The Definition of Treason

18 U.S. Code § 2381 – Treason

Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 807; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(2)(J), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2148.)


True to form, Obama has been careful and measured in characterizing the political and legal implications of Russia’s scheme to put Trump in the White House.  But while Obama may feel constrained by the weighty obligation to ensure a peaceful transfer of power, neither the media nor we citizens are similarly limited.   If Trump or members of his campaign had knowledge of or where complicit in Russia’s scheme, we can and should call that by its rightful name:  treason.

Here’s what is known to date.

Russia illegally hacked the DNC and selectively released content to Wikileaks with the intent of promoting a Trump win in the US presidential election.   The CIA, FBI and Director of National Intelligence agree on this.

At the same time, Trump has taken surprising steps — surprising especially coming from the historically anti-Putin GOP camp — to soften the US position on Russia.  Indeed, due to influence of the Trump team, a softer position on Russia was even made part of the GOP’s platform.  Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, has had extensive political dealings with the Russian government, as have Trump surrogates Carter Page and Jack Kingston.  Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s future National Security Adviser, has appeared as a commentator for Russian state television and sat with Vladimir Putin at a Russian gala.  Trump’s pick for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, also is quite simpatico with Putin, even having received Russia’s Order of Friendship award from Putin. Trump himself has openly praised Putin and Donald, Jr. has touted Trump Inc.’s extensive business interests in Russia and the “money pouring in from Russia.” Russia’s deputy foreign minister stated that Moscow had contacts with members of the Trump campaign during the election and that Team Trump folks have been staying in touch with Russian representatives since then.  The latest news is that a former Trump surrogate is in Russia preparing American businesses operating there for the soon to come lifting of the US sanctions against Russia. (Sorry, Ukraine!)

In other words, the connections between Trump & Co. and Russia are known and multiple.  How then can we ignore the obvious possibility that Trump or members of his campaign conspired with the Russians on their scheme?  And how can we deny what appears to be a possible quid pro quo in which Russia is receiving benefits due to its help in getting Trump elected?

Given the seriousness of these implications, it would be fully justified for the Electoral College to delay its vote until this matter can be fully investigated.   In any case,  we who love this country, regardless of party affiliation, should insist that the Obama administration thoroughly investigate not just what happened in regard to the Russian hacking, but why and with whose knowledge.  In the end, saving our democracy may be the greatest legacy of the Obama administration.


Trump Shows He is Ruthless and Dangerous with his Tweets

We should not dismiss Trump and his Twitter habit as just being goofy and clueless. I heard Trump characterized as “ruthless and dangerous” by someone in a position to know. True to that characterization, he clearly uses his Twitter account strategically — to divert attention from news stories that he wants us to ignore — and as a weapon, to exact punishment against those who cross him.

In the recent Fresh Air interview with Megyn Kelly about her new memoir, Kelly discussed the 9 month period during which Trump made her enemy #1, tweeting often against her. Those tweets resulted in her being not just harassed, but credibly threatened by Trump’s brown shirts, the deplorables and fanatics for whom he can do no wrong. This included death threats against Kelly and her family, for months. Senior people at Fox, and even Trump’s buddy Hannity, asked him to call off the dogs, to no avail. Clearly he was intentionally riling up his followers against Kelly in a purposeful way. She even recounted a telling comment he made before all of this got started, saying to her, “If you’re not careful, I will unleash my brilliant Twitter account against you.”

Consider now another possible example of this type of retaliation. The Chicago Tribune published a story this week quoting Boeing’s CEO as making statements that could be interpreted as being critical of Trump’s trade policies. Within a matter of hours, Trump unleashed his now well-known tweet about canceling a contract with Boeing due to, in his view, the overly high cost of new Air Force One jets from Boeing. Boeing’s stock price dropped sharply after his tweet, though the stock recovered later in the day.

Shall we just consider that a warning shot across the bow? Trump has made it clear that he can and will use his tweets to exact revenge against those who displease him, and apparently that even includes corporate giants like Boeing. Surely CEOs all over America, if not the world, have taken note and will be more likely to silence their criticisms of Trump’s policies in the future. That cannot be a good outcome.

Whether he unleashes his hordes of fanatics against a journalist or causes a company’s stock price to tumble with inflammatory accusations, it seems that the “ruthless and dangerous” characterization is an apt one.

Grubhub & Penzeys Deserve our Support

In business it’s easy to “go along to get along” because no one wants to risk lost sales.  But two prominent businesses are bravely choosing to stand against Trump’s hateful rhetoric.

Immediately after the election, the CEO of GrubHub, an online food ordering and delivery service operating in over 1000 cities, sent his employees a message reminding them that behavior demeaning to minorities, immigrants and the disabled would not be tolerated at his company.

The owner of Penzeys, a purveyor of fine spices and other items of the home kitchen, has also taken a courageous stance against Trump’s racist rhetoric, even urging those who voted for Trump to make amends by donating to civil rights organizations.

GrubHub and Penzeys are acting in good conscience to reject hate — and so we should show them some love!

Trump Tax Plan Favors the Ultra Rich

Trump promised “massive tax cuts” but here’s what the Tax Policy Center concludes after looking at the details:  Under the Trump tax plan, a millionaire would get an average tax cut of $317,000, but a family earning between $40,000 and $50,000 a year would get a tax cut of only $560, and millions of middle-class working families will see their tax bills rise under Trump’s plan — especially single-parent families.  Trump’s tax plan also would eliminate a federal estate tax that currently only applies to fewer than 1% at the top of the economic heap.

Inflation, anyone?

Get ready for inflation, folks! The short version of this prognostication is that Trump’s policies will A) increase demand while supply will be more limited, especially if he deports undocumented workers, which will B) cause inflationary pressures on our economy, which C) the Fed might try to control with higher interest rates, but D) in 2018 Trump will have an opportunity to stack the leadership at the Fed with his own appointees, threatening Independence of the Fed which has been the accepted practice, but is not enshrined in law. Sorry for the long sentence! It is difficult to discuss the economy in short sentences. Unfortunately that means that a lot of people who voted Trump probably didn’t understand the implications of his policies and now we all will be hurt by their choice.

Will Trump’s Vindictiveness Affect Amazon & Time-Warner?

Market analysts speculate here that Trump’s animosity toward the Washington Post — owned by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos — and toward CNN — owned by Time-Warner — could affect his administration’s decisions about anti-trust issues affecting Amazon and the Time-Warner/AT&T deal. The market is already taking account of how Trump’s vindictive nature could affect business!