Strange looking bright blue and white handgun

Side-view of Defense Distributed 'Liberator' 3D-Printed hand-gun.

If you are a regular reader of my soon-to-be Pulitzer Prize winning work, you probably think the title this week refers to the usual procrastination and intransigence of our politicians. Surprisingly, they’ve all been saying plenty and actually doing a little. As you have probably noticed from the soul-destroying, joy-sucking, garment-rending hole in your life, it is me who has been missing.

I’ve been fortunate enough to work with The Columbus Free Press’s very own Harvey Wasserman on his two upcoming books. The first is an historical novel centered around the Founding Fathers enjoying ergot and going on psychedelic adventures through America’s past and future. Imagine smoking primo British Columbia bud and admiring Thomas Cole’s Course of Empire with a naked Benjamin Franklin and you have a pretty good idea of what to expect! The second is a survey history of the United States from the Iroquois Confederacy through the current Trumpocalypse. As is true for everyone’s work connected with this publication, the book is ferociously committed to truth and accuracy. No-one’s feelings are spared, and the whitewashing of presidential track records is combated. You will learn how hypocritical Thomas Jefferson was and how generally terrible Barack Obama was (despite the fact he managed to keep his penis to himself while in office). The pain you felt during my absence will be rewarded when you buy (at full price) both books and understand America in a way everyone should.

I am a broken record on the issue of, well, issues. My excoriations of politicians are usually founded upon their failure to act while in office, and their JonBenet Ramsey style of campaigning. It is therefore incumbent upon me to discuss issues-based news whenever the opportunity drags itself out of hibernation. There has been a substantial amount of legislative activity in this back half of summer, which I will split into two groups: 1) Worthwhile and Productive, and 2) for the political science majors and wordsmiths: Bullshit.

The first bill in group 1 comes from Senator Bill Nelson of Cesspool, I mean Death Row, I mean Florida. It is the 3D Printed Gun Safety Act which bans the dissemination of plans for the manufacture of plastic guns. The price and size of 3D printing machines have been steeply decreasing over the past couple of years so pretty much anyone can now have one in their home. Guns, and parts for guns, can be produced in a matter of minutes or hours and without any registration or serial numbers. It would be impossible to know who made them and to whom they were sold. They can be manufactured and bought without any licensing, paperwork, or government oversight. Another way the guns would be untraceable is in the material. They would not set off any metal detectors and would go unnoticed by other non-contact methods employed by law enforcement. A murderer could print a firearm in the morning and walk into a packed football stadium and kill numerous people before anyone had a chance to intervene. Likewise, a criminal could buy a plastic gun from a friend, take it through an airport, and bring down a plane killing hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent people without any barrier to his/her doing so. The bill should also ban the creation of plans and set severe punishments for anyone involved in the plastic gun business, but it is finally a step in the direction of reducing death and crime rates in this country. The bill has been sent to the judiciary committee where some white, male, toddler death-loving senator will likely try to shoot it down. But that doesn’t mean there is no cause for optimism. This is a good first move in crushing a destructive industry before it kills anyone.

Senator Nelson was not the only politician acting like a human being in recent weeks. Representative Al Green of Texas introduced a bill to prohibit sales by non-licensed dealers at gun shows. The very existence of gun shows defies comprehension but how in hell has it ever been legal for random guys to sell guns to each other willy-nilly? Licensing dealers should, at a minimum, keep those with violent criminal records and mental health issues out of the business. The bill should fly through the House judiciary committee and become law without a single dissention or complaint. Thank you, Al Green, for standing up against the murder lobby and promoting Love and Happiness. I am Tired of Being Alone in my crusade against guns and am Full of Fire for your legislation. You Know and I Know mass murder isn’t Going Away until political leaders listen to their constituents who say “Don’t Hurt Me No More.”

Before I tell you all about group 2, there is one new bill I’ve had trouble placing into either group. S. 3311 seeks to prohibit interference with electronic voting machines under the existing Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. It’s encouraging that the protection of our elections is being prioritized, but this bill puts up a “No Trespassing” sign in front of the house when the house just needs to be burned to the ground and a new structure erected in its place. This particular bill is worthwhile in the sense that it shows incumbents elected under the stupendously corrupt current system may just care about safeguarding everyone’s votes. It also enhances that current system which, in the absence of any other action, is an improvement. However, keeping a system that can be hacked by anyone on Earth and has already given us countless deplorable leaders is nothing short of insane. Any bill that includes the issue of election protection but does not mention paper ballots, automatic voter registration, and a whole host of other necessary features could be fairly labelled as bullshit.

Just like S. Res. 618 which commemorates the 50th anniversary of the commissioning of USS John F. Kennedy. It is only a short resolution so did not require committee approval, but what a colossal waste of time. Bill Nelson (remember him?) took the time to create the text, find three cosponsors, and submit it for consideration by the entire Senate. He achieved precisely zero because nobody noticed the resolution and the ship hasn’t been used in 11 years. I wonder how many of his constituents begged him to help Americans remember a ship that never saw combat in a legitimate war and was deemed useless more than a decade ago.

Similar to that pile of crap is the bill to honor 50 years of the Architectural Barriers Act. It made federal facilities more accessible to those with disabilities but what does honoring the bill do to help disabled people now? One way to honor them would be to guarantee them healthcare that is fully paid for by the government and is provided by the best doctors in the world who received their education free of charge. No-one is going to overcome a disability or enjoy the same opportunities as those without physical or mental handicaps because a few representatives said “oh yeah, I remember that obscure bill. It was good.”

Then there was legislation renaming the Nordic Museum as the National Nordic Museum. The poor blond-haired, blue-eyed oppressed finally have national recognition for their historic pickled fish and entertaining sweaters. But that did mean there was less time to waste on recognizing July 28th as World Hepatitis Day and designating a World Breastfeeding Week. I guess it wasn’t totally wasted time though because I had no idea what boobies were really for and my wife is now a very happy customer.

Another group 2 favorite of mine is S.Res. 611. Cosponsored by two southern Republicans, the resolution calls out several progressives and liberals for their opposition to the ICE raids that are tearing families apart. It opposes the harassment of ICE agents “who bring human traffickers, drug traffickers, gang members, and violent criminals to justice.” ICE is currently targeting harmless, peaceful immigrant families and forcing toddlers to go through the criminal justice system on their own. They are not apprehending true criminals, true criminals who are anyway being investigated by dozens of other law enforcement agencies. If what the resolution states is accurate, then America is being terrorized by five-year-old human traffickers and three-year-old gang members. In that case, ICE should still lay down its arms and fuck off to coastal cities to check shipping crates for emerald ash borers and AK-47s. I would love to babysit a tiny human trafficker who transports GI Joe and Malibu Barbie across playground lines for candy money. The activists who are harassing ICE agents are the ones keeping America safe and respecting human rights.

By now, you’ll have gathered that our senators and representatives have not been spending their time wisely. To save some of your time, I will quickly yet maturely mention the other legislative highlights from the past few weeks. We had the prohibition of cat and dog slaughter for human consumption (I’m tired of Arby’s serving German Shepherds and pulling whiskers out of my Wendy’s chili); deregulation of commercial space activities (because being flung into the cosmos is too safe); renamed courthouses and post offices (nothing says “thank you for paying the ultimate price” like your name on a building that makes envelopes disappear); and the recognition of the Dominican contribution to three NYC neighborhoods (there’s clearly nothing else that can be done for America’s immigrants).

To help raise your level of respect for the federal government I will now catch you up on the confirmation proceedings for Brett Kavanaugh. In a previous issue of this soon-to-be Peabody Award winning article, I outlined the positions of Kavanaugh, covering his love for huge corporations and polluters as well as his hatred for poor people and women. To start, some Democrats actually approached the hearings in the right way. They didn’t kick and scream like the Republicans did over Merrick Garland’s nomination, and they didn’t focus on one issue where they were doomed to fail. Kamala Harris kicked things off by attempting to postpone the hearings over the lack of access to documents from Kavanaugh’s time in Dubya’s White House. There was no reason to believe the papers contained anything to guarantee derailment of the nomination but thousands of documents being held secret by two far-right administrations is very worrisome. Also, it was a point on which the Democrats could stop Kavanaugh’s confirmation but would not be damaged politically if they were unsuccessful. Subsequent document releases proved to be fruitless and the Democrats turned to gotcha (although wise and fair game) questions. Kavanaugh was grilled on his contact with Trump-connected lawyers, abortion, presidential privilege, affirmative action, 3D printed guns, and assault weapons. His answers were either evasive or showed his true colors as a full-blown Trump Republican. From hearing transcripts, past opinions and writings, and analysis from a handful of respectable SCOTUS followers, we know Brett Kavanaugh will:

- Protect the freedom of individuals to own assault rifles over the freedom of entire communities to stay alive.

- Permit large companies to pollute our air, soil, and waterways without fear of punishment.

- Prevent women from controlling their own bodies and limit their access to healthcare.

- Let Trump off the hook for every unethical and illegal action he has ever made.

- Allow corporations to treat workers like slaves while shielding them from taxes.

- Uphold immigration bans and deportation orders.

What should further concern every decent human being is that Kavanaugh’s confirmation will be the Supreme Court’s tipping point. It will sit far out on the right wing where the three female justices will have almost no power. Gorsuch, Thomas, and Alito will be emboldened while Roberts will no longer feel the need to sometimes force himself towards the center. With the Republicans, including Heitkamp and Manchin, in control of the Senate it is all but guaranteed that that will happen.

The voters have no control over judges and justices once nominations have been made, but they do have some power over possible nominees and what reaches the increasingly conservative courts. State legislatures are free to craft the most hateful, spiteful, unintelligent bills they desire under the tenth amendment. Activists are forced to challenge them in court (citing other constitutional amendments) and the cases make their way to SCOTUS. With the addition of Kavanaugh every abortion ban and rollback of environmental protections will be upheld. The people can demand election reform and vote for progressives who will nominate humans for judicial vacancies and who will not pass despicable legislation. Judicial appointments are for life, so the only way around conservative incumbents is to not give them anything on which to write an opinion. There is little reason to still believe in electoral politics but for constitutional issues, the people can do nothing else.

The Republican majority in the Senate isn’t the only thing guaranteeing affirmation of Trump’s judicial nominees. Chuck Schumer, minority leader and bubbe to all neoliberal Democrats, is allowing unqualified conservatives to sail through just so he can escape DC and make fundraising phone calls from the comfort of his home in Brooklyn. Fifteen of Trump’s judges were confirmed by quickie votes so senators could return home and get back on the campaign trail. It was the result of a deal struck between Schumer and McConnell with not one of Schumer’s Democratic underlings dissenting. The Democratic Party is now stumping for votes telling the American people they will stop Trump and his neo-fascist freunde when they win. They are betting on the people being too stupid to notice they’ve already won and are actively assisting the far-right in taking over the judicial system. Let us hope that voters will see right through them and use the word the Democratic establishment is unwilling to: “no.”

While conservative troglodytes’ judicial efforts are very much alive, there is plenty of death in America.

Across the country activists are pouring their blood, sweat, and tears into ballot initiatives only for the powers that be to crush them within days. A ballot initiative is where any individual or group crafts a piece of legislation and sends it to the voters for approval. They must gather a certain number of signatures to have it placed on the ballot and, should they gather enough votes during election season, it becomes law. It is taking action on issues our politicians avoid and giving voice and power to a larger portion of the population. Should incumbents allow our waterways to be poisoned, the public could stop it. If politicians refuse to provide people with healthcare, voters can give it to them. When workers are not paid enough, the American people will raise their wages. Short of throwing on togas and engaging in pederasty, it is the most democratic process imaginable. Sadly, big business and its politicians couldn’t care less about democracy or respecting their constituents. In a number of states and municipalities, ballot initiatives are being killed before they even reach the voters. Boards of Elections, whose members are not elected, and “elected” representatives are rejecting signatures or refusing to place initiatives on the ballot. They are hiding behind a myriad of rules and procedures, none of which should legitimately prevent voters exercising their rights.

In Washington, DC, a ballot initiative raising the minimum wage to $15/hour was approved by voters. Immediately, the city council got to work on legislation overturning the wage increase. As mentioned before, Maine’s governor is still refusing to implement the Medicaid expansion his voters and the courts have told him to. In South Dakota, an ethics reform package was passed by voters, but ethical state leaders felt their behavior was acceptable enough. Up in Toledo, the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, an effort to protect the lake from poisoning and maintain it as a source of drinking water, was blocked by the Lucas County Board of Elections. Here in Columbus, the Community Bill of Rights, a prohibition, among other things, on fracking within our watershed was shot down. The Franklin County Board of Elections said no because the people need radioactive isotopes as part of a healthy diet. Also, we never used to be able to set our tap water on fire, so we have progress. Offering false promises during campaigns and biased voting in office are disgraceful but standing in the way of true democracy is completely unforgivable.

Another impending death comes at the hands of the Catholic Church. More than 300 priests were included in a Pennsylvania grand jury’s report on child abuse. They are all implicated in every kind of sexual assault and are accused of yet another elaborate cover-up. Even if we foolishly believe each priest had just one victim, we are looking at 300-something children whose bright futures have very likely been killed. The silence from our political leaders has been astounding. If this happened at a Hollywood studio, everyone would smell blood in the unholy water. Candidates would be trampling over each other for photo-ops with the victims and press conferences announcing tough legislation. Yet because a religious entity did it, no-one dares do anything to stop it or prevent it from happening again. The first step should be to revoke religious groups’ tax-exempt status. Billions of dollars would be made available for mental health programs, victim services, public education, and free condoms and sex toys for everyone. The churches would have less money for cover-ups and political corruption, while there would be government agents more regularly breathing down their dog collars. Another improvement should be the elimination of all statutes of limitations. A criminal’s guilt does not diminish over time and for violent crimes like the Catholics’ favorite hobby, the victims suffer for the rest of their lives. Perpetrators would not get away with their crimes and victims would have as much time as they needed to come forward. Everyone who has the power to do something about child rape but chooses not to wield it is complicit in the crime.

Speaking of old, white assholes and death; John McCain died. Hundreds of politicians, sports players, and wackos crawled out of the woodwork to pay respects to a man who thought Sarah Palin should be a heartbeat away from the presidency. They paid homage to his legislative victories (not a lot to be particularly proud of) and how he was a wonderful example of a family man (he publicly called his wife a cunt). The most ridiculous and surprising development, however, was Chuck Schumer’s proposal to name the Russell Senate Office Building after him. Richard Russell was a Georgia Democrat who fought the Civil Rights Movement at every turn. Someone who supported segregation should have no monuments but to replace a racist with someone who voted against the DREAM Act is not progress. Of all the great people who have served in the United States Senate, anti-women pro-war McCain is not the one who should be recognized with a building.

At the time of writing, Hurricane Florence is rushing towards the Atlantic Coast and looks like it could very well be one of the largest natural disasters in American history. I will refrain from any further remarks until the recovery effort is underway, but I’m sure there will be plenty to say about climate change, disaster readiness, and the funding of relief programs.

Thanks to everyone for hanging on during my short sabbatical and I look forward to tearing national politics another new one next week.