A Trident Of News

Traditionally the Sunday article covers the biggest event of the prior week. Today that is impossible. Several events have been covered in detail earlier leaving three, all of which are equally important and unfortunately bad. In no particular order, let’s explore.

The Trump administration has continued their march toward resembling the fascist regimes of mid-twentieth century Europe by separating refugee children from their refugee parents at the border. This inhuman conduct has included taking at least one baby from its breastfeeding mother.  This period in American history will go down to be as shameful as the S.S. St. Louis affair and the Japanese internment.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has tried to justify this action by invoking the Bible. Interestingly he used the same passage that was has been used to justify slavery among sins in America’s past. I find it particularly concerning that the chief law enforcement officer in the land doesn’t seem to understand that we are a secular nation that respects religious freedom and whose laws are based on the Constitution. While a huge portion of Americans choose to exercise their religious freedom by practicing Christianity or Judaism (the two major religions based on the Bible) neither testament is American law. The religious freedom of people practicing other religions, agnostics and atheist are just as valid in America. That has been the law since 1791 with the adoption of the First Amendment.

President Trump blames the Democrats for the law separating the children from their parents. Reality is the statutes he is citing were passed under the Obama or W. administrations and the only thing that has changed is the orders issued by the Trump administration on how to enforce them. The truth is that this is a way to appease his base and try to force Congress into paying for his wall. (Mexico has repeatedly stated in no uncertain terms that it will not!) In Trump’s mind America’s morality is a small price to pay when you can skim a ton of money off building a needless and ineffective wall.

As an interesting sidelight it appears that Trump is as arithmetically challenged as Speaker Paul Ryan. When a reporter correctly pointed out that the Republicans control both chambers of Congress as well as the White House and could pass corrective immigration legislation on the child separation issue any time they desired the President countered that they only control the Senate by a single vote and needed 60 to get anything done necessitating 10 Democratic votes. That is both factually and mathematically incorrect.

First off Trump created the problem with a directive that he can countermand with the stroke of his pen. If he decided to go the legislative route an unnecessary but clean bill would not only avoid a filibuster it would get overwhelming Democratic support in the Senate. 60 votes are needed to override a filibuster. 60 minus 51 equals 9 not 10. I may have been a little hard on the Speaker. He is arithmetically challenged and not particularly skilled at counting votes but I think even he could have handled that subtraction problem.

Friday afternoon former 2016 Trump Campaign Chairman, Paul Manafort, went to jail pending the result of his September trail in D.C. for alleged witness tampering while on bail. Trump tweeted that this was a harsh sentence. This illustrates both his contempt for and ignorance of our legal system. It was not a sentence; that only comes after conviction. Witness tampering (the government’s case thus far must look pretty convincing or the judge would have never made the ruling she did) is a serious crime that strikes at the very heart and integrity of our legal system.

There is much speculation that this action will cause Manafort to flip. I’m not so sure. I believe that Manafort is much more afraid of the Russian mob and intelligence community than he is of prison. For the immediate future alive, albeit miserable, in prison is preferable to dead. How difficult would it be to get a Russian assassin into the D.C. lockup? In my mind the answer is not very.

The Justice Department Inspector General’s investigation into the FBI’s handling of the investigations into the Clinton and Trump during the 2016 election was released last week. Trump claimed that it vindicated him of any wrongdoing in his dealings with Russia. That is patently false; it made no conclusions in that matter because it never dealt with it. Trump’s minions cherry picked a series of tweets between an FBI agent and his mistress attorney in which they were uncomplimentary to Trump. They conveniently ignored tweets that were similarly uncomplimentary to other candidates including Hillary Clinton.

Worth noting is that the report is incomplete and did not yet deal with purported leaks from the New York office to Trump supporter Rudy Giuliani.

The bottom line here is very simple as borne out in the report. James Comey made some seriously flawed decisions that probably influenced the election in Trump’s favor. A legitimate question is whether or not they were decisive. The reality is that we will never be able to quantify their impact to the extent that we will be able to definitively answer that question. This much is clear: Comey’s actions helped Trump and hurt Clinton. There are only two words Trump should have for Comey and the FBI: they are “Thank you”.

I deliberately used the word “Trident” in today’s title because the ultimate symbol of evil (The Devil) is always portrayed as carrying a three pronged pitchfork (or trident). This is a trident of bad news each of which stabs America in its heart.

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