Our theme since the impeachment acquittal marches on. We are in a dictatorship, and to the extent the nation doesn’t look any different to you, that is not the point.
I am sitting here watching Sports Center, tomorrow I will take my daughter will go to school, I get paid tomorrow, and thank god for that because I have three girls at home who need Valentines gifts, and maybe we’ll go out for dinner.
It doesn’t look any different. How can we suddenly be living in a dictatorship?
You are not Elaine McCusker, a DOD comptroller, whose nomination for comptroller and chief financial officer has now been pulled. The Trump administration has withdrawn her nomination. There is no backstory, her firing is the story . She was fired because “This administration needs people committed to implementing the president’s agenda, specifically in foreign policy, not trying to thwart it.”
Of course, Ms. McCusker did not try to “thwart” the “president’s agenda,” she merely tried to carry out the president’s agenda while complying with the law.
That is not done in this administration. This is a dictatorship. Those who allow laws to get in the way of an “agenda” are clearly operating against the president.
McCusker’s crime is quite literally having attempted to follow the law. Over the summer, the Office of Management and Budget was trying to hold up aid for Ukraine that Congress had passed into law, because it was trying to extort Ukraine to investigate Trump’s rivals. Defense Department officials, who were supposed to allocate the funds, attempted to implement the policy. Just Security obtained  the email chain.
McCusker did not at all try to circumvent the president’s agenda, she tried to fit it within the law, in order to protect all those in the process. Naïve but good-hearted woman, who no longer has a place in this government. Ask her if she’s noticed a difference between a nation under laws and a dictatorship.
Now, prepare to fume:
The emails show McCusker advising budget officials as to what the law said. She was not acting especially rigid about it. As Just Security’s summary notes, “The emails show officials bending over backwards to make every conceivable accommodation to keep the process moving without actually being able to obligate the funding.” One message shows McCusker writing to another official, “We need to continue to give the WH has [sic] much decision space as possible, but am concerned we have not officially documented the fact that we can not promise full execution at this point.” That is, she was trying to do everything in her power to give White House officials room to set the policy as they saw fit, without violating the law.
Importantly, the Government Accountability Office later examined  the question, and found that McCusker was right. Holding up the aid was indeed illegal.
A woman who did all she could do to facilitate the exact action that the White House wanted, but did so to protect them from crossing the line into illegality, where our naïve hero believed trouble might lie.
Ms. McCusker might be watching Sports Center tonight, she might be preparing a dinner or card for Valentine’s day, she likely has shopping to do, just like you and me. But Ms. McCusker is acutely aware of the fact that the dictatorship has set-in. She lost her nomination for an elite position that she likely deserved, from the little bit we know about her. She lost it for the simple reason that she wanted to adhere to the law. She believed that in the United States operating legally mattered.
She now knows. Laws don’t matter. Government employees now operate to please Trump, because he is now the law. People are no longer employees of the United States, they are de facto employees of Donald Trump, just how he wants it.
That’s a dictatorship. The base calls it draining the swamp. It is telling reading the comments to the article, and the Trumpers’ excuses for why this is absolutely correct.
Soon enough, it will touch each of us personally, but everyone having read this blog (and others ) will have had forewarning. It is setting-in, heavily.
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