18 GOP Actions That Have Undermined America.

For those of you who believe that there is little difference between the two political parties, I submit that one party is generally on the side of civil rights, social justice and issues that benefit ordinary Americans, while the other continually finds itself on the wrong side of history. In my lifetime, the decisions of GOP strategists and leaders have ranged from those that have been economically disastrous to those that have been blatantly unconstitutional to some that have bordered on outright treason. Yet, through a combination of propaganda, cunning politics, and the failings of Democratic leadership, the GOP has consistently gathered enough support to reshape America into a semi-theocratic oligarchy.

Following are just a few such decisions.

National Prayer Breakfast – Begun in 1953 during the Eisenhower administration as the Presidential Prayer Breakfast, the event has turned into a day-long series of Christian-themed events organized by The Fellowship Foundation. Contrary to the Constitution, the day’s events show a clear preference for Christianity and have bridged the separation of church and state.

Nixon’s Interference with Vietnam Peace Talks – Transcripts of FBI wiretaps from 1968 revealed that then-presidential candidate Richard Nixon ordered his liaison Anna Chennault to persuade the South Vietnam government to refuse a cease-fire brokered by LBJ. Nixon’s action not only violated the Logan Act. It led to the deaths of an additional 20,000 US soldiers and the wounding of 100,000 more. In addition, more than a million more Vietnamese were killed.

Watergate – During his campaign for re-election in 1972, Nixon created a “plumbers unit” to interfere with the campaigns of his Democratic opponents. Aside from its dirty tricks, Nixon hoped the unit might also stop any leaks that could potentially damage him. Only when the plumbers were caught breaking into the Democratic National Committee, did Nixon finally pay for his attempts to subvert our democratic elections.

Southern Strategy – Beginning in the early seventies, following the passage of the Voting Rights Act, the GOP made a concerted effort to reach out to racist Southern Democrats. Led by Republican strategist, Lee Atwater, the party began inserting dog whistle-style terms into their campaign speeches to appeal to southerners. References to states’ rights, welfare queens, and school busing let them know that the GOP was on their side without resorting to less socially acceptable terms that would label them as racist. In one of the greatest ironies of all time, the strategy helped the Party of Lincoln to turn the South red and allowed the former slave states to make good on their post-Civil War vow that the South would rise again.

NRA Legislation – Beginning in 1977, the National Rifle Association abandoned its original mission of promoting marksmanship and gun safety. That was replaced with a new mission to help gun manufacturers generate more sales. The NRA then conspired with the GOP to introduce legislation that would obliterate gun control laws, allowing the sale of new, more lethal weaponry. It has also used fear – fear of the government, fear of minorities and fear of the “other” – to relax conceal and carry gun laws. At the same time, the NRA pushed legislation that would ban the tracking of gun violence. It even introduced legislation to prevent physicians from talking to parents about gun safety.

Firing of PATCO Members – By firing the striking air traffic controllers who complained of high levels of stress and long hours, Reagan’s actions essentially marked the beginning of the end for labor unions. Despite all of the good that labor unions have done for American workers by increasing wages, benefits and workplace safety, thanks to Reagan, they are still under assault to this day.

Pharmaceutical Advertising – Before 1981 and the Reagan administration’s disdain for government interference into “free markets,” an FDA regulation prevented pharmaceutical companies from marketing their products directly to consumers. The agency’s decision to drop the regulation as a result of pressure from Republicans led to an avalanche of ads asking viewers to “ask your doctors about (INSERT DRUG NAME HERE)”. This not only flooded the airwaves with boring and confusing commercials. It put pressure on doctors to prescribe the drugs. And it almost certainly led to higher drug prices.

Repeal of Fairness Doctrine – By repealing the Fairness Doctrine, which required the holders of broadcast licenses to high standards of honest and balanced reporting, the FCC flung open the doors to partisan broadcast news media. Within a year of its repeal in 1987, 92 percent of all talk radio was dominated by right-wing ideologues. Soon after, the Fox News Channel became a mouthpiece for conservative Republicans. Worse, the decision allowed politicians to question the credibility of news media for their own gain.

Gingrich Doctrine – The former Speaker of the House’s fondness for European-style parliamentary politics led him to superimpose the concept of a unified voting bloc onto our system of two-party politics. He required GOP congressmen to toe the party line or face the threat of a GOP-backed opponent in their primaries. More than any other single act, it created the “party over country” attitude and extreme divisiveness that we see today.

Deregulation of Banks and Savings & Loans – President Reagan led the charge to deregulate banks and other financial institutions. The deregulation resulted in the undermining of usury laws, an explosion in interest rates, a blurring of the distinction between commercial and savings banks, the ensuing S&L crisis and, eventually, the banking collapse of 2008.

Gore v Bush – When the conservative-controlled Supreme Court ruled that the voting recount in Florida could not continue, it not only gave the White House to George W. Bush despite Al Gore’s majority in the popular vote. It emboldened the GOP to replicate the voter suppression methods used by Florida in 2000. GOP-controlled states have since gone to more extreme lengths to sway elections – purging voter rolls, gerrymandering, requiring specific forms of voter IDs that are difficult for certain segments of the electorate to obtain, reducing early voting hours, and reducing the number of polling places in precincts that lean heavily Democratic.

Bush Tax Cuts – Faced with a budget surplus created during the Clinton administration, the George W. Bush administration decided to push for a series of “temporary” tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 that mostly benefited the rich. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that the cuts added approximately $5.6 trillion to the national debt. That means the Bush tax cuts are responsible for more than one-quarter of the entire national debt as of the end of 2017.

Bush’s Pre-Emptive Invasion of Iraq – The Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003, based on what it perceived to be a potential threat to US security, represented a huge change in US policy. Never before had the US invaded another country without having first been attacked. The decision, which was made based on false pretenses, embroiled our military in a lengthy conflict and eventually led to the creation of ISIS, aka the Islamic State.

Torture Memos – When Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo authored a set of legal memoranda stating that enhanced education methods were legal, he unleashed the CIA and the Pentagon to torture Iraqis and other combatants. When the torture was revealed by a series of photos taken at Abu Ghraib prison, it created a national embarrassment and damaged the US’s reputation throughout the world. It also inspired terrorists and helped them to recruit as never before.

Citizens United v FEC – The conservative majority of the Supreme Court ruled that money equaled free speech in the Buckley v Valeo case. A short time later, in Citizens United v FEC, the Court ruled that corporations had the same rights as individuals, especially in regard to contributing to political candidates. The result of the two decisions was to unleash nearly unlimited sums of election campaign money. Using Political Action Committees and non-profit corporations, campaign donors are now free to contribute large sums to political candidates while remaining anonymous.

End of Net Neutrality – By voting to end Net Neutrality, the GOP-controlled FCC announced an end to the Internet as we know it. It will allow Internet service providers to choose winners and losers by charging websites and users differently based on content, application, method of communication or download speeds. And like the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, the decision could dramatically change politics.

GOP Tax Scam – Portrayed as tax “reform,” the Trump tax cuts of 2017 are a massive giveaway to large corporations, the very wealthy and developers like Trump himself. In effect, the cuts will redistribute wealth upward to those who least need it and, in the process, add $1-2 trillion to the national debt. Hidden in the bill are measures that will lead to large cuts to Medicare, oil leases in the Arctic National Wildlife and Recreational area and the repeal of the ACA’s individual mandate that will cause as many as 13 million Americans to lose access to health care.

Trump Administration – It is now clear that Russia interfered with the 2016 election in order to elect Trump. It is also clear that Trump appointments to lead various government agencies are intended to damage the agencies themselves. Combined with Trump’s attacks on the media, it appears that the administration has embarked on a strategy to undermine the institutions that are critical to our democracy. And, if it is proven that there was coordination with the Russians, Americans may never again be able to trust the outcomes of our elections.

It’s Time For White People To Face Facts.

Given that our Racist-in-Chief excused and encouraged the worst elements of our society – white supremacists and neo-Nazis – this might be a good time to share a chapter from my book Antidote to Fact-Free Politics: Debunking the Falsehoods, Fabrications and Distortions Told by Conservatives and Perpetuated by the Media.

LIE #1: “America is a post-racial society.”

One has to wonder, which America are they talking about? They most certainly cannot be referring to the United States of America. Try telling the families of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and other unarmed African-Americans who have been murdered that they live in a post-racial America. Try explaining why their killers have not faced consequences for their actions. Try telling the people of Ferguson, Missouri that it was not just African-Americans who were subjected to unjust traffic tickets and escalating fines in order to finance the city’s services. Try telling the members of Black Lives Matter that America is no longer divided by race, and that people of color are no longer singled out for police brutality. Try telling people of color that they are treated fairly in the media.

For example, faced with the Black Lives Matter movement, the pundits on Fox News Channel and other networks quickly pointed to black-on-black crime, implying that ordinary black people don’t deserve protection from police and the courts until they end violence in their neighborhoods. Producers for TV entertainment shows and commercials deny all but a small percentage of leading roles to black actors. And police “reality” shows focus almost exclusively on crimes committed by blacks while ignoring crimes committed by whites. When asked why one show ignored white collar crime, the producer said something like, “Because no one wants to see old white men in cuffs with their shirts off.”

The fact is that white Americans ignore racism because it seldom negatively impacts them. After all, it’s not white Americans who have their job applications ignored because they don’t have the right kind of names. It’s not white Americans who have to tell their children not to wear hoodies for fear they will be shot. It’s not white Americans who are racially profiled and their cars routinely pulled over. It’s not white people who were singled out as part of New York City’s ill-conceived “stop and frisk” policy.

Today, African-Americans face discrimination in ways that are not all that different from the days of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 60s. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for the 4th quarter of 2015, the unemployment rate for whites was 4.1 percent, while the unemployment rate for African-Americans was 10.5 percent.

The discrimination starts early in life as shown by a report from the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

After compiling data from all of the nation’s 97,000 public schools representing 49 million students, the OCR released a comprehensive report on the promise of equal education.

Among the report’s key findings:

Students of color are “…disproportionately affected by suspensions and zero-tolerance policies in schools.” In fact, black students represent 18 percent of preschool enrollment but 42 percent of the students who are suspended once and 48 percent of the students suspended more than once. The report also concluded, “Suspended students are less likely to graduate on time and more likely to be suspended again. They are also more likely to repeat a grade, drop out, and become involved in the juvenile justice system.”

In addition, the report found that students of color are more likely to have teachers with less experience. The students also have significantly less access to a full range of math and science courses in high school.

According to the Frontline documentary on PBS, A Return to School Segregation in America?, 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education – the landmark Supreme Court decision that ruled segregated schools are unconstitutional – gains in desegregation have been lost. The documentary cited a report by UCLA’s The Project on Civil Rights, which found that the nation has suffered a gradual re-segregation fueled by court rulings that have allowed states to set aside integration orders.

By 1988, the percentage of black children in white schools across the South began to rise steadily from zero to nearly 44 percent. But that’s where it peaked as Republican administrations began pushing “school choice” – code for re-segregation. By 2011, the percentage of black students in white schools was just 23.2 percent – lower than it was at the end of the civil rights movement in 1968! This is despite studies which have found that students who attend integrated schools perform better socially and psychologically, and that being exposed to different viewpoints in schools helps students better develop critical thinking skills.

Following the election of the nation’s first president of African-American descent, it may be understandable for white Americans to think racism is behind us. But very few of our nation’s leaders are black. Congress is still disproportionately controlled by white men. The vast majority of state governments are controlled by white men. And the leaders of US corporations are still disproportionately white men.

Fact is, our nation is only 3-4 generations removed from black slavery; only 50 years removed from Jim Crow laws; less than 50 years removed from “red-lining” – the practice of banks refusing to write mortgages for black people trying to purchase a home outside of a black area.

When African-American slaves were freed, they had nothing of their own…no land, no jobs, no homes, no education, no vote and few personal possessions. Indeed, many former slaves had no families, as their family members had often been sold away from their plantations. And the concept of slaves having been given 40 acres and a mule following the Civil War is largely fiction.

It takes generations for people to recover from such a plight – a plight made all the more difficult by prejudice and segregation.

Let’s Not Over-Analyze Trump’s Victory.

Despite the blame being heaped onto the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party, I believe it was never a fair contest. Hillary was outgunned by a biased media; by a partisan FBI director; and by Russian interference. But even without those things, Hillary may have fallen victim, as did Trump’s primary opponents, to the cultural changes that have taken place over the past five decades.

Those who voted for Trump simply wanted to throw a live grenade into Washington without regard for the aftermath. They have been enticed by a right-wing ideology that has destroyed respect for America’s greatest institutions – the federal government, the court system, traditional news media, science, and public education.

Contrary to popular belief, Trump voters were not merely blue collar workers who are struggling as the result of globalization. In fact, many of Trump’s supporters are comfortably retired, or are quite wealthy. These people were driven to vote for Trump out of the fear that they will lose their power and wealth to immigrants and people of color. Indeed, for many, President Obama was the embodiment of that fear.

Certainly, there is also the rural-urban divide that has been much discussed. But that is based on economic conditions that no president or administration can easily solve. It has followed the demise of the family farmer. Since the 1960’s, the size of farms has grown by ten-fold. As a consequence, there are far fewer people to shop in small towns.

In addition, franchise organizations and large box stores like Walmart, which are subsidized by governments, have used predatory pricing to hollow out the retail centers of small and medium-sized towns. That means there are far fewer independent retailers, and far fewer small-town jobs that pay a living wage.

At the same time, robots have replaced human workers in auto plants and other manufacturing plants.

Those who once worked in rural communities and mid-size cities have been left with a choice: Either continue to struggle, or give up the only lifestyle they have known and move to the large urban centers. These people are angry…at their former employers, at their government, and at what they see as the urban “elites” who seem to be do doing much better than they are.

Obviously, their anger is misplaced. But they have fallen victim to the new GOP’s message of fear – fear of those they don’t know and don’t understand. And their fear is driven by Republican propaganda on Fox News; on right-wing radio; on Breitbart News; on social media. During this past election, they were also deluded by a plethora of fake news sites – many of them financed by Putin’s Russia.

Addressing their anger and their plight will not be easy. Jobs lost to corporate farms, big box stores and robots will not be coming back. And adding tariffs to goods from our international trading partners, as Trump suggests, will only make matters worse by increasing the cost of the goods they need.

No president can wave a wand and bring back family farms and restore small towns to their former glory. That would take an act of Congress to end subsidies for corporate farms; to make multinational corporations pay their fair share of taxes; to make the wealthy pay their share of income taxes. But those things are anathema to those who now control Congress and the White House. Instead, they are committed to trickle-down economics on steroids – an economic theory that has never worked.

Given that reality, it seems likely that the new government will have to distract their angry rural supporters by creating a diversion. It’s likely they will try to re-focus the anger toward immigrants; toward Muslims; toward Planned Parenthood.

Oh wait! They’ve already done that. That’s how they got elected to begin with!

A Stark Contrast.

I truly appreciate the views of my conservative friends with regard to politics. After all, I was raised in a reliably Republican household. I believe in eliminating government waste. I believe that people should take responsibility for the own lives and their own actions. Even after the GOP was over-run with religious extremists, I shared many of the party’s beliefs. For most of my life, I was an independent voter.

The party lost me was when the Nixon-Agnew ticket used propaganda and lies to divide us; when Nixon intervened in the Paris peace talks with North Vietnam for political advantage; when the Nixon administration created the War on Drugs for the purpose of marginalizing and incarcerating minorities which were seen as political opponents; when Nixon tried to subvert our democracy by ordering the burglary of the DNC offices in the Watergate complex.

I was further alienated when Ronald Reagan reportedly sent envoys to meet with Iran’s Islamic leaders to delay the release of our embassy hostages until after his election; when the GOP tried to marginalize those who disagreed with its “Moral Majority” presuming that its opponents were immoral; when the Reagan administration eliminated the tax write-offs for interest on loans other than mortgages creating history’s largest tax increase on the middle class; when the Reagan administration trained Central American death squads and was caught selling weapons to Iran in order to meddle in Central American politics.

As someone with a journalism degree, I was horrified when President H.W. Bush engineered the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine – an action that turned our electronic news media into little more than megaphones for the propaganda spewed by Fox News Channel and the rantings of conservative radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Alex Jones, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and the dozens of other hate-mongers who dominate more than 90 percent of talk radio.

As a former business owner, I was infuriated when my larger competitors received a myriad of GOP-initiated tax breaks and subsidies that were unavailable to my company.

I was shocked when then Florida governor Jeb Bush corrupted the Florida elections that his brother might be awarded the White House – a fact later proven by a consortium of independent media. I was infuriated when, after reading Richard (the Dick) Cheney’s Plan for a New American Century which included a call for the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration acted on the plan based on false and misleading information. I became disgusted when the GOP co-opted the US flag and patriotism by denigrating anyone who opposed its ill-conceived wars.

I could go on to include the vast increases in our national debt caused by Reagan and Bush tax cuts that largely benefited the very rich, the attack on labor unions, the undermining of defined benefit pension plans, the housing crash and subsequent financial collapse of 2008, the utter disregard for the poor and the hungry, the attempts to privatize our public lands – including numerous national treasures – for development, the dismissal of science to maintain the profits of fossil fuel companies at the cost of the health of our planet, and the unfounded and racist attacks on our first black president.

Through all of that, I could still empathize with my conservative relatives and friends and their strongly-held principles of personal responsibility and cutting government waste. But now…now…the party has taken a step way too far.

It has nominated Donald J. Trump for president!

This is a bombastic billionaire who has said and done hundreds of despicable things – any one of which would have disqualified other candidates from pursuing the office. By any traditional measure, he is unfit for the office of dog catcher, let alone the highest office in the land. Following is an abbreviated list:

Family values? Trump is thrice-married and twice-divorced. (Former Senator Gary Hart was famously disqualified for seeking the nomination for a single affair and President Clinton faced impeachment by Republicans over a sexual incident with a White House intern.) He has been accused of a violent rape by one of his ex-wives. He has been accused of sexually assaulting other women, including minors. He has even publicly displayed lechery toward his own daughter, saying if she wasn’t his daughter he’d like to have sex with her!

Demeanor? Trump thrives on name-calling. He encouraged his supporters to assault those who demonstrate against him. And he has talked about physically assaulting those who spoke out against him at the Democratic National Convention.

Patriotism? Trump successfully sought a draft deferment for bone spurs in his foot – an injury that did not prevent him from competing in college athletics. When asked, he said that he couldn’t even remember which foot was injured. He also lied about donating the proceeds of a rally to charity.

Business acumen? Trump inherited much of his wealth yet, even by his own estimation of his wealth, he has earned less than if he had simply invested his inheritance in a stock index fund. He is also one of a very few casino owners who has declared bankruptcy – something previously considered impossible. And he is hated by many in Scotland and Florida for his golf course developments.

Business ethics? He has been involved in thousands of lawsuits – many of them from contractors he refused to pay for their services. He is currently being sued by a girl scout troop that he refused to pay after they performed at a rally. His bankruptcies allowed him to walk away with millions while leaving his creditors – most of them small business owners – in the lurch. And he is currently being sued for fraud over his Trump “University.”

Charity? When it comes to donations to charities, Trump has long been known as a cheapskate and, according to The Washington Post, he has donated precious little to his own Trump Foundation.

Honesty? His acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention contained no fewer than 21 lies! And, according to fact-checking organizations such as Politifact.com, throughout the campaign, he has been the least honest of all of the major party candidates. And it’s not even close.

Empathy? Some have called him a “Blue Collar Billionaire.” Seriously? Is there really such a thing? Trump conducts many of his media interviews while sitting in a gold chair in a gold-decorated penthouse that has more in common with a dictator’s palace than a blue collar family’s home. In addition, he has made numerous racist statements. He is guilty of race-baiting at his rallies. And he famously demeaned a reporter for a physical disability.

Understanding of foreign policy? Republican strategist Nicolle Wallace recently stated that Trump has less knowledge of foreign policy than Sarah Palin! She went on to say that while Palin wanted to learn, but couldn’t, Trump is completely disinterested in the subject. Further, Trump said that the US should exit the WTO (World Trade Organization), a move that would be devastating to US businesses.

Preparedness to lead? Trump has never held office, except in his own corporation. He has no understanding of the workings of our government and no commitment to public service. One has to question if he has even read our Constitution. After all, many of his promises would be blatantly unconstitutional. Maybe that’s why 4 of the last 5 people to receive the GOP nomination for president refused to attend his coronation…er…nomination at the RNC convention. Maybe that’s why the Republican governor of the host state refused to attend. And maybe that’s why none of the living presidents has endorsed him.

Understanding of national security? Trump has stated that he wouldn’t necessarily support our NATO allies against an invasion (presumably by Russia). Worse, he called for Russia to hack the emails of a former cabinet secretary and political opponent! As a result, many in our intelligence community do not want to include him in the customary briefings on national security.

Okay, I know many of my conservative friends and relatives dislike and distrust Hillary. Yes, I know you’ve probably heard accusations that Hillary stole investors’ money in Whitewater; that she unconstitutionally fired those who worked in the White House Travel Office; that she ordered the murder of Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster; that she put the US consulate in Benghazi at risk and ordered the military to stand down when it was attacked; that she “illegally” used a private email server for State Department business then, when caught, erased thousands of incriminating emails.

Certainly, Hillary has made mistakes, but they are mistakes made while serving others. Though she misread the commitment of moderate rebels in Libya and Syria, so did most of the world leaders. Though she was horrified at the attack on the consulate, there was no opportunity to save the ambassador and, contrary to right wing claims, she had no authority to tell the military to stand down. Though she admits to making a mistake by using a private email server like her Republican predecessor as Secretary of State, there was no apparent harm done, except to her reputation. And though she has made statements that were later proven false, she is a beacon of honesty compared to her opponent.

Those are not the excuses of an apologist. Those are facts.

Few talk about the many things she has done right during a lifetime of service. Moreover, few people on our planet have undergone such scrutiny as the Clintons. The investigations into the so-called “scandals” have cost roughly $100 million over a quarter century. They have garnered billions of dollars of media coverage in a constant drip, drip, drip that has been orchestrated by her political opponents. Yet, after all of the investigations led by Republicans and government agencies, little of substance has been found – certainly nothing that would disqualify her from seeking the presidency.

Her opponent, on the other hand, constantly demonstrates – with his mouth and his actions – that he is completely unfit for office.

A Little Perspective On The Boston Bombing Suspects.

Before Americans get all high and mighty and resume the same Islam bashing that followed 9/11, we should remember this:

Islamic terrorists no more represent Islam than the Westboro Baptist Church represents Protestantism. They no more represent Islam than pedophile priests represent Catholicism. They no more represent Chechnya, Russia, or immigrants than they represent boxers, wrestlers, lifeguards, jazz pianists, and medical students.

Their violent acts were not the result of a national decline in “moral” values, a permissive society, or of violent video games. And, no, Fox News Channel, hate radio hosts and Tea Party Parrots…they certainly weren’t encouraged or permitted by the Obama administration.

They were obviously intelligent and talented young men who were angry, confused, misguided and possibly used. No one knows their motives for sure, but we should not blame others for their violent actions.

Sorry For The Interruption.

This site has been unavailable for nearly a week. I can’t blame Teapublicans, Fox News Channel, Rush Limbaugh or any of the other angry, right wing zealots who would like to silence the left. The reason for the interruption was nothing quite that interesting.

It was simply the result of technical problems. 

Thanks for your patience. I’m happy to be back.


This is a blog that will cover opinions on a wide variety of topics.  It’s my hope that it will stimulate thoughtful discussion and debate.