We May Have Already Lost Our Democracy.

If you believe we dodged a bullet on January 6, 2020, you are most certainly correct. But the outcome of the insurrection is still very much in doubt. Forget Trump 2024. He will likely already be in prison by that time. At very least, he will be banned from holding office.

The real threat is the five-vote radical majority in the Supreme Court.

Flexing their newfound muscle, Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Thomas have already agreed to hear a case that could give state legislatures the power to choose the winners of elections. All they need is to convince the Trump-appointed Coney-Barrett to help them further gut our Constitution.

In the most extreme Republikkkan-controlled states, that would mean legislatures could overturn the will of the people if they don’t like the election outcome. Given such power in 2020, states like Arizona would have almost certainly handed the presidency to Trump. And, given that a majority of the states are currently GOP-controlled, that could ensure a never-ending chain of Republikkkan presidents, regardless of the popular vote.

Unfortunately, we have precious few ways of preventing such an outcome. We can call for the four justices who perjured themselves during their Senate confirmation hearings to be impeached, so that a new court majority can overturn the most egregious of this court’s decisions. But impeachment convictions are unlikely to pass the 60-vote threshold in the Senate.

That leaves us with only the ballot box at our disposal. In the coming mid-term election, everyone who wants to preserve our democracy must repudiate the radical right by voting for solid Democrat majorities in both the US House of Representatives and in the US Senate. Congress can then go about the process to codify reproductive rights, privacy rights, and same-sex marriage rights, as well as strengthening voting rights for all Americans.

This is the only means certain to prevent our nation from becoming a failed democracy further controlled by theocrats, autocrats, and plutocrats. (If you don’t know the definition of these terms, I suggest you look them up. Because no matter your political or theological beliefs, if they gain even more control, you will wind up holding the short end of the stick.)

What Happens When Those Unwanted Fetuses Become Unwanted Children?

As the theocrats and pro-birthers are celebrating the court decision to overturn Roe v Wade, I can’t help but focus on the consequences of that decision. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are approximately 630,000 abortions in the United States each year. Many are for medical reasons to save the life of the woman. Many are because the fetus was not viable and could not live if brought to term. Presumably, the rest could have become living, breathing children. Children who, for a variety of reasons, were unwanted by the women who conceived them.

What if all of those fetuses were born? Certainly, though an economic and emotional burden to their mothers, some would be cared for and loved. Some would be given up for adoption to loving families. But more than you can imagine will live in poverty or worse – many victimized, abused, or abandoned. And tens of thousands would be placed in foster care, a system that is already overwhelmed and underfunded. (The foster system currently contributes, on average, less than 50 percent of what it costs a family to raise a foster child.)

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, there were 407,000 children in the foster care system at the end of 2020. These kids face a daunting future. Many blame themselves for having been removed from their birth parents. Many want to return to their birth parents, even if those parents have abused them. Some are similarly abused by their foster parents.

Many foster kids feel lost and helpless. Those who are waiting for adoption feel unwanted. Many are shuttled from one foster family to another. Most feel insecure and uncertain about their futures, as well they should. That’s because, each year, 23,000 of foster kids age out of the system without finding permanent families. Approximately 45 percent of those kids will become homeless within a year. A significant percentage will end up jobless and on public assistance. And at least a quarter of them face a disproportionate risk of becoming incarcerated within two years of leaving foster care. In fact, nearly 20 percent of our prison population spent time in the foster care system.

Not surprisingly, the children of color who will be born as a result of the “Supreme” Court’s forced birth decision will face more challenges than whites. According to the Juvenile Law Center, “Black children are around twice as likely to be placed in foster care as white kids. Because black kids are already subject to disproportionate rates of school discipline and criminalization, being a foster youth compounds this risk. Foster youth, particularly girls, are targeted by sex traffickers, and the criminalization of sex work can funnel these victims of modern-day slavery into the criminal justice system.”

So, when all of you pro-birthers are done celebrating, get ready to open your homes and your bank accounts. Thanks to your efforts to overturn Roe v Wade, there are going to be a hell of a lot of kids who will be counting on you.

We Have Entered The Realm Of Theocracy.

For some people, churches are a blessing. They feel the need for pastors to guide them, to minister to their emotional needs, to provide hope, to tell them how to behave, and they look to congregations for support. But, in my opinion, having once considered becoming a pastor myself, organized religions are little more than social clubs. Like all clubs, they have clubhouses, they perform initiations, and they collect dues (tithes).

Most use symbols (crosses, fish, stars, crescents, etc.) to make it easy to identify one another. Some push a form of exclusivity, encouraging their members to do business with one another, to date one another, and to marry one another. Implicit in all of this is either a conscious or subconscious belief that the followers of their particular club are superior to others. That only through following the path of their club can people reach heaven and everlasting happiness.

Some of these clubs have made celebrities of their leaders, showering them with obscene wealth and submitting to their every wish.

Throughout history, these clubs have inevitably ventured into local, national, and international politics. They have not only gone to great lengths to recruit new members, often sending recruiters (missionaries) around the globe. Too often, they have forcibly pushed their beliefs onto others. They have relied upon their feelings of spiritual superiority to justify the torture and exclusion of anyone who strays from the path of righteousness, to excuse the rape of children and women, to justify the subjugation of others, the taking of land, and the taking of slaves.

They have labeled non-believers as heretics and, by implication or direct order (ostensibly from God), encouraged their members to kill those who refuse to submit. Indeed, many wars, genocides, and ethnic cleansings have resulted from the notion that one club’s beliefs are superior to those of others – the heathens and infidels.

Today, despite the 1st Amendment of the Constitution stating, “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion,” many Christian club members demand that the U.S. be declared a Christian nation. They demand that symbols and scriptures of their beliefs be displayed on public taxpayer-provided property. Ignoring the law that prohibits churches from engaging in political activity, they openly campaign for candidates that will empower them. Despite our constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion (and, by implication, freedom from religion), they demand that all taxpayers help pay for their children’s’ religious education in club-approved schools. And the most extreme are willing to force others to comply with their demands under threat of violence.

Yet, in Matthew 6:6 of the Christian Bible, Jesus is said to have admonished his followers to avoid being like the hypocrites. “For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others.” To, instead, communicate with God in private. “…to enter into a closet and pray to thy Father; and thy Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Though it’s obvious that anyone can engage in silent prayer anywhere and at any time, many of Jesus’s supposed followers now demand that their children be allowed to display their faith in state-sanctioned prayers at public schools, on the football field and elsewhere.

And now, having engaged in a decades-long effort to seize the levers of power, the most extreme of these religious clubs have used that power to, once again, claim control of women’s bodies – more specifically, their uteruses. We must not allow this to stand. We cannot permit one or more of these clubs to control our government, to decide which of us are worthy of enjoying the rights and freedoms enumerated in our Constitution, to decide what a woman can do with her own body in the privacy of her own home or in her doctor’s office, to decide who can marry, to decide when, where, how, and who to worship.

There was a reason why our nation’s founders included the Establishment Clause in the Constitution’s 1st Amendment. Many of the original colonies had anointed certain religions to give them supremacy over all others. In Massachusetts, Puritans persecuted Quakers and anyone else who refused to submit to their strict beliefs. In much of the rest of New England, Congregationalists prevailed. Maryland was originally Catholic. And in many southern colonies, the Church of England was supreme. Colonial governments not only provided direct aid to these established churches through taxes. Their officeholders were often required to take oaths to support the tenets of the established faith.

Recognizing the injustice of such demands and remembering that their own families escaped religious persecution by coming to America, the constitutional framers created the Establishment Clause as a virtual wall separating church from state. We must jealously guard that separation. As churches have become larger and more powerful, we must rein in their political activities. We should tax them like the social clubs they really are, only providing tax write-offs for truly charitable activities. We must no longer allow them to divide us. We must hold those who use their pulpits to preach discrimination and hate accountable. We must reject their attempts to wrest individual rights from others.

We must take back our federal and state governments from the theocrats and the wannabe autocrats.

An Open Letter To The Once Supreme Court Of The United States

I know that I speak for many Americans when I say that I no longer respect the court that I once believed supreme in regard to the wisdom of its legal rulings and interpretation of the Constitution.

In recent years, the conservative majority has ruled that money equals free speech, that corporations have the rights of people (giving executives and boards of directors both individual and corporate rights), that free speech does not include the right to boycott, that the separation of church and state does not extend to taxpayer funding of religious schools and, as the leaked document indicates, that a woman no longer has the right to privacy concerning her medical treatment and conversations with a physician.

The court’s most recent ruling seems to be based on an originalist reading of the 2nd Amendment, noting that its wording gives citizens the right to “keep and bear arms.” But what about the rest of the Amendment’s wording: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State”?

If the majority so strongly believes in the Framers’ original intent, why not rule that all males of a certain age must provide their own arms and order them to muster at designated times for training as my colonial ancestors were required to do?

I can only assume that it is because that reading does not fit the political ideology of the conservative majority.

Therein lies the problem. Many of us can no longer hold the court supreme because it has become utterly and hopelessly political. Unlike every other court in the land, this once supreme court has no code of ethics. A number of the justices have taken speaking engagements with highly partisan groups. Some have refused to recuse themselves from decisions in which they have a conflict of interest. And the wife of one justice has deeply engaged in a seditious attempt to overturn the results of an election.

In virtually every nation that has become a failed democracy, it has done so with the complicity of its judicial system. I now fear, with this court’s aid, that will be the future of the United States.

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?

Why You Should Take Tyrants At Their Word.

In the 1970s and 80s, after looking at the nation’s changing demographics, Republicans embraced southern racists still angry at having lost the Civil War and furious with forced integration of schools. Around the same time, they also crafted a deal with far-right evangelicals – people like Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, Kenneth Copeland, Jim Baker, John Hagee, and Pat Richardson. The deal was that this so-called “Moral Majority” would deliver votes in exchange for the GOP embracing their cruel and hateful ideas, including a ban on abortion.

This unholy alliance resulted in the daily picketing of clinics, harassment of women seeking abortions, distribution of home addresses and license plates of clinic personnel, the bombing of clinics, and the murder of abortion providers.

Through it all, the GOP platform and most GOP candidates called for an end to abortion. They began stacking the courts with anti-abortion judges and they prayed for the deaths of liberal and moderate Supreme Court justices. They passed draconian laws in GOP-led states like Texass that would imprison women for having an abortion, even if they traveled to another state where abortion is legal or if they ordered abortion pills online.

Most of the GOP’s current or pending laws make no exception for victims of rape and incest. They have made it clear that they will not help feed the children of forced births. They will not provide them with healthcare. They will not even agree to pay for improvements to our already over-stretched and disastrous foster care system.

In reality, the GOP is pro-birth. Not pro-life.

And given the fact that a significant majority of Americans, including Republicans, favor reproductive freedom, this is truly tyranny by a minority. Yet many of you, much like the cancer stricken notorious RBG who refused to resign when a Democratic president could appoint her successor, failed to act. You simply assumed they couldn’t take away a woman’s reproductive freedom.

It took them 50 years but, through a combination of legislative tricks to steal a SCOTUS seat and to hypocritically fill another one, they have apparently succeeded. You didn’t need a crystal ball to see it coming. They told you what they would do if they gained control of the Court.

And if you take these same people at their word, they won’t stop there.

They have openly talked about banning contraception, gay marriage, inter-racial marriage, LBGTQ rights, and affirmative action. They have tried to take away public school funding, Social Security, and Medicare. Even the freedom to practice religions other than Christianity, the right to assemble, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the rights of certain minorities to vote are on the line.

It doesn’t matter that most Americans disagree with Republicans and evangelicals on these issues. They have a plan to seize permanent control of our government. They may have failed on January 6, 2021, but, if you listen to them, they haven’t given up. The only way to stop them is to vote while you still can – in the midterms and beyond. To end this pending nightmare and the collapse of our democracy, they must be convincingly and overwhelmingly repudiated.

America At War With Itself.

Some say that if our nation fails, it won’t be the result of a foreign attack. It will, instead, be the result of our own undoing. No, I’m not necessarily referring to the threat Donald J. Trump and his supporters pose to our democracy. Certainly, they are a very real threat. But a far greater threat is the aftereffects of the NRA having loosened our nation’s gun laws, which have resulted in an increasing number of Americans killing each other and themselves.

According to GunViolenceArchive.com, there were 44,868 US gun deaths in 2021 – 1,225 more than in 2020 and 5,306 more than in 2019. In fact, according to Snopes.com, there have more gun deaths in the US since 1968 than there have been in all of America’s wars combined!

And it’s likely to get worse.

In 2018, Small Arms Survey reported that US residents owned more than 393 million guns – 120.5 firearms for every 100 Americans. And rightwing anarchists (aka the GOP) have been stockpiling weapons and ammunition at an ever more alarming rate in anticipation of going to war with our own government. Their purchases rose sharply following the election of America’s first black president. And they have ramped up again following the electoral defeat of Trump.

As if to place an exclamation point on those facts, several months ago, I began receiving unwelcome emails from a company selling kits with all the parts needed to assemble ghost guns (guns without any identifiable serial numbers). To make matters worse, many of the parts are made from polymers that can’t be picked up by metal detectors. The Ohio company’s sales pitch is “build and carry,” another way of saying you won’t need a permit or background check to carry our guns. And since many of these gun kits are being purchased anonymously using cryptocurrency, they are virtually untraceable, giving a whole new meaning to the words “conceal and carry.”

It should come as no surprise, then, that nearly 24,000 ghost guns were recovered from crime scenes between 2016 and 2020.

Perhaps even more worrisome is the fact that ghost guns have been embraced by the far-right antigovernment crowd, which has been stocking up on them in its preparations for the coming “storm” – a euphemism for civil war. But if the war comes, it almost certainly won’t be in the form of an all-out attack against government troops. Having learned from asymmetrical warfare in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the failed January 6 insurrection and previous federal takedowns of domestic terrorist groups, the seditious “militias” such as the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and Boogaloo Bois are more likely to use a series of so-called lone wolf attacks to accomplish their goals. That will make it far more difficult to prosecute their organizations. And their use of encrypted communications and ghost guns will make it more challenging for law enforcement to track down the perpetrators.

Combine such easy access to untraceable guns with the NRA’s constant attacks on gun restrictions in cities and states and the threat of gun violence grows exponentially. Indeed, as I write this, there’s a case before the US Supreme Court that could overturn Washington, DC’s ban on carrying guns outside the home within our nation’s capital. To emphasize the growing threat, Everytown for Gun Safety recently released the results of a new study on gun deaths. The study found that California, Hawaii, New York and Massachusetts – the states with the strictest gun laws and some of the most densely populated cities – have the lowest rate of gun deaths. By contrast, the states with the most permissive gun laws – Louisiana, Missouri, Wyoming and Mississippi – have the highest rate of gun deaths.

More guns equal more gun deaths? Who would have thought? (Sarcasm very much intended.)

Of course, all of this should come as welcome news to America’s foreign enemies. Indeed, they might be encouraged to reduce their military budgets and hold off on any terrorist plans in the works. After all, why bother to attack our government when it’s already under attack from within? Why waste resources on planning to kill Americans when they can just sit back and watch us kill each other?

The GQP’s Decades Long, Multi-Pronged Assault On Democracy.

If you think the insurrection ended on January 6th, I regret to inform you that it was only the tip of the proverbial autocratic iceberg. In fact, the billionaires have been working to undermine our democracy for more than 60 years. And they haven’t stopped now.

In one of history’s greatest ironies, Charles Koch, James McGill Buchanan, Jr. and the remnants of the John Birch Society used the Supreme Court’s 1954 decision to desegregate schools in Brown v. Board of Education to co-opt the Republican Party – the political party that had ended slavery. Since then, they have spent hundreds of millions to undermine our federal government and democracy itself.

Hiding under the cloak of the Republican Party, they have tried to starve the government of the funds it needs to serve the people. Through large donations, they corrupted law schools and university economics programs to teach their political views. Once they gained control of the Supreme Court, they pushed for legal opinions to equate money with free speech (Buckley v Valeo) and to equate corporate rights with those of individuals (Citizens United v FEC) to better fund their operations. That resulted in an avalanche of dark (aka dirty) campaign money to help elect like-minded candidates.

Shouting liberty and freedom, they eroded common sense regulations designed to protect Americans. They repealed the FCC’s Fairness Doctrine which unleashed their propagandists (Fox News, OANN, Newsmax, and rightwing radio hosts) to use mass media to deliver and repeat their many hateful lies. And recognizing that it’s more difficult to win elections when more people vote, they have implemented a decades long attack on voting rights with strict ID laws, reduced voting hours, reduced numbers of polling places, and restrictions for mail-in voting.

Believing it’s easier to control state governments than the federal government, they created ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) to provide conservative legislators with “model” bills that are written by and for large corporations. To spread fear of the federal government, they embraced the NRA to expand gun ownership and to create even more fear. When cities passed ordinances to regulate short-term rentals, to ban plastic bags, and to protect undocumented immigrants, they passed laws to pre-empt cities’ self-rule.

As they filled Congress with anti-government zealots and conspiracy theorists, they have continued to cut taxes for corporations and the wealthy causing the nation to descend into a plutocracy. They have used the filibuster to block most legislation that would benefit ordinary working people. Once they got a wannabe autocrat into the White House, they used him to further cut taxes, cut regulations, sell-off oil-drilling rights and mineral rights on protected lands, and to pack the courts with partisan judges.

To ensure Trump and their other candidates would maintain control of the government, they tried to extort a foreign government into opening a false investigation into the Bidens. They purged voter registrations and replaced the postmaster to slow the pandemic-created avalanche of mail-in ballots. When that didn’t work, they tried to get state election officials to find enough votes to change the election outcome. They continued to promote the idea of massive voter fraud which resulted in the January 6 insurrection in a violent attempt to block the certification of electoral votes. Even now they continue to contest the election results by claiming that China dumped thousands and thousands of ballots into the states Trump lost and that Italy had hacked electronic voting machines.

Even more concerning is that Trump’s disgraced National Security Advisor and Qanon conspiracy theorist, Michael Flynn, has called for a Myanmar-style military coup!

So, the choice is no longer between Republican and Democrat. It is now between autocracy and democracy.

The Self-Defeating Politics Of Now.

Now that President Biden has completed his first 100 days in office, a number of special interest groups have expressed their frustration that he has not yet fixed all of the nation’s problems. Of course, it’s to be expected that Republicans are upset with the Biden administration. But many of his supporters are also unhappy.

For example, organizations representing the immigrant community believe that the Biden administration has not moved quickly enough to reunite children with their families after the Trump administration’s separation policy. They believe that unaccompanied children have not been moved out of holding facilities quickly enough. And they are frustrated that Biden has not yet introduced an immigration reform bill.

Likewise, the environmental community is upset that Biden has not yet banned fracking or ended fossil fuel subsidies. They believe he has not moved quickly enough or far enough to mitigate climate change. The groups against gun violence are frustrated that Biden has not pushed strongly enough for gun control and assault weapons bans. The black community is frustrated that more has not been done to fight voter suppression, police brutality, and systemic racism. Other groups believe that Biden should have already expanded the Supreme Court to offset the seat stolen by Mitch McConnell and the GQP, that he should have held fast to the $15 minimum wage in the American Rescue Plan, that he hasn’t eliminated college debt, that he hasn’t shared enough COVID-19 vaccines with developing countries…the list is long and growing.

Some of these groups have even threatened to end their support of Democrats in the next election!

Have they forgotten who created all of these problems in the first place? Have they forgotten that it was Republicans who ripped immigrant children from the arms of their parents and failed to keep track of them? Have they forgotten that Republicans support and are supported by the gun lobbies? Have they forgotten that the voter suppression bills have all been sponsored by Republicans? Have they forgotten that the Trump administration embraced white supremacists? Have they forgotten the rampant corruption within the Trump administration? Have they forgotten that the Trump administration failed to react to the pandemic, costing more than 575,000 American lives? Have they forgotten that the GQP violently invaded our Capitol in an attempt to overturn the results of a free and fair election?

At the same time, these people seem to have ignored what Biden has done.

In his first 100 days, Biden signed more than 60 executive orders to overturn some of the Trump administration’s most heinous actions. His Rescue Plan has helped bring the economy back from the brink. His vaccination plan has made COVID-19 vaccines available to more than 200 million Americans. He has reopened negotiations with Iran to keep Iran from building nuclear weapons. He has restarted foreign aid to Central American nations to reduce the need for their citizens to emigrate to the US. He has sanctioned Russia for its interference in our elections and its cyberattacks. He has announced an end to America’s longest war. He is sending vaccines and aid to India, the country hardest hit by COVID. He overturned the Trump administration’s discriminatory ban on transgender Americans serving in the military. He has stopped the deportation of US military veterans who had agreed to serve as a way of gaining citizenship. And that’s only a partial list of his accomplishments in the first 100 days.

These groups, which have been given voice by the media, would do well to remember that the Trump administration refused to cooperate during the traditional transition period – the roughly 10-week period between the election and the inauguration – a period that included a GQP attack on democracy. So, in reality, Biden’s first 100 days were the transition period! Given that, and the traditional GQP obstruction, Biden’s accomplishments are truly amazing!

To the well-intentioned groups that have been so vocal in their frustrations, I can only advise: “Patience, grasshoppers!”

Our Greatest Strengths May Also Be Our Greatest Weaknesses.

Since its inception, the US has been celebrated for its guaranteed freedoms: Most notably the freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to own a gun, and the freedom to choose our leaders no matter how flawed and unqualified they may be. But those freedoms come with a cost.

Under our Constitution, profiteers and ideologues such as Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, and the mysterious Q are free to distribute a torrent of half truths, mistruths, and outrageous lies intended to divide us and to weaken our nation. As a result, there are no shared truths. Not even the need to deal with the horrors of a pandemic has been able to pull us together. Far too many have been willing to take the word of pundits and politicians over that of caregivers and scientists. Even after nearly 350,000 deaths, they continue to believe the pandemic is a hoax. By refusing to wear a mask, they are making a political statement. And they are convinced that vaccines have been created as a way for the government to track them or, worse, poison them.

White supremacists, white nationalists, and other hatemongers hide behind our freedom of religion to discriminate against those of other religions, colors, cultures, and sexual preferences. They even use their religions to deny women the freedom to control their own bodies.

The gun lobby uses the 2nd Amendment and fear tactics to expand gun ownership. Not for hunting. But for “protection.” This is despite the fact that more gun owners are likely to be shot with their own gun than to use it for self-defense. And despite the overwhelming number of gun deaths enabled by easy access to guns. Further, as hate and division have grown, millions of Americans have assembled arsenals with the expectation of using them against their political “enemies” and their own government!

As for our “free” elections, consider the fact that many American citizens are routinely denied the freedom to vote. Especially those Americans of color and those living in poverty. They have not only been victimized by reduced polling places, reduced voting hours, and the purges of voter registrations. Many have been required to take time away from work and drive long distances in order to obtain necessary voter IDs. And one need look no further than the chaos created by Donald J. Trump to see the consequences of electing greedy, unethical, and unqualified government outsiders.

It’s not hyperbole to state that our freedoms may also lead to our nation’s demise.

The question is: How can we address the weaknesses of our system while maintaining our Constitutional freedoms? How can we prevent the liars, the unethical, the profiteers, and our enemies from using our own Constitution against us, especially now that our Supreme Court has been politicized?

We can end division by, once again, demanding that media report the truth. That could be accomplished by a return to some form of the Fairness Doctrine, which required radio and television channels to operate in the public interest by clearly labeling opinions and separating them from the news. The same rules could be applied to all other media.

We could also take the politics out of religion by enforcing current laws that take away tax exemptions for churches that routinely engage in political activities. We should also tax churches that collect millions in donations, permitting their pastors to live in mansions and travel in private jets.

We can address our gun problem by instituting national gun laws, including universal background checks and red flag laws. We should also end the sales of military-style weapons, such as AR-15s, AK-47s, 50 caliber sniper rifles, and large capacity ammunition clips which add to the killing power of mass shooters. And we should conduct buyback programs to recover those already in our citizens’ hands.

Finally, we should reform our electoral system by eliminating the Electoral College, by instituting universal voter registration, and by standardizing elections from state to state. In addition, we should demand that anyone running for national office submit to extensive background checks and release all financial information, including 10 years of tax returns.

Do I think any of this will happen? No. But if we don’t make any changes, it’s pointless to continue to spend trillions on national defense. Before any external enemy can destroy us, we will likely destroy ourselves.