Saturday, May 19, 2018

Memorial Day is also a time to remember what those who died were defending

A version of this was published in the Sky Hi News, May 21-23, 2018

On Memorial Day  May 28 we will specially honor and remember the nearly million and a half in the military who died in wars to keep us from foreign control and the liberty  to pursue life and happiness. At the same time we should be asking ourselves do enough of us even care about protecting our freedoms anymore?
Our founders  put protections of our civil and human rights and freedoms  in the amendments to the Constitution. Not all of those freedoms are absolute and their meanings and limits  have been shaped by an independent judiciary, but they are still fundamental to the freedoms we enjoy for which so many have died.
Nonetheless, the U.S. ranks 45  of 180 countries based on press freedom, survey conducted by the non profit Reporters Without Borders.“ A media-bashing enthusiast, Trump has referred to reporters as ‘enemies of the people,’ ...has attempted to block White House access to multiple media outlets, routinely uses the term ‘fake news’in retaliation for critical reporting, and has called for revoking certain media outlets’ broadcasting licenses.” Update: June 10, 2018: Homeland Security is now compiling lists and data bases of journalists and influencers. To what use will that information be put is the question.

We have had  our civil wars, our slavery, our abuses of rights, but we have  had made progress to improve the implementation of our ideals. No longer.   Human Rights Watch, a non profit watchdog group, has released their 2018 report: “Across a range of issues in 2017, the US moved backward on human rights. Trump has targeted refugees and immigrants, calling them criminals and security threats; emboldened racist politics by equivocating on white nationalism; and consistently championed anti-Muslim ideas and policies…. and (undermining) police accountability for abuse…..”
Voter laws are being passed locally that make it more difficult  for minorities to vote by restricting voting times and motor voter registration laws, and  requiring extra effort and expenses to obtain photo IDs. These suppression measures were implemented  deceptively to protect us from virtually non-existent fraud.
The GOP dominated  Senate is fast tracking the process  to fill federal judicial seat vacancies  with ideologues passing litmus tests preferred over nominees who support judicial precedent and who pass peer professionals’ standards .  This will impact the current interpretation of the meaning of freedom for years, from Roe v Wade to the right refuse to serve certain customers on religious grounds to shrinking governmental protections of the environment, worker safety, and health care.
One freedom that our forefathers treasured was protection  from foreign control . Our founders never imagined the reach to millions on social media by Russian bots and advertising  to help Donald Trump win, as the bi-partisan Senate Intelligence Committee has concluded and reported May 16, 2018, and as our intelligence concluded in January 2017. Added May 23, 2018: Former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, concludes Russian meddling elected Donald Trump.

The control the United States by bribery or personal gain by officials was so feared they put the emolument clause in the Constitution itself. There is a stench in the air that Trump has violated that clause. On May 16, we learned the Trump business organization from which Trump still benefits is  entangled in China financing a Trump Indonesian hotel just as US sanctions were lifted on a Chinese telecom already deemed a threat to US security. Another bombshell May 16 was learning Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer,  manages a consulting company account that appears to have millions coming into it, including foreign money. Suspicions are , that money could be seen as bribery to get access to the President on issues coming before the new administration, yet where finding the money went and who got it  is required to separate the crime from the slime.

Lee Greenwood’s great lyric which  captures the meaning of Memorial Day the best:
“And I'm proud to be an American
Where at least I know I'm free
And I won't forget the ones who died who gave that right to me
And I'll gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today
Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land, God Bless the USA.”

"Russian efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election represent the most recent expression of Moscow’s longstanding desire to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order, but these activities demonstrated a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort compared to previous operations. We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.  We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him. All three agencies agree with this judgment. CIA and FBI have high confidence in this judgment; NSA has moderate confidence."

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