Thursday, March 23, 2017

For Republicans, punishing the poor and securing tax breaks for the rich are much higher priorities than investigating potential treason

"I have seen a lot in my lifetime. But I have never seen anything like this."

--Dan Rather, on the "chaos and confusion" surrounding the Trump Administration, as well as Congressman Devin Nunes tipping off President Trump about intelligence investigations, instead of conferring with his fellow members on the House Intelligence Committee. (Dan Rather, Facebook post, March 22, 2017)

Above: In this video clip, Carl Bernstein, one of the main journalists during the Watergate scandal, argues that there is a cover-up going on in the White House, with respect to contacts between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian operatives. He also highlights how Republicans in Congress appear to be unconcerned about these potentially treasonous activities. YouTube link:

If you've been paying attention to the news lately, you know that there are all sorts of strange activities that have occurred, and are continuing to occur, with respect to Trump operatives, Russian operatives, bizarre allegations of Obama and the United Kingdom spying on Trump, claims by Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway that microwave ovens sometimes turn into cameras, and so on. Though it's not been proven yet, there appears to have been collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian hackers to release emails damaging to the Hillary Clinton campaign.

To add another layer of intrigue, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Republican Devin Nunes, appears to be working openly (and perhaps secretly too) for Donald Trump. He shared investigative information with Donald Trump before he shared it with with his fellow intelligence committee members. This is a brazen breach of the fundamental American concepts of separation of powers and checks and balances. And it also raises the question: Is he secretly sharing any other information with the Trump Administration? How can we trust him, or the Intelligence Committee, after this?

But perhaps these things are not so surprising after all, when you consider that Republicans recently voted to keep Donald Trump's tax returns secret from the public, which also hinders investigations into just what the heck is going on between actors in our government and actors in the Russian government.

Above: A new hospital building in Jamestown, North Dakota, funded by the New Deal's Public Works Administration, ca. 1933-1943. New Deal policymakers & workers engaged in tens of thousands of projects to improve the health of all Americans - regardless of their income & wealth. That's quite a different philosophy from today's Republican Party, which strictly adheres to the principal that wealth should determine your access to care. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.
What's really interesting to me, is that all this possible wide-scale treasonous activity seems to be having zero effect on the Republican party's rabid determination to kick low-income Americans off Medicaid in order to give massive tax cuts to the their super-wealthy campaign donors. Huffington Post reporters Jeffrey Young and Sam Stein explain the Republican frenzy to repeal the Affordable Care Act:

"Something extraordinary is on the cusp of taking place in Washington on Thursday. An unpopular president and a House Republican leadership team with a seemingly weak grasp of its own members' priorities is preparing to rush through legislation that would trade 24 million people's health coverage for a huge tax cut on wealthy households and health care corporations... The Republican health care reform bill polls poorly, has sparked protests across the country, and would have disproportionately harmful effects on the older, poorer and rural voters [who voted for Trump]... House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will ask his majority to vote for this bill despite all this..." ("Everything About This Republican Obamacare Repeal Vote Is Nuts," March 23, 2017).

And here's something really eye-catching with regard to Nunes tipping off Trump about intelligence investigations: Politico reported that "Nunes said he briefed House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on the information on Wednesday morning before heading to the White House to brief the president." First off, Ryan is not a member of the House Intelligence Committee, so why is Nunes conferring with him, but not his fellow Intelligence Committee members? And second, can you imagine the conversation between the two? Here's how I picture it:

Nunes (knocking on Ryan's office door): "Paul, you got a minute?"

Ryan (annoyed): "Devin, I'm very busy here. I'm trying to kick poor people off Medicaid, raise insurance premiums on seniors, and get billions in tax breaks for our political sugar daddies. I need to get this done, and quickly, to make sure we get our campaign donations."

Nunes: "It'll only take a minute."

Ryan (acquiescing with a sigh): "Alright, come on in."

Nunes explains the investigation materials he wants to secret off to Trump. Ryan seems only half-interested, distracted.

Nunes: "So... are you okay with all this."

Ryan: "Dude, whatevers. It's hard for me to focus right now. I've been dreaming about kicking poor people off Medicaid ever since I got smashed at a keg party back in college." (His empty blue eyes drift off, and a sinister smile appears on his face as he remembers those days... but then he quickly snaps back to the present) So yeah, sure, fine, go tip off the Don... I mean, um, brief him. I've got work to do."

Though my skit is in jest (but perhaps closer to the truth than we know), it's clear to me that punishing the poor and securing tax breaks for the rich is so vitally important to Republicans, that they're willing to suppress, deceive, downplay, and obstruct investigations into possible treasonous activities. And this is what happens in a plutocracy. This is what happens in a political system manipulated by big money. Justice and truth get thrown out the window, as if they were garbage.

"This is a bizarre situation. I'm calling for a select committee because I think this back-and-forth shows that [the Republican-led] Congress no longer has the credibility handle this alone."

--Republican U.S. Senator John McCain, after Nunes's strange visit to the White House ("'This is a bizarre situation': John McCain says Congress no longer has 'credibility' to conduct Trump-Russia probe alone," Business Insider, March 22, 2017).


  1. I'm surprised to see you jumping on this RED herring (pun intended) Brent, given that the Democratic Party is more interested in cockamamie McCarthite conspiracy theories that that rival the time the John Birch Society was accusing Eisenhower of being a Commie agent instead of cleaning house of the permanent war lunatics and Wall St. prostitutes that you yourself have complained about. If anything Al Gores close relationship with the Russian Oligarchs that looted Russia almost to death back in the 1990's would be worth investigating.

    1. Yes the Democratic Establishment is definitely more interested in a discussion about Russia than a discussion about their own plutocratic tendencies. But I still think there's something sketchy about the Trump campaign and all their ties to foreign actors. But what's funny, is that the Republican Party is so excited about kicking people off Medicaid, and then getting that money back to billionaires, that they just don't have the time for anything else. We could be invaded, and they'd say, "Don't bother me right now, I'm busy drafting new legislation: 'We Hate the Poor Act of 2017!'"