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Posts published in “Richardson”

To exhale

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Ever since election night 2016, I’ve been holding my breath. The Russian propelled election of Donald Trump to the presidency was, for many, a traumatic event. Every day since that terrible night, we have seen ever deepening shadows of oligarchy, tyranny, and torture.

As the litany of horrible words and deeds has spilled forth from Mr. Trump and his sycophantic entourage, I have feared for our country, for the future of our representative democracy, for the rule of law.

Long before he took the oath of office, Mr. Trump sought to exploit our differences and divide Americans, to turn us into a nation of bitter rivals who talk past each other, excoriate each other, and see governing as a zero sum game.

If there had been the slightest hope that a President Trump would exceed expectations and become a statesman after the election, that hope was extinguished on Inauguration Day when Trump gave his “American Carnage” speech. His presidency, like his candidacy, would be that of a demagogue. He would play, relentlessly and unashamedly, to his base.

And if there was ever a ray of hope that members of his own party, the majority in both houses of Congress, would stand up to Trump’s recklessness, that ray was likewise extinguished when it became clear that McConnell and Ryan and their respective caucuses would turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to any wrongdoing. They transcended mere enablement; they became Trump’s confederates.

Over the last two years, the resistance has grown – the Women’s March, the rise of Indivisible Groups, the special elections that saw Connor Lamb win a seat in Congress and Doug Jones elected to the Senate from Alabama, the many triumphs in local elections held in cities and towns across the country, and the abundance of new leaders rising to the occasion, running for office and speaking truth to power.

But through it all I’ve held my breath. It hasn’t felt safe to exhale because the House and Senate committees on Intelligence have concealed the truth about the Trump-Russia labyrinth, because the senate Democrats have been helpless to stop the Federalist Society’s hostile takeover of the judiciary, and because our president has routinely offended our allies and catered to our enemies, often expressing his desire to emulate them.

Now, a little over three weeks out from the mid-term election, I dare to hope that I can exhale, that our nation will reject Trumpism and its cruel treatment of immigrant children, of the elderly and disabled, of Gold Star mothers and prisoners of war, of those poisoned by lead in their drinking water and others decimated by hurricanes.

I dare to hope that our nation will, in the words of our sixteenth president, be touched again “by the better angels of our nature,” that a government “of, by and for the people,” will not perish from this earth.

So I will vote and continue to volunteer and contribute. I will lend my voice to the resistance and persist in speaking my truth. We cannot endure two more years of unchecked tyranny. Until the polls close on November 6, I will not relax. I cannot exhale.
 

Wanting to believe

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For the last couple of years, conventional wisdom has held that Trump’s loyal base of supporters is unshakeable, that Trump could – in his words – “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody” and “not lose any votes.”

That conventional wisdom may be about to change.

When a voter supports a candidate for president, it should come as no surprise that the individual will think the best of the candidate they supported. It can be difficult to accept that the supported individual has fallen short, to realize they have been untruthful. I know this from personal experience.

I strongly supported the candidacy of Bill Clinton. I thought his keen intelligence, progressive vision, and strong work ethic – coupled with rare communication skills – would make him a great president. In many respects he was.

But Clinton did have sexual relations in the Oval Office. He not only lied about it under oath in a deposition in a civil suit, he lied about it directly to the American people. Like many of his supporters, I believed Clinton when he looked straight into the camera, shook his finger, and adamantly proclaimed his innocence.

I wanted to believe him, and so I did. I’m no ingénue, but I was genuinely aghast when I heard him finally admit the truth.

Clinton lying under oath about sexual activities pales in comparison to today’s many scandals swirling around Trump. I reference it, though, because my strong impulse to credit Clinton's denial is, I think, mirrored in the insistence of many who voted for Trump to believe his increasingly incredible assertions that “there was no collusion with Russia” and no attempt to obstruct justice.

Recently, Rachel Maddow noted that George Herbert Walker Bush had been chairman of the Republican National Committee at the height of Watergate and was, in fact, RNC chairman when Nixon resigned in the fall of ’74. The previous summer, Pappy Bush went on a listening tour to assess the views of the “party faithful” outside the Beltway. At the time, Bush himself was convinced that Nixon was not involved with Watergate.

Following his listening tour, Bush summarized his findings in a memo to White House Chief of Staff Alexander Haig. He noted that “party people” held an “almost unanimous desire to believe that the president is telling the truth.” Bush concluded: “They want to believe in the president.”

Of course they did. That is human nature. Having supported Nixon, they wanted him to merit their support.

But, in time, even many of the GOP faithful were disabused of Nixon’s innocence. However strongly they may have wanted to believe in the president, they couldn’t explain away the evidence on the White House tapes that exposed the cover-up.

Unlike Trump, Nixon did not have Fox News with its 24-7 drumbeat of propaganda. With the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity running interference, Trump may never dip to Nixonian levels of disapproval (only 24% approved on the day he resigned). But Trump’s support, even among those who desperately want to believe him, may be in the early stages of unraveling.

The most recent Washington Post-ABC survey shows Trumps disapproval rating at an all-time high. 60% of Americans disapprove of his performance in office. Only 36% approve. Clearly, some of those who now disapprove of Trump’s performance once supported him. Something has, at long last, shaken lose their support.

Perhaps it was the Manafort conviction, or the Cohen guilty plea, or maybe it was the churlish manner in which Trump treated American hero John McCain, not only in life but in death. It might have been the news that the National Inquirer’s David Pecker and the Trump Organization CFO had been granted immunity and were cooperating with the Special Counsel. Perhaps it was all of these things and more.

Nixon’s resignation didn’t happen overnight. It took time for the nation – and especially a critical mass of Nixon loyalists – to absorb what he had done. It is not an easy thing to accept that the president has broken the law. I am among those who believe many transgressions, especially those pertaining to obstruction of justice, have taken place in plain sight; however, most of the nation is waiting to see more evidence of wrongdoing. But the rising support for the Special Counsel suggests that a lot of people are rejecting Trump’s characterization of the probe as a “witch hunt.” It would seem that even some Trump supporters are experiencing doubt in the president’s veracity; the eroding of unconditional support has begun.

For many who have long resisted Trump’s venal policies and even the legitimacy of his election, the temptation to belittle those who are only now beginning to question their support of the president must be almost irresistible. But that would be unwise. We will need to work with them in the days to come.

Should the Democrats win a majority in the House, impeachment -- requiring only a majority vote -- will be likely. But “impeachment” is only the process of charging. In order to be removed from office, the president must be tried by the Senate, where a two-thirds vote is required to convict. Trump will only be convicted if some Republican senators are willing to vote for conviction.

In a perfect world, the senators would look only to the evidence and the Constitution. The world is imperfect. They will also look to their base.

With Watergate, arch-conservative Sen. Barry Goldwater delivered the bad news to Nixon. His presidency wouldn’t survive a Senate vote, were it to come to that. It seems that many of the Nixon-era GOP senators had stronger spines than are to be found among members of the McConnell led cabal that now holds sway.

Yet, if we are to remove Trump from office, today’s GOP senators will need to find their spines. And that will require further erosion of Trump’s base, which will happen more readily if the rest of us stop buying – and repeating – Trump’s story that his base in unshakeable. Much of it likely is. But some of it is not.

We’re beginning to feel tremors. Some pebbles are starting to roll, and the needle on the political Richter Scale is moving, however slightly. The time has come to re-visit the conventional wisdom.

(photo/Gage Skidmore)
 

A sad day

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As I write this, the jury in Paul Manafort’s criminal trial has not yet returned a verdict. But regardless of the outcome of the jury’s deliberations, we have seen conduct that should give rise to another criminal charge. The charge of jury tampering should be brought against the president.

Jury tampering is a crime at both the federal and state levels. It is the intentional effort to influence the outcome of a juror’s opinion, vote or decision by unlawfully communicating with the juror in either a direct or indirect manner, outside the scope of legally permitted courtroom procedure. Last week, the president blatantly attempted to influence members of the Manafort jury by indirectly communicating with them from the White House lawn.

Shouting at a gaggle of reporters, Trump sought to both undermine the prosecution and serve as an unsworn character witness for his former campaign chairman. He bellowed: “I think the whole Manafort trial is very sad. I think it's a very sad day for our country. . . . He happens to be a very good person, and I think it's very sad what they've done to Paul Manafort."

Trying to have it both ways, Trump vouched for Mr. Manafort’s fine character while simultaneously claiming he barely knew the man. And who better to proclaim that Manafort is a “very good person,” than a trash-talking narcissist who lies as easily as he breaths, worships the golden calf, is a serial adulterer, repeatedly bears false witness against others, and whose every public policy reflects an utter indifference to human suffering?

Still, Trump is president of the United States, commander in chief of the most powerful nation in the world. If even one juror felt the slightest bit compelled to heed Trump’s words, the result could be a hung jury. But whether or not Trump actually influenced a single juror’s vote, he made a blatant attempt to do so.

Throughout the trial, the presiding judge T.S. Ellis admonished jurors not to take note of outside information, to only consider the evidence before them. But where, as here, the jury was not sequestered – kept isolated to decrease the chances of being exposed to outside information – and Trump commands wall-to-wall coverage for his every utterance, it is absurd to think that one or more of the jurors wouldn’t hear the message.

Judge Ellis dropped the ball big time in failing to sequester the jury. After closing arguments, he reportedly expressed surprise that the trial received such extensive publicity. That comment reflects astonishing naivete. Even the most casual court observer could have predicted as much. I will have more to say about the conduct of the presiding judge in a future column, but for now let me return to Mr. Trump.

It is not a stretch to think that, in crafting his remarks, Mr. Trump worked hand in glove with the Manafort defense lawyers who, in their closing argument, were hell-bent on discrediting the prosecution’s motives in bringing the case against Manafort. The judge had explicitly forbidden the defense from doing so, but they ignored his directive. The judge told the jury to disregard this part of the defense argument, but our common experience tells us that, once heard, it’s awfully hard to “un-ring the bell.”

There is but one reasonable inference to be drawn from Trump’s self-serving remarks condemning the prosecution and touting Manafort’s virtues – he hoped to communicate with – and thereby influence – Manafort’s jury, and he did so outside the scope of legally permitted courtroom procedures. That is the very definition of jury tampering.

It was jaw-dropping to watch the president’s brazen performance, the bravado with which he committed a crime in plain sight. To use his words: “It was a very sad day for our country.”
 

Time to flip the 5th

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While the national media has been obsessing over the “too close to call” photo-finish in the special election in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District, I’ve been studying the primary election outcome in a district closer to home – the 5th Congressional District in Washington State.

Washington’s 5th includes many communities that are a stone’s throw from Idaho, including Spokane, Pullman, Clarkston, and Asotin. Since 2005, it has been represented by Cathy McMorris Rodgers, now a member of House GOP leadership.

An obedient lieutenant in Paul Ryan’s hyper-partisan caucus, McMorris Rodgers is part of the right-wing cabal propping up Mr. Trump. She recently held a fat cat fundraiser featuring Devin Nunes, the disreputable chair of the House Intelligence Committee. Memorably, Nunes did his utmost to bury the truth about Russia’s attack on our 2016 election. The committee hearings he chaired were a joke.

Recently, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow played an audio tape made by a person who paid to attend this fundraiser. On the tape, Nunes and McMorris Rodgers could be heard stealthily scheming to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein once they had retained their majority. Their intent, clearly, is to protect the president by shutting down the Special Counsel’s investigation. Indeed, Nunes and McMorris Rodgers have done little more than carry water for a manifestly corrupt administration, becoming complicit in the increasingly evident cover-up.

The GOP has shown itself manifestly incapable of putting country above party. They will not hold this president to account. That is why those of us who believe Mr. Trump is a threat to our republic must do everything we can to ensure that Republicans lose their majority. We can take an important step in that direction by defeating McMorris Rodgers.

For the last quarter of a century, Washington’s 5th district has been regarded as a lock for Republicans. But after the primary vote, McMorris Rodgers looks vulnerable; it is not unreasonable to think the district will flip. The state of Washington has a top-two primary in which the two candidates receiving the most votes, regardless of party affiliation, go head to head in the general election. This year, McMorris Rodgers received less than 50 percent of the vote, and – of perhaps greater significance – Democratic challenger Lisa Brown was nipping at her heals, coming within just 1 percent of the incumbent.

Lisa Brown is an exceptionally strong, superbly qualified candidate. She has had proven success at the ballot box, in the Washington state legislature, as an economics professor and, most recently, as chancellor of Washington State University Spokane. First elected to the Washington state House of Representatives in 1992, Brown went on to serve with distinction in the Washington state senate. In 2005, she became the first Democratic woman in the state to hold the position of Senate Majority Leader.

Lisa Brown’s record in the state legislature is one of real accomplishment. She led the creation of the state's Mental Health Parity Act of 2005, which improved the insurance coverage of mental health services for Washington residents. And she worked to successfully expand children's health care and create the nonprofit Prescription Drug Assistance Foundation. She fought to ensure the state properly invested in public schools and infrastructure, worked to strengthen and diversify the regional economy, and helped pass landmark legislation including the simple majority for schools constitutional amendment and marriage equality.

Idaho Democrats and other Idaho progressives would do well to support Lisa Brown’s candidacy. Democrats need to flip 24 Republican-held House seats this year to take control of the 435-seat chamber. Most of us have limited resources and want to support candidates who have a realistic shot at winning. The fact that Lisa Brown came within a hair’s breadth of besting McMorris Rodgers in the Washington primary permits the inference that she is such a candidate. Her stellar record of public service tells us she would be an outstanding member of Congress.

It’s time to flip the Fifth.
 

Silence is unacceptable

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From the outset, Trump’s one-on-one meeting with Vladimir Putin was a recipe for disaster. Now Trump has made the situation much worse by refusing to reveal what was discussed at that meeting. In the meantime, the Russian media is having a field day spilling selected beans – information regarding Syria and arms control for instance.

Recently, the Russian ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said that Trump and Putin had entered into “important verbal agreements.” No one this side of the pond knows what these alleged agreements entail. Even the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker, has admitted he hasn’t a clue what Antonov is talking about.

The president does not have a blank check to do as he pleases in the realm of foreign affairs. Our founders very purposefully divided responsibility for foreign relations between the executive and legislative branches. They had ousted one king and were not about to live under the rule of another.

Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution enumerates congressional powers including regulating commerce with foreign nations, declaring war, raising and supporting armies, providing and maintaining a navy, and making rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces. Congress also has the authority to lay and collect taxes. Article 2 grants the president command of the military. The president also is empowered to make treaties and appoint diplomats, but only with the approval of the Senate.

Thus, the congressional role in shaping and implementing our nation’s foreign policy is substantive and substantial. The president has no right to usurp it. Our allies shouldn’t be forced to guess at what Trump might have agreed to at the summit. Neither should Congress. Neither should the American people.

This charade has to stop. In an utter abnegation of responsibility, Congressional Republicans shut down Democratic efforts to subpoena the American translator, the only other American in the Trump-Putin meeting. Their cowardice and submission to Trump is exceeded only by Trump’s cowardice and submission to Putin.

There is a widespread and growing belief that our president got played in Helsinki. In response, Republicans have ducked for cover and run. Among those are the members of Idaho’s congressional delegation. After the president's shameful capitulation to Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Republican senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch issued woefully anemic statements. Each merely acknowledged that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 election and observed that Russia is no friend of the United States.

There was no condemnation of the president’s fawning over Putin, not a peep of outrage over his defense of the Russian attack on our country, or even a passing nod to their oaths to defend our nation against all enemies foreign and domestic. Republican strategist Rick Wilson calls this kind of pathetic response on the part of GOP office holders, the "furrowed brow and deep concern act." And it is totally inadequate to the moment.

For some time, many have wondered what Putin is holding over the president to make him behave in such a subservient and unprincipled manner, seemingly selling out his country to curry favor with the Russian dictator.

Now that same concern should also apply to members of the Republican majority in Congress. In the utter absence of bipartisan action, it falls to congressional Democrats to use every tool in their toolbox to demand transparency and accountability from this president. Their minority status makes the task daunting. But they must force the issue. Faithfulness to the Constitution requires nothing less.
 

Fruit of the Poisonous Tree

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By all reports, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who President Trump has nominated to the Supreme Court, is exceptionally bright, has a prodigious work ethic and is well-regarded by his colleagues as having a most collegial temperament. But he should not be confirmed as a justice.

There are many concerning aspects to what we already know about Kavanaugh’s professional background and record of jurisprudence. These will be further elucidated as the vetting process goes forward. But whatever more we learn about this judge, we know one thing now that should make this nomination a non-starter: it is the fruit of the poisonous tree and therefore also toxic.

In the law, the ‘fruit of the poisonous tree’ doctrine stands for the proposition that evidence produced as a result of illegal law enforcement activity is inadmissible at trial. There are exceptions to the doctrine, but the animating idea is that if the source of the evidence or the evidence itself is tainted, then any evidence obtained therefrom is tainted as well.

I use the expression metaphorically. Here, if the person lawfully authorized to make the nomination has obtained his position by illegal action, then the nomination itself would seem to lack legitimacy. We know that Mr. Trump is under investigation for obstructing justice, conspiring with a foreign foe to rig our national election in his favor, and – possibly – other serious crimes. Unless and until the Special Counsel’s report is completed, made public and acted upon by Congress, the president’s legitimacy as president is very much in doubt.

At the end of last week, the Deputy Attorney General announced an Indictment against twelve Russians charging them with Conspiracy to Commit an Offense against the United States. Given the specific factual allegations contained in the Indictment, it is not a reach to think that a future Indictment could name the president as a co-conspirator. A Department of Justice memorandum written during the Nixon era concluded that presidents may not be indicted during their tenure in office, but the proposition has never been ruled on by the courts. The Special Counsel may decide to litigate the issue, or he may decide to side-step it by naming the president as an unindicted co-conspirator. Perhaps, at the end of the day, the facts adduced will exonerate the president altogether; but information currently in the public domain strongly suggests otherwise.

If the Special Counsel were to name Trump an unindicted co-conspirator, impeachment by the House should follow. A Senate trial as to the president’s guilt or innocence would resolve the matter. But if, as the American people have ever-more reason to believe, the president was in cahoots with Russia, obstructed justice or otherwise broke the law, his presidency is a poisonous tree and Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination is the fruit thereof.

Indeed, if Trump is shown to be an illegitimate president, then logic, a sense of justice, and concerns for basic fairness would seem to require that every executive order and action taken under his direction be erased from the books. But we don’t have a constitutional roadmap setting forth a remedy, and we’ve never faced this bizarre situation before. Our founding fathers can be forgiven for not anticipating this truly incredible scenario.

As a practical matter, the relief as to most presidential actions will have to be prospective and undertaken at the ballot box. But the nomination of an Associate Justice to the Supreme Court is a life-time appointment to the highest court in the land, one from which there is no appeal. For that reason, it is in a class by itself. We can’t have a “do-over” on the nomination of Justice Gorsuch, but until we know the extent – if any – of the president’s complicity in Russia’s hacking of the 2016 election, the Senate can – and should – put the brakes on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.
 

The right questions

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No one should be impressed that the president has vowed not to ask prospective Supreme Court nominees their positions on Roe v. Wade.

First, his vows -- marital and otherwise -- are worthless.

Second, he doesn't need to ask the question because the Federalist Society has vetted the candidates. Only those who received the Federalist Society's stamp of approval made Trump's short list, and a candidate wouldn't be on the short list if they hadn't answered the question in the "right" -- make that the "far-right" -- way.

We can also be sure that the Federalist Society knows where their approved candidates stand on issues pertaining to voting rights, dark money in politics, environmental regulation, consumer protection, workers' rights, and every other topic important to the Koch Brothers. No one on the president's short list is about to vote to overrule Citizens United.

Undoubtedly, the folks Trump is interviewing are cut from the same ideological cloth as Thomas and Alito and, most recently, Gorsuch. They are predictable votes for repeal of the 20th Century, at least everything from the New Deal forward.

That being the case, journalists might want to focus on whether the president is asking some questions which the Federalist Society may have overlooked in its pre-election vetting. Such questions would include:

"Must a president respond to a subpoena?"

"Can a president be indicted?""

"Can a president pardon himself?"

"If a president pardons his alleged co-conspirators is that obstruction of justice?"

"If I appoint you to the Court and a case raising any one of these issues comes before you, will you recuse yourself -- or will you have my back?" This one is likely to be asked in a less direct manner – perhaps with a subtle nod and a knowing wink. But however the question is asked, it comes down to the president’s insistence on loyalty, not to the United States Constitution, but to Donald J. Trump.

I'm betting the president, as always focused on his own welfare, is especially eager to know where the finalists stand on these questions. I want to know if asking these questions is part of his interview process, either formally or informally. And if it is, we — the American people — need to know the candidates’ answers.
 

Suffer the children

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The National Lampoon was a humor magazine popular through the 1970s and most of the 1980s. Occasionally, the humor was rather dark as when, in January, 1973, the magazine’s cover featured a picture of an adorable dog with a gun pointed to its head. The caption read: “If You Don’t Buy This Magazine, We’ll Kill This Dog.”

That supposed joke was not a serious attempt at extortion, but it illustrates, rather literally, what the practice of extortion looks like. One committing extortion attempts to obtain something, most commonly – but not necessarily – money, through force or threats.

With his inhumane policy of separating children from their asylum-seeking parents at our southern border, Trump is serious as a heart attack. And he is attempting to procure congressional funding for his precious, porous wall by not only threatening to forcibly take children from their parents, but actually doing so – and in the cruelest manner possible.

Trump is an accomplished shakedown artist. His means of persuasion are straight out of Tony Soprano’s playbook. Two months ago, he threatened nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula, and two weeks ago, he got his pay-off with wall-to-wall coverage of his historic meeting with the world’s most oppressive dictator. He has imposed tariffs – and threatened to impose additional tariffs – to much the same effect. It seems he will burn down the house to get his way.

But this horrible business at the southern border is uniquely revolting. He is using, and most certainly scarring, innocent children for leverage. He has said, “They’re not so innocent.” I have to believe the vast majority of Americans know better.

One of the most horrifying things we have learned in recent days is that those charged with watching over the children warehoused in cages are not allowed to comfort the children grieving the loss of their mothers and fathers. They cannot hold them, or stroke their hair, or hug them. After all, there could be liability issues.

Please.

The number of lawsuits that will be filed as a result of the harm wrongfully done to these children by the U.S. government will be astronomical. And, God forbid, that a child be raped, or maimed, or dies in a Trump Concentration Camp.

These children of desperate parents coming to our border begging for asylum have something in common with other children, who Trump has treated badly. The children of Flint, Michigan, and Puerto Rico are also children of color, and all of these children are suffering. Those forcibly taken from their parents will, almost certainly, be damaged most of all.

But Mr. “Art of the Deal,” treats these children as if they were pawns on a chessboard or, in his words – “a negotiating tool.”

It’s almost as if he thinks they are less than human.
 

1984

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When our ethically bankrupt president declared that Kim Jong Un “loves his people,” and that “his people love him,” I was reminded of a Party slogan in George Orwell’s novel “1984” – “War is peace/freedom is slavery/ignorance is strength.”

In “1984,” the Party manipulated people by conditioning them to believe it possible to accept two mutually opposing, contradictory beliefs.

This is exactly what Trump now asks of us. He would have us accept the proposition that total repression and violence is love, that people who have been cowed into complete submission love the man who terrorizes them.

Is it an act of love to rape? Is it an act of love to torture? Is it an act of love to force a woman against her will to have an abortion? Is it an act of love to imprison and enslave? Is it an act of love to exterminate? Is it an act of love to starve people to death?

Is mass murder of hundreds of thousands of people an act of love?

Of course none of these atrocities are acts of love. They are the very opposite. And these are the acts by which Kim Jong Un terrorizes his people and demands absolute and unquestioning devotion. Loyalty born of fear isn’t real. It’s a twisted terror-stricken distortion of loyalty, and it certainly isn’t love.

“Double-speak” is a form of propaganda that is both illogical and irrational; it contradicts empirical evidence and buries the truth. It enables a dictator to control the people by stripping them of their humanity, to maintain power in perpetuity by destroying the capacity for independent thought.

If Trump can sell us the absurd notion that Kim Jong Un loves his people when his regime routinely oppresses, tortures, and murders them, then he can sell us anything.

For instance, he can make us believe that he, Trump, “loves” the children forcibly taken from their parents’ arms at our southern border and warehoused like animals in cages; or he can make us believe that he “loves” the victims of gun violence even as his policies ensure that there will be many more such victims.

He wants us to disbelieve the evidence of our own senses – from the trivial (e.g. the size of the crowd at his Inauguration) to the critical (the collective consensus of the scientific community on climate change).

Many of our fellow citizens have succumbed to Trump’s unrelenting propaganda campaign. They believe the lies. And the more lies they hear, the bigger the lies they are told, the more they believe.

Resistance requires mental toughness. Every time you hear a Trump lie, register it as a lie. Call it by its name. Accept the fact that this battle for truth, for norms, for our country’s very soul is not a 50 yard sprint; it’s a marathon.

We must remain mentally tough. We must never acquiesce to double-speak. And we must never conflate hate with love.