You have probably read a lot of articles about how to establish an authoritarian government since Trump was elected. I haven’t read any of them, because I already know history. One thing I can tell you is that the best way to establish an authoritarian government is to threaten reprisals against anyone who dares to comment negatively on the “leader”. Especially against political rivals or presumed political rivals.
In the last few weeks, we have seen Trump go after the news media with vigor. He has attacked our Intelligence Agencies, which he will head up in seven days. He has attacked Democrats who oppose repealing the Affordable Care Act, reducing Medicare and Social Security.
However, Trump is not alone in his reprisal bluster. Republican Congressmen are also getting into the act. The other day, an Alabama Representative in the U.S. Congress said that the questions Democrats asked Jeff Sessions proved there was a “war on whites”. Which is totally ridiculous and only adds fuel to the argument that Sessions is an open racist.
While all of this was going on, Trump was hit with that unverified dossier about Russia having some dirt on him. Mostly, he has still not said he would continue the sanctions placed on Russia over the interference in our elections.
He keeps deflecting that it “could have been others like China”. All seventeen Intelligence Agencies have said Russia was involved, and tried to swing the election against Hillary Clinton. They never said if it resulted in changing the outcome, but Trump keeps saying they said it did not.
Yet, despite calls from people like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell refuses to set up a special committee to investigate these hacks and their intentions.
There are also reports about Trump team contacting Russia. The last claims that Mike Flynn called the Russian Ambassador the day Obama ordered several Russian spies out of the country. I don’t know if it is true, but if it is that is disturbing.
There are all kinds of conflicts of interest facing Trump and his Presidency. That came to light “big time” as Trump would say during Carson’s confirmation hearing. Carson was asked if he could assure the people that none of the HUD money for public housing would end up in Trump company properties enriching the president and his family. He said he could not.
The day Trump takes office he will have more potential conflicts of interest screaming for investigations into his practices than anyone in our history. So, what does Jason Chaffetz plan on doing about all of this? He has threatened to hold an investigation.
The problem isn’t that he is planning on investigating any of these potential conflicts of interest about Trump. No, he is planning on investigating the Office on Government Ethics. Why? Because Mr. Shaub, who heads up the OGE didn’t say nice things about Trumps plan to “step back” from his businesses.
Shaub has said the whole thing announced at that infomercial the other day is “meaningless”. In a speech at the Brookings Institute, Shaub said”
Stepping back from running his business is meaningless from a conflict of interest perspective. The idea of setting up a trust to hold his operating businesses adds nothing to the equation. This is not a blind trust — it’s not even close.
Later defending his comments he said”
The only thing this has in common with a blind trust is the label, ‘trust.’ His sons are still running the businesses, and, of course, he knows what he owns. The idea of limiting direct communication about the business is wholly inadequate. That’s not how a blind trust works.
So, the head of the OGE gave his opinion about the trust Trump claims he is setting up to avoid conflicts of interest which won’t avoid anything. Besides, you cannot tell what conflicts of interest exists because Trump refuses to release his tax returns. That is the only way to see everything he has and where conflicts could arise.
That was enough for Mr. Reprisal. Chaffetz blew his top so to speak. He immediately sent a letter to Mr. Shaub including a veiled threat to hold investigations on the OGE. In his letter, Mr. Reprisal accused Mr. Shaub of: “blurring the line between public relations and official ethics guidance”.
Republicans are also upset because they don’t believe that the OGE needs to finish all of its investigations into the ethics paperwork for each of the cabinet nominees. Because of this, several nominee’s confirmation hearing had to be put on hold until the OGE and the FBI finish their background checks.
Chaffetz also noted in the letter how his committee has the authority to “reauthorize” the OGE and possibly even shut it down. He wrote:
The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is the principal oversight committee of the House of Representatives and may at ‘any time’ investigate ‘any matter’ as set forth in House Rule X.
There is no veiled threat here as far as I am concerned. Chaffetz is openly telling Mr. Shaub that his agency, which ensures ethics in our government, must say nice things about Trump or face investigations.
Remember, when Republicans put their “rules” together, ethics was the one thing they wanted to erase from the government. Only thousands upon thousands of people calling their Representatives kept them from putting that “rule” into their rules.
We are just seven days from this little boy gaining the power of the presidency. Trump and his cronies have shown their disregard for the law and for ethics. They have shown their willingness to threaten people who say things that are not favorable to them. And, they are more than willing to conduct reprisals against any of their “enemies”.
I have never understood why Republicans are so anxious to kill our country and tear down our democracy. Yet, that is exactly what they are trying to do. You see it at the State level in places like the Soviet Socialist States of Kansas and North Carolina. You are now seeing it at the Federal level.
The so-called party of “small government” wants that government so small that one man can run it and order you how to behave and live your lives. Your voice and your opinions don’t count unless you agree with them. That came to light during the “vote-a-rama” the Senate had the other night.
In order to repeal the Affordable Care Act, they held a bunch of votes. Remember they said that when they repeal the ACA they would keep things like the protections for preexisting conditions and keeping your children on your plan until age 26. Only, they voted those protections down during their vote-a-rama the other night.
Trump is going to become president with the least favorable rating of any president-elect in our history. And, rather than those numbers increasing as we get closer to the inauguration, they are going down. Congress, especially Republicans in the House, are showing their willingness to help him conduct reprisals against anyone who says something unflattering about him.
I don’t know what the future actually holds for us. But, from where I am sitting, it doesn’t look bright or cheery. On the other hand, it looks bleak and dreary.
As far as I am concerned, reprisals against political opponents is nothing short of government sanctioned terrorism against your own people. Is that what we are heading towards?