Trump Is No Martyr.

He’s the victim (and the beneficiary) of the hate he himself created.

From the beginning of his presidential ambitions, violence and talk of violence have been a feature, indeed the central theme, of Trump’s rallies and his administration.

He has aimed his hatred at immigrants and refugees, at Muslims and people of color, at Mexicans and Latinos, at Chinese and other Asians, at liberals and Democrats, even at the infants and children of immigrants.

And at the end of his administration, he inspired his followers to violently attack police, members of Congress, and his own vice-president.

Trump encouraged his supporters to rough up protestors at his rallies. He ordered federal agencies to attack non-violent demonstrators to clear the streets for his photo-op of holding a Bible upside-down in front of a church he never attended.

He embraced violent gangs like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. He expressed absolutely no regret for his supporter’s brutal attack on Paul Pelosi. As an attention-seeking playboy of the 80s, he paid for a full-page ad calling for the execution of the Central Park Five – five innocent young black men falsely accused of a horrific crime.

And now he stands to benefit from an apparent assassination attempt by a member of his own hateful political party. As a result of the attack, some media have already pronounced him the winner of this year’s presidential election.

Why?

Trump very much created an atmosphere of hatred, violence and political division. He and his allies are responsible for thousands of death threats against political rivals, election workers, judges, prosecutors, law enforcement, the LGBTQ+ community, and others. They have created Project 2025, a 900-page plan for a fascist, autocratic government that will take power should Trump once again occupy the White House.

Of course, that doesn’t mean he deserves to die from the violence he created. But he sure as hell shouldn’t benefit from it! From the assassination attempt, he only suffered a scratched ear and the embarrassment of falling out of his 3- inch lift shoes while one rally-goer was killed, and others critically wounded.

Save your sympathy for them and others who deserve it.

Name-Calling.

Donald J. Trump has been called a lot of things. Some good. Some bad. Some accurate. Others not.

For example, in the 80s, Trump was called a playboy, a developer, or simply The Donald.

In the 90s and early 2000s, he became known as an author (at least according to the book covers), a womanizer, a TV celebrity, an entrepreneur, a billionaire, and even a brand.

Beginning in 2016, Trump called himself really smart, brilliant, and a stable genius. And he made it clear that the titles he sought were president for life, dictator, a king.

Evangelicals have called him a great Christian, an avenging angel, Christ-like, the second coming of their savior.

To some he’s a victim and their favored presidential candidate. Still others revile him referring to him as Putin’s Puppet, a wannabe autocrat, a serial liar, a bully, a racist, a security risk, a traitor and a loser, a twice-impeached failed president, a conman, a cheater, a fraudster, a crime boss, a narcissist, a psychopath, a p*ssy-grabbing misogynist, an adulterer, a sexual assaulter, a rapist, an orange sh*tweasel, and worse.

But after May 30, 2024, thanks to a 12-person jury of his peers, one label will forever stand out above all the others: Convicted felon.

How The Party Of Lincoln Became The Party Of Trump.

The Republican Party was once the party of abolitionists and the party of progressives. Its first leader, Abraham Lincoln, not only held the nation together during the Civil War. He signed the Emancipation Proclamation that ended one of the saddest chapters in U.S. history.

Unfortunately, a political party operating under the same name is now attacking the very foundations of our nation…the democratic principles established by our founders. Of course, the transformation of the once Grand Old Party didn’t happen overnight. After Lincoln, the party soon embraced the privileged and the powerful – the entrepreneurs rightfully labeled the “robber barons” who presided over the Gilded Age, a period of excesses marked by political corruption and unbridled materialism.

During that time, the nation was controlled by a succession of Republican presidents who presided over runaway capitalism founded on “Horse and Sparrow” economics – the theory that if you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through and fall to the ground for the sparrows to eat.

As disgusting as that idea is, it didn’t disappear along with the Gilded Age. Though it was credited, in part, for the Panic of 1896 and the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Republican Party clung to the idea through every succeeding administration until it resurfaced under Reagan who renamed it “Supply Side” economics (aka “Trickle Down” theory or, perhaps more accurately “Voodoo” economics), and it continued under George W. Bush and Donald Trump. Again and again, it has resulted in economic failure for the majority of working Americans.

But failed economic policy alone is not responsible for where the Republican Party stands today.

In an effort to rig the 1968 election, Richard Nixon treasonously undermined the Vietnam peace talks, promising the Vietnamese that they would get a better deal if they stalled negotiations to help him be elected. During that period, Lee Atwater launched the party’s so-called southern strategy to embrace southern racists who were angry about integration and the Voting Rights Act. And in 1974, Nixon was forced out of office following the revelations of Watergate in which he overtly stole the 1972 presidential election.

In the late 70s and 1980s, Paul Weyrich used Roe v Wade to bring anti-abortion evangelical Christians into the Republican fold.

Not to be outdone by Nixon, Ronald Reagan also committed a treasonous act by undermining the Iran hostage negotiations. He, too, promised a better deal if the negotiations were delayed in order to help his electoral chances.

Of course, it was Reagan who also named the federal government – the government of the people, by the people and for the people – as the enemy of most Americans. He also famously led the attack against labor unions, favoring multinational corporations over workers. And his presidency ended in a cloud of corruption when his administration was caught illegally selling weapons to Iran to finance death squads in Central America.

In the 1990s, political divisions among Americans really began to take hold after Newt Gingrich was selected as Speaker of the House. To ensure his caucus would follow his lead, he threatened to have them “primaried” if they failed to vote as he wished, effectively ending true representation of their constituents.

During that time, the Republican congressional majority led an impeachment of President Bill Clinton that began with an unsuccessful investigation into a real estate and ended with the exposure of an illicit relationship with an intern.

In 2000, George W. Bush’s brother, Jeb, and a conservative majority Supreme Court helped “W” steal the presidential election. Once in office, he cut taxes for the wealthy, led us into an unpopular war with Iraq based on lies, and ended his term with a financial crisis that resulted in the Great Recession.

In 2016 and 2017, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blatantly stole two SCOTUS seats for conservatives. And that was far from the only Republican theft. Trump was able to steal the election through a variety of schemes with the help of Russia, news of an investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server, and a cover-up of Trump’s extramarital affairs with a porn star and a former Playboy centerfold model.

Once in power, Trump used the Oval Office for personal enrichment, a highly partisan failed response to a public emergency (the Covid-19 pandemic), and tax cuts for the wealthy. And, like Nixon, he turned to Roger Stone and a host of other dirty tricksters in an attempt to steal the 2020 election. He even encouraged his supporters to engage in a violent insurrection to prevent the peaceful transition of power.

Republican administrations have overseen repeated economic failures, financial inequality, increased poverty, at least one war based on lies, and corporate consolidation resulting in numerous monopolies. They have allowed the NRA to flood our streets with increasingly lethal military-style weaponry. They have weakened the institutions that have made this country great. And they have led us to the brink of autocracy.

It wasn’t just one man or one term that corrupted the GOP. The transition of the party from the idealistic Party of Lincoln to the criminal enterprise that is the Party of Trump is the result of a series of planned events that prioritized party over nation, money over freedom, and power over honesty.

It’s Still Russia, Russia, Russia.

Here we go again.

In 2016, it was clear that Russia interfered in our presidential election to help Trump win the White House. Not only was the Trump campaign initially led by Paul Manafort, a longtime consultant to the former Russia-backed president of Ukraine. Trump, himself, had been lifted out of bankruptcy by Russian oligarchs who had injected hundreds of millions of dollars into the Trump organization through questionable real estate deals.

And there was more. Much more!

In late 2015, Ivanka Trump connected Michael Cohen with a Putin ally who promised business and political synergy with the Trump organization and the Trump campaign. In early 2016, Alexander Torshin offered to arrange a meeting between Trump and Putin. In 2016, Torshin attended the NRA’s annual convention where he met with Don Jr. And, in 2016, on the same day as the third Republican presidential debate, Trump signed a letter of intent to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

In fact, despite former attorney general Bill Barr’s claims that the Mueller Report had “exonerated” the Trump crime family, Robert Mueller’s investigation uncovered a dizzying number of additional links between Trump, his campaign, the GOP, and Russia. Trump and his campaign had even openly solicited Russian support: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you are able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”

And though Mueller had uncovered hundreds of suspicious communications between the Trump campaign and Russia, he determined that the campaign’s use of encrypted messages would make it difficult to prove his case in court.

Even after the Mueller investigation, Trump maintained a suspicious relationship with Putin. Remember his closed-door meeting with the Russian ambassador in the Oval Office? The private meetings with Putin in which Trump confiscated the translator’s notes? Trump’s obvious man-crush on Putin in Helsinki? And the attempt to withhold military funds from Ukraine in exchange for dirt on Trump’s political rival which led to Trump’s first impeachment?

Turn the calendar to 2024, and we’re starting to see Trump’s relationship with Russia blossom once again.

Speaking at a recent rally in South Carolina, Trump noted that, as president, he once told a NATO member that he would encourage Russia to do whatever it wants to US allies that do not contribute enough to military spending. And he reiterated that position. Even more recently, it was reported that he is again planning on having Manafort, the 8-time convicted felon, help with his campaign.

Given that Trump and his cult (aka Republican Party) now refuse to support Ukraine (9 members of the House GOP caucus even voted against a resolution condemning Russia for abducting Ukrainian children), it’s almost certain that Russia will try to come to Trump’s aid again. That almost certainly means another blizzard of disinformation on social media, more cyberattacks on Democratic organizations, and more backdoor financial contributions to Trump’s campaign.

Even more worrying is the effect on our national security if Russian oligarchs pay off Trump’s hundreds of millions of dollars in civil penalties and he is re-elected. In essence, our nation would be controlled by an authoritarian Russian puppet who would feel obligated to do whatever Putin wants.

Weaponization? Or Justice?

Republicans would have you believe that the Biden administration has unfairly weaponized the FBI and DOJ to pursue charges against its political opponents. As a result, the House “Freedom Caucus” created a Weaponization Committee to investigate the matter. They are furious that Trump has been indicted and that more than 1,000 insurrectionists have been arrested.

Never mind that, unlike his predecessor, President Biden has taken a hands-off approach to all matters before the Department of Justice. Or that Attorney General Garland appointed an independent special counsel to investigate credible allegations against Trump. Or that the indictments were recommended by grand juries comprised of ordinary citizens.

The GOP should know better than to claim weaponization. After all, Republicans have become experts at weaponizing the government over a period of many decades.

Do you not remember Trump’s campaign promise to “Lock her up?” Do you not remember Republican-appointed FBI director Comey announcing the reopening of the investigation into Hillary’s emails months before the 2016 election? Do you not remember the Trump investigation of the Clinton foundation? Benghazi? Hunter Biden?

Have you forgotten the 7-year investigation into the Clintons – Whitewater, Travelgate, Troopergate, Lewinskygate, etc., etc., etc.? Going back even farther, how about Nixon using members of his administration to break into the offices of the DNC in an attempt to rig the 1972 election?

More recently, the GOP House majority censured Congressman Adam Schiff for simply doing his job and leading the first impeachment of Trump for attempting to shake down Ukraine for dirt on his political opponent. Is that not weaponization of government?

Sure, when Democrats controlled the House, they did push the Trump DOJ into an investigation of the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia. But there were many excellent reasons for doing so. The resulting special counsel investigation led by Robert Muller who was appointed by the Trump DOJ found evidence that Russia hacked the DNC and DCCC websites and shared the information with eager Trump campaign officials. The investigation led to 37 indictments and 7 convictions or guilty pleas. Mueller also identified multiple incidents of obstruction by Trump that would have led to charges if Barr didn’t believe that a sitting president is above the law.

House Democrats also impeached Trump twice. But that wasn’t an attempt by Democrats to weaponize the justice system. That was an attempt to serve justice!

If you want to see what weaponization of the justice system really looks like, wait until the next time Trump or another Republican sits in the Oval Office.

America’s Number One Crime Family.

For those of you who have not been keeping track, following is a list of charges, civil suits and investigations into Donald J. Trump (aka El Chumpo or Cheeto Benito) and his associates:

  1. Trump – Subject of a special counsel investigation into his 2016 campaign’s collusion with Russia. Although he and his Attorney General reported that he had been exonerated, that was not the conclusion of the Mueller Report. In fact, the report found much evidence of collusion, including dozens of contacts between campaign officials and Russian officials. The Mueller Report also noted numerous instances of potential obstruction of justice AG Barr refused to pursue.
  2. Trump – Impeached for denying foreign aid to Ukraine in order to force Ukraine to open an investigation into Trump’s 2020 political opponent.
  3. Trump – Impeached for inciting the insurrection of January 6, 2021.
  4. Trump – Found guilty of sexual assault and defamation against E. Jean Carroll. The day after the jury award of $5 million, Trump repeated the same defamatory statements on CNN’s “town hall” and is currently facing a lawsuit for $10 million.
  5. Trump – Indicted in New York for directing hush money payments to two women in order to cover up his extramarital affairs prior to the 2016 election, a charge for which his former attorney Michael Cohen was sentenced to prison.
  6. Trump – Indicted on 40 counts related to illegally retaining classified and Top-Secret documents under the Espionage Act and for obstruction of justice. Some of the documents are nuclear weapons secrets so sensitive, not even a sitting president can declassify them.
  7. Trump – A special grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia reportedly found cause to indict him of interfering with Georgia’s election. He is expected to be indicted in July or early August.
  8. Trump – Indicted in Washington DC on 4 counts, including obstruction and conspiracy for his actions in trying to overturn the 2020 election.
  9. Trump Companies – Found guilty of tax fraud in New York.
  10. Trump University – The “university” purported to teach the secrets of success in the real estate industry was sued by students who claimed they were duped. The lawsuit was settled for $25 million.
  11. Trump Charity – In 2019, the “charity” was shuttered, and Trump was court-ordered to pay $2 million for misusing charitable funds for his 2016 presidential campaign. The settlement also called for mandatory training for the foundation’s directors: Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Eric Trump.
  12. Trump – Numerous violations of the emoluments clause of the Constitution in which Trump solicited and received money from foreign dignitaries at his Washington D.C hotel.
  13. Michael Cohen – The Trump lawyer and fixer served time in prison for covering up Trump’s extramarital affairs with two women by paying them hush money at Trump’s direction.
  14. Allen Weisselberg – The Trump Companies CFO is serving time in prison for tax fraud.
  15. Michael Flynn – Trump’s campaign official and first National Security Adviser pled guilty to making false statements to the FBI regarding the Russia investigation. He was pardoned by Trump.
  16. Steve Bannon – Former CEO of Trump’s 2016 campaign and White House strategist, Bannon was indicted in 2020 for defrauding donors as part of a crowdfunding campaign to build the border wall. He was pardoned by Trump. Then in 2021, he was convicted by a grand jury for contempt of Congress for refusing to appear and testify about the January 6 insurrection. He is awaiting sentencing.
  17. Rick Gates – Trump campaign adviser pled guilty to charges of conspiracy against the U.S. and lying to investigators during the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
  18. Paul Manafort – Trump campaign chair and manager found guilty of tax fraud and bank fraud. He later pled guilty to charges of money laundering, witness tampering and illegal lobbying. He was pardoned by Trump thereby avoiding a 7-1/2-year prison sentence.
  19. George Papadopoulos – Trump campaign adviser pled guilty to lying to FBI agents regarding his contacts with prominent Russian officials during the campaign. He was pardoned by Trump.
  20. Roger Stone – The Trump campaign adviser and Proud Boys whisperer was indicted on 7 counts, including lying to Congress, obstruction of an official proceeding and witness tampering related to the Muller investigation. He was convicted and sentenced to a 3-year prison term. His sentence was commuted, and he received a full pardon from Trump. On January 5th, he was photographed with his bodyguard, an Oath Keepers leader who was convicted of seditious conspiracy.
  21. Rudy Giuliani – “America’s Mayor” and Trump crony has been found guilty of defaming two Georgia election workers. He was also hit with a $10 million lawsuit by a former aide for sexual assault and unpaid wages. In addition, he’s facing disbarment proceedings.
  22. George Nader – A foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, he was indicted and agreed to a plea deal for child pornography and transporting a minor for sex. Sentenced to 10 years in prison.
  23. Elliot Broidy – A fundraiser for Trump’s 2016 campaign and Trump’s inauguration, Broidy pled guilty to a secret lobbying campaign in which he collected millions of dollars. He was pardoned before Trump left office.
  24. Jeffrey Epstein – Trump denied knowing Epstein. Yet it seems he was a longtime friend and associate of Trump’s. Indeed, there are numerous photos of the two together, including at least one showing them with underage women. Epstein and his girlfriend were both convicted of sex crimes involving underage women.
  25. Tom Barrack – Indicted on seven counts for allegedly using his relationship with Trump to allegedly “advance the interests of and provide intelligence to the UAE while simultaneously failing to notify the Attorney General that their actions were taken at the direction of senior UAE officials.” He was later acquitted on all charges.
  26. Proud Boys – Four members of this violent group which supports Trump were found guilty of seditious conspiracy for their actions on January 6. A fifth member was found not guilty of seditious conspiracy charges but was also sentenced to prison.
  27. Oath Keepers – Three members of this far right extremist group and an associate were convicted of seditious conspiracy. All four are now serving prison terms.
  28. January 6 Insurrectionists – More than 1,000 of Trump supporters who assaulted police, smashed their way into the U.S. capitol, and threatened the Vice-President and Congress have been charged. Thus far, more than 476 have pled guilty.
  29. Fox News Channel – Pundits and guests on the GOP propaganda channel repeatedly made false and outrageous claims about Dominion and Smartmatic voting systems alleged participation in “stealing” the 2020 election from Trump. Fox eventually settled Dominion’s defamation case for $787.5 million. Smartmatic is suing Fox for $2.6 billion.
  30. Mike Lindell – The pillow guy, Trump supporter, and conspiracy theorist is being sued by Dominion for defamation. In this case, Dominion is seeking $1.3 billion in damages. And after a cyber expert took up Lindell’s challenge to debunk Lindell’s election data and won, Lindell was ordered to pay the $5 million prize offered.
  31. Jeffrey Clark – Federal investigators searched the home of the former Trump DOJ official regarding his role in pushing false claims over the 2020 election. No charges have yet been filed.
  32. Jared Kushner – Prior to the GOP taking control of the House of Representatives this year, the House Oversight Committee was investigating Saudi Arabia’s mysterious $2 billion deposit in Kushner’s investment firm. The transaction is particularly questionable given Kushner’s lack of experience as an investment adviser and his relationship to the former U.S. president.
  33. John Eastman – As a result of his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, Eastman is facing disbarment proceedings.
  34. Sidney Powell – Like Eastman, the former Trump attorney is also facing possible disbarment for her actions following the 2020 election.
  35. Lin Wood – Another Trump attorney and election denier who chose to retire rather than face disbarment.
  36. Trump Cabinet Members – At least seven of the 24 members of Trump’s Cabinet were accused of abusing their perks of office. VA Secretary David Shulkin took a taxpayer-funded minivacation following two conferences in Europe. HUD Secretary Ben Carson ordered $31,000 worth of custom furniture for his office. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke used military helicopters for personal use. HHS Secretary Tom Price used taxpayer money to fund nearly $500,000 in charter flights. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin used military aircraft for personal trips, including his European honeymoon. Attorney General Jeff Sessions not only reportedly lied under oath about his Russian contacts during the 2016 election, but he also ordered a secure phone room installed in his office (for private conversations with the Russians?). EPA Secretary Scott Pruit eschewed government policy by flying First Class instead of Coach. And, of course, Trump himself famously bilked the federal government by spending most weekends at his golf resorts and overcharging the Secret Service for rooms.
  37. LIV Golf – The DOJ has opened an investigation into the merger of the Saudi-backed golf league with the PGA. Not only do the Saudi’s have ties to 9/11 and the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. The Trump family stands to benefit from the merger as a result of its ties to the Saudis.
  38. Russian Troll Farm – The Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll farm, was indicted for interfering in the 2016 election on behalf of Trump.
  39. Russian Military Intelligence Officers – 12 officers were indicted for numerous phishing attacks used to steal files from the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign then sharing them with the Trump campaign. They were also indicted for attempting to hack state elections websites.

In addition to the current and pending cases, it seems likely that others in the Trump family will be investigated, including Trump’s adult children: Donald Trump Jr, Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner.

And, if members of the 2016 Trump campaign had not used encrypted messaging, there almost certainly would have been additional criminal charges stemming from the Russia investigation.

Should Trump or one of his imitators and enablers be elected in 2024, we will likely see a crime spree that makes this pale by comparison. Indeed, it may well have global implications for the future of democracy and, as a result of their denial of the climate crisis, the future of our planet.

(NOTE: This post has been updated to include additional criminal charges and proceedings.)

 

CNN’s Suicide Pact With Trump.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s Time To Start Using The F Word.

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

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

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

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

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

This America may be even worse!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The GOP Dilemma: Choosing The Most Cruel Candidate For 2024.

Is it Don The Con Trump who ripped babies from the arms of immigrants, whose actions and inaction led to the deaths of 1.1 million Americans from Covid, who called for the murder of immigrants and protesters, who gave support to war criminal Vladimir Putin, who incited a violent coup?

Is it Mike Pence who, as Vice-President, blessed all of Trump’s cruel excesses and cloaked them in a veneer of religiosity?

Is it Ron DeSantis whose “War on Woke” has banned books, threatened teachers, and marginalized and denied rights to blacks and the LGBTQ community?

Is it Greg Abbott who has led the fight against women’s rights, who encouraged the proliferation of guns – even after the mass murder of children at Uvalde, who destroyed public schools, who competed with DeSantis in a game of busing immigrants to northern cities.

Or is it an as yet unknown candidate who is capable of even more deceit and cruelty – perhaps Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, John Bolton, Kristi Noem, Kim Reynolds, Bill Lee, Tate Reeves, Mark Meadows or Mike Pompeo?

Cruelty is, after all, the only thing the MAGA/Christian Nationalist/Own-The-Libs organization seems to care about. Certainly not a functioning federal government (witness the current House majority). Not the future of our democracy (witness January 6 and voter suppression laws). Not personal freedom (witness anti-abortion, anti-trans and anti-gay laws). Not law and order (witness gun proliferation). Not the future of our planet. (Climate crisis? What climate crisis?) Not human rights. (Who cares about immigrants and the poor?) And most certainly not the truth (witness the depositions in the Dominion v Fox News case).

The transformation of the organization from the Party of Lincoln to its current fascist state has taken more than 50 years. And even for someone like me, who was repulsed by the GOP’s actions at an early age, the change has been shocking.

That’s not to dismiss the GOP’s treasonous past, beginning with Nixon’s interference in the Vietnam peace talks by sending an emissary to convince the North Vietnamese into believing he would offer them a better deal if they postponed peace negotiations until after the election. There was also his dirty tricks squad which interfered with his opponents’ campaigns and ultimately broke into the Watergate headquarters of the DNC in an effort to improve Nixon’s election chances.

There was Reagan’s deal with Iran to delay the release of American hostages until after the election, apparently in exchange for weaponry as part of the Iran-Contra scandal.

There was Jeb Bush’s interference in the 2000 election which cost upward of 10,000 Floridians (mostly Democrats) their right to vote.

And, of course, there’s the GOP’s ongoing effort to rig elections through extreme gerrymandering, voter IDs, and reducing the number of polling places and voting hours in heavily Democratic and mostly black districts.

So, who will be next to best exemplify the sentiments of the Republican Party and become its 2024 presidential candidate? It’s a difficult question. Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Pol Pot, Vlad the Impaler, Josef Stalin, and Mao Zedong are no longer available.

The GOP And Traditional Churches Have Suffered The Same Fate.

Both devoured from within by Bible-thumping, government-hating, election-denying Americans who are gleefully leading the attack on democracy and civility.

Traditional community churches have been overwhelmed by mega churches led by demagogues spewing prosperity gospel (the notion that sanctimonious zealots will receive riches beyond their imaginations through blind devotion to their version of the gospel). Despite its obvious contradictions to the teaching of Jesus, this is a compelling argument for those who reject critical thinking and believe in the infallibility of their leaders. Worse, this warped interpretation of the gospel is often accompanied by large doses of hate for non-believers, immigrants, and the poor.

Over the same period, the GOP has fallen prey to a conman who has embraced white supremacists and gun-toting, treasonous militias – his way paved by Lee Atwater’s southern strategy which, following passage of the Voting Rights Act, reached out to the southern proponents of Jim Crow-style segregation; by James M. Buchanan’s libertarian economics; and by Ronald Reagan’s embrace of the ironically named Moral Majority led by Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and other power-hungry televangelists.

These two groups have merged to create the MAGA movement that threatens our nation today. Their shared grievances of seeing their white Christian majority diminished by immigrants of color, their disdain for expertise and education, their lack of compassion for the poor and the weak, their hatred of progressives has led them to embrace a would-be autocrat who they believe will restore power to the white Christian majority.

This new Republican coalition has even separated itself from GOP icons like Ronald Reagan, John McCain, Dwight Eisenhower, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln, dismissing them as weak and misguided, unwilling to take the steps necessary to maintain power and destroy the libs. Add to this toxic mix the millions of followers of Q-Anon with their wild conspiracy theories and you have a recipe for the destruction of the world’s oldest and most powerful democracy.

Without serious opposition and intervention, the destruction is not only likely. It’s almost inevitable whether by acceptance, inaction, or by violence.

To stop it, Democrats, liberals, and progressives must vote in numbers never seen before. Longtime conservatives must reject the current iteration of their party and vote for candidates of the only political party – the Democratic party – that still believes in democracy. To save our nation, they must eviscerate their party before they can restore it. They must ignore the threats from MAGAts and join with other longtime conservatives who have left the GOP, including former party leaders, candidates, strategists, and government officials, to build the party anew.

The US needs a political party to compete with Democrats. It needs a Republican party. Just not this one.