Is Russia Blackmailing The GOP?

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I mean this as a serious question.

I spent a number of years as a US Army Counterintelligence Special Agent and my mind still thinks in those terms. On December 9th, The New York Times reported that the RNC was hacked and that the intelligence community has high confidence that Russia was behind it. We are all well aware of last summer’s WikiLeaks reveal of the DNC hack, but as of this writing, there has been no reveal of the RNC hack. Gentle reader, this sounds like a wonderful opportunity for the Russians to engage in blackmail.

Face it, the GOP e-mail has as high a likelihood of containing dirt as their Democratic counterparts did. Republican leaders would surely be loath to see that dirt all over the internet, but what are they willing to do to prevent that? We don’t know, but merely the suspicion of blackmail weakens the party’s legitimacy. How do we know that when Mitch McConnell bucks a congressional effort to investigate the hacks that he is not acting at Moscow’s bidding?

The answer is; we don’t.

There is just one way the RNC can rid itself of this suspicion; release their own e-mails now. Will the public see their dirty laundry? Of course, but the public will also be reassured that the GOP is not under threat of blackmail by Putin. It would also improve the party’s standing with the American people and show that they are truly the party of personal responsibility.

Until such action is taken, however, the dark cloud of suspicion remains. And we all must wonder–is the GOP being blackmailed?

What is equally scary to me is that this question is not being addressed in the media. Why they are ignoring this story is beyond me. But I know that until they pay attention to it, nobody will. This is where we must act. I strongly encourage everyone reading this post to write a letter to the editor of their local newspaper. This is an easy way to thrust the issue in their face and make them notice.

So, please, I urge you, take the time to do this.

 

By Clayton J. Callahan

Bah, Humbug, Conservatives!

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Well, I had a good Christmas and I hope you did too. For me, of course, any Christmas not spent in Iraq is good. Presents be damned. I just feel lucky to be home with my family, and my heart goes out to those who can’t be.

A tradition my family holds at this time is an annual viewing of A Christmas Carol staring George C. Scott. It’s a very good movie version and I recommend it. Of course, the 1843 novella by Charles Dickens made Scrooge as synonymous with Christmas as Santa Clause. It has been made into over twenty movies, as well as stage plays, and numerous parodies. This story of ghostly redemption runs through our veins in America, and it’s an odd person indeed who hasn’t heard the tale at some time.

But you wouldn’t know that by listening to our conservative friends.

Conservatives have apparently taken pains to shove chewing gum in their ears every time they encounter this story. Gleefully, they clap as the curtain falls on their kid’s Christmas play. And then they go out into the world crying, “Welfare recipients, immigrants, homeless people…bah, humbug!”

Wait, you may say, don’t conservatives give to charities that relieve the suffering of the less fortunate?

Am I perhaps being unfair?

My answer is, no. I am not being unfair, because the fact is charitable donations from evangelical churches and, other such outlets are but a drop in the comprehensive ocean of the needs of the less fortunate in America. Since Ronald Regan began dismantling the “Great Society” and the “New Deal” in 1980, homelessness has gone up and wages down. As Bruce Springsteen sang; “times are tough and just getting tougher,” and thus the need grows ever greater year by year.  And sadly, much of the money that is donated to evangelical charity pays not for sheltering the homeless but for some TV preacher’s mega-mansion (I’m talking about you, Joel Osteen). Such charity only serves to make the donor feel a little less guilty and the poor slightly less miserable for a day or two…but the suffering never truly goes away.

Now, of course, the character, Scrooge, was loathe even to give to charity at the start of his story. When asked to give to the relief fund he says, “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses? My taxes pay for such things. I do not make merry at Christmas, and I can’t afford to make idle people merry.”

Idle people? To me, that line well sums up Scrooge’s opinion of the poor; that they are simply lazy or otherwise unworthy of his help. And how many times have I heard a conservative run down welfare recipients as exactly that! Never mind the FACT that over 50% of welfare recipients get off the dole and back on their feet within two years. Never mind the FACT that fraudsters are a pitifully small percentage of the truly needy that receives welfare. Never mind the FACT that there are some people in every society, such as the mentally retarded or physically disabled, who simply cannot support themselves. When I hear conservatives talk about the poor the subject of laziness often pops up in the very first sentence. It’s as if the fictional Scrooge himself is writing their real world dialog!

So, now that we’ve covered the Scrooge/Conservative position on the jobless. Let us move on to a Scroogian discussion of the WORKING poor. In A Christmas Carol, the working poor are epitomized by Scrooge’s one employee. Bob Cratchit works hard, under a strict boss in a cold office, for pitiful wages. No matter how many hours he puts in, though, it’s never quite enough to support his family. And what of Tiny Tim’s medical needs? Forget it, Bob, because there’s no way for him to afford any doctor’s service. Bob’s only hope to save his sickly child lies in prayer. In scene after scene, we hear Bob Cratchit talk of taking his son to church and praying for a miracle. However, according to the Ghost of Christmas Future, such a miracle will not come from heaven, and the lad’s only hope is to get decent healthcare!

Does any of this sound familiar?

Have you heard conservatives blasting the working poor too? I’ve had many a conversation on the subjects of raising the minimum wage or Obamacare with these folks and they never go well. Essentially, my conservative friends will say, “Raise the minimum wage? Humbug! They should either work harder or go find a better job! And who told that Cratchit fellow to have so many kids? Require employers to provide health insurance? Why, that would take away our freedom!” And then I get called a socialist, and my ex-friend storms off in a huff.

To be clear, Charles Dickens would be considered a socialist today. He was raised in poverty, his father did time in prison for failing to repay debts and only his natural genius for writing saved him from a lifetime of drudgery working in a shoe blackening factory.

“Ha!” Cries the conservative, “You see he worked hard and succeeded! Charles Dickens didn’t need welfare!”

To which I reply, true, he did work hard and made good. However, he also understood that not everybody is born a fragging writing genius! Not everyone gets a lucky break, and hard work does not guarantee success or even survival in this world.

When The Ghost of Christmas Present takes Scrooge to see the homeless, we encounter a scene where a man laments that he wants to work but can’t find a job. The homeless man must instead feed his children potatoes that fell from a cart, and he proudly insists that he did not steal them. The man is clearly devastated, but powerless to improve his situation in a world of uncaring capitalism and inadequate charity. I believe that Charles Dickens understood such a man’s plight. He knew that if society valued fiction writing as much as it did such a man’s labor, he’d also have been feeding his children purloined potatoes as well.

So, what remedy do we find in A Christmas Carol? Surly the story promotes charity as a virtue. Scrooge is only redeemed when he starts to share his wealth with the less fortunate.Does Dickens desire us all to be more charitable? Yes, I’d say he obviously does. However, it is also obvious that Dickens does not expect the Scrooges of the world to be charitable without some compulsion. The needs of the less fortunate were great in 1843 as they are now in 2016. So, can we count on the three spirits to visit each and every miserly billionaire in America until there is enough charity to go around?

Does Dickens desire us all to be more charitable? Yes, I’d say he obviously does. However, it is also obvious that Dickens does not expect the Scrooges of the world to be charitable without some compulsion. The needs of the less fortunate were great in 1843 as they are now in 2016. So, can we count on the three spirits to visit each and every miserly billionaire in America until there is enough charity to go around?

Nope.

We must instead look to less ethereal methods of helping the downtrodden. Put simply, we must adequately tax the wealthy and use those resources to help folks pick themselves up when there down. And we must ensure those who are on their feet stay there with the help of a living minimum wage and accessible healthcare. To me, this lesson is as plain as the nose on Ebenezer Scrooge’s face. But no matter how many times conservatives encounter A Christmas Carol; the poor remain the undeserving idle, especially if they are new to our country.

I find this lack of enlightenment frustrating, to say the least. But I keep trying to help them see the light and I keep watching A Christmas Carol every year.

 

By Clayton J. Callahan

 

 

What’s So Special About Trump?

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I recently had a conversation with a friend who doesn’t follow politics very closely. He asked why I was so active in the Anti-Trump Resistance. “After all,” he said, “you can’t expect to win every election. The wheel will continue to turn, and your side may well win the next time.”

And the thing is; I completely understood his point. We’ve all seen political trends and the politicians who represent them come and go. From Ronald Regan’s conservatism to Bill Clinton’s moderate liberalism, the American political pendulum has swung back and forth many times and yet, we are all still here. So why is there now an entire resistance movement dedicated to the ouster of one Donald J. Trump, Republican president-elect?

Well, friend, I am so glad you asked!

First off, I must admit that I have never seen so much as one episode of The Apprentice, so my opinion of him is not based in any way from his reality TV days. The fact is, his show simply didn’t appeal to me. Mostly, I’m a hard news junkie and a history buff. I do not follow celebrities so never paid any attention to The Donald before he took on the position of Birther in Chief. At that point, he came across my viewscreen, and my opinion of him began to form as a man well beyond the pale of acceptable American behavior.

The Birther thing is important to mention. Not only for my encounter with him through it but also because it shows Trump’s willingness to tout an outright lie for his own self-promotional ends. Do all politicians lie? Well…yes. The fact is everybody slips a fib now and then. But to outright embrace such a fabrication and push it for years on end is a worrisome trait and not the sign of a reasonable person, to say the least.

Next, The Donald began his campaign for president in earnest, and my worries about the man grew proportionally. In Republican debates, he openly bullied his opponents with childish name-calling and open disrespect. I did not view this as a sign of toughness, but rather of a mean-spirited immaturity.

His rallies were even more troubling to me. I have never in my life heard an American politician calling for his supporters to “knock the crap” out of protesters. Nor was this a one-time slip in judgment. Again and again, he encouraged violence in response to protesters. I can quote him saying that “in the old days people like that would be carried out on a stretcher,” and promising to his followers that he would “pay the legal bills” if they did as he commanded.

Now, seriously WTF!!

If that kind of behavior from a political doesn’t make your skin crawl, I don’t know what will.

I did get some blog posts sent to me from conservative friends at that time saying that the violence at the rallies was actually started by Bernie supporters. This may have been my first real exposure to fake news, as I found nothing to support such claims. But even if I’d entertained the fantasy that Bernie had sent thugs to Trump rallies, what responsible leader would encourage violence by audience members? The answer is–Mr. Trump! When police did intervene, Trump actually mocked them for being “politically correct” when they didn’t use violence to subdue the protesters.

I’m sorry folks, but this in not normal behavior for any Republican or Democrat I’ve ever heard of. This is not a Gorge W. Bush or Ronald Regan type of politician who I merely happen to disagree with. This is instead classic fascist behavior. I found it terrifying and I began to follow The Donald a lot more closely after that.

Then came his call to “…ban all Muslims from entering this country until we can find out what’s going on.” This made me sit up in my chair. Didn’t The Donald know you can’t do that in America? Had he never heard of the First Amendment? Later, I found out that in the right wing conspiracy world Islam is a “political movement” not a religion. Now, which is more scary;, a leader who hasn’t heard of the First Amendment or one who buys into conspiracy theories about a major world religion? Frankly, I’ve yet to decide, but both bode poorly for our liberties.

Trump also seems fascinated with illegal aliens from Mexico specifically (“They’re rapists. They’re bringing drugs. They’re criminals…”). What about the illegal immigrants from Eastern Europe or Ireland? True, many of our illegal aliens are Hispanic, but not all by a long shot. If he’s so in touch with this issue, he’d know non-Hispanics make up about one-third to one-half of that eleven million. Thus, his speeches smacked of racism, and that is a trait I have never admired.

He promised to create a “deportation force” to round up the estimated eleven million illegal aliens in this country. Presumably, he intended to send them back to their countries of origin, but what if that’s not always an option? Do we put these people in camps? Like I said, I’m a history enthusiast, and histories about people getting rounded up by armed men never end well.

I also noted his Twitter threat to take American citizenship away from people who burn the American flag. Since such people obviously can’t be deported to their country of origin, what would become of them? Again, I see camps with barbed wire fences, and I don’t have to concentrate very hard to imagine what we would call such places.

When Trump won the Republican nomination, he really got rolling. In his acceptance speech, he said, “No one knows the system better than I, and only I can fix it.” Am I being picky to take issue with this quote? Nope! American politicians typically lay out a plan or a philosophy for fixing our problems, but not The Donald. Stating that he alone can fix our nation’s problems is CLASSIC fascism.

For those unfamiliar with the term; fascism is a system of government that centers on a single leader who is seen as indispensable to solve the nation’s problems. Examples of fascist leaders are Italy’s Mussolini, Spain’s Franko, and the oft commented on Germany’s Hitler. And, buddy, if you think that by simply following an all-knowing leader everything will be fine, I’ve got some books for you to read with titles like “The Rise and Fall Of…”

By this time in the election season, I was watching everything The Donald did. Not for entertainment value but because this nut truly scared me. After the Republican convention, there was a lot of talk of a Trump “pivot.” By this, it was meant that he would drop all that extreme talk to be reborn as a normal American politician. It hasn’t happened yet, and I’m not holding my breath. He continued to fear monger (crime is everywhere and illegal immigrants are the reason), to spout conspiracy theories (Climate change is a myth created by China), and to bully his one remaining political opponent (Threatening to lock her up).

Trump was a disaster in all three debates, and it was obvious he had no idea what he was talking about. Unfortunately, his opponent was the target of a well-orchestrated smear campaign and, in the end, The Donald squeaked by an Electoral College victory.

So, here we are. I am still watching the news and am sadly not surprised by The Donald in the least. As I write, he is filling his staff with conspiracy theorists and fear mongers like himself who, also like himself, have no experience in the fields they will be working in. He is ignoring hard-earned intelligence briefings because he’s “like a smart person” and already has all the answers. Also, he is still attacking those who exercise free speech (Demanding the Hamilton cast apologize and raving about Alek Baldwin’s performance on SNL).

His conduct has shown him to be a racist, self-centered, ignorant egomaniac with a penchant for fascism. To me, all the warning signs of a dictatorship are clear for all to see, and the man isn’t even in the White House yet. Under such circumstances, I think any reasonable person has a should to be afraid of what a nutcase like this might do once he has actual power in his tiny little hands.

Resistance, thus, becomes the only alternative to surrender…and I never cared much for surrender.

 

By Clayton J. Callahan

A Silver Medal It Is, In The Electorial College

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Well, folks, we didn’t get our miracle gold medal win in the Electorial College today…but we didn’t lose either!

For the first time in my lifetime, the Electorial College made the news–because seven of them turned “faithless!” Not enough to defeat The Donald, I know, but enough to send a message to those who would listen. Trump is NOT a normal president-elect. He is not a sane or rational human being. He is EXTREMELY unpopular in this country as evidenced by the 2.8 million votes by which Hillary exceeded him and by the hundreds of thousands of letters, e-mails and phone calls that bombarded Republican electors asking them to vote for ANYBODY but Trump!

hillary In short, folks, this is a silver medal win, and we need to celebrate it. Why? Because until we can win big and take back congress, every victory counts. With every sting and every cut inflicted on the demagog, we grow stronger and he grows weaker. Wars are not won in single battles but by the persistent and unyielding pressure one puts upon one’s enemy.

The Resistance is organizing and we are growing with purpose every time we engage with the foe. Thanks to the recent Electoral College campaign, I am now networked with people all over this country. Make no mistake, The Donald will win most of the upcoming fights. He has the power of the government on his side, for now, and he will use it. But as the fight drags on, expect him to weaken. With every letter writing campaign, every lawsuit, and every protest we chip away at his legitimacy.

So savor that silver medal, everyone, and keep striving for the gold!

 

By Clayton J. Callahan

 

Musings On Media Bias

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For a long time,Liberal I’ve endured conservatives berating how the Media has a liberal bias and therefore the world is unfair to them. It’s not true, but they take it as such a point of gospel that one finds it impossible to dissuade them. Loudly, I’ve heard them they declare that the Media is part of the great liberal conspiracy to subvert these proud United States and put us all in FEMA camps…or something.

I know I will never convince a diehard conservative of anything. Because facts (as I will explain herein) have been replaced by the siren song of fake news and have less weight than ever before in our culture. Still, for those of open mind, I do have some observations to share about the Media and its bias.

First of all, I must state for the record that The Media does not exist! That’s right; there is no “capital M” media. Even the Associated Press is only a loose conglomeration of independent newspapers and broadcast outlets at best. As a giant monolithic conspiracies go, the American press corps fails completely.

Sure, you can point to the cooperate ownership of many media outlets and try to make a case for a giant with tentacles and typewriters that controls the information landscape. However, it is seldom the case that these business tycoons try to meddle with their news properties. As long as a given paper is making money and not undermining related businesses, the big wigs tend to keep hands off. The reason for their behavior is not egalitarian but rather profit. You see, people buy papers and watch TV news because they trust that they are getting the real scoop. The fact is, that the paper that wins the greater trust of the public sells more copies than the paper that’s an obvious shill for big oil, big pharma, or whatever.

In short, the editors of the “lame-stream” media outlets don’t meet in some secret basement to smoke cigars and plot what politician to target for annihilation. Instead, they stay in their own offices and each tries to best the other in getting an exclusive story or staying on top of whatever trend the public seems to want to know about. In this sense, Fox News, CNN, The New York Times and NPR are all competitors in a field that’s called “the media,” without caps.

My next point is that the media is in fact biased, but not toward the liberals. To refute the conservative claim, however, I must employ nuisance which tends to turn them instantly deaf. So, please bear with me. The media’s actual bias cannot be summed up on a bumper sticker for your Uncle John’s pickup…but it exists none the less. The media’s culture is biased toward sensationalism, conflict, violence, sex and celebrity. Why? Because that’s what sells newspapers in America, friend.

Imagine you’re a reporter and you just handed a story to your editor about two local politicians politely disagreeing over school funding when, suddenly, your co-worker brushes past you to hand in a scoop on a celebrity who’s dress tore open in public. Can you guess which story will make page one? This is not even a hard decision for your hypothetical editor, by the way, who’s faced with declining subscription rates. Page one is Jenny Starlight’s boob, and maybe page seventeen will have your blurb about school funding.

Now, that’s actually the part where the average citizen loses the whole darn media game. School funding issues affect thousands of people in any given town. The decision’s that local politicians make regarding our children are of extreme importance. Whereas, a movie star flashing her boob means nothing! Our lives are totally unaffected by Jenny Starlight’s mammary glands! Thus, we have a right to be frustrated when media outlets don’t serve the public good. But, sadly, we have no one to blame but ourselves. After all, we are the ones who choose which paper to buy, and our eyes are drawn to the sensational over the substance almost every time.

This leads to a phenomenon I refer to as “top forty news.” Like the radio stations that play the same forty songs over and over again, media outlets all tend to cover the same stories until we’re sick of hearing them. After all, if the Moring Bugle just sold a bunch of papers featuring Jenny Starlight’s boob you can bet the Daily Times will follow suit. Right now, I bet you can go to the New York Times front-page, compare it to the Washington Post, and see the same darn stories, front and center. Neither paper will have anything different to say about these subjects, facts are facts. However, they will both cover them simply because that’s what’s trending in the news right now.

Are there other stories being neglected by this top forty news phenomena? You bet your butt! Just like there are hundreds of great bands whose songs you will never hear. And this problem has been getting worse for a long time now. With so many local newspapers going under and the big guys printing thinner and thinner editions every year, there is only room for the top forty anymore.

This brings me (regrettably) to Trump.

Why did Trump get such a lift from the media when more worthy Republican candidates waited in the wings? I think by now it’s rather obvious. Trump was a celebrity, who did wacky and sensational things. Put his ugly mug on the front page, and the newspaper is sure to sell. What about Hillary? Well, sure, the famous wife of an ex-president who’s the subject of scandal sells equally well.

But wait…Hillary’s scandals were all bull-crap!

True, Hillary was never found criminally liable for ANYTHING. She was exonerated by the Benghazi hearings (all of them), and nothing in her e-mails ever revealed anything other than a few minor missteps.  So why was the story of her “scandals” all over the media? Because of two reasons: 1) it was top forty news, and 2) the media was trying not to appear biased.

I know, it’s weird, but the right’s constant accessions of liberal media bias have had a cultural effect on the press. For decades now, Republican pundits and politicians have so decried the “left leaning media” that a large portion of the population has started to believe it. Therefore, in order to keep the public trust, reporters covering the election did their best to provide “fair and balanced coverage.”

The only problem was the situation they were reporting on could not possibly have been more unbalanced! On the one hand, you had a steady, liberal politician who’d made a few minor mistakes in a thirty-year career of public service. And on the other hand, you had a nutcase whose bankruptcies, adulteries, lawsuits, and other scandals could fill an encyclopedia. So, the media underreported on the liberal politician and over reported on the nutcase to keep from appearing liberally biased!

Again, no dark basement room housed the network executives who plotted this out. This was not a conspiracy by “the Media.” Rather, it was an effect of modern press culture. And as consumers of the media, sadly folks, we got what we paid for.

Where did the American conservative community get their narrative that the press leans left, you may ask? Good question, I say. My answer is Watergate. When Woodward and Bernstein cracked the case on the biggest political scandal of a generation, a Republican happened to be in the White House.  Had past presidents also done bad things? Certainly! But it was the conservative who had to resign the highest office in the land, and that chafed a lot of butts.

The Watergate scandal was a huge loss for the Republicans and they have not forgotten it. Naturally, no one likes to blame themselves for their own problems. It’s always more comforting to blame someone else, right? So the press has become the whipping boy for conservatives ever since. Their rhetoric on this subject has grown so thick that people are increasingly distrustful of journalism as a profession and are instead turning to…more creative news venues. This is where we get the proliferation of fake news outlets and opinion sites that comfort the cold and shivering conservative from a weary world full of facts, nuisance, and reasoned analysis.

The result, of course, is that we are screwed. Good journalists who got into the profession to be the next Woodward and Bernstein are reduced to covering boob stories. The press no longer acts as a bull-crap shield to protect the American public from an obvious fraud like Trump. And conspiracy theories compete neck and neck with what little factual news stories can still be found out there.

But hey, at least you can tell your conservative Uncle John not to worry. The Media is not biased toward liberals.

 

By Clayton J. Callahan

I’m With The Resistance 

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I make no apologies for being a huge Star Wars fan. I’ve been hooked ever since age ten when the big screen lit up in 1977 with that awesome text crawl and the big space ship chasing the little one. And now that I’m all grown up and they are once again making these cool movies.

The sinister empire is now called the “First Order,” and the brave rebels have rebranded themselves “The Resistance,” but the epic struggle of good vs. evil goes on in this epic space opera…as it sadly also does in real life where good’s victory is not so certain. Today, we who oppose a sinister power are also calling ourselves “The Resistance.” But who is in this noble rebel band that would see Darth Trump banished from the galaxy called Washington not so far away?

Am I? Are you?

Well, if I’m using Star Wars movie metaphors I think I’ll draw from Episode VII: The Force Awakens for that answer. In the latest film, Fin, the deserting Stormtrooper is asked by prisoner Poe Damron if he’s with The Resistance. Fin answers “no” because he sees himself as a man fleeing the First Order and nothing more. But Fin was wrong!

Later Fin “lies” when he tells Rey that he’s with The Resistance. He even goes so far as to tell Han Solo that he’s a “big deal” with The Resistance, even though he has no idea where their base is or how to contact them. But even though he thought he was making stuff up, Fin wasn’t actually lying!

Fin was with The Resistance the moment he took action against the forces of evil that ruled his galaxy. He was with The Resistance when he decided to help a political prisoner escape. He was with The Resistance when he helped Rea keep BB-8 from the First Order’s clutches. And by the time he met Han Solo, Fin had become a big deal indeed…just not in the way he thought at the time. By the end of the film he not only found The Resistance’s base but led the mission to destroy the First Order’s ultimate weapon.

So, genteel reader, I return to my question; are you with The Resistance? After all, that is the term now embraced by numerous patriotic anti-Trump groups across America. There are official organizations such as the Portland Resistance here in Oregon. Keith Olbermann has dubbed his show “The Resistance” and himself as its de-facto leader. But what about me, and what about you? Here’s my take on it, friend; if you’re working to resist fascism in America you are part of The Resistance!

Like the fictional Fin in a galaxy far, far away, you do not need to actually join some official group. You do not need to know the location of a secret rebel base or even how to contact such it. All you need to claim this particular title is action. Take action by writing your elected leaders. Take action by joining a street protest. Take action by sending a check to an organization whose goals you share, such as Planed Parenthood or the American Civil Liberties Union. If you witness Trump inspired bullying, step in and take action (a cell phone video can have a chilling effect on a thug especially when viewed by the police).

Keep it up, day after day, month after month, year after year until you see a president in the White House who reflects true American values and a society where all can equally enjoy freedom’s blessings. So, yes, by simply taking such action you become part of The Resistance. If you find a group you want to join that is fine. But you need not follow any leader or take any pledge to truly join The Resistance. There is no secret decoder ring. You are all that you need to get the job done! Fight hard, never quit, and keep finding new ways to bring to this country the change it desperately needs. Then, not only can you rightfully claim to be in The Resistance, you can take pride in knowing you’re a big deal in it as well!

 

By Clayton J. Callahan

Trump Fails Intelligence Test

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The Donald, it seems, is having a spot of trouble with our intelligence community. So as a retired member of said community, I’d like to offer some insights. Thus far, we have heard ex-CIA directors and other such high-ups go on the talk news circuit to denounce the president-elect’s stupidity. Me? Well, I was nowhere that high on the spook totem pole. Nope. I was just a staff sergeant in army intelligence who was charged with briefing local commanders in Iraq and investigation suspected cases of espionage; it was called MOS 35-L and I am proud to have served.

First off, I’d like to talk about The Donald’s refusal to attend intelligence briefings. Frankly, I never met a commander who didn’t want regular briefings. These briefings are tailored to the needs of the particular commander, and he or she often requests specific information to be included. Key intelligence is given in such a briefing detailing the disposition of hostile forces and other factors that affect the safety of American forces. Not knowing such things puts troops lives at risk and if a commander cares about his or her people at all they crave good briefings. To ignore such information is considered negligent, and if disaster should befall the troops said commander would be barbecued by a court martial.

For The Donald to simply blow off such hard-earned intelligence is cavalier in the extreme, and I am glad as Hell I never served under such a nit-wit.

Now, for the bigger issue, we have treason.

Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of foreign agents: witting and unwitting. The witting spy deliberately acts on behalf of a foreign power to weaken the United States in some meaningful way. Unwitting spies are simply dupes. These are people who have no idea they are being manipulated to undermine the United States and would be shocked to learn the part they have played. Often it’s the ego, being made to feel like they’re smarter than everyone else, that makes these shmucks as easy to play as Candyland.

Ladies and gentlemen…I give you, The Donald.

Trump is quite obviously a patsy. Putin seems to have infiltrated his inner circle in ways subtle and overt (his kids even took a vacation with Putin’s wife last summer for God’s sake!). Although I do not believe The Donald has received any marching orders from the Kremlin, he has accepted the Russian’s help (and stupidly encouraged them to help more). Since he hasn’t released his taxes we don’t know what business dealings he has in Russia beyond beauty pageants, but I would not be surprised to learn his investments there have been paying off unusually well. He openly admires Putin, and I expect the president of Russia plans to manipulate the insecure billionaire to best advantage for years to come. Remember, Putin is a ex-KGB officer. He’s an old spy who thinks like a cold warrior and this is exactly the kind of game spies play.

And now, thanks to Trump, Putin has played America.

 

By Clayton J. Callahan

Oregon Republican Leader Gets Some Straight Talk

http://www.kgw.com/entertainment/television/programs/straight-talk/straight-talk-oregon-s-republican-party-after-2016-election/354178231

So, I went to the Oregon Republican Party’s website and found this video plastered up front and center (it has since been removed, I wonder why? But you can still click the above link to see it). In it Mr. Bill Courier seems completely unable to relate to the majority of Americans who fear the disastrous consequences of the 2016 presidential election. So, I wrote him a letter. I was polite as I could be and my overall tone was helpful. Now, If I see him in the media again acting clueless my next communication may not be so nice. But I do believe everybody deserves a chance to turn around. The letter reads as follows…

 

Dear, Mr. Courier

I have recently viewed your interview on the show Straight Talk where you expressed puzzlement over certain issues. In an attempt to help move our country forward, I feel that there are some things a man in your position simply must have a clear understanding of. Naturally, you need not agree with the other side’s position, and that’s fine. However, understanding is vital at this juncture in our national story.

First, let me introduce myself. I am a retired staff sergeant from the US Army who served in Iraq as a counterintelligence special agent. I am also a lifelong Democrat who has, on occasion, campaigned for Republicans. I have actively been involved in one campaign for a Republican county commissioner (who won) and two Republican sheriff candidates (who didn’t). My guiding stars in politics have always been the binary constellation of patriotism and pragmatism, and few would call me a zealot of any stripe.

Sir, in your Straight Talk interview, you stated that you, “…hope we can be more honest” in our political discourse, and I agree. When asked about the recent Portland protest, you said, “It is interesting that people would want to protest the results of a free and fair election,” and I would like to elaborate on that. Yes, it is interesting and unheard of! In fact, I do not recall such a nationwide outburst of angst since the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

So why is that do you suppose?

I want you to understand, sir, that Donald Trump did not run a normal campaign and, therefore, is not viewed as a normal Republican by the public at large. Instead, he brought a flamethrower to a target shooting match, and although he hit the target the whole shooting range is now burning down.

Not all, but many, of the people who voted for Trump live in the right wing “fake news bubble” where Hillary Clinton ran a child sex ring out of a DC restaurant, ordered the assassination of opponents, and conspired to deliberately kill the Americans at Benghazi for…reasons. Donald Trump himself encouraged these fantasies with wild claims such as declaring her the co-founder of ISIS. With crimes like that on her resume, who would vote for Hillary? Well, to speak plainly, people who live outside of the fake news bubble would.

Those who get there news from reputable journalists are appalled by such blatant lies (whether they be Republicans or Democrats), and are disgusted by those who would support them. This is what I mean by bringing a flamethrower to a shooting match. Trump heated up the rhetoric to ridiculous levels with his scorched earth approach to politics. As a result, we are all now living in a burning nation full of fear and mistrust. Would that he had run a normal campaign based on issues this would not be the case.

In the Straight Talk interview, you go on to state that you have no understanding why vulnerable populations such as the LGBT feel they now have a target on their back. True, Trump said little about LGBT issues during the campaign and has made no policy announces detrimental to them as of now. But, sir, please understand that these communities have only gained basic rights, such as marriage, since Obama came to office. Furthermore, Mike Pence has stated his open hostility to their community, and many of Trumps supporters do in fact wear white hoods and swastika armbands.

No, I am not accusing the Oregon Republican party of racism or homophobia. However, racist and homophobic groups have embraced Trump, and his halfhearted denouncements of them offer little comfort to people who have felt vulnerable all their lives. Sir, these people are terrified, rightly or wrongly, that they will lose their basic human rights and you must appreciate that.

Lastly, you were asked about Brightbart. You stated that you have seen some troubling headlines but nothing you would constitute as proof of Steve Bannon’s alt-right or white supremacy leanings.

Well, sir, I have to admit that this is the part that really scares me. Thanks to Trump, we now live in a post-proof world. Sadly, it matters not a damn anymore what people can prove. If it feeds the narrative and gets people excited it is fair game. For some examples I offer the president-elect’s claims that three million people voted illegally, or that throngs of Muslims celebrated in New Jersey on 9/11. Now that proof has been thrown out the window, who will have the courage to jump out and retrieve it?

That is a real question by the way; who will retrieve it? I wound, but who am I that people would notice? Will someone of stature make that leap? Sadly, I doubt it…because that would take courage.

The Republican Party labels itself as the “party of personal responsibility.” Sir, your presidential candidate’s decisive rhetoric, association with false news stories, cozy relationship with racists, and disregard for the standards of proof has created one hell of a fire. And to be clear, only the Republican Party can put it out. After all, with the executive, legislative and judicial branches all under Republican control, you guys are the only ones with access to extinguishers. Thus I would love to see your party take some responsibility and get to work in a positive way. Any further attempts at partisan gamesmanship at this point will have disastrous consequences I fear to envision.

Sir, Americans no longer disagree with each other, they flat out fear each other. Trust in basic conventions of government has been shattered, and we no longer live in a world where it would be feasible for a Democrat to help a Republican friend who’s running for sheriff, or county commissioner—because, the other side is no longer seen as simply the opposition…but the hated enemy (After all, if I voted for Hillary that means I support child sex trafficking, right?).

If the Republican Party does not acknowledge their responsibility to put out this fire on the shooting range, I literally see no hope for the America I spent twenty years defending. And, frankly, there’s no hope even in that if a man in your position can’t understand the other side’s point of view. I hope this letter aids you in that endeavor, and I stand ready to offer further assistance if needed. If there is some point you wish me to clarify or elaborate on I can be reached at XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.

Do I sound worried about all this? I’m sure I do. But the truth is, sir, that I’m not worried…I’m flat out terrified.

Good luck to us all.

Clayton J. Callahan (staff sergeant (SA), US Army, retired)

They Can Have My Free Speech When They Pry It From My Cold Dead Vocal Chords!

constitution

I know many a passionate supporter of the Second Amendment. They insist that ANY restriction on firearms WILL INEVITABLY lead to the beginning of a dictatorship. To these people, the constitution speaks plainly and is not to be quibbled with!

Okay, fine. Today I will not quibble about that “well-regulated militia” thing. And I will grant that the constitution is the law of the land. Therefore, any meddling with our fundamental rights is an invitation to dictatorship. In that light, I wish to discuss the deep trouble the First Amendment is currently in.

The amendment as adopted in 1791 reads as follows:

 

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

 

Now, scary as it may be, I share the doubts of the late Captain Kahn’s father. I do not believe The Donald has ever read the US Constitution! No, really, I’m being quite literal here, not a word. Because if he had read the darn thing, he wouldn’t have said many of the stupid things he has against our First Amendment!

As a candidate, he stated he would stop all Muslim immigration into the US, “Until we can figure out what’s going on.” So…Christians from Syria are okay, according to The Donald but Muslins are not? And how long will it take for us to “figure out what’s going on.” I’m sorry, there is no way that doesn’t qualify as prohibiting the free exercise of religion.

But wait, there’s more.

As both candidate and as president-elect, The Donald has lambasted the press. He’s suggested “opening up” the libel laws so the media can be more easily sued for saying “not nice” things about him. He has demanded an apology from the cast of Hamilton for speaking freely (and respectfully) to his vice president-elect. He has called a meeting of major news outlets to berate them for using unflattering pictures of him. And, most recently, he has stated that flag burning is not free speech (as the Supreme Court decided back in 1989), but is a crime that should result in loss of citizenship!

Now, here is where I take a cue from my Second Amendment friends and insist that any such infringement will lead to dictatorship. Let me give one possible scenario…

Let’s say, The Donald arranges it so burning the American flag results in loss of citizenship. To what country do we deport these now non-citizens? We all know how The Donald feels about illegal aliens, right? So he’s unlikely to let them run free within the borders of the USA. But you can’t “send ‘em back where they came from if they came from here! So what’s The Donald’s solution going to be, Guantanamo? That would amount to a life sentence of detention for burning a flag which sounds a little draconian to me, but hey, I’m a liberal. What do I know?

Now, flag burning is pretty offensive speech, I will grant you. But is it the only kind of offensive speech? What about profanity? What about blasphemy? What about speech that insults the president? Are those also deserving of loss of citizenship? And as Guantanamo’s cells fill up with offensive speakers, will we still be living in our old democracy…or a new dictatorship?

I honestly don’t think The Donald cares. But I do!

Well, folks, that’s why I say they can have my free speech when they pry it from my cold dead vocal chords! To president-elect The Donald, I suggest he start reading the American constitution. Hell, he can even brow Mr. Kahn’s copy. Because I intend to fight that orange windbag tooth and nail for every single right that document guarantees to the American people! I will not allow the slightest infringement on my right to worship as I see fit, speak as I see fit, and publish what I see fit. And I will be equally zealous in defending my neighbor’s rights—especially if I do not share his or her faith or point of view. Because, as my gun owning friends believe, if we allow any infringement upon our rights, we do in fact invite dictatorship.

And that’s not going to happen on my watch.

 

By Clayton J. Callahan