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Day 128. 

Republicans claim they want “school choice” which is really a way for the government to subsidize private schools of their choice.  However, there is a case before the Supreme Court that shows just how limited they really want “school choice” to be in the case of disabled children.  And, believe it or not, Gorsuch is at the heart of that case.

The case is Endrew F v. Douglas County School District.  This case will determine the standards under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA).  According to what took place during the hearing, Gorsuch’s potential colleagues are mystified about a term that was used in a lower court ruling against the plaintiff.  That term is “minimally more than de minimis”.

Judge Ruth Ginsberg asked “who invented it”?  Well the answer is Neil Gorsuch.  Here s a little breakdown of the case.

The family of an autistic child (Luke) sued the school district about 10 years ago.  The case came about because the school district refused to reimburse the family due to their having to send their child to a specialized residential school for autistic children.  Such private school placements, paid for by the public school district, are allowable under the IDEA in limited circumstances.

It’s not that the school district wasn’t doing what it could to meet Luke’s educational needs. As Gorsuch put it, his “life away from school during the same time paints a much different picture.” Berthoud Elementary, where Luke attended second grade, didn’t seem equipped to prepare him for home life.

“Luke was unevenly tempered, often displaying inappropriate and sometimes violent behavior at home and in public places such as grocery stores and restaurants,” Gorsuch wrote. “He developed various sleep problems ― going to bed at odd hours, waking up frequently at night, and refusing to sleep in a bed. Luke also developed a habit of intentionally spreading his nighttime bowel movements around his bedroom. In addition, although Luke became toilet trained at school by the time he was in first grade, he was not able to transfer this skill to the home and other settings away from school.”

Based on this record, a hearing officer, an administrative judge and a federal district judge agreed in three separate decisions that the school district needed to reimburse Luke’s parents for a private school placement ― which the family’s lawyer Robinson and the family Perkins both said made a world of difference for Luke.

This is all in line with IDEA so disabled children get the specialized education they need.  In most cases, the school district just pays the fees.  But in this case, the school district in Colorado decided it needn’t pay the parents for their expenses.

The case wound up with a three judge panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and Gorsuch was one of those judges.  Despite the rulings of the three different hearings that said the a school district must pay the parents, Gorsuch didn’t see it that way.

The fact is that in a very short period of time, this specialized residential school made a world of difference to Luke and his life.  Despite this, Gorsuch led the court in overturning the three previous decisions by claiming that the IDEA benefits available to children like Luke were “limited in scope.”

“We sympathize with Luke’s family and do not question the enormous burdens they face,” he wrote in the decision, which effectively forced the Perkins family to pay for their son’s education out-of-pocket. “Our job, however, is to apply the law as Congress has written it and the Supreme Court has interpreted it.”

Gorsuch added that the statute only requires schools to create an individual educational plan that allows a student to achieve “some progress” toward the goals identified in that plan. Or in the judge’s more telling phrase, “merely more than de minimis” progress.

This is an example of just how Gorsuch looks at people with disabilities.  How could any law passed by Congress would have such a trivial standard?  That is the question that faces the Supreme Court.  The case from 1982 Board of Education v. Rowley, there is no mention of the term “merely more than de minimis”.  The word “merely” was pulled out of thin air by Gorsuch in his ruling in this case.

As a matter of fact, it was the same court that embraced the term “more than de minimis in a case in 1996.  It was Gorsuch that added the word “merely” in 2008.

This case goes way beyond just this one case.  We have a Secretary of Education that has no idea what the IDEA law entails.  Now, we have a nominee to the Supreme Court that doesn’t think the school district should help disabled children beyond “merely more than de minimis”.

You can also see that all of the fight over “school choice” does not include children with disabilities.  It only covers those who want to destroy public schools and have the government pay for their tuition at private schools.

Luke is now doing very well.  He is currently 22 and had aged out of the IDEA program.  He still lives in Massachusetts. He participates in a work program, goes shopping, eats at restaurants and engages in other activities that likely wouldn’t have been possible without the special school.  Basically, he has a good life that would not have been available without proper education.

What would have happened to him if his parents did not have the means to send him to this specialized school?  What if he had been born to poor people?  He would not have gotten this education and would not have developed.  Gorsuch thinks that the dollars are more important than this education and wants to deny people like Luke a chance.

Before I say this, I must confess that I am a grandfather of an autistic grandson.  However, this goes beyond just that.  So, to me, it is a great example of why Neil Gorsuch is not qualified to sit on the Supreme Court.  I have very easy standard for the Supreme Court.  The Constitution is designed to protect people.  So, any Judge who puts dollars ahead of people does not deserve to be on the court.  Gorsuch’s ruling in this case clearly puts dollars ahead of this person.

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!

 

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.

 

Day 125. 

We are now seeing the fourth step in dismantling our democracy.  That is a simple process of sowing seeds of distrust and just lie your ass off.  The object is to take your enemies and your friends and have them fight between each other.  But, more importantly, have your friends fight between each other.

You may think that sounds crazy, but getting your so-called friends to fight each other allows you to come in and end the fights with some form of crackdown.  That way the people think you are a savior because you tamped down opposition on both sides.

I say we are starting to see this step because of the Americans Without Health Care Act.  This one bill is showing that trump is trying to divide and conquer his own side in order to rule properly.

Here is how things work under step four.  First, you make unproven allegations that make someone else seem like a devil.  Then you make comments about how great a bill may be and then turn your back on it by claiming it isn’t your bill when it runs into trouble.

You make sure your own staff is fighting each other so you can claim some “devious deep state” exists from your predecessor who is out to get you.  You hire people to fill important positions by telling them they have the right to hire and fire people and then tell them no, “I will only make those decisions”.

The object is to keep everyone in the permanent state of confusion.  If you can achieve that, then you have a leg up on everyone else.  By keeping the populace confused about what is going on, you can pretend that you did not start it, but you are the only one who can fix it.

Let’s look at just how trump has put his plan in place:

First, he has the entire White House staff afraid.  It has been reported over and over that the knives are out and everyone is looking to either survive or assassinate the career of their rivals in the office.

There are staffers who are using encryption to talk to each other via email or twitter.  They are afraid to speak up in meetings because they are afraid to be labeled “traitors” to the president or his agenda.  It has been reported that once they get home they turn off their government cell phones because they are afraid they are being monitored or tracked.

Normally I would take all of that with a grain of salt.  But, these reports keep coming out, and they can only be coming from employees who are in this situation.  Then, you have that nice instance when Sean Spicer called in his staff and inspected their cell phones looking for leakers.

I don’t know about you, but that seems like a very toxic environment to work in.  How can anyone expect people to actually do their jobs if they are afraid of being monitored and/or tracked by their cell phones.  With this kind of toxic environment, power is coalesced into a few hands and everyone else is just puppets that are basically expendable if things go bad.

Second, if you hire someone, you need to tell him or her that they can hire their people.  Then, you put the kabosh on that promise once they try to exercise that role.  It was reported that McMaster was hired by trump to be National Security Advisor with the promise he can bring in his own people.  Wrong.

McMaster informed Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the National Security Council’s senior director for intelligence programs, that he’d be moving to another position on Friday, according to reports.  He made that decision after several career veterans complained that the 30-year-old wasn’t measuring up.

So, Cohen-Watnick went to Bannon and Kushner to complain.  Cohen-Watnick apparently formed the alliance with Bannon and Kushner during the transition.  When Bannon and Kushner told trump on Sunday about the move, trump vetoed it and told Cohen-Watnick he was staying put.

To show just where things stand, it was Mike Flynn who brought Cohen-Watnick into the transition team to begin with.  So, McMaster who is supposed to be head of the National Security Team apparently has to clear his employee decisions with Bannon and Kushner.

This tells me that there is no chain-of-command in trump’s white house, except trump, Bannon, and Kushner.  That is a problem, especially for all of the generals he has hired into key positions.  Chain-of-command is very important to military people.  It allows them to do their job.  Meddling in that prohibits them from doing their job and politicizes the entire Intelligence Apparatus.

Third, throw out unsubstantiated accusations against anyone and expect someone else to “prove” you are correct.  Only, when those “others” actually try to show you are right or wrong, use delaying tactics and don’t cooperate with them.

This is playing out in front of us right now.  Our beloved leader claimed that President Obama “tapped my wires” and called for an investigation.  There were already a few investigations into the Russian interference into our elections, and they said they would check it out.

The House Intelligence Committee sent a letter to the DOJ to get any information they have on any wire taps.  The DOJ has not given them any information, but said they need more time.  Sen. Graham sent a letter to the FBI requesting any paperwork on wire taps and/or wire tap requests.  The FBI has yet to give them any information.

Finding the paperwork for any wire taps is very easy.  All you do is go to the computer, pull it up, and print it out.  There isn’t investigative techniques needed to produce the paperwork.  But, if you don’t have such paperwork, then you make it look like something nefarious by delaying or refusing to produce the non-evidence.  That allows the false story to continue circulating and keeping attention away from the real investigation of the Russian hacking.

Or, you make false claims about 3 to 5 million “illegal aliens” voting in the last election, calling for an investigation, and then doing nothing.  That is just to stir up your base and let more false stories float around.  It is even better when you ignore even your own party’s election officials who say openly you are lying.  Truth doesn’t matter, just confusion.

Fourth, you run on a promise to “repeal and replace” the health care law.  You change your story several times about what you want the “replacement” to be.  You first say it needs to be repealed and make premiums cheaper for everyone.  Then you say that you won’t touch Medicaid.  Then you say you want health care for everyone.  Then you say you only want premiums to go down.

The House leadership believes you intend to sign a bill that repeals the ACA.  So, they put together a bill that does that, and even gives tax cuts to people like you.  You immediately come out and call it a “great piece of legislation”.  Then when it starts to go bad, you start to blame someone else.

When people start calling it trumpcare, you complain that it isn’t trumpcare, but rather Ryancare.  You still optically say you want it passed, even put on a phony charm show to prove you want it passed.  Only, you keep stepping further away from it.  You even say, “I am open to negotiation” on the bill when your House leader says this “is the bill”.

Sow more distrust between your leaders in Congress and the ultra-conservatives to make it seem like it has nothing to do with you.  All you are trying to do is repeal what you call a bad bill and replace it with something better.  If it turns out to be worse and it still passes, you simply blame the Republicans for putting a bad bill on your desk.  If it doesn’t pass you simply blame the Democrats for not supporting such a wonderful bill.

Sow the seed of confusion.  Don’t let anyone know where you really stand on the bill.  Just let everyone else fight it out, and then blame everyone else for its failure.  That way you can “prove” to your followers that only you can fix the problems and we don’t need that stupid group of people called the U.S. Congress.  So, let’s just shut it down.

Fifth, of course you need to divide the people even more.  You look at things going on around the country and pick and choose the items that work best for you.  Only, you don’t really denounce anything, just call it bad.

You complain that we shouldn’t be making bomb threats to Jewish Centers or defacing Jewish cemeteries, but ignore the Mosques being burned to the ground.  Nor, do you denounce firmly anyone who is involved in any of these activities.  You simple say something opaque like you “should knock it off”.

When full-throated supporters like Steve King of Iowa make overtly racist comments, you simply stay quiet.  You allow your racist surrogates to try to tell us that King didn’t really mean what he said and we are taking things out of context.  Even when King doubles and triples down on his comments.

You pit people against each other.  That way, when violence does erupt, you can crack down on the side you don’t like and say you are just enforcing “law and order”.  To sow distrust, simply prop up those who think like you and put down those who oppose you.  It doesn’t even have to be open.  You can do it quietly with subtle hints to those who are looking for a fight.

Sixth, unleash law enforcement on immigrants and citizens alike.  You see this with the massive “crackdowns” on undocumented immigrants being rounded up and deported.  What you really haven’t seen is the crackdown on the borders.

Only, this crackdown isn’t against just immigrants.  It is against U.S. civilians.  A very little know fact is that current law says that your rights under the 4th Amendment are not valid at the borders.  As a result, the government is doing everything it can to gather information on its citizens.

As an example, if you live near the Canadian border and decide to drive across and have dinner at your favorite Canadian restaurant, you could be in for a rude awakening when you return.  Customs can demand that you hand over your cell phone along with your passwords so they can check the information in your emails and/or contact lists.

If you refuse to hand over the information, you will be taken into custody until you do.  This began after 9/11 in order to try to find terrorists before they entered the country.  But, citizens were more or less left alone.  Not anymore.

In the month of February alone, more people, mostly U.S. Citizens were ordered to hand over their cell phones or laptops than during the entire year of 2015.  The devices are taken into a separate room from you and the officers do not return for about a half hour.  It is obvious to most people, your information is being downloaded from your device.

The argument by the administration is that they are just trying to “keep us safe”.  Sorry, but I don’t believe it.  If they are just looking to “keep us safe” why do they have to go into a separate room?  It is obvious they are downloading your personal information for their use.

Since the majority of people being ordered to hand over their phones are of the “non-white” population, more seeds of distrust are being sown.  People seeing these activities are seeing the profiling of others to make everyone else distrust them.  Obviously they have “something to hide” or are obviously “suspicious” and are suspected of being terrorists.

We are well into the fourth step of dismantling our democracy.  Distrust and hate is on the rise.  People are pointing fingers at each other, even in the White House.  The chain-of-command in government agencies are being taken away from the heads of those departments.  Lies are becoming the new “truths”.  Confusion reigns supreme.

We are seeing friends fighting against each other.  We are seeing friends fighting against enemies.  We are seeing people being pit against each other.  We are seeing races being pit against each other.  We are seeing religions being pit against each other.  We are seeing the deliberate attempt to create chaos.

Unless there is chaos, you cannot “crackdown” on your opposition.  You need chaos and violence in the streets in order to fully take control.  With chaos and violence you can claim to be the “savior” that will restore “law and order”.  Only it won’t be the “law and order” of a democracy, it will be the “law and order” of a totalitarian dictatorship.

All of this chaos and we are just two months into this administration.   It is obviously going to get worse as time goes by.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

Day 121. 

The trump administration has put all of us in a conundrum.  That is basically this.  Can we trust anything they say anymore?  I am not asking this rhetorically either.  They have shown over and over that they will lie to the American people with so much ease that it is frightening.

How can we believe the president if he tells us that some other country, say North Korea, is beginning to cross over the border with South Korea?  Will we ask for proof first, or just go to war as he wants?

This lying goes throughout the administration.  We have all accused Kellyanne Conway of lying.  We have accused the president, Sean Spicer, and Mike Flynn of all lying.  Now we also know that Mike Pence is a liar as well.  The latest proof of their willingness to openly lie is the Mike Flynn being a “foreign agent” during the campaign, the transition, and while he was National Security Advisor.

The administration is trying to claim that they “did know that Flynn was lobbying for Turkey” something that the facts prove is a lie.  Mike Pence said yesterday on Fox New of Flynn registering as a foreign agent retroactively that was the first time he heard of it.

Spicer during the press briefing yesterday said that Flynn had kept his lobbying secret and that no one in the administration knew about it.  He said:

We trust that employees are filling out forms in the legal manner, we advise them to do the proper and legal thing, and we expect every employee to follow the law.

He lied when he said those words.  We know that all of this is a lie from Mike Pence and Sean Spicer because on Nov. 18, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) sent a letter to Mike Pence, then the vice president-elect, detailing concerns about Flynn’s lobbying on behalf of a foreign government’s interests. Flynn even consulted a lawyer, who called a member of Trump’s transition team to disclose Flynn’s work for his Turkish client.

So, how can Pence claim that the other day was the first time he heard about Flynn’s activities on behalf of a foreign country?  The letter was addressed to him. Is he expecting us to believe that he doesn’t read the letters he receives from member of Congress?

They just won’t give up on lying, even when they know they will get caught in their lies.  They will go to any lengths to distance themselves from their self-made conflicts.

At one point yesterday Spicer, when asked about Flynn again, accused the reporter of trying to “impugn” the reputation of Flynn.  His response was:

What dealings are you referring to, the fact that he had a client?  He was also head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, unbelievably qualified impeccable credentials. What is exactly are you getting at?

Flynn was also fired from his position as head of the DIA because of his horrible leadership abilities.  The entire DIA staff was almost in open rebellion because of a lack of his management skills.

What this all boils down to is that the administration knew that Flynn was lobbying on behalf of a foreign government.  While he was doing so, he sat in on Intelligence Briefings during the campaign and the transition, and while in office.  If that sounds like something that should never happen, you are correct.  It should never have happened!

Spicer seemed to end his comments on the matter by saying:

At the end of the day, when [Trump] found out that Gen. Flynn betrayed the trust of the vice president, he let him go.  The president has high standards for everyone that works in the administration.

Then he added:  “I can’t tell you that every single person has done everything.”

This also shows just how frighteningly incompetent this administration is.  When you are looking to hire someone for a serious position in our government, you are supposed to do something called “vetting”.  If you properly “vet” someone, you will discover just what they have been up to.

I hate WalMart.  But, even WalMart does a better job of screening their future employees than this administration does.  This administration is absolutely pathetic.  If they cannot properly vet those they wish to serve in the government, how can we trust them to safely analyze the intelligence they are receiving to keep us safe?  We can’t.

When you couple their incompetence with their constant lying, we cannot believe a single thing they say.  And, that is the really frightening thing about this administration.

We are now faced with a government that we cannot trust.  Think about that for a minute.  We cannot trust the president, vice-president, or any other member of the administration to tell us the truth about anything.

Then, to make matters worse, Republican leaders in Congress let them get away with all of their lies without batting an eye or opening their mouths.  These are not good signs for our country.

It has been said that “the truth shall set you free”.  I guess trump and his administration don’t believe in that old adage.  They believe that the best way to totalitarian government is to lie like hell every time they open their mouths.

The supporters of trump are about to find out just how much he lied to them, too.  When the Americans Without Health Insurance Act passes, and they lose their health coverage, they may finally understand.  When the retired coal miners in West Virginia lose their pensions and health care because Republicans won’t extend their coverage, maybe they will finally understand.

Our beloved leader and his gang of thieves have lied to the very people who got him elected, and they are openly defying them.  They are showing with each passing day that they lied to these people.  Let’s hope these people wake up and see that they were lied to.

I never thought that we would ever have a government controlled by one party that we cannot trust.  Unfortunately, that is what we have.  Talk about torture!

And, the shirts keep marching along.