Republicans have unleashed a new crime wave on America

Yesterday morning, a burglar tried to break into my home. Thankfully the doors were all locked, but a few houses down wasn't so lucky; our neighbor was home and is now pretty traumatized to have experienced a home-invasion burglary. By the time the police arrived, the burglar was long gone in a stolen car.

A friend is trying to sell his condo in downtown Portland but large parts of downtown have been turned into a giant homeless camp so there are few buyers even in this hot real estate market. The nearby streets are pockmarked with tents and the curbs frequently sport human waste.

Homelessness and its attendant crime are getting so bad that police in many cities don't bother to investigate many property crimes unless they're against wealthy people and involve things of great value. Just among my own friends and acquaintances in the past year I've seen 3 cars stolen (one I watched happen!), one car damaged in a smash-and-grab, and two home-invasion break-ins.

And I know of dozens of smaller crimes, including assault against a family member by a mentally ill homeless person, that were simply never reported to police and therefore don't show up in official statistics.

And this isn't a story unique to Portland; petty and property crime are exploding along with gun crimes and homelessness in cities across the nation. New York City just chose a new mayoral candidate in the Democratic primary whose main credential was that he was a cop; people are freaking out.

But there's more to this than homelessness or "bad people" doing crime for fun and profit; there are deep causes to this problem (beyond the pandemic) that require deep solutions.

Most people think crime (particularly property crime) is caused by poverty, like the poor people portrayed in Les Misérables stealing food for their children. But Louis XVI's policies had both increased poverty in France while massively increasing his own wealth and that of his friends. There was poverty, and even periodic famines, but (outside of stealing food) that wasn't what was driving crime and ultimate revolution of 18th century France: it was inequality.

Hold that thought.

I've worked among very, very poor people and even in the midst of famines. In late November 1980 I went into Uganda at the tail end of the Tanzanian invasion that overthrew Idi Amin. As Amin fled to Saudi Arabia where he was feted with a palace for himself and his wives by the Saudi government, his soldiers went on a killing and looting rampage, particularly in the northern region against the Karamojong people. They killed most all the men and boys older than toddlers and raped the women; by the time we got there the region was filled with thousands of starving women and small children (my contemporaneous diary of that trip is here).

Thursday of that week the special on NPR's All Things Considered show was an 18-minute conversation between Sanford Ungar and me (on a satellite phone from Uganda) as I was describing the famine we were trying to address, with hundreds of people dying every day, live on the radio as Americans were sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner.

I worked in Bogota, Colombia a year or so later in one of that city's massive barrios built on a hillside out of cardboard and scrap wood with streams of raw sewage running to an open sewer in the valley below. I worked in the Klong Toey slum of Bangkok where the Duang Prateep Foundation was putting in non-flammable sidewalks and organizing regular trash removal because the giant Japanese corporation that owned the swamp the slum was built over kept trying to burn out the slum-dwellers.

When I was in The Philippines in 1985, Father Ben Carreon, an activist priest and the author of a popular column for the Manila Times, took me to one of that city's massive garbage dumps. The smell was awful, the air thick with insects, as mountains of rotted garbage stretched off into the distance. We stood in the hot afternoon sun, and Father Ben said, "Look carefully at the piles of garbage." I squinted in the bright light, looking at the distant piles, and noticed something. "They're moving!" I said. "No, it's children on them that are moving," he said. "Thousands of them. Their families live all around here, and the children spend their days scavenging for garbage that their families can eat."

People in Uganda were dying of famine in Mbale and across the Karamoja region, and hunger stalked the "big city" of Kampala, but there was little crime because the rich people had all left the country. Instead, there was a shared sense of solidarity; while poor people did prey on each other, it was more the exception than the rule and entire communities would rise up against thieves.

I experienced the same thing working in the slums of Thailand, Peru, and Colombia; the biggest crime I personally experienced was having my wallet and pocket computer stolen on a flight to Kenya while I was asleep. Truly poor people don't buy airplane tickets.

Poverty doesn't cause most crime, it turns out: inequality does. And America is now, far and away, the most unequal developed country in the entire world.

While billionaires who pay less in federal income taxes than you do blast themselves into space on giant penis-shaped rockets, the majority of Americans are struggling to get by. I say "the majority" because a decade ago the number of Americans who could call themselves "middle class" slipped below 50% for the first time since the Eisenhower era.

My neighborhood's burglar wasn't hungry; she was young, healthy and well-fed as was the small dog she walked to blend into the community. America is not experiencing a surge of crimes related to survival.

So how does inequality provoke criminality? The research on the topic is pretty exhaustive, albeit poorly publicized, and the simplest explanation is among the most easily understood: Humans are wired to rebel against unfairness.

Walk into a preschool class and give one child a pile of cookies while giving everybody else only one each and see what happens. In fact, it's not just humans; this holds true across all mammalian species from rats to dogs to apes.

As research across 33 nations published in Oxford's European Journal of Public Health found, inequality devastates social trust among people, opening the door to antisocial crime, including violent crime (although you could argue that stealing is also a form of interpersonal violence).

We're social animals and evolution has fine-tuned that socialization instinct — necessary for survival in a hostile world — so well that in virtually ever pre-literate and/or pre-agricultural society in the world (and there are still many left) that the number one way to gain status in such societies is to give things away. In North America, that's the origin of the Native America Potlatch, a feast where everybody brings food and shares as much as they can. (The first Thanksgiving of lore was probably an east-coast variation on the Potlatch.)

In fact, as I learned in Uganda working through that famine, the more people have their backs to the wall the more cooperative and concerned with others they become. Shared hardship fosters community.

This isn't to romanticize poverty; it's tough and crime is a problem in barrios and slums around the world. But crime isn't sweeping the cities of Europe, Japan, South Korea or Taiwan the way it is American cities because in those countries the very wealthy are appropriately taxed and therefore average people are still well within the parameters of the middle class.

Research published in the Oxford Economic Papers in 2014 found that not only does inequality cause increases in crime (including violent crime), but the main variable is people's perception of inequality: When the morbidly rich are conspicuous in their consumption, crime explodes faster than when they're discreet.

"Using variation within US states over time, we document a robust association between the distribution of conspicuous consumption and violent crime," authors Daniel and Joan Hicks noted.

A 2000 study published in The Review of Economics and Statistics (Harvard/MIT) came to the same conclusion: inequality causes crime, not just poverty.

The World Economic Forum published a paper in 2014 which looked at the relationship between inequality and crime in Mexico. "Our key finding is that, in fact, municipalities with lower inequality saw lower rates of crime," the authors write. "In other words, while the overall national data reveals an apparent paradox; broken down by smaller geographical regions, the paradox does not hold — less economic disparity does lead to less crime."

A study of 148,000 people across 142 countries found a similar association all over the world. The Economist magazine titled their review of it: "The stark relationship between income inequality and crime."

Research published by the Equality Trust in the UK, which exclusively studies the impacts of economic and social inequality, found: "Small permanent decreases in inequality — such as reducing inequality from the level found in Spain to that in Canada — would reduce homicides by 20% and lead to a 23% long-term reduction in robberies."

Inequality causes crime because it destroys social trust, the core fabric of any society. Without social trust, empathy and shared values disintegrate and culture begins to disintegrate.

We see examples of this across the Third World in countries that have been essentially raped by their morbidly rich ruling class for decades. Beyond a certain point, inequality becomes an actual poison to society itself. We passed that point in the last decade, and it's tearing our nation apart.

Which brings us to the GOP. The Republican Party is so committed to making morbidly rich people even richer (and keeping them that way) that just this weekend Republican Senator Rob Portman announced on TV that they wouldn't go along with funding a bipartisan infrastructure bill by letting the IRS hire more auditors to catch rich tax cheats. Seriously. That's their position.

Republican Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming told Axios last week that "spending $40 billion to super-size the IRS is very concerning. … Law-abiding Americans deserve better from their government than an army of bureaucrats snooping through their bank statements."

Republican Senator Ted Cruz said, "Throwing billions more taxpayer dollars at the IRS will only hurt Americans struggling to recover after waves of devastating lockdowns. ... Instead of increasing funding for the IRS, we should abolish the damn place."

Republican tax policies, starting with Reaganomics in the 1980s (and continuing to this very day) have both gutted the American working class and exploded inequality in this nation, all while making a hundred thousand or so Americans obscenely rich.

We've even exceeded the worse inequality gap we'd ever seen, in 1929 at the tail end of the "Roaring 20s" and the beginning of the Republican Great Depression (yes, they called it that until the early 1950s).

If we want to get crime under control and restore social cohesion to our society, we must also tackle inequality. And that means to tax the morbidly rich who today pay less than 23% of their income in taxes.

Community policing and a variety of other solutions are important, but if we don't address the core problem of inequality in our society, they're merely band-aids on the cancer of this social crisis.


Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of The Hidden History of American Healthcare and more than 30 other books in print. He is a writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute and his writings are archived at hartmannreport.com.

This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

The actual reason why Republicans and their media are discouraging people from getting vaccinated

Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a CNN Medical Analyst, said last week, "A surprising amount of death will occur soon..." But why, when the deadly Delta variant is sweeping the world, are Republicans and their media warning people not to get vaccinated?

There's always a reason. People don't do things — particularly things involving a lot of effort and a need for consistency — without a reason. It just doesn't happen. No matter how bizarre, twisted or dysfunctional the reason may be, there's always a reason.

Dr. Anthony Fauci told Jake Tapper on CNN last Sunday, "I don't have a really good reason why this [unwillingness to get vaccinated] is happening."

But even if he can't think of a reason why Republicans would trash talk vaccination and people would believe them, it's definitely there.

Which is why it's important to ask a couple of simple questions that all point to the actual reason why Republicans and their media are discouraging people from getting vaccinated:

1. Why did Trump get vaccinated in secret after Joe Biden won the election and his January 6th coup attempt failed?

2. Why are Fox "News" personalities discouraging people from getting vaccinated while refusing to say if they and the people they work with have been protected by vaccination?

3. Why was one of the biggest applause lines at CPAC: "They were hoping — the government was hoping — that they could sort of sucker 90% of the population into getting vaccinated and it isn't happening!"

4. Why are Republican legislators in states around the country pushing laws that would "ban" private businesses from asking to see proof of vaccination status (they call it "banning vaccine passports")?

5. Why, when President Biden suggested sending volunteers door-to-door into low-vaccination communities to let people know how and where they could get vaccinated, did rightwing media go nuts about "government thugs" coming to your door to "force" vaccines on you?

6. Why are about half of all the Republicans in Congress refusing to say if they've gotten a vaccine or not? For that matter, why do the CPAC speakers who are trashing vaccines refuse to say if they're vaccinated or not?

7. Why would a Newsmax host trash-talk vaccines saying, "I feel like a vaccination in a weird way is just generally kind of going against nature"?

8. Why did Republican Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota downplay the dangers of Covid last week by bragging that she never shut her state down (and Ron DeSantis did) when SD has 230 Covid deaths per 100,000 people while similar low-population states like Vermont and Oregon are at 41 and 66 deaths per 100,000 respectively?

I hope I'm proven wrong on this, but the only possible explanation I can see for all this activity that seems so well-coordinated and largely consistent is that they all think there's something in it for them. And what might that be?

Political power. And, of course, the eventual wealth that often comes with political power, particularly corrupt power. Retired Republicans make a lot of money.

Put simply, I believe these Republicans are trying to promote outbreaks of Covid in America to soften or damage Joe Biden's red-hot economy on the assumption that if the economy tanks then people will vote out Democrats and vote in Republicans in 2022 and 2024.

As Pat Buchanan wrote today: "Are the Democrats headed for their Little Bighorn, with President Joe Biden as Col. Custer? The wish, you suggest, is father to the thought."

They're not just willing to let tens or hundreds of thousands of Americans die just to win the next two elections, they're actively encouraging that outcome.

Death is their electoral strategy.

Is there any other possible explanation?

They're not stupid (although they're banking on their audience being, at least, poorly informed) and most have college degrees (and Lauren Boebert finally got her GED). Even if a few of them fell down the Facebook or YouTube rabbit hole into anti-vaxxer territories, they still have no shortage of actual medical experts and staffers who know how to use Google available to them.

It's remotely possible they just hate and want to damage the US, and a few who are pushing vaccine "hesitancy" like Ron Johnson and John Kennedy recently celebrated the 4th of July in Moscow, but it's unlikely that they'd take the chance of coordinating with a foreign power to kill Americans (even if much of the foreign troll activity on social media is also trashing vaccines to American social media users).

A bizarre faux masculinity could be behind it, the way Trump tried to promote the idea that only wimps wear masks, but, seriously, do you really think these folks are taking fashion/appearance tips from an obese geriatric guy with a huge comb-over who wears absurd amounts of makeup, contacts, men's diapers and false teeth? And what's "masculine" about slowly dying by drowning in your own snot? Or becoming unable to get an erection, as happens to a significant number of men who get Covid?

It's certainly not fear of, or concern about, the vaccine itself; whether they'll admit it or not, virtually all of these Republicans and media stars telling people to be afraid of getting a shot have been secretly vaccinated themselves, just like Trump and his family were in January. As CNN Medical Analyst, Dr. Jonathan Reiner, said, "Over 100 members of Congress, all of them GOP members, refuse to tell their constituents whether they have been vaccinated. They've all been vaccinated, every single one of those characters have been vaccinated."

This also has nothing to do with "conservative" ideology. Vaccination has been a part of the American landscape since George Washington ordered his troops inoculated against smallpox during the Revolutionary war, and Republican President Dwight Eisenhower (and his VP, Richard Nixon) had schoolchildren across the nation get the polio vaccine in the 1950s (I was one of them who lined up in school to get it and remember it well).

As California governor, Ronald Reagan oversaw a public school system that required vaccination for admission and conservatives like Bill Kristol and George W. Bush are proudly vaccinated against Covid. Mitch McConnell, who had polio as a child, said, "As a victim of polio myself, I'm a big fan of vaccinations, and if I were a parent who had a child … being subject to getting any particular disease, I would come down on the side of vaccinations." This is not about fearing or not understanding vaccines.

They're certainly not being paid by "big Pharma" to trash vaccines, and you can bet your last dollar that the billionaires who pay for big Republican events are not only themselves vaccinated but have made sure the entire staff of their multiple mansions, from the cooks to the pool boys to the masseuses and the live-in chefs are all vaccinated.

So, what's left?

Politics, and the power and money that derive from it.

The reason why Donald Trump spent much of 2020 desperately encouraging people to keep shopping and working was because he knew that when an economy collapses in the 18 months before an election, the party in power always loses.

In his desperation to get the economy back in shape, Trump even issued an executive order forcing mostly Black and Hispanic meat-packing and slaughterhouse employees back to work under threat of imprisonment.

But, sure enough, the economy tanked anyway and Democrats now control the White House, Senate and House of Representatives.

Thus, it appears that today's entire GOP strategy of encouraging "vaccine hesitancy" is to try to replicate that dynamic, to tank the economy, only this time in a way that works in favor of Republicans.

Encouraging Americans to die so they can win elections. That's how low today's GOP has sunk.

Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of The Hidden History of American Oligarchy and more than 30 other books in print. He is a writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute and his writings are archived at hartmannreport.com.This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.




Here's why America can't have 'nice things'

Some time back a woman living in Sweden, "Caroline" @SweResistance on Twitter, posted a thread that said:

"I live in Sweden. We have social security, affordable health care, strict gun laws, 5 weeks paid annual leave, 1 year maternity leave, etc. And no, we're not a communist country, and not even strictly socialistic but socio-democratic. And our freedom is not inhibited.

"For example, health care can cost a maximum of around $130 per year for visits to health care centrals etc., hospital nights costs $12 per night with a $175 roof per month. Prescription drugs have a yearly roof of $250."

Sweden is a democratic republic that practices an economic system often referred to as "democratic socialism" or "social democracy." Although Karl Marx popularized the word "socialism" in 1848 to describe his proposed utopian economic/political system, outside of the realm of Marxists and rightwing cranks, Marx's system is usually today referred to as "communism" and "socialist" is the modern tag used to describe countries like Sweden.

As such, it's describing an economic system made possible by the political system of democracy. Swedes have what they have because the majority of their population has repeatedly voted for politicians who promised to put democratic socialism into place.

And it's not just Sweden. Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Finland have remarkably similar systems in place, and the rest of the European Union isn't far behind.

Nobody in any of those countries, including the entire EU, will ever, for example, go bankrupt because of medical debt, something that happens to over a million American families every single year.

Nobody who has the ability and wants to go to college or trade school is turned down and, outside of a few private universities, education is not just free or very cheap in most all of Europe but many countries pay a subsidy or monthly stipend to students to cover the cost of rent, food and books.

Swedes and the residents of most of the rest of Europe have voted for democratic socialism because their political system is largely open, voting is not restricted, and wealthy interests find it much harder to corrupt politicians than here in the US.

As the Nordic Council of Ministers notes on their website about, for example, Sweden: "Everyone who is entitled to vote and who is registered in the Population Register in Sweden is automatically included on the electoral roll (röstlängden) and receives a voter card by post."

This is true of all the Nordic countries and most of the rest of Europe: if you're a citizen you're automatically enrolled to vote when you turn 18 and voting is super-easy whether it's done at a polling place or by mail.

Here in America, the majority of people would very much like an economic system like Europeans have, particularly the Scandinavians.

By a 66% to 30% ratio, all Americans told CBS pollsters recently that they'd like a "Government health insurance program for all."

A recent Harris poll asked, "Do you support a proposal that would make public colleges, universities and trade schools free for all and cancel all student debt?" Americans said "Yes" by a 58% to 42% margin.

Europeans enjoy higher wages and radically less income and wealth inequality than Americans for two main reasons:

First, workers in those countries have unionization rates that sometimes approach 90% and most also maintain high minimum wages.

Second, taxes in Europe in general, and Scandinavia in particular, are often above 50% on the morbidly rich and many countries have an added annual wealth tax on the billions those same people have accumulated.

We'd like that here, too.

When the Gallup polling organization asked Americans if they'd like to join a union, six out of ten said, "Yes."

A Reuters/Ipsos poll last year found that fully 64% of all Americans agreed with the statement: "The very rich should contribute an extra share of their total wealth each year to support public programs."

So, if the majority of Americans want Scandinavian/European healthcare, schools, unions, wages and taxes-on-the-rich, why don't we have these things?

Why, instead, do we have the highest childhood and maternal death rates in the developed world, the lowest taxes on the very rich, $1.5 trillion in student debt that's collapsed an entire generation's hopes and dreams, and Jeff Bezos shooting himself into outer space instead of unionizing his workers or paying his damn taxes?

The answer is actually pretty straightforward: "Conservative" billionaires and the Supreme Court they created.

Ever since Lewis Powell wrote his 1971 Memo on how the morbidly rich could seize total political and cultural control of America — and Richard Nixon put him on the Supreme Court the following year — rightwing billionaires have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to get their people on the Supreme Court, elect "conservatives" to Congress and in state legislatures, and influence public opinion.

In 1976, Powell's Supreme Court in Buckley v Valero ruled that when billionaires pour so much money down the throats of individual politicians that they essentially own them, that's not bribery or corruption as we'd thought of it since 1776 — instead, it's First Amendment-protected "free speech." Two years later, in First National Bank v Bellotti 1978, the Court ruled the same was true of corporations, and doubled down on both decisions in 2010 with Citizens United.

By the Reagan Revolution of 1980, the GOP had been entirely subsumed by the money of the morbidly rich and big corporations, and in the 1990s quite a few elected Democrats joined their ranks (and continue to support them by opposing ending the filibuster, for example).

As President Jimmy Carter told me of this post-1980 world he watched come into being:

"[These Supreme Court decisions] violate the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it's just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president. And the same thing applies to governors and U.S. senators and congress members. So now we've just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect and sometimes get favors for themselves after the election's over."

"Conservative," though, doesn't just describe people who want to use their riches to own politicians who will, in turn, keep their taxes low by depriving the American people of the "nice things" we'd mostly all like to have. It also describes racist white supremacists both among the conservative billionaire class and the Republican base.

It was "conservatives" who fought against the abolition of slavery prior to the Civil War, and who fought every attempt at Reconstruction or Civil Rights legislation from 1865 to today. They did so in the name of "conservative principles," which white supremacists have fought to preserve since the founding of our republic.

And one of the main ways they maintain their political power is by using a system unique to America, started after the failure of Reconstruction in 1872, of "selectively registering" voters, "purging voter lists," and putting up barriers to reduce voting by anybody who's not white.

To maintain white supremacy post-1872, most states developed elaborate systems requiring "undesirable" people to jump through multiple hoops to register to vote, and even to ensure their votes are counted and they can stay on the voter rolls. This Jim Crow vestige of Confederate ideology now pollutes our ability to vote in most of our states.

No European country has anything that even vaguely resembles this byzantine labyrinth people must navigate to become eligible to vote and have their vote counted.

While Europeans take voting for granted, we now have police intervening in elections, privatized corporate voting systems, and a massive voter suppression campaign to prevent elderly, young, and non-white Americans from being able to vote.

Meanwhile, as Lee Fang reported, Republican politicians and the billionaires who own them are now dropping any pretense at all to caring about the fate and future of our country's fiscal health, so long as they get their tax cuts now.

Conservative billionaires, who know if we can all vote we'll soon raise their taxes and give ourselves healthcare, education and good pay, are funding voter suppression efforts in every state in the union as well as challenging voting rights at the Supreme Court.

This is also why they fund rightwing TV & radio networks and "news" websites to freak out white people about "Black Lives Matter and Antifa" so the white majority in America will be so terrified of Black and Brown people they'll keep putting corporate- and billionaire-shills into office.

The rightwing justices who conservative billionaires paid tens of millions in "dark money" to put on the Supreme Court through groups like the Federalist Society and the Judicial Crisis Network ruled just last week that it should be easier for billionaires to influence both politicians and elections with secret "dark" money.

Most Democrats in Congress, impeded both by Republicans and a few of their own members who've sold out to these dark-money interests, are trying to break the stranglehold conservative billionaires have on American politics through their dark money.

The For The People Act takes a good first step in this direction, although reshaping the Supreme Court itself is probably going to ultimately be necessary to break dark money's stranglehold on our political system.

If we ever want to have the "nice things" enjoyed by average Scandinavians and Europeans, it's going to take one huge lift to break the filibuster and get legislation like the For The People Act into law.

Modern democracy began in 1789 in America, but "conservatives" have fought a truly multiracial democracy every step of the way, particularly as low-wage workers and racial minorities have struggled to gain equal representation and equal rights.

It's a tragic commentary that countries like Sweden that initially emulated us have now become more "free" than we have…just because rightwing billionaires here have so successfully mobilized racism as a political strategy.

Americans deserve better, and the only thing standing in the way is a group of billionaires who'd rather shoot themselves into outer space than let unions into their workplaces or pay reasonable taxes…and can pay politicians and stack our courts with racist judges to keep it that way.


Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of The Hidden History of American Oligarchy and more than 30 other books in print. He is a writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute and his writings are archived at hartmannreport.com.

This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

New COVID wave could be another Trump-caused massacre

J. R. R. Tolkien wrote, "The burned hand teaches best. After that, advice about fire goes to the heart." It's a painful truth that people in red states, and red counties in blue and purple states, are about to learn.

Here comes Donald Trump's Final Massacre.

While multimillionaire well-vaccinated Fox "News" hosts continue to sow doubt about masks and Covid vaccines to jack up the billions in revenue the channel brings in every year for the Murdoch family, the CEO of a hospital chain in Missouri is begging them to tell the truth.

"The Delta variant is in the Ozarks," tweeted Steve Edwards, CEO of hospital chain Cox Health in Missouri. "We have been interviewed by NPR, CBS News, MSNBC, AP, Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, NYTimes but not @FoxNews."

This is a crisis now for Missouri because the Delta variant of the Covid virus is not only far more contagious than previous strains, but also more deadly. As Heather Hollingsworth writing for the AP notes, vaccination rates are very, very low in that state with one county clocking in at 13% and most counties "well short of 40%."

People in red counties across America are reporting on social media the same thing Louise and I saw when we visited a rural town in Oregon last weekend: nobody's wearing masks or practicing social distancing. They believe rightwing media's lies that Covid's "just like the flu" or "vaccines are experimental" or "it's all a Democrat hoax." They're following Trump's notion that masks make men look "weak."

As a result of this, Eric Frederick, the chief administrative officer of Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Missouri, tells the AP that they have been "inundated with COVID-19 patients as the variant first identified in India rips through the largely non-immunized community."

And it's not just hitting the elderly. "These patients are also younger," Hollingsworth writes, "than earlier in the pandemic — 60% to 65% of those in the ICU over the weekend at Mercy were under 40, according to Frederick, who noted that younger adults are much less likely to be vaccinated — and some are pregnant."

When the Covid virus first showed up in the United States in January of last year, then-president Donald Trump quietly told reporter Bob Woodward that it was both deadly and airborne.

"This is deadly stuff," Trump told Woodward on February 7th, 2020. "You just breathe the air and that's how it's passed And so that's a very tricky one. That's a very delicate one. It's also more deadly than even your strenuous flu."

That's not, of course, what Trump and his lackeys told the American people, as they set up the deaths of over 600,000 Americans with more to come this year. "I wanted to always play it down," Trump told Woodward a month later. "I still like playing it down…"

It's a mantra Trump carried on right through his last weeks in office when he got himself and his wife secretly vaccinated in the White House, and, according to research published by the Brookings Institution, killed at least 400,000 Americans (and sickened millions more) who could have avoided infection if they'd listened to doctors instead of Republicans and rightwing media.

But there was a method to Trump's homicidal madness. He knew what every politician who's ever run for president or studied the history of presidential elections knows: when the economy goes into the tank before an election, the incumbent always loses.

Just ask Herbert Hoover; it was over 20 years until Republican Eisenhower retook the White House, and 60 years after the Republican Great Depression before Republicans regained solid control of the House of Representatives for more than a single congressional cycle.

Trump's strategy to keep the economy on track was straightforward: keep people shopping, working and playing so our production and consumption would keep the economy going throughout the election year. No matter how many people died, especially if they were Black.

After giving in to his science advisors for a few months in March and early April, he went right back to downplaying the virus and discouraging people from even wearing masks.

That turnaround came literally the week after the day, April 7th 2020, when the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and Fox all led their news with the news that Black people were disproportionately dying from Covid relative to white people.

Suddenly rightwing media was all over the idea we must spread the virus far and wide to achieve "herd immunity," a move Trump and his people thought would largely spare Red state white people but decimate the Black community and Blue states as I documented here.

The virus beat Trump, of course; Joe Biden is now president and Democrats took control of the House and Senate, but the echo of that murderous political strategy is still killing Americans.

And with the Delta variant, which kills unvaccinated people of all ages but only rarely causes illness in people who are fully vaccinated, Covid is about to plunge Trump's devotees into a world of hurt.

As Cox Health CEO Edwards pleaded in his tweet: "Fox is the most popular cable news in our area - you can help educate on Delta, vaccines and can save lives @TuckerCarlson."

While Red states generally ignore the threat, Blue states are doing everything they can to get ready for the onslaught of the Delta variant: New York and California are rolling out digital vaccination certificates people can show on their smartphones to get into restaurants and sports/entertainment events.

California Governor Gavin Newsom, knowing which way the political winds are blown by my colleagues on rightwing talk radio and Fox, went out of his way to say they're not passports.

"I want to make this crystal clear before folks run with it," Newsom told the press. "It's become so politicized — almost everything in the state, nation — that there's no mandates, no requirement, no passports in that respect."

But vaccine passports are what will save us, particularly since the Delta variant has already spawned a new variant of its own, Delta Plus, that's "more transmissible, more easily binds to human cells, and is potentially more resistant to antibody therapy" than even the deadly Delta variant itself.

This is why more than half of Americans surveyed want vaccine passports now, as do many business owners. When it's impossible to know if the person sitting next to you on a plane or in a restaurant is vaccinated or a Trump-humper who's trusting in Jesus or hydroxychloraquine, many people are still reluctant to dine out, vacation, or go shopping the way we did before the pandemic.

Which hurts what is now Joe Biden's economy — which is exactly what Republicans want. But they are playing with fire.

Particularly given how deadly the Delta variant is, and how often it can even create "breakthrough infections" in fully vaccinated people when they're heavily exposed to the virus. As Boston's NBC affiliate Channel 10 TV noted in a recent headline, because of the Delta variant "Nearly 4,000 Breakthrough COVID Infections Have Now Been Reported in Mass." (That's a drop in the bucket, and most don't get very sick, but still…)

The original and early variants of the Covid virus required repeated or sustained exposure to become infected; the new Delta Plus variant can apparently be caught by simply walking past an infected person. A single case in an airport limo driver in Australia shows how it works, reports today's The Washington Post:

"Video footage shows the limo driver infecting strangers at a shopping mall and in a cafe through only fleeting contact, which scientists say proves it is possible to catch the virus simply from sharing the same airspace as an infected person."

The Post article adds, "The cluster began last week with an airport limousine driver and has grown to 36 cases…"

As the BBC reported this week:

"India's health ministry says studies showed that the so-called Delta Plus variant — also known as AY.1 — spreads more easily, binds more easily to lung cells and is potentially resistant to monoclonal antibody therapy, a potent intravenous infusion of antibodies to neutralise the virus."

And Delta and Delta Plus are just the June varieties; there are almost certainly more contagious and deadly varieties to come as evolution continues to work its magic on the virus.

The next few months will hopefully become a "Great Awakening" in America relative to the politicized lies that Trump, Fox and rightwing media have been spewing for over a year about the dangers of Covid. And that will lead to a new wave of mask-wearing and vaccinations.

If not, it'll be the "Great Dying" for Trump followers and Fox viewers.

Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of 'The Hidden History of American Oligarchy 'and more than 30 other books in print. He is a writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute and his writings are archived at hartmannreport.com.

This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

One of them has to go: The GOP or America as we know it

Texas is showing us all how the corruption that has overwhelmed the GOP has reached a crisis point, and it's killing people.

President Dwight Eisenhower said, "If a political party does not have its foundation in the determination to advance a cause that is right and that is moral, then it is not a political party; it is merely a conspiracy to seize power."

Sadly, Eisenhower's Republican Party is now there: they haven't governed to protect or help the people at the federal or state level since the Reagan Revolution. Today, instead, they simply engage in a corrupt form of political performance art while stuffing their pockets with corporate money.

Today's example: Greg Abbott.

Corrupt Texas Governor Greg Abbott is the poster child for corrupt Republicans' sellout to the fossil fuel industry. And the consequence of that will almost certainly kill hundreds of Texans this summer. But Abbott really, really doesn't want you to be thinking about that.

His latest scam to divert Texans' attention away from this malfeasance is to proudly declare that Texas is asserting its rights under the 10th Amendment to reject oversight or even advice from the federal government.

Texas, like most red states, takes in more federal dollars then they send to Washington DC; instead of merely calling Governor Abbott "corrupt" it's probably also time to call him a "welfare queen," a phrase much beloved of Republicans, at least when they apply it to Black women.

But the real "welfare" that Abbott and the whole collection of corrupt Texas Republicans have been living off for decades is the cash the fossil fuel industry and the billionaires it has created pour down their throats every year by way of campaign contributions and dark money support.

For example, back in 2014 the good citizens of Denton County Texas, sick of air and water pollution from fracking, passed a ballot initiative banning it in their county by over 60%.

Texas' sold-out Republicans immediately responded with House Bill 40, which Governor Abbott enthusiastically signed, that "gives the state exclusive jurisdiction over oil and gas operations and prohibits local municipalities from creating ordinances that ban, limit, or regulate oil and gas operations…"

That's the Texas Republicans' motto: "Screw the people; we just do what's necessary to help out the fossil fuel billionaires who own us."

Back in 1999, then-Governor George W. Bush, himself of fossil-fuel multimillionaire, separated almost all of the Texas power grid from those of neighboring states to avoid federal oversight. He put the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) in charge of the largely then-privatized grid.

Bush called it, "The nation's most extensive experiment in electrical deregulation."

It turned out to be an extraordinary expensive and deadly experiment, one that burdens Texas to this day.

As The Wall Street Journal noted a few months ago: "Those deregulated Texas residential consumers paid $28 billion more for their power since 2004 than they would have paid at the rates charged to the customers of the state's traditional utilities, according to the Journal's analysis of data from the federal Energy Information Administration."

That money, of course, went mostly into the pockets of wealthy investors, power company CEOs, and filled the campaign coffers of Texas Republican politicians. It certainly didn't do much to reinforce or make the state's power generation systems or distribution grid more robust.

The result was that this past winter when climate change sent a massive cold wave down into Texas, an estimated 800 people died and the state suffered billions in property damage.

Individual Texans and small businesses are now picking up the lion's share of that tab, of course. It's the Republican way, after all: privatize profits, spread them amongst corrupt Republican politicians, and stick the public with the costs.

Now NOAA is forecasting one of the hottest and driest summers in the history of Texas because of the climate crisis, and already, with temperatures this week only in the 80s and 90s, ERCOT and Abbott have had to ask Texans to keep their air conditioners set above 78 to keep the grid from failing.

Abbott — with much pomp and ceremony — issued an executive order banning private and public entities from requiring masks to protect against a deadly pandemic, but he sure seems fine telling people they can't enjoy their air-conditioning so he can keep the fossil-fuel money flowing into Texas' awesomely corrupt Republican Party.

The prospect of enduring brutal heat and facing the probability of massive power blackouts throughout the summer is not endearing Abbott and his Republican cronies to average Texan voters. As a result, Abbott has come up with a flurry of activity to make it look like he's actually doing something.

As mentioned, he just declared the state "sovereign" under the 10th amendment, as if that were a thing. When he announced it on Twitter, he was buried in ridicule and questions from Texans about what this has to do with making sure their lights don't go out this summer.

Burrowing deeper and deeper into the warm embrace of fossil fuel billionaires, the Texas legislature just passed SB 13, which "would require the State of Texas and its entities (including state pension funds and the state's huge K-12 school endowment) to cut ties with companies that refuse to invest in fossil fuels."

That's right. If your company wants to do business with the state of Texas, or have them invest in your company's stocks or bonds, you damn well better make sure that you're throwing money at the fossil fuel industry or at least own a huge pile of their stock.

As Indivisible Texas notes: "SB 13 creates an intricate system of lists, reports, and oversight of companies that prefer not to transact with fossil fuel companies for whatever reason. This bill actually treats business interactions with certain business sectors in the state as it does enemies of the United States!"

Corruption like this is not a joke; it's already cost Texas ratepayers $28 billion and 800 lives, and more is on the way. And the Texas Republican politicians' response is just to make it harder for Texans to vote.

In state after state, Americans are seeing how the GOP has transformed itself from a legitimate political party into an arm of giant corporations and the billionaires they have created, all while rigging the system to keep themselves in office.

In some states the GOP is mostly dancing with the fossil fuel industry that's destroying our climate and poisoning us; in others it's the health insurance or big drug industries they're helping to bankrupt and addict Americans, or the student or payday loan industries that are destroying the American Dream.

The gun industry is making billions while America experiences daily mass shootings that Republicans refuse to do anything about.

In their wake every year are over 30,000 gun deaths, 500,000 bankruptcies because somebody in the family got sick, young people who can't escape debt for decades if ever, and a landscape littered with destroyed lives and suicides.

None of these things are happening in any other developed nation. But no other developed nation has a major political party that has become a serial killer of its nation's people and governs like the Mafia.

The GOP has become, as Eisenhower warned, "merely a conspiracy to seize power." And the tragic result is a weakened, potholed, polluted and impoverished America.

If the party can't reform itself, it needs to go the way of the Whigs and be put out of its misery. The American people — even voters who consider themselves Republicans — deserve better.


Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of The Hidden History of American Oligarchy and more than 30 other books in print. He is a writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute and his writings are archived at hartmannreport.com.

This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

The deplorable reason Fox News is ranting about people 'trying to take down the white culture'

I'm struggling to explain why a Fox News host would say to the American people, "they're trying to take down the white culture!"

But first, let me back up.

Democracies don't turn into fascist oligarchies by being invaded or losing wars. It always happens from within, and is always driven by an alliance between demagogic, populist politicians and some of the very wealthiest people in society.

Step one for these right wing politicians and the morbidly rich who support them is to pit one group of people within the nation against others: Marginalize and demonize minorities, deny them access to the levers of democratic power while openly attacking them for trying to usurp the privileges and prerequisites of the majority.

It's played out this way in every democratic country that has fallen to tyranny. It's how it happened in the 1930s in Italy, Germany, Japan and Spain, and today in Hungary, Poland, Egypt, Russia, The Philippines, and Turkey, among others.

And now Republicans and the oligarchs aligned with them are trying to pull it off here in the United States.

As German industrialist Fritz Thyssen writes in his apologetic book I Paid Hitler, he pressured German President von Hindenburg to appoint Hitler as chancellor, and then lobbied the Association of German Industrialists, that country's and era's version of the US Chamber of Commerce, to donate 3 million Reichsmarks to the Nazi Party for the 1933 election. It brought Hitler to power.

Hitler's sales pitch to the German people was that Jews and socialists had "stabbed Germany in the back" by secretly participating in negotiations for the Treaty of Versailles ending World War I. The Treaty imposed punitive conditions on the country, producing widespread poverty and an economic crisis.

Hitler blamed that crisis on German minorities and Germany's second largest political party, and the German people believed him. Once the Nazis took power, they changed election laws in such a way that they would never again lose.

Republicans and rightwing billionaires, of course, are trying to do the same thing right now in America.

Standing against them is the Democratic Party, although the Fritz Thyssens of today's America, billionaire members of the Koch network, are doing everything they can to prevent Democrats from ensuring fair and honest elections in 2022 and 2024 by buying off Joe Manchin and others.

Those Republican voter suppression and voter nullification laws being passed by state after state are essential to their final take-down of the Democratic Party.

Meanwhile, the billionaire Murdoch family's Fox News is working as hard as it can to make Black people and Democrats 2021's version of Hitler's 1933 Jews and Socialists.

Their top-rated morning show, Fox & Friends, wandered into a discussion Wednesday about white people being "marginalized" by the possibility of our public schools teaching the actual racial history of America.

"[T]hey are not only trying to raise up minorities and make sure the playing field is even," Brian Kilmeade said, "they're trying to take down the white culture!"

Kilmeade, in full rant mode, went on, "Why are we being marginalized on a daily basis…? And it's not even subtle! It's actually out there! It is written in black-and-white!"

This is not America's first brush with oligarchic fascism, as I lay out in my newest book, The Hidden History of American Oligarchy. President Franklin Roosevelt and Vice President Henry Wallace struggled with it in the 1940s with Charles Lindberg's America First movement.

In early 1944, the New York Times asked Vice President Henry Wallace to, as Wallace noted, "write a piece answering the following questions: What is a fascist? How many fascists have we? How dangerous are they?"

Vice President Wallace's answer to those questions was published in The New York Times on April 9, 1944, at the height of the war against the Axis powers of Germany and Japan.

"The really dangerous American fascists," Wallace wrote, "are not those who are hooked up directly or indirectly with the Axis. The FBI has its finger on those. The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way."

As if he had a time machine and could see the "conservative" media landscape today, Wallace continued, "The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power."

History is screaming warnings at us. Will America listen?


Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of The Hidden History of American Oligarchy and more than 30 other books in print. He is a writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute and his writings are archived at hartmannreport.com.

This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Is the rise of QAnon conspiracies the 'end times' for US democracy?

There are people in this world who don't like —and even hate — democracy. They're on the move against it, particularly here in America, and the Qanon religion/cult is the glue that's bringing them all together.

One group doesn't like democracy because they don't trust the "ignorant masses" and the "rabble" to choose leaders who can make decisions for an entire country. They're the "Philosopher" opposers of democracy.

They're well-represented in America by a large handful of rightwing billionaires and their "libertarian" think-tanks and front groups working against, for example, HR1/SB1 For The People Act.

Some hate democracy because they're members of the "faction" class that James Madison warned us about in Federalist #10; the special interests. They're the "Thieving Scoundrel" opposers of democracy.

These would be the giant businesses (and the billionaires they produce) that want to keep their profits high by poisoning our air, water and food; running giant monopolies to stomp out small businesses; or otherwise rip off America and Americans…and don't want "we the people" to be able to protect ourselves through government regulation.

And some hate democracy because they're running undemocratic, authoritarian governments outside the US, and if they can destroy democracy in America it'll take a lot of pressure off of them. They're the "Foreign Enemies" of democracy.

All three of these groups have found common cause in a collective takeover of the Republican Party and the embrace of Qanon. And, ironically, they all claim to be "defending democracy" in the process.

Voltaire wrote, "[W]hoever can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities."

That was just the first part of the quote; he was speaking specifically of the many absurdities embraced by our various religions. Which now includes Qanon, a pseudo-religion apparently started by an American pig farmer who lives in The Philippines.

It's burrowed so deeply into the bloodstream of conventional American religion that the former president of the Southern Baptist Convention worried out loud on CNN that it's replacing churches as parishioner's primary religion. "[P]astors only have access to people maybe an hour or three hours a day, that's nothing compares to 24 hours a day from Facebook," he told Erin Burnett.

While much of white evangelical Christianity has long tilted Republican, QAnon is not just Republican but anti-democracy, anti-American, pro-oligarch Republican. The Michael Flynn variety of Republican.

One in six Americans, according to a recent PRRI survey, today "believes" in the Qanon conspiracy, including the part about Democrats drinking the blood of children. Given that about a third of Americans are Republicans, and virtually all of those believers identify as Republicans, that suggests that between a third and half of all Republican voters have bought into this new secular religion/cult.

And elected Republicans are, almost to a person, either supportive of this new religion or silent on the issue.

As Voltaire said in the rest of his quote, "If the God-given understanding of your mind does not resist a demand to believe what is impossible, then you will not resist a demand to do wrong to that God-given sense of justice in your heart. As soon as one faculty of your soul has been dominated, other faculties will follow as well. And from this derives all those crimes of religion which have overrun the world."

While religion generally has achieved an uneasy truce with democracy, the three groups mentioned earlier who openly hate and regularly work to destroy democracy have found QAnon and the general gullibility it creates in its "believers" to be extraordinarily useful.

The "Philosophers," "Thieving Scoundrels" and "Foreign Enemies" who collectively want to bring down democracy around the world are actively promoting the various parts of the Qanon religion that each finds most useful.

The "Philosophers" use it to promote doubt about the accuracy and fairness of elections and the democratic process.

The "Thieving Scoundrels" use it to portray government efforts to reduce inequality and poverty, protect citizens from a deadly pandemic, and regulate the activity of toxic, planet-destroying industries as if they were all parts of an "evil conspiracy."

And the "Foreign Enemies" are popping up all over social media and the internet, portraying themselves as "average people" while doing everything they can to use this new religion to stir hatred and division among Americans.

Because if democracy can be taken down in America, the oligarchs and autocrats of the world will find it much easier to bring down elsewhere.

They're already working as hard as they can to bring authoritarian/oligarchic governance to Europe, having established beachheads in Sweden, France, Germany and England and completely taken over Turkey, Hungary and Poland.

Democracy is a fragile flame. While it burned brightly in indigenous societies for over 100,000 years, since the agricultural revolution it has only appeared a few times among what we referred to as "civilized" or "advanced" societies.

It first popped up in Greece about 3000 years ago, then in Rome around 2000 years ago; both times it failed in a few generations. It then made its appearance here in North America about 240 years ago, and now has spread to roughly half of all nations, about a fifth of the population of the world.

From the Republican Party's efforts to rig future elections to General Michael Flynn calling for the violent overthrow of the American government to billionaire-owned or -subsidized media operations openly supporting oligarchy and ridiculing efforts to make a more pluralistic, egalitarian society, the forces that seek to destroy democracy are on the move.

The "Philosophers," "Theiving Scoundrels" and "Foreign Enemies" are having their collective moment.

Qanon believers are now convinced that Donald Trump will return to his throne in the White House this August. Many have sworn to do everything they can to bring that about, making anything from another January 6th to mass murder like Tim McVeigh did possible.

As that recent PRRI poll found, about 1/6th of Americans agree with the statement that "the government, media, and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation." The New York Times headline reads: QAnon Now as Popular in U.S. as Some Major Religions.

They believe absurdities, and are prepared to commit atrocities. Democracy in America — and around the world — hangs by a thread.


Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of The Hidden History of American Oligarchy and more than 30 other books in print. He is a writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute and his writings are archived at hartmannreport.com.

This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

America's cops are having their Harvey Weinstein moment

Sometimes cultural change takes generations or even centuries; sometimes it happens in the seeming blink of the eye. America's bad cops — and their enablers — are having their Harvey Weinstein moment.

Harvey was a big shot in Hollywood for decades when it was not uncommon for powerful men to help make women into stars in exchange for sex. It was so common that in a Cagney and Lacey TV show from the 1980s one of the characters openly asks the other if a particularly ditzy "movie star" character in that episode of the show "slept with the producer" to get the part.

As Larry Getlin wrote in a review of a new book about Lucille Ball ("I Love Lucy"):

She eventually found work as a model, and as she sought acting roles, received advice from Lela Rogers — mother of her good friend Ginger Rogers — that she would later follow.

"If you want to be a star within two years, get auditioned on the casting couch," Lela told her. "That's the advice I gave my own daughter."

The "casting couch" was legendary, and predatory men were almost never held to account. As Weinstein's lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, (unsuccessfully) argued, "The casting couch in Hollywood was not invented by Harvey Weinstein. … If a woman decides that she needs to have sex with a Hollywood producer to advance her career and actually does it and finds the whole thing offensive, that's not rape."

But culture had changed, and "normal behavior" in the industry was, through the actions of a few brave women, redefined.

As Weinstein's Hollywood story unraveled, women in other fields and other parts of the country came forward to say "me, too!" and America discovered this kind of abuse wasn't restricted to movie-land. It was also happening on TV shows, across television networks, and even in public broadcasting. It was happening in pretty much every kind of major company across America, and often went from transactional sex to rape in moments.

It took half a decade and a number of well-researched exposés, but it appears Hollywood largely no longer tolerates such things, and the same is true increasingly across our corporate landscape.

And that was just phase 1.

Now, in phase 2, people who knew what was going on but had no direct involvement other than failing to alert anybody are being held to account, as well. Executives and managers who were in a position to know about and stop the "casting couch" and its equivalent in other industries but did nothing are now losing their jobs and even being sued.

America, having experienced this extraordinarily rapid transformation in business culture is now, it appears, on the verge of a similarly deep, meaningful and rapid transition in police culture.

Police have been getting away with killing the poor, the powerless and the non-white — and with raping and otherwise abusing women — in this country since it's inception. Just like wealthy, powerful men had been getting away with forcing themselves on women wanting to get or hold employment.

And it's not just American police: in El Salvador they've pulled eight bodies out of graves in the backyard of a Salvadoran police officer just in the past week and the country is furious. When you give someone deadly weapons and a legal license to use them largely at their own discretion, the temptation is often too great, particularly for the type of person drawn to authoritarian-type positions like police work.

The murder by police of George Floyd didn't just trigger the largest protest demonstration in the history of the United States; it is resonating all over the world.

In much the same way women are sick and tired of being mistreated by men, much of humanity appears to have reached the absolute limit of their tolerance for being abused by police.

When movements like #MeToo! and #BadCops go international, you know culture is changing in a way that won't fall back to its old standards.

Here in America, we're learning of a 2-year coverup of murderous Louisiana cops by their supervisors (and trying to learn how high up the chain of command it goes); the cops beat, Tased, hogtied with chains and brutally dragged Ronald Greene to death, all while joking about how much blood he was getting on their clothes.

Yesterday's story was about an off-duty Texas cop who shot a Black woman who'd simply made a U-Turn that got in his way and pissed him off; we're hit with almost daily stories of police shooting Black people just because they can and they believe, based on centuries of experience, that they can always get away with it.

As the evil reality of a presumed minority of cops who regularly get away with rape, beatings and murder — and the horrible reality that the vast majority of cops ignore or cover up such crimes for their "thin blue line" colleagues — is sinking into the white American psyche (this is no secret for Black people), pro-American legislators are trying to get the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act passed out of the Senate.

It will even provide for "Phase 2" — not just holding individual cops accountable, but also adding significant civilian oversight to hold management to account, too.

And reform is absolutely needed, particularly civilian oversight. The Founders put a civilian in charge of the military for the very simple reason that military-style organizations tend to become internally culturally insular and powerful factions themselves. Thus, the Secretary of Defense must be a civilian, as well as the President above the SecDef.

For the same reason, police must be ultimately responsible to civilian oversight.

Similarly, while even presidents can frustrate legal processes as Bill Clinton tried to do getting out of a deposition about Monica Lewinsky, and Donald Trump has temporarily pulled off so far by simply defying Congress and the courts, they must ultimately never be able to avoid accountability. No person in America is above the law.

This was the point George Washington made in his farewell address:

The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government.

Republican senators — apparently fans of cops terrorizing women, Black people and other minorities (they don't want them voting, anyway!) — continue to block the legislation and oppose real accountability for America's cops. But, long-term, they may as well be trying to stop water from flowing downhill.

Culture has changed. It'll take a while for law and justice to catch up with it — and it'll take longer in Red states than Blue — but it's unlikely things will ever go back to how they were.

The generation coming up now is not going to let this moment pass like previous generations were forced to do by the powers-that-be after horrors like the brutal murder of Emmett Till, the beating of Rodney King or the murder of Eric Garner.

The casting couch is largely now a relic of the past. If we all join forces and push hard, calling our senators (the Capitol switchboard is 202-224-3121) and otherwise working for change, soon the same could be true of murderous, corrupt and unaccountable cops.


Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of The Hidden History of American Oligarchy and more than 30 other books in print. He is a writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute and his writings are archived at hartmannreport.com.

This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Life will dramatically change under brutal American oligarchy

Want some racism, sexism, misogyny, blunt and angry nationalism, and good-old-fashioned corruption with your government?

We just had an example during the four years of the Trump presidency of how this could change everyday life in America, and the election to leadership of Trump acolyte Elise Stefanik shows how many in the Republican Party want to institutionalize it. It's important to understand what it really means.

A lot of names have been bandied around to describe the form of government Donald Trump tried to impose on us during his administration. "Fascism" was used commonly, as were words like "little dictator," and "cult of personality."

But really what Donald Trump was proposing and trying to institute is a fairly common form of government, a variation of authoritarianism called oligarchy.

We are seeing it played out around the world in governments controlled by rich elites and run by authoritarians like Duterte, Bolsonaro, Netanyahu, Erdowan, Putin, Orban, Modi, and Duda.

They seem like they are increasingly becoming one-man-rule governments, but authoritarianism is just the midpoint after oligarchs begin corrupting democratic governments that have not yet become full-blown fascist oligarchies.

Because they are rarely stable, these midpoint authoritarian governments usually are grown in, and rise up to seize control of democracies, as has happened several times in the Philippines, for example, where the biggest businesses are inextricably intertwined with the state, corruption is rampant, and the media, the courts and the legislature are all essentially under the control of the billionaire or oligarchic class.

Oligarchy is when the very rich rule a country largely for their own benefit. They typically bring along a charismatic but compliant leader at the top (often an oligarch himself, and if he doesn't start out that way he certainly ends that way), and are supported at the bottom by "authoritarian followers" who feel insecure about their personal and economic prospects and want a "big daddy" who will soothe their anxieties, affirm their victimhood and outrage, and help them sleep at night.

Oligarchy is always the result of very wealthy people corrupting the political process, something the Founders thought they could control in America but that political philosopher Robert Michaels, with his "Iron Law of Oligarchy" in 1911, proposed was the inevitable result of every democracy that didn't maintain strong guardrails to prevent the rich from rising up and corrupting the political process.

This corruption of politics is exactly what has happened in the United States since the late 1970s when the Supreme Court ruled (in their Buckley and Bellotti decisions in 1976/1978) that billionaires and corporations owning politicians was merely "First Amendment-protected free speech." It brought us the Reagan Revolution.

They doubled down on this in 2010 with their Citizens United ruling, saying that if government prevented billionaires and giant corporations from overwhelming elections with their money and advertising, we were not just inhibiting their free speech.

The conservative justices on the Court invented a bizarre new doctrine to justify Citizens United, saying that average people were being disadvantaged when billionaires and corporations couldn't pour unlimited money into the political process because if they were stifled we'd lose our "right to hear" from some of the most "important" and "well-informed" players in the economic and political game.

This "right to hear" is now, in our political process, the Supreme Court-created foundation of oligarchic control over the Republican Party, diminishing parts of the Democratic Party, and, increasingly, over what we refer to as "Red States."

Authoritarian movements, as the Republican Party has recently become, typically have a few predictable hallmarks. They include:

  • Crushing the rights of women while glorifying a "macho" ethic and aesthetic
  • Crony capitalism, making a few rich and screwing everybody else
  • Crushing union efforts and any sort of demands by workers for fair pay or treatment
  • The legalization and widespread promulgation of the surveillance state while political elites routinely get away with crimes that would have put average people into prison for years
  • Repression of religious minorities and weaponization of religion as an agent of state power
  • The marginalization and demonization of minorities, particularly racial and gender-based minorities
  • The suppression — typically starting with the demonization — of the press; in later stages, outright murder of members of the press
  • Selective enforcement of laws so that individuals never know when they will become the target of state violence (example: how America polices Black people)
  • Seizure of the courts so that selectively enforced laws and regulations are used to maintain the power of the oligarchs and assuage the insecurities of their followers
  • A huge gap between the rich and poor (often accompanied by an explosion of homelessness), maintained and used by the oligarch class to provide victims their followers can feel superior to
  • Civilian paramilitaries who terrorize both the populace and the political opposition (Liz Cheney just said some of her peers refused to vote to impeach Trump because they feared for their lives)
  • The racialization of powerlessness and poverty
  • A brutal "grassroots" response to those who object to selective poverty, typically leading to the marginalization or even outright assassination of movement leaders (like Dr. Martin Luther King)
  • A false form of nationalism that glorifies a mythical past, explicitly covers up past crimes and failings, and positions the now-oligarch-controlled country as the pinnacle of political evolution
  • The corruption of the political process, so that the agents of the oligarchs can ultimately decide who gets to vote and who doesn't, and which votes get counted and which don't

Countries typically begin the transition from democracy into oligarchy and sometimes even outright fascism when the oligarchs seize control of a large part of the political process, typically a major political party.

This has happened in the United States over the past 40 years under the rubric of the Reagan Revolution. The Republican Party is now entirely controlled by the oligarch class, who also have functional control over as many as half of the individual members of the Democratic Party.

Slowing down or even reversing America's slide into oligarchy will require a number of things the Biden administration has put forward.

We must show that democratic government can actually still work, reducing the demand for a strongman "savior" like we saw with Trump, and the passage of the expansive American Rescue Plan was a good start.

If Biden can get both his American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan enacted, rebuilding our physical, human and intellectual infrastructure, it will take a lot of wind out of the sails of the authoritarian movement in this country.

By proposing HR1, the For The People Act, the Democratic Party has chosen to explicitly repudiate oligarchy as a form of government. It requires transparency from "big money" and meaningfully reduces its influence, as well as ending minority-rule schemes like gerrymandering while establishing baseline minimum standards for elections in America.

By holding democracy high as a primary value, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act guarantees and expands democracy itself in America, which can rapidly and effectively kneecap oligarchy.

The success or failure of these initiatives — all fiercely opposed by the GOP and the oligarchs who own that Party — will determine whether America again embraces democracy, or picks back up on Donald Trump's nearly-successful move to push America into a full-blown fascistic form of oligarchy.

The stakes are higher than they've been since the 1860s and the 1930s; this may be our last chance to rescue democracy in this country.

The GOP's extraordinarily dark plot to win elections

Authoritarian Trump followers within the GOP are actively promoting death and disease among Americans to win elections. The brutality and cynicism is breathtaking.

As we saw yesterday, Rand Paul and several of his Republican colleagues in the Senate, grilling Dr. Fauci, did their best to advance one of the GOP's two major 2022/2024 election strategies.

The first of those strategies, of course, is to replace actual election officials with Republican hacks so they can throw out the votes they don't like and simply decide elections on their own. That strategy also includes suppressing the vote and stopping people from voting, as GOP Governor Ducey did yesterday, throwing 140,000 voters (including 30,000 Latinos) off the rolls.

As I wrote yesterday, they've passed those laws in several states now and are proposing them in nearly every state in the union, and the only defense American democracy has against them is the For The People Act, which hinges on changing or ending the filibuster.

But the second, and most evil part of their strategy — at least in the context of their total disregard for human life — has to do with the coronavirus.

Their logic goes something like this:

1. Convince enough Americans not to get vaccinated that the country never reaches herd immunity and President Joe Biden therefore cannot get the virus crisis under control.

2. The failure of Biden to control the virus will mean, like what happened to Trump, that the economy will not get back to full functioning, either.

3. As any first-year Political Science student can tell you, the biggest single variable in most elections, particularly federal elections, is the economy. If Republicans can keep the economy off-balance by keeping the virus circulating, they'll have a much better chance of winning elections in 2022 and particularly in the presidential race in 2024. And if they can use uncertainty about when the coronavirus crisis may end here to crash the stock market, that gets them double bonus points!

This strategy, aggressively supported by right-wing media, requires creating doubt about the virus generally and the vaccines in particular. It's why about half the Republicans in Congress refuse to say whether they've been vaccinated or not, and why Trump and his wife took their shots in secret before they left the White House.

Tucker Carlson has been "asking questions" about people who died after getting vaccinated, as if the vaccines had anything to do with their deaths (it didn't), echoing similar lies told by America's dumbest senator, Wisconsin's Ron Johnson.

Right-wingers and conspiracy nuts on radio and across the Internet, and bots and trolls from multiple foreign countries filling thousands of Facebook groups, are coming right out and warning people against getting vaccinated.

Their freak-outs include everything from the theory that Bill Gates is putting tracking chips in the vaccines so he can know where you are (presumably these people don't know about cell phones?) to suggestions that mRNA vaccines "alter your DNA" (they don't) and could turn us into zombies, mutants, or even make us all liberals.

In yesterday's hearing, more than one Republican senator tried to produce a clip worthy of getting themselves on Fox News by suggesting that people who have had the coronavirus don't need to get vaccinated because they are "already immune."

Fauci has already shot that one down; people who had the "wild" variety of coronavirus earlier in the year can still get just as sick or even die from the South African variant, which is spreading across the United States right now, and because the Indian variant contains some of the same mutations presumably it can also infect and kill people who have already had the "wild" first-generation coronavirus.

The vaccines, however, actually produce an immunity to all of these variants that's stronger than the natural immunity of having had coronavirus in its original form. None of that actual science, however, mattered to the Republicans speaking yesterday.

Rand Paul, for his part, tried his best to promote the idea that somehow Fauci was in on an evil plot years ago to send money to China to develop a weaponized coronavirus that they would then unleash on the world like, you know, a year ago.

It's a classic example of how a grain of truth can be turned into a sand castle of lies.

It's true that governments, including China and the United States, have been engaged in biological warfare experiments for decades, which includes weaponizing viruses. When anthrax (a bacterium) was mailed to leading Democrats and news media after 9/11 just in time to promote passage of the PATRIOT Act, it was traced back to a US weapons lab, for example.

What's not true, however, and what Rand Paul was trying to get people to believe is that labs doing basic virology research, including the lab in Wuhan, are not only involved in this kind of research but are intentionally responsible for the pandemic.

There's a remote possibility that some part of his hypothesis is correct — the part about the Covid virus escaping from the lab in Wuhan — but nobody knows for sure at this point in time and it's considered extremely unlikely by most credible sources. Even if true, though, it has nothing to do with Paul's questioning.

Because that wasn't the point he was trying to make: what Rand Paul was trying to do is discredit Dr. Anthony Fauci and the entire public health team surrounding President Biden, so Americans will not believe what they say and therefore won't get vaccinated.

Which takes us back to the second of the two Republican election strategies: keep the virus circulating in America; thus keeping the US economy in chaos; then run ads complaining about the "bad Democrat economy" and use that to win elections in 2022 and 2024.

The raw brutality of this election strategy is extraordinary.

The number of new coronavirus infections in the United States has now dropped below 30,000 a day, and the number of deaths is consistently well below the 400-a-day mark. This is a huge contrast to the time when Donald Trump was pushing people back into the workplace to get re-elected and we were seeing hundreds of thousands of people infected and thousands dying every day.

No matter how hard Rand Paul and his Republican colleagues try, enough of us are vaccinated now that they won't get America back to those kinds of terrible numbers. But they think they can get the numbers to stay high enough that the economy will remain in crisis and Republicans can use it as a wedge issue.

And they don't care how many Americans die to get them there.


Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of The Hidden History of American Oligarchy and more than 30 other books in print. He is a writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute and his writings are archived at hartmannreport.com.

This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Mitch McConnell is about to destroy the GOP

Nobody's asking, "Why?"

Just like he did with the Covid rescue bill a few months ago, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell just said that there will not be one single Republican vote in support of President Joe Biden's infrastructure plan.

Why would McConnell do this?

Why would he give away any bargaining leverage the GOP might have?

Why would he essentially encourage Democrats to make the legislation as expansive, effective and popular as possible? And then let them get all the credit for it?

After all, now that the Democrats know there's no possibility of any Republican votes, there's no need for them to negotiate with any GOP senators. There's no need for Democrats to worry about their Republican colleagues' feelings, thoughts, concerns or even ask their opinions.

That simple reality has been noted by a number of commentators.

But nobody is asking the bigger question: "Why would a professional, lifelong politician and master tactician like Mitch McConnell make such a huge mistake?"

I believe the answer is that McConnell does not think he's making a mistake. He thinks he's right. He thinks he's going to win.

I believe he has completely deluded himself. He has bought his own BS. And it won't be the first time senior Republican leadership has done this and then destroyed the GOP in the process.

This is a guy, after all, who spent decades proclaiming Reaganomics and supply-side economics.

He's probably asserted a thousand times that when taxes on rich people are cut and government spending goes down, good things will happen to the American economy. He's repeatedly assured his voters that when unions are destroyed the working class prospers.

He's embraced and endorsed 40 years of de-funding and ignoring America's infrastructure, even to the point of frustrating Trump's own infrastructure plan attempts. Over and over again, when proposed by Clinton and Obama, McConnell has suggested that rebuilding our country at the expense of taxing rich people would create an economic disaster.

For most Americans, forty years of experience with these theories that McConnell's been promoting have proven that they're largely crackpot BS. They're fantasies sold to the American public by billionaires and the think-tanks they fund, amplified by right-wing radio and media, to keep the billionaire's taxes down, their companies deregulated and unions out of their workplaces.

But they've been sold so aggressively — from the efforts in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s by people like Hayek, von Misis and Milton Friedman, to Ronald Reagan and the institutional Republican party from 1980 to this day — that many Republicans actually do believe them.

Particularly multimillionaires — who hang out with billionaires — like McConnell.

And McConnell's is not alone in this belief, even among significant Republican figures.

I regularly invite conservatives on my radio/TV program to defend propositions like those above, and there are several who I've come to know personally, and I know for a fact, that they actually believe these things.

Reaganomics hasn't worked out, they say, because it hasn't really been tried.

There's been too much government spending clouding things. Taxes have never really been low enough. There's never been a true libertarian experiment in America.

If we want to see if these theories actually work, they say, first we have to do away with Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, food stamps, public schools, public health departments and the whole plethora of government-supported institutions. Those things, they say, have so muddled up and distorted our economic systems that partial measures like partial deregulation and occasional tax cuts promoted by Republicans over the last 40 years haven't had the success that they could have had in a "pure free-market economy."

These people, who I know personally, are not saying what they're saying because their paychecks depend upon it (although that is true of a few others that I know and have met in the media). They're saying it because they believe it.

They studied it in college from Econ professors whose chairs were funded by right-wing billionaires and conservative foundations. They've read it over and over again in conservative books and magazines, and on conservative websites. They've been hearing it preached from the highest towers of conservatism their entire lives.

If Mitch McConnell is at all like them, he believes it's true, too. He believes that rebuilding America using tax dollars from people earning over $400,000 a year will produce a disaster. He's internalized that message.

Another clue that Mitch McConnell and many of his Republican colleagues actually believe this stuff was revealed at last weekend's Utah Republican party meeting, where Mitt Romney was booed.

It's another sign that the ideology has taken deep hold and spread in the party. It's become more important than the good of the party itself, as happened in 1964.

If Mitch McConnell is a true believer, he may well be in the "true believer mold" of Barry Goldwater.

If so, this is the second time this has happened in the Republican party in my lifetime. And it may presage the exact same kind of disaster that Barry Goldwater brought down upon the party in 1964.

I was only 13 at the time, but I remember watching the 1964 Republican convention with my dad when Nelson Rockefeller got up and gave a speech calling for moderation, compromise and a commitment to do what was best for the nation.

Referring to Goldwater and the right-wing true-believers who followed him, much like Mitt Romney referred to Trump and MAGAs, Rockefeller said, "These extremists feed off fear, hate and terror. They encourage disunity." He was booed off the stage, as you can see in this short clip.


Nelson Rockefeller denounces Republican "extremists" at the 1964 Republican National Convention youtu.be


Then Barry Goldwater stepped up to the microphone and loudly proclaimed:

"I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!!"


He brought down the house. The standing ovation lasted for minutes. They really believed him.

Prior to Goldwater's 1964 candidacy, the Republican party of Dwight Eisenhower had been a pretty moderate place (including VP Nixon's 1960 race against JFK).

Eisenhower advocated unionization and bragged about how many new union members had joined during his presidency. In 1956, when he ran for reelection, he highlighted how he'd helped increase the number of people on Social Security.

In his farewell address he prayed — literally prayed (14:55 on the recording) — for world peace, in the same speech he used to warn us about the Military-Industrial Complex.


Eisenhower Farewell Address (Best Quality) - 'Military Industrial Complex' WARNING youtu.be


But then the True Believers took over the GOP — to this day.

Goldwater went on to lose to LBJ in a massive landslide, and McConnell may well be leading his own party in a very similar direction.

Goldwater believed what he was saying. I've read both his autobiographies and there's no doubt in my mind.

I can't say that I am as much of a student of Mitch McConnell as I was of Barry Goldwater back in 1964 when, along with my dad, I went door to door for him in that presidential campaign.

But the first possible and most rational explanation for Mitch McConnell openly stating in advance that there will not be a single Republican vote for Biden's plan is that McConnell thinks if Biden's plan passes it will create a disaster.

He thinks that inflation will spike, the national debt will lead to some terrible national default, and/or the stock market along with the entire economy will go in the tank.

After all, that's what he's been preaching for 40 years. How hard is it to imagine that he's come to believe his own sales pitch?

Sadly, for Mitch, all the empirical evidence indicates that his belief is just as misplaced as were Goldwater's fears of communists in the State Department and the viability of using nuclear weapons in Vietnam.

The Republican party tried a very similar shtick back in 1920, when Warren Harding was elected President on a platform of dropping the 91% top tax rate down to 25%, deregulating industry and privatizing most government functions. He won that election, and kept those promises.

It led to the "Roaring Twenties" — a time when the very rich got very much richer and working people got screwed — and then straight to the stock market crash of 1929 and what was called for a generation the "Republican Great Depression."

Perhaps McConnell doesn't know the history. Perhaps he thinks that era was an anomaly, or an incomplete experiment, or there were other factors that caused the crash.

Or, if you've read this far, there's one other possibility worth considering. Perhaps McConnell's trying to implode the party to purge it of Trump.

It's pretty far out, but maybe he's letting folks trash Romney and Cheney and the rational few left in the party so it'll fall so low in the 2022 election that Trump will be discredited and purged from the party himself.

That possibility, though, is a stretch. It still appears that the only reasonable explanation for Mitch McConnell refusing in advance to go along with anything Biden is proposing that might help America is that he truly believes that, at the end of the day, Biden's plans will be a disaster and he wants to have no part of them.

He's wrong, but — in either case — he's certainly not lacking in conviction.


Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of The Hidden History of American Oligarchy and more than 30 other books in print. He is a writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute and his writings are archived at hartmannreport.com.

This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

New GOP 'Big Lie' plot is in the works: 'It must stop. Now.'

The 21st-century version of the Confederacy is fixing to repeat the Big Lie strategy of its 19th century forebearers. And this one goes beyond the Big Lie that Donald Trump won the 2020 election. Now they're trying to sanitize treason as well.

George Orwell famously pointed out that, "Those who control the past control the future," and the GOP is furiously trying to rewrite the history of January 6th to hide their participation in a heinous crime and promote their authoritarian agenda for the future.

Big lies, when heavily and institutionally promoted over generations, have incredible persistence.

Back in the early 1980s, Louise and I moved with our three kids down to Georgia to start a business in suburban Atlanta. The place was growing like a weed and opportunity abounded; we got our little start-up company on the front page of The Wall Street Journal within the second year.

But what I remember most vividly about those years is the answer I got one night at dinner when I asked our kids what they learned in school that day.

"We learned about the War of Northern Aggression," one said, explaining that the New York bankers were trying to rob people in the South and so the South had to fight back.

This is what happens when history is allowed to be re-written for over a century. And it's happening again, today.

As Mike DeBonis and Jeremy Barr, et al, document at The Washington Post:

"Instead of an attempt to overturn the election by radicalized Donald Trump supporters, it was a choreographed attack staged by antifa provocateurs. Rather than an armed insurrection, it was a good-natured protest spoiled by a few troublemakers.

And instead of a deadly event that put the lives of hundreds of lawmakers, police officers and others at risk, the riot was no big deal at all.

A legion of conservative activists, media personalities and elected officials are seeking to rewrite the story of what happened at the Capitol on Jan. 6, hoping to undermine the clear picture of the attack that has emerged...

Six weeks after the attack, some are taking advantage of fading memories and unanswered questions to portray the riot in a different, more benign light...."

Democrats are trying to put together a commission to study what happened, and Republicans are fighting every effort.

When congressional committees controlled by Democrats try to look into the events of January 6, their Republican colleagues tie the proceedings up in bureaucratic knots.

Very little, right now, is getting done, while documents and other evidence are being destroyed, "lost" or "forgotten." There's even some doubt about whether all the pre-January 6th security video from the Capitol that may have shown legislators giving recon tours to insurgents still exists.

The new story, as told by Tucker Carlson, Ron Johnson and others is that it wasn't all that big a deal when the Capitol was stormed, and it certainly wasn't treason. Donald Trump even went so far as to say that his followers were "hugging and kissing" the Capitol Police officers.

A few hundred foot-soldiers have been arrested and are being prosecuted, but nobody has heard a peep about the meeting in Trump's DC hotel the night of January 5 or any other meetings or actions that may imply organization and leadership.

Acting Secretary of Defense, Trump loyalist Christopher Miller, was installed right after Trump lost the election as part of a rapid general purge of senior leadership at the Pentagon.

Anticipating the January 6th attack to end American democracy, Miller issued a memo (reprinted below) on January 4 specifically forbidding the District of Columbia National Guard from:

  • being "issued weapons, ammunition, bayonets, batons, or ballistic protection equipment such as helmets and body armor."
  • "to employ any riot control agents"
  • "To share equipment with law-enforcement agencies"
  • "To use Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance assets or to conduct ISR or Incident, Awareness, and Assessment activities."
  • "To employ helicopters or any other air assets."
  • "To conduct searches and seizures, arrests, or other similar direct law-enforcement activity."
  • "To seek support from any non-DC National Guard units."

Miller's memo specified that the DC National Guard would be essentially neutered unless he gave the order, and he and other Trump loyalists weren't answering the phone for hours during the attack.

But where's the investigation? Where are the hearings? Who's asking Miller who ordered him to do this and why he went along with it? What was the end game? Who else was involved?

It sure looks like we experienced an attempted coup d'état that only failed because of the integrity of a few Republican officials and Secretaries of State. It was a widespread and concerted effort to end the American Experiment.

Donald Trump and a group of his followers, it appears, tried to overthrow the legitimate government of the United States and install himself as a strongman dictator, ending the world's oldest democracy.

But any time questions are asked about these details, about who participated at the higher levels, about what members of Congress might've been involved, the conversation gets changed. The discussion is shifted to Antifa, Maxine Waters or something altogether unrelated.

Trump's Big Lie that he won the 2020 election was terrible in and of itself. Like Hitler's "Stabbed in the Back" Big Lie that Germany was on the verge of winning World War I until the Jews and socialists sold them out, Trump's Lie formed the basis for the attack on the Capitol and multiple ongoing attacks on our democracy.

But a second Big Lie that is emerging now, that the attack of January 6th was either not an "actual" or "serious" attack, or that, if it was, it was done by Antifa and Black Lives Matter members, is just as destructive. Perhaps more so, because it discourages further investigation.

These two Big Lies have already spread widely across social media and the Internet. Multimillionaire commentators on Fox News are doing their best to establish these lies as part of the documentary record, as are other rightwing media outlets.

America mustn't let them get away with it.

We need to know the truth, including uncomfortable truths that may involve collusion and participation by elected officials and government employees, should that be proven to be the case.

America allowed the Big Lie of the "Lost Cause" and "the War of Northern Aggression" to survive and fester for over a century and the result is that Americans are still dying — daily — because of the color of their skin.

That elected Republicans are blocking efforts to find the truth about this January 6, 2021 act of treason, while actively using Trump's original November 2020 Big Lie to cut back voting rights nationwide, is both despicable and dangerous.

It must stop. Now.

The perpetrators and collaborators — including those who are and/or work for elected officials — must be publicly held to account.

If Republicans continue blocking serious investigations and these crimes are successfullly whitewashed, the next authoritarian attempt to destroy our republic may well succeed.

The Ku Klux Kaucus will end in tragedy

Well, now they're just coming right out and saying it.

Several Southern Republican members of the House of Representatives have proposed a Klu Klux Kaucus that will adhere to "Anglo-Saxon" values and vigorously resist allowing any more people of color into America under any circumstances. They're officially calling it the "America First Caucus."

The original America First movement started in the autumn of 1940, with open support for Adolf Hitler, loudly promoting their fear that white people in America were subject to being "replaced" by people of color into the fabric of our country. Those engineering this Great Replacement, America Firsters believed, were wealthy, media-connected Jews.

It also openly opposed America doing anything to stop Adolf Hitler after his 1939 invasion of Poland, and was particularly against our engaging in any kind of military action against Germany's leader.

At its peak, it had 800,000 members including future President Gerald Ford and future US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart. It was largely funded by the mind-bogglingly wealthy rightwing families who owned Sears Roebuck and the Chicago Tribune, the "billionaires" of their day.

Dr. Seuss, who seems to be making a bit of a comeback thanks to Republican hysteria, produced one of the most famous America First cartoons. It shows a kangaroo named "America First" with baby kangaroos in her pouch labeled "Nazis," and "Fascists."

The movement's leader, Charles Lindbergh, addressed the "Jews will not replace us" issue in one of his most famous America First speeches when he said of Jewish Americans, "Their greatest danger to this country lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio and our government."

Small wonder that Georgia's Marjorie Taylor Greene and Arizona's Paul Gosar, apologists for the traitors who attacked our republic on January 6th and fellow travelers with uber-racist Donald Trump, are the founding members of this new Kaucus.

In their introductory documentation, they argue that they're only interested in promoting or voting for infrastructure that "befits the progeny of European architecture." It doesn't take a dog to figure out what that whistle means.

In fact, they are quite proud of the racism. According to a document obtained by Punchbowl News, the Kaucus' main aim is to "follow in President Trump's footsteps, and potentially step on some toes and sacrifice sacred cows for the good of the American nation."

And what sacred cows might those be?

"[S]ocietal trust and political unity are threatened," they say, "when foreign citizens are imported en masse into a country…"

As Donald Trump would say, they're not talking about immigrants from Norway.

Republicans understand what the new Kaucus is all about, and a few who aren't rushing to join are instead objecting to their racism and xenophobic hatred being so open and public.

Representative Liz Cheney, no shrinking violet but also apparently having a few scruples that must've skipped the previous generation, tweeted about the new Kaucus without mentioning it by name:

"Republicans believe in equal opportunity, freedom, and justice for all. We teach our children the values of tolerance, decency and moral courage. Racism, nativism, and anti-Semitism are evil. History teaches we all have an obligation to confront and reject such malicious hate."

Her opposition will probably cause a few hundred more Republicans to eagerly join the Kaucus.

State-by-state organizations haven't been announced, but it won't be all that difficult for them to set them up and enlist members: all they have to do is buy the mailing lists for the existing Klan and White Citizens Council organizations in each of the Southern states.

America's most horrific crimes and our deepest wounds have always involved race. The largest genocide in the history of the world is arguably the near-extermination of Native Americans by European invaders. The slave trade to this country turned the South into a violent ethnonationalist police state. It's Black residents lived in a state of terror that persists in many ways to this day.

We are still, this time by political proxy, fighting the Civil War, our nation's bloodiest and most destructive conflict.

Greene, Gosar and others who are promoting this new Kaucus may think they are just conducting the most recent in a long line of racist GOP publicity stunts designed to raise their Fox News media profile and double down on the millions they raise every month promoting division and fear.

But, they are also giving aid and comfort to the traitors who attacked our Capitol on January 6th and tried, for the second time in America's history, to end our democratic republican form of government.

They're contributing to the regional and racial hatred and fear that have, in the past, done so much damage to our republic and destroyed so many lives.

We've seen politicians use cheap and rhetorical devices like this to promote hatred and division in other countries.

Without exception, it has ended in disaster.

America must learn the lessons of its past. If we fail to, as the old saying goes, we shall be doomed to repeat our most terrible mistakes.

A bizarre GOP conspiracy theory now threatens democracy itself - can it be stopped?

News that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can cause blood clots in about one in 1 million women under 50 has exploded across the social media world. Republicans, along with countries that hate America, are smiling.

A fellow who runs a couple of communities on a popular social media site called into my program yesterday saying that the vaccine news had caused an "absolute explosion" of vaccine denialism. People who'd been on the fence are now outright opposed to getting the jab.

And Trump and the GOP are making hay with the announcement.

Discouraging Americans from getting vaccinated, and thus preventing President Joe Biden from getting the economy back on track, has been the first order of business for the GOP ever since Trump lost the election.

It is now their primary Electoral Strategy going into 2022 and 2024.

And, if the spam I'm seeing in my inbox and the trolls I'm seeing on social media are any indication, several countries that would like to see America fail are also enthusiastically encouraging Americans not to get vaccinated.

Tucker Carlson and Fox News are also pushing the "uncertainty, be careful!" meme.

Trump, of course, tripled down on the news.

He floated a bizarre conspiracy theory of his own, that he had promoted back in December as well.

Feigning outrage and using it to trash our new president, Trump wrote: "The Biden Administration did a terrible disservice to people throughout the world by allowing the FDA and CDC to call a 'pause' in the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine."

This is the same Donald Trump who, along with his wife, were both vaccinated while he was still president but went out of his way to keep it secret until long after he had left the White House.

He's all about sabotaging Joe Biden. There's probably nobody in the world Trump hates more, at this moment, than the guy who beat him badly in 2020. And he partially blames Pfizer.

"Remember," Trump wrote yesterday, "it was the FDA working with Pfizer, who announced the vaccine approval two days after the 2020 presidential election. They didn't like me very much…"

Warning his followers, once again, not to trust the American government, he added that the FDA "has to be controlled" particularly because of the "long time bureaucrats within."

If you want to see what the US will look like if Trump and the GOP prevail and create widespread vaccine denialism and hesitancy, just look at Michigan right now. The British variant is ripping through that state, throwing huge numbers of people under 40 into hospitals.

This is exactly what Republicans want.

It's the reason why the Republicans who control the Michigan House and Senate forced through legislation over Governor Whitmer's unsuccessful veto requiring the state's website to point out that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was tested on fetal stem cells.

Now another whole cohort of Americans are all hysterical about "baby parts" in their vaccines (they're not) and vaccine compliance is starting to collapse in Michigan.

Sabotage that Democratic governor!

It's also why about half of all the Republicans in the US Congress refuse to disclose whether they have been vaccinated, and Senators Paul and Johnson openly proclaim that they won't take a vaccine.

It has nothing to do with "freedom." It's all about sabotaging the Biden administration. And doing the same to any state with a Democratic governor.

Many Americans were shocked when they realized that Donald Trump's deadly push to "open the economy" in September and October was just to try to get the economic numbers up so he could win reelection.

They're even more dismayed now, learning that Trump and the GOP are actively working to sabotage any effort to get the pandemic under control so Democrats will lose next year's elections and in 2024.

Trump's attempt to overturn the 2020 election, and his encouragement of the January 6 insurrection against our republic, were both treasonous and seditionist. He has demonstrated beyond any doubt that he is a traitor to our ideals and our nation.

But encouraging the deaths of hundreds of thousands more Americans is taking treason and sabotage to a whole new level.

It took our media about three years to figure out and explicitly point out that Donald Trump was intent on destroying democracy in America. It took them more than two years to use the word "lies" to describe his…lies.

As Americans today are dying all across our country because of the vaccine skepticism promoted by Trump and the GOP, it's more important than ever that all of us, including our media, call this what it is.

American genocide for political purposes. Treason.


Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of The Hidden History of American Oligarchy and more than 30 other books in print. He is a writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute and his writings are archived at hartmannreport.com.

This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Republicans and Trump have thrown evangelical Christianity into a full-blown crisis

Republican politicians are doubling down on exploiting religious people, and its now killing churches in a way not seen in living memory.

We've watched absolute depravity wash across our politics over the last few decades, promoted by the same politicians who wave a religious banner to get votes. It ranges from a stolen election in 2000, to being lied into two wars, and having four years of a presidency with nothing to show for it except a tax cut for billionaires, the destruction of international relationships, and 500,000 dead Americans.

We had a president who raped women; made fun of mentally disabled people; tried to take away Obamacare, Social Security, Medicare, food stamps and unemployment from American citizens; and intentionally tore America apart racially and religiously just for money and power.

He ripped children from their mother's arms on the border, and then tortured those kids for years, killing at least seven of them. He called Nazi white supremacists "very fine people," tried to eliminate healthcare for poor Americans, and vilivied refugees — all in the name of Christianity.

Prominent among the mob that attacked the US Capitol on January 6 were "Jesus 2020" flags and Christian iconography. One group carried a large wooden cross, and hundreds of people knelt to pray before attacking the capitol on that terrible day.

The day before, January 5, a group of religious Trump supporters held a "Jericho March" in DC, carrying oversize crosses and singing hymns as they paraded in circles around the capital as if they were Joshua circling the ancient city of Jericho so its walls would supernaturally collapse.

This is not what Jesus would have done; supporting politicians was anathema to his ministry. He preached morality, not politics.

Throughout my lifetime, church attendance had been fairly steady, ranging from a high of 73% when I was born in 1951 to a low of around 65% when George W. Bush was sworn into office. This year, though, it hit 47%.

Fewer than half of Americans now attend church. Organized religion is collapsing across our nation.

Republican strategist Rick Wilson wrote a book titled Everything Trump Touches Dies. He's right, and religion is the latest casualty.

Back at the founding of our republic, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison had a running debate about religion and government throughout most of their lives.

Jefferson, like Thomas Paine, Ben Franklin and George Washington, was a Deist, essentially an atheist. He was convinced that one of the biggest threats to what he called "a republican form of government" was religion.

He was terrified that ministers or priests might run for political office, and even proposed what became Article VI of the Constitution, which says, "[N]o religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

Madison, a churchgoer, believed that America would be just fine with Christians in charge, but that the biggest threat to religion and our country's churches would be their corruption by the government.

When he became President, Madison's first veto was to reject a piece of legislation that would've given a federal subsidy to a church in Washington DC to feed needy people.

No government should be giving money to churches, Madison said, regardless of purpose, and the proposed law he vetoed would, he wrote in his veto message, "be a precedent for giving to religious societies as such a legal agency in carrying into effect a public and civil duty." He insisted the money go straight from the government to the poorhouses and not run through the churches, because he was convinced it would corrupt them.

Turns out they were both right. And the GOP has promoted both the harm to government and the harm to organized religion.

The Republican Party has been cynically manipulating Christians for political gain, particularly white evangelicals, ever since Ronald Reagan and his Vice President George HW Bush hired Bush's son, George W., to do "outreach" to the white Evangelical community.

In exchange for their votes, Republicans have repeatedly promised — and delivered — to block IRS enforcement of laws that a church cannot maintain their tax-exempt status if they engage in politics.

They've also poured literally billions of taxpayer dollars into churches to provide services from foster care to daycare to meals to medical services, all in ways that would've given President and "Father of the Constitution" Madison a heart attack.

Churches and multimillionaire televangelists, for their part, have returned the favor by preaching Republican politics from the pulpit and on thousands of religious radio stations across the country.

Rightwing pastors have become a fixture in Republican politics, as Jeff Sharlet chronicles in his book The Family. From $100,000 heated dog houses to multiple multimillion-dollar mansions to private jets, their embrace of the GOP has corrupted their own ministries and confused their followers.

And now, at the behest of Donald Trump and the Republican party, white Christians are literally killing each other. White evangelicals are the one, identifiable single group in America with the highest probability of refusing to get a vaccine.

Having lived inside the Reagan/Bush/Trump cult for decades, they've been conditioned to believe any old bullshit Republican politicians feed them.

So when Trump and his fellow homicidal Republican governors told them that wearing masks was not a good thing, and cast doubts on the vaccine (Trump and his wife got vaccinated, but in secret during the last weeks of his presidency), they were primed and completely vulnerable to crazed conspiracy theories promoted on the internet by hustlers and narcissists in America and hostile foreign governments pretending to be Americans.

As a Christian myself, and a person who agrees with John Donne's sentiment that "every man's death diminishes me," this saddens me deeply.

On the other hand, setting aside the unnecessary deaths, it might be a good thing. The rot in today's version of white Evangelical Christianity has grown so deep and so destructive that a wake-up call is necessary. Indeed, a reformation is needed, both in religion and politics.

From the days that Reagan was cutting deals with a generation of television preachers mostly interested in mansions and private jets through today's preachers pushing politicized vaccine misinformation, the corruption of religion by Republican politicians has become a full-blown crisis for many parts of the church and her followers.

The depravity of Republican politics is killing religion, or at least what we today call religion. At the same time, conservative "religious leaders" have done their best to fleece Republican parishioners.

Will Republican politicians stop exploiting religion for their own gain? Will people of faith turn away from the modern-day Republican Caesars whose gnarled, depraved fingers are reaching out to them every Sunday?

Or will America end up like most Scandinavian and Northern European countries, with churches relegated to ceremonial spaces for weddings and funerals and political parties avoiding the subject of faith?

I don't have an answer, but asking the question is vital.

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Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of The Hidden History of American Oligarchy and more than 30 other books in print. He is a writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute and his writings are archived at hartmannreport.com.

This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

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