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Editorial: Trump and the threat within

The absurdity of today’s electorate teeters on the surreal. Trump supporters, in particular, defy rational thought: For much of the past year, they have sanctioned Trump’s outrageous statements, off-color remarks, racist and bigoted comments, and political positions that are often contrary to American principles — and then there is his obsessive compulsion to tell bald-faced lies, and repeat them over-and-over even when he knows they are untrue.
And yet, for many of these same Americans it is Democrat Hillary Clinton whom they believe is untrustworthy.
Consider too that America’s number one enemy — in terms of military and political power, and its intent to use that power against the United States’ world position — is Russia. It is not the Islamic State, or Syria, or Iran or even Al Qaeda. None have the military power to cause more than a flesh wound to the country as a whole. They each can cause ill will, kill individuals and instill fear, but they have no purchase to unseat America from its political might or its economic standing. Russia could. It wouldn’t win a military war, but it could inflict more damage on the nation than any other world power with its nuclear weapons, its air force and its navy. And Russia has already demonstrated that it has the sophisticated counter intelligence capability to infiltrate U.S. systems and cause political havoc, if it wants.
Now consider Trump’s all too friendly ties with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, his close friend and former campaign chief’s (Paul Manafort) intimate (perhaps corrupt) long-term business dealings with Russia, and the pro-Russian Ukrainians along with the deposed former president of the Ukraine. And just this week the New York Times reported Trump’s businesses hold $650 million in debt, double the debt he has previously disclosed. Just who is financing that debt, at what cost, and why won’t Trump release his tax returns? If Trump owes debt to Russian friends, let alone friends in high places, isn’t that a national security threat if he were to become president, and wouldn’t the public want to know before they cast a vote?
And Republican voters say Hillary is dangerous? They say she is the one who can’t be trusted — for what? Receiving private emails on a private server? Seriously? Even the FBI has repeatedly said that while the practice was sloppy and careless, her actions posed no security threat to the nation nor did it compromise any pertinent intelligence. It is, the FBI has repeatedly said, a red herring — much ado about nothing — that is being pursued by Trump and congressional Republicans because they have little else but smear tactics on which to base their campaign.
Similar tactics were used to bring down Sen. John Kerry in his presidential campaign (none of which proved to be true), so in the thinking of Republican Party bosses, tossing dirt at opposing candidates is more effective than proposing substantive policy.
And how about those poor Jersey residents? Just last Wednesday, they learned that Trump had owed $30 million in unpaid taxes to the state of New Jersey, until his friend Chris Christie became governor and basically wrote all of it off except $5-$6 million. That’s a $25 million write-off for Trump paid for by the good people of New Jersey.
And Trump supporters go bananas when their presidential candidate calls Clinton “Crooked Hillary,” the irony of which is completely lost on them. Trump knows what he is says is a bunch of lies, but his supporters don’t and that’s largely because the right-wing media (Fox News, conservative talk shows and many others) reinforce those mistruths so many times that supporters begin to believe them and to doubt the mainstream media that is trying to get out the facts.
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The nation has challenges, of course, but those challenges have nothing to do with Hillary Clinton or President Obama being untrustworthy or less than capable, contrary to what the right-wing media and Trump would have them believe. Rather, the nation’s biggest challenge — as we see a buffoon of a Republican candidate in the race for president; a candidate who has been rejected by more than 50 leading foreign policy officials, past Republican administrations and fellow Republican congressmen and women — is educating an electorate that is capable of discerning outright lies and complete bull from the truth, and understanding fact from fiction.
Until a solid majority of American voters can master that, we’re a nation threatened from within.
Angelo S. Lynn

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