The Seven Words You Can’t Say at the CDC

You remember George Carlin’s routine about the seven words you can’t say on TV, right?

Well, you may not yet have heard that the Trump administration is forbidding officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta from using a list of seven words or phrases in any official documents being prepared for next year’s budget.

The forbidden words are: “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based,” and “science-based.”

Seriously, I’m not making this up.

Policy analysts at the CDC were told of the list of forbidden words at a meeting yesterday with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget, according to an analyst who took part in the 90-minute briefing.

The ban is related to the budget and supporting materials that are to be given to CDC’s partners and to Congress, the analyst said.

So it seems that we have truly entered the dystopian world described in George Orwell’s novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. Thank you Donald Trump, the Republican Congress, and all of you deplorables who voted for that moron.


What Does This Have To Do With Tax Reform?

Everyone knows that the Republicans in Congress are desperately trying to push through a draconian tax bill that would heartlessly increase taxes for middle and low income Americans while providing massive tax reductions for large corporations and the wealthiest Americans.

But did you know that they have included a very troubling clause in their tax plan? There is a curious provision hiding among massive corporate tax breaks and the other items on the GOP’s tax plan wish list. This mysterious provision would permit families to open 529 educational savings accounts for “unborn children.” In other words, it would enable people to create college savings plans for fetuses. I’m not making that up.

In what has long been the holy grail of the anti-abortion movement, this provision would, through the proposed tax code, lay the foundation for “personhood,” which is the belief that life begins at conception. In effect, it would grant legal rights to a zygote, an embryo, or a fetus in the womb. This would potentially establish a legal basis that conservatives could use to argue to outlaw abortions entirely.

Republicans are hiding this highly unpopular provision deep within their proposed tax bill, where they hope no one will ever find it. If it does go mostly unnoticed and makes it into the final bill, conservatives will have successfully established a new, legal definition of when life begins, one that goes against legal precedent, science, and public opinion.

So yes, secreted deep within the bowels of the GOP tax plan is a provision to accomplish something that conservatives have been unable to accomplish since Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision issued in 1973 by the US Supreme Court on the constitutionality of laws that criminalized or restricted access to abortions.

On the federal level, such attempts have always failed. But if this Republican tax bill passes Congress and is signed into law by Donald Trump, which he no doubt will do, Roe v. Wade will become meaningless and the conservatives and the religious right will have finally succeeded in essentially making abortion murder.

Tell me again what this has to do with tax reform?

One-Liner Wednesday — Dangerous Ground

“A society is moving toward dangerous ground when loyalty to the truth is seen as disloyalty to some supposedly higher interest.”

This quote is attributed to American novelist and essayist Marilynne Robinson.

I think the Republicans in Congress should take heed, as they are definitely treading on dangerous ground. Especially now that indictments are being issued.

Written for today’s One-Liner Wednesday prompt from Linda G. Hill.

Summer in the City

AE41FE2D-85FA-4CBF-A3F5-C9AB92E21A1DHenry stepped out of his air conditioned apartment and onto the sidewalk. His glasses immediately fogged over. He couldn’t believe how incredibly hot and muggy it already was this early in the morning.

The forecast called for the temperature to approach 100 by mid-afternoon, with close to 100% humidity. The early morning air was so thick and heavy that it felt as if you could cut it with a knife.

As he started his eight block walk from his apartment to his office, Henry’s head filled with the old Lovin’ Spoonful’s song, “Summer in the City.”

Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn’t it a pity
Doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city
All around, people looking half dead
Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head

The Nation’s Capital, this almost unbearably hot and humid city, this incredibly beautiful and culturally rich city, is the seat of power in the most powerful country on the planet. This is where it happens and, as a registered lobbyist, Henry knows that this is the only place he could possibly be.

Yet it isn’t the beauty of the city that keeps him here. And it certainly isn’t the weather. This is the city where the movers and shakers are. And Henry believed, as surely as he believed that the sun would rise in the east and set in the west each day, that he was the best of them.

He hadn’t been elected to any office, and he doesn’t have any constituents back home to serve. They are the hoi polloi and he wants nothing to do with them.

He doesn’t have to please liberals, conservatives, moderates, or extremists. Henry’s one and only constituent is his employer, a major player in the military-industrial complex. That’s the only master he has to please.

Henry doles out the big bucks to those who play the game by his rules. He can go to any member of Congress and buy support on critical legislation that benefits his employer.

All he has to do is show them the money, promise, for example, to get a major project to the congressperson’s district, one that would employ thousands and would generate much needed tax revenues. All the congressperson has to do is to agree to vote a certain way.

Conversely, he can guarantee that a congressperson’s district will be shut out of any such projects if he or she votes a different way.

He can funnel millions of dollars toward candidates’ campaigns for reelection if they support him, or make sure those funds go to their opponents if they don’t.

Henry is a man with more influence on the direction the country is moving than most of those who were elected by the suckers back home. Partisan politics has paralyzed the federal government and the only “votes” that really matter are those that can be deposited into offshore banks and into anonymous, untraceable accounts, the “votes” with dollar signs on them. Big dollar signs.

As Henry arrived at his office, he thought about this beautiful city in which he lived and worked. And he thought about how hot and humid it was. And he felt that the back of his neck was, as the song said, “dirty and gritty.”

But deep down inside, Henry knows that it’s actually the entire city that is dirty and gritty. He knows that it’s actually his own heart and soul that are dirty and gritty.

Isn’t it a pity?


D17F8EA2-3E74-4521-B0DE-B975836A6F9ARepublicans in Congress have lost their minds.

In a bill that would be popular only among hardcore right-wingers and, of course, the NRA, Republicans in the House of Representatives could pass legislation as early as this week that would roll back decades-old restrictions on gun silencers, opening up the market for a device that critics say would make it difficult in a mass shooting to detect where gunfire is coming from.

Republicans say the provision, euphemistically called the Hearing Protection Act, doesn’t really silence the sound of gunfire. It only diminishes it enough, supporters say, to shield hunters and recreational shooters from hearing damage.

One Republican congressman explained, “It isn’t a silencer because it still makes sound, but what it does is cuts the percentage of the noise down to make shooting sports a little nicer for people’s hearing.”

So do ear plugs.

Written for today’s one-word prompt, “popular.”