A Sick System Long Past Its Overthrow Date

Image by Clay Banks.

Imagine how asinine the United States — the self-proclaimed “world’s greatest democracy” — must look to much of the world in the wake of Donald Trump’s 34-count felony conviction last week. If the nation wasn’t such a lethal menace to life on Earth, it might almost be amusing.

A System That Offers You the Choice Between Fascist Don and Genocide Joe….

Its previous president Donald “Take Down the Metal Detectors” Trump is an openly malignant narcissist and Hitler-channeling fascist who tried to overthrow the vaunted North American republic in a long rolling many-sided coup attempt that culminated in a massive physical assault on the nation’s legislative branch. He is the cult leader of one of the nation’s two dominant capitalist-imperialist political parties — the beastly sociopath atop the Republicans’ conversion from previously normative bourgeois democracy, parliamentarianism, and rule of law to Christian white nationalist neofascism.

The United States’ current president, Joe “Nothing Will Fundamentally Change” Biden is outraged at Russia’s US-provoked invasion of white Ukraine but brazenly equips, funds, and protects the occupation and apartheid state of Israel’s ruthless ethnic cleansing of brown-skinned Arabs in Gaza. The morally and politically sentient world is appalled by the transparent hypocrisy of this doddering, bloody-jawed warmonger who sparks, funds, and equips an endless, lethal, and reckless imperialist proxy war with Russia while backing racist genocide in Gaza.

He joins the neo-McCarthyite Republi-fascist Party in falsely smearing anti-genocide student protesters as “antisemites” and in oppressing immigrants trying to escape horrific conditions that US imperialism has created below of its stolen southern border  Meanwhile he is recklessly provoking the rising nuclear superpower China right off its coast.

A second Biden term has “World War III” written all over it, consistent with his recent wild-eyed sign off on Ukraine attacking Russian territory with US weapons.

And now Biden has just exhibited his longtime willingness to tilt right by signing a nativist and Trumpist executive order giving the Department of Homeland Security power to block migrants from seeking asylum between official ports of entry at the US-Mexico border.

As I recently wrote in the most popular slogan I’ve ever put up on so-called social media: A system that offers you the choice between Fascist Don and Genocide Joe is a system long past its overthrow date.

Convicted for the Least of its Crimes

Finally, three and half years into Biden’s malign capitalist-imperialist presidency, the previous US president — the malignant fascist brute who continues to fuel the great Hitlerian lie that the last election was stolen — was convicted by a jury.

Convicted, yes, but not for his crimes as a fascist president and ex-president.

Not for his repeated violations of the emoluments clause, which forbids presidents from using the presidency to line their own pockets.

Not for trying to bully state election officials into fudging vote numbers to create a false Trump re-election victory.

Not for trying to create fake Electors to defy and cancel the popular vote in states where Trump lost.

Not for telling his Vice President to violate the nation’s constitution by refusing to play his administrative role in certifying Biden’s clear Electoral College victory.

Not for sparking a giant putschist assault on the US Capitol — an attack Trump wanted to have been led by fascist paramilitaries with military assault rifles.

Not for failing to use his powers to quickly and properly crush the Attack on the Capitol while he hoped that the January 6 insurrection attempt would give him a pretext to declare martial law and order new elections.

Not for fraudulently raising money on the false claim of a stolen election.

Not for the blatantly criminal assassination of a top Iranian general on Iraqi soil.

Not the criminal misapplication of federal funds to try to build his nativist southern border wall.

Not for the mass-murderous crime of pandemicide – the fanning of Covid-19 combined with the mocking of basic medical science.

And not for stealing droves of highly classified federal documents and then obstructing federal efforts to retrieve them

No, Trump has been convicted by a New York City jury for paying off a porn star to protect his prospects in the 2016 presidential election.

“A Two-Tiered Criminal Justice System”: Bullshit Walking on Stilts

Don’t get me wrong. The Stormy Daniels-David Pecker-Michael Cohen ruling is a legitimate white collar crime conviction and the multiply accused rapist Trump richly deserves his new status as a felon.

I say we hand his sentencing over to the Central Park Five – the Black and Latino men who were falsely convicted of raping and murdering a white woman decades ago. Trump’s trial occurred in the same courthouse where the five Black and Brown boys were wrongfully convicted in 1989. A judge voided the convictions in 2002.

During the trial of the Central Park Five, the racist real estate mogul Trump purchased full-page advertisements in New York newspapers, including The New York Times, calling for New York state to reinstate the death penalty. He refused to apologize for his actions and ridiculously insisted that the exonerated men might have been guilty when a reporter questioned him about the episode in 2019.

Reasonably described by Noam Chomsky as “the most dangerous criminal in human history” four a half years ago, Trump will get probation at most, this despite his despicable conduct during the trial: threatening, denouncing, and harassing witnesses, jury members, prosecutors, and the judge himself.

Trump and his cult followers have been calling him the victim of a “two-tiered criminal justice system.” How darkly absurd. Protected by high-priced attorneys who have taken the tactics of legal delay and obstruction to record levels, the “billionaire” Trump has spent his business and political career as a walking embodiment of the old working-class maxim on the US legal regime: “money talks, bullshit walks.”

Disproportionately Black and Brown people without money rot for long stretches prior to trial — while presumed innocent— in New York’s notorious and deadly Rikers Jail complex. Trump is convicted on 34 felony counts and he’s out campaigning for the White House the next day. That’s bullshit walking on stilts. The chances of him seeing a day in Rikers are close to zero.

But I digress.

The Stormy payoff was a minor crime compared to Trump’s far more significant and openly fascist ones – the ones having to do with his effort to literally overthrow the republic and institute a de facto dictatorship.

It’s not at all clear that last week’s felony convictions will significantly dent his support in the electorate, which backs him over Biden in all but one of the six contested states that absurdly determine presidential election outcomes under the nation’s archaic Electoral College system.  The guilty verdicts will probably cost him some college-educated Republican votes but likely win him an equivalent if not greater number of non-college-educated and “low information” voters susceptible to his claims of persecution.

What about the (much) bigger criminal cases against Adolph Trump? None of them are going to trial prior to the election that he may well win with help from right-wing voter suppression, the right-tilted Electoral College, and, perhaps, the gerrymandered House of Representatives.  If he wins the election, he will immediately cancel both of the federal cases against him (the Jack Smith-led January 6/election interference case and the classified documents case currently stalled in a federal court in Florida) and nullify the election interference and racketeering case against him in Fulton County, Georgia.

The dismal Weimar/Vichy Dems and the malevolent Republi-fascists share responsibility for this pathetic state of affairs.  Biden’s centrist Attorney General Merrick Garland has exhibited monumental incompetence, inertia, and cowardice in his belated and bungled response to Trump’s attempted overthrow of the US republic.  The Georgia case was made far too complex by Fulton County state’s attorney Fanni Willis and got mired in a sex scandal featuring Willis and her top prosecutor.

At the same time and more importantly, the monumentally illegitimate and corrupt Trump-/Federalist Society-/Mitch McConnell-/Leonard Leo-crafted Christian fascist US Supreme Court has delayed the January 6 trial past the election. The hack Trump-appointed federal judge Aileen Cannon has delayed the classified documents case indefinitely.

The open fascist Trump wins, becoming the first felon POTUS — quite possible, if not likely, despite the 34 convictions last Thursday — and it all goes away.

It’s a complete joke.

In the Meantime, Catastrophe Deepens

Meanwhile we have Joe “Corn Pop” Biden spending billions on imperial war and genocide while barely able to deliver a coherent public address or press conference.  Uncle Joe is trying to tell ordinary people how great the economy (“Bidenomics”!) is under his presidency while masses of ordinary Americans struggle to keep up with toxically high food prices, rents, and mortgage interest rates. Food pantry staff and eviction-servers are working overtime as Biden trumpets his supposedly glorious job creation and “inflation reduction” numbers and stock market indexes. There are homeless camps all over my two locales: Iowa City and Chicago.

Millions of folks are too busy working shit jobs trying to keep their heads above water and pay bills to pay significant informed attention to the nation’s pathological politics.

The climate catastrophe (the biggest issue of our or any time, for what that’s worth) deepens, unabated by oil-drilling Joe Biden’s occasional statements of support for the climate science that Trump rejects while the world capitalist-imperialist system moves ever closer under US “leadership” to the wrong solution to global warming: nuclear winter.

Revolution, anyone?

An earlier version of this essay appeared on The Paul Street Report last weekend

Paul Street’s latest book is This Happened Here: Amerikaners, Neoliberals, and the Trumping of America (London: Routledge, 2022).