‘Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits’

Remember these halcyon days?

Mr. Trump is now the leading candidate for president in the Republican primary, which has traditionally been dominated by hopefuls eager to show how deeply conservative they are on social issues like gay rights and marriage.

But Mr. Trump is far more accepting of sexual minorities than his party’s leaders have been. On Thursday, he startled some Republicans by saying on NBC’s “Today” show that he opposed a recently passed North Carolina law that prohibits people from using public bathrooms that do not correspond to the gender they were born with, striking down a Charlotte ordinance.

Two and a half years later, the same newspaper publishes the following revelations:

Now the Department of Health and Human Services is spearheading an effort to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance, according to a memo obtained by The New York Times….

…“Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth,” the department proposed in the memo, which was drafted and has been circulating since last spring. “The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.”

The new definition would essentially eradicate federal recognition of the estimated 1.4 million Americans who have opted to recognize themselves — surgically or otherwise — as a gender other than the one they were born into.

There is no reason for this other than spite: the Trump administration will leave no stone unturned in its efforts to wipe the memory of Barack Hussein Obama. Yet even if Obama had ignored the transgender population the political appointees in the Trump Justice Department and Department of Education would’ve done the same. A President Rubio or President Jeb! too.

Wipe them out.

Cuban-Americans: lived long, learned nothing

The Miami Herald made too much of this protest, but, still, don’t ever accuse Cuban-Americans of living in the past:

Some of the demonstrators also condemned Democrats because they said they ignore how Cubans on the island and other oppressed people suffer — some lacking basic needs like toilet paper. It’s a charge members of the party, especially those in Miami, strongly deny.

No matter. The protesters denounced Democrats as “commies” and waved signs supporting Republican candidate Ron DeSantis, who is running for governor, and running mate Jeanette Núñez. But Miami-Dade County Republican Party Chairman Nelson Diaz said protesters weren’t officially affiliated with any group, and that, as far as he knew, nobody had paid them to be there.

Diaz said the group came together because they’re all against dictators in countries such as Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba. Protesters acted angrily, he said, because they’re offended that Shalala and Mucarsel-Powell invited Lee to Miami. Opponent Maria Elvira Salazar was quoted in the Miami Herald Wednesday explaining that she’d like President Donald Trump to meet with Raúl Castro, but the protestors had no vitriol for the Republican candidate.

“There is nothing worse in this country than Barbara Lee,” Diaz said.

Barbara Lee is worse than Ron DeSantis, who addresses racists; Rick Scott, CEO of a company responsible for the largest Medicare fraud in American history ; and, of course, Donald Trump, who adores the strongmen whom they deplore. Cuban-Americans of my grandmother’s generation, this confirms, would replace one dictator with another. They consider themselves white because the United States has encouraged them to think so. They have lived long and learned nothing.

As for the protest, remember the Brooks Brothers riot of 2000?

What is a neoconf?

After reading W.E.B. Du Bois, Eric Foner, and Lawrence Goldstone, I’ve distilled decades of scholarship about the ways in which the Democratic Party looked the other way when the South defied the federal government and encouraged racist violence while maintaining a kind of apartheid. Starting in 1968, the two political parties switched its worst members. In January 1981 the acceleration took place and onward through Newt Gingrich, the equal protection claims of the Rehnquist majority on the Supreme Court, George W. Bush and his cabal, and Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Mitch McConnell, and Paul Ryan.

A neo-Confederate believes in:

1. Minority rule.
2. “States rights”
3. A return to constitutional norms before 1860, i.e. before the passage of the Civil War and Reconstruction amendments.
4. The inferiority of certain classes of people.
5. The imposition of federal taxes as an infringement on liberty.

I should point out that “states rights” is the portmanteau for every canon I’ve mentioned.

“Neoconf” looks ungainly, but so did “neocon” in 2003.

A political party dedicated to hating women

Last week’s truce has ended. Now the GOP can return to hating women and hating women who have sex. First, the GOP members of the Senate Judiciary Committee attack the lowest hanging fruit: Julie Swetnick.

The statement, which was circulated to the hundreds of journalists on the Judiciary Committee’s press list, was from Dennis Ketterer, a former Democratic congressional candidate and television meteorologist who said he was involved in a brief relationship with Kavanaugh accuser Julie Swetnick in 1993.

Swetnick said last week in an affidavit that Kavanaugh was present at a house party in 1982 where she alleges she was the victim of a gang rape, a claim he vehemently denies.

In his statement, Ketterer said Swetnick once told him that she sometimes enjoyed group sex with multiple men and had first engaged in it during high school. Ketterer said the remark “derailed” their relationship, which he described as involving “physical contact” but no intercourse.

Ketterer said Swetnick “never said anything about being sexually assaulted, raped, gang-raped or having sex against her will” and “never mentioned Brett Kavanaugh in any capacity.” He described their relationship as lasting for a “couple of weeks.”

It was highly unusual for a congressional committee to release a statement that included such explicit and unconfirmed details about a member of the public. The Republican side of the panel, which said the statement was provided by Ketterer “under penalty of felony,” emailed excerpts to journalists and posted the full statement on its website.

Right on schedule, the president unbuckled his belt, kicked off his shoes, and relaxed like he hadn’t in two weeks.

Before the crowd Tuesday night in Southaven, Mississippi, Trump imitated Ford during her testimony, mocking her for not knowing the answers to questions such as how she had gotten to the high school party where she says Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her.

“I had one beer. Well, do you think it was — nope, it was one beer,” Trump said, mimicking Ford’s testimony last week to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“How did you get home? I don’t remember. How’d you get there? I don’t remember. Where is the place? I don’t remember. How many years ago was it? I don’t know.”

Trump’s comments were met with laughter and applause from the crowd.

We have moved to a point in our history when the electorate laughs at the president imitating an assault victim, supports a nominee to the Supreme Court even if he did assault a woman, and has no interest in how tariffs and coal policy affect their health and livelihood. They elected a president who incarnates their rage at the fags, blacks, and Mexicans. And women. Trump, let me stress, has female support, and they’ve demonstrated a remarkable lack of empathy for their sisters, mothers, daughters, and nieces.

Good luck, North Carolina

If you don’t like the effect, George Clinton said, don’t produce the cause:

In a bid to aggressively prosecute illegal voting, the Justice Department has sent sweeping subpoenas to 44 counties in North Carolina requesting all of their recent voting records. State election officials say the move will overwhelm their resources and prevent them from preparing for early and absentee voting for the November midterms. And civil rights advocates worry that eligible voters will be intimidated and deterred from voting as the administration amplifies its prosecutions of immigrants it says voted illegally….

…Civil rights groups say the fraud charges and new subpoenas could intimidate eligible voters, particularly immigrants, into staying home in November. They compared the request for the voting records to a June 2017 request by Trump’s now-defunct election integrity commission for sensitive voter data from all 50 states. “They couldn’t get it done that way so now they’re doing it this way,” said Allison Riggs, vice president of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, a voting rights group based in Durham. “It’s a massive fishing expedition. The scope of it is stunning.”

Coming after a federal court’s decision that there is “insufficient time” before the November midterms to redraw the state’s gerrymandered map, common sense would conclude that the Trump administration and its Justice Department will use its full powers to demolish voter turnout.

Good luck, North Carolina.

“Have no fear: we’ve done a golpe de estado”

How reassuring to learn that a member of the president’s Cabinet thought so poorly of our constitutional norms that, we learn in an New York Times op-ed, he and his fellow courtiers now run an extra-constitutional junta from the West Wing. Realizing how impossible impeachment proceedings look in September 2018 — September 2020 too even if the Dems regain both houses of Congress — this popinjay goes forward anyway with an endorsement of more Gilded Age/Baal worship that might happen if Mike Pence sat in the Oval Office: an endorsement that NYT editors themselves tacitly endorse.

Hard times.

What happened in Florida?!

Watching MSBC’s Steve Kornacki fly out of his sneakers yesterday as he read the results from Florida counted as one of the few moments of unalloyed pleasure since we Americans elected a white supremacist as president. I voted for Andrew Gillum two Saturdays ago expecting Gwen Graham or Jeff Greene to deliver a victory speech. But the Tallahassee mayor, whom I first noticed last September when he slammed Governor Rick Scott’s handling of Hurricane Irma’s aftermath, barnstormed the state from end to end. In his response to the red tide disaster that has strangled the west coast, he shamed Bill Nelson; he understood that livelihoods depended on how the state responds to natural disasters in large part caused by overdevelopment and Big Sugar in a peninsula with meager supplies of fresh water.

But here we are, and my Democratic friends have begun to rend their garments. Traumatized by over two decades of GOP rule in the governorship and legislature, they thought the less progressive-leaning candidates stood a better chance against Trump bot Ron DeSantis, a mendacious hustler who clothes his children in the leader’s raiment. What’s stunning about Gillum is he grabbed votes everywhere: Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach County, sure, but also rural Panhandle counties and Jacksonville. Turnout was stunning (look at Lee County, for crissakes). He excited people. He looked and sounded like no other candidate.

Meanwhile Graham, Levine, and Green — jeez, even their names in sequence read like a boring corporate law firm based in St. Petersburg — sounded like every amiable cautious Florida politician whom the Florida Democratic Party in its sagacity has pushed for the nomination since the civil rights era, a candidate that could unite disaffected swing voters and, of course, the mythical GOP voter “on the fence.” My well-meaning friends no doubt treasure how Buddy McKay, Bill McBride, Alex Sink, and Charlie Crist won term after term in the governor’s race after the era of Lawton Chiles, our last eight-year Democratic governor, keeping the state solidly blue. Demanding less wishy-washy candidates but cowering at the thought of how a white voter in Apalachicola might punch her ballot has quashed any flowering of liberalism in Florida.

Know this, my friends: if Graham had won the primary, the GOP would have turned her into Helen Gahagan Douglas; if Levine or Greene had won, the GOP would have turned him into George McGovern. We’ve tried that kind of candidate before and lost. How much worse can Andrew Gillum perform when exactly the right demographic groups in Florida’s most populous counties coalesced around him?

Now, of course, the candidate who had not a chance a week ago has the Chuck Todds of the American press to deal with for the next seventy days. An FBI investigation into Gillum’s community redevelopment agency has revealed influence peddling, none of which is linked to the mayor but he should expect attacks based on the dust cloud and they’ll come fast. That he offered few specifics during the primary I won’t hold against him. You need glittering generalities that excite people. I’m pretty sure the mayor of Florida’s capital and one of its largest cities realizes that ICE is a federal agency, and I’ve no doubt he knows the difference between Medicare and Medicaid; even I bollix the differences in conversation when thinking on my feet. But he’s got more attention now. Voters will notice the elisions, which will do my shellshocked Democratic friends no favors.

Still, I’ll concede that every one has said he or she would vote for Gillum — the alternative is deadly. They understand the stakes. It’s even possible that excitement for Gillum helps the hapless Nelson. But Donald Trump and DeSantis supporters had their worst scenario confirmed: after last night they’re running a white Trump supporter against a black liberal who can count on millions of minority voters.

It’s about time

After yet another Donald Trump supporter gets caught for being the grifter and charlatan he is, Elizabeth Warren’s latest policy proposal makes as much sense as the Pure Food and Drug Act:

In pursuit of ending “both the appearance and the potential for financial conflicts of interest,” Warren’s bill would prohibit federal lawmakers, judges, Cabinet secretaries and other senior congressional staff from owning individual stocks while in office. It would also bar all government officials from holding stocks the value of which might be influenced by their work in office.

“Enough of the spectacle of HHS secretaries and herds of congressmen caught up in insider trading schemes,” Warren said in the speech.

As an apparent alternative to individual stock ownership, the bill would create “conflict-free investment opportunities for federal officials with new investment accounts,” according to a synopsis of the bill obtained by CNBC.

“They can put their savings in conflict-free investments like mutual funds or they can pick a different line of work,” Warren said.

These accounts would be managed by the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, an independent agency established during the Reagan administration that boasts fewer than 300 employees.

She calls it the Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act. Another provision: forcing candidates to release years of tax returns and thereafter should they win. Warren has a higher probability of passing on malaria than this bill passing Congress before November, but that’s the point: if Dems want, they can run on commonsense ways of dealing with systemic corruption, like they did in 2006 against K Street and Tom DeLay.

The sowing of discord

As often as I’ve refrained from commenting on the investigation into the connections between Donald Trump and Russian efforts to inject discord into an already fractious and creaking electoral system, it’s worth pausing to see where we are in August 2018, months from the most consequential midterm elections of my lifetime. The president is running a dare that no one will give a shit, Charles Pierce writes

He has admitted lying to the country on a profound issue of national security. He is doing next to nothing to prevent a similar attack this fall, and in 2020. He is clearly in league with—or, more likely, in hock to—an authoritarian goon presiding over an economic basket case complete with its own huge and threadbare nuclear arsenal. He is daring the institutions of democracy to do something about him. He is daring the system to work the way it’s supposed to work. Waiting until after the midterms is not the way the system is supposed to work. Waiting for the special counsel to do the job for you is not the way the system is supposed to work. God knows, the supine behavior of the Republican congressional majorities is not the way the system is supposed to work.

And this is a victory in the long war waged by the GOP on state and federal institutions. Sow enough discord such that it registers as doubt for Americans still clinging to Donald J. Trump as The Great White Chief. Paralyze the system. Robert Mueller will not save us. Only a Democratic Senate and House will halt the decay.

‘Insurers are figuring out how to make money’

Green shoots spotted in the once fallow Obamacare field:

There are promising signs across the country that Obamacare rate hikes for the 2019 enrollment season won’t approach the eye-popping increases of the past two years, though rates won’t be finalized until the fall. Enrollment reopens Nov. 1, days before the midterm elections.

For example, one year after Tennessee’s market seemed on the verge of collapse, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee plans to decrease rates by 10 percent and Cigna wants to lower rates by 5 percent. In Minnesota, all four of the state’s insurers are looking to lower premiums. And in several other states — including the key political battlegrounds of Indiana, Nevada, Michigan and Pennsylvania — proposed rate increases are 5 percent or less.

“The market is starting to stabilize,” said Nate Clark, CEO of Minnesota’s marketplace. “Insurers are figuring out how to make money.”

Those surprisingly positive signs may also complicate Democratic talking points ahead of November’s elections, given their eagerness to attack Republicans for “sabotaging” the marketplaces and driving up premiums. It’s a reversal of roles from the past eight years, when Republicans pilloried Obamacare on their way to winning total control of the federal government.

And the president has once again taken to the Twitter machine in a distraction effort while his Justice Department wants the pre-existing clause in the Affordable Care Act declared unconstitutional.

Swingin’ low

Pundits confuse or conflate swing voters and centrists. They’re not the same. Swing voters can believe we need stronger environmental policies that protect us from sea level rise, endorse robust protections for reproductive liberties, yet believe the national debt is a problem and that Hillary Clinton is a cold bitch; some of the vilest misogynists, in my experience, have been on the left. Continue reading