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.


Blackmail, Russian Style

Not worried about the whole Russiagate thing yet?  Then read this Daily Beast article and see how truly plausible it is that the next POTUS will be a puppet of Russia.  The DB article has many details and sources, but here’s the gist:  (1) RNC emails were hacked by Russia, but (2) have not been disclosed like the DNC emails were, (3) meaning that whatever dirt — ranging possibly from merely embarrassing to illegal — might be in the RNC emails is in Putin’s possession, and (4) Putin could well be exacting cooperation and concessions from Trump and the GOP with whatever dark secrets lurk in those emails as leverage.  Note that it was separately reported by the WaPo, LA Times and others back in July that it was Trump’s team who pressured the GOP into softening its anti-Russia/pro-Ukraine platform language.  Suddenly Trump’s consistently pro-Russia stance (which threatens NATO) takes on a whole new, terrifying light.

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.

The Storm is Brewing, Yet the Media’s Missing It

Is it just me?  I keep looking for media coverage of what I think is a “yuge” story about how many people are newly minted activists in the wake of the Trump win. But the media seems to be asleep at the wheel — again.

Pieces of the puzzle have been covered, yes — the protests, the donations to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, the increase in NYT subscriptions. But there’s something so much bigger out there that I haven’t seen covered in the press.

Here’s the thing:  I personally know of dozens of people — like myself — who are, historically, politically interested, but not really activists in general, but who are now actively using words like #TheResistance and #NotMyPresident. Not 20 year olds either (no offense, 20 year olds), but middle aged professionals like me — lawyers, scientists, professors, business people, healthcare people, many of us parents.  In other words, people with a lot on their plates already who are prioritizing this issue, every single day, to stay active and outraged, and to absolutely reject what Trump ran on and stands for.

The talking heads on the Sunday morning talk show I saw this week were all smug grins and normalization.  I could barely stand to watch because it is increasingly clear every day that Trump is #NotNormal.  For christsake, I read today that since being elected Trump has spoken to Putin twice per day — two times per freaking day!  — more than to any other world leader.

I guess our journalist friends — who I generally admire tremendously — are not seeing what I’m seeing.  Example: soon after the election, I joined a new private FB group for progressive lawyers; 20 days later that group has over 120,000 members!  The media kinda missed white rural outrage, so we know they can be clueless.  But how can they miss this level of activity and outrage and resistance? How can they miss the fact that many empowered and educated people are now getting activated in full blown opposition to Comrade Drumpf and his band of cronies and haters?

Of course, I realize there’s an echo chamber with like-minded people rallying each other on.  I live in an echo chamber, too.  But because I live here, I can tell you that I know my people and I have NEVER seen anything like this tidal wave of opposition from my peers and cohorts.  People who have been more or less on the sidelines are now attending organizational meetings, making daily phone calls, writing letters, planning strategies — and not just for today, but for the long haul.

I’ll say this:  though Trump’s election is a travesty and reflects horribly on our country, the people who are standing up to oppose him make me incredibly proud.  And hopeful.

Trump Prepares to Follow Thru on Racist and Xenophobic Campaign Rhetoric

Trump continues to favor true extremists for his team. On immigration, meet Kris Kobach, who inadvertently flashed his plan for the Dept. of Homeland Security to an AP photographer. Oops! His plan calls for targeting Muslims, refusing refuge to those fleeing the war in Syria, greatly expanding deportations, and, yes,building the f’g wall. Do not normalize this stuff. Trump ran a race-baiting, xenophobic campaign and now he’s taking steps to actually enact his harmful, discriminatory and inhumane policies. If you hoped he’d be a more moderate President than he was a candidate, get used to being disappointed. #NotNormal #NotMyPresident

Demagogue Elect

dem·a·gogue (deməˌɡäɡ/) –
a political leader who tries to get support by making false claims and promises and using arguments based on emotion rather than reason
When even Time magazine – hardly a tabloid rag – starts using the word “demagogue” to describe Trump, will people pay attention?
This piece reminds us that Trump “sanctioned violence at his rallies and threatened to imprison his opponent. He threatened the independent press with libel actions and has barred the press from covering him. He has said he would force generals to comply with unlawful orders (for instance, regarding torture) and has threatened to abrogate alliances with treaty partners. And he has done all of these things while stoking prejudices, rage and fear in a way paralleled in our history only by other inarguable demagogues. And his transition so far has been an unsettling parade of erratic and autocratic decisions.”
During the campaign many critics warned that Trump was running for dictator, not President.  Sadly, our Demagogue Elect shows no signs of having chanced since November 8.

The 12 Steps of Resistance

Check out this op-ed from NYT columnist Nicolas Kristof, in which he lists 12 steps we can all take to support #TheResistance.  Here’s one item I’m going to act on tomorrow. How about you?

“6. I WILL support refugees, one of the most demonized groups in the world. The International Rescue Committee’s work for refugees can for the first time be supported through donations to The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund. In many cities in America and abroad, volunteer can help refugees through this I.R.C. portal. More refugee resettlement agencies are here.”