Donald Trump is a bit odd but everyone is used to that now. The only fresh eyes are overseas. There’s Ian Birrell, a speechwriter for former Prime Minister David Cameron and an editor for the Mail over there in the land of stiff upper lips. He finds Trump almost as awful as Brexit:
Trump is certainly the more repellent, with his racism, sexism and mockery of people with disabilities. I will never forget asking an elderly African American woman in West Virginia about her new president, and seeing her eyes fill with tears as she told me she was so upset she could not watch the news for 10 days after the election. His vile behavior toward refugees demeans a great nation founded on immigration. It is also horrific to see someone in the White House use white supremacists as political props and transgender people as pawns…
The president’s nastiness to his fellow citizens is also clearly energizing the opposition. More damaging in the long term is the way that Trump’s endless lying degrades the presidency in an era when politics is being transformed by technology and when public cynicism is growing. His abuse of journalism and embrace of despots are already having serious global consequences.
And of course he will be gone one day, but it looks like Brexit will be forever, leaving the British economy in proud and isolated patriot ruins forever – so the Yanks should consider themselves lucky. Trump is a temporary aberration. Things will get back to normal, one day. It wasn’t always like this.
Yes it was. There was Zell Miller – the conservative Democrat from Georgia who had turned into a fire-breathing take-no-prisoners perpetually irate conservative. He had been Governor of Georgia from 1991 to 1999, and one of their two senators from 2000 to 2005 – and he had been a keynote speaker at both parties’ national conventions – Democratic in 1992 and Republican in 2004 – but that 2004 speech was unhinged. This was the year of George W. Bush versus John Kerry. Miller did his thing. Miller called Kerry a coward and a fool, a fool who hated the military and wanted to defend the country with no more than spitballs. When pressed about this on CNN he suggested Kerry was actually committing treason by running against a sitting president during a war for the survival of everything – the war in Iraq at the time. Chris Matthews pressed him on this Mathews’ MSNBC show, and Miller said that Matthews was impugning his honor and he challenged Matthews to a duel – the real thing –with pistols and all. Choose your time, Tweety Bird!
There was no duel. Miller realized he had gone too far. He decided not to run for reelection to the Senate. He became a consultant. He became a board member of the National Rifle Association. He became a regular on Fox News. He was still irate, but he became selectively irate. And he died on March 23, 2018 – the wild man was gone. Chris Matthews must have felt a bit of relief. There’d be no duel. And no one was screaming about treason at the drop of a hat anymore. Zell was gone. Screaming about treason was for talk radio once again, not for polite conversation. National politician didn’t mention treason. People disagree. That isn’t treason.
Zell Miller had been an aberration. These things happen now and then. Disagreement isn’t treason. Reason isn’t treason. But there’s something in the air again:
A Florida student is facing misdemeanor charges after a confrontation with his teacher that began with his refusal to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and escalated into what officials described as disruptive behavior.
The student, a sixth-grader at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in Lakeland, Fla., east of Tampa, refused to stand for the pledge in the Feb. 4 incident, telling the teacher that he thinks the flag and the national anthem are “racist” against black people, according to an affidavit. The teacher then had what appeared to be a contentious exchange with the boy.
If living in the United States is “so bad,” why not go to another place to live, substitute teacher Ana Alvarez asked the student, according to a handwritten statement from her.
“They brought me here,” the boy replied.
Alvarez responded by saying, “Well you can always go back, because I came here from Cuba, and the day I feel I’m not welcome here anymore, I would find another place to live.” She then called the school office, as she did not want to keep dealing with the student, according to the statement.
And then this became something else entirely:
The student yelled at the administrative dean and a school resource officer with the Lakeland Police Department after they came to the classroom, accusing them of being racist and repeatedly refusing to leave the room.
“Suspend me! I don’t care. This school is racist,” the student, who is black, told the dean as he walked out of the classroom with his backpack, according to the affidavit.
According to a statement from the Lakeland Police Department, the boy then “created another disturbance and made threats while he was escorted to the office.” He was later charged by police with disruption of a school facility and resisting an officer without violence.
Lakeland police said in the news release that the student was not arrested for refusing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. “This arrest was based on the student’s choice to disrupt the classroom, make threats and resisting the officer’s efforts to leave the classroom,” police said.
The Lakeland police aren’t fools. They’ll say nothing about freedom of speech. One side or the other would be angry, and one side was angry:
The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida issued a rebuke in the wake of the controversy. “This is outrageous. Students do not lose their First Amendment rights when they enter the schoolhouse gates,” the group said on Twitter. “This is a prime example of the over-policing of Black students in school.”
Perhaps so, but this started over a matter that actually had been settled long ago:
The school district said students are not required to participate in reciting the pledge. In fact, the Supreme Court ruled in 1943 in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette that schools cannot require students to salute the flag or recite the pledge, citing First Amendment rights.
But the substitute teacher was not aware that students are not required to recite the pledge, the school district said, adding that officials will look at improving training for substitute teachers and that Alvarez no longer works in the district.
Okay, fine. This was just a misunderstanding. Like flag-burning in the late sixties and early seventies, or black football players kneeling (respectfully) for the national anthem these days, this too is protected free speech, unless it’s not:
In 2017, a black student was expelled from her Houston high school for refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. India Landry’s silent protest prompted a long legal battle in federal court, with the teen’s family accusing the school of violating her free speech rights. Last year, the Texas attorney general intervened and defended a state law requiring students to recite the pledge.
So this will go back to the Supreme Court. They could refuse to hear this. They decided the matter back in 1943 – when we were fighting the Nazis and the Japanese. The government cannot compel or force agreement with its policies and actions. That’s not treason. That’s not even disrespect. That’s disagreement. That’s allowed. That’s why we were fighting the Nazis and the Japanese – to preserve our system, where everyone has the right to disagree with just about everything.
But that does make Donald Trump an aberration:
Donald Trump has accused Andrew McCabe and Rod Rosenstein of plotting treason against him. Former acting FBI Director McCabe has been drip-feeding revelations from his new book to the media over the past few weeks, including an assertion that Trump’s decision to fire Comey in May 2017 sparked so much alarm within the agency that it led to discussions about invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him as president. He also claimed that Trump said he trusted Vladimir Putin more than U.S. intelligence when it came to the question of whether North Korean had the capability to hit the U.S. with ballistic missiles.
Tweeting Monday morning, Trump said: “Wow, so many lies by now disgraced acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe. He was fired for lying, and now his story gets even more deranged. He and Rod Rosenstein, who was hired by Jeff Sessions (another beauty), look like they were planning a very illegal act, and got caught … There is a lot of explaining to do to the millions of people who had just elected a president who they really like and who has done a great job for them with the Military, Vets, Economy and so much more. This was the illegal and treasonous ‘insurance policy’ in full action!”
Philip Bump doubts that:
President Trump woke up at his private club in Florida on Monday and watched just enough Fox News to lift up a quote making an unfounded allegation that someone had attempted a coup against him.
This was the tweet:
“This was an illegal coup attempt on the President of the United States.” Dan Bongino on @foxandfriends True!
And then he was off to play golf for the third day in a row, which Bump finds curious:
As with the national emergency Trump announced Friday, his actions in response to the “coup” don’t really convey the sense of urgency that you might expect from his declarations. If there were there are actual, active coup attempt against a president, one might expect a serious effort to address the situation. As Trump probably realizes, though, there is now and never was any such effort.
The allegation made by Fox News Channel regular Dan Bongino derives from a story included in a soon-to-be-released book by former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe. In it, McCabe alleges that after Trump fired then-FBI Director James B. Comey, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein raised the prospect of removing Trump from office using a mechanism outlined in the 25th Amendment to the Constitution. This, in the eyes of Bongino and other Fox News pundits in recent days, was an attempted coup.
It can’t be:
Removing a president from office using systems included in the Constitution is, by definition, not a coup. Removing Trump from office by following the guidelines of the 25th Amendment would no more be a coup than removing him from office through impeachment or, really, than voting for another candidate in 2020. It’s part of the system.
But he doesn’t like the system. That was his message. That message has been received:
A small town Alabama newspaper publisher has written an editorial calling for the Ku Klux Klan to ‘ride again,’ according to a new report in the Montgomery Advertiser.
Goodloe Sutton, the publisher of the Democrat-Reporter newspaper in Linden, Alabama, confirmed to the larger Montgomery Advertiser newspaper Monday that he authored a controversial Feb. 14 editorial calling for the return of the notorious white supremacist hate group.
“If we could get the Klan to go up there and clean out D.C., we’d all been better off,” Sutton told the Advertiser’s Melissa Brown.
Asked to clarify what he meant by “cleaning up D.C.,” Sutton suggested lynching.
“We’ll get the hemp ropes out, loop them over a tall limb and hang all of them,” Sutton said.
So here we go again:
In the Feb 14th editorial, the publisher of the smaller newspaper (which is not online and only exists in print edition) said that it was “time for the Ku Klux Klan to night ride again.”
We’re in one of those cycles again. Everyone wants to take over, to overthrow what is to get what they alone want. But there are coups and countercoups too:
A coalition of 16 states, including California and New York, on Monday challenged President Trump in court over his plan to use emergency powers to spend billions of dollars on his border wall.
The lawsuit is part of a constitutional confrontation that Mr. Trump set off on Friday when he declared that he would spend billions of dollars more on border barriers than Congress had granted him. The clash raises questions over congressional control of spending, the scope of emergency powers granted to the president, and how far the courts are willing to go to settle such a dispute.
The suit, filed in Federal District Court in San Francisco, argues that the president does not have the power to divert funds for constructing a wall along the Mexican border because it is Congress that controls spending.
In short, Trump is a thief:
The lawsuit, California et al. v. Trump et al., says that the plaintiff states are going to court to protect their residents, natural resources and economic interests. “Contrary to the will of Congress, the president has used the pretext of a manufactured ‘crisis’ of unlawful immigration to declare a national emergency and redirect federal dollars appropriated for drug interdiction, military construction and law enforcement initiatives toward building a wall on the United States-Mexico border,” the lawsuit says.
Trump staged this coup. He overthrew Congress.
Is that treason? That’s not giving aid and comfort to the enemy in time of war. But it does feel like treason – a word everyone is using now. It’s like Zell Miller came back from the dead. Maybe it is time for a few duels.