Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Poll: Huge Majorities Reject Trump’s Medicare And Medicaid Cuts

New national polling from Public Policy Polling conducted for the organization Protect Our Care shows overwhelming voter rejection of the cuts to Medicare and Medicaid in the budget the Trump administration released this week, once more elevating health care to a key issue for the 2020 campaign, and creating a major headache for Republicans.

The survey found that 60 percent of voters are opposed to Trump’s proposed Medicaid cuts; 72 percent say they oppose the proposed Medicare cuts; and 50 percent say they’re less likely to vote for him because of these proposed cuts. That includes 54 percent who consider themselves independents. When the question about Trump’s proposed budget cuts was prefaced by the statement “President Trump is proposing these cuts to Medicare and Medicaid after his tax plan gave hundreds of billions of dollars in new tax breaks for big corporations, including health insurance companies and drug companies,” the number that say they are less likely to support him jumps to 54 percent. That includes 57 percent of voters over age 65 and 51 percent of independents.

The proposed budget would cut $780 billion from Medicaid over the next 10 years and reduce the growth of the program by $1.4 trillion. It would cut $846 billion from Medicare. The administration argues it’s just cutting waste, fraud, and abuse in Medicare (it doesn’t bother to justify destroying Medicaid), ignoring the fact that cuts that deep to providers in Medicare will rebound onto patients.

White House budgets are never binding, but they’re a reflection of the values and priorities of the president. Boy, is this budget a reflection of Trump—one that Democrats are going to hang around the neck of every Republican between now and November 3, 2020.

Inside Trump’s Manic And Incompetent Obsession With The ‘Wall’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

The Wall Street Journal posted a behind-the-scenes deep dive into President Trump’s signature issue, a wall along the United States’ southern border, on Friday. In the story, written by Michael Bender, Trump emerges as an angry and unprepared figure, often yelling at staffers who failed, in the President’s estimation.

“Who the f— put that in my request?” Mr. Trump shouted in one testy 2017 exchange related to funding for the wall, according to Bender’s story.

The angry comment was directed at Marc Short, then Trump’s legislative affairs director, while John Kelly, Trump’s former chief of staff, was silent in the room, per Bender. The long read further pointed out that the various failures in getting the wall started the past few years may be the fault of Trump himself, who failed to appoint a dedicated point person, despite the barrier being his signature policy initiative.

“Yet in the two years since Mr. Trump took office, there had been no single official appointed within his administration to champion the wall,” Bender writes. “A revolving cast handled negotiations with Congress over paying for it. And the picture of what, exactly, the wall should be kept shifting.”

Trump did not blame himself for the wall not being built, however. He assigned blame to Democrats and some Republicans.

According to the Journal:

During the shutdown last month, Mr. Trump complained to conservative allies that Paul Ryan should have pushed harder for wall funds. Last weekend, the president complained about it again during a meeting with a Republican member of the committee that negotiated the latest deal.

 

 

Report: Kushner Whistleblower Seeks Federal Protection

NBC News is reporting White House security specialist Tricia Newbold is now seeking official whistleblower protection from the federal government after raising concerns about “unwarranted security clearances” for Jared Kushner.

According to NBC, the specialist filed the whistleblower complaint less than two weeks after she was suspended without pay for defying her supervisor, Carl Kline.

In the complaint, Newbold says she “raised concerns” with Kline about a security clearance for an unnamed individual as early as July 2017.

The complaint does not explicitly identify the person, but sources familiar with the situation told NBC News that it was Kushner. Additionally, Newbold alleges Kline “repeatedly mishandled security files and has approved unwarranted security clearances.”

Read the full report from NBC here.

Bannon Joins Right-Wing Cabal Pushing ‘Privatized’ Border Wall

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

 

What brings together the likes of the president’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon; voter disenfranchiser Kris Kobach; notorious Blackwater founder Erik Prince; controversial former sheriff David Clarke; immigration hardliner and former Congressman Tom Tancredo; and offensive meme spewer and former baseball great Curt Schilling?

A move to supplement President Donald Trump’s proposed “wall” on the southern border with a privatized wall.

According to new reporting by Politico, the right-wing crew got together—though Prince just phoned in—for the first time last week at the border town of McAllen, Texas for “a kind of #MAGA field trip.”

The New York Times reported on the privatized wall effort late last month, but Politico is the first to report on Bannon’s involvement.

“Do we have a billion dollars right now? No. But can we raise one- or two-hundred million dollars? No doubt about it,” Bannon told the news outlet. As of this writing, the new GoFundMe page has raised a little over $20 million of its $1 billion goal.

Trump has given the effort his “blessing,” Kobach asserted to the Times.

The project reportedly got its start in Iraq war veteran Brian Kolfage’s GoFundMe page for wall funding. That evolved into a new fundraising effort and the formation of the nonprofit “We Build the Wall.”

A FAQ page for new group asserts that it is “presently working with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol experts and other U.S. border security service professionals” to target areas for a wall, which would rely on consenting landowners. “The company will build the wall mile-by-mile in strategic locations based on a variety of factors. We will build as much wall as we can based on feasibility, land use, and funding,” it continues.

That company is reportedly the Israel-based Magal Security Systems, which is behind apartheid barriers that besiege Palestinians.

The crew is getting ready to tout their project as soon as Friday at a town hall in Tucson, Arizona and later this month at the upcoming Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

Kolfage, who’s listed as a key part of the We Build the Wall team, told Politico, “we’re going to give it our all.”

 

Why Rapper Cardi B Won’t Be Silenced By Far Right

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

As quickly as Cardi B’s Instagram address about the government shutdown went viral, the 26-year-old rapper became the latest target for right-wing conservatives to harass online

“All these conservatives been harassing me and telling me the most disgusting things these past few days,” Cardi B tweeted on Jan. 22. “Listen I’m not telling ya to turn liberal all I’m saying is to admit that your president is fuckin up this country right now! Liberal or conservative we ALL suffer as citizens.”

The collective intimidation from the right culminated after conservative commentator Tomi Lahren mocked Cardi B’s political commentary, which was a much needed reality check on the government shutdown. (“Our country is in a hellhole right now,” Cardi B said, “all for a fucking wall.”)

“Looks like @iamcardib is the latest genius political mind to endorse the Democrats. HA! Keep it up, guys! #MAGA2020,” Lahren tweeted.

Cardi B replied, advising Lahren to leave her alone or she would “dog walk” her.

“I’m sure you would,” Lahren said. “Still doesn’t make your political rambling any less moronic.#BuildthatWall.”

Cardi B ended the public exchange, telling Lahren she is “so blinded with racism that you don’t even realize the decisions the president you root for is destroying the country you claim to love so much.”

And it didn’t stop there. Lahren made her media rounds, going on “Fox & Friends” to talk about how the hip hop star threatened physical violence on her (for the record, one definition on Urban Dictionary defines “dog walking” as “total domination” in addition to beating someone’s ass, and it is unclear what exactly Cardi B. meant).

Since the Twitter conversation, many media outlets have reported on a “feud” between the two, using a tired playbook: pitting two women against each other and sensationalizing the exchange, which only fuels it in the end. There is no doubt that the two engaged in a public conflict, but what many reports on the matter failed to contextualize the pattern their exchange falls into: When a woman — particularly a woman of color — speaks out about politics, and the public listens, the far right immediately tries to silence her through harassment.

We’ve seen it happen with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has become somewhat of an obsession with many Republicans. Ditto Rep. Maxine Waters. Donald Trump flat out called Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman.” Stormy Daniels has been degraded by many simply because of her profession as a sex worker, too. The attempts to marginalize these accomplished women through harassment have sexist, and in applicable cases racist, overtones.

Donald Trump’s presidency has inspired rage in progressive women, which they’ve turned into action. Since a record-breaking number of women were sworn into the House and Senate this year, many breaking barriers for religion and race, it is likely that women feeling inspired and empowered will continue to become more involved in politics, too. The center of the patriarchy is becoming increasingly unstable as it breaks down and is being reformed with more diverse leadership, and perhaps that is why popular opinions from women like Cardi B are so threatening to right-wing pundits. Or maybe it is simply her refusal to be silenced.

Politics and theories aside, Cardi B deserves respect and to be listened to. Political commentary is not reserved to those who work in politics — and anyway, even being elected to Congress won’t spare an outspoken progressive woman. Hip hop artists have a long history of political speech, of pushing for change by making music about injustice, racism, poverty and class struggles. Social media has only given many of these artists an even more open platform to make this kind of commentary more frequently and outside of the recording studio or concert stage. As Cardi B explained in a GQ interview, politics have always been of interest to her: “I love government. I’m obsessed with presidents. I’m obsessed to know how the system works.” And as many signs at the Women’s March last weekend indicated, her video about the government shutdown resonated with many followers.

In a true democratic society, anyone should be able to share their political opinions without being berated by pundits tweeting disgusting things in response. However, as online harassment trends show, we still have a long way to go before that happens. Fortunately, that doesn’t appear to be stopping Cardi B, whose fierce resistance to being silenced will only inspire more women to speak up stand their ground too, even when the trolls roll in.

 

In New York Times Email, Barr Endorses Trump’s Vendetta Against Clintons

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

 

William Barr, President Donald Trump’s pick to be the next attorney general, has a disturbing record of extreme partisan opinions on central matters of the rule of law — a record which many critics argue disqualifies him from serving at the head of the Justice Department.

A prime example of this extreme partisan bias was revealed in an email that he sent to the New York Times in 2017. Reporter Peter Baker shared the text of email in response to increased curiosity about the paper’s reporting on his opinions:

In the email,  Barr defended Trump’s calls for his enemies — in particular, Hillary Clinton — to be investigated. Not only did he defend this norm-breaking and borderline authoritarian behavior, but Barr also agreed with the substance of Trump’s call for an investigation. He similarly disparaged the basis for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, despite the mountains of public evidence supporting its continuance and the fact that DOJ was certain to have additional confidential pieces of evidence supporting its decisions. (It has since proven to indeed have much more evidence in the matter than was publicly known at the time of the email.)

“I have long believed that the predicate for investigating the uranium deal, as well as the [Clinton] foundation, is far stronger than any basis for investigating so-called ‘collusion,’” Barr wrote. “To the extent it is not pursuing these matters, the Department is abdicating its responsibility.”

No wonder Trump picked him.

In this short email, Barr betrays the fact that he has completely bought into the right-wing conspiracies surrounding the Russia investigation, Hillary Clinton, and the Uranium One deal — which none other than Fox News’ Shep Smith has rigorously exposed as nonsense.

The fact that he has clearly developed rabid partisan opinions on central matters of the rule of law should frighten any American. So too should the fact that, in swallowing this empty propaganda and then declaring as an outsider what the Justice Department should be doing, he has revealed himself to be bereft of good judgment.

 

House Republicans Finally Sanction Racist Rep. Steve King

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

 

After years of spewing hateful rhetoric, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) finally took things too far even for the GOP when he asked in a New York Times interview when white supremacy became offensive.

On Monday, Republican leaders voted to strip King of his assignments on the Agriculture, Small Business, and Judiciary committees, a substantial punishment that will drastically curtail Kong’s power to shape bills. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) called on him to resign, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said, “If he doesn’t understand why ‘white supremacy’ is offensive, he should find another line of work.” House Democrats are planning on a censure vote.

King, however, remains unbowed. In a new statement on Monday evening, he lashed out at House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and insisted that he had not said anything racist — his statement was just parsed wrong:

The problem with King’s defense is that he can’t really get the benefit of the doubt on his racism anymore. He has called Mexican immigrants drug mules with “calves the size of cantaloupes.” He has said that “diversity is not our strength” and that he wants America’s population to be more “homogenous.” He has retweeted neo-Nazi content. He gave an interview to an Austrian far-right party founded by an SS officer during a Holocaust education trip, and espoused conspiracy theories that Jewish billionaire philanthropist George Soros is secretly funding a plot to replace white Europeans with brown-skinned Muslim immigrants.

Even King’s excuse that he was simply defending our “civilization” rings hollow, because he has consistently used that word as a euphemism for “white people.” He previously claimed that it is white people, and not other “sub-groups,” that contributed to our civilization and famously warned, “we can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”

Republicans waited far too long to mete out any sort of consequences for the white nationalist in their midst. But now they finally are — and King has only himself to blame.

 

Bolton Firing Urged After Effort To Push Iran Strike Exposed

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

 

Reminding the world that he is, as one critic put it, “a reckless advocate of military force,” the Wall Street Journal revealed on Sunday that President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton “asked the Pentagon to provide the White House with military options to strike Iran last year, generating concern at the Pentagon and State Department.”

“It is imperative that this Congress investigate Bolton’s request for war options and pass legislation placing additional legal and political constraints on the administration’s ability to start a new war of choice with Iran that could haunt America and the region for generations.”
—Jamal Abdi, NIAC

“It definitely rattled people,” a former U.S. official said of the request, which Bolton supposedly made after militants aligned with Iran fired mortars into the diplomatic quarter of Baghdad, Iraq that contains the U.S. Embassy in early September. “People were shocked. It was mind-boggling how cavalier they were about hitting Iran.”

“The Pentagon complied with the National Security Council’s request to develop options for striking Iran,” the Journal reported, citing unnamed officials. “But it isn’t clear if the proposals were provided to the White House, whether Mr. Trump knew of the request, or whether serious plans for a U.S. strike against Iran took shape at that time.”

The Journal‘s report, which comes just days after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered an “arrogant tirade” of a speech vilifying Iran, sparked immediate alarm among critics of the Trump administration’s biggest warmongers—who, over the past several months, have been accused of fomenting unrest in Iran and laying the groundwork for war.

Daniel W. Drezner, a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, called the news “a reminder that when it comes to Iran, John Bolton and Mike Pompeo are batshit insane.”


Trita Parsi, founder of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), tweeted, “Make mistake: Bolton is the greatest threat to the security of the United States!” Parsi, an expert on U.S.-Iranian relations and longtime critic of Bolton, called for his immediate ouster over the request detailed in Journal‘s report.

“This administration takes an expansive view of war authorities and is leaning into confrontation with Iran at a time when there are numerous tripwires for conflict across the region,” NIAC president Jamal Abdi warned in a statement. “It is imperative that this Congress investigate Bolton’s request for war options and pass legislation placing additional legal and political constraints on the administration’s ability to start a new war of choice with Iran that could haunt America and the region for generations.”

In a series of moves that have elicited concern from members of Congress, political experts, other world leaders, and peace activists, since May the Trump administration has ditched the Iran nuclear deal—formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—and reimposed economic sanctions.

NIAC, in November, urged the new Congress that convened at the beginning of the year to challenge the administration’s hawkish moves and restore U.S. standing on the world stage by passing measures to block the sanctions re-imposed in August and November, and reverse Trump’s decision to breach the deal—which European and Iranian diplomats have been trying to salvage.

Iran continues to comply with the terms of JCPOA, according to the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). However, Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran’s nuclear chief, told state television on Sunday that “preliminary activities for designing modern 20 percent (enriched uranium) fuel have begun.” While Iran has maintained that it is not pursuing nuclear weapons, the nation would still have to withdraw from the deal if it resumed enrichment at the level.

As Iran signals that it is considering withdrawing from the JCPOA, the Journal report has critics worried that Bolton and Pompeo have the administration on a war path—with Bolton, just last week, insisting without any evidence that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. Some have compared that claim to former Vice President Dick Cheney’s infamous lie in 2002, to bolster support for the U.S. invasion, that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

“John Bolton and fellow Iran hawks believe they have two years left to collapse the Iran nuclear deal and trigger a disastrous war that the American people want no part of,” Abdi concluded. “We know that Bolton and other administration officials preferred an Iran war to negotiations prior to serving Trump. Now there is confirmation that they are still seeking out opportunities to fulfill their war agenda.”

As the Journal noted, “Alongside the requests in regards to Iran, the National Security Council asked the Pentagon to provide the White House with options to respond with strikes in Iraq and Syria as well.”

 

Trump: ‘I Don’t Care’ Most Furloughed Workers Are Democrats

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
written by  / 

 

President Donald Trump punched down at federal employees on Twitter on Saturday morning, saying he doesn’t “care that most of the workers are not getting paid” since he believes they are Democrats.

In yet another appeal to get his wall built, Trump, showed no sympathy for employees who have now gone 15 days without being paid.

You can see the tweet below:

 

 

Trump Builds A (Fake News) Wall Around Obama House

President and Mrs. Obama built/has a ten foot Wall around their D.C. mansion/compound. I agree, totally necessary for their safety and security. The U.S. needs the same thing, slightly larger version!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 30, 2018

It was a bizarre, pointless claim, which served to reveal Donald Trump’s continuing fixation on his predecessor. The security of a single home has nothing to do with the security of a country (should the United States get a dead bolt and window latches too?). And the security of a former president certainly has nothing to do with the security of the population at large, unless we think everyone needs Secret Service protection.

But aside from being pointless, the claim was, unsurprisingly, a lie.

As the Washington Post reported, the Obamas do not have a “ten foot Wall.” They also do not have a “compound.” They have a quite valuable piece of D.C. real estate in a wealthy neighborhood. But the house does not particularly stand out on the street.

“There’s a fence that goes along the front of the house, but it’s the same as the other neighbors have,” one neighbor told the Post. “It’s tastefully done.”

Pictures provided by the Post make it clearly there’s nothing like the “ten foot Wall” Trump refers to. From the street, you can see right up to the Obamas’ front door at the end of an open path along the front yard.

Why did Trump feel the need to lie about such a trivial matter that really has nothing to do with the issue at hand? Is there even any reason in asking anymore? Trump just lies. It’s what he does.

IMAGE: President Barack Obama joined onstage by first lady Michelle Obama and daughter Malia, after his farewell address in Chicago, January 10, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

DHS Chief Blames ‘Open Borders’ For Deaths Of Migrant Children

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
written by  / 

 

As human rights groups, Democratic lawmakers, and the United Nations demanded an independent probe into the deaths of two Guatemalan children in U.S. Border Patrol custody, President Donald Trump’s Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen sparked outrage on Wednesday by declaring that “open borders” advocates and the kids’ “own parents”—not Trump’s inhumane treatment of immigrants—are to blame.

“Our system has been pushed to a breaking point by those who seek open borders,” Nielsen said in a statement just hours after eight-year-old Felipe Alonzo-Gomez died in U.S. custody on Christmas day. “Smugglers, traffickers, and their own parents put these minors at risk by embarking on the dangerous and arduous journey north.”

Nielsen, who signed off on the Trump administration’s internationally condemned family separation policy, was immediately denounced for attempting to deflect attention and blame away from the White House’s anti-immigrant agenda.

In a statement on Wednesday, National Nurses United (NNU) pinned the deaths of the two young children on Trump’s treatment of asylum-seekers fleeing violence and persecution as “criminals.”

“Nurses, whose life work is to protect and heal, are appalled at the lack of humane treatment for vulnerable children, and their families, who are seeking refuge and safety in the U.S.,” said Bonnie Castillo, RN, executive director of NNU, in a statement on Wednesday. “Our government must stop treating these families, and their children as criminals. The imagery of a migrant child dying on Christmas day is especially disturbing, but we need a policy of caring and compassion every day.”

Castillo concluded that the Trump administration must “immediately end its practice of warehousing families and children in the ‘hierleras,’ make sure that all the families and children are provided safe and secure conditions while being considered for asylum, and guarantee that medical professionals are fully available to provide the ongoing professional medical assessment and needed care and support for them.”

As Common Dreams reported on Wednesday, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that it will now order medical checks for all minors in its custody.

In response, critics immediately demanded to know why it took at least two deaths in a single month for CBP to order such basic medical examinations—and why young children are being detained in the first place.

“Why are they jailing children under ten?” asked Scott Hechinger, senior staff attorney and director of policy at Brooklyn Defender Services.

 

In Twitter Meltdown, Trump Threatens Legal Action Against NBC

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

 

President Donald Trump was back to his old tricks Sunday morning, attacking Saturday Night Live for how he was portrayed last night.

Taking to Twitter after almost 24 hours of silence, he called SNL part of the “Democrat spin machine” and wondered if it was legal.

“A REAL scandal is the one sided coverage, hour by hour, of networks like NBC & Democrat spin machines like Saturday Night Live. It is all nothing less than unfair news coverage and Dem commercials. Should be tested in courts, can’t be legal? Only defame & belittle! Collusion?” Trump tweeted.

Tom Boggioni is a senior editor at Raw Story.
 

Going Viral: Hospital Letter Urges ‘Fundraising Campaign’ By Heart Patient

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
By Jake Johnson/ Common Dreams

 

As progressive lawmakers and healthcare experts have frequently pointed out in recent months, few growing trends have laid bare the fundamental immorality and brokenness of America’s healthcare system quite like the rise of GoFundMe and other crowdfunding platforms as methods of raising money for life-saving medical treatments that—due to insurance industry greed and dysfunction—are far too expensive for anyone but the very wealthiest to afford.

Providing the latest example of this horrifying trend, a Michigan woman seeking a heart transplant publicized a letter she received from the Spectrum Health Richard DeVos Heart and Lung Transplant Clinic—named after the late father-in-law of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos—informing her that she is “not a candidate” for the procedure “at this time” because she needs a “more secure financial plan” to afford the required post-operation immunosuppressive medication.

The letter goes on to explicitly recommend “a fundraising effort of $10,000” to help pay for the drugs.

Hedda Elizabeth Martin, who posted the letter on Facebook, wrote that her situation encapsulates America’s “price gouging, horribly overpriced, underinsured system,” which affects millions each day in the richest country on Earth.

The letter, which Martin received shortly before Thanksgiving, began to go viral on Saturday and quickly caught the attention of progressives like Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who identified Martin’s situation as indicative of the broad failure of America’s healthcare status quo—which produces tremendous profits for insurance and pharmaceutical giants and worse outcomes than the healthcare systems of other industrialized nations.

“Insurance groups are recommending GoFundMe as official policy—where customers can die if they can’t raise the goal in time—but sure, single-payer healthcare is unreasonable,” Ocasio-Cortez, an unabashed supporter of Medicare for All, wrote sarcastically.

Insurance groups are recommending GoFundMe as official policy – where customers can die if they can’t raise the goal in time – but sure, single payer healthcare is unreasonable.

h/t @DanRiffle pic.twitter.com/zetPW0MgDd

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) November 24, 2018

Jokes about how GoFundMe is becoming an integral part of our insane health insurance system are no longer funny. pic.twitter.com/47DrOXsc1r

— Every billionaire is a policy failure (@DanRiffle) November 24, 2018

Anyone that thinks this is okay needs a heart transplant because, clearly, they don’t have one themselves. This is immoral & not okay. We need the #NewYorkHealthAct now. #MedicareForAll@NYHCampaign @justicedems #NYHA @SenGianaris@NYSenatorRivera @SalazarSenate @Biaggi4NY #DSApic.twitter.com/XcSQ5V0ZOR

— Dan Radzikowski (@DanRadzikowski) November 24, 2018

Imagine being told you cant have a new heart because a panel doesn’t believe you can cough up $10,000. #MedicareForALLhttps://t.co/KTBSKkFsZj

— Derrick Crowe (@derrickcrowe) November 24, 2018

“‘You can’t have a heart unless you do GoFundMe for 10K’ is not a just system,” concluded Pacific Standard columnist David Perry.

In her Facebook post, Martin—who has already completed one GoFundMe campaign related to her heart troubles—noted that she “will not be put on the transplant list until I fulfill a requirement of $10,000 set aside.” (Update: Martin has started a new GoFundMe to help pay for her treatment.)

“Only when I have raised that required amount, will I then be ‘reconsidered’ for [a] heart transplant. Not automatically added to [the] list but reconsidered,” she continued. “This is new.”

Martin’s letter from Spectrum Health comes at a time when a growing number of Americans and members of Congress believe that the current for-profit healthcare system should be replaced by Medicare for All, a system that would guarantee everyone coverage regardless of their ability to pay.

In addition, as Common Dreams reported, a Koch-funded study published earlier this year inadvertently found that Medicare for All would save the American public $2 trillion in healthcare costs over ten years while covering everybody.

Jake Johnson is a staff writer for Common Dreams. Follow him on Twitter: @wordsofdissent

 

White House Dumps Major Climate Report On Black Friday

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
By Andrea Germanos / Common Dreams

 

Environmental groups, journalists, and climate scientists are reacting to the Trump administration’s decision to release a major climate report the day after Thanksgiving—a move some are describing as an effort to bury an assessment packed with an “astonishing amount of science,” and they are hoping to see that effort backfire “bigly.”

“It’s an absolute disgrace to bury the truth about climate impacts in a year that saw hundreds of Americans die during devastating climate-fueled megafires, hurricanes, floods, and algal blooms,” said National Wildlife Federation president and CEO Collin O’Mara.

“Releasing the National Climate Assessment on Black Friday,” he continued, “won’t obscure the fact that authorities are still identifying bodies in California’s unprecedented megafires, Florida is still dealing with toxic algae outbreaks fueled by warmer water, and Americans are still picking up the pieces from Hurricanes Florence and Michael and Typhoon Yutu that were worsened by climate change.”

The report is the second volume of the Fourth National Climate Assessment or NCA4, which NOAA says is designed to be “an authoritative assessment of the impacts of climate change on the U.S. and its territories, and was written to help decision-makers, utility and resource managers, public health officials, emergency planners, and other stakeholders better understand the effects of climate change on the United States.” Volume one of the assessment was released last year.

As CNN reported, the assessment was expected to be released in December:

It’s unclear why the date was moved up. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced the Friday afternoon release on Wednesday—the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Among journalists and public relations experts, releasing information on Friday afternoon—not to mention Black Friday—or around a holiday is widely seen as a way to cushion the impact of critical news. The idea is that fewer people pay attention to news releases on the weekend, and by Monday, the news is old.

Given that situation, observers pounced on the timing:

The US government’s big new National Climate Assessment will be released on…

the day after Thanksgiving?

Hmmm….https://t.co/JUsSYjQl2Y

— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) November 21, 2018

The National Climate Assessment is going to be released the Friday after Thanksgiving. Is there any way it could be buried more? How about New Years Eve at 9pm, guys?

— Angela Fritz (@angelafritz) November 21, 2018

Some noted that the report will come on the heels of Trump’s tweet confusing weather and climate to ignore science:

Trump is serving up climate science denialism less than 48 hours before the National Climate Assessment is released. The in-depth look at how climate change affects Americans, required by law, will be released 2pm ET on Black Friday to minimize coverage. https://t.co/PkX8PFmBjG https://t.co/KQZ5dFyNIZ

— John Upton (@johnupton) November 22, 2018

In two days, the fifth U. S. National #Climate Assessment will be released and Trump has just tweeted a statement so stupid that it was known to be garbage before the first Assessment was released decades ago. https://t.co/VXvV0h3ZHS

— Peter Gleick (@PeterGleick) November 22, 2018

#DonaldTrump tweets this just before the new National Climate Assesment -that his administration signed off on- is to be released. The #NCA4 is the best collection of scientific information for communities to use to prepare for #ClimateChange https://t.co/oKsbmGdfOJ

— Michael Dexter (@LittorallyMike) November 22, 2018

Others took the timing of the release as a call to action, and suggested reporters fill the weekend with coverage of the report and social media users dump the hashtag #BlackFriday in favor of #ClimateFriday in an effort to #EndClimateSilence:

Andrea Germanos is a staff writer for Common Dreams. 

 

Whitaker’s Financial Disclosures Raise Fresh Questions

Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.

 

Late Tuesday, Trump’s acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, finally released his financial disclosure form. While it is a pretty sparse document, what does appear there says a lot about Whitaker — and it’s not good.

First, it was difficult to even get Whitaker to release the form. Two weeks ago, when his appointment was first announced, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) asked to see his previous disclosures. As disclosure forms are public, that should have happened right away.

Instead, he revised the forms five times in those two weeks. It isn’t quite as bad as Jared Kushner revising his disclosure forms over 40 times, but it still isn’t great.

Next, the form shows that over the last three years, Whitaker raked in $1.2 million from a dark money group, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT). FACT won’t reveal the source of its funding but says its goal is to “expose unethical conduct by public officials.”

However, two years ago, FACT supposedly existed to study the impact of environmental regulations. That version of the group, according to a former board member, only existed on paper. Even its current incarnation appears to have no other employees than Whitaker.

Then there is the curious fact that he received campaign donations totaling $8,800 during 2017. Those donations were for his failed 2014 Senate bid but were received after he had already joined the DOJ. This likely violates the Hatch Act, which bans executive branch employees from asking for or receiving campaign donations.

This isn’t the only problem the acting attorney general faces right now. His appointment to the job, without Senate confirmation, is so problematic that even conservative commentators agree the move was illegal. He also faces a lawsuit over the appointment. That lawsuit may also relate to the timing of Whitaker’s appointment, a date that is currently shrouded in secrecy.

While Jeff Sessions’ forced resignation was announced Nov. 7, the White House refuses to say when Whitaker, Sessions’ chief of staff, was actually appointed to take his place.

With his stream of dark money, his Hatch Act violations, and his continuously revised disclosure forms, Whitaker looks a lot like his boss. Trump is also very interested in hiding the sources of his income and perpetually campaigning in order to raise even more money. Their unethical behavior, unfortunately, makes them a perfect fit.

Published with permission of The American Independent.
Header image by Melissa Joskow / Media Matters