Rule of Law?

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Joann Wypijewski in Sidecar: On 30 May, around cocktail time, a jury in New York criminal court found former president and Republican candidate Donald Trump guilty on all thirty-four counts of falsifying business records to cover up a payoff for Stormy Daniels’ silence in the run-up to the 2016 election. Throughout the five-week trial (on state, not federal, charges), Trump had been crafting the story of its end: the proceedings, and now the verdict, are ‘a disgrace’, ‘rigged’, presided over by ‘a judge who was corrupt’, and all of it – every grand juror and trial juror and prosecution employee and court officer – worked by orders of the Biden Administration. On the legal front, Trump will appeal. On the financial front, the verdict has been a boon, raising $52.8 million for the candidate in twenty-four hours. On the political front, CBS News immediately reported that his campaign vowed to launch ‘a grievance war across the country’.

The grievance war has been ginning up for some time. Every day, many times a day, for years, the campaign, the Republican Party and its sound machine have been broadcasting a twin message of alarm: the law is against us; the law is us. Contradiction is the point. Fear is the operative instrument: while the ‘very innocent man’ suffers, crime stalks every citizen. Immigrants and terrorists flood the country from foreign prisons and mental institutions, raping women, stealing jobs from citizens, driving down their wages, destroying their communities. The country is ‘a mess’, government broken and venal. Law and order lie prostrate, police handcuffed by the woke mob. It’s ‘American carnage’ redux, as bloodletting around the world and ‘Jihad Joe’ represent US impotence or worse – and all of this while January 6 patriots languish in federal prison. ‘Remember, it’s not me they’re after’, Trump’s campaign messages wail, ‘THEY’RE AFTER YOU – I’M JUST STANDING IN THEIR WAY!’

Hence, his mugshot is an election poster; his past, recent and pending trials both persecution and campaign platform. Hence, he promises a cleansing fire:

Patriot, when we win, we’ll have the LARGEST deportation operation in HISTORY!

We will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country.

Today’s victim of a witch hunt is tomorrow’s Grand Inquisitor. Judge Arthur Engoron, who in a civil case in February found Trump, his company, his two sons, the company’s former CEO and former controller guilty of sprawling financial fraud, is ‘whacked out’. Everyone in real estate lies and defrauds insurance companies, banks and assessors, the Trump team claimed; it’s just business. The political strategy has been to inflame emotions: a most instrumental moral panic. The cultural strategy has been to make impunity acceptable, worthy of but a shrug.

More here.

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