2020 Election, General, Politics

Fighting the Foreign Trolls

I wish that all Americans would realize that American politics is world politics.

Theodore Roosevelt

Labor Day traditionally marks the beginning of the general election season.  After the revelations about Russian interference in the 2016 election, we now know that our political discourse is dangerously open to manipulation by malignant foreign governments.  The good news is that the US is becoming better at identifying and countering these trolls through the new US Cyber Command, which successfully took down the Russian Internet Security Agency’s effort to influence the 2018 midterm elections (see this article from the Council on Foreign Relations).  Nevertheless, Theodore Roosevelt’s advice should always be on our minds. More than ever, American politics is world politics, and all Americans need to see themselves as the first line of defense against attacks against our democracy and be informed on how to identify them.

The Alliance for Securing Democracy recently produced a helpful guide on the methods and messages authoritarian regimes like Russia, China and Iran may use in such attacks.  It points out that while their foreign policies may differ, all three see the US as their enemy and peddle misinformation that converges in various ways.  The difference between their messages and the legitimate criticism that is a hallmark of a free election is that our adversaries seek to sow despair and division, not hope and positive solutions.  Social media platforms definitely need to do more to identify and take down these trolls.  However, each of us will have an important daily role in rejecting these attacks against America and our democratic values here at home in the upcoming 2020 campaign.

General, Politics

Preserving Theodore Roosevelt’s Legacy in the Modern Arena

[We] have the right to express our pride in what our forefathers did, and our joy in the abundant greatness of this people.  We have the right to express those feelings, but we must not treat greatness achieved in the past as an excuse for our failing to do decent work in the present, instead of a spur to make us strive in our turn to do the work that lies right at hand. If we so treat it, we show ourselves unworthy to come here and celebrate the historic past of the nation.

Theodore Roosevelt, Fourth of July speech at Huntington, New York, July 4, 1903

The quest for national American unity animated Theodore Roosevelt for his entire life. Growing up during the Civil War, the six million dead of that war and the sectional divides that led to it were always on his mind and those of his fellow Americans during the generation afterwards.  TR was well aware of the racial and ethnic divides that also existed and, as “the man in the arena”, tried to keep those divides from creating similar divisions as much as the arena of his times allowed. Today, those racial and ethnic divisions pose the greatest threat to national unity.  The removal of the equestrian statue in front of the American Natural History Museum in New York City needs to be viewed as a gesture toward healing these divisions and achieving a modern national unity.

As shown in the above picture, the statue features Roosevelt on a horse flanked by standing American Indian and African-American figures.   It has been a flashpoint with black and Native Americans for years because the two figures at the side appear to be subservient.  The museum cited this depiction of Roosevelt as the issue and recognized his contributions as a natural historian and conservationist by renaming their Hall of Biodiversity after him. Even the Roosevelt family agrees with the decision, saying that the statue does not represent his true legacy. 

The quotation above better reflects that legacy. While TR’s personal views on race were unfortunately common during his era, he also acted to promote and protect racial equality as much as a Congress made up of segregationist Southerners and conservatives would allow.  He supported the Lodge Federal Elections Act of 1890, an early form of the modern Voting Rights Act that would have protected African-American voting rights in federal elections.   As New York governor, he pushed through legislation banning racial segregation in public schools. These stands, and many similar ones, were significant accomplishments for that era. 

At the same time, each generation has the right to determine who and what will be celebrated in the public domain. The removal of Confederate statues and names from majority African-American cities and military bases represents this natural transition.  However, these decisions come during a frightening time when mobs attack the legacies of not only TR, but also George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and other authors of the very rights in which those mobs claim to believe.   It is a mark of mindless extremism born of a failure to appreciate the historical context – the “arena” – that these figures lived in. The concept of equal opportunity, human rights and democratic government espoused by our founding fathers were dangerous to the elites of their time and, but for their courage, might not exist today.  We must avoid flushing those memories and accomplishments down a modern-day Orwellian “memory hole”, for that way leads to the totalitarian world we all oppose.

In a statement released today, the chairman of the congressionally-chartered Theodore Roosevelt Association put it well when he said “Theodore Roosevelt’s contributions to the United States and legacy is more enduring than any statue”.  If we concentrate on the positive aspects of that legacy and those of other American heroes, we will continue our common national march to the more perfect achievement of those great ideals.     

General, Politics

A Public and Self-Centered Betrayal

Why American Nationalists Should Support the Impeachment of President Trump

The impeachment spectacle in Washington is heartbreaking for American nationalists on so many levels.  As mentioned previously, Trump was always a flawed standard-bearer for nationalism, if simply because of his shameless public encouragement of the Russian and Wikileaks hacking of the Democrats.   The Mueller report has since shown that his consultant Roger Stone knew at the very least when the leaks would occur. Further, Trump knew Stone was using this knowledge to coordinate campaign activities.  Any hope that Trump would mend his ways and find nationalist ideals has been cruelly dashed by the results of the House impeachment investigation, which exposes his attempt to hijack American foreign policy and defy the law for his own electoral benefit.       

Trump’s own betrayal, however, does not mean we should overlook the hypocrisy of his Democratic critics, who have either engaged in or condoned similar sleazy conduct.  Whether it is Hunter Biden using his and his father’s name to whitewash a corrupt Ukrainian company or Bill Clinton hitting foreign leaders up for money for the Clinton Foundation while his wife was Secretary of State, it has apparently become acceptable for American politicians and their kin to trade on their connections much like Russian oligarchs and Chinese princelings.  The recent Justice Department Inspector General’s report on the FBI’s misconduct in the investigation of Russian ties to the 2016 Trump campaign also showed how our own foreign intelligence community can be manipulated and abused by foreign and domestic governmental elites for personal political interests.  Trump’s conduct can arguably be seen as simply the logical extension of this sickening phenomenon.   It proves that, while globalization and the globalist ideology may have spread some freedom elsewhere, we have blithely ignored how it is importing here to America the same kind of elitist corruption seen in the worst authoritarian regimes.  If this continues, the American Century of Shame I warned about in another post will occur faster than we think.       

The key to preventing this decline is to follow Theodore Roosevelt’s advice above and stand by our country first, not the President, whatever the transgressions of his detractors.  Indeed, true American nationalists must lead in holding the President to a high standard of loyalty to our Constitution and values if we are to build the consensus we need to attack the sleazy elitist betrayals. Thus, we should sadly, but resolutely, support his impeachment and removal from office.   

The Law

We begin with the Constitution itself, which authorizes impeachment for “Treason, Bribery and other High Crimes and Misdemeanors”.  The language, derived from English constitutional law, is designed to prevent impeachment for simple policy differences.  At the same time, even the President’s own Attorney General Bill Barr has said that this standard is much broader than the statutory criminal law:

By including that English phrase, our Founding Fathers intended to expand the scope of impeachable offenses beyond the scope of criminally indictable offenses. This language incorporates political offenses against the state that injure the structure of government and tarnish the integrity of the political office. As Alexander Hamilton observed, these political offenses include breaches of the public trust that a president assumes once he has taken office.

Barr, William, “High Crimes and Misdemeanors”, 2 Texas Review of Law and Policy, pgs. 9-10 

However, the case against the President can still start by referring to the statutory law.  The federal bribery statute prohibits a public official from corruptly demanding or seeking anything of value personally in return for being influenced in the performance of any official act.  As bad as bribery is, of even more concern to American nationalists should be the potential solicitation of a political contribution by a foreign government in violation of federal campaign finance law. See 52 U.S.C. Section 30121.  Like the bribery statute, it prohibits the solicitation of anything of value from a foreign government by a political campaign.  In this case, the “thing of value” would have been the expenditure of money by the Ukrainian government to investigate Hunter Biden and the Burisma company for the purpose of injuring the candidacy of former Vice President Biden.   

The Facts  

The evidence against the President is quite direct.  Rudy Guiliani began pushing publicly and with Ukrainian prosecutors in January of 2019 for an investigation into not only Hunter Biden, but also former Vice President Biden.  In mid-July, Trump instructed acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to withhold $400 million in aid to Ukraine.  Immediately afterwards, the President spoke with Ukrainian President Zelensky to ask for a “favor”.  He then proceeded to talk about Biden’s son and that “[former Vice President] Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that …. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution”.  He urged President Zelenksy to pursue this not only with the Attorney General, but also with Guiliani, his personal lawyer.  Indeed, he seemed to be encouraging Zelensky to act mainly through Guiliani, not Barr.

Trump’s supporters advance two main defenses to the clear implication of this narrative.  First, they correctly state that corruption in Ukraine has been a concern of the United States for years and that this was simply an outgrowth of that policy.   However, the transcript does not refer to the prosecution of corruption in the Ukrainian energy industry in general, which was the subject of past conversations between Secretary of Energy Perry as well as his predecessors.  It focused on only two specific subjects – the issue of whether Ukraine was the source of the 2016 hacking incidents and the activities of the Bidens, one of which was potentially a strong candidate against Trump in the 2020 election. If the purpose was simply to pursue an element of American foreign policy, then why was Trump’s personal lawyer Guiliani involved?  It was because the President wanted Ukraine to focus not on corruption in general, but on the Bidens and especially the former Vice President in particular.

The other defense boils down to the claim that “Obama did it, too”, pointing to the Inspector General’s report.  The Horowitz report is definitely disturbing and calls for more controls over foreign intelligence investigations. However, there is no evidence that any of this was directed from the White House.  It appears to have been almost a rogue operation by elements of the FBI.   The only relevance to the accusations against Trump may be to essentially justify his dismissal of James Comey as FBI chief, and thus refute any charge of obstruction of justice arising out of it.  It does not justify engaging in a modern-day version of the Watergate burglary by using the American foreign policy apparatus to dig up dirt on a political foe.


If American nationalism stands for anything, it is that our leaders must be loyal to the country first and the welfare of our citizens, not their own ambitions or the interests of other nations.   The Ukrainian incident, when combined with his public support and inside knowledge of the Russian hacking of 2016, show that Donald Trump does not have that kind of loyalty to our country.  Moreover, this is the kind of conduct that injures the structure of our government and breaches the public trust within the meaning of the Hamiltonian definition.  The draft impeachment resolution is correct when it says that Trump will be a threat to national security and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-government and the rule of law.  The House of Representatives should impeach the President on the charge relating to Ukraine and the Senate should convict and remove Trump from office.  The Constitution and the facts demand nothing less.