AMERICA: JULY 1, 2019—DECEMBER 31, 2019


“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”—Donald Trump, CNN, January 24, 2016

This article, like its predecessors, will expose the criminal regime currently led by Donald Trump.  In previous articles, I have gone into considerable detail about the high crimes and misdemeanors that Trump and his henchmen in the Republican party have committed, and how the mainstream media has utterly failed in its duty to report the facts.  This current article will continue where the last one left off, and report on the various nefarious and frankly unbelievable things that are currently going on in this country. 

I have repeatedly called the Republican party a rogue party.  It is worse than that; they are making every effort to keep themselves in power and squelch dissenting voices.  They are disenfranchising voters in order to steal the 2020 election, as they stole the 2016 election.  They are trampling on the U.S. Constitution and committing so many crimes it is impossible to keep up with all of them.  They are protecting a president whose crimes make Watergate look like, as I’ve said before, a candy store break in by a ten year old diabetic.  The Republican party is much more than a rogue party: It is now a fascist party, in all but name.  This article will provide further proof of this contention. 

Perhaps the worst aspect of all this is the utter inability of far too many Americans to recognize the threat Trump and the Republicans pose.  A brief glance at what other countries think about this administration will show that, for the most part, they are far more perspicacious and level-headed than we are.  Daily Kos provides us with a stellar example.  The article begins with this highly appropriate quote from George Orwell’s 1984: “He was a flattish but active man of paralyzing stupidity, a mass of imbecile enthusiasms—one of those completely unquestioning, devoted drugs on whom, more even than on the thought police, the stability of the party depended.”  It’s almost as if Orwell had Trump in mind when he wrote this novel over seventy years ago!  Here is the rest of the Daily Kos article: “Given recent German history, Germans probably know a lot more about spotting Tyrants and how dangerous they can become, than Americans do.  A new YouGov survey found Germans consider President Trump more dangerous to world peace than North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un or Russian President Vladimir Putinaccording to the German broadcaster DW.  Asked to rank the greatest threat to world peace between Trump, Kim, Putin, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Chinese President Xi Jinping, 41 percent named Trump, compared to Kim at 17 percent, Khamenei and Putin at 8 percent and Xi at 7 percent.  Pollsters surveyed 2,000 Germans for the poll between Dec. 16 and 18.  The results were similar to a YouGov poll published in July 2018, although the earlier survey did not include Xi or Khamenei as options.” (Lefty Coaster, Daily Kos, December 26, 2019) 

None of this matters in the least to the Republican leaders.  They have banded together in near-unanimous support for Donald Trump.  They absolutely refuse to do their duty and be impartial judges in the impeachment hearings.  Much in the same way that they attacked Dr. Ford at the confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh, they also attack anyone who comes up with any documentation, any proof of wrongdoing by their president.  They treat Donald Trump in exactly the same way devoted religious people treat their pastors, no matter what he says or does.  This is why I have referred to America’s newest religion as Trumpism.  It’s almost as if they have insulated themselves from any discomforting facts.  This is, by definition, exactly how a cult operates.  Trumpists will accept everything that comes out of his mouth, no matter how outrageous the statement, or how transparent his lies.



In my previous articles, I have gone into considerable detail elaborating Donald Trump’s blatantly obvious lies, and the fact that both the Republican party and the supposedly impartial media aid and abet him by ignoring his lies or else trying to “interpret” them to mean something less noxious than they really are.  Daily Kos printed an excellent article that deals with this issue that, although long, deserves to be quoted in full: “What are we to take from the news that not only has the theoretical ‘president’ of the nation has told well over 15,000 documentable public lies since his inauguration, but told more lies during this past year than the previous two years combined?  That Donald J. Trump is getting worse, obviously.  That’s not a particular surprise.  Trump is transparently a malignant narcissist, and is facing a malignant narcissist’s single worst fear: being exposed as not the greatest gift to this universe and all who inhabit it, but a fraud.  He will remain ‘impeached,’ in the history books, forever.  But we can also infer from this news that Trump is lying more boldly and more often precisely because he was successful at it the previous two years.  That isn’t Trump’s doing.  That is the doing of journalists, of ‘pundits,’ of their editors and outlets, and of, especially, Republican lawmakers.

“Donald Trump could not lie to the American public 15,000 times if lying to the public carried negative consequences, rather than positive ones.  It doesn’t.  We can debate whether this was the case in past decades, and in some other context that might be useful, but all can certainly agree that lying to the public right now, in the forms of government-to-public, lawmaker-to-public, pundit-to-public, or media-outlet-to-public is not only commonplace but has been elevated to become a top political strategy.  Did a sitting president get caught asking a foreign government to investigate a political opponent?  Lie about it. Outright. Boldly.  It is possible to gaslight the public furiously, on basic questions of current fact, without the news anchors of the day sternly pointing out that lawmaker so-and-so has evidently either: 1.) lost their grip on reality and needs to be removed from elected office for public safety reasons or 2.) is being so blazingly dishonest that the public cannot, and should not, believe anything they say ever again.

“That part, right there, is the catastrophe.  If it is possible for a national leader to tell 15,000 lies to the public without being considered unfit for the job, then democracy does not exist.
“There is no such thing as candidates making their case for the best path forward, and the public validating which path, collectively, the nation should follow.  There is no best path.  There is no path.  There is only a contest to see who can invent the most self-serving version of reality, upon which we elect the best of the liars, who will continue to lie to the public about what they are doing while, instead, they do anything else.

“That Republican lawmakers sought to defend Trump from impeachment with false information, claiming Joe Biden was not referenced in the phone call (despite even the White House’s text saying otherwise) or that no pressure was put on Ukraine (despite witness after witness confirming it) is not surprising.  It also may not be survivable.  If we are two countries, served by two competing narratives and pushed forward according only by who can best sell their version to a public with fewer and fewer means of verifying which is true and which is the lie, with competing oligarchic factions here and abroad funneling cash into the particular frauds that best benefit them, that will be the ball game.  This rather dire but by no means uncommon warning and/or prediction is sometimes described as the nation’s epistemic crisis, a turning point at which factionalism (aka being a Republican) trumps regard for facts themselves (such as which laws truly exist; whether the economy is doing well or is not; whether Russia was responsible for election hacking, as all experts attest, or whether the president’s pro bono personal lawyer is right that none of it actually happened, according to the testimony of known hucksters).  It’s less often that anyone comes with a credible scenario for how that end point is dodged.
“There is only one such scenario. Lying to the public—propagandizing—must be punished.  We can leave the moralizing out of it; you will not get far with the claim that telling 15,000 lies is bad or wrong.  Surely, however, surely we can as a matter of journalistic convention agree that telling 15,000 lies makes you untrustworthy.  It renders you unfit for public service.  No matter which moral stipulations we might attach to the post, from marital fidelity to paying your damn taxes, the matter of lying repeatedly to the public as means of obtaining and extending public power defeats the principle of democracy itself, and must be shunned.  Fox News will not do that. But The New York Times could, if the editors truly believed their paper had public responsibilities commensurate with its public footprint.  If CNN inflicted a penalty upon liars, rather than hiring them on and giving them salaries to perform their antics, circus-style, much of this would end.  If other networks chose to ignore the frothiest of propagandists when putting together panels, the professional liars would have fewer places to go.  That would be a start.  The airports of the world do not need to broadcast blaring lies, day after day and month after month, and there is nothing about the travel experience made better by hearing from known liar Kellyanne Conway.  You could replace every television with a fish tank and the traveling public would come out better informed.  It would probably cut airport drunkenness in half.
“And yet here we are, still, and there seems no inclination to upset a status quo in which lawmakers and paid propagandists can lie, outright, to the American people and be granted the same conventions of pseudo-respect as honorable counterparts.  Why wouldn’t they lie, then?  There is literally zero downside.  The not-liars, in the meantime, are hopelessly constrained by having to live only in one reality rather than dozens.  It is evident the press favors the thrill of conflict and believes itself to have no public responsibility in these matters whatsoever.  It is obvious that Republicanism itself will not right itself, not after collapsing completely into a cultism in which the Dear Leader of the moment can not only do no wrong, but that if he does do wrong, that thing is now retroactively right and good and was commonplace at all along.

“So we know what must happen—but there seems no way to get there.  None.  It would require a great many very powerful Americans to all do the right thing, all at once, while sliding into kleptocratic pseudo-democracy requires no action at all and comes with substantial tax cuts.  Surely, it cannot be as hopeless as that. Surely.” (Hunter, Daily Kos, December 26, 2019) Note the comment that: “If it is possible for a national leader to tell 15,000 lies to the public without being considered unfit for the job, then democracy does not exist.”  My point exactly: in a true democracy, truth matters.  It does not matter to today’s Republican party.  That is why they are a fascist party: Fascists will use anything at their disposal, including propaganda, lies, threats, extortion, any anything else that will enable them to get in power and stay there.

Obviously, it would be a herculean task to list all the president’s lies and gaffes (although someone should take on the task).  However, Daily Kos does have an excellent article that definitely shows the man is fact-challenged (to put it kindly) and so gaffe prone as to make one wonder the extent of his removal from reality: “Gearing up for another Democratic primary season, journalists have already settled into the ‘gaffe’ newsbeat, posting extensive updates on verbal miscues and how they could supposedly doom certain candidates.  Specifically, the media narrative is that Joe Biden’s gaffes will hurt him if he is the nominee against Donald Trump in the general election.  Quick question, though: How many news articles and television reports have you seen and heard in the last year about Trump ‘gaffes’ and how they may stand in the way of his re-election bid?  Probably the same number as I have, which is basically zero.  Keep in mind that just days ago, while reading off a teleprompter inside the White House, Trump misidentified the Ohio city that had just suffered a deadly gun rampage.  But days of ‘gaffe’ coverage?  Not for him.

“The entire gaffe enterprise has always been rather dubious, since it usually focuses more on the theater of it than it does on policy substance.  Also, reporters have traditionally trained their gaffe patrols much more intently on Democratic candidates than they have on Republicans. 
“But today, the media’s gaffe obsession really seems out of whack, given that it’s unfolding against the backdrop of the presidency of Donald Trump, whose entire political career can accurately be described as a verbal gaffe.  Famous for being a habitual liar, as well as boasting garbled and often impossible-to-follow syntax that leaves people scratching their heads trying to make sense of his pronouncements, Trump has obliterated the idea that an occasional gaffe ought to define a politician, or that it will doom his or her popularity.
“And that was true back in 2016. As HuffPost’s Jason Linkins wrote at the time, Trump’s ‘hallucinatory presence and constant stream of cuckoo-bananas balderdash have essentially made the gaffe entirely irrelevant.’  Trump ‘doesn’t have momentary lapses.  He is a constant, walking lapse of good sense, taste and judgment.’
“That’s even more true today.  During one rambling, incoherent address this week in Pennsylvania, Trump said he won the county where he was speaking by 28 points (it was 18); lamented that roads aren’t straight because of environmental regulations; bragged about being responsible for the construction of an energy plant that was begun under President Barack Obama; falsely claimed that the U.S. is the only country that exports wheat to Japan; claimed he’s losing billions in personal wealth by serving as president; suggested China doesn’t ‘have oil and gas’; misstated the time of his speech by three hours; and claimed credit for passing Veterans Choice legislation that was passed and signed into law under Obama.
“More broadly, Trump’s endless list of missteps includes:  1) Calling Hurricane Florence ‘one of the wettest we’ve ever seen from the standpoint of water.”  2) Referring to the ‘oranges’ of the Mueller investigation repeatedly when he meant ‘origins.”  3) Talking about the ‘floors of the forest’ when discussing wildfires and saying that the president of Finland told him they ‘spend a lot of time raking and cleaning’ their forests.  4) Calling Apple CEO Tim Cook “Tim Apple.”  5) Referring to 9/11 as 7/11.  6) Saying that noise from windmills causes cancer.  7) Telling a crowd that ‘the kidney has a very special place in the heart.’  
“And don’t forget Trump last month claiming that during the Revolutionary War, the Continental Army ‘rammed the ramparts and took over airports.’  Yet the political press now zeroes in on Democratic gaffes, knowing there is not similar news coverage for Trump.

“Note that the Biden gaffe dispatches have been noticeably light on quotes from actual voters who are bothered by the verbal missteps.  AOL News didn’t include a single voter who was disturbed by the gaffes in its report, headlined, ‘Biden’s Verbal Mistakes Pile up in Iowa.’  Neither did The New York Times in its piece, ‘Joe Biden Knows He Says the Wrong Thing,’ even though it insisted ‘some Democrats say’ the gaffes will hurt Biden.  Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal’s ‘Biden’s Gaffes Fuel Questions About His Potency Against Trump’ stressed that Biden’s missteps were ‘giving some party activists anxiety over whether he is as strong a campaigner.’  Yet, incredibly, the three Democratic voters actually quoted in the article specifically said the gaffes did not bother them (‘I really don’t think there’s anything concerning at this point with that’).” (Eric  Boehlert, Daily Kos, August 15, 2019) So basically, Democratic voters don’t give a rat’s patootie about Biden’s occasional gaffes; the only people who do are the Republicans—and the media.  And they only care about Democratic gaffes.

Trump’s statements on the campaign trail in 2016 almost made him look like a moderate by comparison with his Republican opponents.  On January 25, 2016, Trump discussed Medicare and seemed to be going after corporate interests.  Daily Kos reports: “Donald Trump said tonight he could save Medicare billions of dollars by allowing it to negotiate drug prices directly with pharmaceutical companies—embracing a position Democrats have championed and Republicans have opposed for years. The Associated Press quotes Trump as telling a crowd in Farmington, N.H., that Medicare, a huge buyer of prescription drugs, could ‘save $300 billion’ a year if it negotiated discounts.  ‘We don’t do it,’ he said.  ‘Why?  Because of the drug companies.’…In 2018, the Trump White House announced, as part of its proposal on drug prices, that it was going to break its promise on supporting legislation to give Medicare the authority to negotiate the price of prescription drugs.’” (Ian Reifowitz, Daily Kos, December 15, 2019) Since that time, Big Pharma has raised drug prices to such exorbitant levels that one in four Americans can no longer afford them.  Another Trump lie, one that is costing American lives.Here is a quote from Trump before he became president: “I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I’m not going to cut Medicare.”  This is one of his most transparent lies.  His real agenda includes $575 billion cuts in Medicare, and $25 billion cuts to Social Security.  It is beyond my comprehension how anybody can believe a single thing this man says.

Not content with getting every last drop of oil in this country, human and ecological damage be damned, Trump is determined to steal oil from other countries.  MoveOn tells the whole sordid tale: “Trump announced that he plans to station U.S. troops at Syrian oil fields—indefinitely—to ‘secure the oil’ and steal it.  Then this morning, a large U.S. military convoy of armored tanks was spotted moving through northern Syria.  It may all seem like just another Trump absurdity. Perhaps a way to distract from his green-lighting of Turkey’s attack on Syrian Kurds, or even his own impeachment troubles. But Trump seems deadly serious — and that’s terrifying.  From Iraq to Venezuela to Syria, Trump has openly talked about stealing other countries’ oil.  And now he’s pledging to use the U.S. military to do just that.  But let’s be crystal clear, this is illegal and unconstitutional. 

“Here’s the thing.  The way this is supposed to work, is Congress decides when and where and whether the U.S. goes to war.  It’s a bedrock of our constitutional system of checks and balances—designed to protect against this kind of disgusting mission.  To state the obvious, securing and selling Syrian oil is not actually an authorized mission for the U.S. military.  Actually, it’s completely and utterly unconstitutional for the President to send troops into such a mission.  Win Without War and most legal experts have always rejected the argument that the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force could be stretched to apply to any mission in Syria—whether against the self-described Islamic State, confronting Iran, or fomenting forcible regime change (did we learn nothing from Iraq?!).  But there is NO ONE who believes there is legal justification for ANY US military deployment for Syria to ‘protect’—ahem, forcibly take—Syria’s oil.  And there’s more.  This also violates international law.  And could be designated a WAR CRIME under the Geneva Convention. 

“Over eight years of war, Syrians have suffered from brutal bombing by their own government and governments around the world.  What started as a call for basic human rights and democratic representation, has become a horrific collection of massive, countless, ongoing war crimes and human suffering.  The only way to end the terrible war in Syria and help bring justice to the victims of war crimes—is to end the war in Syria.  And the U.S. has only one path forward: end its role in perpetuating the conflict and insist on DIPLOMACY—not more military action, troop deployment, drone strikes, or refugee and Muslim bans.” (Stephen Miles, MoveOn, November 5, 2019)

In addition to all his lies, there is another, sleazier side to Donald Trump: He has been accused of rape by over two dozen women.  And, of course, the same Republicans who went into conniptions over Bill Clinton’s consensual sex act completely ignore any charges against their man, and instead focus on attacking the accusers.  Blaming the victim is a major strategy employed by Republicans.  They did the same thing during Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, so this is standard Republican strategy.  Impeachment Alert summarizes: “When the Ukraine-Trump whistleblower news broke, Trump said, ‘I deserve to meet my accuser.’  What Trump would like to forget—and what he wants us to forget, too—is that there are more than 25 accusers, women who have shared stories of Trump’s assault or harassment, ready to face him right now.  The most recent accuser, E. Jean Carroll, came forward in June to describe how Trump raped her in a department store dressing room.  She joined Rachel Crooks, Jessica Leeds, and Samantha Holvey, who have been making their stories public over and over again to emphasize that there is a sexual predator in the White House.

“In the beginning of the #MeToo movement in 2017, 50% of voters—including 59% of women—believed that Trump should resign over these allegations.   But with all of Trump’s missteps, including Ukraine, Turkey, tariffs, and his constant barrage of insults on Congress, the 25 accusers’ stories are being pushed aside.  And that’s exactly what Trump wants.

Trump is going to use his huge social media platform to try to bury these stories, and when they do come out, he’ll continue to lie and disparage these women as he has before.” (Impeachment Alert, October 16, 2019)

Donald Trump’s non-stop barrage of lies serve his purpose, in that they distract attention away from what he is doing to the country.  He thinks he is above the law and can say and do whatever he wants.  The Constitution means nothing to him.  The old saying that a lie repeated often enough (often attributed to Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister) becomes the truth has never been more true than in the time since he assumed office.  The chaos he is creating obviously shows he is completely incompetent to lead the country. 



In my previous articles, I have gone into great detail about the various crimes and impeachable offenses this president has committed.  I will briefly summarize them here, as reported by Sierra Club: “1) Obstructing justice in 10 instances, including repeatedly attempting to fire the Special Counsel Robert Mueller who was investigating his own campaign.  2) Encouraging interference in our elections and then not holding accountable a hostile foreign government (Russia) for interfering and undermining our democracy.  3) Cruelly and unconstitutionally imprisoning children and families who are fleeing violence and seeking asylum.  4) Abusing emergency powers by using Defense Department money to build a border wall that Congress explicitly denied.  5) Enriching himself through diplomats, businesspeople, oil companies, and other relationships who stay at his hotels and resorts in exchange for favorable decisions by his administration.

“That’s all on top of the latest revelations that Trump asked the President of Ukraine to investigate his political opponent—and may have withheld military aid as a threat.  This is a clear breach of law and one more impeachable offense.” (Maura Cowley, Sierra Club, September 27, 2019)

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released a report in August 2019 that showed over two thousand conflicts of interest involving Trump.  The article reports: “It’s impossible to quantify just how much damage Trump has done to our democracy by blatantly using the presidency for private gain, but we can tally all the public instances of overlap between the government and the Trump Organization.  That number is 2,310 and counting.  The report details the truly staggering number of conflicts that have resulted from President Trump’s refusal to divest from his business interests while serving in the nation’s highest public office.  It exposes his habit of rewarding those who patronize his businesses with access, job offers, and influence over government policy.  It dives into his foreign trademarks and his profitable golf hobby.

“Here are the highlights:  1) 362: times President Trump has visited his properties at taxpayer expense.  2) 57: number of foreign countries whose officials have patronized his businesses.  3) 250: members of the Trump administration who have visited his properties.  4) 90: Members of Congress who have paid visits to his businesses

“We have said from the beginning of the Trump presidency that his failure to divest presented an absolute ethics catastrophe. Two and a half years later, we have the numbers to back it up.  The president has created a pipeline for foreign governments and special interests to send money to his family business, and it is clear that they have taken that opportunity, time and time again.” (Noah Bookbinder, CREW, August 15, 2019)

If this alone isn’t reason enough for a full-scale investigation, then what is?

On Wednesday, December 18, 2019, Donald Trump was officially impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives.  Here is how People’s Action reported this historic event: “The House of Representatives on Wednesday impeached President Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, making him the third president in history to be charged with committing high crimes and misdemeanors and face removal by the Senate.  On a day of constitutional consequence and raging partisan tension, the votes on the two articles of impeachment fell largely along party lines, after a bitter debate that stretched into the evening and reflected the deep polarization gripping American politics in the Trump era.  Only two Democrats opposed the article on abuse of power, which accused Mr. Trump of corruptly using the levers of government to solicit election assistance from Ukraine in the form of investigations to discredit his Democratic political rivals.  Republicans were united in opposition.  It passed 230 to 197, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi gaveling the vote to a close from the House rostrum.  On the second charge, obstruction of Congress, a third Democrat joined Republicans in opposition.  The vote was 229 to 198.  The impeachment votes set the stage for a historic trial beginning early next year in the Senate, which will have final say—10 months before Mr. Trump faces re-election—on whether to acquit the 45th president or convict and remove him from office.  The timing was uncertain, after Ms. Pelosi suggested late Wednesday that she might wait to send the articles to the Senate, holding them out as leverage in a negotiation on the terms of a trial.” (Holly Otterbein, People’s Action, December 19, 2019)

What is not mentioned here, yet is highly significant, is that not a single Republican voted for the impeachment.  Like Dr. Goebbels during the Second World War, they are going to stick with their dictator-in-chief right to the bitter end.  Also significant is the fact that the cowardly Democrats only filed two articles of impeachment, when they should have filed at least a dozen more.  I have already listed the impeachable offenses in my previous articles and need not repeat them here.  The point is that, by omitting these crimes, Democrats are giving tacit endorsement for further crimes of the same nature.

Trump responded in typical fashion as the impeachment effort got underway.  When Democrats Turn Out reports: “Trump has been throwing tantrums all over Washington and Twitter as the impeachment inquiry picks up steam and more witnesses testify.  He’s now encouraging Republicans to ‘get tough’ and fight back against it—and yesterday they did exactly that in a bid to appease him and his base.  Members of the House Freedom Caucus, some of Trump’s most ardent supporters, protested outside of the secure hearing room yesterday and even gained entry, interrupting proceedings.  They used unsecure phones and tweeted from the secure room, a violation of national security and federal law.  When Republicans realized what they’d done, they tried to cover themselves by saying the tweets were from staff, but their hypocrisy and idiocy were on full display.  The GOP isn’t interested in a fair hearing—they know that can’t possibly help Trump.  They want a speedy end to this so they don’t have to continually defend his illegal, immoral, and unethical actions.  This whole protest was simply a show of force, intimidation, and loyalty for Trump because those are the only things he values.” (When Democrats Turn Out, October 24, 2019)

People’s Action takes it from there and names some names: “Around 10 a.m. Wednesday, a gaggle of conservative House members on Capitol Hill staged a ‘protest,’ barging into the secure room—called a SCIF—where members of three House committees were preparing to hear testimony from Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary of defense.  Shepherding the demonstrators was Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, one of President Trump’s fiercest apologists, whose account live-tweeted the stunt.  This was not a fringe move.  Representative Steve Scalise, the minority whip, was among the sea of dark-blue suits that surged into the hearing room.  Chaos ensued.  There were shouting matches.  Some of the invading members brought along their cellphones, though they are prohibited inside the secure room.  Ms. Cooper’s testimony was delayed, and Democrats called in the sergeant-at-arms for help restoring order.  The entire spectacle was a circus—which was the point.  This was a publicity stunt aimed at delegitimizing the impeachment investigation that Mr. Trump and his defenders have portrayed as a partisan inquisition.  If a few rules and national security precautions got violated along the way, so be it.  Mr. Gaetz & Co. were happy to oblige a president who has demanded to be protected at all costs.  In fact, Mr. Trump is said to have given them a thumbs-up the day before.  Why wouldn’t he?  As more and more testimony is disclosed, it becomes clearer that the president’s only defense against impeachment is to distract from the facts and complain about how unfairly he’s being treated.” (Ryan Greenwood, People’s Action, October 24, 2019)

The point of this nonsense should be obvious: Republicans know that Trump is a criminal that should be in prison rather than the Oval Office.  They know that a fair hearing will not exonerate him from his crimes.  If they really thought he wasn’t guilty, they would support the impeachment process and, if Trump were acquitted, use that as proof positive that the whole process was indeed, as Trump repeatedly stated, a “witch hunt.”  Since they know he wouldn’t be acquitted, they are using every dishonest and illegal trick in the book to defend him.  Which makes them accessories to a criminal.

Republicans have come up with the ridiculous and utterly baseless lie that Ukraine intervened against Trump in the 2016 election.  They are making these accusations even though national security and intelligence officials told them not to and that, by doing so, they are assisting Vladimir Putin’s campaign to discredit Ukraine.  And of course, the Republican-led Senate utterly refuses to take any action on the DETER Act, which is a bipartisan bill that would impose sanctions on Russia if it interferes in the next election.  It is singularly ironic that the party that for decades attacked Russia at every turn is now their closest ally abroad.

Democratic Congressman Harley Rouda, disturbed and determined to keep our elections free from foreign influence, sent out an email which said in part: “Last month I reached out to my opponents, asking them to join me in a pledge to refuse information from a foreign agent for the 2020 elections.  None of them responded.” (Harley Rouda, July 23, 2019) If this is true, and no Republican does anything on this matter, then they are all guilty of treason.  It’s that simple.

By September, 2019, the Ukraine scandal was no longer something Trump could just ignore.  Here is what Courage Campaign reported at that time: “Trump’s attempt to pressure Ukraine into a bogus investigation of Joe Biden is a blatant abuse of power and exactly the kind of corruption that impeachment was created to stop…If Trump’s attempt to blackmail the president of Ukraine into smearing Biden isn’t an impeachable offense, nothing is.

“Here are the facts we know so far:  1) In July, Trump put a freeze on nearly $400 million in military aid for Ukraine, a country currently threatened on its eastern border by Russia.  2) Then, Trump called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and asked him to launch a baseless investigation into Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.  3) Finally, a whistleblower filed a complaint which Trump’s own inspector general said was urgent and credible, triggering a requirement that Congress see the complaint.  4) But Trump has refused to hand over the complaint, which is blatantly illegal stonewalling of an investigation his own staff says is legitimate.  Trump himself has openly admitted much of this, and thanks to tremendous grassroots pressure, the dam finally broke—Nancy Pelosi has called for an impeachment inquiry.” (Courage Campaign, September 25, 2019)

People’s Action reports the president’s lies concerning Ukraine: “The National Security Council’s top Ukraine expert told House impeachment investigators on Tuesday that he tried to make changes to the White House’s rough transcript of the July phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine’s President, including that Trump mentioned tapes of former Vice President Joe Biden, according to a source familiar with the matter.  Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified that one example of his attempts to change the transcript was to include Trump telling Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky there were tapes of Biden, which The New York Times reported occurred where there’s an ellipsis in the transcript that was released.  The change was not made.  The assertion that some portion of the conversation was replaced by an ellipsis contradicts the White House’s statement in September that the ellipses in the transcript did not represent missing words or phrases.  It also contradicts the President who has insisted the transcript the White House released was an exact depiction of the call, even though the memo itself describes it as rough.  Vindman also said that he would have edited the transcript to specifically show that Zelensky mentioned Burisma—the company that hired Hunter Biden—rather than just ‘the company,’ according to sources.  ‘He or she will look into the situation, specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue,’ the rough transcript cites Zelensky as saying.  Vindman’s testimony that some specific details were left out of the rough transcript adds further insight about how the White House handled the call and Democrats’ concerns that the Trump administration engaged in a coverup.” (Tom Conway, People’s Action, October 30, 2019) And the cover-up continues.

There’s much more to the Ukraine scandal.  Free Speech People ran an article that, although long, needs to be printed in full: “Buried in the whistleblower complaint which exposed the Ukraine scandal is this alarming claim: the Trump White House has been abusing a computer system for highly classified intelligence information to cover up transcripts of presidential calls with foreign leaders which are ‘politically sensitive.”’ The White House placed in that system the transcript of the July 25 call President Trump had with the Ukrainian president, which severely restricts who can access it.  As the whistleblower states: ‘According to White House officials I spoke with, this was ‘not the first time’ under this Administration that a Presidential transcript was placed into this codeword-level system solely for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive—rather than national security sensitive—information.’

“This raises a critical question that must be addressed by the impeachment inquiry in the US House of Representatives: what other scandals and abuses of power is the White House covering up?
“On Wednesday, the journalist Brian Beutler asked this question in this posting, entitled: ‘The Ukraine Scandal Just Scratches the Surface.”   As Beutler writes: ‘To shake Ukraine down, Trump had to set up a shadow foreign policy.  Now recall how many other bad-acting countries Trump has established irregular relations with: Turkey, UAE, Saudi Arabia, China, Russia, North Korea.  Just to start.  Trump has business interests in Turkey, whose president seemingly now dictates disastrous regional policy decisions to the U.S over the phone.  Trump’s son-in-law adviser reportedly likes to trade encrypted messages with the murderous crown prince of Saudi Arabia.  His daughter has a growing portfolio of patents from the Chinese government, which may have responded to a separate Trump solicitation with dirt on Joe Biden’s son, Hunter.  Russia’s spell over Trump is notorious, and Trump has gone to great lengths to conceal his conversations with Vladimir Putin from his own government.
“Take the new humanitarian crisis in Syria as a prime example.  The crisis—which has left more than 200 Kurdish civilians dead and hundreds of thousands displaced—started on October 6, the day Trump had a call with Turkey’s president.  What was said on that call that led to Trump’s sudden withdrawal of a US military presence in the Kurdish territory of Syria and a green light for Turkey to start attacking the Kurdish people? We deserve to know.

“As of now, the House’s impeachment inquiry is limited to President Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy and the actions surrounding it.  However, we know that he must be held accountable for many more impeachable offenses.  Trump’s reckless betrayal of the Syrian Kurds may very well prove to be another instance of favoring his own self-interest over those of the American people, but without a thorough investigation, the motive behind the decision remains unknown.  That is why Congress must expand the scope of the impeachment inquiry. (John Bonifaz, Free Speech People, October 25, 2019)

People’s Action provides more information on this president’s criminal activities in the Ukraine scandal: “In the face of overwhelming evidence suggesting that President Donald Trump pressured a foreign country to damage a political rival, most Republicans have chosen either to remain silent or to deny outright that anything out of the ordinary occurred.  Others have taken a more sophisticated route: Concede his wrongdoing, but argue that it’s not impeachable.  They are, however, indictable.  A variety of felony criminal statutes plainly implicate Trump’s behavior, and come with lengthy prison sentences—the types of sentences doled out for high crimes, to say nothing of misdemeanors.  Indeed, many of them are straightforward.  Altogether, if the impeachment inquiry is limited simply to Trump’s pressure on Ukraine, the charges could amount to more than 10 years in prison.  Take 18 U.S. Code § 872: ‘Extortion by officers or employees of the United States.’  It’s not hard to grasp: ‘Whoever, being an officer, or employee of the United States or any department or agency thereof, or representing himself to be or assuming to act as such, under color or pretense of office or employment commits or attempts an act of extortion, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.’  Attorney General William Barr’s Department of Justice has declined to press charges against Trump, though the House of Representatives is pushing forward with its impeachment inquiry.  In the meantime, Trump has said that he will refuse to cooperate with lawful subpoenas—itself a prima facie violation of 2 U.S. Code § 192, ‘Refusal of witness to testify or produce papers,’ punishable by a year in prison.” (Theo Wuest, People’s Action, October 10, 2019) If the laws of the land were consistently applied, Trump and his enablers would all be serving jail time—and think how that would restore confidence in our political system!  Of course, this could only happen if Republicans lose the presidency and the Senate, and if the Democrats suddenly get a backbone.  I consider the first more likely than the second.

I have already gone over the many impeachable offenses committed by this president.  Here, in summary, are a few:  1) Refusing to separate himself from his business interests, as required by the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution;  2)  Corruption of the electoral process as proven by the Mueller report;  3)  Abusing the office of president by attacking political foes, real or imagined, as well as freedom of the press; 4)  Abuse of his office by promoting and encouraging racial and religious discrimination, hostility and mob violence;  5)  Obstruction of justice; 6)  Abuse of emergency powers;  7)  Violation of international law by ripping children from their families at the border and holding immigrants and asylum-seekers in concentration camps, often without access to food, water, hygiene products, or medicine and; 8) Attempting to bribe a foreign country (Ukraine) into launching an investigation into his political rival and likely presidential opponent Joe Biden.

Although I have covered Trump’s profiteering off his office in my previous articles, I will provide a brief quote from Common Cause that shows a clear pattern of violations that are impeachable under the Emoluments Clause: “Vice President Pence visits Dublin for official business—and stays at a Trump hotel 200 miles away on the taxpayers’ dime.  T-Mobile needs the Trump administration’s approval to buy Sprint—and their CEO spends nearly $200,000 at the Trump International Hotel in Washington.  And on its way back from a routine trip to the Middle East, an Air National Guard crew makes a stop that’s anything but routine—at Trump’s luxury waterside resort in Scotland.  Foreign diplomats, public officials, and lobbyists who are eager to curry favor with the president have spent millions at Trump-owned properties.  And unlike EVERY modern president before him, Trump refuses to divest from his businesses—so he reaps the profits.” (Devon Nir, Common Cause, November 13, 2019)

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has been covering the various conflicts of interest due to Trump’s brazen disregard of the Emoluments Clause, listing no less than 2,565 violations, as of October 23, 2019.  I have already listed some of them.  Obviously, this is not the forum to list all of them, but interested readers are advised to check out CREW’s New Live Conflicts Tracker on its webpage.

The issue of Trump’s profiting from his presidency won’t go away—and it shouldn’t.  Although the Constitution is crystal clear about the Emoluments Clause, Trump denies that it’s even in the Constitution!  Open the Government quotes him: “On Monday, Trump categorically dismissed as ‘phony’ a section of the Constitution that bars federal office holders from accepting gifts from foreign governments.  ‘You people with this phony Emoluments Clause,’ he said, discussing his recently abandoned plans to host the G7 meeting at his Miami resort after public outcry.  Right there—with that revealing and dismissive phrase—Donald Trump shows exactly what he really thinks of the U.S. Constitution, a document he swore to protect and defend when he took his oath of office.  Given Trump’s inclination to stonewall ALL efforts to investigate his administration, Trump likely also views Congress’ oversight role as ‘phony.’

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has been following Trump’s profiteering since the beginning of his presidency.  Their report: “A New York state judge just ordered President Trump to pay $2 million as part of a settlement for misuse of the Trump Foundation.  More than three years ago, CREW uncovered President Trump’s illegal use of the Trump Foundation to benefit himself personally and politically.  Our investigation turned up repeated abuses of the law, leading to multiple complaints and an IRS fine, and helped draw attention to the Trump Foundation’s egregious misuse of its charitable status.  We found that the Foundation was again and again improperly used as Trump’s personal slush fund and to advance his legal and political interests.  The original legal and investigative work we have been pushing since 2016 laid the groundwork for the New York Attorney General’s investigation, which produced yesterday’s fine.  It’s perhaps fitting that the settlement comes this week.  CREW first noticed illegal use of the Trump Foundation when it gave an impermissible $25,000 political donation to support former Florida AG Pam Bondi, while her office was apparently considering joining a lawsuit against Trump University.  Florida did not join the suit, which raised serious questions of bribery, as CREW alleged in a complaint at the time.  This week, it was announced that Bondi will be joining Trump’s impeachment defense team.” (Noah Bookbinder, CREW, Novemberr 8, 2019)

Charge number two is also important and we do have a hero who is determined to put the blame where it belongs.  People’s Action reports: “The DOJ’s Inspector General’s report came out on the origins of the Mueller report.  Led by IG Michael Horowitz, the report’s findings concluded that the investigation into Russia’s interference in our 2016 elections WAS justified, and not predicated on political bias.  This made Republicans SAD, so the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings to try to discredit the Mueller report ANYWAY.  Republicans forgot they had people like Senator Kamala Harris on the opposing team, and she subjected them to her lethal witness-questioning, all designed to tie the GOP into knots, paint them into corners.  Sen. Harris took the opportunity to go after Bill Barr’s slavish and completely improper devotion to Trump, Rudy Giuliani’s despicable and illegal activity as Trump’s personal lawyer, and even got the Inspector General to come out in favor of legislation that would change the law to give the IG even MORE power to investigate the Attorney General.  Probably not exactly what the Senate Republicans were hoping for.” (Jeff Bryant, People’s Action, December 13, 2019)

Here is a quick summary of the Mueller report’s findings, as reported by Free Speech for People: “The Mueller investigation culminated in 37 indictments and 7 convictions or guilty pleas, and it reported on 10 instances of obstruction of justice committed by President Trump.  If anyone other than President Trump had been implicated in these obstruction of justice offenses, they would be facing a criminal indictment on multiple grounds.  The Mueller Report was a roadmap for Congress to start impeachment proceedings against this president.” (John Bonifaz, Free Speech for People, August 7, 2019) Yet the McConnell-led Senate refused to take the evidence seriously, and to take any kind of action.  Their conclusion that Trump did nothing wrong was not about to be dissuaded by mere facts.  To reiterate, we are here witnessing Trumpism, America’s newest religion, in action.

In July, 2019, Robert Mueller spoke before Congress about the results of the investigation.  Adam Schiff comments on what transpired: “On Wednesday, the Congress finally had its long awaited chance to hear directly from Special Counsel Robert Mueller.  Now that a little time has passed, I wanted to send you a note with my thoughts.  We knew going into the hearing that the Special Counsel was a reluctant witness who preferred not to testify at all, believing his report should speak for itself.  But we also felt it was important for the American people to hear from Mueller directly about his work, rather than have its meaning filtered through the deceptive lens of Bill Barr, or worse, the President himself.  I wanted to use this opportunity, with millions of Americans watching, to lay out the full breadth of what Mueller’s report describes in exacting detail: Disloyalty to country.  Greed.  And lies.  Lots of lies.

“First, Mueller was absolutely clear that Russia intervened in our elections in a sweeping and systematic fashion, and they did so to help elect Donald Trump.  You and I have known that for a long time, but with all the efforts by the President and his allies to muddy the waters, it was important to hear it from Mueller directly.  What’s more, Mueller also made clear that the Russians approached the Trump campaign and offered them illicit help, and that the campaign never reported it to authorities.  In fact, they welcomed the help of a hostile foreign power, encouraged it, planned for it, and built a campaign around it.  And then they lied over and over to cover it up.
“Second, Mueller made it clear that his report did not exonerate the president.  Far from it.  Or in Mueller’s prosecutorial words: ‘The president was not exculpated.’  And when asked if the President could be charged when he left office, Mueller said that was true.
“Third, Mueller defended his investigation.  The president has constantly called the Mueller investigation a ‘witch hunt’ and the idea that Russia interfered to help him win, a ‘hoax.’  When asked, Mueller simply answered: ‘It is not a witch hunt.’  And, ‘Absolutely, it was not a hoax.’
“Finally, Mueller made it clear that this isn’t about history—it’s about the present, and about the future, with elections that are right around the corner.  The Russians are still interfering, ‘doing it as we sit here, and they expect to do it in the next campaign.’  Mueller continued, ‘We have underplayed to a certain extent that aspect of our investigation,’ and that Russia’s efforts could do ‘long-term damage to the United States that we need to move quickly to address.’
“And yet Trump said just last month that if he was offered dirt on his opponent by a foreign power again, he’d probably take it.
“It’s clear that Trump won’t take the threat of foreign interference seriously. In fact, he still welcomes it.  In the words of Robert Mueller, ‘problematic is an understatement.  Mitch McConnell, for his part, just killed another election security measure.  Trump’s loyalty is to himself and his financial gain, not the country.  And that avarice was shared by those closest to him in the 2016 election—a willingness to put money ahead of patriotism and ethics.  That is disloyalty to country.  Strong words, but justified given what Mueller found, and what we all see each and every day.

“But as much as Mueller shared, he also made clear the limits on this investigation.  Many questions remain unanswered which go to the heart of protecting our democracy.  Some go to the red line the President drew around his finances, and the fact that Mueller seems not to have ‘followed the money.’  Congress must continue to investigate, to go to court where necessary, to hold the President and his administration to account, and to get the answers necessary to protect the country from any potential compromise.  We will find the facts and we will follow them wherever they lead.” (Adam Schiff, July 26, 2019)

The Mueller report was crystal clear in its findings, but the majority of Americans seem unaware of its conclusions, or that the president did anything wrong.  Even though the report conclusively proved that Russian operatives did interfere in the 2016 election, and that Trump, his family, and his campaign staff not only was aware of the interference, but actively encouraged it, the American public is somehow under the impression (thanks to Republican lies and media complacence) that no crimes were committed.  The report found ten episodes of obstruction of justice by Trump and his staff; in addition the results of the investigation resulted in 199 criminal charges, 37 indictments and/or guilty pleas, and five prison sentences.  Everything Trump and his administration has fed to the public on Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential election has been a distortion of the truth or else an outright lie.  For its failure to expose these lies and distortions, the media is to blame.

The Republicans are engaged in the greatest scandal in American history—and the media is giving them free rein to lie their way out of it.

Daily Kos rightly maintains that Donald Trump is a traitor that not only should be impeached and removed from office, he should also be imprisoned: “Russia is not a friend of the United States.  During the 2016 election season, Russian hackers were actively at work trying to undermine confidence in U.S. democracy by breaking into our electoral systems and stealing information from our political and governmental institutions—with Vladimir Putin’s blessing.  Donald Trump publicly encouraged this, stating on national television that he hoped the Russians would find Hillary Clinton’s emails.  Now we know that Trump’s own son and high-level campaign officials met with a Russian agent to discuss information damaging to Clinton.  This is not normal; it is the act of a traitor—someone who would sell out his country to another country for personal gain, in this case a political victory by any means necessary.

“Who knows how many other meetings occurred and what was discussed, exchanged, or promised between Trump and Russia during the course of the campaign?  The collusion may run deeper than we know—or maybe not—but what we already know is bad enough.  Donald Trump is a criminal who is currently occupying the United States presidency.  He must be impeached and removed from office as the bare minimum to begin to rectify the situation, and then he must be prosecuted for his crimes, like anyone else would be.  In America, we believe that no one is above the law.

“The debate should not be about whether Trump can remain in office, whether to impeach or not impeach.  It must be about for how long he will remain behind bars.  That is what a rational country would be discussing right now.” (Eric Stetson, Daily Kos, July 12, 2017) Although this article is over two years old, the points it raises are as significant as ever.  And, Trump has committed many more impeachable offenses since the article was written.

Immediately after the House action, Mitch McConnell announced that he wouldn’t allow a single witness to be called.  This brazenly illegal action was predictably impartially reported by the media, as if McConnell has every right to change the Constitution’s rules anytime he wants.  Yet Senate rules are crystal clear in the Constitution, which demands that each Senator in an impeachment trial swear or affirm to “do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws.”  Here is a most blatant violation of the laws of the land, yet no one seems to be moving to hold him accountable.  He is getting away with defying the Constitution.  Where is the outrage?  Why is the media silent on this?  Does anyone care?

McConnell said the following during a Fox News interview on December 12, 2019: “Everything I do during this, I’m coordinating with White House Counsel.  There will be no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to handle this.”  Now, here is the actual oath Chief Justice Roberts will be administering to McConnell every other Senator at the trial: “I solemnly swear […] that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald J. Trump, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: So help me God.”  Their duty is crystal clear: They must be impartial witnesses.  Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham and others have openly said they will not be impartial witnesses.  They should therefore recuse themselves from the trial.  Failure to do so should be grounds for their impeachment.  This is nothing less than obstruction of justice and jury tampering, crimes in any court in the U.S.  The fact that McConnell and the others are willing to so brazenly defy the Constitution is further evidence how far down the road to fascism the Republican party has gone.

McConnell’s hypocrisy and partisanship comes as no surprise to anyone familiar with his history.  As Demand Progress reports: “McConnell is being hypocritical again.  20 years ago, he argued—successfully—for including witnesses in Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial: ‘There have been 15 impeachments in the history of the country.  Two of them were cut short by resignations.  In the other 13 impeachments there were witnesses,’ he told CNN’s Larry King Live on January 28, 1999, as the Clinton trial played out in the Senate.  The number included judges who were charged with impeachment.  ‘It’s not unusual to have a witness in a trial.  It’s certainly not unusual to have witness in an impeachment trial,’ McConnell said at the time.” (Robert Cruickshank, Demand Progress, December 18, 2018) For Mitch McConnell and the Republican party, it’s one set of rules for Democrats, and another for Republicans.  Again, who is holding them accountable?

When Democrats Turn Out ran an excellent article on McConnell’s hypocrisy: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell continues to stand by Trump throughout this impeachment inquiry, and now, he’s truly shown America how hypocritical he really is.  He said that the House’s impeachment resolution denies Trump ‘his most basic rights of due process.’  Ignoring the fact that he supported Trump denying migrants any due process.  Ignoring the fact that he ensured Betsy DeVos’s confirmation as Education Secretary, allowing her to deny due process to survivors of sexual assault.  Ignoring the fact that he denied Obama’s nominee for Supreme Court, Merrick Garland, his due process or even a hearing.” (When Democrats Turn Out, November 9, 2019) Again, one standard for Democrats and another for Republicans.

Of course, Trump has done all in his power to denigrate and corrupt the impeachment inquiry and he continues to do so on a daily basis.  The White House has prevented State Department officials from giving depositions to the House Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, and Oversight and Reform committees.  The desired effect is to de-legitimize the authority of Congress, mis-inform the public, and destroy our system of checks and balances.  Open the Government tells us more: “Throughout the House inquiry, Donald Trump instructed his entire administration to stonewall congressional investigations, blocking witnesses and refusing to turn over documents.  In fact, his administration’s defiance of congressional subpoenas and his blatant efforts to obstruct the ability of Congress to perform its oversight function led to the second charge of impeachment.” (Lisa Rosenberg, Open the House, December 18, 2019)

Mitch McConnell is so patently transparent in his hypocrisy that it’s difficult to believe he can say some of the things he says with a straight face.  Daily Kos gives us proof positive: “Moscow Mitch McConnell has said that he wants to work ‘together across party lines on legislation to help American families and strengthen our nation’ with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi instead of wasting time on ‘relitigating 2016’ with impeachment.  He of course is lying.” (Joan McCarter, Daily Kos, October 7, 2019) The article also notes that some four hundred bills have been blocked by Moscow Mitch from reaching the Senate floor.  Is this what he means by “working across party lines?”

It’s painfully obvious that Moscow Mitch will always put party above country.  He won’t even consider Democratic legislation.  He defies court rulings he doesn’t like.  He betrays the Constitution he was sworn to defend.  And he ignores the will of the people.  He has no credibility whatever.  He is no more than a party hack.

I will have much more on this thoroughly despicable man in my next chapter.

Since Trump and his Republican allies are ignoring impeachment-related subpoenas, they should be charged with contempt.  Congress possesses the power to do this.  If anyone else did what the Republicans are doing, they would be in prison.

Trump’s crimes in Ukraine alone warrant not only impeachment and removal from office, but jail time as well.  Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) explains why: “President Trump clearly committed impeachable offenses when he asked Ukraine to go after his political rival, in exchange for crucial diplomatic meetings and millions in foreign aid.  However, our new report, Criminal Abuse of Power, demonstrates that not only were these offenses impeachable conduct, he also likely violated several criminal laws.  If you, or any other citizen, behaved the way he did, you would likely be facing substantial prison time.  The publicly available evidence, which includes thousands of pages of witness testimony as part of the ongoing impeachment inquiry, indicates that President Trump likely committed crimes including bribery and misappropriation of funds.  While the Constitution does not require that the president commit crimes to warrant impeachment and removal from office, the fact that Trump seems to have so brazenly broken laws bolsters the already strong case for his impeachment and removal from office.” (Noah Bookbinder, CREW, December 12, 2019)

No matter how many crimes this president and his colleagues have committed, the right wing will continue to ignore, distort, and even deny the facts.  If that were not enough, talk has taken on an even more sinister tone: The threat of a new civil war if the president is impeached.  The words coming from the mouths of some of his supporters are ominous indeed.  Daily Kos has examined this issue at great length; the following is its findings:

“The most fanatical right-wing followers of Donald Trump have been warning for some time that any attempt to impeach the man in the Oval Office would result in a second American civil war that will produce large amounts of bloodshed as they rise up with their weapons caches and begin murdering liberals.  Now that he actually has been impeached, they’re going even more ballistic.  ‘He’s not gonna be removed.  He’s not gonna be removed.  He’s not gonna be removed,’ one attendee at Trump rally told a CBS reporter.  When the reporter asked, ‘Do you feel confident in that?’  he responded, ‘My .357 Magnum is comfortable with that.  End of story.’  Rep. Louie Gohmert—who has talked up civil war on several previous occasions—went ballistic on the floor of the House last week, warning that impeachment meant the end of America: ‘This is a travesty.  We’re in big trouble,’ Gohmert huffed, adding, ‘Now it’s lowered even further, the bar.  [Impeachment] will be used for political battles and this country’s end is now in sight.  I hope I don’t live to see it.  This is an outrage.’
“Louisiana Congressman Clay Higgins was even more unhinged in his similar rant last week: ‘They fear the true will of we the people.  They are deep established D.C.  They fear, they call this Republican map flyover country.  They call us deplorables.  They fear our faith, they fear our strength, they fear our unity, they fear our vote, and they fear our president.  We will never surrender our nation to career establishment D.C. politicians and bureaucrats.  Our republic shall survive this threat from within. American patriots shall prevail.’
“The real action, however, has been on social media, where Facebook and Twitter posts eagerly anticipating the violent uprising to preserve Trump’s presidency have been as common as dirt.  Ex-Navy SEAL Jonathan Gilliam, for instance, used Gohmert’s comments as a springboard on Twitter for open discussion of a shooting civil war in which conservatives begin killing liberals for attempting to remove Trump: ‘Like so many, I see exactly what he sees.  Therefor [sic] it is time we begin considering the possibility of civil war.’
“I am counting down the days until the vigilantes take to the streets.  I dread the inevitable conflict that is coming but will do whatever I can I can to support the fight against the Left,’ one commenter replied.  Another answered: ‘lol it would be a short Civil War II.  The vast majority of the peace officers, military personnel, and gritty hard-working 2nd Amendment loving Americans are on our side.  The snowflakes have no idea about the sleeping bear they are about to awaken.’  A fairly typical response among far-right extremists has been to pledge utter fealty to Trump, even unto death.  Rene Hollan, a Monroe, Wash., man who is a regular participant in events organized by Patriot Prayer and the Proud Boys in the Pacific Northwest, posted a screed (later removed by Facebook) vowing that he would even detonate a nuclear bomb in a major liberal city:  ‘As a naturalized U.S. citizen who swore the Oath of Allegiance, if President Trump orders me to drive a truck with a nuke into a city with Facebook offices or an illegal sanctuary city, and detonate it, killing myself, everyone in the city, and rendering it a sheet of glass, it would be my honor to comply.’
“Another Northwest far-right figure, ‘documentarian’ Brandon Farley—long a player in the Portland-area ‘patriot’ scene—invited neo-Nazis to start killing his critics: “Hey Atomwaffen, will you please take note of this and act accordingly?” he tweeted.  A couple of days later, Farley discovered that his name came up in Twitter searches for Atomwaffen, and expressed his confusion.
“Social scientist Caroline Orr collected a large cache of these kinds of comments on Twitter, noting, ‘It’s easy to laugh at the keyboard warriors in the mix, but there are definitely extremists using this opportunity to try to bring about social and political upheaval by issuing calls for violence.’  ‘Lock N Load, PATRIOTS, the demonrats just told us what they want for Christmas: #CivilWar2,’ wrote one.  ‘Let’s make the demon rats live on the streets of their own districts!’  ‘ALERT!! If the Democrats impeach OUR PRESIDENT WE NEED TO HAVE A CIVIL WAR,’ tweeted another.  ‘America as we have known it will be gone and the squad will be in charge of us.  I shiver thinking of it.  A civil war will be the only way to get America back as we remember it.’
“Of course, it’s always worth remembering that this talking point has been deliberately promoted by Russian intelligence agencies as part of their campaign to undermine American democracy.  A Justice Department affidavit released in 2018 noted that the ‘civil war’ meme is being directly encouraged by Internet Research Agency, the Russian-financed disinformation agency that purchased 3,500 ads on Facebook during the 2016 campaign with the intent of undermining American political consensus.  The affidavit describes directions given to IRA’s writers.  Forcefully support Michael Savage’s point of view with competence and honesty.  Savage made it clear that any attempt to remove Trump is a direct path to a civil war in the United States.  Name those who oppose the president and those who impede his efforts to implement his pre-election promises.  Focus on the fact that the Anti-Trump Republicans: a) drag their feet with regard to financing the construction of the border wall; b) are not lowering taxes; c) slander Trump and harm his reputation (bring up McCain); d) do not want to cancel Obamacare; e) are not in a hurry to adopt laws that oppose the refugees coming from Middle Eastern countries entering this country.  Summarize that in case Republicans will not stop acting as traitors, they will bring upon themselves forces of civil retribution during the 2018 elections.

“Over at Trump-friendly Russia Today, op-ed writer Robert Bridge bolstered the civil war talk with a piece headlined ‘Democrats’ push to impeach Trump is just the latest chapter of US Civil War 2.0,’ in which he concluded, ‘What is happening now in Washington DC between the Republicans and Democrats is just mere dress rehearsal for far more disasters down the road. I just hope the costumes don’t end up being blue and gray, once again.’” (David Neiwert, Daily Kos, December 26, 2019)

This article shows the extremism that marks the core of today’s Republican party; where are the moderates?  Who is speaking out against this nonsense?  Unfortunately, it is not only the moderate Republicans (assuming any still exist) who are not speaking out against this, most Democrats, Independents, and others remain passively silent about this threat.  And of course the media is doing nothing whatsoever about it.  Why is everyone running scared?  Don’t the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution mean anything anymore?  Doesn’t anyone have the courage to stand up to these extremists?  As for the extremists, they have apparently forgotten how the original Civil War ended for them in 1865.

The likelihood of a new civil war emerging is remote, but that is no guarantee that some of these nuts won’t go into schools, churches, shopping malls, and other locations just to go on a shooting spree.  It’s been happening for decades now.  And the number of mass murders has risen astronomically since Trump assumed the Oval Office.  The reason should be obvious:  a closer, unbiased look at the mass murderers in recent decades shows that most of them were right-wing extremists, exactly the type of individuals the article above refers to.  Take Timothy McVeigh as an example: He was a right-wing fundamentalist Catholic, facts that were ignored by the media.

People who think like this are living in a fantasy world of their own creation, aided and abetted by like-minded individuals and an ever-compliant media.  Do they really think there are no consequences for murder?  Do they really think they can take their precious guns and start killing liberals with impunity and that the rest of the country will do nothing?  The fact is that it is the Southern states (and the Southern mentality in the Northern states) that is receiving huge amounts of Federal money to compensate for their own incompetence.  A civil war would cut off all those funds without doing them a bit of good; how would killing a bunch of liberals enable these kooks to better themselves and their pathetic existence?  It should be obvious that these people are mentally ill and steps should be taken to ensure that they do not pose a danger to everyone else.  Instead, we allow them to spew their hate on Facebook, Twitter, and just about everywhere else.

If you think the appeal for a new civil war is just talk, consider what happened in the original Civil War:  The South lost the 1860 election and decided to go to war.  They lost the war and became a minority to the states that defeated them.  When they couldn’t get their way, they resorted to terrorist tactics, most notably the rise of the Ku Klux Klan in 1866.  The same thing is happening again; who says history never repeats itself?

Today’s Christian nationalists wave the flag of the traitorous confederacy—and then call themselves patriots.  Their gall is unbelievable.

No new civil war is going to take place.  But unless we start acting against the new fascists, acts of domestic terrorism will continue to rise.  The FBI and other government institutions need to step up and act against the alt-right, which is the single greatest threat to the survival of our country.

I have repeatedly referred to Donald Trump’s regime as fascist, so allow me to quote Daily Kos’ definition of fascism so the connection with the current man in the White House will become clearer: “I think they are very fine people.’  This was Trump’s response to the neo-Nazis and white supremicists at the Charlottesville tragedy in 2017.

“The lack of a clear line marking the transformation to a fascist state, points to the movement’s insidious nature, and the impossibility of relying on simplistic definitions.  Since there is no all-encompassing definition, it is necessary to look at the traits and explore the degrees of fascism.  While many traits of fascism are almost universally accepted, some are contested.  The following are generally accepted definitions of fascism: 1) Powerful and Continuing Nationalism.  2) Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights.  3) Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause.  4) Supremacy of the Military.  5) Rampant Sexism.  6) Controlled Mass Media.  7) Obsession with National Security.  8) Religion and Government Connected.  9) Corporate Power is Protected.  10) Labor Power is Suppressed.  11) Disdain for Intellectuals and the Fine Arts.  12) Obsession with Criminality and Punishment.  13) Rampant Cronyism and Corruption.  14) Fraudulent Elections.  15) Top-Down Revolution or Movement.  16) Unbridled Corporatism.  17) Extreme Anti-communism, Anti-socialism and Anti-Liberal Views.  18) Extreme Exploitation.  19) Totalitarian.  20) Extreme Nationalism.  21) Destructive Divisiveness.  22) Opportunistic Ideology.  23) Violence and Terror.  24) Expounding of Mysticism or religious Beliefs.  25) Cult-like Figurehead.  26) Censorship

“Any objective assessment of the George W. Bush administration during the Iraq war and after the reports of torture at the Iraqi Abu Ghraid prison in May of 2004 would find most of the traits listed above.  Undoubtedly, that government was one of the most repressive in U.S. history.  By the spring of 2004, journalists were already describing it as fascist, and now we have an openly fascist occupant in the White House, the despicable, repugnant sloth, who fraudulently became the president.” (Daily Kos, September 9, 2019) To the 25 listed above, I would add: 26) Hatred of minorities and foreigners.  27) Hatred of alternative lifestyles.  28) Hatred of homosexuality.  29) Desire to return to an imaginary pristine past.  30) Detesting of civil liberties.  31) No recourse for dissenters.  32) Ability to change the rules at any time.  33) Constant barrage of propaganda.  34) Hatred of unions and worker’s rights.  35) Attacks on the free press.

The  points listed above prove that the connections between fascism and today’s Republicans couldn’t be more obvious.  This is why I refer to the Republican party as a fascist party; they have abandoned all the principles of freedom and morality this country was founded on.

Donald Trump’s obvious paranoia should concern everyone.  His reaction to the impeachment process is downright hysterical.  He is now threatening charges of treason and deportation for any Democrat who dares to speak out against him by questioning his criminal conduct.  And, thanks to the power Congress has given to the executive branch over the last two decades, Trump can also spy on anyone he chooses.

The same Republicans who demanded Bill Clinton’s impeachment because of his alleged affair have no problem at all with a Republican dictator who has committed treason by allowing Russia to give him the presidency.  They are threatening to keep witnesses from testifying at an impeachment trial, a clear violation of the laws of the land.

The United States Senate is required by law to administer fair and impartial justice in any trial.  McConnell and his colleagues are committing treason by rigging the game in favor of the defendant.  What kind of a trial takes place when the judge and jury are in the pockets of the defendant?

McConnell was upfront and open about his intention to destroy the impeachment and trial: “Everything I do during this, I’m coordinating with the White House counsel.  There will be no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to handle this.”  This is treasonous conduct on the part of an important elected official.  Why is nobody doing anything to hold McConnell accountable for this crime?

If there is one clear fact that is emerging from the entire farce of a trial, it is that the McConnell-led Senate is never going to live up to its duty and hold a fair, impartial trial.  The House of Representatives, which drew up the articles of impeachment, was meticulous in laying out all the rules to ensure a fair trial.  House Resolution 660 promulgated all the rules, but the Senate has done absolutely nothing.  All they have is McConnell’s traitorous statement that he will be working with the White House all the while.  As absurd as it sounds, the White House, at this writing, is actually contemplating suing the House of Representatives based on the false notion that Pelosi is withholding the documents as a political action, thereby rendering the whole trial invalid.  Of course this is blatantly unconstitutional, but what does that matter to today’s Republican party?

Every Republican who votes to acquit Trump is voting in favor of obstruction of justice, illegal presidential profiteering, constant lies to the public, illegal use of power, separation of families, discrimination, and white supremacy.  Again, this makes them traitors.

Glenn Kirschner, a former federal prosecutor who is frequently interviewed on cable news, is aghast at what the Republicans are trying to do.  On December 24, 2019, he said: “Every day in our country, jurors take an oath to do fair & impartial justice & decide cases based solely on the evidence. Mitch McConnell & Lindsey Graham are mocking that oath.  Every American should be asking themselves, what kind of drug deal are McConnell & Graham cooking up?”

What seems obvious is that the Republicans will do all they can to end this farce of a trial as quickly as possible: Donald Trump will be acquitted by the Republican-led Senate.  Think what this means for the future: Future presidents will feel free to lie, ignore the Constitution, ignore the checks and balances of our government, get away with stealing an election, and suffer no consequences whatever.  And their colleagues will support them.  What kind of America will we be living in?

With this in mind, let’s now take another look at “Moscow Mitch”  McConnell and his fellow conspirators.




I will begin this section with a long quote from a Daily Kos article which really hits the nail on the head with regard to “Moscow Mitch” McConnell: “The Week news magazine has named Senate Majority Leader Moscow Mitch McConnell the decade’s most consequential politician, over Barack Obama, the nation’s first African American president, and Donald Trump, the nation’s most problematic president ever.  ‘McConnell was smashing norms and precedents in the Senate even before Trump arrived in Washington, D.C.  In the case of Trump’s major accomplishments—cutting taxes and transforming the American judiciary—McConnell probably deserves the lion’s share of the credit,’ writes Joel Mathis.  It started with McConnell’s refusal—in the minority—to do anything to give Obama a win, making Republicans the ‘party of no’ and relishing it.  The rationale that Republicans will say out loud is that they figured any lack of progress would be blamed on Obama.  The impetus lying behind that was clear during Obama’s presidency for anyone paying attention, but has been made abundantly clear by the white supremacist Republicans elected to the White House.  They didn’t want the nation’s first black president to succeed and would exploit the ever-simmering racism in the GOP to regain their majority. It worked.
“That included manipulating Senate rules to block Obama judiciary nominees, including Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, for McConnell’s most consequential achievement.  That’s been remaking the federal judiciary for at least a generation with young, far-right extremist judges, a record number of them, in fact.  And another record number of them who have been deemed unqualified for the lifetime seats by the nonpartisan American Bar Association.  Qualifications be damned—McConnell is on a mission, saying, ‘And by appointing and confirming these strict constructionists to the courts who are in their late 40s or early 50s, I believe working in conjunction with the administration, we’re making a generational change in our country that will be repeated over and over and over down through the years.’
“The third most consequential thing he’s done, Mathis says, is to turn a blind eye to foreign interference in our elections.  He’s all but invited malign foreign influence in the very heart of our democracy.  He refused to give his assent to the Obama administration to inform the public about Russian meddling ahead of the 2016 election, instead threatening all-out partisan warfare that could have made the situation even more precarious.  Now McConnell is refusing to act on legislation that would help secure the next election.  If Putin’s help is what it takes for Republicans to keep the White House and Senate, McConnell’s going to invite it.

“In so many ways, regaining the Senate and getting McConnell out of power are even more important than defeating Trump.  The future health of the nation requires a restored Senate, one that won’t collude with a rogue president to destroy it all.” (Daily Kos, December 27, 2019)

Just how bad is Moscow Mitch?  Listen to Daily Kos: “Moscow Mitch McConnell didn’t just casually toss the Constitution into the trash on Sean Hannity’s show Thursday when he promised Donald Trump would be in control of his own impeachment hearing.  He gloated over his wanton destruction of federal judiciary, laughing at Hannity for saying that he was shocked President Obama left judicial vacancies.  ‘I’ll tell you why,’ he answered. ‘I was in charge of what we did the last two years of the Obama administration.’  Then he laughed.  He laughed over the fact that he single-handedly refused to let the Senate advise and consent on President Obama’s judicial nominees.  He’s laughing over the fact that he left all those vacancies open for Donald Trump.  For Trump.  Including a Supreme Court seat.

“He’s now reached an obscene milestone—50 circuit court judges confirmed.  Fifty.  These are the judges that will send every anti-abortion, anti-civil rights, anti-environment case from the states up to the Supreme Court.  For decades to come, because many of them are very young and these are lifetime appointments.  He’s reached his goal on the circuits, he told POLITICO, and is moving on.  ‘Whatever’s on the calendar, I’m going to make every effort I can to clear them all,’ McConnell said. ‘We’ve already […] finished up the circuits.  So I’m going to make my best effort to clear the calendar of district judges by the end of the year.’
“He has been completely undaunted by the fact that a record number of those judges have been deemed ‘unqualified’ by the American Bar Association.  They’re now up to seven unqualified judges confirmed, including two just confirmed: the ‘arrogant, lazy ideologue’ Lawrence VanDyke, who cried crocodile tears over his ABA rating, and anti-abortion zealot Sarah Pitlyk, who ‘has never tried a case as lead or co-counsel, whether civil or criminal [and] has never examined a witness.’

“Moscow Mitch is infesting the federal judiciary with unqualified, bigoted judges and he’s proud of it.  He thinks it’s funny.  And he’s doing it for Trump, a bigoted, unqualified president.  Because it wasn’t enough to destroy the Senate.  He has to destroy the judiciary, too.” (Joan McCarter, Daily Kos, December 13, 2019)

Moscow Mitch has also broken countless promises.  Ditch Mitch tells us of two such promises, and how his failure to deliver underscores a fundamental dishonesty in his character: “Under immense public pressure from people like Jon Stewart, last month, Mitch McConnell finally met with the 9/11 first responders who had been urging him to renew funding for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.  Mitch McConnell left the meeting promising to hold a vote to renew funding, having previously said, ‘We will take care of the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund.’  And today, after weeks and weeks of continued pressure, the Senate is expected to finally take up the bill for a vote.

“But just like he promised to ‘take care of’ 9/11 first responders, Mitch McConnell made a similar promise in October of 2018 to ‘take care of’ coal miners with black lung disease and not allow the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund to expire.  At the time, Mitch said, ‘That’ll be taken care of before we get into an expiration situation.  It just won’t be allowed to be unfunded.’
“But guess what Mitch did not ‘take care of,’ and guess what expired on January 1st of this year. (Hint: It’s the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund).  
The black lung fund is paid for in part by a tax on coal companies.  So as you can imagine, the coal industry spent lots of money lobbying against it being renewed.  Because when Mitch let the funding expire earlier this year, the tax was cut by 55 percent—saving coal companies hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
“The Government Accountability Office, the non-partisan congressional office responsible for auditing and evaluating these types of things, now estimates that by mid-2020, the fund will no longer have enough money to cover benefit payments to coal miners with black lung.  A tax cut for coal companies—at the expense of miners.

“Today, after sitting on buses for hours and hours, hundreds of coal miners (many with black lung) are in DC trying to meet with Mitch McConnell, because just like he did with our 9/11 heroes, Mitch is making them come beg for their health care and their lives after he didn’t even bother to hold a vote to extend funding.  Mitch’s favorite trick in the book is that if he doesn’t like something, he just doesn’t allow a vote on it—plain and simple.  It’s no different than how Mitch refused to allow a vote for the full public release of Mueller’s report.  How Mitch blocked a vote on HR1—the bill passed by the House to make it easier to vote.  How he refused to allow a vote to reopen the government during Trump’s month-long shutdown.  And it’s certainly no different than when he blocked Merrick Garland or rammed through Brett Kavanaugh.” (Ditch Mitch, July 23, 2019)

Democrats and all thinking Americans should be outraged over the crimes and damage this man is causing to our country.  Democrats should be angry—REALLY angry, and yet most of them still want to “work” with Republicans.  This was seen in December when House Democrats went along with Republicans in extending the Patriot Act, which allows government officials to collect personal information on Americans without a warrant.  These Democrats need to grow a backbone; they either cannot or will not understand that you cannot work with zealots like Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, William Barr and all the others who are a disgrace to our country.

There is one more obvious reason why liberals are calling McConnell “Moscow Mitch.”

Like his boss, Mitch McConnell’s dealings with Russia should raise the eyebrows of any thinking person.  Daily Kos clarifies these connections: “A Kremlin-linked Russian company has invested in McConnell’s home state of Kentucky, and may be funneling money to his political action committees.  Rusal, the company owned by Putin-linked oligarch Oleg Deripaska (who was part of the Mueller investigation), wanted to invest in a Kentucky aluminum mill.  But they could not, because economic sanctions against Russian companies were in place.  So according to an investigative report in Time Magazine, Deripaska gave up part of his stake in the company—while an investor (naturalized U.S. citizen Len Blavatnik) contributed millions to Mitch McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund.

“Meanwhile, with active help from McConnell and the Trump Administration, they were able to get the sanctions on Russian companies lifted.  Mitch McConnell’s advocacy for a Putin-linked company is extremely dangerous & disturbing, and raises all sorts of questions.  Is this why he has obstructed bipartisan measures to protect our voting systems from foreign interference—earning him the nickname #MoscowMitch?” (Paul Hogarth, Daily Kos, August 15, 2019)

In March, 2019, House Democrats passed H.R. 1, an election reform bill that would re-enforce election laws to prevent foreign interference, and make it easier for everyone to register and vote.  One would think that honest elections that encourage people to vote would have bipartisan support.  But Mitch McConnell has called this bill a Democratic power grab and decided to kill it by preventing the Senate from voting on it.  So, according to Republican thinking, encouraging people to vote and making it easier for them to do so is a “power grab” by the Democrats, while closing voting booths, using voting machines that don’t work and other strategies designed to keep minorities from voting is somehow not a power grab by Republicans.  It’s 1984, all over again.

There is more than one corrupt McConnell, just as there is more than one corrupt Trump.  In this case, it’s McConnell’s wife.  When Democrats Turn Out summarizes her corruption: “Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao (who just so happens to be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s wife) is now under investigation by the House Oversight Committee.  She is accused of using her position to get her family members lucrative business opportunities and loans, allegedly totaling in the hundreds of millions of dollars.  This comes after she appointed a special liaison to help with grant applications that benefit Kentucky—which just so happens to be the state that McConnell represents in the Senate.  Her unethical behavior resulted in at least $78 million being spent in Kentucky ahead of her husband’s impending re-election bid.” (When Democrats Turn Out, September 20, 2019)

The McConnells are America’s most corrupt couple—and that’s saying a lot.

There is much more to be said about Mitch McConnell, a truly horrible man, much of which I’ve covered in my previous articles.  But it should be reiterated that he, like his president, is a traitor to his country on many different levels.  For example, he has said he will be “coordinating” his efforts with the White House on the impeachment trial.  As a Senate leader, he has sworn to uphold the law and  to be impartial at any trial he’s involved in.  His plans for the impeachment trial clearly shows that he is mocking the U.S. Constitution—and continues to do so on a daily basis.

2020 is the progressives one and only chance.  If Democrats re-take the Senate, they should re-examine every single appointment made by the Republicans.  They should closely examine every appointee for possible corruption or any kind of criminal wrongdoing.  To be sure, none of the FBI investigations into these appointees was thoroughly done under William Barr.  And, should any such activity be found, they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  Brett Kavanaugh should be the first one investigated, because he lied about working for George W. Bush (among countless other allegations).  Should all this come to pass, it would be hugely entertaining watching Mitch McConnell going into conniptions as his work is summarily destroyed before his eyes.

To reiterate, here are some of the lies Kavanaugh told during his confirmation hearings, as provided by Progress America: “1) He said he first heard about Deborah Ramirez’ allegations when ‘The New Yorker’ published them on Sept. 23.  But text messages show that Kavanaugh and his team were trying to refute Ramirez’s allegations before they became public.  2) Kavanaugh claimed to have ‘no connections’ to Yale, explaining ‘I got there by busting my tail.’  But Kavanaugh’s grandfather attended the school, giving him an advantage as a legacy student under Yale’s admissions policies.  3) Kavanaugh said that he and Dr. Ford did not travel in the same social circles.  But Dr. Ford dated Kavanaugh’s friend Chris Garrett (aka Squi), whom Kavanaugh mentioned repeatedly in his testimony, in the summer of 1982.  4) Kavanaugh said that none of the gatherings on his calendar included the group of people that Dr. Ford identified.  But a July 1 calendar entry included the same people that Dr. Ford said attended the gathering.  5) Kavanaugh claimed that ‘all the witnesses who were there say it didn’t happen.’  But Dr. Ford’s friend Leland Keyser, one of those Dr. Ford says was present, said she believes Dr. Ford’s allegation.  Lying under oath should have been enough to disqualify Kavanaugh.  Credible accusations of sexual assault from Dr. Ford and Ms. Ramirez should have been enough to disqualify him. (Mike Phelan, Progress America, September 17, 2019)

While on the subject of Kavanaugh, even more damaging information has come out since my last article.  Demand Justice reports: “Ever since Brett Kavanaugh became a household name, we’ve known that he isn’t fit to serve on the Supreme Court.  And, sure enough, this week the New York Times published new evidence that the FBI turned away multiple witnesses who would have corroborated Brett Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual assault of Deborah Ramirez.  Brett Kavanaugh has been credibly accused of sexual assault by multiple women and he lied about it while he was under oath.  We never thought we would have to say this, but people who lie under oath and sexually assault multiple women do not deserve a seat on the Supreme Court.

“The case against Kavanaugh is crystal clear, and serious Democrats are making the case for impeachment.  Six of the top 2020 presidential candidates, not to mention leading progressives in Congress like Rep. Pramila Jayapal and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have all voiced support, but House Democratic leaders have signaled that they are uncomfortable impeaching Brett Kavanaugh.” (Demand Justice, September 19, 2019) Again, we see another example of Democrats who don’t possess a backbone; removing a criminal from the Supreme Court isn’t going to happen not because there is no proof, but because there are so many weak Democrats who are “uncomfortable with it.”

Republicans are running scared about being defeated at the polls, and have been making every effort to ensure that this cannot happen.  Back in 2013, the conservative-led Supreme Court destroyed the Voting Rights Act, the result of which has been constant efforts at voter suppression across the country.  In December, 2019, Georgia acted to purge four percent of registered voters in the state.  In Wisconsin, a county judge purged 200,000 names from voter rolls, over 90% of which were registered outside of his jurisdiction!  These and other actions are designed for one purpose only: To keep possible Democratic voters away from the polls.  They are targeting the same communities of color the Voting Rights Act was created to protect.

People’s Action exposes another voter purge by Republicans: “Ohio is set to purge nearly a quarter-million people from its voter rolls Friday despite journalists and voting rights groups finding repeated mistakes on the state’s list.  Republican Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose published a list in August targeting 235,000 voters the state says are inactive, meaning voters who have not voted for the past six years that the state was unable to contact.  The list of voters was fraught with errors.  The secretary of state’s office announced hundreds of changes to the list almost immediately.  Two weeks later, voting rights groups discovered that 4,000 people had been erroneously added to the list, the Columbus Dispatch reported.  The paper reported days later that another 1,600 people had been incorrectly added to the list because of an error by a software vendor.  The list also included thousands of people who were apparently unaware they had been targeted for removal, even though the state is required to attempt to contact them.  More than 11,800 people included on the list have updated their voter registrations so they won’t be canceled, HuffPost reported.  Ohio removes people from the rolls if the state suspects they have moved or died.  The list includes people who have not responded to an address confirmation mailing and people who have not voted or participated in any board of elections activity for six years.  But voting rights groups say the purge lists are filled with errors that could disenfranchise thousands of legitimate voters.  Ohio has already purged 265,000 voter registrations this year, and at least 17 million people have been purged from voter rolls around the country since the 2016 election, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.” (Tom Conway, People’s Action, September 9, 2019)

The Republicans are relentless in their efforts to keep people from voting.  They are dead set against voting by mail and are relentlessly trying to close polling places in counties that favor Democrats.  When voters try to go elsewhere, they find extremely long lines and voting machines that don’t work.  These efforts were already being utilized back in 2016, so expect much worse in 2020.  This is just another example of how Republicans are inherently dishonest in their dealings with the public; they couldn’t care less about the will of the people.

The 2013 Supreme Court ruling that the Voting Rights Act was unconstitutional enabled states to disenfranchise voters they don’t like (invariably minority voters) and keep Republicans in power.  Since then, Republican legislators and election officials have successfully closed 1,688 poll sites in 13 states, most of which are in the Southern states.  Republicans know that their ideas are unpopular with the majority of voters, so their only recourse is to try and keep them from voting.

Blaming Democrats for all the ills of the country (lies and fear tactics are Republican’s bread and butter) is of course a key component of their strategy to get and keep control.  Daily Kos elaborates: “Republicans have concocted a message of their own that they repeat endlessly: Do-nothing congressional Democrats have failed to work across the aisle or to generate any useful legislation since Trump arrived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  This flat-out fabrication is no surprise coming from the man of 15,000 lies or the likes of the Republican toadies on the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees who claim the impeachment inquiry is a hoax because Democrats failed to seek the testimony of witnesses with firsthand knowledge of Trump’s devious stratagem in Ukraine.  This assertion totally ignores Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s and Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch’s testimony and the subpoenas the White House got more than a dozen witnesses to defy.  Just as they ignore McConnell’s defiantly throwing up obstacles to all but the most innocuous legislation.  But, as disinformation specialists know so well, repeat a lie often enough and a certain portion of the populace will believe it’s true.  You can fool some of the people all of the time, and that obviously can be enough to achieve whatever scheme you have in mind.  Saying Democrats have not done anything can act like an ad jingle, permanently engraving BS on the brain of fooled people.” (Meteor Blades, Daily Kos, December 26, 2019)

Gordon Sondland’s testimony on November 21 was a bombshell.  When Democrats Turn Out reports: “Gordon Sondland, Trump mega-donor and current E.U. ambassador, testified publicly yesterday that Trump tried to strong-arm Ukraine into announcing an investigation of his political opponents—and illegally withheld their foreign aid as leverage.  But he didn’t just reveal he was following orders from the president to pressure Ukraine—he also fully implicated V.P. Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the scheme.  He’s opened the doors wide open to further investigations into the conduct of the entire senior administration of the U.S. and exposed the rot that is festering in our highest office.  

“This is an extraordinarily sad day for our country.  It showed just how far those elected to serve will go toward destroying this country’s reputation to push their own personal interests.  This administration has eviscerated the dedicated civil service in the executive branch, gutted the foreign service, and left our international standing in shambles.” (When Democrats Turn Out, November 21, 2019)

Pence’s response was to call Sondland a liar, not exactly the most convincing refutation.  It should be pointed out that Sondland is a Republican, and a million dollar donor to Trump’s inauguration committee.  This is why his testimony is so crucial—it’s not coming from a supposedly  “biased” Democrat.

The sycophants in the Republican party immediately went on the offensive.  Lindsay Graham told reporters that: “I’ve written the whole process off” and that: “I think this is a bunch of B.S.”  When a reporter asked him if he would read the transcript of Sondland’s testimony, he said he would not.  In other words he is reneging on his job as Chairperson of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  The immaturity of Graham and his cohorts is ridiculous; they’re like the kid who takes his ball home when he doesn’t get his way.

Let us now take a look at Trump’s cabinet and other appointees.

The Trump administration has seen the highest number of turnovers in the history of the United States.  Like any dictator, Trump demands unquestioning obedience and when he doesn’t get it, he responds by firing the “guilty” party.  Or, pressure is put on the individual to resign.  When Democrats Turn Out describes yet another example of why the turnover rate is so high: “Alexander Acosta resigned as Secretary of Labor on Friday after his handling of the Epstein plea deal was exposed by the incredible work of Julie K. Brown, an investigative reporter with the Miami Herald—and he’s now the latest Trump administrator to resign in disgrace.  He joins the esteemed company of other administration officials like:  1) Tom Price (HHS Secretary)—Personal use of private and military jets.  2) Kirstjen Nielsen (DHS Secretary)—Handling of migrant crisis.  3) Ryan Zinke (Interior Secretary)—Meeting with lobbyists and unethical land deals.  4)  David Shulkin (VA Secretary)—Funding personal trips with taxpayer money.  5) Scott Pruitt (EPA Administrator)—Spending habits and conflicts of interest.  6) Michael Flynn (National Security Advisor)—Lied to the administration and to the FBI about meeting with foreign governments, currently awaiting sentencing.

“And the list goes on— Trump rode into Washington on a promise to drain the swamp; instead, his administration has elevated it at every turn, inflating their wealth at the taxpayer’s expense while eroding all ethical norms that kept our government functional. (When Democrats Turn Out, July 15, 2019)  Clearly, a key reason why the turnover rate is so high is that most of Trump’s appointees are, like their boss, corrupt to the core.  The facts do not lie: This is a criminal administration with criminals at the head of just about every significant post.

There are so many evil and corrupt people now in positions of power that it staggers the imagination.  Consider Stephen Miller: He is Trump’s Senior Policy Advisor who, according to Daily Kos, is: “the driving force behind many of Trump’s most cruel anti-immigrant policies.  His racist and xenophobic views have led to separating families at the border, multiple bans on Muslims and refugees, the lowest refugee admissions in modern history, proposed cuts to family-based and legal immigration, and repeated attempts to rescind school and work permits for undocumented youth or ‘Dreamers.’  Recently uncovered emails from Miller reveal that during the 2016 campaign, Miller pressured conservative media to print racist conspiracy theories, and aggressively stoked white supremacist anger to get Trump elected.” (Daily Kos, December 17, 2019)

Huffpost tells us more about Miller: “Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and a large group of Democratic senators have signed a letter that will be sent to the White House on Monday calling on President Donald Trump to fire senior adviser Stephen Miller in light of leaked emails showing the extent of his white nationalist beliefs…The leaked emails, the letter says, show that ‘what is driving Mr. Miller’ is ‘not national security, it’s white supremacy—something that has no place in our country, federal government, and especially not the White House.’…Nearly one month ago, the Southern Poverty Law Center published a series of blockbuster reports analyzing 900 emails Miller sent to the far-right website Breitbart from 2015 to 2016, when he was working as an aide to then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).  The emails show Miller actively shaping Breitbart stories related to race and immigration, encouraging editors and writers at the publication to draw inspiration from explicitly white supremacist websites like VDare.  At one point Miller suggested that Breitbart write about ‘The Camp of Saints,’ a fascist French novel that depicts feces-eating brown people taking over Europe.  ‘It is simply appalling that a senior advisor to the President advanced parallels between this book and contemporary events,’ states the letter the senators sent to the White House on Monday.” (Christopher Mathias, Huffpost, December 9, 2019)

Only 80 members of the House of Representatives called for Miller’s firing, and not one of them was a Republican.  We would expect this from the corrupt Republicans, but the fact that only 80 Democrats acted is very disturbing.  Again, where are the Democrats backbones?

Supremely unqualified Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is currently embroiled in yet another scandal, as People’s Action reports: “When members of Congress repeatedly confronted U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos about a study finding the federal government’s charter school grant program had wasted an estimated $1 billion on schools that had never opened or opened and quickly closed, she dismissed the findings and accused the report authors of having a ‘political agenda against charter schools.’  On December 10, the same authors issued a more detailed examination of waste in the government’s charter grant program, and concluded the $1 billion figure was indeed likely not correct: it was an underestimate.” (Jeff Bryant, People’s Action, December 13, 2019) Currently, DeVos is being held in contempt of court for violating a direct order to stop collecting loans from former students at for-profit colleges that were shut down due to fraud allegations.  Student debt in the United States currently stands at an unbelievable $1.6 trillion dollars.  This includes 54% of all young people.  And how is this affecting our educational system?  In 1990, the United States was first in four year university degrees.  Now, under DeVos and the Trump administration, we are in twelfth places.  Even DeVos’ stop aid has resigned, saying that the student loan system is “insane.”  Clearly, DeVos has absolutely no interest in education or in the students she is supposed to be serving.

People’s Action provides more proof of DeVos’ dishonesty and corruption: “Documents obtained by NPR shed new light on a bitter fight between defrauded student borrowers and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.  These borrowers—more than 200,000 of them—say some for-profit colleges lied to them about their job prospects and the transferability of credits.  They argue they were defrauded and that the Education Department should erase their federal student loan debt under a rule called ‘borrower defense.’  DeVos disagrees: She says most student borrowers still got value from these schools and deserve only partial relief from their federal loans.  Now, internal Education Department memos obtained by NPR show that career staff in the department’s Borrower Defense Unit came down firmly on the side of defrauded borrowers.  Instead of limiting students’ debt relief by arguing, as DeVos does, that defrauded borrowers still got some value from their educations, these memos arrive at a different conclusion: that credits earned from Corinthian and ITT schools are essentially worthless.  ‘Hundreds of unprompted student statements confirm that lack of value of an ITT education, as ITT students time and again report that their education was sub-standard and that their degree or affiliation with the school was an impediment rather than an asset as they sought employment,’ reads the Jan. 10, 2017, memo.  Until now, these internal department memos have been hidden from public view.  Lawmakers had previously requested access to them, but DeVos and her department refused to hand them over.” (Paige Marta Skiba, People’s Action, December 11, 2019)

In addition, another People’s Action report gives further evidence of DeVos’ corruption: “Billionaire Education Secretary Betsy DeVos this week proposed handing over the federal government’s $1.5 trillion student loan portfolio to a ‘stand-alone government corporation,’ a move observers condemned as a corrupt ploy to strip the next president of the ability to cancel student loan debt.  ‘This very much appears to be a Betsy DeVos scheme to block the next president from unilaterally forgiving federal student debt, which she is well aware a president could do without Congress,’  The Intercept‘s Ryan Grim wrote in a series of tweets late Wednesday.  ‘The DeVos family is heavily invested in the student loan industry and this is just flat-out corruption.’  DeVos’ plan, first introduced on Tuesday, would spin off the Education Department’s Federal Student Aid office into a new and supposedly independent federal agency.  Devos’ proposal, which has not been fully developed, came weeks after she was held in contempt of court failing to comply with an order to stop collecting loan payments from former students of a defunct for-profit college company that defrauded tens of thousands of borrowers.  The Department of Education admitted in a court filing Monday that it improperly attempted to collect student loan payments from 45,000 borrowers, far more than the department originally estimated.” (Sam Pizzigati, People’s Action, December 6, 2019)

CREDO Action also weighs in: “In 2015, Corinthian Colleges collapsed and left deceived students stuck with debt but no degrees.  In the wake of the scandal, the Obama administration created a new team within the Department of Education—the Student Aid Enforcement Unit—to police the billions in grants and loans administered each year.  By the time Obama left office, the unit had a dozen attorneys and investigators working around the clock.  Then Betsy DeVos happened.

“DeVos spent the last three years sabotaging the investigations unit to make sure scam artists and predatory for-profit schools get a free pass.  One of the main targets of the investigative team was DeVry Education Group.  In 2016, DeVry settled with the Department of Education and the Federal Trade Commission and agreed to pay $100 million in damages to the students it defrauded and deceived.  When DeVos arrived on the scene, the investigations office was looking into a number of for-profit giants, including DeVry, for deceptive practices, claims about graduates getting jobs and misleading advertising.
“Devos quickly sabotaged the investigations by reassigning and marginalizing staff, and instructing them to narrow their focus.  Today, only three investigators remain, processing applications and engaging in small compliance inquiries.  Worst of all, DeVos actually hired the former DeVry dean Julian Schmoke, to oversee the new, toothless investigation team.
“House progressives are fighting back.  Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib and Donna Shalala teamed up on the Protecting Student Aid Act of 2019, which would make the Student Aid Enforcement Unit official and give it the congressional mandate—along with staff and funding—it needs to do this necessary work.  

“Students are nothing but dollar signs to Betsy DeVos and her for-profit college pals.” (Heidi Hess, CREDO Action, October 7, 2019)

Let us take a closer look at Lindsey Graham.  Echoing McConnell’s hypocrisy, Graham, during the 1998 witch hunt against Bill Clinton, was asked if the shoe were on the other foot and a Republican were under investigation, would he hold the same standards?  He answered: “And somebody mentioned if a Republican president would have done this, let me just say this, it would be a good test for us.  If a Republican president had done these things, would a Republican delegation going to tell him [sic] to get out of town?  I hope so.  I would like to think that we would have done that. Only time will tell, what happens here.”  Now that the shoe is on the other foot, Graham has done a complete about face from his previous stance and become one of the criminal-in-chief’s main allies.

Graham is one of the most two-faced individuals in a party teeming with two faced sycophants.  Here’s what he tweeted on February 17, 2016, prior to Trump winning his party’s nomination: “Donald Trump is not a conservative Republican.  He’s an opportunist.  He’s not fit to be President of the United States.”  Now, he is Trump’s fiercest defender.  What happened?  Why the about face?  Why hasn’t anybody asked him this simple question?

Want further proof of Graham’s hypocrisy?  Consider Daily Kos’s report: “Sen. Lindsey Graham opened the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz about his report on the FBI investigation into ties between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia by first tossing out a few general paragraphs—mostly about how he never makes long opening statements.  That was the precursor for Graham to break into an opening statement that rambled on, and on, and on, rehashing every aspect of the Russia investigation, including things that had absolutely nothing to do with anything Horowitz was investigating.  In the course of his 45-minute-plus statement, punctuated by shuffling through papers and frequent references to ‘smelly people,’ Graham went through not just the Russia investigation but tangential events, false claims, and, of course, dozens of text messages.  Naturally, that included reading through a whole series of texts between (say it with me) Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.  Because nothing satisfies a Republican audience more than hearing texts between two people having an affair.  For the ten-thousandth time.  Notably. Graham read through a whole series of comments made months before the election of Donald Trump and complained that Strzok and Page didn’t respect their ‘commander in chief.’  It’s worth pausing for a moment to consider that, in the exact same period in which the texts were sent, Graham described Trump as ‘a kook’ who was ‘unfit for office.’  In fact, Graham directly said that Trump is ‘not qualified to be commander in chief.”’ Graham also offered the advice, ‘You know how to make America great again?  Tell Donald Trump to go to hell.’” (Mark Sumner, Daily Kos, December 11, 2019) Clearly, this man will say and do anything at any time, no matter how it contradicts his own previous words.  Does anyone take him seriously?

Of course, Graham won’t recuse himself from the impeachment trial.  When Democrats Turn Out summarizes him thusly: “Graham has refused to read the transcripts of the House interviews, claiming they wouldn’t change his mind anyways.  He’s tried to unmask the whistleblower, saying the entire impeachment inquiry is ‘invalid’ without their testimony.  He supported Trump’s emergency declaration to build the wall on our southern border.  And, at the bidding of the White House, he blocked a bill recognizing the Armenian genocide to not anger Turkish president Erdogan—hours after arguing with him over Turkey’s invasion of Syria.” (When Democrats Turn Out, December 7, 2019)

In previous articles, I have discussed the crimes of Devin Nunes at length.  Rather than repeat all this, I will herein provide an update, as reported by Bold Democrats: “1) The House released records of DAMNING calls between Nunes and Giuliani;  2) So now House Democrats are investigating Nunes’ connections to Ukraine;  3) But Nunes is lying and covering his tracks at every turn—he’s in hot water!;  4) Luckily CNN is revealing the truth about Nunes’ shady dealings in Ukraine;  5) And now Nunes is SUING CNN for $435M in damages to cover himself;  6) Nunes is exposed, he’s never been more vulnerable—we can beat him!;  7) So the GOP just dumped a bunch of money into his campaign to save him!:  8) Because Nunes says he’ll protect Trump against impeachment at all costs.” Bold Democrats, December 7, 2019)

As for Rudy Giuliani, the man who infamously said that facts aren’t facts, there seems to be no limit to the lies and crimes he is willing to commit to serve his fascist leader.  Daily Kos exposes his latest crimes: “…in the midst of impeachment proceedings in which the main concern is Donald Trump’s attempt to solicit false information about political opponents from Ukrainian officials, Giuliani is—in Ukraine, soliciting false information about Trump’s political opponents.  And no one should be surprised to learn that he’s bragging about it.  Giuliani is meeting with corrupt officials who lost their posts in past anticorruption efforts and pro-Russian legislators who oppose Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to create a ‘documentary’ that openly supports the conspiracy theories that Trump was demanding of Zelensky.  But he’s not waiting for that documentary to mount his attacks.

“In a series of tweets on Thursday night and Friday morning, Giuliani unspooled a series of attacks on Vice President Joe Biden, Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, and President Barack Obama.  Giuliani claimed that Yovanovitch disbursed billions of dollars in aid to her ‘favored NGOs’ and that she ‘directed the police not to investigate.’  That claim—that Yovanovitch was somehow providing ‘do not prosecute’ lists—was part of the original smear that Giuliani brought against Yovanovitch in his successful campaign to get her removed from the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine.  But Giuliani didn’t stop there.  He leveled the same charges against Obama and Biden.  In his latest series of tweets, Giuliani claims that over $5 billion was ‘wasted’ in Ukraine, with Biden acting as the ‘point man’ in the disbursal and Obama ordering Ukrainian police not to investigate.  Giuliani’s claims are beyond ridiculous, his witnesses are on the far side of disreputable, and what he is doing is impossibly dangerous.  With Giuliani’s actions, Trump has moved beyond backroom demands for claims against his political opponents.  This is Trump’s personal attorney, in the open, on the air, in front of the public, conspiring with foreign officials—and foreign criminals—for the express purpose of generating claims meant to hurt Trump’s political opponents.  There’s no doubt that Trump will claim Giuliani is doing this on his own.  There’s no doubt that Giuliani will claim his actions are protected.  And there’s no doubt that the media will fail to refute either of those claims.

“With Russia, Trump learned he could get away with foreign collusion. With Ukraine, Trump confirmed that Republicans would back him no matter what.” (Mark Sumner, Daily Kos, December 6, 2019) This article again illustrates that as long as the Republicans are in charge, we are being led by rich foreign oligarchs.

There’s much more that can be said about Giuliani, all of it bad.  Daily Kos tells us about two of his associates: “Two men who assisted Rudy Giuliani in creating the Ukraine smear against Joe Biden have been arrested for campaign finance violations.  While both men funneled six figure donations to Donald Trump through a PAC run by Donald Trump Jr., that does not appear to be the primary focus of the charges.  Instead it seems the men are being charged for something more direct—bringing foreign funds into a U.S. election and plain old bribery.  The source of that money was apparently Ukraine, the purpose of that bribery was getting rid of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

“The charges have now been filed.  And the nature of the grand jury charges are easily seen in just a few words: ‘The defendants conspired to circumvent the federal laws against foreign influence by engaging in a scheme to funnel foreign money to candidates to federal and State office so that dependents could buy potential influence with candidates.’
“It’s worth noting that the description of funneling foreign money to candidates might also fit with the way that the two men sent $325,000 to a pro-Trump PAC by routing it through an LLC.  In fact, additional charges from the grand jury directly address the way that the men used an LLC to disguise the source of funds.  And the charges pull no punches about the purpose of those funds: ‘At around the same time PARNAS and FURMAN committed to raising those funds for Congressman-1, PARNAS met with Congressman-1 and sought Congressman-1’s assistance in causing the U.S. government to remove or recall the then U.S.-ambassador to Ukraine. PARNAS’ efforts to remove the Ambassador were conducted, at least in part, at the request or one or more Ukrainian officials.’
“Marie Yovanovitch was high on the list of the list for Most Important Witnesses at the impeachment inquiry.  The importance of her appearance just went up another notch.  According to a broadcast report from NBC, Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were arrested at Dulles Airport as they attempted to flee the country.
“Included in the charges are not just Parnas and Fruman, who were previously identified as assisting Rudy Giuliani in in his efforts as Trump’s personal attorney, but David Corriea who is ‘a businessman born in the United States’ and Andrew Kukushkin, ‘a businessman and United States citizen who was born in Ukraine.’  Corriea appears to be the owner of a holding company headquartered in Florida.

“It might be a good time for someone to ask Rudy Giuliani to hand over that passport.” (Mark Sumner, Daily Kos, October 10, 2019)

Rudy Giuliani has said some of the most outrageously stupid things imaginable, yet he still seems to have a free pass where the media is concerned.  “Facts aren’t facts” was only one of many.  Daily Kos tells us of another: “Rudy Giuliani, stumping for Trump today.  ‘Under those eight years, before Obama came along, we didn’t have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack in the United States.  They all started when Clinton and Obama got into office.’

“Rudy Giuliani was the Republican mayor of New York City in 2001 when two airliners piloted by radical Islamic terrorists struck the towers of the World Trade Center. Or, to use Mr. Giuliani’s middle name: 9/11.” (Daily Kos, August 15, 2016) The gall of this man is absolutely breathtaking.  It would be interesting to get his spin on the 250 white supremacist attacks in 2019—During Trump’s term of office.

People’s Action discusses another of Giuliani’s clients—and Trump’s illegal attempt to get charges dismissed against him: “President Donald Trump pressed then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to help persuade the Justice Department to drop a criminal case against an Iranian-Turkish gold trader who was a client of Rudy Giuliani, according to three people familiar with the 2017 meeting in the Oval Office.  Tillerson refused, arguing it would constitute interference in an ongoing investigation of the trader, Reza Zarrab, according to the people.  They said other participants in the Oval Office were shocked by the request.  Tillerson immediately repeated his objections to then-Chief of Staff John Kelly in a hallway conversation just outside the Oval Office, emphasizing that the request would be illegal.  Neither episode has been previously reported, and all of the people spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the conversations.  The president’s request to Tillerson—which included asking him to speak with Giuliani—bears the hallmarks of Trump’s governing style, defined by his willingness to sweep aside the customary procedures and constraints of government to pursue matters outside normal channels.  Tillerson’s objection came to light as Trump’s dealings with foreign leaders face intense scrutiny following the July 25 call with Ukraine’s president that has sparked an impeachment inquiry in the House.  Tillerson has said publicly that the president frequently asked him to do things that were illegal.  ‘So often, the president would say ‘Here’s what I want to do and here’s how I want to do it,’ and I would have to say to him, ‘Mr. President I understand what you want to do but you can’t do it that way,’ Tillerson said in an on-stage interview with Bob Schieffer in Texas last year.  ‘It violates the law, it violates treaty you know and he just, he got really frustrated when we’d have those conversations.’” (Theo Wuest, People’s Action, October 10, 2019) I never thought I’d say it, but hooray for Tillerson!

William Barr has betrayed the country as Attorney General; his sole purpose seems to be to defend the president at all costs.  Some of the things that have come out of his mouth are truly frightening.  For example, he told a crowd in December: “I think today, American people have to focus on something else, which is the sacrifice and the service that is given by our law enforcement officers.  And they have to start showing, more than they do, the respect and support that law enforcement deserves―and if communities don’t give that support and respect, they might find themselves without the police protection they need.”  What does he have up his sleeve, removing police from these communities altogether?  Comments such as this are nothing more than thinly veiled threats not to question what public officials are doing.

Daily Kos ran an article detailing what Barr has been up to (as of October 25): “Here is a rundown of a few of the things that have occupied William Barr’s time over just the last three months.  1) Barr went to Rome in effort to solicit testimony that a Maltese professor was actually a U.S. deep-cover agent put in place before Donald Trump even became a candidate in order to ‘trap’ his campaign into clamoring for Russian assistance.  Then he did it again.  2) Barr attempted to block the whistleblower complaint the sparked the impeachment inquiry against Trump from ever reaching the public, and delayed knowledge of the complaint from reaching Congress for weeks.  To do this, Barr overrode the judgement of the Trump-appointed general counsel of the CIA and the Trump-appointed inspector general of the intelligence community.  3) Barr leaned on Australian officials in an effort to get them to attack U.S. intelligence operatives and told Trump to contact Australia and solicit information aimed at discrediting special counsel Robert Mueller.  As with his Italian trip, the conspiracy theory Barr attempted to support with this move would both indict U.S. officials and exonerate Vladimir Putin.  4) Barr joined a private lawsuit to protect Trump’s tax information, directly placing the government in the position of elevating Trump’s commands over the clear letter of the law.  5) Barr attempted to land an indictment against former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe on charges of misleading investigators. 

“The results of those actions?  The Italian prime minister told Barr to leave them out of it; Australian officials refused to take any part in this fantasy; the lawsuit to protect Trump’s taxes failed in court; and Barr couldn’t manage to achieve a single indictment against McCabe.  Also, that whistleblower complaint?  It got out.
“But while Barr’s batting average may look to be in the low-nothings, he doesn’t have to put one between the lines every time.  He doesn’t have to be right at all.  After all, what Donald Trump requested of Ukraine wasn’t actual investigations into anything; it was just the announcement of investigations.  And even if Barr hasn’t convinced anyone else to play along with Trump’s favorite conspiracy theories, he’s perfectly adequate at suppressing information and distorting findings.

“Trump isn’t after facts.  He doesn’t require convictions.  The announcement that the DOJ is conducting a criminal investigation focused on James Comey, or Hillary Clinton, or Barack Obama—that’s more than enough for Trump.  And Barr is exactly the Roy Cohn-Joseph McCarthy hybrid who will give it to him.” (Mark Sumner, Daily Kos, October 25, 2019)

If the previous were not enough, People’s Action ran an article that paints a frightening picture of just how dangerous William Barr is: “Barr gave a speech to the Federalist Society that makes clear his pet constitutional theory is only a part of the problem.  This is not just about presidential power.  It is about a deep loathing for his political opposition on such a visceral level that it’s frightening to think about such a man having so much power and being answerable only to the inept bully in the White House.  It was frankly authoritarian.  Barr seeks to make the conservative movement see Trump’s alleged victimization as a reflection of their own.  They must see themselves as easy prey, hunted by the ruthless leftist ‘resistance,’ which seems to include all members of the legislative branch, ‘disloyal’ federal employees and any member of the judiciary who may have ruled against Trump’s policies.  The speech was frightening both in its arrogance and its lack of self-awareness.  Right now, Barr is in the midst of an investigation into the ‘origins’ of the Russia investigation during the 2016 campaign.  He has strongly suggested he believes it was improper to investigate a Republican presidential campaign, and the fact that the DOJ and the intelligence community, which undertook that investigation, are themselves part of the executive branch he now venerates as a repository of unlimited power doesn’t seem to have occurred to him.” (Robert Borosage, People’s Action, November 19, 2019)

Until William Barr is removed as Attorney General (and prosecuted for his crimes) the very name “Department of Justice” will remain meaningless; there is no justice under his leadership.

The bottom line with all the individuals discussed and all the other Republican sycophants is complete, unquestioned servility to their dictator-in-chief.  Daily Kos ran an article that reveals their willingness to lie and do anything else to cover up for Trump.  Although quite long, it should be read in its entirety:

“For months, even as special counsel Robert Mueller was finishing up his report, and evidence of Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign’s over 100 contacts with Russian operatives was spilling out, Republicans had an answer: Just wait.  Just wait for Michael Horowitz.  Every piece of evidence of wrongdoing by Trump or any member of his team was met by immediate claims that a FISA warrant against former Trump adviser Carter Page was issued illegally, that the contacts between former Trump adviser George Papadopoulos and Russia were the result of an FBI plant, and that the FBI was riddled by deep-state ‘Never Trumpers’ who were determined to mount a coup—even if at least one of them was ‘lovely.’

“Only weeks after he took office, Donald Trump accused President Barack Obama of ‘tapping’ his phone lines.  Rep. Devin Nunes claimed that there was widespread corruption inside the FBI, and that the agency had engaged in repeated surveillance abuses during the 2016 campaign. Attorney General William Barr accused the FBI of spying on the Trump campaign in testimony before Congress.  All they had to do was wait for Department of Justice inspector general Horowitz.  The inspector general’s report was going to pull back the curtain, reveal the truth, and explain that the whole Russia investigation could genuinely be dismissed as an illegal witch hunt.  The report was going to provide Trump with hard evidence against James Comey, against Andrew McCabe, against Peter Strzok, against everyone who had ever had the gall to actually investigate Trump’s open, public outreach to Vladimir Putin.
“Except it didn’t.  Instead. the inspector general found that the FBI had had more than adequate reason to open the investigation into connections between the Trump campaign and Russia.  It found that all of the people who have populated thousands of Trump tweets over the last years—Comey, McCabe, and agents up and down the line—acted without political intent, out of concern over national security.  Horowitz’s report didn’t just fail to find any of the conspiracies that Trump and Barr had been touting; it also laid to rest any idea that there is anything, anything, behind those claims.
“So Republicans have now decided to take a two-pronged approach, the first part of which is to simply ignore what the report says and pretend that it backs up their claims.  After all, it’s not as if the American public is going to read the report, and it’s not as if the media is going to call them on their lies.  That was the big takeaway from the Mueller report: It doesn’t matter what the report says.  It only matters what they say it says. 
“And then there’s the Republicans’ second argument: Wait for Durham.
“All the way back in July, it was thought that the Horowitz report was all but complete.  However, after William Barr got his first look at what the inspector general had found, it was immediately obvious that he wasn’t happy.  He scouted around the DOJ and fingered U.S. attorney John Durham to conduct a second investigation of the investigation, one that would not just overlap the investigation already undertaken by Horowitz, but do so with the right spin on the approach.  Demonstrating his absolute lack of belief that Durham could be trusted to follow up on his own, Barr then toured him around the world—visiting Australia, Rome, and London—to hammer intelligence agencies everywhere for one thing: evidence that could be used to harm U.S. intelligence.  So far, it appears that allied agencies have been either unwilling or unable to provide Barr and Durham with any evidence of the deep-state conspiracy of right-wing dreams.  But that’s unlikely to stop them.
“And of course—they can just make it up.  Just as they are now making up their own versions of the results of the Horowitz report.  The real, genuine words of the Horowitz report are devastating to the conspiracy theories that are the foundation of Trump’s claims about President Obama and Hillary Clinton and are directly connected to Trump’s actions in Ukraine.  That was enough to earn an unprecedented action from Barr himself and from his apprentice, attacking their own inspector general on the day of the report’s release.
“Trump and other Republicans, such as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, aren’t bothering with that step.  They’re just moving straight on to pretending that the Horowitz report says what they always claimed it would say.  Because—why not?  There’s no penalty for lying, no check on corruption, and their statements are assured a supportive platform on every form of media.
“The Horowitz report also includes information actually showing that Republican Sen. Ted Cruz’s father really did shoot John F. Kennedy.  No, that’s not true.  But it’s at least as true as everything Kevin McCarthy said when talking about the report at a Tuesday morning press conference. 

“The Republicans took a powerful lesson away from the special counsel report, and it had nothing to do with Trump’s more than 100 contacts with Russian operatives or the times when he directly ordered his attorney to lie to Congress.  What they learned is that they could characterize the findings of an official government report in any way that they wanted, even if that characterization was exactly the opposite of what was actually on the pages of the report.  And they’ll keep right on doing so until John Durham finally delivers them a report that indulges every conspiracy theory and relishes every smear.  Then they’ll lie about that one to make it sound even worse.” (Mark Sumner, Daily Kos, December 10, 2019)

People’s Action tells us of yet another Trump crony mixed up in the Russian scandal: “President Trump’s friend and political adviser Roger Stone is set to go on trial Tuesday in a proceeding that could reveal just how close Trump world got to the Russian interference in the 2016 election.  Jury selection is scheduled to commence following months of unusual public silence from Stone, who has been gagged by the judge in his case following a flap this year over his posts on social media.  Stone pleaded not guilty in January after a grand jury in Washington, D.C., returned an indictment with one count of obstructing a proceeding, five counts of making false statements to Congress and one count of witness tampering—because prosecutors allege that he tried to persuade another witness to lie to Congress too.  Neither Stone nor any other Trump insider has been charged with colluding with Russia’s interference in the 2016 election; former Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller concluded that there wasn’t enough evidence to bring a case of conspiracy.” (Tom Conway,   People’s Action, November 5, 2019)

Trump continues to nominate and appoint the worst possible people to positions of power.  Consider the following, as reported by Daily Kos: “In October 2018, Trump nominated former Monsanto profiteer Aurelia Skipwith for a second time to head the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).  Skipwith is just the latest in a long line of Trump’s anti-climate or climate-denying nominees to environmental appointments.  Ms. Skipwith had a six-year tenure at Monsanto, the notorious pesticide company that manufactures RoundUp, among many other herbicides and pesticides, and whose products contain toxic carcinogens responsible for cancer outbreaks in many farming and low-income communities.  Moreover, while working as West Virginia director for Trump’s 2016 campaign, Skipwith rallied behind the coal industry, and has undermined safeguards for endangered species in the Appalachia region.  Ms. Skipwith has also called a court decision to protect grizzlies under the Endangered Species Act a waste of resources.” (Ntebo Mokuena, Daily Kos, October 24, 2019) Skipwith is typical of the kind of people Trump wants—people who can destroy their departments from within.  This has been a common thread through all of Trump’s appointees.

I have already chronicled the exploits of Kellyanne Conway in previous articles.  Her violations of the Hatch Act should have removed her from her position as counselor to the president.  Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington reports: “In June, the Office of Special Counsel recommended Conway’s removal from federal service given her repeated violations of the Hatch Act, following multiple CREW complaints.  The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from using their official authority for partisan political purposes, and Conway had been warned in the past about her flouting of the law.  However, President Trump refused to fire her, and you and more than 35,000 other CREW supporters signed a petition calling on her to resign.  In late June, after the OSC report, the House Oversight Committee held a hearing to examine Conway’s violations, and Conway ignored a subpoena requiring her to appear.  In the months since, Conway has continued to use her Twitter account to attack Democratic presidential candidates, support the Republican party, and advocate for President Trump’s re-election, all in clear violation of the Hatch Act—and Twitter’s terms of service.  President Trump has not imposed any consequences on Conway, but Twitter could.” (Donald Sherman, CREW, October 21, 2019) Don’t hold your breath on this one!

Wilbur Ross is Secretary of Commerce and, like everyone else around Trump, will go to any length to appease his boss’ fragile ego.  He is as corrupt as the come, as CREDO Action illustrates: “When Donald Trump illegally edited a National Weather Service map with a Sharpie marker to justify his lie that Hurricane Dorian would hit Alabama, many Americans laughed it off.  But ignoring Trump’s reckless disregard of the truth is no laughing matter: Millions of Americans rely on accurate, non-political and scientific weather reporting during a natural disaster to protect their property, family and lives.  But Trump lapdogs care more about their boss’ fragile ego than they do about public safety.  Wilbur Ross, Trump’s corrupt billionaire secretary of commerce, threatened to fire top officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to protect Trump’s lies about the hurricane’s path.  Ross’s politicization of a scientific agency and his willful enabling of Trump’s lies not only threatens trust in government, it also threatens lives.  Ross is unfit for public office and must be impeached.  Abusing his power to cover for Trump and fire NOAA employees is only the latest in a long line of scandals and corrupt activities for which Ross must be held accountable.  He led Trump’s efforts to put a citizenship question on the 2020 census, going so far as to lie to Congress to cover up the administration’s goal of using the census to prop up Trump’s white supremacist agenda.

“Ross is also an ethically compromised grifter who misled the American people about his investments and appears to have used his position to line his own pockets.   In 2017, the Paradise Papers, a massive trove of leaked documents revealing how the Wall Street super-wealthy and international corporations avoid taxes, detailed Ross’s secret financial ties to Russian oligarchs with family ties to Vladimir Putin.  The papers also showed that Ross was negotiating natural gas export deals while he held huge investments in the world’s largest fleet of liquefied natural gas carriers.   Ross made none of these conflicts-of-interest public during his confirmation process before the Senate.
“Since his confirmation, Ross has flouted ethics rules and used his position to enrich himself multiple times:  1) In June 2018, Ross used non-public knowledge to short multiple stock positions, which is in violation of insider trading laws.  2) In November 2018, Ross held a secret meeting with Chevron executives about oil and gas developments, while his wife held $250,000 in company stock.  3) Earlier this year, government ethics watchdogs failed to certify Ross’s official financial disclosure forms—a rare rebuke for a cabinet secretary—after inaccurately reporting his investments.

“In response to Ross’s most recent abuse of power targeting NOAA employees, the Department of Commerce inspector general and the chief acting scientist at NOAA launched separate investigations into violations of departmental policy and ethics rules, while congressional Democrats called for Ross to resign.” (Heidi Hess, CREDO Action, September 14, 2019)

There are numerous other examples of Ross’ lies and corruption.  For example, during his confirmation hearings, Ross did not mention his investments in Navigator Holdings, a business closely affiliated with—guess who—Vladimir Putin’s family.  Yet another conflict of interest.

A bit more needs to be said about Republican efforts to stack the courts with far-right judges.  The Republicans are well aware that their policies are not popular with the majority of Americans, and one of the things that is a key to their not only keeping, but increasing their power is to fill the courts with extremist judges that can be counted on to rule in their favor.  It doesn’t matter if these people are qualified or not.  Daily Kos tells us of one nominee: “For years, Donald Trump has nominated extreme judges for lifetime appointments to the federal bench.  One of his latest nominees, Sarah Pitlyk, is no different.    Pitlyk is so unfit for the job that the American Bar Association unanimously rated her ‘not qualified’ to serve as a federal district judge.  Pitlyk has never tried a case, taken a deposition, or examined a witness.  Yet, unsurprisingly, her confirmation to the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Missouri is moving forward in the U.S. Senate.  

“Sarah Pitlyk isn’t only unqualified in terms of her experience—she’s also a right-wing ideologue with a penchant for restricting reproductive freedom.  Among many other extreme positions, Pitlyk:  1) defended Iowa’s unconstitutional six-week abortion ban;  2) argued that frozen embryos are human beings and fought against alternative reproductive technologies like IVF and surrogacy;  3) fought for the right for landlords and employers to discriminate against people who use birth control or become pregnant before marriage, and; 4) defended David Daleiden, the man behind the doctored and discredited videos attacking Planned Parenthood.” (Sarah Hogg, Daily Kos, November 21, 2019)

Unfortunately, Pitlyk isn’t an extreme example of incompetent right-wing extremists being promoted to positions of authority.  If anything, she is all too typical.  Republicans don’t want a fair judicial system; they want one that will rule in their favor every time.  In this, they are doing their fascist predecessors in the Third Reich one better in that Hitler was never able to completely control the courts.

Another example of the extremists that are taking over key judicial posts across the country concerns one Steven Menashi.  People for the American Way tells us all about him: “Republicans in the Senate JUST used their rubber-stamp majority to confirm one of Trump’s WORST judicial nominees yet—and, shamefully, it was right on the heels the New York Times reporting on the nominee Steven Menashi’s part in an illegal scheme with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to deny debt relief to students who were ripped off by greedy for-profit universities!  Nearly every Republican voted ‘yes’ to confirm Menashi, a Trump White House lawyer, who was hand-selected by Trump for a lifetime seat on one of our nation’s most powerful courts—the very same federal appeals court that just issued a ruling against Trump’s efforts to hide his tax returns from prosecutors in New York.  Menashi is a radical right-wing extremist who, in his many writings, has expressed blatant hostility towards the LGBTQ+ community, women, low-income families, Muslims, and immigrants.  But he’s not the first unfit, unethical bigot nominated by Trump or confirmed by Mitch McConnell’s Republican majority to a lifetime seat on the federal bench. And he might not be the last.” (Ben Betz, People for the American Way, November 16, 2019)

Like Pitlyk, Menashi is supremely unqualified for his post.  As Daily Kos reports: “Not only is Menashi a bigoted ideologue who is a threat to our civil liberties, but he lacks any court experience.  Sen. Dick Durbin put it succinctly: ‘He has never tried a case.  He has never argued an appeal, nor has he made any oral arguments in court.  He has never conducted a deposition. He has zero experience handling criminal cases.  He could not even name a single time when he observed a criminal trial.’” (Amanda McKay, Daily Kos, November 16, 2019)

Menashi is so bad even his fellow Republicans don’t like him.  During his confirmation hearing, his refusal to answer questions—even from other Republicans—annoyed Republican John Kennedy of Louisiana so much that he said it was “doubtful” he would vote to confirm him.  Of course, Menashi was confirmed, making one wonder how bad a nominee would have to be for them to refuse his confirmation.

Trump has nominated another individual who has spent much of his career fighting the agency Trump wants him to lead.  Trump’s nihilistic approach to cabinet appointees consists of finding someone who is overtly hostile to the agency and then, once confirmed, tries to destroy it from within.  Iron PAC tells us about this latest nominee: “Donald Trump is pursuing one of the most hostile anti-labor agendas in modern history.  Now, he’s nominated a Secretary of Labor who has spent his career fighting the Department of Labor, consistently siding with corporations, CEOs and shareholders over the rights of working people.  We demand that the U.S. Senate reject the nomination of Eugene Scalia as Secretary of the Department of Labor…The secretary of labor needs to be an advocate for working people.  The Labor Department exists to protect America’s working people, not rubber-stamp corporate exploitation policies.” (Randy Bryce, Iron PAC, August 29, 2019)

So what has Scalia done that is so horrible?  Progress America tells us: “Trump’s first nominee for Secretary of Labor withdrew from consideration after widespread reports revealed that he had repeatedly broken labor laws at the fast food chain he ran.  His second nominee resigned earlier this year for his role in helping billionaire Jeffrey Epstein escape jail time for his 2008 conviction over sex crimes.  Is the third time a charm for Trump’s Labor Department?  Nope.  LA Times Columnist Michael Hiltzik says Eugene Scalia ‘spent his entire career fighting for big businesses and against working people.’  Scalia is the son of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who dedicated his jurisprudence to rolling back regulations that keep corporations from exploiting their workers―exactly the opposite of what you’d want in a Secretary of Labor.  The apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree.  The younger Scalia has:  1) Helped Walmart defeat a law that would have forced the company to pay for health care for its workers.  2) Let Casinos avoid securing tips for employees.  3) Fought Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules to protect worker safety.  4) Represented a who’s who of giant corporate firms, including Chevron, Viacom and Saudi Arabian oil interests.  5) Earned himself a reputation as one of Wall Street’s ‘go-to guys for challenging financial regulations.’

“The Secretary of Labor should be a voice for workers in our government―not someone to nod when employers put their boots on our necks.” (Mike Phelan, Progress America, August 9, 2019) Like father, like son.

For Republicans, experience, intelligence and honesty aren’t determining factors in judicial appointments.  The only thing that matters is loyalty to the fuhrer in the White House.

These are a few of the many people Trump has appointed to top positions in the government, or who are in some way connected to him.  Let us now look at a few other Republicans who, although not directly connected to Trump, are just as immoral and evil as he is.

Duncan Hunter, a Republican from California is another disgraceful right-winger who, along with his campaign manager and his wife, was convicted for campaign finance violations.  Although not a Trump appointee, his crimes would make him right at home with the individuals just discussed.  And, in June 2019, federal prosecutors proved that in the seven year period from 2009 to 2016, Hunter had spent campaign funds on extramarital affairs with five women.  It goes without saying that Duncan is a rabid supporter of Donald Trump.

Another winner is John Ratcliffe, who not only insists that Trump has the right to allow a foreign government to interfere in a U.S. election, but that it happens all the time.  Of course, he was unable to provide us with any examples of this happening prior to Trump.  He says he is able to detect the difference between everyday acts and criminal ones, and we are supposed to take him at his word!  Believe the word of a politician who doesn’t even respect the laws of the land.  Daily Kos summarizes the whole ridiculous situation: “In a time of rampant administration and congressional corruption (see: Duncan Hunter), the blanket assertion by House and Senate Republicans that their candidates are allowed to break U.S. law to advantage themselves in their elections is a crisis of democracy.  Ratcliffe, and more critically senators such as Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham, are attempting to institutionalize that lawbreaking as legitimate, if that lawbreaking works to their advantage.  It is, indisputably, a fascist moment.” (Daily Kos, December 12, 2019) One comment submitted by a reader of this article noted: “If Trump were being impeached for eating a Marine on the steps of the White House, Republicans would be praising his table manners.”

Some of the things that come out of Republicans’ mouths are so kooky and, in many cases, downright evil that it is difficult to believe these people are living in the twenty-first century.  People for the American Way focuses on one of them: “Far-right Virginia state Senator Amanda Chase, who has ranted against ‘evil’ liberals and accuses Democrats of supporting ‘the murder of innocent babies,’ seems like she must be on a mission to offend as many people as possible…Last month, Chase blamed rape-survivors for their assaults, saying, ‘It’s those who are naive and unprepared that end [up] raped.’  Most recently, on the day of the mass shooting in El Paso, she blamed the massacre on ‘gun free zones.’… Despite her opposition to the actual rights of women, Sen. Chase made headlines recently over a dispute over a parking space, berating capitol police for violating women’s rights when they did not let her park in a restricted spot in addition to accusing them of being “democrat operatives.” (PFAW, August 15, 2019)

There are so many nut jobs in the Republican party that an entire book would be needed to list them all.  Here is one that Daily Kos has repeatedly exposed: “On this date in 2014201520162017, as well as 2018, ‘Crazy/Stupid Republican of the Day’ posted profiles of Steve Scalise, the current U.S. House Representative for Louisiana’s 1st District, who was revealed to have spoken before a group of White Supremacists, EURO in 2002, a group that was actually founded by David Duke.  Oh, and Duke says he and Scalise are of like mind, which is easy to believe considering that as a state legislator, Scalise voted against a resolution for the state of Louisiana to apologize for slavery.  Frequently appeared as a guest on the Fox News Channel as well as maintained a close-knit relationship with the Family Research Council (an anti-gay hate group) that has seen him appear a number of times on Tony Perkins’ Washington Watch program to say they are both ‘on the right side of history’ on their stance against same sex marriage (and has celebrated whenever anything is done to threaten same sex marriages with them).  We noted at the time that Scalise had lied that the Affordable Care Act would ‘lead to healthcare rationing’ while trying to fight tooth and nail from healthcare in any way including contraceptive coverage.  He repeatedly kept trying to defund Planned Parenthood, falsely claimed the Bush era tax cuts created an economic boom, denied climate change because President Obama wore a coat to his second inauguration (that would be in January), defended the racist nickname of the Washington D.C. NFL franchise.  He also claimed Obama really didn’t want to fight ISIS, and called for his impeachment over his executive orders over immigration.  As late as 2018, Scalise has argued against the Founding Fathers wanting there to be a separation of church and state, citing an alternate history that never happened where he confuses the author of the Declaration of Independence with the authors of the Constitution.” (Daily Kos, November 19, 2019) It staggers the imagination that anyone could possibly vote for a man like this.

In case you are wondering why no Republicans are turning against this obviously criminal president, People’s Action beautifully summarizes the situation: “There is a very simple reason why some Republicans voted for the impeachment proceedings against Richard Nixon, but none have so far broken ranks against Trump.  That reason is a corrupted U.S. Supreme Court.  In 1976 and 1978, the Supreme Court ruled that when corporations and billionaires purchase their very own politicians, it is constitutionally protected ‘free speech’ rather than ‘bribery,’ which is how we defined it from the beginning of our republic until 1976.  In 2010, the Supreme Court doubled down on its betrayal of American democracy with its Citizens United decision.  After those twin decisions in the 1970s, money from corporations and the morbidly rich began to flow into the coffers of the Republican Party, hoisting Ronald Reagan into the White House.  Nixon’s impeachment hearings happened in 1974, before the Supreme Court legalized bribery—and so the Senate voted 77-0 to forward the investigation, and the House voted 412-3 to accept the Judiciary Committee’s report showing ‘clear and convincing evidence’ of Nixon’s corruption.  Republicans were more concerned about their voters than about their donors back then.  But as long as their owners and funders continue to pay Republicans to keep Trump in office, they’ll continue to say, ‘How high?’ every time Trump yells, ‘Jump!’” (Thom Hartmann, People’s Action, December 5, 2019) Given all this, the possibility of real reform begins to look extremely unlikely.

There is no level of gutter politics the Republicans won’t resort to to get their legislation passed.  Daily Kos provides us with one example: “North Carolina Republicans have hit a shocking new low, and they did it on 9/11.  “As Gov. Roy Cooper and at least one Democrat from the North Carolina legislature attended a memorial on the anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, Republicans held a surprise vote to override the Democratic governor’s veto of the state budget.  Democrats were assured that there would be no votes that morning, and that Republicans were only opening the session as a technicality so they could get to work on other business.  With most Democrats absent from the chambers, they then rammed through a vote on the entire state budget—and got the necessary two-thirds vote of members present.  The state budget they passed included denying Medicaid to over 500,000 North Carolinians. One Republican—Rep. Jason Saine—even had the nerve to argue it was necessary to pass this on 9/11, or else the ‘terrorists win.’

“These are the same Republicans who control North Carolina’s legislature because of an ultra-partisan gerrymander that the courts have found unconstitutional—and have ordered them to redraw the lines.  Once again, Republicans can only stay in power by cheating.” (Paul Hogarth, Daily Kos, September 13, 2019)

If Democrats win the presidency and control the Senate in 2020, they must take action to put these criminals on trial.  If they fail to do so, the Constitution and the laws of the land will become meaningless.  The big question is: Are there any Democrats out there with enough guts to do this. At the moment, it doesn’t look like there are.  If not, there is little hope for the future of this country.




The Trump administration and Senate Republicans continue to ignore any information that shows how grave the climate crisis has become.  And because of this, most media outlets ignore the information too.  EcoWatch provides us with some grave information on one aspect of this crisis, namely the melting of Greenland’s ice sheet and the deadly ramifications for our future: “The rate that Greenland‘s ice sheet is melting surpassed scientists’ expectations and has raised concerns that their worst-case scenario predictions are coming true, Business Insider reported.  A new study published in the journal Nature from a team of scientists at NASA and the European Space Agency looked at satellite imagery from 1992 to 2018 from 26 independent data sets.  The images revealed a massive amount of ice loss that is picking up steam as time goes on.  In fact, the researchers found that Greenland has lost 3.8 trillion tons of ice over the 26-year period studied.

“In the 90s, Greenland lost an average of 25 billions of ice per year. That number has picked up to an annual average loss of 234 billion tons per year.  The study finds that the acceleration in melting will mean a three to five-inch rise in global sea levels by 2100, which is in line with the worst-case scenarios set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC).  That rate will mean 400 million people will be at risk of flooding every year, instead of the 360 million that the IPCC’s main prediction forecasted, as The Guardian reported.” (Jordan Davidson, EcoWatch, December 11, 2019)

Obviously, reduction of Greenland’s ice is only one aspect of this critical issue.  People’s Action gives us the overview: “U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres isn’t mincing words when it comes to issuing a dire warning about the global climate crisis, saying that the effort to stop climate change has been ‘utterly inadequate.’  Speaking on the eve of a two-week international climate conference in Madrid, Guterres warned that the effects of climate change were already being felt.  ‘The point of no return is no longer over the horizon,’ Guterres said.  ‘It is in sight and hurtling toward us.’  Although there is enough expertise and knowledge to limit global warming, ‘what is lacking is political will,’ Guterres said.  In order to combat the crisis, ‘Our war against nature must stop,’ he added.  And that involves changing the old ways of doing things.  ‘We simply have to stop digging and drilling and take advantage of the vast possibilities offered by renewable energy and nature-based solutions,’ he said.  Delegates from around the world will be meeting in Madrid until Dec. 13 to try to agree on rules for implementing the 2015 Paris climate accord.  So far the cuts in emissions that have been agreed to are not enough to meet the goal of limiting temperature rises to between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius (2.7-3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.  Even though some 70 countries have agreed to stop emitting greenhouse gases by 2050, there is a lack of commitment form some of the biggest offenders.  ‘We also see clearly that the world’s largest emitters are not pulling their weight.  And without them, our goal is unreachable,’ he said.” (Lindsay Koshgarian, People’s Action, December 2, 2019) Republicans have buried their heads in the sand on climate change.  But they don’t have any right whatever to force our heads in with them.

The White House, the Republican party, and big polluters all want to keep the public in the dark about climate change.  To do this, they manufacturer “evidence,” deny scientific reports, and persist in perpetrating lies that contradict the facts.  Climate Hawks Vote has an excellent article that tells us their strategies: “If a new rule by Donald Trump’s industry-friendly EPA stays in effect, the public’s ability to shine a light on the Trump administration’s backdoor dealings with Big Oil and polluters could remain in the dark.  Climate deniers and industry insiders packed into the EPA are fighting to keep public records secret in order to gut environmental protections and enrich the industries that are destroying communities and exacerbating the climate crisis.

“New bipartisan legislation in the Senate called the Open and Responsive Government Act of 2019, S. 2220, would safeguard Freedom of Information Act requests and ensure the public’s right to information.  We must build public support for this legislation to protect our right to know and expose the corruption in the Trump administration.
Thanks in part to intrepid journalists and public interest organizations armed with FOIA requests, we know that Trump has packed his administration with climate deniers and oil lobbyists, handed public lands over to extractive industries, scrubbed climate information from public websites, and is waging a war on science.  In fact, FOIA requests played a significant role in the downfall of former disgraced EPA administrator Scott Pruitt.  It’s FOIA requests that show the ongoing (and illegal) connection between Assistant Secretary of the Interior Doug Domenech and the Koch-funded Texas Public Policy Foundation.

“But Trump’s new rule, signed by Andrew Wheeler, current EPA Administrator (and don’t ever forget that he was a coal lobbyist), without any public input, would allow a wide range of political appointees at the agency—many of whom are industry insiders—to deny requests for public information.  The rule would let them keep their secret deals with the fossil fuel industry away from public scrutiny.  The rule comes on the heels of a Supreme Court decision that overturned more than 40 years of FOIA precedent to rule in favor of corporate secrecy over the public’s right to know.  This legislation seeks to undo that decision as well.  With corporate shills filling the Trump administration and Supreme Court, the Open and Responsive Government Act will start to put the public’s interest ahead of corporate interests.” (RL Miller, Climate Hawks Vote, August 6, 2019)

The Act is, not surprisingly, stalled in the Senate, along with countless other bills Mitch McConnell refuses to bring up.

Oil companies, like their Republican lackeys, are utterly shameless in lying to the public.  Environmental Action reports: “Months ago news broke that an oil rig has been leaking oil into the Gulf of Mexico for the past 14 years.  Now, a new study estimates that the rig is leaking 4,500 gallons of oil a day—not the three or four gallons that the owner claimed.  Taylor Energy Co. has been fighting a federal order to stop the leak.” (Environmental Action, July 22, 2019) Why would Taylor not want to do the right thing and clean up their own disastrous mess?  Are their actions (or failures to act) typical of the polluting industry?  Sadly the answer seems to be an overwhelming yes.

2019 has seen a lot of record-breaking temperatures all over the globe.  Climate Hawks Vote tells us what this means for global warming: “July 2019 was the hottest July ever—the hottest month ever, since human record keeping began.  That’s an overall, global record.  But we’re also seeing freakishly hot spots—first France, where it hit 115 degrees Fahrenheit; then Greenland; and now Alaska.

“What happens in the far north doesn’t stay up there.  Greenland’s ice sheet melted and poured 197 billion tons of water into the Atlantic Ocean.  That’s enough water to cover the entire state of Florida five inches deep in water.  It’s so extreme that the peat forests along Greenland’s shorelines are burning—and burning peat releases long-ago-sequestered carbon into the atmosphere.  I’m genuinely shocked, not to mention scared and angry.  The fossil fuel companies are running an uncontrolled experiment on all of us.  And it’s killing people.  Meanwhile, Alaska’s sea ice has completely melted away—there is no sea ice within 150 miles of the shoreline.  None.  Last month, the seas around much of Alaska, the Beaufort and Chukchi seas (where Trump wants to drill), were some 9 or 10 degrees Fahrenheit above average.  And, as climate hawks know, the Arctic is becoming a vicious cycle.  White reflective sea ice reflects heat, but darker ocean absorbs more heat, which warms more water, which melts more ice, lather, rinse, repeat.

“We have solutions to this—wind, solar, clean renewable energy. What we don’t have is the political will—the budget, the vision, the desire—to implement them on a national scale.  And the only way we get there is through changing the Senate, in particular.” (RL Miller, Climate Hawks Vote, August 7, 2019)

The Trump administration’s reckless determination to destroy the environment assumes many forms.  CREDO Action discusses the threat to the Tongass National Forest: “The Tongass National Forest is the world’s largest temperate rainforest.  This means that Tongass takes in an estimated 10–12% of carbon of all of America’s national forests and plays a critical role as Alaska’s first line of climate change defense.  In addition, the Tongass is home to local indigenous people, including the Tlingit and Haida, who have lived in this region for centuries and rely on the forest’s healthy natural resources for survival.  Right now, the Tongass is protected by the ‘roadless rule,’ a critical moratorium enacted nearly two decades ago that blocks much-needed road building to access the millions of acres of old growth forests in the Tongass.  But with dangerous, greedy climate change deniers occupying the White House and consolidating power in the administration, it’s no surprise that these important protections are now on the chopping block.  Trump’s policy would give mining and gas companies the power to plow through the Tongass, devastating not only Alaska’s environment, but also our nation.” (Jelani Drew, CREDO Action, November 2, 2019)

This same year, Trump gutted the Endangered Species Act, a disastrous move for wildlife already threatened with extinction.  Animals lives will be weighed against the “economic impact.”  In other words, the oil and gas companies desire to make even greater profits will outweigh saving a species from extinction.  Where does it stop?

The danger posed to wildlife is extremely serious; countless animal species will become extinct in a short period of time unless positive action is taken.  It goes without saying that this doesn’t concern Republicans in the least.  As bad as Ryan Zinke was (I have written extensively about him in previous articles), his successor, David Bernhardt, is even worse.  Once he was appointed Secretary of the Interior, he set to work engineering the largest rollback of endangered species  protections in history.  His reason for this should be obvious, namely to give oil companies and other corporate polluters the green light to destroy wildlife habitats.  In November, 2019, the Department gave the Wetlands Water District a permanent contract that gives them huge quantities of water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.  This delta and estuary is home to many endangered species.

Save Animals Facing Extinction provides some stark numbers: “It’s estimated that 30,000 endangered species are driven to extinction.  One in every five plants and animals in the United States is considered endangered.  The Trump administration is planning on weakening protections in the Endangered Species Act.  Because of this, more than 1,650 precious animals will be pushed to the brink of extinction.” (Save Animals Facing Extinction, October 31, 2019)

Here is one example, as provided by Endangered Species Coalition: “Southern resident orcas are one of the most endangered species in the world.  At last count, just 73 orcas remain.  You probably remember last year’s grief-stricken act of mourning and love, when orca mom Tahlequah carried her baby’s lifeless body for an excruciating 17 days.  These sentient, intelligent beings are trying desperately to tell us to act: to act to stop the pollution that is killing them, to act to keep our ships and boats from harming them, and most of all to finally act to stop causing their gruesome and preventable starvation.  Their primary food source, salmon, are themselves endangered due to four outdated and unnecessary dams that block their migration to their spawning grounds.  The solution to saving salmon and saving the southern resident orcas is simple: these dams must come down.” (Leda Huta, Endangered Species Coalition, October 21, 2019) It goes without saying that none of this will have any effect on Donald Trump and the Republican Party.  As they do with any news reports they don’t like, they will just brush it off as a “lie of the left.”

Here is another example of an endangered animal: “Right now, all three species of elephants—Asian, African forest, and African savannah—are listed as Endangered and Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.  The threat to the future of these majestic giants is very real. WCS-led research showed that between 2002 and 2013, the Central African forest elephant population dropped 65% and its habitat range shrank by 30%.  That’s just over ten years.  And some populations of savannah elephants have suffered similar major losses.” (Wildlife Conservation Society, October 11, 2019) Poaching is one of the major reasons these animals are becoming fewer and fewer.  Poaching and hunting for trophies must be addressed by all governments if this trend is to be reversed.

Environmental Action provides more information on the threat to wildlife and the role global warming is playing in their extinction: “More than half a million species are at risk of extinction.  Habitat deforestation, fragmentation and degradation are among the main threats to wildlife. Unless their habitats are restored, species will continue to vanish at unprecedented rates—many within coming decades.  That’s why we’re working to pass the Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act, a bipartisan bill which will designate and maintain wildlife corridors across the country.  This bill will link fragmented wildlife areas, creating enlarged habitats for vulnerable species.

“Wildlife corridors have been successful in supporting safe seasonal migration and increasing access to food sources.  In the Red Desert, wildlife corridors support the longest mule deer migration in the United States—allowing the species to survive Wyoming’s long, harsh winters.

In Canada’s Banff National Park, a system of wildlife corridors connect habitats separated by a major highway.  Red foxes, grizzly bears, boreal toads and more have used the corridors to migrate with changing seasons, find mates and scout for food and shelter.   The Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act has bipartisan support in the U.S. House of Representatives, but we’ll need your help passing it through the Senate.  “Thousands of species—including pronghorn antelope, panthers, moose, monarch butterflies and more—depend on migration for survival.  Wildlife corridors are crucial to the safe and free movement of species between habitats.  As the planet warms and habitats are continually disrupted by human activity, the number in need of corridors to move to cooler climates and find food sources will increase. (Environmental Action, October 11, 2019)

There is some hope in that many people are waking up to the fact that so many animal species face extinction and are doing something about it.  People’s Action tells us: “Seventeen states on Wednesday sued the President Donald Trump administration over its recent move ‘to eviscerate’ the Endangered Species Act.  ‘As we face the unprecedented threat of a climate emergency, now is the time to strengthen our planet’s biodiversity, not to destroy it,’ said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who’s leading the coalition.  ‘The only thing we want to see extinct are the beastly policies of the Trump Administration putting our ecosystems in critical danger.’  The suit (pdf), brought by 17 states and the District of Columbia and the City of New York, was filed in the District Court for the Northern District of California.  It comes a month after the administration finalized a series of rollbacks to the law—a move Mass Audubon president Gary Clayton called ‘another example of the Trump administration’s continuing war on the nature of America.’” (Sam Pizzigati, People’s Action, September 26, 2019)

To cite one of countless oil “spills” (“spill” is the word always used; the idea is to make it sound like a minor kitchen accident rather than an ecological disaster) TransCanada’s Keystone pipeline “spilled” over 380,000 gallons of tar sands and other toxic pollutants into North Dakota wetlands on October 30, 2019.  This was the 21st such spill since 2010, but that won’t stop Senate Republicans from supporting further construction.

In previous articles, I have drawn attention to the horrible situation in Flint Michigan, whose citizens have been trying to get their politicians to act and restore their clean water.  The situation has not changed, as When Democrats Turn Out makes clear: “Flint, Michigan has been without clean water for 5 years now, and it is one of our country’s clearest examples of environmental racism.  Officials switched the city’s water source to the polluted Flint River in a cost-saving bid, exposing the residents to dangerously high levels of lead and microbial bacteria that sickened them.  People died from the Legionnaires’ disease they were exposed to, and the full effects of lead poisoning on the people—especially Flint’s children—are still being determined.  Because the population of Flint is majority black, and more than 40% of them are below the poverty line, their pleas for relief have thus far gone largely unanswered, causing many to choose between buying costly bottled water or risking the tap water.” (When Democrats Turn Out, July 27, 2019) I will be discussing the role racism plays in Republican policies in a later chapter.

Sierra Club illustrates the hazards of another pipeline: “You might not know about the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) yet but you need to.  The MVP would pump fracked gas 303 miles through West Virginia and Virginia, and now the company behind it is scheming to get approval for a 70-mile extension into central North Carolina.  MVP has already proven to be reckless with over 300 violations of commonsense water protections in addition to destroying woodlands and seizing private property in West Virginia and Virginia.  Despite this horrible track record and the fact they’re being sued by Virginia’s Attorney General, they now want to make it longer and drag the MVP into North Carolina!  We know there’s no safe way to build the MVP.  This extension would devastate over 1,300 acres of land, destroying sensitive habitat for over 20 endangered and threatened species.” (Joan Walker, Sierra Club, August 28, 2019)

Across the USA, countless communities are fighting to reduce contaminants in the air, land, and drinking water.  Sierra Club discusses another endangered community: “Cathi Murray is a longtime resident of Pines, Indiana, home to a Superfund site with contaminated water.  She’s holding a photo of the coal plant that creates huge coal ash piles, which leak contaminants into Pines’ water that Cathi and her neighbors rely on.  Now, Trump’s EPA wants to roll back protections for communities affected by coal ash hazards.  Pollution from the coal-fired power plant near Pines, Indiana has contaminated the air, water and soil around Cathi Murray’s home.  This has been a long-fought problem for Cathi’s community and countless others across the country. 

“This week, Cathi, joined dozens of other activists from around the country in Washington, D.C. to testify at the EPA’s sole hearing on the agency’s dangerous proposal to erase critical safeguards for coal ash disposal.  The EPA’s proposal seeks to roll back current safeguards that place restrictions on unsafe coal ash piles—mountainous heaps of toxic waste—that jeopardize our health and environment.  It would also permit coal ash to be used for construction projects, like in Pines, without rules to keep the waste from leaking into water or polluting the air.  Together, these rollbacks jeopardize the safety of our communities and families, and it must be stopped.  As Cathi said at this week’s hearing, ‘As adults, we must lead by example so our younger generations understand that when we protect our environment, we help to ensure a better quality of life for ourselves and future generations.’ (Jonathan Levenshus, Sierra Club, October 6, 2019)

If an individual poisoned my food or water, they would be subject to trial and imprisonment.  But if big business does it, it’s somehow OK, and complains are ignored.  Yet the same Republicans who insist that corporations are people somehow don’t want these “people” to be responsible for poisoning everyone else. reports on another disaster that provides further evidence of the dangers imposed by the fossil fuel industry: “A massive fuel tank storage facility exploded and caught on fire in the Bay Area refinery corridor Tuesday afternoon.  As the first tank exploded, residents experienced a loud booming sound that shook some of their windows.  A blend of toxins including ethanol smoke began to billow up, filling the skies throughout the region.  A mandatory shelter-in-place order was given to residents living near the NuStar tank farm, many of whom reported a sickening odor throughout their homes.  Even the nearby town of Tormey was evacuated.   45 minutes.  That’s a conservative estimate of the time it took for the Shelter In Place alarms to sound after the first explosion.  This is a significant delay for such a severe situation.  Now we await the 72 hr report, 30 day report and root cause report.  As of this moment, there is no order to inspect refineries after an earthquake, and many speculate that both a tank farm failure and prior earthquake could have led to the explosion.  Once these reports are produced, they’ll be met with our questions.

“The foam used to snuff out the blazing ethanol fires is called AFFF, and is known to contain carcinogens and can be highly toxic.  Journalists on the ground reported that the fire department used so much foam, they had to order more before they ran out.  At this point we can only imagine what chemicals are in that foam and if there is a clean up plan in place.  At a time when we should be phasing out fossil fuel production, we’re seeing current infrastructure failing, weak emergency responses and permit requests for further expansions.  The Phillips 66 refinery sits next door to the NuStar tank farm, and has a direct line that moves oil between the Phillips 66 Shelby wharf and NuStar’s tanks.  Oil giant Phillips 66 wants to dramatically expand operations at its San Francisco Bay marine terminal and refinery so it can process more toxic tar sands from Canada.  This would threaten worker safety, degrade our climate, and worsen the quality of life for everyone living in the shadow of the Phillips 66 refinery—and the entire Bay Area.” (Mary Zieser,, October 19, 2019)

A brief quote from Daily Kos is in order here: “For decades, Big Polluters like Exxon, Shell, and others have known that their products are fueling disastrous climate change.  Despite this, they’ve spent billions of dollars to manufacture doubt and denial about the causes of climate change, discredit science, buy political influence, and delay action.” (Erin Tulley, Daily Kos, November 7, 2019) The world can no longer afford this nonsense.  It’s time for these corporations to be held accountable and for their workers to find another job.

People’s Action informs us of the latest United Nations report on the climate threat: “A new United Nations report paints a bleak picture: The commitments countries pledged to limit the climate crisis are nowhere near enough to stave off record-high temperatures.  Delaying change any further will make it impossible to reach desired temperature goals.  The time for ‘rapid and transformational’ change to limit global warming is now, the report says.  The UN Environment Program (UNEP) 2019 Emissions Gap report calls on countries to strengthen the commitments made in the 2015 Paris Agreement to stall climate change.  Current measures will not keep global temperature increases within the 1.5-to-2-degree Celsius range (a ‘safe’ level to which temperatures can rise and not cause devastation, though 1.5 degrees is preferable), according to the report issued Tuesday.  Greenhouse gases reached a record high in 2018 with no sign of peaking, according to a World Meteorological Organization report released Monday.  Carbon dioxide levels reached 407.8 parts per million, a unit used to measure the level of a contaminant in the air.  At the current rate, temperatures are expected to rise 3.2 degrees Celsius (5.8 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100, the UNEP report states.  The changes the UNEP suggests are extreme: To get Earth back on track to the 1.5-degree goal, countries must multiply their commitment level, or the level at which they pledge to reduce their emissions, five times the current rates outlined in the Paris accords.  That means global greenhouse gas emissions must fall at least 7.6% every year to remove 32 gigatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.  Incremental change is no longer enough to stall off the potentially devastating effects of a changing climate, the report’s authors write.  What the world needs now, they say, is ‘rapid and transformational action.’” (Tim Conway, People’s Action, November 26, 2019)

Corporate Accountability is also on the frontlines leading a global effort to address the climate crisis.  Their Deputy Campaigns Director attended the U.N. Climate Talks in Madrid.  Here is his report: “Yesterday, I stood in a loading dock outside the U.N. climate talks in Madrid, and watched as a huge metal door slowly lowered to lock me and hundreds of other people out.  We—climate justice advocates, scientists, youth, women, indigenous leaders, and NGO representatives from all over the world—had come together in peaceful protest to sound the alarm, with one voice: The COP25 negotiations are dangerously off track. People’s lives and our planet are in peril.  Global North countries must #StepUpPayUp.  Instead of listening to our demands, they pushed us out. Big Polluters stayed in.  The exact opposite of what people like you have demanded for years.  The exact opposite of what the world most needs right now for climate justice.  

“Late last night, the U.N. agreed we would be let back in.  But the likes of the U.S., EU, Australia, and Canada are still not listening.  They’re bullying developing countries.  And they’re advancing the interests of Big Polluters over people.  We need to make sure they hear our demands loud and clear. 
“Here’s why we had to act yesterday:
“Obstructionist governments like the EU, Canada, and Australia are siding with bullies like the U.S. and Big Polluters, trying to ram through measures that would effectively sink the Paris Agreement.
“Yes, you read that right.  These countries are pushing such terrible rules for implementing the Paris Agreement, that they could be worse than no Paris Agreement at all. Here’s how:  1) They’re proposing to create a largely unregulated market free-for-all where polluters can keep extracting, polluting, and poisoning communities with little regulation or accountability, while buying ineffective and unjust offsets around the world.  2) They’re refusing to pay up for loss & damage for countries who’ve done little to cause the climate crisis but are already paying the price.  3) They’re trying to advance policy that stands to protect polluters from being held liable for the damage they’ve caused.

“Make no mistake: The Paris Agreement was already nowhere near strong enough.  And this would sink the Paris Agreement.  And, despite Trump’s recent announcement of official withdrawal, the U.S. is the ringleader.  It’s trying to sink the ship even as it’s jumping overboard. Governments like the EU, Canada, and Australia are following its lead.  And it’s all to protect the interests of the biggest, most polluting corporations on the planet.” (Sriram Madhusoodanan, Corporate Accountability, December 12, 2019)

Madhusoodanan’s report indicates what we are up against, not just here in the United States, but across the globe.  The polluters will continue on their path of destruction until there is nothing left for them to destroy.  To cite one example, methane has 86 times the warming power as carbon dioxide, so common sense should tell us that reducing these emissions is essential.  Yet Trump’s administration is ignoring the danger and moving forward with a proposed rollback of rules that limit methane pollution.

The issue of plastics has gotten widespread attention of late, and deservedly so.  Environment America tells of the dangers plastic poses to the environment: “It is raining plastic.”  That wasn’t the title that a group of U.S. Geological Survey scientists had in mind for their study when they started analyzing rainwater samples in the Rocky Mountains—they were there to study nitrogen pollution.  But when they published their findings, it was the title that fit.  Multicolored plastic particles, called microplastics, showed up in more than 90 percent of rainwater samples.  And that was just in the Rockies.  Other studies have found microplastics everywhere from the depths of the ocean, to the Bavarian Alps, to the remote reaches of the Arctic.  More than 8 million tons of plastic get thrown away every year.  But there’s really no such thing as ‘away.’ Plastics never fully degrade—they just break down into particles that stay in our environment forever, harming wildlife around the world.  Marine wildlife are hit especially hard.  Far too often, dead whales wash ashore with pounds and pounds of plastic in their stomachs.  Research has found plastic in 43 percent of all marine mammal species, 44 percent of seabird species, and 86 percent of all sea turtle species.   It’s nothing short of a plastic waste crisis.  To solve it, the first step is to stop making it worse.  It’s time to rethink our relationship with plastic, and we can start by ending our reliance on single-use plastic items we use for a few minutes and then throw away.” (Ed Johnson, Environment America, September 15, 2019)

Trump has also opened up the Arctic Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.  People’s Action reports: “The Trump administration is finalizing plans to allow oil and gas drilling in a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that has been protected for decades.  The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will offer leases on essentially the entire 1.6m-acre coastal plain, which includes places where threatened polar bears have dens and porcupine caribou visit for calving.  Drilling operations are expected to be problematic for Indigenous populations, many of which rely on subsistence hunting and fishing.  The Democrat-controlled House just hours earlier passed legislation to protect the area, but Republicans in the majority in the Senate are highly unlikely to approve the bill.  The Alaska Wilderness League’s executive director Adam Kolton said that ‘to no one’s surprise, the administration chose the most aggressive leasing alternative, not even pretending that this is about restraint or meaningful protection.’  ‘With an eye on developing the entirety of the fragile coastal plain, the administration has been riding roughshod over science, silencing dissent and shutting out entire Indigenous communities,’ Kolton said.  The environmentally-sensitive area of Alaska’s Arctic was forbidden for drilling until a change by Congress in an unrelated 2017 tax bill, which Kolton called a ‘sham of a vote.’” (Sam Pizzigati, People’s Action, September 13, 2019)

Unfortunately, there are some Democrats that are just as beholden to corporate America as are the Republicans.  Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee,is one of them.  CREDO Action discusses his failure to the party and to the country: “In the last few months, thousands of CREDO members joined together in demanding a real climate debate.  Now that the DNC’s summer meeting is over, we wanted to let you know what happened and what’s next.  Last Saturday, DNC Chair Tom Perez strong-armed DNC members and ignored the democratic process of the DNC’s Resolutions Committee to kill our chance at having a real presidential debate on the climate crisis.

When he killed the climate debate, Perez was turning his back on months of organizing from some of the leaders in the climate movement.   Along with our friends at Sunrise Movement,, and Friends of the Earth, we gathered and delivered over 200,000 petition signatures.  CREDO members made thousands of calls to DNC members demanding a climate debate.  Sunrise even organized direct action sit-ins at the DNC.  Tom Perez chose to ignore our demands and 40 Democratic Parties at the state and county levels that passed resolutions urging the DNC to make sure climate issues got the air time they deserved.  Perez made it crystal clear that he cares more about his political future than the future of our communities and planet.  We need to hold him accountable.  The DNC’s decision to not have a climate debate is a reflection of Tom Perez’ failed leadership.  Corporate Democrats like him may have won this battle, but the fight to make the climate a priority for every Democratic presidential candidate is far from over.” (Jelani Drew, CREDO Action, August 28, 2019) With Democrats like Perez, who needs Republicans?

CREDO Action discusses other villains in the climate crisis: “Thirty-three banks worldwide have been funneling nearly $1.9 trillion into the fossil fuel industry since 2016.  And U.S.-based banks JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Citi are the top fossil fuel investors in the world.  These banks are literally profiting off the death and destruction of our people and planet.  Fossil fuel production has surged over the past few years thanks to big oil and gas companies tightening their reins on U.S. politicians.  In 2018, lobbying for oil and gas reached an all-time high of $124 million—all spent getting our elected officials to act against our best interests and scientists’ warnings that we need to cut out fossil fuels right now to avert a climate disaster.  

“Banks who put money into fossil fuels are only stoking the fire.  And worse, they are hypocrites who claim to care about the climate crisis.  Recently, Wells Fargo committed to $200 billion in financing for projects that are focused on the low-carbon economy.  And in 2017, the bank invested $12 billion in sustainable businesses.  Citi and Chase have all made similar commitments, but continue to invest up to four times more in fossil fuel than sustainable energy businesses.  Fossil fuels are non-renewable and economically unstable.  In fact, with the shift in societal thinking around climate, it’s becoming harder for the industry to make money.  Without the support of banks, the fossil fuel industry would collapse.  Banks can set the speed of how we take on climate change. We must use our power to force U.S. based banks like Wells Fargo, Citi, and Chase to do better for our Earth and divest from fossil fuels. (Jelani Drew, CREDO Action, September 8, 2019)

The climate crisis is not just a national emergency, it is a world emergency, and too many world leaders are ignoring the issue—to everyone’s detriment.  The media, as might be expected, is extremely reluctant to report anything that might be construed as hostility to the status quo—meaning big business and the Republican party.  The summer of 2019 witnessed some of the worst man-made wildfires that have decimated the Amazon rainforest.  The media’s response was half-hearted at best.  CREDO Action explains: “Catastrophic, man-made wildfires are raging in the Amazon rainforest, the lungs of our Earth.  It’s another massive climate emergency that the mainstream corporate media is ignoring.  Scientists say that if these fires continue, they will speed up the climate crisis.  This destruction is being fueled partly by American investment firms that care more about their profits than the planet.  That gives Americans the opportunity and responsibility to act.  But Americans won’t even know there is a crisis if news media outlets fail to provide appropriate coverage.  We need to demand that traditional media do better and start covering the Brazilian Amazon rainforest news now.  

“The Brazilian Amazon is home to 300 different groups of indigenous people and millions of plant and animal species and takes in most of the world’s carbon.  But Brazil’s, far-right, pro-business president has cut funding to environmental agencies, encouraged deforestation and turned away millions of dollars of aid for wildfire help.  

“Meanwhile, traditional media is largely ignoring the issue.  Indigenous people of the Amazon have been organizing, resisting and sounding the alarm about rainforest destruction for years.  But the media has time and time again chosen sensationalism over coverage of issues that affect all of us and center Black and Brown people.  The Notre Dame cathedral fire had over 350 media segments in just the first week of coverage.  Our friends at Media Matters for America found that the Amazon fires got only 25 mediocre segments, and not until weeks later.  That’s 93% less coverage for a planet-wide crisis than for one historic building.  Media outlets are doing the world a disservice by ignoring the severity of the situation in Brazil.  They should not be allowed to determine who or what is good enough to get coverage.” (Jelani Drew, CREDO Action, August 29, 2019)

Calling the Amazon Rainforest the lungs of the planet is not an exaggeration, as it provides 20 percent of the oxygen to the world.  Scientists know this, even if Republicans do not.  Scientists have estimated that it would take ten million years to replace the level of biodiversity if we lost it.  Team AOC tells us how the world’s governments are dealing with this: “On the brink of such a catastrophe, we’d expect a forceful response from the seven most powerful nations on earth, right?  We didn’t get one.  They’re sending $20 million in aid—total, not each.  For context, we’ve already spent $100 million on Trump’s golf visits.  We spend over $26 billion each year to prop up fossil fuel companies, and that’s just direct spending.  The United States is set to spend $693 billion on defense just in 2019.  Leaders like Trump and Bolsonaro have evolved past the stage of being climate deniers—they’re officially catastrophe enablers.  It’s not just their refusal to take powerful action on climate change that’s the issue, but their insistence on choices that accelerate us towards Armageddon.” (Team AOC, August 28, 2019)

What does it say about a country that pays five times more for its president’s golf games than it does to protect the lungs of the planet?

Jair Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil, is oblivious to the fires raging in the Amazon rainforest.  As impossible as it may seem, Brazil rejected the aid package, as People’s Action reports: “Brazil’s government has said it will reject an offer of aid worth millions of dollars from G7 countries to help fight raging fires in the Amazon rainforest.  French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday during a G7 summit in Biarritz that the group—comprising the US, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Britain and Canada—would donate $22m to help tackle the blazes.  Britain and Canada also pledged $12m and $11m of separate aid respectively.  Macron said the funds would be made available immediately and that France would also offer military support in the region.  Brazilian officials gave no official reason for rejecting the group’s offer, while it was not immediately clear if Britain and Canada’s offers of aid had also been declined, but President Jair Bolsonaro had earlier accused Macron of treating Brazil like a colony.” (Tom Conway, People’s Action, August 27, 2019)

“Let it burn,” Brazil seems to be saying.  I will have much to say on this idea in my chapter entitled: “Religion and the New Nihilism.”



If there is one thing dictators hate, it’s anything that stands in their way.  Even though they are loath to admit it, the U.S. Constitution stands in their way of creating a totalitarian regime in which they are the sole, unquestioned rulers.  One crystal clear example of this is seen in the effort to call for a new “convention” to “amend” the Constitution.  Common Cause sent me an email that provides us with all the gory details: “Jon, I want you to know who just got put in charge of the dangerous, right-wing plot to call a disastrous Article V convention to amend the U.S. Constitution.  It’s none other than Scott Walker—the former Wisconsin Governor who has gained a national reputation for siding with corporate power and against ordinary Americans.  It’s worrying (and telling) that Walker has chosen an Article V convention as the best way to amend the U.S. Constitution—and force through his far-right, anti-worker agenda.  After all, right-wing billionaires like the Kochs and the Mercers (of Breitbart and Cambridge Analytica infamy) and corporate lobby groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have already signed onto this effort to shred our constitutional rights.  Their agenda is clear and shocking.  Strip First Amendment protections.  Gut environmental regulations.  Roll back civil rights advances.  And enshrine far-right wing economics as permanent fiscal policy—that will gut Medicare, Medicaid, and other safety-net programs.  The progress they’ve already made should worry every American.  If just six more states call for a convention, they’ll have the two-thirds supermajority needed to throw our entire constitutional system into chaos. That’s right: just six more states.  And with Walker now at the helm, even more conservative mega-donors will surely open their checkbooks to help take this sinister effort over the top.” (Common Cause, December 28, 2019)

One thing is perfectly clear: The Constitution stands in the way of what Trump wants to do.  Just about everything that our founders promulgated more than two centuries ago is ignored by him and the right-wingers currently in power.  USA Today ran an excellent article on just how Trump is systematically destroying the Constitution: “…while there’s a madness to Trump’s method, there’s a method nonetheless.  It’s the final act in the corruption of the Republican Party.  Trump stood in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue and shot the Constitution, and now he’s daring Republicans to call him on it.  If they will not, he knows he will own them forever, no matter what he might do in the future.

“His shamelessness has removed all ambiguity and shredded the usual fig leaves his supporters use to excuse his actions.  He’s not pretending that he didn’t ask Ukraine to do opposition research for his 2020 campaign.  He revels in it and thinks it’s ‘beautiful.’  He’s not pretending that foreign governments aren’t pouring money into his hotels in the hopes of buying some influence with him.  Foreign leaders like Ukrainian President Volodymyr  Zelensky tell him so.  He’s not pretending that he’s not doing his best to steer taxpayer dollars to his company and profit from his office, the very definition of corruption.  He doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with that, and he’s outraged that political pressure forced him to move the summit of the Group of Seven major industrial nations from his Florida resort.  Republicans are now left with a simple choice.  Do they swear eternal fealty to Trump and fully become his creatures, without hope of redemption or reprieve?  Or do they stand up for the rule of law and principles, like the sanctity of U.S. elections, that they espoused until very recently?

“Whatever they may think of his policies, it’s hard to believe that most congressional Republicans are thrilled that their leader is a foul-mouthed troll—and a none-too-bright troll, at that.  Do even the president’s most committed congressional followers really believe that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ‘hates’ America?  That’s the way we used to talk about al-Qaida. (USA Today, October 19, 2019) The only part of this excellent article I would take issue with is the notion that Republicans have ‘stood up for the rule of law and principles’ until ‘recently.’  Their corruption goes back decades, and it’s gotten worse with each passing year.

The Washington Times ran an article echoing similar sentiments about Trump’s disdain for the laws of the land: “Earlier this week, Mr. Trump referred to a clause in the Constitution as ‘phony,’ and he thereby implied that he need not abide it nor enforce it, notwithstanding his oath…Who knows what he meant by phony?  The clause is in the Constitution and it means what it says.  Yet, whatever Mr. Trump meant by phony, it constituted at least a disparagement of the Constitution he has sworn to uphold and at worst a threat to ignore clauses he can disparage.  This is most unusual and potentially dangerous, and it raises the question: Can the president lawfully enforce only the clauses of the Constitution with which he agrees and ignore those with which he disagrees?  In a word: No.” (Andrew P. Napolitano, The Washington Times, October 23, 2019) Legally, the writer is correct: No president can ignore any part of the Constitution he doesn’t like.  In practice, however, Trump has done exactly that, and his enablers are looking the other way.

The New York Daily News tells of another article of the Constitution Trump has violated: “As evidence of a quid pro quo builds on Capitol Hill, the Democrats are talking more about bribery.  If President Trump demanded favors from Ukraine in return for military and diplomatic support, they argue, he engaged in a form of bribery and must therefore go.

“There’s a good reason to make this argument: Bribery is one of two specific crimes mentioned in Article II, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution as grounds for removing a President. (The other is treason, which is virtually impossible to prove in U.S. law.) Otherwise, the Democrats would have to use the more nebulous category of ‘high Crimes and Misdemeanors.’
“Yet bribery is also hard to prove here.  Where can we draw the line between legitimate bargaining and nefarious quid pro quos?  How can we distinguish a president’s due skepticism about a foreign government from criminal pressure upon that government?  And as the not-ready-for-primetime Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) yelled at Wednesday’s hearings, Trump never actually received anything, whereas Ukraine did.  No quid, no pro, no bribery. 
“There’s a simpler and more solid ground for impeachment.  It comes from the preceding section of the Constitution, which requires the president to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”
“Article II, Section 3 is no throwaway line. It is the very essence of executive authority, the standing order to every President during every day of his tenure.  Read in context with Article I, the Framers’ clear intent was for Congress to make the laws, and for the President to make them happen.  The executive’s special power to devise treaties, receive ambassadors and appoint judges does not change this basic framework. Nor does the expansion of presidential authority in recent U.S. history.

“Presidents must respect Article II, Section 3. Period, full stop. Trump has not done so.” (Jason Opal, New York Daily News, November 22, 2019)

The facts are crystal clear: Trump thinks he is above the laws of the land.  This is the thinking of a dictator.  He must be removed from office; the Constitution demands it.  Common sense demands it.



One irrefutable fact that has emerged in the Trump years is the rise in hate crimes and the resurgence of hate groups all across the United States.  I have explored this in considerable detail in my earlier articles and need not repeat them here; here, I will provide other examples of America’s continuing slide toward barbarism.  This is obviously not the place to list all of the travesties that have occurred against minorities, but Daily Kos provides us with one example that fairly typifies America under Trump: “A man from Florida has been arrested and charged with a felony count of assault after attacking a 65-year-old Jewish man in New York City.  The assault has been labeled a hate crime because the alleged assailant, 28-year-old Steven Jorge, was said to have yelled an anti-Semitic comment before punching the man Monday morning, Spectrum News NY 1 reported.” (Daily Kos, December 26, 2019)

Of course, racism against Jews goes back to ancient times, but today’s racists have many other targets, including blacks, women and the LGBTQ community.

The non-stop attacks on Barack Obama and the indifference to Russian interference in our elections indicate that right-wing Republicans would rather see the United States run by a foreign dictator than by a democratically elected black man.  Indeed, many of them have already immersed themselves in Russian affairs and seem to have no problem whatever as Russian leaders increasingly involve themselves in our affairs.

The alt-right is stronger than ever.  The Anti-Defamation League has an excellent description of these people, noting that ‘alt-right’ is a “vague term actually encompass[ing] a range of people on the extreme right who reject mainstream conservatism in favor of forms of conservatism that embrace implicit or explicit racism or white supremacy.”  If there is one obvious fact that emerges from studying today’s Republicans, it is that “mainstream” conservatism just does not exist anymore, at least among Republican leaders who are, if not openly part of the alt-right movement, are certainly sympathetic to it and whose actions rarely deviate from alt-right core racist beliefs.  The alt-right’s enemies are also the enemies of the Republican party.

Alt-right is a nicer sounding term than Nazi, neo-nazi, fascist, white supremacist, white nationalist, or any other term with resoundingly racist connotations.  But while the name itself may seem benign, their hatreds certainly are not.  Calling these people ‘alt-right’ is a public relations coup for these extremists in our midst.

The history of the alt-right can be dated to one specific incident that occurred forty years ago.  People’s Action describes this event: “‘Death to the Klan!”  On Saturday, November 3, 1979, that chant swept over Morningside Homes, a mostly black housing project in Greensboro, North Carolina, as dozens of protesters—some donning blue hard hats for protection—hammered placards onto signposts and danced in the morning sun.  What happened next took just 88 seconds, but still reverberates 40 years later.  In a confrontation where white supremacists began firing pistols, rifles and shotguns, and with television cameras rolling but police nowhere to be found, five communists were shot dead in broad daylight.  Ten others were injured, some left to lie bleeding in the streets.  But that November morning became momentous for more than the grotesque video footage that still lives on the Internet:  The Greensboro Massacre, as it became known, was the coming-out bloodbath for the white nationalist movement that is upending our politics today.  Before Greensboro, America’s most lurid extremists largely operated in separate, mutually distrustful spheres.  Greensboro was the place where the farthest-right groups of white supremacy learned to kill together.  After November 3, 1979, it was suddenly possible to imagine Confederate flags flying alongside swastikas in Charlottesville.  Or a teenager like Dylann Roof hoarding Nazi drawings as well as a Klan hood in his bedroom while he plotted mass murder.” (Tim Wilkins, People’s Action, November 4, 2019)

The term ‘alt-right’ only dates from 2008, but those espousing alt-right ideology have made great strides, aided and abetted by increasingly closer connections with the Republican party.  For example, Breitbart News, so popular among right-wingers, has been described as an alt-right website.  After founder Andrew Breitbart’s death in 2012, Steve Bannon took it over and moved it even further right of the political spectrum.  Bannon, of course, served as chief strategist in the first seven months of Donald Trump’s presidency.  Clearly, the alt-rightists have replaced the traditional conservatives in the upper echelons of the Republican party.

Trump has made numerous anti-Semitic remarks in the past, and continues to do so.  On December 7, 2019, he spoke to a Jewish audience at the Israeli American Council in Hollywood, Florida.  His comments hinted that Jews are money hungry and opportunistic, and were interpreted as being anti-semitic by just about everyone present: “A lot of you are in the real estate business cuz I know you very well.  You’re brutal killers, not nice people at all, but you have to vote for (me).  You have no choice.  You’re not going to vote for Pocahontas, I can tell you that.”  By poking fun at Elizabeth Warren’s native ancestry, he managed to offend two minority groups at once.  Jewish leaders were quick to condemn Trump’s comments.  Halie Soifer, the executive director of he Jewish Democratic Council of America, said Trump’s comments were “deeply offensive” to Jews.  He said: “We strongly denounce these vile and bigoted remarks in which the president—once again—used anti-Semitic stereotypes to characterize Jews as driven by money and insufficiently loyal to Israel.  He even had the audacity to suggest that Jews ‘have no choice’ but to support him.”

As unbelievable as it may seem, there are still politicians who openly espouse racist views.  We have already examined Georgia’s attempts to keep minorities from the polls.  Daily Kos fills in the details: “Here’s where I agree with racist Georgia councilman Jim Cleveland, who rose to infamy after proudly articulating his opposition to interracial marriage: There is a stark difference between Atlanta and the rest of Georgia.  While Atlanta may boast a diverse population that’s more than 50% black and headed by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, a black woman, larger Georgia seems to defy the bounds of time, with many residents still harboring a fondness for the Confederacy and the white supremacy that is its hallmark…when Mayor Theresa Kenerly of Hoschton, a city about 50 miles northeast of Atlanta, admitted that she snuffed a black job candidate’s chances because of his race, the aforementioned councilman defended her by admitting he couldn’t stomach seeing blacks with whites together on television, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  ‘Makes my blood boil because that’s just not the way a Christian is supposed to live,’ Cleveland said.  He went on to explain his beliefs: ’I understood where she was coming from,’ Cleveland told the AJC. ‘I understand Theresa saying that, simply because we’re not Atlanta.  Things are different here than they are 50 miles down the road.’” (Lauren Floyd, Daily Kos, December 12, 2019) Notice the reference to how Christians are supposed to live.  Christianity, racism, and hatred: they are intertwined in the mindset of these people.

Just as the fascists of the Nazi era used concentration camps, so the fascists of our time are doing the same.  Daily Kos reports: “The U.S. is hitting plenty of records under the presidency of Donald Trump—and they’re records we should be ashamed of.  An ongoing joint investigation between The Associated Press and the PBS series Frontline on the treatment of migrant children under U.S. watch has found his administration jailed an unprecedented 69,550 kids in the past year.  ‘That’s more children detained away from their parents than any other country, according to United Nations researchers.’  This number is mostly children who have come here alone, as well as kids that officials have stolen from their families, done so with full knowledge that family separation and detention cause long-term harm to children, and done so with the fact that for the first time in years, migrant kids have died under U.S. watch.  ‘Early experiences are literally built into our brains and bodies,’ said Dr. Jack Shonkoff of Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child, and few experiences can be more traumatic for a child than armed agents ripping them out of a guardian’s arms.

“In just one example cited in the investigation, U.S. officials took a three-year-old Honduran toddler from her dad last March—keep in mind the administration has supposedly been blocked from separating families under a June 2018 court order—and put her into a foster home where another child molested her.  ‘As the days passed, she began urinating on herself and seemed unable to eat or drink, a foster parent said in the records,’ the investigation said.  For three weeks, the dad didn’t know where his three-year-old was, kept totally in the dark by officials.  When he finally did get to talk to her on the phone, she was hysterical, and accused him of abandoning her.  ‘I don’t love you Daddy, you left me alone,’ he said the sobbing child told her.

“A separate tally from last month found the U.S. has kidnapped nearly 5,500 children from their families at the border since 2017.  By comparison, ‘in Canada, immigrant children are separated from their parents only as a last resort; 155 were detained in 2018.  In the United Kingdom, 42 migrant children were put in shelters in 2017, according to officials in those countries.’” (Gabe Ortiz, Daily Kos, November 12, 2019)

Racism, while not always out in the open, can be found as an underlying factor in many of this administration’s policies.  CREDO Action provides a stellar example of how the real estate market is being affected by Trump’s actions: “It’s like Donald Trump’s dream policy: In one fell swoop, he gets to help Wall Street while hurting people of color and low-income Americans.  Trump just proposed a new plan for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two mortgage giants that the federal government took over during the financial crisis.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac keep the mortgage market humming by buying mortgages from originators and bundling them together as securities, and they have a mandate to help low-income borrowers.  But now Trump wants to privatize the companies and eliminate any affordable housing requirements in the process.  It’s a move experts warn will hurt low-income buyers, communities of color and rural Americans.  Wall Street hedge funds are behind this gambit.  For the last 10 years, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac functioned just as they did right after Fannie’s creation in the New Deal.  Under federal government ‘conservatorship,’ they were government-controlled enterprises that used their low interest rates to make homes affordable, especially for low-income buyers.  Once the companies recovered from the financial crash, the Obama administration decided to sweep their profits into the federal treasury, helping to fund other important programs.  

“But then, a handful of hedge funds bought a stake in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for pennies on the dollar.  The same funds backed Trump big time in 2016, and sued in federal court to stop the company profits from going to the federal government.  They want Trump to privatize the company, handing the now-lucrative business over to them with no constraints.  Trump’s plan would eliminate affordable housing goals and leave the hedge funds looking for only the most lucrative borrowers to lend to.

“It gets worse.  Conservatives long dreamed of completely eliminating Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and leaving mortgages fully in the hands of Wall Street.  But Trump’s plan would guarantee that the two companies would receive a federal bailout if Wall Street banks crash the economy again.  Trump wants to make sure his hedge fund pals get all the profits and leave the rest of us with all the risk.” (Heidi Hess, CREDO Action, October 5, 2019)

Racism also underlies Trump’s actions on immigration.  When Democrats Turn Out provides us with some of his frightening proposals: “We’ve had revelation after revelation about Trump’s ideas for new, abhorrent immigration policies.  Here are just a few of the highlights:  1) He wanted Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officers to shoot migrants in the legs as they attempted to cross the border.  2) He tried to arm U.S. military forces with bayonets to halt migrants.  3) He suggested digging a moat or trench along the border and filling it with dangerous and poisonous reptiles.  Now, Trump wants to take forced DNA samples from all migrants in custody and add them to a national criminal database—this plays right into his racist, xenophobic rhetoric that everyone crossing the border is a criminal who threatens the American (read: white) way of life.” (When Democrats Turn Out, October 4, 2019)

One particularly racist tweet by Trump must be mentioned, and Public Citizen does a fine job reporting the details: “‘Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.’  That was the message of Donald Trump’s racist tweet yesterday attacking four new progressive women of color members of Congress—U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.  Trump isn’t even saying the only ‘real’ U.S. citizens are people who were born here—after all, three of the four congresswomen were born in the United States. He’s saying the only ‘real’ citizens are white.  A message from the president that is so fundamentally racist, anti-immigrant, exclusionary and, yes, anti-American, demands a response.  And yet, virtually none of the GOP has condemned it.

“Let’s stipulate that deeds matter more than words and that we must continue to fight against the spate of racist and anti-immigrant policies from this administration.  But words matter, too, especially from the president of the United States, and it’s important to consider and challenge the vileness of Trump’s remarks.  First, a vicious anti-immigrant, xenophobia defines this statement.  There is a lot of cruelty wrapped up in Trump’s short statement—the idea that immigrants should ‘go back’ if they don’t like America, the obliviousness to the dangers in some countries from which immigrants flee, the duty of America to provide asylum, the presumption that all countries with brown and black people are ‘broken,’ the dehumanizing rhetoric of a crime ‘infestation’ and more.  Second, Trump spews the unconscionably racist view that people of color are not, essentially, American.  Only one of the four women Trump is targeting were born outside of the United States.  But far more significant is Trump’s idea that people of color don’t really belong in this country—for that is exactly what he means.  Let that sink in.

“Third, Trump’s views are fundamentally anti-American, or least with the best of the American tradition.  The idea that immigrants or nonwhite people are not American and owe their loyalty to someone else is contrary to the Constitution and contrary to the best of the American ideal, and draws on the worst white nationalist strains in our country’s history.  Equally anti-American is the idea that those who criticize the country are against it, rather than trying to make it better, or that dissent itself is anti-American.  Fourth, Trump’s hypocrisy reveals not just his white supremacist views, but his dangerously fascistic personality and worldview.  It is not true that Trump believes there is anything wrong with criticizing America, since he does it all the time.  What Trump does believe is that there is something wrong with criticizing him.  That’s a worldview consistent with fascism, which brooks no criticism of the Great Leader.  And when the GOP stays silent against this backdrop, it is propelling these anti-American worldviews that threaten the very fabric of this country. (Robert Weissman, Public Citizen, July 15, 2019) This excellent article uses the one word that perfectly describes Trump: Fascist.  And, since it is accurate, Republicans employ their usual strategy of reversal and call Democrats “fascist.”

On August 3, 2019, a white nationalist entered a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas and started shooting people.  By the time he was arrested, 23 people were dead and another 23 wounded.  His motives were racist; his main targets were Latinos.  He also said he is a fan of Donald Trump.  Prior to the shooting, the killer posted a manifesto entitled The Inconvenient Truth on an online message board.  This manifesto states that Democrats will soon control the United States because they refuse to do anything about immigration.  It also promotes a conspiracy theory called The Great Replacement which uses phrases such as “migrant invasion,” an expression Trump himself has used.  This latest mass shooting is yet another example of white nationalism and racism on the rise.  True to his nature, Trump ignores white racism and instead focuses on investigating black activists.  Progress America tells us more: “Earlier this year the FBI’s counterterrorism division told the Senate that 40% of domestic terrorism cases were racially motivated and of that, most of the cases were white supremacists.  But instead of increasing focus on white supremacist violence, the FBI is now trying to distort the record by lumping together Black activists and white supremacists into the ambiguous category of ‘Racially Motivated Violent Extremism.’  Within that category, they have identified white supremacist groups as a medium threat and Black activists as a high threat, bigger than Al-Qaeda.  Conflating white supremacist violence and Black activism allows the FBI to ignore white supremacist attacks, even as Americans are dying at their hands.” (Mike Phelan, Progress America. August 24, 2019) Even though police were already on the scene within a minute or so, the damage was already done.  Doesn’t that make a pretty strong case why assault weapons should be banned?

During President Obama’s tenure of eight years, there were 32 mass shootings.  By the first seven months of 2019, up to and including El Paso, there were 250 (look it up!).  It doesn’t take a genius to see that something really bad is happening to our country and that it has escalated since Trump became president.

A little historical background may be in order here.  In 2015, D.W. Griffith premiered his groundbreaking film Birth of a Nation.  In that film, the Ku Klux Klan was portrayed as the heroes who worked to save “white civilization.”  When President Woodrow Wilson saw the film, he said it was “all too true.”  Racists across the country saw in Wilson’s words (and Wilson was considered to be one of the great intellectuals of his time) evidence that they had been right all along: blacks are inferior and pose a threat to white civilization.  The Klan, which had become less and less powerful over the previous twenty years, took on new life: Klan membership was higher in the early 1920s than it had ever been before, much of its power being in the Northern states.  Fast forward one century and we see the same thing occurring once again: Hate crimes are higher than ever.  Racism has become a central issue of our times.

Just as Woodrow Wilson’s words enabled the racism against blacks, largely hidden from view prior to his presidency, to re-emerge and become more powerful than ever, so President Trump’s words and actions are enabling today’s neo-nazis and white supremacists, to become more emboldened and to take action.

Incidentally, after every single mass shooting during Obama’s presidency, he all but begged Mitch McConnell to pass some kind of gun reform laws.  McConnell, of course, did nothing.

It must be noted that, after the shooting in El Paso, Trump made a speech condemning white supremacy but blamed much of the violence on mental health issues, video games and internet bigotry.  Of course, he failed to mention the easy access to high-powered weapons that the public currently has.  One has to wonder, given the non-stop barrage of tweets and spontaneous rhetoric he comes up with every day, how many Americans thought Trump’s comments were even remotely sincere.

The facts about gun violence are stark indeed.  Even though gun violence claims over a hundred lives a day, and even though gun violence is 25 times higher in the United States than in any other high-income country, Republicans still refuse to take any kind of action to protect the public.  The only conclusion to arrive at is that they don’t care about their constituents.

Lest we forget, here is a question posed to then-presidential candidate Trump back in 2016: Jake Tapper: “Will you unequivocally condemn David Duke and say you don’t want his vote or that of other white supremacists?”  

Donald Trump: “I don’t know anything about white supremacists, so I don’t know.”  Note that Trump didn’t address whether racism is wrong, he just played dumb.

People’s Action tells us how the Department Of Justice has hidden an important report on the rise of white nationalism: “Alleged white supremacists were responsible for all race-based domestic terrorism incidents in 2018, according to a government document distributed earlier this year to state, local and federal law enforcement.  The document, which has not been previously reported on, becomes public as the Trump administration’s Justice Department has been unable or unwilling to provide data to Congress on white supremacist domestic terrorism.  The data in this document, titled ‘Domestic Terrorism in 2018,’ appears to be what Congress has been asking for—and didn’t get.” (Sam Pizzigati, People’s Action, August 23, 2019) Again, Republicans bury reports on anything that contradicts what they want to believe.

Of course, Fox News had to weigh in on the shooting.  MoveOn reports: “Only three days after the a white supremacist mass shooter in El Paso killed 22 people, Tucker Carlson went primetime on Fox News and declared that white supremacy is ‘not a real problem.’  He called it a ‘hoax’ before the victims even had time to be buried.   This is a blatant lie from Tucker Carlson.  The only reason he is lying is because he has propagated similarly anti-immigrant, xenophobic, and blatantly racist ideas that are bent on fear-mongering.  Tucker wants to think that white supremacy is a hoax, because he does not want to accept that he is complicit in giving voice to these ideas. He does not want to see how his words could have influenced a white supremacist mass shooter.” (Michelle Sandoval, MoveOn, August 11, 2019) If Fox News were in any way a legitimate organization, they would have fired Carlson on the spot.

White supremacy is the number one social evil in this country.  If Republicans (or any other political leader) espouse it or support it in any way, they should be summarily removed from office.  When Obama was president and identified the problem, Republicans in Congress accused him of being “politically motivated.”  Daily Kos adds: “Donald Trump continues to goad his far-right base through constant repetition of false claims about the dangers of migrants and by singling out specific people of color as focus points for his crowds’ anger.  And a former FBI agent told the Washington Post that FBI agents are reluctant to go after dangerous white nationalists because they don’t want to be seen as pursuing investigations against the president’s political base.” (Paul Hogarth, Daily Kos, August 6, 2019) It is a sad state of affairs when the FBI is afraid to do its job because it might harm a political party.  One can only wonder if they would act the same way if a similar Democratic scandal were to unfold.

In an earlier article, I discussed how Republican gerrymandering has greatly assisted them in winning elections.  However, there is a racial aspect to this as well, as People’s Action makes clear: “The reach of late Republican gerrymandering mastermind Thomas Hofeller may be longer than previously known, according to a review of thousands of documents and emails culled from his hard drives, obtained by The Intercept.  While Hofeller was known for drawing maps to give Republicans an advantage and to limit the impact of voters of color in North Carolina, Texas, Missouri, and Virginia, the new documents reveal he also participated in the 2010 redistricting cycle in Alabama, Florida, and West Virginia.  And, in those three states, it appears Hofeller and other Republican mapmakers experimented with using race as the primary factor in drawing districts in these states—a tactic ruled unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause, which requires that people in similar circumstances be treated the same under the law.  Among the trove of over 70,000 documents are draft maps with voter data broken down by race, spreadsheets that include the home addresses of members of Congress, travel plans, and legislation marked up by Hofeller himself.  These new documents shed additional light on the coordinated national strategy behind maps that locked in a GOP advantage in Congress and in state legislatures nationwide.  They reveal the sophisticated racial data that drove GOP mapmaking in several states, potentially opening new avenues for litigation challenging these plans as unconstitutional racial gerrymanders—including one Alabama case that will be heard in a U.S. district court in seven week— or as violations of state constitutional protections of free and fair elections.  And they show that Hofeller intentionally failed to disclose his involvement in Florida redistricting in an affidavit filed with a court.” (Jeff Bryant, People’s Action, September 24, 2019) Ah, that pesky Constitution always seems to get in the way of what the Republicans want to do.

People’s Action has an excellent article on this issue: “Secret files found on a longtime Republican operative’s computer after his death revealed that he compiled racial data to help his party draw new political maps and impose voter ID laws.  Thomas Hofeller, who is considered the master of modern gerrymandering, left behind at least 70,000 files that were found by his estranged daughter after his death in August 2018.  Some of those files have already been used to successfully challenge North Carolina’s gerrymander and the Trump administration’s plan to add a citizenship question to the census, which Hofeller argued would help ‘Republicans and non-Hispanic whites.’  More files, obtained by former Salon editor David Daley at The New Yorker, show that Hofeller and his race research played a key role in Republican gerrymandering efforts in North Carolina and other states, as well as other efforts intended to make it harder for African-Americans and college students to vote.  Though North Carolina Republicans have argued that their maps discriminate based on partisanship and not race, Hofeller’s files show that he compiled maps with overlays of the black voting-age population by district, suggesting that racial data was a key part of the gerrymander, which is at the center of a years-long legal battle.  The files contradict claims Republicans have long used to defend their maps in court.  Republicans had long denied that a congressional-district line that cuts right down the middle of the largest historically black college in the United States, North Carolina A&T State University, was intentionally drawn to dilute the black vote, even though it effectively guaranteed two Republican districts.  But Hofeller’s files show that the effort clearly focused on the race of students.” (Paul M. Barrett, People’s Action, September 11, 2019)

The appointment of ultra right-wing judges also has racial implications.  For example, even though Brown v. Board of Education ended school segregation back in 1954, today we are seeing an increasing number of Trump appointed federal judges who refuse to say that the Brown decision was the right one, both legally and morally.  To her everlasting shame, even Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein has gone along with the bigoted Republicans in voting to confirm lifetime seats for these individuals.

Clearly, racism is alive and well in these United States.  An issue that has shown America’s ugliest side should have been settled by the outcome of the Civil War.  A century and a half later, the issue has still not been settled.


Many of the biggest corporations continue as beneficiaries of Republican largesse.  I have discussed Facebook in a previous article, and its role in the right-wing spin machine, but here is much more to be said.  People for the American Way summarizes the situation: “Facebook was at the center of foreign interference in the 2016 election, pushing false stories in front of millions of people.  Since Trump took office, Zuckerberg has talked a big game about protecting its users ahead of the 2020 election. But Facebook’s actions speak louder than his words:  1)  Facebook is relying on partisan so-called fact-checkers like the Daily Caller and to flag misleading posts, even though they are some of the worst offenders;  2)  Facebook continues to allow hate speech to fester on its platform, and;  3)  Facebook refuses to ban content in advertising that is untruthful.” (Zach VanHouten, People for the American Way, December 15, 2019) There are numerous other actions committed by Facebook in addition to those listed above, including running ads that are blatant lies, and accepting more than a million dollars per month from Trump’s presidential campaign.  By this point, it should come as no surprise that Congress is doing nothing to address this and other related problems.

Progress America adds: “Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been hosting secret dinners with conservative officials and pundits like Sen. Lindsey Graham, Hugh Hewitt, Ben Shapiro, and Tucker Carlson ahead of the 2020 election.   And Facebook just changed its ad policies so that disinformation regulations don’t apply to political ads, as Donald Trump has been spending more than $1 million per month on false ads scaring seniors about immigration and lying about Joe Biden.  Politico’s report says that Zuckerberg is afraid that Trump’s AG Bill Barr will use the government to break up Facebook.  It’s undoubtedly true that Facebook is a monopoly that should be broken up or shut down, but this is another example of Trump using the power of government to get his way.  The irony is, Facebook is one of the few companies big enough to realistically stand up to Trump. But Zuckerberg has decided he’d rather keep cashing Trump’s ad checks rather than defending our democracy.” (Mike Phelan, Progress America, October 14, 2019)

When Zuckerberg testified at the House Financial Services Committee, he was grilled about the disinformation that Facebook refuses to take down.  Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez admirably rose to the occasion.  She asked Zuckerberg: “So you won’t take down lies or will you take down lies.  This is a simple yes or no…”  Zuckerberg answered evasively: “In a democracy, I believe that people should be able to see for themselves what politicians they may or may no vote for are saying.”  Ocasio-Ortiz: “So you won’t take them down.”  Zuckerberg: “Congresswoman, it’s ah—it depends on the context that it shows up, organic posts, ads…”  Zuckerberg won’t come out and say it, of course, but clearly he has no plans whatever to take them down.  Daily Kos takes it from there: “She then moved on to Zuckerberg’s dinner parties with right-wing figures, like Senator Lindsey Graham, who believe there is a conspiracy that social media is bias(ed) against conservatives (again, this is not true).  She continued to hit deeper, and asked why the Daily Caller—a publication founded by Tucker Carlson and has known ties to white supremacists—is a fact-checker for the platform.  AOC: ‘So you would say that white supremacist-tied publications meet a rigorous standard for fact-checking?’  ZUCKERBERG:…AOC: ‘Thank you.’  ZUCKERBERG: ‘Congresswoman, I would say we’re not the one assessing that standard.  The International Fact-Checking Network is the one setting that standard.’  Her lines of questioning really hit at the realty of what we will be facing as we approach the 2020 elections.  Not only that lies will not be removed, but they will also be ‘fact-checked’ by those with an alt-right agenda.” (Amanda McKay, Daily Kos, October 25, 2019)

CREDO Action provides us with further information on how dangerous Facebook has become: “Facebook just paid a record-breaking $5 billion fine for violating people’s privacy—the result of an investigation that showed Facebook allowed the right-wing firm Cambridge Analytica access to 50 million social media profiles that helped them sway the election to Trump.  But Facebook is already dreaming of an even scarier idea: setting up its own global currency.  Facebook proposed creating an online ‘cryptocurrency,’ like the more-famous Bitcoin, called Libra.  Libra would be an easy tool for tax evasion and money laundering in the hands of out-of-control corporations.  

“Last week, Democrats slammed Libra during congressional hearings with Facebook’s cryptocurrency chief, and Rep. Maxine Waters is threatening to subpoena Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.   Progressive champions are calling for a moratorium on Facebook’s development of its own money, and we need to help them build support in Congress.  Facebook routinely violates consumer privacy.  It swallowed up competitors and built a near-inescapable monopoly.  It lied to advertisers about video metrics, to Congress in testimony and about the Cambridge Analytica scandal.  Facebook created a safe haven for white nationalism, right-wing hatred, racism, misogyny, ethnic supremacism and fake news that fosters violence worldwide.  And now, in the words of Sen. Sherrod Brown, it wants to create its ‘own bank and [its] own for-profit version of the Federal Reserve for the world.’ 
“Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or the proposed Libra are digital currencies that use cryptography to protect the value of each coin or token. Facebook’s Libra is a horrible idea that would:  1) Centralize corporate control by giving Facebook more power, undermining sovereign states that create their own currency and giving the unelected board of a non-profit in Switzerland controlled by corporate interests the ability to distort global currencies or undermine governments at will.  2) Promote tax dodging and money laundering by making it easier for people to hide their money in a new network with instant global reach.  3) Erode freedom with no clear limits on how Facebook could use data on Libra purchases, bake racist discrimination into its algorithms, change the rules in the future or demand employees take payment in currency it controls.

“Facebook’s answer is to all these complaints is essentially, ‘trust us.’  But the company’s horrendous track record shows it is undeserving of any trust.  In fact, Facebook already showed it is unable to deal with an outpouring of scam artists selling fake Libra tokens on its own platform.” (Josh Nelson, CREDO Action, July 25, 2019)

Twitter also allows white supremacists free access to its site.  UltraViolet reports that twitter: “…is now the only major social media platform without an explicit policy against white nationalism—and it’s way past time the company stop it.  Trump has emboldened white supremacists across the country to spew hate speech, organize real-life events, and plan acts of violence.  Over the last few weeks, white supremacist violence killed dozens of people in tragic mass shootings in Gilroy, Calif., and El Paso, Texas.  These horrific events have served as a wake-up call to many in the tech industry.  Unfortunately, Twitter continues to provide a megaphone to white supremacists, doing very little to stop them from organizing, fundraising, recruiting, and normalizing violence on its platform.  Women, immigrants, LGBTQ folks, and Black and Brown communities face a real threat of violence on a daily basis, and are all common targets of organized online hate from white supremacists in this country.  Violent racists have felt more support than ever before, with Trump calling people of color ‘invaders’ and an ‘infestation’ on social media—words we saw parroted in the El Paso shooter’s manifesto.” (Shaunna Thomas, UltraViolet, August 29, 2019)

A brief history lesson is in order here to see how we came to where we are, courtesy of People’s Action: “Wars end with treaties.  In the middle of the 20th century, the ‘class war’ that finished off America’s original plutocracy ended with the ‘Treaty of Detroit.’  In exchange for labor peace, GM guaranteed auto workers what amounted to ‘a 20 percent increase in their standard of living’ over five years, along with a new health care benefit and a standard $125 monthly pension, the equivalent of about $16,000 annually in today’s dollars.  This would help energize a huge postwar shift in the distribution of U.S. income and wealth.  In the quarter-century after 1945, the real incomes of average Americans would double, in the process manufacturing the first mass middle class the world ever seen.  Today, in a top-heavy America with a shrinking middle class, corporations like GM don’t need to sell lots of product to make big profits.  They can get richer running companies that produce less.  Last November, GM announced plans to shut down four U.S. plants that make product that’s not moving.  This past February, GM announced the elimination of 8,000 additional white-collar jobs.  The not-so-subtle message to GM workers from GM’s executive class: You may need your jobs.  But we don’t need you.  So swallow whatever we offer.  

“Since last week nearly 50,000 GM workers have been on strike, in part against a two-tiered system enforced by the auto giant that leaves ‘temporary’ workers doing the same jobs as permanent staff for substantially less pay and fewer benefits.  The striking workers, represented by the United Automobile Workers union, or UAW, are demanding a defined path to ‘permanent seniority’ for GM’s temporary workers—who make up about 7 percent of GM’s U.S. workforce.  GM has also entrenched inequality in its ranks by contracting out some jobs, like custodial work, that were traditionally staff roles.  The workers’ demands are part of a broader push against worker misclassification, a tactic used by employers to lessen their labor costs.  The fight has been playing out most aggressively in California, where Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a sweeping bill last week to transform the lives of workers in his state.  The law—known as AB5—sets strict limits on who can be classified as an independent contractor, rather than an employee, and is the most serious legislative threat to the gig economy in years.  The law also provides new momentum for advocates considering similar reforms in other states.”” (Sam Pizzigati, People’s Action, September 26, 2019) None of the economic mess we are now engaged in would have been possible if government and business had not joined hands and changed our country from one based on free market capitalism to one of increased governmental interference.  The same Republicans who scream about getting government “off people’s backs” are now singing quite a different tune (at least behind closed doors) and closing off economic possibilities, monitoring people’s private lives, and giving them less and less options for redressing problems.

Wall Street is raking in huge sums of money while CEOs of major corporations are becoming richer and richer.  This is not exactly a news bulletin; I’ve covered this in detail in previous articles.  However, there is a new angle to this, as Demand Progress reports: “Wall Street and wealthy CEOs want to silence corporate accountability efforts—and Donald Trump’s SEC is about to help make it happen.  The SEC is proposing a dangerous rule change that would silence shareholders and help inoculate powerful Wall Street companies and wealthy CEOs to pressure from their own investors.  Shareholder resolutions have been used for decades to ensure better corporate governance—and to advance important causes like gay rights, gender and racial equity, and environmentalism.  Now the SEC is proposing to make these virtually impossible.  Shareholder resolutions are a key method to hold CEOs and their companies accountable.  For example, employees recently used their company-issue stock to pressure Amazon to reduce its contribution to climate change.  A recent, much-lauded statement issued by major CEOs through the Business Roundtable implies support for that important work.  But now CEOs are pushing the SEC to insulate them from accountability.  The SEC’s proposed rule would make it harder to file shareholder petitions by increasing the ownership stake needed in order to do so.  It would also increase the percentage of support a petition would need to garner from shareholders in order to stay alive.” (Demand Progress, December 15, 2019)

CREDO Action explains the correlation between Wall Street and Republican cuts in government services: “Cuts to government services mean more money for Wall Street.  Corporate titans and big banks spend billions to support politicians who will cut social spending, knowing that if we can’t rely on public roads or schools, people will have to turn to Wall Street-backed private businesses.  That is why Wall Street loves the idea of a so-called ‘Balanced Budget Amendment,’ which would amend the Constitution to slash social spending.  The amendment would bar the government from running a deficit, with disastrous effects for everyone except the investor class.  No wonder one writer calls it ‘the worst idea in American politics.”  

“Disgustingly, a group of corporate pawns known as ‘Blue Dog Democrats’ are using the recently passed budget deal as an excuse to push the amendment and create a rift in the Democratic caucus.  The budget deal was already a mixed bag.  While it removed some spending caps, it also increased military spending and suspended the debt ceiling for two years—potentially allowing Republicans to hold it hostage against a future Democratic administration.  But even this wasn’t enough for Blue Dog Democrats.  The Blue Dogs want to put a kinder, gentler face on Wall Street plutocracy and push the Trump agenda without the worst of his misogyny and racism.  One of their key priorities this Congress is the Wall Street budget amendment. It would:  1) Create recessions and make them worse by barring the government from deficit spending to boost the economy when it is weak or, in the case of the Blue Dogs’ proposal, create extra hoops for Congress to jump through before it can act.  2) Damage the social safety net by placing limits on the ability of Social Security and Medicare to tap trust funds, creating an artificial cap on social safety net spending and locking Trump and Wall Street’s budget idea into the Constitution for a generation or more.  3) Empower Trump and enrich Wall Street, by potentially giving the presidency new power to decide which programs are cut and who gets taxed in order to meet requirements—ensuring that more and more Americans must turn to Wall Street loan sharks to make ends meet, see a doctor or go to school.  4) Force the government to live by far harsher rules than ordinary families, who can at least finance major purchases by taking out a home mortgage or an auto loan.

“Even with a Wall Street budget amendment, a Republican-led Congress will still give tax handouts to the super-rich and spend trillions on military waste, while the rest of us pay for it all.  Democrats who support this idea should be laughed out of the room. (Heidi Hess, CREDO Action, August 15, 2019)

he overall Republican strategy should be obvious by now:  Allow corporations and rich CEOs to do whatever they want, including silencing shareholders, promote right-wing causes, destroy the environment, promote bigotry, and  even promote racism and hatred—and then blame the results on the Democrats.

The Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act (COPRA) is a bill that is designed to protect people from tech companies that collect our personal information and sell it to other corporations who then use it for marketing purposes as well as building disinformation tools for political use.  COPRA is the first attempt to protect consumers in the digital age.  Of course, it will face an uphill battle against Senate Republicans who aren’t the least bit interested in protecting consumers from such intrusions.  Companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook have been intruding in our lives for years and it is high time an act like COPRA is passed.

I have already covered Facebook, so it is time to focus on Google.  CREDO Action tells us just how dangerous and un-American this company has become: “Imagine being at a social justice rally when a crime happens a mile or two away.  Now you and the thousands of people who attended are suspects.  And guess who turned you in: Google.  Google knows where you are right now, even if location tracking on your Google apps is turned off.  Worse, the company is handing over your location information to law enforcement agencies.  This is a gross breach of privacy and it needs to stop immediately.  It’s time we expose and hold Google accountable for collaborating with law enforcement and secretly surveilling people’s activities through its dangerous Sensorvault program.  You don’t have to be involved in a crime to be targeted by the police when you’re in the vicinity of a crime.  Google’s Sensorvault stores your minute-by-minute travel via the Google apps on your mobile phone.  One chief of police even boasted that Google can go beyond just a single location to show your ‘pattern of life.’  

“For almost 10 years, Sensorvault and its use by law enforcement was a well-kept secret until the New York Times exposed Google’s operation.  The tech company says you can ‘pause’ the location history setting on your phone, but that simply is not true.  Some Google apps will still automatically time-and location-stamp your whereabouts without your explicit consent.  

“Data privacy is an issue that affects us all, but people of color undocumented people and LGBTQ+ people are at an even higher risk when law enforcement gets involved.  Google storing location data is as much of a privacy issue as it is a human rights issue.  If Google’s Sensorvault continues to run, communities who are already over-policed can be unjustly targeted, faster.  This means more deportations and family separations, more violence against black bodies, and more gender and sexuality criminalization.  Once Google hands over people’s data to the police, there’s no transparency and virtually no limit to what officers can do with that information.  Even the government is skeptical of Google’s data storing practices.  In April, members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee publicly called for answers from Google’s CEO on Sensorvault. However, Google provided no answers, and the committee failed to follow-up.” (Jelani Drew, CREDO Action, July 26, 2019) All this tells us is that Google has become Big Brother.  And the concentration camps are (pardon the pun), the holding company.

Amazon is a huge contributor to the ever-widening pollution problem.  Progress American tells us how: “ is more than a place to get diapers delivered in two days.  It’s more than a streaming TV service.  It’s a massive polluter.  And I don’t mean because of the delivery trucks.  Over the last decade Amazon’s cloud server company, Amazon Web Services, has quietly become the backbone of the internet, with estimates of nearly 30% of all web traffic passing through its servers.  And that means massive power consumption, more than 50% of which still comes from fossil fuels.  
“At a time when many tech companies are getting serious about renewable energy, Amazon needs to do their part to invest in renewable energy and fight the climate crisis.  Jeff Bezos is the richest man on earth, and he’s building a space exploration company because ‘We are in the process of destroying this planet.’  But that destruction is a choice that Bezos makes every day by refusing to clean up Amazon.” (Mike Phelan, Progress America, September 20, 2019)

Incidentally, Progress America tells us that: “Just three white men―Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, and Bill Gates―own as much wealth as the whole bottom half of America.” (Mike Phelan, Progress America, July 25, 2019) Should this be the normal state of affairs?  If not, what is to be done to remedy this ridiculous imbalance?

One particularly noxious thing that is occurring concerns the exploitation of children in the workplace.  Most Americans are unaware of this.  CREDO Action provides some startling facts: “Nearly two decades ago, Mars, Nestlé and Hersey pledged to stop using cocoa harvested by children. Yet, odds are that a chocolate bar eaten this Halloween is a product of child labor.  Much of the chocolate bought and sold in the United States starts with child labor.  Children as young as 10-years-old are purchased, transported across borders to cocoa farms and barred from educational opportunities in order to work for under a dollar a day.  Mars, Nestlé and Hersey are at the root of the problem and are fueling a multibillion-dollar industry driven by the labor of millions of children.  Over the last two decades, Mars, Nestlé, Hershey and other chocolate companies have set and missed deadlines to remove child labor from their cocoa supply chains.  These companies promised to meet deadlines to fully end their use of child labor by 2005, 2008 and 2010.  Each deadline has been missed and extended—and now, they have indicated that they will once again miss their 2020 deadline.  Their lack of action on ending child labor is unacceptable.  The chocolate industry brings in over $103 billion in sales annually, yet has only spent $150 million over the course of 18 years to address child labor.  It is clear that ending child labor is not a priority for Mars, Nestlé and Hershey for as long as it continues to bring in profits from its unethical business practices.

“Close to two-thirds of the world’s cocoa supply comes from West Africa, where 2 million children are engaged in hazardous work in the cocoa industry—either working on their parents’ farms or with other trafficked children.  Children are forced to engage in dangerous labor practices like swinging machetes and other sharp tools, spraying pesticides, burning fields and lifting heavy loads. International authorities consider cocoa farming one of the ‘worst forms of child labor.’” (Thais Marques, CREDO Action, October 31, 2019) These companies are in a morally indefensible position and people need to be made aware of this unconscionable exploitation of child labor.

In my previous articles, I have gone into considerable detail explaining how the mainstream media has bent over backwards to accommodate the criminals in the Republican party.  If this were not enough, many formerly respectable news agencies are doing their level best to find any kind of dirty laundry on Democrats that they can.  Daily Kos explains how this was done by the Washington Post against presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren: “‘Sen. Elizabeth Warren earned nearly $2 million consulting for corporations and financial firms, records show,’ the headline reads.  Not mentioned in that headline or until the sixth paragraph of the article is the fact that this nearly $2 million came over three decades.  Even if you accept the Post’s angry qualification that: ‘nearly all of the money was made from cases filed after she got her job at Harvard in 1995,’ the attempt here to create a scandal is ridiculous if you consider the kind of money top law professors can and do make as consultants.  Or the kind of money that graduates of Harvard Law School are very often paid in their first year out of school, for that matter. (It’s $190,000 a year, plus bonus. For someone who just graduated.  In 1999, it was $100,000, plus bonus.)

“‘Every lawyer who looks at the Warren disclosures understands that she made a small fraction of the money she could have made if money were her priority, given her standing in the law.  Any story that doesn’t include that is misleading readers as to what’s going on,’ tweeted civil rights lawyer Sasha Samberg-Champion.  Warren was of course getting a salary from Harvard, but it’s a guarantee that many of her colleagues were making at least as much on outside consulting.  So basically we’re to be outraged by a woman at the very top of her profession making somewhat less money than her male peers.  How f’ing dare she?  So uppity.  Warren released the compensation data herself as she calls for Mayor Pete Buttigieg to release even just the names of the companies he consulted for during his time at McKinsey and to open his high-dollar fundraisers to the press.” (Laura Clawson, Daily Kos, December 9, 2019) While Warren’s financial dealings and income tax returns are open for investigation, the same cannot be said for Donald Trump.  It should be obvious that he is trying to hide his financial information from the public because he knows it will show his crimes for what they are.

Fox News is the main disinformation outlet in the country, comprised exclusively of right-wingers who distort facts, lie and do anything else they can to keep Republicans in power and demonize their opponents, perceived or otherwise.  Daily Kos informs us: “Fox News is the most watched news network in the country, period.  It’s vast and uniformly pro-Trump audience makes it impossible for any Republican to stand up to Trump on anything, ever, giving him total control over one of the two major parties in this country.” (Amanda McKay, Daily Kos, October 22, 2019) This is exactly how dictatorships operate: Take over the media, and us it to disseminate propaganda, lies, and false patriotism.

CREDO Action adds: “It’s not just FOX News – almost every major media outlet helps Big Oil spread its propaganda. Chevron, BP and Koch Industries have sponsored POLITICO and Axios, two agenda-setting political outlets widely read on Capitol Hill. Many news companies, including POLITICO, The New York Times and The Washington Post, run ‘native ads’ from fossil-fuel companies that look misleadingly similar to regular newspaper stories or editorial pieces.  Viewers who tuned into the Democratic primary debates on cable and network TV saw countless fossil-fuel ads but rarely heard the candidates asked about climate change.  Thanks to this terrible coverage, almost 90% of Americans don’t know that there is a scientific consensus on global warming. (Heidi Hess, CREDO Action, October 22, 2019)

In my previous articles I have discussed Sinclair Broadcast Group’s efforts to buy up television stations all over America and force them to air right-wing propaganda.  Here, I will quote Daily Kos in a brief summary: “Right now, Sinclair stations reach almost 40% of American households across the country.  Instead of broadcasting objective, nonpartisan news, Sinclair forces stations to run pro-Trump messages and downplay news stories that would hurt his administration or other conservative lawmakers.  Sinclair forces television stations to run scare-tactic McCarthy era-esque ads that warn their viewers about fake news, shaping the American public’s views of quality media.” (Ntebo Mokuena, Daily Kos, September 4, 2019)

Trump’s non-stop attacks on the press (the same press that has bent over backwards to make him appear to be something he isn’t) is yet another impeachable offense.  Even Fox News’ Chris Wallace said that Trump is: “engaged in the most direct, sustained assault on freedom of the press in our history.”  One wonders how long someone like Wallace will last with a news outlet that never honestly presents any unslanted “news” but only acts as a spin machine for right-wing lies, stupidity, and crime.

As before stated, the media has reneged on its duty to remain impartial.  Polls show that half of America’s citizens want to see Trump removed from office, but the press ignores this fact as it ignores the fact that one of the two main parties in this country does not deal with facts and reality.  Instead, media reports make it seem that there is a deadlock in Washington, and that both sides are equally guilty for the impasse.  Daily Kos provides some telling information by comparing the impeachment of Trump with the impeachment of Bill Clinton: “When Republicans in the House spent 1998 impeaching Bill Clinton, Americans across the board rejected the inquiry.  At no point during the partisan process did more than 30% of Americans support impeachment, and most of the time that number hovered around 25%.  Republicans categorically failed to change the nation’s mind about Clinton, who famously weathered the political storm with historically high approval ratings, logging a staggering 71% approval rating in a Pew Research poll.  Today, more than twice as many Americans support the impeachment of a Republican president than supported the impeachment of a Democratic president two decades ago.  Yet the press portrays the Trump impeachment as a political and public relations failure for Democrats…the no-winner narrative remains constant.  From The New York Times: ‘House Democrats insist they are leading an impeachment inquiry into President Trump for one simple reason: His actions have left them no other choice.  The president and his Republican allies argue that the inquiry is just an attempt to tear him down—‘an illegitimate sham partisan process,’ as the White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, put it on Wednesday.  But with the first round of public hearings wrapped up and another scheduled for Wednesday, which message is sticking across the country?’  The Times’ conclusion?  It’s a toss-up: ‘As a result, support for or opposition to impeachment rarely climbs much higher than 50 percent in any poll.’  This is what you call missing the big picture, and most of the Beltway press is now doing it with regard to impeachment.” (Eric Boehlert, Daily Kos, December 2, 2019)

It is high time for the more extreme right-wing propaganda outlets masquerading as news to be shut down.  Fox News, Breitbart, The Daily Caller and other such groups do not disseminate the news; instead, as Daily Kos notes “They are purveyors of lies, slander, libel, and defamation.  They do not seek to honestly inform the public and provide a public service.  They seek to twist facts, disguise the truth, and mislead people into believing falsehoods and calumny.  It is simply not true, as some would have you believe, that there are two sides to every issue. Some things are simply not just a matter of opinion.” (Frank Vyan Walton, Daily Kos, December 1, 2019)

During the presidential debates, not a single question was asked about the most critical issue the world faces—climate change.  What was discussed was Republican talking points.  People’s Action describes how the press geared the debates to favor Republicans: “At the first two Democratic debates, the moderators from NBC/MSNBC and CNN based their questions about health care on Republican and corporate talking points.  They acted as if the issue most people care about is the future of private insurance companies, rather than the best way for all Americans to have good healthcare without going bankrupt.  These debate moderators framed the healthcare debate as a question of ‘what Democrats will take away from people’—i.e., their current private insurance plans, if they have one—rather than what they will do to provide more people with better and comprehensive healthcare, whether in the form of single payer, a public option, or otherwise.  By framing the question this way, Republicans hope to run in 2020 on the claim people will lose their healthcare under Democrats.  This is a gaslit version of Democrats’ successful argument in the 2018 midterms, when they ran on the threat that Republicans would take away voters’ health care by abolishing the Affordable Care Act.  Democrats’ claim was true.  Republicans’ claim is false.  The NBC, MSNBC and CNN debate moderators have created a fake debate about completely outlawing private insurance, which no Democratic candidate—left, right, or center—proposes to do.  The rest of the mainstream media, which can often be lazy, has adopted this framing of abolishing private insurance or not as the biggest issue when it comes to healthcare.  It only scares voters for no reason, and helps Trump’s reelection chances.  Let’s hope tonight’s moderators from ABC and Univision for the third debate—this means you, George Stephanopoulos, Jorge Ramos, Linsey Davis, and David Muir—will ask more more honest questions which clarify the issues, instead of ginning up false controversy.” (Miles Mogulescu, People’s Action, September 12, 2019) Suffice it to say that they did not.  So much for the ridiculous notion of a “liberal media.”

If all this were not enough to show how the press favors Republicans over Democrats, Daily Kos compares how they treat Trump with how they treated Bill Clinton: “The time is now for more newspapers to use their public platforms to call for Trump to resign.  It’s time for news outlets to use their bully pulpits to make the case for a return to the rule of law in the executive branch.  And it’s time for newspapers to grow a spine, because yes, scores of dailies used that same public platform to demand that Bill Clinton resign during the impeachment proceedings of the late 1990s.  ‘He should resign because he has resolutely failed—and continues to fail—the most fundamental test of any president: to put his nation’s interests first,’ USA Today announced in September 1998.

“It’s incomprehensible how those newspapers looked at the consensual affair Clinton had with Monica Lewinsky and concluded the Democrat was ‘unfit for office,’ yet have watched Trump brag about trying to corrupt the 2020 election and remain mum on his fitness to serve.  This, after Trump has already advertised himself as a racist and a habitual liar who’s busy lining his pockets while serving in the Oval Office.  It’s hard to imagine a more naked double standard than how newspaper editorial boards treated Clinton and how they treat Trump, and how the press treats Democrats versus how they treat Republicans.  It’s all deeply ironic: Newspapers declared a wildly popular Democratic president unfit for office, yet the same newspapers refuse to demand that a wildly unpopular (and corrupt) Republican president step down for the good of the country.” (Eric Boehlert, Daily Kos, October 1, 2019)

Honesty and integrity used to be integral to the news media.  Sadly this is no longer the case.  They have been replaced by cowardice and sycophancy.  And blatant stupidity.




The Republican tax scam was duly reported in my previous articles, so I needn’t go into considerable more detail on this issue.  I will note however, that, as The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) reports, 91 corporations paid no federal income taxes on their 2018 U.S. income.  Chevron, Amazon, Haliburton and IBM were among those listed.

How were they able to get away with this?  By putting it into CEO “stock options” which allows them to claim lower total profits.  It’s the same “too big to fail” scenario I discussed in my earlier articles.  Daily Kos expands on this: “Of the 91 corporations not paying anything in federal income taxes, here are the top 10 most profitable: 1)  2)  Delta Airlines  3)  Starbucks  4)  Chevron  5)  General Motors  6)  EOG Resources  7)  Occidental Petroleum  8)  Duke Energy  9)  Dominion Resources  10)  Honeywell International.  In all 10 of those examples, their effective tax rates are negative.  Poor, poor corporations.  No wonder they keep cutting jobs while recording record profits and C-suite executive salaries.”  (Walter Einenkel, Daily Kos, December 26, 2019)

Not only did these corporations pay nothing in federal income taxes, they even received rebates totaling $4.3 billion.  ActionNetwork adds: “Take FedEx for example.  In 2017, FedEx owed $1.5 billion in taxes.  Last year, thanks to the Trump tax scam, it owed exactly $0.  FedEx lobbied hard for Trump’s tax cuts, and in return Trump and his Republican lackeys cut corporate taxes so much that the government actually owed FedEx money in 2018.  The Trump tax scam is a failure—unless you’re an international corporation or a millionaire or billionaire.  It is helping corporations avoid taxes and the wealthy hoard wealth by paying lower tax rates than working people.  But corporations and billionaires are Republicans’ most coveted supporters, so they’re working with Trump on a tax scam 2.0 to be unveiled early in 2020 for his reelection campaign.” (Mike Lux, ActionNetwork, December 11, 2019)

During the 2016 campaign, Trump promised to close tax loopholes like the capital gains tax but this proved to be just another of his countless lies.  In fact, he has widened the loopholes that allow the richest Americans to benefit even more, at the expense of everyone else, thus enlarging the gap between the richest and poorest in this country.

CREDO Action gives us some numbers that prove how ridiculous his income disparity actually is: “Last year, the average CEO made more than 287 times their median employee—and got a $500,000 pay bump when most Americans got less than $1,000.  The pay disparity is even more appalling at McDonald’s and other companies that force workers to survive on poverty wages.  The CEO of McDonald’s made 2,124 times his employees’ $7,473 median pay.  Workers at The Gap only made about $5,800 while the CEO made 3,566 times more.  And controversial Tesla CEO Elon Musk made 40,668 times more money than his median employee.  

“It wasn’t always this way.  In 1950, the CEO-to-median worker pay ratio was 20:1.  It rose to 42-to-1 by 1980, and 120-to-1 by 2000.  It has increased by nearly 1,000% since 1978.   American workers are more productive than ever but aren’t seeing any benefits.  We have Ronald Reagan, right-wing economic policies and tax cuts like the Trump Tax Scam to thank for creating a world where the richest 1% hoard all the wealth created by hard labor.  These numbers explain why strikes are on the rise and unions are more popular than ever.  GM workers are currently striking for better treatment and protections for temporary workers, and CREDO members are standing in solidarity.  The strike is putting a national spotlight on the company’s CEO, who earns $22 million each year.  That’s nearly $10,600 per hour, or more than 281 times the median GM worker’s pay.” (Heidi Hess, CREDO Action, October 8, 2019)

Frank Clemente addresses some of the lies Trump and other Republicans have cooked up to justify their tax scam: “In a new chartbook by Americans for Tax Fairness titled ‘Trump-GOP Tax Cuts Failing Workers and the Economy,”’we take a look at eight key promises (ahem, LIES) made by Donald Trump and congressional Republicans that were used to scam the American people and ram their tax breaks through Congress.

“Here are just a few:
“TRUMP PROMISE: It will be a middle-class tax cut.  REALITY: The richest 1% are getting an average tax cut that’s 75 times more than the average tax cut of the bottom 80%―$50,000 vs. $645.
“TRUMP PROMISE: Wealthy people—like Donald Trump—won’t benefit from the tax cuts.  REALTY: Donald Trump and his family will benefit personally by millions of dollars from five features of the tax scam: lower top income tax rates; the deep corporate tax cuts; a weakened estate tax; a tax break mostly benefitting wealthy business owners like Trump; and real estate loopholes the tax law opened.

“TRUMP PROMISE: Working families will quickly get a $4000 to $9000 raise.  REALITY: Median family income rose just $514 in 2018 and the annual growth rate in workers’ wages has increased just 0.4% since the tax scam became law.  Both of these are well below the increases the occurred during President Obama’s last two years in office.  In 2017, we were told repeatedly that the giant, unpaid-for tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations would increase jobs, pay for themselves, give every family a big raise and really hurt rich people like Donald Trump.  The evidence says otherwise—overwhelmingly!  In fact, in 2018, 60 profitable Fortune 500 corporations—such as Amazon, Netflix and General Motors—paid no U.S. corporate income taxes and instead got a total of $4.3 billion in rebates.  And, instead of investing in its workers, corporations have instead used their tax savings for stock buybacks, which primarily benefit executives and other wealthy shareholders.  The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has confirmed that the tax scam is costing the American people nearly $2 trillion―increasing our deficit by 70% since President Obama’s final year in office.” (Frank Clemente, Americans for Tax Fairness, December 11, 2019) To this I, as a schoolteacher, can only ask: Where is my four thousand dollars?

The bottom line on the tax scam is simple: Last year, for the first time in our history, the four hundred wealthiest families in America were taxed at a lower rate than the bottom fifty percent.  When Democrats Turn Out explains: “This means that a teacher working a second job as a barista to make ends meet and an ironworker working long hours every day to feed their families both had more of their hard-earned income taxed than a billionaire running a big bank and getting multi-million dollar bonuses.” (When Democrats Turn Out, October 22, 2019) Not content with this, the Republican party is actively working on other schemes designed to make the situation even more unfair.

Americans for Tax Fairness provides some startling numbers on income: “In 2018, CEOs made 287 times more money than the average worker.  But it hasn’t always been this way.  Back in 1950, the CEO-to-median worker pay ratio was just 20-to-1.  And in 1980 it was 42-to-1.” (Mark Rickling, Americans for Tax Fairness, October 21, 2019)

So how much money do these CEO’s actually possess?  Americans for Tax Fairness tells us: “Jeff Bezos: $114 Billion; Bill Gates: $106 Billion; Warren Buffett: $80 Billion; Mark Zuckerberg: $70 Billion.  These are the richest people in America, according to the newly published Forbes 400.  But since most of their income comes from investments, not salaries or wages, they pay relatively little federal income taxes each year.”  (Frank Clemente, Americans for Tax Fairness, October 7, 2019)

ActionNetwork tells us more about the widening income disparity: “The growing gap between the richest 1% and everyone else is creating enormous wealth inequality and devastating our ability to invest in critical services that benefit working families.  In 2018, the 400 richest people in America had a combined wealth of $2.9 trillion—as much as the bottom two-thirds of the entire country.  The nation’s severe wealth gap has grown even worse since then partly due to the weakening of the Federal Estate Tax under the Trump-GOP tax scam—a major gift to Don Jr., Ivanka, Eric, Tiffany and Baron (the eventual heirs of Trump’s estate).  And let’s not forget wealthy son-in-law Jared’s inheritance.

“Right now the estate tax only affects the richest 0.1%—that’s just 1,800 estates a year.  If your estate is NOT worth at least $11 million, you pay NO federal estate tax.  To remedy this scandal, Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) is introducing the For the 99.8% Act, with a companion bill in the U.S. Senate by Bernie Sanders (I-VT).  This legislation would raise about $330 billion over ten years from the nation’s richest 0.2% of estates.  The estate tax doesn’t threaten small farms or businesses as Republicans like to claim. In fact, the Gomez-Sanders bill would tax only about 20 small farm and business estates nationwide—and it even has an extra provision to protect family farms.  What could we do with an extra $330 billion?  We could make health coverage more affordable by strengthening the Affordable Care Act ($300 billion); we could fully fund the Title I education program to ensure all high-poverty schools receive the staffing and other aid to which they’re entitled ($330 billion); we could fully fund special education ($197 billion) and Head Start ($140 billion); or put a one-third down payment on a $1 trillion infrastructure investment.  The estate tax is an important tool to provide a check on the growing concentration of wealth and create an economy that works for all of us.  

“If passed, this bill would only tax estates worth more than $3.5 million ― the level in effect in 2009. It would replace the current flat 40% rate with a progressive scale, topping out with estates worth $1 billion or more paying a 77% tax rate (the top estate tax rate from 1941 to 1976).(Frank Clemente, Action Network, September 16, 2019)

August 2019 saw the death of David Koch.  I have already discussed the damage he and his brother Charles have caused to our country in previous articles.  As a brief reminder, here is what Americans for Tax Fairness had to say on hearing of David’s death: “At the time of his death last week, David Koch was worth an estimated $50 billion.  And now, his heirs will likely receive much of that fortune completely tax free because Koch’s wealth is due to the increased value of his businesses and stock, which has never been taxed.  That’s how our rigged system works, heirs inherit much of this great untaxed wealth from stock tax free.  It’s time for Congress to end this rigged tax system that grows the fortunes of a few at the expense of the rest of us…As he and his older brother Charles grew their father’s privately-owned conglomerate into one of the most lucrative in U.S. history, they plowed billions of dollars into building a massive right-wing network of think tanks, dark money groups and political infrastructure in key states across the country that brought us the Tea Party in 2010 and Donald Trump as president in 2016.  This, in turn, is what delivered the Trump-GOP tax scam in 2017, which further rigged the tax code in their own favor—and that of scores of their billionaire friends who fuel the right-wing political movement.

“The pay-off from the tax scam is huge for David Koch’s heirs. At the time of his death last week, Koch was worth an estimated $50 billion—making him the 11th richest person in the world.  And now, his heirs will likely receive much of that fortune completely tax free.
“You see, the Kochs (and many other wealthy families) don’t keep their fortunes in cash.  They keep them as shares of businesses they own.  And as those assets rise in value their owners avoid paying any federal income tax until they are sold, which may be never.  

“Think about this for a moment.  In 1982, David Koch was worth just $266 MILLION.  His estate is now worth $50 BILLION-plus.  While Koch Industries has made huge profits over the years and David Koch became fabulously wealthy, he has likely never paid federal taxes on this MASSIVE INCREASE in wealth.  And now, upon his death, neither will his children.  (They may pay some estate tax but it will not apply to the increased value of his untaxed stock and other investments.)  This is how dynasties are born and maintained.  And it’s one of the reasons our schools are underfunded, our roads and bridges are crumbling, and the cost of healthcare continues to skyrocket.” (Frank Clemente, Americans for Tax Fairness, August 29, 2019)

There is at least one honest billionaire that knows who the tax scam is really benefitting, and that is Tom Steyer, currently running for president on the Democratic party.  Here are his own words on the subject of taxes: “As a billionaire, I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m entitled under current Republican law to pay less on my annual taxes than most Americans.  For years, the GOP has claimed that if other wealthy families and I pay less in taxes, magically, everyone else will benefit.  As a former investor, I’ll let you in on another secret: none of that actually works.  I believe that it’s time for a new wealth tax in this country: 1% annually on the wealthiest 0.1% of Americans.  That’s a negligible amount for the richest among us, but will make a massive difference to our country.

“Tax cuts for the richest Americans only benefit the richest Americans.  And it’s not fair to the millions of hard-working people who aren’t worth $32 million.  It means roads aren’t getting fixed, schools aren’t being properly funded, and too many people can’t find affordable housing.  I’ll pay more under my own tax law, and that’s a good thing.  Our country gets stronger when we all do our part, not when the powerful write laws that benefit themselves at the cost of everyone else. 

“As president, I’ll put people first—and that starts with instituting a simple wealth tax that would go a long way in covering the costs of mitigating climate change with clean energy investments, upgrading our voting machines, paying off national student debts, and more.” (Tom Steyer, August 28, 2019)

People’s Action provides us with a perfect summary about the current tax status in America: “America’s very democracy is dying because billionaires amass ever more wealth—and thus ever more political power—while everyone else struggles with less.  Less money.  But, just as importantly, less clout in government.  To preserve a functioning democracy, everyone, including billionaires, must pay a fair share of taxes so that America has the money it desperately needs to address shared priorities, reinvigorate the middle class and repair the social fabric torn by income inequality.  And we need real limits on campaign contributions to stop the nation’s slide from democracy, where many have a voice, to oligarchy, where only the rich are heard.  In a functioning democracy, everyone gets a voice in these kinds of decisions through proper representation and taxation.  Taxes are an obligation for the common welfare.  Everyone contributes a fair share so that the pool is big enough for the people—through their duly elected representatives—to address shared priorities, from national defense to public schools.  But Americans don’t have an equal voice.  And they will never get a just tax policy as along as the rich can buy whatever political policy they want with unchecked campaign contributions and loads of lobbyists.  The U.S. Supreme Court gave the rich this gift—the power to spend unlimited amounts on campaign ads and use corporations to inject unlimited dark money into politics.  The rich have used piles of money to muffle individuals, even large groups of individuals.  Last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg gave $200 million in Facebook stock to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which asserts: ‘A healthy democracy is dependent on all community members influencing public policy decisions that affect their lives and neighborhoods.’  Zuckerberg’s charity isn’t going to make that true nationwide, however. Americans must change the system corrupted by big money.” (Tom Conway, People’s Action, October 15, 2019)



There are many other issues that need to be brought up, each of which deserves more attention than I can give here.  These include the war in Afghanistan, Trump’s wall, fundamentalist religion, stacking the courts, and other issues.  I will be brief in discussing each one, although much more can be added.

The Washington Post’s Afghanistan Papers came as no surprise to anyone familiar with this war and its costs.  The basic conclusion that emerged from the papers is that the war is failing on just about every level.  Despite this, public officials have been lying to the American people for years about what is happening in that country.  They have ignored the fact that the war has cost taxpayers literally trillions of dollars over the years.  The human costs are even worse: Native Afghans have lost their lives, as have thousands of U.S. soldiers.  In December, 2019, Congress voted to continue funding this unwinnable war.  This is typical of the mentality of most politicians who think, despite all evidence to the contrary, that wars will somehow solve all the problems in the world.  They have learned nothing from Vietnam; the Pentagon Papers in that war showed that no amount of military effort could bring peace.  The Afghanistan papers have shown the same thing, but the war establishment in Washington will continue funding this war and ignore its costs.  Admitting they were wrong in the first place is never an option for people of this mindset; Reagan’s comment that Vietnam was a “noble cause” reflects the thinking, or lack thereof, that continues to this day.

To re-focus on the president, one comment of Trump’s should scare every thinking person, and it shows conclusively how unstable he is and why he poses a threat not only to America, but to the entire human race: “I have plans on Afghanistan that if I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth, it would be gone, it would be over in literally 10 days.”  For the first (and hopefully, the last) time in American history, we are led by an unhinged paranoiac who would have no compunction in killing millions of people for no reason other than to display his own mental imbalance.

The brouhaha over Trump’s proposed wall to keep out immigrants continues.  Despite his effort to divert $3.6 billion Defense Department funds for its construction, Judge Haywood S. Gilliam Jr., a California federal judge, ruled against the proposal.  He noted that the president is attempting to use money Congress has already allotted for other purposes.

Trump’s comments about homeless people show where his real priorities and sympathies lie.  People’s Action provides us with one example: “While in California, Trump made a point of denouncing the problem of homelessness, not because of the toll it takes on human beings, but because he sees homeless people as an eyesore for the landed gentry.  ‘We have people living in our best highways, our best streets, our best entrances to buildings,’ he told journalists in between fundraising stops, ‘where people in those buildings pay tremendous taxes, where they went to those locations because of the prestige.’  On Wednesday, Trump announced the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would issue the city of San Francisco a violation because, he argued bizarrely, homeless people there are supposedly polluting the oceans by dropping needles into storm drains.” (Chris Simmons, People’s Action, September 20, 2019)

Vice President Pence is another career liar; his comments about Trump’s wall and the treatment detainees are receiving prove this.  When Democrats Turn Out tells us why: “Vice President Mike Pence toured two facilities along the Texas border on Friday, witnessing firsthand the horrendous conditions immigrants and refugees are subjected to by Customs and Border Patrol.  Reporters accompanying the VP described the conditions as extremely crowded, and the agent in charge of the McAllen facility even admitted that many of those detained had not showered in up to 20 days.

“Despite all of this, Pence took to Twitter after the visit to say that the children and families are receiving ‘excellent care’ and that Democrats are to blame for the overcrowded conditions.  This obfuscation of responsibility and disregard for reality should be shocking, but it’s all too commonplace with this administration.” (When Democrats Turn Out, July 15, 2019) It seems obvious that honest Republicans have become an endangered species—if they are not already extinct.

Trump is still stoking the fires for a war with Iran.  Move.on informs us how he is doing this: “Last week Trump AGAIN escalated us closer to war with Iran—deploying 2,800 troops, two MORE fighter squadrons, and new air and missile defense batteries to Saudi Arabia.  But worse still was his reasoning: the Saudis pay cash.  That’s right, Trump is deciding to accelerate the path to war by hiring out our troops as mercenaries for Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman (MBS)—exactly when the situation with Iran needs de-escalating as much as possible to avoid a full-on war.  Trump is reminding us again and again why war making powers are constitutionally granted to Congress as a whole, not to the dangerous whims of a single individual. 

“Trump’s determination to do everything MBS asks of him is morally reprehensible.  His war in Yemen which, in partnership with the UAE, has created one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world.  The execution and dismembering of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.  The relentless drive to conflict with Iran, no matter the cost.   But Trump doesn’t care because—quote—‘Saudi Arabia has agreed to pay us for everything we are doing to help them.’

“This is how wars begin.  This is how the Vietnam war began.  What starts as ‘assistance and support’ can quickly spiral into full-blown conflict because of self-fulfilling logic of defending troops intentionally put close to harm’s way from attacks they would never have faced had they not been deployed in the first place.  We should NOT be taking any actions that further escalate the situation with Iran—and sending U.S. troops as a mercenary force for MBS is as dangerous as it is ridiculous.” (Stephen Miles, Move.on, October 18, 2019)

In this supposedly enlightened age, we need leaders that place diplomacy over military actions.  We need to re-think our foreign policy and direct confrontation over perceived enemies.  Pointless, unwinnable wars must end and the thinking behind them must be exposed as the threat to world security that it is.  We need an administration that recognizes international law and refuses to cozy up to dictators.  Instead, we ignore the crimes of the United Arab Emirates (to cite but one example) which has killed thousands of civilians in Yemen; in response, the U.S. Open allowed the UAE’s Emirates airline to sponsor its tennis championship.

Fundamentalist religionists tend to be Trump’s most avid supporters.  I have already exposed the nonsense and dangers religious fundamentalism poses to everyone and need not repeat myself here.  Daily Kos provides us with a short summary of what has been going on since July 1: “For the last three years, the religious right has mounted what can only be described as a bullying campaign.  They insist that God hacked the election for Trump, and all efforts to resist him and remove him are driven by the devil.  You would have thought that Mick Mulvaney’s crass admission that the Ukraine affair was a quid pro quo, as well as Bill Taylor’s damning testimony, would have made the fundies back off.  Well, at least two of them have googled down on the crazy.

“First up, Rick Wiles of TruNews.  Just hours after Taylor’s testimony, Wiles warned the Democrats against pushing any further with impeachment.  His explanation, per Right Wing Watch?  If Trump is ultimately removed, some diehard Trump supporters may be mad enough to take matters into their own hands.  No, this isn’t shark.  Wiles claimed that diehard Trumpkins who ‘know how to fight’ are getting sick and tired of the Democrats going after Trump.  He claimed that if the Democrats do manage to dump Trump, these diehards will ‘hunt them down.’  If this isn’t stochastic terrorism, what is?  As I noted at RDTDaily, it can’t be stated enough—this happened mere hours after Taylor’s testimony.

“On Thursday, a slightly less deplorable evangelist, Perry Stone, weighed in.  During his weekly prayer meeting at his church in Cleveland, Tennessee—near Chattanooga—Stone claimed that it’s obvious that the devil hates Trump.  He claimed that it’s equally obvious that many of Trump’s foes are possessed by demons.  Nope, this isn’t snark.  Right Wing Watch got a clip.  Stone claimed that Adam Schiff has the look of someone who’s possessed when he mentions Trump—his eyes ‘grow big as saucers,’ and he looks like he’s ‘having a seizure.’  He claimed that other Democrats are the same way—evidence they’ve been ‘given over to reprobate minds.’  Remember, this was 48 hours after Taylor’s testimony.  Even in the face of the strongest evidence yet that Trump indeed committed high crimes, they’re still bullying people into bowing and praying to the orange god they made.” (Daily Kos, October 29, 2019) All this proves conclusively that these people are living in an alternative universe, where facts aren’t facts, truth is completely subjective to their wishes, and Trump is our nation’s savior.  This illustrates what we secularists mean when we refer to “blind faith.”  Again, there are none so blind as those that will not see.  When was the last time you heard murderous talk like this from a Democrat?

The following chapter will go into more detail about the connection between fundamentalist religion and the new nihilism.

Trump’s foreign policy would be a joke if it weren’t so terrible.  When Democrats Turn Out discusses one part of his policy (assuming he actually has a foreign policy): “Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria and abandon our Kurdish allies is already proving to be an international disaster: Turkey has launched its expected offensive against the Kurds despite sanctions and warnings from Washington, and Russia has emerged as the new power-broker in the Middle East.  That’s right—Trump ceded even more global power over to Putin.

“Now, national security experts are warning that the power vacuum created could lead to the resurgence of ISIS, who the Kurds helped us defeat.  This abandonment of a critical ally in the fight against terrorism sends a chilling message to the rest of the world that the U.S. will only align with you when it serves our interests and abandon you when we grow tired.  This is just another instance of how Trump’s unpredictable and reckless approach to foreign policy and military matters harms this nation and its ability to conduct business in the future.” (When Democrats Turn Out, October 26, 2019)

But there is an even more sinister aspect to Trump’s foreign policy.  Win Without War explains: “The New York Times just dropped a story that in the weeks leading up to the Turkish invasion of northern Syria—Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated his larger ambition: THE ABILITY TO BUILD A NUCLEAR BOMB.  Turkey developing nukes would violate a very very very important international arms control agreement: the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).  And as a NATO ally, that would be a big problem.  But the even bigger problem?  That authoritarian leaders like Erdogan feel they have a green light to break treaties, invade peoples and countries, and undermine their NATO allies.  And a huge reason why authoritarianism is so empowered right now? Donald Trump.

The Trump administration has destroyed international treaties right and left, thrown diplomacy out the window, and shown utter disregard for arms control and nuclear disarmament—from killing the Iran Nuclear Deal to pulling out of the INF treaty.  The Trump administration is simply MAKING THE WORLD LESS SAFE.  
“Trump is creating the nuclear arms race of our lifetimes.  He’s already under investigation for trying to illegally transfer nuke technology to Saudi Arabia.  He’s trying to kill the Iran Nuclear Deal by pulling the U.S. out and imposing crushing sanctions on Iran.  He destroyed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and threatening to kill the New START Treaty, which would blow the lid off any remaining restrictions on Russia’s nuclear arsenal.  He handed Erdogan permission to invade Syria for an ethnic cleansing campaign against Kurds living on the Syrian-Turkish border. 

“And what’s more?  Trump is ALSO on the verge of killing a decades-old arms control treaty called Open Skies—one of the widest-ranging pacts in the world that allows nations like the U.S. and Russia to conduct unarmed flights over one another’s military installations, and have SOME transparency and communication, especially when our governments aren’t getting along. ” (Kate Kizer, Win Without War, October 22, 2019)

Demand Progress summarizes the situation with Turkey and the Kurds thusly: “Imagine you’re Kurdish.  You and your family have been fighting alongside US troops on the frontlines against the Islamic State.  And then, thousands of miles away, Trump gets on the phone with Turkish President Erdogan, and hands your family a death sentence.  Turkey immediately begins bombing with, in a cruel twist of fate, American-made weapons and ammunitions.  That’s what’s happening right now in northern Syria.  Trump turned America’s back to the Kurds, allowing Turkey to attack with American-made weapons.” (Tihi Hayslett, Demand Progress, October 20, 2019) Of course, most Americans have never even heard of the Kurds, so whatever Trump does won’t mean a thing to them.  Mainstream media, where are you?

With regard to Trump’s failure to release his tax returns, the situation has taken some dramatic turns; people have taken to the streets demanding that he release them.  In trying to defend their client from doing so, Trump’s lawyers have come up with some really stupid rationalizations.  Daily Kos explains: “Years after he should’ve voluntarily shared his tax returns with the American people, like every single other president before him, Donald Trump has lost a key court battle in federal court.  In a 75-page ruling, Judge Victor Marrero sided with Manhattan prosecutors who are seeking Donald Trump’s tax returns as part of the investigation into the hush money paid to Stormy Daniels by Michael Cohen, funds that were eventually reimbursed by Donald Trump and/or the Trump Organization.  Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is investigating whether executives at the Trump Organization may have falsified business records related to the hush money payment.  Trump’s attorneys tried to make a case that presidents are immune from criminal investigations, even at the state level.  If that sounds ridiculous, it is!  Trump’s attorneys are basically arguing the president is above the law and even above investigation.  Judge Marrero called Trump’s legal argument ‘repugnant to the nation’s governmental structure and constitutional values.’ 

“As if that legal argument weren’t enough, Trump’s attorneys basically forced Judge Marrero to rule Monday morning, saying that if he didn’t, they would interpret his inaction as they wished and move on it.  From The New York Times: ‘After 9 a.m.,’ Mr. Trump’s lawyer wrote, ‘the president will not have enough time to seek relief from the Second Circuit before Mazars discloses his confidential information.’  Mr. Consovoy said that if no ruling came by 9 a.m. on Monday, the president would interpret the judge’s inaction as a denial of his request to block the subpoena, and he would appeal without waiting for a court decision.  It was a bold stance for Trump’s lawyers to take, and it seems Judge Marrero wasn’t impressed.  
Judge Marrero ordered Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, to turn over tax returns dating back to 2011.  

“Donald Trump isn’t the only person who should be sweating this decision; Donald Trump Jr. was also allegedly involved in the hush money payment.  The clock is ticking for Donald Trump.  His accounting firm may have to start handing over the returns as early as today.” (Jen Hayden, Daily Kos, October 7, 2019)

As I’ve repeatedly said, What is Trump afraid of?  If he has nothing to hide, he should enthusiastically release his tax returns; if he is honest (sure!) he can use this to attack the Democrats.  And of course, the same attorneys that insist the president is above the law and cannot be investigated sang a very different tune when the president was a Democrat.

I discussed ALEC in my previous articles, but an update is needed.  Here is a report from Common Cause: “…our team has agreed: some of the most important upcoming fights for our democracy will happen in the states—not in Washington, D.C.  And one major threat is a group you might not have heard of: ALEC.  ALEC is the acronym for the benign-sounding American Legislative Exchange Council.  Except—it’s anything but benign.  This is a group of lobbyists funded by big corporations, working to ram far-right legislation through state legislatures.  ALEC is responsible for some of the most extreme, ultra-conservative laws passed in the last decade: ‘Stand Your Ground’ gun legislation, racially discriminatory and overly strict voter photo ID laws, rollbacks of environmental protections, and blocking the Affordable Care Act at the state level, among others.

“As I write, ALEC is getting ready for the 2020 legislative sessions in the states—and eyeing even more extreme legislation in states across the country.  Stifling the right to peaceful protest.  Advancing a dangerous Article V Constitutional Convention.  Making it easier than ever to pollute our environment.  We must mobilize to stop them—and defend our civil rights, voting rights, and every other right you and I hold dear.

“ALEC’s member corporations pay top dollar for direct access to state lawmakers—who allow lobbyists to write corporate dream legislation into ALEC ‘model bills.’  Then, ALEC-backed legislators rush those bills through their state houses, churning out laws that enrich corporations and hurt the rest of us.  But we have a plan to stop ALEC—and it’s working.  You see, major companies don’t want to be publicly associated with ALEC’s overwhelmingly unpopular and extreme agenda.  And up until very recently, ALEC has been able to operate from the shadows—quietly pulling the strings to advance their right-wing policies.  But in the past few years, peoples’ groups like Common Cause have exposed ALEC for what it is—and put MAJOR pressure on companies to cut ties with them.  Just this year, three of ALEC’s biggest funders—AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon—responded to our demands by canceling their ALEC membership.  They joined Google, Coca-Cola, and other major companies in a sweeping exodus from ALEC’s toxic brand.” (Jay Riestenberg, Common Cause, October 7, 2019) It is nice to see ALEC running scared.  They have threatened to sue Common Cause and its coalition partners on numerous occasions, but when ALEC’s true colors come out, they quickly retreat back into the shadows.

I discussed rising drug prices in my previous articles.  Here, I will simply add another aspect of corporate greed by quoting People’s Action: “Corporations’ quest for profits is what ‘is driving up drug prices and nothing more.’  That’s according to Dennis Bourdette, M.D., chair of neurology in the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) School of Medicine, who co-authored a study published Monday that sought to find out companies’ rationale for the escalating prices on medications for patients with multiple sclerosis.  Prices for those drugs, an accompanying press release notes, have jumped up by 10% to 15% every year for the past decade.  The study by a team of researchers at OHSU and the OHSU/Oregon State University College of Pharmacy, which appears in the journal Neurology this month, was based on interviews with four current and former pharmaceutical industry executives who had direct involvement in the pricing or marketing of MS drugs.  The executives, who were not named, laid bare the motivating factor for the surges.  ‘I would say the rationales for the price increases are purely what can maximize profit,’ sad one executive.  ‘There’s no other rationale for it, because costs [of producing the drug] have not gone up by 10% or 15%; you know, the costs have probably gone down.’  Such statements, said the researchers, counter the industry’s narrative that the high drug prices are an effort to recoup their research and development costs.  ‘The industry executive said the quiet part out loud,’ said Zain Rizvi, law and policy researcher with Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines project, in a statement to Common Dreams. ‘Price-gouging is central to the industry business model.’” (Lindsay Koshgarian, People’s Action, December 2, 2019)

People all over the country are finally starting to wake up to what Big Pharma is doing to them, as People’s Action reports: “From Connecticut to Washington, New York and West Virginia, People’s Action members rallied across the nation this Tuesday to demand Congress and Trump put #PeopleOverPharma profits.  ‘They’re jacking up these prices, and they’re killing people.  If you don’t take the medicines you need, you die,’ said Steve Derby, a retired engineer from West Hartford, a board member of Connecticut Citizens Action Group, one of the twelve People’s Action member groups that participated in this National Day Of Action.  ‘And if you pay the price, you can’t afford to live.’  The stranglehold big pharmaceutical companies hold over patents also dramatically harms those affected by Hepatitis C.  A once-daily treatment, Harvoni, can cure the disease, but the drug’s maker, Gilead Sciences, charges over $1,000 per pill, or $94,500 for a full course, which many insurance plans refuse to pay.  ‘It’s like a death sentence,’ said Bobby Tolbert, who rallied with other members of VOCAL-NY on the steps of the Trump International Hotel in Manhattan.  ‘People fall through the cracks of the system, because they’re not able to get that treatment.’ (Connie Huynh, People’s Action, August 22, 2019)

The Department of Housing and Urban Development utterly failed in its relief effort for Puerto Rico, devastated by a massive hurricane.  People’s Action reports: “Two top officials with the Department of Housing and Urban Development admitted at a congressional hearing this week that the agency knowingly missed a legally required deadline that would have made desperately needed hurricane relief funding available to Puerto Rico.  HUD’s chief financial officer, Irv Dennis, and David Woll, the department’s principal deputy assistant secretary for community planning and development, made the admission Thursday before a House Appropriations subcommittee.  The two told bewildered lawmakers that the agency missed the congressionally mandated deadline to issue a notice that would have kicked off a months long process to help Puerto Rico get billions in federal housing funds Congress allocated after Hurricane Maria devastated the island in 2017.  ‘HUD did fail to comply with the law,’ said Rep. David Price, D-N.C., said at the hearing.  The housing agency was supposed to issue funding notices to 18 states affected by disasters on Sept. 4.  They published all the notices except Puerto Rico’s.  The publication of the notice would have allowed Puerto Rico to start drafting a plan that would create the structures needed to manage the much-needed funds.” (Alyssa Aguilera, Jeremy Saunders, People’s Action, October 21, 2019) Another crime committed by Trump officials.  As usual, holding these people accountable for their actions, or rather non-actions, will most likely never happen.

Republicans absolutely hate the idea of women having control over their bodies and are consequently rabidly anti-choice.  Their leaders have been trying to overturn Roe v. Wade since it first passed in 1973.  Now that they have a Republican president and Senate, the nuts have come out of the woodwork.  Roe v. Wade Defenders tells us what has happened since the Republican takeover: “Violence against abortion clinics hit a record high in 2018, and this year is even worse.  Shootings, assaults, death threats, break-ins, arsons, and harassment . . . it’s all happening as Donald Trump and Mike Pence attack abortion providers with vicious lies, push abortion bans, and force family planning providers including Planned Parenthood to give up tens of thousands in federal funds.  Extremists are stalking abortion care providers at their homes.  They’re scaling clinic fences and blocking patients from coming and going.  Three different people were arrested for threatening mass shootings at Planned Parenthood clinics in August.   One was found with 25 guns and 10,000 rounds of ammunition.

“The violence simply cannot be separated from the hateful, anti-woman rhetoric accompanying dozens of anti-choice laws passed this year alone in the states, and while family planning providers are still reeling from the effects of Trump’s family planning gag rule, which denies critical Title X funds to any clinic that refers patients to abortion care providers.” (Roe v. Wade Defenders, September 19, 2019)

Fake health clinics are popping up everywhere.  Courage Campaign tells us about these scam operations: “Women are being preyed upon by fake health clinics set up to lie and pressure them into keeping unwanted pregnancies—and now these centers are being funded by the federal government.  Obria Medical Clinics have received $1.7 million in Title X funds, which they use to offer what they claim to be full service reproductive care, except they don’t offer abortion. Instead, they offer ‘abortion pill reversal’—which doesn’t exist.  Obria and other similar centers bill themselves as ‘crisis pregnancy centers.’  They advertise that they reproductive services, but in reality, they lie and shame women into opting out of abortion.  On a website with smiling models wearing stethoscopes, Obria videos play offering answers to questions about ‘sex, fertility, and pregnancy.’  And the site also offers ‘abortion pill reversal,’ a procedure that no medical study has proven viable.  Obria also tells women that being on the birth control pill has been linked to cancer (it hasn’t) and that women need to abstain from sex to learn about their cycle (they don’t). 

“There are crisis pregnancy centers that don’t employ medical professionals, but have their employees dress in scrubs to fool the people who walk through their doors.  Many have established offices next to abortion clinics and then try to steer women away from their clinics into their doors.”  It’s bad enough that Planned Parenthood has lost out on tens of millions of dollars since Trump and Pence upended Title X rules.  Giving that federal money to anti-choice fake health clinics designed to pressure and lie to women is simply unconscionable, and it’s happening. (Courage Campaign, October30, 2019)

The Federal Drug Administration is just as corrupt as all other agencies in the Trump administration.  Public Citizen explains: “The opioid addiction epidemic has taken the lives of more than 400,000 Americans.  Our government should not make the problem worse.  But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to authorize the sale of still more opioid products—without adequately assessing their effectiveness or the possibility (near certainty) that new products will be diverted into illegal trade and make the public health crisis still worse.  Two years ago, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommended the FDA take specific public health considerations into account in its evaluation of new opioids.  But despite lots of hand wringing, the FDA has failed to act.  From 1997 to 2015, the FDA approved 41 new opioid formulations—with more than half of approvals from 2008 to 2017, when the opioid addiction epidemic already was well entrenched and widely acknowledged.

“To take one horrendous example, in 2011, the FDA approved a reformulated version of Opana ER, an extended release opioid, despite evidence that the reformulated version was far more susceptible to intravenous abuse.  Six years later, the drug was pulled from the market — after 2.4 million prescriptions were filled.  More than a quarter of users misused the drug, a rate far above other prescription opioids on the market.  That experience and others should have shaken the FDA to its core.  It did not.  The Hippocratic Oath instructs doctors to do no harm.  It’s not asking too much of the nation’s drug safety agency to do the same.” (Dr. Sidney Wolfe, Public Citizen, September 3, 2019)

People’s Action hits the nail square on the head regarding the opioid crisis and who the real criminals are: “Mexican druglord Joaquín Guzmán Loera was just sentenced to life in prison.  The drug cartel he ruled, a U.S. jury determined, dumped ‘hundreds of tons of drugs to the United States’ and ‘caused the deaths of dozens of people to protect himself and his smuggling routes.’  But John Hammergren dumped far more deathly damage.  Over the years from 2006 through 2012 alone, the corporation Hammergren ran as CEO inundated local communities in the United States with over 14.1 billion highly addictive opioid pills.  In his two decades as CEO of McKesson Corp., Hammergren pocketed around $800 million, and upon his retirement in April, he walked away with a pension package worth an additional $138.6 million.  Opioids helped fuel all of these rewards—and Hammergren had to know it.  In 2007, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration accused McKesson of shipping ‘millions of doses’ of the opioid hydrocodone to shady operators.  Outrageous corporate rewards, like the ones enjoyed by Hammergren and other opioid CEOs, only serve to give top executives an incentive to behave outrageously.” (Sam Pizzigati, People’s Action, July 23, 2019)

Republicans absolutely hate organized labor.  People’s Action tells us how Google is dealing with any “threats” from its employees: “Google’s computers are spying on its workers.  Anytime a Google employee uses an online calendar to schedule a meeting involving more than 100 co-workers, management gets an alert—a great way for the anti-union corporation to sniff out union organizing efforts.  Lots of other employers also would like to put union organizing campaigns under surveillance.  And they’ll have their chance if the National Labor Relations Board gives corporations a free hand to snoop on employees, as two of the board’s right-wing members, John Ring and Marvin Kaplan, evidently want to do.  Ring and Kaplan want to reconsider the longtime ban on labor spying.  It’s a sleazy idea, but typical for these two.  They’re part of a three-member Republican cabal that’s taken over the board and issued a string of decisions eviscerating workers’ rights and giving ever more power to corporations.  Federal law prohibits employers from interfering in workers’ organizing rights.  Right now, that means it’s illegal for corporations to surveil union activists or even give the impression that they’re snooping.  But some companies spy anyway and invent all sorts of excuses when they get caught doing it.  The NLRB’s job is to protect workers, not let employers think that it’s OK to engage in underhanded behavior as long as they don’t get caught.  Ring, Kaplan and the rest of the board have a responsibility to set higher standards, not help employers climb down into the gutter.” (Tom Conway, People’s Action, November 20, 2019)

The Securities and Exchange Commission’s webpage tells us its mission: “The mission of the SEC is to protect investors; maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets; and facilitate capital formation.  The SEC strives to promote a market environment that is worthy of the public’s trust.”  However, like just about every other government entity under Republican control, it has become corrupt.  CREDO Action elaborates: “Wall Street is trying to silence the voices of progressive activists, and Trump’s handpicked Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chair is helping.  Shareholder resolutions have forced Fortune 500 corporations to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, promote transparency, improve racial diversity and confront climate change.  But now, after lobbying from corporate CEOs, the SEC proposed new rules that make activists jump through increasingly difficult hoops in order to introduce and pass shareholder resolutions.  The SEC is supposed to protect people from Wall Street.  It is doing the opposite. 

“In the past, the SEC made sure shareholders—from mom-and-pop investors to the pension funds of teachers and firefighters—can propose and pass resolutions demanding changes from the company they own stock in.  But under the leadership of Trump’s handpicked SEC chair Jay Clayton, the SEC is helping corporations hide their actions and escape accountability from shareholders.  The Sierra Club recently sued the SEC to find out how the watchdog routinely allows corporations to exclude shareholder resolutions that force them to confront climate change.

“Shareholder resolutions are a powerful tool for holding corporations accountable.  Many standard practices today—including banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, allowing shareholders to hold a vote on excessive CEO pay and banning conflicts of interests among board members—began as shareholder resolutions.  And shareholders continue to push corporations to do better on racial and gender diversity, climate change, environmental and labor practices, disclosure of political spending, and far, far more.  The new SEC proposal would help corporations crack down on these shareholder resolutions by limiting who is eligible to submit new ones and rejecting previous resolutions unless they gain immense popularity over a short period of time. It would even give corporations a say in which resolutions to recommend to shareholders—akin to letting Donald Trump edit the New York Times opinion page.” (Heidi Hess, CREDO Action, November 20, 2019)

One major problem is the secret money that is used in election campaigns.  This has been an issue for decades, but under this administration, the Treasury Department is trying to make secret political spending even more secretive and the spenders unaccountable.  Public Citizen tells us: “Organizations that spend undisclosed money in elections are required to tell the IRS the names and addresses of their major donors.  This lets the IRS make sure the contributions don’t violate the law.  But now, the Treasury Department wants to change the rules so that organizations can hide that information unless they’re audited.  This is a blazing signal to bad actors:  Do what you will to our elections, the enforcers are not watching.” (Emily Peterson-Cassin, Public Citizen, December 7, 2019)

Forbes reports another disturbing aspect (as if there weren’t enough already) of Trump’s presidency: “The Trump campaign is spending big money at the president’s properties, according to a review of Federal Election Commission data.  Yet the records show that Donald Trump still has not donated any of his own funds to the campaign.  That means America’s billionaire-in-chief has shifted $1.7 million from campaign donors into his private business.

“Forbes first reported on this arrangement one year ago, when documents showed that Trump’s companies had taken in $1.1 million of campaign-donor money.  By the end of 2018, that figure had climbed to $1.3 million.  Subsequent disclosures show that more than $450,000 flowed into the Trump empire from January to September of this year.

“The biggest beneficiary has been Trump Tower Commercial LLC, which controls the president’s famous Manhattan skyscraper.  Trump still owns the entity, which has accepted $1.2 million in rent from the reelection effort and another $225,000 from the Republican National Committee. Since Trump became president, an estimated 1.6% of the tower’s revenue has come from either the RNC or the reelection campaign. The majority of Trump Tower’s income comes from Gucci, which leases 49,000 square feet of prime retail space on Fifth Avenue for roughly $21 million a year.” (Dan Alexander, Forbes, December 6, 2019)

The National Rifle Association is a tax-exempt organization.  However, Senate Democrats began an investigation into their dealings with Russia and found that this group has been working with Russian nationals desiring access to America’s political system.  It was uncovered that NRA leaders flew to Moscow using NRA funds, which is a clear violation of laws governing nonprofit expenditures.  Tax-exempt nonprofit organizations are simply not allowed to use their funds for personal gain.  Because of this, Senate Democrats have asked the IRS to investigate and hopefully remove the group’s tax exempt status.  To give an example of how the Republican party is utterly beholden to the NRA, I need only point out that this year saw one of the worst mass shootings in Virginia.  That state’s governor called a special session of the legislature to discuss the issue of gun violence.  Unfortunately, but predictably, the legislature, which is dominated by Republicans, took no action whatever.

As ridiculous as it sounds, former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has hatched up a ludicrous scheme to privatize our nation’s public parks.  CREDO Action reports: “Reporters recently uncovered shady plans between the Interior Department and national park profiteers, the RV and hospitality industries, and enemies of public lands to privatize national park campgrounds, allow commercialized food trucks and other services at parks, limit benefits for seniors and increase prices,  This plan would be a massive giveaway to corporate interests and Trump donors who stand to profit from national park privatization.

Bloomberg report sheds light on who is suffering and who is benefitting from Trump’s trade war with China.  It shows that most of the money intended to bailout farmers is instead going to—surprise!—big business.  Another example of this administration’s underhanded efforts to reward their own—at everyone else’s expense.

Trump’s trade war with China is well-explained by When Democrats Turn Out: “Trump’s manufactured trade war with China is a sad attempt to make himself look and feel powerful.  He’s repeatedly shown that he cares about no one but himself and his reputation, which is why he’s so nonchalant about letting hard-working Americans pay the price.  Farmers are worried that they won’t be able to sell their crops, workers are being left behind as jobs dry up, consumers are seeing rising prices, and people across the country are struggling to provide for their families.  American global competitiveness is dwindling as Trump sits on his hands and does nothing but make matters worse.” (When Democrats Turn Out, July 25, 2019)

Anyone who has read this far will know that income inequality is one of the most pressing issues in this country.  People’s Action discusses a proposal from Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders: “Taking aim at the vast inequities produced by America’s business-dominated economic system, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday unveiled a far-reaching proposal that would roll back President Donald Trump’s tax cuts and transfer more power to U.S. workers by giving them seats on corporate boards and ownership shares in their companies.  ‘The establishment tells us there is no alternative to unfettered capitalism, that this is how the system and globalization work and there’s no turning back.  They are dead wrong,’  Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, writes on his website.  ‘The truth is that we can and we must develop new economic models to create jobs and increase wages and productivity across America.’  ‘Instead of giving huge tax breaks to large corporations that ship our jobs to China and other low-wage countries, we need to give workers an ownership stake in the companies they work for, a say in the decision-making process that impacts their lives, and a fair share of the profits that their work makes possible in the first place,’ said the Vermont senator.” (Judith LeBlanc, People’s Action, October 14, 2019 Sanders is certainly correct in his desire to roll back Trump’s tax giveaways for the rich.  However, Sanders is a socialist and blames what he calls “unfettered capitalism” on our country’s economic problems.  But he is wrong; we are assuredly not a capitalist country.  What we have here is a mixed economy.  Adam Smith’s true laissez-faire capitalist ideal has never been practiced here in the United States; since the beginning, we have had government interference in the economy, which keeps Smith’s “invisible hand” from working.

As another example of how more and more businesses are lining their own pockets at the expense of their employees, consider what CREDO Action has to say about DoorDash: “DoorDash is the biggest food delivery company in the country.  It secured nearly $1 billion in funding from elite hedge funds and is valued at $12.7 billion.  It recently bought a rival for over $400 million.  And it is stealing tips from its workers.

“The drivers who deliver food for DoorDash, like most workers in the ‘gig economy,’ are contractors without a living wage, benefits or access to worker’s compensation.  To add insult to injury, DoorDash steals tips, including them as part of the $6.85 base pay for each job.  So if someone tips $3, DoorDash saves $3, and the worker still only gets $6.85.  Under massive pressure from workers and customers, DoorDash promised to revise its policy.  That was more than a month ago, and nothing has changed—and DoorDash has said nothing about providing back pay for stolen wages.  DoorDash drivers are overworked and underpaid with no job security, no minimum wage, no benefits and no safety net.

“Well-funded Silicon Valley companies categorize their workers as freelance contractors to dodge paying a livable wage or providing benefits.  They promise flexibility and a bit of extra income from a ‘side hustle.’  But many gig economy workers are piecing together full-time work from multiple companies with few other options in the wreckage of an economy that works for Wall Street and not workers.

“DoorDash drivers aren’t alone.  Up to three-quarters of all low-wage workers experience some wage theft, and Americans in low-wage jobs lose an estimated average of $2,634 annually to wage theft, out of an average of $17,616 total earnings.  Other gig economy economies, like Instacart, have similar policies to DoorDash.  After a New York Times article in July on its tipping policy sparked a wave of outrage, DoorDash promised changes.  But more than a month later, the company has changed absolutely nothing.  And workers say executives are ignoring demands for back pay to make up for the wages that were stolen.” (Heidi Hess, CREDO Action, August 27, 2019)

Republicans are hard at work trying to rig the 2020 census in their favor.  Common Cause provides the details: “…as we speak, partisan operatives are working around the clock on their three-step plan to rig our democracy:  1) First, they’ll rig next year’s Census, underfunding it and stoking division and fear to keep millions of people—especially poor people and immigrants—from being counted.  2) Next, they’ll use that skewed data to draw rigged districts, zig-zagging across states to give their preferred voters an outsize say and silence everybody else.  3) Then, those unfair maps will let them lock in a decade-long political advantage—winning legislative majorities with a minority of voters and using it to push their extreme agenda.” (Keshia Morris, Census Alert, October 21, 2019)

Republicans also hate dissent, in any form.  Trump himself is paranoid and lives in constant fear of being exposed for what he is.  The right-wing is doing everything in its power to squelch dissent.  People’s Action states: “Conservatives in the U.S. have long sought to reframe grassroots political activism as dangerously radical, but efforts to criminalize protests have rapidly intensified since Donald Trump’s election.  Most recently, Senators Ted Cruz and Bill Cassidy introduced a resolution that names ‘Antifa’ as a ‘domestic terrorist organization.’  ‘This was a move designed to punish dissent against both racist groups and policies of the government,’ David Rose, a member of Portland’s Rose City Antifa, told Truthout.  ‘The senators are attempting to open the door to illegalizing any form of dissent against racist institutions or groups.’  The resolution, S.Res. 279, uses the recent controversy over the clash between right-wing reporter Andy Ngo and protesters in Portland, Oregon, as the impetus to designate antiracist protesters as a criminal operation.  For Cruz, this is sly political posturing—Ngo and his loud right-wing talkosphere made #AntifaTerrorists the key talking point for weeks, as a minor scuffle was transformed into a nationwide threat in the popular imagination.” (Justin Vest, People’s Action, August 12, 2019)

Some of the ideas that pop into Trump’s head are so far-fetched and ridiculous that they would be funny were they not coming from the president of the United States.  When Democrats Turn Out tells us of one of these gems: “Our commander-in-chief, the person responsible for taking us to war and defending the country, has decided that he wants to use nuclear weapons against hurricanes to disrupt them and stop them from making landfall.  You read that right.  Trump wants to drop nukes on hurricanes.  NOAA, the government’s weather service, has said this is a horrific idea for a range of reasons, including that it won’t do anything to stop the storms and will just spread toxic radiation.  This hypocritical and delusional approach to science is Trump’s m.o.—to nuke nature and ignore the experts, just like how he ignores the science on climate change and wants to destroy the environment.  While world leaders were meeting at the G-7 summit to deal with the climate crisis, Trump was nowhere to be found except on Twitter.” (When Democrats Turn Out, September 27, 2019) By now, it should be obvious that the man is completely unhinged mentally.

“Trump is a successful businessman!” say his supporters.  I have refuted that nonsense in previous articles.  Here, I will add that his businesses were able to survive because he made a habit out of refusing to pay his contractors and declared bankruptcy in order to escape paying his bills.  As president, he is doing exactly the same thing.  CREDO Action elaborates: “Trump’s campaign events are cesspools of hatred—chants of ‘lock her up’ and ‘send her back,’ racist slurs and threats against protestors—that resemble hate-group rallies more than they do traditional campaign events.  On top of it all, they also cost American cities tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Each time Trump comes to town, cities have to shell out extra money for infrastructure, security and police overtime—and the Trump campaign never pays them back.  Trump owes El Paso alone $569,000 for his rally following the horrific shooting there earlier this year.  His campaign owes $530,000 to Minneapolis, $211,000 to Albuquerque, $84,000 to Tucson, $65,000 to Spokane, and between $8,000 and $64,000 to other cities across the country.  The unpaid debt pales in comparison to the hundreds of millions his campaign is raking in from corporate interests and Wall Street financiers, and it will only grow as we move into 2020.  

“In Minnesota, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey attempted to take a stand and demand the Trump campaign pay upfront for the extra costs associated with his visit.  The campaign lashed out, accusing him of being a leftist member of the resistance, and Trump took to Twitter to attack him.” (Heidi Hess, CREDO Action, November 18, 2019)

One of the favorite lies Trump supporters insist on repeating ad nauseam is how well the economy is supposed to be doing.  I have exposed this nonsense in an earlier article, but will summarize by quoting People’s Action: “Donald Trump and his enablers are hoping that a strong economy will help the American people look past the damage they are doing to the country.  That’s why Trump is constantly crowing about job numbers and the stock market in order to paint a rosy picture of the economy.  But when you look closer, the numbers reveal a very different story about Trump’s economy.  One: Wages are still stuck.  The median annual earnings of full-time wage and salaried workers in 1979, in today’s dollars, was $43,680. The median earnings in 2018 was $45,708.  So much for the $4,000 pay raise Trump and Republicans in Congress promised when they cut taxes for the wealthy and corporations.  Two: The percent of people with jobs is low.  While the unemployment rate is low, employment is not nearly as good as it may look when you consider how many people have given up looking for jobs.  The labor-force participation rate—the percent of working-age Americans with jobs—is the lowest it’s been since the late 1970s, when wives and mothers first began streaming into paid work to prop up family incomes.  Three: Many people are working part-time jobs.  Nearly 4 million Americans are stuck in part-time jobs, unable to find full-time jobs.  Many of these part-time gigs are either freelance or contract, offering fewer rights and benefits.  In turn, this has increased economic insecurity for millions of families.” (Adrienne Evans, People’s Action, September 25, 2019) Put simply, Trump’s economy is hurting working people and making it much harder for most Americans to make ends meet.

Republicans go positively berserk over abortion.  Their concern for babies is as follows: Get them born, get them baptized, and then—forget about them.  Republicans have been eminently successful in shutting down abortion clinics all across the nation, and replacing them with “faith-based” groups that won’t perform abortions and try to convince the expectant mother to carry her baby to term.  They are positively underhanded in this, as Seeding Sovereignty proves: “Since 2014, the Obria Group, a California faith-based nonprofit affiliated with Obria Medical Clinics, has been masquerading as a healthcare group, and now has begun expanding its network of fake, anti-abortion centers to become a national chain.  We have all learned that because of Trump’s ‘gag rule’ Planned Parenthood and other clinics will no longer have access to Title X Funds.  Even scarier: Who’s receiving those funds.  Meet Obria.

“Since 2014, the Obria Group, a California faith-based nonprofit affiliated with Obria Medical Clinics, has been masquerading as a healthcare group, and now has begun expanding its network of fake, anti-abortion centers to become a national chain.  These Obria ‘health centers’—like thousands similar to them across the country—are created to confuse and manipulate pregnant people with the goal of preventing them from learning about or accessing abortion services.  Not only do their ‘clinics’ give false info about abortion, but they also refuse to provide evidence-based contraceptive choices to their patients, including oral contraceptives, IUDs, or condoms—the very tools that help prevent unplanned pregnancy and abortion!
“Who’s funding Obria? You are!
“What is Title X?  Title X is a crucial government program that, since 1970, has helped 4 million low-income Americans access hormonal birth control, family planning services, and reproductive health care.  This year, the Trump administration made extreme changes to the program which allows Obria to qualify for federal ‘family planning’ funding.  In 2019, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded $1.7 million to Obria in Title X funding and an additional $1.7 million for each of the grant’s subsequent two years.
“How can a ‘women’s health center’ that opposes basic contraceptive methods provide comprehensive family planning services?  It can’t.  This means that HHS is now denying funds to legitimate health care providers like Planned Parenthood because they provide abortions or abortion referrals, and redirecting that money to Obria.  These anti-abortion centers, run by groups like Obria, aim to replace Planned Parenthood clinics and leave millions of LGBTQ folx, Black people and other people of color, low-income, and rural Americans without access to reproductive health care.    As of April 2019, Obria Group’s website boasts 35 Obria ‘affiliate clinics,’ 22 Obria ‘clinics’ ‘in process’ and at least seven Obria ‘clinic inquiries’ across the United States.  They plan to expand to more than 1,000 sites by 2021.  This will have a devastating impact disproportionately on poor women and folx of color.

“Anti-birth control, anti-abortion women’s health centers should NEVER receive Title X funding. No federal funding should go to groups that withhold information, lie, and promote completely bogus services like ‘abortion reversal.” (Seeding Sovereignty, September 23, 2019) Whatever happened to the traditional Republican mantra about getting government “off our backs?”

The LGBTQ community is a favorite target of the right-wing.  A transgender writer for People’s Action describes what this community faces on a daily basis: “Are you a woman?  Imagine if you were fired for wearing a skirt to work.  Are you a man?  Imagine getting fired for not wearing a skirt to work.  This sounds ridiculous, right?  It sounds unfair.  But for many Americans, it’s a reality we must face every day.  In 29 states, there are no protections against workplace discrimination of this sort for transgender people like me.  My employer could fire me at will, just because I’m transgender.  I could also be denied housing, credit, or public accommodations.  The court will soon decide whether firing someone because they’re transgender constitutes discrimination ‘on the basis of sex,’ which would be illegal under the Civil Rights Act.  The Trump administration has argued that the Civil Rights Act doesn’t protect people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.  But advocates have countered that it does apply, since discrimination along these lines punishes people who defy stereotypes attached to their assigned sex.  It’s no exaggeration to say the Supreme Court’s ruling will have a drastic material impact on the millions of transgender people living in the United States.  With the court’s current right-wing majority, that’s a real danger.  But Congress could address it by explicitly legislating anti-discrimination protections—for the workplace, housing, credit, and everything else—for this vulnerable group.  In fact, the House of Representatives has already passed the Equality Act, which would clearly codify the inclusion of gay, lesbian, transgender, and non-binary people in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  However, the GOP-controlled Senate has refused to consider it.  Without this legislation, the rights of millions of Americans like me are at the mercy of this Supreme Court.  No matter how the court rules, it’s the responsibility of Congress to ensure that ‘freedom and justice for all’ includes transgender Americans, too.” (Theo Wuest, People’s Action, October 10, 2019) What Wuest does not mention is the underlying source for this discrimination: Fundamentalist religion.  There is no other reason for discriminating against this community other than the belief that it conflicts with their religious beliefs.  The case involving the baker who refused service to a gay couple (discussed in a previous article) is a case in point: Remove religion from the equation and you remove the source of anti-LGBTQ bigotry.  More on this in the next chapter.

CREDO Action describes the homophobic bigotry of several corporations masquerading as being “open” to all: “AT&T, T-Mobile, Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Dell are collectively responsible for donating over $5 million to homophobic and hateful politicians.  While these corporations plaster rainbow flags on their products and brag about their commitment to ‘equality and diversity’ in the workplace, they are also on the frontlines of funding Trump’s war on LGBTQ people.  Not only are they profiting from their purported commitment to equality, but they are using those profits to dismantle hard-fought civil rights.  

“AT&T claims to be committed to equality and inclusion in the workplace, yet between 2017 and 2018, it donated $2,755,000 to 193 anti-gay politicians pushing extremist legislation that rolls back years of hard-fought civil rights.  Since 2010, AT&T’s corporate PAC has thrown tens of thousands of dollars to Rep. Jim Jordan, one of the nation’s top anti-LGBTQ bigots who is actively undermining LGBTQ protections and promoting discrimination.  Jordan defended bans on same-sex marriages and led the effort to block marriage equality from being recognized in Washington, D.C.  Rep. Brian Babin criticized an Obama-era policy on gender-neutral bathrooms in schools by promoting transphobic ideologies and got $15,000 total from AT&T, Microsoft, Amazon and Dell.  AT&T, T-Mobile, Amazon, Microsoft and Google donated tens of thousands of dollars to Rep. Steve King who successfully led a campaign to recall three state Supreme Court justices who ruled in favor of same-sex marriage in Iowa.  These companies even gave money to Sen. Ted Cruz who recently introduced legislation that would make discrimination on the basis of sexuality and gender identity legal.  This is unacceptable from companies that claim to stand with and fight for the LGBTQ community.  In response to pressure from the public about its political gifts, AT&T stated that its PACs are ‘guided by our core values and candidates’ positions that impact AT&T’s business.’  It could not be any clearer that AT&T’s corporate interests are not in line with its purported core values of ‘diversity and inclusion’—and that these companies are willing to support politicians and positions that harm the very employees and customers they claim to stand with.  These corporations must stop pretending to be allies of the LGBTQ community while bankrolling homophobic and hateful politicians.” (Thais Marques, CREDO Action, July 20,2019)

The Justice Department is profoundly anti-justice when it comes to the LGBTQ community.  Daily Kos exposes their latest shenanigans: “The Justice Department filed an amicus brief Friday aimed at reversing the trend of lower courts interpreting existing federal law to prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.  The brief argued that the ban on ‘sex’ discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect gay, lesbian, and bisexual workers from bias because it was not the original intent of lawmakers when they passed the legislation.  The administration filed the briefs in two cases to which it was not a party.  In other words, the Justice Department went out of its way to argue for the right of businesses to discriminate against LGB workers.  

“The department also filed a motion seeking time to make oral arguments before the High Court next month when the case is heard, reports BuzzFeed’s Dominic Holden.  The motion argued that the ‘United States has a substantial interest’ in resolving whether Title VII covers sexual orientation, or more to the point, it has a substantial interest in clearing the way for religious conservatives to target people based on their sexual orientation.  The move follows on a brief from the department last week in which government lawyers argued transgender workers were also not protected by the civil rights statute, claiming that the prohibition on sex discrimination only pertains to ‘biological sex.’” (Kerry Eleveld, Daily Kos, August 23, 2019)

In July, 2019, the White House announced the formation of a new committee, one with a benign sounding name.  Progressive Majority tells us not to be fooled by the name: “Last month, the Trump administration formed the Commission on Unalienable Rights. This is an advisory committee with the sole purpose of reviewing ‘the role of human rights in American foreign policy.’  This committee is made up of extremist right-wing zealots with track records of strong opposition to LGBTQ rights and the right to choose.  GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, has called the commission a ‘farce’ and said that it ‘further illustrates the bold-faced anti-LGBTQ agenda of this administration.’  The formation of the Commission on Unalienable Rights is now the Trump administration’s 117th attack against the LGBTQ community since the inauguration.” (Progressive Majority, August 6, 2019) Anyone who thinks the Trump administration is concerned for the welfare of the LGBTQ community is completely deluded as to its real agenda.

Daily Kos ran another article of interest to the LGBTQ community: “Remember Kim Davis?  She’s the Rowan County Clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses because she opposed same-sex marriage.  She became something of a conservative icon back in 2015, especially after she went to jail for a few days for contempt.  Davis, who lost her reelection bid as Rowan County Clerk is now retired, and the couples involved are now married.  But for Kentucky, this ordeal is far from over.  In fact, Kentucky now owes a pretty $225,000 because of Davis refusing to issue marriage licenses.” (Marissa Higgins, Daily Kos, August 25, 2019) Sometimes these issues do have happy endings!




Republicans don’t want an educated citizenry.  And, they are succeeding in their efforts to make the country dumber and more gullible.  Religious fanaticism is exactly what the Republicans want; along with this, some really kooky ideas are emerging, or re-emerging.  One of these is the flat-earth scenario.  Daily Kos discusses this long discredited idea and how it is making a comeback in our supposedly enlightened age: “A YouGov survey of more than 8,000 American adults suggested last year that as many as one in six Americans are not entirely certain the world is round, while a 2019 Datafolha Institute survey of more than 2,000 Brazilian adults indicated that 7% of people in that country reject that concept, according to local media.  One in Six American adults.  One in six.  Good grief!  It appears to be more popular among Christianist theonomist born again religious zealots than with anybody else.  You might wonder how this could happen, but you see if you are certain that an omniscient, revelatory, omnipotent, honest, perfect God told you something and you are certain that you understood what that God told you, then you are obligated to do mental gymnastic of the highest order, earning tens even from stingy judges.  These people are the most literal interpreters of their Bible that exist on Earth.  Metaphorical (seemingly metaphorical to my mind in any event) language that refers to the four corners of the Earth I suppose must be their ‘proof text’ which is viewed as a poor way of creating a systematic theology from the Bible by most scholars.” (Daily Kos, November 17, 2019)

It must be said that those who insist the Bible is absolutely true in everything it says are the most consistent of believers.  Those who say they believe in the Bible, but that it shouldn’t be interpreted literally are the ones who must rationalize away the nonsense contained between its covers.  So realistically, there are only two options: one can believe or one can think.  It is obvious which path the flat earthers and religious fundamentalists have chosen.

Trump is as much a hypocrite on religion as he is on everything else.  When Democrats Turn Out provides yet another example: “On Monday, Trump went before the U.N. to announce new initiatives promoting ‘religious freedom’ and countering religious persecution.  This coming from the same president who immediately enacted a Muslim Ban as soon as he came into office.  This coming from the same president who wants to allow companies to fire workers if they don’t practice the same religion.  This coming from the same president who wants to allow discrimination against LGBTQ people because of ‘religious beliefs.’” (When Democrats Turn Out, September 25, 2019) I have already discussed what the Republicans mean when they talk about “religious freedom” in my earlier articles.  I will sum it up again simply by saying that what it really means is that religious people should have the “freedom” to discriminate against anyone they think offends their religious beliefs.  Suffice it to say that their definition of the word “freedom” is at odds with most people’s understanding of the word.

However, there is another angle to the Republican party and fundamentalist religion.

The scariest thing about what has happened since Trump assumed the presidency is that, despite everything he has done and is doing, he still maintains unwavering support among his devoted followers.  There has to be a psychological angle to this, and Daily Kos discusses this unnerving fact.  What follows is the longest quote I’ve used, but the amazing article you are about to read hits the nail right on the head: “For many of us, after enduring nearly three years of this Kafkaesque nightmare known as the Trump presidency, the most disturbing thing has not been the seemingly endless outpouring of willful malevolence, deliberate incompetence, and intentional cruelty that Trump and his Republican lackeys have inflicted on the nation.  Rather, it’s the fact that so many of our fellow citizens enthusiastically supported, voted, and will continue to support and vote for him.  Worse, some of them loudly applaud while our collective, hard-earned institutions slowly fester, turning rankputrid, and finally rotten under his ‘leadership.’  We have seen whole segments of the U.S. population leaping at the chance of chaining themselves to the mast of complete moral bankruptcy or nihilism, while gleefully cheering on acts of barbaric cruelty and hideous indifference.  The same ordinary Americans who we previously assumed possessed at least some degree of moral character or decency, but who have now, suddenly, shown us how easily those fictions can be abandoned and casually tossed away.

“We have to ask: What happened to these people?  Was it bad parenting?  Was it some undisclosed trauma, some toilet training mishap at a tender age that triggered this wholesale fatalism?  It’s hard to believe that even the most partisan among them have absolutely no inkling what they have wrought over the last three years, as this country devolves morally and strategically (now on almost a daily basis) under an onslaught of disrespect from a president who shows nothing but contempt for historical norms of civility, our international alliances, or the rule of law.  What could have caused so many Americans to throw out their moral compasses, to be reduced to taking satisfaction solely in seeing everything they grew up to respect be destroyed?  As pointed out by Harry Cheadle at VICE, it’s reminiscent of that quote by Alfred in The Dark Knight, describing the pathological Joker: What could have resulted in a population so embittered, aloof, and indifferent to others that they ‘just want to watch the world burn?’  
“A unique study that flew under the radar last year was honored just last week with an award by the American Political Science Association. Conducted by three political scientists in Denmark and the U.S., it goes a long way toward explaining where we now find ourselves as a nation, and what Americans have become.  According to a recent study, wanting to watch the world burn is a frighteningly common feeling—and it might explain a lot about the political instability America and the world are grappling with.  Titled, ‘A Need for Chaos’ and he Sharing of Hostile Political Rumors in Advanced Democracies,’ the study originally set out to simply examine why people spread hostile, often knowingly untrue, political information over the Internet.  The study’s researchers suspected one reason was that in a politically polarized environment, it was simply much more attractive and likely for political partisans to share damaging information about their perceived opponents, whether it was true or not.  And that would seem to make sense, right?  Everyone likes to spread bad news about their political opponents.
“But what the study found was more complex, and far more disturbing.  (T)he paper’s authors favor a much more disturbing conclusion: The impulse to share hateful rumors ‘are associated with ‘chaotic’ motivations to ‘burn down’ the entire established democratic ‘cosmos’… This extreme discontent is associated with motivations to share hostile political rumors, not because such rumors are viewed to be true but because they are believed to mobilize the audience against disliked elites.’
“In other words, these people gravitate to and spread propaganda they may know is false, simply because they have an amorphous, probably undefinable, intent to destroy—to ‘bring everything down.’  So dissatisfied are they with their own existences that they latch on to these computer-generated ‘memes,’ these social media-hyped lies, for the most part, because they want to do damage and harm to others they perceive as more powerful, more privileged, more favored—and thus more important—than themselves.
“As explained by Thomas Edsall, writing for The New York Times:
[The studies’ authors] find that those who meet their definition of having a ‘need for chaos’ express that need by willingly spreading disinformation.  Their goal is not to advance their own ideology but to undermine political elites, left and right, and to ‘mobilize others against politicians in general.’  These disrupters do not ‘share rumors because they believe them to be true.  For the core group, hostile political rumors are simply a tool to create havoc.’
“In the past, chaos-seekers were on outer edges of politics, unable to exercise influence. Contemporary social media—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and so on—has empowered this constituency, providing a bullhorn to disseminate false news, conspiracy theories and allegations of scandal to a broad audience.  Examples include the lunacy of the Comet Pizza story (a.k.a. Pizzagate), the various anti-Obama birther conspiracies and Alex Jones’s claim that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 20 children dead was a ‘complete fake’ staged by the government to promote gun control.
“And that is the best explanation for a good chunk of Trump’s unwavering ‘base’ of support, the kind that will support him no matter what acts of degeneracy he inflicts on the American republic.  They may even fancy themselves ‘Evangelical Christians’ or claim some other affiliation, but what they really amount to is a group of piqued, jealous, vindictive, and thoroughly self-absorbed folks who aren’t satisfied with their lot in life and are looking for any way to make someone else suffer for it.  It may very well have something to do with the ‘awesome’ lives of other people they see on TV, their smartphones and their desktops, every single day. 
“How did the researchers from Denmark’s Aarhus University as well as Philadelphia’s Temple University, determine this?  They took a survey sample of 6,000 people through six surveys, from both Denmark (a fairly nonpolarized nation) and the U.S., based on their responses to the following (example) questions:  1) I fantasize about a natural disaster wiping out most of humanity such that a small group of people can start all over.  2) I think society should be burned to the ground.  When I think about our political and social institutions, I cannot help thinking ‘just let them all burn.’  We cannot fix the problems in our social institutions, we need to tear them down and start over.  3) Sometimes I just feel like destroying beautiful things.
“Here is what they found:
“What the researchers found is that after controlling for gender, age, education level, and ideology, NFC [Need for Chaos] was strongly correlated with a willingness to spread hostile rumors online.  Younger, less educated men were more likely to have a strong [Need for Chaos], as were people who were lonely and perceived themselves as lacking social status.  NFC is associated with support for Donald Trump and, more weakly, with support for Bernie Sanders.  Which makes sense. Both Trump and to a lesser, and in a qualitatively different way, Sanders offered the 2016 electorate—including all the susceptible, alienated and disenchanted folks who comprise it—a radical departure from the norm, giving voice to sentiments that had probably been bubbling in their followers’ heads for quite a long time.
“The responses to three of the statements in particular were ‘staggering,’ the paper says: 24 percent agreed that society should be burned to the ground; 40 percent concurred with the thought that ‘When it comes to our political and social institutions, I cannot help thinking ‘just let them all burn’ ; and 40 percent also agreed that ‘we cannot fix the problems in our social institutions, we need to tear them down and start over.’
“Got that? All told, 40% of their cross-section of respondents expressed agreement with positions in support of the total destruction of American society.  And a large number of those people likely voted for Donald Trump, according to the researcher himself, Michael Bang Petersen, as Edsall reports.
“In an email, Petersen wrote that preliminary examination of the data shows ‘that the ‘need for chaos’ correlates positively with sympathy for Trump but also—although less strongly—with sympathy for Sanders.  It correlates negatively with sympathy for Hillary Clinton.’ (After publication of this column, Petersen asked to clarify his comment.  ‘The information given in the above quote,’ he said, ‘solely reflected an initial interpretation of a preliminary analysis, which is not part of the research on which the column is based.’)
“As Edsall notes, this phenomenon of ‘chaos voters’ also helps to explain recent Republican attitudes disfavoring higher education, as well as science, as well as Trump’s deliberate introduction of such chaos-inducing, disruptive attitudes such as white supremacy, authoritarianism, and racism into the American political discourse.  The intense hostility to political establishments of all kinds among what could be called ‘chaos voters’ helps explain what Pew Research and others have found: a growing distrust among Republican voters of higher education as well as empirically based science, both of which are increasingly seen as allied with the liberal establishment.  The researchers do admit that there is some degree of limitation to their findings.  [T]his study provides insights into the kinds of thoughts and behaviors that people are motivated to entertain when they sit alone (and lonely) in front of the computer, answering surveys or surfing social media platforms.  But, as pointed out by Cheadle, that’s really all that matters when it comes to spreading hateful, lie-filled memes.  It’s the easiest thing in the world: You don’t have to do much more than click.  ‘In an age of fake news and hostile political rumors, system-defeating behavior does not take much more than that.  A few chaotic thoughts that leads to a few clicks to retweet or share is enough.’
“One share or retweet can echo across multiple forums to multiple like-minded individuals, over and over again, exponentially, all while reinforcing these sentiments.  That means these attitudes of nihilism and destruction can become widespread, even ‘viral,’ going farther than in any other time in history.
“The study still doesn’t address that important question of what actually happened to these people to cause this epidemic of nihilism.  It wasn’t ‘economic anxiety,’ or ‘racism.’  ‘Neither of those things in and of themselves would make a person want to go out and destroy the world for the sake of destroying it.  Perhaps the best explanation is that they were always around, but they now wield an outsized influence because of the Internet.  There is also a sick synergy between nihilism and disruptive populism that began with Trump but is only going to grow worse over time.

Whatever the reason, it’s been a dispiriting experience for anyone who grew up with expectations of living out one’s life in a decent country, with decent neighbors, in decent communities, only to be forced to face the reality that at this point in time, nearly half of the voting American population, statistically, is positively reveling in the destruction being wrought by Trump, having rationalized it, justified it to themselves or otherwise made their peace with it.  And worse, that this toxic, spreading, nihilistic worldview carries all of our fates—and potentially the fate of the world—along with it.” (Dartagnan, Daily Kos, September 14, 2019)

This groundbreaking article shows how the mindset of many, if not most, of Trump’s supporters minds actually work.  However, it only mentions fundamentalist Christianity in passing, which is a mistake; understanding the fundamentalist mindset is crucial to understanding the people the Kos article refers to.  Although I have covered this issue in detail in earlier articles (and I have literally dozens of other articles relating to religion which interested readers can find on the main page of my blog), I will simply note here that those who believe that their holy book is the absolute word of a god and is to literally believed in all its pronouncements will naturally believe we are currently living in the “end times” as Revelation, the final book in the Bible, describes.  People of this mindset have imagined themselves to be living in the “end times” since the time of the Bible’s first appearance.  Much wailing, gnashing of teeth, fire and brimstone, and a “final battle” of good vs. evil (of course, believers fancy themselves to be among the ‘good’) is necessary to bring about eternal bliss.  In their own deluded minds, religious fundamentalists somehow think that if they can somehow bring about this final battle, their rewards in the imagined “next life” will be all the greater.  So when Donald Trump and the Republican party set about destroying the country, they applaud because they think it has all been predicted in their alleged “holy book” some two thousand years ago.  In the same way that they think good behavior on earth will guarantee them eternal life in heaven, likewise they believe that what this administration is doing will help bring an end to the “chaos” they see in the world and bring about the paradise they dream about.  The fact that this “paradise” can only come about through death and destruction doesn’t faze them in the least.

Which is why religion needs to be exposed as the nonsense it is.  One can either be a rationalist who recognizes human reason as the only way to address issues and solve problems, or one can spend his/her life in imagined subservience to a celestial being who demands unquestioned loyalty.  Disdain for life is a key characteristic of this mindset; these people view life on earth as a trial to be endured before enjoying eternal bliss.  But this life on earth is the only one we have; what follows, discomforting as it may be for true believers, is not eternal bliss but death.  Thus, religions elevate death above life.  And that is evil.

It is not too far fetched to posit that these people somehow see in Donald Trump a reflection and embodiment of the deity they profess to love and worship.  He too demands complete loyalty from everyone.  He too wants to destroy anyone who disagrees with him.  He too has no problem with untold death and destruction.  Then too, the fire referred to in the Kos article has its origin in Revelation which, in believer’s twisted minds, somehow becomes a necessary good rather than something innately evil.  The parallels are so obvious it is hard to imagine how anyone cannot see them unless totally blinded by the false promises of religion.

Faith in the Bible is disturbingly akin to faith in Trump; since neither faith was arrived at by reason, believers are not to be dissuaded from their faith by “mere” reason.  It is a waste of time trying to be logical with these people.  If religion is a crutch, then you won’t be able to “cure” believers by kicking away the crutch; they will only hold on to it for dear life.

Yet another angle to this is the anger bordering on hysteria that is increasingly becoming part of what used to be civil discourse.  This profound anger, manifested in hysterical behavior and utter disdain for perceived opponents, has arisen in society in direct proportion to the arrival of the alt-right and the resurgence of fundamentalist religion.  Psychologically, this is easy to explain: People become loudly defensive and angry when they are forced to defend a position that was not arrived at rationally.  No one believes in a god because they were impressed by the first cause rationalization or any other rationalization offered up in defense of their faith; the faith comes first and the rationalizations afterward.  Always.

Daily Kos discusses the cult of Donald Trump.  Noting that: “Trump shares the characteristics of cult leaders such as Adolph Hitler, Jim Jones, and David Koresh,” the article quotes writer Chris Hedges who points out the parallels: “Cult leaders are narcissists.  They demand obsequious fawning and total obedience.  They prize loyalty above competence.  They wield absolute control.  They do not tolerate criticism.  They are deeply insecure, a trait they attempt to cover up with bombastic grandiosity.  They are amoral and emotionally and physically abusive—All those outside the cult are branded as forces of evil, prompting an epic battle whose natural expression is violence.  Donald Trump has transformed the decayed carcass of the Republican Party into a cult—Trump did not create the yearning for a cult leader.  Huge segments of the population, betrayed by the established elites, were conditioned for a cult leader.  Domestic terrorism and nihilistic violence are the natural outcomes of the economic, social and political stagnation, the total seizure of power by a corporate cabal and oligarchic elite, and the contamination of civil discourse by cult leaders.” (Daily Kos, August 30, 2019)

Trumpism is America’s newest religion, although in its essentials it long predates him.  Fundamentalist in origin and outlook, it allows for no dissent from its ranks.  The principles of fair exchange of ideas, compromise, and civil discourse are utterly foreign to those of this mindset.  Liberals and Democrats are the enemy, much as Satin is the enemy in fundamentalist Christianity.  The Constitution means nothing to them unless their leaders say otherwise, and then it is subject to their interpretation.  Trumpists wrap themselves in the flag in the same way that Christians sport their crucifixes.  They portray themselves as patriots, super-Americans while in fact it is they  who are as profoundly un-American as it is possible to be.

Since it is pointless arguing with them (the rationalist who tries is the one who will wind up with a headache), the only way for rational people to deal with the crises they are creating is to marginalize them.  All voters should be required to pass a basic competency/intelligence/critical thinking test.  Since they support a fascist dictator and other fascist leaders in their party, the Republican party itself must be attacked and exposed for what it is.  Its leaders must be brought to trial and, when found guilty, sent to prison.  In the past, traitors have been subject to death, but that need not be the case: life in prison would certainly be an appropriate fate for those who have betrayed the country and all it stands for.

Trumpists, like fundamentalist Christians, want to bring about utter destruction and death because they hold the false hope of eternal life.  Rationalists recognize that earth is the only home we will ever have, and if we destroy it, we destroy ourselves.  Beliefs in pie in the sky rewards are childish and destructive, and it is high time that the human race recognizes this.  Our very survival depends on it.




Let’s try and put together all the things we’ve discussed to see the traits common to almost every Trump supporter:  1) They tend to be Republican extremists;  2) They are indifferent to the climate threat;  3) They are overtly hostile toward anything remotely resembling liberalism;  4) They are overtly hostile toward evolutionary theory;  5) They are indifferent about claims of racism and often try to paint liberals as the real racists;  5) They believe just about anything Republican leaders say;  6) They also accept as gospel anything that comes from Fox News and that mainstream news organizations have a bias against them;  7) They look back on the 1950s as an imagined “golden age” while expressing hostility toward the decade that followed;  8) They hate anything they imagine to be socialist;  9) They tend to be less educated than their Democratic counterparts;  10) When one of their leaders is exposed or questioned in any way, they attack the questioner;  11) They are indifferent to the lies of their leaders;  12) They tend to support war efforts and are indifferent to the costs;  13) They believe in wildly unproven conspiracy theories;  14) They believe that poor people are poor because of their own failures and/or laziness;  15) They tend to never read books or articles that contradict their beliefs;  16) They tend to be extremely xenophobic;  17) They still believe in the discredited Reaganomics scams like the trickle-down theory;  18) They hate for women to have control over their own bodies;  19) They support increasing money for the military;  20) They tend to be hostile toward the LGBTQ community and in particular marriage equality;  21) They tend to believe that immigrants are destroying this country;  22) And, most of all, they tend to be religious fundamentalists, usually Christian fundamentalists.  And Trump fundamentalists.

One obvious fact has emerged from the Mueller report and from Republican voter suppression: Donald Trump and the Republicans don’t want Americans to decide our elections.  Russia, China, yes, but Americans, no.

It is crystal clear what Republicans do want.  They want to be in charge, with unquestioned power over everyone.  Simply put, they want an American Reich.  Daily Kos pulls no punches on this: “These people want unlimited, unfettered, unrestrained, unaccountable power.  They want this power to enrich themselves, enrich their friends, maintain their social status, and forcibly impose their so-called ‘values’ on everyone else.  These people do not—DO NOT—believe in the principles on which a democratic republic rests.  In fact, they emphatically reject them as ‘mob rule.”  Being ‘conservatives’ (a word the meaning of which has been utterly distorted), they advocate the same things American conservatism has always advocated: rule by a small group of wealthy white men…They will use ANY tactic.  They will threaten us with ‘Second Amendment solutions.’  They will encourage hatred and egg on violence.  They will keep the guns flowing to obtain NRA money and reward gun manufacturers for contributions, consequences be damned.  They will lie.  And lie.  And lie.  And lie more.   They have helped build and eagerly exploit a right-wing propaganda machine of frightening pervasiveness and influence.  They have dragged the level of public discourse in America down into the gutter.  They have normalized a level of corruption that I scarcely thought possible.  They now side with one of this nation’s mortal enemies as a way of maintaining their own power.  Treason?  They’re cool with it.  So do me a favor.  Look at someone like Moscow Mitch McConnell or an outright criminal like William Barr and tell me they’re not smart or that they’re weak.  They’re neither.  They’re evil.” (Daily Kos, December 10, 2019)

Given all I’ve reported here, there is one question that needs to be answered: Has the Trump administration done one positive thing since it first came to power?

The goal for Trump and the Republicans could not be more clear: They want complete and absolute control over every person and every issue in the country.  The groundwork has long since been made for a complete fascist/Republican takeover of the United States.  It is taking place right now, and the pace is accelerating.  The change from a democracy to a fascist state is a slow process, but it is happening.  Incremental changes, lies and the destruction of the American way of life are what we are witnessing on a daily basis.  Donald Trump is a sociopath, and sociopaths are utterly without guilt feelings about anything.  However, they do go completely berserk when anyone disagrees with them about anything.  Sociopaths like Trump also tend to think themselves superior to everyone else.  Hitler thought himself a military genius until reality set in and he led Germany to utter ruin.  Like their fascist predecessors, sociopaths like Trump demonize anyone who disagrees with them.  For the Third Reich, it was Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, Russians, etc. who were considered enemies of the state.  With Trump, it is liberals, freethinkers, immigrants, Muslims, the LGBTQ community and anyone who questions what he is doing.  The first concentration camps are already in use, the target being immigrants.  Is it too far fetched to imagine these camps being occupied by the other hated groups?

This is no longer the United States of America.

Categories:   Political Affairs