Destruction Of The US. (Part Six – Deficits & Debt)

When President Obama took office, the economy was in flames. Unemployment was soaring and entire industries were in jeopardy. Indeed, the entire world economy was on the verge of collapse. In order to help stem the bleeding, the Obama administration, the Democratic-led Congress and the Federal Reserve implemented a series of stimulus actions, including tax cuts. Those actions temporarily added to the deficit. But they were necessary. Nevertheless, Republicans howled about the “wasteful spending.”

By contrast, Trump inherited a healthy economy and declining deficits. Instead of allowing interest rates to gradually rise, raising taxes to increase revenue and doing what most economists recommended, he orchestrated a massive tax cut for corporations and the very wealthy. Contrary to his grandiose promises and projections, the economy did not noticeably change. Rather, it continued on the same path begun under Obama. What did change was federal revenue, which dramatically dropped. At the same time, deficits soared. The deficit for 2020 is $1.10 trillion and the national debt has now surpassed $22.5 trillion!

And what do you hear from those Republican deficit hawks now? Crickets.

What we are beginning to hear from Republicans is that we must reign in “entitlements” – those safety net programs for the elderly and the poor. They say they want to make serious cuts to Social Security and Medicare. They want to cut food stamp benefits for 3.1 million Americans. They want to cut lunch programs for school children. And they want to end the Affordable Care Act, which made health care affordable for millions of Americans.

In other words, they now seem intent on punishing the poor while continuing to give away hundreds of billions to the Pentagon, an organization that cannot account for trillions in past spending. They want to continue giveaways for corporations. And many Republicans have even stated that they plan to further cut taxes for the very wealthy.

If they are successful, it will mean that the federal deficits and the debt will continue to soar while more ordinary Americans will suffer. Seniors will struggle to pay bills, even to eat. Poor men, women and children will struggle more. The number of homeless will continue to grow. And middle class Americans will not only be asked to make up for the lost revenue with higher taxes. The number of people in the middle class will dramatically decline.

But you can be certain that the incomes of Trump, his family and his wealthy friends will continue to grow.

The Death Of Christianity.

For decades, many Christians have declared the US a Christian nation. That is provably untrue. Not only does the Constitution state “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” Most of those calling for recognition no longer practice a religion that, in any way, resembles Christianity. Unless, of course, your idea of Christianity is represented by visions of the Spanish Inquisition or the pastors and priests who have used their positions to abuse children or to scam millions from their followers in order to live a life of luxury in mansions.

According to exit polls, 80 percent of those who call themselves evangelical Christians voted for Donald J Trump. So did 52 percent of white Catholics, along with 57 percent of whites who are mainline protestants. And they did so despite knowledge of his three marriages and extramarital affairs, his troubling statements about grabbing women by their pussies, credible accusations of rape and assault, his racist attacks on Mexicans who are predominately Catholic, and knowledge of his many scams, including his use of a charity to funnel money into his own pockets. Moreover, there was no evidence that he regularly attended church or had any real knowledge of Christianity.

All these voters knew was that he was suddenly “pro-life” (though he had long supported pro-choice Democrats) and that he was endorsed by some of the most disingenuous evangelical con men…er…pastors on the planet.

Now let’s examine the “Christian” actions of this man who some have labeled an instrument of God sent to prepare Earth for the second coming of the Messiah. Indeed, some even seem to think Trump is the Messiah.

Deuteronomy 10:18-19 states, “For the Lord your God…loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Yet Trump ordered the separation of children, including toddlers, from their immigrant parents and placed them in cages. He placed adults who had the nerve to ask for refugee status in cages, eventually blocking all refugees at our southern border and forcing them into makeshift camps in Mexico. His so-called “pro-life” regime even ordered those here on medical visas for lifesaving treatments not available elsewhere to leave within 30 days, in effect, sentencing them to death. Most recently, he refused entry to refugees from the Bahamas who are fleeing the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.

According to Luke 14:12-14, Jesus said to his host, “…when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.” Yet the Trump regime has moved to end food stamp benefits for 3.1 million poor Americans. Ostensibly the excuse for such action is our enormous federal deficit. Never mind that the primary reason for the growing deficit is the tax cuts given to corporations and the very wealthy at the start of the Trump regime. Perhaps Trump and his “Christian” supporters should pay heed to Matthew 19:24 which quotes Jesus, “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

These are but a few examples of the dozens of cruel and hateful actions by Trump and his administration. Yet his base – his Bible-thumping, cross-wearing, prosperity gospel-spouting base still support him in numbers close to those of 2016. I have a name for them: (actually, I have many – most of which are unprintable) Hallelujah Hypocrites.

The truth is, according to a recent study, atheists and agnostics are more driven by compassion to help others than are highly religious people.

Destruction Of The US. (Part Four – Environment)

Not only has the Trump administration refused to acknowledge the looming threat of the climate crisis. (Trump and his minions have fired or silenced government scientists from even mentioning climate change. And they have removed any reference to climate change from government websites.) The administration has attacked the nation’s environment resulting in destruction we haven’t seen since the early 1970s.

Trump’s first Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, began his dirty work by paring down some of our national parks leaving Native American heritage sites and archeological treasures vulnerable to vandalism. He then opened federal lands for mining and fracking. Zinke was stopped only by his excesses. When the department’s Inspector General opened an investigation into his excessive use of flights and ethical lapses, he announced his resignation.

The second Trump appointee to fill the office is David Bernhardt, a former oil and agribusiness lobbyist who is already under investigation by the Inspector General for…wait for it…conflicts of interest. Like Zinke, he also believes that all of the public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management should be sold so that corporations and private interests can exploit their resources, ignoring the fact that the only reason they are public lands is that they are ecologically sensitive. Indeed, Bernhardt and the administration are in a rush to circumvent Congress and public opinion to auction off leases for oil exploration on public lands before the 2020 election

Under Bernhardt, the department is currently considering permits for fracking in northern Arizona which will pollute millions of gallons of water – a commodity that is already scarce in the region. The department has made it clear that it is also open to permitting foreign-owned companies to, once again, mine for uranium in the Grand Canyon even though previous such mining attempts left much of the region’s water radioactive and unusable. And since the previous mines have not been sealed, they are still leaking radioactive waste.

Trump’s first EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, had previously represented oil and gas companies in numerous suits against the agency. He almost immediately removed restrictions on the coal industry. And he removed regulations designed to protect streams from the coal mining practice of mountain-top removal. Indeed, he operated as if his role was to protect corporations rather than the environment. Only when he became the subject of more than a dozen ethics investigations did he resign.

The new EPA administrator has picked up where Pruitt left off. A former coal lobbyist, Andrew Wheeler has dismissed the conclusions of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Astonishingly, he also dismisses the impact of air pollution on public health.

Under Wheeler, the EPA has permitted the use of a pesticide known to cause brain damage in children. It has also allowed the use bee-killing pesticides to resume. He removed regulations that were part of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan limiting carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. He proposed repealing an Obama-era rule restricting the emissions of mercury and other heavy metals. And he refused to adopt recommendations for contaminants in drinking water.

This anti-environment mentality spans the entire Trump administration. For example, the Department of Energy has repealed Obama-era efficiency standards for lightbulbs aimed at phasing out energy-wasting incandescent bulbs. And, despite the massive fires in other rainforests around the globe, the Department of Agriculture has proposed opening the 16.7 million acres of the Tongass National Forest to logging and other exploitation by corporations.

And it’s not just clean air, land and water that are under attack.

Species around the world are threatened by human activities as never before. Yet the administration has proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act to reduce wildlife habitat and remove protections for vulnerable species. It has proposed drilling in the sensitive Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, one of the last remaining preserves for arctic wildlife. It has proposed water policies for California farmers that will push California salmon to extinction and starve the Steelhead Trout and Killer Whales that feed on them. It has relaxed rules on the hunting of threatened species. It issued a kill order for endangered Mexican wolves along the southwestern border, ostensibly to protect cattle. It is in the process of building a wall through the National Butterfly Center, through the Tohono O’odham reservation, and the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge deemed critical to the migration of numerous species. And the Trump administration is set to roll back regulations on the release of methane – the most damaging of all carbon gases – by oil and gas operations.

Scientists understand the threat to the ecosystem. Maintaining a healthy planet should not be partisan or even a national issue. Yet Trump and his followers seem to have the attitude that the worst will only happen after they are dead and buried. In the meantime, they plan to make as much money as possible at the expense of the future.

How Washington Became Gridlocked.

Many Americans decry our failed Congress, angry that the institution seems incapable of addressing their needs. Yet they have continued to vote for the same representatives election after election. It seems they believe other representatives are to blame. Not their own. And they hold both parties equally responsible.

But, as it turns out, Americans should rightfully blame only one party for the inaction of Congress – the GOP.

An episode of MSNBC’s American Swamp explained the problem in great detail. It seems the gridlock began in the early nineties when the newly-elected Rep. Newt Gingrich discovered that CSPAN would telecast speeches from the House floor regardless of the circumstances. Realizing that the network focused solely on the lectern and never showed the empty desks, he took the floor in late evenings to rail against Democrats; to challenge them to respond to his demands and to act. But, unbeknownst to the viewers, the Democrats couldn’t, because they were not there. For months, Newt continued his one-man show, calling Democrats a variety of names and asking his followers to hold them accountable for their inaction and lack of response. He published a list of one-word insults which he handed out to the GOP caucus, so they could all speak like Newt.

Not surprisingly, the farce worked. The audiences began calling their congressmen. They began harassing Democrats. And rightwing media took up the attacks. It only stopped when then-Democratic Speaker Tip O’Neill asked CSPAN to have their cameras pan the chamber to expose the empty desks. But, by then, the damage had been done.

When the GOP won the House and Gingrich became Speaker, he took matters a step farther. An admirer and teacher of parliamentary-style politics in which party members vote as a unified block (something very contrary to the US system), Newt brought that mentality to the GOP. Under threat of being “primaried” with their opponents receiving millions in “dark” money, the members of the GOP caucus fell in line to vote as the Speaker wished, regardless of their own individual feelings or judgment.

Political tribalism was born. And succeeding GOP actions made it worse.

To ostensibly save money, the GOP majority in Congress cut the staffs of representatives. Without sufficient staff to research the effects of bills, congressional members were forced to rely on lobbyists, think tanks and Political Action Groups for information. And, if they failed to vote as these interest groups wished, the groups would spend millions to defeat them in the next election. As a result, the representatives learned that, if they valued their jobs, it was better to do nothing than to take a stand.

And, since the conservative-led Supreme Court ruled that money equals free speech and corporations have the rights of individuals, congressional representatives have been forced to spend as much as 40 percent of their time dialing for dollars in order to raise enough money to fend off competitors in their next election campaign.

In addition, former GOP Speaker John Boehner banned earmarks – the tradition of adding provisions to a discretionary spending bill without floor debate. Though sometimes abused, earmarks were a form of congressional horse-trading to provide funding for projects in an individual representative’s home district. In most cases, it was how new bridges were funded; how new roads and road expansionss were funded; how a city got funding for programs and grants. But since the end of earmarks, the process has become more politicized than ever with the decisions on spending often being directed by the executive branch to reward supporters.

Any bills that do make it out of the House must go to the Senate for votes and be signed by the president before they can become law. The current House has sent more than 100 bills to the Senate. But even the most popular bills supported by a vast majority of citizens have been blocked by the self-proclaimed “grim reaper” of legislation – Moscow Mitch. He refuses to bring them to a vote unless they meet his very narrow agenda.

It’s all a recipe for gridlock.

To make matters worse, over many decades, Congress has yielded much of its constitutional authority to the executive branch rendering itself somewhat powerless. So much so, that congressional delegations have been turned away from immigration detention centers despite their role of oversight. Executive branch agencies have refused to turn over documents or respond to subpoenas issued by congressional judicial and oversight committees. And Trump has redirected money from agencies to build his wall despite congressional authority over the budget.

Despite Trump’s very public calls to drain the swamp, he ignores the fact that it was largely created by the GOP. Indeed, he has only made it worse by ignoring the emoluments clause; by using his office to promote his properties and to make money each time he visits one; by placing industry lobbyists in charge of the agencies responsible for regulating the industries they represent.

The interests of the American people be damned.

E Pluribus Unum (Out Of Many, One).

The phrase was first recommended as our nation’s motto in 1776 as part of the Great Seal of the United States. It was meant to signify the union of the 13 colonies. But, over time, the meaning was expanded to embrace the fact that our nation is comprised almost entirely of immigrants from every part of the world – people who came here seeking liberty and refuge from persecution.

My, how things have changed!

Even though the motto still appears on the Great Seal, a seal that hangs on the president’s lectern, it now stands in open contrast to whatever comes out of that hate hole – that source of limitless lies – he calls a mouth. Instead of promoting unity, he creates division. Instead of respecting his political opponents and debating policies, he calls for his followers to lock them up. Instead of inspiring freedom and liberty for all, he inspires hate. And instead of welcoming the oppressed, he himself orders their oppression.

He has ordered refugees to be herded into cages that would be considered inadequate for animals. He has ordered children and babies to be ripped from their parents’ arms. He has deported veterans who risked their lives in war zones while wearing our uniform, forcing them to leave their spouses and children behind. He has reinvigorated white supremacists and neo-Nazis – many of them marching under the banner of religion. He has tried to disenfranchise the LGBTQ community by pushing for “religious freedom” – the freedom to deny others their civil rights. He has attacked our most cherished institutions, including the CIA, the FBI and the free press. He has openly shown admiration for dictators and expressed jealousy for their brutal control. At the same time, he has expressed contempt for those who have competing ideas for the future of our nation. He has pushed scientists, experts and loyal public servants out of our government, replacing them with grifters, know-nothings and sycophants.

Most recently, he has resorted to a long-time racist trope telling four congresswomen of color to go back to the countries they came from. He tells those who don’t support him to “love it or leave it” ignoring, of course, the fact that before he took office no one complained more about our government than he did. Worse yet, having repeated lies about a black congresswoman, he proudly stood by as the almost entirely white crowd at his political rally chanted “Send her back!” Instead of trying to stop the chant or to speak over it as he claims, he proudly stood there basking in the moment obviously pleased with the hatred he had fomented.

If this poor excuse for a man – this contemptable bully, this pussy-grabber, this serial philanderer, this abuser of the poor, this unapologetic racist, this grifter, this obstructer of justice, this traitor – is allowed to once again assume office, we should consider changing the motto to something more appropriate, such as the slogan on the back side of the Seal “Annuit coeptis” (He favors our undertakings). The He being Putin. Or maybe we could look to our past to find something suitable that’s more succinct, such as “Whites Only!”

And we should change the nation’s name to The Former Democratic Republic of The United States.

Why I Won’t Be Celebrating This Fourth Of July.

On the eve of the Fourth of July and our wannabe dictator’s MAGA tribute to himself, we should pause and consider how patriotism has been commandeered by his political party to divide rather than to unite; to celebrate military might over the ideals of our founders; to benefit the greed of a few over the needs of the many; to use power to exact cruelty upon those less fortunate; to ignore human rights and the will of the majority; to deny civil rights to those who have a darker skin, who worship or love differently.

Once a celebration of our freedom from tyranny, Trump has turned the July 4th celebration in our nation’s capitol into a for-profit celebration of his power. He and the RNC have sold seats in a VIP section for his wealthy followers and lobbyists. He has filled his hotel with those seeking access to his office at the cost of $964 to $4,200 a night. He has redirected millions intended for defense in favor of military flyovers and a display of tanks. He has redirected millions in admission fees from national parks intended for maintenance and improvements to pay for his crass political rally.

His celebration should be met with outrage and derision.

Yet Trump is only a symptom of the political party and philosophy he represents. For many years now, members of the GOP have claimed to be the only true patriots – our country right or wrong. And more often than not, they have been on the wrong side of history – fighting against Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the Civil Rights Acts, leading us into unnecessary wars, passing tax cuts for the wealthy, pushing us further into debt, and leading us into economic calamities.

That’s why I’ll be ignoring tomorrow’s spectacle in Washington and it’s why I’ll be flying the battle flag of the republic upside-down.

How can we celebrate narcissism and contempt for norms? How can we celebrate perpetual war over the control of oil resulting in the deaths of the brave? How can we celebrate our government’s mass cruelty toward those seeking refuge in the land of the free? How can we celebrate greed? How can we celebrate a government led by someone who failed to win a majority of votes and was put in power only with the help of a foreign rival? How can we celebrate alongside a president who embraces dictators while shunning our allies? Who shows contempt for all those who voted against him? Who separates families at our southern border and incarcerates children in worse conditions than the terrorists who attacked our country?

Instead of watching our Dear Leader’s celebration on the national mall, we should read the Declaration of Independence as we dine on our hot dogs. We should read the Constitution over a good beer. We should read the many writings of the founders in order to better understand their intent and the age of enlightenment. We should read a civics textbook as we enjoy a slice of apple pie. Better yet, we should read the Mueller Report.

Then we should ask ourselves: How did we get here? How did everything go so wrong? How can we accept our nation’s many faults and try to make amends for the fact that it stole the land from the original inhabitants through genocide and built much of its wealth on the backs of slaves? How can we live up to the ideals of our founders and not their personal failures? How can we better stand up to those who would take us down the wrong path? How can we help the USA to become a better nation?

How can we end the senseless gun violence – the slaughter of children? How can we give all of our residents equal access to quality health care? How can we better provide our citizens education and equal opportunity? How can we better encourage and utilize their unique talents? How can we make certain that all of our citizens have the opportunity to exercise their right to vote? How can we improve our justice system to make it truly blind to color, religion or sexual orientation? How can we better help and welcome those seeking asylum from tyranny as our ancestors were welcomed? How can we be a better example for others in the world? How can we help others enjoy our freedoms? How can we end war? How can we address the growing threat of climate change? How can we make the planet we share with more than a hundred other nations better?

To me, that is what true patriotism means. Not some display of military might in honor of a sociopath who is an illegitimate occupier of our nation’s highest office.

Make No Mistake. Today’s GOP Is Racist.

Given Trump’s unrestrained spending, the GOP can no longer claim to be the party of financial responsibility. Given Trump’s boorish behavior, his history of extramarital affairs and sexual assaults, his administration’s forced separation of refugee families and its torturous incarceration of young children, the party can no longer claim to be the party of family values. Given Trump’s lack of a foreign policy, his embrace of murderous dictators and his acceptance of Russian interference, it can no longer claim to be strong on defense.

Given Trump’s disdain for the FBI and his obstruction of justice, it cannot claim to be the party of law and order. Given his tariffs, it cannot claim to be the party of free trade. Given the party’s efforts to suppress voting, to gerrymander, to bury opponents in an avalanche of dirty money, and to steal elections, it most certainly cannot claim that it cares about democracy. Given the party’s determination to cut Social Security, Medicare and other safety net programs such as Meals on Wheels, it cannot claim to care about seniors. And, given its cuts to veteran’s benefits, it cannot claim that it cares for veterans.

What the today’s GOP can reasonably claim to be is a party of xenophobes, homophobes, misogynists, racists and fascists.

Once the party of emancipators and proponents of conservative fiscal policies, the GOP began its evolution following Brown v Board of Education – the Supreme Court ruling that forced the desegregation of public schools. In the wake of that decision, James M. Buchanan formulated a plan to allow the white elite to retain its power over the majority. His ideas were embraced by libertarians, in particular the billionaire Charles Koch, and southern conservatives. Then, following the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968, which were signed into law by a Democratic president (Lyndon B. Johnson), the GOP committed to Lee Atwater’s Southern strategy by reaching out to southern Democrats (the so-called Dixiecrats). Within a few years, the Old South was bright red.

Then, under the guidance of Paul Weyrich, Jerry Falwell and others, the party began the culture wars by embracing Christian fundamentalist anti-abortion and anti-gay views. It pandered to evangelicals, most especially those in the southern Baptist church.

The transformation from the party of Lincoln was complete.

In many ways, Trump is a symptom of nearly seventy years of change. His demagoguery merely gave the movement a celebrity and gave members permission to unleash their true feelings. He and his followers railed against our nation’s first black president questioning his citizenship. He fomented hate against refugees and immigrants from so-called shithole (non-white) countries. And he decried political correctness (aka politeness) which allowed the majority of Republicans to pull off their masks to reveal their true colors…er…color…white.

Trump and his advisors, Stephen Bannon and Stephen Miller, even pandered to neo-Nazis and white supremacists (those “very nice people” on the other side of civil rights protestors) encouraging them to crawl out of their hidey holes and light their torches. All the while, Trump and his followers have feigned outrage over being called racists. After all, according to them, they all have a black friend or they work with people of color.

While the GOP rank and file are focused on putting African-Americans, Latinos, the LGBTQ community and “libtards” in their place, the real swamp monsters in the administration are freeing multinational corporations to pollute our environment and fleece consumers. They have given them billions in tax breaks and packed the courts with corporatists, racists and religious fanatics to protect their interests for a generation. Meanwhile the crime-boss-in-chief and his family are filling their very large pockets with taxpayer money, destroying international alliances, threatening our neighbors, the free press and our most valued institutions.

Trump’s supporters voted for him as a way of figuratively throwing a live grenade into Washington. He has done that. He is undoing the very fabric and principles that have held our nation together. And, though his supporters may not yet realize it, he is also eliminating most of the regulations that protect them from predatory financial institutions, health insurance companies, big pharma, corporate polluters and a variety of other greedy scoundrels.

Once his job is complete, and he has finished carrying out the wishes of his billionaire sponsors and friends, not even his followers’ Bibles and guns will be able to protect them.

Why It’s No Exaggeration To Call Trump A Crime Boss.

If you read the Mueller Report, or follow the news, you know that the Special Counsel’s Office obtained indictments against 34 people and three companies, many of them associated with the Trump campaign. Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and Trump lawyer, Michael Cohen, now sit in prison. Trump National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, is awaiting sentencing. Trump advisor, Roger Stone, is awaiting trial. At least seven other criminal cases have been transferred to US Attorneys. And 14 cases have been referred to other government investigators.

Yet that’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the corruption and crime of those tied to Trump. Like any organized crime family, the unsavory and criminal activity of those associated with Trump is widespread.

Consider the fact, that the Mueller team found indications of potential illegal activity by many other Trump associates, including Donald Trump, Jr. But the investigators felt there was not enough evidence to indict noting that many of the Trump team hid behind the 5th Amendment, a web of lies and deceit, the use of signals and innuendo, the use of encrypted communications, and the destruction of evidence. In fact, in its report, the Special Counsel’s Office stated, “The Office cannot rule out the possibility that the unavailable information would shed additional light on (or cast in a new light) the events described in the report.”

Of course, the Mueller Report also lists numerous instances of obstruction of justice for which Trump could be indicted if not for a Department of Justice ruling that a sitting president cannot be indicted.

Not covered by the Mueller Report are the many other instances in which Trump family members, associates and appointees routinely lied to Congress or to the government. Former Attorney General and Senator Jeff Sessions “forgot” about his pre-election and pre-inauguration communications with Russians. There is evidence that Erik Prince lied about his meeting with Russians in the Seychelles. And presidential advisor and Trump son-in-law, Jared Kushner, not only lied to Congress about his contacts with Russians. He was denied top secret security clearance over questions about his family’s business, foreign contacts, and foreign travel.

Trump cabinet members Ryan Zinke, Steve Mnuchin, Ben Carson and Jeff Sessions have all been accused of misusing federal funds for personal benefit. More recently, Elaine Chao, Department of Transportation Secretary and Sen. Mitch McConnell’s wife has been accused of using her position to enrich her family business, Foremost Group. She is also accused of rushing the approval of $78 million in construction projects for Kentucky’s most Republican districts in advance of her husband’s 2020 re-election effort. And it was recently revealed that one of Jared Kushner’s companies received $90 million from an anonymous foreign source, raising questions of corruption and the potential influence of foreign governments in the Trump administration. Of course, Trump’s refusal to divest from his businesses or to place them in a blind trust raises the same questions. Moreover, setting aside Trump’s constant travel to Trump properties, which result in his businesses capturing millions in profits from taxpayer money, he is quite clearly in violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause as representatives of foreign governments spend their time and money at Trump properties in hopes of currying favor with the administration.

Yet unethical and potentially illegal behavior is nothing new for Trump. Only the names of his partners in crime have changed.

As landlords, Trump and his father were found guilty of racial discrimination. Trump was also accused of tenant intimidation in an attempt to get tenants to leave rent-protected buildings, finally settling with the tenants and agreeing to government monitoring.

Trump has been accused of hiring undocumented workers as far back as the eighties when he hired undocumented Polish immigrants to destroy the classic Bonwit Teller building to make way for Trump Tower. His Trump Model Management company was accused of hiring undocumented models. Indeed, his current wife Melania was hired as an undocumented model. And, until recently, Trump employed undocumented workers at his golf courses.

Before the bankruptcy of his casinos, Trump was accused of breaking a variety of gambling rules, including failure to disclose a $3.5 million loan from his father. He has been accused of refusing to pay workers and contractors on his many real estate projects, illegally taking charity funds from his Trump Foundation for his personal use, defrauding those who signed up for Trump University, even buying thousands of copies of his own book with money from campaign donors in order to line his own pockets.

In many cases, Trump bullied his accusers with countersuits. And he often paid millions to settle the cases. For example, in the case of Trump University, he settled the resulting lawsuits for a sum of $25 million.

Trump has been linked to several mafia crime families. Trump’s longtime lawyer and mentor, Roy Cohn, even represented the boss of the Genovese crime family. (Perhaps that’s why Trump often uses the language of mobsters, e.g. “rat”.) Further, Russian oligarchs and mafia figures have purchased millions worth of property from Trump, raising suspicions of his involvement in Russian money laundering.

And mafia figures may not be the most unsavory of Trump’s associates.

Elliott Broidy, an RNC official and one of Trump’s top campaign fundraisers, along with his business partner, George Nader, used his influence to buy favor and bribe officials to shape the administration’s foreign policy in the Middle East. Broidy has admitted to paying his former mistress and Playboy model $1.6 million to keep the affair, and the resulting pregnancy and abortion, quiet. And Nader, already a convicted pedophile, was recently arrested for possession and distribution of child porn.

Another Trump associate, Jeffrey Epstein, was convicted of sexually abusing and trafficking underage girls for sex at parties he arranged at his New York townhouse and on his island in St. Thomas. It has been reported that Trump was a regular at Epstein’s parties, raising questions about Trump’s own activities with underage girls. After all, Trump’s affection for young women, even teenagers is well-known. Contestants in Trump’s Miss Teen USA pageant accused him of walking into their dressing room unannounced. And a woman filed suit against both Epstein and Trump accusing them of raping her at a series of sex parties when she was only 13. In addition, Trump has been accused by many others of sexual assault including unwanted groping, climbing into bed with a model unannounced and rape. And, of course, he was famously recorded bragging about his assaults.

The list goes on.

The Insufferable Cowardice Of Democratic Strategists.

Whenever I listen to Democratic Party “strategists” dismiss the idea of impeachment out of fears that it will help Trump win re-election, my thoughts turn to the lion in the Wizard of Oz who was seeking courage. By basing all of their decisions on polling, these pundits and strategists have shown they lack the conviction of their own beliefs. They are little more than weather vanes – always reacting to the direction the political winds are blowing. And, in doing so, they have caused long-term harm to the future of the party and the nation.

Just look at their recent record. The strongest and most eloquent Democratic member of the Senate, Al Franken, was forced to resign without due process by Democratic leaders pandering to the Me-Too movement. Representative Ihlan Omar was publically shamed and forced to apologize for having the courage to speak up about the out-sized role of AIPAC and Netanyahu in US politics. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has largely been left on her own to defend herself against scurrilous GOP attacks. And instead of using all of the powers granted to them by the Constitution to compel testimony, Democratic-controlled committees have patiently awaited the courts to enforce the subpoenas of administration witnesses, allowing Trump to continue to run out the clock until the 2020 election.

Now ask yourself: What would Republicans do if the roles were reversed? We already know the answers. GOP officials have always circled the wagons around those who have been accused of sexual assault, racism and other antisocial behavior. They have ignored the many outrageous statements made by Sen. Mitch McConnell, Rep. Steve King and others. They have looked the other way from the administration’s corruption. And most continue to support Trump despite his crimes and despicable behavior.

Democratic leaders justify their refusal to call for an impeachment inquiry against Trump by pointing to the rise of President Clinton’s job approval following his impeachment. First, let me state that an impeachment inquiry is not impeachment. It is an investigation. If the House doesn’t find enough evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors, it doesn’t have to vote for impeachment. Second, they should note that, despite Clinton’s job approval, Republicans still took control of the House and the White House in the following election.

Further, the crimes and circumstances are starkly different. Can you really compare the impact of impeaching a president over a sexual indiscretion with an impeachment investigation into a president who gained office with the help of our nation’s greatest adversary; who welcomed and encouraged Russian interference; who provably committed obstruction of justice trying to derail the investigation into his campaign’s complicity with Russians; who resorted to witness tampering and suborning of perjury? A president who is in obvious violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause? A president who refuses to reveal his tax returns, likely because of questionable financial ties to Russian crime bosses?

When the details of this president’s crimes are put on public display in congressional hearings, do you really think voters will show sympathy for him and vote for him in 2020?

Some Democratic Party strategists argue that Trump is setting an “impeachment trap” – that he actually wants to be impeached in order to ensure his re-election. This supposes that Trump is an evil genius who is just daring Democrats to impeach and, in doing so, they will fall into his carefully laid trap. That argument is laughable. Trump may be good at branding and manipulating the media, and he’s certainly good at creating fear and division. But a genius? Hardly.

Based on his panic over the Mueller report, I believe he is actually terrified of impeachment. An impeachment inquiry would give Congress access to information that was unavailable even to the Mueller team. Rather than exonerate Trump, it’s likely to reveal a large number of yet unproven crimes, such as tax fraud and money-laundering. Moreover, an impeachment inquiry is likely to have little negative effect on Democratic prospects for the 2020 elections. No matter what happens, Trump has already accused Democrats of treason; of trying to implement a coup; of trying to overturn the results of the 2016 election. Indeed, he and his new fixer, William Barr, have already begun an investigation into the “oranges” [sic] of CIA and FBI “spying” on his 2016 campaign. That nonsense is already baked into the 2020 campaign.

What’s more likely to damage the outlook for Democrats in the 2020 election is weakness and indecision. We already know that 35 to 40 percent of Americans support Trump. Given that his supporters only believe what Fox News and other conservative media tell them, they will vote for him no matter what happens. Likewise, for those independent voters who haven’t yet made up their minds about Trump (if they even exist), an impeachment inquiry might reveal details that give them reason to either vote against him or to stay home on election day.

The voters Democratic leaders need to most worry about are those in their own base. Since Democrats are the majority party, voter turnout is critical. Failing to hold Trump accountable could well demoralize Democrats. But an impeachment inquiry is almost certain to energize Democrats to vote.

If all of that isn’t enough to convince Democratic leaders to do the right thing, they should re-read Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution which states, “The President, Vice-President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” (Note that it says shall. Not can, may or if it’s convenient.) If gaining the office with the help of a foreign adversary, failing to follow the Constitution, obstructing justice, suborning perjury and witness tampering don’t qualify as high crimes and misdemeanors, it’s difficult to imagine what would.

Finally, they should look to the recent town hall meeting held by Rep. Justin Amash for inspiration. A staunch conservative, Amash is the first member of the Republican caucus to call for impeachment. And, when he laid out his case to his skeptical constituents, they rose to their feet and gave him a standing ovation – proof that it pays to have the courage to do the right thing.

Ignore His Tweets and Taunts. Pay Attention To His Actions.

While Democrats and the media have focused on the Tweets and the taunts and the name-calling, many of the worst activities of the Trump administration have gone unnoticed. That’s because the administration seems to have borrowed a strategy from sports – especially NHL hockey. The idea is that, if you can’t win on the merits, you resort to cheating and bullying. You commit as many fouls as possible based on the theory that the referees won’t/can’t call all of them. The referees are then faced with two options: To make the game unwatchable from the constant stoppages and penalties. Or to call only the most egregious fouls.

Likewise, by burying the media, the public and Congress under an avalanche of executive orders, policy changes, unqualified presidential appointments, unjustified pardons, blatant corruption, obstruction and criminal actions, the administration seems to believe that the public will tire of the outrage and buy into the notion that the president is the victim of negative and partisan reporting.

Whatever else you can say about Donald Trump, you must admit that he is a master of the con and self-promotion. He knows how to manipulate his base and the media. Indeed, every time I see him speak, I see the narcissism of Benito Mussolini combined with the limited vocabulary and taunting of Vince McMahon and his WWE bullies. (I am quite certain that is the result of study and hours of practice in front of Trump’s favorite item – the mirror.)

Repulsed by the cartoon-like show, the majority of Americans often miss or ignore the things that are taking place behind the scenes – things that could prove fatal to our democracy.

Every single day, the administration commits more harmful and anti-democratic actions. Career public servants are replaced by unqualified family members, toadies and demagogues from the Trump propaganda network, aka Fox News. Highly partisan and unqualified judges are confirmed as a result of Mitch McConnell’s disregard for long-standing traditions and regular order. Refugees from all over the world are sent back to the dangers they tried to escape. (There are even plans to deport refugees who came here immediately following the Vietnam War.)

The constitutional protections from unreasonable search and seizures have been suspended within 100 miles of our borders – all of our borders. International laws and norms are ignored. Refugee children are traumatized by being ripped from their parents. Pollution is increased as the result of environmental deregulation. Increasingly, our lives are placed at risk by uncontrolled gun violence encouraged by Trump supporters in the NRA. Our economy and consumers are also placed at risk by the dismantling of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau regulations and the Dodd-Frank bill that was designed to prevent another financial collapse. And more people will go bankrupt or die because of the administration’s undermining of the Affordable Care Act.

Each day, the administration borrows more money from China to prop up our economy and to squander on unneeded, and often flawed, weapons systems. At the same time, it has imposed tariffs on billions of dollars of Chinese goods leading to a trade war and higher prices for American consumers. Diplomacy has been replaced by outright bullying and brinksmanship. Trump and his administration have threatened NATO members and turned their backs on trusted allies while embracing some of the world’s worst dictators.

The administration encourages violent racism and intentionally sews division to improve Trump’s chances of being reelected. Sacred Native American lands and public lands are being sold off to extraction industries. American citizens are displaced and their lives disrupted in order to build a senseless wall. Public schools, food stamps, veterans programs, fair trade, access to safe abortions, the constitutional separation of church and state, and so-called entitlements are all under attack. So, too, are our most important institutions like the press, the FBI and our Intelligence agencies.

The president and his mouthpieces commit daily assaults on the truth. The administration has forced a constitutional crisis by announcing that it will refuse to be burdened by congressional oversight. Meanwhile, the crime family in charge enriches itself with taxpayer money as it refuses to reveal its tax returns.

If the orange diKKKtator could accomplish all this while under investigation for conspiring with Russia during the 2016 election, imagine the harm he can cause now that he and his supporters falsely claim “total exoneration?” Even more frightening are the potential consequences of his re-election and the possibility of Congress being retaken by his stooges and sycophants.

Thankfully, you have the power to prevent that grim and dystopian future. Write or call your congressional representatives and demand that impeachment hearings begin immediately. Even more important, VOTE!