An Enemy of the People

A recent piece I wrote called The Price of War (https://joebroadmeadowblog.com/2020/01/13/the-price-of-war/) drew some interesting comments and criticisms; the responses were markedly disparate.

The majority agreed with the sentiment of the article but had serious doubts we will ever eliminate war as human condition.

Many of the concerns were sincere yet tainted by resignation to something I believe within our power to change.

There was a significant number who focused on one or two negative comments directed at the President. In a nutshell, I find him ill-suited for dealing with complex geopolitics issues. His usual act is saber rattling the power of our military. Creative and nuanced solutions elude him. He plays to some of his supporters like a character on WWF, not the President occupying the Oval Office. Latching on to these criticisms, they tagged me as a progressive leftist liberal.

Leftist I am not, but I am guilty of the other charge. No one has yet explained the negative value of being progressive or liberal. It seems the founding fathers of this country were very progressive and liberal about their continued allegiance to the King. British loyalists considered them terrorists and an enemy of the crown.

However, some went full bore, wishing me an unhappy, painful, and imminent demise. I am an enemy of the people. In light of such threatening behavior, I must poke the dragon once more.

I will dispense with the history aspect I so painstakingly wrote, play the role of “advocatus diaboli,” and argue for a more aggressive response to the perceived threats to this country. Since we will never, in the eyes of many, eliminate war, let us prosecute it with vigor and resolve.

Do unto others before they do unto you.

Perhaps my new found militancy will improve my reputation and earn me an upgrade me to plain liberal or, god willing, a conservative.

But I must set the stage with a small bit of history. Growing up a child of the sixties, I knew the godless Russians and the Chinese hated us. They wanted to either kill us or enslave us all. I knew this despite having never actually met a “Chinamen” or a “Ruskie.”

Yet all the adults seemed to know and accept this as fact, which is why many supported spending much of their tax money on building nuclear weapons. Enough to kill every human six or seven times over.

Of course, what they might have thought was to kill all of “those” people twelve or fourteen times over and keep us god-fearing Americans alive to repopulate the world.

Better dead than red, I always say.

What I don’t understand is, if the Russians and Chinese hated us, and for a time we had the advantage in nuclear weapons, why didn’t we strike then and be done with it?

As Madeline Albright, Secretary of State under Bill Clinton, once said, “Why have all these nuclear weapons if we can’t use them?”

Perhaps she has a point.

Instead, we waited and hoped the Russians and Chinese would see the fallacy in Mutually Assured Destruction.

They have so far. But the world has changed. Can we afford to take the same chance?

Now it is the Muslims who hate us. And we do not want them to get nuclear weapons, so maybe we should not risk it again. Give the command. Turn the launch keys. Send them to their god, It might be a smarter choice.

One more historical point. Allah, the God of Islam, is the same Abrahamic God of Judeo-Christian tradition but why get hung up on a technicality. As a good Christian Crusader once said, “Kill them all, God will recognize his own.”

Iran is the devil of the moment. The country that hates us the most. It was North Korea for a while, but they’ve dropped into second place. They have a better chance of nuking themselves before they get us. Iran is the “Raison du moment” we are playing chicken with armed conflict. But I do not understand something.

Pakistan has nukes. They harbored Osama bin Laden, the hall of infamy star of Islamic terrorism. They are supposed to be our ally and we could not tell them we were coming to kill Osama. Why haven’t we nuked them?

Saudi Arabia supplied nineteen of the hijackers. If we were keeping score, the Saudis are responsible for more American deaths than that Iranian General we spread all over the tarmac. Once again, an ally in name only. Why haven’t we nuked them?

Since Mr. Trump and his BFF, Mr. Putin, control thousands of nukes, and seem to be engaged in a mutual admiration society, perhaps a return to the alliance we shared in defeating the Nazis is in order with our target the new enemy, Iran.

Oh, wait, Russia backs Iran. Perhaps there’s a reason for Mr. Trump’s confusion with allies and friends like these. There’s that pesky geopolitics again.

I would suggest we approach China, considering our new trade deal, but they may be too busy enjoying their 6.1% economic growth. Why can’t we have that? Maybe we can learn something from them on that front.

Let’s just keep this simple.

Here is my plan.

  1. Recall all American military personnel to the US. Notify all Americans living abroad now might be a good time to visit the homeland. Advise them to sell all their furniture or find a solid storage facility.
  2. End all foreign aid to everybody except other nations based on a Christian tradition
  3. Hold a referendum on exempting the Israelis from this requirement. They are not Christian but, in all likelihood, Jesus was Jewish so that bodes well in their favor.
  4. Ask each nation to support what we do. Make a list of all who agree, add to the target list all who refuse.
  5. Start the countdown.

It makes about as much sense as our current covfefe foreign policy.

Circus Trumpus Maximus

“The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Article II § 4 of the Constitution 

With the opening salvos fired in the House Impeachment hearing, the sad process of impeaching a President begins. And it would do us all well to remember this is not something to celebrate regardless of one’s political position. The removal of a President through the impeachment process is the most terrible thing that can happen to this nation short of war.

We are a long way from seeing this happen. We should be more concerned at this point that the law is followed and politics left aside then what the ultimate result may be. For if we allow the taint of politics to infiltrate the process—the very foundation upon which these allegations are based—the results will not matter, except to tear this country apart.

The House can only craft an Article of Impeachment. It remains for the Senate to try the President—under the watchful eye and judicial guidance of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court—and determine if the matter rises to the level of removing the President from office.

Therein lies the hope of the nation, in the non-partisan hands of the Chief Justice. For if we cannot have faith in the position of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, we are lost as a nation.

The talking-head, twitter-feed, partisan rhetoric means nothing, has no value, and distracts from the most significant power granted under our constitution. All it does is drive the wedge between us deeper into the soul of the nation.

We would do well to listen to the words of a fictional, yet profoundly wise, character from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle;

“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”

Sherlock Holmes (A Scandal in Bohemia) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 1891

There are witnesses yet to testify and evidence to be presented. Mr. Trump is entitled to a vigorous defense and the American people are entitled to an equally vigorous presentation of the evidence.

Yet it will come down to the integrity, sense of duty, and character of the members of the Senate.

And therein lies the concern.

The partisan divide has never been more acrimonious, at least in public. If such behavior wins elections then the American people have no one to blame but themselves for continuing to elect such candidates, including Donald Trump.

Perhaps the only way, sad as this will sound, to allow Senators to follow their conscience in voting based on the evidence and testimony in an Impeachment Trial is to mimic the process of other courts and make the vote a secret ballot. Thus, we could remove the pallor of political concerns and allow for a vote based on the evidence.

This would require a rule change. Yet Mitch McConnell has never been shy about changing rules to make his job easier, damn the effect on the country. This might be a way for him to recapture some sense of honor in his long decent into a nothing but a Trump sycophant. And he could do it without letting anyone know he and some of his fellow Republicans do have the best interests of the nation at heart.

Do I think it will happen? Probably not, but there is always hope.

But if the vote is 51-49 against impeachment, we will have all the evidence we need of the character of our Senators and the content of their souls on both sides of the aisle, and a glimpse at the dismal future of this nation.

The President is an Innocent Man

Several points of order. As of this date.

  1. President Trump has not been found guilty of any criminal act
  2. There is no evidence before a court of competent jurisdiction to indicate President Trump committed any criminal acts
  3. Until such time the above conditions change, President Trump is innocent.
  4. The same circumstances, and presumptions of innocence, apply to those who President Trump’s supporters take aim at with their chants of “Lock her up” (although not to some members of the chorus.)

With that said, one can form an opinion on the veracity of the first witness in these impeachment hearings with common-sense rationality.

We can look at the character, background, and integrity of both sides of this issue in forming our opinion as to the validity of the testimony. We can take the approach we expect from a juror who may sit in judgment on this case with a common sense look at the witnesses.

Like Occam’s Razor, the simplest explanation is almost always correct. Is this a vast, deep state conspiracy of liars trying to remove the President or is it honorable and moral Americans trying to do what is right for the country?

Ambassador William Taylor President Donald Trump
West Point Graduate (top 1%) Bone spurs
Captain, US Army Airborne Ranger 5 draft deferments
Viet Nam Veteran Numerous business bankruptcies
Recipient of the Bronze Star and Air medal (for actions in Combat) Said he would release his taxes after the “audit” was completed, now fights the release of his taxes
Long and distinguished government career in positions all over the world under several different administrations Seven Eight campaign or administration officials convicted of criminal acts
   
   

Isn’t it strange how hearsay (without a fundamental understanding of the well-established exceptions to its use) is suddenly an anathema to the President’s supporters?

For the entire Circus Maximus that is the Trump juggernaut, hearsay, innuendo, and twisting truth to fit the agenda has been a virtue. We are supposed to accept everything he, or his supporters, allege absent any independent corroboration.

I, and most Americans, choose to set a higher standard. Ambassador Taylor is the first witness. When it is all said and done, then it will be time to judge. Yet, it is readily evident the foundation for a solid case is being poured upon which the scaffold for this Presidency may soon stand, if the evidence supports it.

Mr. Trump is an innocent man. His culpability in criminal acts has not been established…yet. How long that situation lasts remains to be seen.

Trump’s Transgressions Against America

I was asked recently to list any crimes or criminal activity one might level at Mr. Trump and his administration. I took a bit of time to consider the response and decided this was a better forum.

While the full extent of any crimes is yet to be uncovered, I think there is more than enough concern, when taken as a whole, that there is something fundamentally unsound in this administration and the President.

Now those who support the President will be quick to point to the economy as a worthy justification for supporting the President’s policies and behavior. But, as most understand, the economy is much more complicated than can be influenced by one man no matter how powerful the office.

With that said here are some highlights of things we know have happened, that the president had direct involvement, and for which most would consider criminal. No doubt there will be much more to follow.

  1. Soliciting a Foreign Government to Interfere in an Election (2016 Campaign/Russia  2019/Ukraine)
  2. Used intermediaries to circumvent campaign finance laws. (NRA PAC/Russian money)
  3. Trump Administration or Campaign officials indicted/convicted 7

If Mr. Trump were the head of an Organized Crime Family (some might argue, with merit, that he is) he’d be facing charges under the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Statute and the CCE (Continuing Criminal Enterprise) Statute.

Mr. Trump does bear responsibility for those under his direct authority. The fact that in just the two years he’s been in office there has been enormous turnover in the administration and seven convictions is troubling. Can we deduce anything from this?

A look at past history of administrations might be illuminating.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here are some interesting graphics.

Source:

 https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/1/11/1619079/-Comparing-Presidential-Administrations-by-Arrests-and-Convictions-A-Warning-for-Trump-Appointees

History alone tells us the Republicans seem to have a consistent history of not only violating the law on a continuing basis but no propensity to offer candidates with higher moral standard.

If the law matters, than on that basis alone the Democrats are a better choice. In Mr. Trump’s case, all the wailing and gnashing of teeth about unfair investigations and hearings are just that, sound and fury signifying nothing.

Once the full story comes out, and it will, with all the evidence, testimony, and full disclosure the truth of the corrupt nature of this administration will be clear. Whether he can “trump” Mr. Nixon’s record is unclear but he is certainly in the running for a close second as the most corrupt administration in history.

And, as Mr. Trump is wont to say “his staggering and unmatched brillance” is in charge of it all.

A Deep Hypothetical Dilemma Needing Resolution

Please consider the following two scenarios (this is completely hypothetical and bears no resemblance to anyone in or out of political office.)

Situation 1

Let’s say person W sees person T commit what he believes to be a crime. Person W did not support person T for political office, so he reports the crime because he finds person T reprehensible and undeserving of the position.


Situation 2

Let’s say person W sees person T commit what he believes to be a crime. Person W supported person T for political office, thinks keeping him in office at all costs is important, so he does not report the crime out of a sense of political loyalty.

In each scenario, is the offense committed by T still a crime? Does the motivation or political affiliation of the person reporting the incident mitigate or accentuate the crime?

Let’s say persons A-S come forward and corroborate the accuracy of W’s report of the incident. Does that change anything?

Asking out of a sense of fear we are losing the soul of a nation.

P.S Public service educational opportunity . Makes for interesting reading..://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whistleblower_Protection_Act

The Poisoning of American Discourse

Perhaps we’ve something to learn from this poem by William Blake about the cost of anger.

While vigorous and enthusiastic discourse on differing ways to accomplish things in this country have always brought great benefit, the polarization of extremes does not bode well. We can, we must, always have disparate opinions and methods of accomplishing things yet we also need remember our common goal.

The President’s biggest failure, in my opinion, lies not in what he may be trying to accomplish, but in his methods and manner. Mocking, dismissing out of hand, or ignoring differing opinions from some very intelligent and accomplished Americans who have much to offer is his biggest failure, and the greatest risk to America.

Mr. Trump would be well served to step away from Twitter, put aside his skepticism of the value of others, and listen. His failure to do that is the single best argument against his re-election. The noise of impeachment will be silenced by the politics of the Senate majority who will ignore any evidence to ensure continuity of their power. Waste no more time trying to overturn an election (absent, of course, more evidence) and focus on the next election.

This country has succeeded because of our differences, not in spite of them. The anger engendered by President Trump and many of his most virulent supporters, as well as those who stand in obtuse opposition to him, are a cancer growing on the very heart of this country.

The result of that malignancy may be the destruction of the America we all love.

A Poison Tree

BY WILLIAM BLAKE

I was angry with my friend; 
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow. 

And I waterd it in fears,
Night & morning with my tears:
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles

And it grew both day and night. 
Till it bore an apple bright. 
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine. 

And into my garden stole, 
When the night had veild the pole; 
In the morning glad I see; 
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

“People talk about the impatience of the populace; but sound historians know that most tyrannies have been possible because men moved too late. It is often essential to resist a tyranny before it exists.” G.K. Chesterton (Eugenics and other Evils)

My Country, Love it or Leave it

I wrote a piece critical of President Trump’s despicable Tweets about four sitting US Congresswomen and the responses fit into two categories; those who agreed and those who think people like me should leave the country because we criticize policy or this president. (https://joebroadmeadowblog.com/2019/07/17/when-did-america-become-a-land-of-cowards/)

Reminds me of the pro-war signs (yes there were some) during the Viet Nam war.  “My Country, Love it or Leave it.” Thus, the title and image cleverly designed to lure in those who read it and said, “Damn straight.” (It’s called bait & switch marketing, although they may have stopped reading by this point.)

Trump’s response to the widespread if disappointingly one-sided criticism was to carry on with the message with more tweets.

“In America, if you hate our Country, you are free to leave. The simple fact of the matter is, the four Congresswomen think that America is wicked in its origins, they think that America is even more wicked now, that we are all racist and evil.”

“IF YOU ARE NOT HAPPY HERE, YOU CAN LEAVE!” (https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1151700953030123522)

To oppose or disagree with policy, according to Mr. Trump et al. (you may see that term again), is to be un-American. If I understand his logic–as challenging as THAT is–this means the mark of true Americans is blind adherence to government policy and eschewing open discourse and discussion.

If we accept Mr. Trump’s “logic,” this is what history should reflect and what the future looks like.

If you disagreed with the genocide perpetrated against Native Americans, you should have left the country

If you disagreed with the legality of slavery, you should have just left the country.

If you disagreed with the Jim Crowe Laws, you should have just left the country.

If you disagreed with the denial of civil rights to minority men and women, you should have just left the country.

If you disagreed with segregation, you should have just left the country.

If you disagreed with giving women the right to vote, you should have just left the country.

If you disagreed with the Affordable Care Act, you should have just left the country.

If you disagreed with the Paris Climate Agreement, you should have just left the country.

If you disagreed with the loss of 56 thousand American military members in Viet Nam, you should have just left the country.

If you disagreed with the lack of aid to Puerto Rico or New Orleans after recent hurricane disasters, you should have just left the country.

If disagreeing with the current or future policies of the US Government demands one leave the country, no one would remain after just a few years.

Opposition, dissent, and disagreement are the three of the cornerstones of our form of government. The fourth, the one that makes the whole thing stand firm and tall, is compromise.

Without compromise, nothing works. Without dissent, there is no compromise. Blind adherence to government policies generally comes at the point of a blade.

If you love this country, as most Americans do, you work to right the flaws not ignore them. America is a far better place than many other places in the world. However, it is not perfect and to ignore problems is to be complicit in their continuity.

Dissent may in fact be the highest form of patriotism if the intent is to achieve what could be not just destroy what is.

When did America Become a Land of Cowards?

When did this country become a land of cowards? This is not the America I
knew. Americans do not fear those seeking asylum. We do not demonize those who seek a new life in America.

We used to welcome such people. Now we fear them because we put blinders on in the face of reason.

We used to take on separating out those who deserve asylum from those
seeking to take advantage of our open generosity. Now we label all as criminals, with no basis in fact, and stick them in cages.

ChildWorse yet, we separate them from their children and cage them. If our goal is to create more people who hate America, we are well on our way to accomplishing that goal. If our goal is to destroy the once respected, if imperfect, view most of the world had of America we are succeeding.

We have become a country driven by a fear of everything we do not, or will
not, understand. We have a President who tells sitting members of Congress, who by law must be American citizens, to go back to the country from where they came.

America is that country. It is the country facing severe problems so inelegantly put (to be kind) by the inciter in chief. Problems of intolerance and prejudice exasperated, if not created, by the President himself.

He would do well to remember, this is as much their country as it is yours or mine.

More so, I would argue, since they at least have the courage of their convictions to challenge the status quo or the headlong retreat to a mythical and whitewashed past.

The ignorant arrogance of the President and those who remain silent in the
face of such vitriol from this man is astounding. The lack of universal
condemnation across the country for such remarks is a national embarrassment.

Let us make one thing clear, no rational American wants unregulated entry
into the United States. Despite the President’s pandering to uninformed
jingoistic nationalism, most Americans are wise enough to understand the
difference between illegal entry and those seeking asylum.

To put this in perspective, perhaps some numbers might help.

According to the Pew Research Center, “The United States has more immigrants than any other country in the world the U.S. foreign-born population reached a record 44.4 million in 2017.” The same report found that immigrants and their descendants will drive 88 percent of the United States’ population growth through 2065.

Consider that for a moment.

Out of a population of 300 million, almost 15% are foreign born. Soon, this will be a country with a significant change in the ethnic origins of many of the people living here.

No matter. They will still be Americans.

They are not any different from those who have been here longer. My family has been here for just four generations. Let me disabuse those who see people of different ethnic or racial origin as foreigners that if the measure of a real American is one born here, there are descendants of slaves going back longer than many white Americans. There are generations of people living in Texas descended from the original Mexicans when Texas was part of that country.

Native Americans go back even further. If any people suffered from the
ill-effects of illegal immigration, they would own the discussion.

Immigration—controlled, regulated, and intelligently managed—is good for America. It always has been, always will be. To ignore history, to ignore the realities of the changing demographics of the country, to ignore the basic human decency characterized by the American people is to lose the very thing the makes America great.

Those four Congresswoman demonized by the ravings of a madman may be naïve in the policies they pursue. However, it is that same naivete that sparked a revolution in 1776. A young nation, populated by idealists and dreamers, saw the necessity to throw off the fetters of a repressive government and fight for fundamental human rights against overwhelming odds.

Those efforts gave us the government we have now. Almost to a man, each of those founding fathers was foreign-born. Still, they rose to the occasion to create this great nation.

I wonder what they might think of this President and his silent enablers?

We are better than this. We are smarter than this. We are nobler than this.

It is time we remember that and take a stand against such idiocy percolating in the country.

 

The America I Knew

This is not the America I knew.

wordmapIn the America I knew, differences made us a more dynamic society. They did not tear us apart and separate us into opposing sides.

In the America I knew, public service meant serving for the good of the public, not gathering power to maintain one’s position.

In the America I knew, we had empathy for those less fortunate, confronted ignorance driven by fear with compassion, and demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice to benefit all.

In the America I knew, Presidents commanded respect by their actions and deeds or faced the condemnation of a country that deserved and demanded more.

In the America I knew, we stood as a beacon to the oppressed, a sanctuary to the hopeless, and a refuge to the desperate.

In the America I know now, fear drives policy. Greed drives international relations. And the threat of unrestrained military force fuels diplomacy.

The America I knew was not perfect, but the goal of the American people has never been perfection. America’s destiny is to be the first society which puts the overall good of the world before self-interest.

Time and time again this nation rose to the defense of countries which for centuries waged war over territory, power, and politics. We fought for ideals, not personal gain. We sent our youth to far-flung places to fight and die for the greater good.

All we asked in return was land to bury our dead.

The America I knew, once the enemy was defeated, extended a helping hand to restore the former enemy and aid them in rejoining a peaceful coexistence with the world.

In the America of today, we are a society divided. Unwilling to see the value in an exchange of ideas out of misplaced obstinance and irrational adherence to our own positions. There is never one way to achieve a goal, but there are a million ways to seek success at the expense of our once tightly embraced values.

In the America I knew, it was never us versus them. Today, the tear in the cloth that was America threatens to send us down the oft-repeated path of history. Instead of a lasting, sustainable legacy, we will be just a brief shining moment ended by our failure to remember why America came to be.

This is not the America I knew, we need to regain the spirit that made us different.

 

An Act of Courage or Complicity?

The New York Times decision to publish an anonymous Op-Ed piece from a “senior White House official” is troubling. Reading the piece reinforced many beliefs I have of the Machiavellian nature of the Presidency. But on contemplation, a more troubling aspect of this action by an administration official bubbled to the surface. If we are to believe the motivation is to put country first over politics, the veil of anonymity casts a shadow of cowardice.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/05/opinion/trump-white-house-anonymous-resistance.html

It would seem the writer is more concerned with protecting themselves, continuing the professed but inconsistently followed policies of the President, and maintaining Republican control of the White House than protecting the country from the deranged and dangerous President.

The American people, for reasons I still cannot fathom, elected Mr. Trump. He is the President of the United States. That the American people should breathe a sigh relief because unnamed, unknown, and unelected officials are manipulating government policy on our behalf is ludicrous.

This shadow government bears a strong resemblance to the “Deep state” so often blamed by the President for his problems.

533-0221040827-a.pngIf, as the writer points out, consideration has been given to invoking the 25th Amendment then that is the only path provided for removing an incompetent, deranged, or dangerous President.

When faced with a moral or ethical crisis within government it is expected those called to such service rise to the occasion and publicly take a stand. If that comes at the cost of one’s position such is the burden of public service.

The New York Times is not blameless in this. The media faces an unprecedented challenge to its survival. The public trend of seeking only that which confirms beliefs, no matter how foolish or wrongheaded, and disparaging different perspectives is dangerous.  There has rarely been a time in history where a free and respected media is more critical to our survival.

Protecting anonymity is often the only way to obtain critical information. The long-protected secret of Watergate, ‘Deep-throat,” is the classic example. But protecting the anonymity of individuals who offer evidence of a dangerous man at the head of our government and profess to know what is in our best interests is a conspiracy to undermine the very foundation of government.

The anonymous writer invoked the name of John McCain as someone we should use as a model for a government of compromise. I admired John McCain.  Millions of Americans admired John McCain. If McCain were still among us, I believe he’d be the first to demand the veil of anonymity be removed for the good of the country.