Alabama Senate Race Exposed America’s Extremism Plague

It has been interesting seeing the various commentaries about the stunning upset win in Alabama’s race for the Senate pitting a radical evangelical nut job against a former prosecutor and civil rights champion. Of course sane Americans, and some Republicans, likely breathed a sigh of relief that a deranged enemy of the United States Constitution will not get a taxpayer-funded trip to the Senate to lend his evangelical bona fides to “change Washington” into a theocracy. However, folks should hardly be celebrating much more than there are a few more decent Americans in Alabama than there are savage evangelical malcontents. The margin of victory informs that nearly half of Alabama’s voters are every bit as racist, religiously extreme, bigoted and un-American as the freak of nature they came close to sending to Washington.

The election results are not a commentary on the impending demise of extremism in Trump’s America as some have inferred. Believing otherwise is a very serious mistake and along the lines of thinking that Barack Obama’s first Presidential election victory in 2008 signaled an end of racism in America. The defeat of an evangelical hero like Roy Moore is going to incite the “fanatical faithful” to outrage like President Obama’s election incited the racists to come out of hiding and do their worst. Doug Jones’ victory is not going to do anything to curtail, much less stop, the raging religious extremists any more than President Obama’s wins signaled an end to racism.

Of course Mr. Jones victory is beyond “good news” for myriad reasons, but that good news is dependent on how Democrats maneuver in Trump’s America. Speaking of Trump, as other commenters have rightly noted, Doug Jones victory was as glaring a rebuke of Trump as it was a well-warranted slap in the face to his vile henchman Steve Bannon. It was also a temporary minor setback for the evangelical extremists who crawled out of their spiritual sewer with scriptural justifications to support a pervert pedophile; something they did in predictably large numbers that nearly propelled Moore to victory.

Remember, there were a significant number of Republican voters who “wrote in” a different candidate than Moore and those numbers were close to Mr. Jones’ margin of victory; that is really what should prevent Democrats from celebrating as if the nation has turned a corner on extremism. It hasn’t and the number of votes Moore received should sober up any victory-drunk Democrat because every one of those extremists who voted for Moore, like their cohorts nationwide, are not going away. If anything, they will regroup and come back with a vengeance as religious extremists are wont to do.

If America, and particularly Alabama, was not drowning in extremism, a piece of work like Roy Moore would have never been able to run as a viable candidate anywhere in the nation. Not only was Moore a viable candidate for Alabama Republicans, he garnered nearly half the votes in an election he would have lost by a huge margin in any “normal state.” Moore represents every extremist sect in America, and yet he still garnered the support of nearly half of Alabama voters because he is a racist, a bigot, an un-American, and a dangerous religious extremist.

Alabama extremists voted for Moore despite he was twice evicted from Alabama’s Supreme Court for rejecting the United States Constitution as the law of the land because it is not the Christian bible; almost half of Alabama voters wanted Moore to take that theocratic mindset to the Senate to “change Washington.

The same Republicans also voted for Moore despite his assertion that what the country needs is to “get rid of the Constitution’s Amendments after the Tenth” to eliminate many of the nation’s problems. In Moore’s mind, and apparently nearly half of Alabama voters, equal rights, women’s right to vote, abolition of slavery, non-white voting rights and the elimination of poll taxes pose a serious problem for America.  Even though Moore accepts the first Ten Amendments as “valid,” he concurs with former Alabama Senator and current Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the First Amendment’s “separation of church and state [clause] was never meant to separate god and government – this country was founded on god.”

Almost half of Alabama voters agree with Moore or they would never have supported sending him to “change Washington.” The evangelical extremists even went so far as claiming that it would be better to elect a pervert pedophile than a Democrat who supports a woman’s constitutional right to self-determination in making her own reproductive health choices. Without the unwavering evangelical extremist support, Moore would have never won the state’s primary or a second election to be Chief Justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court after being kicked off for being an evangelical extremist. That he came close to winning a Senate seat should give every American pause to reflect on the alarming number of Americans still supporting extremism.

There could hardly have been a more extreme candidate than Roy Moore and it is almost certain that any other slightly less extreme Republican would have cruised to victory; and that is not taking anything away from Doug Jones Herculean effort or his victory. Alabama is as dyed-in-the-wool Republican red as any state in the Union and without Moore’s extremist position on everything, it would have been an honest-to-dog miracle for any Democrat to win in Alabama. But Moore was, and is, the personification of extremism and that is what won him nearly half of the people’s vote; that is what is frightening because those evangelical extremists are not going away and they are nationwide.

Look, only demented evangelical fanatics and racists would support an un-American pervert like Roy Moore, and according to the voting numbers they make up about half the electorate in Alabama. Although it is true that a Democrat winning a Senate seat in Alabama, an uber-religious and traditionally extremely conservative state,  is phenomenal, it would be a giant mistake to believe the nation or Alabama has “turned the corner” on racism, bigotry and evangelical extremism because Moore lost a close election.

Remember, Roy Moore was as bad as a candidate as any fiction writer could concoct but he still  won half of the Alabama voters’ support; almost certainly on religious grounds. Although religious extremism was insufficient to defeat a Democrat in a deep red state, it should be a wake-up call for Democrats to start addressing what is one of greatest threats to this country and its Constitution; radical evangelical extremists. Those Alabama extremists came very close to sending one of their champions to the United States Senate to join a growing number GOP religious extremists with a view towards a theocracy. Roy Moore may be going away, but his radical religious base of support still exists and they infect the entire nation or Donald Trump would not be in the White House.

Senator-elect Doug Jones, and his brilliant campaign, deserve a world of credit for pulling out an unlikely victory; it was a victory for Alabama and a victory for America. However, any celebration should be tempered with the knowledge that the kind of racists, un-American, bigoted and religiously extreme voters who wanted Moore in the Senate are angry and laser-focused on revenge. Only an imbecile would think they are going away over the defeat of one of their own.

Religious Leaders Arrested For Protesting Republicans’ Tax Bill

In a new low, even in Trump’s America, a group of faith leaders representing every major religion showed up at the Senate to protest the Republican tax reform legislation and for all their godly effort they were detained, handcuffed, and arrested – while they were praying.

It isn’t often that organized religious leaders join forces in opposition to Republicans, but in another sign the GOP’s tax reform giveaway to corporations and the ultra-wealthy is highly unpopular, another group of “faith leaders” joined a chorus of criticism against the Republicans. One thing that is universal in the great majority of religions is the idea of protecting the poor and the vulnerable, it was a major theme of Jesus Christ’s teaching and something ‘religious” Republicans vehemently oppose as un-American.

On Thursday, a group “faith advocates” gathered to protest the GOP legislation at the Hart Senate building. The head of a Christian social justice group “Sojourners,” Jim Wallis was joined by Barbara Williams Skinner of the National African American Clergy Network and a large group of clergy to pray and condemn “unjust rulers” using religious ideology right from the scriptures. The theme of the criticism was that the “bill is an assault on the poor and vulnerable” the multi-denominational clergy “are sworn to protect.”

Mr. Wallis actually quoted a passage from the GOP’s favorite part of the Christian bible, the Old Testament, that fairly describes what Republicans are attempting to do to the American people who aren’t corporations or members of the one percent. Wallis recited Isaiah 10:1 saying:

Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people.”

Police waited until after several other members of the clergy spoke out against the tax bill and then “detained, handcuffed, and escorted them away while they prayed.”  So much for the GOP’s high regard for “religious freedom.”

The previous day a group of “more than 2,400 faith leaders” representing Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist and many other “faith traditions” signed a letter to Republican leaders in the Senate slamming the bill as “unjust.” In fact, the “clergy” listed several issues they opposed with special emphasis on how it was created to “disproportionately benefit the wealthy,’ explode the deficit and increase the number of uninsured Americans by millions.” The letter read, in part:

As people of faith, we view decisions about tax policy and the federal budget as moral decisions. Simply put, this proposed legislation is fundamentally unjust. If it becomes law, it will result in harmful consequences for those most needing support so as to benefit high-income earners and big corporations.”

Several high-profile religious organizations, including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and surprisingly, even the president of the National Association of Evangelicals joined the CEO of Catholic Charities USA and Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church to condemn the cruel bill. The National Council of Churches summed up briefly why a majority of Americans, whether they are religious or not, oppose the GOP’s tax reform bill:

The tax bills currently before the US Congress are designed to make the rich richer and the poor poorer; and add $1.5 trillion to the national debt. These tax plans cannot be biblically defended.”

The tax bills cannot be “fiscally defended” either; but that isn’t stopping the Republican march towards transferring the treasury to corporations and the wealthy and burden the poor and middle class in the process. It is noteworthy to remind the clergy that their bible has no place in whether a tax plan can be defended; that theocratic remark ruined whatever positive “optics” the group hoped to shine on their worthy effort.

Now, although the faith leaders coming together to oppose this tax reform abomination is a kind gesture, as was the same group’s opposition to Trump’s immigration ban, repeal of DACA, and attempt at ending the Affordable Care Act, it is only a gesture and the religious leaders know it. The question a majority of those leaders have to answer before they will be taken seriously is why do they predominately support Republicans when they are well aware this particular “unjust” tax plan is the same as every other “unjust” Republican tax plan.

Without the reliable religious vote, Republicans would not control the House or the Senate or a growing majority of state legislatures. The only one reason the faithful support Republicans is because they pander to every faith and denomination that opposes women’s right to make their own reproductive choices. A fair number of the religious leaders condemning the Republican tax scam were also instrumental in aiding those same Republicans attack women’s rights over using birth control.

It is quite troublesome for a secular humanist to give much credence to some of these religious leaders because most of them know their efforts helped give Republicans control of Congress; all in a religious crusade to control women because doing so is “biblically defensible.” However, it is refreshing  to see Republicans being assailed by their staunchest supporters for a change; not that it matters to Republicans who no doubt had some input in having the protestors arrested while they were praying for the wrong issue.

Appeals Court Nominee is Another Trump Anti-women’s Rights Extremist

There can be little doubt any longer that there is an official, administration wide, war on American women in this country and if any American doesn’t believe it the  people are stupider than one originally thought possible.  Republicans have waged a non-stop war on women for decades, but Trump’s election empowered them to take extreme measures against women because a rubber stamp is in the Oval Office. Based on Trump’s selection for a seat on a U.S. District Court of Appeals, there will be another patriarchal rubber stamp on the federal judiciary and this particular anti-women’s rights malcontent believes that there are no rights worth affording over half the population; simply because they are women.

Today the Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on Trump’s nomination to serve on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals for the rest of his misogynistic life. The current justice on the Texas Supreme Court, Don Willett, was in the running as a “potential” Supreme Court justice while Trump was campaigning for a job he is unqualified to hold, so it begins to make sense why he tapped Willet for an Appeals Court appointment he is unqualified to fill.

Willet has not altered his opinions since 2000 when he sent a “memo” demanding that then-Texas governor George W. Bush refrain from praising the Texas Federation of Business and Professional Women because they supported equal rights for women. Bush does have two daughters, a wife, and a mother and no doubt he considered their plight in a decidedly patriarchal society and had a semblance of appreciation for a Texas Business group advocating for women’s rights.

The letter Willet wrote to his boss, the Texas governor, was about a litany of policies he vehemently opposed; basically  anything remotely related to women’s equal rights. It was former head of the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and current head of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Vanita Gupta, who sent the “memo” in a letter to the Senate prior to Willet’s confirmation hearing to alert them to Willet’s extremist position on women’s rights..

In his “memo” to Bush, Willet not only questioned the need for any laws protecting women from all manner of discrimination, he mocked the policy positions of the Texas Federation of Business and Professional Women. It is noteworthy that then Governor Bush was only going to make an “official proclamation” praising the business group’s advocacy for women in business; still, it was too much for Willet to take. He wrote:

They support the ERA, affirmative action, abortion rights, legislation adding teeth to the Equal Pay Act, etc. and they regularly line up with the AFL-CIO and similar groups. I resist the proclamation’s talk of ‘glass ceilings,’ pay equity (an allegation that some studies debunk), the need to place kids in the care of rented strangers, sexual discrimination and harassment, and the need generally for better ‘working conditions’ for women. I strongly resist anything that shows we believe the hype.”

Willet didn’t elucidate exactly what “hype” he or other Republicans don’t believe, but it appears that anything giving women the equality the U.S. Constitution guarantees all American citizens is an atrocity in his mind. Equal pay, not happening. The right to self-determination in reproductive health choices, definitely not acceptable. Placing children in day care while women work, for lower pay, also not acceptable. And the idea of better working conditions, such as protection from gender discrimination and sexual harassment cannot be allowed to take place.

No doubt Willet and his supporters will claim those were his deeply-held religious beliefs two decades ago and he’s a changed patriarchal conservative. That would be bullshit. Republicans still oppose equal pay, equal rights, protection from sexual harassment and reproductive freedom and Willet is, if nothing else, a dyed-in-the-wool patriarchal Republican. And, just two years ago he praised a 1905 case banning labor from suing employers for discrimination and minimum wage violations. He is anti-labor as well as an enemy of women and their Constitutional rights; it is precisely why Trump tapped him to sit on a federal appeals court for the rest of his life.

This latest assault on women by the Trump administration is more than a trend; it is an ongoing and concerted government-wide agenda that shows no sign of letting up. Putting an avowed anti-woman’s rights sycophant on a federal Appeals Court for life virtually guarantees women far into the future will have to contend with patriarchs who oppose equality for women – probably because it is a biblical construct. Now it is safe to assert it is the official policy of the Trump administration that no small number of white women helped elect because they wanted the country to go in a different direction and revert to a different era.

 

 

Trump Judicial Nominee Epitomizes America As a Failed State

For a nation to fail, what is known as “a failed state,” its “political or economic system has to become so weak that the government is no longer in control.”

With Donald Trump in the White House, it is safe to assert that America is as close to a “failed state” as it can possibly be. There is still a “political and economic” system in place, but they are now under total and complete control of a foreign power and corporate and special interests. Instead of “draining the swamp,” Trump transformed Washington into a corporate-run special-interest cesspool. To make matters worse, Trump is transforming the federal judiciary into a partisan rubber stamp for religious fanatics and special interest groups that reliably furnish Republicans with an unlimited amount of money and loyalty at the polls.

Immediately after his poorly-attended inauguration, Trump began appointing either woefully unqualified Republican campaign donors or corporate shills to cabinet-level positions to better serve the bottom line of the special interest cesspool running the government. Of course it is part and parcel of Steve Bannon’s stated agenda of using the Trump administration to deconstruct the administrative state and authorize special interests to govern the people. Trump’s latest judicial nominee is a prime example of the “deconstruction” policy and it is important to remember that Trump pledged to appoint only the most qualified people in America to better serve the people.

The “most qualified person” in America to be a federal judge in Alabama is a 36-year-old man with absolutely no judicial experience because he has only been a lawyer for three years. Even worse, the nominee, Brett J. Talley, has never tried a court case, and was “unanimously” rated “not qualified” by the American Bar Association’s judicial rating committee. And as an anti-Hillary Clinton blogger, he demonstrated his extremist partisanship and that doesn’t include pledging fealty to, and undying support for, the National Rifle Association and its gun industry agenda.

Despite the lack of qualifications, or trial experience, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved Talley for a lifetime appointment on the federal bench. The full Senate is expected to confirm Talley’s nomination because he hates Hillary Clinton and particularly because he is an ardent advocate for the National Rifle Association agenda; no Republican dares oppose installing an NRA surrogate on the federal judiciary.

Trump boasted about appointing clueless and partisan judges because as he and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed; these special interest judicial appointments will “have consequences 40 years out, depending on the age of the judge – but 40 years out.” That 40 years worth of adverse consequences on the nation are what Trump boasts is “his untold story” nobody wants to talk about. Aware that Trump’s appointments are creating a failed state,  civil rights groups and left-leaning advocates were not shy talking about an inexperienced NRA man on the federal court.

Some of those groups denounced the “laughable” Republican votes to confirm a novice lawyer with next-to-no experience to “preside over federal trials;” especially when he has never even “brought a case” before any kind of court. The executive vice president of the Leadership Council on Civil and Human Rights, Kristine Lucius, said:

He’s practiced law for less than three years and never argued a motion, let alone brought a case. This is the least amount of experience I’ve seen in a judicial nominee.”

Several groups joined Ms. Lucius  in appealing to the Senate Judiciary Committee to “reject Talley” because of his “lack of qualifications and doubts over whether he had the ‘temperament and ability’ to approach cases with the fairness and open-mindedness necessary to serve as a federal judge.” Those “doubts” were addressed during the Judiciary Committee hearing on several of Trump’s nominations with special attention on Talley.

For example, Judiciary Committee member Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) asked Talley about “his fervent advocacy of gun rights.” Ms. Feinstein was likely alluding to a pro-NRA blog post Talley penned titled “A Call to Arms: It’s Time To Join the National Rifle Association.”

In the post he toed the NRA member recruitment line and parroted the gun industry’s  typical fear mongering claim.

The President and his democratic allies in Congress are about to launch the greatest attack on our constitutional freedoms in our lifetime. The object of that war is to make guns illegal, in all forms. The NRA stands for all of us now, and I pray that in the coming battle for our rights, they (the NRA) will be victorious.”

Talley was doing the heavy lifting for the NRA after President Obama proposed background checks for gun purchases after a gun fanatic slaughtered 20 small children and six of their adult teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

About a month after doing his NRA advocacy duties with the fear mongering blog post, Talley reprinted what he claimed was “a thoughtful response” from another NRA-supporting gun nut who wrote:

We will have to resort to arms when our other rights fail to yield the desired results.”

Instead of repudiating a call for violence, Talley concurred with the gun fanatic saying: “I agree completely with this.”

The man Trump nominated for a lifetime gig on a federal court completely agrees with a gun zealot wanting to “resort to arms” when “their other rights fail to yield the desired results.” Trump may as well have nominated Wayne La Pierre for the federal judiciary; Talley is as much an NRA shill as La Pierre, and coupled with his humiliating lack of experience, represents America as a failed state.

No-one in their right mind can say that Trump appointing an unqualified judicial nominee or special interest shill is an anomaly; every person at every department and agency he appointed represents a special interest devoted to undermining or “deconstructing” the agency they lead. Big pharma is running the FDA, an anti-public education evangelical is running the Education Department, investment bankers and Wall Street are running the Treasury Department, fossil fuel is running the EPA, a religious racist is running the Justice Department, and now an NRA crusader is in line to be a federal judge, for the rest of his life.

America under Trump is being run by corporations, religious fanatics, and various special interests with no regard for anything other than advancing their own “special interests;” what was once “the government” of, by and for the people is no longer in control of anything.  America is a failed state because Trump has handed the government, lock, stock and barrel, to corporations, religious fanatics and special interests who intend to finish destroying what’s left of America as a functioning democratic republic.

Alabama’s Evangelical Perverts Supporting Moore Is Abominable

A while back Foreign Policy featured a commentary asking rhetorically if America is a failing state, and although that is not the case yet, it is incrementally failing as a secular democracy created by the Founding Fathers. Nowhere in America is that more evident than in Alabama where the state is failing morally and endangering young girls’ well-being on religious grounds.

There is no other possible conclusion but that Alabama is suffering a complete moral break from reality when a serial pedophile claiming fundamentalist Christianity as his raison d’être makes him qualified to serve in the United States Senate.

That Roy Moore is even considered a viable candidate is intrinsically a damning indictment of the perverted Republican and evangelical voters in Alabama. That he continues gaining “value voters” support after the recent revelations he dated young girls as a 32-year-old man is very revealing about the perverse mindset among many Alabama residents.

It should not be a surprise to any conscious American that Alabama evangelicals ardently support a perverted pedophile and avowed enemy of the United States Constitution for a seat in the United States Senate. These are typical hard-line evangelicals that will excuse any immoral and flagrantly heinous act if they believe their dream of an American theocracy can be hastened to fruition. And the idea that a pedophile is available to advance their “dream nation” scenario not only emboldens evangelicals,  a recent poll revealed that close to 40 percent of evangelicals are more likely to vote for Moore now because of his sexual abuse of young girls.

Moore all but admitted the pedophilia charges are true when he boasted that yes, as a 32-year-old man he did date teenage girls, a lot of them, when he was in a position of authority as a prosecutor in the district attorney’s office. What makes the situation even worse, for all Alabama residents, is that while Moore was a prosecuting attorney it was common knowledge that he was a hunter seeking out teenaged girls.

According to Teresa Jones, a co-worker of Moore’s during his time as a prosecuting attorney, his craving for young girls was well-known and yet no-one dared even approach him about the issue, much less charge him. Ms. Jones wrote in the Gadsden Times that while she was with the Etowah County District Attorney’s Office with Moore, “it was common knowledge that he pursued teenage girls.” Moore was 32 years old at the time.

The immediate question any sane human being would ask is: what the Hell is wrong with a district attorney’s office that condones one of their prosecuting attorneys’ violations of Alabama’s sexual abuse laws, especially laws enacted to protect young girls from adult male sexual predators like Moore?

In an attempt to answer why Moore was allowed to pursue young girls, Jones only damned every district attorney employee aware of the “common knowledge” that a fellow adult male employee was seeking out young girls with literal impunity. She said:

As a Deputy DA in Gadsden when Roy Moore was there, it was common knowledge about Roy’s propensity for teenage girls. I’m appalled that these women are being skewered for the truth.

Right wing malcontent activists like Breitbart have launched a campaign to besmirch the women who have come forward as is typical in America’s patriarchal society; it’s always the woman victim who ends up being demonized. And if one Alabama Republican had his way, the victims would be facing criminal prosecution – for being teenage victims of a good clean Christian man. These Republican and evangelical enablers in Alabama are a seriously demented and perverse group; sadly, Alabama is in America and not a 12th Century barbarian nation.

Ms. Jones also told CNN that everyone knew the Christian fundamentalist Moore often went to high school events and other local teenage hangouts trolling for victims.

It was common knowledge that Roy dated high school girls, everyone we knew thought it was weird…We wondered why someone his age would hang out at high school football games and the mall.

Jones reiterated that her and her co-workers “thought the situation was odd,” but “you really wouldn’t say anything to someone like that.” She also posted, on Twitter, a reply to why she didn’t bring charges against Moore:

At that time, in that atmosphere unless the girls came forward with specifics, then no, no charges could have been brought. The Weinstein, Hoffman, etc. revelations have made it far more palatable for women to come forward.” 

 It’s about now that one has to call bullshit. If Ms. Jones and her fellow prosecuting district attorneys were not covering for a co-worker’s sexual deviancy, then they would have used their authority to investigate what was “common knowledge” and charge Moore with a crime. According to the Gadsden Times:

The legal age of consent in Alabama is 16. Under Alabama law in 1979, and today, a person who is at least 19 years old who has sexual contact with someone between 12 and 16 years old has committed sexual abuse in the second degree. Sexual contact is defined as touching of sexual or intimate parts. The crime is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.

The law then and now also includes a section on enticing a child younger than 16 to enter a home with the purpose of proposing sexual intercourse or fondling of sexual and genital parts. That is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.”

The then-14 year-old victim’s account of Moore’s sexual predation certainly meets the conditions on both counts. If any one of the fine upstanding district attorneys had an ounce of decency when it was “common knowledge” about Moore’s propensity for “dating” young girls, then they would, and should, have investigated Moore, filed charges, and sent the evangelical creep to jail; but they didn’t. Their excuse that “You really wouldn’t say anything to someone like that” is as pathetic as Moore trolling for teenage girls at the local mall.

The tragedy of this horrific story isn’t that yet another self-professed “holier-than-thou” evangelical is accused of molesting girls, or that the victims are being “raped” again by right wing cretins and evangelical Republicans; it is what always happens. The tragedy is that Moore has any support whatsoever to sit in a position of authority to infect the federal government with  “his brand” of Christianity.

For dog’s sake, just the idea that Alabama evangelicals are “more likely” to support Moore after sexual abuse allegations speaks volumes about exactly what kind of sick, twisted moral compass these so-called Alabama Christians embrace. And no, their archaic bible does not promote pedophilia no matter the age disparity of Jesus’ and John the Baptist’s parents. Only a sick evangelical Republican would conjure  up “biblical” justification for Moore’s predilection for chasing young girls.

It is true that most Americans are appalled at these revelations and even former presidential candidate Willard “Mitt” Romney called for Moore to get out of the race because “he believes” the victims regardless of Moore’s religious bona fides. This morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell joined Willard saying he too believed the girls’ allegations and demanded that Moore step aside. Moore replied that McConnell is the one that has to go because he’s not a pure Christian conservative like Moore.

No doubt both McConnell and Romney, like every Alabama resident, are well aware that Moore is unqualified and was already evicted from the Alabama Supreme Court twice because his religious conviction informs him the Christian bible, and not the U.S. Constitution, is the law of the land. Still, Moore has unwavering support from “the faithful” that regard themselves as “the real Americans” because they are evangelicals. They ardently believe, like Moore, that their archaic scriptures supersede the Constitution and that a 32 year-old man abusing teenage girls is acceptable.

The longer this atrocity goes on the worse it looks for Alabama voters supporting Moore when they know the kind of sexually deviant creep he is and yet support him on religious grounds. But Alabama voters also supported Jeff Sessions despite his public claim that the Separation Clause in the First Amendment is “unconstitutional.” Something is seriously wrong with Alabama voters.

It is glaringly apparent that putting theocrats in the federal government, even if they are pedophiles, is how Alabama Republicans intend on doing their part to make America a great theocracy. These are some sick people and it is an abomination they are Americans and a nasty joke that they call themselves Christians. They are typical patriarchal conservatives and another one of their heroes in the Senate portends danger for American women and a quick path to “Gilead.”

The Wrong Republicans Are Attacking Trump

Trump thrives on attention, but on Tuesday he likely wilted a little after being “viciously” assailed by not one, but two Senate Republicans with nothing to lose and an opportunity to at least say the right things about Trump. No matter how one assesses the damning indictments of Trump by Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ), it was refreshing to see they are not completely unpatriotic traitors to America like the preponderance of Republicans in Congress. Let’s face it, any Republican still supporting Trump after seven months of sheer terror and disaster is not concerned about America’s standing in the world or the clear and present danger to the nation Trump represents; Messrs. Flake and Corker certainly appear concerned and they didn’t hold back from showing their disregard for their Party’s tyrant in the White House.

Unlike a real standup Republican, Senator John McCain, both Flake and Corker are out of the Senate after 2018; Mr. McCain will be around to defame Trump for a few years and he has appropriately ratcheted up his criticism. However, both soon-departing Republicans leveled some serious charges of their own against Trump that no small numbers of pundits, including conservative pundits, and journalists have made since before Trump’s poorly-attending inauguration.

What is different about Mr. Flake’s harsh attack on Trump was he did it in an impassioned speech on the floor of the Senate and in the company of his GOP colleagues; he did not fail to impugn the patriotism of his fellow Republicans. Senator Flake quoted a former Republican president, Theodore Roosevelt, in a blatant slight against the GOP’s cowardice in protecting Trump. He said:

That there must be no criticism of the president or that we are to stand by a president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.

It is also “treasonable” to the United States because Republicans knew during the presidential campaign that Trump was colluding with a hostile foreign power and only spoke of Trump “being paid by Putin ” when they thought no-one was listening. Add to that acquiescence to what many regard as an act of treason, all Republicans heard Trump’s appeal to Russian spies to help him during the election and they said nothing except “we support Trump.”

While Mr. Flake spent a fair amount of his speech railing on Trump as a liar and a flagrantly divisive piece of work, he did concur with Senator Corker that Trump is decimating America’s standing around the world and threatening the global stability America historically attempts to maintain. Flake said that he was obliged to be critical of Trump.

As a matter and duty of conscience, the notion that one should stay silent …  as the norms and values that keep America strong are undermined and as the alliances and agreements that ensure the stability of the entire world are routinely threatened by the level of thought that goes into 140 characters … is profoundly misguided.”

Senator Corker, while stopping short of openly admitting that he, like the rest of the world, thinks Trump is a threat to America’s national security, warned that there is a risk that Trump will start a world war. When pressed by an interviewer, Mr. Corker “refused to rule out that the President of the United States Trump poses a threat to national security.”  Corker said in response to another prompt to come clean about Trump being a threat to America:

I think there are people around him that work in an effort to contain him” referring to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. But he did appear to accept the premise of the question of Trump’s threat to national security saying he worries that “Trump’s recklessness could lead us into a world war.” He explained:

“I do think when you have the kind of issues we’re dealing with in North Korea, where we have a very unstable leader there, when you send out tweets into the region to raise tensions, when you kneecap — which is what he’s done, publicly — when you kneecap your secretary of state, whose diplomacy, you have to depend on to bring China to the table, to do the things that need to be done, when you kneecap that effort, you move our country into a binary choice that could lead us into a world war.”

It should be obvious that everything both Corker and Flake are saying is true and common knowledge to most Americans, but it is likely too little too late. There is absolutely nothing two United States senators can do about Trump except talk. Only Republicans in the House have any authority to begin any serious proceedings against Trump and it is increasingly curious why they are not inclined to act. After all, they have Pence waiting in the wings to rubber stamp every policy near and dear to cruel Republicans’ hearts, so it must be something else; maybe that no small number of congressional Republicans received aid from Russia.

 There is also the issue of these two Senators’ leaving office. At the same time they have nothing to lose by assailing Trump as a liar and a threat to America, leaving the Senate also diminishes the impact of their criticism. However, it was crucially important that Mr. Corker warned of the risk of Trump starting a world war, and that Mr. Flake unloaded on Trump in front of his Republican Senate colleagues.

It is noteworthy that everything both Corker and Flake said is a reiteration of what an increasing number of pundits, including conservative pundits, have been saying about Trump. It may aid in garnering support among other Republicans, especially in the House, to take action against a clear and present danger to America’s national security, it’s struggling democracy, as well as peace in the world.

Unfortunately, Republicans are too cowardly to address a real threat to America. Their cowardice makes the two Republican Senators attack on Trump good entertainment value as well as an irritant to Trump, but until the rest of the Party ends their “unpatriotic and servile” devotion to a gross failure like Trump, they are all “committing a morally treasonable offense against the American people.”

Senate Republicans Expose the GOP’s Inherent Cruelty Towards Americans

According to Albert Einstein, doing  the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. Most people would claim it isn’t so much insanity as sheer stupidity. Only a fool repeats failed “experiments.” It is safe to say both conclusions are valid, but neither one applies to Republicans who continue pushing policies with a record of failure. When Republicans do something over again, they aren’t stupid or insane; they are pure evil because they expect the same results no matter their record of horrific failures.

When Republicans in the Senate passed a budget resolution late Thursday, they were so giddy it’s fairly certain a couple of them either soiled themselves or had a waking wet dream. Not only did they assure themselves that a trillion dollars would be cut  from Medicaid, and a half-a-trillion from Medicare,  they ravaged domestic spending to “shrink the government” paving the way for seriously monumental tax cuts for corporations and the ultra-rich.

To say the Republican budget portends  a “grotesque future with trillions of dollars in tax giveaways to the ultra wealthy, funded by cutting trillions from Medicaid, Medicare, and other vital programs for the poor and middle class”, is understating the cruelty endemic in the Republican Party. Beside ravaging Medicaid and Medicare, the GOP-Heritage Foundation budget cuts more than $5 trillion from education, health care, affordable housing, child care, nutrition assistance, transportation, and every other program that working families depend on.

Although the details of the “budget resolution” aren’t entirely clear, and it is not a done deal, it virtually guarantees that the GOP’s tax “reform” will pass right along with the budget without any debate, committees or Democratic involvement whatsoever. All Republicans need to implement a “horrific budget” and “tax cuts for the rich” for the House to pass  and Trump to sign it. Never mind it will explode the deficit and decimate all domestic programs, it will make the wealthiest Americans and their corporations incredibly richer.

The damage Republicans are about to wreak on America is something Republicans have been planning for over a decade, especially after witnessing the devastating results on a smaller scale in the Republican state of Kansas. For Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the time he finally keeps a pledge he made a coupe of years ago has arrived. Even as Kansas’ economy, job creation, social programs, and its government were dying from unwarranted tax cuts for the rich and corporations, and credit ratings agencies could not downgrade the state any lower, McConnell pledged to Kansas Governor Sam Brownback that “it’s exactly what we want to do in Washington.”

Republicans know that slashing domestic spending and drastically slashing taxes on the rich and corporations is a recipe for disaster, and yet they keep promising that the way to bring in more government revenue to pay down the deficit is cutting taxes for the rich; even though they know it will reduce revenue. They also claim that transferring wealth to the rich will “eventually” pay dividends and make every American a millionaire due to an explosion in economic growth. The so-called “trickle down” (supply side) economic policy has failed miserable every time it’s been implemented, but it has been a wealth creator for the already super-rich.

Over thirty years ago Reagan tried the “trickle down” scam and despite having to raise taxes several times after cutting them drastically, the economy floundered and the “trickle down” never happened. It took Bill Clinton nominally raising taxes on the rich to right the economy, create jobs, and provide the next administration with a tidy little budget surplus. One would assume that only a cruel fool would revert to “trickle down” again after Reagan’s monumental cock-up, and sure enough, George W. Bush’s Republicans played the fools and cut taxes for the rich dooming the economy. Most Americans remember the abominable economic mess Bush-Republicans left in 2008 that President Barack Obama had to contend with.

Like his Democratic predecessor, President Obama and Democrats eventually enacted a minute tax hike for the very richest Americans, and combined with restoring funding to domestic programs and enacting healthcare insurance reform, the country began paying down the debt, creating jobs at an astonishing rate, and grew the economy significantly.

During the Obama Administration’s economic successes, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback got together with “trickle down” creator Arthur Laffer and implemented huge tax cuts for the rich and corporations  and slashed government spending to the bone. Brownback promised that cutting the source of government revenue would increase the state’s revenue because giving the wealthy more money would create an economic bonanza and create jobs unlike never before. Instead, the state was starved of revenue leading to more cuts to social programs. Subsequently, Trump installed Brownback as his “most trusted economic advisor” to guide him on repeating the disaster in Kansas on a national scale.

Of course Brownback’s repeat of two previous failures resulted in a truly economic disaster in Kansas that the Trump administration, like Mitch McConnell, is anxious and on the verge of repeating. Although they don’t expect different results, they are promoting the same bovine excrement lies that cutting revenue sources will increase revenue, and that “eventually” the economy will surge, there will be more high-paying jobs than available applicants, the government will be flush with revenue and everybody gets rich. It’s all bullshit, but it is not all on Trump.

Of course Trump campaigned on ravaging the tax code for his class of “earner’s” benefit, but the tax “reform,” like the draconian budget disaster, are all longstanding Republican goals.  And it is noteworthy to mention that opposed to the Reagan and Bush “trickle down” disasters, this time Republicans are pairing it with a budget taking America a step closer to Grover Norquist’s dream of reducing government to the size he can drown it in a bathtub. In conservative parlance, “reducing government” begins by slashing spending on “education, health care, affordable housing, child care, nutrition assistance, transportation, and every other program that working families depend on;” precisely what congressional Republicans are on pace to do and exactly what decimated Kansas’ economy, jobs, and social programs.

As a brief aside, Republicans had the temerity this week to claim they don’t know how to do tax reform without giving everything away to the wealthy and corporations. Of course they know how to do it. But if they a little reminder how easy it is, they can summon Bill Clinton or Barack Obama because they were able to do it with no difficulty whatsoever and the economy flourished. Republicans don’t even pretend that the harsh budget will pay for the tax cuts for the rich; they claim, like past trickle down catastrophes, that the tax cuts will eventually pay for themselves when the economy explodes sometime down the road. Something that never happens.

There is no other way to assess the Republican budget or tax reform other than sheer evil and deliberately cruel. Of course Trump is on board and will rubber stamp the most vicious attack on Americans in recent memory, but he does not get all the blame. That goes to Republicans who are as excited as they’ve been in a decade because they finally get to raid the treasury and hand it directly to the rich and do serious damage to the majority of Americans in the process.

From an economic standpoint, what Republicans are close to enacting is insane and stupid, but they know it will adversely affect the great majority of Americans like Reagan and Bush and Brownback before them. That doesn’t make them stupid or insane, it reveals the cruelty endemic to the conservative movement.

Senate Healthcare Deal May Save The ACA from Trump’s Illegal Attack

It is no secret that Donald Trump hates the U.S. Constitution as much as he hates people of color, democracy, and women; he has violated it with a frequency that is mind boggling. In fact, his attempt to kill the Affordable Care Act is a glaring example of his disregard for the Constitution that informs his legal obligation is to faithfully execute all valid laws; particularly one that has been upheld twice by the U.S. Supreme Court.

According to Article II of the Constitution, all branches of government, including the executive branch, have to “take Care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Trump’s mandate is making sure that the nation’s laws are not only executed in good faith, he has to use his “executive discretion toward that end.” The agencies under Trump are also legally mandated under the Administrative Procedure Actnot to use their power to engage in arbitrary action” that harms a valid federal law.

Trump’s unilateral decision last week to inflict damage on the insurance industry and eliminate healthcare for millions of Americans is an “intentional sabotage of the ACA” and a violation of Trump’s constitutional obligations and those of his sycophants running the Department of Health and Human Services. In a fair society Trump would have been impeached for violating his oath of office and the Constitution, but this is Trump’s America now and the concept of a “fair society” no longer exists.

That being the case, it may explain why a Republican joined with a Democrat in a bipartisan attempt to shore up the cost-sharing subsidies Trump just unilaterally ended as part of another Republican attack on the American people.  Trump’s executive order putting an end to “cost sharing reductions” would have driven the insurance industry to increase premiums by 25 percent as well as make it impossible for low-income families to afford healthcare.

It was another effort by Trump to kill a valid law he claimed was “virtually dead” after his barbaric and illegal executive order ending cost sharing reduction payments. Two members of the Senate reached a bipartisan deal and it isn’t clear if the Republican was involved to save Trump or help the people and insurance industry; it is almost certain it wasn’t to help the people. Republicans never, never ever, do anything to help the people unless they are in the wealthiest 1 percent of income earners.

A short-term (two year) fix to save Americans from suffering a double-digit rate increase and save affordable access to healthcare is the work of Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA). It is noteworthy that Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) teamed up with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) last month to attempt at a similar deal even as Republicans were working to put an end to the ACA. Ms.Collins and Mr. Nelson’s efforts appeared to be genuine efforts to protect the people, not Trump.

On Sunday Senator Collins reiterated what everyone with a pulse knew that what Trump was doing would hurt Americans and the insurance industry. She told CNN’s Jake Tapper:

What the president is doing is affecting the ability of vulnerable people to receive healthcare right now. These certainly are very disruptive moves that will result in smaller numbers of people being insured. That will make it more difficult [for] low-income people to afford their out-of-pocket costs, and that will destabilize the insurance markets.

It is that disruption and destabilization the bipartisan effort hopes to put off for a couple of years if the short term deal manages to squeak through both houses of Congress.  According to Senator Alexander, that is precisely what the intention of the deal is. Only instead of avoiding “disruption and destabilization,” the Tennessee senator claims it is to “avoid chaos.” He said:

In my view, this agreement avoids chaos, and I don’t know a Democrat or a Republican who benefits from chaos.”

According to reports, terrible Trump “appeared” to back the deal he claimed was a “short term solution so that we don’t have this very dangerous little period, it’ll get us over this intermediate hump.” What Trump didn’t say was that without his illegal executive order attempting to kill a valid law, there wouldn’t be a “very dangerous little period.”

However encouraging a sign of bipartisanship to shore up the ACA appears, it is certainly not all good news. The deal includes giving states “more flexibility in the variety of choices they can give to consumers,” and it is a gift to Republican states that want authority to control how healthcare is administered and who they can restrict access to.

For example, to save the cost sharing reductions, Republican states will win free reign to disregard many requirements unique to the Affordable Care Act. Another gift to Republicans is the ability to offer “catastrophic insurance plans” (junk policies) to people of any age. Under the ACA only Americans under the age of 30 can buy worthless policies, or if they received a waiver because they work at jobs paying slave wages.

On the up side, Ms. Murray and Mr. Alexander restored millions of dollars for advertising and outreach activities publicizing the options available during the ACA’s open enrollment period. As part of his illegal and unconstitutional attempt to kill the valid health law, Trump decimated that funding earlier in the year. Senator Alexander “promised” that the deal “will spend about twice as much or more than President Trump wanted to expend.”

Although there was tepid support for “the deal,” there is no guarantee that hard line Republicans in the House and Senate will go along with anything that might possibly extend the life of the Affordable Care Act. In fact, it isn’t entirely clear if any Republican is supporting the “deal” for any other reason than saving the insurance industry or their standard bearer Trump from being in yet another violation of the U.S. Constitution. As anyone with a pulse is likely aware, Republicans have not done anything whatsoever for the health and welfare of the American people and if the deal was simply keeping the cost reduction sharing in place to help Americans afford access to healthcare coverage, it would have been a first.

What isn’t a first is Trump’s blatant disregard for the Constitution. Whether any member of Congress would have invoked Article II to pressure him to rescind his latest illegal executive order is highly doubtful; it is possible, but unlikely. It appears that the only people in Congress that can hold Trump accountable to the law will do anything to protect the corrupt cretin in the Oval Office. In this case it appears that a few Republicans are willing to let the ACA last a bit longer, but not to help the American people. It is more likely they are acting to save the insurance industry and protect Trump from being accused of something he does regularly; violate the U.S. Constitution.

Image: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Threats Failed to Sway Heroic Women Who Saved Healthcare

After the late-night defeat of the GOP’s attempt to take healthcare away from who knows how many millions of Americans, there is a fair amount of praise being heaped on Senator John McCain. If one listens to the typically patriarchal platitudes for a male – courageous, committed, maverick etc – it might appear that he was the only Republican interested in saving the lives of many of those untold millions who still have healthcare, for now. McCain’s vote was important, but no more important than, and certainly not as courageous as, those of two female Republican Senators.

What is woefully being under reported is the heroic action of two Republicans, Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and it is down to sexism. Their votes to preserve healthcare for millions of Americans did not come without extreme pressure from Trump that makes their break from the cruel Republicans much more courageous, brave, and “mavericky” than John McCain’s. As an aside, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that McCain’s no vote was a vindictive and pointed “f*ck you” to Trump for his comments last year disparaging Senator McCain’s military service record including being held captive in a North Vietnamese prisoner of war camp for five years.

So as it turns out, the two Republican ladies drew the wrath of more than just the bully in the Oval Office for not toeing the party line and voting with their consciences according to their regard for Americans they were elected to represent.

Last week this “really big” man representing Texas in the House of Representatives, Blake Farenthold, lashed out at the Senate’s lethargic effort to repeal “Obamacare” and leaving tens-of-millions without healthcare.  But instead of blaming the deliberately secretive process, massive outcry from the public, and cruelty to millions of Americans, he naturally attacked Republican women.

According to this “extraordinarily big” man, if those “repugnant” female Republican senators were men, they would be facing him in a gunfight out in front of the capital. That is the kind of pressure Senators Collins and Murkowski faced and yet they still did what only one Republican man had the “courage” to do; serve the people and preserve medical care for tens-of-millions of Americans.

What really incited “big” Texas Farenthold to want a shootout with other Republicans was his claim that any Republican senator who failed to vote with the barbarians was breaking their 2016 campaign pledge. Farenthold said:

[It was] “repugnant that the Senate does not have the courage to do some of the things that every Republican in the Senate promised to do. Some of the people that are opposed to this … are some female senators from the northeast. If it was a guy from south Texas I might ask them to step outside and settle this Aaron Burr-style.

Something Farenthold may not be aware of is that not only is the state represented by Murkowski not in the Northeast,  no Republican in the House or Senate, including himself, or the punk in the White House, campaigned on a promise to take healthcare away from upwards of 30 million Americans – they just didn’t.

And in Murkowski and Collins’ cases, they certainly didn’t campaign on stripping healthcare access and reproductive choice from low-income women; something that has always been a major evangelical goal behind all seven years of the Republican Obamacare repeal effort.

Ms. Murkowski’s no vote was particularly courageous after being publicly harassed and threatened by Trump and his sycophant running the Interior Department, Ryan Zinke. The top man at Interior threatened Murkowski that the Trump administration would withhold funding for infrastructure and energy-related projects important to Alaska if she didn’t vote the way Trump demanded. The message from the Trump administration was that there would be punitive retribution against Alaska residents for Senator Murkowski’s vote against the GOP’s health care repeal legislation.

Predictably, the tough guys in the GOP would not speak up in Ms. Murkowski’s defense for voting her conscience, or call out Trump for what any sane person would deem bullying, “extortion” and “blackmail.” Where the men in the Republican ranks failed, Democrats in the House stepped up and are seeking to initiate an investigation and lawsuit into Trump’s “hit man” Zinke for calling Senator Murkowski to warn her that the administration’s support for energy projects in the state are now at risk because she failed to vote as ordered.

The House Democrats led by Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources committee, were joined by a pair of conservation groups, the Center for Western Priorities and the Western Values Project, to alert Zinke and Trump that they “crossed the line” with their threats of political blackmail. Representative Grijalva said:

Running a department of the federal government means you serve the American people as a protector of their rights and freedoms. It doesn’t mean you serve the president as a bag man for his political vendettas. Threatening to punish your rivals as political blackmail is something we’d see from the Kremlin.

The Western Values Project filed a “Freedom of Information Act” request seeking all internal documents related to Secretary Zinke’s calls to Murkowski as well as any others that he made to other GOP senators for the purpose of “political blackmail.” The executive director of the Center for Western Priorities, Jennifer Rokala, said in a statement:

Ryan Zinke is revealing himself as Trump’s hitman. He’s now threatening to hold public lands and energy policy hostage over a health care bill. This is the U.S. government, not the Corleone family.”

Plenty of Americans would argue that under Trump the government is a veritable mafia crime organization, except that typically organized criminals would not target women for attacks, blackmail or extortion, or Aaron Burr-style gunfights.

It is notable that John McCain did the right thing in voting to preserve healthcare for tens-of-millions of Americans, but it was not heroic or courageous as no small number of media outlets claim. However, the two Republican women, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins were courageous when one considers the undue pressure and threats they absorbed from the thugs in the Trump administration, and the veiled threat from the “big man” from Texas. What reveals the level of cowardice, and patriarchy, in the Republican ranks was a gross lack of support for two of their own who voted like no small number of Republicans wanted to, but were too terrified of the punk in the White House and his thugs.

If the media has to hand out praise to any Republican for stepping up for the people they represent, then they have to first acknowledge the courage of two Republican Senators for standing up to the bully in the White House and voting according to their conscience; something only two Republican women were willing to do under duress and threat and something Senator McCain did not have to endure.

Congress to Criminalize Speech Not Supporting Israeli Aggression

 

As some Americans may be aware, the nation of Israel has proceeded with an expanding occupation of Palestinian territories that America tacitly supports while the rest of the civilized world is appalled at the inhumane actions. And, in this particular crusade, inhumane is a gross understatement.

Since America under Trump refuses to pressure Israel into joining the civilized world and stop its encroachment and terrorizing of the Palestinian people, the rest of the world is engaged in a campaign known as BDS to encourage Israel through economic sanctions to change its aggressive  and inhumane ways. Remember, it was just recently that America warned the United Nations Human Rights Commission that if it did not stop, immediately, criticizing Israel for terrorizing the Palestinians, Trump’s America would leave the organization. Trump’s America loves aggression towards innocent and defenseless Muslim populations.

Now, members of Congress are working for Israel to eliminate the First Amendment’s Freedom of Speech provisions for any American who dares support the world’s attempt to bring Israel into compliance with civilized society. The bill currently before Congress is an Israeli-inspired response to any American who supports, calls for, or requests information about the BDS campaign to put economic pressure on Israel “to withdraw from lands it occupied in 1967, end its [illegal] occupation of Palestinian territories, dismantle its illegal settlements in the West Bank, and allow Palestinians in exile to return to their homeland.”

BDS stands for “boycott, divest, and sanction” Israel for its unrelenting militaristic expansion into Palestine. Instead of using their “freedom of speech” to convince other Americans why Republicans think economic sanctions against Israel’s occupation and encroachment is wrong, and why Israel’s takeover of Palestinian land is godly and right, members of Congress supporting the bill want to criminalize opposing views – by abolishing any speech not supporting Israel’s illegal expansion into Palestine.

The so-called “Israel Anti-Boycott Act” is legislation that:

Prohibits Americans from requesting the imposition of any boycott by a foreign country against a country which is friendly to the United States and from supporting any boycott fostered or imposed by an international organization [United Nations], or requesting imposition of any such boycott, against Israel.”

That patently unconstitutional bill prompted the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to send a letter to Congress demanding a halt to legislation “denying freedom of speech” to any American advocating for, or simply “requesting information about,” any kind of boycott of Israel.

If any American does exercise their right to free speech, the bill calls for penalties  including up to “20 years in prison and fines between $250,000 and $1 million;” simply  for advocating for, or even requesting information about, a boycott of the state of Israel.

Some Americans might recall that Republicans went ballistic over an attempt to overturn Citizens United they claimed was a dirty filthy un-American attack on the First Amendment’s free speech provision. In Republicans’ minds, free speech is sacrosanct and cannot be challenged if the speech is in the form of tens-of-millions of corporate dollars for Republican candidates, but it is punishable by serious terms in federal prison and ungodly fines if the speech entails calling for sanctions against Israel.

The bill’s sponsors epitomize hypocrisy on free speech. For example, in 2014 Ted Cruz (R-TX) railed against attempts to overturn Citizens United saying:

“Typically, when Americans hear that members of the Senate are proposing repealing the free speech protections of the First Amendment, the usual reaction is a gasp of disbelief. Could we really have entered a world so extreme that our common ground no longer even includes the First Amendment of the Constitution?”

And in a Wall Street Journal op-ed Cruz wrote:

Speech is more than just standing on a soap box yelling on a street corner. For centuries the Supreme Court has rightly concluded that free speech includes writing and distributing pamphlets, putting up billboards, displaying yard signs, launching a website, and running radio and television ads.”

One of Cruz’s Texas cohorts, Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn, said:

I guarantee that none of my constituents suggested we need to repeal the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.” And then he claimed the overturn Citizens United amendment was:

A vote to silence them. Tell them to sit down, be quiet, we are in charge and in control.”

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is also a co-sponsor of the bill to muzzle citizens’ voices and in 2015 joined Cruz and Hatch in railing against overturning Citizens United on Free Speech grounds. He said:

Supporters of this radical proposal apparently believe that freedom itself is the problem. That view is contrary to the most fundamental principles of this republic, and incompatible with a free society. Freedom is not the problem, it is the solution.”

Republican Senator Pat Roberts (KS) concurred with Cruz, Hatch, and Cornyn that overturning Citizens United was an attack on free speech and added that it was an assault on democracy. He said:

In our system of government, all voices have the right to be heard. The First Amendment gives them that right. … We have a system that allows all voices to be heard, even those that oppose the majority. That is not the antithetical to democracy; it is the essence of democracy. So it is time, it seems to me, to stop pretending that allowing more voices to be heard somehow poses a danger just because we don’t like what they are saying.”

Another Republican attacking the attempt to overturn Citizens United, Senator Deb Fischer (NE) actually told her Senate colleagues that:

Over the preceding five weeks visiting constituents, not a single Nebraskan told me to go back to Washington and vote to limit free speech.” She said overturning Citizens United was “gutting the First Amendment and the principles of free speech that have endured since the Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791.” And that “it would actually diminish democratic participation and decrease freedom.”

 Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) complained that overturning Citizens United was tantamount to:

Amending the Bill of Rights. It would amend one of the most important of those rights — the right of free speech. The First Amendment provides that Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech.”

Of course Grassley is right; the First Amendment does indeed provide that “Congress shall make no law abridging free speech.” And yet that is precisely what he and the other four co-sponsors of the “Israel Anti-Boycott Act” are calling for because their loyalty to Israel’s inhumanity supersedes their phony respect for the First Amendment.

There are really two lessons for Americans here. First, Republicans only care about the Constitution, or the Bill of Rights, when it serves their purposes. And second, that they have no qualms severely punishing Americans who exercise their First Amendment freedom of speech by daring to oppose Israeli aggression against Palestinians.