Manic Monday Reads: Save the American Dream

Image result for images vintage Americans picturesGood Morning Sky Dancers!

Once again, we are visited by so many odd and unfortunate things–covered all the time in the news–that have been brought on by our stolen Presidential Election that it’s difficult to get a handle on them all.  We are ruled by a monster put there by Russians and worse monsters.  This?  This is the next culture war?  More horrid attacks on children white Christians fear?  (Jeremy W. Peters / New York Times:   A Conservative Push to Make Trans Kids and School Sports the Next Battleground in the Culture War).  We’re going to have to endure additional attacks on vulnerable children ?  Children in Cages is not enough?

I’m not even going to cover that but you can go read it and and feel angry if you wish.  Today, my 64th birthday, I am searching for America the beautiful in the faces of ancestors who tried to fight the tyranny of the rich and few and the many who have suffered at their hands. Not the ones we study in school though.  It’s in the faces of ordinary Americans.  The diverse, wonderful America we love. We have shared ancestry for many reasons, shared history of both good and bad, and shared dreams promised in our Constitution.  This demands we put things right for every one. We all should be able to pursue life, liberty and justice for all.   We all share this:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

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White men started this country on the backs and blood of others.  We  are now all in this together regardless of the good done by these men and the evil.

I just read this this morning (also in the New York Times) and hope it can offset what will only be another election year of interference by Russians, Chinese, and most likely Saudi Arabia..  “Democratic Strategists Set Up $75 Million Digital Campaign to Counter Trump. David Plouffe, the former Obama campaign manager, will advise the effort, which aims to compete with the president on his terms. ”  It can’t hurt but pray that it helps.  A. LOT.  We are an increasingly diverse country and the white male minority is obviously not going down without making things nasty.

A progressive organization is plunging itself into the presidential campaign, unveiling plans to spend $75 million on digital advertising to counter President Trump’s early spending advantage in key 2020 battleground states.

The effort, by a nonprofit group called Acronym and an affiliated political action committee, is an outgrowth of growing concern by some Democratic officials that Mr. Trump could build an insurmountable edge in those key states through massive early advertising efforts. Mr. Trump has spent more than $26 million so far nationally just on Facebook and Google, more than the four top-polling Democrats — Joseph R. Biden Jr., Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg — have spent in total on those platforms.

“The gun on this general election does not start when we have a nominee; it started months ago,” said David Plouffe, who managed Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign and was a key adviser to him in 2012, and who recently joined Acronym’s board. ”If the things that need to happen don’t happen in these battleground states between now and May or June, our nominee will never have time to catch up.“

In an interview, Mr. Plouffe and Tara McGowan, the founder and chief executive of Acronym, said their digital campaign would kick off immediately with a heavy focus on shaping how the public views Mr. Trump and the Democratic Party during the primary season, well before a nominee emerges.

“Our nominee is going to be broke, tired, have to pull together the party and turn around on a dime and run a completely different race for a completely different audience,” Mr. Plouffe said.

“There is an enormous amount of danger between now and then,” he added. “If the hole is too steep to dig out of, they’re not going to win.”

Image result for images vintage Americans picturesSo, I agree with that.  I know both of them worked media miracles on the Obama campaigns so I’m all in for that.

This is the kind of thing at stake. “Wealthy Americans will receive billions in tax cuts if Obamacare is overturned, new report says.” from CNBC.  And working and poor Americans will die, I might add.

Wealthy Americans stand to gain from Obamacare’s demise.

The rich will likely receive billions in tax cuts if the health-care law is overturned, according to a new analysis published Monday from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington think tank.

The nation’s top 0.001%, the 1,409 U.S. households with annual incomes over $53 million, would receive a combined $3.8 billion in tax cuts if the law is overturned, according to the report.

That’s because overturning Obamacare would eliminate several taxes that were imposed to help pay for the law’s expansion, including a 0.9% Medicare tax on single Americans who earn more than $200,000 a year or couples who make $250,000, the report said.

A ruling against the health law would also eliminate a 3.8% Medicare surtax on net investment income for high-income filers — $200,000 for single filers and $250,000 for joint filers.

Most of these tax cuts would go to households with incomes over $1 million, who would receive tax cuts averaging about $46,000 apiece, according to the report.

The pharmaceutical industry would also benefit. Obamacare collects an annual fee from pharmaceutical companies that sell branded prescription drugs.

While the nation’s wealthiest taxpayers and pharmaceutical companies would benefit, the middle-class and poor would be at a disadvantage. About 25 million Americans may be left uninsured if the law is struck down in its entirety, including those insured through Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.

“In arguing the ACA should be struck down, the administration and the state attorneys general are in effect seeking to transfer billions of dollars of income from low- and moderate-income Americans to people on the top rungs of the income ladder,” said Aviva Aron-Dine, vice president for health policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and lead author of the report.

A federal appeals court in New Orleans is expected to issue a decision any day now on a lower court ruling that overturned Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, in a case known as Texas vs. the United States.

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The cruelty of today’s Republicans knows no bottom.  And, what about the so-called Trumpist great economy?

According to the Washington Post,  “Unemployment is climbing in key swing states, including Michigan and Wisconsin.”

There’s been a steady increase of people coming to the St. Vincent de Paul Society’s food pantry in Marinette, Wis., a small city of about 10,000 just across the border from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

In the past year or so, a slew of major employers — ShopkoKmartYounkers — have closed. J.C. Penney left the year before. After each business shuttered, visits to the food pantry ticked up. The number of people served at the food pantry has risen by 600 in just the past half-year.

“We are a lifeline for folks facing a financial crisis, which happens more often than not when they are living paycheck to paycheck,” said Kalyani Grasso, executive director of the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Marinette, which runs a food bank, thrift store and other services. “We’ve had a spate of business closures.”

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Then, there is this: from the Financial Times and Lauren Fedor : Nearly two-thirds of US voters say Trump has not made them better off

Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they are not better off financially than they were when Donald Trump was elected, casting doubt on whether economic expansion and a record bull market will boost the president’s re-election campaign in 2020. According to a poll of likely voters conducted by the Financial Times and the Peter G Peterson Foundation, 31 per cent of Americans say they are now worse off financially than they were at the start of Mr Trump’s presidency. Another 33 per cent say there has been no change in their financial position since Mr Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, while 35 per cent say they are better off. Persistently slow wage growth appeared to be a main driver of discontent, with 36 per cent of those who said they were worse off blaming their income levels. On Friday, the US labour department said average hourly income had risen 3 per cent in October, growth that was near highs for the past decade but lower than before the financial crisis. Another 19 per cent pointed to personal or family debts as the reason they felt worse off.

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And, we see more signs of NAZIs and the Klan among us  Yesterday, JJ posted on the desecration of the memorial to American Emmett Till lynched by an angry mob.

Guardians of Emmett Till’s memorial have gotten used to the site’s desecration – so used to it that a new, bulletproof plaque dedicated two weeks ago acknowledges the repeated abuse as an essential part of Till’s story.

“Signs erected here have been stolen, thrown in the river, shot, removed, replaced, and shot again,” the monument tells those who visit the Tallahatchie River, where the black 14-year-old was found 64 years ago, killed by white men never convicted. The litany of damage is a “reminder of the progress yet to be made,” the latest marker says.

So Till’s cousin Airickca Gordon-Taylor wasn’t surprised this weekend to learn about the latest outrage. A white-supremacist group had gathered in front of the memorial to shoot a video.

Gordon-Taylor says she felt a familiar anger at another testament to the racism “alive today in the fabric of our United States of America.” But there was also a feeling of resolve.

“They can keep coming, and the more they do, we can do more,” Gordon-Taylor told The Washington Post.

The visit by white nationalists to Till’s memorial has provoked a new round of dismay, at the way a remembrance of horrific injustice could be a magnet for those who promote bigotry. Till’s torture and lynching – he was accused of flirting with a white woman in a grocery store, a charge the woman would largely recant – helped galvanize the civil rights movement.

Today? (Via CNN)

Norwegian authorities have arrested a high-profile American white supremacist, hours before he was due to give a speech at a far-right conference in Oslo on Saturday.

The detained American, Greg Johnson, is editor-in-chief of the white nationalist Counter-Currents Publishing group.
He had been scheduled to speak at the Scandza Forum, a network known for its anti-Semitic and racist views.
Norway’s intelligence service considered Johnson “to be a threat, not because of what he could do but because of his hate speech and his previously expressed support for Anders Breivik,” spokesman Martin Bernsen told CNN.

Image result for images vintage Americans picturesWhite Supremacists Richard Spencer is back in the news.  Have we all caught on to the pattern of the Trump Regime by now?  This is via Vice: “Noted Racist Richard Spencer Apparently Yelled Racist Slurs After Racist Rally. Leaked audio purportedly shows the far-right leader screaming anti-Semitic slurs and threatening further violence in Charlottesville.”

In the audio, the person Milo (note: Yiannopoulos ) claims is Spencer promises to return to Charlottesville, despite the national uproar about the rally, at which hundreds of white nationalists marched and a white supremacist murdered anti-racism protester Heather Heyer when he drove a car into a crowd of counterprotesters.

“We are coming back here like a hundred fucking times. I am so mad. I am so fucking mad at these fucking people,” Spencer says on the tape. “They don’t do this to fucking me. We’re going to ritualistically humiliate them. I am coming back here every fucking weekend if I have to. Like this is never over! I win! They fucking lose!”

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You can read more from Matt Novak  writing for  Gizmodo:  “Internet-Savvy Nazi Says a Bunch of Old Fashioned Nazi Shit in Leaked Tape “.










They discard religious teachings, increase the deficit, and expand government power, but there’s one area where Republican politicians are remarkably consistent: bigotry.

They’ve proven this in Congress, reintroducing bills to allow religious discrimination against gay marriage and confirm Supreme Court nominees who likely aim to overturn the landmark marriage equality ruling.

They fight to disenfranchise black Americans, gerrymandering districts and suppressing turnout by making it harder to vote.

They try to (further) control women’s bodies, angling to overturn Roe v. Wade, and prevent sex and racial equality in the workplace with votes against equal pay initiatives.

They make clear their disdain for non-white immigrants and conduct a wide-ranging “assault on transgender existence.”

Image result for images vintage Americans pictures Indeed, nothing we see coming from them sounds the least bit like “love one another”.  Remind me who said that again?   And up on the campaign agenda  Natasha Korecki  writes this for POlitico: ‘Dems tiptoe around ‘Pocahontas’ and Hunter as Trump licks his chops ‘.

“Pocahontas?” A racial slur unfit for discussion. Bernie’s heart attack? Out of bounds. Questions about Hunter Biden’s business dealings? Stop carrying Donald Trump’s water.

To listen to 2020 Democrats, some of the most volatile critiques of the top three polling candidates aren’t worthy of public debate — even though Trump and GOP operatives have made clear they’d hammer them on those issues during the general election

Some Democrats fear the crowded field is doing the eventual nominee a disservice by tiptoeing around their possible vulnerabilities while the GOP loads torpedoes into the tubes. It’s a dynamic reminiscent of the 2016 Democratic primary, when Democrats — including primary candidate Bernie Sanders — downplayed the controversy surrounding Hillary Clinton’s emails, only to confront a vicious general election onslaught on those very questions from Donald Trump.

“Trump has more money than God, no embarrassment gene, no shame and no guardrail,” said Sue Dvorsky, former Iowa Democratic Party chairwoman, who has endorsed Kamala Harris in the race. “I worry when so many of our activists say: ‘I like all of them.’ It is not our job to like everybody, it is our job to pick one. I worry as this goes on that we are not having a vigorous enough debate.”

So, from this baby with an election time birthday during the Eisenhower Republicans regime, I say impeach the shit out of him and vote him out.  No more Steve Millers in the White House.

13199403_10154158348156703_1651337273_oSo, in 1955 both houses of Congress were controlled by Democrats.  What happened during the election cycle that led to 1956?

At the 1956 Democratic convention, in Chicago, the delegates renominated Adlai Stevenson. The only drama at the convention occurred when Stevenson opened up to the convention body to decide on his Vice Presidential running mate. John F. Kennedy opposed the veteran Senator Estes Kefauver for the nomination. Senator Kefauver won.

Stevenson faced almost insurmountable odds, in opposing the very popular incumbent President. Stevenson attempted to contrast his vigor, with Eisenhower’s health problems. Stevenson made proposals regarding benefits for senior citizens, health, education, natural resources, and economic policies. He also called for the end of the draft and the creation of a professional army. Stevenson further called for a Test Ban Treaty on Atomic weapons with the Soviet Union. Stevenson’s efforts were unsuccessful. Eisenhower won a landslide victory.

With the 1956 elections approaching the primary question was whether President Eisenhower would run for a second term. He had suffered a heart attack in 1955. In February, he announced his decision to seek a second term. He was immediately nominated for re-election by the Republicans in San Francisco. The only question was whether Nixon would remain on the ticket. Eisenhower decided in favor of keeping Nixon on as his running mate.

And the rest, as they say, is history. Let’s make some new history.  Let’s vote for a whole lot of some ones that can get us out of this hell realm.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Sunday Reads

Oh boy…

If you expand this thread, you can see up to five different views of tRump getting booed last night:

There was a lot going on last night:

And last bit of annoying news,

I thought it was a glitch on my phone, turns out it’s a new feature…this auto scroll or auto refresh that happens when you don’t want to refresh your Twitter feed. Bullshit.

Read some of the replies to that tweet and tell me if you don’t agree.

This is an open thread.

Lazy Caturday Reads: Lighter Stories for a Dark Time

By Didier Lourenco

Good Morning!!

I hope all you Sky Dancers are having a nice weekend! I’m going to stick with lightweight stories today, because I’ve been feeling so discouraged by the political news. So here goes.

You know that impenetrable wall that Trump is trying build on our Southern border? It’s not working out so well. The Washington Post: Smugglers are sawing through new sections of Trump’s border wall.

SAN DIEGO — Smuggling gangs in Mexico have repeatedly sawed through new sections of President Trump’s border wall in recent months by using commercially available power tools, opening gaps large enough for people and drug loads to pass through, according to U.S. agents and officials with knowledge of the damage.

The breaches have been made using a popular cordless household tool known as a reciprocating saw that retails at hardware stores for as little as $100. When fitted with specialized blades, the saws can slice through one of the barrier’s steel-and-concrete bollards in a matter of minutes, according to the agents, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the barrier-defeating techniques.

By Nastya Ozozo

After cutting through the base of a single bollard, smugglers can push the steel out of the way, allowing an adult to fit through the gap. Because the bollards are so tall — and are attached only to a panel at the very top — their length makes them easier to push aside once they have been cut and are left dangling, according to engineers consulted by The Washington Post….

Trump has increasingly boasted to crowds in recent weeks about the superlative properties of the barrier, calling it “virtually impenetrable” and likening the structure to a “Rolls-Royce” that border-crossers cannot get over, under or through.

Hahahahaha!! A bit more:

The smuggling crews have been using other techniques, such as building makeshift ladders to scale and overtop the barriers, especially in the popular smuggling areas in and around San Diego, according to nearly a dozen U.S. agents and current and former administration officials….

The U.S. government has not disclosed the cutting incidents and breaches, and it is unclear how many times they have occurred. U.S. Customs and Border Protection declined to provide information about the number of breaches, the location of the incidents and the process for repairing them. Matt Leas, a spokesman for the agency, declined to comment, and CBP has not yet fulfilled a Freedom of Information Act request seeking data about the breaches and repairs. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees the private contractors building the barrier, referred inquires to CBP….

In the San Diego area, smugglers have figured out how to cut the bollards and return them to their original positions, disguising the breaches in the hope that they will go unnoticed and can be reused for repeated passage. Agents said they have learned to drive along the base of the structure looking for subtle defects, testing the metal by kicking the bollards with their boots.

Kazuaki Horitomo, tattooed cats

If damage is detected, welding crews are promptly sent to make fixes. The smugglers, however, have returned to the same bollards and cut through the welds, agents say, because the metal is softer and the concrete at the core of the bollard already has been compromised. The smugglers also have tried to trick agents by applying a type of putty with a color and texture that resembles a weld, making a severed bollard appear intact.

I guess it’s not so funny when you think about what a waste of taxpayer money this boondoggle is.

Also at The Washington Post, yesterday Alexandra Petri had a little fun with Trump’s announcement that he’s now a Florida resident: ‘Why I’m Leaving New York,’ by Donald Trump. A sample:

I did not leave for a long while because I was in love with New York. I do not mean love in the gross way you feel inside that makes you weak. I mean love like, the city begged and pleaded with me, the city wanted to give me everything, they would catch and kill the bad stories for me. Here I was in Manhattan.

I remember when my publicist and I first moved to Manhattan. We needed new faces. All the old faces of contractors were upset, they whined and sobbed, they said, pay me, pay me, please. But I didn’t pay them. New York was a wonderful place, a brass jungle where dreams were made of, where you did not have to pay the people who built the dreams.

But the city changed. They say I changed, but you know. I remember. One morning I woke up and something was different. There was a time when there were so many mobsters in my office that I worried about inviting cameras in to film the first season of “The Apprentice.” Where everything was brass, or at least brazen. When the smell of graft rose up from the whatever the river is called, and it was a good place to have a family, to not change your kids’ diapers in. Did the city change, or did I, or did the tax rate, or did the ongoing prosecution by the SDNY?

By Will Barnet, American, 1911-2012

So I said, should I leave? And the people cried.

A man came up to me on the street, he said, “Sir, you can’t leave, you can’t leave New York!” And he was crying. He said, “It’s going to be carnage if you leave, sir, it’s going to be bloody, painful carnage.” And I said, “I know, believe me, it’s going to be bad, but I have to do it! What can I say? They don’t tax you so good here in New York City. They don’t treat you very nice.” I said, “Maybe treat me nice, and I will stay.” But they didn’t treat me nice, and now I have to go.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

At The New York Times, Peter Baker and Eric Schmitt analyze Trump’s insane storytelling about the killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi:

It was a vivid scene worthy of the ending of a Hollywood thriller, the image of a ruthless terrorist mastermind finally brought to justice “whimpering and crying and screaming all the way” to his death. But it may be no more true than a movie script.

In the days since President Trump gave the world a graphic account of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s last minutes, no evidence has emerged to confirm it. The secretary of defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the regional commander who oversaw the operation that killed the leader of the Islamic State all say they have no idea what the president was talking about.

Four other Defense Department officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to share details of the raid, said they had seen no after-action reports, situation reports or other communications that support Mr. Trump’s claim. Nor did they have any indication that Mr. Trump spoke with any of the Delta Force commandos or ground commanders in the hours between the Saturday night raid and his Sunday morning televised announcement.

One American official who was deeply familiar with the operation dismissed the president’s version of events as mere grandstanding. Another senior official briefed extensively on the mission said, “I don’t know how he would know that. It sounds like something he made up.” The surveillance drone video Mr. Trump watched in the Situation Room had no live audio.

‘Hallowed Cat’ by Nicola Slattery

But we’re so used to Trump’s constant exaggerations and lies that no one seems to care.

That Mr. Trump seems to have made up the scene of a whimpering terrorist may be shocking on one level yet not all that surprising from a president who over the years has made a habit of inventing people who do not exist and events that did not happen. Mr. Trump’s flexibility with fact has become such an established feature of his presidency that polls show most Americans, including even many of his own supporters, do not, as a rule, take him at his word.

What may be most telling about the episode is how little attention the disparity of details received. In the past, presidential words were scrutinized with forensic exactitude and any variance from the established record could do lasting political damage. In the era of Trumpian truth, misstatements and lies are washed away by the next story, prompting Pinocchios from fact checkers and scolding from Democrats and Never Trumpers while Republicans dismiss them with that’s-just-Trump-being-Trump weariness.

“Donald Trump is not simply a serial liar; he is attempting to murder the very idea of truth, which is even worse,” said Peter Wehner, a former strategic adviser to President George W. Bush and an outspoken critic of Mr. Trump. “Because without truth, a free society cannot operate.”

Emphasis added.

The New York Times has three stories today analyzing Trump’s Twitter feed and the power of its influence. Here’s the main one: In Trump’s Twitter Feed: Conspiracy-Mongers, Racists and Spies.

Mr. Trump, whose own tweets have warned of deep-state plots against him, accused the House speaker of treason and labeled Republican critics “human scum,” has helped spread a culture of suspicion and distrust of facts into the political mainstream.

The president is also awash in an often toxic torrent that sluices into his Twitter account — roughly 1,000 tweets per minute, many intended for his eyes. Tweets that tag his handle, @realDonaldTrump, can be found with hashtags like #HitlerDidNothingWrong, #IslamIsSatanism and #WhiteGenocide. While filters can block offensive material, the president clearly sees some of it, because he dips into the frothing currents and serves up noxious bits to the rest of the world.

By Kelly Beeman

By retweeting suspect accounts, seemingly without regard for their identity or motives, he has lent credibility to white nationalists, anti-Muslim bigots and obscure QAnon adherents like VB Nationalist, an anonymous account that has promoted a hoax about top Democrats worshiping the Devil and engaging in child sex trafficking….

The New York Times examined Mr. Trump’s interactions with Twitter since he took office, reviewing each of his more than 11,000 tweets and the hundreds of accounts he has retweeted, tracking the ways he is exposed to information and replicating what he is likely to see on the platform. The result, including new data analysis and previously unreported details, offers the most comprehensive view yet of a virtual world in which the president spends significant time mingling with extremists, impostors and spies.

Fake accounts tied to intelligence services in China, Iran and Russia had directed thousands of tweets at Mr. Trump, according to a Times analysis of propaganda accounts suspended by Twitter. Iranian operatives tweeted anti-Semitic tropes, saying that Mr. Trump was “being controlled” by global Zionists, and that pulling out of the Iran nuclear treaty would benefit North Korea. Russian accounts tagged the president more than 30,000 times, including in supportive tweets about the Mexican border wall and his hectoring of black football players. Mr. Trump even retweeted a phony Russian account that said, “We love you, Mr. President!”

In fact, Mr. Trump has retweeted at least 145 unverified accounts that have pushed conspiracy or fringe content, including more than two dozen that have since been suspended by Twitter. Tinfoil-hat types and racists celebrate when Mr. Trump shares something they promote. After he tweeted his support for white farmers in South Africa, replies included “DONALD IS KING!” and “No black man can develop land.”

Read the analyses at the NYT.

Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread. I hope you’re enjoying a great Fall weekend!

Friday Reads: Double Standards

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Georgia Rooks Dwelle… Pioneering Doctor Dedicated To Black Women’s Health

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I keep noticing the distinct difference between coverage of the male and female candidates and that of the white candidates and the candidates of color. I’m just going to point the obvious blaring one today and let you follow the links to the suggested health care policies of the top three women candidates in the race for President.

LSU Professor Robert Mann asks a good question on the day Senator Elizabeth Warren offered up her plan for Universal Healthcare to answer the questions about how you’re going to pay for that. Unlike Trump, she had a real economist working on this. So, now today, it’s talk about the points of a plan while tearing up the woman. And, she’s not alone.

Today, every one is all over it. Here are some few links to read about it to include this one from Ryan Lizza ar Politico: The issue that Obama alums think could doom Elizabeth Warren .

or this one offered by Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner: Elizabeth Warren may as well have said Mexico is going to pay for ‘Medicare for all’

Okay …

in March 1915 recently qualified Dr Isabella Stenhouse took the opportunity of joining the staff of a French Red Cross hospital behind the Front

In March 1915 recently qualified Dr Isabella Stenhouse joined the staff of a French Red Cross hospital behind the Front

But, I’m going to quote from this one from the Washington Post: ” Elizabeth Warren proposes new taxes to fund Medicare-for-all but says middle class would be spared”

In her plan, Warren assumes Medicare-for-all will be a $34 trillion program, but because some of the costs can be handled through existing spending or new savings, it would require $20.5 trillion in new spending over 10 years.

After being attacked by multiple candidates for not offering voters any detail about how she would pay for the plan, Warren took the unusual step last week of announcing she would release a plan but initially did not say what it would include. That set off major speculation among policy wonks and competitors about how she could come up with the funding for such a proposal, because outlining specific payment methods for her policy ideas has been a point of pride for Warren.

Her Democratic rivals who suggest less sweeping ideas, like making a Medicare-type program optional for everyone, have jumped on the cost issue as a way to criticize Warren as unrealistic and overpromising.

“There is no one that I’ve observed who suggests any possibility of paying for Medicare-for-all without radical a increase in taxes across the board,” said Biden, talking to reporters in Fort Dodge, Iowa, on Thursday, before the details of Warren’s plan were made public. “I’m looking forward to it. Looking forward to seeing the plan.”
South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) has also pressured Warren to explain how she would pay for the program, attacking her in the last debate with the zinger: “Your signature, Senator, is to have a plan for everything — except this.

Some had speculated Warren would back away from key parts of Medicare-for-all and bring down the cost by offering a less generous plan. She addressed that concern head-on in her proposal.

Ann Preston 1867.jpg

Ann Preston was the first woman dean of a medical school, the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania

Senator Kamala Harris introduced her Universal Health Care Plan at the end of July and yet, the only questions she gets asked are why she decided to allow people to keep their private insurance when she originally didn’t. Plus, most of the coverage–this one from Vox– was to compare and contrast it to Bernie Sanders. Her’s is a gradual transition.

Bernie Sanders’s Medicare-for-all proposal — has been central to the current Democratic debate over health care, though Harris’s responses have been somewhat muddled until this point. Her health care plan, importantly, helps clear a few things up.

In laying out her proposal, Harris notes that she supports the same end goal as Sanders, but draws some distinctions in how she would go about getting there.

Unlike Sanders’s, Harris’s plan would include a substantive role for private insurers, which would still be able to offer plans under a tightly regulated system, similar to the way that private insurers currently do through Medicare Advantage. Additionally, it would transition Americans from the existing system to Medicare-for-all in ten years, instead of four. And finally, it would use a slightly different payment mechanism: Harris backs several of the methods Sanders has suggested, including higher capital gains taxes, but would only impose taxes on households making $100,000 or more. Sanders’s plan, meanwhile, would impose taxes on households making $29,000 or more.

Experts say that Harris’s approach enables her to continue supporting universal coverage — a major priority for progressives — while also making the plan a bit more politically palatable to folks who are concerned by how disruptive it could be. With a longer transition period and an ongoing role for private insurers, it means more time for people to adjust and the appearance of greater choice.

“At the end of the ten-year transition, every American will be a part of this new Medicare system,” Harris writes in a Medium post. “They will get insurance either through the new public Medicare plan or a Medicare plan offered by a private insurer within that system.”

And how about Senator Amy Klobucher? Media? Media? Oh, look I found this one in Elle Magazine

While Klobuchar has not signed onto Medicare for All, CNBC reports that she does support universal health care, starting with a public option for people to opt into government-run plans. She supports expanding Medicaid and Medicare and lowering drug prices, including allowing Medicare to negotiate prices, according to PBS.

“On ‘Medicare for All,’ I think it is something we should look at, but I want to get there quicker and I don’t want to do any harm,” she said in an interview with CNBC. “There, I actually am not on that bill because I support a public option and improving the Affordable Care Act and keeping those protections in place and doing something about pharmaceuticals.”

In 2017, she also spoke about improving upon the Affordable Care Act, telling CNN, “We can do something quickly to fix the Affordable Care Act. That’s why we can’t afford to let them ram through a bill that’s going to make things worse by cutting millions off of health care, jacking up premiums, and doing nothing about skyrocketing drug costs.”

She’s released a $100 billion plan to combat drug and alcohol addiction and improve mental health care. The plan is focused on prevention, treatment and ongoing recovery. The issue is personal to Klobuchar, who has spoken openly about her own father’s alcoholism.

So, of course, Mayor Pete gets tons of Media Kudos for sniping at Warren. We get tons of stuff on Bernie’s plan despite lack of information on funding and can watch Biden tag on to Obama care, but I have a question.

Can women every get a break here?

I’m kind of struggling with life here atm so this is about all I’m up today. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Haunting Halloween Reads

Frida Kahlo, “Girl with Death Mask (She Plays Alone)” 1938

Ghoul Morning!!

Washington DC is an exciting place these days. Last night the Washington Nationals won the World Series and this morning the House of Representatives is debating a resolution on impeachment of the fake “president.”

CNN and MSNBC showed the House deliberations live and, as  I write this, votes are being counted. And the resolution has now passed.

The New York Times Editorial Board on the Democrats’ impeachment resolution: The Rules of Impeachment. Democrats get serious about the next phase of inquiry.

On Thursday, the House of Representatives will vote on whether to erect a series of guardrails of its own, for the possible impeachment of the president. The resolution now before Congress avoids past missteps by allowing extended questioning of witnesses by staff lawyers before preening lawmakers take the stage, and it sets fair rules that respect precedent.

Paul Cézanne, “Pyramid of Skulls,” 1901

Such rules are needed because the stakes are so high and the charges against Mr. Trump so serious. The latest bombshell landed Tuesday, when Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a decorated Army officer who serves as the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, testified that he was on the July 25 call between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, and that he heard Mr. Trump ask Mr. Zelensky to investigate a political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. More concerning, Colonel Vindman shared that the White House’s reconstructed transcript of the call left out some key details — and that administration officials refused his repeated efforts to correct the record before it was released to the public, according to an account in The Times.

With such revelations piling up, the White House and its backers have opted for a defense strategy that avoids addressing the president’s actions and focuses instead on discrediting the impeachment process as illegitimate and unfair. They have criticized House Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for not holding a formal authorization vote, for conducting closed-door depositions and for denying the president the due process afforded in formal criminal proceedings.

None of these objections hold up. Even so, Democrats aim to address them with the provisions of the resolution they will consider on Thursday.

Central to the resolution’s ambitions are ensuring order, transparency and fairness as the inquiry moves to the public stage. Rules are being set for conducting public hearings (including who gets to question whom and for how long), publicly disclosing depositions and issuing subpoenas. Guidelines have been established for the participation of Mr. Trump and his lawyers and the transfer of evidence from other committees to the Judiciary Committee, where any articles of impeachment would be considered. The rules providing for the minority party to call its own witnesses are basically the same as those set by Republicans during the Clinton impeachment.

Henryk Weyssenhoff, “Premonition,” 1893

Virginia Heffernan at The Los Angeles Times: Column: Nancy Pelosi’s impeachment deliberateness has been maddening, but it’s finally paying off.

It’s all disturbing. Very disturbing. Or rather, as Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) put it after sitting through Tuesday’s impeachment inquiry testimony, “extremely, extremely, extremely disturbing.”

So, triple-X disturbing. If House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is conducting an orchestra with this probe, she’s left the quiet early movements far behind.

With each witness, the maestra and her House of Representatives colleagues are building intensity. It’s getting hot and loud in the nation’s capital — and, sure, it’s disturbing. But it’s also galvanizing.

For fully half of Americans, the ones who now favor the president’s removal from office, there’s finally hope that Trump might — at long last — be held responsible for the grave injuries he’s done to this country.

Read the rest at the link.

Ronald Brownstein at The Atlantic: Nancy Pelosi’s Predictions for Impeachment.

Nancy Pelosi wants you to know that the House Democratic leadership has not committed to impeaching President Donald Trump—notwithstanding the muscle she’s thrown behind the inquiry, or tomorrow’s vote on how its next stage will proceed.

“We have not made any decision to impeach,” the House speaker insisted during a meeting with a small group of columnists earlier this week.

Aksel Waldemar Johannessen, “The night,” 1920

But Pelosi nevertheless left little doubt that’s where the process is headed. She said flatly that she believes the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation has already accumulated enough evidence about Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine to justify such a decision. “I do think we have enough,” she said. “We’ve had enough for a very long time … but as long as there is corroboration, we might as well get some more. And then we’ll see.” She was equally unequivocal that the core charges against Trump—that he withheld congressionally appropriated military aid to try to force Ukraine to investigate a political opponent—reach the standard of “high crimes and misdemeanors” required for impeachment.

“If this president were to get away with this, forget about it all,” she said, sitting in a conference room in her suite of offices in the Capitol. “We might as well not even run for office. You don’t need this branch of government if he’s going to overturn the power of the purse, if he is going to overturn all of the other checks and balances, the power of inquiry.”

Read the rest at The Atlantic.

I won’t publish the name here, but Republicans have publicly identified a man they claim is the whistleblower who brought attention to the Ukraine scandal. They’re exulting because he is a Democrat, but it doesn’t matter one whit, because the allegations in the whistleblower complaint have now been corroborated by multiple witnesses. Here’s the latest:

This morning, Tim Morrison, who resigned from the White House yesterday, is testifying to the impeachment inquiry.

The Washington Post: White House official expected to confirm diplomat’s account that Trump appeared to seek quid pro quo.

Tim Morrison, the top Russia and Europe adviser on President Trump’s National Security Council, is expected to corroborate the testimony of a senior U.S. diplomat who last week offered to House impeachment investigators the most detailed account to date for how Trump tried to use his office to pressure Ukraine into launching an investigation of former vice president Joe Biden, said a person familiar with the matter.

Odilon Redon, “The Cyclops,” 1898-1900

Morrison is expected to tell impeachment investigators on Thursday that the account offered by Ambassador William B. Taylor Jr., is accurate, particularly that Morrison alerted him to the president’s and his deputies’ push to withhold security aid and a meeting with the Ukrainian president until Ukraine announced an investigation of the Bidens and 2016 election interference, the person said on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive discussions

Morrison will also say that he did not necessarily view the president’s demands as improper or illegal, but rather problematic for U.S. policy in supporting an ally in the region, the person said.

Morrison’s testimony comes a day after he told colleagues he plans to leave the Trump administration. His testimony was sought due to his proximity to critical White House decisions and recurring presence in testimony from previous U.S. officials.

Also at the Washington Post, Josh Rogin writes that Morrison is not the Democrat’s friend: National Security Council aide Tim Morrison will not be part of the Resistance.

National Security Council official Tim Morrison is a lot of things: a Trump administration political appointee, a John Bolton acolyte, a naval reserve intelligence officer, a lawyer and a Russia hawk, to name a few. But Democrats might not want to pin their impeachment hopes on his testimony Thursday, because there are three things Morrison is not: a whistleblower, a Never Trumper or a potential member of the Resistance.

Each administration witness in the House’s impeachment inquiry is approaching his or her testimony differently. Kurt Volker resigned as Ukraine envoy and handed over all his documents. Acting ambassador William B. Taylor didn’t resign, delivered blistering testimony accusing President Trump of abusing his power, then returned to his post in Kyiv and received a hero’s welcome. Morrison’s former supervisor, Charles Kupperman, is declining to be deposed at all and is appealing to the courts.

Read more at the link.

Last night, the name of the lawyer who ordered Trump’s Ukraine phone call transcript hidden was revealed. The Washington Post: White House lawyer moved transcript of Trump call to classified server after Ukraine adviser raised alarms.

Moments after President Trump ended his phone call with Ukraine’s president on July 25, an unsettled national security aide rushed to the office of White House lawyer John Eisenberg.

Salvador Dali, “The Face of War,” 1940

Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine adviser at the White House, had been listening to the call and was disturbed by the pressure Trump had applied to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his political rivals, according to people familiar with Vindman’s testimony to lawmakers this week.

Vindman told Eisenberg, the White House’s legal adviser on national security issues, that what the president did was wrong, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.

Scribbling notes on a yellow legal pad, Eisenberg proposed a step that other officials have said is at odds with long-standing White House protocol: moving a transcript of the call to a highly classified server and restricting access to it, according to two people familiar with Vindman’s account.

The details of how the White House clamped down on information about the controversial call comes as the House impeachment inquiry turns its focus to the role of Eisenberg, who has served as deputy White House counsel since the start of Trump’s administration. House impeachment investigators on Wednesday evening announced they have asked Eisenberg and a fellow White House lawyer, Mike Ellis, to testify Monday.

It’s getting real for Trump, and Mitch McConnell has told him to stop attacking GOP Senators who will be jurors in an impeachment trial. Politico: After McConnell advice, Trump lays off GOP senators on impeachment.

Sitting inside the White House, Mitch McConnell gave Donald Trump some straightforward advice: Stop attacking senators — including Mitt Romney — who likely will soon judge your fate in an impeachment trial.

Vincent Van Gogh, Head of a Skeleton with a burning cigarette, 1886

The one-on-one meeting last week between the Senate majority leader and the president covered several weighty issues including Syria, according to two people familiar with the conversation. But like everything these days when it comes to Trump, impeachment was high on the president’s mind.

And in this case, Trump appears to have listened to the man in the Senate who controls the future of his presidency.

As he juggles legislative priorities like funding the government and passing a new North American trade deal, Trump can’t get his mind off Democrats’ efforts to oust him from the White House. He’s been courting his congressional allies with golf, a World Series game and frequent phone calls — all to develop an echo chamber of support from his allies in Congress.

But the White House is largely leaving the prickly task of managing the Senate Republican Conference to McConnell. Though much of the pair’s contact is concealed even from aides, people familiar with the conversations say they speak all the time — and there’s been an uptick in recent weeks as the impeachment threat grows more serious.

Can Trump resist attacking his critics? I seriously doubt it, but we’ll see.

Happy Halloween, Sky Dancers!!

Wednesday Reads: tRump Masks

Fucking frightening!

This is…an open thread.

Tuesday Reads: Climate Change Action and Impeachment Inquiry News

Good Morning!!

Action on Climate Change

Before I get started on the latest news, I want to share some information about a climate action that is taking place today in several U.S. cities, including Boston. My sister-in-law is a leader in her local chapter of Mothers Out Front, an organization that fights climate change. The group has been working to call attention to Blackrock, a huge asset management corporation whose CEO Larry Fink has tried to position himself as pro-environment, while leading the company that contributes more than any other to the problem of global warming.

My brother made this video to publicize today’s actions.

Some background:

The Guardian, May 21, 2019: World’s biggest investor accused of dragging feet on climate crisis.

[Blackrock CEO Larry] Fink, who was paid $24m (£18.8m) in 2018, began BlackRock as part of Blackstone, the world’s largest private equity group, and spun it out in 1995. Since then, New York-based BlackRock has risen to become an investing behemoth, controlling $6.5tn in assets – a value more than twice the annual output of the UK economy.

That staggering size has placed BlackRock at the heart of the global fossil fuel industry: it is the largest investor in coal worldwide, according to InfluenceMap, an environmental campaign group, and has by far the highest density of coal holdings of the world’s 10 largest investors. BlackRock effectively owns 2.1bn tonnes of thermal coal reserves, based on the size of its stakes in major miners.

In August, two of the country’s fastest growing grassroots groups – Extinction Rebellion and Mothers Out Front – sent a bold message to BlackRock staff at their Boston office.

BlackRock is counted among the top three shareholders in every oil “supermajor” bar France’s Total, and is among the top 10 shareholders in seven of the 10 biggest coal producers, according to Guardian analysis of data from financial information firm S&P.

Yet Fink, 66, who moves in US Democrat political circles, argues it is not his company’s duty to fight the climate emergency. In the real version of his annual letter to shareholders, published in January, Fink said that his overriding duty is to make customers money.

“Our firm is built to protect and grow the value of our clients’ assets,” Fink wrote. “We often get approached by special interest groups who advocate for BlackRock to vote with them on a cause. In many cases, I or other senior managers might agree with that same cause – or we might strongly disagree – but our personal views on environmental or social issues don’t matter here. Our decisions are driven solely by our fiduciary duty to our clients.”

Also from The Guardian, September 17, 2019: Wall Street investment giants voting against key climate resolutions.

Some of Wall Street’s largest asset management companies are failing to live up to commitments to use their voting power to fight the climate crisis, according to a new report.

The report, published on Tuesday by the Washington DC-based Majority Action and the Climate Majority Project, claims that BlackRock Inc, the world’s largest asset manager with more than $6tn under management, and Vanguard, with assets of $5.2tn, have voted overwhelmingly against the key climate resolutions at energy companies, including a resolution at ExxonMobil’s annual shareholder meeting, and at Duke Energy.

Had BlackRock and Vanguard not torpedoed these investor efforts, at least 16 climate-critical shareholder resolutions at S&P 500 companies would have received majority support in 2019, representing a significant corporate shift on climate, the report claims….

“The climate crisis is well upon us, and leading investors are stepping up to press fossil-fuel-dependent companies to align their strategies to the goals of the Paris agreement but some of the largest US investment companies are severely lagging,” said Majority Action’s Eli Kasargod-Staub.

“Blackrock and Vanguard have been using their shareholder voting power to undermine, rather than support, investor action on climate, including opposing every one of the resolutions proposed by the $34tn Climate Action 100+ coalition, calling for significant board room reform in response to its failure to act on climate change,” Kasargod-Staub added.

Unfortunately, it’s raining in Boston today. I expect the mothers will still show up for the demonstration though. I’ll report back if I hear anything about how it went.

UPDATES from the Boston BlackRock protest

Impeachment Inquiry News

Today a White House insider who heard Trump’s call to Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky will testify in the impeachment inquiry.

The New York Times: Army Officer Who Heard Trump’s Ukraine Call Reported Concerns.

A White House national security official who is a decorated Iraq war veteran plans to tell House impeachment investigators on Tuesday that he heard President Trump appeal to Ukraine’s president to investigate one of his leading political rivals, a request the aide considered so damaging to American interests that he reported it to a superior.

Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, arriving Tuesday on Capitol Hill.Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman of the Army, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, twice registered internal objections about how Mr. Trump and his inner circle were treating Ukraine, out of what he called a “sense of duty,” he plans to tell the inquiry, according to a draft of his opening statement obtained by The New York Times.

He will be the first White House official to testify who listened in on the July 25 telephone call between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine that is at the center of the impeachment inquiry, in which Mr. Trump asked Mr. Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

“I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine,” Colonel Vindman said in his statement. “I realized that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma it would likely be interpreted as a partisan play which would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained.”