Donald J. Trump Is the Greatest Threat the US Has Ever Faced

08/26/2017 07:14 pm ET

On August 26, 2017, President Trump pardoned Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who had been convicted of "criminal contempt for violating a federal court order to stop racially profiling Latinos." 

At his Phoenix rally on Tuesday, Trump hinted that he may pardon Arpaio because he was convicted for "doing his job."

Unfortunately, none of this surprised me after having engaged in a discussion on the subject with a friend of mine, who happens to be a Deputy Sheriff and whose worldview differs greatly from mine, politically and otherwise. 

During that conversation, he said that Arpaio had done nothing wrong and that his conviction was merely political in nature. He described Arpaio as old fashioned in his approach and opined that many of the problems in our society today stem from the fact that such an approach to law enforcement is no longer acceptable. Among other things, he mentioned that Arpaio had inmates wear pink underwear, which clearly impressed him.

During our long discussion, he commented that while he's aware that some law enforcement officers are bad apples, he's never met any of those bad apples in his entire career.

It bears mentioning that he's only a few years away from retirement, so I'm not referring to a rookie. Interestingly enough, he also works for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Lee Baca, the former Sheriff of that Department, was recently sentenced to "three years in federal prison for his role in a scheme to obstruct an FBI investigation of abuses in county jails, marking an end to a corruption scandal that has roiled the Sheriff’s Department for several years."

The following is an excerpt from an article by Alison Taylor titled What Do Corrupt Firms Have in Common? Red Flags of Corruption in Organizational Culture that was published by the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity:

"[L]eadership plays the most critical role in determining whether a firm’s culture is vulnerable to corruption. Employees mirror leaders’ behavior, which can create group norms that tolerate corruption. Interviewees mentioned arrogance, complacency, and opacity as leadership traits that encourage corruption."

By no means am I questioning whether my friend has ever engaged in corruption during his career in law enforcement. However, what I am saying is that the reason he claims never to have met any law enforcement officers who would qualify as bad apples likely stems from his personal background and life experiences, including having worked in a Department whose leader from 1998 through 2014 was later convicted for his role in a corruption scandal. 

In fact, at some point, we began discussing how parents might unintentionally raise children who later find themselves on the wrong side of the law. 

For example, I told him about a study that had been released in 2016 regarding the risks of harm from spanking children. 

I read him the following excerpt from an article titled Risks of Harm from Spanking Confirmed by Analysis of Five Decades of Research:

"The study looks at five decades of research involving over 160,000 children. The researchers say it is the most complete analysis to date of the outcomes associated with spanking, and more specific to the effects of spanking alone than previous papers, which included other types of physical punishment in their analyses....
The more children are spanked, the more likely they are to defy their parents and to experience increased anti-social behavior, aggression, mental health problems and cognitive difficulties, according to a new meta-analysis of 50 years of research on spanking by experts at The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Michigan....
Gershoff and Grogan-Kaylor tested for some long-term effects among adults who were spanked as children. The more they were spanked, the more likely they were to exhibit anti-social behavior and to experience mental health problems. They were also more likely to support physical punishment for their own children, which highlights one of the key ways that attitudes toward physical punishment are passed from generation to generation....
As many as 80 percent of parents around the world spank their children, according to a 2014 UNICEF report. Gershoff notes that this persistence of spanking is in spite of the fact that there is no clear evidence of positive effects from spanking and ample evidence that it poses a risk of harm to children’s behavior and development....
Both spanking and physical abuse were associated with the same detrimental child outcomes in the same direction and nearly the same strength."

Having never before heard of the Study and knowing nothing other that what I read him, my friend said he disagreed with it. 

It didn't matter to him that this was based upon a meta-analysis, which means that it considered the findings from numerous, large scale studies over 5 decades, involving over 160,000 children. Such a large sample size makes it incredibly difficult to challenge the results; yet, he did just that, offering absolutely no support for his opinion other than his personal beliefs.

Mind you, the Study found that "there is no clear evidence of positive effects from spanking and ample evidence that it poses a risk of harm to children’s behavior and development." Some children are more resilient than others. However, if there is no upside and only serious potential downsides, why take the risk? 

Then, considering the fact that my friend had no problem whatsoever with Arpaio forcing his inmates to wear pink underwear, I brought up social science researcher Brene' Brown's shame research.  

According to Brene' Brown, Ph.D., "shame is very correlated with addiction, depression, suicide, aggression, violence, bullying, and eating disorders."

Do we really want our law enforcement officers doing things that will have no positive upside and such potential downsides?

Again, my friend disagreed with such research and offered absolutely no support for his opinion other than his beliefs. 

I could be mistaken; however, I've come to the belief that the differences in our worldviews relate to our respective parents' parenting style, by which I don't mean to imply that my parents deserve any awards or accolades for their parenting. For that matter, I really like my friend's parents and am very aware of his very close relationship with them. I do; however, know that my friend praises the benefits of authoritarianism in both parenting and otherwise. 

Gwen Dewar, Ph.D. describes authoritarian parenting as follows in her article titled The authoritarian parenting style

"We might think of boot camp, with the parent as drill sergeant. A drill sergeant insists on unquestioning obedience. He punishes autonomy. His purpose is to 'break' the will, so he can reshape people according to an absolute standard....
When psychologist Diane Baumrind first proposed her definition of authoritarian parenting, she cited the 18th century views of Puritan Susannah Wesley--not military training techniques. But the ideas were pretty much the same (Baumrind 1966).
According to Baumrind, authoritarian parents:
Don’t encourage verbal give-and-take. Are 'obedience- and status-oriented, and expect their orders to be obeyed without question.' Tend to control their children through shaming, the withdrawal of love, or other punishments. Don’t usually attempt to explain the reasons for rules.
Other researchers have restated Baumrind’s definition in terms of two factors:
1. Warmth, also known as 'responsiveness.' This quality is defined as 'the extent to which parents intentionally foster individuality, self-regulation, and self-assertion by being attuned, supportive, and acquiescent to children’s special needs and demands' (Baumrind 1991).  
2. Control, also known as 'demandingness.' This refers to “ the claims parents make on children to become integrated into the family whole, by their maturity demands, supervision, disciplinary efforts and willingness to confront the child who disobeys" (Baumrind 1991)….
Authoritarian parents how high levels of control, but only low levels of warmth."

Dewar explains the potential consequences of authoritarian parenting in Authoritarian parenting: What happens to the kids?, which provides in part as follows:

"Kids from authoritarian families are less resourceful, less socially-adept, and more likely to become involved in bullying.
This generalization appears to apply across a variety of cultures. Kids from authoritarian families may find it more difficult to fend for themselves and make friends. And they are at higher risk for involvement in bullying -- both as perpetrators and as victims.
Examples?
The United States Studies of American adolescents have reported that teens with authoritarian parents were the least likely to feel socially accepted by their peers. They were also rated as less self-reliant (Lamborn et al 1991; Steinberg et al 1992; Steinberg et al 1994).
In addition, a recent study of U.S. college students found that students raised by authoritarian parents were more likely to engage in acts of bullying (Luk et al 2016)."

Putting this into context with regard to my friend's perception of Arpaio and his "old fashioned approach", the Phoenix New Times Tweeted as follows after learning of the pardon:

"We've been covering Joe Arpaio for more than 20 years. Here's a couple of things you should know about him... 1/many
He ran a jail that he described as a 'concentration camp.'
Prisoners there died at an alarming rate, often without explanation. 
One of his jailers nearly broke the neck of a paraplegic guy who had the temerity to ask for a catheter. 
One time, as a publicity stunt, he marched Latino prisoners into a segregated area with electric fencing. 
Here's a couple of other examples of what went on in his jails:
He ran an ongoing 'mugshot of the day' contest on the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office website.
He arrested New Times reporters for covering him. We won a $3.75 million settlement for that one.
Under him, the MCSO failed to investigate hundreds of sex abuse cases, many of which involved children.
But he somehow found time and money to send a deputy to Hawaii to look for Barack Obama's birth certificate.
Oh, and one time he staged an assassination attempt against himself? That was weird.
In 2013, a federal judge confirmed what literally everyone in Phoenix knew: he'd been racially profiling Latinos.
So naturally, he hired a PI to investigate the judge and his wife.
He also kept on profiling people, which is why he got charged with contempt of court (and was found to be guilty AF)
He also tried to destroy some of the hard drives containing material that was supposed to be turned over the court.
By 2015, his fondness for racial profiling had cost the county more $44 million. On top of, you know, ruining lives.
He also paid millions to settle lawsuits like this one, where deputies stood by as an inmate was brutally beaten.
Because this is the Old West or something, he had a 'Sheriff's Posse.' One member got arrested on child porn charges
His office was responsible for countless fiascos like this botched SWAT raid, where deputies set a puppy on fire."

Among many other things, Phoenix New Times failed to mention that he forced his inmates to wear pink underwear.

Is my Deputy Sheriff friend correct that Arpaio's conviction was entirely political and that he did nothing wrong?

To reach such a conclusion requires a complete disregard for the rule of law. 

Criminal "contempt of court generally refers to conduct that defies, disrespects or insults the authority or dignity of a court."

The court order that Arpaio violated was an order that he cease and desist from racially profiling Latinos, in violation of the rule of law.

Regardless of your personal beliefs regarding racial profiling, in 1996, the United States Supreme Court found that "searches or arrests motivated by race are 'unreasonable' under the Fourth Amendment" and therefore unconstitutional. For what it's worth, it was a unanimous decision. 

In 2003, the Department of Justice under the George W. Bush administration issued a fact sheet regarding racial profiling which stated that "Racial Profiling Is Wrong and Will Not Be Tolerated." 

How then is racial profiling in violation of the law and then violating a court order demanding that Arpaio cease and desist from violating the law his job? 

Sheriffs and other law enforcement officers are responsible for enforcing the laws, which is why they're called law enforcement officers.

"The World Justice Project's definition of the rule of law is comprised of the following four universal principles:
1. Accountability
The government as well as private actors are accountable under the law.
2. Just Laws
The laws are clear, publicized, stable, and just; are applied evenly; and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property and certain core human rights.
3. Open Government
The processes by which the laws are enacted, administered, and enforced are accessible, fair, and efficient.
4. Accessible & Impartial Dispute Resolution
Justice is delivered timely by competent, ethical, and independent representatives and neutrals who are accessible, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve."

"The principle is intended to be a safeguard against arbitrary governance, whether by a totalitarian leader or by mob rule. Thus, the rule of law is hostile both to dictatorship and to anarchy."

Placing Trump's pardon of Arpaio into proper perspective, Donald J. Trump is the President of the United States of America. As such, he is the head of the Executive Branch of our government, which is responsible for carrying out the laws - enforcing them. 

By pardoning Arpaio and saying that he was convicted merely for doing his job, Trump has made it crystal clear that he doesn't believe in the Rule of Law and has no intention of carrying out the laws. 

"Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:—'I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.'"

As President of the United States of America, Donald J. Trump is doing the exact opposite. Since he is the head of the Executive Branch of our government, Trump is the greatest threat our nation has ever faced.

Meanwhile, those who voted for and continue to support Donald Trump claim to believe in "law and order", based upon their beliefs in the value of authoritarianism. Unfortunately, however, not all beliefs are fact-based, regardless of how sincerely held they may be.

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