Will William Barr get away with covering up treason for HW Bush, Reagan and now Trump?

George HW Bush and Ronald Reagan were facing the possibility of treason charges. Who did they call? Bill Barr.

That was in the '80s and early '90s, but now we discover that Bill Barr really, truly, definitely also lied to America about presidential treason this decade. Shocking.

Mueller laid out 10 prosecutable incidents of Donald Trump committing felony obstruction of justice, all to cover up the assistance he was seeking and receiving from Russian oligarchs and the Russian government that ultimately helped him win the 2016 election.

Looking back now, seeing the actual documents from the time, Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson noted that Barr's lies to the American people, to Congress, and to federal judges were "so inconsistent with evidence in the record, they are not worthy of credence."

In other words, Barr lied through his teeth.

And he did it to avoid prosecuting Trump, who we can now see had clearly committed crimes — particularly reaching out to a foreign power for help — that would've landed any other American in prison for decades.

But this is not Bill Barr's first time playing cover-up for a Republican president who had committed crimes that rise to treason against America.

Back in 1992, the first time Bill Barr was U.S. attorney general, iconic New York Times writer William Safire referred to him as "Coverup-General Barr" because of his role in burying evidence of then-President George H.W. Bush's involvement in "Iraqgate" and "Iran-Contra."

Christmas day of 1992, the New York Times featured a screaming all-caps headline across the top of its front page: Attorney General Bill Barr had covered up evidence of crimes by Reagan and Bush in the Iran-Contra scandal.

Earlier that week of Christmas, 1992, George H.W. Bush was on his way out of office. Bill Clinton had won the White House the month before, and in a few weeks would be sworn in as president.

But Bush's biggest concern wasn't that he'd have to leave the White House to retire back to Connecticut, Maine, or Texas (where he had mansions) but, rather, that he may end up embroiled even deeper in the Iran-Contra treason and that he and his colleagues may face time in a federal prison after he left office.

Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh was closing in fast on him and Reagan, and Bush's private records, subpoenaed by the independent counsel's office, were the key to it all.

Walsh had been appointed independent counsel in 1986 to investigate the Iran-Contra activities of the Reagan administration and determine if crimes had been committed.

Was the Iran-Contra criminal conspiracy limited, as Reagan and Bush insisted (and Reagan said on TV), to later years in the Reagan presidency, in response to a hostage-taking in Lebanon?

Or had it started in the 1980 presidential campaign against Jimmy Carter with treasonous collusion with the Iranians, as the then-president of Iran asserted? Who knew what, and when? And what was George H.W. Bush's role in it all?

In the years since then, the President of Iran in 1980, Abolhassan Bani-Sadr, has gone on the record saying that the Reagan campaign reached out to Iran to hold the hostages in exchange for weapons.

"Ayatollah Khomeini and Ronald Reagan," President Bani-Sadr told the Christian Science Monitor in 2013, "had organized a clandestine negotiation, later known as the 'October Surprise,' which prevented the attempts by myself and then-US President Jimmy Carter to free the hostages before the 1980 US presidential election took place. The fact that they were not released tipped the results of the election in favor of Reagan."

That wouldn't have been just an impeachable crime: it was treason.

Walsh had zeroed in on documents that were in the possession of Reagan's former defense secretary, Caspar Weinberger, who all the evidence showed was definitely in on the deal, and President Bush's diary that could corroborate it.

Elliott Abrams had already been convicted of withholding evidence about it from Congress, and he may have had even more information, too, if it could be pried out of him before he went to prison. But Abrams was keeping mum, apparently anticipating a pardon.

Weinberger, trying to avoid jail himself, was preparing to testify that Bush knew about it and even participated, and Walsh had already, based on information he'd obtained from the investigation into Weinberger, demanded that Bush turn over his diary from the campaign. He was also again hot on the trail of Abrams.

So Bush called in his attorney general, Bill Barr, and asked his advice.

Barr, along with Bush, was already up to his eyeballs in cover-ups of shady behavior by the Reagan administration.

Safire ultimately came to refer to Barr as "Coverup-General" in the midst of another scandal—one having to do with Bush selling weapons of mass destruction to Saddam Hussein—because the Attorney General was already covering up for Bush, Weinberger, and others from the Reagan administration in "Iraqgate."

On October 19, 1992, Safire wrote of Barr's unwillingness to appoint an independent counsel to look into Iraqgate:

"Why does the Coverup-General resist independent investigation? Because he knows where it may lead: to Dick Thornburgh, James Baker, Clayton Yeutter, Brent Scowcroft and himself [the people who organized the sale of WMD to Saddam]. He vainly hopes to be able to head it off, or at least be able to use the threat of firing to negotiate a deal."

Now, just short of two months later, Bush was asking Barr for advice on how to avoid another very serious charge in the Iran-Contra crimes. How, he wanted to know, could they shut down Walsh's investigation before Walsh's lawyers got their hands on Bush's diary?

In April of 2001, safely distant from the swirl of D.C. politics, the University of Virginia's Miller Center was compiling oral presidential histories, and interviewed Barr about his time as AG in the Bush White House. They brought up the issue of the Weinberger pardon, which put an end to the Iran-Contra investigation, and Barr's involvement in it.

Turns out, Barr was right in the middle of it.

"There were some people arguing just for [a pardon for] Weinberger, and I said, 'No, in for a penny, in for a pound,'" Barr told the interviewer. "I went over and told the President I thought he should not only pardon Caspar Weinberger, but while he was at it, he should pardon about five others."

Which is exactly what Bush did, on Christmas Eve when most Americans were with family instead of watching the news. The holiday notwithstanding, the result was explosive.

America knew that both Reagan and Bush were up to their necks in Iran-Contra, and Democrats had been talking about treason, impeachment or worse. The independent counsel had already obtained one conviction, three guilty pleas, and two other individuals were lined up for prosecution. And Walsh was closing in fast on Bush himself.


So, when Bush shut the investigation down by pardoning not only Weinberger, but also Abrams and the others involved in the crimes, destroying Walsh's ability to prosecute anybody, the New York Times ran the headline all the way across four of the six columns on the front page, screaming in all-caps: BUSH PARDONS 6 IN IRAN AFFAIR, ABORTING A WEINBERGER TRIAL; PROSECUTOR ASSAILS 'COVER-UP.'

Bill Barr had struck, and, like with Trump and the Muller investigation into his treason, Reagan and Bush's treason was now buried.

The second paragraph of the Times story by David Johnston laid it out:

"Mr. Weinberger was scheduled to stand trial on Jan. 5 on charges that he lied to Congress about his knowledge of the arms sales to Iran and efforts by other countries to help underwrite the Nicaraguan rebels, a case that was expected to focus on Mr. Weinberger's private notes that contain references to Mr. Bush's endorsement of the secret shipments to Iran." (emphasis added)

History shows that when a Republican president is in serious legal trouble, Bill Barr is the go-to guy.

For William Safire, it was déjà vu all over again. Four months earlier, referring to Iraqgate (Bush's selling WMDs to Iraq), Safire opened his article, titled "Justice [Department] Corrupts Justice," by writing:

"U.S. Attorney General William Barr, in rejecting the House Judiciary Committee's call for a prosecutor not beholden to the Bush Administration to investigate the crimes of Iraqgate, has taken personal charge of the cover-up."

Safire accused Barr of not only rigging the cover-up, but of being one of the criminals who could be prosecuted.

"Mr. Barr," wrote Safire in August of 1992, "...could face prosecution if it turns out that high Bush officials knew about Saddam Hussein's perversion of our Agriculture export guarantees to finance his war machine."

He added, "They [Barr and colleagues] have a keen personal and political interest in seeing to it that the Department of Justice stays in safe, controllable Republican hands."

Earlier in Bush's administration, Barr had succeeded in blocking the appointment of an investigator or independent counsel to look into Iraqgate, as Safire repeatedly documented in the Times. In December, Barr helped Bush block indictments from another independent counsel, Lawrence Walsh, and eliminated any risk that Reagan or George H.W. Bush would be held to account for Iran-Contra.

Walsh, wrote Johnston for the Times on Christmas Eve, "plans to review a 1986 campaign diary kept by Mr. Bush." The diary would be the smoking gun that would nail Bush to the scandal.

"But," noted the Times, "in a single stroke, Mr. Bush [at Barr's suggestion] swept away one conviction, three guilty pleas and two pending cases, virtually decapitating what was left of Mr. Walsh's effort, which began in 1986."

And Walsh didn't take it lying down.

The Times report noted that, "Mr. Walsh bitterly condemned the President's action, charging that 'the Iran-contra cover-up, which has continued for more than six years, has now been completed.'"

Independent Counsel Walsh added that the diary and notes he wanted to enter into a public trial of Weinberger represented, "evidence of a conspiracy among the highest ranking Reagan Administration officials to lie to Congress and the American public."

The phrase "highest ranking" officials included Reagan, Bush and Barr himself.

Walsh had been fighting to get those documents ever since 1986, when he was appointed and Reagan still had two years left in office. Bush's and Weinberger's refusal to turn them over, Johnston noted in the Times, could have, in Walsh's words, "forestalled impeachment proceedings against President Reagan" through a pattern of "deception and obstruction."

Barr successfully covered up the involvement of two Republican presidents—Reagan and Bush—in two separate and impeachable "high crimes," one of them almost certainly treason.

Months later in January of 1993, newly sworn-in President Clinton and the new Congress decided to put it all behind them and not pursue the matters any further.

Will Biden do the same, for both Trump and Barr? He's publicly said that he's going to let his new attorney general, Merrick Garland, make those kinds of decisions.

And Garland, it seems, has unleashed the FBI and other investigators in ways that must be sending shock-waves through Mar-a-Lago and the ranks of former Trump officials.

One can only hope…

How the brutality of the hard-right grew in the soil of libertarianism and Ayn Rand’s writings

Many Americans are baffled by the Republican Party's embrace of billionaire sociopath Trump and elected Republicans' willingness to overlook the death of seven Americans, including three police officers, in an attempted coup. (Particularly after they spent over 2 years and tens of millions of dollars obsessing on 4 dead Americans in Benghazi.)

They're also wondering why Kevin McCarthy would reject Liz Cheney to embrace someone like Elise Stefanik, an apologist for the January 6 treason attempt, or go along with Mitch McConnell's attempts to sabotage the American Rescue Plan, the American Jobs Plan, and the American Family Plan.

After all, people are hurting. We're experiencing the worst pandemic in a century, and an economic downturn unmatched since the Republican Great Depression of the 1920s.

Why, Americans wonder, would the GOP embrace such anti-American and nakedly brutal politics and policies?

Why would they try so hard to destroy Medicare and Social Security? Why would they mourn the loss of Trump's program to tear children from their families and throw them into cages? Why are they so enthusiastic about efforts to make it harder to vote?

Why do they continue to support Trump after he lost the House, Senate, and White House and continues to rant his anti-American, anti-democratic strongman rhetoric?

But it's not just politics; the roots of this brutal movement in today's GOP run from a 1927 child murderer, through a real-estate lobbying group, to Ronald Reagan putting both of their philosophies into actual practice and bringing a number of right-wing billionaires into the fold.

As a result, Republican policies over the past 40 years not only gutted America's middle class, but led straight to the Trump presidency and the attack on the Capitol on January 6th that he led. Many Americans are now so confused about how government should work that they've embraced a bizarre conspiracy theory positing Trump as a sort of messiah and politicians like McConnell and Stefanick as noble statesmen and -women.

The Libertarians

Reporter Mark Ames documents how, back in the 1940s, a real estate lobbying group came up with the idea of creating a new political party to justify deregulating the real estate and finance industries so they could make more money.

This new Libertarian Party would give an ideological and political cover to their goal of becoming government-free, and they developed an elaborate pretense of governing philosophy around it.

Their principal argument was that if everybody acted separately and independently, in all cases with maximum selfishness, such behavior would actually benefit society. There would be no government needed beyond an army and a police force, and a court system to defend the rights of property owners. It was a bizarre twisting of Adam Smith's reference to the "invisible hand" that regulated trade among nations.

In 1980, billionaire David Koch ran for vice president on the newly formed Libertarian Party ticket. His platform included calls to privatize the Post Office, close public schools, give Medicare and Medicaid to big insurance companies, end food and housing support and all other forms of "welfare," deregulate all corporate oversight while shutting down the EPA and FDA, and selling off much of the federal government's land and other assets to billionaires and big corporations.

Reagan, who won that 1980 election, embraced this view in his inaugural address, saying, "[G]overnment is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." He then doubled down on the idea by beginning the systematic process of gutting and crippling governmental institutions that historically had supported working people and the middle class.

The child-killer who inspired a movement

Reagan wasn't just echoing the Libertarian vision; he was also endorsing Ayn Rand's "objectivist" view of the world, which traces its roots to a murderous sociopath in 1927.

Back in 2015, Donald Trump told USA Today's Kirsten Powers that his favorite book was Ayn Rand's raped-girl-decides-she-likes-it novel, "The Fountainhead."

"It relates to business, beauty, life and inner emotions," he told Powers. "That book relates to … everything."

Ayn Rand's novels have animated libertarian Republicans like former Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan, who required interns to read her books when they joined his staff.

Powers added, "He [Trump]," told her that he "identified with Howard Roark, the novel's idealistic protagonist who designs skyscrapers and rages against the establishment."

Rand's hero Roark, in fact, "raged" so much in her novel that he blew up a public housing project with dynamite just to get what he wanted. Sort of like the plans of the person who planted bombs at the RNC and DNC headquarters the night before January 6th.

Rand, in her Journals, explained where she got her inspiration for Howard Roark and so many of her other novels. She writes that the theme of The Fountainhead, for example, is, "One puts oneself above all and crushes everything in one's way to get the best for oneself."

On Trump's hero Howard Roark, she wrote that he "has learned long ago, with his first consciousness, two things which dominate his entire attitude toward life: his own superiority and the utter worthlessness of the world. He knows what he wants and what he thinks. He needs no other reasons, standards or considerations. His complete selfishness is as natural to him as breathing."

It turns out that Roark and many of her other characters were based on a real person. The man who so inspired Ayn Rand's fictional heroes was named William Edward Hickman, and he lived in Los Angeles during the Roaring Twenties.

Ten days before Christmas in 1927, Hickman, a teenager with slicked dark hair and tiny, muted eyes, drove up to Mount Vernon Junior High School in Los Angeles and kidnapped Marion Parker — the daughter of a wealthy banker in town.

Hickman held the girl ransom, demanding $1,500 from her father — back then about a year's salary. Supremely confident that he would elude capture, Hickman signed his name on the ransom notes, "The Fox."

After two days, Marion's father agreed to hand over the ransom in exchange for the safety of his daughter. What Perry Parker didn't know is that Hickman never intended to live up to his end of the bargain.

The Pittsburgh Press detailed what Hickman, in his own words, did next.

"It was while I was fixing the blindfold that the urge to murder came upon me," he said. "I just couldn't help myself. I got a towel and stepped up behind Marion. Then, before she could move, I put it around her neck and twisted it tightly."

Hickman didn't hold back on any of these details: he was proud of his cold-bloodedness.

"I held on and she made no outcry except to gurgle. I held on for about two minutes, I guess, and then I let go. When I cut loose the fastenings, she fell to the floor. I knew she was dead."

But Hickman wasn't finished. "After she was dead I carried her body into the bathroom and undressed her, all but the underwear, and cut a hole in her throat with a pocket knife to let the blood out."

Hickman then dismembered the child piece-by-piece, putting her limbs in a cabinet in his apartment, and then wrapped up the carved-up torso, powdered the lifeless face of Marion Parker, set what was left of her stump torso with the head sitting atop it in the passenger seat of his car, and drove to meet her father to collect the ransom money.

He even sewed open her eyelids to make it look like she was alive.

On the way, Hickman dumped body parts out of his car window, before rendezvousing with Marion Parker's father.

Armed with a shotgun so her father wouldn't come close enough to Hickman's car to see that Marion was dead, Hickman collected his $1,500, then kicked open the door and tossed the rest of Marion Parker onto the road. As he sped off, her father fell to his knees, screaming.

Days later, the police caught up with a defiant and unrepentant Hickman in Oregon. His lawyers pleaded insanity, but the jury gave him the gallows.

To nearly everyone, Hickman was a monster. The year of the murder, the Los Angeles Times called it "the most horrible crime of the 1920s." Hickman was America's most despicable villain at the time.

Ayn Rand falls in love with a "superman"

But to Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum, a 21-year-old Russian political science student who'd arrived in America just two years earlier, Hickman was a hero.

Alissa was a squat five-foot-two with a flapper hairdo and wide, sunken dark eyes that gave her a haunting stare. Etched into those brooding eyes was burned the memory of a childhood backlit by the Russian Revolution.

She had just departed Leninist Russia where, almost a decade earlier, there was a harsh backlash against the Russian property owners by the Bolsheviks. Alissa's own family was targeted, and at the age of 12 she watched as Bolshevik soldiers burst into her father's pharmacy, looted the store, and plastered on her Dad's doors the red emblem of the state, indicating that his private business now belonged to "the people."

That incident left such a deep and burning wound in young Alissa's mind that she went to college to study political science and vowed one day she'd become a famous writer to warn the world of the dangers of Bolshevism.

Starting afresh in Hollywood, she anglicized her name to Ayn Rand, and moved from prop-girl to screenwriter/novelist, basing the heroes of several of her stories on a man she was reading about in the newspapers at the time. A man she wrote effusively about in her diaries. A man she hero-worshipped.

William Edward Hickman was the most notorious man in American in 1928, having achieved the level of national fame that she craved.

Young Ayn Rand saw in Hickman the "ideal man" she based The Fountainhead on, and used to ground her philosophy and her life's work. His greatest quality, she believed, was his unfeeling, pitiless selfishness.

Hickman's words were carefully recounted by Rand in her Journals. His statement that, "I am like the state: what is good for me is right," resonated deeply with her. It was the perfect articulation of her belief that if people pursued their own interests above all else — even above friends, family, or nation — the result would be utopian.

She wrote in her diary that those words of Hickman's were, "the best and strongest expression of a real man's psychology I ever heard."

Hickman — the monster who boasted about how he had hacked up a 12-year-old girl — had Rand's ear, as well as her heart. She saw a strongman archetype in him, the way that people wearing red MAGA hats see a strongman savior in Donald Trump.

As Hickman's murder trial unfolded, Rand grew increasingly enraged at how the "mediocre" American masses had rushed to condemn her Superman.

"The first thing that impresses me about the case," Rand wrote in reference to the Hickman trial in early notes for a book she was working on titled The Little Street, "is the ferocious rage of the whole society against one man."

Astounded that Americans didn't recognize the heroism Hickman showed when he proudly rose above simply conforming to society's rules, Rand wrote, "It is not the crime alone that has raised the fury of public hatred. It is the case of a daring challenge to society. … It is the amazing picture of a man with no regard whatever for all that society holds sacred, with a consciousness all his own."

Rand explained that when the masses are confronted with such a bold actor, they neither understood nor empathized with him. Thus, "a brilliant, unusual, exceptional boy [was] turned [by the media] into a purposeless monster."

The protagonist of the book that Rand was writing around that time was a boy named Danny Renahan. In her notes for the book, she wrote, "The model for the boy [Renahan] is Hickman." He would be her ideal man, and the archetype for a philosophical movement that would transform a nation.

"He is born with the spirit of Argon and the nature of a medieval feudal lord," Rand wrote in her notes describing Renahan. "Imperious. Impatient. Uncompromising. Untamable. Intolerant. Unadaptable. Passionate. Intensely proud. Superior to the mob… an extreme 'extremist.' … No respect for anything or anyone."

Rand wanted capitalism in its most raw form, unchecked by any government that could control the rules of the market or promote the benefits of society. Such good intentions had, after all, caused the hell she'd experienced in the Bolshevik Revolution.

Ayn Rand, like Hickman, found peace and justification in the extremes of her economic, political, and moral philosophy. Forget about democratic institutions, forget about regulating markets, and forget about pursuing any policies that benefit the majority at the expense of the very rich — the petty political rule-makers and rule-enforcers could never, ever do anything well or good.

Libertarianism and Ayn Rand set the stage for Trumpism

Only billionaires should rule the world, Trump has suggested.

And he tried to put it into place, installing a billionaire advocate of destroying public schools in charge of public schools, a coal lobbyist representing billionaires in charge of the EPA, an billionaire-funded oil lobbyist in charge of our public lands, and a billionaire described by Forbes as a "grifter" in charge of the Commerce Department. Trump's chief of staff said that putting children in cages and billionaire-owned privatized concentration camps (where seven so far have died) would actually be a public good.

As Ayn Rand might say, "Don't just ignore the rules; destroy them."

Welfare and other social safety net programs were, as Rand saw it, "the glorification of mediocrity" in society. Providing a social safety net for the poor, disabled, or unemployed, she believed, were part of a way of thinking that promoted, "satisfaction instead of joy, contentment instead of happiness… a glow-worm instead of a fire."

Sociopaths of the world, unite!

Rand, like Trump, lived a largely joyless life. She mercilessly manipulated people, particularly her husband and Alan Greenspan (who brought a dollar-sign-shaped floral arrangement to her funeral), and, like Trump, surrounded herself with cult-like followers who were only on the inside so long as they gave her total, unhesitating loyalty.

Like Trump, McConnell, Stefanik and their billionaire backers, Rand believed that a government working to help out working-class "looters," instead of solely looking out for rich capitalist "producers," was throwing its "best people" under the bus.

In Rand's universe, the producers had no obligations to the looters. Providing welfare or sacrificing one nickel of your own money to help a "looter" on welfare, unemployment, or Social Security — particularly if it was "taken at the barrel of a gun" (taxes) — was morally reprehensible.

Like Trump saying, "My whole life I've been greedy," for Rand looking out for numero uno was the singular name of the game — selfishness was next to godliness.

Later in Rand's life, in 1959, as she gained more notoriety for the moral philosophy of selfishness that she named "Objectivism" and that is today at the core of libertarianism and the GOP, she sat down for an interview with CBS reporter Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes.

Suggesting that selfishness undermines most truly American values, Wallace bluntly challenged Rand.

"You are out to destroy almost every edifice in the contemporary American way of life," Wallace said to Rand. "Our Judeo-Christian religion, our modified government-regulated capitalism, our rule by the majority will… you scorn churches, and the concept of God… are these accurate criticisms?"

As Wallace was reciting the public criticisms of Rand, the CBS television cameras zoomed in closely on her face, as her eyes darted back and forth between the ground and Wallace's fingers. But the question, with its implied condemnation, didn't faze her at all. Rand said with confidence in a matter-of-fact tone, "Yes."

Ayn Rand Mike Wallace Interview (Part 1) 1959 youtu.be

(4:20 in the clip)

"We're taught to feel concern for our fellow man," Wallace challenged, "to feel responsible for his welfare, to feel that we are, as religious people might put it, children under God and responsible one for the other — now why do you rebel?"

"That is what in fact makes man a sacrificial animal," Rand answered. She added, "[Man's] highest moral purpose is the achievement of his own happiness."

Rand's philosophy, though popular in high school and on college campuses, never did — in her lifetime — achieve the sort of mass appeal she had hoped. But today Ayn Rand's philosophy is a central tenet of today's Republican Party and grounds the moral code proudly cited and followed by high-profile billionaires and three former presidents of the United States.

Ironically, when she was finally beginning to be taken seriously, Ayn Rand became ill with lung cancer and went on Social Security and Medicare to make it through her last days. She died a "looter" in 1982, unaware that her her promotion of William Edward Hickman's sociopathic worldview would one day validate an entire political party's embrace of a similarly sociopathic president.

The result so far is over a half-million dead Americans, an economy laid waste, and the collapse of this nation's working class.

While the ideas and policies promoted by the libertarian wing of the Republican Party have made CEOs and billionaire investors very, very rich in recent decades, it's killing the rest of us.

A return to sanity

In the 1930s and 1940s, Franklin Delano Roosevelt put America back together after the First Republican Great Depression and built the largest and wealthiest middle class in the history of the world at the time.

Today, 40 years of Ayn Rand's ideas being put into practice by libertarian Republicans from Reagan to Bush to Trump have gutted the middle class, made a handful of oligarchs wealthier than any kings or pharohs in the history of the world, and brought a whole new generation of suckers, hustlers and grifters into the GOP.

When America was still coasting on FDR's success in rebuilding our government and institutions, nobody took very seriously Rand's or Koch's misguided idealist efforts to tear it all down.

Now that libertarians and objectivists in the GOP have had 40 years to make their project work, we're hitting peak libertarianism and it's tearing our country apart, pitting Americans against each other, and literally killing people every day.

If America is to survive as a functioning democratic republic, we must repudiate the "greed is good" ideology of Ayn Rand and libertarianism, get billionaires and their money out of politics, and rebuild our civil institutions.

That starts with waking Americans up to the incredible damage that 40 years of Rand's writings and libertarian "Reagan Republicans" have done to this country.

It will succeed if President Biden can overcome the cynicism and greed celebrated by McConnell, McCarthy and Stefanik, reclaim the mantle of FDR, and pull America out of the Second Republican Great Depression.

Is America now on the verge of re-fighting the American Revolution?

Former Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney being booed in his own home state raise an urgent question: Are the Redcoats back?

This article was originally published at The Hartmann Report

The Republican party has now introduced over 300 pieces of legislation designed to make it more difficult for American citizens to participate in the process of selecting their representatives, the core function of a democratic republic.

They've also proposed or passed numerous laws criminalizing protest and dissent, primary American values written into the First Amendment, and given a "get out of jail free" card to people who kill protesters.

Today's Republican party does not believe in democracy or the core idea on which this nation was founded:

"That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights" and "that to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…"

As we see with their support of Trump's Big Lie, they have a serious problem with that "consent of the governed" part of the Declaration of Independence. And they're pretty sketchy about that whole human "rights" thing.

If it seems like America is re-fighting the Revolutionary War or the Civil War, it's because there's a sizeable group of rightwing Americans who say that's what they think they're doing.

In both of those past wars, one group of Americans believed in the ideal of democracy and a republic deriving its authority from the will and consent of its people. On the other side, there were people who believed that democracy was a dangerous experiment and a grave mistake.

During the Revolutionary War the anti-democracy folks were called Tories or Loyalists, because they were loyal to the British king and believed that the best form of government was a kingdom, and that letting average people participate in democratic governance would lead to disaster.

That was solidly a third, perhaps even half, of the white people then living in North America: they were willing to fight and die to keep America part of the United Kingdom.

Those who opposed democracy on this continent had a lot of history on their side.

For most of the 7,000 years of recorded human history at that point, governments had been run either by kings who seized power through violence, or priestly theocrats who claimed that their authority to rule came from God. (In most cases, regardless of who ended up on top, there was an unholy alliance between the two.)

The British United Kingdom was just the latest, in 1776, in a long series of kingdoms that ruled every part of Europe; the Greek experiment with democracy was 3000 years old at that time, and the Roman experiment with a republican form of government had failed almost 2000 years earlier.

There were a lot of reasons back then to think that a democratic republic would be a terrible mistake.

The main one was that it hadn't worked in thousands of years, and the ancient Greek and Roman experiments were considered by many — most, actually — to have been failed experiments.

People believed so strongly either in the Loyalist necessity of a royal family, or the Founders' hope of a people engaged in self-rule, that families were literally torn apart, brother killing brother, neighbors turning firearms against each other.

By the time of the Civil War, 80 years later, there was still a debate about whether democracy was anything more than some kind of liberal, airy-fairy idea that really didn't work out all that well.

But this time, those Americans who took up arms against democracy were not fighting on behalf of a church or a king. They were fighting to support the rich, the oligarchs of the deep South.

As I lay out in detail in my new book The Hidden History of American Oligarchy, between 1820 and 1860 the South underwent a radical consolidation of wealth and property.

The invention of the Cotton Gin and its adoption in the early 1820s allowed the few plantations wealthy enough to buy one to effectively wipe out their smaller competitors and buy up their land.

As a result, by 1860 virtually all of the most productive land, wealth and political power of the South was consolidated in the hands of just a few thousand families.

They did not believe in democracy either; they declared war on America specifically to end democracy and establish a continent-wide oligarchy: rule by the rich in an oligarchic police state as the South had become.

The North won and democracy prevailed, but the idea of oligarchy survived and has been persistent throughout American history.

This is what the Republican party now represents: Oligarchy.

Rule by the rich and ignoring "the consent of the governed."

The suppression of dissent, the oppression of minorities, and replacing the ballot box with the iron fist of a police state run of, by and for the wealthy few.

And they're pushing us there really hard and really fast:

A political network run by a group of right-wing billionaires has a larger budget and more employees than the entire Republican party.

A family of billionaire oligarchs from Australia crank democracy-hating propaganda into the American political bloodstream nearly every day on cable television and in print.

Voices openly denigrating democracy and promoting hate and intolerance — the hallmarks of oligarchy — are on local radio and television in every American city every single day, and dominate the Internet.

The single largest source of threats and murders by terrorists in America are today committed by white-supremacist right-wingers who hate and fear the idea of a pluralistic, democratic society.

Tragically, for the third time in our history, Americans who believe in democracy find themselves again having to defend themselves against Americans who don't.

Several of these hard-right groups have openly declared their intention to start a second American Civil War.

They say they want to see Americans killing each other in the name of white supremacy and rule by the rich, and some have followed their suggestion.

They declare their loyalty to a white-supremacist real estate oligarch from New York, get their news from Australian and Ukrainian oligarchs, and have embraced an ideology championed by Germans in the 1930s.

They even adorn themselves in red and wear funny hats like the British loyalists did in revolutionary times.

The Biden presidency represents America's third, and perhaps final, chance to prove democracy is not merely an idealistic fantasy.

If his administration and the Democrats in Congress can succeed in conquering the coronavirus, putting the American economy back on track, and rebuilding the civil society that 40 years of Reaganism has so devastated, American democracy — and, indeed, democracy around the world — may well endure and even grow.

But Republicans are doing everything they can to keep that from happening, from discouraging vaccination and public health measures, to sabotaging our election systems, to amplifying their rhetoric of hate and terror across multiple media platforms.

When "moderate" voices within their ranks, like Mitt Romney and Liz Cheney, dare pop their heads up, the majority of the Republican Party viciously attacks them.

Dissent is no longer allowed in the GOP.

Authoritarianism has prevailed.

Oligarchy has completely seized the party.

These, as Thomas Paine (a fervent believer in democracy) said, "are the times that try men's souls."

Long before actual conflict broke out, Paine wrote: "The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered…"

We must not let the right-wing Redcoat/Redhat terrorists, who have openly proclaimed their goal of Americans killing Americans in an ideological and racial war, prevail.

You’d have to be abnormal not to have Trump Derangement Syndrome right now

Rudy Giuliani and his lawyers are suggesting that the reason a search warrant was issued for his premises and computers is "Trump Derangement Syndrome."


This article was originally published at The Hartmann Report

A lot of us are suffering from that. It's normal and predictable. Arguably, it's a sign of good mental health. It means your psychological alert and defense systems are actually working.

There's an arsonist and a burglar both actively working the neighborhood just down the street from where we live here in Portland. The arsonist has set several people's home's outdoor furniture on fire, and nearly lit up a house.

The burglar has broken into a couple of houses, including one that was occupied at the time, mostly to steal computers, and last week he stole somebody's car from the driveway of an occupied house just down the street from us. I saw it happen, not realizing what was going on but totally baffled as to why anybody would peel out of a driveway and speed down a residential street at 50 or 60 miles an hour.

At the moment, my neighbors and I are suffering from "arsonist and burglar derangement syndrome." It's absolutely normal, when you're presented with a real threat in your environment, to feel a little "deranged." We're staying in closer touch with each other, upgrading security systems, and having more frequent conversations with the police.

(This isn't unique to Portland, by the way. With a massive unemployment crisis caused by Trump's criminal response to the coronavirus combined with 40 years of Reaganism gutting the middle class and exacerbating homelessness, every town in America is experiencing a surge in this kind of crime.)

Similarly, it shouldn't surprise anybody that millions of Americans won't feel safe, but will continue to feel "deranged," until Donald Trump and his authoritarian, democracy-hating, white-supremacist, gun-fetishist followers no longer play any kind of meaningful role on the American political scene and he and his criminal buddies are held to account.

After all, he could've responded to the coronavirus back in January when he told Bob Woodward how lethal it was, but he chose not to. It was just too much trouble, plus, as we've seen in numerous news reports, he realized in April that it was mostly killing Black people and mostly creating chaos in Blue states.

As a result, over half-a-million Americans are dead; that's probably a few million American families who are feeling a bit "deranged." People have lost their parents and grandparents, their children and siblings, their neighbors and loved ones to a disease that could have been controlled here in the United States as it was in Australia, Taiwan and South Korea were it not for an incompetent Con Man in the White House.

Trump nearly started a nuclear war with North Korea, and then went over there a couple of times to kiss one of the most maniacal dictators on Earth's ass.

He sucked up to the butcher of Saudi Arabia, bragging that he blocked the investigation into the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and thus "saved [Muhammed Bone Saw's] ass."

He insisted that America's own intelligence agencies were lying, and Russia and other countries that were friendly to him could do no wrong.

He and his family expropriated money from pretty much anything that moved, as they've had a history of doing for decades.

We're now discovering massive overpayments to various Trump properties around the world from our federal government; he violated the Emoluments Clause — a core pillar of our constitutional form of government — as if it were some kind of a joke.

He conned his followers out of hundreds of millions of dollars, and continues to con them with the Big Lie that "election fraud" is the reason why Joe Biden is in the White House and Democrats run the Senate.

He surrounded himself with criminals, actual traitors, ne'er-do-wells, and outright grifters.

His guy DeJoy is still bent on destroying our Post Office because Trump thought it would help him win the 2020 election, and ruining and then privatizing it can make big bucks for GOP donors.

He did everything he could to destroy Obamacare, Medicare and Medicaid and threw several million people off their insurance coverage. He severely damaged the Social Security Administration.

He tore children apart from their parents, several of those children dying as a result, and cranked up hatred against non-white people to the point that elderly Asians are being assaulted in our streets and other minorities are frightened to go out in public.

He spit in the face of decency and both American tradition and law when he made fun of people with mental and physical disabilities, and explicitly told police that they should "rough up" suspects who are supposed to be presumed innocent until tried and judged guilty.

He referred to actual Nazis as "very fine people," and encouraged the politics of fear and hatred as a sick way of enhancing his own political power.

He has repeatedly been charged with assault and rape, and then offered as his defense that the women who accused him weren't sufficiently attractive for him to have bothered raping.

The women we know for sure he did have extramarital sex with, he paid several hundred thousand dollars to keep quiet, a felonious violation of campaign finance laws that would've landed anybody else (and did land his lawyer, Michael Cohen) in prison.

On January 6th he tried to end our democratic republic and turn it into a strongman authoritarian state like Turkey or Russia, leading to the death of four protesters and three police officers.

And so far, he's been held accountable for none of it, although most Americans are hoping and praying that his apparent immunity will soon end. But, for the moment, the political arsonist and burglar Trump and his grifter family are all still at-large.

You'd have to be abnormal not to have Trump Derangement Syndrome right now.

A disturbing Republican plot is unfolding before our eyes -- will their scheme be completed by 2024?

Americans thought January 6 was the peak of the effort to end democracy in America and replace it with strongman authoritarian rule. But January 6 was merely the tip of the iceberg.

This article was originally published at The Hartmann Report

And it's not just about Donald Trump. This "iceberg" monster that threatens to sink the United States is about ending democracy altogether here and replacing it with a wealthy, white aristocratic oligarchy.

The less visible but largest part of that iceberg is in the states, and it's huge.

Red state after red state is nakedly and openly flipping from democracy to a form of authoritarian oligarchy.

Authoritarian Republicans at the state level, in state after state, are criminalizing protest with such severe penalties that simply stepping off the sidewalk and into the street during a protest could land you 15 years in jail.

At the same time, they're legalizing the murder of pro-democracy, anti-fascist protesters.

The man who killed Heather Heyer and wounded numerous others at the Charlottesville Nazi/Trump rally with his car, for example, could well now be found not-guilty if legislation that has already passed in one state and is pending in multiple others were to pass in Virginia.

These new laws say that any motorist who is trying to "flee a riot" and injures or kills people in the process can be held harmless. It's the protest/automobile equivalent of "stand your ground laws."

Finally, and most alarming, these authoritarian Republicans are seizing control of the actual mechanism of voting.

We're seeing this writ large in Arizona right now, where rightwing conspiracy advocates were hired by Republicans in the state legislature to "audit" the November vote in an attempt to prove that Donald Trump actually won that states election.

While that sounds bad, wait until 2022 and 2024 when a couple dozen red states will have seized complete control of their election systems, like Republican politicians just did in Georgia.

They have cut election professionals and the Secretary of State out of the process entirely and handed to partisan Republicans the power to decide who actually won or lost the elections in the state, which votes get counted and which don't, regardless of what the voters said overall.

These Republicans explicitly do not believe in democracy. They think it's a quaint and outdated idea, but that they know a better way to run a country. Just let the "really smart" people make all the decisions and everything will work out just fine.

And how do you know who is "really smart?" Whoever is richest. Our culture constantly amplifies this message: the richest guy in the room is also the smartest. It's the political version of Neo-Calvinism.

We find it throughout our media where our super-wealthy people are treated like rock stars and demigods, and it's implicit in our legal system where wealthy criminals almost never go to jail.

Even when their crimes destroy the lives of thousands, like we saw during the the Bush crash of 2008, multimillionaires like Steve Mnuchin made off with huge piles of cash while tens of thousands of working-class Americans lost their homes and many lost their families and even their lives. As if to prove the rule, the one guy who did go to prison for financial fraud was Bernie Madoff – but he didn't steal from average people, he stole from rich people. Now that is a serious crime.

Looking just at the most recent elections faced by House and Senate members who supported overturning the 2020 election, the Center for Media and Democracy found some mind-boggling statistics.

Josh Hawley and Rick Scott are arguably the two most serious contenders for president on the Republican side in 2024. Hawley received $41,169,601 from dark money groups leading up to his last election, according to the Center, and Rick Scott received $35,142,565.

This does not include money their official campaigns for the candidates themselves took in or spent; it's just the largely invisible "dark money" spent to help them that we only learn about months after the election.

Rightwing billionaires, their report notes, put over $67 million into Kevin McCarthy's Congressional Leadership Fund to support the 147 members of the House who voted against the 2020 presidential election results, and more than $40 million into Mitch McConnell's Senate Leadership Fund to support similarly-voting Republican senators.

They document how Senator Ted Cruz got well over $8 million, and even Colorado's eccentric gun fetishist Lauren Boebert got $4,917,827.

All of this was made possible by right-wingers on the Supreme Court who blew up a whole series of good-government, anti-bribery laws Congress passed dating all the way back to 1907, with the ultimate knife in the back of democracy coming in 2010 with their Citizens United decision.

The top donor husband and wife who helped members of Congress who voted to overturn Joe Biden's election kicked in $191.4 million to the dark-money groups supporting these politicians. Just behind them a single hedge fund CEO put in $59.8 million. Next was a guy who inherited a fortune from his father: he tossed in $50 million just support these authoritarians, followed by another financier at $46 million. The list goes on…

The Center documents how dozens of corporations also added in tens of millions of additional dollars to support those members of Congress who wanted to overthrow the election of 2020.

While the Center reports that Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch tossed in $2 million, less than half of the $4.4 million Betsy DeVos put in, their network, Fox News, has done the really heavy lifting to support ending democracy in America.

Every night in prime time, multimillionaire hosts like Tucker Carlson promote the idea that white authoritarian rule is necessary to keep America from descending into chaos caused by dark-skinned immigrants and Black people, particularly if they're allowed to vote.

While Ronald Reagan supported apartheid in South Africa, the modern conservative movement he birthed is now supporting it here in the United States.

We thought we dodged a bullet with the 2020 election. But Republicans in state after state are loading cannons as you're reading this, and the very concept of democracy itself is their bullseye.

One deplorable motive drives most of the Republican Party's behavior

Republican greed is why Americans can't have nice things.

Every developed country in the world has some variation on a free or low-cost national healthcare system, and free or even subsidized higher education. In most developed countries homelessness is not a crisis, nobody goes bankrupt because somebody in their family got sick, and jobs pay well enough and have union pensions so people can retire after 30 or 40 years in the workforce and live comfortably for the rest of their lives.

This article was originally published at The Hartmann Report

But not in America. Republicans would never allow any of those things to happen.

It's not about ideology. Republicans don't hate Social Security and Medicare, for example, because they're afraid that those programs are going to somehow turn America into a communist country. They hate those programs because they're paid for with tax dollars, and greedy Republicans hate to pay their fair share of taxes.

It's not about racism, although it often appears that way. The reason Republicans work so hard to keep Black and Brown people down is because they subscribe to a weird economic theory that "requires" an underclass who do most of the hard work for very little money so rich Republicans, being part of the overclass, can reap the benefits and stuff the extra cash into their money bins.

If their use of racist language and Confederate iconography brings in a few more low-IQ white voters, that's just icing on the cake. They can use the racist yahoos to get themselves reelected so giant corporations will continue to stuff their SuperPACs with lobbyist cash they can use for their own retirement.

It's not about charity, although they love to say that the housing and healthcare needs of poor people should be taken care of through charity. What they're really saying is that they don't want to pay their fair share of taxes to maintain a healthy society.

It's not about Christianity, although they're constantly invoking Jesus for everything from pushing the death penalty on women who want to get an abortion to giving bigots the legal right to discriminate against gay and trans people. Jesus never once mentioned abortion and decried bigotry, but they regularly ignore and even flaunt His teachings in the Sermon on the Mount and His warnings in Matthew 25. They protect multimillionaire evangelists' tax-free status, and the preachers repay them by preaching politics from the pulpit.

It's not about saving Americans from the pandemic. Trump used the Defense Production Act to force mostly Brown and Black meatpackers back to work, not to keep Americans safe. As long as the factories are humming and the stock market is rising, a few hundred thousand dead Americans are just collateral damage.

It's not about conservatism. They're not interested in slowly or "cautiously" improving society, or "conserving" anything other than the balances in their own checking accounts. They like to use the word "conservative," but they've rendered it meaningless at best and code for "racist" at worst.

It's not about making the world a better place. They deny climate change, deregulate industries that poison our air and water, and do everything they can to screw working people out of unions, good wages and decent benefits. They're totally down with pesticides that are killing our pollinators while they poison our atmosphere with their carbon emissions, all just to make a buck.

It's not about having a better-educated electorate or populace. They've spent decades trying to destroy our public education system that was, in the 1960s, the envy of the world. When they did away with free and low-cost college education during the Reagan years they kicked off almost $2 trillion worth of student debt which is preventing people from starting families, opening small businesses, or even buying their first house. But it sure is profitable for Republican bankers!

It isn't about "culture." They do a good-old-boy NASCAR/Duck Dynasty routine to bring in the rubes, but there's no way Donald Trump would ever invite the average Republican voter with a giant flag and a pickup truck to any of his golf clubs, nor would Ted Cruz want to vacation with one of them or their families in Cancun.

It's not about "gun violence." As long as their investments in weapons manufacturers are profitable and the problem of gun violence is limited to poor- and working-class Americans, Republicans don't give a rat's ass about "gun safety." Although they're happy to use guns as a wedge issue to bring in male voters who are insecure about their own masculinity.

It's not about immigrants taking jobs from working-class Americans. Ronald Reagan stopped enforcing the laws against wealthy white employers hiring people who are here without documentation. As a result, entire industries like construction and meatpacking that once provided good union jobs have been de-unionized, their former American-citizen union employees replaced by low-wage workers without documentation. And when the spotlight gets shined on them, Republicans are more than happy to put poor, hard-working Brown people in jail but there's no way they're ever going to go after wealthy white employers. They don't give a damn about your job, particularly when they can find somebody else to do it cheaper.

It's not about America "first." Reagan and Bush the Elder negotiated NAFTA and revived the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) so businesses could offshore entire factories. Since the Reagan administration, over 60,000 factories have left America, along with at least 5 million jobs. Donald Trump's rewrite of NAFTA even gives American companies a huge new tax break if they move factories from America to Mexico.

At the end of the day, all Republicans care about is money. Greed is their principle animating force.

It doesn't matter how many Americans die, how many humans struggle in misery and poverty, how many children's growth is stunted or are poisoned by industrial and mining waste being poured into our air and rivers.

As long as the money keeps rolling in and their billonnaire patron's taxes remain absurdly low, that's all Republicans care about and are willing to fight for.

The GOP stands atop an ocean of blood

America, John F Kennedy said, was like John Winthrop's idealistic "city on a hill." Ronald Reagan added the word "shining" to that description when he plagiarized Kennedy. And now Republicans across the country want to change the word "city" to "armed encampment."

This article was originally published at The Hartmann Report

Republicans in the Texas House of Representatives just passed a so-called "Constitutional Carry" law that would allow pretty much anybody over 21 to carry a gun, concealed or not, permitted or not, experienced or not.

Democrats offered an amendment that would've forbidden "domestic terrorists and white supremacists" from the gun-carrying "right," but Republicans voted that down.

The whole "city on the hill" metaphor was meant to evoke a nation that others would want to emulate. Apparently we're now there: Brazilian fascist strongman Jair Bolsonaro has proclaimed that he wants every Brazilian to have a gun "just like in America."

After all, his country has nearly caught up with us having the second highest Covid death rate in the world; why not have the second highest gun death rate, too?

The mass shooter in Indianapolis last week had had his shotgun confiscated earlier in the month after his mother reported he was planning to commit "suicide by cop." He simply bought two more guns, this time high-powered assault rifles so he could more easily kill eight people in a few seconds.

And those two weapons he bought weren't cheap: more money flowed into the blood-stained coffers of the NRA and their gun-manufacturing patrons.

As of last Friday, April 16, there have been 147 mass shootings in the US this year, a 73% increase over last year. Psychologists describe it as "a contagion," sort of like Covid. The more people do it, the more people will do it. We've known for decades that this is also how suicide works, which is why schools treat student suicide so differently from every other kind of death.

And, like with Covid, Republicans are doing everything they can to make sure that the contagious agent – in this case, a gun – is widely and freely available to anybody who may want it.

President Biden and the Democrats just proposed legislation that would limit gun magazines to no more than 10 rounds; Republicans are outraged.

After all, if you're going to wage war against your government because it's become "tyrannical" by offering things like free college, Medicare for All, and a wealth tax on billionaires to pay for it all, you're gonna need a hell of a lot more than just 10 rounds.

For most of the 18 years I've been doing my daily radio and TV show, I've been saying that, at the very least, we should regulate guns the same way we do cars. I lay out the details in my book The Hidden History of Guns and the Second Amendment.

The gun should be registered with the state and that registration should renew every year just like a car; the gun owner should be licensed and must demonstrate proficiency and pass a written exam just like a car driver; and there must be an insurance company writing a mandatory liability policy so when someone's hurt or killed with a gun they or their family get the same kind of financial cushion they would have had they been hit by a car.

Now, Stephen Colbert has picked up the banner of "license guns like cars," and it couldn't be a moment too soon. Hopefully more celebrities will get with the program; it's not anywhere near as extensive a form of gun control as rational countries like Australia and most of Europe have undertaken, but it's a start that every American can understand.

Our country was founded on a set of values and ideals; the first to do so in history. Or at least that was the concept, and with every passing century we get closer to realizing those ideals.

It's time to re-capture John F. Kennedy's idealism and actually make America a "city on the hill" we can be proud of and others will once again want to emulate.

We start by ending our epidemic of gun violence and calling out the GOP for what they have chosen to become: a death cult committed to violence, bigotry, and the destruction of our planet.

How will the white supremacy brand of today’s Republican Party end?

So, Marjorie Taylor Greene, who does not much participate in the legislative process other than occasionally trying to stop it, and has lost all her committee assignments, raised over 3 million bucks in the last quarter.

This article was originally published at The Hartmann Report

A really good first-quarter haul for a freshman member of Congress who's actually getting things done would be $250,000 to a half million dollars. Greene blew the doors out.

But why?

There was a time in America when "conservative" meant, "In favor of moving toward a better country, but doing it slowly and cautiously."

We use the word "conservative," in fact, to generically mean "cautiously."

But the last five years have irrefutably shown that when American politicians use the word conservative these days, what they really mean is white supremacist.

White supremacy has become the central brand of today's Republican Party, and, in retrospect, has been at the core of that Party's explicit efforts ever since Richard Nixon's 1968 Southern Strategy.

And for "movement conservatives" it really dates even farther back than that. Consider one of the top founders of today's conservative movement (and of the National Review publication), William F. Buckley.

People of a certain age (like me) well remember Buckley's 1966-1999 show Firing Line every Sunday on PBS as he pontificated about the wonders of "conservatism" and promoted Republican politicians. My dad was a religious viewer; it was a major force in national politics.

In a 1957 editorial titled Why the South Must Prevail, he laid out explicitly what the foundation of conservatism must be.

"Again, let us speak frankly," Buckley wrote. "The South does not want to deprive the Negro of a vote for the sake of depriving him of the vote."

No, this wasn't just malice or performance. It was all about power, enforced by the state. And about defining, once and for all, the core animating principle of the newly resurgent conservative movement.

"In some parts of the South," Buckley wrote, "the White community merely intends to prevail — that is all. It means to prevail on any issue on which there is corporate disagreement between Negro and White. The White community will take whatever measures are necessary to make certain that it has its way."

He asked, rhetorically, if the South is "entitled" to "prevail" even in rural areas of the country or large cities with majority Black populations?

"The sobering answer," Buckley wrote, "is Yes — the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race."

So here we are.

Americans would like to believe that the people who sent Marjorie Taylor Greene all that money were concerned about taxes or trade or America's standing in the world, but it's obvious now that they are not.

They want to support a white congresswoman from Georgia because she, like Buckley in his day, is waving all the flags associated with white supremacy.

After she jumped into the Republican primary in the state where I lived for 13 years, she pushed out a series of videos complaining about an "Islamic invasion" of elected office, presumably referencing Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, and conflated Black and Hispanic men with "gangs and dealing drugs."

She started hustling the 2020 version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion saying that Jewish Billionaire George Soros had something to do with the Nazis and is supernaturally controlling world events. And let's not forget the Jewish space lasers.

This was so offensive that House Minority whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who had previously described himself as "David Duke without the baggage," endorsed her primary opponent, and Congressman Jody Hice of Georgia withdrew his endorsement of her. She nonetheless won both the primary and the general elections, using Trump as a symbol of and for white supremacy.

But Greene is not the problem; she's merely one of many, and a symptom of how widespread and popular white supremacy and white nationalism are in today's America. These ideologies have become the number one animating force in Republican politics.

The Chicago Project on Security and Threats did a deep dive into which counties had sent people to Washington DC on January 6 to try to overthrow our republic.

The Project's Director, Robert A. Pape, wrote in The Washington Post, "[T]he people alleged by authorities to have taken the law into their hands on Jan. 6 typically hail from places were non-White populations are growing fastest."

They also did two independent surveys early this year and found that, "One driver overwhelmingly stood out: fear of the 'Great Replacement.'"

The Great Replacement is what animated the white mass murderer in Christchurch, New Zealand as well as the white man who slaughtered 20 people at a shopping center in El Paso, Texas. It's why white nationalist Tim McVeigh blew up the Oklahoma City Federal Building.

It refers to the fear some white people have of being "replaced" by people of color, and was apparently endorsed this week by Tucker Carlson on Fox News.

Using this hook, the Republican Party has explicitly rebranded itself in the last five years.

They've embraced statues of Confederate generals and oppose stripping their names from military bases. They are working as hard as they possibly can to stop Black people from voting, while demonizing cities like Pittsburgh, Detroit and Milwaukee with charges of "voter fraud" because, one must assume, they're majority-Black cities.

Now they're reviving a modern-day version of William Rehnquist's old "Operation Eagle Eye" that sent white lawyers to Black, Hispanic and Native American polling places in Arizona to challenge, threaten and intimidate voters.

As Jessica Corbett wrote for Common Dreams about Texas Republicans:

"Common Cause Texas on Thursday shared a leaked video of a Harris County GOP official discussing plans to 'build an army' of 10,000 election workers and poll watchers, including some who 'will have the confidence and courage' to go into Black and Brown communities to address alleged voter fraud that analyses show does not actually exist."

Thus, we now clearly see that "Make America Great Again" really means "Make America White Again." And every white supremacist in America knows it, agrees with it, and will enthusiastically send money to any Republican politician who waves Trump's white supremacist flag.

And it's not just the GOP that has gone down this road. The White Evangelical movement is right there with them, with the emphasis on "White."

This is extraordinarily dangerous stuff.

As Holocaust survivor Sidney Zoltak said, and was reported in yesterday's New York Times, "The diabolic plan to annihilate the Jews in Europe was established in small increments. Way before the establishment of the concentration camps, the ghettos, the death camps, the mobile killing units, it started with words."

Words that characterized Jews, gypsies, gay people and socialists as vermin, as invaders, as an infestation. Words like Donald Trump and his followers use regularly.

And the Nazis were in the streets, both in Germany in the 1930s and in America over the past five years, chanting things like, "Jews will not replace us." Today, they are Donald Trump's "very fine people."

The first generation of majority non-white Americans is already born and entering school. There's nothing white people can do to stop this trend.

Thus, white Americans in the GOP (the vast majority of the Party) are facing a stark choice.

They can go down yelling and screaming and take a lot of lives with them, tearing this country apart pursuing their "Lost Cause."

Or, they can start working for a country that actually realizes the vision of America's founding promise, that "All men are created equal."

Georgians are waking up to Governor Kemp’s authoritarian takeover

In light of what Georgia's legislature and Governor Brian Kemp just did to crush democracy in that state, you will want to read what a brilliant reporter wrote in the 1950s about how the Nazis took over Germany. It illustrates what the GOP is doing with vivid detail.

This article was originally published at the Hartmann Report

The Nazis corrupted the political system and took it over, bit by bit, gradually drawing the people along with them, and packing the courts with partisans in a way that was shockingly banal and totally resonant with today.

And then, in a relative instant, they changed the laws so it was all irreversible.

You can draw a straight line from Reagan through Bush to Trump, and then to Georgia and Iowa outlawing democracy in their states this past week. We're watching democracy ripped right out from under us.

This was Chicago reporter Milton Mayer's great fear and great fascination, after he got to know real Germans who'd lived through the years of the Nazis.

An American Jew of German ancestry, and a brilliant writer, Mayer went to Germany 7 years after Hitler's fall and befriended 10 "average Germans," asking each how the Nazis rose to power in an otherwise civilized nation.

His book, They Thought They Were Free, is his story of that experience. Intertwined through it — first published in 1955 — are repeated overt and subtle warnings to future generations of Americans: to us, today.

In Georgia yesterday a voter suppression bill was passed that functionally hands to the Georgia legislature the power to decide who won elections in that state, regardless of how the vote turned out.

It was introduced into the House, passed the House; introduced into the Senate, passed the Senate; sent to the Governor and signed by Governor Brian Kemp…all in less than one day.

Mayer quotes one of his German friends as describing a similar process:

What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security....

Consider how Brian Kemp became governor.

As Secretary of State in 2018, he did what Jeb Bush ordered SoS Kathrine Harris to do in Florida in 2000, purging hundreds of thousands of Georgia voters from the voting rolls, including massive numbers of African Americans (as documented in granular detail in my book The Hidden History of the War On Voting).

When Stacy Abrams ran against him for Governor in the election of 2018, the group she ran registered over 53,000 Black people to vote.

Then-Secretary of State Kemp refused to process those registrations before the day of his own race for governor when he ran against Abrams. He "won" the Governor's seat by just over fifty thousand votes.

Democracy in Georgia was crippled by Kemp's actions, even before he yesterday outlawed Democrats running their own precincts to keep voting lines short, and criminalized giving water to 90-year-olds standing in lines Republicans configure to last for 8 or more hours.

The German survivor continues, as if he'd been living in Georgia or Iowa or Wisconsin for the past decade:

This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter. ...
To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it - please try to believe me - unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop.
Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, "regretted," that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these "little measures" that no "patriotic German" could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing.
One day it is over his head.

A week ago, we all thought we had a fine constitutional republic that had just been battered a little bit by a crazy billionaire con man.

Today, we're discovering that throughout the past five years — and really since 2001 with Bush's PATRIOT Act/torture/war/wiretap response to 9/11 — we've been incrementally changing our country with every Republican administration, particularly at the state level, and most Americans didn't even realize it.

And then, Brian Kemp signs a one-day-to-pass piece of legislation that guts democracy in Georgia and the GOP announces they're going to push other states to do the same, and we suddenly realize that while everything still looks the same, in reality everything has truly and deeply changed.

We are farther along in the process than most Americans understand. America has now sunk so low in the rankings of democratic nations because of the way Republicans have rigged state governments and use the filibuster in the US Senate that we are as dysfunctional as Argentina or Hungary.

This, Mayer's German informant suggests, is how fascism will always take over a nation.

You see, one doesn't see exactly where or how to move. Believe me, this is true. Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for the one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow. You don't want to act, or even to talk, alone; you don't want to 'go out of your way to make trouble.' Why not? - Well, you are not in the habit of doing it. And it is not just fear, fear of standing alone, that restrains you; it is also genuine uncertainty.

During this time of genuine crisis, the worst pandemic in a century made worse (perhaps intentionally) by Trump's response to it, Americans are paying far more attention to keeping their jobs and avoiding illness than what's going on in state capitols where they don't even know the names of their own state representatives and senators.

Thus came the final opportunity for genuine fascists like Kemp to move and move quickly.

Uncertainty is a very important factor, and, instead of decreasing as time goes on, it grows. Outside, in the streets, in the general community, everyone is happy. One hears no protest, and certainly sees none. You know, in France or Italy there will be slogans against the government painted on walls and fences; in Germany, outside the great cities, perhaps, there is not even this. In the university community, in your own community, you speak privately to your colleagues, some of whom certainly feel as you do; but what do they say? They say, 'It's not so bad' or 'You're seeing things' or 'You're an alarmist.'

Yesterday Georgia State Representative Park Cannon, a Black woman and elected legislator, was arrested for knocking on Governor Kemp's door while he was signing the "Gutting Democracy" bill in a televised but closed-door event. She was the only person in the State of Georgia who took such an action.

Meanwhile, Florida is trying to pass SB90, which would require everybody in the state to re-register to vote for every election.

But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That's the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and the smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked - if, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in '43 had come immediately after the 'German Firm' stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in '33.

We can't say we weren't warned.

In a speech that was hysterically criticized by Republicans, President Obama in December of 2017 came right out and said it: "You have to tend to this garden of democracy, otherwise things can fall apart fairly quickly. And we've seen societies where that happens."

Yes, the former President of the United States was invoked Nazi Germany three years ago while Donald Trump was President, adding:

"Now, presumably, there was a ballroom in Vienna in the late 1920s or '30s that looked and seemed as if it ― filled with the music and art and literature and the science that was emerging ― would continue into perpetuity.

"And then," President Obama said, "60 million people died. And the entire world was plunged into chaos."

The warnings have been there all along. I wrote of this in 2005, quoting Mayer and going off on Bush and the PATRIOT Act as the prequel to fascism.

Americans have been shouting about it lately, in venues like The New York Times and Madeline Albright's book and from legislators like Alexandria Ocazio-Cortez. Back to Mayer's German friend in 1954:

But of course this isn't the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.
And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident, in my case my little boy, hardly more than a baby, saying 'Jew swine,' collapses it all at once, and you see that everything, everything, has changed and changed completely under your nose.

People in Georgia are waking up today to a different state.

They will no longer be able to know their voices and attempts to vote will actually decide who is their governor, their attorney general, their secretary of state.

They can be purged from the voting rolls on a whim, Republicans can take over their precincts and run them under whatever rules they want, and when the GOP inflicts 10-hour lines to vote on them, you now go to jail if you bring them water.

They'll no longer know their vote for president will count; whenever the vote is close or there's a controversy, those decisions will be made by Republicans in the Georgia legislature and groups appointed by them.

The world you live in - your nation, your people - is not the world you were in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays.
But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed.
Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. Now you live in a system which rules without responsibility even to God.

"How is this to be avoided, among ordinary men, even highly educated ordinary men?" Mayer's friend asked rhetorically.

And, without the benefit of a previous and recent and well-remembered fascistic regime to refer to, Mayer had to candidly answer: "Frankly, I do not know."

This was the great problem that Mayer's Germans and so many in their day faced.

And now here we are, but this time we have the benefit of having seen this already play out in other nations, something the Germans of the 1930s lacked.

So how to counter it?

As Mayer so movingly narrates, the experience of 20th century Europe demonstrates that those abusing power must be confronted with equally vigorous power.

In the 1930s, Germans who believed in republican democracy were overwhelmed before they realized how completely their civil liberties and national institutions had been seized. Once the laws across the country were changed, it was too late to turn back.

We must not allow it to continue to happen in our nation. We must fight back against this naked assault on American democracy.

That starts by overruling at the federal level, with HR1 (the For The People Act), egregious laws like the one just passed in Georgia.

It continues by using HR1 to end partisan gerrymandering that causes states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania (among others) to send more Republicans to Congress than Democrats even though the majority the voters in those states actually voted for Democrats.

Both require us to end the anti-democratic filibuster immediately, or at least turn it back into the "Jimmy Stewart Filibuster" of yore so a vote eventually happens.

America is on the brink today, and if we don't strengthen and restore democratic processes to our nation, Trump or someone much like him (Hawley, Cruz, Scott, Cotton) will use these new state-based laws to overrule the will of the voters in 2024 and end our American experiment.

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