Here in the land of the free and the home of the brave, during the last few weeks, the following things have occurred:
A 61-year-old woman was convicted of disorderly conduct after a two-day jury trial in Washington. Desiree Farooz faces a sentence of up to one year in jail for what federal prosecutors described as an attempt to “impede, disrupt and disturb orderly conduct” of a Senate committee hearing back in January. It was the confirmation hearing for the nominee to be the next Attorney General of the United States, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III of Alabama. During the hearing, Alabama Republican Senator Richard Shelby said out loud that Sessions — a renowned racist who for that very reason was once denied a federal judgeship by that very Senate — had a “clear and well-documented” record of “treating all Americans equally.” Ms. Farooz laughed. According to witnesses it was not a particularly loud or prolonged laugh. Other witnesses said it was the only appropriate response to Shelby’s outlandish claim. Capitol police pounced and hauled her away to prison.
In a hallway of the State Capitol Building in Charleston, West Virginia, last week, a veteran reporter, Dan Heyman, was walking alongside the federal Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, asking a question repeatedly without getting a response. Not that it matters, but the question was about the latest Republican health-care-insurance legislation. Without warning a police officer pulled the reporter aside, handcuffed him, and put him in jail for “causing a disturbance by yelling questions.” Heyman said later, after posting bond, that in his 30-years as a journalist he had never heard of a reporter being arrested for asking a question.
A few weeks ago, human rights investigators for the United Nations pointed out what they called an “alarming and undemocratic trend” in the United States. Since the last presidential election, they pointed out, at least 19 states have enacted, or tried to enact, legislation that criminalizes protest demonstrations. Proposals included seizing the assets of anyone arrested in a protest (Arizona); making it legal to run over protesters blocking a roadway (North Dakota); and classifying protests as “economic terrorism,” a felony offense carrying a prison sentence (Washington State). The UN investigators called on the United States to stop trying to criminalize peaceful assembly, which they described as a fundamental right under the US Constitution, not a privilege to be licensed and regulated by the government.
Oh, I almost forgot, this also happened. The President of the United States summarily fired the director of the FBI, who was directing an investigation of the President’s campaign and conduct. The President previously fired the acting attorney-general of the United States, Sally Yates, who was investigating the President’s National Security adviser, and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, who was investigating the President’s campaign and business affairs. These three people had three things in common; they were investigating Trump; they were outstandingly competent and professional; and they had behind them the power of the United States Department of Justice. That power, which has been this country’s last-ditch defense against racketeers, coal barons and corrupt politicians, lies in tatters now, at the feet of a jug-eared racist as attorney general and an empty-headed game-show host playing the part of president.
So those four things happened in the past few weeks. What do you think? Is Amerika great again, yet?