THE REPUBLICAN WAR AGAINST MORALITY AND COMMON SENSE—AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE
January 1-June 30, 2019
This fifth installment on the presidency of Donald Trump will begin, as the others have done, by picking up where the previous installment ended. In this case, with the Republican-instigated governmental shutdown. The six month period covered herein runs from January 1, 2019 to June 30, 2019.
I will begin by noting that we have an illegitimate president. The Mueller report on the Russia scandal conclusively proves that Trump’s campaign was in active collusion with Russian hackers. That is reason enough to have him removed from office.
There are at least ten impeachable offenses that Donald Trump is guilty of, but Senate Republicans steadfastly refuse to hold him accountable. They are: 1) Obstruction of justice; 2) Violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution; 3) Conspiring to commit crimes against the United States; 4) Advocating illegal violence; 5) Endangering the peace and security of the United States; 6) Threatening to prosecute his political opponents; 7) Abusing the pardon power; 8) Attacking and undermining freedom of the press; 9) Cruelly and illegally imprisoning children in their families without trial; and 10) Making illegal payments to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Any one of these would be sufficient for his impeachment and ultimate removal from office. Taken together, they constitute the worst series of crimes ever committed not just by any American president, but any elected official in the entire history of the United States.
The fact that no impeachment proceedings have been instigated against this criminal is a national embarrassment, and illustrates how the democratic process has become bipolar: On the one hand, we have Republicans who refuse to obey the Constitution and do their duty by instigating impeachment proceedings, and on the other we have Democrats, far too many of them, who insist that we shouldn’t begin these proceedings and instead just concentrate on removing him from office in 2020. Even though Democrats are in control of the House of Representatives, where the impeachment process begins, they have yet to do what they should be doing. That in itself is a national disgrace; if Donald Trump is allowed to get away with his crimes, that will set a precedent for future leaders to build on.
We live in a country that views objective truth and ridiculously absurd statements as having equal weight. This view is held not only by far too many Americans but, more ominously, by the mainstream media that all too often allows the stupidest, anti-common sense statements to go unchallenged. This fact will become readily apparent during the course of this article.
The shutdown, which began on December 22, 2018, came about due to Republican unwillingness to work with the Democrats on anything. Their intransigence, in addition to costing federal employees large portions of their salaries, also deprived people of access to important governmental services. While immigrant children were dying in government concentration camps, Republicans continued to demand five billion dollars to build Trump’s unnecessary, unworkable and immoral border wall. This in addition to the fact that they had already refused to pass a $1.6 billion border security offer that had already passed in the Senate.
When he was told that almost a million federal employees would not get their next paychecks due to the shutdown, Republican Scott Perry (R-PA) showed his indifference by asking: “Who’s living that they’re not going to make it to the next paycheck?” Comments like this illustrate that Republicans steadfastly refuse to compromise on anything—no matter who pays the price. They need to get out of their cocoons and look around at the real people who are doing real work, not the over-paid bureaucrats in Washington who have only the next election to worry about.
During one weekend in June, 2019, Trump went on one of his typical Twitter harangues, as reported by Adam Schiff: “The president spent his weekend on an unhinged Twitter rant against the press outlets he doesn’t like, the ‘witch hunt’ against him, and making threats against our allies or neighbors, like Mexico. Let me break it down for you: He attacked the press for critical coverage of the reckless trade war he’s opening with Mexico and cruel treatment of migrants at the border; he pushed his tired narrative of ‘No Collusion, No Obstruction,’ despite the fact that the Mueller Report explicitly DOES NOT exonerate him of either; he whined that he doesn’t get enough credit, and said he should have a national holiday in his honor (seriously); and he complained that social media companies have recently banned right-wing extremists from their platforms.” (Adam Schiff, letter to constituents, June 10, 2019) While rants like this are standard operating procedure for this unhinged president, his ridiculous claims still constitute an attack on the free press (which, as we will see, almost never questions him or his colleagues on any of his statements or policies) and the rule of law.
Trump’s actions, words, and antics are destroying the republic. He has told over 10,000 verifiable lies since assuming the presidency. Daily Kos tells us of the consequences: “Thanks to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other social media, fake stories are constantly circulating the internet. This is a time when we need MORE honest media—not less. But instead, newspapers are shutting down, and digital publishers are laying off writers, fact-checkers and support staff by the thousands…Business Insider is now reporting that the number of media layoffs has reached 2,900 so far this year. That’s 2,900 reporters, fact-checkers, editors, and support staff who were working to investigate, write, report, explain and share the news. This is a scary thing. Scarier still that it’s happening now, with a wannabe dictator in the White House pushing conspiracy theories and attacking facts as ‘fake news.’” (Amanda McKay, Daily Kos, June 24, 2019) Worse yet, the Republican-led Senate has reneged on its duty to check the president.
Chaos has reigned in Washington, and across the globe, since this man took the reins of office. The Trump administration has had the highest Cabinet turnover rate in the last 100 years. This is shocking, but shouldn’t be, given the corruption of the current president and indeed of the entire Republican party: Over 40 of Trump’s nominations have been withdrawn, many because of shocking scandals.
ISSUES, ISSUES, AND MORE ISSUES
Currently, there are literally dozens of investigations into Trump. Daily Kos lists some of them: “Our goal is to weed out and expose Trump’s corruption; there are DOZENS of investigations into Trump, his numerous organizations and his associates of their possible crimes that Daily Kos is staying on top of: 1) The Southern District is looking into campaign finance violations stemming from hush money payments to Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels. 2) Multiple Justice Department offices, along with attorneys general from New Jersey and the District of Columbia are looking into whether illegal foreign funds were used by Trump’s inaugural committee. 3) The now Democratic-controlled Congress has numerous probes started looking into security clearances, the Emoluments Clause, taxes, and obstruction. 4) Then there is the New York State attorney general that has already forced the Trump Foundation to cease activity due to shady conduct, looking into Trump’s tax schemes, and how some of his business projects have been financed. 5) And there are lawsuits. He is being sued for defamation and could be deposed under oath—with his habits of lying, this could be very dangerous for Trump. Maryland and the District of Columbia are suing him for violation of the emoluments clause. And Michael Cohen is suing him for breach of contract.” (Amanda McKay, Daily Kos, April 14, 2019)
The Republican mismanagement of government has been manifest in a dizzying number of ways, most of which affect those in the country not fortunate enough to be millionaires.
•And we just won a New York state law that should enable Congress to access Trump’s state tax returns—a partial workaround to Mnuchin’s refusal to respond to a proper congressional request for Trump’s federal tax returns.” (Robert Weissman, Public Citizen, May 30, 2019)
Many Democrats seem to have forgotten that it was Wall Street’s reckless greed and profiteering that brought about the collapse of the economy. CREDOAction reports: “Progressive champions like Sen. Jeff Merkley and Reps. Pramila Jayapal, Raul Grijalva and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez all support a tax on Wall Street speculation. All of them co-sponsored the Tax Wall Street Act introduced by Sen. Brian Schatz and Rep. Peter DeFazio. More recently, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Barbara Lee reintroduced their own version of a financial transaction tax called the Inclusive Prosperity Act. The bills have minor differences, but all face opposition from corporate Democrats who complain that these proposals are too mean to Wall Street bankers and traders. Trump hates the idea of a Wall Street sales tax because he is a scam artist, just like the Wall Street speculators who gamble with other people’s money. A rational banking system should channel money to people who create jobs. But instead, Wall Street became a gambling den for the super-rich. The wealthiest 10% own more than 85% of stock market wealth. High-speed traders turn a profit by gaming small fluctuations in price. They design computer programs that buy and hold stocks for less than a second before selling them for small profits that add up. A small sales tax—the same way we tax cigarettes to discourage smoking—would discourage this speculation and slow the growth of the complicated financial products that nearly brought down our economy. Nearly 40 countries have some form of financial sales tax, and the idea has been endorsed by everyone from Nobel Prize winners to former President George H.W. Bush. The United States even had its own Wall Street sales tax until 1966. It is long past time to tax Wall Street’s gambling habit and force Republicans and corporate Democrats to explain why their siding with Donald Trump and Wall Street over working Americans.” (Heidi Hess, CREDOAction, June 26, 2019)
Dream Team: Progressive Caucus tells us that Americans are over one trillion dollars in credit card debt, while Wall Street billionaires continue to charge exorbitant credit card fees and interest rates. One piece of legislation, the Loan Shark Prevention Act, could serve as a halt to this obscene practice, but it is not likely to even receive a hearing in Mitch McConnell’s Republican-led Senate. Much more on McConnell is forthcoming.
Billionaires in the United States are ecstatic that they have one of their own in the White House. People’s Action tells us: “The world’s billionaires increased their wealth by $2.5 billion per day in 2018. There are now more than 2,200 of them, and the amount of wealth stored in offshore tax havens was estimated at $7.6 trillion in 2015. Billionaires have historically been alluring, magical figures. The U.S. even elected one of them to the presidency. But he isn’t doing so well. Increasingly, billionaires are seen as avatars of inequality and greed.” (Leo Gerard, People’s Action, January 28, 2019) Billionaires and multi-millionaires are running the country. Anyone who really believes they have us or their country’s best interests at heart is in dire need of a reality check.
It seems that every day brings new information on the corruption of this criminal administration. Daily Kos reports: “On Wednesday, the William Barr-led Department of Justice announced that it was blocking an effort by the House Oversight and Reform Committee to obtain census information from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross through what has now become standard practice in the Trump White House: declaring that all the information is covered by executive privilege. Following that action, the Oversight Committee voted to hold both Barr and Ross in contempt of Congress. The key information being sought is how Ross came to place a question about citizenship on the 2020 census. That question, which seems designed to drive down census participation, could have an impact on exactly what the ‘national enumeration’ of the census is intended to do, which is to provide for fair representation in the House. Which makes the reasoning behind including the question of direct and intense interest to Congress. But Ross has refused to provide critical documents discussing the question and its addition to census forms. Barr’s action highlights the fact that it’s not just in the Russia investigation, or even in examinations of Trump’s finances, that the White House is denying Congress’ oversight role. It’s even in unrelated matters that are of the most vital interest to Congress. Most assumptions have been that what Barr, Ross, and Trump don’t want coming out are records that directly show that the citizenship question was recommended by right-wing think tanks as a way to reduce participation by specific groups of both citizens and noncitizens in the census. But the denial of Congress’ role in anything that government does has become force of habit. Since Democrats took control of the House in January, the only testimony or documents that the Trump White House has agreed to provide are those that were included as part of a deal to withhold a contempt vote on Barr by the Judiciary Committee. And no matter what the topic, the way in which Trump is using executive privilege must be challenged in court, immediately and effectively. Because the way it’s being applied at this point means that Trump has a literal get-out-of-jail-free card for any possible issue. And it means that congressional oversight isn’t even a theoretical possibility.” (Mark Sumner, Daily Kos, June 13, 2019) Given all this, it is hard to disagree with the headline of this article: “Trump’s use of executive privilege is the greatest single threat to the rule of law.”
The attempt to rig the 2020 census reveals for all to see just how and why Republicans are attempting to subvert American democracy. Common Cause informs us: “The files recovered from the estate of gerrymandering mastermind Thomas Hofeller expose the GOP’s plan to weaponize the 2020 Census, turbocharge gerrymandering, and erase the political existence of millions of people. The goal behind this plot? Drawing new, rigged voting districts—based only on voting-age citizens rather than all people as the Constitution requires—all to lock in another decade-long advantage for ‘Republicans and non-Hispanic whites.’ And…the entire success of this plot relies on getting a citizenship question on the 2020 Census…We already know—by the Census Bureau’s own admission, that a citizenship question will lead to an undercount of 4 million or more, especially in Latinx and immigrant communities. These newly uncovered documents show that the Trump administration’s rationale for a citizenship question was an absolute lie. The request to include the question didn’t originate from Department of Justice officials to help enforce the Voting Rights Act, as the administration claims. It started as a plot to create a one-party government—with Hofeller at the center of the scheme—to provide Republicans a long-term structural advantage by using citizenship data to draw highly skewed district maps.” (Keshia Morris, Common Cause, June 14, 2019)
On June 26, 2019, the Supreme Court issued a surprising decision with regard to the census. Daily Kos provides all the salient details: “In a surprise decision that will help preserve fair political representation, the Supreme Court temporarily blocked the Trump administration from adding a question to the 2020 census asking U.S. residents about their citizenship status, instead sending the case back to lower court for it to explore explosive new evidence behind the GOP’s motives for including the question. The addition of this citizenship question would have likely had a chilling effect, intimidating millions of people in immigrant communities into not participating in the census. That in turn would have turbocharged a new wave of hyperpartisan Republican gerrymandering nationwide, since census data is the bedrock of redistricting. This impact was in fact the entire rationale behind this question: In a recent bombshell report, based on newly unearthed documents from a deceased GOP political consultant, Thomas Hofeller, Republicans admitted that rigging the census would eviscerate the political power of Democrats and voters of color. The Constitution mandates that every person in the U.S. be counted in the decennial census, without regard to their legal status. A question on citizenship hasn’t been included in the census since 1950, and even when it has appeared, it has never been asked of every single participant, as the Trump administration intended it to be in 2020. Furthermore, multiple lower courts had ruled that Trump’s attempt to add the question violated both federal law and the Constitution. Those courts uniformly dismissed the Trump administration’s claim that the Justice Department needed data on citizenship to enforce the Voting Rights Act as a bogus pretext that masked their true motives. Hofeller’s document trove revealed the GOP’s racist and partisan intent: allowing mapmakers to use citizenship statistics result in ‘a disadvantage to the Democrats’ and to be ‘advantageous to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites.’” (Stephen Wolf, Daily Kos, June 27, 2019)
The following day, on June 27, 2019, the Supreme Court, in a wildly erroneous, partisan 5-4 vote, one that contradicted its own ruling the previous day, issued another ruling that will have repercussions for years to come. People’s Action reports: “A deeply divided Supreme Court ruled Thursday that federal courts may not intervene to block even the most partisan election maps drawn by state lawmakers, a decision that allows such gerrymandering to continue unabated. The 5-4 opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts and joined by the court’s other conservatives said partisan election maps drawn by North Carolina Republicans and Maryland Democrats are constitutional despite their one-sided nature. It was a dramatic withdrawal by the nation’s highest court from the political battles that have consumed states for decades, and it was loudly denounced by the court’s liberal justices. ‘We have no commission to allocate political power and influence in the absence of a constitutional directive or legal standards to guide us in the exercise of such authority,’ Roberts said. Associate Justice Elena Kagan decried the ruling on behalf of the court’s four liberals. ‘Of all the times to abandon the court’s duty to declare the law, this was not the one,’ she said. ‘The practices challenged in these cases imperil our system of government.’” (Leo Gerard, People’s Action, June 27, 2019) Rationalizing immoral legislation is nothing new to the Court’s conservatives (or to just about any other conservative politician active today), but this decision shows how the ultra right-wing in this party now owns the executive branch, the judicial branch, and one-half of the legislative branch of government. Daily Kos summarizes the Court’s decision: “By blocking any federal court limits on partisan gerrymandering, the Supreme Court has now opened up the floodgates for a wave of even more extreme gerrymandering. As a result, the Supreme Court has given its blessing to a system that has disproportionately allowed Republicans to lock in enduring advantages at both the federal and the state levels.” (Stephen Wolf, Daily Kos, June 27, 2019) The article ends on a positive note: “But this isn’t the end of the line for court cases against partisan gerrymandering: Plaintiffs will have to pursue them at the state level and argue them under protections contained in state constitutions, which almost universally guarantee the right to vote.”
That’s precisely the approach Democrats took in Pennsylvania last year, with great success. After gaining a majority on Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court, Democrats attacked the GOP’s extreme congressional gerrymander under the state constitution. The court replaced the map with fairer lines that led to a much more equitable partisan balance in the state’s House delegation following the 2018 midterms.
What the Supreme Court’s decision on gerrymandering means is simply this: State politicians have an absolute right to draw their districts any way they want to obtain political advantage. So, if they want to draw racially gerrymandered districts, they can say they were motivated to do so in order to create a partisan advantage. This is now completely legal, and federal courts can do nothing to stop them. In other words, the Supreme Court has said, in effect, that the politicians who are drawing gerrymandered districts that are rigging the system should also be the ones to unrig it. How does that make any sense?
Currently, the Pentagon enjoys a $716 billion budget, one of the highest levels in years. They receive so much governmental largesse that can’t even keep track of how they are spending the money—our money, the taxpayer’s money. The Pentagon budget is more than the next seven nations in the world combined, five of which are our allies (at least at present). Yet, Congress and the White House want to throw even more money their way.
At the end of June, 2019, a petition was underway telling Congress to reduce this ridiculous expenditure by at least $200 billion a year. This money would then go toward domestic and human needs, such as education, our infrastructure, and addressing the climate threat. More on the climate threat below.
The Trump administration has seen a higher turnover rate than any previous administration. The latest to leave is Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House Press Secretary known for her unquestioning devotion to the dictator-in-chief and her hostility toward journalists trying to do their jobs. She is considering running for governor of Arkansas.
Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court, a travesty by any objective standard, may soon be under renewed investigation—or not. Progress America reports: “Rep. Jerry Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, promised that if Democrats took over the House of Representatives, he would open an investigation into the accusations against Kavanaugh and Rep. Elijan Cummings stated the need for a thorough and transparent investigation into allegations against Kavanaugh. But now that Democrats in the House have the power, they have not fulfilled that promise.” (Mike Phelan, Progress America, June 21, 2019) Yet another example of Democrats failing to show any backbone. The article notes that: “The sexual assault is just the tip of the iceberg. The House must also investigate: 1) Records from Kavanaugh’s time in the White House show that he lied under oath in 2004, 2006, and 2018, 2) Unexplained debts of up to $200,000 disappeared just before his confirmation, 3) 83 serious ethics complaints about judicial misconduct that were referred to the House of Representatives by the Judicial Council.”
One of the key issues this year has been the threat of a war with Iran.
Donald Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton would love nothing more than for the United States to enter war with Iran. Daily Kos reports: “ Using wildly antagonistic and hostile rhetoric, the Trump administration has walked away from the historic Iran deal, imposed devastating sanctions that punish already struggling Iranian civilians, and built up military forces in the Middle East with the expressed goal of ‘confronting Iran.’” (Monique Teal, Daily Kos, June 20, 2019)
The article continues: “We’ve been here before, and the results were cataclysmic: Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq resulted in the deaths of approximately 500,000 people—including nearly 15,000 U.S. military personnel and contractors, and 250,000 civilians—and cost the U.S. nearly six trillion dollars. War with Iran would likely be even worse. Iran has a strong government and a bigger population than Afghanistan and Iraq combined. Military action would inevitably kill large numbers of civilians, be phenomenally expensive, bring international condemnation and foster even more hatred towards the United States.”
The cost of a war with Iran would be astronomical. Why is it that no one is asking Trump just how much such a war would actually cost? Progress America asks another most telling question: “Meanwhile, Flint still doesn’t have clean water, Mitch McConnell falsely claims Social Security is going broke, and our roads and highways are crumbling. What’s wrong with this picture?” (Mike Phelan, Progress America, June 20, 2019) If the United States cannot afford to ensure clean water for its citizens, cannot afford to keep our libraries open, cannot afford to fix our decaying infrastructure, and cannot even afford basic heath care needs for its citizens, where will the multi-trillion dollars to finance a war with Iran come from?
On June 20, the United States was within ten minutes of attacking Iran, before Trump called it off. The planes were already in the air, but Trump has yet to explain his backtracking. And of course Trump contradicted himself the following day by claiming that: “no planes were in the air” and that he had not given final approval for the strike. While the second portion may be accurate, the first clearly is not.
As usual, Vice President Mike Pence made a complete fool of himself when interviewed on CNN. Daily Kos reports: “Pence’s ability to stuff himself into whatever rhetorical laundry bag Trump demands continues to be remarkable. He dully repeated Trump’s new characterizations of why Trump ordered, than counter-ordered, an attack on Iranian assets after somebody in the chain of command just happened to mention only after the planes were in the air that the thing Trump just ordered them to do would likely kill at least 150 people. That didn’t come up before approving the strike? Slipped everybody’s mind?…We can only speculate, for now, on why Trump called off the attack, but the odds are far more likely that the man balked after stern words from Vladimir Putin or whichever Fox host-slash-secret-adviser he happened to call first with the news than for the military officials briefing Trump to accidentally omit the ‘how many people will this kill’ estimations when presenting strike options.” (Hunter, Daily Kos, June 23, 2019)
Bernie Sanders was on Face the Nation on June 23, 2019 and was queried on the Iran crisis. Daily Kos reports: “Margaret Brennan asks Bernie about Trump calling off the plan to bomb Iran, and during the ensuing conversation, she says: ‘he was just doing a limited strike.’ (subir, Daily Kos, June 23, 2019) Sanders rightly took issue of the term ‘limited strike’ and said: “Oh, just a limited strike—well, I’m sorry. I just didn’t know that it’s okay to simply attack another country with bombs just a limited strike—that’s an act of warfare.” The Kos article continues: “Part of the reason we are where we are is a result of the abject incompetence of major media in the US…Was the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor a ‘limited strike?’ Clearly not, we went to war over it. No American TV commentator on any network would ever accept the characterization of Pearl Harbor as a ‘limited strike.’ Yet, they uncritically accept the doublespeak coming from the White House that labels attacks on foreign countries as anything less than acts of war. And that is a big reason why we are in the mess we are in.”
As usual, the mainstream media virtually gushed over Trump’s supposed “leadership” in the Iran crisis. Daily Kos provides the details: “Donald Trump basked in lots of undeserved media glory last week after he invented a crisis with Iran, then claimed to have solved it by calling off a planned bombing raid on the country at the last minute. Largely missing from the tick-tick ‘crisis’ storytelling was the media acknowledgement that the whole episode seemed to confirm Trump doesn’t know what he’s doing, and that his stated reasons for aborting a military strike seemed completely arbitrary. Yet the press coverage likely thrilled the White House, as reporters eagerly played up the drama. ‘Lawmakers in the room watched as the weight of his duties as commander-in-chief bore down on him, lives hanging in the balance,’ CNN breathlessly reported. ‘That cautious mindset would hang over Trump’s deliberations throughout the day as he huddled several times with his national security team.’ The Washington Post newsroom cheered that Trump had avoided ‘a potentially devastating new crisis in the Middle East,’ while the New York Times stressed Trump ‘navigated his way through one of the most consequential foreign policy decisions of his presidency.’ I’m sorry, but are we being serious? Trump blustered for a day or two about dropping bombs on Iran in response to the downing of an unmanned U.S. drone—i.e. the downing of a flying camera—then decided not to, and the Times immediately placed the about-face among the ‘most consequential’ chapters of Trump’s presidency? What the whole soggy saga proved, once again, is that the press really has no idea how this White House and administration function, in part because the press has been completely locked out of both. Reporters occasionally acknowledge the truth, like in this Times dispatch, but couch it all in the Trump ‘mystery.’ ‘The full story of how Mr. Trump set in motion an attack on another country and then canceled it remained to some extent shrouded in mystery even to some of those involved, according to interviews with administration officials, military officers and lawmakers, many of whom asked not to be named.’” (Eric Boehlert, Daily Kos, June 25, 2019)
The article concludes thusly: “Breaking with modern-day norms and traditions, Trump’s Pentagon has not held a press briefing in more than a year. This means reporters are in the dark, especially during a possibly unfolding military strike, like the one last week involving Iran. On Thursday, a Pentagon spokesman did address reporters regarding Iran and read a statement, but he refused to take any questions. All of this is a perfect example of how news outlets have kowtowed to Trump and allowed his administration to seamlessly unplug channels of key communication with the press and the public.” To reiterate, this is how dictatorships work: keep all pertinent information from the public, turn the press into (Trump’s words) “the enemies of the people,” and expect unquestioning, slavish devotion not only from all subordinates, but from the country’s general population as well.
In fact, despite their protestations to the contrary, Republicans in general, no matter how extreme, have gotten far better press than Democrats. I have covered this in considerable detail in my earlier articles; here, I will just note that in 2014, networks refused to air President Obama’s immigration speech, contending that it was “too partisan.” These same networks have had no problem whatever in giving Trump air time to discuss immigration as well as promote his wall. Thus, these networks are promoting hatred and racism while disavowing any form of liberalism. How is this objective reporting?
Win Without War weighs in on how the media has failed to serve the American people on the Iran issue: “U.S.-Iran relations have teetered towards a dangerous tipping point—and every breaking story seems set on launching us into a nightmare. And just when we need them most, too many media outlets are failing to apply a critical lens to Trump’s march to war with Iran and are putting out sloppy, dangerous journalism. In fact, there is a HUGE Trump administration and arms dealer-led PR campaign to sell the U.S. public a war with Iran, and the media is helping serve it up…Here are just a few examples of what’s been included in past week’s coverage of Trump’s Iran policy: 1) Op-eds, quotes, and interviews by arms dealer manufacturers and lobbyists without identifying them as such, like David Urban who is a lobbyist for numerous defense contractors and Michael Vickers who’s on the board of BAE Systems; 2) Consistently and unquestioningly taking John Bolton’s briefings about Iran at his word, without noting his explicit decades-long desire to go to war with Iran and, 3) Headline after headline painting Iran as the SOLE aggressor—missing the critical context of U.S. antagonization that got us to this point—often accompanied by unrelated photos of ‘Iranians burning an American flag’ for no apparent reason other than to stoke division. Uncritical journalism gives the Iran War PR-spin an aura of fact—and that’s part of how we ended up with a congressionally-authorized war in Iraq. The Bush administration fed knowingly bogus or unsubstantiated intelligence on Iraq’s (nonexistent) WMD programs, or its dubious al-Qaeda connections, to reporters, who then published it without interrogation. In such politically tense times, the media should be applying the highest level of scrutiny to every source, accusation, and call for military strikes. This is what journalists are trained to do. This is what most of them entered their careers to do. With so much at stake we need them to not to fall for Trump, Bolton, and Pompeo’s fear-mongering and sell their war.” (Benjamin Ambruster, Win Without War, June 27, 2019)
It is difficult, as this is written, to predict what turns the Iran fiasco will take, but the bottom line is that the problem originated with Donald Trump himself. Daily Kos provides us with much-needed information on this. Although long, it deserves to be quoted at length: “The problem for Trump now, as he tries to persuade everyone that he’s really against another shooting war in the Middle East, is that he adopted a policy that has led Iran to shoot down a U.S. drone and stand at the brink of putting a match to the nuclear agreement Trump has excoriated since his campaign for office began.
“When Barack Obama left the presidency two and a half years ago, that multilateral nuclear accord between Iran and the five nations with the largest nuclear arsenals on the planet, plus Germany, had been doing what it was designed to do: steering Tehran’s leaders away from the kinds of nuclear development that could mean the building of uranium- or plutonium-based nuclear weapons if Iran should choose to do so. Getting there was a tough diplomatic dance all around and took six months of back-channel talk followed by 20 months of negotiations that seemed on the verge of collapse several times.
“Sixteen months later, in May 2018, when Donald Trump announced the unilateral U.S. withdrawal from the agreement and reimposition of some sanctions, gobsmacking our allies that thought this was a terrible idea, Iran was still in compliance.
“Many people, including some prominent Democrats, have believed since it was signed that the Iran agreement is flawed and needs to be tougher on Iran, and they’d like it to be in force for more years.
Right-wingers have always wanted more than that. They seek an agreement to all but dismantle Iran’s nuclear program permanently, want Iran to stop supporting rebels and terrorism, want an end to its ballistic missile tests (though the CIA has helped the Saudis obtain accurate long-range ballistic missiles). Pompeo’s list of demands for Iran to get out from under the sanctions calls for what amounts to complete submission in matters that no sovereign nation wanting to remain one will accept.
“Instead, he took us down the path demanded by the ultrahawks and encouraged by his own sense of brilliant dealmaking, we found ourselves on the precipice last week. And took only one step back.” (Meteor Blades, Daily Kos, June 24, 2019)
One need not have any love for the theocratic authoritarians running Iran today to want to avoid a shooting war with them. Their human rights record, their anti-Semitism, their treatment of women and LGBTQ people, their phony democracy, and their corrupt revolutionary zealots make Iran an oppressive place to live even in prosperous times. But equally bad autocracy in Saudi Arabia hasn’t stopped the U.S. from remaining a strong “ally” of the Saudis nor has it stopped the sales of billions of dollars in weapons to the kingdom.
One final word on the Iran situation is appropriate. On November 29, 2011, Trump tweeted: “In order to get elected, Barack Obama will start a war with Iran.” Oh, the irony! Of course, if he were to be queried on this statement today, Trump would probably just deny it outright, along with a few more jabs at the media, Democrats, and Hillary Clinton.
The way the mainstream media bends over backwards to make the Republican party appear mainstream is sickening. Face the Nation, which has been around since 1954 is as guilty as any other outlet in destroying the credibility of the news media. Normalizing Donald Trump and the Republican party is just not possible, and the efforts of most media outlets to try and normalize them amounts to nothing more than aiding and abetting an increasingly fascist regime.
American workers are suffering more and more hardships due to this administration’s policies. Time and time again, the Trump administration seeks to reverse decades of progress for working Americans. Corporate Accountability tells us: “The Trump administration is attempting to roll back critical protections for working people that have been hard won over the last century. The administration is seeking a Department of Labor Rule change that would make it harder to hold massive corporations accountable for violations of workforce laws and protections—including minimum wage, overtime, and even child labor laws. This is yet another step the Trump administration is taking to expand and entrench corporate power in our democracy, our economy, and people’s lives.” (Taylor Leake, Corporate Accountability, June 20, 2019) If the administration gets its way, it will effectively shield corporations from the consequences of breaking the laws.
It isn’t just working Americans that Trump and his cronies don’t care about; it’s basically everyone except the super rich. Consider what the Department of Agriculture has in store for us. CREDOAction provides the ominous details: “You could be in for a terrible surprise in the near future when you buy or eat meat. That’s because Donald Trump’s Department of Agriculture is looking to cut the federal pork inspection workforce by 40%. Under this proposal, the USDA will replace highly trained federal food inspectors at meat processing facilities with plant employees who may have little or no training and would be responsible for identifying diseased or contaminated meat. In addition, there would be no limits on slaughter-line speeds. The results could be catastrophic: Failing to identify diseased animals could result in a massive public health disaster across the country, costing lives and billions to our economy.” (Josh Nelson, CREDOAction April 22, 2019)
The article elaborates: “Working in a pork slaughterhouse is fast-paced and dangerous—plant workers handle pig carcasses weighing up to 270 pounds at a rate of 977 per hour. Even without Trump’s reckless plan, meat packing workers already suffer illness and injury 2.5 times the national average, and they are seven times more likely to suffer lifelong injuries due to repetitive motion. Speeding up the process could lead to more injuries for workers, many of whom are immigrants and people of color. Shifting inspection responsibilities to plant workers could make matters even worse. Strict food processing regulations—including food inspections performed by competent, trained professionals—are essential to a safe food supply. But under the Trump plan, plant employees would be required to identify contaminated meat, and their training would be left up to the plant owners. One USDA food safety whistleblower characterized the scale of the problem during a pilot program this way: ‘Not only are plant supervisors not trained, the employees taking over USDA’s inspection duties have no idea what they are doing. Most of them come into the plant with no knowledge of pathology or the industry in general.’ Recent events in the aviation industry prove that relaxing regulations and handing over inspections to the industry itself is not only unsafe, it also has dire consequences. After two recent crashes of Boeing 737 airplanes killed more than 300 people, some are now questioning the cozy relationship and conflicts of interest between the Federal Aviation Administration and the airline industry, since the agency had delegated to Boeing much of the testing of its 737 Max jets.”
There is a very dangerous piece of legislation currently being considered in Congress. As with so many other dangerous bills, this one has a positive name. Consumers United for Fairness provides the details, along with a petition to sign: “We know you probably didn’t know about the Secure Act, because Congress doesn’t like to highlight outright giveaways. (And isn’t it funny how often these names for bills mean the opposite?) But the Secure Act would end liability for annuities brokers if they take your retirement savings and go out of business, leaving you with nothing. Sound bad? We thought so. Here’s the long version: The bill is actually called the Setting Every Community UP for Retirement Enhancement Act. Most of what’s included in the bill is actually harmless, and some of it is even helpful. However…the key provision, Section 204, concerns annuities. Financial interests are so eager to get their hands on the trillions of dollars in 401(k) plans. (It’s the primary reason why, no matter what else they pretend it’s about, conservatives from both parties are so willing to undermine Social Security.) And here’s the part that’s so very, very bad for consumers—and why CUFF strongly urges you to sign the petition. The main reason why annuities aren’t part of your company’s 401(k) plan is that right now, if your plan administrator gives employees the option of an annuity that ends up going out of business or ripping off workers, they can be held liable. Under the Secure Act, they can’t.” (Susan Madrak, Consumers United for Fairness, June 25, 2019)
There are many other issues that need to be discussed. One of these is the issue of economic policy. I have always been dumbfounded by people who claim that only Republicans understand economic issues. In fact, just about everything this administration, and the Republican party in general, thinks about economics is false. In my previous article I discussed the nonsensical notion of ‘trickle-down economics’ that started under Ronald Reagan’s administration and which continues to be the mantra of most of today’s Republican leaders, even though it simply doesn’t work. In addition, Trump’s trade war and tariff policy is economically absurd. Climate Hawks Vote gives us some feedback on this: “Economists overwhelmingly agree: Donald Trump’s reckless trade war is terrible economic policy. It puts Americans at risk, hurts U.S. manufacturing and farmers, and raises costs on the backs of consumers. One of Trump’s first moves in his trade war was slapping 30% tariffs on solar panels last year. This hurt one of America’s fastest-growing industries, and led to thousands of jobs lost in the sector. Remind me how this is ‘making America great again?’ (RL Miller, Climate Hawks Vote, June 19, 2019) Of course, the administration’s unstated rationale behind such moves is to bolster the dying fossil fuel industries and stifle innovation.
The article continues: “You and I both know that in order to tackle the climate crisis, we need to deploy solar and other clean energy sources even faster if we have any shot at reducing emissions to sustainable levels. Trump’s dangerous agenda has already set the transition to renewable energy back—and will certainly have lasting consequences on our economy and planet. Beyond the solar industry, Donald Trump has also recently denied tariff relief to companies, like Tesla and GM, and their electric vehicle technology. The administration is actively passing economic harm onto American consumers because ultimately, we (not the corporations) will feel the impact. The damage is already felt across our economy and will surely only get worse.”
I will let People’s Action have the last word on tariffs: “President Trump has shown little interest in removing the steel and aluminum tariffs he imposed more than a year ago despite growing evidence Americans are paying a hefty price for these tariffs and increasing pressure from Republicans in Congress to remove them. U.S. consumers and businesses are paying more than $900,000 a year for every job saved or created by Trump steel tariffs, according to calculations by experts at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. The cost is more than 13 times the typical salary of a steelworker, according to Labor Department data, and it is similar to other economists’ estimates that Trump’s tariffs on washing machines are costing consumers $815,000 per job created. ‘It’s very high. It’s arresting,’ said Gary Hufbauer, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute who did the steel tariff cost calculation. ‘The reason it’s so high is that steel is a very capital-intensive industry. There are not many workers.” (Lenny Sanchez, People’s Action, May 8, 2019)
In my previous articles on the Trump administration, I have focused on the issue of net neutrality. The bottom line is that once Republicans were successful in repealing net neutrality, the equipment and access became limited to only the wealthier patrons. The Save the Internet Act has passed the House of Representatives with overwhelming support, but, as usual, it has bogged down in the McConnell-led Senate. Even though 80 percent of voters support Net Neutrality, McConnell won’t even allow it to come up for a vote. After all, big cable companies know that they have McConnell in their pockets. Common Cause provides some numbers: “In the last election cycle, McConnell received $99K from Comcast, $66K from Verizon, and $49K from AT&T—so it comes as no surprise that he’s doing their bidding by trying to kill this bill.” (Yosef Getachew, Common Cause, June 11, 2019) Everyone deserves equal access to Internet service; as it currently stands, job seekers are having a difficult time staying with the job market, small businesses are hurt because their internet isn’t fast enough. Even students have problems completing their schoolwork. Not that this means anything to McConnell or his fellow right-wingers. Later, I devote an entire chapter to Mitch McConnell, one of the worst individuals ever to hold office in the United States.
Corporate Accountability tells us where we stand: “Right now, corporations have the ability to control which websites you visit, where you get your news, and what programs you can use to listen to music and watch videos on the internet. That’s because one year ago today ‘Big Cable’ corporations like Verizon and Comcast lobbied the Trump administration’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to pass a rule that ended net neutrality. That means these corporations are free to block, slow, or otherwise discriminate against whatever sites, apps, and services they want.” (Taylor Leake, Corporate Accountability, June 11, 2019) Another example of George Orwell’s “big brother” mentality extending far beyond 1984.
I have also discussed the issue of voter suppression in my previous articles and need not repeat myself here. What I will do is quote from an excellent Public Citizen email that puts the issue into perspective: “‘Voting discrimination still exists; no one doubts that.’ But ‘our country has changed.’ And with that line, written six years ago today in the disgraceful Shelby County v. Holder U.S. Supreme Court decision, Chief Justice John Roberts gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965—unleashing a wave of voter suppression across the nation…The Shelby ruling has facilitated rampant racial discrimination at the polls. Soon after the decision, Texas, North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Virginia rushed to impose various measures to suppress voting by African-Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities. And that trend has only worsened. More than two dozen states have imposed new voting restrictions since 2010.” Given this, it should come as no surprise when progressives point out the fundamental racism of today’s Republican party.
When Democrats Turn Out informs us that: “According to a new report by the Brennan Center for Justice, states across the country purged more than 16 million people from voter rolls between 2014 and 2016. Voter suppression is increasing at an alarming rate, leaving countless eligible voters disenfranchised and incapable of participating in our democracy. This practice of removing eligible voters from the rolls came to a head in the 2018 elections with now-Governor of Georgia Brian Kemp’s shameless voter suppression tactics that targeted minority voters and left hundreds of thousands of Georgians—many of whom were likely to vote for Stacey Abrams — in the dust.” (When Democrats Turn Out, June 5, 2019)
Then there are the American concentration camps.
United We Dream pulls no punches on this: “We must call this what it is. These are not shelters. They are not detention centers. These are concentration camps. Full Stop. Large numbers of immigrants and refugees are being held captive. Being denied medication. Being tortured. Being denied basic necessities like soap, or a toothbrush to the point of death. And we have proof, that’s why we developed the tracker of ICE & CBP’s torture and abuse.” (Nestor, United We Dream, June 20, 2019)
Also pulling no punches is Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). The Hill reports her words in an Instagram live video from Monday, June 17, 2019: “Ocasio-Cortez labeled the situation in the U.S. as ‘a crisis’ over whether ‘America will remain America … or if we are losing to an authoritarian and fascist presidency…I don’t use those words lightly. I don’t use those words to just throw bombs. I use that word because that is what an administration that creates concentration camps is,’ she said. ‘A presidency that creates concentration camps is fascist, and it’s very difficult to say that.” (Jessica Campisi, The Hill, June 18, 2019)
Ocasio-Cortez is far from the only politician/celebrity raising her voice against this barbaric remnant of Nazi Germany. People’s Action tells us: “#CloseTheCamps is trending on social media, with users largely rebuking the administration of President Donald Trump and its treatment of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers in the United States. Newsweek: ‘Last Monday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) called the nation’s detention facilities for migrants ‘ concentration camps.’ On Tuesday, she tweeted a link to an Esquire article, in which Andrea Pitzer, a historian of concentration camps, was quoted making a similar claim, saying that: ‘mass detention of civilians without a trial’ was what made the camps concentration camps. Ocasio-Cortez’s full tweet said: ‘This administration has established concentration camps on the southern border of the United States for immigrants, where they are being brutalized with dehumanizing conditions and dying. This is not hyperbole. It is the conclusion of expert analysis.’ Actress Patricia Arquette replied to President Trump in a tweet, goading him to ‘deal with your child abuse riddled detention centers? Get those kids, diapers, toothpaste and toothbrushes, showers, hair brushes, food that is healthy. Blankets and Matresses, toilets, showers and clean clothes. NOW.’” (Chris Simmons, People’s Action, June 24, 2019)
And of course, Vice President Mike Pence, devout Christian that he is, is cagey at best, and outright dishonest at worst when it comes to the concentration camp issue (as he is on just about everything else). Questioned at a recent CNN appearance, Pence showed once again that he couldn’t possibly care less about the abominations taking place in these camps. Daily Kos reports: “Asked about the Trump administration arguing to a federal judge that interned children did not need toothbrushes or soap—materials that prisoners of war would be entitled to, but asylum-seeking children are apparently not—Pence would only demur. ‘I can’t speak to what that lawyer was saying.’ But, Pence continued, it was Democrat’s fault for not giving Trump free rein (and cash) to expand the camps as he has demanded. For lo, as Jesus told his disciples: Not my problem.” (Hunter, Daily Kos, June 23, 2019) Perhaps if Pence asked the millionaires and billionaires who were the beneficiaries of the Republican tax scam to make a donation to help the children, the problem could be solved. But of course, no one believes he, Trump, or any other Republican would do something like that; it’s much more convenient to lash out at the Democrats.
When 24 people, including six children, die at these facilities, it is high time to do something about it. Yet the Trump administration continues to do nothing.
Of course, America’s concentration camps are the offspring of Trump’s silly, immoral and un-American border wall. CREDOAction reports: “Donald Trump and Stephen Miller could make their nightmares of mass deportations a reality as early as next week. Reports of ICE officials preparing for attacks in cities with high immigrant populations are already growing. In far too many communities, ICE will have local law enforcement as willing partners…ICE works with many local sheriffs to carry out deportations. The National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) not only supports jail to deportation programs like 287(g), but also works with anti-immigrant hate groups to push these policies on local jurisdictions. Trump and Miller’s Plan to deport millions will only work if sheriffs and other local law enforcement agencies continue to collaborate with ICE.” (Nicole Regalado, CREDOAction, June 20, 2019) The article continues: “Trump’s latest threat to deport millions of immigrants comes straight out of Stephen Miller’s white nationalist playbook. News of Miller’s mass deportation plan first broke during the last DHS personnel purge when several officials, including former DHS Secretary Kirstien Nielsen, resigned after openly opposing Miller’s agenda. Now with Mark Morgan, and anti-immigrant extremist and Trump-Miller loyalist, leading ICE, there is nothing stopping it from carrying out whatever racist and potentially illegal deportation plan Miller has in store.” The article concludes thusly: “The NSA provides training and resources to local sheriffs, shaping the way they police our communities. A 2017 report revealed that anti-immigrant hate groups like the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) systematically recruited sheriffs to advance its racist agenda. Leaders of the NSA have supported events hosted by FAIR and policies that deputize local police as ICE agents, encourage racial profiling and feed the deportation pipeline.”
In February, Trump declared a “national emergency” so that he could get funding to begin construction on his border wall. Despite Republican assertions to the contrary, there is no emergency. If there were, why didn’t Trump declare it before the government shutdown that began late last year? I’ve asked several Republicans that very question, and gotten no answers, only evasions and attacks on Democrats. Which is par for the course for people who cannot justify their views and actions. Tellingly, after declaring this “emergency,” Trump began his usual rounds on the golf courses. Shouldn’t he have been in Washington to oversee the “crisis?”
CREDOAction informs us of the powers a declaration of national emergency gives the president: “Declaring a state of emergency gives Trump access to more than 100 special powers that allow him to override the laws that protect our civil rights and civil liberties and unleash a range of nightmarish scenarios at the border and in communications across the country. Under a state of emergency, Trump can: 1) Order the military to round up immigrants or stop protests in American cities; 2) order the killing or indefinite detention of people he designates as enemies; 3) freeze assets and block financial transactions of people who hire, house, or provide paid legal representation to asylum seekers; 4) block access to websites and social media tools or disrupt email communication.” (Heidi Hess, CREDOAction, February 15, 2019) In other words, a declaration of national emergency essentially gives a president free, unchecked dictatorial powers. Anyone protesting Trump can be arrested or even killed. Anyone trying to help perceived enemies can have their assets frozen and their emails and websites blocked. If this isn’t the definition of fascism, what is?
The good news is that soon after he declared this fake emergency, no less than sixteen states filed a lawsuit against the president for his illegal power grab. It is illegal because he announced that it would cost billions more than Congress had allotted for the wall’s construction. Congress, after all, is delegated with the responsibility for allotting spending. Trump declared this emergency even though there was no confirmed Secretary of Defense in place. If this emergency were real, Trump would have called on top defense officials to explain what the role of the armed forces would be.
And of course there is the problem of who is going to pay for it. Trump originally promised Mexico would foot the bill, but he’s not talking about that now. Of course he isn’t—the election is over. Not only that, in January, he denied ever having said it. Even Trump’s own security advisors said that there is no current emergency at our nation’s borders. But of course Mitch McConnell went along with Trump, as he always does.
Chuck Schumer commented on Trump’s phony “emergency:” “Well, President Trump did it again. Whenever he can’t get what he wants he tries to change the rules. One day it’s an unconstitutional Muslim ban. The next it’s firing the FBI Director to try to squash an investigation. Today, the issue is his big, beautiful wall. Mexico won’t pay for it. The American people don’t want to pay for it. Even Republicans in Congress don’t want to pay for it. So what did President Trump do? He declared a ‘national emergency’ to get his way—to get his beloved wall. The truth is, declaring a national emergency is a truly lawless act. It’s a gross abuse of the power of the presidency—and it is clear that it is a desperate attempt to distract from the fact that President Trump broke his core promise to have Mexico pay for his wall. It’s never been more clear that this president needs stronger checks on his power than his cronies in the Republican Senate will give him.” (Chuck Schumer, letter to constituents, February 16, 2019)
There are many real emergencies that could have been addressed: The climate threat, the opioid epidemic, gun violence, etc. To say nothing of investigating the criminal in the White House. The only crisis at the border is a humanitarian crisis, and of course Trump is doing nothing about that. The real crisis on this issue is that Trump ignored the separation of powers, a constitutional crisis of his own making.
Big business is raking in big money—billions of dollars—from detaining immigrants. Citing a story from NBC News, Daily Kos reports: “A new report from NBC News has detailed the enormous cost of housing the children and families being detained at the border. Are you sitting down? Because a for-profit, private company is billing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services a whopping $775 per child, per day to hold them in one of the ‘tent cities’ on the Trump administration’s orders. Professor W. Warren Binford, a law professor who is an ‘internationally recognized children’s rights scholar and advocate’ and founder of the Willamette’s Child and Family Advocacy Clinic, visited a Border Patrol detention facility in Clint, Texas, and she told PBS and several other media outlets about the squalid conditions these children are living in—sleeping on concrete floors, children taking care of toddlers, flu outbreak, diapers being reused or no diapers at all. Separated from their loved ones at the border as they turned themselves in to seek asylum and legal entry into the United States. This is a crisis entirely manufactured by the Trump administration as Professor Binford notes that nearly every child she interviewed had a family member in the United States willing to take them in and care for them. Almost none of the children that we interviewed had come across the border themselves alone. Essentially, they came across the border with family. And they are trying to be reunited with family who are living in the United States. Almost every child that I interviewed had family, parents, uncles, aunts, grandparents, siblings here in the United States who are waiting for them and are ready to care for them. Instead they are being held in these facilities for an endless amount of time. How in the world is this fiscally responsible? Republicans are laser-focused on ‘responsible spending’ and we can’t give health care to low-income residents because we must prove how we will pay for every penny in advance. But shelling out $775 per child, per day? They don’t bat an eye. To show you how utterly ridiculous this spending truly is, especially when these children could be released to waiting relatives desperate to see these kids again, I checked into rates at Trump’s D.C. hotel. On the random dates I checked (September 4-6, 2019), the room rate was $395. Throw in a breakfast package and we are looking at $415. These children could be staying in luxury hotels, ordering room service and we’d still be paying half the daily fee. THINK ABOUT THAT! And yet, we are told there isn’t even a budget for these children to have toothpaste, soap, mattresses, bed linens, or diapers. We are paying $775 per day, per child, to hold them in abusive, neglectful situations. (Jen Hayden, Daily Kos, June 25, 2019)
The article continues: “If you are asking yourself why the U.S. government is doing this, well, let’s follow the money. ‘Caging kids is a for-profit enterprise, And the people who profit off camps finance the political campaigns of those who legislate more caging. If you want to follow the money: Geo Group & CoreCivic are big ones.’ (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) ‘$775 per day, per kid and it doesn’t even cover a toothbrush, soap, a bed.’ (Joyce Alene)” Finally, the article notes that: “The ACLU has a brief, but informative, video below about the GEO Group in particular, which makes $1.6 billion per year from government contracts. It is not coincidence whatsoever that private prison companies like GEO Group donate heavily to Republicans and Donald Trump. Their investment is paying off nicely for them at the expense of children dying and living in squalid conditions…We are paying Donald Trump and Republican party donors billions in U.S. taxpayer dollars to abuse these children and families, even though their own families are waiting for them. They have no interest whatsoever in processing these asylum claims in a timely manner. In fact, they’ve made it harder to process claims, allocating fewer resources. So, immigrants pile up at the border, Donald Trump gets to keep feeding red meat to his racist followers with a crisis of his own making, Fox News gets to keep their ratings up with a new ‘immigration scare,’ Republicans cash those private prison checks and see their base motivated to come to the polls. It’s a win-win for Republicans, but a loss for humanity.” It is difficult to reconcile the fact that the same Republicans responsible for this monumental cruelty are also fundamentalist Christians—unless you are willing to consider the possibility that religion just might not be the universal good most people imagine it to be. Few Americans are willing to acknowledge this.
One bit of good news from all this is that on June 26, 2019 Bank of America announced that they will no longer do business with companies that provide prisoner and immigrant detention services. This applies at both the state and federal levels. The bank made this announcement as the public has become increasingly vocal about the injustices being done due to the administration’s inhumane border policies.
The tax scam devised by the Republicans has, to say the least, not shown the benefits the Republicans promised. The mega-rich continue to find ways of avoiding paying their share. People’s Action reports: “Extravagantly wealthy people cheat on their taxes. Regularly. Extravagantly, too. Our super rich are stashing vast chunks of their personal fortunes in offshore tax havens, generating billions annually in new income that—to their governments—goes unseen and untaxed. How deep could that evading run among America’s super rich? The latest IRS stats on tax evasion—from a 2016 report—covered the tax years from 2008 through 2010. They showed a $406-billion ‘tax gap’ between what taxpayers owed Uncle Sam and what they actually paid. But the IRS figures don’t include the billions the super-rich hide from sight in tax havens. Chronic budget underfunding has left the agency woefully understaffed, with not enough resources to adequately investigate—or crack down on—wealthy tax evaders. What do we need to be doing to turn things around? We need to ‘go bold’ on fighting income and wealth concentration. How could we do that? An annual ‘wealth tax’ on the assets of the super rich would go a long way. A mere 2 percent annual levy, multiple studies show, ‘would gradually address the enormous amounts of untaxed wealth accumulated—especially by the top 0.1 percent—over the past few decades.’” (Sam Pizzigati, People’s Action, June 18, 2019) Not that sensible and moral solutions are part of the Republican agenda, of course.
Anyone who has taken the time to read this far will not be surprised at how the system is rigged to shield corporations and the wealthy from paying what they should be paying in income taxes. CREDOAction tells us: “Tax dodgers. Sex traffickers. Drug cartels. Terrorist organizations. Wall Street fraudsters. They all use anonymous shell companies here in the United States to hide money from authorities and get away with their crimes. The 2016 Panama Papers—the leak of thousands of documents from a secretive law firm—blew the world of the tax-dodging elite wide open. But powerful interests fought back and preserved a status quo that allows the powerful to create shell corporations without disclosing who controls or benefits from them. For the first time ever, a bill cracking down on anonymous shell companies just passed out of committee in the House of Representatives. If we speak out now, we could win a major victory against tax-dodging elites and corruption.” (Josh Nelson, CREDOAction, June 14, 2019)
The article continues: “The United States is a haven for tax evasion on par with Switzerland. We are one of the few countries that does not require notice of the real, living person who is creating one of the 2,000 new corporations that appear in America every single year. The legislation in Congress would require all American corporations to disclose their ‘beneficial’ owners—the real, living individuals who own and ultimately control a company—to the government when they are created and keep that information up to date. Anonymous corporations have been used by the Iranian government to escape sanctions and purchase a New York skyscraper, by Mexican cartels to launder millions in drug money through an Oklahoma company, by the super-rich to evade taxes—and even to donate millions in untraceable money to super PACs determined to sway our elections. By some estimates, elites around the world are sitting on around $21 trillion in hidden assets—escaping taxes that could be used to fund badly needed priorities here at home. Even though in a perfect world, the legislation would allow the public access to the records as well, this bill would be an astonishing step forward. It has broad support in Congress—but already, right-wing groups like the Koch Brother’s FreedomWorks are lining up against it.” The magnitude of this scandal, like the numbers related, is unlike any other in our nation’s history. But despite the obviously crucial importance of this legislation, it is receiving scant coverage by the same media Trump decries as “liberal.” One of the many ironies of this ridiculous situation is that Trump became president with his promise to “clean the swamp.” The swamp is Trump’s own. If his swamp doesn’t need cleaning, then what does?
The numbers don’t lie. Americans for Tax Fairness supplies them: “What is preventing the U.S. from making a major new investment in our country’s future? 7,000 corporate lobbyists in Washington who helped Donald Trump ram his tax scam through Congress. And they got a great return on their investment. A new report from our close allies at ITEP shows that 60 profitable Fortune 500 companies avoided paying any federal income taxes in 2018. Amazon reported $1.1 billion in profits and got a tax rebate worth $129 million. General Motors’ 2018 profits were $4.3 billion, and it received a $104 million tax rebate. Pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly made $598 million but got a $54 million tax rebate. That means you alone paid more federal income taxes than all three of these major corporations combined.” (Frank Clemente, Americans for Tax Fairness, April 19, 2019)
Not content with giving over a trillion dollars to America’s super-rich in the worst tax scam in American history, Republicans now want to rob overtime pay to millions of American workers. CREDOAction provides the details: Donald Trump and his Republican lackeys gave corporate executives and Wall Street tycoons a $1.5 trillion tax handout that padded their pockets without creating jobs. His follow-up act is to rob overtime pay from millions of working Americans. An Obama-era rule would have expanded overtime pay to 4 million workers. But the Trump administration helped business interests sabotage the new rule in courts. Now, Trump’s Department of Labor has put forward a drastically watered-down proposal that would cost at least 8.2 million people their hard-earned wages.” (Heidi Hess, CREDOAction, June 23, 2019)
As if this were not enough, the administration now wants to change how the poverty line is adjusted every year; this would enable them to come up with their own “alternative facts” on how the economy is doing. Daily Kos fills us in: “The Trump Administration and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) are planning to change how the poverty line—the income amount that defines who is and who isn’t in poverty—is adjusted for inflation every year. What does this mean? By shrinking the poverty line over time, the Trump administration would reduce the number of people who qualify for health care, nutrition, and other aid. Over time millions of children, working people, retirees, and people with disabilities would have their benefits reduced or would get kicked off assistance entirely—think help for groceries, health care, and even home heating…Every year, eligibility for programs including Medicaid, Affordable Care Act insurance premium subsidies, SNAP and school meals, and home heating and cooling assistance is determined relative to the federal poverty line.” (Erin Tulley, Daily Kos, June 18, 2019)
Trump and his cohorts want to gut the Affordable Care Act, and have filed a lawsuit to that effect, including the part about protecting people with pre-existing conditions. They have no alternative plan, of course. They have said that, should they win the lawsuit, they will come up with an alternative “after” the election. They have given no hints, provided no details or information at all as to what this new “plan” actually would be. This sounds like nothing more than a bluff. They are threatening to take health care away from millions of people, so they need to disclose the details of what this so-called “plan” (assuming there is one) actually encompasses, and they need to do so now, not after the election.
The same people who harp on how well the economy is doing ignore some basic facts. First and foremost is that the barometer of economic growth is the country’s richest people as well as large businesses and corporations and it is no news bulletin to report that these are the groups that have benefitted most from the tax scam. It must not be forgotten that Trump promised American workers $4000 that they never got, one of his most unforgivable lies. People’s Action gives us more information on the economy: “Recent economic reports have President Donald Trump crowing, and the big headline numbers do sound encouraging. And yet most of the gains from our growing economy are still going to those who least need a boost. For ordinary Americans, the slight uptick in wages is not enough to make up for many years of stagnation: Average hourly pay rose just 6 cents in April 2019, while the amount Americans spend on prescription drugs is up 7.1 percent, while the average house price rose 5.7 percent, and childcare costs jumped 7.5 percent. Unless workers have more power to negotiate for their fair share of economic awards, even a real economic boom will have limited benefit for those who need it most.” (Sarah Anderson, People’s Action, May 14, 2019)
The bottom line on the economy is simple. Trump inherited a strong economy from Obama, and all the numbers prove this.
On June 19, 2019, Donald Trump surpassed himself in hypocrisy and stupidity when he gave the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the nation’s highest civilian honor—to Arthur Laffer, the economist who invented the Laffer curve and “trickle-down” economics during the Reagan years. Anyone who has read up on the tax scam or been victimized by it knows that trickle-down economics is an abject failure at every level. So it’s somehow fitting, in a perverse sort of way, that this loser president would give this loser economist an award for a failed idea.
The corruption of Trump’s administration, far from dwindling, seems in fact to be escalating, which is no surprise given the Republican party’s devotion to its fascist president and vice-president, to say nothing of an irresponsible press unwilling to call him to task for his crimes. In my previous articles, I have discussed how Trump is in direct violation of the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which forbids the president from using his office for personal profit. The CREW Team provides us with the latest example: “Room rates at the Trump Hotel have skyrocketed around the Fourth of July this year, when President Trump has planned to hijack and politicize DC’s annual Fourth of July celebration. No other luxury hotel is experiencing such a surge, but no other hotel has its owner giving a speech at the Lincoln Memorial either. An original CREW investigation that we published this week explores the extraordinary increase in rates—yet another example of President Trump profiting from the presidency.” (The CREW Team, June 22, 2019) In addition, NBC News found that at least 22 foreign officials have spent money at Trump properties. As I discussed at length in my previous article, violation of the Emoluments Clause is in itself grounds for impeachment.
Nepotism abounds in the White House, to an unbelievable degree. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, serves as senior White House advisor. Kushner is deeply involved in the Russian scandal, as I have discussed in my previous articles. Corruption seems to run rampant in the Kushner family: His father was convicted and jailed in 2005 for fraud; subsequently Jared took over his real estate business.
Now, it seems that Ivanka Trump is in trouble for violating the Hatch Act. CREW describes what this act does on its website: “The Hatch Act prohibits any executive branch employee from ‘us[ing] his official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election.’ OSC guidance on applying the Hatch Act prohibitions to social media, including Twitter, specifically advises that an employee may not ‘use a Facebook or Twitter account in his official capacity to engage in political activity’ and requires that ‘any social media account created in a federal employee’s official capacity should be limited to official business and remain politically neutral.’ CREW reports: “Assistant to the President Ivanka Trump impermissibly used her Twitter account for government business and partisan politics just three days after the Office of Special Counsel made the unprecedented recommendation that her White House colleague, Kellyanne Conway, be fired for her repeated Hatch Act violations and public disdain for ethics. Trump posted a tweet from her father’s 2016 campaign launch featuring a MAGA sign on the Twitter account she primarily uses for official purposes, a likely violation of the Hatch Act’s prohibition on using government resources for partisan politics. This is yet another clear demonstration of the Trump administration’s utter disregard for ethics laws. Today, CREW filed a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel, asking them to look into this apparent Hatch Act violation by Ivanka Trump. Ten Trump administration officials have already been cited for Hatch Act violations following CREW complaints, including last week’s scathing report from OSC calling for Kellyanne Conway’s firing. Next week, the House Oversight Committee is holding a hearing about the Hatch Act, including Kellyanne Conway’s egregious and repeated flouting of the law. This violation by Ivanka Trump highlights that it is not about ‘one bad apple’—rampant abuse of public office has become a key feature of the Trump White House, and it is a threat to the rule of law.” (Noah Bookbinder, CREW, June 20, 2019)
Interviewed on June 24, 2019, Conway attacked CREW by name and claimed the group is trying to “weaponize the Hatch Act.” CREW responded with an email to constituents, noting: “Expecting government officials to follow the law, and face the consequences if they violate the law, is not weaponizing anything. That’s one of the most basic expectations in a democracy, and if Kellyanne Conway has a problem with that, she should not be serving in the federal government.” (Noah Bookbinder, CREW, June 24, 2019)
Conway is not the only administration official who is violating the Hatch Act. In June, 2019 Stephanie Grishom, Melania Trump’s spokesperson, was named the new White House Press Secretary. The CREW Team informs us that she is only one out of twelve officials in the Trump administration who has been found to be in violation of the Hatch Act. Others included Nikki Haley, Dan Scavino, Jr., Mick Mulvaney, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Haley serves as ambassador to the United Nations, Scavino serves as White House Director of Social Media, Mulvaney serves as director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Sanders currently serves as White House Press Secretary, although she may soon be leaving that post.
There’s much more. CREW reports: “Yesterday we also learned that EPA Assistant Administrator William Wehrum was resigning—reportedly in part thanks to the ethics challenges he was facing. Just last month, CREW filed a complaint about his apparent violation of his ethics agreement by working on issues affecting his previous lobbying clients. Wehrum resigning is a step towards a more ethical EPA, but when the bar was set so low by Scott Pruitt, much more work needs to be done to restore public trust.” (CREW, June 27, 2019)
The Democratic National Committee steadfastly refuses to hold a debate on the climate threat, even though climate researchers have just released some alarming data from research stations in the arctic: There, temperatures are rising to forty degrees above normal, a decades-long trend of warming temperatures that are melting Arctic ice and glaciers in Greenland. But Tom Perez of the DNC doesn’t want a debate; he wants to focus on just one question: “Should the United States return to the Paris agreement?” Of course we should, but there’s so much more involved, and Perez seems afraid of alienating potential voters, and so he refuses to address such critical issues as tracking and gasoline-powered automobiles. But whether he likes it or not, these issues will not go away; again, Democrats need to grow a collective backbone and come out fighting.
And if this were not enough, the Roy Moore nightmare is not yet over. The former Alabama senator, who lost to Democrat Doug Jones in a 2017 special election, has announced he intends to run again. His atrocious record and behavior was covered in detail in my previous articles. Chuck Schumer sent out an email to his constituents reminding them of Moore’s sordid past: “He believes that despite the separation of Church and State, religious law should supersede the Constitution and federal court decisions. He has a record of being kicked off of the Alabama Supreme Court twice. He has zealously attacked LGBTQ rights, abortion access, and our Muslim community. And let’s not forget that he still faces multiple, credible allegations of sexual misconduct with underage women.” (Chuck Schumer, letter to constituents, June 27, 2019) Even though six women have come forward accusing him of predatory behavior when they were younger—some even in their teens—while he was in his thirties, he still has a considerable following in his home state. Alabama, one of the most conservative states in the union, had enough of Moore in 2017, but that hasn’t kept the disgraced former senator from running again. Even Mitch McConnell said: “We’ll be opposing Roy Moore vigorously.” This of course means he will be supporting the other Republican candidates for the post; McConnell did not say if he would continue opposing him if he is the nominee. Trump has remained conspicuously silent on this most recent development. Republicans will always close ranks when a Democrat is part of the equation.
Unfortunately there are a number of Democratic wolves in sheep’s clothing who are at least nearly as corrupt as the dictator-in-chief and his cronies. The Democratic Progress America discusses one such individual: “Rep. Henry Cuellar is Trump’s favorite Democrat. He’s also been showered with money by the same Koch brothers who fund climate deniers, Tea Party extremists, and right-wing judges…While Rep. Cuellar promises that political donations from conservative interests don’t affect his actions as a member of Congress, his voting record tells another story. In the last Congress, Cueller voted with Donald Trump nearly 70% of the time. He’s received an ‘A’ rating from the NRA and voted to fund Trump’s border wall while publicly opposing it. Cuellar is an outspoken supporter of the fossil fuel industry and backs increased drilling, fracking and oil exports and does little to address climate change in Congress.” (Mike Phelan, Progress America, June 19,2019) I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: With Democrats like this, who needs Republicans?
Despite the enormity of his crimes, there remain powerful Democrats opposed to undertaking impeachment proceedings against the president. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is one of these misguided individuals. People’s Action tells us why: “Speaker Pelosi’s continued refusal to allow the House to open impeachment proceedings against President Trump is becoming increasingly incoherent. And her continued assertion that her decision is not about politics is becoming downright unbelievable. How is it credible to claim, as Pelosi has, that Trump has committed crimes serious enough to put him in jail, but not serious enough to commence the Constitution’s main remedy for addressing Presidential wrongdoing—impeachment? The only coherent reason is that she fears the politics of impeachment, not the process—and therein lies the rub. It’s politically irresponsible for Democrats to claim Trump has broken the law and betrayed the Constitution, then not hold impeachment hearings. This only makes Democrats appear weak and unprincipled. And appearing weak and unprincipled is bad politics, especially when voters want authenticity and accountability.” (Miles Mogulescu, People’s Action, June 25, 2019) There is only one word that explains Pelosi’s lack of action: Cowardice.
The facts speak for themselves; I have already covered most of Trump’s impeachable offenses in an earlier article. I will provide a brief summary here. This is in response to a Trump supporter who asked me to “please name some impeachable offenses.” The question itself illustrates how ignorant and ill-informed Trump supporters can be, but here is the response I gave him: “Impeachable offenses? OK. For starters, ignoring the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. For another, obstruction of justice. For another, conspiring to solicit and then conceal illegal foreign assistance in his presidential campaign. For another, directing law enforcement to investigate and prosecute political adversaries, as well as anyone who dares criticize him. For another, abusing the power to pardon individuals. For another, advocating illegal violence. For another, undermining equal protection under the law. For another, the reckless endangerment of threatening unwinnable nuclear war. Finally, attacking freedom of the press. Is that enough for you? Any one of these is an impeachable offense. What we need is a Democratic party with enough backbone to stand up to this immoral tyrant and begin impeachment hearings—now!”
I have already gone into considerable detail about how this administration is hell-bent on destroying our environment in the name of corporate polluter’s profits. Sierra Club is well-aware of the threat: “Did you know that polluters are guaranteed by the federal government to make an outrageous profit, as high as 14%, on building gas and oil pipelines? As a result, this has encouraged more fracking and a massive overbuild of pipelines—destroying our lands, communities, and waters and inflating our utility bills to line utility CEO’s pockets!” (Joan Walker, Sierra Club, June 22, 2019) The article concludes: It’s time to stop giving handouts to polluters. The current guaranteed return on investment is driving polluting corporations to double down on fossil fuel development. They should be transitioning to renewable energy sources, like solar or wind. These are available and affordable now—even with the playing field tipped in fossil fuels’ favor.”
As unbelievable as it may seem, some 150 members of Congress currently believe that the climate threat is all fake news—or at least, that is what they say. This clearly indicates that the Republican party is, as I have referred to it earlier, a rogue party. They walk hand in hand with corporate polluters and will do nothing at all to address the harm those polluters are doing to us and our environment.
The fact that the climate crisis is real is agreed upon by no less than 97 percent of climate scientists; for them and for the overwhelming majority of the world’s population, the issue is settled and we need to be taking appropriate action to counter the threat. But naturally, Donald Trump selects the few scientists who deny that human activity is causing irreversible damage to our planet to serve on his special climate panel. Climate Hawks Vote takes it from there: “Trump wants to set up a Presidential Committee on Climate Security by executive order. Not to discuss the myriad ways in which climate change multiplies threats of war around the globe. Not to examine the effect of sea level rise on America’s soggy naval bases. But to question well established climate science used by intelligence agencies. And he wants to appoint William Happer, who thinks that excessive carbon is a good thing rather than a pollutant, to run it…Happer is not trained as a climate scientist. But he is willing to write academic-ish papers, for pay, touting the benefits of carbon dioxide. (He thought he was going to be paid by an anonymous Middle Eastern oil company; alas for him, it turned out to be a Greenpeace sting operation.) In other words, he and Trump deserve each other.” (RL Miller, Climate Hawks Vote, March 8, 2019)
Climate science deniers are exactly like creationists and intelligent design advocates. They offer no evidence of their own but content themselves with attacking the available evidence that they don’t like. Just as creationists are not scientists (they have no explanation of how their god actually does the creating), so climate deniers are not real scientists because they are offering nothing to address the problem. Denial is not a solution.
As always, the Trump White House is determined to undo everything the Obama administration had accomplished. Obama’s Clean Power Plan, designed to regulate carbon pollution from power plants, is about to be replaced by Trump’s ridiculously misnamed “Affordable Clean Energy rule.” The rule is neither affordable nor clean. It’s nothing more than another effort to assist the declining coal industry—Trump’s “beautiful, clean coal.”
This plan, as reported by Climate Hawks Vote, sets no targets at all: “Rather, it just sorta assumes that gradual changes in the energy market will lead to adoption of cleaner fuels, through the magic of the marketplace, by 2035.” (RL Miller, Climate Hawks Vote, June 20, 2019) The 2035 date is five years after the estimated crisis date propounded by the world’s leading scientists who warn that the planet will be irreversibly damaged if nothing is done to address the climate threat by 2030. How convenient for the corporate polluters! This so-called plan is nothing less than a full-scale encouragement for corporate polluters to continue on their merry way. If this were not enough, it also gives coal plants three years to write their own plans!
The Climate Hawks Vote article continues: “And the environmental Protection Agency’s own analysis assumes that the ACW rule will cause up to 1,400 additional deaths per year from respiratory illnesses. Therefore—and here’s the assault on truth—Trump’s EPA will rewrite the rules underlying that analysis. So it won’t have to count those deaths. They’ll still happen, but the EPA will wash the blood off its hands. This policy is flat out malevolent.”
CREDOAction provides us with more damning evidence of how the EPA has become, under an increasingly fascist Republican regime, an instrument serving not the health and well-being of the American people, but rather an instrument serving corporate polluters and their Republican lackeys: “Just days after Trump took office, the EPA started erasing the words ‘climate change’ across its website. The goal was clear: Hide the climate crisis so that oil, coal and gas companies can keep making billions…After two years under the Trump administration, the EPA website is riddled with missing links and redirecting pages that obscure once easily found information. One section that provided local communities with resources for fighting climate change disappeared for months. When it reappeared, it included just 175 of its 380 pages. Public information on climate change matters. Without it, many people won’t recognize the severity of the crisis and will not be motivated to act—which is part of why the EPA wants to hide it. Pretending the climate crisis doesn’t exist also helps the EPA to justify ignoring it in policymaking. The sustained attacks on our environment over the past two years are enabled by an agency burying its head in the sand. The website changes reflect a broader attack on science and scientists under the Trump administration. Government climate scientists report being prohibited from attending conferences or speaking publicly about their work. Scientific advisory boards have been disbanded. Funding for research has been cut. The ultimate effect of this censorship is to suppress scientific information when we need it most. Since the EPA’s move to censor climate science from the public, temperatures keep rising. Hurricanes Irma, Maria and Harvey inflicted billions in damage. Wildfires in California devoured thousands of homes and tragically took over 100 lives.” (Brandy Doyle, CREDOAction, March 25, 2019) Ignoring the climate threat is only one part of the administration’s strategy that does not bode well for the future, to say the least. Taking the United States out of the Paris climate accord, turning public lands over to the coal industry, and even eliminating rules that eliminate toxic greenhouse gas emissions should tell anyone where the administration stands on public health. Trump and his corporate supporters can bury their heads in the sand on the climate threat, but if it’s not addressed soon, we can expect untold disasters in the very near future. Ignoring science and attacking scientists will not make the climate threat disappear.
Climate Hawks Vote printed an ominous example of global warming that will ultimately have dire consequences: “A hole wider than the island of Manhattan is eating away at one of Antarctica’s fastest melting glaciers. And it’s bad news for all of us. You’ve probably never heard of the Thwaites Glacier, but it’s reshaping our world. During the last five years, it’s melted a hole at its base. Fourteen billion tons of ice have already melted, an ominous signal that the glacier itself is melting faster than scientists thought possible. If the glacier melts entirely, it adds ten feet of sea level rise. That’s enough to make parts of Miami, New York, and San Francisco uninhabitable.” (RL Miller, Climate Hawks Vote, February 1, 2019) This horrifying scenario graphically illustrates why we need to pass the Green New Deal.
The Green New Deal is an economic stimulus package that deals with two separate but related issues: The climate threat and income inequality. The Sierra Club webpage tells us: “It would mobilize vast public resources to help us transition from an economy built on exploitation and fossil fuels to one driven by dignified work and clean energy. The status quo economy leaves millions behind. While padding the pockets of corporate polluters and billionaires, it exposes working class families, communities of color, and others to stagnant wages, toxic pollution, and dead-end jobs. The climate crisis only magnifies these systemic injustices, as hard-hit communities are hit even harder by storms, droughts, and flooding. Entrenched inequality, meanwhile, exacerbates the climate crisis by depriving frontline communities of the resources needed to adapt and cope.” The site also lists some of the benefits from the package: “1) A Green New Deal would help us swiftly transition to a clean energy economy. By investing in smart grids for renewable energy distribution, encouraging energy-efficient manufacturing, and expanding low-emissions public transit, a Green New Deal would significantly reduce climate pollution. 2) A Green New Deal would replace lead pipes, clean up hazardous waste sites, and reduce toxic air and water pollution from oil, gas, and coal. Those benefiting the most would be the communities of color and low-income families who today endure disproportionate exposure to toxins. 3) A Green New Deal would help working class families slash their energy bills and reduce their transit costs by offering more energy-efficient homes, access to affordable wind and solar power, and more reliable options for affordable public transportation.”
Clearly, this package is a win-win situation for everybody, as well as for the planet. Except for, of course, Republicans and their dirty fuel industry backers. A Sierra Club email fills us in: “Momentum is growing behind the Green New Deal—a visionary plan to fight the climate crisis while creating jobs and addressing inequality. But Trump’s NAFTA 2.0 is putting all those goals at risk. Trump’s deal is a giveaway to corporate polluters, and would shift more US jobs and US pollution into other countries. It would help corporations dodge climate regulations, encourage more dependence on oil and gas, and give incentives to companies to outsource jobs. In fact, NAFTA 2.0 could extend Trump’s deregulatory agenda beyond his Presidency and allow the fossil fuel lobby to prevent future climate action.” (Ben Beachy, Sierra Club, June 25, 2019) The article lists five different ways that Trump’s Nafta 2.0 threatens the Green New Deal. “1) It would allow corporations to dodge climate policies by outsourcing pollution, 2) It would threaten incentives for U.S. green manufacturing [and jobs], 3) It would lock us in to more dependency on oil and gas, 4) it would help corporate polluters delay or weaken new climate regulations, and 5) It would let Chevron and Exxon sue Mexico in private tribunals for enacting climate policies.” As is the case with every Republican bill, Nafta 2.0 is a giveaway to corporate polluters that can only harm the economy, the country, and the people living in it.
Naturally, Mitch McConnell is against the Green New Deal, and has resorted to some particularly stupid (and false) reasons to attack it. He claims it is socialistic, which it isn’t. Ditch Mitch adds: “This week, Mitch McConnell published an op-ed in the Louisville Courier Journal about how he plans to bring the Green New Deal up for a vote in the Senate (even though he plans to vote against it), because he wants to force Senate Democrats to say on the record if they support it. In his op-ed, McConnell rails against the Green New Deal proposal, repeatedly calling it ‘socialism’ and falsely claiming that every American family would have to pay $65,000 every year for the next decade in order to pay for it.” (Ditch Mitch, March 7, 2019)
Call it what you will, NAFTA is a scheme that only benefits the rich. People’s Action tells us: “Mick Mulvaney, the millionaire who is President Trump’s acting chief of staff and director of the Office of Management and Budget, has awarded himself another job: spokesman for labor. Referring to the proposed new NAFTA, he told the Wall Street Journal, ‘We know that labor supports it.’ That’s the problem with NAFTA, old and new. One percenters like Mulvaney negotiate the deals, then claim they speak for labor. But they don’t give a damn about jobs or wages or workers’ welfare. The ravages NAFTA has inflicted on the non-rich prove that. The proposed new NAFTA is barely different. And Mulvaney, while he wants to usurp labor’s voice, is far from labor’s mouthpiece. Labor speaks for itself. And it is railing against NAFTA, old and new. Ultimately, labor needs trade deals negotiated with workers at the table from the start to ensure human well-being is the priority in trade, not one-percenters’ greed.” (Leo Gerard, People’s Action, June 27, 2019) The very idea of a millionaire like Mulvaney claiming to be the spokesperson for the work labor force is laughable, but the media, as usual, declines to point this out.
Recently, many companies have begun to realize that the climate crisis is exactly that. This has had multitudinous ramifications, some of them quite subtle. For example, many restaurants now only serve straws upon request. This is because plastic is one of the worst culprits in the pollution war. Environment America is leading the charge in informing the public about the hazards of plastic: “In just 30 short years, the plastics industry will generate as much greenhouse gas pollution as 615 coal-fired power plants. Nearly all plastic is made from fossil fuel sources. Not only to plastics pollute our land and water and kill wildlife, but even their production releases some of the worst greenhouse gases. It’s like pouring gas on the fire of our climate crisis…Plastic is already everywhere—in the depths of the Mariana Trench, on the tallest peaks of the Pyrenees Mountains, and frozen in Arctic sea ice. Now cases of death by plastic are piling up. Last month, a young sperm whale washed ashore dead with a stomach full of plastic—the fifth whale in five months just in Italy. And then there’s the whale that washed up in the Philippines in March with 88 pounds of plastic in its body. And the whale shark in Indonesia in February that died from starvation after eating a large plastic bag.” (Ed Johnson, Environment America, June 25, 2019) The group has had some excellent successes, as the article discloses: “We led the charge to make Maine the first state in the country to ban polystyrene foam takeout containers, and the third state to ban single-use plastic bags. We helped pass a polystyrene container ban in Maryland with overwhelming support. Thanks to years of campaigning and organizing, our sister group Environment California successfully passed a ban on single-use plastic bags in California.”
Environmental Action tells us more: “Scientists have now found plastic in the gut of every single sea turtle species…And it’s not just turtles—starfish, whales and other sea creatures are ingesting plastic, and some are dying from it…Many plastic products are things we use for only minutes or seconds—but they stay in the environment for centuries after we throw them out. Despite the risks, 18 billion pounds of plastic waste end up in our oceans every year. Meanwhile, the stories of ocean creatures dying by plastic are piling up: In November, a dead sperm whale washed ashore in Indonesia with 115 drinking cups, 15 plastic bags, plastic bottles, two flip-flops and more plastic trash in its stomach. Last June, a dying pilot whale was found off the coast of Thailand, after having swallowed more than 80 plastic bags. Last April, another dead sperm whale washed up on a beach in Spain with 64 pounds of plastic and waste in its stomach.”(Environmental Action, January 21, 2019)
Allow me to shift gears for a moment and focus on an issue that at first may appear peripheral, but is in fact closely related to the topic at hand.
One of the biggest ironies in the Republican party is seen in how they view states’ rights. One of the biggest mantras throughout their history is to “get government off people’s backs” by promoting states’ rights. But when states do things that threaten Republican status quo, all of a sudden they change course and become firm nationalists. Stand.earth provides us with one example: “The Trump administration has announced that they are looking to strip California’s ability to regulate car emissions that damage our lungs, hearts, and brains, as well as emissions that are potent greenhouse gases. What’s more, Trump’s move would prevent the state from putting more zero-emission vehicles on the road.” (Mary Zieser, Stand.earth, June 14, 2009) This action can be understood on two main levels: one, this is further proof that the administration doesn’t care about the health of its citizens, and two, progressive legislation of any kind is viewed as a threat to their moneyed, dirty fuel sponsors. States’ rights be damned; Republicans want all Americans to go with their playbook.
On April 10, 2019, Trump made perhaps his most dangerous attack on the climate threat movement. According to 350.org: “Trump signed two executive orders to take away your state’s power to stop dangerous new pipelines and protect us from their climate-wrecking and water-polluting impacts. These orders are designed to suppress our years-long work opposing pipelines and fighting for renewable energy in states like New York, Nebraska and beyond, and to install by fiat a future where backroom deals override the voice of the people.” (May Boeve, 350.org, April 10, 2019) Again, what happened to states’ rights?
Water is of course essential for the health and well-being of all living things, not that this matters to Trump. Sierra Club details just what Trump’s Dirty Water rule would mean for the country: “If the president gets his way, the safeguards for our kid’s drinking water would be slashed so that corporate polluters could taint America’s waterways. The Dirty Water Rule sacrifices the water our kids drink and swim in for the profits of special interests. Trump’s Dirty Water Rule cancels protections for millions of Americans’ drinking water; a clear and unprecedented attack on their health and the last thing our communities need. Without clean water, our communities cannot be healthy and they cannot thrive. Hunters and anglers know that the health of fish and wildlife habitat depends on clean water. That’s why 83 percent of America’s hunters and anglers support applying Clean Water Act protections to our nation’s smaller streams and wetlands. Trump is threatening the outdoor recreation economy—an economy that supports 7.6 million jobs and $887 billion in consumer spending. Furthermore, polluted water has a huge impact on local economies and businesses. Breweries, outdoor recreation companies, and tourism focused businesses rely on clean water to power their local economies and create jobs. Our nation’s water experiences some of the biggest impacts of climate change. Warmer water allows harmful algae to grow and increased flood events introduce contaminants into the water supply. Not only is Trump failing to address the climate crisis—his Dirty Water Rule would greatly exacerbate the negative impacts of a changing climate by eliminating protections. The rules that protect our streams, wetlands, and drinking water should be clear and consistent and should apply to everyone. Corporate interests like developers, pipeline operators, and fossil fuel companies don’t deserve special treatment or exemption.” (Dalal Aboulhosan, Sierra Club, April 7, 2019
This next bit of information is so far off the radar as to be unbelievable, were we not living in the time of Trump. Climate Hawks Vote reports the whole sordid story: “Even by today’s hyper-polarized climate politics, this one boggles the mind. Every single one of Oregon’s state senate Republicans has fled the state rather than vote on a climate bill. They’re holed up in Idaho with right wing militias, threatening violence if the Oregon governor tries to retrieve them. Over a climate bill. It all started when Oregon came close to passing a climate bill modeled on California law, which they’ve been working on for over a decade. Enter Oregon’s state senate Republicans, stage right. To make it palatable to them, the bill was watered down and is now immensely complicated. The bill, HB 2020, passed a key committee last Monday, awaiting only a vote in the state Senate. Last May Republicans walked out over a teacher’s strike, then returned with a promise not to walk out again. Exit Oregon’s state senate Republicans, stage far right. Now the Senate Republicans are hiding somewhere in Idaho with right wing militias, threatening violence against the governor if she sends state police to retrieve them. Over a CLIMATE BILL.” (RL Miller, Climate Hawks Vote, June 24, 2019) Only in today’s America could such a ridiculous scenario be enacted: Republicans actually threatening physical violence should anyone dare to retrieve them to do the job they were elected to do. Unbelievable.
One of these is the Grauer gorilla. Most of them live in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where poachers, rebels, and illegal mining have reduced their numbers to less than four thousand. They are losing their habitats, and dying off for any number of reasons, including the adults who are hunted for their meat, illegal mining, and civil unrest.
In Alaska, another fragile ecosystem is under threat. CREDOAction reports: “This week, fishermen in Alaska’s Bristol Bay kicked off the commercial salmon season in the world’s largest and most valuable salmon fishery. Every year, 40 to 60 million wild salmon return to Bristol Bay which is part of a thriving ecosystem unlike anywhere else on earth. But these epic salmon runs may be endangered by a massive, open-pit copper and gold mine that would contaminate billions of gallons of water. The proposed mine would threaten the salmon fishery, the 14,000 jobs it supports, the local ecosystem and half of the world’s sockeye salmon. The fishery is a renewable, sustainable resource that will continue to provide healthy food and power the regional economy as long as the water quality and salmon habitat are protected. The proposed Pebble Mine, on the other hand, would be a disaster. Its ore would be shipped to Asia and its profits to a Canadian mining company but its destructive environmental impact would remain in Bristol Bay. The environmental impact is profound—including the permanent loss of over 80 stream miles, the creation of a pit lake with 61 billion gallons of contaminated water and water pollution that will require water treatment in perpetuity. An EPA scientific risk assessment determined that a mining operation of this size would have unacceptable consequences for the Bristol Bay salmon fishery. The proposed Pebble Mine would exceed the EPA’s recommended safety limits on mine waste disposal in Bristol Bay waters.” (Brandy Doyle, CREDOAction, June 27, 2019)
Environmental Action informs us of another example that threatens a national treasure: “A Utah utility is planning on building a nuclear power plant at the Idaho National Laboratory site, where the experimental new reactors will be close enough to threaten Grand Teton National Park. The doorstep of an incredible natural treasure is never a good place to put a nuclear plant, let alone test drive one. Wind, solar and other renewable options are more efficient than ever. Why would we invest in expensive and dangerous nuclear power plants—especially new, untested modular reactors? The new reactors are so different from existing technology that current regulations don’t accommodate them. The new project is ‘pushing for lots of exemptions and exceptions’ as it barrels towards opening as soon as 2026. But we can’t afford any questions of safety when it comes to nuclear power. Generating electricity with nuclear is intrinsically hazardous: It creates waste that remains dangerous for thousands of years. In dire cases, cooling systems fail and reactor cores melt down, leading to explosions that fling radioactive material into the environment.” (Environmental Action, June 14, 2019)
Most ominously, and showing the inherent fascism in Donald Trump, he now wants to make protests against his policies a federal crime. People’s Action notes: “Building on efforts by multiple states to crack down on those fighting the construction of climate-destroying fossil fuel infrastructure, the Trump administration unveiled a proposal on Monday that would criminalize pipeline protests at the federal level and hit demonstrators with up to 20 years in prison. The new proposal, released by Transportation Department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, was immediately denounced by environmentalists as a serious threat to the First Amendment. ‘This dangerous proposal threatens to undermine Americans’ right to peaceful assembly and free speech,’ Kelly Martin, director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Dirty Fossil Fuels campaign, said in a statement. ‘It is a blatant attempt to intimidate those who would exercise their First Amendment rights to speak out against pipeline projects that put our clean water, communities, and climate at risk.’” (Blue Carreker, People’s Action, June 4, 2019)
The U.N. climate talks ended on June 28, 2019. The results were mixed, according to Corporate Accountability: “Governments from countries most affected by the climate crisis rejected the push by obstructionist governments and Big Polluters to put industry-driven market-based schemes at the core of Paris Agreement implementation. Governments passionately pushed for real, just solutions like ending fossil fuel subsidies, financing renewable energy technology, and more.” (Sriram Madhusoodanan, Corporate Accountability, June 29, 2019)
The article also discusses the role of the United States in the climate crisis: “Going into these talks, we and our allies knew that to advance a conflict-of-interest policy that could kick Big Polluters out, we’d need to expose and challenge the U.S. government and its allies’ role in pushing polluter-friendly policy. So, in partnership with allies at the climate talks and around the world, we organized escalating actions through social media, video, email action, phone calls, and press conferences demanding Global North governments side with people, not polluters and the U.S. government. Over a series of five meetings, Global North governments, led by the U.S., attempted to end debate on conflicts of interest…even as delegates representing nearly 50 countries called for such a policy. As the movement’s collective power grew, the U.S. was increasingly alone in its shameless fronting for Big Polluter interests. In the end, the U.S. had to resort to intimidation, distraction, and dirty tricks to block a conflict-of-interest policy from moving forward—for now. This doesn’t stop this issue from being placed back on the agenda next year. So you can bet it’s not over…As we look toward the next global climate meeting in Chile this December, we know we’ll have a big fight ahead of us. Big Polluters will be there to make sure their profits are protected.” My only question is: Why were the big polluters and the United States even invited to this conference? Everyone knows the U.S. government is utterly beholden to corporate polluters; it would have sent a positive message that the world is moving on—without United States interference.
The United States is at a crossroads. Either the American people will wake up and insist that Donald Trump be impeached for his numerous crimes, or else we will become a completely fascist state. There is no middle ground. Trump is a fascist, pure and simple. He has no respect for the Constitution or the laws of the land. He attacks the free press. He does not act in the interests of the people. He is the most shameless liar in the history of the republic. Every thing the man says and does constitutes further proof that he wants to wield dictatorial powers. He is already doing so on any number of different issues.
Daily Kos ran a fascinating, although terrifying, article that shows how this vainglorious man wants to punish anyone who disagrees with him, or who he thinks threatens him. It is entitled: “Trump is Turning Every Intelligence Agency into an Instrument of his Private Revenge.” Although long, it deserves to be quoted at length: “Donald Trump has authorized Attorney General William Barr to sift through the classified documents of every U.S. intelligence agency looking for material he can use against anyone he perceives as an opponent. This action represents a weaponizing of the entire intelligence network, in essence turning all of the FBI, CIA, NSA and more into an opposition research organization. Not only does this action threaten the integrity of our government, it also challenges the security of the services involved. In presenting unilateral authority for Barr to declassify material as he pleases, Trump places in danger both the processes and the assets of the agencies involved. From techniques, to technologies, to sources, to the most sacred item of any intelligence agency—the names and locations of agents in the field—there is no aspect of national security unchallenged by the action Trump has taken.
Perhaps it is time to examine just what the word “freedom” means to today’s Republicans. People’s Action is spot-on accurate: “America is having a heated debate about the meaning of the word socialism. We’d be better served if, instead, we were debating the meaning of freedom. The words freedom and liberty are iconic in American culture—probably more so than with any other nation because they’re so intrinsic to the literature, declarations and slogans of our nation’s founding. The irony—of the nation founded on the world’s greatest known genocide (the systematic state murder of tens of millions of Native Americans) and over three centuries of legalized slavery and a century and a half of oppression and exploitation of the descendants of those slaves—is extraordinary. It presses us all to bring true freedom and liberty to all Americans. But what do those words mean? The billionaire class and their wholly owned Republican politicians keep trying to tell us that ‘freedom means the government doesn’t provide any of the things FDR fought so hard to offer to Americans through the New Deal. Instead, they tell us (as Ron Paul famously did in a GOP primary debate years ago) that, if we’re broke and sick, we’re ‘free’ to die like a feral dog in the gutter. Freedom is homelessness, in the minds of the billionaires who own the GOP.” (Sam Pizzigati, People’s Action, March 22, 2019) Further evidence of how the GOP feels about the less privileged.
Anyone who still thinks that Donald Trump doesn’t lie is in dire need of a reality check. There has never been a more consummate liar in the entire history of the Republic. And this at a time when so much is at stake. A recent rally in Orlando Florida gave further proof of how he is willing to say anything he wants, knowing his followers will eat it up and the mainstream media will either ignore it or else downplay it as just “Donald being Donald.” CNN gave a report which, although long, deserves to be quoted:
The article goes on to list other lies made at this rally, including the now predictable lies against Hillary Clinton, lies about China, lies about factory production. Lies about unemployment and wages, lies about trade, lies about manufacturing, lies about experimental medications, lies about the Veterans Choice program, lies about protecting parents with pre-existing conditions and, of course, lies about healthcare.
Several things stand out in this article. First, Trump’s assertion that the Russian investigation was illegal because there was no crime committed, is so ludicrous that it’s hard to believe even someone as bereft of brain cells as the president could make it. By Trump’s reasoning, anyone accused of a crime can claim that the crime did not occur, and consequently there will be no trial. Next, Trump blames Obama for doing nothing about the Russian scandal, but exactly what has he done to aid investigators to get to the truth of the matter? The answer is obvious: Exactly nothing. In fact, he has fought the investigation at every turn. Clearly Trump is talking out of both sides of his mouth. He claims Obama should have acted, and then does a complete about-face with regard to his own statements and actions. Finally, let Trump tell the people of Flint Michigan how clean their water is and see what kind of feedback he gets. Perhaps they will invite him over for a drink of their tap water.
When Democrats Turn Out: “The Washington Post reported this week that the president’s rate of lying to the American people is increasing exponentially: ‘The president averaged nearly 5.9 false or misleading claims a day in his first year in office. He hit nearly 16.5 a day in his second year. So far in 2019, he’s averaging nearly 22 claims a day. The president lies about everything from his high school grades to the existence of a national emergency at the border and, all the while, he degrades our faith in the office.” (When Democrats Turn Out, March 6, 2019)
How can anyone with half a brain take anything this man says seriously?
As this goes to press, the lies continue, and the press continues to normalize them. Progressive Majority tells us: “Before Trump’s recent trip to Iowa, the president held an impromptu press conference on the White House lawn. He took questions and made more than a few odd comments, including such gems as: ‘The farmers are my best friend…’ and ‘Nobody has treated the farmers better than Donald Trump.’ He also claimed that his ‘poll numbers are great.’ But we all know that’s not the case. According to the latest Gallup poll, only 43% approve of the job Trump is doing while 55% disapprove.” (Progressive Majority. June 25, 2019)
One of the biggest lies of all concerns his supposed business acumen. Most Trump supporters insist that he is a great businessman, but the facts indicate quite the opposite. I have already gone into considerable detail on this in my previous articles, but here I will simply quote from Need to Impeach: “Per tax information obtained by the New York Times, from 1985 to 1994, Trump appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer. Trump pointed to his business acumen when he ran for president, but he lost over $1 billion during those 10 years. Fox and Friends can spin it all they want, but his businesses (including casinos, a famously lucrative business), lost money every year, and based on available IRS information, his core business losses in 1990 and 1991 were more than twice that of the next taxpayer.” (Need To Impeach, May 31, 2019)
I am going to give a quote on another of the biggest lies Trump and the Republicans continue to regurgitate ad nauseum: the notion that the media is overwhelmingly liberal. A favorite whipping boy of Trump is the New York Times, which he constantly refers to as “fake news.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Daily Kos provides us with irrefutable evidence that this media outlet is, if not directly in Trump’s pocket, at least complicit in supporting his radical agendas and in refusing to call him to task for just about anything: “This weekend the Times buried jaw-dropping news that military and intelligence officials aren’t briefing Trump on certain issues for fear that he’ll tell foreign officials 21 paragraphs into a story about cyber-warfare. Twenty-one paragraphs! This is not an isolated incident: The paper famously refuses to use the word ‘lie’ to describe Trump’s blatant gas lighting of the American public; they ran a straight-up hit piece on Joe Biden that was pushed by a Republican operative, and was widely criticized by journalists after publications; and earlier this week it was reported that the Times is refusing to let its reporters appear on certain MSNBC shows, including Rachel Maddow’s. And this is just the last few weeks. This is the newspaper, after all, who let Judith Miller feed the American public lies about Saddam Hussein’s supposed weapons of mass destruction, giving George Bush cover to launch his disastrous war. And it’s also the same newspaper who had several dozen reporters ‘investigating’ the Hillary Cllinton email non-story, while simultaneously ignoring Donald Trump’s business records, fraudulent non-profit foundation, and a campaign aided and abetted by a hostile foreign power. The New York Times is not liberal. And neither is the rest of the traditional corporate media.” (Markos Moulitsas, Daily Kos, June 18, 2019) Saying the media is liberal is a perfect example of the old maxim that a lie repeated over and over eventually is accepted as truth.
The Times is also reticent to report the climate threat for what it is. And this caused a major incident on June 23, 2019. People’s Action reports: “Hundreds of people descended on the headquarters of the New York Times on Saturday to demand the ‘paper of record’ drastically improve its coverage of the global climate crisis and specifically demanded its reporters refer to the situation as a ‘climate emergency’ in alignment with what the world’s scientific community is warning. Coordinated by Extinction Rebellion NYC, 70 people were reported arrested after the group staged a sit-in on Eight Avenue in midtown Manhattan in order to bring attention to the failure of the paper—and that of the journalism industry overall—to adequately report on the global urgency of skyrocketing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, rapidly warming oceans, and all the associated perils that result. The group hung banners in front of the Times building as well as from the Port Authority Bus Terminal on the other side of the street. Standing on the street corner, scores of people repeated the chant: ‘Report the urgency, this is a climate emergency!’” (Mike Mogulescu, People’s Action, June 25, 2019)
So much for the “liberal” New York Times! Now let’s look at one of the most disturbing accusations leveled against Donald Trump, one that (here we go again!) has been almost completely neglected by the media.
Carroll is far from being the only woman who has or is accusing Trump of rape. In fact, Carroll was the twenty-second woman to do so. Why is this not all over the news? When Bill Clinton was accused of having sex with “that woman,” the news media covered every single aspect of the case. Yet, they give Trump a pass. Why? Is having extra-marital sex a scandal because Clinton was a Democrat while raping countless women is not because Trump is a Republican? What is going on here?
Here are some quotes from Donald Trump while on the campaign trail in 2016: “I was the first & only potential GOP candidate to state there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid.” “Now, also at stake in tomorrow’s election are your Medicare benefits. That’s a big deal. Democrats want to raid Medicare to find socialism. It won’t last long. Republicans will protect Medicare for our great seniors who have earned it.” “Republicans stand for protecting Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid and strengthening the safety net for truly needy Americans.” (The Democrats, March 11, 2019) Quoting from The Washington Post, the article then notes: “‘Republicans stand for protecting Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid and strengthening the safety net for truly needy Americans.’ The spending plan calls for a cut of nearly $1.5 trillion in Medicaid over 10 years and for $1.2 trillion to be added for a new ‘Market Based Health Care Grant’—that is, the block grants that would start in 2021. It also would eliminate funding for Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act has gone to about three dozen states over the past five years.”
A word about socialism is in order here. Here is a brief but excellent article from People’s Action: “To the conservative mind, the specter of socialism conjures up a society in which no one is held accountable, and no one has to work for what they receive. Yet that’s exactly the society Trump and the Republicans are promoting for the rich. ‘America will never be a socialist country,’ Donald Trump declared in his State of the Union address. Someone should alert Trump that America is now a hotbed of socialism. But it is socialism for the rich. Everyone else is treated to harsh capitalism. Trump is promoting socialism for the rich and harsh capitalism for everyone else in other ways. Since he was elected, GM has got more than $600 million in federal contracts plus $500 million in tax breaks. Some of this has gone into the pockets of GM executives. Chairman and CEO Mary Barra raked in almost $22m in total compensation in 2017 alone. But GM employees are subject to harsh capitalism. GM is planning to lay off more than 14,000 workers and close three assembly plants and two component factories in North America by the end of 2019. To the conservative mind, the specter of socialism conjures up a society in which no one is held accountable, and no one has to work for what they receive. Yet that’s exactly the society Trump and the Republicans are promoting for the rich. Meanwhile, most Americans are subject to an increasingly harsh and arbitrary capitalism in which they’re working harder but getting nowhere, and have less security than ever. They need thicker safety nets and deserve a bigger piece of the economic pie. If you want to call this socialism, fine. I call it fair.” (Deborah Rainey, People’s Action, February 13, 2019) My only objection to this otherwise excellent article is the reference to “harsh capitalism.” Properly understood and implemented, free market capitalism does not exploit anyone. But that’s a topic for another article.
Trump’s budget, released in early March, 2019, called for: 1) A $777 billion cut from Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act; 2) A $500 billion cut from Medicare; 3) An $84 billion cut from Social Security and other disability benefits, and 4) About a trillion dollars removed from education, college aid, nutrition services, the environment, and infrastructure. Oh, and it would also kick about three million low-income Americans off their health coverage.
What was that about protecting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, Mr. President?
It is crystal clear that Donald Trump either cannot differentiate fact from fancy, or else he is deliberately trying to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes. In either case, we have clear grounds for impeachment.
Here is a quote from a Daily Kos article that gives us insight into this man’s character (or lack thereof): “In an interview today with Fox’s Maria Bartiromo, Donald Trump went on an extended rant that included repeating claims that his campaign was spied on, claiming that Robert Mueller ‘illegally terminated the emails,’ and declaring that the Federal Reserve chair isn’t a tough guy but … something not so tough. And then Trump moved to the stage at a meeting of the Christian organization Faith and Freedom Coalition and informed the Christian crowd that, if he hadn’t won in 2016, Iran would have conquered the entire Middle East. And, most Christian of all, he expressed his hope that John McCain is in hell.” (Mark Sumner, Daily Kos, June 26, 2019)
Moving on to his cabinet, Donald Trump has proven what he thinks of cabinet positions; he has appointed some of the worst people in the country to head them, usually with the express intent of destroying them from within. He was initially considering Stephen Moore to the Federal Reserve board, although Moore later withdrew due to his views and attitudes toward women. Even so, it is worth a quick look at him as it illustrates the kind of people Trump considers qualified to be in important administrative positions. CREDOAction tells us: “Donald Trump picked right-wing hack Stephen Moore for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors because he is a Trump sycophant who co-wrote a glowing book about him…It seems that dodging taxes might be another thing Moore has in common with Trump, along with being dangerously unqualified for an important position.
In March, 2019, Trump upped the ante in his effort to become a dictator. Win Without War tells us: “Last month, Trump signed an Executive Order that could allow the CIA to become a secret killing squad, with no way to know how many people they kill. Drone strikes have tripled under Trump. He already snuck the CIA dangerous authority to conduct shadow drone wars around the world that are killing civilians, including Somalia, Yemen, and Pakistan. And now there is literally nothing in U.S. law requiring reporting on civilian casualties by the CIA—making those wars completely invisible.” (Stephen Miles, Win Without War, April 2, 2019) These are the actions of a dictator, not the president of the United States. As usual, the article was buried deep inside most newspapers rather than on the front page, as it should have been. If it was reported at all.
This president is a national disgrace. Our allies laugh about us, and dictators around the world flock to Trump for the simple reason that he is one of them.
There are so many unbelievably stupid and corrupt people involved in the Republican party that it would be impossible to name them all. Here, I will content myself with a few or the more recent examples of lunacy on the right.
I will begin with a few quotes from Republican leaders that should appall any thinking American. These quotes are courtesy of The Us Campaign:
This is only the tip of the iceberg.
The people Donald Trump appoints to important positions are, almost without exception, either chosen because Trump wants them to destroy their agency from within, or else because they are utterly loyal to Trump. Consider the important post of Ambassador to the United Nations. Who has Trump selected for that position? None other than Heather Nauert, a former anchor of Fox News, who has absolutely no qualifications for the post, and no foreign policy experience whatsoever.
While it may be debatable if DeVos is a horrible person, there is clearly no debate about some of the other Republicans in positions of power. Some Republicans are so blatantly racist it is difficult to believe that anyone other than the most extreme bigots and haters would vote for them. One of the more extreme examples is Rep. Steve King from Iowa. CREDOAction did an excellent expose on this awful man: “Why would King’s fellow House members hesitate to hold accountable a person who: 1) Was caught on tape calling immigrants ‘dirt’ by a conservative magazine whose editor replied to King’s criticism by saying ‘Our reporting wouldn’t focus on your bigotry if you weren’t a bigot.’ 2) Repeatedly retweets Nazis and endorsed a far-right Canadian mayoral candidate who once promoted a book calling for the elimination of Jewish people. 3) Spouted white supremacist talking points about the threat of Muslims and immigrants in interview with an anti-Semitic publication tied to an Austrian far-right political party founded by a former Nazi officer. 4) Claimed white people contributed more to civilization than any other group, accused immigrants of ‘undermining our culture and civilization,’ and drew praise from KKK leader David Duke for tweeting that ‘we can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.’ 5) Paved the way for Trump by proposing a racist birthright citizenship bill, an electrified border fence that would shock immigrants like ‘livestock’ and banning Spanish on federal documents. 6) Said he would not change slavery or anything about American history, fought to keep slave liberator Harriet Tubman off the $20 bill and cast the only vote against a resolution recognizing that slave labor helped build the Capitol. 7) Said Somali Muslims should not be allowed to work in meatpacking plants in his district, called the obscene torture at Abu Ghraib ‘hazing’ and asked anti-Muslim questions in a congressional hearing that were too offensive to answer.” (Heidi Hess, CREDOAction, January 16, 2019) King is even on record as asking: “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization—how did that language become offensive?”
Steve King is such a horrible person that even Mitch McConnell said he should “find another line of work.” However, President Trump has been conspicuously silent. One can only wonder how such a vile individual could ever have been elected to Congress. He remains there as this is written.
In my previous articles I have discussed Devin Nunes and his connection with the Russian scandal. I will content myself here with a few other salient points about this corrupt individual. Nunes is yet another climate threat denier and has called environmentalists: “followers of neo-Marxist, socialist, Maoist or Communist ideals”. During California’s drought, he said: “Global warming is nonsense.” Along with the Koch brothers, he supported the Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act, a bill that would keep the IRS from obtaining the names of donors to nonprofit organizations. This is another innocuous sounding name for a terrible idea, as IRS access to donor’s information is crucial to ensure that foreign capital doesn’t impact our elections. In February 2017, Nunes was the first House Republican to insist that there was no evidence of contact between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives and rejected calls for an independent investigation. He also said he would not request Trump’s tax returns. And, once the Mueller report was completed, Nunes said that the report should be burned, not made public.
At this point, Devin Nunes appears to be nothing more than yet another corrupt Trump crony, but Issue One provides us with some evidence of even more personal corruption: “This month, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) deadlocked along party lines on a case involving a blatant misuse of leadership PAC funds. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) spent more than $5,500 from his leadership PAC on private jets in 2018. This flies in the face of House rules that ‘[restrict] payments of campaign funds by House candidates and leadership PACs for non-commercial air travel,’ according to Bloomberg Government.” (Anne Snouck-Hurgronje, Issue One, June 28, 2019)
There is so much information on the corruption of Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner that it would require an entire volume to list all of his shady dealings. The latest to emerge came from, of all places, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who testified in May 2019 before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Daily Kos weighs in on this: “In May, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made a behind-closed-doors appearance before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. As details of Tillerson’s testimony begin to become public, what they reveal is that America had two completely separate sets of foreign policy initiatives. There were those put forward in the normal, typical, legal way…and a set of secret meetings conducted by Jared Kushner, the contents of which are still unknown. The Washington Post reports that Kushner ‘operated independently,’ and left Tillerson and other officials ‘out of the loop.’ This didn’t just include Kushner’s trips to visit with Saudi Arabian prince Mohammed bin Salman. It also featured lining up secret meetings with Mexican officials, including one in which Tillerson stumbled upon a get-together between Kushner and Mexico’s foreign secretary simply because others assumed that the secretary of state had to be aware that a top White House adviser was engaged in a meeting about critical policies. Tillerson said he was also cut out of meetings conducted by Kushner and Steve Bannon with the leadership of Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. Those meetings led up to the United States declaring its support for a move against U.S. ally Qatar. The Saudis and their supporters blockaded their tiny neighbor, costing that country billions in trade, in an attempt to shutter press sites that were critical of the Saudi royals and force Qatar into becoming a client state of Saudi Arabia. Months into the emergency, Kushner suddenly announced that his family business was being bailed out with a loan of more than $1.2 billion from a wealth fund based in the nation whose blockade he had helped to arrange. In his testimony, Tillerson said that he was angered at being cut out of major policy decisions and having the State Department sidelined from its area of expertise. He also stated that he confronted Kushner, who said he ‘would try to do better.’ Except he didn’t. In addition to the meetings Tillerson mentioned, Kushner made repeated personal visits to Mohammed bin Salman, during which he appears to have provided the names of dissidents for torture and execution by the Saudis.” (Mark Sumner, Daily Kos, June 27, 2019) Kushner is clearly one of the most despicable people around today but, yet again, the press is silent on his nefarious dealings.
Ben Carson, the laughably ill-informed head of Housing and Urban Development, is so clueless he doesn’t even understand his own policy. The following quote would be laughable if it didn’t underscore his incompetence: “When a freshman congresswoman asked Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson at a congressional hearing Tuesday whether he knew what the housing term ‘REO’ was, Carson thought she was referencing the similar-sounding cookie. ‘An Oreo?’ the secretary asked. No, said Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.), her tone firm. She spelled it back to him, twice. Carson came up with: ‘real estate e-organization.’ It’s actually ‘real estate owned.’ The term refers to property owned by a bank or a lender after it’s been foreclosed. Porter wanted to know why the rate of REOs issued by the Federal Housing Administration is higher than that for other government-owned real estate. Carson appeared before the House Financial Services Committee for more than three hours, fielding questions about housing policies. Several times he stumbled as Democrats, especially the women on the committee, tried to poke holes in his knowledge of the agency he runs. Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) asked him if he was familiar with ‘OMWI.’ ‘With who?’ Carson asked. ‘OMWI,’ the congresswoman repeated. ‘Amway?’ the secretary replied. The acronym stands for Office of Minority and Women Inclusion. Beatty wanted to know whether HUD had such an office and whether he worked with its director. ‘Of course we have an office of . . .’ Carson trailed off.” (Mary Gerisch, People’s Action, May 22, 2019) And Carson is supposed to be an educated man!
Betsy DeVos, who is hard at work trying to privatize education which contradicts her stated role as Secretary of Education, has taken the lead from her president in refusing to divest herself of economic conflicts of interest. CREW reports: “As a member of the administration DeVos is required to take steps to recuse herself from matters that could impact her financial interests, such as her investment in Neurocore, a controversial “brain training” company. Since 2017, she has failed to issue a recusal statement, outlining how she would screen herself from issues affecting her investment. Meanwhile, since she was appointed, DeVos and her husband have increased their investment in Neurocore by up to $10.5 million…By failing to divest from his businesses President Trump set himself up for countless conflicts of interest. This decision set the low standard for his administration. His cabinet members and other top officials have followed suit, flouting ethics regulations, ignoring conflicts of interest rules and failing to abide by their ethics agreements. DeVos is only the latest high-ranking Trump administration official to flout their ethics agreement or break ethics regulations. From Wilbur Ross and Steve Mnuchin to Mick Mulvaney, Elaine Chao and Andrew Wheeler—the conflicts of interest and ethical transgressions go on and on. The complete disregard for ethics regulations and the failure to even attempt to comply with the law permeates the entire Trump administration and damages the integrity of our government. ” (Noah Bookbinder, CREW, June 7, 2019)
Although many of Trump’s cabinet appointees have either resigned or been removed from office, one who remains is DeVos. CREDOAction describes her policies as a “train wreck that rewards predatory debt collection companies and makes students suffer.” (Josh Nelson, CREDOAction, May 13, 2019) The article continues: “Betsy DeVos is a nightmare for the 45 million Americans stuck with $1.56 trillion in student loan debt. Her proposed budget of the Department of Education would further defund public education and would drive students into the hands of for-profit institutions. The department lets the companies that collect federal student loan payments cheat and lie to students, according to a scathing inspector general report. She issued rules to help debt collectors skirt aggressive state laws and has personal financial ties to shady debt collection firms. She is even taking the side of for-profit colleges and refusing to forgive the loans of the countless students these predatory institutions defrauded. Now, DeVos hired Wall Street consultants to review the federal student loan portfolio and consider options for selling loans to private investors. One of the consultants, McKinsey & Company, even has ties to some of the world’s most oppressive regimes. The federal government owns more than $1 trillion of the overall student loan debt in America and makes a profit from interest on the loans. DeVos is exploring options for selling that debt into the hands of private investors—who could then abuse and harass people with loans, with far fewer legal constraints, until they pay every last cent.”
If all this weren’t enough, DeVos also is siding with sexual predators over rape victims. As difficult as this is to fathom, she wants to narrow the definition of what constitutes harassment and also make it harder for victims to prove their case and obtain justice.
Laura Ingraham is the host of The Ingraham Angle on (where else?) Fox News. She is yet another inveterate racist who continues to bash any perceived liberals and is an unswerving supporter of the fascist-in-chief. One comment will suffice. In discussing reparations, she said: “People would argue that the whole world, and I would, the whole world has been reshaped by people taking other people’s land. It’s called conquest. They want to live in a fake world. As Trump always says, ‘you don’t get do-overs.’ No do-overs, that’s it. There was an argument, sometime—I think it was the 1980s. There was a quote, you won, we lost, that’s that. Describing world politics, we won, you lost, that’s that. That’s just the way it is.” (quoted in Daily Kos, June 20, 2019) In other words, anyone or any group that is harmed or killed should just shut up and accept that as a fact of life. Innocents victimized by war? Move on. The Nazi holocaust? Get over it. Quotes like this illustrate the fundamental inhumanity of the conservative mindset.
Incidentally, if we should just “move on,” as Ingraham says, why can’t Ingraham and other Republicans just accept the Roe v. Wade decision and move on? Why can’t they accept the decision to remove forced prayer from our public schools and move on? Obviously, moving on doesn’t apply to Republicans.
Ingraham, like Fox News itself, unabashedly supportive of racists. CREDOAction provides the details: “Every day, Fox News is becoming more blatant about its support for white supremacy. Last week, Laura Ingraham used her show to defend prominent white supremacist and anti-Semite Paul Nehlen. Nehlen glorifies acts of racial terrorism, including the Tree of Life massacre in Pittsburgh. He calls himself ‘pro-white’ and called for a race war to eradicate Jews and black people.” (Brandy Doyle, CREDOAction, June 6, 2019) Has anybody noted the obvious connection between Nehlen’s plan for a race war and Charles Manson’s insistence on the same thing fifty years ago? The article continues: “One advertiser already dropped Ingraham’s program over her promotion of Nehlen, but the rest continue using their advertising dollars to spread hate and violence. These companies include household names like Google, Norwegian Cruise Line, Wells Fargo, Bayer, and booking.com. Like other racist Fox News hosts, Ingraham likes to pretend that right-wing extremists are actually blameless victims who happen to hold conservative views that are under attack by the media. On her May 30 show, Ingraham displayed an image of eight people in a graphic labelled ‘Prominent Voices Censored on Social Media.’ Ingraham defended those featured in her graphic as ‘people who believe in border enforcement, people who believe in national sovereignty.’ But the group actually featured far-right extremists—people who believe in hate. Paul Nehlen was included along with fellow hatemongers Milo Yiannopoulos and Alex Jones. Nehlen associates with David Duke.” Given all this, it seems obvious that the people listed above would have been right at home at Manson’s Spahn ranch hideout back in 1969.
White supremacy and neo-Naziism have risen dramatically since Donald Trump’s presidency began. People’s Action provides the details: “At first, you might not realize the flyer was put there by a white supremacy group. The poster, in shades of black, white and teal, features George Washington on horseback. The accompanying text reads: ‘European roots, American greatness.’ Flyers like this, posted across the country by American neo-Nazi and white supremacist group, Identity Evropa, are popping up far more than they used to. According to a new report by the Anti-Defamation League, white supremacy propaganda increased by 182 percent in 2018 compared to the year before. The increase in flyers and other propaganda reflects a relatively new strategy for hate groups, the ADL says. Under intense scrutiny, white supremacists are reluctant to show their face in public, so they’re relying more on leaflets and posters to spread hate without putting themselves at personal risk, it adds. ADL counted 1,187 incidents of propaganda in 2018, up from 421 incidents in 2017. While college campuses remain a primary target, most of that increase occurred off of college campuses, with 868 incidents in 2018, up from 129 the year before. The alt-right also uses banners to promote its message, the ADL said, counting 32 instances of white supremacist banners hung in high-visibility locations such as highway overpasses. Increased propaganda efforts ‘allow them to maximize media and online attention, while limiting the risk of individual exposure, negative media coverage, arrests and public backlash,’ the ADL wrote. The frequent subtlety of the flyers is intentional, and represents a shift in the way white supremacy groups are attempting to spread their ideology, the ADL reports. ‘If you know what you’re looking at, the white supremacists banners, stickers and fliers clearly convey racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia,’ ADL senior investigative researcher Carla Hill wrote in Politico. ‘But the messaging is not always overtly hateful.’” (Will Tanzman, People’s Action, March 6, 2019)
Many Republican leaders are taking a page out of the Trump playbook and resorting to childish and profane comments about their Democratic colleagues, or as they view them, their opponents. Michael McAdams, National Press Secretary at the National Republican Congressional Committee, had this to say about Max Rose, a highly-qualified freshman from New York: “Instead of working on bipartisan issues, Little Max Rose is content passing socialist bills for sh&%# and giggles. Playtime is over, Max.” Max’s response was short and appropriate: “I’d rather be short than corrupt.” This is just one of countless examples of how the Republican party is day-by-day abandoning basic decency in their dealings with others.
Racism rears its ugly head in countless ways. And, it is becoming mainstream. From Trump’s reference to neo-nazis as “very fine people” to the efforts being made to keep minorities from polling booths, this is a fundamentally racist regime. But there are other manifestations of their hatred, most notably in the way they want to control women’s bodies and in their hatred of the LGBTQ community.
The Supreme Court made anti-Muslim bigotry an official part of U.S. policy back in 2018. Action Center on Race and the Economy (ACRE) provides the details: “One year ago, the highest court in the United States made discrimination against Muslims the official law of the land with its decision to uphold Trump’s Muslim ban. There is a long history of discrimination and bigotry against Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities in the United States, and corporations have played a key role in spreading it. The Supreme Court’s endorsement of anti-Muslim bigotry had heartbreaking consequences for the thousands of families that were separated, denied lifesaving medical treatment, or sent to their deaths in countries they had fled because of persecution. While devastating, the Supreme Court decision on the Muslim ban was hardly unexpected or unprecedented. Attacks on Muslims and communities mistakenly perceived as Muslim have always been commonplace in this country, going back to the arrival of the first ships carrying enslaved Muslims on this continent.” (Saqib Bhatti, ACRE, June 26, 2019) The article continues: “Tech corporations like Google and Amazon provide a platform for anti-Muslim bigotry. Right-wing media conglomerates like News Corp and the Sinclair Broadcast Group are regular purveyors of anti-Muslim content to the masses. Wall Street firms like Wells Fargo, Fidelity, and Vanguard help finance anti-Muslim corporations and hate groups. Oil companies and defense contractors like Halliburton and ExxonMobil profit from war and political turmoil in the Muslim world. Corporations like Caterpillar, Peabody Energy, and Raytheon are complicit in the ongoing genocide of the Palestinian, Uyghur, and Yemeni peoples. The political action committees and executives of corporations like Koch Industries and Walmart donate millions to anti-Muslim politicians. These corporations are all complicit in the rise of anti-Muslim hate crimes, violence, and bigotry in the United States. Their actions are all prelude to the Supreme Court ruling on the Muslim ban.
Raytheon is at the center of yet another administration scandal. Win Without War reports: “News just broke that senior official Charles Faulkner—former Raytheon lobbyist—was forced out of the State Department. And what does this have to do with arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates? Everything. Faulkner was KEY in the Trump Administration’s declaration of an ‘emergency’ over tensions with Iran to fast-track $8 billion in arms sales—including $2 billion in Raytheon’s precision-guided missiles…The House Foreign Affairs Committee is holding a hearing on Wednesday on Charles Faulkner’s role in the State Department given his Raytheon past because—and this really, really, really should go without saying—we shouldn’t have people in government whose primary loyalty is to ANY corporate profits, let alone WAR PROFITS.” (Tara Tabassi, Win Without War, June 9, 2019)
When one listens to the words of certain key Republican leaders, it is obvious that they view Muslims as a threat to our country. People’s Action has an excellent article to that effect: “it’s the birthrates.’ So begins the online manifesto of the man accused of shooting and killing at least 49 Muslims in a terror attack targeted at two mosques in New Zealand. When I read his manifesto, I couldn’t help but think of high-profile American politicians, such as the president of the United States who said, ‘Islam hates us,’ referred to ‘people coming out of mosques with hatred and death in their eyes and on their minds,’ and compared a caravan of migrants to an ‘invasion.’ Or Sen. Ted Cruz, who called on ‘law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.’ Or Sen. Marco Rubio who said he was in favor of ‘closing down anyplace—whether it’s a cafe, a diner, an internet site—anyplace where radicals are being inspired.’ Or Sen. Lindsey Graham who declared: ‘If I have to monitor a mosque, I’ll monitor a mosque.’ Or former Gov. Mike Huckabee who described Muslims in the Middle East coming out of mosques on Fridays ‘like uncorked animals.’ Violence does not exist in a vacuum. In fact, since the 9/11 attacks, the right has demanded that progressives and Muslims crack down on ‘preachers of hate.’ Remember the so-called conveyor belt that leads from nonviolent rhetoric to violent acts by Muslims? Remember how ‘ideology matters?’ Isn’t it past time for conservatives to take their own advice?” (John Sarbanes, Michael Brune, People’s Action, March 18, 2019) If conservatives were sincerely interested in nipping dangerous religious ideas in the bud, the best place for them to begin would be the Christian fundamentalist churches. These are the ones spewing hatred against everyone that isn’t exactly like them. These are the people that constitute the gravest threat to democracy. Religious fanaticism wasn’t imported here from the Middle East; it was spawned here on our own shores.
Most Republican voters would of course deny that the Republican party has morphed into a party of racism and bigotry. However, Daily Kos has an article that explains what the Republican party platform really stands for: “The Republican platform does not directly embrace bigotry because it does not need to. A party that actively seeks to suppress the vote of racial minorities, actively works to weaken anti-discrimination laws, actively seeks to undercount minorities and non-citizens to determine Congressional representation and how the country’s revenues are spent—and one which has enthusiastically embraced a leader whose policies invoke and stoke white grievance and racism—does not need to be explicit about its ‘leanings.’ Because there are only two major parties in this country, its followers and voters know fully well what they are voting for. Some may hold their nose and claim that they are voting for ‘fiscal responsibility’ or some similar ‘conservative’ trope, but the reality is that they are voting for exclusion and racism…The practical effect of having one party (the Republicans) skewed so far to the right is that the Democratic Party occupies the center and near-center by default (Chinoy notes that this is also due in part because there is no comparable left-wing extremist party in the U.S.).” (Dartagnan, Daily Kos, June 26, 2019)
The most striking aspect of these comparisons is that in Europe, such extremist parties are perceived as “alternatives” to the mainstream. In the United States, however, as Chinoy points out, “the Republican Party is the mainstream.”
Across the country, it is becoming harder and harder for women seeking an abortion to find a clinic that will perform it for them. Alabama has gone further than the other states: In May, 2019, it passed a law making it a crime to destroy all embryos, even if the woman is a victim of rape. Daily Kos gives us the story of one Alabama woman who is a victim of that state’s backwards and immoral abortion policies: “A young woman from Birmingham, Alabama, was raped and impregnated four times by her uncle. She was just 12 years old when the assaults started: Her mother’s half-brother started climbing into her bed. She endured this hell for years. Raped at 14, she miscarried. Raped at 16, she gave birth to a baby boy. Raped at 18, she gave birth, but her child died of a disease common to incest cases. Raped at 19, she gave birth to her second son. Despite the DNA evidence, her uncle was never convicted of rape. It wouldn’t matter if he had been anyway: In Alabama, a rapist is entitled to visitation rights to children resulting from his crimes, and can even sue for custody. Alabama is one of only two states that allow this. Now that abortion is outlawed for all rape survivors in Alabama, the survivor is forced to bear a child if one is conceived. At the very least, you’d think the lawmakers would fix the loophole (assuming it even is a loophole) that would give the rapist custody and visitation rights. Well, actually, one Alabama lawmaker did try to do just that by introducing a bill to terminate the parental rights of rapists. Unfortunately, ‘pro-life’ lawmakers amended the bill so that it pertained only to people who rape their own children, and required that the perpetrator be convicted of first-degree rape. Alabama lawmakers prattled on about how the first-degree rape conviction is needed to prevent fraud and abuse. Much like their ‘voting fraud’ claims, it’s all fake. Yet lawmakers failed to explain why multiple lesser offenses can terminate parental rights in Alabama without a conviction. Drug use and neglect, for example, only require ‘clear and convincing evidence;’ not so with rape. These lawmakers, obsessed with protecting the rapist, either didn’t know or didn’t care that their actions only encourage women to seek abortion, since they now know that their ordeal won’t end when the rape is over. These monsters, on the other hand, have it pretty good: They get to choose the mother of their children regardless of whether she consents or not; the woman will be forced to bear any children; and it will be entirely up to the rapist how involved he will be in his victim’s life. For this young woman in Birmingham, it’s already been a nightmare: ’It’s sickening. I’ve spent my entire life scared to death of my rapist, and now, I’m fighting him for custody of my children,’ she said. Even though she was the one who was violently and sexually violated, the criminal is the one calling the shots—and the only threat of jail time has been directed at the victim, with a judge telling her that she’d have to spend 48 hours in jail each time she denied the rapist a visit with her children.” (SemDem, Daily Kos, June 16, 2019)
Daily Kos discusses the Alabama bill as well as others: “In Texas, a bill was introduced in committee that would execute, yes execute anyone involved in providing or receiving abortion care—from the doctors and nurses to the people who get an abortion. The bill would classify abortion as homicide. In Georgia, a bill is waiting to be signed into law by the governor which would make it illegal to get an abortion once a heartbeat is detected—about six weeks into the pregnancy. Some people don’t even know they are pregnant by six weeks or can’t find a provider within that time frame. Alabama has introduced legislation that would criminalize abortion at ANY stage. The only exception would be if the pregnant person’s life is endangered. This means that if someone is raped or in cases of incest, they can be charged with a crime. In Ohio, the State Senate passed a bill that will require people that have had a surgical abortion to have the ‘fetal remains’ buried or cremated.” (Amanda McKay, Daily Kos, April 11, 2019)
Accusations of rape don’t seem to bother Republicans at all; how many of them are speaking out against Trump? This and Judge Kavanaugh’s hearing conclusively proved that Republican’s attitude is to blame the victim. There are other examples. To cite one, Judge James McClusky gave a slap on the wrist sentence to a man who raped a fourteen year old girl, justifying the sentence by saying he had “only” raped one girl. It goes without saying that the Judge is a conservative Republican.
Kavanaugh is only one in a series of judicial appointments who are nothing less than right-wing kooks. In the past year, unbelievable as it sounds, Trump has nominated ten justices who don’t agree that Brown v. Board of Education, which (at least in principle) halted desegregation, was a good ruling. Daily Kos has a good article on this: “The presidency of Donald Trump has not been a successful one for him—except for the obscene amount of havoc and pain he has inflicted upon the most vulnerable people in our society. As part of his reign of terror, Trump has appointed a record number of conservative federal judges, many of whom hold absolutely frightening views on race, religion, and reproductive justice. In fact, their retrograde views seem to be a necessary qualification for becoming a judicial nominee under this administration. As an example, Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 Supreme Court decision that ended school segregation, has been universally supported in the legal community. It is considered to be beyond debate. Yet Trump has put forth at least ten judicial nominees in the past year who refuse to offer an opinion on Brown. As Mother Jones reports, earlier this month, Trump’s nominee to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Neomi Rao, appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee. She is positioned to take the seat left vacant by Brett Kavanaugh when he was confirmed to the Supreme Court. In her hearing, Rao refused to answer whether she thought Brown was correctly decided. Asked by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) whether the court had made the right decision in Brown, Rao replied, ‘As a judicial nominee, I think it’s not appropriate for me to comment on the correctness of particular precedents.’ When pressed for a yes or no answer, Rao only replied that the case was ‘an incredibly important decision of the Supreme Court.’
Rao is a threat to civil liberties, a charge that can be leveled against all of Trump’s judicial appointees. CREDOAction provides some damning evidence against her: “It is only fitting that Trump appointed a nominee who believes that: ‘if a woman drinks to the point where she can no longer [consent]…getting to that point was a part of her choice’ only months after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford came forward to testify against Kavanaugh’s nomination…She: 1) Believes that sexuality is a behavior subject to change and said fighting for LGBTQ rights is just a ‘trendy’ political movement; 2) Believes minority students get an unfair advantage on campus by having deans, professors, and advisers dedicated to supporting them; 3) Called affirmative action ‘the anointed dragon of liberal excess’ and wrote that race was ‘a hot, money-making issue.’ 4) Described people on welfare as ‘indigent and lazy.’” (Thais Marques, CREDOAction, January 25, 2019) The article concludes: “The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is the second-most powerful court in the country. We cannot allow Rao to have a place on the federal bench and the power to shape our country’s laws for the next 30 years.”
Judicial nominees refusing to endorse Brown is unprecedented and pretty much unheard of—until now. And this goes well beyond political party. Neither George W. Bush’s nor Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominees had any trouble agreeing that this case represented progress in American society and was properly decided. Once again, we are in an era of complete madness, where everything we know to be sensible and just is becoming completely undone by the madman in the White House and his friends.
Some of the comments emanating from the right-wing are so evil that it is difficult to believe anyone could make them in this supposedly enlightened age. Unfortunately, there are neanderthals like Lawrence Lockman, a Republican from Maine, who said: “If a woman has (the right to an abortion), why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman? At least the rapist’s pursuit of sexual freedom doesn’t (in most cases) result in anyone’s death.” Daily Kos provides us with another example: “Colorado conservative Darryl Glenn knows that God’s special gift to women is sometimes rape. “If you want an abortion, don’t ask me to pay for it. That’s not something I’m gonna agree with. That’s a gift from God. There are no exceptions with that. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to pray for you…That’s a life, regardless of how it got there, and I’m going to pray for you.” (Walter Einenkel, Daily Kos, May 18, 2019) Notice the fundamentalist Christian connection here; it’s ubiquitous in the far-right. Apparently they believe that, as the Kos article put it: “Since God is all powerful, letting women get raped is part of some cosmic plan. It’s God’s way of testing us, like Job, not to allow women the right to choose what they do and do not do with their bodies.”
Staying in power is far more important to Republicans than showing compassion for rape victims. The rape allegations against Trump are met with startling indifference, even hostility toward the victims. Daily Kos discusses this: “Only one—one—of these unnamed Trump administration ‘officials’ had even bothered to read Carroll’s account of Trump raping her. They Just. Didn’t. Care.” (Dartagnan, Daily Kos, June 28, 2019)
The article continues by discussing how this attitude bodes ill for women across the country: “…this indifference is doubly instructive for any woman who is beaten, raped, harassed, or discriminated against, as long as this regime remains in power, because it reveals their attitude towards any social policies that may impact women in general. From health care and pay equity, to discrimination, bias and harassment in the workplace, Title IX and civil rights enforcement—if a charge of rape merits no interest, then why should anyone expect these issues to remotely register with members of this administration? Taken together, the officials’ quick willingness to dismiss the allegation, not to mention their disinterest in learning more, reflects several of the defining factors of the Trump administration: an under-siege mentality, distrust in the press, and an unwavering loyalty to the president they’ve aligned themselves with. But there’s another reason their assessment is noteworthy. The private reactions of Trump’s top allies reveal how, inside the president’s orbit, the gravity of words such as sexual assault no longer seems to register. And that attitude—call it a collective shrug—could inform how the government responds to sexual-misconduct claims for, potentially, the next six years.”
The Do No Harm act is a piece of legislation designed to protect the rights of the LGBTQ community. CREDOAction informs us: “The Religious Freedom Restoration Act is being used by the Trump administration to deny LGBTQ people their rights and openly discriminate against people on the basis of gender identity and sexuality. From denying same-sex couples the right to adoption to denying birthright citizenship to children of LGBTQ parents to rolling back healthcare protections, it’s clear that the Trump administration is weaponizing religious freedom to systematically dismantle the rights of LGBTQ people. It’s now more important than ever to pass the Do No Harm Act, which would stop extremists from using the RFRA to protect religious freedom without limiting or harming the rights of others.” (Thais Marques, CREDOAction, June 19, 2019)
The article discusses the after-effects of the RFRA act: “The RFRA is a two-decade-old piece of legislation that sought to protect the constitutional rights of religious minorities, but it has since been used as a tool to chip away at the civil rights of our communities. The RFRA was used by the Supreme Court in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores as justification for allowing for-profit companies to deny insurance coverage for contraception if such coverage violated the employer’s religious beliefs. It has also been used to discriminate against individuals in cases like EEOC v. R.G & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, which protected a funeral home for firing a transgender employee because of her gender identity. That’s not all—now, the RFRA is being used by adoption agencies to keep same-sex partners from becoming parents.
This is a completely Orwellian spin on RFRA. Although it was originally passed with the intention of protecting religious minorities from discrimination, it is now being used by Republicans to allow discrimination against those same minorities—all in the name of religion.
The bigotry of Trump and today’s Republicans is seen in the fact that Trump wants a regulation that will roll back LGBTQ rights and allow doctors, nurses, and hospitals to discriminate against trans people based on their own narrow and false beliefs about gender and sexual orientation. This regulation will jeopardize the lives and livelihood of millions of trans people throughout the United States.
Contrary to what many Republicans claim, the LGBTQ community does not want any “special” rights. What they want is equal rights. And only Republicans refuse to give them to them.
Old hatreds die hard. Or in the case of today’s Republicans, they survive and are promoted—perversely in the name of morality: All the attacks on the LGBTQ community emanate from religious-based bigotry.
MITCH MCCONNELL—THE ULTIMATE PARTY HACK
If there is one singularly irrefutable fact that emerged from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, it is that Russia engaged in a full-scale attack on the American political system in 2016. The report notes: “They used sophisticated cyber techniques to hack into computers and networks…they stole private information and then released that information…The releases were designed and timed to interfere with our election and to damage a presidential candidate.” (Quoted by Ditch Mitch, June 21, 2019) The report also observes that, unless something is done, Russia will do it again in the 2020 elections.
The Ditch Mitch article takes it from there: “But where is Mitch McConnell in all this? What has Mitch McConnell done as Majority Leader of the Senate to protect our country from all enemies, foreign and domestic? Weeks before the 2016 election, as the Obama administration learned more and more about what Russia was doing to interfere in our presidential election, administration officials asked the leaders of Congress to make a public, unedited statement against Russia’s interference. But Mitch McConnell refused to sign on, questioning the legitimacy of the intelligence and saying he would consider any such public statement against Russia as an act of partisan politics.”
Knowing what we now know, a much more reasonable assumption would be that McConnell already knew of Russia’s interference and chose not to condemn it not because it was a threat to our democracy, but rather because he saw it as a threat to Trump’s election. In other words, McConnell knew that Russia was interfering on Trump’s behalf, and therefore wanted to leave it at that. Of course, had Russia been interfering against Trump, McConnell would have been screaming to the heavens about corruption. Mitch McConnell is indeed, the ultimate party hack.
The Ditch Mitch article continues: “Then in 2017 and 2018, even as Trump was privately considering trying to fire Robert Mueller multiple times, Mitch McConnell refused to bring a bill protecting the special counsel’s investigation to the Senate floor for a vote—despite strong bipartisan support. And when there were attempts for the Senate to launch a legitimate investigation of its own, Mitch put an end to it. Now, despite the fact that the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee has approved multiple bipartisan bills that would help secure the 2020 elections from foreign influence, Mitch McConnell is refusing to bring any of them to a vote. Why? Because Mitch McConnell knows that Russia helped Republicans win in 2016, and he’s hoping that they’ll do it again in 2020. And Mitch always puts party before country.
Another example of McConnell’s chutzpah was seen in how he dealt with sensible legislation that would make voting much easier. Ditch Mitch provides us with the details: “Earlier this year, the Democratic House passed a historic election reform bill known as HR1—the first bill that House Democrats introduced when they took control of the chamber. Unsurprisingly, Mitch McConnell immediately promised to refuse to allow a vote on it in the Senate, telling reporters, ‘I get to decide what we vote on.’ The bill would enact broad, sweeping reforms to voting, campaign finance, and congressional ethics. When it was first introduced, McConnell took to the Senate floor to rail against the legislation, calling it a ‘power grab’ by Democrats because it includes making Election Day a public holiday. And when you take a look at the details, it’s not hard to figure out why Mitch opposes it so vehemently: 1)HR1 would make voting and voter registration much easier. Citizens could register to vote online, or even become registered automatically using data from drivers’ licenses. States would be required to allow same-day voter registration along with at least 15 days of early voting. And yes, Election Day would become a federal holiday. 2) The bill includes sweeping campaign finance reforms, including expanded prohibitions on foreign contributions and requiring the disclosure of wealthy donors to dark money organizations. In addition, it would create a new matching-fund for House candidates who agree to fund their campaigns using only small dollar contributions. 3) Finally, it would implement a number of ethics changes. Presidents and vice presidents would have to release their tax returns. House members would be barred from serving on corporate boards. And even the Supreme Court would have to establish a code of ethics—something it’s never had before. If HR1 were passed into law, more people would be able to exercise their right to vote. Corporations and the wealthy wouldn’t be able to influence elections in secret. And members of Congress would be held accountable to do what’s best for their constituents—not themselves and their campaign donors. This is what Mitch McConnell has the audacity to call a ‘power grab’ and refuse to allow a vote on. And he’s right. This is a power grab. It’s the American people grabbing back power from self-serving, career politicians like him. Mitch McConnell is against our government being truly by the people and for the people—because he knows that if our democracy worked the way it was supposed to, McConnell and the Republicans would all be out of a job.” (Ditch Mitch, May 23, 2019)
He talks out of both sides of his mouth on countless issues. Take tobacco, for example. People’s Action gives us a clear example of this man’s corruption: “Nearly 9,000 Kentuckians die every year from smoking—roughly 24 people every day. Kentucky also spends $1.9 billion on smoking-related health problems like lung cancer, strokes and premature birth. ‘Our state once grew tobacco like none other,’ said McConnell. ‘And now we’re being hit by the health consequences of tobacco use like none other.’ An NPR review of McConnell’s relationship with the tobacco industry over the decades has found that McConnell repeatedly cast doubt on the health consequences of smoking, repeated industry talking points word-for-word, attacked federal regulators at the industry’s request and opposed bipartisan tobacco regulations going back decades. The industry, in turn, has provided McConnell with millions of dollars in speaking fees, personal gifts, campaign contributions and charitable donations to the McConnell Center, which is home to his personal and professional archives. One lobbyist for R.J. Reynolds called McConnell a ‘special friend’ to the company.” (Sam Pizzigati, People’s Action, June 18, 2019) Only a man as shameless as Mitch McConnell could speak of the harm tobacco causes to people of his state while at the same time taking in millions of dollars from the tobacco industry. If this isn’t hypocrisy, what is?
His track record on every conceivable issue speaks for itself. When Barack Obama became president, McConnell said his sole purpose was to make Obama a one-term president: In October 2010, McConnell said: “the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” Consequently, every single thing Obama supported was automatically opposed by McConnell. McConnell even tried to change the rules to ensure that Democratic bills would be defeated; Republican minority obstruction reached all-time highs during Obama’s presidency because McConnell insisted that any bill passing through the Senate needed a super-majority vote, which means sixty votes rather than 51. According to the New York Times: “From the moment Obama entered the White House, McConnell led Senate Republicans in a disciplined, sustained, at times underhanded campaign to deny the Democratic president the opportunity to appoint federal judges.” (“How the Trump Administration is Remaking the Courts,” New York Times, retrieved September 20, 2018). Once Trump assumed the presidency, McConnell led the charge in supporting record-setting judicial appointments by Trump. When Obama was in his final year in office, he nominated Merrick Garland to replace arch-conservative Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court; McConnell refused to even consider the nominee, even though he was far from being a extreme liberal. McConnell’s reasoning (if you can call it that; rationalizing is a better, more accurate term) was that there exists a rule against a president nominating a justice in his last year. Now that Trump is in power, McConnell suddenly (if predictably) does an about-face and claims that the rule no longer applies. This is just one of countless examples of why Mitch McConnell is the ultimate party hack who will say and do anything for him and his party to stay in power. Dishonesty and cheating are essential components of this man’s nature.
Further proof can be seen in the fact that McConnell was instrumental in ramming through the tax scam that gave billions of dollars to America’s richest, while doing nothing at all for anyone else. He also came within a single vote of killing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) which, had he been successful, would have taken away health care for some twenty million Americans. He supports building the Keystone XL pipeline and publicly denied that the pipeline could harm the environment. As with virtually all elected Republican officials, he denies the global warming threat. He opposed President Obama’s attempted closing of the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, even though the camp engaged in torture, indefinite detention without trial, and various other human rights violations reported by Amnesty International; the camp’s activities were a direct violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth amendments of the United States Constitution, not that inconvenient facts like this have any bearing on his stances.
McConnell, like his president, views the Democratic party as the enemy. Blocking any democratic legislation is only one aspect of this: Early in April 2019, he invoked the infamous “nuclear option” that enables Republican court nominees to be approved even faster by limiting debates to a mere two hours, which has resulted in a record number of right-wing justices being appointed all across the country. Ditch Mitch tells us: “After obstructing and robbing Obama of over 100 nominations to the federal courts, Mitch McConnell is now filling them with not just right-wing judges, but young right-wing judges who could sit on the courts for half a century.” (Ditch Mitch, April 15, 2019)
Like his boss, Mitch McConnell obviously cannot be trusted at his word. Time and again, he has said he would “do something” to address a particular issue, and then done nothing. Ditch Mitch provides us with two examples: “Under immense public pressure from people like Jon Stewart, earlier today, Mitch McConnell finally met with the 9/11 first responders who have been urging him to renew funding for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. Mitch McConnell left the meeting promising to hold a vote to renew funding, having previously said, ‘We will take care of the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund.’ But we know better than that: No one should trust Mitch McConnell to hold a vote on anything. And when McConnell says he will ‘take care of’ something, you can be sure he won’t. Just like he promised today to ‘take care of’ 9/11 first responders, Mitch McConnell made a similar promise in October of 2018 to ‘take care of’ coal miners with black lung disease and not allow the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund to expire. At the time, Mitch said, ‘That’ll be taken care of before we get into an expiration situation. It just won’t be allowed to be unfunded.’ But guess what Mitch did not ‘take care of,’ and guess what expired on January 1st of this year. (Hint: It’s the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund) The black lung fund is paid for in part by a tax on coal companies. So as you can imagine, the coal industry spent lots of money lobbying against it being renewed. Because when Mitch let the funding expire earlier this year, the tax was cut by 55 percent—saving coal companies hundreds of millions of dollars a year. The Government Accountability Office, the non-partisan congressional office responsible for auditing and evaluating these types of things, now estimates that by mid-2020, the fund will no longer have enough money to cover benefit payments to coal miners with black lung. A tax cut for coal companies… at the expense of miners. And if Mitch McConnell ‘takes care of’ 9/11 first responders the same way he ‘took care of’ black lung victims, you can be sure that our 9/11 heroes will continue to suffer.” (Ditch Mitch, June 25, 2019)
Political analysts recognize the damage McConnell has done to our democracy. For example, Jacob Hacker (Yale University) and Paul Pierson (UCBerkeley) both describe him as, along with Newt Gingrich, the individual most responsible in transforming the Republican Party from: “A party geared increasingly not to governing but to making governance impossible.” (Jacob Hacker; Paul Pierson, American Amnesia, published by Simon and Schuster, 2017. ISBN 9781451667837)
McConnell will continue to support Donald Trump no matter what evidence comes to light showing him to be what every thinking person knows he is: a proto-fascist dictator. McConnell opposed legislation that would have protected Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russian investigation. After the results of the investigation were made public, he opposed any legislation that would have ensured the integrity of our elections from foreign influence.
Although I have used this quote previously, it deserves to be brought up again. These are the words of Mitch McConnell himself back in 1999—when a Democrat (Bill Clinton)—was in office: “I am completely and utterly perplexed by those who argue that perjury and obstruction of justice are not high crimes and misdemeanors.” Of course, he isn’t the least bit perplexed when Republicans do the same thing—and on a much bigger scale with the survival of our democracy on the line. It should be obvious by now why I call Mitch McConnell the ultimate party hack.
Corruption seems to run in the McConnell household. MoveOn provides us with yet another example of Republican nepotism: “Secretary Elaine Chao has proven that she is no exception. She is the current secretary of transportation and also married to Mitch McConnell. Politico broke the news that Chao has been using her position to move federal grants and money to Kentucky, in order to benefit the current leader of the U.S. Senate, her husband. Elaine Chao is not serving the country, but instead the political and professional aspirations of herself and her husband. She needs to step down immediately. According to Politico, Chao’s Transportation Department has designated a special liaison to help with grant applications and other priorities from her husband Mitch McConnell’s home state of Kentucky. This has paved the way for grants totaling at least $78 million, at a time when McConnell is preparing to campaign for re-election. This gives a special advantage to projects favored by her husband, which in turn benefits his political interests, all of which is unethical.” (Richard Boyce, MoveOn, June 18, 2019)
Ditch Mitch provides us with further details which, although long, deserves an in-depth examination: “It started a couple of weeks ago when The Wall Street Journal reported that Elaine Chao had been directed by ethics officials that she needed to divest from a company that was directly related to her work at the transportation department. Ethics officials told her, ‘Listen, if you’re going to be secretary of transportation, you need to divest from this particular company in which you hold a whole bunch of stock.’ She was directed to do that, she said she would, but she did not divest from the company. She was told to do it officially, she signed off on an ethics agreement saying she would do it, she said she would do it, and she didn’t. Instead, she sat on hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of stock in that company. And that company happens to be, in the words of The Wall Street Journal, ‘the country’s largest supplier of the crushed stone, sand, and gravel used in road-paving and road-building.’ I mean, she’s literally the federal official in charge of road-paving and road-building for the country. She’s the secretary of transportation, and she’s decided to secretly keep her stock—her tons of stock—in the country’s biggest asphalt company that makes roads? I mean, really?” (Ditch Mitch, June 13, 2019) But this is far from being the only scandalous behavior from this woman. The article continues: “I mean, that alone is about the size and shape of the corruption scandal that led to the resignation of Trump’s health secretary, Tom Price. But that’s just one of them for Elaine Chao. Last week, The New York Times reported that when Elaine Chao planned her first visit to China as Trump’s transportation secretary, her office called ahead to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing because she wanted to arrange meetings for her family members with members of the Chinese government while she was visiting. Her family runs a big shipping company that does a lot of business in China. She wanted to arrange meetings for her relatives with Chinese government officials. And she wanted the U.S. government to do that for her. The official who had just departed as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy at Beijing, when Elaine Chao sent over those requests to the embassy, he called that request from Chao, quote, ‘alarmingly inappropriate.’ And in fact, people were alarmed. That request by Elaine Chao’s office was flagged by the embassy back to state department headquarters in Washington. It was flagged to ethics officials in both the state department and the transportation department. After ethics officials in both of those departments were flagged to what Chao was trying to do with her family members, eventually Elaine Chao called off that trip. Elaine Chao’s father and sister have served on the board of China State Shipbuilding, which is exactly what you think it is. It’s China State Shipbuilding. While she, as U.S. transportation secretary, has tried to cut grants and funding for U.S. shipbuilding here at home. I mean, her family’s company has taken hundreds of millions of dollars in financing from banks controlled by the Chinese government, while Elaine Chao has brought her father, who runs that company, to in his words, ‘talk business’ with President Trump. Elaine Chao herself as transportation secretary has attended at least one celebration of a deal made between her family’s company and another firm that has lots of mass transit contracts in the United States. And think about that for a second. I mean, that would be a really terrible look if she was the kind of high-ranking, federal government official who had anything to say about mass transit funding in the United States… She’s the transportation secretary. So in that case, we’ve got a firm with huge mass transit contracts, right? So that means we’ve got a firm in a position to benefit from mass transit decisions by her. And that firm chooses to do a hugely remunerative deal with her family’s company. And then she, as a federal official, shows up in person to celebrate and bless and applaud that deal. I mean, that would be something, right? That would be Elaine Chao, President Trump’s transportation secretary.” Obviously, corruption on a massive scale constitutes “business as usual” in the Trump administration. The McConnell’s official motto should be: “I’ll take care of it.”
One would think that, if the media were as liberal as Republicans want to portray it as being, there would be countless articles exposing this ridiculous state of affairs. But, as with virtually every other thing Republicans say or do, this blatant conflict of interest has received scant attention.
Mitch McConnell is, as previously stated, the second most corrupt politician in Washington (only Donald Trump surpasses him in this regard), and that’s saying quite a lot these days. He receives countless millions of dollars from Wall Street, Big Pharma, the NRA, and countless other organizations and PACs. Given this, it should be painfully obvious that his only loyalties are to those who line his pockets, not to the health and welfare of the constituents he is supposed to be serving.
Most people recognize, at least to some degree, the unparalleled corruption of this man. Recent polls show that McConnell is the most unpopular senator in the country. His approval rating is hovering in the low thirties, so there is a very real possibility that he will be defeated when he runs for reelection in 2020. Even in his home state of Kentucky, he has the lowest approval rating of any sitting Senator. This is the fundamental reason he is becoming increasingly hysterical in his rants against his opponents.
This man shouldn’t be anywhere near the halls of Congress. He should be in jail; his crimes are far more egregious than those of most of today’s inmates. He is a traitor to his country. Nothing more, nothing less.
The Republican leaders in this country have long since been the allies of big business, and caters to their every whim. This should be obvious to anyone who has ever read or listened to the news. This chapter will examine some of the more corrupt business practices that Republicans and the mainstream media choose to ignore.
I will commence by noting how certain politicians are rigging the system and engaging in what amounts to insider trading. Progress America informs us: “right now, members of Congress are permitted to trade stocks on the same issues that they oversee. In any other industry, it would be considered insider trading. In Congress, it’s business as usual. Sen. Bob Corker sat on a Senate committee that oversees infrastructure while trading hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of stock in energy infrastructure companies. Sens. Pat Toomey and Sheldon Whitehouse trade health stocks while serving on health subcommittees, while Tom Udall does the same on energy. Sen. James Inhofe bought stock in a military contractor just days after pushing for expanded military spending, in an almost blatant display of potential insider trading.” (Mike Phelan, Progress America, June 12, 2019) Not all are Republicans, illustrating that corruption seems to be built into the body politic itself.
When it comes to corruption in big business, Facebook is one of the more egregious offenders. The New York Times investigated the company and found that for years they have been giving away user’s communications and private information without having first secured permission or providing any kind of notification. This information is then given to more than 150 other companies. (Gabriel Dance, Michael LaForgia and Nicholas Confessore, “As Facebook Raised a Privacy Wall, It Carved an Opening for Tech Giants,” The New York Times, Dec. 19, 2018.) Microsoft and Ford Motors are just two of the companies profiting from Facebook’s underhanded practices. Clearly, Facebook is more than willing to exploit its 2.2 billion users for profit, even though doing so violates not only their own stated privacy policies, but the law itself. CREDO Action informs us: “None of your data is off-limits. Facebook allowed Netflix and Spotify to read private messages. It enabled Amazon and Sony to obtain users’ email addresses through their friends. Facebook gave user data to Apple devices even when users had disabled data sharing…Facebook has a long history of these kinds of abuses. In 2011, the Federal Trade Commission charged Facebook with eight counts of violating its own privacy agreements. The FTC issued a decree that prohibited Facebook from sharing user data without explicit permission. Facebook absurdly claims that its latest data giveaway doesn’t violate that agreement, because these companies have agreed to follow Facebook’s own privacy policies and thus are an extension of Facebook itself.” (Brandy Doyle, CREDOAction. January 3, 2019)
The gun lobby is also big business, and the Republican party will stop at nothing to tow their agenda. In February, House Democrats passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, a sensible piece of legislation that would require background checks of all potential gun purchasers. Since then, the Act has stalled in the Republican-led Senate; there has yet to be a vote on it. As is the case with everything else introduced by the House, Mitch McConnell refuses to allow this bill to be brought to vote. This even though the United States averages one mass shooting per day and some 40,000 people died in 2018 due to gun violence. CREDOAction reports: “One of the most devious ways that the NRA blocks gun laws is by preventing us from even studying the gun violence epidemic. And without studies on gun violence, it is virtually impossible to pass laws to fight it…This ban has stopped researchers from answering basic questions that could keep people safe. Questions like: Are communities where more people carry guns safer or less safe? Does the availability of high-capacity magazines increase deaths? Do more rigorous background checks make a difference? Being able to answer these questions could hold the key to crafting policies that could prevent thousands of deaths every year.” (Brandy Doyle, CREDOAction, June 21, 2019) The National Rifle Association has been successful for decades in blocking federal gun violence research, but 2019 saw the House of Representatives allotted $50 billion to study gun violence.
The Us Campaign provides some necessary statistics about the gun lobby: “If Washington lawmakers were listening to Us, they’d pass common sense gun control policies. But special interests like the National Rifle Association and gun manufacturers have bought the ear of our representatives, drowning out the will of the people. The evidence? 1) 96% of Americans support background checks for gun sales, and 67% support a federal database to track those sales. 2) But the gun lobby spent $50.2 million during the 2016 election cycle to elect candidates that refuse to support new gun laws. 3) These tragedies are senseless and preventable. They continue to plague our country because Republican lawmakers refuse to take action. (The Us Campaign, May 29, 2019) The article concludes with a statement that Republicans have forgotten: “A government of, by and for the people should act to protect its citizens, rather than serving the PACs and special interests.”
Although most people are unaware of the fact, Big Pharma is the largest lobbying group in Washington, and has as a consequence become so corrupt that, were it not threatening people’s lives, would be laughable. Eli Lilli, a pharmaceutical company based in Indiana, raked in some nine billion dollars in profits during 2018, yet the cost of the insulin they manufacture has skyrocketed, leaving many needy diabetics without the medication they require. Over the past decade, the cost of insulin has more than doubled. The Health Care Voter Team tells us: “Pharmaceutical companies are prioritizing their profits over the lives of people with diabetes and their families. Instead of reigning them in, lawmakers in Washington are pandering to Big Pharma by handing out tax breaks and giving former Pharma CEOs jobs in the administration—all while cashing in massive campaign donations.” (The Health Care Voter Team, June 20, 2019) Clearly, the healthcare system in the United States is broken.
Monsanto, an agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation, was acquired by Bayer in 2018 as a part of its crop science division. One of Monsanto’s innovations was in their development of Roundup, which is a glyphosate-based herbicide that has been in use since the 1970s. Monsanto was a major producer of genetically-engineered crops. In May, 2019, the company was ordered to pay $2 billion in damages to a Livermore couple who claimed that the glyphosate caused them to contract non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. CREDOAction tells us that: “Glyphosate is linked to devastating incidences of cancer, plummeting monarch butterfly populations and catastrophic bee colony collapse. But despite all the evidence, the EPA is still refusing to ban glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s toxic Roundup weed killer. Pressure on the EPA is growing as local governments and other countries are starting to ban glyphosate. We have an opportunity to increase that pressure now as the EPA is taking public comments on its outrageous decision that glyphosate is safe…After the International Agency for Research on Cancer found glyphosate is likely to cause cancer, several cities and counties banned the toxic chemical, including the city of Miami and Los Angeles County. But the EPA, the agency responsible for protecting us from environmental harm, is still ignoring the evidence.” (Brandy Doyle, CREDOAction, June 18, 2019)
The House of Representatives recognizes the immorality of what the pharmaceutical industry is doing. They have passed the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act which is currently, not surprisingly, languishing in the Senate. Obviously, to Republicans the health and well-being of the American people takes a back seat to the obscene profits the pharmaceutical industry is raking in.
Need to Impeach reports: “Trump’s favorite lender Deutsche Bank is under federal investigation for not complying with laws designed to deter money laundering and other crimes.” (NTI Updates, June 21, 2019) Deutsche Bank has lent billions of dollars to the Trump and Kushner companies. The article continues: “One of Jared Kushner’s real estate companies has received $90 million in foreign funding since he started working at the White House. At this writing the depth of Kushner and Trump’s illegal activities with the bank have yet to be revealed.
Daily Kos provides us with much pertinent information on this matter: “The investigation includes a review of Deutsche Bank’s handling of so-called suspicious activity reports that its employees prepared about possibly problematic transactions, including some linked to President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, according to people close to the bank and others familiar with the matter…The Justice Department has been investigating Deutsche Bank since 2015, when agents were examining its role in laundering billions of dollars for wealthy Russians through a scheme known as mirror trading. Customers would use the bank to convert Russian rubles into dollars and euros via a complicated series of stock trades in Europe and the United States…Ms. McFadden (a former anti-money laundering compliance officer at the bank) told The Times that she had warned in summer 2016 about transactions by the Kushner Companies involving money being sent to Russian individuals. Other Deutsche Bank employees prepared reports in 2017 flagging transactions involving legal entities associated with Mr. Trump, including his now-defunct charitable foundation, according to current and former bank employees. In both instances, the suspicious activity reports were never filed with the Treasury Department.” (Daily Kos, June 19, 2019)
Twitter is also running scared of the Republican extremists. A Daily Kos author tells us of an incident involving the promotion of his book and how Twitter handled it: “We now know who complained to Twitter about the satirical Klan hoods from the cover of my book ‘Alt-America’ in my profile pic and convinced them to suspend my account. It was an alt-right troll who features Pepe in his profile pic. He decided to brag about it on Twitter, and brought along the receipts, including Twitter’s official response to his complaint. In other words, Twitter suspended my work exposing the very same white nationalist hate it claims it is attempting to expunge from its site at the behest of an alt-right white nationalist who objected to my work. And it continues to stand by that decision. Recall, if you will, Twitter’s rationale for suspending my account: ‘We don’t allow hateful symbols in avatars or header images in order to protect users from unintentionally being exposed to abusive imagery that can be upsetting. We know that some people may use these symbols to confront a hateful ideology, but that’s not always obvious at first glance. In this case, additional context in the account profile clarifies the intent, but that isn’t always visible in the product. So, for example, someone viewing the header on mobile wouldn’t have the extra context, and would only see the hateful image.’ As I noted at the time, this simply fails the test of both fairness and effectiveness: Not only is there nothing innately hateful about the image from my book cover, this also has the effect of opening the door to classic alt-right white nationalist tactics, which revolve around the appropriation of images and symbols from the mainstream, adopting them as very lightly coded signals of ideological affiliation: ‘think of all those Pepe and ‘Groyper’ alt-right avatars out there’ is how I put it.” (David Neiwert, Daily Kos, June 21, 2019)
The article concludes by discussing how alt-right trolls operate: “For anyone who’s even vaguely familiar with alt-right trolls and how they operate and, most of all, what their symbology represents, the image of Pepe is an unmistakable signal that you’re dealing with an alt-right troll, and over 90% of the time that troll is an unrepentant racist, anti-Semite, and all-around vicious bigot, not to mention a devoted white nationalist intent on creating a Caucasian ethnostate…The end result is multi-pronged: Not only does Twitter utterly fail to prevent the spread of white-nationalist hate speech, it refuses to even attempt to distinguish between such speech and the reportage of journalists and activists dedicated to exposing it. Twitter’s algorithms and policies privilege white nationalist trolling, recruitment, and innate hate speech while punishing serious and legitimate mainstream reportage on the phenomenon.”
And of course, every American knows how much Trump relies on Twitter to get his hate-filled, fact-challenged messages out to the public.
There was a time when large companies actually cared about their employees. It is becoming increasingly obvious that those days are over. The AFL/CIO provides us with one example: “31,000 workers at Stop & Shop supermarkets across Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island have gone on strike. Management at Stop & Shop presented its ‘final offer’ to workers, which included significant cuts to health care, massive increases (more than 100% in some cases) to workers’ health care premiums and replacing wage increases with so-called bonuses. This represents a massive step backward, with many workers facing reduced weekly earnings if they agree to this final offer. On top of this, Stop & Shop’s parent company reported more than $2 billion in profits last year. This is not the time to ask for concessions. Rather, this is a time to invest in the workers who have made Stop & Shop so successful and profitable. They deserve and have earned a better life.” (Richard Trumka, AFL/CIO, April 11, 2019) Republican solutions to instances such as this are crystal clear: They will always side with the business. The guy at the bottom is of no concern to them.
In my previous articles I have drawn many obvious parallels between the Nazi regime during the Second World War and the ever-encroaching fascist state Trump and his minions are moving us toward. Here, I will provide more ominous examples of how the American government is continuing on its step-by-step path toward a totalitarian regime.
Ditch Mitch illustrates the connections between fascism and the leaders of today’s Republican party. “When you look at how democracies devolve into autocracies, the pattern is frequently the same. Often it starts with economic downturn, disruption, or growing inequality. New leaders come to power by promising to fix everything while demonizing a minority group or groups. They attack the integrity of independent and critical press along the way. Once in power, they stack the courts with judges who will side with them. They manufacture emergencies and crises. And when their slow erosion of norms and consolidation of powers are challenged through the judicial system, the judges they put there defend them and declare their actions are constitutional.” (Ditch Mitch, March 15, 2019) The point is ominously clear: What occurred in Germany in the 1930s is happening in the United States right now. We must remember that old historical axiom, namely that those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.
One of the more obvious parallels is the right-wing’s persistence in supporting totalitarian governments all over the globe. This has already been covered, and I need not repeat any of this here. However, there is another angle to this, namely the brazenly open effort of many major corporations to lend their support to such regimes, while Republican leaders either turn their heads or else openly support these businesses’ nefarious dealings.
McKinsey & Company, an extremely powerful global business management and consulting firm, is but one of these corporations supporting totalitarian regimes that have no regard for human rights and that lie, steal, torture and murder at will. One former consultant with the firm noted: The world is divided into people who are for beheadings and against beheadings.”
Another quote brings us much closer to the heart of the matter: “McKinsey’s fingerprints can be found at the scene of some of the most spectacular corporate and financial debacles of recent decades.” (Ben Chu, The Independent, 2014) The objective fact is that, for the past twenty or more years, McKinsey has been involved in many scandals. Perhaps the most notable was Enron, whose founder, Jeff Skilling, was a McKinsey consultant for over twenty years and who was jailed after his company collapsed. Enron used McKinsey on twenty different projects.
McKinsey is also indirectly involved with Valeant, a pharmaceutical company located in Canada, currently being investigated by the SEC. More to the point, McKinsey has direct ties to the Saudi government and counts Turkey’s dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the former President of Ukraine Victor Yanukovych, and numerous other Chinese and Russian companies currently under sanction for various human rights violations. If this were not enough, the company is also involved in other scandals, including the South African governmental and infrastructure scandal, as well as a 2018 racketeering lawsuit. CREDOAction informs us that: “McKinsey held a recent global staff party in the Chinese desert just miles from one of the concentration camps where the Chinese government is detaining as many as 1 million ethnic Uighurs for indoctrination. It was an ugly symbol of a corporation that claims to be a purveyor of best business practices and a force for good, but makes big bucks by lending its credibility to some of the worst regimes in the world.” (Josh Nelson, CREDOAction, January 2, 2019) Finally, there are literally dozens of front companies for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin that are McKinsey clients—raising the question of how deeply involved the Trump administration is, given Trump’s support for the Russian dictator.
I have repeatedly referred to Trump as a fascist, a proto-fascist, and a dictator-in-wait. Further proof of extremism is seen in the fact that he has repeatedly said that he might stay in office longer than the two terms allotted him in the U.S. Constitution. Here is a direct quote from the president: “We’re going to have a second [term], and then we’re going to have another one. We’ll drive them crazy. And maybe if we really like it a lot, and if things keep going like they are going, we’ll go and we’ll do what we have to do, and a three [terms] and a four, and a five.” This is yet Richard Cohen, Washington Post: Trump “is Hitlerian in his thinking.”
Paul Krugman, New York Times: “It takes willful blindness not to see the parallels between the rise of fascism and our current political nightmare.” Another example of a man who routinely ignores the Constitution and the laws of the land. Only dictators would want to remain in power longer than the time limits imposed on their office. This is why we cannot wait until the end of Trump’s presidency to vote him out of office: Impeachment proceedings must begin immediately if we are to survive as a free nation. Many leading politicians are in agreement; most recently, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, when asked by CNN’s Chris Como if impeachment proceedings should commence based on the findings of the Mueller report and other issues, McCabe said: “Absolutely. I think we are clearly there with the results of the special counsel team. There are so many witnesses who could provide important essential testimony to Congress that can only be done in the scope of an impeachment inquiry.”
Daily Kos provides us with some quotes that illustrate how Nazism is coming to America: “Henry S. Rosen, Daily Kos: ‘Any student of history can compare current times to the rise of fascism in the 1930s—when an electorate reeling from The Great Depression brought to power Hitler and emboldened Mussolini.’ Neal Gabler, BillMoyers.com: ‘Like Goebbels before them, conservatives understood that they had to create their own facts, their own truths, their own reality.’ Dana Milbank, Washington Post: ‘Anti-Semitism is no longer an undertone of Trump’s campaign. It’s the melody…When the election returns come in Tuesday night, it will be Nov. 9 in Germany—the 78th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the ‘Night of Broken Glass’ at the start of the Holocaust when Nazis vandalized synagogues and businesses.’ Charles Blow, New York Times: ‘[Trump is] the demi-fascist of Fifth Avenue…an arguably fascist and racist demagogue.’” Hammerinhank, Daily Kos, November 5, 2019)
Perhaps the stupidest ideas concerning fascism comes from the right-wing. In their efforts to smear liberals, they try to “prove” that there are connections between fascism and today’s liberals. As absurd as this idea is, it has been around for some years now. Daily Kos has an excellent article on this subject: “Jonah Goldberg just keeps inspiring people—whether he intends to or not. Take Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, for example. Earlier this week, after visiting a Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, Bolsonaro was asked whether he agreed with comments made by his foreign minister claiming that the Nazis of Germany were ‘leftists.’ He did: ‘There is no doubt, right?’ he said to reporters. He added that the appearance of the word ‘socialist’ in the Nazis’ official party name proved it. The museum he had just visited, however, is clear about the matter, telling visitors at its website that the German Nazi Party arose out of ‘radical right-wing groups’ in Europe. Where would Bolsonaro get his ideas? He didn’t credit anyone, but the ultimate lineage of this idea really belongs to Goldberg. Perhaps, secondarily and more contemporarily, he’s been absorbing the derivative work of Dinesh D’Souza. Worst of all, he is far from alone. From Charlottesville to Portland to Christchurch, we’re awash in the effects of a resurgent white nationalist movement that considers the ‘liberal smear’ that fascism was a right-wing movement further evidence of a ‘cultural Marxist’ campaign against white Western civilization. D’Souza’s book The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left—which has been a bestseller, despite having been systematically dismantled by everyone from Ross Douthat to Mark Bray to Kevin M. Kruse and exposed as a risible fraud from start to finish—was in fact, as Douthat suggests, essentially a dumbed-down, frat-boy repackaging of Goldberg’s 2008 best-seller, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning. D’Souza also made a slickly produced ‘documentary’ pursuing this thesis further, titled Death of a Nation. Indeed, it seems that even though Goldberg has been previously supportive of D’Souza’s work—including appearing in, as well helping to promote, his previous film, Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party, which in fact includes his earliest iteration of the ‘Nazis were leftists’ claim—he’s becoming uncomfortable with where the whole thing has been going.” (David Neiwert, Daily Kos, April 7, 2019)
The article also discusses Goldberg’s book and Neiwert’s review of it: “Beyond the Klan, completely missing from the pages of Goldberg’s book is any mention of the Silver Shirts, the American Nazi Party, the Posse Comitatus, the Aryan Nations, or the National Alliance—all of them openly fascist organizations, many of them involved in some of the nation’s most horrific historical events. (The Oklahoma City bombing, for instance, was the product of a blueprint drawn up by the National Alliance’s William Pierce.) Goldberg sees fit to declare people like Wilson, FDR, LBJ, and Hillary Clinton ‘American fascists,’ but he makes no mention of William Dudley Pelley, Gerald L.K. Smith, George Lincoln Rockwell, William Potter Gale, Richard Butler, or David Duke—all of them bona fide fascists: the real thing. This is a telling omission, because the continuing existence of these groups makes clear what an absurd and nakedly self-serving thing Goldberg’s alternate version of reality is. Why dream up fascists on the left when the reality is that real American fascists have been lurking in the right’s closet for lo these many years? Well, maybe because it’s a handy way of getting everyone to forget that fact. Goldberg responded, and we had a brief but spirited exchange at our blogs that ended after he decided I was unworthy of his time, which seems to be his most recent conclusion as well.” It goes without saying that both Goldberg and D’Souza have received the royal treatment from the American press.
The connections between today’s Republican leaders and the fascist leaders of the 1930s is obvious to anyone willing to examine the issue: Just look at what they are doing.
Fundamentalist Christians, who imagine themselves to be the upholders of “true morality,” have gone off the deep end in their support of the megalomaniac in the White House. Daily Kos reports: “A chilling op-ed in today’s NY Times by author Katherine Stewart, who has extensively studied and written about the Christian right, says that the far right have been pushing a meme for several years now that Donald Trump, conman and egomaniac, has been sent by God to be ‘a vessel for the purposes of the faithful’ in the role of King of the United States of America.” (Paul C., Daily Kos, January 1, 2019) You read that right: King of the United States! The anti-Americanism of the Christian right is nowhere better seen than in the idea that they want to scrap the Constitution and revert back to pre-rational days when the word of the king was sacrosanct and his power unquestioned. The article concludes: “Stewart provides numerous quotations from across the spectrum of the religious right leadership pushing this meme that God sent Trump to be King, including Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Ralph Drollinger who leads weekly bible study groups at the White House attended by Mike Pence and members of the Cabinet. In her article Stewart confirms our worst suspicions about what Trump’s core followers see in him: This isn’t the religious right we thought we knew. The Christian nationalist movement today is authoritarian, paranoid and patriarchal at its core. They aren’t fighting a culture war. They’re making a direct attack on democracy itself. And, according to Stewart, Trump has been egging them on, goading their preachers for becoming too ‘soft’—as he openly muses about becoming ‘President for life’.”
The far-right justices on the Supreme Court are not about to take the separation of church and state seriously. Indeed, the idea of the United States turning into a Christian theocracy is increasingly become a very real possibility. Daily Kos wrote of the threat; although long, it needs to be quoted in full: “One inherent danger of allowing a religious minority to install a puppet controlled by religious fanatics in the White House is the now unfolding threat of government officially establishing religion—the Christian religion. Any American’s confidence that the U.S. Constitution is a protection against government establishing religion is grossly misplaced and, that belief is about to be disabused by the current religious conservatives responsible for adjudicating the law of the land. Because a nearly half-century-old Supreme Court ruling prevented the government from advancing religion, the wall of separation between church and state is almost certainly going to be eviscerated by the Christian conservatives on the current Supreme Court. The crusade to demolish the wall of separation is being advanced by one of the Heritage Foundation SCOTUS nominees confirmed shortly after Trump corrupted every aspect of the government his tiny little hands touched. However, it is noteworthy that Neil Gorsuch’s theocratic crusade is wholly supported by Trump’s other SCOTUS appointee, religious serial liar and sexual abuser Brett Kavanaugh. The reason the ‘Establishment Clause’ is going to be found unconstitutional by the current Court’s Christian conservatives is crystal clear; they believe a 1970’s-era ruling prohibiting government establishment of religion adhered to the U.S. Constitution and is patently wrong. The prohibition on government establishing religion is appalling to evangelicals and the theocrats on the High Court are not going to tolerate it any longer.
Fundamentalist Christians like Gorsuch and his ilk have no respect for anyone daring to hold different views on religion. Sometimes the way they act is a national disgrace. Take the recent special election of Movita Johnson-Harrell, the first Muslim elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Her inauguration was turned into a disgraceful affair; Stephanie Borowicz, a Republican, deliver the opening legislative prayer, just before her being sworn in. Borowicz, knowing full well that Johnson-Harrell is not a Christian, mentioned Jesus no less than thirteen times; her prayer was only two minutes long! If this were not enough, she also praised Trump, as an ally of Israel. As insulting as this is, it illustrates exactly why prayer is unacceptable in any government meeting. Republicans like Borowicz are Islamophobes, to be sure, and they need to either learn that not everyone is a fundamentalist Christian, or else, preferably, get out of government altogether. They also need to understand the Constitution they were elected to uphold; the First Amendment is crystal clear on this matter: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” If this were not enough, the Bill of Rights extends this clause to individual states.
In today’s religiously-saturated world, voices of theocratic totalitarianism are becoming more and more mainstream; how else could an extremist like Gorsuch have even been considered for the Supreme Court? Here are two others; the list could be multiplied many times over. I owe a great deal of gratitude to Church & State magazine’s June 2019 article entitled “The (Not-so) Magnificent Seven” from which the following information was garnered: 1) Franklin Graham, son of Billy: “Franklin Graham is a cheerleader for the Republican party 24/7, and that includes boosting Trump. The idea that Trump was chosen by God to lead the nation is gaining in popularity among the Religious Right, and it appears to have started with the younger Graham.” 2) Bryan Fischer: “Radio talk-show host and columnist for the American Family Association (AFA). He’s notorious for making extreme statements—that religious freedom in America applies only to Christians, that Adolf Hitler recruited gay men to be his stormtroopers, that Muslims are a ‘toxic cancer’ on America, that women are unfit for public office, that animals that kill people should be stoned to death per biblical edict—and as a result enjoys a cult following among Religious Right activists.”
It is time to provide a few quotes from Republican theocrats that collectively show just how scary their ideas actually are. Here they are, in no particular order:
I could go on, and on, but I won’t. Enough said.
Since I began this expose on the dangers posed by today’s Republicans, religious tyranny has been one of my key talking points. The separation between religion and government has been a good thing for everyone, including wrong-headed religionists. We ignore it at our peril. If we destroy it, we are committing national suicide.
The Report on the Investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, more commonly known as the Mueller report, was released, in highly redacted form, on April 19, 2019. The redacted portions remain, as this is written, under Trump’s temporary “protective assertion” of executive privilege, which means the material is being withheld from Congress. Thus, Trump lied when he said that he would not assert executive privilege over the special counsel’s report. This is further evidence, if any were even remotely needed, that the president of the United States cannot be trusted at his word.
Need to Impeach summarized the report upon its release: “Here’s what stood out to us: 1) The Trump campaign knew about and encouraged Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election; they did not report it to the FBI. 2) Donald Trump had prior knowledge of WikiLeak’s release of Clinton’s emails. 3) Within five hours of Trump publicly asking them to, Russia made its first attempt to hack Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails. 4) Special Counsel Robert Mueller could not clear Trump of ‘criminal conduct,’ given the considerable evidence of obstruction of justice. 5) Mueller left the decision on obstruction up to Congress, since he said that Justice Department policy prohibited him from indicting a sitting president. And, 6) Mueller sent out 14 criminal referrals for investigation, only two of which are public.” (Kat Bocanegra Speed, Need to Impeach, April 19, 2019)
People’s Action weighs in: “Robert S. Mueller III revealed the scope of a historic Russian campaign to sabotage the 2016 presidential election in a much-anticipated report made public on Thursday, and he detailed a frantic months long effort by President Trump to thwart a federal investigation that imperiled his presidency from the start. The report laid bare that Mr. Trump was elected with the help of a foreign power, and cataloged numerous meetings between Mr. Trump’s advisers and Russians seeking to influence the campaign and the presidential transition team—encounters set up in pursuit of business deals, policy initiatives and political dirt about Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate for president. The special counsel concluded that there was ‘insufficient evidence’ to determine that the president or his aides had engaged in a criminal conspiracy with the Russians, even though the Trump campaign welcomed the Kremlin sabotage effort and ‘expected it would benefit electorally’ from the hacks and leaks of Democratic emails. Then, after federal investigators opened an inquiry into the extraordinary Russian campaign, the president repeatedly tried to undermine it.” (Amy Traub, People’s Action, April 19, 2019)
MoveOn adds more: “…Mueller documented that Donald Trump Jr. had direct electronic communications with WikiLeaks and that ‘by the late summer of 2016, the Trump campaign was planning a press strategy, a communications campaign, and messaging based on the possible release of Clinton emails by WikiLeaks. The Mueller report then details 11 ‘episodes’ where Trump may have obstructed justice, as he sought to hide his campaign’s connections with Russia, but noted that it was Congress’ job to investigate and determine consequences for those acts. ‘Even in its incomplete form,’ House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler said today, ‘the Mueller report outlines disturbing evidence that President Trump engaged in obstruction of justice.’ That evidence includes repeated and blatant efforts by Trump to get White House Counsel Don McGahn to lie about efforts to fire Robert Mueller, multiple requests made to Jeff Sessions to ‘un-recuse’ himself and stop the investigation outright, messages sent to Michael Flynn’s lawyers asking for a ‘heads-up’ about any information relating to Trump in his trial, direct requests from Trump’s lawyers that Michael Cohen lie to Congress about Trump’s involvement with Russia and Vladimir Putin, and more.” (MoveOn Investigations Team, April 18, 2019) The article gives this apt summary: “We have always known that the corruption and criminality of the Trump administration were unlike anything we had seen in the modern era, and the Mueller report provides detailed, painstakingly investigated evidence confirming that assertion.”
Mueller said that if Trump were exonerated, he would have said so. He obtained tons of information that Trump did obstruct justice, but said at the outset that he would not issue a finding that the president should be charged, no matter what the investigation uncovered. Mueller passed on the responsibility for charging the president with corruption to Congress.
Ditch Mitch discussed McConnell’s fear of the report: “Today, a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report was released. But even though it was promised to be only ‘lightly’ redacted, much of it was still withheld from public view. Last month, the House unanimously passed a resolution by a vote of 420-0 calling for the report to be released in full, but Mitch McConnell has blocked vote after vote on the measure in the Senate because he knows it would pass with overwhelming bipartisan support. But should we really be surprised? This is no different than when Mitch refused to allow a vote on a bipartisan bill protecting Mueller’s investigation in the first place. When he refused to allow a vote to reopen the government during Trump’s month-long shutdown. And it’s certainly no different than when he blocked Merrick Garland or rammed through Brett Kavanaugh. What is Mitch McConnell so afraid of? What does he believe is in Mueller’s unredacted report that he is trying to hide? If there was truly ‘no collusion,’ if this entire thing was really just a ‘witch hunt,’ then there should be no reason that the full version of Mueller’s report shouldn’t be released to the public.” (Ditch Mitch, April 18, 2019) If Trump really was innocent, he and McConnell should be screaming for the full report to be released. The fact they are doing the opposite speaks volumes about the guilt of both men.
Incidentally, the shutdown cost the U.S. economy even more than the billions of dollars he wants for his border wall. Trump also showed his ignorance about shopping when he said that shutdown victims could buy their groceries on credit. Obviously, he’s never stepped foot in a grocery store!
This year, there have been several hearings in the House Judiciary Committee regarding the Russian scandal. A June 20 hearing, titled “Bipartisan Perspectives,” turned into a joke as Republicans stepped up their efforts to protect the president from the consequences of his actions. Four witnesses were called to testify. Two were law professors and two are national security and foreign policy experts. They were called to answer questions on several instances of obstruction of justice the Mueller report detailed. They were also questioned on the national security threat that the Trump campaign created in the 2016 presidential election, as well as what this may mean for the upcoming election in 2020.
Need To Impeach tells us of the results: “The main takeaway from the hearing, articulated by both Democratic and Republican witnesses, is this: the 2020 election is not safe from further hostile foreign interference, and Trump’s behavior renders him unfit for office—and a national security threat. (Need to Impeach, June 21, 2019)
The article continues by noting how the entire proceeding turned into a mockery of justice: “Trump’s former aide Hope Hicks testified behind closed doors in a House Judiciary hearing Democrats called ‘a farce.’ Despite being a key witness in the Special Counsel investigation (her name was mentioned 184 times in the Mueller report!), Hicks dodged questions and brought White House lawyers (who repeatedly interrupted) to claim she had ‘absolute immunity’ from answering questions (she doesn’t). Hicks apparently would not even answer questions like where her office was located in the West Wing or if she told Mueller the truth. Rep Pramila Hayapal (D-WA) quipped that the only thing the lawyers would let her answer was her name. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) called the whole charade ‘obstruction of justice in action’ and said the White House lawyers were ‘making crap up’ to stonewall her testimony.”
Finally, the article notes: “Buried in a New York Times article last weekend about the U.S. attacking Russia’s power grid was the fact that Pentagon and intelligence officials don’t trust the president. They are worried about going into detail with Trump for fear he will undo these critical national security efforts or share the plans with foreign officials (or just on Twitter) as he has done before. It’s hard to convey just how insane it is that our intelligence community doesn’t trust the President of the United States not to share state secrets with the Russians. It also underscores how critical it is we see Trump’s tax returns in order to find out who he is paying—and who is paying him.”
Daily Kos weighs in on this ridiculous scenario: “It wasn’t just DOJ lawyers running interference for Hicks. There were also lawyers from the White House Counsel’s Office. And Hicks had her own lawyers. The result was that: ‘Objection!’ was the most common word heard in the room, and every question became a multi-lawyer conversation before Hicks was allowed to make the slightest response. The end result appears to have been no information, no congressional oversight, and an enormous expansion of executive power. And no, Hicks ‘breaking’ from Trump in making a theoretical statement about what should be done with data from a foreign government doesn’t score as a win.” (Mark Sumner, Daily Kos, June 20, 2019)
The article aptly concludes: Meanwhile, Trump was off to Hannity to explain that former White House counsel Don McGahn was lying when he said that Trump had made multiple efforts to fire Robert Mueller. ‘I wanted to be totally open because I knew there was nothing there,’ said Trump. And then Trump said that he wanted to ‘let everybody testify.”
Fortunately, there are at least a few politicians who are attempting to fight this criminal administration. Congressman Adam Schiff is one of them. The California Democrat introduced the Prohibiting Foreign Election Assistance Act on June 20, 2019. Given that Trump has, as Schiff reports, “put out an ‘open for business’ sign for any foreign actor who might offer him dirt on his political opponents,” this is an absolutely essential piece of legislation. It should go without saying that seeking foreign interference in United States political elections should be illegal, yet Republicans don’t think so—as long as it benefits them.
The day after introducing this legislation, Schiff sent out an email to his constituents which noted: “In his report, Special Counsel Robert Mueller says that they considered charging the Trump campaign for seeking damaging information on Hillary Clinton from Russia, but that current law made it difficult to bring an airtight case. For one thing, the law wasn’t clear on whether the information from Russia would qualify as ‘a thing of value.’ Of course it should, and my new bill will remove all doubt. (Adam Schiff, letter to constituents, June 21, 2019)
Congressman Schiff continues: “Mueller also said that it would be difficult to prove that Don Jr., Manafort, and Kushner knew what they were doing was a crime, even though they went to great lengths to conceal and cover up their meeting with the Russian delegation in Trump Tower. But Mueller’s decision not to prosecute doesn’t mean what Trump’s campaign did is okay. Far from it. And after the president’s comments, we need to make it absolutely clear to future campaigns that it’s also illegal.
Let us take a momentary aside to see how bad our justice system has become. Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager, committed bank and tax fraud. His sentence? 47 months. Meanwhile, a homeless man, Fate Winslow, helped sell $20 of pot and was given life in prison. So much for “equal justice under the law.” Daily Kos gives us more proof of what the future holds with more and more right-wing justices being appointed: “Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was sentenced to 47 months in prison on March 7, despite federal sentencing guidelines calling for 19 to 25 years. At his sentencing, Reagan-appointed Judge Thomas Ellis said that Manafort had lived an otherwise ‘blameless’ life. This, about a man who helped Russia overthrow a Democratic government, staged riots to thwart NATO expansion and represented brutal dictators. In 2009, Judge Ellis sentenced liberal African-American Congressman William Jefferson to thirteen years in prison, and has likewise been firm with other criminal defendants.” (Paul Hogarth, Daily Kos, March 9, 2019)
Daily Kos pulls no punches on the Russian scandal: “The Mueller report made clear that Russia intervened in the 2016 election and plans to do so again in 2020. And right now, Congress isn’t doing anything to stop it. Mitch McConnell has blocked election security bills from making it to the Senate floor, the NRCC—House Republicans’ official campaign arm—won’t rule out using stolen or hacked material against Democratic candidates, and Donald Trump is openly inviting foreign powers to meddle in our elections on his behalf.” (Chris Bowers, Daily Kos, June 21, 2019)
Naturally, when the Mueller report was released, Trump insisted that it completely exonerated him. The president has repeatedly lied when he said there was “no collusion.” The report proved otherwise. Need to Impeach elaborates: “The Trump campaign knew about Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election and was in contact with them, but rather than reporting it to the FBI like any patriotic American would have, they actively encouraged it. Mueller found that the Trump campaign ‘expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.’ We know that Russian operatives first tried to steal Hillary Clinton’s emails right after Trump publicly asked them to. Trump also tried to get his subordinates to commit crimes when he asked his own campaign staff to find Clinton’s emails, and told an aide after a phone call that: ‘more releases of damaging information would be coming.’ The campaign had a press strategy planned around WikiLeaks’ release of Clinton’s emails. And after Trump won, Putin ‘deployed his oligarchs’ to make contact with the transition team. Legal scholars say the report’s findings should worry people that: ‘America’s own national security interests may not be guiding American foreign policy.’ We still don’t know why Trump denied any knowledge of Russian election interference during and after the campaign when he knew full well it was going on. Remember, this is a censored version of the report—just imagine what’s underneath the redactions. Fortunately, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler finally issued a subpoena for the full, unredacted report and underlying evidence, and Democratic leadership has called for Mueller to explain the report in public testimony.” (Need to Impeach, May 31, 2019)
The above article also lists several other telling points regarding the Mueller report: “1) The President’s written answers were ‘inadequate,’ according to Mueller’s team, but they didn’t want to wait for long delays for an in-person interview. He answered that he does not ‘recall,’ ‘remember,’ or have an ‘independent recollection’ over 30 times. 2) Trump instructed former White House Counsel Don McGahn to lie about Trump’s attempts to fire Mueller. 3) Trump also tried to influence Paul Manafort’s trial, attempting to sway the jury and encouraging Manafort not to cooperate. 4) ‘This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency,’ Trump exclaimed upon learning that Robert Mueller had been appointed as a special counsel in 2017. 5) Mueller’s team also sent out 14 criminal referrals, only two of which are public.” (Need to Impeach, May 31, 2019)
Donald Trump has no problem whatever in seeking the dirt on his opponents, no matter what the source. Clearly, he not only hasn’t learned a thing from the Russian scandal, he doesn’t even understand the laws of our country. He blatantly defied the law when he stated: “There isn’t anything wrong with listening to campaign opposition research presented by a foreign power.” This is a bald-faced lie; it is illegal for any campaign to accept any kind of assistance from a foreign power or entity. This is yet another example of a dictator-wannabe who thinks he is above the law and that the Constitution doesn’t apply to him. Members of his own party condemned what he said. Even such an extremist as Lindsey Graham said: “The law is pretty clear. You can’t take anything of value from a foreign government.” Mitt Romney (R-UT) opined: “It’s wrong. It’s antithetical to our democratic principles.”
What is interesting is that the Mueller report concerns itself only with the Russian scandal. The numerous other impeachable offenses are not mentioned, such as his repeated violations of the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution. If the Russian scandal had never happened, Trump would still merit impeachment on at least ten other criminal violations. Need to Impeach provides us with further insight into this utterly corrupt and shameless man: “Here’s something that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone: Trump’s pocketing money for himself. He charged his 2020 reelection campaign $1.3 million for ‘rent, food, lodging, and other expenses,’ essentially turning donor money into Trump money (a favorite hobby of his). It should also be noted that he’s contributed a total of $0 to his own reelection campaign—this coming from the guy who said in 2016: “I don’t need anybody’s money…I’m using my own money. I’m not using the lobbyists. I’m not using donors. I don’t care. I’m really rich.” (Need to Impeach, May 31, 2019) Comments like this coming from this brazen liar shouldn’t surprise anyone at this stage.
And of course, once the report (in its redacted version) was released, Trump spewed forth yet another lie, that the report “totally exonerates” him, even though the document specifically quoted Mueller as saying that one of his main findings “does not exonerate” the president.
Yet another Trump lie was when he said he wanted to “invest” in infrastructure and then turned around and cut 19% from the Transportation Department’s budget. Other cuts were seen in the EPA (31%), Agriculture (13%) and Education (12%).
To be sure, there are a few Republicans who recognize that the law is what it is but, as most of the Republicans in Congress have fascistic leanings, it should come as no surprise that many of them will side with the president should 2020 turn into a repeat of 2016. It’s all about seeing what they can get away with today, and then expanding on it tomorrow. Daily Kos warns us of the potential consequences: “While the GOP-led Senate is laying out the red carpet for foreign influencers, Trump’s favorite personal lawyer, Attorney General William Barr, is leading a well-publicized interrogation of the intelligence community charged with protecting American interests at home and abroad. Specifically, Barr’s Justice Department has requested interviews with the key CIA officials and analysts who helped investigate Russia’s 2016 election interference. Just imagine for a second the chilling effect Barr’s ongoing inquiry will have as we head into 2020. Going forward, every U.S. intelligence officer will be keenly aware that their agency’s highly-sensitive work in 2016 was scrutinized, publicized, maligned as sources were lost and careers were ruined at the direction of Donald Trump. As former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe told Nicolle Wallace this week, ‘My colleagues and I have been under investigation since January 2017,’ the moment Trump came into office. Now just imagine for another second that next year you have information or are concerned that something is awry or meddling has taken place. Do you report it to the authorities? Do you think about your career or maybe your family first. What if you’re a foreigner? Do you think about former MI6 officer Christopher Steele and his family going into hiding after the Steele dossier became public?” (Kerry Eleveld, Daily Kos, June 15, 2019) The article notes that Mitch McConnell has “blocked every election security bill that has come his way,” whether authored by Democrats or the few Republicans who still value the rule of law.
The article concludes on this ominous note: “This is a conspiracy to game the 2020 elections that, stated clear as day for all to hear by Trump himself, runs straight up the line and into the Oval Office. Republicans may not have some sort of master plan, but they have all the pieces in place—a system of vulnerabilities that will be open to interpretation by the people in power. And guess who’s mostly in power? Trump—aided by his Attorney General, the Senate Majority Leader and a conservative Supreme Court—will be positioned to take advantage of any election mischief or perceived irregularities. Armed with his bully pulpit and cadre of henchmen, Trump will decide when to make an issue of something and when to turn the other way. As long as they are in power, there’s no limit to the number of distortions they can create, investigations they can undertake, and close calls they can manipulate to their advantage. Look at the Supreme Court seats McConnell stole. Look at the report full of damning details about Trump’s behavior that Barr managed to muddy and mostly bury. Think of how many times Trump has mused about being president forever and how strong an impetus he has to stay in power so he won’t face criminal prosecution. Clearly, the Republicans will do anything and everything possible to stay in power. And for sure, this means stealing the 2020 elections.”
Barr never intended to take the Mueller investigation seriously. Need to Impeach gives us four reasons why: “ 1) Barr was never going to support any claim that Trump obstructed justice, because he’s never supported the Mueller investigation at all. Last year, he submitted a 19-page memo to the Department of Justice and Trump’s lawyers (apropos of nothing) calling Mueller’s investigation ‘fatally misconceived.’ It’s not exactly surprising that Barr would consider Mueller’s evidence ‘not sufficient’ to determine obstruction of justice. 2) Barr believes the role of the attorney general is essentially ‘attorney to the president.’ He’s wrong: The attorney general is supposed to be the lawyer for the federal government. Meanwhile, Barr’s making it as difficult as possible for Congress to see the full report because he’s trying to protect the president. 3) Trump reportedly discussed the obstruction memo with Barr before nominating him as attorney general. So yes, it’s fair to say Barr was hired to cover up Trump’s crimes—and he’s doing just that. 4) As attorney general in the early 1990s, Bar got president George H.W. Bush to pardon government officials convicted of crimes involving the Iran-Contra scandal. This isn’t the first time he’s helped a cover up.” (Need to Impeach, April 2, 2019)
The Russian scandal is now the Russia/Barr scandal.
Further proof of Barr’s corruption can be seen in the fact that within ten days of the release of his highly-redacted version of the Mueller report, he killed no less than seven different investigations launched by Mueller. Need to Impeach discusses several points that collectively prove Barr’s corruption which, although long, need to be quoted in full: “Whether he’s busy deceiving the American people or lying to Congress, William Barr isn’t acting like an attorney general. Instead, he’s working full time to defend Donald Trump’s crimes. The lies continued on Wednesday when Barr testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Here are some key takeaways from the hearing: 1) Barr confessed that he has not looked at the underlying evidence—evidence Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team compiled to draw conclusions—in the Mueller report. 2) Barr testified that he believes that the President can terminate a proceeding if he considers it unfounded, showing he considers the President above the law. 3) Barr lied when he said Mueller did not take the Office of Legal Counsel’s opinion into account in his decision not to prosecute Trump—because Mueller specifically did. 4) Barr made up bogus reasons that had nothing to do with obstruction of justice to explain Trump’s unsuccessful efforts to fire Mueller and former White House Counsel Don McGahn. 5) Barr wouldn’t deny whether Trump is still pressuring the Department of Justice to investigate his political enemies. He also didn’t deny claims that Trump continues to ask the DOJ for information about investigations into him and his associates. 6) There is reason to believe Barr may have played a part in ending the Mueller investigation.
William Barr, Trump’s Attorney General, is not doing his job; he is acting like Trump’s personal attorney rather than a servant of the people. He is using his office to shield the president from critical scrutiny and to provide him with unlimited power. The Atlantic gives us further insight into this man. Beginning with a short examination of Trump’s desire to have complete control of the government: “Donald Trump disdains, more than anything else, the limitations of checks and balances on his power. Witness his assertion of a right to flout all congressional subpoenas; his continuing refusal to disclose his tax returns, notwithstanding Congress’s statutory right to secure them; his specific actions to bar congressional testimony by government officials; and his personal attacks on judges who dare to subject the acts of his administration to judicial review. More blatant yet are his recent assertion of a right to accept dirt on political opponents from foreign governments, and his declaration of a national emergency, when he himself said he ‘did not need to do this,’ he just preferred to ‘do it much faster.’ Attorney General William Barr has not had the lead public role in advancing the president’s claims to these unprecedented powers, which have come to us, like most everything about this president, as spontaneous assertions of Trump’s own will. To the contrary, in securing his confirmation as attorney general, Barr successfully used his prior service as attorney general in the by-the-book, norm-following administration of George H. W. Bush to present himself as a mature adult dedicated to the rule of law who could be expected to hold the Trump administration to established legal rules. Having known Barr for four decades, including preceding him as deputy attorney general in the Bush administration, I knew him to be a fierce advocate of unchecked presidential power, so my own hopes were outweighed by skepticism that this would come true. But the first few months of his current tenure, and in particular his handling of the Mueller report, suggest something very different—that he is using the office he holds to advance his extraordinary lifetime project of assigning unchecked power to the president. On March 24, just two days after he received the Mueller report, Barr issued a terse four-page letter purporting to summarize the report’s major conclusions—and drawing one more that was critical—while offering virtually no facts. It was not until 25 days later, on April 18, that the redacted report itself appeared, after a stage-setting press conference by Barr the same morning. Its 448 pages raised severe doubts about the accuracy of some of Barr’s characterizations, and his ensuing testimony on Capitol Hill was an exercise in curmudgeonly obfuscation, as he held his ground while explaining almost nothing. Barr’s March 24 letter stated accurately that: ‘the Special Counsel did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government’ with regard to proven Russian efforts to hack computers and influence the election. He has since repeatedly misstated this conclusion as a finding of ‘no collusion,’ which it is not. Mueller documented plenty of collusion between Russians and Trump’s agents, even as he failed to find evidence beyond a reasonable doubt of a conspiracy (meaning agreement) to disrupt the election.” (Donald Ayer, The Atlantic, June 2019)
This is the man who is supposed to be our country’s chief law enforcement officer?
The article continues: “As to the investigation of possible obstruction of justice, while noting the report’s explicit statement that it could not ‘exonerate’ the president, Barr’s letter said that Mueller’s approach was just to ‘describe the facts of his obstruction investigation without reaching any legal conclusions and leave it to the Attorney General to determine whether the conduct described … constitutes a crime.’ In fulfillment of this self-assigned duty, the letter reports that ‘Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and I have concluded that the evidence developed … is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.’ The attorney general’s release of a redacted copy of the Mueller report on April 18, including the extensive facts recited in Volume II on the topic of obstruction of justice, produced great consternation. Many people who had supported Barr’s nomination because they thought he could be counted on to play straight were perplexed. He was sharply criticized for misleading the public about the findings of the investigation, which plainly chronicled numerous acts aimed at impairing the investigation. Mueller himself had noted in a letter to the attorney general on March 27 (but not released until much later) that the March 24 letter ‘did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions.’ Following the release of the report, more than a thousand former prosecutors (including me) signed a letter stating that under conventional understandings of what constitutes obstruction, the report made a very strong case. It would have been an easy call to indict Trump, were it not for the categorical Office of Legal Counsel opinion foreclosing federal criminal charges against any sitting president.”
During the hearings on his confirmation, Barr proved why he is so unqualified to serve as Attorney General: He refused to commit to not jailing reporters. If this weren’t scary enough, when questioned about the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, he said: “I couldn’t even tell you what it says.” The idea of an Attorney General who is not familiar with one of the main constitutional issues the president is violating should have set off alarms in everyone’s head. But it didn’t bother Republicans at all and he was easily confirmed.
One final comment on William Barr seems appropriate for some in-depth analysis: He is a fundamentalist Christian. What a surprise! Daily Kos has an excellent article on this theocrat; it’s quite long, but deserves inclusion here as it illustrates how religion is used for the most immoral purposes by the most immoral of people: “As the nation lurches closer towards being ruled by a tyrannical dictator with unwavering support from the Republican Party, the American people are ignoring an even greater threat to their waning secular democracy—rule by tyrannical theocrats. The rise of theocrats in powerful positions of authority is particularly disconcerting because not only was America created as a secular nation with a secular Constitution, but because the theocrats running the federal government represent a very small minority of the population. And now Trump has given that vicious minority what they elected him to do in the first place; another radical Christian extremist, William Barr, in a powerful federal government position.
Church and State offers more information on Barr’s extremism. The magazine begins by quoting his views on secularism: “‘The secularists of today are clearly fanatics.’ Barr accused secularists of undermining the ‘Judeo-Christian moral tradition,’ and their actions, he argued, have produced ‘soaring juvenile crime, widespread drug addiction, skyrocketing rates of venereal disease, 1.3 million children aborted each year.’” (Rob Boston, Church and State, January, 2019) Quoting from Barr’s 1995 essay entitled “Legal Issues in a New Political Order” the Church and State article continues: “In the essay, Barr again blamed the alleged moral decline of America on the rights movements of the 1960s…The tendency to blame cultural decay on the 1960s is a common ploy among the far right. The era was marked by rights movements, such as African Americans working to overthrow Jim Crow laws in the South and women demanding equality, that alarmed many on the extreme right. This included the religious conservatives who would, about a decade later, form the nucleus of the Religious Right and mount a backlash.” Judging by his own words, Barr and his ilk would take us back to that allegedly wonderful time in the 1950s when blacks were subjected to all kinds of evils and women existed solely to produce children and stay in the kitchen. And, anyone who dared not believe in a god, specifically the Christian version of god, was shunned or even attacked. These are the “good times” Barr wants us to return to.
Another article in the same magazine in the same month, there were other telling points against Barr: “In his speeches and writings from the 1990s, Barr spoke of ‘God’s will’ and ‘moral’ standards’ with all the certainty of a medieval bishop, eager to ferret out and punish ‘heretics.’ The problem is, Barr seeks the same thing every theocrat in history has yearned for: not God’s will, but what he believes God’s will to be.” (Theological Error article: Church and State, January 2019) One would think that, if there were a god, he/she/it would have made his views so unmistakably clear that there could be no possibility of misinterpretation. And, of course, there would be only one religion.
Clearly, William Barr is a thoroughly evil man, but one can only wonder how he reconciles his extreme piety with unswerving support of a dictator in the White House who lies at every opportunity. He is a prime example of what religious fanaticism entails.
Fundamentalist Christianity, theocracy, right-wing Republicanism, dishonesty, racism, hate, ignorance, crime, terrorism, lies, corruption, injustice, stealing, violence, and dictatorship. It’s all part of the same mind-set. To call it conservative is to degrade legitimate conservatism which has unfortunately all but disappeared in public discourse. We are instead hearing the ravings of madmen. And they are running the country. And they are all Christian fundamentalists.
Given all this, can any thinking American still deny the obvious fact that the Republican party is moving this country toward a totalitarian dictatorship? With a criminal in the White House and another one serving as Attorney General, it is singularly amazing that there are still people in this country, many of them, who continue to exhibit blind faith in their party. And why, oh why, aren’t the Democrats sending out a clear, coherent and no-holds-barred message that not only the current administration, but the entire Republican party are a clear and present danger to the survival of American democracy? Why are Democrats enabling criminals? It is their constitutional duty to hold criminals responsible for their actions, and Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, William Barr and their cohorts are criminals. Every day that the Democrats hem and haw is another day closer to a totalitarian government.
Late in June, 2019 Trump met with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and showed to all the world that he doesn’t take foreign meddling in our elections seriously. People’s Action reports: “At his first meeting with Putin since Robert Mueller’s Russia probe concluded, Trump made light of the robust evidence showing Russia engaged in a ‘sweeping and systematic’ campaign to disrupt the election in Trump’s favor. After he was asked by reporter if he will talk to Putin about election interference—a topic he failed to mention himself, Trump responded: ‘Yes, of course I will.’ But he didn’t stop there. He turned to Putin, seated next to him, smiling and pointing his finger in the Russian president’s direction, and said jokingly, ‘Don’t meddle in the election, president. Don’t meddle in the election.’ Putin, after appearing to hear the translation, laughed while Trump grinned. The episode at the G-20 conference, an annual gathering of the world’s 20 biggest economies, will do nothing to ease the long-standing perception that Trump is too friendly toward Russia—a relationship that has alarmed Democrats and Republicans alike and led to congressional investigations. But it could have been expected, according to his current and former advisers. Trump often bristles at being told what to say or do, they say. So when pushed, the president simply mocks what is expected of him, even when it comes to Russia.” (Kenia Alcocer, People’s Action, June 28, 2019)
Trump even joked about getting rid of journalists. Daily Beast reports: “Donald Trump joked with Russian President Vladimir Putin that they should ‘get rid’ of journalists as they met in public at the G-20 conference of world leaders in Osaka, Japan. Indicating toward the journalists in the room, Trump said, ‘Get rid of them. Fake news is a great term, isn’t it? You don’t have this problem in Russia but we do.’ Putin responded, in English: ‘We also have. It’s the same.’ It has been reported that 21 journalists have been killed in Russia since Putin came to power in March 2000. Trump’s remarks come a year to the day that a gunman killed five people at the Annapolis Capital-Gazette in Maryland.” (Tom Sykes, Daily Beast, June 28, 2019) If this is an example of Trump’s humor, it is singularly unfunny. Will the fascist-in-chief begin killing off journalists he doesn’t like once he gets the absolute control he demands?
During a rally on May 8 Trump, referring to immigrants, asked the crowd: “How do you stop these people?” A supporter in the crowd yelled: “Shoot them!” To this, the president of the United States smiled and said: “That’s only in the panhandle you can get away with that stuff.” Responses like that are proof positive that we have a man who is not only mentally unfit to be president, but in need of serious psychiatric assistance. The same applies to the majority of his supporters who laughed at Trump’s comment as if it was the funniest thing they had ever heard. Is this what the United States has become? Clearly, we are not living in normal times. Daily Kos weighs in: “The further danger is that border vigilantes, right now, have reportedly complained that they can’t shoot families at the border. One of the border vigilantes who was part of the group that held hundreds of migrants hostage at gunpoint at the border earlier this year reportedly asked, ‘Why are we just apprehending them and not lining them up and shooting them? We have to go back to Hitler days and put them all in a gas chamber.’” (Gabe Ortiz, Daily Kos, May 9, 2019)
The first thing every single Democrat should be insisting on is the complete disclosure of Trump’s income tax returns.
Of course, Trump continues refusing to disclose his income tax returns; if he were innocent of collusion with Russia, he should welcome the effort to prove it by releasing them, as every previous president has done for the past forty years. Early in May 2019, Massachusetts congressman Richard Neal subpoenaed Trump’s tax returns. But Trump has illegally defied the subpoena; any thinking person must at this point be asking: What is he afraid of? Need To Impeach reports: “Congress has a duty to conduct oversight of departments and officials, and, by law, the House Ways and Means Committee has the power to request tax returns. Legal experts agree that Rep. Neal was right to request Trump’s tax returns to assess whether the IRS is enforcing laws fairly against Trump. But the Trump administration is refusing to cooperate with Rep. Neal’s legitimate request. As chair of the Committee, Rep. Neal has the right to make Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin comply with the subpoena and hand over Trump’s tax returns by suing in federal court. New York is also making it easier to get Trump’s state tax returns, and yet, Rep. Neal has said he doesn’t plan to use the state’s new law once it’s enacted.” (Karla Hudson, Need To Impeach, June 20, 2019) Rep. Neal needs to do his job and insist that Trump hand over his tax returns.
While the tax returns may not show that he colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election, they would answer other pertinent issues, such as whether he is guilty of tax fraud or insurance fraud, and whether he has any conflicts of interest relating to policies he wants to implement or legislation that he’s signed into law, such as the Trump-GOP tax scam. The returns might also show if foreign powers are influencing the president’s policies and actions. Even Michael Cohen, during his testimony before the House Oversight Committee, indicated that Trump is likely guilty of insurance fraud. In October, 2018, the New York Times published a lengthy and thorough report on what it called “dubious” tax avoidance strategies the Trump family has employed for the past half century, some of which were referred to as “instances of outright fraud.”
The United States is faced with an internal threat unlike any other in its history. If the Republican steamroller is not stopped, Americans will only have themselves to blame. Fortunately, there are a few positive things that are transpiring that indicate most people are at least somewhat aware of what their government is doing and are standing up for their rights.
Take the disastrous Citizens United ruling, for example. Because of this ruling, corporations can spend unlimited amounts of money in our elections, and can do it in complete secrecy. I have already discussed this decision in my previous articles and need not go over the facts again. What is new can be seen in how the various states are reacting to it. Recognizing the corruption inherent in a decision that made the purchasing of candidates legally valid, New Hampshire in June, 2019 became the twentieth state calling for the overturning of Citizens United. Many studies have shown that the decision gives Republicans a decided advantage in elections; simply put, they have more money, or access to more money, than do Democrats. So naturally they will do everything in their power to ensure that the ruling stands. As former president Jimmy Carter aptly summarized: “The erroneous ruling of the Supreme Court, where millionaires, billionaires, can put in unlimited amounts of money, gives legal bribery a chance to prevail.” (reported in End Citizens United, June 24, 2019)
Also encouraging is the fact that several of the 2020 Democratic hopefuls have made it clear that, under their administrations, Donald Trump would face criminal prosecution for his obstruction of justice and various crimes. Even Nancy Pelosi has said that she wants “to see him in prison.” But waiting until the aftermath of the 2020 election may well prove to be too late; even if the Republicans lose, they will contest the election and they will have the infrastructure in place to remain in power. So the time to act is now.
Across the country, people are waking up to the abject stupidity and immorality of Republican policies. Americans for Tax Fairness reports: “Polling shows that the American people overwhelmingly support taxing the wealthy and corporations to invest in our country’s future. And now Americans for Tax Fairness Action Fund has launched a new website that presents voters with the information we need to evaluate each candidate’s tax and spending proposals and compare them to one another. This website presents each candidate’s stance on critical tax issues, specific plans that they’ve presented and in many cases includes an explanation of how the candidate intends to use the additional revenue, such as improved healthcare, education, infrastructure and environmental protections. The utter failure of the Trump-GOP tax cuts to live up to the promises of more jobs and higher wages has given the candidates an opening to propose major tax increases as part of their campaign platforms, including some who say they want to repeal the Trump-GOP tax cuts altogether.” (Craig Johnson, Americans for Tax Fairness, June 24, 2019)
There is also some good news that is just coming out as I finish this article. The Washington Post reports that a federal judge has ruled that Democrat’s lawsuit against Trump for violations of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution can proceed. Now let’s get to work on the other indictments.
Although Republicans continue to be in denial about the reality of the climate crisis, it is encouraging to see that steps in the right direction are being taken in several states. Daily Kos reports: “Grassroots climate campaigners in New York applauded on Monday after state lawmakers reached a deal on sweeping climate legislation, paving the way for the passage of what could be some of the country’s most ambitious environmental reforms. The legislature reached an agreement just before midnight Sunday on the Climate and Communities Protection Act (CCPA), one of several climate bills state lawmakers have pushed in recent months since progressives gained momentum in their push for a federal Green New Deal. New York’s CCPA—like those passed in recent months in California, Hawaii, New Mexico, Nevada, and Washington—offers a path forward for the implementation of Green New Deal-like laws at the state level, proponents say.” (Sam Pizzigati, Daily Kos, June 18, 2019)
Green America gives us some much-needed hope for the future: “Here’s how we fight climate change…without Washington: 1) Accelerate 100% renewables commitments from America’s biggest corporations. We got Amazon to 50% renewables and this year we pushed AT&T from 2% to 30% renewables. Now let’s get these companies to go 100%! 2) Divest billions of dollars from Wall Street banks that support the expansion of dirty energy—divestment is the key to STOPPING pipelines. 3) Solve climate change with farming. Carbon farming is our biggest program yet. If we can convert just 30% of cropland and pasture to regenerative carbon farming practices, we can reduce atmospheric carbon to pre-industrial levels. (Alisa Gravitz, Green America, March 25, 2019) To be sure, this will be a herculean task, but we must begin now and the first step is to throw the bums out of Congress, the White House, and the Supreme Court. We need a government that cares about its people. Is that too much to ask?
More good news to report on the climate threat. People’s Action informs us: “New York lawmakers have agreed to pass a sweeping climate plan that calls for the state to all but eliminate its greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, envisioning an era when gas-guzzling cars, oil-burning heaters and furnaces would be phased out, and all of the state’s electricity would come from carbon-free sources. Under an agreement reached this week between legislative leaders and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act would require the state to slash its planet-warming pollution 85 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, and offset the remaining 15 percent, possibly through measures to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. If the state manages to hit those targets, it would effectively create a so-called net-zero economy, the ultimate goal of environmentalists and others seeking to slow the pace of global warming. The bill’s passage would be the culmination of several years of activism by groups like New York Renews, a coalition of nearly 200 organizations, which repeatedly rallied in Albany and pushed policymakers to act.” (Carrie McBane, People’s Action, June 20, 2019)
California is also gearing up for a battle with Phillips 66, as reported by Stand.earth: “Phillips 66 wants to more than double the number of dangerous oil tankers coming into the San Francisco Bay. If their plan is approved it would dramatically increase the risk of oil spills along the entire coastline, worsen air quality in low-income communities living near the refinery, and increase tar sands extraction in Canada. This is bad news for the West Coast, and especially for Bay Area residents. (Matt Krogh, Stand.earth, June 16, 2019) The article notes that: “Local air quality regulators have the ability to shut down Phillips 66’s irresponsible plan.” At this writing, it is unsure if enough voices have been raised to halt Phillips 66’s dangerous plan.
The 2020 presidential election will be a watershed in American politics and American history. Currently, there is a flood of Democratic hopefuls, few of whom are daring to attack Trump directly. One who is fearlessly doing so is Elizabeth Warren. As this goes to press she is, according to MoveOn Elections Team, the frontrunner with approximately 37% who said she would be their first choice, while another 26% have her as their second choice. Other polls and sources have put her numbers substantially lower, but the upcoming debates will no doubt determine who is ultimately to prevail as the Democratic candidate. MoveOn also tells us that the three main issues voters are concerned with are climate justice, health care and reproductive freedom. In addition, the article informs us of the qualities they are looking for in a leader. One, someone who: “Inspires the public with deep progressive values and will move us towards a more progressive future where everyone can thrive. Two, makes the connections between racial, social, and economic injustice and commits to platform positions to see these connections through. Third, prioritizes reversing Trump’s hate-fueled, xenophobic, anti-Muslim, and racist policies that put communities—including immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQ, among others—at risk.
Public Citizen provides another example of how Warren wants to change America’s course: “The Koch Brothers are trying to take over the country through every avenue they can. To achieve their goal of radically slashing environmental and safety regulations, the Kochs fund research centers at more than 50 universities. Public Citizen recently investigated the regulatory study center at George Washington University and found that the center’s ‘unbiased’ work came down against increasing regulation an incredible 96% of the time. Koch-funded lobbyists then take ‘unbiased’ research like this—from college programs they help fund—and use it to help dismantle rules that protect our health and our environment. Fortunately, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal will soon introduce legislation patterned after bills put forth last Congress that would help unmask the corporate and industry interests that lurk behind purported independent scholarship. Sen. Warren’s plan doesn’t stop there. It would also: 1) Put in place a lifetime ban for members of Congress working as lobbyists; 2) Make public eight years of presidential candidate’s tax records; and 3) Create an independent agency to enforce ethics laws, and much more. Big Business and the superrich are thriving under our current system—and these reforms are a crucial means of restoring government of, by, and for the people.” (Bret Thompson, Public Citizen, June 28, 2019)
Jay Inslee, though not as well known as Warren, is another outspoken Democrat who wants to turn the country in a different direction. Inslee for America, though obviously partisan, tells us what Inslee will try to do should he become president: “ 1) In the first 100 days of his administration, take immediate action to restore regular order and humanity to the border by ending Trump’s wall, rescinding the Muslim ban, ending the abuse of solitary confinement, and setting a mandate to substantially reduce the population of immigrants in civil detention. 2) Recognize the role climate change is playing as families are forced to flee their homes in Central America for the U.S. and establish a regional strategy to help address the root causes of this migration and to define and address the role climate change is playing in migration across the globe. 3) Restore America’s historic role as a world leader in refugee resettlement. 4) Envision an overhaul of our immigration system so that it is humane, just, and efficient, including a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, repeal of laws that lead to mass detention and deportation of immigrants, and prevention of future blanket entry bans. 5) Expand opportunities for immigrants with strong labor protections and organizing rights, including protections against wage theft, and amendments to U.S. law to make federal financial student aid available to DREAMers.” (Ben Unger, Inslee for America, June 9, 2019)
All this sounds good. But this is all for 2020. Donald Trump MUST be impeached and removed from office before this—or else the Constitution and the laws of our land mean exactly nothing.
Categories: Political Affairs