Saturday, September 5, 2020

Putin and Trump are at it again. Will American democracy survive them?

 Updated 9/17-23/20 Putin and Trump are at it again. Will the US democracy survive? National Counterintelligence and Security Center Director William Evanina said in a statement that Russia is actively working to “denigrate” former Vice President Joe Biden and “boost” Trump’s candidacy" (to paint Biden as having cognitive problems)   and to throw the presidential election into chaos and to weaken America's trust in the democratic system. The Director of the FBI then confirmed issued a warning that this was indeed happening and issued a warning to the public.https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/17/politics/fbi-director-wray-russia-election-interference/index.html     
Trump tried to claim it was Russia, not China, but the active force is Russia.If a whistleblower complaint pans out, this is worse than we thought. The complaint by a senior DHS official was told to mute Russian interference and hype China's.  https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/whistleblower-details-alleged-politicization-intelligence-dhs/story?id=72904622 What is revealing is that Russia and President Donald Trump are on the same page, using the same propaganda words to delegitimize the election in advance by claiming mail-in votes are a fraud. Why Trump and Russia have this is still a mystery, but it works for Trump.  https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewsolender/2020/09/03/russia-pushing-mail-in-voting-conspiracies-government-report-claims   There are implications in these actions for the survival of democracy.
On September 17, Dan Coats, former Trump's director of intelligence issued a dire warning about foreign interference in the elections. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2020/09/17/dan-coats-new-york-times-election-commission-op-ed/3480439001/

The other day on a group Facebook site I saw a forwarded article poopooing the accuracy of COVID tests claiming that many who tested positive did not have COVID. The source of the article was RT.com. RT.COM is a Russian government-sponsored television broadcast in English, once called Russia Today. That one was easy to spot, but if the US security agency reports are correct, the rest are much better disguised.   5% is the largest percentage of these false positives  I found searching Google for scientific research. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/which-test-is-best-for-covid-19-2020081020734   ." The reported rate of false positives — that is, a test that says you have the virus when you actually do not — is 5% or lower".   Donald Trump's strategy was to downplay COVID 19,   He admitted it in Bob Woodward's new book, RAGE with tapes also released with his own Trump's voice.on February  7 that COVID 19, was 5 times deadlier than the flu and was airborne while lying to the Amerian public as late as  March 19.it was flu-like and it would go away soon.. https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/09/woodward-tape-trump-knew-coronavirus-was-deadly.html  He has warned January 28, national security officials, that the virus was coming, the worst crisis in his presidency, the same week Joe Biden wrote his op-ed warning him and suggesting what he needed to do to be ready. Sen. Schumer on January 26 called for him to take measures to be ready..
The lies and speculation about Biden's health are being answered by Biden himself by his actions and words. The puzzle is why is Donald Trump trying to disrupt our voting system by claiming fraud before the election even happens and it raises speculation and "what if"s ranging from "it's just Trump being Trump" to dark and dangerous tactics to stay in power regardless of the outcome of the vote.  Maybe it is to keep you from voting or make you think your vote will not be counted.  That would count as voter suppression if the message is carefully targeted to keep down the anti-Trump vote.  Maybe it is that he expects to lose and needs a facesaving excuse to claim he did not lose the election, the election was rigged, and all mail-in ballots are fraudulent.  Facesaving is a pretty lame reason to go to all that trouble but it fits his obsession with crowd sizes and TV ratings. He has a tough sales job, as well,  There was scant proof of voter fraud in the past, so perhaps he can cook up some in 2020 by telling supporters to vote twice.  What is more likely he wants to challenge the election's integrity and make the case in court he won when the vote count was against him. There is some fear he is a wannabe dictator and has expressed he would like to be president for life. What if he would not concede and refuse to leave the Oval Office by January 20,  Inauguration Day. In both 2016 and 2020, he has openly refused to say he would accept the results of the vote. Is that just a public relations posture or would he act on his belief? What he has said in advance of the vote even beginning, is that if he loses, it was because the vote was rigged.  He is not required by the Constitution to concede. It has been the custom for all losers to concede just to avoid a Constitutional crisis, but Trump thumbs his nose at customs or norms whenever it suits him. Fasten your seatbelts between Nov. 3, 2020, and January 20, 2021, though.  He can whine, tweet, argue, and take it to court all he wants until Inauguration Day. Due to the anticipated flood of mail-in ballots, the winner of the election may not be known for weeks and after all of the challenges and legal action are finished, we may not even know the outcome by January 20. Most mail-in ballots will be cast by Democrats and Republicans polled mostly plan to vote in person on election day, so that the same day Nov. 3 vote is likely to reflect a Trump win.  He will be claiming victory and assert every vote cast by absentee or by mail is a fraud. Do not be a sucker. What then happens, at best, is the mother of all constitutional crises as the issue lands in the Supreme Court. What then if he refuses to leave the Oval Office if a court decision goes against him?  Lawrence O'Donnell, an old Washington hand, an MSNBC host, in his tweet, July 31,2020 .has the easiest scenario. The Secret Service would just usher him out the door. Trump would be treated as a trespasser and will be evicted.  According to constitutional law professor Lawrence Tribe, if there is not a determination of a winner by inauguration day, Nancy Pelosi becomes president because she is next in line and the secret service would carry out the Constitution's requirements.  
 There are some violent scenarios out there, but let us pray for the most peaceful way so we would still maintain our democracy. by harnassing, and honoring the provisions of the Constitution and law. There are predictions that right-wing groups would try to use violence to keep Trump in power. https://www.newsweek.com/bipartisan-group-predicts-violence-if-trump-loses-election-refuses-leave-white-house-1520561    Some of these violent movements are also promoting a civil war. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/06/19/what-is-boogaloo-movement/3204899001/ Worse would be if Trump tried to do whatever it takes to stay in power, peaceful or not. That is how most modern wannabe autocrats seized power, abusing the intent of their constitution and using and intensifying unrest on the streets to gain public consent to become an autocrat. The result has been the rule of a person, not the rule of law,  who tells you what the law is and how you are to comply or else (from losing your job to losing your life) and their constitution or laws were to  ignored. Civil rights and protection of minorities are trashed, often with persecution and killing of opposition leaders and reporters .and rigged elections. To get public permission to become an autocrat they used fear to motivate them to scrap democracy in favor of a strong leader, fear of chaos, Muslim immigrants or Chechnyan or Kurdish terrorists,  overblown nationalism, and white tribal fear of other races. It has happened from Putin to Erdogan of Turkey and to a lesser extent in Hungary and Poland who were already racially homogeneous but feared middle east refugees would change that
.This is also an eerie echo of Germany in the 1930s. With the support of enough Germans, if not a majority in the midst of severe economic distress  Hitler rose to power and greater support by hyping fear of Communists and hatred of Jews. Some of the chaos erupting on the streets between political parties was fomented by his brown shirts, suspected of even setting fire to the Reichstag, the parliament building. He promised them order and an end to chaos and their economic suffering. Germany would be great again with another empire, a third one like they had before, and he co-opted royalists, traditional militarists, and industrialists early in the game.  .That is not some farfetched outcome in the US because there is a large body of voters in the US who would follow Trump to do whatever he wants and believes whatever he utters is their truth too.  
 Fears of caravans from Mexico and an emerging threat with the power of African-Americans protesting police brutality have been consistent themes of the Trump administration.  These two themes have become more obvious since the RNC convention. Dog whistles have turned into shout outs with praise of law enforcement who are always acting correctly,  neo-Nazi and white supremacist marchers who are also fine people, and white race-motivated gun-toting militias who are patriots. Added to this is Trump's touting the Trump economy that favors the rich trickling down their wealth as the solution to the COVID caused crash helped made worse by the inept and slow response from the administration. This observation is confirmed by the current direction of the Trump campaign that emphasizes these two messages of fear of loss of white control of "the streets and cities" and that the stock market is booming.  Those are consistent themes in their pronouncements,  tweets, and words, in advertising, and by media echo chamber cohorts.
In many power grabs by wannabe dictators, particularly Turkey, the military was a powerhouse, keeping a country on an even keel of Ataturk's secular western leaning reforms. . President  Erdogan ran on a populist conservative religious plank appealing to uneducated religious non-urban populations. Some bombings in urban areas of suspicious origin were blamed on Kurdish terrorists.. After elections, he consolidated power and purged military generals, judges, teachers, and civil servants and replaced them with loyalists.  An attempt by the military to intervene failed,.    In other instances of a rise to dictatorship, a revolt in the military was simply a putsch, replacing one dictator with a military junta or a general. In 2020 2021, that will not happen in the US.   Chairman of the  Joint Chiefs, Gen. Mark Milley,  has made it clear the active military will not be used for domestic political purposes.   Trump tried once to get them to look like the military.was on his side in Lafayette Park. Trump had openly advocating dealing with all protestors by" suppression and domination of the streets" and he had expressed fantasies the active military would be his instrument. Instead, he dressed a bunch of federal agents like they were ready for combat in Afghanistan, intimidating protestors, tossing them in unmarked cars, and going forth into the streets "looking for a fight" per a  military veteran who was a protestor. That was Trump's vision of dealing with protesters, and it was a fiasco,  igniting an even larger crowd to violence. These unmarked Federales were. disinvited by State and city officials because they made things worse and after critics called them brown shirts or Trump's private army.  Milley pointedly said the military is sworn to defend the constitution, implying they were not sworn to defend a political person.  This also means, it is assumed, the military would also refuse to march Trump out of the White House if Trump refuses to vacate it.  


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