veterans — would be cut by at least $300 million, to $19.3 billion. Additionally, housing for the elderly — known as the Section 202 program — would be cut by $42 million, nearly 10 percent. Section 811 housing for people with disabilities would be cut by $29 million, nearly 20 percent. Money available for Native American housing block grants would fall by $150 million, more than 20 percent.

But, what is the problem here?  These are worthless people who don’t really contribute to the rich people’s pockets.  They merely take up space and breathe some of that clear air we won’t have very much longer anyway.

In addition, we are looking at deep cuts to the Coast Guard and TSA.  Two vital organizations that are part of our vital national security to keep us safe.  We are going to se massive cuts to FEMA.  We only need FEMA if there is a natural disaster or some major large-scale terrorist attack relief responses.  But, since there is no climate change, natural disasters won’t happen.  And, since the military will get a massive increase in their budget and we will have our marvelous Berlin Wall on the southern border, there won’t be any terrorist attacks either.

We are going to see huge cuts to the Department of Education, Health and Human services and much more.  The only things that won’t be cut are defense and ICE.  They will increase “hugely”.

Finally we have the Americans Without Health Care Act that is currently being rammed through Congress.  Under this plan, the likelihood of you losing your health care coverage is better than 50/50.  If you are one of those “takers” who get subsidies so you can afford to get health insurance, you will lose those subsides.  Instead you will get a smaller amount in “tax credits””, which you won’t be able to use either.

If you are someone who got coverage under expanded Medicaid, you can forget about having any coverage after 2020.  If you have pre-existing conditions, you can look forward to higher premiums and higher deductibles in those nice fancy “high risk pools” they want to set up.

If you are someone who is between age 55 and 65, you can expect a doubling of your premiums since the company will be able to charge you five times more than a younger person for the same coverage.  Plus, if you are making less than $75,000 per year your subsidies will decrease up to about $10,000 per year to purchase your health coverage.

If you live in a rural community and have less access to health insurance on the open market, you will get even fewer choices and the chances are your hospital will close down due to lack of funds.  With fewer people with health insurance, hospitals will have to go back to giving out free treatment thus losing money forcing them to shut the door for good, just like before the ACA was enacted and saved many of these hospitals.

And, if you are wondering, everyone loves this new plan.  Well except the American Medical Association, The American Hospital Association, and AARP.  But, so what, the Republicans didn’t ask their opinion to begin with so who cares what they think.  They are just the professionals and who knows more rich tax cut friendly Republicans or health care professionals?

Besides, what is most important in this bill is that the CEOs of the companies about to be allowed to rip you off will get a tax cut.  And, those nasty taxes that made the ACA possible without hurting the deficit will all go away too.  Meaning those who make over $250,000 will also get a tax cut.

We all know that tax cuts for those people are far more important than the average American scumbags having health care coverage.  How dare anyone think that their health is more important than the rich’s tax cuts?  You must be on some illegal drug to think that.

Paul Ryan said two things yesterday about the Americans Without Health Care Act.  First he said this was “sound, good conservative plan”.  Then he said “this plan is an act of mercy”.

And, according to the Republican worldview, he is absolutely correct.  This plan is a “good conservative” plan because it throws overboard everyone who isn’t rich.  And, it is “an act of mercy” because it ensures that more rich people get more tax cuts.  That is exactly what Republicans think their job is.

As you can see, you have been looking at the real world upside down.  The only people who matter are the rich.  You and me and the rest of America who slave away trying to make ends meet are just in the way of the rich.

We are all just supposed to fall in line and do what we are told by the rich.  If we dare to ask questions, or we dare to expect fair wages for our labor, or if we dare to consider ourselves equal to them, we need to be put back in our place.

So far, everything that the Republicans in Congress and what has been done by our beloved leader are intended to put us back in our place.  If you are willing to go along with this, I feel sorry for you.  If you are willing to allow this dehumanizing of our people to continue, then you need help.

All of this is just the tip if the iceberg that is heading towards our Titanic.  Soon you will hear about how Medicare should be voucherized and how Social Security should be prioritized.  The vouchers for Medicare won’t be nearly enough to purchase proper insurance for seniors, and the privatization of Social Security will only be set up to allow bigger commissions to crooked brokers.

Remember, these cuts are not just aimed at the poor. They are aimed at everyone who is not rich.  The massive tax cuts on the horizon are not intended to help your, they are aimed at the rich and corporations.

In the current Republican worldview, there are two classes of people.  The rich and everyone else.  Everyone else are on their own.  If they can’t make ends meet, it is their fault.  If they can’t get a good education it is their fault.  If they can’t afford health care coverage for themselves and their families, it is their fault.

We are all supposed to bow down to the oligarchs and thank their golden idol for their existence and great generosity for allowing us to work for slave wages.  That is what the Republican Party is giving us.  That is the world they want for themselves and us.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

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Day 117. 

Yesterday two major things happened.  First the Republicans unveiled their massive tax cut for the rich calling it “Obamacare Repeal”.  This wonderful plan of theirs will probably cut 4 million people from their health care, but it ensures that the CEOs of Health Insurance Companies get a tax cut.  We will talk about this so-called plan later in the week as it moves through committees.

The other thing that happened was trump unrolled his revised Muslim Ban.  All three puppets who announced the plan all mimicked trump’s claim that it is designed to keep us safe from terrorism.  But, they are lying.  It won’t really do anything.  Plus, the border wall won’t do anything either.

If you are wondering why, just look at the proposed budget that was also released over the last few days.  According to this proposed budget, DHS is due to receive an increase in funding of 43.6 billion dollars.  Sounds great, yes?

Problem is you have to look beyond the overall budget and look at what is really inside the numbers.  And, what is inside the numbers is very disturbing at best.

For example, did you know that there are three organizations in DHS, two of which are directly tied to national security and one that helps after natural disasters or major terrorist attacks?  The two involved in national security are the U.S. Coast Guard and the TSA.  They are involved in relief after natural disasters is FEMA.

Most people do not actually know what the Coast Guard does.  The Coast Guard is one of the five branches of the U.S. military.  However, it does far more than that.  Most people know that the Coast Guar is involved in search and rescue at sea.  They are also responsible for a myriad of law enforcement activities that usually go unnoticed.

The Coast Guard is involved in drug interdiction.  They catch billions of dollars of illicit drugs attempting to enter the country every year.  It is also responsible for port security.  At one point after 9/11 there were scare tactics about nuclear bombs coming into our ports and being detonated.  Well, it is the responsibility of the Coast Guard to help stop that from happening.

The Coast Guard is also responsible for intercepting masses of people from entering the country from the sea.  We have been involved in this operation long before trump even thought it was a problem.  All of the boats full of people coming from Latin and South America are intercepted by the Coast Guard.

We are also responsible to respond to oil pollution on the navigable waterways of the U.S.   When the big spill in the Gulf of Mexico happened, it was the Coast Guard that was responsible to get it cleaned up.  The Coast Guard is also involved in disaster relief after natural disasters.

Those are just a few of the missions that the 41,000 men and women of the Coast Guard are responsible to accomplish.  As you can see, it is vital to our national security and drug interdiction.  Actually, it is the only sea service involved in our national security at home and abroad.

To give you an example of what the Coast guard does, consider these facts.  In fiscal 2016, the Coast Guard intercepted 6,346 undocumented migrants, patrolled 3.4 million square nautical miles and removed 201 metric tons of cocaine and 52,613 pounds of marijuana worth an estimated $5.9 billion. It also responded to 35 oil and 17 hazardous substance incidents, analyzed and investigated more than 13,000 and 1,800 cyber events, respectively, and conducted 139 airborne intercept missions over the Washington area at the request of the Department of Defense.

In addition, the demand for Coast Guard assets to train Central American forces in interdiction efforts has increased 320 percent this year.  And, the Coast Guard is the only “law enforcement” agency that is also military, so no one else can do these jobs.

Our beloved leader said he was going to increase military spending.  But that only includes the four military branches under the Department of Defense.  He also wants to build his great Berlin Wall on the Southern Border and increase Customs Agents by 5,000 people and ICE by 10,000 people.

He needs to pay for all of this somehow.  So, he has decided that the Coast Guard doesn’t need more money, he has decided to cut their budget by 14 percent.  The overall budget for the Coast is 9.1 billion dollars.  If this budget passes it will be cut by $1.3 billion, to $7.8 billion.

Where this is really going to hurt is in the procurement of new equipment like ships and helicopters.  The Coast Guard needs new equipment, but under this budget, they will probably have to cut operations like air flight time and ship patrols.

Stephen Flynn, a retired Coast Guard commander who is director of the Global Resilience Institute at Northeastern University said:  “As you harden the land border you open up the maritime border.  It makes no sense. You are going to have this balloon effect.”

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft in an interview with Politico, before the proposed cuts were revealed said:  “Our intelligence is extremely good on the movement of drugs.  And where we’re really challenged is we just don’t have enough resources — enough ships, planes — to target all the events. So on the best of days we could probably target maybe three out of the 10 known events.”

Rep Hunter, (R.-CA) who chairs the Coast Guard subcommittee said even more.

The OMB treats the Coast Guard like a lunch fund to fund their other priorities in DHS.  Congress funds (through appropriations) and we’re not doing what they are doing.  They are off in la-la land.  If they want to be irrelevant they are off to a good start.

So, you can see the Coast Guard is really wasting money and their budget needs to be cut.  And, it gets even better.  In addition to the cuts to the Coast guard, this budget also plans to cut 11 percent from the TSA.

The TSA will be the recipient of a $500 million reduction that includes cutting $65 million for behavioral detection officers and $55 million for local law enforcement grants to airports. On the other hand, it proposes a $1 increase to the TSA security fee in fiscal 2018 to generate an extra $470 million in revenue.

Do you remember the several people who walked through security at JFK just the other week and three of them set off the metal detectors and were never stopped?  These cuts will do nothing to improve incidents like that from happening again.

How is cutting 500 million dollars from the airport security agency going to make our air travel safer?  It won’t.  It will make it more dangerous.  The TSA has struggled through its existence.  It has been mostly proficient, but it only takes one missed passenger to cause real havoc.

Instead of improving airport security and helping the Coast Guard secure our harbors, the trump administration is more interested in headline grabbing things like the Berlin Wall and are therefore are making us less safe.

Now that you know just how unsafe trump is making us, let’s look at FEMA.  FEMA will get a $370 million cut, which includes a 25 percent reduction, or $280 million, in the agency’s program for countering violent extremism and preparations for a wide-scale terrorist attack, as well as a 40 percent cut of $80 million for FEMA’s port transit security grant program.

As you can see, if there happens to be another wide-scale terrorist attack, FEMA won’t be able to efficiently respond to that attack.  All in the name of national security!

This is just another example of how much trump does not know about how things work.  He doesn’t know the vital role that the Coast Guard does is securing our borders.  He doesn’t think that TSA does anything to help us be safe while flying.  And, he doesn’t know that if there is a major attack that FEMA is responsible to coordinate response to that attack.

He only knows that he promised to build a stupid wall and that is what he is going to do.  He only knows that he promised to remove 11 million people from the country, and that is what he is going to do.  Those will get him headlines, these other agencies won’t.

Airport security?  Who needs it.  Port security?  Not a problem.  People running at sea?  No problem.  Responding to a major terrorist attack?  Who needs it.

If Congress goes along with these cuts to vital agencies that help keep us safe and respond to disasters, we will be far less safe than before trump was elected.  His wall will only force people from coming ashore from sea.  Without proper screening at our airports, more terrorists will be able to attack our planes in mid-flight.  And, if a major terrorist attack does happen, FEMA won’t be able to coordinate an efficient response.

I promised that I would keep an eye out for stupid things like this.  You probably have not heard about these cuts before.  And, if trump and his cronies have their way, you would never hear about them.  They expose the big lie that trump is making us safer.

The travel ban has been great propaganda for terrorists to use in recruiting new terrorists.  These cuts will make it easier for them to gain access to our country and make us less safe.  Tell me again how trump is doing such a great job.  That is another lie!

And, the shirts keep marching along.


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