Trump using armed forces against judges?

This video from New York City in the USA says about itself:

Rabbis Protest Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban at Trump Tower

7 February 2017

19 rabbis were arrested standing up for Muslims and refugees during a protest at Trump Tower. “This is what theology looks like!”

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

US appeals court to rule on restoration of anti-Muslim travel ban

8 February 2017

The Trump administration argued Tuesday for the restoration of its temporary ban on visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from any country in an hour-long court hearing conducted by telephone.

A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is based in San Francisco, heard the government appeal to overturn the temporary restraining order issued by a federal judge in Seattle, who acted on a lawsuit brought by the states of Washington and Minnesota.

The government’s legal representative, August Flentje, special counsel to the assistant attorney general, faced a skeptical reaction from the panel, which peppered him with questions and did not allow him to develop a coherent argument, although it was unclear whether he could have done so even without interruption.

None of the three judges—William Canby, appointed by Jimmy Carter in 1980; Richard Clifton, appointed by George W. Bush in 2001, and Michelle Friedland, appointed by Barack Obama in 2013—seemed sympathetic to the White House claims that the states did not have legal standing to challenge the executive order.

An analogous case was brought by a group of Republican state attorneys-general in 2015, challenging an Obama executive order on immigration enforcement as unduly lenient. That case was heard by a federal district judge in Texas and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The courts ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, both on standing and on the merits of their suit.

One of the first questions, from Judge Friedland, was whether the Trump administration had any evidence of an imminent threat emanating from any of the seven countries—Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. No traveler from any of those countries has been involved in a terrorist attack inside the United States since at least 1975.

As with most of the public performances of the Trump administration, factual accuracy and logical coherence were replaced by authoritarian bluster and fear-mongering at the court hearing. Flentje sought to base his argument for the travel ban on the claim that the president’s authority on national security matters was virtually absolute.

When asked by Judge Friedland whether the executive order was “unreviewable,” he hesitated, then said, “Yes.” The court was entitled to consider only whether the executive order was properly drafted and not facially invalid. The judges were obliged to confine their scrutiny to the “four corners” of the paper signed by Trump on January 27, he argued.

This line of argumentation ultimately collapsed on itself, since Flentje retreated from the claim that Trump had the authority to strip legal resident aliens, holders of green cards, of their constitutional rights. After customs agents targeted green card holders in the first weekend of enforcement of the executive order, the White House revised its instructions without changing the text of the order, merely issuing an “interpretation” of the order by White House counsel Don McGahn.

Judge Friedland noted the contradiction between the initial claims that the courts had to concede Trump’s unchallengeable authority to make national security determinations, and the White House counsel’s intervention to attempt to salvage the executive order. Could Trump’s national security authority be delegated to a White House lawyer, she asked?

Speaking for the states of Washington and Minnesota, Washington solicitor general Noah Purcell initially avoided the democratic and constitutional issues at stake, instead diverting the proceeding into a discussion of the exact legal steps to be followed, including whether the Appeals Court panel would send the case back to the district court for further review or issue its own opinion that could immediately be appealed to the Supreme Court.

When he finally turned to the main issues, however, the strength of the case against the executive order became plain. He noted that the Trump administration had “no clear factual claim or evidentiary claims” as to the irreparable harm that would result from the suspension of the executive order, adding, “It was the executive order itself that caused irreparable harm.”

He discussed several legal issues relating to proving that the travel ban violates the First Amendment clause forbidding the establishment of religion. Dismissing the argument that since the ban targeted only seven of the 43 Muslim-majority countries it wasn’t a Muslim ban, he explained that this was not the legal standard: “You don’t have to prove it harms every Muslim—you just need to show the action was motivated in part by animus.” Even an action within the legal powers of the president could be illegal and unconstitutional if motivated by religious bigotry.

The discriminatory intent could be demonstrated from Trump’s own statements, both during the election campaign and in preparing the order, Purcell argued. Trump called for a Muslim ban during the campaign, and after his election asked one of his advisers, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, to prepare a version of the Muslim ban that would pass legal muster. Trump also discussed his desire to favor Christian refugees over Muslims in an interview with a Christian broadcaster.

It was rare that so much evidence of intent was available even before any discovery had been conducted, he said—hinting at the possibility that Trump administration officials, and even potentially Trump himself, could be called to testify under oath if the case goes forward.

This led to a heated exchange, as Flentje declared, “It’s extraordinary for the courts to enjoin a president’s national security decision-making based on some newspaper articles.” Judge Clifton then asked whether the government attorney was claiming that the reports of Trump’s anti-Muslim comments were false. Flentje backed off, conceding that Trump had made the statements in question, but arguing that no judicial notice should be taken.

All three judges pressed Flentje on whether the president could simply issue a ban on Muslims entering the country, and if he did, would anyone, under the government’s theory, have legal standing to challenge it. Under repeated prodding, Flentje conceded that such an order would raise significant First Amendment and establishment of religion questions, but he maintained that only individuals directly harmed by the order, and not state governments, had legal standing to challenge such an order in court.

So one-sided were the exchanges that at one point Flentje remarked, in an understatement, “I’m not sure I’m convincing the court.” He later offered a compromise ruling, suggesting that the judges could reinstate the travel ban at least for refugees and others who had never previously entered the United States, while allowing it to lapse for green card holders and others with greater ties to the country.

In a media advisory before the hearing, a spokesman said that “a ruling was not expected to come down today, but probably this week.” The Trump White House has already announced that it intends to appeal any unfavorable result to the Supreme Court, which currently has only eight members, making a 4-4 tie vote very possible. That result would leave the Ninth Circuit decision intact.

The Trump administration’s open hostility to the judicial system’s intervention in the travel ban was expressed not only in Trump’s speech to Special Forces soldiers in Florida , but also in remarks by retired General John F. Kelly, Trump’s appointee as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, the agency that directly enforced the ban.

Testifying before the House Homeland Security Committee Tuesday, Kelly admitted that no one from the seven countries targeted for the travel ban has committed a terrorist attack inside the United States. But he said that it was impossible to rule it out, since US agencies wouldn’t know of such an attack until the “boom,” as he put it. This is an argument, of course, for prohibiting all visitors to the United States from all countries—and for rounding up countless Americans as well.

This video from the USA says about itself:

Trump Childish When Judge DESTROYS Muslim Travel Ban

6 February 2017

After Judge James Robart put a stop to President Trump’s executive order temporarily barring citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from traveling to the United States, Trump’s Justice Department tried to challenge the ruling but was rejected by the Federal Appeals Court.

By Barry Grey in the USA:

In speech at Florida Air Force base

Trump appeals to the military against the press and the courts

8 February 2017

In an extraordinary appearance Monday at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, President Donald Trump dispensed with democratic protocol to deliver a political speech. He denounced the press and implicitly suggested the formation of a presidential-military alliance against the courts and the Constitution.

In his brief remarks, Trump lavished praise on the Central Command and Special Forces Command troops that are based at MacDill. He began by thanking the military for its lopsided vote in his favor in last November’s election. “And I saw those numbers—and you like me and I like you,” he said.

He continued: “And we’re going to be loading [MacDill] up with beautiful new planes and beautiful new equipment… We’re going to load you up.” He returned to this theme several times, stating at one point, “We will make a historic financial investment in the Armed Forces of the United States…”

Invoking the specter of “radical Islamic terrorists,” he darkly accused the press of deliberately downplaying the threat. “It’s gotten to the point where it’s not even being reported and, in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons and you understand that.”

Following this suggestion that the press is aiding and abetting the terrorists, Trump promoted his anti-immigrant measures, without referring to them directly, and implicitly criticized the courts for temporarily blocking his anti-Muslim travel ban.

“We will defeat radical Islamic terrorism, and we will not allow it to take root in our country… You’ve been seeing what’s been going on over the last few days. We need strong programs so that people that love us and want to love our country and will end up loving our country are allowed in—not people that want to destroy us and destroy our country.”

The speech followed his tweets denouncing the judge who ruled against his travel ban and blaming any future terror attack on the “court system.” His top political aide, the fascist Stephen Bannon, has meanwhile told the press to “shut up.”

Trump’s speech comes in the midst of an intense conflict within the state over foreign policy and national security questions, involving not only the travel ban but also new attacks by the Democrats and much of the media for his supposed “softness” toward Russia.

It also takes place in the context of ongoing demonstrations across the country and internationally in opposition to his racist immigration measures and other antidemocratic policies.

The MacDill event marks a milestone in the long-term strengthening of the role of the armed forces in US political life and erosion of the constitutional principle of civilian control. Trump has packed his administration with retired generals, including James “Mad Dog” Mattis as secretary of defense, Michael Flynn as national security adviser, and John Kelly as head of the Homeland Security Department. The latter appointment for the first time places a military man at the head of a sprawling apparatus for domestic repression established as the internal component of the “war on terror.”

These developments follow the sinister incident, which remains unexplained and virtually unreported by the media, that occurred toward the beginning of Trump’s inaugural address. Ten officers from the various services lined up behind Trump and remained there long enough for the image of the new president flanked by uniformed military men to be broadcast across the country and internationally. This was no accident, but rather a calculated maneuver devised by Trump and advisers such as Bannon to present an image of a quasi-military government, prepared to crack down on opposition at home and wage war against multiple enemies abroad.

The immense growth in the size, power and political influence of the military is not something new or unique to the Trump administration. Rather, as with every other manifestation of the decay of American democracy, with the Trump presidency a protracted process of decline has reached a qualitatively new stage.

Twenty-five years of unending war following the dissolution of the Soviet Union have vastly increased the power of the military brass. The consolidation of a professional military has increasingly isolated the armed forces from civilian society, creating a distinct social caste that asserts its independent interests in the affairs of state ever more aggressively.

The greater the level of social inequality, the more widespread the alienation of the working masses from the entire political system, the more the ruling financial oligarchy seeks to base itself on the military. Already in the 2000 election, in which the Supreme Court handed the White House to George W. Bush, the loser of the popular vote, by shutting down a vote recount in Florida, Democrat Al Gore agreed to Republican demands that illegal military votes in Florida, mainly for Bush, be counted.

Both Bush and Barack Obama set records for the number of speeches they gave to military audiences. With Trump’s chauvinist “America First” government of generals and billionaires, the semi-criminal financial oligarchy bares its teeth and removes the mask of democratic niceties.

In the press and among the think tank strategists of the ruling class, the demise of the bedrock constitutional principle of civilian control of the military is being openly discussed and debated.

The headlines of articles on the subject that have appeared since Trump’s election include: “Is Civilian Control of the Military in Jeopardy?” (The American Conservative), “The ‘Civilian Control of the Military’ Fallacy” (Defense One), and “Trump is surrounding himself with generals. That’s dangerous” (Washington Post). An article published by Foreign Policy in December by Georgetown University Professor Rosa Brooks argues that civilian control of the military has “become a rule of aesthetics, not ethics, and its invocation is a soothing ritual that makes us feel better without accomplishing anything of value.”

The Democratic Party will not oppose the further politicization of the military and militarization of politics. On the contrary, in recent days media outlets aligned with the Democrats have presented the military brass as a democratic check on Trump’s fascistic impulses. The New York Times responded to Trump’s elevation of Bannon to the National Security Council and demotion of the director of national intelligence and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by urging Trump to seek advice in matters of war and peace from “more thoughtful experienced hands” such as Defense Secretary Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Dunford.

The Atlantic magazine published an article with the headline “Are Trump’s Generals Mounting a Defense of Democratic Institutions?”

There is no faction of the ruling class or its political representatives, Democratic or Republican, that will defend democratic rights. The collapse of American democracy, as with democratic institutions all over the world, is the outcome of the mortal crisis of American and world capitalism. It is up to the working class to take the lead in the defense of basic rights through an independent struggle for political power and socialism.

The author also recommends:
Media remains silent on appearance of military officers at Trump’s inauguration
[27 January 2017]

The emails that detail the Trump team’s request for “military tactical vehicles” for inaugural parade.

New Zealand: Approximately 1,000 people gathered in central Auckland on Tuesday to protest against the anti-immigrant bans imposed by US President Donald Trump on seven majority-Muslim countries—Syria, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Sudan. Those in attendance included many young people, immigrants and former refugees: here.

5 thoughts on “Trump using armed forces against judges?

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