Despicable GOP.

No, I’m not just referring to the Republican Party’s current slate of presidential candidates – although they, alone, should be cause for derision. I’m referring to the Party’s ongoing disregard for ethics, human kindness and the Constitution.

Witness former Nixon administration staffer John Ehrlichman’s recent admission during an interview with Dan Baum for Harper’s about the war on drugs. As reported by, Ehrlichman stated, “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

Disgusting as that is, the Nixon campaign’s actions regarding the Vietnam War were worse. It is now known that the campaign intentionally undermined the Paris peace talks to prevent the end of the war before the 1968 election. Of course, the Nixon campaign was also guilty of breaking into the offices of the Democratic National Committee to steal information that would help it win the campaign.

In other words, the GOP candidate was willing to sacrifice the lives of thousands of US soldiers and subvert the electoral process in order to gain office.

The Nixon campaign’s actions lend credence to those who have charged that the Reagan campaign undermined President Carter’s negotiations with Iran for the release of our embassy hostages until after the 1980 election. They also add credibility to charges that, during the Reagan administration, the CIA ran an operation to sell drugs in black neighborhoods in order to finance the Contras in Central America. And those actions neatly align with what has been proven – that the Reagan administration illegally sold weapons to Iran in order to finance the Contras.

There’s more.

In response to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was signed into law by a Democratic president, it is known that the Republican Party embraced southern racists to improve its ability to win elections. The Party created a war of “social values” (anti-abortion and anti-gay rights) in order to appeal to “Christian” evangelicals. It attacked labor unions to benefit its large corporate donors, and to deny campaign funds to Democratic candidates. It prioritized partisan ideology over respect for the law in its Supreme Court nominations ultimately resulting in a series of court decisions that led to a torrent of money to sway campaigns. And, as I’ve shown in my new book Antidote to Fact-Free Politics, the GOP used those ideological justices on the Supreme Court to quite literally steal the 2000 election from Al Gore.

Since that time, the GOP pursued an ill-advised and unnecessary war. It has resorted to unprecedented obstruction to thwart many of the objectives of the Obama administration. It has used its majorities in red states to gerrymander congressional districts in order to prevent them from ever electing Democrats. It has aligned with the Koch brothers, their billionaire allies, and large corporations to re-write state laws through the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in order to enact long-term change on behalf of corporate interests. And, despite no evidence of in-person voter fraud, it has imposed voter ID laws to disenfranchise poor and minority voters.

Yet, as the result of the propaganda originated by the RNC and broadcast by Fox News, rightwing radio and the ratings-driven mainstream media, many poor and middle class voters are convinced to vote Republican against their own self-interests.

Is it any wonder that our nation has officially become an oligarchy?

Beware The Politics Of Self-Righteous Zealotry.

For many years, we’ve heard network pundits talk about a “war on Christianity” and call for the US to officially become a Christian nation. Such talk would have made our Founding Fathers cringe. After all, many of them had settled in the US, like some of my ancestors did, as the result of religious persecution in Europe. Our earliest European settlers were Puritans, Huguenots, Quakers, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Jews and others who had fled their homes in search of religious freedom.

Yet, some of the original colonies themselves began imposing their religious views on others, claiming that a particular denomination was the official religion of the colony and taxing all citizens to support that denomination. It was as a result of such discrimination that those who wrote the US Constitution included the wording that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Nevertheless, preying on our citizens’ fear of radical Islamic terrorism, many of our political candidates continue to call for the US to be named a Christian nation. One wants to prohibit certain immigrants based on their religion. Others want to “return our nation to its Christian values.”

That may be good politics. But it is dangerous policy. After all, almost every atrocity in the world has been committed in the name of righteousness – crimes committed as the result of zealotry for an ideology based on the ends justifying the means.

Such atrocities have been committed in the name of Christianity, Islam, Judaism…even Buddhism. But the problem doesn’t just lie with religion. Out of the same kind of self-righteous zealotry, they have also been committed in the name of communism, fascism and capitalism. Almost always, such crimes are not considered crimes by those committing them – the true believers believe that they are doing the right thing for their religion, their nation or their children. Such was the case when the Bush administration zealously decided to impose democracy in Iraq resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands (some say hundreds of thousands) Iraqis.

There have been examples of other destructive examples of self-righteous zealotry in the US. The KKK murdered blacks under the cross of Christianity. Senator Joe McCarthy accused, investigated, blacklisted and imprisoned many who failed to demonstrate that they were not communists or communist sympathizers (it’s always difficult to prove a negative). The same mentality led to the John Birch Society which believed both the Soviet Union and the US were led by a cabal of internationalists, bankers and corrupt politicians. Its leader even accused President Eisenhower of being a communist. The same rightwing conservatives wrapped themselves in the cloak of Christianity to draw greater distinctions between righteous Americans and the godless communists. To distinguish themselves from communism, they pushed through legislation replacing the original national motto “E Pluribus Unum” – from many one – with “In God We Trust.” They added “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance. And congressional members of The Fellowship, aka The Family, instituted the National Prayer Breakfast at the capitol, a quasi-governmental Christian event that has been held every year since 1953.

Much of the conservative-based zealotry was driven underground after Edward R. Murrow focused attention on the abuses of McCarthyism and after William F. Buckley and Barry Goldwater shunned the John Birch Society. But the ideology never went away. As a result, we are now seeing conservatives again using religion to divide. The movement again raised its ugly head with the “Moral Majority” of the 70s and 80s. About the same time, the GOP’s “southern strategy” reached out to racist southern Democrats who were outraged by the Civil Rights Act. GOP politicians also latched onto the issues of abortion and the so-called “sanctity of marriage” to embolden the “righteous” and further divide us. And they claim that any attempt to prevent the establishment of Christianity as the official state religion – the placement of Christian symbols and the institution of mandatory Christian prayers in public schools and government meetings – is a “war on Christianity.” You can hear such accusations at any GOP presidential debate, at most GOP rallies and on GOP media such as Fox News Channel.

Now you may wonder, what harm could come from institutionalizing Christian values in our government? The answer lies in history – the history of Christian Protestants and others being persecuted and driven out of their homes by Catholic Christians. That’s not to say that Catholicism is any worse, or better, than other religions. It’s just that one person’s religious values can easily become another person’s religious persecution.

Though it is true that the US has long been predominately Christian, it has never been a Christian nation, and it never should be. When we hear politicians like Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson and others call for special treatment of those who believe in one religion over another, or over those who believe in no religion at all, we should all be mindful that our Founding Fathers created our Constitution and our government to end tyranny, including tyranny by the majority.

To learn how a government led by a self-righteous authoritarian like Trump might look like, I encourage you to read Thom Hartmann’s excellent essay for

Exposing Republican Lies And The Failures Of A Compliant Media.

I hope you will indulge me for promoting my new book, Antidote to Fact-Free Politics: Debunking the Falsehoods, Fabrications and Distortions Told by Conservatives and Perpetuated by the Media. It’s a culmination of months of research into the partisan lies that are unchallenged by the media, and repeated so often that they have become accepted as true.

The new book addresses 159 of these lies (I could easily have covered hundreds more) and refutes them with facts drawn almost entirely from government and nonpartisan sources. In fact, of the book’s 566 pages, 43 of them are devoted to references. Following is an excerpt taken from the Foreword that may better explain the book’s purpose:

“Why were Democrats unable to leverage the Bush failures and the resulting Great Recession into a majority that lasted at least through two terms of the Obama presidency?

Republicans would have you believe that it is because President Obama was a failure – the worst president in US history. They claimed that the President and a compliant Democratic-controlled Congress were leading the US down a path toward oblivion. Yet, by every objective measure, based on studies by world-renowned economists, the Obama administration was wildly successful in steering the economy back onto firm footing even as much of the world continued to struggle.

Certainly, the Democratic National Committee has to assume some responsibility for the GOP’s resilience. It has failed to create a brand message that clearly and succinctly states the Democratic Party’s core beliefs. As a result, it has had difficulty communicating with voters, and it has been unable to unite the diverse groups and interests that comprise its membership. In fact, the Party seems to foolishly pride itself on living up to the long-ago quote by humorist Will Rogers, “I’m not a member of any organized political party. I’m a Democrat.”

But the lack of branding, alone, does not explain what has happened in recent years. The truth of the matter is that Republicans have a number of structural advantages, including financial support from billionaires and many of the world’s largest corporations. They have an impressive number of litigation-minded “think tanks” determined to shape policy. Until recently, they enjoyed a majority in the US Supreme Court. They benefit from a network of media outlets that allow them to dominate media and control the message. In addition, over the past several decades, they have focused on building an advantage at the state and local level through gerrymandering and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group that writes legislation on behalf of corporate sponsors, peddling it to its many conservative legislative members.

In January of 2009, on the very day that President Obama was being sworn into office, Republicans began exploiting all of these advantages in their attempts to undermine the new president and the newly-elected Democratic Congress. Republican congressional leaders agreed to block and filibuster every Democratic initiative in order to make Barack Obama a one-term president. In doing so, they rendered Congress gridlocked and led voters to believe that Democrats were ineffectual.

At the same time, Republican representatives and former Bush officials flooded Sunday morning news shows to peddle a combination of distortions, fabrications and lies – lies that were seldom challenged by the shows’ moderators. The pundits on Fox News Channel repeated the same lies and more. They questioned the President’s birthplace, his religion and his patriotism, not to mention his policies. Talk radio, which has long been dominated by rightwing radio hosts, did the same, often going much farther. They called him a fascist, a socialist, a communist, even a racist. The rightwing blogosphere was worse, offering “proof” that the President was a Muslim interloper determined to destroy the US.

The performance by this combination of ideological zealots, demagogues and cynical opportunists would have made Richard Nixon and his “plumbers” of Watergate fame proud. And it has worked.

In this book, I strive to expose the lies. In doing so, I have relied on a combination of government reports, fact-checking organizations, peer-reviewed academic studies, investigative news reports and government statistics. Bear in mind that Republicans have also used statistics to bolster their narrative. But how you parse the numbers matters. For example, if you judge the Obama administration’s economic policies based on spending and unemployment numbers from the day President Obama took office, you would conclude that he has overspent and underperformed. In fact, that’s what his opponents want you to do. But if you consider what he inherited and the difficulties he faced – a failed economy, high unemployment and a Middle East embroiled in war – and then adjust the numbers accordingly, you will see quite a different picture.”

The book covers a wide range of subject matter ranging from lies about African-Americans to lies about war, and virtually everything in between. If you care about the future of our nation, indeed the future of our planet, I hope you will check it out.

Why We Should Be Even More Afraid Of Cruz And Rubio Than Donald Trump.

By now, most people know that Donald Trump is an insensitive, bigoted blowhard who would endanger all Americans and many others throughout the world. Yet despite his lack of policies, his grandiose promises, his angry rhetoric and threats, his refusal to denounce the endorsement by David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan, and his willingness to engage in genital-measuring contests, in my opinion, he is not as great a threat as Cruz and Rubio.

Why? It’s readily apparent what the Donald is. But Trump has so dominated the media coverage that few people have examined the goals of Cruz and Rubio.

Let’s begin with Cruz. He’s an avowed Christian who approaches both politics and religion with the same evangelical zeal. In fact, he seems to happily conflate the two. If his religion was in the mold of the Christ he claims to follow – a healer who was accepting of others, who cared for the less fortunate and who promoted love and peace above all else – that might not be such a problem. But the Christianity that Cruz worships is xenophobic, misogynistic, angry, hateful and judgmental. Worse yet, Cruz wants to make his Christianity the official religion of our nation. Never mind that his position stands in stark contrast with the Constitution, Cruz claims to understand the true intentions of the Founding Fathers.

On the issues of abortion, education, environment, gun control, access to health care, immigration reform, LGBT rights, Social Security and tax reform, Cruz’s positions are not just to the right of the majority of American citizens. His positions are to the far, far right of most rightwing conservatives. In other words, Cruz represents the ideology of a tiny minority of wacko Americans. Further, he listens to virtually no one – not the majority of Americans; not the majority of his constituents; not even the majority of the Senate GOP caucus.

Cruz doesn’t even seem to care about the nation’s well-being – as evidenced by his almost single-handedly shutting down the federal government. He simply does what he wants (or what he claims God wants), all the while invoking religion with the evangelical speaking style of his father. That’s why he has been called the most hated man in Washington. And, if he became president, he would likely become the most hated man on the planet.

Rubio, on the other hand, presents a very different danger.

If elected representatives were held to the same standards as school children, Rubio would have been placed in a detention center for truancy long ago. He has the worst attendance record in Congress. Unlike Cruz, Rubiobot does and says what his wealthy contributors want him to. That’s why he continues to repeat the same lines over and over as if he has been pre-programmed by his contributors, Glenn Beck and George W. Bush’s foreign policy advisers. In fact, he has. Is it any wonder, then, that Rubio has threatened to invade half the nations in the Middle East and beyond?

Like Cruz and Trump, Rubio’s policy positions are way to the right of the majority of Americans. A Rubio presidency would be no less disastrous than that of Cruz’s or Trump’s. In fact, if you long for the “good old days” of a Bush presidency based on unjustifiable wars, unaffordable tax cuts and skyrocketing deficits, you have found your candidate in Rubio.

Such is the current state of the GOP.

Trump Is Only A Symptom Of A More Serious Condition.

The success of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign should come as no surprise to anyone. It has been in the making since the Fairness Doctrine was repealed during the George H.W. Bush administration. That seemingly innocuous decision meant that US broadcast media no longer had to operate in the public interest. No longer held accountable to broadcast the truth, the radio airwaves were quickly dominated by rightwing conservatives such as Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck. Within a few years, more than 90 percent of talk radio was devoted to angry, hateful radio hosts telling the public that the government was too big, taxes were too high and liberals were wasting your money. These people treated politics as entertainment – the more hateful and bombastic they became, the higher their ratings.

Seizing on the opportunity that hate radio created, Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes created a cable TV version called Fox News Channel. Scarcely trying to disguise its partisanship, Fox became a vocal and very angry arm of the Republican National Committee. Ailes handed out Republican talking points at the beginning of each day, and the on-air hosts repeated them verbatim. Most of the network guests were Republicans, and if Democrats dared to appear on the network in order to correct the record, they were angrily shouted down…a tactic epitomized by a program host who lost custody of his children after grabbing his wife by the throat and dragging her down the stairs.

Fox News helped to create and promote the Tea Party, inflating the numbers of demonstrators while, at the same time, dismissing the racist rhetoric. The network took the side of those who brought guns to the demonstrations and threatened to “exercise their 2nd Amendment rights.” The network ramped up racist remarks surrounding the police killings of unarmed blacks – even that of a 12-year-old boy whose “crime” was playing with a toy gun. It supported virulent anti-government groups, such as those surrounding Cliven Bundy. And for more than 7 years, its program hosts have verbally attacked our president and celebrated the obstruction of his policies and court nominees.

Is it any wonder, then, that the same sort of hateful discourse has now permeated the Republican debates?

Donald Trump and his supporters have simply repeated what the rightwing media have been saying all along. They are immune to facts and the truth. They don’t care about policy discussions. Trump’s political movement is all about emotion – the emotions of anger and hate.

For its part, the Republican Party has reveled in the obstruction and destruction aimed at Democrats. Only now that it has become a very real possibility that Donald Trump could win the Republican nomination and potentially destroy the “Grand Old Party;” only now that the polls have shown that either Democratic candidate could defeat Trump, has the Party establishment become concerned.

But Trump is not the only potential problem. The rhetoric and actions of the other Republican candidates are just as ugly and just as hateful. They all portray an America few people recognize. They all feed off of the anger created and promoted by the media. They all act as if the political campaign is little more than a made-for-TV reality show with all of the substance and thoughtfulness of Honey Boo-Boo. And though such candidates are good for network ratings, any of them would be disastrous for the future of our nation and the world, if for no other reason than the fact that none of them recognize the impending disaster otherwise known as climate change.

We can only hope that voters repudiate the hate. We should hope that the Republican nominee is defeated in a landslide. Elections should be about policies and leadership. Not about ratings.