We Need to Believe Our Eyes and Ears: We Have A Manchurian President

The Manchurian Candidate is a classic movie from 1962 in which Russian Communists initiate a plot to use a brainwashed American soldier as a sleeper agent to kill the candidate for American President. Evidence would be revealed to show the Russians were responsible. The Vice-Presidential candidate, someone controlled by the Russians, would then succeed him and be able to assume dictatorial powers to safeguard the nation.

 

In the reality we face today, there is no brainwashed sleeper agent (I think), no Presidential candidate that is killed. However, as the Mueller Report made clear, a Democratic candidate and our electoral process was attacked and undermined by Russian agents to sow discord and put into officea man who now serves their interests. Many of the facts about T acting in Russia’s interest against our own have been in the news repeatedly. But it is so devastating a picture it is hard to accept. We have a Manchurian administration.

 

Just imagine what the Russian government would want from an American President. They could not defeat us militarily, so they would have to attack us from the inside. They would not just want to end our sanctions on their government but would try to destroy our democracy and turn us into an ally or puppet state.

 

They would do this by dividing our nation so much that we would be in a near civil war. They would instill fear of violence in our gathering places and schools. They would create fear in one group of all others, so this group would feel under attack and they would strike out, de-stabilizing the social fabric of the nation. And they would undermine efforts to prioritize combating domestic terrorism.

 

They would undermine the rule of law.

 

They would suppress the vote, undermining our democratic election process in fact as well as our faith in that process, and create so much chaos and confusion, fear and anxiety, that the American people would eventually want to turn to a dictator just to get some peace.

 

They would undermine our democracy further by having the President talk about not leaving office after a second term or claim violence would ensue if he lost an election or was removed from office. He’d spread lies of a cabal working against him from the inside, manipulating the election, so we wouldn’t recognize the Russian manipulators and their agents. They would begin this process by not acting to secure our own electoral integrity from Russian and other hackers. And they would get their supporters in Congress to obstruct bills requiring that contacts between politicians and foreign agents be reported to the FBI.

 

They would undermine the economy through chaotic trade policies, take away economic power from the middle class and direct it to a small group who would work with Russians for their own gain. They would act with a lack of fiscal responsibility, including running up a massive debt so the government would not be able to flexibly meet a recession or other crisis. They would politicize the Federal Reserve Board so it serves as a functionary of the T family.

 

They would undermine the free press, install propaganda networks to control information, accuse protestors of being a violent threat to law and order and thus make protest illegal.

 

They would spread so many lies they would undermine the possibility of discerning truth from fiction so Americans would not believe that what was happening was really happening.

 

They would attack anyone who opposed them, calling them treasonous, in order to create the impression traitors were patriots, and establish a de-facto dictatorship.

 

They would undermine our standing in the world, undermine the idea of democracy itself, and undermine our traditional alliances so we were isolated and distrusted. They would sing the praises of dictators, in Russia and North Korea, for example, and ally us with the same.

 

If you look at our nation today, everything above is exactly what has been happening in this since T was elected.

 

A Review of the Details:

 

On February 27, Michael Cohen said: “Given my experience working for Mr. Trump I fear that if he loses the election in 2020 that there will never be a peaceful transition of power…” Cohen’s revelations of Trump as possibly threatening the government, the constitution and rule of law with violence, affirms what many have suspected ever since T was elected, but it is frightening to see our fears stated so bluntly by someone who knows Trump so well.

 

Cohen is not the first to speak of this threat. Roger Stone warned America in 2017 of “insurrection” if Trump is impeached. Politico reported that Stone said, “Try to impeach him. Just try it. You will have a spasm of violence in this country, an insurrection like you’ve never seen.”

 

As the Mueller Report makes clear, the President clearly asked for and accepted Russian aid in the 2016 election. He also, once in office, cut sanctions on Russia, for example, on Oleg Deripaska, a close associate of Putin. In Helsinki, while standing next to Vladimir Putin, T sided with Putin against our own intelligence community,, claiming the Russian dictator spoke strongly in denial of the claim Russia interfered in the 2016 election. The President tore up the notes of his discussions with Putin.

 

According to Admiral Rogers, the head of the U. S. Cyber Command, Trump failed to even ask NSA how to protect our election system from hackers. USAToday reported that Senate Republicans recently voted to block $250 million to beef up election securityThe New York Times reported that Kirstjen Nielsen, before resigning as head of the Department of Homeland Security, became increasingly concerned about Russian activity in the US. But she was told by White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney not to bring this up with Mr. T. As a consequence, she never met with the different cabinet secretaries to coordinate a strategy to protect our elections, nor did she inform Americans of the latest version of Russian attacks on our nation.

 

And“Moscow Mitch” has blocked any bills aimed at protecting our elections from coming to a vote in the Senate. FBI director Christopher Wray announced he shifted resources to counter the Russian threat, largely without any White House support.

 

Instead of going after the Russians who attacked us, the Mueller Report reveals T tried to get the Department of Justice to prosecute political rivals in the U. S., most notably Hillary Clinton ⎼ to avenge or protect himself, not the nation.

 

The Mueller Report documents10 times T may have obstructed justice. According to page 6 of the document, Flynn “informed the government of multiple instances, both before and after his guilty plea, where either he or his attorneys received communications from persons connected to the Administration or Congress that could have affected both his willingness to cooperate and the completeness of that cooperation. The defendant even provided a voice recording of one such communication.”

 

Mr. T has driven wedges between the US and our allies and has lowered the standing of the US in international affairs. He has failed to adequately staff and support the state department and other non-military agencies meant to protect our national security. He has also granted security clearances to people with compromised histories despite being warned of the danger these clearances could pose to our security. All of this has made us more vulnerable to attack.

 

We could go on and on with T’s criminal behavior, and behavior that threatens our democratic institutions and our humanity.T has clearly used hate to divide our nation to a disturbing degree. A Pew Poll shows that we are more divided now than in the early 1990s, maybe more divided than any time since the Civil War. He has attacked Hispanic people, African-Americans, Muslims, LGBTQ, and women, especially powerful women, like journalists or members of Congress.

 

The wealthiest among us are now so rich that 3 individuals own more wealth than half of the population. And the GOP tax cut is only making income inequality worse. T promised the 2017 tax cut would pay for itself, create a surging economy, increase wages, repatriate money hidden in foreign countries, decrease middle class taxes, but little of that has proven true. In fact, it has reduced federal income to a degree that it might threaten our economic stability and security.

 

So, if the President isn’t a Manchurian President or consciously working as an agent of Russia, he is certainly weakening our democracy and our nation. We know this, or most of us do, but we can’t let our anxiety or anger get in the way of doing what we can to sweep him out of office by the ballot box or by criminal proceedings.

 

 

 

Facing the Nightmare: The Threat that is Trump

On Wednesday, February 27, to conclude his testimony to Congress, Michael Cohen said: “Given my experience working for Mr. Trump I fear that if he loses the election in 2020 that there will never be a peaceful transition of power…” Cohen’s revelations of Trump as possibly threatening the government, the constitution and rule of law with violence, affirms what many of us have suspected ever since he was elected, but it is frightening to see our fears stated so bluntly by someone who knows Trump so well.

 

Cohen is not the first to speak of this threat. Roger Stone warned America in 2017 of “insurrection” if Trump is impeached. Politico reported that Stone said, “Try to impeach him. Just try it. You will have a spasm of violence in this country, an insurrection like you’ve never seen.” This is probably another example of Stone’s political theatre. But, in case anyone still holds the illusion that Trump and most of his supporters value democracy or our constitution, think again. They will do anything they can to intimidate and confuse us.

 

This is, of course, part of the nightmare that is Trump. In 2018, he warned of violence if the GOP lost the midterm elections. When he said this, there was no proof of any planned violence by anyone. So, was he just stressing the stakes for his supporters, saying his opponents will “overturn everything” if the GOP lose Congress? Or was this an attempt to intimidate or to warn Democrats of what he was capable of doing?

 

Was he, as an article by Jonathan Chait in the Intelligencer wrote in November 2018, “tantalizing his supporters with the prospect of bloodshed”? He has often threatened and tried to dehumanize or encourage violence against those who oppose him, labeling them, us, as the “resistance mob” or the “radical resistance.”  …

 

If we want any chance of a future with a substantive choice at the ballot box, or elections without threats of violence, our first priority must not be to support whomever will promise our most dreamed of policies. We must support the candidate who is most likely to defeat Trump and what he stands for.

 

To read the whole post, please go to The Good Men Project.

Celebrating the Differences

On this day celebrating Martin Luther King Jr., it is important to remember not only the need to fight those who teach hate but to support those who model love. Remembering that we have had powerful leaders in the past who worked successfully to make the world a better place for all of us gives me hope that there will be such leaders again in the near future, and in fact are here, now.

 

One of my favorite quotes of King’s was one that echoes the Buddha and Gandhi, among others: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

 

King was not a perfect person. But there are no “perfect” people. We might feel the pressure, both from ourselves and others, to think we should be perfect. Or that if we aren’t perfect, how could we demand ethical behavior, clarity of thinking, or compassion from politicians? But what King fought for and the fact that he fought is inspirational.

 

“The time is always right to do what is right.”

 

We might think that those who are already social and political leaders must be either absolute saints or absolute sinners. We often want myths, not reality. It can be difficult to admire someone without mythologizing them.

 

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.”

 

For example, some people of faith think the rich and powerful are favored by God, and so truth is what erupts from their leader’s mouth. However, when we think of our leaders as greater than us, greater than life, it’s too easy to ignore who they are or what they aim to do. The more real, the more human a leader is, the more we can learn from them. Instead of making a leader greater than us, we need to make ourselves into leaders, or at least informed citizens. We need to learn to examine the implications of policy proposals to determine as best we can what kind of world any leader would create.

 

“When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’”

 

Do we want to “make America great again?” What does ‘great’ mean to T or his followers? From a study of T’s actions, we can see that he is trying to undermine democracy. His aim is to bring our nation back to a time before the Bill of Rights, before the constitution, maybe before the revolution. He wants a nation without a free press, without voting or civil rights, without a balance of powers between different branches of government, and with one-man rule. Or maybe he’s trying for something even worse, a white nationalist kleptocracy in which the rich are not controlled by laws but assume total power over the laws ⎼ something that didn’t even exist here 300 years ago.

 

“Every man must decide if he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the utter darkness of destructive selfishness.”

 

In 1947, in the Morehouse College student newspaper, Martin Luther King wrote: “If we are not careful, our colleagues will produce a group of close-minded, unscientific, illogical propagandists, consumed with immoral acts.” And this is what the Presidency is now teaching. T, along with his education secretary, Betsy DeVos, is trying to replace education with propaganda,  public schools with private, a commitment to improving equity and protecting student’s rights and safety with a focus on producing workers desperate for income, open inquiry with religious centered mind-control.

 

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”

 

We must not say: “This is awful but does not affect me directly. This is an assault on democracy and this is unjust, but I can live with it.”

 

Instead, we must be aware that: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

 

This is what, and whom, we celebrate today.

 

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

 

 

 

*The photo of is of a wall painting of Martin Luther King Jr., in Lake Worth, Florida.

Ending The Politics of Hate Begins With Us, In The Voting Booth

I woke up early this morning thanks to a nightmare. I, as an adult, was back in my childhood home looking through the front window. Several white men with stern faces and a business-like or zombie-like manner were nailing boards over the windows from the outside. They were nailing in my wife and me. I yelled to my wife that we had to get out—and then awoke.

Afterwards, I lay in bed with the image pressing down on me. In my mind I took the dream further, imagining us grabbing our phones and money, chasing our cats out an upper story window as we followed them out and ran. I imagined the attackers might be planning more than just locking us inside.

Back in the late 1970s I wrote a play that was produced locally. It was indirectly about the JFK assassination, or more accurately, about a woman, Wilma Tice, who was called by the Warren Commission to give testimony related to the assassination. After Wilma heard the President had been shot and was being taken to Parkland Hospital, in Dallas, she drove to the hospital. It was only 15 minutes from her home. When she was there, she saw Jack Ruby walking next to the stretcher that was carrying JFK’s body after it was wheeled inside the hospital.

The Warren Commission inquiry was established about a week after the assassination, on November 29th, 1963. She later wrote to them about what she had seen. But after receiving a letter from the Commission telling her where and when she would give her testimony, she received threatening phone calls and faced tremendous opposition. It was never made clear how anyone learned she was going to testify.

The night before she was supposed to appear before the Commission, she was home alone; her husband worked nights. She woke up to find herself “barricaded” in the house; her windows and doors blockaded shut. She couldn’t get out until her husband came home and broke her out.

When she arrived for the interview, instead of supporting or compelling her testimony, they told her that, if she feared for her life, maybe she should not testify.

The whole image of people locked into a structure by others who hated or wanted to silence them reverberates through history. Consider what happened to Jewish people locked in Synagogues or African-Americans locked in churches that were burned.

When I hear about T’s actions and statements, I feel they themselves are a form of terrorism….

**This blog was submitted before Saturday’s horrible act of terrorism in a Pittsburgh synagogue. This act is truly upsetting and we must meet it with thoughts of compassion for the people hurt and killed, their families, the whole congregation, the police and other first responders.

 

To read the whole post, go to The Good Men Project.