Dam begins to break on ridiculous Big Lie — even in GOP circles

Biden came out swinging against Trump on January 6th, which enraged the former president, but something notable happened. Few Republicans stood up for Trump. Many Republicans tried the delicate balance of condemning the insurrection attempt on January 6th but not the guy responsible for it by propagating the Big Lie. It seems some have finally had enough.

GOP Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) was fed up with Trump’s ego when he appeared on This Week. He said what every non-cultish person already knew: "the [2020] election was fair, as fair as we have seen."

This was followed by Mitt Romney, who will always stand up for what’s right--after someone else does it first:

Then Senator Kevin Cramer, Senator John Thune, and Senator Shelley Capito backed him. Even Trumpy Senator Ron Johnson said Trump lost---although he said it in private and was caught on tape.

I'm not giving much props to Mitch McConnell, who immediately condemned the Big Lie last year, but is happy to capitalize on the conspiracy to support state-level voting restrictions that he believes will help Republicans. Anything to hold on to power, I suppose.

Then I watched a Fox person pile on:

Everyone with the slightest degree of common sense knows Trump can’t handle losing. He said the Emmy’s were rigged; he said the popular vote in 2016 was rigged; and he even said Ted Cruz’s Iowa caucus victory was rigged. How you rig a caucus when the people are publicly counted in front of everyone remains unclear, but this was never supposed to make sense. No one ever explained who was doing the rigging, or how millions of ballots were fraudulent for Biden yet picked Republicans in all the down-ballot races.

Yet instead of believing that the guy who claims to get tweets from Korean War parents is lying, Republicans expect us to believe that all the poll workers, Republican state legislators, the media, Republican governors, Bill Barr, election officials, and all of the judges who threw out more than 60 fake cases--including the ones who were appointed by Trump--were all in a giant conspiracy to help Joe Biden beat Trump. The GOP leaders were so terrified of Trump they actually tried to make this plausible, at great cost to their reputations. Shame, however, is something you need to dispense with if you want to be a Republican official or pundit these days.

The GOP is turning on Trump’s Big Lie, but not because they suddenly got patriotic. These guys aren’t doing it because they want to save Democracy, but because, in Kilmeade’s own words, if “we simply look back and tell our people don’t vote because there’s cheating going on, then we’re going to put ourselves in a huge disadvantage.”

He’s right. The Big Lie may soothe Trump’s ego, but if the people he picks in the mid-terms lose and are told it was rigged, his cult-like followers will wonder what’s the point of voting. The only turnout depressed by the Big Lie is Trump’s own people. It’s a lose-lose proposition for Trump, but he’s too arrogant and dumb to change course. He all but said at an unofficial campaign stop that he’s going to run on his 2020 Election loss because that gets the “biggest applause” at his (increasingly sparsely-attended) rallies.

As Trump begins to lose steam, Republican leaders are finally beginning to break ranks. Trump’s cult seems to be open to following other authoritarian leaders, who Republican politicians hope next time won’t be as selfish and self-destructive.

How the Republican fight against high-speed rail in Florida exposes their grift

Florida is uniquely configured for a high-speed rail line. Major cities are at each corner of our vast state, and it's not practical to fly, so you must drive. Florida is essentially a bastion, with only one highway going in and out: Interstate 95, which is often backed up. In a hurricane, we are told not to even use the interstate unless absolutely necessary because it will inevitably become clogged.

After decades of ignoring citizen's initiatives and rejecting federal funds for a high-speed rail, a private company called All Aboard Florida has developed a high-speed rail line called Brightline. The company is so confident of success in Florida, it has poured billions of dollars into linking South Florida to Orlando and beyond. Right now, it only has one small line between Miami and West Palm Beach, which according to the CEO, ran at capacity with three times the number of passengers expected. The rail line has temporarily suspended service due to the pandemic.

Currently, Brightline executives are in negotiations with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to extend its line from Orlando to Tampa. This was the route of the federally funded planned high-speed rail line 11 years ago that former governor Rick Scott killed. Disney has also asked for a stop in Disney Springs, and is willing to pony up a handsome sum for it. Opponents, however, have made a special effort to ensure Brightline can't go any further. FDOT has given Brightline only until July 31 of this year to reach a lease agreement on the state-owned land set aside for rail, or the project to Tampa will be killed. Most outrageous, however, are the onerous terms imposed.

FDOT has demanded a long list of terms for Brightline to fulfill. At the top of the list is the requirement that Brightline conduct a study to figure out how many cars will be taken off of Central Florida's toll roads … and then punish the train for it.

A privately owned and funded company, Brightline must also agree to a method for compensating the state and the authority for lost toll revenues.

That's right. The rail line has to somehow figure out how many cars won't be using the toll roads, and then pony up the supposed difference to the Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX). It was the very first two bullets in FDOT's letter to Brightline:

  • Agree that Brightline will submit a ridership and toll diversion study and analysis with updated traffic and methodology and documentation acceptable to CFX and Florida's Turnpike Enterprise;
  • Agree to the method that will be used for Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX) and the Department to recover any loss of toll revenue due to the construction and operation of the Brightline system.

Think about how damned stupid that is. You might ask yourself how that is even legal.

Just keep in mind that this is Florida.

Our governor, Ron DeSantis, recently signed a law that punishes private companies like Twitter and Facebook for banning political candidates on their own platform—no matter what they say or do. (If your tech company, however, happens to own a theme park in Florida, you are exempted.) Even more recently, he signed a law that will require students and professors to register their political views with the state. As you can see, the Constitution and rule of law is pretty fluid in my home state when the GOP is allowed to run rampant.

It's bad enough to extort money from a private rail company to a toll road organization. Yet what's even worse is who will actually be getting that money.

If you live in Central Florida, you are most likely aware of the decades-long corruption at CFX. In 2013, a grand jury investigation found a "culture of corruption" at the authority involving gifts, campaign donations, bribery, and secret meetings. Then-governor Scott's pick for board chair, Scott Batterson, is still in prison for giving out millions in contracts to companies that agreed to hire his buddies.

The authority was originally created decades ago to pay for roads connecting Orlando to the coast, and once the roads were paid off, it was supposed to have been disbanded. That never happened. Tolls are still being collected, and the authority has grown into a behemoth. The millions in tolls collected goes to reconfigure existing roads and directly to the agency itself—but never to the community. The authority has high costs for lobbyists and marketing to ensure that it can continue the grift, along with the exorbitant salaries of its members. Asking a high-speed rail line to compensate for this is beyond the pale.

Yet this has been just one of many unnecessary roadblocks put forth. Republican leaders in several red counties, like Martin County and Indian River County, have so far sued to stop any expansion of Brightline, laughably claiming that they are concerned about safety. Indian River County spent $3.8 million of taxpayer funds in legal expenses since 2014, and even tried to appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the train. Donors from Indian River Shores, one of the wealthiest cities in Florida, donated over $200,000 for the effort. Since "safety" is their supposed reasoning for opposing the rail line, on June 2 Brightline offered to pay over $31 million in safety improvements (additional gates, signs, horns, etc.) if Indian River County agrees to stop suing.

Brightline Map Planned route will connect Miami to Orlando to Tampa

Like everything else in American society, public transportation is seen through an ideological lens. Democrats push hard for high-speed rail funding, and liberal congressional leaders are demanding it be part of the infrastructure package because it has proven to "dramatically improve our environment, reduce inequity, and help grow cities and sustain vibrant downtowns across the nation." The positive impact on the environment is backed up by the International Energy Agency (IEA) that reports rail carries 8% of the world's passengers and 7% of freight, yet only accounts for just 2% of transport energy use.

Republicans, on the other hand, have a long history of hating high-speed rail. They decry it as "socialist," just like they do anything else that could help the average citizen. One of the most disingenuous and dumbest things George Will has ever written was that the goal of rail is to secretly modify people's behavior toward communist "collectivism." You see, cars can go anywhere, but trains can't. With that impermeable logic, I guess airplanes and ships are communist as well.

In reality, Republicans oppose rail because they get much of their campaign contributions from oil and gas companies, which have a strong interest in keeping us car dependent. Same goes with car manufacturers, which tend to be very loyal to the GOP. If you have any doubt, look no further than Toyota, which has defiantly donated more money than any other company to support members of Congress who voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election results.

Sadly, people have been conditioned to accept traffic as an inevitable part of life. You have no other options. I love visiting Tampa from Orlando, but I don't ever go unless I absolutely have to. A rail line would make sense. In fact, land has already been set aside thanks to former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, who is a Democratic House representative today.

In 2000, after years of conservative politicians in Florida refused to even entertain the idea of high-speed rail, the voters of this state forced them to act. They voted for a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment that required the state to establish a high-speed rail corridor connecting the five largest urban areas. Instead of listening to the will of the people, the GOP legislature and then-Gov. Jeb Bush put forth another amendment to cancel out the first one—because that's how government works here.

A decade later, President Obama offered Florida billions to build a high-speed rail line from Orlando to Tampa. There was absolutely no downside to this. The federal government would have picked up almost all of the cost, with the little bit remaining likely picked up by private contractors. It was win-win. Yet Rick Scott shocked everyone by killing it outright. Scott owed his political fortune to the Koch brothers, oil barons who founded an entire organization—the ironically named Reason Foundation—to fight against any kind of "socialist" rail lines. This foundation has a long track record of showing up with biased experts and studies every time a community looked into high-speed rail to help shoot it down.

In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker rejected $800 million in federal funding to build a rail line between Milwaukee and Madison, even though it would have fully been paid for. Gov. John Kasich turned away $400 million for a line that would have connected Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland. Coincidentally, the Koch brothers donated the maximum amount allowed to Kasich's campaign and $43,000 to Walker's campaign via the Koch Industries PAC. However, this paled in comparison to the amount of help they got from the Koch's super PAC, Americans for Prosperity, which can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money.

So Rick Scott rejected the federal funds with absolutely no study committees, no ridership studies, no waiting for construction bids, and certainly not listening to bipartisan leadership in Orlando and Tampa begging for him to just accept the money, Scott claimed he was opposed to government spending, even though the money wouldn't go back to the government coffers—it went to New York and California for their projects.

Now, once again, Florida is front and center for Biden's effort to drag our state and nation into the 21st century. Pete Buttigieg outlined why Florida is the prime candidate for high-speed rail, and is proposing an expansive infrastructure package that Florida leaders would be stupid not to take.

Just a reminder that our governor is Ron DeSantis.

It is highly unlikely that our Republican government will accept any funds to help along the high-speed rail initiative in Florida. Yet Democrats do have options. One thing the Democratic House can do right now is make it easier for high-speed rail companies to get private investment. Thanks to conservative efforts on the national stage, it is extremely expensive and difficult for private companies like Brightline to borrow money for these kinds of projects. Democrats have a real opportunity to break the logjam, and a very limited-time opportunity to do so.

If certain Democratic members can get past their obsession with bipartisanship, progress can be made. I say that because one party is ideologically opposed to technological progress, and I'm happy to provide examples:

  • America's lighting industry supported legislation to put more energy efficient incandescents on the market, but conservatives somehow made this a political issue about freedom to use energy-wasting bulbs.
  • Americans are decades behind all other industrial nations when it comes to renewable energy, which not only has cost us valuable jobs and technology, but is causing catastrophic environmental consequences as well.
  • Meanwhile, treatment of various injuries and
  • diseases have been stymied by baseless Republican opposition to fetal tissue and embryonic stem cell research.

Just imagine how far along America could be without the Republican party.

In China, there are 40,000 kilometers of high-speed rail. In America, before Brightline, there was essentially zero. (Technically, Amtrak's Acela line has portions that are high speed.) Despite having the necessary infrastructure in place and the obvious need, America has fallen so far back that we are now two generations behind in rail—and we will likely never catch up. While every other nation upgraded to high-speed rail decades ago, the GOP ensured our trains stayed mired in 1950s technology. Now, even the high-speed rail we are fighting to get is outdated, while Asian and European nations are experimenting with magnetic levitation. Maglev trains can go between 250-500 mph. We'd settle for Amtrak trains that can go faster than 40 mph.

Like the mask debate, a good percentage of Florida Republicans want to oppose something beneficial only because progressives point out we need it. Yet despite their rhetoric, they know that high-speed rail is not only necessary, but profitable. That's why there are so many private investors, including one Rick Scott.

Brightline Milestone

In May 2021, Brightline announced a major milestone, the company has passed the halfway mark for construction on its extension to Orlando. Brightline, the on...

Here are 11 ways to beat Mitch McConnell — even if Democrats don't take back the Senate

Ideally, if Democrats do their job up to and on Jan. 5, we will win both of Georgia's Senate seats, and secure a bare majority in both chambers of Congress. Coupled with President-elect Joe Biden, this small trifecta means, at the very least, that our government can still function. This is a big deal, since certain Republican senators have indicated that they plan on indefinitely blocking every single one of Biden's Cabinet nominees. Biden shouldn't waste any precious time trying to get the Republican Party to do the right thing, such as respecting the will of the voters. If he wants to get anything done, he is going to have to do it alone.

Hopefully, Democrats will take both Senate seats in Georgia, as this would be the easiest path for governance. However, it isn't at all necessary for Biden to get things done. There is a critical loophole that would prevent Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell from blocking votes—as long as Democrats are willing to use it. There's also plenty of things that Biden can make happen, and not a single Republican is required to participate. Extremists rule the opposition, so we must continue to rethink the old adage that bipartisanship is a good thing; the other side—either through sabotage or cowardice—is hellbent on undermining democracy and going all in with the politics of destruction.

But what if the Democrats don't win both Senate seats in Georgia? McConnell retains control of his chamber, and blocks all legislation and all nominees, leading to at least two years of solid obstruction. Game over, right?


The Senate Majority Leader is a made-up position. It's not in the Constitution, or even in the Senate rules: The power of the Majority Leader is based solely on Senate norms and traditions. Since Republicans have decided those no longer concern them, then Democrats aren't bound by them, either, which presents a serious opportunity for the Biden administration. Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution clearly states that the vice president shall be "President of the Senate," but have no vote unless the votes are equally divided.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is also the president-elect of the Senate.When the vice president is not presiding over the Senate, the Senate will choose a president pro tempore to preside in her absence. Tradition has junior members of the majority party presiding, but the president of the Senate can take control anytime. If McConnell refuses to bring up legislation, or refuses to hold hearings or votes on Cabinet or judicial nominees, then Vice President Kamala Harris has the legal authority to take control. She would then decide what comes up for a vote.

This would come in handy in a situation where, say, McConnell decides to go with the Ted Cruz plan to block all of Biden's Cabinet nominees. While the overwhelming majority of Republicans would back McConnell, sadly, not all of them would. A few, like Utah's Mitt Romney, know that not having qualified experts in top positions during a pandemic or a foreign policy crisis is dangerous. It isn't typically in the Democrats' nature to play this kind of hardball, but we've got a nation to repair—a nation we all know the GOP is now hellbent on destroying.

As far as appointments go, Biden has a lot of options, as helpfully outlined by Washington Monthly. Obama paved the way for the appointment of nearly unlimited policy czars, and Biden also has the ability to appoint "acting" positions for more than 1,200 agency positions. (Trump managed to do it for other positions, as well.) Perhaps most interestingly, Biden can use the adjournment clause, in Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution, to force numerous recess appointments. This technique would simply require the speaker of the House to propose a lengthy adjournment, of which the Senate can either accept or disagree. However, if the Senate disagrees, the refusal would constitute a "disagreement"—which means Biden gets to decide. This technique has never been used, but again, if the GOP is going to obstruct everything they can, Democrats better be ready to fight back—hard.

As far as legislation goes, if we lose the Senate, and can't get one Republican to do the right thing, there are plenty of things Biden can do by himself without Congress. The one thing Donald Trump did well was show us all how much a president can get done without Congress.

It's time to put on those aviators and play hardball, Joe.

The executive branch carries a lot of unilateral power, which presidents have been increasingly less hesitant to use: Think executive orders, federal regulations, and national security decision directives. Importantly, Biden has already promised on his first day to hit the ground running—without waiting for Congress. Here's a sampling of actions he might take.

COVID-19: Biden has promised to fight the COVID-19 pandemic by immediately appointing a "national supply chain commander" and establishing a "pandemic testing board" upon assuming office. It is very likely he won't be picking his children for any of those roles. Incoming White House chief of staff Ron Klain coordinated the federal government's response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak, which is good, since Trump was keen on pushing out experts. Biden will bring the experts back, and put scientists back in charge, instead of political hacks. This is critical, since the CDC and FDA have suffered so much under Trump. This new leadership will standardize guidance and base it on facts. Biden could and should reinstate the pandemic response team that Trump dissolved, which would improve the federal coordination in the fight against COVID-19. With new leadership, Biden could work with the CDC, and even the military, to develop a national distribution network for the vaccines. He could use the powers of the Defense Production Act to manufacture supplies and equipment—which Trump didn't want to do.

Voter Suppression: Bill Barr's DOJ was not at all interested in fighting voter suppression. You can bet that whomever Biden picks won't have that issue. However, there is one thing that Biden can do immediately that would be a huge victory against the GOP's war on voting. The entire point of Republican voter ID laws is to make voting inaccessible to thousands of poor voters. That's because voters of color are the least likely to have a driver's license, given that they are more likely to live in urban areas which have adequate public transportation, and unable to afford a car. Furthermore, tracking down the documentation to obtain a driver's license can be time-consuming and expensive. Other valid IDs, such as passports, are even harder to get. However, giving people the option to add a photo to their Social Security card, which most people have anyway, could ensure that they're not barred from voting in the red states with strict voter ID requirements where concealed carry licenses are fine, but student IDs typically are not accepted. This is an easy directive with no congressional approval requirement.

Paris Climate Accord: Biden already stated he will bring the U.S. back into the Accord as one of the first orders of business. This pact is an agreement among nations to reduce emissions. Biden does not need the Senate to do so, because the Accord is an executive agreement; Biden just needs to send a letter to the United Nations stating his intent to rejoin. Furthermore, Biden can reverse the more than 125 environmental rules that Donald Trump overturned by fiat, such as rules on energy efficiency, oil exploration, and use of biofuels. There are other accords and agreements that Biden can rejoin on his own if he chooses to, but this is arguably the most important one.

Postal Banking System: North Dakota has a very popular public bank, but nowhere else in the U.S. does a government-run bank compete with private banking. Fortunately, President-elect Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders convened a task force to look into the creation of a public banking option, set up through the U.S. Postal Service and the Federal Reserve, for low-income and middle-income families. Biden can set parts of such a system up without any legislation, such as USPS launching their own refillable, prepaid debit cards.

Student Loans: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters that "President Biden can undo this debt—can forgive $50,000 of (student) debt—the first day he becomes president. You don't need Congress. All you need is the flick of a pen." Over 90% of the student debt in this nation is owed to the federal government. Biden can either forgive or eliminate the interest. Student loan debt is the only debt that you can't discharge through bankruptcy, thanks to a 2005 law. Educational debt is a massive burden to millions of people who are currently paying at least 10% of their income every month, and will for at least a decade. Forgiving it can provide much-needed relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Overtime: The Trump Administration's Department of Labor allows companies to screw workers out of overtime, simply by classifying workers as managers. Dollar General is the worst offender, but there are plenty of others. Most likely, the workers you see helping you in these stores were classified as managers just so they can be forced to work extra hours without overtime pay. One ex-CEO of Dollar General faced no less than four class-action lawsuits over wage theft. That CEO became very rich exploiting this loophole. He is now an incumbent senator fighting to save his seat in Georgia—Mr. David Perdue himself.

Immigration: Biden still needs to work with Congress on pathways to citizenship, but he can do so much in this area without the Senate. This is an area where Trump was at his cruelest. Immigration in this nation has been virtually shut down, and refugees were limited to only 15,000 per year. Biden has already promised to raise that by over eight times the current amount. He has also promised to set up a task force to reunite those missing children lost under the Trump administration, and end the child-caging that Trump will forever be remembered for. Biden also vowed there would be no more Dreamer deportations, Muslim bans, workplace raids, or child separations.

Affordable Care Act:Trump did everything he could to sabotage Obama's signature achievement, but Biden can reverse much of the damage on his own. He can extend the enrollment period, increase advertisement spending, and repeal the IRS rule that workers must accept a health care plan from their employer, no matter how bad, if one is offered. Biden can also help states create their own plans—something Trump was not at all interested in—and lower prescription drug prices.

Cannabis: A Florida doctor prescribed opium to a friend of mine, who suffered tremendously in the hospital before she died. Cannabis would have been a better drug, but that was not a possibility. Such is the insanity of keeping cannabis a Schedule 1 drug, which means it is classified alongside heroin. There is some disagreement between legal scholars, but many, such as a professor Sam Kamin of the University of Denver's Sturm College of Law, assertthat the president-elect can unilaterally reschedule cannabis through executive powers—he just can't deschedule it entirely. Rescheduling would make things easier for marijuana businesses, so for example, they could at least deduct business expenses with the IRS. While Biden can't deschedule cannabis—making it legal—on his own, he could order his Health and Human Services to run tests on the medical value of cannabis, which would help with descheduling down the road. He could also order the DOJ to not focus on prosecuting cannabis-related offenses.

Drug Prices: Two words: drug patents. The feds issue drug patents to companies, giving them exclusive rights to sell drugs for several years, at any price, before allowing generic versions to be manufactured. Biden has the option of "march-in rights," meaning that if a drug is being sold at an outrageous price point—which is more common than it should be—the government can seize the patent and issue it to generic manufacturers, in exchange for those manufacturers selling that drug at a reasonable rate. Although this would help the elderly on fixed incomes the most, it would also benefit everyone. Republicans would scream, but who the hell cares?

There's plenty more, such as restoring government unions, breaking up monopolies, utilizing municipal lending instruments for better access to loans, and enacting Wall Street reform—just to name a few. The point is that Joe Biden can do a lot on his own, and if Georgia's runoff goes sideways, he'd better get ready to do 'em.

Republicans will complain about everything on this list, and whine that Biden is doing things without them. So what? The American people no longer care what the excuses are for not getting things done. Trump went so far as to redirect benchmarked funding toward his own projects, and blatantly violate established law—such as the Hatch Act. He even disregarded court rulings, as with the Census and DACA. When Congress refused to give him the people he wanted for his Cabinet, he made them "acting in the role of" and dared somebody to do something about it.

Biden doesn't have to go as far as breaking the law, but breaking from norms and traditions to get his agenda through? You'd better believe it.

We need all hands on deck to win the Georgia Senate runoffs on Jan. 5, and you can volunteer from wherever you are. Click here to see the Georgia volunteer activities that work best for you.

Trump's Nazification of the GOP is why there's serious discussion of killing off the 'unfit'

"Very fine people" at the deadly 2017 Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Under Donald Trump, the Republican Party is racing toward a transformation that mimics the greatest evil of the 20th century. Long before the Nazis fully engaged with genocidal murder against the Jews, there were persecutions of people deemed "unfit." These were people whom Adolf Hitler’s extremists arbitrarily deemed insufficiently able to contribute to the greater German society. They included the infirm, people with learning disabilities, the mentally ill, those suffering from epilepsy, the physically disabled, and those struggling with alcohol issues.

Then the Nazis moved to the next stage; they worked with political and medical authorities to divide communities between who they deemed as the “fit” and “unfit” members.  The arbitrary classification system would serve a deadly purpose.

This ultimately led to the final stage: the systematic, targeted killing of those labeled as a burden. At that point, the Nazis had groomed the German population by getting a little bit worse every single day—just enough to normalize the inhumanity. By the time the Nazis reached this stage, the populace had gotten so used to the cruelties, it seemed like murder of “the weak” was simply the next logical step. They had justified it in their minds.

The concept of social Darwinism and arbitrary human classification is based upon Friedrich Nietzsche's Übermensch theory of superhumans. These are people not impeded by the needs of others deemed inferior. The weaker humans—characterized as the burdens of society—are to be left to fend for themselves. Hitler used this theory as the ideological foundation for his belief in a master race. Another person known to borrow heavily from this theory is the prophet of American conservatism, author Ayn Rand.

Born, raised, and educated in Russia, Rand’s entire philosophy is centered around the concept of individual supremacy and radical free market fundamentalism. Rand and her ilk applied the Übermensch theory to capitalism, which justifies the wealthy’s belief that they have an absolute right to plunder. She called it ”the virtue of selfishness.” Her philosophy was simple: The weak are weak and should be taken advantage of, because it is the natural order of things. Therefore, society needs to focus only on developing the strong, and allow the weak to suffer or die.

Rand’s theory did not spare anyone, even children. Two years before her death in 1982, she appeared on Phil Donahue’s eponymous talk show to explain why it was wrong for our government to ever consider the needs of “subnormal” children and the “handicapped.” I encourage you to watch the whole clip. In case you can’t view it, here’s a glimpse of the beginning.

AYN RAND: “The newest proposals of having special, millions spent on subnormal children and on the handicapped. You are getting the so-called "needing" [school] buses is the attempt to bring everybody to the level of the handicapped. [...]

But it includes the mentally retarded which is the subnormal, which is the children who are unable to learn, so that at the end of spending thousands or millions of taxpayers’ money, you're left with a half-idiot who MAY learn to read and write. MAY.”

She goes on to explain how she values some human lives over others … to applause.


Ayn Rand isn’t the sole driving force behind the right-wing’s belief in their superiority over others, but she is probably the most direct and honest about it—and the Grand Old Party loves her for it. Rand’s brand of social Darwinism can be found in the right-wing support of eliminating social safety nets for the poor in order to support massive tax breaks and subsidies for the top 1% of the wealthiest Americans. It’s this sort of mindset that forces the poor in this nation to fight for the crumbs that rarely trickle-down.

Randian capitalism hit the mainstream in the 1980s. It was the Reagan era, when a new crop of right-wing devotees adopted the principle that good governance, which is supposed to work toward the collective good, was no longer an ideal. Conservatives during this timeframe focused heavily on deregulation for big business, giving tax cuts to the richest Americans, and ending antitrust protections against monopolies. Ever since, Republicans have retooled their party to only serve the interests of the ultra-rich. Their destructive policies on everything—from education, health care, and shifting the tax burden away from the wealthy—has made U.S. income inequality the highest it’s been since the Census started tracking it over a half-century ago.

You would be hard-pressed to find any Republican today who doesn’t speak fondly of Ayn Rand. White House officials like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pay homage to her ideals. Former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said he got into politics because of her. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul was even named after her by his father, former presidential candidate Ron Paul. But it’s Donald Trump—infamously known for hating to read—who said that The Fountainhead was one of his favorite books of all time, because it glorified the alpha male capitalist who had no regard for human consequence.

Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump also subscribes to the theory of inherent biological superiority. His father, Fred Trump, a white supremacist who marched with the Klan, instilled in his son the idea that their family’s success was genetic, according to Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio. According to D’Antonio, the elder Trump told his children that he and his wife were superior people, and produced superior offspring. To be fair to Donald Trump, a lot of autocrats also subscribe to this idea. The Koch brothers were taught by their father, a Nazi-sympathizer, that plutocrats deserved the right to rule, even at the expense of democracy, because they were naturally superior.

Donald Trump, who idolized his father, took his lessons to heart. He repeatedly tells people that he has “good genes”; he primarily consults with himself over anyone else because he believes he has such a great brain. Hilariously, Trump even claims his orange skin tone is the result of "superior" genes.

Democrats, of course, hold views that are the polar opposite to Rand’s ideology. Our values stem from our unshakable belief in equality and opportunity. We don’t subscribe to people being genetically superior or inferior, or makers and takers, or fit or unfit. We don’t see any class of people that doesn’t deserve basic human rights, or shouldn’t be treated with a humane level of decency, even though our political foes might label them with terms such as “vermin” or “an infestation.” Democrats see value in the lives of all humans, even our enemies.

Even though many Democrats have been hyper-aware of this difference between our parties’ two philosophies, it has typically manifested itself in our respective parties’ priorities in legislation. The Republicans would always ignore the needs of the poor, the sick, the uninsured: the weak. The Democrats would insist on fighting for them, even if it meant a slightly higher tax burden, preferably on the wealthy. It worked this way for years—until Trump came to power.

Although the modern conservative has always courted the impoverished, bitter, uneducated populace with xenophobic and racist dog whistles, it was because their purposefulness lay in their numbers: they were useful idiots to the plutocracy. At some point, a populist politician was bound to come along who took that hatred to heart. Now, within Trump’s party, hatred is no longer the means to achieving its goal, but rather, it is the goal itself.

Senior White House advisers Stephen Miller (L) and Steve Bannon step off Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, on March 5, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM        (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
White supremacists Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon exiting Air Force One

For most Republicans, the intention was never to turn the Party over to the unabashed racists and Nazis, but rather to court them and use them. Trump has flipped this script on its head. The people in the White House who are closest to Trump—the ones manipulating him—are people like Stephen Miller, who is working for genocide to become a reality.

Miller is behind the worst of the worst impulses of the Trump administration, including abandoning the United States’ longstanding legal practice to not deport sick children. Trump ordered critically ill migrant children, such as kids with cancer, to be deported—even if it meant death. Immigrants who escaped here with their families to run from hit squads were ordered back without regard for their circumstances, only to be tortured and killed upon return to their home country. The Trump administration even ordered immigration courts to take down all CDC coronavirus posters to stop the spread of the virus—the only possible reason being to encourage the spread of the disease among those deemed a burden.

Letting immigrants die was beyond cruel, as was tearing babies from their mothers and putting them in cages indefinitely, yet half of America just shrugged as it happened. Trump is still seriously being considered as a presidential contender, and most Republicans still haven’t abandoned him. In fact, Trump has effectively taken the Party over. The worst people, now in high places within Trump’s new GOP, have pushed Republican ideology ever closer to Nazi ideals.

It’s no secret that the people most in danger of dying from COVID-19 are the sick, the elderly, and the infirm. Conservative pundits also gleefully point out, incorrectly, that the virus is primarily a problem in Democratic areas. Yet I cannot imagine any Republican choice for president in this century—Mitt, Dubya, or McCain—coming out in favor of letting the virus ”wash over the masses.” I can’t fathom any of them suggesting that the sick and elderly should die to save the stock market. A nation’s economy is supposed to serve the people, not the other way around, and no one should ever be asked to die for Wall Street.

It wasn’t so long ago that the party of George W. Bush was outraged over Terri Schiavo, a woman in a persistent vegetative state whose husband wanted to remove her from life support. It has only been a handful of years since the Republican rallying cry was “All Lives Matter.” It doesn’t surprise me how far Republicans have fallen, but it does amaze me how quickly Trump has turned them.

Yet that is exactly where we are now. Trump’s reelection and the GOP’s hold on power is so critical in their minds, they are demanding sacrifices be made.

Of course, the sacrifice these Republican leaders always speak of is from the weak and the poor. It is never their families who are asked to give up their money, their resources, or their lives.

Last month, White House National Economic Council chairman Larry Kudlow claimed in an interview that “The cure can’t be worse than the disease, and we’re gonna have to make some difficult trade-offs.” Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said on live television that “lots of grandparents” are willing to “take a chance” on their survival for the good of the economy. Brit Hume of Fox News said it’s “entirely reasonable” to let family members die for the stock market.

The nation’s billionaires, along with other members of our elite, who have the luxury of being able to socially distance while making money, are almost unanimously in favor of getting people back to work. After all, they are dependent on the workers making them money if they want to keep their lifestyle intact. Who cares if health officials say it’s unsafe? If workers die, they can be replaced.

I can’t believe they say things like this out loud:

“We’ll gradually bring those people back and see what happens. Some of them will get sick, some may even die, I don’t know. “Dick Kovacevich, former CEO of Wells Fargo

“The damages of keeping the economy closed as it is could be worse than losing a few more people.”Tom Golisano, the founder and chairman of payroll processor Paychex Inc.

Putting aside the immorality that making money for rich people should take precedence over a public health emergency, the very concept of allowing vast numbers of Americans to die to “save the economy” is completely illogical. By relaxing social restrictions too soon, the death rate will skyrocket. Our extremely fragile healthcare system will then collapse, and more businesses will crumble. Ironically, opening prematurely won't just kill more people, it will cause even more devastating economic harm.

At least one billionaire, Mark Cuban, was honest about billionaires’ intentions: "Ignore anything someone like me might say … lives are at stake.”

For all of the screaming about individual freedom that the right does, including attacks on our party for being “socialist,” I find it ironic that the Trumpian right-wing is now demanding that people submit to death for the state: the expendable workers, the sick, the grandparents and great-grandparents who have already lived their lives. All should sacrifice to serve for Trump’s reelection bid.

That’s the Republican plan, anyway. This is a serious discussion that’s worth having, we are being told. Many state and local leaders have fought strongly against opening too soon, but others are caving to the pressure to open up immediately. Although many will die, the Republicans will believe they have protected the business class elite—our “superiors.” The Nazification of the GOP will be complete.


Republican governors are caving to their party’s demand to reopen, the consequences for their vulnerable constituents be damned. If that’s not an indication of how far our country has fallen since Trump, nothing is. It turns out that Trump openly mocking the disabled wasn’t the basement low of his party, but the ceiling. The trajectory of where the Republican Party is headed is far, far worse.

I didn’t think we’d fall this far this fast. I can’t believe I’m literally debating—with Trump supporters in my neighborhood—the value of letting people live during this outbreak. How the fuck are we still having serious discussions about Trump’s electability?

Serious discussions of sacrificing the weak weren’t acceptable too long ago; I don’t even want to think what might be considered acceptable four years from now, if the right-wing is still clinging to power.

This terrifying stance should scare you to do everything you can to make sure this Nazified version of the GOP is thrown out of power this year. Otherwise, you or your family might be subjected to the "next stage." Right now, the right is asking for voluntary sacrifices of the old and weak, but history shows it's just a few atrocities away from being made mandatory.

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Trump has already 'joked' about defying 2020 election results. Here's what could happen if he refuses to concede

Have you ever considered what happens when Donald Trump loses in November? One year ago, his former attorney Michael Cohen testified before Congress that Trump would not accept electoral defeat this upcoming election. Sadly, he’s probably right: If there’s one thing Trump has been consistent about, it’s that he narcissistically refuses to accept reality whenever it’s in any way negative toward him. This is why Trump has repeatedly, and ridiculously, insisted that he won the popular vote in 2016. In his very first meeting with Congressional leaders, he told them he won the popular vote because “3 to 5 million people voted illegally, and I’m not even counting California.”

Recent events have made Trump even more reckless than “usual.” His impeachment acquittal by Republican senators, despite overwhelming evidence, seemingly proved Trump’s own adage that he could murder someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose any political support. Right after the vote, when Maine Sen. Susan Collins’ gave a jaw-dropping justification that Trump had “learned his lesson,” Trump decided to shed any pretense of caring about democratic norms, and fully embraced his goal of complete authoritarian corruption.

Trump has turned the Department of Justice into his own personal political hit squad. His Treasury Department, which refused to turn over anything to Congress, even under subpoena, quickly and illegally turned over private financial information on Joe Biden’s son. Trump has pushed out career public servants and replaced them with sycophants who place loyalty to him above the Constitution. Republican senators have willingly surrendered their power on just about everything, even allowing Trump to rewrite their budget through decree, and helped him pack the courts with unqualified toadies.

Many call this line of thinking paranoid, but that’s because they give Trump and his GOP allies too much credit. Election night has always been the one time that the Republicans have had to come face-to-face with reality. Unlike trickle-down economics or climate science, elections are straight math, no matter your preconceived view. You can’t challenge an election.Now that the checks and balances are gone, Trump is in a great position to steal the next election. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has done his part by refusing to allow any bills on election security to come up for a vote, while remaining silent as Trump openly calls for foreign hacking. It appears that voter suppression and gerrymandering are no longer enough. Yet even if all the dirty tricks fail, and Trump still manages to lose the election outright, Trump is very likely not going to step down.

Or so we thought.

As with so many other things, Trump is going to change that dynamic. There are many possible scenarios, but several have Trump likely calling the election for himself long before the votes are in. If the results are not breaking his way during the election, expect Trump to cry fraud. Washington Monthly put out a very plausible sequence of events of what might happen once this occurs. Trump would declare, probably through a tweet, that he is hearing “from a lot of people” that polling sites are “fixed” and “rigged” against him. After Trump claims fraud, the GOP leadership is almost certain to back him up. His chief bootlickers, like Sens. Ted Cruz and Lindsay Graham, will call for bogus investigations.

If the vote comes down to a state like Florida, where the GOP is in full control, they likely won’t certify the Democratic winner. Even if it came down to a purple state that refuses to fix the election, like Pennsylvania, recall that our constitution requires the current vice president to certify the election results. Mike Pence, who is the most submissive veep in our nation’s history, will not do this if Trump instructs him not to. The GOP has likely already calculated this, because in that event, the decision would go to the House of Representatives, where each state gets one vote. Since there are more GOP controlled states than Democratic ones, the victor would most assuredly be Trump.

The Senate has already proven they won’t do anything to stop him, and the Supreme Court is packed with Trump’s people, like Brett Kavanaugh, who warned that he would not be impartial after his confirmation hearing.

So then what?  What if Trump loses the election, refuses to leave, and the GOP doesn’t make him? Can you imagine a scenario where Trump loses the popular vote AND the Electoral College, yet is still in office after a 5-4 vote in the Supreme Court? What would you do in this case? I am seriously asking YOU: Then what?

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I come home, read the daily dose of awful news from this administration, get angry, fire off a few posts, and then do something else to take my mind off of the political despair. But that is getting harder to do. Opinion writers tell me I’m being silly: Americans will never accept a dictatorship. Yet, for the most part, the populace has been staying silent. After all, it certainly doesn’t look like a dictatorship. We don’t have tanks rolling down the streets or violent militias patrolling neighborhoods—mostly, anyway. People still feel free to march and to protest, and we still have a free press where journalists don’t fear violent retribution—mostly, anyway.

Right now, Trump has merely “joked” about refusing to leave office—over two dozen times. Trumpian politicians are only recently starting to get more brazen, like introducing a book banning bill to imprison librarians. Trump’s promised government retribution for late night show mocking hasn’t started, nor has his unconstitutional declaration to end birthright citizenship. Although Trump says he can legally order the attorney general to do anything he wants (he can’t), and plans to go after Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler, and Mitt Romney, he hasn’t—yet. But all of that is bluster, right? We’ll be okay. Americans always are. Yet dictatorships don’t happen overnight.

If Trump remains in office after the next election, all of this will change. There will be absolutely nothing and nobody reigning him in. Meanwhile, Trump’s list of enemies, perceived and real, grows. As Americans, we have become more and more comfortable with his attacks on our Democratic institutions. We have become numb to his frequent attacks on his immigrant scapegoats and the free press.

We aren’t in a dictatorship yet, but it absolutely can and will happen here if we allow it, and sooner than you think. Right now, many Americans don’t want to speak out. They, like me, just want to go about their lives. The problem with that is if you wait until it gets bad enough to where you feel you have to speak out, only then will you realize speaking out will no longer be possible.

Consider this 2017 warning from Yale history professor Timothy Snyder.

The framers of the Constitution were worried that someone might come along who could be elected president who didn't have concern about the rule of law or about democracy. We are now in that situation.


Up until now, there is nothing in Mr. Trump's words or in his actions which would even suggest that he cares even a little bit about democracy or about the rule of law.


What I would say is that our institutions were set up for a moment just like this one, but they'll only protect us if we enliven them and if we support them.

You can watch Snyder’s full video below.

Authoritarian leaders like Trump count on two things: that you’ll despair, and that you’ll be quiet. Yet authoritarians can’t turn into dictators without a compliant populace. For me, becoming noncompliant means that my personal ban on discussing politics with friends, neighbors, and co-workers is over. I don’t have to verbally attack anyone to confront a blatant lie, but I will no longer be silent.

My “Christian” friends calling immigrants an infestation of MS-13 are on notice. How the hell is any of this Christian? Phony justifications by right-wing politicians for Trump’s plans to stay in office for a third term due to “lost time” will no longer be politely ignored.

I’m asking you, right now: What you are comfortable with doing, and what you are amenable to giving up? For me, it’s comfort. I can’t be upset that there aren’t mass protests in the streets if I’m not there myself. I can’t participate as long as I fear that one of my bosses or clients will see me. Not anymore.

There’s plenty of organizations to join or financially support that need help now, from Indivisible to Planned Parenthood to the ACLU, to name just a few. There’s even the main opposition party known as the Democrats, and the brave candidates who are risking everything to fight our slide into Trump’s tyranny. For far too long I have avoided getting too involved, because I feared it would interfere with my primary career. Those days are over.

Yes, I may anger some clients, and I may lose more than I gain, but I’d rather lose them than lose my country. The type of involvement needed, the kind of canvassing I need to participate in, and the speaking out that needs to happen will no longer allow me to hide. However, I feel if I don’t get involved now, it will only get worse. Trump has no trouble going after critics’ pensions, their families, and their income, using the courts and his executive powers to do so. Yet he has openly pined for the power of the dictators he fawns over—the ones who imprison their critics ... or worse. The more political power he is able to accrue, the more likely that may happen.

We need to stop him. Now. If you are in a government position, or even a military position, where you are being asked to do something that you know is wrong—such as permit or engage in corruption, or target dissent—please remember that dictatorships rely on our cooperation to survive. That cooperation can either be voluntary or coerced, but it has to happen in order for their plans to work. There may come a time you need to make a very difficult choice with real consequences. You don’t have to go along with something that is unjust just because you are expected to.

These are difficult times, but our nation has been through dark times before. There were always heroes who have pulled us through. Just look at Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. He showed us what a hero looks like, and has paid quite the price.

We are all soon going to face a test. We have a president who has turned his office into a cult of personality, who has repeatedly shown his disdain for the law, and who puts his personal interests above everything else. Is it any wonder that we are being prepared for the increasingly likely event that the president may declare martial law?

I ask everyone reading this to undergo the same uncomfortable self-examination. If Trump refuses to leave the White House, how much are you willing to sacrifice, and how much you are willing to tolerate? Our democracy depends on your answer.

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Republicans brought an 'academic' who faked his own fan to speak about gun violence in America. This Democratic senator called him out

For the past 20 years, Dr. John Lott, Jr. has been the go-to person from the educated elite class who the GOP has used to fight gun legislation. On Sept. 18, Americans were again subjected to this man as he testified at the Joint Economic Committee Hearing on Gun Violence in America. Lott has written multiple books with oh-so-scholarly titles such as “Obama's War on Jobs and Growth and What We Can Do Now to Regain Our Future,” and “At the Brink: Will Obama Push Us Over the Edge?” Most of his books, however, are about guns: "Straight Shooting,” “The Bias Against Guns,” and simply, “War on Guns.

Lott’s pro-gun conclusions fly in the face of the body of respected research, which is exactly why he still gets invited to make the Republican Party’s arguments against common sense legislation to help fight the nation’s rampaging gun epidemic. By now, you’d think they’d find someone else. After the exchange below, it looks like they’ll finally have to.

Read the transcript. It’s beautiful:

SEN. MARTIN HEINRICH (D-NM): Dr. Lott, who is Mary Rosh?

JOHN LOTT, JR.: Uhhhhh ...well … it was basically the family email account that we had … basically, based on the names of my four sons at that time. It was an account the family used.

HEINRICH: Madam Chair, I would ask unanimous consent to enter an article into the record from the Washington Post called “Scholar Invents Fan To Answer His Critic.” And I’ll just read one quick quote from this article. Now this is under the name Mary Rosh, but it is speaking to various online publications and was, I believe, authored by Dr. Lott:

“I had him for a Ph.D.-level empirical methods class when he taught at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania back in the early 90s, well before he gained national attention, and I have to say he was the best professor I ever had.”

Does it show good judgement for a researcher to comment that way, with regard to your own research, under a name that is clearly not transparent? I won't use the word ‘fraudulent,’ but—

LOTT, JR.: First of all, I did not write that. It was a family account, and there was somebody else in my family who was responding to attacks that were on me, OK? So I don’t police everybody in my family when they go and do things like that, and I had members of my family who wrote a couple reviews on my books and other things like that. I'm not going to go into—

HEINRICH: You're quoted in this article as saying, “I probably shouldn't have done it."


No, he probably shouldn’t have done that.

It’s hard to say what’s worse—making up a fake student/fan to praise your work, or not manning up to it when called out by Congress, and blaming your wife and kids. That’s so … Trumpian.

There are, of course, two things that Republicans hate more than anything: truth and science. That’s because the GOP has a belief system that is a part of their identity, and any challenge to that belief system is therefore a challenge to that identity. Healthy people would change their beliefs when presented with facts, but the GOP—as we’ve seen clearly with this current president—twists reality to suit their beliefs. It’s why they use the phrase the ”truth is not the truth,” and call lies ”alternate facts.” This is also why the GOP hates research and has such utter contempt for higher education.  (Don’t go to college, kids.)

If something is science, if something is reality, count on the GOP to take the opposite position; whether it’s climate change, evolution, or the fact that in just the past decade, there have been 288 mass shootings at schools in the U.S., while the rest of the world—combined —has only had 27. America’s endless supply of easily-accessible assault rifles and refusal to do even the most basic of background checks are two problems that are extremely easy to solve—if we have the will to do so. Missouri Senator Roy Blunt this week refused to even allow a study of this issue, because again, the science and data would undoubtedly conflict with the GOP’s nonsensical beliefs.

There is one problem that comes up when Republicans to use science to argue for their beliefs. You can always find someone willing to shill for you, for sure, and for a price. Unfortunately for the GOP, that person will be John Lott, Jr., or someone like him.

If you wish to see the video, Media Matters has a clip:

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