Why I’m Worried About America’s Future

Our Founding Father’s worried about the future of the Colonies. King George had to balance his checkbook, and the Seven Years War had put the British Empire deep into debt.

Although six European powers had been involved – and the war stretched over the whole of the Empire – George and his Parliament leaned heavily on the American colonies to pay off their debt. After all, the French and Indian War had been a part of this global conflict.

So Mother Britain looked to the Colonies to pay down the debt.

A series of laws flowed out of Parliament – where the colonists had no representation – placing heavy burdens on the Colonies. For many, the Stamp Act was the final straw.

The Stamp Act placed a duty (tax) on virtually every legal document produced in the Colonies. And on newspapers, playing cards, pamphlets, calendars, and more.

Want to place an ad in the local paper? His Majesty gets two shillings. Are you printing pamphlets of less than one whole page? That will be one penny. Each. Want to play dice? Not till you’ve paid the King’s ten shillings tax on them.

Taxation without representation triggered a rebellion. And, so, our nation was born.

Fast forward 244 years…

Once Again, Liberty Stands at a Crossroads

The election of 2020 was messy. America is polarized. Though he’s wildly unpopular, Donald Trump’s base is solid. His opponent is a respected Washington insider: Joe Biden. Biden’s last job was serving as V.P. under the charismatic Barak Obama.

Trump and his allies did all they could to sway the election. Many GOP-controlled states made early and mail-in voting as difficult as they could.

Key states fell, one after another, to Biden. Trump refused to concede.

Trump’s campaign and his allies mounted dozens of legal challenges. The courts slapped down all but one. Even judges appointed by Trump himself deemed some cases meritless.

Trump’s personal lawyers floated conspiracy theories. Votes were changed while being counted in Spain. Catering vans delivered fake ballots to counting locations. A dead Venezuelan dictator had voting machine software sabotaged. Each claim was crazier than the last. All have been disproved.

State after state certified the results. Even swing states controlled by Republican administrations. Trump’s own Depts. of Justice and Homeland Security noted there’s no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

Still, Trump and his cronies continue to claim fraud. And they’re turning to ever more desperate ways to overthrow a duly elected government. Even before that government has been seated.

Meet the Party From Crazytown

In Arizona, Trump supporters chanted, “Count those votes!” in hopes of Trump gaining an advantage. At virtually the same time, in Michigan, Trump’s minions were chanting, “Stop the count,” as Biden pulled ahead.

Some GOP-controlled legislatures blocked counting mail-in ballots before election day… meaning millions of votes were counted after in-person votes. Since Democrats were far more likely than Republicans to vote by mail, this led to large last-minute gains by Biden.

Their own party created this situation. But that didn’t stop many Republicans from claiming this predictable situation proved election fraud.

Seventeen Republican attorneys general signed on to a Texas lawsuit trying to deny four swing  states the right to count mail-in ballots received according to those states’ laws. Laws that are strikingly similar to the laws in some of the states that joined the suit.

Consider what Trump’s lawyers are saying in court.

Rudy Giuliani and Trump’s other minions are quick to claim massive fraud in front of the media. But in front of a judge? Not so much.

  • In a PA case, the judge asked a Trump lawyer if he was claiming voter fraud. The response was, “To my knowledge at present, no.”
  • In an AZ suit, a Trump campaign lawyer said, “We are not alleging fraud in this lawsuit.”
  • And, in federal court, Rudy Giuliani himself told the judge, “This is not a fraud case.”

Why? Maybe because lying to a judge has serious consequences.

More Word from Crazytown

Texas Rep. Louis Gomert tried to overthrow the Constitution by suing V.P. Pence over Pence’s role in the counting of Electoral College votes. This suit was such a stretch, Pence and the Dept. of Justice both asked the court to dismiss the case. Which it did.

And still GOP operatives try to overthrow the will of the people.

Freshman Senator Josh Hawley (R- MO), says he will challenge Biden’s victory when the Electoral College count comes up in the Senate on Jan. 6. He joins more than 100 GOP members of Congress.

Hawley’s challenge will trigger debate in both Houses… but should have little effect. First, all the evidence points to Biden winning by over 7 million votes. Second, the grown-ups in the House and Senate are generally opposed to undermining our democracy.

So, Hawley and his co-conspirators appear to be doing this just for political points. And you really have to be from Crazytown to risk our Republic for personal political gain.

But that’s exactly what Donald Trump did when he called Georgia’s Secretary of State, Republican Brad Raffensperger.

Trump spent an hour begging and bullying Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to turn the election his way. After the votes had been counted and recounted… twice.

Trump offered a list of already-disproven rumors as excuses. But it all came down to this:

“All I want to do is this,” Trump said. “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.”

Flattery, threats, pleading… Trump tried it all. It was pitiful, but there it is.

What About the Aftermath?

Here’s where I really worry. Because the only effective solution is a painful one. It’s tempting to “let bygones be bygones.” But that teaches a destructive lesson:

If you get away with it long enough, they’ll let you off scot-free.

To preserve our Democracy, Trump and his cronies must face the music. All the lies… the ethics violations… the crimes. They have to be laid bare. And they must have consequences.

Robert Mueller found 10 instances of Trump possibly obstructing justice. Prosecutors should evaluate each. The Georgia phone call. Profiting from his lease on the Old Post Office in DC. The list goes on and on.

Plus the state investigations. Did the Trump Organization manipulate values for favorable loans and tax rates? That’s potential bank and tax fraud. Why did Deutsche Bank loan Trump so much money when nobody else would? And why did the executives in charge of Trump’s accounts suddenly resign on Dec. 22, 2020?

We need a full accounting and a resolution to these – and many other – questions before we can move on as a nation.

America’s future hangs in the balance. The resolution lies in laying bare all of Trump’s antics. And that’s why I’m worried.

Because it will involve exposing all Trump’s cronies in Congress.

Can it happen? Yes. But only if Joe Biden’s Department of Justice is ready to yank the bandage off a particularly nasty scab.

Sources:

Peters, C., “The Supreme Court rejects Texas’s undemocratic election lawsuit,” msn(dot)dom. Dec 12, 2020.

Kruzel, J., “GOP lawmaker sues Pence in bid to overturn Biden win,” TheHill(dot)com. Dec 28, 2020.

Berenson, T., “Donald Trump And His Lawyers Are Making Sweeping Allegations of Voter Fraud In Public. In Court, They Say No Such Thing,” time(dot)com. Nov 20, 2020.

Scannell, K., “Trump’s private bankers resign from Deutsche Bank,” CNN(dot) com. Dec 22, 2020.

The Cascade of Lies

Yesterday, the Republican response to the infamous Ukraine transcript was muted. Today, the GOP came out with guns blazing. And – as usual – the Dems seemed unprepared for the onslaught.

Everyone from KellyAnne Conway to Ronna McDaniel to the official GOP Twitter account were flooding social media with their version of the story. And, as you might imagine, it was pretty far removed from reality.

But here’s the thing: As George Orwell pointed out, if you repeat a lie often enough, people begin to believe it.

For instance…

Meet Adam Schiff, Evil-Doer

In his opening statements in today’s hearings, Adam Schiff paraphrased the transcript of the call. He accurately stated the gist of the conversation… but put it more or less in gangster terms. It was crystal clear what he was doing.

That’s okay, social media accounts on the Right immediately posted how Schiff had “made stuff up” and “lied” about what was in the transcript. Technically – taken completely out of context – these claims were true.

When Schiff pointed out he was parodying what went on during the call, the Right was ready. Schiff, they broadcast, has admitted to lying and making stuff up. Again, technically – and taken entirely out of context – true.

But a clear misrepresentation.

That won’t matter to Trump’s core voters, though. They’ll take these half-truths and misrepresentations as gospel. Which erodes what little chance there may have been of waking up some of these Trumpers.

Then there’s poor President Zelensky.

Meet the Embattled National Leader

Imagine living in Ukraine. After decades of domination by the U.S.S.R., your nation wins its freedom. It begins to reach out to the West… and Mother Russia gets royally pissed off.

To make a long story short, an unhappy Russia seizes the Crimean Peninsula – one of your nation’s jewels. At the same time, your giant neighbor foments unrest in your Eastern provinces. And years of looting by crooked Putin-backed politicians has left you low on funds.

Your government needs Western support to survive. And the U.S. is there, dangling hundreds of millions in military aid.

Then your newly elected president gets a call from Donald Trump. We’ve been very good to you, Trump says… but it seems like you haven’t returned the favor.

What can Zelensky – a political neophyte – do? He agrees. 1,000%. We need a favor, Trump tells him.

Could any reasonable person expect Zelensky to refuse? His nation’s existence hangs in the balance… and a powerful potential ally wants a little favor. A favor so small and inconsequential, Trump feels the need to state and restate it eight times.

You say, “Yes,” of course. Your country desperately needs those defense dollars.

Work with A.G. Bill Barr? No problem. And Rudy Giuliani? Done. Investigate a closed investigation? Sure. If you’re worried about your country’s continued existence, you’d agree to a lot more than that.

Now picture Zelensky at a press conference with Trump. Trump says it was just an ordinary, friendly call… right? What do you say in front of all those cameras? You say, “Yes,” of course. “No pushed.”

But if you watch President Zelensky’s face during the press conference, you know differently. This is a man who felt cornered. A man who loves his country so much, he’ll put up with Trump’s lies and bullying to get what Ukraine needs.

Even Zelensky, the professional actor, couldn’t hide how awful he felt in those moments.

The Abandonment of Truth… and Legality

As Trump’s apologists go to work, let’s take a quick look at how the Trump administration has fared legally.

According to The Daily Kos, by September of 2018, Trump’s team had achieved quite a distinction. More members of the Trump administration have been indicted and convicted of federal crimes than any Democratic administration of the last 50 years!

In fact, over the last 50 years (as of September 2018), only 4 members of Democratic campaigns and administrations have been indicted for felonies. For Republicans, the number is 127. If you include foreigners, the numbers change to 4 and 155.

That’s right. Almost 39 times moreRepublican officials have been charged with serious crimes than Democrats. And – at only 2 years old at the time of this survey – Trump’s administration was already second only to Nixon’s.

In the last 50 years, two members of Democratic administrations have been convicted of felonies. For Republicans, that number is 95.

The whistleblower report shows how Trump has used U.S. funds to influence foreign leaders to support his re-election. The report also claims Trump may have used similar tactics before. And that White House operatives have actively sought to cover up for their boss by filing calls on a high-security server… rather than the server where such “routine” calls should be kept.

Yet operatives on the Right continue to defend Trump. Regardless of how far they have to stray from the truth… or how far out of legal bounds Trump roams.

By the numbers, Trump’s administration is corrupt… second only to Nixon’s. With more than 12,000 confirmed lies under his belt, how can anyone believe anything he says?

Yet the Right is flooding social media with distortions – and outright lies – to combat the truth. So their “chosen one” can dismantle our Democracy.

The Left has to stop being silent. We need to speak out – and forcefully. If we don’t stem this cascade of lies, we risk losing it all.

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“UPDATED: Comparing Presidential Administrations by felony arrests and convictions,” The Daily Kos. Sep 18, 2018.

It’s Time for America to Wake Up!

Note: I completed the original version of this article yesterday, then went online to find Nancy Pelosi’s announcement.

The Trump administration is out of control. Every time they manage to circumvent the law, they rise to a higher level of contempt for our Democracy. It’s gotten so bad, they’re almost not even trying to hide it. Just look at Rudy Giuliani’s most recent turn on the Sunday talk shows.

On CNN, he denied pressuring Ukraine’s president to “investigate” Joe Biden and his son. (Hunter Biden had a business relationship with a Ukrainian gas company.) Just 30 seconds later, Giuliani admitted it was true.

Then he called the claim he’d applied pressure “ridiculous” – immediately followed by saying he was proud for doing it – and then said once again the claim was “ridiculous.”

Now, we may be used to this sort of insanity from Giuliani – the President’s personal lawyer. But is it normal? Is it sane? Not by a long shot.

But Giuliani’s insanity offers good cover for his boss’s “admission creep.”

No… Maybe… Yes, But Who Cares?

Donald Trump has a style for making admissions. First, he denies he did something. Next, he waffles. Then he makes a low-key admission… and finally harps about “who cares?” Deny, suggest, minimize.

It’s worked pretty well for Trump so far. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise he used this tactic when faced with claims about pressuring Ukraine’s newly elected president to dig up dirt on Trump’s leading foe in the 2020 election.

First, he didn’t bring up Biden. Then he did, but there was no pressure. Now we know he may have brought up the topic as many as eight times during a single call.

And when combined with the way he held up sorely needed aid to Ukraine… well, let’s just say it’s suspicious.

Because Trump appears to have held hundreds of millions of dollars hostage to his investigation demands.

And now his administration is doing all it can to prevent Congress from exercising its Constitutional oversight duty.

Another pattern we’ve seen over and over.

  • Trump allies stonewall Congressional committee investigations
  • Cabinet heads refuse to comply with laws requiring them to turn information over to Congress
  • Trump’s Justice Department refuses to prosecute those charged with contempt of Congress

The result is an Executive Branch that has effectively removed itself from any checks and balances on its whims. And this lawlessness is aided and abetted by “Moscow Mitch” McConnell and his Congressional cronies. Who back Trump’s actions… no matter how outrageous.

But this latest affront to our Democracy may be the last straw… or the last gasp.

Has Trump Finally Awakened the Sleeping Giant?

Yesterday (09/23/19), seven Democrats called out this latest Trump misadventure in an op-ed piece in the Washington Post. What makes this article stand out is this:

  • The authors are all freshmen members of Congress – usually a quiet bunch
  • None of them are members of “The Squad”
  • All of them have a background in the military, defense, or intelligence.

And they’ve plainly stated the allegations against Trump are an impeachable offense… the withholding of the whistleblower complaint from Congress is illegal… and that Congress must take immediate action.

But will it? Nancy Pelosi hasn’t been open to calling for impeachment. Maybe she thinks it will mobilize Trump’s base. Could she be facing a mutiny?

If she refuses to take Trump to account for his blatant flouting of the law, she should. Yes; she’d rather see him in prison… blah, blah, blah. But her only control is over the here and now in Congress. So, this is her one chance to act.

We can’t allow the corruption to continue. Congressional leadership must step up. The Trump administration’s assault on Democracy could do permanent damage. For goodness sake, the man “jokes” about staying in office beyond two terms.

And he’s openly stated he might question any election result that doesn’t put him on top. Is it any wonder he’s courted the favor of well-armed white supremacists?

Congress must act now. If they don’t treat this scandal as the last straw, it may become our Democracy’s last gasp.

Addendum: A Reason for Hope?

So much has happened since I began this article. Trump released the “transcript” of his call… The Senate unanimously called for the administration to release the whistleblower report to the appropriate committees… Nancy Pelosi had finally had enough and got the impeachment ball rolling.

Perhaps most heartening of all, there were darn few Republican lawmakers on the attack. Even Lindsey Graham seemed muted in his response.

Sure, Graham said the move to impeach is “insane,” but he didn’t have any of his usual swagger and righteous indignation. Instead he looked sweaty and tired. There was no conviction in his voice.

What Graham should keep in mind is that this isn’t the only reason to start impeachment proceedings. Just the one that broke the camel’s back.

Mueller outlined 10 times Trump likely obstructed justice during the Russia probe. There’s the sudden jump in Air Force personnel staying at his Turnberry golf resort… putting thousands into Trump’s personal coffers. There’s the influx of foreign dignitaries staying at Trump properties.

There’s the “unindicted co-conspirator” issue with paying off mistresses to remain silent. Don’t forget: His fixer went to jail over these illegal campaign contributions. And Trump was in the mess up to his neck.

And, of course, there are the other issues in the whistleblower complaint that we don’t even know yet.

If Congress is smart, they’ll charge Trump with everything applicable. Which could make letting him off the hook political suicide for his die-hard supporters in the Senate.

So, maybe – just maybe – we have reason for hope.

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Cisneros, G., et al, “Seven freshman Democrats: These allegations are a threat to all we have sworn to protect,” Washington Post. Sep 23, 2019.