The Greatest Challenges Of The 21st Century.

Through the rest of this century, the world is facing a number of seemingly insurmountable problems – problems for which there appear to be no easy answers. Some so complex and so threatening that they could doom humanity for all eternity. Yet, even for those challenges, there are answers if we are willing to acknowledge the problems and make the changes so urgently required.

Here they are in ascending order of difficulty:

Rise of Authoritarianism – The solution for this one is exceedingly simple: Vote! Vote only for those politicians who are committed to democracy. Fight tyranny at every turn. No politician who embraces discrimination of any kind belongs in office.

Corporate Consolidation – The phenomenon of too-big-to-fail banks and multinational corporations has led to a wide variety of problems for humanity. These include a lack of competition leading to inflation, the elimination of pension funds for workers, the growing disparity of income between CEOs and workers, the exporting of jobs in the search for ever cheaper and more compliant labor…the list is long.

Fortunately, the solution is also simple. Indeed, Congress gave us a seldom-used tool to break up these industrial cabals and growing monopolies: The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. It’s time our government used it.

Wealth Disparity – Globally, the richest 10% of the global population currently take home 52% of the income. Those in the poorest half of the global population earn just 8%.

In the U.S., the wealthiest one percent of Americans hold more than 32 percent of the nation’s wealth. The top 10 percent hold 77 percent of the wealth, while the bottom 50 percent of households hold just one percent of the wealth. And 7.5 percent of the population has a negative net worth – meaning they are in debt.

By race, white households hold more than 86 percent of the wealth while black and Latino households hold less than 3 percent of the wealth.

And, until the election of President Biden the problem has only gotten worse, a result of the vicious economic policy called Trickle-Down Theory that was embraced by Ronald Reagan and every Republican president since. The subsequent wealth gap has led to growing poverty and food insecurity, unfair tax policies, a government that is bought and paid for by wealthy individuals and corporations, and a loss of tax revenue that has led to a growing national debt.

Yet there is some glimmer of hope for those at the bottom of the wealth scale. According to the Federal Reserve, the average wealth of the bottom half of Americans has increased by 80 percent since 2019, perhaps as a result of President Biden’s policies. (Of course, wealth growth is statistically much more profound if you have very little wealth to begin with.)

The solutions to wealth disparity also seem relatively simple: Enact a wealth tax and impose strict limits on donations to political campaigns. That could give all Americans a chance at the equal representation our Founders intended.

Gun Violence – The U.S. suffers approximately 20,000 violent gun deaths each year (not including suicides) and more than 35,000 gun injuries. Thanks to the NRA, other so-called gun rights groups, and gun manufacturers, police have to assume that every person they encounter is armed. Our schools and many public buildings have become virtual fortresses in an attempt to prevent mass shootings. And, from the age of 5, children are taught to live in fear of active shooters. No other developed nation in the world experiences these problems. But our gun manufacturers are trying to change that by exporting guns to criminal gangs worldwide.

It doesn’t have to be this way!

The solution is to follow Australia’s lead by banning and collecting guns, especially semi-automatics. Instead, as exemplified by the recent Supreme Court decision overturning the ban on bump stocks, the U.S. is headed in the opposite direction.

Climate Crisis – The U.S. has long led the world in the amount of fossil fuels burned per capita. And now we are the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas. For more than 50 years, scientists have been warning us that, by incinerating fossil fuels, we are in danger of incinerating our planet. Unwilling to believe them, we have protected our fossil fuel industry and refused to modify our unsustainable lifestyle.

Sure, we have made some limited progress by recycling, better insulating our homes, producing more energy efficient appliances, and expanding the use of renewable fuels. But those measures are far too little, too late.

We led the world in establishing an extravagant, disposable culture. Now we need to lead the world to live within our planet’s means. Change is possible. But we must hurry. As you can see by the ever-increasing, ever more violent storms and other climate-related disasters, time is running out, and quickly.

Mass Migration – In recent years, migrants have flooded the borders of the United States and other highly developed nations. As a result of wars, violent gangs, autocratic rulers, and natural disasters such as drought, storms, and flooding, millions of people are faced with the choice of either migrating or dying.

Think immigrants are ruining your country? Then demand that our politicians do something to improve circumstances in their home countries. And be willing to open your hearts as well as your pocketbooks to help.

Mass Extinctions – In Earth’s history, there have been 5 mass extinctions defined as the loss of 75 percent of all species within a relatively short period of time. Scientists tell us that we are about to experience a sixth mass extinction as the result of human activities such as deforestation, unsustainable food production, pollution, encroachment of habitat, and the burning of fossil fuels.

Currently, extinction of species is occurring 1,000 to 10,000 times more rapidly than the natural rate. Why should we care?

First, we are living in an ecosystem. The life of one species depends on the life of others. Second, the world will become a much less interesting and livable place without some of the most vulnerable species. And third, we’re one of the species that could go extinct!

You already know the ways to mitigate the sixth mass extinction: Stop wasting resources, limit the use of fossil fuels, limit travel, stop polluting, and quickly transition to a mostly plant-based diet.

We have been the problem. Now we must become the solution.

Artificial Intelligence – AI could be the answer to many of our problems. Or, it could add to them. It simply depends on how we use it.

Used properly, AI can help us eradicate diseases, streamline research, create solutions for complex problems, perform the most dangerous and boring jobs, and help us to objectively solve conflicts.

AI-driven vehicles could make our roads safer and more orderly. AI could make logistics more efficient and more predictable. The possibilities are endless.

But there’s a much darker side to AI.

AI is already creating deepfakes – fake videos and images of people saying and doing things they never intended or even imagined. Women have been victimized by fake images of them nude or engaging in sex acts. Even worse, deepfakes of political candidates and leaders could have profound consequences.

AI could eliminate millions of jobs making humans essentially obsolete.

Not surprisingly, AI has been embraced by the military to replace humans in battle. Future armies, navies and air forces could be dominated by AI-controlled robots making real-time decisions of life and death. Once that happens, will we become the predominate targets?

One AI researcher believes so. He estimates there’s a 99.9% chance that AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) will lead to human extinction within the next 100 years claiming that no AGI model he has seen has been safe. And though other AI researchers are less certain that AGI will lead to our extinction, they are not particularly reassuring.

A Final Word: As daunting as some of these challenges seem, to some degree, they all can be addressed with one simple action: Vote! We must climb out of our media silos, ignore the misinformation and disinformation peddled by the moneyed interests, educate ourselves, and vote for the politicians who are willing to acknowledge the scope of the challenges and attack them in earnest.

Gov. Noem’s Cruelty Is Emblematic Of MAGA Party.

Perhaps no event better summarizes the character of today’s Republican Party than Kristi Noem bragging about her heartless and ruthless killing of a 14-month-old puppy and a “filthy” goat. After all, this is a political party (dare I say cult) that seems to revel in cruelty. Cruelty aimed at political opponents, at immigrants, at homosexuals and transexuals, at pregnant women, at people of color, at people of other faiths, even at children.

Indeed, Republican cruelty seems to have no bounds.

Remember when Trump-supporting Republicans were more than happy to let seniors die of Covid? Remember when they took pleasure in ripping immigrant children from their parents’ arms? Remember when Trump proposed shooting immigrants in their legs? Remember when those same people, under the banners of Trump and the banners of the old Confederacy, attacked our nation’s capital with the intent of hanging the Vice-President and murdering Democrats?

There appears to be no vicious act today’s Trump-supporting Republicans won’t stoop to. No limits on their attacks on democracy. Many of those heavily armed MAGAts have bragged that they are willing to turn to violence should their Dear Leader lose the next election.

Yet many, if not most, of these people claim to be “God-fearing, Christian Patriots.”

They claim to be pro-life, yet they are more than willing to force a woman to die while carrying an unviable fetus. And though they are pro-birth, they are more than willing to deny food to impoverished families. Moreover, they deny aid to the children of single mothers (aka “welfare queens”) forced to carry fetuses to term after being denied an abortion. And what do they offer unwanted children? In a word, nothing.

As for patriotism, it’s difficult to believe they even understand the meaning of the word.

In fact, their definition of patriotism centers almost entirely around militarism and guns. I’m convinced that the only part of the Constitution they’ve memorized is the Second Amendment. It’s only a single sentence, but I very much doubt they could cite the first half of it: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state….” Of course, they also ignore the references to separation of church and state. And as for the Bill of Rights, they seem to believe the right to free speech, the right to peaceably assemble, the right to practice religion – any religion – only applies to them.

And, by once again, choosing Donald Trump as their presidential candidate – a man with a lurid sexual history, a man who lies with almost every breath, a man who led an insurrection to prevent the peaceful transfer of power, a man who is clearly determined to turn our democratic republic into his personal fiefdom – they obviously are willing to turn our nation into an autocracy closely aligned with the world’s worst dictators.

That, of course, would be the ultimate cruelty.

Republicans’ Shadow Government.

Republicans continue to rant on about the “Deep State” – unelected government officials who make decisions affecting ordinary Americans’ lives. In fact, it’s mere projection. (Given the GOP’s recent history, you can assume that they’re already doing whatever they accuse Democrats of doing.) 

But they are right about one thing. There is an unelected shadow government affecting our lives. It’s called ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council), an organization of conservative state legislators and others that is funded by some of America’s largest corporations.

If you are thus far blissfully unaware of ALEC – and most Americans are – you are almost certainly familiar with some of its work. It writes so-called “model” legislation based on conservative ideologies for the benefit of – you guessed it – large corporations.

Think your elected state representative wrote the deadly “stand your ground” bill that became law in your state? Think again. It was likely authored by gun manufacturers, distributed by ALEC and introduced for votes by an ALEC legislative member.

Think your state representative authored the bill that preempts cities and other local jurisdictions from regulating guns and ammunition? Nope. It was generated by ALEC.

The “show us your papers” anti-civil rights, anti-immigration law? Nope. Once again, that was a product of ALEC. 

Indeed, whenever you see a rightwing bill introduced in your legislature that seems identical to bills passed in other states, it almost certainly is a product of ALEC. Often, legislators who are members of ALEC never even read the “model” bills before submitting them. As a matter of fact, one Florida legislator introduced a stack of ALEC-spawned bills without even removing the ALEC cover sheets from them!

One of the latest examples of the work of this shadow government is an ALEC bill that would give corporations almost complete immunity from lawsuits intended to hold them accountable for harmful actions. If the bill becomes law, it will severely limit states from collecting damages from corporations that produce and distribute dangerous or deadly products.

It’s difficult to see how such legislation benefits consumers and ordinary citizens. But the benefits to ALEC’s corporate members are obvious. And since the creator of fascism, Benito Mussolini, once said that fascism could more accurately be called corporatism, clearly ALEC and Republican legislators have earned the right to be called fascists.  

So, the next time you hear Republican conspiracy theorists rant on about the “Deep State”, don’t think about the hard-working civil servants at the Post Office or the IRS. Think about ALEC and most GOP legislators.

Dear Trump Supporters, I Still Know Who You Really Are.

In November 2016, I wrote a post aimed at Trump voters saying, “I know who you really are.” Not surprisingly, many of you were incensed by my conclusions. But then you seem easily incensed by any criticisms of you and your orange Messiah.

Recent studies found that you are angry, but that you don’t know what you’re actually angry about. And though you don’t know why, you’ve chosen to blame the government and Democrats for any and all of your frustrations.

Tired of paying what you consider too high taxes? It’s not that Republicans have consistently shifted the tax burden to the lower and middle classes from the wealthy and large corporations. It’s because Democrats spend money on food for children and the poor.

Upset about the lack of high-paying manufacturing jobs? Never mind that multinational corporations have offshored those jobs. The real culprit must be the government which has imposed regulations to protect the safety of workers.

Furious that immigrants are taking American jobs in produce fields and meatpacking plants? It’s not that very few Americans will fill those jobs due to hard work, low pay, poor working conditions, and lack of benefits. Or that, for decades, Republicans have refused to vote on immigration reform. It’s because Democrats can’t stem the flow of immigrants across our southern border.

Angry that inflation has increased interest rates and the cost of many products? It’s not that your mango-colored conman botched and politicized the response to a pandemic leading to disruptions in supply chains and widespread shortages. Or that greedy corporations are using inflation as an excuse to unnecessarily increase profits. It’s got to be the fault of President Biden and the Democrats.

Worried about crime and declining family values? It’s not that fear-mongering Republicans permitted gun manufacturers to sell weapons of war to civilians by the millions. Or that you have long discriminated against people of color and the LGBTQ community. In your feeble mind, it’s godless transexuals and historical accounts of slavery that are responsible for our political division and growing violence.

Without evidence, you believe these falsehoods just because your demented (and apparently dementia-inflicted) leader says so. You take the word of a disgraced, twice impeached, indicted, misogynistic, tax-dodging, mob-connected, fascist-loving, freedom-denying, sexual assaulting, fraud-committing, anti-democratic faux celebrity over that of experts.

Why?

I believe it’s because he’s the bully you always wanted to be. And he’s unshackled you from political correctness, i.e. common courtesy. Of course, you’ll deny it because you claim to be a church-going person of faith. Well, the uncomfortable truth is that if you support Trump, you may well be religious. But you’re neither moral nor ethical.

Neither are you the patriot you almost certainly claim to be. Because patriots support our Constitution and the rule of law. They don’t try to suppress the vote through threats and intimidation. They don’t try to violently overturn the results of an election. They don’t resort to dirty tricks against those with whom they disagree. And they sure as hell don’t beat up cops, deface the Capitol, and try to hang the vice-president.

If you support Trump, you are not a patriot. You are part of a dangerous cult that worships a domestic terrorist disguised as a presidential candidate.

A Renaissance of Hate.

How else could you describe the era of Trump and his cadre of domestic terrorists? A former president who, while in office, gave the term bully pulpit new meaning by appealing to legions of bullies and white supremacists to do his bidding. A demagogue who has so mastered the art of “mob speak” that he no longer needs to tell his followers to defy laws and the Constitution. They have become so attuned to his narcissistic and sociopathic needs that they are willing to act based on the hope that they will receive his praise and avoid his wrath.

It’s an era marked by the former president so determined to burn down the government that he has ordered his mini-me representatives in the so-called Freedom Caucus to block federal funding just to spite his political rival – the consequences be damned. An era of rightwing governors using immigrants and refugees as political tools by cruelly busing them hundreds of miles to score political points. An era in which state legislatures gerrymander districts to suppress minority votes. An era of supposed righteous “Christians” who cheer policies and tactics that brutalize and marginalize women, the LGBTQ community, and migrants.

It’s an era in which ordinary Republicans, emboldened by their leader’s lies, threaten the lives of judges, jury members, and election officials – even Republican officials. An era in which seven percent of Americans have been convinced by the wannabe dictator that violence is necessary to “save” America from Trump’s political opponents, aka “Demoncrats.” An era in which the so-called party of law and order now wants to defund the FBI and politicize the DOJ because their charlatan-in-chief has been indicted for crimes against the State of New York, the State of Georgia, and the United States of America.

So, how are we to break this Trump-fueled fever?

A landslide repudiation of Republican candidates – all Republican candidates – in 2024 will help. But that alone will not inoculate our democracy from their hateful rot. There needs to be a reckoning in all aspects of our society, beginning with the churches that abandoned compassion and love in favor of power and profit.

Similarly, corporate leaders need to look beyond tax cuts, short-term profits and greed and, instead, consider their impact on the future and what’s best for the nation. Voters need to set aside ideology and vote on the issues which a vast majority approve, including gun safety, abortion rights, mitigation of climate change, civil rights, and immigration reform. Most of all, Fox News Corp, NewsMax and other purveyors of lies must be relegated back to the sewers from where they came.

We’ve done it before.

In the 1800s, tens of thousands of courageous Americans sacrificed everything to end slavery. When the KKK rose to power in the 1920s, good people stepped forward to rip off their white sheets and pointy hoods. In the 1940s, the greatest generation marched into war, and many gave their lives to defeat fascism. In the 1950s, the media and a few senators stood up to the fear mongering of Joseph McCarthy and sent him packing back to his world of darkness. In the 1960s, a majority of Americans rejected Jim Crow laws. In the 1970s, women successfully fought to break the bonds of misogyny. And in the 1980s, we finally recognized the inalienable rights of gays, lesbians, trans, and non-binary Americans.

Unfortunately, like zombies, the fascists have emerged from the grave to spread the clouds of darkness over our nation once again. It’s time for all Americans of good will to stand up and figuratively punch the bullies in the nose. The fate of our democracy depends on it.

Freedom Fighters?

The Republican Party has a long history of claiming to be patriots and “freedom fighters.”  Indeed, many of its members have armed themselves with numerous AR15-style rifles and large stockpiles of ammunition while claiming such measures are necessary to defend themselves against tyranny – the tyranny of a Democratic-led federal government.

Really?

Exactly what Democratic policies do they fear? Providing SNAP benefits to poor families to keep their children from starving? Welcoming refugees from war-torn nations and migrants forced to leave their homeland as the result of violence or drought? Providing Social Security benefits to the elderly who spent decades paying FICA to ensure a comfortable retirement? Supporting Medicare and Obamacare so that Americans won’t die prematurely for lack of access to healthcare?

Do governmental actions cross into tyranny for distributing vaccines to millions to help prevent disease, sickness and death? Allocating billions to repair and restore our nation’s failing infrastructure? Enhancing voting systems to ensure that any eligible citizen can easily exercise their right to vote? Permitting a woman and her doctor to make decisions affecting her health? Or permitting the justice system to prosecute anyone, including the rich and powerful, who breaks the law?

Are these policies evidence of tyranny? Hardly.

Real tyranny is a government that requires elementary school gym teachers to check a child’s genitals to make sure they are using the correct pronoun. Tyranny is telling parents that they cannot decide to give their child gender altering surgery. Tyranny is telling qualified teachers they can’t give a true account of American history. Tyranny is banning books and threatening to criminally prosecute librarians. Tyranny is trying to ban boycotts of governments and corporations who commit human rights abuses. Tyranny is trying to abolish civil rights protests.

Tyranny is telling citizens they can’t marry the ones they love. Tyranny is making it increasingly more difficult for certain ethnic groups to vote. Tyranny is forcing a physician to check with attorneys before providing life-saving care to a pregnant woman whose fetus has died in the womb. Tyranny is prosecuting women and their doctors for seeking abortions. Tyranny is punishing corporations for taking a stand against discrimination or considering DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) in their staffing decisions. Tyranny is banning retirement fund managers and state treasurers from incorporating ESG (Environmental, Social and Good Government) investment strategies.

These are not the tyrannical policies of Democrats. These are policies of the Republican Party.

You know, the party that staged a violent coup to overthrow our duly elected government. The same “patriots” who supported Nixon despite his criminal activities to sway the outcome of an election. The same “freedom fighters” who supported Reagan despite his racism and his interference in President Carter’s negotiations to free the Americans taken hostage by Iran.

In reality, Republicans are more interested in fighting than freedom. It seems the only freedom they really care about is the freedom to discriminate and bully others into doing what they want.

Why Not Just Leave Our Flags At Half Mast?

As I was driving home the other day, I noticed a flag at half mast, which made me wonder: Who was it honoring?

Was it for the two officers gunned down during a traffic stop in western Wisconsin? Was it for the Minnesota sheriff’s deputy who was shot and killed while responding to a domestic assault? Was it for the Wisconsin officer gunned down by a suspected drunk driver? Or was it honoring the victims of the latest mass shooting?

But, if it was for the latter, which one?

The shootings are coming at such a furious rate, it’s increasingly difficult to know which shooting victims the flags are honoring. In fact, as of midday May 23, 2023, GunViolenceArchive.org had counted 237 mass shootings and 175 law enforcement officers killed or wounded. That works out to 1.66 mass shootings per day and 1.23 law enforcement officers shot per day!

Of course, gun advocates will use that information to support their belief that even more people need to be armed. Really? The USA already has more guns in the hands of civilians than our civilians have hands, yet the number of shootings continues to increase.

Gun advocates also claim that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. But in a life-or-death situation, experts tell us that it’s seldom possible to distinguish between the two.

Moreover, if you still believe it’s necessary to carry a gun for self-defense, you might want to consider this: So far this year, there have been 436 defensive uses of a gun. Over the same period of time, there have been 604 unintentional shootings. So, you’re far more likely to shoot yourself with your own gun than use it to respond to a crime!

And that’s not even considering suicide by gun. With so many guns so readily available, it’s all too easy for people to kill themselves in a moment of anger or despair. Indeed, out of the total of 16,671 gun deaths this year, 9,438 have been from suicide leaving families and loved ones to clean blood and body parts off the walls of their family homes.

In addition, 13,566 people have been wounded, many sustaining life-changing debilitating physical injuries. And that doesn’t include the psychological damage done to the victims, the first responders, the ER teams, and the witnesses. (If you doubt that, look at the body camera footage of the officers involved at the Uvalde elementary school, which shows officers vomiting and sobbing after they finally entered the classrooms.) Many of these people will require physical or mental therapy for the rest of their lives.

The long-term costs are simply unimaginable.

An Armed Society Is A Polite Society?

For years, that was the promise of the NRA. More guns would mean less crime and less violence.

Well, it’s now estimated that there are 466 million guns in the hands of US civilians. That’s nearly one and a half guns for every man, woman, and child. And at least one in 20 American civilians owns an AR15-style rifle – a gun designed for the battlefield and the weapon of choice for mass murderers.

So, when exactly does all of that politeness set in?

Instead of courtesy and civility, all I see is an old man shooting a teenager for ringing the wrong doorbell, an old man killing a young woman for mistakenly turning into the wrong driveway, a young man shooting a cheerleader for accidentally opening his car door. A middle-aged man murdering his neighbors for asking him to stop target shooting so a young child could sleep. And people of all ages committing mass murder in schools, theaters, nightclubs, concerts, shopping malls and grocery stores.

Not only does that result in a horrendous human toll (more than 20,000 gun deaths a year excluding suicides). The financial toll is staggering. It’s estimated that each individual wounded by gunfire costs roughly $22,000 in medical bills. Last year alone, that would have amounted to $848,100,000. And that doesn’t take into account the life-changing physical and mental disabilities suffered by the wounded, not to mention the emotional trauma experienced by the first responders, nurses, and doctors who treat them.

Obviously, more guns are not the solution.

It was all a lie designed to help gunmakers sell more guns. In fact, almost everything the NRA and other gun rights organizations have told you is a lie beginning with the Second Amendment. They ignore the first part of the amendment that states, “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state…” and jump directly to, “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Why? Because the entirety of the text doesn’t serve their purpose. They don’t want you to know that the underlying reason for the amendment was to provide for the nation’s defense before the federal government had established a standing army. The new nation needed an armed and well-trained militia to defend itself.

Indeed, former Chief Justice Warren Burger said, “The gun lobby’s interpretation of the Second Amendment is one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American people by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.

That fraudulent interpretation was simply part of a cynical marketing strategy.

You see, around 50 years ago, much of the US was transitioning from a rural society to an increasingly urban one.  As more and more Americans moved into large cities, fewer rifles and shotguns were needed for hunting. And the sale of handguns was stagnant since citizens had to demonstrate a need for a handgun and obtain a sheriff’s permit in order to carry it.

Clearly, gunmakers needed to do something to stimulate sales.

So, the NRA and their bought-and-paid-for politicians began selling fear. They told us that crime was out of control because only the criminals had guns. They told us that gun restrictions were useless. They told us that law enforcement can’t help us. They told us the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

And Americans bought it hook, line, and bump stock.

As a result, everyone with an insecurity complex or a fixation on the Old West is now packing a handgun. People with pent-up grievances take up arms to settle scores. And toxic masculinity is projected through the flash suppressor of an AR15.

And the situation is growing worse by the day as evidenced by a statement made by the leading manufacturer of kits used to make ghost guns (untraceable guns without a sales record or serial numbers). When asked what segment of our population buys the most kits, he responded that it’s “your January 6 types.” You know, the people who charged the Capitol and brutalized law enforcement with the intent to overturn an election and hang Mike Pence.

But according to the NRA and its fascist supporters, any sort of regulation of guns is the first step toward tyranny.

What Is The Truth Worth?

Although Fox was forced to pay $787.5 million for its repeated lies about Dominion voting machines, and its depositions revealed the depth of the network’s depravity, it appears the only lesson it learned is to avoid using the names of corporations and individuals within the content of its lies. Sure, the network’s lawyers made a statement acknowledging that it told “some” lies about Dominion. But, in the next breath, they referred to the network’s commitment to “journalistic excellence.”

Journalistic excellence? Riiight!

It’s clear that $787.5 million lesson will have absolutely no effect on the network’s longstanding estrangement with truth. Fox will never reveal the depth of its lies to its viewers who will remain blissfully ignorant in their silo of misinformation. And even though it’s facing a $2.7 billion lawsuit based on its lies about Smartmatic, another maker of voting systems, Fox pundits and hosts will undoubtedly double down on their lying ways.

Even after the dismissal of the network’s most prolific and most anti-American liar, Tucker Carlson, the network is highly unlikely to suddenly resort to actual journalism and truth.

It simply can’t afford to.

After years of railing against our government, Democrats, immigrants, people of color, the LGBTQ community, gun safety, history, education, and science, Fox has created an audience that thrives on absurd lies, hate, and anger. That audience of faux patriots absolutely cannot tolerate being told the truth, especially if it means revealing the depravity of Trump and his legion of fascist followers. If the network doesn’t continue its lying ways, its audience will almost certainly abandon it for OAN or Newsmax.

So, Fox will find another entertaining liar to replace Tucker Carlson as it did following the firings of Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck. It will continue to pander to the most extreme amongst us. It will help perpetuate QAnon myths. It will continue to deny the severity of the climate crisis. It will continue to create scapegoats for our problems and redirect blame from the greedy to the most marginalized portions of our population. It will spawn even more gun deaths.

And, when it is sued again, as it almost certainly will be, it will simply tap into its massive bank account to pay for any consequences. That is now part of the Fox business model – just the cost of doing business.

Never mind that the network is almost singlehandedly responsible for the ongoing threat to our democracy. To Fox, ratings and profits are far more important.

It’s Time To Start Using The F Word.

Like many people, I’ve been hesitant to use the F word in public for fear of offending others’ sensibilities. It is, after all, the one word that can end any political debate or polite conversation. Yet I believe our nation has reached a point where it is the only word left to accurately describe a political party.

I’m not referring to the F word that ends with a k.

After watching the GOP’s followers attempting to violently overturn the results of a fair and free election, after listening to them spewing racism and hate, after seeing them place targets on the backs of LBTQ people who only want to love who they want and to live as they want, after seeing them interfere with a woman’s access to health care, after watching them strip away virtually all regulations of guns, and after watching their hate result in the recent spate of shootings, I believe the party now richly deserves to be labeled with another F word.

I’m referring, of course, to the term fascist.

You may remember that I recently compared the United States of America that Republicans have created to pre-World War II Germany. But I was wrong.

This America may be even worse!

As long ago as the 1970s, those who operate under the banner of the Republican Party determined that the only way to win a free and fair election was to divide us, to pit elements of our society against one another – white against black and brown, conservatives against liberals, Christians against Jews, Christians against Muslims, the religious against atheists and agnostics, gun owners against those who demand gun safety, anti-abortionists against those who believe in a woman’s choice, heterosexuals against homosexuals, heterosexuals against transexuals, etc., etc., etc.

Failing to offer any solutions for our nation’s problems, they intended, instead, to create scapegoats. Along the way, the fascists and their propaganda networks have peddled dishonest narratives of an oppressive government, runaway spending, out of control crime, an invasion of immigrants, and a breakdown of Christian principles to motivate their base.

They have labeled Democrats as pedophiles, non-Christians as terrorists, food stamp recipients as welfare queens, civil servants as the deep state, doctors as baby killers, journalists as enemies of the people, the compassionate as woke, teachers as groomers, and election results as fake.

They whined about so-called activist judges, praying for Supreme Court justices to die so they could seat their own ideologues. They then encouraged them to change long-standing and popular laws by judicial fiat. Having given up on trying to persuade voters, they resorted to voter suppression, gerrymandering, threats, and intimidation.

They disregard education, science, history, and expertise. In their place, they have embraced “alternative facts”, outrageous myths, and wild conspiracy theories.

They seek power, not to govern and improve lives. But to dictate their own narrow-minded beliefs. They disdain compromise and policy debates. Indeed, their only discernable policy is cruelty. They see tolerance, understanding, and compassion as weakness. They ban books and fire teachers who contradict their ignorance and hateful beliefs. They turn government meetings into carnival freak shows. They show up at state houses and election sites with guns to intimidate and threaten, using the First and Second Amendments as weapons.

They have chosen as their leader a man who panders to their ignorance and cruelty. A sociopathic bully who makes up for his lack of knowledge by creating his own “truth.” A conman who has fashioned his leadership style after mob bosses, encouraging lawlessness and giving orders by suggestion and implication – a technique that makes it difficult, if not impossible, to hold him to account. When he lost re-election, he claimed victory, his followers believing his obvious lies. In the aftermath of his defeat, they stormed the Capitol as part of a failed coup to overturn the election. And rather than accept the truth, they forced election officials, even those who are longtime members of their own party, to resign under an avalanche of death threats.

The difference between these fascists and those who once ruled Germany is almost indistinguishable. They have a leader whose thirst for power and adoration is insatiable. He has a proven ability to sell his racist and hateful dream to the masses. He has created a climate of anger and fear of “the other” – races of people he claims are keeping the nation from becoming great again. And though he has no uniformed mob of brown shirts, he has no need for them. Instead, he has a mob of Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Boogaloo Bois, and millions of heavily armed believers who are impatiently waiting for the opportunity to act.

Will there be a Kristallnacht? A burning of the Reichstag? Some other crisis created to justify a violent takeover? The danger to our democracy and the world is far from over. What happens between now and November 12, 2024, will determine our fate.