Our Broken Criminal Justice System.

Trump’s acquittal for inciting an insurrection and his pardons of some of the most treacherous criminals in our nation’s history only serve to call more attention to the inequalities of our justice system. The contrast is particularly stark in comparison to the treatment of people of color over the past year.

The truth is, the US incarcerates more people than any other nation on Earth (2.1 million as of 2018) and a higher percentage of its citizens than any other nation (639 per 100,000). Moreover, our prison populations are disproportionately people of color. And people of color are disproportionately subjected to police violence.

Why?

As with most things, the answer is: It’s complicated. Certainly, the color of one’s skin does not make one more prone to commit crimes. It does not make one more violent. Similarly, not all white people and white cops are racist. But the answer is rooted in our history of slavery, Jim Crow, and our continuing systemic racism.

For example, numerous studies have found that students of color are disproportionately affected by suspensions and punishments in schools. And the inequity begins early. Though black students represent 18 percent of preschool enrollment, they represent 42 percent of students who are suspended once and 48 percent of those suspended more than once.

The impact of such bias is long-lasting. Suspended students are less likely to graduate on time. They are more likely to repeat a grade, drop out of school, or become involved in the juvenile justice system. And, once in the system, it is difficult for them to escape. A 2018 study published in the Boston University Law Review found a profound racial disparity in the misdemeanor arrest rate” for drug possession, theft and simple assault. In addition, they are disproportionately subjected to police violence. This disparity was borne out by the Department of Justice investigation into the City of Ferguson, Missouri following the slaying of Michael Brown, an unarmed young black man.

That report revealed a pattern of unlawful conduct within the Ferguson Police Department that violated the 1st, 4th, and 14th Amendments. In short, the investigation found that the city’s administration, its police force, and its municipal court system viewed its largely black population less as residents than as sources of revenue. Residents were arrested for minor crimes and given fines they could not afford to pay. When they failed to pay the fines, the amounts were increased. Ultimately, they were jailed until they could come up with the money to obtain their release.

And Ferguson is not unique. You can find the same pattern in the poorest neighborhoods of almost every US city.

Further, as abundantly demonstrated by the George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, Philando Castile, Freddie Gray, John Crawford III, Tamir Rice, and untold others killed by police, there is significant racism within the police ranks. Young black males are killed by police at a rate 5 times greater than whites. And more than double the rate of Latinos.

Even if the police are not intentionally racist, many have preconceived, subconscious biases. Many assume people of color are guilty of something. They see expressions of free speech as unlawful disobedience. They see innocent movements as threats. And they too often resort to excessive force. Yet, although the number of documented cases of police abuse has grown as a result of the availability of cellphone video, the overwhelming majority of cases still go unreported for fear of retaliation.

There are many contributing factors for the problems: Police leadership – both at the top and within the ranks, flawed hiring practices, and inadequate or over aggressive training. Police are too often expected to deal with situations, such as mental health crises, for which they are unqualified and unprepared. And they are often the victims for poor communication from dispatchers. Police are also victims of our nation’s runaway gun culture. Any American can obtain a gun. And many have more firepower than the responding officers.

Other factors are the militarization of our police forces through the purchase of surplus military equipment. To keep these items, they must prove that they use it. That tends to escalate the violence. And we can’t overlook the police federations that make it difficult for Police Chiefs to enforce meaningful disciplinary actions against abusive officers.

Our court system is equally at fault.

The United Nations Sentencing Project found that US operates two distinct criminal justice systems: One for the wealthy. Another for the poor.

While people like Trump and his friends can afford high-powered attorneys to avoid or delay justice through complicated and expensive motions, the poor, especially people of color are treated very differently. Since the courts and public defenders are overwhelmed with caseloads, prosecutors are often able to intimidate defendants into accepting plea bargains. If they plead to a felony, they are often placed into a prison system focused on revenge rather than rehabilitation and education. Once they’re released, they’re still viewed as dangerous. In many states, they can’t vote. And they find it difficult to get jobs. All too often, that leads them to commit other crimes.

If their crimes involve mental illness, they may be even worse off. The US has all but eliminated mental health facilities. So, the mentally ill are relegated to jail cells. When they act up or become violent, they are placed in solitary confinement, which, in essence, becomes a life sentence.

We can’t make America great again. Because it never was. And it won’t be until we eliminate systemic racism and redesign the criminal justice system from top to bottom.

Welcome To The GQP.

No, that is not a typo. The Republican Party, once led by Abraham Lincoln who held the Union together and emancipated slaves, by Theodore Roosevelt who broke up corporate monopolies and established National Parks, and by Dwight D. Eisenhower who led the defeat of Hitler and helped build America’s middle class, has become the party of bizarre, and delusional, conspiracy theories – the Grand QAnon Party (GQP). Once dedicated to fiscal conservation, the party is now dedicated to conserving white power, institutional racism, and the massive wealth of billionaires.

Instead of constitutionalists, it’s led by radical insurrectionists dedicated only to gaining and retaining power.

The change didn’t happen overnight. It began when the wealthy in the John Birch Society began using their resources to elect compliant officials. It took root with the nurturing of “Christian” evangelicals who selectively used Bible verses to justify discrimination against minorities and to use so-called social issues to gain political power. It grew more radical under the watch of Newt Gingrich who, as Speaker of the House, demanded complete unity and fealty of his caucus on the penalty of being “primaried.” Its members became increasingly dangerous and delusional under the tutelage of the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Jeanine Pirro, and Alex Jones. The Internet and social media allowed the infection to spread unchecked. And the asylum doors were thrown open by Donald J. Trump.

In the 1970s, we saw Richard Nixon divide the nation and undermine our electoral process with the burglary at Watergate. In the 1980s, we saw Ronald Reagan destroy the middle class with his Trickle Down Economics and circumvent the Constitution and Congress with the Iran-Contra affair. In the 2000s, we saw George W. Bush use falsehoods and disinformation to lead us into war. In 2010, we saw members of the Tea Party lie and bully their way into Congress and threaten to shut down our government unless they got their way. In 2014, we saw congressmen and legislators run to the side of Cliven Bundy and his militia who had aimed their weapons at government officials acting on a legal court order. Beginning in 2016, we saw racism and corruption on full display at the highest levels of our government. We saw our president playing footsie with our nation’s enemies at the same time he verbally attacked our military heroes. And, on January 6, we saw the inevitable result of conspiracy theories, hate, racism and a violent sense of privilege run amok.

That shameful event – the worst attack on democracy in our nation’s history – should result in those who inspired the attack being sentenced to prison. It should result in all members of the GQP paying a steep political price. It should end with Marjorie Taylor-Greene, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Lauren Boebert, Paul Gosar, Andy Biggs, Matt Gaetz, Jim Jordan, Kevin McCarthy, Mitch McConnell and others of the Sedition Caucus being removed from office. But it likely won’t.

Instead, we will almost certainly see Donald J. Trump acquitted by GQP members of the Senate. Not because he is innocent of the charges. But because a majority of them still wish to curry favor with their treasonous autocratic leader.

It’s clear that we are now perched on the precipice of a second Civil War. But this time, the division isn’t over slavery. It’s over reason and truth.

Why InfoWars, The NRA, Rightwing Media, And The GOP Should Be Labeled Terrorist Organizations.

Following the insurrection at the Capitol, the FBI classified the Proud Boys as a terrorist group. Even prior to the attack on our democracy, the FBI warned Congress of the threat posed by domestic terrorists. But no one in the Trump administration or in the GOP seemed to listen. Why? Because they had been inspiring domestic terrorists for many years.

Indeed, I believe the violent insurrection of January 6, was the inevitable result of decades of racist, anti-Democrat, anti-government rhetoric.

For example, the GOP reached out to white supremacists as early as the 1960s. The so-called southern strategy was to embrace southern racists who were unhappy with Democrats following passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Racists have been a reliable part of the Republican base ever since.

In 1968, Nixon and Agnew ran as “law and order” candidates as a way of courting white voters. (Ironic isn’t it, given their own crimes?) In 1980, Ronald Reagan served up racist dog whistles to assure southern support. And, by ending the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, he made the rightwing propaganda network possible, opening the airwaves to people like Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Mark Levin, Jeanine Pirro, Sean Hannity, and others to spout anti-government, anti-immigrant, and anti-Democrat hate 24/7. As more Americans tuned in to their hateful rants, the GOP lurched further and further to the extreme right. But not even those hatemongers could have envisioned what was to come.

Once Alex Jones entered the arena in 1999, the Republican Party began its descent into the dark sewers of politics. Jones used his InfoWars radio platform to peddle bizarre conspiracy theories and mostly worthless junk. InfoWars made Jones rich. But it also incited the lunatic fringe, which by then had become the base of the Republican Party. He claimed President Obama was a foreign-born Muslim terrorist. He dismissed mass shootings, including the slaughter of children at Sandy Hook Elementary, as “false flag” events staged by Democrats and liberals in order to institute gun control measures. He claimed a US military training exercise in the Southwest was an Obama plot to institute Sharia law. A master of getting attention, he further convinced his followers that Democrats and liberals were the root of all their problems; that they were actively trying to destroy America.

The rhetoric of Jones and the rest of the Republican propaganda network led to a series of angry confrontations between elected officials and armed Tea Partiers at Town Hall Meetings. It likely inspired the armed confrontation between the Oath Keepers and Bureau of Land Management officers at Cliven Bundy’s “ranch.” It almost certainly led to the armed standoff at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

These events seemed to serve as preliminaries for the insurrection to come and ushered in the presidency of Donald J. Trump.

From the time Trump descended his faux gold escalator to announce his candidacy, he pandered to racists by labeling immigrants as rapists, murderers, and thugs. And by calling for an end to political correctness, he was emboldening white supremist groups that were inclined to violence. In cities and towns nationwide, people of color were subjected to verbal and physical abuse as never before. People were berated, told to go back to where they came from, and beaten or killed. Brown babies were ripped from their parents’ arms and thrown in cages. Refugees from predominately black and brown countries were banned from entry. The violence of the racist mob in Charlottesville was dismissed by Trump stating there were “fine people on both sides.” Black Lives Matter protestors were called “very bad people” and “thugs.” And the almost mythical Antifa (short for Antifascists) was called worse.

Throughout, the NRA has continued to provide arms to potential terrorists and insurrectionists under the guise of freedom. Acting as a carnival barker for the gun industry, it pushed for more permissive gun laws and ever more lethal weaponry as a “guard against tyranny.” It made violent militias such as the Proud Boys, the Boogaloo Bois, the Oath Keepers, QAnon, and others possible. And it supported the campaigns of increasingly anti-American GOP candidates such as Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Paul Gosar, Andy Biggs, Debbie Lesko, Jay Jordan, Matt Gaetz, Josh Hawley, Lauren Boebert, and Marjorie Taylor Greene.

All of these people and organizations, as well as the billionaires who fund them, set the stage for the violent attempt to overthrow our democracy in favor of an autocracy to be led by president-for-life Trump.

Trump and his GOP enablers called his electoral defeat the result of fraudulent voting. They incited their violent followers to overturn the election using rightwing media as their megaphone. They told them to fight, to march to the Capitol and take back their country. Alex Jones and others called for a civil war against liberals and Democrats. And those who were inspired to attack the Capitol and Congress, were armed by guns made available by the NRA.

They are terrorists, plain and simple, who have caused more harm to Americans than al-Qaeda, ISIS and the Taliban combined. If they were Muslim or a foreign-based terrorist group, we would be readying drone strikes or preparing for all-out war. Instead, Republicans are asking us to move on, to simply forgive and forget. That is not only unrealistic. It’s unthinkable. All of them should and must be held accountable.

Trump’s War On Democracy.

January 6th was the latest, and hopefully the last, step in Trump’s plan to become president for life. To fully appreciate the seriousness of his attempted coup, it’s helpful to look at his actions leading up to the election and the plan to overthrow our government by assassinating congressional Democrats, independent Republicans, and even Vice-President Pence.

Following are the highlights or, more appropriately, the lowlights:

1 – More than a year ago, Trump attempted to weaken his likely election opponent by illegally withholding aid to Ukraine unless the nation announced an investigation of Hunter Biden and Joe Biden. It was this action that led to his first impeachment.

2 – Trump used his compliant Attorney General to announce an investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation claiming that Obama and Biden illegally “spied” on his 2016 campaign.

3 – Trump refused to say that he would accept election results unless he won. He repeatedly claimed that Democrats were trying to rig the election.

4 – Trump and his Republican supporters attempted to block all mail-in ballots claiming that it would open the election to widespread fraud. This was a transparent attempt to block Democratic votes, since Democrats had encouraged supporters to vote by mail to minimize their exposure to Covid-19.

5 – Trump replaced the Postmaster General with one of his donors and sycophants who apparently set about delaying and obstructing mail-in ballots, especially those in the key swing states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. At the same time, the Trump campaign sued to block states from counting ballots received after election day.

6 – Trump replaced the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security with inexperienced sycophants likely hoping that he could count on military support for his coup and a weakened response to his hostile takeover.

7 – Prior to election day, Trump claimed that the true winner of the election would be the candidate with the most votes by midnight and stated that any votes counted after that time would be fraudulent.

8 – On the night of the election, Trump claimed victory saying he won in a landslide.

9 – When Trump’s then-favorite TV channel, Fox News, called Arizona for Joe Biden, Trump went ballistic and ranted that it was fake news – that he won Arizona.

10 – When the media eventually called the election for Biden, Trump again claimed that it was fake news and claimed the results were fraudulent.

11 – Before states certified results, Trump demanded recounts in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

12 – When the recounts failed, Trump called Republican legislative leaders and governors in swing states demanding they reject Biden’s slate of electors and appoint their own.

13 – Trump’s lawyers filed 62 lawsuits in state and federal courts to overturn the election results. He organized “Stop the Steal” protests at state capitols across the country. And he tweeted that the election was rigged no less than 157 times. None of it worked.

14 – Trump called governors and secretaries of state to encourage them to overturn the election. When that didn’t work, he threatened them. He called Georgia’s Secretary of State 18 times before the Secretary finally accepted the call during which Trump asked the secretary to “find” enough votes for him to win.

15 – Trump promoted a “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, D.C. for the day Congress was to certify the electoral votes, tweeting, “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!” (Interestingly, the rates for Trump’s Washington hotel were raised to $4,200/night for the rally.)

16 – Trump tweeted that V.P. Pence could reject “fraudulent” electoral votes on January 6th. He told supporters to “fight like hell.” He also tweeted, “When you catch somebody in a fraud, you are allowed to go by very different rules.”

17 – Prior to the rally, Trump supporters and domestic terrorist groups exchanged plans for the rally on social media. Many of the social media posts called for violence which caused the FBI to warn of an impending “war” at the capitol.

18 – It has been reported that, prior to the coup attempt, a foreign entity (Vlad, was that you?) transferred $500,000 to some of the violent groups that were ultimately involved.

19 – Astonishingly, Capitol Police and other law enforcement agencies seemed woefully unprepared for the “war” on January 6th. The reason for their lack of preparedness is still unclear. Was it because of the inexperienced leadership that was installed by Trump? Or was the lack of preparation ordered by Trump?

20 – On the day of the rally, thousands of Trump supporters (including members of at least seven hate groups) descended on Washington to hear Trump, Don Jr., Giuliani, Mo Brooks and others claim that the election was stolen. Giuliani called for “trial by combat.” Trump encouraged the crowd to march to the capitol to “take back our country.”

21 – It is now clear that many of the terrorists had knowledge of the floorplans and the location of the offices of Democratic leadership. Many chanted “We want Nancy” and “Hang Mike Pence.” Some came with flexcuffs obviously intended to capture, restrain and likely murder members of Congress.

22 – As most Americans watching coverage of the insurrection recoiled in horror, Trump waited hours before calling for his followers to go home. But he refused to denounce the violence. Instead, he tweeted that he “loved” the terrorists.

23 – Trump and a majority of congressional Republicans have yet to admit that there was no election fraud despite the fact that many of those who confirmed and certified the election results are Republicans. And despite Trump’s own appointee to oversee election security declaring the 2020 election as “the most secure in US history.”

We still have much to learn about the violent coup. But we don’t need a crystal ball to divine the intentions of the mob and its wannabe dictator. Since Trump failed at his re-election, almost certainly, he intended to retain office by force. And his “soldiers” are already planning their next assault.

The Origins Of Insurrection.

As I watched our Capitol – the cathedral of democracy – invaded by a collection of neo-Nazis, white supremacists, militias and conspiracy theorists under the banners of Trump, QAnon, and the Confederacy, I was both horrified and transfixed. But it was clear to me that the seeds of insurrection and hate were planted years earlier and nurtured by many…

– By the GOP southern strategy of the seventies that embraced racism for political gain.
– By the criminals Richard “Tricky Dick” Nixon and Spiro Agnew who brought corruption to the West Wing and who tried to subvert elections.
– By Ronald Reagan who fomented distrust of the government and whose economic policies hollowed out the middle class and moved many into poverty.
– By Jerry Falwell, Billy Graham, Pat Robertson and other religious leaders who called for discrimination against gays and women who chose abortions over childbirth.
– By Rush Limbaugh, Fox News and the entire GOP propaganda network who used their media platforms to incite their audiences into an anti-government fervor by claiming Democrats and liberals were enemies of democracy.
– By Republicans who, in an attempt to repay Democrats for Nixon’s forced resignation, conducted a seven-year and $70 million hunt for dirt on the Clintons.
– By the racists, including Donald J. Trump, who refused to accept that Barack Obama was born in the US and, therefore, eligible to be president of the United States.
– By the Tea Party, including congressional representatives and senators who promoted false claims that the Great Recession was created by President Obama and that he was acting unconstitutionally.
– By Alex Jones who used his radio and Internet platforms to create and circulate bizarre conspiracy theories aimed at fomenting distrust of government and hate for Democrats.
– By GOP members of Congress who promoted conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton and conducted seemingly endless and outrageous investigations into the tragedy at Benghazi.
– By Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media that hosted a toxic brew of hate and anti-government conspiracy theories.
– By the Trump 2016 campaign that began with an appeal to racists and reached out to Russia for support and aid.
– By the mobs that chanted “lock her up” at every Trump rally.
– By the mainstream media that gave hours and hours of airtime to a reality TV “celebrity” and serial sexual assaulter in their insatiable quest for ratings.
– By the GOP that nominated and enabled a candidate who was clearly unfit and unqualified to become president.
– By former Attorney General William Barr who mischaracterized and dismissed the obvious crimes enumerated in the Muller Report.
– By GOP senators who refused to convict and remove Trump from office during his impeachment proceedings.
– By the outgoing occupant of the Oval Office who is clearly guilty of sedition.

Yet those most responsible, by far, are the Trump voters and supporters who put a conman in office, who excused his avarice and his obvious crimes, who supported his racist attacks on refugees and American citizens of color, who verbally and physically attacked journalists for reporting the truth, and who prioritized party and hatred of “the libs” over country.

They are all complicit in this assault on democracy.

Part John Gotti. Part Vladimir Putin.

That is the takeaway from Donald Trump’s hour-long call with the Georgia Secretary of State, in which he begged and bullied Brad Raffensperger, telling him he was “taking a big risk” unless he is able to “find” 11,800 votes that would give Georgia’s electoral votes to Trump.

The message was clear. Trump wanted Raffensberger to rig the election for his benefit.

Indeed, the whole tone of the recorded conversation was what you’d expect from a mafia boss speaking to a member of his mob. It’s also what you might expect from dictators such as Vladimir Putin, Viktor Orban, Bashar al-Assad, Nicolas Maduro, Kim Jong-un, Abdullah Aziz al Saud, or the late Saddam Hussein.

The call was not unlike the “perfect” call Trump made to the newly elected president of Ukraine in which he threatened to withhold US foreign aid unless Zelensky agreed to announce an investigation of Hunter Biden to help Trump win the 2020 election.

If you are familiar with Trump’s background, his attempts to defraud American voters should come as no surprise. As a developer in New York, New Jersey, Florida, and Nevada, Trump long played footsie with the Mafia. He was schooled in the ways of the mob by his late attorney, Ray Cohn. (Cohn’s clients also included Joseph Gambino along with other Mafia figures and the infamous Sen. Joseph McCarthy.) With Cohn’s mentorship, Trump was able to perfect the art of the con, which helped him defraud those who were enthralled by Trump’s “celebrity” to enroll in Trump University, to donate to Trump Charities, and to purchase overpriced Trump real estate. Ultimately, it’s what put him in the Oval Office.

Cohn taught Trump to exaggerate and lie. (On average, Trump has lied more than 23 times a day while in office.) Cohn and his successors helped Trump cheat at every turn, which may explain why Trump’s name appears 3,450 times in the Panama Papers, a database of those who avoid taxes by investing in offshore tax shelters. And, under Cohn’s tutelage, Trump learned to never admit failure or a mistake. Instead of apologizing or facing the consequences of his actions, Trump learned to bully, threaten, and sue to get what he wants. That’s why Trump has been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits.

Like a mob boss, Trump has surrounded himself with loyalists to do his unconstitutional bidding. When they have been caught, he has used his pardon power to keep them quiet. While following the tyrant’s playbook, he has used every lever available in his efforts to stay in power. And, in doing so, he has created more damage to our democracy than any of our external enemies could hope to do, which must make his current mentor, Vladimir Putin, very proud.

Will he ever pay for his cons and for the harm he has done to our nation?

At this point that’s unclear. He will likely try to pardon himself from his federal crimes. But that won’t save him from state crimes. And, given that the Southern District of New York is investigating his businesses for potential bank fraud and tax fraud, he may well end up like another crime boss – Al Capone.

Are Racism And White Nationalism The Inevitable Result of Military Training?

With each military conflict, our soldiers become more lethal. In WWII, it was estimated that only 15-20 percent of our soldiers fired their weapons in combat. After changing our training methods, it was estimated that the percentage had grown to 55 percent in Korea and 90-95 percent in Vietnam.

Those numbers have likely continued to increase in recent conflicts against people of color and other faiths.

The increases are almost certainly the result of dehumanizing the enemy to make it easier for our soldiers to fire to kill in combat. That makes our military more lethal and efficient than at any time in our history. But it may have a troubling side effect.

In her book, Bring The War Home, Kathleen Belew describes how the environment inside our military has led to a number of veterans joining the White Power movement and applying their military training to make it increasingly violent. And it appears that racism within the military is growing. Indeed, a Military Times study conducted in 2019 found “36 percent of all active-duty service members have personally seen examples of white supremacy and racism within the military.”

The consequences may be as benign as military veterans rejecting dating partners with olive skin and dark hair in favor of blondes. But, too often, racism within the ranks results in deadly consequences for our society. As some members of our military retire, they seek outlets for their racist views. They end up in White Nationalist militias and other militaristic groups, such as the Oathkeepers. Others, seeking to recapture the adrenalin rush from military conflicts join more militant groups such as the Proud Boys, and the Boogaloo Bois.

During the Trump administration, far too many of these veterans contributed to the division and violence on our streets. In blatant attempts to bully political opponents, they showed up at demonstrations in military regalia with combat-style weapons. Some engaged in street fights. And, in clear conflict with their oath to protect the Constitution, others used guerilla military tactics to burn properties and create disorder to inspire a civil war or to blame Black Lives Matter or Antifa.

Worse yet, as police departments across the nation have prioritized the hiring of military veterans, too many racist and violent people have ended up with badges. Perhaps that explains why Police Federations have labeled Black Lives Matter a terrorist organization despite the fact that BLM’s marches and demonstrations have remained almost entirely non-violent. Indeed, most of the violence surrounding their events has been committed by others or instigated by the police themselves.

What can be done to stem racism in the military and to prevent it from having a residual impact on our society?

First, we must demand that our military branches do a better job of rooting out racists. Second, we must create better mental health programs for those combat veterans who are leaving the service. Third, our governments should make it a priority to break up heavily armed militias and hate groups, to confiscate the weapons of those who have instituted or threatened violence, and make it difficult for them to obtain new weapons. Fourth, we must demand that law enforcement do a better job of screening job applicants for racist and violent tendencies.

Only then can we hope to have real peace in our streets.

Give Trump Credit Where Credit Is Due.

During the 2016 campaign, Donald J. Trump promised to drain the “swamp.” And he did. Unfortunately, he replaced it with something much worse: A cesspool.

Swamps are not only natural. They’re a necessary part of the landscape. They serve as filters for our waterways. They provide homes and food for an abundance of wildlife. And they absorb floodwaters. Cesspools, on the other hand, contain only excrement and bacteria.

Consider the stench coming from the Trump cesspool over the past four-plus years: It has been thoroughly documented that Trump and members of his campaign encouraged and cooperated with Russian operatives in order to influence the 2016 election cycle using information stolen from the Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. To suppress news of his extramarital affairs, Trump ordered his private attorney to make hush money payments.

Trump filled his family coffers by holding many of his campaign events at his Trump-branded properties. He ignored the Constitution’s emoluments clause by guiding foreign leaders and powerbrokers to his Washington hotel and resorts. Following Trump’s corrupt lead, cabinet members Mnuchin, Pruitt, Sessions, Carson, Zinke and Pompeo all illegally used government resources for personal use. Trump’s weekly visits to his golf resorts funneled millions into his company’s bank accounts by charging Secret Service for rooms, food, and golf cart rentals. He even tried, and failed, to use his office to encourage G8 members to hold a meeting at his struggling Doral resort.

He chose known white nationalists as his closest advisors who cut immigration of refugees from majority black and brown nations. They ordered family separations at our border and placed children in cages. They put the Dreamers at risk for deportation to countries many could no longer remember. And they ordered the deportation of refugees to countries where their lives were at risk.

Trump oversaw the most chaotic administration in history creating a revolving door at the top of each agency as he searched for loyalists to do his bidding. One by one, competent, well-intentioned civil servants were fired or resigned in disgust. Trump pardoned loyalists for serious crimes, including crimes that bordered on treason. With a compliant Senate, he filled the courts with blatantly ideological, and often unqualified, judges. Even faced with a growing pandemic, he pushed aside virologists and epidemiologists to rely on the advice of unqualified partisans.

He spurned our traditional allies as he embraced the world’s most brutal dictators. He tried to bribe Ukrainian officials to manufacture dirt on his political opponent – an act for which he became the third president in US history to be impeached. He sold weapons to some of the worst actors in the Middle East. He sold out the Kurds who helped defeat ISIS. And he sold out the Palestinians, all but ending their dream for their own state.

The Trump administration conducted an all-out assault on the environment by deregulating corporations and freeing them to pollute our air and water. It withdrew the US from the Paris climate accords, making us the only nation on the planet that is not a signatory. It reduced national monuments and sold off the land and mineral rights to the highest bidders. And it made several endangered species vulnerable to hunting.

In the 2020 campaign, Trump ignored the Hatch Act by holding political campaign events at the White House and involved government employees in his campaign. He undermined our elections by falsely claiming his defeat was the result of widespread fraud. And he’s currently cramming through a myriad of changes with the intent of making it more difficult for his successor to govern. During his campaigns and his time in office, he has told tens of thousands of lies. His final act will be to pardon his family and himself of all crimes they committed during his horrific term.

So, yes, he did drain the “swamp” of competent, patriotic civil servants. And he’s leaving it a stinking hot mess.

The Threatening Legacy Of Donald J. Trump.

When President Joe Biden takes office, he will face some of the most problematic crises in our nation’s history. Not only will he have to orchestrate the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines in the face of resistance from a growing number of anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists. He will have to find ways to restart the economy despite the inevitable obstruction of Republicans who have already announced their intention to focus on the national debt, despite spending like drunken sailors during the Trump administration and adding $7 trillion to the total over the past four years. Of course, their “solution” is to cut Social Security, Medicare, and other safety nets. A “solution” that would only exacerbate the current economic crisis.

And those may be the least of the problems Biden will face.

Consider that more than 74 million Americans overlooked the incompetence, cruelty, depravity, corruption, and treachery of the Trump administration to vote for another four years of the same. Those 74 million are almost certainly diametrically opposed to Biden’s plans. They are likely to believe – mountains of evidence to the contrary – that Trump was unfairly accused of colluding with Russia to win the 2016 election. They also believe that Trump’s impeachment trial was a Democratic witch hunt. Many still believe that the coronavirus is a hoax. And many more believe Trump’s lies about widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.

Millions of those who oppose Biden have followed the mysterious Q down the rabbit hole of bizarre conspiracy theories. They believe Democrats, some corporations, and A-list celebrities are child traffickers, pedophiles, and cannibals. And they believe Trump was sent by God to save the children (a belief that is especially ironic since Trump is known to be a serial sexual assaulter who had close friendships with actual pedophiles).

Given all of this, Biden will face enormous resistance from Republicans and Trump supporters. But all that pales in the face of the chaos created by the outgoing president and his family.

Trump has fired numerous high-ranking government officials he considers disloyal. And he is expected to fire many more, leaving federal agencies in various stages of disorder. Trump may engage in further acts intended to hamstring the incoming administration. These range from a flurry of executive orders and policy changes, as well as foreign policy decisions. And, in an attempt to remain relevant, Trump has pondered the idea of creating a Trump television network which would add to the rightwing propaganda network that has contributed to our divisions. Even if he doesn’t, he is likely to rely on other media to encourage his followers to foment conflict and disorder.

Moreover, Trump will be a very real security threat to our national interests.

It is well known that Trump is an admirer of one of our nation’s greatest rivals – Vladimir Putin. In addition, he has shown an affinity to other strongmen and dictators. Trump, Don Jr., Ivanka, and Jared Kushner have all enjoyed top secret clearances for the past four years. And since the Trump family has hundreds of millions – some say a billion or more – in debts coming due by the middle of 2021, they may well be tempted to trade information in exchange for money.

Indeed, the Trumps could pose the greatest threat to our national security since the Rosenbergs who were accused of providing top-secret information about radar, sonar, jet engines, and nuclear weapons to the Soviet Union.

Further, the Trumps are facing daunting legal threats in the State of New York – threats that cannot be dismissed by presidential pardon. That opens the very real possibility the family will emigrate to a nation that does not have an extradition treaty with the US. Who might that be? Russia, of course. And if they do emigrate, what are the chances that they will share our national secrets with their hosts?

The prospect of such actions can only be described as frightening.

Don’t Mourn For The GOP Of Old.

In the age of Trump, some long for the GOP of old. True, the party of Lincoln was truly admirable. But that GOP hasn’t existed for a very long time. The GOP of modern history bore little resemblance to the party of Lincoln. Yet some would have you believe that the party of Nixon, Reagan, and Bush was just as caring, just as patriotic and just as principled.

Don’t believe the myth.

Though it is true that the GOP of the 70s, 80s, 90s, and early 2000s was significantly better than the current hot mess, it was no friend of ordinary working people. It was a coalition of corporatists and industrialists. It included war mongers, bigots, anti-unionists, and those who felt it was their duty to interfere with democracies and governments around the globe on behalf of our corporations.

It was the GOP under Eisenhower and the Dulles brothers that overthrew the democratically elected government of Iran when it tried to nationalize Iranian oil, an act that led to a brutal dictatorship and, ultimately, the Islamist revolution. It was the GOP that undermined the Vietnam peace talks to help Nixon’s election chances, an act that resulted in thousands more deaths. It was the GOP that embraced southern racists after the civil rights movement.

In the old GOP, it was Nixon who founded a dirty tricks squad and tried to circumvent our democratic elections by breaking into the Democratic National headquarters. It was Nixon who ordered the overthrow of Chile’s democratically elected president who was replaced by a dictator.

In the old GOP, it was Reagan who fomented distrust in the government, who launched an attack on labor unions, who handed out large tax cuts to the wealthy under his bogus “trickle-down” economic theory, who imposed a range of hidden taxes on the middle class, and who ran up the national debt. It was Reagan who created a shadow government that illegally sold weapons to Iran in order to fund the Central American Contras.

It was George H.W. Bush who continued Reagan’s economic policy and launched a war in the Middle East. And it was George W. Bush who used his brother to corrupt Florida’s election in order to attain office. “W” also ignored warnings of the impending terrorist attack on 9/11 and launched a horrific war in Iraq based on false information.

It was the old GOP that spawned ultra-partisans such as Newt Gingrich, Paul Ryan and Moscow Mitch McConnell – the people who placed party over country and made compromise a dirty word. It is members of the old GOP who, like Mitt Romney, Moscow Mitch, and Elaine Chow, have parked funds in offshore tax havens to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. It was members of the old GOP that showered trillions on the military-industrial complex. And it was the old GOP that has gone to great lengths to suppress and intimidate voters who are unlikely to vote for GOP candidates.

Yes, the GOP of Trump is significantly worse than what preceded it – led by a treasonous conman who has taken corruption, division, lies, and bigotry to new levels. But it was the old GOP that embraced Trumpism and made this horror show possible.