Nel's New Day

February 6, 2019

State of the Union 2019

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) managed to last 82 minutes in his State of the Disunion (SOD) address last night as he moved from Tweeter Trump to Teleprompter Trump, but he couldn’t outlast Bill Clinton’s 88-minute speech at 88 minutes. DDT failed to keep on his message of “unity while he maintained the record for the most lies—or “misrepresentations”:

Economy:

DDT announced that he had an “unprecedented economic boom,” but his economic record is behind those of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. And the economy is slowing down.

The “lowest rate” of “unemployment” for “half a century” that DDT quoted is actually at an 18-year-old low and is going up to where it’s matches the rate at the beginning of 2018. January’s unemployment rate rose to 6.8 percent from its low of 5.9 percent in May 2018. Latinx and Asian-American unemployment rates are also increasing.

“Wages are rising at the fastest pace in decades,” according to DDT who ignored any adjustment for inflation. The actual increase in wages, 1.3 percent from December 2017 to December 2018, is the largest since August 2016.

DDT’s figures for new jobs and new manufacturing jobs were inflated: the last year saw almost 4.9 million jobs, not 5.3 million, and 436,000 in manufacturing, not 600,000.

Importers, not exporters, pay DDT’s tariffs, thus far increased by about $6.7 billion, and then pass along the cost to consumers, in essence raising taxes for people in the U.S. In addition, taxpayers are ponying up $12 billion to support farmers, some of them wealthy, for being hurt by DDT’s tariffs.

The reduction of estate-taxes benefits the wealthy and almost never on farms or small businesses, only 80 out of the 5,500 estates in 2017.

Foreign Affairs:

DDT did withdraw from the Iran agreement, but the deal still exists with other countries, making his action largely symbolic. He claimed that Iran won’t be building nuclear weapons because we have no agreement to stop them.

Instead of the U.S. spending “$7 trillion in the Middle East,” this sum covers only estimates future obligations through 2056 for veterans’ care, including George W. Bush’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

DDT’s claim that he has “liberated virtually all [the 20,000 square miles in Iraq and Syria controlled by ISIS]” does not consider the ISIS comeback from a hasty U.S. departure predicted by the Defense Department’s Inspector General.

NATO countries started spending more money on defense before DDT was elected, unlike his claims that he made them pay more.

DDT’s supposition that without him, the U.S. would be at war with North Korea has no evidence. He also ignores the new missiles that North Korea continues to build.

Healthcare:

Despite his declaration that he will “protect patients with preexisting conditions,” DDT has refused to defend these conditions in a lawsuit and then celebrated the ruling against these protections.

DDT completely misrepresented the abortion legislation in New York that finally matches Roe v. Wade. The Virginia bill still requires a doctor to agree that the pregnancy would kill the woman or impair her mental or physical health.

Immigration:

DDT’s claim that apprehensions along the Mexico border have been drastically reduced in areas of a wall ignores that ALL apprehensions, including those in areas with no barrier. As for the “tremendous onslaught” at the border, the 304,000 apprehensions are an 81.5 percent decline since the 1.6 million in 2000. The Congressional Research Service reported that the San Diego fence, mentioned by DDT, “did not have a discernible impact on the influx of unauthorized aliens coming across the border.” Suspected in-country overstays of visas are twice those of southern border apprehensions.

DDT’s claim of “humanitarian assistance” in the bill he sent to Congress gave no help for Central American children but was intended to keep them from escaping violence and poverty by coming to the U.S. He also said, “I want people to come into our country in the largest numbers ever, but they have to come in legally.” In reality, DDT wanted to cut legal immigration rates in at least half while eliminating immigration based on family ties—the way his in-laws came to the U.S.—and the visa lottery.

DDT’s inflated figures of “criminal aliens” and charges or convictions fail to consider multiple counts and doesn’t separate charges and convictions. His claims about the MS-13 gang are equally dubious: they are concentrated only in three areas—Los Angeles, Long Island, and Washington, D.C. areas.

He promised that wall “will stop much of the drugs from pouring into this country,” but most drugs come through legal entry points.

Praise that DDT gave El Paso for cutting its violent crime ignored the fall in violent crime before the building of the wall, crime that rose for four years after Bush authorized the wall and it was built.

DDT’s accusation about crimes committed by undocumented immigrants ignores research that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born population and that immigration is a net positive for the U.S. economy and to workers overall.

DDT’s statement about 1-in-3 women being “sexually assaulted on the long journey north” did not come from a random sample, but from a Doctors without Borders report which addressed the 12 percent of females in 500 people treated by these doctors. These 56 women, likely not representative of all migrant women, said they were “sexually abused,” not “sexually assaulted.” DDT’s statistic is derived from the experiences of 56 women and cannot necessarily be considered representative of all migrant women.

Domestic Affairs:

Of the 3.6 million, not 5 million, people who have stopped getting food stamps, many may have lost this benefit because DDT allowed recession-era waivers allowing some adults to retain the benefit for longer periods of time, and immigrants fear DDT’s new policies. The number of people collecting benefits has also been shrinking since 2014.

DDT is right that more women are in the workforce, but more people are in the workforce because of the U.S. increasing population. Female labor participation rate was 60.3 percent in April 2000, below DDT’s 57.5 percent. DDT’s praise of women’s electoral gains in the 2018 midterms was awkward because the increase is for Democrats. The Senate gained two female GOP members but lost a dozen Republicans in the House. New female House members, dressed in white to celebrate women’s suffrage, laughed and danced at DDT’s words.

The U.S. “revolution” in energy started with President Obama in 2009, in opposition to DDT’s claim.

Beyond lies and “misrepresentations,” DDT threatened the Democrats by saying that the United States cannot have peace if he’s investigated in the United States. “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.” This morning, Pelosi responded:

“The president should not bring threats to the floor of the House. He said he wasn’t going to cooperate unless we didn’t exercise our constitutional responsibility to oversight.”

Philip Bump (WaPo) compared DDT’s line about “ridiculous partisan investigations” to Richard Nixon’s statements in his 1974 State of the Union speech when Nixon said, “One year of Watergate is enough.”

Hardcore conservatives—DDT supporters—were unhappy with the speech:

Ann Coulter: DDT’s speech was the “lamest, sappiest, most intentionally tear-jerking” State of the Union ever.

Rick Santorum: It was “probably the worst delivered speech” he’d heard DDT deliver.

A few subjects missing from DDT’s speech: Russia, the shutdown, tax cuts, “clean coal,” China trade war, farmers, the Me Too movement, election fraud, the press, Iraq or Afghanistan, the ongoing disaster in Puerto Rico, and the climate. He gave 14 seconds to infrastructure. DDT also failed to allow the Speaker of the House to introduce him in a violation of protocol.

While she sat behind–and above–DDT during the address, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) wore a smaller version of the Mace of the Republic or the Mace of the US House of Representatives which she can order the Sergeant of Arms to present before an offender to restore order in the House.

The Mace was last used during the first world war when white supremacist Rep. J. Thomas Heflin, uncle of former Sen. Howard Heflin, accused colleagues of being unpatriotic in voting against entering the war. The Sergeant of Arms carries the four-foot-long mace ahead of the speaker to the rostrum at each session of the House.

DDT called for unity and cooperation last night, but today he called Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) a “political hack.” At least yesterday, before giving his speech, he trash talked political figures on both sides—maybe his definition of bipartisanship.

November 7, 2018

Midterms Lead to New U.S.

Midterms 2018 ended last night after the most vicious campaigning that I can remember. In a bittersweet victory, elections brought at least 27 additional Democrats to the House, giving them a majority in the 435-seat chamber and splitting the Congress as the Senate keeps a GOP majority. Three Democratic incumbent senators in Indiana, Missouri, and North Dakota lost their re-election bid, and the GOP incumbent in Nevada has been replaced by a Democrat. Two other races in Arizona and Florida are still undecided, and a third in Mississippi heads to a recount because no candidate got over 50 percent of the votes.

In seven states, GOP gubernatorial positions lost to Democrats in Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Maine, New Mexico, Nevada, and Wisconsin. The new number of Democratic governors gave the party trifectas in 14 states—those with the same party in both legislative chambers and the governor. The number of GOP trifectas shrank from 34 to 22, leaving 14 states split between the two parties. Going into redistricting for state and federal legislative representation in 2020, Democrats have “regained majorities in seven [state] chambers and flipped 350 seats from red to blue nationwide,” according to the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.

The flips leave 23 Democrats and 26 Republicans in charge of the 50 states. Stacey Abrams has not conceded to Brian Kemp in Georgia; she is waiting until provisional and absentee ballots are counted, ballots mandated by a court ruling after Kemp, also Secretary of State, had purged or thrown away. Since 2010, Kemp has purged over 1.4 million voters from registration, including 660,000 last year and almost 90,000 this year. Another 53,000 couldn’t vote until the court ruling because of typos; almost 80 percent of these registrations were from black voters. If Kemp drops below 50 percent of the vote, he will be forced into a runoff election with Abrams. Kemp prepared to fight a loss by claiming that Democrats had hacked the voting system, but he has a long record of carelessness and lack of investigation as P.R. Lockhart describes.

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker may have the highest profile of the Democratic flips. Almost eight years ago, at the beginning of his first term, he declared war against unions, teachers, voters, etc., but his decision to provide over $4.5 billion in taxpayer subsidies, the biggest in U.S. history for a foreign corporation, to bring tech plant  and key Apple supplier Foxconn to his state may have helped his downfall. With a cost of up to $1 million per job, averaging $230,000 per job, Foxconn is “trying to tap Chinese engineers through internal transfers to supplement staffing” because “it’s very difficult to find skilled labor in our market.” University of Wisconsin-Madison students worry about intellectual property and academic freedom in a Foxconn takeover, and residents of Wisconsin and neighboring states are concerned about the loss of Lake Michigan’s water when the company uses as much as 7 million gallons per day from the lake, 39 percent of it lost through evaporation. Foxconn, the single largest employer in mainland China with 1.3 million employees, became known for the large number of employee suicides at its enormous Longhua plant in Shenzhen. Life at “iPhone City.”

Yesterday’s election brought several “firsts”:

  • Governor-elect Jared Polis (D-CO): First gay man to be elected governor.
  • Governor Kate Brown (D-OR): First bisexual to be re-elected for a second time—or even a first time!
  • Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY):  At the age of 29, youngest woman elected to Congress.
  • Rep.-elect Ayanna Pressley (D-MA): First black representative from Massachusetts.
  • Reps.-elect Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-): First Muslim representatives; Tlaib the first Palestinian-American woman in Congress and Omar, an immigrant, the first Somali-American in Congress.
  • Reps.-elect Sharice Davids (D-KS) and Deb Haaland (D-NM): First Native American representatives; Davids also first lesbian representative from Kansas.
  • Rep.-elect Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL): Immigrant from Ecuador flipped a GOP seat.
  • Sen.-elect Marsha Blackburn (R-TN): First female senator from Tennessee.
  • Gov.-elect Janet Mills: First female governor of Maine.
  • Rep.-elect Abby Finkenauer (D-IA): First woman representative from Iowa.
  • Rep.-elect Johana Hayes: First black woman representative as well as one of the youngest, matching Ocasio-Cortez at 29 years old.
  • Reps.-elect Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): First Latina representatives from Texas, a state that is over one-third Latinx.
  • Gov.-elect: Lou Leon Guerrero (D): First woman governor of Guam.
  • Iowa State Sen.-elect Zach Wahls (D-IA): 27-year-old winner of 78 percent of the vote, seven years after he stood before the state House of Representatives to defend marriage for his two lesbian mothers.

The oddest win came when pimp Dennis Hof won a seat in the 36th Nevada State Assembly. The Republican died three weeks before the election, but voters wanted a Republican. Iowa voted for bigotry by re-electing Steve King to the House, and California and New York supported indicted representatives with Chris Collins and Duncan Hunter. (Remember when the GOP ran as the “party of law and order”?) Racism was also victorious in Florida and perhaps Georgia in the governor’s races. Florida also voted to inundate cities with the sea rise with narrow wins for the GOP governor over Andrew Gillum and perhaps a GOP senator over the Dem incumbent.

Over 100 women will be seated in the House of Representatives for the 116th Congress, far more than the record of 85 of the 435 House seats. Thus far women of color will comprise at least 38 of these seats, and 18 of the 27 flipped seats from GOP to Dem were earned by women, all except two against male opponents.  Projections of 98 women in the house include 84 Democrats and 14 Republicans; the Senate has 12 women, ten Dems and two Republicans. Veterans Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) and Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) both won; Amy McGrath, former Marine fighter pilot, narrowly lost a House race in Kentucky. Despite false smears from Tea Party incumbent opponent, Dave Brat, Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) had a big win, especially as the first Democrat in this district in a half century.

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and Department of (In)Justice (DOJ) AG Jeff Sessions set the scene for the loss of the House by claiming voter fraud before the election, using the same tactic DDT did in 2016 until he took the Electoral College. DDT lied at a recent campaign rally in Cleveland with the false claim that voter fraud is commonplace. The United States has almost zero voter fraud while the GOP perpetuates voter suppression, intimidation, and a massive number of lies about their policy positions. The greatest GOP claims of voter fraud came in races where GOP positions are most at risk, including at least six governors, some senators—including Arizona, Nevada, Tennessee, and Texas—and many representatives.

Session left his job hours after the election when DDT asked for Sessions’ resignation and appointed his bootlicker Matthew Whitaker as the acting AG. Whitaker, good friends of possible Russian colluder Sam Clovis, has constantly lambasted the Robert Mueller investigation, calling it a witch hunt—just like DDT—and limiting “the scope” of the investigation. In his new position, Whitaker will be in charge of Mueller and his investigation, giving a direct pipeline to DDT about any discoveries and curtailing Mueller’s activities. In a segment on Whitaker, Rachel Maddow discussed Whitaker’s strategies for doing away with the investigation such as not funding it and telling lawyers not to cooperate. Much more about Whitaker. Whitaker has defended Donald Trump Jr. for his Trump Tower meeting when DDT’s son looked for dirt on Clinton from the Russians, part of Mueller’s investigation. Whitaker also believes that “[Hillary] Clinton clearly intended to send and store top secret, classified information on an unsecured, personal server, which I believe is a case that any reasonable prosecutor would bring against her or anyone else who committed such reckless acts.” As for corruption, Whitaker was part of World Patent Marketing, fined $26 million by the federal company of running a multimillion-dollar scam. Democratic legislators are protesting Whitaker and stopping the investigation, and protests are organized across the nation for 5:00 pm tomorrow.

After delivering fire and brimstone at his campaign rallies during the last two months, DDT said the day before the election that he “would like to have a much softer tone” but that he had “no choice” in his rhetoric.  He wished for more harmony between Republicans and Democrats after the election but added, “If you’re criticized you have to hit back.” Hours after his interview with a conservative Sinclair station, he delivered his usual racism and hatred in a campaign rally and tweeted threats to Democrats after he got the election results. If Democrats dare investigate him, he claimed, he will institute investigations “of the leaks of Classified Information, and much else” by the Senate and refuse to work with them on substantive issues. [News, DDT: the Senate doesn’t investigate the House, and no one thinks that you can work with anyone.]

In today’s press conference, DDT had a meltdown after CNN reporter Jim Acosta questioned him about the Russian investigation and the term “invasion” for the immigrant caravan in Mexico. Hours later DDT made the unprecedented move of suspending Acosta’s press credentials for the White House. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders falsely accused Acosta of “placing his hands on a young woman” on an intern when he calmly raised his arm to keep her from taking his microphone. Acosta held on to his microphone and said, “Pardon me, ma’am.” The exchange is shown here; you can decide the truth for yourself.

DDT continued his attacks at the unhinged press conference by snapping at journalist April Ryan to “sit down,” abusing GOP lawmakers who lost elections, accusing PBS Yamiche Alcindor of asking a “racist” question about DDT’s “nationalism,” babbling an answer about uniting the country, and shouting down questions about women’s defeating GOP House candidates. In a weird somber tone, he called out the names of GOP representatives, almost joyously blaming their losses for not wanting his “embrace.”  DDT also claimed that he has a “solution” to abortion but won’t tell anyone what it is. (Maybe the one to the left?)  Jake Tapper’s response to DDT’s behavior at the press conference: “That’s how gangsters act.”

The stock markets like the split Congress, a sign of government inactivity; the Dow Jones shot up over 500 points today. Watch for DDT to take credit for economic success because of the GOP loss.

October 1, 2018

Lindsey Graham Sets His Sights On Becoming First Lady

[A blog post from two women who have been friends for seven decades.]

A blogger wrote in 2017: “There is a certain wisdom that comes with age and Helen Philpot and Margaret Schmechtman show that they still got it. Helen and Margaret have been friends for more than 60 years and aren’t afraid to tell you their views on anything.” References go back ten years in such sources as Forbes and Atlantic.

[From Helen]: Margaret, did you know that women currently make up more than half the population in the US, but we are represented by a Congress made up of 80 percent men? Oh, and honey, it gets worse. Among other countries we are ranked 104th in the world when it comes to female representation in government. Five places behind Saudi Arabia! Hell, we’re almost 40 spots behind Iraq… Yes. You heard me: BEHIND IRAQ.

How long before men realize that women are their equals? After last week, we can probably make the argument that we are more than equal. Everyone of those GOP Senators expected an overly emotional, erratic and maybe even hysterical witness… and let me tell you Brett Kavanaugh did not disappoint. If I were Brett, I’d be worried that The Donald might now try to grab his pussy. Christine Ford managed to stay calm and respectful for 4 hours.   Brett couldn’t last 2 minutes before he came undone.  And speaking of undone, Lindsey Graham deserves an award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his portrayal of Donald Trump’s new girlfriend.  Move over Stormy Daniels. Hurricane Graham has arrived.

To be clear, Brett Kavanaugh is indeed innocent until proven guilty.  And it’s not search and destroy like Kavanaugh and Trump want us to believe.  It’s about making sure the truth comes out. Afterall, if there is nothing to find, then it doesn’t matter how hard you search.   When a woman finds the courage to speak about sexual assault, she deserves to be heard. And hearing her means taking the time to fully investigate in hopes of uncovering the truth.  And if that means men need to be a little scared, so be it. We women have been living scared all our lives. If you are worried for your sons, I have one piece of advice for you. Teach them to respect women.  Problem solved.

But I don’t even know why I am wasting my time writing this.  For the love of God, Republicans just elected a man who was videotaped bragging about assault. Are we really surprised they think a calendar showing exercise workouts during the 80’s is proof enough of innocence? If you are a Republican woman, I hope you are paying attention. It doesn’t matter how accomplished, how intelligent or how credible you are. You will be ignored, dismissed and even smeared if you stand between a Republican man and his path to power… regardless of what evidence you have or don’t have.  If it happens in their teens, it’s boys will be boys, and if it happens as adults, it’s just locker room talk.  Evidently Republicans are just fine electing men who sexually harass and assault women.

Honestly, how do Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins sleep at night? It’s been almost thirty years since the Anita Hill testimony, and we women continue to be ignored about sexual harassment, assault and rape at the hands of powerful men. There have been 52 total women in the United States Senate since its establishment in 1789.  And one of those women simply served for one day.  Until 2001, the most common way for a woman to become a US Senator was to be appointed following the death or resignation of a husband or father who previously held the seat.  Today there are 21 female Senators – 16 Democrats and 5 Republicans… well 6 depending on which column you place Lindsey Graham. Quite frankly, he lacks the humanity to be in either. Imagine how differently things could be if there were 50.

The late Governor Ann Richards liked to say, “Life isn’t one thing after another.  It’s the same damn thing over and over again.”  Well, I am tired of fighting this fight over and over again.  This November we have more women than ever running for elected office, and I for one plan to vote for them early and often. I mean it. Really.

Notes:

Note from Margaret – I think your humor missed the mark when you called Lindsey a girl.

Note from Helen – I called him Trump’s girlfriend which is very different.

Note from Margaret – Well.

Note from Helen – look up satire in your dictionary.

Note from Margaret – under H you might find hypocrisy.

Note from Helen – exactly my point. I’m sending pie.

Note from Margaret – second to the last paragraph, dear.

Note from Helen – I stand corrected and edited. I’m sending two pies. Howard’s favorite.

July 27, 2018

Kavanaugh, A Disaster for the United States, Part 2

When Brett Kavanaugh accepted the nomination for Supreme Court justice, he gave a lovely speech, full of admiration for women and children and minorities. The wealth of his rulings and dissents show that much of what he said was a farce. Possibly even his wife thought so too, from the look on her face.

Separation of Powers – PHH Corp. v. CFPB (2017): Striking down the single-director structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Kavanaugh opposed the president’s needing a reason to fire the CFPB director. Later, the entire D.C. Circuit Court overrode Kavanaugh’s decision.

Abortion – Garza v. Hargan (2017): The complete D.C. Circuit Court vacated an order preventing an undocumented pregnant teenager from having an abortion. Kavanaugh dissented with the statement that “the en banc majority … reflects a philosophy that unlawful immigrant minors have a right to immediate abortion on demand, not to be interfered with even by government efforts to help minors navigate what is undeniably a difficult situation by expeditiously transferring them to their sponsors.” The 17-year-old girl had been held prisoner without permission to see a doctor to keep her from having an abortion as the administration tried to postpone any decision until the fetus was too developed for the procedure.

Contraception – Priests for Life v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2016): When the D.C. Circuit Court refused to hear a case about employers opting out of birth control coverage by submitting a form, dissented because of the employers’ “religious privilege.” Filling out the form seemed to burden their exercise of religion. Kavanaugh’s view is that courts must accept, without question, any religious claim because any employer has the right to deny birth control coverage to their employees through insurance.

Healthcare – Seven Sky v. Holder (2011): In dissenting to the ruling that upheld the Affordable Care Act, Kavanaugh claimed the Anti-Injunction Act, “which carefully limits the jurisdiction of federal courts over tax-related matters.” He argued that a president is not required to enforce the ACA or any other law if he makes that choice. A pending lawsuit regarding the constitutionality of the ACA could be decided by the Supreme Court.

Voting Restrictions – South Carolina v. United States (2012): Kavanaugh wrote the opinion upholding South Carolina’s voter ID law opposed by the DOJ because of serious racial disparities in photo ID requirements blocking over 60,000 minority registered voters from the polls.

Discrimination – Howard v. Office of the Chief Administrative Officer of the U.S. House of Representatives (2013): Kavanaugh’s dissent in this case, if successful, would ban workers in congressional offices from suing on the basis of racism, sexual harassment, and retaliation.  He also claimed in Miller v. Clinton (2012) that the State Department is exempt from being sued for age discrimination. In Rattigan v. Holder (2012), Kavanaugh dissented from the majority rule that a black FBI agent could pursue a case of inappropriate retaliation for filing a discrimination claim when the agency began a security investigation against him.

Hostility to Workers’ Rights – SeaWorld of Fla., LLC v. Perez (2014): Kavanaugh opposed a majority ruling upholding a safety citation after a trainer died while working with an orca that had previously killed three other trainers. He said that the government shouldn’t be responsible for protecting these workers. The nominee has a pattern of ruling against workers in other issues such as worker privacy and union disputes. In National Labor Relations Board v. CNN America, Inc. (2017) Judge Kavanaugh dissented from the majority opinion upholding a National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) order that CNN recognize and bargain with a worker’s union. and finding that CNN violated the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) by discriminating against union members in hiring. Another Kavanaugh dissent in National Federation of Federal Employees v. Vilsack (2012) called for drug testing despite the lack of policy. His majority ruling in American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO v. Gates (2007) could allow the Secretary of Defense to eviscerate collective bargaining.

Immigration – Fogo de Chao Inc. v. Department of Homeland Security (2014): The case agreed that specialized cultural knowledge regarding Brazilian-style cooking was valid for a temporary visa, but Kavanaugh wanted to exclude “any and all knowledge or skills … learned from family or community rather than in-company trainers.”

Gun ownership – Heller v. District of Columbia (2011): The ruling in the D.C. Circuit Court supported a law that prohibited assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and that required certain firearms to be registered. Kavanaugh dissented: “semi-automatic rifles, like semi-automatic handguns, have not traditionally been banned and are in common use by law-abiding citizens for self-defense in the home, hunting, and other lawful uses.” He also stated, “A ban on a class of arms is … equivalent to a ban on a category of speech.” The Supreme Court later overturned Heller.

Net Neutrality – United States Telecom Association v. FCC (2017): After a panel of judges ruled that internet service providers cannot discriminate among content providers, the D.C. Circuit Court refused to rehear the case. Kavanaugh dissented, claiming that the FCC should rely on the 1934 Communications Act which does not allow the FCC to regulate Internet service providers.” The FCC now permits this discrimination.

Environment – EME Homer City Generation, L.P. v. EPA (2012): Kavanaugh wrote the opinion in this decision that the EPA could not require companies to replace refrigerant chemicals of greenhouse gasses with more sustainable alternatives.  In his dissent to White Stallion Energy Ctr. LLC v. EPA (2014), he stated that the EPA should have considered the cost to the power industry before regulating toxic air pollution. The Supreme Court cited his dissent when it reversed the D.C. Circuit Court’s ruling that had upheld the standards. In Howmet Corp. v. EPA (2010) Kavanaugh dissented from a decision to approve an EPA fine of over $300,000 against a company that had improperly shipped a corrosive chemical to be added to fertilizer without properly labelling it and taking other precautions to treat it as a hazardous waste.

Unlimited Campaign Donations – EMILY’s List v. Federal Election Commission (2009): Kavanaugh wrote the opinion that led to the creation of super PACs. In Independence Institute v. Federal Election Commission (2016), he wrote the opinion which Demos and Campaign Legal Center called “a novel theory that would limit disclosure based on a spender’s tax-status, a theory subsequently rejected by a three-judge court and the Supreme Court.”

A civil rights group wrote:

“Judge Kavanaugh’s 12-year record on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, as well as his known writings, speeches, and legal career, demonstrate that if he were confirmed to the Supreme Court, he would be the fifth and decisive vote to undermine many of our core rights and legal protections.  In case after case, he has ruled against individuals and the environment in favor of corporations, the wealthy, and the powerful.  He has advanced extreme legal theories to overturn longstanding precedent to diminish the power of federal agencies to help people.  And he has demonstrated an expansive view of presidential power that includes his belief that presidents should not be subject to civil suits or criminal investigations while in office despite what misconduct may have occurred.”

Putting Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court can vastly increase the economic inequality in a nation where it is greater than at any time during almost a century, an equality marked by gender and race. Lack of healthcare in the United States has caused it to have a higher maternal mortality rate than any other developed country. Taking contraception from women keeps many of them from getting and keeping jobs, advancing their careers, furthering their education, and financially supporting themselves. The loss of contraception also produces higher abortion rates.

In the past century, unions have been responsible for decreasing income inequality. As the number of people in unions grew, so did the percentage of people in the middle class. The reverse is also true, especially for women who comprise the majority of public sector workers that Janus v. AFSCME has tried to destroy. The day after the Supreme Court decision allowed workers to have union benefits without charge, it authorized crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) to continue to lie to women about their services and the dangers of abortions. Two weeks later, the current administration proposed prevention of home care workers unions.

Brett Kavanaugh is part of the conservative strategy to demolish the structure that attempts to protect the well-being of women and families, the foundation for the United States’ economy and democracy. Gone will be reproductive rights for women, safety and privacy rights for workers, union rights, individual rights, immigration rights, voting rights, religious rights, a clean environment, etc. Big business will be god, and the president will be above the law.

With Kavanaugh as justice—or someone like him—the Supreme Court will be a disaster for the nation.

April 29, 2017

DDT: Nel’s 100 Day Report

“No administration has accomplished more in its first 90 days.” Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) statement might be right. Here’s a brief summary:

  • Jan. 21: The largest protest in history of the nation with the Women’s March
  • Jan. 28: Huge protests over Trump’s first Muslim ban.
  • Jan. 30: Order from Sally Yates for Justice Department to not defend Trump’s Muslim ban.
  • Jan. 31: Protests over Trump selection of Gorsuch for Supreme Court.
  • Jan. 31: Statehouse rallies to protest Trump’s immigration policies.
  • Feb. 2: 314 Action formed to promote science and scientists in politics.
  • Feb. 4: National judicial injunction against first Trump Muslim ban.
  • Feb. 7: National movement begins after Elizabeth Warren “persists.”
  • Feb. 7: First time in history that a VP had to break a tie for cabinet appointment.
  • Feb. 7: Launch of “Let America Vote.”
  • Feb. 9: Protest against Andy Pudzer’s nomination as secretary of labor.
  • Feb. 10: Rally for reproductive rights.
  • Feb. 13: Resignation of Michael Flynn as national security advisor.
  • Feb. 15: Withdrawal of Andy Puzder as nominee for labor secretary.
  • Feb. 15: “Day without Immigrants” protest.
  • Feb. 17: EPA employees protest against Scott Pruitt as Secretary of EPA.
  • Feb. 22: Millions of faxes to congressional offices supporting Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”).
  • Feb. 25: Protests supporting transgender rights for students.
  • Feb. 25: Protests supporting the Affordable Care Act.
  • Feb. 25: Protests supporting a free press.
  • Feb. 27: Democratic win in Delaware special state senate election.
  • Feb. 28: Democratic win two of three Connecticut special elections.
  • March 2: Recusal of Jefferson Sessions III recuses from DDT-Russia connection investigations.
  • March 2: Protest march calling for resignation of Jefferson Sessions as attorney general.
  • March 15: Second Muslim ban blocked in court.
  • March 21: David Trott an example of GOP members of Congress afraid of their own “town hall” events.
  • April 5: Steve Bannon removal from the National Security Council.
  • April 6: Democratic filibuster of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court while GOP changes Senate rules.
  • April 6: Recusal of Devin Nunes from House investigation into Trump–Russia connections.
  • April 11: GOP bare win in Kansas special election, one of the reddest districts in the nation.
  • April 12: Continuation of GOP members of Congress running from their own town halls.
  • April 13: Vulnerable GOP congressman slammed at his town hall.
  • April 13: Children and Youth “Stand up to Trump” rally at White House.
  • April 17: Tax day protesters calling for Donald Trump to release his tax returns.
  • April 18: Democratic candidate within two points of majority, forcing runoff, in Georgia election for Newt Gingrich’s old district.
  • April 18: Protesters calling for removal of Bill O’Reilly for sexual assault.
  • April 19: Fox network firing of O’Reilly.
  • April 22: Hundreds of thousands of protesters in March for Science. [find sign from Ann]
  • April 24: Thousands of people at town hall meetings during the past two weeks for GOP members of Congress discouraging them from voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act. https://business.facebook.com/AmericanProgressAction/videos/10154593852870847/
  • April 26: Failure to pass his budget that was postponed for another seven day
  • April 28: Failure put Trumpcare up for a vote.
  • April 29: People’s Climate March.
  • And much more!

DDT has been inspirational for country although he failed to pass any legislation, and almost all of his 30 executive orders were toothless–just setting up reviews or making comments. Others were blocked by the courts. The Guardian describes DDT’s signatures on “25 executive orders, 24 memorandums and 20 proclamations” during his first 93 days as “more cosmetic than substantive.”

The emphasis on the first 100 days of a U.S. president began with Franklin D. Roosevelt who faced a country in crisis on his first day, compared to DDT who inherited a growing economy and shrinking unemployment. A week after his inauguration, FDR reopened the banks and then restored public confidence in financial institutions with the Glass-Stegall Act, overturned 20 years ago. In his first 100 days, FDR signed 15 major pieces of legislation to alleviate the suffering in the nation and went on to create 250,000 jobs with the Civilian Conservation Corps and the predecessor of Social Security with the Federal Emergency Relief Act. His early successes led to the federal minimum wage, federal employees’ rights to unionize, the SEC, the Labor Relations Board, and on and on.

President Obama also inherited a disaster after the gigantic losses caused by George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy and expenditures for two enduring wars. A stimulus plan to stop the horrific loss of jobs and increases in home foreclosures was passed in eight days, and President Obama moved on to pass a budget resolution and major legislation on worker’s rights and health care that had been stalled or vetoed under Bush. At President Obama’s 100-day mark, polls showed an approval rate of 65 percent with only 29 percent disapproval.

What DDT has done:

  • Bombed two countries without provocation and alienated at least nine allies.
  • Overturned most of his promises for the “first 100 days” and charted up the greatest number of flip-flops.
  • Achieved the lowest approval rate during this time of any other president.
  • Collected a cabinet full of members who universally work to overturn their agencies’ missions.
  • Continued making money off his businesses in violation of the constitution’s emoluments clause.
  • Lost at least 16 of his nominations and hirings because of ethics problems, Breitbart smears, or “disloyalty.”
  • Revoked several orders from President Obama such as now giving “hunters” permission to kill bear cubs in their dens during hibernation while on federal lands.
  • Spent more on personal travel in less than 70 days than President Obama did in eight years.
  • Golfed more times—at least 17—than his predecessors put together.

Leonard Pitts wrote:

“The 12 weeks since January 20 have seen more scandal, international incidents, incompetence, instability, lies and jaw-dropping embarrassments than the previous 12 years combined. America is threatened as it has never been before.”

Mark Sumners list of DDT’s “Bans, Bombs, and Chocolate Cake” shows that no modern president has promised more and provided less. He sees his work as occasionally talking with foreign leaders, signing orders, and leaving all his responsibilities to others–primarily his son-in-law Jared Kushner. DDT’s total accomplishment has been to create a culture in U.S. leadership, law enforcement, and society of cruelty, polarization, and fabrication of facts while putting a person with the same philosophy on the Supreme Court. People in the United States now live in an atmosphere of hatred, fear, violence, and prejudice.

DDT promised to do the following on his first day: repealing President Obama’s healthcare, fixing the VA, putting a 35-percent tariff on companies that move offshore, designating China a currency manipulator, reverse every Obama executive order, propose a Constitutional Amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress, and starting work on the wall. He promised a plan to defeat ISIS within 30 days. DDT reversed his opinion on China, signed one executive order on the VA, failed to repeal the health car, and has only enough money to build seven miles of the 2,000-mile wall. There is no plan to defeat ISIS.

On the campaign trail DDT described the United States as a dystopia and said that he would “make America great again” so quickly that “your head will spin.” People will get tired of winning, he claimed, but “I alone can fix it.” The only problem in the nation, according to DDT, was the problem of “stupid” leaders who didn’t know how simple these issues are. DDT discovered after his inauguration that some of these issues were “hard” and “complicated,” so much so that he has no legislative victory during his first 100 days even with a GOP-controlled Congress. There is no winning yet.

DDT’s economic plans are tax cuts for the rich, deregulation for the powerful, and wage suppressions the rest of the people. His overarching goal is to create the dystopia that he described. His white supremacist adviser Steve Bannon promised to “deconstruct” the United States, and the result is to destroy the essence of the nation by blending kleptocracy, government by leaders seeking only wealth and power, and kakistocracy, government by the worst leaders. EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt is a prime example because he plans to return the U.S. to a land of contaminated water and smog-filled air—in short, a plan unfit for habitation. DDT’s friend Carl Icahn picked Pruitt for the job because Pruitt opposed an ethanol rule that cost one of Icahn’s refineries over $200 million a year. Pruitt had already sued the EPA 14 times, 13 of them on behalf of his campaign donors and workers. DDT’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, says that climate science expenditures are “a waste of money…. We’re not spending money on that anymore.” DDT tried to build his supporter base by executive orders with the promise of bringing back coal jobs, but a few thousand jobs weren’t enough to raise his approval rating.

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, who vowed to do away with the agency if he could remember its name, administrated one of the worst states in the nation in terms of health and education. Texas’ schools are among the worst in the nation, and the rates of teen mothers and uninsured people are among the highest. Perry is a strong supporter of pipelines; the two approved will provide 75 permanent jobs but create billions in losses for taxpayers from oil spills.

The latest Gallup poll gives DDT 41-percent approval rating, the lowest at this time of any presidency since polling on this issue started. Almost half of respondents—45 percent—told an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll that DDT is off to a “poor start” in office. Forty percent said “good” or “great” start compared to 54 percent who said the same thing about President Obama for his first 100 days. Only 25% of people in a NBC News poll consider Trump honest and trustworthy, and only 27 percent consider him “knowledgeable and experienced enough to handle the presidency.” Only 21 percent said he had the “right temperament.” Fifty-seven percent said that the government should do more to solve problems compared to the 39 percent who think government does too much—the most progressive response since the poll began asking the question 20 years ago. About having his daughter and son-in-law in his administration, 61 percent disapprove.

Yes, DDT, no other administration did more in the first 90 days in vulgarity, lying, fraud, uncaring ignorance, and vindictiveness. He doesn’t even have the courage to go to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner today; instead he’s holding a rally to campaign for 2020. Peter Dreier pointed out on The Nation, DDT revitalized Alec Baldwin’s career and expanded Melissa McCarthy’s visibility on Saturday Night Live.

More sources about DDT’s first 100 days: A list;  damage to the workers; more harm to workers; business giveaways; failures in the Middle East; disasters in Asia/Pacific; harm to women and familiescorporate government; and   environmental damage.

About the presidency, DDT said, “I thought it would be easier.” It’s harder on the rest of us.

February 12, 2017

People Use Religion to Disrespect Women’s Rights

Yesterday’s marches against Planned Parenthood again ignored that federal money doesn’t go to abortions whereas the government spends hundreds of billions of dollars to kill people around the world—many of them innocent—and conservatives are determined to kill people through air and water pollution. These pro-life people are willing to kill anyone except what they consider the “unborn” and abuse children after they are born. Yet they use the bible as their justification for a woman’s choice regarding her own body because conservatives believe women aren’t smart enough to make the right choice for themselves.

A few facts from their bible:

God defined a potion for abortion potion: “May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries.”—Numbers 5:22-27

God fines the killing of a fetus but puts to death the person killing a woman: “And if men strive together, and hurt a pregnant woman, so that her fruit [children] come out, and yet no harm follows; the one who hit her shall surely be fined, according as the woman’s husband shall impose upon him; and he shall pay a fine as the judges determine. But if any harm follows, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth ….” —Exodus 21:22-23

God defines a person through the ability to breathe: “Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” – Genesis 2:7

The bible’s opinion of women:

A wife is man’s property: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife … or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” —Exodus 20:17

Girl babies are twice as unclean as boys: ‘If a woman has conceived, and borne a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days …. But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean two weeks. —Leviticus 12:1-8

Women should keep silent:  “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.” —1 Cor. 14:34

A raped daughter must be sold to her rapist: ““If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, 29 then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days.” —Deut. 22:28-29

Women must cover their hair—like the Muslim hijab: “For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.” —I Cor. 11:6

Women should be forced to have children: “Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.”—1 Tim. 2:15

Women make men dirty: “[Those redeemed from the earth] are those who did not defile themselves with women.” —Revelation 14:4

Opinions from revered church leaders:

“Woman is a temple built over a sewer.” –Tertullian, “the father of Latin Christianity” (c160-225)

Woman is a misbegotten man and has a faulty and defective nature in comparison to his. Therefore she is unsure in herself. What she cannot get, she seeks to obtain through lying and diabolical deceptions. And so, to put it briefly, one must be on one’s guard with every woman, as if she were a poisonous snake and the horned devil. …” –Saint Albertus Magnus, Dominican theologian, 13th century

“[Women’s] very consciousness of their own nature must evoke feelings of shame.”–Saint Clement of Alexandria, Christian theologian (c150-215)

“The word and works of God is quite clear, that women were made either to be wives or prostitutes.” –Martin Luther, Reformer (1483-1546)

In pain shall you bring forth children, woman, and you shall turn to your husband and he shall rule over you. And do you not know that you are Eve? God’s sentence hangs still over all your sex and His punishment weighs down upon you. You are the devil’s gateway; you are she who first violated the forbidden tree and broke the law of God. … Woman, you are the gate to hell. –Tertullian, “the father of Latin Christianity” (c160-225)

“Even as the church must fear Christ Jesus, so must the wives also fear their husbands. And this inward fear must be shewed by an outward meekness and lowliness in her speeches and carriage to her husband…. For if there be not fear and reverence in the inferior, there can be no sound nor constant honor yielded to the superior.” –John Dod: A Plaine and Familiar Exposition of the Ten Commandements, Puritan guidebook first published in 1603

“A wife is to submit graciously to the servant leadership of her husband, even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ.” – Official Faith and Message Statement of Southern Baptist Convention, Summer 1998, (15.7 million members)

“The Holiness of God is not evidenced in women when they are brash, brassy, boisterous, brazen, head-strong, strong-willed, loud-mouthed, overly-talkative, having to have the last word, challenging, controlling, manipulative, critical, conceited, arrogant, aggressive, assertive, strident, interruptive, undisciplined, insubordinate, disruptive, dominating, domineering, or clamoring for power. Rather, women accept God’s holy order and character by being humbly and unobtrusively respectful and receptive in functional subordination to God, church leadership, and husbands.” –James Fowler: Women in the Church, 1999.

People who use the bible—“God’s word”—to justify their treatment of people, including eliminating reproductive rights for women,  often also say that no one should take the words in the bible literally. According to Matthew 13:13:

“Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.”

People who try to limit others by quoting the bible should follow their own advice and not bully others with their personal religion.

Fortunately, many people in the United States agree with this position. Counter-protests yesterday were much larger than the anti-abortion activists outside Planned Parenthood to cut off funds for Planned Parenthood. Those attending the rallies talked about how much Planned Parenthood does for health—birth control, cancer screenings, testing and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, counseling, etc. Medicaid funds pay for these health services for both men and women. Last month, Donald Trump banned U.S. funding to any international group that even provides information about abortions. Cutting funds for Planned Parenthood would cause 400,000 women to lose access to health care.

Oregon senators, in support of women, are working on a bill to require Oregon insurance companies to cover reproductive health care services. The Reproductive Health Equity Act, HB 2232, would cover all services under the current Affordable Care Act as well as abortion. The bill goes to the House first to address questions and clarify language. At this time, the measure has an exemption that protects religious beliefs.

Illinois advocates are supporting HB 40 to guarantee reproductive care services, including abortion, for all enrolled in Medicaid, something available only in 17 other states.

New Mexico lawmakers have introduced three bills to improve reproductive health access and rights: preserve birth control access, allow women to obtain one year of contraceptive medication at a time, penalize medical providers who refuse reproductive health services, and mandate “reasonable accommodations: for pregnant women in the workplace. Hospitals would not be permitted to “limit or otherwise interfere” with a doctor’s “independent professional judgment” in providing reproductive health information, referrals, and procedures “where a failure to provide” them “would violate the medical standard of care owed to the patient.”

New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed an amendment to the state constitution that protects abortion rights as outlined in Roe v. Wade.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen has approved a bill prohibiting discrimination based on reproductive decisions or pregnancy with a limited exemption for religious institutions but not for business owners who use religion to object.

Respect for women means respecting our rights–all of them.

January 13, 2014

Lack of Gun Control: Arguments Don’t Hold Water

The proliferation of hate speech on the Internet may not touch most of us, but sometimes an article comes into my email that strikes a strong chord in my sense of outrage and fear. Such was the case regarding Ross Douthat’s opinion piece last week about journalist Amanda Hess and the horrifying Internet abuse that she faces because she is a woman who speaks out on the web.

As Douthat wrote, “The anecdotes, her own and others, range from the offensive to the terrifying, but there’s also a thudding, soul-crushing sameness to them: graphic threats of sexual violence, rape and murder, intertwining and repeating.” He was referring to Hess’ article in the Pacific Standard about technological stalkers and the law enforcement response that she should just stay off Twitter, a form of communication that she uses for her job.

Equally disturbing was Hess’ description about the people who regularly and anonymously violate others through the Internet. One of these, calling himself “Violentacrez,” was “infamous for posting creepy photographs of underage women and creating or moderating subcommunities on [Reddit] with names like ‘chokeabitch’ and ‘rapebait.’”  In 2012 Gawker revealed that the man is Michael Brusch, a Texas computer programmer, who said, “I do my job, go home, watch TV, and go on the Internet. I just like riling people up in my spare time. People take things way too seriously around here.”

Perhaps I was feeling more vulnerable and sensitive to the issue because of meeting I attended last Saturday. The purpose of the meeting was to support common-sense gun legislation in Oregon, in this case a law requiring universal background checks for all people purchasing guns. Seven people who attended the meeting were highly vocal about blocking any legislation. They used the following talking points against having these background checks:

  • Gun violence isn’t all that bad in Oregon, only 416 people killed last year. [To me, 416 dead people is 416 too many, and we don’t know if that’s the correct number because the NRA control of Congress prevents any statistics about gun deaths.]
  • “I know all my neighbors, and I know that they are all good people.” [We all want to think that we are good judges of character although I know I’m not. A person who I thought I would trust with my life turned out to be a sociopath who was just using me.]
  • Gun violence is really worse in other countries because they lie about their statistics. [There’s absolutely no way to convince anyone believing this that he is wrong.]
  • Universal background checks don’t do any good because criminals won’t follow the law. [I said that under this reasoning he would not want any laws because criminals wouldn’t obey them; he responded that this was a ridiculous statement.]
  • The only solution is to put more guns in the hands of more good people. [More and more guns are being sold in the United States, and that doesn’t seem to be working out.]
  • Background checks won’t do any good in one state because surrounding states won’t have them. [That’s the best argument for federal universal background checks!]

The strongest arguments came from people who indicated that they had been in the military. The last 12 years have deified the military system in a manner that increases sexism and racism by stressing the superiority of some people over others, both within the military and in the wars that George W. Bush sent people off to fight. The result of this value system is increasing dehumanizing of individuals. The result is only those within an intimate circle—which can mean fellow soldiers—have any importance. Everyone else is to be vanquished at any cost.

Because of the strict hierarchical relationships within the military, all cooperation, equality, and nonviolence are devalued. There must be a winner, and all others—women, ethnic minorities, LGBT, and those of non-Christian religions—are losers.

That’s where the guns come into the picture. There is no military without weapons. Many young people, even those who are not actively part of the military, come to believe that they have the entitlement to own as many guns as they want with no restriction on size or ammunition. They seem to be part of a private club in which people feel they are being attacked for loving their guns.

Restaurateur Bryan Crosswhite (Cajun Experience, Leesburg, VA) is setting up a registry of restaurants where guns are welcomed, complete with a 2AO sticker on the door and a website listing “gun-friendly” eateries.  He personally gives a ten-percent discount on “open carry Wednesdays” for those who have a concealed or open-carry permit.

The Outdoor Channel plans an “expansion of its strategic partnership with the National Rifle Association” and a new “multi-year talent and endorsement agreement” with inflammatory NRA board member and conservative columnist Ted Nugent. That means that the Outdoor Channel will become the Gun Channel. President/CEO Jim Libratore said, “Ted Nugent symbolizes everything that is right in our industry and represents our viewers as an outspoken patriot, a skilled outdoorsman, and a devoted family man.” Libratore is elevating Nugent’s racism, sexism, homophobia, immigrant bashing, and Islamophobia as well as his threatening to kill President Obama if he were re-elected to a high moral level.

Florida legislators, not satisfied with waiting until feeling threatened, is pushing a bill allowing people to show a gun and fire a warning shot without a prison sentence.

Part of the growing militarism of the United States gun owners is their desire to take over the country.

Early this month Jim Garrow called for “Operation American Spring” on May 16, an uprising against the president patterned after the Arab Spring uprising. He thinks that the population can take control of the country with just three percent of the people involved. Last fall, Larry Klayman got only 100 people at a rally to overthrow the president.

Everest Wilhelmsen called for assassinating President Obama on a Facebook post. Like the others, he’s obsessed with guns and the Second Amendment. The head of the Christian American Patriots Militia, he claims that the U.S. Constitution gives him the authority to murder President Obama. Last August, a Maine Republican called for deadly violence against the president, and two years ago another conservative did the same thing—both of these also on Facebook.

A current study shows that the number of mass shootings increased from five a year between 2000 and 2008 to 16 a year for the four following years. Although the shooters range in age, 94 percent of them are men and claim an average of two lives. “Mass shooting” is defined in the report as events in which a gunman opens fire in a public place motivated by killing many including at least one who is not “related” to the gunman. Gang violence and crimes in which shooting is a byproduct were not included in the study. A 2010 study predicted an increase in the number of mass shootings; it was right.

Claims that there’s no reason to be afraid of civilians with guns are being disproved. A recent study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology suggests that people holding guns are less capable of evaluating threats than if they didn’t have a weapon in their hands. Just seeing a gun affects people adversely; studies since 1967 describe the “weapons effect” in which just the presence of a gun can stimulate aggressive behavior. If people are already aggravated, seeing a gun will ramp up their aggressiveness. Another study watched drivers stuck at an intersection behind a truck that didn’t move after the light turned green. People honked more often if they saw a gun displayed in the truck’s rear window.

A gun is automatically seen as a threat, as shown in the “threat superiority effect.” People have a tendency to see dangerous objects more quickly than other ones. Danger is reflected first by dilating pupils and followed by increase in heart and respiration rates. One woman felt that way when 40 gun activists gathered outside an Arlington (TX) restaurant because Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense were meeting inside. She said, “The only reaction I had was ‘I’m not going out there at all.’ They were all carrying rifles. There was a lot of firepower and a lot of potential for carnage out in that parking lot. Absolutely I was scared.”

Gun activists claim that they want to desensitize people about this fear. They fail to recognize that fear is a useful survival instinct.  Last year Robert Pratt was carrying a shotgun in Plainwell (MI) while walking his dog. Officers tried to persuade him to take his gun back to his house, but Pratt said he was “just exercising rights as a U.S. citizen.” Cassandra Pell, the daughter of one of the officers was Pratt’s girlfriend. Pratt continued to carry his gun, and last June he used the shotgun to kill Cassandra before he committed suicide.

In an attempt to communicate with the gun activists at the meeting, my partner said that she had the right to feel safe and that the lack of universal background checks kept her from feeling safe. One of them told her she had no constitutional right to feel safe. In other words, he’s in control and can tell her what rights she should have. Maybe he just wants to rile people. Or maybe ….

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