Truthiness and Lack of Consequences


Mexico blasts U.S. family separation policy as ‘violation of human rights’ (Los Angeles Times)
Is Trump’s ‘Space Force’ Against Space Law? (The Daily Beast)

When John Bolton’s name surfaced as a likely replacement for H.R. McMaster as President Trump’s National Security Advisor, there was a fair deal of shock across the political spectrum. Not only was Bolton, a neoconservative’s neoconservative, one of the most visible and strident faces of the “stupid wars” that Trump had campaigned against while running for president, but there was also a sense of “what rock did this guy crawl out from under” among many who assumed, incorrectly, that the post-Bush 43 presidential elections had completely marginalized, if not eradicated, the neoconservative movement that had been so dominant in right-wing circles since the start of the new millennium.

The reality, of course, was that Bolton hadn’t gone anywhere. Like many neoconservatives of his era, he became a regular fixture as a talking head on right-wing media channels, and he also served as chairman of a far-right “institute” that spews out some of the most vile Islamophobic pablum you’ll ever have the misfortune of reading in your life. Bolton might not have been on nightly network news shows like he’d been during the Bush 43 administration, but he certainly hadn’t disappeared, and many would argue that he now holds more power than he ever has in his public career.

How did this happen? Part of the problem, without a question, was a mistaken assumption by Democrats, after their successes in the 2006 and 2008 elections, that their victories had basically driven neoconservatives away forever. Politicians and political parties may lose elections, but ideas (good or bad) never really go away, and even though the Republican Party may have evolved away from neoconservativism after 2008, first to the Tea Party movement and now to Trumpism, that didn’t mean that neoconservative ideas had vanished, or that neoconservatives weren’t just waiting in the wings for their next opportunity to rise to prominence.

More than that, though, neoconservatives didn’t face any significant consequences for what they did while they were in power. They may have lost their executive offices after President Obama was inaugurated, but most of them just moved into different houses in the Washington, DC area, and many of them probably wound up with higher-paying jobs after the 2008 election. Despite the fact that so many of them deliberately lied to enable a war that, even by the most conservative estimates, killed over 100,000 Iraqi civilians (many of whom probably hated Saddam Hussein as much as we did) — and some estimates place that number at over a million — to say nothing of the American lives lost , there was never a whiff of suggestion on the part of most Democrats that any of the people responsible for all those deaths actually be held accountable in a court of law, whether national or international.

For neoconservatives, why would they feel any reason to change their ways, or repent their earlier deceptions, or feel shame, or do pretty much anything other than what they did when they were in the White House the first time? They might have lost their government jobs — for a time — but many of them wound up making more money after they left the White House, and all they had to do was wait out the inevitable Democrat-Republican swing that’s bound to happen in a country trained to believe that only two “real” political parties can ever exist. Now we’re in the middle of the second verse, and it’s not the same as the first; it’s a lot louder, and a whole hell of a lot worse.

What makes this go-around of neoconservative politics so much more difficult to deal with is that it’s being emboldened by a president whose personal disdain for adhering to laws (or pretty much anything that goes against his whims) is already well-documented. If anything, the fact that so many of his most recent actions regarding immigrant families not only shock the conscience of anyone with a conscience, but also deliberately violate international law, showing that the president and his entire administration consider themselves above the law, and not subject to any consequences for their actions. Whether we’re talking about the Republicans embracing the president and the principles he stands for, or all those private citizens in those iconic red hats, people who attach themselves to Trumpism, by and large, embrace this belief that not only can the President do whatever he wants, but they, as followers, can also do the exact same things without fear of retribution, legal or otherwise.

For too many Americans, this just serves to make more visible the strictures of the double-standards they’ve lived under for decades. While the president’s son-in-law has been allowed to repeatedly update his security paperwork to include previously-omitted contacts with Russians, and faced no consequences for doing so, poor women in Milwaukee lose their SNAP benefits and go hungry for months for the smallest errors in their paperwork. While the president abuses his bully pulpit to exacerbate his campaign of open racism, an epidemic of hate crimes in America continues to go unremarked upon by his administration. While a blizzard of boondoggles may soon go towards creating a new branch of the military that would violate international law, much of Flint still doesn’t have clean water, much of Puerto Rico still doesn’t have electricity (and the administration continues to lie about the death count caused by their lack of action), and many of our schools lack the most basic resources they’re supposed to have in order to educate our children.

Too many Americans confront these double standards every day of their lives. A rich white kid in Texas gets probation for driving drunk and killing four people, but African-American high school students in Tennessee get sent to an adult jail for wearing baggy pants to schoolFar-right leaders urge “forgiveness” when one of their media stars is revealed to have molested several of his underage sisters, but high school students who have same-gender sexual relations with each other are threatened with being lumped in with violent rapists in our “justice” system. Recorded acts of violence by Republican politicians against a reporter are glossed over at best (and, especially with Trumpism on the rise, cheered on by a growing mob), but the same people say an African-American teenager deserved to be summarily executed for allegedly shoplifting cigars.

Now we have reached a point where young children fleeing violence in their home countries are literally being held in cages and “tried” in courts without legal counsel, by a government that not only fails to hide these atrocities but exults in them, not even concealing the fact that they’re inflicting lifelong trauma on these families to try to leverage buy-in for yet another of their overtly-racist plans, literally using the children as political hostages. Despite this, the response from those who claim to be the primary opposition to the current administration has been just slightly warmer than tepid, with even the concept of impeachment being cast down by many of them as a “pipe dream” despite a growing mountain of evidence to support it, and yet these people continue to bemoan the lack of enthusiasm from the very people they purport to protect from the “big bad conservatives,” waste time trying to make nice with bigots, and viciously attack anyone to their left whose politics may threaten their cache of corporate donations.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

We don’t need Robert Mueller and his investigation to tell us about the crimes that President Trump and his administration have committed in its detention and cruel treatment of immigrant families. The prima facie evidence of that is not only readily available, but this administration and its supporters are literally glorifying in it. They are shoving it in everyone’s faces, especially those of us who actually  practice that whole “love thy neighbour” thing, and they are daring the rest of us to do something about it. They’ve literally gotten away with everything else so far, so why should they think that things will change now?

Things have to change now. If President Trump and his administration, and the people who have enacted these inhumane policies, cannot be held accountable for their actions, and we as Americans will not demand that the perpetrators of these atrocities be brought to justice, then we will lose whatever moral standing we may have left as a country for generations to come, and we’ll deserve every bit of it. We are, right now, at one of those moments in history where the whole world is watching us, waiting to see if the literal abuse of young immigrant children is enough to make us demand the trial and imprisonment of those responsible for such barbarism. If no one will rise up and demand justice for those children and their families, then we will deserve all the calamities and catastrophes that continue to befall us.

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