Conan O’Brien’s Response to Las Vegas Shooting

Occupy Democrats

Conan O’Brien’s Response to Las Vegas Shooting

Conan's Emotional Response to the Las Vegas Terror Attack

Conan just delivered this and it is ABSOLUTELY perfect!Shared by Occupy Democrats; like our page for more!

Posted by Occupy Democrats on Monday, October 2, 2017

Make America Great Again-Enact Gun Reform!

Occupy Democrats

Colbert Pleads with Trump: DO Something About Guns!

WHOA! Stephen Colbert just went there!Shared by Occupy Democrats; like our page for more!

Posted by Occupy Democrats on Monday, October 2, 2017

America’s Best Christian

Mrs. Betty Bowers. America’s Best Christian

The Killing Made in Killing

Remember the day after 9/11, when politicians scolded us, “Now isn’t the time to talk about terrorism”? Yeah, I don’t either.

Posted by Mrs. Betty Bowers, America's Best Christian on Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The American Impulse to Equate Guns With Freedom and Masculinity With Violence Is Killing Us

The Nation

The American Impulse to Equate Guns With Freedom and Masculinity With Violence Is Killing Us

And Trump is exactly the wrong leader for this reality.

By Joan Walsh    October 2, 2017

https://www.thenation.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Las-Vegas-Shooting-rtr-img.jpg?scale=896&compress=80People wait in a medical staging area after the mass shooting in Las Vegas in the early hours of October 2, 2017. (Reuters via Las Vegas Sun / Steve Marcus)

On Sunday morning, the president of the United States humiliated his secretary of state, derided diplomacy as “wasting time,” mocked North Korea’s national leader as “Little Rocket Man,” and renewed his macho threat to “do what needs to be done” to thwart North Korea’s nuclear program—at the UN last month he said he might “need” to “destroy” the country. As always, analysts struggled to make sense of Trump’s tweets—geopolitically, psychologically—but the conclusion seemed inescapable that he is itching for a military conflict with a nuclear-armed adversary.

On Sunday night, a 64-year-old retiree by the name of Stephen Paddock took at least 10 rifles, some of them semi-automatic or automatic weapons, to the 32nd floor of the gilded Mandalay Bay resort casino, and gunned down hundreds of people, killing at least 50, in the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. Paddock shot his prey from up high and watched them scatter, like ants, like animals. There is no connection between Trump’s threat and Paddock’s massacre, except a profound lack of empathy, a toxic male willingness to indulge grievances (we don’t yet know Paddock’s, but we soon will) with violence, and an obsession with the display of absolute power.

Maybe it’s because I went to bed fearing a war, even a nuclear conflict, with North Korea, and woke up to random bloody gun terror at a country-music concert in Las Vegas that I see the two tragedies as entwined. There is something deeply wrong with the American male identification of guns as a symbol of freedom. We need to translate that correctly: By this definition, it is the capacity for brutal violence that is also a symbol, maybe even a prerequisite, of freedom. Of almost strictly male freedom, we must emphasize. This set of values wasn’t invented by the madman in the White House; he is just a symptom of a country and an electorate that value guns over children’s lives. On social media today I saw a heartbreaking impotence among many pundits and political activists, repeatedly expressed this way: If we didn’t do something to regulate guns, especially automatic weapons, after the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre—in which 20 first-graders and six school staffers were murdered—we’ll never do anything. I don’t share that point of view, but I understand it.

Once again, the National Rifle Association has blood on its hands. At one time a respectable organization of gun owners promoting proper gun use and gun safety, three decades ago the NRA began to turn itself into a trade association for big gun manufacturers, and a purveyor of canny right-wing paranoia designed to spur gun sales. In the 1990s, as right-wing anti-government zealots began a backlash against what they perceived as a Democratic administration intent on taking their guns and their freedom, the NRA channeled that paranoia. Even after the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995 by government-hating extremists, NRA head Wayne La Pierre was describing Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms agents as “jackbooted government thugs” in a fundraising letter. Guns went from being something used to hunt or—perhaps, in a rare event—to protect oneself and one’s family, to being a symbol of individual sovereignty and freedom from control of government. The Obama administration was a great gift to the NRA; gun and bullet purchases soared after the election of our first black president. Nonetheless, the NRA spent $30 million to elect Trump, who spoke at its national convention and praised LaPierre as a patriot.

Trump repaid the NRA’s investment by signing a bill that lifted Obama-era limits on gun sales to the mentally ill. Yet, with the departure of the Obama administration, gun sales have sagged; the first black president is no longer around to take your guns, and the NRA-loving Trump is in the White House, so maybe it’s safe to stop hoarding guns? Not so fast, said the NRA. In a despicable propaganda video earlier this year, NRA cheerleader Dana Loesch spun a lurid tale of Black Lives Matters protesters and Women’s Marchers as the latest threat to guns and, yes, freedom. Hollywood liberals, the fake-news media, as well as an ex-president (you know whom they mean) are painting Trump as an illegitimate “Hitler.” Only the NRA—and, yes, more guns—can protect your freedom.

On Monday morning, Trump again repaid the NRA’s $30 million investment with a pathetically passive statement that described the Las Vegas massacre as though it were a natural disaster, never once mentioning the weapons of hell that caused it. He called it “an act of pure evil,” extolled the bravery of police and first responders, and made appeals for love, prayers, and unity. He displayed his trademark lack of empathy about the victims’ families: “We cannot fathom their pain or imagine their loss.” What a strange thing to say: Many of us can, and if we can’t, it’s our human responsibility to try, to bear witness. If we really can’t fathom their pain or loss, we don’t have to do anything about it.

Sadly, we are unlikely to do anything about it. In the wake of the murders, gun stocks are soaring, anticipating a rise in gun sales as the result of a possible move to restrict firearms such as used to be routine after a bloody spree like this one. I don’t think the gun industry has much to worry about. I hope to be proven wrong. Nevada has among the most lax gun laws in the country, with no limits on the number of firearms one can own, no requirement of registration, no limits on automatic weapons. The dead suspect’s brother, Eric Paddock, told reporters: “Find out who sold him the machine gun!” Will any Nevada lawmaker be brave enough to make that an issue?

This morning, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that Trump still planned to visit Puerto Rico this week. That’s good—there’s plenty he could do to help the storm-ravaged island. One easy helpful move would be to shut down his Twitter attacks on San Juan Mayor Carmen Cruz and on the people of Puerto Rico as lazy. With reports over the weekend that the commonwealth’s morgues are filling up, there may well have been more than 50 deaths last night there. But their slow-motion tragedy has been nearly blasted out of the news by this cruel assault on people Trump more easily sees as real Americans.

President Obama used to use these occasions, which hit him all too frequently in his eight years, to search for ways to prevent future tragedies, usually ideas for gun-safety legislation and mental-health funding. In his brief remarks Monday, Trump did nothing of the kind. He seemed to warn against “searching for some kind of meaning; the answers do not come easy.” I preferred the response to the massacre that came from Senator Chris Murphy, who represents Newtown, Connecticut: “It’s time for Congress to get off its ass and do something.”

We’ll see, but I’m not optimistic. The president rode a wave of white male paranoia and perceived lost power to the White House; the GOP has stoked those emotions for 50 years. It’s hard to imagine this president, or this Congress, begin to unravel the connections they’ve woven between masculinity, power, guns, and violence. The best short-term outcome I can see? Trump may be too busy to tweet insults and up the likelihood of war with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.

Joan Walsh, The Nation’s national-affairs correspondent, is the author of What’s the Matter With White People? Finding Our Way in the Next America.

If Newtown Wasn’t Enough, Why Would Las Vegas Be Enough?

Esquire

If Newtown Wasn’t Enough, Why Would Las Vegas Be Enough?

Our leaders are afraid to tolerate limits on Second Amendment “freedoms.”

https://hips.hearstapps.com/hmg-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/images/gettyimages-856495668-1506956095.jpg?crop=1.00xw:1.00xh;0,0&resize=768:*Getty

By Charles P. Pierce     October 2, 2017  

On July 4, 1854, William Lloyd Garrison, the abolitionist firebrand, burned a copy of the Constitution of the United States of America at a gathering of anti-slavery activists in Framingham Grove in Massachusetts. Garrison called the document, “a covenant with death, and an agreement with hell.” Almost 100 years later, Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, writing in dissent in the case of Terminiello v. City of Chicago, opined rather famously:

“The choice is not between order and liberty. It is between liberty with order and anarchy without either. There is danger that, if the court does not temper its doctrinaire logic with a little practical wisdom, it will convert the constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide pact.”

Both of these men have been proven wrong, most recently by the events Sunday night in Las Vegas, when a 64-year old man named Stephen Paddock opened fire on a crowd of 22,000 people gathered for a country music concert. At this writing on Monday morning, 50 people were dead and several hundred wounded. (Editor’s note: As of 11:42 a.m., 58 people are dead and 515 wounded.) The number of the dead almost assuredly will rise. This makes Paddock’s unfortunate exercise of his Second Amendment freedoms the deadliest mass shooting in history. This makes Paddock’s unfortunate exercise of his Second Amendment freedoms the 273rd mass shooting in the United States this year.

https://hips.hearstapps.com/hmg-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/images/gettyimages-856490308-1506956019.jpg?crop=1xw:1xh;center,top&resize=768:*Getty

Paddock’s sniper’s perch was on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay casino and hotel. His targets of opportunity were penned into a parking lot a few blocks distant. This literally was like shooting fish in a barrel. Paddock’s weapon of choice was a military-style assault weapon. When police finally broke into Paddock’s room, they found 10 other rifles. Paddock came well-prepared to exercise his Second Amendment freedoms on a penned-in crowd of Jason Aldean fans. And he did.

Ever since Adam Lanza opened fire five years ago at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, I have been struck by the argument implicit in all the rhetoric directed at defending this country’s lubriciously insane love of its firearms. It caught fire almost immediately. Wayne LaPierre, the spokesman for the National Rifle Association, the pre-eminent lobbying organization for weapons manufacturers, said this in the immediate aftermath of Lanza’s unfortunate exercise of his Second Amendment freedoms:

“The truth is that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters — people so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can possibly ever comprehend them. They walk among us every day. And does anybody really believe that the next Adam Lanza isn’t planning his attack on a school he’s already identified at this very moment?”

“And throughout it all, too many in our national media … their corporate owners … and their stockholders … act as silent enablers, if not complicit co-conspirators. Rather than face their own moral failings, the media demonize lawful gun owners, amplify their cries for more laws and fill the national debate with misinformation and dishonest thinking that only delay meaningful action and all but guarantee that the next atrocity is only a news cycle away. The media call semi-automatic firearms “machine guns” — they claim these civilian semi-automatic firearms are used by the military, and they tell us that the .223 round is one of the most powerful rifle calibers … when all of these claims are factually untrue. They don’t know what they’re talking about!”

That spring, at CPAC, the annual convention of conservative activists, LaPierre expanded on his original argument:

“The Second Amendment is not just words on parchment. It’s not some frivolous suggestion from our Founding Fathers to be interpreted by whim. It lies at the heart of what this country was founded upon. Our Founding Fathers knew that without Second Amendment freedom, all of our freedoms could be in jeopardy. Our individual liberty is the very essence of America. It is what makes America unique. If you aren’t free to protect yourself — when government puts its thumb on that freedom — then you aren’t free at all.”

Subsequent events have proven that LaPierre had the right of things and that William Lloyd Garrison and Robert Jackson were wrong. The Constitution is not a pact with the devil, nor is it a suicide pact. It is a formalized, legalistic ritual of blood sacrifice. There are some things that we as a society, alas, must tolerate in order to stay true to our founding beliefs and to remain free. Schoolchildren shot to pieces is one of those things. The massacre of country music fans is another one of those things, the 273rd blood sacrifice to that one provision of the Constitution this year.

The Constitution is not a pact with the devil, nor is it a suicide pact. It is a formalized, legalistic ritual of blood sacrifice.

We hear serious arguments about all the other parts of the Bill of Rights: that the First Amendment has limits on what T-shirts high-school students (“Bong Hits 4 Jesus!”) can wear; that the Fourth Amendment has limits that allow wiretaps without warrants; that the Fifth Amendment has limits that allow drug-testing without cause; that the Sixth Amendment has limits that allows the states to poison convicts to death. But only with the Second Amendment do we hear the argument that the only tolerable limit on its exercise is that there are no limits. Only with the Second Amendment do we hear that the price of freedom is the occasional Stephen Paddock, locked away in his own madness on the 32nd floor of a luxury hotel and casino, deciding coolly whose brains he will blow out next a few blocks away in the 273rd such unfortunate exercise of Second Amendment rights this year.

On January 20, 2017, the newly inaugurated president* of the United States addressed the nation for the first time. He explained to a somewhat baffled nation the exact nature of the hellspout in which they had been living for the previous eight years:

“These are just and reasonable demands of righteous people and a righteous public, but for too many of our citizens a different reality exists. Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities, rusted out factories, scattered like tombstones across the across the landscape of our nation, an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge, and the crime, and the gangs, and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential. This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”

This came as something of a shock to most people, but not to those of us who remembered Wayne LaPierre’s speech to CPAC two years earlier. (This was a year after he’d explained to that same audience that Adam Lanza’s unfortunate exercise of his Second Amendment rights was just part of the price of freedom in this country.) LaPierre had walked the same dystopian landscape more than two years before the new president* had:

“Almost everywhere you look, something has gone wrong. You know it in your heart. You feel it in your gut. Something in our country has gone wrong…All across America, people come up to me and they say, ‘Wayne? I’ve never been worried about this country until now.’ They say it not in anger, but with sadness in their eyes…We fear for the safety of our families. That’s why neighborhood streets that once were filled with bicycles and skateboards and laughter in the air, now sit empty and silent.”

“We trust what we know in our hearts to be right,” he said. “We trust our freedom. In this uncertain world, surrounded by lies and corruption everywhere you look, there is no greater freedom than the right to survive and protect our families with all the rifles, shotguns and handguns we want. We know, in the world that surrounds us, there are terrorists and there are home invaders, drug cartels, carjackers, knockout gamers and rapers, and haters and campus killers, and airport killers, shopping mall killers, and killers who scheme to destroy our country with massive storms of violence against our power grids, or vicious waves of chemicals or disease that could collapse our society that sustains us all.”

Blood sacrifices are born of the fear of unseen power and invisible threat. Carve up a bull, and Zeus won’t send a thunderbolt up your ass. Cut out someone’s heart, and Tlaloc will make it rain to provide a bountiful harvest. Take your son up on a mountaintop, tie him to an altar, and unsheath your knife, hoping in your heart that Jehovah will step in and stop the whole business. Buy a gun. Buy two. Buy 10, and the monsters and knockout gamers and carjackers from the silent playgrounds will be held at bay.

https://hips.hearstapps.com/hmg-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/images/gettyimages-856520446mod-1506952891.jpg?crop=1xw:1xh;center,top&resize=768:*Getty

Christians believe that the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary obviated forever the need for further blood sacrifice. However, not even that could obviate or eliminate the entirely secular desire for blood sacrifice within a society perceived to have gone astray. Christians pray to the crucified Christ. Christians also push the plungers that send the poisons into the veins of prisoners. Christians believe that atonement comes through the intercession of Jesus. Christians also believe that atonement comes from smart bombs and predator drones. The fear of unseen power and invisible threat is more than is thought of in your theologies, Horatio.

The president* and Wayne LaPierre together created an America of the mind in which blood sacrifice is the highest form of patriotism.

They have taken the legitimate right of all people to self-defense and twisted it, for their own purposes, into a demand for ritual atonement on the part of an imaginary universe filled with nothing but bogeymen. For the president*, this helped him attain the office he now holds. For LaPierre, it made the people for whom he was the frontman wealthier than they ever were before.

So now, here we sit, after another unfortunate exercise of Second Amendment freedoms, the 273rd of this year and the worst one of modern times, another opportunity for presidential leadership, the fourth one of those in a month. Storms are breaking everywhere, the carnage in America suddenly is very real, and blood sacrifices are lying all over a parking lot in Las Vegas.

If Newtown wasn’t enough, how can Las Vegas be enough? And if Las Vegas isn’t enough, how can anything be enough?

Thoughts and prayers are not enough. “Warm condolences,” as dispatched by a president* who never is at a loss for the wrong word or the bizarre reaction, are not enough. Arcane debates about whether or not Stephen Paddock used an automatic or a semi-automatic weapon for his unfortunate exercise of his Second Amendment freedoms are not enough. Absurd debates over whether or not his weapon of choice was truly “military-style” are not enough. Being sickened is not enough. Being saddened is not enough. The word “tragedy” is not enough.

https://hips.hearstapps.com/hmg-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/images/ap-17275351820637mod-1506956046.jpg?crop=1xw:1xh;center,top&resize=768:*Associated Press

All of these things are not enough because Newtown wasn’t enough. And, if Newtown wasn’t enough, how can Las Vegas be enough? And if Las Vegas isn’t enough, how can anything be enough?

If Newtown wasn’t enough, how can Las Vegas be enough?

We have become a nation that accepts the blood sacrifice of our children as an ineffable part of our constitutional order, one of those things you have to tolerate, like pornography and the occasional acquittal of an unpopular defendant, in order to live in a free society. Better that one Stephen Paddock go free than a hundred law-abiding gun owners wait a week before buying an Uzi. This is a vision of the nation that has been sold to us by a generation of politicians who talk brave and act gutless, and by the carny shills in the employ of the industries of death. Better that one Stephen Paddock go free than a hundred law-abiding gun owners wait a week before buying an Uzi. We are all walking blood sacrifices waiting to happen.

Disgust isn’t enough.

Sorrow isn’t enough.

Nothing is enough because, if Newtown wasn’t enough, then how can Las Vegas be enough? And if Las Vegas isn’t enough, then how can anything be enough?

God help us all.

UPDATE—This happened the same day as the events in Las Vegas. From the Lawrence Journal-World:

“At the scene, officers encountered a large crowd and several victims suffering from gunshot wounds, Smith said in the release. Five victims have been identified from the shooting, and three sustained fatal injuries: 22-year-old Leah Elizabeth Brown, of Shawnee, 20-year-old Colwin Lynn Henderson, of Topeka, and 24-year-old Tremel Dupree Dean, of Topeka. Two other victims were being treated at area hospitals for nonlife-threatening injuries, Smith said. Brixius said just before 3 a.m. that no one had been detained in the shooting and he could not say whether more than one suspect was involved. Police did say in a tweet late Sunday that the shooting was not a drive-by. Crime scene tape was stretched across storefronts in the 1000 block of Massachusetts Street. In front of Aladdin Cafe, 1021 Massachusetts St., a pool of blood was visible.”

Unfortunate exercises of Second Amendment freedoms will undoubtedly continue. (h/t Erik at LG&M)

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to clarify that the Lawrence, Kansas, shooting took place before the Las Vegas shooting, not after.

Respond to this post on the Esquire Politics Facebook page.

Dallas Sportscaster Dale Hansen Explains what Trump Doesn’t Understand

Occupy Democrats

Dale Hansen on NFL protests

WOW. Watch these 3 minutes from Dallas sportscaster Dale Hansen talking about what Trump doesn't understand about the national anthem and the right to protest. Compare this to any right-wing media whining and that's why this is one to remember.

Posted by Media Matters for America on Monday, September 25, 2017

Trump Evangelical Adviser: NFL Kneelers Are Lucky They Aren’t ‘Shot In The Head’

HuffPost

Trump Evangelical Adviser: NFL Kneelers Are Lucky They Aren’t ‘Shot In The Head’

“I think what these players are doing is absolutely wrong,” says Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress.

By Antonia Blumberg   September 25, 2017

 https://img.huffingtonpost.com/asset/59c973921900004e5d565925.png?cache=z2rbpwycxk&ops=scalefit_630_noupscaleFox News : Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress is among President Donald Trump’s top evangelical advisers. He says the players are lucky they don’t live in a country like North Korea.

A conservative pastor on President Donald Trump’s informal evangelical advisory council thinks NFL players who kneel during the national anthem to highlight racism should “be thanking God” they haven’t been “shot in the head.”

Southern Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress, who leads the First Baptist Church in Dallas, made the comments during a “Fox & Friends” segment Monday on Fox News amid debate over the athletes’ protests.

“I think what these players are doing is absolutely wrong,” Jeffress said. “These players ought to be thanking God that they live in a country where they’re not only free to earn millions of dollars every year, but they’re also free from the worry of being shot in the head for taking a knee like they would be if they were in North Korea.”

Jeffress referenced North Korea, known for suppressing dissent and operating political prison camps, on the same day the Asian country’s foreign minister accused Trump of declaring war. His comments come several weeks after the pastor claimed God had given the U.S. president “full power” to launch an attack on North Korea.

Jeffress also claimed the athletes would be executed for protesting in a country known for its human rights abuses, apparently arguing that they should celebrate their freedom of speech by remaining silent.

In a response to a request for clarification, the pastor said: “I stand by my comments as taken within their full context.”

He continued:

It is an absolute fact that in many countries of the world professional athletes would be imprisoned ― or worse ― for publicly opposing their nation’s anthem or disrespecting their national leaders. If any member of the press doubts this fact, then I would encourage them to take a trip to North Korea themselves, publicly shame Kim Jong Un and then see what happens. All of us should thank God every day that we live in a country where we do not have to fear government persecution for expressing our beliefs.

In his comments on “Fox & Friends,” Jeffress defended Trump, who encouraged football fans to boycott the NFL if the league does not “fire or suspend” the protesting athletes.

“I think tens of millions of Americans agree with President Trump when he says they ought to be called out for this,” the pastor said. “I know this president. President Trump is not a racist. For President Trump this is not about race. It’s about respect of country.”

The president, who has a long history of sharing and endorsing racist comments, followed up his call for a boycott in a tweet on Monday saying: “The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!”

But for athletes who choose to kneel, race isn’t secondary to their protest.

“We will not stand for the injustice that has plagued people of color in this country,” wrote the Seattle Seahawks team, who stayed off the field during the national anthem Sunday. “Out of love for our country and in honor of the sacrifices made on our behalf, we unite to oppose those that would deny our most basic freedoms. We remain committed in continuing to work towards equality and justice for all.”

Jeffress also minimized the athletes’ statement on racism by comparing the “social injustice” of systematic racism to Christian bakers being forced to prepare cakes for same-sex weddings.

“They didn’t respond by calling then-President Obama a bum,” said Jeffress, who once claimed the country’s first black president was “paving the way for the Antichrist.”

America’s Best Christian

America’s Best Christian

Mrs. Betty Bowers, America’s Best Christian

September 21, 2017

Speak English? YOU FIRST!

Hark! NEW VIDEO: Almost 20 Words & Expressions You Need to Humanely Euthanize Now. Glory!

Posted by Mrs. Betty Bowers, America's Best Christian on Thursday, September 21, 2017

The bait and switch at the heart of the new Obamacare repeal bill

Vox

The bait and switch at the heart of the new Obamacare repeal bill

Graham-Cassidy is being sold as giving states flexibility. But it hugely cuts health care spending.

by Andrew Prokop       September 20, 2017

https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/5wYeDYZkLMzBuh6BUPQmL3gR3R4=/0x0:3000x1959/1520x1013/filters:focal(1910x921:2390x1401)/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/56760137/GettyImages_473996208.0.jpg

As Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) try to wrangle Senate votes for their Obamacare repeal bill before September 30, they’re relying on one argument most of all: Their bill, they say, will give much more flexibility to individual states to figure out how to make health care work.

Cassidy and Graham like to emphasize that their bill would roll back Obamacare’s spending and regulations and would instead simply send states money in a block grant. States, they say, would be free to figure out how to use that block grant money however they see fit — they’d be able to experiment with their own approaches. Even moderate Republicans are likely tempted by an argument like that.

Here’s the catch: The bill doesn’t just move around Obamacare’s spending. It severely cuts federal spending on health care overall — both for Obamacare and for traditional Medicaid. And since covering people costs money, the result will inevitably be that millions of people will lose coverage.

The Graham-Cassidy bill is essentially a Trojan horse for these dramatic cuts on health spending that Republican leaders have been pushing all along. Three features of the bill in particular make this clear:

1) The bill dramatically cuts and restructures traditional Medicaid. Like previous Obamacare repeal bills Republicans have put forward, Graham-Cassidy goes far beyond just rolling back Obamacare, to instead restructure the finances of the Medicaid program as a whole.

It does this by converting Medicaid to a “per capita cap” system, in which the federal government would no longer commit to open-ended funding to help states afford enrollees’ health bills. Instead of matching the money states spend on Medicaid enrollees, the federal government would provide a set amount of money to states to spend on recipients.

Using numbers from previous Congressional Budget Office scores, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that this proposal would cut about $175 billion from traditional Medicaid between 2020 and 2026. Experts argue that per capita caps also give states incentives to kick more expensive patients off Medicaid or roll back coverage.

2) In turning Obamacare’s spending into a block grant, Cassidy and Graham aren’t just redistributing it — they’re reducing it: In theory, it would be possible to restructure Obamacare’s existing spending into block grants for states — and even to distribute it differently among states — without cutting spending overall.

But that’s not what Graham-Cassidy does. Per CBPP’s analysis, the way the bill’s block grant formula is designed, it would dole out “$239 billion less between 2020 and 2026 than projected federal spending for the Medicaid expansion and marketplace subsidies under current law.”

Cassidy has tried to dismiss the CBPP numbers as coming from a liberal think tank. But since the CBO hasn’t released its analysis yet — and won’t have time to before Senate Republicans’ September 30 deadline — these are the outside numbers we have to work with.

3) The new block grant ends entirely after 2026, and there is nothing to replace it afterward. Yes, the vaunted block grants that Graham and Cassidy say will give states such flexibility have a built-in expiration date. They have claimed that this is because of the Senate’s budget reconciliation rules, though it’s not clear how or whether that’s true.

The practical effect, though, would be to set up a major fight several years down the road about whether these block grants should be continued at all, or whether they should be reduced even further. And since the default outcome if no action is taken is for the block grants to vanish, conservatives who want even deeper spending cuts will have the advantage in this showdown.

We can see the CBPP’s estimated impact of these three provisions together in the below chart:

https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/sFdueD8etFN5XjXFEemtVF3fEN4=/1200x0/filters:no_upscale()/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/9283029/Screen_Shot_2017_09_19_at_4.51.10_PM.png

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

From 2020 to 2026, there will be cuts from the transformation of Obamacare funding into a smaller block grant (in dark red) and the restructuring of traditional Medicaid (in pale red). Then in 2027, the block grants disappear entirely, meaning enormous cuts unless Congress manages to agree on a deal to continue them.

So the argument about giving states “flexibility” leaves out a whole lot. Less money would be available to states overall in those newly flexible block grants, and on top of that, traditional Medicaid would be cut — which clearly points toward millions losing coverage overall. And that’s even before the whole system is set to fall off a cliff in 2027.

With all this in mind, Graham-Cassidy looks a whole lot like all the previous GOP Obamacare repeal bills this year. At its core, it’s basically another way to cut hundreds of billions in federal health spending and toss millions off coverage.

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Ripped Teen Sex Slaves From Schools and Forced Citizens to Watch Executions, Defector Says

Newsweek

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Ripped Teen Sex Slaves From Schools and Forced Citizens to Watch Executions, Defector Says

Greg Price, Newsweek           September 21, 2017

https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/gJOiNGWeqeE_ESCE8pKyXQ--/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjtzbT0xO3c9ODAw/http://media.zenfs.com/en-GB/homerun/newsweek_europe_news_328/3f3ed6e1328f9790dc20ed645fa9837a

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Ripped Teen Sex Slaves From Schools and Forced Citizens to Watch Executions, Defector Says

Kim Jong Un’s depravity and abuses of power have no bounds, extending even to North Korea’s upper echelon. The North’s authoritarian regime snatches teenagers out of school to be his sex slaves, forces members of the country’s upper class to watch executions and Kim is perfectly content to eat expensive lunches while his people subsist on grass, a defector told the Daily Mirror this week.

In order to protect the defector, The Mirror did not publish her real name nor the names of her family members, but refers to her as Hee Yeon Lim and states she’s a 26 year old whose father was a senior officer in Kim’s regime. Hee spoke to the British news outlet in a secret location in Seoul, South Korea days after Kim and his regime conducted its sixth nuclear test this month.

Hee claimed supreme leader Kim forces those in the walled-off country’s “upper-class elite” to watch executions, and said she was witness to a mass execution of 11 musicians who were put to death by an anti-aircraft gun shortly after Kim took over for his late father Kim Jong Il in 2011. The musicians were killed over allegedly making a pornographic video, and Hee said 10,000 people witnessed their execution.

Though she was considered privileged compared to millions of the North’s other citizens, Hee was standing 200 feet away from the kill site.

“We were ordered to leave our classes by security men and made to travel to the Military Academy in Pyongyang,” Hee told The Mirror. “There is a sports ground there, a kind of stadium.

“The musicians were brought out, tied up, hooded and apparently gagged, so they could not make a noise, not beg for mercy or even scream,” she said. “What I saw that day made me sick in my stomach. They were lashed to the end of anti-aircraft guns.”

The musicians’ bodies “disappeared” and then tanks ran over their remains “repeatedly,” Hee said.

Over the years, and well before Kim Jong Un came to power around 2011, defectors have managed to escape the North’s violent regime and tell their stories.

Earlier this month, 30-year-old Hak Min recounted the brainwashing tactics used to strike fear into citizens to USA Today. He’s now in Seoul running an iPhone repair shop after defecting in 2013, and instead of Kim’s picture hanging in his shop, he’s put up one of Apple founder Steve Jobs, whose biography has inspired him.

“When they brainwash students in North Korea they say: ‘We can read your words, actions and thoughts,’” Hak said. “If you have bad thoughts about the Kim family they will know. But in the book, Jobs said: Do not let others’ thoughts rule over you. Do what you want. Be yourself.”

Defectors have provided significant information about Kim’s regime and helped shed light on the human rights atrocities occurring in the North, but their numbers slipped recently. This week, South Korea reported a recent 12.7 percent decrease in the number of defectors leaving the North to the South between January and August of this year, with 780 fleeing compared to 1,417 throughout 2016.