America Ferrera & Eva Longoria Among A-Listers To Pen Letter In Support Of Latino Community

Deadline

Peter White, Deadline       August 16, 2019
J.Lo, Eva Longoria sign letter to support the Latino community

Welcome to Ayn Rand’s (and trump’s) America

truth dig

Welcome to Ayn Rand’s America

Thom Hartmann /  Independent Media Institute

August 13, 2019

Welcome to Ayn Rand's America
Author Ayn Rand. (YouTube screen grab)

 

There’s a direct link between a sociopathic killer in 1927 and the GOP’s willingness to embrace a sociopathic president like Trump. That link runs through the work of Ayn Rand.

When Donald Trump was running for the GOP nomination, he told USA Today’s Kirsten Powers that Ayn Rand’s raped-girl-decides-she-likes-it novel, “The Fountainhead,” was his favorite book.

“It relates to business, beauty, life and inner emotions,” he told Powers. “That book relates to … everything.”

Trump probably knew that anything by Rand would be the right answer for Republicans; the party has embraced her for decades, to the point that Paul Ryan required interns to read her books as a condition of employment.

Powers added, “He [Trump] identified with Howard Roark, the novel’s idealistic protagonist who designs skyscrapers and rages against the establishment.” Roark raged so much in the novel that he blew up a public housing project with dynamite just to get his way.

Rand was quite clear about the characteristics she wrote into her heroes, and in particular Howard Roark. In her Journals, she writes of the theme of the book, “One puts oneself above all and crushes everything in one’s way to get the best for oneself. Fine!”

On Howard Roark, she writes that he “has learned long ago, with his first consciousness, two things which dominate his entire attitude toward life: his own superiority and the utter worthlessness of the world. He knows what he wants and what he thinks. He needs no other reasons, standards or considerations. His complete selfishness is as natural to him as breathing.”

Roark seems like the kind of man who would brag about grabbing women by the genitals because, “When you’re a star, they let you do it.” But this was long before Donald Trump was on the scene.

Instead, the man who so inspired Ayn Rand’s fictional heroes was a real sociopath named William Edward Hickman, who lived in Los Angeles.

Ten days before Christmas, in 1927, Hickman, a teenager with slicked dark hair and tiny, muted eyes, drove up to Mount Vernon Junior High School in Los Angeles, California, and kidnapped Marion Parker—the daughter of a wealthy banker in town.

Hickman held the girl ransom, demanding $1,500 from her father—back then about a year’s salary. Supremely confident that he would elude capture, Hickman signed his name on the ransom notes, “The Fox.”

After two days, Marion’s father agreed to hand over the ransom in exchange for the safety of his daughter. What Perry Parker didn’t know is that Hickman never intended to live up to his end of the bargain.

The Pittsburgh Press detailed what Hickman, in his own words, did next.

“It was while I was fixing the blindfold that the urge to murder came upon me,” he said. “I just couldn’t help myself. I got a towel and stepped up behind Marion. Then, before she could move, I put it around her neck and twisted it tightly.”

Hickman didn’t hold back on any of these details: he was proud of his cold-bloodedness.

“I held on and she made no outcry except to gurgle. I held on for about two minutes, I guess, and then I let go. When I cut loose the fastenings, she fell to the floor. I knew she was dead.”

But Hickman wasn’t finished. “After she was dead I carried her body into the bathroom and undressed her, all but the underwear, and cut a hole in her throat with a pocket knife to let the blood out.”

Hickman then dismembered the child piece-by-piece, putting her limbs in a cabinet in his apartment, and then wrapped up the carved-up torso, powdered the lifeless face of Marion Parker, set what was left of her stump torso with the head sitting atop it in the passenger seat of his car, and drove to meet her father to collect the ransom money.

He even sewed open her eyelids to make it look like she was alive.

On the way, Hickman dumped body parts out of his car window, before rendezvousing with Marion Parker’s father.

Armed with a shotgun so her father wouldn’t come close enough to Hickman’s car to see that Marion was dead, Hickman collected his $1,500, then kicked open the door and tossed the rest of Marion Parker onto the road. As he sped off, her father fell to his knees, screaming.

Days later, the police caught up with a defiant and unrepentant Hickman in Oregon. His lawyers pleaded insanity, but the jury gave him the gallows.

To nearly everyone, Hickman was a monster. The year of the murder, the Los Angeles Times called it “the most horrible crime of the 1920’s.” Hickman was America’s most despicable villain at the time.

But to a young Russian idealist just arriving in America, Hickman was a hero.

And while Hickman the man has, today, been largely forgotten, Hickman the archetype has lived on and influenced our nation in a profound fashion, paving the way for Donald Trump, a man with no empathy or consideration of social norms, to one day occupy the White House.

The kind of man who would pose with a tiny baby, the youngest survivor of a slaughter that he, himself encouraged with his hateful rhetoric, and mug for the camera with a thumbs-up sign.

Two years before William Edward Hickman was sentenced to death, a 21-year-old Russian political science student named Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum arrived in New York Harbor on a French ocean liner. The year was 1926, and she was on the last leg of her dream trip to the Land of Opportunity, scurrying across the Soviet Union, Germany, and France before procuring a first-class cabin aboard the S.S. De Grasse, bound for the United States.

Alissa was a squat five-foot-two with a flapper hairdo and wide sunken dark eyes that gave her a haunting stare. And etched into those brooding eyes was burned the memory of a childhood backlit by the Russian Revolution.

She had just departed Leninist Russia where, almost a decade earlier, there was a harsh backlash against the Russian property owners—the people who were rich with Russian money like Donald trump—by the Bolsheviks. Alissa’s own family was targeted, and at the age of 12 she witnessed Bolshevik soldiers burst into her father’s pharmacy business, loot the store, and plaster on the doors the red emblem of the state indicating that his private business now belonged to “the people.”

That incident left such a deep and burning wound in young Alissa’s mind, that she went to college to study political science and vowed one day she’d become a famous writer to warn the world of the dangers of Bolshevism.

Starting afresh in Hollywood, she anglicized her name to Ayn Rand, and moved from prop-girl to screenwriter/novelist, basing the heroes of several of her stories on a man she was reading about in the newspapers at the time. A man she wrote effusively about in her diaries. A man she hero-worshipped.

He was the most notorious man in American in 1928, having achieved a level of national fame she craved—William Edward Hickman.

What young Ayn Rand saw in Hickman that would encourage her to base a novel, then her philosophy, then her life’s work, on him was quite straightforward: unfeeling, unpitying selfishness.

He was the kind of man who would revel in the pain parents would feel when their children were ripped from their arms and held in freezing cages for over a year.

In Hickman, Ayn Rand wrote that she had finally found the new model of the Superman (her phrase, likely borrowed from Friedrich Nietzsche). Only a worldview held by a man like Hickman, she believed, could ever prevent an all-powerful state from traumatizing another generation of small businesspeople and their children as the Bolsheviks had her family.

Hickman’s words as recounted by Rand in her Journals, “I am like the state: what is good for me is right,” resonated deeply with her. It was the perfect articulation of her belief that if people pursued their own interests above all else—even above friends, family, or nation—the result would be utopian.

She wrote in her diary that those words of Hickman’s were, “the best and strongest expression of a real man’s psychology I ever heard.”

Hickman—the monster who boasted of how he had hacked up a 12-year-old girl—had Rand’s ear, as well as her heart. She saw a strongman archetype in him, the way that people wearing red MAGA hats see a strongman savior in Donald trump.

As Hickman’s murder trial unfolded, Rand grew increasingly enraged at how the mediocre American masses had rushed to condemn her Superman, much like today people Trump calls mediocre condemn him and the killings that may have emerged from his rhetoric, from Charleston to Charlottesville to El Paso.

“The first thing that impresses me about the case,” Rand wrote in reference to the Hickman trial in early notes for a book she was working on titled The Little Street, “is the ferocious rage of the whole society against one man.”

Astounded that Americans didn’t recognize the heroism Hickman showed when he proudly rose above simply conforming to society’s rules, Rand wrote, “It is not the crime alone that has raised the fury of public hatred. It is the case of a daring challenge to society. … It is the amazing picture of a man with no regard whatever for all that society holds sacred, with a consciousness all his own.”

In other words, a man who lives exclusively for himself. A narcissistic psychopath. A man who could sell out his own country to foreign powers, tearing apart his nation’s people, just for his own enjoyment.

Rand explained that when the masses are confronted with such a bold actor, they neither understood nor empathized with him. Thus, “a brilliant, unusual, exceptional boy [was] turned [by the media] into a purposeless monster.”

The protagonist of the book that Rand was writing around that time was a boy named Danny Renahan. In her notes for the book, she wrote, “The model for the boy [Renahan] is Hickman.” He would be her ideal man, and the archetype for a philosophical movement that could transform a nation.

“He is born with the spirit of Argon and the nature of a medieval feudal lord,” Rand wrote in her notes describing Renahan. “Imperious. Impatient. Uncompromising. Untamable. Intolerant. Unadaptable. Passionate. Intensely proud. Superior to the mob… an extreme ‘extremist.’ … No respect for anything or anyone.”

The kind of man who would tell over 12,000 lies in two and a half years, who would daily lie to the press and his nation, just because he could—and would revel in it.

Rand wanted capitalism in its most raw form, uncheck by any government that could control the rules of the market or promote the benefits of society. Such good intentions had, after all, caused the hell she’d experienced in the Bolshevik Revolution, just like they’d caused Fred Trump to be arrested and fined for refusing to maintain apartments that black people had moved into.

Ayn Rand, like Hickman, found in the extremes her economic, political, and moral philosophy. Forget about democratic institutions, forget about regulating markets, and forget about pursuing any policies that benefit the majority at the expense of the very rich—the rule-makers and rule-enforcers could never, ever do anything well or good. Only billionaires should rule the world, as Trump has suggested.

Trump personifies this, putting an advocate of destroying public schools in charge of public schools, a coal lobbyist in charge of the EPA, an oil lobbyist in charge of our public lands, and a billionaire described by Forbes as a “grifter” in charge of the Commerce Department. His chief of staff said that putting children in cages (where seven so far have died) would actually be a public good. Don’t just ignore the rules; destroy them.

Welfare and other social safety net programs were, as Rand saw it, “the glorification of mediocrity” in society. Providing a social safety net for the poor, disabled, or unemployed, she believed, were part of a way of thinking that promoted, “satisfaction instead of joy, contentment instead of happiness… a glow-worm instead of a fire.”

She, like Trump, lived a largely joyless life. She mercilessly manipulated people, particularly her husband, and, like Trump, surrounded herself with cult-like followers who were only on the inside so long as they gave her total, unhesitating loyalty.

Like Trump and his billionaire backers, she believed that a government promoting working-class “looters” instead of solely looking out for capitalist “producers” was throwing its “best people” under the bus.

In Rand’s universe, the producers had no obligations to the looters. Providing welfare or sacrificing one nickel of your own money to help a “looter” on welfare, unemployment, or Social Security—particularly if it was “taken at the barrel of a gun” (taxes)—was morally reprehensible.

Like trump saying, “My whole life I’ve been greedy,” for Rand looking out for numero uno was the singular name of the game—selfishness is next to godliness.

Later in Rand’s life, in 1959, as she gained more notoriety for the moral philosophy of selfishness that she named “Objectivism” and that is today at the core of libertarianism and the GOP, she sat down for an interview with CBS reporter Mike Wallace.

Suggesting that selfishness undermines most American values, Wallace bluntly challenged Rand.

“You are out to destroy almost every edifice in the contemporary American way of life,” Wallace said to Rand. “Our Judeo-Christian religion, our modified government-regulated capitalism, our rule by the majority will… you scorn churches, and the concept of God… are these accurate criticisms?”

As Wallace was reciting the public criticisms of Rand, the CBS television cameras zoomed in closely on her face, as her eyes darted back and forth between the ground and Wallace’s fingers. But the question, with its implied condemnation, didn’t faze her at all. Rand said with confidence in a matter-of-fact tone, “Yes.”

“We’re taught to feel concerned for our fellow man,” Wallace challenged, “to feel responsible for his welfare, to feel that we are, as religious people might put it, children under God and responsible one for the other—now why do you rebel?”

“That is what in fact makes man a sacrificial animal,” Rand answered. She added, “[man’s] highest moral purpose is the achievement of his own happiness.”

Rand’s philosophy, though growing in popularity on college campuses, never did—in her lifetime—achieve the sort of mass appeal she had hoped. It was confined to college coffee shops, intellectual conferences, and true-believer journals, but never hit the halls of Congress, the mainstream television airwaves, or water-cooler political debates. There were the handful of “true believers,” but that was it… until today.

Now, Ayn Rand’s philosophy is a central tenet of today’s Republican party, and the moral code proudly cited and followed by high-profile billionaires and the president of the United States.

Ironically, when she was finally beginning to be taken seriously, Ayn Rand became ill with lung cancer, and went on Social Security and Medicare to make it through her last days. She died a “looter” in 1982, unaware that her sociopathic worldview would one day validate an entire political party’s embrace of a sociopathic narcissist president.

This article was produced by the Independent Media Institute. 

Thom Hartmann is a talk show host and the author of “The Hidden History of Guns and the Second Amendment” and more than 25 other books in print.

CEO Compensation has risen 940 percent since 1978, but worker compensation has only increased 12 percent

Newsweek

CEO Compensation has risen 940 percent since 1978, but worker compensation has only increased 12 percent

By Daniel Moritz – Babson     August 14, 2019

PiggybankA standard 1040 form is shown with some cash from a piggy bank.WILL & DENI MCINTYRE / CONTRIBUTOR

CEO’s at America’s 350 top public firms earned  278 times more than their typical employee in 2018, according to a study from the Economic Policy Institute released Wednesday.

The study emphasized the widening gulf between compensation given to employees and CEO’s at the country’s top firms.

While inflation-adjusted CEO compensation has risen 940 percent since 1978, worker compensation had only increased 11.9 percent, the report said. Its findings highlight the decades-long bifurcation of CEO and employee pay, which in 1965 was at a much lower ratio of 20-1.

The analysis included figures for compensation when stock options were immediately realized and when they were granted. The 940 percent increase references CEO compensation when executives cashed in their stock. But CEO pay increased even more, 1,007.5 percent, under the options granted measure.

While top executive compensation has grown 52.6 percent since 2009 when stock options were exercised, rank-and-file workers witnessed just 5.3 percent compensation growth. Between 2017 and 2018, compensation for employees at the evaluated firms decreased.

The EPI analysis found that CEO’s were paid an average of $17.2 million last year, when stock options were cashed in. Significantly, CEO compensation rose much faster than even the most highly paid employees, indicating that skill is not the sole determinant of rising CEO pay. The percent increase in CEO compensation has far outpaced S&P stock market growth.

“Ballooning CEO pay is not a reflection of the market for executive talent,” EPI research assistant Julia Wolfe, who co-conducted the analysis, said in a press  release. “We know this because CEO compensation has grown far faster than even the top 0.1 percent of earners. This means that CEO pay can be curbed with little, if any, impact on the output of the economy or firm performance.”

The analysts recommended reinstating elevated marginal income tax rates for high earners, capping compensation and raising the tax rate for firms that have high ratios of CEO-to-worker pay. They also recommended permitting shareholders to have greater control over CEO compensation.

“The escalation of CEO compensation has fueled the growth of top one percent incomes and widespread inequality across the country,” EPI Distinguished Fellow Lawrence Mishel, who co-conducted the analysis, said in a press release.

In June, the AFL-CIO released a similar report highlighting the vast gap between CEO and employee compensation. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who received a performance-linked equity options package worth $2.3 billion last year, earned 40,688 times more than the company’s median employee. The AFL-CIO report said that America’s 60 largest companies paid $0 in federal income taxes last year.

While the EPI report focuses on the leaders of companies earning the most money, Democratic candidates have sought to highlight broader wealth disparities between the rich and the poor.

Wealth mobility has decreased since the 1980’s, according to research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. And income inequality is rising rapidly, with the poorest families in the country taking on debt, while families in the 90th percentile of wealth witnessed fivefold wealth increases between 1963 and 2016.

Candidates vying for the Democratic presidential nomination have promoted policies to diminish the nation’s wealth gap.

“The American people are sick and tired of corporate CEO’s who now make 278 times more than their average employees, while they give themselves huge bonuses and cut back on the healthcare benefits of their employees,” Vermont Senator and 2020 candidate Bernie Sanders told Newsweek reporter Nicole Goodkind on Wednesday.

“We need an economy and a government that works for all of us, not just the top one percent. That means, among other things, raising the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour, making it easier for workers to join unions, guaranteeing healthcare as a right, and demanding that the wealthiest people and most profitable corporations pay their fair share of taxes,” he added.

Nicole Goodkind conducted additional reporting for this article.

Greta Thunberg Won’t ‘Waste Time’ Talking To Trump

HuffPost

Greta Thunberg Explains Why She Won’t ‘Waste Time’ Talking To Trump.

Democrats are an endangered species in Utah

The Salt Lake Tribune

Pat Bagley Cartoon: Vox Populi
August 12, 2019
Democrats are an endangered species in Utah, for reasons surpassing understanding considering the state’s current leaders.
SLTRIB.COM

‘He gets it’: Evangelicals aren’t turned off by trump’s first term.

Washington Post

‘He gets it’: Evangelicals aren’t turned off by trump’s first term.

Religious voters say the president has made good on promises and taken on key issues.

By Julie Zauzmer                         August 13, 2019

BRANDON, Fla. — Three years ago, Rickey Halbert was torn about whether to vote for President Trump.

On the one hand, he had read about Trump’s extramarital affairs and the women who alleged he had sexually assaulted them. Halbert, a Defense Department employee, didn’t think the candidate matched his moral compass.

Then again, he believed Trump would reduce the number of abortions in the country.

In the end, he said, that convinced him to vote for the president, like most of his fellow evangelicals.

In the years since, he’s watched as Trump restricted abortion access, rolled back gay rights and tried to reduce both legal and illegal immigration. He’s listened as Trump has made racist statements and been accused of rape.

He has reached the same conclusion as so many evangelicals across the country: In 2020, he’ll support the president. This time, it won’t be a hard choice.

Trump enjoyed overwhelming support from white evangelicals in 2016, winning a higher percentage than George W. Bush, John McCain or Mitt Romney. That enthusiasm has scarcely dimmed. Almost 70 percent of white evangelicals approve of Trump’s performance in office, according to a 2019 Pew Research Center poll.

Interviews with 50 evangelical Christians in three battleground states — Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — help explain why. In conversation, evangelical voters paint the portrait of the Trump they see: a president who acts like a bully but is fighting for them. A president who sees America like they do, a menacing place where white Christians feel mocked and threatened for their beliefs. A president who’s against abortion and gay rights and who has the economy humming to boot.

“You’ve just got to accept the bad with the good,” Halbert said.

Evangelical Christians are separated from other Protestants (called mainline Protestants) by their belief in the literal truth of the Bible as well as their conservative politics on gender roles, sexuality, abortion and other subjects.

For many, the eight years of the Obama administration felt like a nightmare. The indelible image for the Rev. Chris Gillott was the night the Supreme Court ruled gay marriage legal across the land and Obama flooded the White House in rainbow lights.

“I didn’t see it lit up in a rainbow this June,” the youth pastor at Christian Life Center in Bensalem, Pa., notes, with a hint of satisfaction.

Gillott perceived, during the Obama administration, a newly hostile attitude toward Christians in America that left him worried his country was changing irrevocably. “If you think marriage is between one man and one woman, you’re a bigot and we don’t need you in this country,” he summarized what he saw as the thinking of Democrats. “There is animus being attributed to Christian core beliefs. And where that’s coming from is the left.”

Trump looked to many like a protector, a brash culture warrior who would take their side. “He said, ‘I’m gonna fight for you. I’m gonna defend you,’ ” said Ralph Reed, the chair of the Faith and Freedom Coalition in Georgia, which will distribute millions of voter-guide pamphlets at churches to drive evangelical turnout in 2020. “He gets it. He knows they’re hungry for that.”

Reed, and others, don’t necessarily expect Trump to fix the problems they see. On gay rights in particular — by far the most drastic change in American attitudes in this century — evangelicals fought hard to block marriage equality. But now, many believe that ship has sailed.

While they cheer Trump’s many efforts to chip away at LGBT rights, they are much more concerned with protecting their own right to maintain their opposition.

They want to be able to teach their values without interference — some churchgoers fretted about school textbooks that refer to transgender identities without condemnation and about gay couples showing up in TV commercials every time they try to watch a show with their children.

They want the right to choose how they run their businesses. Members of large churches across the country can rattle off the details of the court cases involving Christian business owners who refused to participate in gay weddings and the bill that Democrats in Congress want to pass to compel service for all customers.

For many, abortion was the defining issue of the last election. In Appleton, Wis., the Rev. A.J. Dudek sat with several leaders of men’s Bible study groups recently in his megachurch’s huge curving lobby.

“Do I enjoy his tweets? No,” Dudek said about the president. But he believes the agenda far outweighs that concern. “If Donald Trump will help save a couple million babies, that’s a good thing. My vote has to align with my view of God’s word — I should care for the baby in the womb.”

It’s a calculation that evangelicals frequently described making when they considered their options in the 2016 election.

But now, many are genuinely delighted by the Trump they’ve seen in office.

The economy is roaring. Trump makes mention of God at rallies and pays lip service to evangelicals. They praise his honesty, focusing not on falsehoods spoken but on his attempts to do all the things he said he would do in office.

“He’s forthright and honest — at his rallies, he talks about God,” said Joey Rogers, who wore a Trump hat while shopping at a gun show in Bradenton, Fla., last month. Rogers, a member of an evangelical church near Tampa, has attended televangelist Paula White’s church in Georgia a few times and said her affiliation with Trump reassures him that the president is a praying man.

Democrats think Christians are “wacky,” he said. He also bemoaned a degradation of American life brought on, Rogers said, by half a century of removing prayer from public schools and Bible verses from federal courthouses.

“All of our laws are based on the Ten Commandments,” he said. “I think that’s why the country is losing the values that we once had.”

During a Sunday in July when Trump spent the morning tweeting that four congresswomen of color — three of whom were born in the United States — should “go back” to the countries “from which they came,” many white evangelicals attending church in Florida said immigration is their top priority. They almost unanimously approved of Trump’s handling of the border.

“If you are coming to America and you are in one of our facilities being held, that’s on you,” said Andrea Owen, a retired police officer who spends most days babysitting her autistic great-nephew. “I’m not trying to be hateful because we’re all God’s people. But do it legally. . . . The places they’re housing them? Honestly, if they’re so uncomfortable, they shouldn’t have come here.”

Some evangelicals, like Julian Ketchum at Hope Community Church in King of Prussia, Pa., label themselves “values voters.” What they mean by values: abortion and gay rights, not traits like integrity and kindness. “There’s no way I can know those” attributes of a person’s character, Ketchum said, though he then said he picked Trump over Clinton in part because he found her dishonest.

And the allegations that Trump sexually assaulted numerous women are not a moral concern, many Christians say.

“I don’t see him as a rapist,” said Cheryl Gough, a preschool teacher at Bay Life Church in Brandon, Fla. “He can be not the nicest person, but I don’t see — I’m not calling her a liar. There’s just been too many allegations. Now you’re coming to the public about it?”

Evangelical views on gender roles also tend to put them at odds with the American mainstream: Most believe the Bible teaches that women ought to be submissive to men, who are in charge within the family.

Reed, who predicts Trump will capture as large a share of the evangelical vote in 2020 or even larger than in 2016, said a Democratic opponent who tries to chastise Trump for sexual harassment will only turn off these voters.

“Do not campaign on somebody’s personal shortcomings. History says voters are very forgiving. And they don’t like hearing it,” he said. “They’ve had moral shortcomings. They’ve had moral failings.”

The accusations of Trump’s shortcomings just keep coming. Opponents decry his attitude toward people of color, his approach to immigrants detained at the border, his answers to violence in American cities, and on and on.

But in Appleton, the Rev. Dennis Episcopo hasn’t felt the need as a religious leader to denounce any of it in front of his congregation, which includes more than 5,000 attendees on a typical Sunday. The megachurch that he has led for 22 years is almost entirely white and conservative, like the lakeside region where it is located.

Episcopo has not seen any behavior from Trump in the past three years that would prompt him to openly dissuade churchgoers from supporting this president.

“There could be something, where society really crosses the line on something, that I feel as a pastor I have to get up and say something,” he muses. “But it hasn’t happened yet.”

Comment:

This last statement by Rev. Dennis Episcopo…….

Just amazing! As a social progressive (unabashed liberal) and extreme fiscal conservative, I will never understand how true conservatives and unapologetic evangelicals can still support trump, and as a matter of fact, have only increased their unwavering allegiance.

There is no line, morally, ethically or otherwise that trump, his entire administration and his republi-con enablers in congress haven’t crossed. What exactly is that ‘something’ that would cause Episcopo, as a pastor, to get up and say something about???? First Degree murder with a dozen eye witnesses? Or maybe just some perceived blasphemy toward the Jesus Christ they pretend to follow.

And the daily diatribe spewed by fiscal conservatives (led by Wisconsin Senator Paul Ryan) about President Obama’s spending, used to dig America out of the fiscal crisis caused by the previous republi-con president, illicited not a single word about trump’s unwarranted tax cut for the richest 1% and prosperous corporations and his rampant disregard for runaway deficits.

These folks are void of common sense and the ability to reason. Critical thinking is as foreign to them as are beneficial immigrants. The only facts they respond to is when trump labels legitimate criticism and dissent as fake news.

Fortunately, this republi-con party will soon follow the dodo bird into oblivion; evangelicals are losing adherents faster than high fructose corn syrup, and the old white, confused, racist dimwits (Hillary’s deplorables) are dying off by the 10’s of thousands every month. Their prejudiced offspring are more and more inoculated to the bigoted bile passed to the next generation.

Women, the LGBTQ community, people of color and the latest bottom rung of immigrants are taking their rightful place in American society and will no longer be denied.

John Hanno, tarbabys.com

Trump’s speech on energy goes way off script!

Politico

Trump was supposed to give a speech on energy. He went way off script.

But the hour-long address was light on energy policy and heavy on stump speech material and off-script riffs, as Trump touched on everything from his love of trucks to his assessment of his potential 2020 rivals. The meandering speech came on a day when the president had already attacked a CNN anchor, endorsed a controversial World Series hero’s potential congressional bid and defended his parroting of a conspiracy theory concerning the apparent suicide of his onetime friend Jeffrey Epstein.

Here are some of Trump’s most off-key comments:

On the supposed benefits of natural gas over renewable energy: “When the wind stops blowing, it doesn’t make any difference does it? Unlike those big windmills that destroy everybody’s property values, kill all the birds. One day the environmentalists are going to tell us what’s going on with that. And then all of a sudden it stops. The wind and the televisions go off. And your wives and husbands say: ‘Darling, I want to watch Donald Trump on television tonight. But the wind stopped blowing and I can’t watch. There’s no electricity in the house, darling.’”

On his construction chops: “I was a good builder. I built good. I love building; in fact, I’m going to take a tour of the site.”

On doing some campaigning: “I’m going to speak to some of your union leaders to say, ‘I hope you’re going to support Trump, OK?’ And if they don’t, vote ‘em the hell out of office because they’re not doing their job — it’s true.

On his love of trucks: “I love cranes, I love trucks of all types. Even when I was a little boy at 4 years old, my mother would say, ‘You love trucks.’ I do, I always loved trucks, I still do. Nothing changes — sometimes you know you might become president, but nothing changes — I still love trucks. Especially when I look at the largest crane in the world, that’s very cool. You think I’ll get to operate it? We’ll put the media on it and I’ll give them a little ride, right?”

On pundits suggesting he might not leave office willingly: “Can you imagine if I got a fair press? I mean, we’re leading without it; can you imagine if these people treated me fairly? The election would be over. Have they ever called off an election before? Just said, ‘Look just let’s go, go on four more years.’ You want to really drive them crazy? Go to #ThirdTerm, #FourthTerm — you’ll drive them totally crazy.”

On what Trump perceives as a trade imbalance with Japan: “They send us thousands and thousands — millions of cars, we send them wheat. Wheat. That’s not a good deal. And they don’t even want our wheat. They do it because they want us to at least feel that we’re OK, you know, they do it to make us feel good.” This assertion is false.

On the price tag of the presidency: “This thing is costing me a fortune, being president. Somebody said, ‘Oh, he might have rented a room to a man from Saudi Arabia for $500.’ What about the $5 billion that I’ll lose — you know, it’s probably going to cost me, including, upside, downside, lawyers, because every day they sue me for something. These are the most litigious people. It’s probably costing me from $3 to $5 billion for the pleasure of being — and I couldn’t care less, I don’t care. You know if you’re wealthy, it doesn’t matter. I just want to do a great job.”

On his pledge to salvage manufacturing jobs: “You guys, I don’t know what the hell you’re going to do. You don’t want to make widgets, right? You don’t want to make — do you want to learn how to make a computer? A little tiny piece of stuff. … You put it with those big, beautiful hands of yours like … you’re going to take these big hands, going to take this little tiny part. You’re going to go home, ‘Alice this is a tough job.’ Nah, you want to make steel, and you want to dig coal — that’s what you want to do!”

On the number of members of the media at the event, at about 2:45 p.m.: “That’s a lot people back there for, like, an 11 o’clock speech. That’s a lot of people.”

On the Oscars: “Like the Academy Awards during the day, it used to be — you know the Academy Awards is on hard times now, you know that right? Nobody wants to watch it. You know why? Because they started taking us on, everyone got tired of it. It’s amazing. That used to be second after the Super Bowl, and then all of a sudden now it’s just another show because people got tired of people getting up and making fools of themselves and disrespecting the people in this room and the people that won the election in 2016.”

On attacking Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden, potential 2020 rivals: “I did it very early with Pocahontas, I should have probably waited. She’s staging a comeback on Sleepy Joe. I don’t know who’s going to win, but we’ll have to hit Pocahontas very hard again if she does win. But she’s staging a little bit of a comeback. What a group — Pocahontas and Sleepy Joe.”

On Mexico deploying soldiers to stem the flow of Central American migrants: “I want to thank Mexico, it’s incredible. We have close to 27,000, you think of that. We never had three — I think we had about 2½ soldiers, one was sitting down all the time. We had nobody.”

How Trump Forced Reversal on Mining Project EPA Scientists Warn Could Destroy Alaskan Salmon Ecosystem

Common Dreams

‘Gold Over Life, Literally’: How Trump Forced Reversal on Mining Project EPA Scientists Warn Could Destroy Alaskan Salmon Ecosystem

“This is one of the world’s most beautiful places, with a thriving salmon run, and now we’ll get some…gold.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer      August 10, 2019
A salmon leaping rapids in Alaska. (Photo: arctic-tern/Getty Images)

A salmon leaping rapids in Alaska. “I was dumbfounded,” said one EPA insider after Trump officials reversed the agency’s opposition to the copper and gold mining project in Bristol Bay that scientists warn will devastate the salmon and the overall ecosystem. “We were basically told we weren’t going to examine anything. We were told to get out of the way and just make it happen.” (Photo: arctic-tern/Getty Images)

“Gold over life, literally.”

“If that mine gets put in, it would … completely devastate our region. It would not only kill our resources, but it would kill us culturally.” —Gayla Hoseth, Curyung Tribal Council/Bristol Bay Native Association That was the succinct and critical reaction of Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein to reporting on Friday that President Donald Trump had personally intervened—after a meeting with Alaska’s Republican Governor Mike Dunleavy on Air Force One in June—to withdraw the Environmental Protection Agency’s opposition to a gold mining project in the state that the federal government’s own scientists have acknowledged would destroy native fisheries and undermine the state’s fragile ecosystems.

Based on reporting by CNN that only emerged Friday evening, the key developments happened weeks ago after Trump’s one-on-one meeting with Dunleavy—who has supported the copper and gold Pebble Mine project in Bristol Bay despite the opposition of conservationists, Indigenous groups, salmon fisheries experts, and others.

CNN reports:

In 2014, the project was halted because an EPA study found that it would cause “complete loss of fish habitat due to elimination, dewatering, and fragmentation of streams, wetlands, and other aquatic resources” in some areas of Bristol Bay. The agency invoked a rarely used provision of the Clean Water Act that works like a veto, effectively banning mining on the site.

“If that mine gets put in, it would … completely devastate our region,” Gayla Hoseth, second chief of the Curyung Tribal Council and a Bristol Bay Native Association director, told CNN. “It would not only kill our resources, but it would kill us culturally.”

When the internal announcement was made by Trump political appointees that the agency was dropping its opposition, which came one day after the Trump-Dunleavy meeting, sources told CNN it came as a “total shock” to some of the top EPA scientists who were planning to oppose the project on environmental grounds. Sources for the story, the news outlet noted, “asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.”

According to CNN:

Four EPA sources with knowledge of the decision told CNN that senior agency officials in Washington summoned scientists and other staffers to an internal videoconference on June 27, the day after the Trump-Dunleavy meeting, to inform them of the agency’s reversal. The details of that meeting are not on any official EPA calendar and have not previously been reported.

Those sources said the decision disregards the standard assessment process under the Clean Water Act, cutting scientists out of the process.

The EPA’s new position on the project is the latest development in a decade-long battle that has pitted environmentalists, Alaskan Natives and the fishing industry against pro-mining interests in Alaska.

Responding to Klein’s tweet, fellow author and activist Bill McKibben—long a colleague of hers at 350.org—expressed similar contempt.

“This is one of the world’s most beautiful places, with a thriving salmon run, and now we’ll get some…gold,” McKibben tweeted. Trump, he added, is “President Midas.”

After being told that the decision was made, one EPA inside told CNN, “I was dumbfounded. We were basically told we weren’t going to examine anything. We were told to get out of the way and just make it happen.”

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Washington couple dies in a murder-suicide over angst about medical expenses

USA Today

Ken Alltucker, USA TODAY       August 11, 2019

McConnell Greeted at Home by Protests, Pressure Over Gun Laws

McConnell Greeted at Home by Protests, Pressure Over Gun Laws

Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is starting his summer break under siege. Democrats are intensifying pressure on him to take up gun legislation, expletive-hurling protesters have shown up at his front door and his campaign generated social media outrage over a tweet.

It’s been a rough stretch for the Kentucky Republican, and the aftermath of two mass shootings in 24 hours last weekend guarantees he’ll remain under the spotlight. McConnell, who is up for re-election in 2020, must decide whether to step away from his rigid defense of gun-owner rights as he works with an unreliable partner in President Donald Trump, who is sending mixed signals about where he stands on the issue.

Senate Clears Two-Year Debt-Limit Extension For Trump To Sign

Mitch McConnell

The self-described “grim reaper” of liberal policy plans has stayed firmly in control in the GOP-led Senate by successfully shepherding a host of conservative judges through confirmation, staving off Democratic legislative initiatives and staying out of the line of fire from Trump. The gun issue, one of the most volatile in U.S. politics, will test his ability to maneuver between the Democrats and the president.

McConnell said Thursday that he and Trump spoke earlier in the day about the issue, and both agreed a bipartisan deal is needed and that “two items that for sure will be front and center” are background checks for gun buyers and encouraging state “red flag” laws intended to take firearms away from dangerous or mentally ill people.

“The urgency of this is not lost by any of us because we have seen entirely too many of these outrageous acts by deranged people,” he said in an interview on Louisville radio station WHAS. He added, though, that he won’t bring the Senate back early from an August recess to act.

The renewed emphasis on gun control comes as McConnell also is fending off Democratic attacks over his unwillingness to allow votes on legislation aimed at securing U.S. elections before 2020, in response to findings that Russia acted to swing the 2016 vote in Trump’s favor. MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough tagged McConnell as “Moscow Mitch,” kicking off the social media trend that’s been picked up by chanting protesters.

McConnell on Defensive

Days before lawmakers left Washington for a month-long recess, McConnell took to the Senate floor to angrily defend his record on Russia and to take on his detractors in an unusually impassioned extended address. He accused his critics of engaging in “modern-day McCarthyism.”

National scorn and Democratic attacks have followed him back home to Kentucky, where he is campaigning for a seventh term. At a political picnic in Fancy Farm, Kentucky, on Saturday, protesters chanted “Moscow Mitch” as he spoke. Other protesters appeared outside his home in Louisville this week, shouting expletives while he was inside recovering from a shoulder injury on Sunday.

His campaign also was derided by critics over a photo posted on McConnell’s Senate re-election twitter account shortly after the Saturday shootings at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, that left 22 people dead. The photo showed cardboard replicas of tombstones that depicted the Democrats’ “Green New Deal” on climate change, his Democratic opponent in 2020, Amy McGrath, and socialism.

McConnell’s remarks on Thursday provided the first hints of what he might consider. He told the Louisville radio station that restoring a lapsed ban on assault-style weapons probably would be discussed but that he questions how effective that would be. On background checks, he pointed to an earlier proposal by GOP Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia as a possible model. Their measure, blocked in the Senate in 2013 in part because McConnell’s opposed it, would eliminate loopholes for making background checks part of firearms transactions.

“McConnell is a cool customer and he’ll let the Senate work its will without taking up Democratic House-passed legislation,” said Ron Bonjean, a Republican strategist who was a top aide to past GOP leaders of both the House and Senate.

Trump has been inconsistent about where he is on the matter, hinting at a tough challenge this fall for McConnell when senators return to work.

Trump on Monday gave support to a proposal intended to take firearms away from the mentally ill as he called for bipartisan action following the shootings in Ohio and Texas that killed 31 people and wounded dozens of others. He has proposed nothing that would curtail the availability of firearms.

While the president has threatened to veto House-passed legislation on background checks, on Wednesday he told reporters on the White House lawn that he is in favor of some form of bolstered vetting for gun buyers.

Background Checks

“I’m looking to do background checks,” Trump said. “I think background checks are important.”

Trump has a track record of backing away from proposed new gun laws. Two weeks after last year’s massacre at a Parkland, Florida, high school, Trump convened an extraordinary meeting of top Democrats and Republicans. He indicated he would push through universal background checks and other measures that Democrats long have supported. He ended up backing away from universal checks in the face of opposition from the National Rifle Association.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer this week repeated his call for McConnell to bring the Senate back for an emergency session and take up legislation approved in February by the Democrat-led House that would require background checks on all gun purchases — including at gun shows and online.

Senate Leadership Hold News Conferences After Weekly Policy Luncheon

Chuck Schumer

“We’re saying to Leader McConnell, do the right thing,” Schumer said at a news conference where he was joined by GOP Representative Peter King of New York, who co-sponsored the measure.

Modest Changes

Last year a number of modest policy changes were enacted after the mass shootings in Florida and Las Vegas. The administration took action to ban so-called bump stocks that allow semi-automatic rifles to mimic fully automatic weapons. Congress also voted to improve background checks for gun purchases, spend more on school safety, and let the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study gun violence — ending what was in effect a 22-year ban that was supported by the NRA.

But they were small steps compared with the 1994 assault-weapons ban that lapsed in 2004.

The twin attacks in recent days seemed to renew momentum for action to address gun violence. Trump ally and Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham said Monday that he and Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, a gun-control advocate, will draft legislation to help states adopt so-called red flag laws intended to take firearms away from dangerous or mentally ill people.

A number of leading Republicans also called for action. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, a Republican, on Tuesday issued proposals including a “red flag” law, background checks for most firearm purchases, and tougher penalties for felons with guns and straw purchases.

In the Senate, some senior Republicans called for action on “red flag” legislation, including several members of McConnell’s leadership team. That includes Senator John Thune of South Dakota and Senator Todd Young of Indiana.

‘Multiple Problems’

“Clearly we have multiple problems in this country – problems of hate, social alienation, and the devaluing of human life – and we’re going to have to work together as a nation to address these challenges,” Young said in a statement.

But there were few calls for enhanced background checks, with the exception of two GOP senators: Toomey and Susan Collins of Maine.

Democrats are keeping the pressure on.

Representative Tim Ryan, an Ohio Democrat who’s among the crowded field of candidates seeking the party’s 2020 presidential nomination, said Thursday he’d start a caravan from Niles, Ohio, to McConnell’s home in Kentucky to demand action on gun-safety bills.

“People say ‘Why is it different now?’ I just think this has all accumulated,” Ryan said during an interview Thursday with CNN. “You go back: it’s Parkland; it’s Sandy Hook; it’s Columbine. It’s all of these things over the past 20 years.”

As McConnell navigates the matter, there is some prospect that the pressure to act will be reduced in the weeks before Congress returns to work, said Republican strategist Whit Ayres. Passage of a few weeks means advocates could “lose the momentum of the moment,” he said.

“I am hesitant to make any predictions in the aftermath of the latest tragedy, given the fact that past tragedies have raised the possibility of changes in our laws that have never come to fruition,” Ayres said. Demand for legislation is clearly growing, but he said it will take “an alignment of the planets to get something significant changed given the controversy over any sort of laws affecting guns.”