Thomas L. Friedman: American democracy built on truth in free press & trust in fair elections. Russians hack news; Pres lies. Terrible combination
Humor and ridicule are potent weapons against fascism.
Using humor and irony to undermine white supremacy dates back to the days of the Third Reich, from jokes and cartoons employed by Norwegians against the Nazi occupation to “The Great Dictator” speech by Charlie Chaplin. In recent years, humor has continued to be used as a tactic to undermine Nazi ideology, particularly in the unlikely form of clowns — troupes of brightly-dressed activists who show up to neo-Nazi gatherings and make a public mockery of the messages these groups promote. It puts white supremacists in a dilemma in which their own use of violence will seem unwarranted, and their machismo image is tainted by the comedic performance by their opponent. Humor de-escalates their rallies, turning what could become a violent confrontation into a big joke.
We now know Trump was pursuing business deals in Russia during the campaign. Is this when Putin agreed to help him win the election? pic.twitter.com/qFshiwouSC
— Robert Reich (@RBReich) August 29, 2017
Robert Reich makes a cogent and logical argument for Trump’s collusion with Russia to his and Putin’s mutual benefit by listing the events that have already occurred to the advantage of both.
Twenty storms causing a billion dollars or more in damage have taken place since 2010, not including Hurricane Harvey, compared with nine billion-dollar floods in the full decade of the 1980s, according to inflation-adjusted estimates from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Seven have hit just since 2016…
The oceans are growing warmer at an accelerating rate. Half the entire increase in temperature since pre-industrial times has occurred in the past 20 years. Water absorbs much more heat than air. The oceans have absorbed more than 90% of the excess heat and nearly 30% of the carbon dioxide generated by human consumption of fossil fuels.
Warm water fuels the storms. Hurricanes and tropical storms suck up the moisture that evaporates from the warm water surface and dumps it as rainfall on the land.
Harvey, Katrina— If toxic politics don’t destroy America, global warming will. The Trump Administration has revoked the Paris accords to control climate change and is dismantling the E.P.A., which studies climate change and issues regulations that are designed to combat and slow it down.
From Esquire.com It was a Biblical beatdown. Getty BY CHARLES P. PIERCE AUG 22, 2017 While the president* was fastening on his Serious World Leader face Monday night, Speaker Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny-starver from the state of Wisconsin, was facing a carefully tailored audience at a CNN “town hall” in Racine. Because Ryan is […]
Sheriff Joe Arpaio is an elected official who regularly violated a federal injunction against racial profiling. Last July he was found guilty of criminal contempt for defying the court by continuing his practice of rounding up people who “looked Hispanic” and confining them in what he himself described as “concentration camps.”
Since Trump took office, he has tried to severely limit not only illegal, but even legal, immigration. In striking down his executive orders, the courts infuriated the President. But Trump admires Arpaio because the Sheriff was nonetheless carrying out Trump’s illegal orders and was an ardent Trump supporter to boot.
Though the Constitution grants the president the power to pardon, many are outraged by Trump’s in-your-face endorsement of a man who flagrantly violated the constitutional rights of the people he targeted. The judiciary has, for the most part, reacted to Trump by stymieing his overreach. His Muslim ban was recognized as such and modified, despite the White House’s attempt to whitewash it.
But now we have entered new territory. Inevitably, as “unprecedented” so often describes Trump’s actions, it has lost its power to shock. We expect his Twitter tantrums, his denigration of anyone who has the temerity to criticize him, his flagrant corruption and nepotism, his appointment of agency heads who are either incompetent or beholden to competing interests. The list goes on and on.
Yet when I began to appreciate the ramifications of Arpaio’s pardon, my blood ran cold. Backed by the Constitution, Trump can sanction any crime. He has so much as given the assurance to anyone who carries out his wishes that he may do so with impunity. As Martin H. Redish chillingly wrote in the NY Times:
But if the president signals to government agents that there exists the likelihood of a pardon when they violate a judicial injunction that blocks his policies, he can all too easily circumvent the only effective means of enforcing constitutional restrictions on his behavior. Indeed, the president could even secretly promise a pardon to agents if they undertake illegal activity he desires. [emphasis mine]
Extrapolating, Trump may have found the means to completely subvert the judiciary, leaving only impeachment as a recourse to restore a constitutional democracy. (It’s unlikely his cabinet of henchmen would remove Trump from office by enacting the 25th Amendment.)
Trump has an unprecedented(!) military presence in the cabinet. He is commander-in-chief of the armed forces, whose weapons and numbers he has vowed to increase, and also controls the huge network of law enforcement, including the police and agencies like the FBI. Does the emergence of a despotic and repressive regime seem very far-fetched?
Nevertheless, Redish, a professor of constitutional law, has a “novel theory.”
He theorizes that since the Bill of Rights (the first 10 amendments) were added to the Constitution after its completion, in a conflict between the president’s pardon power and an amendment, the amendment would take precedence.
[O]n its face the pardon power appears virtually unlimited. But as a principle of constitutional law, anything in the body of the Constitution inconsistent with the directive of an amendment is necessarily pre-empted or modified by that amendment. If a particular exercise of the pardon power leads to a violation of the due process clause, the pardon power must be construed to prevent such a violation. [emphasis mine]
The “due process” clause of the Fifth Amendment provides that no one may be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, i.e., a court ruling.
The Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of neutral judicial process before deprivation of liberty cannot function with a weaponized pardon power that enables President Trump, or any president, to circumvent judicial protections of constitutional rights.
As Redish notes, the Supreme Court has never ruled on the limits, if any, on the presidential pardon power. Given that we are in uncharted territory, however, the Court may be called on to show the way. Assuming justices appointed by Trump would feel disposed to rule against him.
Makeshift floats in the festive parade, the red wagons and strollers laden with blankets, coolers, picnic baskets and the occasional toddler wound their way from far-flung parking spots to the beckoning beach. In 2003, temporary crutches made it rough going for me, but nothing could keep me from East Hampton’s Main Beach on the Fourth of July. Ever since I can remember, I had gloried in the fireworks, lying back on the sand, gazing at the night sky exploding with color.
Thousands of people were converging toward the sand, passing me and my group of friends and family as I labored forward. Then one couple spotted me. They stopped, saying, “You need this more than we do,” insisting I ride in their kids’ red wagon. I clambered aboard, slightly embarrassed but grateful for the lift. The other adults shouldered the picnic gear that I had displaced and took turns pulling me along. And so we continued, wending our way, laughing and joking with friendly strangers— teens, toddlers, parents and grandparents, all in high spirits and filled with anticipation.
I usually eschew crowds, but the convivial throng at that annual celebration was suffused with bonhomie, a shared feeling of community that bound us together. At the beach, we gingerly threaded a path through the clusters of beach chairs and blankets until we could claim a patch of sand. All around us families were spreading their blankets. Picnic baskets opened, disgorging bowls of potato and chicken salads, bags of sandwiches, grilled chicken, guacamole and no end of other goodies. Sodas popped and drinks poured. Boisterous children barely contained their excitement. Crowning their heads and circling their necks, glow sticks began to fluoresce as the day faded into twilight.
Night fell gradually, and the crowd ate the last of the brownies and cookies and the cakes with red, white and blue icing. Flashlights began to sparkle sporadically.
At last it was nine o’clock, and all eyes turned eastward, caught by the first soaring rockets. They burst in midair, showering fire and ice. We settled back, dazzled by the red glare and starbursts that morphed into hearts and atoms of gold and blue and green. Humongous umbrellas and giant jellyfish commandeered the night sky, eclipsing the stars until they decayed, trailing sparks that fizzled and sank into the ocean.
When the show came to its inevitable end, we gathered our detritus, packed the leftovers and reluctantly left the beach. Though traffic choked the local roads and made for a seemingly endless crawl, it couldn’t spoil the good feeling. It didn’t stop us from returning year after year.
But that was long ago … What the traffic couldn’t do, the piping plovers did. I don’t begrudge the little birds their right to nest on the beach. I am a conservationist and I believe we should protect endangered species and not drive them to extinction. But it’s been 12 years, and I resent the little critters who have appropriated so much of the public domain and deprived us of a tradition that had lasted 90 years.
Even more, I bristle at the appropriation of the flag by the Alt Right. The “patriots” who want to take their country back— Back to where? To when? To the time when native Americans were fighting to save their homeland from European invaders? Or later, when the descendants of those Europeans enslaved the people they captured on another continent? The patriotic pride of “E pluribus unum”— out of many peoples, one nation— that we took for granted is now problematic, because the “pluribus” are being imprisoned and deported, their mosques and synagogues bombed and defaced.
I do hope the piping plovers proliferate and I dream of the day when the sharp divisions that now divide us dissolve. Then Main Beach will open to everyone and the fireworks will again dazzle at the twilight’s last gleaming.
Though I dream in vain, in my heart it will remain … the memory of time gone by.