Archive for the 'US' Category

A new Declaration of Independence

In the Declaration of Independence, the Founding Fathers enumerated 27 abuses by King George III against the people of the colonies. It is interesting how many of those very same transgressions can be laid at the feet of the current administration in the White House and of the Republican Party in general. The text in italics is directly from the transcript of Declaration of Independence at the web site of the National Archives.

 

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

In fairness, Trump has not yet vetoed wholesome and necessary laws, but only because the Republican Congress has not enacted any.

 

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

Republican-led grid lock is widespread in those state legislatures not under GOP control.

 

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

The GOP has been adamant that undocumented immigrants be denied any representation in local governments.

 

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

Keeping Congress in Washington during the heat and humidity of August can only be described as cruel.

 

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

Although this is not directly applicable to the current situation, the failure of the Trump administration to fill hundreds of key government positions clearly is an abuse.

 

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

Trump’s animus toward immigrants is well known.

 

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

Neil Gorsuch.

 

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

Neil Gorsuch.

 

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

Commission on Electoral Integrity, aka the Kobach Commission.

 

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

American police today dress and act like an occupying military force.

 

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

Secretary of Defense General James N. Mattis, Secretary of Homeland Security General John F. Kelly, White House Chief of Staff General H. R. McMaster.

 

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

Police routinely get away with murdering civilians, mostly in Republican-led states.

 

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

Trump opposes NAFTA, TPP, and international trade in general except, of course, when it benefits him or his family.

 

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

The perfect description of a Trump rally.

 

Maybe it is time for the citizens of these United States to declare our independence of Republican abuse of our rights and institutions for these are surely “times that try men’s souls.”

The great American reset

It now appears all but certain that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and may well have even altered vote counts to put Donald Trump in the White House. Perhaps even more alarming is the emerging evidence that Russian intelligence had been grooming Trump to become president since at least 2015 and quite likely some years earlier, a possibility I discussed in a post last February, Agent Trump. There is no question that Trump was aided immeasurably through the primaries and the general election by a well-fed right-wing propaganda machine. Still, for a political novice to win the nomination over a field that included three sitting Governors, six former Governors, four sitting Senators, and one former Senator is unprecedented. And for a candidate to win the election against an opponent who on the eve of the election led in national polls by three percentage point and who was judged to have an 84% chance of winning is mind-boggling. The fact that Mr. Trump won by small margins in a relatively small number of precincts he was not expected to win fuels speculation of vote-tampering. So too does the confirmed Russian hacking of election systems in 39 states. The oft-expressed claim by the GOP that those hacks only targeted voter registration records is simply ludicrous. The outlines of an illegitimate election are clear.

The wheels of American justice turn slowly, especially when the Party that controls both Houses of Congress has a vested interest in gumming up the works. And while there are mechanisms for dealing with violations of election laws and a process for removing a President guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors, whatever those might be, there is no Constitutional provision for dealing with a fraudulent election. Some might suggest that the 25th Amendment could be invoked but if the election was tainted, so too is the entire chain of succession provided for in that Amendment. Rather, I propose the following:

The Democratic National Committee and other interested parties bring suit against the Federal Election Commission challenging the legitimacy of the election. The matter would go to the Supreme Court which could, if the evidence were compelling, order the results of the election voided and the Trump administration, in its entirely, removed from office. At this point, the House of Representatives could elect an interim president to serve until a new election is held. It is worth nothing that nothing in the Constitution requires a popular vote for the President. Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution provides that each state choose Electors by whatever means its legislature directs. For that matter, nothing in the Constitution requires that the Electors from each state vote unanimously or that their votes reflect the results of the election. Assuming that having the interim President serve until 2021 is not desirable, that leaves several possibilities.

1)     The Electoral College empaneled in 2016 could be reconvened to elect a new president and vice president to serve out the term. This has the advantage of being quick. However, the legitimacy of Electors chosen in a fraudulent election could be in doubt.

2)     The states could be directed to appoint a new College of Electors to elect a new president and vice president to serve out the term. Again, this could be done fairly quickly. However, the direct selection of the Electoral College by the state legislatures, while Constitutional, would be unprecedented and almost certainly controversial.  

3)      A new presidential election could be scheduled for 2018. This is the option I call The Great American Reset. Henceforth presidential elections would be held on even-numbered years not divisible by four.

After that, when the disaster of the Trump election is behind us, perhaps the Congress will see fit to propose a Constitutional Amendment reforming our badly flawed system for electing presidents, a system that is far too easy for a hostile foreign power to subvert. Naturally, I have an opinion of how that system should function, but that is a different post.

Lone wolf or … ?

What makes last week’s shooting of a member of Congress in Alexandria noteworthy is that it was committed by a self-proclaimed liberal, as does its occurring just as the Trump administration is lawyering up to fight criminal charges from obstruction of justice to financial crimes to treason. As a rule, I do not subscribe to conspiracy theories but in light of the increasingly compelling evidence of Russian covert activities in the United States on behalf of Trump and his cronies one cannot dismiss out of hand the possibility that this was just such an action.

Consider the following:

1)     James Hodgkinson’s Facebook page, which I looked at before it was taken down, was plastered with photos of Bernie Sanders, to be sure, but his timeline contained no posts by anyone but him. That alone is unusual, but so is the fact that he appears to have posted only about a comment per month. Someone as rabidly anti-Trump as he is said to have been, would, it seems to me, have been far more outspoken. Does this suggest that the page is fake?

2)     He claimed to have volunteered with the Sanders campaign in Illinois, but a spokesperson for that campaign said that they had no record of him whatsoever.

3)     Then there is the matter of photos. I have seen no dated photos of him more than a couple of weeks old. How likely is a political activist to avoid any photographs during the entire campaign?

4)     Finally, he made a point of asking whether the team practicing there were Democrats or Republicans, yet he had a list of Republican members of Congress whom he would have been expected to recognize.

Granted, none of these curious circumstances prove anything. He might well have been exactly what the media are reporting him to be. Yet, there are enough questions surrounding Mr. Hodgkinson to give one pause.

Saving America

The 2016 election will certainly be remembered as unique in American history. Never before has a U.S. election been so obviously tainted by foreign interference. The actions of  Russian intelligence to help elect their favored candidate is as egregious as that of Allen Dulles’s 1950’s CIA in Iran and elsewhere. Karmic irony aside, there is much to be learned from the events leading up to the November 8th debacle. Much of what went wrong can be laid at the feet of the Founding Fathers who created a muddled electoral system that has not been updated to reflect the changing realities of the America polity. As has unfortunately become the norm, dark money sowed doubt and outright falsehood among the electorate. But the real responsibility for losing a shoo-in election to a totally unqualified autocrat belongs to the inept leadership of the Democratic Party. Although repairing the damage will take decades, the Party needs to take immediate steps to retake the country from the hands of the wealthiest 1% of us who control the current Republican junta.

Unfortunately, there is little prospect that the fundamental flaws in the U.S. electoral system will be addressed anytime soon. People in states like Wyoming, Delaware, and Alaska like having three times the votes of those living in California, Texas, and New York. And it would take a constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College: a steep road indeed. The current primary system is a joke that allows Republicans in the South, through “open” primaries, to select Democratic candidates. Caucuses give extraordinary power to a very small number of voters in insignificant states. (In 2016 caucus turnout was well under 10% while primaries drew about one in three eligible voters.) And the idea that New Hampshire should be a filter for candidates is preposterous. Sadly, we are stuck with this insane, undemocratic system so we need to make the best of it.

If past elections teach us anything, it is that voter turnout is important. Since 2000, overall participation has not varied all that much: in presidential years between 55% and 62% went to the polls, in mid-term elections only around 40% did. However, there is interesting information in the demographic details. In presidential election years 1988 through 2004, turnout among blacks lagged that of whites by 4 to 14 percentage points, with the disparity decreasing over time. When Barack Obama was on the ticket in 2008 and 2012, that disparity reversed with blacks out-participating whites by five points in his first election and by six in his second. In 2016, black turnout dropped back to its historic second place but by only two points. This suggests two things: 1) voter enthusiasm matters and 2) once people start voting, they are more likely to continue to do so.

What does this mean for Democrats? In my opinion, it means stop trying to be Republican-lite. It means appealing to the diversity of voters who make up the Democratic Party. In my mind, there is little doubt that John McCain would have beaten Hillary Clinton in 2008. It is not that Ms. Clinton was a bad candidate, despite the very real right-wing conspiracy arrayed against her; it is that she did not excite the electorate. It is arguable whether Bernie Sanders would have outpolled Donald Trump, but I think it fairly certain that had Ms. Clinton chosen Julian Castro or another Latino as her running mate, she would be president today. Barack Obama was elected by the votes of people who had never seen a reason to vote before. The next Democratic president will ride a similar wave. Although Clinton was the first woman to run as the candidate of a major party, her sex was simply not enough to motivate people to go to the polls. In an ideal world, identity politics would not exist, but this is not an ideal world.

Since 1992, the Democratic Party has been drifting ever farther to the right in pursuit of the mythical “undecided voter.” If the phenomenon of Bernie Sanders says anything, it is that Democrats, especially young ones, want the Party to move back to the left and to champion the ideal of the common good. And this is not a position that has appeal only in the large coastal cities. A century ago, the bulwark of progressivism was solidly in the Midwest. It is a mistake, in my mind, for Democrats to allow evangelical Christians to define rural America. And it is a bigger mistake for us to allow the mean-spirited right wing to define what it means to be a liberal. If one were to listen to them, “liberal” means taxing white people to support lazy black people. Obviously, that is ridiculous. Yet, enough Democrats buy into that trope to shy away from identifying as liberals, preferring to call themselves progressives. Instead, we should be proud to call ourselves champions of freedom, which is what “liberal” means.

The debacle of the Trump presidency has brought the US to a crossroads. Either we liberals get our act together and take back the country from the greedy 1% or we watch our legacy of freedom and democracy crumble into autocracy and fascism. And, no, that is not an exaggeration. In order to restore sanity to the union, Democrats need to take several concrete steps:

1)     Embrace liberalism and European-style democratic socialism. Bernie Sanders proved that this is popular with a wide range of voters

2)     Develop fresh young talent from across the demographic spectrum. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Hillary Clinton, as worthy as they may be, are of my generation, the post-WW II baby boomers. Our time has passed and we need to look to new generation.

3)     Educate voters that mid-term Federal and State elections are as important, and perhaps more important, than the quadrennial presidential contest. State legislatures draw Congressional districts. Taking as many state legislative seats as possible in 2018 and 2020 will determine the balance of power for a decade. The upcoming mid-term election is particularly important because the 116th Congress will quite likely determine whether the corrupt Trump regime will be impeached and removed from office.  

4)     Nominate blacks, Latinos, Asians, and other minorities for office. In 2016, only 45% of Hispanics voted. Latinos make up more than 25% of the eligible electorate in California, Texas, and New Mexico, roughly 20% in Florida, Arizona, and Nevada, and more that 10% in New York, New Jersey, Colorado, Connecticut, and Illinois. Increasing Latino participation in the electoral process to the same level as that among whites and blacks would make Democrats unbeatable.

The big difference between us Democrats and the Republicans, is that we welcome the diversity that is modern America. We need to change our slates of candidates to reflect that. We believe that we are all a community and have a responsibility to look after one another. We must articulate that credo in the face of right wing lies and enthusiastically embrace the democratic socialism that brought the country out of the Great Depression. But most of all, we need to get off our butts and VOTE!

Trump’s coup d’etat

Much of what the Trump administration has done to date makes very little sense when judged against the normal transition from government by one party to that of the other. Unlike previous newcomers to power, they have run roughshod over outgoing political appointees as well as Civil Service professionals. They have reversed Obama initiatives no matter how insignificant and benign. Their legislative agenda are incoherent except in their zeal to roll back anything enacted under the previous administration. Accompanying this mean-spirited and childish behavior is the vicious outbreak of taunting and hate from Trump’s white, lower-class, poorly educated supporters. It is as if an alien power has taken over our country.

Aside from the reality of Russian interference in our election and apparent leverage over the Trump White House there is a more fundamental character to what is happening. The fact is that Trump and his followers do not see the last election as a peaceful Constitutional transfer of power but as a coup d’etat in which white Christian Americans have retaken their country from the clutches of a black Muslim interloper from Kenya, or Hawaii, or some such foreign place. They believe that they have saved the country from a murderous woman hell-bent on killing any who stand in her way. They gloat at having vanquished the hated “libtard snowflakes” and their fake news. The Confederacy has finally triumphed over the “librul” North.

Of course, the only coup was that of the very wealthy over ordinary Americans. The only walls that will be built will be those around Trump golf courses. The only jobs that will become available will be those of poorly paid illegal immigrants whose families are rent asunder; jobs that no American is willing to do. The hated Obamacare will be replaced by nothing but a multi-billion-dollar tax cut for the wealthy and corporations. Far from becoming “great again,” American’s slide from world preeminence, begun under Reagan, will be accelerated as the United States becomes irrelevant on the world stage. Already Trump has alienated our allies and made us the laughing stock of the world. His policies have emboldened North Korea and will almost certainly lead to Iran developing nuclear arms.

I don’t know what will happen. I may well not live to see the US recover from this debacle. I live in fear of a real coup by a military increasingly controlled by dominionist, evangelical officers. While I doubt that the US would even resort to gas ovens, I think that the prospect of concentration camps for enemies of the state is very real. But most of all, I worry about the economic collapse that Trump is so clearly driving the country toward. I fear that the American century is over and the powers of evil have overthrown our democracy. I mourn for the country whose uniform I once wore.

Goose, meet gander

Everyday it is becoming more apparent that Russia interfered in our recent presidential election. As unsettling as that is it is also rather ironic considering that the US has a long and sordid history of doing just that to other countries. A brief review is in order:

Perhaps the most famous example of US interference in another country was the 1953 CIA-engineered coup in Iran that restored the Shah to the brutal Peacock Throne. The animosity that intervention engendered boiled over in 1979 and underlies the tensions between our two countries to this day.

A year later the CIA the overthrew the president of Guatemala and installed the first of a fifty-year line of right-wing dictators. The poverty these despots have allowed to persist continues to play a major role in driving Guatemalans to immigrate illegally to the US. And the malign hand of the US in Central America was not lost on the young Che Guevara who witnessed that coup first hand.

During the same period, the US intervened in the governments of the Philippines and Lebanon, not for the first or last time in either country. And, of course, this was also when the US involvement in Vietnam began as the Eisenhower administration scuttled the scheduled 1955 national referendum in that country. More than 58,000 Americas and perhaps millions of Vietnamese paid for that bit of hubris with their lives.

One of the more notorious examples of US meddling in other nations was the 1973 CIA-backed military coup that took the life of freely elected Chilean president Salvador Allende. It was not until 1993 that some semblance of freedom returned to that country after the death of dictator Augusto Pinochet.

The US predilection for interfering in other countries did not begin in the mid-20th Century. Rather it dates to the early part of the 19th Century with the Mexican War when the United States wrested away a significant part of our southern neighbor. Before that we tried unsuccessfully to seize part of Canada in 1812. But that failure did not stop us from trying to grab part of Pacific Canada in the 1840s.

Sadly, the fact is that the US has been the most expansionist, interventionist country in the world almost since our inception. Perhaps getting a small taste or our own medicine from the Russians will, when dust inevitably settles, cause us to reevaluate our place in the world. Even more sadly, it is impossible to see that happening any time soon.

Agent Trump

Let me begin by noting that I was a Russian linguist in the US Air Force and so I am quite sure that I know more about Russia and Russians than do most Americans. I am also an avid reader of history, so I believe I know more than many about the Cold War and the arms race. That background has led me to the conclusion that the Russians are not, and never have been, the threat to the United States that our leaders have led us to believe.

Russian behavior before, during, and since the Cold War has been entirely consistent with their thousand-year history of authoritarian rule, a national inferiority complex vis-à-vis the West, and a strong culture of religious or ideological mysticism. Post-World War II Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe was not about communism; it was about fear of Western invasion. By the late 1980s, the Soviets finally came close to achieving strategic parity with the US but the enormous cost of doing so bankrupted the country leading to its economic and political collapse in 1991. Since then post-Soviet Russia has watched as its western buffer crumbled and NATO advanced to the borders of the motherland. Perhaps the last straw was the defection of Ukraine to the West. German troops were again, figuratively and in some cases literally, on Russia’s doorstep. Besides symbolically taking back Crimea, which Ukrainian-born Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev had ceded to Ukraine in the 1950s, there was little they could do about it.

Throughout the Cold War, the US was two steps ahead of the Soviets in the arms race. Despite the few areas in which they had technical superiority over the US—rocket engine design, for example (current US Atlas V and Delta 4 launchers use Russian-designed engines)—they never had a qualitative military lead over the US and their quantitative superiority in tanks, troops, and nuclear warheads was never sufficient to give them an edge. Perhaps the most ironic incident I recall was the panicky announcement by the Nixon administration that the US was in grave danger because the Soviet Union had tested their first missile with multiple independently-guide reentry vehicles (MIRV). That very same week the US Minuteman III carrying MIRVs became operational. The Cold War was, and its chilly aftermath remains, more about the profits of the US military industrial complex than about defending the United States against a marauding USSR.

There is one field, however, in which the Russians are the best in the world: human intelligence. They cannot come close to the technical prowess of the National Security Agency or the National Reconnaissance Office but when it comes to developing and exploiting human spies, they have no peers. Which brings me to the real point of this piece: Russian infiltration of the 2016 US election with the aim of accomplishing through subterfuge what they could not do militarily: roll back NATO from their western frontier.

Like any good undercover operation, the compromise of the US 2016 election was developed over a long period. The first thing the Russians did was to identify individuals who could be recruited, knowingly or unwittingly. As Malcolm Nance details in The Plot to Hack America: How Putin’s Cyberspies and WikiLeaks Tried to Steal the 2016 Election (New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2016), Russian spymasters look for certain character weaknesses that they can exploit to turn a person into an asset: avarice, cupidity, and narcissism. One person fits that profile perfectly: Donald J. Trump.

Just when the Russians began grooming Trump as an asset is unclear. His first foray into Russia was in 1987, a year before he first put his toe into the presidential candidate pool. But the internal chaos leading up to the demise of the USSR forestalled any deals. After the Soviet Union collapsed, a small number of entrepreneurs—if one can call them that—became extraordinarily wealthy privatizing Soviet state enterprises. Many, if not most, of them looked to the West to invest and hide their wealth.  Real estate was a favorite investment, especially in large American cities, and Donald Trump was one of the highest flying real estate moguls in Manhattan. Russian investors lavished money on Trump, buying condos in his buildings and reportedly bankrolling several of his grandiose plans. When those plans collapsed into bankruptcy it is likely that Trump was left owing considerable sums to Russian oligarchs. But it is probably after Trump again considered a bid for the Republican nomination in 2004 that the Russian government recognized that he could be exactly what they were looking for. From then on, Russian cash poured into Trump’s coffers. Persistent rumors suggest that the Russians cashed in their second chip, cupidity, when Trump took the Miss Universe Pageant to Moscow in 2013 and is said to have engaged in what can only be described as tawdry behavior with Russian prostitutes, who were quite possibly in the employ of Russian intelligence. The last character flaw, narcissism, was probably the easiest for the Russians to exploit. Trump is surrounded by toadies with connections to Moscow.

As I suggested earlier, I think it unlikely that Trump is a witting Russian agent. I doubt that a professional intelligence service would hire someone as volatile and unpredictable. But it does seem possible, and indeed probable, that Trump is an unwitting Russian asset sitting in the White House. His inchoate America-First rhetoric fits perfectly with the Russian desire for the United States to disengage in Europe. Without US participation, NATO will probably reverse its expansion into Eastern Europe. Trump’s belligerence in the Middle East makes Russia appear to many in the region as a sane alternative to the US. His promised torpedoing of the Iran nuclear treaty will surely drive that country farther in to the arms of the Russian bear. His apparent determination to make an enemy of China will strengthen Russia’s position in the Far East while slowing China’s growth as an economic superpower. And his hostility toward Latin America may well make Russia appear a reasonable alternative partner for that region. All in all, Trump being Trump is very good for Russia’s interests.

The evidence that Russian hackers interfered in the US election is incontrovertible. Their finger prints are all over the attacks on the DNC and DCCC computer systems. It seems possible, even probable, that Edward Snowden is a Russian asset. His trail to the position that allowed him to steal so much information from NSA seems hardly accidental as does the fact that after Trump was elected talk started of his repatriation. Contacts between Trump surrogates like Michael Flynn and the Russian government have been too numerous to be coincidental. Key Trump appointees, notably Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, have long-standing connections with Russian commercial interests.  

It does not require a conspiratorial mind to believe that, having failed to best the US in overt military and economic power, Russia has, at last, succeeded in beating us through the black arts of espionage where their millennium of experience in insurmountable. Who knows, perhaps it is for the best. Trump himself and his crackpot ideas will not last very long. The very character defects that made him a useful target for the Russians will not likely survive the US legal system very long. The autocracy he threatens will probably mellow into a form acceptable to Americans just as democracy in Russia evolved into a tsarist model with which the Russians are more comfortable. But whatever the future, it seems certain that the Russians have won this round.

Police state

This morning I was bullied by a New York State Trooper named David A. Kemp on behalf of a biker friend of his who objected to my non-threatening email telling him to stop harassing me on Facebook. (See my earlier post Resist and the emails in question below.)  Not only was the trooper was rude but he lied by saying that what I had done was illegal. At one point, he pushed his way into our house and shouted at me. And without my permission, he went to the back of my house to record our car license plates.

This is what Trump’s police state looks like. In fairness, the state police sergeant to whom I complained was fairly conciliatory but this incident should never have happened. I have sent a message to my state assembly representative advising her of this abuse of police power. I urge anyone else subject to this sort of right wing harassment to so likewise.

 

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Golden Bunkers

In its January 30th issue, The New Yorker ran a piece by Evan Osnos, Doomsday Prep by the Super Rich, describing the elaborate measures many billionaires are taking to protect themselves in the event of civil unrest. Those run the gamut from purchasing million dollar luxury condominiums in decommissioned missile silos to buying second (or third or fourth) homes in such presumably safe countries as New Zealand. There is a delicious irony to the rise of this survivalist movement among the very wealthy as billionaire Donald Trump is inaugurated president surrounded by a cabinet from the top 0.1%. Including the $20T national debt run up by tax cuts that largely favor the wealthy, during the past 36 years something of order $30T has been redistributed from ordinary Americans and their progeny to the financial elite. History strongly suggests that the resulting wealth inequality, by far the worst among developed countries, will inevitably lead to social instability. The longevity of the United States owes a great deal to leaders like the Roosevelts and Kennedys who recognized that the interests of their privileged class lay in keeping inequality within acceptable limits. The billionaire preppers would do well to realize that for a fraction of the cost of buying foreign refuges and building bunkers they could reverse the current drift toward anarchy by simply paying their fair share of taxes.

Resist

Free speech is under attack in a very real way. Post something about Trump that someone does not like and you may well find, as I did, your home address posted on Facebook. You might receive an email with a printout from one of those background check sites, full of inaccurate information and the names of people you do not even know. Your ex-wife, who lives in a different state, might receive a phone call telling her that the Trumpster in question has “friends in law enforcement.” You might find this person plastering Facebook with your Twitter account, your Gravatar, copyright material from your blog, and screen grabs of your Facebook posts. If you report those to Facebook you are politely informed that they do not violate their “community standards” but that you have been blocked from posting for a week because you called someone a right-wing coward. When you report the harassment to the police they tell you that none of this is illegal. These are the same police who claimed that saying “fuck” on your deck is illegal (it isn’t).

I know who is harassing me. He is a local businessman catering to a knuckle-dragging segment of the community. He apparently feels that it is his responsibility to protect the world from my having more than one Facebook account. I have created multiple accounts because Facebook’s biased “community standards” result in my frequently being blocked from posting because I offended some thin-skinned yahoo. I am looking into pursing legal action against this person because I will not be silenced by a fascist bully. I urge everyone to stand up to suppression of their rights to speak their minds. We will only survive the Trump regime by refusing to back down in the face of right wing tyranny. And if the harassment continues, I will organize a boycott of this person’s business and that of anyone else who tries to stifle free speech.

Have a nice day.