Monday is the bigliest holiday of the year

Monday is President’s Day. Trump’s still in office. Obama’s still out of the country. How the fuck are we supposed to celebrate that?

Mr. Trump has been working hard. Yuge hard. So hard that he’s taking his third Palm Beach vacation of his presidency.

So hard, I’m taking my first vacation of the year and going to Palm Beach myself. No, really. I have relatives there and it was planned even before this Trump fiasco began. Believe me. I need that vacation. I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted.

Chicago is celebrating what they’re calling Not My President’s Day. Maybe by Monday, we’ll have our own Not My President’s Day planned in Dallas.

On the bright side, Trump’s already solved the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the immigration problem (you know, the one where people come to this country to work), the refugee problem (where victims of oppressive governments and war try to find a place to not be killed) and issued an Amber Alert for every child in the country as his choice for Education Secretary got sworn in.

The one issue that seems to be at the center of a lot of really bad policy and really confuses me is immigration. People here know they’re all immigrants, right? My grandparents and great-grandparents first arrived in the 1860s and were all in this country by 1905 and came from places like the Netherlands, Hungary, Alsace and Romania — and that makes me from an immigrant family.

Or am I unusual in knowing anything about my family history?

And my grandparents and great-grandparents all arrived with exactly the same documentation as a six-year-old who floats across the Rio Grande on a tire — absolutely none. That’s because passports and visas weren’t invented until later. And neither they nor more recent immigrants are rapists, terrorists or any other pejoratives being hurled at them. They just decided to come to the U.S. for a better life and they stayed.

Well, except my father’s father.

His brothers were already here and sent back stories of the streets being paved with gold. But when he arrived, no gold.

So he went back to Austria-Hungary.

Before his first trip to America, my grandfather had already served in the Kaiser’s army and, when he got back to Europe, the Kaiser was talking war. Sxo my grandfather high-tailed it back to New York. The Lower East Side was pretty slummy, but by then his brothers had moved to New Jersey and started small, downtown department stores. He met my grandmother and they opened Taffet’s Department Store in Nutley, N.J.

So this immigration issue that I’m just not understanding — I’m not arguing doing away with documentation. I am saying I simply understand. I don’t have this raging hatred that I’m seeing all around me for people with or without documentation. I don’t understand the cruelty with which immigrants are being treated.

All that leads me to believe that most people in this country don’t know their own family histories, and that’s sad. Or they honestly don’t understand that they are immigrants, too. If you see other people through your own family’s story, you have to understand we’re all much more similar than different.

So Monday is President’s Day. It’s meant to honor all past U.S. presidents. Slave-owning presidents. Presidents who established the National Parks System and fought for civil rights legislation and Social Security and Medicare. Presidents who dragged us into the Great Depression as well as those who dragged us out. Presidents who declared war and presidents who ended wars. Those who welcomed immigrants and those who didn’t.

And even for a recent president who is still on vacation out of the country and is beginning to piss me off just a little bit even though I’m not sure what he could do even if he were back. So this year, I think I’m just going to pass on Presidents Day.

—  David Taffet

UPDATED: Trump won’t revoke LGBT protections

Lisa Keen | Keen News Service
lisakeen@mac.com
trump-pence

Donald Trump, right, says he will not revoke President Obama’s 2014 executive order protecting LGBT federal employees and LGBT people working for federal contractors from discrimination. However, his vice president, Mike Pence, left, is notoriously anti-gay.

The news today (Tuesday, Jan. 31) that President Donald Trump said he would not rescind an existing executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT employees should have left LGBT activists feeling relieved. But it didn’t.

Most reacted with a mixture of concern that his reassuring “words” aren’t matching up with his troubling “actions” of nominating people who are hostile to LGBT to key federal positions in health care, civil rights, and education. Most fear Trump will be inclined to act on his campaign promise that religious liberty will be “cherished, protected, defended, like you have never seen before.”

In a four-sentence statement released Tuesday morning, the White House said:

President Donald J. Trump is determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community. President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights, just as he was throughout the election. The president is proud to have been the first ever GOP nominee to mention the LGBTQ community in his nomination acceptance speech, pledging then to protect the community from violence and oppression. The executive order signed in 2014, which protects employees from anti-LGBTQ workplace discrimination while working for federal contractors, will remain intact at the direction of President Donald J. Trump.”

“That is a fine statement, but actions are far more important,” said Rachel Tiven, chief executive officer for Lambda Legal. “President Trump is assembling a cabinet of people who have undermined the rights of LGBT people and everyone with HIV. Last week, he invoked pretend concern for LGBT people as a justification for his rejection of refugee. … Actions speak louder than words.”

Tivlen was referring to statements Trump made about violence against LGBT people as part of his justification for signing an executive order Friday afternoon, Jan, 27, that at least temporarily bars people from several Muslim-dominated countries from entering the U.S. He also cited the mass shooting at the Orlando nightclub Pulse last June by a gunman claiming he was inspired by ISIS to explain why he was having the Defense Department create a plan for defeating ISIS.

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin also issued a statement in response to the White House press release on the non-discrimination order.

“Claiming ally status for not overturning the progress of your predecessor is a rather low bar,” Griffin said. “LGBTQ refugees, immigrants, Muslims and women are scared today, and with good reason. Donald Trump has done nothing but undermine equality since he set foot in the White House.”

And Kate Kendall, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, noted that the White House statement is “not a step forward.”

“Today’s statement says only that Trump does not intend to take the extreme step of abolishing existing protections,” said Minter. “That is not a step forward. We remain extremely concerned that he intends to issue an order creating new religious exemptions that will harm LGBT people and others.”

Tuesday’s statement from the White House caught some people by surprise. Rumors were circulating just before the White House statement was released, claiming that President Trump was getting ready to sign an executive order rescinding the LGBT protections. Publicity for the statement that did emerge was largely lost among mainstream reporting of the increasingly dramatic backlash against Trump’s executive order restricting immigration by people from certain majority-Muslim nations and reporting of Trump’s scheduled announcement tonight of his nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Kendall suggested this morning’s statement could be an effort to mitigate any LGBT fallout over that Supreme Court nominee, what Minter said is “the most important issue for our community.”

“We need everyone who cares about LGBT people to insist that the Senate must reject any nominee who is not fully committed to enforcing [the] Obergefell [decision which struck down state bans on marriage for same-sex couples] and other decisions affirming the equality and freedom of LGBT people.”

HRC’s Griffin also noted that Trump has not committed to “opposing any executive actions that allow government employees, taxpayer-funded organizations or even companies to discriminate.”

Currently, regulations at several federal agencies, including Health and Human Services and the departments of Justice and Education, provide protections for LGBT people. The new incoming leadership at these agencies could issue new regulations that could take those protections away.

Those nominations — such as Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general, Betsy DeVos confirmed today as Secretary of Education, and Rep. Tom Price at HHS — had many in the LGBT community bracing for the Trump administration to reverse many of the gains of the Obama administration.

But Log Cabin national President Gregory Angelo said Jan. 18 that the Trump transition team’s Office of National Engagement invited Log Cabin to draft and submit the white paper on the LGBT non-discrimination executive order. Angelo said he considered that a “strong signal” that Trump’s promise to be a “real friend” to the LGBT community was “genuine.”

Log Cabin urged “preserving the LGBT non-discrimination executive order. …” LCR said the paper it submitted presented the “common-sense conservative case for LGBT non-discrimination in federal contractors to the Trump transition team.” It also noted that the last Republican president, George W. Bush, left intact the original executive order prohibiting discrimination against federal employees based on sexual orientation.

After the White House issued President Trump’s statement this morning, Angelo said, “President Trump is delivering” on his campaign commitment to be a “real friend” of the LGBT community.

“Log Cabin Republicans is proud to have directly advocated for this important preservation of LGBT equality in the federal workforce, and heartened to see that the recommendations prescribed in our white paper on this subject have been reflected in the decision to maintain the LGBT non-discrimination executive order.”

© 2017 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

—  Tammye Nash

Cakegate 2017: Baker admits she replicated 2013 Obama cake at ‘client’s’ request, then donated the profit to HRC

On the left is a photo of the cake commissioned for Trump’s “Salute to Our Troops” Inaugural Ball on Friday night. It appears nearly identical to the cake Duff Goldman made for Obama’s 2013 inaugural ball, pictured on the right.

After the TV news stations started showing video of Trump’s inaugural balls on Friday, Jan. 20, I heard someone say that celebrity baker Duff Goldman, executive chef at Charm City Cakes in Baltimore and star of numerous Food Network shows, was claiming that whoever had baked the cake for Trump’s inauguration had stolen the design from the cake he made for President Obama’s 2013 inauguration.

He tweeted: “The cake on the left is the one I made for President Obama’s inauguration 4 years ago. The one on the right is Trumps. I didn’t make it,” and included an image (above) with side-by-side photos of the two cakes.

My first thought was, well, how many different ways can you design a cake for an inauguration? There will always be SOME similarities, right? But then I saw the side-by-side comparison with a photo of Duff’s cake for Obama and the cake for Trump, and … . Um, yeah. It looks pretty much like an exact replica.

New York Daily News posted this story about CakeGate on Saturday afternoon, Jan. 21.

What a shitty thing for a baker to do, right?

Then more of the story came out.

Tiffany MacIsaac, owner of Buttercream Bakeshop in Washington, D.C., explained that “a client” — who she refused to name — had commissioned her bakery to replicate Goldman’s 2013 Obama cake for Trump’s 2017 “Salute to Our Troops” inaugural ball. She said, according to the UK’s Daily Mail, that her employees tried to convince the client to go with a cake inspired by Goldman’s creation, but the client insisted that they replicate Goldman’s cake because it was perfect.

MacIsaac said Saturday via Twitter: “While we most love creating original designs, when we are asked to replicate someone else’s work we are thrilled when it is a masterpiece like this one. @duff_goldman originally created this for Obama’s inauguration 4 years ago and this years committee commissioned us to re-create it.”

And then came the “best part”: MacIsaac said via Twitter that the profits from making the cake are being donated to the D.C.-based LGBT rights organization Human Rights Campaign: “Best part is all the profits are being donated to @humanrightscampaign, one of our favorite charities who we have loved working with over the years. Because basic human rights are something every man, woman and child~ straight, gay or the rainbow in between~ deserve!”

 

—  Tammye Nash

Not in my America!

 

The Republicans just spent a week trying to build a winning hand, but proved that the only card they have left to play is Trump-ed up fear

 

Haberman-Hardy-I admit it. I watched the Republican National Convention.

It left me very confused, because speech after speech by second-tier GOP luminaries played the only card left in the Republican hand: fear.

We should be afraid of the crime wave sweeping America! We should be afraid of all the criminal illegal Mexicans pouring across our borders! We should be afraid of the terrorists that are slaughtering more people now in America than ever! We should be afraid of the economic disaster the Obama presidency has wrought on America! We should be afraid of the weakened state of defense! We should be afraid of Obamacare! We should be afraid of transgender people invading our son’s and daughter’s bathrooms! We should be afraid of the massive unemployment that this administration has caused and even more fearful of Hillary Clinton continuing on the same trajectory! We should be afraid of the elitism! We are a country in a crisis!

I think I ran out of exclamation points.

What amazes me is that every speaker — with the possible exception of Mrs. Trump — gave the same speech.

More amazing is the country these people are describing. It is an America largely based on fiction, an America that exists only on Fox News and in the minds of the huddled “preppers” who sit in their shelters awaiting the end times.

It is a completely different America than the one in which I live.

In my America, crime statistics show a steady decline in violent crime. In fact, a report from the Brookings Institute shows violent crime has fallen 51 percent since 1991, and is at one of the lowest rates since 1970.

In my America, the rate of illegal immigration has stabilized not increased, and in the case of Mexican immigrants it is actually declining.

And by the way, those illegal immigrants pay taxes. According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, in 2013 they paid $7 billion in sales taxes, $1.1 billion in income taxes and $3.6 billion in property taxes.

And as far as their “criminal” behavior — well, of the 14,196 murders committed in 2013, a frightening total of eight were committed by illegal immigrants.

In my America, the economic disaster is the one we are still recovering from — and it started during the Bush administration. Stocks are at all-time highs, and the last report shows unemployment has fallen from close to 10 percent when Obama took office in 2008 to the current rate of 4.9 percent.

Sounds like an economic recovery to me.

In my America, our military spending is higher than the next six countries’ spending combined, including China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and India. If anything, we need to cut back on that spending.

In my America, the Affordable Care Act has resulted in fewer people being uninsured. The number dropped from 41.8 million uninsured in 2013 to 33.0 million 2014 (last year available so far). Not everyone, but a pretty good success in a short time, and this in spite of the fact that many states declined to expand Medicaid to help their citizens afford insurance.

In my America, transgender people just want to use the toilet when they go to a public restroom, just like everyone else. In fact, the number of transgender people lurking in bathrooms to prey on unsuspecting people is exactly ZERO. The alleged “cases” that have been reported have all proven to be hoaxes generated by right-wing blogs.

In my America, the elitism I see is a presidential candidate giving interviews sitting in a golden chair in a penthouse apartment of a building with his name emblazoned in gold on the side. That qualifies as elite in my book, as does his private jet and helicopter.

In my America, I am not as afraid of terrorists sneaking into the country as I am of home-grown terrorists staging standoffs with government agents and bombing abortion clinics and shooting up gay nightclubs. And statistically, I am more likely to be killed by my own furniture falling on me than a terrorist.

So all this fear-mongering about our country in crisis? Well, the crisis I see is the very real possibility that the fearmongers will gain the White House. And that would be a big problem in my book.

Take a look at the GOP platform and if you are anyone but a straight, white Protestant you will find something to give you shivers.

The week-long fear fest of the Republican National Convention comes down to one thing: They offer our country a single item. They have come to the end of their deck and all they have left is their “Trump” card: It’s called Fear.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and board member for the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.blogspot.com.

—  Tammye Nash

Rabbi Paley: Notes from the memorial for fallen officers

Paley.Andrew

Rabbi Andrew Paley, right, speaking at the Meyerson

Rabbi Andrew Paley, senior rabbi at Temple Shalom in North Dallas, described the experience of participating in the memorial at the Meyerson Symphony Center to the five police officers killed in an ambush on July 7, as “powerful, exciting, overwhelming.”

Paley was one of three clergy who offered a prayer during the tribute, and he sat on stage directly behind First Lady Michelle Obama.

The dignitaries on the stage whispered to one another several times throughout the event. But it seems what the audience most noticed was when former President George W. Bush whispered some comment to the First Lady and her reaction to him.

Micki Rawlings leaned over to say something to Dallas Police Chief David Brown. Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price commented to DART Police Chief James Spiller. The Bidens interacted. But the current first lady and former president were cutting up like old friends.

Bush.Obama

Michelle Obama seems to be trying not to laugh at a comment former President George Bush made to her while their spouses look on.

Paley said the comments he heard were mostly innocuous. Commenting on one soloist from the interfaith choir that performed, Bush leaned over and said, “Man, can she sing.”

But other comments got more of a reaction when Bush said something to the first lady and both his wife and her husband laughed at Michelle’s response.

Paley said the Bushes arrived at the Meyerson about 40 minutes before the Obamas and Bidens, who had been visiting injured officers at Parkland Hospital before the service. He said while they were waiting backstage, Bush put everyone at ease, asking, “How’s it going everybody?” as he walked in.

“I understood why people like him,” Paley said.

Paley described Mrs. Bush as “classy, composed and refined,” but as they waited for the Obamas, the other memorial participants sat in a circle talking.

“Bush tried to connect with everyone,” Paley said. He didn’t want any formality. “You know, I’m not the president,” Bush told them and sat in the circle with them. To make those participating on the world stage for the first time, along with others who were old hands at it, the former president told some stories as they waited backstage for what would be a very solemn and moving event.

Bush told the group about meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin. When Putin came to the White House, he met Bush’s Scottish terrier Barney. When Bush was in Moscow, he visited Putin’s residence. The Russian leader brought out his dog, Konni, a black Labrador retriever, and said, “My dog’s bigger.”

As they waited for the Obamas and Bidens, the choir sang on stage, but backstage, the group chatted. Paley asked Bush if he was still painting. “Like a madman,” Bush said. Paley told the former president he had seen his series of portraits of world leaders at the Bush Library. “Not my finest work,” Bush told him.

Before going on stage, Paley asked Bush if he’d ever been to Temple Shalom. “Not yet,” Bush told him. Paley invited him, saying, “We’d love to have you.” Bush said jokingly, “I don’t get that far north.” Temple Shalom is just north of LBJ Freeway on Hillcrest at Alpha Road.

Paley described Vice President Joe Biden as very likable. “He’s just like on TV — warm and approachable.”

As they lined up to go on stage, Biden was behind Paley. The rabbi said something about being ahead of the Vice President and Biden joked, “I’m Catholic, but I’d follow the Jews anywhere.”

He called the President and First Lady “genuinely nice people,” and said he left feeling the Obamas were “real humans who were really heartbroken” after all efforts to do anything about gun violence had been thwarted. After the memorial, Paley said, Obama spent about an hour with the families of the slain officers.

—  David Taffet

Obama, Bush address DPD officers at Meyerson event

Obama

President Barack Obama addresses Dallas Police officers at the Meyerson (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush spoke to Dallas police officers and the families of the victims of the ambush that took place on July 7 at the Meyerson Symphony Center this afternoon (Tuesday, July 12).

The Arlington Police Department filled in for Dallas police to provide security around the Meyerson to allow DPD officers to attend.

The Dallas Police Choir was joined on stage by choirs from six church choirs from around the city. They began with a powerful rendition of “Love is Stronger than Hate.”

In addition to state and local officials, governors Jay Nixon of Missouri and Suzanna Martinez of New Mexico attended. Mayors from New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Lewisville and Columbia also flew in for the event.

Mayor Mike Rawlings welcomed the crowd and said they were there to comfort the families of the victims and “to honor those who were wounded, not only in body but soul,” acknowledging how hurt everyone on the police force is.

Police Chief David Brown said earlier today he may require his officers to go through counseling, so that they don’t have to request it.

The Rev. Sheron Patterson of the United Methodist Church of North Texas, Rabbi Andrew Paley of Temple Shalom and Imam Omar Suleiman on Valley Ranch Islamic Center offered a prayer for unity, healing and peace.

Sen. John Cornyn thanked Rawlings and Brown for the strength they’ve shown since the ambush, calling them men of uncommon courage.

He said Dallas police officers ran toward the bullets, shielded citizens and sacrificed their own lives.

“They put the people of Dallas before themselves,” Cornyn said.

After receiving a standing ovation, Bush said, “Today our nation grieves. Those of us who call Dallas home lost five members of our family.”

He said the Dallas Police Department has been an inspiration for the rest of the country.

“We are grief stricken, heartbroken and forever grateful,” Bush said.

Rawlings introduced DART police chief James Spiller saying, “Leadership is hard. Great leadership is unique. We experienced that leadership from James Spiller.”

As he introduced Brown, whom he called “a rock” and “my friend,” police gave an ovation with whistles and cheers.

When the president stood at the podium, he began with a tribute to each of the officers. Before the event, he met with the wounded and he talked about the son of Shetamia Taylor, who brought her children to the demonstration. Her 12-year-old son told the president he wants to become a Dallas police officer.

“Despite the fact police conduct was the subject of the protest, the men and women of the Dallas Police Department did their jobs,” Obama said.

They posted photos of themselves with demonstrators on social media, he said.

Throughout his speech, the president expressed frustration that he “hugged too many families.”

But he praised the Dallas police who “didn’t flinch and didn’t act recklessly,” and because of their actions, “saved more lives than we will ever know.”

He praised Brown for being at the forefront of improving relations between police and the city and called DPD a national model for the way a police department should be run. But he enumerated the shortcomings.

“We ask police to do too much and we ask too little of ourselves,” Obama said, echoing frustrations Brown expressed yesterday.

“We refuse to fund drug treatment,” he said. “We flood communities with guns.”

The event closed with the choirs singing “Glory Hallelujah.” When Michelle Obama took Bush’s hand and both began singing along with the choir, the others on stage held hands. That included Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, in whose district the shooting took place, who held hands with Sen. Ted Cruz. Then the entire audience stood, held hands and joined the singing.

Outside, we encountered one protester, a white woman, whose scribbled sign read, “Obama’s a racist.” We weren’t sure if she actually knows what the word means.

More details in Friday’s Dallas Voice.

—  David Taffet

President Obama officially endorses Hillary Clinton for president

Screen shot 2016-06-09 at 1.30.46 PM

In a video released today by the Clinton campaign, President Barack Obama endorses Hillary Clinton for president.

President Barack Obama today (Thursday, June 9) issued a ringing endorsement, via video released by the Clinton campaign, of former Secretary of State (former Senator, former First Lady) Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the presidency. He also added praise for her primary opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and called on voters to take a stand for “the values that make America great” and “win a brighter future for this country that we love.”

“Look, I know how hard this job can be. That’s why I know Hillary will be so good at it,” Obama said in the video. “In fact, I don’t think there’s ever been someone so qualified to hold this office. She’s got the courage, the compassion and the heart to get the job done.

“I’m with her,” the president continued, echoing Clinton supporters’ “I’m With Hillary” slogan. “I’m fired up, and I cannot wait to get out there and campaign for Hillary.”

Obama praised Sanders for waging a hard-fought campaign, for bringing to light important issues like economic justice and for bringing thousands of young people into the democratic process. Both Clinton and Sanders, he said “are patriots who love this country.”

Watch the complete video below.

—  Tammye Nash

Obama issues LGBT Pride Month declaration

 THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 31, 2016

LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, AND TRANSGENDER PRIDE MONTH, 2016

– – – – – – –

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

President Barack ObamaSince our founding, America has advanced on an unending path toward becoming a more perfect Union. This journey, led by forward-thinking individuals who have set their sights on reaching for a brighter tomorrow, has never been easy or smooth. The fight for dignity and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people is reflected in the tireless dedication of advocates and allies who strive to forge a more inclusive society. They have spurred sweeping progress by changing hearts and minds and by demanding equal treatment — under our laws, from our courts, and in our politics. This month, we recognize all they have done to bring us to this point, and we recommit to bending the arc of our Nation toward justice.

Last year’s landmark Supreme Court decision guaranteeing marriage equality in all 50 States was a historic victory for LGBT Americans, ensuring dignity for same-sex couples and greater equality across State lines. For every partnership that was not previously recognized under the law and for every American who was denied their basic civil rights, this monumental ruling instilled newfound hope, affirming the belief that we are all more free when we are treated as equals.

LGBT individuals deserve to know their country stands beside them. That is why my Administration is striving to better understand the needs of LGBT adults and to provide affordable, welcoming, and supportive housing to aging LGBT Americans. It is also why we oppose subjecting minors to the harmful practice of conversion therapy, and why we are continuing to promote equality and foster safe and supportive learning environments for all students. We remain committed to addressing health disparities in the LGBT community — gay and bisexual men and transgender women of color are at a particularly high risk for HIV, and we have worked to strengthen our National HIV/AIDS Strategy to reduce new infections, increase access to care, and improve health outcomes for people living with HIV.

Despite the extraordinary progress of the past few years, LGBT Americans still face discrimination simply for being who they are. I signed an Executive Order in 2014 that prohibits discrimination against Federal employees and contractors on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. I urge the Congress to enact legislation that builds upon the progress we have made, because no one should live in fear of losing their job simply because of who they are or who they love. And our commitment to combatting discrimination against the LGBT community does not stop at our borders: Advancing the fair

2

treatment of all people has long been a cornerstone of American diplomacy, and we have made defending and promoting the human rights of LGBT individuals a priority in our engagement across the globe. In line with America’s commitment to the notion that all people should be treated fairly and with respect, champions of this cause at home and abroad are upholding the simple truth that LGBT rights are human rights.

There remains much work to do to extend the promise of our country to every American, but because of the acts of courage of the millions who came out and spoke out to demand justice and of those who quietly toiled and pushed for progress, our Nation has made great strides in recognizing what these brave individuals long knew to be true in their hearts — that love is love and that no person should be judged by anything but the content of their character. During Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, as Americans wave their flags of pride high and march boldly forward in parades and demonstrations, let us celebrate how far we have come and reaffirm our steadfast belief in the equal dignity of all Americans.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2016 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this

thirty-first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.

BARACK OBAMA

# # #

—  David Taffet

Administration commits nearly half a billion dollars to PEPFAR

Susan E. Rice

National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice

National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice on Saturday, Sept. 26, announced that the Obama Administration is investing “nearly half a billion dollars to support an AIDS-free future for adolescent girls and young women,” through the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

In a statement released Saturday, Rice said that both new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths are both down by more than 40 percent since the peak of the epidemic, adding that the Obama Administration has “invested nearly $50 billion” through PEPFAR to “achieve an AIDS-free generation, building on the initiative and $15 billion provided by President Bush.”

She continued, “Working with partner countries around the globe, we are now supporting life-saving antiretroviral treatment for 7.7 million men, women and children worldwide; enabled more than one million babies to be born HIV-free; and tested and counseled more than 14 million pregnant women last year alone.

“Today we are setting a bold new course by announcing ambitious PEPFAR prevention and treatment targets for 2016 and 2017.”

The goal is that by the end of 2017, PEPFAR will support antiretroviral treatment for 12.9 million people, pay for 13 million male circumcisions to help prevent HIV transmission and reduce HIV infections by 40 percent among adolescent girls and young women in 10 sub-Saharan African countries, Rice said. Every year, Rice noted, 380,000 adolescent girls and young women are infected with HIV. That’s 7,300 every week, or more than 1,000 every day.

“This must change,” Rice said.

The new effort includes $300 million in additional HIV prevention investments with the PEPFAR-led DREAMS partnership, building on the $210 million that PEPFAR and private partners committed to DREAMS on World AIDS Day last year.

DREAMS stands for Determined, Resilient, Empowered AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe women.

“Over the last 15 years, we have seen remarkable results as we have worked together toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals,” Rice said. “PEPFAR’s new targets and investments come at a critical time as we transition from the Millennium Development Goals to meet the challenge before us in the new Sustainable Development Goals: to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

“We believe if we all — governments, private sector, civil society including faith-based organizations — bring our collective will and energy together, we can achieve an AIDS-free generation and bring this epidemic to a halt,” she conclluded.

—  Tammye Nash

See? You can be a more embarrassingly stupid governor than Rick Perry

Abbott.Greg

Greg Abbott pandering in front of the 11 Commandments monument at the state Capitol

The U.S. military is conducting regular military exercises in South Texas. That, of course, led to the conspiracy theorists gathering at town hall meetings and worrying that Obama was invading Texas and confiscating our guns. The exercise is dubbed “Jade Helm 15.”

Rather than ignore the people wearing tin foil hats, Gov. Greg Abbott is making a name for himself nationally by addressing the controversy and protecting the state from being overrun by putting the Texas State Guard on standby.

Progress Texas ran five headlines, including a plea from the newspaper that endorsed him, The Dallas Morning News: “Please don’t feed the conspiracy theorists, Gov. Abbott.”

Well, since Progress Texas ran its piece, the story has caught on across the country.

“U.S. military says it isn’t invading Texas, but Gov. Greg Abbott isn’t taking any chances,” reads the headline in The Birmingham News. Embarrassing when an Alabama newspaper is making fun of Texas.

Wait, it gets better. By the time Abbott gets through with his term, we won’t be able to proudly proclaim, “Thank God for Mississippi.”

Here’s a quote I got from Abbott about how he’s protecting the state (It’s embarrassingly from the Biloxi Sun-Herald. Yes, even Mississippi is in on the fun, but who can blame them?):

“It is important that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed,” Abbott wrote. “By monitoring the Operation on a continual basis, the State Guard will facilitate communications between my office and the commanders of the Operation to ensure that adequate measures are in place to protect Texans.”

Daily Beast headline: Texas Guv Surrenders to Conspiracy Nuts

Salon: Right-wing lunatics think the military is planning to invade Texas

Dallas Morning News: Ex-GOP lawmaker blisters Abbott for ‘pandering to idiots’ over military exercise

Wait, you endorsed him, right?

Well, Abbott has set the tone. It should be a fun four years covering him and his antics. You ever think you’d be saying these words? “Remember the good old days when Rick Perry was governor?”

—  David Taffet