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Rosenblum writes: "Venezuelans are dying in the streets to preserve their democracy. All we Americans have to do is vote. If we're not up to that, history will see us as the people who capitulated, dumbly handing over our keys to a self-obsessed clown."

Donald Trump. (photo: Getty)
Donald Trump. (photo: Getty)

After Referendumb, a Coup Attempt; Is Capitulation Next?

By Mort Rosenblum, Reader Supported News

11 August 17


hether Donald Trump is a bumbling selfish fool or an evil genius no longer matters. Only months into his presidency, with swaggering relish on a pause from golf, he has brought the world to nuclear High Noon.

Saddam Hussein hunkered in a spider hole or Muammar Qaddafi impaled on a broomstick ought to teach us something. Tyrants cannot let themselves back away from showdown, least of all Kim Jung-un. God help us all if he delivers a suicide note.

Most likely, China will defuse the crisis quietly. With sticks and carrots, it can induce Kim to deescalate in some face-saving manner. That requires Trump to shut the hell up and not let his CIA director threaten "regime change."

The last war North Korea started, with 1950s weaponry, killed 1.2 million people. Status quo boiled over because Trump taunted Kim in January, saying his missiles would not reach America. U.S. Pacific bases were then already in range.

Now, with Seoul just down the road from heavy artillery, Trump threatens "fire and fury such as the world has never seen." Even generous interpretation suggests he is ready for nuclear war to deflect prosecutors circling the White House.

Then there are his ham-handed moves on the Middle East backgammon board, his two-faced bluster about the destructive, needless Wall that Mexico won't actually pay for, and so much else in an overheated world that badly needs cooling down.

Meantime, schism in America is shaping an authoritarian state that cripples education, plunders natural resources, widens income gaps and reduces America to an isolated also-ran world power. We have few checks and no balance.

Should Trump exit the scene, we are left with Mike Pence, a narrowly focused fundamentalist who slavishly enables the disgraceful Washington tragicomedy. Mitch McConnell has no soul, and Paul Ryan has no spine.

Growing resistance and Trump's dropping popularity offer hope. But most Americans are so disheartened and confused that they simply tune out, focusing on their own workaday struggles. That is dangerous beyond description.

Now we hear federal agents stormed Paul Manafort's home at dawn, an extreme not reached during the tensest moments of Watergate. Investigators are probing Trump's all-in-the-family machinations. He still won't release his tax returns.

History shows a demagogue can destroy a democracy with a 30 percent hardcore base willfully blind to fact. Today, an autocrat can speak directly to followers, bypassing reporters while enabling police and the courts to muzzle dissent.

One dramatic event can tip the balance toward fearful capitulation. A month after Adolf Hitler was sworn in as Germany's elected chancellor in 1933, someone set fire to the Reichstag. We all know what happened next.

Trump's diehards won't change. We need persistent pressure on legislators and government agencies along with massive turnout for any election. This is not about party but rather candidates who care more about us than themselves.

The long-term goal is a Congress and state legislatures that can reform our dysfunctional systems: direct suffrage, shorter campaigns with strict controls on money spent; closer scrutiny of what candidates have done, not what they say.

But the immediate challenge is what Trump promised before doing the polar opposite: Drain the swamp.

Venezuelans are dying in the streets to preserve their democracy. All we Americans have to do is vote. If we're not up to that, history will see us as the people who capitulated, dumbly handing over our keys to a self-obsessed clown.

To do better at home, we need to understand the wider world. Here are some thoughts on how things fall apart from a reporter who first went abroad in 1964 to cover free democratic elections in a peaceful, prosperous Venezuela.

--Consider the term, enemy, and assess actual threat. Russia is a regional power that needs us more than we need it. As candidate Trump said, we should improve relations. But Putin saw him as malleable, what Lenin called a useful idiot.

Now we're enemies. Robert Mueller will shed light on why, if he survives.

--Nations have common interests, not friends. With skillful diplomacy, China and United States could work together on global crises and curb each other's appetites. Trump's flip-flop policy pushes Xi Jinping even harder to build up his arsenal, claim new territory and muscle us aside for strategic materials across the world. As China ascends, human rights diminish and despots dig in deeper.

--Americans who see their brokerage accounts rise need to watch a Roadrunner cartoon. When world realities catch up to Wall Street, Wile E. Coyote is likely to look down and drop like a rock. Economic blocs are moving away from a man whose idea of a "deal" is to threaten, walk away, and crawl back if necessary. That rug-dealer approach works in real estate but not in global trade.

--Bolting our doors and slashing foreign aid does not make us safer. Refugee totals, near 70 million, will soar with droughts and rising seas. We need limits. Yet Trump tried to renege on Barack Obama's promise to admit 1,250 refugees now in Australia, saying we weren't a "dumping ground." In the leaked transcript, he insulted Malcolm Turnbull and showed no human empathy, only concern for his image. "This shows me to be dope...I think it is ridiculous and Obama should never have signed it...It was a rotten deal."

America is hardly to blame for all the world's refugees, but it is the main culprit. Germany, with a fourth the population, which opposed the Iraq War that opened Pandora's box, shelters over a million. We've taken in only a token so far, and many Americans resent even those.

Trump's own words define him, and therefore us: heartless to others' suffering and ignorant of the inevitable result. Many more people now hate us. His priority is a diffuse "war on terror," yet he increases potential terrorists by geometric proportions.

Freedoms we have seen vanish across the world are now eroding at home. Black lives matter. Racism and police discrimination are critical issues. But, beyond the political connotations of the phase, all lives matter. Wrongful death is the extreme, yet there is so much else short of that.

Vignettes reveal a larger picture. I've written about Christopher Morris, the photographer who a federal agent slammed to the ground at a Trump rally. He has covered Washington for so long, with intimate White House access, that the Secret Service chief is a friend. Trump's people invited him to that rally as part of a Time magazine profile.

Recently, Chris gave me the details. A Secret Service agent pushed him when he tried to take a picture. That was breach of protocol by a rookie infused with rally fervor; agents don't touch. Chris said so, including a "fuck" in there somewhere. The man dropped him with a choke hold.

"I made a serious mistake when I got up," Chris said. "I touched his throat to show him what he had done." That amounted to assaulting a federal officer, a possible 16 years in prison. In the time of Trump, Chris decided not to file charges.

That is how it starts. Imagine when it is you against Them, with no cameras catching every detail or friends in high places. Trump was not yet president. Now he urges police to brutality, to treat suspects as guilty until proven innocent.

There is far more to say, and plenty of others have said it. It is time now to fit together the isolated outrages and idiocies into a clear picture of what we face, as individuals and as a nation.

Trump is not likely to win in 2020, but we said that in 2016. Before America went to the polls, I wrote that the election amounted to a referendumb that would define us. Later, I described a creeping coup d'etat, a bald assault on the Constitution.

Today, the more evidence reporters and analysts show us, the deeper those deplorables dig in. "Alternative-fact" outlets present lies as truth. Rich backers buy once-trusted news outlets and launch new ones. For starters, Google the new radio scourge, Sinclair Broadcasting, and find John Oliver's expose of its menace.

Now, urgently, we need to resist at every level, challenge every action not worthy of us, and correct our lapse of good sense. The alternative is cowardly, ignominious capitulation. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+17 # grandlakeguy 2017-08-12 00:32
Mr. Rosenblum says:
"All we Americans have to do is vote." to effect the change we so desperately need in our nation.

This is precisely the problem, that an intelligent writer who could pen a powerful article such as this is absolutely clueless about the blatant and obvious fact that American elections are an absolute charade!

Until and unless the American people wake up and realize that voting is futile as long as the Republicans count our votes nothing will really improve.
It will only get worse.
+8 # ReconFire 2017-08-12 08:58
Agree. What gets me is even progressives act like they are annoyed when this fact is brought up. It's like this message just isn't registering.
+9 # chrisconno 2017-08-12 08:39
Between voter roll purges for thing like similar names, voter ID laws that discriminate against all but a few IDs (licenses for concealed weapons accepted student IDs not), closing offices where IDs can be obtained in poorer neighborhoods, shortened polling hours in historically Democratic precincts while increasing hours at historically republican precincts, all the while claiming that millions of illegal immigrants voted. It is getting harder for those of us who know how important it is to vote, imagine how hard it is for those who are only now understanding what we are losing.
+1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-08-12 10:59
It is just hard to fathom the ignorancce and arrogance of this author. Of course, arrogance always goes along with ignorance.

1. "Saddam Hussein hunkered in a spider hole" Why parrot the language of the odious criminal Jerry Bremer.

2. "The last war North Korea started." Why parrot US government propaganda. The US never admits that it started the war. It always blames someone else. The US said North Vietnam started war when it attacked two US military ships in the Gulf of Tonkein. Most people are smart enough now not to believe anything the US says about war. In fact, the US had been attacking, bombing, and killing North Koreans (and south Koreans, too) for years. The actual war began in 1945 when the US invaded Korea, occupied it, and imposed a puppet government. N. Korea was only defending its homes and its nation.

3. "That was breach of protocol by a rookie infused with rally fervor; agents don't touch" Only an inexperienced person would say this. I've been slammed to the ground, kicked, and beaten by federal agents or marshalls. Of course, their public relations say they don't brutalize protesters, but the Ferguson police also say they don't murder black kids.
+3 # LeDeux Art 2017-08-12 11:15
We had 911, The United States Reichstag Fire, it's absurd the author dismisses this and questions if President Trump will do this next.
+7 # bdeja 2017-08-12 11:32
"All we have to do is vote.." If our votes will be counted and if we are allowed to vote are more the issues. Whether through gerrymandering, cross-check, voter I.D., and or hacking our votes are truly challenged. We must first get rid of our easily hackable electric voting machines. And then challenge the rest of the right's voting roadblocks. The right really doesn't want people to vote.
+4 # Dale 2017-08-12 11:46
This analysis puts down Trump more or less appropriately, but is really off base in referring to Saddam Hussain and Iraq and Qaddaffi and Libya, both countries invaded by U.S. and their leaders murdered and NATO forces and North Korea did not "ïnvade" it was invaded by U.S. forces, as was Vietnam. Now Trump want to send troops to Venezuela, strenuous measures of regime change not having worked. We are not going to stop Trump or War by parroting the imperial line on these countries. The way to settle the North Korea issue is to leave them alone, pull out troops and weapon systems on the border since 1950, end sanctions and isolation. Meanwhile they have a right to defend themselves, just as do the Venezuelans.

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