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.

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.

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.

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 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.

Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied.

In the United States, one of the accepted principles of our justice system is the right to a timely and fair trial. Yet that principle never seems to apply to Donald J. Trump.

Trump has long made it a practice to avoid prosecution through a seemingly never-ending series of delays and appeals – often based on tortured logic and preposterous claims. And, of course, he has resorted to the same tactic when faced with indictments on 91 criminal charges related to his attempted coup and his theft and mishandling of some of our nation’s most sensitive secrets.

In Florida, he has thus far managed to avoid trial for his refusal to return classified documents by continuing to manipulate the seemingly incompetent federal judge he appointed while in office.

In Georgia, when he seemingly ran out of avenues to delay accountability for trying to steal the state’s electoral votes, he created further delay by successfully putting the prosecution on trial over a romantic relationship that has absolutely no bearing on his own culpability.

And in Washington, D.C., he was given a reprieve from the impending trial over his actions on January 6 with the help of the rightwing majority of the Supreme Court. Perhaps the most partisan and unethical court in history decided to hear arguments over Trump’s claim that, having been president, he is immune from prosecution.

His attorneys would have us believe that he could have ordered Seal Team 6 to murder his political rival without consequence!

Of course, that is utter nonsense. But the rightwing justices, having refused Special Prosecutor Jack Smith’s request to rule on Trump’s immunity claim last December, and despite the Circuit Court of Appeals having ruled against Trump, decided to delay the pending trials by adding the immunity case to their court docket.

The result of that decision is of obvious benefit to the Insurrectionist-in-Chief since the ruling may not be announced until July! That means, even if SCOTUS denies the claim of immunity, the federal trials cannot be scheduled until a few months before the presidential election. Predictably, Trump will then argue that any such trials will constitute election interference, and if the rightwing justices adhere to form, they may well rule that the trials cannot be scheduled this year!

What happens then?

If voters are inclined to put the wannabe Putin-style dictator back into office, he will almost certainly pardon himself or order his hand-picked Attorney General to drop the cases altogether.

We cannot allow that to happen.

So, I propose the following: If SCOTUS rules that a president has complete immunity, President Biden should immediately order Seal Team 6 to arrest Trump and send him to Gitmo. He should then sign an executive order demanding that Justices Alito, Thomas, Roberts, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Coney-Barrett replace their black robes with attire more fitting to their legal acumen – clown suits.

Republicans’ Shadow Government.

Republicans continue to rant on about the “Deep State” – unelected government officials who make decisions affecting ordinary Americans’ lives. In fact, it’s mere projection. (Given the GOP’s recent history, you can assume that they’re already doing whatever they accuse Democrats of doing.) 

But they are right about one thing. There is an unelected shadow government affecting our lives. It’s called ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council), an organization of conservative state legislators and others that is funded by some of America’s largest corporations.

If you are thus far blissfully unaware of ALEC – and most Americans are – you are almost certainly familiar with some of its work. It writes so-called “model” legislation based on conservative ideologies for the benefit of – you guessed it – large corporations.

Think your elected state representative wrote the deadly “stand your ground” bill that became law in your state? Think again. It was likely authored by gun manufacturers, distributed by ALEC and introduced for votes by an ALEC legislative member.

Think your state representative authored the bill that preempts cities and other local jurisdictions from regulating guns and ammunition? Nope. It was generated by ALEC.

The “show us your papers” anti-civil rights, anti-immigration law? Nope. Once again, that was a product of ALEC. 

Indeed, whenever you see a rightwing bill introduced in your legislature that seems identical to bills passed in other states, it almost certainly is a product of ALEC. Often, legislators who are members of ALEC never even read the “model” bills before submitting them. As a matter of fact, one Florida legislator introduced a stack of ALEC-spawned bills without even removing the ALEC cover sheets from them!

One of the latest examples of the work of this shadow government is an ALEC bill that would give corporations almost complete immunity from lawsuits intended to hold them accountable for harmful actions. If the bill becomes law, it will severely limit states from collecting damages from corporations that produce and distribute dangerous or deadly products.

It’s difficult to see how such legislation benefits consumers and ordinary citizens. But the benefits to ALEC’s corporate members are obvious. And since the creator of fascism, Benito Mussolini, once said that fascism could more accurately be called corporatism, clearly ALEC and Republican legislators have earned the right to be called fascists.  

So, the next time you hear Republican conspiracy theorists rant on about the “Deep State”, don’t think about the hard-working civil servants at the Post Office or the IRS. Think about ALEC and most GOP legislators.

Dear Trump Supporters, I Still Know Who You Really Are.

In November 2016, I wrote a post aimed at Trump voters saying, “I know who you really are.” Not surprisingly, many of you were incensed by my conclusions. But then you seem easily incensed by any criticisms of you and your orange Messiah.

Recent studies found that you are angry, but that you don’t know what you’re actually angry about. And though you don’t know why, you’ve chosen to blame the government and Democrats for any and all of your frustrations.

Tired of paying what you consider too high taxes? It’s not that Republicans have consistently shifted the tax burden to the lower and middle classes from the wealthy and large corporations. It’s because Democrats spend money on food for children and the poor.

Upset about the lack of high-paying manufacturing jobs? Never mind that multinational corporations have offshored those jobs. The real culprit must be the government which has imposed regulations to protect the safety of workers.

Furious that immigrants are taking American jobs in produce fields and meatpacking plants? It’s not that very few Americans will fill those jobs due to hard work, low pay, poor working conditions, and lack of benefits. Or that, for decades, Republicans have refused to vote on immigration reform. It’s because Democrats can’t stem the flow of immigrants across our southern border.

Angry that inflation has increased interest rates and the cost of many products? It’s not that your mango-colored conman botched and politicized the response to a pandemic leading to disruptions in supply chains and widespread shortages. Or that greedy corporations are using inflation as an excuse to unnecessarily increase profits. It’s got to be the fault of President Biden and the Democrats.

Worried about crime and declining family values? It’s not that fear-mongering Republicans permitted gun manufacturers to sell weapons of war to civilians by the millions. Or that you have long discriminated against people of color and the LGBTQ community. In your feeble mind, it’s godless transexuals and historical accounts of slavery that are responsible for our political division and growing violence.

Without evidence, you believe these falsehoods just because your demented (and apparently dementia-inflicted) leader says so. You take the word of a disgraced, twice impeached, indicted, misogynistic, tax-dodging, mob-connected, fascist-loving, freedom-denying, sexual assaulting, fraud-committing, anti-democratic faux celebrity over that of experts.

Why?

I believe it’s because he’s the bully you always wanted to be. And he’s unshackled you from political correctness, i.e. common courtesy. Of course, you’ll deny it because you claim to be a church-going person of faith. Well, the uncomfortable truth is that if you support Trump, you may well be religious. But you’re neither moral nor ethical.

Neither are you the patriot you almost certainly claim to be. Because patriots support our Constitution and the rule of law. They don’t try to suppress the vote through threats and intimidation. They don’t try to violently overturn the results of an election. They don’t resort to dirty tricks against those with whom they disagree. And they sure as hell don’t beat up cops, deface the Capitol, and try to hang the vice-president.

If you support Trump, you are not a patriot. You are part of a dangerous cult that worships a domestic terrorist disguised as a presidential candidate.

Criticism Is Not Antisemitism!

After the inhumane October 7 attacks on Israeli civilians by the militant faction of Hamas, it seems that some believe any criticism of the Israeli government’s long-standing mistreatment of Palestinians and its mass bombings of Gaza is antisemitic.

It represents the same kind of twisted accusations leveled against me and others for criticizing the US government during its misguided war in Vietnam. Being appalled by the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinian civilians does not make one antisemitic any more than criticizing the Vietnam war made me un-American. And though it may be unpopular to criticize Israel’s conduct of its war on Hamas, I believe it’s important to add context to the situation.

The truth is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been festering since 1948 with no solution in sight. And though Israel’s long-standing occupation of the West Bank and its siege of Gaza does not excuse the horrendous crimes committed by Hamas (nothing can), the untenable conditions under which Palestinian refugees have been forced to live has paved the way for the rise of Hamas and its terrorism.

Consider the fact that the population of Gaza consists of Palestinians who were forced to leave their homeland during the 1948 war in addition to generations of their descendants. Consider that, since the occupation of the West Bank, Israeli “settlers” have continued to harass and kill Palestinians in order to force them off their land. (According to the UN, more than 500 Palestinian men, women and children living in the West Bank have been killed by Jewish settlers this year – most before the October 7 attacks.)

Or consider the fact that Palestinians living within the Israeli borders have fewer rights than their Israeli counterparts. And, because they are not permitted to serve in the Israeli military, they do not qualify for many of the higher-paying jobs.

But perhaps the most grievous treatment of Palestinians is the Israeli concept of administrative detention. That’s the term given to the process of detaining individuals indefinitely without charges, without trials, and with no opportunity to defend themselves. Some have never even been told why they were being detained.

Of the more than 1,300 being held, it was reported that about half had been held for longer than 6 months. Many were children as young as 12. Indeed, according to Save The Children, between 500 and 1,000 such children are held in Israeli custody each year. A majority reported being beaten and strip searched.

They may have been detained for straying too close to the Israeli-Gaza border, for waving a Palestinian flag, for saying something an Israeli found offensive, or for throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers (a crime that could receive a maximum sentence of 20 years). And those are the lucky ones. Before the current war, an Israeli general admitted that IDF forces were under standing orders to shoot at the legs of child rock throwers!

These are the hostages released by Israel as part of the hostage exchange during the temporary ceasefire.

During that exchange, US media waited breathlessly to report every detail of the hostages released by Hamas. What was their condition of health? How were they treated? Where were they held? But few US media showed any curiosity about the hostages released by Israel.

If they had, they might have discovered that Palestinian families were not even allowed to celebrate the return of their loved ones or to publicly display any signs of joy.

One of the great ironies of the moment is that, while many innocent Palestinian civilians are being held under questionable circumstances, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is free despite facing criminal charges for corruption.

Does any of this excuse Hamas’ horrendous attacks? Of course not. They are to be despised, hunted down, and brought to trial for crimes against humanity. They must be held accountable. But so, too, must the Israelis who commit war crimes in return.

And when the dust from this war settles, we must find a way for Palestinians to finally enjoy freedom and self-governance. And to give both the Palestinian and Israeli people the safety and security they deserve.