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.

A Renaissance of Hate.

How else could you describe the era of Trump and his cadre of domestic terrorists? A former president who, while in office, gave the term bully pulpit new meaning by appealing to legions of bullies and white supremacists to do his bidding. A demagogue who has so mastered the art of “mob speak” that he no longer needs to tell his followers to defy laws and the Constitution. They have become so attuned to his narcissistic and sociopathic needs that they are willing to act based on the hope that they will receive his praise and avoid his wrath.

It’s an era marked by the former president so determined to burn down the government that he has ordered his mini-me representatives in the so-called Freedom Caucus to block federal funding just to spite his political rival – the consequences be damned. An era of rightwing governors using immigrants and refugees as political tools by cruelly busing them hundreds of miles to score political points. An era in which state legislatures gerrymander districts to suppress minority votes. An era of supposed righteous “Christians” who cheer policies and tactics that brutalize and marginalize women, the LGBTQ community, and migrants.

It’s an era in which ordinary Republicans, emboldened by their leader’s lies, threaten the lives of judges, jury members, and election officials – even Republican officials. An era in which seven percent of Americans have been convinced by the wannabe dictator that violence is necessary to “save” America from Trump’s political opponents, aka “Demoncrats.” An era in which the so-called party of law and order now wants to defund the FBI and politicize the DOJ because their charlatan-in-chief has been indicted for crimes against the State of New York, the State of Georgia, and the United States of America.

So, how are we to break this Trump-fueled fever?

A landslide repudiation of Republican candidates – all Republican candidates – in 2024 will help. But that alone will not inoculate our democracy from their hateful rot. There needs to be a reckoning in all aspects of our society, beginning with the churches that abandoned compassion and love in favor of power and profit.

Similarly, corporate leaders need to look beyond tax cuts, short-term profits and greed and, instead, consider their impact on the future and what’s best for the nation. Voters need to set aside ideology and vote on the issues which a vast majority approve, including gun safety, abortion rights, mitigation of climate change, civil rights, and immigration reform. Most of all, Fox News Corp, NewsMax and other purveyors of lies must be relegated back to the sewers from where they came.

We’ve done it before.

In the 1800s, tens of thousands of courageous Americans sacrificed everything to end slavery. When the KKK rose to power in the 1920s, good people stepped forward to rip off their white sheets and pointy hoods. In the 1940s, the greatest generation marched into war, and many gave their lives to defeat fascism. In the 1950s, the media and a few senators stood up to the fear mongering of Joseph McCarthy and sent him packing back to his world of darkness. In the 1960s, a majority of Americans rejected Jim Crow laws. In the 1970s, women successfully fought to break the bonds of misogyny. And in the 1980s, we finally recognized the inalienable rights of gays, lesbians, trans, and non-binary Americans.

Unfortunately, like zombies, the fascists have emerged from the grave to spread the clouds of darkness over our nation once again. It’s time for all Americans of good will to stand up and figuratively punch the bullies in the nose. The fate of our democracy depends on it.

The 2025 Project: A Republican Plan To Destroy Democracy.

When it comes to the destruction of our democracy, Donald J. Trump is only a symptom. The real killer is revealed only when you look at the Republican Party in its entirety.

Once hailed as the Grand Old Party of emancipators led by Abraham Lincoln who saved the nation from being cleaved in two, by the 1960s, the party had reversed roles with the southern Democrats of the Confederacy and took on a win-at-any-cost philosophy. In doing so, it embraced racist, anti-government white Christian nationalists. It began pandering to large, multi-national corporations and it rigged the economy for the benefit of billionaires.

It also engaged our nation in unnecessary wars and war crimes. It abandoned polite public discourse, replacing it with cruelty and a determination to “own the libs.” And, in 2016, it elected a demagogue who used the presidency to enrich himself and his family, and who eventually orchestrated a desperate, unconstitutional attempt to stay in power.

Yet, as bad as that Republican Party has been for most Americans, the latest version is even worse!

Lest you think that’s mere hyperbole, consider The Heritage Foundation’s 1,000-page 2025 Project – a plan to deconstruct the federal government, to free corporations (especially those in the fossil fuel industry) from regulations, and to give the next Republican president almost unlimited power.

Under the 2025 Project, Republicans would fire more than 50,000 federal employees and replace them with party loyalists. In addition, they would drastically shrink or eliminate numerous federal agencies altogether. Among those agencies would be the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy’s renewable energy office, the Department of Education, the Department of Justice, and the FBI.

All of this would free corporations to pollute and cheat at will. It would end most efforts to address climate change. It would overturn the rule of law, ending prosecutions of those Republican officials who committed felonies surrounding January 6th while ginning up prosecutions of Democrats under false pretenses.

It would abolish diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. It would roll back protections for workers. It would funnel most taxpayer-based education funding into private schools. It would allow the president to take control of the FCC and, therefore, the media. It would almost certainly institute a draconian nationwide ban on abortion. And it would allow the Republican president to dodge Senate confirmation of cabinet members.

With a Republican president and a government full of Republican workers subjected to loyalty tests, there would be none of the guardrails that saved our nation from dictatorship during the Trump administration.

Terrifyingly, the plan calls for the federal government to be transformed within 180 days of the inauguration of a Republican president!

Voting for Trump or one of his mini-me Republican presidential candidates would be akin to voters forming a suicide pact to destroy our democracy and the world economy. It would almost certainly plunge the world into an economic depression. And it would likely fill the streets with millions of protestors who would be met with violence from Trump’s various armies of domestic terrorists.

To be clear, the 2025 Project is not just the imagination of The Heritage Foundation, former Trump officials, and Trump enablers. It is being heralded by a host of rightwing organizations, most Republican presidential candidates and, by extension, most Republican voters.

It’s not a plan to improve the federal government, to improve our democracy, or to improve the lives of working Americans. It won’t help ordinary Americans realize the American Dream.

It’s a plan to enshrine racism, homophobia, transphobia, and cruelty. A plan to replace our form of government with an autocracy similar to Putin’s Russia where industries and the nation’s resources are controlled by oligarchs chosen by whichever Republican occupies the White House. And where the outcome of elections is predetermined by whoever is in power.

Voters need to understand that a vote for a Republican in 2024 is a vote for the 2025 Project – the political equivalent of swallowing the poisoned Kool-Aid at Jonestown.

“I Dislike The Man. But I Like His Policies.”

Really? What policies are those? Is it Trump’s racism as displayed by his support of white supremacists and his hatred of Black Lives Matter? Is it his racist verbal attacks on Latino migrants? His cruel separation of children from migrant families?

Are those the policies you like?

Or maybe you like his attacks on the LGBTQ community? His misogyny? His utter contempt for any but the most beautiful women? His admitted and proven sexual assaults?

Is that what you like?

How about his tax cuts for billionaires which added trillions to the national debt? Or perhaps you like his policy of using political office to enrich himself and his family at taxpayer expense?

Are those the policies that excite you?

Or maybe you enjoyed watching him kissing the rings of some of the world’s worst autocrats while showing disregard for our longtime allies?

Maybe what you really like is watching Trump and his evangelical supporters take away Americans’ personal freedoms while imposing their Puritanical beliefs on non-Christians? Or maybe what floats your boat is watching him politicize government to reward allies while punishing political opponents? (Though Biden hasn’t weaponized government agencies, Trump most certainly did.)

Do you like his ignorance of climate change? His disdain for laws and norms? His arrogance? His refusal to concede defeat? His open disregard for the Constitution and our democracy? Or his attempts to overturn a free and fair election that has, thus far, resulted in four criminal indictments?

Those must be the policies you like because there are no discernable others.

Contempt Of Court.

OPEN LETTER TO CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS:

In case you are blissfully unaware, a growing majority of Americans have lost faith in your court – the result of your “conservative” members being anything but conservative, engaged as they are in overturning decades of legal precedent. Your court continues to take fabricated cases dreamt up by anti-American rightwing ideologues – the most recent based on false information – to take away rights from American minorities and to legalize discrimination.

In doing so, your court seems to ignore the very preamble of the Constitution and creates a caste system in which the rich and powerful receive protections not afforded to those groups who need them most.

Further, as disgusting as it is to see your Catholic majority politicize the court in an attempt to force its religious views on others is the manner in which it’s done – in the dark of night as part of your shadow dockets or at the end of a session so your ethically-compromised “justices” can sneak back into their hidey holes (or some billionaire’s private jet) before the judgments are revealed.

At 77 years of age, I had long respected, even revered the Supreme Court. No longer! For your court, I, like a growing majority of Americans, have nothing but contempt.

Weaponization? Or Justice?

Republicans would have you believe that the Biden administration has unfairly weaponized the FBI and DOJ to pursue charges against its political opponents. As a result, the House “Freedom Caucus” created a Weaponization Committee to investigate the matter. They are furious that Trump has been indicted and that more than 1,000 insurrectionists have been arrested.

Never mind that, unlike his predecessor, President Biden has taken a hands-off approach to all matters before the Department of Justice. Or that Attorney General Garland appointed an independent special counsel to investigate credible allegations against Trump. Or that the indictments were recommended by grand juries comprised of ordinary citizens.

The GOP should know better than to claim weaponization. After all, Republicans have become experts at weaponizing the government over a period of many decades.

Do you not remember Trump’s campaign promise to “Lock her up?” Do you not remember Republican-appointed FBI director Comey announcing the reopening of the investigation into Hillary’s emails months before the 2016 election? Do you not remember the Trump investigation of the Clinton foundation? Benghazi? Hunter Biden?

Have you forgotten the 7-year investigation into the Clintons – Whitewater, Travelgate, Troopergate, Lewinskygate, etc., etc., etc.? Going back even farther, how about Nixon using members of his administration to break into the offices of the DNC in an attempt to rig the 1972 election?

More recently, the GOP House majority censured Congressman Adam Schiff for simply doing his job and leading the first impeachment of Trump for attempting to shake down Ukraine for dirt on his political opponent. Is that not weaponization of government?

Sure, when Democrats controlled the House, they did push the Trump DOJ into an investigation of the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia. But there were many excellent reasons for doing so. The resulting special counsel investigation led by Robert Muller who was appointed by the Trump DOJ found evidence that Russia hacked the DNC and DCCC websites and shared the information with eager Trump campaign officials. The investigation led to 37 indictments and 7 convictions or guilty pleas. Mueller also identified multiple incidents of obstruction by Trump that would have led to charges if Barr didn’t believe that a sitting president is above the law.

House Democrats also impeached Trump twice. But that wasn’t an attempt by Democrats to weaponize the justice system. That was an attempt to serve justice!

If you want to see what weaponization of the justice system really looks like, wait until the next time Trump or another Republican sits in the Oval Office.

America’s Number One Crime Family.

For those of you who have not been keeping track, following is a list of charges, civil suits and investigations into Donald J. Trump (aka El Chumpo or Cheeto Benito) and his associates:

  1. Trump – Subject of a special counsel investigation into his 2016 campaign’s collusion with Russia. Although he and his Attorney General reported that he had been exonerated, that was not the conclusion of the Mueller Report. In fact, the report found much evidence of collusion, including dozens of contacts between campaign officials and Russian officials. The Mueller Report also noted numerous instances of potential obstruction of justice AG Barr refused to pursue.
  2. Trump – Impeached for denying foreign aid to Ukraine in order to force Ukraine to open an investigation into Trump’s 2020 political opponent.
  3. Trump – Impeached for inciting the insurrection of January 6, 2021.
  4. Trump – Found guilty of sexual assault and defamation against E. Jean Carroll. The day after the jury award of $5 million, Trump repeated the same defamatory statements on CNN’s “town hall” and is currently facing a lawsuit for $10 million.
  5. Trump – Indicted in New York for directing hush money payments to two women in order to cover up his extramarital affairs prior to the 2016 election, a charge for which his former attorney Michael Cohen was sentenced to prison.
  6. Trump – Indicted on 40 counts related to illegally retaining classified and Top-Secret documents under the Espionage Act and for obstruction of justice. Some of the documents are nuclear weapons secrets so sensitive, not even a sitting president can declassify them.
  7. Trump – A special grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia reportedly found cause to indict him of interfering with Georgia’s election. He is expected to be indicted in July or early August.
  8. Trump – Indicted in Washington DC on 4 counts, including obstruction and conspiracy for his actions in trying to overturn the 2020 election.
  9. Trump Companies – Found guilty of tax fraud in New York.
  10. Trump University – The “university” purported to teach the secrets of success in the real estate industry was sued by students who claimed they were duped. The lawsuit was settled for $25 million.
  11. Trump Charity – In 2019, the “charity” was shuttered, and Trump was court-ordered to pay $2 million for misusing charitable funds for his 2016 presidential campaign. The settlement also called for mandatory training for the foundation’s directors: Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Eric Trump.
  12. Trump – Numerous violations of the emoluments clause of the Constitution in which Trump solicited and received money from foreign dignitaries at his Washington D.C hotel.
  13. Michael Cohen – The Trump lawyer and fixer served time in prison for covering up Trump’s extramarital affairs with two women by paying them hush money at Trump’s direction.
  14. Allen Weisselberg – The Trump Companies CFO is serving time in prison for tax fraud.
  15. Michael Flynn – Trump’s campaign official and first National Security Adviser pled guilty to making false statements to the FBI regarding the Russia investigation. He was pardoned by Trump.
  16. Steve Bannon – Former CEO of Trump’s 2016 campaign and White House strategist, Bannon was indicted in 2020 for defrauding donors as part of a crowdfunding campaign to build the border wall. He was pardoned by Trump. Then in 2021, he was convicted by a grand jury for contempt of Congress for refusing to appear and testify about the January 6 insurrection. He is awaiting sentencing.
  17. Rick Gates – Trump campaign adviser pled guilty to charges of conspiracy against the U.S. and lying to investigators during the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
  18. Paul Manafort – Trump campaign chair and manager found guilty of tax fraud and bank fraud. He later pled guilty to charges of money laundering, witness tampering and illegal lobbying. He was pardoned by Trump thereby avoiding a 7-1/2-year prison sentence.
  19. George Papadopoulos – Trump campaign adviser pled guilty to lying to FBI agents regarding his contacts with prominent Russian officials during the campaign. He was pardoned by Trump.
  20. Roger Stone – The Trump campaign adviser and Proud Boys whisperer was indicted on 7 counts, including lying to Congress, obstruction of an official proceeding and witness tampering related to the Muller investigation. He was convicted and sentenced to a 3-year prison term. His sentence was commuted, and he received a full pardon from Trump. On January 5th, he was photographed with his bodyguard, an Oath Keepers leader who was convicted of seditious conspiracy.
  21. Rudy Giuliani – “America’s Mayor” and Trump crony has been found guilty of defaming two Georgia election workers. He was also hit with a $10 million lawsuit by a former aide for sexual assault and unpaid wages. In addition, he’s facing disbarment proceedings.
  22. George Nader – A foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, he was indicted and agreed to a plea deal for child pornography and transporting a minor for sex. Sentenced to 10 years in prison.
  23. Elliot Broidy – A fundraiser for Trump’s 2016 campaign and Trump’s inauguration, Broidy pled guilty to a secret lobbying campaign in which he collected millions of dollars. He was pardoned before Trump left office.
  24. Jeffrey Epstein – Trump denied knowing Epstein. Yet it seems he was a longtime friend and associate of Trump’s. Indeed, there are numerous photos of the two together, including at least one showing them with underage women. Epstein and his girlfriend were both convicted of sex crimes involving underage women.
  25. Tom Barrack – Indicted on seven counts for allegedly using his relationship with Trump to allegedly “advance the interests of and provide intelligence to the UAE while simultaneously failing to notify the Attorney General that their actions were taken at the direction of senior UAE officials.” He was later acquitted on all charges.
  26. Proud Boys – Four members of this violent group which supports Trump were found guilty of seditious conspiracy for their actions on January 6. A fifth member was found not guilty of seditious conspiracy charges but was also sentenced to prison.
  27. Oath Keepers – Three members of this far right extremist group and an associate were convicted of seditious conspiracy. All four are now serving prison terms.
  28. January 6 Insurrectionists – More than 1,000 of Trump supporters who assaulted police, smashed their way into the U.S. capitol, and threatened the Vice-President and Congress have been charged. Thus far, more than 476 have pled guilty.
  29. Fox News Channel – Pundits and guests on the GOP propaganda channel repeatedly made false and outrageous claims about Dominion and Smartmatic voting systems alleged participation in “stealing” the 2020 election from Trump. Fox eventually settled Dominion’s defamation case for $787.5 million. Smartmatic is suing Fox for $2.6 billion.
  30. Mike Lindell – The pillow guy, Trump supporter, and conspiracy theorist is being sued by Dominion for defamation. In this case, Dominion is seeking $1.3 billion in damages. And after a cyber expert took up Lindell’s challenge to debunk Lindell’s election data and won, Lindell was ordered to pay the $5 million prize offered.
  31. Jeffrey Clark – Federal investigators searched the home of the former Trump DOJ official regarding his role in pushing false claims over the 2020 election. No charges have yet been filed.
  32. Jared Kushner – Prior to the GOP taking control of the House of Representatives this year, the House Oversight Committee was investigating Saudi Arabia’s mysterious $2 billion deposit in Kushner’s investment firm. The transaction is particularly questionable given Kushner’s lack of experience as an investment adviser and his relationship to the former U.S. president.
  33. John Eastman – As a result of his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, Eastman is facing disbarment proceedings.
  34. Sidney Powell – Like Eastman, the former Trump attorney is also facing possible disbarment for her actions following the 2020 election.
  35. Lin Wood – Another Trump attorney and election denier who chose to retire rather than face disbarment.
  36. Trump Cabinet Members – At least seven of the 24 members of Trump’s Cabinet were accused of abusing their perks of office. VA Secretary David Shulkin took a taxpayer-funded minivacation following two conferences in Europe. HUD Secretary Ben Carson ordered $31,000 worth of custom furniture for his office. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke used military helicopters for personal use. HHS Secretary Tom Price used taxpayer money to fund nearly $500,000 in charter flights. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin used military aircraft for personal trips, including his European honeymoon. Attorney General Jeff Sessions not only reportedly lied under oath about his Russian contacts during the 2016 election, but he also ordered a secure phone room installed in his office (for private conversations with the Russians?). EPA Secretary Scott Pruit eschewed government policy by flying First Class instead of Coach. And, of course, Trump himself famously bilked the federal government by spending most weekends at his golf resorts and overcharging the Secret Service for rooms.
  37. LIV Golf – The DOJ has opened an investigation into the merger of the Saudi-backed golf league with the PGA. Not only do the Saudi’s have ties to 9/11 and the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. The Trump family stands to benefit from the merger as a result of its ties to the Saudis.
  38. Russian Troll Farm – The Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll farm, was indicted for interfering in the 2016 election on behalf of Trump.
  39. Russian Military Intelligence Officers – 12 officers were indicted for numerous phishing attacks used to steal files from the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign then sharing them with the Trump campaign. They were also indicted for attempting to hack state elections websites.

In addition to the current and pending cases, it seems likely that others in the Trump family will be investigated, including Trump’s adult children: Donald Trump Jr, Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner.

And, if members of the 2016 Trump campaign had not used encrypted messaging, there almost certainly would have been additional criminal charges stemming from the Russia investigation.

Should Trump or one of his imitators and enablers be elected in 2024, we will likely see a crime spree that makes this pale by comparison. Indeed, it may well have global implications for the future of democracy and, as a result of their denial of the climate crisis, the future of our planet.

(NOTE: This post has been updated to include additional criminal charges and proceedings.)

 

An Armed Society Is A Polite Society?

For years, that was the promise of the NRA. More guns would mean less crime and less violence.

Well, it’s now estimated that there are 466 million guns in the hands of US civilians. That’s nearly one and a half guns for every man, woman, and child. And at least one in 20 American civilians owns an AR15-style rifle – a gun designed for the battlefield and the weapon of choice for mass murderers.

So, when exactly does all of that politeness set in?

Instead of courtesy and civility, all I see is an old man shooting a teenager for ringing the wrong doorbell, an old man killing a young woman for mistakenly turning into the wrong driveway, a young man shooting a cheerleader for accidentally opening his car door. A middle-aged man murdering his neighbors for asking him to stop target shooting so a young child could sleep. And people of all ages committing mass murder in schools, theaters, nightclubs, concerts, shopping malls and grocery stores.

Not only does that result in a horrendous human toll (more than 20,000 gun deaths a year excluding suicides). The financial toll is staggering. It’s estimated that each individual wounded by gunfire costs roughly $22,000 in medical bills. Last year alone, that would have amounted to $848,100,000. And that doesn’t take into account the life-changing physical and mental disabilities suffered by the wounded, not to mention the emotional trauma experienced by the first responders, nurses, and doctors who treat them.

Obviously, more guns are not the solution.

It was all a lie designed to help gunmakers sell more guns. In fact, almost everything the NRA and other gun rights organizations have told you is a lie beginning with the Second Amendment. They ignore the first part of the amendment that states, “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state…” and jump directly to, “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Why? Because the entirety of the text doesn’t serve their purpose. They don’t want you to know that the underlying reason for the amendment was to provide for the nation’s defense before the federal government had established a standing army. The new nation needed an armed and well-trained militia to defend itself.

Indeed, former Chief Justice Warren Burger said, “The gun lobby’s interpretation of the Second Amendment is one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American people by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.

That fraudulent interpretation was simply part of a cynical marketing strategy.

You see, around 50 years ago, much of the US was transitioning from a rural society to an increasingly urban one.  As more and more Americans moved into large cities, fewer rifles and shotguns were needed for hunting. And the sale of handguns was stagnant since citizens had to demonstrate a need for a handgun and obtain a sheriff’s permit in order to carry it.

Clearly, gunmakers needed to do something to stimulate sales.

So, the NRA and their bought-and-paid-for politicians began selling fear. They told us that crime was out of control because only the criminals had guns. They told us that gun restrictions were useless. They told us that law enforcement can’t help us. They told us the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

And Americans bought it hook, line, and bump stock.

As a result, everyone with an insecurity complex or a fixation on the Old West is now packing a handgun. People with pent-up grievances take up arms to settle scores. And toxic masculinity is projected through the flash suppressor of an AR15.

And the situation is growing worse by the day as evidenced by a statement made by the leading manufacturer of kits used to make ghost guns (untraceable guns without a sales record or serial numbers). When asked what segment of our population buys the most kits, he responded that it’s “your January 6 types.” You know, the people who charged the Capitol and brutalized law enforcement with the intent to overturn an election and hang Mike Pence.

But according to the NRA and its fascist supporters, any sort of regulation of guns is the first step toward tyranny.