Fox News Has Gone Full Goebbels.

During a recent Laura Ingraham show in which she questioned Mike Pompeo about his interview with the Jan 6 committee, a headline appeared at the bottom of the screen reading “Dems prop up phony democracies abroad, shred ours.” In other words, the radical conservatives are angry that we are supporting Ukraine and investigating the January 6th insurrection.

And the Ingraham show is not even the worst thing on Fox. Tucker Carlson, the multi-millionaire heir to the Swanson Foods fortune, takes partisanship to a new level in his show by blatantly promoting autocrats and white supremacists, by excusing Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, and by fawning over our deposed president and crime boss, Donald J. Trump.

Despite Fox calling its content “news”, it has long been little more than a propaganda network for Republicans and Libertarians. Its schedule is packed full of hate, fearmongering, and falsehoods. So much so that it is increasingly difficult to distinguish it from the pre-World War II work of Joseph Goebbels. (Goebbels, of course, was famously known as the chief propagandist who helped Adolf Hitler rise to power.) In fact, it could seriously be argued that many of the Fox hosts, Newsmax, and other MAGA propagandists are more extreme.

This pattern of radical anti-Democratic (and anti-democratic) rhetoric has been going on since the end of the Fairness Doctrine in the late eighties. A number of TV, radio and podcast hosts (Sean Hannity, Alex Jones, Mark Levin, et al) are deeply involved in Trump’s seditious conspiracy. And their rhetoric is getting worse.

It is abundantly clear that such propaganda is the primary reason for our nation’s divisions. As Trump and his MAGA followers have labeled the legitimate press as “enemies of the people” for reporting the truth, Fox and the other propaganda outlets have promised to tell you the real story. And what a story it is – full of partisan distortions and lies which blame immigrants, the LGBTQ community, and people of color for many of our nation’s problems.

They portray immigrants as criminals and “illegals.” They raise fears that same-sex marriage will somehow undermine the marriages of heterosexuals. They portray people of color as “lazy thugs” who have destroyed the rule of law in our cities. Like Trump, they describe our nation as a democracy in decay with carnage in our streets.

Yet, in truth, it is the Trump supporters – the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, white supremacists, and violent militias – who have taken to the streets with guns and body armor. It is these MAGAts who tried to bully governors, legislators, and judges from instituting policies to mitigate the pandemic. It is the MAGATs who invaded our Capitol to threaten Congress with the apparent intent to murder individuals and overthrow an election. And it is their NRA’s greed that has made Americans feel unsafe in theaters, in shopping centers, in churches, at concerts, even at schools.

There are other striking similarities between the Republican MAGAts and Nazis. They both intended to seize power based on bullying and armed insurrection. And they both aimed their hatred at minorities.

And even though the insurrection of January 6th was stopped, the Republican Party’s attempts to destroy our democracy continue. The propagandists are unbowed, and their falsehoods are unabated. Moreover, recognizing that knowledge is a threat and a counter to propaganda, the GOP continues its attacks on education and the educated. For decades, the GOP has dismissed and ridiculed expertise. It has dismissed economists who proclaimed trickle-down economics an abject failure. It has ignored the negative impact of tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. And it has ridiculed the vast majority of the world’s scientists who warned about the devastating impacts of climate change.

Republicans have undermined public schools by slashing their budgets and channeling tax dollars into private schools through vouchers. They have threatened teachers for schooling their students in our nation’s history of slavery and the genocide of natives. They have sought to marginalize LGBTQ students. And their push for private schools allows conservatives to prioritize Christianity in classrooms over science.

Republicans have also exposed the flaws of mainstream television networks. By trying to appear nonpartisan, the networks too often offer airtime to Republicans intent on spreading falsehoods and hatred. Moreover, by presenting news in soundbites without context, the networks offer a distorted and incomplete version of the truth which makes it more difficult to counter the Republican narrative.

Of course, social media plays a part in the conservatives’ attack on democracy by creating information (more accurately, disinformation) silos where many people go for their news. It is in those silos, hidden from the public eye, where extremists, seditionists, and insurrectionists can go to reinforce their twisted ideas and plot their attacks on civil society. And despite the claims of those who profit from social media, little has been done to enforce decorum on their sites and to block disinformation.

Unfortunately, there is little government can do to counter all of this. Certainly, it can prosecute crimes as they happen. And we can vote out those who would destroy public education. But given our constitutional rights to free speech and a free press, we can’t stop the propaganda. We can only make a real effort to inform ourselves and seek the truth. Let’s hope that’s enough.

The GOP’s Clown Car To Autocracy.

No, that’s not hyperbole. And, no, Donald Trump, the narcissistic and wannabe autocrat, is not on the ballot. But, across the nation, many equally seditious and treason-adjacent candidates are. They call themselves Republicans. And some of them make the conspiracy-loving Marjorie Taylor-Greene, the gun-toting Lauren Boebert, the insurrectionist Paul Gosar, and the alleged child sex trafficker Matt Gaetz seem almost moderate.

For example, in Arizona, Trump acolyte Mark Finchem will carry the Trump banner forward as the Republican nominee for Arizona Secretary of State. If he wins, he will be in control of the state’s elections. What makes this prospect frightening is that he is still a firm believer in the Big Lie – that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. Not surprisingly, he was also in Washington, DC for the January 6th insurrection. If elected, he plans to ban electronic voting machines and ban early voting making it far more difficult for low-paid workers to cast their ballots. And, given his past, imagine what he might do if, once again, the vote totals were not in favor of his preferred candidate.

In the race for Arizona governor, the GOP will offer one of two horrific choices: the Trump-endorsed bat-crap crazy Kari Lake who says she would have overturned Biden’s victory in Arizona, or the Pence-endorsed theocratic Karrin Taylor Robson. Both are legitimate threats to democracy. And, in the race for US Senate, Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly will face off against Blake Masters, a libertarian, Big Lie-embracing, billionaire-funded venture capitalist. Masters believes that our history of slavery and racism should not be taught in schools. He blames gun violence on black people. He supports a national abortion ban and the privatization of Social Security. He also reportedly compared requirements that political candidates disclose financial donations to Nazi Germany’s Kristallnacht. And he supported some views of the Unabomber.

In Georgia, former NFL running back, Herschel Walker is the GOP nominee for the US Senate. Walker, who always refers to himself in third person, has a Trump-like aversion to the truth. Indeed, his own campaign staff has called him a pathological liar. To wit: he falsely claimed to be a former FBI agent and a valedictorian graduate of the University of Georgia (his only degree is in carrying a football). And though he claims to stand for Christian values, he has a history of domestic violence, and he seemingly can’t remember how many children he has fathered. Moreover, if forced to take the most simplistic sixth grade level civics test, he unquestionably would fail. Yet he hopes to win one of the most powerful seats in government.

In Missouri, Trump-loving Eric Schmitt is the favorite for Roy Blunt’s open Senate seat. A theocrat and 2020 election denier, Schmitt worked to help overturn Biden’s win in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin. He is also an enemy of women’s reproductive rights.

In Pennsylvania, Hillbilly Elegy author and wingnut, J.D. Vance is also running for the US Senate funded by billionaire Peter Thiel. Vance is running a campaign of fear based on all of the wacko hot button social issues, such as banning Critical Race Theory in public schools (it’s only taught in law schools). He also believes women should risk staying in abusive relationships “for the sake of the children.” And like most Republicans, he believes in regulating women’s uteruses. Not guns.

Yet, as dangerous as all those candidates seem, they pale in comparison to Republican incumbent and longtime wackadoodle, Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. Johnson, you may remember, was a participant in the attempt to decertify Biden’s electoral votes on January 6. Not only is he a supporter of the Big Lie, if Republicans gain control of Congress again, he wants to end mandatory funding of Social Security and Medicare. Instead, he proposes that the funding be made discretionary, which would mean Congress would have to vote to approve funding annually.

The list of such anti-government, anti-American, and anti-democracy candidates is long. And, if Republicans take control of Congress, they promise to impeach Biden (in retaliation for the twice impeached Trump), to investigate members of the January 6 select committee, and to ban all abortions. They will also do everything in their power to privatize education, to privatize or eliminate Social Security and Medicare, to eliminate affirmative action…their ugly, hateful list is long. But the even greater threat to the future of our nation is the departure of competent and trustworthy election officials.

In states and counties across this nation, election officials have resigned or been pushed out of office under threat of violence. They have been doxed – their personal information made public to Trump’s heavily armed insurgent militias who have harassed the officials by phone, staked out their homes, and threatened their lives along with the lives of their families. Many have been replaced by inexperienced and unqualified individuals who believe the 2020 election was rigged and who plan to make sure Trump and his allies never lose again.

If the MAGAts are able to take control of more statehouses, governorships, and secretary of state offices, future elections will be elections in name only. It will be officials who decide the “winners.” Not the voters.

The Plan To Destroy Democracy.

In case it’s not yet obvious that Trump tried everything in his power to overthrow a free and fair election, here is what we know, or can reasonably surmise, about his plan to stay in office despite an overwhelming defeat at the polls:

1. Before the election, Trump began to sow doubt in the electoral process by claiming that the election would be rigged if he didn’t win. (He did the same in 2015.)
2. In anticipation of a large mail-in vote caused by Covid, Trump named a lackey (Louis DeJoy) as Postmaster General to delay and disrupt the mail, particularly in cities with large Democratic majorities.
3. On the night of the election, Trump claimed victory long before all of the ballots were counted. This was designed to support his claims of a stolen election should Biden ultimately be named the winner.
4. As mail-in and absentee ballots continued to be counted, Trump claimed the ballots were fraudulent and encouraged armed supporters to go to ballot-counting stations to disrupt the counting and intimidate election workers.
5. When it was clear that Biden had won, Trump and his personal lawyers claimed foreign interference in the election, saying that China dumped millions of ballots in the mailboxes. That Venezuela and Italy hacked Dominion voting machines to change votes to Biden.
6. Trump and his lawyers filed more than 60 lawsuits claiming voter fraud. All but one was thrown out for lack of evidence.
7. Trump and his closest supporters created a “war room” in the Willard Hotel where sycophants made plans to overturn the election results.
8. As cabinet members announced their resignations, Trump began replacing them with more compliant loyalists, including acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller who tried to investigate a voter fraud conspiracy involving Italian satellites that the DOJ called “pure insanity.”
9. Trump pressured Department of Justice officials to declare the election fraudulent and to order a new election. When they refused, he threatened to fire acting Attorney General Rosen and replace him with Trump loyalist Jeffrey Clark.
10. Trump, his personal attorneys, and other supporters called Secretaries of State in Georgia and other critical swing states asking them to “find” the precise number of votes to change the outcome of the election.
11. As other plans for Trump to stay in power failed, he and his inner circle encouraged Republican-led state legislatures to select “alternative” slates of electors to replace the legitimate slates.
12. As Biden’s inauguration neared, Trump demanded that Vice-President Pence refuse to certify the official electoral votes on January 6 by declaring them invalid and sending the election to state legislatures where Republican legislators would declare Trump the winner.
13. Trump sycophants, including the wife of a sitting Supreme Court justice arranged for a “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, DC the day Congress was set to certify the vote. Trump tweeted supporters to “Be there. It will be wild.” In the days leading up to the rally, the recently pardoned felons, Roger Stone and Michael Flynn, met with leaders of the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys to plan the coup. As part of the plan, these insurgent militias organized weapons depots outside the District of Columbia in anticipation of a civil war.
14. On January 5, at least one congressional representative provided an apparent reconnaissance tour of the Capitol for constituents who participated in the January 6 insurrection.
15. In the early morning hours of January 6, pipe bombs were placed in front of the offices of Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee as an obvious attempt to create a distraction for law enforcement prior to the insurrection.
16. On the morning of January 6, Trump placed a phone call to the Vice-President in a last-ditch attempt to convince Pence to refuse certification of the electoral votes. When he refused, Trump angrily called him a pussy before hanging up. He then tweeted that the Vice-President “didn’t have the courage to do the right thing.” In essence, this was the equivalent of a crime boss ordering a hit.
17. At the “Stop the Steal” rally, Trump extremists and conspiracy theorists made a series of fiery speeches telling the crowd to “fight like hell” or they wouldn’t have their country anymore.
18. When many of Trump’s armed supporters refused to enter the rally grounds for fear of having their weapons confiscated as they passed through security screenings, Trump became upset by the optics of a small crowd. He then demanded that the Secret Service take down the magnetometers. When told that many in the crowd were armed, Trump said he didn’t care, they weren’t there to harm him.
19. In his own speech at the rally, Trump asked his supporters to “march to the Capitol,” saying he would join them. He became furious when the Secret Service refused to take him to the Capitol to lead the insurgency.
20. As the electoral certification got underway, 147 of Trump’s congressional supporters – Biggs, Brooks, Boebert, Cawthorn, Cruz, Gohmert, Gaetz, Gosar, Hawley, Loudermilk, Taylor-Greene, Tuberville, et al began to challenge electoral votes.
21. Meanwhile, even before the rally ended, Trump’s insurgent militias began to break through police lines and encouraged others to follow.
22. As the siege of the Capitol began, gallows were constructed on Capitol grounds with the apparent intent to threaten VP Pence and Democratic leaders. After Trump issued a tweet saying Pence didn’t have the courage to do what’s right, the crowd became even more inflamed and clearly intended to murder the Vice-President, coming within a few feet of Pence and members of Congress.
23. Following Pence’s narrow escape, it appears the next step in the plan was for Trump loyalists in the Secret Service to spirit Pence away from the Capitol so that Chuck Grassley, as president pro tempore of the Senate, could take Pence’s place and send the election back to the state legislatures.
24. As a last-ditch effort, it appears Trump planned to use the violence as an excise to declare martial law. In doing so, he could order the military to seize voting machines and call for a new Putin-style “election” that he would be guaranteed to “win.”
25. Trump would then declare himself president for life as he had previously suggested when China’s Xi Jinping was given that title.

If not for the courage of the Capitol police, along with Mike Pence and a few other individuals, we would no longer be living in a constitutional democracy. But we must all realize that Trump’s attempted coup is far from over. Not only does he plan to run again in 2024. His hateful and heavily armed followers are standing by waiting for his orders. In addition, he has successfully created suspicion about election security resulting in threats of violence against election officials and their subsequent resignations. Many of those have been replaced by MAGAts who will do his bidding. And throughout the country he is promoting candidates for governor, Congress, and Secretaries of State who are attuned to his ideology.

Even if Trump is eventually charged with seditious conspiracy, manslaughter and various other crimes, he still has a compliant majority on the Supreme Court. He still has a well-established propaganda network (Fox News, Newsmax, Breitbart, and talk radio). He still benefits from a shocking amount of disinformation on social media platforms. He still has the support of the Republican Party and “Christian” evangelicals. And there are still nearly 74 million Americans who voted for his brand of hateful and vengeful politics – many of them heavily armed and waiting for the opportunity to act.

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.

America Can No Longer Be Called Home Of The Brave.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It Is No Longer Accurate To Call White Nationalists Extremists.

While those who espouse white nationalism may seem extreme to Democrats and to many independents, it has become clear that they now represent the mainstream of the Republican Party.

Don’t believe me?

Perhaps you will trust Miles Taylor, the former Chief of Staff of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) during the Goerge W. Bush and Donald J. Trump administrations. A former Republican himself, he says that fully 50 percent of today’s GOP voters believe in Replacement Theory, the racist theory that Democrats are encouraging the illegal immigration of people of color in order to reduce white Christian Americans to minority status.

Once a theory propagated by only the most twisted racists on the very fringes of society – the KKK and neo-Nazis – it has been elevated from the sewers by Trump and mainstreamed by Fox News along with rightwing radio pundits, social media, and various Internet celebrities. The violent results of their hateful rhetoric have accelerated throughout the last 5 years, beginning with the “Alt Right’ March in Charlottesville and culminating in last week’s racist shootings at a Buffalo grocery store.

Of course, those who have incited such hatred refuse to claim any responsibility. And, though they may well briefly tone down their rhetoric, they will soon return to full-throated racism.

To underscore the ties between the GOP and racial terrorism, CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) will hold its annual conference in Budapest, Hungary. Why? Because Hungary’s dictator, Viktor Orban, espouses the same racist replacement theory as much of the GOP. Indeed, so does Russia’s resident dictator and Trump supporter, Vladimir Putin. Which may explain why 25 percent of the Republican congressional caucus voted against more military aid to help Ukraine defend itself against Putin’s invasion.

Moreover, according to Taylor, 50 percent of GOP voters believe in the cult-like conspiracies espoused by QAnon, including the preposterous belief that Democrats are pedophiles and that Democratic leaders and A-list Hollywood celebrities are running a child sex trafficking ring.

Finally, Taylor notes that 70 percent of the GOP think the 2020 election was stolen despite all evidence to the contrary. Not even Trump’s hand-picked Attorney General nor the Trump-appointed judges and justices believed in the claims of widespread voter fraud. Of course, there were a few notable cases of individual voter fraud. But they were Trump supporters who returned ballots for dead family members. And, of course, there’s the case of Trump’s Chief of Staff who illegally registered to vote in two states.

Nevertheless, the GOP and many of its candidates continue to espouse the “Big Lie.” At the same time, GOP governors and legislatures are working overtime to ensure they control upcoming elections. By that, they don’t simply mean they want to win the elections. They are taking steps to rig them by any means necessary.

Taylor says the DHS determined the biggest national security threat is domestic terrorism. I would amend the threat to include the GOP.

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?

Preaching Evil And Hate.

Preaching Evil is the title of a new Peacock documentary about FLDS leader, Warren Jeffs. But the title could well be applied to hundreds of televangelists and evangelical Christian pastors, as well as fundamentalist Imams, Rabbis, and leaders of various other religions and sects who use their platforms to preach hate against others. There are no better examples than the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, who has blessed Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, and the white conservative “Christians” who encourage their followers to discriminate against people of differing faiths, races, and sexual preference.

Of course, none of this is new.

Most of the world’s violence has long been based on religious differences and misunderstandings. The Roman Catholic Church ordered the torture and murder of millions during the Inquisition. It ordered the slaughter of the Templars, the Cathars and the Huguenots. And its desire to conquer and convert “heathens” was behind the genocide of indigenous Americans.

Religious discrimination led European Christians to tolerate the imprisonment of Jews and the resulting death camps of the Holocaust. Southern Christians condoned the KKK with the Christian symbol of the cross integral to the terrorists’ gatherings and lynchings. More recently, religious differences are at the heart of the on-going conflicts in the Middle East, in India, Pakistan, and Myanmar.

Even when religions haven’t encouraged and committed genocide, they have dismissed others’ creation beliefs as myth. And they declared those they didn’t understand as infidels, witches, or demons.

To be clear, I believe that all people have a right to worship however, whatever, and whoever they please, as long as their worship does not encroach on the rights of others. As long as they respect the beliefs and customs of others.

And I do believe that organized religion can be positive.

I was raised in a small-town church where I was taught the Golden Rule and where most members tried to follow it. The church was a gathering place of joy for weddings, anniversaries, and other celebrations. It was a place where anyone could go to seek aid and guidance. It was also a place where locals gathered in support of those mourning a loss. Those kinds of churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques still exist. But they are being overwhelmed by the political and the crazies.

Surveys have shown that the number of people who attend church is declining in the US and elsewhere – likely the result of the crimes and excesses of religions: the violence, the sexual abuses of children, the hateful discrimination of the LGBTQ community, the misogyny which has led to attacks on a woman’s right to abortion, and the belief that you can still go to heaven despite your sins as long as you confess them and proclaim your faith in Christ.

Yet, somehow, evangelical Christians and megachurches are exerting more power than ever. They captured the Republican Party and celebrated one of history’s worst philanderers and conmen in order to force their beliefs onto others. In effect, many US churches have become little more than political clubs. And because they are tax exempt, we are all helping to pay for their clubhouses and their efforts to spread hate.

The Internal Revenue Service has a long-standing rule prohibiting churches and charities from engaging in politics by defining a 501(c)(3) organization as one “which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.” It’s long past time that the IRS enforced it. Indeed, it also should be applied to campaigning on behalf of the GOP’s continuous culture wars.

That won’t solve all of the problems with organized religions. But it would be a start.

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?

Anatomy Of A Conspiracy To Commit Sedition.

This week, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed charges of conspiracy to commit sedition against 11 members of the paramilitary group that calls itself the Oath Keepers. Given what we now know, it should be an open and shut case. The real question is: When will those who inspired and directed the insurrectionists of January 6, 2021, also be charged?

Lest you think that question is little more than partisan hyperbole, consider the following list of documented attempts by Donald J. Trump and his allies to subvert our democracy and to undermine our government:

1 – Prior to the election, Trump says it will be rigged if he doesn’t win while he and his allies deliberately try to rig the election themselves.
2 – GOP-controlled states attempt to limit or ban mail-in ballots despite the pandemic.
3 – Trump appoints Louis DeJoy to the position of Postmaster General, and DeJoy sets about creating mail delays in order to prevent many mail-in ballots from arriving on time.
4 – Trump calls for his armed supporters to go to the polls to “protect the sanctity of the election” with the intent of intimidating voters.
5 – Having encouraged his supporters to vote in person and knowing that those ballots will be counted more quickly than mail-in ballots, Trump states that whoever is ahead in the ballot counting at midnight should be declared the winner.
6 – As heavily populated precincts continue to count ballots into the next day, Trump tries to stop the count.
7 – Armed Trump supporters surround the Maricopa County Arizona counting center and threaten election workers.
8 – Trump is furious when Biden is legitimately declared the winner and claims the election was stolen.
9 – Trump calls state election officials, threatens them, and demands they find enough votes for him to win. One of those officials, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, has the foresight to make an audio recording of Trump’s call.
10 – Trump and his allies file more than 40 lawsuits claiming, among other things, that the electronic voting machines were corrupted. All of the lawsuits fail.
11 – Trump, his legal team, and his supporters claim that Dominion voting machines deleted 2.7 million votes, and that China had dumped millions of paper ballots into ballot boxes in place of Trump ballots that were shredded and fed to chickens.
12 – Trump refuses to permit his administration officials to meet with Biden’s transition team.
13 – Trump pressures his Attorney General William Barr to declare the election fraudulent, and to call for a new election.
14 – When Barr insists there was no widespread fraud, Trump attempts to name his attorney Sydney Powell as special prosecutor to declare the election was fraudulent and to use martial law to keep Trump in power.
15 – Conservative attorney, John Eastman, creates a plan that calls for Trump’s allies in Congress to challenge the electors and for Pence to invoke the 12th Amendment by declaring the election “contested” and calling for a House vote by state delegations. Since Republicans controlled more states than Democrats, the House vote would likely give Trump the presidency.
16 – To continue the fight to overturn the election results, Trump’s associates create a “War Room” in the Willard Hotel with Oath Keepers acting as bodyguards for Roger Stone and other Trump associates.
17 – Trump continues to put enormous pressure on Pence to stop the certification of election results. But, after discussing the matter with former Vice-President Dan Quayle, Pence responds that doing so would be unconstitutional.
18 – Trump, his associates and their propaganda networks continue to claim the election was stolen, inciting Trump supporters to act.
19 – When Attorney General Barr resigns, Trump threatens to replace acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen unless he declares the election fraudulent. And Jeffrey Clark, a Trump-appointed environment law chief at the DOJ, tries to coerce Rosen into signing a letter declaring the election results invalid.
20 – When “Stop the Steal” organizers receive permits for the January 5 and 6 rallies, the Trump administration and Capitol Police decide to limit the number and duties of National Guard members. They seem to be worried only about the safety of Trump protestors.
21 – GOP legislators in seven states send forged documents to the National Archives and the President of the Senate (VP Mike Pence) with phony lists of Trump electors.
22 – The Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and other rightwing Trump supporters call for everyone to go to Washington on January 6. Trump advisor, Steve Bannon, is reported to have said, “We’re going to bury Biden on January 6th, (expletive) bury him.”
23 – Days before January 6, it appears that some Trump supporters in Congress gave tours of the Capitol building for reconnaissance. Indeed, it appeared that some insurrectionists had maps of the building.
24 – In advance of January 6, the Oath Keepers begin to execute a plan to invade the Capitol. They store weapons in Arlington, VA hotels and establish a Quick Reaction Force to deliver the weapons to Capitol grounds if needed.
25 – In the early morning hours of January 6, pipe bombs are left in front of the RNC and DNC buildings as an apparent diversionary tactic.
26 – On January 6, as Trump and his supporters are riling up the “Stop the Steal” crowd, Oath Keepers and others in tactical gear create diversions at the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial which draw a police response.
27 – As Trump’s GOP congressmen are objecting to the electoral count certification, Trump calls for the crowd to march up Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol and “fight like hell for their country.” He says he will go with them. Instead, he goes to watch the events unfold on TV in the White House dining room.
28 – Trump watches as the insurrectionists break into the Capitol and stop the certification of the electoral vote. The insurrectionists erect gallows and search the building for Pence, Pelosi, and others.
29 – Hours into the assault on the Capitol, Trump’s children and others reportedly beg him to call it off. He continues to watch the insurrection on TV.
30 – It takes nearly 2 hours for the acting Secretary of Defense and Trump officials to approve calling out the National Guard in support of the Capitol police. Only then does Trump record a video message to his supporters to go home, saying “We love you.”
31 – After the Capitol is finally cleared, Congress returns to finish the job of certifying Biden as President of the United States of America. In the hallways and Rotunda, they walk past broken doors, glass, and statues that have been smeared with feces and blood.
32 – Trump, his supporters, and his propaganda networks decry news coverage of the events saying that the insurrectionists were no different than typical tourists.
33 – Trump tries to block or delay the release of his administration’s files leading up to and following the insurrection.
34 – Officials from the Trump administration and his allies refuse to respond to requests and subpoenas from the House January 6 Committee.
35 – Despite all evidence to the contrary, Trump and his allies continue to claim the election was stolen.

From all of this, it should be easy to reach a conclusion that Donald J. Trump and his allies inspired and incited an insurrection designed to prevent the winner of the 2020 presidential election from taking office then tried to cover up their actions. At very least, they and their supporters conspired to obstruct a legitimate government function. That charge alone can result in a sentence of 30 days to two years imprisonment. But if they are found guilty of willfully trying to overthrow our government by force (And how else could you describe an armed insurrection to prevent a duly elected president from taking office?), the perpetrators can be fined and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

With either charge, it should be simple for an independent jury of their peers to reach a guilty verdict. After all, they didn’t commit those crimes in secret. They did it openly and in full view of the public.