Friday, June 16, 2017

Republican's Steve Scalise Moment

Shooter James T. Hodgkinson 
Make no mistake, violence against innocent people in any form is wrong in a modern civilized society.

But violence fueled by ideological and political differences in a democracy rooted in a Constitution that holds the Freedom of Expression as one of the pillars on which the foundation of the country is built?

That's a threat to the values most Americans consider sacred, regardless of one's political views.

As we've learned over the past 48 hours, 66-year-old James T. Hodgkinson was opposed to, and upset by Donald Trump and the policies of the Republican Party.

As are millions of people here in the United States and around the globe; evidenced by reports that White House officials are considering cancelling or delaying his visit to London.

But not liking Trump, or the policies of the Republican Party for that matter, doesn't give Hodgkinson or anyone else a right to use a gun to shoot people.

Now I certainly hope that Louisiana Republican Congressman Steve Scalise recovers from the serious gunshot wound to the hip that he received in Alexandria, Virginia on Wednesday morning.

But after watching and listening to a number of Republican politicians react to the shooting in Virginia over the past couple days, I think it's really important to remember that Republicans themselves bear a huge responsibility for the incendiary political rhetoric in this nation since the election of President Obama in 2008 - to say nothing of their efforts to block gun control laws.

The last time I blogged about Steve Scalise was on New Year's Eve back in 2014.

This was after the 3rd most powerful man in Congress made headlines after a blogger trolling through the white supremacist Website Stormfront uncovered posts revealing that Scalise had attended and spoken at an event in 2002 which, as reported in a article by Ian Millhiser:

"was hosted by an organization called the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, or EURO, which was founded by David Duke, a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan."

As Millhiser reported, during the white supremacist rally Scalise railed against "graft" in the Department of Housing and Urban Development and tried to characterize it as "an apparent give-away to a selective group based on race." 

So basically Congressman Stevie was caught flagrantly tapping the subconscious fears and racial prejudices of the Republican base by using the tried and true Republican rallying cry that "Black people are getting free stuff" (of course the billions in corporate oil subsidies that Scalise helped doll out in Louisiana over the years are exempt from his righteous indignation over government waste.)

Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise
So it's a bit ironic that the two Capitol Police officers who were wounded saving his life were both African-American.

One of those brave officers is Crystal Griner, a lesbian who's married to her wife Tiffany.

Did she refuse to do her job even though back in 2009 Scalise voted against enforcing laws against anti-gay hate crimes?

No, she did what she was trained to do and put her own life on the line to protect Scalise.

Despite the fact that he's spent no small portion of his political career trying to pass laws that discriminate against same-sex couples.

In fact, as an article posted on the DailyKos yesterday reported, Scalise authored a constitutional amendment to "protect marriage" in May of 2008, and voted to amend the Constitution to define "traditional marriage" a month later.

Crystal Griner was shot in the ankle trying to save the gay-bashing Scalise, so I wonder what she would think of the fact that in 2013 Congressman Stevie was one of the 138 Republican House members who voted no to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act?

From what I've read, listened to and watched in the news the past couple days Republican politicians were genuinely and understandably shaken by this incident, some members of the House reportedly want to move their local Congressional offices to court buildings to protect them from the same shooters that are empowered to access guns because of Republican opposition to reasonable gun control law.

Yet remarkably, they still don't seem to be able to reconcile their being shills of the National Rifle Association and the gun lobby with the terrible toll that gun violence continues to take on people in this country.

Capitol Police heroes David Bailey & Crystal Griner 
A toll that's not unique to Alexandria either.

According to statistics compiled by, James T Hodgkinson's unprovoked attack on Wednesday morning against members of the House Republican baseball team was just one of approximately 157 mass shootings in the United States this year.

And of course the response by Trump to this tragedy is actually laughable.

Particularly considering that one of the first executive orders he signed after being sworn into office was to reverse the executive order put into place by the Obama administration after the San Bernardino shooting in 2015 that ordered the Social Security Administration to provide the records of mentally disabled people who'd applied for SSA benefits to the database used by the FBI to verify that someone is eligible to purchase a firearm.

One of Trump's first actions was to use his authority to weaken a federal rule that might have made it harder for someone like James T Hodgkinson to get a gun in the first place.

So all of his weepy public boo-hooing about the seriousness of Scalise's wounds and his photo-op 
trip to the hospital to visit the wounded Congressman in the hospital ring pretty hollow to me.

Is he really as concerned about the aftermath of gun violence as he wants us to think he is?

Then maybe he ought to use some of that bluster and bombastic energy he's used to level bogus accusations that the current investigations being conducted by House and Senate committees as well as the independent special counsel Robert Mueller are all "phony", into passing some meaningful gun control legislation.

Remember folks, on the day that this attack took place Congress was scheduled to debate a Republican bill that would have made it easier to transport silencers across state lines and ease restrictions on ammunition that pierces body armor - think about that for a moment.

All these Republican legislators on the federal and state level enamored with the 2nd Amendment who are now going through their "Steve Scalise Moment", politicians who've consistently worked to weaken and even eliminate gun control laws that protect people, don't seem to understand that people like James Hodgkinson don't just use firearms to shoot innocent people because they're crazy.

They do it because in America they can.

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