Another state shoots itself in its Tarheels

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It’s a simple case, but, unfortunately, a common case of “if you do to me what I say is okay to do to you, you are persecuting me”.

North Carolina’s legislature, like Georgia’s, passed a religious freedom bill that allows for discrimination against GLBT people after members had only five minutes to read the proposed legislation, which allowed no time to do any research or reasonable consideration about it and its implications, and then went through a whirl wind 10 hour debate, if they even took that long as they did break for lunch, before voting, with the governor breathlessly anticipating its arrival on his desk so he could sign it the moment it did.

And he did.

Obviously, there was no intention to deal seriously with the bill, and the procedure to get it passed and signed was simply pro-forma.

Needless to say, not only the content of the bill met with negative responses by reasonable people, but so did the swiftness of its passage.

Wham, bam, thank you ma’am. It was a done deal, with no time for a cigarette after the act.

Now Governor  Pat McCrory who couldn’t wait to sign the bill  has  issued a strongly accusatory statement claiming that GLBT groups, civil rights groups, and the media are trying to “slander” his state.

A law suit was filed Monday in federal court because the bill voids anti-discrimination protections granted to GLBT citizen in nine locales, and goes further in preventing any town, city, or county from enacting GLBT protection ordinances in the future.

You see, although God gave us our rights, like the one to own guns, the rights of certain people can only be given by the will of the people or the vote of a legislature because they do not approve of what God hath wrought.

It’s interesting how those who claim to be the most religious, who boast of being the servants of the Lord, insist on their will being greater than His, and they have the right to control Him.

“The governor respects the right of any legal challenges; however, he does not respect the continued distortion of the facts by the groups challenging this law and by many members of the state and national media,” the governor’s press secretary, Graham Wilson, said.

“To counter a coordinated national effort to mislead the public, intimidate our business community and slander our great state, the governor will continue to set the record straight on a common sense resolution to local government overreach that imposed new regulations on businesses that intruded into the personal lives of our citizens.”

This, of course, seems to be a little blind to the fact that the state telling towns what they can and cannot do for their citizens is a form of overreach, and that removing nondiscrimination protections for GLBT people who live in those towns seems to imposed new regulations that intrude into the personal lives of citizens.

His official statement glosses over the bill’s removal of recently approved protections in municipalities, and ignores that they saw the existing protections had not been thorough enough and needed some fine tuning when he said,

“The non-discrimination policies in place today in cities like Raleigh, Greensboro and Asheville and in every business in North Carolina are the same as they were last month and last year.”

A year ago they were not inclusive and lacked necessary protections. Is he implying that no laws should be enacted that have not already existed?

In spite of the fact that major North Carolina newspapers had written articles about the original defeat of Charlotte’s first attempt to pass its more inclusive ordinance which resulted in its passage the second time around, the governor asked,

“Where was this coordinated outrage and media attention when the original bathroom ordinance was defeated in Charlotte just last year?”

The simple answer is, “It was in the media in your state.”

But North Carolina’s governor may not get off as easy as he hopes.

Roy Cooper, North Carolina’s Attorney General, says he will not defend the anti-GLBT bill in court, and he’s making clear that includes the court of public opinion. He has called the bill “unconstitutional,” “shameful,” and “a national embarrassment.”

Cooper warns it will “set North Carolina’s economy back” if it is not repealed.

He also predicts a “flood of litigation,” while the first law suit has been filed.

The ACLU of North Carolina, Lambda Legal, and three individuals filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina based on the 14th Amendment and Title IX of the Education Act of 1972.

“By singling out LGBT [sic] people for disfavored treatment and explicitly writing discrimination against transgender people into state law, H.B. 2 violates the most basic guarantees of equal treatment and the U.S. Constitution.”

The proof of directed and pointed animus is that the legislature “rushed to convene a special session with the express purpose of passing a statewide law that would preempt Charlotte’s ‘radical’ move to protect its residents from discrimination.”

The suit points out that

“In a process rife with procedural irregularities, the legislature introduced and passed H.B. 2 in a matter of hours, and the governor signed the bill into law that same day. Lawmakers made no attempt to cloak their actions in a veneer of neutrality, instead openly and virulently attacking transgender people, who were falsely portrayed as predatory and dangerous to others. While the discriminatory, stated focus of the legislature in passing H.B. 2—the use of restrooms by transgender people—is on its own illegal and unconstitutional, H.B. 2 in facts wreaks far greater damage by also prohibiting local governments in North Carolina from enacting express anti-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Like the two transgender plaintiffs in the case, transgender people around the state of North Carolina immediately suffered harm under H.B. 2 in that they are not able to access public restrooms and other singlesex facilities that accord with their gender identity. LGBT people are also harmed by H.B. 2 in that it strips them of or bars them from anti-discrimination protections under local law.”

Plaintiffs are asking for declaratory judgment.

In 17 states and 225 cities with laws banning GLBT discrimination, there are no known instances of the rules being used to defend or facilitate predatory behavior in bathrooms or locker rooms.

The whole thing is simply favoring one group’s beliefs over those of others and showing favoritism to one religious set of beliefs.

And this obvious assault, just as that attempted in Georgia, is not sitting well with organizations that bring money into the state, and whose employees, and people indirectly connected to them, could face discriminatory treatment if they are in North Carolina.

Many major U.S., multi-national, and North Carolina billion-dollar corporations, and institutions, that do business, pay taxes, and employ many people are against this bill, companies like Apple, American Airlines, Bank of America, Biogen, Burt’s Bees, Citrix, Dow Chemicals, Duke University, ESPN, Facebook, Google, IBM, Lowe’s, the NBA, the NCAA, PayPal, and Redhat.

To show he supports his state, the governor, in total tunnel vision, released a statement that said,

“The governor looks forward to cheering for the UNC Tar Heels in the NCAA Final Four being played in Houston, a city that defeated a similar bathroom ordinance referendum last year with over 61% of the vote.”

He proudly boasts that he will be in a city that allows discrimination, which seems to say that he is fine with one city in a state codifying discrimination while he signed a bill that would not allow any city in his state to sign one that removes discrimination.

Obviously, bad ordinances are acceptable to him, but good ones aren’t.

And the poor thing, bless his heart, seems totally unaware that while he is cheering on the Tar Heels, he has signed a bill that may very well make it okay to discriminate against some of them.

 

 

 

Who Would Jesus Shoot?

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Matthew 21: 12-13

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER’; but you are making it a ROBBERS’ DEN”. Then, swinging his AR-15 that had been slung over His shoulder, He proceeded to emphasize His point  leaving no one standing and no one in doubt.

 

The Republican-dominated Mississippi state Senate approved a bill this week that will allow churchgoers to carry concealed firearms without a permit.

Churches will also be able to designate and train members to serve as armed security, and there will be no requirement that a church post signs that it has these church guards. The bill would also shield church guards from civil or criminal liability if they shoot someone committing a violent crime.

According to Lt. Governor Tate Reeves,

“Unfortunately, our nation has seen tragic incidents carried out in places of worship. Mississippians should be able to attend church knowing they have security measures in place to protect them from anyone trying to do them harm.”

Unfortunately, Mississippi churchgoers won’t know who is armed, or if people in church who are carrying have had any training or could even pass the mental health and felony free requirements that are part of getting a permit.

If a designated security guard opens fire and a person is injured or killed the “sergeant-at-arms” will get legal protection for performing in that capacity.

The “Mississippi Church Protection Act” passed in a 36-14 vote.

Senator Hillman Frazier (D), who opposed the bill said,

“We don’t need to pimp the church for political purposes. If you want to pass gun laws, do that, but don’t use the church.”

According to Larry T. Decker, executive director of the Secular Coalition for America,

“This legislation would put ‘soldiers of God’ above the law, allowing them to act as judge, jury, and executioner. Religious institutions are already exempt from taxation, financial transparency, and many civil rights laws. The Mississippi Church Protection Act would constitute an unprecedented and dangerous next step. Belonging to a church should not afford anyone the same rights and protections as law enforcement.”

During the discussion of the bill, senators did not stick to discussing law or safety, but brought in interpretations of Christian scripture, and questions of what Jesus would do.

Regarding the first responders who might have bring some order to whatever happens if a church goes all 2nd Amendment and too many “good guys with guns” get confused as to who is who in a panic shoot out, the Mississippi Association of Chiefs of Police Executive Director Ken Winter said that the lack of a permit and what is usually required to get one provision would make it harder to stop people who appear to be engaged in wrongdoing. The bill could also raise the “threat level” to officers.

“We just don’t believe that it’s a good idea for people to be carrying concealed weapons and not have participated in any training,” he said.

Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA’s lobbying arm likes the bill.

“This important piece of pro-gun legislation clarifies existing law in Mississippi and ensures that each Mississippian has the right to carry their firearm in the manner that best suits them.”

So don’t cough too much, or become in any way a disturbance during services or BINGO, or that little church lady, the quiet one sitting next to you clutching her big purse, might just send you to Jesus.

One thing positive to come from this is that churchgoers in Mississippi will be the best behaved in the country.

We won’t get fooled again, maybe?

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Maybe I am jaded, or just have hit the right age to be a curmudgeon, but in my years of political, labor, and equal rights activism I have seen, on more than one occasion, actions that seem to be taken because they appear to be best for a particular group when the real intention that is actually ignored is that it is done in spite of that group.

I have seen actions taken that bring joy to a particular segment of the population because they have felt validated by the action, only to realize after the celebrations that they were bought so easily by impression over substance.

They are then later played because they have shown how easily they can be fooled.

House Bill 757 was passed in Georgia to protect “religious liberty” by allowing faith-based groups to deny services to GLBT individuals.

Then the Governor of Georgia said he would veto the highly discriminatory, ant-GLBT religious freedom bill, and the GLBT community is now praising him for his action and his acknowledgement of GLBT worth.

I read internet stories and posts that praise him for his enlightened attitude, and saying how the GLBT Community should be so happy with him.

Some even came across as suggestions to spend money in Georgia to show we appreciate the respect he showed.

What seems forgotten in the confetti throwing was that Disney, along with GM, Sony,  Lionsgate, and 21st Century Fox, said it would stop filming movies in Georgia. Unilever said it would “reconsider investments”; the NFL said the bill could cost Atlanta the opportunity to host the Super Bowl; the CEO of Salesforce said the company can’t have a programs in a state with such a law; and Georgia Prospers, which represents over 480 companies including  Coca-Cola, Delta, Home Depot, UPS and Marriott, also denounced the Georgia bill.

Those are major companies with major financial stakes in Georgia.

Because of the financial advantages to filming in Georgia it has been dubbed the Hollywood of the South.

Director Aaron Sorkin, Anne Hathaway and Seth MacFarlane were signatories of a letter that stated,

“We have deep concerns about H.B. 757, We pride ourselves on running inclusive companies, and while we have enjoyed a positive partnership on productions in Georgia, we will plan to take our business elsewhere if any legislation sanctioning discriminations is signed into state law.”

The Weinstein Company said if the legislation was signed, it would have pulled its plan to film a new Lee Daniels’ picture in Georgia and move the production elsewhere.

The company said in a written statement,

“We hope Governor Deal will veto bill HB 757 and not allow sanctioned bigotry to become law in Georgia.

In 2015 Georgia reported $1.7 billion in in-state spending on film and television productions. Nearly 250 film and television pilots, series, and commercials were shot that year. Considering local businesses benefit from location filming, the total amount that was brought in directly and indirectly from movie and television production was  $6 billion from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015.

The National Football League let it be known,

“NFL policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard. Whether the laws and regulations of a state and local community are consistent with these policies would be one of the many factors NFL owners may use to evaluate potential Super Bowl host sites.”

The announced veto will not happen out of respect for the state’s GLBT citizens. If such respect existed, the bill would have died before passage, so it is because of the out of state money that would stop coming in.

So, although I am happy the bill will be vetoed, even as sure as I am those who promoted it will rewrite it so the results will be the same but the wording such that boycotts will be avoided, I just can’t pick up my legs and do a happy dance because the acceptance of GLBT people won out.

It didn’t.

The need for those billions of dollars did.

Perhaps instead of praising the governor for bending to the will of the corporations and Hollywood types, we should be showing our gratitude towards the corporations and Hollywood types toward whom he bent.

And, we should be vigilant that, having come across as the good guy this time, the governor doesn’t too easily accept a modified and reworded bill that, while appearing to be innocuous, will be just as discriminatory.

 

Charlton Heston has a problem

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In my earlier days when I was active in my union, when venues were chosen for major state and national conventions, only those that were in agreement with the policies and practices of the organization would have been considered.

If a city did not have inclusive nondiscrimination policies, their convention center was off the list.

When my Union had a convention in Las Vegas, although it was offering a good deal by one hotel/casino, it was rejected because it had been built without Union labor, and it did not allow its employees to organize.

In two other instances, one venue was rejected because its “boxed lunches” came in styrofoam containers which violated the organization’s stand on recycling, and another because they routinely used table grapes during the time of the United Farm Workers’ grape boycott.

Yes it was inconvenient, and to some might have seemed somewhat petty, but as a principled group the Union chose to stand by its principles.

Since large conventions are not scheduled at the last minute, there is sufficient time to investigate possible venues and make decisions accordingly.

So it struck me as odd that the Republican National Committee decided to have its 2016 national convention at a venue that does not allow guns on its premises.

The organization that defends the Second Amendment, sometimes to the point of absurdity, decided to collude in the taking away of the Second Amendment rights of its delegates to the convention.

Certainly they are not afraid that some bad guy with a gun would cause trouble or that there would not be a good guy with one to bring things to a swift end.

When the NRA had its last Hadj, they held it at a venue that allowed  concealed carry. Secondary venues in the same city may have had policies against firearms, but these venues were optional as opposed the main event where guns were permitted.

Considering how close the RNC is to the NRA, they certainly could have consulted with them on a venue, or even held it at the same one the NRA had.

Dallas had been in the running, and going to various information sites it would appear that while individual organizations who rent the convention center can attempt to prohibit guns on the premises, a blanket ban does not exist.

As a result of the RNC’s choosing  a no-guns venue, nearly 20,000 people have signed a petition to allow the open carry of firearms at the convention.

Americans For Responsible Open Carry started the petition on Change.org with a goal of 5,000 signatures, and had reached that goal in just 2 days.

The Secret Service, the city of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, state, and federal officials are handling the security at the event, and as it had done four year ago, the Secret service banned guns this year at this convention as well.

“They are coordinating and will be continuously refining security plans leading up to the national convention,” Republican National Convention spokesperson Alee has said.

It seems a clear case of government overreach and the curtailing of Second American Rights.

The RNC should be furiously protesting this.

But it’s not.

The petition makes a number of demand.

Americans For Responsible Open Carry wants the arena to suspend its open-carry ban during the convention with the NRA condemning Ohio’s law banning guns in some public places.

As the petition states, “Policies of the Quicken Loans Arena do not supersede the rights given to us by our Creator in the U.S. Constitution.”

The Creator, by the way, is not mentioned in the Constitution, but rather in the Declaration of Independence. He’s nowhere in the Constitution in any form or position.

The group wants Ohio’s Governor  John Kasich to use his executive power to override the so-called gun-free zone loophole in Ohio’s law, an odd requirement from those so opposed to executive orders.

They demand that RNC Chairman, Reince Preibus, explain how “a venue so unfriendly to Second Amendment rights was chosen for the Republican Convention and have a backup plan to move the site if the group’s demands aren’t met.”

And they want the candidates to pressure the GOP to protect the Second Amendment.

Guns are not permitted by the Quicken Loans Arena’s policy which forbids guns and weapons of any kind from “heavily attended” events even though Ohio is an open-carry state that makes exceptions for the Statehouse, as well as businesses and property owners who do not want them on their premises. This last is why the arena is following the state’s concealed carry law by exercising the right for private businesses to ban firearms.

Because Cleveland is one of the most dangerous cities in the world, Americans For Responsible Open Carry objects to forcing attendees to leave their weapons at home putting them at risk.

“Without the right to protect themselves, those at the Quicken Loans Arena will be sitting ducks, utterly helpless against evil-doers, criminals or others who wish to threaten the American way of life.”

If a bad delegate sneaks in a gun to “Second Amendment” the convention if things don’t go as expected, there won’t be any good delegates with guns to bring things to a swift and safe conclusion.

And, considering how crowded and noisy such large conventions are, how will the good guys who should have guns be able to stop the mayhem if someone who sneaked a gun in mistakes a popping balloon for gunfire.

Of course, residents of Cleveland must feel safe knowing that there will be thousands of people coming to their city who seem a little too quick to shoot at any “evil-doers, criminals or others who wish to threaten the American way of life” based solely on an impression or assumption.

There is also the possibility that to exercise their Second Amendment rights, there will be those who challenge the Ohio law by just walking in fully armed like they were walking into a restaurant or school yard.

Whether or not the petition is honored by those to whom it is addressed, you can be sure guns will be in the convention center, and some angry people will be carrying them.

Jim Crow returns

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It seems a little too rushed and predetermined with a smattering of theater to give the appearance of proper procedure.

It’s conveniently called “freedom of religious expression”, like slavery and beating your wife was, and by some people’s reckoning should still be. But, in reality, it is just finding an excuse to express long withheld spoken prejudices that laws and national maturity have prevented a person from expressing.

It is based on the simple concept that a group of people feel their religion is better than anyone else’s and that, since they cannot convert others with the message of their religion, they will do it by legislation.

It’s important to remember that Republicans have traditionally railed against government overreach. They have argued that local governments know their own people and their needs better that some centralized and distant government, and should be able to pass laws accordingly.

Just as they believe that the federal government should not be telling states what to do, you would think for consistency, the state should not tell local communities what they can and cannot do for the same reason.

So, keeping to that, the State of North Carolina has passed a bill banning local communities from passing nondiscrimination ordinances and raising the minimum wage within their jurisdictions.

Republican leaders of the North Carolina General Assembly failed to protect the rights of all of its citizens by passing a bill that will repeal all local GLBT non-discrimination ordinances, and has done it at warp speed.

Lawmakers were given just five minutes to read the bill before beginning the debate. It took all of ten hours for the bill to be introduced, debated, and passed. How much actual discussion could take place, and how much information was dealt with?

House Bill 2 allows state law to supersede all local ordinances concerning wages, employment, and public accommodations.

A town can’t raise the minimum wage there, something that could benefit its population regardless of conditions in another town.

A town, regardless of the make up of its population, cannot enact a local ordinance to protect them from discrimination

It is an obvious knee-jerk reaction to Charlotte’s recent passage of a city ordinance to protect the LGBT community from discrimination.

The bill also restricts the use of single-sex public restrooms and locker rooms in publicly run facilities, to people of the sex that is on their birth certificate regardless of reality. This also goes for public schools.

And it could apply to a typographical error overlooked in the excitement of a birth where a female could be listed as male. This is known as a ‘gender error” and is not the same as gender reassignment, but correcting a typo.

Governor McCrory took to twitter to announce his epic reason for rushing to sin this hurried bill:

“I signed bipartisan legislation to stop the breach of basic privacy and etiquette, ensure privacy in bathrooms and locker rooms”.

How paranoid do the legislators in North Carolina have to be to think that they are the objects of a stranger’s sexual attraction, especially when they try to justify what they have done as a way of protecting people from the predatory Transgender people  when there are no cases of Transgender people preying on people in restrooms.

The major basis for segregation in the South was to protect the White  women from the predatory Black men, something that was assumed to be inevitable perhaps because knowing their own inadequacies the men there felt threatened.

How will these men deal when a female to male transgender person who favors the gym and sports is required to use the ladies’ room. Worse, how will the girls and women in there react when the burly man walks in and finds out he has to be there by law.

This bill merely presents a group of people as an unproven threat from which protection is needed so legislators can appear to actually be doing something constructive.

Georgia is another state that has chosen this Jim Crow route by passing a similar bill.

All in the name of religious liberty that will allow a person to refuse to do business with someone merely by claiming that to do so offends their deeply held religious belief no matter how individual, far fetch, or not in alignment with the tenets of their parent religion.

They can no longer discriminate because of race, but needing to have someone they can treat as second class citizens, North Carolina and some other Southern States, have chosen the GLBT Community.

No more cookies

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In 1992 while her husband was running for president, Hillary Clinton mockingly stated that she should have “stayed at home and baked cookies” instead of pursuing a career. This was seen as her knocking “stay at home moms”.

So, to show her domestic side, she entered a cookie bake off against the then First Lady, Barbara Bush, which has become a good election predictor because the husband of the winner of this quadrennial  contest has gone on to become president four out of the last five times with Cindy McCain winning back in 2008.

But this win was not without its controversy as Mrs. McCain was accused of having copied a recipe off a Hershey’s box.

But as cute and harmless as this contest is on face value, it has offended some because, as women move up in society and take on leadership roles, it is seen as archaic.

Those opposing the contest may finally get the change they have been seeking because, instead of competing in the kitchen, competition seems to be heading toward the bear skin rug.

An internet ad produced by an anti-Trump super PAC, Make America Awesome, which Cruz claims he has no connection to, shows Trump’s wife, Melania, posing nude, and Trump responded by tweeting,

“Lyin’ Ted Cruz just used a picture of Melania from a G.Q. shoot in his ad. Be careful, Lyin’ Ted, or I will spill the beans on your wife!”

Cruz responded by saying that if Trump went after his wife, then Trump is a “coward.”

 “Pic of your wife not from us. Donald, if you try to attack Heidi, you’re more of a coward than I thought. #classless.”

Eduardo Cruz’s wife, Heidi, hit back at Trump also,

“Well, as you probably know by now, most of the things, many of the things others say are not based in reality. I have one job on this campaign, and it is to be helping Ted win this race. And it is, I think, the easiest job in the world, and that is to speak the truth: what I know about my husband, our family, myself.”

Regarding the ad she said,

 “In no shape or form are we related to it.”

But Trump wasn’t buying it.

 “Lyin’ Ted Cruz denied that he had anything to do with the G.Q. model photo post of Melania. That’s why we call him Lyin’ Ted!”

Forget the cookies.

If Cruz does anything to offend Trump, especially if the insult is related to his wife, it will be interesting to see what dirt Trump has  on Heidi Cruz that he is just waiting to reveal.

And, as unpredictable and uncontrollable as Trump is, it is anyone’s guess what he will consider to be an insult worthy of the spilling of beans.

And to those who might be saying that this is just the primaries and it is too early for a First Lady bake off, I  should mention that while Hillary was still involved in the primaries against Obama, Bill Clinton entered that 2008 bake off, and did rather poorly.

Conservative logic

 

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I guess it is Conservative Logic.

If something happens while the president is doing something, what he is doing causes another unrelated event that, apparently, he should have seen coming.

When President Obama announced that relations with Cuba would go through a normalization process, obviously this would involve some sort of visitation.

When he went to Cuba all was quiet on most fronts, especially the European one.

But when the terrorist attacks took place in Brussels, for some reason, conservative saw a cause and effect relationship.

Somehow, President Obama should have known this would happen, so he should have canceled the trip, and at in the White House just in case something somewhere happened.

People thought it was odd that Nancy Reagan consulted with an astrologer before doing anything, but as unbiblical as this might have been, it apparently paid off and just might be the conservative’s way of dealing with things then, now, and in the future.

Former George W Bush speechwriter and current Washington Post contributor Marc Thiessen tweeted, “Brussels under attack. Obama on a tourist trio [sic] in Havana with his family. Says it all.”

Apparently he believes W’s reading that book on goats to that class of kids may have explained all that needed to be explained about 9/11.

Richard Grenell, a former Mitt Romney advisor, wrote, “Terrible optics: ISIS attacks Brussels and Obama is with the Castro Brothers in Cuba.”

And Jim Geraghty, who writes for the National Review tweeted, “Obama’s G20 trip continued as planned after San Bernardino attack. Why would we expect the Cuba trip to change after the Brussels attack?”

I’m waiting for the President had two cups of coffee at breakfast, and look what happened tweet.

But as most thinking people can see, this is just another situation where those who never wanted him to be president, and grabbing at non-sequitors to misrepresent reality by confusing people with the tactic that an accusation made is an accusation proved.