Which Paper Tiger Folds First:  NRA, Walmart, Trump, or McConnell?

New Orleans     Unbelievably, President Trump was unable to stay on message even in the wake of the national tragedy of mass murder in El Paso and Dayton.  Only, Trump could make a day of mourning and the traditional post-disaster visit all about him and his sense of grievance and entitlement, rather than about the victims, their families, and communities.  He read from a statement that was on message, but couldn’t control either his mouth or his Twitter-finger.  He will pay for this lack of discipline and decorum and reap a whirlwind of disgust.

So, will the Republican Party.  If they hadn’t lost any prospects of a Latino vote before, they surely have lost it for a generation now from El Paso to immigrant-bashing to overt racism to mass workplace arrests in Mississippi with more to come to detention centers and child separation.  The only question may be whether the Party has lost votes for several generations rather than just this one where the memories – and wounds – are fresh.

What other paper tigers will fold?

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is hamstrung by internal conflict, board resignations, mass subpoenas of its board members, accusations of financial misdealing, and a wrenching power struggle.  No matter what they argue today, their voice has been reduced.  What politician would fear their wrath now or not weigh it against the red-hot rage of their own constituents?

Even the President in his own bumbling way seemed to argue for some kind of gun registry without any details.  Where Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been able to wall off any reforms in the Senate, it may be harder now, and even he has been quoted opening the door a crack to the considerations of some reforms, even if weak ones like the “red flag” warnings, which put the onus on friends, family, and the community to report others who should be flagged.

Even Walmart, where recent killings have occurred in Mississippi and Texas is feeling the pressure not only as a venue for slaughter, but also as a purveyor of the weapons of mass destruction.  Hundreds of white-collar Walmart employees walked out of the mega-retailer’s e-commerce offices in California, Oregon, and New York to pressure the company “to stop selling guns and discontinue donations to politicians who receive funding from the National Rifle Association,” according to The Washington Post. “Walmart sells guns in about half of its 4,750 U.S. stores, making it one of the nation’s largest retailers of firearms and ammunition.”

The organizers of the walkout faced retaliation from the company, but other reports have focused on the limited training and protection workers have gotten from Walmart about active shooter situations.  No amount of money is worth taking a bullet for your boss, and ten dollars an hour is far less than any would consider a fair price for the risk.  Tourists and pedestrians panicked and ran for cover around Times Square in New York when they heard a backfire on a small vehicle.

This is out of control.  The paper tigers must fold so that the public is protected.  We are close to the tipping point where politics is forced to recede in the face of common sense and basic safety.

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Please enjoy “”Unwed Fathers”” by John Prine and Margo Price. Thanks to KABF.

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Count Me In, America!

New Orleans   The US Constitution is clear:  count everyone every ten years.  Period.  No, ifs, ands, and buts about it.

In the Supreme Court case the justices who claim to be “originalists,” meaning that they believe every single word of the document is evergreen despite the passage of almost 250 years, and all that has transpired in that time, didn’t argue that point.  Census takers, in our largest peacetime mobilizations every decade, send the forms to one and all, and hit the hard to find doors in streets and byways, but they wanted to add yet another question to the counting process.  They wanted to ask about citizenship.

Cities have routinely argued, census after census, about undercounts, especially in areas populated by minorities, particularly immigrant communities where language provides problems in both recruiting competent and versatile census workers and census takers.  Why does it matter?  It’s about the Benjamins, brothers and sisters.  The numbers trigger monies that flow from the federal government to the state and local governments for a plethora of programs.  An undercount in these communities could would shortchange local governments literally billions of dollars.

But, it’s not just about the money, it’s also about power.  The Census in our representative form of government determines the count on which districts are drawn for Congressional and other districts at the hands of state legislatures.  The Supreme Court has now ruled that gerrymandering, meaning drawing the districts to favor one political party over another, is legal or at least cannot be challenged in federal courts, except in cases of racial bias, based on the Constitution having left the line drawing to state legislatures full-well knowing they would use funny business in playing with the numbers.  State courts and state constitutions are another matter, and there are now gerrymandering cases pending in ten different states.

Of course, all levels of the courts found that Commerce Secretary and billionaire Wilbur Ross lied up and down town, including to the judges, about adding the citizenship question, claiming it for civil rights enforcement, when it was clearly about discouraging immigrants from turning in the forms in order to lower the count.  The smoking guns were revealed first when it became clear that Ross had asked Justice for a rationale for the question, even while claiming “the devil made him do it,” and then when the daughter of the premier conservative district drawer found on her recently deceased father’s computer effects, USB drives that detailed his arguments that adding such a question would favor Republicans for decades by lowering the response from immigrant and minority respondents.

Despite Trump claiming he would fight this to the death and delay the Census where printing needed to start July 1st, in a one-line message to the courts, the Justice Department threw in the towel and said they would not re-litigate the matter in the lower courts to try and come up with a justification for lying.  This is a huge victory, though not a permanent one.  It was front page news in the Wall Street Journal, but only a small item on pager 13A in the Times-Picayune / New Orleans Advocate.

Unfortunately, many observers think the damage is already done because many immigrants will be afraid to return the forms, since this government has given them no reason to trust fairness or privacy.  Nonetheless, for a change, lying didn’t work for the Administration, so their recognition that they were busted flat without a chance to get off the mat, is refreshing.  Justice has been done, and lying was not rewarded.  Something to celebrate for a change.

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