Nel's New Day

July 28, 2017

Fiat by Tweet Fails

Filed under: LGBTQ Issues — trp2011 @ 11:58 PM
Tags: , , ,

Following a horrendous speech to Boy Scouts last Tuesday, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) attempted to distract people from his earlier egregious behavior by tweeting that transgender people would not be permitted to serve in the military in any capacity. There was no study for this decision, and the Pentagon seemed to be taken unawares. Fiat by tweet? No one really knows. It’s possible that DDT is trying to make nice with evangelicals after being offensive to their beloved Jeff Sessions for days in a row.

The tweets began at 5:55 am on July 26. The first one read:

“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow……”

During the eight-minute pause before a continuation of DDT’s message, the Department of Defense HQ panicked. Al Gore said that they thought DDT had declared war. The second part of the tweet showed that the war was on the the 15,000 transgender soldiers in active or reserve duty and the almost 150,000 transgender people who serve in the military in some capacity. The second tweet told them that they had lost their jobs:

“….Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming…..”

DDT completed the three tweets by a reference to the costs and disruption from transgender people in the military:

“….victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you”

Both DDT’s “reasons” are bogus.

The military spends $84.4 million on medication for erectile dysfunction but only $5.6 million for health care for transgender employees. That $84.4 million is our taxes at work—15 times more than the $5.6 million cost of hormone treatment and surgery for transgender people in the military and 0.07 percent of the $49.3 billion in health care expenditures for military and former military members, 586,804 percent more than that for transgender employees in the military. The Pentagon pays $91.1 million for one F-35s fighter plane and $478 million for a single Littoral combat ship that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said has “practically no proven combat capability.”

Two DDT weekends would pay for a year of health care for transgender people in the military. A single trip to Mar-a-Lago, his private clubs, costs taxpayers about $3.6 million, and he spent seven weekends there in just two and a half months before he moved on to his personal resort at Bedminster (NJ). Congress also allocated $41 million to provide security costs to his resorts for his time there. Travel and protection costs for the DDT family ran a least $30 million for his first 100 days, compared to $12 million for an entire year for President Obama and his family. The costs continue for security for Trump Tower where DDT never goes and other personal costs for him.

The disruption claim was refuted by Defense Department officials who reported on a seamless process of transgender service members coming out after the Obama administration repealed the ban on their serving. The Pentagon completed a comprehensive review of the situation before it lifted the ban on transgender service members in 2016. Radha Iyengar, author of the RAND study that investigated transgender people in the military, said:

“We’ve had commanders report that having a more improved attitude toward inclusiveness and diversity was beneficial to their unit overall. And that really speaks to the benefits, but there was really no effect, in any of the cases, of operational effectiveness. They saw these positives, but we really didn’t see any of the negatives.”

In a third “misrepresentation,” DDT claimed that his decision came after consultation with “my Generals and military experts, but the tweets came as a surprise to the Pentagon. Defense Secretary James Mattis was on vacation and reportedly appalled and infuriated by the tweets. The Pentagon referred all questions about DDT’s order to the White House. The day after DDT’s tweets, Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sent a memo to service chiefs, commanders, and senior enlisted leaders.

“I know there are questions about yesterday’s announcement on the transgender policy by the President. There will be no modifications to the current policy until the President’s direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidance. In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect.”

A theory behind DDT’s tweets is that he reacted to the radical right threatening to blow up the $790 billion defense and security spending package in the House if it included health care for transgender service members. (Keep in mind that they are quibbling about $5.4 million for health care.) Mattis was working with them, but DDT may have taken over the issue and decided to eliminate more President Obama’s work. An amendment to ban funding for gender reassignment surgeries and treatments for transgender active-duty personnel failed 209-214 with 24 Republicans voting with the Democrats. Amendment supporters then tried to push the GOP leadership to circumvent the House rules to pass the amendment, but the leadership refused, saying it would make them look hypocritical. That’s’ when Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) went to the White House and complained to DDT. White supremacist Steve Bannon told DDT that he should deal with the situation.

A senior House GOP aide emailed about DDT’s tweets, “This is like someone told the White House to light a candle on the table and the WH set the whole table on fire.”

DDT’s unified many of the Republicans, even representatives who voted in favor of the amendment, with the Democrats’ outrage regarding the tweets. Although some GOP legislators stayed quiet, several of GOP legislators agreed with Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, who said, “Removing thousands of men and women from admirably and honorably serving is counterintuitive to strengthening our military. I have serious concerns about what this new directive means.” LoBiondo called on Mattis to “provide clarity on this issue and determine what is in the best interest of military readiness to protect our nation.” Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA), John McCain (R-AZ), and Dan Sullivan (R-AK)—all veterans—came out in strong support for allowing qualified people into the military no matter their gender identity. McCain chairs of the Armed Services Committee.  This is the first issue, other than the possibility of DDT firing Jeff Sessions as attorney general, in which Republicans have been vocal in opposing DDT’s views.

Other countries were flabbergasted with DDT’s declaration. In Israel, Retired Gen. Elazar Stern was shocked by DDT’s position. “It makes us strong that we don’t waste time on questions like this,” said Stern, the former commander of the Israel Defense Forces Manpower Command. “It’s something to be proud of.” The Guardian wrote about how DDT’s tweets send “the depressing message … in normalising and legitimising prejudice and discrimination” and “significant in itself for its cruelty and foolishness.” Eighteen countries other than the United States permit transgender people to serve in the military. Nine other countries are moving in that direction.

After DDT became the GOP candidate at the RNC a year ago, he said, “As your president, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology.” On the campaign trail, he tweeted, “Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs.”

In Gallup Daily’s tracking of DDT’s approval rating, his disapproval rating is up 13 percent since his inauguration, up to 58 percent. He has lost support among his entire base: drops of 12 points with evangelicals, 20 points with the working class, and eight points each with rural United States and Mormons. Fifty-eight percent of adults agree with the statement, “Transgender people should be allowed to serve in the military.” Only 27 percent said they should not while the rest answered “don’t know.”

DDT made his announcement on the 69th anniversary of President Harry Truman integrating the armed services and during a week with DDT’s theme “American Heroes.”  He used transgender people as scapegoats to distract from his involvement with Russian influence in the election, the health care fiasco, and all his other mistakes. Now he’s moved on to sabotage health care and continue with hiring and firing.  John Kelly has been moved from Homeland Security Secretary to DDT’s chief of staff. A question across the media is whether he will control DDT’s tweets. If he tries ….

Help continue the fight against DDT’s ruling on transgender military employees by signing a petition on the internet.

Correction: “An entire year for President Obama and his family,” not “day.”

July 29, 2017

DDT: Week Twenty-Seven – ‘A Jackass’

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) outdid himself this week in outrageous drama. Tuesday was the disastrous speech at the National Scout Jamboree, Wednesday witnessed the backlash against his anti-transgender military service members, Thursday was the failure of the third health bill up for a vote this week, and Friday presented the changing of the guard at the White House. Then he topped the week with a speech asking police to injure suspects. He received applause from law enforcement officers on Long Island (NY) by saying, “Please don’t be nice.” He added in reference to protecting suspects’ heads while putting them into a vehicle, “You can take the hand away, okay?” The International Association of Police Chiefs (IAPC) responded with detailed information its use-of-force policies and training as well as the need for officers to “ensure that any use of force is carefully applied and objectively reasonable.” The IAPC added that officers are trained to treat all individuals “with dignity and respect.” Police departments in the U.S. also rejected DDT’s message of physically hurting suspects.

DDT got his “general”: Reince Priebus is out as Chief of Staff, and John Kelly, formerly Homeland Security Secretary, is in. Once again, DDT proved that loyalty has no value. Major questions surfaced about what changes, if any, the White House would see with the shift. Until now, key people—white supremacist Steve Bannon, “Communications Director” Anthony Scaramucci, and family members Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump—have bypassed the chief of staff to directly communicate with DDT. The tweets have poured out of DDT’s cellphone with no monitoring. Kelly can stop these practices (highly unlikely), leave if he fails (two months maybe?), or put up with DDT’s behavior and become another laughingstock (totally improbable).

A major question is what to do with “The Mooch” Scaramucci who spread his vile emissions throughout the week. On his sixth day as sort-of Communications Director, he falsely accused then White House chief of staff of a felony for leaking a public document listing his worth of $85 million, claimed he had inappropriately spoken with the Justice Department, threatened to “kill all the leakers,” delivered scatological criticisms about White House staff on the record to a New Yorker writer, and generally followed the toxic culture surrounding DDT. The NYT reported how the DDT White House is “driven by ambition, fear, animosity and envy.”

Scaramucci hasn’t been technically hired; his company, Skybridge, is under regulatory review with the Treasury Department in a committee that includes Defense, State, Commerce, and Homeland Security Departments. Success would bring the Mooch $77 million. With the same passion for revenge as DDT, Scaramucci was determined to destroy Priebus after he kept the Mooch from being public liaison officer and gave him grief over selling his company at an inflated price to China, possibly for U.S. favors to China. Evidently there’s proof for Priebus’ claim.

Even highly conservative pundit Bill Kristol was furious about DDT’s terrible speech to the Boy Scouts:

“What a jackass you have to be to speak to the Boy Scouts and attack your predecessor as President of the United States.”

Today’s tweets from DDT support Kristol’s description. He blamed the Republicans for the failure of the health care last Thursday and told them that they will continue to fail with the filibuster requiring 60 votes. Yet the health care failed 51 to 49 with two women GOP senators, Susan Collins (ME) and Lisa Murkowski (AK) voting no before Jon McCain (AZ) joined them. Following that series of tweets, he demanded that the senate make another try at passing Trumpcare and made threats:

“If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!”

That was followed by his lambasting China for not helping the United States against North Korea. DDT also took total credit for winning the presidency. And he has another day without keepers.

Six days ago, DDT blamed the Republicans for their lack of support:

“It’s very sad that Republicans, even some that were carried over the line on my back, do very little to protect their President.”

Senators are openly opposing DDT’s persecution of Jeff Sessions and the possibility that DDT would fire the attorney general to stop the investigation into his Russian collusion. Wednesday, Chuck Grassley (R-IA), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, tweeted:

“Everybody in D.C. Shld b warned that the agenda for the judiciary Comm is set for rest of 2017. Judges first subcabinet 2nd / AG no way.”

The next day Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said, “If Jeff Sessions is fired, there will be holy hell to pay.” He added, “Any effort to go after Mueller could be the beginning of the end of the Trump presidency – unless Mueller did something wrong. Right now I have no reason to believe he’s compromised.”

One of DDT’s attacks on Sessions is totally without merit. He accused the AG of taking “a very weak position” in investigating Hillary Clinton’s emails. Yet Sessions had announced during his confirmation hearings that he was recusing himself of all issues about Clinton. DDT could have blocked Sessions’ hiring at that time.

Brian A. Benczkowski, a recent DDT nominee to lead DOJ’s criminal division, told the Senate that he represented Alfa Bank, one of Russia’s largest financial institutions with ties to Vladimir Putin. Computer experts investigated communications between the bank and a Trump Organization server. The bank claims a clean bill of health although these investigations were cursory. A possible connection with Russia could require anyone to recuse themselves from cases, a situation causing DDT to say that he should not have nominated AG Jeff Sessions.

The failure of Trumpcare on Thursday took place on the 52nd anniversary of the senate’s passing Medicaid and Medicaid. Fifty-two years ago, then-Rep. Arch Moore (R-WV) voted in favor of these popular programs. Yet his daughter, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), voted in favor of Trumpcare that would negatively impact almost one-third of her constituency. Like other Republicans, Capito believed promises that she would get money for her state, in her case to fight opioid abuse, and that the bill she voted in favor of would never become law. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) had said that he was “willing” to “talk” about taking the bill to conference with the House if it passed the senate.

Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Bill Miller, a top official in that department after DDT fired Gregory Starr in January, has quit. The senate will need to confirm his replacement. Only two State Department officials have been confirmed, and another six are waiting for confirmation.  That leaves 41 other senior roles, including policy leads for different regions, unfilled and another 31 filled by people in acting roles. Two more will soon be empty. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson won’t be filling them until he reviews and reorganizes the agency. Rumors that Tillerson is quitting have been rife, but he denies them.

DDT mistakenly thanked Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, his guest at the White House on Wednesday, for fighting Hezbollah that has a power base in Hariri’s cabinet. DDT said:

“Hezbollah is a menace to the Lebanese state, the Lebanese people and the entire region. The group continues to increase its military arsenal which threatens to start yet another conflict with Israel. With the support of Iran, the organization is also fueling humanitarian catastrophe in Syria.”

Then DDT said he would be making a decision about U.S. sanctions by Wednesday, but Congress just started considering any sanctions regarding Lebanon a week ago.

At the time of his inauguration, DDT threatened to steal oil from Iraq. Now he is considering “relieving” Afghanistan of raw-earth minerals that could be worth $1 trillion.

Russia seemed to be on the back burner this week because of the distractions and the health care fiasco. Congress did pass a bill increasing sanctions on Russia and removing some power from DDT to change the sanctions. He spent several days deciding whether to sign it but finally said that he will accept it. With a senate vote of 98-2 and a House vote of 419-3, the bill seems to be veto proof.

Jared Kushner managed to avoid public testimony before a congressional committee by supposedly turning over documents, but New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza, who also published the story about Scaramucci’s vulgar rhetoric, has an article about Jared Kushner’s involvement with the Russian collusion. Records from DDT’s son-in-law also shows his app that disappears messages sent to him as does DDT’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen.  Kushner downloaded the app four days before his father-in-law was inaugurated. Destroying any communication with a president violates the Presidential Records Act.

In November 2013, DDT tweeted:

“Leadership: Whatever happens, you’re responsible. If it doesn’t happen, you’re responsible.”

This position is far different from what he exhibited in the past week–and in the past six months.

 

June 27, 2017

DDT: Week Twenty-Two – Russia, Other Bizarre Happenings

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) seemed tamer earlier last week, but he always winds up before his weekend vacations when he can ditch his keepers. Maybe his daily 6:30 am calls to his legal time have given him food for thought. He has far too many lawyers for a man who has nothing to hide. Some of his own lawyers are even hiring their own lawyers.

DDT’s biggest loss to Russia could be the Senate vote of 98-2 that limits DDT’s power to remove sanctions from Russia. The U.S. shooting down a Syrian Air Force fighter didn’t make this nation popular with Russia, a Syrian supporter. In retaliation, Russia declared any U.S.-led coalition craft west of the Euphrates river as a possible target and ended the Syrian air safety agreement with the U.S. to avoid aircraft collisions. DDT had already turned all military decisions to Secretary of Defense James Mattis, thereby losing all control and possibly forecasting war. The result was 4,000 more troops sent to Afghanistan and a massive increase in U.S.-caused civilian casualties in Syria and Iraq, more than 35 percent more in five months since DDT’s inauguration than in all of 2016. May saw a record number of women and children killed. It was only two months ago that DDT said that “we’re not going into Syria.”

Each week gives greater information about Russian hacking into the U.S. election, including attempts to delete or change voter data. A DHS official testified that 21 states were target although a total of 39 states is possible.

Russian revelations keep surfacing. Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn missed reporting a 2015 trip to Saudi Arabia lobbying a U.S./Russia business plan to build nuclear reactors. The legality of foreign payments to Michael Flynn’s business partner Bijan Kianthe is also being investigated.  Another casualty could be CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who kept briefing Flynn on highly classified secrets after he knew Flynn was subject to Russian blackmail. The Justice Department has one month to make public part of AG Jeff Sessions’ clearance form that was supposed to disclose Russian official contact, according to a U.S. District Court judge. Sessions has hired his own lawyer. The judge gave the same time limit to search Chief of Staff Reince Priebus’ communication with the FBI to repudiate links between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Much of the media was taken up last week with the announcement of the senate health care bill, prepared in secret by GOP leader’s staffers, according to Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT). The sole purpose of the bill is tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, indicating that the name might be better Trumpcut than Trumpcare.

In his continuation of hosting foreign leaders—perhaps hoping that they will want his golf courses and resorts—DDT praised the U.S. for doing “a good job building [the Panama Canal].” Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela responded, “Yeah, about 100 years ago.”

The Supreme Court decided to hear a gerrymandering case from Wisconsin that could—or might not—reduce voter suppression throughout the United States. The fourth solid red district stayed red after reelections for DDT’s nominations. All of them, however, are turning purple as the most recent one in Georgia where Dem Jon Osoff lost by under two points after GOP Tom Price won it by 23 percent just six months ago. Democrats overperformed in the other elections too, despite the Republians’ lies.

The circus of White House press conferences continued with refusals to even tape the event before Spicer backed down. Despite rumors of Sean Spicer’s departure—and his requirement to interview for his replacement—the press secretary is still there and repeating his line about not speaking to DDT about the subject of the question, any question.

After weeks of teasing his audience about possible tapes of himself and former FBI director James Comey, DDT has announced that he lied, that there are no tapes. His claim about taping could be defined as an attempt to intimidate a witness. DDT could still be lying about the existence of tapes if he thinks that they don’t support his version of conversations with Comey. According to former employees, DDT taped conversations at Trump Tower in New York City and recorded his guests’ telephone calls at Mar-a-Lago. To cover himself, DDT said that he didn’t rule out the possibility that “electronic surveillance” had picked up their talks.

DDT sent a statement with “warm greetings” to Muslims celebrating Ramadan but eliminated the two-decade tradition of an Iftar dinner representing the end of the Islamic holy month of fasting.

Two organizations are suing DDT for illegally destroying communications that federal law demands be preserved. Messages sent from the White House supposedly use an “auto-delete” app to erase messages after they are read. Jordan Libowitz, CREW spokesman, said that the purpose is to “keep them secret from the American people,” as part of a “larger, troubling pattern” of information suppression in the Trump administration, which also includes deletion of the president’s tweets.” DDT continually slammed Hillary Clinton for not saving her emails, asking Russia to find them.

Ivanka Trump is also involved in a lawsuit. She has been ordered to testify in a lawsuit from an Italian shoemaker who is accusing her of copying one of his designs.

DDT has gone back to finding ambassadors. He picked two owners of sports franchises, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson to go to the UK and former LA Dodgers baseball team owner Jamie McCourt for Belgium. Top donor and fundraiser Kelly Knight Craft may be headed to Canada. She and her husband Joe Craft, president of a coal company Alliance Resource Partners, gave $1.3 million to GOP candidates and SuperPACs last year. Fourteen of his 19 ambassador picks are campaign donors.

In another choice, DDT nominated Christopher Wray to replace James Comey as head of the FBI. In early January 2017, Wray deleted a line from his law firm bio referencing a 2006 case in which he represented a U.S. energy executive being investigated by the Russian government. As Chris Christie’s personal lawyer, Wray got the New Jersey governor off from a charge of the George Washington Bridge closing. Wray had a phone with text messages and a former staffer during legislative testimony that Christie claimed he gave to the Department of Justice, but a judge refused to subpoena the phone in evidence against Christie. Wray’s firm also worked on DDT’s “blind trust.” Several candidates for the FBI position had already withdrawn from consideration.

A Washington Post analysis found that DDT’s Mar-a-Lago club is booking fewer charity banquets and events since his campaign than in the previous seven years. These banquets account for almost half the annual revenue. DDT’s  real estate business is also struggling with a decline in condo and land sales. Listing prices for several high-end NYC condos are being drastically cut while the city’s condo market is booming. DDT did manage to sell a penthouse to a Chinese American tied to high-ranking Chinese government officials and organizations linked to Chinese military intelligence groups. The large revenue on DDT’s financial disclosure forms show gross and not net revenue.

DDT tried to rally his troops in a speech in Iowa ten days ago. It was his first west of the Mississippi, and he told at least 18 lies according to fact checkers. One was his promise to pass “new immigration rules which say that those seeking admission into our country must be able to support themselves financially and should not use welfare for a period of at least five years.”  DDT’s mandate has been law for 20 years. He also bragged about bringing back coal jobs while delivering multiple lies about the Paris Agreement. Iowa not only has no coal jobs but also gets one-third of its electricity from wind. DDT ridiculed the state for its wind energy, indicating that people will have no electricity when the wind doesn’t blow and complaining about wind turbines “killing all the birds.” Cell phone towers killed 6.8 million birds a year, and glass buildings do away with one billion. Climate change can finish off the rest of them.

Last fall DDT proudly announced that he had saved jobs because Ford wouldn’t be expanding its production in Mexico. The corporation is centralizing its small-car production in China. Ford has said it will cut as many as 1,400 jobs in less than a year. General Motors has cut production at four U.S. assembly lines, costing 4,400 workers their jobs. Fiat Chrysler laid off another 1,300 workers at their assembly line in Detroit. The 600 Carrier jobs that DDT bragged about saving last year are going to Mexico, and Boeing is pink-slipping an unknown number of employees.

As Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said,  American leadership was better under President Obama than under DDT.

[Note: My apologies for being late with the 22nd week. Look for the 23rd week in a few days. DDT keeps making news!]

November 18, 2015

Ryan Abandons Promises, Moves Bill against Syrian Refugees

Filed under: Immigration — trp2011 @ 10:00 PM
Tags: , , ,

ryan

How long does it take for the new House Speaker to break his promises? It depends on how long Congress is in recess. In this case, Paul Ryan (R-WI) started his job by leading a fairly quiet session for the first week of November. Dana Milbank wrote, “It was nice while it lasted.” I’m now at the place where I appreciate recesses because the GOP seems to cause less damage when they wandering around trying to look important rather than making stupid decisions.

While campaigning for the job that Ryan said he didn’t want, Ryan promised “regular order”: the House of Representatives would operate by deliberation rather than fiat, and the House members could amend and shape legislation. Ryan said, “The committees should retake the lead in drafting all major legislation…. When we rush to pass bills, a lot of us do not understand we are not doing our job.”

After a week off, the members returned day before yesterday. Last night Ryan put a “rush job” onto a bill to keep Syrian refugees out of the United States.   At 10:15 pm, House leaders presented a brand new piece of legislation, written during the day, to rewrite mandates for the U.S. refugees from Syria and Iraq. No hearings, no expert testimony, no consultation with any agencies, no committee action, no amendments, nothing. The vote is planned for tomorrow.

In his first address as speaker, Ryan said:

“The House is broken. We are not solving problems. We are adding to them. … We are supposed to study up and do the homework that [the people] cannot do. So when we do not follow regular order—when we rush to pass bills a lot of us do not understand– we are not doing our job. Only a fully functioning House can truly represent the people.”

H.R. 4038, the “American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act” (SAFE Act because the GOP loves to give things the opposite name of what they mean) may make people feel “safe” because of new vetting requirements. Yet current rules demand an 18-to-24 month rigorous examination of refugees to certify that they are not security threats. Is the new one better? No one knows because there have been no hearings. The new bureaucracy of the proposed SAFE Act , however, shuts down the refugee program for years. This from the party that hates federal intervention.

President Obama has promised to veto the bill, which would first need to survive the Senate, so the GOP “emergency” is simply to get push more Republicans into getting elected in 2016. Ryan refused to allow a vote on an alternative Syrian refugee bill.

Today House and Senate negotiators gathered together to somewhat harmoniously blend their versions of a transportation bill. The bill had cleared the House by a large majority during Ryan’s first week when he permitted over 100 amendments. Actually compromising on bills with amendments and hard work is exhausting, which may be why Ryan made the Syrian refugee bill the 45th “closed rule” of the year, establishing a record for the number of bills on the House floor without the possibility of amendment.

Ryan is following the leadership style of former House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), who resigned as of Halloween. Boehner’s promises of “regular order” also began with allowing over 100 amendments on a bill before he broke this promise of “openness.” Ryan made promises to get his job—such as refusing to work with the president on immigration reform—but his only vision was what he wouldn’t do. On Meet the Press, Chuck Todd asked Ryan what the one thing he could accomplish in six months. Ryan detoured the question by talking about working families falling behind and the disaster of “Obamacare.”

One thing Ryan did accomplish: he gets to go home every weekend to be with his family instead of doing the Speaker’s job of fundraising and campaigning for GOP congressional candidates. Family values are important to Ryan unless they include paid child care, sick leave, and maternity/paternity care for people in the United States, one of just three countries–out of 185—without guaranteed paid maternity leave. Amanda Marcotte wrote that Ryan “sees a family life as a privilege for the elite, instead of a right for all.” Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg, who expressed herself as a feminist in her book Lean In, praised Ryan for his desire to parent. Only the wealthy deserve such advantages as family time, according to the powerful.

Rep. Paul Ryan, R- Wis., arrives at a news conference following a House Republican meeting, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Ryan told GOP lawmakers that he will run for speaker, but only if they embrace him by week's end as their consensus candidate, an ambitious bid to impose unity on a disordered and divided House. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

 (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Not every GOP House member was pleased with Ryan’s demands. Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) compared Ryan to a maid applying for a job who says “I don’t clean windows, I don’t do floors, I don’t do beds, these are the hours I’ll work.”  For many years, the Speaker was a prestigious job; now it’s comparable to being a “maid.”

Before the faux crisis of the Syrian refugees, the House had passed another partial repeal of The Affordable Care Act, but the Senate has had to shelve it because he may not be able to get even 51 necessary signatures. Of the 54 GOP Senators, three of them may refuse to vote against it because the House bill defunds Planned Parenthood, and other object because it doesn’t repeal the entire law. Even the House members who voted in favor of the bill are having buyers’ remorse because it repeals only six of the 419 provisions—1.4 percent of the law.

Next year, Congress will have less time to mess up: they’ve assigned themselves a two-day work week with only 111 days in session. That’s over $1,500 a day for all those GOP legislators who think that $15 an hour is too much for hard work. The GOP must become the “proposition” party; it’s not enough to be an opposition party, said the new speaker. He’s found his vision and “proposition” in trying to keep all desperate Syrian refugees out of the United States. And he may get the bill passed in two days, leaving him another 109 days to save the United States.

Ryan called the attacks in Paris “an act of war” and said that the annual National Defense Authorization Act on Tuesday requires the president to have a plan to defeat ISIS. The U.S. Constitution requires Congress to authorize the president to engage in war, something that this Congress has avoided for over a year. If the House can put together a bill to stop Syrian refugees from coming into the country in less than a week, they have time to work on a plan of “war.”

In the past, the Speaker of the House of Representatives sometimes served all the people in the United States, not the GOP. It’s time to return to that practice. Ryan is right: the House is broken. And with Ryan at the helm, it’s still broken.

June 30, 2013

Christians Respond to SCOTUS DOMA Ruling

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 2:29 PM
Tags: , , ,

The repeal of DOMA has filled the news during the past week, with Christians taking a big part in responding to the news that the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Congressional law mandating marriage to be between one man and one woman.

An Arizona reader of the blog sent me the following communication from her church. She also said that St. Augustine’s Church “rang the church bells … and all the bells and gongs they could find.”

Dear People of God,

I rejoice, along with our LBGT brothers and sisters, over the Supreme Court decisions this morning. Our country has come one step closer to that freedom and justice are for all its citizens. Many LBGT people I know who are my age have commented that they would have never believed that equality under the law would happen for them “in our lifetime.” I can only begin to imagine the full extent of their joy today.

Our country has come closer to a truth which has been ours as Christians from the beginning, that God loves everything and everyone God has made, and that we are called to reflect God’s love for us in how we love each other. Our country is now one step closer to making that possible for everyone. Today Love won.

Faithfully,

The Rt. Rev. Kirk Stevan Smith

Episcopal Diocese of Arizona

Below is one couple who Smith is describes. Thanks to photographer Ann Hubard, who took this picture at the DOMA Decision Celebration in Portland (OR).

Annies two guys

Despite the support of marriage equality for all from the majority of voters in the United States, there was a dark side as the conservatives expressed themselves with great fear and fury.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) originally agreed with Glenn Beck that the Supreme Court ruling might result in people marry animals. After Paul’s bizarre claim hit the Internet, he must have decided that it might hurt his possibilities of becoming president in 2016 and withdrew his statement. No one, however, can ever erase their stupidity from the web.

Mike Huckabee, former presidential wannabe, was brief in his first tweet: “Jesus wept.” Later he elaborated by accusing the Supreme Court of declaring itself “ bigger than God.” Unfortunately for Huckabee, Jesus said absolutely nothing about marriage equality, but he did say lots about poverty and money-changers.

Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) declared that “society itself is at risk and cannot continue.” At the same press conference, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) said that same-sex marriage was “usually tried at the end of a great civilization.” Both comments echoed House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) when he said that “preserving the institution of traditional marriage is crucial to the stability of our society.”

Ralph Reed, leader of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, viewed that SCOTUS’ action as “an Orewellian act of judicial fiat” in its threat to federalism, rule of law, and Western civilization.

The National Organization for Marriage blamed a conspiracy of “homosexual” and “liberal” lower circuit judges for the Court’s rulings. In a peculiar blend of mixed metaphors, Brian Brown, NOM’s president said:

“There is a stench coming from this case that has now stained the Supreme Court. They’ve allowed corrupt politicians and judges to betray the voters, rewarding them for their betrayal.”

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) declared  that “no man, not even a Supreme Court, can undo what a holy God has instituted.”

Tim Wildmon, president of American Family Association, used the myth that the United States is only a Christian country: “We are deeply saddened by today’s decision to not only allow but encourage same-sex marriage in our country—a country that was founded on biblical principles.”  Once again, Mr. Wildmon, most of the founders were Deists.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) hated the possibility that he might be a bigot, the way that the SCOTUS ruling indicated. “It is … my hope that those who argue for the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex marriage will refrain from assailing the millions of Americans who disagree with them as bigots.”

Chris Joseph’s strong satiric channeling of Rubio in the Broward-Palm Beach New Times, was in response to his “I’m not a bigot” statement:

“Those of us who oppose gay marriage aren’t bigots, bro! We’re TOTALLY about constitutional provisions and laws. This has NOTHING to do with our own religious beliefs and us wanting to force those beliefs on other people. That would be wrong. No, no. I’m just about tradition, and not at all involved with gay-hate groups, or basing my reasons on my personal belief that you will burn for all eternity if you’re a gay. I mean, just because one believes that another person is doomed to an eternal place of darkness to suffer forever doesn’t make me hateful at all! Pffft.”

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) opposed the SCOTUS ruling against DOMA by saying, “I think children will be hurt.” He used as the basis for his myth the erroneous belief that decades of social-science research have “shown that every child deserves a mom and dad.” These lies by people in a situation to help children not only damage the children of same-sex couples but also demonstrate the hypocrisy of conservative lawmakers. If they cared for children, they would not take away their food, shelter, education, healthcare, emotional support, etc.

Pennsylvania Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R) is a leading example of the legislators who don’t understand the First Amendment’s position of freedom of religion that some people describe as the separation of church state. When openly gay Rep. Brian Sims (D) tried to speak on the legislature floor about the SCOTUS ruling on DOMA, Metcalfe stopped him because Sims’ comments would be “open rebellion against God’s law.” Metcalfe also stopped two other lawmakers from talking about DOMA.

Despite all these cruel, narrow-minded statements from religious conservatives, there was much joy and a good bit of humor, including from John Oliver, the summer replacement for Jon Stewart on The Daily Show.

The most important response came from the President of the United States:

“I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it. We are a people who declared that we are all created equal – and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.

“This ruling is a victory for couples who have long fought for equal treatment under the law; for children whose parents’ marriages will now be recognized, rightly, as legitimate; for families that, at long last, will get the respect and protection they deserve; and for friends and supporters who have wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and have worked hard to persuade their nation to change for the better.

“So we welcome today’s decision, and I’ve directed the Attorney General to work with other members of my Cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for Federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly.

“The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts: when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.”

Now we wait to see the implementation of the court’s rulings.

[The following was posted on Rep. Earl Blumenauer’s (D-OR) website.]

77441506_24_13_Supreme_Court_Equa_Earl_Quote

November 10, 2011

Republican Debate–Falsehoods and Misogyny

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:34 PM

The eight Republican presidential candidates decided to play nice with each other at last night’s debate in Michigan—for the first time since the series started. Mitt Romney refused to answer question about whether he would hire a CEO who had sexual abuse allegations against him as Herman Cain does. Earlier in the week, Romney had called the allegations “very disturbing” but seemed afraid of bringing this out in a debate.

When Rick Perry couldn’t remember all three of the agencies that he would erase if he were elected president, Ron Paul gave him suggestions, and Michele Bachman expressed pity for him after the debate. Perry traveled the television circuit today explaining that he’s just human and that it was all very funny.

Notable about the debate, however, is the lack of ideas for helping the economy. Called “Your Money, Your Vote,” the debate produced the usual misinformation that these candidates constantly spout, but speakers were more careful this time to present fewer statistics. By now, many listeners have figured out that the various tax plans—9-9-9; 59, etc.—will to benefit the rich and increase taxes on the majority of the bottom 40 percent of the population.

President Barack Obama “gave GM to UAW, he gave Chrysler to Fiat,” according to Romney. Not true. The union now owns about 10 percent of General Motors, in turn losing workers’ ability to strike over wage issues. The criticisms about saving the car companies did not go well in Michigan, a state that desperately needs this industry to provide for its seriously sagging economy.

The government didn’t force mortgage lenders to make bad loans, as these candidates claimed. Companies with no regulations lined up to participate through purchasing subprime lenders and creating divisions for them; executives admit that they did it because they wanted to make money. The government can be faulted only because they didn’t create regulations. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac didn’t create the bubble; they didn’t join the sharks until late in the game after private companies stole their business.

Regulatory uncertainty is not the problem for the poor economy, as Cain, Perry, and others claimed. Small business surveys consistently report that the “single biggest problem” they face is low sales. Eradicating more regulations won’t make any business feel more secure. They just need people to have jobs so that they can spend more money.

The United States is headed in the same disastrous direction as Italy, according to Romney. Once again, not true. Differences between European countries and the United States include the interest rate. Whereas creditors demand exorbitant rates in Europe, in the U.S. Treasury bonds and other securities are among the safest havens of all international investment. After the Standard and Poor’s downgrade of the U.S. credit rating in August, demand for Treasury bonds increased, pushing rates down more. The fact that this country sometimes deals with debt by printing money, while possibly causing inflation in the future, makes the debt proportionally smaller, a flexibility lacking for the 17 members of the euro zone that share a common currency.

According to Newt Gingrich, “Dodd-Frank kills small banks; it kills small business.” His statement has no facts to support it. This financial regulation overhaul is primarily targeted at large banks and Wall Street firms that got billions of dollars in 2009 from the government’s bailout. Small banks are exempt as are community banks with less than $10 billion in assets—and make up 98 percent of U.S. banks. In addition, surveys show that banks have been easing their credit standards for business loans during the past year, but loan demand fell in the third quarter. Paul Dales, an economist at Capital Economics, wrote that the findings “suggest it is not the supply of credit that’s holding the economy back. Instead, the problem is demand for credit.”

The candidates played to the crowd, frequently in a flip fashion. When asked about the problems of the Dodd-Frank Act, one candidate replied, “Dodd and Frank.” Questions about Europe and China received dismissive responses as if the rest of the world should just go away. Jon Huntsman tried to explain the problems with starting a trade war with China, but no one listened.

Missing from the discussion on money, because no questions were asked, was the possibility of Cain campaign finance fraud. No one asked about the report that a non-profit controlled by Cain’s campaign manager, Mark Block, had illegally picked up the tab for private jet travel and iPads for the campaign in apparent violation of tax law or about the illegal misuse of a tax-exempt organization. Cain is still being called the CEO of a pizza chain, a position that he hasn’t held for over 15 years, instead of his job description as a front-man for Prosperity 101, a workplace program linked to billionaire David Koch that is designed to frighten workers into voting for the Koch anti-labor, anti- environmental agenda.

In addition to their falsehoods and policies that will drive the disparity between the top 1 percent and the bottom 99 percent greater and greater, the conservatives’ misogyny is highly disturbing. The question from CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo about whether character issues such as those raised about him in the past several days would keep him from hiring a CEO charged with these issues was booed, but the audience applauded Cain’s indignant response about his character assassination. Later his reference to former Speaker of the House Rep. Pelosi (D-CA) as “Princess Nancy” was also applauded.

Former South Carolina Republican Party Executive Director Todd Kincannon’s tweets are a classic example of how many conservatives perceive women in power. After he heard Cain’s term “Princess Nancy,” Kincannon sent the following:

@ToddKincannon: “The Crabby Cunt from the CaliforniaCoast”? #NancyPelosi

@ToddKincannon: Or how about “The Botox Bitch from Buggeryland”?

@ToddKincannon: Would you prefer Nancy the Crooked Whore? More accurate, but also more words.

The nation’s voters seem to be developing an understanding of the conservatives’ war on the country. Three polls conducted in the past week reveal that a majority of people in this country believe the GOP is stalling the economy in order to hurt President Obama politically and prevent him from being re-elected. As the candidates push their myths and Congressional Republicans fail to pass laws to grow the economy, this awareness is sure to increase.

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