NRA and GOP Share Responsibility for the Las Vegas Terror Attack

As Americans go through the annual, and often bi-annual, uniquely American national day of prayers and thoughts for slain gun victims and their families, there is less attention from Republicans about the terrorist than normal because he was white. There is, however, some small controversy about whether a gunman killing 59 and wounding over 500 other Americans was really a domestic terror attack as if it makes any difference to the slain, the survivors, and their families. The regular offer of useless prayers from Republicans and gun zealots likely rings hollow to the survivors and their families after conspiring to put more assault weapons into the hands of madmen.

Apparently law enforcement is still determining if the Las Vegas attack was terrorism or just some disgruntled old white guy with a battlefield arsenal in tow; based on witness accounts of the attack, each and every one of the 22-plus thousand concert attendees on Sunday night were terrified beyond belief. And, if law enforcement is looking for extremist groups to connect with the shooter to make it a conspiracy necessary for a “domestic terror” designation, both the National Rife Association and Republican Party have offices in Washington.

Those two groups are solely responsible for the proliferation of firearms in the population by inciting terror to drive the public to arm themselves out of an irrational fear and belief that carrying firearms will keep them safe. Firearms, whether hand guns or battlefield assault weapons, are not for protection or defense; they are offensive weapons.

It is little wonder Republicans are making statements offering prayers, and it is likely they are praying the public will ignore their culpability in what was definitely a terror attack; the gunman wasn’t using easily-obtainable battlefield weapons to spread peace and joy. Although it’s true that the NRA doesn’t “always” write legislation to arm the population for war against other Americans, they do pay Republicans to pass their “model legislation” and threaten electoral death if they fail to toe the NRA line.

Since January, Republicans, including Trump, have toed the gun-fanatics’ line and were poised to vote on another one of the NRA’s long-wished-for legislative dreams – making “noise suppression” devices (silencers) legal. However, concerned that their culpability in the most recent terror attack will be further exposed, Republicans once again put off the vote; at least for the time being.

Apparently Republicans are concerned that legalizing silencers might bring undue attention to their part in helping maniacs kill other Americans easier. This “silencer” bill was put on hold before and the NRA was irritated because they claimed the restrictions on silencers is costly and unnecessary. Of course they don’t explain why the restriction is costly, but they don’t have to; Republicans do their bidding without question.

Republicans were gung-ho to pass the “silencer” legislation at about the same time a gunman opened fire on a congressional softball practice injuring Republican Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA) and two police officers. It is worth remarking that if the shooter’s weapon was equipped with “noise suppression,” the body count could have been horrific and the madman may have walked away undetected. Still, Republicans knew they couldn’t possibly be seen passing legislation making it easier to kill and escape without bringing undue attention to their insane devotion to their funders at the NRA.

Republicans have another gun-proliferation measure in the works because it has been a major goal of the NRA for a long time; it is doubtful that this atrocity will be put on hold. The Republican legislation allows people the NRA has terrified to legally carry concealed weapons in “all jurisdictions” nationwide; even in states where concealed carry is banned. What that means is gun safety measures in states with prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons will be null and void if a person comes from a state that allows concealed carry without restriction. It is another “exception” to the Republican rule that “states’ rights” always supersede federal laws.

Trump was given undue credit for not “politicizing” the “tragedy” in his remarks yesterday and there are two good reasons he couldn’t possibly mention the  gun proliferation threat to Americans’ lives; the NRA would destroy him and he is responsible for putting more guns in the hands of Americans who should never be allowed near a firearm.

In February Trump signed a bill revoking Obama-era gun checks for mental illness. Signing the bill earned high praise from the NRA leading the gun-sales organization to issue a celebratory statement praising Trump as gun owners’ messiah. NRA-ILA executive director, Chris Cox said that Trump signing the “let lunatics have guns” legislation “marks a new era for gun owners, as we now have a president who respects and supports our arms.

The NRA has been terrorizing the public to believe if every man, woman, and child is not armed at all times, their lives are in peril. And it is not enough for every person to have a gun; even convicted felons, terrorists who are banned from flying, and people with mental disorders should be well-armed according to the NRA and Republicans in Congress. Now the terrorist conspirators want all Americans to carry firearms with high-capacity magazines and silencers, and they have to be allowed to carry them in schools, in church, while shopping, and at youth sporting events. Republicans draw the line at allowing 2nd Amendment rights in the Capital and the White House though because they know there are too many guns in the population.

The horror in Las Vegas was a domestic terror attack. Republicans and the NRA may not have fired the shots and terrified over 20,000 peaceful concert goers, but they are responsible for making it easy for the lunatic to gain access to enough battlefield weapons to kill 58 Americans and injure over 500 others. It doesn’t matter what the shooter’s motivation was and it doesn’t matter what his politics or religion were; he used battlefield firearms to commit mass murder.

Sadly, nothing will come from this terror attack except platitudes and offers of prayers from the same Republicans that made the massacre possible. It is tempting to place all the blame on the National Rifle Association because they have contributed more than anyone to the proliferation of guns, perpetuating these annual national day of prayer for victims of gun violence. But the NRA doesn’t get to vote in Congress; they only pay for those votes. That makes them co-conspirators with Republicans who are ultimately responsible for the increase in domestic terror attacks committed with guns.

One would think that because there was a conspiracy to instill terror in the population for the express purpose of selling weapons of war to lunatics committing acts of terror, law enforcement should have an easy task prosecuting this latest attack as what it was; a domestic terror attack aided by the NRA, Republicans in Congress, and the madman in the White House.

Image: Bloomberg

In February Republican Said Running Down Protestors Was Common Sense

 

So, after a neo-Nazi drove into a crowd of Americans protesting against racists and fascists killing one and injuring 19 others, Republicans have come out calling it an act of white supremacist terrorism. Many Republicans even lashed out at the Nazi in the Oval Office because he refused to condemn his base and instead blamed “many sides” for bigotry and hate-driven mayem. That’s awfully generous of the GOP and although it appears everyone should afford them some small measure of deference for condemning the fascist they have moved the proverbial heaven and the real Earth to protect; they cannot possibly be taken seriously.

First, where was the GOP criticism of Trump when he ignored a terror attack on a Minnesota mosque last week, or when a white man drove his car into an English mosque? One can’t help but believe if the young woman who was murdered by one of Trump’s Nazis on Saturday was not white, there may have been no comments at all; especially for using a motor vehicle to “run down protestors.”

This is particularly true among Republican states where legislation was introduced to allow motorists to “run down protestors” with impunity; including legal immunity from any civil action. What happened in Charlottesville on Saturday is certainly down to Donald Trump’s loving embrace of the white supremacist movement, but Republicans bear a major share of the blame for never harshly condemning their party’s attempt to legalize opposing a protest with a motor vehicle.

Of course none of the Republicans who condemned Trump’s refusal to call out his Nazi base (they never condemned his affiliation with Nazis) have openly advocated for allowing their supporters to “run down protestors with cars,” but they also haven’t condemned members of their own party who have “tacitly advocated running down protestors with cars.” It has been a hot topic for discussion among conservatives who detest the idea of free speech, peaceable assembly, or freedom or expression if it is in opposition to conservatives’ agenda.

As Matthew Chapman noted over at Share Blue, during the demonstrations by Native Americans opposing Trump for supporting for the Dakota Access Pipeline, an avowed Republican “tweeted, and then deleted, ‘I wonder how many #NativeNationsRise #NoDAPL protestors I could run over before I got arrested.’” That bit of fascism was courtesy of Daily Caller editor Katie Frates and was not an isolated display of Republican opposition to dissenting voices. And it is particularly noteworthy that all of this fascist targeting constitutionally-guaranteed peaceful protests began directly after Trump’s inauguration and the truly monumental, and peaceable, nationwide women’s protest against the fascist in the White House.

Of course a Trump-supporting Nazi would run down peaceful protestors, it is what Republicans have been attempting to legalize since Trump has been in the White House. Earlier in the year the North Carolina House introduced two separate bills targeting peaceful protestors on two counts. First, one of the GOP bills would declare protestors guilty of a newly-created crime, “economic terrorism” and allow authorities to “seize all real and personal property associated with protest.”  The second bill stripped peaceful protestors of the right to file a civil lawsuit against any driver who drove into them under the guise of protecting the protestors. The second Republican bill was a late March, 2017 response to protests that occurred last fall in Charlotte – before Trump was elected.

Republicans introduced similar bills to North Carolina’s in Tennessee and North Dakota. Both Republican bills “banned peaceful protestors who were ‘run over’ by angry drivers from suing their motorized assailants.” The Tennessee legislation targeted anyone “participating in a protest or demonstration” that a driver believes is “blocking traffic in a public right-of-way.” Republicans called the bill “common sense legislation to protect everyone’s right to peacefully protest.”

The Republican bill in North Dakota, House Bill 1203, was sponsored by state Representative Keith Kempenich who owns a trucking company. Kempenich’s bill was offered specifically to protect drivers who injure or kill protestors on a public road or highway. Kempenich denied his proposal was to prevent protests against the hotly-contested Dakota Access Pipeline, even though he wants it built for the economic benefit it will bring; he just wants to “see it done right” without interference or opposition from protestors.

Although not giving conservatives legal authority to run over protestors, an Indiana bill directed law enforcement to us ‘any means necessary’ to put a stop to protests. The Republican sponsor, State Senator Tim Jones claimed protestors are a “lethal menace” because they are guilty of “preventing first responders from reaching people in time.” As is typically the case with lying Republicans, Mr. Jones was unable to cite even one example of such an incident ever happening.

It’s unclear if the Nazi who rammed a car into peaceful protestors and killed a young woman and injured several others was aware of the GOP’s crusade to decriminalize running down peaceful protestors or not. But whether he did or not at the time of his Nazi rampage, his defense team surely will explain to the jury that he was only acting according to legislation being proposed in several Republican states.

Republicans were right to condemn Trump for not specifically calling out his Nazi supporters’ acts of violence driven by hatred and bigotry, but they cannot possibly feign disgust that one of Trump’s acolytes rammed a car into a crown of innocent protestors; especially after spending months “demonizing and denying the rights of protestors” and making serious attempts to legalize running them down with cars.

Americans’ Independence “Seems to Vanish in the Haze” of Fascism

It is a mystery why Americans make such a gargantuan deal out of the Fourth of July when very few of them understand why the Founders declared their independence from England. It wasn’t to blow off fireworks, wave flags or drink to excess. No, it was to escape a tyrannical monarchy, an overbearing religion, and taxation without representation; exactly what Americans find themselves facing today, 241 years after the Declaration of Independence.

Thomas Jefferson’s immortal document for the young nation was likely the impetus for Abraham Lincoln’s “borrowed statement” that America is “a government of the people, by the people, and for the people; something he said would never perish.

Abraham Lincoln, like Thomas Jefferson, probably never imagined Americans would cede their government, their democracy, and their independence to a tyrannical dictator and his equally tyrannical political party. But that is precisely what occurred last November when the tyrant who lost the people’s vote by a wide margin was installed in the White House by a hostile foreign government, vote suppressing Republicans, and emoprogs still crying for their pie-in-the-sky commie-loving con man (not Trump). Now all Americans are watching their democracy, and their independence “vanish in the haze” of fascism by Republican rule – not governance.

Every action of government is the people’s business. Every penny spent by government is the people’s money. From the courthouse to the statehouse to the White House, government belongs to the governed and not the governing.

Those statements, courtesy of Jim Zachary, are an introduction to an opinion piece explaining why a free press is crucial to democracy. Anyone with a functioning brain comprehends that democracy is part and parcel of independence from tyranny, and it has never been more prescient  a concept to grasp than today.

One of the reasons the Founding Fathers and Constitution’s Framers included freedom of the press in the First Amendment was their knowledge that “independent checks and balances are critical to our independence.” And those “independent checks and balances” are the purview of the Fourth Estate (the press, media etc), not any part of the government.

By now it should be glaringly apparent that the white trash in the White House, and Republicans as a movement, despise democracy as much as they hate Americans’ independence. If that were not the case congressional Republicans would not be pushing widely unpopular policies, religious dictates by government fiat, and terrible Trump would not be attacking the press as surrogates for Americans’ democracy and independence.

As Professor Robert Reich noted yesterday, when Trump put out a video of him knocking out CNN as surrogate for all independent media, he was attacking democracy, and Americans’ independence he intends on destroying. It’s what every tyrannical dictator does as a matter of course and dirty Don is, if nothing else, aspiring to be a tyrannical dictator.

Every student of American history should be aware that Founding Father and Constitution Framer Thomas Jefferson was not always a fan of a free press; no politician is for obvious reasons. However, Jefferson knew it was absolutely crucial to democracy and the people’s independence. In fact, in a 1787 letter to Edward Carrington, the young nation’s third President wrote about the importance of a free press.

And were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.”

Obviously, Donald Trump believes otherwise on more than one account. Trump does not want every American to be able to read, or think critically, or he would not have appointed an education secretary more devoted to using public schools to “advance god’s kingdom” than actually educating the next generation. And instead of at least accepting the Constitution’s guarantee of a free press, Trump has declared it, as a surrogate for democracy and independence “the enemy of the people.” Robert Reich could not have called it more accurately when he said that a fake video of white trash Trump “knocking out CNN” represented him “knocking out democracy,” and Americans’ independence.

Some may ask: how have Trump and Republicans acted to restrict Americans’ constitutionally-guaranteed independence? Of course there are too many examples to cite, but just a few are Republican attacks on Americans’ right to privacy, their right to protest, their right to determine when and how they start a family, right to free and fair elections, their right to freedom from religion, their basic human right to clean water and air, and their right to direct “their” government in how it spends “their” money. Republicans and Trump vehemently oppose each and every one of those rights which is partially why Trump said he does not like the U.S. Constitution any more that he likes that other critical aspect of democracy; an independent judiciary.

As many pundits, sociologists, and historians have noted, America is in jeopardy of becoming a fascist dictatorship and the people without a voice or even a semblance of independence. Republicans in Congress and state legislatures are just as guilty of destroying democracy as Trump is, and likely more so. However, while Republicans are working behind Trump’s distractions, he is putting out “increasingly incendiary messages that constitute an overt assault on freedom of the press; the cornerstone of America’s democracy and the people’s independence.

Hopefully today while Americans are waving flags, over-indulging in alcohol,  overeating and enjoying firework displays, they will take a moment to relish their independence like the dying commodity it really is. Because it, like their democracy, has never been as endangered as it is with Republicans and Trump dismantling their democracy and eliminating their independence.

Happy Independence Day!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Republicans Aren’t Even Trying Justify Their Contempt For Americans

 

Any American would be hard pressed to cite one instance of a Republican, any Republican, doing anything for the common good of the American people since before Reagan started raping and pillaging. The Republican Party’s raison d’être has been taking from the masses to enrich a few hundred extremely wealthy families and the current iteration of the movement is certainly maintaining that agenda in grand fashion. However, there is a major change in the GOP’s modus operandi this time that is at once stunning in its audacity and revealing in its evil contemptible purpose.

When Reagan sold Americans on the need to give the rich more tax cuts, he promised their excess would trickle down to the masses and make every American rich and prosperous. From Reagan’s administration up until this year, Republicans clung to that story like their lives depended on it and far too many Americans fell for it hook, line, and sinker.

When Republicans went austerity crazy in 2011, they claimed it was to save the nation from drowning in debt while clinging to Bush’s unfunded tax cuts for the rich that were driving the deficit. Republicans also claimed that killing millions of jobs in the name of  “austerity” was worth it to save jobs and future generations from being debt-ridden. No matter how atrocious and damaging their policies giving everything to the rich and corporations was to the people, Republicans at least attempted to justify their evil machinations.

In fact, prior to the current Republican healthcare abomination, Republicans claimed for seven years that repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was crucial to help more Americans buy inexpensive health insurance on the private market; they pledged it was the only means of helping more Americans stay healthy. Despite that their reasoning was absurd on its face, at least Republicans attempted to justify their evil machinations.

Today, Republicans are on a tear to take more from the poor and working class with an atrocious healthcare bill and tax cut proposals that even Reagan and George W.  Bush would oppose. But this time one thing is missing; “at least some pretense of working for the common good.” That was what Nobel Laureate in Economics, Paul Krugman, noticed and he is, as usual, spot on in his assessment of Republicans’ naked contempt for Americans.

Republicans in the House and Senate are not promising to make all Americans richer, or health insurance more affordable, or create more jobs with tax cuts for the rich, a draconian healthcare bill, or deregulation efforts across the government. They are just doing it because they can and because no-one can or will stop them. They can finally work their evil in the open to transfer the nation’s wealth to the rich without the necessity of even “attempting to justify their evil machinations.”

Krugman pointed out that there is nothing in the current iteration of a Republican replacement for the ACA that will make healthcare insurance more affordable for anyone. In fact with fewer people buying healthcare insurance, Krugman said what no small number of experts warned; the “health insurance markets will be sent into death spirals because of eliminating the individual mandate and reducing, if not eliminating, subsidies to help the working poor.” By now, only someone in a coma doesn’t know that the attack on Medicaid will wipe out healthcare access to tens-of-millions of Americans, a hefty percentage of whom work at jobs without healthcare benefits. And like Medicare,  Medicaid medical services are administered by and help sustain health insurance industry profits.

Republicans aren’t even pretending that their version of health care will be a deficit slashing endeavor because it barely exceeds the amount of deficit reduction in the Affordable Care Act. And it is noteworthy that the ACA was reducing the deficit without throwing 22 million people off healthcare, imposing lifetime limits on coverage, or allowing insurers to use pre-existing conditions as a means of imposing exorbitant fees or denying coverage to a very substantial number of Americans.

Some might say that Republicans were working in secret to avoid the outrage from Democrats and Americans who are going to be adversely affected by their draconian healthcare bill, but that is a joke. At this juncture, if any American thinks Republicans care one iota what Democrats think or what the majority of Americans expect they are just as stupid as the Republican base. Republican leaders don’t care what anyone thinks because they are comfortable knowing that no-one can stop them or their  attack on the people for the sake of enriching corporations and the uber-wealthy.

Republicans know, like the preponderance of conscious Americans, that everyone and their brother understands that their healthcare replacement is for the sole purpose of funding tax cuts for the rich. They also know that their healthcare bill will eventually hurt every American whether they have healthcare coverage or not; they just don’t care. Look, if Republicans are shrugging off killing hundreds-of-thousands of Americans without healthcare coverage and the certainty that 22-plus million citizens will lose access to healthcare altogether, it is apparent that it isn’t just Donald Trump who is evil; it is the entire Republican Party. If that wasn’t the case Republicans would be lying through their teeth to “justify their evil machinations;” something Republicans know they don’t have to do because no-one can stop them.

As Paul Krugman noted, the number of Americans who are not going to be devastated by the GOP’s healthcare bill “is not a winning political coalition.” Although that may be true, he is underestimating the rank stupidity endemic in the Republicans’ base. Krugman does acknowledge that Republican leaders are comfortable knowing that their “voters are tribal enough and sufficiently walled off from information” that they’ll ignore the attack on their lives and keep opposing Democrats. And even after they lose any access to medical care or face financial ruin from crushing out-of-pocket medical bills or watch their friends and families suffer and die, Republicans are still safe because they will blame it on Democrats and rally the base to another  electoral victory.

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Poll: Majority Say Democrats Care More About The Middle Class

 

Any American who believes there is a Republican alive that cares about anything other than the wealthy elite, corporations, evangelical theocracy or self-advancement is either a blind, dumb fool, or a dyed-in-the-wool Republican. It’s no matter that Donald J. Trump is a dumb, blind fool, he is a Republican and knows the party cares about no-one but themselves and the rich. Although they greedily use the evangelical white crowd as an electoral weapon, deep down Republicans hate them unless they’re filthy rich. Still, Trump and Republicans spent a fair amount of time on the campaign trail last year feigning great concern for the plight of the dwindling middle class. Whether that phony regard helped Trump’s move into the White House or not, now a majority of the population says it is the Democrats, not Republicans, who care more about the middle class.

According to a recent Pew poll, it appears a majority of Americans recognize that Republicans really don’t care about the middle class any more than they care about the poor, minorities or the unhealthy. Most Americans already knew the GOP could not care less about the poor, but if one listens to Republicans at all levels of government, they claim to exist for the benefit of the middle class; a claim most Americans don’t believe for a second. If the media were doing its due diligence instead of covering every Trump Tweet and his all-too-frequent golf outings, it’s certain that more Americans would be aware of the dastardly anti-everyone hostility coming from congressional Republican legislation. But that’s a subject for another column.

The Pew Research poll released Tuesday revealed that only 42 percent of Americans believe that Trump or his Republican Party truly cares about the middle class. However, fifty-seven percent of the population said Democrats care more about the middle class; it may be due to the minimal media reporting that congressional Democrats are battling to stave off the extreme Republican austerity cuts and “reforms” that will affect the middle class in a big way. In fact fifty-four percent of Americans say Republicans are “too extreme,” and curiously, 45 percent said the same about Democrats. Probably because unlike Republicans, Democrats care about the rule of law, equal and civil rights, social programs and the U.S. Constitution; all things Republicans consider “too extreme.”

It is noteworthy that even though most Americans believe Democrats have more empathy for the middle class than extreme Republicans, neither party was viewed very favorably. The Republican Party was viewed “unfavorably” by 54 percent with only 40 percent seeing the GOP as “favorable.” Democrats were perceived slightly more favorably with 44 percent approval, while exactly half of the respondents, 50 percent, viewed Democrats unfavorably. Trump was less favorable than his nasty party, but since the poll was conducted in early June, it is certain his numbers are lower today than two weeks ago.

It really isn’t that surprising a majority of American believe Democrats care more about the middle class than Republicans. Most middle class Americans have watched their incomes decline due to Republican economic policies favoring the very rich, hostility towards unions and decent wages while the very rich continue to make giant income gains. In fact, from 1999 through 2014, the median household income fell by 8 percent;  all while the one-percent reaped monumental income gains that Trump and Republicans want to increase.

Now that Republicans and corporations are running the federal government, the wealthy elite’s gains will surge by who knows how many orders of magnitude; and the poor and middle class? Their income losses during and after the Republican Great Recession will look like massive wealth gains when the Trump Republicans get finished handing over the entire wealth of the nation to their wealthy and corporate donors. Why else would Trump install a billionaire cabal and Wall Street titans to set economic and tax policy?

According to the Pew poll’s results, it’s possible Americans aren’t nearly as stupid as they often seem if a majority sees Republicans as having little, if any, regard for the middle class that make up 51 percent of the population. The tragedy is that the 51 percent number is bound to continue declining because neither Republicans nor Donald Trump care about anyone who isn’t white and rich, and their policy proposals, executive orders, and already enacted legislation reflect that mindset.

If Americans recall, Trump allegedly won a fair number of votes by promising “the forgotten” middle class that he, and only he, could elevate their standard of living by “draining the swamp” of corporate and special interests in Washington. It’s likely that creating a stinking cesspool of corporate billionaires to run the government and set policy did not go unnoticed by a large number of Americans, and a majority of them now know that neither Trump nor Republicans care about the middle class any more than they do the poor. The poll’s results proves that the same majority believe Democrats do understand, and care about, the middle class’ plight. It is just too bad they are impotent to do anything to help them.

 

Republican Calls Christians To Holy War Against Suspect Muslims

 

There can hardly be any American alive who is unaware of the current administration and congressional Republicans deliberate violation of the laws of the land; it is particularly true in Trump’s case. It is doubtless that Trump would suspend the Constitution and govern according to the rules his tyrannical heroes embrace if given the opportunity, and there is no doubt that besides journalists, protesters, and non-compliant Democrats, Trump would round up and imprison every Muslim citizen in America if not for the Constitution. Once imprisoned, there is every indication Trump would have the people he considers enemies summarily executed without being charged, tried or convicted.

As a term and concept, “extrajudicial killing” should be an abomination to any American citizen. This country is governed according to the “rule of law,” and the supreme law of the land is the U.S. Constitution that guarantees every person due process rights; specifically to prevent “extrajudicial” anything. That term, extrajudicial killing is also known as “extrajudicial execution.” It means “the killing of a person by governmental authorities without the sanction of any judicial proceeding or legal process.” Extra judicial executions are every tyrant’s favorite means of keeping a population terrified of even thinking about dissent.

Donald Trump has had effusive praise for the world’s worst tyrants who boast about their use of extrajudicial executions, including celebrating their murderous rampages Trump claims is “doing a great job.” There is little doubt that if he thought he could get away with it, Trump would unleash death squads to commit religious extrajudicial executions against each and every American citizen he “suspected” might sympathize with radical extremists; but only if they are Islamic extremists. Christian extremists are never condemned, much less acknowledged, by Trump or Republicans no matter how many innocent Americans they slaughter.

Now, after the terror attack in London that Trump “implied” was “enabled” by the city’s Muslim mayor, a House Republican called for “a concerted Christian effort of “mass extrajudicial killing of people ‘suspected’ of adhering to radicalized Islam.” Notice that the Louisiana Republican, Clay Higgins, wants extrajudicial executions of people only “suspected” of sympathizing with radical extremists. It is precisely what Trump’s Philippine hero Manuel Duterte and Egypt’s  Abdel Fattah el-Sisi boasted of doing regularly; murdering citizens they “suspect” are involved in behaviors they don’t like.

It has to be noted that what Higgins is calling for is a Christian crusade to exterminate Muslims and if anyone doesn’t believe it keep in mind that on Higgins Facebook rant he addresses “all of Christendom.” He wrote:

The free world… all of Christendom… is at war with Islamic horror. Not one penny of American treasure should be granted to any nation who harbors these heathen animals. Not a single radicalized Islamic suspect should be granted any measure of quarter. Their intended entry to the American homeland should be summarily denied. Every conceivable measure should be engaged to hunt them down. Hunt them, identity them, and kill them. Kill them all. For the sake of all that is good and righteous. Kill them all. -Captain Clay Higgins

How typically Christian extremist of Higgins to claim it is “good and righteous” to hunt down and kill them (Muslims) all; it is also typically Old Testament “mean god” to call for exterminating an entire religion’s adherents; including killing anyone “even suspected” of being “radicalized.” A term Higgins failed to define because mass extrajudicial executions requires no legal basis and is not unlike Adolf Hitler’s “mass extrajudicial executions” of people “suspected” of being Jews or Jewish sympathizes.

This is not Higgins first foray into making untoward public comments about American citizens he “suspects” are bad guys. Higgins, a former sheriff’s officer, said he would “rather die” than sacrifice his hateful principles; now he’s bringing those “principles” to Congress and the national stage.

His boss in the St. Landry Louisiana Parish Sheriff’s Office ordered Higgins to tone down the “demeaning” comments he made publicly about African American men he “suspected” were gang members, but since Higgins just couldn’t do well being asked to “rein in” his vile remarks, he resigned his position. Now he is taking that same mindset to the national stage and upping the ante in calling for Christians to kill other Americans “suspected” of being adherents of Islam. Let’s face it, if Higgins believes he had to issue a call to “all of Christendom” to join a “good and righteous” war with “Islamic horror,” he is making no distinction whatsoever between extremists claiming Islam and those who don’t.

This idea of foregoing the legal system, and the Constitution, to hunt down, target, and execute adherents of Islam is not the first time a Trump acolyte argued that the law or Constitution doesn’t apply in a holy war.

The extremist Christian Trump tapped for a top-level spot in the Department of Homeland Security, David A. Clarke, implored Trump to suspend habeas corpus, round up over one million American Muslims, and send them directly to Guantanamo Bay indefinitely. Suspending habeas corpus is a fancy way of saying “extrajudicial capture and imprisonment” because there are no charges filed, no due process and no legal representation for the citizens “suspected” of being Muslims.

David A. Clarke is a very close ally of Donald Trump and called for a violent revolution if Trump failed to win the election. It is worth noting that unlike Higgins, at least thus far, Clarke called for rounding up and imprisoning any American he considers an enemy. Clarke has regularly referred to any American loyal to the Constitution and advocates for equality and equal protection under the law for all Americans as “rat bastards on the left.” His plan for any non-Trump supporter if he gains authority is yet another “suspension of habeas corpus.” This time so that “any suspect” Americans can be jailed indefinitely. It is not a holy war, but it is an important aspect of what Clarke claims is “his war-at-home program” that requires “bold and aggressive action” such as suspending habeas corpus.

Every American should be terrified beyond belief at the ramping up of calls for imprisoning or killing people “suspected” of being enemies according to an increasing number of Republicans. It would be dangerous enough if it was just one nut-job on the fringe of society, but these nut jobs hold positions of power and the highest power, Trump, has repeatedly said he thinks tyrants committing “extrajudicial” acts are all “doing a great job.”

Some Americans may believe that because they aren’t Muslim sympathizers, or “rat bastards on the left,” or anti-Trump protesters, or journalists that this clear and present danger is no threat to them. No doubt there were German citizens who believed they were immune to Hitler’s extrajudicial acts, at least until they were rounded up and imprisoned or killed. The greatest danger is framing this “extrajudicial” business as a holy war, or Christian crusade against Islam.

History has shown time and again that once religious extremists gain power and authority, religious fervor will infect the population and no citizen will be safe. What is ultimately frightening today in America is that no matter how dangerous the rhetoric against Muslims, or journalists, or anti-Trump protestors, Republican leaders are silent.  It means they either agree with the Trump and his acolytes, or they are terrified they will face some “extrajudicial” action for speaking out; it is likely a little of both.

Republicans Want To Tax 177 Million Americans’ Healthcare

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Trump Signs Bill Killing Program Helping Retirees Avoid Poverty

One of the issues with the seemingly non-stop scandal stories and self-inflicted crises coming out of the White House is that Republicans in Congress can pass legislation under cover of Trump’s increasing number of screw ups. It was hardly reported that while nearly all media attention was focused on Trump’s obstruction of justice this week, he signed a Republican “resolution”  created to kill states’ ability to help workers save for their retirement.

What immediately comes to mind is; why on Earth are Republicans and Trump killing provisions that have no impact on the federal government, and why are they violating their storied support of “states’ rights?” The answer is more complex than simply stating Republicans are against American retirees’ well-being in their sunset years, but it is glaringly obvious the impetus for the nasty action was abolishing an Obama-era  provision that benefitted low-wage working people to enrich the financial services industry.

Republicans used the Congressional Review Act that allows the majority party in power to pass resolutions without risking Democratic opposition or media coverage as it progressed through the Senate. Joint Resolution 66 was signed by Trump late Wednesday evening and abolishes states’ rights to “create programs addressing the coming retirement crisis.

That crisis President Obama attempted to address is due to the growing income inequality that has steadily increased since Reagan due to more working Americans earning low wages according to the will of corporate America. Those low wages have resulted in fewer Americans able to live day-to-day, much less save even a penny for their retirement. That “fewer Americans” amounts nearly half the workforce in the United States. It is a travesty that in the richest nation in the history of the world a stunning 40-million households have “absolutely no retirement savings” and it portends a significant percentage of the population living out their golden years in dire poverty; something Republicans have no problem with and just acted to ensure reaches fruition. Add to that horrid statistic Republicans’ intent to decimate both Social Security and Medicare to sate the greed of the Koch brothers and wealthy elite leads one to defy any conservative asshole to argue that Republicans don’t hate the elderly.

One state’s Democrats took advantage of the Obama-era provision and sought to help California’s low wage workers by developing a “landmark new experiment in nest-egg building” known as “California Secure Choice.” The new retirement program sought to protect employees, primarily over 7.5 million California  low wage employees, who were not offered any retirement savings plans through their employer; nationwide such a program would help nearly half the workforce and prevent about 40 million households from being poverty-stricken during their retirement.

The law that Governor Jerry Brown signed last September was set to go into effect in 2019. At least that was the scheduled date until the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and “mutual funds industryconvinced Republicans that even one state-run retirement system would be unbearable competition the free market-loving Republicans couldn’t allow; even though the California plan was specifically designed to “fill in the gaps where retirement plans were not already offered.”

Since the California plan was not in competition with Wall Street, mutual fund industry, or the banking-financial services industry, one can only concluded that Republicans are Hell-bent and duty-bound to guarantee that as many retirees live in poverty as possible. It is also a sure sign that Republicans and Trump are deep into their crusade to do the bidding of Wall Street and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at the expense of the people’s welfare.

As California’s freshman Democratic Senator, Kamala Harris noted shortly after the GOP connived to use the Congressional Review Act to prevent Democrats from registering the opposition:

At the behest of the financial services industry, Republicans just overturned a rule that helps American workers save for retirement.”

According to Republican Senator Orin Hatch, helping hardworking Americans in their golden years is the purview of Wall Street and the financial services industry that combined have done nothing whatsoever to address the  impending retirement or income inequality crisis. Hatch defended abolishing “states’ rights” to help their workforce saying, “There’s absolutely no justification for any effort to reinvent the retirement savings system in order to give primacy to government-run plans.”

One can read whatever they want in Hatch’s statement, but it’s obvious that besides lying about what California’s safety net for retirees entails, Hatch and Republicans are doing the bidding of Wall Street’s expansive financial services industry. His statement also exposes the Republican intent regarding the Social Security Trust that Republicans in the embrace of Wall Street and the Koch brothers condemn as a failed “government-run plan.” Remember, Republicans ultimately want the Social Security Trust abolished in favor of forcing all Americans into the private sector’s “retirement savings system;” what George W. Bush promoted as privatizing Social Security.

There is no justification for Republicans in Congress or Trump interfering with a state’s right to aid their low-wage workforce except sheer savagery. California’s program did not have any effect on the federal government budget or Wall Street and their financial service industry that supported the Republican Joint Resolution 66; the U.S. Chamber of Commerce supported the Republican effort because it has been a staunch defender of the corporate and big business’ dream of an entire nation of slave-wage workers.

This abomination is also yet another glaring example of Republican hypocrisy. They ardently defend states’ rights when it involves gun proliferation, attacks on voting rights, and religion-based laws encouraging discrimination and attacks on the LGBTQ community and women’s rights. But if a state attempts to create a safety net for retirees at no cost to the federal government and with no impact on Wall Street or their financial services industry, then Republicans eschew their fierce defense of states’ rights. In this case it will guarantee another 40 million seniors living in poverty and it’s a guarantee fully endorsed by congressional Republicans and corrupt Donald Trump.

Conservative Pundits Are Abandoning Trump in Droves

 

Ardent sports fans comprehend that it is a completely natural tendency, and duty, to support their favorite team regardless of their win-loss record, or if a team member makes an embarrassing public misstep. It is no different in the sport of politics. Republicans support their own and it is the same with Democrats. This is particularly true for the team leader; never waver in support for the man or woman at the top.

In the case of Republicans, their standard bearer is a man they have known all along was ill-equipped to ever be in the White House and that is not including Trump’s predilection to criminal behavior, authoritarianism and blatant unrepentant corruption. Republicans certainly were aware of Trump’s corruption because no “renowned” business man declares bankruptcy six times and still maintains a multi-billion dollar business empire; shady deals have been a staple of Trump’s so-called business acumen but the Republican establishment and conservative punditry supported him all the same.

Apparently, to protect the conservative “brand,” the Republican brand, right-wing columnists discarded any sense of decency they may have developed over the years and fully embraced and supported the Trump directly after the election, but now they are finally showing signs that they recognize their folly and are speaking out. It isn’t entirely clear if finding their voices is to distance themselves from Trump to protect their credibility or the conservative brand, but at least they are speaking out.

Three noted conservative columnists have made cases against Trump’s fitness for the White House gig and they have argued points that Democrats and those of us on the left have trumpeted since long before Trump won the Republican nomination, not the election. What is very telling is that Republicans and conservative pundits and writers witnessed the same Trump behavior as Democrats and liberals for well over a year, but they embraced him as a demigod anyway because he carried the home team’s flag.

Erick Erickson is one conservative who heartily embraced Trump post-election, but his tune changed this week after it was revealed that Trump exposed highly-classified intelligence to the Russians. Erickson “reported” that according to a White House insider:

What Trump did  is far worse than what is being reported. The President does not seem to realize or appreciate that his bragging can undermine relationships with our allies and with human intelligence sources. He also does not seem to appreciate that his loose lips can get valuable assets in the field killed.”

Unlike many conservatives, Erickson is not defending Trump’s mammoth blunder because he knows one of the sources intimately and trusts their word explicitly. Erickson was defending the “source’s” need to “leak” the information because he understands it is the only way to stop Trump and protect national security. He said:

If the President, through inexperience and ignorance, is jeopardizing our national security and will not take advice or corrective action, what other means are available to get the President to listen and recognize the error of his ways?”

David Brooks, NYT’s conservative columnist penned an opinion piece titled “When the World Is Led By a Child.” In the conservative’s article he writes:

Trump is an infantalist. There are three tasks that most mature adults have sort of figured out by the time they hit 25. Trump has mastered none of them. Immaturity is becoming the dominant note of his presidency, lack of self-control his leitmotif.”

It is worth the short read to get to the finer points Brooks clearly makes about why Trump is ill-equipped to be president, besides acting like “a 7-year-old boy who is bouncing around the classroom.” Brooks also notes that Trump is “the all-time record-holder of the Dunning-Kruger effect; the phenomenon in which the incompetent person is too incompetent to understand his own incompetence.”

Although Brooks goes through a litany of accurate assessments of Trump’s childish behavior, he seems to be most concerned, and rightly so, that:

The Russian leak story reveals one other thing, the dangerousness of a hollow man. Our institutions depend on people who have enough engraved character traits to fulfill their assigned duties. But there is perpetually less to Trump than it appears. When we analyze a president’s utterances we tend to assume that there is some substantive process behind the words, that it’s part of some strategic intent.”

Obviously, Brooks is stating that Trump has no strategic intent, but he also knows like everyone on the left that Trump never had any “strategic intent.” He has known that obvious fact since Trump entered the race for the presidency, and yet he reined in his criticism to protect the conservative brand that Trump is decimating every day he occupies the White House.

New York Times conservative columnist Ross Douthat proposed using the 25th Amendment as opposed to impeachment to get Trump out of the Oval Office; a place he shouldn’t be allowed to visit, much less occupy. Douthat fairly summed up what kind of mess Republicans are desperate to get away from despite his “exhortations” to them a few days ago about fulfilling their duty to America. He wrote:

If the G.O.P.’s surrender to candidate Trump made exhortations about Republican politicians’ duty to their country seem like so much pointless verbiage, now President Trump has managed to make exhortation seem unavoidable again.”

Douthat  explained that Trump lacks even the basic traits necessary to be president, traits Trump wouldn’t know if they walked up to him, introduced themselves and then smacked that silly orange right off his face. Douthat wrote:

One needs some basic attributes: a reasonable level of intellectual curiosity, a certain seriousness of purpose, a basic level of managerial competence, a decent attention span, a functional moral compass, a measure of restraint and self-control. And if a president is deficient in one or more of them, you can be sure it will be exposed.”

Douthat ends his piece with an open and public appeal to Republican leaders to put an end to the “team’s” and the country’s nightmare before Trump can inflict too much damage on the “brand” and the nation. He wrote:

I respectfully ask Mike Pence and Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell to reconsider their support for a man who never should have had his party’s nomination, never should have been elevated to this office, never should have been endorsed and propped up and defended by people who understood his unfitness all along.” (author bold)

It isn’t often, if ever, that a conservative of any stripe echoes the deep-seated sentiment of Democrats and the left even if they tacitly agree. But in this case, in pleading with Republicans to do the right thing and stop defending a corrupt, incompetent criminal, something liberal columnists have called for since Trump was inaugurated, Douthat is saying exactly what the left started screaming about a year ago. Except at this juncture, and amid the daily revelations that Donald Trump is as corrupt as he is criminal, removing Trump from office because he is unfit to serve is not going to cut it. Trump needs to impeached and sent to prison along with every last one of his subordinates who aided or covered for his disastrous and criminal administration.