By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (12/2/19)
Dear Fellow Readers,
Picking up from where I began in the last edition: Trump pardoned three convicted US military war criminals and in the process did battle with his Sec. of the Navy Richard Spencer leading to Spencer’s resignation. There are a few follow-on angles that highlight the significance of this event.
Chief Petty Officer and Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher was charged with more than a dozen criminal acts and convicted of one by a military court. While the charges are horrifying, it’s the follow-on actions by Trump that is more far-reaching in risk to all of us. Here’s how Spencer in a Washington Post Op-Ed presents Trump’s intrusion in Gallagher’s case:
“This was a shocking and unprecedented intervention in a low-level review. It was also a reminder that the president has very little understanding of what it means to be in the military, to fight ethically or to be governed by a uniform set of rules and practices.”
There is a second quality worthy of note here. Spencer was undercut by Sec. Defense Mark Esper and Trump chief of staff Mick Mulvaney:
“I also began to work without personally consulting Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper on every step. That was, I see in retrospect, a mistake for which I am solely responsible.”
Similar to Trump-Ukraine, Trump surrounds himself with minions that are ready to support him regardless. ‘Party Over Country’ is the familiar refrain, but this is ultimately about ‘Trump Over County’. Spencer’s mistake – trusting that a Trump loyalist would do what is right. And no matter how many times Never-Trumper and strategist Rick Wilson is proven right again, ‘whatever Trump touches dies’, there is always another new loyalist ready to step in.
More shades of Hitler
Here is the perfect context for the significance of this event. Steven Rosenfeld of the Independent Media Institute put Trump’s actions and rhetoric in important historical context: “Leading Civil Rights Lawyer Shows 20 Ways Trump Is Copying Hitler’s Early Rhetoric and Policies”.
Point 18 is especially relevant:
“18. Both glorify the military and demand loyalty oaths. “Like Hitler, Trump glorifies the military, staffing his administration with layers of retired generals (who eventually were fired or resigned), relaxing control over the use of lethal force by the military and the police, and demanding a massive increase in military spending,” Neuborne writes. Just as Hitler “imposed an oath of personal loyalty on all German judges” and demanded courts defer to him, “Trump’s already gotten enough deference from five Republican [Supreme Court] justices to uphold a largely Muslim travel ban that is the epitome of racial and religious bigotry.”
“Trump has also demanded loyalty oaths. “He fired James Comey, a Republican appointed in 2013 as FBI director by President Obama, for refusing to swear an oath of personal loyalty to the president; excoriated and then sacked Jeff Sessions, his handpicked attorney general, for failing to suppress the criminal investigation into… Trump’s possible collusion with Russia in influencing the 2016 elections; repeatedly threatened to dismiss Robert Mueller, the special counsel carrying out the investigation; and called again and again for the jailing of Hillary Clinton, his 2016 opponent, leading crowds in chants of ‘lock her up.’” A new chant, “send her back,” has since emerged at Trump rallies directed at non-white Democratic congresswomen.”
An equally dire view is offered by The Globalist: “Trump is degrading and dishonoring the U.S. military. What’s more, he is doing so in a deliberate and systematic way.”
Trump’s goal, Trumpism, is a country where only Trump is to be trusted. And his loyalists are ‘all in’. And Trump is suborning all – his administration, the media, the courts, the military… to him.
Sen. John ‘Flip-Flop’ Kennedy (R-LA) is back with a new weekly Sunday political talk show lie about Ukraine and the 2016 election. I prefer to highlight NBC News host Chuck Todd’s pushback against Kennedy’s latest weekly lie, “C’mon. You realize the only other person selling this argument outside the United States is this man, Vladimir Putin!”
Yep, another round of Russpublican Russian talking points. Last week Kennedy followed a Russian lie on Fox News with host Chris Wallace denying Russia hacking of the 2016 election with a CNN interview to apologize for his mistaken remark. Who will host this week’s flip-flop? Remember, Kennedy, along with Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) also spent his 2018 4th of July in Moscow.
Loyalty. Party of Trump. Trump over country.
Here is a second indication of the risk of Trump in the White House. Trump’s former White House spokesperson and lead serial liar Sarah Huckabee went on TV to lie that no Impeachment hearing witness accused Trump of any wrongdoing. A brazen lie given Trump EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s testimony, “Was there a “quid pro quo? … the answer is yes.” Sondland added, “Everyone was in the loop”.
The brazenness of the lies – Sanders, Kennedy… but even worse, Trump’s entire defense appears to be based on another set of tawdry whole-cloth lies.
Trump’s 2017-2018 ‘no collusion’ has become 2019 ‘no quid pro quo’. Trump’s refrain is from a lie he and Sondland have been telling us about a supposed September phone call between the two where Trump purportedly told Sondland, “no quid pro quo” and tell Ukraine president Zelensky ““to do” the right thing.”
Trump’s defense is a lie. There was no September 9th call as described by Trump and Sondland. But there was a September 7th call where Trump does tell Sondland “no quid pro quo” but:
“…but he then went on to outline his preconditions for releasing the security assistance and granting a White House visit. The call was so alarming that when John Bolton learned of it, he ordered his deputy Tim Morrison to immediately report it to the National Security Council lawyers.”
Trump’s defense is a lie and the truth is confirmation of the crimes he committed.
How do we get past this?
Getting back to common sense politics
We get past this by winning the 2018 election. Maybe Trump gets impeached and removed from office. Maybe Trump leaves office for medical reasons either real or a negotiated deal in return for non-prosecution.
Most likely, we will need to win a 2018 election and here’s great perspective from author Sarah Kendzior:
Early in the interview Kendzior says of Trumpism: “they want the very concepts of truth or integrity in politics to be destroyed.”
But, Kendzior does have some constructive advice:
“When you have a systemic breakdown, you need systemic change. It is interesting to me that economically, both Sanders and Warren are sometimes categorized by the media as some kind of radicals. Really they’re just trying to go back, in some sense, to where we were during the New Deal, or during a time when income inequality wasn’t so vast and where wealth wasn’t hoarded by such a tiny group of people. So Warren wanting a wealth tax on billionaires actually is a very common sense approach. It’s kind of the bare minimum in terms of what these billionaires should be doing. I think Sanders’s arguments for a higher minimum wage are part of the same policies he’s been talking about since the Reagan era. It’s just common sense. It’s not particularly radical. And I think it’s practical. It will help stimulate the economy.”
In the face of Trumpism — Trump over Country – demands of Personal Loyalty Oaths from all who serve, pervasive lies intended to destroy the concepts of truth and integrity in politics…and much more.
We need systematic change. The Impeachment hearings showed us the spinelessness and lies of Trump loyalists held up against the Fiona Hills and William Taylors as career government professionals of excellence and integrity.
There is no ‘going back’ to a period of moderation that worked, if there ever was one.
We need a New New Deal and getting rid of Trump is a first step.
(Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2019. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )