Republican Senator on Trump


My Party Is in Denial About Donald Trump

We created him, and now we’re rationalizing him. When will it stop?

By JEFF FLAKE

POLITICO Magazine

Who could blame the people who felt abandoned and ignored by the major parties for reaching in despair for a candidate who offered oversimplified answers to infinitely complex questions and managed to entertain them in the process? With hindsight, it is clear that we all but ensured the rise of Donald Trump.

I will let the liberals answer for their own sins in this regard. (There are many.) But we conservatives mocked Barack Obama’s failure to deliver on his pledge to change the tone in Washington even as we worked to assist with that failure. It was we conservatives who, upon Obama’s election, stated that our No. 1 priority was not advancing a conservative policy agenda but making Obama a one-term president—the corollary to this binary thinking being that his failure would be our success and the fortunes of the citizenry would presumably be sorted out in the meantime. It was we conservatives who were largely silent when the most egregious and sustained attacks on Obama’s legitimacy were leveled by marginal figures who would later be embraced and legitimized by far too many of us. It was we conservatives who rightly and robustly asserted our constitutional prerogatives as a co-equal branch of government when a Democrat was in the White House but who, despite solemn vows to do the same in the event of a Trump presidency, have maintained an unnerving silence as instability has ensued. To carry on in the spring of 2017 as if what was happening was anything approaching normalcy required a determined suspension of critical faculties. And tremendous powers of denial.

I’ve been sympathetic to this impulse to denial, as one doesn’t ever want to believe that the government of the United States has been made dysfunctional at the highest levels, especially by the actions of one’s own party. Michael Gerson, a con­servative columnist and former senior adviser to President George W. Bush, wrote, four months into the new presidency, “The conservative mind, in some very visible cases, has become diseased,” and conservative institutions “with the blessings of a president … have abandoned the normal constraints of reason and compassion.”

For a conservative, that’s an awfully bitter pill to swallow. So as I layered in my defense mechanisms, I even found myself saying things like, “If I took the time to respond to every presiden­tial tweet, there would be little time for anything else.” Given the volume and velocity of tweets from both the Trump campaign and then the White House, this was certainly true. But it was also a monumental dodge. It would be like Noah saying, “If I spent all my time obsessing about the coming flood, there would be little time for anything else.” At a certain point, if one is being honest, the flood becomes the thing that is most worthy of attention. At a certain point, it might be time to build an ark.

Under our Constitution, there simply are not that many people who are in a position to do something about an executive branch in chaos. As the first branch of government (Article I), the Congress was designed expressly to assert itself at just such moments. It is what we talk about when we talk about “checks and balances.” Too often, we observe the unfolding drama along with the rest of the country, passively, all but saying, “Someone should do something!” without seeming to realize that that someone is us. And so, that unnerving silence in the face of an erratic executive branch is an abdication, and those in positions of leadership bear particular responsibility.

There was a time when the leadership of the Congress from both parties felt an institutional loyalty that would frequently create bonds across party lines in defense of congressional prerogatives in a unified front against the White House, regardless of the president’s party. We do not have to go very far back to identify these exemplars—the Bob Doles and Howard Bakers and Richard Lugars of the Senate. Vigorous partisans, yes, but even more important, principled constitutional conservatives whose primary interest was in governing and making America truly great.

But then the period of collapse and dysfunction set in, amplified by the internet and our growing sense of alienation from each other, and we lost our way and began to rationalize away our principles in the process. But where does such capitulation take us? If by 2017 the conservative bargain was to go along for the very bumpy ride because with congressional hegemony and the White House we had the numbers to achieve some long-held policy goals—even as we put at risk our institutions and our values—then it was a very real question whether any such policy victories wouldn’t be Pyrrhic ones. If this was our Faustian bargain, then it was not worth it. If ultimately our principles were so malleable as to no longer be principles, then what was the point of political victories in the first place?

If this was our Faustian bargain, then it was not worth it. If ultimately our principles were so malleable as to no longer be principles, then what was the point of political victories in the first place?”

Meanwhile, the strange specter of an American president’s seeming affection for strongmen and authoritarians created such a cognitive dissonance among my generation of conservatives—who had come of age under existential threat from the Soviet Union—that it was almost impossible to believe. Even as our own government was documenting a con­certed attack against our democratic processes by an enemy foreign power, our own White House was rejecting the authority of its own intelligence agencies, disclaiming their findings as a Democratic ruse and a hoax. Conduct that would have had conservatives up in arms had it been exhibited by our political opponents now had us dumbstruck.

It was then that I was compelled back to Senator Goldwater’s book, to a chapter entitled “The Soviet Menace.” Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, this part of Goldwater’s critique had seemed particularly anachronistic. The lesson here is that nothing is gone forever, especially when it comes to the devouring ambition of despotic men. As Goldwater wrote in that chapter:

Our forebears knew that “keeping a Republic” meant, above all, keeping it safe from foreign transgressors; they knew that a people cannot live and work freely, and develop national institutions conducive to freedom, except in peace and with independence.

So, where should Republicans go from here? First, we shouldn’t hesitate to speak out if the president “plays to the base” in ways that damage the Republican Party’s ability to grow and speak to a larger audience. Second, Republicans need to take the long view when it comes to issues like free trade: Populist and protectionist policies might play well in the short term, but they handicap the country in the long term. Third, Republicans need to stand up for institutions and prerogatives, like the Senate filibuster, that have served us well for more than two centuries.

We have taken our “institutions conducive to freedom,” as Goldwater put it, for granted as we have engaged in one of the more reckless periods of politics in our history. In 2017, we seem to have lost our appreciation for just how hard won and vulnerable those institutions are.

Jeff Flake is a Republican senator from Arizona. This article has been excerpted from his new book, Conscience of a Conservative. Excerpted by permission of Random House. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

America’s Golden Age of Stupidity

By David Rothkopf

July 25

The Washington Post

“Hello, you have reached the United States of America. We’re sorry no one is here to take your call right now. We have taken leave of our senses and are unsure when they’ll return. Please try again in three-and-a-half years.”

If America had a voice-mail message to the world, this would be it. We are running an experiment in exploring the consequences of suddenly having the world’s most important power go absent without leave on the world stage.

Some of the signs of U.S. withdrawal have made international headlines. But some of the ways we are abandoning our leadership role are less visible. For example, few things are more directly associated with American leadership than our standing as a source of innovation, research, and scientific and technological expertise. Yet, President Trump — who has struggled to successfully conceive or maintain many policy initiatives — has shown remarkable steadfastness in his campaign against science.

George W. Bush had the War on Terror. Donald Trump has the War on Truth.

In the past month, the last few scientists have exited the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s (OSTP) Science Division. The OSTP is staffed at approximately a third of the level it was during the Obama administration; President Trump has yet to name a head of the office. Last week, the State Department’s top science and technology adviser, Vaughan Turekian, resigned amid a swirl of rumors that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was planning on shuttering his entire science and tech operation. There have been a number of non-scientist appointments in posts with major scientific elements, including the appointment of Samuel Clovis to be undersecretary in charge of the Agriculture Department’s research, education and economic efforts. Clovis, who has virtually no science background, will oversee efforts on vital issues ranging from the spread of diseases to the effects of pesticides.

Clovis, like many in the administration, is a climate-change “skeptic.” So, too, is Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency. As giant chunks of Antarctica snap off the continent’s ice pack and weather patterns continue to confirm the conclusions of 97 percent of the scientific community that anthropogenic climate change is real, Trump has surrounded himself with people such as Clovis and Pruitt who simply disregard the facts, putting all of us at risk.

Last week, the Union of Concerned Scientists released a study on the track record of the administration during its first six months entitled “Sidelining Science from Day One.” The study condemns the Trump team for “eroding the ability of science, facts, and evidence to inform public policy decisions” and asserts “emerging patterns reveal tactics to diminish the role of science in our democracy.”

Speaking of the need for qualified scientists in top jobs, Arati Prabhakar, the former head of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), put it succinctly when she told me, “These positions demand deep expertise and thoughtful leadership. Anything less risks the future.”

Of course, it is not just science under siege. More broadly the administration attacks facts and evidence wherever they do not suit their policy views. All evidence-based communities are under attack — the intelligence community, law enforcement, think tanks and journalists. Attacks come in all forms — disregard for data, ad hominem attacks on the messengers and their motives, deflections and false analogies.

The opposite of knowledge is ignorance. But the willful disregard of knowledge — regardless of motive — is stupidity. That is because those who battle facts are at war with reality. It is an unwinnable proposition. Furthermore, specialized knowledge, particularly that of scientists, is essential if we are to do what leaders must, anticipate change, understand its consequences and harness the opportunities it presents. Trump, in waging a systematic campaign to rid the government of the experts and ideas he sees as threats to his agenda, has done more than just usher in a Golden Age of Stupidity. He is unwittingly asking a question it doesn’t take an expert to figure out: “What happens when you lobotomize the world’s leading power?”

We, too, need to understand the deadly certain consequences of what Trump is choosing to risk. It reminds me of an experiment my father, a scientist, once conducted. In his last years, he was tormented by kidney failure, a legacy of his suffering as a child in Nazi Austria. Dialysis was demeaning and debilitating. So, he went to his doctor and said, “Let’s see what would happen if we skip dialysis for a couple weeks.” The doctor said, “You will surely die.” My dad said, “The only way we can be sure of the outcome is if we test the theory.” To borrow a Hemingway phrase he favored, the outcome was never in doubt.

He passed away days later.

David Rothkopf is the author of “The Great Questions of Tomorrow.” He is a visiting professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Reaching Paris Without Stopping in Washington

By Mel Gurtov

History may record that the planet’s climate crisis was avoided thanks to the efforts of three countries: China, Germany, and France. Or not. The preparedness of those three, and the other EU member-states, to follow through on commitments under the Paris Accord despite the US pull-out is key to planetary survival. Chancellor Angela Merkel has made no bones about it, announcing that the Europeans are determined, in the name of Western values, to meet the Paris goal of keeping planetary temperature rise to 1.5-2 degrees Celsius while also welcoming immigrants and upholding the global trade system.

The Discouraging News

Every expert opinion on climate change includes a dire warning: We haven’t got much time. The latest warning comes from a group of scientists and supportive others called Mission 2020. Reporting in Nature, they believe that if greenhouse gas emissions can turn downward by 2020—emissions have actually flattened out over the last three years—we have a chance to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. But if the Paris goals cannot be met, we are on the way to catastrophic decline. The group reminds us that economic growth in many countries is occurring precisely where use of non-carbon renewable sources has increased dramatically.

Mission 2020 makes a number of specific, entirely doable suggestions on land-use policy, city structures, transportation, and other subjects. But for its ideas to see the light of day, the group emphasizes that we must “use science to guide decisions and set targets. Policies and actions must be based on robust evidence… Those in power must also stand up for science.” Its closing observation is well worth heeding: “There will always be those who hide their heads in the sand and ignore the global risks of climate change. But there are many more of us committed to overcoming this inertia. Let us stay optimistic and act boldly together.”

But optimism will be hard to sustain, especially for future generations. Two other studies just published in Nature Climate Change cast doubt on reaching the 1.5°C target. In fact, these studies, using very different methodologies, conclude that a rise of 2°C or even 3°C by the end of the century is more likely. And the studies were completed before US withdrawal from the Paris Accord. Bill McKibben writes: “”These studies are part of the emerging scientific understanding that we’re in even hotter water than we’d thought. We’re a long ways down the path to disastrous global warming, and the policy response—especially in the United States—has been pathetically underwhelming.”

Indeed, under Donald Trump, the US is contributing mightily to our self-destruction. Deep cuts in the EPA budget; appointments to the environment and energy cabinet posts of dogmatic amateurs; restrictions on scientists’ professional activities, climate-change research, and the climate data base; the purely politically-motivated efforts to salvage the dying coal industry; official obliviousness to Antarctica’s breakup; unabashed promotion of oil and gas industry fracking and other dangerous ventures; systematic elimination of environmental protection regulations—it’s an extraordinary list that future historians will point to as evidence of a bizarre suicidal urge in a certain segment of American society.

It will come as no surprise that a Pew Research Center poll based on opinion in five countries (France, Britain, Spain, Poland, and Germany) finds a major shift in attitudes about the US. Whereas in 2016 favorable opinion of the US in these countries averaged 61 percent to 26 percent unfavorable, now unfavorable opinion is at 52 percent and 46 percent is favorable. Pew did international polling on the US under Trump in more than 30 other countries, and found very little confidence in his leadership—“arrogant, intolerant, and dangerous” were the decisive assessments—a sharp departure from polling when Obama was president. Trump’s Paris decision, along with his Muslim ban and his intention to build a wall on the Mexico border, clearly affected these opinions of him.

Some More Encouraging News

But if crisis breeds opportunity, the failure of US leadership on climate change may be fracturing the old international order in a positive way. While American politicians may still believe the US is destined to lead or is (in Madeleine Albright’s famous phrase) the “indispensable nation,” the rest of the world is moving on. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing that others step forward to fill the leadership gap. As Merkel has said: “The times in which we could completely rely on others are over to a certain extent. That is what I experienced in the last few days. That is why I can only say: We Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands.” Canada’s foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, added that since the new US administration “has come to question the very worth of its mantle of global leadership,” Canadians must “set our own clear and sovereign course.”

Trump’s transactional approach to international affairs, under which “the deal” must always advantage America first, will be shown to be bankrupt soon enough. The Europeans, the Chinese, and others—including major US cities, states, businesses, and institutions that will make their own deals on the environment, and will benefit as a result in terms of energy savings, cleaner air, employment opportunities, and technological advances. California’s governor Jerry Brown and New York City’s former mayor, Michael Bloomberg, lead a group called America’s Pledge that has a formidable and growing membership committed to working with the UN to reduce greenhouse emissions. The group now numbers 227 cities and counties, nine states, and more than 1600 businesses and investors.

So long as Trump is in power, however, we and the planet are going to pay a high price. US reliability will become increasingly uncertain on issues aside from climate change. After all, if the US can suddenly pull out of major international commitments such as the Paris accord and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and raises doubts about its participation in NATO, how credible will its word be on arms control, immigration, and humanitarian aid? Moreover, without US support, dealing with climate change will be that much more difficult. And for Americans, the evisceration of the EPA will have real consequences, starting with public health.

We were warned.

Mel Gurtov, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University.

Dancing with fear

By Robert C. Koehler

I knew there was a war on against cancer and, oh yeah, drugs, illiteracy, poverty, crime and, of course, terror, and that many arenas — sports, religion, business and politics, to name a few — are often portrayed as war without the body bags. But I was still surprised to read recently in the New York Times that we’ve opened up a fat front:

“It is a scene being repeated across the country as schools deploy the blood-pumping video game Dance Dance Revolution as the latest weapon,” the Gray Lady informed us, “in the nation’s battle against the epidemic of childhood obesity.”

Enough already! If I were an overweight kid, would I want Braveheart in my face? My impatience here reaches into the language center of the American brain, or at least the media brain. When chubby 9-year-olds are inspiring the language of Guadalcanal and 9/11, maybe as a nation it’s time to rethink our rhetorical default settings. Maybe it’s time to stop regarding every challenge, danger, obstacle, mystery and fear we encounter as a military operation, to be won or lost. We should at least be aware we have a choice in the matter.

Metaphors are the very essence of that light bulb (metaphor) we think of as understanding. When it goes off, it means we’ve linked the unknown with the known, created order out of the tumult of love or the daily commute or those blood-test results. Metaphors do not equal reality, but good ones illuminate it. The wrong metaphor about what’s going on, however, makes us stupid. Witness George Bush’s war on terror, a flailing spasm of high-tech counter-terror that seems as rational as … oh, calling for an air strike to take out obesity.

Ever since 9/11, I’ve been driven by an urgency to understand why we as a nation accepted Bush’s war of revenge so enthusiastically and felt so little empathy toward the innocent, sitting-duck populations we were about to carpet bomb. A big part of the reason, I believe, is that the military response — which means defining an enemy and immediately suspending all human feelings toward it — is embedded in our language. I also believe such language has outlived its usefulness in almost every way it’s applied and that a new, more complex way of thinking has begun to emerge.

Consider: A 2005 University of Florida study on doctor-patient communication, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, concluded that, “Well-meaning doctors seeking to explain treatment to cancer patients by comparing it to an all-out war might be wise to skip the military metaphors,” according to the university’s Web site.

“The life-is-a-journey comparison is a quieter metaphor and has the depth, richness and seriousness to apply to the cancer experience,” said Dr. Gary M. Reisfield, one of the researchers. “The road may not be as long as one hoped, and important destinations may be bypassed, but there’s no winning, losing or failing.”

Or how about the militarization of religion? Rev. Peter Paulsen, writing at medialit.org, noted: “We no longer accept racist references in speech, much less in worship… . But many Western — and some Eastern — religions still describe our relationship to God in military terms. We talk of ‘battling’ the devil, and ‘conquering’ sin. We loudly sing ‘Onward, Christian Soldiers’ or ‘Lord, God of Hosts, Mighty in Battle.’

“Despite the controversy that changing this language might provoke,” he wrote, “all people of faith need to reexamine whether the ‘peace that passes all understanding’ can be effectively communicated — in today’s nuclear age — by traditional metaphors of war.”

Or the militarization of business? Dennis W. Organ, in an essay on the Business Horizons Web site, lamented that classical management theory is permeated with military terms — “chain of command,” “rank and file,” “market strategy” — that serve mainly to obscure marketplace realities.

Even though he was dubious that the alternative business-model metaphors he suggested — “the organism, the computer, the jazz ensemble” — would grab people’s imaginations, I think he’s on to something. Such concepts are far more complex than the “us vs. them” reductionism of the military metaphor and challenge us to embrace a larger understanding of reality.

Similarly, David C. Smith, in an essay called “De-Militarizing Language” published at peacemagazine.org, asked: “Suppose instead of thinking about argument in terms of war, we were to think of argument as a pleasing, graceful dance. How would such a metaphor cause us to conceptualize argument in a different way?”

Those who can’t or won’t change their thinking will eye these alternatives as further intrusions of political correctness on their happiness: the smiley-face suppression of natural aggression so that everyone gets along in false harmony. I say imagine dancing with what we fear instead of trying to kill it.

Robert Koehler, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is a Chicago award-winning journalist and editor.

Friend,

Despite an outcry from patients and physicians, the Cleveland Clinic – a nonprofit organization – once again held its annual fundraiser earlier this year at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

This is unacceptable. The Cleveland Clinic is one of the top hospitals in the world, and by patronizing Trump the Clinic is financially and symbolically supporting his agenda — including decreasing access to healthcare and cutting billions of dollars in medical research funding. The Clinic shouldn’t be in the habit of personally enriching a politicians whose policies would harm its patients.

Read, then sign this letter demanding the Cleveland Clinic hold its 2018 fundraiser somewhere else.

A Clinic spokeswoman has publicly stated there won’t be any more events at Mar-a-Lago, but plans are already being made to return for 2018. The contract could be signed any day, so we have to mobilize fast. Read and sign today.

Other organizations, such as the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, have stopped holding fundraisers there. It is time for the Cleveland Clinic to follow suit and reaffirm its commitment to improving healthcare for all.

We hope you will stand with us.

– Team ProgressOhio

International Medical Graduates Fill Need for U.S. Hospitals

By Fred M. Jacobs

Medical schools outside the United States have become critical to our nation’s healthcare system. One-quarter of the physicians currently practicing in America received their degrees abroad.

Yet a number of domestic medical schools are pushing to restrict physicians educated in foreign countries, including many who are U.S. citizens, from securing residencies at American hospitals.

That makes little sense. Shutting out doctors educated abroad — especially given America’s looming shortage of physicians — would be counterproductive.

The effort to block these doctors begins with a mismatch. U.S. medical schools are graduating more doctors, but the number of residency slots isn’t increasing proportionally. That imbalance has led some to conclude that foreign-trained doctors are taking Americans’ spots.

But that conclusion is misguided. Thousands of doctors educated abroad and now practicing in the United States are American citizens.

It would be unfair to restrict U.S. citizens’ access to residency programs in their own country just because they did their medical studies abroad.

In addition, the number of residency slots available outstrips the number of new doctors from U.S. schools. The New England Journal of Medicine projects that by 2023-24, there will be 4,500 more residency slots available annually than new U.S. medical graduates.

Most important is America’s need for doctors. By 2030, the United States could be short nearly 105,000 physicians. Over 40 percent of that burden could be in primary care.

Yet U.S.-educated physicians tend to gravitate toward specialty care, thanks to its higher earning potential. Last year, fourth-year students at U.S. medical schools filled fewer than half the residency slots in internal medicine. Of the 3,238 first-year residencies filled in family medicine, meanwhile, American-trained physicians accounted for a mere 1,393.

By contrast, U.S. graduates filled over 90 percent of residencies in orthopaedics.

American-educated doctors’ reluctance to enter primary care has left the field open for international medical graduates, or IMGs. The latter comprise nearly 30 percent of all primary care doctors in the United States.

More than half of the 870 medical-school graduates of St. George’s University, the school where I work, took residencies in either internal or family medicine in 2016.

IMGs are more likely to work with patients who are underserved by the U.S. health system. IMGs treat more minority, foreign-born, and Medicaid patients than their U.S.-educated peers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

IMGs’ preference for primary care is due in part to how they are trained. Schools like St. George’s place more emphasis on teaching how to provide essential, everyday care.

This difference in emphasis does not mean lower standards. To qualify for an American residency, IMGs must demonstrate that their qualifications are equivalent to U.S. medical graduates by passing three sections of the United States Medical Licensing Exam. In 2015, 96 percent of St. George’s medical students who took the USMLE Step One for the first time passed.

IMGs must also pass an English proficiency test and have their clinical skills assessed. This qualification system ensures that there are no differences in clinical outcomes between foreign-trained and U.S. graduates.

Doctors educated outside the United States are essential for delivering care inside the United States. Restricting their access to U.S. residencies would be a mistake.

Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D., is Executive Vice President of St. George’s University (www.sgu.edu). He is the former Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services.

Hope this Hiroshima Day

By Robert F. Dodge, M.D.

Finally, 72 years after the US dropped the first atomic bombs on Hiroshima and three days later on Nagasaki, there is hope that we will see the abolition of these most deadly weapons of mass destruction, for this year on July 7 an historic treaty banning nuclear weapons like every other weapon of mass destruction was adopted at the United Nations. Recognizing and responding to the medical and humanitarian consequences of nuclear war, the world has come together and spoken.

In drafting the treaty nations acknowledged the science that proves even a “small” regional nuclear war using less than ½ percent of the global nuclear arsenals would result in the deaths of two billion people on the planet from blasts, radiation sickness, and the “nuclear autumn” famine that would follow.

Refusing to be held hostage by the nuclear nations any longer, 122 non-nuclear nations brought forth a bold new vision with the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This Treaty sets a new norm of international behavior and responsibility and when ratified, enforces that nations never develop, test, produce, manufacture, acquire, possess, stockpile, transfer, use or threaten to use nuclear weapons. The treaty establishes humanitarian rights for those that have been victims of nuclear weapons or weapons testing including the right to live in an environment that has been cleared from the damage done by them. It notes that women and children are disproportionately harmed by radiation. The treaty opens for signature on September 20, and once 50 nations have signed and ratified, it becomes law 90 days later.

Nations who continue to possess and threaten the use of nuclear weapons will now be outside of international law and norms. The failed theory of nuclear deterrence will be shown for what it is, namely the greatest driver of the arms race with each step in deterrence simply setting the new benchmark which must be exceeded by adversary nations. Deterrence didn’t work during the Cold War nor does it work with North Korea or any nation. Only when the U.S. and Russia embrace the reality that individual national security isn’t possible without collective security will the rest of the world feel secure in eliminating their arsenals. Now is the time for new thinking.

The Hibakusha, survivors of the atomic bombs, have waited their entire lives for this day. Setsuko Thurlow speaking at the United Nations after the treaty’s adoption said, “I have been waiting for this day for seven decades and I am overjoyed that it has finally arrived…this is the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons.” She concluded by saying, “Nuclear weapons have always been immoral, now they are also illegal.”

So let us give pause this day of remembrance and recognize the opportunity before us. Each of us has a role to play in demanding that our governments ratify this treaty. Let us begin the hard work in abolishing these weapons forever. The health and future of our children depend upon it.

Robert F. Dodge, M.D., is a practicing family physician, writes for PeaceVoice, was a citizen lobbyist to the UN in June for this treaty, and serves on the boards of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Beyond War, Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles, and Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions.

Are we Egypt?

By Tom H. Hastings

When the world watched Egyptians bravely gather en masse in Tahrir Square in Cairo in January 2011 to Arab Spring Hosni Mubarak out of office, we were mightily impressed and most of us cheered the nonviolent resistance.

The western press lionized the Egyptian military as it seemed to support the uprising and the generals kindly offered to run the country on an interim basis. Sure enough, there was an election eventually, Mohammed Morsi won, and the military handed over power.

For a minute.

Then we saw the military not-so-kindly grab power, ousting the elected Morsi and General Sisi ordered mass arrests and torture of dissident pro-democracy Egyptian activists.

Now, a few short years since the US calmly watched democracy betrayed badly by the Egyptian military, the US press is valorizing the military officers who are starting to snap some discipline into the most chaotic, dysfunctional, investigated White House this senior citizen has ever observed, at least since the months leading up to Richard ‘I am not a crook’ Nixon’s resignation.

Be careful.

Falling all over ourselves in gratitude because a Marine general imposes some order in the executive branch may benefit the racially biased, anti-immigrant, pro-military agenda of the range of rightwing members of Congress, but that new efficiency is not going to result in the policy changes most Americans want nor those which protect the healthy water and air we all need.

From H.R. McMaster (National Security Adviser), to John Kelly (Chief of Staff) to James Mattis (Secretary of Defense) to Joseph Dunford—all generals—Trump is ceding power to those who know how to seize it. Generals now head his staff in the White House.

In short, handing over the keys to the democratic system to the military might seem like a safe path toward stability, but it failed miserably for the Egyptians and even in our disrupted state we should not seek to hitch our lines to the ones who do not practice democracy, who have a mission to control by threat of destruction, and who practice a dominating form of rule, not a democratic form of governance.

None of these generals is a Dwight Eisenhower, all are dedicated to the Trump agenda—ramping up global climate chaos, sowing race hate and violence, targeting refugees and immigrants fleeing from wars we supply arms to wage, rolling back civil rights, being cozy with the likes of autocrats Putin, Duterte, and yes, General al-Sisi, while scorning democratic humane clean energy leaders like Merkel. Be ye advised.

Dr. Tom H. Hastings is PeaceVoice Director.

Donald Trump is a profoundly incompetent president

By Steve Chapman

Chicago Tribune

What do the directors of the Transportation Security Administration, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI have in common?

Easy question, you may think: They are all important law enforcement officials with roles in combating terrorism. But at the moment, they have nothing in common. Why? Because they don’t exist.

The jobs, you see, are vacant. Each has to be filled by presidential appointment, and Donald Trump has felt no urgency in filling them. Only this week did he even offer names for the TSA and FBI.

That is not his only lapse when it comes to protecting Americans from danger. In January, 47 U.S. attorneys resigned, and in March, he fired the remaining 46 federal prosecutors. So far, the president has yet to submit a nomination for any of the vacancies.

The people who voted for Trump knew they would be getting a disrupter, a critic of business-as-usual and an enemy of political correctness. Many also realized they were electing a bully and a braggart. But they may not have known what they were getting above all else: an incompetent.

There is no other way to explain most of what he has done in the White House. His most formidable opponent couldn’t do half as much to foil Trump as Trump himself has done.

His travel policy was rushed out, blocked by courts, withdrawn, revised and blocked again. Administration lawyers, who hope to convince the Supreme Court it had no unconstitutional anti-Muslim motives, have been undercut by his tweets, which convey the opposite.

So flagrant is the contradiction that some analysts suspect he has a hidden logic. They speculate that Trump might prefer to lose his ban so he could blame the courts if there were a U.S. terrorist attack carried out by foreigners.

Let me suggest that they are overthinking this. Trump has no record of being deviously clever. He has a record of acting rashly out of ignorance, fury and hubris. He makes needless statements that harm his legal case because he’s a self-destructive oaf.

His dismissal of FBI Director James Comey followed that pattern. The White House claimed that Trump fired him at the recommendation of the Justice Department because he botched the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails.

But Trump then admitted making the decision before he got the Justice memo, saying he objected to Comey’s probe of connections between his presidential campaign and the Kremlin. He thus helped bring on a special prosecutor, which could be fatal to his presidency.

Nothing about his performance suggests he has any idea how to handle his office. Trump complains that the Senate is obstructing his nominations. But at last count, he has yet to pick anyone for nearly 80 percent of the positions that require Senate confirmation.

On one issue after another, he has had to flee from ill-considered positions. He said the U.S. might junk its “One China” policy — only to be forced to back down by Chinese President Xi Jinping. He lambasted President Barack Obama’s “dumb deal” to take refugees from Australia but eventually decided to honor it.

In April, Trump announced that the following week, he would unveil his tax reform plan. This promise, reported Politico, “startled no one more than Gary Cohn, his chief economic adviser writing the plan. Not a single word of a plan was on paper, several administration officials said.” The “plan” the White House released was one page long.

Trump promised to repeal and replace Obamacare but had great trouble getting a bill through the House, partly because he didn’t know enough about the substance to negotiate with any skill. The legislation finally approved by the House was pronounced dead on arrival in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said recently he doesn’t know how a repeal bill would get enough votes to pass.

Trump’s incompetence is self-perpetuating. A clueless executive is forced to rely on aides who are mediocre — or worse — because better people are repelled. Vacant jobs and poor staff work, aggravated by bad management, lead to more failure, which makes it even harder to attract strong hires — and easier for opponents to get their way.

Expect more of the same. Trump came to office uninformed, unprepared and oblivious to his shortcomings, with no capacity to recognize or overcome them. He is in way over his head, and not waving but drowning.

Steve Chapman, a member of the Tribune Editorial Board, blogs at www.chicagotribune.com/chapman.

NY Times Publishes Incriminating List Of Every Trump Lie Told Since Inauguration

By Paula Kennedy

Posted on July 22, 2017

A team of America’s top journalists have set out to tackle an enormous task – compiling the details of every single lie told by President Donald Trump.

For a politician who literally can’t stop lying, it’s nearly impossible to keep track of every lie Trump has told in office. But the New York Times is doing its best, publishing a damning report with a long list of faulty statements coming out of Trump’s mouth.

“Many Americans have become accustomed to President Trump’s lies. But as regular as they have become, the country should not allow itself to become numb to them. So we have catalogued nearly every outright lie he has told publicly since taking the oath of office,” New York Times reporters David Leonhardt and Stuart Thompson wrote.

Here’s a short sampling of the lies Trump has been caught in, just from his first few days in office (via the New York Times):

JAN. 21 “I wasn’t a fan of Iraq. I didn’t want to go into Iraq.” (He was for an invasion before he was against it.)

JAN. 21 “A reporter for Time magazine — and I have been on their cover 14 or 15 times. I think we have the all-time record in the history of Time magazine.” (Trump was on the cover 11 times and Nixon appeared 55 times.)

JAN. 23 “Between 3 million and 5 million illegal votes caused me to lose the popular vote.” (There’s no evidence of illegal voting.)

JAN. 25 “Now, the audience was the biggest ever. But this crowd was massive. Look how far back it goes. This crowd was massive.” (Official aerial photos show Obama’s 2009 inauguration was much more heavily attended.)

And that barely scratches the surface. Nearly everyday since Trump took office, he has made at least one public statement that is verifiably false.

Bipartisan Report reports:

This assessment of the situation is, no doubt, on point. He’s lying literally almost every time he gets a chance to talk, and he just doesn’t care. He wants to advance his own personal power; and to him, if the truth gets sacrificed along the way, then so be it.

Seeing every one of the demonstrably false statements that came out of the president’s mouth during his time in office thus far is truly something that will give you pause.

… Trump has, of course, shouted about the New York Times being supposedly fake news many times in the past, and this isn’t likely to change his opinion of the paper.

Every American needs to see this before it’s too late – Trump is dangerous!

Putin apparently trying to incite American Civil War #2 (not kidding)

By Karen Wehrstein

Friday Aug 04, 2017 · 1:52 PM EST

If you go on Twitter and search “#civilwar” you will be horrified, disgusted and enraged at best, alarmed at worst. This is basically a thread for Trump supporters to threaten the country with civil war if Trump goes down in some way, whether it be impeachment, charges via Mueller or what-have-you. I was thinking of sharing a few examples, but I don’t even want to put that energy onto this site. If you want to see, do the search yourself.

But what is far worse — and I feel almost sick writing this — the hashtag is also being pushed by Russian trolls/bots. It almost didn’t register when I first saw it, for disbelief. My emotions don’t want to accept it. But my intellect knows it’s not in the slightest bit implausible.

My source here is the website Hamilton 68, introduced in this diary. It tracks the activities of 600 Twitter accounts known to be linked to Russian influence operations. Check it out.

“#civilwar” is showing up as being influenced under “Trending Hashtags” as per the image above, meaning Russian cyber-warriors are using it in a lot of tweets. I’ll be watching Hamilton 68 to see what it does over the next hours and days.

My interpretation is that now that Putin has learned that Trump won’t be able to repeal the sanctions that so threaten the mob money-and-murder machine that keeps Putin in power, he’s switched to Plan B, which will serve him just as well: destroy the US as a world power by destabilizing it internally. A second American civil war would be the gift that keeps on giving… to him.

Please rec and share. The mainstream media needs to be reporting on this. The German Marshall Fund of the United States has given us a great tracking tool showing what the fuckers are doing, so CNN, MSNBC, CBS, NYT, WaPo etc. should be following it. Let’s get as many people aware of this as possible!

I have taken to tweeting “#RUSSIABOTWARNING: topics now being influenced:” with a list of them then the Hamilton 68 link, so the tweet shows up on all of them. I’m thinking of creating a Twitter account named Russiabotwarning so I don’t waste 17 characters and so can list more topics. I wonder if anyone else is interested in making this a collective twitter account that multiple people can use, then promoting it to gain followers. It would be nice if these tweets were sitting on top of these topics when people searched them.

Kos Media, LLC.

We now know how the Trump presidency will end

The outlines of the end are becoming more clear, as Robert Mueller’s investigators dig away. Expect things to be vicious.

By Tony Burman

Foreign Affairs Columnist

Toronto Star

Thu., Aug. 3, 2017

How will the Donald Trump presidency end? It will end badly, so let me count the ways:

1. America is hurtling towards a constitutional crisis that will rock its institutions to the core.

2. Its president and his business empire will soon be exposed as beholden to Russian oligarchs and mobsters.

3. Trump will try to fire special counsel Robert Mueller to prevent this from becoming known, but Congress will intervene.

4. His only remaining hope will be a 9/11-scale disaster or contrived war that he can exploit.

5. If we are lucky enough to survive all of the above, Trump will resign before he is impeached — but only in exchange for a pardon from his servile vice-president, Mike Pence.

Yes, this scenario is anything but far-fetched.

One lesson we have learned from the slow-motion train wreck of this Trump presidency is that precise predictions are impossible to make. That is true, except for one thing.

We are now getting a much clearer sense of where this high-stakes drama is heading. The details may change but the contours of this epic chapter in American political history are beginning to emerge.

Although it has been another head-spinning week, perhaps the most important disclosure was a Washington Post story (notwithstanding reports that Mueller empaneled a grand jury to probe Russia’s ties to the 2016 campaign). The story suggested how centrally involved Donald Trump has become in the expanding inquiry about his secret connections with Russia.

The story revealed that, contrary to previous public assurances, Trump himself dictated a misleading statement about the nature of a meeting with a Russian lawyer during the campaign.

Mueller, a former FBI head, is examining Russian interference in the 2016 election, including potential obstruction of justice and allegations of cover-up. But much to Trump’s horror, Mueller’s investigation is expanding to include the history of connections between Trump’s controversial business empire and Russian government and business interests.

In this latter category are some of the most corrupt Russian oligarchs and mobsters, involved in widespread money laundering, who rose to prominence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

On the surface at least, one of the most perplexing questions still unanswered from last November’s shocking election result has been Trump’s persistent refusal to single out Russia or President Vladimir Putin for dramatically interfering in the American presidential election.

This has prompted many people in the U.S. and abroad, not only his critics, to ask the question: “What does Russia have on Trump?”

Increasingly, it appears that the Mueller investigation will help answer that question by examining the close but largely secret relationship between the Trump empire and Russian financial interests.

According to leaks, it has only been in recent days that Trump has realized that this Mueller probe, if not stopped, may even include an examination of his tax returns that he has been so stubborn to keep secret.

A revealing preview of what Mueller is undoubtedly discovering was featured as the extensive cover story of September’s issue of the U.S. magazine New Republic. Written by investigative journalist Craig Unger, the story was titled: “Married to the Mob: What Trump Owes the Russian Mafia.”

Unger was stark in his conclusions: “Whether Trump knew it or not, Russian mobsters and corrupt oligarchs used his properties not only to launder vast sums of money from extortion, drugs, gambling and racketeering, but even as a base of operations for their criminal activities. In the process, they propped up Trump’s business and enabled him to reinvent his image. Without the Russian mafia, it is fair to say, Donald Trump would not be president of the United States.”

More than anyone, Trump knows what Mueller will discover. He knows the legal peril that he and his family are in. He also knows that his presidency is certain to end — in some way — if that story ever becomes public.

We should remember this when we see how Trump acts in the weeks to come. Like a cornered rat, he will fight to protect his interests. In every conceivable way, he will work to stop Mueller’s probe, to challenge Congress if it intervenes, to undermine the press and judiciary if they get in the way and — yes — even to engage in reckless military adventures if he thought that would strengthen his position.

This next stage of this Trump story will no longer be a diverting reality show. It will be the moment when Americans — and the rest of us — will learn if U.S. democracy is strong enough to stop him.

Evidence Trump Committed Criminal Tax Fraud

Groopspeak

The Washington Post just ran a breaking story, saying they have substantial evidence that President Donald Trump committed criminal tax fraud. They didn’t treat the story lightly, either.

They found that Trump used a limited liability company to sell two condominium apartments to his son, Eric Trump, at less than market value. Trump sold him the condos for $350,000 a piece, yet just a few months prior to that was listing the price at $790,000 and $800,000, respectively.

Here’s where we get into the interesting details: Since Trump didn’t sell them at fair market value, he should have paid a gift tax on the sale, but he didn’t. How do we know this? Well, President Trump’s tax returns aren’t publicly available (we wonder why) but there’s evidence proving he didn’t.

When Trump made the sale, according to New York property records, Trump paid $13,000 in state and local transfer taxes. He did this correctly. However, if he properly filed his gift tax returns, he wouldn’t need to pay the state and local transfer taxes. That means the sales weren’t gifts at all.

According to the Post, who went more in-depth with the analysis:

“And on the real estate forms filed in New York, Trump didn’t check any of the boxes indicating that these were sales between relatives or sales of less than the entire property. It would seem, then, that he treated the transactions as if they were sales for fair market value to a stranger.

In our combined 40 years of experience as tax lawyers, we are unaware of a situation in which a taxpayer would report a transaction as a fair market value between strangers on the state level (and thus incur real estate taxes) but treat it as a gift at the federal level (and thus incur an additional tax). It’s fair to infer that Trump didn’t follow the rules.”

They went on to explain that “willful failure to file a tax return, including a gift tax return, is a misdemeanor, punishable by a $25,000 fine, imprisonment of up to one year or both.”

If Trump fraudulently failed to file, the punishment can be worse – that carries a fine of up to $100,000, imprisonment up to five years or both.

Bottom line: Trump needs to release his tax returns.

Fox News Host Sent Unsolicited Lewd Text Messages To Colleagues, Sources Say

Eric Bolling, a co-host of “The Specialists,” said through an attorney that he “does not believe he sent any such communications.”

By Yashar Ali

HuffPost

Eric Bolling, a longtime Fox News host, sent an unsolicited photo of male genitalia via text message to at least two colleagues at Fox Business and one colleague at Fox News, a dozen sources told HuffPost.

Recipients of the photo confirmed its contents to HuffPost, which is not revealing their identities. The women, who are Bolling’s current and former Fox colleagues, concluded the message was from him because they recognized his number from previous work-related and informal interactions. The messages were sent several years ago, on separate occasions.

The women did not solicit the messages, which they told colleagues were deeply upsetting and offensive. One of the recipients said that when she replied to Bolling via text, telling him never to send her such photos again, he did not respond. Four people, outside of the recipients, confirmed to HuffPost they’d seen the photo, and eight others said the recipients had spoken to them about it.

For this story, HuffPost spoke to 14 sources in and out of Fox News and Fox Business, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity either because they currently work at the networks and aren’t allowed to speak to members of the press without prior authorization or because they have confidentiality agreements with Fox News and its parent company 21st Century Fox.

Over the past year, the network has been rocked by multiple accusations of sexual harassment and assault by Fox News and Fox Business executives and on-air talent. Last year, former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes resigned after former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit accusing him of sexual harassment. Since Ailes was forced out, multiple former and current Fox News hosts have accused him of harassment, including CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota. Last April, after a bombshell New York Times report revealed that Bill O’Reilly had quietly settled multiple sexual harassment suits, the network forced him out.

Reached Friday by HuffPost about the accusations against Bolling, a Fox spokesperson said, “We were just informed of this and plan to investigate the matter.”

When asked whether Bolling at any point had sent unsolicited lewd or inappropriate text messages or emails (including an image of a man’s genitalia) to Fox News or Fox Business colleagues, his attorney Michael J. Bowe responded, “Mr. Bolling recalls no such inappropriate communications, does not believe he sent any such communications, and will vigorously pursue his legal remedies for any false and defamatory accusations that are made.”

Three women who worked with Fox News host Eric Bolling say he sent them unsolicited inappropriate photos.

Bolling, a former commodities trader, has worked at the Fox News and Fox Business networks since 2007, when he joined after leaving CNBC. He has had a history of making misogynistic on-air remarks during his tenure at Fox News, the most notable during a September 2014 segment on the panel show “The Five” while discussing the first woman fighter pilot from the United Arab Emirates leading the bombing of the Islamic State. Bolling asked on air if instead of saying “boots on the ground” it would be more appropriate to say “boobs on the ground.” He apologized the next day, citing “a look” he got from his wife when he arrived home.

The allegations against Bolling recall statements he made attacking Anthony Weiner in 2014, after the former New York congressman had been embroiled in a scandal for sexting several women. During a Twitter war with Weiner, Bolling concluded with a tweet that said: “text us if you want a fair & balanced intv **NO SEFIES PLEASE [sic]**” In May 2017, when Weiner pleaded guilty to federal charges of exchanging lewd messages with an underage girl, Bolling said, “He is a sick human being, to continue to do this time and time again, continue to get caught, saying he’s not going to do it again, gets caught again.”

Bolling serves as one of the co-hosts of “The Specialists,” a new program on the Fox News Channel. Previously, he served as one of the hosts of “The Five” and as a fill-in host for O’Reilly and Sean Hannity. After the network fired O’Reilly last April, Fox News announced that Bolling would leave the “The Five” and host another panel program at 5 p.m. with co-hosts Eboni Williams and Katherine Timpf.

Bolling’s star at the Fox Networks has risen in the past two years, in part because of his close relationship with and strong support of President Donald Trump. Bolling can often be seen aggressively defending Trump on the network, and his loyalty has been repaid. Over the past few years, Trump has tweeted praise and support for Bolling at least a dozen times, including support for his book in 2016. When “The Specialists” premiered earlier this year, Bolling was granted an exclusive interview with Trump.

Fox News recently renewed Bolling’s contract. In a statement in June, Fox News co-president Suzanne Scott said that Bolling’s “insight is valued, and we are pleased to have him at the network for many more years to come.”

The multiyear extension ended speculation that he was going to accept a position in the Trump administration. In an interview with NJ.Com, Bolling said the Trump transition had floated the position of commerce secretary, but he said he would only consider joining as a senior adviser.

In the interview, Bolling said he believed he had a future in politics: “When the lights go down on my TV career, the next step is running for Senate.”

What we need now: A National Moratorium to End the Trump Presidency

Updated: August 4, 2017 — 10:47 AM EDT

By Will Bunch, STAFF COLUMNIST @will_bunch | bunchw@phillynews.com

The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News

Do you remember your first political protest? I remember mine, even if it comes with a big asterisk. It happened on Oct. 15, 1969, and it was called the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam. The asterisk is that I really didn’t do much — not even march in the streets or carry a peace flag. All I did, actually, was ride in the backseat of our family’s Ford Country Squire station wagon with our headlights on during broad daylight — a sign that you were against the war. For those who cruised America’s highways that Wednesday, the sight of so many other headlights was a close encounter of the first kind, meaning you were not alone … in wanting the troops to come home from Southeast Asia.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the 1969 moratorium — especially since about noon or so on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. Of course, it was just the next day that America saw the Women’s March, a 4-million-participant warning shot across the bow of the Trump presidency, and that has been followed by other protests, including targeted efforts that have played a role in so far blocking any efforts to repeal Obamacare. And yet the broader protest fervor seems to have waned even as the threat that Trump and his team pose to America’s democratic norms has grown in recent weeks. Is there a lesson for today’s Trump Resistance in a wildly successful protest that took place nearly 48 years ago?

I think so. The strategy of the Vietnam moratorium — as mapped out by its leaders, all 20-something veterans of campus protests or the failed 1968 antiwar presidential campaign of Eugene McCarthy — was brilliant. Some activists thought the next step in antiwar protest should be a general strike, but leaders Sam Brown, David Hawk, David Mixner, and Marge Sklencar had a better idea. Plan the kind of inclusive event where every American who opposed the war — not just crazy campus radicals with their Viet Cong flags, but churchgoing suburbanites and baseball moms and your next-door neighbor — could find some way, big or small, to take part.

Hold up a candle at a vigil. Attend a rally or a “teach-in” at your town square or in your church. Call in sick from work or stay out of school to march in a protest. Or, failing that, at least take two seconds to flip on your headlights. Anything that would prove that opposition to the Vietnam War was not only nonviolent, but moral and middle-class. And, most important, mainstream. The first round of coast-to-coast protests that October drummed up support for a mass march on Washington exactly one month later that drew an eye-popping 500,000 people.

“The predominant event of the day was that of a great and peaceful army of dissent moving through the city,” the New York Times reported from Washington on Nov. 15, 1969, adding later in its front-page piece: “Overall, the slogans, like the sign ‘We’re here because we love our country,’ seemed to be asserting that the demand for withdrawal from Vietnam is now the only moderate course.”

It’s easy to dismiss the moratorium because — as history showed us — the Vietnam War didn’t end right away in 1969. The final U.S. combat troops didn’t come home until the winter of early 1973. But in other ways, the protest effort was a stunning success. October 1969 also marked the first time the Gallup Poll showed a majority of Americans believed the war was a mistake. President Richard M. Nixon felt that heat inside the White House, where that fall, he addressed the public to insist that a so-called silent majority supported his policies. But Nixon also speeded up the pace of troop withdrawals, and Congress eventually moved to pass the War Powers Act, seeking to restrict presidents’ ability to launch another Vietnam. It didn’t last, but U.S. foreign policy was arguably more restrained and wiser over the next decade or two — all because everyday citizens had taken action.

What happened in 1969 is more proof that citizen action — or inaction — is the tipping point between democracy and authoritarianism. The largest wrench in the would-be despot’s toolbox is apathy — a dazed and confused populace that sits on its hands when a self-proclaimed strongman moves to restrict the freedom of the press or curb the power of the judiciary or independent prosecutors or strip people of voting rights. The flip side is that it’s remarkable what a truly engaged citizenry can accomplish.

In South Korea, during the same weeks that Trump was transitioning into the presidency, as many as 1.7 million people at a time flooded the streets of downtown Seoul to protest corruption by their country’s then-president, Park Geun-hye, in demonstrations the Washington Post described as a “democratic, peaceful and even joyous assembly, demanding the president’s ouster.” And ousted Park was. In Poland, democracy seemed to be hanging by a thread last month as the ruling party sat poised to crush that nation’s independent judiciary — until the masses took to the streets of Warsaw.

The bottom line is that government does respond to the people, but only when the people respond to the government. When Trump fires the FBI director who’s probing his campaign or calls the free press “the enemy of the American people,” right now he doesn’t see 1.7 million people outside his bedroom window. He sees only the prattling heads on Fox & Friends — and so it’s only going to get worse, especially with the new report that special prosecutor Robert Mueller is bringing evidence before a grand jury. Now is the time for America to show its inner Seoul.

A long time ago, I chose a keyboard over marching boots. But today, I’m using my keyboard and my platform as an opinion writer to offer this opinion: What America needs right now is a Moratorium to End the Trump Presidency — a mass event that will show the world a not-so-silent majority of Americans does not support an uncouth and irrational wannabe despot in the Oval Office. It’s great that 61 percent of the public can tell a pollster they disapprove of Trump’s presidency. But now we need 61 percent of Americans to tell that to their neighbors, to their local communities, and to the world, in a public display of disaffection.

When? Why not Oct. 15, 2017, the 48th anniversary of the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam, when the weather is good and the kids on campus have settled in for the fall semester? What? Whatever it takes to show people that decent Americans want this nightmare to end. You can’t do the headlight thing thanks to daytime running lights (darn you, Detroit!), but you can wear blue, or fly a crazy flag from your car, or march in silent solidarity through the streets of your hometown. Where? Philadelphia. Or Paoli. Or Peoria or Pittsburgh or Portland — anywhere people want this president out of the White House. Why? Because it’s going to take more than 140 characters or your most impassioned Facebook rant to change America for good. Then, a month later — say Nov. 18, 2017, a Saturday — converge 1.7 million, give or take a few, of those people in front of Trump’s White House fence. And watch to see who will be the first Republican congressman from a swing district to endorse impeachment.

You know, moratorium, at first blush, seems like an odd thing to call a protest. But the definition of moratorium is “a temporary prohibition” of a regular activity. For the last 28 weeks, America has endured a president who is, in the words of the Twitter hashtag, #NotNormal. Maybe mixing up our routines for a couple of days this fall is the best way to get our nation back to, you know … normal.

Also by Will Bunch: How can Kelly save Trump when he was a human-rights disaster at Homeland Security?

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