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.

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?

George Santos Exemplifies The Entire Republican Party.

The Republican representative-elect from Long Island campaigned on a background and resume that were complete fiction. He lied about his education and his work experience. He even lied about his religion and his mother’s death. Such behavior is obviously unethical and immoral. And, in the context of an election campaign, it should be illegal. Yet it’s only marginally worse than the lies regularly spewed by the majority of the Republican Party’s leadership.

Indeed, Santos was likely only following the lead of the former president who told more than 30,000 documented lies during his four years in office. And he’s accelerated his output of lies since leaving office.

Unfortunately, once Santos takes the oath of office, he will fit right in with the many other Republicans in Congress who have long been estranged from the truth: Paul Gosar, Andy Biggs, Marjorie Taylor-Greene, Lauren Boebert, Jim “Gym” Jordan, Louie Gohmert, Mo Brooks, Kevin McCarthy, Mitch McConnell, Lindsay Graham, Ted Cruz, Tommy Tuberville, Ron Johnson, Rand Paul – the list is seemingly endless. And that’s only the Republican candidates who were successful in their quest for power. Failed candidates such as Kari Lake, Herschel Walker, Mark Finchem, etc. are as bad or worse. So, too, are their on-air propagandists such as Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Lara Logan, and all the rest of the hosts on Fox News Channel.

In short, the GOP has become a party of lies and deceit. A party willing to say and do almost anything to win.

Moreover, it appears that much of the funding of Republican candidates, like Santos, has come from mysterious and anonymous donors, some of which are believed to be Russian oligarchs and other foreign sources intent on destroying US democracy. Is it any wonder then that the Republican Party supports autocrats, war criminals and other despots?

If our democracy is to survive, voters must demand better. The least we should expect from politicians is transparency and truth. For, as famed Filipina journalist Maria Ressa says, “If you don’t have facts, you can’t have truth. If you don’t have truth, you can’t have trust. If you don’t have trust, you can’t have democracy.”

The GOP And Traditional Churches Have Suffered The Same Fate.

Both devoured from within by Bible-thumping, government-hating, election-denying Americans who are gleefully leading the attack on democracy and civility.

Traditional community churches have been overwhelmed by mega churches led by demagogues spewing prosperity gospel (the notion that sanctimonious zealots will receive riches beyond their imaginations through blind devotion to their version of the gospel). Despite its obvious contradictions to the teaching of Jesus, this is a compelling argument for those who reject critical thinking and believe in the infallibility of their leaders. Worse, this warped interpretation of the gospel is often accompanied by large doses of hate for non-believers, immigrants, and the poor.

Over the same period, the GOP has fallen prey to a conman who has embraced white supremacists and gun-toting, treasonous militias – his way paved by Lee Atwater’s southern strategy which, following passage of the Voting Rights Act, reached out to the southern proponents of Jim Crow-style segregation; by James M. Buchanan’s libertarian economics; and by Ronald Reagan’s embrace of the ironically named Moral Majority led by Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and other power-hungry televangelists.

These two groups have merged to create the MAGA movement that threatens our nation today. Their shared grievances of seeing their white Christian majority diminished by immigrants of color, their disdain for expertise and education, their lack of compassion for the poor and the weak, their hatred of progressives has led them to embrace a would-be autocrat who they believe will restore power to the white Christian majority.

This new Republican coalition has even separated itself from GOP icons like Ronald Reagan, John McCain, Dwight Eisenhower, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln, dismissing them as weak and misguided, unwilling to take the steps necessary to maintain power and destroy the libs. Add to this toxic mix the millions of followers of Q-Anon with their wild conspiracy theories and you have a recipe for the destruction of the world’s oldest and most powerful democracy.

Without serious opposition and intervention, the destruction is not only likely. It’s almost inevitable whether by acceptance, inaction, or by violence.

To stop it, Democrats, liberals, and progressives must vote in numbers never seen before. Longtime conservatives must reject the current iteration of their party and vote for candidates of the only political party – the Democratic party – that still believes in democracy. To save our nation, they must eviscerate their party before they can restore it. They must ignore the threats from MAGAts and join with other longtime conservatives who have left the GOP, including former party leaders, candidates, strategists, and government officials, to build the party anew.

The US needs a political party to compete with Democrats. It needs a Republican party. Just not this one.

Treat Trump Like A Winner.

Reality Winner, that is, the 6-year Air Force veteran, recipient of a commendation for meritorious service, and former contractor for the National Security Agency who was sentenced to 5 years and 3 months in federal prison, plus 3 years of supervised released.

What horrible crime did she commit?

She was convicted of violating the Espionage Act of 1917, 18 U.S.C. § 793(e) for sharing a classified document with The Intercept. That document revealed that Russia had interfered with the 2016 presidential election on Trump’s behalf through a cyberattack on a US election software provider and spearfishing emails to more than 100 election officials. Without Winner’s actions, US voters may never have learned of Russia’s interference.

In other words, Reality Winner acted as a whistleblower in service to the American citizenry.

Contrast her actions with that of our deposed president and dictator wannabe who was found to have stashed 700 classified and top-secret documents at his home in Mar-a-Lago. The FBI search warrant used to search his home cited the very same charge as Winner. The difference is that Winner was trying to perform a public service. And Trump was almost certainly expecting to profit off our nation’s secrets.

There is also a substantial difference in the threat that the two represent. The classified material that Winner exposed could not reasonably be considered a threat to national security. On the other hand, the material Trump hoarded represents our nation’s most highly guarded secrets, including information about our nuclear arsenal and our human assets (spies) working undercover around the globe. Such documents should have never been removed from a SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility), let alone stored in a resort frequented by dozens of members including foreign nationals.

So, to paraphrase the MAGA chants of 2015 and 2016: Lock him up! Our nation’s security may depend on it.

The GOP’s Clown Car To Autocracy.

No, that’s not hyperbole. And, no, Donald Trump, the narcissistic and wannabe autocrat, is not on the ballot. But, across the nation, many equally seditious and treason-adjacent candidates are. They call themselves Republicans. And some of them make the conspiracy-loving Marjorie Taylor-Greene, the gun-toting Lauren Boebert, the insurrectionist Paul Gosar, and the alleged child sex trafficker Matt Gaetz seem almost moderate.

For example, in Arizona, Trump acolyte Mark Finchem will carry the Trump banner forward as the Republican nominee for Arizona Secretary of State. If he wins, he will be in control of the state’s elections. What makes this prospect frightening is that he is still a firm believer in the Big Lie – that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. Not surprisingly, he was also in Washington, DC for the January 6th insurrection. If elected, he plans to ban electronic voting machines and ban early voting making it far more difficult for low-paid workers to cast their ballots. And, given his past, imagine what he might do if, once again, the vote totals were not in favor of his preferred candidate.

In the race for Arizona governor, the GOP will offer one of two horrific choices: the Trump-endorsed bat-crap crazy Kari Lake who says she would have overturned Biden’s victory in Arizona, or the Pence-endorsed theocratic Karrin Taylor Robson. Both are legitimate threats to democracy. And, in the race for US Senate, Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly will face off against Blake Masters, a libertarian, Big Lie-embracing, billionaire-funded venture capitalist. Masters believes that our history of slavery and racism should not be taught in schools. He blames gun violence on black people. He supports a national abortion ban and the privatization of Social Security. He also reportedly compared requirements that political candidates disclose financial donations to Nazi Germany’s Kristallnacht. And he supported some views of the Unabomber.

In Georgia, former NFL running back, Herschel Walker is the GOP nominee for the US Senate. Walker, who always refers to himself in third person, has a Trump-like aversion to the truth. Indeed, his own campaign staff has called him a pathological liar. To wit: he falsely claimed to be a former FBI agent and a valedictorian graduate of the University of Georgia (his only degree is in carrying a football). And though he claims to stand for Christian values, he has a history of domestic violence, and he seemingly can’t remember how many children he has fathered. Moreover, if forced to take the most simplistic sixth grade level civics test, he unquestionably would fail. Yet he hopes to win one of the most powerful seats in government.

In Missouri, Trump-loving Eric Schmitt is the favorite for Roy Blunt’s open Senate seat. A theocrat and 2020 election denier, Schmitt worked to help overturn Biden’s win in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin. He is also an enemy of women’s reproductive rights.

In Pennsylvania, Hillbilly Elegy author and wingnut, J.D. Vance is also running for the US Senate funded by billionaire Peter Thiel. Vance is running a campaign of fear based on all of the wacko hot button social issues, such as banning Critical Race Theory in public schools (it’s only taught in law schools). He also believes women should risk staying in abusive relationships “for the sake of the children.” And like most Republicans, he believes in regulating women’s uteruses. Not guns.

Yet, as dangerous as all those candidates seem, they pale in comparison to Republican incumbent and longtime wackadoodle, Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. Johnson, you may remember, was a participant in the attempt to decertify Biden’s electoral votes on January 6. Not only is he a supporter of the Big Lie, if Republicans gain control of Congress again, he wants to end mandatory funding of Social Security and Medicare. Instead, he proposes that the funding be made discretionary, which would mean Congress would have to vote to approve funding annually.

The list of such anti-government, anti-American, and anti-democracy candidates is long. And, if Republicans take control of Congress, they promise to impeach Biden (in retaliation for the twice impeached Trump), to investigate members of the January 6 select committee, and to ban all abortions. They will also do everything in their power to privatize education, to privatize or eliminate Social Security and Medicare, to eliminate affirmative action…their ugly, hateful list is long. But the even greater threat to the future of our nation is the departure of competent and trustworthy election officials.

In states and counties across this nation, election officials have resigned or been pushed out of office under threat of violence. They have been doxed – their personal information made public to Trump’s heavily armed insurgent militias who have harassed the officials by phone, staked out their homes, and threatened their lives along with the lives of their families. Many have been replaced by inexperienced and unqualified individuals who believe the 2020 election was rigged and who plan to make sure Trump and his allies never lose again.

If the MAGAts are able to take control of more statehouses, governorships, and secretary of state offices, future elections will be elections in name only. It will be officials who decide the “winners.” Not the voters.

The Plan To Destroy Democracy.

In case it’s not yet obvious that Trump tried everything in his power to overthrow a free and fair election, here is what we know, or can reasonably surmise, about his plan to stay in office despite an overwhelming defeat at the polls:

1. Before the election, Trump began to sow doubt in the electoral process by claiming that the election would be rigged if he didn’t win. (He did the same in 2015.)
2. In anticipation of a large mail-in vote caused by Covid, Trump named a lackey (Louis DeJoy) as Postmaster General to delay and disrupt the mail, particularly in cities with large Democratic majorities.
3. On the night of the election, Trump claimed victory long before all of the ballots were counted. This was designed to support his claims of a stolen election should Biden ultimately be named the winner.
4. As mail-in and absentee ballots continued to be counted, Trump claimed the ballots were fraudulent and encouraged armed supporters to go to ballot-counting stations to disrupt the counting and intimidate election workers.
5. When it was clear that Biden had won, Trump and his personal lawyers claimed foreign interference in the election, saying that China dumped millions of ballots in the mailboxes. That Venezuela and Italy hacked Dominion voting machines to change votes to Biden.
6. Trump and his lawyers filed more than 60 lawsuits claiming voter fraud. All but one was thrown out for lack of evidence.
7. Trump and his closest supporters created a “war room” in the Willard Hotel where sycophants made plans to overturn the election results.
8. As cabinet members announced their resignations, Trump began replacing them with more compliant loyalists, including acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller who tried to investigate a voter fraud conspiracy involving Italian satellites that the DOJ called “pure insanity.”
9. Trump pressured Department of Justice officials to declare the election fraudulent and to order a new election. When they refused, he threatened to fire acting Attorney General Rosen and replace him with Trump loyalist Jeffrey Clark.
10. Trump, his personal attorneys, and other supporters called Secretaries of State in Georgia and other critical swing states asking them to “find” the precise number of votes to change the outcome of the election.
11. As other plans for Trump to stay in power failed, he and his inner circle encouraged Republican-led state legislatures to select “alternative” slates of electors to replace the legitimate slates.
12. As Biden’s inauguration neared, Trump demanded that Vice-President Pence refuse to certify the official electoral votes on January 6 by declaring them invalid and sending the election to state legislatures where Republican legislators would declare Trump the winner.
13. Trump sycophants, including the wife of a sitting Supreme Court justice arranged for a “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, DC the day Congress was set to certify the vote. Trump tweeted supporters to “Be there. It will be wild.” In the days leading up to the rally, the recently pardoned felons, Roger Stone and Michael Flynn, met with leaders of the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys to plan the coup. As part of the plan, these insurgent militias organized weapons depots outside the District of Columbia in anticipation of a civil war.
14. On January 5, at least one congressional representative provided an apparent reconnaissance tour of the Capitol for constituents who participated in the January 6 insurrection.
15. In the early morning hours of January 6, pipe bombs were placed in front of the offices of Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee as an obvious attempt to create a distraction for law enforcement prior to the insurrection.
16. On the morning of January 6, Trump placed a phone call to the Vice-President in a last-ditch attempt to convince Pence to refuse certification of the electoral votes. When he refused, Trump angrily called him a pussy before hanging up. He then tweeted that the Vice-President “didn’t have the courage to do the right thing.” In essence, this was the equivalent of a crime boss ordering a hit.
17. At the “Stop the Steal” rally, Trump extremists and conspiracy theorists made a series of fiery speeches telling the crowd to “fight like hell” or they wouldn’t have their country anymore.
18. When many of Trump’s armed supporters refused to enter the rally grounds for fear of having their weapons confiscated as they passed through security screenings, Trump became upset by the optics of a small crowd. He then demanded that the Secret Service take down the magnetometers. When told that many in the crowd were armed, Trump said he didn’t care, they weren’t there to harm him.
19. In his own speech at the rally, Trump asked his supporters to “march to the Capitol,” saying he would join them. He became furious when the Secret Service refused to take him to the Capitol to lead the insurgency.
20. As the electoral certification got underway, 147 of Trump’s congressional supporters – Biggs, Brooks, Boebert, Cawthorn, Cruz, Gohmert, Gaetz, Gosar, Hawley, Loudermilk, Taylor-Greene, Tuberville, et al began to challenge electoral votes.
21. Meanwhile, even before the rally ended, Trump’s insurgent militias began to break through police lines and encouraged others to follow.
22. As the siege of the Capitol began, gallows were constructed on Capitol grounds with the apparent intent to threaten VP Pence and Democratic leaders. After Trump issued a tweet saying Pence didn’t have the courage to do what’s right, the crowd became even more inflamed and clearly intended to murder the Vice-President, coming within a few feet of Pence and members of Congress.
23. Following Pence’s narrow escape, it appears the next step in the plan was for Trump loyalists in the Secret Service to spirit Pence away from the Capitol so that Chuck Grassley, as president pro tempore of the Senate, could take Pence’s place and send the election back to the state legislatures.
24. As a last-ditch effort, it appears Trump planned to use the violence as an excise to declare martial law. In doing so, he could order the military to seize voting machines and call for a new Putin-style “election” that he would be guaranteed to “win.”
25. Trump would then declare himself president for life as he had previously suggested when China’s Xi Jinping was given that title.

If not for the courage of the Capitol police, along with Mike Pence and a few other individuals, we would no longer be living in a constitutional democracy. But we must all realize that Trump’s attempted coup is far from over. Not only does he plan to run again in 2024. His hateful and heavily armed followers are standing by waiting for his orders. In addition, he has successfully created suspicion about election security resulting in threats of violence against election officials and their subsequent resignations. Many of those have been replaced by MAGAts who will do his bidding. And throughout the country he is promoting candidates for governor, Congress, and Secretaries of State who are attuned to his ideology.

Even if Trump is eventually charged with seditious conspiracy, manslaughter and various other crimes, he still has a compliant majority on the Supreme Court. He still has a well-established propaganda network (Fox News, Newsmax, Breitbart, and talk radio). He still benefits from a shocking amount of disinformation on social media platforms. He still has the support of the Republican Party and “Christian” evangelicals. And there are still nearly 74 million Americans who voted for his brand of hateful and vengeful politics – many of them heavily armed and waiting for the opportunity to act.

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.

We May Have Already Lost Our Democracy.

If you believe we dodged a bullet on January 6, 2020, you are most certainly correct. But the outcome of the insurrection is still very much in doubt. Forget Trump 2024. He will likely already be in prison by that time. At very least, he will be banned from holding office.

The real threat is the five-vote radical majority in the Supreme Court.

Flexing their newfound muscle, Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Thomas have already agreed to hear a case that could give state legislatures the power to choose the winners of elections. All they need is to convince the Trump-appointed Coney-Barrett to help them further gut our Constitution.

In the most extreme Republikkkan-controlled states, that would mean legislatures could overturn the will of the people if they don’t like the election outcome. Given such power in 2020, states like Arizona would have almost certainly handed the presidency to Trump. And, given that a majority of the states are currently GOP-controlled, that could ensure a never-ending chain of Republikkkan presidents, regardless of the popular vote.

Unfortunately, we have precious few ways of preventing such an outcome. We can call for the four justices who perjured themselves during their Senate confirmation hearings to be impeached, so that a new court majority can overturn the most egregious of this court’s decisions. But impeachment convictions are unlikely to pass the 60-vote threshold in the Senate.

That leaves us with only the ballot box at our disposal. In the coming mid-term election, everyone who wants to preserve our democracy must repudiate the radical right by voting for solid Democrat majorities in both the US House of Representatives and in the US Senate. Congress can then go about the process to codify reproductive rights, privacy rights, and same-sex marriage rights, as well as strengthening voting rights for all Americans.

This is the only means certain to prevent our nation from becoming a failed democracy further controlled by theocrats, autocrats, and plutocrats. (If you don’t know the definition of these terms, I suggest you look them up. Because no matter your political or theological beliefs, if they gain even more control, you will wind up holding the short end of the stick.)

We Have Entered The Realm Of Theocracy.

For some people, churches are a blessing. They feel the need for pastors to guide them, to minister to their emotional needs, to provide hope, to tell them how to behave, and they look to congregations for support. But, in my opinion, having once considered becoming a pastor myself, organized religions are little more than social clubs. Like all clubs, they have clubhouses, they perform initiations, and they collect dues (tithes).

Most use symbols (crosses, fish, stars, crescents, etc.) to make it easy to identify one another. Some push a form of exclusivity, encouraging their members to do business with one another, to date one another, and to marry one another. Implicit in all of this is either a conscious or subconscious belief that the followers of their particular club are superior to others. That only through following the path of their club can people reach heaven and everlasting happiness.

Some of these clubs have made celebrities of their leaders, showering them with obscene wealth and submitting to their every wish.

Throughout history, these clubs have inevitably ventured into local, national, and international politics. They have not only gone to great lengths to recruit new members, often sending recruiters (missionaries) around the globe. Too often, they have forcibly pushed their beliefs onto others. They have relied upon their feelings of spiritual superiority to justify the torture and exclusion of anyone who strays from the path of righteousness, to excuse the rape of children and women, to justify the subjugation of others, the taking of land, and the taking of slaves.

They have labeled non-believers as heretics and, by implication or direct order (ostensibly from God), encouraged their members to kill those who refuse to submit. Indeed, many wars, genocides, and ethnic cleansings have resulted from the notion that one club’s beliefs are superior to those of others – the heathens and infidels.

Today, despite the 1st Amendment of the Constitution stating, “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion,” many Christian club members demand that the U.S. be declared a Christian nation. They demand that symbols and scriptures of their beliefs be displayed on public taxpayer-provided property. Ignoring the law that prohibits churches from engaging in political activity, they openly campaign for candidates that will empower them. Despite our constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion (and, by implication, freedom from religion), they demand that all taxpayers help pay for their children’s’ religious education in club-approved schools. And the most extreme are willing to force others to comply with their demands under threat of violence.

Yet, in Matthew 6:6 of the Christian Bible, Jesus is said to have admonished his followers to avoid being like the hypocrites. “For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others.” To, instead, communicate with God in private. “…to enter into a closet and pray to thy Father; and thy Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Though it’s obvious that anyone can engage in silent prayer anywhere and at any time, many of Jesus’s supposed followers now demand that their children be allowed to display their faith in state-sanctioned prayers at public schools, on the football field and elsewhere.

And now, having engaged in a decades-long effort to seize the levers of power, the most extreme of these religious clubs have used that power to, once again, claim control of women’s bodies – more specifically, their uteruses. We must not allow this to stand. We cannot permit one or more of these clubs to control our government, to decide which of us are worthy of enjoying the rights and freedoms enumerated in our Constitution, to decide what a woman can do with her own body in the privacy of her own home or in her doctor’s office, to decide who can marry, to decide when, where, how, and who to worship.

There was a reason why our nation’s founders included the Establishment Clause in the Constitution’s 1st Amendment. Many of the original colonies had anointed certain religions to give them supremacy over all others. In Massachusetts, Puritans persecuted Quakers and anyone else who refused to submit to their strict beliefs. In much of the rest of New England, Congregationalists prevailed. Maryland was originally Catholic. And in many southern colonies, the Church of England was supreme. Colonial governments not only provided direct aid to these established churches through taxes. Their officeholders were often required to take oaths to support the tenets of the established faith.

Recognizing the injustice of such demands and remembering that their own families escaped religious persecution by coming to America, the constitutional framers created the Establishment Clause as a virtual wall separating church from state. We must jealously guard that separation. As churches have become larger and more powerful, we must rein in their political activities. We should tax them like the social clubs they really are, only providing tax write-offs for truly charitable activities. We must no longer allow them to divide us. We must hold those who use their pulpits to preach discrimination and hate accountable. We must reject their attempts to wrest individual rights from others.

We must take back our federal and state governments from the theocrats and the wannabe autocrats.