Thursday, February 2, 2017

Any Questions?

They're Selling Postcards Of The Hangings

Granting that it is not necessary to like the leaders of a democracy, it is necessary that they grasp the responsibilities of democratic governance, including respect for free speech, reciprocal obligations, and public accountability. In a week’s time, Trump and his proxies have trampled on the expectations of even this very low bar, throwing tantrums over crowd size, naming billionaires with no civic experience to prominent cabinet positions, and making the stunning, Orwellian claim to the existence of “alternative facts.”

Alarming as each moment has been, we cannot misjudge such actions as being merely appalling statecraft. Rather, when taken as a whole, they amount to a fairly coherent set of actions that displays the traits of an emergent totalitarian regime. This is unprecedented in American history.
When the president’s chief strategist declares he is at war with the press and identifies the pillars of free speech as “the opposition party,” we need to ask how many institutions will be severely weakened, maybe permanently, as an administration wantonly challenges the foundations of democratic life.

-- Christopher Lebron, "What Totalitarianism Looks Like";
    Boston Review, January 28, 2017   (Courtesy Soul Of America)
I see a few key patterns here. First, the decision to first block, and then allow, green card holders was meant to create chaos and pull out opposition; they never intended to hold it for too long. It wouldn’t surprise me if the goal is to create “resistance fatigue,” to get Americans to the point where they’re more likely to say “Oh, another protest? Don’t you guys ever stop?” relatively quickly.

... Note also the most frightening escalation last night was that the DHS made it fairly clear that they did not feel bound to obey any court orders. CBP continued to deny all access to counsel, detain people, and deport them in direct contravention to the court’s order, citing “upper management,” and the DHS made a formal (but confusing) statement that they would continue to follow the President’s orders. (See my updates from yesterday, and the various links there, for details) Significant in today’s updates is any lack of suggestion that the courts’ authority played a role in the decision.

That is to say, the administration is testing the extent to which the DHS (and other executive agencies) can act and ignore orders from the other branches of government. This is as serious as it can possibly get [Italics Added]: all of the arguments about whether order X or Y is unconstitutional mean nothing if elements of the government are executing them and the courts are being ignored.

Yesterday was the trial balloon for a coup d’état against the United States. It gave them useful information.

Now for the less pleasant part of this: What is the likely next step, in each of these cases?

While I hope that most people are beyond the stage of saying “oh, this is all just campaign rhetoric,” I know that many people will still say that... But given that in his first eight days in office, Trump has proven himself quite honest on the campaign trail — going out and doing exactly the things he said he would ... I’m hoping people are starting to realize that no, it wasn’t just a joke.

So I expect to see certain next steps ... each of these is a major move, which can have significant political value if spread out over time. This is roughly a roadmap for the next 2–3 years.

>> For Latinos, increased laws and orders exerting pressures on employers, landlords, etc., to get rid of anyone who even might be undocumented... i.e., making the situation bad enough to cause people to flee the country...

>> For Muslims, increased surveillance of (leading up to registration of) groups. The next big step would be bulk revocation of visas from people from various countries, at which point they fall under the same “illegals” program as is set up for Latinos. This also gives political cover for mass deportation — which, as an operational footnote, also requires mass internment for logistical reasons...

>> For black people, an increased crackdown on protests, if that’s actually possible... Any protest, no matter how peaceful, will be declared a “riot” and a reason for sharply increased police presence, not just then, but going forward; we should expect to see a lot of very visible marching of cops through the streets, arrests of anyone for insubservience, and so on... already happening; I simply expect the knob to be turned higher, much as it was in the 1960's...

>> For trans people, a systematic passage of laws somewhere between legalizing and mandating discrimination in all things...  I would expect that this is the first place where we’ll see a resurgence of “purity” laws. We used to have a lot of these, e.g. “gay people are a danger to our children and cannot be allowed to work in schools.” Here, you could not only have that, but you could have restrictions on where people are allowed to live...

>> For the press, I expect to see real attempts to silence it — but we’ll see how the power balance plays out. This is not going to be a simple fight.

>> For academia, I expect to see tremendous pressure brought to bear immediately: all research funds for research which either goes against some policy objective of the administration (e.g., climate research), or which sounds too aligned with “liberal elites” (e.g., anything involving gender and sexuality), will be targeted first... the first major orders cutting research funds were issued last Tuesday...

...Milo Yiannoupoulos is scheduled to speak at UC Berkeley on Monday, for example; it will be interesting to watch how the administration responds to any opposition to his presence. (NB that at his last speech, at UW last week, a medic was shot by a neo-Nazi. Past speeches he’s given at universities have included doxxing and calling for attacks against individual students. Sending him to talk at universities is a deliberate provocation.)

I expect to see a lot of people described as “un-American” and this to be used as an excuse to do various things to universities — which are not just schools, but also where people meet, discuss, and organize, things which the regime has a lot of reason to oppose.

... Now the grimmest part of all: Working through timelines. I’m going to be extremely blunt about this, because measuring these timelines accurately and knowing when to jump is the most basic survival skill I was taught from childhood... I also know that this time people are affected who don’t have twenty generations of practicing this behind them, so we need to speak out loud sometimes.

... For foreign-born Muslims and Latinos who are undocumented, related to someone undocumented, or who might be confused [about their documentation status], I’d say that the red flag is up, and it’s time to consider exit strategies with a 6-month window.

US-born Muslims, Latinos who have more stability inside the country, and Jews have a somewhat longer time horizon available, but I’d start quietly thinking about options for when things change.

Advice for the black and trans communities is simpler, because everyone already knows it: Organize! The advantage there is in numbers and shared strength, and in community. That’s also good advice for all of the other groups: even if you’re thinking about your exit strategy, you have very good reason to make common cause, and for everyone to work and pull together. That’s the thing that has a chance of preventing all of this, and of saving the most lives when that fails.

-- Yonatan Zunger,  
    "Trial Balloon For A Coup?", January 31, 2017; and
    "What Things Going Wrong Can Look Like", January 30, 2017
    Mediumdotcom (courtesy Soul Of America

“Prepare for malice; hope for incompetence.”
 -- ( @nomikkh )


Not everyone agrees with Yonatan The Wise. Courtesy of Your One Stop Shop For Cats 'n Culture, we bring you "Liberals On The Edge

P.S. -- Not like Sam Kriss doesn't make a point... but you don't have to hear Ian McDiarmid cackling Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen in the background to find it plausible that Lil' Stevie Bannon, Rinse "Nancy" Prebius, Ugly Bignose and Tiny Teddy have a plan. These people are the incarnation of evil; they smell and don't fit in their clothing very well, but they're not stupid.   

Overreaching; greedy; besotted with a sense of power, yes -- and, by the way, it's the overreaching and arrogance which will ultimately be their undoing. Sadly, that Undoing may mean the same for all the rest of us.

( Artist Unknown - Courtesy TomClarkBlog, via Soul Of America; February 2, 2017 )

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