Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due.

In thinking about the many problems that we face as a nation, it has become clear that the vast majority can be traced to policies enacted and supported by the Republican Party, a political party that has evolved from the party of growth and controlled spending (Eisenhower and Nixon) to the party of small government (Reagan and Bush I) to the party spreading global democracy (Bush II and Cheney) to a party intent on undermining our own democracy (Trump).

The GOP has coalesced around white supremacists and religious zealots to claim the title of “Faith and Flag” party. Yet few have any concept of ethics or patriotism. 147 Republican lawmakers assisted in the attempted coup of January 6, 2021, with the intent of helping a wannabe autocrat remain in the White House. Indeed, the party’s love affair for autocrats and kleptocrats has been made clear by its many connections to Putin’s Russia (see the Muller Report) and its invitation to Viktor Oban as the keynote speaker of CPAC.

Moreover, the party’s thirst for power and its desire to court the favor of billionaires and multinational corporations seem to be the cause of many of our nation’s most enduring problems.

Wealth inequity? By any measure the growing disparity between the ultra-rich and most working Americans has been caused by the GOP’s longtime commitment to Trickle-Down economics. Rather than money trickling down to the working class, it has created a gusher of wealth flowing upward to the wealthy and large corporations.

Gun deaths and mass shootings? They’re a direct result of the gun lobby’s influence on the GOP and a fraudulent interpretation of the Second Amendment. Because of liberal gun laws, we now have more guns in this country than people. And the number grows by a million or two every year. Moreover, a growing number of crimes involve the use of unregistered ghost guns – many with inexpensive “Glock switches” that convert semiautomatics into fully automatics. But any attempt to restrict such lethal weapons is met with GOP obstruction.

Violence against people of color, ethnic groups, and LGBTQ people? Many GOP candidates have successfully campaigned with ads and rhetoric demonizing these communities and unfairly blaming them for our societal failings. And since words have consequences, hate crimes continue to rise.

Misogyny? The GOP and its evangelical supporters have long tried to relegate women to a secondary social status. And now the GOP majority Supreme Court has gotten into the act. By overturning Roe v Wade, it has put the economic, mental, and physical wellbeing of women at risk.

Climate crisis? The GOP and its oily supporters have long denied that humans have contributed to climate change through our addiction to fossil fuels. For decades, they sponsored fraudulent climate studies to support their denial. And though we are now suffering through the resulting consequences, the GOP is still fighting any attempts to address the problem. It is now almost inevitable that, in our lifetimes, we will see a massive rise in sea levels and the extinction of more than a million species – maybe our own.

Inflation? Though the GOP has blamed rising prices on an overheated economy, rising labor costs, and attempts to mitigate the climate crisis, in reality, inflation has been caused by corporate greed and supply chain issues following the GOP’s failed response to the pandemic.

Corporate consolidation and the export of jobs? The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy reports that GOP policies have actually rewarded multinational corporations for sending jobs overseas. Other GOP policies such as “repatriating” offshore profits at bargain tax rates have led to corporate stock buybacks that reward shareholders, instead of creating jobs. They have also encouraged consolidation by creating incentives for corporations to buy out competitors rather than to compete with them.

Border invasion? There are many causes for the wave of asylum-seekers, refugees, and immigrants at our southern border. So-called Democratic “open border” policies are not among them. The “invasion” has overlapped both Democratic and Republican administrations. Not even the fence and the GOP cruelty of separating children from parents could stop it. And despite repeated calls for a comprehensive immigration policy, the GOP has blocked it.

Failing education? In public education funding, the GOP sees a large pool of taxpayer funds that could be used to create profits. That’s why it is so determined to direct those funds to charter schools and private schools that are not subject to the same fiscal transparency as public schools. It also sees a well-educated public as a threat to its own survival – hence its current attempts to ban books along with those who would dare to teach an accurate account of slavery and genocide as part of American history.

Inequities in IRS audits? In its long-standing efforts to starve the federal government of revenue, the GOP has made draconian cuts to IRS funding and staff. As a result, the IRS does not have the resources to ensure that large corporations and the wealthy are paying their fair share of taxes. So, it has focused attention on ordinary citizens who don’t have the benefit of high-priced tax accountants and tax lawyers.

Political division? For the cause of our conflicts look no further than the GOP and its propaganda outlets. Fox News pundits, rightwing radio hosts, social media, websites, and online podcasts all spew a steady stream of hate, misinformation and outright lies. All of this means that Americans no longer share the same set of “facts.” As evidenced by the former president and George Santos, it’s increasingly rare when the truth escapes a GOP mouth.

We Cannot Live Alone.

Our lives are made possible by a delicate ecosystem. We rely on our forests and plants to create oxygen. We rely on bees and other creatures to pollinate the plants that produce our food. We rely on coral reefs to sustain our fish. On birds and bats to control insects. On wolves and other predators to control rodents. On glaciers to provide much of the water we drink.

We like to think of ourselves as stewards of the planet’s ecosystem. But instead, we are its greatest threat.

There are now more than 8 billion humans on planet Earth, all of which demand water, food, housing, and energy. More and more, they also demand a life of convenience, travel and recreation. One in which the niceties require resources. But after a single use, many of the products we use become disposable. As a result, we are rapidly destroying our oceans, our rainforests, and the air we breathe.

Obviously, this places our entire population at risk.

Scientists tell us that our lifestyle and our reliance on fossil fuels are heating the atmosphere. That they’re melting our glaciers at an astonishing rate. That they’re causing extreme wildfires and increasingly damaging storms. And that they will result in the extinction of more than a million species in the coming decades. The very species on which we rely to sustain life.

Yet our politicians, corporations, some religions, and many of our neighbors are in denial of the obvious dangers. They have placed political power over science. Short-term profits over the future. Ignorance and fantasy over reality.

This simply cannot continue. Scientists and activists have created a Climate Clock to show us the time to act is quickly running out. We can prevent the coming catastrophe if we treat climate change as the crisis it is. But once the ecosystem has been destroyed, we will not be able to fix it. And, contrary to the beliefs of some, we are unlikely to find planet B. Even if we could, we would not be able to transport more than a tiny fraction of our population to it. Moreover, we’d quickly destroy that planet, too. Better that we take care of the one we have.

How Political Extremism Becomes Self-Sustaining.

When economic and societal problems go unaddressed, dissatisfaction with government grows. Far right extremists use that dissatisfaction to get elected. Then, when they’re in the office, they ignore the problems to pursue their own ideological agendas. After all, it’s not in their self-interest to solve issues they can use in their campaigns for re-election. Indeed, they may even pass legislation to make the problems worse. (Remember the Trump tax cuts for the wealthy and large corporations that exploded the federal deficit? Or how about their cuts to the IRS which made it virtually impossible to audit the tax returns of the wealthy?).

To cover their deceit, the extremists blame others for the problems. They distract voters and create fear by vilifying minorities, such as people of color, immigrants, non-Christians, and the LGBTQ community. Meanwhile, real world problems such as the climate crisis, immigration reform, corporate consolidation, and wealth disparity worsen.

It’s a cycle that has inspired some voters to embrace autocrats in the hope that a strong man unencumbered by democracy can make the desired changes. Indeed, that pattern has led reasonable people to embrace the world’s worst dictators: Adolph Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Mao Zedong, and others.

Once the autocrats are in power, they attack and dismantle the institutions of democracy. They vilify the free press by calling it the enemy of the people and they replace it with propaganda outlets. To protect themselves, they undermine the judicial system by packing it with loyalists. They appoint loyalists in positions of authority throughout the government giving it the veneer of respectability while, in effect, turning it into a useful tool against any opposition. And they create doubt in the electoral process by claiming interference by the opposition and limiting those who are allowed to vote.

If all this seems a bit familiar, it is exactly how Donald J. Trump and his Republican allies operated. When enough voters recognized the attempt to destroy our democracy, Trump and his allies attempted a coup by challenging electors and encouraging violence resulting in the January 6 insurrection.

When the insurrection failed, they turned to propaganda to accuse Biden of inflationary policies and used the courts to drag out investigations long enough to gain a slim majority in the House. Given control of the federal purse strings and oversight committees, they are now in a position to investigate the investigators. Moreover, they can use their positions of power to create a flurry of propaganda and misinformation to further their cause – to replace democracy with the form of white Christian autocracy envisioned by their sponsors.

That much should be obvious to even the most casual political observers. The question is: Will ordinary Americans care enough to prevent it?

Blame It On Biden?

If you were to listen to Republicans, their propaganda networks and the corporate media, you would almost certainly believe that President Biden’s administration has been a disaster for America – worse even than that of his treasonous predecessor who used the White House as his own personal ATM and tried to violently overthrow the will of the people. But let’s take a closer look at the nation’s many problems and their actual causes. For example:

Afghanistan – Biden was blamed for our ugly exit from Afghanistan. He was accused of abandoning Afghanistan’s women and allies who worked with U.S. troops during that 20-year war. But examine the events leading up to our withdrawal, and you’ll discover that the terms and timing of our departure were negotiated by the Trump administration. So, when Biden took office, he was faced with an impossible choice – either pull our troops out of Afghanistan by the negotiated deadline. Or risk escalating the war and possibly cause it to continue for decades more.

Pandemic – Biden inherited a raging pandemic that had killed hundreds of thousands of Americans and savaged our economy. True, three vaccines were created during the previous administration. But many of Trump’s supporters steadfastly refused to take them. And by angrily refusing to wear masks, they helped spread the virus. Nevertheless, by relying on science and increasing the availability of vaccines, Biden’s administration has been able to mitigate the pandemic and to quickly restart the economy causing unemployment to drop to near historic lows.

Inflation – Biden’s stimulus plans have been blamed for overheating the economy and leading to the highest inflation in 40 years. But, when you realize that corporate profits have simultaneously reached 50-year highs, another picture emerges. The primary cause of inflation is corporate profiteering, plain and simple. Other factors include disrupted supply chains, overwhelmed seaports, understaffed trucking companies, exhausted front-line workers, and pent-up consumer demand – all the result of the Biden-inherited pandemic. It’s a basic tenet of economics that reduced supply plus increased demand equals higher prices. The administration has few tools to address that reality. It must rely on the independent Federal Reserve, and its only tool to address inflation is to increase interest rates.

Fuel Prices – Perhaps the greatest driver of inflation is soaring fuel prices. Certainly, that must be Biden’s fault. Right? Wrong! Fuel is subject to the same economic principle that affects all pricing. During the pandemic as most people worked from home, oil producers and refiners cut supply in order to reduce costs. When the country reopened, suppliers say they were unprepared for the sudden increased demand. At the same time, Russia invaded Ukraine leading to sanctions on one of the world’s largest oil producers. The administration has reacted in the only ways it can – by releasing some of our nation’s oil reserves, calling on Saudi Arabia to increase production, and trying to shame the opportunistic oil companies into lowering prices.

Moreover, given the fact that the five largest oil companies are enjoying record profits, there are legitimate questions that they may be inflating prices in retaliation against Democrats who want to force them to pay their fair share of taxes.

Federal deficit – Having refused to admit that Covid-19 was a serious threat to the U.S. lest it interrupt Trump’s “beautiful” economy, the previous administration borrowed trillions to avoid an economic collapse. Unfortunately, government revenue had also been dramatically reduced by the Trump tax cuts. That led to massive deficits. Yet the Biden administration was not only able to restart the economy. Since taking office, it has cut the deficit by $1.5 trillion.

Immigration – Republicans would have you believe that Biden has pursued an open border policy. If that’s so, how do you explain the 1.6 million immigrants waiting on the other side of our border? While it is true that Biden wants to end Title 42, he has committed to maintaining border security. He simply wants to make our border policy more humane by making it easier for immigrants to apply for refugee status if their lives would be endangered by returning to their country of origin. And, given that most of our businesses are understaffed, an increase in immigration could only help our economy.

Baby Formula – Of course, Republicans jumped on the opportunity to blame Biden for the baby formula shortage. What they fail to acknowledge is the impact of the industry’s consolidation to just four suppliers. When the FDA forced the largest of those to close a plant after dangerous bacteria were found in its products, grocery shelves emptied. Transportation issues caused by the pandemic only added to the problem as they caused delays in importing formula from other countries. To overcome those delays, Biden did the one thing he could. He turned to the military to transport formula from Europe.

Child Tax Credit – Many parents are frustrated by the end of a program that lifted millions of children out of poverty. Yes, that did happen on Biden’s watch. But it was largely due to GOP obstruction.

War in Ukraine – Russia’s latest invasion of Ukrainian territory also happened on Biden’s watch. But, in reality, it is a continuation of Russia’s 2014 capture of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. There has been fighting along the border of the two nations ever since. Unlike the previous administration that withheld nearly $400 million of congressionally approved military aid in order to gain damaging information on his likely political opponent, Biden has led an international coalition to provide military aid and sanction Russia’s plutocrats.

Surprisingly, it’s not just Republicans who are unfairly heaping blame on the Biden administration. Many Democrats and independents are frustrated that Biden hasn’t yet dealt with their long wish list of wants and demands. Why hasn’t he instituted stricter gun safety measures? Climate change is worsening. Why hasn’t he done more to address that? Why can’t he lower the cost of pharmaceuticals? Why can’t he do more to protect abortion after the conservative majority in the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade? What is he doing to protect voting rights? Why hasn’t he forgiven all student loans? Why hasn’t he expanded the number of justices on the Supreme Court.

The answer to most of those questions and more is the recalcitrance of fifty Republican Senators, two Democratic Senators and the filibuster.

Biden certainly isn’t perfect. But his administration has been faced with an almost unimaginable number of challenges. And, unlike his twice-impeached predecessor, he didn’t encourage one of our nation’s greatest rivals to help him get elected. He didn’t receive campaign funds from foreign powers. He hasn’t stuffed his pockets with taxpayer money. He hasn’t bullied allies while playing footsie with dictators and enemies of our nation. He hasn’t ordered children to be ripped from their mothers’ arms. He hasn’t tried to extort favors from a foreign leader. He isn’t a pathological liar. And he hasn’t defiled Congress and our Constitution.

Climate Change: The Future May Be Far Worse Than You Think.

Today, Americans are facing a number of very real threats to our way of life. We are understandably transfixed by the very real threat to our democracy posed by Trump and his followers, by the theocrats who have taken hold of the court we once believed Supreme, by the still-ongoing pandemic, by the corporate price-gouging which has led to global inflation. But the greatest threat of all seems to have fallen off our radar: Climate change, the human-caused crisis that threatens to destroy our planet.

Having been homebound for much of the pandemic, most Americans have returned to their self-serving, planet-destroying ways.

They are taking long-delayed road trips, climbing aboard aircraft, and fueling-up their many motorized toys all the while bitching about the worldwide rise in gas prices. For many, the changing climate is an issue only future generations will face. For others, it’s little more than an inconvenience that has closed national parks due to flooding or forced them to detour around out-of-control wildfires.

Recent studies have found that only 35 percent of Americans believe they will be directly affected by climate change. And nearly half believe the threat is exaggerated despite warnings that, without an immediate and comprehensive change to our lifestyle, the destruction of our planet as we know it is all but assured.

According to a consensus of the world’s leading scientists, the current increase in devastating wildfires, extreme droughts, hurricanes, tornados, straight-line winds, and large hail are but a mere prelude of what’s to come.

They tell us that, if the climate crisis is not immediately addressed, we will see further thawing of the permafrost which will quickly accelerate the heating of our planet. That will, in turn, lead to a dramatic rise in sea levels making many of the world’s largest cities uninhabitable. Combined with drought-caused crop failures and famine, that will lead to mass migrations. And that’s just the predicted impact on the portion of our planet that is covered by dry land. The rise in global temperatures is having an even greater impact on the oceans that cover more than 70 percent of our planet’s surface. As the oceans warm, coral reefs are bleaching and dying – reefs that support the main source of food for 3.5 billion of the world’s population!

Still not worried? Then maybe you should consider that a United Nations’ review by about 15,000 scientific and government sources from 50 countries warns that, without fundamental change, up to one million species are at risk of becoming extinct within a few decades. Given that our planet is governed by an ecosystem with each species relying on others for sustenance, inevitably that means our own species is vulnerable to extinction.

But don’t take my word for it. Or even that of scientists. Here are the actual numbers:

Change In CO2 Levels
Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, human activities have increased atmospheric concentrations of CO2 by about 50 percent. From 1750 to 2010, CO2 levels increased from 280 to 388.44 parts per million. By the end of 2015, CO2 levels were 402.44 parts per million. (400 ppm had long been considered the tipping point and, until the late 1940s, it had never exceeded 300 ppm for more than 650,000 years.) At the end of 2019, CO2 levels were 412.71 ppm. At the end of 2021, CO2 levels were 417.44 ppm. As of June 2022, the current level of CO2 stands at 421.94 ppm and rising.

Change In Temperatures
Recent global temperatures are the hottest in more than 2,000 years. 2015 was the first year that global temperatures were 1 degree Celsius or more above the temperatures at start of the Industrial Revolution. Since 1910, the average global temperature has risen 1.28 degrees Celsius.

Change In Ice Sheets
Antarctic ice sheets have melted at the rate of 152 billion metric tons per year since 2002. And the Greenland ice sheets are disappearing even more rapidly, having lost 274 billion metric tons per year since 2002. Additionally, Arctic sea ice is declining at the rate of 13 percent per decade.

Changes In Oceans
From 1900 to 2019 sea levels have risen more than 200 mm (7.87 inches) – 3.97 inches just since 1993. In addition, ocean temperatures have climbed dramatically since record-keeping began in 1955. 2021 was the oceans’ warmest recorded year and saw the highest global sea level.

“What can I do?” you may ask. “I’m only one person. Why do I have to change my lifestyle? What about the people of China? What about India?” The answer to those questions is simple. Change has to start somewhere, and it needs to start now! It’s a global crisis. We all share this planet. Each of us can make an impact, no matter how large or small. And since Americans have done more than our share to cause the problem, we should do more than our share to help solve it.

To learn more, visit NASA’s Climate Change website. Or, to follow the destruction of our planet in real time, check out the Climate Clock.

An Open Letter To The Once Supreme Court Of The United States

I know that I speak for many Americans when I say that I no longer respect the court that I once believed supreme in regard to the wisdom of its legal rulings and interpretation of the Constitution.

In recent years, the conservative majority has ruled that money equals free speech, that corporations have the rights of people (giving executives and boards of directors both individual and corporate rights), that free speech does not include the right to boycott, that the separation of church and state does not extend to taxpayer funding of religious schools and, as the leaked document indicates, that a woman no longer has the right to privacy concerning her medical treatment and conversations with a physician.

The court’s most recent ruling seems to be based on an originalist reading of the 2nd Amendment, noting that its wording gives citizens the right to “keep and bear arms.” But what about the rest of the Amendment’s wording: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State”?

If the majority so strongly believes in the Framers’ original intent, why not rule that all males of a certain age must provide their own arms and order them to muster at designated times for training as my colonial ancestors were required to do?

I can only assume that it is because that reading does not fit the political ideology of the conservative majority.

Therein lies the problem. Many of us can no longer hold the court supreme because it has become utterly and hopelessly political. Unlike every other court in the land, this once supreme court has no code of ethics. A number of the justices have taken speaking engagements with highly partisan groups. Some have refused to recuse themselves from decisions in which they have a conflict of interest. And the wife of one justice has deeply engaged in a seditious attempt to overturn the results of an election.

In virtually every nation that has become a failed democracy, it has done so with the complicity of its judicial system. I now fear, with this court’s aid, that will be the future of the United States.

Low Gas Prices? Or The Planet? Which Will You Choose?

Fires raging in the West, excessive heat in many parts of the world, crop failures, flooding in Yellowstone, disappearing glaciers, severe storms in the Midwest, and the predicted surge of hurricanes are all indicators that we have waited far too long to address climate change. But most Americans seem willing to ignore all of that and focus, instead, on rising gas prices.

If we had taken climate change seriously when scientists first identified its cause decades ago, we wouldn’t be facing this oil-fueled economic crisis. We wouldn’t be at the mercy of the Russians and the Saudis or any of the world’s other oilygarchs. We wouldn’t be held hostage by the world’s five largest oil companies and their greedy CEOs.

We would be using renewable fuels, instead.

Nevertheless, here we are at a crossroads. Do we offer more subsidies and power to oil producers in hopes they’ll lower gas prices knowing that we’ll likely face the same problem another year or two down the road? Or, if it’s not already too late, do we finally do what we eventually must and invest in renewables that will help us avoid the most catastrophic consequences of climate change?

If we choose the latter, we may still avoid the flooding of all of the world’s populous coastal cities. We may yet avoid the displacement of hundreds of millions. We may avoid seeing millions dying from food shortages. We may avoid the predicted extinction of more than a million of our planet’s species. We may yet save ourselves, our children, and future generations from greater hardships and possible extinction.

Am I optimistic that we will choose the right path? No.

Unfortunately, the GOP (Does that stand for Greedy Old Plutocrats or Guns Over People?) is uniformly opposed to any measures that would come between oil companies and their billions in profits. So, too, is Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. As a result, Congress already squandered one opportunity to address the problem through Biden’s Build Back Better plan. And we’re unlikely to have another opportunity in the near future.

What makes this situation all the more frustrating is that the many billions of dollars in oil companies’ windfall profits could help pay for the changes needed to address the climate crisis. Combine that money with the trillions that will be spent on repairing the damage caused by increasingly intense storms, fires, and flooding, and we would have enough money to ensure the future of our species and the planet.

So, which path will you choose? This coming November will you vote for candidates who are serious about addressing the climate crisis? Or will you gamble on candidates who falsely claim they can lower gas prices and hope your family can survive on an increasingly dangerous and unlivable planet?

Don’t Just Blame Joe Manchin!

Certainly, Manchin sold out President Biden and his Democratic Party by effectively blocking the Build Back Better Act this week. In doing so, he has undermined efforts to address climate change, committing all of us to suffer from increased severe weather events. Additionally, his refusal to support the bill means that more children will grow up in poverty, that more seniors will be forced to move from their homes into nursing facilities, that seniors will continue to be denied help for dental, hearing and vison care, and that all Americans will continue to pay more for pharmaceuticals than the rest of the world.

It is also almost certainly true that Manchin’s hands are deep in the pockets of the leaders of the fossil fuel and pharmaceutical industries. Indeed, Manchin is said to have received nearly $260,000 in corporate contributions in just the month leading up to his politically charged statement about Biden’s signature legislation on Fox News Channel.

But Manchin is not alone in blocking the Build Back Better Act. Senator Kyrsten Sinema has proven that she’s every bit as craven and greedy as Manchin. Though she doesn’t have a yacht or drive a Maserati, she has personally blocked provisions in the bill designed to lower the prices that all Americans pay for pharmaceuticals while taking political donations from big Pharma and refusing to meet with her own constituents.

And Manchin and Sinema are but two of the 52 Senators refusing to vote for BBB. They are joined in their greed and dumbassery by the entire Sedition Caucus, aka the Republican Party. A party that has long ignored the needs and wishes of the majority of Americans as it continues to pander to greedy corporations and billionaires. A party that continues to deny human-caused climate change. A party that embraces the gun cult and violent extremists. A party that has cozied up to Vladimir Putin and the world’s worst autocrats. A party that is vehemently anti-government, and therefore anti-American, to its core.

So, if the Biden administration and the Democratic majority fail to do more to level the economic playing field for ordinary working families. If they fail to provide help for those who are struggling. If they fail to pass legislation to head off the worst effects of climate change. Don’t blame them. And please don’t think that rewarding their political opponents in the midterm elections will improve your life in any way.

It won’t.

Unless you are a billionaire, an executive of a multi-national corporation, an executive of a fossil fuel company, an executive of a pharmaceutical company, or a member of the gun lobby.

The GQP’s Decades Long, Multi-Pronged Assault On Democracy.

If you think the insurrection ended on January 6th, I regret to inform you that it was only the tip of the proverbial autocratic iceberg. In fact, the billionaires have been working to undermine our democracy for more than 60 years. And they haven’t stopped now.

In one of history’s greatest ironies, Charles Koch, James McGill Buchanan, Jr. and the remnants of the John Birch Society used the Supreme Court’s 1954 decision to desegregate schools in Brown v. Board of Education to co-opt the Republican Party – the political party that had ended slavery. Since then, they have spent hundreds of millions to undermine our federal government and democracy itself.

Hiding under the cloak of the Republican Party, they have tried to starve the government of the funds it needs to serve the people. Through large donations, they corrupted law schools and university economics programs to teach their political views. Once they gained control of the Supreme Court, they pushed for legal opinions to equate money with free speech (Buckley v Valeo) and to equate corporate rights with those of individuals (Citizens United v FEC) to better fund their operations. That resulted in an avalanche of dark (aka dirty) campaign money to help elect like-minded candidates.

Shouting liberty and freedom, they eroded common sense regulations designed to protect Americans. They repealed the FCC’s Fairness Doctrine which unleashed their propagandists (Fox News, OANN, Newsmax, and rightwing radio hosts) to use mass media to deliver and repeat their many hateful lies. And recognizing that it’s more difficult to win elections when more people vote, they have implemented a decades long attack on voting rights with strict ID laws, reduced voting hours, reduced numbers of polling places, and restrictions for mail-in voting.

Believing it’s easier to control state governments than the federal government, they created ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) to provide conservative legislators with “model” bills that are written by and for large corporations. To spread fear of the federal government, they embraced the NRA to expand gun ownership and to create even more fear. When cities passed ordinances to regulate short-term rentals, to ban plastic bags, and to protect undocumented immigrants, they passed laws to pre-empt cities’ self-rule.

As they filled Congress with anti-government zealots and conspiracy theorists, they have continued to cut taxes for corporations and the wealthy causing the nation to descend into a plutocracy. They have used the filibuster to block most legislation that would benefit ordinary working people. Once they got a wannabe autocrat into the White House, they used him to further cut taxes, cut regulations, sell-off oil-drilling rights and mineral rights on protected lands, and to pack the courts with partisan judges.

To ensure Trump and their other candidates would maintain control of the government, they tried to extort a foreign government into opening a false investigation into the Bidens. They purged voter registrations and replaced the postmaster to slow the pandemic-created avalanche of mail-in ballots. When that didn’t work, they tried to get state election officials to find enough votes to change the election outcome. They continued to promote the idea of massive voter fraud which resulted in the January 6 insurrection in a violent attempt to block the certification of electoral votes. Even now they continue to contest the election results by claiming that China dumped thousands and thousands of ballots into the states Trump lost and that Italy had hacked electronic voting machines.

Even more concerning is that Trump’s disgraced National Security Advisor and Qanon conspiracy theorist, Michael Flynn, has called for a Myanmar-style military coup!

So, the choice is no longer between Republican and Democrat. It is now between autocracy and democracy.

Stop Calling Senator Joe Manchin A Centrist!

For more than 40 years, the Republican Party has moved further and further to the right until 2020 when it dived right off the political spectrum into a delusional abyss. What once was a political party that believed in free markets and fiscal restraint has, over time, become anti-government, anti-immigrant, anti-abortion, white nationalist, pro-gun, pro-violence, and pro-fascist. And, since 2016, it has become a cult of Trump – the willing accomplices of a conman and crime boss.

By contrast, since the 1950’s, the Democratic Party has experienced relatively little change. It has long believed in the power of government to do good. To help people by providing safety nets, retirement funds, healthcare access, and social justice. Unlike the GQP, it believes in protecting working people from predatory corporations and the wealthy. It promotes worker safety, living wages, freedom, human rights, and democracy. And it holds fast to the principles of the Constitution. (The real Constitution. Not some 18th Century interpretation conflating the Constitution with the Articles of Confederation.)

As you can see, there really is no middle ground.

With such a gaping canyon between the two parties, what is there to negotiate? What is the compromise between fascism and democracy? Between discrimination and compassion? Between dying and living?

How then can anyone, like Manchin, claim to be a centrist? Clearly, what Manchin has become is a self-serving obstructionist. A pawn the GQP can use to stop any form of progress. By refusing to consider ending, or even modifying, the filibuster, Manchin and his sidekick, Kyrsten Sinema, stand in opposition to voting rights, racial justice, gender equality, a thriving economy, a healthy environment, and a healthy climate.

If you want a term that more accurately describes Manchin, I’d recommend “opportunist” because he’s relishing his newfound attention and power. Or, if you’d prefer a term that describes his political ideology, I’d suggest “conservative.” He more accurately fits in that category than the GQP politicians who long ago abandoned it.