Tag: TRump

The Russian Scandal Is Not Just a Distraction

George S LedyardCatherine Rampell in the Washington Post (link below) writes that the Russian Scandal distract us from the REALLY important issues with Donald Trump’s Presidency.
 
“Focusing on the terrible things Team Trump did during the campaign and transition conveniently distracts you from all the terrible things Team Trump is doing during the presidency.”
I happen to think she’s dead wrong. Not because so many of the Trump actions aren’t really important. Not because they, in the long run, won’t effect each of us more than the Russian scandal.
It’s because no matter how disastrous his climate change denial is, the dismantlement of the EPA, the GOP Health Care atrocity, the dismantling of the Federal regulatory capacity, etc, NONE of these things is illegal.
The GOP has the Presidency and both Houses of Congress. If they can agree among themselves, the Democrats are helpless to do anything but watch them destroy everything we’ve built since the New Deal.
Our first chance of even slowing things down, under normal circumstances, would be 2018 and possibly taking back the Senate.
But we have the Russian Hacking and / Election Interference scandal. The sheer scope and scale of this scandal is possibly historic. The great scandals like the Teapot Dome Scandal, Watergate, Iran Contra, all may end up dwarfed by this one.
While yes, we as voters may find that we are being “distracted” by the daily revelations, more importantly it is the President, the administration, and the GOP Congress who are getting distracted to the point of being ineffective. The GOP Congress has passed almost no landmark legislation since the election. Almost all of Trump’s destructive actions have been done via executive order.
Frankly, the more time and attention that the President and the administration officials have to put on legal defense, testifying in the various investigations, defending themselves in the media, simply doing damage control, the less time they have to pushing through their disastrous agenda.
The strength of the GOP position in Congress only makes a difference if they are unified. As the Trump associated scandals deepens, they will lose their central focus, the one who provides a unifying leadership for their efforts. GOP representatives will find themselves needing to distance themselves from the sinking Trump ship and GOP party discipline in Congress will almost assuredly suffer.
Finally, criminal charges against administration officials with the consequent specter of impeachment for President Trump provide our best chance of stopping the Trump agenda even before the mid-terms, and certainly before 2020. Impeachment proceedings would almost certainly bring other Congressional business to a full halt. And, this scandal could well be the motivating factor in producing a record turnout at the mid-terms.
No matter how destructive and disastrous the various Trump initiatives are, none, with the possible exception of the health care issue, are likely to fire the base, get people involved politically, and turn out the vote the way the Russian collusion issue may. The extent to which we can hammer the administration over the scandal and let the GOP Congress know that we hold them responsible for being “enablers” of this dysfunction, is directly related to our ability to slow down or prevent destructive legislative initiatives from being pushed through.

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Trump Thinks It’s All OK Now

George S LedyardYou will notice, that from the very start of the Russian hacking intrusion, the number one concern of the President has been on trying to tell us all that he wasn’t involved and he wasn’t being investigated.

Trump is acting like his exoneration, which of course hasn’t actually happened yet, no matter how the GOP wishes to spin it, will make everything all right.

The fact that half of his associates, including family members, are still being investigated or the fact that, even if none of his people did collude with the Russians, it is still a fact the Russians, a foreign power, interfered with the electoral process of the United States seems to be of little interest to him.

Trump’s only concern, as usual is Trump. The Russian hacking investigation casts a pall on the legitimacy of his win. Trump as shown all along a disproportionate investment in misrepresenting his win. He claimed that Clinton didn’t really win the popular vote. He claimed his win in the electoral college was a by a record margin whereas it was one of the closest wins ever.

TrumpI believe that Trump is such a colossal narcissist that he’s willing to let he Russians get completely away with their massive and unprecedented cyber attack on this country rather than have it taint his win, the win of which he is most proud, the win where he showed Clinton and Obama up. He simply doesn’t want to hear about Russian hacking.

In many ways, what is even more troubling however, is the number of GOP representatives and party leaders who would rather let the Russians slide than allow Trump to be damaged or give the Dems ANYTHING to use against them. Their unwillingness to protect this country from the intrusions of a hostile power borders on treason. For a bunch of people who wrap themselves in the flag at ever turn, this is greatest show of hypocrisy I think I have seen in my lifetime.

Ronald Reagan, the man they all seem to idolize, spent his life fighting the Russians. He felt his greatest achievement was in defeating the evil empire. Now Putin, like Sauron, has risen from the ashes, and Morder is once again a threat. If there is indeed a heaven, can you imagine Reagan looking down and seeing his Party, the one he devoted his life to, looking the other way when the country was attacked by the Russians.

Ronald-ReaganReagan would be in a full sail rage over this. I think he would find what the GOP has become, totally incomprehensible.

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.

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.”

Our Recent History of Anti Immigrant Sentiment

George S LedyardI know we are all in shock about what is happening in our country at the moment and with good reason. But on another level, we shouldn’t be shocked. This is a failure of our educational system. Most of us never learned the history of how white America repeatedly used anti-immigration regulations and mass deportations to maintain a white supremacist vision of what the country should be.
Mexican repatriationJust looking at my parents generation, the 1930s, we can see an America which was unapologetic-ally racist. An unspecified number of residents of Mexican decent were arbitrarily rounded up in the late 20s and early 30s and “repatriated” to Mexico. A million or more were rounded up in a completely indiscriminate effort and estimates range as high as 60% of these people were US citizens. But it wasn’t just the 30s… in 1954 “Operation Wetback” did much the same thing, albeit on a slightly smaller scale… maybe half a million deported.
In the 1920s and 30s even Italians and other Southern Europeans were the target of an immigration policy that restricted their immigration to the US while favoring that of Northern Europeans. Efforts were made using the criminal justice system to deport as many as possible back to Italy.
America was virulently anti-Semitic in the 1930s. Jews were routinely denied membership in clubs and associations. The KKKs efforts at the same were actually more targeted at the Jews than Blacks since they didn’t feel that Blacks were any real threat. More than sixty years of terror had seen to that. But the Jews were threatening to white America. There had been a huge influx from central Europe and white folks were upset. So, legislation was enacted that strictly restricted Jewish immigration just at a time when Jews in the hundreds of thousands were trying to flee the rise of anti-Semitic Fascism across Europe and, in particular Germany.
Voyahe of the St LouisThe most famous instance was the VOYAGE OF THE ST. LOUIS in 1939. A ship full of Jews fleeing Germany after Kristallnacht (literally the “Night of Crystal” pogrom was turned away and denied entry to the US. Eventually, the ship was sent back to Germany where at least half of those refugees eventually were exterminated.
Anti Japanese racismAlmost nothing is taught in our schools about the anti Asian riots and roundups of the late 1800s and early 1900s which took place in the Pacific NW and the West Coast but most students have at least heard of the mass round up of our Japanese American citizens, the suspension of the civil rights, and the wholesale theft of their property when they were sent to what we would now call “concentration” camps.
What we are seeing today is just a resurgence of what has been a part of America since its inception. The success of the Civil Rights Movement of the 50s and 60s lulled us into a false feeling of security. Our successes in moving forward on women’s rights, minority and LGBT rights, deceived many of us into thinking that bigotry and racism was largely a piece of history. You even had Republican politicians seriously maintaining that we were in a post-racial America.
Well, the ridiculousness of that belief has been glaringly obvious in this past election. reactionary, “nativist” sentiment is alive and well in the US, and through a quirk of historical circumstance, has manged to gain control of our government. There is almost no difference between the position of the Jews fleeing Fascism in the 30s and the refugees fleeing the war torn middle east today. Syrian refugees And one again, our country is taking the hard-hearted approach of excluding them from entry. They can return home and be killed, or they can stay in camps in which the conditions are terrible, we don’t care. Just as long as they don’t move here.
The focus on illegal immigration from South of the border is just a continuation of social and racial bias that has always been there and which has periodically exploded into anti-Hispanic round ups and deportations. Only the Wall as a response seems to be a truly new approach. Keeping them out is now a priority on which we are willing to spend many  billions of dollars at a time when we do not seem to have enough money for basic health care or education

The Wall - Donald Trump
Like the Statue of Liberty, our Wall will make a permanent statement for the world to see.

Perhaps of more people were aware of our history of racism, bigotry, roundups of immigrants, and ethnic cleansing, people might have spotted just how dangerous Donald Trump and company actually are. Perhaps we would not have seen such a blase attitude toward this last election with the lowest voter turnout since 1920. But it is what it is and now we have no choice but to fight  a rear guard action while we try to regroup.