Yet Americans still don’t seem completely ready to admit genuine lunatics are running things in many places in this country right now, starting at the top!
There’s no way what’s been going on in Oregon with unidentified Homeland Security agents picking people off the streets isn’t a test run for expansion to a lot of other places.
In fact, the acting deputy secretary of Homeland Security admits–or really threatens–as much. Ken Cuccinelli, the acting deputy secretary of Homeland Security, telling NPR:
“We’re seeking to prosecute as many people as are breaking the law as it relates to federal jurisdiction….[T]his is a posture we intend to continue not just in Portland but in any of the facilities that we’re responsible for around the country.”
Doesn’t make it right, but maybe this really shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. Because one of the first things President Trump did when he took office was an executive order directing the hiring of thousands more border patrol agents. (They actually turned out to be much more difficult to recruit than expected, so the White House did another very “Trumpian” thing and paid a private outside consulting firm tens of millions of dollars to help them staff it up.) Later, the former Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security issued a report criticizing hiring and training protocols for the agents Trump was adding on, concluding:
“Border Patrol senior managers are unable to definitively determine the operational need or best placement for the 5,000 agents the Department of Homeland Security was directed to hire per a January 2017 Executive Order.”
(And those among you who are conspiracy-theory minded, can do whatever you want with that.)
At the time Trump announced those intentions everyone assumed he meant it to beef up agents’ presence at the Southern border. Which maybe he did. At that time, we wondered aloud if having all these extra federal agents hanging around inside the country wouldn’t potentially be the first steps to forming a national police force to expressly do the President’s bidding.
And boy did we get it! Both from the right and left. Telling us we were paranoid and delusional: too quick to not give the President a chance, or ridiculous to think something like that could ever happen in America, even under Trump.
Because having federal police running around states and cities beholden only to the President (and a President who made it very clear this weekend during his interview with Chris Wallace on Fox, that anybody who stands in his way on anything he wants to do is just doing it out of spite), is an immensely jarring idea, and has never worked out well for citizens in countries that have essentially tried having two sets of police.
And we should also point out that none of those places, like Brazil just as a for instance, started with as strong a system of individual state independence as does the U.S. Which we are ironically simultaneously seeing in full bloom, with Trump’s blessing, when it comes to Coronavirus response, specifically when certain Republican governors happen to agree with the President about “opening up”, whatever that’s come to mean…
The Oregon actions also answer the question of whether there are enough federal agents willing to act in ways that may be overtly at least borderline unconstitutional and un-American. And we now know the answer is yes.
Those heading the operation now are making a point that they are only protecting federal properties within a given city, and it’s all just part of the President’s newfound emphasis on protecting monuments and edifices. (Even if he seems to care more about protecting statues from cans of paint than protecting his own people from a deadly virus.)
We’re nowhere near Portland so we don’t know firsthand, but if that’s the case, why are so many reports we’re seeing referring to people getting picked up far from monuments or other federal structures, like courthouses?
This is an extremely dangerous precedent, and should not be allowed to continue to operate in the shadows. It must be brought to light. Trump speaks of such actions and of throwing people in jail for “10 years minimum” for attempting to do harm to a statue. While this now, and if the administration continues to expand such activity is much more of a threat to the American way of life.
Can Trump do it legally? Here’s a link to a good story discussing that. But like with so many other things, we’re sure he fully expects to get investigated and sued by state attorneys general (which he already has been), and tied up for a long time while the cases work their way toward the Supreme Court, even if they’re fast-tracked. And in the meantime, lower courts or even the Supreme Court may block Trump from doing what he’s doing, or they may not. And if the Supreme Court ultimately rules against him, he’ll just think up a new reason for doing what he’s doing, or do it slightly differently, and get right back at it, starting up the same cycle over again.
And there’s even a bizarre legal theory going around now, promulgated in a National Review article by the guy from President George W. Bush’s White House who figured out a way that waterboarding was O.K., that the Supreme Court’s recent refusal to straight out kill the Obama immigration program known as DACA, means President Trump can now do almost anything by executive order even if he knows what he wants to do is illegal, with profound impact, because the Supreme Court just theoretically made it very difficult to undo any executive action taken by the President.
This concept currently seems to be very front-of-mind for Trump, and very attractive to him. In fact, he refers to it in the Chris Wallace interview, in respect to moves he intends to make both on immigration and health care.
But you know what? As bad as all this is, from an even broader perspective, it’s really even worse. Because even the fact that we’re sitting here talking about it like it’s something that can and should be talked about is insane.
We were thinking about this this morning when we read about an unrelated story where the Governor of Georgia asked a judge to “restrain” the Mayor of Atlanta from “issuing press releases or making statements to the press” after overruling her mask policy.
How do all these situations relate? They’re both way outside the realm of hashing out differences of opinion with the goal of reaching a reasonable outcome.
Because they demonstrate that genuine lunatics are running things all over the country now and are trying to make lunacy normalcy and in some cases succeeding.
This much bigger issue may be the most under-covered story of our times. Yet we often find ourselves getting caught up in focusing on just the latest travesty of the day, because it’s necessary that we do.
And so we find our thoughts running not to what stinking, uncivil, spiteful, deranged, unfathomably un-American atrocities are being committed by a bunch of deranged individuals who’ve ridden into power on Trump’s coattails. And Trump himself.
Instead, it just becomes: “What day of the week is it again?”