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Republicans: “We are only following the people’s orders!


In the argument over whether the Democratic candidates for president should focus on issues or on Trump’s aberrant character, I think it’s not either-or. It’s both. But I certainly think Trump’s character should be a major part of the candidates’ speeches.

While it’s true that there are plenty of issues to focus on—immigration, healthcare, the environment, global warming, LGBTQ discrimination, taxes, women’s reproductive rights, nuclear proliferation—the main thing Democrats have going for them is a generalized understanding in the electorate, including many Republicans, that there’s something deeply, morally corrupt about Trump as a person. Parents may envy his money, they may like his judicial appointments, but they would never ask their children to view him as a role model, nor would they allow their daughters to be left alone with him if they’re his “type”–and we all know what that is.

I routinely come under attack from rightwing extremist websites like Breitbart for calling for Nuremberg-style Trials for Republican leadership, from Trump on down to cockroaches like Devin Nunes. The thing to understand about Nuremberg is that those trials were not so much criminal in nature as political. It’s true that the Allies charged the Nazi defendants with crimes, including war crimes. That decision was controversial then, and remains controversial today in legal-jurisprudential circles, because the indicted “crimes” were in large measure invented by the victors in the War—the Allies Great Britain, the Soviet Union and the U.S.A. The Germans argued, with some credibility, that the “crimes against humanity” for which they were indicted were more or less the same kinds of “crimes” the Allies committed, the difference being that the victors got to define the terms of the game. Was the mass murder of Jews different in essence from the mass murder of Japanese in Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

I don’t propose to wade into that thicket. My point is the political nature of Nuremberg. The Germans were correct in stating that the victors always get to define the terms imposed upon the vanquished. Had Germany won, Hitler might well have arrested Eisenhower, Montgomery, Averell Harriman, Harry Hopkins and Anthony Eden—not to mention FDR and Churchill, if they could catch them—and tried them for war crimes and crimes against humanity. That didn’t happen, of course, but Nuremberg did represent political payback for German leaders who had caused so much distress and death in the world. That’s the nature of politics: “to the victor go the spoils” or, put another way, “elections have consequences.”

This is what I mean by Nuremberg-style trials for Republicans. Their underlying crime is destruction of the domestic tranquility of the United States. That isn’t a crime you’ll find listed in any official Code, like tax fraud, arson or espionage. But it is a crime because it has caused so many Americans and others to suffer needlessly, and it is additionally a crime because it violates the norms of American history, which are the guardrails that protect our freedoms. What Trump has done is a thing Republicans did not have to do. What Republicans have done is a crime they well understood was wrong. It is a crime for which I’m sure they came under intense criticism even from their own families and inner circles. It is a crime they did with malice aforethought. It is a crime they did out of vengeance against Democrats and elected Democratic leaders, out of resentment for tens of millions of Americans whom they hate, and out of sheer political and financial opportunism. It is a crime which violated their own self-professed moral beliefs.

Why did they commit it? Because they blindly and obediently followed an evil man, Donald J. Trump, whom they knew to be unfit to govern—a man whom their own religions defined as wicked. This is not a defense, of course; it is an explanation. For what Republicans have done and continue to do, there can be no defense, and this is why we require Nuremberg-style trials. Somebody has to be blamed; somebody has to accept responsibility for this catastrophe into which America has been plunged.

The Nazis at Nuremberg argued along the ridiculous lines: “To begin with, nothing bad happened in Europe under our watch. And if it did, nobody here knew anything about it. And if we did know about it, we were simply following orders.” They expected the Justices to buy that nonsense! Obviously, the Justices didn’t, and as a final result, many Germans were hung by the neck until dead.

Now we have Republicans offering similar defenses. “We did nothing wrong! The American people elected Trump; we are simply carrying out their will!” Well, we—the American people—aren’t buying it. Senior Republicans will be made to pay the penalty for what they have done: the most destructive attack on our founding values since the South seceded. Republicans must, in the name of everything America has ever stood for, be brought to justice. Decency and morality will settle for nothing less!

Release the Mueller Report now!


Democrats are right not to sit back and agree with Trump that the Mueller Report has vindicated Trump and nothing more needs to be done, as Republicans wish. In fact, Democrats are doing exactly what they should be doing: resisting.

We have no idea what the Report says. All we have is a cursory “conclusion” by a biased Republican operative, Barr, that lets Trump off the hook. We cannot and will not accept that propaganda. The thing to understand is that the Trump regime is based on lies. Lie after brazen lie, stated with a straight face in the knowledge that his conservative base is too stupid to see through the fakery. That base will accept anything immoral, illegal,ugly, as long as they feel that their brand of white supremacy is ascendant.

For that is what’s happening. I’m almost 73 years old, older probably than most of my readers, and I’ve been watching this Republican Party for a long time. For decades, they’ve been trying to figure out how they can whiten and Christianize America. For this reason they’ve demonized people of color. They’ve hated on gays, on religions other than their interpretation of Christian, on immigrants (who tend to be people of color), on idealists who believe that America can and should be a rainbow flag welcoming all people. (This is why they call people like AOC “unrealistic.”) Republicans have made it perfectly clear: they want our citizenry to be composed only of Caucasians who are straight conservative Christians. As for everybody else, they can be damned. There’s no place for them in a Republican America.

And in Donald J. Trump, they have found the perfect Fuhrer.

That’s a loaded word: Fuhrer. I use it with great deliberation. Donald J. Trump, who supposedly knows little about history and doesn’t care to read books, has carefully studied at least one part of history: the rise of Adolf Hitler. He understands how Hitler manipulated the average German’s fears and apprehensions. He knows how incendiary rhetoric can stir the unintelligent masses, moving them hither and yon like checkers on a board. He has the native New Yorker’s instinct for the perfectly aimed insult, the barb that reduces its victim to a figure of ridicule. He knows, too, that the “laws” are for others, not for him, if he can get away with it.

Which this Republican Party has so far allowed him to do. Isn’t it interesting that every time a Republican politician retires, he or she suddenly finds it possible to criticize Trump? He’s not liked even in his own party; Meghan McCain said it perfectly when she told him he’ll never be loved like her father was loved. That’s putting it mildly.

So we must have one aim at this time: Get the full, uncensored Mueller Report out! Seventy percent of the American people want it. Donald J. Trump doesn’t (despite his lie that he wouldn’t mind if it were released). That’s a lot of momentum behind our demand. Republicans can’t keep this hushed up for much longer. Get it out, so we can continue connecting the dots that ultimately will prove to be Trump’s downfall, and the downfall of his kleptomaniacal family.

Have a wonderful weekend!

After a couple bad days, Dems are back in the saddle!

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During all the years I practiced karatedo, I did a lot of fighting, and one thing you learn when you do martial arts is that you’re going to get hit (or kicked) a lot. You hope you also will do at least as much damage to your opponent as he does to you. But the ultimate achievement of a karate fighter is to be able to get back on your feet after you’ve been struck a blow, ready to resume the battle with gusto and determination. That’s grit.

This past week has reminded me of my fighting days. The Barr Letter on the Mueller Report was a hard blow for us Democrats. It was a gut punch. No collusion! No obstruction of justice that could be proven! Trump on the rampage, falsely claiming he had been vindicated, and his base like angry, stinging wasps, on a sugar high of victory, rubbing it in Democrats’ faces.

It hurt.

Well, we had the wind kicked out of us for a spell. But my lessons from karate returned to inspire me. In the words of the old Fred Astaire song,

Nothing’s impossible I have found,
For when my chin is on the ground,
I pick myself up,
Dust myself off,
Start all over again.

We’ve now had four days since Sunday, when we got the bad news. And what remarkable days they’ve been. I wondered early on if this was it for The Resistance. It was hard for me to watch the news on T.V., or even get news alerts on my phone. The Republican gloating, for which to some extent they were justified, was galling.

But now, the scene is shifting. Democrats are regaining our momentum. Yes, we were down and out for a moment or two, but we “picked ourselves up and dusted ourselves off” and faced our opponent again. And I believe, sincerely from the bottom of my heart, we have retaken the initiative.

Americans are still prevented from reading the full Mueller Report because Republicans—mainly McConnell, obviously on Trump’s order—won’t let us. This is an overwhelming fact. By now, everybody realizes that the Barr letter was written by a partisan Trump lackey. Barr, who shamelessly auditioned for his job by fluffing Trump, had little credibility before this episode. Following it, he has none. Democrats have a very easy task before the American public. All we have to do is ask the simple question: What is Trump afraid of?

The American people understand the premise of this question. They know that if Trump really believes the Report is exculpatory he would immediately release it in full. If he doesn’t, it proves that he does not believe it’s exculpatory. It must contain dark, sinister truths that would refocus the spotlight of suspicion upon him and his family.

And this is why Democrats have retaken the initiative. The public is primed to believe that Trump colluded with the Russians and then tried to cover it up. We’ve had two years of evidence, two years of facts delivered over and over again, two years in which one shocking revelation after another came to us proving malice aforethought on Trump’s part. Republicans did their best to deny it, but the facts burst forth with tsunami power. Most Americans still believe that Trump did all sorts of bad things, and that is precisely what Democrats have going for them.

This is why I agree with people as different as Morning Joe and former Attorney General Eric Holder. Scarborough stated the obvious when he observed that even after the Barr propaganda, “Nobody knows anything.” That’s right. Democrats must insist that Barr’s words contain not a shred of truth, as long as he refuses to release the complete Report.

As for Holder, “It would be irresponsible for DOJ to hold on to this kind of information — for any reason,” he said. There’s information in that Report that will give added fuel to House Democratic Committee chairpersons in their investigations. It will not take much to convince the American people that this is far from over. The rightwingers at Breitbart will never be convinced—they’re beyond the fringe. But we no longer care about them. They’ve made themselves irrelevant by their tolerance of an amoral regime.

And so let the fight continue. Let Schumer lead Senate Democrats; let Speaker Pelosi lead House Democrats; let truth rally American Democrats. There can be no doubt that something evil has possessed Republicans. At the same time, we can never doubt the essential decency of America. We remain the country of FDR, JFK and Obama, optimistic, idealistic, hopeful. We currently reside in the shade of an autocratic, foul regime, but our history shows that we can overcome this dark episode. The Resistance continues, more empowered than ever.

Bringing Republicans to justice


That Trump and his gang will eventually be brought to justice, there can be no doubt. I offer no proof of this conjecture, except for my strong feeling that America will eventually return to her senses.

The parallels between the Nazis and this regime are extensive. Both arose under similar circumstances, using similar methods of propaganda, coercion and lies. The end of the Trump regime may well resemble the end of the Hitler regime, which I describe below.

Once the Allies knew they were going to win the war (sometime around 1943), the question arose of what to do with the leading Nazis, both in civil government and in the military. There was substantial debate in the Allied countries: Russia, America and Great Britain. At one point Roosevelt, for the U.S., and Stalin, for the Soviet Union, seemed to favor the summary execution of up to 50,000 Nazi leaders. They felt that organizing an international trial would be too complicated and time-consuming, and anyway, so much was known by then about the extent of Nazi atrocities that trials were unnecessary.

Churchill, for Great Britain, objected. The British people, he said indignantly, would never stand for such mass executions. Stalin and Roosevelt backed off. It can never be known whether they had previously been “joking” about the 50,000 (as Stalin later claimed), or if they’d been serious. At any rate, the decision was made in favor of the trials, which were held after the war in Nuremberg, Germany.

There were several sets of trials: for instance, one for the lesser military leaders and one for the industrialists who manufactured the tanks, airplanes and machine guns that fueled the Nazi war effort. But the most spectacular trial of all was of the leading war criminals, who included such infamous figures as Goering, Hess, Streicher, von Ribbentrop, Kaltenbrunner, and Generals Keitel and Jodl.

There were four counts in the indictments of the war criminals: conspiracy to commit crimes alleged in other counts (such as breaking peace treaties and planning for war); crimes against peace; war crimes; and crimes against humanity. Of the 21 major defendants, three were acquitted. The rest received sentences ranging from ten years imprisonment to death by hanging.

The question now before us is how to deal with Republican criminals, when we have decisively beaten them. Letting the major ones go scott-free cannot be an option, not after all the harm they have caused. Vengeance will be for rounding them up and imprisoning them, perhaps at Guantanamo, but this is not the American way. There must be trials. The logical place to hold such trials is in Washington, D.C., perhaps at the Supreme Court. The judges should not be the Supreme Court Justices appointed by Republicans, however, because of their obvious ideological prejudice. That leaves four Justices; they might be joined by appropriate political officials of national stature (Governors, Senators, leading members of the Congress), and by other leaders of national reputation. Not all need be lawyers.

Who should the defendants be, and how many? Obviously Trump himself (if he’s alive), as well as Pence and the entire Trump cabinet and sub-cabinet. The entire West Wing White House staff, too, especially the communications officers; spreading propaganda was a major indictment at Nuremberg, and it should be in this case. Then there are the Republican Senators and Representatives who have been strongest in backing Trump up: Devin Nunes, Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy are prime examples. Certain former Congressmen should also be tried: certainly Paul Ryan.

They would not be charged with war crimes, or with crimes against humanity, since there were no official murders that we know of. But they should be charged with crimes contained in other counts (for instance, perjury, obstruction of justice, aiding and abetting election fraud) and crimes against domestic tranquility. It will not be hard for prosecutors to cite the legal framework for such charges.

I would expect “guilty” sentences in most if not all cases. As for the penalties, no one would be sentenced to death. The appropriate punishments will be lengthy prison sentences, the exact terms of which will be determined by each defendant’s criminal activity. I personally have no problem with life sentences for individuals such as Trump, Pence, and the higher-ranking Cabinet officials. The American military is another matter. In the trial’s testimonial evidence, the jurists would have to figure out exactly what key military officers, including the Joint Chiefs, said and did. Did they mindlessly enable Trump? Did they express reservations against his immoral rule? Did they stop the more radical of his foreign adventures? It may be that the military does get off scott-free, but much investigatory work has to be done.

After the trials, America will need a period of time to heal. Germany took many years to recover its balance. The German people themselves were split for decades as to their own culpability, and the fairness of the Nuremberg trials, and whether or not the trials were legal to begin with. In many respects, it can be said that Germans did not sort all this out until the World War II generation died out. It may well be that America will have to wait for Trump era Republicans to die out, before we can recover.

The Post-Mueller period begins now


I will admit to being greatly disappointed with the Mueller Report. I don’t understand why he didn’t indict Jared and Junior. I don’t understand why he punted—kicked the can down the road and left it to Trump’s Justice Department to pursue. Trump’s Justice Department, run by Republican operatives? Really?

Still, the operative sentence in his Report is that he’s not exonerating Trump. Trump, of course, immediately claimed that Mueller did exonerate him. That’s a lie. The facts directly contradict it. But what’s a fact to a Trump voter?

Two questions: Where do House Democrats go from here? And where does the Democratic base (including me) go?

Answering the second question first, we lick our wounds and continue the fight. Like the old Fred Astaire song says, “Pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again.” It was a tough weekend. First we were shocked there would be no further indictments. Then came Barr’s four-page letter in which he crowed about his boss. No collusion! No obstruction! And then, of course, Trump himself, repeating the party line. This was hard on us. We’d been counting on the Mueller Report and it let us down. The thing to keep in mind, though, is that this whole sordid period of Trump and Trumpism has been a reality T.V. show, with plot twists and unexpected developments. Sometimes Trump is up; sometimes we’re up; many days are draws. Trump is currently up. But the series isn’t over. It’s only the end of Season Two. So Dems must keep hope alive.

As for House Democrats, I say, Investigate, investigate, investigate. Trump has not, repeat not been cleared of obstruction of justice. We have to see the entire Mueller Report–most Americans agree. Democrats must keep on repeating that mantra, because Trump will keep saying that he has been cleared of everything. Dems must point out the lie. The American public—Republicans included—already knows that Trump is a pathological liar, so pointing out that he’s lying again (“Total exoneration!”) will be easy.

It’s important also for all of us to remember that we joined The Resistance and were against Trump and Trumpism well before we knew anything about Russiagate. We were against him because of his moral turpitude. Washington Democrats, including the presidential candidates, have to press this case forward—the utter unfitness of this moral derelict to be president, to lead the American people. We have to be relentless in reminding voters of the sexual affairs, the Access Hollywood tape, the 8,000 lies, the insults, the vulgrarity, everything contemptible about this vile man. We have to keep on reminding Americans how much they detest him. Trump consistently loses on the character issues: trustworthy, tells the truth, is honest. There’s nothing he can do about that: it’s baked into the cake.

The worst thing for Democrats to do is to roll over. Forget about calls for centrism, for “Can’t we all get along?” pleas. The hard truth is that, No, we can’t all get along. There’s something evil in the Republican Party. On endless occasions I’ve written about the many parallels between America’s Republicans today and Germany’s Nazis in the 1930s. These parallels are clearer now than ever. In some respects this Mueller Report has been Trump’s Reichstag fire: the excuse he’s been looking for to crack down and become ever more intolerant. We can expect some very serious moves from Trump against the press, against liberals, against the Democratic candidates. He’s emboldened. And he’s pissed. A pissed off, emboldened Trump is a supremely dangerous Trump. He generally shows good judgment in knowing how far he can go without getting into trouble, but he’s at some risk now of overreaching. We don’t know precisely what he’ll do, but we have to watch him mindfully, all the time, and call him out at each opportunity. And we have to stay united.

This latter requirement is going to be tough. Democrats are dispirited, and a saddened party is a weakened party. The splits between the various factions in the Democratic Party, already apparent, are likely to turn into open fissures. By all means let the candidates thrash it out on the campaign trail, but let them at the same time talk to their supporters and urge unity, unity, unity! And civility, civility, civility! We dare not let the party descend into the intramural spit fest it sank into during the Hillary-Bernie period. Going forward on this blog, that will be one of my most important stress points. Unity!

So, Democrats, have some cocoa, take a puff off the doobie, watch some good T.V. and recover. We’ve taken a blow. We’re down, but not out. The good fight continues; The Resistance remains alive and relevant.

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