Saturday, February 04, 2017

History Might Not Repeat Itself, But Presidential Stupidity Can Echo Forever

Eags's (Timothy Ega's) take on POTUS 7 (Jackson) is close to this blogger's own assessment of that US president. And it goes without saying that Eags's view of POTUS 45 rings true for this blogger as well. Another disturbing parallel between 7 and 45 is horrendous fiscal policies that saw the US economy go into a horrendous depression after POTUS 7 retired to his Tennessee plantation. In short order, POTUS 45 — known in this blog as Il Douche — has begun rescinding all of the fiscal reforms put in place after 2009 as the US began to move out of recession thnaks to the post-2009 fiscal reforms. POTUS 7 was a fiscal disaster and POTUS 45 (Il Douche) is poised to repeat that awful performance by a US president. If this is a (fair & balanced) reminder that history might not
repeat itself, presidential stupidity can reverberate over centuries, so be it.

History[x NY Fishwrap]
A Tyrant’s Ghost Guides Trump
By Eags (Timothy Egan)

TagCrowd cloud of the following piece of writing

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The Man Who Would Be King signs his executive orders with a stagy flourish, waving thick leather binders “that look like the menu at Beefsteak Charlie’s,” as Bill Maher said. Take that, Muslims! Die, Obamacare! We’re building a wall, Mexicans!

Directly behind Donald Trump in the Oval Office as he inks his bundle of biases into edicts is the newly installed portrait of the seventh president, Andrew Jackson, a shock-haired, vainglorious slave driver. Look close enough and you can almost see the dead man smirk: He’s back!

Jackson is that vacant stare on the front of the $20 bill, soon to be replaced by Harriet Tubman — swapping out a man who owned about 150 human beings for a woman who started her life as property. Or maybe this won’t happen after all, given Jackson’s new prominence in the Trump White House.

He is often called a populist, the first people’s president. Jackson was also an unapologetic slave owner, unlike earlier presidents who were troubled by holding people in bondage in the land of the free. To many Native Americans, Jackson is just short of Hitler — a genocidal monster.

Let’s put those anchors to Jackson’s reputation aside for a moment and focus on a more clear and present danger: the way he openly defied the Constitution, and what that awful precedent holds for the current awful president.

In naming Neil Gorsuch as his pick for the Supreme Court, Trump used words that have been largely absent from this White House: respect for “our laws” and love of “our Constitution.” Barely two weeks into his reign, Trump has shown every intention of violating the nation’s founding principles.

We know Trump is not a reader, or even a dunce-cap-level student of history. He recently called Andrew Jackson “an amazing figure in American history,” as if he were describing the place of an apple fritter in the chronicle of baking.

But his Svengali, Steve Bannon, frequently cites Jackson as a role model for the new president. Bannon must be familiar with the time Jackson declared martial law, jailed a judge and suspended habeas corpus while he was a military commander in New Orleans in 1814 and 1815, or when he illegally invaded Spanish Florida in 1818. His biggest swipe at the Constitution occurred during his presidency, in 1832, and again it grew out of his hatred of America’s first inhabitants.

Trump’s executive order barring people from seven Muslim-majority countries goes against the bedrock constitutional idea that prohibits government from favoring one religion over another. His order is a Muslim ban, as Rudolph Giuliani helpfully explained, recalling a Trump conversation. Trump himself said that Christians would be given priority over other refugees.

Now, let’s assume the Supreme Court blocks this action, following judges from lower courts, citing both equal protection and the religious establishment clause of the document Trump has sworn to uphold.

What follows could be a titanic test: Would Trump actually defy the Supreme Court? The way he has handled the fallout from the executive order shows that Trump, like any political bully, is willing to go as far as we’ll let him.

Jackson set the pattern. In 1830, he pressed Congress to pass the Indian Removal Act, displacing thousands of people and ultimately leading to the Trail of Tears. About 4,000 Cherokee died in that long march, stumbling westward in rags after their homes were looted. Two years after the act, the Supreme Court laid a foundation for Indian sovereignty in a case out of Georgia, writing that the tribes were “distinct, independent political communities retaining their original natural rights.”

The ruling infuriated Jackson. To him, Indians were “a few savage hunters” who should yield their land to white Christians. The Supreme Court decision, he wrote, was “stillborn,” because they “cannot coerce Georgia to yield to its mandate.” In other words: How many troops does the Supreme Court have? The court order was never enforced. And not long after Jackson’s second term ended, most Indians had been removed from their ancient tribal homelands in the American South.

This history is haunting. Among the many things that keep people awake at night is a vision of a tyrannical Trump openly defying the Constitution. Because he has yet to fully untangle himself from his many personal holdings, he is already being sued for violation of the emoluments clause, which prohibits federal officials from receiving money or gifts from foreign governments.

But that’s a trifle compared to what an enraged Trump could do if the courts try to stop him on the Muslim ban. Don’t count on Republicans, who waved their pocket copies of the Constitution at the most inconsequential executive orders of President Obama, to come to the rescue. Their patriotism is entirely situational.

The fate of the republic may hinge on how much Trump decides to emulate the slaveholding, Indian-hating, Constitution-violating man staring at him from that portrait in the Oval Office. Jackson is too close for comfort. ###

[Timothy Egan writes "Outposts," a column at the NY Fishwrap online. Egan — winner of both a Pulitzer Prize in 2001 as a member of a team of reporters who wrote the series "How Race Is Lived in America" and a National Book Award (The Worst Hard Time in 2006) — graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in journalism, and was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters by Whitman College in 2000 for his environmental writings. Egan's most recent book is The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America (2009).]

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