Trump’s Attack On Democracy

While Donald Trump claims to be the “law and order” president, he has broken the law and breached the U.S. Constitution more than a few times, especially last week in Portland, Oregon. Charles French provides us with a chilling assessment of where this could lead. Thank you, Charles, for this excellent post, and your generous permission to share it with my readers.

charles french words reading and writing

flag of america (Photo by Sharefaith on Pexels.com)

What happened the other night in Portland, Oregon should have all Americans who believe in the Constitution, Freedom, and Democracy outraged and frightened. Please do not divert the subject by speaking about “riots”. That is an issue that is addressed by local and state authorities, not the Federal Government.  The President does not seem to care about the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

The Fourth Amendment says, “The right of the people to  be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Having Federal agents, wearing police insignia without identification of person or office arresting people without warrants and taking…

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Trump’s Tribute To Hatred & Divisiveness

What follows is a transcript of the 45-minute speech that Donald Trump gave yesterday evening at a very expensive ceremony at Mount Rushmore.  It is long, some 3,671 words, but I hope you will take the time to at least read the highlighted portions.  My commentary will follow later today, or more likely tomorrow. I have numbered the paragraphs for easy reference.


#1 – Well, thank you very much. Governor Noem, Secretary Bernhardt, we very much appreciate it. Members of Congress, distinguished guests, and a very special hello to South Dakota. As we begin this 4th of July weekend, the First Lady and I would wish each and every one of you a very, very happy Independence Day. Thank you.

#2 – Let us show our appreciation to the South Dakota Army and Air National Guard and the Air Force for inspiring us with that magnificent display of American air power, and of course our gratitude as always to the legendary and very talented Blue Angels. Thank you very much. Let us also send you our deepest thanks to our wonderful veterans, law enforcement, first responders, and the doctors, nurses, and scientists working tirelessly to kill the virus. They are working hard. I want to thank them very, very much. We’re grateful as well to your state’s congressional delegation. Senator John Thune. John, thank you very much. Senator Mike Rounds. Thank you, Mike. And Dusty Johnson, Congressman. Hi, Dusty. Thank you. And all others with us tonight from Congress, thank you very much for coming. We appreciate it.

#3 – There could be no better place to celebrate America’s independence than beneath this magnificent, incredible majestic mountain and monument to the greatest Americans who have ever lived. Today we pay tribute to the exceptional lives and extraordinary legacies of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt. I am here as your president to proclaim before the country and before the world, this monument will never be desecrated, these heroes will never be defamed, their legacy will never ever be destroyed, their achievements will never be forgotten, and Mount Rushmore will stand forever as an eternal tribute to our forefathers and to our freedom.

#4 – We gather tonight to herald the most important day in the history of nations, July 4th, 1776. At those words, every American heart should swell with pride, every American family should cheer with delight, and every American patriot should be filled with joy because each of you lives in the most magnificent country in the history of the world and it will soon be greater than ever before.

#5 – Our founders launched not only a revolution in government, but a revolution in the pursuit of justice, equality, liberty, and prosperity. No nation has done more to advance the human condition than the United States of America and no people have done more to promote human progress than the citizens of our great nation. It was all made possible by the courage of 56 patriots who gathered in Philadelphia 244 years ago and signed the Declaration of Independence. They enshrined a divine truth that changed the world forever when they said, “All men are created equal.” These immortal words set in motion the unstoppable march of freedom. Our founders boldly declared that we are all endowed with the same divine rights, given us by our Creator in Heaven, and that which God has given us, we will allow no one ever to take away ever.

#6 – 1776 represented the culmination of thousands of years of Western civilization and the triumph of not only spirit, but of wisdom, philosophy, and reason. And yet, as we meet here tonight, there is a growing danger that threatens every blessing our ancestors fought so hard for, struggled, they bled to secure. Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children. Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders, deface our most sacred memorials, and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities. Many of these people have no idea why they’re doing this, but some know what they are doing. They think the American people are weak and soft and submissive, but no, the American people are strong and proud and they will not allow our country and all of its values, history, and culture to be taken from them.

#7 – One of their political weapons is cancel culture, driving people from their jobs, shaming dissenters, and demanding total submission from anyone who disagrees. This is the very definition of totalitarianism, and it is completely alien to our culture and to our values and it has absolutely no place in the United States of America.

#8 – This attack on our liberty, our magnificent liberty must be stopped, and it will be stopped very quickly. We will expose this dangerous movement, protect our nation’s children from this radical assault, and preserve our beloved American way of life. In our schools, our newsrooms, even our corporate boardrooms, there is a new far-left fascism that demands absolute allegiance. If you do not speak its language, perform its rituals, recite its mantras, and follow its commandments, then you will be censored, banished, blacklisted, persecuted, and punished. It’s not going to happen to us.

#9 – Make no mistake. This left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution. In so doing they would destroy the very civilization that rescued billions from poverty, disease, violence, and hunger, and that lifted humanity to new heights of achievement, discovery, and progress. To make this possible, they are determined to tear down every statue, symbol, and memory of our national heritage.

– Memory of our national heritage.

#10 – True. That’s very true actually. That is why I am deploying federal law enforcement to protect our monuments, arrest the rioters, and prosecutors offenders to the fullest extent of the law.

Thank you.

#11 – I am pleased to report that yesterday, federal agents arrested the suspected ringleader of the attack on the statue of the great Andrew Jackson in Washington, D.C., and in addition, hundreds more have been arrested. Under the executive order I signed last week pertaining to the Veterans Memorial Preservation Memorial and Recognition Act and other laws, people who damage or deface federal statues or monuments will get a minimum of 10 years in prison and obviously that includes our beautiful Mount Rushmore.

#12 – Our people have a great memory. They will never forget the destruction of statues and monuments to George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, abolitionists and many others. The violent mayhem we have seen in the streets and cities that are run by liberal Democrats in every case is the predictable result of years of extreme indoctrination and bias in education, journalism, and other cultural institutions. Against every law of society and nature, our children are taught in school to hate their own country and to believe that the men and women who built it were not heroes but that were villains. The radical view of American history is a web of lies, all perspective is removed, every virtue is obscured, every motive is twisted, every fact is distorted and every flaw is magnified until the history is purged and the record is disfigured beyond all recognition. This movement is openly attacking the legacies of every person on Mount Rushmore. They defiled the memory of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt. Today we will set history and history’s record straight.

#13 – Before these figures were immortalized in stone, they were American giants in full flesh and blood, gallant men, whose intrepid deeds unleashed the greatest leap of human advancement the world has ever known. Tonight I will tell you and most importantly the youth of our nation the true stories of these great, great men. From head to toe George Washington represented the strength, grace, and dignity of the American people. From a small volunteer force of citizen farmers, he created the Continental Army out of nothing and rallied them to stand against the most powerful military on earth. Through eight long years, through the brutal winter at Valley Forge, through setback after setback on the field of battle, he led those patriots to ultimate triumph. When the army had dwindled to a few thousand men at Christmas of 1776, when defeat seemed absolutely certain, he took what remained of his forces on a daring nighttime crossing of the Delaware River. They marched through nine miles of frigid darkness, many without boots on their feet, leaving a trail of blood in the snow. In the morning, they seized victory at Trenton after forcing the surrender of the most powerful empire on the planet at Yorktown, General Washington did not claim power but simply returned to Mount Vernon as a private citizen.

#14 – When called upon again, he presided over the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and was unanimously elected our first president. When he stepped down after two terms, his former adversary, King George called him the greatest man of the age. He remains first in our hearts to this day, for as long as Americans love this land, we will honor and cherish the father of our country, George Washington. He will never be removed, abolished, and most of all, he will never be forgotten. Thomas Jefferson, the great Thomas Jefferson, was 33 years old when he traveled north to Pennsylvania and brilliantly authored one of the greatest treasures of human history, the Declaration of Independence. He also drafted Virginia’s constitution and conceived and wrote the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, a model for our cherished First Amendment. After serving as the first Secretary of State, and then Vice President, he was elected to the presidency. He ordered American warriors to crush Barbary pirates. He doubled the size of our nation with the Louisiana Purchase and he sent the famous explorers Lewis and Clark into the west on a daring expedition to the Pacific Ocean. He was an architect, an inventor, a diplomat, a scholar, the founder of one of the world’s great universities and an ardent defender of liberty. Americans will forever admire the author of American freedom, Thomas Jefferson, and he too will never, ever be abandoned by us.

#15 – Abraham Lincoln, the savior of our union, was a self-taught country lawyer who grew up in a log cabin on the American frontier. The first Republican president, he rose to high office from obscurity based on a force and clarity of his anti-slavery convictions. Very, very strong convictions. He signed the law that built the Trans-Continental Railroad. He signed the Homestead Act given to some incredible scholars as simply defined ordinary citizens free land to settle anywhere in the American West, and he led the country through the darkest hours of American history, giving every ounce of strength that he had to ensure that government of the people, by the people and for the people did not perish from this earth. He served as commander in chief of the U.S. Armed Forces during our bloodiest war, the struggle that saved our union and extinguished the evil of slavery. Over 600,000 died in that war, more than 20, 000 were killed or wounded in a single day in Antietam. At Gettysburg 157 years ago, the Union bravely withstood an assault of nearly 15,000 men and threw back Pickett’s Charge. Lincoln won the Civil War. He issued the Emancipation Proclamation. He led the passage of the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery for all-time and ultimately his determination to preserve our nation and our union cost him his life. For as long as we live, Americans will uphold and revere the immortal memory of President Abraham Lincoln.

#16 – Theodore Roosevelt exemplified the unbridled confidence of our national culture and identity. He saw the towering grandeur of America’s mission in the world and he pursued it with – in the world and he pursued it with overwhelming energy and zeal. As a Lieutenant Colonel during the Spanish-American War, he led the famous Rough Riders to defeat the enemy at San Juan Hill. He cleaned up corruption as police commissioner of New York City, then served as the Governor of New York, Vice President, and at 42 years old, became the youngest ever President of the United States.

#17 – He sent our great new naval fleet around the globe to announce America’s arrival as a world power. He gave us many of our national parks, including the Grand Canyon. He oversaw the construction of the awe-inspiring Panama Canal and he is the only person ever awarded both the Nobel Peace Prize and the Congressional Medal of Honor. He was American freedom personified in full. The American people will never relinquish the bold, beautiful and untamed spirit of Theodore Roosevelt.

#18 – No movement that seeks to dismantle these treasured American legacies can possibly have a love of America at its heart. Can’t happen. No person who remains quiet at the destruction of this resplendent heritage can possibly lead us to a better future. The radical ideology attacking our country advances under the banner of social justice, but in truth, it would demolish both justice and society. It would transform justice into an instrument of division and vengeance and it would turn our free and inclusive society into a place of a repression, domination, and exclusion. They want to silence us, but we will not be silenced.

Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you very much.

#19 – We will state the truth in full without apology. We declare that the United States of America is the most just and exceptional nation ever to exist on earth. We are proud of the fact that our country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles and we understand that these values have dramatically advanced the cause of peace and justice throughout the world. We know that the American family is the bedrock of American life. We recognize the solemn right and moral duty of every nation to secure its borders and we are building the wall. We remember that governments exist to protect the safety and happiness of their own people. A nation must care for its own citizens first. We must take care of America first. It’s time. We believe in equal opportunity, equal justice, and equal treatment for citizens of every race, background, religion and creed. Every child of every color, born and unborn, is made in the holy image of God.

#20 – We want free and open debate, not speech codes and cancel culture. We embrace tolerance, not prejudice. We support the courageous men and women of law enforcement. We will never abolish our police or our great Second Amendment which gives us the right to keep and bear arms. We believe that our children should be taught to love their country, honor their history, and respect our great American flag. We stand tall, we stand proud, and we only kneel to Almighty God. This is who we are. This is what we believe and these are the values that will guide us as we strive to build an even better and greater future. Those who seek to erase our heritage want Americans to forget our pride and our great dignity so that we can no longer understand ourselves or America’s destiny. In toppling the heroes of 1776, they seek to dissolve the bonds of love and loyalty that we feel for our country and that we feel for each other. Their goal is not a better America, their goal is to end America.

#21 – In its place, they want power for themselves, but just as patriots did in centuries past, the American people will stand in their way and we will win and win quickly and with great dignity. We will never let them rip America’s heroes from our monuments or from our hearts. By tearing down Washington and Jefferson, these radicals would tear down the very heritage for which men gave their lives to win the Civil War, they would erase the memory that inspired those soldiers to go to their deaths, singing these words of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, “As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free, while God is marching on.” They would tear down the principles that propelled the abolition of slavery and ultimately around the world ending an evil institution that had plagued humanity for thousands and thousands of years. Our opponents would tear apart the very documents that Martin Luther King used to express his dream and the ideas that were the foundation of the righteous movement for Civil Rights. They would tear down the beliefs, culture and identity, that have made America the most vibrant and tolerant society in the history of the earth. My fellow Americans, it is time to speak up loudly and strongly and powerfully and defend the integrity of our country.

#22 – It is time for our politicians to summon the bravery and determination of our American ancestors. It is time. It is time to plant our flag and to protect the greatest of this nation for citizens of every race in every city in every part of this glorious land. For the sake of our honor, for the sake of our children, for the sake of our union, we must protect and preserve our history, our heritage, and our great heroes. Here tonight before the eyes of our forefathers, Americans declare again, as we did 244 years ago, that we will not be tyrannized, we will not be demeaned, and we will not be intimidated by bad, evil people. It will not happen.

#23 – We will proclaim the ideals of the Declaration of Independence and we will never surrender the spirit and the courage and the cause of July 4, 1776. Upon this ground, we will stand firm and unwavering. In the face of lies meant to divide us, demoralize us and diminish us, we will show that the story of America unites us and –

#24 – We will show that the story of America unites us, inspires us, includes us all, and makes everyone free. We must demand that our children are taught once again to see America as did Reverend Martin Luther King when he said that the founders had signed a promissory note to every future generation. Dr. King saw that the mission of justice required us to fully embrace our founding ideals. Those ideals are so important to us, the founding ideals.

#25 – He called on his fellow citizens not to rip down their heritage, but to live up to their heritage. Above all, our children from every community must be taught that to be American is to inherit the spirit of the most adventurous and confident people ever to walk the face of the Earth. Americans are the people who pursued our Manifest Destiny across the ocean, into the uncharted wilderness, over the tallest mountains, and then into the skies, and even into the stars.

#26 – We are the country of Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, and Frederick Douglas. We are the land of Wild Bill Hickock and Buffalo Bill Cody. We are the nation that gave rise to the Wright brothers, the Tuskegee airmen, Harriet Tubman, Clara Barton, Jesse Owens, George Patton, General George Patton, the great Louis Armstrong, Alan Shepard, Elvis Presley, and Muhammad Ali, and only America could have produced them all. No other place.

#27 – We are the culture that put up the Hoover Dam, laid down the highways, and sculpted the skyline of Manhattan. We are the people who dreamed the spectacular dream, it was called Las Vegas in the Nevada desert, who built up Miami from the Florida marsh, and who carved our heroes into the face of Mount Rushmore. Americans harnessed electricity, split the atom, and gave the world the telephone and the internet. We settled the Wild West, won two World Wars, landed American astronauts on the moon.

#28 – And one day very soon, we will plant our flag on Mars. We gave the world the poetry of Walt Whitman, the stories of Mark Twain, the songs of Irving Berlin, the voice of Ella Fitzgerald, the style of Frank Sinatra, the comedy of Bob Hope, the power of the Saturn V rocket, the toughness of the Ford F150, and the awesome might of the American aircraft carriers.

#29 – Americans must never lose sight of this miraculous story. We should never lose sight of it. Nobody has ever done it like we have done it. So today, under the authority vested in me as President of the United States, I am announcing the creation of a new monument to the giants of our past. I am signing an executive order to establish the National Guard of American heroes, a vast outdoor park that will feature the statues of the greatest Americans to ever live.

#30 – From this night, and from this magnificent place, let us go forward united in our purpose and rededicated in our resolve. We will raise the next generation of American patriots. We will write the next thrilling chapter of the American adventure. And we will teach our children to know that they live in a land of legends, that nothing can stop them, and that no one can hold them down. They will know that, in America, you can do anything, you can be anything, and together, we can achieve anything.

#31 – Uplifted by the titans of Mount Rushmore, we will find unity that no one expected. We will make strides that no one thought possible. This country will be everything that our citizens have hoped for for so many years, and that our enemies fear, because we will never forget that the American freedom exists for American greatness. And that’s what we have, American greatness. Centuries from now, our legacy will be the cities we built, the champions we forged, the good that we did, and the monuments we created to inspire us all. My fellow citizens, America’s destiny is in our sights. America’s heroes are embedded in our hearts. America’s future is in our hands. And ladies and gentlemen, the best is yet to come. This has been a great honor for the First Lady and myself to be with you. I love your state. I love this country. I’d like to wish everybody a very happy Fourth of July to all. God bless you. God bless your families. God bless our great military, and God bless America. Thank you very much. Thank you.

The First Amendment …

The First Amendment covers a lot of ground and has been interpreted and re-interpreted ever since its writing.  In the news this week are three things pertaining to the 1st Amendment that worry me in one form or fashion.


Freedom of the Press …

I had heard the name ‘Samantha Bee’, but had no idea who or what she was, nor did I much care … until this morning.  According to Wikipedia, Ms. Bee is …

“… a Canadian-American comedian, writer, producer, political commentator, actress, and television host. Bee rose to fame as a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, where she became the longest-serving regular correspondent.”

You guys probably already knew that, though, didn’t you?  So why, you ask, did Ms. Bee buzz across my radar?  On her show, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, on Wednesday, she made some very astute statements about freedom of the press …

“Look, I know, it’s not exactly a revelation that the president is always trying to undermine the media, but that’s the problem: We’re all so used to it that we act like it’s normal. And the more that we ignore anti-press sentiment in America, the more it will spread.  When Trump became president, he was crushed to find that the job comes with criticism and that the glowing PR he got from the business media isn’t typical of the political press. Since the media refused to love him back, Trump has chosen to do the mature thing and use his presidential power to destroy them.  The scariest part about Trump’s war on the press is that he’s winning. No one’s been able to stop his attacks, so we just go about our lives while they run constantly in the background like white noise — which is, of course, Trump’s preferred color of noise. … When Trump undermines the free press, he’s not just attacking journalists’ rights to do their jobs, he’s attacking your right to know what’s going on in the world.”

She’s right.  If not for the free press, we would know only what Trump wanted us to know.  We would not know that Russia was paying the Taliban to kill U.S. soldiers and that Trump knew about this yet failed to act.  We would not have known that he attempted to blackmail the president of the Ukraine to ‘dig up dirt’ on his political rival, Joe Biden.  We would not have known any of the acts that Trump has committed against the people of this nation.  At all costs, we must … must support our free press!  We cannot become complacent and accept the denigration of the press as ‘normal’, for it is anything but normal … at least in this country.


Freedom of Speech …

The 1st Amendment includes many freedoms, including the aforementioned freedom of the press.  It also includes freedom of and from religion, and the one most-oft quoted, freedom of speech.  Over the past two centuries, that ‘freedom of speech has been interpreted by the courts to mean a wide variety of things.  Signs and symbols by hate groups such as white supremacists and neo-Nazis have been ruled acceptable because … freedom of speech.  KKK rallies have been deemed allowable under freedom of speech.  But, in my opinion, there simply must be limits.

This …nazi-flag-shooting… is highly offensive to all but the most ardent anti-Semitic white supremacists.  A woman was shot four times in the back in Garfield County, Oklahoma, for trying to remove one of the flags.

Now, I can tell you for a fact that if anybody in my neighborhood were to sport such a flag, I would not only remove it, but would douse it with lighter fluid then set fire to it.  The Nazi flag is a symbol of anti-Semitism, of hatred, around the globe.

The owner of the house and flags, one Alexander Feaster, was arrested and has been charged with assault and battery with a deadly weapon, and shooting with intent to kill, and is due to appear in court later this month.  A neighbor said that he had been flying the flags for around a year, and they had been snatched from his home a few times in the past. They added that he would occasionally dress up in black uniform with a red swastika armband – an outfit reminiscent of Nazi SS uniforms.  No less than 15 guns were recovered from Feaster’s home upon his arrest.  Who the hell needs that much firepower?

The district attorney says he is considering possible charges against the woman, who is expected to recover from her gunshot wounds.  Why?  Trespassing?  Destruction of private property?  In this case, I don’t see it … it was justified.  However, I know at least two of my readers who will disagree with me, so it is only my opinion.


Freedom of/from Religion …

The 1st Amendment says this about the freedom of religion …

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

That’s all … just 16 words.  However, lengthy tomes have been written in order to interpret how this clause should be applied.  There are those who argue this is a Christian nation … it is not!  It is a secular nation, the foundation of which calls for a distinct separation between church and state.  This includes education.

A portion of our tax dollars is used to fund public schools.  PUBLIC schools, not parochial or religious schools.  If you want to send your children to a religious school, you do have that right … just not at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer.

This week the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the state of Montana could not use a provision in its Constitution to exclude religious schools from its private school scholarship program.  Although the ruling was narrow, applying only to the case before them, it is likely that religious groups in other states will be heartened by the decision and file their own cases against states.  By the end of next year, we could easily see a broader ruling stating that any state that issues vouchers or similar programs to help with tuition at private schools must also include religious schools in the process.

In fact, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos suggested just that …

“I’m calling on all states to now seize the extraordinary opportunity to expand all education options at all schools to every single student in America.”

I’m betting that those who championed and cheered this decision will be horrified when some day a family uses their vouchers to send their child to an Islamic school, won’t they?  Meanwhile, though, I am offended and angered by this decision.  As a citizen, as a taxpayer, and as a non-religionist, I absolutely do NOT want my tax dollars supporting a religious school where children are taught every form of bigotry imaginable.  It is a gross miscarriage of justice that people of differing religions and of no religion must pay to send another person’s child to a school that teaches only one religion and teaches that it is the one and only right religion and the rest of us are wrong in our beliefs or non-beliefs.  This is, in part, why there is so much hatred in this country today.

You want to send your child to a religious school, fine, but not on my dime!

One Out Of Three …

The Supreme Court was busy yesterday morning.  They made one good decision and two horrible ones.  Let’s start with the good …


On the upside, the Court struck down Louisiana’s restrictive anti-abortion law.  Chief Justice John Roberts voted with the Court’s liberal justices … not because he was against the law or pro women’s rights, but simply because four years ago, the Court struck down a similar law in Texas, thereby setting the precedent.  I will never understand why men think they know anything about this topic, or why they think they have a right to tell us what we can or must do with our own bodies.  Watch them scream and yell if you suggest that women should decide whether men can have a vasectomy, or those little blue pills they’re so fond of.

Anti-abortion groups went ballistic, saying it will give them more motivation than ever to turn out at the polls in November.  Once again, folks, we have people in this country who are so narrow-minded that they will return a madman to the Oval Office for another four years, simply to deny women the same rights that men have to make our own decisions regarding our own bodies.  And here I thought we were living in the 21st century.

At any rate, thumbs up to the five on the Court who voted right on this one.


In another ruling, the Court gave the federal government the right to carry out executions.  Funny, isn’t it, that people like Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, Alito and Thomas are so horrified at the thought of a woman having the right to control her own body, but they are ready, willing and perfectly happy to say it’s okay to murder federal prisoners … people who are actually already people.

Now, the biggest problem I have with the death penalty is that more than a few times, a prisoner on death row has been found to be innocent of the crime for which he is serving time.  The state releases him, pays him a bit of restitution, and while his life has been shattered, he still has a chance to put it back together.  If he had been executed … what???  Does the government say, “Oops … sorry ‘bout that!”?  Executing a person is pretty darn final.

The second problem I have with the death penalty is that it is inhumane.  Think of how many executions were botched a few years ago and people died after sometimes hours of intense pain.  Hell, the guillotine was kinder!  Proponents of the death penalty say execution by lethal injection is painless and humane, but we’ve seen that it isn’t.  And by the way … the people who seem most gung-ho for executing criminals are Christians … what happened to that tenet that says it’s not up to humans to decide life and death?


And I’ve saved the best (worst) for last.  The justices ruled that the president has unfettered discretion to fire the head of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB). This should raise your hackles, if you remember the reason the CFPB was created back in 2010.  It was in response to the financial crisis of 2007-2008 caused by reckless speculation, loose credit, and too much debt in asset markets, namely, the housing market.  The purpose of the CFPB was to provide a single point of accountability for enforcing federal consumer financial laws and protecting consumers in the financial marketplace.  It was to promote fairness and transparency for mortgages, credit cards, and other consumer financial products and services and ensure that the financial crisis of 2007-2008 would not be repeated.

Until today’s Supreme Court ruling, the CFPB was an independent agency, not answerable to the president.  In order to ensure the CFPB’s independence, the law creating the agency called for it to be headed by a single director, confirmed by the Senate, who would serve a five-year term and who could only be fired for malfeasance, inefficiency or neglect of duty.  Today, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the conservative wing of the Court, saying that “the structure of the CFPB violates the separation of powers.” 

Bullshit.

The structure was so determined in order to ensure the independence and integrity of the agency.  Think about all the people Donald Trump has fired since the Senate refused to convict him of the crimes he had committed back in February.  He has fired most everyone who was tasked with overseeing his office, with ensuring that he acted properly and in the interest of the nation and its people.  Now, he’s been given another he can fire … the Director of a very important regulatory agency.  It is only a matter of time before Kathy Kraninger, the current Director, is given her walking papers, and someone totally unqualified for the agency position will be put in place to undermine the good work that has been done for the past ten years.

Way to go, John Roberts.  Is there anything else you’d like to give Trump?  Perhaps the authority to rewrite Article II of the U.S. Constitution to say that he can do anything he likes, as he told a group of young people he could do?  Or, perhaps you’d like to simply declare that there will be no more elections in the U.S.?


Independence and integrity in our Supreme Court?  I think not.  The only good decision, in my book, was the abortion decision and it wasn’t done for the right reason, not because John Roberts believes that women have rights, but simply to maintain a precedent.  Apart from that decision, the Court handed Trump presents wrapped in gift paper with pretty bows.  Bah Humbug.

Trump/Putin … Which Is Worse?

I came across this in The Guardian last night and felt it was well worth sharing. It is chilling, and at the same time thought-provoking.


Interview

Masha Gessen: ‘I never thought I’d say it, but Trump is worse than Putin’

Lisa O’Kelly

Four years ago, the author predicted that Trump would transform the US into an autocracy. Now, Gessen believes the country is in a revolutionary moment

Masha Gessen is a Russian-American author and journalist who has been writing about Vladimir Putin and other modern autocrats for two decades. After Donald Trump was elected president of the United States in 2016, they wrote an essay in the New York Review of Books arguing that it was folly to regard him as a regular politician and predicting that he would attempt to transform America into a Putin-style autocracy. Gessen’s new book, Surviving Autocracy, demonstrates how Trump has come closer to achieving autocratic rule than most people would have thought possible.

How do you feel about your predictions having come to pass?

If you look at the essay, I think it holds up awfully well, unfortunately. There’s nothing in it that I would walk back. At the same time, a lot of the things that have happened in the past three years have shocked me.

Such as?

The latest scene with the bible in front of St John’s church, for instance. The iconography of that, including the clearing of the square with tear gas, the Black Hawk helicopters – it was chilling.

Who’s worse, Putin or Trump?

In a way, I think Trump is worse. I never thought I would hear myself say that. They share a lot of characteristics although they are temperamentally extremely different men. They both have this contempt for excellence, they both have a hatred of government, and they both have this way of campaigning against government as such, even as presidents of their respective countries. I think in the end, Putin is somewhat less cynical. He has an idea – it is self-aggrandising and absurd on the face of it – that if he stepped away Russia would fall apart and so he has to carry this burden. And for his labours he deserves to have the yachts and the palaces and all that. But he is doing it for his country. Trump doesn’t even have that delusion. It’s all power and money in their purest form. And you could dig as deep as you want, you would never find a shred of responsibility.

Masha-Gessen

Masha Gessen. Photograph: Christopher Lane/The Observer

Can Americans rely on their institutions – the electoral system, the judiciary, the free press – to save them from Trump’s autocracy?
There’s a way in which Americans think about our institutions as a kind of religion. There’s a faith in the wisdom of the founding fathers who put down these sacred words, this idea that we have the perfect self-repairing system and it will run in perpetuity if we don’t spoil it. The problem is that many of these institutions are enshrined in political culture rather than in law, and all of them depend on the good faith of the people running them to fulfil their purpose and uphold the constitution. So when someone like Trump becomes president, the institutions become vulnerable. As an example, I think we have seen in the last couple of weeks just how effective Trump’s attempts to weaken the national press have been.

How so?
I am talking about the way that the police throughout the country have brutally targeted the media during the Black Lives Matter protests. That’s something that I saw as a foreign correspondent in war zones where there was really no sense of any kind of rules or laws. This happened because for the past four years Trump has been vilifying the media, portraying the media as the enemy of the people, as part of the problem, as part of the great conspiracy to unseat him. And that’s very terrifying.

You were born in Russia, spent your teenage years in America then moved back to Moscow as an adult. Do you feel more Russian or American?
It doesn’t really work that way. But when you have emigrated as often as I have, you learn the benefits of being an outsider. I am very comfortable not belonging. I find it extremely beneficial to my work as a journalist to be highly attuned to this culture yet at the same time hovering outside of it. I do sometimes bristle at this idea people have that my having been born in Russia qualifies me to talk about Donald Trump. I’d rather people said 25 years of studying totalitarianism qualifies me to talk about Donald Trump.

What is the most important rule for surviving autocracy?
For the state of one’s soul, for the state of one’s mind, I think it is absolutely essential to protest and show outrage. Does that have political consequences? Not immediately and not on its own. But I think what we’re seeing in America right now is several steps on from outrage. It’s outrage, plus organising, plus sustained political activity. The big question is how sustained will it be? If it is sustained in some manner, then I think we are in a revolutionary moment. In the book I talk about how in order to actually survive Trump’s attempt at autocracy we have to give up the idea of some imaginary pre-Trumpian normalcy and commit to reinvention. And that is really what these protests are about.

I don’t think there is anyone who is involved who would say: “Oh, we just have to get rid of Trump.” These protests are about the fatal flaw at the root of this democracy and that’s a really upsetting idea for a lot of somewhat conservative commentators. But culturally and politically Americans have a story of being born of protest. These protests are calling for an American reinvention. They are protesting for a more perfect union.

  • Surviving Autocracy by Masha Gessen is published by Granta (£12). To order a copy for go to guardianbookshop.com. Free UK p&p over £15

U.S. readers can check out Mr. Gessen’s book on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Short, Snarky, And To The Point

Yesterday, after the second highest number of new cases of the coronavirus in one day in the U.S., the head-in-the-clouds vice president, Mike Pence, told republican lawmakers to “focus on encouraging signs”.  Never mind that there really aren’t any such encouraging signs.  Pence, like far too many others whose salaries we pay, is naught but a Trump sycophant hoping for a few bits to be thrown his way as long as he rolls over when told and is a good doggie.

Meanwhile, the reality is that cases are on the rise in about 20 states, proving that the push to open businesses back up against the advice of experts was a huge mistake.  Two of those states are the two most recently visited by Trump, Oklahoma and Arizona.  Please, Donnie, stay the hell out of my state!  Nobody wants you!


The three ‘men’ who murdered Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia in February have each been indicted by a grand jury on nine counts, including malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.  If convicted on the murder charges, the defendants face a minimum of life in prison and potentially could face a death sentence.3-assholesLook like a real bunch of winners, don’t they … especially the one on the far right.  This is a positive step, considering I predicted early on that they would receive no more than a slap on the wrist.  However, I am always amazed when I hear someone say this is “justice for Arbery”.  NO … this is justice, yes, but not for Mr. Arbery who is still dead!  It may be a satisfactory ending, if these three assholes are convicted, for Ahmaud’s family, but it is in no way justice for Ahmaud himself.  Justice for him would have been if someone had stepped forward and stopped the heathens from killing him in the first place.


William Barr, undoubtedly on orders of his ‘boss’, has put the U.S. Marshalls on alert and instructed them to be ready to guard national monuments from protestors who might deface or topple them.  So … just to be clear here … a piece of stone representing a man who fought for the right to own other people, aka slaves, is to be protected at all costs, but when it comes to human lives, our government is indifferent.  Remember that, folks … to Trump, Barr and the rest of the regime, you are worth less than a piece of stone, and less than a long-dead racist.  It’s always good to know where we stand in the grand scheme of things. toon


We’re coming into wildfire season out west where rain is scarce this time of year.  Since 2010, there has been a ban on any sort of fireworks at Mount Rushmore, since in years prior to that, wildfires had cropped up as a result of July 4th celebrations that included fireworks.  But, again … lives matter less than show to Donald Trump, and he is determined to hold a celebration at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota this year and he is further determined that it will include a pyrotechnics show.  Mount Rushmore is surrounded by 1,200 acres of forest and lies next to the Black Hills National Forest’s Black Elk Wilderness.Mount-RushmoreTrump has wanted to do this for the past two years, but until this year, his advisors were able to talk him out of it.  This year, most of the adults have left the room and his advisors seem to be all ‘yes-men’, so … the show will go on.  People will be exposed to the coronavirus and new cases will rise in the days following July 4th.  And there is a very real possibility that a devastating forest fire will be started.  All to assuage the ego of a megalomaniac.  I have no idea what this circus act will cost We the Taxpayer, but you can bet it will be a pretty penny.


Well, it looks like the ignoble, criminal Michael Flynn is a free man and likely to stay that way.  A federal appeals court ordered U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan to accept William Barr’s move to pull the plug on the case against Trump’s first national security adviser.  Flynn is guilty, even pleaded guilty, and now he walks free.  But what bothers me most about this is the reason the appeals court gave in its opinion, saying that allowing the case to continue would intrude on the executive branch’s prerogatives to control criminal prosecutions.  WAIT just a damn minute here! toon-flynnThe majority opinion, written by Trump appointee Neomi Rao, went on to say that even scheduling a hearing — as Sullivan had done for next month — was improper under the circumstances because there was no good reason to doubt the government’s decision to reverse course.  No reason to doubt the government???  Seriously???  There is every reason in the world to doubt anything that comes out of either Trump’s or Barr’s mouths!  And since when is it proper for the executive branch to control criminal prosecutions???  The Judicial branch of government is intended to be independent of the executive branch!  What part of the U.S. Constitution does Ms. Rao fail to understand???

How far does this go?  So, if Kellyanne murders her husband, Trump and Barr can order the murder charges against her to be dropped?  Justice?  There is no justice in the United States of Chaos!


And on that note, I shall go try to stop the steam coming from my ears.steam-venting

Freedom of Speech??? Give Me The BOOK!!!

Oh no no no no no no no no no!!!!  Just NO! The headline reads …

Trump Administration Sues to Try to Delay Publication of Bolton’s Book

Has the United States Department of Justice ever heard of the First Amendment?  Have they heard of the Right to Free Speech?  Have they heard the term “Freedom of the Press”???  William Barr is a @#$% son of a bitch, and Donald Trump is unspeakably worse!

The story, according to the New York Times

The Trump administration sued the former national security adviser John R. Bolton on Tuesday to try to delay publication of his highly anticipated memoir about his time in the White House, saying the book contained classified information that would compromise national security if it became public.

The book, “The Room Where It Happened,” is set for release on June 23. Administration officials have repeatedly warned Mr. Bolton against publishing it.

Mr. Bolton made clear in a statement this week that his book contained explosive details about his time at the White House. He and Mr. Trump clashed on significant policy issues like Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan, and in his book, Mr. Bolton also confirmed accusations at the heart of the Democratic impeachment case over the president’s dealings with Ukraine, according to details from his manuscript previously reported by The New York Times.

First, it is highly doubtful that John Bolton is stupid enough to include any “classified information that would compromise national security” in his book.  And even if he did … remember that Donald Trump himself did that exact thing on numerous occasions:

  • Trump discussed classified information provided by a U.S. ally regarding a planned Islamic State operation during an Oval Office meeting on May 10, 2017 with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, providing sufficient details that could be used by the Russians to deduce the identity of the ally and the manner in which it was collected.

  • In an April 29, 2017, phone call, Trump told Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte that the U.S. had positioned two nuclear submarines off the coast of North Korea. This was during a time when Trump was warning of a possible “major, major conflict” with North Korea. The locations of nuclear submarines are a closely guarded secret, even from the Navy command itself.

  • On May 24, 2017, Britain strongly objected to the United States leaking to the press information about the Manchester Arena bombing, including the identity of the attacker and a picture of the bomb, before it had been publicly disclosed, jeopardizing the investigation. British Prime Minister Theresa May issued a public rebuke, and British police said they would stop passing information to U.S. counterparts.

  • In July 2017, after a private meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin at the 2017 G20 Hamburg summit, Trump took the unusual step of confiscating and keeping his interpreter’s notes. This led U.S. intelligence officials to express concern that Trump “may have improperly discussed classified intelligence with Russia.”

  • On August 30, 2019, Trump tweeted a reportedly classified image of recent damage to an Iranian missile site that supposedly occurred as a result of an explosion during testing. Multiple concerns were raised regarding the public release of what appeared to be a surveillance photo with exceptionally high resolution, revealing highly classified U.S. surveillance capabilities.

I’m sure there are more, but these are the ones I’m aware of.  And frankly, the only thing that is likely to be ‘compromised’ by the release of this book is Donald Trump’s reputation, and that is already in the sewer.  Every person in this nation is paying for this government … we have the right to know what the ‘leaders’ are doing!

John Bolton has written a book about his time in the Trump administration.  According to the synopsis on Amazon …

cover of John Bolton's bookWhat Bolton saw astonished him: a President for whom getting reelected was the only thing that mattered, even if it meant endangering or weakening the nation. “I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn’t driven by reelection calculations,” he writes.

He shows a President addicted to chaos, who embraced our enemies and spurned our friends, and was deeply suspicious of his own government.

“The differences between this presidency and previous ones I had served were stunning,” writes Bolton, who worked for Reagan, Bush 41, and Bush 43. He discovered a President who thought foreign policy is like closing a real estate deal—about personal relationships, made-for-TV showmanship, and advancing his own interests. As a result, the US lost an opportunity to confront its deepening threats, and in cases like China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea ended up in a more vulnerable place.

The reality is that it’s doubtful Trump & Co can stop the book’s release on Tuesday, and even if they did … the cat is already out of the bag.  On Sunday, ABC News will air an interview between Bolton and Martha Radditz that will provide wide insight into the book.  And, enough has been leaked already, such as these key points listed in The Guardian:

  • Trump pleaded with China to help win the 2020 election
  • Trump suggested he was open to serving more than two terms
  • Trump offered favors to dictators
  • Trump praised Xi for China’s internment camps
  • Trump defended Saudi Arabia to distract from a story about Ivanka
  • Trump’s top staff mocked him behind his back
  • Trump thought Finland was part of Russia
  • Trump thought it would be ‘cool’ to invade Venezuela

None of these should surprise us, given all that we’ve seen and heard over the past 3+ years, but nonetheless, these are not things we expect, or should have to tolerate, of the ‘leader’ of our nation.

Make no mistake … I don’t like John Bolton … he is a warmonger, which was precisely why Trump hired him.  But, he worked within the Trump administration for a year-and-a-half, and I’m very interested in what he has to say.  More importantly, we don’t ban books in this country … We the People have a right to read Mr. Bolton’s book, and read it we shall, one way or another.

It’s the Guns, Stupid

I did not intend to post a fourth post tonight, but … on reading Jeff’s post, I felt I had to. His words speak for themselves, and for the record, I am in 100% agreement with every word. We are the creators of our own doom … the love of guns in this country is greater than the love of life. Thank you, Jeff … great post!

On The Fence Voters

I was never a fan of President Ronald Reagan and can proudly say that I never voted for him. But he did possess an ability during his time in office for communicating a hopeful tone to the American people. They used to call him “The Great Communicator.”

One of his most famous rhetorical flourishes focused around his belief that when he thought about America, he felt that it was that “shining city upon a hill.” Reagan borrowed the analogous quote from John Winthrop, the first governor of Massachusetts, who upon setting sail for New England in 1630, reflected on his hopes for what would come to signify American exceptionalism; that we would be the moral compass and example for the rest of the world.

Let’s say that these days, that “shining city” is beginning to look more like an abandoned town, with rubble and burned out facades dotting the landscape…

View original post 1,241 more words

89 Former Defense Officials Speak

The following is a letter published in The Washington Post yesterday, written and signed by 89 former Defense officials.  The letter speaks for itself …


President Trump continues to use inflammatory language as many Americans protest the unlawful death of George Floyd and the unjust treatment of black Americans by our justice system. As the protests have grown, so has the intensity of the president’s rhetoric. He has gone so far as to make a shocking promise: to send active-duty members of the U.S. military to “dominate” protesters in cities throughout the country — with or without the consent of local mayors or state governors.

On Monday, the president previewed his approach on the streets of Washington. He had 1,600 troops from around the country transported to the D.C. area, and placed them on alert, as an unnamed Pentagon official put it, “to ensure faster employment if necessary.” As part of the show of force that Trump demanded, military helicopters made low-level passes over peaceful protesters — a military tactic sometimes used to disperse enemy combatants — scattering debris and broken glass among the crowd. He also had a force, including members of the National Guard and federal officers, that used flash-bang grenades, pepper spray and, according to eyewitness accounts, rubber bullets to drive lawful protesters, as well as members of the media and clergy, away from the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church. All so he could hold a politically motivated photo op there with members of his team, including, inappropriately, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Looting and violence are unacceptable acts, and perpetrators should be arrested and duly tried under the law. But as Monday’s actions near the White House demonstrated, those committing such acts are largely on the margins of the vast majority of predominantly peaceful protests. While several past presidents have called on our armed services to provide additional aid to law enforcement in times of national crisis — among them Ulysses S. Grant, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson — these presidents used the military to protect the rights of Americans, not to violate them.

As former leaders in the Defense Department — civilian and military, Republican, Democrat and independent — we all took an oath upon assuming office “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” as did the president and all members of the military, a fact that Gen. Milley pointed out in a recent memorandum to members of the armed forces. We are alarmed at how the president is betraying this oath by threatening to order members of the U.S. military to violate the rights of their fellow Americans.

President Trump has given governors a stark choice: either end the protests that continue to demand equal justice under our laws, or expect that he will send active-duty military units into their states. While the Insurrection Act gives the president the legal authority to do so, this authority has been invoked only in the most extreme conditions when state or local authorities were overwhelmed and were unable to safeguard the rule of law. Historically, as Secretary Esper has pointed out, it has rightly been seen as a tool of last resort.

Beyond being unnecessary, using our military to quell protests across the country would also be unwise. This is not the mission our armed forces signed up for: They signed up to fight our nation’s enemies and to secure — not infringe upon — the rights and freedoms of their fellow Americans. In addition, putting our servicemen and women in the middle of politically charged domestic unrest risks undermining the apolitical nature of the military that is so essential to our democracy. It also risks diminishing Americans’ trust in our military — and thus America’s security — for years to come.

As defense leaders who share a deep commitment to the Constitution, to freedom and justice for all Americans, and to the extraordinary men and women who volunteer to serve and protect our nation, we call on the president to immediately end his plans to send active-duty military personnel into cities as agents of law enforcement, or to employ them or any another military or police forces in ways that undermine the constitutional rights of Americans. The members of our military are always ready to serve in our nation’s defense. But they must never be used to violate the rights of those they are sworn to protect.

Leon E. Panetta, former defense secretary

Chuck Hagel, former defense secretary

Ashton B. Carter, former defense secretary

William S. Cohen, former defense secretary

Sasha Baker, former deputy chief of staff to the defense secretary

Donna Barbisch, retired major general in the U.S. Army

Jeremy Bash, chief of staff to the defense secretary

Jeffrey P. Bialos, former deputy under secretary of defense for industrial affairs

Susanna V. Blume, former deputy chief of staff to the deputy defense secretary

Ian Brzezinski, former deputy assistant defense secretary for Europe and NATO

Gabe Camarillo, former assistant secretary of the Air Force

Kurt M. Campbell, former deputy assistant defense secretary for Asia and the Pacific

Michael Carpenter, former deputy assistant defense secretary for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia

Rebecca Bill Chavez, former deputy assistant defense secretary for Western hemisphere affairs

Derek Chollet, former assistant defense secretary for international security affairs

Dan Christman, retired lieutenant general in the U.S. Army and former assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

James Clapper, former under secretary of defense for intelligence and director of national intelligence

Eliot A. Cohen, former member of planning staff for the defense department and former member of the Defense Policy Board

Erin Conaton, former under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness

John Conger, former principal deputy under secretary of defense

Peter S. Cooke, retired major general of the U.S. Army Reserve

Richard Danzig, former secretary of the U.S. Navy

Janine Davidson, former under secretary of the U.S. Navy

Robert L. Deitz, former general counsel at the National Security Agency

Abraham M. Denmark, former deputy assistant defense secretary for East Asia

Michael B. Donley, former secretary of the U.S. Air Force

John W. Douglass, retired brigadier general in the U.S. Air Force and former assistant secretary of the U.S. Navy

Raymond F. DuBois, former acting under secretary of the U.S. Army

Eric Edelman, former under secretary of defense for policy

Eric Fanning, former secretary of the U.S. Army

Evelyn N. Farkas, former deputy assistant defense secretary for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia

Michèle A. Flournoy, former under secretary of defense for policy

Nelson M. Ford, former under secretary of the U.S. Army

Alice Friend, former principal director for African affairs in the office of the under defense secretary for policy

John A. Gans Jr., former speechwriter for the defense secretary

Sherri Goodman, former deputy under secretary of defense for environmental security

André Gudger, former deputy assistant defense secretary for manufacturing and industrial base policy

Robert Hale, former under secretary of defense and Defense Department comptroller

Michael V. Hayden, retired general in the U.S. Air Force and former director of the National Security Agency and CIA

Mark Hertling, retired lieutenant general in the U.S. Army and former commanding general of U.S. Army Europe

Kathleen H. Hicks, former principal deputy under secretary of defense for policy

Deborah Lee James, former secretary of the U.S. Air Force

John P. Jumper, retired general of the U.S. Air Force and former chief of staff of the Air Force

Colin H. Kahl, former deputy assistant defense secretary for Middle East policy

Mara E. Karlin, former deputy assistant defense secretary for strategy and force development

Frank Kendall, former under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics

Susan Koch, former deputy assistant defense secretary for threat-reduction policy

Ken Krieg, former under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics

William Leonard, former deputy assistant defense secretary for security and information operations

Steven J. Lepper, retired major general of the U.S. Air Force

George Little, former Pentagon press secretary

William J. Lynn III, former deputy defense secretary

Ray Mabus, former secretary of the U.S. Navy and former governor of Mississippi

Kelly Magsamen, former principal deputy assistant defense secretary for Asian and Pacific security affairs

Carlos E. Martinez, retired brigadier general of the U.S. Air Force Reserve

Michael McCord, former under secretary of defense and Defense Department comptroller

Chris Mellon, former deputy assistant defense secretary for intelligence

James N. Miller, former under secretary of defense for policy

Edward T. Morehouse Jr., former principal deputy assistant defense secretary and former acting assistant defense secretary for operational energy plans and programs

Jamie Morin, former director of cost assessment and program evaluation at the Defense Department and former acting under secretary of the U.S. Air Force

Jennifer M. O’Connor, former general counsel of the Defense Department

Sean O’Keefe, former secretary of the U.S. Navy

Dave Oliver, former principal deputy under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics

Robert B. Pirie, former under secretary of the U.S. Navy

John Plumb, former acting deputy assistant defense secretary for space policy

Eric Rosenbach, former assistant defense secretary for homeland defense and global security

Deborah Rosenblum, former acting deputy assistant defense secretary for counternarcotics

Todd Rosenblum, acting assistant defense secretary for homeland defense and Americas’ security affairs

Tommy Ross, former deputy assistant defense secretary for security cooperation

Henry J. Schweiter, former deputy assistant defense secretary

David B. Shear, former assistant defense secretary for Asian and Pacific security affairs

Amy E. Searight, former deputy assistant defense secretary for South and Southeast Asia

Vikram J. Singh, former deputy assistant defense secretary for South and Southeast Asia

Julianne Smith, former deputy national security adviser to the vice president and former principal director for Europe and NATO policy

Paula Thornhill, retired brigadier general of the Air Force and former principal director for Near Eastern and South Asian affairs

Jim Townsend, former deputy assistant defense secretary for Europe and NATO policy

Sandy Vershbow, former assistant defense secretary for international security affairs

Michael Vickers, former under secretary of defense for intelligence

Celeste Wallander, former deputy assistant defense secretary for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia

Andrew Weber, former assistant defense secretary for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs

William F. Wechsler, former deputy assistant defense secretary for special operations and combating terrorism

Doug Wilson, former assistant defense secretary for public affairs

Anne A. Witkowsky, former deputy assistant defense secretary for stability and humanitarian affairs

Douglas Wise, former deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency

Daniel P. Woodward, retired brigadier general of the U.S. Air Force

Margaret H. Woodward, retired major general of the U.S. Air Force

Carl Woog, former deputy assistant to the defense secretary for communications

Robert O. Work, former deputy defense secretary

Dov S. Zakheim, former under secretary of defense and Defense Department comptroller

A Wiser Man Speaks …

mattisGeneral James Norman Mattis served 44 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, commanding forces in the Persian Gulf War, the War in Afghanistan, and the Iraq War.  After his retirement, Mattis served as the 26th U.S. Secretary of Defense from January 2017 through January 2019.  His resignation came about as a result of Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria, leaving the area vulnerable, but Mattis had disagreed with Trump on a number of issues before, such as pulling out of the Iran nuclear agreement.  I have tremendous respect for General Mattis, and thus I am sharing an OpEd he wrote that was published in The Atlantic yesterday.


In Union There Is Strength

I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled. The words “Equal Justice Under Law” are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation.

When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens—much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.

We must reject any thinking of our cities as a “battlespace” that our uniformed military is called upon to “dominate.” At home, we should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare occasions, by state governors. Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict—a false conflict— between the military and civilian society. It erodes the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and the society they are sworn to protect, and of which they themselves are a part. Keeping public order rests with civilian state and local leaders who best understand their communities and are answerable to them.

James Madison wrote in Federalist 14 that “America united with a handful of troops, or without a single soldier, exhibits a more forbidding posture to foreign ambition than America disunited, with a hundred thousand veterans ready for combat.” We do not need to militarize our response to protests. We need to unite around a common purpose. And it starts by guaranteeing that all of us are equal before the law.

Instructions given by the military departments to our troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that “The Nazi slogan for destroying us…was ‘Divide and Conquer.’ Our American answer is ‘In Union there is Strength.’” We must summon that unity to surmount this crisis—confident that we are better than our politics.

Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.

We can come through this trying time stronger, and with a renewed sense of purpose and respect for one another. The pandemic has shown us that it is not only our troops who are willing to offer the ultimate sacrifice for the safety of the community. Americans in hospitals, grocery stores, post offices, and elsewhere have put their lives on the line in order to serve their fellow citizens and their country. We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square. We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution. At the same time, we must remember Lincoln’s “better angels,” and listen to them, as we work to unite.

Only by adopting a new path—which means, in truth, returning to the original path of our founding ideals—will we again be a country admired and respected at home and abroad.

James Mattis