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.

The State of the Union is Critical

No matter which side of the political spectrum any American resides, it is nearly impossible to claim America is in anything but a state of decline as a representative secular democracy. The nation’s state of decline is no accident for myriad reasons, but none more apparent than the population allowing a bloodless coup d’état to unfold right before their eyes with hardly a whimper of opposition. At this juncture, the problem is not just a corrupt tyrant occupying the nation’s highest office; it is an entire political party aiding and abetting a crooked celebrity and lawless fascist’s assault on America and the rule of law.

It is not entirely clear to this author, at least not yet, why so many Americans are ignorant about the extent of damage one fascist and his anti-American conservative cabal have already wrought on this nation. It cannot possibly be because more people are still mesmerized by the Trump’s social media activity than care about America’s survival as a democracy, or believe the Oval Office fascist’s claim that the free  press is fake news and the enemy of the people. The majority of Americans still trust the free press as honest and legitimate.

This curious state of the people is particularly mind boggling because most Americans are well-aware that anything Trump says is a dirty filthy lie and that everything congressional Republicans are doing is highly unpopular and deliberately devastating for the people and the nation. That millions of Americans are not rioting in the streets is evidence that if the nation was a person admitted to a hospital, it would be listed in critical condition with little hope of surviving; particularly after the unrelenting mortal wounds Republicans and Trump have, and still are, inflicting on it.

Just the newest reporting that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) assistant director is fleeing out of fear of Republicans and Trump, or that Trump blatantly violated the United States Constitution again  should have the nation reeling and rioting, but it is not.  Maybe Americans are unaware that by not imposing the congressional sanctions on Russia, Trump again violated Article 2 Section 3 of the Constitution. It is at least the second time he has violated that section of the Constitution and yet Republicans continue protecting the criminal conspirator despite he is flouting their legally-passed legislation.

That the Republican-controlled Congress is rejecting its duty of oversight in holding a flagrant criminal to account for violating the Constitution is, in and of itself, a sure sign that the rule of law is non-existent. Add to that horrific collusion with a criminal tyrant, Republicans are, and have been, in a war with the nation’s highest law enforcement agency for doing its due diligence. For dog’s sake, Republicans are part of Trump’s crusade against the legally-appointed Special Prosecutor because he is investigating what most Americans consider treason and obstruction of justice. The latest outrage is Trump considering calling on the nation’s attorney general to prosecute the Special Prosecutor for doing his job; it is likely corrupt Republicans are deeply involved in Trump’s attempt to criminalize the job of Special Prosecutor.

In fact, as proof many Republicans are guilty of violating the law to protect a fascist criminal, consider that Trump approached more than a couple of congressional Republicans to pressure them to obstruct justice by dropping congressional investigations into his administration’s collusion with a hostile foreign power. Pressing members of congressional investigations to stop is obstructing justice and an actual felony. According to 18 U.S. Code § 4 – Misprision of Felony:

Whoever, having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”

It is noteworthy that no Republican made known to anyone in authority that Trump pressed them to drop an investigation into his administration any more than any Republican reported their suspicions that Trump “was being paid by Putin.”  If not for the “free press” Trump wants eliminated, Americans would be unaware that their elected Republican representatives willfully violated the law to protect a criminal because he is a Republican.

Of course there are more Trump abominations against the people of the United States than just flouting the rule of law and violating the “so help me god” oath he took to live in the White House. And regardless he is handing over the American people’s public land to corporations, many of them foreign, or creating the ultimate dark money PACsby giving churches freedom to campaign, or handing over social control of the population to evangelicals, his biggest crime is complete and utter disregard for the law of the land.

America might survive Trump and Republicans handing over the wealth of the nation to a few wealthy families and corporations; the people will surely suffer, the but nation will still exist. The agriculture industry might even stay afloat despite Trump’s ineptitude in international trade and his xenophobic excuse of an immigration policy. Women may not fare as well as equal citizens in the evangelical theocracy Trump and Republicans are creating, but they will likely be allowed to stay alive as birth machines. In fact, there will likely be an America despite Trump and Republicans, but it will be “America” in name only unless Trump decides to change the name.

It is easy to assign blame for America’s demise on Trump; he is the most visible villain and chief criminal. But without Republicans in Congress protecting the criminal he would likely be gone by now. The sad truth is that a fair majority of the American people are wholly responsible for America’s critical condition.

Remember, Putin may have helped Trump and congressional Republicans, in fact he did help Trump and congressional Republicans; but it was angry religious and racist Americans who voted for Trump and gave the criminal Republicans control of Congress. Now they are dismantling the government, creating a theocracy, and spending an inordinate amount of time and taxpayer dollars protecting a criminal in the White House;  including attacking the nation’s highest law enforcement agencies.

With a Republican-run Congress willfully violating the rule of law by not holding a treasonous fascist accountable for his crimes, and a fascist liar who openly denies the rule of law applies to him, the state of the Union is critical. America only survived for 242 years because it was effectively governed according to the rule of law in the U.S. Constitution; something Republicans and Trump now openly reject as a burden to their corruption and fascism.

Republican Bill Bans Non-Church Marriages

As if the nation is not in enough trouble, there is another sign that with Republicans in control of all three branches of government, the rush toward America as a theocracy is ramping up. At the rate Republicans and Trump are pandering to the evangelical fanatics, America is not far off from being run like Iran and Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

Whether the religious right admits it or not, the majority hew to a mindset that only Christians are real Americans worthy of certain privileges and rights. It is likely true that mindset is substantiated by Republicans who work tirelessly to elevate evangelicals to a position of authority over the rest of the population with ever-increasing incidences of theocratic legislation.

The GOP has, in fact, given the religious right purview over women’s access to healthcare as well as the legal right to discriminate against any American unwilling to toe the evangelical line. There have even been murmurings that only evangelicals should be allowed to vote and that only Christians should run for and hold political office. Evangelicals still claim that America was created as a Christian theocracy and the Constitution was written by the god of the Christian bible. Now an emboldened religious Republican has introduced legislation that says only evangelicals can enter into the institution of marriage performed in a church.

Despite the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges nearly three years ago, religious Republicans are still crusading to deny same-sex couples the legal right to be married. In a new attack on same-sex marriage, a really religious  Republican in the Missouri state legislature, some theocrat named T.J. Berry,  introduced House Bill 1424to restrict marriage in the “show me state” to “people of faith.” It is noteworthy to mention that Berry is as real a religious Republican as any evangelical fanatic and an ordained deacon of the First Baptist Church In Kearney, Missouri.

Berry’s theocratic legislation defines marriage as being a “solemnized union that takes place only inside a church.”  Note that it doesn’t say inside a mosque, a synagogue, or a temple by design; Muslims, Buddhists or Jews do not worship or get “married” in a “church.” If Berry’s bill becomes law, any marriages that “were to take place outside of the church” will not be legal or recognized as legal marriages by the theocrats running Missouri; they will be domestic unions regardless the couple’s gender.

The First Baptist deacon Berry proudly admits that his bill’s purpose is redefining marriage in favor of “the church.” He said the only way a person in Missouri can be legally married under his legislation is “to go through a religious ceremony in a church.” Any couple refusing to take that route can get a civil document from the government, but they will not be legally married in Missouri.

The Legal Director at the Human Rights Campaign, Sarah Warbelow, explained the obvious that the law will hurt LGBTQ married couples in Missouri. She also said that restricting “marriage” to “church weddings calls into question all couples’ rights;” particularly those who were not married in a church in a “solemnized union.” Ms.Warbelow said:

It’s hard to believe [this legislation is] something most conservatives support. Most Americans think that marriage is an important institution, and they don’t want to get rid of it.

Most Americans are not running the government any longer so it doesn’t matter what they want or don’t want. Evangelicals are running the government despite their minority position, and along with their money machine the Koch brothers, they fully control the fate of the nation by wielding authority over Republicans.

It is noteworthy that this particularly nasty evangelical legislation is not about  “getting rid of marriage as an institution;” evangelicals love solemnized man-woman church marriages. Berry’s bill simply restricts participation in the “important institution of marriage” to the evangelical faithful, but only if they are wed in a church. It is the only way Republican evangelicals claim they can protect churches and businesses from “the gay encroachment” and protect religious bigots refusing to do their taxpayer-funded jobs. That was another urgent reason for the theocratic law.

The bill’s supporters claim the new law will be “the remedy to controversies across the country involving government employees who object and refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples for religious reasons.”

No, the remedy for government employees who object to following the law of the land, and willfully violate the 14th Amendment, is immediate termination of their taxpayer-funded employment. And if it were possible, they should face charges for violating terms of employment as government employees for refusing to support the Constitution. Nearly all government and public employees from presidents to senators to law enforcement to school teachers swear an oath to support the U.S. Constitution; and that includes the 14th Amendment that evangelical Republicans claim violates their religious liberty.

Critics of the legislation concur with the HRC’s legal director in warning that it would cause LGBT couples, as well as all other non-religious couples, a great deal of trouble. It is almost certain that “causing all non-religious couples a great deal of trouble” is an important aspect of this particular theocratic abomination.

Like many Americans, the executive director of a Missouri advocacy group, the Center Project, is “irritated and frustrated” over the religious Republicans’ never-ending assault on equality and the concept of progress. Dion Wisniewski said:

No matter how much progress we make, there is always going to be a push from conservative [evangelical] groups to roll back protections for individuals or enact new laws to make it more difficult to live normal lives. Conservative groups are putting pressure on the legislature to protect the ‘biblical definition’ of marriage, even though they aren’t being forced to perform these services.

The evangelical fanatics supporting this particular theocratic edict never elaborated on exactly what “gay encroachment” entails, but it likely has everything to do with gays having equal rights. It is not out of the realm of possibility that when evangelical theocracy is officially the law of the land, the LGBTQ community will be banned from America, much less “evangelical churches and businesses.”

Although it should be unbelievable in a 21st Century secular nation, it was not surprising to learn that a Republican state is working to ban non-Christians from being married.  It is unclear if the legislation will pass and become a state law, or progress to become a national crusade. But it is abundantly clear that with a puppet in the White House and most federal agencies in the grip of theocrats, evangelicals are on a crusade to do much more than ban non-Christians from being legally married. Tragically, very few Americans will notice the theocratic tyranny until they become targets of the religious right, and as centuries of “church” history informs, sooner rather than later every American will be a target of the fanatical religious right.

Trump Is Helping the Kochs Kill America’s Solar Industry and Jobs

It was, or rather it should have been, no surprise that Donald Trump lied when he announced a tariff on solar panels early this week, especially his claim the move was an integral part of a new aggressive trade policy. The move had little to do with trade policy and everything to do with Trump and Republicans’ love affair with, and indebtedness to, the Koch brothers’ fossil fuel industry and the Republicans’ decades-long assault on renewable energy.

Although Trump is the culprit in putting a tariff on solar panels, Republicans in Congress have maintained a relatively steady assault on renewable energy since another dirty Republican, Ronald Reagan, declared war on clean power sources. That Republican war on solar power was gaining steam at about the same time China realized that the future of energy independence and a highly profitable and job-creating industry was in solar power. While Republicans were blocking progress on solar power, one forward-looking advanced nation  took the number one solar energy spot away from the world power that invented and developed solar panels while it was embracing more costly and dirty fossil fuels. Over two decades later, nothing has changed except an escalation in the Koch-Republican war on clean renewable energy.

First, Trump said imposing steep tariffs on solar panels was solely to “helps to create jobs in America for Americans.” That was a bald-faced lie and only a moron would believe otherwise.  The only result of Trump’s action will be crippling the solar industry by raising the cost of solar panels “in the years ahead and drastically slow adoption of the renewable energy technology and kill thousands of jobs.”

Experts in the solar energy field report that in America; “solar manufacturing now represents just a tiny fraction of the overall jobs that have developed around the solar industry.” The numbers don’t lie, and although way more than  a quarter of a million Americans are working in the solar energy sector, far fewer than 2,000 of those employed in the United States are working manufacturing solar cells and modules.

The great majority of those solar jobs, about 258,000 of them, are highly-skilled and manual labor installation and maintenance projects that the Solar Energy Industries Association say require expertise, are labor intensive and impossible to automate; unlike the manufacturing process. It is also noteworthy to mention that the two companies reportedly lobbying Trump for the high tariffs are subsidiaries of foreign companies. The two companies, Suniva and SolarWorld said they needed high tariffs on primarily Malaysian and South Korean competitors to help preserve the less than 2,000 solar panel manufacturing jobs in the United States. Trump has no interest in preserving the quarter of a million solar jobs affected by the higher cost panels, because the tariffs were not to preserve or create jobs; they are an escalation of the Koch-ALEC-Heritage Foundation war on renewable energy.

For some time now Republicans, with valuable aid from the Koch brothers’ American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Heritage Foundation, have been waging state-level wars against what is known as “renewable portfolio standard” (RPS). Those RPS have helped create tens-of-thousands of new renewable energy jobs, fill state coffers, and grow state economies as well as combat anthropogenic climate change. In states that attempted to expand RPS and create more jobs and bring in more revenue, Republicans have blocked the moves to earn hearty congratulations from ALEC and Heritage.

It is noteworthy that Trump, Republicans in Congress and state legislatures are attempting to do exactly what the Koch brothers tasked ALEC and Heritage Action to do; end renewable energy’s expansion by any means possible. Trump imposing tariffs on solar panels is part of the Koch war on clean and renewable energy, the environment, jobs, and economic growth to further enrich the fossil fuel industry. In fact, the Heritage Foundation has been touting victory for the fossil fuel industry and celebrating  “the death of the renewable energy movement” for a few years. In fact, Heritage recently praised the “colossal coal comeback” even as renewable energy, particularly solar power is a raging success in providing cleaner, cheaper, and ridiculously abundant energy from the Sun.

The war on renewable energy began when President Jimmy Carter installed solar panels on the White House roof in the midst of an oil shortage; Ronald Reagan removed the solar panels as a nod to big oil that renewable and inexpensive energy would not be allowed to impact fossil fuel profits. Republicans have never supported renewable energy because Koch brothers and their ilk cannot claim ownership of, or profit from, the Sun. If the Kochs could charge Americans to use the Sun, then every building in America would be fitted with solar panels and they would be furnished by the Koch brothers.

When Jimmy Carter unveiled the White House solar panels to the press, he said:

No one can ever embargo the sun or interrupt its delivery to us. A generation from now, this solar can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people; harnessing the power of the Sun to enrich our lives as we move away from our crippling dependence on foreign oil.”

It is likely that President Carter never imagined in his wildest dreams that American politicians would deliberately block access to the Sun’s energy. Nevertheless, that is what Trump’s imposition of tariffs on solar panels was meant to do precisely like the Koch brothers’ attacks on voter-approved renewable energy standards. For their part, Republicans in Congress have religiously blocked national renewable energy standards while doling out a healthy $21.5 billion in taxpayer-funded  subsidies (corporate welfare) to fossil fuel every year.

It is a sad commentary that in a crusade to serve the interests of one specific industry, a technologically advanced nation like America is reverting to inefficient, costly, and dirty power sources. Of course it is tempting to blame Trump, but like nearly everything disastrous that happened over the past year, he is just a typical Republican doing the bidding of the Koch brothers and the Heritage Foundation.

Bishops Advise Republicans and Parents to Reject Trans Children

There is relatively solid proof now that all of the Republican negative ranting and raving about transgender people is driven by the historical bane of human decency, freedom and equality – religion.

First, when this column cites a religion as “fanatical, radical, or extremist,” particularly Christian denominations, it is not using a “broad stroke to portray” all Christians as fanatical, radical, extremist or bad. The same is true regarding criticism of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) or the Vatican or the Pope or any of that ridiculously rich syndicate’s bizarre dogmata; it is never about “all Catholics.

There are myriad reasons to attack many members of the clergy and none deserve more than the USCCB; if for no other reason than they implanted the “religious liberty” idea in the evangelical Republican lexicon. That American group of Catholic bishops are guilty of a world of offenses against women particularly, but also against members of the LGBTQ community.

At issue is an “open letter” issued by the USCCB, with many other religious leaders as signatories, “rejecting the legitimacy of transgender identity.” The theme of the letter on families is that parents have to “reject their transgender children” because god, bible, and social conservative (church) norms.

The open letter, “Created Male and Female” asserts that “transgender” is a “false idea that goes against reason;” and it is a “deeply troubling notion that a man can be or become a woman or vice versa.”  It was once a false idea and deeply troubling to “the Church” that the Earth orbited the Sun, but the Church still exists although it imprisoned and killed a few heretics for spreading a false and deeply troubling idea — heliocentrism.

The bishops failed to provide a link to any empirical data as to why transgender identity is a false idea or deeply troubling; just that a parent’s job is rejecting their child if they identify as transgender. The bishops attempted to validate their position by claiming ”transgender children are ‘harmed’ when they are affirmed in their identities,” but no-one with a pulse believes these former priests have any regard for children being “harmed.

One particularly offensive section of the letter states:

“Children especially are harmed when they are told that they can “change” their sex. Parents deserve better guidance on these important decisions, and we urge our medical institutions to honor the basic medical principle of “first, do no harm.” Gender ideology harms individuals and societies by sowing confusion and self-doubt. The state itself has a compelling interest, therefore, in maintaining policies that uphold the scientific fact of human biology and supporting the social institutions and norms that surround it.

There is so much inherently wrong, and revealing, in that section of the letter that it boggles the mind until one remembers who issued the ‘open letter’ in the first place and who the signatories are; a bunch of religious fanatics controlling the Republican social agenda. Republicans have hewed closely, and dutifully followed, the real meaning of the USCCB’s theocratic dictate:

The state has a compelling interest to maintain [church] policies and support the social [church] institutions and [church] norms that surround it.

Now, this holy edict that children especially are “harmed” if their transgender identity is affirmed is pure bovine excrement. According to several studies’ results, “the way parents respond to their child’s gender identity can have drastic consequences for their mental health.”

Parents that heed the USCCB’s advice and “reject their children for being transgender significantly increases depression and suicidal thinking.”  Conversely, one of the single most effective  “buffers against those negative consequences” is affirming the child’s identity, “allowing them to be as happy and healthy as their peers.”  What these bishops are advising is exactly what “sows self-doubt and confusion and can be remarkably damaging;” including causing depression and suicide.

The bishops also used a favorite religious right claim that the faithful who condemn transgenders are the “true victims.” They claim:

The movement to respect transgender people is ‘deeply troubling’ and compels people to either go against ‘reason’ or face ridicule, marginalization and other forms of retaliation.”

If the bishops contend that calling a dirty bigot a dirty bigot is “deeply troubling,” then they are no different than the dirty bigots in Trump’s Alt-right Nazi movement.  What the bishops never mention is the hate, “retaliation,” and discrimination that transgender people suffer in “employment, housing, health care, education, the justice system, and public accommodations.

Something that should raise red flags, even for people unsure about what “transgender” means, is this bizarre concept that a bunch of old white guys decked out in Goth-gear and claiming to be celibate get an opinion on parenting when they have never “had” children. Oh it is true that a terrifying number of those “holy men” have “had” plenty of children, but not in the sense that normal, decent or real “god-fearing” human beings ‘have’ children.  These are the same control-freaks who claim to have profound and godly expertise in women’s reproductive science as well as OB/GYN bona fides that Republicans use to control women’s reproductive rights.

What is particularly dangerous about this USCCB “open letter” is that Republicans will seize on it as overwhelming proof that restricting transgender people’s equal rights is justified. Remember, both houses of Congress summoned the same male religious leaders to give expert testimony to restrict women’s access to contraceptives. To think they won’t reference this letter as justification for denying transgenders’ rights is the height of naïveté; the letter tells Republicans that “the state has a compelling interest to maintain church policies and support church institutions and church norms that surround it.” The only group Republicans are more obedient to than the Koch brothers is the religious right and all it entails – particularly the USCCB.

It is one thing for the bishops, priests, reverends and ministers who signed on to the USCCB letter to control Republicans and their radical evangelical supporters; stupid people are easily manipulated. But they have no right to insert their perverted opinions on child-rearing into any family; especially when there is legitimate research demonstrating that the quickest way to harm transgender children, or adults for that matter, is to follow the bishops’ teachings.

It is noteworthy that there are a significant number of religious leaders, including Catholics and Baptists, who are strong advocates on behalf of transgender people; they at least act like “real Christians” and real “followers of Christ.” They are also not enamored with the USCCB for using religious dogma to put children at risk of depression and suicide; something the bishops apparently don’t regard as important. In fact, according to one of the signatories representing the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission;  “trans people are responsible for their own suffering for rejecting God.” As Zack Ford over at ThinkProgress noted, it is a sentiment the USCCB letter strongly implies.

This “parenting” letter from a bunch of old “celibate” white guys is further proof that the force behind most GOP attacks on Americans’ equal rights is driven by religion. That might be acceptable in theocratic regimes such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, but it is an atrocity in America. Not because they are attempting to control the people, that is what religion does. The real atrocity is that Republicans are dutifully following their edicts to the letter.

If that is unbelievable, think back to the GOP’s claims during North Carolina’s “trans toilet” controversy and then note the USCCB’s letter demanding enactment of “policies that uphold the truth of a person’s sexual identity as male or female, and the privacy and safety of all.”

It is true these bishops are hateful religious leaders to even suggest that parents should reject trans kids, but they represent a controlling religious syndicate that would not exist without using hate to control their sycophants – like the Republican movement. That they would endanger children by fundamentally saying they are “deeply troubling and false” as if they don’t exist is par for the course and something Republicans will repeat ad nauseam.

Image: Patheos