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 They repealed the FCC’s Fairness Doctrine which unleashed their propagandists (Fox News, OANN, Newsmax, and rightwing radio hosts) to use mass media to deliver and repeat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.

Turning Point.

The threat of losing our democracy in the US did not end on January 6th. Republicans insist the 2020 election is not over. Not by a long shot.

Never mind that the Trump campaign lost more than 60 court cases to overturn 2020 election results, including in courts ruled by Trump appointees. Disregard the fact that Trump lost numerous recounts. Forget the fact that Biden accumulated over 7 million more votes than Trump. Ignore the fact that the few examples of voter fraud were committed by Republicans.

In a true democracy, that would be enough to force a political party to accept defeat. But Republicans no longer care about preserving our democracy. Having failed at their many attempts to overturn a free and fair election, including a violent insurrection aimed at murdering Democrats and holding congressional representatives hostage until they agreed to reinstall Trump in the Oval Office, it is abundantly clear that Republicans only care about winning. Winning at any cost.

So here we are on the precipice of becoming a failed democracy. A nation in which some citizens, based on the color of their skin and the size of their bank accounts, have long found it difficult to vote. A nation in which the vote of a resident of Wyoming counts nearly four times that of a California resident. A nation in which millions of residents of Washington, D.C. have no representation. A nation in which legislative and congressional districts are created to ensure that only Republicans can win them.

Yet, despite their advantages, neither of the last two Republican presidents won a majority of the popular vote.

As the Republican Party strayed further and further from reality, as its policies became increasingly unpopular, it resorted to fear tactics. Fear of the other. It created a propaganda network to constantly attack Democrats. It pandered to corporations, sponsoring legislation written by the secretive ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council). It pandered to evangelical Christians by demonizing abortion and promoting discrimination. It pandered to millionaires and billionaires by promoting tax cuts and looking the other way as they exploited tax shelters to protect their wealth. And it embraced violent militias and white supremacists.

Now, having recognized that its structural advantages and dirty money are no longer enough to win, the party has decided to attack democracy itself. In 49 of our 50 states, Republicans have introduced legislation designed to make voting more difficult, especially for black and brown people and the working poor. And, in Arizona, the Republican-led legislature has engineered an audit of the 2020 vote, using a questionable company led by a conspiracy theorist. While denying access to the process by journalists and impartial observers, and by questionable procedures including ultraviolet lights and photographic scans of ballots, they hope to prove their previously announced claim: The election was stolen. If they do, Republicans are certain to conduct similar audits in other states with the goal of claiming that Biden is an illegitimate president.

Given Republican attempts to engineer elections and their results, it has become abundantly clear that Congress must pass bills to recognize the District of Columbia as a state and to create national standards for elections, improving voter registration and voting access while protecting election integrity.

Our democracy hangs in the balance.

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.

Don’t Mourn For The GOP Of Old.

In the age of Trump, some long for the GOP of old. True, the party of Lincoln was truly admirable. But that GOP hasn’t existed for a very long time. The GOP of modern history bore little resemblance to the party of Lincoln. Yet some would have you believe that the party of Nixon, Reagan, and Bush was just as caring, just as patriotic and just as principled.

Don’t believe the myth.

Though it is true that the GOP of the 70s, 80s, 90s, and early 2000s was significantly better than the current hot mess, it was no friend of ordinary working people. It was a coalition of corporatists and industrialists. It included war mongers, bigots, anti-unionists, and those who felt it was their duty to interfere with democracies and governments around the globe on behalf of our corporations.

It was the GOP under Eisenhower and the Dulles brothers that overthrew the democratically elected government of Iran when it tried to nationalize Iranian oil, an act that led to a brutal dictatorship and, ultimately, the Islamist revolution. It was the GOP that undermined the Vietnam peace talks to help Nixon’s election chances, an act that resulted in thousands more deaths. It was the GOP that embraced southern racists after the civil rights movement.

In the old GOP, it was Nixon who founded a dirty tricks squad and tried to circumvent our democratic elections by breaking into the Democratic National headquarters. It was Nixon who ordered the overthrow of Chile’s democratically elected president who was replaced by a dictator.

In the old GOP, it was Reagan who fomented distrust in the government, who launched an attack on labor unions, who handed out large tax cuts to the wealthy under his bogus “trickle-down” economic theory, who imposed a range of hidden taxes on the middle class, and who ran up the national debt. It was Reagan who created a shadow government that illegally sold weapons to Iran in order to fund the Central American Contras.

It was George H.W. Bush who continued Reagan’s economic policy and launched a war in the Middle East. And it was George W. Bush who used his brother to corrupt Florida’s election in order to attain office. “W” also ignored warnings of the impending terrorist attack on 9/11 and launched a horrific war in Iraq based on false information.

It was the old GOP that spawned ultra-partisans such as Newt Gingrich, Paul Ryan and Moscow Mitch McConnell – the people who placed party over country and made compromise a dirty word. It is members of the old GOP who, like Mitt Romney, Moscow Mitch, and Elaine Chow, have parked funds in offshore tax havens to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. It was members of the old GOP that showered trillions on the military-industrial complex. And it was the old GOP that has gone to great lengths to suppress and intimidate voters who are unlikely to vote for GOP candidates.

Yes, the GOP of Trump is significantly worse than what preceded it – led by a treasonous conman who has taken corruption, division, lies, and bigotry to new levels. But it was the old GOP that embraced Trumpism and made this horror show possible.

Dear Trump Supporters: What Will It Take?

I understand that you chose to support The Donald because you wanted change. You were angry. You felt the economy was rigged. That you would be left behind. He promised to shake up the government and end business as usual.

He most certainly has done the that.

You’ve continued to support him despite abundant evidence that he colluded with Russian agents to rig the election and obstructed justice. You’ve supported him despite an avalanche of thousands of lies as documented by independent fact-checkers. You ignored his lies about an extramarital affair with a porn star. You’ve given him credit for his predecessor’s work in rescuing and expanding the economy. You’ve continued to support him as he alienated our longstanding allies and weakened NATO. You supported him as he took Putin’s word over that of our own intelligence agencies headed by Trump appointees.

You cried “fake news” at reports of his filling the “swamp” with an astounding menagerie of swamp monsters. You ignored the evidence showing that Trump, his family, and many of his cabinet appointees used their positions to line their bank vaults with taxpayer money. You seem not to care that he dismantled ethics offices and fired inspectors general whose job it is to investigate and expose the corruption. You seemed to take satisfaction in watching him take revenge on whistleblowers. You applauded his stonewalling of congressional oversight and his demands that administration officials ignore subpoenas. You’ve seen him dismiss investigative reporters whose job it is to expose government corruption by calling them “enemies of the people.”

You turned your backs on reports that the administration ordered children to be ripped from the arms of their refugee parents. You claimed not to see videos of those children confined in cages with only a foil blanket. You ignored the obvious racism of his calling Mexicans rapists and murders, of describing Latin and African nations as “shithole countries,” of referring to neo-Nazis and white supremacists as “good people.”

You continued to support him despite all of that. (Maybe because of it?)

You stood by your con man as dozens of former administration and government officials spoke up about his incompetence and his unfitness for office. You ignored the outrage of Republican leaders and strategists who have been repulsed by his actions. You watched as he corrupted the judicial system. You seemed not to care that he continues to hide his income taxes despite legitimate claims of money-laundering and tax evasion.

You cheered when the Senate refused to remove him from office as a result of his impeachment despite overwhelming evidence that he had broken the law by demanding the Ukraine to interfere in the upcoming election in exchange for congressionally-approved financial and military aid.

And what did you do when his incompetence led to the now 140,000 American deaths from the coronavirus? You blamed it on China and claimed his failed response was due to distractions caused by the impeachment. Following his example, you have contributed to the spread of the coronavirus by ignoring the pleas of scientists to practice social distancing and to wear masks. Not even Trump’s attempts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act in the middle of the pandemic has shaken your support. Nor has the addition of roughly $4 trillion to the national debt. And when his failures led to an economic collapse, you gave him a pass, blaming it on the CDC, the WHO, Dr. Fauci, and the media, instead.

Even when it became clear that Trump ignored reports that Russia offered payments to the Taliban for killing US military personnel, you have seemingly refused to blame him or even his buddy Putin.

So, I ask: What will it take for you to finally admit that you made a mistake by voting for a con man who has placed us all in danger? A president who operates more like a mob boss than a principled public servant? A man who is intellectually, ethically, and morally unfit to hold office? A man who has done more to serve Russia than the United States?

How Ronald Reagan Destroyed America.

For many Americans, Ronald Reagan was a great president who reawakened and re-energized the nation as exemplified by the “Morning in America” commercials created by some of my friends. They even credit him for ending the Cold War. But the credit more accurately belongs to Gorbachev.

To me, Reagan will always be the person who used a hostage crisis to win election and who turned Americans against their own government by portraying it as the enemy. And that’s only the beginning of his negative impact on the US.

He famously ran up deficits and tripled the national debt. He flipped the economy upside-down with his Trickle Down theory of economics leading to extreme inequality in income, wealth and opportunity. Under Reagan, we saw the end of national usury laws making it possible for national banks to evade interest rate caps leading to interest rates of 18%, 30%, 40% and more. At the same time, Reagan took away the tax deductions for interest paid by middle class and poor Americans on auto loans, credit cards and other personal loans. One result, as evidenced by a new Institute for Policy Studies Inequality briefing paper by Bob Lord, is that the taxes paid by America’s billionaires have decreased 79 percent since 1980!

Known by some as the “Father of Globalization”, Reagan’s economic and trade decisions led to the offshoring of high-paying American jobs. As he embraced multinational corporations, he attacked the labor unions – the very organizations that created our middle class by fighting for living wages, healthcare benefits and safe working environments.

The Reagan administration supercharged the era of corporate consolidations and legalized stock buybacks for corporate executives. Those decisions led to multi-million-dollar annual compensation for corporate executives, inflated stock prices, and mass layoffs of workers.

And though Reagan criticized Carter for the capture of US embassy workers in Tehran, he was responsible for the deaths of 241 Marines, sailors and soldiers who were killed on his watch after he sent them to Beirut with no plan of engagement. He waged war on the island nation of Grenada – yes, Grenada – for aligning with Cuba. He also circumvented congressional oversight by creating a shadow government that illegally sold weapons to Iran in order to finance death squads in El Salvador and Nicaragua.

And maybe Reagan’s worst decision of all was to call for the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine that led to the likes of Fox News Channel, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, Alex Jones, and a host of others who have used hate, sensationalism and an avalanche of lies to divide us. I believe you can draw a direct line from that decision to Donald J. Trump and the most corrupt, conniving, inept and hateful administration in US history.

Now Available On Amazon:

Ironically, in the age of information, our nation has been compromised by lies and disinformation as never before.

Decades of consolidation, short-term thinking, corporate greed, extreme political ideologies, and poor leadership have left our nation’s economy, healthcare system and its citizens unnecessarily vulnerable.

Many of the decisions that led us to this point were made in good faith. Some were dictated by difficult situations. But others were made willfully and knowingly, their true purpose and their all-too predictable results hidden in a fog of falsehoods and lies. This book attempts to cut through the misinformation to examine the problems, explain how they happened and reveal the truth.

What The US Could Be.

Our nation has reached a crossroads. Will we continue to slide further down the path to autocracy and cruelty where the nation’s leader is unaccountable, where the rule of law only pertains to those the leader says it should, where the leader puts his thumb on the scales of justice, where elected officials cater to corporations and the wealthy, where discrimination is accepted, where millions continue to live in poverty with fewer and fewer safety nets, and where those seeking asylum are locked in cages?

Or will we choose to vote for those determined to reclaim our government and reshape it to live up to its promise?

Consider what a Uniter-in-Chief, instead of a Divider-in-Chief, could do. Consider what a Congress focused on solving problems and representing the people – all of the people – could accomplish.

Unity: Instead of being divided by political and racial tribalism, we could be united in solving the greatest issues of our time. By rejecting GOP candidates determined to divide us for political gains over social issues such as abortion, religion, discrimination and wealth.

Right now, there are nearly 400 House-passed bills that have been denied a hearing in the Senate. Many, if not most, of these bills address bipartisan issues such as protecting patients with pre-existing conditions, lowering pharmaceutical prices, improving gun safety through universal background checks. Reshaping the Senate by rejecting those who would rather play politics than address the nation’s needs would end gridlock and allow us to address the issues that affect all of us.

Equality: We could treat each other as true equals. Over the past few decades, the GOP has resorted to voter suppression tactics in order to choose their voters rather than allow voters to choose their candidates. They have relied on extreme Gerrymandering, restrictive voter IDs, purging of voter rolls, intimidation, reducing voting hours and closing polling places in poor and black areas, and taking voting rights away from those who have served prison time.

It’s time to end these repressive and undemocratic practices; to end discrimination of all kinds. We must reshape all of our governments – including city, county, state and federal – and commit to restoring democracy and civil rights for all.

Equal Representation: We could dismantle the archaic Electoral College that prioritizes geography over people – a system that gives a voter living in Wyoming nearly 4 times the representation of a voter living in California.

Climate Crisis: We could save our planet from the most severe impacts of climate change.

Though scientists have known about the dangers of our reliance on fossil fuels since the mid-1960s, the issue was mostly ignored until former Vice-President Gore released the documentary An Inconvenient Truth in 2006. By the 2008 presidential election, it had finally become a political issue with both candidates promoting a policy of cap and trade to reduce carbon emissions. Since then, only one party has shown any interest in addressing climate change. The other, supported by the fossil fuel industry, refers to it as a hoax.

Let’s suppose for a moment that the GOP is correct and climate change is a hoax (it isn’t), what would be the consequences of addressing the issue and embracing clean, renewable energy? The consequences would be many high-paying jobs, cleaner air, cleaner water and an end to wars over reserves of oil. Oh, and Big Oil would no longer exert such control over our government.

Ecosystem: We could save the diversity and the beauty of the many species that share our planet.

Many parts of our ecosystem are collapsing. Bees, which pollinate our fruits, vegetables and grains, are dying as a result of the use of pesticides. There is a dead zone in the Gulf caused by the runoff of fertilizers from our farms. Glysophate, a known carcinogen used to control weeds permeates our drinking water and our foods. Fracking fluids have leaked into the aquifers many rely on for drinking water. Many of our coral reefs, home to most of our oceans’ fish, are bleaching and collapsing due to climate change. Our oceans are also showing the ill effects of decades of use as garbage dumps. Deforestation and trophy hunting has forced thousands of species to the brink of extinction. I could go on. Yet the GOP seems uniquely unmoved by the devastation.

Replacing GOP politicians with those who believe in science, who will fight for ecological understanding and justice, may be the only way to save thousands of species from extinction…including our own.

Military: We could use much of our gigantic $718 billion military budget to improve conditions for the citizens of our nation and elsewhere. And we could, for one of the very few times in our nation’s history, wage peace.

For those who think that reducing the military budget would leave us vulnerable, consider that our budget is equal to that of the next 8 countries’ combined. And 6 of those are allies. Moreover, we benefit from the more than $305 billion in military spending of the other 28 members of the NATO mutual defense organization. Finally, our military budget doesn’t include the more than $50 billion budget of the Department of Homeland Security or the nearly $220 billion for Veterans Affairs.

That means we’re currently spending nearly $1 trillion annually on defense and military-related issues. And we benefit from $305 billion more.

Healthcare: We could provide universal health care for all of our citizens and save thousands of lives.

Pharmaceuticals: By allowing the government, as the provider of universal health care, to negotiate with manufacturers and distributors, we could make necessary and life-saving pharmaceuticals affordable for all those who need them.

Religion: We could provide true religious freedom, including freedom from religion for non-believers. As Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God.”

Immigration: We could, once and for all, solve the issue of immigration by providing a path to citizenship for those who were brought here as children and have spent most of their lives in the US. We could create a system of work permits for those who are needed to raise and harvest our crops and to fill the jobs most US citizens don’t want. We could improve our system for those seeking asylum from violence and starvation in their home countries.

Economy: We could transform our economy from a plutocracy to a democracy that will work for all Americans. Not just the powerful and the wealthy. By eliminating the need for corporations to pay for their employees’ healthcare, we could demand that their savings be used to pay all employees a living wage. And, by asking the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes, we could invest in many other things that could benefit our nation, such as low-cost college education while, at the same time, decreasing deficits.

Infrastructure: We could create high-paying jobs that cannot be off-shored by committing to rebuild our aging and decrepit infrastructure: Streets, roads, bridges, railroads, seaports, airports and the electric grid.

Violence: We could address gun violence by ending the sale of the weapons of war. We could implement universal background checks, waiting periods and red flag laws. And we could address the issues that lead to violence, such as poverty, discrimination, lack of opportunity and easy access to guns.

Taking The Profits Out Of Health Care.

In the US, health care organizations were once required to be nonprofit. But, following WWII, companies were short of workers. To entice them, they began offering health insurance. At first, it was non-profit. But as the market for company-provided health insurance grew, it attracted for-profit competitors offering a variety of plans.

The inevitable consequence was to dramatically increase the cost of health care, making it unaffordable for an ever-growing number of Americans. And though the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) has helped, the cost of health care rose from an average of $355 per person in 1970 to $11,172 in 2019. Accounting for inflation, that’s an increase of roughly 6-fold!

Indeed, according to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), US spending on health care reached $3.6 trillion in 2018 (the most recent year for which data is available) 17.7 percent of our GDP. And the earnings of health insurance companies exceeded $236 billion in 2018.

Perhaps the biggest winner in the health care industry is big Pharma. According to Statista, Americans spent $360.3 billion on pharmaceuticals in 2019 – up $15.8 billion from the previous year. And up a whopping $239.3 billion from 2000. That increase is reflected in the cost of most medications. A case in point: For asthma patients like me (of which there are nearly 20 million in the US), the annual cost of preventative medication is roughly $2,500 per year – almost double what it cost less than 10 years ago. Has the drug changed or improved over that period? No, only the price has changed. And, of course, the profits for the manufacturer and their distributors.

The increase in the cost of many other pharmaceuticals is even more dramatic.

Pharmaceutical companies justify the increases by claiming that the money is needed for research and development. Yet, you, the taxpayer, contribute roughly 30 percent of the cost of development of pharmaceuticals. Despite the increased costs and your contributions, there has been little increase in FDA approvals for drugs in recent years. That’s mostly due to the companies’ focus on acquisition and mergers. In other words, the companies are investing their profits in stock buyouts rather than research and development.

Since 1996, there have been 46 mergers and acquisitions of the world’s pharmaceutical giants. Over that same period, big Pharma has spent billions to lobby the US government. According to Statista, the industry spent $281.4 billion to lobby our government in 2019. And big Pharma is not alone. Organizations representing doctors, nurses, hospitals, clinics, medical equipment manufacturers and health insurers all spent billions on lobbying.

In total, the health care industry spent $711.3 billion on lobbying for 2019.

Is it any wonder then that our health care costs keep rising at rates far greater than inflation? Is it any wonder that we pay 4 times more per person for health care in the US than any other country in the world while experiencing steadily declining results?

Far too much of your health care expenditures are going to support the multi-million dollar salaries of executives, lobbyists and the profits of shareholders.

So, when political candidates are asked how they expect to pay for the cost of single-payer health care such as Medicare For All, the answer is simple. You’re already paying for it. But, instead of the money being used for medical care and the development of new technologies and treatments. It’s being used to line the pockets of executives and investors.

By moving to a single-payer health care system like most of the world’s advanced nations, you will pay more in taxes. Nevertheless, your savings should be significant. You and your employer will no longer have to pay for health insurance, deductibles, and co-pays. You will not be billed for seeing your doctor, for laboratory tests, for visiting the Emergency Room, for treatments or for needed stays in a hospital. As the single-payer, the government will also be able to negotiate the cost of pharmaceuticals saving you even more money. So your savings will continue to add up over your lifetime.

And no American will ever be denied health care again.

There’s yet another benefit that’s seldom mentioned: By removing the responsibility for providing health insurance from employers, there will be less incentive for employers to move jobs offshore. (Currently, the cost of an employee’s benefits is roughly equal to the cost of an employee’s salary.) Indeed, employers could use the savings to increase salaries and pay a more livable wage. That would not only provide a substantial boost to our economy. It would result in greater tax revenue that could be used to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and create even more high-paying jobs.

The March Toward Autocracy.

Ever watch a kindergarten class out for a walk in the city? They are all hooked to a rope connected to two teachers so that no child can step out of line. Such is the case with our Republican Congress. Led by DonTheCon, they follow along through oncoming traffic toward the edge of a cliff where they’re expected to take a giant leap of faith. If they do step out of line, there’s Moscow Mitch to herd them back into place.

I believe there’s no better description of today’s GOP under Donald J. Trump.

Trump clearly conspired with a foreign rival to attain office. Once in power, he has set about destroying the United States of America as we know it. He has intentionally divided the nation as we have not seen since the Civil War. He has undermined our institutions – the press, the judicial system, the national security apparatus, the military. He has used the machinery of government and the power of his office to attack and investigate political opponents. He has obstructed justice and any form of congressional oversight.

He has changed our tax codes to further benefit the rich and the powerful. He has demeaned and estranged our closest allies. Though having broken nearly all of the Ten Commandments, he has pandered to evangelical “Christians” while banning the followers of Islam from entering our country. He has turned aside refugees – the victims of violence and economic collapse – and re-victimized them by locking them in cages to endure horrific conditions. He has pandered to white nationalists and embraced the world’s worst dictators as though they are members of the same club.

Indeed they are.

He has carved up our national monuments and auctioned off the mineral rights to the highest bidder. He has eliminated environmental regulations allowing oligarchs to despoil our air and water. He has cheated on his taxes, refusing to reveal the depths of his cheating by hiding them from the public. He has used the national treasure as his piggy bank to enrich himself and his family while ordering the Treasury Secretary to shield the numbers from accountability.

As he neared re-election, he chose to enlist the help of a foreign government yet again, using taxpayer funds to extort its help in damaging a political opponent. And, when he was caught, he gathered those Republican congressmen and senators – those obedient toddlers – around him for protection.

Though impeached, his followers refuse to remove him from office…even refusing to examine the evidence. So now it’s up to the voters to do what the Senate should have done.

That will be difficult. Though Trump’s support represents a minority of the electorate – mostly an angry mob of white supremacists, religious zealots, the uninformed, the misinformed and aggrieved losers – his party has spent years preparing for this moment. The GOP has aggressively Gerrymandered congressional districts. It has set about removing the names of millions of voters from the rolls, forcing them to re-register to vote – that’s assuming they’re even aware that their names have been excluded. The GOP has reduced the number of polling places and voting hours in Democratic-leaning districts. It has blocked voting rights for felons who have served their sentences. It has intimidated opposition voters. And, in many states, it has forced voters to leave work and drive many miles in order to purchase a voter ID, often making them choose between obtaining the ID or earning enough to feed their children.

Even without all of their voter suppression tactics, the GOP has a distinct advantage. It controls a large majority of the nation’s geography, if not its voters. Half of the nation’s population resides in 9 largely blue states. But the remaining 41 mostly red states hold a majority of the electoral votes. So it’s possible that Trump – the president with the lowest approval ratings in modern times – will, once again, lose the popular vote this November by overwhelming numbers and still win a majority of electoral votes.

The only sure way to stop him is for decent, caring Americans to turn out to vote as never before.

And, if Trump is defeated, the winning candidate should quickly set about nullifying the Trump presidency. Every presidential order should be immediately overturned. Every appointment, every administration decision should be scrutinized and rectified, as quickly as possible. And, if Democrats are fortunate enough to gain majorities in both houses of Congress, they should pass legislation designed to protect our elections, to restore voting rights, to eliminate the Electoral College and to protect our environment.

As important, Trump should be prosecuted for his many crimes – for his tax evasion, for violating the emoluments clause, for conspiring with enemies of state, for abuse of power, for obstruction. He and his family should be forced to repay the millions they have stolen from taxpayers. And Trump should be locked up as a warning to any like-minded individuals who would consider undermining our democracy ever again.