Sunday, May 06, 2018

Add One To The List

On Friday's Real Time, Bill Maher returned to his "List of things you do when you're a  dictator."  When it was first revealed, President Trump was doing seven. When he repeated the list, Trump was doing eight.  Now, he notes, "House Republicans are going to fund the military parade. So we're up to nine."

The other eight are

-you're a narcissist who likes putting his name and face on buildings;
-you appoint family members to positions of power;
-your rallies are scary;
-you hate the press;
-you want to hold military parades;
-you use your office for your own financial gain;
-you align yourself with dictators and strongmen;
-you claim minorities are the cause of the country's problems;
-you lie freely

Maher maintains the last is "you dress in a military costume. Let's see."

Critics may scoff at the idea of  a military parade but as Ed Kilgore points out, the "gaudy spectacle"

might even impress the president’s friends and rivals in Moscow, or at least those of them old enough to remember those big May Day parades in Red Square, which will be echoed this year in a slightly modified form as Russia celebrates the anniversary of victory in Stalin’s Great Patriotic War (World War II) on May 9. Military parades are also a big deal in North Korea.

Those who scoff at Maher's list might note that there currently is no national secret police, nor anything similar. Oh, wait:

Aides to Donald Trump, the US president, hired an Israeli private intelligence agency to orchestrate a “dirty ops” campaign against key individuals from the Obama administration who helped negotiate the Iran nuclear deal, the Observer can reveal.

People in the Trump camp contacted private investigators in May last year to “get dirt” on Ben Rhodes, who had been one of Barack Obama’s top national security advisers, and Colin Kahl, deputy assistant to Obama, as part of an elaborate attempt to discredit the deal.

The extraordinary revelations come days before Trump’s 12 May deadline to either scrap or continue to abide by the international deal limiting Iran’s nuclear programme.

Jack Straw, who as foreign secretary was involved in earlier efforts to restrict Iranian weapons, said: “These are extraordinary and appalling allegations but which also illustrate a high level of desperation by Trump and [the Israeli prime minister] Benjamin Netanyahu, not so much to discredit the deal but to undermine those around it.”

But we shouldn't get caught up in the effort to undermine the Iranian deal, which would hasten Iran's development of a nuclear capability, to neglect to notice that Rhodes and Kahl were at the time (and currently) private citizens. The President of the United States of America has contracted with a private force to spy on American citizens.  

This is during the first Trump administration, when continuation of his presidency is at peril, most of  his moves recognized and evaluated in a largely free society. If the President is re-elected, it probably will be following a victory in the popular vote, in which Trump's claims to a mandate will have added credibility. Then, he may find it unnecessary to contract out the work, preferring his own private police force or perhaps law enforcement to do the work for him.

Nine out of ten, Maher claims. Make that ten out of eleven.

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