A Few More Words About Political Violence in the Age of Trump

“Antifa” protester challenges Denver GOP at Denver Pride Parade.

The Colorado Statesman’s Ernest Luning reports on an incident that local Republicans are super-eager to let you know about–some black-clad idiot who harassed Denver Republican marchers at yesterday’s Pride parade in Denver:

A masked protester accosted Denver Republicans preparing to take part in Sunday’s annual PrideFest Parade, yelling obscenities while attempting to remove a banner featuring a Donald Trump quotation from the county party’s parade entry, the party’s chairman told Colorado Politics…

“We had just started rolling with the parade and were handing out literature, when all of a sudden this young lady rolls up, all dressed in black and throws her face mask on and starts yelling,” Viano said, quoting a near-constant stream of obscenities, “as three others dressed just like her stood on the periphery. Then she grabbed our lit out of the vehicle, along with a black bag and a glass bottle of juice — she grabbed that and threw it on the ground, breaking the glass.”

Viano said bystanders helped retrieve the county party’s fliers, which reproduced the same Trump quotation depicted on the banners: “‘As president, I will do everything in my power to protect LGBTQ citizens from attacks from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology.’ Donald Trump, July 21, 2016, at the RNC.”

The woman tried to rip one of the banners from the side of the car but was unsuccessful, he said.

Denver Republicans released a 12-second video of this young woman accosting them, in which she most certainly made a bloody ass of herself and may well have committed misdemeanor assault by trying to rip literature out of the hands of a GOP parade marcher. Apparently she found the irony of Republicans marching in the Pride parade to be too much, even though they’ve been doing so for years now as Republicans have tried to present a “kinder face” on the issues of LGBT rights and marriage equality.

As the pendulum of popular anger has swung against Republicans in recent months, there’s been a tremendous pushback against what they perceive to be “liberal intolerance” of Republicans and the GOP’s agenda. Last week’s attack on Republican members of Congress at a baseball practice in Alexandria, Virgina, carried out by a petty criminal with a record of anti-Trump and anti-GOP social media postings, has given Republicans an opening to bemoan “liberal violence” and turn public sympathy back towards themselves.

But as the AP reports today, liberals have no intention of being cowed:

Liberal groups resistant to Republican policies say they have no plans to change their tactics or approach after a gunman apparently driven by his hatred of President Donald Trump opened fire at a GOP baseball practice, grievously injuring a House Republican leader and several others…

[O]nline and on talk radio, several conservatives questioned whether aggressive opposition to all things Trump had created a dangerous climate, and some faulted those on the left. Rush Limbaugh said the shooter represented the “deranged base of the Democratic Party” and Michael Savage tweeted in caps, “I warned America the Dems constant drumbeat of hatred would lead to violence.”

“…It’s a real small percentage of people” on the left who ever engage in violence, said Yong Jung-Cho of the group All of Us. “This is the challenge of large social movements — there’s a lot of people in them.”

And liberals note that Trump praised people at his rallies who assaulted protesters and invited singer Ted Nugent, who once said Obama should “suck on my machine gun,” to the White House. Murshed Zaheed, political director of the liberal group Credo, said it took Trump three days to tweet about a white supremacist who allegedly fatally stabbed two men in Portland, Oregon, who had tried to get him to stop harassing Muslim women on a train. In contrast, Sanders delivered his Senate speech within hours of the shootings; he said Hodgkinson apparently was a former campaign volunteer.

“It’s not really an even-handed situation where you can compare both sides,” Zaheed said. [Pols emphasis]

It was inevitable that the swing of popular discontent to the Republican Party following President Donald Trump’s election would lead to plaintive charges from the right that Democrats were escalating into political violence. With that said, there are enormous differences between the rhetoric Democrats have used to motivate supporters recently versus Republicans during the Obama presidency. Abortion is one useful comparison: when abortion opponents claim with no qualifiers that “abortion is murder,” they are making an allegation that has no parallel among leftists. The demand for justice for “unborn babies murdered by abortion providers” is not equivalent to stating that, for example, throwing people off Medicaid will result in preventable deaths.

And that reminds us, has any Democratic lawmaker praised last week’s shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise like Rep. JoAnn Windholz praised the Planned Parenthood shooter? It’s not like we relish pointing this stuff out, but there is really no comparison between the sides here. To suggest otherwise obliges us to revisit a vast body of unpleasant evidence.

There’s no question that both sides have employed strong, even sometimes excessive rhetoric in today’s divided political climate–but it’s simply wrong to claim that there is equivalency between the two sides. What Ted Nugent has said about President Obama eclipses anything that Michael Moore has ever said about President Bush or Trump. And when it comes to political violence, the right has innumerable Robert Dears and Dylann Roofs to acknowledge before asking the left to take ownership of last week’s violence in Alexandria.

Because it’s a two-way street, folks.

Get More Smarter on Monday (June 19)

For those of you who insist that summer doesn’t really begin until the Summer Solstice, enjoy your last day of Spring. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it will consider a partisan gerrymandering case that could have significant repercussions on future elections. From the Washington Post:

The justices regularly are called to invalidate state electoral maps that have been illegally drawn to reduce the influence of racial minorities by depressing the impact of their votes.

But the Supreme Court has never found a plan unconstitutional because of partisan gerrymandering. If it does, it would have a revolutionary impact on the reapportionment that comes after the 2020 election and could come at the expense of Republicans, who control the process in the majority of states.

The court accepted a case from Wisconsin, where a divided panel of three federal judges last year ruled last year that the state’s Republican leadership in 2011 pushed through a plan so partisan that it violated the Constitution’s First Amendment and equal rights protections.

There’s plenty of analysis on the news available throughout the Internet tubes. Here’s a particularly-helpful piece from The Atlantic.

Gill v. Whitford is the name of the case your kids may someday read about in history books.

 

► Senate Republicans continue to secretly debate their own Trumpcare bill, and while the news about pending votes has been conflicting, the data is piling up in opposition. According to a new report from the Center for American Progress:

Republican health care plans, including the House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA), would repeal taxes on the wealthy, including the Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT)—a tax on combined capital gain, dividend, and interest income applicable to individuals making more than $200,000 or couples filing jointly making more than $250,000 in adjusted gross income. This tax cut is paid for by eliminating health insurance coverage for millions of low- and moderate-income Americans. Approximately 90 percent of the benefit of repealing this tax goes to the top 1 percent of households.

The Center for American Progress estimates that 271,500 Coloradans would lose healthcare coverage by 2026 under current Republican plans — while anyone earning more than $1 million per year would see an average tax cut of $38,341. These figures are one of many reasons why a bipartisan group of Governors is asking Congress to scrap the Republican healthcare bill.

 

►Meanwhile, Politico reports that Senate Democrats are getting more aggressive in pushing back against Trumpcare plans:

Democrats will grind Senate business to a halt in a protest against Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare.

Beginning Monday night, Democrats will start objecting to all unanimous consent requests in the Senate, according to a Democratic aide. They plan to control the floor of the chamber Monday night and try to force the House-passed health care bill to committee in a bid to further delay it.

Without the votes to block Obamacare repeal, Democrats are turning to procedural moves they believe will underscore their most powerful argument: Republicans are hiding their repeal plan from the public and using Senate procedures to keep it a secret.

The bell tolls for theeCory Gardner. As a headline from Denver7 succinctly explains: “Gardner reneges on transparency concerns as Colo. Dems, bipartisan governors call for AHCA changes.”

It’s also a fair question to ask whether or not Gardner even understands whatever secret legislation the Senate is crafting.

 

► The seemingly-interminable special election for a House seat in Georgia will finally come to a conclusion on Tuesday. As the Washington Post reports, last week’s shooting at a Congressional baseball game in Washington D.C. has further complicated an already perplexing situation.

 

 

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Day of Reckoning Nears For Gardner’s Health Care Hypocrisy

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Denver7’s Blair Miller reports:

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper on Friday joined several other Republican and Democratic governors in criticizing the House-passed version of the bill, saying it does not adequately protect millions of Americans and needs fixing.

Hickenlooper, a Democrat, joined Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D), Massachusetts Gov. Charles Baker (R), Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R), Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) in signing the letter criticizing the House version of the bill.

The letter was addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. All the governors are from states that opted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

The governors say that the House-passed version of the bill “calls into question coverage for the vulnerable and fails to provide the necessary resources to ensure that no one is left out, while shifting significant costs to the states.”

Meanwhile, back in Washington:

The concerns from Democrats come at a crucial moment for the AHCA, as the group of 13 Republican senators, including Gardner, continue to craft their bill in secrecy…

Gardner has been mostly mum on the bill, but in an interview with Colorado Politics published Friday, he said he wants to preserve protections for Medicaid recipients, which the House version gutted, and again said that the Affordable Care Act was “collapsing.”

He also told Colorado Politics that the Affordable Care Act was “passed in the most partisan of fashions” and that “not a single Republican vote was part of it,” despite Democrats holding months of open hearings while crafting the bill.

In February, Gardner himself said, “It’s important to me that this debate be open and that the American people see what’s happening and taking place,” according to a transcript from HuffPost. “I think as this committee hearings and legislation is being drafted, it’s not going to be something behind closed doors. Everybody is going to be a part of it.”

Sen. Cory Gardner’s first election to Congress in 2010 was built around fierce opposition to the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. After Gardner won election, he returned to the legislation over and over as a centerpiece in his personal message against both health reform and the Obama administration in general. Gardner falsely claimed that hundreds of thousands of Coloradans had their “coverage cancelled” by Obamacare, when in truth those consumers were being migrated to plans that included Obamacare’s requirements for better coverage. Colorado’s rate of uninsured did not grow despite Gardner’s complaints about “cancellations,” instead dropping to historic lows as thousands gained coverage from the insurance marketplace and the expansion of Medicaid.

Before Trump’s election made repeal an actual possibility, Gardner routinely voted for bills that would have repealed Obamacare without any considerations for the Medicaid expansion population, persons with pre-existing conditions, or others who have benefited. At the same time, Gardner voted for various proposals that severely weakened Obamacare, like refusing to fund health co-ops and then blaming Obama for their insolvency.

After all of that, successful politics even though it has been a fundamentally deceptive campaign of bad faith and self-fulfilling prophecy, we finally have arrived at the moment Cory Gardner and the GOP has been working toward since 2010: where Republicans have total control in Washington and can replace Obamacare with whatever they want.

And it’s not working out, folks. The House celebrated passage of a bill that the Senate immediately declared DOA due to its devastating effect on millions of people now reaping the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. The Senate’s closed-door working group of 13 Republicans claims to be close to finalizing their completely different legislation, which reportedly offers only small concessions from the House bill–the full effects being unknown because the bill is being drafted in secret, exactly what Gardner promised would not happen.

This untenable situation looks ready to come to a head. If Gardner’s group can’t produce a bill that the conservative House will approve, the entire exercise is colossal a waste of time. But Gardner can’t produce a bill the House will pass without breaking even more promises than the promise to not do this behind closed doors. Either way, six years of Gardner’s misinformation and scare tactics are about to meet reality. And Gardner has nowhere to point the finger now except himself.

It’s one of those things that politicians should always consider–what happens if this works? There’s no question that Cory Gardner’s crusade against Obamacare helped him in his rise to one of the most powerful members of the United States Senate.

But now, literally and figuratively, the bill is due.

Friday Open Thread

“The art of our necessities is strange,
That can make vile things precious.”

–William Shakespeare

Rep. Doug Lamborn: “Abortion Is Not Health Care”

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R).

As the Denver Post’s Jesse Paul reports, Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs wants to make extra-super sure that the Senate’s forthcoming Obamacare repeal legislation doesn’t make anything easier on women who need abortions:

U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Colorado Springs Republican, has penned a letter signed by 70 members of the U.S. House asking GOP leadership in the Senate to ensure “our pro-life priorities” are included in any health care legislation they draft to replace the Affordable Care Act.

“While there have been differences of opinion on the best way to fix our nation’s health care system,” the letter dated Wednesday says, “the pro-life majority in the House of Representatives has reached consensus that any health care legislation must abide by the overarching principle that abortion is not health care, and that therefore, elective abortion, abortion providers, and health plans that include elective abortion should not be subsidized.”

The request was addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, as well as the chairs of the Senate budget, health and finance committees. Colorado’s other House Republicans — U.S. Reps. Mike Coffman, Ken Buck and Scott Tipton — did not sign the letter.

Lamborn’s sweeping statement that “abortion is not health care” will come as news to the thousands of women in the United States every year who have medically necessary abortions, some of whose lives are saved via the procedure. And even in the case of abortions entirely for a woman’s personal reasons–how is that not “health care,” every bit as much as elective surgeries of all kinds and (yes) Viagra are “health care?” Perhaps vasectomies should be relegated to the back alley too?

Look, we get what Lamborn is trying to say here, but his choice of words betrays a fundamental ignorance about what he’s discussing. In Lamborn’s case that’s no accident, though it’s a useful window into the minds of dogmatic abortion rights opponents.

Minds that close in the presence of undesired context.

It’s “Too Soon”–But Not To Fundraise!

THURSDAY UPDATE #2: New York Daily News:

A prominent Colorado politician decided to use Wednesday’s shooting on a GOP baseball practice as a fundraising opportunity.

“The left is out of control. Their violent actions are un-American, and it needs to stop!” reads an email signed by Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville.

The fundraising note went out just hours after gunman James Hodgkinson opened fire on a baseball field in Alexandria, Va., where congressional lawmakers were practicing for Thursday’s Congressional Baseball Game.

—–

THURSDAY UPDATE: 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark reports:

Raw Story’s David Edwards:

Neville insisted to KUSA-TV that letter’s main purpose was not to raise funds even though it asks for contributions of at least $25.

“I wouldn’t consider it a pure fundraising email,” Neville said. [Pols emphasis] “The main purpose was to encourage people not to be silenced by fear.”

—–

Local Daily Beast contributor Dave Maney directs us to a fundraising email sent earlier today from GOP Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, invoking today’s shooting at a Republican congressional baseball team practice in Alexandria, Virginia today as the tragic situation was still more or less live news. Excerpted:

Unruly protesters trashing Civic Center Park and clashing with cops in the streets.

Mock beheadings of President Trump by Kathy Griffin.

And now an ASSASSINATION attempt on Republican lawmakers!

The hate-inspired violent rhetoric against conservatives and Republicans was already at an all-time fever pitch before today, but now it just got very real.

The left is out of control. Their violent actions are un-American, and it needs to stop!

Earlier today, a radical anti-trump protester opened fire on Republican staff and lawmakers at a practice for the congressional baseball game in Virginia…

Today’s attack is tantamount to political terrorism aimed at shutting up Conservatives, Republicans, and Americans like you.

Frankly, I lay the blame squarely at the feet of “tolerance-preaching progressives” and their accomplices in the media who allowed violent rhetoric to get so out of control. [Pols emphasis]

I’m talking about so-called “journalists” like Kathy Griffin and other hollywood-elites who incentivize violence against Republicans by staging beheadings and celebrate fictitious assassinations as “artistic expression.”

No wonder why the socialist piece of trash who tried to kill Republican lawmakers today thought his deranged actions were justified…

Here’s what you can do to help:

First, join me in praying for a speedy recovery for Congressman Scalise and the staff and law enforcement who were wounded in today’s attack.

Second, join me in calling on the media to denounce horrific attacks like this and to call for an end to the violent political rhetoric on the left that they’ve inspired.

Finally, if you can, please show us that you’re not backing down by chipping-in $50 or $25 to Colorado Liberty PAC today so we can retake the State House in 2018. [Pols emphasis]

Your contribution today will help us advance our conservative values through passionate and peaceful civil discourse that makes our country great.

For Freedom,

Patrick Neville
Republican Leader
Colorado House of Representatives

The aftermath of high-profile shooting incidents in the United States very quickly turns into a political debate, as gun rights supporters struggle with gun control proponents to cast the emerging details in terms favorable to their stand on the issue. A meta-debate almost always takes place alongside this discussion, arguing whether the timing is right to talk about the overarching political issues in the immediate aftermath of a tragic event–while survivors are still grieving, or even while the event is still unfolding. Activists on the issue joke that it’s always “too soon” to talk about guns, right up until it’s “too late.”

In both of these debates, Neville and Republicans he supports via the Colorado Liberty PAC have ceded the high ground. They have politicized this man’s horrific actions in exactly the way they refused to accept with countervailing examples–like the man who walked into a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs in November of 2015 and started shooting. We feel very confident that as many or more liberals are looking inward today at their own anger than conservatives re-examined their rhetorical excesses after the Planned Parenthood shooting.

And that rank hypocrisy still wasn’t enough. They tried to make money off it.

It’s too far. It’s too much. And we don’t want to hear how it’s “too soon” ever again.

Trump Officially Under Investigation For Obstruction of Justice

Via the Washington Post, President Donald Trump now officially on the hot seat:

The special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election is interviewing senior intelligence officials as part of a widening probe that now includes an examination of whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice, officials said.

The move by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III to investigate Trump’s own conduct marks a major turning point in the nearly year-old FBI investigation, which until recently focused on Russian meddling during the presidential campaign and on whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Investigators have also been looking for any evidence of possible financial crimes among Trump associates, officials said.

Trump had received private assurances from former FBI Director James B. Comey starting in January that he was not personally under investigation. Officials say that changed shortly after Comey’s firing.

This can’t be called unexpected, since FBI Director James Comey’s revelations about his final meetings with President Trump before being fired very plainly told a story consistent with the crime of obstruction of justice. Comey’s firing only further confirms Trump’s intentions, which Trump was in turn quite happy to confirm to Russian diplomats shortly afterward.

In short, it would be much harder to explain after all this why Trump shouldn’t be personally under investigation than why he is.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (June 14)

Happy Flag Day, America! It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The news from Washington, D.C. today is mostly about a shooting at a congressional baseball practice, in which House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was injured along with a congressional aide and several police officers. The deceased shooter is a former Bernie Sanders volunteer whose social media is full of anti-Donald Trump content:

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said both in a statement and on the Senate floor that he had learned the shooter volunteered on his presidential campaign — and that he condemned the shooting “in the strongest possible terms.”

“I have just been informed that the alleged shooter at the Republican baseball practice is someone who apparently volunteered on my presidential campaign,” Sanders said.

“I am sickened by this despicable act. Let me be as clear as I can be. Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms,” he said. “Real change can only come about through nonviolent action, and anything else runs against our most deeply held American values.”

Denver7 has reactions from the Colorado delegation.

► In other inside-the-Beltway news, what seems to have been the beginnings of a move to fire Russia special counsel Robert Mueller is fizzling out:

Last month’s appointment of Robert S. Mueller III as a special counsel to investigate possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia enraged President Trump. Yet, at least initially, he holstered his Twitter finger and publicly said nothing.

But behind the scenes, the president soon began entertaining the idea of firing Mr. Mueller even as his staff tried to discourage him from something they believed would turn a bad situation into a catastrophe, according to several people with direct knowledge of Mr. Trump’s interactions. A longtime friend, Christopher Ruddy, surfaced the president’s thinking in a television interview Monday night, setting off a frenzied day of speculation that he would go through with it.

For now, the staff has prevailed. “While the president has every right to” fire Mr. Mueller, “he has no intention to do so,” the White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters late Tuesday.

It’s tough to imagine how that might have happened here–or still might, if Trump decides to override the opinions of his staff and pull another James Comey. But it’s a brink we’re glad to see Trump being pulled back from, at least for now.

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Majority Whip Steve Scalise Shot, Colorado Delegation Okay

Horrible story out of Washington D.C. that’s going to occupy most of the day’s news, as the Denver Post’s Mark Matthews reports:

No members of Colorado’s congressional delegation, or their staffs, were hurt in Wednesday morning’s shooting at a congressional baseball practice, which left House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and several others wounded.

The shooting happened in Alexandria, Virginia, where the GOP congressional baseball team was practicing. No Colorado Republicans play on the team, and the state’s congressional delegation has reported their staffs are OK after conducting a full roll call.

The shooter has been identified as James Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois, whose social media profiles contain lots of anti-Donald Trump and pro-Bernie Sanders material. Hodgkinson apparently has a lengthy criminal record. Previously reported to be in custody, it’s since been reported that Hodgkinson was killed in an exchange of gunfire with responding police.

Republican House Majority Whip Steve Scalise is in stable condition at a local hospital, and a congressional aide who was also wounded is expected to recover.

With that, we wish Rep. Scalise a speedy recovery, and implore everybody on both sides to be more thoughtful about the consequences of our mutually incendiary rhetoric. It’s no less true when a right-wing crackpot shoots up a Planned Parenthood clinic than when a left-wing crackpot takes aim at a Republican elected official. Our politics are only better than this…until they aren’t anymore.

And none of us wants to see what that looks like.