Nel's New Day

September 23, 2017

DDT: Week Thirty-five – Health Care, Russia Loom

The UN experience is over for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) although he’s still exchanging childish insults with North Korea. In addition to the cliffhanger question of a world war, Now the U.S. is waiting for a vote in the Senate about health care repeal and replace with less money to most of the states. Sen. John McCain has come out against the bill, but GOP Senate leaders want to buy Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) vote. The bill gives Alaska and Montana—just those two states—continued advantages of the Affordable Care Act: premium tax credits from Affordable Care Act repealed for other states, delayed Medicaid per capita caps delayed, and “an increased federal Medicaid matching rate. Less than three months ago, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), co-author of this bill, ranted against buying off people to get votes for a health care bill.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) explained the push to get the bill passed in the next week before the filibuster takes over:

“I could maybe give you 10 reasons why this bill shouldn’t be considered. But Republicans campaigned on this so often that you have a responsibility to carry out what you said in the campaign.”

Grassley means that the Koch brothers and friends will pull the plug on donations without legislation. At a June retreat, one donor declared that his “Dallas piggy bank” was closed until the GOP manages to “get Obamacare repealed and replaced, get tax reform passed.”

Congress wants DDT to continue his warmongering throughout the world. Sixty-one senators defeated a measure that would have limited DDT’s ability to wage war anywhere he wants. Congress has abdicated its responsibility to determine times and places of warring on other countries. An amendment from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) to the defense bill would have repealed a post-9/11 military authorization allowing DDT to determine times and places of warring on other countries. Paul said:

“What we have today is basically unlimited war anywhere, anytime, anyplace upon the globe. Even if my colleagues say, ‘war, war, that’s the answer everywhere, all the time,’ by golly, come down and put your name on it.”

DDT plans to extend drone strikes and commando raids in any countries where Islamic militants are active without high-level vetting. Such action could lead to attacks in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Russia has threatened retaliation against the U.S. if their troops continue to come under fire. The recent shelling of Syrian government positions by U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has also put Russian troops under fire.

Other Russia problems:

Difference of opinion between DDT and his administration:

“The Russia hoax continues, now it’s ads on Facebook.” – DDT

“It is clear, and this administration and the entire government has been clear that Russia meddled in the campaigns and the election. That is inappropriate. Absolutely inappropriate. No one takes issue with that whatsoever.” – State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert

Media reported that federal investigators allegedly secretly wiretapped former DDT campaign manager Paul Manafort before and after the 2016 election and plan to indict him. He was first surveilled for employment by a pro-Russia Ukrainian political party and then watched for his collusion between DDT’s campaign and Russian officials to get DDT elected. Two weeks before DDT became the GOP nominee, Manafort offered to brief a Russian billionaire with close ties to Russia. In July, Mueller executed a “no-knock” search warrant on Manafort’s home to stop him from destroying documents connected with violation of tax laws, money-laundering, and foreign lobbying. Mueller has also asked for documents in 13 areas of interest from the White House and Air Force One, including DDT’s firing former FBI director James Comey and DDT’s son’s meeting with a Russian lawyer.

Information about Michael Flynn’s secret meetings and lobbying for the U.S. to spread nuclear power across the unstable Middle East, possibly with Russia’s help, have been expanded with the knowledge that he was joined by Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner, who still has security clearance. Michael Flynn’s legal fees are supposedly about $1 million, and he’s asking for donations. DDT and Don Jr. don’t have problems with their legal bills: they’re using money from DDT’s 2020 reelection campaign and the RNC. This the first case of a sitting president using campaign funds for criminal matters.

Facebook’s advertising against Clinton paid by Russia continues with Mueller’s investigating DDT’s campaign digital operation and its overseer, his son-in-law Jared Kushner. Billionaire Robert Mercer’s data firm, Cambridge Analytica, made Facebook’s fake news into Propaganda Center for DDT.

Michael Cohen, former DDT lawyer, will be required to testify in an open hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee instead of a closed meeting with staff because he broke his agreement not to release a public statement before the meeting.

Nicaragua has decided to sign the Paris climate agreement leaving the United States alone with Syria in opposition.

Back on the home front:

White House staffers are flocking to headhunters, seeking positions in the private sector. The turnover date seems to be January, one year less than usual for new presidential administrations. White supremacist Sebastian Gorka, fired from the White House, already got a new gig as “chief strategist” with the “MAGA Coalition,” that supports political candidates who will “compete against globalist corporatists interests.” His first gig was with Sarah Palin—yes, the former VP candidate—at a rally for far right evangelist Roy Moore at the September 26 runoff for Alabama GOP senate candidate. A sample of Moore’s rhetoric about Native Americans and Asians from the state Supreme Court Justice who refused to follow the law on marriage equality:

“Now we have blacks and whites fighting, reds and yellows fighting, Democrats and Republicans fighting, men and women fighting. What’s going to unite us? What’s going to bring us back together? A President? A Congress? No. It’s going to be God.”

Opposing Moore is appointed Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL), the preference of DDT and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). DDT lukewarm comments at Strange’s rally won’t inspire confidence. “I don’t know him. I met him once.” And “that is the tallest human being I’ve ever seen.” DDT said that he might be making a mistake in backing Strange and would rather be home watching television. It was—“strange.”

The 10th Circuit Court ruled that BLM violated federal law by failing to consider climate impact of four coal leases on federal land in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. Three of the leases are actively being mined, and two of them produce about 20 percent of the coal used to generate electricity. A month ago, a federal judge made the same ruling in blocking the expansion of an underground Montana coal mine.

California is suing DDT in opposition to his “wall” because it is unconstitutional and breaches environment laws.

DDT is using a report that censored data in a refugee policy in attempt to show that refugees from war-torn countries “are not a net benefit to the U.S. economy.” His HHS report shows that refugees brought in “$63 billion more in government revenues over the past decade than they cost.”

A teamsters union representing 120,000 New York workers has declared itself a “sanctuary union” after ICE deported long time member Eber Garcia Vasquez. His asylum case was turned down in 2013, but he annually checked in with immigration authorities and had applied for a green card. Vasquez’s wife and three children are U.S. citizens.

DDT’s old travel ban expires tomorrow, and he needs new plans. One may be to extend the existing six countries that he thinks have not protected against terrorists and criminals coming to the U.S. The current ban goes to the Supreme Court on October 10 for argument. After over eight months since his inauguration and declaration of bans, DDT hasn’t been able to put together a vetting system.

The Trump Organization, still owned by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), has decided to clean up DDT’s bio for posterity. Gone are all references to his birther fight—his attempts to prove that President Obama was not born in the United States—and all his bankruptcies and other failed deals. It also removes any mention to Macy’s dropping DDT’s product line because of his racist remarks about Mexican immigrants and reference to Istanbul’s Trump Towers. DDT doesn’t own that property or most buildings labeled “Trump” outside the United States, but the Turkish owners bought his name for between $1 million and $5 million. A year ago, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wanted the towers to be renamed because of DDT’s Islamophobic comments.

As part of DDT’s order for anti-leak training at all executive agencies, the EPA required its employees to undergo the hour-long training. Part of the instruction is that they cannot release any information even if unclassified. Training materials were leaked to the press. The EPA has received press about its cozy relationship with the fossil fuel industry, its purging federal scientists, and its removal of information about climate change from the EPA website. Other information includes the EPA’s rolling back regulations.

Could this be considered a death threat? Ann Coulter suggested “death squads” for removing the president who didn’t live up to her anti-immigration expectations.

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September 22, 2017

DDT’s UN Speech:  World War III, Anyone?

Voters for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) claim that they prefer him because he can get them jobs and make them well-off. They like his love of violence even better. At rallies, his audience cheered when he told his supporters to physically attack any protesters and promised to pay for the lawyer if his supporter would attack a black protester. The audience yells in approval when he bullies, threatens, and humiliates any opposition—women, people with disabilities, people of color, anyone who criticizes him. His proposed budget cuts taking money from helping people to vastly increasing the military expenditures show how little he cares for humanity.

During his campaign, DDT endorsed torture and applauded waterboarding. As president, he retweets videos of himself physically attacking others, the most recent a doctored video of his golf ball hitting Hillary Clinton in the back and forcing her to fall. In a speech to Long Island (NY) police officers, he called on them to be physically brutal and then issued directives to send military surplus weapons to local law enforcement. DDT’s first pardon was in admiration for a man who physically abused thousands of people, primarily minorities, under the guise of being a county sheriff.

DDT’s executive orders lead to physical abuse, for example the Muslim ban and the direction to immigration to drag all Latinx into deportation, including those who contribute to society and who are U.S. citizens. He wants to take health care from tens of millions, leading to illness and death, and incarcerate far more people, partly because of misguided perspective of drug use. In less than eight months since his inauguration, DDT has called for U.S. military action—or actually perpetuated this—in several Middle Eastern countries (especially Iran), Venezuela, Mexico, North Korea, Libya, Pakistan, and probably other places that I’ve missed.

The only places that escape DDT’s ire are Russia, Israel, and countries where his name is on a building. He even admires the violence that other countries wreak on people in the U.S. He denies that he apologized to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the security force’s violence while Erdogan was in the U.S. Yet this past week, DDT effusively praised his “friend,” Erdogan, and gave him “high marks” for “running a very difficult part of the world.” DDT described his introduction of Erdogan as “a great honor and privilege” just hours after Erdogan supporters beat up protesters at an Erdogan speech.

Of the foreign leaders from 32 countries that DDT has hosted, 15 are from nations scoring in the bottom half of the 112 democracies measured by Global Democracy Ranking or from nations that have autocratic rule.

DDT’s speeches and interviews during the UN General Assembly demonstrate his need to express violence and insult world leaders. Instead of using diplomacy, he promised to eradicate North Korea at any provocation, as if killing over 25 million people—not to mention the ten million residents of Seoul, South Korea—was no problem. In the same speech, he attacked Iran by threatening to break it. Unlike any other U.S. president who has spoken before UN representatives, DDT delights in violence brutality as a reflection of his power.

DDT loses his favorability rating in the United States, the countries throughout the world—except for Israel and Russia—have an increasingly unfavorable view of him. Without positive views from those two countries, the averages for favoring him (50 percent) and trusting the U.S. (27 percent) would have been far lower. By August, confidence in the U.S. president to do the right thing in international affairs had dropped from 64 percent for President Obama to 22 percent to DDT. If it’s any consolation to DDT, George W. Bush’s ratings were worse by six years after he was first inaugurated, but DDT still has over three years to get there. Detailed comparisons of the last three presidents are available here.

Events at the UN may have brought down his favorable ratings even more. His “joke” about the collapse of Venezuela fell flat:

“The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.”

After four seconds, he received a very tepid response.

DDT the ignorant appeared when he created a new African country—Nambia. In fact, he praised their health care. There are the countries of Namibia, Zambia, and Gambia; DDT could have meant any one of them. But there is no Nambia—yet. With this speech, DDT made the United States the joke of this year’s UN General Assembly. Even more than their health care, DDT likes their resources. “My friends go to Africa to get rich,” he said. Namibia is one of the biggest producers of uranium in the world. “I congratulate you,” DDT said about his friends. “They’re spending a lot of money.”

DDT the bully emerged during his lecture to North Korea as he repeated his name of “rocket man” for a country’s leader. In his juvenile attempt to taunt Kim Jung-Un before an international community, DDT embarrassed the United States. The speech included a casual threat to annihilate over 25 million people by saying that he might “totally destroy” North Korea.

Fifteen years ago, a U.S. president spoke to the UN about his unnecessary preemptive war with Iraq that he started the next spring to divert attention from the war in Afghanistan. George W. Bush’s action led to hundreds of thousands dead and wounded, a vast increase in the number of terrorists throughout the world, trillions of dollars taken from the people of the United States, complete ruin for several Middle East countries, and the disappearance of finding terrorists in Afghanistan. DDT’s speech before the UN shows that he hopes to emulate George W. by diverting attention from North Korea to one in Iran.

The deal that DDT ridiculed prevents Iran from getting a nuclear weapon for years. UN inspectors verified that Iran is complying with the terms of a deal to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon for a long time. DDT’s administration has verified that Iran is keeping its bargain, and the world, including Russia, supports it. DDT’s threats have caused Iran to develop a nuclear weapon if the U.S. breaks the deal and then confront the U.S. in war. At the same time, breaking the Iran deal would show the world that DDT refuses to seek a diplomatic solution with North Korea and fail to support the U.S.

About DDT’s message to the UN, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said, “It was the wrong speech, at the wrong time, to the wrong audience.” Iran took the opportunity to be critical of the U.S. at a sympathetic international forum.The U.S. has its problem with Sweden. Secretary of Defense James Mattis has threatened retaliation if the country, one of 122 backing a UN treaty for a total nuclear weapons ban, signs the treaty. His letter states that Sweden’s signature could affect U.S./Sweden military cooperation with U.S. military support and threatened U.S. support for Sweden’s role in NATO.

Sarah Snyder, an associate professor who studies human rights at the American University’s School of International Service, said that DDT’s language in his speech such as “loser terrorists” is more suitable for schoolyard fights than arguing “about international policy.” DDT’s vocabulary hasn’t improved an continues to be counterproductive. After Kim called DDT a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard,” DDT shot back with “madman.”

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov approved of DDT’s message that “the U.S. would not impose its way of life on others,” but it didn’t approve of DDT’s namecalling. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said:

 “We continue to strive for the reasonable and not the emotional approach…of the kindergarten fight between children.”

Israeli’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supported DDT’s speech in his own delivery to the UN because of his hatred for Iran.

Current senior aides argued against DDT’s attacks on Kim Jung-Un, including his use of “Rocket Man” in an attempt to humiliate the young leader, telling him that it would lead to an empasse with North Korea. (First, the weapons are missiles, not rockets, and second, Elton John’s “Rocket Man” is a sympathetic figure.) Former aide Sebastian Gorka claimed that he and another former white supremacist aide Steve Bannon helped write the speech before they left the White House. Current chief of staff, however, looked unhappy about the speech as DDT delivered it.

Thinkprogress.com noted: “Nowhere in the speech did Trump appear to see the irony in threatening other countries at an institution meant to uphold peacekeeping. Nor did Trump explain why other countries would want to negotiate with an administration that’s so eager to undermine America’s international agreements, such as the Iran nuclear deal.”

The world is suffering from the results of climate change in just the past month—an unprecedented large number of strong hurricanes, two earthquakes in Mexico after a hurricane, landslides in the Congo and Sierre Leone, and flooding in South Asia. Yet DDT spends his time planning how to pander to his supporters by inciting violence that can lead to World War III.

September 21, 2017

Don’t Go Away, Hillary!

Much of the coverage of a book released in September, What Happened, has been extremely negative as both right and left media tell her to go away. They treat her as badly as they did during her campaign and blame her for her election loss after a perfect storm of opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Russian influence, incessant lying about her, and the release of negative information from former FBI director James Comey less than two weeks before the election despite the his refusal to release evidence about Russians colluding with the campaign of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT).

Heather Digby Parton, however, has a different perspective, as the following article shows:

I’m not going to review Hillary Clinton’s book What Happened, since there are approximately 12,576 reviews out there already, with more to come. But I do want to discuss one issue that came up in the book that has been addressed in a couple of those reviews. That would be the fact that the press regularly and tiresomely slags Clinton for her failures in the 2016 campaign but have still completely failed to acknowledge their own.

There are many aspects of this story that are unique to Clinton. As Politico’s Jonathan Allen, then of Vox, wrote at the beginning of the campaign, there was an establishment media groupthink about her that was obvious, although the press itself seemed completely oblivious to it. (I wrote about this on Salon in real time as it unfolded and after the race was over. )

Allen put it bluntly:

“The Clinton rules are driven by reporters’ and editors’ desire to score the ultimate prize in contemporary journalism: the scoop that brings down Hillary Clinton and her family’s political empire. At least in that way, Republicans and the media have a common interest.”

Indeed they did. (As it turns out, maybe some members of the Russian government did too.) And one aspect of the coverage verged on outright corruption: the “deal” The New York Times and The Washington Post made with a Steve Bannon associate to publish excerpts of a book of lies called Clinton Cash that set the tone for much of the coverage to come.

The Atlantic’s James Fallows addressed the press obsession with the Clinton email story in his review of What Happened:

“No sane person can believe that the consequences of last fall’s election — for foreign policy, for race relations, for the environment, for anything else you’d like to name (from either party’s perspective) — should have depended more than about 1 percent on what Hillary Clinton did with her emails. But this objectively second- or third-tier issue came across through even our best news organizations as if it were the main thing worth knowing about one of the candidates.”

David Roberts at Vox took on the subject by analyzing in depth the way the media reported one particular incident in the campaign: Hillary Clinton’s alleged “coal gaffe,” which he described as “navigating a hall of mirrors.” Her comment about putting coal miners out of business was poorly phrased, but as it was reported, it was also truncated and taken out of context. The way her response was then distorted by the GOP and the press as an illustration of Clinton’s disqualifying character flaws was the real crime, Roberts writes:

“Mainstream news outlets should stop treating ‘how it looks’ as though it’s some fact in the universe that they discover. They are the arbiters; they decide how it looks. They build and reinforce narratives. They seek out confirming evidence and ignore disconfirming evidence. They amplify some voices and not others. They direct attention, which is the coin of the realm in modern politics. If they draw attention to a bullshit scandal, they are the ones ensuring that it damages the campaign. If they play along with the ludicrous notion that Clinton loves firing coal miners, they are sanctioning and disseminating misinformation. They are not doing their jobs.”

Whether you are convinced by these arguments or not, it’s tempting to write them off as something that only pertains to Hillary Clinton. There is no doubt that the narratives spun around her in the campaign and for years prior were informed by systemic sexism. The press is no different from the rest of society in being unable to grapple with that reality. But in fact, this wasn’t the only time this happened.

The coverage of the 2000 presidential campaign, and to a lesser extent the 2004 campaign as well, had similar characteristics. In the race between George W. Bush and Al Gore, the media mercilessly abused the latter with a series of shallow character attacks that were both unfair and untruthful. Roberts’ analysis of Clinton and the “coal gaffe” is exactly the same sort of prejudicial coverage the media gave Gore for his “I invented the internet” and “Love Canal” gaffes, among a dozen others.

One vivid illustration of journalists’ collective disdain for Gore was reported in Time’s article about an early New Hampshire debate between Gore and his Democratic primary rival, Sen. Bill Bradley:

“The 300 media types watching in the press room at Dartmouth were, to use the appropriate technical term, totally grossed out. Whenever Gore came on too strong the room erupted in a collective jeer, like a gang of fifteen-year-old heathers cutting down some hapless nerd.”

Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank explained why the press corps was so hostile:

“Gore is sanctimonious, and that’s sort of the worst thing you can be in the eyes of the press. And he has been disliked all along, and it was because he gives a sense that he’s better than us — he’s better than everybody, for that matter, but the sense that he’s better than us as reporters. Whereas President Bush probably is sure that he’s better than us — he’s probably right, but he does not convey that sense. He does not seem to be dripping with contempt when he looks at us, and I think that has something to do with the coverage.”

Reporter Margaret Carlson explained in her book that one of the reasons the media gave Bush such good coverage was that he served Dove bars and designer water on the press plane, while Gore only offered granola bars and sandwiches.

As far as I know, the media have still never given their coverage of that campaign a second thought. Four years later, John Kerry was mocked for ordering the wrong cheese and drinking green tea and otherwise being a snobby New Englander without the common touch of George W. Bush, originally of Kennebunkport, Maine. And then there was 2016 and “her emails.”

None of this is to say that these candidates weren’t flawed or bear no responsibility for the outcome of those races. The point is that the press corps made a collective decision that they didn’t “like” these people and obsessively covered them in a trivial manner, as if they had been running for homecoming queen instead of president of the United States. With fake news and social media and foreign propaganda distorting our democracy, it’s past time for the press to stop behaving like the mean girls of D.C. High.

Parton’s comments above demonstrate the control that the media has over elections. Canadian Kristen Pyszczyk also published a piece discussing the disproportionate scrutiny Clinton received as a woman. Mitt Romney used private email when he was the Massachusetts governor and then destroyed them when he left office. Congress ignored the 13 attacks on U.S. embassies killing 65 people, and embassy attacks during the Reagan presidency killed hundreds. Pyszczyk wrote:

“We live in a culture where women are shamed for speaking up, seeking power and existing successfully in the public eye. (Check out the comments section to this piece if you don’t believe me!) The mere fact that Clinton is still speaking out is incredible.”

Pyszczyk was 100-percent right about the comments. She also repeated Carly Fiorina’s “joke” on the campaign trail:

“If you want to stump a Democrat, ask them to name an accomplishment of Hillary Clinton.”

Here are a few:

First ever student commencement speaker at Wellesley College. Distinguished graduate of Yale Law School. Former Director of the Arkansas Legal Aid Clinic. Former civil litigation attorney. Former Law Professor at the University of Arkansas School of Law. Former First Lady of Arkansas. Former First Lady of the United States, and the first FLOTUS in US History to hold a postgraduate degree. First ex-FLOTUS in US History to be elected to the United States Senate. Elected by the… State of New York to serve two terms in the United States Senate. Former US Secretary of State. GRAMMY Award Winner.

And a few more. Clinton:

  • Laid the groundwork for today’s healthcare plan supported by a majority of people.
  • Helped develop State Children’s Health Insurance Program for poor children.
  • Helped create the Adoption and Safe Families Act and the Foster Care Independence Act.
  • Successfully fought to increase research funding for prostate cancer and asthma at the National Institute of Health (NIH).
  • Spearheaded investigations into mental illness plaguing veterans of the Gulf War revealing Gulf War Syndrome.
  • Championed the Violence Against Women Act
  • Helped create the DOJ office on Violence Against Women.
  • Worked to secure over $21 billion in funding for the World Trade Center redevelopment after 9/11.
  • Drafted the first bill to compensate and offer the health services for 9/11 first responders after taking a leading role in the investigation of these health consequences.
  • Introduced the Pediatric Research Equity Act to alleviate over-dosages for children with chronic diseases like epilepsy and asthma.
  • Proposed a revival of the New Deal-era Home Owners’ Loan Corporation to help homeowners refinance their mortgages in the wake of the 2008 financial disaster.
  • Brokered human rights with Burma and acted as a major proponent of ceasefire between Hamas and Israel.
  • Called for the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan that led to his death.
  • Constantly traveled as Secretary of State in diplomatic missions.
  • Co-founded the Clinton Foundation that improves living conditions for nearly 400 million people in over 180 countries.

Before that:

  • Founded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families to educate the public on children’s issues.
  • Chaired Arkansas Educational Standards Committee, which created new state school standards.
  • Founded Arkansas Home Instruction Program for Pre-School Youth.
  • Helped created Arkansas’ first neonatal intensive care unit.

This article has more.

And Carly Fiorina? She was fired as an executive because of serious problems at the company. Clinton has spent her life helping women, children, veterans, etc. while DDT who lies, bullies, cheats, and destroys everyone except the wealthy.

September 20, 2017

GOP Desperate to Pass Bad Bill to Get Re-elected

“We need to pass something–anything. We promised.” That’s the excuse behind the most recent care bill, the fourth one this year, that is the worst one thus far. And GOP senators admit that their bill is worse than the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Asked why the GOP bill is better, John Barrasso (R-WY) said that there “shouldn’t be” essential health care benefits in a health care bill.  Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that some “big blue states” would be hit with huge cuts. “The CBO scoring is just a detail,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI). “[States] can do it with less money,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), but he didn’t explain how—probably by not providing health care to as many people.

The bill, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) myopically said, “wouldn’t cut Alabama.” (Not everyone is that lucky: Louisiana, co-author Sen. Bill Cassidy’s state, will lose health insurance for 433,000 people.) Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) said “it’s an improvement over Obamacare” because he will “get to vote for repeal it.” Kennedy has one concern about states’ rights in health care: he’s afraid that they may decide to have single-payer plans. He doesn’t want money from the “American taxpayer” to go toward single-payer plans despite the fact that “blue” states pay more to the federal government than they get back. When Kennedy asked for an amendment to stop these states’ rights, Lindsey Graham assured him it was in the bill. Republicans want state innovation but only by their rules.

But Graham may not know what’s in the bill. A senior GOP aide commented, “If there was an oral exam on the contents of the proposal, graded on a generous curve, only two Republicans could pass it. And one of them isn’t Lindsey Graham.” It was obvious he knew nothing about the bill that he “co-authored” during questions from a reporter. The aide added, “You could do a post office renaming and call it ‘repeal-replace’ and 48 Republican senators would vote for it sight unseen.”

Sen. Bill Cassidy, co-author of the bill, has this reason for justifying a bad bill.

“We must [pass the bill by September 30] because there is a mother and father whose child will have insurance because of Graham Cassidy Heller Johnson.”

Otherwise Cassidy flat-out lied in defense of his bill by claiming that it gives more coverage to people and protects people with preexisting conditions. His office claims that the bill, which slashes funding, will provide more funding to every state. Only 15 states will benefit financially. The plan carries the nickname “Screw Blue Bill” because it removes $57,547 per Californian and $33,058 per New Yorker. But states that hurt the most are the ones in poverty that supported Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and expanded Medicaid under the ACA—Louisiana, Arkansas, Arizona, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Maine, Iowa, Alaska, New Mexico, North Dakota, West Virginia, and Montana. And it hurt seniors, disabled, and the poor everywhere. They all have GOP Senators who will vote to take health insurance from their constituents. (More about these states here.) These are the winners and losers in the next decade.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), who will push the bill through the House if the Senate passes it, tweeted in favor of the bill:

“I’ll take federalism over Obamacare any day.”

It’s not “federal”: the bill turns money over to states, some of which will feed the funding into balancing their budgets instead of health care. This message comes from the man who has lived off federal money since he was 16 and got Social Security.

The Congressional Budget Office doesn’t have time to score the bill, but experts believe it will throw the same tens of millions of people off health care insurance as earlier GOP bills or be worse. A CBO scoring is mandated for Senate bills, but they plan to vote without “point estimates of the effects on the deficit, health insurance coverage, or premiums for at least several weeks.” Without this knowledge and without reading the bill, senators will be blindly voting on the bill using their personal assumptions.

Cassidy-Graham health care bill would have these impacts:

  • Proposed block grants for states that are below current funding will eliminate marketplace subsidies and enhanced matching rate for the Medicaid expansion and disappear in 2026. States have no requirement to provide coverage or financial assistance to low- and moderate-income people.
  • A per capita cap will replace Medicaid’s federal-state financial partnership that cuts funding for seniors, people with disabilities, and families with children.
  • People with preexisting conditions will lose coverage because the only stipulation for premiums is “affordable” with no consideration for a person’s income.
  • Withdrawal of mandated coverage for essential health benefits means people can purchase health insurance without provisions for mental health, substance abuse treatment, maternity care, and hospitalization.
  • People with preexisting conditions will lose coverage because the only stipulation for premiums is “affordable” with no consideration for a person’s income.
  • States can waive age rating rules, essential health benefits, the prohibition on medical underwriting, prohibition on annual and lifetime limits, and the required medical loss ratio for plans and enrollees who receive some benefit from the state’s block grant funding.
  • The loss of subsidies and insurance mandate destabilize the individual insurance market, risking its collapse.
  • The bill prevents any impetus to fix the ACA, proposed by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) that had a September 27 deadline to stabilize health care for the coming year.

States that created fewer uninsured under the ACA will lose their money to states that were failures. (Another version of winners and losers)

 

Just ignore protesters. That’s the position of GOP senators and DDT who are committed to passing this bill. DDT blocked a 41-year-old woman with State 4 cancer on his Twitter feed because of her appeals to him. The Cassidy-Graham bill would place a $140,510 surcharge on an annual health premium for a 40-year-old woman with metastatic cancer.

Half the governors signing a letter opposing the Cassidy-Graham bill to decimate health care are not Democrats. They were joined in opposition by GOP Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland. Sixteen patient and provider groups, from the American Heart Association to the March of Dimes, criticized the bill for destroying Medicaid and protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Other medical groups urged Republicans to fix the Affordable Care Act instead of the repeal and were joined by hospitals and insurers, appalled by the unworkable and irresponsible concept of 50 insanely different state health care systems.

Senators supporting the Cassidy-Graham bill are pushing hard because September 30 is the deadline to pass any bill with a simple majority. After that the filibuster goes into effect.

Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ)  governor, Doug Ducey, asked him to vote for the bill despite Ducey’s not knowing how much money his state will lose. (Governor Ducey, you’ll lose over $1 million a year until 2026 when you’ll start losing lots more. Does that make a difference?) Twelve days ago, McCain said that health care reform “must” follow regular order. He may rationalize a couple of hearings, on before the Senate Homeland Security Committee with no jurisdiction over the issue, as “regular.” The bill has two witnesses—co-author Cassidy and Graham. GOP Senators plan to change almost 20 percent of the world’s largest economy and endanger the health security of tens of millions of people without minimal committee hearings and no testimony from experts, debates, or public input—all for a partisan win.

A reporter who interviewed nine GOP senators found these five lies, according to Forbes: (1) States will be more “efficient”; (2) It’s the last chance to do anything; (3) The ACA is responsible for rising healthcare premiums; (4) The decrease in future rates of growth is not a cut; (5) States need to be the innovators; and (6) The problem is some states get the lion’s share of the federal money. As the conservative magazine pointed out, the one truth is that the entire issue with the Republicans is “about politics and not public policy.”

Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of the Nation wrote:

“GOP legislators … assume low-wage and moderate-income families should have less health-care protection than the wealthy…. Republicans want to strip millions of health insurance, including seniors in the last days of life, the disabled and women with infants. Democrats want everyone to have the right to affordable health care. There is a choice.”

Passing the Cassidy-Graham bill destroys both health care and the democratic process.

September 19, 2017

Follow Website on Russian Collusion

Filed under: Russia — trp2011 @ 9:43 PM
Tags: , , ,

Whenever news about the involvement of Russia in the presidential election comes up, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) diverts the news elsewhere by some outrageous statement. Rob Reiner, film director and political activist, and David Frum, former George W. Bush speechwriter and senior editor at the Atlantic, are leading a group to collect news about Russian interference in one place on a new website, investigaterussia.org. The website, launched today to disseminate information about Russia’s involvement in U.S. politics, is from The Committee to Investigate Russia. Members on the committee include James Clapper, a former Director of National Intelligence; Charlie Sykes, a conservative commentator; Max Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations; and Norman Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

In the past, attacks on U.S. democracy from foreign countries have brought the people of the United States together to fight these invasions, Reiner said. Russia’s offensive, however, has only separated people because Russian propaganda has been so pervasive that conservatives believe it. A strong focus of the Russia offensive now is to help undermine the credibility of our nation’s media. News about the results of U.S. intelligence agencies delving into Russia’s attempts to sway people with their lies is even more vital because social media continues to disseminate the false propaganda coming from Russia. The goal of the Committee to Investigate Russia is to put widespread data from hundreds to sources in one location.

Although none of the committee members support DDT, they come from different political parties. Reiner said:

“This isn’t about politics, which is why this project is backed by both conservatives and liberals and people with such deep national security expertise. It’s about a foreign invasion. It’s important that every American, regardless of party, can stay informed about and understand this critical threat. This is about ensuring the Russians cannot wage war on us without Americans knowing about it and making sure our elected leaders do something about it.”

David Frum said:

“Russia is not the Soviet Union. They have to leverage America’s weaknesses against America, including, above all, our intense partisan and other divisions. We are Trump skeptics of the willingness to believe things because they make you feel good in the moment.”

On-going investigations from Congress and a special investigation group led by Robert Mueller have revealed evidence of Russian interference that threatens democracy. The purpose of this group is to educate people with updates, investigations, past news, history, timelines, and people related to the danger from Russia.

Reiner explained the reason for communicating the danger that Russia presents:

“The answer is Republicans and Democrats coming together and saying this cannot stand. Make no mistake about it: if there was an atom bomb dropped on us, we would pay attention. What has happened is conceivably way worse than that. Because it’s not just disrupting the election. Cyber warfare has disrupted electrical grids, nuclear power plants and as of now, they’ve hacked into our nuclear plants and electric grids over 50 times this year.”

The right-wing press such as Breitbart has tried to persuade people that the news about Russia’s meddling is “fake,” but Jon Huntsman, DDT’s nominee for ambassador to Russia, testified in his confirmation hearing:

“There is no question — underline no question — that the Russia government interfered with the U.S. election last year and Moscow continues to meddle in processes of our friends and allies.”

 

 

The website for the Committee to Investigate Russia describes itself as follows:

The Russian Active Measures campaign aimed at the United States has been exposed. Using hacking, Twitter armies, and fake news, the Kremlin engaged in an aggressive effort to subvert the American democratic process. Now, only months into his term of office, the President and his staff are facing multiple investigations in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives and by a Special Counsel for the Department of Justice.

The Committee to Investigate Russia is a nonprofit, non-partisan resource provided to help Americans recognize and understand the gravity of Russia’s continuing attacks on our democracy. All relevant information is aggregated in one place to provide context and allow users to see the full picture of what Russia has done and will continue to do unless we start paying closer attention.

For generations, people have fought to protect democracy. Now it is our turn.

DDT has consistently refused to block Russia’s interference in U.S. domestic affairs. People who want to protect democracy in the United States should sign up for this website. Investigaterussia.org

September 18, 2017

DDT’s Hires Selected to Destroy U.S.

Filed under: Executive action — trp2011 @ 10:19 PM
Tags: , ,

People disappear from the world of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) soon after he starts addressing them by Mr., as with “Mr.” Bannon. Aides also say that another sign is his refusal to look them in the eye as happened with Gary D. Cohn, chair of the National Economic Council, after the former Goldman Sachs executive described his disgust at DDT’s white supremacist remarks after the neo-Nazis’ violence in Charlottesville (VA). Cohn is also no longer a contender for the next Federal Reserve chair after publicly disagreeing with DDT.

DDT’s world, however, is still filled with wealthy corrupt cronies who either benefited him in the past or could give him personal advantage in the future. A common characteristic among most Cabinet members is that they had no experience or knowledge to carry out the agencies’ missions. They are also very rich, which DDT justifies by claiming that they can make the nation rich because they made themselves rich. An increased normalization of DDT’s behavior has resulted in less commentary about inappropriate nominees and hires plus the Democrats’ lack of opposition in confirmations.

A job description for DDT’s nominees and hires could read:

Wanted for government service: no experience/knowledge about the job; desire to privatize all services at increased costs to taxpayers; beliefs in opposition to all agencies’ missions; loyalty only to the “boss.”

A few hires who didn’t need Senate confirmation:

Fred Malek, 80, as chair of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a think tank that is part of the Smithsonian Institution. Malek had served as Richard Nixon’s special assistant with the duty of listing “important Jewish officials” working in the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Four of them were demoted because Nixon believed that Democratic Jews in the BLS were conspiring against him with a report minimizing a drop in the unemployment rate. Until DDT, this episode was characterized as “the last recorded act of official anti-Semitism by the United States government.” Malek lied about not being complicit in the demotions.

Joe Grogan, lobbyist for a pharma company price-gouging in hepatitis C. treatment, for drug pricing policies.

Donald G. Kempf Jr., counsel representing corporations in antitrust and mergers, for deputy attorney general in the DOJ antitrust division, overseeing litigation.

Brad Bailey, lobbyist for H&R Block to stop a free federal tax filing system, for Legislative Affairs.

Scott Angelle, successful in ending moratorium on deepwater drilling after BP’s oil spill, for Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement that oversees safety for offshore oil and gas drilling.

Charles Faulkner, lobbyist for foreign governments, for deputy assistant secretary of state.

Wendy Teramoto, managing director at Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s former investment firm, for Ross’ chief of staff.

Michael Dougherty, prior CEO of the company that sells border and law enforcement technologies, for assistant secretary for border, immigration and trade policy at the Department of Homeland Security.

Mark Vafiades, climate-denying Hollywood actor who thinks that the U.S. suffers from massive voter fraud, for communications director at Health and Human Services.

Emily McBride, a former aide to Jeff Sessions, for special assistant to the head of the General Services Administration which is in charge of leasing DDT’s Washington hotel to him and reviews its finances.

Adam Kissel, a worker for Koch’s higher education programs and critic of investigating campus sexual assault, for deputy assistant secretary for higher education programs.

Jonathan Galaviz, consultant for foreign governments including Russian state-run investment firms, for adviser at the State Department’s Office of Security, Democracy and Human Rights.

Alexander Fitzsimmons, member of PR group supporting fossil fuels backed by Koch Industries, for chief of staff and senior adviser at the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Julian Schmoke, Jr. chosen by Secretary of Education to manage the Federal Student Aid Enforcement Unit to oversee for-profit college fraud cases. He is a former executive from DeVry University that agreed to pay a $100 million settlement for intentionally deceiving students with false advertisements about placement rates. Last month, DeVos stopped rules to keep schools from scamming students. With no investigation experience, Smoke replaces Robert Kaye who had years of previous experience investigating consumer fraud.

Pam Bondi, appointed to the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis after DDT made illegal campaign contributions for her successful Florida attorney general campaign. She keeps her current position while on the panel, but its work is supposedly finished by October 1, 2017. Bondi stopped investigations against “Trump University” after the donations from DDT’s charitable foundation.

A list of over 1,000 DDT political appointments for industry insiders and loyalists, including the 140 revealed in March by ProPublica, shows how their job descriptions are at odds with their beliefs. Of the approximately 500 new appointees on this list, at least 61 were registered lobbyists at the federal level.

Of the 277 people needing Senate confirmation, only 44 percent have been confirmed because of DDT’s delays. Gaps in federal agencies have been filled by at least 18 “senior White House advisers” with little to no government experience. Nominees who need Senate confirmation:

For the DOJ Antitrust division, DDT wants Makan Delrahim, a corporate attorney turned lobbyist who’s made his career on advancing corporate mega-mergers. One of his successes is to help Google become one of two tech giants that got 98 percent of every new ad dollar spent last year. Other clients—AT&T, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, Merck, Oracle, Pfizer, etc.—face or recently settle antitrust litigation. Failure of antitrust laws is shown by the decrease of competition in the market place as companies charged 67 percent profit margins in 2014 compared with 18 percent in 1980.

Former attorney for the Russian bank Alfa Bank that has been connected to DDT’s campaign, Brian Benczkowski, has been appointed as Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division of the Justice Department.

Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), nominated for director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), is a climate denier with no science or engineering qualifications. He is so ignorant that he said, “Global temperatures stopped rising 10 years ago.” Commercial space companies support Bridenstine because he wants to privatize U.S. civil and military space activities.

Eric Dreiband, nominated to lead the DOJ Civil Rights Division, has worked for over a dozen years to defend big corporations against employee civil rights claims. He testified against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay act, saying that it would “create unanticipated and potentially ruinous liability” for employers, and defended banning transgender people from bathrooms matching their identities.

Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA), nominated for “drug czar,” is “a hard-liner on marijuana issues and he recently said that he’d like to put nonviolent drug offenders in some sort of ‘hospital-slash-prison,'” according to the Washington Post. He’s a retread in nominations after pulling his name four months ago, claiming a “critical illness” in his family. He protected big pharma companies from their distribution of large amounts of opioids, ignored Columbian drug kingpins, judge-shopped in 1998 to get a cocaine-dealing expungement for a friend, and served as a personal reference for convicted felon Louis DeNaples to open a casino when his AG office was investigating DeNaples.

Sam Clovis, nominated for USDA’s under-secretary for research, education and economics, would oversee billions of dollars in research spending and serve as a cross-departmental science czar. A birther and another climate denier, Clovis made bigoted statements such as President Obama being “given a pass because he is Black” and declaring homosexuality a choice, linking marriage equality to pedophilia

DDT may fail to get his former campaign lawyer, James “Trey” Trainor III, as an FEC commissioner. Trainor, supportive of dark money, also retweeted anti-Protestant viewpoints such as “There is only one church” from the Catholic site Churchmilitant.com that states “Protestantism is poison.” As private lawyer, he represented Empower Texas in their fight to keep secret the donors to the Texas Ethics Commission.

DDT has nominated 42 U.S. attorneys general to fill the positions of the 46 who he fired. Of the 42 nominations, 41 are men.

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/trump-forgets-his-talking-points-empty-administration-posts?cid=eml_mra_20170829   DDT has gone 360 degrees in filling government jobs. Six months ago, he called federal positions “unnecessary” before whining about Democrats not confirming the people who he had not nominated. After Hurricane Harvey, he said:

“We are not looking to fill all of those positions. Don’t need many of them – reduce size of government.”

Missing are the Secretary of DHS, who supervises FEMA, and the director of NOAA, who is responsible for weather prediction. Also missing are two deputy FEMA administrators, one in charge of protection and national preparedness. South Korea has no ambassador.

Tomorrow, DDT gives a speech to the UN about the U.S. place in the world. Five of the six under secretary of state positions are unfilled and an Obama selection holds the sixth. Critical ambassador posts stay vacant, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says that he doesn’t need most special envoys such as those for climate change, the Iran nuclear deal, and Afghanistan-Pakistan. Tillerson is ignoring important meetings this week with UN members. DDT said that he would hire the best people; instead, he has done exactly the reverse and shattered not only domestic policy but also the U.S. standing in the world.

On the other hand, maybe the nation is lucky that he isn’t putting more slimey creatures into the swamp.

September 17, 2017

When Evangelicals Take Over the Government

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) got to the White House with 80 percent of the Christian evangelical vote, and he’s repaid them with multiple appointments from their following. One of these is former Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) who moved into the position of CIA director. He started by using his Christian faith to defeat any other religion. In an early speech, he said that Islamist terrorists will “continue to press against us until we make sure that we pray and stand and fight and make sure that we know that Jesus Christ is our savior is truly the only solution for our world.” God and Christianity continued to be frequent references in his trip report while overseas.

Establishing chaplain services for CIA members was Pompeo’s next move. He consulted with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a guarantee that chaplains will focus only on Christianity. The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled FRC an anti-gay hate group. CIA employees have registered complaints about Pompeo’s religious pressure with the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). Its director, Michael Weinstein, said:

“In the intelligence community, we see supervisors wanting to hold Bible studies during duty hours [and] inviting lower-ranking individuals to their homes for Bible studies.”

Weinstein said that agency employees are afraid to be public about their concerns because of retribution of accusations of leaking. Officials’ signing off with “have a blessed day” is “straight out of The Handmaid’s Tale, Weinstein said.

Pompeo raised further concerns with his refusal to honor the CIA’s diversity mandate. He is openly anti-LGBT, even talking about this position on college campuses, and he has become openly angry about questions directed toward  the agency’s commitment to diversity. Pompeo defended DDT’s “many sides” statements about Charlottesville (VA) protesters by claiming that DDT’s condemnation of bigotry was “frankly pretty unambiguous.”

Recently Pompeo blackmailed Harvard Kennedy School into rescinding its invitation to Chelsea Manning as visiting fellow. The position is not an honorific, but Pompeo could not tolerate the transgender woman being included in the ten selected for this fall. Pompeo canceled his appearance at a Harvard forum in a letter that included:

“I believe it is shameful for Harvard to place its stamp of approval upon her treasonous actions.”

Two people offering their wisdom as visiting fellows to Harvard are former Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who constantly lied for DDT, and former DDT campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who physically attacked protesters at DDT’s rallies. These are two of the people offering their wisdom to Harvard students this fall.

Cabinet members are also determined to turn the United States into a theocracy. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is determined to destroy public education and move all students into private religious schools at taxpayers’ expense. A few months before he became attorney general, Jeff Sessions said that the constitution allows states to “establish a religion.” Other Cabinet members such as Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry have joined DeVos and VP Mike Pence in sponsoring weekly bible study classes at the White House. Pastor and leader Ralph Drollinger is part of conservative Capitol Ministries, with the goal to “evangelize elected officials and lead them toward maturity in Christ,” and has set up biblical ministries in state capitols across the country as well as in the House of Representatives. A climate-change denier and ferociously anti-LGBT, Drollinger believes that mothers who work while leaving children at home are sinful and Catholicism is the “world’s largest false religion.”

While Oklahoma AG, EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt fought to keep a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the state capitol that the state Supreme Court ordered removed in 2015. Tom Price, Health and Human Services director, is an anti-reproductive-choice zealot.

DDT wants transgender people out of the military. Are non-Christians next? U.S. Air Force chaplain Sonny Hernandez claims that Christians in the U.S. Armed Forces “serve Satan” and are “grossly in error” if they support service members’ right to practice other faiths. He “ministers” to thousands of military members at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio by telling them they rely on Christ, not the Constitution:

“Christian service members who openly profess and support the rights of Muslims, Buddhists, and all other anti-Christian worldviews to practice their religions—because the language in the Constitution permits—are grossly in error, and deceived.”

Hernandez ignores the oath that all members of the U.S. military, including military chaplains, take when they sign up for the Armed Services:

“I , _____ , do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.’’

Hernandez is not alone. Noncommissioned officers at one Air Force base reported that their superiors told them Trump would make it USAF policy that in order for “disbelieving Jews” to be allowed into the USAF or be deemed fit for promotions, they would have to show via objectively established behavior that they were at least honestly “considering the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” The wife of a combat-decorated Muslim U.S. Naval officer was surrounded with her children in the commissary before being spat on and accused of not being a “true American and being a spy and a terrorist.” Army Major General Julie Bentz, spoke at the 56th Annual Kansas Prayer Breakfast and stated:

“But my greatest privilege is standing in front of my king and my God, carrying every member of my organization to his throne and asking for his protection, his mercy, his love on each of them and their families and whatever are their concerns and burdens of the day.

Complaints, doubled since DDT’s election, are going to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) because targets fear retaliation by going through their chain of command. Approximately 84 percent of military chaplains, and about one-third of these are fundamentalists who believe they don’t need to conform to the U.S. Constitution, Department of Defense directives, or law. DDT is increasingly seen as a savior for them, especially with his selections of evangelicals for vice-president and at least nine Cabinet members. De-frocked, ex-felon Jim Bakker, back to televangelizing, said that criticism of DDT is “satanic,” that critics are channeling the spirit of the Antichrist.

On the campaign trail, DDT promised to do away with “political correctness”—his term for the U.S. Constitution—and put Christianity back into the military.

The House also supports DDT’s Christian agenda. Hidden within the $1.2 trillion spending bill passed in mid-September by a 211-198 vote is a provision partially blocking the tax code prohibiting places of worship from endorsing political candidates. It stops funding IRS attempts to penalize churches violating tax law in these endorsements by mandating that any funds enforcing this law requires agents to notify two congressional committees, wait 90 days, and then get IRS commissioner permission. At this time, the existing law is rarely enforced but much discussed in churches. The provision doesn’t apply to nonprofits that are not faith based. If the Senate agrees, the law would transform tax-exempt churches into Super PACs.

Seventy-one percent of people, including majorities among white evangelicals, are opposed to church’s endorsing candidates, and some faith-based groups have strongly lobbied against the idea. A letter from 4,000 faith leaders against the endorsement of candidates read in part:

“Changing the law would threaten the integrity and independence of houses of worship. We must not allow our sacred spaces to be transformed into spaces used to endorse or oppose political candidates.”

The Senate went the opposite direction from the House when the Appropriations Committee moved to reinstate funding for the UN  Population Fund and overturn the global gag rule, known as the Mexico City Policy, a longstanding GOP policy forbidding U.S. support for international health organizations that offer or discuss abortion services. Those denied resources including family planning funding, nutrition, child health, and disease control. Two GOP female senators voted for the bans removal and Democratic Joe Manchin (WV) wanted to keep the ban.

Christianity is the U.S. majority religion and have the greatest privileges, but white evangelical Christians suffer from a massive persecution complex. They think that they face more discrimination than blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, atheists, or Jews, a belief reinforced by their bible. The book they use for worship tells them that they will be hated, flogged, persecuted, excluded, insulted, rejected, and imprisoned. They will suffer from others’ jealousy, conspiracies, hardship, famine, danger, and deception. People striving to be superior have learned that the way to the top is claiming to be a victim—something that is a constant from the minority of Christian conservatives who increasingly take rights from others in the nation. The more than non-evangelicals fight for equality, the more than these Christians oppress anyone not in their tribe.

September 16, 2017

DDT: Week Thirty-four – Loss of Supporters and More

People have been asking what Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) could do to make his supporters turn on him. Now we know: make friends with Democrats. After two weeks of supporting (sort of) “Chuck and Nancy,” as he calls Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), DDT supporters have started to burn their hats. [visual] The last straw for them was his possible protection of hard-working people who were involuntarily brought to the United States and had undergone “extreme” vetting.

Last week people discovered about the hacking of records for 143 million people from consumer credit reporting agency Equifax. Since then, it’s been discovered that three senior executives sold shares for almost $1.8 million after the hack. They said that they didn’t know about the hacking. The company was aware of the flawed security system over two months before the hacking and didn’t make the public aware for a month after the event. The revelation caused a 13-percent drop in the value of the shares. Equifax was hired a year ago for $10 million to “help the SSA manage risk and mitigate fraud for the mySocialSecurity system, a personalized portal for customers to access some of SSA’s services such as the online statement.” DDT can take pride in having the most disastrous hacking thus far in history.

DDT bragged he had the biggest hurricane in history—until someone mentioned climate change. He changed his statement to “we’ve had bigger storms than this,” ignoring history because both Harvey and Irma broke several records.

After the nation’s worst deluge in Hurricane Harvey and the strongest hurricane ever in the Atlantic with Irma, DDT identified the nation’s real emergency—the need for tax cuts. Perhaps he imagined that people across the nation cried out for swift action in helping billionaires and corporations. DDT’s desperate tweet to Congress:

“With Irma and Harvey devastation, Tax Cuts and Tax Reform is needed more than ever before. Go Congress, go!”

Bush/Cheney used the excuse of tax cuts for all problems—high gas prices, uninsured people, sluggish economy, strong economy, etc. DDT will be trying to persuade everyone that tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations will build new homes, operate shelters, and clean up chemical spills that huge companies left in flood areas.

After new DDT friends Sen. “Chuck” Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. “Nancy” Pelosi (D-CA) met with him at a private White House dinner, they reported that he would accept protection for DACA recipients, giving work permits to people involuntarily brought into the U.S., without a demand for the wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Republicans were incensed, and Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that DDT didn’t make that agreement. The following day, DDT “clarified” his agreement with Chuck and Nancy:

6:11 am (Twitter): “No deal was made last night on DACA. Massive border security would have to be agreed to in exchange for consent. Would be subject to vote.”

8:26 am (reporters): “[T]he wall will come later.”

11:06 am (reporters): “Very important is the wall. We have to be sure the wall isn’t obstructed because without the wall I wouldn’t do anything… It doesn’t have to be here but they can’t obstruct the wall if it’s in a budget or anything else.”

4:18 pm (reporters): “[I]f the Democrats aren’t going to approve it [money for the wall], then we’re not going to do what they want… DACA now and the wall very soon, but the wall will happen.”

DDT’s response to the tragic attack in London this past week before anyone knew the source:

“These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!”

He either released classified information about the attack or was just blathering as usual. No matter which, he again alienated the UK; their officials called DDT’s tweet “unhelpful.”

DDT’s MO for the past months has been alienating democratic allies and sucking up to autocratic dictators. This week he hosted Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, currently the subject of a DOJ corruption probe regarding misappropriations of billions of dollars from a government fund he controlled. In exchange, Razak and his large contingent dropped their money at the DDT-leased Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. Without occupancy currying DDT’s favor, the hotel would increase its 56-percent vacancy rate in an area that has almost 50 percent less. At least he gets $18,750 per night for the “Trump Townhouse” suite. Being elected has made money for DDT. Unfortunately, it’s unconstitutional.

Attempts to discover government expenditures at DDT’s property began with only one short report, the federal payment of $1,092 for a room at Mar-a-Lago for two nights during DDT’s visit in March with “National Security Council as the occupant.”

Michael Flynn, DDT’s former national security advisor, may have lobbied on behalf of foreign countries to build 40 nuclear reactors across the Middle East while paid by the White House. Backers said that the Gulf Arab states would fully fund the project. Flynn also failed to report payments from Russian entities. Flynn’s son, Michael Jr., is also being investigated by Robert Mueller as part of the Russian interference in the 2016 election. A man who showed up at a Washington pizza place with a rifle because Jr. had spread the lie that it was a front for Hillary Clinton’s sex trafficking. He also smeared Clinton aide Huma Abedin with the lie that she was connected to the Muslim brotherhood and pushed the falsehood that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is a closet gay man who abuses cocaine. DDT fired Flynn Jr. before his father was shown the door. Mueller is also targeting Paul Manafort’s son-in-law, Jeffrey Yohai.

The Office of Government Ethics briefly permitted Russia—and anyone else—to anonymously donate to legal defense funds for White House staffers. Public outcry forced OGE to reinstate the ban.

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber, a Ronald Reagan appointee, blocked DDT’s rules to keep funding from so-called “sanctuary” cities in a nationwide preliminary injunction against the DOJ. AG Jeff Sessions had said that a grant to local law enforcement for training and supplies applies only “to cities and states that comply with federal law, allow federal immigration access to detention facilities, and provide 48-hours notice before they release an illegal alien wanted by federal authorities.”

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is again opposing DDT after his vote against the ACA “repeal and replace”—this time objecting to DDT’s ban on transgender military members. In backing the bipartisan bill to block DDT’s ban, McCain explained its rationale:

“When less than one percent of Americans are volunteering to join the military, we should welcome all those who are willing and able to serve our country. Any member of the military who meets the medical and readiness standards should be allowed to serve — including those who are transgender.”

One reason for selling off public land is to make money for the government. Auctioning off oil drilling rights on approximately 7,000 acres of a bird habitat to avoid endangered species garnered the government $14,837. That pays for 0.005 percent of one DDT’s trip to Mar-a-Lago. “America” is for sale.

DDT’s DOJ is reversing a program to improve trust between law enforcement and communities. Sessions, who supports DDT’s pardon of Joe Arpaio, wants to “fulfill my commitment to respect local control and accountability.” The purpose of the rescinded program was to determine any systemic problems in troubled police departments. Sessions has already told federal prosecutors to charge defendants with the most serious crimes possible given military equipment to state and local police.

It has come to light that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, worth about one-half billion dollars, wanted taxpayers to pick up the tab for his honeymoon transportation by letting him take a government jet to Scotland, France, and Italy. Mnuchin has been called the “foreclosure king,” even foreclosing on a 90-year-old widow who owned his company $.27. He and Louise Linton weren’t permitted the plane that would have cost $25,000 an hour, and they are being investigated for using a government plane to watch the eclipse in Kentucky. DDT explained about his request that his administrative officials “had to give up a lot to take these jobs.”

Senators unanimously passed a resolution condemning white supremacy and asking DDT to “address the growing prevalence of those hate groups in the United States.” The resolution also asks AG Jeff Sessions and DHS to investigate “all acts of violence, intimidation and domestic terrorism” by white supremacists, white nationalists or associated groups and prevent them “from fomenting and facilitating additional violence.” The House passed the joint resolution with a voice vote. DDT signed the resolution after he had a talk with the only GOP black senator, Tim Scott (R-SC). (Two of the GOP House members are black.) According to DDT, he told Scott:

“[Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and I] had a great talk yesterday. I think especially in light of the advent of Antifa, if you look at what’s going on there. You have some pretty bad dudes on the other side also, and essentially that’s what I said.”

DDT’s use of “other side” for people opposing the neo-Nazis whenever he talks about Charlottesville (VA) begs the question: does he identify with the white supremacists against the “other side”? Called a “white supremacist” by ESPN host Jemele Hill, DDT trashed the network and called for an apology from Hill. At least DDT didn’t go as far as Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) who said that the white supremacists at Charlottesville (VA) were actors hired by liberals to make neo-Nazis look bad.

And there’s more—later!

September 15, 2017

Timothy Snyder, ‘On Tyranny’

“Can’t we just move on already? We get it.” That was in the letter to the editor of our small local newspaper. This sentiment, similar to others that try to defend the practices of Donald Trump, concluded by stating that the “inflammatory, inciting” letters are “not helpful in bringing America or Americans together, or even for the future of America.” In short, the letter’s author wants people to not voice concerns that they have about the current situation in the United States.

Tonight, a television host talked with Timothy Snyder, historian who has most recently written a 128-page book called On Tyranny. A reviewer called the book “a sort of operating manual for navigating the new authoritarianism that was first born as a set of social media memes after the recent presidential election in the United States.”

The last few months have seen a growing concern about the preservation of democracy. The posts in this blog refers to the man inaugurated as president last January as Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). This is not merely a snide appellation: Trump came into the office with the belief that he has unlimited power, and he keeps pushing this belief on the people:

  • He is opposed to the courts and threatened to break up the 9th Circuit after it ruled against his executive orders.
  • He wants to rig the Senate so that he can push through his agenda and succeeded when its majority leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) voided the filibuster to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
  • He called congressional rules “archaic” because “you’re forced to make a deal” and demanded that they be abandoned. All rules that thwart his desires are “bad for the country.”
  • He continually tries to intimidate the press and wants the federal government to control it.
  • He violates constitutional law, both for personal needs and any policies he wants put into effect.
  • He praises other authoritarian leaders for their positions and actions.
  • He surrounds himself with people who believe as he does. Soon after his inauguration, DDT’s adviser, Stephen Miller declared “the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.”

From a review by Daniel W. Drezner:

“Unlike public intellectuals who casually toss around the word “fascist” to describe a disappointing restaurant salad, Snyder knows this subject cold. He is a Yale University historian who has written at length on fascism, Communism and the Holocaust. That gives “On Tyranny” a particular urgency. It is littered with vignettes of how Germans in the 1930s aided and abetted Hitler’s rise to power. It is impossible to read aphorisms like “post-truth is pre-fascism” and not feel a small chill about the current state of the Republic. Snyder warns, “Americans today are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism or Communism in the 20th century.” He offers political advice ranging from straightforward (“Defend institutions”) to insightful (“Be calm when the unthinkable arrives”). For such a small book, Snyder invests On Tyranny with considerable heft….

“As I was pondering whether On Tyranny exaggerates, Trump tweeted that the press is the enemy of the American people. That sounds awfully pre-fascist to me. So approach this short book the same way you would a medical pamphlet warning about an infectious disease. Read it carefully and be on the lookout for symptoms.”

Timothy Snyder’s article published after the presidential election:

Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so. Here are 20 lessons from across the fearful 20th century, adapted to the circumstances of today.

  1. Do not obey in advance. Much of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then start to do it without being asked. You’ve already done this, haven’t you? Stop. Anticipatory obedience teaches authorities what is possible and accelerates unfreedom.
  2. Defend an institution. Follow the courts or the media, or a court or a newspaper. Do not speak of “our institutions” unless you are making them yours by acting on their behalf. Institutions don’t protect themselves. They go down like dominoes unless each is defended from the beginning.
  3. Recall professional ethics. When the leaders of state set a negative example, professional commitments to just practice become much more important. It is hard to break a rule-of-law state without lawyers, and it is hard to have show trials without judges.
  4. When listening to politicians, distinguish certain words. Look out for the expansive use of “terrorism” and “extremism.” Be alive to the fatal notions of “exception” and “emergency.” Be angry about the treacherous use of patriotic vocabulary.
  5. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives. When the terrorist attack comes, remember that all authoritarians at all times either await or plan such events in order to consolidate power. Think of the Reichstag fire. The sudden disaster that requires the end of the balance of power, the end of opposition parties, and so on, is the oldest trick in the Hitlerian book. Don’t fall for it.
  6. Be kind to our language. Avoid pronouncing the phrases everyone else does. Think up your own way of speaking, even if only to convey that thing you think everyone is saying. (Don’t use the Internet before bed. Charge your gadgets away from your bedroom, and read.) What to read? Perhaps The Power of the Powerless by Václav Havel, 1984 by George Orwell, The Captive Mind by Czesław Milosz, The Rebel by Albert Camus, The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt, or Nothing is True and Everything is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev.
  7. Stand out. Someone has to. It is easy, in words and deeds, to follow along. It can feel strange to do or say something different. But without that unease, there is no freedom. And the moment you set an example, the spell of the status quo is broken, and others will follow.
  8. Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.
  9. Investigate. Figure things out for yourself. Spend more time with long articles. Subsidize investigative journalism by subscribing to print media. Realize that some of what is on your screen is there to harm you. Learn about sites that investigate foreign propaganda pushes.
  10. Practice corporeal politics. Power wants your body softening in your chair and your emotions dissipating on the screen. Get outside. Put your body in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people. Make new friends and march with them.
  11. Make eye contact and small talk. This is not just polite. It is a way to stay in touch with your surroundings, break down unnecessary social barriers, and come to understand whom you should and should not trust. If we enter a culture of denunciation, you will want to know the psychological landscape of your daily life.
  12. Take responsibility for the face of the world. Notice the swastikas and the other signs of hate. Do not look away and do not get used to them. Remove them yourself and set an example for others to do so.
  13. Hinder the one-party state. The parties that took over states were once something else. They exploited a historical moment to make political life impossible for their rivals. Vote in local and state elections while you can.
  14. Give regularly to good causes, if you can. Pick a charity and set up autopay. Then you will know that you have made a free choice that is supporting civil society helping others doing something good.
  15. Establish a private life. Nastier rulers will use what they know about you to push you around. Scrub your computer of malware. Remember that email is skywriting. Consider using alternative forms of the Internet, or simply using it less. Have personal exchanges in person. For the same reason, resolve any legal trouble. Authoritarianism works as a blackmail state, looking for the hook on which to hang you. Try not to have too many hooks.
  16. Learn from others in other countries. Keep up your friendships abroad, or make new friends abroad. The present difficulties here are an element of a general trend. And no country is going to find a solution by itself. Make sure you and your family have passports.
  17. Watch out for the paramilitaries. When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching around with torches and pictures of a Leader, the end is nigh. When the pro-Leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the game is over.
  18. Be reflective if you must be armed. If you carry a weapon in public service, God bless you and keep you. But know that evils of the past involved policemen and soldiers finding themselves, one day, doing irregular things. Be ready to say no. (If you do not know what this means, contact the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and ask about training in professional ethics.)
  19. Be as courageous as you can. If none of us is prepared to die for freedom, then all of us will die in unfreedom.
  20. Be a patriot. The incoming president is not. Set a good example of what America means for the generations to come. They will need it.

[I will not “move on” as long as a dictator is in charge of the nation and democracy is at risk.]

September 14, 2017

Edie Windsor: An Icon for the Ages

A great woman died this week. Thanks to Edie Windsor, my partner and I, along with hundreds of thousands of other same-gender couples, are able to have the same benefits of legal marriage that heterosexual couples have always had. Edie is even more special to me because I had the opportunity to talk with her on a cruise to Alaska before she became internationally famous. Every time I saw her on television or spotted her in a photograph, I remembered her energy, warmth, and kindness.

As Richard Socarides wrote, Edie is the Rosa Parks of the LGBT movement of the 21st century. Her legal claim to have the same rights as any other married couple personified courage as she openly declared her long-time relationship with another woman. United States v. Windsor wasn’t even specifically about marriage; it was about the rights that marriage confirms in state and federal law regarding taxes. Yet the Supreme Court case ruling that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), barring federal recognition of legally valid same-gender marriages, was unconstitutional ended in the landmark decision granting marriage equality to all same-gender couples.

Married in her early twenties, Edie divorced her husband, Saul Windsor, in less than a year after she told him that she wanted to be with a woman. In 2013, Windsor told NPR:

“I told him the truth. I said, ‘Honey, you deserve a lot more. You deserve somebody who thinks you’re the best because you are. And I need something else.’”

She took a job with IBM in 1958 after she earned a master’s in applied mathematics from New York University and became a computer programmer ad executive. Like almost all LGBT people at that time, she stayed in the closet. Earlier this year, she told Metro Weekly:

“I worked for IBM for 16 years. I lied for 16 years to people I loved. We ate lunch together, we had drinks together, we spent weekends together. Today, you don’t have to do that at IBM. You don’t do that anywhere, almost. It’s unlikely that LGBT people in the United States would have to do such a thing again.”

Edie met her love, clinical psychologist Thea Spyer (left), at the Portofino restaurant in New York’s Greenwich Village. A few years later, Thea gave Edie a diamond brooch instead of a ring for their engagement to keep their relationship secret. They loved to dance, and Edie kept dancing with Thea even after multiple sclerosis put Thea in a wheelchair (to right of Edie, above). Their remarkable relationship, which included Edie as Thea’s caregiver, is beautifully documented in the film, Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement. The title refers to the 44-year “engagement” before they could legally marry in 2007 after an arduous trip to Canada when Thea was a quadriplegic. Susan Muska and Greta Olafsdottir used almost five decades of slides for this poignant yet joyful view of this love story. [More views of Edie at her website.]

After Thea’s death two years later, Edie’s inheritance was taxed at $363,053 because DOMA prevented same-gender couples from the advantages of marital tax deductions for all heterosexual couples. She argued that existing law subjects people in same-sex marriages “to differential treatment compared to other similarly situated couples without justification in violation of the right of equal protection secured by the Fifth Amendment.” The taxes resulted from the decades-long appreciation on real estate that they had long owned. Edie found the taxes an affront to her marriage to Thea, and she sued to regain them.

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 27: Edith Windsor, 83, acknowledges her supporters as she leaves the Supreme Court March 27, 2013 in Washington, DC. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case ‘Edith Schlain Windsor, in Her Capacity as Executor of the Estate of Thea Clara Spyer, Petitioner v. United States,’ which challenges the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the second case about same-sex marriage this week. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Finding a lawyer was difficult because of her age and fragile health—and the fact that her sexual orientation made her appear to some lawyers as less than a compelling plaintiff. Roberta Kaplan, partner with the firm Paul, Weiss, was joined by the ACLU, and Edie’s case went before the Supreme Court on March 27, 2013 when Edie was 83. Her openness and victory were signals to all of us in the LGBT community that we might also be out to the public. Edie stayed an LGBT rights activist after the court ruling, and met her second wife, Judith Kasen (right), at a benefit. They were married a year ago.

Even a Supreme Court case two years after Edie’s victory ruling for marriage equality has not  created equal rights for LGBTQ people across the nation. The judiciary continued to struggle with questions about marital rights, adoption, and other family law in states that kept opposing same-gender marriage. The future for these rights is dimming: Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), the officials in his administration, and many other Republican leaders are virulently anti-LGBT. The Supreme Court will argue a case next month about whether businesses need to serve LGBT people, specifically if a baker has the right to not bake cakes for LGBT couples. DDT’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is supporting the baker and also arguing that the Civil Rights Act does not protect LGBT people from employment discrimination. Kaplan is fighting DOJ in these cases from her new firm, Kaplan & Company. DDT has attempted to ban transgender service members in the military.

I would like to think that my marriage is like squeezing all the toothpaste out of the tube: it’s impossible to put it back in. And I would like to think that I can’t be refused service in a restaurant because a so-called “law” allows people to deny service to anyone they personally reject. Nowhere in history have rights been taken away from people once granted. People can skirt school desegregation, mandated by Brown v. Board of Education, but the ruling is still the law of the land. In a fit of pique, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in his dissent to United States v. Windsor:

“By formally declaring anyone opposed to same-sex marriage an enemy of human decency, the majority arms well every challenger to a state law restricting marriage to its traditional definition. Henceforth those challengers will lead with this Court’s declaration that there is ‘no legitimate purpose’ served by such a law, and will claim that the traditional definition [of marriage] has ‘the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure’ the ‘personhood and dignity’ of same-sex couples.”

A public memorial will be held Friday, September. 15 at 12:30 pm at Riverside Memorial Chapel in New York City. In lieu of flowers, Windsor had requested that any donations in her memory be made to the NYC LGBT Center, Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, the Hetrick-Martin Institute, and Services & Advocacy for LGBT Elders, or SAGE.

President Obama made this touching statement after Edie’s death:

“America’s long journey towards equality has been guided by countless small acts of persistence, and fueled by the stubborn willingness of quiet heroes to speak out for what’s right. Few were as small in stature as Edie Windsor – and few made as big a difference to America.

“I had the privilege to speak with Edie a few days ago, and to tell her one more time what a difference she made to this country we love. She was engaged to her partner, Thea, for forty years. After a wedding in Canada, they were married for less than two. But federal law didn’t recognize a marriage like theirs as valid – which meant that they were denied certain federal rights and benefits that other married couples enjoyed. And when Thea passed away, Edie spoke up – not for special treatment, but for equal treatment – so that other legally married same-sex couples could enjoy the same federal rights and benefits as anyone else.

“In my second inaugural address, I said that if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. And because people like Edie stood up, my administration stopped defending the so-called Defense of Marriage Act in the courts. The day that the Supreme Court issued its 2013 ruling in United States v. Windsor was a great day for Edie, and a great day for America – a victory for human decency, equality, freedom, and justice. And I called Edie that day to congratulate her.

“Two years later, to the day, we took another step forward on our journey as the Supreme Court recognized a Constitutional guarantee of marriage equality. It was a victory for families, and for the principle that all of us should be treated equally, regardless of who we are or who we love.

“I thought about Edie that day. I thought about all the millions of quiet heroes across the decades whose countless small acts of courage slowly made an entire country realize that love is love – and who, in the process, made us all more free. They deserve our gratitude. And so does Edie.

“Michelle and I offer our condolences to her wife, Judith, and to all who loved and looked up to Edie Windsor.”

Thank you, President Obama. And thank you, Edie. And thank you, all the people who fight for equal rights.

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