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The Daily Step Toward Fascism

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Above: Donald Trump

Trump is the second coming of Andrew Jackson and turning the federal bureaucracy into an openly partisan operation is part of that.

The White House is telling federal agencies to blow off Democratic lawmakers’ oversight requests, as Republicans fear the information could be weaponized against President Donald Trump.

At meetings with top officials for various government departments this spring, Uttam Dhillon, a White House lawyer, told agencies not to cooperate with such requests from Democrats, according to Republican sources inside and outside the administration.

It appears to be a formalization of a practice that had already taken hold, as Democrats have complained that their oversight letters requesting information from agencies have gone unanswered since January, and the Trump administration has not yet explained the rationale.

The declaration amounts to a new level of partisanship in Washington, where the president and his administration already feels besieged by media reports and attacks from Democrats. The idea, Republicans said, is to choke off the Democratic congressional minorities from gaining new information that could be used to attack the president.

The one party authoritarian state that goes to the mat to protect its Dear Leader–what could go wrong!

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  • NewishLawyer

    What I wonder and worry about is whether liberals/left leaning people are going to become deeply suspicious and critical of democracy because of Trump?

    Large sections (if not all) of the Right already harbors suspicions against democracy and voting because it doesn’t give them total victory and total control. We have seen a lot of right-wingers go off the deep end and declare that their number one priority is destroying liberals or at least constantly pissing off liberals.

    But it seems to me that a lot of liberals might be learning that large sections of the public are just sort of restless voters and who make decisions irrationally often enough. The famous example here is Wilson losing New Jersey in 1916 because of Shark attacks and lost tourist dollars. So voters had 8 years of Obama and got restless for whatever reason and went for Trump (largely because of the media’s fecklesness and anti-Clinton attitude).

    So even if the GOP loses in 2018 (which should be a good year for them) and/or loses in 2020. Are liberals going to be inherently suspicious of democracy because of the damage of Trump?

    • postmodulator

      Well, a little suspicion of democracy is good. Mob rule sucks. There are a lot of rights that shouldn’t be beholden to the will of the majority — same-sex marriage is the obvious one, but Atrios used to like to point out that a majority of Americans disapproved of interracial marriage until something like 1993.

      But hopefully liberals and the left take the more important lesson from the last few years, which is that there are too many elements in the American constitutional system designed to thwart democracy, and they mostly work pretty well.

      • NewishLawyer

        There are lots of veto points in the American system and these often can be used for the elites and right-wing to entrench power yes and I agree on the importance of minority rights and the suckiness of mob rule.

        But I still wonder if people on the left are going to go too far in these sensible cautions.

        • postmodulator

          Based on the evidence, I’m going to say “not yet.”

          Tangentially, I’ve grown slightly more skeptical about free speech absolutists over the last several years, but that has a lot to do with the fact that the right is simply not an honest broker on that topic; we’re defending their right to say things with which we disagree, and they’re not defending ours. E.g. the treatment of armed rednecks at town halls in 2010 vs. the treatment of unarmed hippies at Occupy Wall Street.

          I really like the line about the Electoral College: intended to keep a majority from electing an unqualified demagogue, it instead stuck us with an unqualified demagogue who didn’t even have the majority part.

          • tsam

            All this more or less adds up to an arms race against nihilists who aren’t afraid of violence. Maybe it’s too late to diffuse it, but we’re not going to win that war.

            • postmodulator

              Eventually, both sides lose their fear of violence, or get co-opted by people with no fear of violence.

              • tsam

                Well I better get a funny hat and a machine gun, then.

                • Schadenboner

                  I’m feeling very happy that my Brother-in-Law brought me a budenovka when he came back from St Petersburg on Monday.

          • free_fries_

            The electoral college was intended to give southern slave owners more voting power by counting their slaves (@ 3/5ths a person) in weighting.

            • tsam

              Yeah, this. They might have made gestures toward a check on mob rule, but slavery was already a problem at the Constitutional Convention, and the sniveling was turned to 11. It was called a compromise, not a safety check.

              • postmodulator

                True. This is again more of an “our national myth” thing.

      • Wapiti

        I’d observe that political correctives to encourage democracy (like Washington State’s referendum system) can also be subverted (by corporations that can hire signature-gatherers). Designing ungameable systems is hard.

        • postmodulator

          California’s referenda system provides even “better” examples. It’s the richest state in the country but it’s never going to recover from Prop 13.

        • NonyNony

          Designing ungameable systems is hard.

          I’ll take this one step further and say that designing ungameable systems is impossible. Any system you create needs to be tweaked along the way to minimize the effectiveness of gaming it.

          And that means that you can never be “done” with something. You can’t create, for example, a perfect system of redistricting a state and then sit back and let that perfection “just work”. It will be gamed and that system will need to be tweaked and it will never be perfect.

          If that’s true, then attempting to put a lot of effort into creating perfect systems that will work without being gameable is a lot of wasted effort and will never pay off for the folks who invest a lot of emotional energy into them.

          • guthrie

            Yup.
            I’ve been saying for years that you can have a perfect system (of work or such) and people will always break it and fail and hurt themselves, because, duuuhhh, humans. Your best best is to try and train and improve the humans in all ways.

          • burritoboy

            I get tremendous amounts of criticism when I point this out, but us liberals have far over emphasized making grand plans (ungameable as you are putting it), but then entirely ignoring that humans – particularly elite humans – operate those policies.

            Further, we pay very little attention to the private institutions that are the necessary supports for the public policy. Just one example? We love to praise educators, but ignore that the most elite educators (the top managers of the largest post-secondary private institutions) have been conspiring against us for decades, and are human garbage. We loved the unions, but then paid not enough attention when they were internally damaged by short-sighted fools.

            Ultimately, it’s called virtue and character and we liberals have wanted not to think about them for a long time. In some sense, we’ve worked really really hard to not think about them.

    • keta

      Yep. After Trumpty Dumpty falls off the wall it’s going to be very interesting indeed on how saner minds put all the pieces of government back together again.

      Very, very interesting.

    • DamnYankees

      I have been wondering this as well; I think there could be a profound radicalization amount certain segments of society we think of as liberal democrats (small d). I can see this coming in two ways.

      Firstly, I can definitely see a radicalization among what I’d called the “Vox crowd”. This is the group of earnest wonks who – at least in their own self perception – value reason and empiricism and feel like its just very important to make concrete policy advances with as much information as possible. I don’t say this disparagingly – I probably align myself more with this mindset than any other. And I think a tacit belief of this crowd is that if you do this stuff right, it will matter. That good policy will make people’s lives better and be rewarded with stability and electoral success. This election already cast doubt on that given the winner and loser, but I can see a scenario where Trump remains a truly awful President with truly awful policies who genuinely hurts people – and it still not mattering. Him still winning. On The Weeds yesterday, they were having a conversation about how Trump’s lies are meeting his policies and there will have to be a reckoning, and I just kept thinking…what if there is no reckoning? What if they pass a horrible bill, but even after implementation they keep lying about it what’s its actually going, and it works? I can see policy wonks being radicalized.

      But more broadly, I can see a more general sense of “if this is what our system created, this system is worthless.” People have long had abstract defenses of the electoral college and the Senate and other features of our government which I personally don’t like, but eventually there’s going to be a realization – when Trump is reelected by an even larger popular vote loss and the Senate confirms a 7-2 conservative court – where people just completely lose faith. I don’t know what it looks like, but there’s a real risk of democratic illegitimacy coming.

      • NewishLawyer

        Yeah these are my worries said more exactly.

        Vox did publish this yesterday:

        https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/6/1/15515820/donald-trump-democracy-brexit-2016-election-europe

        • postmodulator

          Tying this into my comment above, the issue will probably be people conflating “the American system sucks” with “government by the will of the people sucks.” It’s such a part of our national myth that we have the best system of government in the world, the most freedom, the wisest Founding Fathers, blah blah blah, when the reality is that our system was terribly designed and we’ve muddled along this far because we’re so rich that the consequences haven’t been too bad.

          But if you believe that we have a perfect republic, and the perfect republic led to Donald Trump, then you’ll be skeptical of republicanism (small r).

      • Cassiodorus

        I understand the concern, but if the situation you spell out comes to pass, what’s the alternative?

      • Phil Perspective

        Firstly, I can definitely see a radicalization among what I’d called the “Vox crowd”.

        Radicalization, how? Iggy is just a trust-fund failson. EK is a brown-noser par excellence. They’re corporate propaganda. They’re not going to turn into Marxists.

        • Matty

          Yggy, for all his faults (and, whew lad, he has some faults) seems to be genuinely infuriated by poverty in America, and wants to solve it buy redistributive taxation and giving poor people more money. If the center of respectable opinion in the United States settles at “we should tax the hell out of the rich to expand government provision,” that’s not Marxist, but that’s a status quo I’m happier with.

          • Ahuitzotl

            ” that’s not Marxist, but that’s a status quo I’m happier with.”
            Given the dismal results from attempts at Marxist, I’m much happier with that status quo

        • wjts

          Phil Perspective sat down at the kitchen table and prepared to write. He had already drawn the blinds, turned off the TV in the next room, and left his phone upstairs. This was important, and he didn’t want anything to distract him. At the top of the page, he wrote, in bold, clear letters, “Phil Perspective’s Big List of Neoliberals.” He underlined it for emphasis. He skipped a few lines and drew a little star on the left-hand margin. But where to start? After a moment, it came to him.

          “Everyone,” he wrote.

          That didn’t seem right. Or rather, it was right, but it didn’t seem in keeping with the idea of a big list of neoliberals. He drummed his fingers on the table, deep in thought. He drew another star on the next line and wrote, “Not me.” After brief reflection, he added, “Not Bernie” on the third line. He drew stars on right sides of these entries.

          Better, but still not really a big list.

          Then he laughed out loud. How could he have forgotten? He drew another little star and wrote, “Debbie Wasserman Schultz” next to it. Then he wrote it again on the next line, underlined it, and added a “LOL” for emphasis. Yes, this was more like it. He wrote “LOL” again just to be sure.

          After that, it got much easier. “Hillary Clinton,” he wrote. “Nancy Pelosi,” he wrote. “Not Corbyn,” he wrote. “Debbie Wasserman Schultz,” he wrote a third time. Chuck Schumer, Ezra Klein, Matt Yglesias, J.K. Rowling, check, check, check, and check.

          “Mr. Tiddles,” he wrote. He paused, added a parenthetical “cat” for clarification, and moved on to the next line. “Mr. Tiddles (dog).” “Mr. Tiddles (mailman).” He frowned. Was the mailman’s name really Mr. Tiddles? It didn’t seem likely, but the man was certainly a neoliberal. And there was probably a neoliberal mailman named Mr. Tiddles somewhere in the world. He left it and moved on.

          He wrote freely, long into the night, and the only sound in the kitchen was the occasional squeak of his crayon on the Big Chief tablet.

          • N__B

            Good, but no mention of his super-sekret-socialest badge pinned to his shirt?

          • tsam

            This is fucking hilarious–well done

          • This is an amazing comment and I hope it becomes standard practice to post it in response to Phil going forward.

          • bender

            Most cats are conservative. A few are libertarian. I have never met a liberal cat.

        • brewmn

          Oh, fuck off. I knew this was you without even looking at the name. You’re a moron, and whatever contributions you make to “progressivism” are all negative.

    • djw

      The famous example here is Wilson losing New Jersey in 1916 because of Shark attacks and lost tourist dollars

      That particular finding has been called into question. The technical stuff is way over my head, so I won’t offer any speculation about who’s right here.

      • wjts

        I’m dubious. New Jersey voted for a Democratic presidential candidate once between 1896 and 1928 when Wilson got 41% of the vote in 1912 in a three-way race that split the Republican vote. Four years later, Wilson lost New Jersey… with 42% of the vote. He also lost all the other northeastern states he’d carried four years prior. (New Hampshire and Vermont flipped.) The shark attacks may have had an effect, but I have a hard time believing that they cost him the state.

        • daves09

          Could also be that Wilson was simply a truly awful person who only won in ’12 because the Repubs split.
          Also the Dems. were in the position the Repubs. are now-totally dependent on the southern, racist no nothings for success.
          If Hughes hadn’t pissed off Hiram Johnson and lost Ca. he would have been president and the disgusting Mr. Wilson could have gone back south and hated n*****s just forever.
          Question-was Wilson the first candidate whose public persona was completely created by the press?

      • xq

        The critics are clearly right that we shouldn’t take the p-values in the regression seriously, but we have lots of other evidence that economic conditions affect voter choice, and the shark attacks seem to have had pretty major economic effects, so it doesn’t seem as crazy a claim as some are making it out to be.

        One could even argue it’s not irrational–voters can’t let politicians get away with claiming that bad economic times are due to external factors, because there are always plausible external factors and voters lack the expertise to evaluate this claim.

        • djw

          To be clear, I didn’t mean to make it out to be “crazy”; it strikes me as well within the realm of plausibility.

    • Nick never Nick

      It’s funny that you say this — since I left Thailand in 2010 and came back, I’ve often reflected on how American politics have become similar to Thai politics, in their bitterness, undercurrents of violence, and hardening of positions. One of the effects that particularly disgusted me in the 2000s was the way that middle-class, urban Thais, who previously had been champions of democracy and answerable government, turned against this when they realized that rural farmers could outvote them if they organized. Thaksin’s government was characterized as a ‘democratic dictatorship’, because it was the first elected government in Thailand’s history to have an actual Parliamentary majority and the ability to enact an actual ideological policy agenda. Thaksin had his faults, but convincing rural people that they could vote and have a say in ruling the country was a great thing that he did; the support of the middle classes for autocratic leaders, coups, and other non-democratic actions since then has been shameful.

      However, the United States is different — turning away from a system that gives power to a corrupt minority, over and over again, over the will of the majority, is not turning one’s back on Democracy, it’s rejecting the undemocratic components of American political structures. Right now, America is actually turning into a mirror image of Thailand PRIOR to Thaksin (and after as well), in which a vocal minority (rural and white people) claims the right to hold the government because of inherent reasons. In Thailand, it was the urban elite doing this, because the uneducated rural dark people couldn’t understand voting, government, or be expected to exercise responsibility; in America, it is the uneducated rural white people doing this, because the educated majority tried to give them health care, disability benefits, extended unemployment insurance, birth control, dignity, social mobility, access to public education, reproductive health care, etc.

      • CP

        The developing nation that the U.S. reminds me the most of these days is Lebanon – though not quite as blatant here. The political system there apportions a certain number of representatives to people based on their ethnic group. Problem: this representation is based on a census done before World War Two, which means that it’s now wildly out of whack with Lebanon’s actual demographics, and overrepresents the people who were the majority (or plurality) when the system was set up, but haven’t been in a long time.

      • However, the United States is different — turning away from a system that gives power to a corrupt minority, over and over again, over the will of the majority, is not turning one’s back on Democracy, it’s rejecting the undemocratic components of American political structures.

        Exactly. The radicalism on the right is against democracy proper. The radicalism on the left is against the subversion of democracy. If they start to turn away, it is because our government is no longer being seen as democratic.

      • Brett

        I thought Thaksin was an Erdogan wannabe – he clearly wanted to be a strongman and was willing to do stuff like harassing newspapers and critics with lawsuits.

        Leaders like that really can be corrosive to democracy.

        • Nick never Nick

          EVERY politician in Thai history has harassed newspapers and critics with lawsuits. If Thaksin refrained from having them blown up with grenades, he would already be above the mean. Of course, he wasn’t Vaclav Havel. Duterte’s policy of murdering low-level drug users/dealers is a straight re-run of what Thaksin did in 2002-2003, just about 10 times more violent.

          Three things have been particularly corrosive to Thai democracy. The first is coups, for obvious reasons. The second is domination of electoral politics by urban coalitions that lack any ideological commitment, and trade their support for patronage. The third is unmentionable. Thaksin was the first politician to win a full majority, and he did it with policies that benefitted the rural poor — in other words, with ideology backed by action. That was extremely beneficial to Thai democracy. The reaction to it was unhealthy, and Thaksin’s reaction to the reaction was also unhealthy. That doesn’t change the fact that he won by expanding the franchise, and asking people to vote for policies and not patronage.

          ‘Erdogan wannabe’ is meaningless — isn’t Erdogan a fundamentalist autocrat? Thaksin’s government had nothing to do with Buddhism or other religions, and it fought with some of the most autocratic institutions in Thai society. If anything, he was a Berlusconi wannabe, an entirely different kettle of fish.

          • Nick never Nick

            I’m not arguing Thaksin was great — he had huge flaws. These are tragic flaws, though, because he opened his term with the promise of really maturing Thai politics and governance. That he didn’t owes much to other players in Thai society, including Thai people; but it also owes much to Thaksin himself. But even halfway through the 2000s, his administration was filled with people who had a background in leftist politics, activism, years spent hiding in the forest, etc. That he failed them and Thailand is a real tragedy, regardless of how you apportion blame.

            If you want to compare him to Erdogan, this is the main similarity — that he triumphed over very conservative entrenched powers in the society and the government, but then was unable or unwilling to develop the institutions of a level playing field that would have secured this triumph for all non-entrenched powers.

          • Rusty SpikeFist

            The third is unmentionable

            Wait, what? You can’t just leave us hanging like that. What is it??

    • CP

      Honestly, all this shit has made me more supportive of democracy, not less.

      Twice in my short lifetime, we’ve had a man run for office who was exactly the kind of unqualified demagogue the founding fathers warned us about, terrible at governing but good at making a lot of dumb people like him.

      Both times, the great unwashed masses of the public saw him for what he was and voted for the other person. Both times, the Rube Goldberg machine that the oh-so-brilliant founding fathers put in place as a check on the masses overruled them, and put into office exactly the kind of person they were supposed to stop.

      The behavior of most of our elites – political, media, corporate, lobbyist, etc – since last November has only confirmed it for me. Most of them have done nothing to check the Scary Demagogue; instead they’ve tried to get in on the action and done everything they could to stymie the few people who were trying to check his power. This despite the fact that what’s being investigated – a president in collusion with our most powerful foreign enemy – is a completely unprecedented threat to our system of government and our national security.

      History has not been kind to the founding fathers’ self-congratulatory crap about wealthy and educated elites knowing better than the filthy masses.

      • Joe_JP

        “The behavior of most of our elites – political, media, corporate, lobbyist, etc – since last November has only confirmed it for me. Most of them have done nothing to check”

        I keep on seeing stuff in the papers and on the television that exposes Trump and his enablers. Democrats in Congress are political, right? I assume people like Al Franken et. al. are “elites.” They are doing things “to check.”

        The limits of such things is perfectly fine to cite but at some point it’s overcorrection.

        • Brett

          They’re doing it now, after Trump is in power with a compliant Republican Congress. Now, when the best they can do is try and obstruct any legislation and hope crap surfaces that can be used against Trump’s associates, because impeachment is unlikely and removal even less likely.

      • Brett

        This, with some reservations. A more democratic system, with direct electoral control of government, easier voting access, and more proportional representation would never have elected someone like Trump in America – and Republicans know this, and have known it for a while. It’s why their leadership puts so much effort into vote suppression, and resists changes to the complexity of the governance.

        Both times, the Rube Goldberg machine that the oh-so-brilliant founding fathers put in place as a check on the masses overruled them, and put into office exactly the kind of person they were supposed to stop.

        This reminds me of This Modern World’s Trump Meets The Founding Fathers comic. A joke on two levels.

    • Yup.

      One way we get to fascism is Trump puts us there. The other way is Trump makes such a mess that someone takes over with claims to clean it up.

      I assume that’s why Erik didn’t focus on too much bottom-up decision-making as the problem, and instead is worrying about too much top-down.

      eta I guess the reference to Jackson is ambiguous. But then so is populism.

    • Sly

      Respecting popular will is not the same thing as romanticizing popular will, which is often a bad habit of the left and has lead it down roads to disaster. It’s easy to be for “the people” as an abstraction because a lot of actual people are all kinds of terrible. “The people” is something easy and agreeable – like me! – but actual people can difficult and contradictory and a lot of times stupid and venal.

      Wishing this wasn’t the case, or ignoring it, never helped anyone or anything. This doesn’t mean democracy itself is bound to fail, it just means it isn’t bound to succeed.

    • wengler

      It’s classic game theory- one side has a veto if they don’t want to play the game the right way. If Republicans go full bore autocracy, we better be willing to at least go half way there or else we are never getting any of these norms back. If your opponents start locking you up and throwing your friends from the helicopters, you better formulate some plan to oppose them that isn’t just sternly worded letters or weekend marches.

  • cleek

    GOP 2017: Technically Not Illegal !

    when the Dems get a majority, or the WH, or both, they should demolish every norm and custom they can find.

    • scott_theotherone

      That is what I simply do not fucking get. I do not get how there aren’t enough GOP senators and congressmen who are old enough or rich enough or truly patriotic enough or simply smart enough to see how this does not end well. I don’t see how some of these people who are multi-multi-multi-millionaires don’t have the fortitude to stand up and loudly say, “this is wrong.” They might get primaried out, sure, but maybe not. And they’d have sweet lobbying jobs for life if they wanted them and, most of all, the media would fall even more in love with them forever. I just don’t understand.

      • tsam

        I think you’re making the mistake of thinking they aren’t basically all short-sighted, greedy automatons. I don’t think they give a single fuck about what they leave behind.

      • CP

        Anybody who’s a GOP congresscritter in this day and age has well and truly drunk the kool aid.

        • tsam

          Not to mention being absolutely terrified of the howling poops that put them in office. A chunk of them are legitimately dangerous people.

      • ScottK

        I think they’ve realized that the demographics are not in their favor, and they cannot win any more unless they cheat. Suppress voters, work the refs, crash the norms, whatever they have to do they’ll do because in a fair fight they’ll lose and keep losing.

  • rea

    Jackson at least was competent, even if evil. I’d feel better if Jackson was president in place of Trump

    • the shadow

      In a genocidaire, I prefer incompetence.

    • Jackson wasn’t competent.

      • postmodulator

        Compared to Trump?

      • rea

        Well, if he hadn’t won the battle of New Orleans, we’d all be speaking English today.

        More competent than Trump. And I have little doubt what Trump would have done to the Cherokees if given Jackson’s opportunity

        • What precisely was Jackson competent at as president?

          • rea

            He did a good job dealing with nullification.

            And “more competent than Trump” is a pretty low bar.

            • There’s no question that Jackson’s high water mark was nullification. But even that was more about outrage that anyone would challenge his personal authority than any meaningful policy.

              • rea

                Jackson was also right about the electoral college.

    • efgoldman

      I’d feel better if Jackson was president in place of Trump

      He probably wouldn’t be able to do much harm; he’d be 250 years old.

    • wengler

      Lawful evil vs. chaotic evil?

    • Brett

      He wasn’t particularly competent, either. This is the guy who broke the financial system of the US and ultimately caused a depression because of corruption involving his buddies in state banks, and by mismanagement at the end of his second term.

  • Joe_JP

    This was cited on Twitter and after a back/forth with a lawyer/professor (with the as I recall journalist who posted it), it is unclear how valid it is as written. It would be particularly problematic if multiple Democrats joined together for information per current rules where a certain number of members of Congress can ask for information. A solo request might be treated differently there.

  • Rob in CT

    See also: Mulvaney on the CBO.

    This is worse than that, but they fit together.

    The Republican will to power is an amazing thing.

    • JKTH

      This has always been there to some extent, but they’ve gone very public with the notion that anyone that criticizes them or makes them look bad is inherently illegitimate.

  • CP

    All the fighting that was done to put in place an actual professional civil service as opposed to the “jobs program for party members” model under the spoils system model is one of the many things that built the modern U.S. but are now largely ignored in popular consciousness.

    • This is why I’m not that worried about liberals turning against democracy. We have institutions like the civil service that make it–for those who know what those institutions are–not so much of a stark choice between bare, chaotic democracy and authoritarianism as it might be.

  • The idea, Republicans said, is to choke off the Democratic congressional minorities from gaining new information that could be used to attack the president.

    My feeling is that the Republicans are providing more than enough ammunition on their own that the Dems don’t have to rely on this to find sufficient information to attack Trump. If anything, his administration is so disastrous that there might already be too much information.

    • postmodulator

      I don’t think it ever occurred to an American politician before that the way to distract the American people from an outrage was to commit a worse outrage, then repeat ad nauseam.

      Although at this rate Trump will have to bind, torture, and kill Wilford Brimley during Monday Night Football by about October at the latest.

      • Or go ahead and nuke North Korea because reasons.

        • njorl

          I doubt they’ll nuke North Korea. I think they will eventually see that they will need an ongoing, major, successful war to be re-elected in 2020.

          • I think you are assuming Trump is capable of rational thought and that someone will step in if it goes too far. Neither are assured.

            • farin

              China doesn’t want him to annihilate NK; Saudi Arabia and Israel do want him to annihilate Iran. Plus, he’ll be able to lay claim to wiping out an entire people, which I’m sure he’d find pretty cool.

        • wengler

          I’m of the opinion that Trump is terrified of fighting anyone that can fight back. The problem is he is probably too dumb to figure out who can and can’t fight back.

      • Denverite

        Although at this rate Trump will have to bind, torture, and kill Wilford Brimley during Monday Night Football by about October at the latest.

        The safe word is dye-uh-bee-tiss.

      • efgoldman

        I don’t think it ever occurred to an American politician before that the way to distract the American people from an outrage was to commit a worse outrage

        You say that like Peach Pustule planned it as a strategy. He neither plans nor strategizes more than ten minutes ahead. He and his merry band actually are that stupid, arrogant, and incompetent.

  • brad

    I’ve been told that in the Dune series the Kyle Maclachlan character eventually becomes an evil tyrant, with the secret goal of being so evil and tyrannic that the universe will never tolerate such a form of governance again. Now, granted, Dune is better written than reality is right now, but still…

    • CP

      I never read through the entire Dune series, but that seems hilariously optimistic.

      There needs to be an alternate ending where people take over from the emperor and become even more evil and tyrannical, going “thank you! Thank you for showing us just how much we can get away with! We really would never have dared to do this otherwise!” and the dying emperor goes “what? No! No! That’s not the point here! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”

    • JMP

      It’s nothing that simple; he foresees a future in which, in order to prevent humanity from destroying itself, he must become an immortal half-worm/half-man and rule as a tyrant for thousands of years, rejects it and fakes his own death, so that instead his son ends up embracing that destiny and becoming the half-worm and god-emperor. He’s eventually assassinated after a four thousand year rule, which somehow results in humanity moving to infinite alternate universes and ensuring its’ survival.

      • Brett

        Not infinite universes, just across the universe beyond the reach of any tyrant or thinking machine.

        It’s interesting, the whole “peaceful stagnation is slow death” element of it. Not sure if Herbert himself believed that or not, but IIRC it was also one of the in-universe rationalizations for the revolt against computers and AI.

        • guthrie

          BUt also a humanity dedicated to spreading outwards, not stagnating in a safe place. Thus no one disaster can overcome all humans.

          (As for the sequals and prequals, forget about them, they dont exist)

    • guthrie

      No, that’s his son you are thinking of. THe whole point being that after millenia of repression humanity actually comes to understand the fact that yearning for an all powerful entity, father figure etc, to save them and make things work for them, is a bad idea.

    • Richard Gadsden

      His son.

      He achieves this not by the obvious (and flawed) way of pissing people off, but by forcing people to invent a new form of space travel where they cannot be followed – which results in a diaspora that cannot be ruled by any central government where they can’t be found.

      • guthrie

        That was a side effect of the pressure he was applying, and a happy one too, but not relevant to the main thrust of his attempts. The important part was the suppressed desire for freedom bubbling up and the breeding of people who were invisible to people who can see possible futures.

  • guthrie

    Oddly enough some right wingers I have come across, including one (An author) who has a reputation for being quite intelligent, think Trump is reducing the size of government and will prevent it growing as it obviously would under a Democratic president.
    The actual real human rights abuses seem not to count.

  • Breadbaker

    To give this is a little context, I worked for HUD in the Ford administration. When you got a request for information from Congress, it had a red sign on it that said “Congressional” on it, and the rule was that you had to respond to it within 24 hours. It certainly didn’t depend on what party was asking.

  • wengler

    This impeachment log is starting to look like the Declaration of the Independence.

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