Monday Reads: That’s all I can stands. I can’t stands no more.

I’m dealing with the death of my cousin Ruthie who was closest to me in age and always put in charge of me when I was little in our nearly weekly visits to Kansas City. She died yesterday of ALS which is a disease that is horrid beyond measure and requires a lot of further research to unwind. Death is natural and inevitable but we should be able to find ways of better dealing with horrifying deadly diseases. While the Trump budget is finding ways to give the extremely wealthy more tax cuts and fund more military publicity stunts, its priorities are shameful when it comes to the CDC, funding basic scientific and medical research, and anything that has to do with making medical help available to people that truly need it. 

President Donald Trump’s plan to cut billions of dollars in funding to medical and scientific research agencies would cost the country countless jobs, stall medical advances and threaten America’s status as the world leader in science and medicine, advocates said Thursday.

“Cutting the funding in this way will have devastating and generation-long effects,” said Dr. Clifford Hudis, CEO of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, which represents cancer specialists.

“[Medical research] is a fundamental driver of American economic strength and it is being compromised here,” Hudis told NBC News. “It’s a jobs program.”

Multiple organizations expressed shock and disappointment at Trump’s budget proposal, which adds $54 billion in defense spending but would slash nearly $6 billion from the National Institutes of Health, which funds most basic medical research in the country, as well as eliminate entirely dozens of other agencies and programs.

It would cut the overall Health and Human Services department budget by 18 percent, including the 20 percent budget reduction at NIH, and reassign money from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to states.

Most cancer drugs get their start in the basic research funded by the NIH and often done in NIH labs.

“The targeted therapies, the immunotherapies, the conventional chemotherapy drugs — all of these things have roots in the NIH,” Hudis said.

Meanwhile, Team Gleason–including some friends of mine hoping to raise funds to find an ALS cure–is running in the Crescent City Classic this weekend in a subevent called the Race for Team Gleason.  My cousin was active in events raising funds for ALS Research.  (My friends Cait and Caroline are running in Ruthie’s honor this Saturday!  You can get to the donation page here. All proceeds to go Steve Gleason’s ALS efforts!)

Why do we have to have fundraisers for everything but freaking war in this country?

So, I’ve been crying last night and today. Ruthie paved the way for lots of stuff for me.   Just as she helped me spend nights away from home in her bedroom and big girl twin beds, she introduced me to Pet Sounds and using juice cans for hair rollers. She got a great job in high school at the local mall at a dress store.  I got to visit her at work in all her blue eye shadow, page boy hair, and A-line dress glory and was totally awed.  The idea of working during school was a total scandal to my mother and she went on about it for weeks.  I’m not sure what exactly passed between then and me 5 years later but my mother had no problem with me working at the local dress store at the local mall when I hit sweet 16.

There are so many people in our lives that should’t die of ALS or many currently deadly diseases. As a country, we’ve had priorities to get rid of tuberculosis and polio, and make AIDS a chronic disease and not a death sentence.  With money and research, we get it done.  I decided to write about Ruthie and her struggle with ALS in light of many things. Least among them is this.

The Trump administration has failed to fill crucial public health positions across the government, leaving the nation ill-prepared to face one of its greatest potential threats: a pandemic outbreak of a deadly infectious disease, according to experts in health and national security.

No one knows where or when the next outbreak will occur, but health security experts say it is inevitable. Every president since Ronald Reagan has faced threats from infectious diseases, and the number of outbreaks is on the rise.

Over the past three years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has monitored more than 300 outbreaks in 160 countries, tracking 37 dangerous pathogens in 2016 alone. Infectious diseases cause about 15 percent of all deaths worldwide.

But after 11 weeks in office, the Trump administration has filled few of the senior positions critical to responding to an outbreak. There is no permanent director at the CDC or at the US Agency for International Development. At the Department of Health and Human Services, no one has been named to fill sub-Cabinet posts for health, global affairs, or preparedness and response. It’s also unclear whether the National Security Council will assume the same leadership on the issue as it did under President Barack Obama, according to public health experts.

This administration has time for golf galore.  It has time to sign executive orders decimating equal pay for women and the rights of GLBT to be free from discrimination, and to demand ways government can be shredded to bits so the planet is essentially made uninhabitable.  It has time for costly publicity stunts to remove public attention and press attention from its never growing list of scandals and conflicts of interest.  It has no time for governing or policy for American people.

In other words, showy actions that win a news cycle or two are no substitute for actual, coherent policies. Indeed, their main lasting effect can be to squander a government’s credibility. Which brings us to last week’s missile strike on Syria.

The attack instantly transformed news coverage of the Trump administration. Suddenly stories about infighting and dysfunction were replaced with screaming headlines about the president’s toughness and footage of Tomahawk launches.

But outside its effect on the news cycle, how much did the strike actually accomplish? A few hours after the attack, Syrian warplanes were taking off from the same airfield, and airstrikes resumed on the town where use of poison gas provoked Mr. Trump into action. No doubt the Assad forces took some real losses, but there’s no reason to believe that a one-time action will have any effect on the course of Syria’s civil war.

In fact, if last week’s action was the end of the story, the eventual effect may well be to strengthen the Assad regime — Look, they stood up to a superpower! — and weaken American credibility.

In fact, all Trump minions appear to have a thing against science and improving the lives of people and the justice for which we stand.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions will end a Justice Department partnership with independent scientists to raise forensic science standards and has suspended an expanded review of FBI testimony across several techniques that have come under question, saying a new strategy will be set by an in-house team of law enforcement advisers.

In a statement Monday, Sessions said he would not renew the National Commission on Forensic Science, a roughly 30-member advisory panel of scientists, judges, crime lab leaders, prosecutors and defense lawyers chartered by the Obama administration in 2013.

A path to meet needs of overburdened crime labs will be set by a yet-to-be named senior forensic adviser and an internal department crime task force, Sessions’s statement said.

I’ve long reached the “PopEye Point”.  The Senate Nuclear option just installed a terrible SCOTUS judge because Mitch McConnell.  We now have a President that lost the popular vote by a historically huge margin and a Supreme Court Judge that couldn’t muster the usual vote.

Gorsuch’s confirmation once again gives the Supreme Court a majority of Republican appointees, as it had before Scalia’s death, last February. But Ginsburg (who was appointed by Bill Clinton) is eighty-four; Anthony Kennedy (the Court’s swing vote, appointed by Reagan) is eighty; and Stephen Breyer (a Clinton appointee) is seventy-eight. If Trump has the opportunity to replace any of these three, much less all of them, the ideological balance of the Court will be transformed for at least a generation.

Gorsuch was quietly installed by Trump today with very little notice.

The confirmation of Justice Neil M. Gorsuch to the Supreme Court has left shattered political conventions in its wake: the refusal to hold hearings for Merrick Garland, the first partisan filibuster of a high court nominee, and the demise of the Senate filibuster for judges altogether.

All this smashed political pottery shows not only how polarized our politics have become, but how dramatically the stakes of filling a vacant Supreme Court seat have increased. Three key factors arebehind this.

First, the average tenure of a justice is much longer now. From 1941 to 1970, justices served an average of about 12 years. But from 1971 to 2000, they served an average of 26 years.

That figure has increased only since 2000. When John Paul Stevens retired from the court in 2010, he had served 35 years. When Antonin Scalia died, he had served 30 years. Anthony M. Kennedy has served 29 years, Clarence Thomas 26 years, Ruth Bader Ginsburg 24 years, and Stephen G. Breyer 23 years. Presidents who might serve only four years can have influence decades later if they can appoint someone to the Supreme Court.

Second, precisely because justices serve so much longer, vacant seats arise less often. From 1881 to 1970, a vacancy arose on average once every 1.7 years. But since 1970, a seat has become vacant only once every three years or so. In the first era, a two-term president typically would appoint four or five justices, or more than half the court. But since 1970, a two-term president would typically appoint two or three justices.

The longer period between vacancies also means that some presidents will not appoint any Supreme Court justices at all. Jimmy Carter was the first president to complete one term without having made a single appointment. If George W. Bush had been a one-term president, the same would have happened to him.

Gorsuch has a chance to fuck us over for a very long time. He’s likely to join the other religious extremists in a Taliban-like imposition of whackadoodle presumed gawdly law aka Hobby Lobby.

The most anticipated case in the April sitting is probably Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, a case about whether a state constitutional provision that prevents state funds from going to religious institutions violates the federal Constitution — both the clause protecting the free exercise of religion and the clause guaranteeing the equal protection of the laws. Here a church that contains a playground applied for a state program that helps nonprofits resurface their playgrounds. The church was denied access to the program because of its status as a church, and it argues that this is unconstitutional.

I’d say the other big cases to watch right now are the various challenges to the president’s second travel ban executive order. Both the 4th Circuit and the 9th Circuit will hear arguments in May on the constitutionality of the travel ban. Whatever happens in those cases, the losing party is virtually certain to seek Supreme Court review. Although the court doesn’t typically hear cases between April and October, it’s certainly not unheard of for it to do so — and I think it’s quite possible here, in particular if the administration loses and asks the court to act quickly. The court could also rule without hearing arguments.

So, this is about all I have room for today in me.  I’m hoping to get some work done and find some peace by leaving the TV off and walking away from the news on the internet if I can.

Please, send some money to Team Gleason or to any other group of people fighting horrible diseases.  It appears that if we don’t do it, it won’t get done unless it sends money directly to the Trump Family Syndicate.

Oh, and if you really want to be depressed about something, you can read this about predatory Student Loans or this:

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

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57 Comments on “Monday Reads: That’s all I can stands. I can’t stands no more.”

  1. dakinikat says:

    This is insane! A murder suicide at a GRADE School? WTF?

  2. dakinikat says:

  3. janicen says:

    Thank you for sharing the story of your relationship with your beloved cousin. I’m deeply sorry for your loss and I hope it will serve as a reminder to all of us to reach out to those special people we have known who have had an impact on our lives. They can be taken in a moment, although I know that Ruthie’s suffering was prolonged.

    I emphatically agree that our government should be investing heavily in scientific research to find cures or at least treatment for some of these diseases that cause so much suffering. I was thrilled when President Obama announced his cancer initiative and had hopes that it would be a beginning of aggressive investment into finding cures. But alas, here we are. I still can’t believe this has happened.

    Hugs to you, dak.

    • dakinikat says:

      Thanks. The Cancer initiative struck home with me since I am a survivor of that disease! But, really, there’s a lot of work to do on more than just erectile dysfunction, acne, and baldness drungs!

      • janicen says:

        I’d love to see more work done with stem cells to cure macular degeneration. My mother and several of her siblings lost their vision late in life because of it. It’s a genetic condition which I will very likely suffer from myself. As far as I know, stem cells are the only hope.

    • Enheduanna says:

      tRump wouldn’t even help pay medical expenses fort his nephew who suffered from cerebral palsy. There is only one person on earth who truly matters to tRump, and it’s himself.

  4. Enheduanna says:

    Dak – sincere condolences on the passing of your cousin Ruthie. I have an older cousin “Sissy” – and although we lived in separate states I always admired her (still do) for her poise and beauty. She has all the grace and confidence I lack. Anyway I remember her trying to “beautify” me with a bouffant hair style back in the 1960s on a visit. Her brother was my first “kiss” – hahahaha. Kissin’ cousins.

    I’m glad you have so many fond memories.

  5. dakinikat says:

  6. janicen says:

    Sky Dancers, I would appreciate it if you would click on this link and vote for Jennifer McClellan, Virginia. She is a state senator here and has been nominated to be named to Emily’s list 2017 Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award. I don’t know Jen personally, but I feel I know her because she is at every women’s rights march and protest in the area. She is a staunch defender of women’s reproductive rights and to her credit, she shows up, unapologetic and determined to make women’s lives better. I’d love to see her win this award because she is an up and comer. She is destined for great things.

  7. Jslat says:

    Please remove that comment awaiting moderation, dak. I signed on to a different computer and my name was changed. Thanks.

  8. Jslat says:

    Sorry about this, the name should be jslat.

  9. NW Luna says:

    dak, my deep sympathy to you at this very sad news about the loss of your cousin. ALS is a hideous disease.

    This country has cut back on science, public health and medical research funding for years. It’s harder and harder to get grants for studies. PHarma and other for-profit big corporations are proportionately funding more studies, and that’s not right. And as of Jan 20, the research funding picture took a nosedive.

    Our healthcare system does not work well for people with neurodegenerative conditions (not that it works that well for others either). One of my colleagues works with ALS patients, and lately she’s had to push back at the medical-center administration which wants her to spend less and less time with her patients. “How about 15-min visits?” Heartless.

  10. NW Luna says:

    Makes my heart want to break:

    • NW Luna says:

      Seventy-two percent of the murder-suicides involved an intimate partner. Of these, 93 percent were females killed by their intimate partners. Among the incidents where females were killed by intimate partners, 94 percent involved a gun.

      http://www.vpc.org/press/more-than-1200-americans-die-in-murder-suicides-each-year-vpc-study-finds/

      • dakinikat says:

        Yeah. That’s the really story of domestic terrorism.

        • NW Luna says:

          Yes, domestic terrorism is exactly it.

        • Earlynerd says:

          Not “domestic” terrorism. Male terrorism. Of women.

          Until women have the existential courage (in the pre-meme definition) to face facts, nothing in the U.S. will change. It will only get worse.

          • NW Luna says:

            Always thought that “domestic violence” did not adequately describe the horror of having to live in fear of abuse, ridicule, and violence, while struggling with brainwashing from society. The “domestic” seems to belittle the terrible problem.

            The domestic world, of course, being seen as less important than the “world at large” which has long been seen as the domain of men only.

  11. Enheduanna says:

    I love the GOP “Anti_Farm”! Has the GOP ever done anything to advance civilization or culture in its entire history? I guess Ike did the Interstate system – which they now want to let rot.

    We need scientists to find a pill for them – to unlock their repressed emotions and relieve their paranoia.

  12. dakinikat says:

  13. dakinikat says:

  14. Dak, So sorry you lost your cousin to ALS. That’s what got my mom in Jan of 2016. And before that she struggled with macular degeration. She was convinced the ALS was triggered by a car accident but there is only anecdotal evidence of ALS occurring that way and her doctor, who was very good, said that it had probably started prior to the accident. ALS came on so fast and was so awful for her. Thank you for putting the insufficient research into political perspective.

    • dakinikat says:

      I’m so sorry your mom went through that. My cousin was fortunate to have some time before it went full blown. I knew when I didn’t hear back from her after her birthday in January she was probably having some issues but this still hit me hard. Fortunately, a 12 year old will have a chance at live through the organ donation program.

  15. bostonboomer says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Kat. Your cousin sounds like a wonderful person. I’m glad you wrote about her.

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        Thank you Kat for writing about your cousin. This was a very powerful post. I have to admit, I could not read it right away. When you posted it…I read the first few lines and needed to stop. Some things are hard to work though nowadays. But this morning I’m glad I was able to push through it… I love you.

  16. bostonboomer says:

    I’ve got some kind of nasty virus, have been sick all day. I just wanted to check in and post this email message from Social Security Works.

    Ann,

    Last month, Donald Trump and Paul Ryan attempted to gut Medicare and Medicaid to give $1 trillion in tax breaks to the wealthy. Thanks to your resistance, that effort went down in flames. Now, rather than learning their lesson, Trump and Ryan are pivoting to an attempt to destroy Social Security to give tax breaks to the wealthy.

    This plan is much more insidious than Trumpcare. The Associated Press reports that as part of Trump’s tax reform proposal, they are considering eliminating the FICA contributions that fund Social Security. Because only the first $127,200 of wages are taxed, Trump’s team are calling this a middle class tax cut. But destroying Social Security’s funding will hurt the very people Trump purports to help.

    Sign the petition demanding that Donald Trump doesn’t raid Social Security’s dedicated funding stream to cut taxes for his wealthy friends.

    It was reported over the weekend that a GOP lobbyist close to Trump is promoting the plan to completely eliminate Social Security payroll contributions without a firm plan to replace Social Security’s funding source.

    Eliminating the payroll tax contributions is dangerous―Social Security has maintained its universal popularity over the past 81 years because everyone pays in, and everyone benefits. This dedicated funding stream also insulates Social Security from the annual appropriations process that Republicans use to squeeze other programs designed to help the middle class.

    For decades, Republicans in Washington and Wall Street bankers have told us that Social Security is going broke―even though Social Security has a $2.8 trillion surplus and can pay out 100% of benefits for the next 17 years and over 75% of benefits owed after that.

    But Republicans’ tax plans might be a self-fulfilling prophecy. By starving Social Security of its funding, they could finally receive their wish―replacing Social Security’s guaranteed benefit with unstable Wall Street retirement plans.

    Demand Donald Trump and Republicans in Washington abandon their attempts to destroy Social Security. Sign the petition to protect Social Security’s funding today!

    Together we must stay vigilant in our fight to protect and expand Social Security for current and future generations.

    Thank you,

    Michael Phelan
    Social Security Works

    • dakinikat says:

      Oh no! Get better!!

    • NW Luna says:

      WTF? Without Social Security, meager as it is, many older and disabled people will literally not be able to take care of the basic needs for shelter, food, and clothing. Mean, sadistic bastards!

      The whole SS problem could be fixed by having the fat cats who don’t pay anything after the first 127K of their income pay a % in for their whole damn incomes. It’s only fair.

      We need yet another march and massive letter-writing and calling campaign on this issue.

  17. NW Luna says:

  18. NW Luna says:

  19. Earlynerd says:

    Luna,

    Again, not directed at you. I’m just so completely disgusted with all the whitewashing, enabling terms that let men go on murdering women, and suffering next to no consequences. If the murders men commit were covered with the same horror and condemnation as the very few violent crimes women commit, they would be equally as rare. But men let men do this.

    Like the term “suffragettes”, invented to put down the courageous workers for women’s votes, terms like “domestic” violence (that cosy euphemism that excuses the number one cause of injury to women, and until they stopped keeping stats, the #1 cause of death: the man she lives with) have become accepted. Terms like this paper over and whitewash the reality of women’s lives in the U.S.

    Until women take their own rights and lives at least as seriously as anyone else’s, nothing in the U.S. will change for the better.

  20. Earlynerd says:

    Think I’ve mentioned before that WordPress hates me and the feeling is moootual. That last comment should have been entered as a reply to Luna at April 10, 2017 at 9:36 pm.

    • NW Luna says:

      The #1 cause of violent death in women: Men.

      Early, I agree with you, and wrote a comment up above.

      One day, when working at a large organization, an email alert went out that an employee had been shot in one of the office buildings, and that both she and the apparent killer were dead. Instantly I got a sick feeling and thought it was an angry, controlling man who had murdered his (present or ex-) wife or girlfriend. Days later, the company issued another statement that said the woman employee had, yes, been shot dead by her ex-boyfriend. She had filed a protection order and told her boss about it. Turns out that her boss and the company never did a damn thing to help ensure she wasn’t alone at work or that any unknown person could walk in and go back to her office. Then one day she was working alone through lunch and the man walked through several hallways and offices to find and murder her, then killed himself.

      If her boss and her employer, who has its own police force, took it seriously, as they should have, most likely her murderer would apprehended on entering the building and she would still be alive. They instituted mandatory training after that, but I still wonder how seriously most male managers take the issue of intimate-parter violence/terrorism.

  21. Sweet Sue says:

    I’m truly sorry for your loss, Dak.