Friday, December 16, 2022

Will Lehman, Great Grandma Pelosi Moneybags, COVID 19

First up, from Will Lehman:

I'm really getting tired of Great Grandma Nancy attacking reporters -- especially female ones.

Today, the 82 year old was asked if she planned to serve the full two years she'd just been elected to and she barked at the female reporter "What is this!  What is this!  Don't bother me with a question like that!  Really!  Really. Okay.  I said what I'm going to do. You know, those kind of questions are such a waste of my time." 

When you don't do debates (Nancy hasn't debated this century) when you run for office, when you don't do townhalls very often, the press is the only way the people have to hold you accountable.  How typical of Great Granny Money Bags to think she's better than the public.  And how typical of her to spit on a woman working a real job.  Money Bags never worked a day in her life.  And her actual legacy?  Presiding over the demise of Roe V Wade.

She's being asked because supposedly her daughter Christina -- no experience -- wants the seat and so Nancy may retire early so that her daughter can be appointed to it.

In other news, Covid did not end.  It is still with us.  Many areas are seeing increases in the last weeks.  The White House issued the following statement:

Administration to focus efforts on making vaccinations, testing, and treatments even more widely available and accessible as COVID-19 cases increase

Today, the Biden Administration is announcing a plan to stay ahead of an increase in COVID-19 cases this winter. While COVID-19 is not the disruptive force it once was, the virus continues to evolve, and cases are on the rise again as families are spending more time indoors and gathering for the holidays. Throughout the COVID-19 response, this Administration has been prepared for whatever the virus throws our way – and this moment is no different.

The Administration’s COVID-19 Winter Preparedness Plan includes:

Expanding easy access to free COVID-19 testing options in the winter. COVID-19 testing is an important tool to help mitigate and slow the spread of the virus. The Administration is encouraging Americans to use at-home COVID-19 tests when they have symptoms of COVID-19, before and after traveling for the holidays, or visiting indoors with immunocompromised or vulnerable individuals. The Administration has made free COVID-19 testing widely available and easily accessible. This includes providing over 15,000 free community testing sites nationwide, covering over-the-counter tests under Medicare, and requiring all health insurance plans to cover eight free at-home tests per month per individual, which can be easily accessed at local pharmacies and online. Ahead of continued increases in cases, the Administration is taking new action to ensure that all Americans have easy and free access to COVID-19 tests in the winter months.

  • Making free at-home, rapid COVID-19 tests available through The Administration is announcing that is open for a limited round of ordering this winter. Starting today, all U.S. households can order a total of four at-home COVID-19 tests that will be mailed directly to them for free. In the absence of Congress providing additional funding for the nation’s COVID-19 response, the Administration has acted with its limited existing funding to add more at-home COVID-19 tests to the nation’s stockpile and support this round of ordering ahead of continued increases in COVID-19 cases. Orders for this round of testing will begin to ship starting the week of December 19th and continue in the weeks ahead. The Administration will also make tests available to individuals who are blind or have low-vision through this program. People who have difficulty accessing the internet or need additional support placing an order can call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489) to get help in English, Spanish, and more than 150 other languages – 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. E.T., Monday to Friday and 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. E.T. on weekends. For more information, people can visit  

  • Distributing more free tests to Americans at trusted locations. In addition to continuing to support access to free COVID-19 tests in schools, community health centers, rural health clinics, long-term care facilities, and other convenient locations, the Administration is announcing additional distribution programs to reach people with free, at-home tests. This includes distributing free at-home tests at more than 6,500 Department of Housing and Urban Development-assisted rental housing properties serving seniors; and expanding a program to distribute free at-home tests to as many as 500 major food banks for them to distribute to people in their communities.

Making vaccinations and treatments readily available to all Americans as cases rise. As we have throughout the pandemic, the federal government continues to leverage all capabilities to support state, local, territorial, and Tribal communities to prepare for, prevent, and respond to increased incidence of COVID-19. That includes working with states, medical providers, businesses, and other groups to expand awareness about updated COVID-19 vaccines, highly effective treatments, and resources to stand up additional vaccination sites and other delivery options to make it easier and more convenient to get vaccinations and treatments.

  • Offering resources and assistance to increase vaccinations and respond to a possible surge. Today, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra is sending a letter to all governors outlining key actions that he would like state leaders to take as they prepare for increased cases and hospitalizations this winter, and reminding them of federal supports that are available for their COVID-19 responses. This includes setting up additional mobile and pop-up vaccination sites, surge testing sites, as well as Test to Treat sites where Americans can not only get tested for free, but also can get prescribed and dispensed safe, effective COVID-19 treatments right on site if they test positive and treatment is appropriate for them.
  • Collaborating with communities to open pop-up and/or mobile vaccination sites. Communities across the nation are answering the call to expand vaccine access through the increased presence of mobile and pop-up vaccination clinics. This includes efforts in Los Angeles County to open up to 800 pop-up clinics per week; expanded use of mobile vaccination, testing, and treatment units, as well as outbound vaccine and treatment calls to people age 65 and older, at-home administration of vaccines and free home delivery of treatments in New York City; and an increase in Chicago’s at-home vaccine administration program, which provides vaccines for up to 10 people per visit in their place of residence. The Administration has been engaging jurisdictions on the availability of federal resources to continue and increase these efforts, including through use of flexible single-dose vials, and will continue to engage state, local, Tribal, and territorial leaders in the weeks ahead.
  • Getting additional resources to community health centers and aging and disability networks to support COVID-19 vaccination efforts. The Administration for Community Living is awarding $125 million to support community-based organizations in the aging and disability networks to hold accessible vaccine clinics and provide in-home vaccinations, transportation, and other supportive services to increase COVID-19 vaccinations for older adults and people with disabilities.

Preparing personnel and resources. Together with states, we will monitor the impacts of variants, cases, and hospitalizations on our communities and – should it become necessary – escalate our support to states and communities. The Administration stands ready with federal capabilities to support urgent needs as they present, including through clinical staffing, personal protective equipment and supplies, and technical assistance. 

Readying clinical personnel for deployment as needed to support jurisdictions. The Administration continues to make federal teams and medical personnel available to alleviate strains on hospitals and health care systems through the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS’) Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR), the U.S. Public Health Services Corps, and the Department of Defense. Federal agencies can also help offer support for states to take actions, such as providing more flexibility to hospitals balancing patients and staffing, exercising telemedicine options, pursuing staffing options such as contracts, and employing the National Guard to help alleviate strains on health and medical facilities.  

  • Pre-positioning critical supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile. Tanks to the President’s leadership, the U.S. government has hundreds of millions of N-95 masks, billions of gloves, tens of millions of gowns, and over 100,000 ventilators stored in the Strategic National Stockpile—all ready to ship out if and when states need them. The Administration has pre-positioned these supplies in strategic locations across the country so that we can send them to states that need them immediately.
  • Closely monitoring emerging variants and assessing their potential impacts on testing, treatments and vaccines. This winter, federal agencies will continue to monitor Omicron subvariants and the spread of any other emerging variants of the virus in the United States. This includes genomic surveillance of specimens from representative populations to detect new variants and to monitor trends in currently circulating variants. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tracks and reports on genomic sequencing results from a variety of sources, including public health and commercial laboratories.  CDC also recently expanded variant reporting from additional sources, including wastewater and through international air travel. The Traveler-Based Genomic Surveillance Program currently collects samples from international air travelers arriving from more than 25 countries at several major U.S. airports. This data, which provides an early warning system for detection of variants and trends over time, is publicly shared on the CDC COVID-19 Data Tracker.

Focusing on protecting the highest-risk Americans.
 As we have done since the beginning of the Administration, we remain focused on meeting the needs and protecting Americans at highest risk of severe illness from COVID-19. This includes residents of nursing homes and other congregate care facilities, where we know vaccination rates remain too low. This also includes older Americans, individuals who are immunocompromised, disabled individuals, and others who face a higher risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.   

  • Releasing a winter playbook for nursing homes and long-term care facilities. The Administration will release a winter playbook for administrators of nursing homes and long-term care facilities that summarizes the actions these facilities should take to reduce serious illness, prevent hospitalizations and deaths, and minimize disruptions in their communities. Nursing homes often serve residents at great risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19, and congregate care settings have an increased risk of spread of respiratory infections. All facilities should take concrete actions to ensure that every resident is educated on and offered an updated COVID-19 shot; that every resident who tests positive for COVID-19 is evaluated and offered treatment; and that every facility is taking steps to improve its indoor air quality.
  • Expanding the pool of providers that may administer COVID-19 vaccinations. In addition to working with their partners, staff at nursing homes will now be able to administer COVID-19 vaccines to all residents. HHS will work with states to launch teams and use partner with their Quality Improvement Organizations (QIOs), home health agencies, and Emergency Medical Technicians to deliver vaccines to residents of long-term care facilities. On December 1, 2022, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) also added COVID-19 vaccination rates of health care staff and the residents at these facilities to the “Measures under Consideration” list, the list of measures it will potentially consider for certain Medicare quality payment programs, reinforcing its commitment to increased vaccination and improving outcomes for patients.
  • Reaching out to governors on nursing home vaccinations. In Secretary Becerra’s letter to governors reminding them of available federal COVID-19 supports, he also highlighted how their states are performing as compared to their peers on vaccinating residents of long-term care facilities, and asked governors for their assistance and partnership in increasing COVID-19 vaccination rates for long-term care residents and staff. CMS leadership will also be reaching out to the jurisdictions with the lowest vaccination rates at these long-term care facilities to remind them of what additional steps they can take to increase vaccination rates among seniors and long-term care facility residents.
  • Encouraging hospitals to offer COVID-19 vaccinations to patients before discharge. HHS leadership, including Secretary Becerra, has called upon hospitals through direct outreach to vaccinate their unvaccinated patients or make sure they are up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccinations before they are discharged, especially if they are heading to a nursing home.
  • Expanding access to high-quality masks in communities. In January 2022, HHS made up to 400 million N-95 respirators from the Strategic National Stockpile available through tens of thousands of locations including pharmacies and grocery stores, so Americans could have convenient, free access to high-quality masks. About 270 million masks were sent out as part of this initiative, with many still available in stores nationwide. To expand access to these high-quality masks, HHS will offer guidance to participating pharmacies and grocery stores on how they can to work with local health clinics, aging and disability networks, community-based organizations, and health departments to distribute these masks more widely, so that any spare inventory can be utilized through distribution to even more locations.
  • Ensuring that every individual has a plan for COVID-19 this winter. With updated COVID-19 vaccines, at-home tests, and effective oral antiviral treatments widely available, the Administration encourages every individual American to have a plan for how to prevent and respond to COVID-19 this winter. CDC has launched a COVID-19 Personal Action Plan, an easy-to-use guide for individuals, caregivers, and clinicians that helps guide individuals through making a plan for where to access free tests, the location of their closest Test to Treat site, and what to ask their provider on treatments if they test positive. The Personal Action Plan helps lay these steps out in an easy-to-use template so that all Americans – especially those at highest risk for severe illness – can decrease the risk of COVID-19 and, if they become infected, have a plan to quickly seek out treatment and avoid its worst outcomes.


This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapsot' for Thursday:

Thursday, December 15, 2022.  The House Oversight and Reform Committee held a hearing on violence against LGBTQ+ members.

We'll start with this.

Michael Anderson:  I was bartending that evening when the attack began.  I felt more terrified than I ever have before.  I ran for my life that night and hid -- praying and hoping the violence would end.  When I stared down the barrel of that gun, I realized I stood no chance against a weapon of that power, magazine capacity, and seemingly automatic firing rate.  While I prepared for my life to end in that moment, I prayed.  I panicked.  And I prayed some more.  God must have heard my prayers because two brave men stopped the shooter moments before he would have inevitably found me.  I saw my friend lying on the floor, bleeding out, knowing there was little to no chance of surviving the bullet wound.  I had to tell him goodbye while I continued to fear for my life, not knowing if the attack was truly over.

James Slaugh: The events of November 19th were a nightmare come true.  Right before midnight, on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance, my boyfriend Jancarlos and I were about to leave when a shooter walked in.  Several POPs rang out and I immediately felt a searing pain in my arm.  I fell over knowing I had been shot.  My right arm wasn't working but I was able to call 911.  I saw everyone on the ground, glass panes shattered and blood running from my arm and chest where shrapnel had come through.  Jancarlos was next to me, shot in the leg, but thankfully alive.  To my horror though, I saw my sister bleeding out.  She had been shot over five times. My heart rended ed as she tried to dial 911 with her good arm.  I called out to her and I heard no response.  I don't want to imagine what may have happened had the shooter not been taken down.  Five wonderful people were still murdered and may we never forget their names 

Matthew Haynes: When I opened Club Q twenty years ago, Colorado Springs was a very different place.  There were picketers greeting our opening.  I'm proud to have remained in Colorado Springs over the years -- even when we did not feel welcome.  Club ! has been a home for the community for 20 years.  We are proud to say it will once again become the home for our community.  One man full of hate will not destroy us.  Club Q is for everyone regardless of who they love and how they present, regardless if this is different than how you or I may love.  LGBTQ venues and small business across our nation are extensions of family for us all.  And, for many, they are the only places we can find acceptance.  Club Q will need all the resources available to help us rebuild what was stolen from us.

Michael, James and Matthew survived last month's shooting at Club Q.  The three were testifying before The House Committee on Oversight and Reform.  US House Rep Carolyn Maloney is the Chair of the Committee.  

Carolyn leaves Congress next month.  She was first sworn in in January of 1993.  She used her last weeks in Congress to focus on a very important issue -- at least important to most people.  It wasn't important to any Republican on the Committee and I do have to wonder if they're unaware that they have members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies of the community in their districts?  It would be great if, in 2024, these 'representatives' could be voted out. 

  • Daniel Davis Aston, 28
  • Kelly Loving, 40
  • Ashley Paugh, 35
  • Derrick Rump, 38
  • Raymond Green Vance, 22

The shooting also left twenty-five people injured.

Michael, James and Matthew made up the first panel before the Committee.  The second panel was made up of Human Rights Campaign's Kelley Robinson, Pulse Nightclub shooting survivor Brandon Wolf, National Center for Transgender Equality's Oliva Hunt, Inside Out Youth Services' Jessie Pocock and The Williams Institute's Ilan Meyer.

We'll note this exchange:

Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney:  The violence that took place at Club Q follows years of long efforts by some state lawmakers to erase LGBTQ+ people from school curriculum, limit their access to healthcare and undermine their ability to fully participate in society.  Now state lawmakers are not alone.  They're have been many actions here in Congress pushing the same kind of draconian, extremist policies.  For example, more than 30 House Republicans introduced their own version of Florida's "Don't Say Gay or Trans" law which would restrict federal funding for schools that include LGBTQ+ people in their curriculum.  I'd like to ask Ms. Robinson: How would a federal policy suppress even mentioning LGBTQ+ persons in classrooms further undermine the ability of LGBTQ+ Americans to live authentically and safely?  Ms. Robinson?

Kelley Robinson: Thank you for the question.  And it's so critically important what we teach our kids matters.  We're teaching curriculum that not only shows how important history is and what we can be in the future but also what we value, who matters, who deserves dignity and respect.  If we erase LGBTQ+ people from the curriculum, it erases a value in our lives.  As Brandon said, this is our opportunity to be better and we can do that.  And it starts with how we educate our children.  And I also want to be clear that when we allow the pieces of legislation to move forward that erase our communities, that dehumanize us, what it does is create a dangerous environment that does support and feed these seeds of hatred that exist in our world.  It's not only dangerous, it's violent to our people. 

Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney:  Thank you.  Ms. Pocock, what would a federal "Don't Say Gay or Trans" law mean for the LGBTQ+ youth navigating their communities across the country from your experience?

Jessie Pocock: Yes, you know, we worked really hard on a similar "Don't Say Gay" bill that was being proposed in our, uh, in our state and, you know, the truth is that we all need mentors and examples that we can grow into and see ourselves in.  And when our -- When we as a nation are hiding our faces or our experiences or our contributions to this nation, it really impacts young people and their ability to see others like them and their ability to learn how we've contributed to this nation.  But more than that, it's erasure and it hurts.  And so our young people tell us that what they see and hear and feel when school board members or politicians are advocating to erase them is that they feel like they don't belong.  They feel like their public schools are not for them.  And so it is so critically important that we are always cheering these young people on.  And one real simple way to do that is to give them access to folks like me and those of us on the panel who are LGBTQ and incredible human beings in this world because they can be too. They just need us to support them and show them how. 

Committee Chair Carolyn Mahoney:  Thank you.  Following the enactment of Florida's "Don't Say Gay or Trans" law, anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric on social media surged by more than 400%.  Astonishingly. Dr Meyer, what is the relationship between this surge and anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and the kind of violence that took place at Club Q last month?

Dr Ilan Meyer:  I think it was mentioned already in the panel, this kind of incitement encourages people to enact what they think is righteous because of religious convictions and other types of ideologies that are portrayed on social media wrongly and clearly this is creating an environment where such violence is seen as not only acceptable but, as I said, righteous and desirable and causing LGBT people a lot of harm -- not only in the -- those of them who actually experience violence, but also everybody in the community who witnesses it,

 A note.  Many Democrats in the hearing use LGBTQIA.  Some used the more common LGBTQ or LGBTQ+.  I myself haven't used LGBTQAI here.  It stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Asexual.  That's an expansive term and it's good to expand.  We'll try to use it here in the future.  

Let's move to two idiots.  First, Yvette Herrell.  She showed up for a moment in the hearing and completely misunderstood everything had been said -- most importantly when she completely distorted Dr Meyer's remarks, twisted them to make them something he never said.  I am not going to sully his reputation by repeating her nonsense here.  She also didn't understand basic English as evidenced by her distortion of what Dr Pocock was speaking of.  (Or maybe her staff just wrote her poor crib notes -- she wasn't present for the remarks from either that she elected to comment on.)

Another idiot?  Ranking Member James Comer used the hearing to repeatedly play a victim.  Most infamously where he all but sobbed while proclaiming of the hearing:

Unfortunately, Democrats are using Committee time and resources today to blame Republicans for this horrendous crime.  This is not an oversight hearing.  This is a "blame Republicans so we don't have to take responsibility" for our own defund the police and soft on crime politics.



Defund the police and soft on crime policies?

Let's, for the sake of argument, insist that's true.

What the hell does that have to do with the shooting?

Three patrons of the bar -- Richard M. Fierro, Thomas James and an unidentified trans woman -- took the shooter out.  This wasn't a case where the police were outside the club waiting to come in.  Does Comer really believe what he said?  If so, can he pass a drug screen?

If he can't, that would explain the hair.  Did no one on his staff have a comb?  You can't get those cheap hair cuts and not comb.  I don't have to comb.  All I have to do is run my fingers through my hair.  But I pay for a good haircut.  The upper right side of his hair looked like he cut it himself.  And someone please tell him to sit on his jacket's coat tails or not to wear the jacket.  Is he that stupid?  Does he not know you sit on the jacket to get a crisp and clear line on the shoulders?

Comer also lost it during US House Rep Cori Bush's time.  

For those who don't know, unlike the Senate, members of the House have only five minutes each round for questioning and comments during a hearing.  Five minutes.   And any sensible person knows not to interrupt a committee member during their five minutes (five each round).  But there was Comer sputtering of Bush's remarks -- while she was speaking, "That -- that -- Madam Chair -- I mean, my G**."  If you're new here, out of respect for all, we do not allow what some see as blasphemy to go up here -- for any deity.  We always censor God if it's being used in vain.  That's why we're censoring Comer.  I'll also add that I believe he was using the name in vain.  I could be wrong.  You could also read it as he was calling Carolyn Maloney his God.  I don't think that's the case but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Not that he earned it.  

He gave an opening statement that was over 640 words long.  In it, he did manage to decry attacks on African-Americans, on "Asian communities, Jewish communities and Christian communities" on "churches and pro-life institution," on "all races and ethnicities"  . . .  He left "on Comet, on Cupid, on Donner and Blitzen."  

Know who else he left out?


That's what the hearing was about but in his opening remarks he did not note them.  (He referred to victims!  Yes, he did.  And, sorry, the victims included straight people.)  A hearing about violence against LGBTQ+ and Comer can whine about himself but can't say, even once, that attacks on LGBTQ+ are wrong.  "Republicans condemn violence in all forms," he insisted . . . while refusing to decry violence against that community.  Shameful.

He's full of it.

And everyone needs to grasp that.  Do not say, "Well he said all forms."  Yes, he did.  And then he went on to specify groupings, many, many groupings.  None of which were lesbians, gay men, bisexuals or transgenders.  That is reality.  Those were his own words and he wrote his opening statement out ahead of time.  He included every word he wanted.  He didn't want to include LGBTQ+.  Don't pretend otherwise unless you're an Aunty Gigi (a self-loathing closet case who is more worried about impressing straight conservatives than in defending his own rights and those of his family.  Aunty Gigi is best exemplified by Glenn Greenwald).

Let's also note that he looked like he wanted to puke when Michael Anderson testified the following:

To my fellow LGBTQ community, events like this are designed to discourage us from speaking and living our truth.  They are designed to scare us from living openly, courageously and proudly.  We must not succumb to fear, we must live prouder and louder than ever before.  We must continue to be who we are, for who we are is exactly who we are meant to be.  And to the children watching this, feeling you may not be like other kids:  I understand you and I see you.  You deserve to be exactly who you are, no matter what anyone has to say.  In the words of my personal gay icon Christina Aguilera, you are beautiful no matter what they say.  Words can't bring you down, so don't let them bring you down today.

I'm sure the Aunty Gigis will insist that by not naming them, Comer was being kind -- after all so many others in his Republican Party trash them out right with one lie after another.  They'll pick the belly lint and be content pretending its chocolate covered cherries.  Too bad for Aunty Gigi, the rest of the country's not so pathetic.

Again, five people were killed in the attack on Club Q and twenty-five were injured (but how nice for Comer to try to make it all about himself).  James Slaugh spoke of his sister who was injured in the attack:

I have always struggled with my sexuality, not because I deny who I am, but because many others do -- because others want to hurt me for being me.  My coming out story involves my family and their support.  My sister Charlene paved the way for me to accept myself.  After she was forced out of the closet and ultimately the house by our mom who -- at the time -- believed being gay was a sin, our household went through a transformation.  In the end, love won, as it always will.  Our mom became loving and accepting.  She chose her children and it was this road to my sister and I had to endure that allowed me to feel safe enough to say, 'Hey, Mom, I like guys.'  She recently passed.  But before she did, for the past 15 years, she has been an advocate for our community, especially in her religious circles.

Comer was imitated by his fellow Republicans on the Committee.  Virginia Foxx, Fred Keller, Jody Hice also couldn't say gay or trans -- maybe they thought were in a Florida school?  

Couldn't mention the L or the G or the B or the T or the Q.

We need to note Glenn Grothman because he did say "gay."  He truly did.  Speaking of people murdered in the US this year, he decalred, "I assume some of them were gay -- I don't know."  


He didn't know.

I guess that passes for compassion and awareness for Republicans on the Committee.

It was funny to watch the Republicans run from the terms.  Jody Hice, for example, freaking out and frothing about how people "blame Republicans for these attacks" without ever saying who the attacks were on.


Hice did say that "the rise of hate crimes concerns me, it concerns all of us" and went on to identify the "hate crimes" as mean people who said Trump staffers should have difficulty finding employment.

Yes, that is the great hate crime, Hice, you nailed it.  

And he offered this statement -- without saying who said it or whom it was said to -- as an example of a hate crime, "You're all trash.  I hate you and I wish you harm."

Jody, when your wife speaks to you like that, consider marital counseling.

Jody did manage to say, as he got really angry about someone being denied service at a food establishment, "This was not LGB community, this was Christians!''


Dr. Meyers tried to explain what a hate crime was during the hearing and it sailed right over the Republicans heads.


For other coverage of the hearing, see Ruth's "Allies are needed (House Oversight Committee)," Kat's "Respect for Marriage Act is only step one, more needed," "Cori Bush speaks some truth in Committee hearing," Trina's "LGBTQ youth need a safe nation (Dr. Jessie Pocock)," Mike's "Texas, come claim your idiot (House Oversight Committee)," Stan's "Shontel Brown, Chris Wallace, Wonder Woman" and Rebecca's "glenn greenwald wants to be the biggest bitch there is ."  

Let's not the Committee's press release on the hearing:

At Oversight Committee Hearing, Survivors of Anti-LGBTQI+ Violence Underscore Dangers of Anti-LGBTQI+ Extremism

Dec 14, 2022
Press Release
At Oversight Committee Hearing, Survivors of Anti-LGBTQI+ Violence Underscore Dangers of Anti-LGBTQI+ Extremism

Washington, D.C. (Dec. 14, 2022)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, held a hearing to examine how the surge of anti-LGBTQI+ policies advanced in legislatures across the country and the proliferation of extreme anti-LGBTQI+ rhetoric are fueling violence against LGBTQI+ people in the United States, including the mass shooting that took place at the LGBTQI+ nightclub, Club Q, in Colorado Springs last month.


“Last month, a person with an AR-15-style assault rifle entered Club Q—a nightclub that served as a haven for LGBTQI+ people in the Colorado Springs community—and opened fire on unsuspecting bar patrons and staff.  The attacker’s depravity robbed us of five innocent lives—Daniel Aston, Raymond Green Vance, Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh, and Derrick Rump,” said Chairwoman Maloney in her opening statement.  “Let us honor them by recommitting to the bold action necessary to ensure that every person in the United States can experience the freedom to live authentically and safely—regardless of who they love or how they identify.”  


The Committee heard testimony from Michael Anderson and James Slaugh, survivors of the deadly Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Matthew Haynes, founding owner of Club Q.  The Committee also heard testimony from Kelley Robinson, President of the Human Rights Campaign;  Brandon Wolf, survivor of the Pulse Nightclub shooting;  Olivia Hunt, Policy Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality;  Jessie Pocock, CEO and Executive Director of Inside Out Youth Services; and Ilan Meyer, Distinguished Senior Scholar for Public Policy at the Williams Instititue


Survivors of anti-LGBTQI+ violence and expert witnesses emphasized that Republicans’ extremist rhetoric and harmful policies have contributed to surging violence, intimidation, and an unprecedented rise in hate crimes against the LGBTQI+ community. 


  • Mr. Anderson testified: “It was places like gay bars and clubs that helped me embrace who I was and formed me into the man I am today … If you are fortunate enough to intimately know LGBTQ people, you will find some of the kindest, funniest, accepting, and most welcoming people. Those are the people that found a safe place in Club Q and deserve to once again have that safe space … I can still hear the rapid firing of bullets today.  It’s a sound I may never forget.  It’s a sound I hope no one here or anywhere else in this country has to hear.”


  • Mr. Haynes testified: “I know that we, our Club Q community, are in the thoughts and prayers of many of you.  Unfortunately, these thoughts and prayers alone are not saving lives. They are not changing the rhetoric of hate.  None of us ever imagined that our little bar in Colorado Springs would be the target of the next hate crime, and I again repeat that we were targeted for the next hate crime … When you take hate and access to military style assault weapons, putting those together is total carnage.”


  • Mr. Slaugh testified: “ I don’t want to imagine what may have happened if the shooter had not been taken down that night.  Five wonderful people were still murdered and may we never forget their names.  Ashley Paugh, Raymond Green Vance, Daniel Aston, Derrick Rump, and Kelly Loving.  We miss each of you.”    


  • Responding to Rep. Cicilline, Brandon Wolf testified:  “Words have consequences...people should be accountable for the things that come out of their mouths and when you’re willing to traffic in cheap shots and bigotry against a marginalized community that is already seeing hate against it on the rise, already seeing violence rising across the country, when you’re willing to traffic in those things to score political points, you have to be accountable for what happens next. you have to hold yourself accountable for the impacts of your words.


Witnesses detailed the growing list of harmful anti-LGBTQI+ policies championed by Republicans at every level of government and the ways in which they are undermining the ability of LGBTQI+ people to live authentically and without fear.


  • In response to a question from Rep. Bush about the proliferation of Republican bills targeting LGBTQI+ people, Ms. Robinson stated:  “It’s a crisis that we are experiencing.  We are trying to be able to live freely, safely, and wholly as our true selves in every aspect of life.  And what we see is continued legislative attacks paired with extremist rhetoric.  And when some of these bills are moving forward whether or not they are enacted, they have a devastating impact on our community.”


  • Responding to a question from Chairwoman Maloney about the threat of a federal “Don’t Say Gay” law, Ms. Robinson testified:  “When we allow these pieces of legislation to move forward, that erase our communities, that dehumanize us, what it does is create a dangerous environment that does support and feed these seeds of hatred that exist in our world. It’s not only dangerous, it’s violent to our people.”


  • Brandon Wolf explained the impact of Florida’s law limiting discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in schools:  “We’ve seen books being banned with LGBTQ characters across the state.  We’ve seen teachers being told to hide their family photos in their desks.  We've seen school districts like Miami Dade County refusing to recognize LGBTQ history month for instance, saying that it might violate the “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” law.  Those are just some of the impacts.  They’re weighing most heavily on LGBTQ families who fought really hard to see their loved ones recognized and respected.  It's weighing on teachers who are fleeing the profession, we have over 9,000 teacher vacancies in Florida in part because they’ve been undergoing character assassination over the last couple of years. And finally it’s weighing most heavily on LGBTQ young people.  The Trevor Project tells us that almost two thirds of trans young people are experiencing poorer mental health outcomes because of policies like House Bill 1557 in Florida.  So in short, the debate over the humanity of LGBTQ people is making life harder and less safe for people, especially in the state of Florida.”


  • In response to a question from Rep. Raskin on how extreme Republican laws affect the mental health and physical safety of LGBTQI+ youth, Ms. Hunt testified:  “When children are told that they’re not part of society, it teaches them that they don’t belong, that they are lesser-than, and that they are not as worthy as their classmates and as their peers.  And that’s not the message that we should ever be teaching to young children anywhere in this country.”


Witnesses and Democratic Members emphasized the need to take bold action to push back against extreme anti-LGBTQI+ policies and advance the health, safety, and rights of LGBTQI+ people


  • Responding to a question from Congresswoman Norton on the importance of the Equality Act, Mr. Wolf testified:  “It’s important because we are not afforded the same nondiscrimination protections as other people. I say this as a person in the state of Florida. One of the things we’ve worked on with Equality Florida for years is implementing comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people in our state, so what does that mean?  It means protecting people from being denied housing because we have a boyfriend, not a girlfriend.  It protects LGBTQ people from being fired because we have a picture of our spouse on the desk.”


  • Responding to questioning from Rep. Raskin, Ms. Pocock explained: “We know that when you build an inclusive classroom you have young folks who are more engaged, who are more likely to show up in school, and so the best thing that we can do is prevent negative outcomes by creating an inclusive classroom, an inclusive church, an inclusive home.  That is hands-down, the research shows, the very best thing we can do for young people.”



117th Congress

We may return to the topic tomorrow.  I've got enough my notes to do so and it was an important hearing.

Turning to Iraq, MIDDLE EAST EYE reports:

A coalition of anti-war groups and rights organisations have signed a letter urging congressional leadership to put forth a measure to repeal the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) for Iraq.

The letter, sent to senators Chuck Schumer, Mitch McConnell, and Patrick Leahy, as well as Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy, among others, urged the lawmakers to take action on what it referred to as a "long overdue repeal".

As of Wednesday, 37 organisations had signed the letter.

"Repealing this outdated and unnecessary law would constitute a basic act of constitutional hygiene while also ensuring that the 2002 Iraq AUMF cannot be misused to breathe new life into an unforeseen national security crisis, driven by an unchecked president," the letter said.

"This scenario has already played out once, in early 2020; there is nothing to prevent it playing out again, until Congress takes the 2002 Iraq AUMF off the books."

And we'll note CENTCOM issued the following:

Dec. 14, 2022

Release Number 20221214-10


BAGHDAD – On Dec. 13, Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, CENTCOM commander, visited Baghdad, where he met with Iraqi Prime Minister Shia’ Al-Sudani, Minister of Defense Thabet Mohammed Saeed, Chief of Defense Lieutenant Gen. Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah, and commander of Joint Operations Command for Iraq Lieutenant Gen. Qais Al-Muhammadawi AI-Abbasi.

The leaders discussed the current security situation in the region, as well as opportunities to strengthen cooperation and coordination. They spoke of progress in the development of the capabilities of the Iraqi Security Forces. They also discussed ongoing operations to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS.

Qais provided Kurilla with a tour of the Joint Command Center as well as a review of the Iraq command’s joint targeting process. He also recognized U.S. Soldiers assigned to Operation Inherent Resolve for their work alongside Iraqi forces.

These engagements strengthen bilateral relations between the U.S. and Iraq and reaffirm CENTCOM’s commitment to the security and stability of the Middle East.

The following sites updated: