The Koch Brothers Are Coming For Veterans’ Healthcare

We hope you made it through the 'end of the quarter' e-mail hell ok. It's over for now. This is about something important, not about candidates' dumbed down, embarrassing personal pleas:

The Kochs, the billionaire class and Trump really do think they can stiff America's veterans and get away with it.

Those #2ndGildedAge reprobates will be in for a hell of a shock next January when they see what Randy Bryce, James Thompson, DuWayne Gregory, Doug Applegate, Tom Prigg and Jared Golden are made of. They're the current members of Blue America's Progressive Veterans slate.

These aren't just battle-tested veterans... they are progressives, committed to the real ideals that have traditionally made the Democratic Party an effective vehicle for the legitimate aspirations of our country's working families. Please consider giving them a hand today-- even if there is no FEC deadline.

After publicly humiliating VA Secretary David Shulkin; letting him twist in the wind as rumors swirled that he was on the way out-- Trump finally tweeted Wednesday that Shulkin, the only Trump cabinet appointee who had been confirmed by the Senate 100-0, was out. A worst case scenario would have been the appointment of Pete Hegseth, the non-veteran Koch brothers' cutout who has spent his career planning to destroy the V.A.

It has been a longterm goal of the Koch brothers, through their phony-baloney Concerned Veterans for America, to privatize the V.A. and cut services. The Kochs and their conservative congressional allies could care less that vets have been promised healthcare as part of their reward for serving the country.

Their privatization plans are meant to cut and cap healthcare services. The Kochs are demanding Trump do it NOW, before the Democrats win back Congress in November.

Many in Congress-- on both sides of the aisle-- understand that there's a problem that has to be addressed, but that offering veterans unrestricted choice between the public healthcare system and private medical providers is not the solution. Far from it; doing so would quickly tank the whole system, exactly what the Koch network wants. Shulkin and most legitimate veterans groups prefer a program that offers private care when wait times get too long or if veterans live too far away from the facility they need.

Bernie Sanders cut right to the chase: "Republicans talk a good game about veterans, but when it came time to put money on the line for veterans, they were not there... There are people, the Koch brothers among others, who have a group called Concerned Veterans of America. Koch brothers, by the way, want to destroy Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, every governmental program passed since the 1930s."

In his NY Times OpEd on Wednesday night, Shulkin wrote that Trump fired him as Veterans Affairs Secretary because he opposed the Regime's push to privatize health care for veterans. He contended that "successes within the department have intensified the ambitions of people who want to put V.A. health care in the hands of the private sector. I believe differences in philosophy deserve robust debate, and solutions should be determined based on the merits of the arguments. The advocates within the administration for privatizing V.A. health services, however, reject this approach. They saw me as an obstacle to privatization who had to be removed. That is because I am convinced that privatization is a political issue aimed at rewarding select people and companies with profits, even if it undermines care for veterans."

"I have fought to stand up for this great department and all that it embodies. In recent months, though, the environment in Washington has turned so toxic, chaotic, disrespectful and subversive that it became impossible for me to accomplish the important work that our veterans need and deserve. I can assure you that I will continue to speak out against those who seek to harm the V.A. by putting their personal agendas in front of the well-being of our veterans."

Randy Bryce's campaign in southeast Wisconsin is so strong that a day doesn't pass that doesn't see more speculation that incumbent Paul Ryan is planning a graceful exit for himself. One thing he doesn't want to see on his public resume is that he was beaten by an everyman and iron worker. And @IronStache stands strong with fellow veterans. "When I returned home after serving our country," he told us, "I worked alongside the government to help Milwaukee’s homeless veterans. I saw the real struggles facing our community and the real opportunities our government has to assist. Over my dead body will i let a draft dodger and a couple of profiteering crooks try and privatize our V.A."

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Jim Thompson is also running a strong grassroots campaign in a very red Kansas district and making tremendous headway. Issues like the Republicans privatizing the V.A. draws more and more people to check him out. "As a veteran myself," he said, "this apparent move toward the privatization of the V.A. is not just horribly concerning, it is flat out wrong. Our government, through the V.A., owes this nation's soldiers every bit of care and help they need. Our soldiers sign up to serve their country knowing they may have to make the ultimate sacrifice, the V.A. must not use them and their care as pawns for rewarding the people and companies who would profit from this move. If we have enough money to send soldiers to war, we sure as hell have enough to take care of them when they get back. Privatization just cannot be an option for our protectors because putting profits over people is unacceptable and our troops deserve better."

DuWayne Gregory, the Chief Executive of the Suffolk County Legislature and an Army veteran currently running for the Long Island seat held by Peter King, was incensed when we spoke about Trump's plans to privatize the V.A.-- and not in the mood for compromising. " As a veteran who has served our great country I fully understand the sacrifice our veterans make to fulfill their commitment. It would be a cold day in hell before I allow Trump’s and Peter King’s corporate agenda to exceed the needs of our veterans. Suffolk County has one of the largest populations of veterans in the country. These men and women served our country bravely and deserve to remain humanized and not become a data point for a corporate profit motivated agenda. In my opinion, we can not do enough to demonstrate our respect for our veterans, the least of which, should be quality-focused not profit-driven healthcare."

We all witnessed what a ClusterF*ck the Privatized war in Iraq became. It would be a second tragedy to think the brave men and women who served though that hell (or any other engagement) would suffer the same sub-standard services and indifferent treatment in their home country. We must do better than this for our Veterans. With our slate of Blue American Progressive Vets in Congress, we can.

Please consider a donation for our fantastic Progressive Veterans on their ActBlue page.

Thanks for always doing what you can to make this a better world,

--Howie, for the entire Blue America team

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Trump Coddles His Fascist Followers, Claims Incorrectly Charlottesville Violence Was "On Many Sides"

Blue America

There was already trouble Friday night when old-fashioned KKK racists and Nazis and new-fashioned alt-right Trump supporters descended on Charlottesville looking for it. This is something they've been promoting for weeks in the fever swamps of TrumpWorld. On Friday night they were screeching anti-Black and anti-Semitic chants, marching around waving cheap Walmart tiki torches.

Although officially organized by several fascist groups, the League of the South, the National Socialist Movement, the Traditionalist Workers Party, the Fraternal Order of Alt Knights, Vanguard America and Identity Evropa, this was nothing short of a warning from the Bannon wing of the Trump Regime: Trump's supporters are easily roused to violence and that if Trump is removed there will be blood in the streets.

The Attorney General of Virginia, Mark Herring, lectured Trump that "the violence, chaos, and apparent loss of life in Charlottesville is not the fault of 'many sides.' It is racists and white supremacists." And Vote Vets pointed out to him that "Hundreds of thousands of Americans gave their lives fighting the hateful ideologies that fueled yesterday's protests and subsequent violence in Virginia. The president dishonors their memories with his 'many sides' response to yesterday's domestic terrorist attack."

Much of the country was stunned and horrified that after the first death yesterday, Trump was finally forced to say something. But his message was basically to blame both sides, referring to what happened as an "egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides."

Many sides of what? The movement he's the titular head of? Politico noted that "white nationalists cited Trump's victory as validation for their beliefs, and Trump's critics pointed to the president's racially-tinged rhetoric as exploiting the nation's festering racial tension."

The organizers had named their weekend of racist rallies, "Unite the Right." Both avowed Nazi Richard Spencer and KKK leader David Duke were present. Duke was quick to declare Charlottesville a "turning point" for a movement that aims to "fulfill the promises of Donald Trump."

When I asked Alan Grayson what he thought of the conflagration he told me that "David Duke said it far beyond my poor power to add or detract. Duke said that the racists are trying 'to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump.' If the hood fits, wear it."

Michael Keegan, President of People for the American Way, spoke for all Americans-- except Nazis and racists, obviously, when he said that yesterday's events were "heartbreaking and infuriating. When Donald Trump was elected president, many of us feared that his election would embolden radical extremists and white supremacists. Today shows that those concerns were entirely justified. Moreover, the President’s refusal to clearly and emphatically denounce a group of Nazis and white supremacists underscores his longstanding willingness to exploit the Right’s most hateful impulses for political gain-- as well as the GOP’s willingness to abide Trump’s tactics of hate in order to push its own ideological agenda. Elected officials should make clear in no uncertain terms that they condemn the hate and racism of the 'Unite the Right' rally and its leaders, and they won’t associate with those who do otherwise. Our thoughts are with the victims of today’s terror attack, as well as with their families and loved ones. I’m grateful for the activists of every race and creed who are standing up for their values every day in nonviolent protest in Charlottesville and across the country. They, not those who spew bigotry and hatred, represent the true American way."

We got in touch with Jenny Marshall, the progressive candidate running in the central North Carolina district represented by bigot Virginia Foxx. "Americans across this country," Jenny told us, "must stand together in condemning the aims of white supremacy and white nationalism. While our government must protect freedom of speech, we, as its citizens, have a duty to reject the violence provoking, hate speech and intimidation shown by the alt-right. Our president and his administration have been silent as our fellow Muslim citizens in Minnesota had their mosque attacked and again during these horrific events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia. We cannot wait for his leadership in this matter, as it is obviously lacking. So, now is the time for America's citizens to gather together and resoundingly reject bigotry and racism. We must show the world that love trumps hate."  

We reached out to prominent civil rights attorney is Jim Thompson, who is running for the Wichita-based Kansas congressional seat. We want his eloquent words to be the official Blue America response to the tragedy in Charlottesville:

"My heart aches for those injured in Charlottesville, especially for the families of the three who lost their lives standing up to hatred and protecting our democracy. The thoughts and prayers of myself and my family are with you all. As a civil rights attorney and a U.S. Army infantryman, I have sworn to protect the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. What we witnessed in Charlottesville is no less than a domestic enemy intent on the subversion of our American principles and embracing the evil of terrorism. We saw White Nationalists, Nazis, and the 'Alt Right' claiming to 'Unite the Right' and seeking to destroy equality. They consider themselves superior simply because of the color of their skin and religious preference. They raise their hands in salutes paying homage to Hitler and Nazi principles, which included the killing of millions of men, women and children of different races, colors, religions, and those who did not fit the stereotype of the “master race.” Our grandfathers fought in World War II to eliminate this stain on humanity, and we must continue their fight. In a land where all men and women are created equal and entitled to the pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, there can be no ultimate peace between the Nazi/white supremacist/'alt right' philosophy of government, and our American values stated in the Constitution. I unequivocally reject their philosophy and will continue to fight all enemies of equality, justice, and the United States of America.

"I embrace our diversity of religion, race, and opinion in this country. However, the right to an opinion does not mean that the opinion is right. When immorality, hatred and intolerance form the basis of an opinion or movement, we must exercise our freedom of speech to identify those who hold that opinion and condemn them and their beliefs. Mr. President, you must lead that charge. I ask you Mr. President to formally and unequivocally reject the alt right movement, white supremacy and Nazi philosophy, and to state their beliefs and philosophies are inconsistent with American values. Contrary to your assertion, there are not “many sides” to this issue, there are only two sides: right and wrong. Mr. President, it is long past time for you to choose which side of the fence you are on because riding the fence will just get splinters in your ass."

Thanks for always doing what you can to make this a better world,

--Howie, for the entire Blue America team

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