HHS evils weren’t enough to prevent GOP losses

Dear President Trump,

I feel like I should go to Target and buy up a bunch of lipsticks to send you so you can try to pretty up the pig that, to you, is the lost Kentucky Governor’s seat. There’s no amount of spin that’s going to convince any sentient being that you all are still in good shape there, that Mitch McConnell doesn’t have a thing to worry about. I know your guy won in Mississippi, but you all must be totally losing it over Virginia and those three key counties in Pennsylvania (Chester, Delaware and Bucks). Plus Kentucky.

And the timing of these GOP losses is interesting since I’m sure it didn’t go unnoticed by your most enthusiastic peeps that starting last Friday, HHS has stopped enforcing the part of the rule that agencies receiving HHS funds cannot discriminate on the basis of religion, sexual orientation, or gender expression. This is your all’s stopgap measure until you can jam through the proposed new HHS rule (45 CFR Part 75RIN 0991-AC16) granting broad religious and moral exemptions to agencies receiving HHS funding. I don’t think these shitty things are the same as the other shitty thing allowing anyone in the healthcare system to refuse serving someone they think should rot in hell, but it’s all very confusing and I’m not sure if you have multiple attacks going at once (fortunately a US District Court judge in NY declared the healthcare worker rule unconstitutional today).

The messaging around all this has been terrible. On Friday the WP ran an article by Ariana Eungung Cha that led with Azar having proposed the new agency-oriented rule (this detail wasn’t included in the article – I’m just putting it in here to clarify which thing is being talked about; 45 CFR Part 75RIN 0991-AC16):

“Citing concerns about religious freedom, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Friday proposed a new rule that would effectively eliminate discrimination protections for LGBTQ individuals in all its grant programs.”

But closed with:

“HHS said on Friday it would begin immediate enforcement of the nondiscrimination change.”

Cha did not do a good job of parsing out what is going on and so far the rest of the coverage has been equally spotty. Thus, I’ve spent way too much time trying to get it straight and I’m only about 60% confident that I’ve got it. Whatever is really going on, the whole thing is surreal and it is evil. It’s like you all are trying to play God (capital G included very intentionally), a very narrow, mean version of God – certainly not the Jesus version of God.

As horrible as it is that you and your Evangelical wing is trying to drag us back into the dark ages with your “nondiscrimination change” (could that wording be any more weirdly coded?), the voters’ repudiation of your candidates in VA, PA, and KY is heartening. I mean that timing with the announcement coming out on Friday about this shitty HHS change could not have been a coincidence and still you weren’t able to capitalize on it.

Dang. That pig is going to need eye shadow and lipstick!

May we all be safe when we need help.
May we all be willing to treat one another as precious beings.
May we care for the health and well-being of everyone.
May we make peace with our differences and stop weaponizing them.

Tracy Simpson

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