Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Trump tanks in Poll, tell a disinterested true believer.

A new Quinnipiac poll finds President Trump with a negative 38% to 55% job approval rating, his worst net score since he took office.
  • 55% to 40% say he is not honest
  • 55% to 42% say he does not have good leadership skills
  • 53% to 44% say he does not care about average Americans
  • 63% to 33% say he is not level-headed
  • 64% to 32% say he is a strong person
  • 58% to 38% say he is intelligent
  • 60% to 37% say he does not share their values
Said pollster Tim Malloy: “President Trump’s popularity is sinking like a rock. He gets slammed on honesty, empathy, level headedness and the ability to unite. And two of his strong points, leadership and intelligence, are sinking to new lows. This is a terrible survey one month in.”

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Silent no longer, Doctors and Major Medical Publications get behind Single Payer!!!

While the U.S. is now on the verge of instituting a fully privatized health care system based on profits and limiting corporate risks, doctors nationwide are speaking out:
In a dramatic show of physician support for making a decisive break with the private insurance model of financing medical care - 2,231 physicians called today for the creation of a publicly financed, single-payer national health program that would cover all Americans for all medically necessary care. The proposal was drafted by a blue-ribbon panel of 39 leading physicians. A 2008 survey of physicians found that 59 percent supported "legislation to establish national health insurance," up from 49 percent five years earlier.
Doctors are now on the side of universal health care, big time. Why? Check out the following statement from "Dr. Adam Gaffney, a Boston-based pulmonary disease and critical care specialist, lead author of a recent editorial and co-chair of the Working Group that produced their proposal:"
"Caring relationships are increasingly taking a back seat to the financial prerogatives of insurance firms, corporate providers, and Big Pharma. Our patients are suffering and our profession is being degraded and disfigured by these mercenary interests."
But with Paul Ryan's repeal and replace fiasco, we're going in the opposite direction, walking away from the following benefits actually supported by doctors:
Under the national health program (NHP) outlined by the physicians:
1. Patients could choose to go to any doctor and hospital. Most hospitals and clinics would remain privately owned and operated, receiving a budget from the NHP to cover all operating costs. 

2. Physicians could continue to practice on a fee-for-service basis, or receive salaries from group practices, hospitals or clinics.

3. The program would be paid for by combining current sources of government health spending into a single fund with modest new taxes that would be fully offset by reductions in premiums and out-of-pocket spending. Co-pays and deductibles would be eliminated.

4. The single-payer program would save about $500 billion annually by eliminating the high overhead and profits of insurance firms, and the massive paperwork they inflict on hospitals and doctors.

5. The administrative savings of the streamlined system would fully offset the costs of covering the uninsured and upgraded coverage for everyone else, e.g. full coverage of prescription drugs, dental care and long-term care. Savings would also be redirected to currently underfunded health priorities, particularly public health.

6. The "single payer" would be in a strong position to negotiate lower prices for medications and other medical supplies, yielding additional savings and reining in costs.
This puts the people and doctors in the drivers seat. In an editorial supporting single payer....

Proposals floated by Republican leaders won't achieve President Trump's campaign promises of more coverage, better benefits, and lower costs, but a single-payer reform would, according to a commentary published today in Annals of Internal Medicine, one of the nation's most prestigious and widely cited medical journals.

In today's Annals commentary, Longtime health policy experts Drs. Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein warn that the proposals would slash Medicaid spending for the poor, shift the ACA's subsidies from the near-poor to wealthier Americans, and replace Medicare with a voucher program, even as they would cut Medicare's funding and raise the program's eligibility age.
Point by point, single payer continues to save money and free people and businesses from crippling bills:
Single-payer reform could provide comprehensive first-dollar coverage to all Americans within the current budgetary envelope because of vast savings on health care bureaucracy and profits.

1. $504 billion annually on health care paperwork and profits, including $220 billion on insurance overhead

2. $150 billion in hospital billing and administration

3. $75 billion doctors' billing and paperwork. They estimate that an additional $113 billion could be saved each year by hard bargaining with drug companies over prices.

4. The savings would cover the cost of expanding insurance to the 26 million who remain uninsured despite the ACA, "plugging the gaps in existing coverage.

5. Abolishing copayments and deductibles.

6. Covering such services as dental and long-term care that many policies exclude."
The lead author of the commentary, Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, said: "We're wasting hundreds of billions of health care dollars on insurance paperwork and profits. Private insurers take more than 12 cents of every premium dollar for their overhead and profit, as compared to just over 2 cents in Medicare. Meanwhile, 26 million are still uninsured and millions more with coverage can't afford care.

Dr. David Himmelstein, the senior author, said, “Polls show that most Americans—including most people who want the ACA repealed, and even a strong minority of Republicans - want single-payer reform.

And doctors are crying out for such reform. The Annals of Internal Medicine is one of the most respected and traditional medical journals. Their willingness to publish a call for single payer signals that it's a mainstream idea in our profession."

Ryan to Plunder Seniors life savings Shopping in Medicare "Marketplace."

Even after debating the ins and outs of the Affordable Care Act for six years, reporters have done little to bone up on the subject. They still aren't asking the right questions of our politically motivated free market reformers.

Turning Medicare into a Shopping Experience? There's an odd dynamic here; while Rep. Paul Ryan has called the health care marketplace a disaster, he wants to turn Medicare into a health care marketplace...with subsidies.

Even worse, Ryan actually thinks seniors should be shoppers, ignoring cognitive aging, age-related financial vulnerability, dementia and Alzheimer disease.

I truly believe Ryan isn't just fully aware of the problem, but is purposely targeting seniors hard earned money and possessions for insurer plundering in the marketplace.

ALERT: What about Cognitive Aging and Age-Associated Financial Vulnerability, or AAFV?
Cognitive Aging: Part of the aging process is cognitive aging as it relates to driving safety and financial decision-making, (which the latter) would be problematic shopping for health care. As a person ages there is a gradual, but marked change in these cognitive functions, which is referred to as "cognitive aging." Cognitive aging is not a disease or a level of impairment—it is a lifelong process that affects everyone.
But the bigger problem comes with Age-Associated Financial Vulnerability (AAFV), something reporters should be asking guys like Paul Ryan about, especially when they blissfully talk about seniors shopping for insurance every year.
Age-Associated Financial Vulnerability: Managing money can be difficult at any age. For older adults, changes in physical condition and life circumstances can lead to changes for the worse in financial behavior, putting their well-being in danger. It's a pattern of financial behavior that places an older adult at substantial risk for a considerable loss of resources such that dramatic changes in quality of life would result ... a condition different from dementia, which already is recognized as putting older adults at risk of causing themselves financial harm.

1. Other potential contributing factors may include cognitive changes, such as a lessened ability to discern a person's trustworthiness, and psychosocial problems, including loneliness or depression.

2. In addition, the finance industry has identified older adults as an untapped market, which can lead to them being overwhelmed by the "dizzying array of financial products and services," according to Han and co-author Mark Lachs, MD, MPH, professor of medicine and co-chief of geriatrics and gerontology at Weill Medical College in New York.

"In my discussions with Dr. Lachs about our experiences with the heart-breaking effects of financial vulnerability among our older patients, we decided that naming the problem may be a useful first step to addressing the issue."- Duke Han, PhD, co-author of the study.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Trump's Authoritarian State and Regime Change..."we have at most a year to defend the Republic." -Prof. Timothy Snyder

The following interview about Trump can be easily applied to Scott Walker, because both have vilified their opposition, especially the media and protesters. The authoritarian lust for power has never been more obvious or frightening:
In an interview with German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, Yale University history professor Timothy Snyder said the threat posed by President Donald Trump means “we have at most a year to defend the Republic” and highlighted the role chief strategist Stephen Bannon is playing in that threat.

In addition, Snyder explains that Bannon’s use of the term “opposition” when describing the media is an indicator of talk about an “authoritarian state” because it suggests some type of regime change. When you say that the press is the opposition, than you are advocating a regime change in the United States. When I am a Republican and say the Democrats are the opposition, we talk about our system. If I say the government is one party and the press is the opposition, then I talk about an authoritarian state. This is regime change. 

During the campaign Trump used the slogan “America First” and then was informed that this was the name of a movement that tried to prevent the United States from fighting Nazi Germany and was associated with nativists and white supremacists. He claimed then not to have known that. But in the inaugural address he made “America First” his central theme, and now he can’t say that he doesn’t know what it means.

And of course Bannon knows what it means. America First is precisely the conjuration of this alternative America of the 1930s where Charles Lindbergh is the hero. This inaugural address reeked of the 1930s. They don’t get that a “disruption” can actually destroy much of what they take for granted. They have no notion what it means to destroy the state and how their lives would look like if the rule of law would no longer exist. I find it frightening that people who talk about the destruction of the American state are now in charge of the American state.

In the February 7 interview, Snyder commented on Bannon’s interaction with the media specifically, noting that he “says in essence that he misleads the public and the media deliberately” and that Bannon’s goal is “the extinction of the whole political system.”

The idea is to marginalize the people who actually represent the core values of the Republic. The point is to bring down the Republic. You can disagree with them. but once you say they have no right to protest or start lying about them, you are in effect saying: We want a regime where this is not possible anymore.

“ When the president says that it means that the executive branch is engaged in regime change towards an authoritarian regime without the rule of law. You are getting people used to this transition, you are inviting them into the process by asking them to have contempt for their fellow citizens who are defending the Republic. You are also seducing people into a world of permanent internet lying and [away] from their own experiences with other people.

Getting out to protest, this is something real and I would say something patriotic. Part of the new authoritarianism is to get people to prefer fiction and inaction to reality and action. People sit in their chairs, read the tweet and repeat the clichés; “yes, they are thugs” instead of “it is normal to get out in the streets for what you believe.” He is trying to teach people a new behavior: You just sit right where you are, read what I say and nod your head. That is the psychology of regime change.

Trump's Enemy the News Media...then we're talking about an authoritarian state. "This is regime change."

From the early iterations of the Trump campaign, the press was always the enemy, the liars filtering Trump's message to deceive and destroy.

With the help of conservative online news rag Breitbart, Steve Bannon, and a resentful base of emotional basket cases, the established news media is about to lose its relevancy.

In a few last gasps, CNN and Fox News tried and failed to even get even a passing nod of sympathy. The video clip below features Chris Wallace calling out Reince Priebus, who after whining about anonymous sources, used of an anonymous source in an answer. But that was different? Wallace doesn't let up for second:

Yale University History Professor Timothy Snyder wrote a great piece on Trump and Steve Bannon. The following is just a short relevant passage that relates to "the media is the enemy of the American people.":
In an interview with German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, Yale University history professor Timothy Snyder said the threat posed by President Donald Trump means “we have at most a year to defend the Republic” and highlighted the role chief strategist Stephen Bannon is playing in that threat.

In addition, Snyder explains that Bannon’s use of the term “opposition” when describing the media is an indicator of talk about an “authoritarian state” because it suggests some type of regime change. When you say that the press is the opposition, than you are advocating a regime change in the United States. When I am a Republican and say the Democrats are the opposition, we talk about our system. If I say the government is one party and the press is the opposition, then I talk about an authoritarian state. This is regime change.

McCain attacks Trump in speech to World.

John McCain maybe the guy who gave us Sarah Palin, but he also gave us this incredible take down speech of Trump, a must see and proud moment his fellow Republicans will ignore completely:
During a speech at the Munich Security Conference in Germany, the Republican senator from Arizona delivered a pointed and striking point-by-point takedown of Trump's worldview and brand of nationalism. McCain didn't mention Trump's name once, but he didn't have to.

In his speech, McCain suggested the Western world is uniquely imperiled this year — even more so than when Barack Obama was president — and proceeded to question whether it will even survive.

“In recent years, this question would invite accusations of hyperbole and alarmism; not this year. If ever there were a time to treat this question with a deadly seriousness, it is now.”

"[The founders of the Munich conference] would be alarmed by an increasing turn away from universal values and toward old ties of blood and race and sectarianism.”

“They would be alarmed by the hardening resentment we see towards immigrants and refugees and minority groups -- especially Muslims.”

“They would be alarmed by the growing inability -- and even unwillingness -- to separate truth from lies.”

"They would be alarmed that more and more of our fellow citizens seem to be flirting with authoritarianism and romanticizing it as our moral equivalent."
McCain concluded, by taking on Trump's low bar for world leadership:
Two weeks ago, you may recall, Trump suggested the United States didn't exactly have the moral high ground on Russia. Asked by Fox News host Bill O'Reilly about wanting good relations with a “killer” like Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump demurred.
“There are a lot of killers. We have a lot of killers. Well, you think our country is so innocent?
McCain then concluded with another direct shot at Trump.
“I refuse to accept that our values are morally equivalent to those of our adversaries,” he said. “I am a proud, unapologetic believer in the West, and I believe we must always, always stand up for it. For if we do not, who will?
McCain also defended the press:

Texas Republicans responsible; 600 women a year died from complications related to pregnancy, after clinics closed.

The Republican Party keeps racking up more and more American fatalities in the U.S. each year, without a care, and it looks like they're about to double down under Trump. What a plan. It's what keeps people on edge, ignored, resentful and feeling left behind by their government.

Republicans must know their policies ends up killing hundreds of thousands of people each year, but they can't help themselves. People are dying prematurely through free market policies; air pollution, loose safety standards, medical malpractice, unaffordable health care, and "live by the gun, die by the gun" policies. Not exactly pro-life.

Add another deadly policy that might go national to their list:
Republican-led budget cuts that decimated the ranks of Texas’s reproductive healthcare clinics.
Texas Republicans aren't panicking either over the following frightening statistics. Yawn.
Texas has highest maternal mortality rate in developed world, study finds: As the Republican-led state legislature has slashed funding to reproductive healthcare clinics, the maternal mortality rate doubled over just a two-year period.

From 2000 to the end of 2010, Texas’s estimated maternal mortality rate hovered between 17.7 and 18.6 per 100,000 births. But after 2010, that rate had leaped to 33 deaths per 100,000, and in 2014 it was 35.8. Between 2010 and 2014, more than 600 women died for reasons related to their pregnancies.
We're talking about the U.S. here:
The finding comes from a report, appearing in the September issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, that the maternal mortality rate in the United States increased between 2000 and 2014, even while the rest of the world succeeded in reducing its rate. Excluding California, where maternal mortality declined, and Texas, where it surged, the estimated number of maternal deaths per 100,000 births rose to 23.8 in 2014 from 18.8 in 2000 – or about 27%.

But the report singled out Texas for special concern, saying the doubling of mortality rates in a two-year period was hard to explain “in the absence of war, natural disaster, or severe economic upheaval”.
Similar to proposals now in other states, Texas was there first with women's health clinic cuts:
In 2011, just as the spike began, the Texas state legislature cut $73.6m from the state’s family planning budget of $111.5m. The two-thirds cut forced more than 80 family planning clinics to shut down across the state. The remaining clinics managed to provide services – such as low-cost or free birth control, cancer screenings and well-woman exams – to only half as many women as before.

At the same time, Texas eliminated all Planned Parenthood clinics – whether or not they provided abortion services – from the state program that provides poor women with preventive healthcare. Previously, Planned Parenthood clinics in Texas offered cancer screenings and contraception to more than 130,000 women.

After "Day without Immigrants" protests, conservative Teacher comments begs the question; still want them in our classrooms?

The "Day without Immigrants" protests didn't go over well with a few conservative teachers in a predominantly Latino Southern California school district the other day, and now they've been put on administrative leave.  

This whole thing reminded me of the argument we're having today. In Wisconsin, Republicans like Rep. Robin Vos want more conservative viewpoints in our schools (college in this case), to counter the supposed liberal ideas kids get from their teachers.
"I challenge the UW System this school year to find more ways, beyond a two-page policy statement, to ensure that all perspectives, including conservative ones, are present in the classroom."
Fair enough, let's take a look at what conservative teachers like social science teacher Geoffrey Greer, art teacher Robin Riggle, science teachers Allen Umbarger and Chuck Baugh, agriculture teacher Rhonda Fuller, and Patricia Crawford, a guidance coordinator, would quietly bring to the classroom:

WaPo: Six high school employees ... were placed on administrative leave after they posted social-media comments insulting students who skipped classes to participate in the “Day Without Immigrants” protest. The employees said classes were quieter and grades higher with the students gone. 
Why do conservatives hate protesting so much, the most fundamental First Amendment right people have in this country? Do they really believe protesters are paid by millionaires, take orders from "union thugs," or are trying to "intimidate" elected officials instead of sending a message of opposition to policy?
Cesar Jimenez, who said he graduated from Rubidoux High School in 2014, told The Washington Post the teachers should not have dismissed the students’ decision to join the nationwide boycott as a mere excuse to skip classes. Those students aren’t just kids; rather, they’re teenagers who are developing their own political views and wanted their voices to be heard.

“Condensing it down to just looking for an excuse to get drunk and be lazy, that’s just irresponsible on his part (Greer). That undermines the whole motive because it’s not about that. It’s about bringing attention to the fact that there are initiatives in our current administration that are pushing against immigration. These issues need to be brought to light.”

Trembling Trump frightened by "...what's happening last night in Sweden!"

I couldn't resist posting this. It's a small but yugely significant point about Trump's hyperbolic rhetoric, it's all bullshit. Here's the headline...:
Sweden has no idea what Trump meant when he said, ‘You look at what’s happening … in Sweden:’ But if you believe President Trump, something happened in Sweden on Friday night that deserved the attention of the world. However, nobody knows what that might be so far, least the Swedes.
Swedish citizens were stumped:

Without hesitation, Trump delivered this completely made up..."you look at what's happening last night in Sweden...who would believe this..." no we wouldn't believe this lunacy:
Trump: “We’ve got to keep our country safe. You look at what’s happening in Germany. You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this?”

Former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt wrote on Twitter:
The White House already faced criticism this month after it included an incident in the Swedish city of Malmö on its list of allegedly underreported attacks. In October, arson caused smoke damage at an Iraqi community center in Malmö. A judge, however, decided that there was no evidence for treating the incident as a “terror attack” — months before the White House released the list that referred to the incident.

"What's happening in Sweden" has had it's upside...

Saturday, February 18, 2017

DeVos backs Online Charter Schools despite lousy record!!! Parents know better?

It's kind of an interesting dynamic; Scott Walker says he wants to spend money on public education, a smaller amount than he originally cut, knowing he'll never get it from the legislature. Aw shucks, he tried, right? 

But it's the money taxpayers are losing just under the radar with virtual online schools: 
The Nation: In Wisconsin … in March of 2011, while busting the teachers unions in his state, Walker lifted the cap on virtual schools and removed the program’s income requirements. State Representative Robin Vos, the Wisconsin state chair for ALEC, sponsored the bill codifying Walker’s radical expansion of online, for-profit schools. Vos’s bill not only lifts the cap but also makes new, for-profit virtual charters easier to establish.
The latest study, the K-12 Academic Report, took a look at Wisconsin Virtual Academy's scores, compared to the states public schools. Here's the graph:

Horrible? Yes. So imagine how embarrassed the guy pushing virtual schools must be now, when voters realize those "evil" teachers were right all along when they tried to stop the movement:
Bob Reber, President of the Wisconsin Coalition of Virtual School Families, said “Despite their millions of dollars, dozens of lawyers and and army of lobbyists who tried to stifle this innovation, virtual schools are a permanent reality and are alive and well in Wisconsin.”
Check out this story from 2010: $12 an Hour for Teachers, $1.7 Million a Year for the Teachers’ Boss: Your Property Tax Dollars at Work in McFarland-Posted on October 12, 2010

Education Sec. Betsy DeVos backs every effort of privatization, despite the scores shown above. Here are a few of her comments:
School choice’s many components“We think of the educational choice movement as involving many parts: vouchers and tax credits, certainly, but also virtual schools, magnet schools, homeschooling, and charter schools.” 2013.  "One long-term trend that’s working in our favor is technology. It seems to me that, in the internet age, the tendency to equate ‘education’ with specific school buildings is going to be greatly diminished.” 2013.
Online Charter Schools...what could go wrong? Wow, the internet age!!! And yet, the bad news keeps  rollin' in on those charter online schools:
Online Charter Students in Ohio Perform Far Worse Than Peers, Study Finds: Students in Ohio's burgeoning full-time online charter schools perform far worse on state assessments than similar students in brick-and-mortar charter and regular schools, according to a new study from researchers at New York University and the RAND Corporation.
1. The schools, which deliver instruction entirely or primarily via the internet, tend to attract lower-income, lower-performing white students, then fail to provide those children with the supports they need, the study concluded.

2. "Students in Ohio e-schools are losing anywhere between 75 days and a full school year of learning compared to their peers in traditional public schools and brick-and-mortar charter schools. If kids are in e-schools for a long time, they're likely going to fall very far behind their peers," a policy researcher at the RAND Corporation said in an interview. 

3. Closely mirrors a nationwide 2015 study of cyber charter school performance by Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Outcomes, which found that more than two-thirds of the country's 200 or so cyber charters perform worse than comparable traditional schools.
And because taxpayers have money to burn, how about court battles with the privateers?
EdWeek: Ohio state officials contend the nine schools were paid for more than 9,000 students who did not complete enough coursework to be considered full-time. The state's largest e-school, the 15,000-student Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, has contested the results via a lawsuit and administrative appeals.
The Nation article went on to point out the money to be made through the virtual school scam:
Florida was one of the first states to undertake a program of “virtual schools” … In addition, twelve states have expanded virtual school programs or online course requirements this year.

This legislative juggernaut has coincided with a gold rush of investors clamoring to get a piece of the K-12 education market. It’s big business, and getting bigger: One study estimated that revenues from the K-12 online learning industry will grow by 43 percent between 2010 and 2015, with revenues reaching $24.4 billion.

The rush to privatize education will also turn tens of thousands of students into guinea pigs in a national experiment in virtual learning—a relatively new idea that allows for-profit companies to administer public schools completely online, with no brick-and-mortar classrooms or traditional teachers.

DeVos on Public Teachers: "They're waiting to be told what they have to do..."

Public schools are about to get dismantled under Trump, and Betsy DeVos isn't wasting one minute. Perhaps she didn't like the protesters that greeted her as she visit her first public school? I'm writing this because this is one hell of a way to start out...
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had a hard time getting inside the District’s Jefferson Middle School Academy last week when protesters briefly blocked her from entering. But at the end of her visit, (she said) teachers at Jefferson were sincere, genuine and dedicated, (but) they seemed to be in “receive mode.”

“They’re waiting to be told what they have to do, and that’s not going to bring success to an individual child,” DeVos told a columnist for the conservative online publication Townhall. “You have to have teachers who are empowered to facilitate great teaching.”
Of course DeVos would notice something like this, having never been in any of our public schools:
Jefferson teacher Caroline Hunt said, “I find it very interesting that the chancellor saw teachers that were pushing rigorous learning, students asking each other high-level questions and cultivating high-level responses, and teachers who take initiative and give their lives to the education of these children. DeVos saw something so different. … Maybe if DeVos knew more about education she would realize just how amazing the students, teachers and staff are.”

Jefferson is one of the fastest-improving schools in the city’s public school system. While fewer than half of students are meeting or approaching grade-level expectations, according to new Common Core tests, the school’s growth has won it classification as a “rising” D.C. school.
DeVos trashes Protesters: The public continues to get in the way of our new authoritarian masters who are hell bent on destroying public education so they can "save" it with "change and new ideas" through privatization:
DeVos kicked off her first public speech by casting the protestors who sought to block her from visiting a Washington, D.C., middle school last week as part of a divisive opposition that's resistant to fresh ideas.
"By keeping kids in and new thinking out, Friday's incident demonstrates just how hostile some people are to change and to new ideas.” 
Magnet Schools praised, But on GOP Hit List for Elimination: GOP policy chaos can be found in their educational contradictions:
DeVos praised magnet schools, which are public schools organized around a particular subject area such as arts or technology, as "the original school choice option."

The House Appropriations Committee, though, is seeking to eliminate funding for the program altogether in its fiscal year 2017 spending bill. Magnet schools lag behind charter schools federal funding ... currently receiving about $96 million a year, compared to charters, which get about $333 million from the feds. 
Religion via Taxpayer Funding: DeVos' "change and new ideas" includes finding every way possible to publically fund religion by gaming the First Amendment:
A policy manifesto from the influential conservative group Council for National Policy, with ties to the Trump administration, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Stephen Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, urges the dismantling of the Education Department and bringing God into American classrooms … a “restoration of education in America” that would minimize the federal role, promote religious schools and home schooling and enshrine “historic Judeo-Christian principles” as a basis for instruction.

DeVos’ mother, Elsa Prince Broekhuizen, was named on the council’s board of governors. Her father-in-law, Amway founder Richard DeVos Sr., twice served as president.
So yea, we've got a serious problem looming ahead.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Conservative Estimates say 165,000 Wisconsinites will Spend More and/or lose Health Insurance!

Repealing the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) is going to force tens of millions of Americans off their health care plans. 

Let's take a look at Wisconsin, district by district, and see who's constituents will suffer the consequences of a purely political decision:
Between 20 and 30 million people will lose their health insurance if Obamacare is repealed by Congressional Republicans with no replacement plan. Charles Gaba, a Michigan-based health care analyst and owner of, wants to remind people that “each one of those numbers is a real, live human being.” That’s why he decided to break down the number of people who could potentially lose insurance after a full repeal of Obamacare by congressional district, so people could get a sense of the impact a repeal would have in their own community.

Estimates are fairly conservative—does not account for the number of people under the age of 26 who could be thrown off their parents’ plans or the repeal’s affect on Medicare. The actual number of people who would lose insurance is likely greater (a recent estimate from the Urban Institute puts it at 32 million).
Paul Ryan to the Rescue? While Paul Ryan waits for the cost estimates for his repeal and replace health care plan from the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation, news outlets obtained the actual outlined repeal/replace Republican plan. 

I think "driving off a cliff" best describes what the Republicans have in mind. There is no global example where a country thought this was a good idea, or for that matter, worth trying.

With a "free market" health care plan corporate profiteering will kick into overdrive as time goes on, forcing "consumers" with cancer, heart conditions, and victims of accidents to pay a majority of the bills headed their way. It's not like anyone can afford to stick $2,000 to $12,000 away in a savings account.

Warnings have been issued from both political camps on the dangers of destroying the taxing sources needed to fund the Republican plan. Remember, Republicans have pledged never to raise taxes, so just keeping in place Obama's ACA's taxes would help the GOP keep that pledge and fund their plan:
Republicans want to change all of that. To lower the cost of healthcare, Republicans would provide relief from all the Obamacare tax increases, including: 
• The tax on health insurance premiums • The medicine cabinet tax • The tax on prescription drugs • The tax on medical devices • The increased expense threshold for deducting medical expenses. 
My very well off younger brother mentioned that he had one major pet peeve over ObamaCare; he thought it was unfair his higher earnings prevented him from getting subsidized help. Well, that's no longer a problem:
The credit is not based on income. This will help simplify the verification process and expand access for Americans who have been left behind by Obamacare.
The CBO has already panned every one of Ryan's previous versions of this cruel profit based plan for sick people that assumes medical treatment is a consumer product that we shop for. Not one of the following items lowers the cost of health care, unless you consider not having decent coverage a good idea:
1. Americans would no longer be required to purchase health insurance.

2. The plan also calls for ending the health insurance exchanges.

3. The federal income-based subsidies given to Americans will also go away.

4. The government would offer refundable tax credits based on age.
Taxpayers, Not Insurance Companies Pay For Sick: The most insulting part of Ryan's plan is his no nonsense admission that taxpayers will be footing the bill to treat sick people, instead of insurance companies, who are left with health premium paying Americans. Here's what Ryan said when asked who would pay for taking care of the sick:
PAUL RYAN: By having taxpayers, I think, step up and focus on, through risk pools, subsidizing the care for people with catastrophic illnesses. Those losses don't have to be covered by everybody else, and we stabilize their plans.
The House GOP plan also seeks to provide "State Innovation Grants" so states can establish insurance pools for high-risk consumers with preexisting conditions. The grants could be used to establish something similar to the Health Insurance Risk Sharing Plan (HIRSP) Wisconsin had in place prior to Obamacare taking effect. The goal is to reduce out-of-pocket costs like co-payments, premiums and deductibles for people who have more health coverage needs.

Sign of the Times: Blowup Targets to lower Stock Prices for Purchase.

For love of money, capitalism, Corporate personhood and money is free speech took a giant step forward with this novel idea:
OCALA, Fla. AP: A Florida man is accused in a plot to blow up several Target stores along the East Coast in an attempt to acquire cheap stock in the company if the stock value plunged after the explosions.

The U.S Attorney's Office in the middle district of Florida said in a news release on Thursday that 48-year-old Mark Charles Barnett is charged with possession of a firearm affecting commerce by a previously convicted felon. Barnett is a registered sex offender in Florida. An affidavit says Barnett offered to pay another man $10,000 to place at least 10 "improvised explosive bombs" disguised in food-item packaging in stores from New York to Florida. The man went to authorities.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Trump keeping Dossiers on some reporters and opponents.

While Republicans try to avoid the tag "authoritarian," they keep proving it everyday, like there's some urgency to make it so:
Omarosa Manigaulta communications official in the Trump administration and the reality TV personality who has entered the White House thanks to her close relationship with Donald Trump, allegedly bullied a journalist during an altercation, and said that the Trump administration has “dossiers” on some reporters.

The argument, according to The Washington Post, was a result of accusations that the reporter, American Urban Radio Networks White House correspondent April D. Ryan, was “manipulated” by the Hillary Clinton campaign. According to Ryan, Manigault “stood right in my face like she was going to hit me,” Ryan said. “I said, ‘You better back up.’ . . . She thought I would be bullied. I won’t be.” Post reporter Abby Phillip, who was near the argument, said the law enforcement intervention was requested by Ryan, who felt Manigault’s “behavior was so threatening.”
MUST WATCH: But I've saved the best for last. You won't believe just how obvious this whole authoritarian movement is...get ready to bow down before the great Trump. As the most powerful man in the universe, he has achieved the ultimate revenge against his opponents, according to Manigualt:

State Superintendent Challengers/Businesses have Plans for Privatizing Public Schools.

The privateers of our public schools just exposed their slimy underbellies. Ends justify the means/or whatever it takes to get the job?

It looks like the candidate challengers to State Superintendent Tony Evers just made it clear what really matters to them, and it ain't education. You can't make dirty politics like this up...:
Candidate John Humphries said in an interview with the Wisconsin State Journal that during discussions between he and opponent Lowell Holtz about the possibility of the two working together instead of running against each other, Holtz proposed in writing that either he or Humphries should drop out in exchange for a guaranteed, three-year, $150,000 job with the Department of Public Instruction should one of them defeat incumbent Tony Evers in the general election.
Once the privateers eliminate the publically controlled schools, business responds something like this:
Humphries said the two met after speaking to "business leaders," who Humphries declined to identify. 

"It’s true that we had breakfast together. It’s true that a number of business people asked us to get together and discuss options for working together because they thought we would have a better chance," said Holtz. "There was no specific proposal. There were ideas that were thrown around. They were ideas."

How real is any of this and how outraged are these two challengers? What a circus. Here's the proposal:
 "suggestions from business people that were put in writing because the business people asked for them to be put in writing." - Holtz

Republicans OK guns to people with “marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease,” after blaming them for gun carnage!!!

Remember when the Democrats tried to pass common sense gun control legislation after seeing one mass killing after another, but Republicans insisted that all we had to do was just keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill? Oh look, here are a few headlines to jog your memory:

Well, didn't we all think that was just another ridiculous distraction:

One of the most absurd reasons given by Republicans now is this: "Why didn't Obama come up with (______) a long time ago if it were that important." Like you know, every good idea should have been brought up all at once, even decades earlier if it was so important. Why now? Oh, and Obama was a lame duck president too. Speaking of struggling...
Appearing on CNN Friday morning, Rep. John Barrasso (R – WY) defended his vote to overturn the rule ... Although the rule was only put into effect in December, it had actually been in the works for years, and was a response to the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012.
Barrasso: "It's interesting. This is a rule that President Obama came out with in December, long after he was a lame duck president. If this was something he was so committed too, you would have thought sometime in the previous 8 years he might have come out with such a regulation ... This is a new change by President Obama, a midnight regulation on his way out the door."

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Illegitimate Pres.Trump crashes with Flynn Debacle: "No need to investigate Flynn," says Republican Jason Chaffetz, chair House Oversight Committee.

Trump's missteps and lies are unfolding so rapidly that who can keep up. After taking the last 4 days off, it's time to jump in again, even  at the risk of my health.

The breathless devotion Trump voters have in this malignant narcissist is mind boggling. Seriously, telling the truth 4% of the time?

Flynn? What Flynn? After enduring endless investigations over what "appeared" to be conflicts of interest in Hillary Clinton's past, Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz just can't muster up enough outrage to look into Mike Flynn's traitorous communications with Russia. Just as bad, Trump knew about this and didn't throw Flynn under the bus until the public found out. Real grownup like:

Chaffetz: “I think that situation has taken care of itself. I know that the Intel committee is looking into the hacking issue.”
Fat chance. In fact, Trump wants to know how this leak got out, forget about Flynn:
Certainly, Chaffetz was well aware that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) has no intention of investigating Flynn, because “executive privilege.” Music to Donald Trump’s ears.“I want to hear from the FBI as to how this got out.”
What is Chaffetz really pissed off at? A cartoon character pushing Zika virus awareness on PBS:
Chaffetz target Sid?
Angry Utahans shouted down Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, at the Republican’s recent town hall meeting. “Do your job!” Scolding him for refusing to investigate the Trump administration.

Chaffetz, without fear or favor, the threat to America posed by Sid the Science Kid. On Jan. 26, the day after TMZ reported that the CDC was planning a Zika-education partnership with Sid, Chaffetz fired off a letter to acting CDC director Anne Schuchat, demanding a “written explanation” and “communications between CDC and the Jim Henson Company and also PBS.

Chaffetz, in closing, reminded the CDC that his committee can investigate “any matter” at “any time.” Yes, it can — which is why it’s so appalling that Chaffetz is focusing on an animated preschooler.
Chaffetz may have picked the wrong president to defend, since Utah voters are not a big fan of Trumps. After townhall protesters demanded Chaffetz hold Trump accountable, he did what any authoritarian would do, trash the First Amendment and accuse protesters of being paid shills. Wow, we're getting rich:
Without any evidence, Rep. Jason Chaffetz has now claimed that he believes those in attendance at the town hall were paid protestors and not actual, concerned constituents. In an interview with Deseret News, he further stated that he believed the crowd's treatment of him was "more of a paid attempt to bully and intimidate" than anything legitimate.

"You could see it online a couple days before, a concerted effort in part to just cause chaos. Democrats are in disbelief that they have nothing but flailing and screaming to deal with this... We’re better than that. That’s not what the average Utahn is like."

When asked by Deseret News if he will hold another town hall again anytime soon, the congressman responded that he hoped to find a way to speak with his constituents without providing a venue "for these radicals to further intimidate."
Scott Walker thought the same thing about the massive public protests in Wisconsin over union busting Act 10, going as far as to title his book, "Unintimidated." Who knew protesting for racial equality and against the Vietnam war was intimidating.

But I digress. Trump's impeccable pick, the really really great Gen. Flynn, still has a whole bunch of questions to answer:

Republicans better than Democrats? Republicans say they hate everything Democrats do and say, but that's a lie too. It's projection. They want to act just like they say Democrats do. Check out this recent tweet from my conservative friend in Milwaukee:
"What difference does it make. Was it an issue when Loretta Lynch met with Bill Clinton...when Lynch pleaded the Fifth Amendment on the money going to Iran, I didn't hear a text from you saying it was wrong...No John it's not an issue." 
So says Breitbart fake News. See, they're not really responsible for their actions...ever:
And if Republicans supposedly violated the Logan Act, so did these Democrats...

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Walker wants Government Run State Self-Insurance?

Democrats are sleeping, again.

No big surprise, but when Scott Walker offers up a statewide single payer system and the Democratic Party doesn't stand up and point that out...well, what are we waiting for?

Think about it, this could make universal health care an acceptable idea to Republican voters. We'll just have to highlight what the Walker Authority is saying. The article below about Walker's statewide self-insurance budget proposal, offered up ready made talking points:
1. “What the board is doing is controlling more of what it can control, rather than ceding that authority to folks with whom we contract.”

2. The move should save $60 million over the next two years and retain access to 98 percent of medical providers,

3. Consultants hired by the state have said self-insurance could ... save $42 million a year, largely by avoiding $18 million in Affordable Care Act fees, cutting $11 million in administrative costs and eliminating $11 million in insurance company profits.
There are those who say it might cost $100 million more, instead of saving taxpayer money. Just more of that doom and gloom GOP rhetoric? Bottom line, this would be a government run system, regardless of how mismanaged or poorly constructed Walker's proposal might be. And private insurers will still be managing the policy for the state.

Democrats should push: Self-insurance = Single Payer savings. 

And it doesn't matter how reckless Walker's proposal is right now knowing health care in this country is about to get shredded nationally by Trump and Paul Ryan. 

It's time to take advantage of the estimated savings Walker is touting with government run health care. 

Which brings me to one final point; health care doesn't have to be this convoluted and difficult to understand. It should tell you something when people carry signs that read "keep government out of my Medicare." As simple as Medicare is, people still don't get it.

I still haven't been able to find the exact number of self-insured states claimed by Walker, according to this tweet:
"Moving the state to a self-insured plan--like 46 other states--will save the state 60 million, says @GovWalker #WIBUDGET"

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

DeLusional DeVos DeVoid of DeSmarts.

Well, I guess we can finally put the last nail in the coffin when it comes to the myth of “fiscal conservatism.” That’s just so much bullshit.

Trump’s education pick of Betsy DeVos proved that point beyond words. Oddly, it was Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski from Alaska that said it best last week when she announced her opposition:

“I have serious concerns about a nominee to be secretary of education who has been so involved in one side of the equation, so immersed in the push for vouchers, that she may be unaware of what actually is successful within the public schools, and also what is broken and how to fix them.”
Ya think? What sane person, or even Trump voter, would back putting someone in a position this important, with absolutely no experience whatsoever? For all the years DeVos opposed public schools, you'd think she would have researched the topic:
She has never run, taught in, attended or sent a child to an American public school, and her confirmation hearings laid bare her ignorance of education policy and scorn for public education itself. 

In her Senate hearing, Ms. DeVos appeared largely ignorant of challenges facing college students, as well. She indicated that she was skeptical of Education Department policies to prevent fraud by for-profit colleges — a position favored, no doubt, by Mr. Trump, who just settled a fraud case against his so-called Trump University for $25 million. It was not clear that she understood how various student loan and aid programs worked, or could distinguish between them.

(DeVos) lobbied to shut down the troubled Detroit public school system and channel the money to charter, private or religious schools, regardless of their performance. She also favors online private schools, an alternative that most leading educators reject as destructive to younger children’s need to develop peer relationships, and an industry prone to scams.
Trump voters have exposed their own scam; it's not government they hate, they hate not having power. So now they're suddenly okay with taxpayers funding religious schools and throwing money into unaccountable private black holes because anecdotal stories affirm their agenda. I remember one survey that showed parental satisfaction wasn't based on grades, which were lower, but on the feeling they did something, their kids were safer, and their child happier. Their kids didn't feel that way in the survey at all, just the opposite.  

"Choice" is just another manipulation, to appeal to every parents insecurity over doing the right thing for their kid:
"Why School Vouchers Don't Matter" by Kevin Carey in the Chronicle Review laid out what I consider one of the best arguments against voucher schools:“The D.C. voucher program does none of these things. No new schools have been built as a result, no groundbreaking programs created, competition spurred, or innovators attracted…
 …there remains the point that some parents among the lower classes do not understand educational opportunities when they are presented to them. Nor would they be able to make informed choices on their children’s behalf. For instance, just tonight I had a heated discussion with my working class mother about my nephew being admitted into a program for gifted youngsters at his public elementary school. She thought it would be a waste of time.

 Some studies suggest that a similar attitude becomes more common the lower down the economic ladder we look. To ignore this obstacle, and pretend every parent has the capacity to make the same informed decision a college- or law school-educated person can make, remains one abiding problem with the voucher system. Choice does not automatically level the playing field if the choosers have different backgrounds informing those choices.— Cassandra

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Sean "Dumb as a Brick" Duffy Crumbled under Questioning...

The unintended consequence of the Trump era presidency will be a more gutsy, vigilant press...I hope.

The "alternative facts" lunacy from Rep. Sean Duffy took a serious blow when CNN pushed back. Duffy has been a fast talking poser for years, but his appearance here is so embarrassing that no amount of filibustering could save his sorry ass.

This is what happens when Republicans are forced to explain their "thinking" on policy; there is no thinking, just memorized talking points that have no connection to reality:

If only Duffy had picked up a paper, did a little Google something for gods sake if it's something this important. Here's the link dummy: