2020 – Grateful to Nonprofits in the Age of Trump

It’s a new year and a new decade so it’s a time for hope and looking for positive signs that should buck us up in these fraught political times in the age of Trump. Sometimes it seems that no one loves you if, economically, you are not in the top 10%. We are constantly chastised for our lack of gumption and enterprise. We are told that we are valued by our bank account and that most of us have failed at the ‘game of life’. It seems as if the government wants no part of caring for us because we can’t afford to pay and they don’t want to pay. These seem to be days of callous disregard for the fortunes of fate. No recognition is to be given to the inequality of opportunities that come with where and when you are born.

But even as our government dwindles in size and cuts services we have reasons to be grateful to a long list of nonprofits that choose a mission or task, raise money, and work tirelessly towards fulfilling that mission. These organizations try to fix the problems humans face and the problems we create that affect the environment around us.

If the federal government disappears from our every day lives as they would like to, would a web of organizations keep us all functioning. Of course, that would be possible only if we had jobs and could still support these nonprofits with our donations. I’m not sure why there seems to be a denial of how much we are all interconnected, as if wealthy people can separate from ‘life’s losers’ and exist in their own luxurious world. Without consumers it seems to me that their luxurious world would eventually collapse. Without consumers, of course, these not-for-profits would soon have to cease functioning also. This would be a great disadvantage to everyone.

So in a new year such as this, when nonprofits offer us a value for our dollars that is not under the thumb of the federal government, these organizations offer us a certain independence in case government becomes totally divorced from reality. Time to be grateful to people who labor on our behalf. Thanks to all these valuable nonprofit organizations and any that are not in this list. This list does not pretend to be complete, but all is available out on the web. (I sometimes resent all the mailers I get requesting donations, but that is just because I cannot give to as many organizations as I would like to.)

Environmental not-for-profits are filling an essential role as this administration rolls back environmental protections and pretends that science is superstition. There are many such organizations each filling a vital niche. Here’s a partial list:

Environment

Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club Foundation, Rocky Mountain Institute, Greenpeace Fund, Center for Biological Diversity, National Parks Conservation Association, Nature Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Society, Defending Wildlife, World Wildlife Fund/Federation, Rainforest Alliance, World Resources Institute, Conservation International, Green America, Humane Society, ASPCA, NRDC

Birds

Audubon Society, Cornell Labs

Oceans

4Oceans, The Ocean Conservancy, Conserve Our Ocean Legacy, Oceans Futures Society, Marine Conservation Biology Institute, Global Coral Reef Alliance, Sea Web and so many more

Fight Disease

Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure, American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Society, American Heart Association, America Kidney Fund, American Lives Foundation, America Lung Association Arthritis Foundation, Autism Speaks, and that is just the ones that begin with the letter ‘A’. Since I get a lot of mail from St. Jude’s Hospital and Doctors without Borders I had better mention them. Access a more complete list here:

http://www.rochesterhealth.com/health_resources/nonprofit_disease_organizations

Social Justice

Black Youth Project, Fair Immigration Reform Network, Fight for $15, Indigenous Environmental Network, Muslims for Progressive Value, National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood, Task Force for Global Health, Southern Poverty Law Center, Transgender Law Center – Civil Liberties – ACLU Foundation

Global poverty

The Borgen Project, ONE Campaign, Global Giving, UNICEF, Partners in Health, Give Well, Care, Life in Abundance, International Rescue Committee, Shot@Life

Poverty in America

Feeding America, Children’s Defense Fund, Heartland Alliance, The Salvation Army, Food Banks, Children’s Hunger Alliance, Oxfam America, The Hunger Project, Meals on Wheels, No Kid Hungry, Habitat for Humanity and many more. Access a longer list here:

https://mswonlineprograms.org/       Ask for 99 Great Organizations

*The Red Cross is a nonprofit but is not totally independent of the federal government since 1905.

You could go further and research groups that protect science and education in America.

Without these nonprofits it is possible that we would be far more affected by recent government policies that favor withdrawing services and benefits that protect our environment and the poorest among us. Give if you can and remember that there are people all around us who perform important and often unrewarded tasks without which things would seem far more hopeless than they do. Happy New Year 2020.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – Biz Tech

2020 – Democrats or Oblivion

What a year was 2019! Who knew that trying to save America would be so exhausting? And we have not yet followed the brave example of the citizens of Hong Kong, fighting a seemingly impossible fight against a large and in-control China. We admire them. But we have not yet arrived at that point yet thanks to the fact that we are losing our freedoms slowly and they have not yet impacted noticeably on our every day lives.

We are getting ready for a presidential election. It is an enormously important one which will determine whether our election system has been rendered untrustworthy through cheating and manipulation. We know that districts have been gerrymandered right down to street level to ensure that white districts are separate from minority districts. We know that these districts have been targeted in different ways. White districts get the red carpet treatment, while in minority districts voters have been stripped from the voter’s rolls, no reasons given. Voting locations have been moved to out-of-the-way places or shut down together. There have been strategies to prevent college students (who are seen as leaning left) from voting while on campus, trying to force them to go home to vote, which, of course, may not be feasible. Foreign governments have been invited to interfere in our elections.

Something that has been sound and trustworthy for generations, our elections, are suddenly open to manipulation, to digitalization, to huge donations, to expensive media ads that do not have to be true. Ever since the Supreme Court ended the voting protection built into the Voting Rights Act and passed Citizens United and McCutcheon our elections seems anything but safe, depending on where you vote.

So, we face an election that requires intimate knowledge of the electorate and face-to-face canvassing and solid goals easily explained to voters, and lots and lots of money. It must be electioneering on steroids. If you are in a blue state or a blue district the odds are stacked against you. The other side had the foresight and the focus along with an agenda that included a long view, the development of tactics that would allow the right to stay in power, perhaps forever, in order to pass the laws they wanted without competition.

The right fought to turn rural America red because they could see that the electoral college math would then favor them. Urban areas have more people and more electoral votes, but there are more rural states and when those small numbers of votes are summed up the numbers belie the actual population. Thus, we have a popular vote and an electoral college vote that are out-of-sync by design. Is this cheating or just good planning? It doesn’t smell right especially when extreme levels of government obstruction against the left in Congress have already allowed government to drift right.

Fortunately, due to the advent of the unsuitable Donald J. Trump, Democrats finally understand the challenges they face, and they accept that the policies of the right will change how our democracy/republic functions for decades or perhaps forever, even if our government actually remains a democracy/republic. Fortunately, Trump committed an impeachable offense that was not deniable enough, and of course it had to do with cheating in the 2020 election. He stomped all over the new Ukraine government who we are supposed to be helping in a fight against an imperialistic and enormous Russia. But because this man Trump has a strange power over a fairly large number of Americans this is barely seen as problematic. What has happened to us?

Of course, this year held many other areas of concern. We see hot spots in the oceans, more devastating natural storms and other events. We can’t do any big things to turn back climate changes, which will most likely respond only to some fairly massive adjustments in the way we interact with earth’s environment, unless the Democrats win in 2020.

We can’t help people uprooted by violence and climate change in South America or by war in the Middle East or Africa because new laws are against humanitarianism.

We have watched our President increase the power of the Executive branch until it seems that if we have a Congress at all in the future it will be simply a place where rich people go to wear nice suits and trade their pull with the President for money.

We are watching the UK go down the same pathways because no one wants Muslims in their country, and everyone wants their minority population to hold steady where it is.

It seems that all we do lately is watch stupid stuff, stuffed shirts, bad laws, cruel policies, and stubborn men with too much power. We cannot turn the tables and begin making better laws until we oust the Republican right wing from power.

This election is so momentous that we cannot afford to lose it and the cheating has been so well-organized that it makes winning a real long shot requiring a party organized to the ‘nines’. The future is now. What we do in this election represents the turning point where we keep going to the right or pull the entire nation back to the left. If the left doesn’t win, we are doomed, that’s how dire our climate situation is.

So Happy New Year! This is the year we take back our government and save our democracy/republic and our planet. Last night I watched The Hobbit. All those great, big heroic men kept asking Gandalf why he brought along Bilbo Baggins, who seemed so small, so unheroic, a burden even. Finally, Gandalf, tired of waiting for them to figure it out for themselves said something like this. The halfling is here because I have found that it is not always big things that fight evil best – it is the small things, the simple kindnesses. Well even though this is a fictional wizard, he is written with the wisdom of the authors, and if this is so then we, the seemingly sidelined, underdogs on the left, should find 2020 a year full of hope.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – Facility Executive Magazine

Trump and the Fundamentalists

After you finish a book as meaty, as full of detail and attribution, as Shadow Network by Anne Nelson, it requires more than one take on the author’s revelations to do justice to the contents. I have not talked about the juiciest bits of this book, (which makes them sound like they are gossip, but they are real). These are the places in the book where the author talks about the fundamentalists and the moment when Donald Trump entered the campaign, and furthermore, the bits where the fundamentalists see that he will most likely win the nomination.

The Council for National Policy had its roots back in the 70’s. It began as a small group of religious leaders and pastors who were worried that the decision to end school prayer (1962) was responsible for a moral nosedive in America. This Council grew in influence and many Republicans and religious leaders have been members and past presidents, although they are not all household names. The CNP inspired many similar organizations of conservative fundamentalists and these groups began to formulate a “wish list” of laws to pass and laws to overturn and courts to stuff. They added a Leadership training program that was very effective and a long list of related groups. Once they knew what they wanted, they decided to analyze fundamentalist voters. They began to devise ways to reach out to fundamentalists and other Christians who would become “Values voters,” to make sure they registered to vote and went to the polls and voted for the candidates the fundamentalists backed.

In the 2016 elections evangelicals (fundamentalists) backed candidates like Ted Cruz and Ben Carson. They certainly did not favor Donald Trump. Anne Nelson tells us that “a group of female conservatives…had sent an ‘anyone but Trump’ letter to Iowa voters, stating, “as women, we are disgusted by Mr. Trump’s treatment of individuals, women in particular.” (pg.191)

She goes on to say, “as far as the movement’s key issues were concerned, Trump’s loose-cannon rhetoric had been all over the place; he was on record saying he didn’t care to challenge same-sex marriage, and he was wobbly on abortion. His religious credentials were spotty, to put it mildly.” For a coalition that depended on getting out the fundamentalist vote, these were poor optics indeed, says Nelson.

But George Barna, who had done the get-out-the-vote groundwork, an enormous investment of time and organizational strategy, technique and networking, Nelson says, could sense the “taste of victory was turning to ashes. Barna claimed his efforts were more successful for taking place, quite unintentionally, off the national radar.”

“If fundamentalists/Republicans won the presidency and kept the Senate in 2016, they would hold the power to reshape the American judiciary and real change would unfold. They could roll back abortion rights, gay marriage and gun laws, revoke environmental regulations, abolish entire federal agencies, assail the IRS restrictions on the tax free status of churches, make decisions on gerrymandering, and redistricting to set the scale for many elections to come.”

She goes on to say, “[b]ut Trump broke through, riding on his uncanny charisma, the caché of celebrity, and a powerful backlash against political business as usual…but with the disadvantages of a seat-of-the-pants organization, lack of donors and infrastructure, or any ground game.” (pg.192)

Nelson tells us that, “[i]n May, soon after Ted Cruz acknowledged defeat, Time magazine’s Elizabeth Dias reported that Tony Perkins (CNP), Ben Carson, and Bill Dallas had begun organizing a closed-door meeting for Trump and fundamentalist leaders.” (pg. 193)

She describes Trump’s speech in January, 2016 at Liberty University (founded by Jerry Falwell) sprinkled with the words ‘hell’ and ‘damn’, so “shocking to young fundamentalist ears”. This was the Two Corinthians moment, she reminds us. Nelson sums it up, “Fundamentalists measured a man’s worth by his church attendance, marital fidelity, and knowledge of the Bible, Trump came up short on every count.”

Nelson tells us that conservatives and fundamentalists did not trust Trump’s business sense either and that Charles Koch even considered voting for Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Barna, the fundamentalist vote-technician, refused to see all his hard work go to waste. He called in a fundamentalist named Ralph Reed, who had been cultivating Trump for years as revealed by Elizabeth Dias of Time magazine. Reed scheduled a dress rehearsal for Trump at a June, 2016 Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Washington, D.C. at which “Trump praised the right people and listed the correct goals.” (pg. 195)

Then they hosted the big event on June 21, 2016, “A Conversation About America’s Future with Donald Trump and Ben Carson” at which over 1,000 fundamentalist leaders came from all over the country to the ballroom of the NY Marriott Marquis. Ben Carson said, “this is like a chess match and God is the great grand master, sometimes he uses a pawn.” Nelson also recounts ‘Franklin Graham’s back-handed support – Was Trump a sinner? Well, Graham reminded his audience, the God of the Old Testament worked through lots of sinners, Abraham lied, Moses disobeyed God. David committed adultery and had a man killed.”

And then Trump said: “this election is about the Supreme Court. The next president will appoint 2, 3, 4, or possibly 5 life-term Justices…He said all his judges would be vetted by the Federalist Society.”

In the end, Nelson tells us about a man, James Robison in these words, “The movement had come full circle. Robison had brought Reagan to Dallas, and now he delivered the fundamentalist war council to Trump. This was a man who made history yet few Americans outside fundamentalist circles had ever heard of him. (pg. 227)

She finishes this tale about the ultimate acts of rationalization on the part of the fundamentalists and how they came to support this particular American president that, it could be argued, they bequeathed us, by saying,

“As of 2017, Republicans held all the cards, they controlled the White House, both houses of Congress, and thirty-three state legislatures. Furthermore their ranks were filled with fresh blood; the average age of the Democratic House leadership was seventy-two and the Republican was 48.”

“Now with the Republican Senate behind him and the Federalist Society nominations in hand, Trump prepared to fill the vacancies in the courts in record time.”

The Koch brothers wrote a paper called, “Advancing Principled Public Policy” which is essentially a victory lap, “the new administration had overturned the Bureau of Land Management’s Stream Protection Rule, rescinded the fracking ban on federal and Indian lands, and initiated the withdrawal of the US from the Paris Climate agreement. Justice Neil Gorsuch was confirmed to the Supreme Court.”

From the Koch point of view “it was ultimately about money, in the form of the Republican tax bill.” (pg. 228) The “victories” Republicans won as a result of agreeing to back Trump have been worth all their compromises in their eyes, but Nelson’s book tells us of the less transparent role fundamentalists played in Trump’s election, and while he may be an affliction to some us, he has not been perceived that way in religious circles to our everlasting astonishment. It’s lucky for these folks, I guess, that now the world is operating under New Testament rules.

See, I told you the story has a lot of juicy bits. All these righteous men being yanked around by want and greed. I did not want you to think that Anne Nelson neglected to write about Trump or neglected to expose hypocrisy in her book, Shadow Network: Media, Money and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right Wing.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – The New Republic

Shadow Network: Media, Money and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right Wing by Anne Nelson – Book

I was attracted to the book Shadow Network: Media, Money and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right by Anne Nelson because I already knew that Evangelicals (white evangelicals in particular) shared Republican ideology, and liked this ideology better as it got more extreme. What I did not know is that Evangelicals, also called Fundamentalists, were prime movers in turning Republican politics into a well-oiled voter turnout machine.

Anne Nelson is on the faculty at the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs. She acknowledges the help of colleagues and students in the end notes. Although I have written on these subjects many times Anne Nelson had access to resources I did not. Her work is important to me because it offers proof that my “cheap seats” interpretations of recent events in our government have merit. It would be more satisfying if the truths did not back up the facts that the church has been meddling in our federal government and that they grew from scratch into a very effective organization, using tools both legal and possibly illegal to get Republicans elected.

Southern Baptists were not leaving the church the way other Americans were. The advent of church-on-TV had given birth to the megachurch phenomenon. Pastors with large numbers of followers became almost religious rock stars. For decades there had been a strong church presence on the radio, especially across the South and Midwest. Stardom can go to your head, at least that seems to be what happened. At first churches met, “convocated,” held conventions, and church leaders talked about the moral decline which they linked to the decline in religious observance in many parts of America. They felt that religion would cure our moral “slippage.” They were angered that it was no longer legal to pray in school. They began to understand that their numbers and their media network gave them power to change the things they did not like about America. Their natural allies were the Republican Party, even more so with the advent of the Tea Party.

Evangelicals began to found a series of social organizations which were ostensibly formed to deal with aspects of America’s slippage, things like the disintegration of the nuclear family, abortion, contraception, the exclusion of religious teachings from school, the increasing concentration of power at the federal level when it could benefit the church’s ability to thrive if power was concentrated instead at the state level (small government).

Evangelicals came to see that if they could get Republican voters to the polls they could get everything they wanted because the Republican agenda matched the Evangelical wish list. They eventually went digital and collected data on a house-by-house basis in places that leaned right.

One problem with this (among many) is that these groups are classified as 501 c3 (nonprofits for religious reasons) and 501 c4 (nonprofits for social welfare reasons). These groups, in order to keep their tax exempt status, are not supposed to be partisan or participate in getting members of any particular party elected. These groups, in an incestuous relationship with the Republican Party and rich Republican donors like the Koch brothers and the DeVos family, were violating their tax exempt status, not to mention colluding to have an outsized effect on our national, state, and local politics. This story is essentially a political thriller, except its real.

Anne Nelson’s very interesting book may not be to everyone’s taste but should be read by anyone who believes that we should participate in our democracy/republic.

NB: This is even more relevant given that an article in Christianity Today backed removing Trump from office.

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/december-web-only/trump-should-be-removed-from-office.html

 

True Things and Risky Gambles

Certain things appear to be true. The world is moving to the right. Corporations are winning. Wealthy people will continue to add to their wealth. Wealthy people will determine who is in power in nations. The number of Muslims will continue to grow. The number of Christians will continue to fall. The number of white people in the world is on the decline. The left is moving farther left but is also fractured.

How much do white men want to win? How much does the Christian church want to win? How much does power wish to keep white people separate from “others”? How much do corporations want to keep the fossil fuel gravy train intact? Can wealthy white folks hold on to power for the foreseeable future? How will they hold on to it? Will they hold on at all cost? If the next age is not an industrial age how will wealth be generated? How could America stay number one?

I have been reading Shadow Network by Anne Nelson which recounts the lengths the Fundamentalists (White Evangelicals) have gone to in order to keep America as they would like it to be, white, Christian, male-dominated and a capitalist empire. They organized, they met, they congregated, they plotted, they planned in-depth ways to reach the voters they wanted to reach, to get out the vote. Since the voters they needed to appeal to were Republicans, alliances grew between the Republican Party , the Evangelicals, the corporatists, especially the Koch brothers and the DeVos family who became big donors to the movement. Until Trump these behind the scenes organizations multiplied and grew tentacles that reached between organizations and into our government (at first in the House, but now in the Senate). Democrats have no similar apparatus to equal what we find on the right; either secretive or transparent. Democrats seem to be arriving very late to this party/government takeover. Democrats must impeach but it is likely to be too little and too late.

But what Republicans do not accept is that the world will most likely move inexorably onward regardless of what will eventually prove to be the puny efforts of a dying breed of men. It is not that it is any easier for people who are used to their entitlement to accept the changes that are coming than it is for these men clinging to their power. We white folks won’t find it easy to be in the minority. We worry that Christianity will be swallowed up by the Muslim faith and that it will be, as Bill Mahar says, all “new rules” that look like they could drastically curtail our freedoms. But we are just the masses. We will cope somehow.

What the Republicans also refuse to see barreling down on us is climate change, the destruction of our oceans, so necessary to our continued existence, the melting of the poles which changes the environmental equation exponentially and in ways we can’t predict. They talk of the Millennium and the Rapture, as if they are preparing for the end times. However they seem to plan to survive the end times. They are building their survivalist fiefdoms in out-of-the-way places.

But what if they are just pretending to ignore climate change while secretly hoping that it will kill millions or billions of souls all around the world, a sort of population reboot? If people can put forward the belief that helping people hurts them, that white people really are superior to all others, that they deserve to be wealthy, and that their wealth proves that God loves them above all others, would it be totally outside the realm of possibility  to suppose they are trying to hurry along the decimation of the planet? Would it just, to them, represent Earth 2.0?

The attitude of entitlement these people exude, the contempt with which they treat anyone who disagrees with them or who tries to alter their current path, suggests some knowledge the rest of us are not privy to. Perhaps this is just what white privilege looks like, but they do plan to somehow survive the enormous cultural changes arrayed against them so you have to wonder if they have a grand plan or if they are just clueless. They may not have won the world for democracy but they have certainly won the world in favor of Capitalism. Perhaps they think that is their ace-in-the-hole. And if all else fails there is always the Rapture, to which only white Christians are obviously invited.

To me if looks like the right will not get to enjoy its victory for long. What bugs us on the left is that we could be preparing for these changes, trying to soften the impact of change, working together to meet the changes that are inevitably coming, have already arrived; but we are left gawping at it all as at an inescapable tsunami. That is the true source of our feelings of hopelessness.

(Inspiration for my thoughts was also offered by material supplied by Angus Walker at tremr.com)

https://www.paulmason.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/After-Corbynism-v1.2.pdf

PS – Russians are white and Christian, sort of – just saying. This could explain all the Republicans canoodling with Russia.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – www.ditl.org

 

Universe, Please Deliver US from Mitch McConnell!

 

‘Majority rules’ has always been part of politics, but what happens when the party that represents a minority of the American people keeps winning and everyday governance becomes ‘minority rules’. It used to be that even a majority party did not shut down the minority party. But Mitch McConnell pretends that the party that represents the majority of Americans, which happens to hold only a minority in the Senate, does not exist. He disdains them. He ignores them.

McConnell now leads a Republican Party that has gone rogue and he seems to relish the job. He smiles, he pontificates, he denies, he even looks less turtle-y, less prune-y.

There are 400 bills sitting on the Senate floor and they will not be moved, says Mitch, as he hugs President Trump.

There is no give and take in the Senate these days. Mitch McConnell has turned the Senate into a sinkhole. There is no intelligent discussion, no presentation of facts, and careful deliberation. Mitch McConnell believes that when your party has the majority in the Senate (even when that party represents a minority of Americans), only those bills that agree with that Senate majority’s ideology are valid and even those bills will have to wait because right now he’s busy, he has to stuff the courts.

So when this Trump loyalist, when this stubborn and very partisan person, sticks out his skinny chest and lifts his weak wrinkled chin and pronounces what will and will not happen, the 51% of Americans who he does not represent can see that we are screwed once again, that this man (backed by Trump and his Republicans in the Senate) can and will pretend that there is no other party, that he governs unopposed, and right now he actually does. Kentucky obviously loves that the scourge of the Senate is a favorite son.

We can guess with a fair amount of certainty that Trump’s Senate Impeachment Trial will be a total farce, because Mitch McConnell can and will make it so, and the Orange King will smile down upon him and grant him absolute power to do anything as long as Trump does not disagree with it. It must be awful to be a Democrat in the Senate right now, but please hang in Democrats. Evil doesn’t hold sway forever. We were created with an anathema to evil.

Mitch McConnell assaults the Constitution says, The Nation.

Mitch says he’d fill a Supreme Court seat in 2020, reports Time.

Trump comforts Mitch after a Republican loss in Kentucky, as documented in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Mitch kowtows to Donald Trump on the border wall says an article in the Lexington Herald Leader.

Mitch sets up ‘nuclear option’ rule change, says The Japan Times

Mitch McConnell say reparations are not happening the Courier Journal tells us.

Mitch says Medicare-for-All is a ‘raw deal’ for Americans in front of the American Hospital Association.

Mitch McConnell gives reasons why he can’t meet with Merrick Garland according to The New Yorker.

Mitch McConnell tells CNN.com that he wants a short Senate Impeachment Trial.-BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Mitch blames impeachment for the 400 bills he blocked says The American Independent.

Washington Weekly calls Mitch McConnell the biggest threat to our Democracy.

That is probably enough of Mitch McConnel to last a lifetime. It is not as if the rest of the Senate will suddenly return to sanity if Mitch McConnell is voted out of office, but perhaps the next incarnation of Mitch McConnell will not be so capable at partisan stonewalling.

Republican Grievances and 501c Lies

We have learned by listening to the Impeachment mark-up hearings currently being held to pin down the Articles of Impeachment that the Republicans have endless grievances against the terrible Democrats. The Dems have treated Republicans abominably according to the Republicans. Republican testimony at the hearings offers perfect examples of the ways the Republicans like to make our brains hurt. We see the ways they twist the facts. They show us the ways they gaslight (make us think we are the crazy ones).

The Republicans never forget any Democratic “sins”. When the Republicans speak about Trump he sounds so innocent, and so victimized. Democrats are trying to overturn the 2016 election say the Republicans and the Dems want to pretend it turned out differently. But it is actually Trump who cheated in 2016, and Trump who tried to cheat again in 2020, both times asking for interference by a foreign country in an American election. And it is Trump, who says he knows how to build a wall, who has built an impenetrable wall around his administration so that no documents are accessible and no humans are allowed to speak. He has William Barr as the 4-eyed cyclops guarding his domain. And Trump certainly knows how to build a metaphorical wall, although he is having a bit more difficulty building the actual wall.

One of the most ridiculous grievances the Republicans have expressed in these hearings is the 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) IRS grievance they bring up over and over, which is so esoteric that it never gets discussed. The IRS felt that Republicans were abusing these two tax exempt categories. The c3 category is the one used by religious organizations. They are tax exempt as long as they do not engage in partisan politics. The c4 category allows social welfare groups to be tax exempt as long as they do not engage in partisan politics.

When the IRS started to audit lots of Republican c3 groups and c4 groups, the Republican Party threatened the IRS, something most of us never imagined was possible or even a good idea, and the Republicans even tossed around the idea of getting rid of the IRS. The IRS stated that the 501 c3’s and c4’s that claimed to be religious organizations or social welfare organizations were actually working to elect Republicans and that they should not be tax exempt. The IRS backed down when Republicans accused them of being partisan, and now the Republicans are pretending to lick a wound that was never actually sustained.

Those Republican groups were violating their c3 and c4 status. There were not equal numbers of Democratic groups doing the same thing. The Republicans got away with this tax cheat through intimidation and by calling the IRS partisan, a label apparently intolerable to the IRS. The Republican Party, currently a totally partisan operation, loves to charge everyone else with partisanship. Republicans are not victims. They are liars and they are breaking our tax laws.

Here are the names of some organizations with c3 and c4 tax exemptions that have been printing pamphlets to hand out in church bulletins, suggesting sermon messages to preachers in megachurches, conducting get-out the-Republican-vote studies, collecting information that shows the intimate data on every voter in America, especially Republicans, swing state voters, and minority voters, and sharing that data with state and federal election campaigns, and many more partisan political election activities.

These organizations have learned almost everything there is to know about voters in America and they have incestuous entanglements with the Republican Party and big donors on the right. They are deeply engaged in politics and they have turned voting into a science which is ironic for a group that hates science. These groups, especially the religious groups, own an enormous media network, mostly radio stations and they do conduct religious services for their listeners; but they also discuss and even preach about politics to a huge swath of America. They have hitched their wagon to the Republican political train and their services are tax free. Victims – I think not. They should let this particular grievance claim go. This is just one lie, but it is the tip of a very big iceberg of false claims of grievous wounds supposedly suffered by the Republican Party at the hands of the Democrats.

An incomplete list of groups follows (there are more) and you can check their tax status online:  Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, Susan B. Anthony List, Students for Life of America, Live Action, Faith and Freedom Coalition, United in Purpose, National Religious Broadcasters, Alliance Defending Freedom, Leadership Institute, Federalist Society, American Center for Law and Justice, Heritage Foundation, Tea Party Patriots, State Policy Network, National Rifle Association, i360 (data platform launched with Koch brothers funding), Themis Trust (i360’s original parent company), Data Trust (Republican National Committee database), Barna Group (evangelical polling firm)

The source of this data is the book Shadow Network: Media, Money, and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right by Anne Nelson, Bloomsbury Publishing, October 29, 2019, a book which should give you nightmares if you read it.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – TechSoup

 

Trump Horcruxes: The Prescience of Pop Culture

Trump Horcruxes: The Prescience of Pop Culture

So we found a Trump horcrux in Ukraine. Trump has created lots of horcruxes but they have been really hard to uncover. The Mueller Report is full of Trump horcruxes defended by the evil magic of William of Barr. Trump’s bank account is full of the proceeds of Trump’s emoluments horcruxes. We cannot destroy these horcruxes because they are protected by Trump’s arcane knowledge of how to tie his business up in the courts until his forget spell works. Anyone who pays attention to popular culture knows what happens if you only destroy one of many horcruxes. Damage is done but Trump will survive. As long as there were still horcruxes for Harry Potter, et al to find and destroy, the damage to magic grew greater. So as long as Trump’s horcruxes go undestroyed danger to our Constitution will grow ever greater.

But once we find a horcrux we need the Senate to destroy the horcrux, except that this Senate is not loyal to the House, to Congress, to ‘we the people’; it is loyal to Trump, as Voldemort’s cult members were loyal to him. How many horcruxes will we have to find and send to the Senate for them to destroy before the Senate will remember that it did not take an oath to uphold whatever crimes a President gets up to. How long will it take the Senate to see that this is a really corrupt path to power. How long will it take Republicans in the Senate to remember that Senators take an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America.

Now that we found Trump’s first horcrux, if the Senate does not destroy it, what will be the damage to the Constitution? Will it be damaged enough to give Trump absolute authority as long as he is President? Will it be damaged enough to allow Trump to declare himself President for Life, a title he is obviously enamored of? How far will the Senate go? How will it benefit the Senate (Republicans) to nullify our founding documents? They seem to think it will benefit them a lot, that Trump is ticking off the points on their wish list for things like small government and beating down the Democratic Party. They don’t mind if he rips off the government for personal gain because they have done the same. They might wish he was a bit better at keeping his crimes on the down-low, but when the Democrats are upset it makes them happy. Universal wisdom usually tells us to “follow the money.” But there is so much more than just money at stake here. All we have to do is follow the smell of rot.

The Rise of Magicks by Nora Roberts – Book

Although I found fault with the adolescent atmospherics in the second book in Nora Roberts most recent trilogy which began with Year One and continued with Of Blood and Bone, I decided that I enjoyed the first two books enough to want to read The Rise of Magicks, the last volume in the trilogy. (It could just be that, like Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory, I am unable to leave something unfinished.) I liked this last volume almost as much as I liked the first volume. Although I don’t believe in magic or even ‘magicks’, there was enough universal cultural commentary relevant to the times to keep me hooked. And I will confess that one of my guilty pleasures when it comes to reading was a love of the romance genre, especially the Regency romances of Barbara Cartland and Amanda Quick. I blame this on (or credit this to) my sister who loved these books so much. Although I rarely crave this particular genre these days, I’m guessing that particular endorphin pathway is still neurologically strong. Nora Roberts trilogy has enough romance to reengage those particular neurons and she does it with all the delicacy some of those Regency romances entailed.

When the seal that holds magick away from humans is broken in Scotland and both good and evil magic are loosed on the world they come in the form of a virus. Many die from this virus, millions, and the world is thrown into chaos. Some humans begin to learn that they have morphed into magical beings and some other humans, who have no magic are horrified by these magical humans and see them as abominations. They capture them and put them in containment centers where they devise experiments with various deviant purposes. So we have a culture that is dealing with the ‘others’, aliens, and it is not a proud moment in fictional human history, but which has some parallels in the real world.

Lana and Max, the first generation heroes, are witches who are being hunted by a group called the Purity Warriors, and by magical people who chose the dark side, the Dark Uncanny. They decide to halt their desperate escape at a small town which they, along with other first generation virus survivors, will turn into a community called New Hope. But this final book is the story of Lana and Max’s daughter, Fallon Swift, known far and wide as The One. And she is a refreshingly down-to-earth female heroine even though she is trained by her own Merlin and her path to power resembles the Arthurian legends (but this Arthur is a girl/woman). This final book in the trilogy, The Rise of Magicks is full of war and of love. This time Duncan and Fallon are grown-ups, no longer teens, and if you were frustrated that they each went their own way at the end of Book 2, then you will find it was worth the wait. While these are not the great American novel(s) they are an entertaining and addictive read delivered by a really talented, and very prolific, writer.

December 2019 Book List

December 2019 Book List

I decided not to put together a book list for December, although I may do that later when life slows down. But here are links to lists of the best books of 2019.

New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/books/notable-books.html

Amazon

https://smile.amazon.com/article/twib/best-books-2019.html

Publisher’s Weekly

https://best-books.publishersweekly.com/pw/best-books/2019