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?

Once Again, The GOP Plays Politics With The Economy And People’s Lives.

Following the breakdown in negotiations over a second pandemic relief bill between the Senate, the House and the White House, many media reported the story as if it was a serious negotiation.

It wasn’t.

The House passed its $3 trillion HEROES Act in May showing that the majority understood the extent of pain being incurred by the public during the pandemic. That bill extended an additional $600 unemployment benefit for those unable to work. It extended the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures for a year. It guaranteed $13 per hour hazard pay for essential workers. It provided $900 billion to states to compensate for lost revenue and increased expenses during the pandemic. And it repealed the $135 billion giveaway to millionaires that was part of the first relief bill.

Unfortunately, the majority leader in GOP-controlled Senate refused to allow the bill to come up for a vote. Instead, Moscow Mitch delayed any discussion of a relief bill until the previous until the benefits of the original CARES Act were about to expire.

Then, operating under a self-imposed deadline, the Senate managed to cobble together a $1 trillion bill that reduced the expanded unemployment benefit to $200 per month and offered no eviction moratorium for renters. It did, however, include items unrelated to the pandemic, such as tax deductions for 3-martini lunches, funds for F-35 fighter jets, and an astonishing $33 million (that’s right, $33 million) for remodeling the West Wing of the White House.

When the Senate stated that its bill was non-negotiable, the House attempted to negotiate with the White House, offering to meet Republicans in the middle with a $2 trillion relief bill. When the White House refused to accept a compromise, the talks broke down and the GOP senators left town!

Rather than a failure of negotiations, I believe the outcome was pre-determined – a political trick. The Senate and the White House never intended to negotiate in good faith. By refusing to compromise, they saw an opportunity to boost the president’s re-election chances by setting him up to “save the day” with yet another unconstitutional executive order that would raise his approval ratings with voters whose support was wavering over his failure to address the pandemic: “See! The Democrats let you down by refusing to accept our offer. But I will help you.”

It’s not unlike the Treasury Department holding up the first round of stimulus checks in order to print Trump’s name on them.

Here’s the thing: Trump’s order and accompanying memos are not only unconstitutional – the responsibility for federal spending lies with Congress – the order relies on states to pay half the cost of the additional unemployment benefit and most states are so struggling financially that they are already considering the probability of lay-offs and cut-backs to essential services. Like the federal government, state governments are receiving less revenue from taxes. But, unlike the federal government, they can’t print more money.

So where do we go from here?

If the White House and Senate refuse to negotiate a new relief bill, House Democrats will be faced, once again, with filing lawsuits to protect the constitutional power of Congress and preventing the Executive branch from further consolidating power. Of course, that will give the false impression that they don’t care about the plight of ordinary working Americans. And, if they fail to negotiate a bill that will provide necessary aid to the unemployed, there is a very real possibility that the nation will fall into an economic depression. More than 50 million Americans have already filed for unemployment benefits during the pandemic. And we have already experienced the greatest drop in GDP in our nation’s history.

If so, the fault will not lie with Democrats. It will have been caused by a Republican president who called the pandemic a hoax, who botched the response by abdicating all responsibility to governors, who has tried to create a race war to distract from his failures, and who continues to claim that that the pandemic will just miraculously disappear.

The Many Dilemmas That Will Face A Biden Administration.

Should former VP Joe Biden defeat Donald Trump, he will likely inherit a nation so damaged that its very future is at risk. The problems are extensive both in their breadth and depth. Let’s look at them individually:

The pandemic – Even if, as some claim, there will be an effective vaccine for Covid-19 before the inauguration, there are legitimate questions of its availability. Will it be available in sufficient quantities for all Americans? Will it be affordable? Will it reach all American communities, including undocumented immigrants? How effective will it be? Will it effectively block infections for a year? Or for longer?

The economy – The pandemic has caused unemployment to skyrocket. As of this writing, more than 50 million Americans are unemployed. How many of those lost jobs will not come back? Many industries had already been replacing workers with automation before the pandemic. Will they use the relief funds provided by Congress to accelerate automation?

Already, there are plans for self-driving trucks to haul cargo between Phoenix and Tucson beginning in 2021. How quickly will the use of self-driving vehicles expand? Before the pandemic there were approximately 10 million professional drivers in the US. Likely, all of those jobs will be at risk. And that’s only the beginning. Within the next few years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will replace legal aids and paralegals in law offices, film and video editors in Hollywood, medical workers, clerical workers, retail workers…virtually no industry will be unscathed.

Automation aside, the pandemic and worldwide disgust toward the Trump administration has devastated travel and tourism, as well as restaurants and other aspects of the hospitality industry. Will they quickly return to pre-pandemic levels? Or have those industries forever been changed?

The food chain – The pandemic exposed the weaknesses in the food industry as never before. Most of our food comes from a very few, large growers and suppliers, shipped by increasingly fewer transportation companies, and distributed by ever-fewer distribution companies. The Covid-19 outbreaks among those who pick our vegetables and process our meat also exposed the industry’s reliance on lowly paid immigrants and undocumented who are called “essential.” But are more accurately described as “expendable.”

Many of our restaurants and food services also rely on recent immigrants to prepare and serve our food. Given the Trump administration’s attack on all immigrants of color, what will be the future of the food industry once it begins to return to some form of normalcy. Will independently owned restaurants find enough workers? Will they be able to afford them?

The same questions apply to the many other industries – hospitality, senior care, etc. – that rely on recent immigrants.

Healthcare – Approximately 50 million American citizens do not have access to healthcare. And that number continues to increase as more Americans have lose their employer-provided insurance when they lose their jobs. Additionally, the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is in real jeopardy as the result of the Trump administration’s challenges to its constitutionality. What if the Supreme Court sides with the administration? With no replacement currently under consideration, what will happen to those with pre-existing conditions? How many more will find themselves without access?

Attacks on the ACA are not the only issues the industry faces. The pandemic exposed numerous flaws within the healthcare “system” such as the hospitals’ refusal to inventory necessary materials and equipment. When faced with the pandemic, few hospitals had access to enough Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to meet demand. There were not enough ventilators, enough ICU beds, enough ICU personnel, etc. Moreover, the pandemic has taken a physical and mental toll on Emergency Room and ICU personnel. Many have died. Many more intend to retire when the pandemic ends. What then?

US Postal Service – Libertarians and right-wingers have long wanted to privatize the Post Office. To that end, Republicans in Congress have starved it of funds and created obstacles for its operation. The pandemic has only made matters worse by reducing the number of advertising flyers the USPS needs for revenue. But the real damage to the institution is the result of politics. Trump installed a Postmaster General who is clearly unqualified for the position. And he has given his lackey orders to slow down the mail in preparation for the election in which many more people plan to vote by mail. The idea is to create enough chaos to throw the election results into question. So, if he loses, Trump can claim the election was “rigged.”

The environment – No administration has been more hostile to the environment than Trump’s. From reducing the size of national monuments to auctioning oil and mineral leases to streamlining permits for offshore drilling to repealing the Obama administration’s clear water regulations, the Trump administration has placed us all in danger. Indeed, it has place many of the world’s species in danger.

Climate change – In the very first days of his administration, Trump withdrew the US from the Paris Climate Accords. And everything he has done since has only exacerbated the problem. Scientists tell us that we now have less than a decade to act in order to avoid a worst-case scenario.

National debt – The Trump administration has added trillions to the national debt. And, if there is any hope of avoiding an economic depression worse than that of the 1930s, it will have to commit to trillions more in economic relief for businesses and individuals. The resulting debt will take many years to pay down. Of course, Republicans will want to do that at the expense of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP and other safety net programs, which will only make our economy worse.

International relations – A recent international study found that, instead of admiring the US as “that shining city on a hill” that Ronald Reagan once described, the residents of other countries now view us with disgust, and maybe even worse, pity. Trump has endangered our relationships with allies and adversaries alike. It may be generations before they trust us again.

Racial justice – The killings of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Aubrey, and far too many other black Americans to mention has finally led us to a point where we absolutely must address systemic racism. Though the Trump administration has tried to deny the problems by provoking violence between the peaceful demonstrators and federal agents, there is no turning back. Unfortunately, there are those who refuse to understand the problems or refuse to give up their white privilege, especially the white nationalist groups who believe they will benefit from an all-out race war.

Domestic division – Thanks to Trump and his legions of Trumpanzees, our nation is more divided than at any time since the Civil War. Through propaganda, Trump has created a cult that excuses and forgives his many faults. They are almost universally racist, many are armed, and they seem willing to defend him no matter how unconstitutional, illogical, and cruel his actions become. And because they are uniquely resistant to logic and real news, we must consider what they may do if Trump loses both the popular and electoral vote. Will they refuse to acknowledge the new president? Will they resort to violence?

All of these problems and questions will be waiting for President Biden when he is sworn in. And there are certain to be more. Thankfully, having helped President Obama pull us out of an economic canyon following the mortgage crisis of 2008, no one is better able to deal with them. Certainly not the con man from Queens who is responsible for creating them.

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?

Long-Term Consequences Of Trump’s Failed Coronavirus Response.

When China first reported the outbreak of a novel coronavirus, the Trump administration had an opportunity to prevent, or at least to minimize, its impact on the US as previous administrations had done several times before. Instead, Trump dismissed the threat, telling us that China had everything under control. Then, when it did arrive on our shores, Trump called it a “Democratic hoax.” Apparently, he did not want to anger Xi Jinping. In fact, as we recently learned, instead of worrying about the coronavirus, he was trying to enlist China’s help for his re-election campaign.

When Covid-19 evolved into a full pandemic, Trump told us that it was only because of failed Democratic governors. Instead of leadership, he offered us false promises. And, instead of utilizing his emergency powers to provide Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), he created a bidding war between states and the federal government, prioritizing the needs of Republican-controlled states.

When the stock markets crashed and the economy stalled, he delayed emergency funds for the unemployed in order to have his name printed on the checks. Further, though he signed a second congressional bill to provide loans and more emergency funds, his administration refused to reveal the recipients, which has led Congress to suspect that Trump’s family businesses have benefited. And, instead of worrying about public health, he was laser-focused on pushing states to reopen their economies in order to improve his chances of re-election.

The short-term consequences have been devastating with now more than 2.6 million cases despite limited testing and nearly 129,000 deaths. Still, he refuses to show any real leadership by ordering the manufacture of more PPE and by ordering all Americans to wear masks to limit the spread of Covid-19. In fact, contrary to scientific advice, he held two rallies that will likely further spread the virus.

The long-term consequences could be even more devastating.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has written that the administration’s response and GOP policies are all but certain to lead to a “lost generation” of workers. He points to the 14 percent of the US population that is on food stamps and the projected 30 percent unemployment rate. “The numbers turning to food banks are just enormous and beyond the capacity of them to supply. It is like a third world country. The public social safety net is not working,” says Stiglitz.

He goes on to state, “If you leave it to Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell, we will have a Great Depression. If we had the right policy structure in place we could avoid it easily.”

The economy and staggering unemployment rate are only part of the problem. The trillions of dollars in additional debt will reduce our ability to fund other needs, such as infrastructure, safety nets, and national defense.

Trump’s failure to stem the pandemic has already led to a loss of US standing in the world, leaving those in other nations flabbergasted at our incompetence. That will have long-term impacts on tourism, trade, and alliances. The failure will also impact our already stressed and inadequate healthcare system. The pandemic has ended most elective surgeries and other procedures causing some clinics and hospitals to close. That will lead to even less access to healthcare, especially for the poor. And Trump’s defunding of the World Health Organization will only leave us more vulnerable to future viruses, some of which have already been identified in other parts of the world.

The Trump-ordered ban on work visas will create a brain drain for our research institutions and technology companies that can’t be fully replaced by our own residents. Americans are unlikely to quickly embrace sports, concerts and other large gatherings resulting in billions of losses annually. And since the Trump administration prioritized rescue funds for large corporations, we’re likely to see a further consolidation of brands and services.

The pandemic has already affected human rights in this country by leaving some of the poorest populations vulnerable as “essential workers” in nursing homes, groceries, and meat-packing plants. Worse, it has exposed those seeking refuge in this country who are being held in detention facilities. And it has caused others to be deported back to their countries of origin to be raped or murdered. Moreover, the GOP’s response to the pandemic will lead to further voter suppression which will most impact the poor and people of color, forcing them to risk infection in order to exercise their constitutional right.

Last, but certainly not least, the financial consequences of the pandemic, while temporarily stemming carbon emissions, will make it more difficult for the US to invest in renewable fuels to address the climate crisis.

The only conceivable answer to all of these crises can be summarized in one word: Biden. Or, if you prefer, two: Bye Don.

Trump’s Conflict With China.

With the help of William Barr, Trump was able to dismiss the Mueller investigation’s findings that he conspired with Russia to win election and committed obstruction of justice to avoid the consequences. And, with the help of a compliant GOP-controlled Senate, Trump was able to avoid removal from office through impeachment over his unconstitutional actions with Ukraine.

Now desperate to distract from his failed response to the coronavirus that has killed nearly 100,000 Americans and left nearly 37 million unemployed, Trump is calling on his administration and his allies to place blame on China.

Certainly, China is not blameless for the pandemic. Its government downplayed the seriousness and the extent of the outbreak in Wuhan, even punishing the doctor who called attention to the threat and who later died from COVID-19. But China eventually did cooperate with the World Health Organization (WHO) and provided information on the virus before it was found in the US.

And the Trump administration is no less at fault. It has been reported that the administration ignored the pandemic playbook left by the Obama administration. In 2018, it disbanded the Pandemic Response Team. Even before that, GOP members of Congress refused to provide funds to refill the Strategic National Stockpile. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) refused to use a readily available test preferring to make its own failed version. And, during the early days of the pandemic, Trump dismissed concerns of the coronavirus as a Democratic hoax.

To be fair, there were some things beyond the administration’s control. Over a period of many years, US manufacturers of medical equipment, like many other industries, outsourced much of their production to China. And, facing economic stress, hospitals had embraced the “Just In Time” mentality of other industries to reduce inventory and cut expenses.

Obviously, with regard to the pandemic, there is plenty of blame to go around. But, instead of trying to affix blame, we should be trying to make necessary changes so that it never happens again. The last thing we need is to defund the WHO, the organization best suited to prevent pandemics. And we certainly do not need to escalate the ill-conceived trade war with China into a cold war or worse. But it seems the Trump administration is determined to do just that.

After Trump withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiated by the Obama administration and began alienating governments around the globe, China has stepped in to fill the void left by the US. It has invested heavily in emerging countries. And it has worked to expand trade with Europe. That has made China more powerful, more confident, and less dependent on the US. In addition, US tariffs on Chinese goods have hurt US consumers, US farmers, and US companies. They have also strained relations between the two nations.

Now, after long ignoring China’s ethnic cleansing of the Uighurs, the brutal occupation of Tibet, and the crackdown in Hong Kong, the Trump administration seems to have decided that it is now in Trump’s interest to demand information about the location and well-being of Tibet’s Panchen Lama. And it has decided to place sanctions on Chinese companies involved with surveillance of Hong Kong protestors. Not surprisingly, China has threatened to respond in kind. Alarmingly, some congressional Democrats have gone along with Trump’s escalation of the conflict.

This cannot end well.

After the Trump administration’s treatment of Latin American refugees, the US no longer has the high moral ground on human rights. So, China is unlikely to respond to demands from the US. And we may not get much support from the international community. Further, to a great extent, the Chinese and US economies rely on each other. Escalating the conflict will be damaging to both economies, and the US economy is already more vulnerable than at any time since the Great Depression.

Finally, since WWII, the US has focused on projecting its military might around the globe. That is extremely difficult and expensive, requiring many military bases, aircraft and naval carrier groups. But China has focused on building its military to defend the eastern hemisphere – a task far less daunting. So, any military conflict with China will be difficult for the US to win. Both are nuclear powers. And, unless China attacks the US, the US will be forced to fight against superior numbers on China’s home turf.

In reality, neither side can win a military conflict. Therefore, the only solution is diplomacy – a task the Trump administration is particularly unsuited for.

The Coming Great(er) Depression.

In the US, we are quickly approaching 100,000 deaths from COVID-19 combined with 36 percent unemployment. The losses have been staggering – akin to combining the pandemic of 1918 with the Great Depression of the 1930s. Even “reopening” the economy is unlikely to change our future other than accelerating the death rate.

At this point, we have no reliable treatment for COVID-19. No vaccine. No equitable answer for unemployment. And inadequate safety nets.

But, by far, our greatest deficiency is leadership at the national level. So far, our “Dear Leader” and wannabe dictator has only led us to the abyss. Instead of preparing for a pandemic, he ignored the playbook given him by his successor and dismantled our response team. Instead of reacting to the onset of the pandemic in China, he dismissed it as the Wuhan flu. When the first cases appeared on our shores, he dismissed it as a partisan hoax. As the pandemic spread, he abdicated his responsibility and placed it in the laps of state governments. And he continues to claim that “no one could have handled it better.”

Really? Let’s look at his administration’s response.

He and his incompetent underlings stated that the national stockpile of medical supplies was the federal government’s – that states would have to find their own sources of ventilators and personal protection equipment (PPE). They even ignored a US manufacturer who had the manufacturing capability to make millions of N95 masks before the pandemic spread. All the manufacturer needed were government assurances and federal funds to restart his production lines that had been forced to close by lower cost foreign competition.

As a result, states were forced to engage in bidding wars for equipment – much of it substandard – often against the federal government. At the same time, large federal supplies of masks held by TSA went unused. In the meantime, healthcare providers were left to treat COVID-19 patients without proper protection, resulting in unneeded stress and, in some case, unnecessary deaths. And their reward from Dandy Donnie? He accused them of hoarding or wasting masks, shields, and gowns.

He continued to treat the pandemic as a partisan issue, using it to further divide our nation. He called for the economy to reopen while deaths soared. He took the advice of his propagandists on Fox News against his own medical advisors to promote unproven drugs as a “cure” for COVID-19. He also suggested that COVID might be treated by injecting or ingesting disinfectants or somehow getting ultraviolet light inside patients!

Only when the polls showed him trailing his political rival did he begin to take the pandemic seriously.

Nevertheless, he continues to push for Americans to go back to work despite the danger. He ordered meat-processing plants to stay open as more and more of their employees tested positive for the virus. His administration failed to provide guidance for safety measures leaving employees exposed. Yet, he quickly enacted safety measures for his own place of employment when one of his staff tested positive for the coronavirus. It seems he expects other Americans to risk their lives to restore the economy to improve his re-election prospects.

But the economy isn’t coming back soon.

It’s painfully obvious that Donald J. Trump is completely unsuited for dealing with a crisis, especially one that demands reason and science. He can’t bully a virus. He can’t sue it or con it. It won’t succumb to his vulgar threats. Sure, he can rile up his base into a frothing-at-the-mouth frenzy. He can expect Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Rush Limbaugh and his other propagandists to create distractions and more conspiracy theories. He can continue to try to place the blame on others. And he can expect Vladimir Putin to meddle in our elections. But creating more anger, more hatred, more division, more racism will not end the pandemic and bring back our economy.

The only thing that can save us now is real leadership. Something that is sorely lacking in the White House and in the GOP.

Barr’s Latest Attempt To Rewrite History.

Even before Donald J. Trump won the Electoral College, it was clear to US intelligence agencies that Russia had intervened in the 2016 election on his behalf. They had not only barraged social media with lies about Hillary Clinton. They hacked the DNC website, delivering Democratic strategies and internal polling to the Trump campaign, which helped sway key battleground states. In addition, Russian oligarchs funneled millions into GOP campaign coffers through the NRA.

These were not the unsolicited acts of a foreign rival. As revealed by the Mueller investigation, they were done in concert with the Trump campaign. For example, just hours after Trump looked into a camera and said, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 33,000 emails that are missing,” Russian operatives began attempts to hack the Clinton campaign.

The investigation documented dozens of meetings between Russians and Trump associates. It also knew of dozens of communications between Russia and the Trump campaign that were either destroyed prior to the investigation or encrypted. It even documented an attempt to set up a so-called backdoor line of communications between the campaign and Russia. Though the Mueller team concluded that there was insufficient evidence to press charges of a criminal conspiracy due to the campaign’s lies, missing communications, and the unwillingness of Russians to testify, it wrote: “…the Office cannot rule out the possibility that the unavailable information would shed additional light on (or cast in a new light) the events detailed in the report.”

Contrary to Trump and his puppet Attorney General, William Barr, the investigation did not exonerate Trump. Nor did it rule out collusion.

The fact that Trump can continue to lie about his “exoneration” is the result of Barr’s successful attempt to mischaracterize the results by sending a misleading letter to Congress and holding a press conference before releasing the report itself. Further, Barr has continued to undermine the investigation’s findings by raising questions about the investigation’s origins and the FISA warrants issued to collect information.

It’s an old trick. If you can’t dispute the evidence, raise questions about how it was gathered. Cast the investigators as biased, incompetent or both.

Barr is an expert in the art of deception. In 1989, as Assistant Attorney General, he wrote a legal opinion justifying rendition – the arrest of fugitives on foreign soil without consent of a sovereign government – resulting in the US invasion of Panama and the arrest of Manuel Noriega. When Congress asked for a copy of the document, Barr refused to provide it, offering a “summary” instead. When Congress eventually subpoenaed the full document, it discovered that Barr had omitted key findings from the summary. Sound familiar?

Far from acting as an impartial advocate of justice, Barr has used his position to push for destructive and partisan policies under false pretense. To a great degree, he is responsible for mass incarceration, while claiming it would be good for black Americans. He launched an illegal surveillance program which gathered international phone records of innocent Americans. He pushed President George H.W. Bush to pardon Casper Weinberger for the Iran-Contra affair. And he was given the monicker “Coverup General Barr” by conservative columnist William Safire for his refusal to appoint a special counsel to investigate the scandal known as Iraqgate over the US role in the Iran-Iraq War.

It is precisely because of his ability to deceive and coverup that Barr was nominated to become Trump’s more than willing enabler. Having honed his abilities to undermine justice to a fine art, he once again sits atop a Department of Injustice. Using his power, he not only undermined the Mueller investigation. He began a partisan investigation of the FBI and US intelligence agencies. He has attacked the Affordable Care Act. He has even threatened governors for daring to invoke their emergency powers to shutdown businesses in response to the pandemic. (How dare they place the safety of their citizens over the re-election efforts of his Russian-loving, pussy-grabbing, child-caging, environment-destroying, money-grubbing, pandemic-ignoring, wannabe dictator!)

And just in time to help resurrect Trump’s failing re-election campaign, Barr has ordered a federal court to ignore Michael Flynn’s guilty plea of lying to the FBI. If the court agrees, the former National Security Advisor, conspiracy theorist, and leader of “Lock her up” chants will go free. Moreover, Trump will again be able to claim that the entire Mueller investigation was without merit. Never mind the evidence. Pay no attention to the many other convictions. Forget about Junior’s meeting with a Russian operative expecting to collect dirt on Hillary. And, by all means, ignore the incompetent response to the pandemic, the multi-trillion-dollar deficit, and the 33 million unemployed.

It’s all a Democratic hoax.

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Ironically, in the age of information, our nation has been compromised by lies and disinformation as never before.

Decades of consolidation, short-term thinking, corporate greed, extreme political ideologies, and poor leadership have left our nation’s economy, healthcare system and its citizens unnecessarily vulnerable.

Many of the decisions that led us to this point were made in good faith. Some were dictated by difficult situations. But others were made willfully and knowingly, their true purpose and their all-too predictable results hidden in a fog of falsehoods and lies. This book attempts to cut through the misinformation to examine the problems, explain how they happened and reveal the truth.

What The US Could Be.

Our nation has reached a crossroads. Will we continue to slide further down the path to autocracy and cruelty where the nation’s leader is unaccountable, where the rule of law only pertains to those the leader says it should, where the leader puts his thumb on the scales of justice, where elected officials cater to corporations and the wealthy, where discrimination is accepted, where millions continue to live in poverty with fewer and fewer safety nets, and where those seeking asylum are locked in cages?

Or will we choose to vote for those determined to reclaim our government and reshape it to live up to its promise?

Consider what a Uniter-in-Chief, instead of a Divider-in-Chief, could do. Consider what a Congress focused on solving problems and representing the people – all of the people – could accomplish.

Unity: Instead of being divided by political and racial tribalism, we could be united in solving the greatest issues of our time. By rejecting GOP candidates determined to divide us for political gains over social issues such as abortion, religion, discrimination and wealth.

Right now, there are nearly 400 House-passed bills that have been denied a hearing in the Senate. Many, if not most, of these bills address bipartisan issues such as protecting patients with pre-existing conditions, lowering pharmaceutical prices, improving gun safety through universal background checks. Reshaping the Senate by rejecting those who would rather play politics than address the nation’s needs would end gridlock and allow us to address the issues that affect all of us.

Equality: We could treat each other as true equals. Over the past few decades, the GOP has resorted to voter suppression tactics in order to choose their voters rather than allow voters to choose their candidates. They have relied on extreme Gerrymandering, restrictive voter IDs, purging of voter rolls, intimidation, reducing voting hours and closing polling places in poor and black areas, and taking voting rights away from those who have served prison time.

It’s time to end these repressive and undemocratic practices; to end discrimination of all kinds. We must reshape all of our governments – including city, county, state and federal – and commit to restoring democracy and civil rights for all.

Equal Representation: We could dismantle the archaic Electoral College that prioritizes geography over people – a system that gives a voter living in Wyoming nearly 4 times the representation of a voter living in California.

Climate Crisis: We could save our planet from the most severe impacts of climate change.

Though scientists have known about the dangers of our reliance on fossil fuels since the mid-1960s, the issue was mostly ignored until former Vice-President Gore released the documentary An Inconvenient Truth in 2006. By the 2008 presidential election, it had finally become a political issue with both candidates promoting a policy of cap and trade to reduce carbon emissions. Since then, only one party has shown any interest in addressing climate change. The other, supported by the fossil fuel industry, refers to it as a hoax.

Let’s suppose for a moment that the GOP is correct and climate change is a hoax (it isn’t), what would be the consequences of addressing the issue and embracing clean, renewable energy? The consequences would be many high-paying jobs, cleaner air, cleaner water and an end to wars over reserves of oil. Oh, and Big Oil would no longer exert such control over our government.

Ecosystem: We could save the diversity and the beauty of the many species that share our planet.

Many parts of our ecosystem are collapsing. Bees, which pollinate our fruits, vegetables and grains, are dying as a result of the use of pesticides. There is a dead zone in the Gulf caused by the runoff of fertilizers from our farms. Glysophate, a known carcinogen used to control weeds permeates our drinking water and our foods. Fracking fluids have leaked into the aquifers many rely on for drinking water. Many of our coral reefs, home to most of our oceans’ fish, are bleaching and collapsing due to climate change. Our oceans are also showing the ill effects of decades of use as garbage dumps. Deforestation and trophy hunting has forced thousands of species to the brink of extinction. I could go on. Yet the GOP seems uniquely unmoved by the devastation.

Replacing GOP politicians with those who believe in science, who will fight for ecological understanding and justice, may be the only way to save thousands of species from extinction…including our own.

Military: We could use much of our gigantic $718 billion military budget to improve conditions for the citizens of our nation and elsewhere. And we could, for one of the very few times in our nation’s history, wage peace.

For those who think that reducing the military budget would leave us vulnerable, consider that our budget is equal to that of the next 8 countries’ combined. And 6 of those are allies. Moreover, we benefit from the more than $305 billion in military spending of the other 28 members of the NATO mutual defense organization. Finally, our military budget doesn’t include the more than $50 billion budget of the Department of Homeland Security or the nearly $220 billion for Veterans Affairs.

That means we’re currently spending nearly $1 trillion annually on defense and military-related issues. And we benefit from $305 billion more.

Healthcare: We could provide universal health care for all of our citizens and save thousands of lives.

Pharmaceuticals: By allowing the government, as the provider of universal health care, to negotiate with manufacturers and distributors, we could make necessary and life-saving pharmaceuticals affordable for all those who need them.

Religion: We could provide true religious freedom, including freedom from religion for non-believers. As Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God.”

Immigration: We could, once and for all, solve the issue of immigration by providing a path to citizenship for those who were brought here as children and have spent most of their lives in the US. We could create a system of work permits for those who are needed to raise and harvest our crops and to fill the jobs most US citizens don’t want. We could improve our system for those seeking asylum from violence and starvation in their home countries.

Economy: We could transform our economy from a plutocracy to a democracy that will work for all Americans. Not just the powerful and the wealthy. By eliminating the need for corporations to pay for their employees’ healthcare, we could demand that their savings be used to pay all employees a living wage. And, by asking the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes, we could invest in many other things that could benefit our nation, such as low-cost college education while, at the same time, decreasing deficits.

Infrastructure: We could create high-paying jobs that cannot be off-shored by committing to rebuild our aging and decrepit infrastructure: Streets, roads, bridges, railroads, seaports, airports and the electric grid.

Violence: We could address gun violence by ending the sale of the weapons of war. We could implement universal background checks, waiting periods and red flag laws. And we could address the issues that lead to violence, such as poverty, discrimination, lack of opportunity and easy access to guns.