Russian bounties — Trump threatens the American experiment

Our existential crisis

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Not once has Trump angrily banged a lectern and promised to get to the bottom of the stunning and heartbreaking story that Russian intelligence was paying lucrative bounties for the lives of American troops murdered in Afghanistan. Not once has Trump pledged to bring justice to the fallen. Not once since the story exploded nearly a week ago has Trump taken the side of the United States and vowed to protect and defend her.

The blockbuster bounty revelation is just the latest controversy to confirm Trump's sweeping and ongoing betrayal. "I don't think the Russians can believe their eyes and ears. It's not to be understood," stressed Retired US Army Gen. Barry McCaffery on MSNBC. "It's sickening on so many levels."

Indeed, the entire, centuries-old American experiment is now being threatened. The press needs to grapple with how it's going to cover one of the biggest, most dangerous stories in our history. Incredibly, not a single major newspaper has called for Trump to resign in the wake of the Russia bounty story, which has been confirmed over and over in recent days. Recall that more than 100 newspapers demanded Bill Clinton step down from office because he uttered a single false sentence under oath about his extramarital affair.

On the eve of the nation's 244th Independence Day celebration, it must be noted that the country is approaching a dangerous precipice rarely seen in its history. Facing an economic crisis, a run-away public health crisis, and a social justice crisis, Trump's America stands bare and vulnerable, as the president wages open warfare on the country. By categorically refusing to protect it from a pandemic, while turning a blind eye as an open adversary pays out rewards for the killing of American troops, Trump represents an internal threat unseen in U.S. history — a man whose closest allegiance is not with America, but with open foes and authoritarians

This is an existential crisis that our Founding Fathers never could have imagined. Or more specifically, they never could have imagined a U.S. president bowing to foreign powers and the president's political party remaining virtually silent, as today's GOP does with Trump's treasonous behavior. 

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Worse, the party is now aggressively encouraging Trump's un-American activities. "The Senate will incorporate the annual intelligence policy legislation into the National Defense Authorization Act -- but only after stripping language from the intelligence bill that would have required presidential campaigns to report offers of foreign election help," CNN reported this week, as the GOP works the clear the way for more foreign interference. Last year, when Democrats vowed to never use any stolen information from hacks during an election, Republicans refused to reciprocate. "Their silence has fueled concerns about the integrity of the 2020 election, which escalated after Trump’s personal attorney suggested that using stolen items might be appropriate," the Washington Post reported.

This is how democracy dies. And this is why the American experiment now stands in peril. "The establishment of our new Government seemed to be the last great experiment for promoting human happiness," said President George Washington, on January 9, 1790, one year into his first term.

From a New-York Daily Tribune editorial, November 27, 1860:

We have been regarded as engaged in trying a great experiment, involving not merely the future fate and welfare of this Western continent, but the hopes and prospects of the whole human race. Is it possible for a Government to be permanently maintained without privileged classes, without a standing army, and without either hereditary or self-appointed rulers?

Today, even those who work for Trump understand he represents a threat to the country. Reporting on Trump's constant flow of personal, feel-good calls to autocratic leaders, CNN's Carl Bernstein this week wrote, "[The] calls helped convince some senior US officials — including his former secretaries of state and defense, two national security advisers and his longest-serving chief of staff — that the President himself posed a danger to the national security of the United States." At the top of Trump's list of phone pals was Russia's Vladimir Putin, to whom Trump appears to have sworn complete loyalty.

"Donald Trump’s actions, his behaviors, his very words, which come right out of the mouth of Vladimir Putin on many subjects—we all see this," author and former naval intelligence officer Malcolm Nance recently explained. "It’s documented. It’s everywhere. The entirety of global media has seen all these things, and, unless you don’t believe anything about the Russian operation against the United States, we all believe it. We all know it. We know there’s something there."

That something seems to be Trump's very real commitment to tearing down the United States, from within. "Trump and his propagandists are actively trying to engineer violent civil conflict, by signaling to white Americans that they are under siege in a race war that they’re losing," noted the Washington Post's Greg Sargent noted. This, while Trump continues to dangerously suggest the deadly Covid-19 virus will soon "disappear on its own."

In 1787, when the Founding Fathers completed the U.S. Constitution in Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin famously told an inquiring woman what the gathering had produced, "A republic, madam, if you can keep it."

Centuries later that American experiment presses on, now under attack from the Oval Office.

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Former national security adviser Susan Rice this week asks the most pressing question of the Trump era: “Why Does Trump Put Russia First?”

At best, our commander in chief is utterly derelict in his duties, presiding over a dangerously dysfunctional national security process that is putting our country and those who wear its uniform at great risk. At worst, the White House is being run by liars and wimps catering to a tyrannical president who is actively advancing our arch adversary’s nefarious interests.

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Scooter Jennings, "4th of July"

There are so many great songs with direct references to Independence Day, or that touch upon the topics that surround America's birthday. This one from Waylon Jenning's son, Scooter, is among my favorite. Not because it has any deep message about our nation or its future — it definitely does not. But because it is hands down one of the best country-rock hybrids ever recorded.

I've listened to this song hundreds of times since it's release nearly a decade ago, and it never fails to deliver a smile and sometimes, as it gallops and careens, even a chill. And yes, George Jones makes a last-minute cameo.

Have a swell holiday weekend. And if you're lucky enough to be at a lake, play this one on the dock.

You were pretty as can be, sitting in the front seat
Looking at me, telling me you love me
And your happy to be with me on the 4th of July
We sang 'Stranglehold' to the stereo
Couldn't take no more of that rock 'n' roll
So we put on a little George Jones and just sang along