The same elitist creeps in Congress who want to end public education also want “To terminate the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency”

❝ The text of a bill introduced in the US House of Representatives in early February to dramatically change the way the government regulates environmental issues was finally posted online for public viewing, and it gets right to the point. The statement of purpose for H. R. 861 is only one line long: “To terminate the Environmental Protection Agency.”

Below that is the single directive the bill would require, if passed: “The Environmental Protection Agency shall terminate on December 31, 2018.”

❝ While it would be illegal for president Donald Trump to unilaterally abolish the EPA—which he has said he’d like to to — it is technically within the power of Congress to do so. The president does plan to sign executive orders to limit the EPA’s climate change-related work as soon as his nominee to run the agency, Scott Pruitt, is confirmed, according to sources within the Trump administration.

❝ H.R. 861 was introduced to the House by Matt Gaetz, a Republican from Florida who took office in January. It’s co-sponsored by Thomas Massie, a Republican from Kentucky, who introduced another one-line bill last week, to “terminate the Department of Education.” The text of H.R. 899 is not yet posted online, but on his website Massie promises it has only eight words: “The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018.”

It’s been 63 years since the first time I heard an American say they wished to have public education abolished. They were unashamed of the elitism they embraced. The mother of a friend simply said, “You have no right to an education unless your family can pay for it.”

I admit I was shocked. I didn’t know that people so completely caught up into the value of money and privilege lived on this planet. Not in my neighborhood. I’m not shocked anymore. Surviving a lifetime of cowardly rationales for TweedleDeeDumb two-party politics ain’t easy; but, it didn’t kill me. Although a number of war-lovers – mostly chickenhawks like Trump – tried their best to send me and my peers off to wars halfway around the planet to “defend” this nation.

But, then, I grew up in a time when our money didn’t need God imprinted on it to have any value and the creeps who fronted for weapons manufacturers were open about working for the War Department. Generations since are handicapped by listening to years of nothing but politically correct slogans governing foreign and domestic policy.

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Gag orders lifted – reveals FBI forced Twitter to share user info illegally

Twitter announced Friday it received two national security requests, one each in 2015 and 2016, asking for users’ account data without informing the affected users. The company could not reveal this earlier since it was bound by gag orders until now that restricted it from openly speaking about the matter.

The requests were received in the form of national security letters…

Each letter requests a special kind of data called electronic communication transaction records, including email header data and browsing history.

FBI requests go far beyond the limitations set by a 2008 Justice Department legal memo, which said such orders could only be restricted to phone billing records

NSLs are government orders used for obtaining communication data available to service providers. They are usually accompanied by a gag order restricting the provider from informing the user whose data is obtained. The legal tool has been available since the 1970s, but has been put into regular usage for varied purposes since the passing of the U.S.A. Patriot Act…

The use of NSLs to obtain data is being opposed by major tech companies including Twitter which is fighting its own lawsuit against the government…

Yup. Last two years of the Obama Administration.

Nothing new about Liberal Democrats supporting the same crap Big Brother ideology as scumbags in the Republican Party. You ain’t about to see Donald Trump start supporting constitutional freedoms, privacy rights or net neutrality.

We’re posting this because while some Democrats are working sincerely to bring the supposedly liberal half of the TweedleDeeDum 2-Party system in line with the real needs of working folks – they will need concerned individuals to twist their arms, remind them to walk away from Cold Warrior lies and rationales. Stop snooping on ordinary citizens.

Infrastructure, roads, bridges, airports — all suck, all need repair


Michigan fixes road the way they fix water supplies

❝ The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that the nation’s highways and bridges face an $808.2 billion backlog of investment spending, including $479.1 billion in critically needed repairs. More than two-thirds of the nation’s roads and nearly 143,000 bridges are classified in “dire need” of repair or upgrades. U.S. ports are clogged and need dredging to improve the flow of goods; railroad tracks need modernizing; airport communications technology needs updating and expansion; and urban mass transit is old and inadequate. As president, Trump wants to rebuild America’s core…

If you think the whole of these needs or a significant portion will produce a campfire singalong between elite Democrats, Progressive Democrats, Opportunist Democrats, Teapublicans, Trumpublicans, Hoover Republicans, elite Republicans — I might offer you a deal on one of those bridges. In Brooklyn.

Thanks, Obama — Fewer people are skipping doctor’s visits to save money

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The Affordable Care Act…has many provisions, but by and large it raises taxes on the rich to subsidize health insurance for people in the bottom third of the income distribution. Under the circumstances, it’s not that puzzling that conservatives want to get rid of it.

At the same time, saying that the main reason to repeal the law is in order to deliver a six-figure tax cut to millionaires is a weak argument politically. So repeal proponents often seize on very real ways in which the law’s benefits fall short, to try to make the case that somehow the ACA system is actually worse than nothing for the people who are in it. Paul Ryan [and other assorted assorted pricks], for example, says Obamacare has “failed the American people, and things are only getting worse.”

But while it’s certainly true that if you are in the top one percent of the income distribution you are paying higher taxes thanks to the ACA, a new study from the Commonwealth Fund shows that the law is succeeding in its core goal of providing people with access to health care. It looks at a number of different indicators across all 51 states (they are counting DC as a state for these purposes) and shows how many saw improvement versus stasis versus worsening.

…a couple of these things measure actual health care utilization. That’s important because many people have been disappointed by the high deductibles that often come with Affordable Care Act plans, and say the insurance the law offers is “too expensive to use.” Obviously people would be better-off with more generous insurance, but we’re seeing here that even with existing ACA plans many fewer people skipping needed care.

Part of how Republicans will try to escape this reality is by lying, of course. Interesting, so far, is that the Congressional Budget Office – a stodgy portion of our career civil servants – announced they will not participate in Republican lies about what actually is insurance vs crap imitations of health care.

Court strikes down Wisconsin Republicans’ crooked redistricting – let’s do this nationwide!

❝ With the 2016 election, Donald Trump became the first Republican presidential candidate to win Wisconsin in nearly 30 years and Republicans took control of nearly two-thirds of the Legislature, including their largest majority in the Assembly since 1957, despite a roughly even split of votes between Democrats and Republicans in statewide races.

But now a federal court may undo the redistricting that aided Republican gains in recent years with one ruling.

On Monday, a federal court overturned Wisconsin’s Republican-drawn legislative maps as an “unconstitutional gerrymander” that likely played a major factor in the party’s disproportionate electoral success.

❝ A three-judge panel…ruled that the Republican plan was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander…“We find that Act 43 was intended to burden the representational rights of Democratic voters throughout the decennial period by impeding their ability to translate their votes into legislative seats,” wrote federal appeals court senior judge Kenneth Ripple, in an 116-page decision. “Moreover, as demonstrated by the results of the 2012 and 2014 elections, among other evidence, we conclude that Act 43 has had its intended effect.”

Ripple, a Ronald Reagan appointee, continued: “Finally, we find that the discriminatory effect is not explained by the political geography of Wisconsin nor is it justified by a legitimate state interest. Consequently, Act 43 constitutes an unconstitutional political gerrymander.”

Sensible Western nations have taken away the opportunity for corrupt politicians to steer state elections into an undemocratic ambush. Not really as surprising as the James Gang showing up on payday to collect everyone’s money. Historically, both the two parties we’re generally allowed have been guilty of the same deceit one time or another; so, the Dems haven’t a boatload of motivation. Trouble is as economic inequality grows to a pointed failure of opportunity sectarian pressures grow. Populism drags its old lies on board the downbound train.

Civics-minded organizations like the ACLU fight to restore the spirit of democracy that still stands in constitutional law as One Person, One Vote. Perhaps they and their peers can win it all for all of us? I’d feel safer if folks construct a political movement that lives beyond a single issue and brings this nation back to principles over slogans, a broader economy over 1930’s-style exploitation.

In Oklahoma, thousands with mental illnesses get to go to jail, not medical treatment


Click to enlargeChris Landsberger/The Oklahoman

❝ A monthslong investigation by The Oklahoman, including the examination of hundreds of pages of jail inspection reports, found that jail staffs across Oklahoma are tasked with attempting to be mental health professionals, often with little or no training…

❝ Since statehood, Oklahoma has grappled with how to create a sustainable, comprehensive mental health system. The state has spent among the least in the nation on mental health care, all while filling jails and prisons with people who wouldn’t be there if they could afford and access basic health care for their brain disorders.

Imprisonment is not only the least effective form of “treatment” but also the costliest.

The cost of a year of state-funded mental health treatment: $2,000.

The cost of a year in prison for someone with serious mental illness: $23,000.

At last count, 60 percent of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ population — 17,000 people — have either symptoms or a history of mental illness…

Often, before these Oklahomans are sentenced to prison, they spend months, if not years, cycling in and out of county jails.

I won’t try to precis this excellent article down to the size of a blog post. The article reflects the first two of a four-part series on Oklahoma’s lousy excuse for mental health care. I think a mirror image approach to the state’s mediocre criminal justice system would show the same.

Hypocritical ideologues run the state. They care not for science, modern medicine, current concerns and remedies to substance abuse or mental illness. They run Puritan jails the way they run a Puritan legislature. RTFA. Make up your own mind.

Facts, facts? — we don’t need no stinking facts!

❝ Now that the election is over, expect the GOP to start seeing how fantastic the economy has become; to a somewhat lesser extent (no false equivalency here), the Democrats will start seeing more of its weaknesses…

❝ As Rebecca Sinderbrand, Deputy national political editor at the Washington Post noted on November 15: “that must’ve been some weekend.”

This graph and brief commentary was added by Barry Ritholtz to the larger piece he blogged – about the Dangers of a Fact-Free America.

Worth reflecting upon as thoroughly as the tag I posted here.