Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The Making of the Trump Regime, Part 1 - Purging to Preserve the Authoritarianization of America

The AZ Blue Meanie reports on Trump’s ‘Deep State’ purge list compiled by the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas.

The spouses of U.S. Supreme Court Justices traditionally try to remain as apolitical as their Justice spouses (active political involvement by the federal judiciary is discouraged in order to maintain the political impartiality of the court). Ginny Thomas has never been concerned with this “impartiality of justice” ethical norm. She has been an activist in numerous right-wing organizations throughout her marriage to Justice Thomas.

It is beyond unseemly that the wife of a Supreme Court justice is leading a cadre of right-wing extremists who want to engage in Stalinist purges of government employees and replace them with loyalists in the personality cult of Donald Trump.

Ginny Thomas removes any doubt that Justice Clarence Thomas does not believe in impartial justice rendered fairly based upon the facts and the law. He will side with the Trump administration on whatever it most desires.

As horrific as that sounds, it is just the means to a more insidious end. I followed the Blue Meanie’s advice and read The First Days of the Trump Regime by Adam Serwer writing in The Atlantic. The scary theme is that The president has interpreted the Republican-controlled Senate’s vote to acquit as a writ of absolute power. Here are my choice excerpts.

… The underlying principle here, from Stone to Iran-Contra, is authoritarian but consistent: Members of the ruling clique are entitled to criticize law enforcement without sanction, and entitled to leniency when they commit crimes on the boss’s behalf. Everyone else is entitled to kneel.

… keeping Trump in office is not the ultimate goal, despite party members’ obsequious public performances toward Trump. Rather, the purpose is to preserve the authoritarian structure Trump and Barr are building, so that it can be inherited by the next Republican president. To be more specific, the Trump administration is not fighting a “deep state”; it is seeking to build one that will outlast him.

Let us pause for a moment to take stock of this vision of government. It is a state in which the legislature can neither oversee the executive branch nor pass laws that constrain it. A state in which legal requests for government records on those associated with the political opposition are satisfied immediately, and such requests related to the sitting executive are denied wholesale. It is a system in which the executive can be neither investigated for criminal activity nor removed by the legislature for breaking the law. It is a government in which only the regime party may make enforceable demands, and where the opposition party may compete in elections, but only against the efforts of federal law enforcement to marginalize them for their opposition to the president. It is a vision of government in which members of the civil service may break the law on the leader’s behalf, but commit an unforgivable crime should they reveal such malfeasance to the public.

On Thursday, February 6, millions of Americans went about their lives as they would have any other day. They came home from overnight shifts, took the bus to work, made lunch for their children, cursed the traffic on their commute, or went out for a drink with friends. Yet the nation they live in may have been fundamentally changed the day before.

Since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the American imagination of catastrophe has been limited to sudden, shocking events, the kind that shatter a sunny day in a storm of blood. That has left Americans unprepared for a different kind of catastrophe, the kind that spreads slowly and does not abruptly announce itself. For that reason, for most Americans, that Thursday morning felt like any other. But it was not—the Senate acquittal marked the beginning of a fundamental transition of the United States from a democracy, however flawed, toward authoritarianization. It was, in short, the end of the Trump administration, and the first day of the would-be Trump Regime.

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