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The year since Donald Trump was inaugurated as America's 45th President has been the most tumultuous since 1968, when Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy were assassinated, there were riots at the Democratic convention in Chicago, and the Vietnam War was nearing its maximum number of American troops in Vietnam, 545,000. But the Trump Presidency has placed the future of democracy in peril, as Trump has flouted almost every principle that the Constitution established regarding the separation of powers and how the Presidency should be conducted.

Trump's First Year: The Nation in Peril—Ted Vaill

Trump's First Year: The Nation in Peril—Ted Vaill

Foreign Policy

The recent carpet bombing of Raqqa, Syria by American B-52s, flying from the secret American base on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, created a world outrage reminiscent of the Nixon invasion of Cambodia and Laos in the early 1970s. Over 200,000 Syrians (and some ISIS leaders) were killed in the bombing, but the surprise attack resulted in a series of terrorist bombings in several major cities of the United States, and partial damage to the Statue of Liberty resulting from the kamikaze-type aircraft attack on the symbol of American liberty. President Trump, and his rabid Secretary of Defense, General Michael Flynn, responded to this attack by the carpet bombing of Mosul, Iraq, where street-by-street fighting has been raging since late 2016.

American relations with China are now at their lowest ebb since the 1960s, as a result of the American bombing of one of the new "islands" the Chinese have erected in the South China Sea near the Philippines and Vietnam. China is also threatening to cut off diplomatic relations with the United States, after President Trump unilaterally imposed a 45% tariff on Chinese goods imported into the U.S., and after China retaliated by cutting off almost all visas granted to U.S. citizens, and banning most American products from China.

America's relations with Russia have gotten warmer since Trump was elected, as Russia pressured Trump not to scrap the Iran nuclear deal (Iran is an ally of Russia), and after Trump signaled to Syria's Assad that he was no longer interested in contesting his rule in Syria (Russia is also an ally of Syria). There is rampant speculation that President Trump has in some way been compromised by Russia's Putin, either as a result of financial dealings between Trump and a Russian oligarch tied to Putin or some sexual impropriety involving a Russian woman and Trump, reportedly shown in vivid detail on a videotape.

In Europe, NATO is in disarray, as Trump's Secretary of State, Rudy Giuliani, blew up at a recent NATO meeting after several NATO allies accused Trump of selling out NATO by allowing Putin to retake all of the Ukraine and to invade and overrun Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in short, bloody lightning strikes reminiscent of Hitler's blitzkrieg of Poland at the beginning of World War II. France and England, nuclear powers, have gone on high alert, and have strongly warned Russia against further aggression.

North Korea, an ally of China, and emboldened by Trump's order for all American troops to leave South Korea by the end of 2018, fired a missile in the direction of Japan, which fell short but alarmed Japan so greatly that its leader has requested that the U.S. provide it with nuclear weapons for its self defense in the event of a direct nuclear attack by North Korea. It is unclear if President Trump has secretly issued an order to provide Japan with such nuclear weapons. South Korea is also tense, and has massed troops along its border with North Korea.

President Trump has indicated that he may order diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia to be severed, as the Saudi Sunni regime is the mortal enemy of the Shiite regime in Iran, now America's new ally. It is unclear what that will do to petroleum prices in the U.S., but many American economists are predicting that there will be a massive increase in U.S. energy costs as a result.

Domestic Problems

Several Western states, including California, Oregon and Washington, are in open revolt against the Trump government, and there is talk of forming a renegade nation, Pacifica, out of these states.

Several Western states, including California, Oregon and Washington, are in open revolt against the Trump government, and there is talk of forming a renegade nation, Pacifica, out of these states. Washington has had preliminary discussions with Canada about becoming a province of that country, and California leaders have had discussions with the government of Mexico about some sort of military alignment with that country. Attacks by agencies of the U.S. Government, organized by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, to round up and deport illegal aliens from the Los Angeles area have given impetus to this effort. Particularly brutal was the daytime attack and roundup of students attending class at a Los Angeles community college by ICE seeking illegals, and the Sunday roundup from a San Diego Latino Catholic Church during services.

In San Francisco, the mayor and senior California officials, including the Attorney General, have instructed local police to prevent federal officials from rounding up illegals, and if necessary, to use force. In scenes reminiscent of the desegregation efforts in the South in the 1960s, Trump ordered the California National Guard activated to enforce his orders to capture and deport 2 million illegals by the end of 2018. This order was countermanded by local California National Guard authorities, on order from the Governor, after strong resistance was evident from the many Hispanic members of the National Guard in California.

In Oregon, a number of radical environmentalists have banded together, using the name The Green Guards, to resist, with force if necessary, the efforts of the Trump government officials to impose the President's will on the people of Oregon. Bombings of federal offices in Portland and Salem have occurred in recent months. The Green Guard Manifesto was issued, announcing that over 100,000 Oregonians have pledged their allegiance to The Green Guard movement, and that they are prepared to fight to the death to protect their freedom.

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In all three states, a movement is growing to withhold paying federal income taxes to the U.S. Government, paying it instead into "Freedom Escrow Accounts" set up by each state to protest the actions of the Trump Government. Five percent of the funds deposited in those accounts would be available for use to hire lawyers to defend against IRS tax collection efforts against citizens who withhold payment of such taxes.

President Trump, citing his book, The Art of the Deal, injected himself into delicate negotiations on a number of domestic issues, and totally destroyed any progress which had been made up to that point. He found out fairly early in his Presidency that negotiating with other business leaders or local authorities is not the same as negotiating with federal government or state bureaucracies or elected officials. His failures have been gigantic, especially his negotiations with Congress on the debt ceiling, which came close to putting the U.S. into default on its obligations.

Trump was taken by surprise by President Obama's January 2, 2017 recess appointment of Judge Merrick Garland to a two-year term on the Supreme Court, citing the 1956 precedent established by President Eisenhower's recess appointment of Justice William Brennan. Also making Trump apoplectic was President Obama's last day pardon of Hillary Clinton from any criminal responsibility for any actions she took during her time as his Secretary of State. Trump has tried to undo these actions, but so far has been unsuccessful. The other four Democrat-appointed Supreme Justices are hanging on, so currently there is a 5-4 split on the Court in favor of the liberals.

Trump's wall on the Mexican border has gone nowhere, as the Democrats in Congress have successfully filibustered any appropriations for this purpose, although increased money has been appropriated for additional drone surveillance along the border, which may have watered down the need for any wall. The 1,000 or so mile part of the border which is along the Rio Grande River has been the subject of contentious arguments over the past year between the U.S. and Mexico in view of the treaty which prevents either country from impeding the flow of the river in any way. Mexico has massed troops along the border in several places across the river from Texas to prevent even the start of construction of any fence or wall which might impede the water flow.

Trump has forbidden the importation of Mexican products into the U.S., in violation of NAFTA, until Mexico agrees to take Mexican illegals back into their country without restriction. A number of American companies with Mexican factories are now forbidden from importing those products into the U.S., and where those products are components of other products assembled in the U.S., great difficulty has been seen in delivery of those products by American companies.

Relations with Canada are also tense now, as a number of Canadian illegals have been rounded up and forcibly returned to Canada, even if they have American spouses or children. Trump has also threatened to cut off the importation of Canadian products into the U.S. as well as allowing petroleum from western Canadian oilfields to enter U.S. pipelines. He also has made it more difficult for Canadian hockey and baseball teams to enter the U.S. for their games, threatening the integrity of both leagues.

The appointment of Alt-Right apologist Steve Bannon as a top Trump advisor the week after Trump's election provoked a firestorm of criticism, but Trump did nothing. Bannon remains, and undoubtedly was instrumental in the presence in the Trump Inaugural Parade on January 20, 2017 of a contingent of hooded KKK leaders, a not so subtle reminder by Trump and Bannon that White People Are Again Totally In Charge In America.

Trump's efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare have largely been unsuccessful to date, as the Democrats have ferociously filibustered the efforts to make changes, and as the hidden provisions in the Act that make it extremely difficult to unwind Obamacare have become evident. Regarding gun control, after another slaughter of kindergarten students by a crazed gunman bearing an assault weapon, the NRA again prevailed, and nothing was done to deal with this continuing problem.

Trump has succeeded in intertwining his Trump Organization business with the operations of the American government, as any conflict of interest issues that might have existed have been ignored or reversed by his Executive Order. He seemed to take the lead from what Putin has done in Russia, and is using his position as President to vastly enrich his own personal wealth.

Is the 240 year experiment in American democracy over? Will America survive Donald Trump?

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Stay tuned, if in fact we are still on the air a year from now…

Ted Vaill

Ted Vaill is a Los Angeles lawyer and filmmaker, and four-term California Democratic Party delegate. He is descended from Lt. Pelatiah Everett, who may very well have fired the first shot in the American Revolution at Lexington on April 19, 1775. By this article, with his pen, he is firing the first shot in the Second American Revolution.