A bunch of old, white men are determining the course of our nation

You'll be pleased to know that Trump and the Republican leadership met at Camp David this weekend to set their 2018 legislative agenda, and once again, the GOP made sure that a diversity of voices were heard.

Nine old, white, male Republican leaders, including Trump and Pence, were joined by Paul Ryan, who is also male and white but only middle aged.

He's only 47 years old.  

Republican diversity at work, my friends. And they were once again dumb enough to emphasize this point by posing behind Trump at the conclusion of the weekend. 

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This is not the Jesus you learned about in Sunday School

The odd thing about the America that so many Republicans (including the alt-right) desire is that it would absolutely reject Jesus if he were still alive today.  

After all, Jesus was Jewish.

He was very much a socialist.

He was homeless. A refugee.  

He was anti-death penalty. Anti-school prayer (Matthew 6:5). Anti-violence.

He strongly opposed the accumulation of wealth. 

He never said a word about homosexuality or gay marriage. 

And as much as the church might have you think otherwise, Jesus was not white. He was a brown-skinned Middle Easterner who wore sandals to the dinner table and hung out with tax collectors and prostitutes. 

Also, unlike our Vice President, he was able to dine alone with a woman who was not his wife.

There is no room for Jesus in the American that Republicans like Mike Pence envision. Brown skinned, Middle Eastern refugees have already been banned from our country. His anti-capitalistic rhetoric would be shouted down by Republicans. It would be difficult, if not impossible for him to attend a Trump rally without being verbally, if not physically, assaulted (and have Trump offer to pay the legal fees of anyone who hit him)..

There is no place in conservative, Evangelical, Trumpian America for Jesus, despite the fact that they invoke his name constantly. 

I keep waiting for the smiting.   

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Republicans don't read The Bible

Last month, the Republican Congress sought to repeal ObamaCare, slash Medicaid, and strip more than 35 million Americans of their vital healthcare.

They came one vote away from achieving that goal.   

This week they are at it again. A new, even more draconian bill is being considered in the Senate that would once again strip healthcare from millions of Americans, slash Medicaid, and eliminate pre-existing condition protections. 

What they never say is that the repeal of ObamaCare would also trigger a massive tax cut for the wealthiest of Americans. 

The Republican Congress is also attempting to pass tax reform, which they claim will simplify the tax code and give all Americans a tax cut. While this may be true, they fail to mention is that the vast majority of proposed tax cuts are for the wealthiest Americans. This effectively turns their tax cut (and the possible repeal of ObamaCare) into a massive transfer of public assets from the neediest Americans to the wealthiest Americans. 

Call me crazy, but taking healthcare away from children, the disabled, the poor, and other needy Americans while putting money back into the pockets of the ultra-wealthy strikes me as especially evil. In fact, it's exactly the kind of thing that Jesus explicitly advised against.

Read the first four books of the New Testament (or 1 Timothy), and the message is clear:

If you're wealthy, you'd better be using your good fortune to help the needy. 

Remember this often quoted bit of Scripture?

“Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

This comes from Matthew 19, where Jesus tells a wealthy man to sell his possessions and give to the poor if he wants to gain access to heaven.

Jesus really couldn't have been clearer on the issue. If you're wealthy, you'd best be helping the poor. 

I don't happen to be religious. I'm a reluctant atheist who wishes he believed, but in my search for faith (and because I was an English major in college) I have read The Bible cover to cover three times, and I'm absolutely certain on Jesus's views on these matter.

It's indisputable.

As a result, I can't help but seriously doubt that most Republican lawmakers have actually read the Bible. Members of the GOP are constantly citing their faith in God and appealing to groups like Evangelical Christians for support, yet their deepest, most consistent desire is to transfer wealth away from poor, working, and middle class Americans to the wealthiest Americans.

I know that Jesus preached nonviolence, but I honestly think he would punch some of these Republicans in the face for wrapping themselves in the cloak of Christianity while knowing nothing about one of it's most important tenets. 

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Republican men decide that women can't wear sleeveless dresses because they are apparently afraid of lady shoulders

In an apparent effort to establish "appropriate business attire," House of Representatives under Speaker Paul Ryan is enforcing a dress code in the Speaker's Lobby—a space adjacent to the front of the House chamber—that bans women from showing their shoulders.

Several female reporters have already been kicked out of the lobby for wearing sleeveless dresses.  

Yesterday Republican Congressperson Martha McSally, a former fighter pilot and the first woman in American history to fly into combat, ended her speech in the well of Congress by saying, “Before I yield back, I want to point out, I’m standing here in my professional attire, which happens to be a sleeveless dress and open-toed shoes. With that, Mr. Speaker, I yield back.” 

Some (mostly stupid white men) complained that with all the problems facing America today, dress codes should not be a priority.

But here is the thing:

Paul Ryan and his male dominated Republican caucus have decided to enforce this arbitrary dress code. Republicans like Ryan have also demonstrated an obsession with policing women's bodies, and this policing is highly relevant to many of their GOP positions. These are positions that impact economic policy, healthcare, civil rights, and the criminal justice system.

When a man in power has creepy ideas about what women should be wearing and the freedoms they should be permitted to enjoy, it has far reaching consequences. 

Yes, it's a dress code, but it represents a whole lot more, and in the battle for women to have control of their bodies and their destinies, not one inch should ever be surrendered. 

Incompetent, racist, or both?

I just don't get it. 

Last summer, it was Paul Ryan taking a selfie with a sea of white Republican interns.

Last November it was Mike Pence taking a selfie with a sea of white Republican Senators and Congresspeople.

Last week it was Donald Trump announcing the passing of House's healthcare bill in the Rose Garden with a seas of white, almost exclusively male Congressmen standing behind him. 

Then there was this:

The new header on Donald Trump's Twitter feed, which featured a sea of white faces standing behind him (and the most oddly placed, overly defensive message in the history of Twitter embedded within).

This header was so viciously mocked on Twitter that it came down hours after being posted. 

Now Republican Senators have begun drafting their version of the healthcare bill. The Republican's working group:

13 white men. No women. No person of color.

One of two things is happening:

  1. The Republican leadership is completely blind to the optics of these photos and are clueless when it comes to the image they are presenting. 
  2. These photos are serving as dog whistles to those conservative voters who don't want their President to be black ever again.

So incompetent or racist. Or possibly both. 

A bunch of white men apparently too stupid to realize that they are all white men.

Earlier in the week, I wrote about my belief that the country would be in better hands if more women were in charge.

Perfect example:

This is the photograph of the yesterday's healthcare negotiations between Mike Pence and the Freedom Caucus, where attempts were made to negotiate away birth control, maternity care, abortion from the bill. 

Two dozen white men - apparently too stupid to realize that there were only white men in the room - determining how women's healthcare will be administered in the future. 

Their attempts to deny women of this basic healthcare coverage is horrendous.

Their obliviousness over the lack of women or anyone of color in these negotiations is equally appalling. And this was the photograph that the White House chose to release to the public.

Astounding. 

This is hardly the first time that Republicans (including Pence and Ryan) were this stupid.

Donald Trump. I told you so.

Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for President.

Kind of hard to believe. Right?

I am not a Republican, nor I am pleased by this harrowing turn of events, but back in February, I predicted this outcome. I explained to friends that there were too many Republican candidates and no clear frontrunner, so the one with the most notoriety was likely to win.

I saw Trump as being that guy. 

I also saw Trump getting free air time on all the major cable news networks. Even MSNBC was covering his every move. 

That sealed the deal for me. 

Most people disagreed with this opinion. A few folks scoffed. But two of my friends told me that I was stupid. An idiot. A moron. They disparaged my intellect and my common sense. For those who chose to express their disagreement with aggressive, verbal abuse, I added them to my "I told you so" calendar and set the date for Friday, July 22, 2016.

Turns out I miscalculated by three days. 

So today I will send out two emails, reminding my friends of their so-easily-produced insults back in February and letting them know that their words had not been forgotten and they were wrong. 

In each email, I will write, "I told you so."

Petty? I don't think so. We allow people to dismiss, disregard, and marginalize our ideas, opinions, and predictions all the time because they enjoy the safety and security of time. They get to call you an idiot or a buffoon because they have a six month buffer from being proven wrong, so they assume almost no risk. Say something rotten today because it will probably be forgotten tomorrow.

It's name-calling and intellectual bravado without any stakes. 

Except, that is, when you're dealing with someone like me with an "I told you so" calendar.

If you disagreed with my on the Trump nomination civilly, no problem. 

If you thought my prediction was ludicrous and expressed as much without berating or insulting me, no worries.

Disagreements are normal in this world. 

But when you call someone names and insult their intelligence because you think that you're right and know there are months of buffering before the outcome, during which time the target of your barbs is likely to forget your unkind words, this is not okay with me.

I will be waiting. Biding my time. Counting the days.  

Two pleasure-filled emails will be sent off today.

I'm worried about our country and frankly saddened for many of my Republican friends, who I know are feeling lost right now with the direction their party has turned, but at least I can take solace in these four beautiful words today:

I told you so.

Paul Ryan (and the Democrats) need my help. I am waiting for their call.

Paul Ryan has called the Democrat recent sit-in "a publicity stunt." 

This was stupid thing to say.

I am a Democrat, but I also can't stand bad communication and poor messaging. Despite our political differences, Paul Ryan needs me.

There were highly effective ways of responding to the Democrats' sit-in strategy, but calling it a publicity stunt was not one of them. Ryan is in an interesting position at the moment. Thanks to Donald Trump, he is perceived by many as a fairly rational Republican who would be much more palatable than Trump. Regardless of what happens with the Presidency, he has an opportunity to take a serious leadership role in this country in the minds of Republicans and many independents. More importantly. he has a chance to reach across the aisle and become a dealmaker.  

Instead, he calls the Democrats strategy "a publicity stunt."

If I was a Democrat, here is what I would've said in response to Ryan:

Paul Ryan has called our sit-in a publicity stunt.

Was Rosa Parks refusal to sit at the back of the bus a publicity stunt?

Were the lunch counter protests by the Friendship Nine a publicity stunt?

Was Martin Luther King’s march on Washington a publicity stunt?

Was Gandhi’s hunger strike a publicity stunt?

Were Betty Williams and Cezar Chavez and Nelson Mandela engaged in publicity stunts?

Come down to the well of Congress, Mr. Ryan, and tell the great John Lewis to his face that this is nothing more than a publicity stunt. And while you are at it, turn the C-SPAN cameras back on. Turning them off was the act of a coward who is afraid of what the American people might think if they could witness our protest. Only villains fear the clear light of sunshine.

The Democrats are just as foolish for not making this argument (unless they did and I missed it), and I'm more than willing to help them as well if they want to hire me.

I promise you, Congressional and Senate Democrats, that I could craft a powerful, effective, cohesive, and inclusive message for your party as well. And I'm always quick with a stinging comeback.  

But here is what Paul Ryan should have said:

I admire my Democratic colleagues for their passion and perseverance. I disagree with them on their positions regarding gun control and cannot stand by as they attempt to erode the Constitutional rights of Americans, but I can certainly acknowledge the strength of their conviction, as misguided as it may be. Unfortunately this is not the way to pass legislation, and it hasn’t been the way to pass legislation for more than 200 years. We have rules and procedures that allow for lawmakers to vote on bills, and these rules and procedure have helped this Republic to stand strong when so many have faltered. I understand their frustration. I understand their desire to push forward their agenda. But there are agreed-upon ways of doing this, and this sit-in is not one of them. Congress cannot and will not operate under mob rule.

This was the statement that you should've made, Paul Ryan. It would've been measured, thoughtful, convincing, and effective. 

It also doesn't run the risk of implying that people like Rosa Park and Martin Luther King were engaging in publicity stunts. Ryan is lucky that I am not running the messaging apparatus of the Democrats or I would've blasted his "publicity stunt" statement to smithereens. 

And I'm ready to help. Even though I am a Democrat, I would be more than willing to assist Paul Ryan. We need Republicans willing to make deals and legislate, and if working for Paul Ryan helps to make that happen, I'm ready to assist. 

In fact, I tried to reach out to Paul Ryan a couple weeks ago to offer my services but can only send him an email if I live within his district. I was unable to contact him. 

His loss. Sincerely. I would kick ass at messaging and communications for these politicians. 

If you're smart, hire me. I will cost you a fortune, but I will help to craft an effective, compelling message that works. 

Awful Jeb Bush asks supporters for $25 in exchange for leaving them the hell alone. Seriously.

Ashley Feinberg at Gawker received received an unusual email from the Bush campaign last week.

In exchange for $25, Bush promised to stop sending email to supporters on his mailing list for two weeks. In the email, Bush refers to this extortion attempt as a "deal," an "early Christmas present," and a way to "opt-out." 

It's kind of unbelievable. Unthinkable. 

This is a ridiculous and horrible way to add funds to the campaign coffers (and another signal that we are in desperate need of campaign finance reform), but then again, if it works for a Bush, then why not for me?

So if you'd like me to ignore you for a month - no newsletters, books, blog posts, tweets, Instagram photos, or podcasts - send me some cash. I'll cut you right out. Ensure that nothing that I produce ends up in your inbox or social media feed. 

And unlike Jeb Bush, I won't even identify a required dollar amount. Give whatever you think is right. Whatever you can afford. I'm not discriminating.

Give more than $25 if you'd like. Please. 

And if you know me personally, hand me some cash and I won't speak to you for a month. I won't even look in your direction. I promise!

And unlike Jeb Bush, who will use this money to compete for the top spot in a political party that currently favors the likes of Donald Trump and Ben Carson, I'll put the money to some good use. I'll pay bills. Take my wife to dinner. Invest in my children's education.

So let me know. We can use Venmo. Simple and fast. 

Slate might actually be stealing my ideas. Not really, but you have to admit that it’s getting a little suspicious.

About two weeks ago, I wrote a tongue-in-cheek post accusing Slate of stealing my ideas. On the same day, Slate published pieces defending skipping and arguing that climate change skeptics can no longer use the word skeptic when describing themselves because it’s simply not true.

I had previously published blog posts that were eerily similar.

But like I said, my claim was tongue-in-cheek. I didn’t really believe that there was an editor at Slate scouring my blog for interesting topics for his or her writers. I still don’t.

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But I couldn’t help but notice that David Shiffman’s piece “I’m Not a Scientist” Is a Dangerous Cop-Out, which argues that the Republicans can no longer claim ignorance in order to avoid taking a position on climate change, is eerily similar to my blog post from a month earlier “I’m not a scientist” is a perfectly acceptable response to climate change questions, as long as you’re willing to acknowledge everything else that you are not.

Just look at the similarity in argument and even word choice between Shiffman and myself.

Shiffman writes:

When politicians say “I’m not a scientist,” it is an exasperating evasion. It’s a cowardly way to avoid answering basic and important policy questions. This response raises lots of other important questions about their decision-making processes. Do they have opinions on how to best maintain our nation’s highways, bridges, and tunnels—or do they not because they’re not civil engineers? Do they refuse to talk about agriculture policy on the grounds that they’re not farmers? How do they think we should be addressing the threat of ISIS? They wouldn’t know, of course; they’re not military generals.

More than a month earlier, I wrote:

Despite the sudden and overwhelming use of this sound byte [I’m not a scientist] as a means of doing nothing about climate change, I’m willing to accept these Republican’s admission of ignorance as long as they are willing to also admit that they are also not economists, military strategists, healthcare policy professionals, gynecologists, teachers, and Biblical scholars.

If these white men (because they are almost all white men) are unwilling to accept the findings of the vast majority of scientists who assert that climate change is both real and man made because they are not scientists themselves, then they must also renounce themselves from decisions involving the economy, monetary policy, the military, the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, Medicaid, abortion, contraception, education, and any policy enacted in accordance or alignment with Biblical principles.

Eerily similar. Right?

Despite the similarities, I don’t think that Slate editors are stealing my ideas. I have an enormous respect for the work that Slate does, and I recently began playing a small role in Slate’s podcasting empire. I am a tiny fish in an enormous pool of ideas. People have similar ideas all the time.

I guess I’m just quicker to the idea than these particular writers at Slate.

Still, it’s oddly coincidental. Right?

“I’m not a scientist” is a perfectly acceptable response to climate change questions, as long as you’re willing to acknowledge everything else that you are not.

Republicans who have found the denial of climate change too ridiculous and inconvenient to continue to perpetuate have turned to a new strategy. In response to questions about climate change, they have adopted a single sentence sound byte that they are repeating with disturbing regularity.

“I’m not a scientist.”

“I can’t comment on climate change because I’m not a scientist.”

“I’m not qualified to make determinations about climate change because I’m not a scientist.”

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This remark might seem genuine and even thoughtful and measured if it wasn’t being repeated with the frequency of a car alarm in New York City. Republicans everywhere have clearly been given this phrase as a talking point and are using it with great abandon, as Stephen Colbert points out in this segment.

Despite the sudden and overwhelming use of this sound byte as a means of doing nothing about climate change, I’m willing to accept these Republican’s admission of ignorance as long as they are willing to also admit that they are also not:

  • economists
  • military strategists
  • healthcare policy professionals
  • gynecologists
  • teachers
  • Biblical scholars

If these white men (because that is primarily who they are) are unwilling to accept the findings of the vast majority of scientists who assert that climate change is both real and man made because they are not scientists themselves, then they must also renounce themselves from decisions involving the economy, monetary policy, the military, the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, Medicaid, abortion, contraception, education, and any policy enacted in accordance or alignment with Biblical principles.

This is what Democrats need to be saying every time they hear a Republican say, “I’m not a scientist.”

“Yes, but you’re not an economist, either. And yet you seem to be acting like you know something about the economy.”

“Sure, but you’re not an expert on teaching or being a woman or fighting a war, either. So shut the hell up with it comes to those things, too.”

“If you can’t act on the advice of the majority of scientists because you yourself are not a scientist, then you can’t quote the Bible either when defending bans on same sex marriage or just your own bigotry. You probably haven’t even read the thing cover to cover, and even if you have, that doesn’t make you a Biblical scholar.”

I have yet to hear a Democrat respond aggressively or appropriately to this ridiculous sound byte. Perhaps Democrats have and I have yet to hear it, but I couldn’t find an adequate response through a Google search.

Stupidity cannot go unchallenged or it becomes doctrine.

And while people like Stephen Colbert do a fine job of bringing this issue to light and pointing out the lunacy and virus-like spread of these four words, talk show hosts are not enough. Elected leaders must stand up against this ridiculous blanket of words that climate change deniers and ignorers are suddenly wrapping themselves in. 

The demographics of the Republican Party are astounding.

There are currently 278 Republicans in both the House and Senate.

Every single one of them is a Christian.

Just 23 are women.

There is one African-American. That African-American, Tim Scott of South Carolina, was not elected. He was appointed to fill a vacant seat by the state’s governor.   

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In fact, the only black Republicans to Congress since 1900 have been Oscar De Priest of Illinois, Gary Franks of Connecticut, Tim Scott of South Carolina, J.C. Watts of Oklahoma, and Allen West of Florida.

Five black Republicans have been elected to Congress in the past in 114 years.

I had no idea.

I am not a Republican, but if the Republicans hope to have any influence over the political system in a near future where whites are no longer in the majority and the country is vastly more diverse, they will need to find a way to elect non-white, more religiously diverse members to Congress.

They need to find a way to do so today. While the Democrats demographics are not exactly admirable, of the 255 Democrats currently in Congress:

  • 101 are women
  • 43 are African Americans
  • 36 are non-Christians

Nothing to brag about, but also not appalling.

I still can’t believe these numbers.