Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Friday, July 19, 2019 7:29 pm

We have a felon and a Nazi in the White House, or, “This is the face of evil.”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 7:29 pm

Events this week should have crystallized for every thinking American and even many unthinking ones how Donald Trump is not just unqualified to be president but a criminal besides.

His rally in Greenville came straight out of Nuremberg. When he criticized U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar,  a native of Somalia who is a naturalized U.S. citizen, the crowd started changing, “Send her back!” Trump stood and basked in this for a full 13 second before continuing to speak.

The level of hatred the man has whipped up is not only antithetical to American values of justice and equality, it’s also a danger to public order at this point. He is clearly aware of the possibility, even the likelihood, of stochastic terrorism and is trying to direct it at Omar and the other members of “the Squad” — four freshmen Congress members of color who have not only loudly opposed his policies but equally loudly called out his racism. He and his supporters have argued that they should go back where they came from, the fact that three of the four are native U.S. citizens notwithstanding. It was so repulsive that German Prime Minister Angela Merkel spoke out against Trump and in support of “the Squad.” Imagine that: a German prime minister having to lecture us about our Nazism.

Indeed, Jason Stanley, a scholar of fascism and the author of “How Fascism Works,” said after the rally, “I am not easily shocked. But we are facing an emergency. Journalists must not get away with sugarcoating this. This is the face of evil.”

That would have been bad enough on its own. But on Thursday, search warrant applications and other court documents were unsealed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York that strongly indicated that Trump himself had been directly involved in violation of federal election law. The records indicate that Trump had been involved in numerous phone calls pursuant to the payment of hush money to Stormy Daniels, the porn actress with whom he had had a tryst, to keep quiet about it shortly before the 2016 election. The records also indicate that Trump aide Hope Hicks had been involved in arranging the payments, despite her insistence to Congress that she had never discussed the matter with Trump. Had the affair been revealed then, Trump almost certainly would have lost the election, so he cheated to win.

But the Justice Department announced that the investigation was being closed without any additional charges besides Michael Cohen’s guilty plea. Trump had been named as an unindicted co-conspirator, “Individual 1,” in Cohen’s indictment, and, as Cohen had insisted in congressional testimony, had been directly involved in the hush-money payment.

Given that the unsealed documents would appear to implicate Trump in election-law violations and conspiracy, and to implicate Hope Hicks in those two crimes plus possible obstruction of justice, the investigation certainly should not be over. And while no one can prove it, the suspicion, of course, is that Attorney General Bill Barr, whose belief that no president should be investigated if he thinks it’s unfair was a big reason for his getting his current job, has decided to shut this whole thing down — apparently, in Trump’s case, because current Justice policy forbids indicting a sitting president.

So we not only have a fascist bigot in the White House, we also have a guy who has been saved from indictment TWICE now by a Justice Department policy that has no basis in statutory law or the Constitution: The Mueller report, released in March, implicated Trump in up to 10 counts of obstruction of justice and made clear that had it not been for that same policy, Trump would have been indicted.

And maybe it’s just me, but I think anyone who has been saved from indictment twice by that policy doesn’t belong in office.

So: We are being governed by a criminal fascist who is propped up by a corrupt Justice Department and a Republican Party that is ride-or-die Trump even if he ends up being implicated in the child rape case for which his longtime friend Jeffrey Epstein is now sitting in jail without bail awaiting trial. And way too many people are just fine with that. And that’s before you even get into all the wrongdoing in his administration; this executive branch is nothing more or less than a crime syndicate.

This country is at a very dangerous pass, and I don’t mind telling you that right now, I think Trump is going to be re-elected. Blue voters in this country are increasingly congregating in a few coastal states, meaning the Electoral College works against Democrats: Trump, who lost the popular vote in 2016 by 2.9 million votes, could lose it by 5 million votes in 2020 and still win the Electoral College.

What’s worse, the Democratic leadership’s continued refusal to hold impeachment hearings, its continued insistence on treating Trump as a political or policy issue rather than a moral one, is going to turn off the base that brought the party its 2018 Blue Wave. They will sit home in 2020, just as they did in 2014, 2010 and 2002 when party leaders disappointed them. And that’s before you even factor in likely Russian interference and GOP vote suppression in swing states including North Carolina. (And for those of you whining that if he were impeached the GOP-held Senate wouldn’t convict, I reply: Then THAT’S WHAT YOU MAKE THEM RUN ON IN 2020.)

If he IS re-elected, all hell is going to break loose. And I don’t think we will be able to come back from it. I’d love to be wrong about all this, but I don’t think I am.

 

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Tuesday, July 2, 2019 9:35 pm

Sure, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez could be lying. But what if she’s not?

“Now I’ve seen the inside of these facilities. It’s not just the kids. It’s everyone. People drinking out of toilets, officers laughing in front of members Congress. I brought it up to their superiors. They said ‘officers are under stress & act out sometimes.’ No accountability.” — U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeting after visiting a camp where CBP is holding migrants prisoner.

This tweet asserts horrible things, about line CPB officers, about the agency and its culture, and about our government and our country. Some of the responses to it are quite skeptical. Leaving aside the disingenuous tone of some of the skeptical responses (and the ridiculous calls for video when CBP agents took the Congress members’ phones before allowing them in), I get it. No one wants to believe that these horrible accusations are true. And AOC certainly wouldn’t be the first person not just to politicize an issue but to outright lie about it for political gain.

Let’s suppose she is lying. If that’s the case, she should be expelled from the House. I doubt she could be sued successfully, inasmuch as she’s not saying anything defamatory about any particular individual. (Agencies can be defamed, but it’s tough to do.) But she certainly would deserve our opprobrium and condemnation.

That said, let’s ask ourselves a question. If she IS lying, whom does it hurt? An agency doesn’t have feelings, and she identifies no culpable individual.

So, then, let’s ask ourselves another question: What if she’s NOT lying?

And another: If she’s not, then whom does THAT hurt, particularly if the rest of us do not act on what she is telling us?

I’ll tell you whom it hurts.

It hurts suffering human beings, children of God just like you and me, people driven here in large measure by circumstances beyond their control and for which our country bears a significant measure of responsibility.

And our border officers are making them drink toilet water. In our name and paid by our tax money.

And it hurts public trust and confidence in CBP specifically and government in general at a time when both need more, not less.

It hurts the reputation and image of the United States around the world at a time when the world needs a powerful, honest broker more desperately than at any time since the day after Nagasaki.

And, finally, regarding the issue of trust and confidence, who has, and deserves, more of it? AOC, who has made mistakes and admitted them and also caught powerful people out on their mistakes and lies and is pushing policies that are at least intended to benefit most Americans? Or this administration, which lies like it breathes and seeks to screw over every American it can find to screw who’s not a rich white man?

If you ever wondered how German concentration camps became death camps, AOC is right here telling you and showing you. And if you’ve ever wondered what you would have done if you’d been a German in the early Nazi era, whatever you’re doing now is probably an excellent indicator.

“A Face in the Crowd” and the MAGATs

Over the weekend I got to see, for the first time, “A Face in the Crowd.” The 1957 film, written by Budd Schulberg (“The Harder They Fall,” “On the Waterfront”) and directed by Elia Kazan (“A Streetcar Named Desire,” “East of Eden”), was North Carolina icon Andy Griffith’s first starring role. In it, Griffith portrays Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes, an Arkansas yokel propelled to national stardom as the “voice of the people.” Ahead there be spoilers, so don’t read the jump if you want to watch the movie first. (Apparently it’s available on Amazon if you’re curious.)

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