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Friday, December 21, 2018

Our country, our democracy, in mortal danger

I am frightened. Seriously frightened for our people, our nation, and yes,
myself, in a way I never have been before.
We have a President of the United States who delights in sowing chaos and
threatening this nation’s stability at home and abroad.
               What he is doing and saying is also
threatening to tear our country apart.
               Not just destroy our alliances
and respect for us abroad. Not just ruin us financially, though he is doing
those things too.  He is destroying
respect for our government.
               Yesterday, for example, when it
was clear that Congressional leaders in both parties had reached agreement on a
continuing resolution to keep the government running for six weeks, Donald
Trump had what is being aptly described as a temper tantrum.
               Trump loudly bellowed that he
wouldn’t accept the deal, that if he didn’t get his way and the billions he
wanted for his crazy border wall, he’d shut the government down.     
The day got worse after that. Trump, often with
jeering contempt, regularly rejects the advice of those close to him on matters
of policy they know more about.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis, the one cabinet
member who still commands widespread respect, resigned after the President
decided to pull our troops out of Syria. As he often does, Trump totally ignored
the military and diplomatic advice of someone who knows far more about both
things than he ever will.
When that became public, Trump, after first lying and saying
his defense secretary was just retiring, next said that he might pull our
troops out of Afghanistan as well.  For
the first time, I actually began to wonder whether Trump is an agent of or
being blackmailed by Russia.
Regardless, he seems emotionally about two and a half
years old.
We have never seen anything like this before. I
remember the Cuban Missile Crisis, and my sixth-grade teacher telling us there
was probably going to be a nuclear war. I remember Watergate, and wondering if
Richard Nixon would obey the U.S. Supreme Court. I remember worrying about
nuclear war again under Ronald Reagan, and September 11th and all
that followed.
 But it never
occurred to me that any of those Presidents were mentally unstable, or willing
to put their own petty and spiteful emotional needs ahead of what was best for
our nation.
But that’s where we are now. I had thought I would
talk today about the pettiness and spitefulness of the Republicans in the
Michigan legislature, who spent much of this lame duck session doing things
like trying to take power away from the offices of governor, attorney general
and secretary of state, all jobs the GOP lost decisively in last month’s
They made it harder to protect the environment, and
took pay and sick leave benefits away from low-income workers, after preventing
a state vote on the issue.
But what they and Trump are doing are part of an ugly
trend nationally.  Yes, we have an
accidental President who is clearly the most unfit man in history to hold that
Yes, he has stirred up and given legitimacy to the
worst elements in the American soul, from racism to irrational hatred and fear
of immigrants.
Beyond him, however, we have a generation of politicians
who couldn’t care less about the common good, about democracy, who gleefully
delight in making it harder for Americans to vote, or in making sure the people
can’t overturn laws they hate.
This is a greater threat to America than any external
threat we’ve ever faced.
We have to hope we will do better at facing and
fighting it next year.
Jack Lessenberry | December 21, 2018, https://lessenberryink.com/author/jack/

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Sentencing Memos

  The four sentencing memos  published last week have enough material to fill a college course.  Let me give a few of my impressions which I have not heard from others.
        Chump continues to tweet about Mueller and his posse of angry Democrats.  Of course, that's a lie.  Let's look at the Cohen sentencing memo coming from the Southern District of NY.  This was not Mueller.                    Chump failed to nominate a US attorney for the Southern District after he fired Preet Bharara..  So the forty or so judges in the district unanimously agreed to appoint Geoffrey Berman, using an unusual provision in the law.  Berman is a lifelong Republican.  After being appointed, Berman recused himself from the Cohen matter, presumably because he had a conflict of interest.  So his deputy Robert Khuzami took over the Cohen investigation.  Khuzami is also a Republican. 
          Khuzami's sentencing memo was a blistering rebuke of Cohen's payment of hush money in order to help swing the election for Chump.  Most importantly the memo explicitly stated that Cohen acted at the direction of Chump (identified as individual one, who was running for president).  This means that Khuzami stated that Chump committed a crime.         In fact, the crime wasn't merely payment of  hush money, it was a conspiracy to commit the crime which makes it more serious than the crime itself.  There is no explanation why Chump was not indicted since the prosecutor said he committed a crime.  Maybe it was in keeping with the Justice Department policy that a president can not be charged with a crime.  Maybe Khazami buckled under the enormity of such an action. Or maybe, Chump got a little bit of a break because the republican U.S.  attorney could not bring himself to indict a republican president.  There should be no doubt in anyone's mind, however, that in official court documents the Justice Department has stated the Donald J. Chump has committed a serious felony.
        As is my wont, I watched coverage of the memos obsessively on MSNBC and CNN.  All of the commentators correctly stated that these memos were huge.  My problem with the commentators is that they repeatedly said that it looks like Mueller is wrapping up the investigation.  I don't think so.  The crimes committed by Cohen, Flynn and Manafort identified so far, by and large  are not related to Russian interference in the election and Russian conspiracy with Chump, his children and his son in law.  Nothing so far has touched on the infamous Trump Tower meeting.  Nothing has touched upon Chump's statement before the meeting that in the next week there would be a pile of information about Hillary.  The Tower meeting turned out to be a bust, and Chump did not deliver the goods as promised.  How can there be any doubt that Chump had advance knowledge of the meeting?  Chump had a personal interest in writing the false narrative about the meeting.  I believe that Mueller will eventually report far more facts about Chump's conspiracy with Russia than anyone outside of Mueller knows. I suspect that the redactions in the Flynn memo are explosive.  They almost certainly involve Russia. And for good measure I am willing to bet that Chump committed perjury when he answered Mueller's questions.
         The crime which may be charged is a conspiracy to cause harm to the United States. How is that for a sitting president?  Some might call it treason. Chump has attempted to destroy the institutions of government which make our country great.  The institutions are much stronger than this two bit criminal.
        I could go on with a college course of more things to say..  The problem is that our brains can explode with all of this stuff.  So I hope my little bit of analysis puts all of this into perspective.  As always, thanks for listening.