Monday, December 21, 2020

Trump's parting gift, in addition to 30 days of nail biting terror, is one more constitutional crisis

Michael Tomasky, Daily Beast Special Correspondent, predicts that The Final 30 Days of the Trump Presidency Will Be Its Most Terrifying. You think, as Sinclair Lewis put it, it can’t happen here, right? Think again! It can—and it has.

Following are excerpts.

We have 30 days to go, and I’m getting spooked. Donald Trump’s been awfully quiet. Well, not on Twitter, but in life. Publicly. And I’m wondering if this is one of those calm-before-the-storm situations, like, it’s too quiet.

And over the weekend we learned Trump has been anything but quiet in private. If a White House meeting descended to a level of sleaze and deviousness where even Rudy Giuliani—there proposing someone impound America’s voting machines—was getting skittish, it had to break the demento-meter. Martial law?! Sidney Powell as a special counsel looking into electoral “fraud”?!

So, is something cooking in Donald’s brain? Is he really going to declare martial law? You think, as Sinclair Lewis put it, it can’t happen here, right? Think again! It can—and it has. According to this fascinating essay on the website of the Brennan Center by Joseph Nunn, martial law has been declared 68 times in U.S. history. Martial law, Nunn writes, “describes a power that, in an emergency, allows the military to push aside civilian authorities and exercise jurisdiction over the population of a particular area. Laws are enforced by soldiers rather than local police. Policy decisions are made by military officers rather than elected officials. People accused of crimes are brought before military tribunals rather than ordinary civilian courts. In short, the military is in charge.”

… the military might well refuse to carry out an order that the brass finds unconstitutional, so the existing order will have restrained Trump, albeit by doing needed damage to the principle of civilian control. But remember that meanwhile, you’ll have Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson and Alex Jones and Mike Flynn and Roger Stone and these other fascists encouraging insurrection. And the people who listen to those nutcases have a lot of guns.

Trump, Giuliani, Powell, and Flynn (who were all present at that bonkers weekend White House meeting) are unhinged, immoral, and lawless. Thankfully there are a few people around, Mark Meadows and Pat Cipollone, who are arguing forcefully against thinking of ways to undo the election. Awful humans though they may be for working for this lunatic in the first place, God bless them for these efforts, at least.

But they aren’t the president. Trump is. If they won’t carry out his unconstitutional orders, he’ll just fire them and hire someone who will. White House Chief of Staff Roger Stone, anyone? Joint Chiefs Chairman Michael Flynn? After admitting—twice—that he lied to the FBI?

Those may be exaggerations. But one doubts Trump is going quietly into that good night. He and his hooligans will try something. His parting gift to America will be one last constitutional crisis. Let’s just pray that enough people say no.

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