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It’s hard not to be obsessed with politic at the moment; it is all-consuming, it is everywhere.

I have argued over the Consitution with Trump cultists here many times and they appear to obsess over it. The drool over their own justification of the document. When it is convenient. When it is less convenient, they don’t really care for it, or at the very least, they implicitly admit to my arguments by seeing it as a document that is a result of the conceptual machinations of humans that is unable to arbitrate when supposedly natural rights compete against others in direct conflict.

Certain Trump cultists at this blog and elsewhere appear to be adhering to the Trump admission that if he as to shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, they would still vote for him. Now we have Trump metaphorically ripping up the Constitution and they are apparently being fine with this.

I don’t want to get into the details of the looting and riots here – it’s a right hot mess, where there is now evidence that Russia is involved, white supremacists and other provocateurs are playing their part, and there have even been black flag operatives, as well as radical leftists and Antifa making it all very difficult to unpick. Personally, I think it is complicated, and not as simplistic as some fervent Trumpistas would have you believe (it’s them blacks and Antifa wot did it, end of).

Let’s park that discussion (do your own googling) and talk Constitution. Bert was right to bring up Mattis’s absolute excoriation of Trump yesterday, where the General whom Trump heaped lavish praise on during countless rallies has come back to haunt him:

Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.

But perhaps the key part was this:

When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens—much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.

It’s not just Mattis. Two former Joint Chiefs of Staff have also criticised Trump’s threat to use the military in overruling Governors:

Gen. Martin Dempsey, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote on Twitter that “America is not a battleground. Our fellow citizens are not the enemy.”

And Gen. Tony Thomas, the former head of the Special Operations Command, tweeted: “The ‘battle space’ of America??? Not what America needs to hear … ever, unless we are invaded by an adversary or experience a constitutional failure … ie a Civil War.”

For the past three years, U.S. military officials have expressed private concerns that Trump does not understand either his role as commander in chief or the role of the military that is sworn to protect the Constitution from all enemies.

To make matters worse, the present Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, head of the Pentagon, has also publicly rebuked the President:

“The option to use active-duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort and only in the most urgent and dire of situations. We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act now,” Esper said at a news conference. Esper also said, “I do everything I can to stay apolitical.”…

“I did know that following the president’s remarks on Monday evening that many of us were going to join President Trump and review damage at Lafayette Park and at St. John’s Episcopal Church,” Esper told reporters. “What I was not aware of was exactly where we were going when we arrived at the church, and what the plans were once we got there.”

“There’s a political tone to this,” Esper acknowledged. “This is a challenge for every Department of Defense during an election year.” In a memo sent to Pentagon civilians and military members on Tuesday night, he called on the agency “to stay apolitical in these turbulent days,” amid concerns that Trump is leveraging a possible military deployment to quell protests and appeal to his voter base ahead of the November election.

James Miller, former undersecretary of defense for policy and Pentagon Science Board member, has also piled on in a resignation letter to Esper:

When I joined the Board in early 2014, after leaving government service as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, I again swore an oath of office, one familiar to you, that includes the commitment to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States . . . and to bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”

You recited that same oath on July 23, 2019, when you were sworn in as Secretary of Defense. On Monday, June 1, 2020, I believe that you violated that oath. Law-abiding protesters just outside the White House were dispersed using tear gas and rubber bullets — not for the sake of safety, but to clear a path for a presidential photo op. You then accompanied President Trump in walking from the White House to St. John’s Episcopal Church for that photo.

President Trump’s actions Monday night violated his oath to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” as well as the First Amendment “right of the people peaceably to assemble.” You may not have been able to stop President Trump from directing this appalling use of force, but you could have chosen to oppose it. Instead, you visibly supported it.

Anyone who takes the oath of office must decide where he or she will draw the line: What are the things that they will refuse to do? Secretary Esper, you have served honorably for many years, in active and reserve military duty, as Secretary of the Army, and now as Secretary of Defense. You must have thought long and hard about where that line should be drawn. I must now ask: If last night’s blatant violations do not cross the line for you, what will?

Miller ended the letter by saying, “I wish you the best, in very difficult times. The sanctity of the U.S. Constitution, and the lives of Americans, may depend on your choices.”

Wow. Everyone is referring to the desecration of the Consitution as they attack Trump.

This is from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

This could be the undoing of Trump… As my friend who was once enlisted says: ‘I always liked that about the Oath of Enlistment. You swear, above all, to defend the US Constitution from enemies “foreign and domestic”. Not the president. Not the country. Not the military. The Constitution.’

The Constitution was arguably trampled on in three different ways during that photo op. FiveThirtyEight lays out the issues:

It was essentially a three-part violation. In being generally unsupportive of the protests against the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers, Trump is in tension with a core democratic value — America taking additional steps to ensure people are treated equally, no matter their race. Trump’s decision to break up the protest then subverted one of America’s core democratic values, the right to peacefully protest. Finally, by involving the National Guard and senior military officials in the action against the protesters, Trump also disregarded the democratic value that the military and police not be used for political purposes.

It goes on to expand (read the whole piece as I have cut pieces out for the sake expediency):

Expanding racial equality

…So Trump’s reluctance to embrace these protesters suggests he is not particularly interested in policies that seek to address past or current discrimation against black Americans.

That’s nothing new for Trump — as we have written before, he seems to practice a kind of white identity politics where he does not do a ton to reach out to black or Latino Americans….

The right to peacefully protest

The right to assemble and protest peacefully is protected in the First Amendment to the Constitution. And normally, both Democrats and Republicans support this democratic value — at least in the abstract. After all, American history is full of protests, from the civil rights movement to the creation of the tea party, and these movements are usually celebrated looking back, even if they were unpopular at the time.

“There is a fundamental — a Constitutional — right to protest, and I’m against clearing out a peaceful protest for a photo op that treats the Word of God as a political prop,” said Sen. Ben Sasse, in a rare rebuke of Trump from an elected official in his own party.

The fact that Trump was trying to end the protests at all was problematic. But the way he and his team chose to do so — by having law enforcement officials fire tear gas at protesters — made the situation even worse. It was one of the most aggressive ways possible to end the protests, and it potentially established a way to limit them in the future, if people are scared they will be injured or killed if they protest….

But two things distinguish Trump’s action from those mayors’. First, the people in D.C. were not in violation of the city’s 7 p.m. curfew — the tear gas was used about 20 minutes before the curfew went into effect, and it seems to have been used for no other purpose than to clear the protesters out of Trump’s walking path.1 Second, the president of the U.S. allowing the use of tear gas on civilians protesting peacefully is simply a bigger deal than a mayor or governor doing it. The fact that Trump has used tear gas on protesters could lead to its use by more officials, too.

This is another instance, though, where norms and democratic values have not always aligned. While the First Amendment protects the right of people to freely assemble and petition the government for the redress of grievances, government interference with this right is not uncommon. But the escalation we saw from the White House on Monday is.

Police and the military not being aligned with one political side

It’s not just that the president’s actions violated the right of people to protest, either. How he did this — by using law enforcement officials — matters too. Democracy scholars believe that the police and military must avoid being tied to any one political party or leader, and instead must view themselves as defending the broader public, following laws and rules no matter which party is in charge. Being apolitical has been a long-standing tradition of the U.S. military in particular.

But during Trump’s presidency, the idea that our police and military are separate from partisan politics has appeared increasingly strained. For instance, the national Fraternal Order of Police and other law enforcement groups were strongly behind Trump during his 2016 campaign. And the Minneapolis police force recently faced pushback over its policy of preventing officers from attending Trump rallies in uniform. The president has even gone as far as to refer to military officers as “my generals.” And on Monday, the nation’s highest-ranking military officer, Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley, was on site at the White House before the tear gas was fired at the protesters.

But Trump thinks that “I have an Article II where I have the right to do whatever I want as president”: he is Dictator-in-Chief. He compares himself to Abraham Lincoln and his Press Secretary compares him to Churchill whilst Mattis compares him to Hitler.

You can add to that a freedom of religion claim, as you can see from the video below.

It is well worth watching LegalEagle from this point forward in his moving video:

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He opines that the vocal Second Amendment supporters who were everywhere with their guns a few weeks ago, using the excuse of needing them to fight a tyrannical government, and then one comes along which tramples on the First Amendment rights of its citizens, and then seeks to mobilise the military to enforce this trampling, and they remain silent. They lock themselves indoors, stroking their hardware instead of putting their money where their mouths are. Why?

Because the Second Amendment is an excuse. They want guns to intimidate people. It is no surprise when the Black Panthers threatened to carry guns that these same people spat their dummies. Heck, even the NRA argued for gun control. Good guys with guns don’t include black guys with guns.

It’s all so obvious and transparent. they don’t care about the Consitution. Few Trump supporters do. They may say they do… They embrace trump’s anti-media outbursts at his rallies, his demands for press regulation. They stay at home after over 200 instances of violations against the press have taken place over the last week or so. They remain silent when Trump politicized the use of the military in overruling Governors. They gaze at their shoes when people whom Trump has previously heralded have turned and rounded on the President. Everyone else must be wrong; Trump must be the be-all and end-all. He’s certainly looking to be the end-all. Viva la cognitive dissonance, I guess.

“Your fantasy of being a good guy with a gun fighting a tyrannical government is just that – a fantasy”.


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Jonathan MS Pearce

A TIPPLING PHILOSOPHER Jonathan MS Pearce is a philosopher, author, columnist, and public speaker with an interest in writing about almost anything, from skepticism to science, politics, and morality,...