Hitler devotee’s primary victory informs the state of the GOP base

It would be a monumental miscalculation to assume that the alt-right’s poor showing in Washington over the weekend was a sign that the white supremacist movement is not as robust as it was directly following Trump’s poorly attended inauguration.

In fact, based on the number of alt-right (Nazi) candidates running for public office as Republicans, the white supremacist movement is growing with support of the party of Trump. No American should be fooled by “official party” criticisms of Republican candidates running under the Trump-Aryan banner because there are never any “official” condemnations until the candidates’ bigotry is widely exposed.

A perfect example occurred last week in Missouri after a Hitler sympathizer’s easy primary victory for the state legislature. That win informs that white supremacists are taking control of the GOP because they have support of the base, as well as the white supremacist-in-chief Trump.

It was only a race for the Missouri state legislature, but the victory of a conservative Christian renowned for raging against Jews, Muslims, LBGTQ Americans and any other non-Aryan, non-Christian person is a portent that the GOP is rapidly becoming the “official” party of white supremacists. Of course racists and all manner of religious bigots flocked to Republicans prior to Trump, but they were primarily closeted bigots; anti-gay and anti-women Republicans were never in the closet, they were in mega-churches with mega broadcast networks.

The racist, Steve West, easily won the four-way Republican primary race for a Missouri house seat by 25 points, garnering nearly 50 percent of the vote. West is, besides a Republican politician, an alleged “businessman” and KCXL radio show host. He is also a raging anti-Semite and a devotee of Adolf Hitler whom West asserts had the right idea in “dealing with who was behind” what was happening in Nazi Germany.

The Kansas City Star, in an effort to describe West’s background after his victory, reported that last week on his  radio show West promoted “fanatical conspiracies” about “Jewish cabals harvesting baby parts through Planned Parenthood, and torturing and molesting children.” West also claims that they [Jews] “run the Republican Party” he belongs to. And as far as his adoration of Adolf Hitler, West celebrated the evil monster claiming:

Looking back in history, unfortunately, Hitler was right about what was taking place in Germany. And who was behind it.

The only thing West did not do was praise Hitler for his solution to the “who” behind what the dictator claimed was taking place in Germany.

The “Star” also reported that West hosts a YouTube channel where he is less restrained from spouting his particularly dangerous brand of Trumpism – demeaning and defaming non-Aryans and non-Christians. Apparently West “dons a wig and fake beard and calls himself Jack Justice … unleashing an array of bigotry including homophobia, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and outright racism.”

West’s Democratic opponent, incumbent State Representative Jon Carpenter, hoped that the people who voted for West simply were unaware of his views. That is highly doubtful since West is the host of a radio talk show and not some character who crawled out of an alley. Mr. Carpenter issued an email statement:

“I just want everyone who lives in this community to know that they’re welcome here. Muslims, Jews, Catholics, the LGBTQ community, people of all races and national origins, and everyone else Steve West has targeted with hate. His views do not reflect our values. We’ll stand together and love will conquer hate, as it always does.”

That West won a four-way race by 25 percentage points, if typical of the GOP base, is a bad omen that the nation is even more deeply divided than even a dark cynic might have thought. Of course the Missouri Republican Party issued a statement disavowing West as one of their “fine people,” but the group waited two days after West won to issue a statement saying in part:

Steve West’s shocking and vile comments do not reflect the position of the Missouri Republican Party or indeed of any decent individual. West’s abhorrent rhetoric has absolutely no place in the Missouri Republican Party or anywhere. We wholeheartedly condemn his comments.”

Like all official Republican Party condemnations, it is purely for convenience and far too late. Where were the official condemnations prior to the primary? West has been a hateful broadcast bigot long enough that the party knew who they allowed on their ballot; just like the RNC knew what kind of bigoted pig Trump is and yet they still support him. No sane human being can imagine the RNC or GOP Congress  issuing an “official” statement condemning Trump’s “shocking and vile comments” or his perpetually “abhorrent rhetoric;” because they appreciate that it incites the base to flock to the polls. West’s shocking and vile comments and abhorrent rhetoric certainly incited Missouri Republicans to vote for the Hitler-loving anti-Semite.

Regardless of the accusations Omarosa Manigault-Newman made about Trump being a racist and using the “N” word to refer to African Americans, there are plenty of indications that he is a bigot inciting his racist base he knows oppose any non-Aryan and non-Christian. His attack on professional athletes exercising their rights under the Constitution is specifically focused on African Americans to divide the nation.

His praise of the “very fine” alt-right (Nazis) after they brutally assaulted peaceful protestors in Charlottesville was offered as an official commendation to “his people.” On the anniversary of Charlottesville, he issued another dog whistle condemning “all types of racism;” he did spend the 2016 campaign convincing his base that there is raging discrimination and institutionalized bias against white people, and it is a beliefthat is growing among Republicans.

As much as Democrats, and decent human beings, should beware of the powerful evangelical extremist voting bloc in an important midterm election, they should give particular attention to the white supremacist bloc. They are just as driven as the fundamentalist cult, and most certainly hate the same people as the religious right.

As an aside, although evangelicals claim to support Israel, it is only because it is cited in their scriptural mythos. If the Christian’s bible said that Havana was the home of the “chosen people” and the site of an Earth-shaking spiritual battle, Israel would just be another Middle East country and Cuba would get an inordinate amount of taxpayer dollars and weaponry. It is important to remember that Nazi Germany was a Christian nation with support from the Christian, primarily Catholic, population and they participated in an unimaginable atrocity against the Jews. In addition, despite the complete demise of the Aryan Reich, many German Christians wanted the Nazi leadership back after the war.

It almost seems natural for a bigot like Steve West to run for office as a Republican after praising Hitler and using flagrantly bigoted dog whistles; his is aping Trump and tapping into his base. If Trump is not inciting racial and religious animus against non-Aryans and non-Christians like Hitler, he is doing his best to rule with an iron fist like der Führer. It should be unfathomable that a publicly acknowledged bigot like West could run for political office anywhere in America and beat his opponents handily, but this is Trump’s America now and the Republican base is sick with white supremacists and evangelical extremists.

Image: Patheos

House votes to make churches dark money PACs

One of the greatest atrocities against the U.S. Constitution and America as it was created was foolishly providing churches with tax exemption with one simple requirement they refuse to abide.

As much as Americans complain about the filthy rich and corporations not paying their fair share of tax, it is curious there is no outrage about religious groups paying no amount of tax or contributing anything of value to society. Oh, it is true the “faithful” boast about the church’s “good works,” but those works are mandated by the faith for entrance into eternal bliss, or some such absurd notion. “Good works” are alleged to be their own reward for “real” followers of Christ.

It has been on the religious right’s wish list for decades, but now those “good works” entail actively funding Republican candidates and campaigning from the pulpit for more Republican “good works” enriching the wealthy and punishing non-compliance with evangelical edicts. In addition, Republicans have provided wealthy donors and dark money groups with a nearly foolproof means of avoiding campaign finance regulations with a value-added bonus of deducting campaign contributions as “charitable donations to a tax-exempt church.”

The religious right has revolted against the Johnson Amendment since its inception in 1954 because without their political activism in support of Republicans, they would be incapable of installing anti-women and anti-gay cretins in office. They wanted their tax exemption and the ability to campaign from the pulpit – which is exactly what the Johnson Amendment prohibited until now.

Although House Republicans did not vote to repeal the dreaded amendment, they did vote to prohibit the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from taking action against churches and clergy that violate the rule with veritable impunity. Every year for the past five years on so-called “pulpit freedom Sunday,” over a thousand evangelical churches recorded clergy campaigning from the pulpit and then sent the video records directly to the IRS – daring them to take action. The goal was to initiate a lawsuit all the way to the Supreme Court to give the evangelical conservatives an opening to strike down the Johnson Amendment as unconstitutional. It is ironic because giving churches taxpayer money is contrary to the Separation Clause in the First Amendment and seems patently unconstitutional. And yes, tax-exemption for churches is giving religious groups free taxpayer money as much as the obscene “faith-based initiative” atrocity is giving churches free taxpayer money.

Now, with Trump demanding that the IRS give churches what they want, something he promised before his poorly-attended inauguration,  and House Republicans voting to make it illegal for the IRS to hold churches accountable to their sacred agreement as non-profits; churches will be the ideal dark money PACs. Remember, donations to political campaigns or PACs and candidates are not deductible and are limited by law. However, donations to religious organizations are deductible and likely unlimited.

What that means is that wealthy donors like the Koch brothers can donate to churches that will funnel the money to the campaign coffers of Republican anti-choice and anti-gay candidates; and they would be tax-deductible unlike any other form of the Kochs’ political giving. It also means “dark money” donors will be able to conceal those contributions from the prying eyes of the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) and especially the Internal Revenue Service. As Matthew Bulger at The Humanist noted:

Donations to churches for political ends would be anonymous, unlike most other forms of political giving.  This is especially concerning because while most 501(c)(3) groups must file a Form 990 with their tax return, which provides some information about the group and its activities, churches are exempt from that reporting requirement. As a result, their political spending would be nearly impossible to track.”

Moreover, the recently announced Treasury Department rule allows certain tax-exempt organizations, including politically active nonprofit groups like churches, to conceal the identify of their donors to tax authorities ensuring an unlimited, and unchecked, supply of dark money in campaigns. If anyone still believes there is an ounce of fairness in America under Republican rule, they are a moron.

As an aside, it is difficult to believe that this Treasury Department action was not enacted, at least in part, to protect groups like the NRA from reporting that Russia paid the gun-zealots to campaign and advocate for Trump and his gun-crazed GOP cohorts during the 2016 general election.

As Politico noted, the Republican House legislation “amounts to a backdoor way around the so-called Johnson amendment,” but it is so much more. It portends nothing good for America’s waning democracy and all but guarantees that the religious right’s crusade to install more GOP theocrats in high places will proceed with the utmost expediency.

These Republican actions on behalf of churches, and the permanent political supremacy of Republicans, certainly have the potential to be a greater attack on democracy than the dreaded Citizens United ruling. It does not necessarily mean that every church in America will be holding weekly Republican campaign rallies, but it does give evangelical clergy the freedom to promote candidates that share their Dark Age mentality with a captive audience every Sunday. And, coupled with the recent Treasury Department ruling, it will give wealthy donors and dark money groups all the cover they ever hoped for without abolishing all campaign finance regulations.

The concept of giving churches tax exemption, and by extension free taxpayer money, is an honest-to-dog abomination; and it is contrary to the intent of the Founding Fathers and Constitution’s Framers. Why so many Americans believe church tax exemption is sacrosanct is beyond comprehension; likely a fair amount of the blame rests with the media and politicians who refuse to alert the people that they are giving churches free welfare to the tune of over a hundred-million dollars every year. Of course the ignoramus public falls for the tired argument that the church and clergy provide “special” benefits to society, but they never consider that nurses, teachers, police officers, fire fighters, soldiers, and public service workers all provide a benefit to all of society and they all pay taxes; a portion of which is flowing directly to churches.

It is an honest-to-dog travesty that large and small communities across America are struggling to find funding for services like clean water, law enforcement, schools, and dependable roads while churches avoid paying anything for the same roads, clean water, schools, law enforcement and firefighters the rest of the population funds. While discussing exactly what “religious freedom” entailed at the nation’s creation, Founding Father and third President Thomas Jefferson said:

No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever.”

Nearly two-and-a-half centuries later, not only are all Americans compelled to support religious worship, places and ministries by government fiat, they are soon going to compelled to comply with the evangelicals who now have all the tools they need to create their theocracy – a theocracy that is being partially funded by the poor unwitting American people.

Image: Patheos

Evangelicals fear a “Blue Wave” but Democrats should fear evangelicals

As excitement grows on the Left for an anticipated “Blue Wave” in the upcoming midterm elections, it is apparent that what has transpired over the past few election cycles has the very real potential of happening again – the left gnashing its teeth and wailing over another disappointing election. For those who have not been keeping track, every couple of years while the left was prematurely celebrating the impending demise of the Republican movement and its theocratic aspirations, evangelicals were planning to flock to the polls to preserve and advance their progress for a theocratic America by 2020.

If there is only one constant in every recent American election, it is that every religious right sycophant will show up at the polls to vote for the candidate who promises to save the fetus, save guns, increase control over women, punish gays, and impose god and the Christian bible on every American citizen. Many pundits have already claimed that the increasing number of Americans claiming no religious affiliation informs that the religious right, like the Republican Party, is fundamentally finished; but that claim has proven abjectly false over the past three election cycles as evidenced by the evangelical extremist ascendancy and complete dominance in government despite predictions of Republicans’ electoral defeat.

The upcoming midterms are no different than the past few cycles and anyone who believes otherwise likely gloated while predicting that dumb Don Trump would be the death of the Republican and evangelical movement in 2016.  Trump’s victory, in no small part a result of a robust turnout by evangelical moderates and extremists alike, and his appointments of dyed-in-the-wool religious right zealots in positions of power, should disabuse any sane American of the idea that the evangelicals’ theocratic aspirations were, or are, going to be dealt a death blow.

It is curious that the evangelical extremist cult is terrified that a Blue Wave and subsequent Democratically controlled Congress will remove Trump and thwart their theocratic plans; especially when Mike “preacher” Pence is significantly more dangerous to America’s endangered secular democracy. Pence is a bonafide evangelical extremist who envisions an evangelical theocracy  with him ruling America according to his Old Testament worldview.

The religious right is terrified of the blue wave primarily because evangelicals ardently believe their theocratic plans will be crushed by a Democratically-controlled Congress itching to impeach Trump. One of their biggest fears is that without Trump, the nation’s federal courts will not be overrun with religious conservatives committed to creating, or ruling in favor of creating, a nation “founded on Judeo-Christian principles by establishing a biblically-based culture in America.”

That theocratic goal and warning that it is in jeopardy if the Blue Wave actually happens was the source of angst from a devoted Trump supporter and theocratic champion of the religious right, the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody. Brody was warning the faithful of the existential threat of a “Blue Wave” in the midterm elections and what kind of disaster it will be “for the faith agenda and the Trump administration.”

One member of the Dominionist cabal, Ralph Reed concurred with Brody and said:

If Democrats take control of Congress, they are going to move to impeach the president Trump. There’s no question about it.”

Another Dominionist crusader who bestows “privileged access” to Brody to incite the faithful to action at his racist religious events agreed that it is crucial to keep Trump, and his religious right judicial appointments coming, at any cost. There is a concerted evangelical effort to keep on schedule for an ISIS-Taliban type theocracy to rule Americans, and the Christian Reconstructionists fear that a Blue Wave will delay their intent to fully implement “their theocratic agenda” by 2020. Brody’s theocratic cohort, Christian nationalist and white supremacist David Lane boasted:

We are really clear about what we are doing. There is no hidden agenda about it. We’re trying to restore our Judeo-Christian heritage and reestablish a biblically-based culture in America.”

Set aside the dirty lie that America was ever established as a Judeo-Christian or biblically-based society, Brody, like Lane, has no reason to conceal the Dominionist agenda any longer. But he warned the Christian Broadcasting Network acolytes that their dream of ruling “Christian America” with an iron fist “could be squelched if Democrats win in 2018. Evangelicals see Trump implementing that agenda so far, but after 2018, it’s anybody’s guess.”

To demonstrate how frightened the Dominionist cult is of not imposing theocracy on the nation, Brody agrees with other right wing religious extremists who insist that the Republican Party is still not doing nearly enough to advance the evangelicals’ theocratic ambitions. The consensus among the evangelical extremist sect is that the RNC:  “Should be doing even more care and feeding of the evangelical base.” Brody quoted renowned conservative political consultant Dave Carney saying:

Liberals are motivated by their blind hatred of the president” Trump and Republicans will have to motivate a higher evangelical turnout this year to overcome what’s building on the Left.”

There is hatred of Trump on the Left, and it was developed before Trump’s poorly-attended inauguration, but it is borne of regard for preserving America as a secular democracy, concern for the plight of minorities, women, the environment, and the rule of law. There is nothing whatsoever “blind” driving the animus and growing opposition to a racist and corrupt megalomaniac destroying America.

Of course there is momentum on “the Left,” but it always appears there is momentum for Democrats only to see Republicans gain seats in Congress and worse, in the states.  And it is noteworthy to mention that despite the unpopularity of Trump or Republicans for that matter, the religious right was more than devoted to support a filthy sinner simply because he would allow a surrogate for the religious right theocrats, the Heritage Foundation,  provide a list of “Dominionist approved” nominees to serve on the federal courts at all levels.

All elections are crucial and there are always severe consequences for the over-confidence typically borne of predictions and popularity polls that predict victory; but they nearly always fail to factor in the theocratic voting bloc. Those evangelical voters would willingly vote for Satan the Devil if he was a Republican and pledged to impose god, the Christian bible, more guns, and the Aryan agenda on the people and their government — the goal of Dominionist Christians. Anyone who does not believe that to be true obviously was in a coma during the 2016 general election campaign for the presidency; the 2016 election demonstrated beyond dispute that no matter how evil a candidate, the religious right will vote for them unconditionally if they pledge fealty to the theocratic mission.

Now that they see a real Blue Wave threat to their congressional majority, and theocratic agenda, the various sects adhering to Christian Dominionists’ agenda will show up at the polls en masse, and they will campaign with a sense of urgency from the pulpit courtesy of their sinful facilitator Trump. That urgency is something our side nearly always seems to lack  — likely because they’ve been fed fake news that the impending Blue Wave is unstoppable.

Religious Republican states inform women abortion can be reversed

In the religious war against women being waged by Republicans in Congress and state legislatures, there are unlimited absurdities and atrocities in the crusade to deny women their constitutional human right to self-determination regarding their reproductive health. Republicans believe their constitutional right as theocratic legislators is controlling women’s reproductive health and a piece in the Huffington Post reveals just how maniacally driven religious Republicans are in their crusade to control American women.

It is a sad state of affairs, but too few media outlets are apprising women about the unrelenting attacks on their reproductive rights because the media is as terrified of inciting evangelical rage as Democrats. They still believe there is a federal statute forbidding alerting Americans that Republicans are legislating according to a bastardized form of evangelicalism unique to the American religious right. And that religious legislation is most rampant where  women’s medical and health rights are concerned.

Most folks who have undergone a medical procedure have signed a consent form and been adequately educated about the risks and their options by a physician. Every state has their own version of what information the state deems is necessary for the patient to be adequately “informed” before giving their consent for a medical procedure. This is particularly true with regard to a relatively simple and routinely safe procedure unique to women intent on terminating an unplanned pregnancy. Suffice it to say that some dyed-in-the-wool evangelical red states include phony information that is simply not supported by any medical or scientific research; their goal is to prevent women from making an informed decision when they can make a Vatican-approved decision instead.

Informed consent based on fake science, first or second-person anecdotes, or a theocrat’s notion that “seems to make sense” is not informed. However, in three statespart of advising a woman seeking an abortion is “informing” them that if they “act urgently” they can “reverse an abortion.”

This unscientific “idea” is a real “thing” only in that there is a real organization, the “Abortion Pill Reversal” (APR) worldwide network, pushing the idea. The “idea” is actually just another religious “crisis pregnancy center” deception with only one reason for existing: to frighten, cajole, and dissuade women from terminating a pregnancy.

This APR “idea” was first introduced about six years ago under the guise of a “case study” that is as far removed from any kind of real science as some of the other dimwitted assertions from evangelical conservatives. In fact, the concept of reversing an abortion is so fantastical that one believed it had been promptly sent to the dustbin about six years ago when it was first introduced. Instead, it was embraced by evangelicals and the Catholic personhood movement and written into legislation in a few red states.

Seriously, the idea of “reversing an abortion” ranks up there with other debunked assertions such as homosexuality causes hurricanes and earthquakes; more guns on the streets mean fewer shootings; college turns Christians into gays; and abortion causes breast cancer, infertility, and severe lifelong psychological damage from making a decision evangelicals oppose.

The issue here is not necessarily another deceitful machination to manipulate women into toeing the Vatican line on reproduction, although it is an issue posing monumental threats to women’s rights. No, the matter is that religious Republicans are actually passing laws targeting women’s reproductive rights based on nothing more than “an idea” some evangelical cretin conjured up to control women. Some real scientists generously labeled the abortion reversal plan “an experiment;” but it is far less than any real scientific experiment.

The insanely ridiculous notion is courtesy of APR  founder Dr. George Delgado who published what he declared was a “small case series” in the Annals of Pharmacology back in 2012. In that poor excuse for a study Delgado claimed that he found a way to reverse “medication abortion” in 4 out of the six women he said participated by giving them an injection of the hormone progesterone; a seventh woman bailed on Delgado’s study.

The women were allegedly administered the progesterone after taking a dose of “mifepristone,” the first of two drugs necessary for a medication abortion. According to Delgado, “giving women extra progesterone – a hormone that helps support pregnancy – will ‘outnumber’ and ‘outcompete’ the ‘misoprostol’ [first pill] and keep it from working.”

Delgado also said that since a higher concentration of one hormone “will tend to win the battle at the receptor, it just makes sense” that progesterone can block the effects of mifepristone and reverse an abortion.

In August 2017, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) had to release a real science and fact-based statement warning that “Facts Are Important” and that “Medication Abortion Reversal Is Not Supported by Science.” The gist of the ACOG statement is that real OB/GYNs do not support prescribing progesterone to stop an abortion because it is “not based on science and does not meet any clinical standards.” ACOG also assailed Republican states for “unfounded legislative mandates [that] represent dangerous political interference and compromise patient care and safety.”

Another OB-GYN, the director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health, Dr. Daniel Grossman said:

It’s one thing to exaggerate the risks of abortion, but it’s far more concerning when a state codifies into law a medical treatment that is completely unproven. We should all be concerned when our government forces doctors to recommend an experimental therapy — without making it clear that it’s experimental.” (author bold)

As one might expect, any suggestion that a fake anti-abortion treatment is unscientific enraged the Catholic personhood movement and drove them to lash out at what they deemed is a “hostile media” for reporting that Delgado’s “idea” is unscientific and unproven. At the time, the Catholics were furious that several media outlets’ reporting convinced legislators in two or three states to reconsider “forcing doctors” to counsel their patients with junk science; the abortion reversal information was not included in those states’ informed consent laws.

Learning that three Republican controlled states actually included this APR gibberish and forcing doctors who know better to recommend a treatment based on an unscientific and untested “idea” was somewhat surprising. It is almost unbelievable that this “abortion reversal” nonsense is still a thing, but then every religious Republican attempt to deny women their equal rights is scientifically unproven and patently absurd. Whether it entails claims that abortion causes cancer, a single-celled zygote is a person, or a fetus feels pain before there is any neurological structure in place to feel anything, the anti-women’s choice movement is the epitome of deceitful.

It is not clear if Republican legislators truly believe the level of lunacy they are basing their anti-women’s religious legislation on, or if they want to believe the non-science supports their crusade to control women’s lives. But whatever their particular religious dysfunction, they never take into account the health and well-being of the woman. The so-called six-person APR “case study” never even considered how the “treatment” would affect the woman’s health, or what might happen to the fetus if it survives. It is something that a real scientific study would have explored extensively prior to beginning the study.

One can argue that without any documentation other than an anecdotal “study” void of any data, that so-called abortion reversal therapy is not even experimental in a scientific sense. It may seem to make biological sense to an ignoramus abortion opponent like Delgado and his personhood devotees, but it is nothing remotely resembling anything “scientific;” which explains why religious Republicans in three states are forcing doctors to inform patients about some idea.

It isn’t unexpected the religious right and Vatican defends these anti-women charlatans; they exist to control women. However, Republicans, and any idiotic Democrat, who supports misleading women using fear or fake “science” is beyond despicable – they are supporting religious extremism targeting American women. But by dog, because this is a religious patriarchy the religious Republicans and their anti-women evangelicals continually get a free pass; because they are using religion to control women.

Image: Eclectoblog

Under Pruitt the EPA is killing Americans in god’s name

According to the mission statement of the EPA, the agency conceived by a Republican president was “created for the purpose of protecting human health and the environment by writing and enforcing regulations.” It is a very straight-forward and simple mission; protect the people’s health and lives by protecting the environment from polluters.

Republicans serving the interests of the fossil fuel industry disagree with the EPA’s mission on principle; “the environment” is not donating tens-of-millions of dollars to Republican politicians. That being the case, Republicans have lusted for decades to put an end to protecting the environment without regard for Americans’ health or lives. Republicans have no interest in protecting anything except their wealthy donors, guns and single celled organisms to sate their special interests’ greed and nasty control issues. The concept of protecting Americans’ lives has had no place in “pro-life” religious Republican politics for some time now because it is not profitable.

The man Trump tapped to lead the EPA, Scott Pruitt, is one of those religious Republicans who claims to be pro-life, but has spent the past year systematically neutering the EPA’s ability to protect human lives and the environment.  As of late, Pruitt, an evangelical malcontent of some repute, has been “playing the god card” again to justify his fossil fuel environmental agenda; including citing his bastardized interpretation of the Christian bible as authority for his deadly environmental deregulation rampage.

Pruitt claims god gave humans a mandate to use, and apparently abuse, Earth’s resources, but only those dirty resources that are profitable to the GOP’s fossil fuel masters. The concept of using any of Earth’s free, renewable and clean resources such as wind, solar, and hydro is abominable to Pruitt. Probably because although those clean resources are allegedly gifts from Pruitt’s god according to his Stone Age mentality, they do not enrich the fossil fuel industry.

According to one religious man who occasionally acts like what a “real Christian” is purported to be, and is the spiritual leader of roughly 1.2 billion Christians around the world, Pruitt’s claim that his god and the  bible support a deadly environmental crusade is completely wrong.

It is noteworthy that when Pope Francis issued an environmental encyclical a couple of years ago, he specifically addressed Pruitt’s interpretation of  “man’s dominion” over the Earth as cruel because raping and pillaging the Earth is killing millions of human beings. In fact, it almost appears that Pope Francis was specifically targeting Pruitt, Trump, Republicans and their fossil fuel masters for what he claimed were “sins committed against the environment.”

The Pope pointed out that the “selfish system motivated by profit at any price” is “turning the planet into a polluted wasteland full of debris, desolation and filth … When [we] hurt the Earth, we hurt the poor and most vulnerable who are already suffering its impact.”

Apparently, and according to Pruitt’s biblical interpretation, his god supports hurting the Earth and the poor or he would not have given his “godly” blessing to turn the planet into a wasteland. That “wasteland,” by the way, is already killing over nine million human beings prematurely, and that is only the death count from pollution. Those numbers do not include the suffering and deaths resulting from anthropogenic climate change.

The atrocity in America is that religious Republicans carrying the “pro-life” banner are abolishing environmental rules and regulations that can drastically reduce pollution-related deaths among their constituents. That is why Scott Pruitt claiming god as justification for eliminating environmental protections is just beyond vile.

In America in 2012, there were 200,000 deaths from “air pollution”  and because there was an administration concerned about the health and welfare of Americans, new environmental rules resulted in 130,000 deaths by 2016. It is noteworthy that those Obama-era environmental rules have been abolished by Trump, and where rules are still in effect Pruitt has directed EPA inspectors to stop enforcing various environmental laws despite the drastic harm to the population. It is noteworthy that Trump has as much blood on his hands as Pruitt whether the  Oval Office sinner invokes god or not

Last fall in an effort to justify eliminating more environmental protections, Pruitt citedhis Christian bible as support for purging the agency of scientists and barring them from serving in advisory posts. He used some Old Testament scripture to justify appointing fossil fuel industry personnel and Republicans indebted to the industry as policy advisors. Pruitt claimed he needed “diversity” of opinions, or what the Trump administration calls “alternative facts,” to set environmental policy.

Trump concurred with Pruitt’s action banning scientists and this week the White House called on a federal court to dismiss an ethics lawsuit against Pruitt and the EPA. It is unclear how the recently Trump-appointed judge will rule on a challenge to the ethics of replacing scientists with fossil fuel industry advocates likely employed by the Koch brothers as EPA policy advisors.

It is not clear how many more times Scott Pruitt is going to invoke his god to despoil the environment and kill off hundreds-of-thousands of Americans every year. It is true that Pruitt has not yet cited a passage in his Christian bible to support not doing his taxpayer-funded job, or deliberately preventing the agency he runs from fulfilling its mission, but he did find a scripture to support decimating the environment, and kill Americans in the process. They call people like Pruitt “religious extremists and fanatics” for good reasons.

This administration brought a world of doom and gloom to America after 8 years of beneficial changes for the environment and Americans’ health – albeit in tiny, hard-won increments. Now with Trump and an evangelical miscreant like Pruitt demolishing the EPA from the inside, and then invoking his god as justification for eliminating rules enacted to protect Americans, it is a fair assessment that they have a wanton disregard for human life.

It was just reported, again, that there is an alarming increase of birth defects, low birth rate, asthma and cancer in and around oil and gas “fracking” sites, but Congress and the Pruitt-led EPA has resisted taking any steps to enact new, or enforce existing, environmental rules because Republicans control Congress and the fossil fuel industry controls Republicans. Those children in Flint Michigan who ingested and bathed in mercury-laden water will suffer lifelong developmental consequences and yet Republicans and the EPA are still not concerned enough to address the mercury poisoning going on in other areas of the nation,  including in hundreds of public schools.

It is telling about the state of this nation and its people that they have willingly installed a government indebted to special interests, and in their crusade to serve those interests the Republicans running the government are culpable of killing Americans by the tens-of-thousands annually. It is terrifying that the man leading the Environmental Protection Agency responsible for protecting all Americans is using the EPA to kill and maim in god’s name like every other radical religious extremist.

Look, there is something horribly wrong with America and it is down to Americans who, for whatever reasons, are as lost and ignorant as Republicans are religious fanatics and inherently cruel. There has been some outrage after each gun massacre because innocent Americans were slaughtered at the hand of an extremist of some sort. And the nation went ballistic after 911 because innocent American lives were lost at the hands of foreign extremists.  When a gang of criminals knocked down some buildings and killed a few thousand Americans, the country united to support launching two wars against two innocent sovereign nations. No foreigners get to kill innocent Americans with impunity; right?

However, when a political party and the head of the EPA is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans by abolishing and refusing to enforce rules enacted to prevent those deaths, nothing happens and there is no outrage; even when the religious freak running the EPA plays the god card.

Image: Patheos

White House report vindicates President Obama’s regulatory agenda

One of the so-called pillars of conservatism is fervent resistance to change; like very unpleasant toddlers and petulant pre-teens. Republicans have never forgotten some progressive changes going back 80 years to the New Deal and they are still vehemently resisting those changes to the point of attempting to abolish them today.

What appears to rankle Republicans specifically is the very concept of the federal government regulating anything whatsoever, but particularly if it is a means of protecting Americans from the rich and powerful. Republicans particularly despise, and have resisted “vehemently,” any kind of regulations affecting the financial, energy, and commercial sector, or generally what Americans know as corporate America.

Republicans never fail to cite two specific economic reasons why they say regulations are an immoral act of federal government overreach,but their assertions have been disproven on a regular basis. Now the Trump White House has “quietly” joined the debunking effort.

As it turns out, according to a report from the Trump administration’s Office of Management and Budget, Obama era regulations were not “job-killing” or economic disasters like Trump and Republicans contend. And, those federal regulations definitely produced a far greater economic benefit than they cost. Remember, this is the Trump administrations’ Office of Management and Budget vindicating President Obama’s regulatory agenda; it is not “fake news” or part of a liberal media conspiracy. Everything Trump and Republicans have asserted or still claim about President Obama’s regulations, or regulations in general, is fake news and typical Republican lies.

No doubt when the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released its “annual report” late last week amid a rash of Trump scandals, they were taking advantage of the typical Trump weekend outrages. A Trump administration report titled “Report to Congress on the benefits and Costs of Federal Regulations and Agency Compliance with the Unfunded Mandates Act”  is certainly not something Trump or his Republican cohort ever want the public to learn about. Specifically because they would learn, from Trump’s administration, that Republicans, Trump, the Kochs, ALEC, and the Heritage Foundation have been blatantly lying about “regulations as a general matter and wrong about President Obama’s regulations specifically.”

Those regulations, incidentally, “had benefits far in excess of their costs with no discernible effect on jobs or growth.” That last part, jobs and growth, was easily substantiated prior to the OMB report based on years of “regular job and economic growth” numbers during President Obama’s tenure. And all the while, Republicans screamed that President Obama’s regulations were killing jobs, retarding economic growth, and costing the American people dearly. However, according to the Trump OMB’s own reporting, the negative assertions from Republicans and Trump are patently false; particularly the false claims that the Obama regulations were killing jobs, the economy, and corporations.

The OMB analyzed data on all “major” federal regulations between 2006 and 2016 to produce a report founded on empirical data, not typical Heritage Foundation or Republicans’ “fake news.” Major federal regulations are considered those with $100 million or more in economic impact.

The aggregate costs of Obama era-regulations were “$59 to $88 billion” according to the federal agencies the OMB gathered data from. No matter how conservative of an estimate one makes, the $219 to $695 billion in benefits “wildly outweighed the costs” of federal regulations. What that means is that all of the Republican and Trump arguments against Obama Administration regulations, “arguably the organizing principle of Trump’s administration,” are demonstrably false; or in street parlance – filthy lies.

Any half sane American was aware Trump and Republicans’ assertions about President Obama’s regulations were false without a Trump OMB report. Like Republicans and Trump, most Americans heard reports about, or saw for themselves, the monthly job and economic growth reports proving that regulations were not bad for the economy. They were also not bad for “ordinary Americans” who benefitted from their enactment.

It is noteworthy to mention that environmental regulations, “specifically air pollution regulations” did in fact have the highest costs. However, they also have had the highest benefits exceeding those costs significantly. And it is particularly noteworthy that those “higher benefits” went to help the “ordinary American people” economically; but more crucially, it benefitted them with better health and longer lives.

David Roberts framed the issue of “regulatory costs versus benefits” in a very interesting way that informs another reason Republicans and Trump opposed President Obama’s environmental regulations. He wrote:

Air quality regulations serve as a downward redistribution of wealth, out of the pockets of industrialists and into the pockets of ordinary Americans, particularly the poor and vulnerable Americans (African Americans and Hispanics in particular) who tend to live closest to pollution sources. They shift costs, from the much higher health and social costs of pollution remediation to the comparatively smaller costs of pollution abatement.”

It didn’t take a Trump OMB report to “vindicate” President Obama’s regulatory agenda because the economy prospered and a record number of jobs were created in the midst of what Republicans claimed were deliberately cruel job and economy-killing regulations.

For example, the economy gained a net 11.6 million jobs; the unemployment rate dropped to below the historical norm; average weekly earnings for all workers were up 4.1 percent; after-tax corporate profits set new records, as did stock prices. It was nearly the same case during the Clinton Administration when the economy soared in spite of increased regulations, and like during the Clinton Administration,  those Obama regulations were accompanied by a slight tax hike on the very rich. Still, the economy grew, unemployment declined, corporations prospered, and the very rich became very much richer; and as a bonus American lives were saved.

Of course by now most Americans should be cognizant that Republicans and Trump exist solely to serve the rich and that includes giving the wealth of the nation, including the Treasury, to the already rich. But the only important way to frame this issue is that regulations save American lives.

The real story here, and the narrative for Democrats heading into the midterm elections, is that despite Obama’s regulations providing significantly more benefits than they cost, including a growing economy, Republicans and Trump have been eliminating them regardless of the harm to the people. Republicans are well aware that air pollution alone is responsible for killing over 200,000 Americans annually (in 2013), and yet with Trump’s assistance they have laid waste to 67 environmental rules in less than a year.

The message to the American people is not solely that Republicans and Trump are abolishing specifically environmental regulations that are economically beneficial and combat anthropogenic climate change; the message is that they are purposely eliminating regulations that save hundreds of thousands of American lives – all to enrich their wealthy corporate donors. If nothing else, it debunks their so-called “pro-life” status and should disabuse their base of any idea that either Republicans or Trump care if they live or die.

It is remarkable that President Obama’s regulatory agenda is now “officially vindicated” by the Trump’s own OMB, but it is noteworthy that unlike Republicans and Trump, President Obama’s actions were specific to saving Americans’ lives; something Trump or his Republican cohorts would never consider. In fact, they have demonstrated beyond dispute that they will kill American citizens by the tens-of-thousands to enrich their corporate masters.

Trump is not permitting the NSA to stop Russian cyber attacks

Free and fair elections are a crucial element to the success of any representative democracy and it is just one of the reasons Donald Trump despises America’s electoral system as passionately as he loathes the U.S. Constitution. There is some hope on the left that the upcoming midterm elections may be favorable for Democratic candidates, but with Trump in the Oval Office it is looking a lot less “favorable.” Trump is not doing anything to support fair elections and it should not surprise one American; he is a lying, corrupt Republican after all.

Whether it was Trump falsely claiming that 5.7 million immigrants voted illegally in 2016, or convening a special commission to affect future elections in Republicans’ favor, or rejecting the claims of intelligence agencies that the Russians interfered on his behalf in the last election; it is glaringly apparent Trump does not want fair elections.

That assertion was verified by Trump’s National Security Adviser who said Trump will not give permission and authorize intelligence and Defense Department officials to combat the Russians who are still interfering in the electoral process.

During queries to Trump’s director of the National Security Agency and commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, Admiral Michael Rogers testified that “President Donald Trump had not given him or his agency the authority to fight back against Russian attacks on the 2018 U.S. midterm elections.”

That’s right, despite the universal knowledge going back nearly two years that Russians interfered in the 2016 primaries and general election attacking America’s democracy, the corrupt reprobate has not taken any steps to protect America or the integrity of the electoral process. Of course that includes refusing to follow the direction of Congress and protect the nation by imposing sanctions on Russia for interfering in the 2016 election.

In response to a question from Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) regarding the Department of Defense’s ability to respond and defend against cyber attacks from Russia “against our forthcoming elections,” Admiral Rogers was not hesitant to explain why nothing whatsoever is being done to protect the nation’s democratic process. Senator Nelson said:

We have been attacked and there are a lot of us that feel like we are still being attacked and that we’re going to be attacked particularly with regard to our elections. So, what’s the holdup?”

Admiral Rogers replied:

The challenge for us is right now we have this thing called the law. And the legal framework shapes what DOD can and cannot do.”

Mr. Nelson pressed the issue to get an explanation about why there has been no action and what about the law is holding up a defense of America’s electoral process. He asked Rogers:

What do you need as the commander to say go after and punish these guys that are trying to tear apart our critical infrastructure?”

Rogers replied thus:

I need a policy decision that indicates that there’s specific direction to do that. The secretary [of defense] would ultimately make a recommendation to the president… and then based on that, we’d be given specific direction and specific authority.”

Seemingly perplexed, Senator Nelson asked, “So you need a direction and specific authority from the White House?”  Rogers explained that yes, “The president Trump ultimately would make this decision.”

Trump made his decision a little over a month ago when he decided not to impose Congress’ sanctions on Russia for interfering in the 2016 elections. His reasoning was that passing the legislation was enough to serve as a “deterrent.” Congress voted overwhelmingly to impose sanctions on Russia as punishment for “election meddling” in 2016. The concept of “deterring” a past action is beyond a mind-numbing assertion, even for a mind-numbing ignoramus like Trump.

Trump is not going to punish Russia for its past election meddling and it is apparent he has no interest in stopping them now. If that were not the case he would have imposed Congress’ latest sanctions a month ago, and unleashed the Department of Defense on the Russians immediately after learning the attacks are continuing, but he has not. He is so indebted to Russia and needs their attacks to continue unabated, he even violated the Constitution by not imposing Congress’ sanctions. It is a clear signal he is not going to stop Russian election interference because he obviously opposes fair elections.

Free and fair elections are no more appealing to Trump than they are to his Republican cohorts, particularly in Republican controlled states. The Trump demonstrated that a couple of weeks ago when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court had to take action to stop Republicans’ unconstitutional gerrymandering. Trump said that the Republicans’ “unconstitutional gerrymandering” was “correct” and that Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court was wrong. Trump encouraged Pennsylvania Republicans to take their case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court where conservatives will continue their, and the GOP’s, assault on fair elections.

What Trump claimed was correct, according to his disdain for fair elections, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court labeled “clearly, plainly, and palpably a violation of Pennsylvania’s state Constitution.” Of course Pennsylvania Republicans concurred with Trump and said the state Supreme Court’s ruling was wrong; they oppose the concept of “fair elections” or they would not have fashioned a system blatantly skewed to elect Republicans.

The head of the Executive Branch refusing to punish a foreign entity for attacking America in the past, and failing to authorize the defense department to combat ongoing attacks is simply beyond comprehension; it is also un-American and it damn well should be considered treasonous. It is also a clear indication from Trump that he is as frightened of the Russians as he is opposed to free and fair elections. Plus, not punishing or opposing their election meddling efforts is remuneration for aiding him and Republicans in 2016. That the Republicans in Congress are refusing to use their considerable power to punish Trump indicates that they too are either afraid of the Russians or want them to carry on interfering with impunity; everyone knows they oppose fair elections.

One hopes that Democrats are prepared for what may be incredibly disappointing results in the 2018 midterm elections.  Because with the party in power opposed to fair elections that would evict them from power, and the head of the Executive Branch unwilling to interfere with the Russian election meddling efforts, the midterms may produce exactly what the Russians want – a wave election that augments Republican majorities in Congress and the states.

 

Billy Graham On Display in the Capitol Is a National Disgrace

One of the primary reasons Americans are fundamentally unaware that their nation and their freedoms are being whittled away by theocrats posing as Republicans is because of sheer cowardice. Mainstream media, Democrats, various pundits, and most commentators are absolutely terrified of attributing Republican atrocities like attacks on women, gays, contraception, Jews and other religions, and the Constitution’s equal rights provisions to one religion. Specifically it is the religion comprised of the cults adhering to the bastardized form of Christianity that falls under the umbrella term “evangelicals.”

Now there is another purely Republican religious atrocity being unchallenged and although it does not necessarily inflict harm in typical religious Republican fashion, it epitomizes just how deep theocracy is entrenched in government.

This particular little screed is over the lack of outrage at an honored privilege being bestowed, at taxpayer expense, on a private citizen simply because he was a Christian preacher. Billy Graham has spent decades adversely influencing at least two generations of Americans while not providing any contribution or service whatsoever to the nation. Still, House Speaker Paul  Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are honoring Graham for his “distinguished service to the nation.”

Graham died last week so Ryan and McConnell sent a letter to Graham’s evangelical extremist son for permission to honor his dead father in the Capitol Rotunda. McConnell and Ryan’s letter said:

“Congress joins the American people in expressing our sincerest condolences to you on the passing of the Rev. Billy Graham.

In recognition of Rev. Graham’s long and distinguished serve to the nation, it is our intention to ask the House of Representatives and the Senate to permit that his remains lie in honor in Rotunda of the Capitol.

With your approval, we will move forward with these arrangements, so that Americans have this opportunity to pay their respects to Rev. Graham before he is laid to rest.”

Graham will be only the fourth private citizen to “lie in honor” in recognition of his “contributions to the nation.” However, even Paul Ryan failed to identify any of Graham’s  “contributions to the nation” in an official Speaker of the House “press release“ announcing the atrocious waste of taxpayer money; no matter the amount.  The three other ‘honorees’ were private citizens who actually contributed to the nation either defending the Capital with their lives, or in Rosa Parks case, making a stand for civil rights the Constitution guaranteed to all Americans. Where the two Capital police officers and Ms. Parks contributed a service the nation that benefits all Americans,  Graham contributed to his Baptist religion; and his own incredibly substantial bank account.

Now, in all fairness there is something Graham has contributed to the nation, but it cannot possibly be regarded as anything other than horrific and contrary to the U.S. Constitution. For all intents and purposes, Graham is the dirty bastard who spawned the religious right movement, myriad charlatans posing as televangelists, and the bigoted evangelical extremist movement decimating America today. He also spawned that piece of work Franklin Graham who spreads hate the way mythological Jesus Christ is rumored to have spread love. It would be unfair to equate Graham’s hateful son with old Billy’s legacy, but old Billy was in no universe contributing anything resembling distinguished service to the nation. He was an enemy of the nation in most respects.

There are myriad reasons Congress is dead wrong in honoring a cretin like Graham, but none more so than he is responsible for the U.S. Congress violating the U.S. Constitution’s 1st Amendment. It was Graham who, in 1952, convinced Congress to “pass legislation establishing religion” and a nationwide religious practice by federal government fiat. Graham insisted that despite the 1st Amendment’s prohibition on Congress legislating religion, he wanted a federal law mandating that the president of the United States “declares an annual National Day of Prayer to see the leaders of our country kneeling before almighty God in prayer.” (author bold)

That one piece of legislation set in motion all manner of religious atrocities that have only increased to the point that theocrats following in Graham’s footsteps are not only fleecing millions of Americans, they are firmly ensconced in running the government. That is just one reason Ryan and McConnell giving a place of honor to an unAmerican preacher is an abomination; particularly in a secular democracy informed by a Constitution without any mention of god, Jesus, Baptists, Christians, bible, prayer, evangelists or revivals.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter to Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell protesting the Republicans’ decision to honor a Baptist preacher. They wrote:

The fact is that Graham lived his life in service to his evangelical Christian religion, and the bible that he believed was an infallible reference manual. He placed the bible far above the Constitution. He was known as a soul-winner and lauded as a “Christian superstar preacher.” What influence he had on this country and its government was purely religious, not civic in nature, and that religious influence was uniformly regressive. While it would be appropriate for evangelical Christian institutions to honor him in this manner, it is not appropriate for Congress and our federal government to do so.

Billy Graham believed fervently in Christianity and people listened to him. But that is not worthy of praise or a spot in the U.S. Capitol, however temporary. Graham in his own way sought to undo the only sure way to guarantee freedom of religion: a government free from religion. Graham is on the wrong side of history. You will be, too, if you authorize this unearned honor.”

Of course the Republicans ignored the concerns of FFRF like they ignore the U.S. Constitution because they are an integral part of the conspiracy to “undo the only sure way to guarantee freedom of religion.” If that were not the case, then Republicans would have never considered, not for any Planck-time, allowing a preacher to lie in a place of honor reserved for Americans who actually contributed to the general good of the nation; especially when that preacher has inflicted a world of damage on the nation.

There Is Only One Solution To America’s Mass Shooting Epidemic

By all accounts, the past week in 21st Century America was as normal as the Sun appearing to rise in the East and set in the West. Seriously, there was the run-of-the-mill news that Russians interfered in the 2016 election on behalf of Trump, Trump told a rash of lies, and then some high school students and their teachers were massacred in their school by a Trump supporter with easy access to several battlefield weapons.

As if to punctuate just how normal the week with another mass shooting really was, no small number of Republicans predictably responding with calls for thoughts and supplication to their god (prayers) to comfort the shooting victims and their families, and to blame people with mental health issues for another mass shooting and gun massacre; even though mental health is not the culprit.

The prayers and calls to address mental health will barely lasted another week, if that, and then it is back to awaiting the next mass shooting, the next batch of Republican calls to prayer, and of course the next round of calls to address mental illness. Oh, and to make the week of a mass shooting particularly normal, Republicans were perfectly normal in never addressing guns and it brings up a couple of issues Americans who are sick and tired of the “normal” never address.

First, it is high time for sane human beings to stop blaming and attacking the National Rifle Association for a very fundamental reason; the national gun lobby does not have the ability to pass or obstruct any kind of gun safety legislation. Everyone is aware that the NRA campaigns for Republicans, and they give those Republicans campaign donations, and they keep a gun-zealot “report card” to use against Republicans who would dare to oppose the NRA agenda.

But the truth is that the National Rifle Association is not an elected representative and does not get to cast one vote in the House or Senate for or against gun safety legislation any more than the Koch brothers get to cast even one vote for tax cuts or legislation ending environmental regulations. Those votes are the sole responsibility of Republicans.

At this point, it is important to remind gun safety advocates that the only Americans with the ability to address gun violence and pass sane gun safety regulations at the national level are Republicans in Congress; Democrats have mostly supported basic gun safety regulations. To be fair, Republicans are only able to protect the NRA and gun fanatics because they continue winning elections and it raises another issue that defies logic. If there is such overwhelming support for the most basic gun safety regulations, then why in dog’s name do those same Americans continue voting for Republicans who are religiously opposed to regulating guns?

Studies show that over 90 percent of the population supports a universal background check to purchase firearms, and nearly 70 percent support a ban on battlefield assault weapons like those used in the past three mass shootings. And yet a fair majority of those same people vote for Republicans even as they pander to the gun lobby at the same level they pander to evangelical fanatics.

It is true that the only means of addressing gun violence in America is evicting Republicans from Congress and state legislatures because they always vehemently oppose and block gun laws and regulations. However, they would not be blocking what most Americans apparently want, sane gun safety measures, if those same Americans were not voting to keep them in power. Any effort to address the gun violence in this country begins and ends with getting religious fanatics and bigots to stop sending Republicans to Washington to continue the gun proliferation crusade only they can stop.

The latest massacre has also brought out the typical response from gun safety advocates that will eventually fade from the population’s memory. A rash of petitions, a campaign to “call your congressional representatives” and demand action, and appeals for money to fight the National Rifle Association are the big thing immediately after every typical gun massacre and the Florida massacre is no different. Those responses, although well-meaning, have proven to be every stinking bit as ineffective as the Republican calls for “thoughts and prayers” for the victims and their families.

This latest massacre has brought something new in that the student survivors are calling for mass protests, marches, sit-ins and student walkouts that may make the people feel like they are doing something constructive. But like thoughts and prayers, petitions, and donation requests, they will not influence even one Republican to support sane gun safety legislation. At best, the only real hope going forward is that voters, particularly half-sane Republican voters, will get the message that their political party is solely responsible for the NRA’s success at putting more guns, especially assault weapons, on American streets and in American schools. The only way to shut down the NRA, and begin bringing some sanity to the gun debate, is getting Republicans out of Congress and state legislatures.

Republicans are as terrified of inflaming their gun zealot base as they are the NRA or there would have been action on reducing gun violence immediately after any one of the “normal” mass shootings plaguing America. The only possibility of actually addressing gun violence and the gun proliferation crusade is evicting Republicans from power because every other approach has proven futile. That was made perfectly clear this week in Florida.

Despite their state making national headlines for another mass shooting with an assault weapon, Florida’s Republican controlled legislature rejected an attempt at banning assault rifles like the one used in the most recent massacre. With the massacre less than a week old and with survivors of the massacre present in the legislative chamber, Republicans put a quick end to any effort to ban assault weapons in Florida. Notice it was Republicans, not the NRA and not Trump, who voted against the assault weapon ban in the same manner it was Republicans and nasty right-wing maniacs who launched a smear campaign against the mass shooting survivors. However, Trump’s son did, in fact, join in the smear campaign even while it is reported he is advising dirty Don Sr. on gun policy.

Look, there should not be a need for a giant concerted effort to address the gun violence plaguing America, but since there is a pressing need it is imperative to make that effort effective; and it begins and ends with getting Republicans out of power. Even criticizing Trump, although satisfying, will not impress on Republicans in Congress and state legislatures that Americans want sane gun safety laws to protect American citizens. If the head of the Executive Branch could wave a magic wand and ban assault weapons or enact universal background checks for gun purchases, President Barack Obama would have taken action and solved the issue years ago. It is only Republicans in Congress and state legislatures who are blocking an effort to address gun violence and since they have demonstrated that they will never take action then they have to be sent packing.

If the current movement continues gaining momentum, then it is crucial that the effort targets the only people who can actually address this pressing issue – Republicans. Of course the NRA is a vile organization, but it is not capable of casting one vote against sane gun safety laws in the House or Senate, only Republicans are. Americans are not really serious about addressing the epidemic of gun massacres unless they make Republicans the focus of any concerted effort and evict them from power with extreme prejudice; if that effort fails there will be no change whatsoever.

Spending Bill Exposes Trump-Republican Hypocrisy and Contempt

As if Democrats lacked a growing number of memes and issues to win more than one safe congressional seat in the upcoming midterms, Republicans provided a stellar example of real conservatives’ priorities that should give even staunch Trump supporters reason to pause.

If there was only one overriding narrative throughout President Barack Obama’s eight-year tenure in the White House, it was that Republicans opposed spending even a penny on domestic programs nearly as much as they vehemently rejected adding even a penny to the deficit. Of course all that changed when a white bald guy moved in the White House. Republicans have exposed their single-most damning trait this past week and if Democrats fail to seize on it they are morons.

Although there has been a steady effort by Trump to defund and dismantle nearly every federal agency in the name of saving revenue and reducing debts, Republicans and Trump put an end to the idea that conservatives are concerned about debt and deficits; exactly like they did during the Reagan and W. Bush administrations. There are still no small number of congressional Republicans who are violently opposed to increasing the debt and deficits, unless it involves enriching corporations and the already wealthy.

Throughout the crusade to pass tax reform for the rich and corporations, some Democrats and plenty of pundits wondered what happened to the Republican deficit hawks that held the country’s economy hostage during the Obama Administration over raising the debt limit or deficit spending. It was well-reported, and admitted by Republicans, that the tax reform legislation they rushed through Congress would significantly increase the deficit. It was also well-reported that the primary beneficiaries of close to 90 percent of the deficit-raising tax cuts were the very rich and their corporations. That GOP legislation passed easily because giving the rich more wealth, despite adding trillions to the deficit, is just what Republicans do as a matter of course.

However, when Republicans acquiesced to a little domestic spending to give the military industrial complex more wealth and children healthcare, the fiscal hawks went ballistic. Democrats should not forget the tantrums of members of the House Freedom Caucus (teabaggers) or the so-called deficit hawks in the Senate as they campaign in the midterms.

By all accounts, save the gigantic increase in military spending and the gigantic void in addressing the fate of the so-called Dreamers, it appears the budget deal is about as good as Republicans will ever give. But even with an unwarranted amount of money for the military industrial complex (MIC), 67 Republican members of the House screamed bloody murder over the deficit after they just heaped trillions on the deficit on behalf of the rich.

In fact, more than deficit spending on domestic programs, members of the “Tea-Party-aligned Freedom Caucus left a closed-door meeting because the deal included raising the debt limit.” The Republicans swore they would vote against the deal because “the spending deal is disgusting and reckless,” and “hiking the debt limit is giving fiscal hawks heartburn.”

It is prescient to mention that it was Trump’s Treasury Department and the Republican Congressional Budget Office that called for raising the debt limit quickly because of the immediate revenue shortfall due to the just enacted Republican tax reform. It is the same tax reform that the same Republican deficit hawks voted for about a month ago, and it is a fact Democrats should not let voters forget going forward. Monumental deficits to enrich corporations and the wealthy are awesome, but a minor increase for the military and domestic social programs is “disgusting and reckless.”

The rank hypocrisy of so-called deficit hawks is beyond stunning and Democrats should beat that horse to death and then thrash it mercilessly leading up to the midterms. Republicans cheerfully voted to add trillions to the deficit for their wealthy donors’ enrichment, but considered it a personal affront to increase domestic and defense spending because it adds about three-hundred-billion to the deficit.

There was plenty of consternation and gnashing of teeth by the Freedom Caucus (teabaggers), but one in particular, Representative Mo Brooks (R-AL), fairly epitomized the GOP hypocrisy and fealty to the rich. Brooks told reporters that the spending bill was “a debt junkie’s dream and that I’m not only a no. I’m a Hell no.” Brooks continued exposing his party’s major flaw saying:

All I know is that unfortunately those who vote for this bill are betraying our country’s future and they are selling out our kids and our grandkids. I am baffled why the Republican Party has turned into such a big spending party. It is one thing to spend money; it is another thing to spend money you don’t have. No American family can operate that way; no American business can operate that way, and it is folly to believe that the United States of America can operate that way.”

Another “real conservative,” Representative Justin Amash called on the American people to speak out against spending on defense and domestic programs. He tweeted,  “I urge every American to speak out against this fiscal insanity.”

It is curious that Messrs. Amash and Brooks aren’t gagging on their own hypocrisy after voting for “fiscal insanity” to benefit the already wealthy and create a dangerous revenue shortfall in the process. Brooks is right, no family or business spends money they don’t have. If they want to spend more money than they have they simply bring in more revenue. Republicans are spending trillions on the rich and corporations and blowing up the deficit  they will never be capable of paying down because they drastically slashed the government’s only revenue source. It is, no matter how one assesses it, “fiscal insanity” and flagrant hypocrisy. At least on Republican Senator called out his party’s hypocrisy. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) said:

If you were against President Obama’s deficits, and now you’re for the Republican deficits, isn’t that the very definition of hypocrisy? I can’t in all good honesty, in all good faith, just look the other way because my party is now complicit in the deficits. I ran for office because I was very critical of President Obama’s trillion-dollar deficits. Now we have Republicans hand in hand with Democrats offering us trillion-dollar deficits. I can’t in all honesty look the other way.” (Author bold)

Now, it would be perfect if anything Senator Paul said had even a modicum of validity, and it was awfully big of the libertarian to call out his Republican cohort’s blatant hypocrisy. Except that it was awfully hypocritical of Rand Paul to criticize his fellow Republicans for piling money on the deficit when he stood on the Senate floor and called on those same Senate Republicans to vote for tax reform legislation they all knew was offering a  multi-trillion-dollar deficit increase. It is not entirely clear what kind of pejorative best fits a cretin like Rand Paul, but his hypocrisy in criticizing his hypocritical Republican cohort is something special indeed.

Democrats should make note of why the 67 House Republicans voted against the spending bill; because it contains $320 billion in deficit spending on defense and domestic programs. They opposed spending on disaster relief, children’s healthcare, the opioid crisis and the military because of the deficit, but had no issue voting for $2.4 trillion in deficit spending to enrich the wealthy and corporations. They are beyond hypocritical, they are contemptible.

Every House seat is on the ballot in the midterms and every Democratic candidate has been handed yet another piece of ammunition to use against Republicans. They don’t even have to shine a light on the 67  Republicans’ hypocrisy, although it is glaringly obvious. They can just remind voters that Republicans just blew up the deficit to serve the rich and corporations while opposing any means of helping the people because of the deficit.