Thom Hartmann

A new GOP 'big lie' plot is in the works

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Instead of an attempt to overturn the election by radicalized Donald Trump supporters, it was a choreographed attack staged by antifa provocateurs. Rather than an armed insurrection, it was a good-natured protest spoiled by a few troublemakers.
And instead of a deadly event that put the lives of hundreds of lawmakers, police officers and others at risk, the riot was no big deal at all.
A legion of conservative activists, media personalities and elected officials are seeking to rewrite the story of what happened at the Capitol on Jan. 6, hoping to undermine the clear picture of the attack that has emerged...
Six weeks after the attack, some are taking advantage of fading memories and unanswered questions to portray the riot in a different, more benign light....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

America mustn't let them get away with it.

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

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

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

It must stop. Now.

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

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

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

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

Trump launches bizarre attack over vaccine pause — as the right wing moves to weaponize doubt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump, of course, tripled down on the news.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is exactly what Republicans want.

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

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

Sabatoge that Democratic governor!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

American genocide for political purposes. Treason.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here's the truth about 'vaccine passports' — and the 'dangerous game' the right wing is playing

Marjorie Taylor Greene is characterizing vaccine passports as "Joe Biden's mark of the beast," so they must have some value. But we have to come up with a different name for them if we're going to get the conspiracy nuts…er…Republicans on board.

And that includes right-wing media. The headline in The Washington Post sums up today's health crisis: "The Dangerous Game [Fox News'] Tucker Carlson is Playing on Vaccines."

If our country is going to "open up" again in a way that preserves the lives and liberty of millions of Americans who've stayed virus-free so far, we're going to have to confront the GOP death cult, head-on. "Freedom" shouldn't mean the right to force other people to die all alone in a hospital ICU hooked up to breathing tubes.

Airlines, retail stores, restaurants and bars, workplaces, office buildings, colleges, stadiums, theaters, you-name-it — all will have to start exercising their Supreme Court-certified "right" to the "freedom" to prevent un-vaccinated people from entering their premises.

That sweet new Ad Council "It's Up To You" campaign won't be enough. Too many Republicans have taken in Donald Trump's lies and Qanon's bizarre conspiracy theories to be influenced by sweet pictures and nice words.

Fully 59% of registered Texas Republicans say they have "doubts," and about half of all Republicans in Congress — where the vaccine is, daily, freely and easily available on demand — have chosen not to get vaccinated.

America's venues have to kick some ass to save lives and rebuild our economy. It's going to take both the carrot and the stick.

I got my first vaccine passport in 1979 when I traveled to Kenya, Uganda and had an onward ticket to Somalia on behalf of the Salem international relief organization.

To get on a plane to those countries, and then to get through their own passport control, I had to prove that I was immunized against cholera, yellow fever and typhoid, as I recall, and there might of been a few others; I remember the shots hurt like hell and made me sick as a dog for a day or two.

But that yellow card, with the proof of vaccination stamps in it, periodically updated, sat inside my passport for the next 20 years and not only got me into multiple Third World countries on three continents, but also got me through US border stations and back into the United States from them.

The idea of vaccine passports is nothing new.

Although my kids didn't need them to get into school 40 years ago (the schools just took your word for it), my grandchildren do today. There's pretty much not a school or summer camp in America that'll let a kid in without proof of vaccination against, at least, measles and a few other childhood diseases.

Right now the Biden administration is reportedly working with 17 different organizations and private companies to come up with some sort of vaccine passport that'll work for America, which is apparently why Newsmax's White House Correspondent calls the idea "totalitarian communism."

Want to "own the cons"? Put photos on the passports and require states to allow them as voter ID. But, seriously…

IATA, the International Air Transport Association, which licensed the travel agency Louise and I owned in the 1980s and oversees international travel, is working on one, as is the office of World Tourism with the United Nations. IBM is developing a digital vaccine passport, and Clear, the company that speeds you through airport security lines, has already announced that they, too, will soon have one.

Israel rolled them out last month, and Denmark has announced they'll soon be doing the same.

The way to sell these freedom passports to right-wingers is pretty straightforward: tell them it's the free market, and that it has to do with religious liberty. They love those words even when they don't know what they mean.

These are the same people, of course, who want a business to refuse an LGBTQ person the freedom to patronize that company based on who they are or love. If conservatives believe an American business must legally be able make a decision like that, why shouldn't companies have the freedom to refuse service to someone who may be spreading a deadly disease?

Doesn't "freedom" include the freedom to stay alive in the midst of the worst pandemic in a century?

Freedom is a much misused word. How is it that anybody can say with a straight face that person "A" should have the "freedom" to refuse a vaccine or wear a mask and spread a deadly disease in the direction of person "B," but that person "B" shouldn't have the freedom to remain free of illness?

It's a good argument for calling them "Freedom Passports."

For that matter, vaccine passports are the ultimate statement of belief in the sanctity of human life.

It's truly bizarre that legislators in Arkansas and Texas think a woman who wants to get an abortion should go to prison or even get the death penalty, but if a red-state Republican wants to breathe a deadly disease in your face because they've joined an anti-mask, anti-vaccine cult, that's just fine.

Maybe we should call them "Right To Life Passports."

Crazed Republican conspiracy-mongers aside, the main international objection to vaccine passports comes from groups and organizations concerned about increasing the gap around the world between the haves and the have-nots. One billion people in the world don't even have proof of identity, much less a passport or birth certificate, and this would leave them even farther out of the loop.

On the other hand, those are not generally the folks trying to get into the Super Bowl, your local supermarket or wanting to sit next to you on a flight from Omaha to Cincinnati.

Back in the 1980s, restaurants around the country experimented with being all non-smoking, or having well-spaced smoking sections with separate ventilation. Restaurants today could do something similar.

The taco place down the street might only let you in with a vaccine passport, a modern-day variation on the "no shoes, no shirt, no service" slogan. Farther down the block, the burger joint may opt to ignore the passports and run at 1/3 capacity or even throw caution to the wind and pack the place in.

Nobody, at least so far, is arguing passports should be required by the gummint the way those communist driver's licenses are issued and required to speed down the highway. Although I disagree with President Biden on this issue, it looks like it's going to be entirely up to the "free market."

The NFL has already weighed in, promoting vaccination among their fans so people can show up knowing that Covid isn't floating around inside the stadium.

Meanwhile, Florida's Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, arguably responsible for thousands of unnecessary deaths (that he appears to be hiding), is swearing that he'll never allow a private business in his state to require a vaccine passport for service.

He's fine with Florida businesses refusing to do business with LGBTQ folks, but Republican cult members who refuse to get vaccinated because they're convinced Bill Gates is gonna chip them so they can be tracked? No way! (Don't tell them about that GPS thing in their cell phones, please; they may not be able to handle it.)

As Republican politicians, judges and lawyers constantly repeat, private business should be able to refuse service to people on their "deeply held beliefs." This one's gone all the way up to the Supreme Court, and repeatedly gotten the Republican seal of approval.

And, even for them, Freedom Passports could encompass it all: Freedom! America! The Free Market! Saving innocent lives!

What red-blooded, Nazi-arm-band-wearing, Confederate-flag-waving, Capitol-invading, gun-toting American patriot could possibly object?

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

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

An open letter to Republican voters — who may finally be figuring out the GOP has been scamming them

Dear Republican voter:

When Ted Nugent, the NRA and the GOP told you that more guns would make America a less violent society, what did you expect? Did you really think that suddenly every American would become a fast-draw marksman and vigilante justice would take us back to some happy Wild West movie fantasy?

When Trump said Covid was "just like the flu" at the same time he was telling Bob Woodward it was a killer, what did you expect? When he pushed refusing to wear a mask as if it were some sort of declaration of masculinity, and openly encouraged states and cities to remain open to produce "herd…er…thinking" did you really believe that would keep a half-million Americans from dying?

When Trump sent thousands of modern-day brownshirts to storm the US Capitol and try to kill Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi so Trump could become the nation's strongman dictator, what did you expect? Did you believe that American democracy was outdated, and our country would run better if a billionaire oligarch and his cronies just took everything over regardless of the will of the voters?

When five Republican-appointed justices on the Supreme Court, in 2010 in Citizens United, ruled that billionaires and big corporations secretly bribing politicians was just "First Amendment-protected Free Speech," what did you expect? Did you believe that was going to work out well for democracy in America? That it had, in any country, ever?

When Republican lobbyist Grover Norquist, along with Reagan, both Bush's and Trump warned you about the dangers of "big government" and said it should be shrunk down small enough to be "drowned in the bathtub," what did you expect? Did you really think that gutting environmental and banking protections; letting corporations dump more pollution into our air and water, poisoning our children; and restricting access to Medicaid, unemployment benefits and disability assistance was going to improve this country?

When Donald Trump (and Reagan & both Bush's) told you that if America just showered trillions in tax cuts and subsidies on our largest corporations and richest people that it would all "trickle down" to the rest of us, what did you expect? Did you really think those billionaires were going to happily pass their tax cuts along to you as a pay raise?

When Republican governors across the country told you that only private, for-profit electric companies could provide you with cheap, reliable electricity and that state or municipal utilities with no profit motive were a bad idea, what did you expect? Did you think Enron ripping people off & PG&E burning down part of California was an anomaly? That what just happened with the privatized Texas power grid when it was faced — again — with a winter storm was just a fluke?

When Ronald Reagan — and every Republican politician since him — told you that destroying labor unions would be a good thing and would help American workers, what did you expect? Did you really think that no longer having solidarity and representation against organized capital would lift up American workers and cause CEO's to keep their own pay reasonable?

When George HW Bush told you the nation needed to double down on Nixon's "War on Drugs" and put more people in prison, particularly Black people who were "selling crack cocaine in the park across the street from the White House" (a sale Bush set up), what did you expect? Did you really think that putting millions of Black people in prison for decades like Bush pitched with his "Willie Horton" ad campaign was somehow going to make America a better place to live?

When Donald Trump tried to cut off food stamps to over a million people in the middle of a pandemic, what did you expect? Did you really think it was going to "force" people to get a job in the face of a disease that could kill them? When over 10 million jobs had just vanished from the economy?

When former oil industry CEOs George W. Bush and Dick Cheney told you that Iraq's Saddam Hussein, coincidentally sitting on the world's second-largest oil reserve, was plotting to attack America, even as the United Nations and our own American weapons inspectors were saying it was a lie, what did you expect? Did you really think America could conquer a country, sell off its natural resources, and its people would just happily go along with it? How'd that work out in Vietnam?

When Wall Street Billionaire Pete Peterson and his friends in the GOP put up their "debt clock" and told you that Social Security was a Ponzi scheme that was going to go bankrupt and therefore should be handed over to the big Wall Street banks, what did you expect? Did you think the bankers and the Republicans they own were actually going to help build a stronger social safety net for average Americans?

When Reagan's Interior Secretary, James Watt, told you that it was just fine to sell off federal lands for pennies on the dollar to giant mining and drilling companies because Jesus was soon going to return and "make all things new," what did you expect? For that matter, when Trump's Interior Secretary, a coal industry lobbyist, said the same thing without the religion, did you really expect it would help our public lands? Did you think it had nothing to do with massive campaign contributions to the GOP?

When Republicans changed course in 1980 and threw in with antiabortion activists, but promised only "reasonable" restrictions, what did you expect? How about Arkansas that just passed a law last month to put a child who's impregnated by a rapist in prison if she tries to get an abortion? Or Texas, where legislators are trying to get the death penalty for young victims of incest who get an abortion?

When Donald Trump encouraged violence at his rallies, promoted racist slogans and policies, promised to pay the legal bills of people who became violent, and openly celebrated police "roughing up" the people they're supposed to protect and serve, what did you expect? Did you think it would restrain the authoritarianism and racism of his followers and police? Really?

When Trump and Fox News tried to characterize as "thugs" the millions of people in our streets protesting the murder of George Floyd and so many other unarmed Black men, what did you expect? Did you think the cops would stop racist and violent policing without any sort of public pressure or accountability? When has that ever happened?

When oil company shills were all over the media telling us that global warming is a hoax and that carbon dioxide was good for trees and so we should have more of it, and Republican politicians for 40 years echoed them (and continue to), what did you expect? Did you really believe that burning all those fossil fuels and throwing all those poisons in the air would have no consequence?

When, during the last three presidential primaries, Republican candidates like Ron Paul argued that the best way to provide healthcare for Americans was to eliminate all government programs so that people would be forced to "stand on their own two feet" and figure out their own healthcare solutions, what did you expect? Did you really buy Congressman Paul's argument that in his day doctors like him were paid with chickens and we should think of that as an inspiration for our healthcare system today?

When you voted for Republicans while Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was actively gutting our public schools, promoting for-profit corporate schools, and making a joke out of any kind of solution to our student debt crisis, what did you expect? Did you actually believe that she and the GOP had any interest in building up our public schools and helping our teachers?

When your Republican state representatives told you they were passing legislation to "ensure election integrity," what did you expect? Did you really believe they were going to make sure everybody in America who is legally eligible to vote could have their vote counted? Did you assume they'd never end up blocking you from the voting rolls?

Seriously, did you expect Republicans were somehow going to do away with the 10-hour lines in neighborhoods where lots of registered Democrats live but everything would be fine for you? Did you believe them when they said voting by mail was a dangerous and insecure system, after states like Oregon and most of Western Europe have been doing it for more than 20 years without any problems whatsoever?

The simple fact is that Republicans have been lying to voters like you for better than 40 years, from Nixon's "Southern Strategy" and "War on Drugs," through Reagan's "Supply Side Economics," right up to today's Trump/GOP line that the 2020 election was filled with "voter fraud."

They're all lies, to disguise the fact that the GOP worships money and power alone, and puts those two things above the safety and security of average Americans every time.

For the past 18 years on my radio show I've been running a contest. To win, all you need to do is name a single piece of post-1980 legislation that was first written by a Republican, majority-sponsored by Republicans in Congress, passed by a majority of Republicans and signed by a Republican president — and has as its main beneficiaries average working people, instead of rich people or big corporations.

Nobody has ever won the prize, which is your choice of any of my books, with a personalized inscription.

Our country needs us all to be awake to what Republicans are up to in our federal and state capitols as they try to savage democracy and turn our country over to the oligarchs who pay their bills.

The 2020 election seems to show that Republican voters are figuring out the scam that GOP politicians have been running on them for two generations, which is why the Party is scrambling to make it harder to vote.

If you're a good-faith former Republican voter who was taken in by these lies but has now seen the light, the Democratic Party is more than happy to welcome you back to sanity. A new day is coming.

Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of The Hidden History of American Oligarchy and more than 30 other books in print. His most recent project is a science podcast called The Science Revolution. He is a writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute.

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

Did Trump think his mob had taken Mike Pence hostage?

What if Donald Trump actually hoped that his mob would murder Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi?

What if he believed such a crime would create a crisis big enough to let him declare a state of emergency, shut down the government for a transition period through that emergency, and retain his position as President moving into the new year?

Senator Tommy Tuberville told Politico that he told Trump that "they just took" Vice President Pence, but there's no indication on the current public record that Trump understood that "they" meant that Pence had been taken to safety.

"They" could have been taken by Trump to mean the mob had taken Pence, just as easily as it could mean the Capitol Police had saved Pence from the mob.

It's entirely possible Trump thought Tuberville was telling him that the mob had just seized Vice President Pence and was hustling him off to the sturdy gallows they'd built on the Capitol lawn.

In fact, Trump almost immediately tweeted, after talking to Tuberville: "Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify, USA demands the truth!"

That doesn't sound like Trump's relieved that Pence was just taken to safety.

What if Trump believed that Pence had been "neutralized" at that point in the process of counting the electoral votes, that the count was stopped, and that Pence would soon be dead?

Could this tweet have been his call for his allies in Congress, now that the VP was out of the picture and they were in charge, to throw the count back to the House of Representatives, where in the past he had repeatedly asserted (probably correctly) that Republicans there would give him the presidency per the 12th Amendment like in 1876?

If that's actually what Trump thought was happening, his phone call with Kevin McCarthy makes a lot more sense.

Trump told McCarthy that the mob was more concerned about the outcome of the election then was McCarthy himself, something he probably wouldn't say if he thought that Pence had been taken to safety and the process certifying Joe Biden as president would soon resume.

Instead, if he believed that his mob was actually going to succeed at killing Pence and perhaps Pelosi, both his tweet, his comments to McCarthy and his conversation with Tuberville would come from the same piece of cloth: his belief that Pence would soon be dead, government would be paralyzed, and he could declare himself President For Life.

Trump and his acolytes had, after all, on repeated occasions tweeted and liked ads and messages that said Trump would be president for 8, 12, and even 16 or more years.

Trump appointed a new Secretary of Defense immediately after the networks declared he'd lost the election, and that SecDef had issued a memo ordering the National Guard to essentially stand down in the event of violence on January 6th.

This, along with the troubling possibility that Trump actually intended for Pence to die, should be explored by House Impeachment Managers as well as the current Justice Department.

Trump’s racism kills 1 in 1,000 Americans

Covid has now killed 1 in 1000 Americans in less than a year.

How is it that in Australia it's 3 out of every 100,000 people, and in New Zealand it's 1 out of every 200,000 people, but here in America we're dropping like flies?

Chalk it up to Republican racism and a libertarian indifference to the notion of society.

Trump's official emergency declaration came on March 11th, and most of the country shut down or at least went part-way toward that outcome. The Dow collapsed and millions of Americans were laid off, but saving lives was, after all, the number one consideration.

Trump put medical doctors on TV daily, the media was freaking out about refrigerated trucks carrying bodies away from New York hospitals, and doctors and nurses were our new national heroes.

And then came April 7th.

I remember that week vividly; it was as if a light switch had been flipped, and I commented on it on my radio show at the time (and many times since).

April 7th was the day that America learned that the majority of the people who were dying from COVID19 were either elderly, black or Hispanic. Not so many white guys, after all.

Exactly one month earlier, on March 7th, Trump had played golf at his club in West Palm Beach, met with Brazilian strongman Jair Bolsonaro at Mar-a-Lago, and visited the CDC headquarters in Atlanta. Over the previous week, US deaths had risen from 4 to 22.

In March, Jared Kushner even put together an all-volunteer task force of mostly preppie 20-something white men to coordinate getting PPE to hospitals.

Then came April 7th, when the New York Times ran a front-page story with the headline: Black Americans Face Alarming Rates of Coronavirus Infection in Some States. Other media ran similar headlines across the American media landscape, and it was heavily reported on cable news and the network news that night.

As the New York Times noted that day: "In Illinois, 43 percent of people who have died from the disease and 28 percent of those who have tested positive are African-Americans, a group that makes up just 15 percent of the state's population. African-Americans, who account for a third of positive tests in Michigan, represent 40 percent of deaths in that state even though they make up 14 percent of the population. In Louisiana, about 70 percent of the people who have died are black, though only a third of that state's population is."

American conservatives responded with a collective, "What the hell?!?"

Limbaugh declared that afternoon that "with the coronavirus, I have been waiting for the racial component." And here it was. "The coronavirus now hits African Americans harder – harder than illegal aliens, harder than women. It hits African Americans harder than anybody, disproportionate representation."

Claiming that he knew this was coming as if he was some sort of a medical savant, Limbaugh said, "But now these — here's Fauxcahontas, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris demanding the federal government release daily race and ethnicity data on coronavirus testing, patients, and their health outcomes. So they want a database to prove we are not caring enough about African Americans…"

It didn't take a medical savant, of course. African Americans die disproportionately from everything, from heart disease to strokes to cancer to childbirth. It's a symptom of a racially rigged economy and a healthcare system that only responds to money, which America has conspired to keep from African Americans for over 400 years. Of course they're going to die more frequently from coronavirus.

But the New York Times and the Washington Post simultaneously publishing front-page articles about that disparity with regard to COVID19, both on April 7th, echoed across the rightwing media landscape like a Fourth of July fireworks display.

Tucker Carlson, the only primetime Fox News host who'd previously expressed serious concerns about the death toll, changed his tune the same day, as documented by Media Matters for America.

Now, he said, "we can begin to consider how to improve the lives of the rest, the countless Americans who have been grievously hurt by this, by our response to this. How do we get 17 million of our most vulnerable citizens back to work? That's our task."

White people were out of work, and black people were most of the casualties, outside of the extremely elderly. And those white people need their jobs back!

Brit Hume joined Tucker's show and, using his gravitas as a "real news guy," intoned, "The disease turned out not to be quite as dangerous as we thought."

Left unsaid was the issue of to whom it was "not quite as dangerous," but Limbaugh listeners and Fox viewers are anything but unsophisticated when it hearing dog-whistles on behalf of white supremacy.

Only 12,677 Americans were dead by that day, but now that we knew most of the non-elderly were black, things were suddenly very, very different. Now it was time to quit talking about people dying and start talking about getting people back to work!

It took less than a week for Trump to get the memo, presumably through Fox and Stephen Miller. On April 12th, he retweeted a call to fire Dr. Anthony Fauci and declared, in another tweet, that he had the sole authority to open the US back up, and that he'd be announcing a specific plan to do just that "shortly."

On April 13th, the ultra-rightwing, nearly-entirely-white-managed US Chamber of Commerce published a policy paper titled Implementing A National Return to Work Plan.

Unspoken but big on the agenda of corporate America was the desire to get the states to rescind their stay-home-from-work orders so that companies could cut their unemployment tax costs.

When people file unemployment claims, those claims are ultimately paid by the companies themselves, so when a company has a lot of claims they get a substantial increase in their unemployment insurance premiums/taxes. If the "stay home" orders were repealed, workers could no longer, in most states, file for or keep receiving unemployment compensation.

The next day, Freedomworks, the billionaire-founded and -funded group that animated the Tea Party against Obamacare a decade earlier, published an op-ed on their website calling for an "economic recovery" program including an end to the capital gains tax and a new law to "shield" businesses from lawsuits.

Three days after that, Freedomworks and the House Freedom Caucus issued a joint statement declaring that "[I]t's time to re-open the economy."

Freedomworks published their "#ReopenAmerica Rally Planning Guide" encouraging conservatives to show up "in person" at their state capitols and governor's mansions, and, for signage, to "Keep it short: 'I'm essential,' 'Let me work,' 'Let Me Feed My Family'" and to "Keep [the signs looking] homemade."

One of the first #OpenTheCountry rallies to get widespread national attention was April 19th in New Hampshire. Over the next several weeks, rallies had metastasized across the nation, from Oregon to Arizona, Delaware, North Carolina, Virginia, Illinois and elsewhere.

One that drew particularly high levels of media attention, complete with swastikas, confederate flags and assault rifles was directed against the governor of Michigan, rising Democratic star Gretchen Whitmer.

When Rachel Maddow reported on meatpacking plants that were epicenters of mass infection, the conservative Chief Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court pointed out that the virus flare wasn't coming from the "regular folks" of the surrounding community; they were mostly Hispanic and Black.

The conservative meme was now well established.

About a third of the people the virus killed were old folks in nursing homes. Which, commentators on the right said, could be a good thing for the economy because they're just "useless eaters" who spend our Medicaid and Social Security money but are on death's door anyway.

For example, Texas's Republican Lt. Governor Dan Patrick told Fox News, "Let's get back to living... And those of us that are 70-plus, we'll take care of ourselves."

A conservative town commissioner in Antioch, CA noted that losing many elderly "would reduce burdens in our defunct Social Security System…and free up housing…" He added, "We would lose a large portion of the people with immune and other health complications. I know it would be loved ones as well. But that would once again reduce our impact on medical, jobs and housing."

Then came news that the biggest outbreaks were happening in prisons along with the meatpacking plants, places with few white people (and the few whites in them were largely poor and thus disposable). Trump's response to this was to issue an executive order using the Defense Production Act (which he had refused to use to order production of testing or PPE equipment) to order the largely Hispanic and Black workforce back into the slaughterhouses and meat processing plants.

African Americans were dying in our cities, Hispanics were dying in meatpacking plants, the elderly were dying in nursing homes.

But the death toll among white people, particularly affluent white people in corporate management who were less likely to be obese, have hypertension or struggle with diabetes, and more likely to work from home was relatively low. And those who came through the infection were presumed to be immune to subsequent bouts, so we could issue them "COVID Passports" and give them hiring priority.

As an "expert" member of Jared Kushner's team of young, unqualified volunteers supervising the administration's PPE response to the virus noted to Vanity Fair's Katherine Eban, "The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy."

It was, after all, exclusively Blue states that were then hit hard by the virus: Washington, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Robert F. Kennedy's grandson Max Kennedy Jr, 26, was one of the volunteers and blew the whistle to Congress on Kushner and Trump. As Jane Mayer wrote for The New Yorker, "Kennedy was disgusted to see that the political appointees who supervised him were hailing Trump as 'a marketing genius,' because, Kennedy said they'd told him, 'he personally came up with the strategy of blaming the states.'"

So the answer to the question of why, at year's end, the United States has about 20% of the world's Covid deaths, but only 4.5% of the world's population, is pretty straightforward: Republicans were just fine with Black people dying back in April, particularly since they could blame it on Democratic Blue-state governors.

And once they put that strategy into place in April, it became politically impossible to back away from it, even as more and more red-state white people became infected.

Everything since then – right down to Trump's December 26th tweet ("The lockdowns in Democrat-run states are absolutely ruining the lives of so many people - Far more than the damage that would be caused by the China Virus.") – has been a double-down on death and destruction, now regardless of race.

Thom Hartmann is America's number one progressive talk-show host and the New York Times bestselling author of The Hidden History of American Oligarchy and more than 30 other books in print. His online writings are compiled at HartmannReport.com. He is a writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute.

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

America's survival depends on bankrupting the Republican Party

It's time to defund the GOP, and there's precedent and strategy for the effort.

The need to cut the party's access to both private and government money is seen in the reaction by some extremist Republicans to news like a New York State lawmaker's proposal to make vaccination against COVID-19 mandatory. Predictably, the far right is freaking out. "Freedom!" they scream as they run around maskless, assaulting their fellow citizens with potentially virus-laden breath.

Large parts of the Republican base now join conspiracists in the misguided belief that vaccine manufacturers are participating in mind-control experiments and that public health measures like masks are "un-American," while we're being sickened and dying from the highest rates of COVID-19 infection and death in the developed world.

Republicans on the Supreme Court even say the founders of our republic and the framers of the Constitution would never go along with preventing churches and synagogues from holding superspreader events during a pandemic, but, like so many things GOP, it's a lie.

In 1798, President John Adams signed the first public health care legislation—it was to pay for medical care and hospitalization not just for the Navy but also for civilian sailors. And both he and President George Washington had participated in quarantine events during epidemics in the summers of 1793 and 1798, and both promoted inoculation against smallpox.

From 1790 to 1800, Philadelphia was the nation's capital. When the yellow fever epidemic of 1793 recurred in 1798, that city's board of health, with no objections raised by President John Adams or any member of Congress, ordered a block-by-block evacuation of parts of Philadelphia.

Most signers of the Declaration and Constitution were still alive, and many were in Congress and on the Supreme Court. None opposed the lockdown. Churches not only couldn't meet; a few in the quarantine areas were closed down entirely for much of the year in America's capital city.

From their bans on teaching sex education and evolution in our schools, to denying climate change, to this latest campaign against public health, far-right Republicans' fight against science has damaged America's standing in the world and destroyed the lives of millions.

Thomas Paine, in his time, wrote about "The Age of Reason." Today we have "The Age of Intentional Republican Stupidity." And they don't just embrace it for themselves; they're hell-bent on imposing it on every American, from schoolchildren on up.

They have rigged elections by making it hard to vote, seditiously tried to overturn the 2020 election, promoted racial and religious bigotry and violence, destroyed our public school systems, gutted our unions, and rewritten our tax system to screw the middle class.

Since the election of Ronald Reagan, Republicans have damaged America more in 40 years than our worst enemies could have dreamed of by other means.

These Republicans are not patriots; they're traitors to reason, science, education, human rights, democracy and now, unbelievably, public health. They're traitors to humanity itself.

The only way to deal with a death-dealing cult is to end it; thus, we must embark on a campaign to defund the Republican Party.

Back in 1981, the Republican Party decided to defund the Democratic Party, and actually pulled it off.

While the Republican Party had principally been funded by rich people and big business since the 1920s, the Democrats were largely reliant on the labor unions. So Ronald Reagan, as part of his "Reagan Revolution," figured the best way to destroy the Democratic Party was to destroy America's unions.

His first shot was to destroy PATCO, the air traffic controllers' union, and he did it in less than a week in August of 1981. He, along with Republicans in Congress and conservatives on the Supreme Court, then embarked on a campaign to eliminate unions from the American landscape, thus gutting the Democratic Party's ability to win elections.

It worked, and by 1992, American union membership, and union's ability to fund elections, had collapsed so severely that Bill Clinton and the Democratic Party turned to giant corporations and billionaires to win that election year.

Reagan's plan not only kneecapped the Democratic Party for the next 40 years but also changed the party at its core, turning it from President Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society party into Bill Clinton's corporate-friendly Democratic Leadership Council/New Democrats, now in bed with big banks, insurance companies, etc.

Defunding the Republican Party may even force it to start focusing on the needs of regular people rather than just billionaires and corporations, which only adds to the urgency of the job. There are just a few steps through the process, which include:

  • End "Red State Welfare." Kentucky gets $2.41 for every dollar they send to Washington, D.C. Most other red states are similarly "taker" states, so let's fight for a law limiting states to no more than, say, $1.50 for every buck they sent to D.C. in tax revenues. Call it welfare reform!
  • End corporate welfare that gets recycled to GOP politicians. This includes $700 billion a year to fossil fuel companies, and nearly $1 trillion a year we give to Big Pharma, as well as support for insurance companies (like subsidies for the "Medicare Advantage" scam) and "Big Ag."
  • End corporate monopolies. Break up giant corporations and make America safe again for small businesses while rejuvenating local economies. From airlines to tech to banking and retail, giant monopolies rip off working-class Americans and use some of that money to fund the GOP.
  • Bring back Eisenhower's 91 percent top tax rate, or at least something north of 50 percent. America's strongest economy was during the 30 years from 1950 to 1980, with a top tax rate of 91 percent to 74 percent. Progressive taxation on the super-wealthy was openly supported by Republican presidents like Eisenhower, Nixon, and Ford. With that tax revenue, we built highways, schools and hospitals, and put men on the moon, while the best way CEOs could avoid the tax was to use the money to pay their workers better wages. Reagan cut that top rate to less than 30 percent, and the billionaires it produced now pour money into the GOP to keep it that way.
  • Follow Europe's example and impose a wealth tax on great fortunes. Average Americans pay a wealth tax every year—the property tax on their largest store of wealth, their homes. Billionaires should pay a similar annual tax on their money bins.
  • End campaign contributions from corporations, end super PACs, and limit billionaires' ability to skew our politics with their money. We did this in the 1970s after the Nixon bribery scandals, but the Supreme Court blew it up. There are multiple ways around that, and the Democratic Party should make this job one.

These simple "Progressive Contract with America" steps, along with restoring the ability of American workers to unionize, will not only revive the Democratic Party, but also restore America to economic greatness and give us a far more honest political system.

Thom Hartmann is America's number one progressive talk-show host and the New York Times bestselling author of The Hidden History of American Oligarchy and more than 30 other books in print. His online writings are compiled at HartmannReport.com. He is a writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute.

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

Mitch McConnell is holding your community hostage until corporations are able to kill you without consequence

Probably the most under-reported story of the year has been how Mitch McConnell is holding Americans hostage in exchange for letting big corporations kill Americans without any consequence.

Mitch took you and me hostage back in May, when the House of Representatives passed the HEROES act that would have funded state and local governments and provided unemployed workers with an ongoing weekly payment.

Mitch refused to even allow the Senate to discuss the HEROES Act until or unless the legislation also legalized corporations killing their workers and customers. To this day, he refuses to let it even be discussed in the Senate.

We've seen companies fire people for refusing to take their lives in their hands, executives organize betting pools on which employees are going to die first, and companies lying openly to their workers and customers about the dangers of Covid-19.

Mitch McConnell wants to protect them all. Even worse, his immunity can extend well beyond the pandemic and sets up a process that could put corporations above the law permanently, across every community in America, in ways that state and local governments can never defy.

While Republicans have fought against raising the minimum wage or letting workers unionize for over 100 years, what McConnell is doing now is giving corporations the ultimate right: the right to kill their employees and customers with impunity.

And McConnell's holding your local police and fire departments, public schools, and state healthcare programs hostage in exchange for his corporate immunity.

This is beyond immoral. This is ghastly, and should have been at the top of every news story in America for the past six months. But many of the corporations that are looking forward to complete supremacy over their workers include the giant corporations that own our media.

America has suffered for over 40 years under Reaganism's neoliberal mantra, picked up from Milton Friedman, that when corporations focus exclusively on profit an "invisible hand" will guide them to do what's best for people and communities. It's a lie.

This is an assault on workers' rights, but, even greater, it's a corporate assault on human rights. McConnell is saying that a corporation's right to kill its workers and customers is more important than the lives of human beings.

As unemployment benefits are running out, evictions loom, small businesses are dying left and right, millions of families have been thrown into crisis and more than 10 million Americans have lost their health insurance, McConnell continues to hold us all hostage.

It's time to fight back. If corporate media continues to refuse to discuss McConnell's blackmail, we must individually speak up among friends and communities, and also let our lawmakers know what we think. It's time to raise some hell.

Yes, the election was rigged -- but by the Republicans

It turns out that Donald Trump was right: the election was rigged. He would know, of course, because he and Louis DeJoy were the ones who rigged it.

Historically, "conservative" (e.g. "white racist") efforts to rig the vote were almost entirely focused on preventing people of color from voting. For almost a century, this involved literacy tests, guessing the number of jellybeans in a jar, and other low-tech, blatant strategies.

In the 1960s, William Rehnquist and friends launched "Operation Eagle Eye" in the Southwest where they would send "poll watchers" to threaten and intimidate Native American, Hispanic and Black voters.

By the 1980s, Republicans had rolled out "caging," where they'd send a postcard to voters and if it wasn't returned they'd remove you from the voting rolls; the Democratic Party got a restraining order against caging that just expired a few years ago.

In 2000, George and Jeb Bush, the governors of Texas and Florida, used the Texas felon list to purge mostly Black and Hispanic people from the Florida voter rolls. Jeb knocked 90,000 African-Americans off the rolls, just in time to steal the 2000 election for George.

Kris Kobach turned this into a system, called Interstate Crosscheck, and took it nationwide over the last 15 years, comparing states' voting rolls in ways that would largely disenfranchise Asians, Blacks and Hispanics.

Finally, in 2020, Trump came up with a new scheme that benefited from the Covid virus, and the worse the virus got, the better his scheme worked.

Letting the pandemic run wild while telling his supporters they should only vote in person, Trump and DeJoy dismantled over 600 multimillion dollar high-speed mail sorting machines, hitting swing states the hardest, so mailed ballots would arrive too late to count.

Recent reporting suggests that if the courts had not intervened when and how they did, the mail would have been so slowed in several critical swing states that Trump would've been declared the winner. We were saved by a federal judge.

Now the scam Republicans are promoting is to challenge the signatures on the outside of mail-in ballots from big cities, and this has helped them throw out literally millions of ballots just this month.

Nobody is sure what the next conservative scheme will be to disqualify votes in American cities, but you can bet they're working on it. Which is why we need a law or Constitutional amendment that unambiguously asserts a "right to vote."

If Governor Brian Kemp wants to take away the home of a person who lives in Atlanta, he has to go to court and prove his case: our property rights are intact.

If Governor Ron DeSantis wants to take away a gun from a person who lives in Miami, he has to go to court and prove his case: the Supreme Court has recently affirmed Americans' right to own a gun.

But if any governor wants to take away your vote, they don't even have to tell you, they just kick you off the voting rolls, because right now voting is not a right in America, it's merely a privilege.

America needs to join the rest of the developed world and put the right of citizens to vote into law. Since everything from pandemic relief to education to foreign policy flows out of the democratic process, this must be Job One in the new Congress.

Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of The Hidden History of the War on Voting and more than 30 other books in print. His most recent project is a science podcast called The Science Revolution. He is a writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute.

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