Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Freedom Is Slavery, Ignorance Is Strength, War Is Peace

A dose of Campaign 2016 on Democracy Now! each morning is about as much as I can take.  This morning, journalists David Barstow and David Cay Johnston, who've been doing great work on Donald Trump's finances and politics, warned that if Trump becomes president, it could be very bad for basic civil liberties.  Johnston said:
David, if he gets elected, he will have the power of federal law enforcement. I’m not worried if he threatens to sue me, as he has, if he loses. But if he wins, he could put you and I and Dean Baquet on no-fly lists. And the courts have been very reluctant to let people off those, if the government claims national security. He can do all sorts of things to mess up your life. And he’s made it clear he will do this. He talks as if the president is a dictator with unlimited power, who doesn’t need to pay attention to Congress or to the courts. He’s talked of firing generals. And the first thing someone does who plans to turn a republic into a dictatorship is they fire those general officers who are loyal to country and replace them with people loyal to him. And in my book, I quote Donald at length, in several forums, as saying what matters to him is getting revenge—that’s his philosophy: get revenge; even though he says he’s Christian, get revenge—and absolute loyalty to him, the person. That’s what these threats of litigation should really concern the voters about.
This is all true, and is reason to worry.  But I couldn't help reflecting as I listened to Johnston that we already have a President with those powers.  It was "no-fly list" that got my attention, because it reminded me how liberal Democrats, including Bernie Sanders, embraced bipartisanship and jumped on the bandwagon for "no-fly, no-buy" after the Orlando massacre earlier this year.  But hey, an overwhelming majority of American voters supported no-fly no-buy, and many Americans think the press is too dang free anyhow.  Glenn Greenwald and others have been warning ever since Obama took office that even if you trust him not to abuse them, the powers he has arrogated to himself will still be available to the next Republican president.  But, of course, no one could possibly have foreseen that, even after eight years of George W. Bush.