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.

The Origins Of Insurrection.

As I watched our Capitol – the cathedral of democracy – invaded by a collection of neo-Nazis, white supremacists, militias and conspiracy theorists under the banners of Trump, QAnon, and the Confederacy, I was both horrified and transfixed. But it was clear to me that the seeds of insurrection and hate were planted years earlier and nurtured by many…

– By the GOP southern strategy of the seventies that embraced racism for political gain.
– By the criminals Richard “Tricky Dick” Nixon and Spiro Agnew who brought corruption to the West Wing and who tried to subvert elections.
– By Ronald Reagan who fomented distrust of the government and whose economic policies hollowed out the middle class and moved many into poverty.
– By Jerry Falwell, Billy Graham, Pat Robertson and other religious leaders who called for discrimination against gays and women who chose abortions over childbirth.
– By Rush Limbaugh, Fox News and the entire GOP propaganda network who used their media platforms to incite their audiences into an anti-government fervor by claiming Democrats and liberals were enemies of democracy.
– By Republicans who, in an attempt to repay Democrats for Nixon’s forced resignation, conducted a seven-year and $70 million hunt for dirt on the Clintons.
– By the racists, including Donald J. Trump, who refused to accept that Barack Obama was born in the US and, therefore, eligible to be president of the United States.
– By the Tea Party, including congressional representatives and senators who promoted false claims that the Great Recession was created by President Obama and that he was acting unconstitutionally.
– By Alex Jones who used his radio and Internet platforms to create and circulate bizarre conspiracy theories aimed at fomenting distrust of government and hate for Democrats.
– By GOP members of Congress who promoted conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton and conducted seemingly endless and outrageous investigations into the tragedy at Benghazi.
– By Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media that hosted a toxic brew of hate and anti-government conspiracy theories.
– By the Trump 2016 campaign that began with an appeal to racists and reached out to Russia for support and aid.
– By the mobs that chanted “lock her up” at every Trump rally.
– By the mainstream media that gave hours and hours of airtime to a reality TV “celebrity” and serial sexual assaulter in their insatiable quest for ratings.
– By the GOP that nominated and enabled a candidate who was clearly unfit and unqualified to become president.
– By former Attorney General William Barr who mischaracterized and dismissed the obvious crimes enumerated in the Muller Report.
– By GOP senators who refused to convict and remove Trump from office during his impeachment proceedings.
– By the outgoing occupant of the Oval Office who is clearly guilty of sedition.

Yet those most responsible, by far, are the Trump voters and supporters who put a conman in office, who excused his avarice and his obvious crimes, who supported his racist attacks on refugees and American citizens of color, who verbally and physically attacked journalists for reporting the truth, and who prioritized party and hatred of “the libs” over country.

They are all complicit in this assault on democracy.

Part John Gotti. Part Vladimir Putin.

That is the takeaway from Donald Trump’s hour-long call with the Georgia Secretary of State, in which he begged and bullied Brad Raffensperger, telling him he was “taking a big risk” unless he is able to “find” 11,800 votes that would give Georgia’s electoral votes to Trump.

The message was clear. Trump wanted Raffensberger to rig the election for his benefit.

Indeed, the whole tone of the recorded conversation was what you’d expect from a mafia boss speaking to a member of his mob. It’s also what you might expect from dictators such as Vladimir Putin, Viktor Orban, Bashar al-Assad, Nicolas Maduro, Kim Jong-un, Abdullah Aziz al Saud, or the late Saddam Hussein.

The call was not unlike the “perfect” call Trump made to the newly elected president of Ukraine in which he threatened to withhold US foreign aid unless Zelensky agreed to announce an investigation of Hunter Biden to help Trump win the 2020 election.

If you are familiar with Trump’s background, his attempts to defraud American voters should come as no surprise. As a developer in New York, New Jersey, Florida, and Nevada, Trump long played footsie with the Mafia. He was schooled in the ways of the mob by his late attorney, Ray Cohn. (Cohn’s clients also included Joseph Gambino along with other Mafia figures and the infamous Sen. Joseph McCarthy.) With Cohn’s mentorship, Trump was able to perfect the art of the con, which helped him defraud those who were enthralled by Trump’s “celebrity” to enroll in Trump University, to donate to Trump Charities, and to purchase overpriced Trump real estate. Ultimately, it’s what put him in the Oval Office.

Cohn taught Trump to exaggerate and lie. (On average, Trump has lied more than 23 times a day while in office.) Cohn and his successors helped Trump cheat at every turn, which may explain why Trump’s name appears 3,450 times in the Panama Papers, a database of those who avoid taxes by investing in offshore tax shelters. And, under Cohn’s tutelage, Trump learned to never admit failure or a mistake. Instead of apologizing or facing the consequences of his actions, Trump learned to bully, threaten, and sue to get what he wants. That’s why Trump has been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits.

Like a mob boss, Trump has surrounded himself with loyalists to do his unconstitutional bidding. When they have been caught, he has used his pardon power to keep them quiet. While following the tyrant’s playbook, he has used every lever available in his efforts to stay in power. And, in doing so, he has created more damage to our democracy than any of our external enemies could hope to do, which must make his current mentor, Vladimir Putin, very proud.

Will he ever pay for his cons and for the harm he has done to our nation?

At this point that’s unclear. He will likely try to pardon himself from his federal crimes. But that won’t save him from state crimes. And, given that the Southern District of New York is investigating his businesses for potential bank fraud and tax fraud, he may well end up like another crime boss – Al Capone.

Give Trump Credit Where Credit Is Due.

During the 2016 campaign, Donald J. Trump promised to drain the “swamp.” And he did. Unfortunately, he replaced it with something much worse: A cesspool.

Swamps are not only natural. They’re a necessary part of the landscape. They serve as filters for our waterways. They provide homes and food for an abundance of wildlife. And they absorb floodwaters. Cesspools, on the other hand, contain only excrement and bacteria.

Consider the stench coming from the Trump cesspool over the past four-plus years: It has been thoroughly documented that Trump and members of his campaign encouraged and cooperated with Russian operatives in order to influence the 2016 election cycle using information stolen from the Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. To suppress news of his extramarital affairs, Trump ordered his private attorney to make hush money payments.

Trump filled his family coffers by holding many of his campaign events at his Trump-branded properties. He ignored the Constitution’s emoluments clause by guiding foreign leaders and powerbrokers to his Washington hotel and resorts. Following Trump’s corrupt lead, cabinet members Mnuchin, Pruitt, Sessions, Carson, Zinke and Pompeo all illegally used government resources for personal use. Trump’s weekly visits to his golf resorts funneled millions into his company’s bank accounts by charging Secret Service for rooms, food, and golf cart rentals. He even tried, and failed, to use his office to encourage G8 members to hold a meeting at his struggling Doral resort.

He chose known white nationalists as his closest advisors who cut immigration of refugees from majority black and brown nations. They ordered family separations at our border and placed children in cages. They put the Dreamers at risk for deportation to countries many could no longer remember. And they ordered the deportation of refugees to countries where their lives were at risk.

Trump oversaw the most chaotic administration in history creating a revolving door at the top of each agency as he searched for loyalists to do his bidding. One by one, competent, well-intentioned civil servants were fired or resigned in disgust. Trump pardoned loyalists for serious crimes, including crimes that bordered on treason. With a compliant Senate, he filled the courts with blatantly ideological, and often unqualified, judges. Even faced with a growing pandemic, he pushed aside virologists and epidemiologists to rely on the advice of unqualified partisans.

He spurned our traditional allies as he embraced the world’s most brutal dictators. He tried to bribe Ukrainian officials to manufacture dirt on his political opponent – an act for which he became the third president in US history to be impeached. He sold weapons to some of the worst actors in the Middle East. He sold out the Kurds who helped defeat ISIS. And he sold out the Palestinians, all but ending their dream for their own state.

The Trump administration conducted an all-out assault on the environment by deregulating corporations and freeing them to pollute our air and water. It withdrew the US from the Paris climate accords, making us the only nation on the planet that is not a signatory. It reduced national monuments and sold off the land and mineral rights to the highest bidders. And it made several endangered species vulnerable to hunting.

In the 2020 campaign, Trump ignored the Hatch Act by holding political campaign events at the White House and involved government employees in his campaign. He undermined our elections by falsely claiming his defeat was the result of widespread fraud. And he’s currently cramming through a myriad of changes with the intent of making it more difficult for his successor to govern. During his campaigns and his time in office, he has told tens of thousands of lies. His final act will be to pardon his family and himself of all crimes they committed during his horrific term.

So, yes, he did drain the “swamp” of competent, patriotic civil servants. And he’s leaving it a stinking hot mess.

The Threatening Legacy Of Donald J. Trump.

When President Joe Biden takes office, he will face some of the most problematic crises in our nation’s history. Not only will he have to orchestrate the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines in the face of resistance from a growing number of anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists. He will have to find ways to restart the economy despite the inevitable obstruction of Republicans who have already announced their intention to focus on the national debt, despite spending like drunken sailors during the Trump administration and adding $7 trillion to the total over the past four years. Of course, their “solution” is to cut Social Security, Medicare, and other safety nets. A “solution” that would only exacerbate the current economic crisis.

And those may be the least of the problems Biden will face.

Consider that more than 74 million Americans overlooked the incompetence, cruelty, depravity, corruption, and treachery of the Trump administration to vote for another four years of the same. Those 74 million are almost certainly diametrically opposed to Biden’s plans. They are likely to believe – mountains of evidence to the contrary – that Trump was unfairly accused of colluding with Russia to win the 2016 election. They also believe that Trump’s impeachment trial was a Democratic witch hunt. Many still believe that the coronavirus is a hoax. And many more believe Trump’s lies about widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.

Millions of those who oppose Biden have followed the mysterious Q down the rabbit hole of bizarre conspiracy theories. They believe Democrats, some corporations, and A-list celebrities are child traffickers, pedophiles, and cannibals. And they believe Trump was sent by God to save the children (a belief that is especially ironic since Trump is known to be a serial sexual assaulter who had close friendships with actual pedophiles).

Given all of this, Biden will face enormous resistance from Republicans and Trump supporters. But all that pales in the face of the chaos created by the outgoing president and his family.

Trump has fired numerous high-ranking government officials he considers disloyal. And he is expected to fire many more, leaving federal agencies in various stages of disorder. Trump may engage in further acts intended to hamstring the incoming administration. These range from a flurry of executive orders and policy changes, as well as foreign policy decisions. And, in an attempt to remain relevant, Trump has pondered the idea of creating a Trump television network which would add to the rightwing propaganda network that has contributed to our divisions. Even if he doesn’t, he is likely to rely on other media to encourage his followers to foment conflict and disorder.

Moreover, Trump will be a very real security threat to our national interests.

It is well known that Trump is an admirer of one of our nation’s greatest rivals – Vladimir Putin. In addition, he has shown an affinity to other strongmen and dictators. Trump, Don Jr., Ivanka, and Jared Kushner have all enjoyed top secret clearances for the past four years. And since the Trump family has hundreds of millions – some say a billion or more – in debts coming due by the middle of 2021, they may well be tempted to trade information in exchange for money.

Indeed, the Trumps could pose the greatest threat to our national security since the Rosenbergs who were accused of providing top-secret information about radar, sonar, jet engines, and nuclear weapons to the Soviet Union.

Further, the Trumps are facing daunting legal threats in the State of New York – threats that cannot be dismissed by presidential pardon. That opens the very real possibility the family will emigrate to a nation that does not have an extradition treaty with the US. Who might that be? Russia, of course. And if they do emigrate, what are the chances that they will share our national secrets with their hosts?

The prospect of such actions can only be described as frightening.

Don’t Mourn For The GOP Of Old.

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

Don’t believe the myth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If The Pandemic Was A War, It Would Be The 3rd Most Deadly In US History.

As of today, Covid-19 has claimed the lives of more than 200,000 Americans. To put that number into perspective, it exceeds the number of deaths of any other nation on Earth. It’s nearly 70 times the number who died as a result of the terrorist attacks on 9/11 (2,977). It’s nearly 4 times the number of Americans who died during the Vietnam War (58,209). It’s double the number of Americans (116,516) who died in WWI. It’s nearly equal to the number of Americans who died during combat in the Civil War (214,938). And it’s nearly half the number of Americans who died in WWII (405,399).

Lest you think that the disease only affects the elderly – that you are somehow immune to it – think again. Thus far, Covid-19 has claimed the lives of more than 1,000 health care providers. And, so far this year, more police officers have died from Covid-19 than from violence. The victims have ranged in age from infants to the elderly and every age in between.

Moreover, all of these deaths from Covid-19 have occurred in just 7 months. And most scientists predict that, with the onset of Autumn and Winter, the number of deaths will almost certainly accelerate even if a vaccine is made available before the end of the year. That’s because the vaccine will likely require two doses and it will take many months to deliver them beginning with those most at risk. And a large percentage of Americans say they will refuse to take the vaccine.

Adding to the problem is that Trump has not only failed to effectively respond to the pandemic. He has politicized mitigation of the virus. He refuses to encourage Americans to wear masks – the one thing that has been proven to reduce infections. As a result, Trump’s followers refuse to wear masks. They have even violently attacked those who have asked them to put on a mask before entering their businesses.

Just the other day, two unmasked Trump followers were refused entry to a restaurant in my former hometown. Rather than put on masks, they later returned to the establishment and pepper-sprayed the entire outdoor seating area requiring several customers to seek medical attention.

That should come as no surprise, since Trump has implied that the coronavirus is a Democrat hoax – that Democrats are either misreporting the deaths or, in fact, causing them. He has not only divided the nation. He has incited violence among his heavily armed and racist followers who have acted against peaceful protestors and against governors who have mandated the wearing of masks in public places.

So, thanks to the knuckle draggers who support the most corrupt, most cruel, and most incompetent president in our nation’s history, the deaths will continue to rise.

Will The US Become The Next Belarus?

With the US presidential election approaching, US citizens should see the events in Belarus as a warning. As you may know, though the incumbent Alexander Lukashenko claimed to be re-elected with 80 percent of the vote. International observers have declared that the election was neither fair nor free. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Belarussians have continued to march and demonstrate. More worryingly, one of the leading members of the opposition candidate’s campaign has been abducted by masked men and 3 others have vanished.

Think that couldn’t happen in the US? Think again.

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe has raised concerns about the integrity of the upcoming election. Other international observers have also voiced concerns. Why? Maybe it’s because the GOP has disenfranchised many voters by demanding often difficult to obtain voter IDs. Maybe it’s because Republican-controlled states have closed voting locations and reduced voting hours in Democrat-leaning areas. Maybe it’s because GOP-controlled states have gerrymandered congressional districts to make it virtually impossible for Democrats to win. Maybe it’s because the average waiting time to vote is 51 minutes for minorities and only 6 minutes for whites. Maybe it’s because GOP-controlled states have purged tens of thousands of registered voters.

Maybe it’s because the wannabe dictator incumbent has tried to discredit and undermine vote-by-mail and installed loyalists to the governing board of the US Postal Service with the express purpose of delaying the mail. Maybe it’s because he continues to tell his heavily armed and conspiracy loving supporters that he can only lose if the election is rigged against him!

Or maybe it’s because the incumbent was put in office as a result of election interference by our nation’s greatest rival and, in fact, has solicited foreign interference yet again.

Moreover, increasingly it appears that Trump and his supporters will only accept a Biden win if the vote is overwhelmingly against him. Anything less and Trump is likely to claim the vote is rigged and refuse to accept the results. After all, he already has claimed that Hillary Clinton’s nearly 3 million margin in the popular vote was only due to voting by undocumented immigrants and Democratic cheating.

So, it’s highly unlikely that Trump will bow out gracefully. He’s far more likely to refuse to leave the White House and to call for his armed supporters to rise up in his defense. We’ve already seen his supporters attack peaceful Black Lives Matters protestors. We’ve seen anonymous federal forces under his direction abduct protestors. And we’ve seen him order a peaceful demonstration cleared with force so he could have a photo-op with him holding a Bible backwards in front of a church he doesn’t attend.

Vote! Vote like our democracy depends on it. Because it does.

America: From The Age Of Enlightenment To The Age Of Lunacy.

In a 2017 radio interview, the late comedian and “King of Fake News” Paul Horner described how he earned the title. He explained that he was looking for a way to reach more people with his comedy through satirical posts on Facebook. He quickly learned that Democrats, liberals, and progressives immediately recognized the satire or fact-checked his posts. As a result, he received few clicks and, therefore, little money from them. On the other hand, he found that a significant percentage of Republicans and conservatives embraced his posts believing them to be factual and quickly shared them with friends.

So, it’s not entirely surprising that an individual peddling bizarre conspiracy theories could gain traction on social media. Such is the case with Q, the anonymous poster who claims to expose deep state secrets from within the government.

Q began with an October 2017 post on the white supremacist website 4chan which stated: “HRC [Hillary Rodham Clinton] extradition already in motion effective yesterday with several countries in case of cross border run. Passport approved to be flagged effective 10/30 @ 12:01am. Expect massive riots organized in defiance and others fleeing the US to occur. US M’s [Military] will conduct the operation while NG [National Guard] activated. Proof check: Locate a NG member and ask if activated for duty 10/30 across most major cities.”

Of course, Q’s prediction did not come true. In fact, few, if any, have. Nevertheless, Q quickly gained a following of millions and continues to “drop” information from within the “deep state.” Moreover, Q has convinced followers to believe that Donald Trump is a “Messiah” who has been chosen to quietly lead a revolution against the deep state. They are told that they must protect Trump at all costs. Even more bizarrely, the QAnon cult has come to believe that Trump will expose and imprison those involved a secret worldwide child sex trafficking ring run by a satanic cabal consisting of leaders of the Democratic Party, A-list celebrities, and Pope Francis.

They actually believe that, in addition to their sexual lust, members of the cabal kill children in order to harvest and consume their blood for its life-extending properties. In other words, Q followers are completely and hopelessly delusional.

That doesn’t mean that they aren’t dangerous.

In 2018, an armed Q follower drove an armored vehicle onto a bridge spanning the Hoover Dam and blocked traffic. He demanded that the government “release the OIG [Office of the Inspector General] report,” a report that Q claims will expose the deep state. In 2019, another Q follower murdered a leader of the Gambino crime family believing him to be an enemy of Trump. And earlier this year, a Q follower was arrested for threatening to kill Joe Biden.

These nutcases are encouraged by Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones and other conspiracy theorists. And the cult recently gained traction when six unabashed QAnon followers ran for national office as Republicans. Even more worrisome, at least three of them won their Republican primaries!

Some of the most notable targets of Q followers are the Clintons, President Obama, Bill Gates, Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Robert Mueller, George Soros, Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah Winfrey, Justin Trudeau, Senator Scott Wiener, John Legend & Chrissy Teigen, the Gates Foundation, the Clinton Foundation, the United Nations, the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, Wayfair, and Disney.

QAnon followers have been led to believe that they are victims of chemtrails and vaccines. They think the world is controlled by the Bilderbergs, the Illuminati, the Freemasons, and the mainstream media. They are convinced that artificial intelligence (AI) and 5G cell towers are designed to kill them. They believe that ordering an armoire from Wayfair is code for “send me a child to abuse.” And, despite the debunking of pizzagate, they still believe that Comet Ping Pong, a popular Washington DC pizzeria, is a cover for the trafficking of children. In case you’ve forgotten, in 2016 a young father from North Carolina who had been convinced that Hillary Clinton was operating a child sex ring out of the pizzeria’s basement burst into the restaurant with an AR15 demanding to be shown to the pizzeria’s basement. After scaring the bejeezus out of the restaurant’s patrons, he discovered the pizzeria had no basement and he was arrested by police.

Of course, none of these fantasies should come as a surprise when you consider that QAnon followers see Trump as a savior and great president.

The GOP’s War On Democracy.

The dismantling of the US Postal Service by Trump’s campaign donor and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has garnered deserved attention from the media and a large cross-section of Americans. Certainly, the impact on mail-in and absentee voting by slowing down the mail will disenfranchise tens of thousands of American voters. But we must keep in mind that it’s not the only GOP attempts to prevent large segments of Americans, especially black and Native Americans, from voting.

Over the past five decades, Republicans have instituted extreme gerrymandering in the states where they control the governorship and legislature. For example, Austin, Texas is the state capital and the state’s 11th largest city. It is also a bastion of liberalism. Yet the state has been so gerrymandered its residents have no representation in the state’s legislature or the US Congress.

Other states like North Carolina and Wisconsin have also resorted to such extreme gerrymandering to guarantee that Democrats cannot easily obtain majorities in their legislatures. And they have taken matters a step further. When the two states elected Democratic governors, the Republican majority legislatures and the lame-duck Republican governors signed into law measures that would take away much of the new governors’ powers.

There is more.

Republican-controlled state legislatures have passed laws to require voter IDs. Then they made it difficult for the poor to obtain the IDs by specifying they could only be obtained at certain DMV locations. Those locations are often located far away. And they have limited hours which forces the poor to take time off from work to obtain them.

Moreover, Republicans have closed many polling places in Democratic-leaning districts, reduced early voting periods, and limited voting hours forcing voters to stand in line for hours. They have purged tens of thousands of voters from registration lists for not voting in the past two general elections. They have passed laws to prevent college students from voting in the districts where their colleges are located forcing them to drive or fly back to the districts where their parents live in order to vote. And they have passed laws that make it illegal for felons to vote, even after they have served their sentences and paid their debt to society. And when a voter referendum restoring felons’ voting rights passed in Florida, the Republican legislature passed a law requiring the felons to pay court and legal costs for their trials. The same state famously prevented thousands of registered voters from voting in the 2000 elections because they had the same, or similar, names as felons.

Many Republican-controlled states adopted untested and unreliable electronic voting machines, some of which can be easily hacked. As a result, many voters have reported that the machines actually changed their votes when they pressed the button to record their votes. And because many of the machines have no paper trail, the voter theft is impossible to uncover. Many believe the 2004 presidential election was stolen from Senator John Kerry when Diebold voting machines recorded votes for Kerry as votes for George W. Bush.

And, despite Trump’s statements that absentee ballots are safer than other mail-in ballots, there is little evidence of voter fraud involving votes by mail. Indeed, the only examples involve Republicans. A GOP operative in North Carolina was charged following the 2018 election. And an investigation by an independent consortium into the 2000 Florida presidential election uncovered hundreds of absentee ballots counted for Bush – enough to sway the election results – that sported the same signature.

As if all of this isn’t enough, the Trump campaign solicited and embraced election interference from Russia during the run-up to the 2016 election. If you doubt that, I refer you to Section One of the Mueller Report. Though Trump’s Attorney General characterized the report as an exoneration, the campaign’s blatant cooperation with Russia was clearly documented by the Mueller investigation. That didn’t seem to matter to Republican senators. Even when Trump was impeached for his illegal attempt to coerce Ukraine into providing election help in exchange for US foreign aid, they refused to remove him from office saying they believed Trump had learned his lesson. Yet, afterward, far from being cowed by his impeachment, Trump openly solicited election help from Russia, Ukraine and China during the 2020 campaign.

In an effort to intimidate voters, particularly in minority areas, the GOP has recruited up to 50,000 “poll watchers” for election day. So when you arrive at the polls, you will likely be greeted by armed members of rightwing militias and the “alt-right” who may be spoiling for a confrontation. And, of course, we can’t forget that the GOP called upon the conservative majority Supreme Court to undermine the Voting Rights Act of 1964 allowing the most racist states to, once again, engage in a variety of tactics to prevent people of color from voting.

Given all of this, one has to ask: Do Republicans believe in democracy? Obviously, the answer is a resounding “No!” It’s clear that we now have less to fear from foreign rivals than we do from one of our two largest political parties.