Saturday, January 14, 2017

America's National Nightmare Begins

A piece in the Boston Globe provides a timely summary of where America finds itself less than a week from the inauguration of Donald J. Trump, a possible traitor who may have collaborated with a hostile foreign government to steal the presidential election for himself.  Adding to the cause for fear is Trump's clear intention to disregard the U. S. Constitution and the fact that the Republican controlled Congress could care less.  Rather than facing up to and taking action against the perhaps the greatest threat to the nation since the Civil War, Republicans have one fixation: repealing the Affordable Healthcare Act and depriving millions of Americans of health insurance coverage and triggering a crisis within the health care industry that literally could force hospitals to file for bankruptcy close.  If there is any positive glimmer it is that Trump voters will be disproportionately harmed by the policies of the Republicans they voted into office.  Here are column highlights:
I have spent much of my life reading and writing about American politics, but nothing I’ve seen before has prepared me for what happened this week. Increasingly, it feels as though the country is careening out of control and heading straight off a cliff — and nothing can slow it down.
In the past week, admittedly sketchy allegations emerged that the Russian government might have financial and/or personal information that could be used to blackmail President-elect Trump.
We’ve found out that the Trump campaign may have been in direct contact with the Russian government to throw the election to him. We’ve discovered that the FBI sought and eventually received a FISA warrant to look at phone calls allegedly related to this question.
We found out that the intelligence community found these claims credible enough that they brought them to the attention of both President Obama and Trump.
Information has been leaked that suggests Mike Flynn, Trump’s national security adviser, phoned Russia’s ambassador the United States multiple times on the day that the Obama Administration announced sanctions against Russia for its efforts to undermine the US election.
If evidence emerges of collusion between Trump’s advisers and the Russian government, it would represent a potential constitutional crisis. That we are a week away from Trump’s inauguration and we don’t know the truth behind these allegations is terrifying.
As if this isn’t bad enough, we are also a week away from what will unambiguously be a constitutional crisis — namely Trump’s refusal to disentangle himself from his various business enterprises. It’s not an exaggeration to say that at the moment Trump takes the oath of office, he will be in violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which bans the president from taking gifts or payments from a foreign entity or individual. Since Trump does not believe that conflict of interest laws apply to him at all and that he’s under no obligation to ensure that he is not profiting from being president, he will take office under an ethical cloud that we’ve never seen in the 240-year history of the United States.
 Republicans in Congress are too busy pushing forward with a plan to repeal Obamacare and in the process, take health insurance away from 20-30 million Americans. They are doing this with minimal debate and with no effort to engage Democrats, the American people, or those who are at risk of losing insurance coverage. Worst of all, there is zero indication that Republicans fully appreciate the potentially catastrophic consequences of what they are preparing to do.
Meanwhile, the president-elect is giving press conferences in which he is bashing the news media for reporting stories he doesn’t like and branding it, falsely, as fake news. 
Taken all together, this confluence of events represents perhaps the most profound political crisis that this country has faced since Watergate. We have a president-elect fully prepared to violate the Constitution. We have allegations that his advisers might have worked directly with a foreign government to win the presidential election and who could also, potentially, be blackmailed by that same government. We have a Congress indifferent to these potential crises and focused instead on repealing legislation that will literally cause the premature deaths of thousands of Americans.
It’s almost hard to take all of this in. It’s a disorienting and surreal moment in our history and the worst part is that last week might have represented the calm before the true storm.

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