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It's Election Time! What does voting GOP really mean?

I just filled out my election ballot that I'll either mail in (which has worked fine in Ohio for many years), or if I go through Chardon I'll drop it in the dropbox outside the Board of Elections office on Center St. in the NW side of town. I prefer voting this way since it's convenient, plus I can search the internet for judges & issues I'm not familiar with & vote based on research & reason. Voting in person through early voting or on Election Day is fine too, so long as voters likewise do their research ahead of time & vote based on reason. Speaking of reason, as a lifelong Republican (until that party went off the rails at least a decade ago & lost all reason & sanity), I feel I'm qualified to express all the numerous reasons to vote GOP in this election. A good rule of thumb since the orange menace is still in control of GOP politicians & their base, a vote for Republicans is still a vote for Maga Trumpism. With that in mind, the following explains what voting Republican at its core really means & sometimes I have a tendency to go on a rambling rant, so here it is below. And should I repeat myself in different sections, it's to emphasize a main point. But the most important point is it's not just me, as all of us who favor democracy need to have our voices heard to defend our freedoms! So if you like this message, please forward it onto your circle of influence. Send the link to everyone you know, be it emails, texts, social media or whatever means possible. I challenge people to read as much of this as they can, since it contains more truths than an entire months worth of Fox News prime-time shows, plus unlike that network all the falsehoods are filtered out.

First & foremost, the GOP base is mostly plugged into that disingenuous far-right media monster like Fox fake news, alarmist talk radio & nutty conspiracy-laden social media sites. The business model of that media rage-machine is to ratchet up anger & hate towards political opponents while portraying Republicans as holier-than-thou/walk-on-water omnipotent angels. Fox management made a deliberate decision to go full pro-Trump after he won their party's nomination in 2016, since research data confirmed he was good for ratings. And since the GOP & their complicit talking heads have zero constructive policy positions to solve our myriad of real problems, they resort to fearmongering & unjust vilification of opponents in scaring their audiences to vote GOP. Their brainwashing mechanisms have been incredibly successful, convincing the conservative base what's true is false & what's false is true. Today's Republican Party is operating like the lunatics who are running the asylum. Fighting their falsehoods is the first step towards preserving democracy. A free society gets in big trouble when such a large portion of the population are convinced to believe in lies (they're by no means dumb, just snookered). It's a free country so people have a right to be wrong. But we need to spread the facts so those still mentally residing in an alternate galaxy are given a chance to see the light, so they're better able to return back to the land of reality & sanity here on Planet Earth. Many of them only know the spin from conservative media & never leave their bubble, so we need to help them. We'll never convince most who have fallen asunder, but just by bringing some in the GOP back to reason & common sense, it could be enough to take away their power from electing destructive Maga candidates.

The Issues The GOP is fine with not fixing problems when not in power, as they prefer having stuff to complain about for election campaigns. I've always maintained a current president has little control over current economic conditions, but the pro-GOP media is having group conniption fits in falsely portraying this Biden economy, inflation & gas prices (which are a worldwide challenge from supply/demand shocks coming on the heels of a pandemic) as somehow rivaling the worst in recorded history. But notice how they're mum about Biden on our current record-low child poverty, robust job growth, manufacturing rebound, reducing Trump's enormous federal deficits & presiding over the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years. That echo-chamber loves to serenade Trump about gas prices that were under $2/gallon, but that occurred during a pandemic-induced economic shutdown which also saw the orange buffoon presiding over record deficits & job losses. There's also the not-so-small matter of the virus bringing on over a million American deaths, with some research studies indicating hundreds of thousands of those deaths were unnecessary had Trump not mishandled the virus out of the gates. It's a real mystery why the right-wing still revels in his orange presidency.

I have plenty of Christian family & friends who are immovable in their GOP support since their vote is entirely based on cultural issues like opposing abortion, gay marriage & transgender rights. Conveniently overlooked are a whole host of other issues, including lax gun registration laws which allow young punks to buy assault weapons even if they have a prior history of mental issues, enabling them to enter an elementary school to mass-slaughter children. So why aren't those Christians pro-life? And the orange bigot uses an anti-immigration message that from the beginning consistently ratchets up the emotions & anger from his base, from which his compliant media still enthusiastically uses their blowhorn for smearing desperate migrants. All those exaggerated claims about immigrants & the border are timed like clockwork with the right-wing spin machine hyping up that narrative just before every election, which dovetails into their scaremongering about crime (how ironic the same folks griping about crime back the most lawless American president in history). By the way, statistics show migrants who come here commit crimes at lower rates than homegrown Americans. In the next few sections, let's get into more details about the facts behind these anointed GOP talking points, especially what's behind the messaging on inflation, gas prices, crime & the border. Polling gives the GOP an advantage on these issues which is certainly undeserved.

Higher prices are an international challenge & the result of multiple issues combined together, including pent-up demand from the pandemic, supply-chain interruptions, Putin's war on Ukraine, & yes even those previous stimulus checks. But don't overlook the role of corporate greed. Many large corporations love gouging the public to enhance obscene profits knowing they can get away with it by blaming inflationary times. And what better time to do it than before a midterm to hurt the party in power by spiking inflation, knowing the more Maga candidates who win will help ensure keeping those cash-cow oligarch tax cuts. Granted, an annualized inflation rate of 8.2% is entirely too high, but it's likely to come down soon as the Fed has made it a top priority after being slow to react a year ago. And the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act is taking particular aim at reducing our highest-in-the-world prescription drug prices. Speaking of world prices, our 8.2% overall inflation rate puts America in the lower half among countries in the world, with various price pressures actually making double-digit rate increases common these days. Britain's new right-wing Prime Minister Liz Truss lasted all of 6 weeks before resigning, who perhaps was channeling Trump with reckless tax cuts which drove down the pound & shot up deficits as inflation soared into double-digits (which by extension provides an important lesson GOP policies won't solve the problems). Or just imagine the outrage in our nation if we had inflation like Argentina or Turkey which is 10 times higher than ours! So our country is managing a difficult circumstance better than most, & with Fed tightening along with administration policies we can expect to get a handle on inflation soon.

Another talking point Republicans are relying on is gas prices. They are high (which is instrumental in driving up inflation) not only because of corporate greed & Putin's war in Ukraine, but the Saudis have sided with Putin in reducing oil supply ahead of our elections, helping to keep up their mission of undermining America's pro-democracy forces for freedom (the Dems) in favor of our neo-fascist authoritarian movement (the GOP). Evil international dictators have been in the MAGA-fascist camp for years, being willing participants in dividing & crippling democracy, so right now they're doing a heck of a job. And there is plenty of land in our country available to drill on in getting us over the hump until alternative energy sources are more fully developed, but it's the oil companies (not Biden) who are reluctant to open up the spigots. Republicans even voted against a bill back in the spring which would have prevented gas price gouging by the oil companies (whose higher profits this year are running into the hundreds of billions), so GOP politicians in the House are all on record in voting for higher gas prices (they must really want that campaign talking point). So if people get angry whenever they pull up to the gas pumps, remember it's GOP politicians in cahoots with the oil companies who share in the blame. But the point that should override all others is the reality that inflation & high gas prices will seem irrelevant if we lose our democracy & our right to vote (more on that further below).

Another issue Republicans love to complain about but offer no viable solutions themselves is on crime. Much like inflation, any uptick in crime can largely be pinned on the upheaval caused by the pandemic, especially compounded by the continuing long-running trend of rising gaps between those in prosperity or poverty. But some of the blame can be put on the GOP hiding behind the Second Amendment & NRA to justify letting criminals have guns with no accountability or pushback whatsoever. Plus white nationalists are far more prone to violence than other demographic groups. The far-right still brings up the phrase "defund the police" which is certainly an unjustified smear, since overwhelmingly Democrats are not for that. But when I hear all the smears from the right against the FBI & total silence after the Jan. 6th insurrection when 150 Capitol Police were injured while a few ultimately lost their lives, it makes me wonder which side is really pro-law enforcement & tough on crime. Statistics even prove murder rates are higher in Trump's red states (search for the Third Way study), which I suspect reflects their higher rates of gun ownership. But their disingenuous talking points on this issue with racial overtones have been trotted out for years by the GOP to scare people. I recall during the Reagan/elder-Bush 12-year run, they took to the TV airwaves with the infamous Willie Horton ad as lines of prisoners were seen leaving jail through a revolving door. It was a specific handpicked racist example of how to terrify white people if there ever was one, but it was effective in helping Bush get elected. The irony is, despite the recent spate of copycat random shootings, murder rates & overall crime rates were far higher during those 12 years of Reagan/Bush than now.

As for the border, another trump card the GOP routinely plays before elections, it is NOT an open border as the alarmist-right always claims. More illegal immigrants are being apprehended than ever, plus there was a recent deal now allowing us to return Venezuelans back to Mexico. We do need to speed up asylum processing times to alleviate the backlog, since the number of legal migrants or temporary work visas remain historically low, & hardworking migrants are actually needed to help fill the many unfilled jobs. And stopping illegals does need to go more high-tech, since they've been shown to be quite proficient at digging under, laddering over, or cutting through any goofy/expensive wall (which Mexico would never pay for). We really need comprehensive immigration reform to fix a broken system, which would encompass a more efficient vetting process, permanent DACA solution & even include better border security, but it's the do-nothing GOP along with their obstructionist conservative media which has shot down those attempts every time. The ultimate solution would be stopping the abject poverty & violence happening in host countries like Venezuela, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Colombia & Cuba, but there are no easy or short-term answers. Blame also goes to the smugglers/coyotes who have quite a racket going in selling the idea to desperate migrants on coming to America. But I'll repeat again, Maga Republicans love such problems so they can complain about them, while they NEVER propose constructive ideas for fixing them.

We also have a Maga movement (I'm tempted to substitute the word maggot) that is riding on the crazy train by undermining our elections & Constitution, where many even consider violence justified if their candidate doesn't win. I've researched & warned about the rise of far-right fascism for a decade, which I truly believe that's what Maga has become having evolved out of the Tea Party movement. If we allow Maga to take back power in Congress with their large stable of election-denying autocrats, after 2-1/2 centuries of letting the people decide, we may never get another chance at free & fair elections (more on that further below). Any democracy requires political leadership & the people working together in protecting our freedoms. I've repeatedly sounded the alarms that we must not think America is immune from fascism. We're incredibly vulnerable now since our nation is more bitterly divided than at any point since the Civil War. I would even go so far as to say today's Maga movement in America is running parallel to the Nazi movement in Germany a century ago (yes, you read that right)! And there are thousands of Joseph Goebbels (former Nazi propagandist) out there on conservative TV, radio & the internet with websites, blogs & podcasts spreading conspiratorial disinformation. The uniformity & repetition of their narratives are what causes the lies to stick with their audiences, while progressives on the left simply do not have anything near that type of messaging infrastructure. The GOP keeps giving us vague slogans without specifics since their real agenda when unmasked is unpopular with most Americans. Consider some of their other stated positions. They've always fought to take away health insurance from millions of Americans, although for years they kept promising a better plan than ACA which was all a facade. Based on their actions (or non-actions), they also want to keep our prescription drug prices the highest in the world. They're even threatening to slash Social Security & Medicare in protecting their tax cuts for the rich (which doesn't trickle down much no matter what they say). The GOP constantly bemoans so-called socialistic/communistic welfare cheats, although rich oligarchs probably receive welfare benefits at the ratio of 1000 to 1 over poor people, reflected by the Trump tax cuts & various tax havens (do a search on the Panama Papers), deductions, write-offs, loopholes, depreciation, accounting tricks, social security tax caps, tax-free generational wealth & lower capital gains taxation where capital is given preferential rates over labor taxation. Way too many of the nation's largest corporations don't even pay taxes, while over the years employee benefits like private pensions have been slashed/eliminated. They also fight to keep the wages of middle class workers stagnant, protecting the rigged system that favors oligarchs & curses America with among the most disparate wage/wealth gaps in the entire developed world. The GOP's long-standing opposition to raising the federal minimum wage is just one of many examples how they cater to their big donors in the oligarch class, while studies conclude the majority of American workers are living paycheck to paycheck. A Rand Corp. study from a few years ago found that based on economic growth, productivity gains & the trending of wealth distribution in the 3 decades prior to 1975, approximately $50 trillion over the past nearly half-century has been systematically stolen away from the bottom 90% in favor of the oligarchs (top 1%). Yep, that's trillions with a "t," not a "b" or an "m." That equates into the working class on average earning $26,000 per year less than they otherwise would have. Go ahead & do a search for that study showing a $50 trillion theft. And this despite many workplaces becoming more demanding & stressful than ever. Plus as I mentioned, our distorted tax code keeps favoring capital over labor. Supply-side trickle down is a lie the GOP has pushed on us for decades with the consequences being seen in that Rand report. A recent AP-NORC poll reveals the majority of Americans believe the American Dream has gone askew, with today's 30-year-olds too often not achieving the same financial standing as their parents did at the same age, with striving for higher standards of living, upper mobility & home ownership becoming more difficult to obtain. I'm adamantly opposed to socialism, but if we don't have a concerted effort to fix modern-day capitalism, a frustrated working class (particularly the younger generations) are ready to opt for socialism as the preferred choice (and for good reason). Many of our youth are delaying marriage, kids, buying homes & other long-accepted entries into the middle class because they can't afford it, often buried under an avalanche of student debt. If we fail to find some constructive common-ground solutions & our options become a binary choice between European-style democratic socialism or an unfettered free market crony-capitalist oligarchy, because our present reality has swung the pendulum so wildly in favor of the top 1%, socialism doesn't look quite so bad compared to the alternative. While conservatives constantly rail against big government, it is fair to ask which is actually the bigger threat to individual liberty, be it giant monopolistic corporations or big government? History may not be an accurate guide in this modern high-tech global economy, but I would argue based on how wealth, greed, leverage & power are increasingly given over to the oligarchs, we may have more to fear from the private sector. They place profits over people, know no borders & can’t be voted out. However, when big conglomerates team up with big government, with corporate executives & shareholders having DC politicians in their back pockets, that kind of crony capitalism is the worst of both worlds as individual liberty is not a priority of the powers-that-be. Plus the GOP claims to back free markets without enforcing antitrust laws, which serves to stifle competition as oligarch multinationals get free reign to monopolize/dominate their respective industries, run roughshod over smaller competitors, along with exploiting workers & consumers for their own gain (which largely explains our rising costs-of-living). So the working class continues to get shafted as the system is rigged against them, while small businesses/new entrepreneurs struggle to gain traction. The divide between Wall St. & Main St. has become the Grand Canyon. In an incredibly wealthy nation like ours, it’s unconscionable for half the working population to be living paycheck to paycheck & constantly struggling to keep their heads above water. That is a key economic issue moving forward, restoring the American Dream by reigniting upward mobility, shared growth & opportunity for all. It seems based on our escalating income inequality, the American Dream has actually become more achievable in many other free nations. Turning things around will require creating jobs with purpose, not cookie-cutter BS jobs, along with a commitment towards advanced training for the high-tech careers of the future. I'm still at a loss to figure out what the orange former guy actually did to help the working class other than blow smoke to convince his fans he built some great economy, from which his doting base believed him much like they believe his stolen election lies. The trajectories of jobs added & GDP growth actually lagged behind Obama's second term, while expensive Chinese tariffs & bungled management of a new virus actually hurt workers where they felt it the most (in their pocketbooks). Blue collar workers who swung to Trump actually voted against their own self-interests, mainly because he talked a good game but had no viable solutions. His lopsided tax cuts for the wealthy were mostly pocketed by the oligarchs, finding their way to offshore accounts or went towards stock buybacks rather than trickling down to workers, so it only widened the absurdly disproportionate wealth/income divides while spiking deficits. Those tax cuts, his one lone major legislative achievement, provided a temporary sugar-high juicing the economy but didn't address our core problems. So this idea of such a great economy during those 4 orange years was actually a smoke & mirrors misnomer crafted by the orange BS'er & his loyal media. It's all about bluster/image/optics with him, not substance. And as the ultimate narcissistic egomaniac, the ex-prez never cared about helping the middle class, his calculations were devised to always & only help himself. One point I do want to make perfectly clear which differs from many progressives, I've never been in favor of creating a dependency mentality by expanding government handouts, but it's way past time to dedicate our attention towards creating a more equitable system where people can earn a livable wage with full-time work. As a nation we must somehow find determination & unity of purpose in figuring out a way people are better incentivized to earn what they deserve, not rely on freebies from the public sector or be taken advantage of from the private sector. There are so many issues Republicans not only fail to provide solutions, they're totally ignoring the problems. The elephant party is full of rabid climate change deniers whose actions speak to a love for dirty air & toxic water. It's increasingly apparent that droughts, wildfires, hurricanes & floods have gotten more severe, while melting glaciers & rising sea levels are legitimate threats, but the GOP is oblivious. Furthermore, with tuition costs in recent years rising far beyond the level of inflation, the GOP prefers to hamstring the futures of college students by keeping them mired in debt. They also prefer destroying the futures of DACA recipients, while current Maga leaders are exploiting desperate migrants by bouncing them around & using them for political props. Maybe that's still better than kidnapping kids from their parents at the border & keeping them locked in cages like President Orange did. In addition, the GOP has constantly fumbled the ball on other issues like debt reduction & infrastructure. This obstructionist gridlock party has regularly caused government shutdowns & keeps threatening to engineer a debt default which would throw our economy into total calamity. Any time moderates or liberals try to work with most GOP members on serious matters, they're virtually impossible to deal with. It's a my way or the highway attitude incapable of consensus/compromise, so nothing of consequence gets done. What is the GOP's plan, more tax cuts for the rich? Plus there are some with this bizarre & twisted infatuation to impeach President Biden for no specific reason if they win the House. Conversely, rural voters are getting more opportunity through Wi-Fi access thanks to Biden's Democrats so they can join the modern world & participate in the future economy, at a time when modern global economic pressures are working against rural areas & internet access could be their lifeline, but are they grateful? They'd vote Dem if they were.

Crimes & Indiscretions by the Mob Boss Let's also review the ongoing escapades of the orange crime wave. He's being hit from all directions with criminal investigations which the far-right fake media mostly ignores. The orange ex-prez is still in charge of the GOP, where the growing body of evidence indicates he tried to stage a coup while inciting violence (the Jan. 6th committee has basically proven it), & is under a grand jury investigation over strong-arming election officials in Georgia to change the results of the 2020 election. There is no credible evidence of widespread voter fraud in 2020, but the Maga cult believes their orange master since he's repeated the big lie of a stolen election over & over. If as a society we lose faith in our elections, our democracy is toast. For years the GOP has been trying to rig elections with sinister plots like gerrymandering, dark money & voter suppression, but that could be mere child's play compared to the totalitarian moves they'll likely pull off if they win enough elections, installing election-denying puppets into key positions in pivotal governing institutions at the local, state & federal levels. Even now we constantly see most Republicans & conservative media pundits downplaying & whitewashing the Jan. 6th hearings, plus keep denying the multitude of other sins the orange crime boss has committed. In another crime of note, Trump made off with classified documents which puts our intelligence sources & national security in jeopardy. And the DOJ along with the National Archives still can't find them all. Of course, the orange explainer has all sorts of corny excuses, such as the documents are his & he wants them back, he had already given them all back, the FBI planted them, they were only mementos, it's just a storage issue, his aides did it, they were in a hurry to pack before leaving the White House, previous presidents took millions of documents, the FBI was looking for Hillary's emails, he declassified those docs with his mind & so forth. Yes, the orange excuse-maker really said those things, statements not just contradictory but certifiably nuts! Stealing classified documents is a federal crime, while all those ridiculous excuses could be part of an obstruction charge added on. And yep, his fawning fans actually believed such asinine explanations when they also heard it coming from their chosen echo-media. There are even indications the orange hoarder sought a document exchange for Russian probe documents, while it was just reported some of the docs contained secrets about Iran & China (extremely sensitive & dangerous information if leaked or stolen). And perhaps what's most disturbing, America's enemies would likely pay billions for such sensitive top secrets, so we've gotta wonder what was Trump's true intent? In addition, the evidence suggests the orange crook has been implicated in multiple fraud cases with donations meant for charities, election fundraising or his inauguration committee, is under investigation by the NY AG in a civil case for tax/financial irregularities involving the Trump Organization, which dovetails into a criminal fraud & tax evasion case in Manhattan, plus was credibly accused by 2 dozen women of sexual assault including rape. The orange abuser even sat for a sworn deposition this week in a civil defamation suit stemming from an alleged rape. If they can get Trump's DNA, then E. Jean Carroll's black coat dress could become as famous as Monica's blue dress. None of this should surprise us, since we saw him in action as president display a variety of despicable traits, including bad judgement, bad temperament, pathological dishonesty & corruption beyond the pale. For example, the orange bombthrower further divided our already bitterly divided nation while committing 30,573 verifiable lies when in office (documented by the Washington Post & he continues to lie repeatedly after leaving office), gave tax cuts to the rich (despite the U.S. having among the highest income inequality rates in the world), along with dismissing & lying about a deadly virus when it hit our shores (& whose botched response set the stage for over a million American deaths), plus systematically kidnapped migrant kids at the border & put them in cages, in addition to excusing neo-Nazis in Charlottesville ("very fine people on both sides") & white supremacists ("stand back & stand by" was his retort during a contentious 2020 debate). On the world stage, we still see solid & growing evidence the orange demagogue colluded with Russia & tried to bribe/extort Ukraine (more on that further below), along with committing obstruction of justice during those investigations & earlier this year had the nerve to heap praise on Putin AFTER he invaded Ukraine! Trump also exacerbated climate change by exiting the Paris Accords, while placating our enemies such as Russia ("I don't see why it would be Russia" in Helsinki over election meddling which directly contradicted our own intelligence), North Korea ("is no longer a nuclear threat" after the Singapore summit), Iran (by exiting the Iran nuclear deal), Afghanistan (capitulating to the Taliban by cutting a deal in 2020 that led to them regrouping & taking back the country, so that debacle wasn't entirely Biden's fault) & Saudi Arabia (Trump's family reportedly grifted possibly billions off them while excusing the murder of an American journalist). If people think Hunter was bad, the Ivanka-Jared team used their orange daddy's position to grift multiple times the dirty money than Hunter ever did, which along with those shady Saudi dealings were also the dozens of trademarks awarded by China to Ivanka. America is now respected by our allies way more under Biden than Trump. But the orange wrecking ball's irresponsible handling of world affairs has filtered down & had a dangerous effect on his party. Some within the GOP actually favor withdrawing aid from Ukraine which would lead to a huge victory for Putin (so fully expect that Maga-fascist party may well hand over Ukraine to Russia on a silver platter should they win the House), siding with fascism over democracy that would certainly undermine the stability of democracies throughout the world. Yep, right on cue those Maga-heads always followed their orange mentor in cozying up to some of the world's most ruthless dictators over our NATO allies, favoring authoritarianism at the very time nuclear dangers are escalating (be fully aware all-out nuclear war is unsurvivable). So at their core, the GOP has been shown to be an anti-democracy movement which is essentially anti-freedom. I do bring up Trump a lot since although he's not officially on the ballot this year, he really is on the ballot since GOP candidates are overwhelmingly Maga who are shamelessly caving to their heinous heiness sprayed in orange. Getting back to his well-publicized lawless side, Teflon Don has managed to evade the law up til now, but with numerous probes offering up overwhelming evidence of criminal activities piling up, his lies & crimes may be about to catch up with him. If it's true nobody is above the law, Trump is headed for trouble. Expect more shoes to drop in the coming weeks/months & indictments could start flying around sometime after the midterms or after the holidays. If the legal system does finally take him down, what will be the reaction of his Maga cult? Will they still support him? Would the rank & file even get violent? (A word about the type of church I formerly attended & ushered for)...Despite the unbridled corruption, dishonesty, selfishness & apparent criminality coming from their earthly orange messiah, evangelical Christians (largely spurred on by being fervently anti-abortion) overwhelmingly support this guy & are unquestionably his most important base supporters. Their Christian nationalist movement has politicized religion, joining forces with the likes of white supremacists & QAnon conspiracy mongers, while the world watches & clearly sees the hypocrisy. I personally choose to vote Democrat up & down the ballot since in looking at the bigger picture, I refuse to sacrifice my moral principles. And I'm not pigeonholed into being a single-issue voter. It's clear to me & so many others that Trump & his Maga movement are polar opposites of the teachings of Jesus. I can't deny the culture wars which have plenty of Christians up in arms are hurting the evangelical church, but I truly believe & implore Christians to consider the greatest damage to the church is coming from within. I also believe the breakdown of the family unit is at the heart of our societal ills which stem from moral, cultural & economic decay tearing at the fabric of our society, but there can be no justification for evangelicals sacrificing moral values in favor of untethered political power. We are not a theocracy with religion forced upon us like in Iran or Saudi Arabia, our faith is freely given & freely received. I sense the faithful are living inside a bubble & can't see the damage they are doing. The term Christians has lost its meaning, since we now must distinguish between genuine Christians or Christian nationalists as there's an enormous difference. Touting Maga with all their deception & fallacies badly tarnishes one's Christian witness! The real tragedy is millions are leaving the church or would never consider coming in the first place, since it's now seen by so many in the outside world as some extremist political movement even more than a faith of God. New converts tend to be the Maga faithful, coming to church for all the wrong reasons.

The Coup Attempt & Insurrection Now let's review the overall findings from the Jan. 6th committee which still hasn't finished their work, while they just subpoenaed Trump & a final report will be released by year's end. As laid out so well from the hearings, Trump’s assault on our electoral system was a premeditated & still ongoing attack featuring a well-planned coup attempt followed by a violent insurrection as a last resort. In my blog prior to the Nov. 2020 election, I predicted many of the ways the wannabe orange dictator would try to steal the election, so we'll cover what actually happened in the next few paragraphs. Knowing he was trailing in the polls prior to the election & was likely to lose, our orange autocrat-in-chief laid out an elaborate scheme which initially required convincing his echo-media & Trumpeter base that he could only lose if the election was rigged against him. That fits a pattern of him claiming election fraud, since he insisted the 2016 Iowa Caucuses were rigged when he lost to gridlock-nerd Teddy Cruz. Even when he wins the orange spoiled brat cries foul, since he won the presidency in 2016 with the electoral count but lost the popular vote, so he falsely asserted millions of his votes were undercounted. So when the then-president really did lose the 2020 election, his mentally-preconditioned Maga base believed him when he said it was stolen. It didn't matter to Trump that his own DHS director stated in mid-November the 2020 election was the most secure in history, while a month later his AG Barr said claims of election fraud were BS, the orange shyster was determined to sell a false narrative no matter the facts. There were several other factors involved in Trump's coup attempt long before the 2020 election & yet again Russia played a role. Despite what conservatives have been trained to believe, Russian collusion was very real ahead of the 2016 election, as Trump henchmen did their boss' bidding by working together with lots of shady Russian contacts. Among the evidence was Roger Stone keeping the orange colluder in the loop on the WikiLeaks email dump, Paul Manafort giving sensitive geo-polling data to a prominent Russian oligarch, while sonny-boy Don Jr. sent a message "I love it" over plans by a Russian spy whom he had a meeting with her at Trump Tower in NY. Robert Mueller's team was boxed in by partisan DOJ AG's Whitaker & Barr over how far they could investigate Russian ties with the Trump campaign, while Barr badly misrepresented the findings before the final Mueller report was made public. Having gotten away with their Russian interference plot, an emboldened Trump gladly looked the other way & again gave tacit approval for letting Russian bots flood social media sites with assorted disinformation & conspiracies ahead of the 2020 election. Undeterred, the orange schemer boldly expanded the foreign interference map for illegally tainting elections, as a recorded phone call more than a year prior to the 2020 election has Trump telling Ukrainian President Zelensky "I would like you to do us a favor though." That "perfect call" (according to Trump) was actually a lead into a bribery/extortion scheme where Ukraine receiving critical military equipment was predicated on Zelensky first publicly smearing Joe & Hunter Biden with concocted dirt that crazy Rudy (Giuliani) was digging up from hobnobbing with Russian spies. Trump was correctly impeached for that sinister plot since he was caught red-handed based on that call & other evidence/witness testimonies, but once again he was let off the hook, this time by a rigged jury (the GOP Senate). I should also point out long before Trump ever solicited foreign help to interfere in our elections, his party had already built an election infrastructure which slants the process in their favor. Such subtle voter manipulation has been occurring for years through gerrymandering (crazily drawn maps), Citizens United allowing for dirty money donations to campaigns, over-representation of less-populated red states in the Senate, & in electing presidents with electoral college vote totals instead of the popular vote. As the 2020 election got closer, our orange president devised some other twisted maneuvers to try giving himself an unfair advantage, so it appears he was far more focused on this election trickery than fighting a pandemic that was killing thousands of Americans every day. The coup scheme had various tentacles, including the corrupt crony he put in charge of the postal service who managed to ditch sorting machines resulting in slower delivery times, presumably so mail-in ballots which favored Democrats would arrive too late to count. Other ways deliberately designed to suppress the Dem vote (which we're also seeing some of this happening in this year's election) included intimidation/threats towards voters & election workers, orchestrating hours-long lines in inner cities through fewer voting locations, reducing or eliminating ballot dropboxes, purging voter rolls, plus filing court cases to restrict voter registrations/eligibility or challenge state election laws. As election day approached, there was also a push to reject ballots over trivial technicalities like signature verification/witness signatures plus a confusing double envelope scheme. Perhaps we're actually witnessing the return of Jim Crow laws, seen in videos this month as the despicable Gov. DeSantis actually had legal black voters arrested in Florida for legally voting (I'm not making this up)! It may be a prelude of the voter suppression to come from GOP-Maga. But getting back to 2020, some of Trump's closest aides admitted he decided well before the election (win or lose) to declare victory, preparing a speech that he delivered in the wee hours of election night claiming he won despite lots of votes that still weren't counted. He knew full well that certain swing states could only count predominantly Democratic mail-in ballots after the same-day votes, so the orange blowhard even called for vote counting to stop in those states before he would inevitably lose his lead.

I also predicted much of the post-election circus charade Trump would engage in, so in addition to the detailed rundown I wrote about in my blog back then, I also made this general statement on the eve of election night..."We need to be prepared for everything since he’s capable of most anything, including an attempt to stage a coup through the courts & state legislatures, or inciting violence through his white supremacist army. I repeat, don’t put anything past this guy!" Front & center was Trump & his hired henchmen arm-twisting & brow-beating any office holders with standing to switch vote counts, including local election officials, state attorney generals, secretaries of state, state legislators, GOP governors, congresspeople, DOJ officials, judges, generals, electoral college voters & the VP. On those last two, not even an avid never-trumper like myself who studies this stuff could have ever guessed he would stoop so low as to hatch his fake elector scheme (which screams out the intent to conduct a successful coup was real), while the President nearly got his Vice President killed on Jan. 6th (think about that, we're America, not some banana republic)! The orange bully was even recorded on a call to the Georgia secretary of state which proved he was insisting they add/switch votes to steal that state's election, saying on that call "I just want to find 11,780 votes," while we also recently discovered John Eastman's emails confirm Trump's criminal intent. In addition, Trump's lawyers were grasping at straws in filing frivolous election fraud lawsuits which 60 courts (including some Trump-appointed judges) threw out for lack of credible evidence. Mr. orange-litigation has spent a lifetime cheating & suing people into submission, but his lawsuits didn't work this time around. There were also all those vote audits with some places even doing multiple audits. Most of those purple states were backed by paper ballots, so those numerous recounts showing the accuracy of the original vote counts did prove there was no widespread voter fraud. So by extension that does provide rock-solid evidence Trump's rants about a stolen election are simply nonsensical gibberish, while the crazy conspiracy theory about rigged voting software switching votes is equally ludicrous & has been thoroughly debunked. Sure, that software does have some admitted vulnerabilities which are being addressed, but there are absolutely no signs of any manipulation or irregularities for 2020. Not even Hugo Chavez who died a decade ago could steal the election from Trump as some astute Maga-minds somehow believe. The Maga-universe actually brought the "cyber-ninja" team into Arizona to deliberately look for voter fraud in helping Trump win, but after months & months even they came up empty. And consider that not just one, but at least 3 states would need their vote results overturned for Trump to win the general election. Al Gore in 2000 had a legitimate beef, Trump doesn't. When all the various coup tactics failed, Trump incited the crowd on Jan. 6th to storm the Capitol & stop the election from being certified. In my blog prior to the insurrection, I did warn it looks like violence was about to break out. And as the Jan. 6th hearings showed in numerous videos, violence did break out in spades by an armed mob. Trump wanted them armed since he asserted they weren't there to shoot him, so he demanded the metal detectors be removed. And in the middle of the mayhem, he failed to call in security reinforcements since he loved watching the violence play out on TV. As a result he was rightly impeached a second time, but again gutless Senate GOP members capitulated to their orange leader & rigged the jury in his favor. Trump-inspired Maga truly is the biggest internal threat to our democracy in our lifetimes! Based on the preponderance of evidence & whether conservatives are willing to admit it or not, what the orange demagogue did was in fact a coup attempt. And it continues through today, as at his cult rallies (with smallish crowds) the bitter sore loser Maga-king is still falsely harping about the 2020 election being stolen from him, even though the hearings revealed in private conversations he had admitted to losing but his yuge ego won't let it go. A violent insurrection on the Capitol should have brought about the demise of Maga, but instead their unhinged movement is as dangerous as ever & seems to keep getting worse. In polling done since the Jan. 6th insurrection, roughly 2/3 of GOP voters still refuse to believe Biden legitimately won the election, with around 1/2 of them declaring violence may be justified if elections don't go their way. The more fringe among the Maga base (i.e. Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, QAnon adherents & the like) seem ready to take up arms & engage in civil war should cult master Trump either gets indicted or loses the next presidential election. They remain baffled how Biden could receive 81 million votes & their orangeman Trump had such big enthusiastic crowds during campaign rallies, not realizing the revved-up anti-Trump fervor was even larger than the turnout on their side. The Maga-crowd's claim running rampant out there about election fraud is not based on credible evidence, but are only wild rumors, speculation & innuendo (& wishful thinking). The real problem for our nation is not in the vote count themselves, but it's coming from conservatives being bamboozled into not accepting the vote counts which could permanently undermine elections. Moving forward, the Maga-GOP has visions of stacking positions of authority with far-right election deniers who'll comply with the next GOP candidate or president who wants to change the votes in their favor, which would be a totally fascist move. There is another serious concern how the conservative Supreme Court has taken up a case that could award state legislatures unfettered power to steal their state's elections. The stacked high court is a real danger to strike down a number of key provisions from the Voting Rights Act. It may not be Trump who'll benefit, but it could unduly elect a dangerous protege operating out of the same Maga playbook. So with all the candidates/issues we'll be voting on from now through Nov. 8th, first & foremost democracy is on the ballot & it's imperative we cast our votes to preserve that! The more Maga Republicans who are elected into positions of power, the more they'll be able to tilt the institutions of power towards usurping unfettered power by nefarious means, stealthily staging a slow-motion coup for 2024 & beyond. Nearly a century ago, the percentage of German citizens supporting the Nazi Party was only in the 30's, which was enough to get Hitler appointed as chancellor in early 1933. So once they took control of the institutions of power & state media, did away with free elections & began their reign of terror, it was too late to stop them. Is Maga our version of the Nazis? Conservatives are the ones who largely ignored the Jan. 6th hearings, & they'll mock or lash out in anger at the mere suggestion of a Maga-Nazi comparison, but there are stark similarities. As a society we need to decide & unlike Germany, we'd better not make a tragic mistake.

Brainwashing from the Far-Right Media Trump is a figurehead & likely just a symptom of a bigger problem. Paul Ryan may be right in saying by 2024 Trump's unelectability will be palpable, but the dangerous elements of this nonsensical & dangerous autocratic pseudo-conservatism will most likely remain. Extremists have hijacked the party & their messaging, which that Frankenstein monster is out of control, reflected by the many awful candidates the GOP has on the ballots this year. They also incessantly attack institutions & the mainstream media to where Americans have lost trust. Ironically, the mainstream media (among the last lines of defense against forces who'd steal our democracy) in striving for balance by presenting both sides, often fall into the trap of justifying right-wing gaslighting that seeks despotism. But they're not the real problem. I've believed for years the hyperpartisan far-right media is the single biggest imminent threat America faces (until Putin started threatening nukes), since most of the conservative base have bought into their distortions, diversions, exaggerations, spin, lies & conspiracies. A free society can't function for long when roughly 1/3 of the population cannot accept facts. The far-left also has their own partisan media that's sometimes rather far out there, but at least they're fact-based, whereas the far-right talking heads just make stuff up. The biggest difference is the far-right deception machine is so much more prominent & influential on radio & social media, effectively brainwashing tens of millions of Americans into a fear-filled, demonize-the-opposition alternate reality. It started with Rush Limbaugh, then went increasingly towards right-wing extremists on the internet & numerous other radio talk shows polluting peoples' minds by dragging the narratives further & further to the right, until finally Fox News gave in by broadcasting that same deranged rhetoric since that's what their viewers wanted. And their messaging continues to get more & more extreme & outrageous since that's how they keep getting noticed. Fox prime-time shows have become so unhinged they're practically unwatchable. Insanity Hannity has consistently bent himself into pretzel-shapes trying to defend even the worst of Trump, while Russian TV actually airs Tucker Carlson's inexcusable pro-Putin propaganda! Trump's whole campaign when running for the presidency & his governing from the White House were all based on spewing the very same propaganda dished out by his anointed Maga-media, which allowed him to piggyback off a phony reality-TV show & build that unconditional support among his loyal base. That attraction was so strong that almost all GOP politicians went along with the charade, choosing power over country. What is it about the orange illusionist that he seems to have this mystical spell over crazed supporters? It's why I've always considered the mindset of hardcore Maga-Trumpeters to be more like a cult. And that deception filters through to their fake far-right media & their party. So Maga has hijacked & is now in control of the Republican Party with their nihilistic tribal grievances. I admit to being a former Fox-watching, Limbaugh-listening moderate conservative, but their narratives were relatively sane back in the day before sacrificing their principles & devolving into tools of mass delusion. As a formerly lifelong Republican, I would not vote for any Republican these days since the party has become toxic. They've gone too far off the rails with Maga & their orange figurehead sapping the life out of them like bloodsucking leeches, destroying whatever was left of constructive compassionate conservatism. It's why since 2015, the day Trump said John McCain wasn't a hero because he was captured, then a few months later was overheard on that Access Hollywood tape from a bus bragging about abusing women, I've often said I would vote for Donald Duck over Donald Trump. Keep in mind the United States of America is a great nation, but the divided states are destroying us. To reunite, we must first call out/debunk the sins/lies from Maga & their complicit media. I'll repeat, nothing is a bigger ongoing danger to our democracy than the dishonest autocracy-supporting far-right media, while they've effectively brainwashed their fans into thinking the mainstream media is the real threat. Rational people can tell the difference between disinformation & truths if they're paying attention. For entertainment value in riling up viewers/listeners, the grifting far-right media hikes their ratings by creating villains to demonize beyond reality, with the current primary targets being Biden, Hunter, Hillary (going on 30 years so they can't give her up), Kamala, Obama, Pelosi, AOC, RINOs, deep state, reporters, IRS agents, FBI, Garland, CDC, Fauci, Soros, election workers, election officials, judges, antifa/BLM & anyone else they can concoct a false narrative for political gain. And the primary topics which again are exaggerated beyond reason for shock value include socialism/communism, wokeness, CRT, schools, books, the border, crime, vaccines/masks, workers unions, CNN, MSNBC, SNL, mainstream media, big government, big tech, alternative energy, canceling oil pipelines, electric car batteries, big cities, California, China, Disney & the list of vilified targets goes on & on, with the biggest fools even having the gall to bash Ukraine (whose side are they on?). Instead of real news, those conspiracy networks would prefer keeping their customers riveted with years of hyping up nothing-burger stories like the Benghazi probe suspense or the contrived Spygate/FISA-warrant scandals, so these days they keep the hoax going with capers detailing hours of coverage on the latest Hunter Biden hyperventilating or John Durham witch-hunt flop of an investigation. Plus that right-wing disinformation media constantly disparages Biden's mental prowess, but consider the fact Uncle Joe never suggested injecting bleach or shining sunshine inside the body to cure Covid. Neither did Biden elevate the status of evil on the world stage by giving effusive praise to murderous dictators in Russia, Saudi Arabia & North Korea (nope, no love letters to Kim Jong un). And never would President Biden ever think about calling our deceased military heroes "suckers & losers" as Trump reportedly said. Plus Uncle Joe is not a mentally-unstable narcissistic egomaniac. So if they're really worried about possible senility in our president, they should look to Biden's predecessor. So at the urging of the far-right media, what does it really mean to vote Republican? Consider this list: *They are embracing lies & distortions *They are embracing a bitterly divided society *They are embracing racism, bigotry, xenophobia & misogyny *They are embracing gaslighting narratives taking us into a false reality *They are embracing attacks on the First Amendment *They are embracing a distorted interpretation of the Second Amendment *They are embracing attacks on the rule of law *They are embracing attacks on hard-working & essential civil servants *They are embracing a mentality that advocates violence *They are embracing a lack of integrity, virtues & principles *They are embracing greed & corruption *They are embracing criminality among their leadership *They are embracing attacks on our Constitution, free elections & democratic freedoms It's Up To Us! We can have that chicken-or-egg debate about who's really driving their destructive messaging along with their orange gaslighter, be it the conservative media machine or their GOP base audiences? The fact of the matter is both groups are to blame, since that messaging is masterful in brainwashing their flock & the flock gravitates towards hard-edged media that demonizes their perceived enemies. I find it scary that we live in a country where the likes of Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity & Alex Jones can find an audience. So yes, these shows do lie regularly because their audiences have been deceived into believing the propaganda & it's what those listeners expect to hear. As the rational pro-democracy side, we must defeat their Maga-movement & preserve our free country! So it's important we all get involved. Combating the monstrous far-right media cartel isn't easy, but we do have facts on our side. Please copy this message &/or forward the link to my rant onto your Republican/Independent friends. They're not coming to the Geauga Dems blog page on their own volition. Show them the truth & encourage them to vote for higher standards. For most of them their loyalty is hopelessly entrenched & hardened, but if we can collectively swing the vote by just a few percentage points, that could be the deciding factor in which party will control Congress. And I do hope voters look at the big picture overall with a longer-term vision, rather than a myopic view of their own personal pocketbooks in these trying times. Even $10 gas or going through a recession would be a utopia compared to living under fascism. Too many people are not paying attention to the real threats! If we lose our precious freedoms, we'll never forget how good we once had it! Also send this link out to Democrats. Energizing our voters gives us a shot at accomplishing what was unthinkable earlier this year & defy historical precedent with the president's party holding onto Congress in a midterm election. Even just holding the Senate can stop a lot of their right-wing mischief. Let's implore others to understand democracy is worth voting for! The threat is real & not resonating in the minds of voters nearly as much as it should be, otherwise Maga would be finished. So voters need to know they can either vote for democracy or the GOP, but it's impossible to vote for both. We also need to understand the severity & blame placed for inflation, gas prices, economic challenges & crime are being badly misreported by the Maga-media, while taking away the rights women had for a half-century is energizing women & especially young women to vote (but I personally think the Dems might have made a mistake by focusing their ads so much on abortion rights, they're failing to adequately address the economic issues so prominent in voters' minds). Democrats do actively try to solve our numerous problems by proactively getting things done, while the GOP is the obstructionist do-nothing party. So while a worldwide challenge of high inflation coming out of a pandemic would not be something any American president could solve quickly, GOP policies fail to even address the issue & would probably make things even worse. Meanwhile, the orange blob continues to weigh down the GOP like an anchor around their necks so this is not our granddad's Republican Party! The Dems do seem to have lots of enthusiasm going into November which is rare for the midterms, so let's recapture that momentum which caught fire during the summer & finish strong these next couple weeks, from which turnout will be the key & robust voter registrations/early voting numbers in some places have been encouraging. So in conclusion, we need to know what we're really voting for if we vote Republican. If voters prefer transitioning from democracy to autocracy along with terrible domestic & foreign policies, the GOP is definitely for them. So the choice is clear, voting Republican is choosing Maga-fascists along with all these other policy positions designed for chaos & gridlock seen throughout this message. Alternatively, I hope you'll choose wisely & encourage others to do likewise. It’s time for Americans to grasp the gravity of the moment! This is the time for choosing truth over lies, competence over lunacy, expertise over buffoonery, constructive governing over obstruction, unity over polarization, fairness over greed, the common good over narrow tribal interests, equal opportunity over dog-eat-dog, the middle class over wealthy oligarchs, integrity over corruption, character over narcissism, empathy over self-absorption, civility over division, law over criminality, freedom over tyranny & democracy over demagoguery. In voting for the GOP, it only condones their behavior & gives them license to keep wreaking havoc on our constitutional republic. On the ballot throughout the country are 291 GOP candidates for Congress & major statewide offices who are avowed election deniers, being a majority of Republican candidates running in those key races. And alarmingly, a majority of those 291 are favored to win. The more Maga Republicans who get elected to office now, the easier it will be for them to succeed with their next coup. So make no mistake about this threat, by winning they'll be in position to upend the 2024 presidential election (if Maga wins the White House two years from now by hook or crook, my planned escape route from here is a 3-hour drive to the Canadian border). Polling does show threats to democracy is now a major issue. Most policy positions do favor Democrats, but in recent years I've often wondered if policies should even matter that much until we first defeat that fascist movement, as saving democracy is the one issue which should "trump" all others! At this unique time in our nation's history, we cannot afford to be complacent. With so much at stake, please spread the word & boldly stand up for our democracy! Sincerely, TheVORACS (Voice of Reason and Common Sense)

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