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Three Big Things
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Trump and the new politics of honoring war dead

Trump and the new politics of honoring war dead

After her Army son died in an armored vehicle rollover in Syria in May, Sheila Murphy says, she got no call or letter from President Donald Trump, even as she waited months for his condolences, wrote to him to say 'some days I don't want to live,' and still heard nothing. In contrast, Trump called to comfort Eddie and Aldene Lee about 10 days after their Army son was killed in an explosion while on patrol in Iraq in April. 'Lovely young man,' Trump said, according to Aldene. She thought that was a beautiful word to hear about her boy, 'lovely.' Like presidents before him, Trump has made personal contact with some families of the fallen, not all. What's different is that Trump, alone among them, has picked a political fight over who's done better to honor the war dead and their families. He placed himself at the top of this pantheon, boasting Tuesday that 'I think I've called every family of someone who's died' while past presidents didn't place such calls. But The Associated Press found relatives of two soldiers who died overseas during Trump's presidency who said they never received a call or a letter from him, as well as relatives of a third who did not get a call. And proof is plentiful that Barack Obama and George W. Bush — saddled with far more combat casualties than the roughly two dozen so far under Trump, took painstaking steps to write, call or meet bereaved military families. The subject arose because nearly two weeks passed before Trump called the families of four U.S. soldiers who were killed in Niger nearly two weeks ago. He made the calls Tuesday. Meanwhile, Rep. Frederica Wilson said late Tuesday that Trump told the widow of a slain soldier that he 'knew what he signed up for.' The Florida Democrat said she was in the car with Myeshia Johnson on the way to Miami International Airport to meet the body of Johnson's husband, Sgt. La David Johnson, when Trump called. Wilson says she heard part of the conversation on speakerphone. When asked by Miami station WPLG if she indeed heard Trump say that she answered: 'Yeah, he said that. To me, that is something that you can say in a conversation, but you shouldn't say that to a grieving widow.' She added: 'That's so insensitive.' Sgt. Johnson was among four servicemen killed in the Niger ambush. Wilson said that she didn't hear the entire conversation and Myeshia Johnson told her she couldn't remember everything that was said. The White House didn't immediately comment Trump's delay in publicly discussing the men lost at Niger did not appear to be extraordinary, judging from past examples, but his politicization of the matter is. He went so far Tuesday as to cite the death of chief of staff John Kelly's son in Afghanistan to question whether Obama had properly honored the war dead. Kelly was a Marine general under Obama when his Marine son Robert died in 2010. 'You could ask General Kelly, did he get a call from Obama?' Trump said on Fox News radio. Democrats and some former government officials were livid, accusing Trump of 'inane cruelty' and a 'sick game.' Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, an Iraq veteran who lost both legs when her helicopter was attacked, said: 'I just wish that this commander in chief would stop using Gold Star families as pawns in whatever sick game he's trying to play here.' For their part, Gold Star families, which have lost members in wartime, told AP of acts of intimate kindness from Obama and Bush when those commanders in chief consoled them. Trump initially claimed that only he among presidents made sure to call families. Obama may have done so on occasion, he said, but 'other presidents did not call.' He equivocated Tuesday as the record made plain that his characterization was false. 'I don't know,' he said of past calls. But he said his own practice was to call all families of the war dead. But that hasn't happened: No White House protocol demands that presidents speak or meet with the families of Americans killed in action — an impossible task in a war's bloodiest stages. But they often do. Altogether some 6,900 Americans have been killed in overseas wars since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the overwhelming majority under Bush and Obama. Despite the much heavier toll on his watch — more than 800 dead each year from 2004 through 2007 — Bush wrote to all bereaved military families and met or spoke with hundreds if not thousands, said his spokesman, Freddy Ford. Veterans groups said they had no quarrel with how presidents have recognized the fallen or their families. 'I don't think there is any president I know of who hasn't called families,' said Rick Weidman, co-founder and executive director of Vietnam Veterans of America. 'President Obama called often and President Bush called often. They also made regular visits to Walter Reed and Bethesda Medical Center, going in the evenings and on Saturdays.' ___ Bynum reported from Savannah, Georgia. Jonathan Drew in Raleigh, North Carolina, Kristen de Groot in Philadelphia, Jennifer McDermott in Providence, Rhode Island, Michelle Price in Salt Lake City, and Hope Yen and Robert Burns in Washington contributed to this report.

Trump presses tax reform as Senate begins debate on GOP budget outline

Trump presses tax reform as Senate begins debate on GOP budget outline

President Donald Trump urged conservative activists on Tuesday night to help lobby Senators in favor of a GOP tax reform package, as despite some infighting, Republicans seemed like they would be able to approve a budget outline this week in the Senate, a plan which would allow for future legislative action on a tax bill – without the threat of a Senate filibuster. “Let’s give our country the best Christmas present of all – massive tax relief,” the President said in a speech at the Heritage Foundation, where his vow of big tax cuts drew large cheers from the audience. “This is our once-in-a-generation opportunity to revive our economy,” Mr. Trump added, though he acknowledged that he doesn’t expect much support from Democrats in the Congress. Pres. Trump says tax plan will simplify tax code so 'vast majority of families will be able to file their taxes on a single sheet of paper.' pic.twitter.com/tpFGtRfgfS — ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) October 17, 2017 Before any tax bill can be brought up on the floor of the House and Senate, both chambers must approve a budget outline for 2018, which authorizes the use of the ‘budget reconciliation’ process for tax reform – helping the GOP to avoid a Senate filibuster. That was the same legislative tool used in a failed bid to overhaul the Obama health law. In an important sign for the White House, Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) – who had been absent for weeks with an illness, returned to Capitol Hill on Tuesday – and then, GOP leaders won the support of another key Republican Senator, who has tangled repeatedly with the President. “I support the Senate budget resolution because it provides a path forward on tax reform,” said Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who still wants GOP leaders to add more money to the budget outline for military needs. Still not ready to commit to the budget or tax plans was Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who lobbed a series of pointed jabs at both McCain, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), accusing them of trying to use budget gimmicks to funnel more money to the Pentagon, instead of finding ways to restrain spending. Rand Paul: “Lindsey graham wouldn’t know a conservative if he met one…” — Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) October 17, 2017 In a first test vote, the Senate voted 50-47 in favor of beginning debate on the budget framework for 2018, which would balance the budget by 2026. A House budget outline would achieve that a year later. No Democrats joined with Republicans to begin the Senate debate, as right now, the White House faces a difficult task in getting any Democratic lawmakers to endorse the President’s budget or tax plans. “It’s going to be hard to get the Democrats, because they’re obstructionists, and they vote in blocks,” the President said in his Tuesday night speech. If no Democrats cross party lines on taxes, that makes it all the more important for the GOP to stick together in the Senate, or the GOP could face the same outcome as on health care reform. No legislative language for a tax reform plan has been released as yet by the GOP. Lawmakers don’t expect to see all the details until next month.

JEA moves forward with major solar expansion

JEA moves forward with major solar expansion

JEA is looking at expanding its solar footprint by more than 600%. The Board took a series of actions Tuesday to change the utility’s Energy Mix Policy, and specifically boost solar in the future. They first agreed to alter a 2010 resolution that required up to 30% of JEA’s energy to be supplied by nuclear energy generation by 2030. Instead, they’re now adding some flexibility by committing that 30% target can be achieved through carbon-free and carbon-neutral means, which will also incorporate solar, biomass, landfill gas, wind, or other clean sources. Looking specifically at solar, the JEA Board has authorized the Managing Director to negotiate to buy two parcels of land, which will be used for new solar developments. These two parcels will go along with two others already in JEA’s property portfolio, with each of the four expected to host at least 50 MW. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2020. JEA will own the propert, but lease it to solar companies and then buy power. In expanding their solar portfolio, JEA noted universal solar allows them to lock in the current rate for a portion of their generation requirements. JEA says the current rate is low and competitive, and on par with JEA’s fuel rate. The utility believes that expanding their solar generation will not only promote their new Energy Mix Policy, but will also help lower the cost of the JEA SolarSmart offering. In all, they say this will mean benefits for customers and the environment. This solar expansion comes on the heels of the Trump Administration reversing course on rules from the prior Administration that were designed to cut back on carbon emissions. Regardless of that reversal, JEA has continued to move forward on cleaner energy. In partnership with FPL, they’re also closing the St. Johns River Power Park in the coming months. JEA also says their newest solar farm just came online Friday.

From JEA to JSO, there were many organizations and volunteers that helped Jacksonville get back on its feet after Hurricane Irma ripped through our city.   The Cox Media Group family of radio and television stations would love you to come out, have a drink, listen to live music, and thank a first responder at First Responder Friday!
From JEA to JSO, there were many organizations and volunteers that helped Jacksonville get back on its feet after Hurricane Irma ripped through our city.   The Cox Media Group family of radio and television stations would love you to come out, have a drink, listen to live music, and thank a first responder at First Responder Friday!
From JEA to JSO, there were many organizations and volunteers that helped Jacksonville get back on its feet after Hurricane Irma ripped through our city.   The Cox Media Group family of radio and television stations would love you to come out, have a drink, listen to live music, and thank a first responder at First Responder Friday!
From JEA to JSO, there were many organizations and volunteers that helped Jacksonville get back on its feet after Hurricane Irma ripped through our city.   The Cox Media Group family of radio and television stations would love you to come out, have a drink, listen to live music, and thank a first responder at First Responder Friday!
Trump presses tax reform as Senate begins debate on GOP budget outline

President Donald Trump urged conservative activists on Tuesday night to help lobby Senators in favor of a GOP tax reform package, as despite some infighting, Republicans seemed like they would be able to approve a budget outline this week in the Senate, a plan which would allow for future legislative action on a tax bill – without the threat of a Senate filibuster.

“Let’s give our country the best Christmas present of all – massive tax relief,” the President said in a speech at the Heritage Foundation, where his vow of big tax cuts drew large cheers from the audience.

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