“A Clear and Present Danger”
“We’re far past the point where it matters whether President Trump is an ignorant and destructive fool or operates as some sort of agent of the Russian Federation. The upshot appears to be the same.”
– Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo
Pay attention to the big story: Russia used the 2016 election to make Donald Trump president*. The the GOP capitulated, first embracing Trump, now embracing Russia. Trump is returning Russia’s favor, consistently doing the things that bring joy to Vladimir Putin’s blackened heart – dividing our country, destroying our alliances, dismantling our democracy.
When we talk to the staffs of our Members of Congress, we always hear the same thing: we’re waiting for the Mueller investigation to be completed. Our answer increasingly is: how much evidence do you need to confront a crisis? And – what will you do? Or will you leave it all to Mueller? Never mind whether we have the votes to impeach. You still have a voice. Use it! Because the big picture needs to be in the public’s eye. And right now it’s getting obscured by the daily tumble of crises, much of it Trump’s doing.
Trump’s goal is to become dictator and he’s pulling every lever he can to get and keep unlimited power. He is the danger that our Founders warned us about, the reason they wrote the Declaration, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Trump is the quintessence of unAmerican, one who would destroy every freedom this country was founded to protect.
Our Founders foresaw and feared this danger, so they created separate branches of government. But the Republicans in Congress, instead of controlling Trump, are joining in his desire for an authoritarian state. The danger has metastasized to two branches of government. With Trump’s Supreme Court pick at hand, the third may be ready to fall.
That’s the crisis we confront as we work to stem the tide of attacks on our people and our democracy and simultaneously work to take back Congress. The stakes couldn’t possibly be higher. The survival of the nation that has been handed down to us hangs by a filament.
Hold the big picture, don’t get lost in the details.
Don’t give up or check out. They won’t stop. Neither can we.
(Yes, take breaks, care for yourself. But come back to the fight as soon as you can.)
Remember: they couldn’t be more wrong. About everything. There’s power in the heritage and the promise of America. That power is ours. It’s in what we’re fighting for – and what they’re working to destroy.
Don’t forget that we’re the majority.
Beware of false dichotomies. Such as: “Are we against Trump or for something?” “Do we fight for the Supreme Court/the children/healthcare now or focus on the election?” They. Are. Not Separate. Things. If your dad beats your mom, are you against his abuse or for her safety? Should you focus on protecting her now or getting all of you out of there later when he’s gone? You have to do it all.
Lastly, insist that our leaders speak up and that they fight. Every. Single. Day.
In the News
- Health and Human Services is failing to reunite the 101 children under the age of five with their parents by the deadline, this coming Tuesday. They’re not even trying (their lawyer claimed that she had “dog-sitting duties in Colorado over the weekend”, so couldn’t meet until Monday, as toddlers languished). Behind this lies the danger that the regime is pushing for the right to hold families indefinitely – and Republicans in Congress may be willing to pass legislation to do just that. We have to continue to apply maximum pressure, because they’re not going to stop.
- (Certainly it’s not lost on the world that when Thai children are in danger, they do everything they can to rescue them. When we place children in danger, Trump goes golfing.)
- Seven Republican Senators journeyed to the mothership, Russia, for the Fourth of July. Putin was too busy to meet with them, but they managed to prostrate themselves anyway. Now they want to – guess what? – lift sanctions. Who could have seen that coming?
- Meanwhile, the Senate Intelligence Committee confirmed what everyone else who actually knows about intelligence has been saying for a year and a half: Russia attacked our 2016 election to put Trump in office. I guess the #KremlinSeven were just there to say “thank you!”
- Trump’s trade wars started to go into effect, with China retaliating. Hold onto your crops, Trump supporters. You’re about to reap what you’ve sowed.
- EPA head Scott Pruitt finally resigned, after months of nearly daily revelations of wildly egregious ethics abuses. Unsurprisingly, he went out in a cloud of toxic fumes. Let us all join hands and wish lawsuits against him Godspeed.
- Pruitt’s successor, a coal lobbyist, will be no better for the environment than Pruitt was.
- A couple of weeks after Trump declared North Korea “no longer a nuclear threat”, talks broke down between Pyongyang and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Kim Jong Un refused to meet with Pompeo, then North Korea called U.S. demands for denuclearization “gangster-like” and “cancerous”. Gee, after all the legitimization Trump handed them for free, this is how they respond? Who could have seen that coming?
- House Freedom Caucus founder, Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH), faced allegations that he knew of and failed to report sexual abuse by the team doctor when Jordan ran the wrestling program at Ohio State. By week’s end, seven former athletes had stated that Jordan had been aware of the abuse and done nothing. Jordan’s excuse? It was “locker room talk”.
- Trump officials found another way to attack the Affordable Care Act by refusing to defend it (another clear violation of his oath of office). Now they’re refusing to pay billions in “risk adjustment” fees to insurers for expenses incurred last year. (The payments, mandated under law, serve to pool the risk of insurers ending up with high-expense customers.) Insurers immediately replied that the refusal to pay will create market uncertainty and increase premiums significantly. Again, we may have won battles last year, but they’re not stopping the attacks. Neither can we.
- It emerged that Trump had considered invading Venezuela last year. Yes, you read that right.
- The U.S. tried to block a resolution supporting breast-feeding by the World Health Assembly, threatening Ecuador with punitive trade measures and a withdrawal of military aid if it didn’t drop the resolution. That’s right. Over breast-feeding.
- More noises were made about what it ‘would take’ for Trump to agree to be interviewed by Mueller. Tough, luck, Don. You don’t have a choice. He can just subpoena you.
- The White House hired former Fox News exec Bill Shine as its new deputy chief of staff for communications, citing his experience. That experience includes twenty years of covering up sexual harassment, assault and abuse at Fox, leading to his forced resignation. Hey, he’ll fit right in.
- At a rally, Trump mocked the #MeToo movement. Of course he did.
- The votes were finally tallied for the California primary. Initial reports of low turnout were just really bad journalism – over two million votes had been mailed in and were outstanding. In fact, turnout was up 60% from 2014, at 7.14 million votes, 37.5% of registered voters. Growth of Democratic votes in many flippable districts was in triple digits. We still have work to do, but it’s a good start!
If there was anything else that Republicans could do this week to cause women to never, ever vote for them again, I’m not sure what it would be. But I’m certain they’re working on it.
It sounds dire. It is dire. But regimes eventually sow the seeds of their own destruction. We need to look to our grassroots, where new and vibrant energy is bursting, and work like mad. We’ll do this. We must.
– Tom Benthin
A reminder: a key resource for tracking all the abnormal events from the past week of the Trump presidency is Amy Siskind’s Weekly List: theweeklylist.org .
Before the disaster of the 2016 election we could follow the events that affected our lives by checking the news or seeing occasional posts on Facebook. Since then, with Trump’s erratic, aggressive and autocratic behavior and the Republicans’ unceasing attacks on our government and their efforts to transfer ever more money from working Americans to the rich, it has become much more difficult – and more important – to find our way through the weekly onslaught of news. To get ourselves grounded in the facts and to prepare for the week of action ahead, we provide this weekly summary of critical events to help us cut through the distractions and stay focused and informed as we fight to preserve our democracy.