Trump’s EPA destroys his justification for slashing California fuel economy standards

It seems like it would be a Herculean task to convince the American people that it is in their best interests to spend more of their hard-earned wages on fuel to go to work, school, the doctor, and the local grocer. Obviously, no sane American thinks it is a good idea to purposely spend more on fuel than is necessary, but that kind of thinking is not going to create more wealth for the fossil fuel industry; higher fuel efficiency is anathema to big oil.

So Trump, in a continuing effort to sate the greed of big oil, is now proposing all manner of bovine excrement reasons to put a stop to higher fuel-economy standards for motor vehicles; and he claims he has scientific and expert proof to justify his crusade.

In an effort to stop Obama-era fuel economy standards, Trump has come up with some seriously bizarre arguments for why Americans will welcome paying more to drive. It was almost incomprehensible that the meathead administration claimed that lower gas mileage was Trump’s way of protecting the lives of Americans. The assertion was a typically unbelievable Trump contention in technologically advanced  21stCentury America: If fuel economy is poor, then the people could not afford to drive and would just stay home and off the roads. The administration’s reasoning was that being economically forced to spend less time on the road would reduce Americans’ chances of getting in a car accident. The claim might have made sense if America was the size of Vermont and had a robust mass transit system, but mass transit, like environmental protections, is as terrifying to the oil industry as higher-fuel economy vehicles.

The administration also claimed it had Americans’ well-being in mind in promoting the safety advantages of driving heavier cars as another justification for Trump’s campaign to slash fuel efficiency standards by about 25 percent.

Trump’s plan to aid big oil was alleged to be supported by data based on computer modeling the Department of Transportation and EPA said  justified slashing fuel economy standards. However, it was just revealed that back in June “senior officials at the Environmental Protection Agency privately warned [the data] is flawed and unsupportable.” After a month of peddling fake news with fake data about why Americans will have to buy more gas and drive heavier, less fuel-efficient vehicles; the “private warning” became public courtesy of “newly released agency documents.”

Despite senior officials’ warnings, the special interests running Trump’s EPA made clear when it first unveiled the proposal that Trump is resolved to freeze mileage targets for six years. That intention is precisely “the alternative the senior EPA officials found the  least supportable.” Indeed, even automobile manufacturers were concerned that Trump is overreaching and creating uncertainty and distress in the industry. Car makers may not like working to achieve higher fuel efficiency, but they damn sure know the consumers want and will continue buying higher-mileage vehicles.

It is no joke. Trump’s EPA is promoting an archaic idea to frighten Americans to convince them that California’s fuel efficiency targets have to be drastically weakened to prevent more Americans from dying. It is noteworthy that 17 other states have joined a California-led coalition suing to block Trump’s gift to big oil because it includes revoking “the authority California and other states were granted under the Clean Air Act to pursue clean air targets” – something that actually protects citizens’ health. Now California and its cohort states have Trump’s EPA warnings to justify their battle to provide their residents something every American alive likely believes is not insane – higher fuel efficiency automobiles and cleaner air due to less carbon emissions.

As a smattering of outlets, primarily those concerned with the environment, have noted, the revelations from EPA officials will be “a potent weapon in the legal arsenal of California and the states allied with it suing the Trump administration.” As noted in the L.A. Times, Trump proceeded with an insane plan after his EPA officials “raised multiple red flags in June about Trump’s assertion that higher fuel efficiency targets will result in a surge of traffic deaths.”

A month after those “official warnings,” Trump released a plan that is “grounded in several assumptions experts cautioned were indefensible,” and in fact “would be detrimental to safety, rather than beneficial.” The proposal would force Americans to buy more gasoline, and suffer the adverse health effects of higher carbon emissions that are the result of burning more gasoline. (author bold)

The director of the Safe Climate Campaign and affiliate with the Center for Auto Safety, Dan Becker, addressed Trump’s intent to sell more gasoline by contradicting his assertion that higher fuel economy standards contribute to higher traffic fatalities. Mr. Becker said:

Fatalities have declined while fuel economy standards have become more stringent since they first took effect in the 1970’s. The reason is better technology and design, not the changing weight of vehicles.”

Senator Thomas R. Carper (D-DE) is the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and he stated the obvious:

“As if it isn’t bad enough that the Trump administration’s proposal deals a major blow to American consumers, automakers and equipment manufacturers, and the environment, today we obtained even more evidence that it’s based on bogus science and fundamentally flawed assumptions.

The administration’s own EPA itemized its technical concerns about the plan’s baseless claims, but the White House seems to have willfully ignored much of it and chose instead to release a deeply flawed proposed rule that almost certainly will be struck down in court. The facts might be inconvenient for the Trump administration, but this White House cannot simply dismiss the clear science, especially against the advice of its own experts.”

Mr. Becker is right, of course, except the part about the White House not dismissing “the clear science” or “the advice of its own experts.” Trump doesn’t accept scientific evidence about anything, and as far as following, or even considering, the advice of his own experts, remember that he was advised against withdrawing from the Trans Pacific Partnership, the Paris Climate Accord, and the Iran Nuclear agreement, as well as imposing tariffs on America’s allies.

Although the recently revealed “warnings” from Trump’s own EPA dealt primarily with the insanity of imposing rules to sell more gasoline, the devastating impact on the environment of burning more fossil fuels cannot be ignored or understated. States like California and its partners pursuing higher mileage standards are not on a crusade to hurt big oil or create problems for the auto industry; they are attempting to protect their residents from the dire health effects of purposely increasing carbon emissions.

Of course Trump could not possibly care less about the health of Californians or any American alive now or the foreseeable future. It is worth mentioning again that even before his drive to force Americans to buy more gas due to reduced fuel efficiency, his EPA actions thus far will, “under the most conservative estimate, cost the lives of over 80 000 US residents per decade and lead to respiratory problems for many more than 1 million people.”

The only good news out of this story is that although legal experts claimed the Trump crusade would be difficult to defend in court, it will be even more of a task to defend an action his own experts claim is “unsupportable, indefensible, and detrimental to safety, rather than beneficial.” The bad news is that Trump is as opposed to experts as he is determined to decimate the environment no matter how many Americans he kills in the process – a fact that became evident to many Americans shortly after his poorly attended inauguration.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image: Patheos

Trump theocrats claim abuses against women and LGBT people are Christian values

If Americans are the least bit doubtful that the Trump theocrats are on a White House-sanctioned global crusade to spread their savage version of Christianity, a recent announcement at the State Department should disabuse their reservations.

It is not a revelation that evangelical extremists yearn for an executive order from Trump asserting that punishing women for making their own reproductive choice is exercising “religious freedom,” and legal. It is also common knowledge among cognizant Americans that part and parcel of the religious right’s definition of “religious freedom” is brutalizing the LGBTQ community according to their “Christian values.” Now it is an official policy of the Trump administration intent on imposing the evangelical extremists’ style of “religious freedom” around the world; and any opposition to that imposition of “religious freedom” is officially “religious persecution.”

In yet another move legitimizing the evangelical rights’ bigotry and hatred, the Trump administration sent a clear signal that “Christian America” will no longer denounce countries that punish LGBT citizens or women for making their own reproductive health choices. In fact, going forward, nations that embrace religious-driven hatred leading to imprisonment and/or death of LGBTQ people, and abuse targeting women, will be rewarded by Christian America; because Christian-inspired hatred and bigotry exemplify “Christian values” according to Trump’s theocrats.

During an atrocity in a secular nation in Washington D.C., the “Christian Values” proclamation came during the State Department’s Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. The Trump theocrat honored to tell the world that Christian bigotry and hatred epitomize America’s Christian values was the director of Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney.

Mulvaney’s announcement entailed attacking the Obama Administration for threatening to withhold foreign aid to countries that punish women and members of the LGBTQ community. The evangelical right’s war on women and gays is now a global crusade sponsored by the Trump theocrats’ pushing a brutal version of religious freedom according to evangelical extremists.

Mulvaney said the theocrats in Trump’s administration will no longer encourage countries to abandon their draconian and deadly anti-LGBT and anti-women’s choice laws. Instead, Mulvaney “defended criminalizing and punishing homosexuality” as an American “religious freedom” issue, and that abusing and discriminating against women and gays embodies “Christian values.” According to Mulvaney and evangelical zealots, it is a disgrace that President Obama dared represent America as promoting women’s and LGBTQ rights.

As part of his remarks to the “State Department’s Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom,” Mulvaney said:

Our US taxpayer dollars are used to discourage Christian values in other countries. It was stunning to me that my government under a previous administration would say, ‘We know that you have a law against abortion, but if you enforce that law, you’re not going to get any of our money. We know you have a law against homosexuality, but if you enforce that law, we’re not going to give you any money.’

That is a type of religious persecution that I never expected to see.

I never expected to see that as an American Christian, that we would be doing that to other folks.

I am here to let you know there a lot of people in this government who want to see things done differently. They want to do something.”

What that means is that in the Trump theocracy denying women access to reproductive health care and criminalizing homosexuality indicates “Christian values;” while opposing discrimination against women and homophobia is “religious persecution.

As Zack Ford at ThinkProgress noted,  “Mulvaney’s implication that the Trump administration would turn a blind eye to anti-gay persecution around the world is consistent with actions it has already taken.”

As part of the “religious freedom” crusade promoting “Christian Values” globally, Trump already rejected a United Nations resolution condemning the use of the death penalty to target LGBTQ people. The Trump theocrats gave some lame excuse about not opposing the “proper” use of the death penalty, but it is noteworthy that Trump has mentioned that according to the head of domestic policy, Mike “preacher” Pence, “proper use” of the death penalty would be hanging all gays based on the Christian bible’s Old Testament rules.

It is also noteworthy that another Trump theocrat, Attorney General J. Beauregard Sessions proclaimed earlier this summer that America has ceased granting asylum to people who are victims of violence and abuse, and that America would be adding many new barriers to the asylum process. That includes new policies targeting LGBTQ people fleeing persecution to make it impossible for them to escape the brutal “Christian values” cult Trump’s theocrats are defending as part of their global “religious freedom” crusade.

It should be painfully obvious now that in America under Trump’s theocracy, “Christian Values” include criminalizing anything the evangelical extremist cult deems “ungodly.” And it is significant that the religious right supporting Trump’s theocrats are self-appointed authorities on what is “ungodly,” such as women’s reproductive rights and homosexuality. Further, anything resembling opposition to or non-compliance with those “Christian Values” is “religious persecution.” It is something that has been happening in America for a decade, at least, but it was never an official policy position until now.

Most Americans keeping abreast of the GOP’s crusade towards theocracy were already aware of what evangelical zealots considered “religious persecution,” but it has never been proclaimed publicly at the State Department by a high-ranking government official . However, it is now official and Americans should shudder at the revelation. It is a damn frightening prospect that anyone opposing the evangelicals’ brutal Christian values faces being accused of “religious persecution;” especially in an evangelical theocracy in the midst of an honest-to-dog religious crusade.

It is true that all Americans claiming Christianity do not embrace “Christian values” focusing on punishing homosexuality and criminalizing a woman’s right to self determination regarding her reproductive choices, but those “Christians” are not running the government. They are also not screaming in the streets that Trump and his theocrats do not represent Christian values. And why should they?

After all, they embrace the same Christian bible that the vicious evangelical extremist sect asserts gives them religious freedom to abuse women and gays – what they claim expresses their “Christian values.” And anyone opposing the imposition of “Christian values” is committing religious persecution. It is not a new policy by any means, but it is now the official position of America under Trump’s  theocracy and it began in earnest the day of Trump’s poorly attended inauguration.

Image: Patheos

DeVos gives for-profit schools a gift while punishing defrauded students

t is getting more difficult by the day to keep pace with the barrage of nasty policy “reforms” and attacks on domestic programs because of the never-ending distractions centering on the criminal in the White House. No doubt a few Americans overlooked another abominable action from Trump’s evangelical extremist running the Education Department that fairly epitomizes why Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary is an epic disaster. It also shines a glaring light on Trump’s greatest lie that his primary reason for running for office was to “drain the swamp” in Washington when in fact he began transforming the so-called “swamp” into a rotting special interest cesspool the day of his poorly attended inauguration.

Despite the best efforts of a real President, Barack Obama, to aid students defrauded by unscrupulous for-profit schools, Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos devised “new rules” to protect the for-profit private education industry that DeVos represents; the plight of the defrauded students was never a consideration despite they were fundamentally scammed out of a reported $13 billion.

The corporate-friendly plan eliminates regulations requiring for-profit colleges to prove that they provide a quality education that allows enrolled students to secure gainful employment. The plan is being criticized as “the most drastic in a series of moves that DeVos has made to free the for-profit sector from safeguards.”

The Obama-era regulations would have cut off federally guaranteed student loans to colleges if their graduates did not earn enough money to pay those loans off. The rule sent many for-profit colleges and universities into an economic tailspin because so many of their alumni were failing to find decent jobs due to fraudulent claims and inadequate education.

The DeVos-Trump private-school protection plan was hailed as a long-needed reform to “correct Obama-era” rules created to protect consumers. It is noteworthy that DeVos blocked the “Obama-era borrower rule”  from ever being implemented to protect her personal special interest – the for-profit private school industry. The action obviously garnered rave reviews from the for-profit education industry because it provides them with a field-tested means of defrauding students with veritable impunity.

Education activists, however, sharply criticized the action because it leaves defrauded students with $13 billion indebtedness with  little-to-no recourse or relief. At best, education advocates and defrauded students learned that in Trump’s America past corporate corruption and fraud is richly rewarded, and future corruption will be nearly impossible to prosecute – at least that is the case for industry that DeVos exists to enrich. It is worth noting that a government ethics report listed DeVos as invested in a “student debt collection agency” that does business with the Department of Education, but DeVos is only looking after the interests of the cheated students to hear her tell it.

DeVos said the proposal will assist for-profit private schools avoid trouble – by describing how best to avoid being caught or held accountable for cheating. She also lied and claimed the “new rules” actually protect any student who was economically devastated by deliberate deception. According to DeVos, her plan is really focused on protecting the significantly indebted students, but only if “they can prove the [private for-profit] schools deliberately misled them.” If DeVos’ past actions are any indication, students will have to  prove they were defrauded by a for-profit private school to a committee made up of for-profit private school officials.

Education Department documents that were alleged to support DeVos’ plan claimed that although students “really should be protected” from fraudulent private schools, it is really their fault they picked the wrong schools. The Department said:

Postsecondary students are adults who can be reasonably expected to make informed decisions;  if they have access to relevant and reliable data about program outcomes.”

That giant pile of bovine excrement statement fails to mention that one of the primary purposes of President Obama’s “borrower protection rule” was to pressure for-profit private schools to provide prospective students with something they resisted like plague – “access to relevant and reliable data about program outcomes.”

DeVos claimed the new proposal will save nearly $13 billion by reducing the amount of loan relief awarded to students who were defrauded to the tune of at least $13 billion by the people DeVos exists to enrich and protect. Under the new proposal, likely written by the for-profit school industry, private schools can now defend themselves against fraud claims and prevent damage to their reputations; all while preserving the billions in revenue from students who were defrauded. It also authorizes for-profit fraudulent schools to “force students into arbitration agreements as well as bar them from ever suing the schools that defrauded the students.” It is a practice that many for-profit colleges use regularly and “would have been banned” under President Obama’s rules that DeVos prevented being implemented.

While the private education industry cheered another means of cheating students, education advocates “blasted the proposal.” They rightly claimed DeVos’ plan “places [unscrupulous] private schools ahead of students while discouraging victims from ever pursuing financial relief.”

The director of the Project on Predatory Student Lending at Harvard University explained the real purpose of the Trump-DeVos gift to the for-profit education industry.  Toby Merrill said:

“It encourages abusive and predatory institutions to continue to rip off students with impunity, while slamming the door on the debt relief that Congress has instructed the department to provide to cheated students.”

A senior fellow at the Century Foundation and a former Education Department official, Bob Shireman said:

The proposal is perhaps the most damaging action Betsy DeVos has taken since assuming office. These changes would effectively strip students of their right to recourse if a college or university misled them, making it next to impossible for defrauded students to get the relief they are entitled to.”

The for-profit school industry and their Republican facilitators hailed the corporate-friendly changes as a “great improvement for the for-profit college industry.” The president and chief executive of the trade group, Career Education Colleges and Universities, said the old rules allowing fraud claims to reach fruition were not only unfair, they were very detrimental to for-profit private schools, even though they were never implemented. Steve Gunderson said:

The department has undertaken a thoughtful and deliberate approach to this rule, and we applaud their hard work on this important matter.”

It is unclear how much Mr. Gunderson’s “private school trade group”  was involved in devising the rules to benefit the industry, but it was likely substantial. DeVos does not make any education move without consulting, and then enacting the demands of special interests .

DeVos belied the publicly-stated motivation behind what is her gift to the for-profit education industry she helped create and now represents. She told an assembly of her close business associates in the private school industry: “Our commitment and our focus has been and remains on protecting students from fraud.”

Of course the private education leaders applauded DeVos’ new policy because they perfectly understand that DeVos’ commitment and focus “has been and remains” protecting charlatans in the private education industry. If that was not the case, she would not be making it virtually impossible for defrauded students to ever get relief, much less restitution. It is the only reason she made suspending President Obama’s  2016 “borrower defense rules”  one of the first acts as the most “unqualified Education Department head” in history.

As a reminder, President Obama’s action followed the total collapse of two for-profit schools, Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institute to give defrauded and indebted students a possible means of “relief” after suffering far too many for profit private schools’ obvious breach of contract.

It is almost certain that the average American is repulsed at the thought of being scammed, or defrauded, out of any amount of dollars – especially if they had to borrow those dollars with the hope of  improving their future. Trump is firmly behind this act because his so-called “Trump University” epitomized what at least 100,000-plus defrauded students experienced and now have the Herculean task of waiting until 2019 to attempt to “prove the schools deliberately misled them.”  The new rules will not go into effect until 2019, and because DeVos canceled President Obama’s “borrower defense rule” before it was implemented, defrauded students have no recourse.

Although this Trump-DeVos atrocity is not nearly as exciting as the myriad other troubles currently plaguing the criminal in the Oval, it should enrage the population whether they support education or not. It is yet another monumental monetary gift to special interests and that is ire-inspiring in-and-of-itself. But the real outrage is yet another Trump administration “reform” devised to allow special interests to inflict harm on consumers with the full protection of a corrupt federal government that is run by special interests and theocrats.

Trump’s love of tyrants hits “religious freedom” limit

Anyone keeping track of the world leaders Donald Trump has lovingly embraced surely noticed one overriding characteristic and defining trait, they are predominately authoritarian dictators. In addition, the tyrants Trump is enamored with have human rights abuses on their records that seemingly make them more appealing to Trump for the obvious reason that his dream is imposing harsh punishment on the people he regards as enemies.

There is little doubt, at least to this author, that if he believed he could get away with it, Trump would parrot the actions of tyrants such as Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, North Korea’s Kim Jung un, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and of course the tyrant he is most enamored with Vlad Putin. It is beyond doubt that one particular reason Trump is enamored with the aforementioned tyrants is the regularity of their human rights violations, particularly against dissenters.

During the 2016 presidential campaign Trump told supporters at a rally that he’d like to punch a protester in the face, and that he lusted for the “good ole’ days” when protesters could be  carried out on a stretcher.” During one rally he appallingly urged his supporters to “stand ready to knock the crap out of hecklers;” something he would instruct law enforcement to do if he had the same dictatorial authority his favorite tyrants enjoy. Instead, he offered to pay the legal fees of supporters arrested for assaulting peaceful protestors.

One of the tyrants Trump admires, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, must have held a special place in Trump’s black heart because after the terrible Turk  observed his security detail “brutally assault” American protestors in America’s capital, Trump’s silence was tacit approval. His silence also reinforced what many Americans already believed about Trump; an overwhelming desire to allow his vile supporters to “brutally assault”  anti-Trump protestors. It is certainly why he fairly praised white supremacists as “very fine people” after they attacked peaceful protestors in Charlottesville Virginia killing one woman for protesting against Trump’s fascist acolytes.

Trump has been silent about all of his favorite dictators’ record of human rights abuses since his poorly attended inauguration leaving many Americans to wonder what kind of atrocity would inspire Trump to condemn his authoritarian heroes. This week Americans learned there is a limit to Trump’s pleasure in human rights abuses at the hands of tyrants, but that limit was set by his extremist evangelical supporters and the aspiring preacher-in-chief Mike Pence – not any sense of common decency or regard for human rights.

It is telling that Trump condoned Turkish President Erdogan’s security detail viciously assaulting peaceful American protestors on American soil, but he is reportedly incensed at Erdogan for detaining an American evangelical preacher accused of causing dissent. This week, Trump threatened to “impose large sanctions” on Turkey over the detention of evangelical preacher Andrew Brunson. Trump’s threat was on the same day as  Mike “preacher”  Pence’s warning during a “religious freedom” summit. To keep pace with the “religious freedom” crusade to pressure an ally,  the Senate Foreign Relations committee passed legislation that would use America’s influence on the World Bank to withhold financial assistance to Turkey – for as long as the evangelical preacher is being detained.

Of course Turkey’s foreign minister responded to the threats in the same way America responds to threats from religious extremists:

No one dictates Turkey. We will never tolerate threats from anybody. Rule of law is for everyone; no exception.”

The particulars of why preacher Brunson is being held under house arrest are, for the purpose of this screed, primarily irrelevant. Harsh treatment, whether it is being imprisoned or summarily slaughtered, in Turkey has not incurred any untoward comments, much less threats, from the Trump theocrats. But there is a new “international religious freedom” campaign underway and it was during one such confab led by Pence that a tyrant is being reproached by America’s theocrats – over the treatment of one “man of the evangelical faith.”

What is noteworthy is that the Muslim-majority nation charged Brunson with “dividing and separating the majority-Muslim country by spreading his Christian faith.” That is the reason preacher Pence called on “believers across America to pray for Brunson” while warning the sovereign Muslim nation:

That if it does not take immediate action to free this innocent man of faith the United States will impose significant sanctions on Turkey – until pastor Andrew Brunson is free. To President Erdogan I have a message on behalf of the president of the United States of America: Release Pastor Andrew Brunson now or be prepared to face the consequences.”

Trump is no more interested in a tyrant’s aggression toward people in his nation than he is fulfilling the pledge he made to uphold and support the U.S. Constitution during his poorly attended inauguration. If that were the case he would be dispensing threats of “significant sanctions” on all manner of nations including his heroes Kim Jung un, Vlad Putin and Rodrigo Duterte et al for committing real human rights abuses, not just “detaining” an evangelical “man of faith.”

In fact, Trump and Pence had a prime opportunity to deliver threats and warnings against Egypt just recently for sentencing 75 people to death for participating in a “sit-in” in 2013. Just like when Turkey’s president watched his security detail brutally assault American protestors on American soil, Trump and Pence have been silent over a tyrannical nation imposing the death sentence for protesting; because the protestors are Muslims.

This absurd round of threats against a sovereign nation for imposing its own laws is a very bad sign that the Trump administration’s “international religious freedom” crusade has nothing to do with promoting religious freedom internationally. Frankly, it is nearly impossible to have any empathy for an American evangelical preacher who relocates to a majority-Muslim nation to “convert” Muslims to Christianity. For dog’s sake, the evangelicals  championing “religious freedom” in America do not comport Muslim adherents whatsoever, much less if they came from foreign nations to proselytize Christians and convert them to Islam.

It is worth noting that as an American of Armenian descent, this author has little-to-no regard for Turkey or its tyrannical leader – no matter if the country is an American ally. However, Turkey is a sovereign nation and if according to its laws the evangelical preacher violated some statute against using his religion to divide the country, then it is the evangelical’s problem regardless of his nationality. He may enjoy “religious freedom” to ignore and violate the law and U.S. Constitution with impunity in America, but he is not in America. Moreover, regardless of how one views a nation guilty of exterminating 1.2 million Armenians, at least in Turkey “the rule of law is for everyone; no exception.”  If only that were the case in America that was founded on the “rule of law,” it is highly likely the threat of “religious freedom” to impose a theocracy would not exist.

Image: AP Photo/ Evan Vucci

Trump will have blood on his hands by eliminating California’s emissions waiver

It is no secret that Republicans despise California because the majority of its people hold beliefs contrary to everything conservatives love. It is particularly true that Trump hates California whether it is because the state’s economy is humming along after the people voted to raise taxes, or because the majority of the people recognize that Trump is a worthless charlatan, or because the people love and desire clean air and water enough to support environmental regulations.

There is not much Trump can do about the majority of Californians detesting him on general principles, something he knew before his poorly attended inauguration. But he and Republicans have punished the people for raising taxes by eliminating their ability to deduct them on their federal income tax returns.

Now Trump is preparing to punish Californians’ health and welfare, and their economic lives,  by revoking the Golden State’s authority to set its own vehicle emission and fuel efficiency standards; actions that would provide no benefits whatsoever for the people. It is just one reason why the majority of Californians abhor Trump.

There are a couple of reasons Trump is punishing Californians this time; likely one reason is to repay the oil industry for its electoral support. The oil industry does oppose environmental regulations nearly as much as they hate the idea of higher fuel efficiency standards. There is also the issue of California refusing to force its law enforcement agencies to become de facto ICE and Border Patrol agents. Trump’s obsession with eliminating anything beneficial to the American people that occurred during a real President, Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House is also a contributing factor in his decision to inflict serious harm on Californians.

The rumors thus far are that Trump is going use the EPA to bring a screeching halt California’s ability to set its own fuel efficiency standards, and put the brakes on the state’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles in place under the Clean Air Act (CLA). In 2009, California earned a waiver under the CLA allowing it to set emissions standards for cars and trucks that exceed those of the federal government. States’ rights Republicans opposed the waiver because the Koch brothers oppose the concept of emissions standards as a matter of course.

The idea of putting a halt to higher fuel efficiency standards will impact more than just Californians because Trump, like the oil industry, wants all Americans to buy more fuel; Trump’s assault on fuel efficiency will be a nationwide affair. Although the economic injury of paying more for transportation is not necessarily life threatening, but ending California’s ability to set higher car and truck emission standards is.

According to the World Health Organization, California’s San Joaquin valley, a region known as “America’s salad bowl,” has the worst air pollution in the entirety of the United States. That pollution in and around fertile farmland providing much of the country’s, and the world’s, fruits, nuts and vegetables is also the cause of higher rates of cancer, asthma, and several hundred premature deaths every year.

The World Health Organization also reported that in 2012 alone, “premature deaths from air pollution” was responsible for over 7 million deaths worldwide. The number of premature deaths in the San Joaquin portion of the “Great Central Valley” number several hundred every year and that is in spite of what Republicans claim are devastating air quality regulations that include vehicle emission standards. Those mortality numbers will only increase with Trump’s deregulatory crusade, but those deaths and health issues mean nothing to Trump, Republicans, and the oil industry.

Anyone who has spent any time in the San Joaquin valley can attest to the effects of pollution caused primarily from oil drilling, traffic and farming; most recently car and truck tailpipe emissions have been identified as the leading cause of pollution with oil drilling overtaking the damage from agricultural chemical pollutants.

It is true that California has a robust air quality resources agency, but “regional” air pollution control districts in “the valley” districts represented by Republicans Devin Nunes, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and special interest puppet Jeff Denham play according to special interest rules.

Those Republican-dominated regional “air quality representatives” pander to businesses vehemently opposed to clean air and water regulations. This author can attest that those local air quality representatives lie like Trump by asserting that state and federal environmental protections are “highly destructive” and are killing off “family” businesses responsible for pollution.

For example, during an editorial board meeting a few years ago at a McClatchy newspaper serving the San Joaquin Valley, the Republican from the local air resources board complained bitterly that California emission standards were destroying too many “family businesses” up and down the valley; particularly the southern part of the valley. After a brief but heated exchange with this author, the air quality representative conceded that the “family businesses” were really oil drilling and refining operations run by some of the nation’s largest oil companies. As an aside, the Koch brothers contribute more to Republican candidates for state offices, including local air quality boards, in California than any other state. The Kochs are also responsible for all manner of “ballot initiatives” seeking to eliminate the Golden State’s environmental protections.

As the director of Sierra Club California, Kathryn Phillips, rightly noted: “They are conspiring to change the [air quality] standards so things don’t look as dirty as they are.”

The only glimmer of hope Californians have to cling to is, according to Dan Sperling of the California Air Resources Board, “We have the law on our side, as well as the people of the country and the people of the world.”

An attorney for Earthjustice, Paul Cort, concurred with Mr. Sperling:

California has done the math, and it’s concluded that the only way to meet both its greenhouse gas goals and its ozone targets is to move away from fossil fuel-based transportation. The law is very clear about California’s authority to set these standards, and for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to try to narrow it now means they have an uphill battle.”

Whether Trump likes it or not, Californians are like most Americans who want vehicles with higher fuel efficiency as much as they want clean air. The latter is an honest-to-dog existential issue and the former is economic. The only people in America that lust for lower fuel efficiency vehicles are the Koch brothers and their dirty oil industry cohorts. They are also the primary drivers of the conservative anti-environmental movement condoning higher cancer rates, respiratory problems, birth defects, and premature deaths if it increases their profits. Of course Trump is as inhumane as the Koch brothers and he hates California, but this atrocity is as much about reversing another good thing President Obama provided the people as it is Trump’s flagrant disregard for human life.

There is little doubt that Trump will publicly revel in aiding the fossil fuel industry with what is being touted as a major deregulatory action, with the value-added treat of punishing Californians. The real question is whether he will celebrate publicly that his obsession with eliminating President Barack Obama’s life- and environment-saving actions means he will have California residents’ blood on his hands.

 

Trump and McConnell’s judicial havoc will last for decades

After the events of the past 10 days, it is abundantly clear that there is no end to the amount of damage Trump will wreak on the United States internationally and domestically. However, it is almost certain that every dirty move Trump makes internationally can be reversed by a sane administration – although no foreign nation will ever trust America again whether they are an ally or an antagonist. It is a travesty, but because of Trump and his Republican henchmen in the Senate and the Christofascists running the Heritage Foundation, no American should ever trust their government to look out for their interests; or that they will continue to have constitutional protections. It is likely that within a year or so, Trump, his theocratic cabal, and Republicans will have succeeded in unleashing lasting damage on the American people and the federal government. In this case “lasting” means several decades if not permanently.

Over at Salon, Amanda Marcotte, opined that there is a “vile reason why Republicans will keep covering for Trump’s unending, and perilous, scandals.” Although Ms. Marcotte makes a sound argument, it ignores the simple fact that even if Republicans were inclined to stop protecting Trump and throw the criminal out of the White House, there is a dyed-in-the-wool Christofascist conservative who will continue “packing the courts” with far right-wing religious extremists. According to Ms. Marcotte, that is the “vile reason” Republicans condone Trump’s wrecking-crew agenda as if only Trump will “pack the courts” with evangelical right-wing activists.

Where Trump does the evangelical extremists’ bidding for electoral support, Mike “preacher” Pence is a true believer that America was created as an evangelical theocracy and his Christian bible is the law of the land. Pence would move the proverbial “Heaven and Earth” to make America as Christian as Trump is attempting to make it Aryan. Still, there is no denying that with Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s “court packing” crusade in full swing, America as it has existed for 238 years is finished and two of the Heritage Foundation’s theocratic judicial appointments should disabuse any American’s idea that there is  a limit to the damage Trump is doing to America and its people.

It is true that the theocratic Heritage Foundation is in the process of shaping the Supreme Court in its image for at least a generation; the religious right has clamored for a Christian conservative majority for decades. However, the real damage is their appointments of young, incompetent, and inexperienced right wing ideologues and evangelicals filling the federal appellate courts. At the rate the lower courts are being packed with neo-con evangelical crusaders, it is possible that many cases will never reach the High Court. These recent Trump-Heritage appointees are openly biased and because it mainly concerns religion, they are not being assailed as religious extremists. There must be a convention in America that forbids questioning the imposition of the evangelical religion as if doing so is tantamount to what used to be considered treason – siding with a hostile foreign leader against the interests of the United States.

Regarding the Russian asset in the Oval, while the media and some Americans were watching Trump lie about his “misspeak” regarding Russia’s attack on America’s democracy, Mitch McConnell was holding a confirmation vote on a “radical right wing” ideologue, Andrew Oldham, as a 5th Circuit Court of Appeals judge. To label Oldham as a radical, anti-government neo-conservative is an understatement.

Oldham is, as reported in May, a wet dream for the Koch brothers and particularly the theocracy-minded Heritage Foundation. Like the Koch brothers, Oldham openly questions the “legitimacy” of the federal government by arguing vigorously, “The entire existence of this edifice of administrative law is constitutionally suspect.” He also claims that agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Labor are patently “illegal and illegitimate.” Apparently, Oldham is opposed to any form of taxation and federal or state regulations unless they target women’s right to self-determination; it is the primary reason the evangelicals at the Heritage Foundation ordered Trump to nominate him.

Oldham argued in defense of a set of bizarre 2013 Texas evangelical laws that regulated the medical profession with the purpose of closing down “safe, legal abortion clinics” while he was deputy solicitor general in Texas. The Supreme Court overturned the law that had nothing to do with improving women’s health, particularly when it immediately closed down 13 abortion clinics. As NARAL’s Adrienne Kimmell noted:

Oldham’s track record proves time and time again that he will be a foot soldier for the anti-choice movement’s agenda, which includes overturning and gutting Roe v. Wade to criminalize abortions.”

It is a “track record” as an evangelical foot soldier that prompted the Christofascist Heritage Foundation to appoint Oldham to the federal appellate court. His embrace of the Koch brothers’ mindset that federal government agencies, departments, and regulations are, for all intent and purposes, “illegitimate and illegal” is a value-added bonus to sate the greed of the bastard libertarian Kochs and their GOP ilk.

Just recently, a different Trump-Heritage appellate judge revealed exactly why he was appointed to the federal bench; he hates the idea of women’s choice and he loves the church he claims is being treated unfairly.  The Trump-Heritage appointee, some evangelical malcontent named James Ho sits on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the recently-confirmed Andrew Oldham is joining. In a case involving another Texas law requiring the cremation or proper (Christian) burials of “fetal remains,” a U.S. District Judge blocked its enactment because it imposed an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to abortion access. It was a more than reasonable decision simply because “it [the law] created absolutely no benefit for women, while passing on substantial costs to patients and clinics.”

Texas evangelicals disagreed and claimed that forcing proper Christian fetal burials does not impose any extra expense or burden on anyone because the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops has offered to bury fetal remains for free, or at reduced costs. However, when the plaintiffs, Whole Woman’s Health, served a subpoena on the Bishops requesting documents relating to its funding fetal burials for veracity, the church said no – they don’t have to prove anything because they are the Holy and infallible church.

In a 2-1 decision, the appellate court ruled that the lower court had to “suppress” the plaintiff’s subpoena and stop being mean to “the church.” In that ruling the Court assailed the plaintiffs, Whole Woman’s Health, for daring to “intimidate” the poor beleaguered church by requesting proof of the Catholic Bishops’ claim. The ruling also attacked the District Judge for his “religious insensitivity” of having the audacity to “rule against the Catholic Church on a Sunday morning when its members were almost surely in church.” Trump’s appointee, Ho, added that the district court judge was barbaric in “retaliating against people of faith for not only believing in the sanctity of life—but also for wanting to do something about it.”

If anyone does not believe the reason “Mitch McConnell kept hundreds of vacant judicial seats open under President Barack Obama so the Senate Republicans could fill those seats” with evangelical far right ideologues, they are ridiculously naïve, if not stupid. As Kristine Lucius of The Leadership Conference noted:

Under McConnell and Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley, the record-breaking pace of hearings, committee votes and floor votes, and utter disregard for Senate norms and traditions on nominees, has been shameful. Trump is trying to take over the federal courts by nominating young extremists who are unfit to serve impartially.”

It is worth repeating that much of Trump’s damage can be reversed; tariffs can be lifted, environmental regulations can be reinstated, cuts to social programs can be halted, corporate tax cuts can be rescinded, and immigration atrocities can be stopped. However, there is nothing whatsoever any American, legislative body, or future administration can do to change the makeup of a federal judiciary packed with radical religious and far-right wing ideologues serving for life.

It is a sad state of affairs that the people are fundamentally ignorant of the coming disaster of a radical religious federal judiciary. But they will likely get a clue when their voting rights are restricted, LGBTQ rights are struck down, environmental protections are completely abolished, executive power is increased, campaign finance regulations are eliminated and when women are prohibited from making their own determination regarding their personal reproductive health and childbearing.

America is headed for a seriously rough time with a generation’s worth of evangelical conservative federal courts earning the theocratic Heritage Foundation’s mandate to decide what laws are constitutional. It is not going to matter one iota what a future Democratic president or Congress passes into law – any one of Trump’s radical religious courts can rule them unconstitutional and that will be the end of them. Moreover, no American should believe for any measure of Planck time that with a federal judiciary packed with anti-women’s rights crusaders, women are not going to suffer the wrath of Christofascists who are perilously close to running all three branches of what was created as a secular government.

Trump is doing more to divide the Western Alliance than the Kremlin

Loyalty is a trait Trump demands from everyone whether they are in his family, his criminal enterprise, American citizens, or leaders of America’s allies and trading partners. Of course, in Trump’s tiny narcissistic mind, loyalty entails abject obedience and perpetual praise for the aspiring dictator no matter the issue. Anyone falling short of what Trump considers loyalty soon finds themself on the receiving end of his typically vindictive nature and that includes leaders of sovereign nations Americans have called allies and partners for decades, if not generations.

As one might expect, NATO members are rightfully concerned that Trump’s upcoming visit will be a repeat of the G7 debacle just a month ago. Like that economic “summit,” Trump will depart from meeting with America’s allies and rush into the waiting arms of a tyrannical dictator – his favorite ruler Vladimir Putin. Putin would love nothing more than to learn directly from Trump that he succeeded  in alienating NATO members and weakening the “Western Alliance.” It is abominable that instead of displaying any loyalty to America’s historical allies, Trump has done little else but provoke our friends in an effort to please a hostile foreign leader.

Trump is desperate to please and display loyalty to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin for what appears to be purely pecuniary reasons. Subsequently, since even before his poorly attended inauguration, dirty Don has “pleased” Putin beyond the dirty Ruskie’s wildest dream. Putin’s long sought-after dream is fracturing the Western Alliance made up of the European Union and members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO); it is the only way Putin can assert Russian authority over Europe to match the former Soviet Union’s sphere of influence. Trump has given every indication that one of his primary foreign policy goals includes helping Putin realize his dream with divisive attacks and comments targeting America’s allies; all under the guise of making America great by being disloyal to its friends, and all because they fail to obey Trump’s outrageous demands or praise him like a messiah.

Trump has attacked NATO members for not spending enough on their militaries, started a trade war with the bloc by levying punitive tariffs, abandoned international deals on climate change and Iran’s nuclear program, and refused to sign the typically-uncontroversial G-7 statement last month. He’s also publicly condemned a sovereign nation’s leader and close ally, Angela Merkel, because she refuses to enact Trump-like barbaric immigration policies. In addition, he has  reportedly pushed French President Emmanuel Macron to do Putin’s bidding and weaken “the Alliance” by asking the French leader, “Why don’t you leave the European Union?”

It is likely that because Russia handed out financial incentives to the right-wing malcontent behind the so-called “Brexit” movement, Trump decided to contribute to fracturing the Western Alliance by levying punitive tariffs against America’s allies and trading partners; anything to aid Putin break apart the only thing preventing him from annexing all of Europe. Remember, Putin only invaded and confiscated Crimea from Ukraine because it is not a NATO member-nation.

It is noteworthy that abandoning any one of the international deals with America’s democratic allies had nothing to do with how much NATO member nations spend on their own military. But those acts are contributing to Putin’s longstanding goal of ripping apart the so-called “Western Alliance.” It is why a renowned political analyst and Russian exile working at the Hudson Institute,  Andrei Piontkovsky said:

Putting these events together creates a moment of truth. All NATO countries are worried about it [Trump’s belligerence toward the EU]. For the Eastern members, this is a matter of life and death. Trump is doing more to divide the West and weaken NATO than the Kremlin itself. Trump is the ideal U.S. president for Putin.”

Mr. Piontkovsky’s statement could not possibly be more accurate and it goes beyond Trump’s claim that he is only going after NATO members because “they owe us money.” That excuse may work on Trump’s dirt-dumb acolytes, but any half-wit understands NATO members do not owe, or have to pay, America as a condition of NATO membership.  It is  likely that those same Trump supporters are unaware that there is only one instance of NATO members invoking Article 5 to defend a member who was attacked. The “common defense” clause commits all members to protect each other and generally sets a spirit of solidarity within the Alliance, not the price of membership.

After a criminal gang hijacked passenger aircraft and flew them into American buildings, the Alliance’s members committed, and followed through, to protect America by joining its never-ending war in Afghanistan. It is noteworthy that those NATO countries never called on America to pay for  receiving “protection;” it is what real loyalty and commitment looks like and is something Trump will never acknowledge or understand.

It is bad enough that Trump has no loyalty to his own country and that he has made ending whatever “spirit of solidarity” as Americans this country may have once enjoyed. But that is the price Americans have to pay for electing an aspiring dictator whose idea of loyalty is abject obedience. No matter how badly Trump rips America apart, it does not represent an existential threat to this nation’s most valuable allies and trading partners. His hostility and punitive actions against the European Union and NATO countries, however, if successful, will give Vladimir Putin exactly what he expected when he put his puppet in the White House – a willing servant devoted to dismantling the only thing preventing Russian expansion in Europe.

 

Trump’s warning to the Left was a signal to his acolytes

Politics are messy in the best of times, and opposition politics, whether during elections or not, can be extremely messy – even in “civilized” societies like America used to be. In nations with tyrannical dictators, messy generally means violent and it can be life threatening to oppose the ruling party. Now, based on the threats and predictions of violence by white supremacists, evangelical extremists and now their messiah Donald Trump, opposition politics in America are leaning towards violence.

During a segment on Fox News when Trump was queried about his plan to bring the nation together, especially in light of opposition to his inhumane immigration policy, he sent a not-so-veiled threat to the opposition that they should fear his rabid supporters in the white supremacy and evangelical movements. Trump said:

I think some of the things that are said are terrible. And you know, it’s our people are so incredible — do you know, there’s probably never been a base in the history of politics in this country like my base. I hope the other side realizes that they better just take it easy. They better just take it easy because some of the language used, some of the words used, even some of the radical ideas I really think they are very bad for the country. I think they are actually very dangerous for the country.”

Obviously, Trump’s idea of bringing the nation together is threatening the opposition to either shut up and embrace his tyranny or face the wrath of his disgusting base. Trump’s remark was certainly a warning and a threat to the “opposition,” but it was also a very clear message to “his” base.

It is almost certain that Trump’s “threat” was as much a signal to “his base” to prepare for action against “the opposition” as it was a warning to said “opposition.” Of course this isn’t Trump first foray into inciting his racist and evangelical base to violence and it likely is not going to be the last.

Some Americans may recall that Trump sent another “not-so-subtle” message to his base shortly after one of his Nazi supporters drove a car into a crowd of protestors in Charlottesville Virginia killing Heather Heyer for “opposing” Trump’s revolting Nazi adherents.

The reason his “base” did not  lash out at or abandon him after he was eventually pressured to decry the violence in Charlottesville was because his first public statement signaled his steadfast support for the racists when he said they were “very fine people.” It is no coincidence that he sent the same signal when he said, “our people are so incredible” that the “other side better just take it easy.” It was a direct threat from the Oval Office that “saying things,” “using language, and words,” or promoting “ideas” that Trump doesn’t like are “very dangerous”’ and will incite “his base” to action.

If Americans and the world have learned anything since even before Trump’s poorly attended inauguration, it is that no matter the situation or who is involved, Trump’s first response is making threats – except against his most favored tyrant Vlad Putin. And just as religious extremists and racists follow a perceived messiah, Trump’s devotees are ready and willing to execute his threats in the worst possible way – bloodshed.

It is noteworthy that Trump did not create his incredible “base;”  he simply took advantage of his “birther” handiwork and then tapped into the same people as “his base.”  That base has longed for  bloodshed against the “opposition” since 2008 because it overwhelmingly elected an African American man to be their President. That thirst for civil war, or the so-called second revolution, only increased exponentially throughout President Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House. Trump did not have to do much more than embrace, and then incite, the racists and evangelical extremists during his particularly nasty campaign rallies.

Decent Americans should not underestimate the threat of violence from Trump’s “base.” Since the presidential campaign onward there have been honest-to-dog warnings that opposing Trump, or his policies, was courting danger in the form of violence. One member of Trump’s inner circle, Roger Stone, warned just a few months ago, and for the second time, that “blood will flow in the streets of America with an insurrection like you have never seen if President Trump is impeached.”

Stone specifically noted that any politician who joined the effort or called for removing Trump from the White House “would be endangering their own life.” Media Matters reported that Trump told conspiracy theorist Alex Jones that “he ‘really liked’ [Roger] Stone’s comment” negating any absurd claim that Trump’s “warning” was referring to his base as an electoral “threat.” He was sending a clear message to his supporters who have already threatened incredible bloodshed against the “opposition” if they think their messiah is in danger; it is precisely why Trump called the opposition “very dangerous for the country.”

There is nothing abnormal about Trump issuing threats against anyone he considers “the opposition,” it is just what bullies do as a matter of course. However, it is beyond the pale that the leader of the Executive Branch of government is issuing warnings against the opposition that “they just better take it easy” with their “words and ideas” or face the wrath of “his incredible base.

Unlike the dictators Trump wants to emulate, he is restrained from unleashing the military on “the opposition” for some extrajudicial justice; at least thus far. He has, in fact, promoted the idea that “due process” does not comport with his style of “governance.” So instead he will rely on his “incredible base” to do his dirty work against other Americans who dare to exercise their Constitutional right of free speech and condemn the dirty fascist in the White House.  As noted above, this is not the first time Trump sent his “base” a message regarding their craving for violence and bloodshed against other Americans. All because they refuse to submit to the corrupt and barbaric savage in the White House or the dictates of his racist and theocratic sycophants.

GOP Freedom Caucus cowards embolden Trump’s lies and attacks on Republicans

It is a good thing at least three Republicans meeting privately with Trump last week are not in the military, because if that were the case they would likely be convicted of cowardice and taken out to be “shot at dawn.”

Any individual who lacks courage is a coward. In fact, cowardice is defined as the opposite of courage and considered a “failure of character” in the face of a challenge. It is also regarded as a “trait wherein excessive self-concern overrides doing or saying what is right, good, and of help to others in a time of need.” In many military codes of justice, cowardice is a “capital crime punishable by death.”

Over the past week, there has been an ongoing display of Republican cowardice in the face of Trump’s continued attacks on a Republican considered a loyal and highly respected member of the House Freedom Caucus (teabaggers). It is typical for Trump to single out someone from his own party for criticism because the individual disagreed with the aspiring dictator, and as recent history shows it is just as typical for Republicans to refrain from condemning Trump out of abject fear.

It seemed that the Republicans’ tepid anger at Trump for attacking another Republican and lying about it had died down by the weekend, but as is his wont, Trump continued belittling Representative Mark Sanford after allegedly angering a few House Freedom Caucus members last week. Moreover, it is noteworthy that Trump continues unimpeded because he knows Republicans are too cowardly to do much more than bitch and moan among themselves; they are too spineless to confront Trump to his face or on national television.

Last week while the travesty of Trump’s immigration policy was dominating the news, there was a prime example of exactly how desperate cowardly Republicans are to avoid getting on the wrong side of their fascist standard-bearer Trump. It was hardly reported that during a “closed-door” meeting on immigration with about 200 House Republicans, dirty Don openly “disparaged” one House Republican, Representative Mark Sanford, as a “nasty guy” while celebrating Mr. Sanford’s primary election loss.

Instead of walking out en masse to protest Trump’s demeaning one of their own, the cowards in attendance could only muster an “awkward silence” with a few barely audible “boos” in the background. That was the extent of the 200 House Republicans’ response when a cheap criminal stood there and maligned a loyal Republican friend. The cowards were too terrified of “doing or even saying what is right” to defend one of their own as if doing so would have meant immediate expulsion from Congress. Nevertheless, that display of Republican cowardice was not the end of the story.

According to a typical self-aggrandizing “tweet,” the next day Trump claimed that the 200 assembled House Republicans “applauded and laughed loudly when I mentioned my experience with Mark Sanford. I have never been a fan of his!”

Apparently, it was acceptable for the Party leader to belittle a devoted Republican in person, but for three Republicans it was not acceptable for their hero to lie and mischaracterize their response as celebratory – especially over a remark that any civilized person would consider unbecoming.

What is telling is that the three Republicans who did object to Trump’s mendacious tweet did not object directly to his face because they fear him like plague. In fact, two of the congressional representatives, Justin Amash (R-MI) and Ryan Costello (R-PA), reported via “tweet” that Trump’s claim was “categorically false” and that the assembled Republicans were “disgusted” over their fearless leader’s “dazzling display of pettiness and insecurity.” However, their refutations were not directed at Trump. There is no doubt they fear being on the receiving end of Trump’s retribution

It is noteworthy that although Amash and Costello responded by “tweet” to Trump’s Twitter lie, neither one was brave enough to condemn the liar by sending their “Twitter” refutations directly to @realdonaldtrump. According to Trump’s Twitter account, he does not follow either Amash or Costello on Twitter; so it is highly unlikely the two Republicans are in danger of being targeted by Trump with retaliation for exposing the White House occupant’s filthy lie.

According to Mr. Amash, who is too cowardly to confront Trump in person or by “tweet,” the 200 or so Republicans in attendance were not laughing or applauding; he said they “were disgusted.” He tweeted:

House Republicans had front row seats to POTUS’s dazzling display of pettiness and insecurity. Nobody applauded or laughed. People were disgusted.”

Amash is running unopposed in his reelection bid so it is unclear exactly what drives his fear of openly challenging Trump in person for the mischaracterization of how Republicans responded after Trump demeaned their loyal cohort.

It is the same case with Ryan Costello (R-PA). Costello also took to Twitter to deny Trump’s claim that Republicans cheered and applauded his comments demeaning Mr. Sanford. Costello tweeted that Trump’s Twitter claim was “Categorically false,” and he told the Washington Post, “There’s no fricking way that that’s what happened.

Mr. Costello, like Amash, has nothing to fear from Trump electorally because he announced earlier in the year that he is not seeking reelection. He said he is weary of only “answering questions about Donald Trump rather than health insurance or tax policy.”

The only other denial out of 200 assembled Republicans came from Representative Scott DesJariais (R-TN) who told Politico that Trump’s “tweet” was patently false. He noted that instead of wild applause and laughter when Trump made the untoward comment, “there were crickets.”

Many of the other 200 Republicans queried about Trump’s nasty remarks against one of the own either feigned ignorance or pretended they didn’t hear their leader’s comments or notice the “decidedly awkward silence” or smattering of “muffled boos.”  As reported by Amber Phillips in the Washington Post:

“Not a single lawmaker of the two dozen questioned by The Washington Post backed up Trump’s claim that they applauded and laughed loudly as he dissed Sanford, and very few were willing to call out the president Trump for creating an alternate reality.”

Tuesday it was reported that since Trump continues criticizing “one of their own,” the House Freedom Caucus is taking him to task in the most cowardly means possible. Instead of calling a press conference in front of television cameras and reporters, or marching over to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to impose some serious condemnation on the fascist in the Oval Office, the Freedom Caucus sissies released a statement applauding Sanford’s service.

“Mark Sanford has been a strong, independent voice fighting for the people of South Carolina’s First District. We continue to support him, he is a valued member of the House Freedom Caucus, and it’s our honor serving with him. His thoughtful consideration of legislation and willingness to put constitutional principles ahead of the party line is commendable and will be missed.”

No doubt, very few Americans will consider the Freedom Caucus’ statement praising Sanford as condemning Trump for his mendacity, “dazzling display of pettiness,” or his typically “disgusting” behavior.

This particular incident, although seemingly routine for Trump’s America and Republicans, is very telling. If nothing else, it should disabuse every American of the idea that Trump will ever be held accountable for any of his crimes – whether they are crimes against humanity, the U.S. Constitution, or crimes that endanger the continued existence of America as created by the Founding Fathers.

Look, if 200 or so Republicans are too frightened of Trump to call out his “display of pettiness” or his “Twitter” lies about how they responded to his “disgusting” remarks, then they will never act to hold him to account for being a threat to America – something that has been glaringly apparent since his poorly attended inauguration.

The lack of response from the House Republicans should be a wakeup call to Americans foolishly awaiting Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller to rescue the people, and the country, from Trump’s deliberately destructive policies and agendas. Remember, only the Republican-controlled House can “impeach” Trump who is well aware that Republicans are cowards of the first order. It is why he is able to intimidate Republicans into remaining silent about anything he does; whether it is lying about their behavior, publicly demeaning one of their loyal cohorts, or decimating the Constitution they all pledged a “so help me god” oath to defend and support; something the cowards in the GOP are inherently unable to do if they are too terrified to stand up to a fascist punk like Trump.