White Supremacist Terrorism

Here we go again.  More mass shootings and more “thoughts and prayers.”  As of this writing twenty-two people died in El Paso, Texas and nine in Dayton, Ohio with dozens more wounded and injured.  This comes on the heels of a mass shooting at a Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California that left three dead and sixteen wounded.  There is an epidemic of violence in our country that is aided and abetted by the cowardice of politicians to deal with the issue in any practical way.

No piece of federal legislation concerning guns has reached a president’s desk since the Federal Assault Weapons Ban in 1994 — and that law expired in 2004.  More specifically, no law regulating the use of fire arms has passed since then.  Two others, however, have been passed. In 2004 an Act was passed that allows current and former law enforcement officers to carry concealed fire arms in any jurisdiction.  In 2005 an Act passed that prevents fire arm manufacturers and licensed dealers from being held liable when crimes are committed using their products.  That’s it.

There is a more pressing issue to deal with right now, however.

The acts of these despicable individuals, of which more and more are occurring in all segments of our society, including churches and synagogues, are not really the work of lone wolfs as some would like to depict them.  They are the acts of white supremacists that increasingly act in concert.  Instead of being lone wolfs, they are more like wolf packs.

There is little difference between these white supremacists conversing with each other, supporting each other, giving ideas to each other, helping each other in on-line chat rooms and on the internet, especially 8chan, than 80 years ago when a bunch of white guys in sheets would congregate in the back room of a warehouse in a small town.  It is the same, they just don’t have to travel any further than the lap top in their bedrooms to get their hateful ideas.  The FBI and other reputable agencies tracking these trends know the threat and they know that it is increasingly likely that the members of these hate groups will take action.  They are “heroes” to each other.  One may debate as to whether their psychological profile leads certain types of individuals into joining these groups, but they are not “crazy” or clinically mentally ill.  They are purposeful in their actions.  They have plans. They have goals.  They have the means to work towards achieving their ends.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said in Congressional testimony on July 23 this year that “homegrown violent extremists” are the biggest threat to the United States.  He went on to say, “I will say the majority of domestic terrorism cases we’ve investigated are motivated by some version of what you might call white supremacist violence.”

I am concerned that we are on the way to another terrorist attack that will be the “new” attack of September 11, 2001, only this time it will be carried out by one or more young white guys.  Think Timothy McVeigh and the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City in April 1995.  168 men, women and children died that day.  Hundreds more were wounded.  It is possible, and some believe probable, that something similar will happen again.

We need to call it what it is.  These attacks are not the result of video games, or drugs, or not going to church or mental illness or anything else.  Every country in the world deals with these same issues and they do not have the pervasive and never ending attacks on their fellow citizens that we do here in the United States.

These acts are increasingly the work of white nationalists who want to eliminate anyone in our country that they deem “impure” — in other words anyone that is not white and not Christian.  (It would be laughable that they call themselves Christians if it wasn’t such a deadly issue.)

It is staring us right in the face.  Call it what it is.  Call out the president when he says that Hispanics are conducting an “invasion” of our country.  Call out the president when he calls Mexicans “rapists” and “murderers.”  And on, and on, and on he goes with spiteful, hateful rhetoric towards people of color.  In a rally in Florida just this May he talked of the “invasion” from Mexico and then laughed along with the crowd when someone yelled “shoot them.”

Mr. Trump is not the one that pulled the trigger in El Paso or elsewhere.  He didn’t order it.  He does inspire these white nationalists when he uses hateful language that leads them to violence.  His barely disguised racist language is a deliberate campaign strategy to rally his “base.”  Shame on him.  Shame on us all.  We are better than this as a country.

More importantly, we need to take action as a country and tell the government to use the same tactics against domestic threats that we do to protect ourselves against foreign terrorists.  The oath I took as a Navy officer says in part “I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic.”  We have a clear and present danger from domestic terrorists.

The biggest threat to our security and safety walks among us.

 


Fatigue Makes Cowards Of Us All

The title quote above is indelibly etched into my mind as it was emblazoned over the stairway from the crew locker room down to the boat storage area in the USNA boat house at Hubbard Hall. For four years every time I passed by that sign I took it onboard.  As college rowers we knew its meaning.  It takes mental toughness as well as physical fitness to compete at a high level. You can quit or you can fight through it.  The quote is attributed to General George S. Patton or Vince Lombardi — take your pick — but its origin is unclear.  Its meaning is not and it stayed with me through all of the years since then.

Its relevance takes on a new dimension to me in the current political atmosphere.  The President of the United States is so outrageous in his daily Tweets, rallies and pronouncements to the press that it wears me down.  It is truly fatiguing.  It becomes part of the background of daily life.  It becomes too easy to say that it is just Trump being Trump.

But we cannot.  We cannot give in to that fatigue.  He must be called out each and every time that he spouts hateful, racist and misogynistic things.

When E. Jeanne Carroll alleges that Mr. Trump raped her and he responds that it couldn’t have happened because “she’s not my type” we should ask what type of woman would Mr. Trump rape?

When Mr. Trump racially attacks members of Congress that oppose his ideas we must call him out.  The latest episode comes this weekend with an attack on Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and the city of Baltimore.  What does Mr. Trump mean when he says about Baltimore that “no human being would want to live there”?  We should recognize that he knows full well that the city is majority African-American.  Does that mean that they are not human?

The outrageous lies are endless.  Mr. Trump is the most deliberately divisive president in my lifetime.  Probably, he is the most divisive since the U.S. Civil War.  Why do we tolerate it?

The Trump will be Trump argument is weak and cowardly.  It is not okay. He is not what America is about.  He has bullied the Republican Party to the point that good Americans that three years ago decried his abhorrent behavior now go meekly along.  They pretend that they did not hear or are too busy to notice the latest insult.  Or worse, they defend his comments.

Mr. Trump is a master of the playground mantra of “I’m rubber you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.”  He projects what he knows about his own character and his tactics onto his critics.  And make no mistake, his critics are to him anyone that does not blindly follow along with total loyalty in every manner of endeavor.

The Republican Party is dead.  The Democrats cannot get their act together.  Mr. Trump is taking advantage of every crack in society and ignoring the law to further his own personal gain.  As long as the citizens of this great country look the other way, either out of fatigue or out of a sense that laying low is the best way not to get into trouble, we will see him amplify his outrageous behavior into dangerous areas.

We are better than this.  Do not let fatigue make you a coward.

 

 


Shameful

The president is at it again and incited a crowd in Greenville, North Carolina to engage in racist chants during one of his campaign rallies last night.

Again attacking specific Congresswomen of color he got the crowd to chant “Send her back.”

Shameful. Horrifying. Dangerous. Un-American.

Most frightening, I invite you to look at rallies in Germany or Italy in the 1930’s and compare them to Mr. Trump’s rallies.  The similarities are ominous.

The president clearly relishes his racist attacks on other Americans.  I hope — perhaps in vain — that the good people of North Carolina woke up this morning embarrassed by their actions.  They should be.

Should the president work in any other job in the United States, he would be fired for his racist rants as explained by a department he oversees, The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

I fear the president of the United States will have blood on his hands when one or more of his white nationalist supporters takes the situation into their own hands based on his overt encouragement of outrageous and indecent behavior.

It is clear to me and to his white nationalist supporters, that when he says “Make America Great Again” it is with a wink and a nod.  He really means “Make America White Again.”

All of us are complicit if we condone such actions from anyone, much less from the president.


The Bigot In Chief

As I am sure you know, on Sunday Mr. Donald J. Trump sent out a series of racist tweets about four Congresswomen of color.  Besides putting forth lies about who does or does not love their country, and other blatantly bizarre statements concerning a Congresswoman’s “love” for al-Qaeda, for three days (and counting) he used the most basic of racial and ethnic slurs by telling them to go back to where they came from.

This should not be surprising.  Mr. Trump has a record of racist statements and actions dating to the 1970’s when he and his father were sued by the federal government for discrimination in the renting of apartments in a building in Queens, New York.  The list of other racist statements and actions over the decades is way too long to recount here.  However, since declaring his candidacy for president the number of such incidents have increased.  As president, Mr. Trump seems to have settled on attacking women of color. Such attacks include the mother of a Marine killed in action, the wife of a soldier killed in action, various Congresswomen of color prior to this incident, and numerous others.  For some reason, he thinks that’s a good thing to do.

The president is a racist.

Some may argue that I cannot possibly know what is in his heart.  That is true, I do not.  I do know that his recurring actions and words show that he is a racist.  White nationalists say that he is one of them.  They recognize what they see. To paraphrase an old saw, if he walks like a racist, quacks like a racist and looks like a racist, he’s a racist.

Sadly, however, many of us already knew this and are profoundly disappointed in his actions, but not surprised.  What is surprising is that the entire Republican House and Senate members — save a few countable on one hand — support his racism.  Don’t take my word for it.  Yesterday the House voted to condemn the president’s remarks. Only four Republicans voted for the condemnation and one former Republican did so.  One of the four is the only African-American Republican in the House.   The vast majority of Republicans, in the House and Senate, are white men.  There is one African-American Republican Senator.

The Republicans lack of a back bone makes me sad for our country.

Mr. Trump is fully in control of the Republican Party and good men and women that used to stand up for what was right now meekly submit to his will — and in some instances loudly support his every deed — including the most basic of hurtful phrases.  “Go back.”  Those two words convey hate for the “other.”  Hate for people with “funny” names or who don’t look like northern Europeans.  It means that you do not belong here with “real” Americans, no matter how long you and your family have lived in the United States.  It separates you.  It is meant to demean.  It is hateful.  Words matter.  And only four Republicans put what was right over the fear of a Tweet from Mr. Trump.  In my book, if you stand up for a racist by actively supporting his words and actions, then that makes you a racist.

Shameful.

Mr. Trump took this course on purpose.  There was no attempt to “explain what he really meant” or to clarify, or to otherwise soften his words.  In fact he doubled and tripled down on his remarks by going out of his way to repeat them over and over.  It is entirely possible to disagree on a policy statement or a political agenda as I do with much of what the four Congresswomen under attack are pursuing.  What is not okay is using racial and ethnic smears to personally attack other American citizens duly elected to their office.

Why is he doing this?

Three reasons come to my mind.  First, this is his re-election campaign strategy.  He and his fellow Trumpist politicians want these four freshman Congresswomen to be seen as the face of the Democrats.  He will campaign that they represent the “true” Democrats and that if any Democrat is elected you will have people with funny names and darker skins running the country into the ground.  Remember that he started his run for the presidential nomination with the birther movement that claimed President Barack Obama was not a U.S. citizen and followed it up with his first speech from Trump Tower announcing his candidacy by calling Mexicans rapists and murderers.  It is a cynical and divisive deliberate strategy.  It is a naked manipulation of people’s fears and emotions.  It will get worse, especially since he sees no consequences to his actions.  Republican politicians rolled over and now have no stomach for standing up to him.  Probably, many will emulate him in their own campaigns, further dividing our country and demeaning our values.

Second, he is appealing to his base — and “base” may be the most correct term as he is using the basest of strategies to look for re-election in 2020.  I knew there were racists in our country, I just did not know there were so many.  And no, I don’t think every Trump supporter is a racist, but I fail to see how any policy he espouses or judge he appoints cancels out his obscene behavior that demeans the office he holds and besmirches the values of our entire country.  Our country is an idea, a set of values, the search for “a more perfect union,” and not one based on ethnicity or who our ancestors might have been or the color of our skin.

Third, he is covering something up.  Mr. Trump has a penchant for capturing the news cycle when he does not want us to look too closely at some other action or circumstance.  My guess is that the circle around him and Mr. Jeffrey Epstein — the industrial level child sex trafficker — is getting tighter and smaller.  They were known to hang together in the 1990s and early 2000s.  Indeed, in 2002 Mr. Trump is quoted in New York magazine saying that Mr. Epstein is a “terrific guy” and that “he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.”  How young?  Mr. Trump hosted a party at Mar-a-Lago where he and Mr. Epstein were the only two male guests.  All the others were young women flown in for the party.  On Monday a bail hearing for Mr. Epstein was held in New York that included testimony from two of the young girls he abused. Is it possible that Mr. Trump was too personally involved with Mr. Epstein and his evil life style, even has the president says he “is not a fan”?  “When you’re a star, they let you do it.  You can do anything.”

The President.  Of the United States.  Is using the most vile and divisive words and actions to open old wounds and make new ones for his own personal gain.  And 98% of elected Republicans and millions of people think that is okay.

Historians will look back on this period and mark it as the end of the Republican Party.  The Republicans will be right up there in the pantheon of failed political parties with the Whigs and the Know Nothings from the 19th century.  The only question is how much damage to our country will they allow before they collapse.

In the meantime, we are in big trouble as a country.  We lost our soul when this man became president.  Every day we endure a new attack on our values and our Constitution.  I fear that Mr. Trump has lowered every bar of common decency and that his words and actions put people’s lives in danger.

When does it end?


Dereliction of Duty

The Constitution is under attack.  An attack so brazen that it is likely to do significant long-term damage to our country’s ideals, values, mores, and the rule of law.

Mr. Donald J. Trump is in full attack mode trampling on all that we used to hold dear.  In the meantime, the House and the Senate, Republicans and Democrats alike, sit idly by either endlessly filled with angst over what they should or should not do (hello Democrats!) or aiding and abetting the president in his relentless pillaging of our Constitution (I’m talking to you Republicans).

I just do not get it.  Why is no one acting?

While wringing their hands over whether to begin impeachment proceedings against the president, the Democrats worry about the political implications for the 2020 election.  They fear that starting impeachment proceedings will hand Mr. Trump a victory in the next election.  I fear that by not acting — hey guys! remember that you won an historic election in 2018 because the majority of voters wanted you to put a check on his shenanigans? — they will hand Mr. Trump the election.  Part of their logic is that with the Republican controlled do-nothing cowering Senate Mr. Trump would never be convicted.  Perhaps.  However, the calculation should be that spelled out in the Constitution — there is abundant evidence that he indeed committed “high crimes and misdemeanors” — and not some political calculation on who will or will not get elected as a result.  Politics should not play a part in a decision to impeach or one not to impeach.

Congress!  Do your job!  Nay, it is more than do your job.  It is do your duty to uphold the Constitution.  Anything less is dereliction of that duty.

What more does it take?  Everyday there is a new assault on our values and our laws.  The list is too long to enumerate here, but remember a few of Mr. Trump’s greatest hits.

  • “Individual 1” — Mr. Trump’s lawyer Mr. Michael Cohen is serving three years in jail for, among other crimes, violating election laws by paying hush money to two mistresses of Mr. Trump’s to stay silent about their affairs because it could impact the election.  The judge in the case, Judge William H. Pauley III said in open court in New York that Mr. Trump directed his attorney (Mr. Cohen) to commit a federal felony.  He is essentially an unindicted co-conspirator in the case.
  • Obstruction of Justice — In his report, which he followed up with a remarkable public statement from the Department of Justice building, Special Counsel Robert Mueller made it abundantly clear that if the president had committed no crime, he would have so reported.  As he said in the report and in his remarks, “if we had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that.”
  • Russia interfered with the election to aid Mr. Trump — In his report and remarks, Mr. Mueller makes it abundantly clear that the Russians did interfere with the election.  A fact that the President resolutely says did not happen.  As Mr. Mueller noted, “Russian intelligence officers who were part of the Russian military launched a concerted attack on our political system.  The indictment alleges that they used sophisticated cyber techniques to hack into computers and networks used by the Clinton campaign.  They stole private information, and then released that information through fake online identities and through the organization WikiLeaks.  The releases were designed and timed to interfere with our election and to damage a presidential candidate.  And at the same time, as the grand jury alleged in a separate indictment, a private Russian entity engaged in a social media operation where Russian citizens posed as Americans in order to interfere in the election.”
  • Collusion — According to the Mueller Report, members of the Trump Campaign met over 100 times with Russians known to be agents of, or to have connections to, the Russian government, including the famous Trump Tower meeting in the summer of 2016.  As we all know, the word “collusion” was never used in the Mueller Report.  However, yesterday the president said that he would collude again with a foreign power given the chance.  In an interview with ABC news in the Oval Office no less, he said in response to a question about receiving damaging information from a foreign power that he would take it.  “I think you might want to listen, there’s nothing wrong with listening.  If somebody called from a country, Norway, ‘we have information on your opponent.’  Oh, I think I’d want to hear it.  It’s not interference, they have information.  I think I’d take it.  If I thought there was something wrong, I’d maybe go to the FBI.  If I thought there was something wrong.  But when somebody comes up with oppo research, right, they come up with oppo research.”  When asked about FBI Director Wray’s testimony to Congress that any political campaign should report foreign interest in that campaign, Mr. Trump replied, “The FBI Director is wrong.  Because, frankly, it doesn’t happen that way in life.”
  • Actively undermining the Constitution — As explained in a Washington Post opinion piece by Mr. George Conway and Mr. Neal Katyal — both conservative attorneys — on Tuesday the Trump lawyers filed a brief to prevent turning over documents relating to Mr. Trump’s taxes and other financial dealings.  Without getting too far into the legal weeds (although maybe all of us should start doing so), the basis of the Trump argument is that Congress has no oversight authority with respect to the president.  In particular, the brief argues, Congress has no business “trying to prove that the President broke the law.”  They say that the Executive Branch holds the power under the Constitution for law enforcement, therefore Congress can do nothing.  This of course denies our country’s history where Congress has exercised oversight, including investigations of law breaking, since its founding.
  • Active law breaking — Today, White House Adviser Kelly Anne Conway was found to have consistently and continually broken the Hatch Act.  (The Hatch Act prohibits political activities and speech while acting in a government position.)  The opinion handed down by the independent Office of the Special Counsel (OSC) says that she should be fired from her position.  (It is worth noting that the head of the office was nominated by Mr. Trump and confirmed by voice vote in the Senate.)  The response from the president and Ms. Conway is to scoff at the law and the OSC finding.  As Ms. Conway put it when previously asked about her actions under the Hatch Act “Blah, Blah, Blah.  If you’re trying to silence me through the Hatch Act, it’s not going to work.  Let me know when the jail sentence starts.”

In a country where we like to say that no one is above the law, the president and his advisers are.  Mr. Trump could indeed shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it as he famously said during the campaign.

I think that we all must remember that Mr. Trump and the president are the same person.  I only say this slightly tongue in cheek.  What I mean is that we have become so accustomed to Mr. Trump’s outrageous statements — perhaps even amused by them — for so long including before he even considered running for president that they tend to get lost in translation.  Mr. Trump saying such things is harmless.  The President of the United States saying them is incomprehensible.  Or at least it used to be.  There is no longer gravitas in presidential statements.  There is no longer acceptance of presidential pronouncements as true or binding.  There is no longer respect for the office from nations around the world.  There is no longer a presumption that the president will follow the Constitution.  All of that may be ignored by our fellow citizens.  Just remember, however, that he still has the power.  And the unencumbered use of that power to follow one of his harebrained ideas could be devastating.  Those that know him from long before his presidency say without hesitation that he will do anything to help himself.  Anything.  Think about that with someone with Mr. Trump’s mind set and the president’s power.

Even Mr. Mueller believes the president is above the law.  Certainly Attorney General Barr thinks so.  Re-read Mr. Mueller’s remarks last month about his report.  He explains in detail why there was no indictment of the president.  While a president may be investigated, he said that “under long-standing Department policy, a President cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office.  That is unconstitutional.  Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view—that too is prohibited.  The Special Counsel’s Office is part of the Department of Justice and, by regulation, it was bound by that Department policy.  Charging the President with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider.”

So there you have it.  The president is above the law.  Mr. Trump knows it.  We can expect his behavior to become increasingly autocratic as he continues to eviscerate Congress.  (Note the increasing instances of declaring a “national emergency” to circumvent the will of Congress concerning Mexico, Saudi Arabia, immigration, arms sales, tariffs, and other actions.)

But, but….  Mr. Mueller did point out that there is a way to hold a president accountable.  In his spoken remarks he said “the opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting President of wrongdoing.”

In other words, impeachment.

Negative precedents are being set almost daily by this administration and especially by the president himself.  We as a country will have to live with future presidents that hold themselves above the law should this president get away without being held to account.  Whether or not he gets re-elected the precedents he sets, left unchallenged, will stand.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is the most powerful elected official in the land behind only the president.  She must use that power under the Constitution to articulate why Mr. Trump’s actions are not only abhorrent on their moral face but also that they are crimes.

The president is a criminal.  We must hold him accountable.  Do your duty.

 


The Fix Is In

Several events last week disturbed me to my core as I realized the depths that Mr. Donald J. Trump and his administration will go to protect him from the rule of law and any sort of accountability.  One of the prominent warning signals came in the form of Attorney General William Barr’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.  In case you missed the live broadcast of his appearance, I will point out that it was not just what he said in response to questions but also how he said it.  He was clearly annoyed that any Senator would question his decisions or his power as the head of law enforcement in the United States.  Perhaps more chilling was his unadulterated and unabashed pro-Trump posture.  He is no longer the Attorney General of the United States, or even the attorney charged with protecting the presidency as an institution.  He clearly and forcefully defended Mr. Trump, the man, and not the president, the office.

Among many startling elements of A.G. Barr’s comments regarding the Mueller Report are what I see as the three most egregious points:

  • The most troubling and news worthy defense of Mr. Trump by A.G. Barr was his insistence that the president is above the law.  You read that correctly.  In response to a question on obstruction of justice — and the fact that if Mr. Trump was successful in carrying out the obstruction, then that could be the reason that no conspiracy to work with the Russians was proved — Mr. Barr stated that under the Constitution the president has the authority to oversee investigations (including those involving the president) and therefore has the authority to shut them down.  Thus, there can be no obstruction even if the president stops an investigation into himself because it is within his power.  He further argued that this is especially true if the president thought the investigation “was not well founded” or “groundless.”  The president has the ability to declare it so.  “The president does not have to sit there, constitutionally, and allow it to run its course.”  And there you have it.  All the president has to do is say that there is no reason to investigate him and then no one can investigate him.  (I assume a “hoax” is “not well founded.”)  The Attorney General believes the president is above the law.  (For info, Article I for the proposed impeachment of Richard Nixon was obstruction of justice.)
  • The second most troubling aspect of A.G. Barr’s testimony is that he waffled mightily in response to a question as to whether the president or any one else at the White House asked him to investigate others.  The context was a section of the Mueller Report that indicated Mr. Trump pressured the Department of Justice (DOJ) to re-open an investigation of Secretary Hillary Clinton and others of Mr. Trump’s political opponents after the election.  He finally answered “I don’t know.” Right.  (As Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) pointed out, that’s not something one might forget.) It used to be a bipartisan agreement that a president using his office to investigate a political opponent on purely political grounds was an abuse of power (Article II of those brought against Mr. Nixon).
  • The third most troubling comment was the confirmation by A.G. Barr that Special Counsel Mueller objected to the characterization of his report put forward by Mr. Barr on 24 March.  In his statement summarizing the results of the Report he claimed that Mr. Mueller found no criminal evidence of conspiracy or obstruction.  When the report was finally released, we found that was not true.  Mr. Mueller wrote to Mr. Barr three days after his March summary to object to the characterization of his work.  “The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions.”  Some Senators think that Mr. Barr lied in his previous testimony when he said that he had not heard any objections from Mr. Mueller when in fact he had already received and read the letter.

There were more, but then you can read it for yourself.

Let’s put a few more developments from recent days out there to paint a picture.  Consider the following:

  • In an on-air discussion with Sean Hannity of Fox News Mr. Trump said of the Mueller Investigation, “This was a coup.  This was an attempted overthrow of the United States government.” Incredibly — although I don’t know why I continue to be surprised — Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the House Minority Leader, used the same word in response to a reporter’s question.
  • The Trump Administration asserted that it will fight or ignore any House subpoena. They are also going to court to stop subpoenas of other entities where Congress is seeking information about the president and possible financial ties to other governments or foreign entities.  “We’re fighting all the subpoenas.”  (Contempt of Congress — refusing subpoenas — was Article III of those against Mr. Nixon.)
  • Mr. Trump still does not acknowledge Russian interference in the 2016 election.  According to the Mueller Report there were 251 contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russian-connected operatives including 37 meetings in person or via Skype.  At least thirty-three campaign officials and advisers held the meetings or were aware of such meetings.  Recall that the Mueller Report concluded that “the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.”

On Friday, Mr. Trump and Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin held a nearly ninety minute phone call.  Mr. Trump did not confront Mr. Putin about the attacks.  President Obama may have been asleep at the switch and not done all that he could as his administration learned the breadth and depth of Russian intrusion, but he did talk directly to Mr. Putin to warn him against further meddling.  He also imposed sanctions against Russia (which are the ones that presidential adviser Michael Flynn got into trouble over for calling the Russian Ambassador and saying that Mr. Trump would lift them).  President Obama also expelled 35 Russian diplomats from the US and shut down two of their facilities in the US.  Yet in his ninety minute conversation with Mr. Putin, Mr. Trump did not even bring up the Russian actions except to say that he and Mr. Putin did not collude and Mr. Putin should know because he was the one who was supposed to have done it.  They then agreed that it was a hoax.  You can’t make this stuff up.

So what does all of this mean?

When taken in their totality it means that we have a president with no boundaries, no oversight, and no sense of what is right.  Mr. Trump still has not been held accountable for any of his outrageous actions and must surely think that the preponderance of evidence indicates that he never will be.  Most certainly not by the Republicans in the Senate and not by the Attorney General.  In fact, should someone, somehow initiate proceedings against the president, we already know that his A.G. says he can shut it down because, well, just because he can if he wants to.

It is also clear that Mr. Trump will not take Executive Action to stop Russian interference in the 2020 election.  Although various agencies are working to shore up our defenses, there is no national level coordination and planning under way to prevent further meddling.  Indeed, Mr. Trump and others in his administration implied that he would take their help again in 2020.(Russia if you’re listening…)

I think that the evidence above also indicates the Mr. Trump believes that the purpose of the federal government is to do his bidding and therefore he will not hesitate to use the full power and strength of the U.S. government to take down his political opponents.  Apparently he will do so with the willing acquiescence of the A.G. and Republicans in the House and Senate.

Talk of coups really scares me.  Do the president and the leader of the Republican Party in the House really think that the Mueller Investigation was an attempted coup? Stop and think about that for a moment.  Anyone that threatens this president’s sense of well-being is a direct threat to him.  Really?  A coup?  If they actually believe that then there is nothing he will stop at to prevent losing his power.  And who will stop him?  The House is being ignored (A.G. Barr won’t even show up to testify about the Mueller Report and his role in its release).  No oversight there.  The Senate trembles in its boots that one of their Republican colleagues will be the subject of a nasty Tweet. No oversight there.  The Attorney General is now the personal defense attorney for Mr. Trump.  No oversight there.  The fix is in.

How far will he go?  Declare martial law for some other self-created crisis?  Nullify a close election he loses?  Suspend the election because he Tweets out that the Democrats are attempting a coup?  I am not sure what he is capable of doing.

Do I sound like a wing nut conspiracy dealer with too much time on his hands?  I hope so.

And yet, the things I’ve mentioned above happened in only a matter of days.  In other administrations, Republican or Democrat, there would be a major reaction to such a clear threat to our norms and national well-being.  Sadly, most people just dismiss it as business as usual.

One theory floating around is that Mr. Trump and his advisers and supporters in Congress are pushing the Democrats in the House as hard as they can so that they are left with little recourse except for impeachment.  Improbably, the Republicans think that an impeachment proceeding against Mr. Trump will help his approval ratings and “guarantee” his re-election in 2020.  To them there is no down side as they know that the Senate would never convict him of the Articles of Impeachment.  If that is the plan, how much further will the administration overflow the banks of good government to create a flood of institutional indignities to force the issue?

I worry that we are in the midst of the creeping destruction of our Republic.  It is taking place in slow motion and in public so that most people who are rightly concerned with the day-to-day effort of just going to work, to school and of trying to keep food on the table don’t see it.  Like everything associated with this president, it is hiding in plain sight.


Shameful

“You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic.  If this body determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds… Impeachment is not about punishment, impeachment is about cleansing the office.  Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”  — Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)

“The president of the United States looked 270 million Americans in the eye, and lied, deliberately and methodically. He took an oath to faithfully execute the laws of this nation, and he violated that oath. He pledged to be the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, and he violated that pledge. He took an oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and he willfully and repeatedly violated that oath.”  — Mitch McConnell (R-Ky)

“There is one standard of justice that applies equally to all, and to say or do otherwise will undermine the most sacred of all American ideals. [The] President has committed federal crimes, and there must be a reckoning, or no American shall ever again be prosecuted for those same crimes.”  — John Thune (R-S.D.)

“As of April 27, including the president’s rally in Green Bay, Wis., the tally in our database stands at 10,111 (false or misleading) claims in 828 days.” — Washington Post

Have Republicans finally seen the light and figured out that Donald J. Trump is unfit for office given the clear-cut references to obstruction of justice in the Mueller Report?  Hardly.

The quotes above refer to the impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton in 1999 and the fact that our current president has lied over 10,000 times since taking office.  The hypocrisy speaks for itself.

And yet, the talk of impeachment — should Mr. Trump be impeached or not — focuses only on the disagreements within the Democrat Party.  Not a word on the Constitutional duty for oversight and the rule of law from any Republican.  The closest that any Republican now in office came was a statement from Senator Mitt Romney (R-Ut).  Mr. Romney did not speak of impeachment or make a case that Mr. Trump should resign.  He merely said that he was “sickened” and “appalled” by the actions of those in the Trump administration and campaign “including the president.”  No reference as to what the consequences should be, but at least it was something.  He was, of course, immediately attacked for his statement.  After that, crickets.

And it gets worse.

“And you look at what Russia did — you know, buying some Facebook ads and try to sow dissent and do it, and it’s a terrible thing but I think the investigations and all the speculation that has happened for the last two years has had a much harsher impact on democracy than a couple Facebook ads….I think they said they spent about $160,000. I spent $160,000 on Facebook every three hours during the campaign. So if you look at the magnitude of what they did and what they accomplished, I think the ensuing investigations have been way more harmful to our country.”  — Jared Kushner commenting on the Mueller Report

We have come to a place where a (the?) Senior Adviser to the President, downplays the fact that a foreign adversary interferes in our election and that he believes that the investigation of that fact was a bigger threat to our democracy.  Oh, by the way.  He got his facts wrong, and he failed to mention criminal activity hacking into the DNC data base and stealing damaging emails. But I suppose that is to be expected from this administration.

And it gets worse yet.

When the president’s personal lawyer was asked about the Mueller Report’s findings of Russian interference in the election during an interview on CNN he said, “There’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians.”  When given a chance to clarify his statement he said, “There’s no crime.  We’re going to get into morality?  That isn’t what prosecutors look at, morality.”  So in the course of the Trump campaign we’ve gone from there was no contact with the Russians, to maybe there was contact but it was to talk about orphans, to if there was contact with the Russians there is nothing wrong with it, to we did contact the Russians but everybody would have done the same, to yes, of course we were in cahoots with the Russians, what’s wrong with that?

And it gets even worse.

According to the New York Times then Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Kirstjen Nielsen tried to bring up cyber security and Russian (and other foreign adversaries) interference in the 2020 election.  She was thwarted by Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney who told her not to bring it up in front of the president.  She was told that Mr. Trump equates any discussion of Russian interference in the 2016 election as questioning the legitimacy of his election.  As a result, there have been no Cabinet level meetings on the subject and no presidential level directives to prepare to defend the country against future attacks.  So much for the president upholding his oath of office.  Additionally, I will take a quick note to remind everyone that the DHS is not primarily focused on immigration.  At least it wasn’t until this administration.  It is involved in counter-intelligence work, cyber security and many other areas vital to our country to protect it from real threats to our security, not manufactured border crises.

Mr. Trump is the biggest threat to our democracy of any president in my lifetime, and possibly ever.  My lifetime includes the presidency of Richard M. Nixon.  He at least had certain standards that even he would not dismiss.  A scoundrel yes, but a scoundrel with at least some understanding of what our country stands for.  There were lines even he would not cross.  Mr. Trump knows no boundaries and now he is aided and abetted by Republicans in the House and Senate that apparently have no boundaries either.  Somehow they have made a pact with the devil that they will support and defend anything Mr. Trump does or says in order to get a tax cut and conservative judges on the federal courts.  It seems nothing else matters.

By their actions and words it is clear that the Republican Party no longer has any intellectual or moral underpinnings.  Their sole reason for being is to defend the president, no matter what.  The Republican Party in Washington ceased to exist.  Trumpism prevails.

To me this is not a matter of policy or a matter of Democrats just not liking the president.  Like has nothing to do with it.  Mr. Trump is destroying the moral fabric of society and deliberately stoking fear and loathing in order to achieve his own ends.

All presidents deserve thoughtful criticism and reasonable people can reasonably disagree on a given policy.  This is more than that.

Please tell me that you would hold Mr. Trump’s actions, words, and demeanor up to your children as an aspirational goal you would be proud to see them achieve.  If you cannot do that, then why do we tolerate it in our president?  What happened to our desire to see a person of great character as the leader of our country?

And please, spare me the “what abouts.”  Not all of our presidents or party leaders have been icons of virtue, but can you truly say that anyone of them in our lifetime was worse than Mr. Trump?  This is not a “it happens on both sides” issue.  It is not.

While the Democrats move to and fro tearing themselves apart contemplating their collective navel as they try to decide whether and how to hold Mr. Trump accountable under their duty as sworn to in an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, Republicans sit smugly on the sidelines appearing systematically to kiss Mr. Trump’s — well, you know.  Not a leader among them.

We get so caught up in the day-to-day travesty known as the Trump Administration that we lose sight of the forest for the trees.  Everyday brings a new outrage.  It is hard to keep up.  Step back sometime and think about the totality of his destructive work.  Taken as a whole, he is a one man wrecking crew with his advisers and apologists in Congress gleefully sifting through the wreckage.

We now know who Mr. Trump is and little about him surprises me any more.  He outrages me, yes, worries me, yes, but not much new in his spiel.  What worries me more is that so many people go merrily along with him hoping that some day it will make their lives better.  Where is the evidence for that?  Apparently, the motivation for Republicans in Congress and those working for him in the White House is power.  Pure unadulterated power.

I wonder how they manage to look at themselves in the mirror each morning.  Shameful.