Veterans get screwed again

I am so very tired of politicians playing zero-sum games where they must make the other side lose, so they can get a political win. What uniformly happens is we the people get screwed. Just recently a bipartisan bill to help veterans with health care that passed in Senate by a large margin was slightly amended by the House and returned to the Senate for an expected passing.

Yet, enough Republicans decided to switch their vote and the veterans got screwed. Comedian Jon Stewart, who had led this cause along with a successful, but arduous 9/11 restitution cause a few years ago, has led a reaction that calls the Republican Senate members out for their bait and switch tactics.

Per the New York Times article this weekend, called “Jon Stewart blasts GOP after Senate blocks burn pit bill for Veterans” by Callie Patteson:

“Comedian Jon Stewart doubled down Friday on a viral rant ripping Republican senators who voted against advancing a bill that would boost benefits for veterans who were exposed to toxins from burn pits during their service in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Forty-one Republican senators voted against cloture Wednesday on the Honoring our PACT Act, accusing Democrats of using the measure to hide a ‘budget gimmick’ that would permit $400 billion in spending unrelated to veterans’ health care. 

During an interview with Fox News Friday, the former ‘Daily Show’ host insisted the bill was no different from the version that passed the Senate 84-14 in June.

‘This bill is purely based on toxic exposure health care and benefits to veterans,’ said Stewart, who urged viewers to look up the text for themselves.”

Maybe the GOP is scared that other things are getting passed which make Democrats look good. I just don’t know. I do know this is not the first time veterans have gotten screwed by politicians. The VA Healthcare system was in dire straits a few years ago with a huge need for more doctors, specialists, etc. Senator John McCain led a bipartisan effort to meet a planned request for a $64 billion bill to hire more doctors and get more resources. It was defeated and created an outrage from Veterans’ groups.

Then a debacle of backlog on appointments occurred in Phoenix a few months later and members of Congress asked how could you let this happen? A few more months later, $16 billion in funding was passed. Note this is 1/4 of the total requested and six months after being requested. The veterans again got screwed.

And, it should be noted only recently was funding provided for compensation for poisoning Marines and their families with toxic water systems at Camp Lejeune in NC. It took decades to admit there was a problem and more time to get the restitution. Decades is not an exaggeration.

I get tired of people who like to tout how hawkish they are but won’t help veterans when they get home. Politicians are OK funding battles but not the aftermath. They will say thank you for your service, but you are on your own when you get back. I fully recognize that Democrats are not perfect, but the GOP makes a great deal about being pro-military. To be honest, with respect to its troops, I do not see it. Neither should the veterans.

https://nypost.com/2022/07/29/jon-stewart-blasts-gop-after-senate-blocks-veteran-burn-pit-bill/

A coverup of treason?

‘”Coverup of treason’: Trump-appointed IG, facing investigation, was aware of missing Secret Service and DHS texts far earlier” by David Badash of Alternet is a blaring headline I saw across my browser feed. A few paragraphs tell the story, with a link to the full article below.

“The Dept. of Homeland Security scandal is growing larger, with its embattled Inspector General increasingly appearing to be at the center of what one noted political scientist is calling a ‘coverup of treason.’

DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari, appointed by then-President Donald Trump in 2019, was aware of Secret Service agents’ deleted text messages from January 5 and 6, 2021, and deleted texts from top Homeland Security officials, months earlier than first disclosed, according to reports from CNN and The Washington Post.

‘Earlier this month, Secret Service officials told congressional committees that DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari, the department’s independent watchdog, was aware that texts had been erased in December 2021,’ CNN reports. ‘But sources tell CNN, the Secret Service had notified Cuffari’s office of missing text messages in May 2021, seven months earlier.’

That means that four months after the January 6 insurrection the Dept. of Homeland Security knew Secret Service agents’ text messages, from the day before and day of the attack on the U.S. Capitol, were missing and did not inform Congress or the National Archives, which is required by law to retain those records.”

There are several observations to be made here. First, what forced President Richard Nixon to resign and sent forty-eight (per Wikipedia) others to jail as much as the Watergate crimes committed was the coverup. Second, members of the Secret Service have been acting very inconsistently since the testimony by Cassidy Hutchinson on the former president Donald Trump trying to grab the steering wheel in anger when told he could not go to the Capitol building as it was not safe. Third, what several fellow bloggers and I have discussed from well before the insurrection and bogus election fraud claims, is what happens beneath the surface of Donald Trump’s world is likely far worse than actually known.

The last statement is indeed opinion, but it has been his history to market and merchandise himself, so a great deal of his energy and effort is to protect his brand name when he screws up. Of course, he his loathe to admit he makes mistakes, per his five biographers. This is why he has a fixer, one of whom testified under oath that “Donald Trump is a racist, he is a con-artist and he is cheat.”

And, quite often, others are taken down as his foils and suffer the consequences. His nickname is “Teflon Don” for a reason. Blame others to escape culpability. Right now, his last Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows is in the cross hairs, but maybe he will throw Joseph Cuffari under the bus as well.

Finally, what frightens current and departing sycophants of Donald Trump is what lies beneath the surface. They have no idea what they will have to defend tomorrow or the next week or the next month. And, what is more frightening are these sins and crimes have already been committed, so it is a matter of discovery not committal.

Is it Agnes or Maggies? – a reprise

Given time constraints, the following is a repeat of an earlier post.

My wife says “Goodness gracious Maggies!” I was brought up hearing “Goodness gracious Agnes!” She was raised in South Carolina while I grew up in Florida. We don’t know where Agnes and Maggie were raised.

Geography seems to play a role in variations in similar sayings. In the South, I often heard “Bless his (or her) heart” to reference someone prone to inanity. Our friends from Pennsylvania say “God love him (or her)” meaning the same thing. A minister once said, if you add “Bless his heart,” one can say some less than flattering things before that point.

The more religiously influenced have a variety of sayings. I think the Catholic influence might lead a surprised person to say “Holy Mary mother of God!” which is quite the mouhful. Often, it is shortened to “Holy Mary!” leaving the longer version for more awe-inspiring events.

“Jesus Christ! or the shortened “Jesus!” is uttered when a religious mother is out of earshot. Otherwise, the child might get a look or rebuke. Often, it is shortened to “Jeez,” “Jeepers,” or “Gee whiz,” depending on the generation or religious zeal of the mother. Of course, the more formal rendering is “Jesus H. Christ,” but I have no idea where the “H” comes from.

We can thank Walt Disney for popularizing another replacement with his character “Jiminy Cricket.” Making his name plural makes another saying of surprise. A variation is “Jiminy Christmas” for more exasperating events.

“Dammit,” has long been a shortened version of GD which would have gotten a strong rebuke in my house. The rebuke for Dammit would be less severe. Either phrase reveals disappointment in some failure. I am reminded of Strother Martin’s character in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” The tobacco chewing character would say “Dammit” when his tobacco spittle got on his chin, yelling “bingo” when it did not.

It saddens me to think of the humor of Bill Cosby given his off-stage criminal acts of sexual assault. But, one of his funnier routines was of his father trying to edit his language around his kids. When mad, Cosby said his father could not complete a sentence due to self-censure. He also had routine where his father referred to Cosby as “Dammit” and his brother as “Jesus Christ” when mad. “Dammit” get in here. “Jesus Christ” why did you do that? When he mixed up the two, his brother would say “But Dad, I’m Jesus Christ.”

I have shared before the saying of my wonderful colleague whose father was a minister. When very frustrated, she would say, “Bad word, bad word!” Her saying would lighten the moment if others heard her saying it given her temperament.

What are some of your family, friends and region’s sayings? Are they unique to your area or more widespread?

Climate change bill may advance after all

Yesterday, The New York Times reported in an article called “Manchin, in Reversal, Agrees to Quick Action on Climate and Tax Plan,” that a Senate bill to help climate change may advance and be sent back to the House for a vote. Below is a link to the article following a few paragraphs.

“Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, a key centrist Democrat, announced on Wednesday that he had agreed to include hundreds of billions of dollars for climate and energy programs and tax increases in a package to subsidize health care and lower the cost of prescription drugs, less than two weeks after abruptly upending hopes for such an agreement this summer.

The package would set aside $369 billion for climate and energy proposals, the most ambitious climate action ever taken by Congress, and raise an estimated $451 billion in new tax revenue over a decade, while cutting federal spending on prescription drugs by $288 billion, according to a summary circulated Wednesday evening.

The product of a deal announced by Mr. Manchin and Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, it would reduce the federal deficit by about $300 billion, while seeking to push down the cost of health care, prescription medicines and electricity.”

Since we are in dire need to move forward the US federal government’s response to climate change matching efforts of cities, states and more than several companies, this is good news if it can get passed in both chambers. With places like Texas leading the way on wind-energy and California on solar energy, and offshore wind energy about to launch so we can match places like Scotland, we are poised to do even more. As an independent voter who has been a member of both parties, this is a positive sign.

Texas Republicans want to deny STD and HIV screenings under ACA

In an article in Politico by Alice Miranda Ollstein called Obamacare back in court as Texans challenge coverage for STDs and HIV care,” yet one more try to gut certain preceived, unsavory provisions will be headed toward the Supreme Court. A few paragraphs are below, with a link to the article at the end:

“This challenge, filed in March of 2020 by a group of Texas residents and employers and backed by former Trump officials, argues that the ACA’s preventive care mandates violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and that forcing people to pay for plans that cover STD screenings and HIV prevention drugs will ‘facilitate and encourage homosexual behavior, prostitution, sexual promiscuity, and intravenous drug use….’

‘Ending the requirement that preventive services be free to patients will have negative health and financial consequences for millions,’ warned Katherine Hempstead, senior policy adviser at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The Biden administration is arguing that the case should be thrown out because the Texans do not have legal standing because they aren’t being harmed by their insurance covering preventive services — a line of argument that has been successful in past defenses of the Affordable Care Act.

They also argue that there’s a clear government interest in preventing the spread of HIV and STDs for the health of the population at large which justifies the policy.”

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act has been used like a hammer since it came about to legislate some version of morality that suits a strident set of religious folks. Since many teens are going to have sex whether their minister or parents tell them not to and often it will be unprotected sex, having preventive coverage against STDs and HIV is important. And, with prostitution being the oldest profession and drug use more rampant now that drug companies have hooked people on pain-killers which are more expensive than heroin, exposure exists even to the teen and adult children of the most pious of us.

I have used this example before, but a pretty devout friend noted church parents would be astounded at the level of unleashed promiscuity that goes on even at the most ardent of religious colleges. College students are going to have sex. And, my guess is they will like it and want more. Further, I do not think whether their plan covers STD or HIV prevention will be too much of a factor in that decision. If Rx is a factor, it will likely be around a Plan B pill or daily birth control.

If certain ministers and priests are so concerned with sexual promiscuity, then they may want to govern some of their fellow ministers and priests about their sexual misconduct. While I fully recognize that the significant majority of religious leaders do not do these things, predatory sexual behavior is not good form for a religious leader.

Let’s protect people with health care preventive options. Health care is a private matter and is no business of a minister or even the parents, once the child is legally an adult.

https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/obamacare-back-court-texans-challenge-110000749.html

Tuesday Truisms

Rather than focus on a song title like “Ruby Tuesday,” “Tuesday Afternoon” or “Tuesday’s gone with the wind,” I thought I would stick to a short and sweet title – Tuesday Truisms. In no particular order are few truths to digest this Tuesday.

People wonder why drug prices in America are so much larger than in other countries. A key reason is quite simple. Other countries do not allow the pricing of Research and Development (R&D) in the cost of the drug. So, Americans pay for a huge share of the R&D costs. This is a key reason why the industry fights against the US government negotiating prices for Medicare.

When the recent testimony and findings of the House Select Committee are reviewed, just set aside the culpability on the planning and execution of the insurrection for a minute. There are two truisms that are clearly evident that need to be loudly stated. First, the insurrection does not happen if Donald Trump is not president. Full stop. This statement needs no further explanation and truly speaks on its own. Second, Donald Trump did not lift a finger after being pleaded with for 187 minutes to help elected officials and stop the attack on the Capitol. Security details were talking with the Vice President not the person who could have cooled the jets of the seditionists. Full stop. Then you can factor in his role in the planning and execution which does not look good either.

Oh, Boris. We will miss you when you are gone. A sure sign that Boris was not up for the task of British Prime Minister was evident when the Brexit marketing team to get people to vote for such did not want Boris or Nigel involved in the planning. That spoke volumes to me. So, knowing Brexit was not going to go well from the outset, then pairing it up with Boris to lead the way, it was not a recipe of success. The British people deserve better. They deserve the truth and truth tellers.

Speaking of the truth and truth tellers, please ask yourself why people who know they are going to be vilified for saying something, say it anyway. Names like Cassidy Hutchinson, Fiona Hill, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger should be remembered well for their courage and upholding the constitution. Yet, if you mention their names in MAGA circles, you will get a different response. Some would rather believe the likes of not very credible sources like Greene, Gosar, Jordan, Trump, Giuliani, Bannon, Stone, McCarthy, Hannity, Carlson, Ingraham, et al. By the way one person who was on this list, Mr. Cawthorn, who did not win reelection, is in more legal troubles being accused of using campaign funds for personal benefit.

As for what is happening in Ukraine, the story is hard to follow given the eagerness for both sides to claim success. I start from a position of not believing much of what Vladimir Putin says given his bent and training to misinform and disinform. There is a reason Trump admires him so. Yet, that does not mean Russia is not inflicting damage. So, Ukraine continues to make this fight linger on and in several areas have withstood the Russian offensive. To me, you need to look past the bluster of Putin. He cannot afford to make this fight go on too much longer and he certainly cannot afford to attack a lot of other countriies. That would be economically and militarily suicidal in my view. Yet, what he has accomplished is galvanize other countries against him and make him even more of a pariah.

That is all I have for now. Have a great week.

Fox News political analyst Bret Baier adds to Trump criticism

An article in Business Insider by Mia Jankowicz called “Fox News anchor Bret Baier slams Trump, saying January 6 hearings made him look ‘horrific'” adds to the editorials criticizing the former president from conservative publications such as The Wall Street Journal and New York Post, also owned by Rupert Murdoch.

Here are a few paragraphs, with a link to the article below.

“Baier said that the hearings highlighting criticism by former Trump supporters and members of his administration — such as former Deputy National Security Adviser Matthew Pottinger and former Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Matthews — was especially persuasive.

‘All of these people who have been testifying at one point or another wanted Trump to win,’ Baier said. ‘They served under his leadership. They wanted him to be a success.’

Whether it changes the view of Republican voters is another matter, Baier said.

‘The charges are that it’s just not balanced,’ he said, in reference to the ongoing criticism that the hearings are one-sided. (A congressional committee hearing is supposed to publicize already-established findings, and Republican leaders boycotted involvement in the committee.)*

Baier also called for more information on exactly what Trump said about mobilizing the National Guard in advance of the riot. If Trump had taken such action, Baier said, ‘it kind squelches or downplays the thought that he wanted this insurrection.'”

Unlike the opinion entertainment hosts, such as Hannity, Ingraham, Carlson, et al, that still echo support of the former president, Baier is part of Fox News’ news organization. It should be noted that even Fox News management threw Carlson under the bus in a defamation trial noting what he says should not be considered as news.

People have asked if these criticisms are making a difference? From what I read they are, but those questioning are correct that it is likely not reaching the hardcore MAGA fans. One thing Trump is good at is marketing and people close to him have noted he realizes he is screwed. He should be as the only person who is largely responsible for all of this is the guy looking back at the former president when he shaves.

*Note: Republicans who offer this criticism should note that at least two of the representatives offered up by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy were people of interest in the investigation. They were denied by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, rightfully so. McCarthy then pulled the rest of the nominees. Yet, Pelosi did appoint two Republicans Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger who have performed well on the committee.

Conservative Wall Street Journal headline: “The President Who Stood Still on Jan. 6”

In a RawStory piece on a recent The Wall Street Journal editorial, “Donald Trump has lost the confidence of both of the major newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.” The RawStory piece is called “‘Incitement by silence’: Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers blister Trump after J6 hearings” and can be linked to below.

Under the headline, “The President Who Stood Still on Jan. 6,” The Wall Street Journal editorial board harshly criticized the former president.

‘No matter your views of the Jan. 6 special committee, the facts it is laying out in hearings are sobering. The most horrifying to date came Thursday in a hearing on President Trump’s conduct as the riot raged and he sat watching TV, posting inflammatory tweets and refusing to send help,’ the editorial board wrote.

‘The committee’s critics are right that it lacks political balance,’ the newspaper wrote. ‘Still, the brute facts remain: Mr. Trump took an oath to defend the Constitution, and he had a duty as Commander in Chief to protect the Capitol from a mob attacking it in his name. He refused. He didn’t call the military to send help. He didn’t call Mr. Pence to check on the safety of his loyal VP. Instead he fed the mob’s anger and let the riot play out.’

The editorial concluded, ‘Character is revealed in a crisis, and Mr. Pence passed his Jan. 6 trial. Mr. Trump utterly failed his.'”

There is really not much more to say except this is the paragon of conservative leaning publications in America and many of the folks who have testified under oath are, in fact, Republicans. Now, why would these folks do that, especially knowing they would be vilified by the former president and his sycophants?

Christianity without Jesus is an empty suit

John Pavlovitz is a minister who writes a blog that speaks to the key tenets of treating people like you want to be treated. He is not too keen on performance religion which is too closely aligned with politics. A recent blog called “Actual Followers of Jesus Don’t Want Conservatives’ Compulsory Christianity” is a good example of his work.

“There’s nothing more dangerous than professed Christians who have no real interest in Jesus. They’re rather easy to spot if you’re paying attention.

They’re usually the ones most loudly claiming things like religious liberty while methodically swallowing up the personal freedoms and elemental rights of other people.

They incessantly broadcast their devotion of God on their bumpers and bellies, while living antithetically to the compassionate heart of Jesus actually found in the Scriptures.

Their spirituality is largely performative: a showy firework display of culture war talking points and religious buzzwords that distracts from the truth that their lives are yielding almost nothing truly loving to anyone but people who agree with them on everything.

This blog caught my eye as the key tenets of Christianity surround that Jesus fellow. Absent that, Christianity is just an empty suit. Gandhi once said, he admired Jesus, it was just Christians he was not too keen on. I understand his point as too many ministers in our history had a fear-based ministry, rather than a love-based ministry.

Teaching people to fear the other is not inclusive. Religious scholars have noted Jesus probably spoke four languages. He needed one language for trade as a carpenter, as well as others to communicate as a Rabbi and to his followers. Where he preached and worked had numerous types of people. So, he spoke inclusively. It is a message we should emulate.

There is an old line that speaks the truth to me. If you want to create an atheist, have them read the old testament. In Pew surveys on religion, atheists did better on biblical quizzes than Christians did. If you want to reach more people with a message of love, start with the new testament. That is the part where Jesus’ words are found in red. Those are where the messages of love exist. I might throw in a few Psalms as well from the old side.

Treat others like you want to be treated. This rule of Jesus’ is so important it called “golden.” It is also found in other religious texts in one shape or another. Also, he threw in a few messages about taking care of your neighbor and the downtrodden. Nice words and actions he spoke and he followed. Those are among the words in red.

If you are not a Christian, the last paragraph can still offer governance of a good life. Maybe that is the beauty of what Jesus said. Something that can touch others. Inclusivity.

Check out the rest of this and other posts on johnpavlovitz.com.

Same-sex marriage protection passes a hurdle

In an article called “47 House Republicans vote to write same-sex marriage into law” by Anthony Adragna of Politico, the good news reverberated in the hall of the Congress. It still must pass muster with 60 Senate votes, but it is encouraging. Please contact your Senators and ask them to vote in favor of this bill.

The full article can be linked to below. Here are the opening few paragraphs:

“Democrats loudly cheered from their side of the chamber as the bill passed 267-157, with 47 Republicans backing it, including members of GOP leadership such as Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) and National Republican Campaign Committee Chair Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.). Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) voted no.

‘This bill makes crystal clear that every couple and their children has the fundamental freedom to take pride in their marriage and have their marriage respected under the law,’ Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in floor remarks.

A 2015 Supreme Court decision required states to recognize same-sex marriages, but Democrats urged a codification of the policy in the wake of the court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade last month. In a concurring decision, Justice Clarence Thomas voiced support for reconsidering the court’s earlier same-sex marriage ruling.

The short bill, which faces an uncertain path in the 50-50 Senate, would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act passed in 1996 that defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman. It would also require states to recognize same-sex marriages, as long as it was valid in the state in which it occurred.”

Note, when the two more prolific attorneys who have pled cases before SCOTUS argued for same-sex marriage when California’s Prop 8 case was in question, they noted that other folks had no standing on the issue. Plus, they argued that these are folks want to be in a recognized relationship and want to start families. I agree.

Again, please reach out to your Senators and let them know where you stand on this.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/47-house-republicans-vote-to-write-same-sex-marriage-into-law/ar-AAZLcDb