Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due.

In thinking about the many problems that we face as a nation, it has become clear that the vast majority can be traced to policies enacted and supported by the Republican Party, a political party that has evolved from the party of growth and controlled spending (Eisenhower and Nixon) to the party of small government (Reagan and Bush I) to the party spreading global democracy (Bush II and Cheney) to a party intent on undermining our own democracy (Trump).

The GOP has coalesced around white supremacists and religious zealots to claim the title of “Faith and Flag” party. Yet few have any concept of ethics or patriotism. 147 Republican lawmakers assisted in the attempted coup of January 6, 2021, with the intent of helping a wannabe autocrat remain in the White House. Indeed, the party’s love affair for autocrats and kleptocrats has been made clear by its many connections to Putin’s Russia (see the Muller Report) and its invitation to Viktor Oban as the keynote speaker of CPAC.

Moreover, the party’s thirst for power and its desire to court the favor of billionaires and multinational corporations seem to be the cause of many of our nation’s most enduring problems.

Wealth inequity? By any measure the growing disparity between the ultra-rich and most working Americans has been caused by the GOP’s longtime commitment to Trickle-Down economics. Rather than money trickling down to the working class, it has created a gusher of wealth flowing upward to the wealthy and large corporations.

Gun deaths and mass shootings? They’re a direct result of the gun lobby’s influence on the GOP and a fraudulent interpretation of the Second Amendment. Because of liberal gun laws, we now have more guns in this country than people. And the number grows by a million or two every year. Moreover, a growing number of crimes involve the use of unregistered ghost guns – many with inexpensive “Glock switches” that convert semiautomatics into fully automatics. But any attempt to restrict such lethal weapons is met with GOP obstruction.

Violence against people of color, ethnic groups, and LGBTQ people? Many GOP candidates have successfully campaigned with ads and rhetoric demonizing these communities and unfairly blaming them for our societal failings. And since words have consequences, hate crimes continue to rise.

Misogyny? The GOP and its evangelical supporters have long tried to relegate women to a secondary social status. And now the GOP majority Supreme Court has gotten into the act. By overturning Roe v Wade, it has put the economic, mental, and physical wellbeing of women at risk.

Climate crisis? The GOP and its oily supporters have long denied that humans have contributed to climate change through our addiction to fossil fuels. For decades, they sponsored fraudulent climate studies to support their denial. And though we are now suffering through the resulting consequences, the GOP is still fighting any attempts to address the problem. It is now almost inevitable that, in our lifetimes, we will see a massive rise in sea levels and the extinction of more than a million species – maybe our own.

Inflation? Though the GOP has blamed rising prices on an overheated economy, rising labor costs, and attempts to mitigate the climate crisis, in reality, inflation has been caused by corporate greed and supply chain issues following the GOP’s failed response to the pandemic.

Corporate consolidation and the export of jobs? The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy reports that GOP policies have actually rewarded multinational corporations for sending jobs overseas. Other GOP policies such as “repatriating” offshore profits at bargain tax rates have led to corporate stock buybacks that reward shareholders, instead of creating jobs. They have also encouraged consolidation by creating incentives for corporations to buy out competitors rather than to compete with them.

Border invasion? There are many causes for the wave of asylum-seekers, refugees, and immigrants at our southern border. So-called Democratic “open border” policies are not among them. The “invasion” has overlapped both Democratic and Republican administrations. Not even the fence and the GOP cruelty of separating children from parents could stop it. And despite repeated calls for a comprehensive immigration policy, the GOP has blocked it.

Failing education? In public education funding, the GOP sees a large pool of taxpayer funds that could be used to create profits. That’s why it is so determined to direct those funds to charter schools and private schools that are not subject to the same fiscal transparency as public schools. It also sees a well-educated public as a threat to its own survival – hence its current attempts to ban books along with those who would dare to teach an accurate account of slavery and genocide as part of American history.

Inequities in IRS audits? In its long-standing efforts to starve the federal government of revenue, the GOP has made draconian cuts to IRS funding and staff. As a result, the IRS does not have the resources to ensure that large corporations and the wealthy are paying their fair share of taxes. So, it has focused attention on ordinary citizens who don’t have the benefit of high-priced tax accountants and tax lawyers.

Political division? For the cause of our conflicts look no further than the GOP and its propaganda outlets. Fox News pundits, rightwing radio hosts, social media, websites, and online podcasts all spew a steady stream of hate, misinformation and outright lies. All of this means that Americans no longer share the same set of “facts.” As evidenced by the former president and George Santos, it’s increasingly rare when the truth escapes a GOP mouth.

We Cannot Live Alone.

Our lives are made possible by a delicate ecosystem. We rely on our forests and plants to create oxygen. We rely on bees and other creatures to pollinate the plants that produce our food. We rely on coral reefs to sustain our fish. On birds and bats to control insects. On wolves and other predators to control rodents. On glaciers to provide much of the water we drink.

We like to think of ourselves as stewards of the planet’s ecosystem. But instead, we are its greatest threat.

There are now more than 8 billion humans on planet Earth, all of which demand water, food, housing, and energy. More and more, they also demand a life of convenience, travel and recreation. One in which the niceties require resources. But after a single use, many of the products we use become disposable. As a result, we are rapidly destroying our oceans, our rainforests, and the air we breathe.

Obviously, this places our entire population at risk.

Scientists tell us that our lifestyle and our reliance on fossil fuels are heating the atmosphere. That they’re melting our glaciers at an astonishing rate. That they’re causing extreme wildfires and increasingly damaging storms. And that they will result in the extinction of more than a million species in the coming decades. The very species on which we rely to sustain life.

Yet our politicians, corporations, some religions, and many of our neighbors are in denial of the obvious dangers. They have placed political power over science. Short-term profits over the future. Ignorance and fantasy over reality.

This simply cannot continue. Scientists and activists have created a Climate Clock to show us the time to act is quickly running out. We can prevent the coming catastrophe if we treat climate change as the crisis it is. But once the ecosystem has been destroyed, we will not be able to fix it. And, contrary to the beliefs of some, we are unlikely to find planet B. Even if we could, we would not be able to transport more than a tiny fraction of our population to it. Moreover, we’d quickly destroy that planet, too. Better that we take care of the one we have.

God’s Will?

In the ongoing abortion debate, those who oppose the procedure justify their opposition by saying that a pregnancy is God’s will, even if that pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. They even claim that if the pregnancy endangers the woman’s life, that, too, is God’s will.

Really?

This philosophy presupposes that God is the ultimate micromanager. That everything that happens on Earth (or in the cosmos for that matter) is dictated by a supreme being who is constantly watching over us. So, if someone miraculously survives a calamity, that’s God’s will. But aren’t such calamities and the deaths of all those who don’t survive them also God’s will?

At the risk of being dismissed as an atheist, I have a few more questions:

If God is to receive credit for all the good that happens in the world, shouldn’t He/She also receive credit for everything bad that happens? Why don’t the football players who point to the sky after scoring a touchdown also point to the sky after they fumble, miss a tackle, or involuntarily drop a pass? Do the player’s innate talents, character, determination, and training have no part in their successes and failures?

In the case of abortion, how can those of faith deny a medical procedure to a woman facing an unwanted pregnancy – even if it endangers her life, or contributes to the pain of having been raped, or leaves her facing poverty? Who are they to make such a life-changing decision for another human being? Moreover, isn’t it hypocritical to then support medical intervention for other issues? Aren’t broken bones, burns, lacerations, infections, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer also God’s will?

Likewise, if you are willing to deny plan B pills or abortion pills to a pregnant woman, shouldn’t you also wish to deprive others of the prescription medications they need for other medical conditions? Shouldn’t the patients who seek such medications, and the doctors who provide them, also face rejection and possible imprisonment?

After all, why would any mere mortal choose to intervene with God’s will? (Sarcasm very much intended.)

The GOP And Traditional Churches Have Suffered The Same Fate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fox News Has Gone Full Goebbels.

During a recent Laura Ingraham show in which she questioned Mike Pompeo about his interview with the Jan 6 committee, a headline appeared at the bottom of the screen reading “Dems prop up phony democracies abroad, shred ours.” In other words, the radical conservatives are angry that we are supporting Ukraine and investigating the January 6th insurrection.

And the Ingraham show is not even the worst thing on Fox. Tucker Carlson, the multi-millionaire heir to the Swanson Foods fortune, takes partisanship to a new level in his show by blatantly promoting autocrats and white supremacists, by excusing Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, and by fawning over our deposed president and crime boss, Donald J. Trump.

Despite Fox calling its content “news”, it has long been little more than a propaganda network for Republicans and Libertarians. Its schedule is packed full of hate, fearmongering, and falsehoods. So much so that it is increasingly difficult to distinguish it from the pre-World War II work of Joseph Goebbels. (Goebbels, of course, was famously known as the chief propagandist who helped Adolf Hitler rise to power.) In fact, it could seriously be argued that many of the Fox hosts, Newsmax, and other MAGA propagandists are more extreme.

This pattern of radical anti-Democratic (and anti-democratic) rhetoric has been going on since the end of the Fairness Doctrine in the late eighties. A number of TV, radio and podcast hosts (Sean Hannity, Alex Jones, Mark Levin, et al) are deeply involved in Trump’s seditious conspiracy. And their rhetoric is getting worse.

It is abundantly clear that such propaganda is the primary reason for our nation’s divisions. As Trump and his MAGA followers have labeled the legitimate press as “enemies of the people” for reporting the truth, Fox and the other propaganda outlets have promised to tell you the real story. And what a story it is – full of partisan distortions and lies which blame immigrants, the LGBTQ community, and people of color for many of our nation’s problems.

They portray immigrants as criminals and “illegals.” They raise fears that same-sex marriage will somehow undermine the marriages of heterosexuals. They portray people of color as “lazy thugs” who have destroyed the rule of law in our cities. Like Trump, they describe our nation as a democracy in decay with carnage in our streets.

Yet, in truth, it is the Trump supporters – the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, white supremacists, and violent militias – who have taken to the streets with guns and body armor. It is these MAGAts who tried to bully governors, legislators, and judges from instituting policies to mitigate the pandemic. It is the MAGATs who invaded our Capitol to threaten Congress with the apparent intent to murder individuals and overthrow an election. And it is their NRA’s greed that has made Americans feel unsafe in theaters, in shopping centers, in churches, at concerts, even at schools.

There are other striking similarities between the Republican MAGAts and Nazis. They both intended to seize power based on bullying and armed insurrection. And they both aimed their hatred at minorities.

And even though the insurrection of January 6th was stopped, the Republican Party’s attempts to destroy our democracy continue. The propagandists are unbowed, and their falsehoods are unabated. Moreover, recognizing that knowledge is a threat and a counter to propaganda, the GOP continues its attacks on education and the educated. For decades, the GOP has dismissed and ridiculed expertise. It has dismissed economists who proclaimed trickle-down economics an abject failure. It has ignored the negative impact of tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. And it has ridiculed the vast majority of the world’s scientists who warned about the devastating impacts of climate change.

Republicans have undermined public schools by slashing their budgets and channeling tax dollars into private schools through vouchers. They have threatened teachers for schooling their students in our nation’s history of slavery and the genocide of natives. They have sought to marginalize LGBTQ students. And their push for private schools allows conservatives to prioritize Christianity in classrooms over science.

Republicans have also exposed the flaws of mainstream television networks. By trying to appear nonpartisan, the networks too often offer airtime to Republicans intent on spreading falsehoods and hatred. Moreover, by presenting news in soundbites without context, the networks offer a distorted and incomplete version of the truth which makes it more difficult to counter the Republican narrative.

Of course, social media plays a part in the conservatives’ attack on democracy by creating information (more accurately, disinformation) silos where many people go for their news. It is in those silos, hidden from the public eye, where extremists, seditionists, and insurrectionists can go to reinforce their twisted ideas and plot their attacks on civil society. And despite the claims of those who profit from social media, little has been done to enforce decorum on their sites and to block disinformation.

Unfortunately, there is little government can do to counter all of this. Certainly, it can prosecute crimes as they happen. And we can vote out those who would destroy public education. But given our constitutional rights to free speech and a free press, we can’t stop the propaganda. We can only make a real effort to inform ourselves and seek the truth. Let’s hope that’s enough.

The Plan To Destroy Democracy.

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

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

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

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

Climate Change: The Future May Be Far Worse Than You Think.

Today, Americans are facing a number of very real threats to our way of life. We are understandably transfixed by the very real threat to our democracy posed by Trump and his followers, by the theocrats who have taken hold of the court we once believed Supreme, by the still-ongoing pandemic, by the corporate price-gouging which has led to global inflation. But the greatest threat of all seems to have fallen off our radar: Climate change, the human-caused crisis that threatens to destroy our planet.

Having been homebound for much of the pandemic, most Americans have returned to their self-serving, planet-destroying ways.

They are taking long-delayed road trips, climbing aboard aircraft, and fueling-up their many motorized toys all the while bitching about the worldwide rise in gas prices. For many, the changing climate is an issue only future generations will face. For others, it’s little more than an inconvenience that has closed national parks due to flooding or forced them to detour around out-of-control wildfires.

Recent studies have found that only 35 percent of Americans believe they will be directly affected by climate change. And nearly half believe the threat is exaggerated despite warnings that, without an immediate and comprehensive change to our lifestyle, the destruction of our planet as we know it is all but assured.

According to a consensus of the world’s leading scientists, the current increase in devastating wildfires, extreme droughts, hurricanes, tornados, straight-line winds, and large hail are but a mere prelude of what’s to come.

They tell us that, if the climate crisis is not immediately addressed, we will see further thawing of the permafrost which will quickly accelerate the heating of our planet. That will, in turn, lead to a dramatic rise in sea levels making many of the world’s largest cities uninhabitable. Combined with drought-caused crop failures and famine, that will lead to mass migrations. And that’s just the predicted impact on the portion of our planet that is covered by dry land. The rise in global temperatures is having an even greater impact on the oceans that cover more than 70 percent of our planet’s surface. As the oceans warm, coral reefs are bleaching and dying – reefs that support the main source of food for 3.5 billion of the world’s population!

Still not worried? Then maybe you should consider that a United Nations’ review by about 15,000 scientific and government sources from 50 countries warns that, without fundamental change, up to one million species are at risk of becoming extinct within a few decades. Given that our planet is governed by an ecosystem with each species relying on others for sustenance, inevitably that means our own species is vulnerable to extinction.

But don’t take my word for it. Or even that of scientists. Here are the actual numbers:

Change In CO2 Levels
Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, human activities have increased atmospheric concentrations of CO2 by about 50 percent. From 1750 to 2010, CO2 levels increased from 280 to 388.44 parts per million. By the end of 2015, CO2 levels were 402.44 parts per million. (400 ppm had long been considered the tipping point and, until the late 1940s, it had never exceeded 300 ppm for more than 650,000 years.) At the end of 2019, CO2 levels were 412.71 ppm. At the end of 2021, CO2 levels were 417.44 ppm. As of June 2022, the current level of CO2 stands at 421.94 ppm and rising.

Change In Temperatures
Recent global temperatures are the hottest in more than 2,000 years. 2015 was the first year that global temperatures were 1 degree Celsius or more above the temperatures at start of the Industrial Revolution. Since 1910, the average global temperature has risen 1.28 degrees Celsius.

Change In Ice Sheets
Antarctic ice sheets have melted at the rate of 152 billion metric tons per year since 2002. And the Greenland ice sheets are disappearing even more rapidly, having lost 274 billion metric tons per year since 2002. Additionally, Arctic sea ice is declining at the rate of 13 percent per decade.

Changes In Oceans
From 1900 to 2019 sea levels have risen more than 200 mm (7.87 inches) – 3.97 inches just since 1993. In addition, ocean temperatures have climbed dramatically since record-keeping began in 1955. 2021 was the oceans’ warmest recorded year and saw the highest global sea level.

“What can I do?” you may ask. “I’m only one person. Why do I have to change my lifestyle? What about the people of China? What about India?” The answer to those questions is simple. Change has to start somewhere, and it needs to start now! It’s a global crisis. We all share this planet. Each of us can make an impact, no matter how large or small. And since Americans have done more than our share to cause the problem, we should do more than our share to help solve it.

To learn more, visit NASA’s Climate Change website. Or, to follow the destruction of our planet in real time, check out the Climate Clock.

What Happens When Those Unwanted Fetuses Become Unwanted Children?

As the theocrats and pro-birthers are celebrating the court decision to overturn Roe v Wade, I can’t help but focus on the consequences of that decision. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are approximately 630,000 abortions in the United States each year. Many are for medical reasons to save the life of the woman. Many are because the fetus was not viable and could not live if brought to term. Presumably, the rest could have become living, breathing children. Children who, for a variety of reasons, were unwanted by the women who conceived them.

What if all of those fetuses were born? Certainly, though an economic and emotional burden to their mothers, some would be cared for and loved. Some would be given up for adoption to loving families. But more than you can imagine will live in poverty or worse – many victimized, abused, or abandoned. And tens of thousands would be placed in foster care, a system that is already overwhelmed and underfunded. (The foster system currently contributes, on average, less than 50 percent of what it costs a family to raise a foster child.)

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, there were 407,000 children in the foster care system at the end of 2020. These kids face a daunting future. Many blame themselves for having been removed from their birth parents. Many want to return to their birth parents, even if those parents have abused them. Some are similarly abused by their foster parents.

Many foster kids feel lost and helpless. Those who are waiting for adoption feel unwanted. Many are shuttled from one foster family to another. Most feel insecure and uncertain about their futures, as well they should. That’s because, each year, 23,000 of foster kids age out of the system without finding permanent families. Approximately 45 percent of those kids will become homeless within a year. A significant percentage will end up jobless and on public assistance. And at least a quarter of them face a disproportionate risk of becoming incarcerated within two years of leaving foster care. In fact, nearly 20 percent of our prison population spent time in the foster care system.

Not surprisingly, the children of color who will be born as a result of the “Supreme” Court’s forced birth decision will face more challenges than whites. According to the Juvenile Law Center, “Black children are around twice as likely to be placed in foster care as white kids. Because black kids are already subject to disproportionate rates of school discipline and criminalization, being a foster youth compounds this risk. Foster youth, particularly girls, are targeted by sex traffickers, and the criminalization of sex work can funnel these victims of modern-day slavery into the criminal justice system.”

So, when all of you pro-birthers are done celebrating, get ready to open your homes and your bank accounts. Thanks to your efforts to overturn Roe v Wade, there are going to be a hell of a lot of kids who will be counting on you.

We Have Entered The Realm Of Theocracy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Inevitable Outcome Of The Deep State Conspiracy Theory.

As Donald J. Trump began his campaign for the presidency, we began to hear about something called the Deep State. He and his followers claimed that a clandestine network of unelected officials was in control of the US government. The Deep State, as the theory goes, is a shadow government acting on behalf of Democrats and the coastal elites against the interests of ordinary Americans.

The obvious irony is that Trump and his closest friends are, themselves, coastal elites.

Once elected, Trump used the theory to explain away his corruption and his failures. The problems weren’t his fault. His agenda was being undermined by the Deep State!

Yet even though Trump and his henchmen are no longer in office, the theory persists. Whenever a government agency debunks a GOP lie, whenever a federal court rules against Trump and the GOP, whenever a talking point of Fox News and the rest of the GOP propagandists is proven false, their most ardent followers simply refuse to accept the outcome.

They cry cover-up. They argue that the system is irreversibly rigged. They are convinced that every competing fact, every datapoint, every adverse ruling is the result of lies perpetuated by the Deep State. They can’t grasp the reality that, aside from elected officials, our government is still run by hard-working, well-intentioned, and often underpaid civil servants. It’s more enticing to believe in conspiracy theories.

Instead of believing that most Democrats are honest, caring people who have genuine differences in policy matters – whose solutions to issues are worth consideration and debate – it’s more exciting for conspiracy theorists to believe they are cunning and evil. That they are pedophiles, cannibals and satanists who, working in concert with A-list celebrities, operate child sex-trafficking rings.

Instead of accepting that our elections results are reliable. They would rather believe that their candidates lost only as a result of fraudulent and illegal votes. Their excuses are many. And all of them are equally preposterous: Thousands of undocumented immigrants voted. Dead people voted. Democrats hauled fraudulent ballots into the polling places by the boxload. China replaced legal ballots with fraudulent ones. Iran and Venezuela hacked the electronic voting machines.

Instead of believing that scientists created safe, effective vaccines to combat Covid, the conspiracy theorists believe social media posts that claim the vaccines are part of a Deep State plot. That they are a form of mind control. That they will make you sterile. That they will turn you into a magnet. That they will give your children autism and make your testicles swell to the size of basketballs.

In previous decades, all of this would have been rejected as absurd and somewhat hilarious theater. But the Deep State conspiracy theory is a very real and ongoing threat.

When a substantial percentage of Americans, including a majority of Republicans, no longer believe in our government of the people, by the people and for the people. When they no longer believe in science, in evidence, in expertise, in truth. When they no longer believe in fair and free elections. When they are no longer willing to compromise, the only winners will be autocrats, theocrats, and our nation’s foreign enemies.