Monday, June 26, 2017

Why Is This Even Necessary?

What Rational and Sane American Would Go to North Korea? 

From the Washington Post

"Death of U-Va. student could lead to North Korea travel ban

Otto Warmbier, 22, was in a coma when he was returned to his family in Ohio last week after being held in North Korea for nearly a year and a half. His death intensified political reaction to his detention, with outraged critics calling it “murder.”

Now let's be perfectly clear.  Mr. Warmbier's death is solely at the hands of the North Koreans.  He is in no way responsible.  But going forward any American who travels to North Korea, or Iran or Syria or a myriad of other places is doing so at their peril.  Don't go, these people want to kill you.  

Sen. McConnell Explains Secrecy Behind Senate Health Care Bill

“Americans Are Just Too Stupid to Understand This” He Did Not Say

Editors note:  Because the Senate leader did not explain why he kept the American people from knowing what was in a health care bill that literally affected their life and death, the DPE thought he would put words in the Senator’s mouth and explain things.

Warsaw, Ky (FNNNN)  Kentucky Senator and Majority leader Mitch McConnell today said that the reason he kept the public from knowing the details of the Senate’s health care legislation was that “The average citizen doesn’t understand this stuff.  We in the Senate, that is we Republicans not the other guys, have full knowledge about what is good for the wealthy and we were elected to make sure those people did not suffer from paying taxes to help middle and lower income families have decent care.”

McConnell went on to say that “Just because a person is sick or injured doesn’t mean they should get treatment.  The Constitution doesn’t say that promoting the general welfare means regular people shouldn’t suffer from curable diseases.  It doesn’t say children must get to see doctors and nurses when they need to and it certainly doesn’t say that billionaires should pay taxes, and if they have to the Constitution expressly prohibits those taxes helping non-billionaires”  When asked about the billionaire reference and where that was in the Constitution McConnell replied that “Just because something is not stated explicitly in the Constitution doesn’t mean we can’t infer it if that furthers our agenda of helping wealthy people get even more money”.

The Senator concluded his remarks by arguing that “Our coal miners have lived for decades with sub par health due to lack of safety concerns by coal mine owners and there is no reason the rest of the nation shouldn’t follow the example set by the great state of Kentucky.”

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Republican Tennessee Leads in Making 2 Year College Free

Civic Minded Conservatives Can Benefit the Nation

This Forum and a lot of other sources look upon modern so-called conservatism as a danger to the health and prosperity of the nation.  But this is not a foregone conclusion and in Tennessee Republicans who control the state have done a great thing.  They have extended the right of young adults for education to providing for a free 2 year diploma.

Candace Ogilvie, a counselor at Antioch High School in south Nashville, assists students and parents with the Tennessee Promise application process. CreditJoe Buglewicz for The New York Times

SMYRNA, Tenn. — A high school assembly changed Nicole-Lynn Riel’s life.
In the fall of 2014, as Ms. Riel, a senior, was applying for jobs at Red Lobster, J. C. Penney and Target, a speaker came to her school to talk about a new state program, Tennessee Promise, that would pay the tuition for all students at the state’s community colleges.
When the speaker said school would be free for everyone, Ms. Riel said, she “perked up and said, ‘What?’”
This month, Ms. Riel graduated from Motlow State Community College here, and she will soon start working toward her bachelor’s degree at a four-year school.
Yep, that is correct. And the program has benefited the entire community.

Enrollment at community and technology colleges for first-time freshmen has climbed by 30 percent. And a majority of Tennessee Promise students who began at a community college in the fall of 2015 were still in school this year, compared with fewer than half of those who were not Promise recipients, according to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.

Of course national conservatives will recoil in horror at such a program, it costs money and does not benefit the most wealthy of citizens.  But now there is hope that decency and compassion will overcome greed and hate.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

On Thursday Night: Republicans and Democrats Come Together to Play Baseball

On Friday Morning:  Republican Senators Continued Their Secret Hidden Assault on Health Care and Exclude Democrats and the Public From Any Involvement or Knowledge

It Was Back to Politics as Usual - Destroying Democracy One Day at a Time

Friday, June 23, 2017

Notice To Republican Voters: Yes, Electing Trumpie is Hazardous to Your Health and Well Being

Just Don’t Get Sick GOP’ers

The Center for Disease Control seems to be one of the few government institutions that works.  Or at least it did.  From the WaPo.

Nearly 700 vacancies at CDC because of Trump administration’s hiring freeze

What does this mean.  Oh this.

Nearly 700 positions are vacant at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention because of a continuing freeze on hiring that officials and researchers say affects programs supporting local and state public health emergency readiness, infectious disease control and chronic disease prevention.
The same restriction remains in place throughout the Health and Human Services Department despite the lifting of a government-wide hiring freeze last month. At the National Institutes of Health, staff say clinical work, patient care and recruitment are suffering.

Yep,  can’t wait for all those ‘more righteous than thou’ Trump voters to get sick and find out that no, they cannot get help from the Feds.  But they won’t worry, after all the wealthy get a huge tax cut.

California Sen. Diane Feinstein Considering Running for Re-election


To see why the current status of the Democratic party in the U. S. is one of almost unconsciousness one need only consider the fact that 84 year old Senator Diane Feinstein of California may run for a new term. If she does then there is another six years where young dynamic leadership is blocked from moving into important electoral positions.

Sen. Feinstein would not be running to advance an agenda.  She would noy be leading the charge for progressive legislation.  She would be running purely to continue the ego trip of being a United States Senator.  Ms. Feinstein is wealthy, and wealth buys a lot of nice things, but wealth cannot buy political status.  Only an election can accomplish that.  So Sen. Feinstein may hold onto her Senate seat solely for the perks of being a Senator.  The progressive agenda, that’s secondary.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Single Quote Sums Up the Sorry State of the Democratic Party

Bonus Quote of the Day

“We no longer have a party caucus capable of riding this wave. We have 80-year-old leaders and 90-year-old ranking members. This isn’t a party. It’s a giant assisted living center. Complete with field trips, gym, dining room and attendants.”
— A Democratic operative, quoted by Politico.

Thanks Taegan Goddard

Conservative Health Care Policy is Killing Would-Be Mothers

In Texas in Particular

The United States has the most private sector providers of health care than any other major nation.  The result is that health care is expensive and spotty.  Furthermore, state policies which deny access to quality care by low income groups abound where Republicans control state government

In 2005, 23 US mothers per 100000 live births died from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth. In 2015, that number rose to 25. In the United Kingdom, the number was less than 9. In Canada, it was less than 7.
Very few wealthy countries saw increases over those years. Many poorer countries, including Iran and Romania, saw declines. But here in the United States, things got worse.

And the poster child for poor material care, Texas.

Last year, a study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology found that the maternal mortality rate in the United States had increased by more than 25% from 2000 to 2014. This trend differed by state, however. Although California had shown some declines, Texas had seen significant increases.’

Texas in particular has been the focus of much of the news on maternal mortality in the last few years. From 2011 to 2014, the rate doubled. Although we lack good data to tell us why, many have postulated that changes to family planning in the state coincided with this increase. In 2013, for example about half of the state’s clinics that provided abortion in addition to other reproductive health services were closed because of regulations passed against them.

 In 2011, the family-planning budget was slashed in an attempt to defund Planned Parenthood. Many clinics closed and more were forced to reduce their services.

Family planning matters. About 50% of pregnancies in the United States are unplanned and might lack preventive care that properly planned-for pregnancies might.

Thanks Rick Perry and the conservatives who rule Texas, thanks.

A Second Tragedy in the High Rise Fire in Britain

Flammable Panels Were Used to Save 2 Pounds per Panel

The fire of a high rise in England killed as many as 58 people.  And maybe it could have been prevented.

In the wake of the fire, it has emerged that the panels fitted to the outside of Grenfell Tower during a substantial refurbishment in 2011 were the cheaper flammable version, that cost £22 each, compared to the “fire-resistant” version which cost £24 each. The total saving from using the non fire-resistant panels has been estimated at around £6,000. There are also concerns that the addition of the panels to the outside of the building created a “chimney effect” sending flames up the outside of the building, spreading the fire faster.

No one knows why or how this happened.  But if it turns out this was a failure of the regulatory process of the state then those who want to destroy governmental oversight need to take a good long look at themselves.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Ohio Lt. Gov. Has Two Sons Who Are Opioid Addicts – And She Wants to Severely Cut Medicaid Treatment for Addiction

A Republican, How Did You Know?

The Dayton News has a moving story about the horror of drug addiction.  The family of Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor has been fighting this horrific condition for years.

Both sons – Joe, 26, and Michael, 23, — are now doing well, according to Taylor, though one remains in drug treatment. But every step on the road into addiction, treatment and recovery was marked with worry, anxiety and terror, she said.
There were so many traumatic moments, Taylor can’t even isolate one single event that stands out.

But what is newsworthy is the aspiring candidate for Governor’s take on Medicaid.  First of all addiction is a huge problem in Ohio.

Ohio ranks number one in the nation for unintentional drug overdoses. Despite investing almost $1 billion a year to fight drug abuse and addiction, accidental overdoses claimed 3,050 lives in Ohio in 2015, up 20.5 percent over 2014. Preliminary data from the Ohio Department of Health shows 3,835 fatalities in 2016 — a 25.7 percent hike over 2015.

And Ms. Taylor has no plan to help things other than meaningless platitudes and generalities.

Despite her personal story and six-year service in the Kasich administration, Taylor does not yet have a detailed plan on how she would fight the opioid epidemic if she is elected governor.
“We need a comprehensive solution and it’s going to involve the feds. It’s going to involve everybody,” she said. “We need law enforcement, we need community activists, we need churches and faith-based groups. A comprehensive solution is going to be just that.”

But she does have a firm opinion on Medicaid, and Medicaid plays a key role in treatment.

A centerpiece to Kasich’s approach, however, is opposed by Taylor. Kasich initiated an expansion of Medicaid, made possible by Obamacare, and has been accepting federal funds to serve an additional 715,000 low-income Ohioans, including roughly 215,000 with drug abuse and addiction issues.

Ms. Taylor undoubtedly has the resources to pay for treatment for his sons, maybe they are even covered by the government provided group health care plan she probably gets.  But as far as anyone else is concerned, those who cannot pay, her attitude is pretty Republican mainstream.  Screw You.

The Jury is Still Out on That "Stupid" Thing

From Taegan Goddard's Wonderful Site

Democracy in Action, Kremlin Style in the U. S.Senate

Senate GOP Won’t Release Draft of Health Care Bill

“Senate Republicans are on track to finish writing their draft health care bill this evening, but have no plans to publicly release the bill,” Axios reports.
Said one of the aides: “We aren’t stupid.”

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Trump Apparently Thinks He Can Pressure Mueller – Trump is Wrong

A Decorated Veteran Will Not Be Intimidated by an Orange Haired Person Who Sat Out Military Service

The WaPo and NYT have stories about how Donnie thinks he can threaten Mueller with firing and thus get the former FBI Director to give Trump a favorable outcome on the various investigations currently being undertaken.

A person who spoke with Trump on Tuesday told the New York Times that the president was pleased by the intentional ambiguity of his position on firing Robert S. Mueller as special counsel, “and thinks the possibility of being fired will focus the veteran prosecutor on delivering what the president desires most: a blanket public exoneration.”

Really, the President of the United States can be this clueless?  Look at Mueller’s background.

Mueller, 72, earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star with Valor for his gallantry in Vietnam before devoting most of the rest of his life to public service. Trump, 71, avoided military service by claiming a medical deferment for “heel spurs,” and he’s said that his “personal Vietnam” was avoiding sexually-transmitted diseases while sleeping around in New York. “I feel like a great and very brave solider," the president once told Howard Stern.

Decorated Vietnam War Vet vs sufferer of ‘heel spurs’.  Not exactly a fair fight.

Trump Administration Seeks Delay in Supreme Court Hearing on Travel Ban – We Guess that Immediate Dire Threat Never Existed

Trumpie Shoots Himself in the Foot and Other Body Parts

Remember how the Muslim travel ban was necessary to respond to an immediate threat, that terrorists were streaming into the nation.  Well first of all the administration did not appeal the first court ruling against the ban and instead drafted a new ban.  And now instead of hurrying before the Supreme Court the Trumpster is saying wait a minute, no big deal, no big hurry.

The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to give the Trump administration more time to explain why the high court should take up the case of the president’s embattled travel ban.

In a letter sent earlier in the day, Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall proposed a change to the expected briefing schedule to allow it to formulate a response to an opinion issued Monday by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Justice Department's maneuver risks delaying Supreme Court consideration of the case until October, inviting administration critics to question whether the sense of urgency that inspired Trump's travel ban is shared by the lawyers who are defending it.

So once again the Trump people are exposed for what they are.  And everybody knows what they are.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Donnie Celebrates Father’s Day Trying to Remember the Names of His Children

And Other Fake, Funny and Almost Real News

  1. On Twitter Sunday Donald said he appreciated his children Eric, Don Jr., Ivanka and ‘that other one’.  When asked about getting only three names Press Secretary said that ‘this was 75% and that was much more than any other President had ever done on Father’s Day. 

  1. A secret decoder ring was found which allows the holder to get into the meetings the Republican Senators are having to craft a health care/tax cut for the wealthy bill.  The ring apparently does not work as the finder attended several meetings and reported they were pure gibberish.

  1. In order to promote harmony in the House the Speaker Paul Ryan invited Nancy Pelosi over for dinner.  “Just bring anything you like and you can heat it up in the microwave” he apparently did not say, adding “I’ll have my girl set it up with your girl”.

  1. The Republican controlled Senate passed a bill that gives the Congress control over the lifting of sanctions against Russia in defiance of Trump. The Senate based its vote on the certainty that Secretary of State Tillerson would convince the House not to go along, and instead let Russia name the next head of the Republican National Committee.

  1. Trump announced he was being investigated for firing James Comey, then his attorney said he was not being investigated but took it back after the Washington Post said he was being investigated.  “If the Post says it, it must be true” Trump’s attorney said, “I mean, they got everything else right”.

  1. In a poll just released 2% of American voters said that Trump was violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution and 98% said they thought the word ‘emoluments’ was a misspelling of the word monuments.

  1. O. J. Simpson will be let out of jail early to search the Trump golf courses to find the person who decided to fire James Comey.  “I won’t rest even if I have to play every course” Simpson did not say.

Trump’s Ignorance on Air Travel Leads Him to the Wrong Solution

Infrastructure Week  Kicked Off with Privatizing Air Traffic Control


Trump wants to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure but he doesn’t want to spend any money because his highest priority is tax cuts for people like Trump, that is wealthy people.  So his first step will be to try and put Air Traffic Control into a private company, something that does nothing to address the problems of air travel.

President Trump will seek to put a spotlight on his vows to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system and spur $1 trillion in new investment in roads, waterways and other infrastructure with a weeklong series of events starting Monday at the White House. . . .

The president has invited executives from major airlines to join him as he kicks off the week with one of his more controversial plans: spinning off the air traffic control functions of the Federal Aviation Administration to a nonprofit corporation.

Note the disconnect here.  The goal is to invest in roads, waterways etc; the action is to change management of air traffic. 

Now there is plenty wrong with air travel, and the air traffic system could certainly use investment in new systems.  But the main problem is greedy monopolistic airlines that make air travel excruciatingly painful and insufficient airport resources.  But fixing that would mean more anti-trust regulation and more spending, two things Republicans don’t want to do.  And Trump of course flies private, none of the horrors of air travel have ever affected him.

So the solution is to spend nothing, make a big PR splash and for Trump, hopefully take the spotlight away from what everyone expects will be devastating new info about his abuses.  

White Supremacy – the Ugly Side of America – Still Lives

Does a Trump Administration Promote This or Discourage This?

A great success story is the state of Virginia.  The home of the Confederacy and bastion of school segregation up until the 1970’s the state is now a moderately progressive tolerant home to a diverse population and strong economy.  But that doesn’t mean that leftover racism does not rear its ugly head.

The gathering of several dozen protesters in Charlottesville, Va., was led by Richard B. Spencer, a prominent white supremacist, who posted pictures and video from the gathering to social media that showed a phalanx of demonstrators holding Confederate battle flags and a banner proclaiming, “We will not be replaced.” Their chants, some of which were captured on video, included “Russia is our friend” and the Nazi-era slogan “blood and soil.”

The good news is that this event was news in the sense that it was unusual.  The bad news, these people are flourishing in a world where racism is becoming more acceptable.  The worst news, under Trump and his minions this sort of thing is likely to grow and prosper.  They almost won the Republican primary for Governor.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Betsy DeVos Won’t Say That Private Schools That Discriminate Will be Denied Federal Funds

And other snarky comments on the news.

A lot of news that didn’t happen.

  1. Ed Sec Betsy (I am a billionaire, I don’t do public education) said in a hearing that it would be up to states to decide if federal law which prohibits discrimination would be enforced.  She went on not to say “I grew up in a prejudiced and bigoted household and had the benefit of private education.  If I had gone to public schools I might have not been able to develop my sense of privilege and my biases.  Many parents today are decent, compassionate and fair minded people so if we expect kids to become bigoted and prejudiced adults they are going to have to learn it in private schools like I did.”

  1. Melania Trump apparently doesn’t want Donnie to touch her.  We feel your pain Mrs. Trump, boy do we feel it.

  1. Speaking of Donnie, apparently he told the Pope that he would not forget what the Pope told  him.  In a surprising development what the Pope actually said was not leaked to the press because, as the White House staff pointed out, Trump forgot what it was the Pope said.

  1. Ben Carson, the first Secretary of Housing dedicated to eliminating decent housing for low income families has said that poverty is a state of mind.  So it does no good to help these people, they just want to be poor.

  1. The NYT has reported that Trump will disregard his pledge to donate his foreign profits to charity.  Trump is reported to be furious this story is out there because as he is saying in private  he doesn’t donate any profits from his domestic businesses either so what’s the big deal.  As for going back on an earlier promise, Trump did not say, “C’mon, that’s what I do.  Haven’t  you people figured that out yet?”

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Administration Moves to Forbid Senate to Regulate Sanctions on Russia

Sec. State Wants to Reward Russia

In a rare bi-partisan agreement the Senate wants to make sure the Trumpie doesn’t give away the store to Russia.  The Senate is ready to pass a law making it much more difficult for Donnie to kiss up to Russia and relax penalties that the Obama folks place on the Kremlin for all sorts of bad things.  But the Secretary of State, obviously seeking to suck up to Donnie doesn’t want that, and the House, formerly a bastion of a hard line on Russia may go along.

As the Senate gears up to pass a bipartisan deal to punish Russia and restrict President Donald Trump from any attempt to ease sanctions, his administration and House Republicans are signaling that the agreement has a shaky future.

Senators in both parties have urged Trump to avoid leveling any veto threat on the Russia sanctions deal that's on track for passage Wednesday, which sets up a congressional review process if the president decides to ease or remove penalties against Moscow.

But Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday that the agreement to get tough on Russia would shut off communications with Moscow that he'd like to keep open for now.

Gosh, how did Tillerson run Exxon/Mobil with his spine removed?

Update:  The Senate passed the measure, hugely, but the House will probably kill it, don't want to hurt Putie's feelings, do we?

Friday, June 16, 2017

Gingrich and Trump Are Attacking Robert Mueller

What did you boys do during the Vietnam War?

Here from Wikipedia is what the guy you are denigrating did.

"Mueller enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1968, attending officer candidate school, Army Ranger School and Army jump school.[11] He then served as an officer leading a rifle platoon of the 3rd Marine Division during the Vietnam War;[3] he eventually became aide-de-camp to 3rd Marine Division's commanding general.[11] He received the Bronze Star, two Commendation Medals, the Purple Heart and the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry"

Trump Administration Enters Negotiations to Kill More Coal Miners

Ok Not Their Intent but It Will be the Result

Coal mine safety regulations have been largely gutted by mine operators, and several years ago the result was an accident that killed a whole lot of miners and, get this, actually sent the company President to jail for almost one whole year.  The regulations were strengthened up President Obama, who unlike the current President actually was doing something to help miners.

Among other changes, the MSHA rule approved in 2013 would stop mine operators from using appeals of safety citations to avoid tougher enforcement and do away with MSHA warning letters that gave companies additional time to improve before facing enforcement.” Prior to the April 2010 explosion at Upper Big Branch, mine owner Massey Energy had avoided being classified as a pattern violator by appealing hundreds of violations, clogging up the government’s appeals system, and because of MSHA inaction the agency later blamed on a computer programming error.

So the mine owners sued.    And now the owners and the Trump administration are going to try and settle the lawsuit.

“Rather than concurrently litigating and negotiating a possible settlement of the dispute, the parties are open to negotiating a mutually agreeable resolution that could avoid further litigation,” said the joint motion, filed earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Columbus.
The joint filing indicated that lawyers for the industry and the government had met on May 1 and agreed that settlement negotiations “were sufficiently promising to warrant a stay of this litigation.”
“The parties have since discussed their commitment to a structured series of conferences to consider a negotiated resolution,’ the joint filing said.
Murray Energy, whose CEO, Bob Murray, has been an outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump and the elimination of Obama-era regulations he says are harming the coal industry, is pleased that the litigation has been stayed so that a settlement can be negotiated, a spokesman said."

Anybody want to guess how this is going to turn out?  Anybody?  And it is important because the coal mining states now under Republican control are abdicating their safety regulating job and leaving it up to the Feds.  So as soon as the suit is settled in favor of coal mine owner, the killing of coal miners can continue.