The Ongoing Theft Of Generational Wealth From Black And Brown People.

As we mark the 100th anniversary of the massacre on Tulsa’s Black Wall Street, it’s important to understand how little has changed in the past century.

First, it should be noted that the Tulsa massacre was only one of at least 40 similar attacks on people of color, not including the genocide of Native Americans. We should also recognize that all of these acts were committed by the white majority population inflamed by sensationalized stories in a biased media. And, though smaller in scope, the attacks are still happening – by white supremacists, by the police, and by our flawed criminal justice system in which the poor, especially people of color, are pushed to accept plea bargains under threat of draconian sentences.

Further, as in Tulsa’s Greenwood neighborhood, most people of color have been robbed of their ability to accumulate generational wealth.

For example, Native Americans have had their lands stolen and treaties broken. They have been robbed of mineral rights. They have been denied sufficient funds to build proper schools and infrastructure. The courts have continually denied them the ability to block the destruction of sacred lands, including burial sites. And, as the result of recent legislation, they have, once again, been robbed of the right to vote.

Similarly, Asians have been victimized by periods of violence, as well as legislation such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the government-ordered Japanese Internment of World War II which resulted in stolen property and wealth. And, though we rely on Latin American immigrants to harvest and prepare most of our food, they are mistreated and denied reasonable compensation for their work under constant threat of deportation.

Yet many Americans, indoctrinated by rightwing media and unwilling to recognize such theft, would have you believe that the reason so many people of color live in poverty is that they lack the work ethic of Caucasians. That they’re all too willing to live off the taxes from “real” Americans. They simply can’t understand or admit that much of poverty is the result of a biased and unfair system in which the wealthy white majority makes the rules. For example, the current Mayor of Tulsa refuses to acknowledge that the victims of the attack on Black Wall Street are owed reparations. Yet his own ancestral family came to wealth and prominence off the backs of nearly 1,000 slaves!

If we are ever to achieve racial equality, it must include an acknowledgment of our historical misdeeds and their impact on the present. Our actions must go beyond embracing the 1619 Project designed to teach children the truth of our history of slavery and racism. We must go beyond affirmative action. Beyond criminal justice reform. We must stop the GOP attempts to restrict voting rights for people of color. And we must agree on some form of reparations. We must pay for our sins.

Jan. 6 Commission Vote Explains Why Bipartisanship Is A Myth.

Most Americans continue to call for bipartisanship in the US Congress. But it has become as elusive as UFOs, Bigfoot, and the mythical unicorn. First, let’s note that the “bi” in bipartisanship denotes the participation of two parties. Unfortunately, for at least the past 12 years, one party has been largely absent. Sure, the Republicans have been more than happy to demand a voice in any bill the Democrats put forward. For example, as Congress was debating the Affordable Care Act, Republicans offered hundreds of amendments to the bill, and Democrats accepted hundreds of them in hopes of gaining Republican support. But, when it came to the final vote, not a single Republican voted for the bill in the House or the Senate.

That set a pattern that continues to this day.

Senate GQP (Grand QAnon Party) leader, Moscow Mitch McConnell has stated repeatedly that his primary goal is to stop the Democratic agenda at any cost. When Republicans are in the minority, he repeatedly calls for bipartisanship. But when Democrats have control, he ramrods through Republican bills and nominations at record speeds, decrying any attempts at negotiation as obstruction. One need look no further than McConnell’s actions on the Senate Supreme Court confirmations of Merrick Garland and Amy Coney-Barrett to confirm his hypocrisy and his contempt for bipartisanship.

As if those two examples are not enough to make the point, consider the recent votes on a bill calling for a bipartisan commission to investigate the insurrection of January 6. After Democrats agreed to each of the House Republican’s demands, both parties announced that they had reached a deal on May 14, 2021. Then, on May 18, the day before the bill was to come up for a vote, House GQP leader Kevin McCarthy announced his opposition to the bill. And hours before the House vote, Moscow Mitch followed suit. As a result, only 35 Republican House members broke ranks to vote in favor of creating the commission.

The fate of the commission now hangs in the balance in the Senate where, given the filibuster, 10 Republicans will have to demonstrate their independence from Moscow Mitch and vote for bipartisanship. Unfortunately, that is very unlikely.

One can’t help but compare the GQP to Lucy in the Peanuts cartoon series and Democrats to Charlie Brown. Despite assurances that they will hold the football this time, the GQP continues to withdraw support at the last instant, leaving Democrats to whiff and fall onto their backsides. Though contrary to their instincts and their desire for the kind of bipartisanship needed to solve our nation’s problems, it’s time for Democrats to give Republicans a dose of their own medicine.

Bipartisanship is not possible now that one of the parties has become a belligerent and autocratic cult.

Stop Calling Senator Joe Manchin A Centrist!

For more than 40 years, the Republican Party has moved further and further to the right until 2020 when it dived right off the political spectrum into a delusional abyss. What once was a political party that believed in free markets and fiscal restraint has, over time, become anti-government, anti-immigrant, anti-abortion, white nationalist, pro-gun, pro-violence, and pro-fascist. And, since 2016, it has become a cult of Trump – the willing accomplices of a conman and crime boss.

By contrast, since the 1950’s, the Democratic Party has experienced relatively little change. It has long believed in the power of government to do good. To help people by providing safety nets, retirement funds, healthcare access, and social justice. Unlike the GQP, it believes in protecting working people from predatory corporations and the wealthy. It promotes worker safety, living wages, freedom, human rights, and democracy. And it holds fast to the principles of the Constitution. (The real Constitution. Not some 18th Century interpretation conflating the Constitution with the Articles of Confederation.)

As you can see, there really is no middle ground.

With such a gaping canyon between the two parties, what is there to negotiate? What is the compromise between fascism and democracy? Between discrimination and compassion? Between dying and living?

How then can anyone, like Manchin, claim to be a centrist? Clearly, what Manchin has become is a self-serving obstructionist. A pawn the GQP can use to stop any form of progress. By refusing to consider ending, or even modifying, the filibuster, Manchin and his sidekick, Kyrsten Sinema, stand in opposition to voting rights, racial justice, gender equality, a thriving economy, a healthy environment, and a healthy climate.

If you want a term that more accurately describes Manchin, I’d recommend “opportunist” because he’s relishing his newfound attention and power. Or, if you’d prefer a term that describes his political ideology, I’d suggest “conservative.” He more accurately fits in that category than the GQP politicians who long ago abandoned it.

The “Both Sides Are At Fault” Myth.

Faced with the political climate in our country, it’s popular for media and individuals to blame both Republicans and Democrats alike. As the story goes, the division is driven by the extreme wings of both parties.

Really?

Consider this: One party promotes policies. The other promotes hatred and fear. One party wants more people to exercise their right to vote. The other wants to make voting more difficult. One party embraces diversity. The other wants to suppress it. One party wants to pass laws to end gun violence. The other wants to pass laws to sell more guns. One party wants to end discrimination. The other promotes it. One party focuses on policies to make lives easier. The other focuses on conspiracy theories. One party wants equal justice. The other wants authoritarianism.

One party looks out for the poor. The other looks out for the wealthy. One party wants to increase wages for working families. The other wants to increase corporate returns. One party wants to make products and workplaces safer. The other wants to end regulations. One party wants to eliminate corruption. The other party excuses it. One party believes in science. The other party denies it. One party believes its opponents are wrong on policy. The other party believes its opponents are socialist, communist, and/or cannibalistic pedophiles. One party believes in democracy. The other does not.

When Democrats lost a presidential election, they believed was stolen, they accepted the Court’s ruling for the good of the country. When Republicans lost a presidential election they believed was stolen, they descended on our capitol in open and violent insurrection.

While the Democratic Party has steadfastly remained the party of equality and social justice. The “Party of Lincoln” has become the party of hate.

Republicans have excused and encouraged violence by armed militias, white supremacists, and other hate groups. At the urging of Republicans, OAN, Fox News, NewsMax, and talk radio have become open sewers of misinformation, disinformation, and hateful rhetoric. Based on Republican promises to end abortion, evangelical Christian churches have abandoned the teachings of their namesake to push cruel and discriminatory policies. Under Republican leadership, the US Congress packed the courts, corrupted the Census, and perpetuated thousands of lies.

So, spare me the bs that both parties are at fault. The Democrat and Republican parties are not the same. Not even close.

Repairing A Broken Police System.

Though evidence of the breakdowns in policing have been constant (Daunte Wright, Caron Nazario, George Floyd, Breona Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Sandra Bland, etc., etc., etc.), change has been painstakingly slow. So, what can we do to prevent unnecessary deaths and provide equal justice under the law? To begin, let’s look at the reality of policing in the US:

1 – Only 6.7 percent of police calls involve a possible crime. The vast majority of 911 calls involve welfare checks, trespassing, homelessness, drug abuse, and mental health issues.

2 – It requires relatively little training to receive certification for law enforcement in the US. Although some police departments require a college degree in criminal justice, others simply require candidates to complete basic training. Much of that training consists of classroom work and military-style discipline (inspections, marching in file, and firearms training). There are no national standards.

3 – US police officers receive less training than many of their international counterparts. In Germany, for example, recruits are required to spend up to 4 years in basic training. By contrast, US recruits may receive as little as 20 weeks of basic training.

4 – The focus of policing is on solving crimes more than preventing them. The old-fashioned beat cop is increasingly rare. Further, many officers do not live in the community they serve. As a result, police departments often don’t reflect the racial, ethnic, and gender make-up of their communities.

5 – Despite what we see on TV and in movies, police solve relatively few violent crimes. According to Pew Research, in 2019, police solved just 45.5 percent of the violent crimes reported to them and only 17.2 percent of property crimes. Only one-third of reported rapes are solved.

6 – Law enforcement is less dangerous than many other professions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, logging, deep sea fishing, piloting aircraft, roofing, waste collection and recycling, truck driving, farming, construction, and even landscaping are more dangerous. Working as a law enforcement officer ranks 19th, yet most police officers are armed to the teeth.

Now let’s look at how we can change policing to become more effective and less costly:

1 – Create a separate department to respond to non-criminal, non-violent calls. There are several successful alternatives to police. In Eugene, Oregon, a program called CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets) has operated successfully for nearly 30 years. 911 calls are triaged. If the call does not involve criminal behavior, the dispatcher sends a two-person team that consists of a medical professional and a mental health professional. The focus is on de-escalating situations and providing needed help rather than the threat of incarceration.

2 – Improve hiring and training of officers. Institute national standards for all law enforcement. Those standards should require the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree. They should also include a battery of psychological tests plus training in de-escalation, and race relations. Additionally, they should include training for non-lethal responses to offenders who are armed with weapons other than guns.

3 – Improve training of dispatchers. Dispatchers should be skilled in triaging and clearly preparing first responders for what to expect. Poor communications can lead to poor results. For example, a 911 caller reported a young man pointing a gun at passersby but noted that it could be a toy, a detail not relayed to responding police officers. As a result, a young boy was shot and killed while playing with his airsoft gun.

4 – Reduce the number and lethality of weapons on the street. Thanks to the NRA and gun manufacturers, police must assume everyone they encounter represents a deadly threat. Fewer guns will result in fewer deaths of citizens and police. It would also help police to solve violent crimes by demanding registration of all guns and ammunition so they can be tracked to the perpetrators of crimes.

5 – Rely on technology for most traffic control. Using so-called redlight cameras to control speeds and most other traffic violations will prevent racial profiling and relieve police officers from many of the encounters that can turn deadly.

6 – Refocus prisons on rehabilitation of inmates. Prisons should not be mere warehouses for offenders or finishing schools for criminals. They should offer more programs to prepare prisoners for their return to polite society. It is well-known that such programs can reduce crime and recidivism.

7 – Expand mental health facilities and destigmatize mental health issues. Suffering a mental health crisis is not a crime. It should be treated like any other health problem.

8 – Eliminate or reduce poverty. Poverty is not a crime. But it, too often, leads to interactions with law enforcement, such as failure to pay traffic fines, failure to purchase licenses and required drivers insurance, as well as homelessness. In too many cases, it leads to drug abuse as a form of escapism resulting in encounters with law enforcement.

9 – Decriminalize the use of illicit drugs. Substance abuse is a medical issue and/or a mental health issue that cannot be solved by law enforcement.

We cannot know if implementing such measures will solve all the problems. But we do know what doesn’t work – the system we have now.

America’s Racism On Full (And Constant) Display.

Even as the world is transfixed by the Derek Chauvin trial in Minnesota (a trial to decide if Chauvin was guilty of murdering George Floyd), we continue to see other examples of police abuse of black and brown people. In the past few days, video evidence of police mistreating a black man in a military uniform has come to light. And, while Americans were still recoiling in horror at seeing police pepper spray and cuff the man at gunpoint over his supposed failure to display a temporary vehicle license, we saw a young black man shot and killed by a white policewoman over expired license tags and an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror.

Unfortunately, such events have become increasingly common.

In Texas, a young black woman named Sandra Bland died in jail over failure to signal a lane change. In Ohio, a young black man named John Crawford III was shot and killed by police in a Walmart for carrying a BB gun he intended to purchase. In California, it took police 10 seconds to shoot and kill a 13-year-old Latino who was carrying a pellet gun. Likewise, it took police just seconds to kill a 12-year-old black boy for playing with a toy gun in a Cleveland park. In Phoenix, a 14-year-old Latino was shot and killed while holding an air soft gun. In Detroit, a 13-year-old black boy named Tamir Rice was killed for playing with an air soft gun.

In Georgia, a black man named Ahmaud Arbery was hunted and killed by a former police officer and his armed friends while jogging. And, in Kentucky, a black woman named Breona Taylor was shot and killed in the middle of the night in her own home while police were executing a no-knock warrant.

To our nation’s great shame, the number of such examples are far too numerous and far too widespread to list. Yet, despite the publicity and efforts to hold police accountable, the number of events has not diminished. Indeed, they seem to be increasing. And far too many Americans look to blame the victims rather than the officers. They dig through the victims’ criminal history, their drug use, their failure to comply with officers’ unreasonable demands.

By contrast, we see white people treated much differently by police.

Just months after a peaceful crowd of Black Lives Matter protestors were confronted with excessive violence by large numbers of police and National Guard while peacefully protesting in Washington, DC, the almost entirely white crowd of violent insurrectionists who invaded the Capitol were able to overwhelm an undermanned and under-equipped police presence. Even after hours of mayhem and destruction, which resulted in 5 deaths and injuries to more than 140 police officers, the combatants were allowed to simply walk away. In fact, some police actually offered a helping hand to insurrectionists so they could descend the steps and bleachers without injury!

The white insurrectionists resorted to violence based on the lie that the election was stolen from their preferred presidential candidate despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Imagine what those same people might do if they believed they were unfairly stopped for minor traffic offenses; if they were subjected to humiliating searches and excessive fines; if they were subjected to excessive force; or if they were killed for a misdemeanor. Imagine if their communities tended to dismiss their complaints and, instead, displayed signs supporting the police. Imagine, if every time they went to court, their entire lives were put under a microscope in search of any past transgression that could be used against them. Imagine if they found it more difficult to find a job than others. Imagine if they were paid less. Imagine, if they were underrepresented in Congress, in state legislatures, on city councils, on police staffs, and it courts. Imagine if draconian laws were put in place to make it more difficult for them to vote. And imagine if that treatment continued for generations.

Then, and only then, would they have an understanding of what it would be like to be part of a minority.

The sad truth is, in the US, equality simply does not exist. Not for black and brown people. Not for Asian and Pacific Islanders. Not for immigrants. Not for Native Americans. Not for women. Not for people of different sexual persuasions. Not for people of different religions.

It is long past time for that to change. It must change if our ongoing experiment with democracy is to survive!

Our Broken Criminal Justice System.

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

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

Why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our court system is equally at fault.

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

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

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

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

Welcome To The GQP.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The End Of Precedent. The End Of Justice.

From its beginning, US law, following that of the United Kingdom, has been based on legal precedent – that the outcome in one case is binding or persuasive in the outcomes of subsequent cases with similar circumstances.

However, in recent years, conservatives have increasingly chosen to ignore precedent. That is certainly true in the case of the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, the unleashing anonymous political donations by Citizens United, and the weakening of abortion rights as established by Roe v. Wade. In each case, conservative justices on the Supreme Court of the United States have decided that their conservative political views outweighed precedents previously established by the Court.

Similarly, the US Senate under Moscow Mitch McConnell has ignored long-established precedent to steal two seats on the Supreme Court.

In the entire history of the US, there have been four previous vacancies on the Court that occurred between July 1 and a presidential election. In three of those cases, beginning with Abraham Lincoln, the president refused to nominate a judicial candidate to fill the open seat until after the inauguration of the next president. In the other case, the president nominated a candidate. But the Senate refused to hold hearings on the nomination until after the election.

In addition, there have been nine vacancies on the Court between January 1 and July 1 of the same year of a presidential election. In eight of those cases, the president nominated judicial candidates who received Senate hearings and were confirmed. The lone exception is President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland, which was blocked by Moscow Mitch who claimed the vacancy occurred too close to the election and should be held open for the next president to fill.

Now we come to the vacancy created by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

For the first time in history, the Senate under the leadership of Moscow Mitch has vowed to confirm and seat a nomination by Donald J. Trump before the election. Precedent and Justice Ginsburg’s dying wish be damned.

This win at all costs mentality has become a hallmark of Trump, McConnell and the GOP. Rather than following precedent and principle, they choose to divide. Trump has blamed Democratic governors and blue states for his own failures, even going so far as to prioritize PPE for red states. He then stated that if it were not for the pandemic deaths in blue states, the administration’s response to the pandemic would look much better. Indeed, that fits the pattern of the entire GOP. When in power, GOP officials almost entirely dismiss the opinions and wishes of their political opponents. They initiate voter suppression measures and gerrymandering to hold onto power. And, when in the minority, they routinely resort to parliamentary tricks to block Democratic initiatives.

It is this mentality that is responsible for the increasingly violent political division in the US. How can you debate policy issues and achieve consensus when only one party is willing to come to the table?