Trump Is No Martyr.

He’s the victim (and the beneficiary) of the hate he himself created.

From the beginning of his presidential ambitions, violence and talk of violence have been a feature, indeed the central theme, of Trump’s rallies and his administration.

He has aimed his hatred at immigrants and refugees, at Muslims and people of color, at Mexicans and Latinos, at Chinese and other Asians, at liberals and Democrats, even at the infants and children of immigrants.

And at the end of his administration, he inspired his followers to violently attack police, members of Congress, and his own vice-president.

Trump encouraged his supporters to rough up protestors at his rallies. He ordered federal agencies to attack non-violent demonstrators to clear the streets for his photo-op of holding a Bible upside-down in front of a church he never attended.

He embraced violent gangs like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. He expressed absolutely no regret for his supporter’s brutal attack on Paul Pelosi. As an attention-seeking playboy of the 80s, he paid for a full-page ad calling for the execution of the Central Park Five – five innocent young black men falsely accused of a horrific crime.

And now he stands to benefit from an apparent assassination attempt by a member of his own hateful political party. As a result of the attack, some media have already pronounced him the winner of this year’s presidential election.

Why?

Trump very much created an atmosphere of hatred, violence and political division. He and his allies are responsible for thousands of death threats against political rivals, election workers, judges, prosecutors, law enforcement, the LGBTQ+ community, and others. They have created Project 2025, a 900-page plan for a fascist, autocratic government that will take power should Trump once again occupy the White House.

Of course, that doesn’t mean he deserves to die from the violence he created. But he sure as hell shouldn’t benefit from it! From the assassination attempt, he only suffered a scratched ear and the embarrassment of falling out of his 3- inch lift shoes while one rally-goer was killed, and others critically wounded.

Save your sympathy for them and others who deserve it.

Who’s Next On The MAGA Hit List?

Following World War II and the Holocaust, a German Lutheran pastor named Martin Niemöller wrote, “First, they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”

As Donald J. Trump and his MAGA supporters continue to expand their enemies list, that sentiment is a clear warning for today given the number of organizations and people Trump and his MAGA supporters have targeted for retribution should he return to the White House. And it’s expanding daily.

  • Barack Obama who Trump claims is not a natural born citizen and, therefore, unqualified to hold the office of President.
  • Immigrants who became the primary targets on the day Trump first announced that he was running for office. Of course, he later separated immigrant children from their parents as a cruel form of deterrent. (If re-elected he plans to detain more than 12 million immigrants, including Dreamers, and confine them to internment camps before deporting them.)
  • Mexico, which he blames for the immigration problem and the fentanyl crisis. (He has claimed that he will bomb Mexican drug labs and invade Mexico if re-elected.)
  • Hillary Clinton for whom he repeatedly led chants to “Lock her up!”
  • Women for whom he would deny reproductive health care, including contraception. (It appears he considers them worthy of his attention only if they meet his beauty standards and he can grab them between the legs and have sex with them whenever he wants.)
  • Wind turbine manufacturers and operators because he claims wind turbines kill birds and cause cancer. (His hatred of them is more likely the result of Scotland installing wind turbines off the coast of one of his beloved golf courses.)
  • Any media that are not members of the MAGA propaganda network, most especially CNN, NBC, MSNBC, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.
  • Truth. Trump has proven to be one of the most prolific liars in history. Indeed, the media and various factcheckers documented more than 3,000 lies he told during just his four years in office.
  • Gold Star families, POWs, as well as dead and wounded soldiers, who he labeled “suckers and losers.”
  • The Lincoln Project and other “disloyal” Republicans who refuse to support Trump.
  • The Libs, the Elites and the Woke. In other words, any progressive, caring person who disagrees with his cruel, discriminatory and corrupt politics.
  • Non-Christians as determined by his Christian Nationalist base and the delusional Christian evangelicals who see him as “chosen by God.”
  • The LGBTQ community, particularly transgender individuals who Trump and his supporters see as aberrant and an afront to God.
  • NATO and our longtime allies who Trump believes cheat the U.S. and stand in the way of Putin’s Russia.
  • Black Lives Matter and Antifa (antifascists) who dared to demonstrate against racism, police brutality and Trump’s armed bullies (the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers).
  • Ukraine, which he tried to strong-arm into opening a phony investigation into his political opponent – Joe Biden – before the 2020 election.
  • Scientists who continue to raise alarms over the climate crisis and those who encouraged vaccinations, social distancing, and shutdowns during the Covid19 pandemic, especially Dr. Anthony Fauci.
  • The United States Postal Service that delivered the mail-in ballots for Biden.
  • Election officials, both Democrat and Republican, who ensured the rights of all citizens to have their votes accurately counted, especially in the states Biden won.
  • Former officials and aides, such as John Kelly, Gen. James Mattis, Gen. Mark Milley, Gen. H. R. McMaster, Sarah Matthews, Stephanie Grisham, and Cassidy Hutchinson who acted as guardrails during his administration and/or revealed the true depths of his depravity.
  • Former V.P Mike Pence, who refused to go along with Trump’s attempted coup on January 6, 2021.
  • President Biden for daring to deny Trump a second term by winning the 2020 election.
  • Anyone connected with the House January 6 Select Committee, especially Nancy Pelosi and the two Republican members: Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. Trump would also pardon all of the criminals (in his words “Patriotic Warriors”) who have been convicted of brutalizing police and defacing the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to keep Trump in power.
  • The entire justice system that has dared to try to hold Trump accountable for his many crimes. Those targeted for special retribution are special prosecutor Jack Smith, New York Attorney General Letitia James, New York District Attorney Al Bragg who led the hush money investigation, Georgia DA Fani Willis who led the investigation of Trump’s election conspiracy, as well as the Attorneys General in Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin for seeking justice against fake electors.
  • Judges, jurors, witnesses and complainants in the legal cases against Trump, especially Judge Kaplan, Judge Merchan, Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels, and E. Jean Carroll.
  • Many authors and their books. MAGA groups such as Mom’s for Liberty and Trump’s Christian Nationalist supporters continue to ban books on any and all subjects they find distasteful, such as any reference to sex (excluding, of course, the Bible), slavery, Jim Crow, and the history of indigenous Americans.
  • The U.S. Constitution. Trump has announced a second term would be “post-constitutional.” He seems especially frustrated by freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and the 14th, 15th, 16th, 19th, and 22nd Amendments. Moreover, he and his MAGA supporters would like to end direct elections of the President and the Senate by placing the outcomes in the hands of state legislatures. That would almost certainly ensure Republican control for generations.
  • The Federal government as we know it. As part of Project 2025, Trump would fire up to 50,000 federal workers and replace them with MAGA loyalists. He would eliminate the Department of Commerce and the Department of Education. He would slash funding for the Department of Justice and basically dismantle the FBI along with the Department of Homeland Security placing them largely under his control. He would also end the independence of other federal agencies such as the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Public schools. In addition to eliminating the Department of Education, Trump would institute universal school “choice” which would redirect taxpayer funds to private and religious schools.
  • Democracy. Trump has long expressed his admiration for dictators, strongmen and thugs. He and his MAGA followers have little interest in free and fair elections. They want to decide who can vote and who wins. Their only real interest is gaining power and keeping it, democracy be damned.

As you can see, Trump’s enemies list is long. And, if you’re not on it, he and his supporters will likely be coming for you soon.

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.

RIP GOP.

Long ago, the Republican Party was the party of liberals – a political party that fought for abolition of slavery, fought to hold the nation together, and fought for civil rights. In the 1950s and 60s under Eisenhower, it was the party of growth. And, over time, the party evolved into the party of limited government, limited regulation, and business.

It’s difficult to imagine that history, given where the party currently stands.

Today’s Republican Party created the Department of Homeland Security, the federal government’s second-largest government agency – second only to the Department of Defense. And, instead of striving to reduce government meddling into an individual’s private affairs, the party now encourages it.

Republicans now want to use government to tell Americans how to pray, what to believe, who to love, what to read, what pharmaceuticals they can take, and what they can do with their own bodies. They have also busied themselves with reinterpreting the Constitution. According to them, the Separation Clause requiring separation of church and state doesn’t exist. Neither does the first phrase of the Second Amendment – “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state…”

According to the GOP, the Second Amendment cannot be restricted or regulated. But other freedoms in the Bill of Rights – free speech, the freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and the right to assemble – must be restricted to meet its own narrow vision of liberty.

Indeed, it seems the GOP is no longer interested in policy or democracy.

It no longer cares about solving problems for ordinary working citizens to make their lives better or safer. It has no interest in human rights, addressing climate change, or promoting democracy globally. It makes no effort to persuade a majority to vote for its candidates. Rather, it resorts to voting restrictions, voting suppression, and partisan gerrymandering. And, given its calls to defund the FBI and the DOJ for prosecuting those involved the attempted coup on January 6, it obviously no longer cares about law and order, as if it ever really did. (In fact, its previous calls for law and order were really racist dog whistles aimed at civil rights protestors.)

What drives the GOP today are conspiracy theories (Democrats stole the 2022 election, vaccines make you sterile, the FBI and DOJ have been weaponized against Republicans, Democrats are cannibalistic pedophiles, etc.). Most of all, Republicans are driven by power and hatred – hatred of science, hatred of intellectuals, hatred of the LGBTQ community, hatred of minorities, hatred of immigrants, hatred of the left.

In reality, the Grand Old Party no longer exists. Today’s Republican Party now seems to be a combination of the John Birch Society, white supremacists, narrow-minded “Christian” evangelicals, and outright fascists. And its overarching strategy is to keep ordinary Americans fighting against one another, so they can push through legislation that benefits millionaires, billionaires, multinational corporations, and themselves.

Weaponization? Or Justice?

Republicans would have you believe that the Biden administration has unfairly weaponized the FBI and DOJ to pursue charges against its political opponents. As a result, the House “Freedom Caucus” created a Weaponization Committee to investigate the matter. They are furious that Trump has been indicted and that more than 1,000 insurrectionists have been arrested.

Never mind that, unlike his predecessor, President Biden has taken a hands-off approach to all matters before the Department of Justice. Or that Attorney General Garland appointed an independent special counsel to investigate credible allegations against Trump. Or that the indictments were recommended by grand juries comprised of ordinary citizens.

The GOP should know better than to claim weaponization. After all, Republicans have become experts at weaponizing the government over a period of many decades.

Do you not remember Trump’s campaign promise to “Lock her up?” Do you not remember Republican-appointed FBI director Comey announcing the reopening of the investigation into Hillary’s emails months before the 2016 election? Do you not remember the Trump investigation of the Clinton foundation? Benghazi? Hunter Biden?

Have you forgotten the 7-year investigation into the Clintons – Whitewater, Travelgate, Troopergate, Lewinskygate, etc., etc., etc.? Going back even farther, how about Nixon using members of his administration to break into the offices of the DNC in an attempt to rig the 1972 election?

More recently, the GOP House majority censured Congressman Adam Schiff for simply doing his job and leading the first impeachment of Trump for attempting to shake down Ukraine for dirt on his political opponent. Is that not weaponization of government?

Sure, when Democrats controlled the House, they did push the Trump DOJ into an investigation of the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia. But there were many excellent reasons for doing so. The resulting special counsel investigation led by Robert Muller who was appointed by the Trump DOJ found evidence that Russia hacked the DNC and DCCC websites and shared the information with eager Trump campaign officials. The investigation led to 37 indictments and 7 convictions or guilty pleas. Mueller also identified multiple incidents of obstruction by Trump that would have led to charges if Barr didn’t believe that a sitting president is above the law.

House Democrats also impeached Trump twice. But that wasn’t an attempt by Democrats to weaponize the justice system. That was an attempt to serve justice!

If you want to see what weaponization of the justice system really looks like, wait until the next time Trump or another Republican sits in the Oval Office.

America’s Number One Crime Family.

For those of you who have not been keeping track, following is a list of charges, civil suits and investigations into Donald J. Trump (aka El Chumpo or Cheeto Benito) and his associates:

  1. Trump – Subject of a special counsel investigation into his 2016 campaign’s collusion with Russia. Although he and his Attorney General reported that he had been exonerated, that was not the conclusion of the Mueller Report. In fact, the report found much evidence of collusion, including dozens of contacts between campaign officials and Russian officials. The Mueller Report also noted numerous instances of potential obstruction of justice AG Barr refused to pursue.
  2. Trump – Impeached for denying foreign aid to Ukraine in order to force Ukraine to open an investigation into Trump’s 2020 political opponent.
  3. Trump – Impeached for inciting the insurrection of January 6, 2021.
  4. Trump – Found guilty of sexual assault and defamation against E. Jean Carroll. The day after the jury award of $5 million, Trump repeated the same defamatory statements on CNN’s “town hall” and is currently facing a lawsuit for $10 million.
  5. Trump – Indicted in New York for directing hush money payments to two women in order to cover up his extramarital affairs prior to the 2016 election, a charge for which his former attorney Michael Cohen was sentenced to prison.
  6. Trump – Indicted on 40 counts related to illegally retaining classified and Top-Secret documents under the Espionage Act and for obstruction of justice. Some of the documents are nuclear weapons secrets so sensitive, not even a sitting president can declassify them.
  7. Trump – A special grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia reportedly found cause to indict him of interfering with Georgia’s election. He is expected to be indicted in July or early August.
  8. Trump – Indicted in Washington DC on 4 counts, including obstruction and conspiracy for his actions in trying to overturn the 2020 election.
  9. Trump Companies – Found guilty of tax fraud in New York.
  10. Trump University – The “university” purported to teach the secrets of success in the real estate industry was sued by students who claimed they were duped. The lawsuit was settled for $25 million.
  11. Trump Charity – In 2019, the “charity” was shuttered, and Trump was court-ordered to pay $2 million for misusing charitable funds for his 2016 presidential campaign. The settlement also called for mandatory training for the foundation’s directors: Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Eric Trump.
  12. Trump – Numerous violations of the emoluments clause of the Constitution in which Trump solicited and received money from foreign dignitaries at his Washington D.C hotel.
  13. Michael Cohen – The Trump lawyer and fixer served time in prison for covering up Trump’s extramarital affairs with two women by paying them hush money at Trump’s direction.
  14. Allen Weisselberg – The Trump Companies CFO is serving time in prison for tax fraud.
  15. Michael Flynn – Trump’s campaign official and first National Security Adviser pled guilty to making false statements to the FBI regarding the Russia investigation. He was pardoned by Trump.
  16. Steve Bannon – Former CEO of Trump’s 2016 campaign and White House strategist, Bannon was indicted in 2020 for defrauding donors as part of a crowdfunding campaign to build the border wall. He was pardoned by Trump. Then in 2021, he was convicted by a grand jury for contempt of Congress for refusing to appear and testify about the January 6 insurrection. He is awaiting sentencing.
  17. Rick Gates – Trump campaign adviser pled guilty to charges of conspiracy against the U.S. and lying to investigators during the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
  18. Paul Manafort – Trump campaign chair and manager found guilty of tax fraud and bank fraud. He later pled guilty to charges of money laundering, witness tampering and illegal lobbying. He was pardoned by Trump thereby avoiding a 7-1/2-year prison sentence.
  19. George Papadopoulos – Trump campaign adviser pled guilty to lying to FBI agents regarding his contacts with prominent Russian officials during the campaign. He was pardoned by Trump.
  20. Roger Stone – The Trump campaign adviser and Proud Boys whisperer was indicted on 7 counts, including lying to Congress, obstruction of an official proceeding and witness tampering related to the Muller investigation. He was convicted and sentenced to a 3-year prison term. His sentence was commuted, and he received a full pardon from Trump. On January 5th, he was photographed with his bodyguard, an Oath Keepers leader who was convicted of seditious conspiracy.
  21. Rudy Giuliani – “America’s Mayor” and Trump crony has been found guilty of defaming two Georgia election workers. He was also hit with a $10 million lawsuit by a former aide for sexual assault and unpaid wages. In addition, he’s facing disbarment proceedings.
  22. George Nader – A foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, he was indicted and agreed to a plea deal for child pornography and transporting a minor for sex. Sentenced to 10 years in prison.
  23. Elliot Broidy – A fundraiser for Trump’s 2016 campaign and Trump’s inauguration, Broidy pled guilty to a secret lobbying campaign in which he collected millions of dollars. He was pardoned before Trump left office.
  24. Jeffrey Epstein – Trump denied knowing Epstein. Yet it seems he was a longtime friend and associate of Trump’s. Indeed, there are numerous photos of the two together, including at least one showing them with underage women. Epstein and his girlfriend were both convicted of sex crimes involving underage women.
  25. Tom Barrack – Indicted on seven counts for allegedly using his relationship with Trump to allegedly “advance the interests of and provide intelligence to the UAE while simultaneously failing to notify the Attorney General that their actions were taken at the direction of senior UAE officials.” He was later acquitted on all charges.
  26. Proud Boys – Four members of this violent group which supports Trump were found guilty of seditious conspiracy for their actions on January 6. A fifth member was found not guilty of seditious conspiracy charges but was also sentenced to prison.
  27. Oath Keepers – Three members of this far right extremist group and an associate were convicted of seditious conspiracy. All four are now serving prison terms.
  28. January 6 Insurrectionists – More than 1,000 of Trump supporters who assaulted police, smashed their way into the U.S. capitol, and threatened the Vice-President and Congress have been charged. Thus far, more than 476 have pled guilty.
  29. Fox News Channel – Pundits and guests on the GOP propaganda channel repeatedly made false and outrageous claims about Dominion and Smartmatic voting systems alleged participation in “stealing” the 2020 election from Trump. Fox eventually settled Dominion’s defamation case for $787.5 million. Smartmatic is suing Fox for $2.6 billion.
  30. Mike Lindell – The pillow guy, Trump supporter, and conspiracy theorist is being sued by Dominion for defamation. In this case, Dominion is seeking $1.3 billion in damages. And after a cyber expert took up Lindell’s challenge to debunk Lindell’s election data and won, Lindell was ordered to pay the $5 million prize offered.
  31. Jeffrey Clark – Federal investigators searched the home of the former Trump DOJ official regarding his role in pushing false claims over the 2020 election. No charges have yet been filed.
  32. Jared Kushner – Prior to the GOP taking control of the House of Representatives this year, the House Oversight Committee was investigating Saudi Arabia’s mysterious $2 billion deposit in Kushner’s investment firm. The transaction is particularly questionable given Kushner’s lack of experience as an investment adviser and his relationship to the former U.S. president.
  33. John Eastman – As a result of his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, Eastman is facing disbarment proceedings.
  34. Sidney Powell – Like Eastman, the former Trump attorney is also facing possible disbarment for her actions following the 2020 election.
  35. Lin Wood – Another Trump attorney and election denier who chose to retire rather than face disbarment.
  36. Trump Cabinet Members – At least seven of the 24 members of Trump’s Cabinet were accused of abusing their perks of office. VA Secretary David Shulkin took a taxpayer-funded minivacation following two conferences in Europe. HUD Secretary Ben Carson ordered $31,000 worth of custom furniture for his office. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke used military helicopters for personal use. HHS Secretary Tom Price used taxpayer money to fund nearly $500,000 in charter flights. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin used military aircraft for personal trips, including his European honeymoon. Attorney General Jeff Sessions not only reportedly lied under oath about his Russian contacts during the 2016 election, but he also ordered a secure phone room installed in his office (for private conversations with the Russians?). EPA Secretary Scott Pruit eschewed government policy by flying First Class instead of Coach. And, of course, Trump himself famously bilked the federal government by spending most weekends at his golf resorts and overcharging the Secret Service for rooms.
  37. LIV Golf – The DOJ has opened an investigation into the merger of the Saudi-backed golf league with the PGA. Not only do the Saudi’s have ties to 9/11 and the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. The Trump family stands to benefit from the merger as a result of its ties to the Saudis.
  38. Russian Troll Farm – The Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll farm, was indicted for interfering in the 2016 election on behalf of Trump.
  39. Russian Military Intelligence Officers – 12 officers were indicted for numerous phishing attacks used to steal files from the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign then sharing them with the Trump campaign. They were also indicted for attempting to hack state elections websites.

In addition to the current and pending cases, it seems likely that others in the Trump family will be investigated, including Trump’s adult children: Donald Trump Jr, Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner.

And, if members of the 2016 Trump campaign had not used encrypted messaging, there almost certainly would have been additional criminal charges stemming from the Russia investigation.

Should Trump or one of his imitators and enablers be elected in 2024, we will likely see a crime spree that makes this pale by comparison. Indeed, it may well have global implications for the future of democracy and, as a result of their denial of the climate crisis, the future of our planet.

(NOTE: This post has been updated to include additional criminal charges and proceedings.)

 

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.

Treat Trump Like A Winner.

Reality Winner, that is, the 6-year Air Force veteran, recipient of a commendation for meritorious service, and former contractor for the National Security Agency who was sentenced to 5 years and 3 months in federal prison, plus 3 years of supervised released.

What horrible crime did she commit?

She was convicted of violating the Espionage Act of 1917, 18 U.S.C. § 793(e) for sharing a classified document with The Intercept. That document revealed that Russia had interfered with the 2016 presidential election on Trump’s behalf through a cyberattack on a US election software provider and spearfishing emails to more than 100 election officials. Without Winner’s actions, US voters may never have learned of Russia’s interference.

In other words, Reality Winner acted as a whistleblower in service to the American citizenry.

Contrast her actions with that of our deposed president and dictator wannabe who was found to have stashed 700 classified and top-secret documents at his home in Mar-a-Lago. The FBI search warrant used to search his home cited the very same charge as Winner. The difference is that Winner was trying to perform a public service. And Trump was almost certainly expecting to profit off our nation’s secrets.

There is also a substantial difference in the threat that the two represent. The classified material that Winner exposed could not reasonably be considered a threat to national security. On the other hand, the material Trump hoarded represents our nation’s most highly guarded secrets, including information about our nuclear arsenal and our human assets (spies) working undercover around the globe. Such documents should have never been removed from a SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility), let alone stored in a resort frequented by dozens of members including foreign nationals.

So, to paraphrase the MAGA chants of 2015 and 2016: Lock him up! Our nation’s security may depend on it.

America Can No Longer Be Called Home Of The Brave.

Ask most Americans to quote the 2nd Amendment and they’ll recite some version of “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged.” But that is only half of the Amendment. The full Amendment states: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged.”

Reading it in its entirety completely changes the meaning of the Amendment.

Yes, it gives you the right to own and bear arms. But only as a member of a well-regulated militia. You see, when the 2nd Amendment was adopted in 1791, the United States had disbanded the Continental Army and relied entirely on state militias for national defense. That’s because the framers of the Constitution were wary of a standing army, fearing that it could be turned against the people. As a result, their intent was for each state to maintain a militia to defend against all threats both foreign and domestic. The idea of such volunteer militias originated with the nation’s very first European settlers. For instance, in Jamestown under the guidance of Capt. John Smith and in Plymouth Colony under Myles Standish, every man was responsible to own arms and to regularly train as part of the militia.

That is the definition of “well-regulated militia.”

In no way did the framers of 2nd Amendment intend for Americans to own weapons of war in order to shoot each other. They certainly didn’t intend for domestic terrorists to stockpile weapons in order to attack political opponents and legally elected officials. And they would be horrified to know that a corrupt interpretation of the Amendment is responsible for more mass shootings annually than there are days in the year!

According to Gun Violence Archive, nearly 20,000 Americans are killed each year by homicide or accidental shootings. Nearly 40,000 more suffer wounds – many of them horrific and debilitating. And nearly 25,000 Americans use guns to commit suicide.

No other nation has anywhere near this level of gun violence. But, then no other nation has so many guns. In fact, there are now more guns in the hands of American civilians than there are people! That total includes more than 638,000 legally owned machine guns, nearly 20 million AR-15-style assault rifles, an almost incalculable number of handguns, and a growing number of untraceable ghost guns (many with so-called Glock switches that can easily convert a semiautomatic handgun into a fully automatic machine gun). The weaponry available to civilians even includes .50 caliber sniper rifles that can blast a hole through a cast iron engine block. Is it any wonder then that our police have become so militarized? In far too many crimes, they are outgunned.

Given all this, one has to ask: Why? What has gone so terribly wrong? What are Americans so afraid of? What happened to the home of the brave?

Perhaps those best suited to answer that question are the leaders of the GOP and the NRA. After all, they are the ones who have spent the last 40-plus years promoting fear in order to get elected and to sell more guns. They have worked overtime to eliminate any restrictions to carrying guns. Through their sleazy ads and propaganda networks, they have convinced many Americans to fear criminals, to fear people of color, to fear immigrants, to fear the LGBTQ community, to fear the UN, to fear their own elected government, and, most of all, to fear Democrats and those who would impose common sense gun restrictions.

Yet, for all the violence driven by fear, there are many other factors to consider. Not the least of which is the Cowboy mythology of the white-hatted hero winning a shootout with a villain. This is the myth that led to the NRA’s self-serving statement that “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Therefore, their argument goes, guns are necessary for self-defense.

However, anyone with a comprehensive understanding of self-defense can tell you that guns are seldom used for defense. They are offensive weapons. Consider this: What use is a gun when a bad guy already has one aimed at you? As for most active shooter events, if numerous people on the scene are holding guns, in the chaos of the moment how are the police supposed to tell which gun owner is the real threat?

While some would have you believe that our gun violence is caused by mental illness and the separation of church and state, those are mere distractions. Certainly, mental illness plays a role. But if the gun proponents believe that is the primary cause of gun violence, why have Republicans methodically cut funds from mental health services? (Before the Uvalde school shooting, Texas Governor Abbott cut $211 million from the state budget intended to provide greater access to mental health services.)

Bullying, poverty, broken homes, social media, and disinformation have also contributed to our problem. But the real issue – the elephant herd in the room – is the ever-increasing availability and lethality of guns!

The Frightening Descent Of The Court We Once Held Supreme.

Many of us grew up with great respect for the highest court in the land. We did not always agree with its rulings. But we always respected them because we knew they were considered judgments based on the law.

The current version of the Court is different. Very different.

Contrary to the protestations of Alito, Roberts, and Thomas, the Court has been made highly partisan. Certainly, there have been periods of partisanship in the past. But none quite like this. It began when Republicans were enraged that Robert Bork was not confirmed by a Democrat-led Senate due to his role in firing the Special Prosecutor assigned to the Watergate investigation. Never mind that the Senate’s refusal to confirm Bork was justified, Republicans threw an absolute hissy fit that continues to this day.

Republicans became further incensed when Democrats contested the nomination of Clarence Thomas based on Anita Hill’s credible allegations of sexual impropriety. The fact that the ethically challenged Thomas was married to and influenced by a far-right extremist and activist was lost in the controversy. And we’ve been paying for that oversight ever since.

As it became clear that the Court’s rulings dramatically lurched to the right, Thomas, Scalia, and Alito all portrayed themselves as “originalists.” They seem to view the Constitution as a static document that should be viewed from the perspective of 1788 when it was ratified by the original 13 states.

Yet these “justices” always seem willing to reinterpret the Constitution to benefit Republicans.

In recent years, Republicans have accelerated the Court’s descent into blatant partisanship. The GOP-controlled Senate blocked hearings on Garland’s nomination to replace Scalia for purely partisan reasons claiming that, since it was eleven months before a presidential election, the decision to fill the Court’s vacancy should be left to the next president. Then, when Trump won, the GOP began searching for judicial nominees who would be willing to bend the rule of law to benefit the Party and to overturn Roe v Wade. They rammed through three Supreme Court nominees, the last just weeks before the 2020 presidential election.

Such choices were a payback to evangelicals – people who can’t tell a zygote from an embryo from a fetus – for supporting the GOP’s ever-present culture wars against school integration, against interracial marriage, against contraception, against gay rights, against gay marriage, against sex education, against racial equity and, of course, against abortion.

Despite angrily denying their obvious partisanship, conservatives on the Court have made their partisan views public as featured speakers at numerous Republican and conservative “Christian” gatherings. And the leaked opinion by the Court’s five conservatives as expressed by Alito is the most obvious display of partisanship yet. They have gone out of their way to impose the beliefs of evangelicals and the GOP on all American women. Further, Alito’s draft opinion sets the stage for taking away other rights, including all of those at the heart of the GOP culture wars.

His opinion, if adopted as is, would enable his cult (aka the Republican Party) to transform the nation in ways unlike any previously experienced in American history.

For example, prior to Roe v Wade, women were seldom prosecuted for having an abortion. Those women who could afford it, would ask their doctors for a procedure called a D&C to terminate their pregnancies. Those who couldn’t afford such niceties would either seek a dangerous abortion in some back alley or take things into their own hands by employing coat hangers or acid. Or they might simply throw themselves down a flight of stairs. Apparently, that was seen as punishment enough by the Puritan crowd, since only the abortionists themselves were charged with crimes.

But, in this era of theological and ideological vengeance, it seems that no punishment for women is draconian enough. According to the current GOP anti-abortion bills, women will be arrested and jailed for terminating a pregnancy. So, too, will anyone who advised or enabled them. And every woman who has a miscarriage will be under suspicion.

What’s next on the GOP agenda? Burning women at the stake?