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Boardman writes: "In his latest impersonation of the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland, the president of the United States stopped just short of shouting 'Off with his head!' at the latest New York terror suspect, but pretty much everyone knows that's exactly what he meant. Lewis Carroll intended the Red Queen to be an entertaining caricature by virtue of her absurdity."

Donald Trump. (photo: Nigel Parry)
Donald Trump. (photo: Nigel Parry)


Who's a Laughingstock? And Why Aren't You Laughing?

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News

07 November 17


Remember, in Trump’s wonderland shooting up a church is not a guns issue

n his latest impersonation of the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland, the president of the United States stopped just short of shouting “Off with his head!” at the latest New York terror suspect, but pretty much everyone knows that’s exactly what he meant. Lewis Carroll intended the Red Queen to be an entertaining caricature by virtue of her absurdity. That’s a luxury we don’t have when considering our Trump’s affinity with the Red Queen’s jurisprudence: “Sentence first – verdict afterwards.” That’s just what our Trump demands again and again from legal proceedings, with appalling disregard for the Constitution and any other law that happens to displease him.

On its face, that disregard for law, that open hostility to anything like a fair process that might produce a result displeasing to Trump – all that would seem to be an obvious and constant violation of his oath office (“preserve, protect and defend the Constitution”), as well as an obvious and constant violation of the constitutional mandate (Article II, section 3) that the president “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”

As recently as 1970, presidential messing with the judicial process was generally taken seriously, as when Richard Nixon at a press conference said of Charles Manson, “Here is a man who was guilty, directly or indirectly, of eight murders without reason.” Manson’s defense attorneys promptly called for a mistrial, the presiding judge took it under advisement, and amidst public outcry Nixon backed off on his prejudicial public comments, claiming that he didn’t mean to imply that Manson was guilty. Nixon’s attorney general (and later convicted felon) John Mitchell, who was present at the press conference, said later: “I don’t believe the President made the charge or implied one.” [At the time, with killings in Vietnam, Cambodia, Kent State, and Fred Hampton’s bedroom, among other places of extra-judicial execution, it would have been more to the point to note that Nixon was a man who was guilty, directly or indirectly, of thousands of murders without good or just reason.]

On October 31, the FBI charged Sayfullo Saipov with the truck-murder of eight people in lower Manhattan. Saipov waived his Miranda rights and said he had planned the attack for Halloween and asked to display an Islamic State flag in his hospital room. Referring to Saipov’s attack the next day, in the midst of a long statement that first blamed immigration policy with no coherent argument, Trump said to reporters at a cabinet meeting:

Terrorists are constantly seeking to strike our nation, and it will require the unflinching devotion to our law enforcement, homeland security, and intelligence professionals to keep America safe….

We have to get much tougher. We have to get much smarter. And we have to get much less politically correct. We're so politically correct that we're afraid to do anything…. We also have to come up with punishment that’s far quicker and far greater than the punishment these animals are getting right now. They’ll go through court for years….

We need quick justice and we need strong justice — much quicker and much stronger than we have right now. Because what we have right now is a joke and it’s a laughingstock.

In other words, Trump is arguing for an American police state that is somehow omniscient enough to keep out immigrants who will commits crimes seven years after being admitted to the country. Saipov was an accountant came here in 2010 under a Diversity Immigrant Visa and became a permanent resident with a green card. And for anyone who doubted the police state drift of the commander in chief, there was this exchange near the end of the press event, referring to the Guantanamo prison that is an ongoing crime against humanity:

Q: Mr. President, do you want the assailant from New York sent to Gitmo?

THE PRESIDENT: I would certainly consider that, yes. Q: Are you considering that now, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: I would certainly consider that. Send him to Gitmo — I would certainly consider that, yes.

If it weren’t such an abomination of torture and legal horror, Guantanamo would be a laughingstock to the world. Instead it’s a shock to civilized countries and a great recruiting tool for Islamic extremists. Guantanamo, whether Americans like it or not, is America’s face to the world. Established in panic and fear by the Bush administration, perpetuated mostly by Congressional panic and fear by an Obama administration that didn’t care all that much, now it is a dark joke that is a fact of American life, where we keep people charged with no crime without a chance of release and let them starve themselves in protest until they’re too weak to resist force-feeding, by which we keep them alive to prolong the endless torture of hopeless, painful lives. Trump has long missed the brutal joke of Guantanamo reality while tweeting lies about how many Guantanamo detainees have returned to the field (relatively few), feeding a fake news story of long standing.

That’s not the joke and laughingstock our Trump was referring to, although it should be. But Guantanamo is a fine example of “Sentence first – verdict afterwards” jurisprudence, so Trump is willing to overlook Obama’s fingerprints all over this particular legacy. Trump’s laughingstock is the constitutionally-based American judicial system. Except that in the White House wonderland of 2017, Trump never said what the White House transcript says he said. He didn’t call the American judicial system a joke and a laughingstock. That’s what White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied on November 2:

That's not what he said. He said that process has people calling us a joke and a laughingstock.

To be fair, only her first statement is a demonstrable lie. The second statement, that people are calling us a joke and a laughingstock is actually true, just not at all in the way Sanders wants us to believe it. And the Justice Department had already charged Saipov in federal court in New York amidst widespread reports of how well the federal court system has dealt with terrorism cases, especially as compared to the dismal record of the military tribunals at Guantanamo. Even Trump seemed to acknowledge that reality when he tweeted, once again interfering in the judicial process:

Would love to send the NYC terrorist to Guantanamo but statistically that process takes much longer than going through the Federal system…

Not to leave bad enough alone, Trump tweeted four minutes later with a sentiment that out-Nixoned Nixon:

...There is also something appropriate about keeping him in the home of the horrible crime he committed. Should move fast. DEATH PENALTY!

Our Trump knows no bounds. Every time he tweets like this it’s another impeachable offense that the cowardly majority in Congress will ignore, or even follow. We know what kind of government our Trump would like us to have. He made that clear to the Washington Post:

The saddest thing is, because I am the President of the United States, I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department. I’m not supposed to be involved with the FBI. I’m not supposed to be doing the kind of things I would love to be doing. And I am very frustrated by that. I look at what’s happening with the Justice Department, why aren’t they going after Hillary Clinton with her emails and with her dossier, and the kind of money — I don’t know, is it possible that they paid $12.4 million for the dossier, which is total phony, fake, fraud and how is it used?

Our Trump wants to be emperor, perhaps not in name, but in fact. He wants no checks and balances, he wants no rational consideration, he just wants obedience. He wants to punish his enemies: “Sentence first – verdict afterwards.” He wants the kind of judiciary they already have in Guantanamo, where the presiding judge (a general) feels justified in convicting defense counsel (a higher ranking general) of contempt of court, not just for standing up for his client, but for standing up for his client’s civilian attorneys. This was the first military tribunal conviction since 2008, not of a terrorist but an American general, sentenced to 21 days in confinement. The convicted general is the chief defense counsel for military commissions and the second highest ranking general in the Marines. The general’s underlying offense was his objection to the government wiretapping attorney conversations with their clients. He was freed after three days’ confinement. The case is continuing, with Pentagon lawyers uncertain whether any of the developments so far are within the officials’ legal authority, and a federal civilian judge reluctant to hear any appeal. This would all be breathtakingly funny if it were fiction. But it’s a real world laughingstock.

There are laughingstocks everywhere. We have a government of laughingstocks. The president is a laughingstock, as is his cabinet and his veep. The Congress is a laughingstock – that’s the one truly bipartisan thing about Congress. For the moment, only the judiciary is not a complete laughingstock, although the Supreme Court is teetering toward the bad joke category. The federal judiciary continues to maintain centers of rationality, coherence, and constitutional principle. But time is against the judiciary. As Trump appointees fill more and more vacancies, we can expect to be governed by a full laughingstock. And the joke will be on us. Unless we can somehow regain our full civic size and become another Alice who tells them all: “Who cares for you? You’re nothing but a pack of cards!”



William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.


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+24 # indian weaver 2017-11-07 16:49
"For the moment, only the judiciary is not a complete laughingstock, although the Supreme Court is teetering toward the bad joke category."
I have to disagree with this statement. John Roberts, Supreme Court Justice, gave We the People of America's country, the USA, to big money's control with his "Citizens United" decision. That is the really big treason of Roberts: sold out the country to big money and to hell with the other 98% of American lives. Roberts should be indicted and executed for something, as long as he's executed legally so it makes an impact. I know. Dream on. Living in America has become incredibly depressing and "aggravating" and "frustrating". Those 2 last words are the politically correct terms for one becoming suicidal and homicidal.
 
 
+17 # WBoardman 2017-11-07 22:07
Indian weaver makes a cogent argument,
and I don't disagree.

My point was that the Supreme Court is not YET
reliably repressive. Maybe I'll be proven wrong.
 
 
+25 # wrknight 2017-11-08 10:52
Just pray that Ruth Ginsburg hangs in there. Kennedy, also, even if he is borderline. Better borderline than a Trumpist.
 
 
+18 # wrknight 2017-11-08 10:49
By federal judiciary, one usually means the entire federal court system, not just the Supreme Court. And as Boardman says, the Supreme Court is borderline as it has made a few good decisions along with some terrible ones. But there are 94 federal district courts and 13 appellate courts, some of which have blocked some of Trump's more egregious actions, and amongst them remains an amount of sanity that far exceeds that in Trumpland or the congress.
 
 
-83 # babaregi 2017-11-07 17:08
A leftist in Power is a scary thing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNbpLsX59ZQ
 
 
+24 # WBoardman 2017-11-07 22:13
The youtube link is worth watching, as it shows
Tucker Carlson at his obtuse, dishonest worst.

He doesn't even get that what the ad shows is – literally –
a bad dream.

As his guest points out, it's a bad dream shared by
millions of people for whom the Confederate flag
is a threatening symbol.

He is tone deaf here, and dishonest.

The ad IS provocative – deliberately so – but it portrays
a very true, long standing reality.

Also, fact check, Ed Gillespie did NOT have anything
very honorable to say about Charlottesville :

http://www.weeklystandard.com/fact-check-did-ed-gillespie-not-condemn-the-white-supremacist-rally-in-charlottesville/article/2010299
 
 
-23 # babaregi 2017-11-08 13:31
Quoting WBoardman:
The youtube link is worth watching, as it shows
Tucker Carlson at his obtuse, dishonest worst.

He doesn't even get that what the ad shows is – literally –
a bad dream.

As his guest points out, it's a bad dream shared by
millions of people for whom the Confederate flag
is a threatening symbol.

He is tone deaf here, and dishonest.

The ad IS provocative – deliberately so – but it portrays
a very true, long standing reality.

Also, fact check, Ed Gillespie did NOT have anything
very honorable to say about Charlottesville:

http://www.weeklystandard.com/fact-check-did-ed-gillespie-not-condemn-the-white-supremacist-rally-in-charlottesville/article/2010299



LOL, keep up the race baiting lefty!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6-2Q12Q6B8
 
 
+4 # intheEPZ 2017-11-10 12:44
Yes, Mr. Boardman, please do keep it up. Your analyses are always to the point, your analogies illuminating. You serve no master other than the truth, as you perceive it, and you provide context and sources. Best writer on RSN. Please excuse babaregi, he is not well...Thank you.
 
 
+14 # Jim Rocket 2017-11-08 00:37
So is a mentally ill person.
 
 
+13 # jsluka 2017-11-08 01:21
Troll alert! Everyone run away.
 
 
+33 # Texas Aggie 2017-11-08 08:31
Absolutely. Why the last leftist we had as president gave us Medicare, Medicaid, the Voting Rights act, the Civil Rights act, tried to reduce poverty, and a whole lot of other radical ideas. We can't have that. Why it might even result in a decent life for the nonrich. And everyone knows that the hoi polloi need to suffer. Just ask Louis XVI and George III how that turned out.
 
 
+5 # JayaVII 2017-11-09 10:59
LBJ was hardly a "leftist." He was a ruthless and morally corrupt character involved in more Texas-style electoral and financial skullduggery than one can shake a stick at, including vote theft, influence peddling (which made him a very rich man) and likely even murder of perceived enemies, committed by a staff hit man. (See http://spartacus-educational.com/JFKwallaceM.htm.) No leftist would have pursued the imperialist genocide in Vietnam the way Johnson did. But he had grown up dirt poor, and he sympathized with the downtrodden, at least of his own country. The social programs initiated by LBJ weren't just largesse from the top ... they were a response to pressure from the real Left and from increasingly radicalized and angry African Americans and other minorities. In addition, they served a powerful propaganda purpose in the Cold War context, serving to mitigate some of the glaring contradictions of this capitalist paradise. They were all good programs, but they were reformist and not revolutionary in nature -- liberal and not leftist.
 
 
+2 # Billsy 2017-11-11 14:27
LBJ was complex, deeply disturbed, insecure and dishonest, but he DID have a glimmer of conscience that led him to pass bold leftist legislation creating medicare and the 64 civil rights bill. There is no simple black & white evaluation of his administration.
 
 
+2 # ericlipps 2017-11-09 13:30
Scary to you, perhaps, especially since you seem to define "leftist" as anyone to the left of Ronald Reagan.
 
 
-4 # intheEPZ 2017-11-10 12:39
And a Mierenneuker with internet is still a Mierenneuker.
 
 
-36 # babaregi 2017-11-08 00:17
Time for you 're-branded commies' to meet one of your Daddies.

Come to Papa!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeMZGGQ0ERk&app=desktop
 
 
+26 # WBoardman 2017-11-08 12:12
babaregi shows signs of incoherence, if he believes
this stuff – or malevolence, if he doesn't. Either way, the youtube link is not worth the 9 minutes it takes to watch.
Neither it nor babaregi makes a coherent argument.

It's a 1985 – yes, 32-year-old – interview with a purported
former KGB agent who defected.

He is BORING and largely vague and general and imprecise,
except for mentioning Czechoslovakia, Bangaldesh, and
Nicaragua. Relevance to 2017 is hard to find....

Near the end of the piece he argues – this is 1985, remember – that "it's the same pattern everywhere" and that pattern has four stages: Demoralization, Destabilization , Crisis, Normalization

So wait a minute, perhaps he has something after all:

* Demoralization – the Reagan years, Iran-Contra goes
unaddressed, constitutional gov weakened

* Destabilization – the Clinton years – endless "scandal"
mongering, Gingrich "revolution," impeachment
over a blow job, "Christian" savagery

* Crisis – 9/11, "Patriot" Act, endless wars, expanded
domestic police state, wealth concentration

* Normalization – and here we are....

Just sayin'
 
 
-23 # babaregi 2017-11-08 13:33
Quoting WBoardman:
babaregi shows signs of incoherence, if he believes
this stuff – or malevolence, if he doesn't. Either way, the youtube link is not worth the 9 minutes it takes to watch.
Neither it nor babaregi makes a coherent argument.

It's a 1985 – yes, 32-year-old – interview with a purported
former KGB agent who defected.

He is BORING and largely vague and general and imprecise,
except for mentioning Czechoslovakia, Bangaldesh, and
Nicaragua. Relevance to 2017 is hard to find....

Near the end of the piece he argues – this is 1985, remember – that "it's the same pattern everywhere" and that pattern has four stages: Demoralization, Destabilization, Crisis, Normalization

So wait a minute, perhaps he has something after all:

* Demoralization – the Reagan years, Iran-Contra goes
unaddressed, constitutional gov weakened

* Destabilization – the Clinton years – endless "scandal"
mongering, Gingrich "revolution," impeachment
over a blow job, "Christian" savagery

* Crisis – 9/11, "Patriot" Act, endless wars, expanded
domestic police state, wealth concentration

* Normalization – and here we are....

Just sayin'


Yes, the truth is BORING to you!
 
 
+17 # futhark 2017-11-08 02:40
Good article from last year comparing Donald Trump to Benito Mussolini:

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/08/american-authoritarianism-under-donald-trump/495263/

The similarities of attitude and style are notable.
 
 
+14 # wrknight 2017-11-08 11:06
The word "fascist" is derived from Moussolini's Fascist Party, the symbol of which is the faces, a hatchet blade encased in a bundle of sticks bound with a leather strap.

Ergo: Trumpism = Fascism.
 
 
+3 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-11-08 06:38
I mostly agree with this -- the US government has become dysfunctional, totally corrupt, and unable to function in the benefit of the people who pay its bills. But this is nothing to laugh at. It is a tragedy. The US government's main business now is the transfer of wealth from the working class to the billionaire class. On top of that, it murders people all over the earth with its permanent wars, its special forces and mercenaries, and its policies of economic sanctions with starve people to death.

The US government is an anathema, not a laughing stock. It is a force of death and misery in the world. This is a real problem for Americans and for the whole world. The US government is so vicious and so heavily armed that there is very little any one can do. We just have to endure the violence coming out of Washington, and that is nothing to laugh about.

All US presidents since Nixon have been unsavory buffoons and puppets of the CIA. They are laughed at because they are so malignant, ill-informed, and criminal minded. Just look what a vicious mother fucker Reagan was. People laughed at him because there was nothing they could do. Reagan was impervious to a rational appeal. He was mean spirited and ignorant. Same with the rest of them. Trump is just the latest in a pattern. Obama was just as bad as Reagan.
 
 
0 # elkingo 2017-11-08 11:28
Of course this culture is on fast track to perdition. But "laughing stock"? So was Hitler. And execute Roberts summarily too? Let's all execute one another, so nobody will be a laughing stock. R-E-S-P-E-C-T: RESPECT! (Aretha Franklin)
 
 
+14 # VoxFox 2017-11-08 13:13
Trump is just another shallow bombastic despot, who only wants his own will enacted. He is like all those crazy Old Kings (Lous 14, Charles I) who see themselves as having the Divine Decree.
 
 
+3 # ericlipps 2017-11-09 13:38
Yes, but he's a shallow bombastic despot who is bringing us to the edge of nuclear war with North Korea.

And whether Kim has nuclear missiles capable of hitting the U.S. West Coast or can "only" nuke Hawaii or Guam, this is very bad news. I'd call for Trump's impeachment if I thought there was a prayer of removing him from office that way, and if the entire chain of presidential succession weren't so thoroughly toxic.
 
 
-4 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-11-09 18:52
"who is bringing us to the edge of nuclear war with North Korea."


Trump is not in charge of this. He probably did not know where N. Korea was until a few months ago. The Generals and the Deep State make these decisions. They ordered Obama and Clinton to announce the "Pivot to Asia" and begin the military build up in the Pacific. Trump is just following along and doing/saying what he is told to say.

The rulers of the US don't want a war with N. Korea. China is the real target. N. Korea is the bait. Threatening N. Korea will force China to build up its defenses and possibly destroy its economy in military spending, just as happened to the USSR in the cold war days.
 
 
+3 # John S. Browne 2017-11-08 16:16
#

So true! "Red Queen 'justice' and politics". We are so fracked if things continue in the authoritarian and totalitarian corporate-fasci st trend that they've been particularly tending the past sixteen years. Like I've said, we now have a government of many dictators, especially with the majority of Congress and the Supreme Court selling us out to increasing "draconianism" and repression. As if the "laws" of this land, particularly at the state level, and especially the civil "laws", hadn't already degenerated to a repressive level, what with so many of them having been made unconstitutiona l "law(s)" that abridge and/or abrogate the freedom of speech.

A prime example is what I and countless others are going through right now with housing and landlord-tenant "law(s)" [now that we've entered a "new (landlord) feudalism"], where people can be evicted, as I'm being right now, for no true just cause, only fraudulent claims of "cause" [including perjury on the part of the landlord(s)], and simply for exercising free speech. Someone was offended; so, "off with their head", throw them on the street (which is where I will end up if they succeed, because I'm at the mercy of subsidized housing waiting lists as a seriously physically disabled and elderly low-income man, have no place to move to, no place to go, and no one I can stay with---but the involved PTB don't give a damn; truly, fully and completely destroying me being all that they really care about).

(Continued below)
 
 
+3 # John S. Browne 2017-11-08 16:31
#

Nevermind that freedom of speech INCLUDES so-called "offensive" speech [see case LAW precedent, Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969)]. In other words, we have a free speech RIGHT to offend people. It's part of being a "check and balance" on corporate and government power(s). But most of the American people have become so apathetic, complacent and willfully-ignor ant of our civil rights and duties, that they have let countless laws abridging and/or abrogating the freedom of speech to prevail. Thus, we are "screwed and tattooed". The "injustice system" can "legally" railroad anyone in a multitude of ways, including violating our "life, liberty and property" rights by making us homeless and throwing us on the street, including elderly-disable d people. "The heck with them, 'off with their heads'."

It's not all the People's fault. They have been chemically "labotomized" with chemicals at every turn in the air, food and water. They've been dumbed-down. Now they don't fight for (their) freedom(s), liberty(ies) and rights. They just let the U.S. descend into more and more of a totalitarian nightmare. What's next in cases such as mine? After I'm put on the street, do the authorities pick me up from same, declare me a "vagrant", etc., and exterminate me for being a "useless eater"? That's what seriously appears to be coming. They don't have the proven "Nazi" concentration camps all over the country, including in Hawaii and Puerto Rico, as well as Canada, for nothing.

#
 
 
+8 # kcmwilson 2017-11-08 22:25
Most Americans think America is all about freedom. In truth, America is all about commerce. The Constitution is a document of laws, not justice or ethics or morality. Justice Kennedy was the problem with Citizens United. He lives in a bubble and is a moral and ethical person who couldn't perceive that donations to someones campaign would influence their vote or their position on issues. But the truth is that most politicians are self serving...the "self" being inclusive of the group they inhabit. They are for the most part megalomaniacs with power and ego issues that, like Trump, can only be sated by praise and back patting and ass kissing and $$$. Sad...but true...k
 
 
+6 # JayaVII 2017-11-08 22:55
What a great essay, in terms of the level of historical reference and general rhetorical ability. It is true, we must look at how others see us in order to cut through our own narcissism. As Hegel said, "World history is a court of judgment." There is little doubt what that judgment will be.

Keep it up, Mr. Boardman!
 

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