Tag Archives: 2016 election

You mean the Russians are interfering again? Wow! Who’da thunk it?

It can’t be. The Russians cannot possibly attack our electoral system yet again after what they did in 2016. Can they?

I guess they can! The New York Times is reporting that the Russians are at it once more. Indeed, now we hear that Donald John Trump, the nation’s current president, was so angry over the news that he fired the acting director of national intelligence and installed a loyalist into the job as the latest acting  DNI.

Actually, it is being reported that Trump got mad because the former acting DNI, Joseph Maguire, consented to a congressional briefing. That’s reportedly why he replaced him with U.S. ambassador to Germany Richard Grennell, a guy with zero experience at any level of intelligence, let alone at the director of national intelligence level.

Let’s remember that Trump dismissed the 2016 election attack, most infamously in 2018 at the Helsinki press event in which he stood next to Russian strongman Vladimir Putin and backed Putin’s denial over the U.S. intelligence agencies’ assessment that Russia had interfered in the previous presidential election.

Now we hear that the Russians have done it again!

This is scary in the extreme. Trump already is known to have solicited another foreign government, Ukraine, for a political favor. It got him impeached by the House of Representatives.

Here come the Russians once more, working to re-elect the president. They want to ensure that Trump gets a second term as POTUS, a move that is sure to sow as many seeds of anger and mistrust in our electoral system that the 2016 attack managed to accomplish.

Think of it. That’s precisely what the Russians want to do.

Didn’t the president take an oath to protect this nation against its enemies? Didn’t he vow to keep us and our institutions safe from this kind of attack?

What the … whatever?

Are we heading for a repeat of the great electoral fluke of 2016?

It pains me to the depths of my gut to acknowledge this, but my fear is growing that Americans are going to get Donald John Trump for another four years as president of the United States.

Yes, it looks to me at this moment that the Democratic Party is quite capable of squandering a golden opportunity to restore the presidency, to return it to a level of respectability and reverence that has been dismantled during the Trump Era.

That once-monstrous field of contenders has been culled to a more reasonable size. Who, though, is left standing? Who are the top contenders?

A zillionaire. A couple of “progressives,” including a “democratic socialist.” A former vice president who cannot stop tripping over his own tongue. A one-time mayor of a smallish Midwest city. A sitting U.S. senator who is trying to appeal to the center-left of her party. Another zillionaire who rose to prominence by funding an effort to impeach Donald Trump.

Joe Biden once was thought to be the unstoppable Democrat. At this moment his campaign is imploding. His so-called “firewall” in South Carolina is showing severe fracturing as African-American voters are now looking for an alternative to Barack Obama’s wing man.

Nominating a far-left socialist is the death knell for sure, in my view.

What is most maddening is that Donald Trump has spoon-fed the opposition all kinds of electoral grist to use against him. The House of Representatives impeached him; the Senate acquitted him, but the impeachment still stands.

Trump has angered millions of Americans with his hideous pronouncements, his foul mouth, his trashing of allies, his incoherent campaign-rally riffs, his pandering to religious groups with whom he has no actual alliance, his disparaging of the nation’s top military minds, his standing with hostile strongmen, his denigration of our intelligence analysts.

Oh, and then there’s the lying. It’s incessant. He cannot tell the truth about anything at any level. He gets caught lying and his political base blows it off.

On and on it goes.

Still, this most astonishing politician — the president — very well might win re-election because he is somehow, amazingly able to claim credit for an economic recovery that he inherited from his immediate predecessor.

This clown never should have gotten elected in the first place. He squeaked in by the narrowest of margins, losing the actual vote by nearly 3 million ballots but winning just enough Electoral College votes to win the election. I do not dismiss that he won according to the rules spelled out by the U.S. Constitution, a document of which he has zero understanding.

The 2016 election stands in my mind as the greatest political fluke in U.S. history. If he wins again in November, then we will have committed the next greatest fluke in history.

We desperately need to shore up faith in our electoral system

I make this statement with considerable pain in my heart.

Our nation’s electoral system is in potentially dire peril. The Russians sought to sow seeds of mistrust when they interfered in — or attacked, if you prefer that verb — our electoral process in the 2016 presidential campaign.

They have succeeded. Maybe beyond their expectations.

They hacked into Hillary Clinton’s campaign system, apparently heeding the request of Clinton’s Republican opponent, Donald Trump. The mistrust began, seemingly at that moment.

It’s gotten worse.

The Iowa caucus just this past week and the “app” glitch that fouled up the vote-counting and the delegate-apportioning process has made it all the more troublesome.

As Ross Ramsey writes in the Texas Tribune, when you trifle with our electoral process, you are messing with democracy itself. Read Ramsey’s analysis here.

One gets the sense that everyone is going to suspect hanky-panky at damn near every electoral level. Legislative races? Statewide contests? Presidential primary contest? How about the 2020 presidential election itself this coming November?

If the Russians sought to spark discontent among Americans, they can declare victory. They were able to do so during the 2016 election.

The Russians aren’t the only villains. American politicians are looking for ways to suppress voter turnout. They scheme and conspire to make voting among minority Americans more difficult. Their aim is to elect non-minority candidates to public office, thus depriving minority Americans a voice in the halls of power among those who look like the voters they represent.

Yes, democracy is under attack. As we move more deeply into this election year, I believe we need to more vigilant against enemies — foreign and, yes, domestic — who seek to undermine all Americans’ right to vote their conscience.

Election security becomes a highly critical ‘back story’

An essential element of the impeachment and Senate trial of Donald John Trump, the current president of the United States, is being pushed toward the back of the proverbial shelf.

I refer to election security. Specifically, the security of our sacred rite of citizenship against foreign interference.

You know the story. Russia attacked our electoral system in 2016, the same day that Donald Trump invited the Russians to look for the “missing emails” produced by former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was Trump’s presidential campaign foe that year.

Then the president, immediately after Robert Mueller III released his findings into a two-year-long investigation into the Russia hack and interference, placed a phone call to Ukrainian President Volodyrmyr Zellenskiy. He asked Zellenskiy for a “favor,” which was to launch an investigation into Joe Biden, a potential foe for Trump in 2020. Yes, the president asked a foreign government for political help. He wants to “cheat” his way to re-election.

How in the name of cybersecurity can we stand by and let this happen?

I am acutely aware that government cyber geeks are hard at work trying to provide fool-proof locks against this kind of intrusion. What troubles me in the extreme is that the individuals at the highest levels of our government are stone-cold silent on this matter.

Donald Trump, the intended beneficiary of the 2016 Russian election attack, continues to dismiss the interference. He disparages intelligence analyses that says, “Yes, the Russians did it!” He calls that phone call to Zellenskiy “perfect.”

It was “perfect” only insofar as he delivered a clearly defined message to a foreign head of state. He wanted a “favor” and asked that government to attack our electoral system — again! 

What measures are we taking to protect our election system throughout its massive network?

Impeachment about overturning election? No-o-o-o-o! Really?

Can we dispense with the tired — and patently ridiculous — notion that Donald John Trump’s impeachment is meant to “overturn” the results of the last election?

That goofy argument is part of the White House response to the articles of impeachment that the House of Representatives delivered to the Senate, which on Tuesday will commence the trial that will determine whether the current president of the United States keep his job.

I believe I shall remind everyone of a couple of historical facts.

The House Judiciary Committee voted for articles of impeachment against President Nixon in 1974. Nixon quit the presidency on Aug. 9 of that year. He had won re-election in 1972 in a smashing landslide: 49 states, 520 electoral votes, 60 percent of the ballots cast. That impeachment effort would have reversed the outcome of that election, too.

The House impeached President Clinton in 1998. He stood trial in 1999 and was acquitted. Clinton won re-election in 1996 with a handsome margin: 379 electoral votes and a healthy plurality of actual votes. And, yes, that impeachment was intended to overturn an election result, too.

Presidential impeachment by definition are intended to do the very thing that the White House is now accusing the House of doing. I know that House members who voted to impeach the president stand behind high-minded rhetoric about “defending the Constitution.” I believe that is the case here.

However, this act also carries with it a necessary political component, which is that it seeks to correct a ballot-box mistake. Let’s not be coy about this point as well: Trump did not win in anything approaching a landslide. He pulled in nearly 3 million fewer votes than his opponent in 2016 and won because of an adroit end-of-campaign tactic that saw him win three key Rust Belt states that put him over the top in the Electoral College count.

Impeachment is meant to overturn an election? Well, as we used to say in high school: No sh**, Sherlock!

How does Bernie keep raking in all that cash?

I want to stipulate a political truism, which is that lots of money doesn’t always translate to lots of votes.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush had tons of cash when he launched his 2016 bid for the Republican Party presidential nomination. He, um, didn’t make the grade.

Four years later, we have Sen. Bernie Sanders out there raking in huge sums of money. They’re from small donors, he keeps telling us. Sanders, who’s actually an independent senator from Vermont, is running for the Democratic Party presidential nomination.

I am baffled how so many voters keep “feeling the Bern.” They keep pumping all that cash into his coffers. He finished 2019 with a huge haul of $34.5 million in the final quarter of the year. He’s loaded, man!

You may color me amazed, along with baffled. The man sings off a single song sheet page. Wealthy people are bad for the country, he keeps saying. Every single answer to every question seems to turn on “wealth inequality.” He wants to redistribute the wealth, you know … take from the rich and give to the not-so-rich. I guess it has its appeal, but I am not sure why.

I hate to bring age into this argument, but he is 77 years old. He would be the oldest man ever inaugurated president were he to win. I mention this with some trepidation as I just turned 70 myself this past month.

Sanders has yet to demonstrate a broad swath of knowledge on matters far from the income inequality theme he keeps preaching.

The war on terror? Climate change? U.S.-Russia relations? Middle East policy? We know what he believes about taxation.

Plenty of my friends are supporters of Bernie Sanders. I just won’t sign on until I get a sense of a more well-rounded, comprehensive platform on which he intends to run. So far, I am not seeing it.

But … he still is awash in campaign cash.

Go figure.

Welcome to the ‘most consequential election’ year; really … it is!

Welcome to 2020. We’re going to elect a president near the end of the year.

I know what you might be thinking. We go through this every four years and every single time some pundit or politician calls it the “most consequential election” in, take your pick: our lifetime, U.S. history, all of human history.

You know what? The 2020 presidential election might fall into all of those categories. This is the real thing, ladies and gentlemen.

America exhibited some amazingly bad form — and this is just my humble view — in 2016 when it elected Donald John Trump as our 45th president. He won a majority in the Electoral College, while losing the “actual” vote by nearly 3 million ballots.

He snookered just enough people in the appropriate states to edge out an infinitely more qualified opponent to win the presidency.

In my mind, Trump has made an absolute mess of the high office he occupies. The task awaiting voters in 2020 is to make amends for the mistake they made four years earlier.

Donald Trump promised to make history as president. He’s done it! He is the third president to be impeached by the House of Representatives. He is likely to be the first president to run for re-election as an impeached president.

Yes, the economy is going strong. The labor force has added millions of jobs during Trump’s tenure as president; joblessness is at historic lows. The president is taking all the credit for it. Fine! Let him take whatever credit he wants to scarf up.

However, a lot of other matters need our attention.

Trump has trashed our alliances; he has cozied up to strongmen abroad; he has thrown bouquets at the feet of North Korean killer/despot Kim Jong Un and Russian spymaster/strongman Vladimir Putin; he has denigrated our intelligence agencies’ assessment that Russia attacked our electoral system; he has disparaged an American war hero.

Trump promised to stay off the golf course, only to spend more time on the links than any president in history; he runs an executive government branch that only is about two-thirds full, with key offices lacking anyone in charge; he relies on his unqualified son-in-law to look for Middle East peace.

Trump conducts public policy via Twitter; he fired the FBI director because he was doing his job; he fired an attorney general because the AG determined he could expose himself to conflict of interest.

Trump solicited a foreign government for personal political favors and blocked all key aides from testifying before Congress … two actions that led to his impeachment.

The president likely will survive a Senate trial. Then he’ll run for re-election. The task awaiting voters is to determine whether the president — who has set an unofficial record for lying — deserves another four years as our head of state and commander in chief.

We need to elect a president who understands the limitations of his office, who recognizes tradition and decorum, who can rebuild the alliances that have been tattered and torn, who puts the public interest ahead of his or her personal interest.

By golly, this upcoming election looks to me to be the most consequential in my lifetime. We might even be able to expand the superlative before it’s over.

FBI director might be headed for the exits … yes?

When the person who appoints you to an important job refers to you as the “current” individual doing that job, then you might want to consider your next career move.

So it might be with FBI Director Christopher Wray, to whom Donald Trump referred as the “current director.” Why the qualifier? Well, Wray has backed up the findings of the Justice Department inspector general who said that the FBI did not launch its probe into the Russia election interference with any political bias.

Here is what Trump said via Twitter about Wray: I don’t know what report current Director of the FBI Christopher Wray was reading, but it sure wasn’t the one given to me. With that kind of attitude, he will never be able to fix the FBI, which is badly broken despite having some of the greatest men & women working there!

Trump has alleged that former FBI Director James Comey was biased against him when he began examining allegations that Russia attacked our electoral system in 2016. He fired Comey in 2017. The IG was brought in to determine whether the probe began because of bias against Trump.

The IG, Michael Horowitz, said the FBI did not act with political prejudice, although he did scold the FBI for committing serious mistakes in seeking warrants involving one of Trump’s campaign aides. Political bias? Prejudice? Not there, said Horowitz.

And so now we are left to wonder whether Christopher Wray, whom Trump selected to succeed Comey, is headed for the proverbial political guillotine.

I have lived long enough to remember a lot of internal political battles. I’ve watched them from some distance. Even during Watergate, when the FBI got caught up in that hideous scandal, I don’t ever recall an embattled President Nixon refer to the FBI boss in terms that the current embattled president is using against Wray.

What does this do to morale among the troops in the trenches? How does it affect their performance? How do they concentrate on the myriad investigative duties required of them while the director is being singled out by the president?

The chaos persists. The bad news is that it is quite likely to worsen.

Meanwhile, the IG makes some big news

While members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee today were making spectacles of themselves with their posturing about this and that regarding Donald Trump hideous behavior, the Justice Department’s inspector general managed to make some real news.

Michael Horowitz, who is known to be a non-partisan straight shooter, released a report today that debunks Trump’s assertion that the FBI acted properly in instigating its investigation into Russia’s attack on our electoral system in 2016.

Boom! Bingo! There you go!

The president has been yammering seemingly forever that the FBI was prompted by partisan political concerns to launch a probe into the Russians’ attack on our system. The IG said today the FBI report was done properly and with justification.

To be fair, the IG did scold the FBI on some procedural matters involving some aspects of the information gathering it completed. The IG said the FBI committed “errors” while wiretapping a member of Trump’s campaign staff. The big stuff? The conspiracy that Trump and others have sought to perpetuate? No deal, man! Ain’t nothing there, according to the Horowitz.

Of course, Attorney General William Barr has criticized the report. He is holding onto the notion that the FBI conspired to ensnare the president with an investigation based on specious allegations that President Barack Obama ordered the wiretapping of the Trump campaign offices.

The inspector general has cleared the FBI of the idiotic allegations that Trump and others have leveled at the world’s premier investigative agency. This is a big deal that, to my mind, eclipses the posturing many Americans today witnessed by members of a key congressional committee.

The inspector general’s report likely won’t silence Donald Trump. He’ll keep hammering away with his Twitter account that the FBI was inspired by partisan concerns to undermine his election as president. The IG says otherwise.

I am going to stand with the inspector general.

The Russians did it … dammit!

Republicans who have circled the wagons around Donald J. Trump keep repeating yet another lie about Russia and the goons who attacked our election in 2016.

I am about to scream at the top of the lungs!

They keep trying to implicate Ukraine as at minimum a co-conspirator in the attack on our electoral system that aimed to help elect Donald Trump.

Wait a second!

The CIA has said the Russians, all by themselves, did it. The Director of National Intelligence said the same thing. So has the FBI. And the National Security Agency. Same for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The Russians did it! The Russians are fomenting the Ukraine lie and the GOP — led by Donald Trump — is parroting the rhetoric being spit out by the Russian propaganda machine.

I cannot stand listening to this lie. When will the leadership of the once-Grand Old Party listen to the truth?