What Might Founding Fathers Say About Trump’s Seditious Conspiracy?

Those who lived in the 1970s surely felt that Watergate was the granddaddy of all political scandals. After all, a vast array of illegal activity that led back to the White House and into the Oval Office resulted in the resignation of President Richard Nixon. Many people after following the 2-plus years of news reporting and committee hearings about Watergate understandably felt there was no way a more sinister and underhanded person could be president.

Over the past week, large segments of the nation have been watching the January 6th House Committee hearings. What we are witnessing being fleshed out with testimony and facts is nothing short of stunning. After all that we have endured over the past six years, it might seem impossible to be confronted with anything that sets one further back on their heels. Even though the framework of illegal and unconstitutional actions by Donald Trump and those around him has long been known, having a congressional committee detail the actions was still very hard to stomach.

The nation is learning about the insidious and seemingly ever-sprawling plot to commit a seditious conspiracy against the United States. A duly elected president was to be tossed aside like a burger wrapper and Trump was to be installed as an illegal one. James Patterson could not plot a more devastating drama.

But what struck me to my core was learning Trump was so desperate to retain power and authority that he stated Vice President Mike Pence deserved to be murdered by the bloodthirsty mob at our nation’s Capitol. The reason Trump felt that way, of course, was that Pence refused to go along with sedition.

There is no doubt when it comes to political chicanery and illegal activities Nixon was a mere piker compared to the outlandish and outrageous actions plotted and undertaken by Trump. It seems almost unfair to place Nixon and Trump into the same editorial cartoons, such as those now being published as we near the 50th anniversary of the famed break-in.

From the night of the November 2020 election, Trump knew that his hold on power was ebbing away, and when the final count from several states, including Wisconsin, was reported no question remained he had lost his bid for reelection.

But rather than accept the election returns from the balloting by his fellow citizens he instead chose to become the first president in the history of our country to dishonor the peaceful transfer of power.

I want to stay on that point for a minute. I wonder what the Founding Fathers would say if they could be made aware of these events and able to be interviewed?

What might President George Washington, a former general who relinquished his military command, and stepped away from an office he was twice elected to so a civilian could take the reins of power have to say? What might James Madison, who history calls the Father of the Constitution, have to say about the blatant power grab and attempted usurpation of what we know as Madisonian democracy?

Ben Franklin, a journalist and newspaper owner, would surely have another line of inquiry.

On the day of a Jan. 6th committee hearing, with much of the nation following events, Fox News spent 45 minutes detailing a surgical procedure for Ozzy Osborne. The dismantling of the very fabric of our democracy was being detailed by members of congress and a major news outlet felt there was no need to inform their viewers as to the dangers faced by the nation.

Franklin, doubtless with a pithy tone, would demand to know why a news operation would willingly deflect from a story that cuts to the essence of our democracy?

Much of our nation is discussing the damning headlines about the plots and attacks on the very foundation of our constitutional government. It is easy to get inundated with the latest breaking news about this story. As such, I would hope that at some point we can, as a nation, reflect on the ideals the Founders sought for the nation. It is glaringly clear why our constitutional guardrails can no longer just be taken for granted.

World Must Not Cede Russia ‘Sphere Of Interest’

I have long self-described as an internationalist when it comes to my views about the role the United States needs to undertake around the globe in conjunction with other nations. I strongly view the footprint of the United States as a needed tool to further not only our interests but equally important the needs and desires of other people.

One of the deeper reasons for my rejection of Donald Trump was the result of his not being aware of, or showing any interest in our legitimate and needed role on the world stage. Not having been in any way engaged with international affairs as it relates to governing left him prattling nationalistic rhetoric and doing substantial damage to our national image and policy aims.

That came to mind, again, when reading the latest from Robert Kagan, someone I try to follow when new columns are published. He is an American neoconservative scholar and a leading advocate of liberal interventionism. His The Price of Hegemony in Foreign Affairs was illuminating and thought-provoking. These lines below summed up my views from 2017-until Jan 20th, 2021, relating as it did to what Trump did not know, or care to learn.

For the 70-plus years since World War II, the United States has actively worked to keep revisionists at bay. But many Americans hoped that with the end of the Cold War, this task would be finished and that their country could become a “normal” nation with normal—which was to say, limited—global interests. But the global hegemon cannot tiptoe off the stage, as much as it might wish to. It especially cannot retreat when there are still major powers that, because of their history and sense of self, cannot give up old geopolitical ambitions—unless Americans are prepared to live in a world shaped and defined by those ambitions, as it was in the 1930s.

One of the complaints I have with those who shy away from grasping the role the U.S. must continue to play around the world, is the way they lament how ‘rough’ the West was on the defeated remnant of the old U.S.S.R. The facts prove, of course, that the West did not bluster or threaten, provoke or prod Russia. Instead, the various peoples of the former Soviet Union, when given a chance to make their own way in the world, looked West.

Kagan demolishes the idea that Russia should be allowed to think they have been granted a sphere of interest, based on history. A flawed notion President Putin tries to stand upon.

The problem for Putin—and for those in the West who want to cede to both China and Russia their traditional spheres of interest—is that such spheres are not granted to one great power by other great powers; they are not inherited, nor are they created by geography or history or “tradition.” They are acquired by economic, political, and military power. They come and go as the distribution of power in the international system fluctuates. The United Kingdom’s sphere of interest once covered much of the globe, and France once enjoyed spheres of interest in Southeast Asia and much of Africa and the Middle East. Both lost them, partly due to an unfavorable shift of power at the beginning of the twentieth century, partly because their imperial subjects rebelled, and partly because they willingly traded in their spheres of interest for a stable and prosperous U.S.-dominated peace. Germany’s sphere of interest once extended far to the east. Before World War I, some Germans envisioned a vast economic Mitteleuropa, where the people of central and eastern Europe would provide the labor, resources, and markets for German industry. But this German sphere of interest overlapped with Russia’s sphere of interest in southeastern Europe, where Slavic populations looked to Moscow for protection against Teutonic expansion. These contested spheres helped produce both world wars, just as the contested spheres in East Asia had helped bring Japan and Russia to blows in 1904. 

Russians may believe they have a natural, geographic, and historical claim to a sphere of interest in eastern Europe because they had it throughout much of the past four centuries. And many Chinese feel the same way about East Asia, which they once dominated. But even the Americans learned that claiming a sphere of interest is different from having one. For the first century of the United States’ existence, the Monroe Doctrine was a mere assertion—as hollow as it was brazen. It was only toward the end of the nineteenth century, when the country was able to enforce its claim, that the other great powers were grudgingly forced to accept it. After the Cold War, Putin and other Russians may have wanted the West to grant Moscow a sphere of interest in Europe, but such a sphere simply did not reflect the true balance of power after the Soviet Union fell. China may claim the “nine-dash line”—enclosing most of the South China Sea—as marking its sphere of interest, but until Beijing can enforce it, other powers are unlikely to acquiesce. 

A most worthy article that deserves to be read in full.

Donald Trump’s Operation Legend In Chicago Regarding Guns Did Work

I believe one needs to head back to April 2018 on this blog to find the last time I was able to find something in which I could agree with Donald Trump. At that time it was the decision by the United States to send missiles into Syria for that nation’s use of chemical weapons. Though a limited and symbolic rebuke to President Assad’s putrid behavior at breaking international law, it was nonetheless the correct response to the dictator.

Today, with data to back me up, I can agree with another action that was the result of Trump’s four years in office. The Chicago Sun-Times best known as “the hardest-working paper in America,” reported the following about Operation Legend, a short-lived effort looking to make people arrested for crimes involving guns face tougher federal penalties than they might if prosecuted in this case–by Cook County courts.

We all should be able to agree on policies designed to rein in gun violence.

Authorities have said that at least 170 people were arrested in the Chicago area in Operation Legend, including 130 on gun charges and 40 on drug charges.

For context, Chicago recorded more than 770 killings that year and thousands of nonfatal shootings.

The average federal sentence of nearly four years in the cases the Chicago Sun-Times reviewed was far higher than what’s typically seen in the Cook County courts.

To determine that, the Sun-Times examined a decade of Cook County sentences in cases in which the most serious charge was illegal gun possession. The average prison sentence was less than a year — 254 days — in the approximately 4,000 cases filed between 2011 and the end of 2021. About 2,300 other cases resulted in probation, according to a Cook County database.

What one can absolutely disagree with, however, was the political timing of the larger plan by the Trump White House. Using law and order for election purposes Trump trotted out Operation Legend after a year of growing social pressure on police tactics in the nation. But we know the need to curtail guns was raging in places like Chicago in 2017 when Trump was inaugurated. And St. Loius. And Baltimore. And…

What riled so many at the time Trump sent federal agents to cities in July 202o was that it fit into the larger narrative about his autocratic moves. It did provoke deep concern when sending in federal forces to major cities with Democratic mayors—in an election year. And after the attempted insurrection with Trump’s support and backing on January 6th at the nation’s Capitol, the federal move in hindsight by Trump that summer seems even darker.

Now I certainly understand how in many presidential election years the GOP has spasms and urgings to show how tough they are and how patriotic they can be.  George H.W. Bush, who often gets respect for international policy on this blog, was nonetheless going for the gutter when he used the flag for his bid for the Oval Office, just as Richard Nixon is to be harangued for stoking the middle-class angst over cultural discord in the 1968 election.

So, it is clear that Trump was playing to his election base of white male voters in mid-2020 and was not truly interested in curtailing gun violence. The desire to look tough and act autocratically has long been the default for Trump. That he hungered and slavishly sought the favorable nods and ‘love letters’ from dictators worldwide was not lost on a swath of the nation.

But having said all of that there is no way to not recognize the bold type steps–such as Operation Legend–that will be required to stem the gun culture which creates daily death and bloodshed in the nation.

I would have advised the Biden White House to not have ended the program, but rather tweaked the policy so ‘the locals’ did not feel like the ‘the feds’ were running roughshod. There is much, much merit in getting as many guns…and the misfits who carry them–off the streets. Who can deny that fact?

What probably goes without saying is that even at the time Trump was correct he was so inept that he bungled that, too.

I can not fathom a third Trump action or policy that I will be able to agree with. After all, even a broken clock can be right only twice, come morning and night.

And so it goes.

Sean Hannity, Fox News, Tarnishes Actual Reporters And News Operations

I was not surprised by the news that landed this morning concerning Sean Hannity and Fox News, but it was dismaying. While the politics of the story is concerning in relation to the 2020 election, the underlying theme of a major news operation linked at the hip with the Republican Party is most worthy of more public attention.

The central story concerns CNN obtaining 2,319 text messages that Donald Trump’s White House chief of staff Mark Meadows sent and received between Election Day 2020 and President Joe Biden’s  January 20, 2021, inauguration. Meadows selectively provided these messages to the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.

Among the trove of texts are more than 80 from Fox’s Sean Hannity.

Hannity spews and hates in equal measure in the text messages, which is his true character, as we know from his on-air broadcasts to these now-public texts. He writes that “Biden is a semi conscious corpse”, uses Michael Corleone as a reference point, and clearly demonstrates how he is as much a partisan huckster as a blow-haired bloviator during his evening program.

“Also if this doesn’t end the way we want, you me and Jay are doing 3 things together. 1- Directing legal strategies vs Biden 2- NC Real estate 3- Other business I talked to Rudy.”

The fact that Hannity both blatantly gives advice on White House politics and strategy and asks for direction and guidance so clearly obliterates the lines between Fox News, his show, and the Trump White House that it leaves a citizen almost breathless.

The sole purpose of Fox News is not in doubt. News has always been an alleged function of the network. It is an active echo chamber in the media for all things Republican and conservative. The undermining of facts and any sense of journalistic responsibility for the presentation of actual news and holding to journalism standards is the last concern of Fox News. It is also about their partisan interests.

Which then undermines the rest of the news world which does strive to do the job of journalism.

History-minded readers might recall the name Philip Freneau. When Thomas Jefferson became so piqued with Alexander Hamilton and the Federalists he turned to Freneau to form a newspaper that would publish views of the opposition. The National Gazette was not unlike most of the papers of the time—and there were scores of them–in that the content was abrasive and politically toxic.

So the idea of amassing resources and creating a ‘news source’ has long been a feature of our nation. But over the centuries the standards for journalism have evolved, and we better understand the vital necessity in a democracy created of an informed electorate. Fox News has turned back the calendar to the days of Freneau. And that does not serve the best interests of the nation.

While Hannity is–well, what he is–it does need noting that there must be an ethical aspect to the role he plays at Fox News. While no one would term him a journalist, he still has an ethical obligation to not participate in the issues he rants about. Even Hannity should be able to understand that point.

Admittedly, I come from the ‘old school’ where it was not acceptable or professional for a news organization, or any of their faces or voices as the case may be, to actively engage with the newsmakers and especially with politicos to alter the page of history that is being written. Such behavior would be blatantly unethical. (This very reason is why Chris Cuomo needed to be jettisoned from CNN.)

Such behavior from Hannity and others of his stripe has sadly added to the public mistrust and lack of regard for the actual news reporters and ethically bound journalists who do strive to maintain standards. The latter are the majority among the media, but of course, it is the ones who break the bonds of trust with the public who gets the headlines.

And so it goes.

Could Republicans Get Over Their Skis In November Mid-Terms?

Dealing with Michael Gableman in Wisconsin has been frustrating on the one hand, but one must admit, entertaining on the other. He can not do any damage in the near term as the 2020 elections were fairly conducted. But might his actions and provocative comments fester and cause problems for independent voters as they weigh Republican candidates in the fall midterms?

What the Badger State is watching play out is similar to a host of places around the nation where far-right voices are still waging their lost battle over the last election. Worse for the larger needs of the Republican Party are those candidates who have tethered themselves to this past election train, thinking it is a winning formula.

I was struck this weekend by the number of news stories that underscored the depth of miscalculation that conservative candidates are taking to play to the angriest and most misguided within the Republican Party.

Consider the Georgia primary for governor.

“The first 23 minutes of the debate revolved around Perdue’s efforts to blame Kemp for Donald Trump’s loss in 2020 and the senator’s defeat in 2021.”

As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution stated, “Many of Perdue’s allegations were flat-out false.”

Meanwhile in Michigan this weekend the state GOP Convention was held.

If this is the last time you ever hear the names Matt DePerno and Kristina Karamo, you’ll be lucky. They are the conspiracy-driven Trump-picked candidates for Michigan attorney general and secretary of state that the state GOP endorsed as candidates in its convention on Saturday.

Their outlandish insistence that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump has led to considerable fractures within the Michigan Republican Party. As such, they’re viewed as longshots who will be unable to unite the party, win over independents, and beat the incumbent Democrats, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.

This weekend The Atlantic wrote at length about the highly-questionable nature of the Republicans this mid-term cycle, reminding readers of Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, Sharron Angle, and Christine O’Donnell. Looking at what is unfolding in many places around the nation it might be summed up this way.

Yet the GOP may be stuck with candidates whose pockmarked, and in a few cases, scandal-filled, résumés could render them unelectable—or at least they would have in an earlier era.

Time will tell, for sure.

As we know, and as Senator Mitch McConnell conceded in a recent comment on this larger issue, “How could you screw this up? It’s actually possible. And we’ve had some experience with that in the past.”

The Republican Party thought the Tea Party movement a great idea, felt at one time Sarah Palin was a breath of fresh air and welcomed Donald Trump into their fold. But to do all that the party needed to trim back on logic, actual policy ideas, decorum, and self-respect.

The question that will be better answered in November is just how far the general voting public agrees, or not, with this rightward move by the GOP that often rejects proven facts. And certainly common sense.

And so it goes.

NATO Proves Why Intelligent Leadership In White House Matters

One of the driving reasons for my support of Joe Biden for president in 2020 was the requirement of our nation to again lead the world community. I was alarmed at the willful undermining of international alliances during the Donald Trump administration. Decades of work and cooperation that buttressed America’s needs and created working relationships for international order were at stake.

It has almost been a whiplash period between the narcissistic threat from Trump in 2018 about the United States withdrawing from NATO to the recent barbaric atrocities being committed by Russian President Putin in Ukraine. From Trump telling his top national security officials that he did not see the point of the military alliance, to the news this past week that Finland, which shares an 830-mile border with Russia, is “highly likely” to join NATO.

Clearly, even Trump can now see the value and purpose of the military alliance. Even if it is being used with a high degree of success against the one person he can never say a cross word about.

It is hard not to smile about Russia’s disdain for having NATO members on its borders. If they thought they were being hemmed in prior to the genocide in Ukraine, they will really feel the squeeze should Finland and Sweden pursue the option of membership in the alliance.

Given the rash actions from Russia, and utter disregard for international law and norms there is every reason to consider that Sweden’s famous political neutrality could end up being, well, not so neutral. Today, neither Finland nor Sweden is considered to be in immediate military danger. But one does not make alliances for the present conditions, but rather bonds together and looks ahead to the potential dangers of the future.

Russia has a history of addiction to conquest and savagery. The Ukraine invasion, however, has proved thus far, the limits concerning the whims of an autocrat. Putin has made a colossal mistake. Instead of weakening NATO, Putin has actually strengthened his foe.

Autocrats prattle about how democracy is not the way for nations to grow and prosper. Actions from Hungary to Brazil have left many worldwide rightly concerned about the condition of democracy. China has challenged democratic tendencies in places like Hong Kong, while we know all too well that Russia will do anything for wistful memories of an empire.

Meanwhile, many others in the world are finding a new resolve to adhere to alliances and the values of freedom. Those matters are not relics. The fact that only a few years ago some were even willing to let NATO drift and flounder is proof why having a delusional and populist-nationalist in the White House is not only bad for America, but also the world.

And so it goes.

Donald Trump Refused To Condemn Putin In Fox News Interview–Ronald Reagan Would Not Recognize Today’s GOP

During a call-in interview on Fox News Wednesday night, Donald Trump would not condemn Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine. Simply disgusting and morally vacuous. This is just the latest example of the fusion between Putin’s backside and Trump’s face.

Sean Hannity simply asked Trump “If the Russian attacks on Ukraine amount to evil in our time?”. What followed was a most tortured, absurd, illogical, and bone-headed response. Take a look at this transcript of the interview if you can bear to do it. It is seriously painful.

“Morning in America,” was the theme of the Republican Party under the leadership of Ronald Reagan. Today conservatives wallow with Trump in their muddy twilight while too many of them have no sense of history, facts, or sadly, even common sense. Proof of that is the lack of Trump’s fellow Republicans who will not respond today because they don’t want to antagonize his angry white male constituency.

But, then, this is also the same party where more sitting GOP congressmen voted not to certify the 2020 election than those who voted for a resolution to support NATO.

On Morning Joe, the panel weighed into Trump’s “grotesque” behavior last night. It is worthy of a listen.

And so it goes.

Donald Trump Phone Log Gap Requires A Modern “Rose Mary Stretch”

When it comes to the seditious and treasonous activity encouraged and undertaken by Donald Trump following the 2020 election it needs to be stated, much akin to the actions of the cover-up by President Richard Nixon and his White House following the famed Watergate break-in, that there is no place to hide from the light of day.

The news today showing internal White House records from the horrific day of the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters has a stupifying gap in Trump’s phone logs of seven hours and 37 minutes!

Poor Rose Mary Woods, the thicker than thieves friend and secretary to Nixon fell on the political and legal sword, taking the blame for the missing 18-minutes of a most vital, and quite obviously highly-incriminating, Oval Office tape recording. She even performed a most illogical and embarrassing ‘re-creation’ of how the erasure occurred.

Nixon historians have long understood that Woods had intimate knowledge about the Watergate scandal. But now Trump, in light of the criminal activity that continues to unfold surrounding the insurrection of January 6, 2021, needs a modern version of the “Rose Mary Stretch.”

The crux of the latest stab at the heart of democracy is the lack of an official White House notation of any phone calls placed to or by Trump for 457 minutes, from 11:17 A.M. to 6:54 P.M. on the day his autocratic plans were put into practice. It goes without saying the audacity of destroying or hiding records plays counter to the facts which are demonstrated by broad-based reporting about phone conversations Trump had with allies during the attack

In March 2016 Bob Woodward gave a presentation about Watergate. He made a statement that reflected well on the national nightmare that was all the assorted crimes and criminal spokes of the wheel that we call Watergate.

“It has been said that Watergate was a ‘lust for political power.’  True, but it was much more—a broader, organized, well-funded, mean-spirited, criminal, secret assault on democracy.

I know that same statement can lean forward in history and also sum up Donald Trump and his brazen attack on democracy.

Who can now be found to explain–akin to Rose Mary Woods-why over 7 hours of phone logs simply disappeared?

And so it goes.