Friday, July 29, 2022

Christian nationalist? Don't forget the white part

Rep.Marjorie Taylor Greene the other day proclaimed proudly she was a Christian nationalist  There are some implications to the term. which could be taken as racist dog whistles.  In any case, she tapped onto a deep and old sentiment held by many of her constituents that calling herself a Christian nationalist is a good thing. There are some advantages and horrors to being born in 1938, I keep seeing history, awful history, repeating itself in my lifetime.  White Christian nationalism in part fueled Hitler's rise to power, his hate-filled oratory.  and resulted in World War II. The current crop of adherents to this ideology ought to put the word "white" in front to describe their real characteristics. The form of this ideology espoused by their advocates has little to do with theology and more with culture  https://time.com/6179886/christianity-white-supremacy-buffalo/   

 I do not get where these Christian nationalists are coming from. .I, a practicing Christian, read the gospels., too. Hating your neighbor and treating others with prejudice, not as you would like to be treated yourself, are the opposite of values Christ taught. White nationalists waive the cross to justify their belief that white Christians founded this nation so therefore they alone deserve to govern it., In neither the Declaration of Independence nor the preamble to the Constitution were white people or just Christians granted inherent rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness by their Creator. To make that clear, in the First Amendment, of the Constitution the federal government is forbidden to establish a state religion.   

 The current group of those who promote this concept of Christian nationalism, white evangelicals, have added a new twist: to their ideology. fear of replacement by those who are not white or who do not subscribe to the current evangelical branch of Christianity or who hold some other belief or non-belief.   I hear echoes of the neo-Nazis marching in Charlottesville chanting "Jews will not replace us". Just insert the word "Jews" with "blacks,  browns, and Jews", and the similarity should be alarming, but it does not disturb those promoting, identifying,  or sympathizing with Christian nationalism.  They seem not to have made the connection.  

 Many, including FOX's Tucker Carlson, are fawning over the white Christian nationalist autocrat of Hungary, Viktor Orban,  as a role model of a conservative government they wish they had in America.  He will speak in Texas at a CPAC convention this coming week.  Orban governs a country in which only 3 percent are not ethnic Hungarians. There is a reason for the "ethnic purity" of the country. Hungary has a horrific history in the Holocaust. From the US State Department, "Hungary joined the Axis in November 1940.  The Hungarian government under Miklos Horthy obligated Jewish males to serve in labor battalions, which led to the deaths of at least 27,000 Jews in the early 1940s before the Nazis occupied the country in March 1944.  In the summer of 1941, Hungarian authorities deported some 20,000 Jews to Kamianets-Podilskyi in German-occupied Ukraine, where they were killed by Nazi Einsatzgruppen.  A few months after the German occupation of Hungary, Hungarian authorities and German security police began the systematic deportation of Hungarian Jews.  More than 440,000 were deported, with the majority sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau.  By the end of the war, of the approximately 825,000 Hungarian Jews identified in a 1941 census, only 255,000 survived.  Approximately 100,000 Jews currently reside in Hungary, primarily in Budapest, of whom an estimated 4,500 are Holocaust survivors."   https://www.state.gov/subjects/holocaust-issues/.Since then Hungary has gone through the process of rehabilitation and acknowledgment of this history, but nonetheless, three-quarters of the 800 thousand plus Hungarian Jews were victims of the Holocaust and the Nazis that governed it beginning in 1940,  (A personal note: an aunt of my late husband was from that Budapest Jewish community. She married the gentile from Bosnia in the 1930s and survived the Nazi invasion and occupation of what was then Yugoslavia thanks to the efforts of the Bosnian family. I had the pleasure of meeting her in 1959  during my first visit to that country.)

 https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-07-26/viktor-orban-will-speak-at-cpac-in-texas-despite-nazi-speech-backlash, 

 https://www.cbsnews.com/news/viktor-orban-hungary-cpac-2024-decisive/

From  my May 23, 2022 post:  Viktor Orban's Hungary: CPAC's fantasy land

 https://www.vox.com/2022/5/19/23123050/hungary-cpac-2022-replacement-theory  

From my posting in May, 2022:

Such wide acceptance of replacement theory is becoming a threat to democracy itself.  This embrace of Viktor Orban of similar racist policies of anti-immigration and Hungarian ethnic domination also brings with it association with autocracy as a preferred method of governance instead of democracy. FOX's Tucker Carlson's enthusiasm for the autocratic ruler of Hungary inspired the US conservative pac,  CPAC to hold a conference in Hungary and plans more.  Hungary's Orban opens CPAC by telling conservatives "we need to coordinate the movement" of allies - CBS News    Tread lightly, CPAC.  You, too, will find yourself with not only the racist, anti-semitic white nationalism that is Orban's but saddled with his method of governing, which means no press freedom ( or press only permitted that is approved by Orban) and what we would consider in the US, a corrupt alliance between big business and government with rewards going to friends of Orban. An independent judiciary no longer exists.  Hungary is not like the US. Orban could be as racist and nationalist as he liked since 97% of the country is Magyar (Hungarian) and speaks Hungarian.  There are no large groups of minorities. That is not the US now and in the future. Takeover by someone like Orban appealing to white nationalists has not been. would not be, and will not be a peaceful process.  For US white nationalists, Hungary is a fantasyland.  The late Madeleine Albright, our beloved former secretary of state, tagged Orban as a fascist in her best-selling book, Fascism: A Warning "in 2018  mostly because of his racism and his opposition to "liberal democracy".  ( Fascism: a warning)


Hungary: where editors tell reporters to disregard facts before their eyes | Hungary | The Guardian

Living With Corruption: An Examination of Viktor Orbán’s Hungary — COLUMBIA POLITICAL REVIEW (cpreview.org)


 

 

Monday, July 25, 2022

Will and can the DOJ prosecute Donald Trump for crimes? Maybe

(Formerly embedded in the July 21 posting and moved to this separate post, revised and updated. )

The most immediate question is if Trump and his allies are criminally prosecuted for what they did to overturn the results of the 2020 election and to give Trump a second term.  Maybe. There are some challenges.  It is not cut and dried. The purpose such criminal prosecution serves is not only to punish but to prevent Trump and others from trying it again.  It also will serve as educating voters about how close they came to losing democracy and also to be on alert it could still happen.

As the January 6 committee rested its case at least until fall, the spotlight is now on the Department of Justice led by  Attorney General Merrick Garland to decide whether to charge Trump with a crime via a grand jury. Not every shady practice is a crime on the books.  Dereliction of duty, the accusatory phrase used most in the January 6 hearings, is viewed as a crime in the military, but not in federal laws.   For any criminal charge, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the intent to commit a crime or directly commit ta chargeable crime on the books beyond a reasonable doubt.  That Garland does not exempt a former president from prosecution was confirmed recently in remarks he made.  No person, including Trump,  is above the law. https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/ag-garland-reiterates-person-trump-law-jan/story?id=87140695   The reasons put forth by some not to prosecute Trump is the fear that this sets a dangerous precedence that would impact future administrations. However, Trump's case was unique in our history. No president had ever attempted a coup to overturn an election. That is a specific case with specific facts and charges that threatened the very foundation of the rule of law and American democracy.   To let Trump off the hook would set even more dangerous precedence, giving green lights to him and other wannabes for attempting the same in the future, free of painful repercussions.

The Justice Department has a challenge in proving beyond a reasonable doubt Trump intentionally committed a crime.    Intent and a heavy burden of proof are elements needed to charge and convict anyone of a crime that is on the statute books.   Trump has a  long history of thumbing his nose at rules and laws. For him, the rule of law and abiding by laws are barriers to be ignored or gotten around. In his business life before becoming president, penalties, restitution, and lawyer fees were just the cost of doing business and they never deterred him from doing a similar dirty deed again.  Two impeachments didn't stop him nor did the Stormy daniels saga or the findings of civil fraud in the Trump University scheme.  None of this was a secret and sometimes his legal escapades made the headlines. . Declaring numerous bankruptcies was a  business strategy to avoid paying obligations.  Bullying and threats were his weapons.    To avoid loss in civil suits and possible criminal charges,  he learned to leave no fingerprints or evidence of potential culpability, shred documents that would be paper trails of shady practices, and forbad tape recordings like the one that ended Nixon's presidency and did not use email. Using lies to make his point was a good strategy, not a moral wrong.  The most current example, after being told by his family, his attorney general, and rulings by 60 judges, that the election was not stolen, he continued the big lie to fuel the events of January 6.

Trump couched his threats in parsed conversations. Direct evidence that Trump gave the orders for others to commit a crime would give the DOJ's case wings, but the next best can be testimony by witnesses that he intended to do so, his state of mind. and the circumstances around the event. The witness testimony under oath revealed by the January 6 committee was a very significant contribution to the evidence of Trump's state of mind.  His method of avoiding accountability for his actions was honed over the years. First came his ask and then hinting at a threat came somewhere else in the paragraph. Sometimes he just appealed for the loyalty to him he demanded. in return for continued support.  Classic examples were "find me those missing votes ", "get me more dirt on Hunter Biden", and "simply declare the electoral college votes a fraud, I'll take care of the rest". The following threat phrases were not spoken but implied: "I'll primary you", "ruin your political future", "not give you your anti-tank missiles " and  "do it even if you have to break the law or announce a faux investigation. "  That was the message his targets heard; they got it.  As his fixer/personal attorney  Michael Cohen who was jailed for hiding Trump'sexpenses in silencing Stormy Daniels, often related,  Trump gave no direct orders to his fixers and allies and lieutenants, but hinted at his wishes, expected them to do the dirty work,  and take the fall in silence if they got caught.    Direct evidence that Trump actually gave the orders for others to commit a crime would give the DOJ's case wings, but the next best evidence can be testimony by witnesses that he intended to do so, his state of mind. The witness testimony under oath revealed by the January 6 committee was likely the most significant contribution to the evidence of Trump's state of mind.

  Listening to the attorneys and legal experts commenting on TV over the past weeks and post-July 21 hearing, there are at least some possible charges. The next challenge is for the DOJ to present the evidence and case to a grand jury.to indict or charge Trump with probably causing a criminal act. The next DOJ decision is whether to go to trial by jury. Merrick Garland has recently indicated that no person, even the president, is above the law, so the indication is that he could charge the president if he so chose.  Most prosecutors usually proceed to a jury trial only if they believe they have a probable conviction, making them more cautious to act than the public would expect.

 1, The clearest thought on an appropriate charge so far I heard was presented by William Cohen this past week.on cable TV.  Cohen is a  Republican who served as both a member of the United States House of Representatives and Senate and as Secretary of Defense under Democratic President Bill Clinton.   He suggested the charge of an accessory to and after the commission of a crime.  Even if Trump did not directly execute the crime himself it is a crime to be an accessory, aiding, and abetting the execution of a crime. 

2. Conspiracy to commit sedition, is a charge already levied on the Proud Boys and Oath keepers. Treason itself cannot be charged unless we are at war. Seditious conspiracy is the peacetime version.  Overturning an election that is part of a  legitimate democratic process is likely a seditious act.  This is a very heavy lift to accuse a past president of something like treason. particularly undermined as a deterrent if no penalties result such as jail time.

3. To interfere with an official government function, is a crime.  The certification of the electoral count is an official government (and Constitutional) function.  This is an obvious one, but the consequences are not very severe.

4. Indict him as a co-conspirator, either unnamed or named. . Trump was the unnamed person number 1 in the Stormy Daniels, Michael Cohen escapade.  Unnamed would be a slap with a wet noodle leaving the question of personal accountability charge as applied to him debated forever.. Its value would mostly be to educate the public about how unfit he was and is to be a president and to influence public opinion about him.  The only penalty levied would be making it more likely Trump will lose an attempt at a second term.

There are other charges out there, but these are the ones I heard most frequently.

Even then, how many of these charges are voters willing to tolerate or believe in his guilt in numbers enough to stop him at the ballot box even if he wins or is found guilty at trial. That is the ultimate question.



ed)


Friday, July 22, 2022

: Can and will Trump be charged with a crime by the DOJ? The future of democracy might depend on the answer

Revised and updated: July 24, 2022

The ball is now in the Department of Justice's court: Can and will Trump be charged with a crime? Merrick Garland should. The future of democracy could hang on it or might not, depending if the impact on the public mood and voters' reactions could spoil  Trump's attempt to win a second term in 2024.  We may get a sense of this in the November 2022 midterms if Trumpists win or lose their races in counties, states, and Congress. According to Axios reporting, secret plans were being developed and had begun to be implemented by Trump and his allies to consolidate control of the entire federal bureaucracy, sabotage democracy as we have known it for 250 years, and keep him or those like him in office for years to come.  His choices already dominate the Supreme Court as the list of decisions on public policy this year demonstrates, from ending Roe v Wade to knee-capping the EPA's ability to fight climate change. The rest of the federal bench is still showing a firm streak of independence throwing out over sixty court cases for lack of evidence the 2020 election was stolen.  Further execution of it these plans will now depend upon his saving a second term. Trump devised the scheme in 2020 known as "Schedule F" and began to implement it by executive order, but Biden ended it.   That scheme would have Trump end federal civil servants' protection from political pressure in such vital agencies as the Justice Department, the military, and the IRS among agencies, and replace  50,000  holding key policy related positionswith those loyal to Trump himself rather than to the Constitution. and the rules of law.  In practical terms, what Schedule F would mean for citizens who were not pledged to Trump and  Trumpism is that they need not apply to a federal agency to fix a problem or change policies. In time, whether citizens like Trump or not, they need to demonstrate their loyalty, not to abide by the rules and laws, but to Trump, Trumpism, and Trummpists who interpret and enforce the rules.   

It is such a  power grab that becomes self-perpetuating. To have a voice, and get business done, you have to jump on their train. That is how dictatorships begin to consolidate power and remain in control, subverting and destroying the more impartial rule of law until the next revolution, violent or velvet, unseats them because it would take that to get regime change. as the election process is controlled by the dear leader, as well.  It is far better to nip this anti-democratic movement of Trumpism in the bud now by using the ballot box while you can than to unseat an entrenched autocrat later. Don't think the MAGA mouthpieces and cheerleaders do not have that in mind. Steve Bannon, just convicted of contempt of Congress, ranted that if MAFA succeeds now it will be in power for a hundred years. Bannon says MAGA will govern for 100 years That is what is at stake and why it is important that Trump and their followers feel enough pain and repercussions to send the message to wannabe Trumpists that the price is too high to pay for such a power grab.  That is why both the January 6 Committee's actions to shine a light on Trump and his failed coup are so important.  It is also why the Department of Justice's actions to get accountability through criminal prosecution become so important.  However, if it is not translated into votes on November 22 and November 24, democracy will not survive another four years of Trumpism. As even a powerful conservative judge noted in his ruling, Trump is a "clear and present danger" to democracy. Conservative judge: Trump is a clear and present danger to democracy  

 The problem those of us who care about the fairness of governance that the Constitution provides is faced with a sizeable group of voters, still, about 30 to 40% of the electorate, do not give a whit,.  It is my theory that one of the reasons for this is that they are ignorant of history and how much similar public sentiment gave rise to the fascist and communist dictators of the last century. It did not end well. It resulted in their demise in losing world wars and cold wars.  It also brought unanticipated suffering to their own citizens who had swallowed propaganda. and oratory by demagogic leaders using modern media. Another powerful force driving Trumposm is empowering their brand of politics to gain more power to enhance their own personal ambitions and economic self-interests. What counts in the day-to-day lives of most of those supporting Trumpism with no political ambitions they say are inflation and crime..  More important drivers, I believe, are the cultural issues of white Christian nationalism. fueled by fear their beliefs are under attack by modern and liberal social values and by rising black and brown demographics.  That gas prices are decreasing and Biden is increasing funding for police, and with Trumpists proposing nothing to solve those problems,  those issues may not be the same hot topics in 2024,  Nonetheless,  cultural wars will persist. 

 https://www.axios.com/2022/07/22/trump-2025-radical-plan-second-termhttps://www.axios.com/2022/07/22/trump-presidency-schedule-f-federal-employees

__________________________________________________________________________________

This following segment has been moved to a separate, stand-alone posting, revised and updated dated  July 25 

The most immediate question is if Trump and his allies are criminally prosecuted for what they did to overturn the results of the 2020 election and to give Trump a second term.  The purpose such prosecution serves is not only to punish but to prevent Trump and others from trying it again.  It also will serve as educating voters about how close they came to losing democracy, but also to be on alert it could still happen.

As the January 6 committee rested its case, at least until fall, the spotlight is now on the Department of Justice led by  Attorney General Merrick Garland to decide whether to charge Trump with a crime via a grand jury. Not every shady practice is a crime on the books.  Dereliction of duty, the accusatory phrase used most in the January 6 hearings, is viewed as a crime in the military, but not in federal laws.   For any criminal charge, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the intent to commit a crime or directly commit ta chargeable crime on the books beyond a reasonable doubt.  That Garland does not exempt a former president from prosecution was confirmed recently in remarks he made.  No person, including Trump,  is above the law. https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/ag-garland-reiterates-person-trump-law-jan/story?id=87140695   The reasons put forth by some not to prosecute Trump is the fear that this sets a dangerous precedence that would impact future administrations. However, Trump's case was unique in our history. No one had ever attempted a coup and to overturn an election. specific That is  a specific case that threatened the very foundation of the riule of law and American democracy. to that kind of behavior .   To let Trump off the hook would set an even more dangerous precedencece, giving green lights to him and other wannabes for attemmpting the same in the future, free of painful repercussions.

The Justice Department has a challenge in proving beyond a reasonable doubt Trump intentionally committed a crime.    Intent and a heavy burden of proof are elements needed to charge and convict anyone of a crime that is on the statute books.   Trump has a  long history of thumbing his nose at rules and laws. For him, the rule of law and abiding by laws are barriers to be ignored, and gotten around. In his business life before becoming president, penalties, restitution, and lawyer fees were just the cost of doing business and they never deterred him from doing a similar dirty deed again.  Two impeachments didn't stop him nor did the Stormy daniels saga or the findings of civil fraud in the Trump University scheme.  None of this was a secret and sometimes his legal escapades made the headlines. . Declaring numerous bankruptcies was a  business strategy to avoid paying obligations.  Bullying and threats were his weapons.    To avoid loss in civil suits and possible criminal charges,  he learned to leave no fingerprints or evidence of potential culpability, shred documents that would be paper trails of shady practices, and forbad tape recordings like the one that ended Nixon's presidency and did not use email. Using lies to make his point was a good strategy, not a moral wrong.  The most current example, after being told by his family, his attorney general, and rulings by 60 judges, that the election was not stolen, he continued the big lie to fuel the events of January 6.

Trump couched his threats in parsed conversations. Direct evidence that Trump gave the orders for others to commit a crime would give the DOJ's case wings, but the next best can be testimony by witnesses that he intended to do so, his state of mind. and the circumstances around the event. The witness testimony under oath revealed by the January 6 committee was a very significant contribution to the evidence of Trump's state of mind.  His method of avoiding accountability for his actions was honed over the years. First came his ask and then hinting at a threat came somewhere else in the paragraph. Sometimes he just appealed for the loyalty to him he demanded. in return for continued support.  Classic examples were "find me those missing votes ", "get me more dirt on Hunter Biden", and "simply declare the electoral college votes a fraud, I'll take care of the rest". The following threat phrases were not spoken but implied: "I'll primary you", "ruin your political future", "not give you your anti-tank missiles " and  "do it even if you have to break a law or announce a faux investigation. "  That was the message his targets heard; they got it.  As his fixer/personal attorney  Michael Cohen who was jailed for hiding Trump'sexpenses in silencing Stormy Daniels, often related,  Trump gave no direct orders to his fixers and allies and lieutenants, but hinted at his wishes, expected them to do the dirty work,  and take the fall in silence if they got caught.    Direct evidence that Trump actually gave the orders for others to commit a crime would give the DOJ's case wings, but the next best evidence can be testimony by witnesses that he intended to do so, his state of mind. The witness testimony under oath revealed by the January 6 committee was likely the most significant contribution to the evidence of Trump's state of mind.

  Listening to the attorneys and legal experts commenting on TV over the past weeks and post-July 21 hearing, there are at least some possible charges. The next challenge is for the DOJ to present the evidence and case to a grand jury.to indict or charge Trump with probably causing a criminal act. The next DOJ decision is whether to go to trial by jury. Merrick Garland has recently indicated that no person, even the president, is above the law, so the indication is that he could charge the president if he so chose.  Most prosecutors usually proceed to a jury trial only if they believe they have a probable conviction, making them more cautious to act than the public would expect.

 1, The clearest thought on an appropriate charge so far I heard was presented by William Cohen this past week.on cable TV.  Cohen is a  Republican who served as both a member of the United States House of Representatives and Senate and as Secretary of Defense under Democratic President Bill Clinton.   He suggested the charge of an accessory to and after the commission of a crime.  Even if Trump did not directly execute the crime himself it is a crime to be an accessory, aiding, and abetting the execution of a crime. 

2. Conspiracy to commit sedition, is a charge already levied on the Proud Boys and Oath keepers. Treason itself cannot be charged unless we are at war. Seditious conspiracy is the peacetime version.  Overturning an election that is part of a  legitimate democratic process is likely a seditious act.

3. To interfere with an official government function, is a crime.  The certification of the electoral count is an official government (and Constitutional) function.

4. Indict him as a co-conspirator, either unnamed or named. . Trump was the unnamed person number 1 in the Stormy Daniels, Michael Cohen escapade.  Unnamed would be a slap with a wet noodle leaving the question of personal accountability charge as applied to him debated forever.

There are other charges out there, but these are the ones I heard most frequently.

Even then, how many of these charges are voters willing to tolerate or believe in his guilt in numbers enough to stop him at the ballot box even if he wins or is found guilty at trial. That is the ultimate question.




Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Tilting windmills or smart politics? House and Senate Dems act on wish list

Tilting windmills or smart politics? House and Senate Dems act on a wish list. 

Democrats holding a slim majority in the House of Representatives and Democratic Senators are working to pass a flurry of 'bills they know hold little chance of passing in the 50-50 Senate.  They are assuming the pundits are right: the House will fall into a GOP majority in November 2022,  making their legislative agenda a  pipedream even if Democrats make gains in the Senate.  So why bother?  Because it is a smart strategy.

One of the fallouts of the extreme right ideological takeover of the Supreme Court is that so much of the liberal agenda has been tossed back to states or to Congress to enact ( codify) into law.   It will intensify divisions in a country, intensifying already entrenched red and blue divisions on issues that have overwhelming or significant popular support. In response, Democrat  House members are attempting to pass legislation they know will not become law before the November midterms and will die in a 50-50 Senate with selected obstructionist tactics by Democratic Senators Manchin and Sinema. Even if those two senators say they like a particular bill, they make sure it does not pass by refusing to make exceptions to the filibuster rule requiring 60 votes, not 50 plus 1.  Is this a political strategy or just a cry of anguish?  It is a political strategy to get all members of the House and Senate on the record on popular issues with widespread support. Democrats' ultimate goal in the 2022 midterms is to hold onto the House majority and pick up a net gain of two Senate seats. It will take going on the attack to show the contrast clearly between candidates and political parties. The voting record, yea or nay, exposed publicly will help make that contrast on issues voters care about.  

Those issues being targeted are protecting rights to choose and same-sex marriage,  access to birth control, lowering prescription drug costs,  closing loopholes in the electoral college process, ending dark money and secretive political contributions, banning assault weapon sales or restricting access to them, and preserving the ability for citizens .to travel from one state to another state to seek services and safety. 

   Why "on the record"?  Politicians are notorious for sidestepping and parsing statements about issues they oppose even though they know have wide public support.   That should be the bitter lesson in the GOP's success in stacking the Supreme Court to support their partisan and ideological agenda. During hearings to get Senate approval for their nomination,  the nominees either avoided answering their views or indicated support of keeping as precedent previous court decisions/ However,  after their hearings resulted in their swearing-in and then sitting on the bench, senators were shocked, shocked, shocked they had been pacified on the issue of honoring precedence, especially regarding Roe v Wade.  The shape of the Court has been finalized for years with the appointment of three young ideological right-wingers.     They immediately killed the concept of settled law (stare decisis), standing by things already decided. They have overturned any prior decision the newly constituted majority of the Justices said "were wrongly decided" by prior Courts on a large number of issues.  Parsed words of nominated justices cannot be trusted any more than common politicians, but common politicians can be held accountable by voters for votes approving nominations. 

. Actual votes on the record can be used in campaigns either to support their candidacy or oppose them.  If election denying can serve as a litmus test, the votes on public policy issues also serve as litmus tests, as well as put forth in an education campaign alerting low information voters who have not followed the lead-up to November federal and state elections this November.   It clears the fog of attack advertising and public pronouncements, making it easier for voters to see sharp contrasts between candidates on popular issues. Those issues include  Roe v Wade, mass shootings, freedom to travel from one state to another, and the Court's permission of dark money in the Citizens United decision. These are popular in any poll.  By forcing both House members and Senate members to cast a vote on these public policy positions, it becomes more difficult for the GOP to avoid hiding behind inflation, gas prices, and appeal to white nationalists and Trumpist loyalties.

House Passes Two Bills Seeking to Ensure Access to Abortion - The New York Times (nytimes.com)

The Supreme Court just threw the idea of settled law out the window - CNNPolitics

Supreme Court makes Citizens United even worse in a landmark dark money case - Vox

VIDEO – At Rules Committee Hearing, Chairwoman Klobuchar Highlights Need to Address Secret Money In Our Elections, Bolster Transparency of Political Spending - News Releases - U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (senate.gov)

Thursday, July 14, 2022

2024 begins now. The choice will be between democracy and Trumpism.

2024 begins now, and the choice will be between democracy and Trumpism.  With Donald Trump planning to declare his candidacy for 2024, it is not a question of whether but when.  Voters sooner or later will need to decide what kind of a government they want for themselves and their children and grandchildren. It is not just a choice between Trump the person but also between candidates who are his most dedicated followers and those pledged to continue American democracy as we have known it. The first opportunity to cast a vote on this fundamental issue will be this November 2022.  Trumpism will be on the ballot if not Trump's name..  This will be the first chance most voters will have to voice their choices for Senate and House, state, and county. offices since 2020.  Each state, federal and local name on the ballot is important and will determine the future of what kind of governance we want going forward.  These elections should be between those who support keeping 250 years of how the American democratic system has worked (regardless of party affiliation) and Trumpism. 

Trumpism as I define it is inspired by Trump's post-election 2020 actions. Whatever we call it, it is emerging as a movement that inspires, condones, or excuses violence when all other means, lies, and abuses within the existing system fail to keep their favored leader in power. Key will be elections up and down the ballot, but especially important will be choosing county clerks and secretaries of state.  Loyalty to Trumpism will be easy to determine by the litmus test of whether they disagree or agree the election was stolen. By their answer, you should know them. Each candidate needs to be publicly on the record. Beware of wishy-washy evasions.  From their answers, voters can determine whether they can be trusted to run their elections in a way that is fair to all, not just fair for  "their own side".   The bottom line is just how many elections in the future do voters want to see be decided by events like January 6? 

The opposing view to Trumpism, as I see it,  is the vision our founders had:  the rule of law applied to all in equal measures, minority, and majority, and obeyed by both winners and losers accepting and respecting peaceful regime changes They outlined the basic laws and framework of governance  in the Constitution.   Whether Donald Trump will ever be held accountable by the Department of Justice for any criminal act is not known.  In the meantime, voters in the 2022 midterms can do it by voting out as many of his  Trumpism surrogates as they can. Losing elections is the worst thing that can happen to  politicians short of criminal prosecution.  Anyone in the future who may even contemplate what Trump did, will at least think twice because there were consequences in 2022 and 2024.   

_________________________________________________________________________ More on the rule of law and the American form of democracy and  how Trump tried to ignore and subvert it follows:

Democracy, rule by the people, is not mentioned in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. (For that matter, neither were political parties) In fact, the founders feared democracy without the rule of law.  Direct democracy they thought was chaotic.  They then set up a representative form of government called a republic. Even the Greek thinkers who coined the concept and who inspired the founders feared populism, though the law they cited was "natural". America's founders then used "the republic", to describe their goal, people electing their government comprise today those who were what we would term today as elitists. (in the 1700s literacy was not that widespread) What Is a Democracy? [ushistory.org] What laws governed its citizens and who enforced them were and still are to be decided ultimately by voting for representatives at the ballot box but in a democracy that should not be interpreted and enforced by a potentate sitting in an oval office.  It should closely reflect the will of the majority. It was never meant to be the tyranny of a minority enforced by an all-powerful "strong leader", whatever he was called, a king then or later a dictator, an autocrat, the fuhrer, a fascist, a dear leader., or "comrade president",  That desire to be free from the tyrannical rule was why there was an American revolution and the Constitution came into being. It has served the purpose that is just as relevant today as it was in the last quarter of the 1700s.  It is a method of giving the citizens a voice via the ballot box in shaping public policy and keeping the peace and order, but it only works when both winners and losers abide by the law so long as they were based on the Constitution adapted and applied to current situations,. What Trump tried to do was to defy laws, ignore them, interpret them to suit his desire for power, and work outside the legal process,  In his private business he often got away with manipulating the rules, or settling civil lawsuits when that failed..  Once the courts did not rule in his favor to overturn the election by mid-December 2020, he then set out to circumvent the law,  using propaganda and modern media to promote "stop the steal" to justify his actions to his supporters with what he had been told was a lie by his own staff, the Attorney General, and White House lawyers,  and applauding violence and intimidation culminating on January 6.  

The ballot box in free and fair elections is the mechanism for reflecting who is the majority and who is not. . Free and fair elections do not mean it is only fair if their "side" to which they are loyal controls the vote so they can control the outcome.  It means obeying rules that give all parties the ability to have eyes on the process.   Since 2020 there has been an attempt to undermine faith in the elections. It was a strategy to paint them as being stolen by corruption and fraud.  It follows that if voters cannot trust their vote got counted, then they should trust Trump instead because they believe he told the truth. Never mind no one has ever found evidence.   The courts, even the members of the White House staff, and the attorney general himself looked into the allegations. All found no evidence and told Trump, by December 16.  That became clear in the January 6 committee hearings. Nonetheless, Trump persisted with the lie the election was stolen and believing the lie became the test of loyalty to him, even by those who knew it was a lie. It also became the rationale for Trump's plan B, to put pressure on his vice-president to single-handedly refuse to certify the election on January 6.  The pressure was more than words.  It was a riot and one he planned to incite in spite of staff objections, per the January 6 committee's sworn witness testimony.. Whether Trump directly employed the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers or others supporting violent revolution 1776,  and Three Percenters may never be known, What we know so far from journalists and likely from next week's  January 6 hearings is that he reveled in the January 6 violence and refused to call them off for hours. 

  The polls were taken as recently as this May show that while around 60% of all voters polled believe the election was not stolen,  and 90% of Democrats also agree the election was not stolen, 60 % to 70%of those identifying as Republicans still believe in the big lie, the election was stolen..Whether they believe it to be a fact without evidence or use it as a ticket for admission to the GOP power structure, it is still a litmus test voters can use to determine where the candidate stands and whether to consider that candidate a surrogate for Trump and Trumpism.  It remains to be seen how many will be influenced by the January 6 committee hearings by November 2022, but those who put their heads in the sand now could likely be in for a surprise. Recent polls taken after the hearings began show Biden would still beat Trump if both were on the ballot today, per a Siena College poll released this past week. This is in spite of Biden's job approval rate being historically low.

PolitiFact | Most Republicans still falsely believe Trump’s stolen election claims

apnews.com/article/donald-trump-joe-biden-elections-arizona-voting-ec714036dccf6adb09966561776cc046      Update: Nope. Only one dead body, not thousands, was found by the AZ AG to have voted in Maricopa County AZ. Cyber Ninja's report showed ignorance of the process.

There are many who claim it was Donald Trump who saved democracy on January 6.  They need to go back to school for a refresher course on civics and American history.  There was nothing about Trump and the rioters that had much to do about Democracy. In fact, they demonstrated what American democracy was not about.  From an earlier posting on June 17, here are some of them. (condensed).  

American democracy is not about one person determining the winner of an election.  Pence was pressured by Trump and others to be that person. 

Democracy is not about ignoring, subverting, or failing to comply with the rule of law.  It is not about loyalty to a person, but it is about complying and obeying the rules set forth by a representative democracy. Trump expected being loyal to him meant even breaking the law on his behalf,

Democracy is not about using violence and terror to determine the winner of an election.  

Democracy is not about one news outlet, and one alone, providing their version of his" truth".. FOX News refused to carry the January 6 hearings on opening night, but when 20 million viewers tuned into the hearings,

Democracy is not about those who believe theories that have no evidence and facts to back them up yet claim they are truth and reality.  When laws rule, just execution of those laws demands evidence and proof.  Over 60 federal and state judges found there was not enough evidence of fraud to change the 2020 outcome.  Attorney General Bill Barr's testimony that the 2020 elections were fraudulent was bull..t.

Democracy is not about one leader claiming his version or the truth reported in the media or the interpretation of the law is the only one credible and to be trusted. Trump and his staff coined the term "fake news" for reports he did not like or called them lies.  Democracy requires respect and access to various views and rebuttals to them so voters can make their own judgments of who is lying and who is not..   

Democracy is not about using the active military to intervene in civilian matters and domestic politics. General Milley took that reading of the Constitution to heart in the aftermath of his being forced to participate in Trump's bible-waiving propaganda walk in Lafayette Square.

Democracy is not about ignoring the will of the majority of people expressed through the ballot box and not permitting a partisan loyal to one ideology, party, or person to pick and choose which votes should be counted.  That was the issue at the heart of the fake elector slates strategy, to let a person choose which slate was to be counted...   Democracy is not about only one party being allowed and given access to count ballots or counting only ballots they assume support them. 

Democracy is not about preventing those in the minority from peacefully expressing themselves individually or in a group.  This is not an absolute right. It is extended to the peaceful nature of the protests and demonstrations.,

Hand recount requests from defeated candidates Tina Peters, Ron Hanks rejected (denverpost.com)


  




Thursday, July 7, 2022

Memories of an IRS audit when I was a candidate

 IRS audits: Andrew McCabe says his and James Comey's selections should be investigated - CNNPolitics

The report that Andrew McCabe and James Comey, two high-ranking DOJ, and FBI officials found themselves the target of a specially rare and demanding IRS audit after becoming at the top of Trump's enemies list, jogged my memory of something that happened to me as a candidate for Denver mayor over 40  years ago.  The misuse of the IRS to attempt to trip up or get revenge on a political opponent is a dirty trick as old as political dirt itself.

  I was in the middle of a campaign for Denver's  mayor., I was a woman upstart taking on an old-time machine politician that was mired in the mentality of the 1950s when Denver was still viewed as the Queen City of the Plains and a large cow town with the world's foulest air.  My campaign was gathering stream in a field of 11 candidates and was rattling the old guard'/s cages. The incumbent mayor had political alliances long-standing beyond Denver's borders.  Low and behold, I got hit with one of these extensive IRS audits.  I had just spent nearly seven years as the director of a District Attorney's office on consumer affairs and white-collar crime that was funded by federal law enforcement funds and was subject to frequent state and federal audits.  I ran my personal household expenses like I had the kept records in the office and receipts were bulging in my home files.  My campaign staff was anxiously awaiting my return from the bout with the IRS auditor.  I recall our small business records were on the hot seat and the IRS agent demanded a receipt for a $2.50 expenditure for spare keys.  I produced the receipt and, like those  FBI agents above, found out I had overpaid the IRS and was due a refund.  The campaign staff was relieved and I had the last laugh. I came in a respectable second but the coalition I put together and an epic snowstorm with the old mayor's inept handling of it helped Federico Peña to win the next election for mayor.  I had the honor of serving in his administration.  He "imagined a great city" and the modernization he began made it the thriving place it is today.


https://www.cnn.com/2022/07/07/politics/internal-revenue-service-inspector-general-probe-comey-mccabe/index.html




Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Vote? Why bother say my 20 something grandchildren.

Vote? Why bother say my 20-something grandchildren

 With recent polls showing 85 percent of the country thinks the US is on the wrong track, what bothers me the most is the attitude of some of my grandchildren who are in their mid-twenties. One is a survivor of a school shooting,  I wonder about that generation's influence in the upcoming elections. ""If only Bernie had won," or "I voted for Hillary, but look where it got us" is their hangover from the elections in which they did vote. They are facing years of student debt as they seek even higher education. They see more gun violence and more homeless on the streets below their family's urban apartment. They live in a blue state, not yet impacted by the worst hit to the control of their future when they see Roe v Wade being overturned elsewhere. They will see attempts to bring this policy to their own state. They see mass shootings by disturbed individuals using legally bought automatic weapons of war. They welcome recent gun safety legislation but know the threat to their classrooms and large gatherings is inadequately addressed by recent Congressional action. Their top agenda item is global warming, and they fear the planet they will inhabit has serious repercussions for the quality of their future lives. They see a Supreme Court kneecapping the ability of the EPA to do much about it. Dreams of buying a house of their own have been set back for years by higher interest rates and inflation. The guy in the White House is nearly their grandmother's age. His heart may be in the right place, but he is just not their guy, and he is incapable of inspiring them. Their malaise is deeply understandable. Their faith in democracy has been shattered. Why even vote. Nothing will change". 

The answer I have seems to fall on deaf ears. Vote, I say. The only argument I can make to motivate them is if you do not vote, it will only get worse. That is hardly inspiring. Consider the alternative, I argue. Non-voting will further empower a  political party enamored with a  past president wannabe dictator whose attempted coup failed, a clear threat to our democratic form of government. They should be concerned about a political party whose platform and support represent a minority opinion on issues important to their generation. However, they hear from pundits that political party is likely to regain the House., There is a Senate that will continue to be paralyzed by inaction it is so closely divided, We have a Supreme Court lopsided ideologically with decisions that fly in the face of the 20-somethings' interests and priorities. They still see little hope.  

 Compromise, their mother tells them. She knows from experience as a gender equality activist you cannot have it all at one time. I agree. Sometimes it's step by step, and sometimes a step backward. That's the way democracy works. They look at us with disbelief. They say they must continue our fight to get what they want; no half a loaf for them. I, their grandmother, born as World War II was beginning, have seen it all. I am a political science major in love with American democracy that lived through the assassinations of the 1960s, McCarthyism,  Vietnam civil turmoil,  racial and civil rights strife, too many recessions and stock market crashes, and married over 50 years to a refugee (their grandfather) from a communist dictatorship whose knew the alternative to democracy up close and personal. Even after the bleakest days, we found things got a little better. Soon your generation, my grandchildren,  will be in charge, and what you want you to have a chance to get if we still have a democracy.   So vote.   

Most Americans say nation is on wrong track k, poll says | abc10.com




Sunday, July 3, 2022

A note to those on the left: Bravo, Liz and here is why

On this 4th of July weekend, a note to those on the left: Bravo, Liz, and here is why...

 I know there is a lot of chatter from the left that Liz Cheney does not deserve great praise because on public policy issues she is a hard-core conservative, but here is why I am with her:.In the pyramid of my political concerns, the continuation of democracy is at the very top. Everything else in public policy is secondary because, without democracy, people themselves can not shape public policy. In one way, her conservative credentials give her even more credibility than anyone else on the committee because she has that singular agenda not tied to public policy issues and political ambitions. What she has done is shine her brilliant light like a laser with her clear thinking and plain talk on how America almost lost democracy on January 6. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Bravo, Liz