Democrat Schools and Scolds Jeff Sessions About Medicinal Weed Lies

During Jeff Sessions testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee this week he was caught off guard by a line of questioning he didn’t have lies prepared for. Of course Sessions’ preparation focused on pretending to “forget” about the Trump campaign’s intimate relationship with Russia, so he was not ready for queries from a Republican from Ohio and a Democrat from Tennessee about “his department’s policy” on legalized medicinal or recreational marijuana.

Ohio Republican, Steve Chabot, wanted Sessions to clarify his position on legal marijuana while it is still illegal under antiquated federal law. Chabot’s state, Ohio, is beginning to implement its own medical marijuana program, so he pressed Sessions to clarify what Ohio has to look forward to with an attorney general’s “reefer madness” mindset about the medicine. “What is your department’s policy on that, relative to enforcing the law?”

Sessions replied that thus far, nothing has changed from the previous compassionate administration’s policy.

Our policy is the same really, fundamentally, as the Holder-Lynch policy, which is that the federal law remains in effect and a state can legalize marijuana for its law enforcement purposes, but it still remains illegal with regard to federal purposes.”

Although he wasn’t technically “lying,” Sessions “forgot” to say that he has been pressuring Congress not to reauthorize the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment that prohibits the federal government from interfering with states that have decriminalized medicinal or recreational pot use. The House told Sessions no and for good measure Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced an amendment identical to the House version that passed over Sessions’ objections. Congress doesn’t believe Session’s is in line with the will of the people or medical science of the past 40 years or so.

The real fun began when Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) seized on the subject of marijuana and took Sessions, “a notorious pot hater,” to task over a remark he made about the kind of people “that would smoke marijuana:” suffice it to say the “forgetful” evangelical and avowed “pot enemy” doesn’t think much of anyone who uses cannabis. In fact, he categorically stated last year that “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

Mr. Cohen was prepared for Sessions and noted:

You said at one time that good people don’t smoke marijuana. Which of these people would you say are not good people?” Referring to a prepared list of prominent Republicans, Mr. Cohen named GOP stalwarts “John Kasich, George Pataki, Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, George Bush, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas; all of those listed have at some point said they used marijuana. Which of those are not good people?”

Sessions was clearly flummoxed and had little wriggle room to say “he couldn’t remember” making such an absurd statement. So he  resorted to the  typical Trump administration kind of response; he lied. He said:

Let me tell you how that came about. The question was what do you do about drug use, the epidemic we’re seeing in the country, and how you reverse it. Part of that is a cultural thing. I explained how when I became United States Attorney in 1981, and drugs were being used widely, over a period of years, it became unfashionable, unpopular, and… it was seen as such that good people didn’t use marijuana. That was the context of that statement.”

Sessions’ statement was made in 2016 when he was lobbying for congressional support to put a stop to states’ cannabis decriminalization programs and portrayed the weed as a clear and present danger on par with heroin and the opioid epidemic. The “context” of Sessions’ statement was around convincing Congress to get on board his “reefer madness” bandwagon and help him “foster knowledge that this drug is dangerous, you cannot play with it, it is not funny, it’s not something to laugh about . . . and to send that message with clarity that good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

Apparently Representative Cohen recalled some of Sessions’ statements earlier this year when he compared weed to heroin and mocked the scientific research revealing that cannabis has been successful in treating heroin and opioid addiction. Cohen was brilliant to get Sessions on the congressional record admitting that “Marijuana is not as dangerous as heroin — do you agree with that?” Sessions replied “I think that’s correct.”

Mr. Cohen thanked Sessions for being truthful as it must have been an extremely painful experience, and then schooled the pot-hating Attorney General instructing him to wise up.

Look at the [budget] limitations you’ve got… Put your enforcement on crack, on cocaine, on meth, on opioids, and on heroin. Marijuana is the least bothersome of all.

 Twenty-eight states or 29 states and the District of Columbia have legalized it for medical purposes; eight states and the District of Columbia for recreational purposes. In states where they’ve got medical marijuana, they have 25 percent less opioid use. It gives people a way to relieve pain without using opioids, which inevitably leads to death and crime. So I’d hope you’d take a look at that.”

Sessions said,

We will take a look at it. We will be looking at some rigorous analysis of the marijuana usage and how it plays out. I am not as optimistic as you.”

It doesn’t matter whether Sessions is optimistic or not, there are more “rigorous analyses,” studies and research available than Sessions has years left among the living to “take a look at.” The research and studies, including the weed’s efficacy at halting many forms of cancer, are numerous and easily accessible; including on the United States government National Institute of Health (NIH) website.

There is also a preliminary release of a brand new study revealing that two-thirds of patients “stop opioid painkillers after using medical marijuana.” The full, final report will be released in 2018 and it isn’t clear if Jeff Sessions will “be looking at that rigorous analysis” because it contradicts his assertion that cannabis has no medicinal or therapeutic value whatsoever.

If nothing else, Sessions can no longer claim “he believes” marijuana is dangerous like heroin and opioids or that he is unaware the weed has proven medicinal value and is one therapy worth investigating to stop the opioid epidemic.

Obviously, marijuana is not a miracle cure and it isn’t for everybody. Although with the severe memory problems plaguing Jeff Sessions when he testifies before Congress, he should take a look at a study released earlier this year reporting that chronic weed use “can help reverse memory problems related to brain aging in senior citizens.” Regular reefer use may help Sessions memory problems, but it won’t help his inclination to lie the next time he states that “weed is as dangerous as heroin and opioids;” a claim he is now on the congressional record refuting.

Evangelical Attack On Women’s Rights Hidden In GOP Tax Reform

Religious Republicans made another sneak attack on American women’s right to self-determination last week and there was barely a whimper; which is the reason the attack was done through subterfuge. And besides a lack of outrage,  there was a lack of media reporting that Republicans are embracing a Vatican dictate as the official stance of the GOP in the war on women. Based on the machinations Republicans are using to eliminate women’s reproductive rights, including the right to use contraceptives, they certainly know their agenda is highly unpopular; it is precisely why they ensconced a “personhood” provision deep in the 429-page Republican House’s tax reform legislation.

Despite several Varied states rejecting the bizarre, and frankly absurd, idea of “personhood,” as a legal provision and as a concept, Republicans are pushing the issue as a means of completely controlling women’s reproductive lives. For the second time in Trump and preacher Pence’s burgeoning theocracy, the federal government is officially  designating “personhood” status to a “eukaryotic cell formed by a fertilization event between a male (spermatozoa) and female (ookyte) gamete;” it is the result of the “moment of conception” Republicans consider sacrosanct.

Some Americans might recall from 8th grade Health Class that the human “eukaryotic cell” is known as a “zygote;” the single-celled organism Republicans are crusading to grant full citizenship and constitutional rights to as a means of creating a nation of women relegated to the 18th Century Hell of being perpetual birth machines or celibate.

As anyone with a pea-brain understands, Republicans indebted to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), evangelical fanatics, and the anti-women personhood movement  inserted the provision giving “personhood” rights to a fetus from the moment of conception as a prelude to banning abortion and birth control.

The provision seems harmless enough to an idiot, but it is the second time the federal government stated that the “moment of conception” (zygote) has the same rights as real living, and breathing, human beings. Even the evangelicals’ god of the bible said more than once that there is no “living being” until the fetus is out of the womb and breathing under its own power, but that “immutable word of god” doesn’t help evangelicals control women so they ignore it as if it came from Satan the Devil.

Republicans want to allow expectant parents to start putting away money into “tax-sheltered” savings accounts for college and private religious school tuition for the “child in utero.” If that is the case, then the next logical step is assigning the zygote, embryo, or fetus a Social Security number like any other living human being with their name on a tax or savings account. This atrocity is as serious as the Department of Health and Human Services “Mission Statement” providing full protections to “all Americans through every stage of life beginning at the moment of conception.

If anyone is dense enough to doubt that this sneak attack is not specifically for the benefit of the Vatican, personhood movement and anti-women’s rights evangelical groups, the statement by the president of the March for Life organization should dispel any doubt. Jeanne Mancini said:

A child in the womb is just as human as you or I yet, until now, the U.S. tax code has failed to acknowledge the unborn child [fetus, zygote]  — all while granting tax breaks for those seeking an abortion under the pretense of healthcare. The proposed tax plan is a huge leap forward for an antiquated tax code, and we hope this is the first step in expanding the child tax credit to include unborn children [fetuses] as well.”

Think about the absurdity of Mancini’s statement and consider that the so-called right to life cabal, with religious Republican assistance, wants to give tax-sheltered savings accounts and taxpayer-funded “child tax credits” to zygotes, embryos, and fetuses. Not because they care anything about life, but because they care about controlling women; a concern Republicans are happy to accommodate.

No doubt House Republicans will offer a tax credit for zygotes if it will further set in stone that the federal government of the most technologically advanced nation on Earth considers a zygote, embryo, or fetus a living breathing human being.

March for Life’s president of its political arm, Tom McClusky, said he was surprised Republicans were stealthy enough to sneak “personhood” language into tax reform language about college and private religious school savings plans. He said:

We’re thrilled about it, but it wasn’t something that we were specifically calling for. We’ll fight to make sure it stays in there.

The evangelicals and personhood movement will face opposition from women’s reproductive rights advocates such as NARAL, Pro-Choice America. A spokeswoman for the group said something they’ve said often since the Trump and preacher Pence administration began.

The GOP’s relentless obsession with advancing its dangerous anti-choice ideology knows no boundaries and no common sense. Inserting ‘personhood’ language into their tax bill is just the latest example of how they’re trying to turn back the clock on this country.”

And Representative Diana DeGette (D-CO) said:

This is a back-door attempt to establish personhood from the moment of conception. What’s next, giving a Social Security number to a zygote?”

The devious Republican maneuver to establish “personhood” on a zygote eliminates Coverdell Education Savings Accounts that allow families to put aside up to $2,000 for college savings accounts for living breathing children. Instead, religious Republicans are expanding 529 savings accounts for in utero beings to cover up to $10,000 per year for private and religious school costs.

The pro-choice movement is rightly concerned that bestowing personhood on a zygote is a “back-door” attempt to abolish Roe v. Wade, but they should be just as worried that contraception is next on the chopping block; it is right there in the 1968 papal encyclical Humanae Vitae.

That same document that prohibits abortions also prohibits any form of birth control that is “artificial;” only the “rhythm method” is considered “natural” and Vatican approved. By declaring a zygote, or the “moment of conception,” a living breathing human being, Republicans are setting the stage to ban contraception because it prevents fertilization and is tantamount to abortion.

Remember, the idea of preventing the formation of a zygote, which is how contraceptives work on a very basic level, is what the Vatican considers abortion. That was the premise Hobby Lobby’s owners proffered when they went before the United States Supreme Court to argue that no matter what human biology or medical science says, birth control is abortion. Although the Justices acknowledged the veracity of medical science and biology, they ruled that if Hobby Lobby’s evangelical owners deeply held religious belief says birth control is abortion, then birth control is abortion. It is why Hobby Lobby won its case and why women’s advocates, and opinion column writers, went ballistic warning it was the first step in banning women’s choice completely.

If anyone doesn’t believe that is the Republicans’ goal, just last week in Wisconsin Democrats attempted to add an amendment to another state-level Republican assault on women’s reproductive rights. That amendment simply called on Republicans to ensure that the evangelical attack would not prohibit women from using contraceptives; Republicans rejected the amendment out of hand. Remember, according to the Vatican, all contraceptives are regarded as “artificial” forms of birth control and are banned. For dog’s sake, even the Muslim religion doesn’t ban any “artificial” form of birth control; they do not want the religion’s adherents mired in poverty as a result more children than a family can support.

It is curious that women, and the men who claim to care about them, are not in the streets demanding an immediate halt to these religious Republican attacks on women’s rights. Nearly every two weeks there is a new attacks on women’s reproductive rights and except for a few advocacy groups complaining about “Republicans’ obsession” with women’s reproductive rights, there is relative silence. If pro-choice groups, and Democrats, would cite the real source of this war on women, male-dominated religion, it is likely the people would react. But no-one is willing to tell the people that their wives, sisters, mothers and daughters are under an assault from an extremist religious sect; and it is not Islam.

Women have a bleak future in store when Republicans finally win the war on women, and at this point it appears they are winning. America is still a vicious patriarchal society and the easiest way for Republican men to keep women out of politics, out of the workforce, and without a voice is keeping them in a perpetual state of childbirth. That is what will happen when Republicans succeed in eliminating women’s right to self-determination and at the rate this administration is going, it will be sooner than later and it happened while the people were laser focused on Trump’s tweets and not a bloodless coup d’état by evangelicals serving the needs of the Vatican.

Image: Eclectablog

Republicans’ Focus Is Tax Cuts for the Rich, Not Gun Violence

In a scene right out of Groundhog Day, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan did exactly the same thing Republicans always do after mass shootings and domestic terror attacks committed by white guys; ignore the issue and change the subject.

Apparently, since Ryan offered up the typical Republican “thoughts and prayers” solution to a horrific terror attack that claimed 59 lives and injured 500-plus other Americans enjoying an outdoor concert on Monday, he had enough “gun talk” by Tuesday morning. If there is any question as to why nothing will be done to put a stop to these annual “pray for the dead” events, Ryan blowing off reporters’ queries about addressing gun violence should clarify why Americans will see more of guns involved in domestic terror attacks.

During a news conference Tuesday, when asked about Republican plans to forge ahead on an NRA bill to make killing Americans easier for the shooters to escape undetected, Ryan said he was focusing on tax cuts for corporations and the richest Americans. Ryan is more focused on helping the 400 richest families in America get richer, than the nearly 600 Americans impacted by the terrorist organization Republicans are closely aligned with and indebted to; the NRA.

Specifically, Ryan was asked if House Republicans were intent on passing a piece of NRA legislation making silencers legal in light of the deadliest mass shooting in American history. Ryan wouldn’t respond to the question because he can’t be bothered talking about gun violence when he had an opportunity to boast that Republicans are focusing on the need for corporate tax cuts; the only issue worthy of his time.

Ryan said he doesn’t know when the “Sportsmen Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act” (SHARE Act), the NRA’s bill to legalize silencers, will be next scheduled for a vote, because “right now we’re focused on passing our budget.

Ryan is lying. This week’s House Republican focus was interfering with women’s reproductive rights and voting to legalize silencers; at least until their handiwork allowed a madman to rain down death on innocent Americans in Las Vegas. Republicans did pass an extremist evangelical bill because next to tax cuts for corporations and the rich, nothing consumes Republicans more than controlling women.

After Ryan changed the subject from guns to the budget, he told the gathered reporters, with a “chuckle” no less;

“By the way, we’re bringing up our budget this week – I don’t know if you knew that. The reason we’re bring up our budget this week is because we want to pass tax reform, because we think that’s one of the most important things we can do to improve people’s lives. That is our present focus and the Sportsmen’s Bill is not scheduled.

For once, the reporters were not so easily put-off and they pressed Ryan asking if he “regrets passing legislation that President Trump signed” making it easier for mentally ill people to buy guns. Ryan “guffawed” and ignored the question by calling on a different reporter who asked a related gun safety related question. Defeated, Ryan answered by framing Republicans rolling back restrictions on “people with mental illness buying guns as about protecting people’s rights.”

Ryan couldn’t leave it at that and had to lie some more by feigning concern for mental health reform; something he said “is a critical ingredient to making sure we can try to prevent mass shootings.” He’s as big a liar as his standard bearer in the White House.

Ryan and his Republican cohort have perpetually supported healthcare and budget proposals that gut the “largest payer of mental health services in the country – Medicaid.” It is also noteworthy that Ryan has been a staunch proponent of eliminating the requirement that Medicaid covers mental health services. All of these “cuts” Ryan supports are for the sole purpose of funding greater tax cuts for the rich and corporations; the only thing, besides attacking women’s rights, that Republicans, as a movement, care about.

It’s painfully obvious that Republicans don’t want to talk about gun violence, or their part in advancing the National Rifle Association’s crusade to eliminate all gun safety regulations no matter what the people want or how many innocent lives are lost. Caring for Americans has not been a priority for Republicans for a couple of decades, at least, because all of their focus is on making a few hundred wealthy families richer except when they take time to attack women and help their NRA co-conspirators put more guns on the streets and in the hands of lunatics.

Republicans Block Effort to Revoke Jared Kushner’s Security Clearance

 

It has become increasingly obvious that Republicans are about as interested in national security as they are raising taxes 90 percent on their wealthy donors. Oh sure they feigned interest in security when a Democrat was Secretary of State and used a private email server, but they pretended to be interested in a rash of issues because they weren’t in power. However, when a most senior advisor to a Republican in the White House deliberately lied and omitted over 100 contacts with foreign agents on a national security clearance form, including agents that waged cyber warfare against America, even questioning the perjury is a “political stunt.

By now most Americans have at least heard that Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, lied on the first two Standard Form 86 (SF-86) security clearance documents he submitted to earn a high-level security clearance to work in a place he doesn’t belong – the White House.

Kushner was even “inclined” to “revise” a third SF-86 to add over a hundred additional contacts with foreign agents he “forgot” to mention the second time he “revised” his SF-86 clearance. Of course just meeting with foreigners isn’t an issue, but Kushner met with Russian agents actively waging “cyber warfare” against an American institution, and he lied about those meetings at least twice and still has a high security clearance; something House Republicans do not have a problem with.

However, Democrats in the House do take a dim view of committing perjury on a security clearance document and although they are virtually impotent to do anything about it, they made an effort to get a risk to national security out of the Trump administration’s decision making chain.

One amendment introduced by Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) was to the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Bill that banned any funds from being used “to issue, renew, or maintain a security clearance for any individual in a position in the Executive Office of the President who is under a criminal investigation by a Federal law enforcement agency for aiding a foreign government.”  Jared Kushner meets that standard of “being under criminal investigation” by a Federal law enforcement agency but Republicans don’t care; that Amendment failed along a party line vote 22-30.

The second amendment sought to revoke the security clearance of any White House staffers who deliberately fail to disclose (lie about) meetings with foreign nationals (agents) or foreign nations (Russia) on the SF-86 questionnaire for national security positions. That amendment, like the first one, was defeated along a party line vote and it is telling that all Republicans are protecting yet another Trump administration actor regardless the threat they pose to national security.

Ms. Wasserman Schulz argued that both amendments were crucial to “safeguard the country’s most sensitive national security information.” Most Americans would agree and likely add that it is just as crucial to safeguard the nation from an administration that knowingly employs several national security risks; and it is a security risk by Trump Sr. to bring in corrupt actors who lie to conceal their contacts with foreign agents.

While the Democrats were attempting to protect national security, Republicans said the amendments were political maneuvers and unnecessary. Texas Republican John Culbertson said both amendments were just political stunts because national security decisions should be left up to the security professionals appointed by Donald Trump. Culbertson said:

The use of funding prohibitions to deny or remove security clearances is just simply a political stunt and unnecessary, because security clearances can already be denied or revoked because criminal conduct.”

No matter what Culbertson says, the national security “professionals” Trump appointed have already revealed they definitely are not “denying or revoking” security clearances for anyone in Trump’s administration despite that there is powerful evidence that there was “criminal conduct.”

According to SF-86 under the heading Penalties for Inaccurate or False Statements, it plainly states:

The U.S. Criminal Code (title 18, section 1001) provides that knowingly falsifying or concealing a material fact is a felony which may result in fines and/or up to five (5) years imprisonment. In addition, Federal agencies generally fire, do not grant a security clearance, or disqualify individuals who have materially and deliberately falsified these forms, and this remains a part of the permanent record for future placements. Your prospects of placement or security clearance are better if you answer all questions truthfully and completely. You will have adequate opportunity to explain any information you provide on this form and to make your comment.” (author bold)

It is noteworthy that under 18 U.S.C. § 1001 a fair number of “notable Americans” have been convicted for “making false statements” including Martha Stewart, Rod Blagojevich, Scooter Libby, Bernie Madoff, and Jeffrey Skilling to name a few.  Republicans or anyone in the Trump administration can never claim that the law is archaic or obscure, or has never been enforced. It has, and it probably would be enforced today if the entire Trump administration wasn’t run by criminals like Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sessions is not going to prosecute Kushner or make any attempt to deny his security clearance because he also “knowingly falsified and concealed a material fact” on his SF 86 and during sworn testimony before the United States Senate.

These amendments by Democrats are a continuing effort to clear out known national security risks, and felonious “advisors” from the Trump White House and it is crystal clear Republicans are now, and have been, obstructing efforts to protect critical national security secrets. No small number of Democrats have been calling for Kushner’s security clearance to be revoked, or at least suspended. This is particularly true since the revelation that he was in attendance with Trump Jr. and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort when they met with the Russian lawyer in a clandestine meeting at Trump Tower that Kushner failed to report on his security clearance form.

That latest “revelation” is in addition to Kushner’s meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and the CEO of a Russian state-run bank during the transition.  If, as Republicans claim, criminal conduct is justification for denying or revoking security clearances, and Trump’s national security team or his attorney general refuse to do their jobs, then it is left to Congress to step in – something Democrats did attempt with the two separate amendments that only failed because like Trump, Sessions, Kushner, Trump Jr., and likely the majority of the Trump administration, Republicans are criminals for covering up a federal crime. It makes them co-conspirators in criminal conduct that should send the entire lot of them to a federal penitentiary for up to five (5) years.

Image: Credo

 

Republicans To Kill Agency Ensuring Voting Machines Can’t Be Hacked

There is no doubt whatsoever that Republicans are as opposed to free and fair elections as they are equal rights for all Americans; there is ample evidence to back up that assertion. Forget all the voter suppression laws being passed in Republican states, and instead recall that the Koch brothers legislative arm that controls Republicans, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), has refused, en masse, to sign a pledge that the conservative organization supports democracy. Republicans, to a person, never condemned its “legislation mill” for rejecting democracy, and coupled with their ardent aversion to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and campaign finance laws, it is blatantly apparent that Republicans as a political movement detest democracy and the democratic process.

Republicans have also pretended there is nothing for Americans to worry about after a hostile foreign power interfered in a presidential election to install a white trash Republican in the White House. They also laughed off reports that the Russians had hacked into 39 states’ voting systems prior to the 2016 election.

Now there is more proof that Republicans are intent on decimating what’s left of America’s dying democracy by making it much easier for the Russians, or the Republican Party, or dirty Donald Trump to subvert the democratic process; by purposely making it easy to hack into America’s voting machines and control the outcome of elections in every state in the Union.

In February, the GOP-controlled House Administration Committee voted to eliminate the Election Assistance Commission (EAC). The EAC is a particularly small federal agency with a gargantuan task that includes, besides assisting states to run elections, ensuring that the nations’ voting machines cannot be hacked; the EAC is the only federal agency tasked with safeguarding voting machines from hacking.

The EAC was created after the farcical 2000 election in Florida “to rectify problems like butterfly ballots and hanging chads.” As one would expect from an anti-democracy movement, the Republican Party has attempted to “kill the agency” since its inception.

Last Thursday, to finally achieve their goal, Republicans in the House inserted an amendment in a spending bill that gives the EAC exactly 60 days “to terminate itself” before the campaigns for the 2018 midterms get serious; likely to give Trump and the Russians an easier means of “controlling the outcome of the midterm elections.

House Democrats attempted to save the EAC by introducing an amendment of their own at the markup to save what’s left of “free and fair elections,” and they rightly argued that given the success of Russia’s inference in the last election, the EAC’s role was more important than ever. Of course Republicans rejected the facts and blew off the threat from Russia; they said the “Homeland Security Department has jurisdiction over cyber and election security, not the agency tasked with ensuring free and fair elections” by preventing cyber attacks on voting machines.

An EAC spokeswoman, Brenda Bowser Soder, related that the agency has been “active in the conversation around cybersecurity for a long time.” Ms. Browser Soder also added that the EAC is the only federal agency that provides cybersecurity experts with information on election processes as well as helping increase voting access, boosting election security and updating election equipment to prevent hacking.

The author of the “save the EAC” amendment, Representative Mike Quigley (D-IL) said that “terminating” the important agency would “be a step backward for the nation.” He also said:

Eliminating the agency would be dramatically out of step with the federal government’s work to improve the nation’s election systems. No other federal agency has the capacity, willingness or expertise to effectively absorb these functions.”

A law professor at U.C. Irvine and founding co-editor of the Election Law Journal, Richard Hasen, said it would be a “tremendous mistake to assume” some other agency could take on EAC’s duties. Mr. Hasen also noted the Republicans’ crusade to eliminate the EAC is not a new one, as House Republicans view the agency as “federal infringement on an inherently state and local function.

Republicans are lying because they ardently support dirty Donald’s attempt to “infringe on states election functions” by intimidating 50 states’ elections officials to turn over their respective state’s private election data to a Trump-created federal commission.

According to Adam Ambrogi, the Democracy Fund’s director of Elections Programs, there are currently 47 states that test their elections systems at the federal level through EAC. Mr. Ambrogi said state election officials need a distinct federal agency to turn to for assistance with people who actually have experience running elections, which the EAC currently offers.

One former senior litigator at the Department of Justice’s Voting Section and current executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, David Becker, said that after the 2016 election debacle, the EAC has been particularly busy. He said:

They (EAC) are traveling around and speaking right now to county election officials across the country. The agency has been extremely active on recent [cyber] threats. If the EAC is eliminated, the happiest people out there would be the hackers.”

There is no doubt Republicans and Trump would be extremely happy to have free rein to control elections without the interference of a tiny federal agency with 31 employees and a budget of about one-percent of what taxpayers spend for Trump to play golf for one weekend. But this isn’t about money or federal interference in state and local elections; this is about making it easy to control the outcome of elections and nothing else. Republicans know it, the Russians know it, and dirty Don Trump knows it.

A Democratic Representative from Pennsylvania, Matt Cartwright told Republicans during the “markup”  that the EAC provides expertise to states and other agencies as well as “helps improve voting access for military personnel and other Americans overseas, and the disabled. Those functions would simply cease to exist.” No other agency provides those important services to guarantee free and fair elections.

The EAC spokeswoman Bowser Soder said the agency would not lobby lawmakers, but she still defended the agency’s mission.

We feel we play a unique role in serving election officials and voters and we’ll continue to do that as long as we’re around. We hope to continue that for a long time.”

Ms. Browser Soder’s hope is, although well-intended, the epitome of naïveté if she thinks for a second that Republicans will allow the agency to continue one day past the “60-day self-termination” deadline. Republicans hate democracy and the quickest way to eliminate it from America is terminating any agency tasked with ensuring free and fair elections; something Republicans, dirty Don Trump, and his Russian facilitators are not going to tolerate.

House Oversight Chairman Will End Trump-Russia Investigation

 

After just a few months of the new administration it’s patently obvious that if there was ever a universally agreed upon theme describing the Republican Party, it is that they are all liars. Oh it’s true they hate the U.S. Constitution nearly as much as they hate equal and civil rights, and that they are fundamentally evil for evil’s sake, but the overarching Republican trait is not necessarily hate, it is that they lie.

The latest publicly recognizable liar is incoming House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC). Of course Gowdy has spent a fair amount of time attempting to divert attention away from his party’s “liar-in-chief,” but now he’s devised a plan he thinks will make some of Trump’s Russian trouble go away.

On the same day a Time report revealed that one of the five congressional committees probing Trump’s corruption is now investigating whether the Trump’s campaign used voter data stolen by his hacker friends in Russia, Trey Gowdy announced that under his leadership, the House Oversight Committee is ending its investigation into Trump’s collusion with Russia.

Gowdy also said that the Oversight Committee is dropping any investigation into Trump’s crooked son-in-law, Jared Kushner; apparently because the Committee is not interested in providing a Republican White House with oversight involving the criminal activity of its most senior members.

Although the Time report did not reveal which of the congressional investigations is looking at election tampering, it is certain it is not the House Oversight Committee – Gowdy is more concerned about a census than an attack on America’s democracy.

Yesterday Gowdy told reporters that as the new chairman of the Oversight Committee, he “wants to return the Oversight panel to its ‘compulsory’ jurisdiction;” like providing “oversight” on “normal” issues like government procurement and the census. That was Gowdy’s first lie in why he’s shutting down the Russia-Trump collusion investigation.

He also claimed that since he doesn’t want to get in the way of “Special Counsel” Robert Mueller’s investigation, it was best to just close down the Committee’s inquiries altogether. Instead, Gowdy will direct the important committee work on overseeing “the critical” issues it was created to address like the census and government procurement. That too is a lie.

For six long years the Republican-run Oversight Committee, of which Gowdy was a member, investigated the Obama Administration non-stop for myriad things its then-chairman Darrel Issa fabricated, or that were initiated during the previous administration. Investigating the stinking census or procurements was never a Republican Oversight Committee priority while Barack Obama was President – because he was a Democrat in the White House. Now that there is Republican with a damn dark cloud of corruption and collusion with a hostile foreign government in the White House, the Oversight Committee will be turning its attention to the census.

It is impossible to believe even one of Gowdy’s pathetic pretexts for shutting down the Oversight Committee’s investigation into his party’s standard bearer. This is particularly true because the last time Gowdy was involved in any part of the congressional Russia-Trump probe, he did everything he could think of to derail the investigation, shift attention away from Russia and Donald Trump, and portray the ongoing investigations as either folly or fake; especially because his hero in the White House said the real problem is “the leaks.”

Exactly a month ago, Gowdy revealed then why he now intends to scrap the Oversight Committee’s investigation into collusion between Trump and Russia; he has wanted it shut down to protect Trump. Anything he says to the contrary is a dirty lie.

Last month when it came to Gowdy’s turn to question former CIA Director John Brennan when he testified before the House Intelligence Committee about the Trump-Russia probe, Gowdy tried to get Mr. Brennan to say under oath that “no such evidence exists” to investigate possible collusion and treason.  In fact, Gowdy has “repeatedly tried to change the topicfrom collusion involving Russia and Trump’s campaign to ‘the leaks.’” It is the exact same ploy Trump uses regularly.

It is noteworthy that although the previous Oversight Committee Chairman, Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), absorbed much deserved criticism for his lackadaisical approach to Trump’s collusion with the Russians, at least he “pretended” to do his due diligence. Chaffetz held hearings on Trump’s Russia scandal, but he never was as dogged as he was pursuing an email scandal involving Hillary Clinton. No doubt if Hillary had “officially” won the election, both Gowdy and Chaffetz would have the Oversight Committee working overtime, because she is not a Republican.

Gowdy is as much a Trump shill as he is a liar and the combination of the two is why he is ending the Oversight Committee’s investigations into Trump’s Russian collusion. It is not due to Gowdy’s regard for the census any more than government procurement; it is to shield the corrupt criminal in the White House and it may be admirable among the criminal cult in America, but it is another form of obstructing justice in any sane Americans’ mind.

 

 

 

 

Trump Angers Republicans By Calling Healthcare Bill “Mean”

When Donald Trump and House Republicans celebrated passing a horrendous healthcare replacement for the Affordable Care Act, very few of them acted as if they knew exactly how bad for the people the bill really was. Obviously Trump would have celebrated anything, but without any typical Congressional Budget Office (CBO) assessment of either the benefits or damage to the economy or the people, he and the GOP were celebrating a veritable mystery to the public. Now that everyone and their brother is cognizant of the draconian nature of the House Republican bill, even Trump can no longer pretend he doesn’t know it is just “mean, mean, mean.”

That the House GOP bill is mean is what Trump told Republican Senators working on their own mean, and highly secretive, version of a repeal-and-replace healthcare bill. However, House Republicans heard that the Trump’s “inconveniently candid” assessment of their replacement healthcare bill is now public and they are not happy with the cheerful fascist in the Oval Office. They also are aware that he called on Senate Republicans to make their version “more generous” than the “mean” House version.

The Associated Press reported that Trump told Senate Republicans behind closed-doors that they had to revise the “the House repeal-and-replace bill to make it more generous;” the version he praised to high heaven and celebrated in the Rose Garden as “a great plan” is just too “mean, mean, mean.” When the Trump’s comments leaked, House Republicans felt “undercut” politically and are not happy with their fearless leader for expressing out loud what Democrats have been screaming relentlessly about.

Over at Politico there was a fairly accurate assessment of exactly how “thrown under the bus” House Republicans must feel after Trump’s criticism of a bill he pushed them vigorously to pass. They write:

Now you hear the president has gone behind closed doors and told senators the House bill is “mean” and says it doesn’t do enough to cover people. Wouldn’t that anger you? Well, it’s angering a lot of House Republicans, who believe their president put them at political risk with that comment … If you’re a House Republican, are you going to help the White House next time after the president privately just dumped all over you after you cast a vote for him? A lot of GOP lawmakers are buzzing about it, and many are none too pleased with the president right now.”

Of course House Republicans are irritated and most likely all of them feel justified at being disgusted with Trump on some level. Either they voted for a bill that they believed was too harsh or not harsh enough just to sate Trump’s lust for some kind of legislative accomplishment. However, no-one should believe for a second that Trump is gaining a measure of humanitarianism or regard for the people; he wants a bill that only makes him appear reasonable or he wouldn’t have profusely praised the “mean” House bill in the first place. It was the negative media attention and reporting from the CBO’s assessment that tens-of-millions of Americans will be harmed that put pressure on the Trump he’s passing off on House Republicans who believed they were doing him a favor.

As Greg Sargent at the Washington Post noted, just because Trump admitted he knows the House version of healthcare reform is mean, “it should not be taken seriously as an actual statement of [his] values.” He did, after all, champion and celebrate the ‘mean’ bill publicly until news of the CBO assessment became well-reported. What that means for the Senate version is that Republicans will have to devise some clever buzzword or flashy meme to “pretend the final product is more generous than it will surely end up.”

Look, most House Republicans knew exactly how mean their bill was and it is exactly why their version, and now the Senate version, was crafted in “secret” and passed hastily before the CBO could assess its damages. That lack of transparency is a concession that Republicans know just how mean their “final product” is really going to be and why Senate Republicans are crafting their own draconian measure in total secrecy.

House Republicans are slightly more than just “miffed” that their hero Trump admitted in a way that was guaranteed to leak that he knows there will be millions upon millions of people who will be hurt by any Republican “Obamacare” replacement. As the WaPo piece noted, Trump’s primary sin was giving the American people a preview of an impending disaster that Republicans “have gone to extraordinary lengths to keep hidden,” even from Senate Democrats.

Maybe now Republicans in the House will realize that they can’t trust Trump any more than any other American can, and that he will hurt them with the same disregard and contempt as the Republican healthcare bill is going to hurt tens-of-millions of Americans.

 

Republicans Want To Tax 177 Million Americans’ Healthcare

 

Despite their stated hatred of taxation on general principles, Republicans always find a means of raising taxes on the poor and middle class. And they always find some absurd justification for doing so that typically translates into funding tax cuts for the rich and corporations according to their trickle down economic scam.

Based on the past 8 years, it has become glaringly evident that Republicans also detest the idea of all Americans having access to healthcare, so they are conniving to punish Americans who do have healthcare through their employer by taxing them for having a job with a healthcare benefit. As if the Republican healthcare replacement plan wasn’t detrimental and unpopular enough, Senate Republicans are embracing a Paul Ryan idea to raise taxes on the poor and middle class for having healthcare benefits as part of their employment compensation package.

Most Americans likely couldn’t imagine how Republicans could possibly punish more than the estimated 23 to 24 million Americans who would lose access to medical care under their “Obamacare” replacement plan, but Republicans found a means of punishing over half the American population; tax the over 177-million Americans who have health plans through their employer. Such an obscene idea was offered in the House version of the “Obamacare” replacement, but for some reason it wasn’t adopted. However, Ryan’s draconian plan is gaining traction in the GOP-controlled Senate and is being considered by a growing number of Republicans.

According to Republican senators’ aides, there are already a number of GOP Senators open to Ryan’s idea of taxing 177 million Americans’ healthcare, including teabagger and Mormon from Utah Senator Mike Lee. Thus far there is no consensus on whether such a draconian measure would ultimately be included in the Senate Republicans’ draft bill of a healthcare replacement plan, but they are considering writing it into the plan during their next week-long paid congressional vacation.

According to the Ayn Rand acolyte Paul Ryan, taxing an additional 177 million Americans because they have healthcare plans through their employer is only fair because the current tax code is unfair. It is curious that Republicans love the idea of institutionalized discrimination founded on religious dogmata, but where employer’s health plans are concerned, Ryan insists Republicans’ duty is to “stop  discrimination in the tax code” against people who “want to buy healthcare in the open market of their own choosing.”

His assertion is that favoring people who get healthcare insurance through their work, even though they pay for it, is cheating the people who want to go buy a healthcare insurance “plan of their choosing.”  It sounds as if Ryan’s plan has an ulterior motive of killing the idea of employer healthcare plans so all American have to seek out private insurance plans that are significantly more expensive than a “group” type policy.

What Ryan or his Republican barbarians won’t tell their stupid constituents is that the argument that employer plans aren’t fair for private buyers is precisely what the Affordable Care Act’s healthcare exchanges provided all Americans; the ability to buy the healthcare plan “of their choosing” as a member of a large group with smaller premiums.

Republicans can no longer claim they are averse to taxation, or give any kind of shit that all Americans have access to medical care. They like the idea of raising taxes on 177 million people because they have health care, even though employees and their employers alike are already paying for premiums, co-pays and other substantial out-of-pocket expenses. And, they are already being taxed on those benefits as part of their employment compensation package. There are also strong rumors that in the Trump-Republican tax reform plan, deducting the expense of healthcare is going to be abolished resulting in yet another tax hike on the middle class – because they have healthcare insurance.

It seems there is no end to the ways Republicans intend on punishing Americans to provide more tax cuts for the rich. It is bad enough they celebrated openly and reveled in the prospect of taking healthcare away from 23 to 24 million Americans to partially fund tax cuts for the rich. Now they want to punish 177 million more Americans by taxing them simply because they have healthcare that wasn’t purchased individually in the private healthcare marketplace.

No human being can say Republicans aren’t evil for evil’s sake, or are not going to be content until they take everything away from the poor and middle class to sate the greed of the richest one-percent; because that is the only reason they want to tax 177 million Americans for having healthcare, or stripping medical care from 23 million poor Americans. All told, this latest revelation means that Republicans are content, and likely pleased with themselves, at the prospect of punishing over two-thirds of the American population just to reward approximately 400 uber-wealthy families with more tax cuts.

 

 

 

Republicans Enact a Rule to Punish and Fire Civil Servants

Republicans are renowned for condemning regulations and rules as federal government tyranny because they protect the population from the GOP’s corporate and religious supporters. However, they have little issue making rules that allow their supporters to tyrannize the rest of the citizenry.

House Republicans took a little constituent heat last week when, while making rules to benefit the GOP, they tried to abolish the independent congressional ethics office; an office dirty Donald Trump claimed was “unfair to Republicans.” It was a revealing statement and is reminiscent of every career criminal in history saying the police, the courts, and prisons are unfair to criminals; but that is another story.

While they were rolling back the effort to protect and defend unethical Republican lawmakers, they were making other rules that will have a significant impact across the government. And, it is noteworthy that none of the Republican rules was created to help even one American private citizen. In fact, one rule was enacted to tyrannize individual American workers.

One of the “new rules” in the Republican-dominated Congress expands Republicans’ power to terrorize individual federal employees who run afoul of the Koch and religious right agenda. In resurrecting a rule first introduced in 1876, Republicans granted themselves unchallenged authority to target and force private American citizens to Capitol Hill to be “interrogated” by Republicans in the House. That obscure rule also allows Congress to slash the pay of any government worker, or eliminate a program that doesn’t fit the Koch or religious right agenda.

The so-called “Holman rule” was first proposed in 1876 by a House representative that stayed in play until 1983. That was the year when a Democratic-controlled House put an end to the Holman rule for the obvious reason; it gives far too much power to an individual or party to either tyrannize federal employees or unilaterally do away with entire programs they happen to despise or disagree with.

The new iteration of the Holman rule was reinstated by a House Republican, Morgan Griffith (R-VA), who is also a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus (teabagger). Griffith championed the “arcane provision” as a tool to allow either an individual legislator or a group of lawmakers to make targeted cuts to the federal workforce depending on who may have disagreed openly with Republicans.

The 2017 version gives any lawmaker the power to insert an amendment to any appropriations bills that allows them, by virtue of Republican whim, to unilaterally fire any federal employee or cut their pay down to $1 dollar; depending on how vengeful the individual lawmaker or group happens to feel on a given day.

Democrats in the House, particularly those representing districts with large numbers of federal employees, said the rule was reinstated for malicious reasons. For example, Representative Gerry Connolly (D-VA) said that Republicans revived the rule solely to “undermine civil service employee protections by stripping away necessary [workplace and employment] safeguards.

Connolly rightly labeled the measure “the Armageddon Rule,” and revealed the real reason Republicans unilaterally revived a rule for their campaign donors’ benefit. Mr. Connolly stated the obvious that it’s “a backdoor way for Republicans to dismantle the federal workforce.” One would add that it is also a backdoor way to eviscerate federal workplace protections the Holman rule supersedes.

The national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, J. David Cox Sr., condemned the Republicans’ move saying:

The so-called Holman Rule undermines civil service protections for the millions of working people who process our Social Security checks, safeguard our borders, support our military, research cures for deadly diseases, and carry out programs and services that are vital to our nation. Reviving this rule means lawmakers will be able to cut the pay and jobs of individual workers or groups of workers without getting input from the agencies where these employees work.”

Democrats also said they feared the rule gives Republicans the tools to root out individual federal workers who hold views or perform work that is not favored by the Trump, the Kochs or the religious right. Remember that a couple of weeks ago Trump’s transition team demanded the names of any Department of Energy employee who worked on the Paris climate accord. Trump’s people also wanted the names of individual State Department employees who worked on gender equality or proposals to advance women’s right around the world.

Representative Connolly actually got around to citing precisely what the teabagger-incited Holman resurrection is meant to achieve for the Koch brothers and their partners in government ownership, the religious right. He said:

The Republican Rules package provides them with the surgical tools necessary to reach into the inner workings of the federal government and cut away each part and employee that runs afoul of their ideological agenda. This, coupled with the President-elect’s proposed federal hiring freeze and the nomination of individuals to head agencies they openly oppose, could be devastating to the critical mission of the federal government.”

It is important to note, for the ten-thousandth time, that “devastating the mission of the federal government” is now, and has always been, the overarching goal of the Koch brothers. That religious Republicans can reach in and “cut away” employees that dare “run afoul of their ‘religious’ agenda” is a value-added bonus and yet another religious threat to Americans’ freedoms. What the new rule means is that no civil servant’s job is secure unless they agree with the current majority in Congress, the religious right, the Koch brothers and the tyrant Trump’s nasty agenda.

This “new rule” for Republicans serves a purpose that is beyond what they need to slash government to death. Since they control all three branches and have Trump appointing department heads with a view toward destroying them, this particular rule is meant to terrorize and intimidate civil servants who may disagree with a Republican or religious agenda. That any individual lawmaker can drag a private citizen before Congress to be interrogated like a common criminal is beyond tyranny. That they can summarily fire a civil servant on a whim, or cut their pay to $1 is more than tyranny; it is forcing them to work under duress or what normal people call blackmail.