Some Words of Perspective …

If you could use a bit of encouragement today, Robert Reich has just the right message with his Election Day thoughts.  No, he doesn’t promise that everything will come up rosy in the morning, but … he does put things into context, a historical context, that reminds us that even if it ain’t a bed of roses, it also isn’t a box of thorns with nary a bud.

Take a look … listen to what he has to say and read his words of wisdom, think about what he says.  Then take a deep breath and relax, my friends.

Robert Reich’s words of encouragement

The Lies: Debunked!

One of the people whose words I often share here is Robert Reich.  There’s a reason for that … Mr. Reich’s credentials would take this entire post to list, but suffice it to say he served under Presidents Ford, Carter, Clinton and Obama, and he is one of the most intelligent and knowledgeable men I know, yet he can explain things in a way that we can all understand.  So here we are, two days before this highly-charged, contentious mid-term election, and Robert Reich has some words of wisdom that he has asked those of us who receive his newsletter to share.  Please take just 4 minutes to watch his video, and as he asks, share it with others if you feel so inclined.


Lies, lies, and more lies

Republican candidates are not only pushing Trump’s big lie, but three others. In these last days before the midterms, let’s continue to spread the truth

By Robert Reich

6 November 2022

In these last exhausting days before the midterm elections of 2022, I thought you might find useful this inquiry into the lies Republican candidates are telling which I and my colleagues at Inequality Media have been circulating.

You see, the so-called “issues” Republicans are focusing on — inflation, taxes, and crime — are not really issues at all. Get below the rhetoric and look at the facts, and these “issues” have been concocted out of nothing.

Yet the media continues to report that these so-called “issues” are gaining traction with voters.

I’m sending you the attached video in hopes you will share with others. At this point, every voter we can reach with the truth is one additional potential vote for decency and democracy.

Oh Please, Merrick Garland, SOS!

Robert Reich’s first three sentences of his newsletter this morning echoes my own sentiments exactly.  I don’t want to write about him, don’t want to hear his name or see his ugly mug, and I will go one step further on the third point … I wish he didn’t exist.  Never in my 71 years has a single person disgusted and sickened me as much as the former guy.  But the reality is … we cannot afford to ignore him.


Trump Redux

He looms over the 2022 midterm elections. He cannot be ignored or wished away.

By Robert Reich

24 October 2022

I really don’t want to write about him any more. I’d rather not even think about him. Honestly, I’d rather forget he existed.

But he looms over the 2022 elections like a sword of Damocles. Trump continues to dominate all political coverage. In many respects, he is still the center of American politics — if anything, bigger and more dangerous than he was when he left the White House.

First, consider all the action in federal and state courts.

Just within the last two weeks, Trump has been subpoenaed to appear before the January 6 committee, his appeal to the Supreme Court challenging the FBI’s seizure at Mar-a-Lago of secret documents he stole from the White House was rejected, his former aide Steve Bannon was sentenced to four months in prison for contempt of Congress, a federal appeals court denied a request by Sen. Lindsey Graham to be shielded from testifying in an investigation into Trump’s interference in the 2020 election in Georgia, other aides were observed after testifying before a grand jury in the criminal investigation of Jan. 6, his name was featured in text messages read aloud at the Oath Keepers trial, and his decision to form a new company (Trump Organization II) was criticized by the New York attorney general, who is suing him.

Never before in history has a former president, his aides, and supporters in Congress been as entangled in legal proceedings stretching years beyond his administration. Never have the legal maneuvers attracted more media attention.

Second is the continuing speculation about whether Merrick Garland will indict him.

The Jan 6 committee has done an outstanding job, but it has also helped Trump become a more historically significant. As Politico’s John Harris noted,  

“The usual journalistic crutch when assessing political legacies is ‘for better or worse,’ but in this case it is only for worse. Trump’s historic significance flows from how effectively he has made people doubt what was previously beyond doubt — that American democracy is on the level — and how brilliantly he has illuminated just how much this generation of Americans looks at one another with mutual contempt and mutual incomprehension.”

While the Jan. 6 committee has dismantled Trump’s deceptions and denialism surrounding the 2020 election, it has also helped build Trump into something larger than he appeared two years ago — a political force too serious to forget. That’s not a bad thing; we must not allow ourselves to forget what he has done to America. But it does cast his shadow over our future in ways few former presidents have ever managed.

Third is the groundwork for an undemocratic coup that Trump and his henchmen continue to lay.

That groundwork is being prepared step by step. A majority of Republican candidates for office in the 2020 midterms are election deniers, including several candidates for the crucial election jobs of secretaries of state and governors.  

The tactics they and their supporters used in primary elections force us to brace for a range of new challenges in the upcoming midterms and in 2024, including disruptive poll watchers and workers, aggressive litigation strategies, voter and ballot challenges and vigilante searches for fraud.

He will almost certainly declare his candidacy for president in 2024 within the next few months.

Just as menacingly for 2024 and beyond, the Supreme Court has taken up the “independent state legislature” doctrine. If upheld, this doctrine would allow state legislatures to do exactly what Trump tried to do in December 2020 — appoint their own slates of electors, regardless of the popular vote.

Finally, Twitter and Facebook are poised to allow Trump back on — to continue to spread his lies on the largest megaphones in the world.

Trump is not only a sociopath. He is also a masterful conman. Social media will soon allow him to continue to spread his lies and hate. (Elon Musk has virtually guaranteed it for Twitter if, as expected, Musk takes over that platform. Facebook has signaled it will do the same.)

A sociopathic conman on social media is terrifying.

It is our terrible misfortune that Trump came to power and continues to infect America and the world just as the tangled weave of other crises — near-record inequality, bigotry (racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia), the climate, the pandemic — have made many Americans vulnerable to his demagoguery.

I didn’t want to write about him today or even think about him. But none of us dares turn our eyes away in revulsion.

Rather than ignore him, we must demand that Trump be prosecuted. Instead of pretending the poison he released into the American system is behind us, we must acknowledge that it is spreading.

As opposed to dismissing him, we must deal with him and the lawmakers who are enabling him head-on — and stop him, and them, through every non-violent means possible.

The Facts, Ma’am — Just The Facts

I happened across an article in this morning’s news saying that Kellyanne Conway (remember her, the head bootlicker for a time and inventor of the phrase “alternative facts”) says Trump isn’t lying as much these days.  Yeah, right Kelly … go peddle your own lies somewhere else, for I’m immune to them.  Robert Reich’s column today, however, deals with the lies the Republican Party is relying on to rile the masses and give their candidates a boost on November 8th.  And these are in addition to the Big Lie!!!  Seems to me that if they need so many lies in order to win, their candidates must not be of very high quality.  (Yeah, I know, the understatement of the century 🙄)


The 3 biggest GOP lies of the midterms (in addition to the Big Lie)

Know the truth and spread it.

Robert Reich

17 October 2022

It’s not just the Big Lie. Republicans are telling three other lies they hope will swing the midterms.

They involve crime, inflation, and taxes. 

Here are the GOP’s claims, followed by the facts.

  1. They claim crime is rising because Democrats have been “soft” on crime.

Rubbish. Rising crime rates are due to the proliferation of guns, which Republicans refuse to control.

While violent crime rose 28 percent from 2019 to 2020, gun homicides rose 35 percentStates that have weakened gun laws have seen gun crime surge. Clearly, a major driver of the national increase in violence is the easy availability of guns.

The violence can’t be explained by any of the Republican talking points about “soft on crime” Democrats.

Lack of police funding? No. On average, all cities — whether run by Democrats or Republicans — saw an increase in police funding in 2022.

Criminal justice reforms? No. Wherever bail reforms have been implemented, re-arrest rates remain stable. Data shows no connection between the policies of progressive prosecutors and changes in crime rates.

In fact, crime is rising faster in Republican, Trump-supporting states. In 2020, per capita murder rates were 40 percent higher in states won by Trump than in those won by Joe Biden.

Republican policies have made it easier for people to get and carry guns. Republicans are lying about the real cause of rising crime to protect some of their biggest supporters, big gun manufacturers and the NRA.

  1. Republicans claim that inflation is due to Biden’s spending, and wage increases.

Baloney. Biden’s spending can’t be causing our current inflation because inflation has broken out everywhere around the world, often at much higher rates than in the US. 

Besides, heavy spending by the US government began in 2020, before the Biden administration, in order to protect Americans and the economy from the ravages of COVID-19 — and it was necessary.

Wages can’t be pushing inflation because wages have been increasing at a slower pace than prices — leaving most workers worse off.  

The major cause of the current inflation is the global post-pandemic shortage of all sorts of things, coupled with Putin’s war in Ukraine and China’s lockdowns.

The biggest domestic culprit for America’s current inflation is big corporations that are using inflation as an excuse for raising prices above their own cost increases, resulting in the highest profit margins since 1950 — while consumers are paying through the nose.

The biggest domestic cause of inflation is corporate power. Republicans are lying about this to protect their big corporate patrons.

  1. Republicans say Democrats voted to hire an army of IRS agents who will audit and harass the middle class.

Wrong. The IRS won’t be going after the middle class. It will be going after ultra-wealthy tax cheats.

The Inflation Reduction Act, passed in July, provides funding to begin to get IRS staffing back to what it was before 2010, after which Republicans cut staff by roughly 30 percent, despite increases since then in the number of Americans filing tax returns.

The extra staff are needed to prevent high-end tax evasion, which is more difficult to root out (the ultra-wealthy hire squads of accountants and tax attorneys to hide their taxable incomes). It’s estimated that the richest 1 percent are hiding more than 20 percent of their earnings from the IRS.

The Treasury Department and the IRS have made it clear that audit rates for households earning $400,000 or under will remain same.

Republicans are lying about what the IRS will do with the new funding to protect their ultra-wealthy patrons.

None of these three lies is as brazen and damaging as Trump’s Big Lie. But they’re all being used by Republican candidates in these last weeks before the midterms. 

Know the truth and share it. 

Industrial Dictatorship

I have many ‘pet peeves’ these days, one of which is the wealth inequality in this country.  It keeps growing and growing like an overfed toddler and while most people struggle to pay their bills and put food on the table, the 1% or so at the top laugh their way to their broker’s office to see just how much richer they are today than they were a month ago.  I’ve never heard it explained any better than Robert Reich does …


The three myths used by the ultra-wealthy to justify the ultra-wealthy

Robert Reich

29 September 2022

The stock market is down but don’t cry for America’s mega-billionaires. A record share of the nation’s wealth remains in their hands. They’re also paying a lower tax rate than the average American.

So how do they justify their wealth and their low tax rates? By using three myths. All are utter rubbish.

  1. The first is trickle-down economics. They (and their apologists) claim that their wealth trickles down to everyone else as they invest it and create jobs.

Really? For over forty years, as wealth at the top has soared, almost nothing has trickled down. Adjusted for inflation, the median wage today is barely higher than it was four decades ago. Trump provided a giant tax cut to the wealthiest Americans, promising it would generate $4,000 increased income for everyone else. Did you receive it?

In reality, the super-wealthy don’t create jobs or raise wages. Jobs are created when average working people earn enough money to buy all the goods and services they produce, forcing companies to hire more people and pay them higher wages.

  1. The second myth is the “free market.” The ultra-rich claim they’re being rewarded by the impersonal market for creating and doing what people are willing to pay them for. The wages of other Americans have stagnated, they say, because most Americans are worth less in the market now that new technologies and globalization have made their jobs redundant.

Baloney. Even if they’re being rewarded, there’s no reason why the “free market’ would reward vast multiples of what the rich were rewarded decades ago. The market can induce great feats of invention and entrepreneurialism with lures of hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars — not billions. And as to the rest of us succumbing to labor-replacing globalization and labor-saving technologies, no other advanced nation has nearly the degree of inequality found in the United States, yet all these nations have been exposed to the same forces of globalization and technological change.

In reality, the ultra-wealthy have rigged the so-called “free market” in America for their own benefit.

Billionaires’ campaign contributions have soared from a relatively modest $31 million in the 2010 elections to $1.2 billion in the most recent presidential cycle — a nearly 40-fold increase. What have they got for their money? Tax cuts, freedom to bash unions and monopolize markets, and government bailouts. Their pockets have been further lined by privatization and deregulation.

  1. The third myth is that they’re superior human beings — rugged individuals who “did it on their own” and therefore deserve their billions.

Bupkis. Six of the 10 wealthiest Americans alive today are heirs to fortunes passed on to them by wealthy ancestors.

Others had the advantages that come with wealthy parents. Jeff Bezos’ garage-based start was funded by a quarter-million dollar investment from his parents. Bill Gates’s mother used her business connections to help land a software deal with IBM that made Microsoft.

Elon Musk came from a family that reportedly owned shares of an emerald mine in Southern Africa. (By the way, when I mentioned this in a recent video, Elon went nuts — tweeting that “You [sic] both an idiot and a liar.” Hmmm. Did I touch a nerve, Elon?)

Don’t fall for these three myths. Trickle-down economics is a cruel joke. The so-called “free market” has been distorted by huge campaign contributions from the ultra-rich. Don’t lionize the ultra-rich as superior “self-made” human beings who deserve their billions. They were lucky and had connections.

In reality, there’s no justification for today’s extraordinary concentration of wealth at the very top. It’s distorting our politics, rigging our markets, and granting unprecedented power to a handful of people.

The last time America faced anything comparable was at the start of the 20th century. In 1910, former President Theodore Roosevelt warned that “a small class of enormously wealthy and economically powerful men, whose chief object is to hold and increase their power” could destroy American democracy.

Roosevelt’s answer was to tax wealth. The estate tax was enacted in 1916, and the capital gains tax in 1922. Since that time, both have eroded. As the rich have accumulated greater wealth, they have also amassed more political power — and have used that political power to reduce their taxes.

Years later, Franklin D. Roosevelt saw the 1929 crash not only as a financial crisis but as an occasion to renegotiate the relationship between capitalism and democracy. Accepting renomination in 1936, he spoke of the need to redeem American democracy from the despotism of concentrated economic power.

“Through new uses of corporations, banks and securities,” he said, an “industrial dictatorship” now “reached out for control over Government itself. … [T]he political equality we once had won was meaningless in the face of economic inequality. A small group had concentrated into their own hands an almost complete control over other people’s property, other people’s money, other people’s labor—other people’s lives… Against economic tyranny such as this, the American citizen could appeal only to the organized power of Government. The collapse of 1929 showed up the despotism for what it was. The election of 1932 was the people’s mandate to end it.”

FDR gave workers the power to organize into labor unions, the 40-hour workweek (with time-and-a-half for overtime), Social Security, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation for injuries. He raised taxes on the top.

But since then, these reforms have also eroded.

The two Roosevelts understood something about the American economy and the ultra-rich that has now reemerged, even more extreme and more dangerous. We must understand it, too — and act.

**

By the way, here’s the new video that put Musk into a lather:

A Powerful Question

Yesterday, our friend Nan posted a question asked by Robert Reich and this may well be one of his best pieces ever! I was impressed enough to want to share it. Thank you, Nan … and Robert! (I actually thought I had re-blogged this yesterday afternoon, and didn’t find out until late last night that I had it all set up but forgot to hit the “Reblog Post” button! Senility is setting in!)

Nan's Notebook

blue_question

OK … I’m doing it again. But this is something that NEEDS to be shared. It was written by Robert Reich (via Substack):

A personal question to powerful people who continue to deny the results of the 2020 election

What do you tell yourself in private?

I have a serious question for people who have power in America and who continue to deny the outcome of the 2020 election and enable Trump’s Big Lie: What are you saying to yourself in private? How are you justifying yourself in your own mind?

I don’t mean to be snide or snarky. I’m genuinely curious.

I’m not interested in Trump’s answer to this question. He is too far gone — lost in the depths of his own pathological ego. I’m also not asking the millions of Trump followers, Fox News viewers, and rightwing social media fans who have been fed the Big…

View original post 798 more words

The Battle For The Soul Of The Nation

I often find Robert Reich to be one of the most intelligent voices out there, and his offering yesterday was no exception …


The most important battle of our lifetimes

There can be no middle ground in the fight between democracy and authoritarian fascism

By Robert Reich

01 September 2022

One week after a team of F.B.I. agents descended on his private club and residence in Florida, Trump warned that things could get out of hand if the Justice Department kept the heat on him. “People are so angry at what is taking place,” Trump told Fox News, predicting that if the “temperature” isn’t brought down, “terrible things are going to happen.”

But Trump and his allies are doing all they can to increase the temperature. Last Sunday, one of Trump’s closest allies, Senator Lindsey Graham, warned of “riots in the streets” if Trump is prosecuted.

On Tuesday, Trump spent much of the morning reposting messages from known purveyors of the QAnon conspiracy theory and from 4chan, an anonymous message platform where threats of violence often bloom. Some of Trump’s reposts were direct provocations, such as a photograph of President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker Nancy Pelosi with their faces obscured by the words, “Your enemy is not in Russia.”

Online threats are escalating against public servants. Bruce E. Reinhart, the federal magistrate judge who approved the warrant to search Mar-a-Lago, has been targeted with messages threatening him and his family.

How to respond to this lawlessness? With bold and unwavering law enforcement.

If Trump has broken the law – by attempting a coup, by instigating an assault on the U.S. Capitol, by making off with troves of top-secret documents — he must be prosecuted, and if found guilty he must be imprisoned.

Yes, such prosecutions might increase tensions and divisions in the short term. They might provoke additional violence.

But a failure to uphold the laws of the United States would be far more damaging in the longer term. It would undermine our system of government and the credibility of that system — more directly and irreparably than Trump has done.

Not holding a former president accountable for gross acts of criminality will invite ever more criminality from future presidents and lawmakers.

It is also important for all those in public life who believe in democracy to call out what the Republican Party is doing and what it has become: not just its embrace of Trump’s Big Lie but its moves toward voter suppression, takeovers of the machinery of elections, ending of reproductive rights, book bans, restrictions on what can be taught in classrooms, racism, and assaults on LGBTQ people.

Last week, Biden condemned “ultra-MAGA Republicans” for a philosophy he described as “semi-fascism.” Today he will deliver a rare prime-time speech outside the old Independence Hall where the Framers of the Constitution met 235 years ago to establish the basic rules of our democratic form of government. The speech will focus on what the White House describes as the “battle for the soul of the nation” – the fight to protect that democracy.

President Biden’s earlier conciliatory tone and talk of uniting Americans and “healing” the nation from the ravages of Trump has obviously not worked on most of the Republican Party. With the notable and noble exceptions of Liz Cheney and a few other courageous Republicans — most of whom have been or are being purged from the GOP — the Republican Party is rapidly morphing into an anti-democracy movement. With each passing week, it becomes more rabid in its opposition to the rule of law. Republican lawmakers who took an oath of allegiance to the Constitution are repudiating it in word and deed. Republican candidates are lying about the 2020 election and whipping up our fellow countrymen into angry mobs. And as Republican lawmakers and candidates exchange their political integrity for power, Fox News and other rightwing outlets continue to exchange their journalistic integrity for money.

The essential political choice in America, therefore, is no longer Republican or Democrat, right or left, conservative or liberal. It is democracy or authoritarian fascism. There can be no compromise between these two — no halfway point, no “moderate middle,” no “balance.” To come down squarely on the side of democracy is not to be “partisan.” It is to be patriotic.

As Adam Wilkins suggested on this page yesterday, while today’s Republican party does not have its own paramilitary, such as the Nazi’s Brownshirts, the GOP is effectively outsourcing these activities to violent fringe groups such as the “Proud Boys,” “Oathkeepers,” and others who descended on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, and who continue to threaten violence.

Yet Democrats cannot and must not take on this battle alone. They must seek common ground with Independents and whatever reasonable Republicans remain. As Eric T noted on this page, we must continue to appeal to truth, facts, logic, and common sense. We must be unwavering in our commitment to the Constitution and the rule of law. We must be clear and courageous in exposing the authoritarian fascist direction the Republican Party has now chosen, and the dangers this poses to America and the world.

It is also important for Democrats to recognize — and to take bold action against — the threat to democracy posed by big money from large corporations and the super-wealthy: record amounts of campaign funding inundating and distorting our politics, serving the moneyed interests rather than the common good.

Indeed, the two threats – one, from an increasingly authoritarian-fascist Republican Party; the second, from ever-larger amounts of corporate and billionaire money in our campaigns and elections – are two sides of the same coin. Americans who know the system is rigged against them and in favor of the moneyed interests, are more likely to give up on democracy and embrace an authoritarian fascist demagogue who pretends to be on “their side.”

The battle to preserve and protect American democracy is the most important battle of our lifetimes. If we win, there is nothing we cannot achieve. If we lose, there is nothing we can achieve.

Conservatives??? HAH!!! I Think NOT!

As he so often does, Robert Reich hits the nail spot on the head in his take on the term ‘conservative’ as it is used to describe Republicans.  Read on …


How to handle radical Republicans

Stop calling them conservative. And take steps to genuinely conserve America

Robert Reich

July 11

This morning, I heard a commentator allude to “Mitch McConnell and other conservative senators.” Yesterday, a news report described the upcoming Alaska Republican primary as pitting Trump’s “conservative wing against Murkowski’s more moderate base.” I keep seeing references to the “conservative majority” on the Supreme Court.

Can we get real? There is nothing conservative about these so-called “conservatives.” They don’t want to preserve or protect our governing institutions — the core idea of conservatism extending from Edmund Burke to William F. Buckley and Barry Goldwater. They are radicals, intent on wrecking these institutions to impose their ideology on everyone else.

The Supreme Court’s Republican appointees have all but obliterated stare decisis — the conservative principle that the Court must follow its precedents and not change or reverse them unless clearly necessary, and with near unanimity. Recent decisions reversing Roe v. Wade, elevating religious expression over the Constitution’s bar on established religion, questioning Congress’s ability to delegate rule making to the executive branch, and barring states from regulating handguns, all call into question the legitimacy of the Supreme Court as an institution.

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell, are abusing the filibuster and undermining the legitimacy of the Senate.

Throughout much of the 20th century, filibusters remained rare. But after Barack Obama moved into the Oval Office in 2009, McConnell and his Republican senate minority blocked virtually every significant piece of legislation. Between 2010 and 2020, there were as many cloture motions as during the entire 60-year period from 1947 to 2006. Now McConnell and his Republicans are stopping almost everything in its tracks. Just 41 Senate Republicans, representing only 21 percent of the country, are blocking laws supported by the vast majority of Americans.

At the same time, Trump and his Republican enablers in Congress and in the states have upended the centerpiece of American democracy, the peaceful transition of power, and undermined the legitimacy of our elections.

They continue to assert without any basis in fact that the 2020 election was stolen. Trump encouraged an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and threatened the life of the Vice President. Republican state legislatures are enacting legislation to suppress votes and take over election machinery.

Make no mistake: Republican appointees to the Supreme Court, most Republicans in Congress, and Trump Republican lawmakers across America are not conservative. They are radicals. They have embarked on a radical agenda of repudiating our governing institutions and taking over American democracy.

It is time to stop using the term “conservative” to describe them and their agenda.

And it is time it to fight back: Enlarge the size of the Supreme Court and limit the terms of justices. Abolish the filibuster and then pass laws most Americans want — protecting voting rights and reproductive rights, and controlling guns. Criminally prosecute Trump and his insurgents.

These are conservative measures. They are necessary to conserve and protect our governing institutions from the radicals now bent on destroying them.

The Road Ahead?

I cringe when I hear people say that there should be no separation of church and state, when they say that wasn’t what the Founders had in mind, or when they push for their own religious beliefs to dominate our schools and government.  I nearly lost it when I heard the uneducated congresswoman from Colorado, Lauren Boebert, say …

“I’m tired of this separation of church and state junk that’s not in the Constitution.  The church is supposed to direct the government.”

This nation was established as a democratic republic, NOT a theocracy.  Religion has a place in the lives of many people, but it is a choice, and has NO business on the political landscape, no business dictating government policy.  A number of things lately have led me to believe that we are shifting toward a government dominated by a single religion, thereby excluding the majority of the people in this nation.  Let’s hear what Robert Reich has to say about it …


The Republican Party: God, guns, forced birth, and strongmen

The ideology of Christian nationalism

Robert Reich, Jul 7

The link is tightening between America’s move toward theocracy and its slide toward autocracy.

It is important to understand these connections. The Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe, its expanded reading of the Second Amendment, and its eagerness to elevate religious freedom over the Constitution’s guarantee against established religion come from the same cloth as Republican state legislative attacks on democracy, the GOP’s fealty to Trump’s Big Lie, and white supremacy.

At the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s “Road to Majority” conference in Nashville last month, speakers explicitly embraced the theology of “Dominionism” — the idea that “right-thinking” Christians have a biblically derived mandate to take control of all aspects of government and society.

Trump’s keynote at the conference made the connections explicit. He warned that the “radical Left” is “trying to destroy organized religion” and “trying to shred our Constitution,” and continued: “The greatest danger to America is not our enemies from the outside, as powerful as they may be. The greatest danger to America is the destruction of our nation from the people from within. And you know the people I’m talking about.”

Other speakers labeled Democrats “evil,” “tyrannical” and “the enemy within,” and charged that Democrats were engaged in “a war against the truth.” Senator Rick Scott of Florida predicted “the backlash is coming. Just mount up and ride to the sounds of the guns, and they are all over this country. It is time to take this country back.” Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson of North Carolina (the state’s first Black lieutenant governor and a virulent critic of so-called “critical race theory”) said he expected “a pitched battle to literally save this nation.” Referencing a passage from Ephesians that Christian nationalists often use to signal their militancy, Robinson added, “I don’t know about you, but I got my pack on, I got my boots on, I got my helmet on, I’ve got on the whole armor.”

The connections between these strands of rightwing ideology are growing clearer and louder — theocratic Christianity, gun violence, the subjugation of women through forced birth, and strongman authoritarianism. Christian nationalism now taking over the Republican Party envisions vigilante justice — “good guys with guns,” neighbors eavesdropping on neighbors, and action to stop what they call “abortion trafficking” — women crossing state lines to access legal abortions. Widespread access to guns is essential to keep everyone under control, suppress protests, and fuel fear.

To call this a “culture” war is to understate its true meaning and potential danger. Those of us who still believe in separating church and state, guarding reproductive rights, ensuring racial equality, ending gun violence, and protecting democracy must understand that much of the Republican Party now stands for the exact opposite of these values.

The funders and kingmakers of the Republican Party see all this for what it is: an effort to hold on to power in the face of massive demographic shifts: toward women (who now constitute 60 percent of all university enrollees, and therefore the future power structure) and people of color, and away from formal religion. Over the longer term, the Republican Party is doomed. In the meantime, with a rightwing majority on the Supreme Court, legislative majorities in states determined to suppress votes and dominate election machinery, an authoritarian strongman president waiting in the wings, and an ideology of Christian nationalism, the GOP will do what it can to hold on.

Ask Not For Whom The Bell Tolls …

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued yet another ruling that is devastating, to say the least.  The news stories reported that this is a “serious blow to Biden’s climate agenda.”  NO, my friends, this is a serious blow to the lives of every single person around the globe, today and forever.  No, that is not hyperbole … that is FACT.  I am left spluttering … not speechless, but so filled with words that I cannot corral them into a coherent post just yet.  Fortunately, Robert Reich has no such problem …


The beginning of the end of regulation

The radical Supreme Court is giving the big business backers of the GOP exactly what they paid for

Robert Reich

June 30

Today the Supreme Court – again, with the 6 Republican appointees on one side and the 3 Democratic appointees on the other — limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate carbon emissions from power plants. This ruling deals a major blow to America’s (and the world’s) efforts to address climate change. Also — as with its decision reversing Roe v. Wade — today’s ruling has far larger implications than the EPA and the environment.

West Virginia v. EPA is the latest battle pitting America’s big businesses (in this case Big Oil) against the needs of average Americans. In this Supreme Court – containing three Trump appointees, two George W. Bush appointees, and one George H.W. Bush appointee – big business is winning big time. The financial backers of the Republican Party are getting exactly what they paid for.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts admitted that “capping carbon dioxide emissions at a level that will force a nationwide transition away from the use of coal to generate electricity may be a sensible ‘solution to the crisis of the day.’” But then came the kicker: “But it is not plausible,” he wrote, “that Congress gave EPA the authority to adopt on its own such a regulatory scheme.”

Not plausible? Congress enacted the Environmental Protection Act in 1970. As with all laws, Congress left it to an administrative agency – in this case, the EPA – to decide how that Act was to be implemented and applied. That’s what regulations do: They implement and apply laws.

For the Supreme Court to give itself the authority to say whether Congress intended to delegate this much regulatory authority to the EPA is a truly radical act – more radical than any Supreme Court in modern history. If Congress has been unhappy with decades of EPA regulation, Congress surely has had the power to pull that authority back. But it has not.

As Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the dissenters, countered: “The Court appoints itself — instead of Congress or the expert agency — the decision maker on climate policy. I cannot think of many things more frightening.”

The implications of the ruling extend to all administrative agencies in the federal government – to the Securities and Exchange Commission implementing the Securities Acts of 1933 and 1934, to the Federal Trade Commission applying the Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914, to the Department of Labor implementing the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, and so on, across the entire range of government – and the entire range of regulations designed to protect consumers, investors, workers, and the environment. (This same Supreme Court has ruled that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was not authorized to impose a moratorium on evictions and that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was powerless to tell large employers  to have their workers be vaccinated or undergo frequent testing.)

In passing laws to protect the public, Congress cannot possibly foresee all ways in which those laws might be implemented and all circumstances in which the public might need the protections such laws accord. Starting today, though, all federal regulations will be under a cloud of uncertainty – and potential litigation.

A final implication of today’s ruling is that the filibuster has to go. If the Supreme Court is going to require that Congress be more active and specific in protecting the environment or anything else, such a goal is implausible when 60 senators are necessary to enact it. Senate Democrats now have it in their power to abolish the filibuster. Today’s case should convince them they must.