Healthcare On Life Support, Russia Retaliates

Swamp News: Several Republican senators, including Arizona’s John McCain, announced their opposition yesterday to the “skinny repeal” bill designed to cripple Obamacare, bringing the Republicans’ seven-year effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act to the brink of death.

But like the psycho-killer in a summer camp movie, it just might come back.

Senate leaders are assuring their members that passage of the “skinny” bill is just a way to have a proposal to reconcile with the House health care bill, but the handful of reluctant senators say they are not willing to take a jump in the dark. — The Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill, mirroring a similar law from the House, placing severe sanctions on Russia and limiting the President’s authority to remove or mitigate them. This puts the President in the position of vetoing the bill or accepting sanctions he doesn’t want.

In retaliation already, Russia today seized two US diplomatic properties and ordered that the US embassy staff in Moscow must be reduced by September.

The Justice Files: The Justice Department has filed papers in a New York civil case arguing that a major federal civil rights law does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating based on “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” It does not specifically list sexual orientation, and that’s been a matter of debate.

The brief was filed in a case brought by Donald Zarda, a sky diving instructor who told a female student that he was gay, upsetting her husband who complained to the company. Zarda was fired and sued his employer, citing Title VII.

The Justice Department brief says that, as the country’s largest employer, the federal government has a “substantial and unique interest” in the outcome of the case and the interpretation of Title VII. It seems that they want the latitude to fire gay employees.

A ruling in favor of the Justice Department position would also support President Trump’s order to eliminate transgender people from the military, which is the next story in the queue.

In Transition: The military announced that it will continue to allow trans-gender people to serve until the White House clarifies President Trump’s declaration that trans people are not welcome and the Defense Department issues guidelines for implementation.

The NY Times reports that Defense Secretary James Mattis was “appalled” when notified of the announcement one day in advance while he was on vacation. Reuters quotes an anonymous officer saying, “I hope our commander in chief understands that we don’t transmit orders via Twitter, and that he can’t, either.”

Scout’s Honor: After several days of outrage from scouting families and alumni, the chief of the Boy Scouts of America did yesterday what President Trump probably never will; apologize for the President’s inappropriate political remarks at the scout jamboree. Michael Surbaugh said in a statement, “I want to extend my sincere apologies to those in our Scouting family who were offended by the political rhetoric that was inserted into the jamboree.” He added, “We sincerely regret that politics were inserted into the Scouting program.”

Tony the Plumber: The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza writes that he received an obscenity-laced phone call from rookie White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, who wanted to know the source of a report that the Mooch had dinner with the President, Sean Hannity of Fox, and a former Fox executive.

According to Lizza, Scaramucci accused Trump adviser Steve Bannon and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, whom he called a “fucking paranoid schizophrenic.” Nice.

Lizza writes that Scaramucci demanded, “Who leaked that to you?” as if any reporter would just blow up his source. Lizza declined to say.

Lizza continues, Scaramucci then threatened to fire everyone on the communications staff. Lizza writes, “I laughed, not sure if he really believed that such a threat would convince a journalist to reveal a source. He continued to press me and complain about the staff he’s inherited in his new job. ‘I ask these guys not to leak anything and they can’t help themselves,’ he said. ‘You’re an American citizen, this is a major catastrophe for the American country. So I’m asking you as an American patriot to give me a sense of who leaked it.’”

As a patriotic American journalist, Lizza refused to say.

Editor’s Apology: We are sincerely sorry that all of today’s news is about what’s going on in Washington, but Brad and Angelina are already divorced.

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Friday, November 24, 2017

Page Two

Jaw Meet Floor

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Small President

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Cuba Diaries

Sunday, March 13, 2016

An Alphabet of Maladies

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Healthcare Confusion Act

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Freedom from Speech

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Too Big to Fire

Friday, June 19, 2015

More Probable Than Not

Thursday, May 14, 2015

It's Been Said

"One of the things that actually Trump has benefited from is that, on a daily if not hourly basis, there are things he says that you could never have imagined any other American president -- left, right, up or down -- saying, and they kind of bleed into each other. And you sort of forget, 'Oh, yes, 72 hours ago, he said this...'"

-Jeff Greenfield on CNN’s "Reliable Sources"

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