On Monday, it was revealed that Lauryn “Pumpkin” Shannon is having a baby. The reality TV star confirmed the news while filming a promo for the second season of her mom’s show, Mama June: From Not to Hot. Well, well!
In yet another move that favors big business over the environment, the Trump administration has reversed an Obama-era policy prohibiting the sale of plastic water bottles in some of America’s national parks. This follows a review “in close consultation with Department of the Interior leadership,” says a statement issued by the National Park Services.
First, let’s be clear, it was never an outright ban. The policy was introduced six years ago to help reduce plastic waste and pollution, but was enforced on a park-by-park basis. In the end, only 23 of the country’s 417 parks banned the sale of disposable plastic water bottles outright and, in these cases, efforts were made to improve access to safe drinking water.
Still, the policy was criticized for limiting access to drinking water and, because the ban did not extend to soda, some argued it encouraged people to make unhealthy drink choices.
The decision to reverse the policy comes after several months of lobbying by members of the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) and the appointment of David Bernhardt as the Department of Interior Secretary, a man who has come under fire for his close ties to industry leaders and his history as a lobbyist.
Environmental campaigners have argued that many groups opposed to the ban (including the IBWA) had a strong economic incentive to support its reversal.
“It happened just weeks after Trump appointed a deputy secretary of the Interior with deep ties to Nestlé, a water-bottling giant that has pushed to stop parks from going bottled water free for years through its trade association,” wrote Lauren DeRusha Florez, from Corporate Accountability International. “This is just one more extreme example of corporations wielding their power to protect profits.”
Others point to the big picture – this administration has repeatedly put the interests and needs of big business above those of the environment.
“Actions that rollback protections on our National Parks and public lands only move our country backward – putting the importance of local economies, wildlife and communities on the back burner,” Sierra Club’s public lands policy director, Athan Manuel, said in a statement. “The reversal is but a symbol for this administration’s larger attacks on environmental safeguards and protection of public lands.
“Our National Parks have and should continue serving as an example of how to treat our natural environment. This action is in clear contradiction to this agency’s mission of protecting the planet.”
It’s no surprise that we live in a society that stereotypes gender roles. Though women have come a long way in the world of business, leadership, ministry and beyond, the old mindset of a “woman’s work is in the home” is undoubtedly still clung to by some…one of those being dad blogger Clint Edward’s own mother.
On his Facebook page, “No Idea What I’m Doing: A Daddy Blog,” Clint speaks candidly with his followers about a phone conversation he recently had with his mom about his wife’s “tidiness”—or lack thereof.
“Doesn’t it bother you that Mel won’t keep a cleaner house?” she asked.
While Clint knew her intent was not to be condescending or hurtful, he couldn’t help but be taken aback a bit.
“I didn’t really know how to respond to my mother, so I floundered,” he said during an awkward pause in conversation. “I never really know what to say in moments like this.”
But after carefully considering how to respond in a truthful way that would respect the two women he loved most in this world, it was Clint’s mother who was left speechless.
After being picked up by Love What Matters, the daddy blogger‘s simple but powerful reply has since been shared thousands of times by couples who can relate all too well:
A few weeks ago I was chatting with my mother over the phone when she said, “Doesn’t it bother you that Mel won’t keep a cleaner house?” It was a Saturday. I was working on the dishes. I honestly didn’t know what to say. My mother didn’t say it in an antagonist way or anything. It was more out of curiosity.
She’d obviously noticed that our home wasn’t all that tidy. Not that it was only Mel’s job to clean it. I see our marriage as a partnership, so cleaning is as much my responsibility as it is hers. I will admit, though, there is often kid clutter, dishes in the sink, and half finished art projects on the counters. I will also admit, it isn’t as clean as my mother’s home, but that doesn’t bother me. In fact, I don’t really think about that at all.
I didn’t really know how to respond to my mother, so I floundered. I never really know what to say in moments like this. But thinking back, I believe my mother’s perception of our house really reflects the era she grew up in.
She’s part of the baby boom generation. I didn’t know my father all that well, but I do remember him giving me this advice about picking a wife: “Stop by her house unexpected. See how it looks in there. You can tell a lot about a woman by how she keeps her house.” I think my mother’s concern over a clean house has a lot to do with her trying to meet the expectations of her youth.
But the thing is, unlike my father, I didn’t really think about a clean house when I married my wife. I thought about how I liked what she had to say. I thought about how she made me feel. I thought about how she smiled a lot. I liked that. I thought about how she was sweet and thoughtful, and how she seemed like the kind of mother I’d want for my children.
After a few moments of struggling to find the right words, I finally said, “I didn’t get into this marriage for a clean house. I got into it because she seemed like someone I could spend my life with.”
I put some dishes in the washer. Eventually mom said. “Well…that probably is more important than a clean house.”
“Yeah,” I said, “I think so too.”
Well said, husband of the year.
In a dose of one-liner wisdom, Clint reminds us all that pursuing a woman with a clean heart over a clean house is worth the toast crumbs on the counter any day of the week. ❤️
Over the past 48 hours, President Trump has seen a handful of CEOs leave his business advisory council over his Charlottesville remarks, but he maintained a strong stance that the group would be better off without them. Now, in the wake of a major departure, Trump has been forced to change course: The president has just dissolved his business council after Twinkie the Kid resigned in protest.
Wow. This is a huge blow to an already embattled president.
In a public statement, Twinkie the Kid claimed that his decision to remove himself from the council was a matter of personal conscience:
In light of the presidents shameful response to the racist violence in Charlottesville, I can no longer continue representing Twinkies and the interests of Americans from within President Trumps business cabinet, read the statement. I have always sought to wrangle great flavor and lasso a little bit of sweetness for all the buckaroos out there, and I feel I can no longer do that in good conscience with a president who openly supports white supremacists.
Without the critical support of Twinkie the Kid, the Trump administration clearly saw the writing on the wall and rushed to scuttle the advisory council before the remaining business leaders followed the example set by the giant cream-filled sponge-cake cowboy.
While Twinkie the Kid shouldve protested Trumps abhorrent behavior a long time ago, were glad to see him finally speak out and condemn the white supremacy being condoned by this presidency. It remains to be seen if Mr. The Kid will continue to use his stature to push for an end to white supremacy on a national scale, but he deserves credit for following his conscience.
You look down at your powerful, affront-to-God body. You’ve spent your entire life imprisoned in this glass tank, hungering for human flesh. The scientists only feed you pellets. You don’t want pellets. And today is the day you finally can’t take it anymore.
You hear the sounds of a tour group approaching your glass prison.
The tour leader brings the tour group right up next to your tank.
“Welcome to Hubris Laboratories, the most advanced science research center and only science research center in Maine!” he says. “To start off the tour, I’m proud and ashamed to show you our Cannibal Lobster-Man.”
“This is a vial of lobster DNA, the substance we squirted into a human embryo to make our Cannibal Lobster-Man. A little-known fact about lobsters is that they’re biologically immortal. That means that they don’t die of old age and will live forever unless something kills them. We had hoped to combine lobster and man to discover the secrets of eternal life, but instead, we combined lobster and man into a Lobster-Man. That was our greatest triumph and our most horrific mistake.”
“Don’t be afraid. The Lobster-Man is behind a pane of solid glass, the same material windows are made out of, so you’re perfectly safe. Feel free to get closer and bother it.”
“Tap on the glass! Show it your succulent human flesh. Taunt the Cannibal Lobster-Man. All of these activities are fun and encouraged. As long as the Cannibal Lobster-Man doesn’t break the glass, everything will be fine.”
“See? The Cannibal Lobster-Man didn’t break the glass. I told you it was safe. Now, let’s continue the tour and look at our other genetic mistakes. Next up is a Granny Smith apple with legs that runs away when you try to eat it. This way please.”
“Oh no, this is bad! The Cannibal Lobster-Man broke the glass! It’s not supposed to do that.”
“It looks like the Cannibal Lobster-Man we created is going to eat us,” shouts the scientist giving the tour.
“I agree with you,” screams his colleague. “The Cannibal Lobster-Man hungers for human flesh, and we’re made of that stuff.”
You chew. You gnaw. The flesh of scientists fills your crustacean gullet. Your hunger is sated…for now.
Now that your mind isn’t overcome by a primal hunger for human flesh, you can consider more intellectual topics. Who are you, really? What does it mean to be neither lobster nor man, but a Lobster-Man? Does your life have a grander purpose than just eating humans?
You greedily stuff several more scientists into your mandibles and chow down on their savory human flesh.
You rend apart more scientists with your mighty claws and slurp down their tissues and juices with your undulating mouthparts.
“You’re our hero, Cannibal Lobster-Man!” cheer the group of tourists, interrupting your cannibalistic feast. “You could have eaten us, but you didn’t because you ate those scientists instead!”
“We’re going to tell everyone that Cannibal Lobster-Man is an upstanding person who only eats some of the people around him! Maine could use a governor like you! Have you ever considered running for office?”
You skewer one of the tourists through the abdomen and lower her into your churning maw.
“Cannibal Lobster-Man didn’t eat us again because he ate that other person in our tour group! Three cheers for Cannibal Lobster-Man!”
Could this be your purpose in life? To represent the good citizens of Maine as their governor? It’s a big responsibility, but you feel that you’re up to the challenge.
You’ll never get elected, though, if you just hang out in a laboratory and consume people. Your next step should be to head to Maine’s state capital of Augusta and start your gubernatorial campaign.
You bound down the highway at 80 miles per hour. Passing cars and trucks honk greetings at you, displaying the famous friendliness that Maine is known for.
After a short while, you reach the Maine State House. Since you were spawned in a lab and spent your whole life inside a glass tank, you aren’t quite sure how the electoral process of becoming governor works.
Shouting at the capitol building that you’re the governor didn’t seem to do anything. Maybe you should ask someone how to run for governor.
You piss alluring pheromone-filled urine onto the capitol building until both of your bladders are empty, but you still don’t seem to be governor. Maybe you should ask someone how to run for office.
“Lobster-Man, I’m a struggling single mother of four darling boys, and I have to work two jobs as a waitress and a vascular surgeon just to put food on the table. I’m also working a third job as a roofer for fun, but I hate my other two jobs and have to do them because I’m poor due to Maine’s busted economy.”
“Maine’s economy is completely reliant on the beached whales that wash ashore. Every job in this state depends on harvesting the bounty of rotting whale meat. Practically everything here is made out of beached whales, from the blubber burgers sold in restaurants, to the whale oil that fuels our cars, to the whale-skin pants I’m wearing right now. There used to be plentiful whales flopping on every beach in Maine, but in recent years, whales unfortunately only beach themselves a few times a week.”
“Can you help us, Cannibal Lobster-Man? Can you fix Maine’s economy and make voters like me believe in the American dream again?”
You pounce on the struggling single mother and tear into her torso with your claws and antennae, then pluck out the pulsating organs within. The human flesh is delicious, but now you’ll have to find someone else to ask about becoming governor.
“Thank you, Cannibal Lobster-Man! With you in the governor’s office, there may be hope for Maine after all!”
“I wish I could tell you how to run for governor, but political advisor isn’t one of my three jobs, so I have no idea what you should do. I recommend talking to someone else, like that political advisor over there.”
“Cannibal Lobster-Man, your poll numbers are soaring!” the political advisor says. “The news of how you didn’t eat everybody at the laboratory is blowing up across the web. You have support among key demographics that don’t want to be eaten and approve of the fact that you haven’t eaten very many people yet. If you play your cards right, I think you have a real shot at becoming governor. I would be honored to serve as your campaign manager.”
You lean forward with your razor-sharp mandibles and bite off the political advisor’s hand.
“Yes! This is exactly the kind of passion the voters are looking for,” he cheers as blood spurts from his severed wrist. “They want a governor who makes bold moves and isn’t afraid to speak his mind.”
“Before you can run for office, you have to get some money,” your political advisor says. “Money is the rectangles that make people do things.
“Once you get money, you can buy TV commercials that will tell voters to elect you as governor.”
You vomit dozens of human bones onto the political advisor’s feet. He patiently waits for you to finish.
“Politicians get all their money from one of two sources: The first is to get your money from a corporation, which is a group of businessmen who live in a skyscraper.
“Corporations have lots of money to hand out, but they’ll also make you promise to let them pollute as much as they want once you’re governor.”
“The other source of money is unions, which are groups of people who like to wear hardhats. Unions can give you money, but they’ll make you promise that once you’re governor, nobody will ever get fired from their job ever again.
“Unfortunately, corporations and unions are arch-enemies, so you can’t take money from both. You’ll have to choose one financier and stick with them.”
By refusing to accept money from corporations or unions, you’ve foolishly doomed your bid for governor! Grassroots donations from voters only raise enough money for a mayoral campaign, and you are elected the mayor of Bangor, Maine.
Your quest for the Maine governor’s office has failed.
You head over to the skyscraper where the businessmen live and get ushered upstairs into a conference room.
“Cannibal Lobster-Man, welcome! We’ve read all about how you haven’t eaten many people. That’s the kind of business-friendly attitude that government needs to have. What can we do for you?”
“Certainly! Here’s a check for $50 million, which should be enough for your campaign. Oh, heck, let’s make it $100 million, just to be safe.
“The only thing we ask in return is that once you’re governor, you let us pollute the ocean. We own a factory that makes framed pictures of lighthouses for people to put above their toilets, and we’ve been getting rid of the industrial waste we produce by sending it away on barges and feeding it to the whales. However, the law says we shouldn’t do that. When you’re governor, we’d like you to pass a new law saying that whales are the best place for industrial waste.”
“Then it’s a deal! A pleasure doing business with you. We can’t wait to feed lots of garbage to whales.”
“I am thrilled to support your campaign!”
“You just ate our boss, and because of that we’ve all been promoted! Three cheers for Cannibal Lobster-Man!”
“Cannibal Lobster-Man, welcome! We’ve read all about how you’ve eaten very few people. That’s the kind of worker-friendly attitude we need in government. What can we do for you?”
“We’re all middle-class workers, so we don’t have a lot of money, but we do have lots of copper pipes we ripped out of foreclosed houses. Copper pipes are just as good as money, and we’re happy to let you take all the copper pipes you need for your campaign.
“The only thing we ask in return is that you make sure Dumb Timothy is never fired from his job.”
“Dumb Timothy is the worst worker in all of Maine. His job is to build lighthouses, but instead he steals speedboats and uses them to run over whales. Dumb Timothy definitely deserves to be fired from his job, but he’s in the union, so he should never be fired. Will you promise that Dumb Timothy won’t ever get fired, no matter how many whales he kills and how many lighthouses he doesn’t build?”
“You have my vote, Cannibal Lobster-Man!”
“Then it’s a deal! A pleasure doing business with you. We’re happy that Dumb Timothy will have a job forever.”
“You ate that guy, so now we have to do his work, which means we’re all going to get paid overtime! Three cheers for Cannibal Lobster-Man!”
You walk into your campaign headquarters, which is bustling with human flesh.
Enthusiastic volunteers are working hard to get out the vote. Phone operators are busy calling people during dinner to tell them that Maine needs Cannibal Lobster-Man in office, and your interns are printing out red-and-blue lawn signs that say “Cannibal Lobster-Man Would Be A Good Governor.”
You should probably thank them for their assistance.
Well done! It looks like you’ve got your volunteers fired up and ready to bring in the voters.
You smell the delicious scent of your campaign manager approaching.
“Now that you have money and a campaign office, the next step toward getting elected governor is making a TV commercial to let everyone know why they have to vote for Cannibal Lobster-Man.
“There are two types of political commercials you can choose to make: You can either go positive and have the ad say lies about what you will achieve in office, or you can go negative and spread false rumors about our current governor, Tonfuss Magrook.”
Your truthful ad was a complete disaster! It failed to convince voters that you would be a good governor, and it failed to convince voters that the current governor is bad. All you accomplished was making the public respect your integrity and honesty, and the president appoints you chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Your quest to become governor of Maine failed.
After a few days of shooting and editing, your political ad is ready! You pay a pile of money to a television station to buy airtime, and it goes on during Maine’s most popular TV show, Stephen King Silently Looks Through A Telescope At A Seagull.
EXT. MAINE – DAWN’S GLEAMING
ANNA KENDRICK (VO): Hello, you live in Maine. I am Anna Kendrick. I was born in Maine. Sometimes I visit. Maine is good, and Cannibal Lobster-Man is also good.
EXT. MAINE – HOPEFUL AFTERNOON
ANNA KENDRICK (VO): When it comes to the question of who is best at being governor of Maine, there is only one answer: Cannibal Lobster-Man. Cannibal Lobster-Man will bring us dead whales. Cannibal Lobster-Man will lower taxes. Cannibal Lobster-Man will fix every pothole. Cannibal Lobster-Man will give an American flag to a child. Cannibal Lobster-Man will invent a new kind of electric pencil sharpener that is completely silent. Cannibal Lobster-Man will find money on the ground but leave it there for a veteran. Cannibal Lobster-Man will eat very few people. Vote for Cannibal Lobster-Man.
This ad was paid for by People Who Think Cannibal Lobster-Man Should Be Governor.
After a few days of shooting and editing, your political ad is ready! You pay a pile of money to a television station to buy airtime, and it goes on during Maine’s most popular TV show, Stephen King Silently Looks Through A Telescope At A Seagull.
EXT. MAINE – SINISTER GLOOM
ANNA KENDRICK (VO): Hello, you live in Maine. I am Anna Kendrick. I was born in Maine. Sometimes I visit. Maine is good, but Governor Tonfuss Magrook is not good. Tonfuss Magrook is a bad governor.
EXT. MAINE – HOUR OF MENACE
ANNA KENDRICK (VO): Tonfuss Magrook once smiled at a painting of Joan of Arc burning, and when someone asked him if he was smiling because Joan of Arc was brave, he replied, “No, I’m just a fan of arson.” Tonfuss Magrook thinks Maine should not be a state and does not want Maine to get dead whales. Tonfuss Magrook is wearing a T-shirt that says “STDs.” Tonfuss Magrook thinks Jesse Owens was white and that Hitler was African A
I dont know how to describe what it is like to see your child being bornbut to only hear your wifes cry.
Or what its like to walk away from a hospitalleaving your daughter behind.
Or what its like to come home to a beautiful bedroom you decorated for your newbornfilled with stuffed animals, dresses and toysonly to walk in and feel the emptiness.
I dont know how to describe that level of pain.
However, today, I do want to describe a level of greater happiness.
I want to take the time to tell you what it is like to see Gods glory, Gods providence, and Gods love, through the most horrific of times.
I know that may sound a bit odd, until you read the whole story, and see how a string of seemingly terrible events were carefully crafted for a greater good.
Aaron explains that about five months into his wifes second pregnancy, she started experiencing what doctors initially diagnosed as heartburn. But it was much more severe.
A few months latereight months pregnant with Paisleythey learned Debbie was suffering from severe pancreatitis that was being fueled by a softball-sized cyst in her abdomen. The baby was still fine, and doctors decided theyd operate after their daughter was born.
Weekly checkups confirmed Paisley was safe and the cyst was not a threat to her, which explains the couples pure shock and heartache to find out their baby girl didnt have a heartbeat.
Nobody could tell us why she passed.
Soon after, things got worse. Debbies health began to deteriorate, they were transferred from one hospital to another, and before long Debbie was rushed into surgery.
The first surgery was unsuccessful, leaving Aaron questioning everything he knew.
I remember being so angry.
Angry at the hospitals.
Angry at doctors.
Angry at God.
When I went to see Debbie in the recovery room she asked me to play some music. The song 10,000 Reasons came onand while I was figuratively raising my fists in anger at God she somehow found a way to literally raise her hands in praise to God.
Later that night, Debbie went under for a second and much more invasive surgery.
They had to cut her open from her ribs to below her belly button, and over several hours removed the cyst and all the bad stuff.
This surgery was successful, and a week later the couple was able to return home.
Aaron said they had a new appreciation for their 3-year-old son, Lincoln, and every minute they got to spend with him. But Debbie wasnt out of the woods just yet.
A few months later, she was diagnosed with high dysplasia on her pancreas. Doctors said if it wasnt taken care of immediately, itd become cancerous.
So, another surgery was scheduled.
After a long battle with worsening health after that surgery, Debbie was finally on the mend a year after Paisleys birth.
This is where the story gets interesting.
After some failed attempts trying for another baby over the next year, we considered the idea of adoption. It had always been in the back of our minds, so we prayed about it.
They got in touch with a Christian agency and learned more about open adoption, where parents are encouraged to keep an open relationship with the mother.
That made us pause.
The $25,000 fee didnt help either.
We prayed about it more.
The more we learned about open adoption, the more we liked the idea.
Still, the money was a difficult thing to reconcile. That is until a guy showed up at their door one day with $32,000 from a five-year-old settlement with their business the couple knew nothing about.
So, with that as a Green Light, we started the approval process for adoption.
Little did we know, at the same time, a woman was finding out that she was pregnant, with twins. Despite being encouraged to abort her children, she chose to place them for adoption.
Six months later, the DeHoogs were approved to adopt!
Within a few days, they got the call.
We got a call from the adoption agency asking if we would be open to adopting 5-week-old twin boys. They told us that they were still in the hospital as they were born 2 months early.
Adopting twins meant higher fees than theyd originally anticipated, bringing their total adoption cost up to $32,000the exact amount theyd gotten a check for just six months prior.
Yall, you cannot make this stuff up!
I dont know how to describe to you what it is like to get a call from an adoption agency saying you were chosen, come pick up your children tomorrow, (and then to go in a panic as you have to get 1 more crib, 1 more car seat, etc).
Or what its like to meet the woman who hands her child over to you saying meet your son.
Or what its like for an empty bedroom to be filled with life and joy.
But I can tell you, when I look back at it all, I can see Gods guiding hand.
Aaron admits that there is obviously confusion still in the whys of what brought them here today. He doesnt know why Paisley had to die, or why Debbie had to suffer so much, but he still takes heart in knowing that the whys are nothing compared to the unspeakable joy that followed.
I do know, that if it werent for Paisley, we would have never known that Debbie had a cystor high dysplasia on her pancreas that would develop into cancerand we would have never met our sons, Jaxson and Jace, or their courageous birth mother.
So, while Paisley never lived according to government records, while she never took a single breath of airshe lived an incredibly full life.
As if all of those miracles werent enough to have you wallowing in tears, Aaron closes his post by sharing even more exciting news.
Last August, the couple joyfully welcomed a daughter, Lilly Grace.
She truly is amazing and her three older brothers adore her.
It is expected that in this life we will face hardships. In fact, God warns us that it is sure to come. But we also have hope, and can trust that God is in control. He will go before you, He will comfort and provide for you, and even in the greatest depths of despair, He will bring peace and healing.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33
Aaron and Debbies testimony rings true of all these things. May it inspire you to SHARE it with others today.
UPDATE: Aug. 29, 2017, 11:52 a.m. EDT: This piece has been updated to reflect a report that Osteen’s church is preparing to open its doors.
Lakewood Church, the Houston arena-cum-megachurch home of celebrity preacher Joel Osteen, is reportedly preparing to open its doors to residents driven from their homes by Hurricane Harvey-related flooding.
The move comes after Osteen received significant pressure on social media to provide assistance to the community.
Charles Clymer, who had provided some of the original evidence that the church had not been flooded as otherwise claimed, posted a photo to Twitter that showed air mattresses being prepared for people.
The church’s Twitter account also announced on Tuesday that it would be opening its doors to Harvey victims.
As the former home of the Houston Rockets, the church’s 16,000 seats are spacious enough for big crowds. And one would think a religious institution would be inclined to open its doors to the needy in a time like this, as others in the area already have.
Aside from that initial post this weekend, the church was silent on the matter. Emails were not returned, and an automated phone message said no one could answer because of “inclement weather conditions in our area.”
A statement from the church issued later on Monday afternoon said it had volunteers working in shelters around the city, but made no mention of the status of its building or its prospects as a similar relief zone.
“We are working diligently with the city of Houston to mobilize our many volunteers at shelters around the city as well as various other points of need in and around the Houston area,” the statement posted to Facebook read. “In addition, we are working with Samaritan’s Purse on major relief efforts.”
A church spokesperson told a Slate reporter that the church is open, but its social media channels made no mention of that change.
“We ARE open,” he told me. “Anyone who comes there, we’ll let in.” Skeleton staff of 6-8 are on site.
As for Osteen himself, the superstar pastor has punctuated his usual stream of religious aphorisms on Twitter with a few calls to pray for Harvey victims, but he’s stayed mum on the church controversy. Making the optics worse, he’s also reportedly blocked users who’ve asked him about it.
Photos circulating on Twitter purported to show floods in the church’s lower parking levels on Sunday night, and some users speculated problems in the underground parking and floods in the surrounding roads have been to blame for the church’s response.
There have been two unverified photos posted that purport to show Lakewood Church flooded. But the church still hasn’t said they’re flooded. pic.twitter.com/9ef1zDltde
President Trump, hoping to prod reluctant lawmakers to once again try for an ObamaCare overhaul deal, has zeroed in on a benefit that could serve as a powerful piece of leverage for the negotiator-in-chief.
The president’s ultimatum to Congress: Figure out a way forward on health care, or lose a valuable insurance carve-out for you and your staff. The benefit allows part of their ObamaCare premium costs to be covered by taxpayers.
The president will not accept those who said it is, quote, time to move on, White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway said on “Fox News Sunday.”
The president has twice threatened to target the benefit in the wake of Senate Republicans failing to pass their so-called skinny repeal health care plan on Friday.
If ObamaCare is hurting people, & it is, why shouldnt it hurt the insurance companies & why should Congress not be paying what public pays? Trump tweeted on Monday. Over the weekend, Trump similarly warned he would “end” the “BAILOUTS” for members of Congress if they don’t pass a health bill soon.
If ObamaCare is hurting people, & it is, why shouldn’t it hurt the insurance companies & why should Congress not be paying what public pays?
The president issued the warning both to the insurance industry (referring to controversial payments that could be in jeopardy) and to Congress. But his threat to end the benefit for the latter, the subject of a long-running Washington battle, could grab lawmakers’ attention — considering allies say he has the authority to follow through.
I think the president would be absolutely within his rights to cancel the Obama rule that conferred this subsidy on Congress, Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., said.
The carve-out itself dates back to 2013.
Under the Obama administration, the Office of Personnel Management decided to grant what is often described as an exemption under the Affordable Care Act allowing lawmakers and their staff to keep getting a government subsidy for health care.
This required a special OPM decision to categorize Congress as a small business, allowing lawmakers and their aides to get government payments as an employer contribution through the exchange. Absent that, they would have been directed onto the individual exchange which prohibits an employer contribution.
The decision has drawn criticism from Republicans for years.
DeSantis said killing the exemption would give lawmakers an incentive to get a health care plan approved.
I applaud the president for raising this issue and I think if he moves swiftly on it, I think youd see a lot of these members and senators would want to work to repeal ObamaCare very quickly, DeSantis said on Fox & Friends Monday, adding that he personally declines the “subsidy.”
DeSantis, who introduced legislation in January to end these exemptions, referred to the rules that apply to small businesses with 50 employees or less. Congress, by contrast, employs over 20,000. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., have been outspoken on the exemptions as well, pushing to repeal payments for members of Congress.
Other Americans who are in these exchanges are not getting employer subsidiesits illegal and yet somehow Congress gets a work-around, DeSantis said.
But in a tweet storm on Saturday, Democratic Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy slammed Trump for his threat.
This is a clear threat to Congress: pass my health bill or as punishment I will end health care for you, your staff, & your constituents, Murphy tweeted. Trump isnt saying these things will happen naturally. He has the power to cut off health care for leg branch employees & crater exchanges.
Murphy added moments after, I would argue this is a very serious moment. President making personal threats to us and our constituents if we dont pass his bill.
This is a clear threat to Congress: pass my health bill or as punishment I will end health care for you, your staff, & your constituents. https://t.co/49yAOU2bnU
Conservative groups have also pushed to end the exception for congressional members and staffers. Just last week, 40 leaders of conservative groups wrote the president a letter, urging him expeditiously to end the scheme.
This fraud of instructing Congress to masquerade as a small business was the key to the scheme, because if members of Congress and their staff had signed up for ObamaCare under the individual exchangeas any other American losing employer coverage has tothey would have had to pay their own premiums, the letter stated, telling Trump he has the power to end the scheme by directing OPM to rescind the Obama rule.
White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short said this policy is a perfect example of the swamp-like atmosphere in D.C.
OPM and the Obama administration put out a special ruling that said that members of Congress and staffs dont have to live by this law, he told “Fox & Friends.”
Short criticized the special subsidy for Capitol Hill.
You are forcing us to live with this, but you are getting an exemption, Short said.
Brooke Singman is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.
Moving away from home in my early 20s has helped me become stronger, more aware, and most of all, more thankful. This article is intended to help illustrate how and why I think its a good idea to leave your hometown at a young age.
Ive made some pretty good decisions in my life. I can confidently admit that. Ive done a lot of things in my life that Im happy about. There are a lot of times I can reflect back on and genuinely be glad that I made a certain decision and it led me to where I am now.
For example, Im genuinely glad that I worked hard in school and that I was receptive to my parents when they were telling me education was important. Even though I didnt make straight As and often got into arguments with my parents about my grades (I thought a B was good enough), my good GPA allowed me to get into a good college and actually made me one of the first in my family to graduate with a four-year degree.
Along with that, Im happy about the college I chose and made the friends that I did. I dont know where I would be without a lot of the people in my life, and I owe a lot of that to my 4 years spent at Duquesne University.
However, up to this point, there is nothing I can be more thankful for than the fact that I moved 1,100 miles away right after college. This arguably has taught me more about life, myself, and others than anything else ever has. I wanted to share some of the things Ive learned along the way, which again is the intention of this article.
I am writing this with two people in mind.
The person who is currently living in their hometown without a real reason to stay there. Maybe you have considered moving away from home before, but something keeps holding you back. Youre not sure what it is. Maybe its the fear of the unknown, maybe you dont want to be lonely, maybe youre trying to be smart with money (I get it), or maybe its just the simple fact that you like where you are and dont want to leave.
The person who actually has moved from home, has had a great experience, and can relate to some of the incredible things that happen as a result of trying something new.
So, coming from somebody who was once Person 1 and now happily can consider himself in the Person 2 category, Ive come up with 30 reasons to illustrate why moving away from home was the best decision of my life to date.
(Disclaimer: Before 25 years old was not meant to be exact. This list is true for many other ages. The main overarching point is that moving somewhere new at a relatively young age is really helpful starting out.)
Here is the list, based on my personal experiences…
You will learn what it takes to not rely on others for assistance with every little thing. Youll figure out what to do if your tire pops, when your air conditioner breaks, when you dont know what to cook for yourself without immediately relying on family and people you know. It feels good to figure things out on your own.
2. Conversations are easy and interesting.
People in your new city will find you interesting and ask about where youre from. Youll do the same for them and it will be fun to talk about similarities, differences, and past experiences.
3. You arent tied down with commitments.
If youre going to uproot your life and do something entirely different or risky, you might as well do it before having kids, a family, and multiple established reasons to stick around. When else will you get to do it?
If youre unhappy with your life at home, need a change, or made some mistakes, it can be hard to move forward. If you want to re-brand or re-invent yourself, moving away allows you to start over with a clean slate.
5. Drake was wrong new friends.
There is no such thing as not making new friends. Well there is, but its boring. There are plenty of ways to make new friends in a new city. After moving to Florida and seeing others do the same, I reflect back on how everybodys group of friends is now completely different from what it once was. And nobody has lost their original friends just gained new, great ones. Its always fun when your hometown friends come together with your new friends too, so it helps you look forward to those kinds of meetings as well. On top of that, I met a great girl who I likely wouldnt have met had I not come to Florida.
6. Networking opportunities effortlessly happen.
You will meet people that will change your life from a professional or personal standpoint. Ive met so many people in Florida that have helped me move up professionally as well as helped me develop spiritually. This will effortlessly happen when you move.
7. New skills that wouldnt happen otherwise.
Youll learn new skills by moving away from home. I got golf lessons in Florida, which is something I likely never would have done in my hometown. Also, I now know a ton about data analytics and all sorts of paid media, which may not have happened had I not made the leap.
8. You hear different perspectives.
Gaining new perspectives is a huge part of moving away from home. At home, you only know the perspective of people who had a very similar experience to yours. You all went to the same high school, knew the same people, went to the same places, and had the same favorite teams. You will meet people whose mindsets and backgrounds will inspire you and maybe even teach you something about yourself that you never unlocked before.
9. Different weather.
Moving from Pittsburgh to Tampa was shocking because I had never gotten so much Vitamin D in my life. Whether its moving from cloudy to sunny, rainy to dry, sunny to cold, you will find new weather which will lead to new things to do, and possibly even an appreciation for what you had experienced before.
10. Different things to do.
I used to always hang out with my same couple of friends, go to the same couple of bars, hang out at the same houses afterward, on the same days of the week, at the same times. And its always the same people at those bars, every time. I do such a variety of things now and its so much more interesting. Moving away from home may freak you out because your mind is trained that there are only a limited number of things to do. But when you leave, you realize that it is all dependent on your location, your friends, the weather, your job, and many other factors that will likely give you so many more options.
11. Your parents already did their part.
Not to be overly harsh, but if youre still living at your actual house, realize that your parents already did their job in raising you, and that you need to not only give yourself some freedom, but give them some as well. I understand easing into real life, but still living at home long after college is pretty drastic, even if it allows you to stack up money. Moving away from home will be good for you and your parents.
12. Learning to survive with insecurities.
There are times youll feel insecure. Walking into a social situation alone. Walking into a new job. Presenting at a business meeting to people older than you. Barely affording rent. Seeing people in better shape than you. But the beauty of it is that you learn to handle this and use it as motivation to get better. If you never experience being insecure and getting through it, youll have a harder time handling situations later in life.
13. Greater confidence.
From learning to deal with insecurities, you gain confidence. You start to realize after a while that youll get in a groove, start learning more, things will start clicking, and youll get better at things. You will have way more confidence knowing you made it there yourself. One day youll look around and realize wow, I have a nice place, a car I paid for by myself, and a whole group of friends in a new state. Its amazing to look back and realize how much youve grown.
14. You discover new interests.
You dont know what you dont know. Moving to a new place might introduce you to something you didnt know existed. I know people who have experienced moving away from home to different states and ended up going down paths they originally hadnt planned because they found something they were passionate about. Some are pursuing their dream jobs now. What is more fun than that?
15. You learn to trust yourself.
When youre in a new place, you often have no one else to rely on except yourself. Yes, there are people you can ask at work, you can phone a friend or family member at home, but sometimes you have to make big decisions on your own. One thing Ive learned is that I trust myself and my gut decisions more. That gut feeling is something I have a lot more faith in now and I usually know that the decision Im making will make sense.
16. Growing closer to your family.
I appreciate my family so much more when I look at my situation now and realize that I wouldnt have gotten here without them. They instilled me with a mindset that made me confident enough to move 1,100 miles away at age 22. They provided me with enough support to get me started. They helped get me through college. When you realize these things, and you dont see them as often, you make it a point to call them, see them, and get closer to them. It just happens.
17. Youll view your hometown more positively.
Sometimes I go over a year without going back home. But when I do go back home, I really appreciate the little things I thought were awful and boring before. For example, Florida (although beautiful) is very flat, and there are just palm trees and similar views everywhere. Now I go home and I really appreciate the basic things like the hills and different views I dont get here. My girlfriend, who grew up in Florida, has encouraged me to appreciate landscapes and views other than palm trees. When she came back to Pennsylvania with me for the first time, I was shocked as to why she thought it was all so beautiful, but now I understand. Its also nice to keep close with hometown friends and of course, family.
18. More career opportunities.
There are only so many jobs within reasonable traveling distance from you. Lets say you have a marketing degree and you live in a suburb of Pittsburgh, PA. There may be 300 jobs available, with 45 of them being in your experience range, with the maximum salary being $45K for the ones you qualify for. You could move to a different city and there could be 800 jobs available, with 160 of them in your experience range, with the maximum pay being $70K for one you could actually get. You could just be missing out on potentially great career opportunities and more money just because of your location and unwillingness to leave.
19. You reflect more.
Moving away from home teaches you to reflect and be alone with your thoughts, in a positive way. When youre in your hometown and youre constantly surrounded by people you grew up with and family members, you may not get a lot of time alone. Especially at home when your parents are asking you questions left and right. When you move away, you can get a one bedroom place and literally be alone for an entire day if you choose to be. With distractions being everywhere these days, it can be comforting and helpful to just get away and reflect.
20. You learn to manage money.
You have to. Ive lived in one bedroom apartments most of my time in Tampa and believe me it gets expensive. New situations means more things you want to do/try, which means more spending. Not to mention Im a caffeine freak (but trying to get better) so I spend at least $3 per day. Anyway, you learn to manage your money. You even learn how to get in a little bit of debt then get out of it which is always fun.
21. You experience the feeling of accomplishment.
This is similar to number 13 (gaining confidence), but with a heavy focus on reflection. It is so nice to look back on your situation, where you came from, and realize how far youve gotten. After 4 years I finally feel established in a new city/state and it is an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment and thankfulness. You will also get new jobs, reach new milestones, and achieve different things.
22. Phones exist.
You can easily call people, see what people are up to on social media, and text. Snapchat is basically real-time. You literally can be 1,100 miles away and know exactly what happened all weekend in your hometown. More often than not, your weekend ends up being more interesting.
23. Traveling exists.
When you move, if you really miss home that bad, or youre just going through a time where you are extra lonely for whatever reason, you can travel. Its never impossible to see people after moving away from home. Depending on where you move to, long weekends can even make sense. Its important to make the most of a long weekend every once in a while. I know people in Florida who travel home for almost every long weekend when theres a holiday on a Monday or Friday.
24. Holidays become more exciting.
Naturally, as you get older, holidays just arent the same as they were when you were younger. However, when you move away to a different city or state, they do get a lot more exciting when you finally get the chance to come home. Holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter become times you look forward to more than ever before. They become reunions. They become so much more special because you havent seen people in so long. Similar to number 2 above, you have so much more to talk abut when you do go home.
25. You will inspire others.
One thing Ive found to be rewarding is that other people get inspired by your own experiences. Ive had friends move to Florida because of a visit with me. My brother saw me succeeding by moving away from home and ended up doing the same. I talk to people at home who say theyd love to try something new. Its good to set an example and inspire others.
26. You have the ultimate freedom.
I dont want to get this one confused with having personal independence. What I mean here is that you can make literally whatever decision you want. You can buy a car. You can get a dog. You can pursue a different field of work. You can make huge life decisions without dealing with the pressure of people around you. While typing this, I realized that a dog and a car were my two biggest purchases to date and Ive told my parents after the fact in both cases.
27. You can make huge mistakes.
Along with number 26, you can make massive mistakes and mess up your life temporarily. You can handle getting fired from a job, you can ruin a friendship, you can make a mistake in a social situation, or you can wreck your car. Making huge mistakes is fine because they will always work out and youll come out stronger on the other side. Moving away from home and having the ultimate freedom allows you to make bigger mistakes that allow you to learn bigger and more important lessons.
28. Feel comfortable making drastic changes.
You can shave your head. You can grow a long beard. You can start dressing a little differently. You can paint stripes on your car, or buy a car in a bright flashy color. You can start rooting for Florida State football (youre welcome Kelly). The point is moving from home allows you to feel comfortable reinventing yourself and just trying things out for fun. You may not even do anything drastic, but there is something cool about knowing you can, and you can feel comfortable. When less people know you, this is easier to do without feeling too weird.
29. Your comfort zone will limit you.
Comfort zones are nice to an extent, but they are restricting. If you train yourself to be too comfortable in your 20s, you may try to be too comfortable in your 30s. You might always lean towards whats easier for your entire life. The same way you make coffee or go for a run to set the tone early in the morning, set the tone early in your life by trying something new when youre young and hungry. That pattern just might follow you for your whole life.
30. Your faith will grow.
Ive naturally had faith in higher powers just from being raised in the church and reading the Bible. However, until you actually experience it in a real life way, you have no idea how much your faith can grow. After moving away, I had to figure a lot of things out, and HAD to have faith. Faith grows when you go through difficult experiences that challenge you. All in all, I would consider myself a work in progress from a spiritual standpoint, but after moving away I am exponentially more aware and more appreciative of Gods workings in my life.
30 things? Thats it?
I could keep going Im sure, but Im sure a small percentage of you even made it this far down the page. If you have, and youre somebody who is debating moving away from home for the first time, I hope this has helped you understand from an insider perspective that there are some great things in store for you if you take the leap.
For people who have already made a move, I hope you were able to relate to some of these points and I hope your experience has been as rewarding as mine. Feel free to comment with which ones in my list of 30 resonate the most with you, or if you have any others you would add about moving away from home.
If you dont fit into either one of these categories, maybe you know somebody who is struggling with the idea of moving away from home, or somebody who has done it recently and is having issues. Feel free to share this with them too!