Friday, October 6, 2017

Last Call For Trump's War On Women, Con't

Donald Trump has failed to repeal Obamacare, but it doesn't mean he can't sabotage it from the inside out.  Today, the regime has all but ended contraception coverage requirements for employee health plans and will allow pretty much all employers to drop coverage of birth control, effective now.

The Trump administration is relaxing an Obama-era requirement that nearly all employers offer health insurance that covers a wide array of contraceptive methods. 
New regulations released Friday significantly broaden the types of companies and organizations that can request an exemption from that rule. This could lead to many American women who currently receive no-cost contraception having to pay out of pocket for their medication. 
The new rules take effect immediately. And they allow large, publicly traded companies to seek an exemption from the birth control requirement if they have a religious or moral objection to providing such coverage. The Obama administration barred these large businesses from such exemptions. 
“This provides an exemption, a limited one, for those with religious or moral convictions implicated by the contraceptive mandate,” an HHS official said in a Friday morning briefing with reporters previewing the rule. 
HHS projects that “99.9 percent of women” will be unaffected by these changes but gave little explanation of how it came to that data point. Officials did note that only a few hundred small businesses have so far raised religious or moral objections against the requirement by filing lawsuits. 
But it is possible that larger publicly traded companies could join their ranks as the exemption gets widened. And the rule itself is blunt about the possible effect, noting that “These final rules will result in some enrollees in plans of exempt entities not receiving coverage or payments for contraceptive services.”

Which is the point.  Your boss now gets to control whether or not the company's health coverage will cover contraception.  I would imagine a number of small businesses would jump at the chance, and don't be surprised if Fortune 1000 companies follow suit.

The worst news is that the legal battle that is coming may already have been lost.

Women’s health groups, including the National Women’s Law Center and the Center for Reproductive Rights, have been preparing to file lawsuits against the regulation, based on an earlier draft that Vox obtained in late May. 
The new rules have been designed specifically to guard against those expected challenges, a source familiar with their drafting told Vox. The Trump administration technically released two separate rules: one broadening the religious exemption and one creating a new moral exemption from the mandate. The reason is that if a court were to strike down one rule in a lawsuit, the other would likely still stand. 
“Bifurcating the rule into two separate parts is like a severability clause on steroids,” Nicholas Bagley, a health law professor at the University of Michigan, said. “It's signaling in the strongest possible terms that the agency independently wants both parts of the rule to remain in place, even if one, or part of one, is invalidated.” 
That strategy should be effective, forcing opponents to chase two targets. “The courts,” Bagley said, “will almost certainly respect that policy choice.”

It's not looking good at this point, especially as House Republicans passed a federal 20-week abortion ban.

It might be time to break out the red dresses and white habits sooner rather than later.

Tim Murphy's Law, Con't

Looks like Murphy's Law caught up with Pennsylvania Republican Tim Murphy in a gigantic way after the story of multiple affairs and at least one request for a mistress to get an abortion (a big no-no if you're a MAGA Republican) broke earlier in the week.

Now Murphy's career appears to be completely over, ending in his resignation from Congress and rumors of campaign finance violations, abuse of staffers, and more.

Rep. Tim Murphy, a staunch anti-abortion advocate, thought he could withstand the media furor that engulfed him after reports that he’d encouraged his extramarital lover to end her apparent pregnancy. 
He was wrong. 
Just one day after announcing he would retire after the 2018 election, Murphy reversed course and told Speaker Paul Ryan he was resigning effective Oct. 21. Murphy’s abrupt decision ended a 15-year career on Capitol Hill in a shocking manner. The 65-year-old Pennsylvania Republican was so safe in his conservative district that Democrats hadn’t even fielded an opponent against him during the past two election cycles. 
Ironically, Murphy’s swift collapse came not because of text messages he sent to a woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair, encouraging her to have an abortion as first reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Tuesday. In fact, fears among senior Republicans about a potential wave of negative stories on how Murphy ran his congressional office were what ultimately pushed him out the door. 
Multiple top House Republicans during the past 24 hours pressured Murphy to resign once it became clear that the House Ethics Committee might have to investigate allegations tied to his reported mistreatment of staffers. Numerous GOP sources were aware of systemic problems in Murphy’s office, including high staff turnover, which had been the topic of gossip and speculation for years. 
The Post-Gazette had reported on a June 2017 memo in which Murphy’s longtime chief of staff, Susan Mosychuk, warned the Pennsylvania Republican that he was mistreating and “harassing” staff, causing 100 percent turnover. 
But Mosychuk is a source of controversy herself. 
A number of former Murphy staffers told POLITICO that it was Mosychuk’s behavior that drove them to leave Murphy's office. And these ex-aides said the combination of Murphy and Mosychuk — who had a close personal relationship, according to GOP lawmakers and staffers — made the situation intolerable. Mosychuk was promoted to Murphy’s chief of staff in 2004, just a year after becoming his legislative director.

This story is a mess: both Mosychuk and Murphy were apparently awful to their employees and staffers left in droves only to be replaced and the new people leaving as well.

Ex-staffers said Mosychuk kept white noise machines throughout Murphy’s congressional office so constituents waiting in the front room couldn’t hear her screaming. If Mosychuk was angry at staffers, she would make them take the stairs instead of the elevator, so they couldn’t ride with her, according to one former employee who witnessed it. 
Mosychuk would even call staffers out of their bathroom breaks to demand they return to the office, or yell at them for taking too long to use the restroom. Many younger aides did not take lunch breaks, eating at their desks because they were scolded for leaving. One new employee quit after just a couple days because he was dressed down for using a paper clip instead of a staple on a briefing packet, multiple sources said. 
“It was one of the worst places I have ever worked in my life. There was screaming. Intimidation. Nothing you ever did was right,” Nick Rodondo, Murphy’s former district director, told Pittsburgh radio station KDKA’s “Marty Griffin Show.” 
Rodondo said the two of them were fond of each other — he said he saw them feed each other at events — but terrible to many others. 
“Susan Mosychuk was no better than [Murphy]. She wrote that memo to cover her butt," he continued. "I know, Marty. I know what these people are like. To call them creeps is an affront to creeps.”

This went from normal Republican hypocrisy to full-blown meltdown in just a couple of days, and believe me, I'm glad to see Murphy gone.  Democrats absolutely need to find a way to get this seat back in the Age of Trump if they're ever going to take back the House.

Iran It Into The Ground

Tang the Conqueror is about to unilaterally blow up President Obama's Iranian nuclear deal, wrecking our relations with the nations that supported us on the agreement and absolutely putting Iran on a North Korea-style path to a nuclear weapon.

President Trump plans to announce next week that he will “decertify” the international nuclear deal with Iran, saying it is not in the national interest of the United States and kicking the issue to a reluctant Congress, people briefed on an emerging White House strategy for Iran said Thursday. 
The move would mark the first step in a process that could eventually result in the resumption of U.S. sanctions against Iran, which would blow up a deal limiting Iran’s nuclear activities that the country reached in 2015 with the U.S. and five other nations. 
Trump is expected to deliver a speech, tentatively scheduled for Oct. 12, laying out a larger strategy for confronting the nation it blames for terrorism and instability throughout the Middle East.

Under what is described as a tougher and more comprehensive approach, Trump would open the door to modifying the landmark 2015 agreement he has repeatedly bashed as a raw deal for the United States. But for now he would hold off on recommending that Congress reimpose sanctions on Iran that would abrogate the agreement, said four people familiar with aspects of the president’s thinking.

Remember, the US didn't go into this alone, all five permanent members of the UN Security Council supported this deal, plus Germany (the so-called P5+1) which means if we sink the deal, we leave them in the lurch too.

That would start a 60-day congressional review period to consider the next steps for the United States. On its own, the step would not break the agreement among Iran, the United States and other world powers, but would start a clock on resuming sanctions that the United States had lifted as its part of the deal.

The administration has begun discussing possible legislation to “strengthen” the agreement, congressional aides and others said. That is the “fix it or nix it” approach suggested by both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), a leading Republican hawk on Iran.

It is an uncertain prospect, and many supporters of the deal consider it a dodge.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said last month that he will not reopen the deal for negotiation. 
Separately, representatives of Iran, China and Russia told Secretary of State Rex Tillerson the same thing during a meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session, two senior diplomats familiar with that meeting said.

So the deal would fall apart for sure, and there would be no reason for anyone to trust the Trump regime or the word of the US again in future negotiations, not that anyone would after Trump sank the Paris Climate Agreement.

We're rapidly joining the ranks of international pariahs, easily making us the most dangerous rogue state on Earth with our massive military and huge nuclear arsenal, not to mention our dangerous loose cannon of a leader.

As I've said before, when does the rest of the world move to act to contain us?


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