The lines between democracy and authoritarianism are becoming clearer. This morning, former president Donald Trump began the new year by endorsing Hungarian authoritarian Viktor Orbán for reelection. Rising to power by attacking immigration, Orbán has systematically undermined democracy in Hungary, silencing his opponents, forcing businesses to sell out to him or his cronies, rewriting election laws, suppressing the press, packing the courts, and rewriting his country’s constitution. The country still holds elections, but they are no longer meaningful.
Those of you interested in better understanding Putin’s motives, and goals to quash democracies (particularly those bordering Russia) will benefit from reading Anne Applebaum’s January 3, 2022 piece in The Atlantic: The U.S. Is Naive About Russia. Ukraine Can’t Afford to Be.
Her closing thoughts:
“Americans need to stop being surprised by this list of goals, and instead start writing a list of our own. We could start with this one: Help make Ukraine the successful, prosperous, Western-facing democracy that Putin so clearly fears. Don’t make decisions about Ukraine without Ukraine. And don’t do these things because it’s nice for the children at the ice-skating rink in Kyiv—do them because, in this case, Putin’s analysis is not paranoid: A successful, prosperous, Western-facing democratic Ukraine would indeed pose a dire ideological threat to Russia, as well as to Belarus and to other autocracies in the region and around the world. It would prove to the inhabitants of other autocracies that they can escape the influence of their greedy, brutal leaders. Losing Ukraine, by contrast, would reinforce dictators in Moscow, Minsk, and even Beijing.
Biden has said he wants to “prove that American democracy can still do big things and take on challenges that matter most.” Mostly, he means domestic challenges. But some challenges abroad will also affect American confidence and credibility well into the future. Helping Ukrainians defend Ukrainian democracy is one of them.”
Thank you Heather.
I really wish someone would explain to me how one can ignore a subpoena. This would come in handy in the event I ever get one.
However, it may not help me given I am not in Trump's circle which would automatically put me above the law.
I saw yesterday that Trump Jr and his girlfriend, Kimberly are engaged. That makes it rather convenient that once she marries him, she will not be compelled to testify against him. That's one witness down that won't have to testify what she saw in the room where they watched the Insurrection unfold on television.
Trump's continued endorsement and hero worship of Orban shouldn't surprise anyone. Atleast he is consistent.
I noticed yesterday in my travels more Trump 2024 flags going up along side F*ck Biden flags.
As I listened to NPR last week, there was a consistent theme of if the GOP gain the House, Articles of Impeachment will immediately be introduced against Biden. I remember hearing this when Biden won and thought it was rubbish. It's not. They will.
Be safe. Be well.
Imagine, Donald Trump published a letter in the NY Times demanding the death sentence for five black teenagers accused of, but not yet tried in a court of law for rape. Public pressure including Trump's efforts lead to police and the District Attorney's office forcing guilty pleas from the teenagers. After time in prison the Central Park Five were one at a time exonerated and released with evidence and a confession by a repeat rape offender.
The same Trump family claims entrapment when a subpoena is issued to explain conflicts between information in loan applications and bank loans don't match where the should match.
The is how white privilege, or more specifically "Trump privilege" works. No matter how you slice it, regardless of how the laws are written, the Trumps have been a criminal family for several generations.
I feel fairly confident that the former president could not locate Hungary on an unlabeled map of Europe. He doesn’t have the focus to read one paragraph about who Orban is or what he stands for. He’s figured out that Tucker is giving the guy attention and somewhere in there there might be a chance for him to fleece more money from his donors if he says something and appears interested.
When Joy Reid interviewed Shumer on her show this afternoon, she asked him if he had any knowledge we the public didn't about whether Sinema and Manchin supported voting rights more than they supported the filibuster. He tried to get out of answering but finally had to admit he did not know any more than anyone else does about that.
As Lawrence O'Donnell - the news anchor who knows the ways of the Senate better than anyone else in the news business (having worked there a long time) - later said on his show, Shumer is going to force this vote not knowing the outcome. But then as Rachel had pointed out in her show, the pressure is really on the two of them now, because their vote when this comes up will be the first two sentences in their obituaries, as to whether they came down on the side of Strom Thurmond and the segregationists, or "the right side of history."
"Russia, China, Britain, France, and the U.S. today reassured the world that their differences would not lead to nuclear war. The five nations announced today in a joint statement that they wanted to stop an increase in nuclear weapons and avoid a nuclear war. The five nations pledged to continue talks about nuclear disarmament."
I hate to be Debbie Downer, but did India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea, countries not recognized by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), suddenly get rid of their nuclear stockpiles? Seriously, what makes those 4 countries less likely to launch than any of the N5? Isn't there a way to bring 3 of those 4 countries to the table particularly given the instabilities associated with all 4 of those countries? Please pardon, in advance, my ignorance/naivete with regards to this matter.
Those of an age may very well remember these slogans and the poster* from Another Mother for Peace (AMP).
*"War is not healthy for children and other living things"
"In the name of defense, they're poisoning our land ... our air ... our water ... and our children.''
I'm 1/3 my way through "The 1619 Project". (HIGHLY recommend) The book has helped me to understand, in a new, more detailed, nuanced, way, what is going on in America today has been with us in one form and another since, well, 1619.
The racial/social attitudes, the bald-faced, white hot greed, the brutality, that created the plantation economy entirely dependent on slave labor, that eagerly decimated native populations, that has successfully undercut democratic principles for two centuries, has evolved new, more resistant forms, like a virus.
Schumer....."how can we in good conscience allow for a situation in which the Republican Party can debate and pass voter suppression laws at the State level with only a simple majority vote, but not allow the United States Senate to do the same?” This says it all. How can the retuglicans justify this? I sure hope Schumer has an ace up his sleeve or he will look pretty stupid calling for a vote on MLKing day.
I posted the following elsewhere today, but wanted to make it part of my own post. A quote from Rebecca Solnit FB page.... “Hope is not a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. It is an axe you break down doors with in an emergency. Hope should shove you out the door, because it will take everything you have to steer the future away from endless war, from the annihilation of the earth's treasures and the grinding down of the poor and marginal... To hope is to give yourself to the future - and that commitment to the future is what makes the present inhabitable.”
”The lines between democracy and authoritarianism are becoming clearer.”
Have you ever hit the ❤️ button on Heather’s article after only reading a few lines in?
A few days ago, Heather wrote a splendid piece about Abraham Lincoln. And yet, seemingly off topic, I posted a link to an article about the Jan. 6 committee.
I find the global and domestic threats to democracy to be the most compelling political story of this decade. So when I make my way through a Heather piece and find that every subject bears directly on the threats to democracy in our society and in world society, I feel uniquely heard. It satisfies an urgent need in me.
On Putin and Trump:
Let’s start with Trump.
From the moment he became the Republican Party nominee, I thought to myself, “This guy is too clueless to realize that he is going to be the most scrutinized human being in American society. He’s walking straight into the trap of having every media outlet and investigative organization in the country putting a borescope up his a$$ and lighting up every instance of malfeasance in his life.“
As for Putin, he is also capable of being magnificently clueless. Don’t they have an expression in Russian for “leave well enough alone“? His grudge about the demise of the Russian Empire (the USSR) motivates his actions vis-à-vis Ukraine, to try to recapture what has been lost for good. Humpty Dumpty. Can never be put back together again. What he fails to recognize is that his action is motivating NATO to become much stronger than it already is, in response to the threat that he is providing. Not the brightest bulb on the circuit.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Sunday he feared that Putin was intent on invading Ukraine and “nothing other than a level of sanctions that Russia has never seen will deter him.”
N.B. Human civilization’s (horrid) relationship with the planet (the environment, the Goddess of Earth) is an even bigger story, imo, but Heather is uniquely qualified to address intra-civilization needs, politics (the policy of society).
At last, the tip of the head of a bald eagle is appearing over the horizon—and you, Professor Richardson, are the dove with an olive branch aprés le déluge!
Almost every day these articles lead us back to the original Consitution.
For those interested in HOW that constituion was written, and, want to read something detailed, well, there is a very good, detailed, not very long book by Catherine Drinker Bowen that is well worth reading.
"Miracle at Philadelphia".
In this book, which, is daily accounting of what went on based on Bowen's years long analysis of notes, letters, journals, etc. we see how the current structure of the Senate was formed and why it was needed to get states to ratify the original constitution.
The large amount of negotiations and the tremendous efforts by the founders to accommodate each other to get to a "united" republic that approximated "by the people" was truly profound.
In retrospect, the Senate looks nutty yes? Two white guys for every state no matter the state's size OR no matter what the demographic makeup is? Crazy right? Well.....
Catherine Drinker Bowen's book shows WHY the Senate exists. Because, if that had not been part of the constitution, the USA, with all its warts, would never have existed as a "United" entity.
Your first line says it all, Dr. R. The Trumpublicans in Congress have chosen authoritarianism. Will any of them wake up and honour their oath to the Constitution and the country over their party. It is chilling that I even have to ask that question.
Schumer said "...consider...". Wow, such strong words. Yep, that will get things moving....
Suggest everybody reads "https://www.counterpunch.org/2022/01/02/it-goes-back-to-the-days-of-the-founders/" - long read, but the author doesn't hold out much hope for democracy in 'Murica, and lays out the reason very clearly. It's a chilling read.
Just as sample
"The dismal Democrats will not move to challenge the openly undemocratic constitutional regime or even to make significant reforms permitted within the “frozen republic” charter’s rules like ending the filibuster and expanding the size of the Supreme Court to dilute its ridiculous right-wing super majority. They will not fight remotely hard enough for the nation’s working-class majority to get the massive voter turnouts they would need to have any chance of durably overcoming both contemporary voter suppression measure and the deeply embedded minority rule advantages (including shocking constitutional powers of popular vote suppression and cancellation at the state level) the Republicans enjoy in the federalist US constitutional order. Critical among the reasons for this loathsome passivity is the Dems’ captivity to the “wealth primary” (John Bonifaz and future Congressman and House impeachment leader Jamin Raskin’s excellent law student/journal phrase) campaign finance power of the corporate and financial ruling class – a power that has been granted God-like inviolability by the holy high (Supreme) court in the Buckley v. Valeo (1976) and Citizens United (2010) decisions.
The idea behind the phrase “wealth primary” is very simple: “Without personal wealth or the ability to raise large sums of money from well-heeled contributors, many aspiring officeholders are locked out of the process before the first vote is cast. Those voters who wish to express views that are not supported by wealthy donors are left without an outlet.”
so enjoy the coming chaos.
The many important issues touched upon today by HCR and those who are commenting all serve to divert the Democratic Party from doing TODAY what they should have done from DAY ONE of their control of both Houses of Congress and the White House. Voting Rights! Why must Shumer wait until January 17? Every week counts. Even if voter rights legislation is passed tomorrow, it will take months to put it into effect and battle the lawsuits against it Republican-dominated States will surely initiate. Election Day is ten months away! The good things Americans have gained from Democratic legislation are not sufficiently dramatic to win votes. (Even Republicans who voted against them confuse the voters by claiming credit for them.)
There is only one job on the workbench for Democrats and those who wish to preserve democracy in America. Regardless of whether voting rights legislation is passed, it must be the mobilization of the votes needed to keep control of both Houses of Congress in November. As I have repeatedly said, that can be done only with a massive turn-out of voters, motivated by consistent Republican opposition to anything which might be of benefit to women and persons of color. These are the specific voters who the Democratic Party must target to mobilize now! Not tomorrow. Now. Otherwise, democracy loses.
A national political party becomes a criminal organization when they concertedly exploit state's rights to curtail election freedoms while creating partisan control over elections. This is especially pronounced following the wake of an insurrection and the refusal to honor free and fair elections.
As a criminal organization seeking to undermine our laws via interstate action they should be held accountable via the RICO Act.