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.

Treat Trump Like A Winner.

Reality Winner, that is, the 6-year Air Force veteran, recipient of a commendation for meritorious service, and former contractor for the National Security Agency who was sentenced to 5 years and 3 months in federal prison, plus 3 years of supervised released.

What horrible crime did she commit?

She was convicted of violating the Espionage Act of 1917, 18 U.S.C. § 793(e) for sharing a classified document with The Intercept. That document revealed that Russia had interfered with the 2016 presidential election on Trump’s behalf through a cyberattack on a US election software provider and spearfishing emails to more than 100 election officials. Without Winner’s actions, US voters may never have learned of Russia’s interference.

In other words, Reality Winner acted as a whistleblower in service to the American citizenry.

Contrast her actions with that of our deposed president and dictator wannabe who was found to have stashed 700 classified and top-secret documents at his home in Mar-a-Lago. The FBI search warrant used to search his home cited the very same charge as Winner. The difference is that Winner was trying to perform a public service. And Trump was almost certainly expecting to profit off our nation’s secrets.

There is also a substantial difference in the threat that the two represent. The classified material that Winner exposed could not reasonably be considered a threat to national security. On the other hand, the material Trump hoarded represents our nation’s most highly guarded secrets, including information about our nuclear arsenal and our human assets (spies) working undercover around the globe. Such documents should have never been removed from a SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility), let alone stored in a resort frequented by dozens of members including foreign nationals.

So, to paraphrase the MAGA chants of 2015 and 2016: Lock him up! Our nation’s security may depend on it.

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.

Why It’s Entirely Appropriate To Call Republicans Fascists.

The ideology of today’s Republican Party not only meets the original definition of fascism (government by the corporate right), but Republicans have also embraced many of the bullying actions of some of history’s most notorious fascists.

Cloaked in nationalism and a veneer of religion, they are well on their way to diminishing many of our constitutional rights. For example, they are focused on making it more difficult for blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, and Democrats to vote. They have labeled Black Lives Matter protests as terrorism. They are determined to take away the right of women to control their own bodies. In their attempts to block immigration, they have demanded unlawful arrests and unlawful searches and seizure of property. They have passed laws to undermine protections for minority groups. And they seem fixated on taking away freedom of religion and freedom from religion by naming the US a Christian nation.

More worryingly, despite all evidence to the contrary, a super majority of Republicans actually believe that Joe Biden, our 46th president who was duly elected by a large margin of popular and electoral votes, is illegitimately in office. And a significant number of Republicans believe that violence is an acceptable way to deal with losing an election. Indeed, many Republicans – including those in Congress – have condoned, justified and excused the violent insurrection of January 6.

Moreover, a recent study published by the V-Dem Institute at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden (an independent research institute that measures the stability of the world’s democracies) shows that the Republican Party in the US is flouting democratic norms and is becoming more akin to authoritarian parties in Turkey and Hungary. As proof, prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, many Republican leaders and pundits, including the former Republican president of the United States and MotherTucker Carlson, embraced the authoritarian rule of Vladimir Putin, calling him a “genius” and “a better leader than Joe Biden.” In fact, it’s no secret that the twice-impeached former president openly admired Putin, bragged about accepting Russian funds for his companies, tried to delay sanctions against Russia, and held military shipments to Ukraine hostage for political purposes. In addition, many in Trump’s 2016 campaign had multiple contacts with Russian operatives. And the NRA has admitted to taking money from 23 Russian sources and it’s suspected of illegally funneling much of that money to Republican political campaigns.

Having thus enabled and encouraged Putin, Republicans are now crying crocodile tears over Russia’s war crimes while, at the same time, blaming President Biden for being “weak” and not doing enough to defend Ukraine.

None of this should come as a surprise to any casual political observer given that the Party has elected and supported such notables as Sarah Palin, Paul Gosar, Jim Jordan, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Louie Gohmert, and Lauren Boebert – people who are more suited to occupy a mental ward than a congressional seat. Much of the rest of the party, people like Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul, Kevin McCarthy, and Ron Johnson, are cynical opportunists who are far more concerned about winning office and staying in office than they are about maintaining our democracy.

If you want more evidence of the Republican Party’s decline into fascism, think back to the summer of 2020 when the Republicans most hated bogeymen was a loosely-knit group of counter-protesters calling themselves Antifa, which – wait for it – stands for anti-fascists.

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.

The January 6th Co-Conspirators Who Have Yet To Be Named.

They likely won’t be charged for their role in the insurrection. But the people most responsible for the attack on the Capitol and on the world’s longest-running democracy were not the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys, Roger Stone, Michael Flynn, etc. or even Donald J. Trump. They didn’t use pepper spray, flag poles, spears, and riot shields to assault police officers.

They used microphones, cameras, and websites instead.

You see, the insurrection began long before January 6, 2021. It actually began in 1987, during Ronald Reagan’s second term, when the Federal Communications Commission repealed the Fairness Doctrine, an FCC policy that originated in 1949 requiring broadcasters to present information in a fair and truthful manner that clearly distinguished news from opinion.

Once freed from the shackles of truth and fairness, broadcast media owners more concerned with politics, ratings, and money than journalistic integrity unleashed the likes of Rush Limbaugh to relentlessly attack the government and the so-called “pointy-headed liberals.” News and truth were replaced by opinion and lies based on fear, anger, and hate. And listeners who had long been conditioned to believe what they heard over the airwaves accepted those lies as fact.

Farmers and laborers were particularly vulnerable to the fiction that Rush was pedaling. Since they spent hours working alone, the radio was a welcome companion on their tractors and at their worksites. Already angry that prices of commodities had tanked in the 1970s and that worker’s salaries had not kept pace with inflation, they were easy prey for a radio host who blamed their problems on immigrants, inner city “thugs” and government bureaucrats.

And things soon got worse. Other unscrupulous actors, attracted by Rush’s booming ratings, joined him on the airwaves to denounce liberals and government under the guise of presenting the “real truth.” The “truth” mainstream media – aka responsible journalists – won’t tell you.

Then Rupert Murdoch and his conservative lapdog, Roger Ailes, entered the picture with Fox News. Though it claimed to be “Fair and Balanced”, it was neither. Certainly, it built a sizeable news gathering operation to fill its 24/7 programming schedule. But it constantly combined news with opinion making it all but impossible to distinguish one from the other. And, instead of hiring respected journalists to present the information, Ailes hired a team of carnival barkers, such as Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Laura Ingraham, and Tucker Carlson, to feed viewers a constant stream of far-right ideas and falsehoods.

Around the same time, there was tremendous growth in websites and social media where anyone with a computer or cellphone could make their opinions known. The more outrageous and sensational the opinions and the lies, the more clicks and money to be gained.

All of this combined to create a rightwing politician’s wet dream – a propaganda network that would be the envy of Nazi Germany’s Josef Goebbels. It was the perfect environment for an accomplished con man like Donald J. Trump.

Rush, Fox, and others used Trump to increase their ratings by further sensationalizing their racist anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ, anti-feminist, anti-government, anti-Democrat agenda. And he used them to give credibility to his lies and to grow his poll numbers. Even after entering the White House, Trump relied on them as his unofficial advisors.

It was this same cult of rightwing media bullies and buffoons who amplified and perpetuated Trump’s Big Lie. They decried the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. They encouraged attacks on state and county election officials. They advertised and promoted the January 6th “Stop the Steal” rally. And they reveled in the notion that rightwing extremists in Congress along with Vice-President Mike Pence could stop the certification of Biden’s win and reassign the selection of electoral votes to Republican-dominated state legislators.

They deserve every bit as much of the credit for the attempt to violently overthrow our government as any of the extremist militias and politicians whose shameful actions almost succeeded in destroying our democracy.

They must be held accountable. If the courts of law can’t do it, the courts of public opinion must.

Do Republicans Believe In Democracy? Have They Ever?

It’s a legitimate question. Especially given their response to the 2020 election.

Instead of accepting the fact that Biden won by an overwhelming margin and conducting a self-examination of their policies, Republicans have chosen to believe Trump’s big lie that the election was “stolen.” That is simply not true as confirmed by more than 60 court cases filed by the Trump campaign that found there was no evidence of voting improprieties. Georgia? Led by the Republican Secretary of State, two recounts confirmed Biden’s win. Arizona? The state has long had one of the secure election processes in the US. Pennsylvania? Biden won the state by more than 34,000 votes. What’s more, federal election officials, including Trump appointees, issued a joint statement that the 2020 election was the “most secure in American history.”

So what is the Republican response? They’re dead set on counting and recounting the votes until they like the results. As if that’s not enough, they’ve set about making it more difficult for minorities and Democrats to vote by restricting early voting, mail-in voting, poll hours, poll locations, and instituting new ID requirements. In some states, they’ve introduced bills to limit the powers of Democratic Secretaries of State and County Recorders. And, in Georgia, they even passed a law making it illegal to provide water to those waiting in line to vote!

All of this is despite the fact that in many of those states and districts, down ballot Republicans won their elections. So why would Democrats “rig” the presidential election while permitting other Republicans to win? It simply does not make sense!

This isn’t the first time Republicans have been at odds with democracy.

In the 1950s, Republicans led by Senator Joe McCarthy, suspended the civil rights of thousands of Americans who were accused of having attended a communist rally, listened to a socialist speaker, or even reported on them. They “blacklisted” hundreds of Americans, causing them their reputations and their livelihoods.

In 1960, without evidence, Republicans screamed that the election was rigged for JFK.

In 1968, Republican candidate Richard M. Nixon sent envoys to the Paris peace talks between the US and Vietnam asking the Vietnamese to delay the talks until after the election to improve his election chances. He won. But, as a result, the war continued another 2-1/2 years and thousands more died. And, in 1972, Republican incumbent Nixon subverted the election by ordering his “plumbers” group to break into the Democratic National Committee’s offices to steal information on his opponent.

Following Nixon’s example, in 1980, Republican candidate Ronald Reagan undermined hostage negotiations between Iran and the Carter administration promising Iranians a better deal if they delayed the hostages’ release until after the election. Several years later, Reagan secretly sold US-made weapons to Iran in exchange for funding for a secret war conducted by the Central American Contras.

In 2000, the conservative majority of Supreme Court, stopped the recount in Florida and awarded the election to Republican George W. Bush. A consortium of media later confirmed that a significant majority of Floridians intended to vote for Al Gore. But Gore’s victory was undermined by Governor Jeb Bush and the Republican Secretary of State who purged thousands of voters from voting rolls in Democratic majority counties. As a result, despite winning the popular vote, Gore fell 5 electoral votes short of Bush.

In 2016, Republican candidate Donald J. Trump used polling information and strategies stolen from the DNC, DCCC, and the Hillary Clinton campaign in addition to a large disinformation campaign orchestrated by Russians to defeat Clinton by narrow margins in four key states. Trump lost the popular vote by more than 3 million.

And, despite losing the 2020 election by more than 7-1/2 million votes and 74 electoral votes (an electoral margin Trump called a landslide in 2016), Trump enflamed his supporters and aimed them at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 to stop the certification of the vote. Though the violent insurrection failed, Trump and his most virulent Republican supporters continue to call for the violent overthrow of our duly elected government. Trump’s former National Security Advisor and convicted felon, Gen. Michael Flynn, even called for a Myanmar-style military coup at a QAnon gathering last week.

It’s clear that, as long as the Republican Party exists in its current form, our democracy is in extreme jeopardy.

Welcome To The GQP.

No, that is not a typo. The Republican Party, once led by Abraham Lincoln who held the Union together and emancipated slaves, by Theodore Roosevelt who broke up corporate monopolies and established National Parks, and by Dwight D. Eisenhower who led the defeat of Hitler and helped build America’s middle class, has become the party of bizarre, and delusional, conspiracy theories – the Grand QAnon Party (GQP). Once dedicated to fiscal conservation, the party is now dedicated to conserving white power, institutional racism, and the massive wealth of billionaires.

Instead of constitutionalists, it’s led by radical insurrectionists dedicated only to gaining and retaining power.

The change didn’t happen overnight. It began when the wealthy in the John Birch Society began using their resources to elect compliant officials. It took root with the nurturing of “Christian” evangelicals who selectively used Bible verses to justify discrimination against minorities and to use so-called social issues to gain political power. It grew more radical under the watch of Newt Gingrich who, as Speaker of the House, demanded complete unity and fealty of his caucus on the penalty of being “primaried.” Its members became increasingly dangerous and delusional under the tutelage of the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Jeanine Pirro, and Alex Jones. The Internet and social media allowed the infection to spread unchecked. And the asylum doors were thrown open by Donald J. Trump.

In the 1970s, we saw Richard Nixon divide the nation and undermine our electoral process with the burglary at Watergate. In the 1980s, we saw Ronald Reagan destroy the middle class with his Trickle Down Economics and circumvent the Constitution and Congress with the Iran-Contra affair. In the 2000s, we saw George W. Bush use falsehoods and disinformation to lead us into war. In 2010, we saw members of the Tea Party lie and bully their way into Congress and threaten to shut down our government unless they got their way. In 2014, we saw congressmen and legislators run to the side of Cliven Bundy and his militia who had aimed their weapons at government officials acting on a legal court order. Beginning in 2016, we saw racism and corruption on full display at the highest levels of our government. We saw our president playing footsie with our nation’s enemies at the same time he verbally attacked our military heroes. And, on January 6, we saw the inevitable result of conspiracy theories, hate, racism and a violent sense of privilege run amok.

That shameful event – the worst attack on democracy in our nation’s history – should result in those who inspired the attack being sentenced to prison. It should result in all members of the GQP paying a steep political price. It should end with Marjorie Taylor-Greene, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Lauren Boebert, Paul Gosar, Andy Biggs, Matt Gaetz, Jim Jordan, Kevin McCarthy, Mitch McConnell and others of the Sedition Caucus being removed from office. But it likely won’t.

Instead, we will almost certainly see Donald J. Trump acquitted by GQP members of the Senate. Not because he is innocent of the charges. But because a majority of them still wish to curry favor with their treasonous autocratic leader.

It’s clear that we are now perched on the precipice of a second Civil War. But this time, the division isn’t over slavery. It’s over reason and truth.

Why InfoWars, The NRA, Rightwing Media, And The GOP Should Be Labeled Terrorist Organizations.

Following the insurrection at the Capitol, the FBI classified the Proud Boys as a terrorist group. Even prior to the attack on our democracy, the FBI warned Congress of the threat posed by domestic terrorists. But no one in the Trump administration or in the GOP seemed to listen. Why? Because they had been inspiring domestic terrorists for many years.

Indeed, I believe the violent insurrection of January 6, was the inevitable result of decades of racist, anti-Democrat, anti-government rhetoric.

For example, the GOP reached out to white supremacists as early as the 1960s. The so-called southern strategy was to embrace southern racists who were unhappy with Democrats following passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Racists have been a reliable part of the Republican base ever since.

In 1968, Nixon and Agnew ran as “law and order” candidates as a way of courting white voters. (Ironic isn’t it, given their own crimes?) In 1980, Ronald Reagan served up racist dog whistles to assure southern support. And, by ending the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, he made the rightwing propaganda network possible, opening the airwaves to people like Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Mark Levin, Jeanine Pirro, Sean Hannity, and others to spout anti-government, anti-immigrant, and anti-Democrat hate 24/7. As more Americans tuned in to their hateful rants, the GOP lurched further and further to the extreme right. But not even those hatemongers could have envisioned what was to come.

Once Alex Jones entered the arena in 1999, the Republican Party began its descent into the dark sewers of politics. Jones used his InfoWars radio platform to peddle bizarre conspiracy theories and mostly worthless junk. InfoWars made Jones rich. But it also incited the lunatic fringe, which by then had become the base of the Republican Party. He claimed President Obama was a foreign-born Muslim terrorist. He dismissed mass shootings, including the slaughter of children at Sandy Hook Elementary, as “false flag” events staged by Democrats and liberals in order to institute gun control measures. He claimed a US military training exercise in the Southwest was an Obama plot to institute Sharia law. A master of getting attention, he further convinced his followers that Democrats and liberals were the root of all their problems; that they were actively trying to destroy America.

The rhetoric of Jones and the rest of the Republican propaganda network led to a series of angry confrontations between elected officials and armed Tea Partiers at Town Hall Meetings. It likely inspired the armed confrontation between the Oath Keepers and Bureau of Land Management officers at Cliven Bundy’s “ranch.” It almost certainly led to the armed standoff at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

These events seemed to serve as preliminaries for the insurrection to come and ushered in the presidency of Donald J. Trump.

From the time Trump descended his faux gold escalator to announce his candidacy, he pandered to racists by labeling immigrants as rapists, murderers, and thugs. And by calling for an end to political correctness, he was emboldening white supremist groups that were inclined to violence. In cities and towns nationwide, people of color were subjected to verbal and physical abuse as never before. People were berated, told to go back to where they came from, and beaten or killed. Brown babies were ripped from their parents’ arms and thrown in cages. Refugees from predominately black and brown countries were banned from entry. The violence of the racist mob in Charlottesville was dismissed by Trump stating there were “fine people on both sides.” Black Lives Matter protestors were called “very bad people” and “thugs.” And the almost mythical Antifa (short for Antifascists) was called worse.

Throughout, the NRA has continued to provide arms to potential terrorists and insurrectionists under the guise of freedom. Acting as a carnival barker for the gun industry, it pushed for more permissive gun laws and ever more lethal weaponry as a “guard against tyranny.” It made violent militias such as the Proud Boys, the Boogaloo Bois, the Oath Keepers, QAnon, and others possible. And it supported the campaigns of increasingly anti-American GOP candidates such as Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Paul Gosar, Andy Biggs, Debbie Lesko, Jay Jordan, Matt Gaetz, Josh Hawley, Lauren Boebert, and Marjorie Taylor Greene.

All of these people and organizations, as well as the billionaires who fund them, set the stage for the violent attempt to overthrow our democracy in favor of an autocracy to be led by president-for-life Trump.

Trump and his GOP enablers called his electoral defeat the result of fraudulent voting. They incited their violent followers to overturn the election using rightwing media as their megaphone. They told them to fight, to march to the Capitol and take back their country. Alex Jones and others called for a civil war against liberals and Democrats. And those who were inspired to attack the Capitol and Congress, were armed by guns made available by the NRA.

They are terrorists, plain and simple, who have caused more harm to Americans than al-Qaeda, ISIS and the Taliban combined. If they were Muslim or a foreign-based terrorist group, we would be readying drone strikes or preparing for all-out war. Instead, Republicans are asking us to move on, to simply forgive and forget. That is not only unrealistic. It’s unthinkable. All of them should and must be held accountable.

Trump’s War On Democracy.

January 6th was the latest, and hopefully the last, step in Trump’s plan to become president for life. To fully appreciate the seriousness of his attempted coup, it’s helpful to look at his actions leading up to the election and the plan to overthrow our government by assassinating congressional Democrats, independent Republicans, and even Vice-President Pence.

Following are the highlights or, more appropriately, the lowlights:

1 – More than a year ago, Trump attempted to weaken his likely election opponent by illegally withholding aid to Ukraine unless the nation announced an investigation of Hunter Biden and Joe Biden. It was this action that led to his first impeachment.

2 – Trump used his compliant Attorney General to announce an investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation claiming that Obama and Biden illegally “spied” on his 2016 campaign.

3 – Trump refused to say that he would accept election results unless he won. He repeatedly claimed that Democrats were trying to rig the election.

4 – Trump and his Republican supporters attempted to block all mail-in ballots claiming that it would open the election to widespread fraud. This was a transparent attempt to block Democratic votes, since Democrats had encouraged supporters to vote by mail to minimize their exposure to Covid-19.

5 – Trump replaced the Postmaster General with one of his donors and sycophants who apparently set about delaying and obstructing mail-in ballots, especially those in the key swing states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. At the same time, the Trump campaign sued to block states from counting ballots received after election day.

6 – Trump replaced the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security with inexperienced sycophants likely hoping that he could count on military support for his coup and a weakened response to his hostile takeover.

7 – Prior to election day, Trump claimed that the true winner of the election would be the candidate with the most votes by midnight and stated that any votes counted after that time would be fraudulent.

8 – On the night of the election, Trump claimed victory saying he won in a landslide.

9 – When Trump’s then-favorite TV channel, Fox News, called Arizona for Joe Biden, Trump went ballistic and ranted that it was fake news – that he won Arizona.

10 – When the media eventually called the election for Biden, Trump again claimed that it was fake news and claimed the results were fraudulent.

11 – Before states certified results, Trump demanded recounts in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

12 – When the recounts failed, Trump called Republican legislative leaders and governors in swing states demanding they reject Biden’s slate of electors and appoint their own.

13 – Trump’s lawyers filed 62 lawsuits in state and federal courts to overturn the election results. He organized “Stop the Steal” protests at state capitols across the country. And he tweeted that the election was rigged no less than 157 times. None of it worked.

14 – Trump called governors and secretaries of state to encourage them to overturn the election. When that didn’t work, he threatened them. He called Georgia’s Secretary of State 18 times before the Secretary finally accepted the call during which Trump asked the secretary to “find” enough votes for him to win.

15 – Trump promoted a “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, D.C. for the day Congress was to certify the electoral votes, tweeting, “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!” (Interestingly, the rates for Trump’s Washington hotel were raised to $4,200/night for the rally.)

16 – Trump tweeted that V.P. Pence could reject “fraudulent” electoral votes on January 6th. He told supporters to “fight like hell.” He also tweeted, “When you catch somebody in a fraud, you are allowed to go by very different rules.”

17 – Prior to the rally, Trump supporters and domestic terrorist groups exchanged plans for the rally on social media. Many of the social media posts called for violence which caused the FBI to warn of an impending “war” at the capitol.

18 – It has been reported that, prior to the coup attempt, a foreign entity (Vlad, was that you?) transferred $500,000 to some of the violent groups that were ultimately involved.

19 – Astonishingly, Capitol Police and other law enforcement agencies seemed woefully unprepared for the “war” on January 6th. The reason for their lack of preparedness is still unclear. Was it because of the inexperienced leadership that was installed by Trump? Or was the lack of preparation ordered by Trump?

20 – On the day of the rally, thousands of Trump supporters (including members of at least seven hate groups) descended on Washington to hear Trump, Don Jr., Giuliani, Mo Brooks and others claim that the election was stolen. Giuliani called for “trial by combat.” Trump encouraged the crowd to march to the capitol to “take back our country.”

21 – It is now clear that many of the terrorists had knowledge of the floorplans and the location of the offices of Democratic leadership. Many chanted “We want Nancy” and “Hang Mike Pence.” Some came with flexcuffs obviously intended to capture, restrain and likely murder members of Congress.

22 – As most Americans watching coverage of the insurrection recoiled in horror, Trump waited hours before calling for his followers to go home. But he refused to denounce the violence. Instead, he tweeted that he “loved” the terrorists.

23 – Trump and a majority of congressional Republicans have yet to admit that there was no election fraud despite the fact that many of those who confirmed and certified the election results are Republicans. And despite Trump’s own appointee to oversee election security declaring the 2020 election as “the most secure in US history.”

We still have much to learn about the violent coup. But we don’t need a crystal ball to divine the intentions of the mob and its wannabe dictator. Since Trump failed at his re-election, almost certainly, he intended to retain office by force. And his “soldiers” are already planning their next assault.