Monday, November 28, 2016

"Justice Has No Expiration Date": The Continued Wrongful Imprisonment of Chris Tapp

Scenes from the Tapp hearing: Bonneville County DA Clark (left), ADA Dewey, Public Defender Thomas.

There were about twenty people gathered in an Idaho Falls courtroom on November 22 for
a hearing about Christopher Tapp’s appeal for post-conviction relief. That Tapp is serving a life sentence for a murder he didn’t commit was known by everyone in that room. Two of them, Bonneville County Prosecuting Attorney Daniel Clark and deputy Prosecutor John Dewey, were there in an attempt to convince Judge Alan Stephens that the truth didn’t matter, and that justice must be subordinated to “process.”

Judge Stephens’s proper role, Dewey argued, was to act as a “gatekeeper,” rather than to permit a critical examination of a conviction that an official report commissioned by the prosecutor’s office has now acknowledged is entirely the product of a spurious confession. Nationally accredited experts on police interrogation have likewise concluded that Tapp’s confession was achieved through tactics that were tantamount to psychological torture.
A few weeks ago, Judge Stephens ruled that Tapp’s appeal could proceed because of evidence that the prosecution had withheld videotaped polygraph examinations in which IFPD Detective Stephen Finn manipulated Tapp into a false confession. Finn had convinced Tapp that the polygraph machine was something akin to a comprehensive archive of objective facts about the July 1996 murder of 18-year-old Angie Dodge. Those “facts” comported with whatever theory of the case was in favor with the IFPD at any given time. 

The initial theory was that a friend of Tapp’s, a young man named Ben Hobbs who had been arrested in Ely, Nevada for rape, was the murderer. Tapp and another friend named Jeremy Sargis were identified as potential witnesses. Along with Hobbs, each of them gave DNA samples to the police. Sargis was the son of a wealthy and influential family who could afford competent legal representation – which is why he resolutely refused to speak with the police after his DNA sample cleared him as a suspect.
Chris and Verna Tapp.
Tapp, a high school dropout, was more pliant. He was interrogated by former IFPD Sergeant Jared Fuhriman, who had become acquainted with Tapp while serving as a school resource officer and DARE instructor. With the calculated, sociopathic opportunism of a child molester, Fuhriman groomed Tapp and relentlessly exploited him, playing on the 20-year-old’s ingenuous trust and assuring him that all the police really wanted was his cooperation in identifying the man who had killed one of his friends. 

The original IFPD plan was to set the three friends off against each other. That scheme collapsed after Sargis and Hobbs were both ruled out as suspects by the genetic evidence. Tapp was also cleared. However, because he was willing to talk to the police – a mistake nobody should ever make – he was the one left without a chair when the music stopped. 

Because he had regurgitated lies told to him by his police captors, Tapp lost his immunity agreement. His mother, Verna, became alarmed over what was happening and told Chris that he was not to submit to any further interrogation without an attorney being present. When it became known to Fuhriman that the victim of his mental molestation was seeking help from a trusted adult, he arrested Chris on a contrived charge of “harboring a fugitive” – a charge that presumes the existence of a murderer other than Chris. 

Tapp was not the suspect that Angie Dodge or her traumatized family deserved, but he was the one the IFPD and the Bonneville Prosecutor’s Office needed. Rather than trying to solve the case by finding the murderer, the police and then-County Attorney Kip Manwaring decided to clear the case with the suspect that they had in custody. Fuhriman and his comrades fed Tapp critical details about the crime, at one point taking him to the crime scene in a visit that was not recorded or memorialized in any way. Then they used the details they had fed to their victim to incriminate him in a crime of which he had no independent knowledge. 

The role played by polygraph specialist Finn was critical. Tapp was told that his denials registered deception – which was a lie – and that his self-incriminating statements were truthful – another deliberate lie. Over the course of several coercive polygraph “examinations,” Finn told Tapp that even if he had participated in the assault on Dodge, he could avoid the death penalty if he made a confession. Acting purely out of fear for his life, Tapp provided the IFPD with that confession. In doing so he presented a story that still didn’t comport with the evidence: He didn’t accurately describe the clothing worn by the victim, or the nature of her wounds. 

“The appellate public defender had the files of Tapp’s trial attorney, Robert Booker,” Tapp’s current attorney John Thomas recalls in a motion presented on November 22.  “In those files were found two video cassette boxes that contained four (4) Tapp polygraph videos. These four polygraph videos had not been previously identified as being produced.”

Three of the videos documented sessions that were clearly “coercive” in nature. One of them, according to Finn’s sworn testimony, did not exist. 

While the videotapes were in the trial attorney’s files, “they had not been `disclosed’” by the prosecution, Thomas contends. “In effect, they were hidden. By negligence or design, their existence was kept secret from the defense.” One of the most damaging of the coercive interrogations, as Thomas demonstrated to me from records he shared during a brief interview in his office, had been artfully mislabeled in order to minimize its importance. 

It was after Judge Stephens’s recent ruling in September that Tapp’s appellate attorney, John Thomas, found that videotape in the discovery file. He immediately alerted deputy prosecutor John Dewey regarding what he had found, and cleared time in his schedule so that the two of them could watch it together. 

If Thomas had acted with the same ethical indifference that has been displayed by the Bonneville Prosecutor’s Office, he would have concealed his discovery from the prosecution, rather than making a full disclosure of what he had found. In keeping with the abysmal standards of the office that employs him, Dewey capitalized on Thomas’s good faith by accusing him, during the November 22 hearing, of seeking to perpetrate a “fraud on the court” and demanding that Tapp’s appeal be dismissed.

Thomas allowed carefully modulated yet well-earned outrage to color his presentation to Judge Stephens. Addressing the prosecution’s claim that Tapp’s appeal was barred by time limitations, Thomas declared that “Justice does not have an expiration date.”

“An innocent man is sitting in prison,” while the prosecution continues its relentless obstructionism. If the Bonneville County justice system – such as it is – forecloses the possibility that Tapp will receive long-deferred due process, “That will be the day I turn my bar card in, because this court would not deserve my representation,” Thomas defiantly declared. 

Sitting next to me during Thomas’s argument was Carol Dodge, the victim’s mother, who has spent the last twenty years diligently investigating that crime. She has become Christopher Tapp’s most effective and impassioned advocate, and a close friend of his long-suffering mother, Verna. In the hallway outside the courtroom prior to the November 22 hearing, Carol and Verna embraced each other as if they were sisters, which, in a sense, they have become: They belong to sorority of mothers whose children have been taken from them through criminal violence – Angie through murder, Christopher through state-licensed kidnapping. 

“The prosecution has all the advantages,” Carol whispered to me during Thomas’s presentation, her voice heavy with bitter frustration. “If they have the power to hold an innocent man in prison, do they have the power to breathe life back into my daughter?” she continued, sobbing the final syllables of that anguished inquiry. 

Judge Stephens announced that he would be submitting a written ruling at some unspecified time in the future. Meanwhile, Tapp remains a prisoner of the Bonneville County Prosecutor’s arrogant intransigence.

As County Prosecutor Clark departed the courtroom, I noticed that his right arm was in a sling. Gesturing to his injured appendage, I asked Clark if “this happened while you were wrestling with your conscience – and winning.” 

Clark’s shoulders slumped, and after an awkward moment he replied that he had hurt himself in a dirt bike accident. That explanation struck me as plausible: I had foolishly assumed that Clark’s conscience would be strong enough to put up much of a fight.

                                              This week's Freedom Zealot Podcast
The privileges enjoyed by a police officer in a confrontation with a citizen are exactly the same as those afforded to slave owners in the antebellum South:

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Dum spiro, pugno!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

War Crimes Advocate Seeks A Job in the Trump Administration

The eyes of a fictional psychopath....

President-elect Donald Trump has thousands of executive branch positions to fill, including the spot in the Office of Legal Counsel once occupied by the detestable war criminal John C. Yoo. William C. Bradford, an obscure, disgraced ex-West Point instructor and unabashed advocate of genocide and military rule, might assume Yoo’s station as chief legal apologist for presidential war crimes.

The OLC’s stated function is to advise the president regarding the constraints imposed upon his powers by the Constitution and laws made pursuant to it. Yoo specialized in devising intricate rationales for presidential lawlessness. His most famous work is the so-called Bybee Memorandum, one of several documents in which Yoo defended the claim that the president can essentially order the abuse, torture, and mutilation of detainees, and the military or intelligence operatives who carry out such orders are legally unaccountable. Yoo has publicly stated that the president has the legal authority to order the sexual torture and mutilation of a child if he can contrive a “national security” rationale for such an atrocity.

Translating that claim into pop culture terms, Yoo would see nothing wrong in a President Negan torturing Carl in order to break Rick’s spirit – if this is done in the name of “national security.”

After promoting an American version of fuhrerprinzip as an advisor to George W. Bush, Yoo found Donald Trump unsuitable to the task of exercising the power to imprison, torture, and assassinate people of his choosing. This isn’t because Yoo takes issue with Trump’s authoritarian disposition, but rather because he is concerned that Trump is not ideologically reliable. Thus it’s doubtful that Yoo will be asked to rejoin the executive branch under Trump. The transition team is looking to re-cast the role Yoo had played as legal enabler to the worst presidential impulses – and disgraced former West Point instructor William C. Bradford is all but wetting his pants in his incontinent eagerness to fill the post.

Over the past year, Bradford, an attorney and quondam law professor, has promoted the idea that academic dissenters from the “Global War on Terrorism,” and attorneys who represent terrorism suspects, should be treated as enemy combatants. Thus branded, attorneys and scholars would be eligible for the full menu of punitive options, including extra-judicial arrest and indefinite detention, trial by military tribunals, torture, and even summary execution.

....the eyes of a real-life psychopath: Bradford.
“The West must shatter Islamists' political will and eradicate those who do not renounce Islamism,” insists Bradford in a 185-page diatribe entitled “Trahsion des Professeurs: The Critical Law of Armed Conflict Academy as an Islamist Fifth Column,” which was published in the Spring/Summer 2015 issue of the George Mason University National Security Law Journal. “All instruments of national power – including conventional and nuclear force and PSYOPs [psychological warfare operations] – must be harnessed … to capture the hearts and minds of Islamic peoples, break their will to fight for Islamism, and leave them prepared to coexist with the West or be utterly eradicated....”

In confronting an existential crisis, Bradford asserts, “survival is its own justification.” There is no room for “legal fetishists” who are skeptical of decisions by the executive or military leadership: “Americans are entitled not only to political leaders who employ and all necessary measures but to the strong presumption such measures are legal, and to the salutary effects of this presumption upon their belief in the virtue of their cause and their will to fight for it.”

Jefferson pointedly taught that patriots are to be irrepressibly suspicious of the exercise of government power. Bradford, who would find Jefferson’s wisdom lacking and his patriotism questionable, treats such skepticism as sedition, rather than civic virtue.

To wage “total war” against a tenacious and all-but-omnipresent enemy, all restrictions on government power must be supplanted by what he calls the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC). In this way, the executive is emancipated from checks and balances, and the constitutional subordination of the military to civilian control is reversed: “[I]t is the military upon whom the constitutional duty to defend Americans is incumbent, and in whom Americans repose trust.”

No, "Brute," you resigned after getting busted for lying about your credentials.
Madison, another Founder whom Bradford would consign to a detention camp, warned that armies – rather than being worthy of public trust – are, along with public debts and taxes, “the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.”

Bradford refers to scholarly critics of Washington's open-ended war against Islamism as the Critical Law of Armed Conflict Academy, an artlessly contrived expression intended to justify the pungently dismissive acronym CLOACA. While admitting that “no membership roll exists” of that intellectual cohort, and declining to name specific examples (most likely out of a desire to avoid civil liability), Bradford insists that scholars who fit within that amorphous category constitute an “Islamist Fifth Column,” even when no evidence of conscious collaboration exists.

Scholarship that challenges the “autonomy” of the Pentagon, or “dismiss[es] military wisdom” by questioning the legality, constitutionality, or morality of foreign wars, indefinite detention of terrorism suspects, or the use of torture as an interrogation technique are not mere academic exercises, according to Bradford. Instead, they are a form of advocacy that “attenuates U.S. arms and undermines American will, [and] are PSYOPs. Which are combatant acts,” Bradford maintains.

As “propaganda inciting others to war crimes, such acts are prosecutable.... CLOACA members are thus combatants who, like all other combatants, can be targeted at any time and place and captured and detained until termination of hostilities” – without judicial recourse. Assuming that “CLOACA members” would be treated in the same fashion as their supposed Islamist comrades, they would be subject to “judicial execution post-interrogation” if this were considered justifiable as a matter of military necessity.

The threshold for such treatment is astonishingly low. Academic dissenters who publicly describe the U.S. government as “an `aggressor' or employer of illegal methods and means, or [cast] aspersions on U.S. motives” for carrying out military operations display “an intent to betray the United States” or to give aid and comfort to the enemy, Bradford contends. Those thus identified would be subject to what Bradford calls a “counterattack” involving a range of options drawn from a continuum of “increasing coercion” – including mandatory loyalty oaths, termination from employment, formal criminal charges for “material support of terrorism” or even “treason” – a capital offense.

Ominously, in the wake of the summary execution, via drone strikes, of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki and his American-born, 16-year-old son Abdulrahman, Bradford asserts that scholarly critics of Washington's terror war who “commit treason, or otherwise engage in unlawful combatancy … must answer for their delicts just as any others do. The perversity inherent in countenancing intellectual elitism as a basis for a defense against prosecution and a grant of immunity from targeting in war is astonishing.” (Emphasis added.)

Elsewhere in the essay, Bradford observes that “enemy combatants may be targeted and killed wherever and whenever they can be found” and that “UAVs [that is, missile-bearing drones], as with other weapons systems, do not require that targets of targeting killing be afforded a warning or judicial process before use.”

The coercive “counterattack” against so-called “CLOACA members” would not be limited to lawyers or scholars who express critical views:

“[The] infrastructure used to create and disseminate CLOACA propaganda – law school facilities, scholars' home offices, and media outlets where they give interviews – are also lawful targets given the causal connection between the content disseminated and the Islamist crimes incited. Shocking and extreme as this option might seem, CLOACA scholars, and the law schools that employ them, are – at least in theory – targetable so long as attacks are proportional, distinguish noncombatants from combatants, employ non-prohibited weapons, and contribute to the defeat of Islamism.”

Bradford would not confine the potential targets to supposedly treasonous professors and lawyers. Private citizens who are insufficiently submissive to the military junta would likewise be regarded as fair game.

“Fighting total war demands a mental reconfiguration” on the part of the public by resolving “arguments over how to balance security and liberty in favor of security,” Bradford insists, and “acculturating the necessary fighting spirit” in the population through mass propaganda and, where possible, conspicuous punishment of dissidents.

“Spartanization of the West will require the deepening of the concept of citizenship to include duties as well as rights,” writes Bradford, regurgitating a well-chewed collectivist nostrum “Rights are attended by corresponding duties, and the state may obligate citizens – even academics – to contribute to to the struggle in those ways they are able.”

Refusal “to acknowledge the Islamist threat as an existential challenge to Western Civilization, and to … unite to defeat that threat, would be the greatest dereliction of duty in history,” he declares.

Anticipating responses from critics, Bradford acknowledges that some might complain that his overwrought essay “incites authoritarianism insofar as it counsels militarization, withdraws debates over the enemy from the political arena, vilifies those who fail to acknowledge a grave threat, punishes disloyalty, and takes up law as sword and shield to defend and destroy political will.” Rather than explaining how that critique is inaccurate, Bradford parries such objections by insisting that “mobilization on all fronts is as necessary as a response to the current threat condition as it was during World War II.”
Actually, they embody privileged violence, not the rule of law.

Bradford's disdain for dissent, due process, and the rule of law do summon comparisons to a World War II-era legal revolution. In his study Hitler's Justice: The Courts of the Third Reich, Ingo Mueller describes how the Nazified German legal system was founded on the assumption that “the `national aim'” was the central organizing principle of society, and all guarantees of rights and limitations of state power yielded before the doctrine of “national emergency.”

Citing the rulings of the German Supreme Court and the writings of influential Party-aligned jurists, Mueller writes that the Nazi-era equivalent of Bradford's Law of Armed Conflict dictated that “objectivity finds its limits … when the national security is placed in doubt.” Every judge and lawyer was required to be “a son of his country” who would “place the vital interests of the nation unconditionally above what is formally the law.”

Bradford spent several years teaching law to West Point cadets before being forced to resign in August 2015. Significantly, he wasn't terminated for his advocacy of a genocidal foreign policy or a totalitarian campaign to suppress domestic dissent, but rather chose to resign rather than manning up and facing disciplinary action for inflating his military resume and falsely claiming to have received a Silver Star for combat duty in Desert Storm. In defiance of West Point’s honor code (“A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do”), Bradford routinely lies about the circumstances of his ouster, claiming that Barack Obama had him cashiered for being politically incorrect.

There is a very good chance that the Trump administration will find a place for Bradford. Had the election turned out differently, it’s quite likely Bradford would now be quietly networking with like-minded militarists to overthrow a Hillary Clinton administration.

After publishing his blueprint for “Spartanizing” the United States, Bradford privately circulated a draft of an unpublished law review article entitled “Alea Iacta Est: The U.S. Coup of 2017.” An abstract of that essay posted to Bradford's LinkedIn page adumbrated a scenario in which a U.S. president becomes an undisguised “tyrant” who must be replaced by a military junta. A “tyrant,” by Bradford’s definition, would be one who wields unaccountable power in a way he and others who share his prejudices would find unacceptable.

“What if the American people were to elect a president who want[s] to destroy the nation and works to create division among the people, encourage a culture of ridicule for basic morality and the principles that made and sustained the country, undermine the financial stability of the nation, and weaken and destroy the military?” Bradford writes. “What remedies, if any, did the Framers commend to us in the event a tyrant should ever assume the presidency? Do the people have the right to resist a tyrant, and does that really hold any prospect of success without the support of the military? Does the U.S. military have the right or even the duty to intervene in the domestic politics of the United States as constitutional and political savior when the times require it, and who makes that determination?... Is such a duty incumbent upon the U.S. Armed Forces at present?”(Emphasis added.)

The title of Bradford's essay might be an allusion to a previous treatment of a similar theme:
Brig. Gen. Charles J. Dunlap's essay "The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012," which was published in the Winter 1992—93 issue of the U.S. Army War College journal Parameters. Where Bradford appears to believe that a coup might be a “duty” incumbent on the military, Gen. Dunlap – writing from a constitutionalist, rather than praetorian, perspective – was clearly alarmed by what he saw as an entirely plausible scenario.

Dunlap used the literary device of a smuggled prison letter composed by "Prisoner 222305759," condemned to death for "treason" by military ruler Gen. E.T. Brutus. Following a series of military disasters overseas and domestic crises at home, Brutus, acting on concerns very similar to those spelled out by Bradford (or, for that matter, described in Robert Heinlein's premonitory novel Starship Troopers), staged a coup in the name of protecting "public order" from the corruption of the political class.

In the decades leading up to the putsch, the unnamed Prisoner recalled, "The one institution of government in which people retained faith was the military." Even as the public lamented the corruption and profligacy of Big Government, they had nothing but bottomless respect for the Regime's chief instrument of death and property destruction. The military retained its prestige in spite of the fact that its structural defects -- made painfully visible by a long, bloody, and futile war in the Gulf -- left it "unfit to engage an authentic military opponent."

While the military was no longer well-suited to fight and win wars, its subtle integration into every element of domestic life made it perfectly suited to carry out a coup:

"Eventually, people became acclimated to seeing uniformed military personnel patrolling their neighborhood. Now [meaning 2012 in the essay's timeline] troops are an adjunct to almost all police forces in the country. In many of the areas where much of our burgeoning population of elderly Americans live — Brutus calls them 'National Security Zones' — the military is often the only law enforcement agency. Consequently, the military was ideally positioned in thousands of communities to support the coup."

Although 2012 passed without an overt military takeover, Dunlap's projection of trends – especially the disastrous long-term military entanglement in the Middle East, the expanding role of the Pentagon in routine domestic law enforcement, and the pervasive cultural presence of the military in everyday American life -- has proven to be uncannily prescient. The same is true of the apparently inexhaustible respect and public deference enjoyed by the military, despite widespread and deepening disillusionment with nearly every other branch of government.

For most of this year, Bradford has been updating his recommendations, loudly defending Donald Trump’s proposal to target civilian families of suspected terrorists and demanding a return to conscription. His proprietary blend of militancy and sycophancy may be rewarded with a plunder-funded position in which he could help devise legal justifications for military rule. Stephen Bannon, chosen to be Trump’s chief White House strategist, is an unabashed proponent of the view that the United States is involved in a global war against radical Islam. Bradford would find suitable company among the bellicose officials with whom Trump is stocking the national security apparatus.

Is the citizen property of the state that claims him? This week's Freedom Zealot Podcast:

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Dum spiro, pugno!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Why Would Anyone Want a President?

No, he isn't -- unless you consent to be ruled. I don't know why anyone would.

“How small, of all that human hearts endure, that part which laws or kings can cause or cure.”

When Samuel Johnson wrote those measured words of welcome consolation, kings generally behaved with more restraint than presidents do now. The essential wisdom of his observation remains intact even our era of world-bestriding chief executives who have access to power not imagined by sages such as Johnson, the Framers who created the office, or even, for that matter, unalloyed despots like Lenin and Hitler, each of whom murdered millions but couldn’t vaporize people on a whim. 

Though he presides over a vast apparatus of coercion and punitive violence, the U.S. president falls well short of the divine status often imputed to him. Most importantly, he has no constitutional authority to “rule” anybody, and is the “leader” only of those who choose to follow him. And, may God be praised for it, the president does not “run” the country. 

It is difficult for me to comprehend a life so sterile that it becomes meaningless unless it finds validation through the election of a presidential candidate, yet lives of that kind are quite commonplace. This is proven by the flood-tide of pathos resulting from the nation-wide meltdown of campus-dwelling leftist snowflakes – and by the triumphalist gloating from collectivists of a different flavor who believe that the “greatness” of the United States is defined by the identity of the federal government’s executive figurehead. Their continent-spanning conniption fit demonstrates that at a level below sentience they understand the essential function of the state they worship – destruction of property, disruption of productive lives, and violence against the innocent. 

Frank Herbert’s literary masterpiece was an elaboration on the following insight: “Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible.” For all of its substantial flaws the U.S. Constitution does embody, however imperfectly, the insight that corruptible human beings cannot be entrusted with power, especially in an executive capacity. 
How Trump's Alt-Right adherents see him....
The presidency, as originally conceived, was custom-designed to be occupied by Washington, who was seen by many Americans as worthy of becoming a hereditary monarch. The Framers, acting on John Locke’s insight that “the reigns of good princes have been always the most dangerous to the liberties of the people,” deprived that office of most of the attributes that would entice those who lusted for power. The president, once again, was to be a servant, not a ruler. 

Many believed that Washington was well-suited to the exercise of power, but the Framers understood that there is no such thing as a genuinely benevolent ruler. As Locke warned, the acts of such men become inimical to liberty “when their successors, managing the government with different thoughts, would draw the actions of those good rulers into precedent and make them the standard of their prerogative – as if what had been done only for the good of the people was a right in them to do for the harm of the people, if they so pleased….”

This point was made more recently by commentator Jimmy Dore of the progressive news site The Young Turks. During the Democratic primary, Dore – like many of his colleagues -- was an outspoken critic of Hillary Clinton. After the nominees were selected, Dore consistently warned that Clinton was not going to prevail against the populist tide that was propelling Trump’s campaign. As a more doctrinaire progressive, Dore preferred Bernie Sanders – but as someone who remembered, and took seriously, his High School civics classes, Dore was more concerned about the dangerously distended powers of the presidency itself. 

Speaking in the immediate aftermath of Trump’s victory, Dore emphasized that a Trump administration would inherit from Barack Obama a fully operational police state, with all-encompassing warrantless surveillance and a legal mechanism allowing the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens who are suspected of being “unlawful combatants.” 

“We’ve allowed our government to get rid of habeas corpus,” Dore lamented. “We’ve allowed our government to have a complete 24-hour surveillance system. That’s the opposite of liberty. That’s the opposite of freedom.”

“People were warned when they did this,” he continues, but liberals and progressives insisted that “it’s OK, because everybody likes Barack Obama right now. But what happens if there’s a next president – and nobody predicted Trump then, but now here we are.”

Dore and his fellow panelists also noted that by declining to seek the prosecution of officials who committed acts of torture during the Bush administration, Obama effectively decriminalized the practice – which his successor has promised to implement and expand.
Of course, the same lamentation would be offered by conservatives in the election aftermath had Obama’s police state been inherited by Hillary Clinton. In a political environment increasingly defined by Lenin’s maxim that the only relevant question is “Who does what to whom?” neither of those factions is terribly concerned about the “what” in that equation – and the Bill of Rights is supposed to define the “what” in terms of things the government cannot do to the individual, no matter who presides over the executive branch. 

The greatness of America is inversely proportionate to the role government plays in the daily lives of its citizens. Hillary Clinton embodied the conceit that no facet of life anywhere on the planet should be a refuge from the totalitarian impulse to “improve” human conduct through the application of state-licensed violence.
...but he's just a bit more complicated.
Donald Trump’s ambitions aren’t as vast, and he acts out of impulse rather than ideology – specifically, the impulse to punish others. His campaign was devoted to recovering “greatness,” rather than restoring “liberty.”

One of his most persistent refrains was “We have no choice” – a phrase that would serve as a coda to a proposal involving
torture, or mass deportation, or invasive surveillance of a religious minority, or some other expansion of state power at the expense of the individual. His consistent critique of Obama – who currently presides over a half-dozen foreign military conflicts and has ordered the summary execution of US citizens by drone strikes – is that he is too “weak” in exercising the powers of his office, when he has actually been far from diffident in that regard. 

A constitutionalist would describe Obama’s weakness as an inability to restrain himself in the exercise of power. Those who understand the state to be a malignant fiction recognize that the exercise of power is itself an unqualified evil. No honest observer will discern in Donald Trump, an individual whose life has been a constant hymn of self-celebration, the smallest hint of a capacity for self-restraint. 

Since the Republicans control both houses of Congress, Trump won’t face the external restraints afforded by partisan gridlock. His ignorance of the Constitution being comprehensive, Trump doesn’t understand the legal restraints on the office he will hold. The insouciant disregard for contractual commitments he routinely displayed in his business career indicates that he wouldn’t consider himself bound by those restraints if he did understand them. 
He's not mine, either.
Trump’s victory on November 8 shocked people who take opinion polls seriously, but it didn’t surprise those who followed the political prediction markets. Given the superior predictive ability of investment markets, there is ominous significance in the fact that Trump’s victory sent prison stocks skyward in anticipation of a dramatic expansion of what is already the world’s largest carceral system. 

The throngs who gleefully chanted “Lock her up!” at Trump rallies are the kind of people who think our country is under-policed and our prisons are under-populated. Hopefully, their fever will eventually break, and they will recover their capacity for reflection. At that point they should consider a parable found in Armando Valladares’s memoir Against All Hope, which describes his decades of captivity in Fidel Castro’s gulag.

For most of his 22 years of incarceration as a political prisoner, Valladares was confined in the “Model Prison” on the Isla de Pinos. It was constructed under the reign of Cuban military dictator Gerardo Machado in the 1930s, and at the time it was regarded as ridiculously outsized, given that Cuba wasn’t overrun by violent criminals.

When his advisors asked why he would order construction of such an unnecessarily large prison, General Machado blithely replied: “Don’t you worry. Somebody will come along who’ll manage to fill it up.”

“That somebody,” Valladares grimly wrote, “was Fidel Castro.”
It has been said that every ruler builds a house another will inherit. A better way of expressing that insight is that every ruler expands the architecture of oppression, thereby fortifying the prison in which his subjects – and their children – will live. This is true even – no, especially -- of rulers who supposedly have a democratic mandate to exercise violence on behalf of the collective. 

Seven years ago, at the beginning of Obama’s reign, attendants at Tea Party rallies often displayed signs advertising that the occupant of the White House was “Not My President.” Obama’s partisans denounced that sentiment as seditious. The same slogan has now been adopted by participants in anti-Trump tantrums – and the underlying sentiment is now being denounced by people who had once seen that phrase as a form of patriotic poetry.

Apart from employees of the executive branch, or active-duty members of the military who have been called into service by Congress, no American really has a “president.” The office was intended to be peripheral to the daily concerns of Americans, rather than the central focus of their existence. What a wonderful thing it would be if Americans of all persuasions adopted the motto “Not My President” – and then learned to regard the state itself with the proper mixture of hostility and contempt.

 This week's Freedom Zealot Podcast: What Obama built, Donald Trump now inherits --

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Dum spiro, pugno!