Welcome to the Fourth Reich

Looking back in history, with that keen vision hindsight sometimes provides,  it’s often easy to find the moment when the deal was sealed, the signal event that made what happened next appear inevitable.   In Nazi Germany, I’d say that moment was eighteen months in, when Hitler sent out goon squads to kill his enemies all over Germany on the last night of June 1934.   One of the dead, in that Night of the Long Knives, was General Kurt von Schleicher, Hitler’s predecessor as chancellor, the German equivalent of a more right-wing Colin Powell.   The initial claim in State media was that the “traitor” was shot dead in a gun battle while resisting arrest for his crimes.  Within a very short time they dropped the lie, the Fuhrer was nonchalantly telling Germany about the night “when I had Schleicher shot.”   Of course, the whole point of that coordinated, murderous purge was to demonstrate that even a popular right-wing celebrity politician wasn’t safe from summary execution if Hitler perceived disloyalty or threat.  

So it is with this lawless, insecure, bullying reality-TV con-man president we have up at the podium now.   He also uses fear of angry reprisal, demonstrated in consistent threats and public acts of vilification and revenge, to rule by fear.  Riding the ample ass of his deeply religious, fanatical Attorney General who believes, and always has, that the ends justify the means, he would appear infallible.   The ends, for Bagpiper Bill Barr, are a moral nation-state as Jesus would have wanted it (as Barr fervidly imagines his messiah would want it, anyway).   Barr wields the law as a righteous sword, the way the original Jesuits, Defenders of the Faith and lawyers for the Spanish Inquisition, did. 

You fervently want justice, God’s justice on earth.  To get Divine justice, to be righteous instruments of His will, you must put heretics to the flames, to the sword, the strappado, the water-board, the rack.   It’s just what the Prince of Peace would wish for us sinners here on this troubled earth, to bring Jesus’s mercy to mankind by any means necessary.  So, as a lawyer for God’s representatives on earth, you reason backwards from the result you want, and craft your legal rationale to make the practice legal, permissible, and even highly moral, no matter how perverse or obscene what you are advocating might otherwise seem. 

Barr has always been supremely creative this way, an innovator, really.   He crafted the first-ever preemptive presidential pardon on the eve of a felony trial (Caspar Weinberger’s) that would have spilled the toxic beans on lame-duck president HW Bush and destroyed his legacy.  He substituted his overbearing and demonstrably false interpretation for the damning facts of a careful report that explicitly did not exonerate his boss of a seamless (and ongoing) pattern of Obstruction of Justice, smearing a highly respected Eagle Scout colleague, and political fellow-traveler, in the process.  Since exonerating his guilty boss he has empaneled a zealous criminal investigation into the “HOAX” investigation of what both parties have concluded in official reports was massive Russian interference in the 2016 election, with the active connivance of Trump’s campaign, and on and on. Thus:


Granted, I should not have clicked on the NY Times at 4:13 a.m. — one of the dangers of having a phone next to your bed.    Hell of an hour to get the bracing news that I was now living in the Fourth Reich.   I read the Grey Lady’s analysis the next day, measured, well-written, a range of experts expressing dismay, alarm, a hint of outrage.   You can read it here, nicely done, I suppose, as far as it goes.

You will not get what you need from the New York Times, of course.  It’s not their job to get you into the streets, mobilized against the subjugation of our legal system to advance the corruptions of the most evil among us.   That is the job of the millions of professional and freelance canaries in the coal mine [1] — to raise the alarm.  

The Department of Justice was created under the Fourteenth Amendment, enacted after the Civil War.   The Fourteenth Amendment was the needed improvement to the Constitution that now guaranteed the rights, privileges and immunities of citizenship to the recently freed slaves, to ensure that outfits like the Ku Klux Klan could not continue to impose their enraged will through brutality and terror, that former slaves and their defenders would be protected from mob violence.  In the antebellum days when you could own other human beings as chattels, you didn’t need a Department of Justice to enforce the rights of these human mules, cows, goats — such persons had no rights under our laws.  

The Department of Justice has been at the center of every important advance in social justice, certainly in terms of enforcing federal laws against in-your-face racism and other hate crimes.  It has also been a bulwark against government corruption and a protecter of those who risk exposing government corruption.   It is no longer in those businesses anymore.

The Department of Justice is currently in the hands of a zealous, angry man who believes that Abuse of Power, when the righteous wield it, or when it is expedient to righteous goals, anyway, is neither a crime nor a vice.  The ability to vastly expand his existing powers, even abuse them (if you want to quibble) is a gift he no doubt believes he has received directly from Christ Himself, that His will may be done here upon the earth as it is done in heaven.  

Heaven help us all here in the Fourth Reich.   The Third one did not go well for millions and millions of people.   If these power-worshipping fanatics wind up in power again after November 2020, and they certainly have a puncher’s chance to be there, no matter how much more they fuck up (a far from stellar first term didn’t hurt Bush and Cheney in 2004) when you and I get to the camp, after that long, crowded train ride, remind me to ask you again if you still believe I’m being hyperbolic in my concerns about these Nazi-emulating motherfuckers.



[1] Kurt Vonnegut compared creative types to the canaries British coal miners used to carry into the mines to detect odorless poison gases like carbon monoxide.    When the tiny-lunged bird keeled over in his cage the miners knew it was time to get out of there.   (This practice was apparently stopped in 1986 when electronic sniffers replaced the wee birds).  Vonnegut meant by this comparison that those who fret and worry about communicating to others are often more prone than the rest to succumbing to the invisible deadly gases that are looming to kill everyone.

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