If The Pandemic Was A War, It Would Be The 3rd Most Deadly In US History.

As of today, Covid-19 has claimed the lives of more than 200,000 Americans. To put that number into perspective, it exceeds the number of deaths of any other nation on Earth. It’s nearly 70 times the number who died as a result of the terrorist attacks on 9/11 (2,977). It’s nearly 4 times the number of Americans who died during the Vietnam War (58,209). It’s double the number of Americans (116,516) who died in WWI. It’s nearly equal to the number of Americans who died during combat in the Civil War (214,938). And it’s nearly half the number of Americans who died in WWII (405,399).

Lest you think that the disease only affects the elderly – that you are somehow immune to it – think again. Thus far, Covid-19 has claimed the lives of more than 1,000 health care providers. And, so far this year, more police officers have died from Covid-19 than from violence. The victims have ranged in age from infants to the elderly and every age in between.

Moreover, all of these deaths from Covid-19 have occurred in just 7 months. And most scientists predict that, with the onset of Autumn and Winter, the number of deaths will almost certainly accelerate even if a vaccine is made available before the end of the year. That’s because the vaccine will likely require two doses and it will take many months to deliver them beginning with those most at risk. And a large percentage of Americans say they will refuse to take the vaccine.

Adding to the problem is that Trump has not only failed to effectively respond to the pandemic. He has politicized mitigation of the virus. He refuses to encourage Americans to wear masks – the one thing that has been proven to reduce infections. As a result, Trump’s followers refuse to wear masks. They have even violently attacked those who have asked them to put on a mask before entering their businesses.

Just the other day, two unmasked Trump followers were refused entry to a restaurant in my former hometown. Rather than put on masks, they later returned to the establishment and pepper-sprayed the entire outdoor seating area requiring several customers to seek medical attention.

That should come as no surprise, since Trump has implied that the coronavirus is a Democrat hoax – that Democrats are either misreporting the deaths or, in fact, causing them. He has not only divided the nation. He has incited violence among his heavily armed and racist followers who have acted against peaceful protestors and against governors who have mandated the wearing of masks in public places.

So, thanks to the knuckle draggers who support the most corrupt, most cruel, and most incompetent president in our nation’s history, the deaths will continue to rise.

Will The US Become The Next Belarus?

With the US presidential election approaching, US citizens should see the events in Belarus as a warning. As you may know, though the incumbent Alexander Lukashenko claimed to be re-elected with 80 percent of the vote. International observers have declared that the election was neither fair nor free. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Belarussians have continued to march and demonstrate. More worryingly, one of the leading members of the opposition candidate’s campaign has been abducted by masked men and 3 others have vanished.

Think that couldn’t happen in the US? Think again.

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe has raised concerns about the integrity of the upcoming election. Other international observers have also voiced concerns. Why? Maybe it’s because the GOP has disenfranchised many voters by demanding often difficult to obtain voter IDs. Maybe it’s because Republican-controlled states have closed voting locations and reduced voting hours in Democrat-leaning areas. Maybe it’s because GOP-controlled states have gerrymandered congressional districts to make it virtually impossible for Democrats to win. Maybe it’s because the average waiting time to vote is 51 minutes for minorities and only 6 minutes for whites. Maybe it’s because GOP-controlled states have purged tens of thousands of registered voters.

Maybe it’s because the wannabe dictator incumbent has tried to discredit and undermine vote-by-mail and installed loyalists to the governing board of the US Postal Service with the express purpose of delaying the mail. Maybe it’s because he continues to tell his heavily armed and conspiracy loving supporters that he can only lose if the election is rigged against him!

Or maybe it’s because the incumbent was put in office as a result of election interference by our nation’s greatest rival and, in fact, has solicited foreign interference yet again.

Moreover, increasingly it appears that Trump and his supporters will only accept a Biden win if the vote is overwhelmingly against him. Anything less and Trump is likely to claim the vote is rigged and refuse to accept the results. After all, he already has claimed that Hillary Clinton’s nearly 3 million margin in the popular vote was only due to voting by undocumented immigrants and Democratic cheating.

So, it’s highly unlikely that Trump will bow out gracefully. He’s far more likely to refuse to leave the White House and to call for his armed supporters to rise up in his defense. We’ve already seen his supporters attack peaceful Black Lives Matters protestors. We’ve seen anonymous federal forces under his direction abduct protestors. And we’ve seen him order a peaceful demonstration cleared with force so he could have a photo-op with him holding a Bible backwards in front of a church he doesn’t attend.

Vote! Vote like our democracy depends on it. Because it does.

America: From The Age Of Enlightenment To The Age Of Lunacy.

In a 2017 radio interview, the late comedian and “King of Fake News” Paul Horner described how he earned the title. He explained that he was looking for a way to reach more people with his comedy through satirical posts on Facebook. He quickly learned that Democrats, liberals, and progressives immediately recognized the satire or fact-checked his posts. As a result, he received few clicks and, therefore, little money from them. On the other hand, he found that a significant percentage of Republicans and conservatives embraced his posts believing them to be factual and quickly shared them with friends.

So, it’s not entirely surprising that an individual peddling bizarre conspiracy theories could gain traction on social media. Such is the case with Q, the anonymous poster who claims to expose deep state secrets from within the government.

Q began with an October 2017 post on the white supremacist website 4chan which stated: “HRC [Hillary Rodham Clinton] extradition already in motion effective yesterday with several countries in case of cross border run. Passport approved to be flagged effective 10/30 @ 12:01am. Expect massive riots organized in defiance and others fleeing the US to occur. US M’s [Military] will conduct the operation while NG [National Guard] activated. Proof check: Locate a NG member and ask if activated for duty 10/30 across most major cities.”

Of course, Q’s prediction did not come true. In fact, few, if any, have. Nevertheless, Q quickly gained a following of millions and continues to “drop” information from within the “deep state.” Moreover, Q has convinced followers to believe that Donald Trump is a “Messiah” who has been chosen to quietly lead a revolution against the deep state. They are told that they must protect Trump at all costs. Even more bizarrely, the QAnon cult has come to believe that Trump will expose and imprison those involved a secret worldwide child sex trafficking ring run by a satanic cabal consisting of leaders of the Democratic Party, A-list celebrities, and Pope Francis.

They actually believe that, in addition to their sexual lust, members of the cabal kill children in order to harvest and consume their blood for its life-extending properties. In other words, Q followers are completely and hopelessly delusional.

That doesn’t mean that they aren’t dangerous.

In 2018, an armed Q follower drove an armored vehicle onto a bridge spanning the Hoover Dam and blocked traffic. He demanded that the government “release the OIG [Office of the Inspector General] report,” a report that Q claims will expose the deep state. In 2019, another Q follower murdered a leader of the Gambino crime family believing him to be an enemy of Trump. And earlier this year, a Q follower was arrested for threatening to kill Joe Biden.

These nutcases are encouraged by Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones and other conspiracy theorists. And the cult recently gained traction when six unabashed QAnon followers ran for national office as Republicans. Even more worrisome, at least three of them won their Republican primaries!

Some of the most notable targets of Q followers are the Clintons, President Obama, Bill Gates, Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Robert Mueller, George Soros, Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah Winfrey, Justin Trudeau, Senator Scott Wiener, John Legend & Chrissy Teigen, the Gates Foundation, the Clinton Foundation, the United Nations, the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, Wayfair, and Disney.

QAnon followers have been led to believe that they are victims of chemtrails and vaccines. They think the world is controlled by the Bilderbergs, the Illuminati, the Freemasons, and the mainstream media. They are convinced that artificial intelligence (AI) and 5G cell towers are designed to kill them. They believe that ordering an armoire from Wayfair is code for “send me a child to abuse.” And, despite the debunking of pizzagate, they still believe that Comet Ping Pong, a popular Washington DC pizzeria, is a cover for the trafficking of children. In case you’ve forgotten, in 2016 a young father from North Carolina who had been convinced that Hillary Clinton was operating a child sex ring out of the pizzeria’s basement burst into the restaurant with an AR15 demanding to be shown to the pizzeria’s basement. After scaring the bejeezus out of the restaurant’s patrons, he discovered the pizzeria had no basement and he was arrested by police.

Of course, none of these fantasies should come as a surprise when you consider that QAnon followers see Trump as a savior and great president.

A Few Questions For Republicans.

1. You have witnessed the decay of the middle class and the growing inequality of wealth. Do you not understand that it’s the inevitable result of Reaganomics and the continuing tax cuts for the very wealthy?
2. You have seen Congress and state legislatures blatantly ignore the will of the people on numerous issues. Do you not see that it is the result of lobbyists for billionaire businessmen and multinational corporations? Do you not realize that GOP lobbyists and corporate-sponsored organizations such as the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) write many of the bills that reach the floor of Congress and legislatures for votes?
3. I am sure you are aware of widespread voter suppression tactics waged against Democrats and minorities. Do you not understand that such tactics are blatantly undemocratic? And that your party is alienating minority voters for generations?
4. You have heard reports from all of our intelligence agencies that document Russian meddling in our elections. In fact, the Mueller investigation offered a mountain of evidence of cooperation between Russians and the Trump campaign. Similarly, you have seen Trump impeached for withholding funds from Ukraine in exchange for opening a bogus investigation into Hunter and Joe Biden. You likely also witnessed him openly ask China to interfere in the upcoming election on his behalf. Do you not worry that, in addition to being blatantly unconstitutional, such interference permanently weakens our nation?
5. You have cheered Donald Trump’s attacks on many of our most important democratic institutions – the free press, the Department of Justice, federal prosecutors, the FBI, the CIA and other intelligence agencies, the courts, and inspector generals. Do you not see that such attacks are, in fact, attacks on the rule of law and our nation?
6. You have applauded the Trump administration’s cruelty toward immigrants and refugees, including its separation of children from their parents. How can you continue to celebrate our nation’s history of immigration – “Give me your tired, your poor, your wretched masses yearning to breathe free?” Do you not realize that without these immigrants – even the undocumented immigrants – we would not have nearly enough “essential” workers to pick our produce, to process our meats, to cook our food, to serve the infirm, and to clean our buildings?
7. You claim to be “pro-life.” Yet you ignore the homeless and the hungry. And you continue to dismiss the deaths of 168,000 Americans in your rush to get back to “normal.” Do you not hear your own hypocrisy?
8. You continue to brag about American exceptionalism and claim that our healthcare system is the best on Earth. Then how do you rationalize the fact that the pandemic has disproportionately impacted Americans? And that more than 900 of our healthcare professionals have died as a result of a lack of proper protective equipment? How can you justify Trump’s attempts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act during the pandemic which will deny healthcare to millions more Americans?
9. You claim to admire our nation’s military. Do you not understand how little regard your president has for veterans? Did you not hear him deny that Sen. John McCain was a war hero? Did you not hear him say that avoiding STDs was his personal Vietnam? Did you not hear his vile insults aimed at a Gold Star family? Do you not realize that, in order to build his great wall on the border with Mexico, he redirected essential funding from military personnel and their families? Have you not heard him demean our nation’s military leaders by saying he knows more than our top military generals? Have you not seen that he delayed essential relief funding to the Navajo – the Native American nation that helped win WWII as “Code Talkers?”
10. You boast of America’s natural beauty “from sea to shining sea.” Do you not realize that the Trump administration has compromised that beauty by auctioning off mining and drilling leases on environmentally sensitive lands? Do you not know that the administration plans to reopen uranium mining in the Grand Canyon that will, once again, make the Colorado River radioactive? Do you not see that the administration’s actions are polluting our air, our soil, and our water? Do you have no concern for the hundreds of thousands of wildlife species that are made vulnerable as a result? Do you not worry that your party continues to deny climate change despite the multitude of evidence that it endangers the planet?
11. You now label many of your party’s former leaders – George W. Bush, Colin Powell, Jim Mattis, Michael Steele, Tom Ridge, Steve Schmidt, Rick Wilson, George Will, John Weaver, George Conway, the McCain family, Nicolle Wallace, Jennifer Horn, and many, many others as RINOs and Never Trumpers. Have you not considered why those leaders call for the defeat of Donald Trump? Do you seriously believe they have abandoned conservative ideals to become “libtards?” Or have they simply recognized that Trump is a real and present danger to our nation?
12. Many in the corrupt Trump administration and Trump’s GOP – Steve Mnuchin, Jeff Sessions, Ryan Zinke, Tom Price, Ben Carson, Wilbur Ross, Scott Pruitt, and Trump, himself – have been caught squandering taxpayer money to enrich themselves and their friends. Do you still believe that Trump will drain the swamp and hire “only the best people?” Or is Trump himself the real swamp monster?
13. You condemn a Democrat-controlled House for seeking testimony from cabinet officials and for attempting to conduct oversight of this administration. Will you have the same reaction when the roles are reversed? Or do you truly believe that a president – any president – is above the law? Do you want to tear up our Constitution and destroy our democracy so that we become an autocracy?
14. When you don’t like facts and truths based on irrefutable evidence as reported by news media, you call them “fake news” and refer to them as enemies of the people. You seek only those media that share your political ideology. Where does that end? Is the party’s longtime propaganda arm, Fox News, no longer believable because Chris Wallace dared to fact-check your Mango Mussolini?
15. You call yourself “patriots” for wrapping yourself in the flag with a Bible in one hand and a gun in the other. What kind of patriot supports a fascist regime that seems intent on destroying constitutional norms by refusing congressional oversight and claims the leader is above the law? What kind of patriot condones the funneling of taxpayer money to millionaires and billionaires? What kind of patriot denies people of color social justice, equal opportunity, and economic equity? What kind of patriot believes the most outlandish conspiracy theories and embraces foreign interference on their behalf while viewing a significant majority of Americans as the enemy?

Dear Trump Supporters: What Will It Take?

I understand that you chose to support The Donald because you wanted change. You were angry. You felt the economy was rigged. That you would be left behind. He promised to shake up the government and end business as usual.

He most certainly has done the that.

You’ve continued to support him despite abundant evidence that he colluded with Russian agents to rig the election and obstructed justice. You’ve supported him despite an avalanche of thousands of lies as documented by independent fact-checkers. You ignored his lies about an extramarital affair with a porn star. You’ve given him credit for his predecessor’s work in rescuing and expanding the economy. You’ve continued to support him as he alienated our longstanding allies and weakened NATO. You supported him as he took Putin’s word over that of our own intelligence agencies headed by Trump appointees.

You cried “fake news” at reports of his filling the “swamp” with an astounding menagerie of swamp monsters. You ignored the evidence showing that Trump, his family, and many of his cabinet appointees used their positions to line their bank vaults with taxpayer money. You seem not to care that he dismantled ethics offices and fired inspectors general whose job it is to investigate and expose the corruption. You seemed to take satisfaction in watching him take revenge on whistleblowers. You applauded his stonewalling of congressional oversight and his demands that administration officials ignore subpoenas. You’ve seen him dismiss investigative reporters whose job it is to expose government corruption by calling them “enemies of the people.”

You turned your backs on reports that the administration ordered children to be ripped from the arms of their refugee parents. You claimed not to see videos of those children confined in cages with only a foil blanket. You ignored the obvious racism of his calling Mexicans rapists and murders, of describing Latin and African nations as “shithole countries,” of referring to neo-Nazis and white supremacists as “good people.”

You continued to support him despite all of that. (Maybe because of it?)

You stood by your con man as dozens of former administration and government officials spoke up about his incompetence and his unfitness for office. You ignored the outrage of Republican leaders and strategists who have been repulsed by his actions. You watched as he corrupted the judicial system. You seemed not to care that he continues to hide his income taxes despite legitimate claims of money-laundering and tax evasion.

You cheered when the Senate refused to remove him from office as a result of his impeachment despite overwhelming evidence that he had broken the law by demanding the Ukraine to interfere in the upcoming election in exchange for congressionally-approved financial and military aid.

And what did you do when his incompetence led to the now 140,000 American deaths from the coronavirus? You blamed it on China and claimed his failed response was due to distractions caused by the impeachment. Following his example, you have contributed to the spread of the coronavirus by ignoring the pleas of scientists to practice social distancing and to wear masks. Not even Trump’s attempts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act in the middle of the pandemic has shaken your support. Nor has the addition of roughly $4 trillion to the national debt. And when his failures led to an economic collapse, you gave him a pass, blaming it on the CDC, the WHO, Dr. Fauci, and the media, instead.

Even when it became clear that Trump ignored reports that Russia offered payments to the Taliban for killing US military personnel, you have seemingly refused to blame him or even his buddy Putin.

So, I ask: What will it take for you to finally admit that you made a mistake by voting for a con man who has placed us all in danger? A president who operates more like a mob boss than a principled public servant? A man who is intellectually, ethically, and morally unfit to hold office? A man who has done more to serve Russia than the United States?

We’re All Victims Of Trump Scandal Fatigue.

For many politicians, a single scandal has ended their careers. For Howard Dean it was a single, excited “Yaaay!” after losing the Iowa caucuses to opponent John Kerry. For Gary Hart it was an extramarital affair. For Hilary Clinton it was the use of a private email server as Secretary of State. But those are insignificant to any one of the scandals of Donald J. Trump.

In case you have forgotten them, they began with making racist statements about immigrants, demeaning the parents of a US soldier who died in combat, claiming Senator John McCain was a “loser” for being captured during the Vietnam War, bragging to a TV host that he grabbed women by their genitals, telling a radio host about walking into dressing rooms of his beauty pageants, and mocking a disabled reporter.

As his 2016 presidential campaign continued, we learned that more than a dozen women accused him of rape and sexual assault (including one who had been a teenager at the time). We discovered he had committed fraud with his charities and Trump University. We read that he had likely participated in money laundering by selling hundreds of millions of dollars of real estate to Russian oligarchs – a charge supported by the fact that he refused to make public his tax returns. We learned that Russian spies were interfering on behalf of his campaign and that the FBI and CIA documented dozens of contacts between his campaign and Russian officials. We even heard him ask Russia for help in uncovering the emails of his Democratic opponent.

Following the controversial results of his election, we heard him lie about the size of his inaugural crowd. In a blatant act of nepotism, he rewarded his daughter and son-in-law with White House jobs and classified access. We saw his National Security Advisor be fired and charged with lying to the FBI and secretly lobbying for a foreign government. We learned that he had paid hundreds of thousands to cover up extramarital affairs with a porn star and a Playboy model. And we heard him refuse to condemn the violence of neo-Nazis and members of the alt-right toward the counter protestors in Charlottesville, saying “there are good people on both sides.”

We saw him lie about his son’s pre-election meeting with a Russian agent offering dirt on Hilary. We saw him try to use his office to undermine the investigation of Russian election interference. We heard him call the FBI agents assigned to investigate “rogue” agents. We saw him kowtow to Vladimir Putin and take Putin’s word over that of our own intelligence agencies. And we saw a number of his friends and campaign officials plead guilty to crimes or be convicted in court as a result of the Mueller investigation.

Yet, despite the Mueller Report’s conclusion backed by reams of evidence that the Trump campaign requested and benefited from Russian interference, we hear Trump continue to call the investigation a hoax, say the investigation “exonerated” him, and refer to news reporters as “enemies of the people.”

We watched as Trump ordered his administration to ban entry to Muslims. We heard him threaten the future of DACA recipients – the so-called Dreamers. We saw his administration place thousands of Central American refugees in detention centers without access to toiletries, bedding or even water. We were shocked to learn that he ordered the separation of children, toddlers and infants from their immigrant parents placing them in cages with only an aluminum foil blanket. Yet, despite videos of the separated children and the accounts of reporters, he and his administration denied the obvious.

We’ve seen Trump spend more than 200 days golfing at his own properties resulting in the Trump organization receiving tens of millions in taxpayer money for rooms and golf carts for Secret Service agents. We’ve read reports of lobbyists and foreign officials spending tens of millions in Trump’s Washington, DC hotel in hopes of currying favor with the president. And investigative reporters uncovered corruption by numerous members of his cabinet – the Attorney General, the Treasury Secretary, the head of the EPA, the Labor Secretary, the Interior Secretary and more.

In just the past year, we saw him impeached for demanding the Ukraine announce an investigation of the Bidens in exchange for US financial and military aid. We also saw him ask for Chinese help for his re-election. We learned that he even made that a condition of his trade negotiations with China at the same time stating that he had no problem with China’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang. We learned that, for more than a year, he ignored Russian bounties to the Taliban for killing US soldiers. And we’ve seen 136,000 of our fellow Americans lose their lives as a result of Trump’s inaction and incompetence in dealing with the coronavirus.

Any one of these scandals would have ended the political career of any other politician or government official. So how does Trump survive? I believe it’s simply a matter of the sheer quantity of his scandals. By committing so many unethical, immoral, and illegal acts; by refusing to participate in any investigation; by claiming executive privilege; by firing anyone he considers disloyal; by constantly and blatantly lying; by politicizing everything, he keeps his political opponents, the media, and most of the nation in a constant state of outrage.

There simply isn’t enough time and there are not enough resources to fully investigate all of the scandals. Each real scandal is buried by an avalanche of news reports detailing the next one. And all of them are lost in the daily outrage over his insane statements, his drug dilated pupils, his slurred speech, and his revenge politics. It creates what I call scandal fatigue. So, is it true that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, as he once claimed, and nobody would care?

Maybe. He’s already done worse.

“Mississippi With Snow.”

During television coverage of the recent protests in Minneapolis, the head of the NAACP referred to Minnesota as “Mississippi with snow.” As a proud resident of Minnesota who has long tried to address the racism in our state, that was still difficult to hear. But it is an alarmingly accurate description. Despite the economic success of Minnesota (it’s home to numerous Fortune 500 headquarters) and our widely acclaimed creativity (in music, theater, advertising, graphic arts, culinary arts and more), the primary differences between the two states are that we have a harsher climate, fewer people of color and a different accent.

Once a bastion of Scandinavian-style liberalism and tolerance, Minnesota changed under the leadership of GOP governor Tim Pawlenty. It cut taxes and passed laws that rewarded the wealthiest Minnesotans while punishing the poorest. That punishment was felt most by Minnesotans of color.

In 2008, the population of Minnesota was just 4.6 percent black compared to 12.8 percent for the US as a whole. Similarly, the Latino population in Minnesota was just 4.1 percent versus 15.4 percent for the US. Yet, black people living in Minneapolis (there are precious few outside the Twin Cities) are nearly 6 times more likely to be poor than their white counterparts. A black college graduate in the state, on average, makes less than a white high school dropout.

In 2009, at the height of the Great Recession, the unemployment rate for black Minnesotans was 22.5 percent compared to 15.5 percent for Latinos and just 7.1 percent for whites. Again, in 2010, Minnesota ranked second in the nation for racial disparity in the jobless rate behind only Mississippi. Even in 2018, before the pandemic, when black unemployment was at a record low of 6.8 percent, black unemployment in Minnesota was nearly double the US average.

Nationally, for every $1.00 of income white households receive, Latino households receive 72 cents, and black households earn just 59 cents. For every $1.00 of wealth held by white families, Latino families have 12 cents, and black families have 10 cents! And one-third of black children live in poverty, compared to 12 percent of white children.

Police in Minnesota and elsewhere kill blacks at an alarming rate compared to whites. Each killing leads to mental health issues for most of the black population. And it’s not just police killing black people. Discrimination is literally killing blacks because they are less likely to be able to afford healthcare. (A fact that has been especially apparent with the impact of the pandemic on people of color.)

Moreover, people of color not only suffer from disparities in employment, income, wealth, healthcare, and opportunity. They suffer from disparities in education, policing, and voting.

In Minnesota schools are some of the most segregated in the US. Why? Because Minnesota was an early adopter of charter schools. And Minnesota law exempts charter schools from desegregation. Public schools are also highly segregated with many predominately black schools underfunded, which has resulted in a large achievement gap between blacks and whites.

Minnesota is not alone. The US spends $23 billion more on schools that serve predominately white students versus schools that serve predominately black and Latino students. Blacks, Latinos and Native Americans are expelled from schools at a higher rate than whites for the same transgressions. Too often, that leads to participation in the “justice” system and eventually to incarceration. Once they’re in the system, they find it hard to escape.

Per capita, blacks are 2.8 times more likely to be killed by police than white people. And believe it or not, Native Americans fair even worse. They are 3.1 times more likely to be killed by police than whites. Native Americans make up 0.8 percent of the population. But they experience 1.9 percent of all police killings. Many Native Americans live in poverty with no access to clean water. And many of their children are sent to outdate, mold-infested schools. Moreover, in an age of technology, many Native Americans have none. They not only lack high-speed Internet (a growing requirement for education). Many lack phone service.

And, if you think people of color can create change by voting, think again. A recent study by the Brennan Center for Justice found that black voters stand in lines 45 percent longer than white people. Latinos wait 46 percent longer than whites. And many Native Americans are unable to vote at all because some states require a street address, which most reservations lack. As a result of GOP voter suppression tactics, the situation is getting worse as evidenced in Georgia. Is it any wonder then that there are only 3 US senators who are black?

Now, following the murder of George Floyd, Minnesota has a real opportunity to make systemic change. As it has in many other ways, it can lead the nation. It can create an environment of justice and equal treatment for people of all colors and backgrounds. It can make its immodest slogan “Minnesota Nice” truly mean something.

Reimagining Police.

Since the murder of George Floyd and the ensuing violence, I’ve been struggling to know what to write about policing in America. Despite many encounters with lazy and corrupt Bullies With Badges, my attempts to identify and explain necessary changes have seemed inadequate. Fortunately, a former police officer has described the problems better than I, or most anyone else, could.

I highly recommend you read the linked article entitled “Confessions of a Former Bastard CopConfessions of a Former Bastard Cop.”

If you read it, I believe that you will never view police the same way again. There are far more than a few bad apples in law enforcement. The entire apple tree is decaying from its roots.

We’re All Complicit In George Floyd’s Death.

Let me begin by stating that Minneapolis is a great city. It has been home to world leaders in music, advertising, graphic design, theater, education, medicine and more. In addition, it has been home to principled and forward thinking political leaders such as senators Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale and Al Franken. The city has great dining and entertainment venues, as well as a full range of professional sports. Most of all, it has long been a clean and safe place to live. It has also been known as a place that is charitable and tolerant of others. For those reasons, it has accepted an amazing number of refugees – from Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Liberia, Somalia, Eritrea, Tibet and more.

That has made Minneapolis a particularly vibrant place where the warmth of its citizens more than offsets the sometimes frigid weather.

Unfortunately, the city’s tolerance has extended to corruption and racism. That became clear for all to see with the murder of George Floyd by four Minneapolis police officers. Though I’m not black, I have long been concerned about below-the-surface racism in the city after stumbling across corruption within the city council, the mayor’s office, and, in particular, the Minneapolis Police Department in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.

Police officers felt emboldened to stop people of color for any reason, at any time. They harassed the homeless. And some brutalized black people. From my office window, I personally witnessed six MPD officers cuff a black man, placing him face down in slush and snow. They then took turns kicking him before one finished the assault by emptying a can of mace in his face. I reported the incident, but since I was unable to get names and badge numbers, my report was ignored.

A series of police chiefs tried to clean up the mess that seems to have begun in the 1930s – one famous for his work in the South Bronx. But those chiefs were often blunted by the city’s police union. For example, when an off-duty officer brutally beat a college student in a downtown bar, he was fired. But the officer was returned to duty following arbitration and assigned to the role of department spokesman. Since then, many others have been fired for cause, but returned to duty following arbitration, even receiving back pay!

How on earth can any chief establish and maintain discipline under those circumstances? Though I support labor unions in general, the police union is most responsible for George Floyd’s death. But they are not alone.

The public has failed to demand better. Indeed, many are in denial that racism is a problem. Not here in Minnesota! They have decried racism at the same time they joined the white flight to the suburbs ostensibly in search of better schools, which explains why 65 percent of students in the city’s schools are children of color and 70 percent are living in poverty. Meanwhile, schools in some of the city’s suburbs have larger budgets and facilities that would shame many small colleges.

To be clear, Minneapolis is not an outlier. Racism exists in every city, in every state. Indeed, it has grown as result of President Trump’s actions and words.

Racism will only end when our governments – all of our governments – take it seriously and take steps to end segregation and inequality. More important, all of us need to confront racism whenever and wherever it raises its ugly head. We need to block the Websites which racists use to congregate and plan their hateful acts. We need to hold racist politicians accountable. And we need to make sure that law enforcement officers are charged for their crimes. The Minneapolis Police Department should take the advice of Mayor Frey and immediately arrest the officer who murdered George Floyd along with his three accomplices.

A Warning For Earth Day. And Every Day.

When I did the research for my current book, Truth Over Politics, I was astounded to see how much worse the climate crisis had become since writing my last book in 2016. Despite the brief respite caused by the pandemic, the damage will soon reach a crisis that will endanger us all. Following are but a few of the things we know about the climate crisis:

• 2019 was ranked as the second-hottest year on record, just behind 2016, which had previously replaced 2015 as the hottest year on record.
• 9 of 10 hottest years on record have occurred between 2005 and 2019.
• 2019 was the 43rd consecutive year with global land and ocean temperatures above average.
• The average global temperature in 2019 was 1.71° F (0.95° C) above the 20th century average. (Scientists have warned that an increase of 1° to 2° C over the 20th century average could be a tipping point.)
• In 2019, ocean heat content (the amount of heat stored in the upper levels of the ocean), which can contribute to sea-level rise, was the highest ever recorded.
• Atmospheric carbon dioxide is now 413 parts per million (ppm). (400 ppm has long been considered the climate tipping point and, until the late 1940s, it had never been above 300 ppm for 650,000 years.)
• Arctic sea ice has shrunk about 40 percent since 1979.
• The mass of Antarctic ice sheets has declined at the rate of 145 gigatons per year since 2003.
• The mass of Greenland ice sheets has declined at the rate of 283 gigatons per year.
• The thickness of 30 well-studied glaciers has decreased by more than 60 feet since 1980.
• The sea level has risen by 8-9 inches since 1880. (About one-third of the rise has come in the last 25 years.)
• 33 percent of the world’s coral reefs are threatened by warming oceans. (The reefs are home to more than a quarter of all marine life.)

The consequences of inaction is to invite more floods, more intense storms and hurricanes, more wildfires on the scale of Australia’s, more severe droughts leading to food and water scarcity, more unemployment, and more pandemics.

If all of that isn’t enough to alarm you, consider this: A 2019 report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) warned, “Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history – and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world now likely.” The report went on to state, “The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever.”

IPBES found that around one million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction – many of them within decades. The cause of the threat? Human activities resulting in (1) changes in land and sea use; (2) direct exploitation of organisms; (3) climate change; (4) pollution and (5) invasive alien species.

The sirens are sounding to warn us that we desperately need to change our relationship with the planet and its other inhabitants. And they’re warning us that we need to change now! The question is: Will we listen?