Vive la Resistance! Jamais de Remise!

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The past two weeks since Election Day have been a stunning demonstration about what is the current status of the States of America. Since the election of the GOP nominee to the office of President, there has been turmoil of an unprecedented level, mostly against the fascist that was voted in. An examination of these issues easily shows that, while you might not have been a racist that voted for the GOP nominee, you accepted his racism and others started acting on it.

In New York City, the rise in “hate crimes” (crimes perpetrated because of someone’s race, religion or sexual persuasion) has caused Governor Andrew Cuomo to create a special police unit in the NYPD to counteract such incidences. The Southern Poverty Law Center estimates that there have been more than 700 instances of attacks following the election of the race-baiting fascist that is the GOP nominee. That breaks down to more than 50 per day, ranging from simple graffiti to whack jobs ranting in a Starbucks to HIGH SCHOOL KIDS chanting “Build that wall!” at Hispanic sports opponents or promoting “white power” at THEIR OWN CLASSMATES. There are also reports of supporters of the GOP nominee being attacked, but far fewer than the racist stances taken by many of those same supporters.

And what has the GOP nominee said about these things? Next to nothing other than two words spit in a 60 Minutes interview to “stop it.”

So, where does this come from, pray tell? Could it be the racial stance taken by the GOP nominee, who opened with calling Mexicans rapists and drug dealers and upped the ante from there? To calling for a registry of Muslims in the States of America (I’m sure there are plenty of Jewish people who shudder at that suggestion)? To citing the “influence” of Jewish people in “banking and the media” and suggesting that they are a cabal that is stealing from the poor, poor “white man?” That for six years decried President Barack Obama as a “Muslim” who wasn’t a citizen of the States of America before, in a 15-second offhand remark, rebuking those accusations and thinking he ushered it away? Yes, you can firmly lay it at the door of the ignoramus that was voted in on Election Day by a MINORITY of the people under the auspices of eradicating “political correctness.”

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To this point, those that supported and voted for the GOP nominee (and to you, I have but one statement – you might not be racist, but you’ve demonstrated that racist statements, thoughts and ideas aren’t a deal-breaker for you) have come out with the “well, he’s our President and his success is our success” statement as a means of quieting the revolt growing in the MAJORITY of those who didn’t vote for him. Yes, you mean as in how well Obama was received upon his first election in 2008 to the Presidency? The insults yelled during the STATE OF THE UNION speech at him? The blatant racism that ran rampant for eight years, including questioning his birthright? And don’t even try to say, “Two wrongs don’t make it right,” because in this goddamn case, it does. If you offered no quarter over the past eight years, expect none to be given.

Another dubious argument by those who voted for the GOP nominee is “Let’s see what he does, he’s not even in office yet.” And you know what, you’re right…he isn’t. In adding anacondas, piranha and more alligators to that “swamp” he boasted he could drain, you don’t need to see much more.

To begin with, the man who will sit at his right hand, former Breitbart Chief Executive Officer Steve Bannon, is at best an alleged wife-beating opportunistic buffoon and at worst taking cues from the Joseph Goebbels/Adolph Hitler playbook (another thing…fuck Godwin’s Law when talking about the cretinous GOP nominee). Through Breitbart, Bannon promoted the Neo-Nazi (we’re not calling it “alt-right” here, we’re calling it what it is) movement with their version of the “news.” They’ve also gone into race-baiting, misogyny and gay-bashing under Bannon’s watch.

SiriusXM Broadcasts New Hampshire Primary Coverage Live From Iconic Red Arrow Diner - Day 1

Then there’s his choice of Kris Kobach, the Secretary of State in Kansas (a state which is barely able to function after the destruction by Governor Sam Brownback), for his transition team. Kobach was the author of a bill for the state of Arizona, SB 1070, that gave police the right to request “documentation papers” from anyone at any time. That law was found to be unconstitutional on several counts by the Supreme Court, but Kobach could barely hide his glee about unleashing his brand of fascism – supported by the GOP nominee – on the country as a whole. “There’s going to be a lot to do there in part because Mr. Trump and Mr. Obama are diametric opposites when it comes to immigration policy,” Kobach stated following being named to the GOP nominee’s team. “So there will be a lot of changes.”

There are the climate change deniers, the anti-Muslim brigade and the former racist who was deemed so “deplorable” that he was DENIED A FEDERAL JUDGESHIP. Perhaps the worst are those that I call the “opportunistic hypocrites.”

This would include those that, during the campaign, dropped to their knees in front of the GOP nominee, people like Ben Carson, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, who once stood against what the GOP nominee represented. Chris Christie all but sacrificed himself on an altar if it would change the GOP nominee’s opinion (and earn Christie a job) and what did that get him? It also includes people like Mitt Romney and Nikki Haley, who stood vehemently against him, his thoughts and his statements…until a juicy federal post was dangled in front of them, that is. When that occurred, they moistened up their lips with Chap-Stick, put on their kneepads and went to work pleasuring the GOP nominee for his favor and a job. I certainly hope there aren’t any mirrors in their houses because they would be too embarrassed to even look at themselves.

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It is for the last 18 months and the reasons stated previously that we should never surrender the opposition to the GOP nominee. We need to stand and fight, if not for ourselves and our philosophies but for those who cannot fight – minorities, the downtrodden, those judged “un-American” because of their religion, women who prefer a choice in what happens with their bodies and those who are facing a return to “second class” citizen status in the LGBTQ movement. We need to defend every piece of turf taken over the past 60 years (yes, we’ve got to fight those same goddamn fights AGAIN) to ensure that those progressive moves don’t disappear under the thumb of a fascist dictator and his cooperating henchmen (and if you think the Crypt Keeper, Mike Pence, is any better, he may actually be WORSE – or have you seen his belief in “conversion therapyfor gays or that women should be forced to perform funerals for aborted fetuses?).

The battle cry should be heard far and wide. We shall never acquiesce ANYTHING to the conman who suddenly finds himself at the helm of the States of America. There will be no “chance” given to someone who has consistently demonstrated through words, actions and his personnel decisions that, if he isn’t an out-and-out fascist, he’s at least following the playbook pretty fucking close. For these and a host of other reasons that will become apparent – and there will be more and they will be blatant – the people of this country must say vive la resistance! Jamais de remise! It is the only thing that will prevent the destruction that is coming.

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Obstructionism Isn’t a Governing Style

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On Saturday night, I was preparing to go to a basketball game when the news came down. It was reported out of Texas that Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, one of the more conservative Justices in the history of the Supreme Court of the United States, had passed away in his sleep at a hunting lodge in Texas. Justice Scalia reportedly was found dead on Saturday morning and the hunting lodge was so remote that news of his passing wasn’t announced until late Saturday afternoon.

Needless to say, I was quite surprised about this news. I didn’t take any particular glee in the announcement, however, although some did (and, for some of them who were directly affected by Scalia’s stance on several critical Supreme Court decisions such as gay rights and abortion, I can understand that). I decided to wait for a bit before making any sort of pronouncements or addressing any thoughts on the issue – 12 hours seemed about right in my opinion. If only some others would have taken the time to employ the same tactic.

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Virtually as soon as the word came from that ranch in Texas where Justice Scalia had been hunting, the Republican Party began to obstruct the thought of President Barack Obama putting someone in Scalia’s seat. The Senate Majority Leader, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, literally said an hour after Scalia’s passing, “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” when other people – including ideological opponents of Scalia’s including New York Senator Chuck Schumer and current Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid – were offering condolences to the family. Another Senator, Utah’s Mike Lee (another Republican), who heads the Senate Judiciary Committee, didn’t even have the guts to respond, instead sending a lackey, spokesman Conn Carroll, to say that the chances of President Obama putting someone in Justice Scalia’s seat was “less than zero.”

The odious remains of the clown car known as the GOP Presidential nominees (more on this later this week) sounded like a bunch of harp seals in responding about the subject on the Sunday morning talkers. On Twitter, Texas Senator Ted Cruz remarked that “Justice Scalia was an American hero. We owe it to him and the nation for the Senate to ensure that the next President name his replacement.” There is plenty of evidence that negates Cruz’s statements as Presidents have, since the creation of our nation, nominated Justices up until they left office.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio was especially ripped by the Sunday hosts for his incredibly stupid statements that he made on the subject. Apparently someone in the Rubio camp informed Super Mario that, when a sitting President is down to the final year of his Presidency, he just quits being President and lets shit fall where it may. On Meet the Press, host Chuck Todd directly said to Rubio, “Do presidential terms end after three years?” when Rubio said, “In the last year of a president’s term…there should not be Supreme Court nominees put into lifetime positions.”

Even on home turf with Fox News, host Chris Wallace drilled Rubio when he asked if any President should be able to make second term Supreme Court appointments. “I’m not saying it’s illegal,” Rubio said. “I think we should wait until after November before we move forward on confirming any justice to the Supreme Court.” Wallace then administered the smack down to Rubio – the last time that such a situation occurred was under President Ronald Reagan when he nominated – and the Senate confirmed – Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy in 1988. “It doesn’t really matter what Reagan did back in ’87,” Rubio snottily – and incorrectly – said.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg of the obstructionism of the Republican Party in this particular circumstance.

Unfortunately, since the Republican “neocon” insurrection that led to President Bill Clinton’s impeachment over a blowjob at the tail end of the 1990s, the politics of obstructionism is all the people of the U. S. have received. Whether it is the Democrats in control of the Congress and a Republican in the White House or vice versa, it seems that no one wants to actually govern this country anymore. The politics of – well, actually being political – have been pushed aside for partisanship, “point scoring” and bullshit “line in the sand” positions rather than actually trying to lead the nation. As a result, not a damn thing is getting done.

We like to think of our nation as a great example of something that should be the target for other people and other nations to be. Instead, we’ve become a fucking joke in that we cannot even meet in a room to hear about a budget plan for the upcoming year, sit through a President’s State of the Union speech without yelling out bullshit or even give that President the common decency of allowing him his Constitutional right to nominate a person to the highest Court in the land.

President Barack Obama: Inauguration Day 2009

If you don’t like the President, that’s your prerogative. You can allow him to nominate his candidate for the Supreme Court without being derogatory towards the man and the office. Then you can demonstrate your obstructionism (and your disrespect to doing your job) to the citizens of the United States, either by not meeting with the candidate or not holding hearings for said candidate. Then it is on YOU to explain to the citizens of the country why someone who was OK as a judge when they were reviewed and approved a few years previously (because trust me, the Obama Administration isn’t going to pick someone that hasn’t already been approved by the Senate previously and probably by close to a unanimous vote) is suddenly not good enough to be a Supreme Court Justice.

This is the point where the obstructionism may fall apart. The GOP is staking their hill on this Supreme Court seat and it could very well lead to their downfall. With a third of the seats in the Senate up for grabs in November – including some in battleground states that the Republicans need to maintain their grasp on to hold the majority in the Senate – it is possible that a divisive issue could swing the vote one way or the other. Such a subject as naming a Supreme Court Justice – or the resulting blocking of said Justice – could motivate a sizeable bloc of voters to come out against a particular party (in this case, the GOP) and end their Senate majority.

The other question is why would the GOP try to stake this hill? If they are successful in delaying the selection of the Supreme Court Justice until after the November elections, they have to win said election to be able to put in someone they prefer; those odds do not look good at this time (odds makers have pretty much every combination of Democrat versus Republican with the Democrat winning). The next Democratic President could nominate Obama, which would be anathema to any Republican, worse than any nominee that Obama could come up with. There is also the chance that, should a Republican win, Obama could put through a Supreme Court replacement once the new Congress is seated and before the new President takes over (tricky, but extremely possible).

Now conservatives are going to cry that “Reid was obstructionist to Republicans when he was in charge,” and they’d be right. But what was he going to put forward from a Republican House…one of the 50-odd passages repealing the Affordable Care Act? Bills that stripped away through the riders on the side other rights that President Obama had fought to earn for women, gays and other groups that Republicans love to oppress? Repeals of Planned Parenthood funding? Tell you what…when both sides start passing bills straight up, without any riders that bastardize the original purpose of a bill, then you can talk about not having them considered by the other body in the legislative branch.

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Both sides need to realize that obstructionism is not a governing style. It is time that people actually look at who they are voting for and put people in the Congress (and get rid of these Tea Party nutbags who pretend to be “small government” but are basically religious zealots masquerading as small government practitioners) that will work together – rather than against each other – and put someone in the White House who will actually come down to Capitol Hill and sit in the office of the leader of the opposing party and find common ground to lead the nation. Furthermore, the Congress itself needs to get off its ass and move – and do its job rather than hiding behind “listening to the American people” as a reason to not do anything. It could start with doing something as simple as putting someone in the seat of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

Welcome Back, My Friends: What to Expect from Tuesday’s GOP Debate

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Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends!
We’re so glad you could attend,
Come inside! Come inside!

Emerson, Lake and Palmer, “Karn Evil 9

If it seems like we are in a Bill Murray-esque “Groundhog Day” scenario, it is about to come to a close. On Tuesday night, 13 of the 14 remaining candidates from the Republican Party will meet at the Venetian in Las Vegas, representing the final time in 2015 that the GOP will parade their talent across the stage for the U. S. voter. It is expected that, by the time of the next debate two days after the State of the Union address in January, this field will be whittled down again (since the start of the campaign, three candidates – former Texas Governor Rick Perry, current Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and current Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker – have already tossed in the towel…and thus completes our moment of silence for them).

It is appropriate that Las Vegas is the host of the final GOP debate for 2015 because, for many of the candidates, it is a full-out gamble that they’re taking by staying in the race. The four men who will make up the undercard (or “kiddie table”) debate – current South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, former New York Governor George Pataki, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee – were unable to make the criteria for the main CNN debate (to be eligible, a candidate had to poll at least at 3.5% nationally or at 4% in either Iowa or New Hampshire) and probably should have left this contest months ago (another candidate, former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore, was left off this stage because he doesn’t poll at all in the GOP race, he just hasn’t gotten around to ending his campaign). They do little for the process other than to confuse voters, offer nothing as to “fresh” ideas and simply aren’t viable (on the Democrats side, Martin O’Malley serves this purpose all by himself). There would have to be a tremendous “change of fortune” if any of these longest of “long shots” were to pay off with a residency in the White House.

The nine person GOP All-Star team that will be in the “Main Event” – billionaire businessman  Donald Trump, brain surgeon Ben Carson, current Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Florida Senator Marco Rubio, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, businesswoman Carly Fiorina, current New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Ohio’s Governor John Kasich and current Kentucky Senator Rand Paul – could have probably been cut as well, but we don’t want to have three debates that would provide emergency rooms with more alcohol poisonings than they could handle. With just the top four alone – Trump, Carson, Cruz and Rubio – nearly three-quarters (73.5%) of the GOP has decided who they will back. The other five candidates divvy up 15% of the vote, not enough for any of them to mount a serious charge at the top and probably not enough to swing the top four in any particular direction (the rest are basically undecided, either supporting one of the bottom four or have truly not made a choice). As such, this debate (and maybe they’ll do it by the January debate, but I’m not holding my breath) might be the last time we’ll see this many GOP hopefuls on the center stage.

The run-up to this debate has been intriguing if not necessarily pretty. Paul was a last-minute addition (due to a late Sunday Fox News poll that showed him doing well in Iowa) to get him to the main stage. There was talk that he would be shuttled to the undercard debate, which brought the threat from Paul of either a lawsuit or a resignation from the campaign. Trump has been wavering atop the ladder, with a surprising Cruz passing him in some polling while Trump has extended his lead in others. Finally, there has been the grandstanding that many in the GOP have done as a result of situations in the world and in the United States over the past few weeks.

This debate is being billed by CNN – who will put commentator Wolf Blitzer in as the moderator, with assistance from CNN Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash and Salem Radio (co-host of the debate) talk show host Hugh Hewitt – as a comprehensive look at the threat of terrorism and foreign policy. With the attacks in Paris and in San Bernardino over the past few weeks, the actions of ISIS and terrorism in general has come to the forefront as an important issue. This doesn’t bode well for a few of the candidates – Carson, Fiorina, Kasich and Paul in particular – because it isn’t their forte. Some of the other candidates on the stage – Cruz, Rubio, Bush and Christie – have been very consistent with their proposals to counter terrorists’ threats. It is Trump who is the wild card simply because he presents “solutions” that will not even be seriously considered (registering a religion for government surveillance or forcing them into “training camps”, bombing the “shit” out of ISIS regardless of where they are, etc.); the real question is when will Trump grow up and figure out simple civics and government protocol and offer viable ideas.

The tone of the debate on Tuesday night is going to be two-sided. For those at the bottom of the totem pole – Paul, Kasich, Christie (making his return to the main stage after being “sent to the minors” for the last debate) and Fiorina – they are going to have to put out a big bet (in keeping with our Las Vegas theme here) and hope that it hits in their favor. This could be some sort of proposal to combat terrorism, an attack on another candidate showing how their position is wrong, or a particular stance that makes them potentially look like “the adult” in the room rather than a pandering child. Expect the “slings and arrows” for this debate to come out of this bunch because, let’s be honest, they haven’t got anything else to fall back on if they are to be viable in the campaign.

The top five in the GOP – Trump, Cruz, Carson, Rubio and Bush (and he barely gets into this class) – will probably be on their best behavior, especially Trump. After months of acting like your crazy, drunken uncle at the Thanksgiving or Christmas gathering, Trump is now being tracked down by the one candidate who is actively looking to pull away his supporters, Cruz. He has to try to look somewhat “sane” as he tries to parlay the attack of Cruz (who was called by none other than Arizona Senator John McCain a “wacko bird”). Cruz, who has basically burned every bridge he might have been able to use in the GOP to push his candidacy forward, HAD been the “lunatic fringe” of the GOP before Trump came along and now is potentially viewed by some as more “Presidential” than before. Instead of staying this course, Trump is strangely resorting to trying to portray himself as having a better “temperament” for the Presidency (as the rest of the political world does massive spit-takes); whether that strategy pays off has yet to be seen.

These five guys will, for the most part, spar lightly with each other but mostly will look out for the heavy ammunition from the back of the pack. Despite his bombast, Trump isn’t well-versed in foreign policy matters, so he’ll probably sit back and look for someone else to make a mistake (instead of the one Trump did in the last debate when Paul pointed out China – one of Trump’s favorite targets for beating – wasn’t a part of the Asian trade pact recently negotiated). This plan doesn’t bode well for him, however, as it could result in a drop in the polls if he doesn’t display “strength.”

I expect good showings from both Cruz and Rubio on this issue. The two are well-versed from their Senatorial work in potential foreign policy options and could present a viable course of action. Bush might surprise here, if he can separate himself from the Albatross that were his brother’s actions in the Middle East, while Carson suffers from a worse case of the same condition that afflicts Trump – no knowledge of foreign policy (although this would be a good time to demonstrate that he’s been listening to his advisors and show some deep thought on the subject).

What has held true for all the previous debates – and will continue to hold true for this one – is that it won’t have much effect on the current campaign at all and I don’t say that cynically. Trump has been the leader since he stepped into the race this summer and, despite every verbal bombast, insult and slur that he’s thrown, he’s either maintained the lead or expanded it. It isn’t going to be until that late-January debate that there might be a change in the numbers on the board, more so true if there are some candidates who come to their senses and realize they have no shot at the big prize and withdraw from the race. While Las Vegas may be the city where “dreams come true,” it more often than not crushes those dreams into dust; it will be that way for some of these GOP candidates as we head towards the end of 2015.