The Road Map Back From Authoritarianism

“Experts in authoritarianism advise keeping a list of things changing, subtly, around you, so you’ll remember. Days after the 2016 presidential election, I started a list. Each week, I chronicle the ways Donald Trump has changed our country. This selection, adapted from more than 34,000 entries — or about 1 percent of the total — focuses on the norms he and his administration have broken. The List offers us a road map back to normalcy and democracy.”

-Amy Siskind, “This is not normal:
A guide to what the next president will have to unwind.
The Washington Post. October 16, 2020.

Doom scrolling, at its very best.

Cosmopolitan Values

“But over the past 60 years, college graduates have gone from being 4 percent of the electorate to being more like 35. Now, it’s actually possible — for the first time ever in human history — for political parties to openly embrace cosmopolitan values and win elections; certainly primary and municipal elections, maybe even national elections if you don’t push things too far or if you have a recession at your back. And so Democratic elites started campaigning on the things they’d always wanted to, but which had previously been too toxic. And so did center-left parties internationally.”

—Eric Levitz, “David Shor’s Unified Theory of American Politics.” New York Magazine. July 17, 2020

Guns Don’t Kill People; Schools Do

“Having actively contributed to the loss of lives, Trump is going to have to get very creative in citing any that he’s saved. That said, last month was the first March without a school shooting since 2002, so maybe he could credit himself with the new approach to the US school shootings problem currently being trialled. Which is to say: no schools. All that time parent activists have spent trying to limit guns, it turned out that the smart way to do it was just to shut schools. Really makes you think. Do expect to see the National Rifle Association unveil a new slogan in the coming months: Guns don’t kill people; schools do.”

—Marina Hyde, “Hancock’s channelling James Blunt, Raab looks terrified. But at least we’re not the US.” The Guardian. April 17, 2020.

Savage.

Scalzi on Impeachment

Of course, this is just going to make Trump more, well, Trump. The man has never understood why people wouldn’t just let him be king, and narcissists never react well to blows to the ego. If you think he’s lost his shit and been completely unreasonable before, just you wait. Things are going to get worse, much worse, especially if, in fact, Speaker Pelosi frustrates McConnell’s plan for a rubber-stamp acquittal in the Senate. And while there is some schadenfreude to be had with Trump spinning in tight, angry circles about this, at the end of the day he’s still president, he’s still a petty, vindictive little shit of a human, and he has enablers. Expect bad news from this dude. More than usual, I mean, and including directives and policies and proclamations that will energize his most bigoted and violent supporters.”

-John Scalzi, “Impeachment Thoughts.” Whatever. December 19, 2019.

John Scalzi says everything that needs to be on the topic of impeachment.

The Trump-Zelensky Conversation

“For present purposes, it suffices to note that the text of the memo offers not a whiff of support for the president’s claims about what he did. That text unambiguously reflects conduct intolerable in a president in a number of different respects. And it does so in five brief, easy-to-understand pages, in which Trump clearly seeks to recruit a foreign head of state to violate the civil liberties of American citizens and uncover dirt on a potential political opponent in the 2020 presidential election. For everyone who breathed a sigh of relief that the Mueller report did not establish presidential ‘collusion’ with Russia in 2016, the White House itself has announced with this release that the president himself has already engaged in such collusion with Ukraine for the next election cycle—and what’s more, he is putting the powers of the American presidency to that purpose.”

—Scott R. Anderson, et al. “Self-Impeaching: On the Trump-Zelensky Conversation.” Lawfare. September 25, 2019.

This Lawfare blog post does a pretty good job of covering the implications of the Trump-Zelensky transcript. It’s important to realize that the call itself was just part of what happened. For example, there’s the cover-up. The transcript of the call was transferred to a system for classified information to reduce the number of people that could see it. It also implies further involvement by Rudy Giuliani and Bob Barr that is probably criminal as well. Interesting times.

Trump’s Tuxedo: ‘It’s wrong in every way!’

“And Patrick Murphy, the head cutter at tailors Davies and Son, who are based in Savile Row, London, told MailOnline that ‘everything you can imagine’ was wrong with Trump’s tuxedo.

‘Its totally disproportionate to his height and girth,’ he said.

‘The waistcoat is far too long, it should not show underneath his jacket.”

—Conner Boyd and Harry Howard, “Trump’s look is not my fault, says White House tailor as he insists he doesn’t know where President got his poorly fitted state banquet attire from – while Savile Row expert reveals: ‘It’s wrong in every way!’The Daily Mail. June 8, 2019.

My apologies for pointing toward the cancer that is The Daily Mail website, but I think ‘wrong in every way’ pretty much sums up the suit and the man. Keep Making America Great Again, buddy!

American Concentration Camps

“No, Trump is not doing any of this because of illegal immigration—an issue that had been in decline for a decade before took office. His iceboxes and dog cages are part of an explicitly nationalist project. The goal is putting the country under the control of the right kind of white people. Trump has made it clear that he wants to stifle all non-white immigration, period. And the reasons aren’t hard to figure out. His administration just got caught using a literal question of immigration to suppress opposition votes and boost “Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.” The GOP simply can’t win national elections without doing that sort of thing anymore.

And as history shows, when a leader starts putting people in camps to stay in power, it doesn’t usually end with the first group they detain.”

—Jonathan M. Katz, “Concentrate on the Camps.” The Long Version. May 31, 2019.

Check out Dorothea Lange’s Censored Photographs of FDR’s Japanese Concentration Camps, if you want a point of comparison.

Open Question: Is the prison industrial complex in the United States a system of concentration camps?