Stained & Faded Glory In Trump’s Tawdry Shrinking Amerika.
“This is what authoritarians do. To seize political power, they don’t bring us together—they tear us apart.”
By Thom Hartmann
Common Dreams (7/21/20)
The Republican Trump administration has gone full authoritarian. Portland is a test, but only a test.
Trump’s Storm Troopers
With Trump’s Paramilitary Squads Brutalizing Portland, It’s Hard Not To Feel Doomed
Federal police are there to exert power, bully dissenters and intimidate Americans into giving up their first amendment protections.
By Francine Prose
The Guardian (7/20/20)
A new word, doomscrolling, describes the way we compulsively tickle our phones into providing a non-stop stream of dire health and disease statistics, grim economic predictions, images of food lines and exploding emergency rooms.
With so much doom to scroll through, it’s hard to know when to stop and pay attention, but one story that jumped out at me – and, I hope, at many others – is the account of how demonstrators in Portland, Oregon, protesting racism and police brutality earlier in July, were tear-gassed, beaten, seized off the street by unidentified, masked federal agents in camouflage and fatigues, hustled into unmarked vans and detained for hours. The agents were reported to work with the US Marshals Special Operations Group and Bortac, the Border Patrol Tactical Unit.
There are those, Trump and Barr among them, who would like to see our freedoms replaced by unflagging obedience to the needs of corporations and billionaires.
Government-funded thugs, assaulting citizens, still conjure up repellent images of Hitler’s Brownshirts stomping their fellow Germans, and the street kidnapping of civilians has been the hallmark of authoritarian dictatorships. That was how you wound up in one of Stalin’s labor gulags, in the helicopter from which the Argentinian junta dropped its critics into the sea, or in a CIA black site. In a headline, an Esquire article on the Portland attacks used Pinochet (the tyrant who orchestrated the disappearance of thousands of Chileans during his 17-year regime) as a verb: “A Major American City is Being Softly Pinochet’d in Broad Daylight.”
Federal agents gassing our citizens
One can track the violence to Trump ordering the governors to “dominate” their cities, of which, he claimed, they’d lost control. But the governor of Oregon, the mayor of Portland and other local officials insisted that they don’t want federal agents gassing their citizens. So who does?
A US Customs and Border Protection internal memo, obtained by the Nation and dated 1 July, offers some answers. In response to a presidential order “Protecting American Monuments, Memorials, Statues and Combating Recent Criminal Activity, “ the acting director of homeland security has created the “DHS Protecting American Communities Task Force (Pact) to provide an ongoing assessment of potential civil unrest and property destruction”.
The italics are mine, but the memo describes the formation of a paramilitary organization, reporting to the federal government and free from the laws, rules and conventions followed (even nominally) by police and the army.
In addition, the DHS has begun “coordination with the Department of Justice (DoJ) and the Department of the Interior (DoI) to establish information/intelligence sharing and resource coordination as outlined in the order. …
Stirring Fears Of Pre-Crime Policing, DHS Head Chad Wolf Confirms Federal Agents In Portland Making ‘Proactive’ Arrests
By Eoin Higgins
Common Dreams (7/22/20)
Critics unloaded on acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf after the agency head revealed in an interview on Fox News Tuesday evening that federal law enforcement officers in Portland, Oregon are “proactively” arresting demonstrators in the city.
“Chad Wolf needs to be ‘proactively’ relieved of duty,” tweeted journalist Amr Khalifa in response to the remarks.
Wolf told Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum that DHS agents were detaining protesters because of insufficient assistance from local law enforcement and city officials.
“Because we don’t have that local support, that local law enforcement support, we are having to go out and proactively arrest individuals,” said Wolf.
“Constitution, schmonstitution,” replied journalist Dan Gilmor.
The secretary added that federal officers did not need local permission to conduct operations in the city, calling the assertion “ridiculous.”
“You need to hold individuals accountable,” said Wolf. “When we don’t do that, I think we get what we see in Portland today.”
Civil liberties advocates noted the similarity between Wolf’s “proactive” language and the plot of the 2002 film Minority Report, in which Tom Cruise plays a futuristic cop tasked with “pre-crime” policing.
“In other words, they’re arresting people who haven’t actually done anything wrong,” tweeted journalist Ashton Pittman. “Welcome to 2020: Minority Report Edition.” …