Worst Budget Ever

Nel's New Day

While Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) left the country, his top officials delivered the proposed 2018 budget to Congress with $1.4 trillion cuts against everyone except the wealthy and large corporations. The winner is the military and increased defense for waging war throughout the world.

Budget Director Mick Mulvaney tried to defend the document in a press conference. These are his talking points:

Instead of a budget, the document is tax cuts. Mulvaney said that the title should be “A Taxpayer-First Budget” instead of “The New Foundation for American Greatness.”

The plan is based on “compassion.” The “compassion” is only for people paying taxes.

DDT-economics demands a three percent growth. (Actually, it requires a 4.5 percent growth.)

The money goes for police, military, and border walls. That’s $54 billion that needs to be taken from helping people.

Only people in uniform deserve safety nets. All people other than veterans—disabled, students…

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In Celebration Of The Strident Woman

Erin Matson

Strident women move mountains. Strident, like most words that mean abrasive, is rarely applied against men. The strident woman has an opinion. It does not matter what the strident woman’s voice actually sounds like — it might be fast, deliberate, high-pitched, bellowing, or marked by vocal fry — the problem with the strident woman’s voice is that she uses it.

Strident is one of many insults deployed against a woman who seems to have forgotten her role.

Lest you think you can win this, if you’re not strident, you’re usually thrown somewhere on a continuum between ditsy and basic bitch. And still the strident woman roams through the air, her shrill little voice scratching ears like nails on a chalkboard.

Strident is a sexist term. It, like other terms that more or less mean shrill, is applied disproportionately against women in the workplace or positions of authority. There is all kinds of data to back…

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He’s ‘assertive’ but she’s ‘bossy’: The double standard language of gender / LGBTQ Nation

When males and females both exhibit similar behaviors, the sex we are assigned at birth will often determine the societal stereotype affixed to that behavior.

Source: He’s ‘assertive’ but she’s ‘bossy’: The double standard language of gender / LGBTQ Nation

NOW Issue Advisory: Research Needed for ME/CFS

By Kathryn Gimborys, NOW Public Policy Intern, with contributions from Rivka Solomon and Emily Taylor, of Solve ME/CFS Initiative, May 10, 2017

Looking for Meaning in Terrorism

“The Interpreter”, the NY TIMES, May 24, 2017 By Max Fisher and Amanda Taub

The attack in Manchester, where a man killed 22 people at a concert, is incomprehensible.
That word — incomprehensible — has become cliché, a way of saying that an attack has caused more suffering than we can easily imagine. But it also conveys what is, to us, the truest and most important thing we have learned in a decade of reading and writing about terrorism.
Suicide terrorism, in the form we saw in Manchester, is literally incomprehensible. Its causes, motives and most of all its meaning are further from our understanding than any other form of political violence prevalent today.
The coming hours and days will be filled with details: the attacker’s identity, his home life, his beliefs, the stamps in his passport, whether friends and family saw signs he might have been “troubled” — or, just as disturbing, saw no signs at all.
But those details will never be sufficient because they will never answer the most troubling question of all: Why would someone indiscriminately murder children?
After so many attacks have been parsed and probed for meaning, we are still no closer to an answer. Every cycle of theorizing and debating over the familiar set of questions — What do the terrorists want? How does a person “radicalize”? How do we halt “radicalization”? — only confirms how little we understand.
People intuitively grasp this with school shootings. We can consider potential motivators such as bullying or insufficient mental health treatment. We can debate the merits of school security or restricted access to guns. But we agree, often in something nearing unspoken consensus, that these are largely circumstantial to whatever happened inside the shooter’s mind. That people are fragile and sometimes they break for reasons even they cannot understand.
That idea is harder to confront with terrorism. Terrorist groups hype attacks as rich with meaning, as do some politicians who see advantage in addressing people’s fears. And the attacks are often too terrible to dismiss as driven, even in part, by an individual’s breakdown, which would require accepting that terrorism is simply a risk of modern life.
As terrorism has risen globally, scholars and law-enforcement officials have spent decades trying to understand why individuals turn to suicide terrorism. But no real reason appears to exist.
There is little evidence that any established ideology or religious belief leads naturally to suicide terrorism. Rather, in case after case, groups decide they want to use suicide terrorism, then engineer an ideology to justify and encourage it.
Nor is there a clear psychological or social mechanism by which a normal person comes to embrace suicide terrorism. In 2015, when we worked at Vox, Max hired an editor,  Jennifer R. Williams, who had been a terrorism scholar at  the Brookings Institution.
Shortly after she started, terrorists killed 130 people in Paris. We agreed she should write on a question that had been posed many times but never satisfactorily answered: Why do people turn to terrorism?
“I have bad news: There is no standard model of the radicalization process,” she wrote. Someone’s risk of embracing terrorism does not seem to change when they face poverty, discrimination, racism, isolation, religious zeal or any other social factors. The choice to become a terrorist is so deeply personal that no two people make it for the same reason or under the same conditions.
In 2003, Robert A. Pape, a University of Chicago political scientist, wrote “The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism.” He argued that suicide terrorism could be understood only as a political tool for achieving strategic ends, much as an army uses tanks or fighter jets.
At the time, this theory made sense. Mr. Pape focused on groups that fought for clear goals on defined battlefields. Lebanese groups used suicide attacks to force French and American peacekeepers to withdraw in the 1980s. In Sri Lanka, Tamil groups used them to push for independence. Even Al Qaeda sought, however implausibly, to force an American withdrawal from the Middle East so the region’s governments could be toppled.
These groups first saw benefit in suicide terrorism, then used ideology or other tools to convince recruits.
But this logic hardly applies to groups like the Islamic State, whose strategy is to bring about the apocalypse as foretold in their reading of scripture. Fighting for something fantastical and unachievable is hardly strategic.
Some observers believe the Islamic State uses terrorism as something like a marketing ploy, to draw recruits or raise the group’s standing among jihadists. But this is largely a matter of inference and speculation. The group’s vast published material suggests it mostly sees killing as its own reward. Any advertising goals appear to be secondary.
It is even harder to fit Mr. Pape’s theory to lone attackers who draw inspiration from jihadist forums. They often deliberately seek targets with no strategic value, because they are unguarded.
Some argue that attackers, whether acting on their own or directed by a central group, desire attention or to shock us or to provoke a backlash. But these bring no meaningful, demonstrable gain. If the attacks are strategic, then “strategy” is so broadly defined as to be meaningless.
Over and over, reading and writing about suicide terrorism brings us back to this same place: the absence of meaning.
That, in some ways, is the most terrifying conclusion of all. All victims — and anyone who felt shocked or frightened by the attack, even from afar, is a kind of victim — crave a sense of meaning, a way to understand and explain their pain, a way to have it matter.
That craving has tormented much of the world for decades and, I suspect, animates the ritualistic search for details, as if some clue in the attacker’s passport or email cache will finally resolve the mystery of why.

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Crises Ahead – Devastating Budget Proposals, ACA Repeal Energizes Major Coalition Pushback

Bonnie Grabenhofer
Vice President
National Organization for Women

May 22, 2017

Republican Budget Plans Target Human Needs Programs  – Progressive, women’s rights, reproductive rights, health, disability, education, child welfare, legal aid, nutrition, safety net advocacy and numerous other national organizations are coming together to engage in an historic fight to prevent Republican budget plans to decimate more than 70 federal programs that help middle- and low-income families. Their slash and burn proposals would have a disproportionately harmful impact on women and children. A major lobbying and grassroots effort over the next few months is going to be required to pushback on these draconian plans that will negatively impact a majority of Americans, result in major job losses and seriously harm the economy.

Women at the Forefront of This Fight – Speakers at a recent coalition meeting observed that women have become the backbone of the progressive movement, fighting back against the many regressive initiatives of the Trump administration and a right-wing controlled Congress. The pollster, Celinda Lake, says that 86 percent of the calls that Congress has been receiving on health care, school vouchers, environmental de-regulation, tax cuts and other urgent issues have been made by women. Emily’s List reports that 12,000 women have indicated that they are interested in running for public office. So this may be the’Year of Women Taking a Stand’ and fighting back against a return to a more unequal and unjust society.

We have Lots of Friends – The very good news is that a recent survey shows that an overwhelming majority of the public is on our side when it comes to the major women’s issues. More on that later in this Special Edition.

The Coming Crises – Today, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is expected to release their analysis of the House-passed replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the American Health Care Act (AHCA) – which by many accounts is even worse than the earlier GOP bill that would have meant 24 million individuals would lose their health insurance. The AHCA contains a $839 billion cut to Medicaid spending – devastating the essential component of the ACA which provides coverage to low and moderate income persons, including low income seniors. And, at the same time the GOP bill allocates billions in “savings” (money taken from health care programs under the ACA) as tax cuts for the wealthy.

Trump Budget Wields the Axe – On the following day the Trump administration’s proposed budget for FY 2018 will be released. Rumors are circulating that it will contain another $800 billion in cuts to a wide variety of social programs, including to programs serving domestic violence survivors, Social Security Disability Insurance and Social Security Supplemental Insurance, school lunches, SNAP (food stamps), meals for seniors, housing assistance, Title X – family planning, veterans’ benefits, TANF (welfare), child care block grants, aid to education programs for low-income students and many other worthy human needs programs. Another $800 billion from the Medicaid program would be cut over 10 years, carrying through on the House-passed ACA repeal.

One question is whether the various women’s offices in different agencies will be kept alive; especially important are the Office on Violence Against Women in the Department of Justice and the Office of Women’s Health at the Food and Drug Administration, the Office of Research on Women’s Health with the National Institutes of Health and the Women’s Bureau at the Department of Labor, recently headed by former NOW Vice President Latifa Lyles.

Trump Paid Leave Proposal Inadequate – The administration is rumored to be proposing a mandate to states to provide paid parental leave for just six weeks, but experts say that the proposal falls far short of the 12-week national standard and neglects people who need paid time-off to address their own serious health issues, and it excludes working people who care for seriously ill or injured family members and military families’ needs, among other problems.

Big Cuts, but More $ for Pentagon – At the same time, House Budget Committee members have been drafting their FY’18 bill which is reported to also contain massive cuts to social spending. They are considering slashing more than $400 billion under an expedited process that prevents Democrats from using the filibuster in the Senate. The GOP budget would increase the Pentagon’s budget and provide generous tax cuts for high income earners. Reportedly, the House Republican budget will begin the privatization process for Medicare – something that is very unpopular with the public.

Money for the Border Wall – House Budget Republicans are reported to be incorporating in their budget plan some of Donald Trump’s favored projects, such as infrastructure rebuilding, additional funding for his U.S.-Mexican border wall, more funding for Homeland Security and ICE operations to round up and deport undocumented immigrants, more funding for detention centers to hold the thousands of immigrants awaiting deportation, etc. No doubt, battered immigrant women will be left in the lurch.

Future of Medicare in Doubt – Even though Donald Trump repeatedly stated while on the campaign trail that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid should not be touched, of course, this was false pledge as his proposed budget demonstrates. Trump supported both the first failed replacement of the Affordable Care Act which gutted Medicaid and now with the House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA) – which Trump also supported – the ACA Medicaid expansion will become a withered part of health care coverage if any bill like the AHCA becomes law. Further, Trump will likely let House Speaker Paul Ryan try to privatize Medicare – something that Ryan has been itching to do for years as a favor to big business that would rather not have to pay the matching in the payroll match taxes on worker’s salaries.

Demise of Social Security? – There is an especially alarming rumor floating around that tax reform legislation will repeal the FICA tax – hence killing the main source of dedicated funding for Social Security retirement, disability and supplemental programs that nearly everyone pays into during their working lives. The GOP will try to sell this is a “middle class tax cut” – what is, in fact, is guaranteed old age poverty for the vast majority of workers and their partners.

Now, Some Good News – Despite the fact that we have a Congress and a president who are uber-conservative and promote many anti-women’s rights policies, the public is not in agreement. A nationally representative survey of 1,300 persons taken in December found that 83 percent of respondents agreed that it was important for president-elect and Congress to move forward on women’s rights and equality. Ninety-three percent of Democrats, 71 percent of Republicans and 81 percent of Independents agreed. Survey findings follow:

·         90 percent want strong laws to ensure equal pay for equal work

·         87 percent want to ensure that working people can get paid family and medical leave

·         89 percent want to increase access to quality, affordable childcare for working families

·         85 percent want to ensure that women have access to quality, affordable birth control

·         61 percent oppose getting rid of the part of Obamacare that expands Medicaid to cover more low-income, uninsured adults

·         63 percent want to protect women’s right to abortion

·         67 percent oppose nominating a Supreme Court justice based on their belief in restricting or eliminating women’s right to abortion

·         74 percent oppose taking away funds from Planned Parenthood that are used for birth control, well- woman care, and cancer screenings for low-income women.

 Additionally, 63 percent oppose restricting access to abortion care; 55 percent oppose banning Medicaid coverage for abortion care; 67 percent want to keep the ACA provision that requires insurance plans to cover birth control without a co-pay; 87 percent want to keep the ACA provision that prohibits insurance companies from charging women more for health insurance than men based on their gender; 84 percent want to keep the ACA provision that requires insurance plan to cover preventive care, like well-woman visits; 83 percent want to keep the ACA provision that has federal funds available for states to expand Medicaid, which mostly covers women and children.

Women’s Community Principles – In advance of the Trump budget release, the women’s community and allied organizations sent a statement of their principles, as follows:

As organizations that advocate and work for the advancement and overall welfare of women and families, we join together to define a FY18 budget that in fact empowers women. At a minimum:

● The President’s budget plan must focus on improving the health of all women and families. It must adequately fund access to quality, affordable health care; evidence-based health education; research; and public health efforts. This must include enabling women to seek services from the provider of their choice, including Planned Parenthood, and for programs to be unconstrained by ideological policy riders.

● The budget must help women and families who are struggling to make ends meet and achieve economic security. This means ensuring basic living standards through financial, housing, food, health, and nutrition assistance for those struggling the most. And it means creating a strong, inclusive, responsible and sustainable paid family and medical leave plan that creates a true national standard.

● All women and families must have a fair opportunity for educational and career success. To that end, it is essential that the budget support accessible job training; educational opportunity; enforcement of critical civil rights laws that protect women and girls from discrimination; affordable, high-quality child care; and early childhood development – particularly for low-income families and in under-resourced communities.

● The budget must adequately fund efforts to prevent and address violence against all women and girls. This includes an investment in legal assistance, housing, shelters, education, research, and training.

‘Pay for Play,’ Or Women ‘Empowerment’ in Saudi Arabia

Nel's New Day

The first stop on a world trip by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) garnered big bucks for his daughter Ivanka. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates gave her $134 million for her new initiative to “benefit female entrepreneurs around the globe.” Women Entrepreneurs Fund seems to be the sort of “pay for play” activity that DDT accused Hillary Clinton of running in the Clinton Foundation. Last year DDT was furious that the Clinton Foundation accepted money from Saudi Arabia because they treat “women as slaves” and “kill gays.” He added, “Hillary must return all money from such countries!”

About the countries who just donated money to Ivanka’s fund, DDT said to Clinton during a debate last year:

“You talk about women and women’s rights. These are people that push gays off business — off buildings. These are people that kill women and treat women horribly, and yet you take their money. So…

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