The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag: mitch mcconnell

Extremist Supreme Court Nullifies States Authority To Regulate Guns

When Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was confronted over his support for the bipartisan bill addressing elements of gun violence, he defended his Second Amendment record, telling reporters: “I spent my career supporting, defending and expanding” gun rights, and stressing that he had “spent years” confirming conservative judges. McConnell made that statement in full confidence that the Supreme Court he packed with three illegitimate justices would do precisely what it did: ensure that sensible gun regulations anywhere would be eliminated.

The court decided the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen case Thursday in 6-3 decision written by Justice Clarence Thomas, striking down that state’s 108-year-old provision requiring anyone who wants to get a license to carry a concealed handgun outside the home to show “proper cause” before being granted a permit. The Court’s extremists, Thomas writes, find that New York's strict limits on the concealed carry of firearms in public violates the Second Amendment. It essentially throws out the previous restrictions the Court upheld in its last big gun control case, the 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller.




In his concurrence, Alito essentially rubbed salt in the wound, snidely asking “And how does the dissent account for the fact that one of the mass shootings near the top of its list took place in Buffalo? The New York law at issue in this case obviously did not stop that perpetrator.”


Justice Stephen Breyer provides a lengthy dissent, including a comprehensive retelling of the mass deaths in an age when weapons of war are widely available to all citizens. “The primary difference between the Court's view and mine is that I believe the [Second] Amendment allows States to take account of the serious problems posed by gun violence that I have just described,” he writes. “I fear that the Court's interpretation ignores these significant dangers and leaves States without the ability to address them.”

The decision could mean as many as 20,000 more guns on the streets in New York City. The city is working to determine how to craft new rules to meet this outcome, and how to designate certain areas, including public transportation, as “sensitive places” to try to bar firearms.

“It’s gonna be a complete disaster and shows how anti-urban the Supreme Court is at foundation,” Metropolitan Transportation Authority board member Norman Brown predicted. “This is both a practical fear and a marketing fear. How do you market the train if you are assuming the guy with the heavy coat has a gun under his?” Brown said.

That’s exactly the scenario Justice Samuel Alito raised in oral arguments on the case. But he was imagining a subway system teeming with armed criminals against whom the rest of the population was defenseless. “All these people with illegal guns: They’re on the subway, walking around the streets, but ordinary, hard-working, law-abiding people, no,” Alito told New York State Solicitor General Barbara Underwood. “They can’t be armed.” The reality will be closer to Brown’s supposition: Those ordinary, law-abiding people are going to be worried about being surrounded by guns.

The decision also sets up challenges to regulations in every state that has them, including immediate those in six other states: California, New Jersey, Maryland, Hawaii, and Massachusetts. In fact, the decision is so broad that the concealed carry restrictions that protect some 83 million people are going to be wiped out.

“How the court interprets the Second Amendment is far from an abstract exercise,” Eric Tirschwell of Everytown for Gun Safety, an advocacy group, told The Washington Post. “If the court forces New York to allow more people to carry guns in public, the result will be more people shot and more people killed, and that’s what the evidence and social science tells you.”

A belligerent gun rights community is there to make sure that other blue states are forced to buckle and loosen permit rules. “If they don’t do that,” said Matthew Larosiere, with the Firearms Policy Coalition, “we’ll certainly be suing them.” He foresees the states trying to preempt those suits. “Perhaps there will be a state or two on the West Coast that doesn’t want to do this and we will insist that they be dragged to court,” he said. “That’s something we’d rather avoid as it’s better to have people’s rights respected.”

Which sounds an awful lot like a threat, one that has the potential to rile up a lot of gun owners in these states who are feeling increasingly emboldened.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

South Carolina GOP Candidate Vows To Execute McConnell And Graham For ‘Treason’

Mark Burns, an unabashed Christian nationalist MAGA pastor who is running for Congress in South Carolina, declared that if he is elected, he will reinstate the House Un-American Activities Committee so that the government can “start executing people” guilty of treason. Who does Burns believe is guilty of treason? Republican Sens. Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham whose supposed crime is potentially supporting some gun control measures, and LGBTQ-supporting parents and teachers.

During an appearance on “The Stew Peters Show” Wednesday, Burns was asked by guest host Lauren Witzke what he would do to fight “LGBTQ indoctrination” if elected to Congress. Burns replied that the LGBTQ agenda represents “a national security threat” and therefore anyone promoting it is guilty of treason and should be executed.

"I vote to make sure that those parents be held for child abuse,” Burns said. “There is no such thing as trans kids, there are only abusive parents who are pushing that evil, evil sexual orientation onto their child’s mind.”


"I want to make sure that those parents have been held accountable,” he continued. “We should start putting some of those parents in jail for abusing their child’s minds. Especially in the school system, any teacher that is teaching that LGBT, transgenderism, furries, the groomers, any sexual orientation communication in the school system should be immediately terminated but [teachers should also] be held for abusing young children.”

Burns then declared that the current situation in the United States is “Nazi Germany all over again,” claiming that students today are being “indoctrinated” just as they were by the Nazis to become “future stormtroopers” and members of “the hit squads, the murder squads.”

"They were indoctrinating those young minds then; they are doing the very same thing here in America,” Burns said. “The LGBT, transgender grooming our children’s minds is a national security threat because it is ultimately designed to destabilize the republic we call the United States of America. That’s why when I’m elected, I don’t want to just vote, I want to start holding people accountable for treason to the Constitution.”

"I am going to push to reenact HUAC, the House Un-American Activities Committee,” Burns vowed. “It is a committee that we should reenact that starts holding these people accountable for treason. Lindsey Graham should be held accountable for treason for supporting Joe Biden’s gun-grabbing Second Amendment law that he’s trying to push forward. … Mitch McConnell just [urged] other Republican senators to support Lindsey Graham to come after our guns, to confiscate our guns. That should be held for treason.”

“We need to hold people for treason, start having some public hearings, and start executing people who are found guilty for their treasonous acts against the Constitution of the United States of America, just like they did back in 1776,” Burns proclaimed.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

McConnell: Senate Will Vote Wednesday On $40 Billion Ukraine Aid Package

(Reuters) -- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Sunday that he expects the Senate to vote on Wednesday to approve about $40 billion in proposed aid to help Ukraine resist Russia's invasion, after holding a related procedural vote on Monday.

"We expect to invoke cloture -- hopefully by a significant margin -- on the motion to proceed on Monday, which would set us up to approve the supplemental on Wednesday," McConnell told reporters on a conference call from Stockholm after visiting the Ukrainian capital on Saturday. He was referring to a procedural "cloture" vote that caps further debate on a matter at 30 hours.

President Joe Biden requested $33 billion in aid for Ukraine on April 28, including over $20 billion in military assistance. The U.S. House of Representatives boosted the sum to roughly $40 billion, adding more military and humanitarian aid.

Speaking from the capital of Sweden, which along with Finland plans to seek membership in NATO, McConnell voiced strong support for both countries joining the 30-member Western military alliance created to deter Soviet aggression.

"They have very capable militaries, both of them," McConnell said. "They will be important additions to NATO if they choose to join, and I think the United States ought to be first in line to ratify the treaty for both these countries to join."

(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed in St.Paul, Minnesota, and Doina Chiacu in Washington; editing by Matthew Lewis and Jonathan Oatis)

The Sordid History Behind Rick Scott's Medicare Mess

In Washington, acrimonious public disagreements among congressional leaders of the same party are unusual, which was why reporters took note not long ago when Sen. Mitch McConnell publicly spanked Sen. Rick Scott for what he considered an act of monumental stupidity.

What infuriated the Senate minority leader, who yearns above all to become the majority leader again, was Scott's unveiling of a 60-page "plan" describing what the Republicans will do if and when their party regains the majority. As chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Scott's job is to ensure victory in the November midterm by doling out tens of millions to candidates.

But McConnell saw Scott's plan as the equivalent of a loud emission of noxious gas: unpleasant, unhelpful, and very much to be avoided. McConnell has steadfastly refused to state what Republicans would do if they win the Senate; now, the lunkhead Rick Scott has let the cat out of the bag.

Especially irksome to McConnell were two aspects of Scott's blueprint. "Let me tell you what would not be part of our agenda," snapped McConnell. "We will not have, as part of our agenda, a bill that raises taxes on half the American people and sunsets Social Security and Medicare within five years. That will not be part of the Republican Senate majority agenda."

Of course, McConnell just doesn't want to tell voters what his party will do, because their ideas are deeply unpopular and always get them in trouble, like when Newt Gingrich proposed privatizing Medicare and former President George W. Bush proposed privatizing Social Security.

Scott's scheme to raise income taxes on most households struck McConnell as politically insane, and so did the plan's endorsement of allowing "all federal legislation," including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, to simply expire within five years.

Scott, for his part, has portrayed himself as a "bold" visionary victimized by conventional thinkers. Polling, however, indicates that the Scott scheme is profoundly unpopular among all voters, including Republicans, with majorities north of 65% rejecting it. No more than 15% like it.

So, the Florida senator has simply lied since then.

"No one that I know of wants to sunset Medicare or Social Security," he insists, although that's exactly what his plan urges.Perhaps McConnell was too polite to mention the other utterly politically crazy aspect of the Scott proposal: namely, the likelihood that attacking Medicare and Medicaid will remind America about the massive health care fraud underlying Rick Scott's enormous personal fortune, estimated at $300 million.

Beginning in 1987, Scott founded and built Columbia/HCA, a hospital chain that included hundreds of health care providers across multiple states and engorged itself on billions in Medicare and Medicaid fees. Unfortunately, this lucrative business involved truly gigantic levels of fraud, which by early 1997 drew the attention of federal investigators. Columbia/HCA illegally scammed billions of dollars intended for patient care, perpetrating what remains the biggest fraud on government ever by any health care institution.

The company's board forced Scott to resign within months after the federal investigation became public. He pleaded ignorance, barely escaped indictment and walked away with vast wealth. He claims to have accepted "responsibility," although he consistently blamed others, adding piously that the experience "made me a better leader."

Somehow, Florida's voters narrowly elected him governor in 2010 and then to the U.S. Senate in 2018. The words of his 2010 primary opponent Bill McCollum, a former Navy prosecutor and Florida attorney general, still ring true. During the campaign McCollum denounced Scott as "the disgraced former CEO of Columbia/HCA who is inseparably associated with one of the most massive Medicare fraud schemes in American history."

Scott's sordid narrative raises an obvious question. How did this come to pass? We know that Florida voters have a habit of electing some truly awful politicians, and that Scott spent $60 million to win his first election. We know that Republican leaders in Washington have no problem with fraud or corruption, so long as it accrues to their own power. Just ask "Moscow Mitch," who was in the tank for Oleg Deripaska, a sanctioned Russian oligarch with Kentucky investments. We know that the Republican concern for ensuring the fairness and stability of our health care system is nil, given their long war against Medicare and, more recently, the Affordable Care Act. Now, they won't even act to reduce the cost of lifesaving insulin.

Voters should be aware that this corporate malefactor is in charge of handing out the big campaign bucks from the Senate Republican campaign — and that he aims to destroy the nation's most successful and popular domestic programs. Somebody better tell them before November. Buyer beware.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Senate Republicans Insist They Won't Ban Abortion, Despite McConnell Gaffe

For decades, Republicans have assailed pro-abortion Supreme Court rulings — for instance, 1973’s Roe v. Wade and 1992’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey, among others -- but with the end of Roe reportedly imminent, conservative Congressional representatives are quickly dialing back their anti-abortion rhetoric, fearing public reaction could cost them in the midterms.

Despite secretly meeting with leading anti-abortion activists to brainstorm plans for a federal ban on abortions nationwide, GOP lawmakers were quick to dismiss Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s weekend suggestion that the party could soon turn its sights to enacting a total abortion ban.

"I don't think it's really an appropriate topic for Congress to be passing a national law on," said Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), according to CNN.

Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), a religious rightist, echoed Cornyn, telling Newsweek, "No, I don't support a federal ban on abortion after Roe vs. Wade, if it's overturned in the first instance."

Hawley added, "I think it would be better for states to debate this, allow it to breathe and for Congress to act where there's national consensus."

Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), the third-ranking Senate Republican, noted that the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion suggested that states should regulate abortion. "I want to see the states have that opportunity and the authority to do so," Barrasso said when asked for his thoughts on a potential federal abortion ban.

Republicans in Congress are trying to keep focus trained on inflation, crime, and border security, as recent polls show that most Americans oppose national legislation to ban abortion. So they want to talk about almost anything else.

“You need — it seems to me, excuse the lecture — to concentrate on what the news is today,” McConnell himself said last Tuesday. “Not a leaked draft but the fact that the draft was leaked.”

Last week, in an interview with USA Today, McConnell promised that Republicans, if they win back the Senate, won’t scrap the filibuster for a total abortion ban by a simple majority vote.

"If the leaked opinion became the final opinion, legislative bodies — not only at the state level but at the federal level — certainly could legislate in that area," the minority leader told the paper. "And if this were the final decision, that was the point that it should be resolved one way or another in the legislative process. So yeah, it's possible."

However, McConnell dodged questions from CNN on whether he’d bring an abortion bill to the floor of a Republican-controlled Senate.

Democrats immediately decried McConnell’s abortion ban suggestion, and GOP lawmakers, sensing a rapidly spreading wave of public outrage at attempts to overturn abortion rights, have expressed little interest in it or noted that there wouldn’t be enough votes to enact such a ban.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) played down the notion his party would have the votes for a total national abortion ban. "It's about as possible as this vote we will take on Wednesday," Graham told CNN, referring to an upcoming Democratic effort to codify in federal law .

"Let's see what happens. I'm not going to get into what-ifs," Senator Shelley Moore Capito said, declining an opportunity to weigh in on the matter.

Senator John Thune (R-SD) declared his support for an abortion ban with exceptions, but noted that his stand might not be a consensus within his party. "That's my personal position," Thune said. "That's certainly not a caucus position. I don't think we have any idea at this point about any of that."

Despite sudden Republican back-pedaling on abortion, Democrats have signaled their intention to use the looming Supreme Court ruling to ask voters to punish Republicans in November.

The 'Great Cuckold' Who Inspired Alito's Contemptuous Opinion

Think about it this way: If Justice Samuel Alito gets his way, and the Trumpist Supreme Court majority voids Roe vs. Wade, many states will be forced to begin criminal investigations of women who suffer miscarriages. Don’t give me that crying act, sweetheart. In this state, abortion is murder.

After all, it’s not as if the police have anything better to do.

Exactly how the authorities are supposed to know who’s pregnant to begin with is a tricky question. Maybe doctors will be required to turn them in. Call them “mandatory reporters,” like teachers who encounter child abuse.

And what about those home pregnancy tests? Maybe they’ll need to be taken under official supervision. Perhaps pharmacists can be deputized.

Hippocratic Oath be damned.

In the spirit of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, Republican state legislators are considering prosecuting women who travel, say, from Missouri to Illinois for legal abortions. Can we expect Texas to administer pregnancy tests at the Mexican border—going and coming? Otherwise, there could be as many gynecologists as cut-rate dentists in Juarez.

Look, if all this sounds like a bad joke, I wish it were. Most Americans believe that there’s a right to privacy in the U.S. Constitution. The very austere Justice Alito, however, assures us that’s not so. His draft opinion overturning Roe vs. Wade, the 50-year-old Supreme Court precedent granting American women reproductive freedom, astringently points out that the word “abortion” does not appear in the text.

Of course, neither do the words “cellphone” or “woman.” Women participated in the Constitution’s, pardon the expression, gestation not at all. They played no role in 18th century American political life—one of the many reasons Constitutional “originalism” makes so little sense. Slavery too.

The overall tone of Alito’s draft opinion was best described by Adam Serwer in The Atlantic: "Alito’s writing reflects the current tone of right-wing discourse: grandiose and contemptuous, disingenuous and self-contradictory, with the necessary undertone of self-pity as justification."

In my view, turning government over to law school all-stars was never a good idea. Rationalizing the irrational is what they do. Indeed, I suspect Alito himself is as good a suspect as any for who leaked the fool thing to the media, placing maximum pressure on his colleagues to affirm it.

And speaking of irrationality, Alito’s 92-page opinion relies for much of its historical analysis on 17th century English jurist Matthew Hale, who pronounced the abortion of a “quick child” a “great crime.” (A “quick child” is a fetus whose mother can feel its movements, that is, five or six months along.) Polls show most Americans would agree, but more about that to come.

Among historians and legal scholars, Matthew Hale is notorious for having also decreed that a man can’t rape his wife, as a woman cedes property rights to her womb at marriage. He also presided over one of England’s most notorious witchcraft trials in 1662, sentencing two elderly widows to be hanged.

Some learned authority, no?

Hale's 17th century biographer John Aubrey wrote that the eminent jurist’s first wife “made a great cuckold of him,” but that’s neither here nor there, and I’m ashamed of myself for mentioning it. For whatever cause, he definitely had an attitude about women.

The main reason Americans think there’s a right to privacy is the Fourth Amendment, which affirms that “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.”

Think about it: What could possibly be a person’s own damn business more than the decision of whether or not to bear a child? Do you really want the government to monitor your neighbor's intimate life? Your own? If you’re like most Americans, no, you pretty much don’t.

So often in the forefront, Oklahoma has already imprisoned a woman who had a miscarriage after taking illegal drugs—a Native American woman, naturally. It’s hard to imagine them investigating debutantes.

Regardless, polls have shown that the great majority agrees with Bill Clinton’s formulation that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.” More than two-thirds of respondents told a 2018 Gallup poll that they wouldn’t like to see Roe v. Wade reversed. Most favor little or no restriction on first trimester abortion, but feel quite differently about late term procedures—pretty much the standard courts have established in the decades since 1973.

Now minority leader Mitch McConnell tells reporters that a post-Alito Republican Senate “certainly could legislate in that area.” Which can only mean, Michael Tomasky deduces in The New Republic, “that Republicans are contemplating a federal law to make abortion illegal—everywhere.”

New York, California, everywhere.

And what then? President Biden vetoes it, the 2024 presidential turns on it, and the USA ruins a lot of women’s lives and tears itself to pieces.

Johnson Is America's Most Unpopular Senator (Except For McConnell)

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) is deeply unpopular among his own constituents, according to a new poll released Monday. In fact, the only current senator with a lower approval rating is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has infamously blocked hundreds of popular pieces of legislation.

According to a Morning Consult Political Intelligence survey of all 50 states, just 37 percent of registered Wisconsin voters approve of Johnson, while 51 percent disapprove. The remaining 12 percent said they did not know or had no opinion.

This made him the second-most unpopular senator out of the 100 currently serving, after only McConnell; Kentucky voters disapprove of him by a 60 percent -- 33 percent margin.

Though Johnson's 37 percent approval rating in the poll is dismal, it is actually slightly higher than in other recent polling. Some recent surveys put his approval at 35 percent, while a March Marquette University Law School poll found him at just 33 percent support.

The Republican is currently seeking reelection to a third term, breaking a promise to serve no more than two.

He has refused to take responsibility for his unpopularity, claiming in January that it is all the news media's fault. "First of all, I'm not a polarizing figure. It's just that people in the legacy media call me one and all of a sudden, you become one. I'm not a polarizing figure at all. I'm just trying to convey the truth. I've done a really good job as Wisconsin's United States senator," he told Milwaukee television station WISN.

But in fact, he has been quite polarizing.

Johnson has come under fire in recent months for his votes to cut taxes for himself and his very rich donors while backing "most of" National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair Rick Scott's 11-point "Rescue America" proposal — which includes a large tax hike for more than 100 million lower-income and retired Americans — and fighting against efforts to make child care more affordable. In October, Johnson said that the top 1% of earners already pay "pretty close to a fair share."

He also has angered Wisconsin workers by refusing to even try to bring home good jobs. He backed a decision by Oshkosh Defense — a large Wisconsin-based manufacturing company and one of his largest campaign funders — to locate over 1,000 jobs in Spartanburg, South Carolina, instead of his state. Johnson said it was not his "job is not to micromanage a private company" and that putting the jobs in a different state would actually "benefit Wisconsin, Oshkosh, and Oshkosh workers."

"It's not like we don't have enough jobs here in Wisconsin," he told reporters in February. "I think when using federal tax dollars, you want to spend those in the most efficient way, and if it's more efficient, more effective to spend those in other states, I don't have a real problem with that."

Johnson has also refused to fight to locate jobs in the United States instead of abroad. Last month, he opposed federal funds to help the American microchip industry compete against China, indicating that he did not want to "have government picking the winners and losers."

President Joe Biden narrowly carried Wisconsin in the 2020 election. The Cook Political Report lists the 2022 Senate race as a toss-up.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.