The GOP is eating their own

Gun Rights

— MAGA Mike Johnson says there’s no need for gun laws cuz we still use cars… Yesterday I wrote about how virtually every Republican policy position, from climate change to education to healthcare and guns, is driven by either the hope for campaign funds from billionaires and industries or the fear that those funds will be used against them in a primary.

Thursday night, MAGA Mike Johnson, our new Speaker of the House, proved my point. After a slaughter of people in Lewiston, Maine that was so grizzly that it caused Maine Democratic Congressman Jared Golden to apologize to his constituents for having been in the pocket of the firearms industry all these years, MAGA Mike, however, was holding true to the NRA talking points. All we need is prayer: there’s no need to do anything about guns, because cars still kill people. Seriously.

“At the end of the day,” he told Sean Hannity, “the problem is the human heart. It’s not guns. It’s not the weapons.” Problems of the “heart,” of course, is just another way of saying that it’s not the guns, it’s the terribly sick, mentally ill shooters. As if other countries that have a fraction of our mass shootings (or none at all) don’t have mentally ill people, too. But just ignore all those dead children: after all, cars kill, too.

“You know,” MAGA Mike added, “in Europe and in other places, they use vehicles to mow down crowds at parades.

They’ve done that here in the United States. It’s not the weapon that’s the underlying problem. I believe we have to address the root problems of these things and mental health obviously, as in this case, is a big issue…” Does that mean that Republicans now want to re-open the mental health facilities that Reagan shut down, triggering America’s first modern homelessness crisis? Silly rabbit: of course not. It’s just the usual GOP BS, pre-written by the weapons industry as they pour more cash into Republican coffers.

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Did you know that last quarter we had “blockbuster” GDP growth running at 4.9%? Now that Bidenomics has shifted our economy — or at least a fair part of it — away from neoliberal Reaganomics and back to FDR’s old fashioned real economic policies, the economy just won’t quit. Republican Fed Chair Powell is doing everything he can to produce a recession, but we still had 4.9% annualized growth last quarter.

In the first three decades after WWII America was consistently running a bit over 3% annual GDP growth; when Reagan shifted us to Reaganomics, that slid down into the 2% annual range through the next four decades. Today we’re back to a rip-roaring economy. Now, if somebody would just let the news media know…

— Will Dean Phillips upset the campaign or will he be marginalized? Minnesota Democratic Congressman Dean Phillips is in New Hampshire this weekend to enter the Democratic primary against President Biden. Phillips is a multimillionaire businessman who generally votes with Biden, although he’s also a member of the “on the take” Problem Solvers caucus. That group is an outgrowth of the No Labels group that has raised some $70 million to field an independent candidate to pull votes away from Biden and put Trump back in the White House. My guess is that Phillips is “Plan B,” whether he realizes it or not.

— The GOP is eating their own: Matt Gaetz outs a gay Republican congressman. My colleague on SiriusXM, Michelangelo Signorile, tells the amazing story in his brilliant Signorile Report newsletter about Matt Gaetz outing Republican Rep. Jason Smith.

Gaetz was all bent out of shape because Smith had attacked him for destroying Kevin McCarthy’s speakership and used his podcast to pointedly out his colleague. “Jason Smith says if my lips are moving,” Gaetz told his audience, “I’m lying. Well, you know what? If Jason Smith is breathing, he is living a lie.

There might not be another member of Congress who lives a lie every day more than Jason Smith. And Jason Smith knows exactly what I’m talking about. And by the way, so does almost every member of the House Republican caucus.” Smith has a virtual 100 percent anti-gay voting record, having vigorously supported every hateful effort to trash queer people floated by the GOP over the past decade, but, as you can read at Signorile’s newsletter, it’s a virtual certainty he’s gay. Will this end his career? Will he retaliate against Gaetz? Most important, it appears that however it shakes out, this is one more sign that there’s an internecine war going on within the GOP that’s showing no signs of abating any day soon. Pass the popcorn…

—Why don’t the judges threaten Trump with jail time now? One judge has hit Trump with two fines, one for $5,000 and the second for $10,000, for violating a gag order forbidding him from trash-talking employees of the court. Another judge is looking at similar sanctions. But no other criminal defendant in America could get away with the things Trump has said and done — from disparaging the judge to threatening witnesses — and stay out of jail.

So, why hasn’t anybody thrown him in the clink for at least one overnight stay? My take is that they’re all afraid of him. Mitt Romney, in his new biography, tells how a decisive group of Republican senators refused to vote to impeach Trump — even though they thought he was guilty and a poison to America — because they were afraid his followers would threaten or harm their families. This was exactly the strategy both Hitler and Mussolini used to intimidate the German and Italian judiciary and politicians in the 1920s and 1930s: it’s called fascism.

Hopefully, one of these judges will find the courage to defy Trump’s well-armed legions and do what’s right.

— Why do auto execs think that EVs are not working? Both GM and Ford are seeing their inventory of electric vehicles build up and are thus cutting back on production. Part of the problem is that with car loan interest rates going sky-high people just can’t afford to buy new cars, particularly on the higher end of the market. But range anxiety is also a very real thing: our electric charging infrastructure has a long way to go before America’s roads are truly EV friendly. If you’re thinking of buying an EV (which is a super-easy decision if you have a garage where you can charge it without fearing the charger will get stolen), now is a great time: car dealers are beginning to seriously discount some of their EVs.

— Is the Koch network all about getting the “right” cases to the Supreme Court? When most Americans think of organized groups working to get rightwing cases before the Supreme Court, they think of the so-called Christian groups trying to end legal abortion and birth control. But the Koch network, floating on a sea of fossil fuel money, apparently has their own agenda: shutting down America’s regulatory agencies.

Two cases are heading to SCOTUS this term from Koch-aligned groups that could overturn what’s called the “Chevron deference,” a former ruling that certified regulatory agencies like the EPA as fully constitutional. It’s no secret why fossil fuel, banking, insurance, and chemical executives would want to end those pesky regulations that protect consumers and the environment, but the big question here is whether there will be five or more votes on the Court to actually pull it off. It’s a high-stakes bet, and if the Koch network succeeds America will become a very, very different place.

Speaking of the Supreme Court, it appears that the quarter-million-dollar loan a wealthy healthcare baron gave Clarence Thomas to buy a luxury super-bus was never repaid. If the loan was cancelled, Thomas should have listed the money as a gift and paid income taxes on it; if it was never executed in the first place but the bus was simply a gift, then Thomas’ friend owed gift taxes to the IRS. In either case, it appears that the statute of limitations has expired. But the stench of corruption that surrounds Thomas pretty much everywhere he goes will never go away. If ever there was a Supreme Court justice worthy of impeachment, it’s him.

Exposed: the Dangers in Viewing ADHD as a “Disorder.” There’s a history of people identified as “defective” or “disordered” being “weeded out” of society. It has ranged from segregation and isolation to forced sterilization to outright genocide…

— Geeky Science – Here’s the best “pill” to keep cancer at bay. In an amazing study of 12,000 adults diagnosed with cancer, researchers discovered that people who exercised for a half-hour or more every day after their diagnosis had a 25 percent reduced chance of dying and a lifespan that ran five years longer than their non-exercising peers. You don’t have to join a gym: just walking a mile or two every day will do it. The study is really worth a read: you can find The Guardian article about it here.

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