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comment by kleinbl00
kleinbl00  ·  5 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: August 3, 2022

I've been grappling with this. I've been grappling with the naysayers who insisted American democracy would die November 2019. I've been grappling with all the journalists and pundits born under authoritarianism or whose countries slipped into authoritarianism pointing at the US and going "you're next." I've been grappling with Tim Snyder, who wrote an entire book about the rise of Hitler and then taped on a couple dozen paragraphs that went "because Germany therefore USA."

And by god it's made me an American exceptionalist.

There's a bit in last night's For All Mankind (no spoilers) where the president is dealing with a very Lewinsky-like dilemma and says "but if I do that it will weaken the office of the presidency for me and every president who comes after" and I almost said "like that's a bad thing" aloud. 'cuz that's how we got William Barr. Dude wanted a unitary executive, Trump wanted a unitary executive, and Barr lied to himself about whether or not Trump was fit to lead.

I think Trump has weakened the office of the presidency, and I think that's about the only good thing he did. Much like Congress didn't want anybody running for a 3rd term for president after FDR won it, a lot of shit Trump did won't be doable in the future. But more than that, I think anyone with a sober understanding of American politics wouldn't have done most of the shit Trump did. He didn't have a plan, he was probing for weakness. Dude took a pop quiz on executive authority and failed. And I think the only way we end up with another Trump is if somehow everyone on both sides of the aisle manages to not learn a single goddamn thing and we somehow stumble into another feckless, vainglorious narcissist in a time when both parties are offering up heaping plates of bullshit for the electorate to swallow.

I don't like Mitch McConnell, but I recognize that he's an exemplar of how an effective legislator becomes a powerful man. I don't like Dick Cheney, but I recognize that he's an exemplar of how a backroom dealer becomes a powerful man. I don't like Paul Ryan, but I recognize that he's an exemplar of how a charismatic politician becomes a powerful man. And I draw the conclusion that Paul Ryan hung up his spurs because there can be only one.

We don't talk about the National Front, we talk about Marine Le Pen. We don't talk about Fidesz, we talk about Viktor Orban. We do talk about the Five Star Movement but only in terms of spoilers now that Conti's out. And we do that in a legendarily fractious political system that elected a porn star in the '80s. When a populist took over Italy? He took it over again and again and again. Berlusconi knows what to do with power, and he knows what he can do with it. In a political system like Italy, he's got a lot of room to run.

Trump is like a fail version of Berlusconi. He couldn't assume the presidency without conditions being perfect, and once assumed, he accomplished fuckall. I don't even think that's Trump's fault - in order to govern a bureaucracy you need to be a decent bureaucrat but in order to run as a populist you must eschew bureaucracy.

I've come around, more and more, to contemplating Trump as a vaccine for democracy. It was fuckin' rough, we thought we were gonna die, but we're in the process of generating a fuckton of antibodies.

Fuckin' Kansas, dawg. Kansas should have been a shitshow:

    Why would members of the legislature schedule a vote on a proposed Constitutional amendment for a primary election? In Kansas, primary elections are closed, meaning normally only registered Republicans and Democrats vote. And in Kansas, registered Republicans (851,882) vastly outnumber Democrats (495,574). Registered independents in Kansas (560,309) could vote on the Constitutional amendment but aren't in the habit of showing up to primaries. Further, in the high-profile Governor's race, incumbent Laura Kelly (D) was running unopposed.

    So the anti-abortion legislators behind the Constitutional amendment were hoping for a smaller electorate that was skewed toward opponents of abortions rights.

    Then, they made the text of the Constitutional amendment itself incredibly confusing:

        Because Kansans value both women and children, the constitution of the state of Kansas does not require government funding of abortion and does not create or secure a right to abortion. To the extent permitted by the Constitution of the United States, the people, through their elected state representatives and state senators, may pass laws regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, laws that account for circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, or circumstances of necessity to save the life of the mother.

    The proposed text makes it seem like the Kansas government funds abortions, which it does not. It also makes it seems like voting for the proposed amendment means voting in favor of allowing abortion in cases of rape, incest, or life of the mother. But that isn't true either. The impact of the proposed amendment would be to allow the legislature to ban abortion, with no requirement that the ban include any exceptions.

    If that wasn't confusing enough, a PAC run by former Kansas Congressman Tim Huelskamp (R) sent out deceptive text messages to Kansas voters falsely stating that voting YES would protect abortion rights.

Things went better than expected:

    The number of people who voted against the Constitutional amendment (534,134) exceeded the combined number of Democrats who voted in the primary and independents who just voted on the Constitutional amendment (445,155). That means that a significant number of Republican voters — in excess of 20% — also opposed clearing the way for an abortion ban.

Eventually, all this bullshit has to hit the bulk of the population. The bulk of the population of Kansas does not want the legislature to revoke their constitutional right to abortion. And the bulk of the population of the United States did not want Donald Trump to take away any part of their American experience.

And I don't think that's an anomaly. I think that's the system at work.





am_Unition  ·  4 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I think Snyder's legitimized himself at least somewhat a little with his warnings on Ukraine borne out. Until he and other leading scholars of fascism stop sounding the alarm bell, I'll probably be unsuccessful at ignoring them.

    a pop quiz on executive authority and failed.

LOL no, he got a 100, you dimbo!! "Article 2 allows me to do anything I want" "Grab 'em by the pussy, they'll let you do it" motorboating Rudy Giuliani in drag... Seriously, how hard is it to edit those three audio-video clips together (he says, but doesn't do it)? The "they go low, we go high!" shit is so incredibly ineffective right now.

    Trump as a vaccine for democracy

It's just wild that this is still up for debate in the body politic. We've had this talk before, and yes, Trump should have wised us up to every glaring flaw in the assumption that the people (even a sizeable minority) will reliably elect someone even relatively fit for POTUS. Or a POTUS who'd perform his duties in good faith, maybe sometimes. Rather than the libertarian ("thus, government itself is always doomed to failure") or the aristocratic interpretation ("thus, elites should elect and govern"), I think it's most salient to focus on what's driving the departure from a U.S. model that's generally worked, at least in recent American history. What has changed most is the information ecosystem, obvz. 90's talk radio, then Fox, then alt-right + social media. There has been no real progress made on combating this threat. The Biden admin task force to target disinformation got slain in the press via disinformation, and was promptly abandoned. Classic 21st century dem.

    Kansas

    Eventually, all this bullshit has to hit the bulk of the population.

I've been thinking the same thing about Texas. The six-week ban with vigilante enforcement went into effect in December. Now it's less of "have any family out of state?" and more of "lucky enough to have any family in this subset of states, and/or $$$'s to blow??". I confirmed with my doctor that TX hospitals are now withholding healthcare from women in even higher numbers since the Roe repeal. Advised by corporate legal to perform no abortion until the woman is measurably dying. It's fucked because it'll take a while to build the statistics, and by the time you have a study saying "yes so Samuel Alito has killed several thousand vessels", we're at 10k+ or whatever.

In a few years, this court will probably be empowered enough to strike down any congressional attempts at litigating abortion rights. It's so shitty that the Trump years gave us not only the enduring big lie bullshit, but a fundy, delusional SCOTUS. He's back to praising SCOTUS at his rallies after doing the "didn't have the courage" thing with them too last year. I gather that he might finally understand they never had a chance to take up a case, literally everything fraud claims-related was thrown out in the lower courts, but, more importantly, he understands how valuable of an asset they might become for him. However, Trump is not currently claiming credit for SCOTUS. Reportedly he's worried about public opinion on Roe.

    the system at work

We'll see. I still think it's prolly too late to stop the fascist theocrat coup. It will go "OK boss, one government, here ya go. All yours!", then "Hmm, and what is it, exactly? Can I whack people with it?", then "Oh no!! It's gone. It's fine though", then "OK, maybe things are worse than ever, but the groomers did it!". The seeds of transphobic paranoia are so clearly being planted, there's like a new burst of trans-hate disinfo every few days. It's fucking disgusting. Trump's longest segment in every rally now is one in which he amps the threat of trans athletes, because a fascist can never pass up an opportunity to repeatedly misgender trans females. The entire "intellectual dark web" (hahahhahah) right now is completely obsessed with genitalia. Even my mom regretfully conceded to me that anti-LGBT sermons and messaging has been noticeably increasing in their church.

The alt-right probably finds the most important benefit of stoking transphobia atm is capturing the TERF "centrists". NYTimes even had a TERF op-ed. I think the campaign has been more successful than most realize, and it's probably intended to mitigate some of the losses they'll incur from Dobbs. I do agree that the loss of GOP voters will still very much outweigh the gain.

Sure, just like with abortion, the vast majority of people want to preserve LGBTQ+ rights, but the White Christofascist minority will damage the election process to whatever extent required (or further!) to preserve minority rule. I think we're probably above critical threshold for the amount of big liars who've won their primaries. Many could go on to have close November counts that are also varying degrees of artfully sabotaged, simply because it was helpful to the GOP. And I betcha ~ 40% or more of all GOP losers refuse to concede. Like at every level. Obviously, everyone should still vote. We will usually have ways of knowing, sooner or later, if any Trumpers tamper with the counts.

I think if the dems lose either branch of congress, that could be "the fat lady sings". Congressional GOP will try some outrageous maneuvering to win the electoral college. I agree that you at least gotta try to legislate against it, but apparently it's damn near impossible to make them not ultimately break the law. They'll also begin congressional hearings to fabricate a narrative for a future nutzo DoJ AG to prosecute the J6 committee with. That should be fun.

am_Unition  ·  4 days ago  ·  link  ·  

It's worth an entirely new comment to point out the recent hijacking of monkeypox public health guidelines with anti-gay disinfo. The attacks are dialed up and more frequent, lately, with the emergency declaration. Running the AIDS playbook.

GOP fascists are comfortable demonizing larger and larger groups. It's really progressing fast.

kleinbl00  ·  3 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    GOP fascists are comfortable demonizing larger and larger groups. It's really progressing fast.

This is the direct consequence of isolationism. The fewer people there are in your group, the more enemies there are in the outgroup. This is a point I keep making, and you keep not hearing: the more you isolate yourself from the mainstream, the less the mainstream supports you. Take the GOP's recent misadventures in Kansas, for example: 20% of the GOP electorate decided they didn't trust the GOP legislature with abortion.

Tom Hanks had AIDS thirty years ago. Antonio Banderas was his boyfriend. The GOP can absolutely run the AIDS playbook but Ryan White would be fuckin' 50 if he hadn't died prior to the Gulf War. They might as well run against miscegenation. Yeah - there will always be people for whom AIDS is the gay plague and yeah - of late, they have a lot more voice than they used to, and a lot-lot more voice than they should.

But that voice is growing hoarse and faint.

kleinbl00  ·  3 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Snyder's schtick is "Hitler is everywhere" which was not borne out in Ukraine. Oliver Stone tried real hard to make the argument that Ukrainians are natural Nazis and events since the 2014 invasion have gone exactly the opposite way.

    Trump should have wised us up to every glaring flaw in the assumption that the people (even a sizeable minority) will reliably elect someone even relatively fit for POTUS.

Literally no one thinks this. Literally no one has argued this. The beef since the 13 colonies has been that the peasants will elect fools. It's literally why the Senate exists. My argument, for purposes of quotation, is that the un-elected officials are more interested in their jobs as they know them than in their jobs as imagined by populists. That is the nature of bureaucracy - like cancer, it does what it wants, not what the body wants.

    I think it's most salient to focus on what's driving the departure from a U.S. model that's generally worked, at least in recent American history.

Read WEB Dubois. The model doesn't "generally work" or else Kennedy wouldn't have had to deploy national guard troops against George Wallace. The model is contentious AF, you just grew up in Texas in an era where the Republicans were busy winning one for the Gipper.

    What has changed most is the information ecosystem, obvz. 90's talk radio, then Fox, then alt-right + social media.

The information ecosystem is always changing. From broadsheets to subscription journalism to unregulated radio to the FCC to the Fairness Doctrine to the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine to Cable to Internet to Social Media, stability lasts 10 years max. Rush Limbaugh has fuckall on Father Coughlin.

    In a few years, this court will probably be empowered enough to strike down any congressional attempts at litigating abortion rights.

The Supreme Court is not inviolate and unchanging, it's just that the investment necessary to change it has been too great. The recent overreach has likely changed that calculus.

I keep coming back to that quote from Active Measures: nations that govern by consent don't get to lie to their populace, nations that govern by fear can say whatever they want. Fundamentally? Donald Trump gambled that the transition between "governance by consent" and "governance by fear" was achievable with his resources. When you look at it that way, he was MILES away.

Something that hasn't come up is the assumption that if Trump had managed to pull off the presidency he would somehow hold the presidency. This is like Bush seizing Baghdad and then presuming the US would be welcomed as liberators, The End. Fuckin' Trump couldn't bring the goddamn FDA to heel, you think liberals would fall in line with a coup? Why, exactly? You think the military would cheerfully crack skulls? You think the police would deputize enough Proud Boys to unleash the 4th reich? Then what? There's a really annoying belief on the left that Trump nearly overthrew America, rather than recognizing that Trump couldn't even overthrow the fucking Secret Service. There's an even more annoying belief that having shown his cards, he's somehow going to whip out six extra decks and somehow convince the country that he got a royal straight flush with his next hand and everyone will go "oh, okay, guess my kids are growing up in a kleptocracy now."

    The seeds of transphobic paranoia are so clearly being planted, there's like a new burst of trans-hate disinfo every few days.

Bitch I grew up with legitimate gay-bashers. Guys who would find homosexuals to rough up just for being homosexual, knowing they could do it with impunity. I grew up with everyone mocking kids that talked with so much as a lisp or used hand gestures a little too effeminately. Go look up some of the moral hand-wringing over Annie Fucking Lennox, let alone Boy George. Fucking Dee Snyder had to testify before fucking Congress. Would the Republicans like to go back to 1961? A lot of 'em would, hell yeah, just without the taxes and unions, please. But you're literally talking about great-grandparents remembering their childhoods fondly, not a master plan for a theocratic oligarchy.

    Trump's longest segment in every rally now is one in which he amps the threat of trans athletes, because a fascist can never pass up an opportunity to repeatedly misgender trans females. The entire "intellectual dark web" (hahahhahah) right now is completely obsessed with genitalia.

A furry went into space. Just four years ago you were allowed to openly mock furries. I care not what the "intellectual dark web" obsesses over so long as they make no traction with it. And them fukkas are sliding down the hill.

Everything else you have to say is reflexive doom-scrolling. None of it is based on anything, other than the fact that you live in Texas.

I hosted a couple from Texas yesterday. They reminded me of the Serbian girl I dated 2 years after NATO bombed her house. One of them life-long, the other 30-year, both of them ready to jump in the wheel well to make it through Checkpoint Charlie. And that's the thing - there's a pain point for this shit. Here's a question everyone can answer: are you happier now than you were before Trump was in office?

ThurberMingus  ·  3 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Fun context on Coughlin is that his audience is estimated at ~30M when the population was 120 to 130M, while Rush had an audience of 15M while the population was 300M+.