Republicans believe lying will make it so — and they may be right

I had a friend who was a pathological liar. I do not use that term lightly; he really was. We met in college and then through an odd set of circumstances wound up working for the same television station in New York—in fact, our offices were right next door to each other.

As the widowed Caitlin Thomas said of her poet husband Dylan, "He'd lie about what he had for breakfast." My friend was the same way—it didn't matter what. Small example: he'd tell you all the incredible things that he read in a new book and when you read it for yourself, you discovered that he had made everything up. None of it was there.

From time to time, his serial dishonesty caught up with him and there was trouble. And once it even caught up with me—at his funeral. Speaking with his mother—and for the life of me, I don't remember why I said anything but there must have been a reason—I mentioned that he told me he was adopted and that they had been excellent parents. He often spoke of it. She looked at me in horror. It was completely untrue, of course, one last gotcha from the grave.While alive, he usually got away with all of this because he was funny, smart, entertaining, charming, tall, and good-looking. He had the charisma one sometimes experiences with the truly psychotic.

Which brings one, as it must, to one Donald J. Trump. Not charming, funny or smart, but sufficiently charismatic to the many who continue to find appealing the brute, bludgeoning force of his bullying character and the entertainment value of his obnoxious reality television persona. He speaks for me, they claim, not realizing that he's simply leading them astray while lining his pockets with their hard-earned cash. They feel a need to be led, and he leads them, right by the nose.

In his new book, "Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost," The Wall Street Journal's Michael C. Bender writes about the "Front Row Joes," the fanatics who even today slavishly attend Trump rallies in the manner of Deadheads following the remnants of The Grateful Dead on tour after tour. He writes:

They were mostly older White men and women who lived paycheck to paycheck with plenty of time on their hands—retired or close to it, estranged from their families or otherwise without children—and Trump had, in a surprising way, made their lives richer. The president himself almost always spent the night in his own bed and kept few close friends. But his rallies gave the Joes a reason to travel the country, staying at one another's homes, sharing hotel rooms and carpooling. Two had married—and later divorced—by Trump's second year in office.

He tells a story about one of the Joes:

When Randal Thom, a 60-year-old ex-Marine with a long gray mustache, fell severely ill with a high fever and debilitating congestion, he refused to go to the hospital. He was a heavy smoker who was significantly overweight and knew he faced an increased risk of severe effects from covid-19. Still, he refused to take a coronavirus test and potentially increase the caseload on Trump's watch: "I'm not going to add to the numbers," he told me. Thom survived the scare, but died months later in a car accident while returning home to Minnesota from a Trump boat parade in Florida.

Yet, Bender notes, such cult-like devotion "wasn't reciprocated. Trump was careless with his supporters' innocence, as he turned coronavirus tests into political scorecards and painted civil rights protests as a breeding ground for antifa. His last campaign-style event as president, the "Save America" rally on Jan. 6 in Washington, helped fuel a deadly riot at the Capitol that has resulted in the arrests of more than 500 Americans."

Trump's disdain for his own supporters is backed up by another in the flurry of new books just released about the 2020 campaign and its aftermath. In "Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency," Michael Wolff claims that a little more than three weeks before January 6, watching a crowd gathering in Washington for yet another Stop the Steal rally, Trump said, "Seems like quite a lot of crazies." He compared them to contestants on Let's Make a Deal dressing up in goofy outfits to gain the emcee's attention:

The president often expressed puzzlement over who these people were with their low-rent "trailer camp" bearing and their "get-ups," once joking that he should have invested in a chain of tattoo parlors and shaking his head about "the great unwashed."

And yet their fierce devotion appears undiminished. Curiously, it extends to the belief of many of them—egged on by politicians and right-wing media—that COVID inoculations are a government plot, even though their Fearless Leader persists in taking credit for the development of the vaccines, received the most advanced medicine available for his own bout with the virus and had himself and wife Melania vaccinated, albeit behind closed doors. Same goes for Trump tool Tucker Carlson at Fox News, who refuses to admit having had his shots while simultaneously giving airtime to every crackpot conspiracy theory about the disease and its cure.

They think they're invulnerable to COVID. Virtually no one or nothing has been able to convince them otherwise. Nor do they seem to understand that from the beginning if masks had been worn and social distancing rules observed, we'd probably be past this pandemic by now and there would have been many fewer deaths and less chance for mutations to take charge—as they have now with the Delta variant burning through the unvaccinated.

"I admit that I'm struggling to come up with an analogy that would shed some light on the sheer insanity of this moment," conservative commentator and Never Trumper Charlie Sykes wrote at The Bulwark:

Try to imagine, for example, a campaign to mock attempts to improve airline safety in the wake of a crash that killed hundreds. Or try to envision a political class that would ridicule and undermine engineers who were trying to shore up the foundations of condominiums in Florida in the days after a horrific building collapse there.
None of that, however, even comes close to the genuine depravity of the current burst of performative anti-vax demagoguery we are seeing right now… Faced with all of this, much of the right's reaction has ranged from the puerile to the criminally reckless.

Sykes describes it using the legal term "depraved indifference to human life" and so it is. Yet, Republican leadership in Congress falls in lockstep with the former guy and his followers' mass hysteria (although you can bet most of the legislators jumped the line to get their own COVID jabs). They continue to promote the Big Lie that the election was stolen and have added to that massive con job their claims that the January 6 insurrection was peaceful—despite the massive video evidence and the first criminal sentencing on Monday of one of those arrested for the assault on the Capitol.

Look, too, at their defeat of a bipartisan commission to investigate that day and their opposition to Nancy Pelosi's select committee, which shortly will begin hearings. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy named his five members of the committee on Monday—three of whom voted in January to overturn the election results and one of whom is Jim Jordan, the notorious Trump troll who lives to roil cauldrons of anger and distrust.

Not only do GOP honchos fear for their job security—that Trump's motley crew of voters will do whatever Trump tells them to do, accepting every one of his tens of thousands of pathological lies—they also think his grip on those devotees increases the power of the Republican Party's attempts at a de facto minority government pledged to obstruction. Their deluded devotion to Trump allows Republicans to continue pushing their decades-old agenda of tax cuts, conservative judges, and culture wars.

This in the face of President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party's substantive if imperfect proposals that actually would help people—massive infrastructure funding and voting rights, among others. But show the Trump gang streets destroyed by floods, arteries clogged with mud—they'll insist there's no climate change. Immigration reform? The so-called "browning of America" sends them into paroxysms of panic. Progress is anathema.

They play on the racist fears and economic anxieties of uninformed, conspiracy-driven, and easily manipulated white voters. It works far more effectively than it should, allowing Trump and his Republican cronies to further consolidate control from the state level up and fill their personal and party coffers with the graft and grift of campaign contributions and other illicit payoffs.

I know this sounds as if I still think Donald Trump is president. Believe me, I light candles on the half hour giving thanks that he's not. But far too many of the mob really think that he is, that the election was fake and that January 6 was the Lexington and Concord of a new civil war.

Every attempt at bipartisanship is undermined at every turn. Here's minority leader Mitch McConnell, speaking at an event in Kentucky earlier this month:

The era of bipartisanship on this stuff is over… This is not going to be done on a bipartisan basis. This is going to be a hell of a fight over what this country ought to look like in the future and it's going to unfold here in the next few weeks. I don't think we've had a bigger difference of opinion between the two parties.

They will not play by the rules. Democratic leadership should wake up. Drop the filibuster—it's a tradition not a statute and foolish at a time when our democracy is being doused in gasoline, a lit match at the ready. Work harder than ever toward next year's midterms and taking more seats in the House and Senate—forget the popular wisdom that the party in the White House loses seats during the midterms.

What's more, refute every single one of their falsehoods every single time. Let none pass unchallenged -- see Dr. Anthony Fauci confront Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul on Tuesday and learn. As per The Washington Post's Greg Sargent, "Frame everything around the basic goal of ensuring that Republicans are the ones on the defensive.

This might include asking anti-critical race theory Republicans why they think our cadets are such snowflakes that they must be shielded from hard truths about their country's past. Or asking why Republicans are doing far too little to encourage GOP voters to endure a little pinprick to protect their friends, relatives and neighbors from dying of a deadly disease. Or why they're trying to bury the truth about their own party's complicity in an effort to sack the U.S. government with mob violence.

Nothing gets done otherwise. Nothing. Worse, the mob takes back control. Trump officially returns with all his pathological lies, scorn, ineptitude, prejudice, rage, and yearnings for revenge intact and made worse. The authoritarian nightmare becomes reality. And that's no lie.

The biggest threat to Israel is the occupation

I first met Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, the Israeli peace and anti-apartheid activist, on a sunny spring Sunday in Jerusalem almost exactly seventeen years ago, in 2004. It was at the end of the second Intifada, and a few of us clambered into a van so that she and a colleague could give us a tour of what it was like to be a Palestinian living in the Occupied Territories. It was revelatory. We've remained friends ever since.

Angela's the director of Jahalin Solidarity, a non-profit dedicated to ending the forcible displacement of Palestinians and defending their rights, including self-determination and an end to the Israeli occupation of their land.

She's my basic, go-to person on most matters involving Israel and the occupation, so naturally I got in touch when fighting broke out a week and a half ago between the Israeli military and Hamas forces in Gaza and other parts of Israel and the West Bank, the worst since 2014. Rockets by the hundreds have been launched into Israel, bombs have rained down on Gaza. According to USA Today, 12 Israelis including a 5-year-old boy, a 16-year-old girl and a soldier have been killed. Current Palestinian losses are at 230, including 64 children. More than 1600 have been wounded and 58,000 forced from their homes.

The events of recent days, the International Crisis Group's Mairav Zonszein writes in the UK newspaper The Telegraph, suggest that Israeli policymakers "now seem unable to achieve even the lesser objective they espouse of long-term quiet not just in Gaza but also in occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and inside Israel proper…

What has unfolded… indicates that Israel's strategy for achieving long-term quiet is not working -- not only with Hamas in Gaza, but on the 'Palestinian question' overall."

Angela and I communicated just as a fragile ceasefire was negotiated that began in the early hours of Friday morning. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

What have your days been like while all of this has been going on?

The mornings are the worst. I wake up groggy. Within an hour I have to decide what to focus on, when all hell is generally letting loose – armed militias on the streets, especially in Palestinian parts of East Jerusalem, and Gaza being pulped. Two nights ago, I slept only an hour, woken by incessant warplanes flying in formation – they're using F-15s and F-16s. Then you start thinking of them dropping payloads, gifts of death. One guy on a Zoom call of about 70 Israeli and Palestinian peace organizations the other day just lost eight members of his family but kept working – only mentioning it at the end of the call.

There's analysis to read, focusing on what to share as advocacy resources. Twitter jumping. Stats of the dead. Friends asking how I am. There's a horrible feeling among peace activists and other Israelis that it's all falling apart. Dark, dangerous spirits and genies deliberately have been let out of the bottle (real neo-fascists) and no confirmation it can ever go back.

Police violence is more brutal everywhere, giving the distinct impression that this "round of fighting" (a euphemism for genocide?) was deliberately provoked, with [Israeli prime minister] Bibi Netanyahu seen by so many analysts and even members of his party, Likud, as having a vested interest in declaring war on Gaza and the Palestinians of East Jerusalem. Why were the police so harsh? So damned undisciplined? So racist?

Huge damage has been done to prospects for co-existence. Palestinian Israelis are 20% of the population, they're our fellow citizens and our policies are radicalizing them, while 340,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem live with almost no civil rights at all – including no one to vote for. The rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territories [OPT] also are without any statehood -- 300,000, for example, live in Area C under Israeli military control in what for many, many years now we've been saying is an apartheid reality. Now Human Rights Watch and B'Tselem are saying it, too. So, in the early part of the day, it's a question of trying to stay calm and not panic. Trying to find what's essential, not get distracted or want to retreat into reading irrelevant stuff in the papers. Or spending time on Google Streetview somewhere in the Sussex countryside or searching for our old home in Mbabane, Swaziland, as an escape!

What's the significance in this current conflict of Sheikh Jarrah, an East Jerusalem neighborhood settlers have long coveted?

Sheikh Jarrah is in the Holy Basin, just north of the Old City. The settlers with a messianic view see it as part of their birthright. Their intention is to take over the Old City and its surrounds.Watch the new short film Inside the Battle for Jerusalem by Vice News on YouTube or A Walk in the Park by the BBC in 2010. They make no secret of their intentions.

For me, this has nothing to do with Judaism -- just as Christian Zionists renounce Jesus' teachings and instead are gunning for The Rapture – the death cult that's also riding on this poor horse. Judaism talks of respecting The Other. Of not doing to someone what you wouldn't have done to you. Of modesty and humility. These people are, in my opinion, just fundamentally wrong. They do not seek peace. They do not want to abide by The Ten Commandments. They want power, they want land, they're addicted to a Golden Calf. And of course, Donald Trump jumped on all the landmines. Remember Jared Kushner boasted of having solved the Middle East conflict, of having brought peace? Yeah, well, that didn't work out so well, did it?

Let's roll back a bit. Americans hear about Gaza and Hamas and then the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Many don't fully know the geography and the issues and only think of Israel as "America's friend in the Middle East."

There's a lot of commentary right now about the America – Israel relationship over the years. Rome and Sparta, the tail and the dog, and which is doing the wagging? The United States, with a certain level of naivete, has been an enabler since the Sixties. Two young nations established on lands of indigenous people whom they've deliberately displaced. Two nations' pioneering spirit that's been enabled to go out and conquer and take. Israelis justify it with history: "How can I steal what's already mine? God gave us this land. We're the chosen people."

From my perspective, that mentality doesn't understand the power of love, the need for empathy to protect your own humanity. Or social needs depending on The Stranger. And then – the Holocaust. "Never again to us" is taught. Not "never again to anyone." And that trauma's in the DNA of many – exploited by others. So when Israeli children go to Auschwitz on school trips the message is, "Look what happened when we didn't have a strong army."

The lesson's not taught that we're in a land with sacred meaning for all three theocracies, each different, yet praying to the same God. Each different, yet all based on similar foundations – love truth, praise God, be a decent human being, have a pure clean heart. Not a closed mean one, harboring murder and hatred and an inability to give.What would Netanyahu or [head of the Religious Zionist Party Bezalel] Smotrich say if a wise man made them choose between killing their dearest treasure or giving it away so it might live?

Is much of this crisis really about Netanyahu trying to divert attention from his alleged crimes and election problems? Is he relying on the notion that putting Israel back into war will solidify support for him?

This question's on everyone's lips. In private, even his own Likud party members are said to be deeply distressed – some, like former cabinet member Gideon Sa'ar, have left Likud to set up other right-wing parties. We're reading testimony coming from court as Netanyahu's cases (accusing him of bribery, corruption and breach of trust) are heard. The evidence is damning. So this "war" was likely deliberately cooked up as a distraction. And see – he foiled an alternative coalition agreement (having for the fourth time in two years failed to build a coalition himself) that was almost signed.

Also don't forget the fissures in Israel as a fact of life, much incited and developed by him -- he's targeted the police, the judiciary, the opposition, the media.Fake news isn't only alive and well in the USA. Netanyahu's deliberately lying, playing the victim.

So people are even more divided – religious against secular. Settlers against those who want to end the occupation and make peace. Ashkenazi against Mizrahi Jews. Israelis against Palestinian 48'erfellow citizens. Russians are discriminated against. So are Ethiopians. Druze. Bedouin. Sometimes one wonders if the soup's too thick!! But war has that way of bringing people together, back into the ghetto mentality, the bunker. So yes, it seems this conflict is being deliberately prolonged by those who want to stay in power.

In 1995, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated for trying to make peace, so it's become that much tougher since. He told the Israeli public, "We're strong enough to come out of the ghetto." But even with nuclear deterrence and one of the world's largest armies, Israelis feel weak and vulnerable – and see themselves as the villa in the jungle without realizing that they're helping to create a jungle. Anarchy. Impunity. Abandonment of human rights, or the international multilateral system. Justice. Normal life.

Bibi says we must live by the sword – but he's never tried alternatives. There was never that "generous offer" so beloved of those who believe "Israel right or wrong!" Eldad Yaniv, former aide to ex-prime minister Ehud Barak, incessantly mea culpas on TV saying that was a slogan meant to win (they lost anyhow) an election after the 2000 talks with Palestinian Authority chair Yasser Arafat at Camp David failed. They never realized the public would believe it, but prefer to play the blame game.

That's why I wrote in 2020 about who started the suicide bombings inside Israel that took the country over to the Right. Yes, Hamas is scary. But our policies of occupation and apartheid, of land-grab and displacement create conditions in which terror thrives. So no, we can't feel confident deep down that people like us. Or that behind our backs they're not scheming to stop us… I often say "You've got to be really mad to stay sane in all this sickness. Only psychopaths don't feel emotional empathy with those suffering." Is it fear in the DNA? Brainwashing and unwillingness to see The Other as human? Or maybe as even more human than you yourself?

So who's to blame? Are allegations of Hamas provocation valid at all (they did fire many rockets toward Jerusalem and other Israeli sites) or were they themselves provoked? Recognizing that these are just the latest events in decades of discrimination against the Palestinian people, how are the violence and death of recent days different from those of the past? Is this the worst you've seen it since 2014 or the second Intifada?

I blame the conditions of our occupation, and the mistakes that were made early on by incoming refugees who desperately did what they thought they had to do – many of whom (check out Zochrot's website) now regret the policies then adopted. Even [Israel's first prime minister David] Ben Gurion, when asked years later if he'd made mistakes, acknowledged there were things he wished they hadn't done.

The Geneva Conventions, a treaty Israel signed in its early years, prevents the acquisition of land by belligerent means. So the 1967 occupied lands should be restored to those who were there before. Not 2000 years ago – we're talking about living refugees, many living inside the Occupied Palestinian Territories in miserable camps.

And part of this tragedy is that abused families abuse if the cycle of violence and trauma isn't healed. Not least, it breeds entitlement and carte blanche: "We're above the law due to our suffering." I don't underestimate the impact of that time – my late mother nursed Holocaust survivors from Bergen-Belsen as a student nurse in London. I remember my parents whispering about an evil too monstrous to be comprehensible. Or even talked about. Only whispers and photographs that – too late – were hidden from we children.

Even with the current new ceasefire, are we close to another war, to a third Intifada?

It's a different scenario, I think, more a state of anarchy, riots and breakdown of the social fabric. Trust is dissipating. Age-old feelings are rising to the surface, neo-fascist urges floating like scum to the top. I think people are funding the sewage lunatics – I was told if I was working in a right-wing NGO, I could easily get a million dollars, no strings attached, not even reporting required. Could it be true? Well, Bibi's in court about his courting of billionaires. The late Sheldon Adelson last year bought the US Embassy residence, and tried to buy your presidency, right?

There was talk – maybe as part of the ceasefire negotiations' posturing (because game theory's their game) -- of whether we'll re-occupy Gaza! Remember we left it when the water ran out underground. And when the Israeli public asked why soldiers were on their knees in military lines searching for their friends' body parts. We hear of a possible northern front, too. But no talk of real peace.

Israel claims they've tried to minimize Palestinian deaths…

Even if it believes it's pinpointing buildings, why are so many civilian families dying? So many children? And 180 warplanes flying over a strip of land the size of Philadelphia? Only 5% of Gazans have been vaccinated and they just killed the professor responsible for Gaza's COVID fight. It's one of the most densely populated places on the planet.

The Iron Dome anti-missile system, supplied by the USA, minimizes Israeli fatalities, and certainly there's a power imbalance that has nothing to do with proportionality. Bombs every 10 seconds, we read. Trauma to last a lifetime, together with the fast-breeding of hatred, fear, revenge, anger and depression. I know people in Gaza – I can't pick up the phone. What do I say? "Are you still alive?" That feeling in the pit of the stomach if the phone rings unanswered – as has happened in the past, in 2014.

Israel bombed a media center building in Gaza, housing Associated Press and Al Jazeera, among others. Your reaction?

Hamas isn't only its military wing – it's the government of that enclave, a political party... So maybe there was a ministry of women's affairs there they bombed? Or any other office not part of the armed wing. What I do know is that they bombed a factory with Gaza's only 3-D printer, which manufactured tourniquets and other medical devices or supplies. So when Netanyahu says there are only two options: continued bombing or re-occupying Gaza, it shows me that he and his ilk -- for he's not alone, decades of militarism have had their impact – never consider trying peace. He says we have no choice but to live by the sword. Is that why so many Israeli kids are living in Berlin? And doctors are leaving? COVID has shown Israelis how many Palestinian doctors keep the hospitals open and functioning.

What is the US not doing that it should be doing? How can we best pressure the Israeli government?

I firmly believe in the progressive wing of the Democrats. Bernie Sanders is the conscience of the party, and maybe the world (pace the Pope) on this. So's Rep. Betty McCollum of Minnesota with her bill to restrict the sale of US weapons so they're not used in defiance of human rights, especially to harm children or civilians.

Put succinctly: STOP ARMING ISRAEL. When you see your best friend's a junkie, stop giving them their drug supply! Get the US to recognize the international borders, so it has limits literally and metaphorically.

And end the impunity. Suspend the US veto at the UN Security Council! And recognize Palestine, so it can start its pathway to being a leader – with Israel - of a demilitarized, feminist and federal Middle East. That's my radical imagination dream of where to focus the next 50 years.

The world's waking up, even in quiet talks over Friday dinner: "Something's gone horribly wrong with Israel."

Is there no compromise to be had? Have the Israelis turned their back on a two-state solution or any solution that does not end with complete subjugation of the Palestinian people?

Bibi Netanyahu and the messianic or hardline rightwing have alienated the Israeli mainstream from choosing peace, even though some 50% still think the two-state solution's the preferred way forward, and fear the coming tragedy of a bi-national, fully apartheid state. (Already 25% of Israeli Jews believe Israel is indeed an apartheid state, according to polls.)

I'm hoping that now that Palestinian 48'ers [Palestinian citizens of Israel] are uniting with their fellow Palestinians – in Gaza, East Jerusalem, the rest of the OPT and diaspora – the Israeli public will begin to understand that while they were living in a false reality of "quiet," the racism, supremacy, apartheid and discrimination they were imposing on the Palestinians won't deliver even quiet now. So, it's time to rethink. (The Israeli militant right may say it's not time to change the disc, it's time to change the magazine – for more ammo.)

Is there any realistic end in sight that does not end in more and more death and bloodshed?

There has to be. We must get another government. Even [Israeli Defense Minister] Benny Gantz (for whom I don't vote), after the last election said the biggest threat facing Israel is its occupation.

Our occupation corrodes our souls into apathy, encourages supremacist worldviews, and levels of fear and alienation that are scary. Children grow up to hate because they don't know anyone Palestinian. Football crowds regularly chant "Death to Arabs" while those whose necks are under our boot say "Death to Jews."

But if we can't turn the corner and reset, I believe, tragically, this country has no future. Needed in the aftermath of the Holocaust as a haven, Israel has become far from safe or secure, and increasingly is breeding anti-Semitism. So worldwide, Jews are now less safe. Yet they aren't putting pressure on Israel to end its 53-year occupation, to sit down and recognize the State of Palestine, to deal with the issues arising from the refugees: reparations, return, apologies.

Negotiate! Shoving stuff under the carpet only creates a stink that gradually undermines the very foundations. We must learn how to trust. And for that we must be trustworthy. We have to get back to the essence of Judaism – not the wild messianic versions of the greedy visionaries. And never forget – just before apartheid in South Africa fell, the activists were at their most depressed and hopeless. They didn't know it was almost over.

In the last few days, a video has been seen on American TV in which a Palestinian woman says to a settler, "Why are stealing my home?" To which the man replies, "If I don't steal it, someone else will." I found that breath-taking on several levels. How about you?

Glad you saw that. That was in Sheikh Jarrah.Muna el Kurd is Palestinian and Yaakov Fauci is a Zionist settler from Brooklyn. You can see more of their interchange on a Vice News clip just launched:Inside the Battle for Jerusalem.

I was at Sheikh Jarrah in 2003, and wrote about it. That was my baptism by fire, I guess. The sheer banality of evil. It's not a movie, with heightened music or dramatic weather effects. It happens in real life. Acts carried out even by people you may know or recognize from TV.

What's your message to those in the US who keep sending military aid to Israel? What's your response to those who condemn Palestinian violence but fail to do the same when the violence comes from Israel?

Wake up! You're helping Israel to destroy itself. If you can't see what's happening, you're willfully blind, prejudiced and have been drinking the Kool-Aid of the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy – the whitewashers. People here want to scapegoat and blame, while knowing they're carrying out war crimes. But to take responsibility? To see our contribution? No.

What can American citizens do?

At the minimum, speak out. You are not alone. Most of the world accepts the Palestinian narrative by now. Support your enlightened members of Congress in their attempts at peacemaking, so they know they have your back against those whose funding often keeps them quiet. When you see The Onion inviting Israel by Twitter (58.6K likes/16.8K retweets) to bomb its offices all over the world, you can see it's safe to speak out. John Oliver is, Jon Stewart did. On the right side of history. And conscience. And religious values. On the side of humanity. And freedom.

So, have the courage to voice your opinion. Vote for and support members of Congress who introduce bills to stop arming Israel. If you are part of civil society, organize around that demand, including BDS, and show your representatives in the government that you want sanctions, that you want them to stand up to Israel.

Watch, too, what's happening elsewhere: in the United Kingdom's House of Lords, a six-minute speech that's revolutionary. On June 14, there'll be a debate on sanctions in the UK, as a result of some 370,000 signatures (in six days) calling for them. Last night, Palestinian Amb. Husam Zomlot was on Ch4 TV also convincingly setting out the way ahead.

And vote for progressives. Talk to your friends. Read. Come visit to see for yourself. And check what you're being told, in case it's spin or fake or "hasbara" – propaganda.

Through all of this, what keeps you and your activist allies going?

When you know people who are suffering, and you see gross injustice, it's hard to walk away. I lived in South Africa, and saw the racism of the apartheid system there. The Whites always justified it, but deep down, felt superior, even when their leaders were corrupt and war mongering. Since humanity's inter-dependent, if we aren't socially responsible each to the other, we live demeaned, even dangerous lives.

Often, no one's paying us for our activism or our high level advocacy. Neighbors disagree or disapprove (sometimes violently!). But we have a duty to speak out. Not least since we have a voice, whereas when Palestinians say what we're privileged to be able to say, they're silenced. And we love the better side of Israel – which still exists.

Our work is trying to change the paradigm. To correct mistakes made. Do we give up in the middle? If this is psychological warfare being waged against us, do we just tuck the tail in, and give up? Is that a response that offers any salvation? No. We need more strong, loving spirits – otherwise we could be in that post-Tahrir phase, when ten years ago the Arab Spring, the revolution, collapsed.

These days, you don't have to be delusional to be in the Republican leadership -- but it helps

If you've chosen to read this, it's a fair bet you're been aware for quite some time that the Republican Party has gone completely insane—especially if you agree with that classic definition of insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Time and again the GOP and their scarecrow leader Donald Trump have proven the wisdom of that definition. Although all 50 states officially confirmed the results, for more than half a year, Republicans have challenged ad nauseum last November's legitimate election of Joe Biden. Dozens of their frivolous lawsuits have been thrown out of courts. Currently, a ridiculous and baseless recount by QAnon aficionados in Maricopa County, Arizona, goes on and on—their latest ploy examining some 40,000 ballots for traces of bamboo, which would indicate these votes were fakes sent from China (!)

I'm not making this up.

And of course, throughout, there's the endless braying via social media and right-wing radio and TV of unfounded claims that the vote was manipulated. Trump is our one true president, they shout (and so does he), a deranged notion that makes me cold and clammy all over.

The prize for the wackiest quote of the past week or so goes to Debra Ell, a Michigan Republican organizer, who told Ashley Parker and Marianna Sotomayor of The Washington Post, "I think I speak for many people in that Trump has never actually been wrong, and so we've learned to trust when he says something, that he's not just going to spew something out there that's wrong and not verified."

Now then, she continued, please leave me be so I can await the weekly saucer that whisks me to my timeshare on the Planet Mongo.

Okay, that part I made up. Fake news.

This all would be funny (and yes, some of it is, for sure), but for the fact that belief in this fantasy is screwing up the rest of the country, a land already reeling from more than a year's worth of death and disease and the four plague years of the Trump White House. It has become the litmus test for membership in the GOP; you either buy this patently false canard or you get out of their party. Those few Republicans who have upheld the accuracy and legality of the election have been censured or fired—the aforementioned Ms. Ell, for example, is involved in an effort to remove the Michigan Republican Party's executive director just because he said "the election wasn't stolen" and that the loss was Trump's fault. Blasphemy! Unclean!

You see what's happening to Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney from Wyoming. Third in the GOP House leadership, daughter of the former vice president, this arch conservative had the temerity not only to suggest that the election was honest but also to condemn Trump's incitement of the January 6 deadly assault on the Capitol.

Last Monday, during an American Enterprise Institute conference at Sea Island, Georgia, she told attendees, "We can't embrace the notion the election is stolen. It's a poison in the bloodstream of our democracy. We can't whitewash what happened on January 6 or perpetuate Trump's big lie. It is a threat to democracy. What he did on January 6 is a line that cannot be crossed."

She followed up with an op-ed in The Washington Post: "Trump is seeking to unravel critical elements of our constitutional structure that make democracy work -- confidence in the result of elections and the rule of law…

The question before us now is whether we will join Trump's crusade to delegitimize and undo the legal outcome of the 2020 election, with all the consequences that might have. I have worked overseas in nations where changes in leadership come only with violence, where democracy takes hold only until the next violent upheaval. America is exceptional because our constitutional system guards against that. At the heart of our republic is a commitment to the peaceful transfer of power among political rivals in accordance with law. President Ronald Reagan described this as our American 'miracle.'

Cheney concluded, "History is watching. Our children are watching. We must be brave enough to defend the basic principles that underpin and protect our freedom and our democratic process. I am committed to doing that, no matter what the short-term political consequences might be."

As a result, she's losing her job as House Republican conference chair to the ambitious and opportunistic Rep. Elise Stefanik of upstate New York, who has attached herself to Donald Trump like a limpet on a big dumb ocean rock.

This, even though Cheney consistently voted for almost everything Trump wanted when he was president—more so than Stefanik (92 percent vs. 77 percent)—and she still sides with the far right and votes no, no, never on almost anything significant from Democrats on the other side of the aisle.

Nonetheless, by calling out the danger and speaking truth about the election and Trump's perfidy, for her loyalty to country and Constitution, she must be expelled. The once-upon-a-time party of Honest Abe has decided that reality is a worn-out concept that just gets in the way of their obeisance to the "say anything" madness of Trump.

They see him as the key to electoral success and political power, despite his and their losses. This is one reason they keep claiming victory in the presidential election in direct contradiction of the facts -- now including internal polling data Republican leadership have been sitting on that demonstrate Trump's toxicity in swing districts. As per The Post, "Nearly twice as many voters had a strongly unfavorable view of the former president as had a strongly favorable one."

"Right now, it's basically the Titanic," dissident Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger said of his party Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation". "We're in the middle of this slow sink. We have a band playing on the deck telling everybody it's fine. And meanwhile, Donald Trump's running around trying to find women's clothing and get on the first lifeboat."

Still, there's method to this madness. It's a distraction, yes, like the nonsensical culture wars of hamburgers and Mr. Potato Head, but more important, the claims of fraud and an illegitimate presidency are being used to barrage and undermine every single piece of policy Joe Biden and his team are attempting to implement. Last week, his "Grim Reaper" identity intact, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told a press conference back in his home state of Kentucky that, "One hundred percent of my focus is standing up to this administration." (He'd do himself and the GOP a favor by shifting a little of that focus to Biden's 64% job approval rating and asking why.)

What's more, the steady din of Republican allegations, no matter how absurd, serves not only to reinforce the Big Lie about the elections, it also emboldens the forces of voter suppression that use these deceits to justify legislation that further denies the ballot to anyone who doesn't pass the GOP test for what it means to be an American. That would imit suffrage to those who are white, Christian, conservative, filled with anger, suspicion and fearful of change that's inevitable.

Increasingly, Republicans in Congress also are using it to justify the fatal insurrection of January 6 that sought to overthrow the results of the Electoral College and attack elected officials. Many on the Hill actively are working to prevent a thorough investigation of what really happened—and who was involved.

Back in the 1950s, many in the Republican Party embraced the anti-Communist witch hunts of Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy, false allegations that destroyed the lives of many innocent men and women. It was not until other members of the party demonstrated the courage and integrity to stand up and speak out against him, ultimately bringing him and his deranged cruelty to an end.

That version of the Republican Party is long gone. Instead, we see an assemblage of mad grievance hollowed out at the core, lacking morality or grace. Yet another man named McCarthy chooses to be a leader of it, to use the currents of hate to become Speaker of the House and reverse-engineer us back to our recent Trump years of malfeasance, corruption, and governmental inertia. And all of it without a trace of decency or genuine concern for the needs of the American people. (This despite the fact that in the immediate aftermath of the January 6 riot, Kevin McCarthy loudly attacked Trump for his involvement. Now, he has flipped in spectacular fashion, executing a neat jacknife with somersault into the Mar-a-Lago swimming pool. Trump's my guy, he says.)

While expressing perplexity at these goings on, Biden presses ahead, rooting for his proposals, attempting to enlist a modicum of Republican participation while knowing it may be useless. Slowly, history will reveal the full extent of the egregious acts the GOP has committed and lead us to what we must believe will be their ultimate defeat and humiliation. For now, we must continue to hammer back against their lies, support good and sincere governance as we now see it occurring once again, and not allow the Trumpistas to seize power as they did before, either at the election box or through an underhanded conspiracy to overthrow democracy. To stop resisting their falsehoods and schemes would really be, what's the word? Oh yeah, insane.

Flailing into oblivion, the frat boy politics of the GOP simply may end in its unseemly collapse -- or national disaster

Joe Biden is thinking about the complexities of racial and social justice in America, vaccinating the population against COVID-19, combatting domestic terrorism, rebuilding the country's infrastructure, bringing back jobs and climate change. Donald Trump is thinking about money and revenge—and maybe about why his pal Vladimir Putin has all the luck.

Can you imagine how the Former Guy felt when he heard last week's news that his man-crush, Russian President Putin, just signed a law allowing him to run for two additional terms? Given the largely meaningless nature of elections over there, the legislation could keep Vlad in office until 2036, when he'll be 83.

Boy, Trump may have thought, how come he gets to do that and not me? I constantly have to lie about the election results, keep bellyaching that I won, and foment an attempted coup d'etat at the US Capitol. None of which worked. Let me tell you, it's exhausting! Now watch this putt...

Nonetheless, based on his great election fraud lie, all that prevarication does keep the Trump coffers filled with campaign dollars -- cash that's still being collected by the hour from the readily bamboozled. There's some $85 million in his Save America PAC, according to one of his advisors. Legally, much of it can be used for whatever Ol' Punkinhead feels like.

That's a good thing for Trump, because his much-vaunted business acumen continues to come back to nip him in the butt. Not only are his taxes and most of his other corporate records being ever more closely scrutinized for criminal activity by New York State Attorney General Tish James and Manhattan DA Cy Vance, but Dan Alexander at Forbes magazine reports, "From the time he entered the White House in January 2017 to his departure a few months ago, Donald Trump's fortune fell by nearly a third, from $3.5 billion to $2.4 billion. The S&P 500, meanwhile, increased 70%." You'll recall that he refused to divest his portfolio when he became president. As a result, "Trump bogged down his presidency with ethics issues for years, while also missing a chance to cash in on a market boom he helped propel.

If he had sold everything on Day 1, paid the maximum capital-gains taxes on the sales, then put the proceeds into a conflict-free fund tracking the S&P 500, Trump would have ended his presidency an estimated $1.6 billion richer than he is today.

The man's a financial genius. Just ask him. Or better yet, ask what remains of the Republican Party which, as per veteran GOP fundraiser Fred Zeidman, is being roiled by "a tremendous complication" – the controlling influence of Trump and his demand to continue leading the Republicans. "He's already proven that he wants to have a major say or keep control of the party," Zeidman told The New York Times, "and he's already shown every sign that he's going to primary everybody that has not been supportive of him. He complicates everything so much."

Saturday night, Trump went off his prepared remarks for a Republican National Committee donor dinner at his Mar-a-Lago resort and delivered one of his notorious rants, still insisting he won the November election and profanely going after everyone from Biden and "Barack Hussein Obama," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Dr. Anthony Fauci to his supposed allies former Vice President Mike Pence, Georgia governor Brian Kemp, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell – "a dumb son of a bitch" -- and McConnell's wife, Trump's former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. Trump claimed that her appointment was a quid pro quo, a favor to insure Mitch's loyalty. Perhaps it was the most honest thing he said all night.

The man's crazier than a junkyard rat and yet the faithful still kneel before him. A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll finds that 60 percent of Republicans continue to believe that Trump won the election – and 50 percent of them believe Trump's new big lie that the January 6 insurrection was actually a peaceful demonstration of love and respect, spoiled only when some nasty antifa infiltrators turned it violent.

Oh, for a simpler, saner time – and I don't mean that white American idyll that never was, a rightwing fever dream in which all is falsely remembered as sunshine, jellybeans and petroleum products burnt without a care. Rather, as columnist Frida Ghitis notes, "It wasn't very long ago that the country had two reality-based, generally centrist parties. Democrats and Republicans, with different philosophies, debated the merits of their ideas, in search of a workable compromise.

But then, bit by bit, the GOP started veering in a different direction. By the time Trump became president, the maximalist, nativist, conspiracy-driven, scandal-manufacturing, hate-stoking wing was already ascendant, propelled by the engines of Fox News and other far-right provocateurs. Trump's victory was the coup that toppled the old GOP and turned it into the extremist MAGA machine.

And now, what's left? A handful of old-fashioned, conservative Republicans in Congress and their supporters who apparently still believe in some semblance of democracy and the republic that gave their party its name. But they're overwhelmed by a crowd of fanatics and sycophants: men and women, in Frida Ghitis' words, busily "promoting the delegitimization of America's duly elected president, people who are endorsing or refusing to rectify dangerous lies."

You know who they are: Cruz, Hawley, Graham, Jordan, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, et al. They include, of course, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, "rewarded by recklessness," to use campaign strategist Rick Wilson's phrase, and as of this moment still standing, despite more and more evidence of his misogyny and possible abusive behavior, sexual and otherwise.

Like so many among these ranks, Trump fanboy Gaetz is one of the smarmy, privileged, attenuated frat boys who refuse to believe that rules and norms apply to them – much like the man who was their president and would be forever more if the rest of us become indifferent and lower our guard. Gaetz cares about his job title only as far as it gets him booked on talk shows and the lecture circuit – so far, he has failed to sponsor a single piece of significant legislation.

In his new memoir, former Republican House Speaker John Boehner describes these types of Republican rabblerousers as "the chaos caucus," not caring about the country but only about their power base and appearances on Fox News and right wing talk radio: "They didn't really want legislative victories," Boehner writes. "They wanted wedge issues and conspiracies and crusades."

Not that Boehner is blameless. He and so many Republican colleagues let themselves be bullied, then acquiesced to our current dilemma, yielding to those pledged to lunacy and a lemming-like fealty to a president as bereft of thought and feeling as they are. You see the results: a shattered party not of ideas and programs, but only insults and bogus intrigues. No wonder the Biden infrastructure proposals infuriate them; they have nothing to offer in return. (Remember Trump's Infrastructure Week, always imminent but never occurring over the whole four years of his presidency?)

They fear any and all success during Biden's first term. Think back to 1993, when now anti-Trumpist conservative Bill Kristol advised Republicans to shun any healthcare plan from Bill and Hillary Clinton. In a memo—Kristol was then head of the Project for the Republican Future—he warned his colleagues, "It will revive the reputation of the party that spends and regulates, the Democrats, as the generous protector of middle-class interests. And it will at the same time strike a punishing blow against Republican claims to defend the middle class by restraining government."

Substitute the name Biden for Clinton and any of Biden's proposals for Clinton's failed healthcare plan and you see what today's GOP strategy is—a replay of Kristol's fears now made deeper and more paranoiac by the lowest common denominators who have taken control of the party. Their anger at Biden's early successes and their fury at the popularity of his proposed programs—even among many self-described Republican voters – have sent them 'round the bend.

Instead of opposition that in past years may sometimes have been based on actual conservative principles, all that really matters to them now is the personal power and campaign money that come from "winning." Mitch McConnell's risible warning to corporations last week that they should "stay out of politics" was a demonstration of just how frantic their party has become.

(McConnell, who relies on corporate dollars, backed away from his statement the very next day. It's worth noting that he made it in reaction to the opposition of many businesses—including Delta Airlines and Coca-Cola—to Georgia's new voter suppression laws. Pained by the increasing voting power of Black, indigenous and people of color, rather than strategize as to how to win them over with ideas, the GOP has determined to stamp out their voices wherever possible, thus acknowledging just how feeble their party's ideology has become.)

Add to this mix a steady drumbeat of rabid, often ad hominem attacks on Democrats and those of different races, genders and creeds, characterized by a mad inclination toward nihilism and anarchy, that encourages such rightwing violence as January 6. Counterterrorism experts warn that this could bring the country down. A recent report from the Director of National Intelligence finds that domestic violent extremist (DVEs) "pose an elevated threat." Daniel Block, executive editor of The Washington Monthly, notes, "Unlike in the 1990s, when right-wing extremism was overwhelmingly disavowed by national Republicans, the modern GOP actively courts the far right."

Ever confrontational, with their rank brand of child-like bullying, a bad habit made worse by the words and deeds of their ex-president, in the end, Republicans are flailing and lashing out. At this point in time, West Virginia's Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is only fooling himself if he truly believes bipartisanship within this Congress is possible.

He makes a mistake in thinking these men and women are redeemable. They're not. But we can build and strengthen support from others with constructive change like much of what the Biden administration is proposing. We can end the filibuster to pass a program of legislation unlike anything since Lyndon Johnson's Great Society and FDR's New Deal.

We've seen there is danger in the GOP's flailing; a lot of collateral, fatal damage can result. The party may be about to die like a harpooned whale, lashing out and dragging too many beneath the waves with it.

As the saying goes, when you stand for nothing, you'll fall for anything. Republican leadership still clings to their #1 False Prophet, living in fear that Trump and his followers might turn on them and support opponents that he'll endorse if incumbents fail to toe the increasingly thin line that bends toward bloodshed and despair.

In November, we voted him out, kept control of the House and now hold a narrow lead in the Senate. But it was too close a call. To return him to the top office, Republicans will do anything—anything except come up with good, constructive ideas. Don't drop your guard: we cannot let him and his cult back in.

The truth on trial at Trump’s second impeachment

While watching Saturday's events in the U.S. Senate and the gamut of public reaction to them, I thought about the disconnect that takes place between the reality of events and the way they're perceived from the outside looking in, especially by the media.

Back in the fall of 2007, I was elected president of the Writers Guild of America, East, and within days was on a plane to Los Angeles where contract negotiations were ongoing between the Writers Guilds East and West and the studios and networks. The talks broke down. Thrown into the deep end of the pool, I was suddenly one of the leaders of an ultimately successful 100-day strike that made headlines around the world. It ended in February 2008, exactly thirteen years ago this week.

I can tell you from personal experience that being at the center of a major news story can be humbling. There are moments of excitement and drama for sure, but it can be discomforting and disorienting as well, and quite revealing when it comes to human nature and the foibles of journalism. Few really understand what it's like to be in the vortex of a news storm.

As a journalist myself, I was stunned on a daily basis by how much misinformation about both the negotiations and the strike was reported by the media, almost all of whom had little or no access to what really was going on behind closed doors—and so relied too much on embellishment, baseless speculation, cherry-picking facts and an overdependence on selective leaks from both sides.

A minor example but one reflective of the problem: At one point early on in the strike, a major Hollywood agent arranged for negotiators to meet secretly at an undisclosed location away from the press—in the hope that our isolation would create some sort of breakthrough.

In truth, we were at a hotel and the secret held. Unfortunately, no progress was made and the strike continued. But a few days later, a reporter wrote a story about the failed talks and proudly announced that he knew precisely where we all had been hiding.

He then proceeded to name the wrong hotel.

This kind of thing, although it may seem trivial, always makes me worry about my own reporting and commentary, the fear that I'm always just about to make some great clanking error or misinterpret the facts. It's happened before. And while in pieces like this I'm not hesitant to pass judgement, to express my own opinion and beliefs, I'm always just a bit wary when journalists or anyone active in social media announce that they know exactly what was going on in various individual's minds and in closed-door meetings.

Often they do, and sometimes they don't. But despite uncertainty, none of this stops many from jumping up and down in anger and righteous indignation when a decision occurs that they don't like, even if—knowingly or not—they've twisted what really happened.

All of which is a roundabout way of saying I'm uneasy categorizing just what went down Saturday in the U.S. Senate chamber and the adjoining cloakroom and conference and caucus areas. Why did the Senate pass a bill to call witnesses in the trial of Donald Trump, only to scrap the idea in exchange for reading into the record a statement from Washington State's Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler?

Granted, it was an important piece of evidence. During the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, she was told by House minority leader Kevin McCarthy about a frenzied phone call he just had had with President Trump. "Kevin, they're not my people," Trump lied.

"Yes, they are," McCarthy replied. "They just came through my windows and my staff is running for cover. Yeah, they're your people. Call them off."

McCarthy's plea for help was rebuffed by Trump who allegedly said, "Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are."

At the same time, Trump was tweeting attacks on Vice President Pence for not overthrowing the results of the Electoral College in the presidential election. Constitutionally, Pence could not have done so even if he wanted, but Trump's taunts were feeding the ugly mob's desire to hang Pence for treason. He was evacuated from the Capitol with minutes if not seconds to spare.

At the end of her statement, Congresswoman Herrera Beutler said, "To the patriots who were standing next to the former president as these conversations were happening, or even to the former vice president: if you have something to add here, now would be the time."

Crickets. That's all that she and the Democratic impeachment managers heard in return, which may be one of the reasons Democrats retreated on the call for witnesses. It's said that people close to Vice President Pence who had been approached by impeachment managers about testifying suddenly "went cold" and disappeared or refused to get involved. And we know that McCarthy himself soon was running off to Trump begging forgiveness for telling the truth, a cardinal sin.

There were other problems—some Republicans threatened to sabotage any attempt to pass any of Joe Biden's legislation or make confirmations if the trial continued and Trump's defense team said it might call hundreds of witnesses if the Democrats called even one or two—a hollow threat but indicative of a truth—that summoning witnesses could have extended the trial for weeks, even months. As per Mike DeBonis and Tom Hamburger at The Washington Post:

It was not a standard trial where evidentiary motions could play out for months with no ill effects. Senate Democrats, not yet a month into their majority, were eager to get on with President Biden's agenda, and extending the trial could alienate the small group of Republicans who had signaled they might convict. And calling any witness promised to be an extended affair: The trial rules called for a deposition process to precede any Senate testimony, and there was the possibility witnesses could go to court and further extend the timeline.

Democrats were attacked from the left for caving on witnesses and from the right who denounced this legitimate prosecution of Trump's incitement of the assault. Already the conspiracy mill, including Wisconsin's appalling Senator Ron Johnson and others, is ginning up stories that range from assertions that the January 6 attack wasn't really all that dangerous, or that it was antifa infiltrators that caused the trouble, or that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held back security to allow the riot to happen and make Trump and Republicans look bad.

You see what I mean—from the outside looking in, you can put all manner of spin to reality. The late Pat Moynihan said you can have your own opinions but not your own facts—sadly, in this media-laden world that's no longer the case. The truth is out there, alright—way, way out there for some. Moynihan's adage has given way to Mark Twain's "Get your facts first, then you can distort 'em as you please." Or the quotation from Voltaire that Democratic head impeachment manager Jamie Raskin used in his closing argument: "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities."

No matter who, what or why, the Democrats, led by legal wizard Raskin, presented an impeccable, airtight case for Trump's guilt. Not even Trump's lawyers or the Republican senators who lounged about the chamber doodling and texting as if they were juvenile delinquents in detention hall could counter the effectiveness and truth of the prosecution's evidence and arguments. That seven GOP members voted guilty was both proof and a miracle on the order of loaves and fishes—but under the current circumstances there was no route to a two-thirds majority in favor of officially convicting Trump and denying him further government work.

In the words of former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum, "The 57–43 margin wasn't enough to convict under the Constitution. It wasn't enough to formally disqualify Trump from ever again seeking office in the United States." And yet, he continued, "It will do as a solemn and eternal public repudiation of Trump's betrayal of his oath of office…

It's not half against half. It's a clear American majority—including a sizable part of the Republican Senate caucus—against a minority. And even many of the senators who voted to acquit went on record to condemn Trump as an outlaw and a seditionist.

Which brings us to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the man who claimed the impeachment trial was unconstitutional because Trump was no longer president—a situation McConnell himself created by delaying the proceedings until after Joe Biden's swearing in. It's so typical of the man who in 2016 refused Barack Obama's choice of Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court because it was an election year but then turned around in 2020 and forced through the nomination of Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

When it comes to scruples, Mitch has been running on empty for decades; his lust for power is his fossil fuel. On Saturday, McConnell voted to acquit Donald Trump but minutes later made a speech condemning Trump as "practically and morally responsible for provoking the events" of January 6:

The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instruction of their president. And their having that belief was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories, and reckless hyperbole which the defeated president kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet Earth. The issue is not only the president's intemperate language on January 6… It was also the entire manufactured atmosphere of looming catastrophe, the increasingly wild myths about a reverse landslide election that was somehow being stolen by some secret coup by our now-president.

Quite a speech, or it would have been had McConnell shown the moral fortitude on Saturday to vote against Trump. Every once in a while I hope there's still a molecule of decency somewhere in his turtle soul, a sliver of the young man who interned for Kentucky's legendary Senator John Sherman Cooper, supported the Equal Rights Amendment, collective bargaining and campaign finance reform. But no.

To paraphrase that old Statler Brothers song, Mitch has been trying to have his Kate and Edith, too. At this he usually excels. He came out swinging in his speech against Trump, his rival for control of the national GOP, but by choosing acquittal simultaneously tried not to completely alienate the rabid Trump base which has been snapping at the heels of the seven Republicans who voted to convict.

(Louisiana and North Carolina Republicans already have censured their GOP senators who supported Trump's conviction and Pennsylvania's Washington County Republican chair Dave Ball attacked that state's Senator Pat Toomey with the deathless pronouncement, "We did not send him there to vote his conscience. We did not send him there to do the right thing or whatever he said he was doing." I'm not making this up.)

But if McConnell thought that his vote to acquit might cut him some slack, he had a rude awakening. On Tuesday, Trump went after him with his patented, pistol-packing petulance, declaring, "Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again." Oh snap.

Politico reported, "A person familiar with the crafting of the statement confirmed that it could have been far worse. An earlier draft mocked McConnell for having multiple chins, the person said."

Multiple chins. God help us, the Mar-a-Lago Mean Girl is back and open for business.

But sticks and stones, etc. For one thing, President Biden is doing a deft job of rising above it, staying above the fray, keeping his focus on COVID relief and beyond. For another, the lawsuits against Trump and his bad boys are well underway. Investigations in New York State, the District of Columbia and now Georgia—over the ex-president's attempts to tamper with the state's presidential vote—are ongoing and it's yet to be determined how the U.S. Department of Justice will become involved, too, if at all. Biden promises to be hands off.

Nancy Pelosi and others seek an independent, bi-partisan 9/11-style commission to investigate the January 6 attack, all the people involved and events leading up to it. And you can anticipate a dumpster load of tell-all books revealing what we've suspected all along -- that for all the things we know Trump and cohorts were doing, there was much, much worse going on. We came this close to the complete and utter destruction of American democracy and until the right-wing spell of the cult breaks, we're still far from safe

In the coming weeks and months, everything in the media to which you expose yourself must be carefully read, thoughtfully heard, seen and interpreted. Look out for the ways facts are manipulated, seek out those whose reporting and opinions you trust as fair. Be a critical and discerning audience, educate yourself in citizenship. Above all, journalists, readers and viewers alike need to exercise what so many claim is that most American of all qualities: common sense.

Republicans don't know much about history -- but that won't stop them.

Years ago, when I was back in Washington for a couple of years, writing a series for public television, I lived for a while on Capitol Hill, a couple of blocks behind the Supreme Court. In the morning when I went to work, I would walk to a nearby Metro subway station, look at the Capitol dome and sometimes stare across the Potomac to Virginia.

During the Civil War, I'd think, the Confederacy was right there, just a mile or two away. So close, and yet they were never able to carry their flag onto Capitol Hill until this January 6, when rioters assailed the seat of government, some of them carrying the Stars and Bars, the banner of the Confederate States of America. Five were killed.

Now the US Senate is about to try former President Donald Trump once again, this time on a single act of impeachment for inciting that riot—a vain attempt to overturn the results of the fair and honest election that rejected Trump for a second term of office. Despite the evidence, and just as they did a year ago, almost all the Republicans in the Senate will vote to acquit their corrupt and feckless leader.

That's because in an echo of Dixie, they have adapted a new version of their "Southern strategy," that tactic dating back to 1968, when Republicans discovered that by blowing dog whistles of white supremacy and bigotry, they could flip some of those states of the former Confederacy over to Richard Nixon, then Ronald Reagan, Bush father and son and yes, Donald Trump.

The new version is slightly different. In this one, they don't imitate the old white segregationist politicians like George Wallace, Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms. No, now they act like those all-white juries of the deep South in the fifties and sixties that would, time after time—and despite all the evidence—find the murderers and rapists of innocent black men and women not guilty. Watch as they do it again on behalf of their mad dog savior Donald Trump. The overwhelming facts mean nothing when getting back their death grip on power and control is at stake.

As you know, this attitude of ignoring or distorting reality permeates right-wing media as well. Tuesday night, the cremated remains of Capitol Police officer Brian D. Sicknick, murdered at the age of 42 during that January 6 mob riot, were brought up the Capitol steps and into the rotunda to rest in honor.

CNN covered the somber ceremony live. So did MSNBC. Fox News did not. Over there, after a blitzkrieg of commercials, Sean Hannity was acting out his usual extremist nonsense, ranting about "the People's Republic of Los Angeles" and "the People's Republic of New York," among other falsehoods.

A few minutes later, President and First Lady Biden arrived at the rotunda to pay their respects. MSNBC and CNN were there. On Fox, Laura Ingraham briefly acknowledged the Bidens' presence but spent most of her airtime not honoring the slain policeman but trashing Dr. Anthony Fauci and beginning a story about homicides in Chicago with the phrase, "The BLM-fueled crime wave…" Black Lives Matter, you see, is just one more manifestation of the imaginary socialist plot to take over America. No wonder their viewers think the world's aflame, a cynical awful place where progressives plotting evil lurk at every corner pizzeria.

By the way, Officer Sicknick, a 12-year veteran of the force, was a Trump voter in 2016, although The Washington Post reports, "Those who encountered Sicknick said his political views did not align neatly with one political party." He was against impeachment but supported gun control.

There hasn't been an official explanation yet as to exactly how Sicknick died but he was attacked and killed while resisting the crazed crowd brainwashed by Trump. They were lied to by him and other Republicans, conspiratorial right-wing media like Fox, OAN and Newsmax and alt-right social media. They fell for the phony scenario brewing for weeks that Joe Biden had stolen the election and that a violent uprising would change the results. They sought to hang Vice President Pence, shoot House Speaker Pelosi and bodily harm other members of the House and Senate, including New York Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Minnesota's Ilhan Omar and Michigan's Rashida Tlaib.

But now, as the Senate prepares for Trump's second impeachment trial next week, too many Republicans continue pretending January 6 never happened, that the slate should be wiped clean and history rewritten. Time to move on, they say. In fact, just a couple of hours after all of their lives were in serious jeopardy, six Republican senators still refused to certify the vote of the Electoral College that gave the presidency to Biden. And a week later, when the House passed its single article of impeachment charging Trump with inciting the 1/6 insurrection, all but ten of the GOP members voted against it and many Republican senators declared the whole thing unconstitutional.

If those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it, Republicans and their allies covering it up and trying to erase the memory are prideful cowards condemned to seeing their once Grand Old Party dissolve into a mud puddle of mendacity, conspiracy fantasies, hatred and fear. What's left of what once was a past distinguished by occasional acts of bravery, grace and tolerance has become a toxic sludge of fascism and intolerance, much of it because they are afraid of one man, a blustering fool who no longer holds office but retains great cult-like control of their party.

"History will tell lies, sir, as usual." So says British General "Gentleman Johnny" Burgoyne in George Bernard Shaw's "The Devil's Disciple" as he rides off to what he knows will be an ignominious defeat in Saratoga at the hands of American patriots. But what we're observing now goes beyond prevarication or the boastful exaggerations of victors and lamentations of the losers; this is a twisting of facts and the concocting of false narratives that in other times would have been derided and dismissed as the cheap fakery it is.

Republicans have slid so far down the memory hole of Orwell's 1984 they have to reach up to touch bottom. They throw authenticity down into the hole's incinerator flames and create a new reality that's fictitious but which serves the needs of those who lust for power and control over all else. "The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake," Winston, the protagonist of 1984, is told. "We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing."

And so you have House minority leader Kevin McCarthy accepting QAnon fanatic, now-Representative Marjorie Taylor Green of Georgia and denouncing her exclusion from committee assignments, despite her theories of Jewish space lasers, political assassination, 9/11 truthers and mass shootings as false flag operations. Nutty as those beliefs are (and on Thursday, she disingenuously tried to back away from them a bit), they confer influence because Trump likes her, she raises a ton of campaign cash and her followerspart of Trump's base—are urged by her to think these theories are the only explanation for their difficult lives. That, and the existence of people of color, of course.

Reducio ad absurdum. These days, the GOP even welcomes such facetious and absurd silliness as Eric Trump telling Hannity that there "has never been a more beloved political figure in our country's history" than his dad. Because that works for them, too (By the way, Eric said this during that time Tuesday when Hannity was ignoring the arrival of Officer Sicknick's remains at the Capitol. So much for Blue Lives Matter).

Meanwhile, the rest of us are supposed to buy into the GOP's big con because, you know, unity. Every time truths are spoken that Republicans don't like, they claim that it's for sure dividing the country further.

So brazen are the attempts at manipulation of truth whether present or past, that in the last months of his term, President Trump and his sycophantic crew appointed a Presidential Advisory 1776 Committee, charged with creating "a definitive chronicle of the American founding." The report partly was a response to The New York Times' award-winning 1619 Project, charting the history of slavery in the United States and our continuing record of racial discrimination.

With little regard for the facts and not a single professional historian on the panel (but with plenty of conservative activists and educators), and with time quickly running out for the Trump White House, it was decided to release their findings on the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday, months before the report was supposed to be completed and just two days before the Biden inauguration—timing that was either a stroke of haste, pure ignorance or malign spite—you make the call.

In any case, much of what the commission had to say was lost in the shuffle of last-minute Trump pardons and inauguration news but as per Sarah Ruiz-Grossman at The Huffington Post:

The 45-page report reads in places like a right-wing manifesto: It makes excuses for slavery and the Three-fifths Compromise that declared slaves counted as less than full humans. It decries socialism and "identity politics," celebrates the right to bear arms and calls the anti-abortion movement one of the nation's "great reforms…"
"The Trump commission's report also rails against socialism as leading people down a "dangerous path" of wealth redistribution and cites '"anti-Communism" and "the Pro-Life Movement"— or anti-abortion movement — as some of the "great reforms" of the country's history."

The report compares progressivism to fascism, seeking to "centralize power under the management of so-called experts." There are twice as many references to Christianity as of racism, no footnotes or citations, and not a single mention of Indigenous people, especially not the notion that upon our arrival, ninety percent of them quickly were wiped out by disease, murder, forced relocation, and other assorted territorial encroachments.

Many wondered what President Biden would do with the report. It didn't take long to find out. Within minutes of his swearing-in, an executive order wiped out the 1776 Committee. And shortly after, all evidence of its existence, including the panel's preposterous report, was removed from the White House website.

Via his Department of Education, the new president should lead an effort figuring out how to restore civics classes and revive the history curriculum that once taught young Americans how to be thoughtful, participating citizens by learning their past. This also should help them develop the kind of critical thinking that, when presented with the facts, responds with skepticism and debate but not in the belief of every crackpot version of reality that beckons to them from their televisions, radios and laptops. As we've seen, such an alternative truth—the real fake news as it were—can only lead to the violent end of American democracy.

For a party that used to preach responsibility and reason, the Republicans have devolved into an asylum for the proponents and hangers on of screwball revisionism fraudulent theories and the vicious overthrow of government. Don't know much about history but I do know that if the GOP have their way there will be little room for rational solutions that can help us. The angry braying mob has little use for those answers, but an embrace of practicality at every level of legislative action that leads to tangible progress could peel some of them away. Otherwise, we may be heading into more dark days echoing the fearsome years when our Capitol stood so close to enemy forces just across the river.

Michael Winship is the Schumann Senior Writing Fellow for Common Dreams. Previously, he was the Emmy Award-winning senior writer for Moyers & Company and BillMoyers.com, a past senior writing fellow at the policy and advocacy group Demos, and former president of the Writers Guild of America East. Follow him on Twitter: @MichaelWinship

Trump the child king spends his final days throwing an extra ton of trauma-inducing tantrums

And it came upon a midnight clear during this holiday season that after weeks and months alternating between negotiation and inertia, Congress finally reached agreement with the White House and passed a new $908 billion relief bill that provided a stimulus payment of $600 to each qualified citizen.

Or so they thought. For lo, there rose a star in the East, albeit something more akin to a black hole sucking all the energy from the universe around it. Ah, good evening, Mr. President. I see you've brought your monkey wrench.

It was last Tuesday night when all of a sudden, Donald Trump declared that he might not sign the bill. This after he was nowhere to be seen during the actual negotiations, leaving them in the hands of his obeisant treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin, while he, Trump, concentrated on his crazed pursuit of election vindication—vainly hoping time and again to overturn the legitimate, certified results.

In a videotaped message, a four-minute rant, Trump announced that he was opposed to the $600 payment and wanted Americans to receive more—$2000. He's right about that, $600 is puny recompense indeed for the tragedy of COVID and the economic devastation it has caused. But of course, he's the one who caused so much of our misery in the first place.

One in every thousand Americans now has succumbed to the virus. In Los Angeles County, the current epicenter of our plague, the disease takes the life of someone every ten minutes. And the Associated Press recently reported that 2020 will go down as the deadliest year in United States history—not only because of the coronavirus but also increased deaths (many COVID-related) from heart and circulatory disease, diabetes, dementia, vehicle accidents and drug overdoses.

Last week, "the CDC reported more than 81,000 drug overdose deaths in the 12 months ending in May, making it the highest number ever recorded in a one-year period.

Experts think the pandemic's disruption to in-person treatment and recovery services may have been a factor. People also are more likely to be taking drugs alone — without the benefit of a friend or family member who can call 911 or administer overdose-reversing medication.
But perhaps a bigger factor are the drugs themselves: COVID-19 caused supply problems for dealers, so they are increasingly mixing cheap and deadly fentanyl into heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, experts said.

We have spent the last ten months dealing with the fatal consequences of this pandemic, both direct and indirect, biological and financial. And while the arrival of at least two effective vaccines is the second best news of this entire year, "that triumph of scientific ingenuity and bureaucratic efficiency does not conceal the difficult truth," a crack team of Washington Post reporters write, "that the virus has caused proportionately more infections and deaths in the United States than in most other developed nations — a result, experts say, of a dysfunctional federal response led by a president perpetually in denial."

In a major investigative report, they note:

The catastrophe began with Trump's initial refusal to take seriously the threat of a once-in-a-century pandemic. But, as officials detailed, it has been compounded over time by a host of damaging presidential traits—his skepticism of science, impatience with health restrictions, prioritization of personal politics over public safety, undisciplined communications, chaotic management style, indulgence of conspiracies, proclivity toward magical thinking, allowance of turf wars and flagrant disregard for the well-being of those around him.

So yes, a $2000 payment to Americans would, at the very least, be a little over three times better than $600. But that isn't why Trump demanded it. He was trying to burnish his populist image and keep the base happy while simultaneously creating some more of the dreadful chaos in which he flourishes. The result of Trump's latest impulse? A delay in a bit of relief for hundreds of millions of Americans, more pain, more sacrifice, more loss. And eventually, he wound up signing the bill anyway. (As I write, the House has voted in a separate resolution to make the increase to $2000, but word is out on whether the GOP Senate will go along -- on Tuesday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked one attempt, there will be others.)

As we've come to learn and loathe this last four years, during any given week, something like Trump's truculence on the stimulus bill sadly seems business as usual. But as his days in office dwindle down to a precious few, he spends even more time off his rocker than on it.

In addition to his endless tweeting and plotting about overthrowing the election, add his veto of the defense authorization bill (which Congress is in the process of overriding), the ongoing pardons of cronies and villains while stepping up executions at Federal prisons, interfering with the presidential transition and his encouragement of right-wing protests in Washington next week (on the day Vice President Pence is to officially announce Biden as the next president)—while so far ignoring the Christmas Day suicide bombing in Nashville that tore apart large portions of a city block.

And all the while, he enjoys the holidays on his Florida golf course as his vice president skis in Colorado and Steve Mnuchin whiles away the hours at his Mexican vacation home. A pretty picture as poverty, sickness and death continue to ravage the nation to which they swore an oath.

Thank heaven, this soon will be at an end. Good riddance to bad rubbish, as my mother used to say. Donald Trump has betrayed the United States and the rule of law. He is a thug, a crumb and a louse, aided and abetted by a party and a significant segment of the populace who for whatever twisted reason find his hate and penchant for mayhem appealing. Pray for peace and reconciliation but do not forget.

At The Irish Times, the great Fintan O'Toole warns, "Stripped of direct power, [Trump] will face enormous legal and financial jeopardy. He will have every reason to keep drawing on his greatest asset: his ability to unleash the demons that have always haunted the American experiment—racism, nativism, fear of 'the government.'

"Trump has unfinished business. A republic he wants to destroy still stands."

Donald John Trump is guilty of what Pennsylvania attorney general Josh Shapiro described a couple of weeks ago as "seditious abuse." Shapiro was talking about that bizarre Texas lawsuit that attempted to overthrow election results in four other states so that Trump could declare victory in the 2020 election, but the charge could be applied to virtually every action on every day he has held office.

What do you call Biden's inauguration? A good start but just a start, the beginning of a long hard road back to restore and make stronger what may be what Abraham Lincoln called "the last best hope" we have. Happy New Year.

Michael Winship is the Schumann Senior Writing Fellow for Common Dreams. Previously, he was the Emmy Award-winning senior writer for Moyers & Company and BillMoyers.com, a past senior writing fellow at the policy and advocacy group Demos, and former president of the Writers Guild of America East. Follow him on Twitter: @MichaelWinship

As we come to the end of four rotten years, Trump spends his final days throwing trauma-inducing tantrums

And it came upon a midnight clear during this holiday season that after weeks and months alternating between negotiation and inertia, Congress finally reached agreement with the White House and passed a new $908 billion relief bill that provided a stimulus payment of $600 to each qualified citizen.

Or so they thought. For lo, there rose a star in the East, albeit something more akin to a black hole sucking all the energy from the universe around it. Ah, good evening, Mr. President. I see you've brought your monkey wrench.

It was last Tuesday night when all of a sudden, Donald Trump declared that he might not sign the bill. This after he was nowhere to be seen during the actual negotiations, leaving them in the hands of his obeisant treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin, while he, Trump, concentrated on his crazed pursuit of election vindication—vainly hoping time and again to overturn the legitimate, certified results.

In a videotaped message, a four-minute rant, Trump announced that he was opposed to the $600 payment and wanted Americans to receive more—$2000. He's right about that, $600 is puny recompense indeed for the tragedy of COVID and the economic devastation it has caused. But of course, he's the one who caused so much of our misery in the first place.

One in every thousand Americans now has succumbed to the virus. In Los Angeles County, the current epicenter of our plague, the disease takes the life of someone every ten minutes. And the Associated Press recently reported that 2020 will go down as the deadliest year in United States history -- not only because of the coronavirus but also increased deaths (many COVID-related) from heart and circulatory disease, diabetes, dementia, vehicle accidents and drug overdoses.

Last week, "the CDC reported more than 81,000 drug overdose deaths in the 12 months ending in May, making it the highest number ever recorded in a one-year period.

"Experts think the pandemic's disruption to in-person treatment and recovery services may have been a factor. People also are more likely to be taking drugs alone — without the benefit of a friend or family member who can call 911 or administer overdose-reversing medication.

"But perhaps a bigger factor are the drugs themselves: COVID-19 caused supply problems for dealers, so they are increasingly mixing cheap and deadly fentanyl into heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, experts said."

We have spent the last ten months dealing with the fatal consequences of this pandemic, both direct and indirect, biological and financial. And while the arrival of at least two effective vaccines is the second best news of this entire year, "that triumph of scientific ingenuity and bureaucratic efficiency does not conceal the difficult truth," a crack team of Washington Post reporters write, "that the virus has caused proportionately more infections and deaths in the United States than in most other developed nations — a result, experts say, of a dysfunctional federal response led by a president perpetually in denial."

In a major investigative report, they note:

"The catastrophe began with Trump's initial refusal to take seriously the threat of a once-in-a-century pandemic. But, as officials detailed, it has been compounded over time by a host of damaging presidential traits—his skepticism of science, impatience with health restrictions, prioritization of personal politics over public safety, undisciplined communications, chaotic management style, indulgence of conspiracies, proclivity toward magical thinking, allowance of turf wars and flagrant disregard for the well-being of those around him."

So yes, a $2000 payment to Americans would, at the very least, be a little over three times better than $600. But that isn't why Trump demanded it. He was trying to burnish his populist image and keep the base happy while simultaneously creating some more of the dreadful chaos in which he flourishes. The result of Trump's latest impulse? A delay in a bit of relief for hundreds of millions of Americans, more pain, more sacrifice, more loss. And eventually, he wound up signing the bill anyway. (As I write, the House has voted in a separate resolution to make the increase to $2000, but word is out on whether the GOP Senate will go along -- doubtful.)

As we've come to learn and loathe this last four years, during any given week, something like Trump's truculence on the stimulus bill sadly seems business as usual. But as his days in office dwindle down to a precious few, he spends even more time off his rocker than on it.

In addition to his endless tweeting and plotting about overthrowing the election, add his veto of the defense authorization bill (which Congress is in the process of overriding), the ongoing pardons of cronies and villains while stepping up executions at Federal prisons, interfering with the presidential transition and his encouragement of right-wing protests in Washington next week (on the day Vice President Pence is to officially announce Biden as the next president) -- while so far ignoring the Christmas Day suicide bombing in Nashville that tore apart large portions of a city block.

And all the while, he enjoys the holidays on his Florida golf course as his vice president skis in Colorado and Steve Mnuchin whiles away the hours at his Mexican vacation home. A pretty picture as poverty, sickness and death continue to ravage the nation to which they swore an oath.

Thank heaven, this soon will be at an end. Good riddance to bad rubbish, as my mother used to say. Donald Trump has betrayed the United States and the rule of law. He is a thug, a crumb and a louse, aided and abetted by a party and a significant segment of the populace who for whatever twisted reason find his hate and penchant for mayhem appealing. Pray for peace and reconciliation but do not forget.

At The Irish Times, the great Fintan O'Toole warns, "Stripped of direct power, [Trump] will face enormous legal and financial jeopardy. He will have every reason to keep drawing on his greatest asset: his ability to unleash the demons that have always haunted the American experiment—racism, nativism, fear of 'the government.'

"Trump has unfinished business. A republic he wants to destroy still stands."

Donald John Trump is guilty of what Pennsylvania attorney general Josh Shapiro described a couple of weeks ago as "seditious abuse." Shapiro was talking about that bizarre Texas lawsuit that attempted to overthrow election results in four other states so that Trump could declare victory in the 2020 election, but the charge could be applied to virtually every action on every day he has held office.

What do you call Biden's inauguration? A good start but just a start, the beginning of a long hard road back to restore and make stronger what may be what Abraham Lincoln called "the last best hope" we have. Happy New Year.

#####

Michael Winship is the Schumann Senior Writing Fellow for Common Dreams. Previously, he was the Emmy Award-winning senior writer for Moyers & Company and BillMoyers.com, a past senior writing fellow at the policy and advocacy group Demos, and former president of the Writers Guild of America East. Follow him on Twitter: @MichaelWinship

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