Saturday, September 28, 2019

Trump and Russia on military aid to Ukraine..a history

Paul Manafort's role and the change in the RNC platform, plus Trump's long-standing opposition to military aid to Ukraine. How CloudStrike became part of the July 25 Trump conversation with the Ukraine president. This is a long history. Will more whistleblowers come forth with conversations of Trump with Putin over this policy. With or without promises to Putin, Trump's history is opposing military aid to Ukraine.
The Mueller report, however, exonerated Trump. The Ukraine RNC plank was not changed at the behest of Trump or Russia

 "Since at least May 2019, Giuliani has been pushing for Volodymyr Zelensky, the newly elected president of Ukraine, to investigate Burisma, as well as to check if there were any irregularities in the Ukrainian investigation of Paul Manafort. He said such investigations would be beneficial to his client, Trump, and that his efforts had Trump's full support.[12]Giuliani's efforts began as an attempt to provide cover for Trump to pardon Manafort, who had been convicted of eight felony counts in August 2018.[41] On May 10 Giuliani canceled a scheduled trip to Ukraine where he had intended to urge president-elect Zelensky to pursue inquiries into Hunter Biden, as well as whether Democrats colluded with Ukrainians to release information about Manafort.[42][43] Giuliani claimed he has sworn statements from five Ukrainians stating they were brought into the Obama White House in January 2016 and told to "go dig up dirt on Trump and Manafort", although he has not produced evidence for the claim.[44] Giuliani asserted he canceled the trip because he had been "set up" by Ukrainians who objected to his efforts and blamed Democrats for trying to "spin" the trip. Giuliani met with Ukrainian officials to press the case for an investigation in June 2019 and August 2019.[45]  "

Trump has a history of catering to Russia on Ukraine Russian foreign policy goals..  He has proposed lifting sanctions for Russia's grab of Crimea and the stealth grab of eastern Ukraine.  and he has proposed removing the mutual defense portions of NATO, the main barrier to Russian incursions into the USSR's former satellites. .  All of this fits neatly into making Russia great, but not in the interest of the US and our allies.

The country has always been at the center of Trump’s scandals.

Friday, September 27, 2019

The Whistleblower/ Ukraine matter and an epic political miscalculation

Update Oct. 9, 2019

Update: Oct. 1, 2019: Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) on Morning Joe this AM stated the reason the President should be impeached in one sentence; President Trump compromised national security by seeking dirt from on a political rival for his own benefit from a foreign country.'s leader.

Update: October 4, 2019 Amb. Kurt Volker who resigned recently as an envoy to Ukraine provided the House committees conducting the impeachment inquiry with emails that show before the July 25 phone call and after, military aid and the Bidens were subjects on the table in an attempt to get the President of Ukraine to commit in writing he would look into the Bidens as a condition of even meeting with Trump and the military aid was linked.

Update: Oct 2, 2019:  Pompeo lies to press.  timeline and his denial he even read the whistleblower complaint and finally admits he was listening to the July 25 conversatio.

Update Oct.3, 2019:  for a discussion on whether just asking a foreign government to provide something of value to help the asker in a political campaign breaks the law. So now Trump is asking China to investigate the short, he is defying the law again after he asked Ukraine. . The major difference between Mueller and this regarding collusion, Mueller could find no evidence that Trump and friends actually and intentionally beyond reasonable doubt collaborated with Russia to interfere in the election. In this case, just initiating the ask puts Trump in violation, especially when he did it 8 times. Quid pro quo is not needed to make this a violation of the law...just doing it in private or in public t is enough to break the law. That dirt on an opponent is not a thing of value is a losing argument, but expect the GOP to offer that as a defense anyway. The real court of public opinion and impeachment do not depend on a guilty finding or a criminal prosecution. It can be what the House defines it. Is there a requirement in impeachment that the same standards for charging a crime..proof beyond a reasonable doubt of intent... Nope. The task of those seeking impeachment is providing convincing proof..or the accused's admission of doing it , as in this case.,.that the impeachment is justified and that the proof will stand up in a trial..or the Senate, in this case. Public sentiment is important, but not necessary. or a requirement. It is good political sense, though, to provide credible evidence and to get the public sentiment behind them to avoid a backlash in the next election

No excuse. Here is the whistleblower complaint you can read yourself. Whistleblowers do not need to have first hand information, but document their sources, which he/she did. They can operate on the "hear something, say something" principle...but they should also present their evidence, which both the IG and the DNI found credible and urgent. The text of the 25th telephone conversation was the same that Trump the point he asked was this whistleblower a spy he had it so right?

The complaint filed by an intelligence officer about President Trump’s interactions with the leader of Ukraine.

On September 24 the Senate on a  bipartisan 100-0 vote urged the President to release the Whistleblower complaint text. On September 25 the President also released a report of his July 25 conversation with the Ukrainian president and on September 26 the White House released the text of the Whistleblower complaint. Trump must have been thinking this would put the matter to rest since the magic phrase smoking gun: "I'll release the military aid if you dig up dirt on the Biden family". .did not appear in the telephone conversation narrative readout. It may have been the largest political miscalculation in the history of US politics.  Trump had dodged the Mueller bullet, but something was different this time, and the President did not see it.

The GOP answer to the whistleblower is that it was just hearsay. Unfortunately for them, Trump and Guilliani have publicly stated they did ask Ukraine to re-open the investigation into Hunter Biden Unfortunately for them, the released transcript of the July 25 did condition release of military aid on a favor, to open the investigation into Hunter Biden. "I have a favor to ask, though". In addition, Trump et al are amazed the whistleblower got the telephone call transcript right and theorize he was a spy (against Trump, we note, not the United States) No hearsay, GOP. Your leader himself verified the whistleblower complaint. and so did his personal attorney, Rudy Guilliani:…/giuliani-biden-ukraine-trump-150…

That Hunter Biden should be investigated for being on the board of a Ukraine energy company and Joe Biden tried to get the  Ukraine prosecutor fired to protect his son has some fatal flaws:
1. Hunter Biden was not on the board of directors of that company then at the beginning of the 2012 Ukraine investigations into corruption and the company Hunter later jointed was not an object of those investigations. .Hunter did not join until two years later.
2. Biden's urging the firing of the prosecutor was to find a more active prosecutor.  His intervention would have hurt Hunter, not help him.Biden and the entire western world asked the prosecutor to be fired because he was a pro Russian holdover himself being charged of corruption. In fact, the whole western world, every international loan agency and the EU demanded that he be fired and, including Biden, urged more vigorous prosecution of corruption, not less.  Biden's "invervention " would have hurt Hunter Biden

If the public confessions of Trump and Guilliani are not enough to verify "the hearsay" as they did, and we can expect the witnesses the whistleblower named refused to come forward...and stonewall the subpoenas,,the most important public witness should be the Inspector General who did interview the witnesses and verified the whistleblower was credible...and what he alleged was urgent. A bit of dates: if the military aid to Ukraine was not given to them by Sept 30, the aid was "dead". A few days before the July 25 conversation, Trump froze the aid. On Sept 13, he released the aid...about the time the whistleblower became known. The date we do not know is when the tape or actual transcript of the Jul 25 telephone call was put in the ultra-secret server reserved for national security matters...not political ones.

I have some theories of why the reason the GOP and White House thought the releases would not hurt the President that much. Their experience with the Mueller investigation confirmed a belief that the bulk of the American electorate would give them a pass since Americans really did not care if foreign powers interfered in US elections since either it helped Trump, their candidate, get elected,  or they were not sure it made a difference in the election outcome. It was just dirty politics as usual even if it involved a foreign adversary. The Mueller Report ended in a political fizzle in spite of the overwhelming evidence that the Russians conducted effectively targeted social media and advertising measures on behalf of Trump.  The only ones who thought the Mueller Report provided a reason for impeachment were some members of the opposition party. Even the majority of Democrats did not think it was worth the pain of impeachment and they feared a voter backlash in swing districts.  That the Mueller Report provided plenty of evidence the White House obstructed the investigation into the Russian interference in the 2016 elections, Mueller also gave the President a pass because of a Department of Justice policy not to indict a sitting president.  Public opinion polls backed up Democrats' fears that the public was not with them in impeachment. The President thought he could get away with any similar action in the future since he got away with the issue of foreign interference revealed in the Mueller Report.  Overnight with the release of the report of the telephone conversation between Trump and the Ukraine president and the Whistleblower complaint text, public opinion in favor of an impeachment inquiry increased by 13 points, though public opinion was still split 50-50 and hearings and testimony bringing the issue to more public attention and verification just begun.

What was different this time? Why did this complaint and telephone call did not have the same anemic impact that followed the Mueller report? Unlike the Mueller report which dwelt on the 2016 campaign, the sitting president himself is the active perpetrator now, not just a passive and arms-length beneficiary of foreign election interference. The smoking gun implicating the President 's collusion was never found by Mueller. This time the gun revealed in the released documents had enough smoke to implicate the president. To force an unwilling foreign country to interfere in an upcoming election on behalf of his political interest, Trump applied a strong-arm tactic using a  bargaining chip of a policy that ran counter to US national security interests.   While the exact magic words of a quid pro quo did not appear in the ill-fated telephone conversation notes,  the report readout did show the sequence and the condition attached.  It was  "though, we ask a favor "that immediately followed the Ukraine president asking to release military aid the president had held up. That was evidence enough of Trump's actions and intent to indicate that needed military aid would be released if Ukraine "played ball" by providing dirt on the Biden family.  Earlier the Wall Street Journal documented eight attempts by Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Guilliani and even a public TV admission by Guiliani that indicated that the request to find dirt on the Bidens was the issue between Ukraine's newly elected president and Trump.  This ill-fated telephone call further left no doubt of Trump's motivation. The conditional withholding of military aid to force Ukraine to re-investigate the Bidens was the new public element in the saga. Perhaps Trump thought he could divert attention from his actions by making noise about Biden's son's wrongdoings as if two wrongs made Trump's wrong a right.  Perhaps he could blame a partisan Deep State again. It worked for him in the Mueller investigation.

What was also different was that US policy toward Russia, to arm Ukraine to stop Russian attempts to take back USSR's former satellites, had strong bipartisan support in the Senate which had appropriated the military aid to the western leaning Ukrainian government. GOP sentiment toward Russia had hardened while Trump continued licking Putin's boots with his public pronouncements. Even Republican  Senators believed it was in US security interests to stop Russian aggressive designs on  Eastern Europe.  Both Senate Republicans and Democrats agreed in voting 100 to 0  for military aid to Ukraine. Using the big stick of withholding military aid to Ukraine for Trumps's personal political advantage is no small matter.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Is Trump throwing Ukraine under the bus

  • Taylor was also worried that Trump might be willing to trade away Ukraine's interests as part of a grand bargain with Russia, Volker told lawmakers.
  • Taylor is expected to appear before members of Congress next week.
Details: Volker told members of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight committees earlier this month that he recommended Taylor for the job after the former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, was removed from her position.
  • Volker said Taylor was initially “reluctant” to accept the role because “he was not sure if we would maintain as robust a support for Ukraine as we had had for the past 2 years."
  • Taylor also told Volker that he was worried about Giuliani's efforts to investigate the Bidens. "He was just worried [Ukraine] was going to get undermined at some point,” Volker added.
  • “Hanging over everyone’s head in the expert community is, is there some grand bargain with Russia where we throw Ukraine under the bus?”
  • Volker said he tried to assure Taylor that the U.S. actually has strengthened its support for Ukraine by increasing sanctions and lifting arms embargo.
  • Volker told Taylor, "Look Giuliani does not represent the U.S. government. Don’t worry about that."
  • Taylor decided to take the job but only after speaking with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for reassurance that Pompeo remained solidly in support of Ukraine.
Concerns about Giuliani's role in facilitating a relationship with the new Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, started to raise alarms.
  • Volker told committee members that he, Taylor, and acting assistant secretary of state Phil Reeker discussed their concerns about Giuliani, stating that they "were just very uncomfortable with him being active.”
  • They thought Rudy was creating “a problem,” and the problem “was that he was amplifying a negative narrative about Ukraine that was impeding our ability to advance the bilateral relationship the way we wanted.”
  • Volker said he relayed these concerns to Pompeo, and told him he was trying to "correct that impression" the president had. Pompeo said, "I'm glad you're doing it."
  • Volker said Burisma was known for years to be a corrupt company, but that didn't transfer to the Bidens. “Saying investigating Vice President Biden or his son, that is not fine. And that was never part of the conversation.”
  • Taylor specifically warned the Ukrainians not to do anything that would be seen as interfering in U.S. elections.
Volker, Taylor and the committees did not respond to a request for comment.

The Democrat's case for impeachment in simple terms: The case for impeachment in simple terms: Pres. Trump tried to shake down the Ukranian president to force him to find dirt on Hunter Biden and Joe Biden , his perceived political rival in 2020, by withholding military aid authorized by bipartisan Congress to prevent further Russian military incursion into Ukraine...and then hid the text in a separate server reserved for very  secret classified code word national security matters, not for political matters to protect the president. .

Some background: The military aid to Ukraine was supported by both Congressional Democrats and Republicans as a way to prohibit further Russian expansion into former USSR satellites..both those under mutual NATO defense and not under a mutual defense treaty like Ukraine. There is an active war in Easter Ukraine with Russia's annexation of Crimea and the Donbas region.within the national boundaries of Ukraine, There is a de facto annexation by Russia and the area is occupied, Russian stealth troops. The Western world including the US had reacted with imposing economic sanctions against Putin's best friends and Russia...which became the subject described in the Mueller report. The appropriation legislation was a bipartisan agreement that it was in the US's national security interest to counter Russian threats to take control of the rest of Ukraine. It was this allocation that Donald Trump halted in spite of the legislation that allocated the aid, then asked "a favor" of the new Ukraine president to look into the business dealings of Hunter Trump as a way to hurt the strongest rival to his re-election, Joe Biden. It was not until the whistleblower's allegations surfaced that the Trump administration released the military aid. The military aid was both physical support of the western leaning Ukrainian government as well as verifying Trump's "tough" stand against Putin which was in contrast to Trump's constant bootlicking of Putin. However, instead, Trump used this aid appropriated for the sake of US national security as a bargaining chip to get Ukraine to re-open the investigation into Hunter Biden instead of caring about the national security interests of the US. In the telephone conversation at question, the Ukraine president brought up the military aid for the Javelin anti-tank weaponry and then immediately Trump asked the Ukranian president "though" for a "favor", including re-opening the investigation into Hunter Biden. The "though" is a conditional indication."..will do a favor, though, are my conditions" : The next question is if the White House released "text" of the conversation had been sanitized or hidden by Trump to bury the "bargain" as a quotable and directly obvious quid pro quo. The urgency is that the aid allocation to Ukraine was scheduled to expire Sept. 30.

Was this a "shakedown" and "cover-up" as the House Intel committee chair Rep. Adam Schiff charges.? The actual recording of the conversation and the verbatim transcript has been "locked down" by the administration that has been moved per the Whistleblower complaint. However, what was "locked down" may not have anything to do with national security interests, but the political interests of the President, contrary to the usual use of that stand-alone system reserved for codeword intelligence.records. The outrage: The DNI referred the whistleblower complaint to the attorney general.Bill Barr.who was named as the president's envoy (as well as Guiliani) to follow up on president"s favor he asked: to rei-investigate the Hunter Biden and any connection with Joe well as during that time the President had held military aid to Ukraine and joined the two issues in his telephone conversation. This was overt conflict of interest to ask Bill Barr for an opinion whether the Whistleblower complaint should be sent to Congress that includes him in the complaint.  Of course, the Whistleblower complaint text eventually was sent on the day of the hearings on the Sept 26.

 The Inspector-General interviewed witnesses that confirmed the Whistleblower complaint that there was a quid pro quo. We need to hear about what the IG found in his investigation that made the Whistleblower's allegations credible. What must also be done is to spring loose to the public the tape of the actual conversation that it was locked down after other eyes saw it.   Some of those other eyes seem to have been interviewed by the IG to come to the conclusion that the Whistleblower's complaint was credible. Following up on the IG investigation becomes even more important as a way to justify the 'locked down" should be brought into the public domain.  This a Nixon Tapes redux.  Post-hearing, Schiff affirms plans to pursue this and to see if there are any other incidences like this.

The President then countered by accusing Hunter Biden walking away with millions from Ukraine and China and Biden withheld military aide when he was a VP unless Ukraine dropped the investigation against Hunter.  None of those have any evidence to support this and in fact, Biden joined an international effort to get rid of a corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor who did not do enough to investigate corruption, not too much against Hunter Trump.    This is a usual technique of Trump when under attack to attack with unproven allegations against if that exonerates Trump from his wrongdoing. It does not.  And in Trump's  case in this current situation, national security was endangered.  Then he threatens to treat the Whistleblower as a spy.  A spy on Trump's crimes???..Not a spy on national security matters...but on Trump's crimes.  The wannabe dictator at work or a mafia don at least using threats and bullying and announcing his intentions to break the Whistleblower laws to try to get the Whistleblower to shut up.


Monday, September 23, 2019

Super American patriotism being hyped by pro Russian Ukrainians interfering in 2020 elections

Know that there are two factions in Ukraine...those who lean West and those who lean to Russia. That was the conflict that involved Paul Manifort who was working for the pro-Russsian faction. The newest elected government is the one who refused to open the Hunter Biden investigation after Trump's 8 conversations with them and a visit by Rudi Guiliani...and likely the subject of the whistleblower complaint Trump is refusing to forward to Congress. The pro-Russian faction has launched active measures on social media..similar to the Russian ones in 2016, and sometimes even copying them.

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Saturday, September 14, 2019

Keeping Constitution Week relevant

A version of this appeared in the Winter Park Times 9 27 19
Update 9 23 2019: Column version post Constitution Week event: The goals of last week’s Constitution Week in Grand Lake, Colorado sound noble, to understand how the American form of democracy came to be and to be educated about it. It was about patriotism, flag-waving, parades, and fireworks, but if you were looking for a balanced understanding of the Constitution and the various applications of it, this was not it. This was a highly partisan event.  The organizers used Constitution Week, just as it has in the past, to advance a political and ideological agenda.

For this year’s event, the leaders stated the focus of the Grand Lake Constitution Week was the evil of socialism.  Not so coincidentally in 2020 the Republican Party strategy is to brand all Democrats as socialists. In recent years featured speakers touted was fear of certain races and the evils of a certain religion. Each of those programs not so coincidentally supported a political agenda of the GOP or of Donald Trump’s  that year whether it was the President attempting to institute a Muslim ban or his dog whistles from the rally podium to fear and loathe brown and black people and “build the wall”.  If there was any connection with the Constitution, it was not one the event organizers may have had in mind, because the Constitution provides protection of minorities from discrimination, protects freedom of religion, and does not establish a preferred economic system, but a political one.

Trump’s 2017 agenda was to ban Muslim immigrants and the event speaker touted the horrors of Sharia law. Trump’s original initiative was rejected by the courts because it violated the Constitution's protection of the freedom of religion.  We often forget the First Amendment to the Constitution bans the establishment of a state religion.  When Donald Trump fired up racial tensions and “build the wall’, that year’s event featured a very controversial speaker, medal bedecked Sheriff David Clarke, whose racist remarks became so overt even Fox News fired him as a commentator.  This week Constitution Week organizers presented a panel of three women who were immigrants from China, Cuba, and Sweden, providing their views about the evils of socialism. The original definition of socialism has long been perverted and nuanced. No one on the presidential candidate debate stage or the incumbent in the United States is advocating either Cuban communism or anything that resembles China’s central control of the economy and extermination of dissidents. Socialism did not cause those oppressive regimes, but the lack of strong democratic institutions helped their rise. Those systems were imposed by force by a bloody revolution and followed regimes that were corrupt, autocratic, and governed a population with extreme income disparities.  Democratic Sweden’s system was voted in by its citizens. It may not be our choice, but it was their people’s will. A 2019 worldwide poll ranked Sweden in the top ten happiest countries in the world. (USA was 19th). Conservative columnist George Will has opined that Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders is no more than a democrat seeking to expand New Deal programs. Even Donald Trump has pledged to protect Social Security and Medicare.

The best defense against oppression by dictators is supporting the original intent of the Constitution’s central theme,   to prevent the rise of a a tyrant  with checks and balances and the rule of law   If there is a threat to the Constitution, it is  a wannabe autocrat of a president who  is determined to see how much of the Constitution he can stonewall, ignore or workaround to give himself  and his office more "executive" power without interference from legislative or judicial oversight.  Raising exaggerated fears of “others” is his strategy to gain support to trample these guardrails of American democracy.  
_________________________________________________________________________________ In the meantime, pro Russian Ukranians are hyping  I Love America as a way to give support to Donald Trump.  Waiving the Flag is a great exercise in democracy, but when it is hyped by a foreign government's active measures, be aware you may be falling for some scary stuff. _____________________________________________________________________________

Original post:
The goals of September’s Constitution Week in Grand Lake, Colorado sound noble, to understand how the American form of democracy came to be and to be educated about it. That is not the main agenda this year.   Grand Lake organizers of Constitution Week are focusing on educating those who attend about the evils of socialism, featuring speakers to testify how socialism was bad in their own countries. It appears they want to scare us into thinking that we, too, will become Sweden, Cuba, or China, or as others have charged end up like Venezuela or being governed by a Pol Pot.  They want you to believe socialism will result in killing fields, lack of freedom, and dictatorial rule. If you are confused about what this agenda has to do with the Constitution, the answer lies in partisan politics. The strategy of the GOP in 2020 is to paint all Democrats as dangerous socialists and try to make their case that the Constitution is threatened. by the scare word “ socialism” as they define it. Socialism has many definitions and many degrees of application. A one-sided ideological presentation may be an interesting intellectual exercise, but it is irrelevant to the choices we face. No one on the presidential candidate debate stage or the incumbent in the United States is advocating either the pure form of socialism or laissez-faire capitalism of the 1800s or Cuban socialism or anything that resembles China’s central control of the economy and extermination of dissidents or even becoming Sweden. Even conservative columnist George Will thinks Bernie Sander’s democratic socialism is no more than expanded New Deal type programs. The feared Venezuela or Cuba dictatorships and Chinese communism arose from reactions to preceding despots, extreme economic disparities, and corruption.  That is not our history.  We in the US are building on 250 years of democratic practices as defined and shaped by our Constitution. 

Let’s face it.  We already have a blending of elements of socialism within a free enterprise system. It was the result of the 1930’s depression when unfettered capitalism failed and when free enterprise in more modern times also failed to provide affordable healthcare to so many.  We have a social safety net of health care and nutrition for the very poor. All came into being through our democratic process of representative government. The question is do we expand these to cover all or more people and add other programs. Politicians who advocate removal or reduce the New Deal policy of social security (funded by payroll deductions and employers), graduated income tax, and Medicare which is a single-payer health system for seniors and disabled find themselves in deep trouble. Taking away Obamacare subsidies for the lower middle-class and affordable coverage of pre-existing conditions for everyone was the main issue in 2018 which changed the House from red to blue.

 The best defense against extremism is strengthening democracy, not subverting it.  The more relevant and fundamental choice we will make in 2020 will be between our kind of democracy outlined in the Constitution and a further slide into autocracy, practiced and advocated by Donald Trump. The US Constitution established a political system, not an economic or a religious one, but it was designed with checks and balances and the rule of law to keep wannabe despots from abusing democracy for their own political power and economic gain. The President is attempting a direct assault on our Constitutional democracy.  He is determined to see how much of the Constitution he can stonewall, ignore or workaround to give himself more "executive" power, without interference from legislative or judicial oversight.  We know wannabe strong men and despots in countries with once  democratic and constitutional traditions  try every way they can to seize power by destroying an independent judiciary by stacking courts with those who will rule on law the way the ruler wants,  destroying  or degrading a whistleblowing free press, and  controlling the legislature  by threats and fear to keep it from standing in his/her way.  We are seeing that unfold now in the US. Often a despot gets to power by scaring their citizen to go along with the destruction of the guardrails of democracy by convincing them that some evil force is at work and assigns blame for their sorrows to a religious or ethnic group or some extremist political system that is advocated by very few. Declaring questionable national emergencies based on hyped-up fears of unwelcome "invaders" to ignore legislation and to rule by edict (executive order) is a time-tested technique used by wannabe despots to gather more power.   There are those who lin their own pockets by virtue of their positions as they welcome the support of their private endeavors and interference from foreigners to help them gain and maintain power and wealth. Those fears of foreign influence were shared by the writers of the Constitution and forbidden in that document.   Such issues need to be included in any discussion of the Constitution, but that is not this year’s focus in Constitution Week.

 By the way, European countries are also a hybrid of capitalism and socialism, but the proportions are different than ours. They have not slid down a slippery slope to autocracy and despotism of Cuban and Chinese communism.  Some believe Europeans are miserable with their socialism. There are always the disgruntled, and with any system, faults can be found, but citizens in European democracies with more equal elements of socialism/capitalism mixtures than us, poll happier than we in the United States. The US happiness measure of its population ranks 19th, well behind other Western-style democracies with their more hybrid economic systems, per the annual World Happiness Report, 2019.  FYI, Sweden ranks among top ten happiest countries in the World.

This is not the first-time organizers of Grand Lake’s Constitution Week have used the event to promote a political party’s strategy. 2017 they featured fear of Muslims who would impose Sharia law on us and provided Islamophobic speakers in order to scare those who attended in supporting Trump’s Muslim ban. Muslims have 1% of the US population and a Constitution that forbids the government from having a state religion. These scare tactics which originated with right-wing think tanks were amplified by Russian Facebook ads in 2016. As part of Russian active measures to influence the elections on behalf of the election of Donald Trump.
Further thoughts:
The purpose of Constitution Week is noble, but the founders of it in Grand Lake have over the years turned it into an opportunity to support partisan efforts to enhance a partisan strategy of one political party and a certain ideology.   It is a flag-waving event and should be in support of the Constitution and I applaud that,. I have no problem with the presentation of political views with which I disagree..  but it should not be the promotion of an off-topic opportunity to promote a one-sided ideological and political agenda without balancing it with other viewpoints or not discussing the pro and con implications for the Constitution.

 The event has a history of hyping
 fear of Muslims supporting the Trump Muslim ban and an attempt to scare voters by painting all Democrats as "socialists"...a polled scare word.. without presenting speakers with a different or nuanced view.  It is in lockstep of the Trump agenda and strategy they have publicly announced to paint all Democrats as socialists so therefore partisan. Courts found the Muslim ban was unconstitutional in violation of the Constitution's freedom of religion clause, and the Trump administration revised it successfully when it became a ban of those from both Muslim and non-Muslim countries.   All that glitters has also been controversial. In an event in an earlier year, organizers had a very medal bedecked Trump advocate controversial sheriff David Clarke to hype his racist agenda. Later, even Fox News fired him as a commentator for his racism.    

The purpose of Constitution Week was never intended to be a partisan or ideological rally and the annual national celebration was established as an initiative of the Daughters of the American Revolution.  There is an excellent site that provides a balanced celebration at   with an agenda permitting both sides of any controversy to present.  Instead of promoting the Constitution as the great document it is, Grand Lake Constitution Week has turned into an advocacy of a onesided ideological and partisan group. The implication is that those with opposing views on race and economic systems that differ from theirs are not patriotic and somehow do not support the Constitution.

After complaints emerged three years ago about its presentation by speakers with an ideological agenda, they have continued to make this event an advocacy opportunity for a particular ideological agenda, coinciding with a  particular partisan agenda du jour. They continue doubling down on it by featuring speakers off the topic of the Constitution and unrelated to the purpose of the national event. Instead of supporting the intent of the national celebration, it has become an unbalanced advocacy event which was not the intent of the DAR founders.  What has hating Muslims as a religious group, racist views,  and economic systems of Chinese, Cuban and Swedish socialism have to do with a  lauding of a political structure that shaped our country? The question remains:  What do these Grand Lake Constitution Week featured speakers have to do with the Constitution?  There may be a connection, but not the one the sponsors of Constitution Week had in mind. The Constitution does not establish a particular economic system and it protects the right to practice religion freely and protects racial and religious minorities from discrimination. 

For views of both liberal and conservatives of Constitutional issues as well as a non partisan presentation of the Constitution, go to

Recommended discussion on the definition and nuanced practices of socialism:

 $1.5 trillion in cuts to Medicaid over the next 10 years, which would be achieved by moving payouts to block grants; an $845 billion reduction to Medicare spending over the next decade that targets a decrease in wasteful spending via lower prescription drug costs; and -- surprise -- a roughly $26 billion decrease in Social Security spending over the next 10 years.       Question: benefits, no cuts?


Thursday, September 12, 2019

Changing papers

In 2007 the editor of the Sky Hi News , Autumn Phillips asked me to be a columnist because she was concerned the political columnist she published was very conservative and she did not want her paper to represent only one side of the political spectrum. She wanted me to bring balance from a liberal viewpoint and she would carry both columnists.  I have always been an activist, but writing has always been part of my advocacy of issues and candidates so I viewed this as a new way to continue my activism. My passion was national and international affairs, but I have years in and out of local government and had been a fly on the wall on the national stage, accompanying my husband, 12 years as Colorado's Democratic National Committeeman, to Washington and conventions. It has also been a core part of my being that I have seen first-hand affairs in Europe, the ruins of World War II,  and the end of the Cold War. and its aftermath through annual trips there.   I married a refugee from Yugoslavia I met in my junior year abroad in Berlin in 1958.  We were married for over 50 years and he was an outstanding physician serving Denver and Grand County as well as the same Democratic Committeeman who knew first hand the country's power players.  The new editor of the Sky-Hi News in the summer of 2019 wanted the columnists to write about local affairs instead of national and international issues and candidates.  The prior editor had also stopped carrying the columnists in print editions in the winter of 2019 and we were only carried on-line. This change was particularly sad since many of our readers did not have easy or cheap access to the internet.

When Michael Turner, owner, editor of the Winter Park Times approached me about coming to his paper to balance a columnist of the right side of the political views with my liberal ones, to put the column in print and online, I accepted that opportunity.    My view is that the greatest cause of our country's polarization is that we all do what is comfortable. If we have an opportunity, as cable news and social media provide us, we naturally go to our favorite media that comes closest to our own views.  What we need is more of the ability to look at both sides of an issue or views of a candidate so that it is hard to switch channels.  Good old fashioned debate is a crucial part of democracy and educating the public of various views is important so they can make a rational decision at the voting booth. Print media that provides side by side views or alternating columns has that unique ability that electronic media often does not provide.