GOP insider urges harsh crackdown on GOP zealots who should be crushed and banished

Republican officials at the highest level support insurrection, terrorism and treason. They have presided over a political culture that, for many years, has inculcated seditious desires within millions of expertly programmed citizens. The consequences became manifest on Jan. 6 when a rabid mob of neo-Confederates, fascists and associated psychotics took the Capitol by force, perhaps hoping to murder duly elected members of Congress — not to mention the vice president — and install Donald Trump as dictator.

This article first appeared in Salon.

As surreal as that summary of recent events might seem, it was not entirely unpredictable. Mike Lofgren, a former Republican congressional staff member of 28 years, began warning about the danger of the GOP in 2011, even going so far as to condemn his longtime party as a "death cult." Before his retirement, Lofgren worked in both the House and Senate as a specialist staffer for national security affairs, tasked with analyzing Pentagon budget requests and preparing military-related legislation.

Lofgren's formal training, not incidentally is as a historian. He holds an M.A. in history from the University of Akron, and went on to study European history on a Fulbright scholarship at the University of Bern and the University of Basel in Switzerland.

The unique combination of Lofgren's historical expertise and his long career in the "boiler room" of legislative politics, as he calls it, put him in the perfect position to see the destructive monstrosity that Republicans and their far-right allies have created. He has detailed his analysis and experience in two books, "The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless and the Middle Class Got Shafted" and "The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government."

With that latter title, by the way, Lofgren was not gesturing toward the conspiracy-theory delusion currently popular among Trump supporters. Rather, he meant "deep state" as an umbrella term for the lobbying firms, corporate donors and military-industrial complex that have a stranglehold on American public policy.

I recently discussed the insurrection at the Capitol, how best to combat right-wing extremism and the future of the Republican Party with Lofgren in a phone conversation, lightly edited here for length and clarity.

We'll start with the obvious. What was your gut reaction as you watched the act of domestic terrorism — the siege of the Capitol — live on television? Now that you've had time to process it, what is your interpretation of the event both in terms of what happened and how the United States should proceed?

I worked for three decades in Congress. Regardless of how peeved I might have been over some policy or another, I was proud of my public service. To see the place trashed like that, and I mean really desecrated — there were people shitting on the floor, and smearing it on the walls. The insane violence of a mob beating a cop with a fire extinguisher and shoving him down the marble stairs was horrifying. At the same time, once the mob was dispersed, they went throughout the D.C. metro area randomly beating up people whom they could victimize. Later that afternoon, my daughter, who does not live in D.C. but in Arlington, across the river, was out walking her dog, and saw these thugs spewing out of the Metro station like toxic waste. She had to do a 180. Arlington was placed under curfew that night. All these occurrences, including having to worry about my own family's safety, left some pretty vivid impressions, to say the least.

In terms of the larger picture, at least three allied European intelligence agencies believe that Trump fomented the mob because he could not get the military to assist him. They have suggested there was at least some degree of collusion with federal law enforcement. Given how fast the Capitol Police chief resigned and left the building, there's some credence to that. Second, that view is reinforced by a former senior official on Trump's National Security Council — Fiona Hill, whom everyone should recognize from the Russiagate testimony she gave. She believes that Trump was consciously trying to trigger a coup using the military, and that the intervention from 10 former secretaries of defense may have prevented it.

We now know that the Republican Attorneys General Association sent out robocalls the day before, encouraging people to descend on the Capitol. Republican dark money financed the rioters, gave them bus tickets and chartered the transportation. Dark money is the so-called 501(c)(4) organizations with anonymous donors, that Republicans on the Supreme Court claim is such a wonderful idea for freedom.

Finally, two-thirds of House Republicans voted to nullify the results of legitimate elections that had been recounted multiple times and survived many court challenges. They did this a few hours after the entire place was vandalized and everybody's lives were in danger. A YouGov poll found that 45 percent of Republicans, after the fact, approved of the assault on the Capitol. [In fairness, a more robust ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted this past week found that only 20 percent of Republicans approved.] And now there is new information that extremists plan to encircle the Capitol to assassinate Democrats.

The severity of the threat means that we cannot afford an ineffective response. Considering your experience in government and your wider historical perspective, how do you suggest we react?

It is necessary to see the historical analogies that tell us what works and what doesn't work. The thing that pops into everyone's mind is the Civil War. People tend to get all misty-eyed about Lincoln's statement, "With malice toward none, and charity for all." That was his second inaugural address in March of 1865. What were the results? A couple of weeks later, what he got out of it was a bullet in the head. What Blacks got out of it was Jim Crow. What Confederates got was pardons, amnesties, dropped charges and the ability to rewrite history. The rest of us were saddled with them, and now we have a large portion of the country — a single region that is basically a Third World state.

The Civil War was not a fluke. Weimar Germany is another example. Compared to the devastation that the Germans caused in France and Belgium, the Versailles Treaty was very mild. The gratitude for that mildness was a buildup of authoritarianism in Germany, people in all walks of life thinking that they were victims, the police and the courts going very easy on the perpetrators of the Beer Hall Putsch — a guy named Hitler was involved in that — and the results were not very happy.

Now, let's see what works in these cases. We haven't had much trouble with Germany in the past 75 years, because in 1945, basically, they were treated to a Carthaginian peace — a massive military occupation and a few strategic hangings of the ringleaders. It was assisted, of course, by the fact that the Germans had to be on their best behavior, because they didn't want us to go home, and leave them to the tender mercies of the Russians.

Those examples show you what works, and what encourages people in cases of massive insurrection. Being overly lenient only encourages them.

Lawrence Rosenthal, a leading scholar of right-wing extremism, often gives the same warning. They see liberal society as "weak and flabby," and will interpret any reluctance to act with aggression as confirmation of their central thesis. Then they will push the envelope further. So what is the correct approach?

I agree with him. The approach has to be, first, governmental, with laws and the application of those laws, but also socially, by boycotting and putting pressures on corporations. It is also individual, each person dealing with other individuals. I say this because I've personally confronted the issue. It is important to tell relatives and friends in no uncertain terms, "You can stop invoking Jesus. I sure as hell don't want to hear about Black Lives Matter. You are not a good citizen or a patriot if you continue to vote for these Republicans. I might have to keep your grandkids away from you unless you repent of this. I don't want their young minds poisoned by hatred and violence."

Decent people will have to ask themselves, "Wouldn't you rather have a friend who is not nuts? Wouldn't you rather not have to carefully steer the conversation away from politics so that Uncle Fred doesn't make a scene and ruin Thanksgiving dinner?" You don't need to hang onto relationships with hate-filled or deluded people out of habit or obligation. You can find other friends.

The social media prohibitions are also good. These people crying censorship and free speech have no understanding that you cannot compel a private individual to use his privately-owned platform to broadcast incitements to murder. It is a complete inversion of the First Amendment.

Next, companies cutting off donations is a start. Credit rating agencies should rate these GOP officials, and those who supported the insurrection, at zero. Their social credit is in the trash can. I'm saying that maybe their financial credit should be as well.

We have to guard against hypocrisy and stupidity, however. I saw that Northrop Grumman announced a six-month pause on all political donations to both parties. Unless you specifically target the perpetrators, it makes no sense.

I've learned that the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee [Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi] is demanding that Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz be placed on the no-fly list. See, there are many tools available. Republicans are so fond of antiterrorist laws: I say, let's use them against Republicans who advocated violence. We can use civil and criminal RICO statutes to confiscate the money of GOP organizations that fund violent extremism.

I have been activating old friends on the Hill, and people who have access to various people on the Hill, and proposing that you have to saturation-bomb the Republicans legislatively. You can't make it an either/or with impeachment. You can do impeachment and concurrently have in your back pocket the 14th Amendment, which bans anyone from office who incited insurrection against the United States.

Laurence Tribe did not do us any favors when he said that the person otherwise has to be convicted in a court before that amendment can be applied. A plain reading of the 14th Amendment does not say anything about that. It is a pure finding by Congress that they are committing insurrection, and are barred from holding office. The beauty of it is that it requires only a simple majority in each house, whereas impeachment requires two-thirds in the Senate to convict, and knowing Republicans as I do, we may not get two-thirds. The 14th does require, however, two-thirds to lift the ban and reinstate their right to run for office. So there is a bigger hurdle to relieve them of the ban than to punish them.

All of this is necessary because going easy on these people — holding their hands, giving them a cup of tea and trying to understand them — will not work. They take it as weakness and a sign that they will prevail. If people are supporting violent overthrow of the government, I see no reason — morally, politically or practically — why our society should not ostracize them.

Would you suggest that Democrats initiate the 14th Amendment process against the senators and representatives who voted to overturn the election of Biden?

Concurrently against Trump, and against those who were found to have incited. Whether everybody who voted to object to the results deserves being banned for life, I'll leave that to Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi's wisdom. Sarcasm aside, the speaker does not sound amused by any of this, which is refreshing.

You said, "Knowing the Republicans as I do …" Let's get into that. In 2014, you wrote that the Republican Party had transformed into a death cult. In 2018, you wrote a brilliant and, unfortunately, prescient essay for the Washington Monthly in which you predicted that violence and nihilism were waiting at the end of the GOP track. How did this happen with the party? How could the party transform into something so insane?

I suppose it was partly happenstance, and partly my past training as a historian, that I could see this before almost anybody else could. I first wrote about their apocalyptic nature in 2011. Most people looked at me like I was some sort of exotic zoo specimen. Almost no one else was saying this at the time. Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann did say it in a book that came out roughly around the same time. I had the advantage of being in the boiler room, and seeing how the GOP operates. I was kind of an Eisenhower-Gerald Ford Republican. I wasn't caught up in the "movement." I viewed my public service as public service. I wasn't an operative for the party.

I had lived in Europe before working on the Hill, and developed an understanding of what happened there. I began to read philosophers like Sir Isaiah Berlin, who deconstructed conservatism by showing some of these obscure historical figures — everyone knows about Edmund Burke and his supposed moderation — but they forget that the bigger influence on the psychology of conservatives were the radical reactionaries against the French Revolution. Berlin described a kind of violent, anti-modernist, authoritarian, mystical strain in conservatism that often comes to the fore in moments of strain.

He was a philosopher of science, but Karl Popper wrote one of the most impassioned defenses of democracy in an open society in general when he wrote "The Open Society and Its Enemies." He warned that people with this tendency toward absolutism are poison for any kind of rational thinking, and that includes science, as we have recently seen. He condemned extremist systems, whether communism or economic free-market fundamentalism, which translates into CEOs making 500 times what their average employee makes. Popper warned that any system that is deterministic leads to catastrophe.

All of this combined to lead me to conclude that the Republican Party has violent tendencies and a nihilistic outlook — rejection of science, rejection of civil rights, rejection of democracy, rejection of anything that does not allow them to maintain power. They will bring down the country to keep in power.

I observed this over the years from people who are "true-blue constitutional conservatives, patriots who bleed red, white and blue." You get three or four beers in them, and they are singing the praises of Adolf Hitler. It sounds like I am exaggerating, but I've seen it happen.

You mentioned the CEO-average worker salary disparity. One of the arguments to emerge among people outraged over the Trump personality cult and fascist movement is over cause. Some analysts insist it is primarily hatred of Blacks, immigrants and the liberalization of society, whereas others point to economic precarity and increasing levels of poverty and despair as creating the conditions for these antisocial, anti-government extremist movements to grow. Can we keep in mind the latter analysis, while working to crush the fascists?

The economics did contribute. Although you don't want to fall into the trap of saying, "Oh, these guys' wages are falling behind compared to the 1970s, and that's why they are worshipping Trump." That was a myth that the New York Times and all the rest of them swallowed. Support for Trump was racism. More careful polling and research, after the fact, made that clear. That being said, economic precarity does create a social ecology where these kinds of movements more readily catch on. Then it becomes symbiotic.

Economic precarity, referring back to Karl Popper, was not the inevitable trend of a mechanical globalism that operated beyond anyone's power to control it. It was powerful people making conscious policy decisions about how our economy is regulated. They systematically regulated for the benefit of the rich, and everybody else had to be on their own. That's how we got 401k's instead of defined benefits. That's how we got banks making synthetic derivatives out of nonexistent things. That's how we got the 2008 crisis. It is a symbiosis of, yes, the economy is poor, but it is not poor because it fell out of the sky in that form. The people we elected made it so.

Yes, and people can reverse it. But this same radicalized insurgency that you identify, and the party they support, is the main obstruction to that reversal taking place.

Right. There is a huge bad-ideas industry that exists in the country. It is all those 501(c)(3) foundations that churn out these policy proposals: The Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the American Legislative Exchange Council.

What happens now with the Republican Party? They've suffered some major defeats. We have an incoming Biden administration. The Democrats will control the House and Senate. It appears that, thanks to Trump and the terrorist siege on the Capitol, their credibility is in free fall. Yet we've been here before. In 2008, political analysts predicted that the Democrats would have a permanent majority. Well, that didn't work out so well. What do you see transpiring in the next few years?

Democrats seem to think that once they elect a Democratic president, they can all go back to sleep. We saw the consequences of that complacency in 1994. We saw it in 2010. During the first term of a Democratic president, you typically get landslides in the midterm against the sitting president. I fear that people could become complacent again. Then, there are many on the progressive left who think that their own gullibility is worldly-wise cynicism. They'll say: "Oh, it's just death by poison or death by hanging — the two parties are really the same." Well, they're not. They're making the same mistake as the far left in Weimar Germany, their delusion that the Social Democrats were the same as the Nazis. Don't kid yourself. Even a decadent status quo is better than living in a combination of Kim Jong-un's North Korea and anarchic Somalia.

People should talk to Trump-supporting parents or uncles and aunts over the age of 65: What did you think you were going to get out of this? What was in it for you? If those rioters succeeded in overthrowing the government and installing Trump as dictator, do you think you'd continue getting your Social Security and Medicare? If a tornado knocks over your trailer, FEMA is not going to give you a check.

Whatever your criticism of the Democrats, they are for sanity. They are for the rule of law. You are better advised to vote for them than for fascists.

Here’s why the arrogance of ‘centrism’ may destroy us all

The philosopher George Santayana famously said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." One insight to draw from Santayana's oft-repeated aphorism is that the repetition of clichés is likely to have little effect, given the widespread tendency to ignore pithy advice and continue witlessly recycling, recreating and reliving history.

This article originally appeared at Salon.

Over the past few weeks, the Republican Party has proven itself hostile to freedom and democracy; its merciful incompetence the only thing saving whatever remains of our republic from the fascist insurrection of a con man. The absurdity of the cast members — from Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell to their incoherent Michigan "witness" and of course Donald Trump himself — have made the entire fiasco seem more like a satirical film than political reality. At the other multiplex on the Democratic side of town, every screen is running previews for the third version of a box office smash, "Centrist Failure," with Joe Biden taking over the leading role from his more charismatic predecessors, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

The 1990s original had audiences entranced by a seductive Southerner, Clinton, who under the guidance of the Democratic Leadership Council rebranded his party as the "new Democrats," which apparently translates into "Republicans." Clinton cut social programs, ended "welfare as we know it" by making single mothers work low-income jobs without child care, signed a massively destructive and draconian crime bill into law, deregulated the financial industry, and approved NAFTA. Democrats throughout the mediocre commentariat largely applauded, on the grounds that right-wing policies with a friendlier face were the only way Democrats could win or maintain power, and prevent another Reagan-like figure from seizing control of the country.

After all, they asked, wouldn't you rather have Clinton, with his paeans to social liberalism, administrative proficiency and obvious intelligence, than George H.W. Bush? Sure — but then along came Bush's son, holding the White House door open for the ghoulish likes of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, and proving himself far worse than his father. Two horrific wars, the criminal ineptitude of the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, and the financial crash created fertile conditions for radical reform, but instead the "hopey-changey" Obama administration committed the first error of national politics. They failed to act on the keen insight of the aforementioned Cheney, who once told a defiant Republican senator, "We don't negotiate with ourselves."

Obama clearly enacted policies that improved American life. The Affordable Care Act rendered an ongoing catastrophe somewhat less deadly, he doubled Pell grants (barely keeping pace with exorbitant tuition spikes), signed the Paris climate accords and negotiated a decent nuclear deal with Iran. He also staffed his Cabinet with corporate sycophants, allowing the same banking and high-finance bandits who had liquidated working-class wealth to manage the "recovery"; dropped the "public option" from his health care proposal without a fight; and spent years attempting to reach compromise with an obstructionist opposition that he eventually admitted — rather too late — had no interest in productive policy and governance.

Obama was inarguably better for the country than a potential McCain-Palin administration would have been, let alone the planned corporate tyranny of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. But throughout his two terms in office, Democrats lost countless state and local offices, while obliviously arguing that demographic changes all but guaranteed their permanent ascension to power — a great victory that somehow always lies just beyond the horizon. Performing a cover version of the Clinton composition, mainstream politicians and pundits also insisted that any openings to the left would provoke a vicious backlash, manifesting in a menacing right-wing resurgence. In other words, if Obama had governed as a progressive, someone like Donald Trump might have become president.

A rational observer might assume that the victory of a reactionary psychopath who upended all normative assumptions about politics would have introduced a little humility and introspection into the centrist consensus. That observer had best not hold her breath.

Biden hasn't even taken the oath of office, and the centrist crew, including Obama and Biden himself, are blaming the left for Democratic losses in the Senate, House and state legislatures, citing the activist call to "defund the police" as the primary reason for the party's poor down-ballot performance. There is no data to support this conclusion. If anything, the available evidence actually suggests that candidates with progressive positions outperformed the so-called moderates.

Lack of evidence has never stopped the centrists before. Now they've reached a point where information is an unnecessary impediment to their effort to overwhelm all legitimate political or ideological debate with a mélange of platitudes and bromides.

John Harris, writing in Politico, chastises the "stupid second guessing of Biden" from the left over his corporate Cabinet choices, focusing closely on the early opposition to the potential appointment of former Chicago mayor and Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. Harris claims that progressives "don't know what they are talking about," and then attempts to prove Emanuel's merits by summarizing a book he co-wrote in the 1990s. He never mentions that Emanuel left Chicago as the most hated mayor in the city's long and colorful history, earning contempt for closing dozens of schools in poor neighborhoods and then covering up video footage of the police killing of Laquan McDonald, a Black teenager, which eventually sent the officer involved to prison.

Joe Klein, the former sage of Time magazine and champion of "radical centrism," shared Harris' article on his Facebook page, acting as if he had received it from the hands of Jehovah on Mt. Sinai. When I reminded Klein of the McDonald murder, observing that the country's leading civil rights organizations and labor unions opposed Emanuel, Klein responded that I was "missing the bigger point."

Centrists are always threatening to make a big point, but never follow through. Here is the big point that they've been missing for 40 years: The neoliberal consensus is disintegrating, taking traditional party politics into oblivion, because the policies on which it was built have devastated the lives of ordinary people. Widespread privatization and the elevation of what Karl Marx called "fictitious capital" — interest, stocks and commodities, dividends and incomprehensible financial instruments of many kinds — have transformed an economic arrangement that, for all its flaws, gave at least some working-class people a chance to build stability and generational wealth into a Serengeti Plain where the powerful use their fangs and claws to rip the flesh from the weak.

The RAND Corporation — hardly an advocate of socialism or Marxism — recently reported that from 1975 to 2018, the top 1 percent, taking advantage of tax policies, corporate welfare and other built-in benefits, took in $47 trillion — that's trillion, with 12 zeroes – that otherwise would have been distributed among the bottom 90 percent.

Naomi Klein explains brilliantly in her book "The Shock Doctrine" that catastrophes and crises typically exacerbate inequality in various ways: They offer multinational corporations an opportunity to force out small competitors, convince governments to deregulate or surrender public land and other areas of the commons, and accelerate urban gentrification and residential segregation. It is hardly surprising then that COVID-19 has only enhanced these hideous developments. According to one report from the Center for Public Integrity, 900 companies that accepted billions in Paycheck Protection Program loans still laid off a cumulative total of 90,000 workers.

American life, for most citizens, has become a never-ending struggle, with essentials like health care, child care, and high-quality education all but inaccessible. As a recent report from NPR made clear for those sitting in the back, even many Americans who appear to have it made in the shade, earning relatively high salaries and owning substantial homes, still live paycheck to paycheck, frightened that an unexpected expense will drown them in debt.

There's "stone cold rage in the hinterlands," Warren Haynes shouts in the Gov't Mule song, "Stone Cold Rage," capturing the way that entire American towns have collapsed into conditions that resemble war zone. Small villages that once had a vibrant communal center made possible by family farming, light manufacturing employment and small retail business have become ghost towns, without much hope for middle-class or even working-class resurrection. In a previously unprecedented and horrific development, "deaths of despair" — primarily meaning those caused by suicide, drug overdose, alcoholism and obesity — began to rise in the United States a few years ago, especially among men in rural areas.

The inhabitants of these desolate and deprived outposts have accepted a theory, albeit a terrible and dangerous one, to explain their demise. Arlie Russell Hochschild, a sociologist who spent five years conducting lengthy interviews with poor people in the Louisiana bayou, summarizes it this way:

Think of people waiting in a long line that stretches up a hill. And at the top of that is the American dream. And the people waiting in line felt like they'd worked extremely hard, sacrificed a lot, tried their best, and were waiting for something they deserved. And this line is increasingly not moving, or moving more slowly [i.e., as the economy stalls].
Then they see people cutting ahead of them in line. Immigrants, blacks, women, refugees, public sector workers. And even an oil-drenched brown pelican getting priority. In their view, people are cutting ahead unfairly. And then in this narrative, there is Barack Obama, to the side, the line supervisor who seems to be waving these people (and the pelican) ahead. So the government seemed to be on the side of the people who were cutting in line and pushing the people in line back.

Hochschild is not seeking to excuse the obvious racism embodied in this narrative, or to deny its pervasive influence on whites who support Donald Trump and other xenophobic Republicans. She only explains that nearly everyone she interviewed articulated some version of this "deep story," to use her words — "a story in which you lift away facts and moral judgment and just find the story that feels true."

A massively funded apparatus of creative thinkers and skillful personalities inundate voters with right-wing propaganda on a daily basis, creating an alternative universe in which "facts and moral judgment" drift away to make room for the hateful scapegoating of all the people Hochschild identifies above.

What is the centrist "deep story" that might respond to this? Is there even a centrist hypothesis to explain and alter the continual decay of American life?

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently courted the scorn of centrists for stating the obvious by calling Biden's vision for the country "hazy." None of the attacks on her even tried to offer an alternate assessment of Biden's prospective agenda. Of course there is time for the incoming president to communicate with more clarity and specificity, but progressives in Congress are only expressing the reasonable concern that 20 months after Biden announced his presidential candidacy, no one can honestly describe his overarching vision for governance, reform and public policy.

The progressive or leftist politics that Ocasio-Cortez represents at least offers Americans, especially those who suffer from poverty and despair, a "deep story." The leftist deep story has the benefit of being true. It doesn't require adherents to overlook relevant facts or suspend all moral judgment. It makes no room for racism or nativism. Instead it accurately surveys the reality on the ground, from the South Side of Chicago to the swamps of Louisiana, and offers real, actionable solutions, which double as an effective counterargument against the nationalism of the fast-rising far right.

As psychiatrist Jonathan Metzl demonstrates in his book, "Dying of Whiteness," many white people in "heartland" America are so deeply committed to "racial resentment" that they will actively vote and fight against their own access to medicine, education, clean air and better wages. Many of the poor people Metzl interviewed essentially took the position that it is preferable to starve than to endorse policies that might better the lot of Blacks or "illegal immigrants."

Of course progressives shouldn't assume that they will convert Trump followers to democratic socialism with a few Bernie Sanders speeches and John Mellencamp records. They may, however, begin to shift some political support with active and aggressive engagement throughout the country, explaining exactly why their "deep story" is better than racial inculpation and division.

As for the centrists, they guarantee failure, offering exactly nothing other than their own arrogance and provably false prescriptions to ordinary people confused and outraged over the decline of their communities and the precarity of their own lives.

Centrists insist that "moderation" is the only sensible approach to national politics in a large and diverse country. They might have an argument worthy of consideration if the world's problems were moderate. But the impending climate apocalypse is not moderate, nor is the dramatic and worsening economic inequality, on a scale not seen since the Gilded Age. Those things cannot be addressed with compromises or half-measures.

Centrist equivocation will only alienate Americans from each other, while emboldening the forces of right-wing extremism, ignorance and hatred. From the 1980s onward, through recession, war terrorism, and ecological catastrophe, this story has repeated itself time and time again. How many times will the "sensible" centrists have to watch the country descend into chaos before they learn its lessons?

Trump's delusions and conspiracies are only one aspect of the distinctive American bias against reality

On this holiday, millions of Americans are gathering around a homemade feast of comfort food, basking in the warmth of familial love and giving each other a potentially life-threatening virus. One week ago, Erin Burnett asked during the lead segment of her nightly talk show on CNN, "The CDC is warning Americans not to travel or gather in large groups for Thanksgiving. Will they listen?"

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'Law and order' is a debased concept used to cover up right-wing crime and depravity

Mark Twain's instruction to curious residents of Freedom Central is, by now, familiar: "If you want to see the dregs of society, go down to the jail and watch the changing of the guard." There is little doubt that the corrections officer who beats and torments the inmates under his supervision would use the phrase "law and order" as a defense for his own lawlessness. Almost any usage of that loaded term in American civic discourse serves as qualification for membership in a diner's club of hell.

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America's indifference to death is nothing new -- but it's made this crisis much worse

American culture has always demonstrated a callous indifference to death. At our nation's inception, its triumphant rhetoric of equality and democratic revolution excluded any acknowledgment of slavery, or the genocide conducted against its Native population. Over the past two centuries, America's history of uninterrupted war, conquest and exploitation bred into the public too much comfort with the consequences

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