It Is No Longer Accurate To Call White Nationalists Extremists.

While those who espouse white nationalism may seem extreme to Democrats and to many independents, it has become clear that they now represent the mainstream of the Republican Party.

Don’t believe me?

Perhaps you will trust Miles Taylor, the former Chief of Staff of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) during the Goerge W. Bush and Donald J. Trump administrations. A former Republican himself, he says that fully 50 percent of today’s GOP voters believe in Replacement Theory, the racist theory that Democrats are encouraging the illegal immigration of people of color in order to reduce white Christian Americans to minority status.

Once a theory propagated by only the most twisted racists on the very fringes of society – the KKK and neo-Nazis – it has been elevated from the sewers by Trump and mainstreamed by Fox News along with rightwing radio pundits, social media, and various Internet celebrities. The violent results of their hateful rhetoric have accelerated throughout the last 5 years, beginning with the “Alt Right’ March in Charlottesville and culminating in last week’s racist shootings at a Buffalo grocery store.

Of course, those who have incited such hatred refuse to claim any responsibility. And, though they may well briefly tone down their rhetoric, they will soon return to full-throated racism.

To underscore the ties between the GOP and racial terrorism, CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) will hold its annual conference in Budapest, Hungary. Why? Because Hungary’s dictator, Viktor Orban, espouses the same racist replacement theory as much of the GOP. Indeed, so does Russia’s resident dictator and Trump supporter, Vladimir Putin. Which may explain why 25 percent of the Republican congressional caucus voted against more military aid to help Ukraine defend itself against Putin’s invasion.

Moreover, according to Taylor, 50 percent of GOP voters believe in the cult-like conspiracies espoused by QAnon, including the preposterous belief that Democrats are pedophiles and that Democratic leaders and A-list Hollywood celebrities are running a child sex trafficking ring.

Finally, Taylor notes that 70 percent of the GOP think the 2020 election was stolen despite all evidence to the contrary. Not even Trump’s hand-picked Attorney General nor the Trump-appointed judges and justices believed in the claims of widespread voter fraud. Of course, there were a few notable cases of individual voter fraud. But they were Trump supporters who returned ballots for dead family members. And, of course, there’s the case of Trump’s Chief of Staff who illegally registered to vote in two states.

Nevertheless, the GOP and many of its candidates continue to espouse the “Big Lie.” At the same time, GOP governors and legislatures are working overtime to ensure they control upcoming elections. By that, they don’t simply mean they want to win the elections. They are taking steps to rig them by any means necessary.

Taylor says the DHS determined the biggest national security threat is domestic terrorism. I would amend the threat to include the GOP.

The Undeniable Racism Of US Immigration Policy.

We currently have the lowest unemployment numbers in more than 50 years. At the same time, we may have more unfilled job openings than ever before. Employers big and small are struggling to find workers. As a result, many salaries are rising, especially those for unskilled and entry level jobs. All of that would seem to be good news, right?

Not according to the GOP and its rightwing propaganda media.

They are howling about inflation – inflation created by their hero’s failed response to the pandemic and his ill-conceived tariffs. Inflation that almost certainly would have occurred no matter who won the 2020 election. Inflation that has been caused by interrupted supply chains, by a lack of truck drivers and other essential workers willing to risk dying from Covid, by increased oil prices and food shortages stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and, most of all, by the extreme profiteering of oil companies, food processing companies and others.

At the same time, these hyper-partisan propagandists are decrying Biden’s “open border” policies – policies that, except for the unconscionable cruelty of child separation, are largely unchanged from those of the Trump administration.

Now, it’s hardly news that the GOP and its propagandists are making up lies and fomenting hate in the lead-up to an election. But these lies have exposed the undeniable truth about their views on immigration: They are inherently racist. Nothing has made that fact more obvious than the right wing’s demands that the administration deny formula to brown migrant babies in order to stock the shelves for white Americans. In other words, they are more than willing to starve the innocent babies of those leaving unimaginable horrors in their home countries to seek refuge in the US.

Yet most of these same people proudly call themselves “pro-life.”

If a few of these “pro-life patriots” would take off their dunce caps, combine their IQs, and set aside their desire to bully others, they might realize that the US has always been built on the backs of immigrants. And we need immigrants now as never before.

In addition to the worker shortage created by the booming Biden economy, we are at the beginning of the greatest wave of retirees in our nation’s history. If we continue to build walls, refuse immigrants (even refugees), and deport undocumented workers, where are the workers going to come from? The children created by the GOP’s abortion ban and forced birth policies won’t be ready for employment for another 18 years or so. (Unless, of course, the GOP wants to reinstitute child labor policies.)

“But you don’t want ‘those’ people to replace us,” you say? Then what’s your plan? Who’s going to take the low-end jobs that are traditionally filled by new immigrants? Do you expect them to all be filled by white Ukrainians refugees? NEWSFLASH: Many of them are probably more highly educated and skilled than you are. And they probably don’t want to do traditional migrant jobs like hand-picking fruits and vegetables in blazing hot fields any more than you do.

Here’s a thought: Set aside those disgusting racist views that were brought out in the open by the former president and today’s GOP. There are thousands of people waiting at our southern border, many of whom have risked their lives to enter our country. Good people who want nothing more than the opportunity to work and take care of their families.

It’s time to set aside your hateful and racist views of migrants – your belief that America is only for white Christians. It’s time to ignore the divisive tactics of the GOP. It’s time to get over it!

Preaching Evil And Hate.

Preaching Evil is the title of a new Peacock documentary about FLDS leader, Warren Jeffs. But the title could well be applied to hundreds of televangelists and evangelical Christian pastors, as well as fundamentalist Imams, Rabbis, and leaders of various other religions and sects who use their platforms to preach hate against others. There are no better examples than the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, who has blessed Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, and the white conservative “Christians” who encourage their followers to discriminate against people of differing faiths, races, and sexual preference.

Of course, none of this is new.

Most of the world’s violence has long been based on religious differences and misunderstandings. The Roman Catholic Church ordered the torture and murder of millions during the Inquisition. It ordered the slaughter of the Templars, the Cathars and the Huguenots. And its desire to conquer and convert “heathens” was behind the genocide of indigenous Americans.

Religious discrimination led European Christians to tolerate the imprisonment of Jews and the resulting death camps of the Holocaust. Southern Christians condoned the KKK with the Christian symbol of the cross integral to the terrorists’ gatherings and lynchings. More recently, religious differences are at the heart of the on-going conflicts in the Middle East, in India, Pakistan, and Myanmar.

Even when religions haven’t encouraged and committed genocide, they have dismissed others’ creation beliefs as myth. And they declared those they didn’t understand as infidels, witches, or demons.

To be clear, I believe that all people have a right to worship however, whatever, and whoever they please, as long as their worship does not encroach on the rights of others. As long as they respect the beliefs and customs of others.

And I do believe that organized religion can be positive.

I was raised in a small-town church where I was taught the Golden Rule and where most members tried to follow it. The church was a gathering place of joy for weddings, anniversaries, and other celebrations. It was a place where anyone could go to seek aid and guidance. It was also a place where locals gathered in support of those mourning a loss. Those kinds of churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques still exist. But they are being overwhelmed by the political and the crazies.

Surveys have shown that the number of people who attend church is declining in the US and elsewhere – likely the result of the crimes and excesses of religions: the violence, the sexual abuses of children, the hateful discrimination of the LGBTQ community, the misogyny which has led to attacks on a woman’s right to abortion, and the belief that you can still go to heaven despite your sins as long as you confess them and proclaim your faith in Christ.

Yet, somehow, evangelical Christians and megachurches are exerting more power than ever. They captured the Republican Party and celebrated one of history’s worst philanderers and conmen in order to force their beliefs onto others. In effect, many US churches have become little more than political clubs. And because they are tax exempt, we are all helping to pay for their clubhouses and their efforts to spread hate.

The Internal Revenue Service has a long-standing rule prohibiting churches and charities from engaging in politics by defining a 501(c)(3) organization as one “which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.” It’s long past time that the IRS enforced it. Indeed, it also should be applied to campaigning on behalf of the GOP’s continuous culture wars.

That won’t solve all of the problems with organized religions. But it would be a start.

America First? Hardly! More Like Me First.

Trump followers would have you believe that their movement is determined to Make America Great Again. To rewind the clock and return America to the mythical, utopian state of their ancestors. A state in which everyone looked like them, worshiped like them, and thought like them. A state that welcomed immigrants to the Great Melting Pot but only if they were white and their origins were in Europe. A state in which Americans were free to say and do whatever they wanted without regard to the feelings of others.

But it should be obvious that the movement is less about what the nation’s Framers envisioned and more about selfishness, authoritarianism, celebrity, racism, and fraudulent religious beliefs.

As evidenced by those who attacked our Capitol on January 6, 2021, at the heart of the movement are bullies and aspiring bullies of the Millennial and Gen X generations. These are people who spent their formative years surrounded by the material excesses of capitalism and being told that they were special. Many never learned to genuinely compete for anything. Instead, they were given participation trophies for just showing up.

They are the first generations to grow up playing computer games, surfing the Internet, and posting as trolls on social media. Indeed, that’s where they get most, if not all, of their information. Rather than trust journalists, scientists, experts, and government officials, they place their trust in YouTube videos, Instagram, anonymous Facebook groups, Internet influencers, and rightwing media hosts – evidence and facts be damned.

They grew up watching “reality” TV where they learned admire power, cunning, and vanity. As a consequence, they are inordinately impressed by wealth and celebrity, expecting that one day they, too, will live the lifestyle of the rich and famous. They populate mega-churches where they worship the almighty dollar being told that, if they only pray enough, all of their dreams will be fulfilled.

Unfortunately, for many, their expectations tend to be far greater than their work ethic.

Having failed to achieve their grandiose goals, they have immersed themselves in a sea of grievances directed at those they believe have denied them their due. They are certain their lives would be better if not for immigrants and people of color cutting in front of them to claim the degrees, jobs, positions, and stature they have long considered their birthright.

Asked to participate in three ill-conceived and unwinnable wars, some volunteered and came home even more damaged than before – angry, belligerent, and racist. So, when a narcissistic, lying “reality” TV star and conman came along telling them that he would Make America Great Again by ridding the nation of immigrants and returning their birthright, they happily embraced him. Not just as a celebrity and politician, but as a god – a reincarnation of Jesus himself.

And it’s not only the quest for material things that drives these MAGAts. They are utterly obsessed with personal freedom.

They spend thousands on weaponry, ammunition, and body armor to prepare for the coming “storm” as foretold by the mysterious and fictitious Q. They walk around with a Bible in one hand and a copy of the Constitution in the other having read neither. They falsely believe that the Constitution guarantees them the right to do as they please without regard for the rights or the safety of others. They are contemptuous of education, science, and expertise. They support law enforcement as a means of controlling others. But when police try to hold them accountable for their own lawlessness, they consider it an unconstitutional intrusion by big government and the “Deep State.”

Many hate Boomers, the generation of their parents, who they feel reaped the rewards of the American Dream while leaving them to struggle on their own. And they have a particular dislike of their political enemies as evidenced by their chants of “lock them up” and their threats to exercise their Second Amendment rights. On social media, they circulate falsehoods and preposterous stories that portray their “oppressors” – Democrats and “the libs” – as the embodiment of evil. They convince themselves that their opponents are cannibals and child sex traffickers who drink the blood of their innocent victims, that the 2020 election was stolen, and their hero is still the legitimate president of the United States.

Given their autocratic and anti-American beliefs, there can be no giving in to their view of America. There can be no compromise. We cannot permit these people to destroy our democracy and everything our ancestors fought and died for. Indeed, in the coming months, we may be forced to fight for democracy again. When Trump and his crime family are inevitably found guilty of their many felonious and treasonous acts, their supporters may once again turn violent as they did on January 6, 2021. We must be prepared for that likelihood.

But overcoming their violence will not alone end the threat. The only way for that to happen is for those of us who believe in democracy to vote. To soundly, and repeatedly, defeat Trump and his entire slate of Republican fascists at the ballot box.

No One Should Be Surprised By Actions Of The Minneapolis Police Department.

Minneapolis and St. Paul are known as the Twin Cities. One (St. Paul) has enjoyed a competent, public service-focused police department for all of my nearly 40 years of living in the area. The other (Minneapolis) has long been plagued by a police department that is often overly aggressive and racist in its actions.

As I’ve previously written, I personally encountered MPD cops who were corrupt, lazy, incompetent, racist and brutal. Without going into great detail, I’ve seen MPD cops shake down a bar owner. I’ve witnessed a group of six officers acting as a violent gang that needlessly beat, kicked, stomped, and maced a black man who was handcuffed face down in the snow, slush and ice. And I served on a jury for a case in which the police failed to interview even a single witness to a so-called assault.

The list of such incidents is long.

So, when George Floyd was murdered by a MPD Field Training Officer, I was not surprised. But I am surprised that, after Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murder, the MPD would be so quickly back in the headlines for killing an innocent black man, especially after it narrowly dodged an attempt to replace the department with a new department of public safety.

Sure, some things have changed. The previous head of the much too powerful police federation resigned. But I suspect the Federation still has more control over the department than the mayor, city council and police chief combined. And though the previous chief has retired, the interim police chief, Amelia Huffman, was promoted from within. She has been with the MPD for 27 years. That’s 27 years of being influenced by the status quo.

Despite the MPD’s long history of problematic behavior by some of its officers, in the first interview after her appointment, Huffman proudly stated that she “loves” the MPD. She went on to state, “As a department, we must collectively recognize that rebuilding trust and enhancing public safety will require excellence in the line of duty as well as a willingness to embrace bold community safety and reform strategies.”

How has she demonstrated that commitment to excellence and reform?

When asked to cooperate with the St. Paul Police Department in executing a warrant for the arrest of a suspect in a St. Paul murder case, the MPD demanded a “No-Knock” warrant (a practice that the St. Paul police abandoned in 2016). And when a Minneapolis officer shot an innocent young man as a result, the MPD initially issued a press release in which it referred to the victim as a suspect. Only later did it acknowledge that Amir Locke was not named in the warrant and had no criminal history. And, when questioned by reporters, Huffman walked out of a press conference even after promising full transparency. (The MPD still claims the shooting was necessary because the victim pointed a gun at officers.)

If it wasn’t obvious to everyone before the Locke murder, it should now be abundantly clear that the MPD needs drastic change. There are, no doubt, many good officers within the department. But it needs a large influx of new public service-focused officers that are representative of the various neighborhoods within the city. It needs a complete new set of operating standards. It needs better training. It needs to be restructured. And it desperately needs new leadership from outside the department.

It needs its own Chief William K. Finney – the man who made the St. Paul Police Department seem like the polar opposite of the MPD.

America At War With Itself.

Some say that if our nation fails, it won’t be the result of a foreign attack. It will, instead, be the result of our own undoing. No, I’m not necessarily referring to the threat Donald J. Trump and his supporters pose to our democracy. Certainly, they are a very real threat. But a far greater threat is the aftereffects of the NRA having loosened our nation’s gun laws, which have resulted in an increasing number of Americans killing each other and themselves.

According to GunViolenceArchive.com, there were 44,868 US gun deaths in 2021 – 1,225 more than in 2020 and 5,306 more than in 2019. In fact, according to Snopes.com, there have more gun deaths in the US since 1968 than there have been in all of America’s wars combined!

And it’s likely to get worse.

In 2018, Small Arms Survey reported that US residents owned more than 393 million guns – 120.5 firearms for every 100 Americans. And rightwing anarchists (aka the GOP) have been stockpiling weapons and ammunition at an ever more alarming rate in anticipation of going to war with our own government. Their purchases rose sharply following the election of America’s first black president. And they have ramped up again following the electoral defeat of Trump.

As if to place an exclamation point on those facts, several months ago, I began receiving unwelcome emails from a company selling kits with all the parts needed to assemble ghost guns (guns without any identifiable serial numbers). To make matters worse, many of the parts are made from polymers that can’t be picked up by metal detectors. The Ohio company’s sales pitch is “build and carry,” another way of saying you won’t need a permit or background check to carry our guns. And since many of these gun kits are being purchased anonymously using cryptocurrency, they are virtually untraceable, giving a whole new meaning to the words “conceal and carry.”

It should come as no surprise, then, that nearly 24,000 ghost guns were recovered from crime scenes between 2016 and 2020.

Perhaps even more worrisome is the fact that ghost guns have been embraced by the far-right antigovernment crowd, which has been stocking up on them in its preparations for the coming “storm” – a euphemism for civil war. But if the war comes, it almost certainly won’t be in the form of an all-out attack against government troops. Having learned from asymmetrical warfare in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the failed January 6 insurrection and previous federal takedowns of domestic terrorist groups, the seditious “militias” such as the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and Boogaloo Bois are more likely to use a series of so-called lone wolf attacks to accomplish their goals. That will make it far more difficult to prosecute their organizations. And their use of encrypted communications and ghost guns will make it more challenging for law enforcement to track down the perpetrators.

Combine such easy access to untraceable guns with the NRA’s constant attacks on gun restrictions in cities and states and the threat of gun violence grows exponentially. Indeed, as I write this, there’s a case before the US Supreme Court that could overturn Washington, DC’s ban on carrying guns outside the home within our nation’s capital. To emphasize the growing threat, Everytown for Gun Safety recently released the results of a new study on gun deaths. The study found that California, Hawaii, New York and Massachusetts – the states with the strictest gun laws and some of the most densely populated cities – have the lowest rate of gun deaths. By contrast, the states with the most permissive gun laws – Louisiana, Missouri, Wyoming and Mississippi – have the highest rate of gun deaths.

More guns equal more gun deaths? Who would have thought? (Sarcasm very much intended.)

Of course, all of this should come as welcome news to America’s foreign enemies. Indeed, they might be encouraged to reduce their military budgets and hold off on any terrorist plans in the works. After all, why bother to attack our government when it’s already under attack from within? Why waste resources on planning to kill Americans when they can just sit back and watch us kill each other?

Anatomy Of A Conspiracy To Commit Sedition.

This week, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed charges of conspiracy to commit sedition against 11 members of the paramilitary group that calls itself the Oath Keepers. Given what we now know, it should be an open and shut case. The real question is: When will those who inspired and directed the insurrectionists of January 6, 2021, also be charged?

Lest you think that question is little more than partisan hyperbole, consider the following list of documented attempts by Donald J. Trump and his allies to subvert our democracy and to undermine our government:

1 – Prior to the election, Trump says it will be rigged if he doesn’t win while he and his allies deliberately try to rig the election themselves.
2 – GOP-controlled states attempt to limit or ban mail-in ballots despite the pandemic.
3 – Trump appoints Louis DeJoy to the position of Postmaster General, and DeJoy sets about creating mail delays in order to prevent many mail-in ballots from arriving on time.
4 – Trump calls for his armed supporters to go to the polls to “protect the sanctity of the election” with the intent of intimidating voters.
5 – Having encouraged his supporters to vote in person and knowing that those ballots will be counted more quickly than mail-in ballots, Trump states that whoever is ahead in the ballot counting at midnight should be declared the winner.
6 – As heavily populated precincts continue to count ballots into the next day, Trump tries to stop the count.
7 – Armed Trump supporters surround the Maricopa County Arizona counting center and threaten election workers.
8 – Trump is furious when Biden is legitimately declared the winner and claims the election was stolen.
9 – Trump calls state election officials, threatens them, and demands they find enough votes for him to win. One of those officials, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, has the foresight to make an audio recording of Trump’s call.
10 – Trump and his allies file more than 40 lawsuits claiming, among other things, that the electronic voting machines were corrupted. All of the lawsuits fail.
11 – Trump, his legal team, and his supporters claim that Dominion voting machines deleted 2.7 million votes, and that China had dumped millions of paper ballots into ballot boxes in place of Trump ballots that were shredded and fed to chickens.
12 – Trump refuses to permit his administration officials to meet with Biden’s transition team.
13 – Trump pressures his Attorney General William Barr to declare the election fraudulent, and to call for a new election.
14 – When Barr insists there was no widespread fraud, Trump attempts to name his attorney Sydney Powell as special prosecutor to declare the election was fraudulent and to use martial law to keep Trump in power.
15 – Conservative attorney, John Eastman, creates a plan that calls for Trump’s allies in Congress to challenge the electors and for Pence to invoke the 12th Amendment by declaring the election “contested” and calling for a House vote by state delegations. Since Republicans controlled more states than Democrats, the House vote would likely give Trump the presidency.
16 – To continue the fight to overturn the election results, Trump’s associates create a “War Room” in the Willard Hotel with Oath Keepers acting as bodyguards for Roger Stone and other Trump associates.
17 – Trump continues to put enormous pressure on Pence to stop the certification of election results. But, after discussing the matter with former Vice-President Dan Quayle, Pence responds that doing so would be unconstitutional.
18 – Trump, his associates and their propaganda networks continue to claim the election was stolen, inciting Trump supporters to act.
19 – When Attorney General Barr resigns, Trump threatens to replace acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen unless he declares the election fraudulent. And Jeffrey Clark, a Trump-appointed environment law chief at the DOJ, tries to coerce Rosen into signing a letter declaring the election results invalid.
20 – When “Stop the Steal” organizers receive permits for the January 5 and 6 rallies, the Trump administration and Capitol Police decide to limit the number and duties of National Guard members. They seem to be worried only about the safety of Trump protestors.
21 – GOP legislators in seven states send forged documents to the National Archives and the President of the Senate (VP Mike Pence) with phony lists of Trump electors.
22 – The Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and other rightwing Trump supporters call for everyone to go to Washington on January 6. Trump advisor, Steve Bannon, is reported to have said, “We’re going to bury Biden on January 6th, (expletive) bury him.”
23 – Days before January 6, it appears that some Trump supporters in Congress gave tours of the Capitol building for reconnaissance. Indeed, it appeared that some insurrectionists had maps of the building.
24 – In advance of January 6, the Oath Keepers begin to execute a plan to invade the Capitol. They store weapons in Arlington, VA hotels and establish a Quick Reaction Force to deliver the weapons to Capitol grounds if needed.
25 – In the early morning hours of January 6, pipe bombs are left in front of the RNC and DNC buildings as an apparent diversionary tactic.
26 – On January 6, as Trump and his supporters are riling up the “Stop the Steal” crowd, Oath Keepers and others in tactical gear create diversions at the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial which draw a police response.
27 – As Trump’s GOP congressmen are objecting to the electoral count certification, Trump calls for the crowd to march up Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol and “fight like hell for their country.” He says he will go with them. Instead, he goes to watch the events unfold on TV in the White House dining room.
28 – Trump watches as the insurrectionists break into the Capitol and stop the certification of the electoral vote. The insurrectionists erect gallows and search the building for Pence, Pelosi, and others.
29 – Hours into the assault on the Capitol, Trump’s children and others reportedly beg him to call it off. He continues to watch the insurrection on TV.
30 – It takes nearly 2 hours for the acting Secretary of Defense and Trump officials to approve calling out the National Guard in support of the Capitol police. Only then does Trump record a video message to his supporters to go home, saying “We love you.”
31 – After the Capitol is finally cleared, Congress returns to finish the job of certifying Biden as President of the United States of America. In the hallways and Rotunda, they walk past broken doors, glass, and statues that have been smeared with feces and blood.
32 – Trump, his supporters, and his propaganda networks decry news coverage of the events saying that the insurrectionists were no different than typical tourists.
33 – Trump tries to block or delay the release of his administration’s files leading up to and following the insurrection.
34 – Officials from the Trump administration and his allies refuse to respond to requests and subpoenas from the House January 6 Committee.
35 – Despite all evidence to the contrary, Trump and his allies continue to claim the election was stolen.

From all of this, it should be easy to reach a conclusion that Donald J. Trump and his allies inspired and incited an insurrection designed to prevent the winner of the 2020 presidential election from taking office then tried to cover up their actions. At very least, they and their supporters conspired to obstruct a legitimate government function. That charge alone can result in a sentence of 30 days to two years imprisonment. But if they are found guilty of willfully trying to overthrow our government by force (And how else could you describe an armed insurrection to prevent a duly elected president from taking office?), the perpetrators can be fined and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

With either charge, it should be simple for an independent jury of their peers to reach a guilty verdict. After all, they didn’t commit those crimes in secret. They did it openly and in full view of the public.

The January 6th Co-Conspirators Who Have Yet To Be Named.

They likely won’t be charged for their role in the insurrection. But the people most responsible for the attack on the Capitol and on the world’s longest-running democracy were not the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys, Roger Stone, Michael Flynn, etc. or even Donald J. Trump. They didn’t use pepper spray, flag poles, spears, and riot shields to assault police officers.

They used microphones, cameras, and websites instead.

You see, the insurrection began long before January 6, 2021. It actually began in 1987, during Ronald Reagan’s second term, when the Federal Communications Commission repealed the Fairness Doctrine, an FCC policy that originated in 1949 requiring broadcasters to present information in a fair and truthful manner that clearly distinguished news from opinion.

Once freed from the shackles of truth and fairness, broadcast media owners more concerned with politics, ratings, and money than journalistic integrity unleashed the likes of Rush Limbaugh to relentlessly attack the government and the so-called “pointy-headed liberals.” News and truth were replaced by opinion and lies based on fear, anger, and hate. And listeners who had long been conditioned to believe what they heard over the airwaves accepted those lies as fact.

Farmers and laborers were particularly vulnerable to the fiction that Rush was pedaling. Since they spent hours working alone, the radio was a welcome companion on their tractors and at their worksites. Already angry that prices of commodities had tanked in the 1970s and that worker’s salaries had not kept pace with inflation, they were easy prey for a radio host who blamed their problems on immigrants, inner city “thugs” and government bureaucrats.

And things soon got worse. Other unscrupulous actors, attracted by Rush’s booming ratings, joined him on the airwaves to denounce liberals and government under the guise of presenting the “real truth.” The “truth” mainstream media – aka responsible journalists – won’t tell you.

Then Rupert Murdoch and his conservative lapdog, Roger Ailes, entered the picture with Fox News. Though it claimed to be “Fair and Balanced”, it was neither. Certainly, it built a sizeable news gathering operation to fill its 24/7 programming schedule. But it constantly combined news with opinion making it all but impossible to distinguish one from the other. And, instead of hiring respected journalists to present the information, Ailes hired a team of carnival barkers, such as Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Laura Ingraham, and Tucker Carlson, to feed viewers a constant stream of far-right ideas and falsehoods.

Around the same time, there was tremendous growth in websites and social media where anyone with a computer or cellphone could make their opinions known. The more outrageous and sensational the opinions and the lies, the more clicks and money to be gained.

All of this combined to create a rightwing politician’s wet dream – a propaganda network that would be the envy of Nazi Germany’s Josef Goebbels. It was the perfect environment for an accomplished con man like Donald J. Trump.

Rush, Fox, and others used Trump to increase their ratings by further sensationalizing their racist anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ, anti-feminist, anti-government, anti-Democrat agenda. And he used them to give credibility to his lies and to grow his poll numbers. Even after entering the White House, Trump relied on them as his unofficial advisors.

It was this same cult of rightwing media bullies and buffoons who amplified and perpetuated Trump’s Big Lie. They decried the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. They encouraged attacks on state and county election officials. They advertised and promoted the January 6th “Stop the Steal” rally. And they reveled in the notion that rightwing extremists in Congress along with Vice-President Mike Pence could stop the certification of Biden’s win and reassign the selection of electoral votes to Republican-dominated state legislators.

They deserve every bit as much of the credit for the attempt to violently overthrow our government as any of the extremist militias and politicians whose shameful actions almost succeeded in destroying our democracy.

They must be held accountable. If the courts of law can’t do it, the courts of public opinion must.

Don’t Just Blame Joe Manchin!

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

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

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

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

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

It won’t.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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