Nunes votes with GOP: Your taxes going up

Devin_Nunes,_official

In the House’s rush to pass it’s conference bill, they mucked it up and will have to vote again, after they pull items that don’t meet the rules. Our Congressman, Devin Nunes, voted right along with the rest of the GOP, and now will get to vote “aye” twice on “tax reform”.

In simple terms this means that if you are a millionaire rancher in CA-22, you’re sitting pretty, tax-wise. Everybody else, not so much.

If you’re middle income, get ready to see your taxes go up. The Republicans have been denying this is what is going to happen, but the majority of analysts, including the CBO, say otherwise. And since they’re working their damnedest to get rid of the ACA, expect your insurance premiums to skyrocket, too.

If you’re in the very lowest income brackets, expect to really feel the pinch. Trump, McConnell, Ryan, and Nunes are making sure you are squeezed so they can give even larger tax breaks to the already super-wealthy. And you can forget about health insurance coverage at all.

Fewer than 25% of Americans think this bill is a good idea, but the Republicans are wrapping it up and putting it under your tree this year anyway.

Oh, hey look! There’s Devin Nunes, ho ho ho-ing it up with the rest of the GOP. I think I see the Grinch schmoozing with them, too.

Merry Christmas, America.

The Seven Words You Can’t Say in the Trump Administration

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George Carlin famously had a list – the seven words you can’t say on television. He would  list them off, and, if he were on broadcast television at the time, you’d have seven ‘bleeps’ covering them. Cable TV didn’t have that restriction, so you could listen and laugh. (If you want the list, just click on the link above. I’m not sure if Gannett and the Visalia Times Delta would appreciate some of them appearing here.)

On December 15, 2017, the Washington Post published an article listing the seven words the United States Centers for Disease Control is no longer allowed to say in it’s budget documents. Here’s that list (hopefully Gannett and the VTD won’t mind this one):

evidence-based

science-based

vulnerableentitlement

diversity

transgender

fetus

The Trump administration told the CDC, according to the Post,

Instead of “science-based” or ­“evidence-based,” the suggested phrase is “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes,” the person said. In other cases, no replacement words were immediately offered.

There’s no telling what “community standards and wishes” will result in with terms such as ‘transgender’ and ‘fetus’. I’m not going to list the possibilities here, but we can just imagine what some of the Trumpsters will come up with. Ignorance runs deep with them, and they’re proud of it.

In true Trump fashion, nobody will admit to authoring the list given to the CDC. Alison Kelly, an official with the CDC’s Office of Financial Services, would only say that she was simply relaying the information.

The chilling effect of the Trump administration’s attack on evidence-based research as a political tool is working it’s way through the scientific community already. NPR reportsthat climate scientists are discovering their grant requests don’t get approved if the term “climate change” is in the title or summary.

We’ve placed the idiots in charge, and they’re hell-bent (I can say that here, can’t I?) on destroying the government. The red-hats are cheering them on.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–

Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–Because I was not a Trade Unionist.Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–Because I was not a Jew.Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.

–  Martin Niemoller (1892-1984), about the Nazis.

Let’s update those words to reflect today’s reality:

First they came for the News Reporters, and I did not speak out-

Because I was not a News Reporter.

Then they came for the Muslims, and I did not speak out-

Because I was not a Muslim.

Then they came for the Scientists, and I did not speak out-

Because I was not a Scientist.

Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.

Since they don’t want government involved in anything (except war – there’s tons of money to be made in war), cancer research could the next victim of Trumpism. After all, it’s only cell growth, and, apparently, God’s will. And we know Donald Trump is a fine, upstanding Christian. Right?

Trump’s FCC just handed the Internet to the media giants

atombombThe FCC just voted to end Net Neutrality. In a party-line vote, Trump’s minions just handed the Internet in the United States over to media moguls, who will now turn your Internet access into a mirror of your cable service.

Want access to your email? Extra. Video streaming for your business meetings? Extra extra. Netflix? Way extra, with maybe a small discount if the program or movie you’re streaming is one of theirs. Want to watch BBC Online? Sorry, not offered. Here’s Faux News, instead.

Don’t believe the lies this administration is telling you. This does not “restore” any “freedom” to the Internet. This does not lift the shackles placed on innovation and creativity so cruelly placed there by the Obama administration. All this does is allow the ISPs to drain even more money from you, and to control what you have access to online.

It hadn’t occurred to me before I saw the Tweet that mentioned it, but say goodbye to your online “adult entertainment”, too.

This latest action makes it even more clear to me: If Obama did it, Trump is going to undo it. Doesn’t matter what it is, Trump’s (and his followers) hatred of all things Obama is the only real policy this administration has.

Start deciding now which things on the Internet you’re willing to pay more for, and which you’re willing to let go. Plan on those things you want being in the most expensive plans offered, and losing the off-beat, weird and wacky. Cat videos will probably be the most expensive of all.

Thanks, Hair Furor. Your legacy of destruction continues.

World AIDS Day December 1

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In honor of World AIDS Day 2017, I’m re-running my post from last year, with a few updates.

“World AIDS Day is held on the 1st of December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day, held for the first time in 1988.” – https://www.worldaidsday.org/

Some “fast facts” from the AIDS.gov website:

“More than 1.2 million people in the US are living with HIV, and 1 in 8 of them don’t know it.”

“From 2005 to 2014, the annual number of new HIV diagnoses declined 19%.”

“Gay and bisexual men, particularly young African American gay and bisexual men, are most affected.” – https://www.aids.gov/hiv-aids-basics/hiv-aids-101/statistics/(In the United States)

Currently, there are 36.7 million people world-wide living with HIV/AIDS. 1.8 million of those are children. A large percentage of those people live in sub-Saharan Africa. An estimated 35 million people have died from AIDS related illnesses since the start of the epidemic. – www.aids.gov

With treatment, HIV/AIDS has gone from a fatal condition, to a treatable disease. Although no cure currently exists, treatment with antiretroviral medications halts the spread of the virus, and the damage done to the infected person’s immune system.

The newest wrinkle is HIV/AIDS prevention is PrEP, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. “When taken consistently, PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection in people who are at high risk by up to 92%. The pill (brand name Truvada) contains two medicines (tenofovir and emtricitabine) that are used in combination with other medicines to treat HIV. When someone is exposed to HIV through sex or injection drug use, these medicines can work to keep the virus from establishing a permanent infection.” – https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/prep/Many reports are now placing the number at 99%. Undetectable = Untransmittable  This updated information from the CDC since my post of one year ago: Scientific advances have shown that antiretroviral therapy (ART) preserves the health of people living with HIV. We also have strong evidence of the prevention effectiveness of ART. When ART results in viral suppression, defined as less than 200 copies/ml or undetectable levels, it prevents sexual HIV transmission. Across three different studies, including thousands of couples and many thousand acts of sex without a condom or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), no HIV transmissions to an HIV-negative partner were observed when the HIV-positive person was virally suppressed. This means that people who take ART daily as prescribed and achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting the virus to an HIV-negative partner.https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/de0404_1f9f737da1674cdda5a42f7857cd4fa6.pdf

Tulare County averages about 30 new HIV infections a year (2011-2013).  Condoms, regular testing, ART medications, and PrEP are all steps to take to reduce the risk of HIV infection, and to prevent the spread of the disease.

World AIDS Day is a global moment of remembrance for those who have died, recognition of those currently infected, and to focus on the continuing efforts at prevention and treatment.

From The Source LGBT+ Center’s Facebook page:

Stigma for HIV continues to be a barrier for testing and treatment. With early detection and treatment people live long healthy lives and can ultimately become HIV undetectable making it nearly impossible for them to transmit HIV. PrEP can help an HIV negative person stay negative and is up to 99% effective in preventing a new infection through sexual contact. We owe the men, women, and children who died for decades a great deal of respect and reverence along with allies, doctors, and social justice fighters that never gave up the hope. We will end AIDS. #worldAIDSday

Tulare County Health and Human Services posted this comment to The Source LGBT+ Center’s Facebook posting:

Tulare County Health & Human Services Agency HHSA stands with The Source LGBT+ Center and supports this message! Confidential HIV testing sites available at https://tchhsa.org/eng/index.cfm/public-health/hiv-aids-std/ and ask your primary care physician about PrEP. Having trouble finding a physician? Call our Visalia or Farmersville Health Care Center at (559) 623-0700.

The Source LGBT+ Center holds a HIV Peer support group on the first Thursday of each month, 6pm, at the drop-in center (after hours). Contact us at 559-429-4277, or email at hivip@thesourcelgbt.org

Free confidential testing in Porterville at the Tulare County Public Health Department. First Monday of each month, 3pm to 4:30pm, 1055 W. Henderson, Suite 6.

In Tulare, at the Hillman Health Care Center, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Monday of the month, 4pm to 6pm. 1062 S. K St.

For more information, visit The Source LGBT+ Center’s HIV webpage at http://thesourcelgbt.org/hiv

Visit The Source LGBT+ Center at 208 W. Main Street, Suite B (downstairs in the Montgomery Square building), Visalia. Drop-in center hours Tuesday through Friday, 3pm till 6pm.

Phone: 559.429.4277

E-mail us through our webpage, here.

Facebook: The Source LGBT+ Center

Our webpage: The Source LGBT+ Center

Twitter: The Source LGBT+ Center

Instagram: The Source LGBT+ CenterImage: https://www.aids.gov/

Deja Vu all over again

dollarsignThe Senate GOP tax scam… er… bill… is on hold tonight. Seems the Senators are uncertain they’ve set the stage for sufficient transfers of money from poor and middle class Americans to the 1% to successfully pass the bill. Also, they may be looking for ways to throw even more than the projected 13 million off the insurance rolls before they come to a vote.

A powerful California politician was excoriated in 2010 for saying, of the ACA, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” Now that’s the reality for this bill, still being re-written only minutes before it was scheduled to go to the full Senate for a vote. Strangely, though, the right wing that went nuts about Pelosi’s statement is mum on the current shenanigans taking place in Congress.

And did you see Lindsay Graham’s comments today about the media and President Trump? “You know what concerns me about the American press is this endless, endless attempt to label the guy as some kind of kook, not fit to be president.”

And did you see Lindsay Graham’s comments in 2016, about Donald Trump? “Donald Trump is not a conservative Republican. He’s an opportunist. He’s not fit to be President of the United States.” – via Twitter, 17 Feb, 2016

Yeah. Deja vu all over again.

Nothing to see here. Move along. (US House of Representatives)

Devin_Nunes,_officialI wasn’t holding my breath.

I suppose I can spin it to say my Congressman, Devin Nunes, did exactly what I expected, so that it almost sounds like a positive. But when you are expecting to get clobbered, having it happen isn’t all that wonderful. (and that’s exactly what he did to his constituents, clobbered them with higher taxes. Well, not his political constituents. Not the moneyed interests that send him huge checks every year. Those folks are having their needs well met. It’s just the majority of the voters in his district that are going to get clobbered.)

Nunes voted “aye” on H. R. 1, the latest tax and spend bill by the Republicans. (yes, I know. “Tax and spend” is supposed to be the Democratic party’s theme. The GOP has usurped it, lock stock and barrel.)

Tax the poor and middle class, and, in effect, spend it by cutting the taxes of wealthy individuals and large corporations. Further cuts are planned in Medicare and Social Security. The individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act is on the chopping block, in a stealth maneuver to include it as an amendment in the Senate version of the bill. (The GOP couldn’t repeal the ACA, even after more than fifty attempts, and even after they controlled the House, the Senate, and the White House. Now their best effort is to try to gut it with amendments in unrelated bills.) The loss of the mandate, a conservative idea that used to be the apple of their eye even for far-right ideologues like Mitch McConnell (until a certain President adopted it as part of his plan), will drive up insurance rates across the board, as millions are thrown off the insurance rolls. Kaweah Delta, Sierra View, and (assuming it comes back) Tulare District hospitals are going to see a dramatic increase in un-insured patients landing at their emergency room doors. We’ll save some bucks by not subsidizing insurance plans, but we’ll end up paying bazillions more in emergency room costs. This brought to you by those who are supposed to be fiscal conservatives, and good with money.

Nunes voted “aye”.

In a district that covers some of the poorest areas of California, he voted “aye”.

“Aye” to increasing the taxes on those making $10,000 to $75,000 a year. Cutting taxes for those making $200,000 to $500,000. REALLY cutting taxes for the highest income brackets.

“Aye” to cutting the estate tax, so that silver-spoon set can inherit mommy and daddy’s money with no pesky government auditors asking for a small share.

“Aye” to no longer taxing American corporations for profits made overseas. Watch how domestic operations suddenly begin to run at a loss, while foreign profits (non-taxable) soar, once that becomes law.

It’s almost like the Russians have taken control of our government, and are working to destroy the United States. Without firing a single shot.

Yeah. Congress(man Nunes) these days: “Nothing to see here. Move along.”

Trump: Putin, trustworthy. CIA, NSA, FBI (+14 more), political hacks

putin_wink_API first intended to write a short blog about Armistice Day history, celebrated in the United States since 1954 as Veteran’s Day, but then President Trump, as is his wont, made another public comment that screeches like a needle across a record.

“I mean, give me a break, they are political hacks,” Trump said, of former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and former FBI Director James Comey. “So you look at that and you have President Putin very strongly, vehemently says he had nothing to do with them (attempts to disrupt the 2016 elections).”

The CIA responded today: “The Director stands by and has always stood by the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment entitled: Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections. The intelligence assessment with regard to Russian election meddling has not changed.” The Director is Mike Pompeo, a Trump appointee.

The Intelligence Community Assessment lays out the findings of the investigations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Trump is dismissing the conclusions of the finest intelligence organizations in the world, and taking the word of a former KGB agent.

The President claims “You can only ask so many times,” and that he wants to work with Putin, “I can’t stand there and argue with him, I would rather have him get out of Syria, I would rather get to work with him on the Ukraine.” So the secret to deflecting the United States is simply to tell Trump “nyet” enough times, and he’ll fold and leave the table. Left unsaid was the likely real reason he doesn’t want to challenge Putin: the ongoing attempts, started during the campaign, to secure a deal on “Trump Tower Moscow”.

President Obama slapped sanctions on Putin and his cronies for their meddling, and since Trump has a pathological hatred of anything done by POTUS 44, Hair Furor can’t let the sanctions stand, or accept the findings of the intelligence community. He’ll take the KGB’s word over the CIA’s. That’s got to do wonders for the morale of our intelligence operatives around the world.

It’s “SAD” (to use a favorite part of many of Trump’s Tweets) when the President of the United States is so easily manipulated by a foreign tyrant. Putin’s goal has always been to sow discord in the West, and he’s succeeded beyond even his wildest dreams. It’s going to take a long time for the United States, NATO, and other western alliances and governments to undo the damage that’s been done. We can begin by getting Trump out of office as soon as possible, and tossing his supporters and co-conspirators out of Congress.

As for today, we thank and honor our Veterans. Their service and sacrifice stands as a shining example of patriotism in it’s truest form.

I especially want to salute LGBT Veterans for their service. Many had to serve in the closet, and many were drummed out of the service simply for being LGBT. The current attempt by Trump and others to force transgender service members out is despicable, and we stand with them to resist this unconstitutional discrimination.

Trump may not respect the intelligence services of this country, or some members of the Armed Services, but know that he and his supporters are a minuscule minority in this country, and their actions will not stand.

Trump EPA appointee: Air too clean for children

clown-150x150You really can’t make this stuff up.

Scott Pruitt, administrator of the EPA for the Trump administration, has appointed Robert Phalen to the Scientific Advisory Board. In 2012, Phalen told the American Association for the Advancement of Science that “modern air is a little too clean for optimum health”.

Phalen is an air pollution researcher at the Irvine campus of the University of California. He’s been in that field for a long time, so one would assume that he should know what he’s talking about. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Phalen has said that children need irritants in the air, so their lungs learn how to ward them off. Much as Mithridates VI, King of Pontus, is said to have taken small amounts of various poisons to build up an immunity to them, the EPA’s latest appointment to the gutted advisory board says children need pollution to be healthy.

At least he knows he’s off the wall. He told AAAS “My most important role in science is causing trouble and controversy”.

So, if you’re a Trump supporter, how much pollution are you willing to expose your children to, in order to keep them “healthy”? How many parents in the central valley with children who have asthma are willing to let the air get dirtier? Trump won the valley by a handy margin, and now the chickens are coming home to roost. That isn’t cackling and cock-a-doodle-doo you hear, that’s the sound of your children coughing. But don’t worry, it’s good for them. Robert Phalen, Scott Pruitt, and Donald Trump say so.

Nunes votes to reauthorize CHIP, but…

Devin_Nunes,_officialI’ve often taken Representative Devin Nunes to task for things he’s done in Congress, and now we have something that is a case of doing the right thing for all the wrong reasons.

On Thursday, Nunes voted in favor of H.R. 3922, the CHAMPION Act in a procedural vote. Today the House passed it “without objection”, using something called “Rule H. Res. 601”.  The downside of this bill, and you know there had to be one, is that it will try to balance spending for it’s programs by cutting funding from other areas, and, according to Democrats, trying to further undermine the Affordable Care Act. Since the Republicans can’t get their act together enough to simply repeal the ACA outright, it’s clear they’ll sabotage it every chance they get.

The Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which voted strictly along party lines to advance the bill to the House floor, write, “While we support the reauthorization of the critical public health programs included in the CHAMPION Act, we cannot support doing so using the partisan offsets the Republicans have proposed in this bill. Rather than working together to identify offsets that we all could support, the Committee Republicans chose to continue their efforts to repeal and undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through this legislation.”

This blog started to be a compliment to Nunes for voting to support CHIP after Congress let it expire October 1st. As I read some of the details, however, it became apparent that my initial plan was simply not going to hold up. I suppose, based on Nunes’ history, that I should not have been surprised to find out this silver lining has a seriously dark cloud associated with it.

I’m finding it increasingly difficult to understand the thinking of Republicans in Congress these days. Even more than the usual negativity from them for the past decade or two, this current crop seems dead set to destroy as much of the government as possible, regardless of whom it hurts. Tax cuts for the rich, dismantling of pollution prohibitions, dismissal of science, and ignoring treason and collusion just don’t seem like the kind of leadership this great nation deserves.

I can understand conservatism, but I’m finding it impossible to understand Republicans.

“Delete (POTUS’ Twitter) Account?” ‘YES’ ‘NO’

atombomb

In what has to be one of the best ‘walking out the door’ moments in employment history so far this century, someone at Twitter deleted the personal account of the President of the United States. Twitter says the account was restored in 11 minutes, and blamed an employee who was apparently enjoying their last moments as a Tweetmeister.

I can just imagine the panic that must have set upon the management there as they realized what had happened. “Restore! RESTORE!!!!!” as they furiously pound on the keyboard.

Someone buy that unemployed genius a beer, would you?

I wonder if Twitter will write him or her a recommendation letter?