Monday, June 24, 2019

Last Call For The Con Way

The lawlessness of the Trump regime continues as Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, tagged earlier this month by the Office of Special Counsel for violating Hatch Act prohibitions on using the power of a government position to campaign in her many TV appearances, now refuses to testify before a House committee on the matter.

The Trump-appointed ethics official who called for Kellyanne Conway’s firing last week is set to defend that decision in congressional testimony on Wednesday.

Henry Kerner, the chief of the White House’s Office of Special Counsel, has submitted testimony to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform in which he criticizes Conway for allegedly breaking the law by politicizing her post as White House Counselor.

“Her conduct hurts both federal employees, who may believe that senior officials can act with complete disregard for the Hatch Act, and the American people, who may question the nonpartisan operation of their government,” reads Kerner’s testimony, which The Daily Beast obtained.

“Ms. Conway’s conduct reflects not a misunderstanding of the law, but rather a disregard for it,” the testimony adds.

Kerner’s plan to appear at the hearing, which was confirmed by a senior Democratic committee aide, is a significant move, given that a host of administration officials have recently stiff-armed congressional testimony requests and subpoenas. The committee invited Conway as well, and plans to subpoena her if she does not appear, per Politico.

On June 13, Kerner’s office called on President Donald Trump to fire Conway for violating the Hatch Act, a federal law that prohibits government employees for doing political work while on the job. Kerner’s report charges that Conway repeatedly broke this law by publicly criticizing Democratic 2020 contenders in her capacity as a senior White House official.

Conway's response is that the Hatch Act violates the First Amendment free speech clause, so she will not testify before Congress, which is bit like saying "I don't believe that gravity should apply to me, so I'm going to jump out of this airplane."

In all seriousness, this is ridiculous.  The House should subpoena her and actually follow through with civil contempt.

A Prescription For Disaster

It's that time of year again where Americans camp out for days in order to see a pop-up rural clinic nurse because we have the most ridiculously expensive "health care" on earth and a system absolutely designed to keep it that way.

They were told to arrive early if they wanted to see a doctor, so Lisa and Stevie Crider left their apartment in rural Tennessee almost 24 hours before the temporary medical clinic was scheduled to open. They packed a plastic bag with what had become their daily essentials after 21 years of marriage: An ice pack for his recurring chest pain. Tylenol for her swollen feet. Peroxide for the abscess in his mouth. Gatorade for her low blood sugar and chronic dehydration.

They took a bus into the center of Cleveland, Tenn., a manufacturing town of 42,000, and slept for a few hours at a budget motel. Then they awoke in the middle of the night and walked toward the first-come, first-served clinic, bringing along a referral from a social worker for what they hoped would be their first doctor’s checkup in more than four years.

“Urgent needs from head to toe,” the social worker had written. “Lacking primary care and basic medication. They have fallen into the gap.”

Only when Stevie and Lisa arrived at the clinic a little after 2 a.m. did it occur to them how large that medical gap has become in parts of rural America. Dozens of people were sprawled out in sleeping bags on the asphalt parking lot. Others had pitched tents on an adjacent lawn. The lot was already filled with more than 300 cars from all over the rural South, where a growing number of people in medical distress wait for hours at emergency clinics in order to receive basic primary care. Tennessee has lost 14 percent of its rural physicians and 18 percent of its rural hospitals in the past decade, leaving an estimated 2.5 million residents with insufficient access to medical care. The federal government now estimates that a record 50 million rural Americans live in what it calls "health care shortage areas," where the number of hospitals, family doctors, surgeons and paramedics has declined to 20-year lows.  
What’s arrived in their place are sporadic free clinics such as the one in Cleveland, where a nonprofit agency called Remote Area Medical brought in a group of doctors, nurses and other volunteers for the weekend to transform the local high school into a makeshift hospital. There would be a triage station in the entryway, bloodwork in the science lab, kidney scans in the gym, dental extractions in the cafeteria, and chest X-rays in the parking lot — a range of medical care that would be available for only two days, until the clinic packed up and moved on to Hazard, Ky., and then Weatherford, Okla.

“We’ll do as much as we can for as many as we can,” a clinic volunteer promised as she patrolled the parking lot late at night and handed out numbers to signify each patient’s place in the line. No. 48 went to a woman having panic attacks from adjacent Meigs County, where the last remaining mental-health provider had just moved away to Nashville. No. 207 went to a man with unmanaged heart disease from Polk County, where the only hospital had gone bankrupt and closed in 2017.

With the Supreme Court and Republicans doing everything they can to break the Affordable Care Act and then refusing to fix it, we now have the direct results of that disaster.  Rural hospitals are closing, people have no health care out in rural counties, and they are lied to and told to blame Democrats because Obamacare forced doctors to go treat those people in the dirty cities and not real Americans out in the heartland.

The reality of course is that Republicans have cut funding for the programs to keep red state rural clinics and hospitals operating, because dead poor people stop being such a drain on red state budgets.

The Adventures Of Pete's Dragon, Con't

Pete Buttigieg remains in the running for the 2020 Democratic nomination, but his political fortunes took a turn for the worse last week as a shooting in South Bend revealed the tensions in the city, and it seems the one thing everyone agrees on is that Buttigieg should get his ass back to South Bend and work on fixing the city that he's Mayor of before he worried about being President.

A town hall featuring Mayor Pete Buttigieg broke into near chaos Sunday afternoon as the Democratic presidential candidate tried to respond to community concerns over a white police officer killing a black man in the city.

Buttigieg was solemn, somber and circumspect as he tried to explain the procedures of how officials will review the shooting, while saying that he didn’t want to prejudice the investigation. He also said he would ask the Justice Department to review the case and for an independent prosecutor to decide whether to prosecute.

“We’ve taken a lot of steps, but they clearly haven’t been enough,” said Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Ind.

The largely black audience of hundreds was having none of it. “We don’t trust you!” a woman hollered at the mayor.

The tragedy unfolded in Buttigieg’s city on June 16, and it would be difficult to imagine a domestic crisis more nightmarish for a mayor and a presidential candidate who has enjoyed a largely carefree rise to the top tier of Democratic contestants.

Buttigieg’s lack of popularity among black voters nationally — a crucial demographic for winning the Democratic primary and then the presidency – was already one of his biggest weaknesses in a contest dominated by racial justice issues like never before. Buttigieg had recently been laying the groundwork to win over some of those skeptical voters in states such as South Carolina.

But now the shooting has highlighted the racial tension right on Buttigieg’s home turf, revealing for a national audience the pain and anger that has long festered among South Bend’s black residents.

“I’m not surprised,” said Mario Sims, 67, the pastor of the nondenominational Dolos Chapel, who is black.

“This was a trail of gasoline that was waiting to be ignited, and last week it ignited,” Sims said of the hometown strife now surrounding Buttigieg.

Until now, Buttigieg had enjoyed a charmed and improbable role in the presidential primary as the mayor of a Rust Belt city whose population barely tops 100,000, a 37-year-old in a field dominated by two 70-somethings.

He’d been lifted in the polls — and into television green rooms — by his gifts as a communicator and by his singular biography as an openly gay veteran who reads James Joyce and speaks several languages.

His mere existence as a liberal force in conservative Indiana suggested an alternative path for Democrats fighting to rebuild support in the nation’s heartland. 
But at home, Buttigieg is a much more common figure in American politics: a white politician struggling to connect with his black constituents, whose lives are plagued by grinding poverty and violence that their wunderkind mayor has been unable to repair after seven years in office.

And this has always been his weakness.  He just doesn't get it, he doesn't understand the party and keeps telling Democrats that we're the ones who have to change to accommodate Republicans.  But he blew it.  If black residents of South Bend think Buttigieg is a failure, and I gotta agree with them here, then he needs to drop out of the race.

Pete's nowhere near ready yet.


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