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 It has been in the making since the Fairness Doctrine was repealed during the George H.W. Bush administration.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.

What Does Your Party Stand For?

These days, it’s popular to say that there is no real difference between the political parties; that they are both in the pockets of large corporations. While it is true that, following recent Supreme Court decisions, both parties rely on the wealthy for campaign donations, there are sizeable differences in what the two parties stand for.

Based on its actions of the past 50 years, here’s what the Republican Party stands for: Large corporations, increased corporate welfare, increased mining, increased oil production, increased deforestation, increased corporate farming, increased corporate fishing, off-shoring of jobs and corporate profits, unfettered financial markets, tax cuts for corporations, tax cuts for the wealthy, privatization of Social Security, elimination of Medicaid and Medicare, elimination of Obamacare, more defense spending, more wars, more militarization of police, more guns (except at GOP events), the end of legal abortions, reduced access to contraception, elimination of the minimum wage, elimination of food stamps for the needy, elimination of estate taxes, elimination of labor unions, elimination of defined benefit pensions (except for corporate executives), elimination of family leave (except for corporate executives), elimination of the EPA, elimination of the FDA, elimination of the Dept. of Labor, elimination of the Dept. of Education, elimination of free public education, deportation of all undocumented immigrants, discrimination against women, discrimination against college students, discrimination against people of color, discrimination against gays, discrimination against non-Christians, a new Constitution based on the Ten Commandments, and limited voting rights based on color, age and income.

Here’s what the Democratic Party stands for: Virtually everything the Republican Party is against.

I truly wish all of this was an exaggeration. But, in fact, all of these policies have been supported by one or more of the GOP presidential candidates either by words or action.

The GOP Clown Car Has Turned Into A Clown Caravan.

With John Kasich’s recent announcement, there are now officially 16 – count ’em – 16 Teapublicans running for president. That’s certainly an impressive number. Now let’s talk about how many are actually qualified to be president.

Zero. None. Nada.

Certainly, some have led their respective states as governors. Others have been elected to Congress. Still others have been successful in business. Those credentials would certainly make them appear to be qualified. Yet their actual accomplishments – or lack of them – tell another story. For example, the leading clown is Donald Trump who inherited his wealth. After nearly gambling away his inheritance, he managed to rebuild his fortune through a combination of bullying tactics and his irrepressible loud mouth – neither of which are traits that would qualify him for public office. In fact, since declaring his intentions to run for office, he has already managed to offend US veterans, most of Mexico, and the majority of those not already eligible for mental health counseling.

Next in the polls is Scott Walker, the Koch-financed governor of Wisconsin who has led the gerrymandering of legislative districts, cut taxes for the wealthy, destroyed collective bargaining in Wisconsin and overseen the most sluggish economic recovery in the Midwest. A US economy based on Walker’s Wisconsin model would be disastrous.

Close behind, his clown shoe toes tripping on the heels of Walker’s, is Jeb Bush the man, who as governor of Florida, disenfranchised more than 10,000 eligible voters in order to hand the 2000 election to his brother. Do you really want to see yet another Bush in the White House? More to the point, do you really want to reward Jeb for subverting the democratic process?

Farther back in the clown caravan are Mike “Uncle Sugar” Huckabee who believes that we should let God run the country. Of course, that presumes that he has a direct connection to the supreme being. If that’s what you believe, why not just skip Huckabee and initiate a write-in campaign for Pope Francis or the Dali Lama? Certainly, they have more verifiable connections to higher beings.

Next, we have Marco Rubio who has long claimed to be a refugee of Castro’s Cuba, only the records show that his family left more than two years before the Cuban Revolution. In the polls, he’s followed by Tea Party favorite Dr. Ben Carson who has equated gay marriage to bestiality, Rand Paul, Ted “The Filibusterer” Cruz, Rick “Oops” Perry, Chris “Bridgegate” Christie, the aforementioned Kasich, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki, Rick Santorum, Carly Fiorina and Lindsey “I’ve never seen a war I didn’t like” Graham who, despite pedaling as fast as they can, are going in circles.

Nothing could better illustrate the dismal state of the Republican Party than its presidential candidates. If this is the best the Party can offer, then the Party is on life-support. And if – gasp – one of them is actually elected, our nation will likely soon be in a similar state of despair.

The Tao Of Politics.

I am not a Taoist. Nevertheless, I have learned that the philosophy of Taoism has much to offer. The Taoist concept of Yin and Yang holds that nothing is ever entirely black or white; hard or soft; good or bad. Taoism teaches that good people can do bad things. It also teaches that those we consider bad can, on occasion, do good things.

This is particularly true as it pertains to politics.

For example, I know many who are otherwise caring, loving people who would deny food, shelter, health care and other human necessities to the unfortunate simply because their Republican Party preaches personal responsibility. They have become convinced that the poor are merely taking advantage of those of us who have been successful. They want to believe that the majority of the poor are lazy. Such thinking allows them to look the other way when they see someone who is in desperate need of help.

They cannot conceive that someone can work hard and still struggle to feed their families because they are underpaid by large, greedy corporations. They falsely believe that minimum wage jobs are entry level jobs that are the first step up the economic ladder. In past times, that may have been true. But in today’s economy, with many of our high-paying jobs now shipped offshore, for many people, the economic ladder has been pushed aside by greedy corporate executives.

Many Republicans refuse to accept that the American Dream no longer exists for many people; that the US is not the land of opportunity it once was; that no amount of hard work can pull many of the unfortunate out of poverty; that the US now has less upward mobility than most of the rest of the industrialized world.

As a result, many good Republicans cheered when the federal government cut $5 billion from the annual budget of SNAP (food stamps) – an amount equal to all of the charitable organizations in the nation (501c4 “charities” such as American Crossroads and FreedomWorks, not included). The same people who would gladly give food and money to a family member or neighbor are still clamoring to cut another $4-40 billion from SNAP at a time when 1 in 6 Americans and 1 in 4 American children are dealing with hunger.

These grinches are not bad people. They are simply uninformed or misinformed.

These champions of personal responsibility and faith are convinced that social safety nets are not only unnecessary. They believe that social programs are creating a culture of dependence. They believe that the minimum wage, labor unions and government regulation are threats to our economy.

They believe that subsidies and giveaways to large corporations are good. But that subsidies and giveaways to people are bad. Why? If it’s true that corporations are people, shouldn’t they both be treated equally? If a half dozen banks are considered too big to fail, shouldn’t group consisting of millions of poor Americans also be considered too big to fail?

Taoism teaches that all things are part of a greater whole – the great Tao – and that if you harm another, in reality you harm yourself. Caring Republicans would be wise to keep that in mind.

“RNC Needs To Be Closed For Repairs.”

That’s what former Senator and Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole said about today’s Republican National Committee. Asked if he would fit into the GOP today, he said, “I doubt it…Ronald Reagan wouldn’t have made it. Certainly Nixon wouldn’t have made it, because he had ideas.”

Now Former Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) has reiterated Dole’s comments. “The Republican Party is undergoing some, you know, significant and serious changes, and they are going to have to rethink their approach as a political party and how they are going to regroup and become a governing majority party that appeals to a broader group of Americans than they do today,” she said.

Dole and Snowe are the latest in a long line of moderate Republicans to decry their own party…or, more accurately, what’s left of their party.

But don’t expect Dole’s and Snowe’s comments to make much of an impact on the party. Today’s Republicans, especially their Tea Party parasites, simply don’t listen to reason. They live in an imaginary world where faith prevails over science; ideology over mathematics; anger over compromise; fantasy over history.

According to today’s Republicans, Ronald Reagan never raised taxes, Reagan and Bush never presided over deficits, and neither contributed to the national debt. They believe Watergate was merely a second-rate burglary, Reagan never sold weapons to Iran, and Bush never lied about WMD in Iraq.

In Republican World, only liberals and socialists rely on government while Republicans rely on their investments and hard work. On their own Red Planet, Republicans believe that government is unnecessary because free markets are self-correcting and self-policing; if corporations cheat or lie, they simply won’t survive…never mind the impact on consumers.

In Republican World, all scientists are wrong about climate change; all economists are wrong about the negative effects of austerity; and evolution is just a theory.

Most important, in the new Republican Party, all real Republicans toe the party line; independent thought is heresy; and former Republican officials who criticize the party are just that…former Republicans .