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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is Bad – Now Trump’s DOJ Wants Arpaio Conviction Erased

Although disgraced Arizona former sheriff Joe Arpaio was gifted a with a questionable and completely unwarranted pardon from the crook in the White House, it still isn’t enough to satisfy any of the racists in Trump’s administration. The sad truth is that Trump pardoning Arpaio prematurely signaled that the rule of law took another blow from dirty Don. Now Trump’s racist attorney general is wading in to completely erase Arpaio’s conviction in a blow to a federal Judge, the rule of law and the judicial system.

It was announced yesterday (Monday) that since Trump’s good friend Joe Arpaio demands his conviction on criminal contempt of court be dismissed, Trump’s Justice Department duly filed an amicus brief telling a federal Judge to “give Sheriff Joe” what he wants. Obviously the DOJ didn’t put it in quite those words, but they did, however, reiterate Arpaio’s claim that a pardon from Trump means he was never found guilty and never convicted; Arpaio wants his name cleared of any wrongdoing and Trump’s DOJ agrees. This is a really bad sign going forward.

Shortly after Trump pardoned Arpaio, the former sheriff told the federal Judge he wants the conviction “tossed” as if nothing ever happened and he wasn’t in contempt of court for over five years. Trump’s DOJ filed an amicus brief with the federal court agreeing with Arpaio that he should be declared innocent.

The disgraced Arpaio’s lawyers have argued that even though he will never face justice or be sentenced, the poor former sheriff  has no legal path to be declared innocent. According to Arpaio, that questionable pardon renders his case “resolved” in the eyes of the law, so his conviction must be thrown out and his “good name” cleared of any wrongdoing. He says that presidential pardon “nullifies the guilty verdict in the case.

Federal District Court Judge Susan Bolton canceled an October 5th sentencing date after the ill-advised pardon and set an October 4th date for both prosecutors and defense lawyers to file briefs on why she should, or should not, do what Arpaio demands and pretend he never broke the law.

Although the DOJ has no business wading into the case, they are acutely interested in seeing that Arpaio gets his criminal record wiped clean; it is a slap in the face to a Federal Judge from Trump’s Department of Justice. The DOJ brief states:

A pardon issued before entry of final judgment moots a criminal case because the defendant will face no consequences that result from the guilty verdict. Accordingly, the [Trump] government agrees [with Arpaio] that the Court should vacate all orders and dismiss the case as moot.”

It is as if nothing ever happened. And as if Arpaio’s flagrant flouting the law, and disregarding the constitutionality of a federal court’s authority, is now legal in Trump’s America; but only if the convicted criminal is an anti-immigrant racist and close Trump ally and supporter.

That pardon has elicited legal challenges and there should be a robust stand against Trump’s actions; if for no other reason than Trump failed to follow his own Department of Justice’s protocol and rules for granting a “presidential pardon.” Of course those rules and procedures are not the grounds an activist group, Protect Democracy, is claiming to “thwart Trump’s violations of legal norms,” but it is a path they may want to investigate.

The group of lawyers sent a letter to Raymond N. Hulser and John Dixon Keller of the Public Integrity Section, Criminal Division of the Justice Department, arguing that the pardon goes beyond constitutional limits. In their letter to the DOJ, the Protect Democracy lawyers claim Trump cannot “obviate the court’s powers to enforce its orders when the constitutional rights of others are at stake.” They added:

The president [Trump] can’t use the pardon power to immunize lawless officials from consequences for violating people’s constitutional rights. After repeatedly belittling and undermining judges verbally and on Twitter, now President Trump is escalating his attack on the courts into concrete actions. His pardon and celebration of Joe Arpaio for ignoring a [federal] judicial order is a threat to our democracy and every citizen’s rights, and should not be allowed to stand.”

There is another little matter that should be addressed and it is Trump’s blatant disregard for the long-established process of gaining a presidential pardon; Trump violated each and every one of them.

Just a sampling of the procedures Trump ignored was the requirement that the convicted party files a petition with the Office of the Pardon Attorney at the Department of Justice. According to the DOJ website, Arpaio is required to complete a pardon petition that “must be completed fully and accurately and notarized in order to be considered.” That process, like the U.S. Constitution means nothing to Trump.

The DOJ instructs all petitioners that a presidential pardon:

Is ordinarily a sign of forgiveness and is granted in recognition of the applicant’s acceptance of responsibility for the crime and established good conduct for a significant period of time after conviction or release from confinement. A pardon is not a sign of vindication and does not connote or establish innocence. For that reason, when considering the merits of a pardon petition, pardon officials take into account the petitioner’s acceptance of responsibility, remorse, and atonement for the offense. (Author bold)

Obviously, Arpaio continues claiming, like his racist hero Trump, that he did nothing wrong because he is “above the law” and was “just doing his job” in violating a federal court order for over five years. And he just said yesterday it was a “job” he would never stop doing or apologize for. In fact, he made the same claim in 2011 when the Court ordered him to cease and desist and he has reiterated that claim without pause as he continued violating the federal court’s order.  In fact, in the court’s guilty finding in July the Judge noted that:

The Defendant broadcast to the world and to his subordinates that he would and they should continue ‘what he had always been doing.’”

Arpaio, like Trump, believes he is exempt from following court orders like every other American citizen has to on pain of a conviction for “criminal contempt of court;” which is what Arpaio was found guilty of.

It is also noteworthy that Arpaio never “accepted responsibility for the crime” he certainly committed or established good conduct for a significant period of time “after conviction.” Because in violating the DOJ’s own rules, Trump just pardoned Arpaio barely three weeks after he was found guilty and convicted of a federal crime. Trump was so eager to sate his alt-right Nazis lust for “justice” for a fellow racist, that he didn’t wait for Arpaio to be sentenced and now he wants the conviction and guilty finding erased; to clear “former” sheriff Joe’s good name.

There are rumors that Arpaio is going to challenge one of Trump’s Republican “enemies,” Jeff Flake, for his Arizona Senate seat and he needs his criminal record wiped clean. It is not out of the realm of possibility that Trump is using the federal government agency to aid his racist ally’s electoral chances; Trump’s DOJ stepping in to pressure a federal court fits with any number of dirty tricks Trump will use to game the system.

It was bad enough that Trump pardoned Arpaio without going through the proper pardon process, but the DOJ butting in to pressure a federal Judge portends the “official” end of the rule of law in America.

It is not a stretch to imagine that Trump will issue a blanket pardon for all of his co-conspirators even before they face charges, particularly after he announced publicly that he “has complete pardon power;” a signal to his corrupt players that no matter what crimes they committed, they will never face justice. This should concern every American because there is every indication that no-one in Trump’s corrupt administration will ever face justice; including the dirty crook in the Oval Office.

Trump Lied – He Does Not Want Congress to Replace DACA

When Trump tasked his attorney general, racist Jeff Sessions, to announce to Dreamers that if Congress does not develop a replacement for the DACA program within six months they would be deported, he was treading a fine line. Of course he was sending a message to Trump’s white nativist supporters that he was taking another step to “make America white,” but he also pretended Trump was heeding advice from prominent Republican leaders. It was less than a week ago that several Republicans joined the business sector in appealing to Trump to either leave DACA in place or allow congressional Republicans to come up with a “humanitarian” solution to allow the Dreamers to remain in “their home country.”

However, if one listened to Jeff Sessions, Trump’s intent is clear;  there is no solution that doesn’t include deporting about 800,000 undocumented immigrants who ended up in America through no fault of their own. Trump has to conform to his angry base’s insistence that nothing less than mass deportations will please them.

That point was made crystal clear by a self-confessed “anti-Latino” Republican, Steve King (R-IA). King was livid at the thought of Trump delaying an end to DACA and he “tweeted” an opinion embraced by Trump and his nativist devotees. King tweeted:

Ending DACA now gives chance [to] restore Rule of Law. Delaying so [Republican] Leadership can push Amnesty is Republican suicide.”

First, it is unlikely the Republican leadership will find support to “fix DACA” because the extremist House Freedom Caucus (teabaggers) that Steve King is a member of are vehemently opposed to immigrants, documented or not. They are the alt-right.

Second, and more importantly, Sessions comments confirm that the administration is not concerned about a “humanitarian fix” based on a couple of lies typical of Trump and far-right xenophobes about the danger of Hispanic immigrants.

Sessions lied and said:

The effect of this unilateral executive amnesty, among other things, contributed to a surge of unaccompanied minors on the southern (sic) border that yielded terrible humanitarian consequences. It also denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens.”

A pathological liar like his boss Trump, Sessions’ claim that DACA “contributed to a surge of unaccompanied minors on the southern border” is patently false According to the Koch brothers’ Cato Institute. Sessions was parroting a tired and overused assertion touted by far-right xenophobes that immigrants pose a “terrible humanitarian consequences” to white people. However, according to a study published in a peer-reviewed academic journal, International Migration, any surge in unaccompanied minors actually began in 2008: President Obama’s executive action creating DACA was four-and-a-half years later, in June 2012.

There are quite a few reasons for the influx in unaccompanied minors from Latin American nations, but they had nothing to do with Barack Obama’s DACA program; a fact even a memory challenged idiot like Sessions knows to be a natural fact.

In the waning days of the 2008, one of the final pieces of legislation that passed both Houses of Congress without controversy and signed into law by President George W. Bush, was the “Willian Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008. It was named after a 19th Century British abolitionist and touted by George W. Bush as “very effecting in stopping human trafficking.” And it is noteworthy that not only was the legislation not controversial, White House spokesman Tony Fratto saidThis is a piece of legislation we’re very proud to sign.

As further proof that DACA had nothing to do with a “surge in unaccompanied minors,” any undocumented children who arrived in America after DACA’s implementation did not qualify for the program. According to President Obama’s executive order:

Only those individuals who have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007 and were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012 are eligible to receive DACA status.”

Sessions was also lying when he repeated a favorite nativistfalse narrative” that DACA has “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans” by allowing those same jobs to go to undocumented immigrant children. The line is a favorite of anti-immigration crusaders who claim that besides bringing drugs, diseases, and death to white Americans, immigrant children have been sneaking across the Southern border specifically to participate in the DACA program with the express purpose of  “stealing Americans’ jobs.”

Like nearly everything Republicans, and particularly Trump Republicans claim; there is no real evidence that DACA recipients have taken any jobs from any Americans, much less “hundreds of thousands” of them.

However, there is overwhelming evidence that “killing DACA will do significant damage to America’s economy.” It is why the business sector warned Trump against rescinding DACA; a fact that Sessions knows to be true but he “conveniently omitted” that fact from his announcement.

According to research conducted by the Center for American Progress, when the DACA program is abolished, its former participants will lose their work permits and their jobs prior to being thrown out of the only country they know as home.  That works out to roughly 30,000 people losing their jobs every month that will reduce national GDP by $208 billion to $433 billion over the next decade. And, according to the libertarian belief tank the Cato Institute, the death of DACA will cost employers a little over $2 billion and cost the federal government about $60 billion.   Despite what the lying Trump administration claims, the racist decision to end DACA is not “a job-saver;” it is a job-killer.

The economic damage of killing off DACA is exactly why the business sector opposes putting an end to the program. But Trump’s feint of allowing Congress six months to replace DACA (he has no intention of preserving it) has nothing to do with the economy or humanitarianism; he wants it ended to sate his and his racist, nativist supporters’ lust for a “whiter” America.

It doesn’t matter one iota if Trump gave Congress six hours, six days, six months or six years to “replace DACA;” any effort will be stopped in its tracks by Republican extremists in the House Freedom Caucus and their teabagger cohorts in the Senate. Trump knows DACA, for all intents and purposes, is on its deathbed. If he thought anyone with a brain believed he was acquiescing to the appeals of a few Republicans and the business sector by giving Congress a six month window to fix DACA, he is stupider than his racist supporters.

Trump probably understands at this juncture in his failed presidency that the only support he maintains is from evangelical fanatics and racist nativists that comprise the Nazi “alt-right.” It is true he gave Congress six months to fix DACA before it “officially” expires, but he really ended the program because nothing will please him and his asshole devotees more than deporting 800,000 Hispanic immigrants.

Image: GoldenStateTimes