Good Morning Sky Dancers!
Today’s cartoons come from The.Daily.Don! Artist Jesse Duquette is the Daily Don: “Documenting this administration each day from the Inauguration to the Election.” They’re wonderful! Go look at his Instagram page! There’s one for every day we’ve been held hostage by Kremlin Caligula.
This compelling Op Ed written by retired Army officer Sheri Swokowski is another indication that Trump staffs every position with the wrong person. “Trump’s anti-LGBT Army secretary nominee thinks veterans like me have ‘a disease’”
Like Mark Green — President Trump’s nominee for secretary of the Army — I served my country in uniform. I was proud to be an infantry officer and retired honorably after 34 years. But as a transgender member of the military, I hid my authentic self for decades to continue serving the country I love. Unlike Green, I was forced to serve in silence the entire time, but I won’t be silent now.
I respect his Iraq War service as an Army flight surgeon, but the disrespect — the bigotry — he’s shown over and over toward the LGBT community, including LGBT service members, doesn’t reflect the spirit or direction of the military I know. Rather, his selection reflects poorly on the president and our armed forces. He’s the wrong choice to be Army secretary.
As a Tennessee state senator, Green has targeted the LGBT community. He introduced legislation that would enable businesses to discriminate against LGBT individuals. At a town hall meeting with his constituents, he expressed support for the idea of his state’s government defying the Supreme Court’s decision upholding marriage equality in all 50 states. He argued being transgender “is a disease.”
Now that he’s been nominated, Green says “politics will have nothing to do” with how he would do the job of Army secretary. Wrong. Leading the Army requires an appreciation for every individual, without exception, and Green wouldn’t have the confidence of the thousands of LGBT soldiers proudly and openly serving today. Every soldier needs to know that those at the top, uniformed and civilian, have their back. But based on the way he has used anti-LGBT politics to advance his career, that’s not him.
The You Tubes I put here will just give you a moment of zen and peace via Scotland. I’ve been listening to the haunting bagpipe music of my Gaelic ancestors for the last few days and finding some peace. I thought I’d share.
We’ve always known that Fox News was a basically a nuclear reactor of hate generation. Read this on Marie Claire.
After 15 years of providing legal protection and millions of dollars to his accusers, Fox News finally fired their marquis star, Bill O’Reilly, on Wednesday. In an age when a self-proclaimed “pussy-grabber” occupies the Oval Office, any public consequences for harassing women feel particularly significant. And this move was particularly satisfying for me—just a few years ago, O’Reilly sent a tidal wave of harassment my way.
On May 31, 2009, an anti-abortion zealot murdered abortion provider George Tiller. At the time, I was 21 years old and working as a counselor at an abortion clinic in Philadelphia. Dr. Tiller’s murder drove a hot spike of fear and anxiety through my entire body. I walked through anti-abortion protestors a few times a week to get to work; I found their gruesome signs annoying, but not threatening. But Dr. Tiller’s assassination forced me to confront the terrifying reality that my co-workers and I faced more than just screams. We could actually get killed for providing people with legal, safe, and compassionate medical care.
My boyfriend walked me to work the next day, a sweet but feeble attempt to shield me from the protestors. What could he actually do if one of them had a gun? Inside, my coworkers and I gathered to talk about how we felt. As I listened to each person share why they were still so committed to this work despite the danger, I wondered what it would be like for our stories and motivations to be shared in a bigger way. One colleague made a comment about all of us being Dr. Tiller now, and I texted my boyfriend—did he know how to make a website? And how much work would it take?
We stayed up all night with him writing code and me writing content for IAmDrTiller.com. The next day, I told my coworkers to take photos with a sign that said “I Am Dr. Tiller,” and asked them to email me their own explanation of why they provide abortion care. My boss sent the website around to other abortion providers, and overnight I received dozens of submissions from abortion-clinic staff all over the country. Somehow, conservative media got wind of the website, and on June 10, Bill O’Reilly discussed the project on his show.
Read the story of how O’Reilly basically ginned up a group of crazy domestic terrorists to stalk, harass and haunt here. I’ve been at the receiving end of attacks from those freaks. They’re an ugly, mean, nasty, and hateful lot.
President Obama will be giving a speech in Chicago after spending a lot of time resting in the tropics. I’d personally like to hear why we didn’t get all this T-Russia information back last summer from him. I believe we’re owed an explanation but I will take a little bit of hope and a lot of change talk. I could use it.
Obama and young leaders will hold a conversation on civic engagement and discuss community organizing at the university’s Logan Center for the Arts, his office announced Friday.
Hundreds of people are expected to attend, chosen from area universities that were given tickets for distribution, said Kevin Lewis, a spokesman for the former president. About six young people will appear on stage with him for the 11 a.m. discussion, Lewis said.
The event will be a homecoming for Obama on multiple levels. He formerly taught constitutional law at the U. of C. and his family has a home nearby in the Kenwood neighborhood. It also lets the former president, who came to Chicago to work as a young community organizer, fulfill one of the commitments he set out for his post-presidential years: to engage and work with the country’s next generation of leaders, Lewis said.
One SCOTUS decision could do serious damage to the First Amendment. Will this SCOTUS destroy Church/State Seperation?
One of the many travesties endemic in a government controlled by Republicans is that the evangelical right now has the full weight and force of the federal government to institute a theocracy. Now that religious conservatives control the Supreme Court with Neil Gorsuch’s appointment to the bench, they have an instant ally to achieve the Dominionist movement’s highest priorities: tearing down any and all constitutional barriers between church and state.
Yesterday, in a case the High Court’s conservatives postponed for 15 months wishing and hoping for an evangelical majority, they heard oral arguments in a case very few Americans are aware of. The people should be terrified because a ruling for theocracy will effectively demolish church-state separation and completely neuter the First Amendment’s religious clauses. And it will force every taxpayer to fund religious organizations; like it or not.
This one case will have far reaching effects on every American, and every facet of government, that will make the Hobby Lobby, Voting Rights, and Citizens United rulings seem petty and insignificant in comparison. Sadly, due to the media, including the cowards in the liberal media, and their resistance to reporting the rash of evangelical legislation they claim are simply born of “conservative ideology,” most Americans are clueless as to what is awaiting them; a High Court ruling establishing a veritable evangelical theocracy.
The case, “Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer,” is about forcing Missouri taxpayers to fund upgrading a church school’s playground despite a state and federal prohibition against it. Even though there is a long-standing Constitutional statute against using taxpayer money to fund religious organizations, Missouri is one several states that enshrined the same prohibition in its state Constitution. Still, the “churches” cried foul and claimed that if taxpayers fund public schools, then they damn sure better start funding religious schools and organizations.
One might think that churches earning well-over $82.5 billion annually (in 2013) from taxpayers subsidizing religious non-profits (churches) was enough welfare for the “charitable Christians.” Add to that staggering annual figure the $41.7 billion in annual payments (in 2004) in welfare from Bush’s “faith-based initiative” programs. Money well spent according to W. Bush who wanted the taxpayer’s money to “save one soul at a time.” Still, even that unconstitutional abomination didn’t satisfy their greed for more taxpayer money and more control over government. And, the sad truth is that tearing down the barrier between church and state will set a Constitutional precedent allowing evangelicals to do so much more than just force taxpayers to support their “ministries.”
Since before America was a nation, the Founding Fathers were preparing, and went to great lengths, to keep religion out of government. The concept of not funding, or legislating according to evangelicalism, is not a new idea.
I hold this near and dear as the descendant of Hugenot French who fled the Alsace Lorraine/Rhinelands area as Jews and Protestants being forcefully removed and slaughtered at the behest of the Roman Catholic Church. The parts of my family who signed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution made a refuge for folks suffering from state-sanctioned religious persecution. I’d hate to see us dump on this most important right.
Speaking of Judges, have you ever heard an AG attack one plus show his geography ignorance simultaneously? I’m willing to bet I can find second and third graders that know Hawaii is a state and is composed of quite a few islands too. Isn’t this a MaCaCa moment?
The ability of federal judges to strike down actions taken by Congress or the executive branch if they’re deemed unconstitutional is a hallmark of the American system of government. It’s an important part of the system of checks and balances, ensuring that the president and legislators don’t acquire too much power.
But to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the nation’s top law enforcement officer, it’s “amazing” — and he means that in a bad way.
“I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power,” Sessions told conservative radio host Mark Levin during an interview Tuesday (as reported by CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski on Thursday). “The judges don’t get to psychoanalyze the president to see if the order he issues is lawful. It’s either lawful or it’s not.”
The “judge sitting on an island in the Pacific” in question is District of Hawaii judge Derrick Watson, who ruled in March against the Trump administration’s attempt to temporarily ban residents of six majority-Muslim countries and nearly all refugees from entering the US. (Watson’s ruling is just a temporary injunction while the lawsuit against the ban, brought by states including Hawaii, gets a full hearing in court; the Trump administration is appealing Watson’s ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and appealing a separate ruling against the ban, issued in Maryland, to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.)
Sessions’s remark has gotten a lot of attention as an attack on the state of Hawaii (not least because it fits a little too easily in a long tradition of racist dog-whistling about the “foreignness” of nonwhite and specifically Pacific Islander Americans), but it’s part of a broader attack from Republicans on the “liberal Ninth Circuit” as a whole — and the first indication that not only President Trump, but his chief law enforcement officer, is uneasy with the idea of judicial review itself.
But Sessions has decided to place the spying blame Julian Assange and flutter his little hands and air his squeaky little Tennessee Crackcer voice to keep the attention off his boss and off all those meetings with Russians of his own.
The arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is now a “priority” for the US, the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has said.
Hours later it was reported by CNN that authorities have prepared charges against Assange, who is currently holed up at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Donald Trump lavished praise on the anti-secrecy website during the presidential election campaign – “I love WikiLeaks,” he once told a rally – but his administration has struck a different tone.
Asked whether it was a priority for the justice department to arrest Assange “once and for all”, Sessions told a press conference in El Paso, Texas, on Thursday: “We are going to step up our effort and already are stepping up our efforts on all leaks. This is a matter that’s gone beyond anything I’m aware of. We have professionals that have been in the security business of the United States for many years that are shocked by the number of leaks and some of them are quite serious.”
He added: “So yes, it is a priority. We’ve already begun to step up our efforts and whenever a case can be made, we will seek to put some people in jail.”
Citing unnamed officials, CNN reported that prosecutors have struggled with whether the Australian is protected from prosecution by the first amendment, but now believe they have found a path forward. A spokesman for the justice department declined to comment.
Barry Pollack, Assange’s lawyer, denied any knowledge of imminent prosecution. “We’ve had no communication with the Department of Justice and they have not indicated to me that they have brought any charges against Mr Assange,” he told CNN. “They’ve been unwilling to have any discussion at all, despite our repeated requests, that they let us know what Mr Assange’s status is in any pending investigations. There’s no reason why WikiLeaks should be treated differently from any other publisher.”
We’re all still wondering why Jason Chaffetz is exiting stage left with intense speed. What’s he running from exactly?
Jason Chaffetz is so ambitious that his last name is a verb.
In the political world, to Chaffetz means to throw a former mentor under the bus in order to get ahead, and various prominent Republicans, from former Utah governor and presidential candidate Jon Huntsman Jr. to House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, have experienced what it’s like to get Chaffetzed. But the five-term Utah Republican and powerful chairman of the House oversight committee shocked Washington on Wednesday when he announced he would not seek reelection in 2018 or run for any other political office that year in order to spend more time with his family.
“I am healthy. I am confident I would continue to be re-elected by large margins,” he said in a statement. “I have the full support of Speaker [Paul] Ryan to continue as Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. That said, I have made a personal decision to return to the private sector.”
His surprise announcement has fueled speculation of a possible scandal, though Chaffetz told Politico there’s nothing to the rumors about a skeleton in his closet: “I’ve been given more enemas by more people over the last eight years than you can possibly imagine… If they had something really scandalous, it would’ve come out a long, long time ago.”
Louise Mensch thinks the Russians have Kompromat. Twitter rumors say that he’s been having multiple affairs. (Who would fuck a man with a face like that?)
Okay, so I’m still thinking of planning an escape somewhere but meanwhile I’m here in the swamp with the Bagpipes wailing. I’m thinking I should get a set and practice at odd hours of the morning in front of the Air BnBs and the owners of my local nuisance bar. I’d be as unskilled as any of the musicians they hire for pennies there and at least as bad. One thing is certain that Scotland may look better than France if Marie LePen wins.
Have a great weekend! What’s on your reading and blogging list today? The music above is beautiful. Give it an ear or two.
Lots of corporate news sources were buzzing over the weekend about Romney’s appointment of former Utah Governor Mike Leavitt to head up his transition team. It’s also assumed that Leavitt would have the inside track to get the plum role of Chief of Staff in a Romney administration. Leavitt is also the guy who hired Romney to turn around the scandal-plagued Winter Olympics in 2002.
According to Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Romney adviser, Leavitt is “the ideal candidate” for the transition job because of:
his three terms as Utah governor as well as serving as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and secretary of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush.
“Mike Leavitt checks every box. It’s a combination of experience and personal relationship,” Chaffetz said. “He can help outline the parameters of what a transition would look like.”
Leavitt has been on board with the Romney campaign throughout the primaries; he has his own office at the Boston headquarters. He and Romney are close, says Politico, and they’re “a lot alike.”
One Romneyland figure said Leavitt’s influence is derived from the fact that he is a spoke in many of the concentric circles around the candidate. Leavitt is part of Romney’s orbit of Mormon associates, but he also sits in the realm of the policy gurus, political counselors, fellow governors and veterans of the Salt Lake Olympics.
So with little fanfare, he has become one of the most influential advisers to the candidate this election cycle. He has an office at the Boston headquarters, travels with Romney at times, has been summoned to rally donors and is tight enough with the high command that he scored an invite to campaign manager Matt Rhoades’s engagement party last month.
He’s also a surrogate and has headlined health care policy discussions at $10,000 per-person Beltway fundraisers for Romney.
Romney officials say Leavitt is often circumspect but has an E.F. Hutton-like effect when he does speak up; many in Boston believe he offers much of his advice directly to Romney — something Leavitt suggests is accurate.
Although it happened following Leavitt’s tenure, Utah was the second state after Massachusetts to institute universal health care. And Leavitt is the health care business–and he’s made millions in profits from Obamacare. At Salon, Alex Seitz-Wald writes:
Leavitt, who served as Health and Human Services secretary under George W. Bush, leads a firm that has positioned itself as a leading consultancy to help implement the Affordable Care Act (PDF), and it’s already won contracts to do so.
Just two weeks ago, the company was awarded a $1 million contract with the state of New Mexico to help it build its exchanges, and Politico reported that the “size of his firm, Leavitt Partners, doubled in the year after the bill was signed as they won contracts to help states set up the exchanges funded by the legislation.”
On its web site, Leavitt Partners features prominently its “Health Insurance Exchange Intelligence Team,” an entire section of the business that advises clients on how to implement and respond to the health insurance exchanges created by Obamacare.
“The passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) altered many of the fundamentals of healthcare coverage and financing,” the company’s website states. “Our team has a deep background and understanding of exchanges, from the policy side to the technical requirements and infrastructure necessary to operate an exchange. Our team members have unique experience in building exchanges and analyzing health insurance markets.”
Today, the right wingers have suddenly awakened from the collective trance that followed their reluctant recognition that Romney’s their guy now. And they are not happy about the Leavitt appointment. From TPM:
The Wall Street Journal reported last year that Leavitt “strenuously backed the core piece of President Barack Obama’s health-care law and urged the states to move forward together in adopting health insurance exchanges.” And his stance hasn’t changed: “We believe that the exchanges are the solution to small business insurance market and that’s gotten us sideways with some conservatives,” Leavitt’s top aide Rich McKeown told Politico.
“We’re troubled by it,” Dean Clancy, who runs health care advocacy for the Dick Armey-led conservative group FreedomWorks, told TPM Monday via email. “We’re very concerned. The tea party grassroots have always feared that Gov. Romney would be a weak standard bearer because of RomneyCare. This choice only reinforces those doubts. Tapping a high-profile ObamaCare profiteer is disturbing, there’s no way around it. … The tea party has been fighting exchanges in state after state.”
Michael Cannon, who directs health policy for the libertarian Cato Institute, reacted to the Leavitt choice in a blog post he penned: “Romney’s appointment of Leavitt is a first step toward flip-flopping — or Etch-a-Sketching, or Romneying(TM), or whatever — on ObamaCare repeal.”
The right wing blogs are in a tizzy too. Time to break out the popcorn!