The Pattern Of The Roberts Court: Is More Evil On The Horizon?

Hobby Lobby May Just Win The Right To Wage More Of The War On Women
Hobby Lobby May Just Win A New Battle In The War On Women

There seems to be a pattern with the current Supreme Court.  It is widely known it is 5-4 Conservative, but the third branch of government was designed to be non-partisan and rule objectively on cases where the Constitution is in question.   To balance out the obviously partisan big decisions, the lesser of two evils in minor cases is decided in favor of a liberal cause or idea.  For instance, Yesterday,

the court limited some of the EPA’s regulating power when it comes to stationary sources of greenhouse gasses, but preserved its regulation authority in most cases.

This week, the last of June, is traditionally when the Supreme Court hands down some of its biggest, most controversial rulings.  No progressive will forget the January, 2010 decision in favor of big money controlling elections with the Citizens United Verdict.  Showing its “diversity,” in June, 2012, the Roberts Court shocked the Right by deciding the ACA was constitutional based on the Commerce Clause.  In June, 2013, the Court ruled DOMA unconstitutional, enraging the Religious Right once again.  But this was followed by invalidating the parts of the Voting Rights Act which mandated federal supervision of elections in states who were once part of the Confederacy.   In April, 2014, SCOTUS once again dealt a blow to democracy by allowing virtually unlimited campaign donations to candidates or causes with the McCutcheon v Federal Election Commission decision.

By deciding in favor of the EPA’s power to control unfettered pollution, SCOTUS sided with “liberal ideals” of keeping our air semi-breathable.   But on the horizon are two potentially disastrous decisions for President Obama.

Neither appear too propitious.  The first, Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores & Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp v. Sebelius will decide if under the ACA,

private businesses have the right to exercise their freedom of religion either under the Constitution or the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and if so, whether the contraceptive mandate violates that religious freedom.

The next case   National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning  pertains to Presidential Appointments: This pending verdict may be…

…a decision against President Obama’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

If history is any indicator, it seems these next two decisions will be ruled in favor of conservatives. By padding their right wing leanings with some scant victories for liberals, they try to mask the pro-fascist attitudes of the majority of the highest court in the land.

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The GOP Will Never Stop Being the Stupid Party

If one simply analyzes the election of 2012, it’s quite obvious the GOP has an imaging problem; they have lost much of their support due to the changing demographics of 21st century America. I believe February, 2013 was unusually rich with incidents which signal the growing irrelevance of the Grand Old Party, truly an epic month chock full of the increasingly frequent bloopers that illustrate the true character of Republicans.

Trying to gather a manageable list of their latest blunders which purport their claim they are “trying to rebrand the party,” is quite a Herculean endeavor. John Brabender, Rick Santorum’s campaign manager believes their problem is merely in the context of perception, not actual platform. “The perception of our party is, number one, we fight for the rich more than we fight for anybody else. Number two, we fight for the big corporations. And number three, we`re obstructionists to everything.” We’ve got news for you John, this is reality.

The platform and policies the GOP favors have been deviating from the mainstream. The current reality is a dystopian nightmare where the fringe social, political and theocratic factions of the party have literally taken over the asylum. Stupid is actually a very nice way to describe the continued insanity that plagues Republicans nationwide. Bobby Jindal, Louisiana Governor (R) tried to sum it up.

One barely has to search for striking examples which make the word “stupid” seem like the understatement of the year. Psychotic, sociopathic and mendacious are far more apt characterizations of the party that is slowly becoming an embarrassment. The downward spiral began just after President Obama finished one of the most memorable State of the Union addresses and the GOP chose “rising star” Marco Rubio to give his rebuttal. The man they selected, a denier of man-made climate change science, a signer of the Norquist Pledge and a real “patriot” who voted against raising the debt ceiling , clearly represented a party uncomfortable with changing ethnic and social demographics. Most recently, on a trip to Israel, he wrongly identified Jerusalem as the capital merely to pander to extreme right-wing hard liners in both countries.

Former First Lady, Laura Bush came out in support of gay marriage in 2010. However, just this last week, she asked to have her name removed from a gay marriage ad. Once again, a prominent Republican drops the ball and abandons support of an issue which is only increasing in acceptance from the American people.

A GOP Missouri lawmaker shoots at a bill which would make it a felony to possess certain types of assault weapons. Their perversion of the second amendment continues. Watch the video below.

In Iowa (as well as The Dakotas and most Southern States), they are hell bent on criminalizing abortion in the most Draconian ways imaginable. By enacting personhood statutes, Iowa Republicans have introduced a bill that redefines murder to include knowingly “killing” a fertilized egg. This law would lead to the imprisonment of women who have abortions (currently, approximately one-third of women in the U.S. will have an abortion in their lifetime) as well as women who use certain types of birth control that prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg.

Not to be outdone by their ineptitude on women’s and social issues, the GOP has a healthy degree of xenophobia, especially against any possible affiliation with the “great Satan,” Iran. Just linking Hezbollah or Hamas with an Obama nominee would make any Teabagger salivate, so it’s no wonder the intuitive folks at Breitbart.com fell for a joke by NY Daily News reporter Dan Friedman. He used a preposterous name like “Friends of Hamas” to sarcastically link Former Nebraska GOP Senator and DoD nominee Chuck Hagel with terrorist groups. Not only did these conservative “journalists” not fact check, they spread this fabrication around the right wing blogosphere. The absurdity went unnoticed and traveled all the way up through the highest ranks, even so far as duping Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Mr. Friedman wrongly assumed everyone could see the obvious satire in his writing. Unfortunately it is a common practice to assign deductive reasoning skills to the fear-mongering, anti-education, anti-science and highly xenophobic members of the American Right.

Teabagging star Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx), the darling of fundamentalists in the Lone Star State, went so far as to link Hagel to Iran directly simply because the nation spoke favorably about a reasonable, non-hawkish defense department leader after so many years of preemptive American wars. This man not only looks like Eugene “Joe” McCarthy, he is already on a witch hunt only two months into his dreaded six year reign of terror. This extremist lunatic will prove to be a hot mess of problems for both America and his party. Naturally, that makes him a star.

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Because McCarthyism worked so well the first time. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tx)

I focus on Cruz because he is the quintessential obstructionist who embodies every abhorrent quality which will hasten the demise of the once powerful GOP. A recent Salon piece by Steve Kornacki says it best: …conservatives’ appetite for Cruz shows that the GOP base’s animating spirit still hasn’t changed: Loud, aggressive and reflexive hostility to President Obama, the Democratic Party and any Republican who would dare contemplate compromise is still how “conservatism” is defined.

Fast forward to March 29, when the home run of all racial epithets was uttered by former GOP representative Don Young (Alaska). When asked about growing up on a Central California farm, he said, “My father had a ranch; we used to have 50-60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes, it takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It’s all done by machine.” True, he was not trying to be overtly offensive, it simply eluded him he even said something that is incredibly bigoted because he grew up around that sort of offensive vernacular. He issued an apology stating that there is no place for that type of racial slur in this century. What’s most telling is his time frame of when racist comments are permissible. Was 1999 a time when you could insult an entire group of people without consequence? It appears even the 1950’s is too avant-garde for Republicans and hiding their obvious disdain for minorities is a daunting task.

This legitimacy and relevancy problem only seems to worsen over time. In fact, a Pew Research Poll has concluded only 22% of Americans would label themselves Republican, most hiding behind the guise of the Independent label, for obvious reasons. I doubt the party will go the way of the Whigs, but the infighting between Teaparty hard-liners and so-called moderates violates Reagan’s “11th Commandment,” thou shalt never speak ill of a fellow Republican. I sure enjoy watching the mayhem and it may just expedite their ultimate defeat. I anticipate the 2014 midterms will exacerbate the Republican irrelevancy problems with massive defeats. These anti-government government workers have surely outworn their welcome and their incompetence is finally obvious to the majority of Americans.

What the Heck Can We Do About Congress?

The following is a letter sent to Representative Joe Heck (R-NV) written by a Henderson, Nevada business owner. Her letter was well stated and addressed the important issues the House has ignored since the midterm elections. She naturally received a form letter in return, not specifically addressing any of these problems. Here is her letter.

To Representative Heck:

Is there any chance you can help with these topics?
– Filibuster limitations/restrictions or, Congress has to physically stand there and filibuster, not just threaten it countless times.
– Campaign finance reform/disclosure – A foreign company can literally infiltrate/buy our election and we wouldn’t know it.
– Agree to let the Bush tax cuts expire and then introduce a middle class tax cut that everyone would certainly vote for.
– A uniform national voting standard: Everyone should run their elections like Nevada. Our polling stations were efficient and hassle-free and the early voting couldn’t have been easier. Why would we not link up our DMV with voter registration, that way, if you move you still are registered and it’s automatically in the system, instead of having to remind people to re-register. The current system is archaic! Voting rights should be the same, no matter what state you live in.
– Please also tell me that you are not for defending “traditional” marriage. We need to be about equal rights and be accepting of who people are, instead of pushing a religious belief onto others. We are a nation founded on secular principles and no one’s freedoms should be limited by a state-sanctioned, religiously motivated laws.
– A very radical but a more ethical system would be for insurance companies in every area including health, to be non-profit industries. They should not have the incentive of profit to make decisions that would negatively affect someone’s life. Also, if a religious workplace doesn’t want to allow birth control to be covered due to their beliefs, then as an employer, can I state I don’t believe in immunizations, therefore everyone who works for me cannot get immunizations covered? Both matters are important to people of different religions, so can we cherry pick which services are covered by insurance? When we put it in these terms, it kind of sounds preposterous, doesn’t it?

Ways to drastically reduce the deficit without cutting “entitlements”

-Lastly, as a “job creator,” I NEVER make hiring decisions based on taxes, the decision is ALWAYS based on demand. Increased demand only comes from a strong middle class. PERIOD. TRICKLE DOWN DOES NOT WORK… NEVER HAS NEVER WILL.

This next point was added by Cassandra after the letter was sent, so I thought I’d include it.
-Instead of talking about the deficit we should be talking about the fairness deficit and we should be pass a financial speculation tax- 3 trillion over 10 years, repeal capital gains tax break, limit deductions for high earners- people say it can’t all be done on the revenue side?? As Joe Biden would say, MALARKY! The attached graphic from “Up” with Chris Hayes illustrates ways to accomplish deficit reduction without punishing the poorest citizens among us.

These issues are very important to me as a small business owner, mother of four and a community organizer.

Thank you for working with others to accomplish legislation that will help regular people, not just the very rich and the big corporations.

Signed,

Cassandra Rice

Henderson, Nevada

Here is the response sent from his office:

November 16, 2012

Dear Ms. Rice,

Thank you for contacting me with your comments regarding the partisan attitude in Washington. I strongly share your concerns and appreciate the opportunity to respond to you on this important issue.

I understand the American people are frustrated with the direction of our country and angry about Washington’s out-of-touch responses to the challenges families and businesses are facing. I ran for the House of Representatives so that I could work to change business-as-usual in Washington. Representatives are elected to be accountable to the people and must understand the impacts that their decisions will have upon our country. I’d like to share a few examples of my bipartisan work in Congress.

You may be interested to know that I have introduced a number of bills that have received bipartisan support to help create jobs and restore certainty to our economy. In an effort to reduce the cost of energy and promote the use of clean and renewable energy, I introduced H.R. 470, the Hoover Power Allocation Act of 2011, which passed both houses of Congress with strong bipartisan support and has been signed into law (P.L. 112-72). H.R. 470 authorizes the continued allocation of clean, renewable electricity to southern Nevada from the Hoover Dam until 2067. This legislation is essential to the millions of consumers who invested in this renewable source of energy over the past 75 years because it will continue providing them with Hoover power and allow new customers to benefit from this low-cost, clean energy. I am a strong supporter of clean renewable energy, and have supported a number of measures from members on both sides of the aisle to promote renewable energy in Nevada.

In order to help create jobs in Nevada, I have introduced H.R. 3039, the Welcoming Business Travelers and Tourists to America Act. My bill has received strong support from members of both parties and will allow for a more efficient tourist and business traveler visa process and address the systemic backlog of applications, all without reducing security protocols. As you know, Nevada’s economy greatly depends on the continuance and expansion of tourism and international travel, and improving the efficiency of America’s visa application process will stimulate job growth in Nevada and generate billions in revenue for our state.

We also need to address the housing sector of the economy and help homeowners. In Nevada, almost 400,000 homeowners are currently underwater on their mortgages. Because of this, I believe that homeowners should have both options and resources available to keep them in their homes and avoid foreclosure. That is why I was the only member of my party who voted against H.R. 830, the FHA Refinance Program Termination Act. This bill would eliminate a program that allows for those who are current on their mortgages, but underwater, the ability to refinance. I was also one of only two Republicans who voted against H.R. 839, the HAMP Termination Act, which would have eliminated a program used by many Nevadans affected by the downturn in the housing market. Taking away programs that help homeowners who are trying to do the right thing is not the answer.

I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to give Nevadans the country they deserve. It is my honor to represent Nevadans in the House of Representatives and I will continue to do so with honor and integrity. My responsibility is, and always has been, to the constituents of the 3rd District of Nevada.

For additional information, please visit my website, http://www.heck.house.gov. From this site you can access statements about current events or pending legislation, and receive detailed information about the many services that I am privileged to provide for Nevadans.

Again, I appreciate your thoughts and it is an honor to serve you in Congress. Your suggestions are always welcome, and if ever I may be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,DR. JOE HECK
Member of Congress

He presented nothing new or nothing of any practical application, which is unfortunately consistent with the platform of his party’s Presidential candidate (Willard Romney). There is nothing mentioned about eliminating the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy, repairing our health care system or equal rights. These matters don’t seem to concern the Republican party. Maybe if everyone sent their Representative something like this, we would make progress. Feel free to use any part of this post if you wish! Follow Cassandra @CassLibinVegas on Twitter.

VegasJessie

Thanks To American Ingenuity, I Now Suffer From Gasophobia

For years, I drove a Mercedes-Benz. I owned different models ranging from four to eight cylinders so I was accustomed to fuel being a significant monthly expense. About two months ago, my mother and I went to lunch to with a like-minded friend and I got my first glimpse of an EV charging station, as he was charging his Nissan Leaf at the Mandalay Bay Mall. Parked next to him was a Chevy Volt, charging as well. Living in the “City of Sin” and excess, I’d never seen a Volt in person before, as these cars are pretty rare (for now). Never before did I seriously consider getting a hybrid-type vehicle. They seemed like toy cars by comparison to mine. In my opinion, a fully electric vehicle would be ideal, but they require lengthy stops to recharge if taking a long trip. A Volt had the best of both worlds: plug-in capabilities for general daily commutes and a gas engine if needed for 300 plus mile trips. It was then I made up my mind to give this car a chance.

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My Chevy Volt

My brother-in-law, Travis was the first person I called. He works at Fairway Chevrolet in Las Vegas, so I asked him what he thought of the Volt, half expecting him to say, ‘eh, it’s so so.’ What he told me was, ‘I love this car!’ This is a guy who, like so many Americans (myself included), have been seduced by the power of big gasoline engines. He said to come on down and drive one.

The torque from the electric drivetrain was far more than I expected. This car really moves. I even test drove it far enough for it to switch from electric to gas, and noticed no change in the handling. I was sold. Thankfully, I was lucky enough to land exactly the model I wanted thanks to Travis’ exhaustive search on my behalf. Zero percent financing helped seal the deal. So I’ve been driving mine for over five weeks and I’ve used 2 quarts of gas! With a great safety rating along with the sensors that keep me driving perfectly, my fears of “downgrading” from German engineering were allayed. I’m certainly ashamed of my reluctance to go green for so long. I suppose getting 2,500 miles to the gallon will do that to you. Thanks to the Auto Bailout in 2009, I can drive a car with great technology, made right in my own country.

My power bill increased by around $30 which is a mere pittance to the $300 per month I was spending on toxic fuel. This amount would virtually disappear if I had solar power. After all, Las Vegas has an insane amount of sun (and wind) and the fact we are not more like Germany who powers 20% of their country by harnessing solar energy is shameful. Imagine if we were more progressive and utilized our vast sunshine, perhaps stored energy could save hurricane-ravaged areas which would suffer inevitable power losses no more. Maybe if Reagan hadn’t removed the solar panels put on the White House by President Carter we’d use more renewables rather than importing hostile nations’ petroleum, which truly is environmental poison. Now that Hurricane Sandy has impacted so many Americans, perhaps President Obama can focus on climate change issues once again.

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Mileage exceeds the 250+ limit of the display

I knew I had experienced full-fledged Gasophobia this morning when I recalled my disturbing dream: I had to actually fill up my car at a gas station. Somehow I managed to duplicate the scene in Dumb and Dumber where I drove a significant distance in the wrong direction. To make matters worse, no one would let me plug in my car. I actually woke up slightly agitated over this “nightmare” that I would never have had in the past. It really is pretty funny, but pretty awesome at the same time. Hopefully this trend will catch on and we can save our coastlines from devastation due to man-made global climate change. I’m now a faithful convert to green technology.

Australians Know Obama Is the Right Man for the Job

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Obama Clearly Won Debate #2

A Guest Blog by Derek Wood of Sydney, NSW, Australia

The second of the Presidential debates has now taken place and it was a welcome return to form for Barack Obama. The President took a more aggressive stance and certainly scored a number of hits to the (largish) chin of his opponent Mitt Romney. The GOP candidate certainly didn’t help his cause by slipping up on a number of occasions and then mentioning the now classic comment “binders full of women”. It certainly was not a great comment to have come from someone aspiring to be the next President of the United States.

So after the first two debates it is 1-1 between the two candidates. As for the Obama supporters, they are now buoyed with the President showing his true debating skills, coupled with enough aggression to show he is the real deal. As for Romney, well, his team will need to regroup if they are going to come out on top in the final debate. Interestingly, after the second debate Romney appears to have garnered extra support – if the latest opinion polls are to be believed.

From an Australian point of view, there has been a feeling that Obama is back in control and is starting to hone in on his opponent. The Australian government has made it quite clear as to whose side they are on, and it is not Willard Romney. This is predominantly due to the risk that Romney would pose to world peace, especially that in the Middle East. His friendship with Israel and Netanyahu in particular needs to be put into the spotlight. Neither the US nor the West can afford another war in that part of the world. Alas, the signs are that a Romney Presidency would raise the odds of that happening. He wants to increase the Pentagon’s budget by $2 TRILLION!

Also, Mitt seems to have a regular occurrence of ‘putting his foot in his mouth’. Aside from upsetting a number of countries on his recent fund raising junket, he has since become famous for his 47% comment, and can now add the “binder” one to the list of calamities. Maybe he should now be known as ‘Calamity Mitt’. The “binder” comment does seem to cement the view that Romney has issues with women in general. Whether it is his religious upbringing, or otherwise it does appear that there is a problem here.

There is a parallel to this in Australia with the leader of the opposition, Tony Abbott. Two events have happened recently. Firstly, there was the misogyny attack he received from the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, following the recent death of her father. Then, in an unprecedented move, Tony Abbott’s wife and daughters went public in an interview to tell all and sundry that he does not have any issues with women. Strange indeed. There is another similarity between the ‘pretenders to the throne’ both here in Australia and the United States. Both Mitt Romney and Tony Abbott are lacking in actual policy. Whilst this is a strategy that can work well (ex PM John Howard used this strategy to beat incumbent Paul Keating to the top job in Australia), the vast majority of voters want to know what the candidate and their party really stand for. To date, I cannot see too many policies spewing forth from the mouth of Mitt! However, banal comments are definitely to the fore with Romney!

Julia Gillard and Tony Abbot

So to conclude, the third debate will be important. Hopefully, Obama will continue on from the second debate and turn those proverbial screws on Romney and the GOP. As this is looking like a very close election, it is important for the President to make his mark. He could do no worse than watch video footage of Julia Gillard tearing strips off Tony Abbott!

We’d all appreciate that sort of honesty as Americans prefer candor in their representatives. VegasJessie

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Follow Derek on Twitter @Main_Man

Americans for Prosperity Embarrass Themselves in Nevada

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Americans for Prosperity Bus

They arrived in a large logo-wrapped bus with idiotic proclamations about Nevada Democratic Congresswoman, Shelly Berkley, who is running for Senate in November against Teabagger, Dean Heller. Proclaiming fake outrage with statements like “Supported Obamacare,” “Supported Dodd Frank” “Vetoed the Keystone Pipeline” and “Supported the Stimulus,” these faux grassroots supporters rolled in to Vegas around 7:45 am on Thursday, July 19th. They set up camp in an adjacent parking lot, pitching a tent in front of the parked bus right near the Sahara In-N-Out Burger. It appeared they had six or seven “supporters” who we’re actually paid operatives from Americans for Prosperity. An unbelievably large bus that seemed to carry so few. The Democratic group of actual volunteers assembled nearby right in front of Congresswoman Berkley’s office. Our numbers were rapidly growing. It was now 8:00.

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Our Democratic Protestors

Representing various unions, Moveon.org, several citywide Democratic Clubs, Sun City Retirees and Latinos for Obama, just to name a few, we began to march over with our hilarious signs. “Get the Heller out of Nevada”, “Toss the Teabags” or my personal favorite, “Bigots on the Bus Welcome Center” were a few of the notables. We were a diverse, jovial and highly motivated group determined to stop these Koch fascists from taking over our state! Our biggest strength was in numbers. Probably 200 of us marched over to their sad “group” of protestors which included an old toothless man carrying a “Breitbart Is Here” sign and a stereotypical Teabagger wearing a Dean Heller tea-shirt. There were a few other white folks who kept getting in and out of the bus. None were making any real noise, so they started playing their hillbilly music.

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One of their six or seven paid operatives
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A Dean Heller supporter (there was only one)

This was the best they could do? These “second amendment remedy” enthusiasts are afraid this “Un-American” President will take away their freedoms? They were regurgitating the usual Fox News talking points, naturally. So a few in our diplomatic crowd asked some questions of the paid shills. One woman said she believed President Obama will dissolve our three party system and implant himself as a dictator. Another misguided soul thought Shelly Berkley herself had several offshore accounts. Projecting again, GOP?

But the real kicker was when we saw a an AFP (Americans for Prosperity) man paying five migrant workers, perhaps from Mexico, a total of $50.00 to wear their AFP t-shirts and walk the crowd as if they were supporters. Obviously this was seen by enough folks that it was a futile gesture on their part. Even their annoyingly loud country music could not drown out our protest. Our side was just kicking ass with our large numbers and genuine enthusiasm. A truly successful bitch-slapping of the useless TeaParty. Thankfully, there was no violence from their side. Our side only had peaceful intentions, but in light of the Aurora Colorado tragedy, I suppose this could have ended much worse. Instead, we had a wonderful time literally running this well-funded fake grassroots group out of town. The LVMPD (Las Vegas Police) eventually told these folks to move their bus out.

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Calling out the racists of the TeaParty

Even with their efforts to mobilize some “patriotic” Conservatives with all their money and gigantic bus, they simply looked as ridiculous as the TeaParty Congress behaves every day. Perhaps this whole country can unite and defeat this blight on our nation. We’re trying to keep our beloved Nevada blue and I’m certain we will be triumphant.

My heart goes out to those in Aurora, Colorado on this sad Friday. I hope gun control is taken more seriously now, but I doubt it. The NRA Lobby is just too powerful. Naturally, it’s a big part of the TeaParty, so maybe if they disappear, the NRA will finally be seen as the racist, terrorist group they truly are and lose some of their influence. We can only hope.