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Here Are 5 Ways President Trump Behaves Like the Corrupt Leader of a Banana Republic

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Whenever John Dean, Jill Wine-Banks, Dan Rather or Carl Bernstein are asked to discuss President Donald Trump’s controversies on CNN or MSNBC, a word that inevitably comes up is “Watergate.” Wine-Banks was a Watergate prosecutor in the 1970s, while Rather and Bernstein reported on Watergate extensively as journalists—and Dean served as White House counsel under the Richard Nixon Administration. Dean and Bernstein appeared together on CNN on November 20, discussing the revelation that Trump urged the Department of Justice to pursue criminal charges against Democrat Hillary Clinton and former FBI Director James Comey.

Dean told CNN, “If I had to channel a little of Richard Nixon, I think he’d tell this President he’s going too far. This is the sort of stuff of a banana republic….This is a level Richard Nixon never went to, where you went after somebody’s personal well-being by a criminal prosecution.” And Dean didn’t get any argument from fellow Watergate-era veteran Bernstein, who denounced Trump’s actions as exemplary of his “abuse of presidential power” and his “embrace of authoritarianism.”

Certainly, “banana republic” are strong words, but in Trump’s case, they are appropriate. Here are five ways in which President Trump has conducted himself like the leader of a corrupt banana republic.

1. Relentless Demonizing of the Press

In a democratic republic, the press is meant to serve as an aggressive watchdog—and most U.S. presidents have understood that, even when they felt the press was being unfair. President Barack Obama was visibly annoyed at Fox News at times, but he respected their 1st Amendment rights and realized that he wasn’t exempt from the media’s scrutiny. Trump, however, has repeatedly denounced the press as the energy of the people—even when CNN reporters were receiving death threats, even after the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. CNN reporter Jim Acosta, whose White House press credentials were revoked after the midterms, never received death threats before Trump’s presidency—now, Acosta has noted, he receives them regularly.

2. Undermining a Federal Criminal Investigation

In democracies, even sitting presidents are not exempt from the rule of law—which is why President Richard Nixon probably would have been removed from office via the impeachment process had he not resigned on August 8, 1974 (Trump faced articles of impeachment in the House of Representatives, but he stepped down before a Senate trial could come about). Trump, however, views himself as exempt from the scrutiny of the U.S. Justice Department. Furious with Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia-related investigation, Trump fired him after the 2018 midterms and replaced him with loyalist Matt Whitaker—who just happens to be an outspoken opponent of the investigation. This is very much the type of corrupt behavior one would expect from the leader of a banana republic.

3. Interference with Election Results and Voting Rights

Trump not only promotes blatant voter suppression in predominantly non-white areas that are more favorable to Democrats than Republicans—he also favors voiding election results that he disagrees with. Requesting a recount is perfectly legitimate; in the 2018 Florida Senate race, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson wouldn’t concede to Gov. Rick Scott without a recount. But when the recount showed a narrow victory for Scott, Nelson conceded defeat. Trump, however, wanted to throw out the election results in the 2018 Arizona Senate race when Democrat Kyrsten Sinema narrowly pulled ahead of Republican Martha McSally.

On November 8, Trump tweeted, “Just out — in Arizona, SIGNATURES DON’T MATCH. Electoral corruption – Call for a new Election? We must protect our Democracy!” There was no evidence whatsoever that Sinema’s supporters had committed any type of voter fraud; regardless, Trump went way beyond asking for a recount—he wanted a “new election.” But McSally, to her credit, rejected Trump’s conspiracy theory nonsense and eventually conceded to Sinema.

4. Pardoning Cronies, However Egregious Their Actions

In Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio (an outspoken Trump supporter) conducted himself like a dictator or an authoritarian rather than a democratically elected law enforcement official. But the system of checks and balances worked when Arpaio lost a bid for reelection and faced misdemeanor contempt of court charges for refusing to comply with a judge’s orders to cease traffic stops that specifically targeted Latino drivers. Arpaio faced up to half a year in jail, but he was spared incarceration when Trump gave him a presidential pardon in 2017. Chiraag Bains, a senior fellow at Harvard Law School’s Criminal Justice Policy Program, asserted that Trump’s pardon of Arpaio was disturbing not only because it was an “endorsement of racism,” but also, because it “reflects Trump’s deep disdain for the judiciary and its role in our system of checks and balances.”

5. Shameless Monetization of the Presidency

When Trump was campaigning for president in 2016, he promised that there would be a strict separation of his business interests and his political activity. But not unlike a family dynasty in a banana republic—for example, the Somoza family in Nicaragua—the Trump family has monetized the White House. Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, were appointed as top White House aides. And in July 2017, Mother Jones noted that neither of them had fully divested from their real estate holdings. Not only has President Trump failed to “drain the swamp”—he has made it much more toxic.

 

Image: DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith

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COMMENTARY

Fox News Host Complains Vaccinated Are ‘Otherizing’ Anti-Vaxxers: ‘Next Step’ Is Putting Unvaccinated Into Camps’

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The anti-vaxx movement continues to co-opt language used by liberals, declaring “my body, my choice” – not when it comes to abortion but to vaccines.

Now they’re taking that one step further, imposing victimization status on those who refuse to get vaccinated against the deadly coronavirus that has killed at least 650,000 Americans and is transmissible by just breathing.

Fox News personality Will Cain, who co-hosts the weekend version of “Fox & Friends,” on Wednesday’s episode of “The Five” told Geraldo Rivera that Americans who are vaccinated are “otherizing” the unvaccinated, as Media Matters reports.

“Otherizing” is a term used to describe how white majorities dehumanize minorities, often immigrants, as “others.”

Continuing the anti-immigrant framing, Cain declared, “We’re veering dangerously close to exterminationist language.”

“Exterminationism”  is exactly what it sounds like: genocide, especially of ethnic minorities.

The anti-vaxxers are now pretending their lives are being threatened, not by a deadly virus, but by the socially-responsible who chose to get vaccinated to protect themselves, their loved ones, neighbors, and co-workers.

Finally, Cain goes even further, walking a very close line to horrific historic events, either like the Japanese internment camps the U.S. created during World War II, or the camps Hitler where sent Jews to their deaths during the Holocaust.

“We’re veering dangerously close to exterminationist language. Otherizing –” Cain told Rivera.

“Exterminationist?” Rivera responded.

“Absolutely,” Cain claimed. “That’s the next step. Putting the unvaccinated into someplace else, camps. Whatever it may be.”

Watch:

Caution: Commentary in this Fox News video should not be accepted at face value as factual, including the misleading claim that Florida’s vaccination rate is higher than New York’s. 

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COMMENTARY

Republicans Demanding Biden’s Resignation Are ‘Terrorist Sympathizers’: Former Clinton White House Press Secretary

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Former Clinton White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart says the Republicans calling for President Joe Biden’s resignation in the wake of Thursday’s terror attack are “terrorist sympathizers.”

Immediately after ISIS-K launched the twin terror attacks slaughtering 13 U.S. service members and dozens of Afghan civilians Republican lawmakers began calling for President Joe Biden’s resignation.

Senator Josh Hawley, whose infamous fist pumping up to the sky leading insurrectionists on January 6 will forever be remembered:

Senator Marsha Blackburn, whose Twitter account daily posts baseless extremist attacks on Democrats:

Rep. Lauren Bobert:

Those are just three of dozens of demands from GOP lawmakers, not to mention Republican congressional candidates, demanding the resignation of the Commander-in-Chief.

Lockhart, who was Press Secretary during Clinton’s Camp David Summit that attempted to end the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, as well as during Clinton’s impeachment, offered strong pushback and an invaluable lesson to all those demanding Biden resign.

“The object of terrorists is to strike fear into enemies and undermine their ability to govern. Their only tool is terror and violence. So to all calling on the President to resign, a terrorist dream, you have officially joined the movement as a terror sympathizer,” he wrote on Twitter.

He adds:

 

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COMMENTARY

Newt Gingrich Hurls Racist Rant: Democrats Want to ‘Drown’ US With Immigrants ‘To Get Rid of the Rest of Us’

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Disgraced former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is bashing immigrants coming to America without entry papers while blaming Democrats for the influx in a racist screed, despite the increase dating back well into the Trump era.

Wailing to fellow pro-Trump acolyte Maria Bartiromo on Fox News, Gingrich pushed a horrid far-right fascistic attack, claiming that immigrants are being brought in to “replace” white Americans, who he referred to as “traditional classic Americans.”

Gingrich also accused Democrats of being “anti-American” and “radical.”

“They don’t come all the way across Mexico for the purpose of visiting for two days,” Gingrich cried, as Media Matters reports. Gingrich’s wife was Ambassador to the Vatican under Donald Trump, the former president.

“They want to be in America,” he said, ignoring all the reasons immigrants are desperate to leave Central America: drugs, gangs, bad economies, climate change, the coronavirus pandemic, crime, and death. Many of those factors are a direct result of American policies and actions.

“And I think what’s hard for most of us to accept, is that the anti-American left would love to drown traditional classic Americans with as many people as they can who know nothing of American history, nothing of American tradition, nothing of the rule of law,” he insisted, also ignoring that for centuries immigrants unschooled in American democracy and traditions have been coming to the U.S. to make a better life for their families.

Some experts blame Gingrich for the extremism and polarization of American politics today. Gingrich frames himself as an icon of conservative and traditional America but in fact is a thrice-married, twice divorced serial adulterer who cheated on his first wife while prosecuting President Bill Clinton’s impeachment for lying about his affair, then asked his wife to agree to an open marriage. He left his first two wives while they were ill. He also skirted military service, using his status as a student and as a father to get deferments rather than serve his country in Vietnam. Gingrich was forced to resign as Speaker of the House in 1998 after a terrible drubbing in the November elections, which historians say was due to his ethics violations and extramarital affair with a woman, a congressional staffer 23 years his junior.

“And I think that,” Gingrich continued in his anti-immigrant screed to Bartiromo, “if you go and you look at the radical left, this is their ideal model is to get rid of the rest of us because we believe in George Washington or we believe in the Constitution, and you see this behavior over and over again.”

What Gingrich is engaging in is promoting fear via “the great replacement theory,” hate speech used by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, antisemites, fascists, racists, the religious right, white nationalists, and white supremacists. Many likely remember the “tiki-torch-wielding” neo-Nazis marching in Charleston at the 2017 Unite the Right rally, chanting, “You will not replace us,” and “Jews will not replace us.”

That’s what Gingrich is doing, all in this short 43-second clip:

 

 

 

 

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