The Spanish Civil War took place between 1936 and 1939. During the siege of Madrid by four columns of Nationalist forces, one of the leaders in that conflict, General Emilio Mola, told a journalist that a “fifth column” of supporters within the city would support the Nationalist cause and seek to undermine the Republican government from within. Thus was coined the phrase “fifth column.” Now, like a teeming colony of ants, we can see a fifth column in America hard at work in an attempt to undermine the rule of law and replace our constitutional republic with an autocracy. Included in this conspiracy of subversion are a law professor, a drain-the-swamp president, Fox News and members of the Congress of the United States.
The rule of law is a hallmark of free societies. Representatives of the people pass laws, which, in part, are codified into criminal code. Upon complaint, investigators, such as rank-and-file citizens in the Federal Bureau of Investigation, investigate complaints and turn the facts found over to prosecutors. Prosecutors, and sometimes grand juries, review the gathered facts and make a decision whether to indict or exonerate. A citizen charged under a bill of indictment receives full panoply of defense rights under the Fifth Amendment, and a right to a trial by an impartial jury of peers as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment. An unbiased judge conducts the trial, and among other duties, is charged with removing prejudicial evidence. Thus, even though an investigator indulges in what may seem like prejudicial bias, the gatekeeper judge will remove all bias from relevant facts and present a clear case to the jury. Upon conclusion of a trial, a convicted defendant has a right of appeal.
It should first be noted that under our Constitution, the rule of law is equally binding on the governing leader as well as the governed citizenry. As James Madison wrote in Federalist 57:
“If the American people shall ever be so far debased as to tolerate a law not obligatory on the legislature, as well as the people, the people will be prepared to tolerate anything but liberty.”
As a country, we are now far past the point of caution raised by Madison, and deep into a full-scale assault on the rule of law. Donald Trump and his “BIG nuclear button” is a clear and present danger to all of humanity. Almost as dangerous as Trump are those who attempt to legitimize his authoritarian tendencies. Such a man is Alan Dershowitz.
Dershowitz, a renowned defense attorney and professor emeritus at Harvard Law School is now on the outside of the legal profession looking in after making the nonsensical claim that Donald Trump “could not be charged with obstruction of justice for exercising his constitutional power to fire former FBI Director Jim Comey and his constitutional authority to tell the Justice Department who to investigate and who not to investigate.” The most ignorant of laypersons understands quite well that even when one has the authority to fire, such as a supervisor in an “employment at will” state, if that supervisor fires a person for being black, he has broken the law. Likewise, if the President fires the FBI Director to end an investigation (as Trump admitted to Lester Holt), he has corruptly obstructed justice and broken the law. The second part of Dershowitz’s claim is a practice that only takes place in banana republics, and is hardly worthy of mention. However, Dershowitz’s theory has been roundly condemned and critiqued by a number of legal scholars, most thoroughly in an article by scholars Daniel J. Hemel and Eric A. Posner.
New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt, much to the chagrin of White House staffers, obtained an interview with Donald Trump in the grillroom at Trump’s Mar-A-Lago Resort during the Christmas break. In the recorded session, shortly after heaping plaudits upon Dershowitz, Trump stated: “I have the absolute right to do what I want with the Justice Department.” That claim should curdle the blood of freedom loving people everywhere.
Intelligence agencies inform us that we are living in a time where Russians have penetrated and affected the outcome of our elections. Donald Trump both ignores this fact, and furthermore fails to initiate the corrective action for which he is duty bound. There is a reason for this malfeasance (treason in the eyes of many). Dating back to 1984, Donald Trump has been laundering ill-gotten Russian money through his condominium properties.
Most people live in one home, and some have a second vacation property. Thus, for honest people the sirens like those sounding a seven-alarm fire would be set off when an itinerant Russian offers to purchase five condominiums in one building; but not Donald Trump. He took the money when David Bogatin (who was reported to have assisted North Vietnamese in shooting down American pilots over Hanoi during the Vietnam War) made such an offer. This and other matters were revealed by investigative reporter Craig Unger in a September 2017 edition of New Republic Magazine article entitled “Trump’s Russian Laundromat.”
A clandestinely exposed tax return for the year 1995 reveals that Trump mismanaged three Atlantic City casinos, lost money on an airline venture, and lost even more through the ill-timed purchase of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. The sum of his misadventures totaled 916 million dollars. At that time, his business empire was under water and he was insolvent. However, he had at his disposal a carryover tax credit relevant to the reported massive loss for each of the next eighteen years, which in effect amounted to an annual grant of nearly 50 million dollars from the public treasury—all of which added up as an expense to the American taxpayer. But he could play the American taxpayers for suckers only if he continued in business. Trump is a deadbeat who simply did not pay his bills, and often sued contractors to get out of paying for services performed. Consequently, U.S. lenders would not touch his loan requests, so Trump went to foreign branches of Deutsche Bank (Cypress) and other known fronts for Russian mobsters to satisfy his financial necessities. The Russia source of financing has been admitted by both of Trump’s sons (“Most of our money comes from Russians”).
Fox News is a media outlet with perhaps a couple of honest and reputable reporters. For the most part, however, the organization is a propaganda mill modeled after ITAR-TASS (Information Telegraph Agency of Russia), the official Russian state central information distributor and newspaper. Pulitzer Prize-winning website Politifact declared that nearly 60 per cent of the statements it checked on Fox News were either mostly or entirely false. Another 19 per cent were only half-true. The leaders in this “fake news” cavalcade of dishonesty are conspiracy theorist Sean Hannity and soap opera judge Jeanine Pirro.
There are two variations of the conspiracy theorist. The first, like Alex Jones, who claims the Sandyhook massacre was staged by the government, suffers from paranoid delusion disorder (PDD).The politics of Jones and his band of some three million followers can be summed up by most psychiatrists as paranoia-tinged diatribe. The second type of conspirator, however, operates from a sound mind. Hannity, in a cold and calculating manner, delivers bald-faced lies to his gullible audience of old white people in wheelchairs and walkers. Indeed, if you are white, you dare not go to your grandparent’s house and say anything even slightly negative about the man who falsely claimed that Democrats were running a pedophilia ring out of a Washington, D.C. pizzeria, or the likewise false claim that DNC staffer Seth Rich was murdered for releasing Clinton emails.
Pirro, a former judge deluded by fantasy, used her bully pulpit to make wildly false and destructive accusations against every enforcer and prosecutor of law she could locate within the Federal Bureau of Investigation: “Take them out in handcuffs,” she urged. As Pirro knows from her judicial experience, none of these FBI employees are perfect, but they generally follow facts to a proper conclusion, and when they do not, they are proper subjects for punishment.
Next comes subversive activities by United States Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), both of whom have requested a criminal referral of perjury against Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled the now infamous “dossier.”
Donald Trump has made no secret of his unfitness for office: he demonstrates as much on a daily basis through tweets and pathological lies. Graham at one time was critical of the President when appropriate, but following a golf outing with Trump now appears to be “all in” on the Trump agenda (“Law is what I say it is”), and damn the means by which that agenda is attained. It may be that Trump demonstrated his golf course mastery and tutored Graham on the finer points of using a “foot-wedge,” and now, Graham will be eternally grateful.
The Grassley matter is altogether different. Grassley, the Senate Judiciary Chairman, has been on a mission to trash Steele’s dossier, presumably to protect Trump. The criminal referral authored by Grassley and Graham follows other efforts that indicate the Republican controlled panel is playing tribal politics, rather than attempting to prevent another Russian incursion into American elections. Indeed, one Democratic source called it an “effort to deflect attention” from the Trump-Russia probe.
There has indeed been a major effort on the part of Republicans to trash the Steele dossier, believing that the dossier was the genesis of the FBI investigation, and further, that the entire Russia issue would fade away once this feat was accomplished. A large hole was blown in that theory when a New York Times article revealed that the FBI investigation began after an Australian diplomat reported to the agency that Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, during a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar, revealed that Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Florida GOP Congressman Francis Rooney wants the FBI and Department of Justice “purged” of officials he says are politically biased against President Trump. A political purge, of course, is one of the more effective tools in keeping a dictatorship free of popular dissent.
It appears that a classic fifth column, an infiltration of malign elements, is presently occurring in the United States House of Representatives. Along with the judiciary, Congress was intended by the framers to be a check on abusive power grabs by the Executive Branch. Nevertheless, subversives Devin Nunes (R-Ca) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), both in open hearings, and behind the scenes with a secret committee, are attempting to undermine the rule of law and a legitimate investigation headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. It could not be clearer that Nunes (who was also a member of the Trump transition team) has abdicated his House responsibility through his frequent trips to the White House to rat out the results of the House probe. While Special Counsel Robert Mueller has already proven the validity of his appointment by securing indictments and guilty pleas, nevertheless, these two wayward House members continue in their attempts to destroy Mueller’s credibility and end the continuing investigation into Russia’s interference in the last presidential election.
Finally, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson created quite a stir within the Beltway media when he referred to his boss as a “moron.” Here, it is useful to relate that Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956), also known as the “Sage of Baltimore,” was regarded as one of the most influential American writers in the early twentieth century. Mencken, seemingly prescient, once stated:
“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”
Now we have confirmation that both Tillerson and Mencken were correct through reviewing the recent bombshell release of “Fire and Fury” by Michael Wolf. This book put into printed word what had previously traveled through whispers in the West Wing and the halls of Congress: that one hundred percent of the people in the upper echelon administration of Donald Trump considered the president entirely unfit for the position he holds.
Everyone―right, left, moderate, independent, even the politically indifferent―is missing the big picture. We live in a society in decline; the lights are dimming, and will eventually be extinguished. Nonetheless, there are people who no longer believe in that country born upon a Declaration of Independence and nurtured by a Constitution; they prefer a dictatorship. They could care less about the boys who never had a chance to become men: those who sat next to us in class, lived around the corner and played on the same football team, but lost their lives defending freedom’s frontier in the jungles of Southeast Asia, while those of us lucky enough to come home from that ill-fated war had to endure being spat upon by hippies in airports.
If their fascist agenda is successful, the aforementioned subversives will be patriots in a new autocracy. With much fanfare, those of us who still love the government of our founding fathers will be deemed traitors.
Truman Goodspeed, January 2018