Thursday, December 15, 2016

When Do We Call It Treason?

The Atlantic describes how carefully Donald Trump has followed the Russian line all through this election.

He continues to deny he had any connection to the Russians. But he did. Many of his close aides were in close touch with the Russian government. This was reported in November by the New York Times.

Trump knew the Russian government was behind the attacks on Hillary Clinton. This is reported here by The Hill, the respected conservative paper of Capitol Hill. He knew it before election day. He actually encouraged the Russians to do more to help him. He applauded their crime and accepted the benefit, as did the entire Republican Party.

Once the Republicans have consolidated their ill-gotten power they will control any investigation that takes place. Which means shaping findings to match their own propaganda. Another trick from the dictator’s toolkit. VOX runs through the Republican strategy for covering up this Russian coup.

Trump’s hold on power is not as strong as Russia’s hold over him. A report on how they will blackmail Trump is here at the Daily Beast. The Russians are in the driver’s seat. The Republicans are in one of those little child’s seats with its toy steering wheel, strapped securely next to Mommy.

Every cabinet post Trump announces and every bizarre diplomatic misstep he’s made since his election (sic) proclaims the fact that he is taking dictation from the Russian dictator.

There is a lot of good reporting about this now, but during the campaign there was a rigorous effort to make sure that the massively corrupt and incompetent and dangerous Trump was not reported as being any more corrupt or dangerous or incompetent than Hillary Clinton. This hoisted his plausibility and minimized his flaws. It invented and inflated flaws in Hillary Clinton. The reporting gave credence to the months long campaign of character assassination aimed at her by the Republicans. The press behaved as if they were recording secretaries for the Republican Party, and for the Russian government helping the Republican Party. Trump was normalized and Clinton was rubbished.

This has happened before. During the 1930s reporters from American and British newspapers carefully expunged the ugliest promises of Adolf Hitler. They normalized him. Mussolini “made the trains run on time.” And Hitler loved dogs and small children. Hitler had made it very explicit that he planned to conquer Germany’s neighbors and create a living hell for the Jews–––all those portions were edited out of the English language editions. Once you have normalized a monster it becomes very hard to change the public’s mind about them.

The normalization of Hitler and Mussolini, from Smithsonian magazine.

The Russians helped create much of the fake news propaganda against Clinton. The stuff about her underground torture chambers and the pedophaelia operation inside a DC pizza shop. All laughably untrue, and all swallowed whole by the obedient FoxNews and Breitbart trained Republican voter. Meanwhile the true and truly horrifying stories being reported by reputable news organizations about Trump were dismissed and disbelieved. The Republican voter has been trained to believe the latest fevered conspiracy theory but not to believe America’s intelligence agencies.

The guy who helped make America gullible and open the door for the Russian takeover is now the top advisor to the new president. An analysis of the poisonous rise of Breitbart by the Columbia Journalism Review.

Let’s get back to the Russian takeover.

How did the fiercely patriotic Live Free Or Die Republican Party decide to climb into Putin’s pocket? They were in dangerous decline. They were losing the election. It was all slipping from their hands, the power, the respect, the feeling of importance. Then suddenly help came in the form of leaked Democratic emails and information. They decided they hated the Democrats more than they hated the Russians. They hated the idea of Democrats running the country a lot more than the idea of the country being run by the Russians. Like Quisling in Norway, who handed his country to the Nazis, there were promises of shared power. The Russians would lift them up where they belonged.

Imagine if Watergate had not been run out of the Nixon White House but out of the Kremlin. And imagine if the Republican Party had known this and all the material gained by the illegal spying had fueled Republican wins all across the country. As Charles Pierce reports, that is what happened this year.

The Republicans have seized power, with Russian help. Their win was narrow and deeply corrupted. They don’t care, they plan to come down hard. They plan to rule as hard right as they are able. They plan to nail down their control, purge the government of less than true believers. They plan to discredit honest news organizations and promote their own propaganda outlets. They plan to punish opponents. (They are already promising to prosecute and jail Electoral College electors who don’t fall into line next Monday.) This is what dictators do. Putin is their role model, their hero. Americans did not vote for this.

I keep reading that there is nothing we can do. The Electoral College must ratify Trump’s election, they say. They point out that even if we can remove Trump from the presidency the Republicans who also gained power with Russian assistance will be the ones choosing his replacement. They went along with this coup and will benefit from the crime. Them’s the rules, folks. We must honor the rules. We must accept what has happened because to refuse is a violation of our principles. When do we call it treason? Once they are in power that will be impossible because treason will be anything that disputes their power over us.

I feel like we are in a car accelerating toward a cliff and we’re being told using the brake now would violate our warranty.

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