Friday, May 12, 2017

When will responsibility "trump" rights again?....

It is no longer “do whatever you want as long as you don’t get caught”….today it is more like “hide your spine, bury your convictions and hope the tide lifts all responsibilities and replaces them with rights”….

Trump has no “right” to ask for and to expect and demand Comey’s pledge of loyalty. Nor does a co-worker have the right to wear noxious perfumes that are making co-workers seriously ill. The tar sands has no ‘right’ to dump polluting water into the rivers of northern Alberta, contaminating the water that keeps First Nations people alive. Volkswagen does not have the ‘right’ to lie about manipulating on-board computers to evade pollution emission testing.

And when the obvious claim to ‘rights’ that do not apply, by the most powerful office threatens to prove unequivocally his blatant obstruction of justice, perhaps then, after decades of skirting responsibilities, as a matter of “right” we can turn the corner and put responsibilities on top of our value totem pole.

There is a dramatic difference between “Yes WE can!” and “Yes I can!”….and the difference is that when the “can” is a shared act, project, initiative or even a dream or aspiration, then it has to be designed, proposed and executed by a range of players even if the range is more than two. Of course, if sycophants to power, those so fragile and so ambitious (the most dangerous and toxic cocktail of characters) join in an “I” with another, the result will always be tragic. The Trump white house is replete with sycophants to faux power, in this case defined by a single personal will that abides no opposition.

Last night on the Final Word, with Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC, Lawrence Tribe, professor of law at Harvard, documented trump’s obstruction of justice, in his question to Comey “Am I under investigation?” in a private dinner arranged by the White House, and his search for “loyalty” to Comey. The implication, according to Tribe, is that, “If you pledge loyalty, and protect me, then I will keep you on  as Director of the FBI!”  Of course, Comey already has declared that he pledged only to tell the truth, and not to offer his loyalty, nor did he request the dinner to secure his position as Director of the FBI.

Nor did Comey lack the support of the agency, as attested yesterday by the Acting Director in his testimony to Congress. In another contradiction of trump, the Acting Director also declared that the investigation into the Russian impact on the election, and the trump campaign collusion with Russia is a highly important matter, while trump continues to both question it and dismiss it and want the investigation terminated.

Of course, trump wants the investigation terminated; as others have put it there has never been a cover-up without an underlying crime needing it.

Tribe also characterizes trump’s spoken word as the “language of the mob” describing it in terms journalists might find their editors deleting as innuendo. Tribe is one of eighteen self-appointed “shadow cabinet” whose task is and will continue to be to offer public challenges to all acts and statements coming out of the White House and they have already initiated a court case on trump’s guilt under the emoluments clause, that public protection that precludes the president from being open to and accepting bribes from a foreign country or agent. Tribe expresses confidence that they will achieve a positive verdict against the president.

This morning we hear a comparison of these early days in the current administration to the Final Days of the Nixon administration in which both chief executives are “flailing” to quote Eugene Robinson, columnist in the Washington Post, and commentator on MSNBC.  Flailing presidents secretly host the Russian Foreign Minister, refusing to release photos of their back-slapping exchanges in the Oval Office, deferring to the Russian media agency for release of photos which, not surprisingly appeared on the front page of the New York Times, insulting America in the midst of the most intensive investigation of Russian meddling in the election of 2016.

There continue to be two groups whose fossilized attitudes in support of the president, the Republicans in Congress and the people who voted for his election and whether these two are joined at the hip is an open question. Yet, with the current public opinion polls putting the president’s popularity at 36-37%, how long will it take for the elected representatives to awaken to the political reality staring them in the face that they will be unlikely to be re-elected on trump’s base vote. So far, complicity and even support for trump seems to be evidence that individually and collectively, these men and women are all in desperate need of a political spine, through whatever intellectual and ethical and political gestalt that might be injected into their consciousness.

For the elected Republicans to stone-wall an independent prosecutor and/or commission to pursue the facts about Russian influence and trump collusion demonstrates either that they believe this storm will pass leaving them unscathed, or that they are sleep-walking into political oblivion. The trouble with both scenarios is that the republic’s constitutional foundations are quivering and the tsunami of more than circumstantial evidence against the president is sending signals that neither can nor will be denied, evaded, or thwarted with lies.

This not so much a question of which side of history they want to be on; rather it is a question of which side of the truth they come down on. And by continuing their current myopia (read denial, hubris, spineless paranoia, or stupidity) they extend all reasonable confidence in their ability to take  their responsibilities seriously.

Oh, but maybe it is their “right” to be intransigent and bull-headed!  

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