The Greatest Challenges Of The 21st Century.

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

Here they are in ascending order of difficulty:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It doesn’t have to be this way!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But there’s a much darker side to AI.

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

AI could eliminate millions of jobs making humans essentially obsolete.

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

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

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

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.

Criticism Is Not Antisemitism!

After the inhumane October 7 attacks on Israeli civilians by the militant faction of Hamas, it seems that some believe any criticism of the Israeli government’s long-standing mistreatment of Palestinians and its mass bombings of Gaza is antisemitic.

It represents the same kind of twisted accusations leveled against me and others for criticizing the US government during its misguided war in Vietnam. Being appalled by the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinian civilians does not make one antisemitic any more than criticizing the Vietnam war made me un-American. And though it may be unpopular to criticize Israel’s conduct of its war on Hamas, I believe it’s important to add context to the situation.

The truth is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been festering since 1948 with no solution in sight. And though Israel’s long-standing occupation of the West Bank and its siege of Gaza does not excuse the horrendous crimes committed by Hamas (nothing can), the untenable conditions under which Palestinian refugees have been forced to live has paved the way for the rise of Hamas and its terrorism.

Consider the fact that the population of Gaza consists of Palestinians who were forced to leave their homeland during the 1948 war in addition to generations of their descendants. Consider that, since the occupation of the West Bank, Israeli “settlers” have continued to harass and kill Palestinians in order to force them off their land. (According to the UN, more than 500 Palestinian men, women and children living in the West Bank have been killed by Jewish settlers this year – most before the October 7 attacks.)

Or consider the fact that Palestinians living within the Israeli borders have fewer rights than their Israeli counterparts. And, because they are not permitted to serve in the Israeli military, they do not qualify for many of the higher-paying jobs.

But perhaps the most grievous treatment of Palestinians is the Israeli concept of administrative detention. That’s the term given to the process of detaining individuals indefinitely without charges, without trials, and with no opportunity to defend themselves. Some have never even been told why they were being detained.

Of the more than 1,300 being held, it was reported that about half had been held for longer than 6 months. Many were children as young as 12. Indeed, according to Save The Children, between 500 and 1,000 such children are held in Israeli custody each year. A majority reported being beaten and strip searched.

They may have been detained for straying too close to the Israeli-Gaza border, for waving a Palestinian flag, for saying something an Israeli found offensive, or for throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers (a crime that could receive a maximum sentence of 20 years). And those are the lucky ones. Before the current war, an Israeli general admitted that IDF forces were under standing orders to shoot at the legs of child rock throwers!

These are the hostages released by Israel as part of the hostage exchange during the temporary ceasefire.

During that exchange, US media waited breathlessly to report every detail of the hostages released by Hamas. What was their condition of health? How were they treated? Where were they held? But few US media showed any curiosity about the hostages released by Israel.

If they had, they might have discovered that Palestinian families were not even allowed to celebrate the return of their loved ones or to publicly display any signs of joy.

One of the great ironies of the moment is that, while many innocent Palestinian civilians are being held under questionable circumstances, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is free despite facing criminal charges for corruption.

Does any of this excuse Hamas’ horrendous attacks? Of course not. They are to be despised, hunted down, and brought to trial for crimes against humanity. They must be held accountable. But so, too, must the Israelis who commit war crimes in return.

And when the dust from this war settles, we must find a way for Palestinians to finally enjoy freedom and self-governance. And to give both the Palestinian and Israeli people the safety and security they deserve.

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.

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.)

 

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.

What Is The Truth Worth?

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

Journalistic excellence? Riiight!

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

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

It simply can’t afford to.

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

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

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

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

It’s Time To Start Using The F Word.

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

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

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

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

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

This America may be even worse!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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