If, earlier this week, the friend to whom I said I believe the U.S. is in the midst of a slow-moving coup had called me out for being hyperbolic, I would not have disagreed. That is, until I ran across this nearly identical headline at Salon:
Americans are witnessing a slow motion coup.
The article is written by journalist, novelist and screenwriter, Lucien K. Truscott IV who has covered some of the biggest news stories of our lifetimes, here and abroad. (Disclosure: I knew him slightly half a century or so ago when we were both starting out.) I'll get back to his Salon piece shortly.
There hasn't been much in these pages about the dying of American democracy because who can keep up. Any one person could write 24 hours a day, seven days a week and not cover all the outrages being inflicted almost daily by the president and the Republican Congress upon the citizens of the United States.
Besides, plenty of other people - in print, online and on TV - have more than enough to say - too much of it unhelpful and even wrong. And it is not within the mandate (see banner above) of this blog.
Even with all that, this week's firing of FBI Director James Comey, the fact of it along with the shameful haste, lies and crudeness with which it was done, is unprecedented. In the 240 years of our country's history, it has happened only once before that a president fired the person investigating his own election campaign.
Some reporters are making the comparison to President Richard Nixon's “Saturday night massacre” and that is not inapt. What is different for me and for people who are older than about 55 now is that we were there in real time.
For nearly a year, we lived through the daily dispatches from Woodward and Burnstein, became familiar with Deep Throat's leaks and followed the accusations and denials that pretty much unhinged the country for nearly a year.
When, at last, Nixon resigned, you could almost hear the collective sigh of relief of millions of citizens throughout the land. It was an unprecedented moment in our history.
And so is this one.
For all the millions of words already spoken and written about the Comey firing, what appears to me to be most true is that the letters the White House released were outright lies. It is becoming increasingly clear to any sentient being that the real reason Trump fired Comey is that he was getting too close to whatever connections there may be between the Trump campaign and/or administration and Russia.
The reason I bring it up today, instead of the age-related post I had planned, is that I am worried, maybe even panicked, that as the Republican Congress has ignored every Trump administration transgression so far, they will do it again with this one.
Because he closely echoes my own thoughts and is more concise, I will let Mr. Truscott explain:
”All political power is being concentrated in the office of the president. All law enforcement power is being concentrated in the office of the attorney general and, when it comes to enforcing the law regarding the Trump campaign and its contacts with elements of the Russian government, in the office of the deputy attorney general.”
“They have turned their offices into black holes into which things are meant to disappear without investigation or enforcement.
It sure does seem that way to me. Further, Truscott tell us, unless these three men decide otherwise, there are no ways to enforce U.S. law without which we do not have a government and our democracy is crippled.
”What we have (then) instead is an authoritarian regime run by a few men for the personal and political benefit of one man, President Trump.
“No one else benefits — not the citizens, not the systems by which we have until now governed ourselves, not the people who staff those systems, not the people occupying the other elective offices of the government. Only Trump.”
If I may stray slightly from the main topic, let me mention a related disturbing development – the escalating war on free speech in general and journalists in particular.
Without that First Amendment civil guarantee, an open society cannot exist and although there are plenty of other Trump administration attacks on journalists, ponder just these three that took place within just the past two weeks:
⚫ A woman, Desiree Fairooz was convicted of laughing during Jefferson Beauregard Sessions' Senate confirmation hearing in January.
⚫ A journalist was arrested for asking a question of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.
⚫ U.S. news organizations were entirely shut out of the Oval Office during Trump's visit with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador while Russian news agency Tass was allowed access.
Our government, our institutions, our founding documents and therefore our country are being snatched away from us and the Republicans controlling Congress have made it evident that they are going to allow this to happen.
Lucien K. Truscott IV again:
”it will take enormous outrage by the citizenry, and an act of enormous political will by their representatives, to bring a halt to this this authoritarian madness.
“Our government belongs to us — not to [Trump]. Unless we teach him this lesson, we deserve everything he does to us with the power he has so nakedly and corruptly seized in this slow-motion coup.”
The whole reason for this post is that I'm deeply curious if TGB readers who are mostly old enough to remember Watergate think I am being hyperbolic to say I believe there is a coup underway, and what other thoughts you have about the astounding government and political events of this week.
Reminder: There probably are not a lot of Trump supporters among us to provoke unseemly argument in the comments but as always, whatever you have to say, keep it civil.