Life in a “banana republic.”
A "coup" waged by cuckoos
Many people claim to have chutzpah, but the very notion of the word has to be reconsidered in light of the recent…
Many people claim to have chutzpah, but the very notion of the word has to be reconsidered in light of the recent actions of convicted liar and disgraced former National Security Advisor Lt. General Michael Flynn. Keep in mind that this is the man who lied to the FBI regarding his dealings with the Russians back in 2016, and needed a pardon by the outgoing president, and interference by the Justice Department to avoid jail time. You may also recall Flynn as the man who called for Hillary Clinton to be locked up with no proof or evidence of wrongdoing while he was up to all sorts of illegal shenanigans. However, now that he has been freshly pardoned by “Orange” Mussolini, he believes that this would be a good time for Trump to suspend the Constitution, and put aside the legal and certified results of the presidential election of 2020 so he can claim power for what would appear to be an indeterminate amount of time. Certainly, this convicted liar appears to have learned little. He has gone from liar to Fascist revolutionary in the blink of an eye, and millions of Trump supporters of course agree because putting aside the results of an election is a thing we do apparently.
For those who’ve forgotten, it was Special Counsel Robert Mueller, (A man who I’m assuming loses a lot of socks considering the investigative skills he demonstrated during his time as Special Counsel), who investigated Flynn in the Russia probe, and who quickly received a guilty plea from the very short-lived National Security Advisor. Flynn appeared contrite and even remorseful over his behavior regarding his lies to Vice President Mike Pence over his dealings with the Russians back in 2016. Flynn’s guilty plea came in exchange for helping the Special Prosecutor, and based on how little was accomplished, and how little was changed as a result of Mueller’s investigation, it should come as no surprise that he was being aided by Flynn, one of Trump’s first well-known supporters. Trump pardoned Flynn in November of 2020 (Has anybody noticed how many people who work for Donald Trump end up having to be pardoned due to their proven criminal, unethical, and immoral behavior? Coincidence?), and now Flynn has joined the chorus of those who would like to see either through legal or illegal means, the 2020 presidential election overturned.
Oh Mike, you can’t hide those convicted lyin’ eyes. (New York Times)
Flynn is hardly alone in his eagerness to see the votes of 80 million Americans cast aside. Despite having no proof, no substantive argument, and no facts to prove their case, there are a chorus of people in this country who simply will not accept the outcome of this past November’s election, and getting the result overturned, regardless of how this is accomplished is all that matters. Regardless of whether it is constitutional or not, these “electoral deniers” simply believe that when it comes to Donald Trump’s presidency being preserved, the end justifies the means. Take Michael Flynn…please. Just days after being pardoned by the outgoing president, Flynn retweeted a call from a Fascistic right-wing group called, “We the People Convention,” which has called on President Trump to declare “limited martial law,” (Kind of like being a little pregnant) and have the military (Is there anything right-wing nut-jobs don’t think is appropriate for our military to do?) supervise a re-vote, or in other words a do over, except this time Trump gets to win. Everybody okay with this? I mean, what could be more democratic than voting with an armed battalion watching your every step in order to overturn a legally certified election result?
If I were to tell you that somebody in another country, any country had hatched a plan like this, what would your reaction have been?
- What a sound and bedrock solid democracy that must be, they really are a credit to Jeffersonian-style government and elections.
- What kind of absurd “banana republic” runs their elections like that? This sounds like how elections worked in the fictional nation of San Marcos, which Wood Allen invented for his brilliant political satire, Bananas. I’m sure glad I don’t live in a $#it-hole country like that.
If you answered number two, then congratulations, you might just still deserve the republic that Benjamin Franklin and others promised us over 220 years ago. Sadly, there’s many millions of Americans who would have little difficulty getting behind the nonsense being proposed by We the People Convention and the disgraced ex-National Security Advisor, Michael “lock myself up?” Flynn. Coup d’etat is the new black apparently in the United States.
Look, if we’re going to agree that the best way forward is to turn America into a “banana republic,” then let’s do it right. Whoever the next president is, he or she has to wear a green army jacket, an army hat, and a very long beard. This will appeal to Socialists, Communists, hipsters, and the “incels” who inhabit the right-wing blogosphere. (Getty Images)
As awful as all of this hopefully sounds to you, sadly, it’s not without precedent. In our history as a nation, we have withstood several attempts at overthrowing the will of the American people, and so far, democracy has held its ground. However, as we have observed over the past four years, our institutions may not have broken, but they have bent considerably. In other words, we must always be alert for the next militia or para-military group that seeks to use violence to overthrow, for better or worse what democracy has given us. For example, there is the curious case of Aaron Burr. Burr, who broke hearts as well as spinal chords in the fabulous historical Broadway musical, Hamilton, is probably best known for killing the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton. However, Burr had broader designs when it came to governance.
Burr ran in 1800 as Thomas Jefferson’s running mate. However, in the infancy of our Constitution, there were some mistakes and irregularities discovered in its working parts. The Constitution was unclear about how electoral votes would be tabulated regarding those running for the presidency and those who were ostensibly serving as the running mate. While Thomas Jefferson defeated John Adams, the sitting president, Burr saw an opportunity through the vague wording of the Constitution to take advantage of this incomplete plan of government. Burr attempted to claim the presidency, and it was left up to the House of Representatives to break the tie. Since Burr and Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican party was split on the two men, it was left to the defeated Federalist party to break the tie. Since both men were loathed by the soon-to-be-extinct Federalists, a “Sophie’s Choice” lay before the party. Enter Alexander Hamilton who famously said that while he disagreed with Jefferson about pretty much everything, he believed him to have the nation’s best interests at heart. Hamilton was far more suspicious of Burr who he considered an opportunist who stood for nothing except himself. This of course began a four-year grudge match between the two culminating in Burr’s murder of Hamilton.
Geez, you shoot one former Secretary of the Treasury and try to illegally seize power over a nation and everybody thinks you’re a dick. (Getty Images)
While attempting to steal the presidency and murdering the former Secretary of the Treasury and architect of America’s economy might seem like enough treachery for one lifetime, Burr would court trouble once again. On orders from President Thomas Jefferson in 1808, Burr was arrested for treason of all things. Depending on who you wish to believe, Burr was either trying to annex Mexico, acquire land in the newly purchased southwestern portion of the United States or all of North America. He had also apparently raised an army of sorts in order to put his plan into action, but their numbers again according to who you wish to believe ranged somewhere between 40 and approximately 7000. Burr was acquitted over lack of evidence, but his reputation hasn’t fared nearly as well. While his name didn’t become a noun or an adjective like “Benedict Arnold,” you should feel free anytime you observe somebody attempting to steal the presidency, annex a foreign territory, or shoot somebody in a duel who had obviously no intention of shooting you, as performing a “Burr.” For example: “Trump is trying to Burr the election from Biden.
While the United States may not have the rich history of coup d’etats as so many other countries have experienced over the past few centuries, our early history did feature several attempts at armed insurrection. For example, in 1786, farmer and Revolutionary War veteran Daniel Shays attempted to seize weapons from a nearby armory in Massachusetts in frustration over the fact that he and many veterans of the war were now in debt under the shaky gov’t of the Articles of Confederation. Shays and others were frustrated over the idea that despite their sacrifice, they could still end up in debtors prison due to their inability to pay off their debts. Wealthy landowners however stepped in and paid people to form a militia to put down Shays’ attempted coup against the prepubescent American states.
Even George Washington wasn’t immune to threats of popular uprising. The infamous “Whiskey Rebellion” of 1794 over the federal government’s tax on whiskey prompted Pennsylvania grain farmers to take up arms against the government of the United States. This time however, the young country actually had an army, and the government did not hesitate to demonstrate its muscle. Led by Alexander Hamilton, and George Washington himself, the rag-tag army of disgruntled farmers essentially fled as soon as they saw the American army assembled against them, led by no one less than the “Father of the Country.” Not only was the Whiskey Rebellion put down swiftly, the decisive actions taken by Hamilton and Washington left little doubt that the United States’ government established by its new constitution was not to be trifled with. It also has to have marked the only time in American history that a sitting American president has led his own troops into battle against American citizens. (It should be noted however that Andrew Jackson did threaten and would have gleefully carried out his threat to go down to South Carolina and hang John C. Calhoun and every other traitor in the state.)
Since the time of Shays’ Rebellion and the Whiskey Rebellion, rural Americans seem to feel that whenever they’re made unhappy by governmental action, they have every right to forge revolution and violent civil disobedience. These handsome sons of Michigan were frustrated by Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s orders during the pandemic that sought to keep the corona virus in check, so they allegedly attempted to kidnap the governor. I wonder who they voted for in 2020? (New York Times)
In fairness, not every plot to take down our legally elected leaders is born of rural frustration. In 1933, newly elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt almost saw his time in the White House cut violently short by a scheme known to very few Americans. The so-called “Business Plot” never really gained any mojo, and Roosevelt ended up being our only president to be elected to four terms in office, but things could have gone off the rails had the “Business Plot” succeeded. While some have cast doubt upon the validity of this very hair-brained scheme, Marine Major-General Smedley Butler claimed that a group of conservative businessmen approached him and asked him to organize a veteran’s army, surround the White House with tanks, and force Roosevelt out before he turned the United States into a socialist wasteland. (As opposed to the Capitalist wasteland that it had become during the Great Depression).
The businessmen allegedly told Butler that they wanted him to seize power and take over as president. Butler told them that he would get back to them, but instead turned the information over to the Federal government. There was a congressional hearing, and several major newspapers reported on the alleged plot, most of them dismissing it as a hoax. Still, the idea of the military usurping our free elections as opposed to protecting them is a fear that must have been a concern to the “founding fathers” who spelled out in language as clear as day that the President of the United States, a duly elected civilian and representative of the people, would serve as Commander-in-Chief of the United States’ military, and not an active member of the military. Even the second in command of the military, the Secretary of Defense, is supposed to be retired or resigned from the military for at least seven years. Of course, the “founding fathers” never counted on Donald Trump.
Marine Major-General Smedley Butler might have been our 33rd president had he followed through on the alleged plot to overthrow FDR. Of course, most dismissed the plot as a hoax, and considering that Butler was retired, had voted for FDR, and was traveling around the country giving speeches that blamed Capitalism for the nation’s economic woes, he seemed like an odd choice to represent the wishes of the conservative business-types that lived in fear of Roosevelt’s socialist dystopia as they saw it. (Getty Images)
Now in 2020, it is soon-to-be ex-President Donald Trump trying to upend the results of the election that will end his train-wreck of a presidency. Apparently nothing is off the table. Incredibly, despite having lost close to 50 legal challenges to upend the 2020 election, outgoing President Donald Trump continues to wage a war of disruption and disunion against the now nearly certified victory of President-elect Joe Biden. Trump has sent his personal lawyer, and one-man fart-box, Rudolph Giuliani around the country with what has to has to be the worst collection of legal minds ever assembled in order to somehow use the law to create enough doubt in the results to change the outcome despite lacking completely in the type of merit or evidence that would help him win favor in the courts. Considering that the legal exercise that they are endeavoring to accomplish is to overturn a presidential election, merit and evidence would probably be helpful. For Giuliani, a man who at least used to garner some respect in some circles, his performance has been so bad, and his case so thin, he has literally sweated out his hair dye, when he wasn’t leaking methane in the middle of a hearing. Of course he can at least lay claim to have spread COVID-19 to his legal team, which is something I suppose.
Trump’s last great hope for an election coup is nested in the idea that the Supreme Court, consisting of a 6–3 conservative majority, and situated with three judges appointed by Trump himself, would provide him with the last second legal victories he would need to overthrow the vote in swing-states such as Pennsylvania and Georgia. However the Court has already dismissed Trump’s claim in Pennsylvania and it would now appear that Rudy Giuliani has a better chance of growing his hair back then Trump winning anything of any value in the federal court system. At some point, although it won’t be done quietly, or with even a shred of dignity, Trump and his criminal family and all of his sycophants will leave the stage, and hopefully some sense of normalcy will return. Until then, it will be a bumpy ride, and don’t be surprised if Trump, like the coup leader in Woody Allen’s satirical gem Bananas announces to the crowd upon taking power, “From now on underwear will be worn on the outside!” If Aaron Burr had known that he would have been throw in historically with the likes of Donald Trump, Michael Flynn, and Rudy “fart-blossom” Giuliani, he might have begged Hamilton to shoot a little straighter.