Tag Archives: Authoritarianism

colombia

Colombia

•       There are violent riots in Colombia brought about partly because of a proposed tax hike. 

•       It is estimated that 45% of the people in the country are living in poverty.  There are high levels of unemployment.

•       Due to the protests, the proposed tax hike has been withdrawn, but that hasn’t been enough to calm the situation where other grievances are fueling the protests.

•       Political parties have been weakened in Colombia and in effect, ceased to function.  The streets are the only viable political vehicle.

•       “Latin America is going through hell.”  Says Moises Naim, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

•       The consequences of the pandemic have been dire.  Latin America has 8% of the world’s population, but 35% of total Covid deaths.

•       Protest in Latin America is met with arguments of 1) conspiracy – protest is the effect of outside forces (the old “outside agitator” argument;  2) copy cats – this is people copying Hong Kong and other protests; 3) combustion –  people are fed up because of other issues and they take to the streets.

•       There is a covid-enhanced erosion of democratic forms.  There is a concern about decreasing rather than increasing democracy in Latin America.

See the interview with Moises Naim on Amanpour and Company. 

The boot of authoritarianism: if they thought for one minute they could get away with it

Dereck Chauvin put his knee on the neck of George Floyd, stared into the camera and dared us to do anything about it.     

         Donald Trump did exactly what Chauvin did – he put his knee on the neck of democracy, decency, legality. He stared into the camera and dared us to do anything about it.

         Putin has done exactly what Chauvin did – he has put his knee on the neck of Navalny, stared into the camera and dared us to do anything about it.

         These are lessons, authoritarian lessons.  They are demonstrating to us that that they can do whatever they want.  They can even murder one of us right in front of our very eyes and we can’t do a damn thing about it.

         We have won tonight, in the Chauvin case.  We have won because of the mobilization of millions of people putting pressure on the system to live up to its ideals.  We have won because of the courage and discipline of a group of witnesses.  We have won and we can win again.

         We must stand together and stand up to the boot of authoritarian rule on our necks.  We stopped them with the Chauvin verdict.  That’s why the legal system avoids jury trials if at all possible, especially for powerful defendants.  We can, and we must stop them again.  We must demand that the participants in the corrupt crime spree that was the Trump administration are held to account.  We must demand that dangerous men like Putin and the oligarchs that surround him are held to account.

         If we do not see, truly see that these actions are preparations for authoritarianism, they will come back for us. They are obviously not phased in the least by the electoral defeat in 2020.  The tidal wave of voter suppression being orchestrated by the Republicans is just another way to take power because they cannot win it legitimately. It is their way back in power.  We must take them seriously or we will find ourselves in 2022 and 2024 with another authoritarian take-over of the governmental process. If we flirt with that possibility, we may never recover.

         That look you saw on Chavin’s face when he was kneeling there, crushing the life out of a man, is the same look you would see on the face of Bill Barr, Donald Trump, Jared Kushner, Roger Stone, Steve Bannon, Pompeo, Pence, Steven Miller, Manafort and many others while they crushed the life out of anyone who opposed them if they thought for one minute they could get away with it.   If we let them get away with it, they will crush the life out of democracy and our lives will be unalterably changed.  If we don’t take them seriously, if we don’t fight them we will find ourselves living under that knee being given the same compassion and respect Dereck Chavin gave George Floyd. 

DEMOCRACY OR AUTHORITARIANISM, YOU CHOOSE

147 Republican members of Congress voted against seating Joe Biden’s electors.  They moved against accepting the votes of the people in this country based on no evidence that there was a significant problem with the voting system. 

These 147 Republican members of Congress did not win, but they tried to.  There are not 147 Trumps.  These people are Republicans.  They are Republicans who do not support democracy.  But, as of today, they are all still in Congress.

Just like all the other outrages of the Trump administration, the fact that 147 members of Congress tried to throw out the results of an election, is being normalized.  Corporate news anchors are repeatedly asking representatives of the Biden administration how they can claim to seek “unity” when they are proposing legislation that differs from (what purports to be) the Republican agenda. 

The past four years has been difficult, nerve wracking, infuriating, but since the nomination of Biden, it has been even more infuriating.  It is perhaps a bit less stressful since I don’t wake up every morning dreading to find out what the president has done while I was asleep, but the Democrats and the corporate media seen to have learned nothing, NOTHING from the last four years.

The Democrats have not learned how to run against the Republicans, and the corporate media (in the face of an insurrection) is still indulging in mindless bothsidesism.

When Trump was in office, it seemed like a frontal assault, every day.  Now, I have the feeling that the corporate media is playing music while people are relentlessly creeping up behind me. 

Unlike many of the people I know, I feel no relief with the election of Biden.  The Democrats are still talking about “unity” and “bipartisanship” with people who have demonstrated that they want to destroy democracy to maintain their power.  It’s like watching a government negotiate, trying to win over the Naxi party.  It is enraging and it is terrifying.

While the Democrats waltz around congratulating each other for representational appointments, the Republicans are seizing 2022.

In Georgia, Warnock is up for reelection in 2022.  We don’t have six years with Warnock, we have less than two.  We have to do this again.  We have to drag out a win in what is essentially a red state, and we have to do it in a circumstance where the state government is already actively working to eliminate as many potential voters as possible.

In Georgia, Republicans have proposed steps to make it harder to vote by mail and easier to throw out legally cast ballots.  The same Republicans who the corporate media celebrated – Kemp, Raffensperger, Sterling – are beavering away to purge voters from the rolls and make it more difficult for people to vote.

What people need to remember is that Kemp, Raffensperger and Sterling went along with every Trump inspired move to suppress voting except put themselves in criminal jeopardy by changing votes.  They are like the gang members who were perfectly willing to drive the get away car, but not willing to go into the liquor store with the gun.

They will be even more willing to drive the car now because they are trying to get back into the good graces, and the donations, of right-wing supporters.

Across the Country

Emily Singer (1/22/21) is reporting in the Independent that efforts to make it harder to vote are going on in most of the GOP-controlled state legislatures.  They are introducing legislation to make voter registration and voting by mail more difficult.

These voter suppression moves have been practiced by the Republicans for decades, but picked up steam especially after Biden’s win in 2020.  Republicans are daily pointing out the dangers of what they see as “voter fraud” and legitimating moves to keep people from voting in the name of eliminating “voter fraud.”

In Montana, the state House began hearings on a bill which would eliminate same-day voter registration.  This is what the SOS refers to as “election integrity.”  These measures are expected and intended to affect the voting of Native Americans and students.  Both groups vote Democratic by a wide margin.

In New Hampshire, the GOP-controlled House started hearings on a bill that would repeal same-day registration and putt barriers to students who want to vote.  Students must, if the bill is passed, prove that they qualify for in-state tuition before registering to vote.  Republicans passed a similar law ahead of the 2020 election which required students to become permanent residents to vote.  This law was struck down by a judge.

In Arizona, a GOP-run legislature is weighing getting rid of the state’s Permanent Early Vote List, which allows residents to register to receive mail-in ballots automatically. They are also working to impose restrictions on recounts and add other burdens to discourage people from voting.

In Pennsylvania, a Republican state senator introduced a bill that would eliminate no-excuse absentee voting. 

In Mississippi, a Republican state senator proposed a bill which would lock Mississippi from releasing vote totals in presidential elections until after all states had cast their votes in the Electoral College. 

Democrats in the House are working to pass H.R.1, which would require states to implement automatic voter registration and limit their ability to purge voters from the rolls.  An identical bill passed the House in 2019, but McConnell blocked it from getting a vote. 

So, Democrats are trying to make it easier for people to vote.  Republicans, who realize they cannot win if there is a popular vote, are working furiously to purge voting lists and make it more difficult for people to vote. 

One Party is advocating and working for democracy. The other party is fighting against it.  You choose.

Resources

https://americanindependent.com/gop-lawmakers-states-legislation-voter-suppression/

it ain’t over by a long shot, chris hayes, voter suppression and arizona

147 Republican members of Congress voted against seating Joe Biden’s electors.  They voted against accepting the votes of the people based on no evidence that there was a significant problem with the voting system.  These members didn’t win, but that’s how they voted.  There are not 147 Trumps.  These people are Republicans who do not believe in democracy. 

What they were saying was, the people of this country can have an election, but after that election Congress will decide whether they accept what the American people have decided.  As Chris Hayes stated it: You can vote, but if you vote for the wrong person, we will decide.

In Arizona, a member of Congress has introduced a bill giving the legislature the explicit power to override the Secretary of State’s certification of electoral votes.  This bill has a reasonable change of passage.  Again, what this means is that people can vote (as in other countries like Russia) but the vote is meaningless.  A small group of elites decide who will run the country.

As Rep. Ruben Gallego noted on Chris Hayes’ show (1/29/21) the Republican party reacted to losing a presidential election by trying to further restrict who votes (voter suppression) and trying to find means of overthrowing elections they lose.

These people are working, every day, every minute.  They are not going away, and they are going to come back in 2022 stronger than ever.  If anyone has any doubt about this, just watch Fox News or Newsmax for 10 minutes. 

This is no time for waltzing off into the sunset in a delusion of representational politics.  It ain’t over, not by a long shot. 

We don’t need voluntary capitulation

Tuesday 3 November 2020

Even though a Texas Judge ruled that Republicans who sought to throw out 127,000 ballots cast in drive-thru locations in Harris County, Texas did not have standing, Harris County decided to close down most of its drive-thru voting locations overnight.  Why?  The judge in the case, Andrew Hanen, found it necessary to go beyond the legal issues and advance his own political agenda in his opinion.  Hanen wrote that he wouldn’t vote in these drive-thru voting locations, legal or not.

So, this is where we are in this country.  The court now does not even have to rule against the forces of democracy for a county to voluntarily close down entirely legal voting options.

The County Clerk admits that Republicans are pursuing a strategy of trying to keep Americans from voting, and defends the decision as one which will protect votes.  But, in closing down the voting locations what he does, in the long run, is to encourage Repubicans to do exactly what they have done in this case, i.e., bring a completely baseless lawsuit that clearly has no legitimate basis and use it as intimidation to suppress voting.   

It is not the first time Hanen has used his judicial opinions to go beyond the legal issue at hand and pursue his ideological agenda.  He is in fact notorious for doing so. These are the kinds of judges McConnell and the Republicans have stacked the courts with. 

Make no mistake, when Republicans claim that they oppose “activist judges” they are lying.  They support “activist judges” and are appointing them at record levels. 

There are Democrats in the Senate who are complicit in this packing of the courts with right-wing activists.  And, voluntary capitulation is a characteristic of a country descending into authoritarianism.   

OPENING SUBMISSIVE STATEMENT: AMY CONEY BARRETT: HANDMAIDEN OF OPPRESSION

Just note the phrases of submission, of deliberate non-threatening language in the opening statement of ACB. The play here is: Look, this is a soft-spoken, non-threatening, non-intellectual mom, home, apple pie person. How could you be afraid of this? But, make no mistake about it, this woman is the handmaiden of oppression.

Statement:

“I thank the President”  “my family” “I thank” “I am especially grateful” “it has been a privilege” “my family” “my husband” “have been married” “he has been a selfless” “marriage”  Marriage “is easy.”  “far luckier in love than I deserve.”  “parents” “wonderful children.” “parents” “her parents’ “love” “liberal arts” “brought him home” “happy-go-lucky”  “kind” “our delight” “loves watching movies” “mom” “siblings” “dearest friends” “happy” “so grateful” “my parents” “my parents” “life of service, principle, faith and love.”  “grade-school spelling bee” “Dad sang” “devoted teachers” “high school” “literature class” “my first presentation” “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” “feared I had failed” “my professor” “filled me with confidence” “mentor” “degree in English” “passion for words” “legal mentors” “my first job” “continues to teach me” “he is cheering me on”  “from his livingroom” “taught me” “devoted to his family” never let the law define my identity” “discussed the issues with my colleagues” “remain mindful” “I read every word from the perspective of the loosing party” “one of my children was the party””I would understand” “fairly reasoned” “deeply honored”  “sacrifice, particularly from my family” “believe deeply” “humility” “with appreciation” “I was nine years old” “grace and dignity” “When I was 21 years old” “just beginning my career” “forever grateful” “honor of a lifetime” “valued colleague” “I might bring a few new perspectives” “first mother of school age children” “only sitting justice who didn’t attend law school at Harvard or Yale.”  “Maybe I could even teach them a thing or two about football.”  “I would like to thank” “reached out with messages of support” “I believe in the power of prayer” “so many people are praying for me.”  “I pledge faithfully”

The Supreme Court is a nightmare.

Women, just think about where we are. This statement was not an exposition of brilliant legal reasoning. Instead, it was a woman displaying stories about her children, her husband and how wonderful he is, how she might teach men on the Supreme court something ABOUT FOOTBALL. What a f…ing embarrassment. Disgraceful.

Stealing the Election: Behind our Backs and in front of our faces

It is tempting to think that authoritarian governments come to power through sudden and dramatic coups, but often they do not.  Instead, they come to power through a creeping co-opting of authority.  This is the preferred method, the most successful method of taking control. 

A sudden, dramatic take-over of a society provokes resistance.  Sliding the society into authoritarianism accomplishes the same thing, but doesn’t so dramatically jar everybody’s sensibilities.

The Trump Administration could try to cancel the 2020 elections and stay in power.  But, that would draw a backlash, and hopefully a powerful resistance.  The Republicans would prefer to to stay in power through a manipulated election, and that is what they are seeking.  Republicans want the show and appearance of an election without the actuality of an election, i.e., they want a pre-determined outcome.  In other words, they want exactly what Putin has. 

It is clear that the Republicans want to remain in power by manipulating the 2020 election process.  They do not want to bring troops into polling places and seize ballots, but they are not above doing that if they must.  They are clearly planning strategies for both eventualities.    

One of the techniques authoritarian governments use to bring about illegal and unconstitutional change that ensures the maintenance of their power is to test out their intentions ahead of time.  Test, measure reaction, pull back if necessary, test again or go forward.  The history of the Trump/Republican administration is one of using this strategy.

On first consideration, this might seem counter intuitive.  Why would they signal in advance their intention to subvert the law?  Why alert the opposition so they can prepare? 

One very good reason is to inoculate citizens and the media, slowly injecting the idea of electoral intervention a little at the time so that if it becomes necessary, the idea will not be totally new.

First, this means that Republican supporters will be brought along carefully, introducing them to the idea, signaling what may come.  Second, the introduction of the idea allows time to lay the foundation of the argument of why this may become “necessary.”  Third, the advanced announcement, or threat, causes the opposition to go on alert.  As time passes though, and other threats are issued, the heightened sensitivity can’t be maintained, and the opposition relaxes. 

The Republicans have turned this threat/reaction circle into a joke, a way of ginning up outrage among their opposition which they then ridicule.  The legitimate outrage at the idea of the subversion of democracy becomes an object of mockery.  So, Republican supporters know exactly how to react to this moral outrage if and when it actually happens.  They jeer, mock and dismiss.

Fourth, the announcement alerts the opposition, but through repeated threats, the opposition wears down and the heightened sensitivity cannot be maintained.  The press loses interest in even covering the threats because they aren’t new.  The press and the citizenry become desensitized. 

The Republicans have used this tactic repeatedly through various surrogates and through Trump.  At the moment, they are testing the waters of electoral interference through people like Roger Stone.  There are a number of reasons why Roger Stone is not in prison.  First, he was paid off so he would not do a deal with prosecutors and tell them about the Republicans’ various corrupt activities.  Second, Stone functions as an effective mouthpiece.  He publicly says that the Republicans should do this or that.  Then, Republicans wait for the reaction.  That reaction informs them of just how far they can go. 

Roger Stone, stated over the weekend on Alex Jones’s Infowars that Trump and the Republicans should seize total power over the society and jail opponents including Bill and Hillary Clinton should he lose to Biden.  Stone argued that Trump should consider invoking the Insurrection act.  He also recommended arresting Harry Reid. 

Stone said: “The ballots in Nevada on election night should be seized by federal marshals and taken from the state. They are completely corrupted. No votes should be counted from the state of Nevada if that turns out to be the provable case. Send federal marshals to the Clark county board of elections, Mr. President!”

Later, attacking the Democratic governor of Nevada, Steve Sisolak, Trump said: “This is the guy we are entrusting with millions of ballots, unsolicited ballots, and we’re supposed to win these states. Who the hell is going to trust him? The only way the Democrats can win the election is if they rig it.”

On Sunday, on ABC’s This Week, senior Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller also attacked mail-in ballots in Nevada. He also called Sisolak a “clubhouse governor … who, by the way, if you go against him politically … politically speaking, you’ll find yourself buried in the desert.”

So, the Republicans are signaling that they may intervene in the election if it becomes necessary, telling their supporters what to expect and providing a rationale for the clearly illegal and unconstitutional action.

Stone, in the interview, advocated “forming an election day operation using the FBI, federal marshals and Republican state officials across the country to be prepared to file legal objections [to results] and if necessary to physically stand in the way of criminal activity.”

In an interview broadcast on Saturday night, Trump told Fox News he would happily “put down” any leftwing protests about the results of the election.  “We’ll put them down very quickly if they do that,” he told Jeannine Pirro.

As well as signaling his supporters and threatening his opponents, this move is also a head-fake.  In other words, Republicans are shouting from the media mountain tops that they may well physically intervene in the election, seizing ballots, sending in troops.  The corporate media spends hours and hours talking about this and pointing out the obvious fact that it is illegal and unconstitutional.  But, what the Republicans are hoping for, banking on, is that they can accomplish the same take-over of the election process through more covert means, voter purges, voting machine processes that are impenetrable and therefore subject to manipulation, refusing to count mail-in ballots that come in “late,” closing polling places, etc.

The Republicans are stealing the 2020 election.  They are doing so behind our backs and in front of our faces. 

See, the Guardian

https://news.yahoo.com/roger-stone-donald-trump-bring-021241564.html

Stealing the 2020 election. I hope I’m wrong.

Saturday 12 September 2020

It has become obvious to me that the Republican Party is stealing the 2020 election. 

They are stealing it behind our backs and they are stealing it in front of our faces.  All you have to do to come to this conclusion is spend some time researching targeted voter sabotage as practiced by the Republicans since at least 2000. 

But, instead of looking at the evidence and making a plan for what to do when the Republicans pull off yet another theft of a major election, the Democratic Party, the corporate media and regular citizens are busily waltzing off a cliff in a haze of self-congratulatory delusion.  If, they tell us, we just go out and vote, Trump will be defeated, and all will be well.

I do not believe this to be true.  I do not believe it to be true because I cannot look at the evidence that is available and come to that conclusion.

One of the first things you learn as a researcher is to question most what you want to believe.  People in this country WANT to believe that the voting process is fair, that all they have to do is vote.  There is an almost pig-headed refusal to look at the evidence that the voting system is not fair, has been rigged in the past, is being rigged now, and that rigging will likely determine the outcome of the 2020 election.

The Democratic Party leadership and party strategists desperately want to believe that all they have to do is put out ads, analyze polls, make campaign appearances (sometimes) and get out the vote.  This is all they know – conventional campaign tactics.  And, they simply refuse to accept the fact that we have entered a world in which conventional campaign strategies are meaningless.  I don’t care how many polls you analyze, or how well you analyze them, if the vote count is manipulated, your effort will be irrelevant. 

But, on the corporate news programs I listen to hour after hour of discussion of the polls and demographics, and likely voter turn-out.  Corporate news pundits giddily and endlessly talk to other corporate news pundits, none of them willing to acknowledge the fact that if the Republicans do in this election what they have been doing in other elections for two decades, none of the polls and none of the analysis, is relevant.  This means, of course, that the pollsters and strategists themselves are not relevant, and that is one thing they will never admit.  So, they lie to themselves and they lie to us.

With this lie, they make us believe that a corrupted voting system is fair because THEY WANT TO BELIEVE THAT IT IS FAIR.  If it is not fair, if all the traditional campaign strategies are useless, they might have to DO SOMETHING.  They might have to stop rabbiting on endlessly on cable news, stop comparing each other’s living rooms, stop telling jokes and selling a “return to civic grace” as the answer to all our problems.  They might have to do something.  And, that’s the problem.

The demographics of the voting population, the polls, getting out the vote, promoting mail-in ballots, won’t make a damn bit of difference if the Republicans at the state and county level manipulate the vote count to win as they have done in the past.

There is absolutely no reason to believe that they will not manipulate the vote count and a great deal of evidence that they will.  But, by ignoring this fact, the DNC, the strategists and the pollsters and the corporate news pundits keep themselves at the center of a rat wheel of influence, money, talk and activity.

The result, I fear, is that once again on November 4, we will be sitting in our homes looking at stunned corporate media pundits, strategists and pollsters disoriented and wondering how Donald Trump managed to win the electoral college yet again.  They will babble about how amazing it is that the exit polls (if we even have them) could be so wrong.  They will make the excuse that Trump voters don’t show up in the polling because they are ashamed to say they are voting for Trump.  But, they will never, never question the integrity of the voting process itself.

When Trump has apparently secured enough electoral college votes to win, there will be nothing the Democrats and the corporate media and the strategists and the pollsters will be prepared to do.  They will wring their hands and lament.  They will talk about writing strongly worded letters.  But, they will not question the validity of the results of the election and they will not fight to ensure that there is a fair election vote count.  They have never effectively done so in the past and they will not do so in 2020.

Between now and November 3, (in order to try not to go bat-shit crazy) I intend to examine and share the information that is available to demonstrate what is almost certain to happen on November 3. 

I am painfully aware that this is a process that makes people feel uncomfortable.  People do not want to examine or talk about the corruption of the voting system.  It’s inconvenient, it’s frightening, it’s paradigm changing and it means that they might have to DO SOMETHING. 

People struggle to hold on to what makes them feel safe, and if this election is stolen like others before it, it will mean that we will be living in a different world.  People are understandably afraid of that.  But, putting our heads in the sand will not save us.  On the contrary, I believe putting our heads in the sand will leave us disoriented, disorganized, demoralized and even more vulnerable to the onslaught of authoritarianism that will follow if Trump manages to remain in power.

The rights we think we have, the rights that we rely on to conduct daily life, will no longer exist for us, and that is a frightening prospect.  But, no matter how much we want to believe that all we have to do is get out and vote, that desire doesn’t make it a reality.

Even among the community of people who study election sabotage and who have been warning about hackable modems in voting machines, voting systems that cannot be audited, the purging of voter lists, outrageously biased voting rules and a hundred other things that can and will be used to alter the vote count, there is still the tendency to want to argue that “overwhelming turnout” can overcome any voter system sabotage that may occur. 

I simply cannot understand how this makes logical sense. 

If Republicans sabotage the vote count, turnout, “overwhelming” or otherwise will not make that vote count accurate.  If you can change vote tallies you can change thousands of votes or hundreds of votes.  I have asked this question over and over to various experts in the field.  The best answer I get is a rather weak statement about how “overwhelming voter turnout” will make it harder to alter the vote.

But, I don’t even understand the logic of this.  Why will it make it harder?  And how? 

I can cast a vote for one candidate, but I cannot in any way determine how other people in my country cast their votes.  If the county says that I was the only person voting for Biden in the entire county, how am I supposed to contest that?  I have no access to the actual votes.  I have no idea how other people voted.  And, evidently in Georgia, there is not even an auditable vote count. So even if people in authority demanded a “recount,” it wouldn’t make vote sabotage any clearer.

In the state of Georgia, a recount of the votes involves nothing more than putting computer generated ballots through the same scanners a second time.  A human being cannot determine by looking at these ballots who the voter voted for.  The actual vote is recorded in a bar code that is unreadable by a human.  So, a recount is just recounting the same ballots (which might be manipulated) all over again.  That is useless.

I don’t know what to do but try to put together for myself the evidence leading to the conclusion that the Republican Party will successfully steal this election.  It’s there now.  There’s no need to wait until the election to see the outlines of the methods Republicans are using to manipulate the vote.  They are doing it before our eyes.

If you have information, please let me know.  If you have information refuting the supposition, please let me know also.  If you find an argument weak, suggest another one.  I’m open to all reputable information and welcome all critique.  But, I cannot stand silent behaving as if I believe that voting is going to oust Trump and the Republicans.  They have too much to lose to allow this vote to go against them.  And, delusion is dangerous.  In this case will only leave us totally unprepared for dealing with the outcome of another stolen election.

I hope I’m wrong about this.  I truly hope I am wrong, but I do not think I am. 

Authoritarianism: Anonymous Police and the Elimination of Expertise

CNN blurred photo

The Slouch Toward Authoritarianism

Armed federal agents, dressed in combat gear, have been sent into the streets of Portland, Oregon against the wishes of local authorities.  These agents display no identifying information and are taking citizens off the streets in unmarked cars to undisclosed locations.  The agents are reporting to the Department of Homeland Security.

In a strong stand against such unbridled intervention, the House Appropriations Committee just approved a new Homeland Security Funding Bill.

The Oregon Attorney General has sued over the deployment of the federal agents and asked for a restraining order.  The Trump administration is expressing disdain over the objections of local officials and publicity threatened to send more anonymous police into other Demcratic-led cities.

According to an interview on MSNBC (7/20/20) with Ryan Haas, Oregon Public Broadcasting:

  • Protestors are sometimes not even near federal property.
  • People are being taken in for questioning inside the federal courthouse.
  • Charges range from pointing something at federal officers, assault of federal officer, and defacing property.

The administration dismissed warnings of local officials that the actions of the federal agents is making the situation worse.  In fact, that is likely exactly what they want.  They are being sent into Democratic-run cities, generating conflict and confrontation with protestors, in order to scare the suburbs into thinking that violence is widespread and escalating.

DHS, therefore, has been transformed into a political arm for the Republican candidate.

The use of secret police is common in authoritarian governments, but again, as with all the moves toward authoritarian control in this country, the corporate media fails to sound the alarm and normalizes the activities.  While they spend hours and hours talking about Trump’s psychology and dysfunctional family history, they have no commentators talking about the implications of using the federal government as instruments of political power.  In addition, CNN, is blurring out the faces of the federal agents so that they can’t be recognized.

In another move common, indeed essential, to authoritarian leaders, Trump is installing loyalists to senior roles at the Pentagon.  These toadies are being put in place as “acting” officials, thus skirting a Senate confirmation process.  The administration just announced that they are assigning a 33-year-old White House chief technology officer to be the head of the research and engineering for the entire Department of Defense.

The man has a bachelor’s degree in political science and is replacing a man with a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering.

The Trump administration is discussing installing a “Fox News regular” to be the Pentagon’s top policy official.

The assurance of loyalty and the elimination of expertise is essential to establishing authoritarian rule.  We have seen this play out during the Trump administration in the State Department, the CDC, and now the Pentagon.

Notes From “Hiding in Plain Sight” by Sarah Kenzior

Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America

Kendzior, Sarah

“To millionaire elites, many of whom already had an apocalyptic bent, a depopulated world is not a tragedy but an opportunity—…”

“American exceptionalism—the widespread belief that America is unique among nations and impervious to autocracy—is the delusion that paved Trump’s path to victory.”

“Oligarchs and government officials have a synergistic relationship aimed at streamlining state corruption and facilitating white-collar crime.”

“Deutsche Bank—is notorious for facilitating Russian money-laundering.”

Harry “Reid wrote that Russian operatives sought to falsify election results and begged Comey to give the American people the full story before they went to the polls.”

“Comey refused, and refused again after Reid wrote a follow-up letter in October.”

“Once an autocrat gets into office, it is very hard to get them out. They will disregard term limits, they will purge the agencies that enforce accountability, they will rewrite the law so that they are no longer breaking it. They will take your money, they will steal your freedom, and if they are clever, they will eliminate any structural protections you had before the majority realizes the extent of the damage….That is why it is important to act early…”

“Trump is part of a complex illicit network including individuals from Russia, Saudi Arabia, Israel, the United Kingdom, the United States, and more—some of whom do not have loyalty to any particular country. Their loyalty is to themselves and their money. Many are criminals without borders who have moved from hijacking businesses to hijacking nations. Some call them fascists; I avoid this term because being a fascist requires an allegiance to the state. To these operatives, the state is just something to sell.:

“This elite criminal network has been building for decades. It is linked to other groups: right-wing Republican extremists, apocalyptic religious movements of varied faiths, social media corporations, advocacy groups like the National Rifle Association, and parts of the mainstream media.”

“But over the course of decades, disparate parties have joined together to destroy democracy.”

“Naomi Klein phrases it, “disaster capitalists” who see opportunity in a dying planet, and who will spare no expense in pursuit of their own preservation.”

“His rise was made possible by a coterie of criminals who do not want to be punished but delight in being caught. Flaunting their criminal impunity is part of the thrill.”

“Their belief that they would never be held accountable is logical since they had never faced serious consequences despite spending decades committing illegal acts. In fact, they had reaped ample rewards. Now, finally, they had the greatest reward of all: the power to rewrite law itself.”

“…vulnerable people waited for responsible officials to intervene. They are still waiting.”

“Pundits and politicians like to say that “No one saw it coming,” but what they mean is that they consider the people who saw it coming to be no one.”

“February 2014, he went on Fox News to defend Russia. Why a reality TV host was on Fox News defending Russia is its own story, but here is what he said about his desired outcome for the United States: “You know what solves it? When the economy crashes, when the country goes to total hell and everything is a disaster. Then you’ll have a [chuckles], you know, you’ll have riots to go back to where we used to be when we were great.”

“Public leverage is disappearing along with the concept of the public good as a priority of the powerful.”

“What they’re trying to do is establish power: they are lying to flaunt power. They are saying to us: ‘We know that you know that this is a lie, and we don’t care, because there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.’”