The 2025 Project: A Republican Plan To Destroy Democracy.

When it comes to the destruction of our democracy, Donald J. Trump is only a symptom. The real killer is revealed only when you look at the Republican Party in its entirety.

Once hailed as the Grand Old Party of emancipators led by Abraham Lincoln who saved the nation from being cleaved in two, by the 1960s, the party had reversed roles with the southern Democrats of the Confederacy and took on a win-at-any-cost philosophy. In doing so, it embraced racist, anti-government white Christian nationalists. It began pandering to large, multi-national corporations and it rigged the economy for the benefit of billionaires.

It also engaged our nation in unnecessary wars and war crimes. It abandoned polite public discourse, replacing it with cruelty and a determination to “own the libs.” And, in 2016, it elected a demagogue who used the presidency to enrich himself and his family, and who eventually orchestrated a desperate, unconstitutional attempt to stay in power.

Yet, as bad as that Republican Party has been for most Americans, the latest version is even worse!

Lest you think that’s mere hyperbole, consider The Heritage Foundation’s 1,000-page 2025 Project – a plan to deconstruct the federal government, to free corporations (especially those in the fossil fuel industry) from regulations, and to give the next Republican president almost unlimited power.

Under the 2025 Project, Republicans would fire more than 50,000 federal employees and replace them with party loyalists. In addition, they would drastically shrink or eliminate numerous federal agencies altogether. Among those agencies would be the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy’s renewable energy office, the Department of Education, the Department of Justice, and the FBI.

All of this would free corporations to pollute and cheat at will. It would end most efforts to address climate change. It would overturn the rule of law, ending prosecutions of those Republican officials who committed felonies surrounding January 6th while ginning up prosecutions of Democrats under false pretenses.

It would abolish diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. It would roll back protections for workers. It would funnel most taxpayer-based education funding into private schools. It would allow the president to take control of the FCC and, therefore, the media. It would almost certainly institute a draconian nationwide ban on abortion. And it would allow the Republican president to dodge Senate confirmation of cabinet members.

With a Republican president and a government full of Republican workers subjected to loyalty tests, there would be none of the guardrails that saved our nation from dictatorship during the Trump administration.

Terrifyingly, the plan calls for the federal government to be transformed within 180 days of the inauguration of a Republican president!

Voting for Trump or one of his mini-me Republican presidential candidates would be akin to voters forming a suicide pact to destroy our democracy and the world economy. It would almost certainly plunge the world into an economic depression. And it would likely fill the streets with millions of protestors who would be met with violence from Trump’s various armies of domestic terrorists.

To be clear, the 2025 Project is not just the imagination of The Heritage Foundation, former Trump officials, and Trump enablers. It is being heralded by a host of rightwing organizations, most Republican presidential candidates and, by extension, most Republican voters.

It’s not a plan to improve the federal government, to improve our democracy, or to improve the lives of working Americans. It won’t help ordinary Americans realize the American Dream.

It’s a plan to enshrine racism, homophobia, transphobia, and cruelty. A plan to replace our form of government with an autocracy similar to Putin’s Russia where industries and the nation’s resources are controlled by oligarchs chosen by whichever Republican occupies the White House. And where the outcome of elections is predetermined by whoever is in power.

Voters need to understand that a vote for a Republican in 2024 is a vote for the 2025 Project – the political equivalent of swallowing the poisoned Kool-Aid at Jonestown.

“I Dislike The Man. But I Like His Policies.”

Really? What policies are those? Is it Trump’s racism as displayed by his support of white supremacists and his hatred of Black Lives Matter? Is it his racist verbal attacks on Latino migrants? His cruel separation of children from migrant families?

Are those the policies you like?

Or maybe you like his attacks on the LGBTQ community? His misogyny? His utter contempt for any but the most beautiful women? His admitted and proven sexual assaults?

Is that what you like?

How about his tax cuts for billionaires which added trillions to the national debt? Or perhaps you like his policy of using political office to enrich himself and his family at taxpayer expense?

Are those the policies that excite you?

Or maybe you enjoyed watching him kissing the rings of some of the world’s worst autocrats while showing disregard for our longtime allies?

Maybe what you really like is watching Trump and his evangelical supporters take away Americans’ personal freedoms while imposing their Puritanical beliefs on non-Christians? Or maybe what floats your boat is watching him politicize government to reward allies while punishing political opponents? (Though Biden hasn’t weaponized government agencies, Trump most certainly did.)

Do you like his ignorance of climate change? His disdain for laws and norms? His arrogance? His refusal to concede defeat? His open disregard for the Constitution and our democracy? Or his attempts to overturn a free and fair election that has, thus far, resulted in four criminal indictments?

Those must be the policies you like because there are no discernable others.

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.

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.

Contempt Of Court.

OPEN LETTER TO CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS:

In case you are blissfully unaware, a growing majority of Americans have lost faith in your court – the result of your “conservative” members being anything but conservative, engaged as they are in overturning decades of legal precedent. Your court continues to take fabricated cases dreamt up by anti-American rightwing ideologues – the most recent based on false information – to take away rights from American minorities and to legalize discrimination.

In doing so, your court seems to ignore the very preamble of the Constitution and creates a caste system in which the rich and powerful receive protections not afforded to those groups who need them most.

Further, as disgusting as it is to see your Catholic majority politicize the court in an attempt to force its religious views on others is the manner in which it’s done – in the dark of night as part of your shadow dockets or at the end of a session so your ethically-compromised “justices” can sneak back into their hidey holes (or some billionaire’s private jet) before the judgments are revealed.

At 77 years of age, I had long respected, even revered the Supreme Court. No longer! For your court, I, like a growing majority of Americans, have nothing but contempt.

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 plead 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 plead 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 plead 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 plead 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 hit with a $10 million lawsuit by a former aide for sexual assault and unpaid wages. He’s also 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 pleaded 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 seditions 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 pleaded 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 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.)

 

Examining The Arguments Against Abortion.

Abortion has become a simplistic catchall term for a wide variety of health care procedures for women, many of which don’t involve the removal of a healthy fetus. Yet the anti-abortion activists would have you believe that any intervention involving a woman’s uterus or reproductive system is against God’s will.

They imply that all abortions are undertaken merely for selfish reasons. That the woman is too lazy or immature to prevent pregnancy through the use of contraceptives or that she simply views pregnancy as inconvenient.

These are intentionally simplistic narratives that have been carefully crafted to invoke emotions. The activists want you to believe that all abortion is murder. That all women who consider terminating a pregnancy are evil. And that all doctors who come to their aid are “baby killers.” To that end, they pass laws giving the unborn the same constitutional laws as fully developed humans who are no longer connected to an umbilical cord.

To make their point, they inundate you with images of smiling babies and healthy fetuses along with (usually false) information about when a fetus’s heart begins beating. And when it is capable of feeling pain.

Given the misleading information, it’s easy to see why so many people recoil at the notion of ending the development of such sweet innocent “children.” But would they feel the same way if the anti-abortion activists told them the fetus was the result of rape or incest? Would they feel the same way if the activists showed images of unviable fetuses developing without lungs, without a digestive system, without brains, without skulls, or without other body parts necessary to sustain life? Would they feel the same way if shown images of a festering mass of dead cells that endangers the life of the woman?

Would they feel the same way looking at images of ectopic pregnancies? Of zygotes, blastocysts, or molar cysts? Would they feel the same way if they were told the only chance for a fetus to live is for the woman carrying it to die?

The answer to most of these questions is no. Maybe that’s why 61 percent of Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases according to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center.

Nevertheless, a minority of Americans (mostly men) believe they know better. They tell you that life begins at conception. And that any intervention with that life is against God’s will. They tell you that even the use of the morning after (aka Plan B) pill is murder. Some even go so far as to claim that any form of contraception is also interfering with God’s will.

For me, such beliefs raise some obvious questions: First of all, how do they really know what is God’s will? Which God? It’s only some Christian denominations that have taken official stances against abortion. Yet there is no mention of abortion in the Bible. In fact, the Old Testament tells us that life begins with the first breath.

Moreover, if you use the anti-abortionists’ logic, would not invitro fertilization (IVF) be against God’s will? Shouldn’t that be banned? And for the arrogant men opposed to abortion, what about ED? Isn’t the use of boner pills also against God’s will?

Using the anti-abortionists’ same flawed logic, wouldn’t most forms of health care treatment be against God’s will? If a micro-managing God controls every aspect of life on Earth as many suggest, aren’t most ailments, diseases, and accidents deigned by God? So, why not ban all other types of health care along with abortion?

The truth is abortion – all abortion – is health care. Nothing more. Nothing less. No religious or government body should meddle with it other than to ensure its safety. Such health care decisions should only be made by the patient with advice and assistance of a physician. Not by fascist politicians.

CNN’s Suicide Pact With Trump.

The outcome of CNN’s effort to pander to the disgraced, twice impeached, indicted, and proven sexual assaulter was all too predictable. Giving him sole access to an hour of primetime in which he could be surrounded by his admirers and mainline his lies directly into the homes of gullible American voters was everything he could have hoped for. After all, it was his celebrity treatment by the media that helped pave his way to the White House in 2016.

Trump’s CNN Town Hall wasn’t journalism. It wasn’t news. It was little more than a misguided attempt to prop up CNN’s ratings and repair its reputation with Trump’s fascist supporters.

Why else would “The most trusted name in news” debase itself in such a manner?

It seems that CNN’s new CEO (and former employee of CBS) has taken heed of a statement made about Trump in 2016 by former CBS Chairman and CEO Les Moonves: “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.”

Sure, the CEO could defend his decision by claiming it was the type of Town Hall offered to other leading political candidates. He could dismiss criticism by arguing that CNN was providing a service by reminding viewers of the former president’s prolific ability to lie. But, in reality, CNN merely allowed him to wallow in the adoration of his supporters who were carefully selected to be part of the live audience. It also allowed him to bask in their laughter and applause as he bullied and demeaned the journalist assigned the unsavory task of asking him questions and trying to fact check his tsunami of lies.

The resulting Trump infomercial shows how far “the most trusted name in news” has fallen.

For me, the network’s plunge in credibility is particularly painful. My former ad agency helped promote cable in its infancy by creating the National Cable Consortium. In doing so, we helped CNN and other networks gain footholds in millions of American homes. Wednesday night’s spectacle made me regret those efforts. Of course, there’s little I can do about it now except to personally relegate CNN to a status only marginally higher than that of Fox.

I will eliminate CNN from my viewing habits until they once again earn my trust. I’ve already deleted its website from my bookmarks. And, in order to hold the network accountable, I encourage others to do the same. There are many other media that hold themselves to a higher standard of journalism.

In doing so, I am struck by the fact that CNN first earned its popularity and reputation for its coverage of China’s brutal crackdown of the democracy movement in Tiananmen Square and our first war against Iraq which was fought to stop a brutal dictator. It’s ironic that its coverage of a wannabe US dictator and his attack on our democracy has irreparably damaged that reputation.

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.