AHCA is About a Mean Ideology. Tax Cuts are a Bonus.

First published on: http://crooksandliars.com/2017/06/ahca-about-racism-classism-not-tax-breaks

The senate version of the AHCA has invoked justifiable criticism from the Democratic party for being less of a “health care” bill and more of a “tax break for the rich” bill. For once, I agree with Donald Trump; it is a “mean” piece of legislation, but that alone is not what this is about. It is once again about that great Republican pastime of suppressing those who are not their wealthy donors. It’s about rigging the system for corporate welfare.

In typical Republican fashion, it will affect poor and middle-class citizens significantly. The lack of access to affordable health care will cause families to have to work longer hours and perhaps even take on more jobs. There is no question that the AHCA will break the average American family. The funds being stripped away from Medicare will leave people without a safety net, without any means to obtain the health care they so desperately need and deserve.

None of this matters to Republicans as they could care less. In their collective mind, they got theirs, figure out how to get yours. A highly hypocritical attitude considering both their leaders (McConnell and Ryan) benefited as children from forms of social welfare as children. Of the handful that are considering voting no on the bill, all but two (Heller and Collins) has stated that the bill did not go far enough in cutting funds. Republican senators writing the bill did not cut programs because they were not affordable. They cut them to give the funding to the wealthy. Because, you know, they need it.

The Uber Rich

It is indisputable that super rich families run the Republican party. Those like the Adelsons, Kochs, DeVos and Waltons are not as interested in tax breaks as average American might think they are. After all, Republicans have ensured their masters have plenty of loop holes and off-shore accounts to protect their income. For families as rich as these, the AHCA tax cut is a small drop in the bucket. It is less than what they spend in any given election season on politicians. It is less than they spend yearly on influencing and buying up our education system, less than they spend with ALEC (the organization that writes legislation for the GOP), the Heritage Foundation, on state and local elections, on judicial elections etc. It’s even less than they spend supporting Christian organizations and non-profit groups that are used to peddle their perverted ideology.

These uber rich families are not in need of a tax break. The Waltons could never sell you another package of diapers or can of Pringles and not only maintain their wealth, but grow it. The same is true of the DeVos’ Amway ventures, Adelson’s Vegas investments and whatever oil and gas product it is that the Koch’s sell to us.

This is the super rich ideology that is rooted in classism and racism. An ideology that Republicans have tied themselves to. It is an insatiable need to maintain dominance, a need to be remembered as more than just the richest of Americans. They desire to be remembered as ideological giants. These families are in a league of their own making. A league that does not include you or me and truthfully, they are a class of people that is not even inclusive of the Trump’s or politicians but merely uses them and religion to achieve their ends.

The thing to remember about these Republicans is that they are, with rare exception, only in it for themselves. What elected leaders like Trump, Ryan, McConnell, Cruz etc. want more than anything is power. They want to be a Koch, a DeVos, an Adelson, but they will never be. They are and always will be a tool for these uber rich families. An easily replicated and replaceable tool.

I would even venture that this is why we are seeing these notoriously private super wealthy people come out and hold public office. Republicans have not moved fast or harsh enough for them and must be whipped into shape.

Republicans Don’t Worry About Voters Holding Them Accountable

Financing of campaigns is not the only control these wealthy families have over elected leaders though. Perhaps an even bigger control mechanism is to threaten NOT to fund them. If Mitch McConnell or Ted Cruz suddenly did not do the bidding of their uber rich supporters, they would be immediately cast out into that barren desert of campaign no-man’s land. The Kochs and such would simply fund a contender; something that Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) is facing. The threat of NOT being supported is often times more influential to a politician than being supported.

With Kris Kobach’s Crosscheck kicking minorities off of voter rolls and Republicans’ decades worth of extreme gerrymandering, these politicians need not worry. This is not to mention the real possibility that our voting systems are still compromised by the Russian hacking. So far, only Illinois has admitted that hacking led to voters being kicked off their system. In North Carolina’s heavily minority and blue districts, hacking is thought to have caused the computer database of registered voters to shut down during the 2016 election. This led to poll workers having to check registration by hand, and in turn caused such a delay that many left without casting their votes. Now a report has come out that 1 in 4 African Americans were not allowed to vote in Florida during the election.

So, you see, they are not too concerned about being voted out of office. The bigger threat to their political futures comes from not being funded. Which is why VP Pence met with Koch on Friday, and a group of Republicans met with the brothers this week. Marching orders will be given, and they best obey.

Their Ideology is Based in Racism

Author Nancy MacLean has done a great deal of research on the likes of the Kochs in her book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America. In a recent interview by Slates Rebecca Onion, MacLean discusses how the Koch’s main influences were those ideologues who railed against all civil rights issues like voter rights and even universally accepted Supreme Court decisions like Brown vs. Board of Education.

As she explains, the Kochs, DeVos, Waltons and such are not simply trying to get one single person elected. They are trying to change the fundamental institutions that our country has developed. Their end goal is to get rid of all civil rights, government oversight and to suppress minority groups whether we are talking about Gays, Latinx, Blacks, Muslims, women and so on. It should also be noted that she discussed the tactic of flooding one’s opponents with many crises at the same time. Something they are actively doing right now.

This is more than one party having more power than the other. It is more than a difference of opinions. Republicans cannot take health care away from millions and claim they are not prejudiced. Their entire support system that they have rigged our laws for bases its ideology on hatred of the civil rights movement. That is racism, which might explain why so many in the Trump administration have ties to racist organizations.

Yes, the AHCA is “mean.” But more importantly, the Republicans and uber rich families are pushing us to the point of real crises. It is time to look around and find those leaders that will transform this zeitgeist. Support them, prop them up and rage against the machine.


Why is Russia Helping Republicans Win Elections?

First published on: http://crooksandliars.com/2017/06/why-russia-helping-republicans-win

Another week in the Trump administration, another shit storm of news.

Republicans were busy redistributing wealth from the poor and middle class to the wealthy by taking healthcare away from millions of Americans. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was preoccupied creating memorable optics with ordering Capitol Hill police to forcibly remove disabled wheelchair-bound protesters from the building’s hallways. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan was desperately trying to get reporters to listen to his talking points about some veterans’ bill that nobody’s heard of or seemed to care about. Donald Trump’s baby sitters held a rally to encourage him and remind him of the good ‘ole days. Because they won’t take responsibility for their failure, Bernie bros were attacking Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi because their Hillary attacks no longer get them any press. And once again, Donald Trump made false allegations in an attempt to intimidate a government witness and wasted everyone’s time.

Meanwhile, it’s been revealed that Russia not only hacked the DNC, but they actually hacked some of the voter systems in 21 states, likely affecting the actual vote totals of the 2016 presidential race.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Since the Russian hacking of the DNC was reported, there have been rumors circulating about the possibility of individual state and county voter systems and rolls being hacked. The denials of both stories followed the same pattern: deny the rumor, admit some of the reports once they become undeniable and then finally ignore the subject and pretend it never happened even though it’s been proven without a doubt. It’s all a narcissistic way of rewriting the past to be whatever you need it to be, leaving some people to wonder if it really happened at all.

Which if you think about it, that is the modus operandi of the Trump administration and Trump himself. Take the Republican platform: rumors were that Trump campaign officials changed the terms to be kinder to Russia than the Ukraine. They denied it, then admitted than someone (not them) did change it and then finally they admitted to doing it and even admitted that Trump himself said to do it but then refused to talk about it. Or take the whole Flynn fiasco: denied the rumors that he had Russian connections, admitted a few connections but claimed they were innocent and then sort of gave in and admitted that yes Flynn did do all those treasonous acts he’s accused of but he was actually fired for lying to Mike Pence. One more: they denied that Trump told Russian officials top secret information during their White House meeting, then Trump the next day admitted to disclosing the information thus damaging relations with our allies and now refuses to talk about it as if it never happened.

Maybe I’m just cynical, but this leaves me with little hope for an answer or even a solution for this new problem.

As McClatchy reported early this week, state government officials were warned by the Obama administration about the likelihood that their voting systems had been compromised. Yet for months, these state officials denied any evidence of Russian hacking and some even refused the help offered by the administration.

Only now have we started to see reports in the press that those rumors were true. Some state officials have come forward and testified before congress that yes, in fact, it was true: hackers were able to break into their state and county voting records and change voter data in Illinois. In Durham, North Carolina, Russian hacking is thought to have succeeded in making it impossible for poll workers to access the voter rolls during the 2016 election. Workers were forced to verify voter registrations by hand using a paper copy, which took more time and created long lines. Many voters reported giving up and leaving the polls without voting which would actually change the vote count.

Currently, no state or county is admitting that the vote totals were changed or that it could have changed the outcome. However, voter system experts have commented that many systems have either not been audited or cannot be audited, and therefore it is entirely possible that some Clinton votes were turned into Trump votes. Of more concern is that in every district where this hacking occurred, those voters who were kicked off the rolls were most likely to be Democrats. Those counties that found Russian IP addresses in their systems were districts where registered Democrats outnumbered the Republicans.

Time is now reporting that Mueller is now looking into whether or not the Trump campaign may have benefitted from these hackings. The House Intelligence Committee wants to speak with Trump’s digital director, Brad Parscale. Perhaps this is the part where they admit the facts before they swear us all to never speak of their shame again. Who knows?

To date, MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show has done the most in-depth reporting. It’s highly likely that government officials will continue to try and downplay the affects this Russian hacking had on the 2016 election. To admit such a breach of our security would be an indictment on both the Democrats’ and the Republicans’ failure to keep our country’s election systems safe from foreign enemies. At the same time, it would call into question every single midterm election that has and will take place since districts are still using those same hacked systems.

With very few outlets investigating this, expect some more admissions of voting system breaches and then silence on the part of our elected officials. Elected officials have given us no reason to hope that they would do the right thing, as they’ve tried their best to ignore the situation. Hopefully they will at least fix the system. Most likely, we will never know why Russians were helping Republicans win elections or if Republicans were in on it.


Dear Paul Ryan, Save Your Prayers

First published on: http://crooksandliars.com/2017/06/dear-paul-ryan-save-your-prayers

No Democrat, Republican or Independent in their sane mind thinks that yesterday’s shooting in Washington D.C. that left five injured including Representative Steve Scalise was justified. Using violence to argue your point effectively makes that point moot. No one can hear you when you have a gun in your hand. They cannot even see you, the gun is the sole focus. That shooter’s concerns, his anguish over the direction this country is going in, died along with him. His atrocious actions are all we heard, all we saw and all we will remember of him.

But ideas, thoughts, philosophies, ideologies are bigger than one person, and one person’s insane actions does not represent those concepts alone. One misguided fundamentalist Christian’s actions can no more speak for all Christians as can one suicide bomber claim to speak for all of Islam. The murderous actions of one Trump supporter cannot speak for the whole movement nor can the murderous actions we saw yesterday from a so-called liberal activist.

In times such as these, we seek guidance from our leaders. We require assurances from them that something will be done. Government’s top function is to keep its citizens safe if nothing else. Safe from violence, disease, famine. To ensure that we, as a people, can pursue “life, liberty and happiness” and that our elected representatives will defend these “unalienable rights.”

The guidance given by our leaders to citizens after yesterday’s shooting in D.C. was consistent with what we’ve heard for the last twenty, thirty years: pray. I don’t take this as good advice. It’s flippant, self-serving and degrading. It allows our leaders to shame us, to shame our outrage at their incompetence and ineptitude by invoking God’s name while allowing them to continue ignoring their sworn duties as elected officials.

To be clear, when Speaker Ryan addressed the Congress yesterday, he was not addressing the nation. He was addressing his fellow members of Congress. “An attack on one of us, is an attack on all of us.” He never mentioned those who died at the hands of another American, in yet another mass shooting on that very same day in San Francisco. Neither did Trump in his address to the nation.

Rarely, if ever do they mention the gun violence that Americans encounter from our own families and friends on a weekly basis. Unless that is, it occurs to one of their own or it is so egregious that they are forced to.

Still then, they say, “Pray.” Well I’m tired of praying. I’m tired of good thoughts and positive vibes. I’m tired of them invoking God’s name to just turn around and continue on the same self-serving path they’ve been on. Have they no shame? No honor? No dignity?

Words don’t matter. Deeds do.

Our elected officials might consider venturing outside of their bubble for a few hours, a few days and see why Americans are fed up with their lack of leadership. There, our elected leaders will discover that Americans are working fifty, sixty, eighty hours a week to make ends meet.

We have seen our homes repossessed and our savings drained every decade because politicians let their large donors engage in illegal banking and lending schemes, only to shrug their shoulders and claim that no one is responsible and therefore no one can be held accountable.

Congress would see how one family member’s illness can destroy generations because of a lack of affordable healthcare. They would hear how we are tired of seeing those that have rigged the system to their favor steal from us and pay no price. We are exhausted from listening to their political diatribes of how corporations cannot pay their fair share of taxes and benefits.

All the while, they are giving those millions, billions to politicians to rig the system. Millions and billions that could be used for benefits and taxes.

We are not blind. Americans see congressional leaders taking campaign contributions so that businesses may pollute our air, water and land. We are watching as Congress sells out our children’s education to the highest bidders. We see how they are gerrymandering the system so that one party is stronger than the other. We are aware that many of our minority brothers and sisters are being disenfranchised.

Even with everyone (save Trump) agreeing that our election was hacked — a blatantly aggressive act of war — our elected officials have taken to making a mockery of the investigation. There is no investigation. There is only wasted taxpayer dollars used to grandstand and pontificate for one’s political leanings while attacking the other. And what has been done? Nothing.

We are still voting with those same systems that cannot even be audited. It’s a f*cking joke. A f*cking shame when our elected leaders cannot even come together to defend us from a foreign adversary.

The government cannot and is not doing its job when it plays political chess with our life, liberty and happiness. It does not function as a democracy when elected leaders refuse to listen to their constituents by evading town halls, phone calls and letters simply because it does not agree with their political ideology. We cannot call our government a democracy when one political party holds secretive meetings regarding healthcare bills and refuses to allow debate.

Who do they serve, anyway?

Congress and the president would do well to remember that they work for us and not themselves. That this is a government by the people, for the people, not by the corporations, for the rich alone or for one party over another. That this is a democracy and not a business or autocracy. That corporations are not people and money is not the answer to everything. That we deserve and demand better representation for our taxation and a truly open government.

So, Speaker Ryan, keep your prayers to yourself as they’ve done Americans no good. God is not listening to you. Neither is America.