Tag Archives: Hardy

Shuffling the Deck and Hiding the Cards: House Guts Buy American rules

Just in case we all missed it, and I suspect we were supposed to, the House of Representatives recently gutted the rules for Buying American products for federal projects.  [DWT] What was all that palaver about ‘saving American jobs,’ and ‘promoting American manufacturing?’  Evidently it’s meaningless to Nevada Representatives Amodei, Hardy (happily on his way out) and Heck (happily on his way out) – all of whom voted in favor of the Water and Energy bill (H.R. 2028) from which the HOUSE REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP  had stripped the “Buy American” provisions.

It might also be interesting to hear from Senator Dean Heller on the Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election?  Yes, 17 US intelligence agencies – not just the CIA – said Russia was behind the hacking. [USAT]  There’s no “confusion” over this conclusion. There’s no “false flag” operation – that’s the province of fake news and conspiracy theorists.  There’s just no question – and yet Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) has yet to join the bipartisan call for Congressional investigation of this important matter?   If a foreign country can hack in and seek to manipulate a U.S. election, what’s to say it can’t gather blackmail-bait on the Republicans as well as Democrats?

And, what’s the Senator’s stance on GOP plans to cut Social Security? Here’s the first draft of that plan.   The basics:

Those measures include gradually raising the retirement age for receiving full benefits from 67 to 69 and adopting a less generous cost of living index than the current one. The proposal would also inaugurate means testing by changing the benefits formula to reduce payments to wealthier retirees. It would also eliminate the annual COLA adjustments for wealthier individuals and their families. [Financial Times]

It would be easier to sit back and pretend this is a normal political season but it isn’t, and when Teen Vogue does a better job of explaining the Gaslighting of America than the D.C. press, then we ought to figure we’re in trouble – from lies about manufacturing jobs to lies about election hacking to lies about Social Security —

“To gas light is to psychologically manipulate a person to the point where they question their own sanity, and that’s precisely what Trump is doing to this country. He gained traction in the election by swearing off the lies of politicians, while constantly contradicting himself, often without bothering to conceal the conflicts within his own sound bites. He lied to us over and over again, then took all accusations of his falsehoods and spun them into evidence of bias.”  [Teen Vogue]

And that sums up the beginnings of the Trumpster’s administration.

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Filed under Amodei, Economy, elections, Heck, Heller, Nevada politics, Politics

Nevada Republicans Cling To Trump’s Basket

The Pearl Clutching is amazing!  It’s also perfectly predictable. Republican candidate Donald J. Trump can say all manner of outrageous things, but let Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton call him out and the antimacassars have to be taken off the backs of the fainting couches and the pillows plumped up.

Donald J. Trump: “Sadly, the overwhelming amount of violent crime in our major cities is committed by blacks and hispanics-a tough subject-must be discussed.”  1:05 AM, June 5, 2013.

Donald J. Trump: “@YoungYoung54: @JeriHyatt @megynkelly @JebBush So true. Jeb Bush is crazy, who cares that he speaks Mexican, this is America, English !!”  7:14 PM, August 24, 2015.

Donald J. Trump: “But you have people coming in and I’m not just saying Mexicans, I’m talking about people that are from all over that are killers and rapists and they’re coming into this country.”  [CNN/HuffPo]

Heck Trump Hat

Is anyone going to argue that these remarks from the Republican presidential candidate AREN’T racist? 

And still Nevada politicians like Representative Joe Heck will gladly don the Trump Hat.

 

Donald J. Trump: “I think the guy is lazy,” Trump said of a black employee, according to O’Donnell. “And it’s probably not his fault because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not anything they can control.” [HuffPo]

Donald J. Trump: “And isn’t it funny. I’ve got black accountants at Trump Castle and Trump Plaza. Black guys counting my money! I hate it,” O’Donnell recalled Trump saying. “The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.” [HuffPo]

Tarkanian

Do these comments from Mr. Trump sound blatantly racist? Stereotypically anti-Semitic?  Even “deplorable?” No matter, Congressional Candidate Danny Tarkanian is still pleased to be a supporter of Donald J. Trump.  But wait … there’s more.

“His white supremacist fan club includes the Daily Stormer, a leading neo-Nazi news site; Richard Spencer, director of the National Policy Institute, which aims to promote the “heritage, identity, and future of European people”; Jared Taylor, editor of American Renaissance, a Virginia-based white nationalist magazine; Michael Hill, head of the League of the South, an Alabama-based white supremacist secessionist group; and Brad Griffin, a member of Hill’s League of the South and author of the popular white supremacist blog Hunter Wallace.

A leader of the Virginia KKK who is backing Trump told a local TV reporter earlier this month, “The reason a lot of Klan members like Donald Trump is because a lot of what he believes, we believe in.” [HuffPo]

Hardy 3

Maybe we should have expected Bundy-backer Cresent Hardy to support Mr. Trump.  Not to much of his credit, Hardy initially used the Weasel Excuse for supporting Mr. Trump — “I’ll support the candidate of my party,” – nothing like announcing that you put your party above the interests of ALL American.  Then, Mr. Hardy climbed in the Basket with the other ‘deplorables.”

 

There’s still more. This August Mr. Trump hired Stephen K. Bannon of Breitbart “News.” [NYT]  Mr. Bannon was the executive chairman of the Breitbart organization when it published the infamous piece by Maria Cardona about birth control injections making women fat and unattractive.  [Snopes] The Breitbart site has given us all manner of inflammatory headlines, and there are plenty of examples: “Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew.” Or, “Sympathy for the Devils: The Plot Against Roger Ailes – and America.” And, “There’s no hiring bias against women in tech, they just suck at interviews.” And, the egregious: “Gabby Giffords: The Gun Control Movement’s Human Shield.”  And the incomprehensible, “After the Pulse Club Massacre, It’s Time For The Gays To Come Home To Republican Party.”  And, one of my ‘favorites,’ “The Solution To Online Harassment is Simple: Women Should Log Off.” [MMA]

Amodei 3

Yes, even all this is not enough to make Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2) do much more than tell us Mr. Trump as president would be a smoking black hole or the next messiah…whatever that might mean.  It can be argued that this comment puts Amodei in the ‘Party before Country’ category – why else support a candidate you think has a 50% chance of being a Smoking Black Hole?  Yes, indeed, for Rep. Amodei it’s all about HIS team:

“Congressman Amodei has demonstrated time and time again that he puts corporations and his party first. Leaders lead. Cynics, like Congressman Amodei, go along to get along. That’s never been more on display than with his comment ‘quite frankly… in the five years I’ve been around, I’d like to try being on the team in the White House’. Party loyalty.” [Evans]

Dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres.”

Tell me with whom you walk and I will tell you who you are.   Or, as granny used to say, “You’re known by the company you keep.”  If these Nevada Republican candidates find it uncomfortable to be associated with the deplorable comments and headlines listed above – there’s a solution.  Don’t support people and organizations which say or support these egregious things.

The Chicago Tribune sums up Trump’s campaign and its followers:

“His fervid nationalistic rhetoric has given succor to racists, homophobes, xenophobes and Islamophobes. In drawing them from the margins (back) into the mainstream, Trump is creating a social climate that increasingly threatens the progress America has made toward pluralism and multiculturalism.”

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Filed under Amodei, Heck, Nativism, Nevada politics, Republicans

Scams and Scandals: Is Nothing Enough to Put Nevada Republicans Off Trump?

Trump 1 While the press seems obsessed with ‘foundations’ (especially if discussing the highly rated and respected Clinton Foundation) there was this timeline published on September 6, 2016.

“Trump-Bondi Timeline

August 23, 2013
Donald Trump’s attorneys “launched an aggressive campaign against New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, as the state’s chief law-enforcement officer continues an investigation into the billionaire’s education company.” —WSJ, Aug. 23, 2016

(This is one day before AG Schneiderman filed the suit.)

Mid-Late August 2013
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi “personally solicited a political contribution from Donald Trump” “several weeks” before Bondi’s “office publicly announced it was deliberating whether to join a multi-state lawsuit proposed by New York’s Democratic attorney general.”

” ‘The process took at least several weeks, from the time they spoke to the time they received the contribution,’ Reichelderfer told AP.” —AP, June 6, 2016

ca. Sept. 10, 2013
Ivanka Trump donates $500 to Bondi (or the PAC?) “a week before her father’s money was reported as being received.” —AP, June 6, 2016

Sept. 13, 2013
Bondi “publicly announced she was considering joining a New York state probe of Trump University’s activities.” —AP, June 6, 2016

Sept. 17, 2013
And Justice For All, political group backing Bondi, “reported receiving” the $25,000 check from Trump foundation. —AP, June 6, 2016

Sept. or October, 2013
“In 2013, [Trump] wouldn’t answer Times/Herald questions about why he was contributing to an attorney general’s race in Florida. But he did release a statement calling Bondi ‘a fabulous representative of the people’ and Schneiderman ‘a political hack.’ ” —Tampa Bay Times, March 14, 2016

“In 2013, Trump acknowledged making the contribution.” [TPM]

Meanwhile in Texas:

In 2009 the state of Texas began an investigation into Trump University,  after complaints surfaced regarding the advertising placed in Texas newspapers:

“The probe began in the fall of 2009, apparently in response to an advertisement that Trump University had placed in the Chronicle, according to an internal memo that Attorney General’s Office lawyer Rick Berlin sent to Owens and three other supervisors.

“The free workshop advertisement advises you to ‘Cash in on the Greatest Property Liquidation in History!’ ” the memo said. “The full one page ad …quotes Donald Trump as saying ‘I can turn anyone into a successful real estate investor, including you.’ The ad further professes that you can buy real estate from banks at up to 70% below market value.” [HoustonChron]

The case progressed:

“Two months later, in January 2010, the Attorney General’s Office notified Trump University it was under investigation for “possible violations of 17.46(a) and 17.46(b) of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices – Consumer Protection Act,” records show.

Those provisions prohibit “false, misleading, or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce.” The notification letter demanded 12 categories of documents.” [HoustonChron]

And when records were released in California regarding Trump’s activities, this emerged:

“Abbott received donations totaling $35,000 from Trump three years after deciding not to sue – the only major donation the New York billionaire has made to a Texas politician in years.” [HoustonChron]

On May 6, 2010 the state of Texas was preparing to file suit and requested a variety of documents from Trump.

“Investigators were scheduled to meet with Trump representatives on May 19, 2010, to pitch the $5.4 million settlement proposal. That meeting never took place, Owens said. Instead, the division received “verbal notification” that the investigation and the lawsuit were over.” [Salon]

So, what has all this to do with Nevada politics?  

The jury is still literally out on the Trump University case, the one in which Mr. Trump famously declared he couldn’t get a fair hearing because the judge (Curiel) is of Mexican heritage – but we can get a bit of information about Nevada candidates for whom the Trump University/Trump Foundation/Trump Institute morass isn’t troubling enough to warrant putting some distance between themselves and at least the “optics” of the Trump scams.

The Reno Gazette Journal published a full list of Nevada politicians who have either endorsed or said they would support Mr. Trump – in spite of the continuing pile of scandals in which he’s involved.  Some of the more notable on the list are:

Gov. Brian Sandoval – Yes

Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison – Yes

Attorney General Adam Laxalt – Yes

U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei – Yes

U.S. Rep. Joe Heck – Yes

U.S. Rep. Cresent Hardy – Did not respond, but has said he will support the nominee * (yes, see below)

Nevada Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, Henderson – Yes

Nevada Assembly Majority Leader Paul Anderson, Las Vegas – Yes

State Sen. Don Gustavson, Sparks – Yes

What seems particularly troubling is that when the Governor and the Attorney General are supporting the candidacy of Mr. Trump the ‘optics’ appear that they would not be interested in pursuing any litigation against Mr. Trump’s scams.  Representatives Heck and Amodei seem not concerned enough to distance themselves from the candidacy.

If the Trump University scandal is insufficient incentive to put some distance between themselves and Trump’s candidacy perhaps there are other items which might cause them to back off?

Apparently the housing discrimination scandals of 1973-75 which resulted in Trump agreeing to abandon the discrimination policies and to submit its operations to a regular review by the NY Urban League weren’t enough to make these Nevada politicians wary of Mr. Trump. Nor were Mr. Trump’s machinations involving a Central Park property and the abuse of the residents therein enough to make Nevada politicians nervous? [Atlantic]

Perhaps they find Mr. Trump’s position on immigration policy appealing, but without delving into his immigration practices:

“In order to construct his signature Trump Tower, the builder first had to demolish the Bonwit Teller store, an architecturally beloved Art Deco edifice. The work had to be done fast, and so managers hired 200 undocumented Polish workers to tear it down, paying them substandard wages for backbreaking work—$5 per hour, when they were paid at all.” [Atlantic] Mr. Trump was aware of these practices.  [Time]

There have been other allegations published about Trump’s dealings with his Modeling Agency and the women who were undocumented working there. [Mother Jones]

Nevadans are usually particularly sensitive to casino operation policies. Trump’s were highly questionable – enough so that he’s no longer in the casino business.

“In 1990, with Trump Taj Mahal in trouble, Trump’s father Fred strolled in and bought 700 chips worth a total of $3.5 million. The purchase helped the casino pay debt that was due, but because Fred Trump had no plans to gamble, the New Jersey gaming commission ruled that it was a loan that violated operating rules. Trump paid a $30,000 fine; in the end, the loan didn’t prevent a bankruptcy the following year. As noted above, New Jersey also fined Trump $200,000 for arranging to keep black employees away from mafioso Robert LiButti’s gambling table. In 1991, the Casino Control Commission fined Trump’s company another $450,000 for buying LiButti nine luxury cars. And in 2000, Trump was fined $250,000 for breaking New York state law in lobbying to prevent an Indian casino from opening in the Catskills, for fear it would compete against his Atlantic City casinos.” [Atlantic]

Surely such a record would cause Nevada politicians to retreat from the prospect of supporting Mr. Trump? Evidently not.

Perhaps some highly questionable  name-licensing agreements would be enough to make Nevada politicians uncomfortable?  Especially if the agreements involved real estate transactions?

“In the case of Trump SoHo, in Manhattan, Trump’s partners turned out to have a lengthy criminal past. Trump said he didn’t know that, but—atypically—settled a lawsuit with buyers (while, typically, not admitting any wrongdoing). Another, Trump International Hotel & Tower Fort Lauderdale, went into foreclosure, and Trump has sued the complex’s developer. In 2013, hesettled a suit with prospective buyers who lost millions when a development in Baja Mexico went under. Trump blamed the developers again, saying he had only licensed his name.” [Atlantic]

Either Mr. Trump is not being honest about his relationship with these failed developments, or he is remarkably naive about to whom and under what circumstances he licenses his name?

Would Nevada Republican politicians sound the retreat from the Trump Camp if it were known that Mr. Trump has a track record of stiffing small business owners and employees – the very people the Republicans claim to uphold and protect?  Again, from the Atlantic summation:

“Trump has offered various excuses, including shoddy workmanship, but the scale of the problem—hundreds of allegations—makes that hard to credit. In some cases, even the lawyers Trump has hired to defend him have sued him for failing to pony up their fees. In one lawsuit, a Trump employee admitted in court that a painter was stiffed because managers determined they had “already paid enough.” The cases are damaging because they show Trump not driving a hard bargain with other businesses, but harming ordinary, hard-working Americans.”

USA Today reported:

“Donald Trump often portrays himself as a savior of the working class who will “protect your job.” But a USA TODAY NETWORK analysis found he has been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits over the past three decades — and a large number of those involve ordinary Americans, like the Friels, who say Trump or his companies have refused to pay them.”

The aforementioned list of Nevada Republican officials and candidates can evidently swallow all manner of scandals involving housing discrimination, employment discrimination, stiffing small businesses, highly questionable casino operation policies, immigration practices (as opposed to empty rhetoric), and publicized infractions of the acceptable ways to use foundation funds —

Perhaps they can sputter about the “e-mails,” a large nothing-burger of specious speculation and Republican investigations of the investigations and the people investigating the investigations … or the Clinton Foundation with its top ratings from Charity Navigator and Charity Watch [AP] but the hard facts remain that Mr. Trump has been and may continue to be involved in practices which are illegal at worst and ethically questionable at best.

Representatives Amodei, Hardy, and Heck, Attorney General Laxalt, and Governor Sandoval should be asked directly how they can continue to support a presidential candidate who has demonstrated a willingness to break the rules of casino operations? To engage in housing discrimination? To refuse payment to employees and contractors (including his own campaign staff)? To engage in unlawful immigration practices?

The answers should be enlightening?

*Cresent Hardy has since decided he will do everything he can to get Mr. Trump elected. [LV Sun]

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Filed under Amodei, Heck, Nevada politics, Politics

Trump’s Racism: List One

Trump Racism 1

And, this is the man being supported by Representative Joe Heck, Representative Mark Amodei, and Representative Cresent Hardy.

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Filed under Amodei, Heck, Nativism, Nevada politics, Politics, racism, Republicans

And They Voted To What? House GOP wants to drop the new fiduciary rule

Money Pile 2

The Republican leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives did try to do some business in the midst of the Democratic representatives’ sit in, and a miserable bit of business it was.

“House Republicans on Wednesday failed to muster the two-thirds majority needed to block the Obama administration’s controversial standards for financial advisers.  The House voted 239-180 to block the fiduciary rule, well more than 40 votes short of the total needed.

Wednesday night’s vote came as Democrats staged a sit-in on the House floor, starting around nearly 12 hours earlier, to push for a vote on legislation to prevent terror suspects from buying guns.”  [TheHill]

There’s a little story about priorities herein.  While the Democrats were trying to get the leadership to schedule votes on gun safety legislation, the Republicans were trying to make it easier for financial advisers to rip people off. [TP]

Let’s try to make this as simple as humanly possible.  “Fiduciary” /fəˈdooSHēˌerē,-SHərē/, “ involving trust, especially with regard to the relationship between a trustee and a beneficiary.”   Think of that pile of money in the graphic above as your savings. You have trusted a financial adviser to tell you the best investments you can make to get a good return on your savings, especially for your retirement account.   You are trusting that what your investment and/or financial adviser is telling you is in your best interest.

The Department of Labor has drafted a rule to require your financial adviser to act in your best interest regarding your investments – and not to give you advice on financial products that will do more for the investment advisers than they will do for you.  In short, it’s a matter of trust —  you should be able to trust what your financial adviser is telling you. You should be able to trust that the advice isn’t intended to feather the nests of the investment advisers instead of yours.

So, what have the Republicans been doing?  Return with us now to the Senate side of the Capitol building.  On May 24, 2016 the Republican controlled Senate voted to kill the Labor Department rule. [vote 84]  The vote was 56-41, obviously not sufficient to over-ride the promised veto.  And, who voted along with other Republicans to kill the rule? None other than our own Bankers’ Boy, Senator Dean Heller (R-NV).

HJ Res 88 Senate Vote

Now, let’s return to the House side of the Capitol Building.  HJ Res 88, “ On disapproving the rule submitted by the Department of Labor relating to the definition of the term “Fiduciary,” on passage, the objections of the President to the contrary notwithstanding… [vote 338] And who from the great state of Nevada voted to kill the rule?  Representatives Mark Amodei (R-NV2), Cresent Hardy (R-NV4), and Joe Heck (R-NV3).  Who as a member of Nevada’s congressional delegation did NOT vote to allow financial advisers to act in their own best interests rather than yours – Representative Dina Titus (D-NV1). The attempt to overturn the Labor Department rule failed 239-180.  The Republicans needed a 2/3rds majority to get rid of the rule, and thanks to Representative Titus and 179 other members of the House they didn’t get it.

In spite of the Republicans’ best efforts – your financial adviser will now have to offer investment advice based on what is in YOUR best interests – and not peddle financial products that will garner fees, kickbacks, and other “revenue enhancement” for the advisers.

And, THIS is what the Republicans thought was more important than scheduling votes on gun safety in America.

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Filed under Economy, financial regulation, Heck, Heller, Nevada politics, Republicans

GOP’s State of Confusion: Anti-LBGT or Anti-Muslim or Both

Confused

OK, I am officially confused. Which is it, does the GOP want to be seen as the champion of conservative religious tenets which hold homosexuality as sin and corruption; or, does the GOP want to be thanked as the protector of homosexuals from the evil-doing nasty folks of IS/Daesh?

Invisible Victims

No matter how hard some conservatives may try to avoid saying LGBT, the attack in Orlando, Florida was made on a GAY nightclub.  As noted previously Representative Dina Titus (D-NV1) was capable of observing this fact; while, on the GOP side of the aisle Representative Cresent Hardy (R-NV4) just couldn’t quite resist the temptation to generalize the victims.  Somehow, Representative Hardy’s lights couldn’t illuminated the fact that the victims were in a GAY nightclub.  He’s not alone.

The Republican National Committee’s first response mentioned “lifestyles,” but even that was edited out of their second edition – now the terror attack was made on “any American.”  Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX)  publically denied Pulse was a GAY nightclub immediately before blocking attempts to provide LGBT protections in a bill before his committee. [TP]

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) was blunt: “This body should not be engaged in political games,” Cruz said. “We should be focused on the threat and keeping America safe and defeating radical Islamic terrorism.” [BusIns] Against whom?  Once again, the victims of the horrendous attack were invisible.

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was just as vague in remarks made on the Senate floor yesterday — “This week in Orlando, Americans were targeted deliberately and taken  forever from their families by a terrorist ISIL has claimed is “one of  the soldiers of the caliphate.” It is clear from his behavior that this was not a random act of  violence. This was a calculated act of terror.” [LoC pdf]  Scrolling down the entirety of the  Majority Leader’s comments yields exactly Zero references to the victims of the Orlando attacks – patrons of a GAY nightclub.

Yes, it was obviously calculated, and yes, it was an act of terrorism – against the patrons of a GAY nightclub.

Squirrel Logic

But wait, after making the victims of the assault on the Pulse nightclub almost perfectly invisible in their comments about the attack, the GOP would now have us believe they champion GAY rights? Excuse my confusion – I would have thought these people were invisible to you but…

Representative Mo Brooks (R-AL) appears on the scene with this bit of baffling political analysis:  “Democrats are in a perplexing position. On the one hand, they’re trying to appeal to the gay community, but, on the other hand, they’re trying to also appeal to the Muslim community, which, if it had its way, would kill every homosexual in the United States of America,” Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL)” [TPM]

And, far be it from Mr. Trump to pass up an opportunity to stick his oar in the muddied waters:

Donald Trump, in his first major speech after the weekend’s tragedy suggested that Hillary Clinton “can never claim to be a friend of the gay community.”  “She can’t have it both ways,” Trump said. “She can’t claim to be supportive of these communities while trying to increase the number of people coming in who want to oppress them.” Ask yourself, who really is the friend of women and the LBGT community: Donald Trump with his actions or Hillary Clinton with her words?” [TPM]

There seems to be more than a little political semantic gamesmanship here.  The message to the heretofore invisible LGBT community seems to be either you are anti-Islam or you have to be anti-LGBT, there is no middle ground.  This conflation of all practitioners of Islam as anti-gay is as inaccurate as it is distasteful divisive rhetoric.   Those unsure of this might want to consider the following comments by an Islamic scholar in the Dallas Morning News:

“As Muslims we believe there’s no compulsion in religion. That’s actually a Quranic verse. Everyone adheres to their own set of values, their own set of morals. But that should not lead to the oppression of another person or to harming another individual. The way that we talk about that is the way that we talk about anything in the Quran or in the prophetic tradition.

Yes, you’re going to find Muslims that would offer revised interpretations of the Quran. But I think one thing that’s important to stress is that conservative is not the same thing as radical. If a person has conservative views that they uphold within their own family life, so long as that does not lead to denying, belittling, or dehumanizing someone else, then I don’t think that’s particularly problematic.”

Thus much for the lack of middle ground.  Doing a quick inventory – Islam is not a compulsive religion (check), Islam has conservative followers (check), Islam teaches that one’s beliefs may not “deny, belittle, or dehumanize” someone else. (check) Conservatives are not necessarily radicals. (check) Only in the most bigoted way imaginable could a person decide that all members of the Islamic faith are radicals. Only in the most prejudicial manner could a person proclaim that all followers of Islam are necessarily so anti-gay that they could excuse or rejoice in the killing of their fellow citizens.

There may be a second message in the dog whistling coming from these Republican remarks.  It’s  message to their own base.  If the actual victims of the massacre are invisible, and if they can be generalized out of the picture, then it’s possible to believe that all Muslims are radical, and it’s acceptable to “monitor, screen, place them under surveillance, and restrict their freedom and liberty” in the name of public safety for “all Americans” (except the ones we won’t name.)

A third screech from the dog whistle may be aimed at a more general audience.  By creating an artificial “either/or” proposition the GOP can seek to associate Democrats with Muslims.  The inference is that Muslims are dangerous, Democrats support Muslims, ergo Democrats are dangerous.  Their’s is a simple but demonstrably false syllogism which depends on the acceptance of the initial false proposition that ALL Muslims are dangerous. I’m fond of calling this Squirrel Logic: Squirrels have hair on their heads. That man has hair on his head. Therefore, that man is a squirrel.

A Broader Perspective

While the GOP may wish to fixate on the terrorism facet of the attack on the GAY nightclub, what happened seems far more complex.  The horrific massacre had more than one element – it had a very disturbed radicalized young American man wielding military weaponry with a high lethality rate, in a GAY nightclub, who intended to kill GAY people.  It really isn’t hard to unpack the elements.  A marginalized person (self or otherwise?) who attached himself to a radicalized version of a religion, and who had easy access to a military weapon and enough ammunition to launch a killing spree in a GAY nightclub, the victims in which have themselves been marginalized in anti-LGBT rhetoric. 

Taking any one of the elements out of the toxic equation shouldn’t lead us to conclude that there is any single policy change that would have prevented the tragedy.  However, removing at least one certainly wouldn’t hurt and might help avoid subsequent attacks.

It would help if we could tone down the anti-LGBT rhetoric. Just as it is no longer socially acceptable to make a joke of someone’s ethnicity, wouldn’t it be nice if the mocking, demeaning, and dismissal of a person’s sexual orientation were no longer acceptable in polite society.  This isn’t “political correctness,” it’s merely fine old fashioned good manners.  It would be even more helpful if we could enact statutes protecting the rights of members of the LGBT community and being as concerned about their rights as we are our own.

It would help if we toned down the anti-Islam barrage.  Those whose image of Muslims, and especially of Muslim Americans, is composed of TV footage of Daesh outrages, or foreign cultural practices commonly abhorred, should take note of the many resources available for better understanding their Muslim neighbors.  They should consider the following statements from Muslim community leaders:

Dawud Walid the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Michigan says Mateen doesn’t represent Muslims in the U.S. His message to the public; Muslims are American and as all other Americans, they are loyal to their country even if they disagree with certain issues.The rule of American Muslims is to abide by the laws of the land and to be peaceful and this recent extremist act that took place this morning, is the rare exception and in no way embodies our morals or our values as Americans citizens who just happen to be Muslims,” said Walid. [CBS Detroit]

Or, this:

“We condemn this monstrous attack and offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all those killed or injured. The Muslim community joins our fellow Americans in repudiating anyone or any group that would claim to justify or excuse such an appalling act of violence.”

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.” [CAIR]

A little more mutual understanding should certainly help more than vilifying the American Muslim community.

It would help if we made it less likely that a disturbed or deranged individual could  get access to a military style weapon of war, which were never designed for civilian use.   There are listings of weapons by lethality. The AK-47 style; the M-16 (AR-15) “family”; the M240 machine gun; the PK machine gun; the QBZ 95 assault rifle.  It would seem reasonable that if a gun is listed as one of the five most lethal weapons in the world that common sense implies its ownership should be restricted.  Perhaps restricting the magazine capacity would assist in diminishing the lethality of these weapons when they are misused by civilians? That, too, sounds like common sense.

It would help if we de-stigmatized those who are harboring feelings which are anti-social and the antithesis of stability.  Who missed the signals that the Orlando shooter was demonstrating troubling personal behavior? Were the signals and warnings acted upon appropriately? Who could have warned authorities that the Aurora, Colorado theater shooter was exhibiting disturbing behavior – do we need to emphasize the necessity of giving local authorities a warning about those who combine disturbed thinking with fixations on violence?  Who might have warned authorities about the intentions of the Colorado Springs PPA facility shooter?  We are fond of saying “If you see something, say something,” why not practice what we’re preaching? And, why not support the funding and increased resources of our mental health services?

If we persist in seeing only those elements of mass shootings which conform to our pre-existing ideologies then we’ll miss the opportunities available to diminish the likelihood of further mass tragedies. A broader perspective is required to reach better horizons.

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Filed under anti-terrorism, gay issues, Gun Issues, Islam, Mental Health, Nevada politics, public safety, terrorism

Guns and Money

Stonewall NRA How Much? Thus far into the 2016 election cycle the National Rifle Association PAC  has donated a total of $398,400 to Federal candidates with $3,500 going to Democrats and $394,900 donated to Republican campaigns.  The Safari Club International PAC has contributed $17,000 to Democratic candidates and $317,500 to Republicans.  The National Shooting Sports Foundation PAC has donated $118,500 with $2,000 to Democratic candidates and $116,500 to Republican candidates.  The National Association for Gun Rights PAC has donated $29,000 to Republican candidates, and nothing to Democratic ones. The Gun Owners of American PAC has donated $9,585 with all contributions given to Republicans. The Ohio Gun Collectors Association PAC has distributed $7,000 all of which has gone to Republican candidates. The Dallas Safari Club PAC has donated all $3,000 of its contributions to Republicans.  [OS.org]

The NRA PAC has donated $75,000 so far to the National Republican Senatorial Committee; $30,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee; $15,000 to the Republican National Committee; $9,950 to the Blue Dog PAC, $5,000 to the Republican Party of Iowa; $5,000 to the Republican Federal Committee of Pennsylvania; $5,000 to the Republican Party of Tennessee; $5,000 to the Republican Party of Kentucky; and, $5,000 to the Republican Party of Idaho.  [OS.org]

We also need to consider the NRA lobbying arm, the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, which runs issue-based campaign ads of its own.  This organization cannot donate directly to candidates but is allowed to receive millions of dollars in donations from corporations.  It is not required to disclose the donors but manufacturers like Smith & Wesson and Sturm Ruger & Company have announced large donations to the NRA-ILA in the past. [CNN]  It’s public knowledge that during the two year period of the 2014 election cycle the NRA spent almost $36 million on lobbying, campaign contributions, and related political spending. [CNN]

Who Gets? Nevada Congressional candidate Cresent Hardy received $3,000 from the NRA PAC.  Joe Heck, Senate candidate in Nevada received $4,950 from the NRA PAC.

Cresent Hardy received another $2,000 from the Safari Club International PAC.  Senate candidate Joe Heck also received $2,000 from the Safari Club International PAC. Current Nevada Senator Dean Heller also received $2,000 in the 2016 cycle from the Safari Club International PAC.   The recipients are those listed in reports up to May 16, 2016. [OP.org]

The Response

The tragedy in Orlando, Florida, illustrates in a horrible way why simplistic thinking is detrimental to civil discourse in America.  And, the NRA response was perfectly predictable:

“Radical Islamic terrorists are not deterred by gun control laws. The San Bernardino terrorist attack wasn’t stopped by California’s so-called “assault weapons” ban. The gun ban in Brussels didn’t prevent the terrorist attack there. And France’s strict gun control didn’t stop the two attacks in Paris, committed with fully-automatic rifles and grenades.

Repeating the same thing but expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. Law-abiding gun owners are tired of being blamed for the acts of madmen and terrorists. Semi-automatics are the most popular firearms sold in America for sport-shooting, hunting and self-defense.” [USAToday]

Heck, Hardy, and Heller have accepted NRA donations, and thus we’d have to assume they adhere to the arguments set forth by the NRA – logical flaws and all.

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The line that criminals (or terrorists) are not deterred by gun control laws is getting a bit stale.  Bank robbers aren’t deterred by laws designed to prevent robberies, but we have them on the books so that those violating the laws will be prosecuted.  Gun safety regulations are just that; laws designed to keep people safer – from successful suicides, assaults with these deadly weapons, and terrorist attacks.

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There is nothing quite so illogical as setting up an impossible standard and then insisting that all legislation perfectly meet that Impossibility. No law prevents all murders, all robberies, all auto thefts, or even all terrorist attacks, BUT doing nothing isn’t really a viable option.   Again, banning the sale of sliding side cribs for infants will not prevent all infant deaths, but it has prevented some, and for that we should be grateful.  We don’t ban all toys, but we don’t allow the sale of lawn darts which killed a handful of people and injured a few thousand.  The idea isn’t that we will be Perfectly Safe, but that we will be SAFER if military style weapons and high capacity magazines are not available to every single individual in America.

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Yes, expecting a different result from the same action is silly – however, the point is that we haven’t taken ANY action to curtail the proliferation of military style weaponry in civilian hands.  In fact, we’ve done the reverse.  There are at least 70 instances in which state legislatures have weakened gun safety law since the Sandy Hook massacre. [HuffPo] Congress, as is relatively obvious, hasn’t enacted any measures related to keeping Americans safer – none.

So, let’s turn this argument around.  The NRA pleads that what we have done since Sandy Hook hasn’t made us any safer.  True – we’ve weakened laws on the books, and the Congress has done nothing; therefore, expecting our environments to be safer is “expecting to do the same things and expecting to get another result.”

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The “poor me” gun owners argument is also getting bromidic.  No one is “blaming” those “responsible gun owners” for attacks in San Bernardino, Orlando, Charlestown, Blacksburg, Fort Hood, and Aurora…

Indeed, these were carried out by the deadly delusional among us. The real question is WHY we continue to countenance the easy sale and distribution of deadly weapons, regardless of the hands unto which they are committed?

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Semi-automatics are the most popular firearm sold in America,”  is NOT an argument for believing that continuing to do nothing will make us all safer.  Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup for Babies was a very popular product in the 19th century, and indeed it would sooth those teething little critters – with the 65 mg of morphine per fluid ounce.  To Mrs. Winslow’s concoction we might add Lloyd Manufacturing’s Cocaine Toothache Drops, Kimball’s White Pine and Tar Cough Syrup, and Laudanum – the latter being exceptionally popular.  Merely because an item is “popular” doesn’t mean it is a wholesome, safe, and generally useful product.

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Military style weapons are for military and law enforcement use. Period. Yes, a person could “go hunting” with an AR-15, but why? Most hunters use sporting rifles and shotguns so as not to “mess up the meat.”  At the risk of repeating myself – a person might use an AR-15 for hunting especially if the individual is of the type inclined to use a D8 Cat to move a bag of potting soil.  As far as home defense goes – just who do they think is going to show up?    Granted my marksmanship leaves a lot to be desired, but if I haven’t hit the “target” with my first couple of shots what would make me believe that I will do any more damage with the next 30 rounds? Except perhaps to complete the total “air-conditioning” of my living room?  I don’t expect a small army of burglars. I expect that statistics will hold that most burglars operate alone and unarmed.  The odds are against my ever needing a high capacity magazine attached to a highly lethal weapon – so why bother with the purchase?

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All too often when the smoke clears from a tragic shooting we find that the motives of the shooters were a complex mix of mental illness, delusional thinking, personal issues, political ideologies, and were far more complicated than simply ascribing blame to a singular causal factor.  However much the NRA wants to believe that Orlando was exclusively a terrorist attack, and however much Daesh would like to claim it, the shooter’s ideation remains cloudy – was it homophobic? Was it terroristic? Was it both? What other factors may have been involved? Was it a dramatic version of suicide-by-cop going down in a blaze of glory when his life was falling apart?  We don’t know much at this point and we may not know much more later in the investigations.  What we do know is that it didn’t take all that much effort for him to purchase all the firepower he needed to implement his irrational plan.

Questions

To those Federal candidates and office holders like Hardy, Heck, and Heller:

1. Do you believe that anyone should be allowed to purchase a high capacity magazine for a military style weapon which can be easily modified to function as an automatic weapon?

2. Do you believe that military style weapons should be readily available in the marketplace for civilian use?

3. Do you believe that simply because we can’t prevent every tragic loss of life to suicide, homicide, or assaults that we should do nothing to alleviate the situation?

4. Do you believe that individuals who can’t pass a background check should be able to purchase guns at a gun show?

5. Do you believe  that persons who are adjudicated mentally ill, have a history of spousal abuse, or who are on “no-fly” lists should be allowed to purchase military style weapons and high capacity magazines?

Perhaps instead of taking the NRA’s nihilistic approach – there’s nothing we can do – we ought to be discussing how we can implement a general policy based on the concept that every little bit helps, and that doing Something is  preferable to doing Nothing.

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Filed under Gun Issues, Heck, Heller, Nevada politics, Politics