America’s Great Character Test.

Each 4th of July, we celebrate Independence Day, the day the Declaration of Independence was ratified by the Second Continental Congress. That act, of course, led to the Revolutionary War, our freedom from a tyrannical king and the world’s longest-lasting democratic experiment.

It was called an experiment by our nation’s founders because they were uncertain if our citizens could maintain it. Though the Constitution was written to “establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity,” the framers could not guarantee that it would last.

They were right to be worried.

Since the original Independence Day, our nation has faced a number of critical tests. Tests that have required character, courage, determination, luck and a great deal of our citizens’ blood. From its beginning, the Revolution was very much in doubt. Even after the defeat of British forces, we had to face them again in the War of 1812. Then came the Civil War, a war testing the founders’ original belief that “all men are created equal.”

World War II again put the future of our nation in doubt as it raised the question of whether or not we could defeat the cruelty of fascism.

Of course, we passed each and every test. But it remains to be determined if we can fend off fascism and tyranny from within.

Ironically, just prior to this Independence Day, our nation’s highest court has made the defense of liberty and democracy much more difficult. Following years of political division and challenges to the rule of law by former president Trump and his supporters, the court’s highly partisan MAGA majority ignored one of the founders’ most intensely held beliefs – that no man is above the rule of law. Their decision has not only delayed justice for Trump’s illegal activities. Should Trump be elected again, the court has given him immunity for “official acts” no matter how corrupt or cruel they may be.

We all know that Trump’s mindset has always been that of a narcissistic, sociopathic bully – one who was mentored by Roy Cohn, attorney to Sen. Joseph McCarthy and the New York Mafia. During his term in office, Trump was held partially in check by men of good conscience. Men like John Kelly, H.R. McMaster, Gen. Mark Milley, and, in the end, V.P. Mike Pence.

But, according to the Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025 and Trump’s Agenda 47, should Trump be re-elected, no one of good conscience will be anywhere near him. The entire executive branch, and virtually the entire government will be filled with tens of thousands of Trump loyalists. Unfettered by legal and ethical constraints, Trump will be free to do what bullies do – seize power and exact retribution on anyone and everyone he considers an enemy.

His enemies list is already quite long. And it’s growing. It includes anyone who dares to question his decisions and who makes negative statements about him.

So, this November, Americans will face another test that will determine the future of our democratic experiment – a character test. Will we choose a leader, such as Joe Biden, a man who has long proven to be of good character? A leader who, though you may or may not agree with his policies, believes in democracy to his core. A man who has accomplished much in his political career. Who led us out of the pandemic. Who helped put our economy back on firm footing. Who engineered a bipartisan infrastructure bill.

A leader whose policies have led to near full employment, record wage growth, and record stock markets. A man who has taken on some of the world’s greatest problems, such as wealth disparity and climate change. A man, who unlike Trump, stands for truth. A man who has never been divorced, who has never been convicted of a felony or defamation or sexual assault. A man who has never needed to pay hush money to women with whom he has had affairs. A man who has never created a fraudulent “university” or a fraudulent charity. A man who has never led an attack on our government and institutions.

Indeed, the biggest knock against him is his age and the fact that he botched a debate when overwhelmed by Trump’s avalanche of lies.

Or will we choose a lying, womanizing, false prophet and conman totally lacking in character? A man who is known to admire the world’s worst strongmen and who will undoubtedly emulate them. A man who sees our government as a personal piggy bank. A man who will try to turn the world order upside down by embracing our nation’s enemies and alienating our greatest allies.

But the decision isn’t just about the candidates’ character. It’s about yours.

The Greatest Challenges Of The 21st Century.

Through the rest of this century, the world is facing a number of seemingly insurmountable problems – problems for which there appear to be no easy answers. Some so complex and so threatening that they could doom humanity for all eternity. Yet, even for those challenges, there are answers if we are willing to acknowledge the problems and make the changes so urgently required.

Here they are in ascending order of difficulty:

Rise of Authoritarianism – The solution for this one is exceedingly simple: Vote! Vote only for those politicians who are committed to democracy. Fight tyranny at every turn. No politician who embraces discrimination of any kind belongs in office.

Corporate Consolidation – The phenomenon of too-big-to-fail banks and multinational corporations has led to a wide variety of problems for humanity. These include a lack of competition leading to inflation, the elimination of pension funds for workers, the growing disparity of income between CEOs and workers, the exporting of jobs in the search for ever cheaper and more compliant labor…the list is long.

Fortunately, the solution is also simple. Indeed, Congress gave us a seldom-used tool to break up these industrial cabals and growing monopolies: The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. It’s time our government used it.

Wealth Disparity – Globally, the richest 10% of the global population currently take home 52% of the income. Those in the poorest half of the global population earn just 8%.

In the U.S., the wealthiest one percent of Americans hold more than 32 percent of the nation’s wealth. The top 10 percent hold 77 percent of the wealth, while the bottom 50 percent of households hold just one percent of the wealth. And 7.5 percent of the population has a negative net worth – meaning they are in debt.

By race, white households hold more than 86 percent of the wealth while black and Latino households hold less than 3 percent of the wealth.

And, until the election of President Biden the problem has only gotten worse, a result of the vicious economic policy called Trickle-Down Theory that was embraced by Ronald Reagan and every Republican president since. The subsequent wealth gap has led to growing poverty and food insecurity, unfair tax policies, a government that is bought and paid for by wealthy individuals and corporations, and a loss of tax revenue that has led to a growing national debt.

Yet there is some glimmer of hope for those at the bottom of the wealth scale. According to the Federal Reserve, the average wealth of the bottom half of Americans has increased by 80 percent since 2019, perhaps as a result of President Biden’s policies. (Of course, wealth growth is statistically much more profound if you have very little wealth to begin with.)

The solutions to wealth disparity also seem relatively simple: Enact a wealth tax and impose strict limits on donations to political campaigns. That could give all Americans a chance at the equal representation our Founders intended.

Gun Violence – The U.S. suffers approximately 20,000 violent gun deaths each year (not including suicides) and more than 35,000 gun injuries. Thanks to the NRA, other so-called gun rights groups, and gun manufacturers, police have to assume that every person they encounter is armed. Our schools and many public buildings have become virtual fortresses in an attempt to prevent mass shootings. And, from the age of 5, children are taught to live in fear of active shooters. No other developed nation in the world experiences these problems. But our gun manufacturers are trying to change that by exporting guns to criminal gangs worldwide.

It doesn’t have to be this way!

The solution is to follow Australia’s lead by banning and collecting guns, especially semi-automatics. Instead, as exemplified by the recent Supreme Court decision overturning the ban on bump stocks, the U.S. is headed in the opposite direction.

Climate Crisis – The U.S. has long led the world in the amount of fossil fuels burned per capita. And now we are the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas. For more than 50 years, scientists have been warning us that, by incinerating fossil fuels, we are in danger of incinerating our planet. Unwilling to believe them, we have protected our fossil fuel industry and refused to modify our unsustainable lifestyle.

Sure, we have made some limited progress by recycling, better insulating our homes, producing more energy efficient appliances, and expanding the use of renewable fuels. But those measures are far too little, too late.

We led the world in establishing an extravagant, disposable culture. Now we need to lead the world to live within our planet’s means. Change is possible. But we must hurry. As you can see by the ever-increasing, ever more violent storms and other climate-related disasters, time is running out, and quickly.

Mass Migration – In recent years, migrants have flooded the borders of the United States and other highly developed nations. As a result of wars, violent gangs, autocratic rulers, and natural disasters such as drought, storms, and flooding, millions of people are faced with the choice of either migrating or dying.

Think immigrants are ruining your country? Then demand that our politicians do something to improve circumstances in their home countries. And be willing to open your hearts as well as your pocketbooks to help.

Mass Extinctions – In Earth’s history, there have been 5 mass extinctions defined as the loss of 75 percent of all species within a relatively short period of time. Scientists tell us that we are about to experience a sixth mass extinction as the result of human activities such as deforestation, unsustainable food production, pollution, encroachment of habitat, and the burning of fossil fuels.

Currently, extinction of species is occurring 1,000 to 10,000 times more rapidly than the natural rate. Why should we care?

First, we are living in an ecosystem. The life of one species depends on the life of others. Second, the world will become a much less interesting and livable place without some of the most vulnerable species. And third, we’re one of the species that could go extinct!

You already know the ways to mitigate the sixth mass extinction: Stop wasting resources, limit the use of fossil fuels, limit travel, stop polluting, and quickly transition to a mostly plant-based diet.

We have been the problem. Now we must become the solution.

Artificial Intelligence – AI could be the answer to many of our problems. Or, it could add to them. It simply depends on how we use it.

Used properly, AI can help us eradicate diseases, streamline research, create solutions for complex problems, perform the most dangerous and boring jobs, and help us to objectively solve conflicts.

AI-driven vehicles could make our roads safer and more orderly. AI could make logistics more efficient and more predictable. The possibilities are endless.

But there’s a much darker side to AI.

AI is already creating deepfakes – fake videos and images of people saying and doing things they never intended or even imagined. Women have been victimized by fake images of them nude or engaging in sex acts. Even worse, deepfakes of political candidates and leaders could have profound consequences.

AI could eliminate millions of jobs making humans essentially obsolete.

Not surprisingly, AI has been embraced by the military to replace humans in battle. Future armies, navies and air forces could be dominated by AI-controlled robots making real-time decisions of life and death. Once that happens, will we become the predominate targets?

One AI researcher believes so. He estimates there’s a 99.9% chance that AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) will lead to human extinction within the next 100 years claiming that no AGI model he has seen has been safe. And though other AI researchers are less certain that AGI will lead to our extinction, they are not particularly reassuring.

A Final Word: As daunting as some of these challenges seem, to some degree, they all can be addressed with one simple action: Vote! We must climb out of our media silos, ignore the misinformation and disinformation peddled by the moneyed interests, educate ourselves, and vote for the politicians who are willing to acknowledge the scope of the challenges and attack them in earnest.

Who’s Next On The MAGA Hit List?

Following World War II and the Holocaust, a German Lutheran pastor named Martin Niemöller wrote, “First, they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”

As Donald J. Trump and his MAGA supporters continue to expand their enemies list, that sentiment is a clear warning for today given the number of organizations and people Trump and his MAGA supporters have targeted for retribution should he return to the White House. And it’s expanding daily.

  • Barack Obama who Trump claims is not a natural born citizen and, therefore, unqualified to hold the office of President.
  • Immigrants who became the primary targets on the day Trump first announced that he was running for office. Of course, he later separated immigrant children from their parents as a cruel form of deterrent. (If re-elected he plans to detain more than 12 million immigrants, including Dreamers, and confine them to internment camps before deporting them.)
  • Mexico, which he blames for the immigration problem and the fentanyl crisis. (He has claimed that he will bomb Mexican drug labs and invade Mexico if re-elected.)
  • Hillary Clinton for whom he repeatedly led chants to “Lock her up!”
  • Women for whom he would deny reproductive health care, including contraception. (It appears he considers them worthy of his attention only if they meet his beauty standards and he can grab them between the legs and have sex with them whenever he wants.)
  • Wind turbine manufacturers and operators because he claims wind turbines kill birds and cause cancer. (His hatred of them is more likely the result of Scotland installing wind turbines off the coast of one of his beloved golf courses.)
  • Any media that are not members of the MAGA propaganda network, most especially CNN, NBC, MSNBC, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.
  • Truth. Trump has proven to be one of the most prolific liars in history. Indeed, the media and various factcheckers documented more than 3,000 lies he told during just his four years in office.
  • Gold Star families, POWs, as well as dead and wounded soldiers, who he labeled “suckers and losers.”
  • The Lincoln Project and other “disloyal” Republicans who refuse to support Trump.
  • The Libs, the Elites and the Woke. In other words, any progressive, caring person who disagrees with his cruel, discriminatory and corrupt politics.
  • Non-Christians as determined by his Christian Nationalist base and the delusional Christian evangelicals who see him as “chosen by God.”
  • The LGBTQ community, particularly transgender individuals who Trump and his supporters see as aberrant and an afront to God.
  • NATO and our longtime allies who Trump believes cheat the U.S. and stand in the way of Putin’s Russia.
  • Black Lives Matter and Antifa (antifascists) who dared to demonstrate against racism, police brutality and Trump’s armed bullies (the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers).
  • Ukraine, which he tried to strong-arm into opening a phony investigation into his political opponent – Joe Biden – before the 2020 election.
  • Scientists who continue to raise alarms over the climate crisis and those who encouraged vaccinations, social distancing, and shutdowns during the Covid19 pandemic, especially Dr. Anthony Fauci.
  • The United States Postal Service that delivered the mail-in ballots for Biden.
  • Election officials, both Democrat and Republican, who ensured the rights of all citizens to have their votes accurately counted, especially in the states Biden won.
  • Former officials and aides, such as John Kelly, Gen. James Mattis, Gen. Mark Milley, Gen. H. R. McMaster, Sarah Matthews, Stephanie Grisham, and Cassidy Hutchinson who acted as guardrails during his administration and/or revealed the true depths of his depravity.
  • Former V.P Mike Pence, who refused to go along with Trump’s attempted coup on January 6, 2021.
  • President Biden for daring to deny Trump a second term by winning the 2020 election.
  • Anyone connected with the House January 6 Select Committee, especially Nancy Pelosi and the two Republican members: Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. Trump would also pardon all of the criminals (in his words “Patriotic Warriors”) who have been convicted of brutalizing police and defacing the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to keep Trump in power.
  • The entire justice system that has dared to try to hold Trump accountable for his many crimes. Those targeted for special retribution are special prosecutor Jack Smith, New York Attorney General Letitia James, New York District Attorney Al Bragg who led the hush money investigation, Georgia DA Fani Willis who led the investigation of Trump’s election conspiracy, as well as the Attorneys General in Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin for seeking justice against fake electors.
  • Judges, jurors, witnesses and complainants in the legal cases against Trump, especially Judge Kaplan, Judge Merchan, Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels, and E. Jean Carroll.
  • Many authors and their books. MAGA groups such as Mom’s for Liberty and Trump’s Christian Nationalist supporters continue to ban books on any and all subjects they find distasteful, such as any reference to sex (excluding, of course, the Bible), slavery, Jim Crow, and the history of indigenous Americans.
  • The U.S. Constitution. Trump has announced a second term would be “post-constitutional.” He seems especially frustrated by freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and the 14th, 15th, 16th, 19th, and 22nd Amendments. Moreover, he and his MAGA supporters would like to end direct elections of the President and the Senate by placing the outcomes in the hands of state legislatures. That would almost certainly ensure Republican control for generations.
  • The Federal government as we know it. As part of Project 2025, Trump would fire up to 50,000 federal workers and replace them with MAGA loyalists. He would eliminate the Department of Commerce and the Department of Education. He would slash funding for the Department of Justice and basically dismantle the FBI along with the Department of Homeland Security placing them largely under his control. He would also end the independence of other federal agencies such as the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Public schools. In addition to eliminating the Department of Education, Trump would institute universal school “choice” which would redirect taxpayer funds to private and religious schools.
  • Democracy. Trump has long expressed his admiration for dictators, strongmen and thugs. He and his MAGA followers have little interest in free and fair elections. They want to decide who can vote and who wins. Their only real interest is gaining power and keeping it, democracy be damned.

As you can see, Trump’s enemies list is long. And, if you’re not on it, he and his supporters will likely be coming for you soon.

Name-Calling.

Donald J. Trump has been called a lot of things. Some good. Some bad. Some accurate. Others not.

For example, in the 80s, Trump was called a playboy, a developer, or simply The Donald.

In the 90s and early 2000s, he became known as an author (at least according to the book covers), a womanizer, a TV celebrity, an entrepreneur, a billionaire, and even a brand.

Beginning in 2016, Trump called himself really smart, brilliant, and a stable genius. And he made it clear that the titles he sought were president for life, dictator, a king.

Evangelicals have called him a great Christian, an avenging angel, Christ-like, the second coming of their savior.

To some he’s a victim and their favored presidential candidate. Still others revile him referring to him as Putin’s Puppet, a wannabe autocrat, a serial liar, a bully, a racist, a security risk, a traitor and a loser, a twice-impeached failed president, a conman, a cheater, a fraudster, a crime boss, a narcissist, a psychopath, a p*ssy-grabbing misogynist, an adulterer, a sexual assaulter, a rapist, an orange sh*tweasel, and worse.

But after May 30, 2024, thanks to a 12-person jury of his peers, one label will forever stand out above all the others: Convicted felon.

How The Party Of Lincoln Became The Party Of Trump.

The Republican Party was once the party of abolitionists and the party of progressives. Its first leader, Abraham Lincoln, not only held the nation together during the Civil War. He signed the Emancipation Proclamation that ended one of the saddest chapters in U.S. history.

Unfortunately, a political party operating under the same name is now attacking the very foundations of our nation…the democratic principles established by our founders. Of course, the transformation of the once Grand Old Party didn’t happen overnight. After Lincoln, the party soon embraced the privileged and the powerful – the entrepreneurs rightfully labeled the “robber barons” who presided over the Gilded Age, a period of excesses marked by political corruption and unbridled materialism.

During that time, the nation was controlled by a succession of Republican presidents who presided over runaway capitalism founded on “Horse and Sparrow” economics – the theory that if you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through and fall to the ground for the sparrows to eat.

As disgusting as that idea is, it didn’t disappear along with the Gilded Age. Though it was credited, in part, for the Panic of 1896 and the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Republican Party clung to the idea through every succeeding administration until it resurfaced under Reagan who renamed it “Supply Side” economics (aka “Trickle Down” theory or, perhaps more accurately “Voodoo” economics), and it continued under George W. Bush and Donald Trump. Again and again, it has resulted in economic failure for the majority of working Americans.

But failed economic policy alone is not responsible for where the Republican Party stands today.

In an effort to rig the 1968 election, Richard Nixon treasonously undermined the Vietnam peace talks, promising the Vietnamese that they would get a better deal if they stalled negotiations to help him be elected. During that period, Lee Atwater launched the party’s so-called southern strategy to embrace southern racists who were angry about integration and the Voting Rights Act. And in 1974, Nixon was forced out of office following the revelations of Watergate in which he overtly stole the 1972 presidential election.

In the late 70s and 1980s, Paul Weyrich used Roe v Wade to bring anti-abortion evangelical Christians into the Republican fold.

Not to be outdone by Nixon, Ronald Reagan also committed a treasonous act by undermining the Iran hostage negotiations. He, too, promised a better deal if the negotiations were delayed in order to help his electoral chances.

Of course, it was Reagan who also named the federal government – the government of the people, by the people and for the people – as the enemy of most Americans. He also famously led the attack against labor unions, favoring multinational corporations over workers. And his presidency ended in a cloud of corruption when his administration was caught illegally selling weapons to Iran to finance death squads in Central America.

In the 1990s, political divisions among Americans really began to take hold after Newt Gingrich was selected as Speaker of the House. To ensure his caucus would follow his lead, he threatened to have them “primaried” if they failed to vote as he wished, effectively ending true representation of their constituents.

During that time, the Republican congressional majority led an impeachment of President Bill Clinton that began with an unsuccessful investigation into a real estate and ended with the exposure of an illicit relationship with an intern.

In 2000, George W. Bush’s brother, Jeb, and a conservative majority Supreme Court helped “W” steal the presidential election. Once in office, he cut taxes for the wealthy, led us into an unpopular war with Iraq based on lies, and ended his term with a financial crisis that resulted in the Great Recession.

In 2016 and 2017, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blatantly stole two SCOTUS seats for conservatives. And that was far from the only Republican theft. Trump was able to steal the election through a variety of schemes with the help of Russia, news of an investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server, and a cover-up of Trump’s extramarital affairs with a porn star and a former Playboy centerfold model.

Once in power, Trump used the Oval Office for personal enrichment, a highly partisan failed response to a public emergency (the Covid-19 pandemic), and tax cuts for the wealthy. And, like Nixon, he turned to Roger Stone and a host of other dirty tricksters in an attempt to steal the 2020 election. He even encouraged his supporters to engage in a violent insurrection to prevent the peaceful transition of power.

Republican administrations have overseen repeated economic failures, financial inequality, increased poverty, at least one war based on lies, and corporate consolidation resulting in numerous monopolies. They have allowed the NRA to flood our streets with increasingly lethal military-style weaponry. They have weakened the institutions that have made this country great. And they have led us to the brink of autocracy.

It wasn’t just one man or one term that corrupted the GOP. The transition of the party from the idealistic Party of Lincoln to the criminal enterprise that is the Party of Trump is the result of a series of planned events that prioritized party over nation, money over freedom, and power over honesty.

Bad News.

Faced with intense political divisions and the growing threat of political violence driven by “fake news” and “alternative facts,” it should be little wonder why many Americans long for the days of Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, and the like, a time when all Americans shared the same set of facts. When journalism was a highly respected profession.

So, what changed?

Most prominently, it was the growth of cable television news networks and the subsequent repeal of the Fairness Doctrine (an FCC regulation that required broadcast networks to operate in the public interest – to keep opinion separate from news and to tell the truth. The combination of those two factors led to the rise of radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh who capitalized monetarily by blaming the government and Democrats for all of our nation’s ills. It also led to the fascist propaganda outlet otherwise known as Fox News Channel.

Rather than working to bring us unbiased news coverage, the pundits on talk radio and Fox News peddled fear, anger, and hate. Why? Because they’re more profitable than speaking truth. And though they began the decline of journalism, they are certainly not the only factors.

Most of today’s news outlets are owned by just six mega corporations. Where ABC, CBS, and NBC viewed news as a public service in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, today’s media owners view their news operations as profit centers. Where there once was a figurative firewall between news and entertainment, now they’re intertwined.

Moreover, in order to turn a profit in order to fill the coffers of their owners, the news operations are vastly understaffed and underfunded compared to what they once were. And the journalists lack the ethics and training of previous journalists. Too often, their reporting lacks objectivity, context, perspective, history, and accuracy.

Those journalistic principles have been replaced by both personal and corporate bias, speed, sensationalism, entertainment value, and a focus on ratings.

Worse yet, much of the American public has disdained networks, newspapers, and news agencies, such as the Associate Press, for social media which consists mostly of misinformation, disinformation, rumor, and innuendo. And many Americans choose their news sources based on whether or not the sources report stories that fit their political views.

Further, far too many journalists and consumers lack curiosity. They claim to not have the time or energy to do even the most cursory research. Instead, they blithely pass on what they’ve previously heard or read without question. A great example is that, for decades, news media reported that US corporations faced “the highest corporate tax rate in the world.”

In fact, that has never been the case.

If they had taken the time to do the research, they would have found that the highest US corporate tax rate never ranked higher than fourth. And when you look at the total corporate tax burden for corporations, US companies pay far less than those in other countries – 3.9 percent compared to 12.9 percent in Japan and 19.1 percent in Australia, for example. (Sources: OECD and the Tax Foundation.)

The nation’s founders believed that the future of democracy rested on an educated and informed populace. That requires a robust and objective free press. If we are to, once again, return to the United States of America, we don’t have to share the same opinions. But we must be able to share the same set of facts!

Gov. Noem’s Cruelty Is Emblematic Of MAGA Party.

Perhaps no event better summarizes the character of today’s Republican Party than Kristi Noem bragging about her heartless and ruthless killing of a 14-month-old puppy and a “filthy” goat. After all, this is a political party (dare I say cult) that seems to revel in cruelty. Cruelty aimed at political opponents, at immigrants, at homosexuals and transexuals, at pregnant women, at people of color, at people of other faiths, even at children.

Indeed, Republican cruelty seems to have no bounds.

Remember when Trump-supporting Republicans were more than happy to let seniors die of Covid? Remember when they took pleasure in ripping immigrant children from their parents’ arms? Remember when Trump proposed shooting immigrants in their legs? Remember when those same people, under the banners of Trump and the banners of the old Confederacy, attacked our nation’s capital with the intent of hanging the Vice-President and murdering Democrats?

There appears to be no vicious act today’s Trump-supporting Republicans won’t stoop to. No limits on their attacks on democracy. Many of those heavily armed MAGAts have bragged that they are willing to turn to violence should their Dear Leader lose the next election.

Yet many, if not most, of these people claim to be “God-fearing, Christian Patriots.”

They claim to be pro-life, yet they are more than willing to force a woman to die while carrying an unviable fetus. And though they are pro-birth, they are more than willing to deny food to impoverished families. Moreover, they deny aid to the children of single mothers (aka “welfare queens”) forced to carry fetuses to term after being denied an abortion. And what do they offer unwanted children? In a word, nothing.

As for patriotism, it’s difficult to believe they even understand the meaning of the word.

In fact, their definition of patriotism centers almost entirely around militarism and guns. I’m convinced that the only part of the Constitution they’ve memorized is the Second Amendment. It’s only a single sentence, but I very much doubt they could cite the first half of it: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state….” Of course, they also ignore the references to separation of church and state. And as for the Bill of Rights, they seem to believe the right to free speech, the right to peaceably assemble, the right to practice religion – any religion – only applies to them.

And, by once again, choosing Donald Trump as their presidential candidate – a man with a lurid sexual history, a man who lies with almost every breath, a man who led an insurrection to prevent the peaceful transfer of power, a man who is clearly determined to turn our democratic republic into his personal fiefdom – they obviously are willing to turn our nation into an autocracy closely aligned with the world’s worst dictators.

That, of course, would be the ultimate cruelty.

The Hamas-Israeli War By The Numbers.

70 million – the number of kilograms of explosives dropped on Gaza (the equivalent of 3 nuclear bombs of the type dropped on Hiroshima at the end of World War II.)

2.26 million – the approximate number of Palestinians living in the West Bank.

2.1 million – the approximate number of Palestinians living in Gaza prior to the war.

1.9 million – the number of Gaza Palestinians displaced since the beginning of the war.

450,000 – the number of Israeli settlers living in settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

250,000 – the number of Palestinians living in East Jerusalem.

220,000 – the number of Israeli settlers living in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem.

77,084 – the number of Palestinians wounded since the start of the war.

34,000 – the number of Palestinians killed in Gaza and the West Bank since the start of the war.

14,000 – the number of Palestinian children killed by the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) since the start of the war.

1,410 – the total number of Israelis killed by Hamas since the start of the war.

1,139 – the number of Israelis killed by Hamas in the October 7 surprise attack.

520 – the approximate number of Palestinians held without charges by Israel in administrative detention (many of them children).

500 – the approximate number of healthcare workers killed by Israeli airstrikes.

317 – the number of Palestinians killed in the West Bank since the start of the war (most by Israeli settlers).

250 – the approximate number of Israeli hostages taken in the Hamas attack.

200 – the number of humanitarian aid workers killed by the IDF.

140.93 – the number of square miles in the Gaza strip.

97 – the number of journalists killed trying to document the war – mostly by the IDF.

72 – the percentage of Gaza casualties who are children.

60 – the approximate percentage of Gaza buildings damaged or destroyed by the IDF.

20 – the number of Gaza hospitals damaged or destroyed by the IDF.

14 – the number of years it will take to remove debris and unexploded bombs as estimated by the UN.

2 – the number of Hamas-held Israeli hostages mistakenly killed by the IDF.

0 – the number of winners of the war.

Why do I say there will be no winners? Because, in war, there seldom are. And though Israel has the capacity to destroy all of Gaza, its disproportionate response to October 7 and its indiscriminate killing of Palestinian civilians has called attention to its long-standing practice of apartheid. That has resulted in a growing anti-Israeli sentiment worldwide.

We can only hope that the frustration and anger is directed at the rightwing leaders of Israel and not at the Israeli and Jewish people in general.

The New Rule(s) Of Law.

When SCOTUS pronounced George W. Bush president by ruling the Florida recount could not proceed, my faith in the court (and that of many other Americans) was shaken.

I was further horrified by the theft of a seat on the bench by Sen. McConnell’s refusal to hold a consent hearing on Merrick Garland’s nomination eleven months before the 2016 election. Of course, that hypocrisy was laid bare when McConnell rushed to confirm Amy Coney-Barrett mere weeks before the 2020 election. And I became further disillusioned with the court when the blatant corruption of Justices Thomas and Alito was revealed.

Given all this, it is not entirely surprising that the so-called originalists on the once “Supreme” Court have obviously attempted to return the nation to an earlier time when minorities and women were treated as second class citizens. How else can one explain the court’s decisions to gut the Voting Rights Act and to overturn Roe v. Wade?

What’s next?  A return to witch trials and the legalization of slavery?

Yet, as bad as those rulings are, their impact may be surpassed by the court’s decision to stack the legal deck in the federal cases against the treacherous former president. By agreeing to further delay Trump’s criminal trials in order to rule on his preposterous claim of immunity for inciting an insurrection, it appears that court’s Republican majority is trying to influence the outcome of the upcoming presidential election and offering Trump the possibility of pardoning himself for his crimes.

Moreover, the court has made it painfully obvious that there are multiple levels of justice in the United States: One standard of justice for the poor who cannot afford quality representation. A second standard of justice for citizens of modest means. A third for the wealthy and the powerful. A fourth for those who share ideologies with the court’s conservative majority. And a fifth for Donald J. Trump.

Indeed, the court and our system of justice have been so gravely diminished in the public’s view – the rule of law so corroded by recent decisions – that the very foundation of our nation may crumble.

It’s Still Russia, Russia, Russia.

Here we go again.

In 2016, it was clear that Russia interfered in our presidential election to help Trump win the White House. Not only was the Trump campaign initially led by Paul Manafort, a longtime consultant to the former Russia-backed president of Ukraine. Trump, himself, had been lifted out of bankruptcy by Russian oligarchs who had injected hundreds of millions of dollars into the Trump organization through questionable real estate deals.

And there was more. Much more!

In late 2015, Ivanka Trump connected Michael Cohen with a Putin ally who promised business and political synergy with the Trump organization and the Trump campaign. In early 2016, Alexander Torshin offered to arrange a meeting between Trump and Putin. In 2016, Torshin attended the NRA’s annual convention where he met with Don Jr. And, in 2016, on the same day as the third Republican presidential debate, Trump signed a letter of intent to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

In fact, despite former attorney general Bill Barr’s claims that the Mueller Report had “exonerated” the Trump crime family, Robert Mueller’s investigation uncovered a dizzying number of additional links between Trump, his campaign, the GOP, and Russia. Trump and his campaign had even openly solicited Russian support: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you are able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”

And though Mueller had uncovered hundreds of suspicious communications between the Trump campaign and Russia, he determined that the campaign’s use of encrypted messages would make it difficult to prove his case in court.

Even after the Mueller investigation, Trump maintained a suspicious relationship with Putin. Remember his closed-door meeting with the Russian ambassador in the Oval Office? The private meetings with Putin in which Trump confiscated the translator’s notes? Trump’s obvious man-crush on Putin in Helsinki? And the attempt to withhold military funds from Ukraine in exchange for dirt on Trump’s political rival which led to Trump’s first impeachment?

Turn the calendar to 2024, and we’re starting to see Trump’s relationship with Russia blossom once again.

Speaking at a recent rally in South Carolina, Trump noted that, as president, he once told a NATO member that he would encourage Russia to do whatever it wants to US allies that do not contribute enough to military spending. And he reiterated that position. Even more recently, it was reported that he is again planning on having Manafort, the 8-time convicted felon, help with his campaign.

Given that Trump and his cult (aka Republican Party) now refuse to support Ukraine (9 members of the House GOP caucus even voted against a resolution condemning Russia for abducting Ukrainian children), it’s almost certain that Russia will try to come to Trump’s aid again. That almost certainly means another blizzard of disinformation on social media, more cyberattacks on Democratic organizations, and more backdoor financial contributions to Trump’s campaign.

Even more worrying is the effect on our national security if Russian oligarchs pay off Trump’s hundreds of millions of dollars in civil penalties and he is re-elected. In essence, our nation would be controlled by an authoritarian Russian puppet who would feel obligated to do whatever Putin wants.