Thursday, February 18, 2016

American Idiot (s)

His Holiness gets medieval on the Donald
My decision to use the term "American Idiot" as the title for tonight's blog has absolutely nothing to do with the title of the Grammy-winning musical of the same name by the band Green Day.

After witnessing so many examples of outright buffoonery by members of the Republican party this week, I can't think of a more appropriate term to describe the shenanigans being perpetrated by members of the "Party of No".

Where to begin?

It's been while since I've given out a George Lincoln Rockwell Award, but this week's hands-down winner has to be Donald Trump.

The astronomically-conceited leading Republican presidential bigot candidate showed his presidential chops earlier in the week when he visited right-wing talk radio host Michael Savage's show on Monday to lend credence to the baseless loony insinuation being bandied about by extremist conservatives that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was murdered.

Despite reports from federal marshals (who actually saw the body) that the 79-year-old Scalia died of natural causes related to a serious heart condition he'd had for years, right-wing conspiracy nuts have evidently confused reality with the plot of The Pelican Brief.

Trump's proof? As reported by Caitlin Yilek on on Monday, Trump told Savage:

"...I'm hearing it's a big topic. But they say they found a pillow on his face, which is a pretty unusual place to find a pillow." 

Case solved Columbo!

Pope Francis offers his take on Trump's spirituality
But as you've likely heard, Trump once again distinguished himself as a petulant clown-child today by getting into a war of words with Pope Francis after His Holiness told reporters during a conversation on the plane ride home that: 

"A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not of building bridges, is not a Christian. This is not the Gospel."

Having served the Catholic Church for 47 years, it's fair to say Pope Francis knows a little bit about what it means to be Christian.

Versus Trump, who famously reduced the sacred act of communion on the campaign trail last year by insisting, "I drink my little wine, and eat my little crackers." - like some kind of buffoonish simpleton 12-year-old; no doubt that sat well with the Vatican.

After the Holy Father's words went viral around the globe, Trump responded with a series of typically nonsensical responses, but a statement like that from the Pope isn't going to be erased from the minds of the millions of American evangelicals Trump hopes to woo.

And the message, that the Pope thinks Trump is far from presidential material, couldn't be any clearer.

The message to thousands of voters in the state of Wisconsin was pretty clear too after the state's local primary elections held on Tuesday offered the first glimpse of how the new voter ID laws implemented by Governor Scott Walker and the majority-Republican state legislature.

Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker 
As Alice Ollstein reported in an article for yesterday, across the state some veterans were unable to cast votes because Wisconsin's laws do not consider a valid Military ID card, or a federal Veterans Administration card with a photo to be acceptable forms of ID to vote.

Some college students in different cities were turned away from the polls after presenting valid out of state driver's licenses.

Back in March of 2015, the American Civil Liberties Union petitioned the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin to expand the types of voter ID's the state can accept to permit residents to cast votes (including military ID's), but Judge Lynn Adelman (a Bill Clinton appointee) denied the ACLU request.

Leave it to Wisconsin Republicans to create a law that will prevent a veteran of the U.S. military from voting because his VA card isn't valid ID - all to protect against almost non-existent voter fraud.

Voter rights advocates are rightfully concerned about how those laws will affect turnout in the upcoming April 5th presidential primary. Outrageous.

Disastrous Republican Governor Sam Brownback 
But across the country in Kansas, where Republican Governor Sam Brownback and his Republican-majority state legislature have plunged the state into socioeconomic turmoil by passing a series of draconian cuts to government spending to finance tax cuts so lavish the state has virtually eliminated some taxes on business completely.

For example, back in April, 2015, I blogged about Brownback enacting almost Orwellian restrictions on how Kansas welfare recipients could spend the modest sums they receive; including limiting cash withdrawals from the state-issued debit card to $25 at a time, subjecting already economically disadvantaged residents to excessive per-transaction fees given that many lower class and poor Kansas residents have limited access to normal banking services and most ATM's don't allow withdrawals in $5 denominations.

Well the Kansas Supreme Court affirmed an appeals court decision that the Republican state legislature had violated Constitutionally-mandated equitable funding for public schools after they switched from a per-pupil formula used to determine public school funding, to a block grant system.

Last Thursday the state Supreme Court ruled that Republican's actions had undercut funding for poorer public school districts by an astounding $54 million, and ordered the legislature to come up with a revised funding formula by June 30th.

As Edward Eveld reported for The Kansas City Star last week, the court ruled that "without a constitutionally equitable school finance system, the schools in Kansas will be unable to operate beyond June 30th," 

Between Trump giving legitimacy to bizarre conspiracy theories about some kind of liberal plot to kill Antonin Scalia, Wisconsin's voter suppression and the massive unequivocal failure of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback's use of the state as some kind of "laboratory" for fringe right-wing ideas that bankrupt  government services to enrich the wealthiest few at the expense of public school education - it's like a parade of American idiocy.

As the presidential primaries move into larger states with more diverse populations that accurately reflect the American populace and mainstream thinking, let's hope that like Pope Francis, voters begin to see today's Republican party for what it is.

A party that wants to burn bridges instead of building them.

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