A contrast in ethics: SF ICE spokesperson quits rather than lie v. the whitewashing in the House GOP final report on Russian meddling in 2016 election

A spokesperson for U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) just resigned rather than tell a bold-faced lie that Attorney General Jeff Sessions and other ICE officials have been floating. Sessions and other ICE-ers have been complaining that about 800 undocumented immigrants escaped arrest because Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf warned the community that ICE raids were coming. ICE’s San Francisco spokesperson James Schwab knew the real number was much, much lower and recommended that ICE use the correct figure. ICE wouldn’t change its overblown estimate, so Schwab quit.

Good for him! Like the scientists and career diplomats who are abandoning the current administration, Schwab makes us remember that professional ethics and the truth take precedence over the pursuit of money and influence. His act shouldn’t seem heroic, but in our second Gilded Age, it does.

That Schwab’s act of integrity should be reported in the San Francisco Chronicle the same day that Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee abruptly ended their investigation into Russian interference in the last presidential election is the most bitter of ironies. Schwab placed the truth above politics. The Republicans have applied the thinnest of whitewashes to what all indications amounts to an enormous stain of collusion and cover-up. Over the frequent protestations of Democrats and some Republicans, the House investigation has been shoddy—not gathering enough evidence and not interviewing enough people. Moreover, the investigation took ridiculous detours, as when Republicans issued the Devin Nunes-produced memo that purported to show that Robert Mueller’s independent investigation was unwarranted but in fact only revealed that the FBI had plenty of cause to start their investigation (which morphed into the Mueller probe after the firing of FBI director James Comey).

The Republican’s latest conclusion—that Russia interfered in 2016 but not to favor any candidate—reminds me of the three monkeys who see, hear and speak no evil. Or perhaps the dignitaries politely applauding from their special loft as the Emperor sashays by in his birthday suit. Whereas Schwab wants us to look at the facts, House Republicans—and just about all of the current Republican power structure—want us to look away from a horrifying truth.

Republicans are too invested in the Donald Trump phenomenon to walk away from the Donald. Instead they try to protect him by issuing a report that they hope will short circuit the Mueller probe, which seems to be getting ever closer to proving that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to sway the results of the 2016 presidential election in his favor. But by trying to cover-up the truth, the GOP subvert our democracy.

So what else is new?

The right wing, which has pretty much taken over the Republican Party, has done a lot to undermine our democracy over the past decade or so:

  • Established dozens of foundations, research centers and publications that routinely publish shoddy research and self-serving analysis of our economic challenges while pushing the right’s myth-based economic and social agenda.
  • Developed a huge alternative media universe that has spewed the right’s propaganda, pushed its agenda and sought to besmirch every prominent Democratic or progressive candidate.
  • Groomed a generation of Republican candidates and elected officials to be their willing and well-paid toadies.
  • Gerrymandered Congressional districts to give Republicans an edge.
  • Passed a number of laws that make it harder to register to vote and harder to vote.
  • Blocked the nomination of a centrist Supreme Court justice in hopes that a Republican president would nominate a more conservative judge.
  • Held their collective nose as the current administration—perhaps the most corrupt since the establishment of civil service rules in the late 19th century—breaks all rules of ethics in mixing government with private business, exploiting the White House for self-enrichment, using government funds for private inurement and rewarding contributors and cronies.

In the context of these subversions of democracy, perhaps the Republicans consider collusion to interfere with an election as fair play—even if does involve a global adversary trying to weaken us. As with Nixon’s treasonous backroom deal with the South Vietnamese government to postpone the Paris Peace talks until after the 1968 election and Reagan’s surreptitious deal with Iran to postpone release of the hostages in return for secret weapons sales, the Republicans have long tolerated treason in the service of winning elections.

The Republicans have both demographics and ideology against them. On economic and social issues, most Americans are centrists or progressive. Odds are they will look even more leftward politically in the future, as our population continues to become more ethnically diverse and younger voters with more progressive views replace older voters. The only way to maintain control for the benefit of the ultra-wealthy is to fix the system anyway they can.

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