In a thoroughly disturbing opinion piece in The New York Observer, Austin Bay, an adjunct professor at the University of Texas, Austin, argues that the FBI needs to crack-down on “malcontents” and Trump administration political opponents.
Normally, such a rabid screed so antithetical to fundamental Constitutional rights wouldn’t get the time of day. But the fact that it appeared in the New York Observer makes it scary.
The paper used to be an urbane journal of the comings and goings among New York City’s chattering class. But real estate developer Jared Kushner now owns the weekly.
He happens to be married to The Donald’s favorite daughter Ivanka. Jared was a key adviser during the campaign and has the president’s ear on any number of issues. The golden couple is even thinking of moving to Washington, D.C.
Why the paper would suddenly veer into alt-right territory is surprising, especially given that most of its readers live in Manhattan and overwhelmingly support Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
In any event, Bay, a retired U.S. Army Reserve colonel, is a case study of why the Founding Fathers strongly opposed the military’s involvement in politics.
In the article, Bay principally calls on the FBI to “conduct a detailed investigation” into the “violence and political thuggery” that has followed in the wake of Trump’s election.
What’s striking about his position? It’s exactly who he thinks should be targeted.
He’s not referring to white supremacists, anti-Semitic hate groups, neo-Nazis or wack patriot groups.
And, he’s not talking about the rash of Swastikas painted on African-American churches, Southern Ku Klux Klan marches, or defilement of mosques and synagogues.
He’s talking about a “thorough probe” of street protests against Trump’s election and their “possible ties to organizations demanding vote recounts.” You know, like Green Party candidate Jill Stein
In a throwback to the 1950s, Bay blames some of the violence on “Communists” as well as recent groups like Black Lives Matter.
He also thinks FBI Director James Comey should use “elector intimidation” as a justification to round up Trump political opponents.
“Reports that members of the Electoral College are being harassed and threatened by angry, vicious (and likely Democratic Party) malcontents require Comey’s quick and systematic attention,” he writes.
Such wide-ranging investigations, he argues, will “give the Bureau’s integrity-challenged director… a chance to sandblast his sullied badge.”
Of course, everyone should condemn violence and veiled threats. But Bay seems to think “political thuggery” is solely the domain of Trump opponents.
More importantly, what he fails to grasp is that peaceful public protests, vote recount demands and even lobbying members of the Electoral College are all Constitutionally protected activities.
The intent of the Founding Fathers was clear when they drafted The First Amendment.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
What doesn’t he get about that?
“Identifying electors and then attempting to intimidate them into switching their votes is an ipso facto effort to overturn a national election,” he warns, showing once again, he doesn’t have a clue about our Constitutional form of government.
The Founding Fathers explicitly stated that the Electoral College is not bound by the popular vote. Otherwise, Hillary Clinton would now be picking her cabinet. At last count, she had 2.5 million more popular votes than Trump–and rising.
In fact, Founding Fathers such as Alexander Hamilton and James Madison argued in the Federalist Papers that the Electors had a duty to oppose any president-elect who they believed to be unfit for the nation’s highest office.
Trump, by any number of measures, could easily fit that bill.
Bay also waves a red flag about “the money” he sees behind organized protests. It must be coming from somewhere, he reasons, raising the specter of a “conspiracy.”
He even cites as evidence widely discredited fake news stories about protesters being hired through classified ads or being paid by some mysterious mastermind. George Soros? he suggests.
If he’s so worried about the money, he has no one to blame other than right-wing conservatives and the lobbying group Citizens United.
They won a landmark case before the conservative Supreme Court, declaring that spending money was the same as exercising free speech. It allowed groups and wealthy individuals to spend unlimited sums on political activities for any reason.
So, whether his unearthed “conspiracy” is a “coordinated operation” is immaterial; it’s perfectly legal, according to the Supreme Court.
He even wants the FBI to investigate every jerk that spray-paints “Fuck Trump” on a store wall–citing a recent case in Philadelphia– even though that’s clearly a local police matter. Again, no mention of Trump-supporting white supremacists who painted Swastikas on synagogues.
Aside from vandalizing property–a crime–the slogans are clearly permissible under the First Amendment.
Bay is also still baying about Clinton and her private email server, even though the FBI has said–twice–that she didn’t do anything serious enough to merit prosecution. Numerous Republican congressional investigations concluded the same thing.
Even worse, he cynically compares her to Ex-Gen. David Petraeus.
The ex-CIA Director and former Commander of front-line troops through CENTCOM knowingly and wilfully gave top secret information, including the names of CIA field agents, to his civilian mistress, who had no security clearance.
Even so, Petraeus was allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor and received no jail time. Trump recently interviewed him for a top government position, possibly Secretary of State.
Bay clearly isn’t a history professor, otherwise he’d flunk his own class. Let’s hope Kushner has the foresight to leave this screed off the President-elect’s agenda.