It’s Trump who shouldn’t be in America, not Black athletes

There was a time in America, for a significant couple of centuries, that anyone who wanted to come to America was allowed, no welcomed, to emigrate and stay. In fact that welcoming sentiment was enshrined on the Statue of Liberty and it signified what B-movie actor Ronald Reagan claimed was how the world’s people should view America; “as a shining city on a hill …  open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.”

That sentiment, like much of what actually used to make America exceptional among nations, has proven to be anathema to Donald Trump. It is why he has aligned himself with xenophobes, nativists, and Aryan acolytes. Since before Trump’s poorly attended inauguration, he singled out several non-Aryan groups that he implied are not welcomed in America. Now he has added another group to his list of “undesirables,” United States citizens who are also African American athletes. And it is remarkable that Trump believes those Black athletes should not be allowed in America simply because they celebrate America by exercising their constitutional right of free expression and freedom of speech; it is what Trump claims is an abominable display of anti-American sentiment.

Trump made his patently unAmerican remark about Black athletes after the National Football League obeyed Trump and announced it would “discipline” any player who dared exercise their constitutional right to kneel in protest during the singing of the National Anthem prior to the contest. Of course the NFL regularly “disciplines” its players for all manner of “infractions” such as wearing the wrong shoes, overly zealous celebrations, and using banned drugs; it is their game and they get to make the rules. But disciplining athletes for expressing their outrage over the mistreatment and shooting of unarmed African Americans is a signal to Trump that the the NFL owners will to do his bidding; it is an action they will live to regret. Obviously, protesting violence against African Americans does not impact an athletes performance, or display animosity towards America, its Veterans, or that  tri-colored piece of cloth; so the NFL’s actions are not founded on anything other than pacifying Trump.

Although Trump sort of praised the NFL for threatening its players with fines for exercising their First Amendment rights, he was irritated that “the League” allowed the players to “sit out” the National Anthem in the locker room instead of taking a knee as a form of protest. Remember, Trump did say the NFL should get the African American “sons-of-bitches” off the field if they wanted to act like an American citizen and exercise their constitutional rights, but his real sentiment came out when he said”

You have to stand proudly for the national anthem—or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.”

Trump’s “long-running quest to stop Black athletes from protesting peacefully” became a cause célèbre among his adherents because there are just enough racist Americanswho believe in Trump’s attempt to “compel patriotism” as he defines it. However, no small number of Americans have rightly noted that there is nothing as patriotic as those African American athletes exercising their First Amendment right to protest the patently unconstitutional practice of discrimination against Black Americans by some law enforcement officials.

It is true that this issue highlights that there are some people who shouldn’t be allowed in America, but the first people that come to mind are Donald J. Trump and his boot-licking little preacher Mike Pence; two Republicans condemning Black athletes for exercising their constitutional rights. Pence and Trump believe that protesting racial injustice is attacking America, Veterans, a nationalistic song and a flag. And speaking of the Constitution, Trump shouldn’t be allowed to be in America because he is opposed to the nation’s founding document to the point of calling it “bad for the American people and really bad for the country.” This is after he swore a “so help me god” oath on two bibles to uphold, defend, and support the document he holds in contempt; Trump shouldn’t be allowed to be in America, much less in the White House.

It is no great secret that Trump “holds democratic norms, culture, laws, and institutions in contempt,” or that he is doing everything in his power to become an honest-to-dog tyrannical dictator. And in no small measure, his dictatorial aspirations are borne of his fervent support from racists who are more than willing to support an authoritarian tyrant is he promises to fulfill their dream of crushing dissent and making America white.

No American should believe for any amount of Planck-time that Trump’s attempt to crush dissent is going to stop with African American athletes; and that is all his faux outrage about kneeling during the National Anthem entails – squashing dissent. Authoritarians cannot exist with any amount of dissent and Trump knows this well; he may be a moron but he has studied Adolf Hitler and revered no small number of modern-day tyrants.

He assailed peaceful protests against racism and fascism as an assault on America, and he even informed Great Britain’s Prime Minister that unless she promises to stop protests against him, he will not visit America’s closest ally. His perpetual assault on the free press is founded in squashing dissent and nothing else. There is no doubt that if the media were cheering his every word and deed, he would bestow honors on them. But they are reporting the truth and in Trump’s vile mind the truth is dissent against him and he is not going to tolerate it.

If anyone does not belong in America it is Donald Trump; not African American athletes exercising their First Amendment rights. Those athletes were protesting racial injustice and discrimination against other American citizens; precisely what many people naturally regard as “being good Americans.” Trump wouldn’t know what being a good American involves any more than the Sun will set in the East, and it more than disqualifies him from living in the White House; it disqualifies him from being in America.

Now DeVos wants separation of church and state in the “ash heap of history”

Despite what evangelical know-nothings the current administration is overflowing with claim incessantly, the intent of the Founding Fathers and Constitution’s Framers is crystal clear regarding the “wall of separation” between church and state. Thomas Jefferson famously said in his second explanation of what the religious clauses in the First Amendment mean that,“No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever.”

In Trump’s “cesspool” administration, far too many evangelicals from Mike “preacher” Pence to J. Beauregard Sessions to that nasty “B” DeVos person, the idea of “not compelling” all Americans to support religious places is an affront to evangelical zealots and patently unconstitutional; and according to DeVos it needs to be “assigned to the ash heap of history.”

Seriously, this idea of abolishing the “separation” clause is only being proposed openly by the Trump theocrats because the media, almost all media, and Democrats are too terrified of ever alerting the American people that their government is being hijacked by a minority of the population made up of evangelical extremists with the undying support of Republicans. As this column has stated over two-hundred times over the past twelve years; it is not against any federal or state law to cite the unconstitutionality of allowing evangelical zealots to force their bastardized version of Christianity on the people.

Even though it is brutally painful for a secular humanist and two decade-long educator to see Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ name in print, or her face in an image because of the horrors she represents, it was with no great pleasure to learn that there is yet another DeVos theocratic atrocity to comment on. And like everything that DeVos and her evangelical ilk represent, it is a struggle to comment without getting downright nasty; especially when her latest outrage is a major threat to America as it has existed for 238 years.

Some Americans are aware that DeVos openly claimed her intent as Education Secretary is to change American culture in ways that more rapidly advance her god’s kingdom, but they may not be aware that she and her wealthy and powerful friends intend on meeting their 2020 “deadline for restoring religion and Judeo-Christian values under the Constitution.” It is a goal that requires deleting the Amendment in the Constitution that forbids the government from “imposing” any religion on the people; or compelling the people to “support religious worship, places, and ministries.”  It is why DeVos and her evangelical cabal want the Constitution’s “Establishment and Separation” clauses “assigned to the ash heap of history.”

DeVos made the not-so-stunning remark after spending two days visiting some schools in New York and then addressing an evangelical-corporate outfit, the Alfred E. Smith Foundation. It is noteworthy, but not atypical for DeVos, that during her two-day visit to New York schools, she  spent the entirety of her taxpayer-funded time “officially” visiting private religious schools; she refused to set foot into any of the public schools the agency she runs is tasked with overseeing and assisting.

In defending her intent to shift even more taxpayer money intended for public schools to private, for-profit, religious schools, DeVos lashed out at the so-called “Blaine Amendment” founded on the Separation and Establishment Clauses in the Constitution’s First Amendment.

The Blaine Amendment is the law of the land in 38 states that were intelligent enough to know that unless there is a clear state Constitution prohibition on robbing public school funding to pay for private religious instruction, the stinking evangelicals would attempt to skirt around the U.S. Constitution; something that is occurring regularly in Republican controlled states.

The Blaine Amendment simply forbids “direct government aid to educational institutions that have a religious affiliation.”

DeVos used her speech to the religious-corporate “non-profit” group to rail against what she considers an atrocity of biblical proportions; not allowing religious parents to rob public school funds to send their children to private, for-profit, religious schools.

The nasty piece of work said:

I know very well there are powerful interests that want to deprive families their God-given freedom. I know that those sycophants of ‘the system’ have kept legislators here from enacting a common-sense program that would open options to thousands of kids in need.”

Then she cited last year’s atrocious Supreme Court ruling, Trinity Lutheran v. Comer,allowing a church to rob public money for its playground as why abolishing 38 states’ Blaine Amendments is something the new theocracy has to do quickly in order to legally rob public school funding for private religious schools. She screeched:

As many of you know, the Supreme Court ruled in last year’s Trinity Lutheran case that it was unconstitutional for a playground restoration program funded by state-taxpayers to exclude a school ‘simply because of what it is – a church.’ These amendments should be assigned to the ash heap of history.

The dirty evangelical comment is tantamount to saying that the Separation and Establishment Clauses of the First Amendment are destined for the “ash heap of history.” There is also the issue of another hypocritical Republican who regularly champions the States Rights when it contradicts federal law; unless it interferes with an agenda Republicans won’t comport. In this case those Blaine Amendments are founded on the U.S. Constitution so there is no “conflict.”  The only problem for the theocracy advocates is that those Amendments don’t allow the likes of DeVos to steal even more taxpayer dollars to fund religion.

There has been chapter and verse written about DeVos’ intent to decimate the public school system, including the Department of Education she leads. That was verified by a Dominionist Christian group with close ties to DeVos that devised what sane Americans would call “an alarming report” demanding the immediate end of the Education Department and a federal mandate promoting Christianity in “public schools.”

The report, an honest-to-dog evangelical manifesto, was handed to Trump and DeVos less than a month after Trump’s poorly attended inauguration. The Council for National Policy’s orders to Trump and DeVos were clear: “Restore education in America in accordance with historic Judeo-Christian principles.”  Translation: decimate public schools and create a system of taxpayer-funded evangelical madrassas with the Christian bible as curriculum.

Of course DeVos was already a major player and committed acolyte of the Council for National Policy organization, and Trump duly followed its orders in his first address to a joint session of Congress pledging his intent to provide all the taxpayer dollars necessary to fund private, for profit, religious schools; and this was after his call to drastically slash funding for the public schools system.

Look, this is getting serious rapidly and there seems to be little-to-no urgency to respond to America lurching towards an evangelical theocracy. It is true, of course, that religious Republicans have long advocated robbing the public schools to enrich the private religious school industry, but this is the first time anyone in a position like DeVos actually advocated sending the separation clause to the ash heap of history. It is true that Mike “preacher” Pence and J. Beauregard Sessions have called the Separation of Church and State patently “unconstitutional” and an unhistorical concept; but even those two evangelical maniacs have not called for deleting a major part of the First Amendment.

Although DeVos did not, in fact, call for sending the actual 1st Amendment to the ash heap of history, her call to abolish 38 states’ constitutional provisions founded on the First Amendment’s “wall of separation” informs that she and her dirty evangelical cohort will not rest until anything preventing a theocratic coup d’état, such as the First Amendment, is abolished and sent to the ash heap of history.

Image: Patheos

Trump Inches Closer Towards Censoring Media

For all of Trump’s enmity toward North Korea’s Trump-like leader, the fascist in the White House is embracing concepts that keep Kim Jong-un in power without opposition or dissent. After a typical Trump Twitter outburst yesterday, it appears that he is serious in using the United States Congress to target, investigate, and punish the news media and journalists. Yesterday he called on the United States Senate to “investigate” the various news outlets that publish unflattering, but accurate and truthful, stories about him and his administration.

Apparently when Trump took the “swear to godoath of office to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” he was lying.  Of course he was lying and that became obvious the day of his poorly attended inauguration. Trump doesn’t have much use for the Constitution, much less any intent to preserve and protect it; not when he’s violated it willfully and often for pecuniary gain. But this is the first time he has made it clear he wants to use the federal government to aid him in violating the Constitution’s 1st Amendment to censor the media like his fascist paramours in Russia, North Korea, the Philippines and Saudi Arabia.

Trump’s panties were in a wad over a couple of reports, and one report that never happened, regarding his strained relationship with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson; a strained relationship like Trump eventually develops with anyone who fails to lick his boots. Apparently Trump was incited to a Twitter outburst after learning that his Secretary of State called him a “moron” with “an R-rated modifier” that rhymes with “trucking.” Tillerson’s aptly-worded remarks were many Americans’ reaction to Trump’s self-aggrandizing campaign speech to the Boy Scouts. For dog’s sake, except for evangelical extremists and Nazis, nearly everyone in America and around the world has called Trump a moron – probably with several “R-rated modifiers.”

A couple of hours before dawn yesterday, Trump “tweeted:

Why Isn’t the Senate Intel Committee looking into the Fake News Networks in OUR country to see why so much of our news is just made up-FAKE!”

As any eighth grader knows, the “Senate Intel Committee” isn’t investigating any kind of media because unlike Trump, the preponderance of senators comprehend that the First Amendment forbids Congress from abridging freedom of the press.

It is noteworthy that Mr. Tillerson held a news conference after the reporting that he called Trump a “f*cking moron;” a report he definitely did not deny. Instead, he took the “kind-of” high road and said, “I’m not going to deal with petty stuff like that.” Still, Trump interpreted Tillerson’s “non-denial” later in the day as proof  the media was lying by claiming the story reported by NBC was “totally refuted” and “made up.”

Not content to use Twitter to spread his own “totally refuted” and “made up” claims about what Tillerson did or did not say, Trump went back to Twitter less than an hour later; surely to impress on his devotees how important it is for Congress to investigate the press. Trump assailed NBC as spreading “fake news” that Rex Tillerson threatened to resign. He “tweeted:”

Rex Tillerson never threatened to resign. This is Fake News put out by NBCNews. Low news and reporting standards. No verification from me.”

 Besides news outlets or journalists not needing verification (approval) from the liar-in-chief, there is the minor issue of Trump’s wont of spreading “Fake News” to incite rage against the media. It is “Fake News” from Trump that NBC reported Tillerson threatened to resign; it just didn’t happen. What its report did claim was that Tillerson “was on the verge” of stepping down. It is an entirely believable claim after Trump assailed the Secretary of State in public for wasting his time in seeking a diplomatic solution to North Korea.

The insinuation from Trump, and a glaring dog whistle to his zealot followers, is that there is no “real news” except that which he “personally verifies is real” to reporters and news outlets. It is precisely how the “news” is curated in North Korea; only news personally approved by Kim Jong-un is real and verified as suitable for delivery to the public.

Many politicians have rocky relationships with the free press, especially those who lie at about the same rate most people use a toilet. But Trump is a different animal, (all due respect to every animal on the planet). Since his campaign he has made inciting animus toward the press nearly as high a priority as boasting about himself at every opportunity.

Trump has regularly assailed reporters en masse, and very personally. He incites his acolytes, especially in rallies, against various media outlets and reporters, and hypocritically accused individual reporters of sedition. As an aside, writing an accurate story is only considered seditious in countries like North Korea and Saudi Arabia.

During the campaign Trump made a big deal out of wanting libel laws changed to make it easier to sue news outlets he considers spreading fake news; like accurate stories and stories that don’t acknowledge his divinity. He also uses “memes” of violence against news outlets and they are not humorous or inconsequential. They are highly successful incremental acts to incite his followers to violence against the free press.

Although this latest call for the Senate to investigate news outlets is an authoritarian dictator’s move, and it is no revelation that Trump wants the authority to censor the free press, there is the “vengeance” factor Trump is renowned for. Remember, it was the free press that reported every moronic word Trump uttered as well as reporting that Trump is connected to Russia; and that he lies more often than an infant soils its diaper. Those accurately reported stories are one of the reasons the public even knows why the Senate Intelligence Committee, like several other committees and 17 different intelligence agencies, are investigating the corrupt fascist. Getting vengeance on people he thinks wronged him is Trump’s admitted raison d’être. Now he thinks the White House gives him authority to “get back” at his perceived enemies and it explains his attacks on the NFL and now poses a serious threat to the free press.

It is uncertain if anything comes from this latest authoritarian move, at least legally and in the near future. But what is certain is that Trump continues instilling a violent distrust of the media, and the truth, into his feeble-minded acolytes and Americans too ridiculously stupid to recognize a corrupt fascist dictator when they see one.

There is no doubt Trump would unilaterally censor the media if it was within his power, but since he can’t he is doing the next best thing; calling on Congress to do his dirty work. If Trump succeeds, there will still be media in America, but it will be Alex Jones Infowars, Brietbart and Fox News, and the extremist evangelical networks; the only media Trump hasn’t attacked because they are the only groups spreading his fake news.

Trump Administration Says No Free Speech Rights in the Workplace 

 

With a fair number of Americans’ attention focused on Trump’s attack on professional athletes, primarily African American athletes, for exercising their Constitutional right to protest police violence, they may have missed a terrifying, and telling, statement from the Trump administration. According to Trump’s Treasury Secretary, Americans do not have First Amendment rights in the workplace. The possible repercussions of this mind-numbing proclamation are nothing short of horrifying, and if any American thinks this kind of prohibition will end in professional sports, they have no clue how fascism starts or that once put in place, no employee will be safe.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin was defending Trump’s assaults on professional athletes’ free speech on CNN when he explained where the administration is going with the issue and exactly what the administration thinks of the Constitution. Trump’s interpretation of the Constitution, and the First Amendment, is that “NFL players only have a right to free speech off the field.”

Apparently, after Trump’s nasty comments about American citizens exercising their First Amendment rights elicited a fair amount of outrage from decent Americans, Mnuchin had to explain where Trump intends to take this atrocity. He said:

The NFL has all different types of rules: you can’t have stickers on your helmet, you have to have your uniforms tucked in. What the president is saying — and I think the owners should meet and they should vote on a rule — this is about respect for our military, this is about respect for our first responders. This is not about Republicans or Democrats. Players have the right for free speech off the field. On the field, this is about respect for lots of people. And I don’t understand why there’s rules that when the Dallas Cowboys wanted to put stickers on their helmet out of respect for people there, they couldn’t do it, but now the NFL is saying people should be able to decide what they want to do and disrespect the United States flag.

Mnuchin is a liar; probably a requirement to serve under Trump. Because he knows, and those athletes have made it abundantly clear that “taking a knee” is protesting racial injustice; they are not disrespecting the military, first responders, Trump, any flag or any song. After Sunday’s display of solidarity and the weekend criticism against Trump’s attacks on athletes, now they are protesting against the fascist Trump.

These revelations by Mnuchin are the latest in a series of Trump’s attacks on the First Amendment and it informs that limiting free speech for private citizens is high on the Trump administration’s agenda. It has barely been two weeks since Trump’s press secretary called for CNN host Jemele Hill to be fired because she uttered a glaringly obvious truth in a “tweet;”  that Trump is a white supremacist. That alarming call for Ms. Hill’s firing proves Trump’s fascist assault on free speech is not reserved for professional athletes. Trump approves of free speech, and the First Amendment, but only when it agrees with, or praises, him.

The latest assault on the First Amendment is continuation of First attacks that began directly after Trump’s poorly attended inauguration. Eight days after that inauguration Trump acolytes Stephen Bannon and Kellyanne Conway said that “commentators should shut their mouths,” and that they “should be fired” if they made less than positive remarks about Trump.

In April, then-chief of staff Reince Priebus said Trump is “probably going to look at arresting or stripping the citizenship” from people the administration doesn’t think should be allowed to exercise their First Amendment rights.

In May, Trump’s Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, was fascinated that Saudi Arabia prohibited its citizens’ free expression and speech and he thought it was a better policy  because it kept dissenting voices, and protestors, silent. It is where Trump wants to take America.

All of these attacks on the First  Amendment began during Trump’s campaign when he called for the arrest of Americans protesting against his candidacy. Perhaps now is the time the people blowing off warnings that Trump was going to assault the Constitution if he was allowed anywhere near the White House should apologize for being stupid.

Trump signaled throughout the campaign exactly what he thought of the First Amendment and now his administration is not only assaulting it, they are restricting where and when it can be exercised.

There are no prohibitions on First Amendment rights in the Constitution, and it is noteworthy that the Supreme Court has even ruled that burning an American flag, although an idiotic form of free expression, is protected by the First Amendment. According to Trump, and now Mnuchin, the High Court is wrong and free expression does not apply at a person’s place of employment; this is how fascism begins.

The implications of a prohibiting Americans to exercise their constitutional rights in the workplace are terrifying. The risk to employees of the fanatical religious right under this “no rights in the  workplace” idea is epic, and particularly so since religious Republicans have attempted to violate Americans’ constitutional rights of privacy and freedom from religious imposition for quite some time.

Under this fascist idea that First Amendment rights are null and void in the workplace, women refusing to sign over their medical records and reproductive history can be fired because their constitutional rights to privacy will not apply in the workplace. Public school teachers refusing to teach the Christian bible and lead evangelical-approved prayers could be summarily fired because the “speech and religious freedoms” enshrined in the First Amendment would not apply on the job.

Now the Trump administration openly says free speech is restricted in the workplace, and plenty of Republicans have attempted to restrict dissenting speech in the public square; some going so far as embracing the idea of running over protestors. This latest development is, although frightening on its face, a signal from the Trump administration that the assault on professional athletes is a prelude to the assault on the general public. Regardless how far the Trump administration plans to take this fascist idea, Americans should be appalled that Trump’s administration is saying out loud that their constitutional rights do not apply in the workplace and there is no telling how long before the restrictions apply in the public square.

Trump’s Attack On Athletes Proves He’s Not “American”

It is being manifest more every day that the current White House occupant has little-to-no clue what it means to be American. He certainly lacks even a basic understanding of America, the nation. He made that crystal clear when he demeaned the U.S. Constitution and its rules he said were “bad for the country.” Add to that stunning declaration the fact that Trump has used his ill-gotten “authority” to systematically attack every right the Constitution guarantees to every American; even African Americans. And those are rights Americans have fought, bled and died to defend and preserve since the nation’s founding. That is what it means to be “American,” supporting and defending the nation’s founding document and law of the land. It is contrary to everything Trump represents.

When Trump attacked Colin Kaepernick at a campaign rally in Alabama, he not only attacked an American citizen exercising his constitutionally-guaranteed right to freely express himself, he veritably attacked the U.S. Constitution, the Constitution’s Framers and Founding Fathers, and every American who actually defends and respects America; a nation Trump neither understands nor has any affection for.

If Trump had even a modicum of respect for, or understanding of “America,”  instead of assailing an American citizen exercising their constitutional rights, he would either shut his sphincter mouth or tout the marvels of a nation guaranteeing that all citizens are free to express themselves. Regardless if he disagrees with Mr. Kaepernick or any other athlete that just happens to be an African American, Trump swore a “so help me god” oath to defend the Constitution and the rights it provides; not doing so is the ultimate display of “disrespecting America.”

It really isn’t worth wasting precious time or words on Trump acting like a punk-ass tyrant, but he crossed a line when he defamed an African American athlete, and his mother, for exercising his constitutional rights – what Trump asserted is “disrespecting the flag and our country, America.” If Trump was American, he would know intrinsically that not standing during a song is not disrespecting America or its flag. In fact, there is nothing more “American” than protesting injustice. The Founding Fathers began “founding” America by protesting an injustice when they held the so-called Boston Tea Party.

If Trump needs a lesson in what qualifies as disrespecting America, he should consider purposely violating its Constitution, using a political office for personal profit, restricting Americans’ constitutional rights, and colluding with a hostile foreign power. Kneeling during a song doesn’t qualify as disrespecting America or its flag.

Not content to enrage his racist base by attacking Mr. Kaepernick, Trump continued attacking professional Black athletes on Friday and Saturday by demanding that private companies fire athletes that Trump thinks are showing “insufficient respect” for what he thinks is America – a song. It is the action of a petty man with tiny hands and it is also a violation of  18 U.S. Code § 227; the same U.S. Code Trump’s lying press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders violated earning an ethics complaint just last week.

18 U.S. Code § 227 says:

Whoever, being a covered government person, with the intent to influence .. an employment decision or employment practice of any private entity shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than 15 years, or both, and may be disqualified from holding any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.”

It is worth noting that Trump’s attacks on a professional athlete as a “son-of-a-bitch” that should be fired is an attack on a growing number of athletes at all levels. And that includes children with a social conscience and awareness that they live under a Constitution that protects their freedom of expression; even if that “expression” doesn’t comport with Trump’s idea of America. Athletes at the high schoolcollege and even the Peewee level recognize racial and social injustice when they see it, and they recognize they live in a country with a Bill of Rights granting them the freedom to speak out against it; even if “speaking out” is kneeling during a song. They know they are the real Americans and they know it is why Trump is attacking them.

Now they understand for sure there is a racist dotard in the White House who not only opposes them exercising their constitutional right of free speech, he called them sons-of-bitches and demands they are thrown off the playing field for being “African” Americans protesting racial injustice. Trump stepped over a line and proved in broad daylight what at least half of Americans already know. He is a filthy racist; he is opposed to Americans exercising their constitutional rights; and particularly that he is not what any cognizant human being recognizes as “American.”

House Bill Will Make Churches Dark Money Super PACs

 

Republicans made a sneaky move on Thursday to give their religious right devotees a long sought after gift that further erodes the Separation of Church and State as well as provide the ultimate dark money cover for Republicans’ corporate donors. It is another monumental gift to special interests and the wealthy; a religious super PAC completely immune to the IRS and FEC auditor’s prying eyes.

As is their wont, House Republicans passed what’s been labeled a “megabus” spending bill on Thursday that is better labeled reverse Robin Hood legislation; it takes from the poor and infirm and gives to the rich. For the evangelical right, the Republican bill is two-fold gift in allowing churches to receive and funnel “unlimited dark money to Republican campaigns” as well as to campaign from the pulpit free of IRS interference. According to the tax code, “tax exempt “charitable” non-profits are forbidden from inserting themselves into campaigns, and currently that prohibition stands for all non-profits including those representing religion.

The House spending bill includes a world of hurt for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and food stamp recipients with significant cuts to help pay for tax cuts for billionaires. But tucked away in the spending bill is a rider with a provision making it nearly impossible for the Internal Revenue Service to enforce the “Johnson Amendment.” The “rider” stops funding attempts by the IRS Republicans, and Trump, claim are unfair attempts to “penalize churches that violate tax law by engaging in explicit political action.”

The new provision states that if there are any funds needed to enforce the Johnson Amendment on lawbreaking evangelical churches, it will “require IRS agents to notify two congressional committees, endure a 90-day waiting period, and then obtain an executive sign-off from the IRS commissioner.” It is noteworthy that this is a “special gift” to churches because all other tax-exempt charitable nonprofits that are not faith based will still be subject to enforcement of the law.

Besides opening up worshippers to suffering weekly campaigning from the pulpit for Republican candidates, this is simply another despicable Republican attempt to deregulate campaign finance laws to aid Republicans. Ironically, destroying the Johnson Amendment is “deeply unpopular among people of faith;” evangelical clergy love the idea. In fact, most religious Americans don’t want politics preached from the pulpit,  and “not a single major denomination” likes the idea of neutering the Johnson Amendment.

That “Johnson Amendment” is hated by the religious right as if it was from Satan because it is part of the tax code that prohibits churches from openly endorsing and campaigning for Republicans from the pulpit. The amendment is founded on the Constitution’s framers’ intent to keep church and state separate; it is a concept that Republicans like Jeff Sessions says is “unconstitutional and unhistorical.

However, this crusade to neuter the Johnson Amendment is almost certainly a Republican ploy to open the floodgates of dark money. There are exceedingly stringent rules prohibiting the IRS from auditing churches and according to the IRS, it is also extremely rare that a church is investigated for violating the Johnson Amendment, much less losing their tax-exemption.

A former IRS attorney and current LSU law school professor, Philip Hackney, told ThinkProgress the IRS typically goes to extreme lengths to avoid enforcing the Johnson Amendment. It is almost a mortal sin in America to even utter an unkind word about religion, so naturally daring to take away a church’s free taxpayer money is tantamount to a sin against the evangelical god. Mr. Hackney said:

There have been very few organizations that have lost their exemption. The typical answer was to slap people on the wrist. There’s a real problem when the answer is ‘you lose exemption’ — the IRS would look for any way it could get around making that choice.

According to the Center for Inquiry’s legal director, Nick Little, the Republican ploy is another “double benefit” for places of worship and Republicans. Mr. Little said:

“You could have unlimited dark money flowing to a campaign [from churches] if this gets passed, and there is nothing the IRS could do about it. They would be getting a double benefit.”

Democrats did attempt to remove the “dark money” provision from the spending bill during debate at the sub-committee level, at the full committee level, and on the floor of the House. But Republicans care more concerned about deregulating campaign finance laws and getting free weekly pulpit campaign time than preserving the Constitution’s Separation and Establishment Clauses in the First Amendment.

The Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America, Larry T. Decker said:

Members of Congress had ample opportunities to strike [the provision] from this bill; when it was debated at the sub-committee level, at the full committee level, when Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz offered an amendment to cut it from the bill, and when it was on the floor of the House of Representatives. At every point, Congress failed to stand up for a law which has helped maintain the separation of church and state for more than 63 years.”

Like everything Republicans do, sneaking a measure in a spending bill to advance the religious rights’ crusade against the Constitution’s Separation of church and state, and giving ultimate cover for dark money to aid Republicans is highly unpopular. It is also a despicable attack on democracy. The religious right sees it as a sure-fire guarantee to continue electing Republicans without IRS interference, and help funnel dark money for those Republicans unimpeded and out of the Federal Elections Commission’s prying eyes.

For Americans who are not evangelical fanatics, it is another blatant Republican attack on the U.S. Constitution that is beginning to appear as important to Republicans as it to their standard bearer dirty Don Trump. For dark money purveyors like the Koch brothers and Karl Rove, the Republican move is tantamount to abolishing the FEC because with no way to “follow the money” from the Kochs to the churches to Republican candidates, this atrocity fairly decimates what remains of America’s fragile representative democracy; just like the Kochs and Republicans have planned for decades.

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.