Am I being cautious or paranoid?

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So that people will not assume I have gone off the deep end, let me explain that my reaction to Trump’s not rescinding former President Obama’s 2014 executive order protecting GLBT federal employees is not so much based on a dislike of Trump, but more on experience with politicians.

In the over 30 years I have been involved in working for GLBT rights, I have seen one tactic used repeatedly and to great effect.

A politician, governmental body, including school boards, and companies have made promises about somewhere down the road, or that if the GLBT Community were to support them they would do right by us, only to be told after an election or some sort of decision making meeting that we would have to calm down and accept that while we did not get what we were assured we would, because of any number of obstructions that  occurred their hard work and any promised progress was halted.

This often hid the reality that they had done nothing beyond making the promise.

His Honor James Michael Curley, the famous mayor of Boston in the 20th Century, once said that the collective memory has only 21 days.

Basically, a politician just has to give it some time, and the bait and switch can be effectively repeated, and the victims will have forgotten the previous instance.

This strategy has been very effective when applied to the GLBT Community.

Many times politicians have made promises over the past years knowing full well that they have no intention to fulfill them while also knowing the promise alone will have the GLBT Community happy and mollified.

The latest possible instance of this historically successful strategy followed reports over the last few days that the Trump administration was considering a draft of a potential executive order that called for overturning former President Obama’s directive barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the federal workforce and by federal contractors.

The  potential draft had some provisions in it that were troubling, such as exemptions allowing adoption agencies and groups receiving federal funds to deny services to GLBT Americans based on the personal beliefs of employees.

On Tuesday the White House said it would keep the Obama administration protections.

“President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of L.G.B.T.Q. rights, just as he was throughout the election. The president is proud to have been the first ever G.O.P. nominee to mention the L.G.B.T.Q. community in his nomination acceptance speech, pledging then to protect the community from violence and oppression.”

But my experience makes me wonder why the statement omits the qualifying words in the acceptance speech “from foreign ideologies”. That was very specific at the time, so the White House statement is either not complete, or purposely misleading.

The protection is also needed from domestic ideologies such as those that are supporting the First Amendment Defense Act that could allow for discrimination based on an individual’s claimed strongly held religious beliefs that may not be consistent with those of their chosen religion, but are merely personal.

It is important that Trump also oppose any executive or legislative actions that would allow government employees, taxpayer-funded organizations, or companies to discriminate.

He may have protected a segment of the GLBT Community by not rescinding the existing executive order, but he could throw the whole GLBT Community, including federal employees, under the bus with his support of FADA.

Eliminating discrimination in one form of verbiage does not guarantee opposition to the actual substance.

Trump is answerable to his base, and his base wants anti-GLBT discrimination to be allowed in spite of present law

Originally when he was asked this week if the White House was going to issue what is in effect an anti-GLBT executive order, rather than give a definite answer, Sean Spicer indulged in some tap dancing,

 “I’m not getting ahead of the executive orders that we may or may not issue. There is [sic] a lot of executive orders, a lot of things that the president has talked about and will continue to fulfill, but we have nothing on that front now.”

Note the word “now”.

The GLBT Community feels good, relaxes its vigilance, and then, there it is.

We cannot let ourselves fall victim to that ploy again.

The conservatives and the so called religious base will not be silent, but will continue to demand an exemption for religious organizations that contract with the government.

Such an executive order that will satisfy that demand may be fought in court, but with the executive order that is keeping people with Green Cards from being able to come home, we have seen this administration’s contempt for the courts, and Trump will have a few Supreme Court benches to fill anyway.

So while we feel good now, we should not assume everything is fine from this point and forever.

They are still fighting and passing laws to get around Roe v Wade.

We may have dodged this bullet, but we should not be that dog who really thinks his owner has thrown the ball.

Republican version of the Bible

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And the lawyer asked,

“And who is my neighbor?”

 In reply Jesus said:

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied,

“The one who had mercy on him.”

And then Republican Jesus answered,

“Don’t be an putz. The guy was from a foreign country. He should not have been there in the first place. He should have been just left where he was lying because, look, it cost some stranger a lot of money, and he took up a room in the inn that someone else, perhaps someone who would not just pay for the room and basic food, but would have splurged on the other amenities, and the owner could have made more money.

Yeah, the Samaritan guy might have been a neighbor of sorts to the stranger, but he wasn’t very neighborly to the inn keeper.

The neighbors were the priest and the levite. They left him to handle things on his own. They didn’t let him become a dependent.

And if he died, well, that was just the way it was.”

And then He continued.

”Verily I say unto you. These are verses in the Bible you should also ignore if you really want to call yourselves my followers.

Hebrews 12:2-Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Galatians 5:14 – For all the law is fulfilled in one word, [even] in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

Leviticus 25:35-38 – And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: [yea, though he be] a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee.  

Galatians 3:28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Jeremiah 22:3Thus saith the LORD; Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place.1

Romans 14:1-23 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, [but] not to doubtful disputations.

And with that He walked away shaking his head in beatific disbelief.

Rant to the Gaybies

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I am of an age and have earned my stripes so that I can justifiably be a bona fide curmudgeon. But, instead of telling people to get off my lawn, something that, because I do not have one living as I do in an old apartment building in the downtown historic district of New Bedford would make me insane as oppose a curmudgeon, I feel it I my obligation when I see something wrong to change it, or at least make the attempt, and if I see people are acting from a position of not being informed, to inform them.

And, so, my rant and my attempt to inform and to warn those who just don’t “see it coming”.

In the mid 1980s I was teaching in Carson, California, part of the Los Angeles Unified School District, and living in Long Beach.

Although California was further along when it came to Gay rights, the term at the time being “Gay” as opposed the string of letters that would come along later, but it still had some ways to go when it came to total equality.

As the president of the Los Angeles teachers’ union had said at the end of our successful 1989 strike, and was applicable to the Gay Community at the time, we were not where we used to be, but we still had a way to go to be where we should be.

There was still work to be done, and so I got involved in the political and social life of the community.

I was a member of the Los Angeles Gay Men’s Chorus and then that of Long Beach. I became the cartoonist for Long Beach’s local Gay Community newspaper, joined the city’s Gay political organization, and became a member of the union’s Gay and Lesbian Issues Sub-Committee, and was its chair when it became a full standing committee of the union. I went to events and rallies and marched in parades and demonstrations. I even found myself giving the occasional speech to hostile audiences.

I had seen the need for more change, and did what I could to better conditions whether political or social.

For a while I had a part time job at the “pop and pop” video rental store around the corner from my apartment in the days before the short lived existence of the big box places like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video.

There were two young employees among those at the video store. They were naïve on many levels, and were subject to accept certain stereotypes as necessary to being Gay, such as the devotion to what had been decided by someone were Gay icons, like Judy Garland whom they absolutely adored and on whose behalf they went into an angry defense when, while a video of her television show was playing on the store’s TVs, customers and other employees good naturedly pretended to get all wrapped up in the microphone cord just as we were all convinced we had remembered her doing on one show while a video of her.

They vociferously questioned the Gayness of the other employees and the largely Gay clientele for that loosely choreographed pre-flash mob days flash mob performance.

They were befuddled by the older employees’ being involved in political activism, especially as one of the two Gaybies informed us that we were living in an enlightened age.

A one employee corrected them on this, “Honey, you will not be ready when the political and religious right finds their excuse to take away what we have won and you enjoy.”

For some reason, the two young ones seemed oblivious to the growing animus toward those with AIDS, and were shocked when at least one member of congress from the area suggested a Manzanar style quarantine camp for people with AIDS, and when they witnessed a Gay man being beaten to the ground at a Pride Parade by zealots who quoted bible verses as they used their copies of the Bible from which they were quoting to do the beating.

Yet in spite of these and other examples that came with increasing frequency, they still held that these were merely blips in the enlightenment of the age.

I have often wondered in the subsequent 30 plus years how things tuned out for them, and if they were able to handle the real less enlightened age that was the actual reality.

Senator Jeff Sessions, Trump‘s nominee for Attorney General, firmly supports the First Amendment Defense Act that would allow for discrimination against the GLBT community on the basis of a firmly held religious belief. These beliefs do not have to be those espoused by the religion to which they choose to belong, but merely their own personal beliefs, no matter how far out there they are.

Landlords, business owners, healthcare providers, and employers would be allowed to refuse to provide goods and services if they argue that doing so would conflict with their chosen set of beliefs.

During my video store days, EMTs were called to a friend’s apartment, but upon being informed that his partner, who needed the help, had AIDS, they simply turned and walked out. The same could happen if this Act passes, simply because the person who needs help is Gay.

When David had been admitted to the hospital, he was placed in a room at the end of a hall where, as we were visiting him, janitorial staff brought in red bags filled with medical waste and placed them inside the room with him. When one of the visitors went to the nurse station to complain about this, he was informed by the nurse, after she looked at a few papers, that no one was in that room. He was in the hospital, but his non-existence had made him the victim of neglect.

That may have been then, and this may be now, but discriminatory conditions that could result in the denial of services and protection from hate crimes could come back big time if the First Amendment Defense Act becomes the law of the land, and the United State Attorney General favors it and refuses to question its constitutionality.

According to Senator Al Franken,

“Some have argued that FADA is necessary to protect pastors, ministers, and churches who fear that they’ll be forced to marry gay and lesbian couples. But the First Amendment already prevents clergy or churches from being forced to marry a couple if doing so is contrary to their beliefs. It always has. The Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which recognized that same-sex couples have the right to marry in all 50 states, did not change that”.

But Jeff Sessions Trump’s nominee for Attorney General believes,

“The purpose of the legislation was to prohibit the federal government from taking discriminatory actions against any person based on their belief or action in accordance with a religious or moral conviction. I supported this legislation because I believe that we can, and should, protect the rights of all citizens— including LGBT individuals and those with traditional views of marriage. I do not see freedom as a zero-sum game. I understand the critical and historic role of Department of Justice in upholding our nation’s civil rights laws. If I am fortunate enough to be confirmed as Attorney General, I will enforce those laws to the letter.”

But, FADA would overturn the executive order signed in 2014 by former president Obama prohibiting anti-GLBT discrimination among federal contractors, and Trump has signaled support for it.

When it came to the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, a bill Sessions opposed, he said,

 “Any statement I made during debate over the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 reflected an opinion that I reached based on information available to me at the time. If I am fortunate enough to be confirmed as Attorney General, I will work diligently to ensure that all Americans receive equal protection under our laws.”

He claimed he was against those things he opposed when it came to the rights of GLBT citizens because at the time he based his opposition on the information he had, but really hoped when he gets the appointment he will also get information that will possibly change that.

Like when it comes to the underreporting of hate crime,

“If I am fortunate enough to be confirmed as Attorney General, I would expect to learn more about this issue and give it my careful consideration.

If I am fortunate enough to be confirmed as Attorney General, the Department will be vigilant in the full enforcement of all federal laws. I will endeavor to direct and utilize the resources of the Department in the most effective manner possible to ensure the enforcement of federal law. The specific steps I will take to ensure the enforcement of any particular law will be decided after careful evaluation of any current practices of the Department and the effectiveness of those practices.”

Sessions had also opposed the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act in the Judiciary Committee in the 113th Congress that would have helped homeless GLBT youth because,

 “I was concerned with what I believed to be overly broad and vague language in the bill that could have discriminated against faith-based organizations that help form the fabric of the United States’ social services, and would have undermined the goal of the bill by making it more difficult to protect and provide services for at-risk individuals.”

Before he will get educated and maybe reduce his opposition to GLBT rights, he has to get the job. I guess we will have to trust him on that.

And, he is very concerned about equal rights, but only when it comes to faith based organizations, but not GLBT people.

Combining him with Ben Carson as head of HUD, who believes housing rights of GLBT people are special while they are just regular for non-GLBT people, and whichever conservative justice Trump seats on the Supreme Court, the more conservative the better, and things do not look good for what gains the GLBT Community has made in the struggle for equality and which some young GLBT people think are there because either they have always been there or came about because of some enlightenment.

If Jeff Sessions gets the job, history will repeat itself, and the discrimination that will begin will have a champion.

So if you enjoy what you now have, accept that you could very well lose it all, and call your senators and tell them you do not approve of a candidate who will erase your rights, and insist they do not accept Jeff Sessions as the Attorney General because of the harm he will do and allow to you and yours.

Do not assume that even the most open minded and progressive senators will do the right thing. Pressure them to do it.

It is your future, not theirs.

I can guarantee that you will not like the way things could end up.

Believe me.

It might look like it if you haven’t been paying full attention,  but this, like those many years ago, is not an enlightened age.

Special Rights

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Reality for Donald Trump is what he wants it to be, and although the present U.S. vetting process for visas is very tough, and although the Trump administration has provided no evidence that this process had in any way failed, he signed an executive order on Friday that temporarily bans citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries as well as all Syrian refugees from entering the United States, which strands an unknown number of U.S. visa holders abroad, and throws hundreds of thousands of permanent U.S. residents into legal limbo.

Noticeable about this is that seven majority Muslim countries whose citizens have been banned include, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, none of which have committed any terrorist attacks against Americans.

However, four other majority Muslim countries that have not been banned have two interesting facts attached to them. They have attacked and killed Americans with Saudi Arabia heading the list with 2,369 followed by the United Arab Emirates with 314, Egypt with 162, and Lebanon with 159, and unlike the others where he has none, the Trump has business arrangements with these.

The order also indefinitely bans entry for all Syrian refugees except those who are Christian because, again with no facts to back him up, Trump claims it was “impossible, or at least very tough” for Christians to gain entry into the U.S., but that it was much easier for Muslims under the previous policy.

Remember, these are majority Muslim countries which obviously would have an influence on numbers in religious categories.

Government officials and airlines weren’t made aware of the specifics of Trump’s order ahead of time, and now have to scramble to interpret and apply the new rules. Not wanting to violate the Executive Order, but at the same time having no idea of its specifics, if there are any, they are interpreting the EO so broadly that all foreign nationals from the seven countries, including current U.S. visa holders like green card-carrying lawful permanent residents are unable to enter, or board transportation for the U.S.

People with previously-valid U.S. immigration documents are being barred from, or removed from flights to the U.S., and even detained at ports of entry after having already been on route to the U.S. when the executive order went into effect.

All American diplomatic posts in the world are to “halt interviewing and cease issuance and printing” of visas to people from the affected countries with existing visas having already been indefinitely suspended. If a person is already here, they can stay, but if they visit out of the country, they cannot come back. This means that people on planes last Friday who had left before the EO was signed, and those on planes returning after an out of country trip had quite the surprise upon landing.

One such surprise was that if they were out of the country or had just landed in a foreign country, the green card holders are now stuck abroad and have to go through a review process and apply for re-entry waivers on a case-by-case basis.

With no details spelled out in the Executive Order, it is reasonable to assume that the Trump administration has yet to establish guidelines or staffing levels to handle this.

To give an idea of the scope of people affected, 500,000 citizens from the seven countries have received green cards from the U.S. over the past decade alone, and 25,000 citizens from the seven countries have been issued temporary employment or student visas in the last few years, most of these being Iran and Iraqi nationals, who account for nearly half the green cards over that period.

According the Council on American-Islamic Relations “there is no evidence that refugees – the most thoroughly vetted of all people entering our nation – are a threat to national security,” and CAIR insists that Trump’s act is “based on bigotry, not reality.”

The Immigration and Nationality Act states that

“no person shall receive any preference or priority or be discriminated against in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of the person’s race, sex, nationality, place of birth, or place of residence.”

To violating this, Trump has also added that religious test to America’s refugee admission process. The secretary of state and DHS secretary have been

“directed to make changes, to the extent permitted by law, to prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.”

As far as his preference toward Christians, Trump told the Christian Broadcasting Network, “We are going to help them” referring to persecuted Christians in Syria.

According to the Pew Research Center, about half of the refugees the U.S. admitted in the 2016 fiscal year were Christian. The majority of Syrians admitted to the U.S. in 2016 were women and children, who had already faced the U.S. government’s most intensive and complex background-check which takes as much as two years to complete.

So if you are not Christian and you are being persecuted and face death in your home country, suck it up and man up. They just might get around to you as soon as they take care of those in that group to which Trump chooses to pander.

Your life is not as important.

Would the Christian preference make that a “special right”?

America first. Kinda, sorta

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Remember.

It’s America first.

So one of Donald Trumps first acts in the Oval Office was to allow for the  Keystone XL Pipeline to cut through the United States so that foreign oil from Canada, Canada being a foreign country and not America, so it can get to Texas and be shipped from there to another foreign country, China.

He claims the pipeline will create thousands of jobs, but then seems to skip over what happens to those jobs once the pipeline in completed. Yes he will be able to claim he created jobs, but the majority of those will be temporary, and eventually people will notice that.

Another fine point is that this will not benefit Americans, but only the Canadian tar sands oil company, and the oil executives whose companies will handle and ship the oil to China, oh, and people like Trump who have invested in those companies.

But by repeating “it will help make America great” will be like chanting about supporting the troops and then cutting public assistance that helps some of them and their families, and freezing federal hiring that could interfere with care at the VA.

Sounds good. Means nothing.

And people will defend the ruse because they think it will prove their patriotism.

And, Trump counts on that.

The most Americans will get out of this, God forbid, will be any environmental damage that could happen.

Anyone hear anything?

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President Obama issued a total of 260 executive orders during his 8 years in office.

Ronald Reagan issued 381 Executive orders with an average of 47 per year,

George H.W. Bush with 166 with an average of 41.5, but that was only for one term,

William Clinton had 364 with an average of 45.5 per year,

George W Bush issued 291 with a yearly average of 36.4,

So President Obama’s  260 with a yearly average of 32.5 isn’t all that overboard.

Yet, when he was asked during the primaries if he would issue Executive Orders when he became president, Trump had responded,

 “I won’t refuse it. I’m going to do a lot of things.”

Then, referring to President Obama he added,
“I mean, he’s led the way, to be honest with you.”

Obama obviously hadn’t led the way, and Trump obviously was not being honest.

During his time in office, Republicans complained that Obama abused his power to sign executive orders.

Michele Bachmann declared,

“He may think he’s a king, he may declare himself king, but that’s not what he is under our Constitution.”

Glenn Beck called the president “America’s first dictator”.

Ted Cruz said,

“Over and over again this president has disregarded the law, has disregarded the Constitution and has asserted presidential power that simply doesn’t exist and that ought to worry regardless of whether you agree with his policies or not.”

Rand Paul tweeted,

“Mr. President we are a nation of laws & we are supposed to follow our Constitution. You do not get to ‘act alone.”

Texas Republican Steve Stockman said,

“I could not bear to watch as he continued to cross the clearly-defined boundaries of the Constitutional separation of powers,”

as he walked out of a State of the Union address.

According to GOP Rep. Candice Miller of Michigan,

“President Obama has decided to try to bypass Congress and go it alone, using executive orders in an attempt to put into effect policies he cannot achieve in the legislative process. This is troubling not only because it shows a lack of leadership, but also because such authority is not found in our Constitution.”

Indiana Rep. Luke Messer had this comment,

 “The Constitution is clear — we don’t have a monarch.”

Other comments on Executive Orders signed by President Obama,

Florida Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen,

“Instead of using executive orders, he should work with Congress to pass programs that all Americans agree on. What we need is more opportunity, not more government intervention. The best way to get our economy back to work is low taxes and less regulation.”

Tennessee Rep. Chuck Fleischmann,

“This president has lost the support of the American people and now he’s trying to circumvent Congress with all this talk of more executive orders.”

Rep. Richard Hudson of North Carolina,

“President Obama’s plans to circumvent the Constitution in order to pursue his big government agenda will do nothing to end the pain that so many Americans are suffering under his failed policies.”
Texas governor Greg Abbott of Texas,

“We have a president who feels completely unrestrained by the Constitution of America.”

Other complaints when it came to Obama’s using Executive Orders to get things done:

John McCain,

“We can go to court. We haven’t got many more options except [to] tell the American people that we’re seeing an abuse of the intent of the Constitution.”

John Boehner,

“We’re going to watch very closely, because there’s a Constitution that we all take an oath to, including him, and following the Constitution is the basis for House Republicans.“

At one point by a vote of 225-201, the Republican-led House approved a resolution to sue President Barack Obama over claims he abused his powers at the expense of Congress and the Constitution by issuing Executive Orders.

On the campaign trail, Trump  vowed to accomplish everything from building a wall with Mexico to undoing all of president Obama’s executive orders in his first hours as president.

He has been issuing at least 3 Executive Orders per day since he took the Oath.

So far his Executive Orders have dealt with such things as:

-resuming construction on the Dakota Access
Pipeline (DAPL),

-building a wall on the border between
the U.S. and Mexico,

-banning people from targeted nations seeking
visas and refugee status,

-muzzling communications from government
agencies,

-threatening to withhold federal assistance to municipalities
which refuse to turn over people designated as “illegal” by the state,

-reinstating local and state immigration enforcement partnerships.,

-expediting the environmental permitting process for infrastructure projects related to the pipelines,

-directing the Commerce Department to streamline the manufacturing permitting process,

-giving the Commerce Department 180 days to maximize the use of U.S. steel in the pipeline,

-banning federal funds to international groups that perform abortions or lobby to legalize or promote abortion,

-beginning a withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal,

-imposing a hiring freeze for some federal government workers,

-directing federal agencies to ease the “regulatory burdens” of the Affordable Care Act,

-directing the Department of Homeland Security to publish a weekly list of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants.

At this rate, he will surpass Obama in his first 100 days.

Anyone hear anything?

 

And, so it begins

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What could come next if Trump continues to slash what he said he would.

Corporation for Public Broadcasting

  • Cost per American: $1.37

National Endowment for the Arts

  • Cost per American: $0.46

National Endowment for the Humanities

  • Cost per American: $0.46

Minority Business Development Agency

  • Cost per American: $0.11

Economic Development Administration

  • Cost per American: $0.66

International Trade Administration

  • Cost per American: $1.60

Manufacturing Extension Partnership

  • Cost per American: $0.43

Office of Community Oriented Policing Services

  • Cost per American: $0.88

Office of Violence Against Women

  • Cost per American: $1.48

Legal Services Corporation

  • Cost per American: $1.55

Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department

  • Cost per American: $0.48

Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Justice Department

  • Cost per American: $0.38

Overseas Private Investment Corporation

  • Cost per American: $0

UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

  • Cost per American: $0.03

Office of Electricity Deliverability and Energy Reliability

  • Cost per American: $0.81

Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

  • Cost per American: $8.95

Office of Fossil Energy

  • Cost per American: $2.71

for a grand total to the taxpayer of $22.36 a year.