Donald Trump

America's Centrists and Crazy Extremists

America’s Centrism and Crazy Extremists                                                                                                                                              Robert A. Levine

America’s citizenry is basically moderate and centrist. This has been confirmed over the years by various surveys that give independents, moderates, centrists a plurality no matter how they are labeled. When moderates and centrists in the two established parties that lean to the left or the right are included in the tally, centrists generally achieve a majority. Yet both Republicans and Democrats appear to be under the control of the extremists in the parties in terms of policies and candidates who are given party support. This merely adds to the rancor and partisanship between the parties and the inability to get things done that benefit the country.

Increasingly, politics has come to be perceived as a zero-sum game. If a bill introduced and supported by the Democrats is passed and becomes law, Republicans see it as a loss for them. And vice versa. The parties give little consideration to whether bills that are passed will be of value to the nation.

A prime example of this zero-sum thinking is the recent passage of the infrastructure bill by the House. The Senate had passed the bill months earlier with bipartisan support, including that of Mitch McConnell, the Minority leader. But the thirteen Republicans in the House who voted for the bill were considered traitors by many of the other House Republicans expecting a straight party line vote on important measures. Many GOP members feel that the dissenting Republicans who voted for the bill gave Biden and the Democrats a victory, without considering that the bill was badly needed and greatly benefits America.

In fact, a number of GOP Representatives asked Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, to remove the Republicans who voted for the bill from their positions on House committees as payback for their votes favoring the bill. Even worse, because of the extremism that has infected the base of the Party, the thirteen supporters of the bill have received thousands of threatening, damning and viciously offensive phone calls. Marjorie Taylor Greene posted the home phone numbers of these members and Steve Bannon gave out the numbers of the 19 Republican Senators who backed the bill. Ex-President Trump labeled them all as RINOs- Republicans in name only. The phone calls not only included threats to murder the Republicans supporters of the bill, but also to murder or torture them or members of their families. How far has extreme tribalism deviated from the moderate center of the electorate to spawn these messages of hate?

Meanwhile, in the Democratic Party, six members of the so-called extremist “Squad” voted against the infrastructure bill necessitating the Republican votes in order to insure passage in the House. These “progressives” do not seem to care about the re-election chances of the moderates in their party and it seems that for them it’s “my way or the highway” in the bills they support. They are willing to lose control of the House if the Democrats do not adhere to their precepts.

On the other hand, Biden’s Build Back Better bill that contains many social measures and has already been cut by more than half, has its passage in doubt because of imaginary moderates in the Senate, Manchin and Sistema who say they are reluctant to spend so much money and increase the national debt. However, in Manchin’s case, it’s probably more about cutting the use of coal to try and contain climate change. Maybe enough has been done to reshape the bill to generate the two recalcitrant Senator’s support.

Tribalism and extremist beliefs in both Parties are a danger to America’s democracy, much more so on the Republican right with its threats of violence than on the Democratic left. America is basically a moderate, centrist nation. How do we control extremism and rabid hatred against political opponents, spread by virulent demagogues over right-wing media and social platforms? It seems to be getting worse rather than better.

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Americans Disdain for Facts

Americans Disdain for Facts

            Robert A. Levine    July 5, 2023

Is it our school systems? Is it our water? Is it our concept of equality, that every man’s knowledge

and store of information is the same and worthy of attention? Such a large proportion of our citizens refuse to believe experts and look down on scientists. Conspiracy theories and bald-faced lies flourish and the facts languish. And this disdain for what is true and scientifically proven is just as prevalent on the left as it is on the right. Disregard the facts. Don’t believe accepted data in science and medicine, but what Tom so and so says. He has two million followers on Facebook so he must know what he’s talking about. Don’t people think for themselves any more, or do they merely mirror popular trends and influencers who tell that what to think. Even bizarre conspiracy theories like Qanon have millions of people believing.

Initially, the disregard for the truth and the facts seemed to be typical of conservatives and the right, Americans who idolized Donald Trump and his coterie, took their words as gospel, no matter how far out they might seem. Democrats as pedophiles. Cannibalism. Soros’ space lasers causing forest fires. Stolen elections. And Trump’s missteps ignored. Paying off a call girl. Grabbing attractive women by the pussy. Paying homage to Putin. Running his businesses from the White House. And hundreds more noxious actions. So what. He got conservative justices on the Supreme Court. Character doesn’t matter.

But now, some of the left is following in Trump’s footsteps, willing to accept lies as truth, disregarding facts and buying in to conspiracy theories. Robert Kennedy Jr has become the leader of this portion of the Democratic Party, and doing surprising well in the polls for president. At one point he had around 20 percent of voters, though apparently he has fallen back somewhat. But his lies and conspiracy theories and his dislike for standard medicine and scientific facts has resonated with many on the left. Kennedy refuses to accept facts about vaccines preventing diseases and that medications to treat various illnesses are a necessity. He thinks all pharmaceutical companies are promoting their medications just for profit and that they really don’t help against illnesses. Kennedy also believes that the government conspired in the assassinations of his uncle John Kennedy, his father Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. He spouts all these lies and conspiracy theories without any evidence to back him up.

But people believe what he says because he’s a Kennedy and would seem to have no reason to lie. However, it appears that Kennedy doesn’t think he’s lying, accepting his own doctrines on faith. And the people who believe him also accept his words on faith, because they are misinformed and don’t like taking advice from experts and the “elites.” The vaccine skeptics and those who won’t acknowledge conventional medicine are doing harm to themselves, their families and their communities. And they weaken rather than strengthen America.

When confronted with contradictions in terms of what are considered facts and the truth about issues, people have to seek information themselves and not depend on the words of politicians and conspiracy theorists. It may be easier not to do the research and just follow the leader, but that path is not good for America and democracy. It’s bad on both the left and the right.

P.S- Investigate the Dunning Krueger effect, a cognitive bias where people with little knowledge, expertise or ability regarding an issue, tend to overestimate their knowledge or expertise. Many of the followers of Trump, DeSantis and Kennedy ably demonstrate the Dunning-Krueger effect in their views and actions.

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GOP Icon- Trump vs. Santos

GOP Icon- Trump Vs Santos                   

Robert A. Levine                     

In this age of mass communication, particular figures become representative of their political parties because of repeated exposure on television and social media. For the Republicans during the last six or seven years this figure has been Donald Trump, aka The Donald. He has dominated the news and sucked the air out of every venue where he has appeared with a constant array of controversial statements, misstated facts and outright lies. Since his defeat in the presidential election of 2020, he has played the role of victim, insisting that the election was stolen from him without an iota of proof. However, the Republican base loves his bluster and lies, with the majority of Republicans believing that the election was indeed stolen from him.

Now that he is being indicted on criminal charges for the first time, which he describes as the result of a witch hunt, it appears that the majority of Republicans are remaining in the Trump camp. However, as more and stronger charges are brought against him by other prosecutors, will his base remain loyal? Will he remain the symbol of modern Republicanism? It is quite possible that as the criminal charges against Trump pile up, large numbers of Republicans will abandon him and seek another standard bearer for the party.

There are a number of candidates who would be glad to assume this position if Trump were found guilty of criminal charges, especially if he wound up in prison. One of the leading candidates would be Marjorie Taylor Greene, a GOP Congresswoman from Georgia who loves to bask in the public spotlight. While she would be a fine icon for the Republicans, she might be a little too far out for some, though after Trump, who knows? MTG was an open supporter of Qanon, believed that the California wildfires were caused by space lasers and that a plane did not crash into the Pentagon on 9/11, among other bizarre theories. Even though her Georgia district voted for her twice overwhelmingly for congress, Republicans overall might not appreciate her views.

Kevin McCarthy, the Speaker of the House is the highest ranking Republican in government right now and could also be a candidate for GOP icon. However, it took fifteen ballots for him to get elected and he had to make deals giving away some of his power. He is also seen by some Republicans as too wishy-washy and not a figure who projects strength.

Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri saluted the rioters on January 6th when they stormed the Capitol and later was seen running away from the chaotic scene. These actions sort of disqualify him from being the Republican icon. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas is disliked by many in the Republican Party for his know-it-all and superior attitude, so he would not make a decent icon. Mitch McConnell is too old and not photogenic.

Therefore, I propose that George Santos replace Donald Trump as the new GOP icon. He has many similar qualities, including the ability to lie, cheat and steal money from his campaign contributors. Much of his biography is also false as was The Donald’s. Despite all the negative attributes of Congressman Santos, the Republican Party has been unwilling to dissociate itself from him. He would make a fine figure to represent the GOP, as did Trump.

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GOP Icon- Trump vs. Santos

GOP Icon- Trump Vs Santos                   

Robert A. Levine                     

In this age of mass communication, particular figures become representative of their political parties because of repeated exposure on television and social media. For the Republicans during the last six or seven years this figure has been Donald Trump, aka The Donald. He has dominated the news and sucked the air out of every venue where he has appeared with a constant array of controversial statements, misstated facts and outright lies. Since his defeat in the presidential election of 2020, he has played the role of victim, insisting that the election was stolen from him without an iota of proof. However, the Republican base loves his bluster and lies, with the majority of Republicans believing that the election was indeed stolen from him.

Now that he is being indicted on criminal charges for the first time, which he describes as the result of a witch hunt, it appears that the majority of Republicans are remaining in the Trump camp. However, as more and stronger charges are brought against him by other prosecutors, will his base remain loyal? Will he remain the symbol of modern Republicanism? It is quite possible that as the criminal charges against Trump pile up, large numbers of Republicans will abandon him and seek another standard bearer for the party.

There are a number of candidates who would be glad to assume this position if Trump were found guilty of criminal charges, especially if he wound up in prison. One of the leading candidates would be Marjorie Taylor Greene, a GOP Congresswoman from Georgia who loves to bask in the public spotlight. While she would be a fine icon for the Republicans, she might be a little too far out for some, though after Trump, who knows? MTG was an open supporter of Qanon, believed that the California wildfires were caused by space lasers and that a plane did not crash into the Pentagon on 9/11, among other bizarre theories. Even though her Georgia district voted for her twice overwhelmingly for congress, Republicans overall might not appreciate her views.

Kevin McCarthy, the Speaker of the House is the highest ranking Republican in government right now and could also be a candidate for GOP icon. However, it took fifteen ballots for him to get elected and he had to make deals giving away some of his power. He is also seen by some Republicans as too wishy-washy and not a figure who projects strength.

Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri saluted the rioters on January 6th when they stormed the Capitol and later was seen running away from the chaotic scene. These actions sort of disqualify him from being the Republican icon. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas is disliked by many in the Republican Party for his know-it-all and superior attitude, so he would not make a decent icon. Mitch McConnell is too old and not photogenic.

Therefore, I propose that George Santos replace Donald Trump as the new GOP icon. He has many similar qualities, including the ability to lie, cheat and steal money from his campaign contributors. Much of his biography is also false as was The Donald’s. Despite all the negative attributes of Congressman Santos, the Republican Party has been unwilling to dissociate itself from him. He would make a fine figure to represent the GOP, as did Trump.

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Where Did Trump Go?

Where Did Trump Go?

            Robert A. Levine   12-12-2022

Since Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president in 2024 election, he has been mostly out of sight. Unlike his usual parade of public appearances and rallies, he has been keeping a low profile, with few pronouncements other than his recurrent lament of the 2020 presidential election being stolen from him. Instead of pushing his candidacy, as would be expected, he has had little to say. What had happened to the usually ebullient, narcissistic and loud mouthed Donald?

There are a number of possibilities for his public reticence. One is that he is sick or simply tired. The Donald is not a young man, is obese and has risk factors for cardio-vascular disease. However, for someone who has been almost continuously in the public spotlight for the last eight years, one would have anticipated that some word would have leaked if he were ill in any way. Political fatigue is also an unlikely factor. Trump is a man who always likes to be in the public arena and has been a very energetic figure in the political world. It would be very unusual for him to recede into the background because he is too fatigued to get out there and spout off with his normal bravado, to elicit support from his base and antagonist responses from his adversaries.

Another consideration is that The Donald and his team are reassessing their political approach, particularly after the poor showing of Trump endorsed candidates in the recent elections. The loss in Georgia by Trump supported Hershel Walker in the Senate race was also a tough blow for him. The only prominent Trump acolyte who won was J.D. Vance as Senator in the Ohio election. Not only did most Trump endorsed candidates lose, but many of them asked him to stay away from their campaigns, and many barely mentioned his endorsement as they felt it might hurt rather than help them. His constant moaning about the 2020 election being stolen from him even though it has been thoroughly disproved, is old news. Many Republicans want to project a forward looking image and are reluctant to be weighed down by Trump’s baggage.

Yet another possibility is that The Donald is aggravated by the number of Republicans who seem willing to challenge him to be the next GOP candidate for president in 2024. The front-runner of course is Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, for whom Trump has already devised a derogatory nickname- Ron DeSanctimonious. This early attack by The Donald shows that he is taking deSantis seriously and sees him as a serious opponent. Other possible contenders who seem willing to throw their hats into the ring are Governor Glenn Youngkin of Virginia and former Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland. Former Congresswoman Liz Cheney is another possibility, but it is unclear whether she would run as a Republican or as an independent. This is not a complete list as others have also mentioned consideration of becoming candidates.

Actually, the more candidates there are in Republican primaries, the better the chances of Trump receiving the nomination. Much of Trump’s base is extremely loyal to him and would vote for him in a primary, while the other candidates would split the remaining vote. In this way, Trump might win even with a small percentage of the total Republican primary vote.

But aside from the next election which is two years off, The Donald may be upset by being blamed by many conservative pundits for the poor showing of his handpicked Republican candidates in the 2022 elections. In addition, some recent polls have showed Ron DeSanctimonious ahead of Trump as the desired Republican candidate for president. Trump may also be bothered by all the legal actions to which he is being subjected, his New York company already having been found guilty of fraud. And he has barely started running through his legal gauntlet.

The 2024 is still two years off and many things may change. But the question now remains- where did the usual Donald Trump go?

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Choosing Trump and Party Over Country

Choosing Trump and Party Over Country

                                    Robert A. Levine 9-12-22

Republican politicians and a large portion of the Republican Party know that Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election by millions of votes. The popular vote totals showed 81,200,000+ for Joe Biden and 74,200,000+ for Donald Trump. The Electoral College totals were 306 for Biden and 232 for Trump. Yet despite these overwhelming totals, Donald Trump claimed and still claims that he won the election and that it was stolen from him. Refusing to accept the will of the people in the election, he tried to have election officials change the vote totals in several states where his losses were relatively close. In Georgia, a criminal investigation is now going on regarding Trump’s attempts to overturn the election.

Given Trump’s propensity to lie and cheat, his actions and refusal to acknowledge his loss is not surprising. What is truly astonishing is the willingness of other Republicans to support Trump’s denial of his loss and spout the fiction that the election was stolen. These are supposedly intelligent men and women who hold high offices in the federal, state and local governments. Yet they are willing to bolster Trumps claims and provide them with credibility knowing that this will lead to more support from the Republican base that has accepted Trump’s lies all along. It also casts doubt on the reliability of America’s election system and of democracy itself.

The willingness of Republican elected officials to support Trump’s lies about a stolen election is a major threat to American democracy, convincing many Americans of the veracity of Trump’s claims. It has made numerous Americans question the legitimacy of Biden’s presidency and the various accomplishments of the current administration. It has made partisanship much more rabid and more difficult for Republicans and Democrats to work together at all levels of government.

Why have all of these knowledgeable Republicans who are aware of Biden’s victory refused to accept it as fact and continue to argue that the election was stolen. They surely realize the corrosive effects it has had on American democracy and ignore what it has done and is doing. The GOP politicians are supporting Trump’s claims because they want his backing and that of his base in their future runs for office. Not only do Republican officeholders and aspirants want his verbal backing, they are also hoping for financial aid from Trump and his wealthy acolytes. They know that they are lying for Trump’s benefit, that their lies increases partisanship and divisiveness between Americans, increases the possibility of riots and violence, and are detrimental to America, but they simply do not care. Their belief in Trump’s power and his ability to hurt their political aspirations outweighs their devotion to America and the Constitution. Trumps political supporters are willing to ignore the damage they are causing to American democracy to further their own political goals.

Some in Trump’s base can be excused for their allegiance to their leader and the acceptance of his lies because they are ignorant of the truth and do not know any better. But those Republicans who are educated and knowledgeable about politics, particularly politicians and business people, cannot be forgiven for their collusion with Trump and willingness to sacrifice the nation’s democracy for the furtherance of Trump’s, the Republicans’ and their own ambitions. Shame on them.

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The Teflon Donald

The Teflon Donald

            Robert A. Levine  8-29-22

The Mafia mastermind John Gotti was labeled by the media as the Teflon Don years ago because of his ability to evade punishment for his criminal activities. His abilities to find a way to make criminal charges and illegal activities not stick to him appears to have been transferred to our previous president Donald Trump. When you think about it, it seems amazing how many illegal or unethical situations he has wiggled his way out of over the years. Not only that, he has managed to accumulate tens of millions of followers who accept his false statements as truth had worship his corrupt persona. Is he coated with some sort of invisible material that forces the truth to bounce off him but allows his lies to escape?

Prior to entering the political arena Trump was considered a successful businessman by large numbers of Americans, even though many of his businesses were abject failures. Though he claimed to be a billionaire real estate mogul, four of his real estate ventures filed for bankruptcy in the past. These include the Trump Taj Mahal in 1991, the Trump Plaza Hotel in 1992, Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts in 2004, and Trump Entertainment Resorts in 2009. In some of these restructurings, billions of dollars of debt had been accumulated with Trump having personal liability and loss of some of his stake, as well of those of his investors. The Trump Airline Shuttle was never a profitable business and defaulted on its debt in 1990. The Trump University, aka the Trump Wealth Institute functioned from 2005-2010, supposedly teaching students how to make money in real estate and other investments. It was not an accredited institution and used high pressure tactics to recruits students, though it was actually a scam. There were several lawsuits against Trump and the company which he settled by paying $25 million in 2016, post-election. Successful businessman? Give me a break. Yet millions of Americans still see him in that light.

Since his election to the presidency in 2016, there have been multiple questions about illegitimate activity, many of them not yet resolved. The Mueller investigation regarding Trump’s involvement with Russian officials for help in his 2016 election campaign concluded there was insufficient evidence of a conspiracy. However, the investigation noted that Trump accepted Russian assistance and believed it would benefit him. He was impeached twice in the House because of his questionable actions but not convicted because of Republican support in the Senate. The first impeachments in 2019 were initiated with charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The second impeachment was on charges of incitement of insurrection relating to the Jan 6 raid on the Capitol.

In addition, after the 2020 presidential election, Trump claimed and continues to claim that the election was stolen from him, though there has been no evidence of fraud and the courts have turned down his suits multiple times. Notwithstanding, Trump still denies that he lost and has encouraged his followers to change election laws and place supporters in positions at state and local levels to decide any future elections.

Currently, a grand jury in Georgia is investigating whether Trump tried to influence officials to change the vote totals to favor him, an obviously criminal act of election interference. The DOJ and FBI have taken boxes of classified and top secret documents in a search of Trump’s home in Mar-a-Lago that Tromp brought with him illegally when he left the White House. The taking of these documents which were left in various parts of his home may have compromised national security. This may open him to a number of criminal charges if the DOJ pursues it further including obstruction and violation of the Espionage Act.

Alan Weisselberg, the Chief Financial Officer of the Trump Organization, recently pleaded guilty to 15 criminal charges involving tax evasion and has agreed to testify against the Trump Organization. Whether this will include Trump himself is uncertain, but it does appear that Trump valued his holdings differently for tax purposes and to acquire bank loans. It could lead to charges against him for tax evasion. In a deposition regarding this, Trump invoked the Fifth Amendment multiple times.

In addition to the above possible criminal actions, Trump also faces a host of civil lawsuits for various actions. However, the bottom line is with all the charges and lawsuits that are pending, Trump has not been found guilty on any of them yet, has not spent a day in jail and has not paid a dollar in any of the suits against him. So far! He also has the backing of his Republican base and the vast majority of Republican politicians. Teflon perhaps?

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DOJ- Where Are You?

DOJ- Where Are You?

            Robert A. Levine

Anyone who thought that Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice would see that justice was served in terms of the various criminal activities by Donald Trump and his cohort have been severely disappointed. While the DOJ has gone after those who were active in the January 6 insurrection, this was like going after low-hanging fruit, while taking no action against the leadership. It is now sixteen months since the insurrection and sixteen months since the end of the Trump cabal that ruled America. Though a prodigious amount of evidence of wrongdoing and criminal activity seems to be available, Donald Trump and his enablers are still free men with no restrictions upon their activities.

What is holding Garland and the DOJ back from going after the men and women who tried to overturn American democracy and are still trying? Aside from the evidence that the January 6 Congressional committee has accumulated, there is public information and data of what Trump and associates were trying to do. As far as I know, planning a coup and insurrection in the United States is still considered illegal. So why doesn’t Garland get off his ass and go after some of these miscreants and put them behind bars. We have always heard that Garland was cautious, discreet and worked slowly, but this is ridiculous. Many of the people who were involved in Trump’s manipulations are politicians and will be running for office. Early indictments may halt their bids or make voters have second thoughts about them, another reason why quick action is important.

Separate from the actions of the DOJ, recently elected DA Bragg in Manhattan who replaced Cy Vance is another law enforcement official who has been loath to tackle Donald Trump. Two major prosecutors in Bragg’s office with years of experience resigned after Bragg decided not to pursue Trump on criminal charges which the prosecutors believed were warranted. The Trump Organization and the CFO Alan Wesselberg are both being indicted, but Trump is being left out of the equation even though he was head of the business. The process makes no sense and one wonders if Bragg is afraid to go after Trump and his buddies.

Thus at both the federal and local level, law enforcement organizations are not doing their jobs in charging and bring to trial Donald Trump  and the members of his criminal groups. The leaders of the coup and insurrection are being bypassed while the little fish are meeting justice. The Trump Organization is being challenged while Trump himself, the head of the organization is being ignored. Tax evasion by Trump and his organization appears clear cut with different valuations being given for his assets depending on the purposes- for taxes or for collateral for loans. Justice delayed is justice denied and it is certainly being delayed for Trump both federally and locally.

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How Should White Nationalism Be Addressed?

How Should White Nationalism Be Addressed?

                                    Robert A. Levine

White nationalism and white supremacy have always been woven into the American fabric, even before the Revolution. Over the last decade however, it has grown in power and adherents. Is it possible to subsume this movement into the maw of American democracy, taming its tendency towards violence and moderating its racial exclusiveness to promote its other ideas? Can nationalism cross racial lines and be a unifying movement for the nation?

During his four years in office, Trump’s repeated messages about keeping immigrants out of America (unless they were from Northern Europe) and building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico buoyed white nationalists. The president refused to denounce white supremacists and racists who supported him, saying that they were very fine people. Some of the white supremacist groups were outgrowths of the Ku Klux Klan, the White Citizen’s Councils, the John Birch Society, and neo-Nazi organizations that supported Germany prior to World War II. Some arose from local political groups and militias and some from Christian identity movements. A number also formed as if by spontaneous combustion over the Internet, with like-minded people finding each other.

Many of the white supremacists are white working men and women, blue-collar workers, and unemployed people who need to feel privileged in a world where they are on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder. Their white lineage makes them feel special. However, there are white collar workers, corporate executives, professionals and successful business men and women who are also racists, believe in white supremacy and support these organizations either overtly or covertly. A number of policemen and members of the military are active white supremacists as well.

Counterintuitively, many white supremacists started with feelings of white victimhood, with the concept of ‘whiteness’ arising from many European-Americans during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The idea of whiteness provided working class European-Americans with some social and psychological advantages, along with economic ones. But during the late 20th and 21st century, job losses and economic stresses accentuated the idea of white victimhood. Forming or joining white supremacist organizations provided the working classes with feelings of pride and the notion that they were members of a privileged group. This ‘specialness’ of the white working classes and racist attitudes was reinforced by Trump, earning the devotion of the working classes.

When unjustified killings and maiming of blacks occurred during 2020, Trump took the side of the police instead of chastising them for the use of excessive force. In Kenosha, Wisconsin, he visited the police department after a black man was shot seven times in the back and paralyzed in front of his three young children. Trump ignored the man and his family. He also disregarded or made light of the Black Lives Matter movement, focusing on the riots and destruction that sometimes accompanied BLM demonstrations. He has denied as well that there is systemic racism in policing and American culture that needs to be addressed. What better president could there have been to bolster white ethno-nationalism?

Trump also tried to frighten voters, making law and order, racism and white grievance the driving forces of his campaign for re-election as president. He claimed that the Democrats and Biden would destroy the suburbs by moving in poor black families. Crime and violence would then increase and property values would drop. No president in recent history has aligned himself so completely with white voters, using overt racism in his speeches and tweets. Trump has also manipulated his nationalist supporters with conspiracy theories, such as his declarations that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.

The FBI, CIA, and Homeland Security are aware of possible domestic terrorists and do not want to be caught flat-footed as they were with the Oklahoma City bombings. Among private organizations with an interest in white nationalists are the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the Anti-Defamation League and the ACLU. The SPLC is particularly active in tracking down and exposing white supremacists who may be dangerous. Other groups include the Action Network and the Legal Aid Justice Center.

Making white nationalist groups more transparent is a step towards diminishing violence. Education about the humanness of other ethnic and racial groups through schools and churches, and the need for compassion and understanding might sway some of the less diehard members. However, using disaffected white supremacists and nationalists who were once members of these groups to explain their transformation might be more helpful. Of course, those who engage in violent acts or threaten terrorist actions must be brought to the bar of justice and incarcerated. But even in prison, attempts can be made to change views. It will be a heavy slog to try and change the hearts and minds of white nationalists who have been imbued with ideas of white supremacy since childhood and do not want to change their perceptions, particularly if they live among tribes of similar believers.  But attempts at change must be pursued.                       

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A Partisan SCOTUS- Is It Here To Stay?

A Partisan SCOTUS- Is It Here To Stay?                                                                                                            

Robert A. Levine      

McConnell and Trump got what they wanted. A partisan Supreme Court with a 6-3 conservative majority. McConnell prevailed by using unethical tactics, but he did not care. Though Trump and McConnell did not and still don’t see eye to eye on many issues, they both agreed that a conservative Supreme Court was a vital matter and any means that were necessary to reach their objective was worth it: by hook or by crook and they used both. No moral or ethical compass for either.

The unethical procedures began in the last year of Obama’s presidency when a seat opened up on the Supreme Court and the president nominated Merrick Garland, a centrist candidate who was well thought of in legal circles for the position. Disregarding precedent, McConnell decided that a nominee for the highest court should not be confirmed in the last year of a president’s term. This had never happened before, but McConnell proclaimed a new rule. He was hoping that a conservative Republican would next win the presidency and nominate a conservative candidate for the Court. His wishes were granted and Trump was elected president because of the arcane and undemocratic mechanism of the Electoral College, even though Trump lost the popular vote.

Trump’s initial nominee to the Court was conservative Neil Gorsuch who took the seat that should have gone to Merrick Garland. His second nominee was conservative Brett Kavanaugh who was accused of attempted rape by Professor Christine Blasey Ford when he was a high school student, and of sexual assaults on other occasions. He was also known in high school and at Yale as a heavy drinker. The FBI was not given permission by Trump and the Justice Department to look into all the complaints of sexual assault before Kavanaugh was confirmed by a Republican majority Senate. It was believed that Kavanaugh had likely lied to the Senate when questioned about the assaults.

The most hypocritical confirmation of a Supreme Court nominee shepherded in by McConnell came at the end of October 2020 when President Trump only had two and a half months left on his term. Amy Coney Barrett, another conservative was confirmed by the Republican controlled Senate, 52-48. She rose from being a little known law professor at Notre Dame to the Supreme Court in three years. Mitch McConnell simply changed his mind about nominating a member of the Court in the last year of a presidential term when that person happened to be a staunch conservative. And it wasn’t in the last year but the last two and a half months. Barrett replaced Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal justice who was held in very high regard in legal circles.

Prior to Trump’s presidency in 2013, the Supreme Court voted to overturn the main part of the 1965 voting rights act by a 5-4 vote, allowing nine states, mainly in the South, to alter their voting laws without obtaining federal approval in advance. The Court said that society had changed and federal supervision was no longer necessary. Since then, there have been major efforts to suppress minority voting in a number of states, by making registration and voting much more difficult. In fact, the Justice Department recently sued the state of Texas for their restrictive laws, a case that is certain to go before the Supreme Court. This term, the Court will also rule on a restrictive law regarding abortion passed by the state of Mississippi. Given the questioning by the Court of both sides, it is likely that Mississippi’s law will be upheld and Roe v Wade may even be overturned.

It is sad for our democracy that presidents who lost the popular vote have handed the Supreme Court over to conservatives who were confirmed by Senators who in total had less popular votes in being elected than their Democratic opponents. Is this the way democracy works? Unfortunately, it is. The only way this partisan Court can be changed is by Democrats maintaining control of the Senate and voting to expand the number of justices on the Court. Limiting the terms of justices so there is more frequent turnover would also be a sensible idea.     

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Setting Limits on the Treatment of Covid 19

Setting Limits on the Treatment of Covid 19                                                                                                                   

Robert A. Levine

Vaccinations have been a major medical advance, preventing many deaths and disabilities in various illnesses in the last two centuries. In today’s world, it defies belief that so many people refuse to accept scientific data and get vaccinated against Covid 19, particularly when they have already received so many other vaccines..

The conflict over Covid 19 vaccine mandates between the federal and state governments could be settled by physicians and nurses. These health care providers constantly put themselves in harm’s way to treat patients with Covid 19. In fact, many of them have been hospitalized after being infected with the disease and have died. From now on, doctors and nurses should refuse to treat any patient with Covid 19 who has not been vaccinated. Children who have not received the vaccine under parental guidance is another story and deserve accepted treatment if they are infected by Covid.

Physicians are supposed to treat any sick patients regardless of financial considerations, political or religious differences. However, physicians are also obligated to maximize public health and do what is proper for the greater good. With a highly infectious virus causing a pandemic and responsible for well over 600,000 deaths in America, it is incumbent upon physicians to see that their patients are vaccinated against this virus and also encourage patients to wear masks.

People who are not vaccinated are a danger to others in their communities as well as to themselves. Not obtaining the vaccine is a mark of selfishness and ignorance, not of freedom. Those who are unmasked in indoor settings are also a threat to public health and themselves, but masking cannot be sufficiently monitored to stop treatment of these people. Aside from causing unnecessary deaths and illnesses in other people by infecting them with Covid 19, and driving up the cost of health care, the unvaccinated also prevent patients with different illnesses and accidents from receiving necessary care. This occurs because unvaccinated patients who are sick use up limited resources such as ICU beds, ER beds, physicians’ time, ventilators and so forth. Why should physicians waste their time, effort and medical resources, and place themselves in danger to treat patients who did not care enough about other people to take the proper preventive measures themselves. It is also strange that unvaccinated patients who refused to be vaccinated are willing to be treated when sick with monoclonal antibodies.

There are some physicians who will disagree with this stance and say they are ethically obligated to treat any sick patient. But they are also obligated to consider the public health in the measures they take and this means pressuring unvaccinated patients to get the vaccine. Government alone will not be able to force the one third of the population that remains unvaccinated to be vaccinated. They need to be pushed by all health care providers refusing to treat patients who have not taken the proper preventive measures to maximize public health and end this pandemic. It is a necessary step to take to help the community at large, the unvaccinated themselves, people with other serious illnesses who cannot receive treatment, and the hospital staffs. Aside from health concerns, the economy will also be bolstered if the vast majority of the population is vaccinated.