Month: February 2017

Fascism Alert – Asset Forfeiture, A Tool to Destroy Dissent

George S LedyardNot only is legitimate news under fire from our developing totalitarian administration, but the ultra right is incrementally setting up the means to shut down dissent. Initiatives are systematically being introduced in state legislatures all over the country by ultra right GOP legislators. This is a nationally coordinated effort and, if successful, will allow the authorities to basically destroy any individual or group that is involved in protests.

Check out this article on a successful effort in Arizona to pass this type of oppressive legislation.

Arizona Senate votes to seize assets of those who plan, participate in protests that turn violent

Suppressing dissent

This is not using existing laws to prosecute individuals who break the law by becoming violent at a demonstration. It is making it possible for the government to go after any group that organized the demo, any sponsor of the demo, even the other individuals who participated even though they may not have broken the law.

Seattle Women's march

This is an incredibly insidious effort. It is escaping notice largely because the right has chosen to operate at the state level rather than the Federal level. The right has found ultra right legislators in states all over the country to sponsor this legislation. It is virtually identical and was clearly constructed by some shadow group behind the scenes and disseminated to sympathetic supporters at the state level.
Do not be deceived. This is a concerted effort to give the government unprecedented authority to supersede all existing laws to destroy those who organize dissent. It is presented as a way to get violent protesters to pay for damages caused by their violent actions. But the wording allows a much broader application than simply holding individuals responsible for their actual behaviors. It also serves to make the use of provocateurs much more effective in destroying peaceful dissent. A few individuals involved in violence can cause the entire demonstration, organizers and participants,  open to asset forfeiture.
Authoritarianism, Trump, asset forfeiture, suppressing dissentThis is a hugely powerful and dangerous step towards authoritarian government. Coupled with the unprecedented and concerted attack on legitimate mainstream media you are seeing an effort to prevent the ordinary citizen from being presented with any alternative points of view which might oppose what the administration is pursuing.

Donald Trump and the White Supremacists

George S LedyardI think that there is no doubt that Donald Trump is not anti-Semitic. His daughter and son-in-law are Jewish. He is a huge champion of the State of Israel.
But throughout the campaign and right up to the present day, he has repeatedly past up opportunities to disown the support he was receiving from the Alt Right, the Neo-Nazis, the KKK, and other white supremacist groups.
I Think this is largely due to the fact that he is thoroughly Republican in his bias against people of color. The radical white supremacist fringe is quite aware that Trump isn’t one of them. But they also have understood that he has been willing to accept their support and that he is at least sympathetic to some of their biases.
Alt Right, White supremacist, Neo-Nazis, Aryan Nations
They seem to have believed that they could use him to further their own ends. But Trump is a developing would be dictator. If the racist, white supremacist movement crosses a certain line with regards to violence against the Jewish community, I think that Trump will loose the full weight of the law enforcement establishment upon their heads.
Church burnings, neo-nazis, KKK, Aryan nationsTrump might be willing to put up with gay bashing. He might overlook violence against followers of Islam and Mosques. He might choose to remain ignorant of church burning and other anti Black violent incidents. But if these people push their anti-Semitic agenda too far, Trump will abandon them just as Mao abandoned the Reg Guards and turned the PLA loose on them when he decided the Cultural Revolution had gone too far.
Anti-Semitism, violence, Neo-Nazis
white sumpremacistsBut in the mean time, we watch as the power of these groups is growing. Our Jewish community becomes increasingly alarmed at the failure of the government to take these threats seriously. The latest news that the Trump administration had instructed the Homeland Security Department to take domestic right wing hate groups off the terrorism watch list and focus on Islamic terror threats has done nothing to reassure anyone that the white supremacist threat will be dealt with before they commit some truly heinous act of violence. Under Trump, “Never again” starts looking more like “Probably not again” and that is truly frightening.
Article from The Hill – Jewish community centers receive new wave of bomb threats

Steven Miller – We Should All Be Afraid, If We Weren’t Before

George S LedyardWe keep being told that bringing out the term “Fascist” is inappropriate and inaccurate when talking about the Trump administration.

Steven Miller as Brown ShirtI am sorry but it would be impossible to find a person who sends up more red flags than Steven Miller? Don’t let the suit and tie fool you… this is a contemporary version of a Brown Shirt.

Steven Miller and Joseph GoebbelsWhen you hear that Trump’s executive power shouldn’t be subject to judicial review… when we are being told that Trump’s decisions are not open to question… then you are looking at a Fascist, a totalitarian, or a supporter of autocracy, a proponent of despotism, however you wish to describe it. The fact that Trump publicly thanked this man for how he represented the President on all the talk shows should tell you everything you need to know.Trump Tweet - Steven Miller

This guy is one step from telling us that we should make Trump Emperor for Life. He is easily the scariest man to have appeared in the administration since Steve Bannon. Another Joseph Goebbels point man for the Great Leader.
We are a Constitutional Democratic Republic. A nation of laws. When you have a spokesperson trying to maintain that a President’s actions cannot be subject to judicial oversight, you are hearing the verbal justification for a totalitarian takeover of the government. This is the beginning of a Cult of the Personality, the justification for dictatorship. No one must question the absolute power of the leader.
If there are any genuine Conservatives left in our government, they should be quaking in fear. They should be asking at what point do they step up and start resisting this threat to the democracy they say they care about so much?

These are not just people who have a different political agenda from us. It isn’t just their ideas and policies. These people are a type that is seen throughout history. The fanatical, true believer. This is precisely the kind of person who would send a family off to the camps and not think twice about it.

white supremacists, Fascists, Trump, Steven Miller
We cannot allow these people to prevail. Resist.

My Reply to the Working Class Guy on Facebook

George S LedyardA recent thread on Facebook was Trolled by a Tea Party Trump supporter who posted,
“THE LIBERALS ARE AFRAID OF TRUMP BECAUSE THE PEOPLE HAVE THE POWER NOW”
This is my reply…
[Name}… you clearly are not terribly bright. When you say Liberals are scared because “the people” have power now, what the hell do you mean? Did Liberals become a new species at some time I didn’t notice? We are just as much “the People” as the rest of you. My family has been here since well before the Revolution so you can’t pull that more American than I am BS.

Anyway, I suspect you mean the little guy, the working class stuff, the ones who do the blue collar work in our country. If that is what you mean by “the People” then you would be dead wrong. If you said that they were responsible for electing those in power now, you would be reasonably accurate.

But no, those “people” are not in power. They have in fact given power to a bunch of super elites who are in the top tenth of 1% in terms of wealth and whose agenda is almost totally devoted to assisting big corporate interests in making more profit.

You are foolish to think that this group of billionaires, CEOs and other top corporate types give a shit about the “little man” except when they need your vote. Now that they are in power, you can watch as your country is sold off to corporate interests while the protections you have had as a working man (all of which were instituted by Liberals I will point out) will be steadily eroded.
You are not smart enough to understand what is going on and by the time you have figured it out, you will not be able to do anything about it. Trump will keep you happy with his anti-immigrant policies and his anti-Muslim travel bans. You will be cheering his wall as it gets built, all the while these folks will be picking your pocket.

You will see a massive increase in the national debt. That money will go to the moneyed elites who own the companies that benefit from Federal spending. Since Trump’s tax cuts will largely benefit the wealthiest Americans. it will be the core middle class citizens who will be called on dis-proportionally  to repay this debt.

The Iraq War (and Afghanistan) was the largest redistribution of wealth since the Depression. The methodology was the same. Record deficit spending coupled with tax decreases mostly for the wealthy. Trump’s agenda is clear. He will cut the Government programs which benefit the poor and working class folks. He will expand the programs, like the huge defense budget, the national security apparatus, etc The military / industrial / prison complex will be the recipients of your tax dollars which will, in the end became profits for the wealthy stock holders.

I am willing to bet that you aren’t a big share holder in Lockheed Martin… In fact, if you are like almost all of the citizens you are referring to as “the people”, you aren’t share holders in much of anything. That’s true of most of us, in fact. All that Federal money will go to Trump and his corporate cronies.

There’s a good chance Trump will start some conflict or other and you or your kids will be called on to fight. Trump’s kids and grand kids will stay at home learning to manage the vast wealth of the Trump holdings. At the end of the process, they will be richer and you will not. Not one iota better off than you have been and likely worse.

But you folks aren’t smart enough to remotely understand how you are being bamboozled, It is as Lyndon Johnson said,
“If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”
Just add Muslim, Mexican. Liberal or some such for colored man and you have an apt description of yourself and your so-called “People”. Getting the people at the bottom to vote against their own economic self interest is a much perfected art form on the part of the elites and you are the classic victim.

Our National Intelligence is at Risk

George S LedyardWe are all freaking out over the evolving disaster over the Trump administration’s domestic policies, which really represent nothing less than a total giveaway of our country to the corporate elites. Add to that the shift of domestic security considerations to a blatantly anti-immigrant agenda and we hardly recognize what our country is becoming.
For most of our citizens, the workings of our national security establishment are a mystery. They take place in the background of our lives and they seldom intrude into our consciousness unless there’s a major event, like 9/11, which reminds us how important the intelligence function is and what the cost can be of mistakes.
Normally, the President, as Commander in Chief not only heads up the military but also presides over the entire intelligence apparatus, covering both domestic and foreign intelligence functions. However, we now have an unprecedented situation in which the President of the Untied States is actively at war with his own intelligence community.
From the start of his candidacy, Trump has treated the intelligence function with disdain, often suggesting that his own expertise is enough to ensure good decision making. He is known for not bothering to receive the daily intelligence briefings which summarize the world military and political situation each day. But even worse, he has treated the intelligence community as an unwanted step child, especially the CIA.
Now, it seems that the Trump administration’s much discussed relationships with Russia are being treated by the intelligence community as a serious security breach. The implications for this are staggering. What happens when the intelligence community, whose members are sworn to protect the nation, believes that their own President is a security risk? Additionally, intelligence gathering relies on the sharing of intelligence with ones allies. What happens when our allies begin to assume that anything they tell the United Sates will go straight to the Russians?
Cambridge Five, Blunt, Philby, Burgess, McLeanThe idea that our CIA is operating on the assumption that anything that gets as far as the oval office is also in the hands of Putin and the Russians is a bombshell. It places us in much the same position that England was in after Blunt, Maclean, Burgess, and Philby, all senior members of British Intelligence had been Soviet Spies since the 30’s. British Intelligence was crippled for years. No ally would risk sharing intelligence with them. We could find ourselves in the same position.
Mike Flynn, National Security AdviserTrump has appointed Mike Fynn as National Security Adviser. Flynn was actually fired as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency for his erratic, behavior and inability to provide coherent management. Now, it has been revealed that during the campaign, Flynn met with the Russians and essentially tried to undermine the diplomatic efforts of President Obama, something which he and the administration deny.
Now, we find that the CIA has refused to grant Robin Townley, one of Flynn’s closest deputies, a security clearance which caused him to be removed from his seat of the National Security Council. The move was apparently sanctioned by Mike Pompeo, Trump’s newly appointed Director of the CIA.
Donald Trump, Mike Flynn, National SecurityTake a look at this article in the Observer tiled The Spy Revolt Against Trump Begins
Its conclusions are chilling indeed. While the Trump administration seems obsessed with immigrants as a threat to national security, we might find that his administration itself is a bigger threat. No one knows how this is going to play out but it is a scandal of huge proportion for an administration less than a month into power.

The Logan Act – Why It Doesn’t Matter

George S Ledyard

The revelations of Mike Flynn’s talks with the Russian government during the campaign and the clear attempt to undermine the foreign policy of the sitting President, Barrack Obama have been in the news this week. Much justified outrage is being expressed and once again, as happens every so often, the public gets reminded of the Logan Act.
Passed in 1799 the Act takes its name from George Logan who attempted to negotiate foreign policy with France on his own. So Congress made it very clear that it is the President of the United Sates and him alone who has the power to negotiate on behalf of the country with foreign powers.  Period.
Mike FlynnSo, given that this is quite clearly stated in US law, why won’t Mike Flynn face indictment and prosecution for what seems like a clear violation of the Logan Act? Because, as it turns out, the Logan Act is one of the singularly most useless laws on the American books. No one, not even the original George Logan, has EVER been prosecuted under this law. The only person to even be arrested was in 1803. This despite a number of truly egregious violations over the years.

Nixon, Paris Peace AccordsIn 1968, one of the most turbulent years in American history, the Nixon campaign secretly contacted the North Vietnamese using Anna Chennault as a go between. They attempted to convince the North Vietnamese at the Paris Peace talks not to sign a peace deal until after Nixon was elected. While it is unclear whether this actually made any real difference in prolonging the Vietnam War, it is about as clear an example of what the Logan Act was meant to prevent as any one could find. But no one was charged, it never went to court, and no one was held accountable.

Another heinous violation, never proven of course, was the accusation leveled at the Reagan campaign that they had secretly contacted the Iranian government in an attempt to ensure that the American hostages would not be released while Carter was still President so that he couldn’t claim the credit. Given the proven charges of other nefarious negotiations with the Iranians that became known as the Iran Contra Affair that sent people to jail, a certain amount of credibility exists for these accusations. But they were never pursued.Iranian hostages released, Ronald ReaganAside from various attempts to use the law to discourage overseas visits by the opposition Party’s Congressional figures, like George McGovern and John Sparkman visiting Cuba on a “fact finding mission” or Reagan’s outrage with Jesse Jackson returning from Cuba after securing the release of some political prisoners, suggested violations seem to have been fairly minor until the March 2015 open letter by Republican members of Congress seeking to undermine President Obama’s conduct of foreign policy with the Iranians.
Open letter to IranThat was probably the most clear cut violation in our history of the Logan Act since it was done quite publicly by members of Congress seeking to undermine the foreign policy of the President of the United Sates, which was PRECISELY what the law was written to prevent. A number of calls to prosecute the offending members were made but, once again, nothing actually happened.
So, my researches into this statute indicate that the Logan Act is a singular piece of legislation that is never actually enforced and only serves as a bludgeon used by one party or another to beat up their opponents periodically. It is not at all clear why it is never enforced… perhaps because each side knows that if they use it against their enemies now, they might later be on the receiving end later. Rather like the US and the Soviets agreeing not to shoot each other’s spies. In the end, the chance that the Logan Act will be used to prosecute Mike Flynn are just about zero. It would totally unprecedented for it to happen.

Outrage Fatigue – We Can Handle It

George S LedyardA great article by Ariana Huffington on outrage fatigue titled How to Get Out of the Cycle of Outrage in a Trump World

Really worth reading and its points are quite valid. But it did get me thinking about the issue of outrage fatigue. I asked myself, aren’t we stronger than that?

This is a war. It is a political war, but it is also a culture war. As much as we find Trump repulsive, it is a fact that the GOP as a political party is backing him 100%. We cannot separate Trump from the Tea Party hi-jacked GOP itself. Every time they vote to support a Trump nominee, every time they overlook the conflicts of interest, every time they allow him to not release his tax returns, when they overlook the outrageous way he is conducting what could only generously be described as foreign policy. they are “enablers”. They must take equal responsibility for this atrocious man.
But we are also forced to admit that not a one of these people would be in office… not the President, not the Senators and Congressmen, none of them, without having been voted into office. It is simply the case that a really significant section of the American public has a very different vision of America that is in many ways diametrically opposed to the Liberal / Progressive vision. In other words, this is a fight that has existed since the start of our country and continues to this day.  It isn’t going away. It will still be going on long after Donald Trump is disgraced and leaves office.
Organized LaborSo, I find myself thinking about outrage fatigue and the issue of “staying power”. I think about the battle that the Labor Unions fought for decade upon decade in the face of black balling, assassination, strike breaking, state sanctioned violence… Most of us are currently facing nothing like that.
The women warriors who fought for suffrage faced social ridicule, isolation, arrest and imprisonment had to sustain that effort for years and years. For many it was a life long battle. Most of us are not even close to putting ourselves on the line to that extent.
Women's rights, suffragettesThe Civil Rights Movement literally lasted generations. It accelerated after WWII and seemed to peak in the 1960s with the successful fight to end segregation. The movement activists faced beatings, even death at the hands of the reactionaries. People were lynched, shot, simply disappeared. Marchers were fire hosed, had the dogs turned on them, were attacked by the white crowds. This happened over and over for years. Are we as Liberal / Progressive citizens facing anything like that … Yet?
What I am saying here is that if we are in this for the long run, it is certainly true that we need to pave ourselves. We also need to perform concrete actions along with being outraged to give that energy an outlet. All true. But at the same time, when I look at our nation’s history of activism and resistance, at what a monumental effort it has taken to get where we are, the sacrifices made by the culture warriors who have fought the battle to make this country a better place for all, I think that holding onto to my outrage is a small price to pay.
Are we not strong enough to sit with our outrage every day? Are we REALLY allowing ourselves to be “fatigued” after a few months of the political wars? I think we should think about the strength required to sustain this battle until we can turn this country around. The folks who went before us faced far greater challenges. The folks out there at Standing Rock, the Black Lives Matter protesters, the Occupy movement folks, the environmental activists,  all the other fighters on the front lines are  really putting themselves out there for all of us. I think maybe the least we can do is maintain our outrage and not shy away from it.
If it is too much for some, I understand that. You do what you can. But I think that the vast majority of us are strong enough to hold that outrage, to wake up every day and feel it, to express it publicly, loud and strong. Because that is what is required to not allow what is happening to be “normalized”. I think this is how we honor the generations of labor leaders, women’s rights activists, civil rights fighters, and so on who have gone before us. We have to maintain and feed the outrage. It is the motive energy that feeds concrete action. It is required to get marchers on the streets, not just once but over and over.  It is what is required to get us writing our Congressional leaders, not just on one issue, but continuously until they can’t ignore us. It is what is required to produce record turnout at the mid-term elections rather than the dismal 50% of the Presidential election that is typical.
Seattle Women's marchSo, don’t do yourselves harm. Take care of yourselves. But if you can hold your outrage, if you can feed it, communicate it, keep it steady, then by all means do so. I think we can be tough enough to do that at least. The war is going to demand much more from some. A few will find themselves out in front for the rest of us. It has always been thus. But we can stay strong and outraged at a minimum, acting in the various ways that we each find for ourselves. Personally, I think my outrage is making me stronger. As my wife, who was a nation champion fencer used to say to herself when competing, “Be tired later.”

The Resistance Needs Leadership – Now!

George S LedyardI think that our Democratic leadership has lost its way. They seem to be in shock. They act like they are not quite aware of just what a disaster they have presided over.
They need to understand what our expectations are. Yes, there were a couple of Trump’s picks that weren’t insane. Ok, have a damned meeting, agree which ones you won’t oppose, and then vote as a block to against confirmation for the others. Pick the most odious ones and boycott the confirmation hearings and the subsequent vote. Let the GOP confirm these people with no Democrats participating.
Right now what I see is crazy, left wing, pseudo-anarchists and other hard-core fringe groups grabbing the headlines, and not in a positive way. Where is inspiring, moderate resistance leadership? Who is going to step up.
Listen folks… a small group of motivated women that nobody ever heard of before put 3 million people in the streets marching against what is happening. Where is the political leadership needed to keep that momentum going? Maybe we should appoint Evvie Harmon, Fontaine Pearson, or Breanne Butler to run the DNC. (The organizers of the Women’s March on Washington). We need a Mother Jones right now, not some nice liberal folks who don’t know how to fight in the trenches.

This election was the GOP’s Blitz Kreig. Our nice, moderate, intelligent, fact based, inclusive Maginot Line failed completely. We are in retreat on all fronts. Our leaders can either step up and lead the resistance or look like a bunch of Vichy collaborators.

Senate DemocratsWhat the Hell Is Wrong With Senate Democrats?