America’s first genderless person

3480129261_366d9afb00_zA Portland judge approved a petition from a 27-year-old man to legally change his gender to “genderless.”

In doing so, the petitioner’s name was legally changed to “Patch.”  No last name.

Patch also repudiates all pronouns.   “Even gender-neutral pronouns don’t feel as if they fit me,” Patch said. “I feel no identity or closeness with any pronouns I’ve come across. What describes me is my name.”  (Patch here does use “I,” “me,” and “my.”)

Patch is the first American to have the legal status of being “agender.”  And the judge who made the ruling is the first to make being genderless an actual legal category. [Read more…]

Trump vs. his own supporters?

House_Freedom_Caucus_logoThe plan to “repeal and replace” Obamacare that was shot down on Friday was complicated politically.  Nearly all Republicans wanted the “repeal” part, just as nearly all Democrats opposed it.  The hangup was on the “replace” part.  Conservative Republicans, by and large, opposed the proposed replacement as little more than “Obamacare lite,” retaining the huge government role in healthcare that they oppose in the current law.  So it isn’t completely fair to say that Republicans who wouldn’t vote for the replacement were refusing to repeal Obamacare.

The American Health Care Act was a creation of Speaker Paul Ryan and other “establishment” Republicans who accept a somewhat more activist role for government.

Here is the irony:  Virtually all of the “Freedom Caucus” Republican congressmen who were responsible for defeating the bill were Trump supporters during the presidential campaign!  Ryan and the other authors of the proposed health care plan not so much!

Yet President Trump allied himself with his former opponents, throwing the full force of his office behind their bill, and now vilifies the lawmakers who otherwise are on his side! [Read more…]

Trump will keep Obamacare if his healthcare bill fails–which it did

Donald_Trump_(25218642186)Republican lawmakers, seeing that they don’t have the votes, postponed voting on President Trump’s healthcare bill, which was supposed to happen on Thursday.  But the president is demanding a vote on Friday.

Not only that, Trump says that if his “repeal and replace” bill fails, he will just leave Obamacare as the law of the land.

UPDATE:  Lacking the votes to pass it, the Republican leadership pulled the bill.  Speaker Paul Ryan said that we will just have to live with Obamacare.  President Trump blamed the Democrats, all of whom voted against his American Health Care Act, saying that we will just have to watch Obamacare “explode.”

 

Photo by Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America (Donald Trump) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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Trump and team WERE under government surveillance

eyes-490608_640President Trump has claimed that the Obama administration bugged his Trump Tower offices.  That accusation has been mostly dismissed.

But now it turns out that President-elect Trump and his transition team WERE surveilled.

House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-California) said that he has seen copies of reports “unmasking” the members of Trump’s transition team and their activities.  This material was widely-circulated in the White House and in the Intelligence community.

Nunes says he believes the material was gathered legally, although information gleaned “incidentally” in the course of other investigations is supposed to be redacted.  Nunes says the information gathered did not involve Russia connections.
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How Gorsuch’s nomination hearing is going

Neil_Gorsuch_February_2017Neil Gorsuch is reportedly doing well in Senate hearings for his nomination to the Supreme Court.

In three days of marathon sessions lasting up to 10 hours,  Judge Gorsuch has been handling the hostile Democratic interrogations with aplomb.  He distanced himself from comments about him from the president, saying that he made no promises to repeal Roe v. Wade or any other rulings.  He sidestepped commentary on issues that he may have to rule on.

Republicans have 52 votes in the Senate.  Gorsuch needs 60 votes to shut off a potential filibuster.  Unless at least eight Democrats vote for the nominee, the Republican leadership is threatening “the nuclear option.”  That is, to change the Senate rules to eliminate the filibuster option.

One development that Democrats will jump on:  The Supreme Court just overturned one of Judge Gorsuch’s decisions.

There will be another day of testimony on Thursday.  The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on April 3.  The goal is for the whole Senate to vote on the confirmation before the mid-April recess.  See this for more background.  (The Senate has the “advise and consent” responsibility for confirming Supreme Court justices, cabinet members, and other high government office.  The House of Representatives is not part of the picture.)

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Trump threatens opponents of his health care bill

AHCA changesPresident Trump is pressuring conservative Congressmen who are opposed to his health care bill.  The “repeal and replace” response to Obamacare, which retains many of the elements of that program, is facing a vote on Thursday.

The president says that representatives who vote “no” may not get re-elected.  He said that he would campaign for those who vote “yes.”

This time President Trump is on the same side as Republican leaders such as Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, who are usually branded as the “establishment” by Trump supporters.  Still wanting a government role in health care, the GOP leadership is also leaning on bill opponents, implying that they might face primary opposition if they do not get on board.  But they have also added “sweeteners” to win more votes.

While conservative Republicans, especially members of the “freedom caucus,” oppose the government’s continued involvement in citizen’s health care decisions, liberal Democrats object to any changes at all to Obamacare.

The vote will be close.  Some 20-25 House Republicans either oppose the bill or are undecided.  Trump can only afford to lose 21.

UPDATE:  Conservative organizations, some of which distribute campaign money, are threatening supporters of the bill, saying that a “yes” vote will brand lawmakers to be insufficiently conservative to earn their support.  The health care bill is shaping up to be the first major policy conflict between Trump and conservatives.

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