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The GOP Has Become a Malevolent Force in American Life

The GOP Has Become a Malevolent Force in American Life

Consider these words written in 2012 by non-partisan political scientists Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein:

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

Eight years on things have got demonstrably worse. Republicans continue efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act both legislatively (in 2017, which failed) or in court as GOP states led by Texas pursue a lawsuit currently pending before the Supreme Court that may see the ACA overturned next spring. The consequences to millions of Americans would be devastating.
This in the face of a virulent pandemic with more millions of Americans losing their jobs and their health care who will likely need the ACA. In the current health crisis, the Republicans’ rush to open up the economy before infection rates have decreased or we have adequate testing and contact tracing capabilities promises to cause thousands of unnecessary deaths – particularly among the elderly.

Meanwhile the GOP’s stubborn and obtuse denial of climate change threatens the future of our children and grandchildren. The depressing litany of destructive policies the GOP has embraced over the years whether its unravelling environmental protections and workplace safety regulations, beating up on the poor in America, suppressing voting rights of minorities to name but a handful, do enormous harm to the American people. The reality is of a political party and conservative movement that rejects the worth and role of government to do good and runs it incompetently to prove its point, while doing everything possible to impede the other party from governing effectively.

In this the GOP is robustly supported by its perpetually angry base, and a right-wing media machine that pushes both to the extremes. Negative partisanship is bipartisan but at least most Democrats get their news from reliable mainstream media as opposed to Republicans who are far more likely to be misinformed thanks to conservative media even on something as critical as the coronavirus. The latest conservative conspiracy theory, for example, is that the COVID-19 death rate is vastly exaggerated, a dangerous illusion that promotes a lethal complacency.

In short, Republican governance at every level is severely hazardous to our health and well being. In the present emergency, a GOP administration first weakened the federal government’s ability to combat a theoretical pandemic then thoroughly botched its response to a real one. And while a pragmatic Democratic House has tried gamely to bring some sanity to the government’s response to the economic and health calamities, it’s an uphill struggle against an ideologically driven, boneheaded GOP majority in the Senate. For example, an obvious need to support states with an infusion of federal funding as their economies tank and their revenues plummet is being blocked by a hatefully partisan GOP leadership that sees it as disproportionately (and erroneously) benefitting Democratic states.

When this catastrophe is finally over, Americans need to have a serious conversation on the future of our democracy in light of the bitter divisions that are unlikely to ameliorate even without the vile and divisive presence of either Trump or Senator “Moscow” Mitch McConnell. I don’t pretend to know the answer but I do know that we can never move forward as a country while this extreme polarization, without parallel in any other democratic nation, persists.

Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Sabotaged by Republicans

Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Sabotaged by Republicans

Senate Republicans don’t care about people. They only care about big business, corporate donors, and their extremely wealthy friends. We knew that when a Republican controlled senate passed President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in December 2017. It gave huge tax cuts to corporations and provided a big tax loophole for pass-through income. The bill was advertised as a move that would lower taxes for workers and help businesses expand by providing them with more cash. Most workers saw very small decreases in their taxes and some actually saw their taxes go up a little, but businesses were left with a lot more cash in pocket and they used it to buy back their own stock to line the pockets of their already obscenely rich corporate executives. They did not increase investment any more than they would have otherwise and they did not provide any substantial increases in wages or benefits for workers. Some cities and states saw increases in wages because they mandated higher minimum wages themselves. Republicans in congress refused to increase the minimum wage like they always do.

Trump’s tax-cut was an expensive failure.

So they were fine with their 1.5 Trillion Dollar tax cut for the rich, but they aren’t so fine with a new and much needed coronavirus stimulus bill that will cost somewhere between one to two trillion dollars if most of that money is funneled to the people who really need it – the unemployed workers.

The Democrats focused their efforts on people first, not profits first. They would direct the money to the millions of people in the service industry (restaurants, bars, hotels, ride-share drivers, salon workers, dental hygienists, etc.) who are all out of work. This is a huge sector of our economy. Workers need cash to buy food, pay rent and mortgages, and obtain healthcare – all urgent stuff. The stimulus bill should provide that urgent aid first. A one-time check in the $500 to $1,200 won’t provide the long-term aid they are going to need.

The spending should cover the cost of extending the unemployment insurance for at least a year or two. It should probably force large employers to provide sick pay for as long as is necessary for their workers to recover from COVID-19. The bill should prevent people from losing their jobs because of government-mandated work stoppages. It should make sure that everyone afflicted with the disease gets the healthcare they need regardless of whether or not they have insurance. To put it simply, the stimulus bill can’t be about “creating jobs” right now. It should be all about alleviating hardship and suffering caused by the outbreak, because it can’t help put people back to work until the pandemic is gone, and it looks like that isn’t going to happen for months.

The Republicans’ bill includes $5B for a corporate slush fund. It’s weak on worker retention and has loopholes. It’s treasury lending section is vague. It doesn’t provide provisions to protect people from evictions and foreclosures. It provides zero money for state and local governments. Is that because the states hardest hit are blue states? No additional spending on SNAP when the program will obviously be under extreme pressure. No direct payments for people who did not file tax returns in 2018 or 2019. It offers no help for the uninsured and no help for people with student loans.

What this all adds up to is, as James Martin wrote in The New York Times today, a Moral Evil. That’s suffering caused by the actions of individuals or, in this case, the inaction of individuals. And even worse; the deliberate redirection of resources that should be used to alleviate suffering of the most vulnerable people to the least vulnerable, most wealthy people in our country. That’s right. Who do you think will be the recipients of a slush fund?

Maybe enough Republicans in the Senate will read The Bible tonight and decide to do what Jesus would do (from the James Martin column):

Needless to say, when caring for someone with coronavirus, one should take the necessary precautions in order not to pass on the infection. But for Jesus, the sick or dying person was not the “other,” not one to be blamed, but our brother and sister. When Jesus saw a person in need, the Gospels tell us that his heart was “moved with pity.” He is a model for how we are to care during this crisis: with hearts moved by pity.

I’m not betting on it.

Todd Akin says women who are legitimately raped can shut down unwanted sperm in their vaginas

Todd Akin says women who are legitimately raped can shut down unwanted sperm in their vaginas

Last week’s news cycle opened with two stories involving Republican congressmen. One: Representative Kevin Yoder (R-KA) was reported to have gone skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee while on a private fact-finding tour sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation. And two: Representative Todd Akin (R-MO), who is challenging Claire McCaskill for a Missouri senate seat, had this to say during a St. Louis Sunday morning TV talk show in response to a question about whether abortion should be allowed in the case of rape:

“First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

The Yoder story is one that the media usually loves to run with because it involves a nude public figure and, had there been photos of Yoder skinny dipping (like there are of Prince Harry’s strip-pool game in Las Vegas), it would have been a bigger story. But it turned out to be not too much of a story because the media focused in on Akin’s remarkably ignorant, incredibly offensive, and sure to be the number-one most stupid statement uttered by a politician this year.

What kind of ignoramus thinks that women have some sort of built-in force field that repels the sperm of “legitimate” rapists? Oh I know, the kind of ignoramus that sits on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.

And how stupid can someone running for office be to alienate half of his potential voters by suggesting there is “legitimate” rape which implies there must also be rape that is not legitimate. What’s that? The oh-she-brought-it-on-herself kind of rape?

Whether a rape is legitimate or not doesn’t matter to Akin because he is against abortion for any reason, including pregnancies that result from any kind of rape. He thinks it’s a crime for a woman to take a morning-after pill to prevent her from having a rape baby she definitely does not want.

Akin is an Evangelical Christian and he, like most Evangelicals, believes that life begins at conception, so taking a pill that separates a human blastocyst from a uterus is murder. Evangelicals also believe in angels, demons, and divine intervention, so I would guess that Akin felt blessed by God each time his wife became pregnant with their six children. He would of course not think of his own seed as Demon seed, but what would he think of the seed of an assailant that forcibly raped and impregnated his wife? Would he think that because she didn’t “shut it down” that she wanted to get pregnant? Would he think the seed was blessed by God or would he think it was an evil intrusion inflicted on his wife by Satan? If he were to regard her pregnancy as evil, then why not cast the demon out?

Those are all questions that, based on Akin’s moronic comment, I am quite sure he has never even considered.

Halloween Candy is Cursed and will Poison Your Soul!

Halloween Candy is Cursed and will Poison Your Soul!

Charlie Brown Halloween

Oh sure that looks innocent enough – just a bunch of Peanuts characters hanging out at the pumpkin patch on Halloween, but did you know that they’ve all been exposed to time-released evil spirits delivered to them via witch-cursed Halloween candies?  Did you know that their souls have been commandeered by Satan’s minions?  It’s TRUE!  Lucy, Linus, Peppermint Patty, Pigpen, and Linus are all working for the devil!

You want to know how I know?  I read a column titled “The Danger of Celebrating Halloween” By Kimberly Daniels on the Christian Broadcasting Network website:

The word “holiday” means “holy day.” But there is nothing holy about Halloween. The root word of Halloween is “hallow,” which means “holy, consecrated and set apart for service.” If this holiday is hallowed, whose service is it set apart for? The answer to that question is very easy—Lucifer’s!

During Halloween, time-released curses are always loosed.  A time-released curse is a period that has been set aside to release demonic activity and to ensnare souls in great measure.

…most of the candy sold during this season has been dedicated and prayed over by witches.

I do not buy candy during the Halloween season.  Curses are sent through the tricks and treats of the innocent whether they get it by going door to door or by purchasing it from the local grocery store.  The demons cannot tell the difference.

Halloween is much more than a holiday filled with fun and tricks or treats.  It is a time for the gathering of evil that masquerades behind the fictitious characters of Dracula, werewolves, mummies and witches on brooms.  The truth is that these demons that have been presented as scary cartoons actually exist.  I have prayed for witches who are addicted to drinking blood and howling at the moon.

There is no doubt in my heart that God is not calling us to replace fall festivals and Halloween activities; rather, He wants us to utterly destroy the deeds of this season.  If you or your family members have opened the door to any curses that are released during the demonic fall festivals, renounce them and repent.  I have. Then declare with me:  “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!”

I found the column via an email link sent to me by AU, but that link is dead.  I searched for it using the search engine on the CBN website, but it found nothing.  They’ve removed it from their site.  But thanks to Google (they must have eaten some of that cursed candy) you can read the whole column on the cached page (not anymore, because that’s dead too) but I searched again and found it at Charisma Magazine.

So be careful this Halloween, and keep your kids and yourselves away from Halloween candy – ALL candy, because you can’t be sure which candy has been cursed.  Those witches are pretty smart you know, they’ll curse the candy that’s not sold as Halloween treats.  They’ll curse your innocent looking Snickers or Hershey bar.  They’ll curse that jawbreaker and even that expensive box of Halloween themed Moonstruck truffles, so BEWARE!

After reading that article I became very wary of my children who have  found the hidden Halloween candy and already eaten a few pieces.  I don’t know if I’ll sleep well tonight for fear the demonic spirits will turn them into:

michael_myers

 

So scary I have to drink a beer to calm my nerves.  Hey… Kimberly Daniels didn’t say anything about seasonal beers being cursed by witches, so this Snow Cap I’m drinking must be safe.  I don’t feel evil anyway… not yet…

Evil Twins

Evil Twins

While listening to the radio this morning, I heard somebody talking smack about somebody…

He has no scruples, no morals, no goal except anarchy, no plan except the end of planning. As Alfred patiently explains, “Some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

I thought the guy must have been talking about Dick Cheney.  Turns out it was Kenneth Turan’s review of The Dark Knight.

Iraq Veterans Against the War

Iraq Veterans Against the War

Their story of lawlessness, mayhem and murder in Iraq.

U.S. veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are planning to descend on Washington from Mar. 13-16 to testify about war crimes they committed or personally witnessed in those countries.

“The war in Iraq is not covered to its potential because of how dangerous it is for reporters to cover it,” said Liam Madden, a former Marine and member of the group Iraq Veterans Against the War. “That’s left a lot of misconceptions in the minds of the American public about what the true nature of military occupation looks like.”

Iraq Veterans Against the War argues that well-publicised incidents of U.S. brutality like the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and the massacre of an entire family of Iraqis in the town of Haditha are not the isolated incidents perpetrated by “a few bad apples”, as many politicians and military leaders have claimed. They are part of a pattern, the group says, of “an increasingly bloody occupation”.

“The problem that we face in Iraq is that policymakers in leadership have set a precedent of lawlessness where we don’t abide by the rule of law, we don’t respect international treaties, so when that atmosphere exists it lends itself to criminal activity,” argues former U.S. Army Sergeant Logan Laituri, who served a tour in Iraq from 2004 to 2005 before being discharged as a conscientious objector.

Laituri told IPS that precedent of lawlessness makes itself felt in the rules of engagement handed down by commanders to soldiers on the front lines. When he was stationed in Samarra, for example, he said one of his fellow soldiers shot an unarmed man while he walked down the street.

“The problem is that that soldier was not committing a crime as you might call it because the rules of engagement were very clear that no one was supposed to be walking down the street,” he said. “But I have a problem with that. You can’t tell a family to leave everything they know so you can bomb the shit out of their house or their city. So while he definitely has protection under the law, I don’t think that legitimates that type of violence.”

Read the whole article here.

Happy Columbus Day

Happy Columbus Day

From Thom Hartmann’s column:

When Columbus first landed on Hispaniola in 1492, virtually the entire island was covered by lush forest. The Taino “Indians” who loved there had an apparently idyllic life prior to Columbus, from the reports left to us by literate members of Columbus’s crew such as Miguel Cuneo.

When Columbus and his crew arrived on their second visit to Hispaniola, however, they took captive about two thousand local villagers who had come out to greet them. Cuneo wrote: “When our caravels… where to leave for Spain, we gathered…one thousand six hundred male and female persons of those Indians, and these we embarked in our caravels on February 17, 1495…For those who remained, we let it be known (to the Spaniards who manned the island’s fort) in the vicinity that anyone who wanted to take some of them could do so, to the amount desired, which was done.”

Cuneo further notes that he himself took a beautiful teenage Carib girl as his personal slave, a gift from Columbus himself, but that when he attempted to have sex with her, she “resisted with all her strength.” So, in his own words, he “thrashed her mercilessly and raped her.”

While Columbus once referred to the Taino Indians as cannibals, a story made up by Columbus – which is to this day still taught in some US schools – to help justify his slaughter and enslavement of these people. He wrote to the Spanish monarchs in 1493: “It is possible, with the name of the Holy Trinity, to sell all the slaves which it is possible to sell…Here there are so many of these slaves, and also brazilwood, that although they are living things they are as good as gold…”

Columbus and his men also used the Taino as sex slaves: it was a common reward for Columbus’ men for him to present them with local women to rape. As he began exporting Taino as slaves to other parts of the world, the sex-slave trade became an important part of the business, as Columbus wrote to a friend in 1500: “A hundred castellanoes (a Spanish coin) are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and it is very general and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten (years old) are now in demand.”

There’s more.  Hartmann also writes briefly about the “Pequot War of 1636.” 

I remember reading about this war in a college American Literature class and have never forgotten how the first American settlers praised God for enclosing the “savages” in a small area so that they could kill and burn them easily.

The quote from William Bradford’s journal:  “It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fire and the streams of blood quenching the same, and horrible was the stink and scent thereof; but the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice, and they gave praise thereof to God, who had wrought so wonderfully for them.”

What a country.

Hearts and Minds

Hearts and Minds

So this is how we are winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people:

The committee staff report said Blackwater guards had engaged in nearly 200 shootings in Iraq since 2005, and in the vast majority of cases the guards fired their weapons from moving vehicles without stopping to count the dead or assist the wounded. In at least two cases, Blackwater paid victims’ family members who complained, and the company sought to cover up other episodes, the report said.

The staff report said that State Department officials approved the payments in the hope of keeping the shootings quiet, and in one case last year, helped Blackwater spirit an employee out of Iraq less than 36 hours after the employee, while drunk, killed a bodyguard for one of Iraq’s two vice presidents on Christmas Eve.

The report by the Democratic majority staff of a House committee adds weight to complaints from Iraqi officials, American military officers and Blackwater’s competitors that the company’s guards have taken an aggressive, trigger-happy approach to their work and have repeatedly acted with reckless disregard for Iraqi life.

In the case of the Christmas Eve killing, the report said that an official of the United States Embassy in Iraq suggested paying the slain bodyguard’s family $250,000, but a lower-ranking official said that such a high payment “could cause incidents with people trying to get killed by our guys to financially guarantee their family’s future.” Blackwater ultimately paid the dead man’s family $15,000.

In another fatal shooting cited by the committee, an unidentified State Department official in Baghdad urged Blackwater to pay the victim’s family $5,000. The official wrote, “I hope we can put this unfortunate matter behind us quickly.”

And we thought Abu Ghraib made us look bad.  Our government hired mercenaries at Blackwater along with their pals in the State Department are doing their best to make us look even worse.

The price for murdering a guy started at $250,000 (pretty low by U.S. Standards) and quickly dropped to $15,000 so as not to encourage people to commit suicide to enrich their families after they willingly provoke Blackwater security guards to kill them.

That kind of reminds me of some scenes in the Hearts and Minds documentary where they talked about how the government and the media spread propaganda about how the people of Vietnam did not value human life – that their lives were worth nothing.  It was bullshit of course, just like this is. 

Do they really think that there would be a rash of Iraqis volunteering themselves to get shot for a couple hundred thousand dollars?  I don’t think so…

So the price went down to $15,000 and then to $5,000 at the urging of an anonymous State Department official.  That’s great.  Our military doesn’t count Iraqi fatalities, and our hired guns aren’t accountable to anyone, until now I guess, and when they start shooting, they pretty much unload and leave any wounded innocent bystanders to fend for themselves.

When they are confronted by grieving family members, they hand out $5,000.  Not even enough to buy a decent used car.

They don’t seem to be following their own “Core Values.”

P.S.  Says here that Erik Prince, Chairman and CEO of Blackwater, is a fundamentalist Christian.  Guess that means God gave him a license to kill.

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day

Has to do with Lord Cheney of course.

This is from today’s Seattle Post Intelligencer editorial:

Indeed, the notion of accountability is to Cheney what garlic is to a vampire.

The Daily Show had a great series about the Dick last week, watch them all!

Dick Move – John Oliver

Non Executive Decision – Dick, the fourth branch of government

You Don’t Know Dick – Safe -Cheney’s man-size safes

You Don’t Know Dick – Super pixelation power

You Don’t Know Dick – Blowfeldian “Secret” stamp logo