A Vote Against Trump is Not a Vote for Betrayal, but a Vote for Freedom.

It will be up to 20 brave Republican senators to help redirect the course of the nation.

This next week, the full House will vote on approving the articles of impeachment – abuse of power and obstruction of congress – which will then move to the Senate where the president will be tried.

Sixty seven yes votes are needed to convict the president. Being that there are only 47 democratic senators, a full 20 Republicans are needed to switch sides to convict the president.

Can it happen? Odds are that it will not.

But there is always the possibility of a surprise.

Why?

History will not be kind to those who have sided with Trump in spite of the overwhelming evidence of improprieties during his tenure. Not just the articles of impeachment. And the perception of how history will view us matters to decent men and women who have made a long term commitment to the health of the nation.

Only 20 Republican senators are needed to turn out a president who shows no signs of standing up to despots the world over, be them Putin in Russia, Erdogan in Turkey, El-Sisi in Egypt or the Saudi prince.

Only 20 Republican senators are needed to turn out a president who could not stand up against the Saudi royal family after they butchered the distinguished journalist Jamal Khashoggi in their embassy in Ankara, Turkey.

Only 20 Republican senators are needed to turn out a president who, after 3 years in office, has not mustered the mettle to tell Putin that interference in American elections is not allowed.

So here’s an opportunity for 20 courageous Republican senators to take a stand.

Dear senator, will you be putting your career in jeopardy if you do so?

It depends on how you view yourself. If you think of yourself as someone who understands the crisis of values that the president has thrown the country into, and realizes that Trump lacks the capacity to lead the nation in these convulsed times, then you will stand up to him and join those who vote to convict.

If you lack this awareness, then you will bow to the great showman and buy into the great deception that he orchestrates daily.

Do not forget, however, that history will not be kind to you when you side with Trump.

But then, history may not be important to you. Short term gains may be what matters to you most. If so, please consult your conscience and ask, was this nation built by shortsighted men?

When Trump goes on trial in the Senate, you will have the option of choosing how do you want history to judge you.

A vote to acquit is a vote to join Trump in his poor choices and impulsivity and self promotion.

A vote to acquit is a vote to imperil the freedoms that have made us a special place in the world.

Daily courage is needed to preserve it, for freedom does not come cheap.

Will 20 brave, visionary, responsible leaders please stand up to defend our freedoms, or will you choose to pass and have the nation wait for others to muster the courage?

Oscar Valdes

How Trump Helped Biden

Sometime ago I wrote that both Biden and Sanders ought to bow out of the race given their age. I was half wrong.

Biden has shown strength and has begun to appeal to more of the undecided. Part of his gains he owes to gaffes his adversaries are making. Warren shares too many of Sanders’ campaign positions and it has started to hurt. Sanders is overly identified with the Medicare for All concept and has boxed himself in.

But Biden owes much also to Trump himself.

Trump has an abundance of flaws and no reluctance to reveal them, but he also has had sharp political instincts. If not massaged properly, though, they may backfire.

Back in July, when Trump looked at the field of democratic candidates and considered their possibilities, he thought Biden was the one he needed to undermine the most. And so he chose to go after the former vice president with all the craft he could muster. But Trump overplayed his hand and poor judgment got him in trouble.

Trump may survive the impeachment, but there is no doubt that the attempt to pressure Ukraine’s president Zelensky into investigating Joe Biden’s son’s work with the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, was a political move intent on defanging Biden as a candidate and rival. That fact is unassailable. So it doesn’t matter if Trump is not found guilty of attempting to bribe president Zelensky with the promise of $ 396 million in military assistance to defend against Russia in exchange for his agreeing to investigate Joe Biden’s son. It doesn’t matter because the damage has already been done.

The impeachment process, playing in congress to great fanfare, amounts to a huge plus for Biden and the democrats.  

Additionally, the damage inflicted by the impeachment process is not limited to Trump himself, but affects the entire legislative representation of the Republican party, which in their shameless surrender to Trump, have chosen to not see the real elephant in the room, the decent people they were appointed to represent.

I was originally opposed to the impeachment of the president on grounds that it would be a loss of valuable time to get the message out to the public that a president bent on dividing the nation should not be reelected. But the democratic legislators have done a great job of moving things along and the matter has now been handed over to the Judiciary committee to draft the charges against the president.

The whole impeachment inquiry process has not been the ‘plus’ Trump boasted it would be for him. Quite the opposite, it has been a resounding minus.

So go, Joe, go! Your stances are appealing to the center. And if Warren and Sanders’s supporters acknowledge that defeating Trump is what is most essential to this election, then it will happen.

So go, Joe, go!

By the way, you keep talking about the pushups you do, so just how many do you do?

Venezuela Rising

2/23/19 By Oscar Valdes. oscarvaldes.net

The push to deliver humanitarian aid to the desperate Venezuelan populace is working.

Nicolas Maduro’s opposition to allowing the aid to go in has stirred protests that have begun to fracture the military. Defections are mounting.

Venezuelan soldiers are being asked to restrain or shoot their countrymen because they are begging for food.

The conditions are given for a mass revolt to follow.

Will the military slaughter the hungry people?

I do not remember another instance in Latin America when there has been such strong solidarity with the turmoil in a sister nation. This is unprecedented.

Mr Guaido, the newly proclaimed president of the country has been bold and put himself in the front lines against the repressive forces of Mr Maduro.

The presidents of Colombia and Chile have joined Mr Guaido, standing shoulder to shoulder on the ground in the border town of Cucuta in Colombia, supporting the humanitarian aid. The British financier Richard Branson has lent his effort by sponsoring concerts in support of the resistance.

Lawmakers in the opposition have joined the people in the fray, lending their guidance to the unrest.

Brazil, on the southeast corner, has given the opposition to Mr Maduro’s regime full support, and the first truck filled with aid to push in broke through its border with Venezuela.

Carnage may still happen, but the military will be digging its own grave because the international pressure is sure to continue to mount.

Obtuse military leaders may choose to not look at the reality of the nation’s worsening tragedy, and still decide to defend a corrupt elite that, in the name of a false socialism chose to enrich itself and ravage a nation. But their days are counted.

There will be no respect in Latin America or elsewhere, for members of an armed force, that using their superior power, intentionally, coldly and brutally, murder their brothers and sisters.

The message is out, a new cohesiveness among betrayed people is gathering force.

In this collective effort, the Trump administration and Senator Rubio deserve credit for helping orchestrate the humanitarian aid and for putting sanctions on the purchase of Venezuelan oil.

Oscar Valdes is a self published author and blogger. Oscarvaldes.net

Trump in a Panic

Let us not join him. Under pressure from his base he feels he must deliver or else. The democrats are coming! Take cover! Build the wall now! Never mind if it means shutting down the government.

Have we ever seen a president so beholden to what a group of people thinks or wants?

The man can’t govern. The base governs him.

The pundits on the right dictate to him. He is the apprentice. Never mind the briefings he gets, he must turn on Fox News to guide him through complexity. All that matters is that he be in the limelight. That’s the guiding principle.

But we’re better than Trump. The nation is better than him. So we need to breathe and the crisis will pass. We will get through.

We must remain steady as the man breaks down in front of our eyes, unable to stand up to his base and govern for all Americans.

Is Trump Guilty of Colluding with Russia?

The Mueller probe may yet find evidence of illegalities but, as far as Trump ever entering into an explicit agreement with Russia to help him get elected, I don’t think he ever did that.

Mind you, I’m no Trump fan, but I did believe that, once elected, and in spite of all the absurdities he had stated during the campaign, he deserved a chance.

Well, he’s had his chance and has proved me wrong.

Trump may not have entered into a deal with Russia to subvert the election, but on other weighty matters he is clearly guilty.

Who would have thought that we would be witnessing an American president choosing to ignore the task of bringing the nation together?

Who would’ve thought that we would be seeing a president willing to grossly manipulate anti-immigrant sentiment?

A man carelessly tampering with trade policies, which carries the grave risk of putting a damper on the world’s economic growth.

A president who routinely violates rules of the most elemental decorum.

A man who devalues women and has yet to apologize for it.

A president who chooses to pull out of the Paris Climate agreement, in flagrant denial of solid scientific evidence.

A man who ignores the considered reports of his own intelligence agencies and shows himself reluctant to stand up to Putin and the Saudi family.

A president whose careless remarks on foreign policy have undermined the alliances America has worked so hard to shape since World War II.

Trump is guilty of all of the above.  

Previous presidents have made serious mistakes during their term but then have shown a measure of contrition.

Trump is oblivious to such notion.

For two years we have seen him in action. Two years during which he has carried on about building a wall on the border with Mexico, an expenditure that is a shameless waste of resources needed for far more pressing matters, such as investing in the education of our citizens.

Two years in office, a parade of tweets and insults and never an apology from the man.

Two years in office and no attempt to bridge our differences. Instead, a sustained effort to accentuate them.

What does that tell me about Mr Trump?

That he is a shallow and self serving man with no true convictions other than what is good for him and his brand. And though intelligent, he chooses to use his capacity to indulge his greed for power and in so doing to mislead us.

What drives the man?

The relentless pursuit for self-aggrandizement.

But the nation can be deceived only for so long.

The results of the mid term elections, a referendum on Trump, stand as a sign that we are collectively coming to our senses, and so the tide is starting to turn.

Americans will make mistakes at the ballot box. Even grievous ones. We have done it before. That we are a democracy does not prevent us from having poor judgment. But what Trump’s 2016 election shows is how costly such mistakes can be.

The Mueller probe may well turn up information to impeach Trump but unless there is incontrovertible evidence for his guilt, the pursuit of that path is littered with uncertainties that may backfire and squander precious energies.

Where I see real hope is in the new Democratic majority in the House. It will be up to them to check Trump’s reckless behavior and do so in a manner that speaks not with partisan zeal but with a goal to unite the nation and recapture our strength.

Let us keep up the pressure.

A National Referendum on Immigration. America Needs One Now.

The NY Times, in an article dated 11/22/18  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/22/world/europe/hillary-clinton-migration-populism-europe.html

reports on a recent interview The Guardian did on Hillary Clinton. She spoke of Europe needing to get a handle on immigration because that is what lit the flame. Responses from the left were critical, while one leader from a far right Italian party stated, “Maybe Hillary has understood the lesson.”

The European Union has had a rough time dealing with the large number of refugees from Syria, the Middle East and Africa. Merkel in Germany was a strong advocate for welcoming them at first but eventually opposing parties forced her to compromise. In time, pacts were made with Turkey, Libya, Sudan and Niger to stem the flow and as a result the number has dropped by about 90% as the article states.

Hillary’s statements were addressed to Europeans but arrived at a time when the worst of the storm appears to have passed for them. For us, however, with dark clouds above us, her words are timely.

Trump would not have won the presidency if he had not seized on immigration – ‘lit the flame’- and run with it. He demonized and mocked immigrants at will, rousing enough voters to gain a narrow and bitterly contested victory. 

To many of us it was clear from the outset that Trump was scapegoating immigrants. We also thought that the tactic would be clear to most Americans. Sadly, it was not.

Whomever composed what came to be known as his base, was willing to ignore the obvious flaws candidate Trump showed. That the economy was recovering nicely under Democratic leadership and promised greater gains did not, in the end, make a difference. That Obama was enforcing immigration rules and deporting people living here illegally, did not either.  

The base was angry and wanted something right away.  

Globalization was browning America.

And there was Obama on our screens every day as a reminder of it.

The base, mostly white, said no.

That Trump is a clever manipulator there is no doubt. He knew that globalization had taken away jobs and that governments – both Republican and Democratic – had failed to institute the needed measures to remedy the damage and that therein lay the problem. But harping on that was not incendiary enough to fuel his campaign. Painting a black and white picture was. For a segment of Americans that had felt left behind and wanted quick answers, it was an approach made to order. “You’re good, they’re bad,” cried the great wizard from his mighty pulpit, “Yeah! We got this!” And emotions were roused. The hustler from New York was in a hurry to get elected. He was 70 years old and running out of time. He needed to act fast.

He’s still doing it.

So why is the democratic party still uncertain as to what to do about immigration?

Is it a problem or not?

How does it break down?

Who should come in and who shouldn’t?

Are immigrants needed?

What skills should they have?

The answers may be obvious to some but not to all. Why, then, not bring the issue directly to the people? Why not hold a National Referendum on Immigration where both sides present their views to the country and then we vote on it?

A National Referendum on Immigration would put the matter front and center and allow all of us to pause, assess the arguments in favor and against and make a choice.

Otherwise, the issue is likely to linger on unresolved and remain a force that the president uses to stir up sentiment and advance an agenda that is not in the interest of the nation.

It is clear that Trump does not speak for all Americans, nor does he seem intent on it. Criticisms of his conduct have been loud and harsh from the start, with his electoral win in 2016 tarnished given the evidence of Russian meddling and his having lost the popular vote.

Add to that the results of the recently concluded mid term elections. The House being a better representation of the country at large than the Senate, is there any doubt that the results were a referendum on Trump?

So now is the time to push forward boldly and bring clarity to the question of immigration.

If the majority of the nation were to vote that, yes, we need to restrict the flow, then that is what we should do. But we ought not to let Trump continue to use the issue to brazenly stir dangerous nationalistic sentiments that if not checked, will divide us further and lead us down the road to ruin.

Presented with the facts – through a rational discussion of the pros and cons of immigration – Americans will do what makes sense for the nation today and help clear the path for the country to come together.

Presented with the facts, we stand a chance to stop tearing each other apart and focus on pressing matters.

A National Referendum on Immigration will help us get there sooner.

Trump and Jamal Khashoggi. What the Affair Reveals.

Please see for yourself the entire statement released by the White House on 11/20.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/statement-president-donald-j-trump-standing-saudi-arabia/?utm_source=link

Here’s the 5th paragraph,

“Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an “enemy of the state” and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that – this is an unacceptable and horrible crime. King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”

There’s no evidence that Jamal Kashoggi was an enemy of the Saudi state. He was a critic of it, a man who wanted to help steer the Saudi leadership away from the repressive practices that stifle voices of dissent, the very forces that killed him. He had been close to the leadership but had felt compelled to speak more openly, which is why he chose to move to our country while simultaneously holding residence in Turkey.

The CIA, after careful review of all the evidence produced by Turkey, where the murder took place, concluded that Mr Khashoggi could not have been assassinated without the knowledge of the crown prince. But Trump has no qualms rebuffing such verdict and instead accepting the king and crown prince’s denials. Did the crown prince have knowledge of the event? “Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” says Trump. Hard to believe.

But it sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Indeed, Trump said something eerily similar in Helsinki this last July – after a question from a reporter regarding Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections – immediately following his summit meeting with Putin.

“… my people came to me, Dan Coats (from National Intelligence) came to me and others, they said they think it’s Russia… I have President Putin… he said it’s not Russia. I will say this… I don’t see any reason why it would be… I have confidence in both parties… I have great confidence in my intelligence people… but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

Why should Trump not trust his intelligence agencies?

If Putin and the crown prince deny strongly their wrongdoing, is that supposed to negate the conclusions drawn by teams of seasoned experts in intelligence gathering?

Additionally, Mr Trump has openly stated that he will not listen to the tape produced by Turkey containing the gory sounds of the killing of Mr Khashoggi.

What does that mean?

When Trump chooses to not listen to the tapes of Khashoggi’s murder it is not just him not listening, it is all of us. It is America not listening.

What image do we project to the world when we behave as such?

Can Trump not find the strength to face the facts?

There’s something sordid and venal about Trump’s willingness to excuse the Saudi prince.

That Saudi Arabia has signed up to invest 450 billion in our country, a sizable portion going to the buying of weapons, is not a reason to hide from the truth.

This is not to say that geopolitical considerations should not be weighed in.

Saudi Arabia is a long term ally of ours and as such a counter to Iran’s aggressive influence in the region, but giving the Saudi elite a pass in this heinous act is not compatible with the Saudi people’s aspirations to become a modern state.

Why not, for instance, call for the prince to stand trial for the offense, in the presence of international observers?

Would that be a destabilizing event for Saudi Arabia? Maybe, but it would be an important step toward introducing political accountability in the country and preventing the crime from happening again.

It may well be resented and seen as interfering with their governance, but in the end, likely to invigorate the forces of reason and enlightened civility.

As a sovereign nation, it will be up to the Saudis to do as they wish, but taking a public stand for justice leaves us in a strong position while sending a message to all of our allies.

If we were dependent on Saudi oil, the geopolitical considerations would be quite different. But we are not. Thanks to the spirit of innovation that our nation retains, we have become the largest oil producer in the world. That matters. And so does our moral integrity, for it fuels courage, creativity and vision.

So far, Mr Trump has been unable or unwilling to grasp this essence.

This is not lost in the eyes of the world. Appearing to be beholden to a ruling elite is not only detrimental to our image abroad but also, and more importantly, to the image we have of ourselves.

Either way, America loses.