Saturday, May 20, 2017

Last Call For Hearing From The Rest Of Us

Leave it to Canadians at the Toronto Star to finally come up with the idea of talking to American black voters in purple state Virginia who didn't vote for Trump to see how they are faring.  What the hell do you have to lose, Trump asked black voters like myself during the campaign. Turns out the answer is "pretty much everything we had left."

He’s done more to divide. I don’t think he’s for any non-Caucasian people,” said Angela Taylor, 46, a risk manager having a Mother’s Day meal at a popular black restaurant in Richmond, the state capital. “I think he’s just totally against ‘coloureds.’ ” 
Black voters in Petersburg expressed strong displeasure with Trump’s widely criticized plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, a law that cut the uninsured rate among black people in half. 
I don’t like how he’s cancelling a lot of things without, really, a plan in store. You might not like it, but if you don’t have a plan, why would you cancel the whole thing?” said accountant Corey Young, 26, outside the dollar store that was one of the busiest businesses in Petersburg on a sunny weekend afternoon. “I don’t think he’s rational with his decisions. It’s pretty obvious. He’s just a wild guy. Loose cannon, man.” 
Some black voters suspected that Trump’s health-care overhaul is motivated more by a desire to erase Obama’s legacy than to improve Americans’ health. And they took issue, more broadly, with his unceasing stream of disparaging words toward Obama. 
“I have a problem with him always saying he has to clean up a mess from the past president,” said Sharon Jones, 52, outside the Richmond restaurant. “Once you become a leader you inherit, you just take over whatever’s there, and not throw other people under the bus.” 
Petersburg, a historic 32,000-person city once home to major tobacco plants, has been plagued by poverty, crime and a dysfunctional local government. There was intense concern there about the early activities of Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, a former hard-right Alabama senator who was once denied a federal judgeship over accounts of anti-black racism. 
In a rapid-fire series of announcements, Sessions has told federal prosecutors to seek the harshest possible sentences for drug crimes, pulled the federal government back from pressuring cities to reform police forces found to be violating citizens’ constitutional rights, and ordered a review of the reform agreements signed by the Obama administration. 
It’s almost like they’re blinded as it relates to various things that happen in the community involving law enforcement and minorities,” said Rodney Williams, 52, a small-business owner and former deputy sheriff who sits on the chamber of commerce in Petersburg. “That is an issue. For them to say it’s not an issue, it’s like: you are totally ignoring their pain.” 
“Just like when Reagan was in office. Low-level offences. It don’t make no sense, and it’s carrying on to this day,” said Frank Lightfoot, 58, a former offender who is now a Richmond college student. “Donald Trump’s doing this country a great injustice. He’s doing a bad job. And I think eventually he’s going to get impeached.” 
Trump’s 10-point “new deal” mostly consisted of his general policy platform. But it held out the promise of new infrastructure investment in black communities. Trump has not yet got around to infrastructure, choosing instead to focus on Obamacare and tax reform. In its place, he has issued a 2018 budget proposal that includes a $6-billion cut to Housing and Urban Development. 
Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, said in an interview that the “skinny budget, if adopted, would have a devastating effect on black communities.” 
He’s cutting anything urban — anything that’s helping the urban community,” said Keyonna Wright, 34, who works in nursing. “I just feel like it’s no acknowledgment as far as the urban community. Talking as an African American, I don’t feel like we’re going to progress any.”

We knew, overwhelmingly, what was coming for us.  That's why we voted against him, because we'd seen it before. We knew he was a liar, because we'd seen it before.  We knew he was selling snake oil to America, because we'd seen it before.  Most of all we knew he was going to rally white voters to his cause at our expense, because we'd seen it before.

We warned you of the coming screw job.  We told you it was going to come at our expense, and eventually yours too.

You made it happen anyway.   Rather than helping us up so we could be standing side-by-side, facing this together, you traded having our heads cut off so you could still stand above us when Trump's blade continued its arc and chopped you off at the knees.

Four months in there's serious talk of impeachment and incredible, outlandish examples of outright villainy daily, but we warned you this was coming.  Those warnings were pushed aside.

Do you believe us now?

Exciting New Frontiers In Political Expediency

Democrats should pay attention when trying to adopt Trump's message of "working class anxiety" in Rust Belt states like Pennsylvania.  We've been told that this is the future of the Democrats, to copy Trump's message and adapt it to the blue side.  Only problem is when you live by that message, you die by that message.

Monessen Mayor Louis Mavrakis' outspoken support for Trump turned him into a media sensation. The 79-year-old former union organizer helped decode Trump's appeal in the Rust Belt on Sunday political talk shows and for major newspapers, where he was quoted saying things like: "If ISIS was to come to Monessen, they'd keep on going. They'd say someone already bombed the goddamn place." 
Trump himself made a high-profile visit to Monessen, a town of just 7,500, on Mavrakis' invitation. Trump stood in front of a wall of recycled trash to slam free-trade policies and promised to bring back good-paying coal mining and steel-making jobs. 
But Mavrakis' coup in getting Trump to town also helped lead to his downfall. 
When a group of residents protested his visit, they were led by Matt Shorraw, a local community activist whose family has been in the town for generations. 
"What bothered me the most was Trump's visit got our mayor a lot of press, but he basically used that press to say our city is a dump," Shorraw told NBC News.
Shorraw resolved to run for mayor, even though he had never held public office and was only in his mid-20s. 
On Tuesday, he narrowly defeated Mavrakis in the Democratic primary. And with no Republican on the ballot in November, Shorraw is all but guaranteed to be the youngest mayor in the town's history.

Here endeth the lesson.

The Rest Of The Battle Continues

Meanwhile, as the Trump regime thrashes its way across the landscape like Apep or Jormungan or that flying party from Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker books, it's important to remember that Republicans at the state level are still very much capable of causing more focused destruction, such as Iowa's state GOP ending all Planned Parenthood funding for family planning programs and causing four clinics to close this month.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland said Thursday it is closing four clinics in Iowa in response to a bill passed by the Iowa Legislature's Republican majority that blocks public money for family planning services to abortion providers. 
Health centers will be closed in Bettendorf, Burlington, Keokuk and Sioux City that have served more than 14,600 individual patients in the past three years, said Susana de Baca, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. Eight health centers will remain open elsewhere in Iowa. 
De Baca said the impact will be devastating for Planned Parenthood's patients who have received family planning care in those four communities. It will be hardest on people who already face barriers to access health care, especially people of color, young people, poor people and rural residents, she said.

"Defunding Planned Parenthood will set a health care crisis in motion in Iowa. We will be watching and holding politicians accountable," de Baca said.

Republican Gov. Terry Branstad signed a $1.7 billion health and human services appropriations bill last week that calls for the Iowa Department of Human Services to discontinue the federal Medicaid family planning network waiver, foregoing about $3 million in federal funding. Instead, the state will use about $3.3 million to recreate its own family planning network so that it can prohibit the funding of clinics that provide abortions.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland is Iowa's largest provider of abortions, although no taxpayer money is spent on abortions. The legislation cuts off about $2 million in public money to Planned Parenthood. 
Jodi Tomlonovic, executive director of the Family Planning Council of Iowa, who had testified against the legislation, said the loss of services at the four health centers can't be duplicated by other Iowa medical providers. She said they lack the expertise and ability to accommodate a large number of additional family planning patients. 
"We are concerned this will have a severely negative impact on family planning services," Tomlonovic said. "You will see increases in unintended pregnancies, teen births, and abortions" as well as increases in sexual transmitted diseases and cervical cancer." 
But Iowa groups opposed to abortion were elated with Planned Parenthood's announcement. They predicted no reduction in health care services for women under the new legislation. 
“I would say this is fantastic news for women and families in the state of Iowa," remarked Maggie DeWitte, executive director of Iowans for Life. "We would say the services and care provided by Planned Parenthood in the state of Iowa were not what women and families deserved. We have said from the very beginning that there are many, many other qualified health centers that provide comprehensive health care for women."

That's an argument I don't understand, if the goal is to provide more women with more access to health services, why cut off what essentially has been one of the most successful public-private government health service partnerships around?

Oh yes, the goal isn't to provide services for women, it's to punish poor women for being "promiscuous sluts" while providing access for wealthy women to get what services they need privately.  But then why deny poor women family planning services, since Republicans obviously hate poor women having kids out of wedlock?

Same answer: women having sex needs to be controlled and limited only to those who can be fiscally responsible (and therefore morally and genetically favored) for reproduction.  Make it as difficult as possible for those people to outbreed Real 'Muricans in a Real 'Murican state like Iowa.  Besides, those little bastards grow up wanting services and.or wanting to vote, and we can't have that.

It really does all come back to making reproductive rights and making voting rights virtually impossible in order to control the politics of demographics, guys.  There's a reason the GOP is absolutely obsessed with stopping Democrats from being able to exercise either one.

Wrecking Balls Have A Purpose

Why yes, as I've been saying for months, it's obvious that the Trump regime is wrecking Obamacare on purpose in order to force the adoption of the GOP health care bill, and they're doing it with the help of extortion of the health insurance industry.

Health insurers across the country are making plans to dramatically raise Obamacare premiums or exit marketplaces amid growing exasperation with the Trump administration’s erratic management, inconsistent guidance and seeming lack of understanding of basic healthcare issues. 
At the same time, state insurance regulators — both Democrat and Republican — have increasingly concluded they cannot count on the Trump administration to help them ensure that consumers will have access to a health plan next year. 
The growing frustration with the Trump administration’s management — reflected in letters to state regulators and in interviews with more than two dozen senior industry and government officials nationwide — undercuts a key White House claim that Obamacare insurance marketplaces are collapsing on their own. 
Instead, according to many officials, it is the Trump administration that is driving much of the current instability by refusing to commit to steps to keep markets running, such as funding aid for low-income consumers or enforcing penalties for people who go without insurance.

All the Trump regime has to do is yell "Oh well, death spiral lol" at the press while this is going on and poof, Obamacare is a "failure" that has no choice but to be completely repealed by whatever Republican plan happens to be available.  And Republicans fully expect Democrats, health care advocates, health insurers, medical groups, and hospitals to go along with the plan or else.

And why go to all this trouble?  Obamacare was actually working so it has to be destroyed.

The uncertainty created by Trump comes as some Obamacare markets were beginning to stabilize, according to many industry and government officials. In several states, insurers and regulators noted that 2017 was shaping up to be a better year than the first several years of the marketplaces. 
Tennessee Blue Cross Blue Shield Chief Executive J.D. Hickey reported in a letter to that state’s insurance commissioner this month that “our 2017 performance has improved due to a combination of better claims experience and more sustainable rate structure.” 
Hickey warned in the letter that “potential negative effects of federal legislative and/or regulatory changes,” including not paying CSRs or enforcing the mandate, would require the Tennessee plan “to price-in those downside risks.” 
Many state insurance regulators are similarly dismayed by the Trump administration’s actions, which Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler compared to playing Russian roulette with Americans’ health insurance coverage. 
“It’s ludicrous,” said Kreidler, who is a Democrat. “This has real impact on people’s lives.”

But Trump wrecked this on purpose, and with purpose, to leave no choice but Trumpcare.

In Colorado, where most consumers continue to have multiple insurance choices, commissioner Marguerite Salazar said the Trump administration threatens the whole market. “My fear is it may collapse,” she said. 
Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, a Republican, is so concerned the turmoil will drive away insurers that he’s exploring whether the state can make available limited benefit insurance plans as a stopgap.

The plans would likely cap medical care and prescription drug coverage. But Chaney said, “It would be better than nothing.” 
Insurance industry officials and state regulators have met repeatedly in recent months with senior Trump administration officials in an effort to explain that administration’s actions are jeopardizing health coverage for millions of Americans. 
But in many cases, the meetings only left insurers and regulators more confused about the administration’s plans, according to attendees. 
At one recent meeting, Seema Verma, whom Trump picked to oversee the federal Medicare and Medicaid programs, stunned insurance industry officials by suggesting a bargain: The administration would fund the CSRs if insurers supported the House Republican bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

You get your money for providing health insurance exchange plans if you back our bill that would destroy health insurance exchanges and basically everything else.  Fun, huh?

For years Republicans have said that the whole point of Obamacare was a plan to make the health care system so "broken" that it would collapse and the Democrats would replace it with single-payer, a public option, or Medicare for all.

Instead, Republicans really are trying to collapse Obamacare to force a system that would end health insurance for tens of millions and care for tens of millions more.  It's always projection. Any time a Republican is accusing the Democrats of doing something horrible, it's because Republicans are planning to do it ASAP.
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