Thursday, July 19, 2018
A persistent question is why working class and ow income whites continue to vote Republican when the GOP agenda is decidedly against their own best economic interests. The answer, sadly, can be summarized in one word: racism. This same racism is what propelled Donald Trump to the White House even though he lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes. The phenomenon is akin to what my ahead of her time New Orleans belle grandmother said about poor whites: they needed blacks to be inferior to them to assure that they were not the lowest in the social pecking order. The Civil Rights movement ended much of the ability of these whites to openly discriminate, so now they shortsightedly vote for Republicans who want to slash the social safety net because in their warped minds, it will keep blacks and other non-whites subordinate to them. Meanwhile, they are the ones benefiting the most from the targeted programs. It's idiocy, but that is what defines the Trump base in general, racists and seemingly low intellect. A lengthy column in the New York Times looks at the phenomenon. Here are highlights:
One question that has troubled Democrats for decades is freshly relevant in the Trump-McConnell era: Why do so many voters support elected officials who are determined to cut programs that those same voters rely upon? Take Kentucky, which has a median household income that ranks 45th out of the 50 states.Over the past half century, residents of Kentucky have become steadily more reliant on the federal government. In the 1970s, federal programs provided slightly under 10 percent of personal income for Kentucky residents; by 2015, money from programs ranging from welfare and Medicaid to Social Security and Medicare more than doubled to 23 percent as a share of Kentuckians’ personal income.
Twenty years ago, there was only one county (out of 120) in which residents counted on the federal government for at least 40 percent of their personal income. By 2014, 28 counties were at 40 percent or higher. But as their claims on federal dollars rose, the state’s voters became increasingly conservative. In the 1990s, they began to elect hard right, anti-government politicians determined to cut the programs their constituents were coming to lean on.
Suzanne Mettler, a professor of government at Cornell, describes these developments — which can be found in states across the South, the Mountain West and the Midwest — in her new book, “The Government-Citizen Disconnect.”
Mettler gives the example of the Republican congressman Andy Barr, who “represents the Sixth District, which includes McCreary and Wolfe Counties. In both counties, 52 percent of income — approximately $12,000 per resident — flows from federal social policies.”
In the adjoining Fourth District, Representative Thomas Massie, also a Republican, “resides in Lewis County, in which 43 percent of income comes from federal government transfers.” Massie, Mettler notes, “stridently opposes social welfare spending, having been among the group of Republicans who forced the end of the long tradition of bipartisan cooperation on the farm bill in 2013 because they opposed its inclusion of the food stamp program.”
There is, however, one thread that runs through all the explanations of the shift to the right in Kentucky and elsewhere.
Race, the economists Alberto F. Alesina and Paola Giuliano write “is an extremely important determinant of preferences for redistribution. When the poor are disproportionately concentrated in a racial minority, the majority, ceteris paribus, prefer less redistribution.”
Alesina and Giuliano reach this conclusion based on the “unpleasant but nevertheless widely observed fact that individuals are more generous toward others who are similar to them racially, ethnically, linguistically.”
In their 2004 book, “Fighting Poverty in the U.S. and Europe: A World of Difference,” Alesina and Edward L. Glaeser, an economist at Harvard, found a pronounced pattern in this country: states “with more African-Americans are less generous to the poor.”
This pattern continues today. The states with the lowest ceiling on maximum grants in the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program (which replaced traditional welfare in 1996) are in the region with the highest percentages of African-Americans, the South, and are overwhelmingly represented at the state and federal level by conservative Republicans.
Let’s start with a concept known as “last place aversion.” In a paper by that name, Ilyana Kuziemko, an economist at Princeton, Taly Reich, a professor of marketing at Yale, and Ryan W. Buell and Michael I. Norton, both at Harvard Business School, describe the phenomenon in which relatively low income individuals “oppose redistribution because they fear it might differentially help a ‘last-place’ group to whom they can currently feel superior.” Those thus positioned “exhibit a particular aversion to being in last place, such that a potential drop in rank creates the greatest disutility for those already near the bottom of the distribution.”
Among the findings of this group of researchers: people “making just above the minimum wage are the most likely to oppose its increase.”
Applying last-place aversion theory to means-tested federal programs for the poor reveals that the group most likely to voice opposition is made up of relatively poor whites right above the cutoff level to qualify for such programs.
Even more important than “last place aversion,” though, is the issue of what we might call deservingness: white Americans, more than citizens of other nations, distinguish between those they view as the deserving and the undeserving poor and they are much more willing to support aid for those they see as deserving: themselves.
“Americans believe that the poor are lazy; Europeans believe the poor are unfortunate,” report Alesina and Glaeser. . . . This distinction often translates into a differentiation between poor whites and poor minorities.
Among white respondents, the differences in the responses were striking: More than half, 58 percent, said average Americans got less than they deserved; 28 percent, however, said that African Americans do not get what they deserve. The difference, Tesler wrote, grows out of a “double standard in deservingness.”
Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s director of the Office of Management and Budget, addressed his view of the division between the deserving and undeserving poor in a column published by the Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C.: For years, we’ve focused on how we can help Americans receive taxpayer-funded assistance. Under President Trump’s leadership, we’re now looking at how we can respect both those who require assistance and the taxpayers who fund that support. For the first time in a long time, we’re putting taxpayers first. Taking money from someone without an intention to pay it back is not debt. It is theft. This budget makes it clear that we will reverse this larceny.
[A] key factor distinguishing counties that moved in a decisively Republican direction in 2016 was not the absolute number of African-Americans or immigrants, but the rate at which minority populations were growing.
The broader reality is that the Civil Rights revolution of the 1960s unleashed both progress and a backlash that continues to resonate in American politics five decades later. This backlash is in many ways more insidious than the blatant discrimination of the past and potentially more dangerous. It is an object of constant political anxiety for the left and continuous, concerted, calculated manipulation by the right, made more overt by [Trump]
the president of the United States, who has dispensed with the dog whistle and picked up a bullhorn.
|Franklin Graham with Putin.|
One of the tactics that Vladimir Putin has used to maintain power has been to bend over backwards to endear himself to the reactionary Russian Orthodox Church which has a centuries long history of supporting autocrats over democracy. Not surprisingly, Putin's U.S. asset, Donald Trump, followed a similar course and met with a who's who of right wing Christian extremists all the way back in June of 2016 where Trump promised these elements the moon - ending abortion, rescinding gay rights, ending political campaign restrictions on churches, and license to discriminate laws cloaked under the smoke screen of "religious liberty." Like their Russia counterparts, the Christofascists have closed their eyes to Trumps utter immorality and seemingly will support any foul thing he does. Now, it has come out that Putin wasn't content with Trump's efforts to win Christofascist and evangelical Christian support (the two are often synonymous). He also had indicted Russian spy, Maria Butina working on direct influence on leading Christian extremist groups. A piece in New York Magazine looks at this development. Here are excerpts:
The more we learn about freshly indicted Russian spy suspect Maria Butina, the stranger the 29-year-old Siberian woman’s story becomes. As Eric Levitz explained earlier this week, Butina has had some extracurricular activities that are unusual for a grad student, which is supposedly why she was in the United States to begin with: Previous reporting has suggested that this woman, 29-year-old American University graduate student Maria Butina, tried to broker two separate secret meetings between Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin during the 2016 campaign.Her apparent associate (or perhaps dupe) in her intelligence operations was U.S. “political operative” Paul Erickson, who was 30 years older than Butina but reportedly lived with her. He’s had his own colorful pre-espionage career, which included Pat Buchanan’s 1992 presidential campaign and a stint as “media advisor” to John Wayne Bobbitt, the man whose wife Lorena famously dis-membered him.
In any event, Erickson had lots of useful contacts among U.S. gun activists that Butina, who led a gun-rights group back in Russia, was able to exploit very successfully. Her apparent boss, Russian pol (and Putin ally) Alexander Torshin, attended multiple NRA conventions, and Erickson reportedly hooked him up with Donald Trump Jr. at the 2016 event. He also sought to set up a meeting for Torshin with the mogul himself around that same time.
Butina also took advantage of Erickson’s links with the Christian right, as Slate’s Ruth Graham reports, though Torshin had his own relationships in that universe, having attended multiple National Prayer Breakfasts. In 2016, according to a timeline compiled by the Washington Post, Butina emailed a Prayer Breakfast organizer to suggest that Putin might attend the following year. That didn’t happen, but she and Torshin attended.
Earlier, in 2015, Butina and Erickson also appeared on the radio show of conservative evangelical superstar (and big-time Trump promoter) Eric Metaxas to discuss gun rights and religious freedom — topics that are strangely congruent in the conservative Christian circles in which all these birds flew.
The affection with which many Christian right figures hold Russia and specifically the gay-bashing Putin is hardly a secret, as I noted in 2016: [Putin’s evangelical fan club] includes some pretty big names, like conservative Evangelical leader Franklin Graham, National Organization for Marriage leader Brian Brown, and American Family Association spokesperson Bryan Fischer. In almost every case it has been his distinctive combination of homophobia and Islamophobia that has made Putin one of the Christian right’s favorite international figures.
So there is a U.S. religious constituency that very self-consciously supports Trump’s apparent interest in forming a new world order based on a Washington-Moscow axis, outflanking the decadent, secular, tolerant globalists of Western Europe.
One of the latest tidbits about the rather unusual relationship of Butina and Erickson emerged today in a memorandum from prosecutors asking that she be held without bail, as NBC News reports: In arguing that Butina is a flight risk, prosecutors said her only tie to the U.S. is a “personal relationship” with an unidentified man — which is branded “duplicitous,” suggesting she was using him for her own means. According to The Washington Post, the man’s description matches that of Republican operative Paul Erickson.
“Butina appears to treat it as simply a necessary aspect of her activities,” the memo says. . . . . in papers seized by the FBI, Butina complained about living with U.S. Person 1 and expressed disdain for continuing to cohabitate with U.S. Person 1.”
Yikes. Erickson’s continued freedom may depend on him playing the role of a deceived and spurned lover rather than a collaborator of a foreign spy.
One of the biggest lies - although, there are so many lies, that ranking can be challenging - disseminated by Christofascists and many evangelical Christians is that sexual orientation is a "choice" and that gays can "change" and become heterosexual. As noted in a number of previous posts, there are several reasons for the insistence that sexual orientation is a choice: (i) if being gay is not a choice and is "how God made" some of us, then questions arise as to what other aspects of evangelical Christian dogma is untrue; (ii) the choice myth is employed repeatedly to argue that LGBT citizens need no non-discrimination protections, and (iii) so-called conversion therapy "ministries" are cash cows with families often paying small fortunes to "change" their children. Every legitimate medical and mental health association in America condemns conversion therapy and states that it doesn't work and is dangerous. Indeed, a growing number of states ban the practice on minors by licensed therapist. The result is more fraudulent, dangerous and damaging "Christian ministries" peddling the ex-gay myth. Now, as Rolling Stone reports a new movie, Boy Erased, starring Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman will be released in November, 2018 (a trailer can be found here). The movie is based on a 2016 book of the same name and will likely paint a very negative picture of the frauds and harm being committed by these "ministries." This from Rolling Stone:
Boy Erased stars Hedges as Garrard, while Kidman plays his mother and Crowe his father, who also happens to be a Baptist pastor. The trailer offers a glimpse into the psychological and sometimes physical abuse such conversion programs inflict on those forced to attend. . . . The film is based on Garrard Conley’s 2016 memoir of the same name about his experience at a gay conversion therapy program, which he attended at 19 at the behest of his religious parents.
A piece in the Washington Post looked at the book upon which the movie is based. Here are highlights:
In 2004, when Garrard Conley was 19, he entered a Christian fundamentalist program, Love in Action, to cleanse himself of homosexuality.
Conley, the only child of his devoutly Baptist parents in small-town Arkansas, had been dramatically outed by a fellow student during his first semester at a small liberal arts college. The timing couldn’t have been worse. His decision to enter the fundamentalist group (known as LIA) came as his father was becoming an ordained Baptist minister.
[A]although he paints a convincing picture of why the foundation of his loving parents’ religious faith made his fight against homosexuality vital, he leaves the reader wondering why an erudite and intellectually curious young man didn’t find more cracks in that foundation.
He does find cracks in the foundation of LIA, which uses a warped version of a 12-step program that replaces addictive behavior such as alcoholism with “sexual deviance,” lumping homosexuality with bestiality and pedophilia.
Conley’s close relationship with his mother, who sits vigil with him in a depressing hotel room as he tries to weather the ordeal of LIA, is a tender portrait of that special bond so many gay men and their mothers have: “For the moment, it seemed like the two of us could go on this way forever, living only for literature and each other.” As for Conley’s father, he remains abstruse, despite Conley’s explorations of his abusive childhood. Ultimately their paths diverge. His father is ordained, and Conley rejects LIA.
Parents contemplating placing their child in one of these "ministries" or listening to they false propaganda would be better served - if they truly love their child and are not more focused on themselves and "what will people think" - to find a new religious denomination. One that is not homophobic and obsessed with selectively cherry picking phrases from the Old Testament to malign and denigrate others.“God’s voice is no longer there,” Conley writes. “My ex-gay therapists took Him away from me, and no matter how many different churches I attend, I will feel the same dead weight in my chest.” God erased. Let’s hope that the parents still reading “Where Does a Mother Go to Resign?” start reading “Boy Erased” instead.
For the record, I was never placed in a "ex-gay ministry" although I tried more or less for 37 years to pray away the gay and tried some of the conversion therapy gimmicks. None of it worked. All I experience was self-hate and psychological and emotional harm that ultimately lead to two serious suicide attempts. The propaganda that these ministries peddle is very, very dangerous.
Kudos to Kidman and Crowe for taking these roles and hopefully exposing the "change myth" lie.
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
While Donald Trump is making the ridiculous claim that he "misspoke" during his joint news conference with his apparent handler, Vladimir Putin, his actions since January, 2017, and before, underscore that there is a basis for saying that Trump is guilty of treason and should suffer all of the legal consequences. The same may hold for a number of his GOP enablers depending on their levels of knowledge - Mitch McConnell immediately comes to mind. A piece in the Boston Globe lays out the argument - an argument that should have true American patriots demanding that Congressional Republicans cease their complicity in Trump's misdeeds. Here are excerpts:
Following the 2016 presidential election, a specter of treason was hovering over Donald Trump because of his response to the mounting evidence that the Russians had intervened to help elect him.
As the president-elect entered the White House, he summarily rejected the conclusion of US intelligence agencies that Russia had engaged in cyberwarfare against the US elections. He worked to block investigations into Russia’s actions. Trump advisers and associates had extensive political and business dealings with the Russian government before and during the 2016 presidential campaign. While there has not been any direct evidence that [Trump]
the president-electwas involved in the Russian government’s actions, circumstances suggested that individuals or groups close to [Trump] the presidentcould have aided or known about the Russian meddling.
According to the law, the federal crime of treason is committed by a person “owing allegiance to the United States who . . . adheres to their enemies, giving them aid or comfort.” Misprision (abetting) of treason is committed if a person “having knowledge of the commission of treason conceals and does not disclose” the crime.
Today the evidence of Russian cyberattacks against the US democratic process is overwhelming. On July 13, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, a Trump appointee and former Republican senator, stated that “the warning lights are blinking red again,” as they were before the 9/11 attacks, and that “the digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack.” This high-level warning came on the same day Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced that 12 Russian agents had been indicted for hacking Democratic officials in the 2016 elections by a federal grand jury convened by special counsel Robert Mueller. The Russian attacks began the day after Trump had openly encouraged Russia to hack the e-mails of his opponent.
In response to the indictments of Russian agents last week, Trump declined to condemn the cyberattacks, nor did he indicate that he would to defend the country against them. Instead, the White House claimed that the Russian indictments exonerated the president because no Americans were accused of collusion. In the special counsel’s probe, however, four Trump campaign officials have already been charged with criminal conduct relating to the Russian cyberoffensive.
Trump’s pre-summit comments implied that he would not use the tools of diplomacy, law, or military technology to defend the United States against continuing Russian cyberattacks. If true, this would be tantamount to giving aid and comfort to an enemy.
Three points are being advanced to dismiss using the treason argument.
First, American liberals claim that charging Trump with treason will only play into the hands of his base, which believes that Trump is the victim of a conspiracy by the “deep state” to derail his presidency. This is shortsighted. Trump’s actions are a reflection of weakness in the face of grave threats to US security, the opposite of what one would have expected from a champion of “America First” like Ronald Reagan.
The second argument is that the United States has a history of meddling in foreign politics. This is true. But it does not diminish the need to respond decisively to the grave threat to US national security when a foreign power disrupts our democratic process. Trump continues to dismiss the intervention, encouraging its continuation by doing nothing to defend the country against it.
Third, it’s worthwhile to try to improve relations with an adversary. True enough, but not at the expense of US national security. [Trump's]
The president’shostility to the US investigation of Russian cyberattacks, his failure to impose a cost on Russia for the attacks, his denigration of US alliances, and his eagerness to have “an extraordinary relationship” with the Russian leader all point toward giving aid and comfort to an enemy.
One of the reasons for America's sky high health care costs is the daily gauging of consumers by large pharmaceutical companies. Americans pay in some cases, thousands of times more for crucial drugs that cost a relative pittance in other countries. A prime example is Truvada, the brand name for a type of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, which is up to 99 percent effective at preventing HIV infection. The cost in America? Thanks to the monopoly of Gilead Sciences, over $20,000 per year, far outside the reach of even many affluent individuals even with insurance (assuming carriers do not deny coverage). The cost elsewhere? In other countries, a one-month supply of generic Truvada costs less than $6.00. If widely administered, PrEP could largely eliminate HIV/AIDS in America. But just like the opioid manufacturers behind the crisis in many parts of America, money is Gilead Science's god. Human lives mean little. A piece in the New York Times looks at this shocking example of corporate greed. Here are excerpts:
On July 3, 1981, this newspaper wrote about a “rare cancer” killing gay men in New York and California. . . . Today, after 37 years, we finally have a proven pathway to ending the AIDS epidemic in this country.
The only catch? Poor policy and pharmaceutical price-gouging have blocked the way, making critical drugs a luxury rather than an imperative.
The solution comes in a pill: Taken daily, Truvada, the brand name for a type of pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is up to 99 percent effective at preventing H.I.V. infection; it also lowers the amount of H.I.V. circulating in infected patients' blood streams. Used as directed, it’s one of the most effective methods of preventing a viral infection ever discovered, as good as the polio vaccine, the miracle of modern medicine. When you combine that protection with the discovery that people with H.I.V. cannot transmit the virus to others once Truvada has suppressed it to undetectable levels, we could be on the verge of a swift end to the epidemic.
Truvada was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2012. But over six years later, the United States is failing miserably in expanding its use. Less than 10 percent of the 1.2 million Americans who might benefit from PrEP are actually getting it. The major reason is quite clear: pricing. With a list price over $20,000 a year, Truvada, the only PrEP drug available in the United States, is simply too expensive to become the public health tool it should be.
Gilead Sciences, the company that makes Truvada, maintains a monopoly on the drug domestically. In other countries, a one-month supply of generic Truvada costs less than $6, but Gilead charges Americans, on average, more than $1,600, a markup from the generic of 25,000 percent.
Infuriatingly, American taxpayers and private charities — not Gilead — paid for almost all of the clinical research used to develop Truvada as PrEP. Yet the price stays out of reach for millions, and will for at least several more years.
The disparities in PrEP access are astounding: Its use in black and Hispanic populations is a small fraction of that among whites. In the South, where a majority of H.I.V. infections occur, use is half what it is in the Northeast. Women use PrEP at drastically lower rates than men . . .
The ability of PrEP to greatly reduce new H.I.V. infections is no longer in question. In New South Wales, Australia, a program providing free access to PrEP led to a drop in H.I.V. diagnoses in the most vulnerable communities by a third in just six months, one of the fastest declines recorded since the global AIDS crisis began.
So how can we import such progress into the United States? Faced with more than half a decade of inaction by the federal government, activists have developed their own national strategy to begin the end of the H.I.V. epidemic. At the International AIDS Conference later this month, our organization, the PrEP4All Collaboration, will release its plan for a national PrEP program to ensure all Americans who need PrEP can get it.
A critical component of this plan is insisting that federal agencies use their statutory authority to break Gilead’s undeserved monopoly. With low-price, generic Truvada, the cost to cover every American who needs PrEP — including both drug costs and clinical care — would be less than a tenth the amount that the federal government already spends on H.I.V. care. The billions saved could pay for vital services to ensure those who need PrEP the most can get it and those living with H.I.V. can keep the virus suppressed. If the patent on Truvada remains, the plan will cost over $20 billion.
Science has delivered answers, but Gilead’s greed and the government’s inaction are keeping it from those who need it most. There’s a pill that stops H.I.V. We can make it possible for everyone who needs that pill to get it.
Gilead's greed is replicated across the medical spectrum and is a prime reason why Americans pay far, far more for healthcare than in any other nation in the world. We need a single payer system with government negotiation of drug prices.
Both Donald Trump and Mike Pence took oaths to defend and protect the U.S. Constitution and America. In Pence's case, that oath did not include an oath to blindly follow Trump's lead even when Trump colludes with Vladimir Putin and, basically commits treason. Despite his sworn oath, Pence - who postures as a Bible believing Christian who ought to take a sworn oath seriously - Pence remains Trump's water carrier and repeats Trump's lies. A column in the Washington Post focuses on Pence's hypocrisy and, in my view, just how untrustworthy and duplicitous Pence is in fact. Here are column highlights:
The best film ever done on the Trump administration is called “The Death of Stalin.” It is a dark but wholly brilliant comedy about how Stalin’s closest henchmen maneuvered for power in the days after the death of their publicly revered but actually despised leader. The only one missing from this movie is Vice President Pence.
With the possible exception of Lavrenti Beria, Stalin’s homicidal head of the secret police, Pence could play all the other parts. He has just the proper attitude toward President Trump — fawning and patently hypocritical. Like Stalin’s closest aides, he knows his master is a dolt who cannot abide criticism. In Stalin’s case, criticism could be rebutted with a bullet. Trump is more tempered. He merely fires the person.
Following Trump’s fiasco in Helsinki — following, that is, Trump’s praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his criticism of his own FBI, following the creation of what seems like a modern-day axis of Putin and Trump, following body language from Trump toward Putin that might have made Melania Trump jealous — Pence came to the president’s defense.
But that loyalty has to be totally synthetic, no deeper than Stalin’s henchmen toward the old Soviet dictator. They were careerists, looking to succeed the old man or merely to stay alive. Pence is no different. His core identity, he has said, is as a Christian. No one in his or her right mind can say the same for Trump.[S]ome time ago, I concluded that Trump is crazy. I use the word loosely, but accurately, since his behavior is often bizarre and his language is, shall we say, eccentric. Throughout his life, he has conducted himself in a squalid and dishonest fashion. He is completely incapable of sticking to the truth.Not so Pence. He has come to represent all the Trump enablers. He now personifies much of the Republican Party, which is either so enthralled by Trump or so intimidated by him that it offers nothing but fealty. Republicans will say almost anything in Trump’s defense, piping up only when some debacle cannot be sidestepped. The separation of migrant families was one example. The Helsinki fiasco is another.
But this moment will pass. Pence has shown the way. He got on the Trump bandwagon early, and he is not getting off. He will ride it, he hopes, into the White House. His hypocrisy, his utter lack of political character and his bland vacuity have come to represent the Republican Party itself.
In “The Death of Stalin,” the functional Pence is played by the marvelous Steve Buscemi as Nikita Khrushchev. He outmaneuvered the others to become the Soviet leader — and then denounced Stalin. Watch it, Donald.
America is facing this generation's version of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and the terror attack on 9-11-2001. For the first time in America's history, the occupant of the White House is supporting a foreign enemy power rather than the interest and people of America. In 1941 and in 2001, the then presidents of the United States took prompt and immediate action to defend against the attack by hostile anti-American elements. Since taking occupancy of the White House, Trump has done NOTHING to respond properly to Russia's 2016 cyber-attack and election interference. Worse yet, Trump has attacked and sought to alienate America's long time allies as he played submissive whore to Vladimir Putin. A piece in Politico looks at this stark failure to counter an enemy while another in The Atlantic looks at the crisis facing genuinely patriotic Americans (which by definition, excludes Trump supporting Republicans). Here are excerpts from Politico:
On December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy launched a surprise conventional attack against the U.S. Pacific Fleet moored at Pearl Harbor. The Japanese operation was part of a larger strategy: cripple the United States — in capability, naval manpower and mentality — so that we would be prevented from interfering as Japan continued military operations throughout Southeast Asia. Almost 3,500 Americans were killed or wounded; eight U.S. battleships were damaged and four were sunk; and more than 300 aircraft were damaged or destroyed. To this day, the wreckage of the USS Arizona is a monument to loss of life and totality of destruction. The attack happened without a declaration of war and without explicit warning, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt responded the next day.
On September 11, 2001, the Islamist terrorist group Al Qaeda conducted four coordinated unconventional attacks against our nation. Its leader, Osama bin Laden, chose targets linked to the U.S. government and American economic power as part of his larger strategy: bring “holy war” to the American homeland for what bin Laden alleged were aggressions against Muslims in the Middle East. Nearly 3,000 people were killed and more than 6,000 injured in attacks that caused at least $10 billion in damages. The memorials in Manhattan, at the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, remind us of the loss and of the hollowness we felt watching the Twin Towers fall. The attack happened without a declaration of war and without explicit warning, and President George W. Bush responded the next day.
[B]oth attacks were earth-shaking events that forced a forward leap in our strategic thinking about the defense of the American homeland and the projection of American power. As the smoke still rose over the wreckage of our fleet, and as the dust settled over Manhattan and the Pentagon, we went to war. We acted because Japan and Al Qaeda had underestimated us.
In 2016, our country was targeted by an attack that had different operational objectives and a different overarching strategy, but its aim was every bit as much to devastate the American homeland as Pearl Harbor or 9/11. The destruction may not send pillars of smoke into the sky or come with an 11-digit price tag, and there’s no body count or casualty statistics—but the damage done has ravaged our institutions and shaken our belief in our immovability. But two years on, we still haven’t put any boats or men in the proverbial water. We still have not yet acted—just today, President Donald Trump, a beneficiary of this attack, exonerated the man who ordered it: Russian strongman Vladimir Putin.
Piece by piece, name by name, one operational detail after the next, special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has documented that the Russian attack on the American homeland and the American people was every inch as organized, expansive, penetrating and daring as that Japanese run on our fleet or bin Laden’s plan to use civilian airliners as weapons.
So where are the air-raid sirens and the calls to arms from those who vow to protect and defend our Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic? Last week, as Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein released Mueller’s latest indictment of the 12 Russian intelligence officers, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats was also testifying on Capitol Hill. “The warning lights are blinking red,” he said. The risk of a “crippling cyberattack on our critical infrastructure” by a foreign adversary was increasing, he added. Coats named Russia as the most aggressive threat, saying: “The digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack.” Not in 2016. Now. It’s happening all over again.
For now, our [Republican] civilian leadership is shrugging this off, even acquiescing, which leaves every individual to defend themselves against the assault of information levied by a foreign attacker. This should not be the way we defend our people and our homeland. This is our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11. In the past, we have risen to the defense of our values, our ideologies and our institutions. It’s time for another fight. The ball — as Putin said — is in our court.
The piece in The Atlantic likewise faces the dire threat posed by Russia and Donald Trump and his lap dog, Mike Pence. Moreover, it calls for action now to rein in or remove Trump. The author? A former Republican who puts country and morality above party. Here are excerpts:
We still do not know what hold Vladimir Putin has on Donald Trump, but the whole world has now witnessed the power of its grip.
Russia helped Donald Trump into the presidency, as Robert Mueller’s indictment vividly details. Putin, in his own voice, has confirmed that he wanted Trump elected. Standing alongside his benefactor, Trump denounced the special counsel investigating Russian intervention in the U.S. election—and even repudiated his own intelligence appointees.
This is an unprecedented situation, but not an uncontemplated one. At the 1787 convention in Philadelphia, the authors of the Constitution worried a great deal about foreign potentates corrupting the American presidency.
When Gouverneur Morris famously changed his mind in favor of an impeachment clause, he explained his new point of view by invoking a situation very similar to the one now facing the United States: Our Executive was not like a Magistrate having a life interest, much less like one having an hereditary interest in his office. He may be bribed by a greater interest to betray his trust; and no one would say that we ought to expose ourselves to the danger of seeing the first Magistrate in foreign pay without being able to guard [against] it by displacing him.
The reasons for Trump’s striking behavior—whether he was bribed or blackmailed or something else—remain to be ascertained. That he has publicly refused to defend his country’s independent electoral process—and did so jointly with the foreign dictator who perverted that process—is video-recorded fact.
And it’s a fact that has to be seen in the larger context of his actions in office: denouncing the European Union as a “foe,” threatening to break up NATO, wrecking the U.S.-led world trading system, intervening in both U.K. and German politics in support of extremist and pro-Russian forces, and continually refusing to act to protect the integrity of U.S. voting systems—it all adds up to a political indictment, whether or not it quite qualifies as a criminal one.
[C]onfronting the country in the wake of Helsinki is this question: Can it afford to wait to ascertain why Trump has subordinated himself to Putin after the president has so abjectly demonstrated that he has subordinated himself? Robert Mueller is leading a legal process. The United States faces a national-security emergency.