Nel's New Day

March 19, 2017

DDT Supporters Start to Lose—Everything

 

A campaign argument from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to voters was “what do you have to lose?” People voting for DDT almost uniformly said that they wanted a “change.” Now they have a change, and DDT’s policies are proving that everyone except those in the highest income levels will most likely lose.

DDT won with 80 percent support from white evangelical Christians, but some conservative faith leaders are beginning to question the validity of DDT’s policies. Over 100 Christians, many of them conservative, wrote a letter to congressional leaders about how DDT’s cut of $10.1 billion for the International Affairs Budget will damage humanitarian programs abroad.

“With just 1 percent of our nation’s budget, the International Affairs Budget has helped alleviate the suffering of millions; drastically cutting the number of people living in extreme poverty in half, stopping the spread of infectious diseases like HIV/AIDs and Ebola, and nearly eliminating polio. As followers of Christ, it is our moral responsibility to urge you to support and protect the International Affairs Budget, and avoid disproportionate cuts to these vital programs that ensure that our country continues to be the ‘shining city upon a hill.’”

Progressive Sister Simone Campbell wrote that DDT’s cuts “disproportionately affect the same group of people — women, people of color, and all at the economic margins.”

Mick Mulvaney, architect of DDT’s budget and OMB director, has tried to explained that punitive cuts for vulnerable populations are really “compassionate” because people should not pay for services to others unless it’s for a “proper function.” He didn’t explain that this function is for building “the wall” and increasing the military by ten percent. He also said that the cut to Meals on Wheels was only three percent when the federal government actually pays 35 percent.

A five-minute search on the Internet would show Mulvaney positive quantifiable results for Meals on Wheels and another project he wants to slash, after-school programs that provide meals.

Meals on Wheels: 26 of 48 states would save money for Medicaid with an expansion in the program of one percent by keeping seniors out of nursing homes. Florida could trim as much as $11.5 million, and Pennsylvania could save $5.7 million. Overall, the nation would pay only $8 million for this  one-percent expansion.

After-School Meals: feeding hungry children costs $.80 a meal. Several studies show that these programs improve student grades, attendance, and school participation.

DDT has taken five trips to Mar-a-Lago since becoming president for a grand total of about $16.5 million, but there are no concrete results for his personal entertainment. Any meetings there could easily be at the White House. Meals on Wheels could feed 5,967 seniors for a year for that amount. After school programs could feed 114,583 poor children for a year for the same amount. Among the 2.4 million people served by Meals on Wheels are 500,000 veterans. The cost for feeding them for a year could be covered by a little over one month supporting DDT’s family in New York.

A tweet: “Trump golfing at Mar-a-Lago costs $10 million/mo. The National Endowment for the Arts costs $12 million/mo. Guess which is being cut?”

Mulvaney’s “compassionate” budget will eliminate the 50-year-old program, National Endowment for the Arts. The basis for this legislation is that a great country comes from an enlightened and unfettered citizenry:

“Democracy demands wisdom and vision in its citizens. It must therefore foster … access to the arts and the humanities, designed to make people of all backgrounds and wherever located masters of their technology and not its unthinking servants.”

An early NEA decision was to foster local and regional economies in individual states: the approximately $400 million—25 percent of it targeted to rural communities—returns more than $704.2 billion to the nation’s economy, about 4.23 percent of the GDP. This is more than construction ($619.8 billion) or transportation and warehousing ($483.5 billion). In 2015, NEA funding provided audiences of 33 million people to “30,000 concerts, readings and performances and 5,000 visual and media arts exhibitions,” according to statistics. The NEA makes cities and towns better place to live and extends education, helping students get higher grades and stay in school. Maintaining DDT’s New York home where his wife and son live costs over $4 million a month; NEA costs the average taxpayer $.46 a year.

The budget also used “compassion” to whack $580 million a year from NIH because the 21st Century Cure project gets $480 million to research cures for 10,000 diseases including cancer, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. Oddly enough, the charge to taxpayers doesn’t go away, but it can’t be spent unless Congress okays it.

What do blacks have to lose with DDT? He answered this campaign trail question in his budget: elimination of the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, the Choice Neighborhoods program, and the Self-help Homeownership Opportunity program, SHOP which DDT calls “lower priority programs.” Mulvaney calls this compassion.

The facts belie a demand for the ten-percent increase in military and outright elimination of many programs or cuts of 31 percent to slowing down climate change.

  • The U.S. spends more on military than China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, France, India, and Germany — combined. Yet the U.S. spends far less per capita than other countries on initiatives that DDT cuts.
  • Eliminated programs are more valuable to West Virginia’s coal miners and Detroit’s single mothers, referenced by Mulvaney as not needing them, than the ten-percent increase in military. DDT’s budget cuts funding for early-childhood education, public housing, transit, food assistance, and job training as well as programs that help people in West Virginia and many surrounding states to find jobs. It also cuts the federal agency, the Chemical Safety Board,  that investigated the 2014 chemical spill outside Charleston leaving 300,000 people without drinking water for five days.
  • On top of DDT’s budget cuts is a huge regressive tax cut which gives money only to the wealthy while Mulvaney talks about worrying about coal miner and single mothers. His argument about trying to protect these people in a budget that takes all their services makes no sense.
  • The budget doesn’t reduce the deficit, which DDT had promised to do.

Mulvaney demands “results,” but the U.S. has spent $4 trillion to establish new regime that don’t work instead of repairing U.S. infrastructure and providing jobs for people in this country. The Pentagon is decades behind in a congressionally-mandated audit, and in 2015 alone Army accounting couldn’t support $2.8 trillion in third quarter adjustments and $6.5 trillion in year-end adjustments. In just that one year, $125 billion in administrative waste was identified, double what DDT budget wants for a Department of Defense increase.

The GOP Trumpcare will kill 17,000 people a year, more people in three months than foreign terrorists have killed in the U.S. since—and including—the 9/11 disaster almost 16 years ago. And far more deaths will ensue from DDT’s budget attack on poor people. Those not forced out of their homes may have no heating assistance.

DDT has joined with Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to attack people with student debt by rolling back a regulation from President Obama preventing extortionist fees on student loans for late payments. Before this went into effect, students were charged up to 16 percent even if people paid with 60 days of defaulting. For example, a woman with an $18,000 loan was charged $4,500 in fees when she was 18 days late in paying.

Robert Reich wrote about DDT’s theme of unnecessary cruelty in his policies: his budget attacks the poor at a time when the majority of people suffer greater poverty than they have in almost a century; his Trumpcare adds not only to their poverty of people in the U.S. but also to their deaths; his Syrian refugee and Muslim ban does nothing to protect people from terrorism; and his dragnet approach toward driving immigrants out of the country loses some of the nation’s most productive members and keeps other equally important people from coming to the United States. DDT has no reason for this cruelty other than his business style—create chaos and rule through persecuting people.

Fox’s Howard Kurtz wrote, “The swamp fights back,” referring to the backlash against DDT’s budget, including assistance for food, affordable housing, banking, job training, home heating oil bills, and legal counsel. When DDT said he would “drain the swamp,” people believed that he meant the bureaucracy that destroys jobs and moves money to the wealthy. Evidently the “swamp people” represent people DDT had promised to protect only a few months ago.

There is nothing Christian about any of DDT policies and nothing Christian about conservatives calling those who believe in human rights “swamp people.”

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October 26, 2014

Religious Beliefs ‘Not Reasonable’

scalia425x320“Religious beliefs aren’t reasonable.” That’s what Justice Antonin Scalia said in court on October 7, 2014 during oral arguments for Holt v. Hobbs. Mark that date! Of course, the man who ruled that businesses can have religious beliefs (Hobby Lobby) wasn’t dealing with Christianity. The case concerned whether a Muslim prison inmate in Arkansas would be allowed to keep his beard because of his religious beliefs.  [Photo by Pete Marovich, Zuma Press]

In context, Scalia’s statement came from asking the plaintiff to believe that a half-inch beard would fulfill his religious requirement for a full beard. Before October 7, the justice had claimed that religious beliefs are beliefs and therefore don’t need justification with facts. The four drugs in the Hobby Lobby case didn’t actually produce abortions, but the Supreme Court determined that this didn’t matter. What mattered was that the plaintiffs believed that the drugs would result in abortions. No need for facts. The Court got so carried away that they extended the original decision that satisfied Hobby Lobby owners to all forms of contraception with no religious justification.

Arkansas’ argument is that an inmate can hide something in a beard, even in a one-half inch medical beard permitted in 44 other states. Some of those states have no length requirement for beards, and the state’s attorney could not cite any security problems with beards in other states’ prisons. Arkansas has no limit on the length of hair on inmates’ heads. Then the state claimed that the ban on beards was to “keep prisoners from disguising themselves.”

Hobby Lobby plaintiffs suffered little questioning about the “sincerity” of the corporation’s beliefs. The company even provided birth control coverage to their employees before the Affordable Care Act mandate. In the case about a Muslim prisoner wanting to grow a beard, Scalia was intent on forcing the plaintiff to justify his religious beliefs.

For the first time, I agree with Scalia: religious beliefs aren’t reasonable. Here are some examples of the bigoted hypocrisy of “Christians.”

After Jan Morgan, owner of an Arkansas firing range in Arkansas, declared that her business is a “Muslim-free zone” because they are all killers, Larry Pratt, director of Gun Owners of America, plans to give her award for her action. It’s his opinion that “the Quran … is an instruction to go kill people.” On the other hand, the bible is far more violent than the Quran.

Dan Patrick, the GOP nominee for Texas lieutenant governor, follows the Texas School Board’s desire to require the teaching of creationism in public schools. His rationale is that children become confused because they learn about creationism in Sunday School and then about evolution on week days. This position follows his belief that “there is no such thing as separation of church and state.” As a newly-elected state senator, Patrick walked out of the chamber because a Muslim delivered the opening prayer. Patrick believes in tolerance but thought that remaining during the prayer would signify endorsement. He recently praised Phil Robertson (Duck Dynasty) for his leadership in bigotry toward LGBT people, minorities, and women.

According to the Christian bible, Jesus would have tried to heal the people faced with the current Ebola epidemic.  The “Christian” far right, however, wants to close the border and stop people from going to fight the disease in West African. At the same time, they spread fears about undocumented immigrants from Central America although there are no cases of Ebola among them and oppose the free treatment that the few people in the U.S. have received if they are infected with the disease. Ebola could be stopped at the source with millions from the United States, but the far-right prefers to spend trillions of dollars to kill hundreds of thousands of Arabs.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) has ratcheted up his rants against gays, cohabators, and divorced people after Pope Francis stated that the Catholic Church should be welcoming to these groups. If King gets his way, these people won’t find eternal salvation in heaven. Asked if divorce and cohabitation are sins, he said:

“What was a sin 2,000 years ago is a sin today, and people that were condemned to hell 2,000 years ago, I don’t expect to meet them should I make it to heaven.”

King did mitigate his remarks by saying that he needed to read the pope’s document carefully before “passing judgment” on it.

Last spring, King said that entrepreneurs have “God-given rights that our founding fathers defined in the Declaration,” but LGBT people have no rights because being gay and lesbian is a “self-professed behavior” and can’t be “independently verified.” Two years earlier, he said that LGBT people should just lie about the sexual and gender identity to avoid being fired. Three years before that he wanted the name of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Bill changed to the “Local Law Enforcement Thought Crimes Prevention Act of 2009″ because he doesn’t believe in hate crimes.

Douglas MacKinnon, a former aide to Ronald Reagan and speech-writer for him and George H.W. Bush, doesn’t want to wait for heaven in order to avoid LGBT people: he wants the South to secede and form an ultraconservative independent state named Reagan. As author of The Secessionist States of America: The Blueprint for Creating a Traditional Values Country … Now, MacKinnon has everything planned for this achievement. His focus is on Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, leaving out Texas because of the “incursions … from some of the folks in Mexico.” He claims to have the help of a military veteran friend and a group that includes “a constitutional law expert, two former military officers, two former diplomats, a minister, another special operator, and experts on banking, energy, farming, and infrastructure.”

MacKinnon is disturbed with “our leaders” who want:

“… to erase our borders, do away with the rule-of-law, expand the nanny state into a theology, bankrupt or punish American companies in the name of fighting climate change, do away with the Second Amendment, censor or demonize the history of Western civilization and replace it with multiculturalism, give every kid a trophy and turn them into wimps, continue to support the completely unfunded public-employee pensions which are destroying the financial solvency of cities, counties, and states across our nation, add billions every day to our $17 trillion in debt, destroy our health-care system to substitute socialized medicine, vilify fossil fuels, and attack all faith in God with a particular and unhinged bias against the Christian faith.”

Because all the Southern states except Texas take more money from the federal government than they pay into it with their taxes, Reagan–the country–could save the rest of the country lots of money!

Fox and Friends co-host, Ainsley Earhardt, has an argument against separation of church and state in public schools: everyone should accept the “culture” of Christianity instead of requesting the removal of Christian plaques from taxpayer-funded Texas schools. As a representative of the 77 percent of U.S. population declaring themselves to be “Christian,” Earhardt asked two people involved in the debate to talk with her on the show—both of them supporting the plaques. As Pastor Justin Coffman said:

“We’re all about wanting to see the cause of Christ go further. We want to see the cause of Christ in more public arenas in the American culture. We don’t want to take things away from. We want to see Christ in our schools.”

Tiffany Davlin complained that a secular group could “come into a community, which is a strong Christian-majority community, and say what we can or cannot have.”

“Attempt to bully us,” Coffman echoed.

“Yeah,” Earhardt agreed. “Yeah, Justin, you touched on it: the War on Christianity.”

Fox needs a war while waiting for the War on Christmas.

A Texas Justice of the Peace subscribes to the “culture” of Christianity in the South by beginning court sessions with bible readings, followed by a prayer. He promises that the case of anyone who is offended “will not be affected.” Too bad MacKinnon doesn’t want Texas in his new country of Texas.

“Religious beliefs aren’t reasonable.” Justice Antonin Scalia said that on October 7, 2014.

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.]

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