On to November, with perhaps the clearest choice ever

After the countless rallies, debates, and commercials for 22 presidential candidates, after what seems like an eternity of primaries and caucuses, we are finally down to our final choices for President of the United States. Perhaps the one thing that they can agree on is that this is the clearest choice between the Democratic and Republican candidates in the last fifty years, or perhaps forever.

The Democratic convention that concluded last night was certainly not perfect. Some of the Bernie Sanders supporters are having trouble letting go. That’s understandable. There are 102 days left for them to think about the stark choice the country now faces.

The speakers at the DNC meeting were all laser-focused on what is at stake and the line-up was superb. Not two seconds of a Ted Cruz rant. The contrast between speakers who have been national and world leaders and speakers who have been avocado growers, washed up actors, and Trump employees was stunning.

Michael Bloomberg’s speech was good, not great, but he zeroed in on what this election is all about –electing a president who is “sane and competent.”

That brings us to Donald Trump’s press conference on Wednesday, where he urged an act of espionage by an unfriendly foreign power against an American citizen. “Sane and competent?”

House Speaker Paul Ryan, again playing the role of school marm, scolded Trump. Ryan’s office put out a statement saying “Russia is a global menace led by a devious thug. Putin should stay out of this election.” Then the speaker turned away to polish up his going-nowhere House Republican agenda.

Beyond Ryan the response from the Republican elected and party officials was all pretty much the same – silence. The Republican mainstream pundits including Limbaugh, Guiliani and Gingrich, tried to laugh it all off.

Think for a moment about what those same Republican leaders would be saying now if Hillary Clinton had suggested that an unfriendly foreign power commit espionage against the United States. “Treason” would be shouted. Calls for resignation from the ticket! Based on previous comments, some Republicans’ preferred responses would be a lynching or a firing squad.

Trump’s coziness with Putin is both bizarre and disturbing. Putin undoubtedly has a few billion rubles squirrelled away somewhere for himself, so theirs is a natural kinship. More and more it seems that those hidden Trump tax returns contain some dynamite stuff, including business relationships in Russia. And then of course there is Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, working supposedly as a campaign volunteer, but previously (or is it currently?) an agent for Putin allies in foreign lands.

Richard Nixon, who made his mark by hunting down communists and debating Russian leaders about American values, must be somewhere in the netherworld rolling over in his grave. Putin’s original role in communist Russia, of course, was as part of their spy organization, the KGB.

While many in the Democratic Party are rightfully focused on the threat Trump poses to world peace, here’s one more thing for you to think about.

George Washington University Law School professor Orin Kerr, in a July 22, 2016 column in the Washington Post, notes that a President Trump would have the Department of Justice at his disposal. I might add, lapdog Chris Christie would likely be serving as Attorney General.

Kerr notes:

Trump’s Nixonian turn to law and order raises an important question: What would a Trump Justice Department look like?

It would be pretty damn frightening, I think. Trump has two long-standing passions when it comes to law and law enforcement. His first passion is the suppression of protest and dissent. And his second passion is bringing lots of legal actions against his critics and threatening many more to get his way. …

Trump was really impressed by the “vicious” and “horrible” way that the Chinese government massacred pro-democracy protesters. Trump was disturbed when the Chinese first allowed the protest and “almost blew it.” And Gorbachev’s problem was that he didn’t have “a firm enough hand.”

Recall Trump’s reaction to protests at his speeches back in February. Trump lamented that, unlike in “the old days” that he “loved,” they couldn’t beat up protesters so badly that the protesters were “carried out in a stretcher.” Trump added that he would personally like to “punch [the protester] in the face.” Trump’s convention speech suggests that a Trump presidency might bring us back to the old days he loved. It’s time to stop being so “politically correct,” Trump explained, so “the crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon come to an end. Beginning on Jan. 20th, 2017, safety will be restored.”

In Trump’s world, “political correctness” is what keeps presidents from ordering the brutality needed to show “strength” and restore “safety.” Yikes.

Trump’s second legal passion is hiring lawyers to go after his critics. Trump uses lawyers and lawsuits to silence his critics and get his way. …

Now imagine what a President Trump would do with the executive power of the United States granted to him under Article II. Under the unitary executive, President Trump would control all of federal law enforcement. He would have more than 100,000 armed law enforcement officials working for him. He would control the Justice Department and its lawyers, who would be working for him (and he wouldn’t even have to pay them). Is it any surprise that one of the main themes of Trump’s convention was that Trump’s opponent should be indicted, a power that the Constitution would give to Trump to seek if he is elected?

Of course, many in the Justice Department and in federal law enforcement would try to stop Trump or at least to slow him down. FBI Director James Comey surely recognizes Trump’s threat to the rule of law. Many career lawyers at the Justice Department would rebel….

In short, if you aren’t scared, you aren’t paying attention. A fascist thug has won the GOP nomination and now has a very good shot of becoming president of the United States. And he hasn’t run in sheep’s clothing. As Justice Antonin Scalia would say, this wolf comes as a wolf.

There is a lot at stake. Think about it!