In Which We Rail Against The Enemies Of Democracy

A damning mountain of evidence points to the ineluctable conclusion that up to five million votes were fraudulently cast in the last general election. This evidence is being held in an unusual location: the addled minds of 45 and his intensely loyal, reality-denying followers.

But these phantasmagorical vote thieves have made some rethink the regular and judicious application of the democratic process. A new Washington Post/Qualtrics poll shows 52% of self-identified Republicans

would support postponing the 2020 election, and 56 percent said they would do so if both Trump and Republicans in Congress proposed this.

The hand is tipped, the fascistic future partially unfurled. There are people who want to shut you up and keep you down. No amount of well-intentioned reach-across-the-aisle gestures will alter their comfort with denying you the right to vote against the man – and the abhorant ideas swirling around him – they cherish.

(Year Zero/Day Two Hundred and Four)

Sometimes political change happens suddenly. You wake up, and a military junta has taken over your country, or some other kind of revolution has happened. But other times, the climate shifts little by little. A few big gestures of aggression, and then things settle down. Then the cycle repeats, until one day the tipping point is reached and you find your democracy has been transformed into an autocracy.

We’re at serious risk of this happening in America.

Trump’s first 100 days have been a lesson for him in what he can and cannot easily do. He’s followed the authoritarian playbook in attacking those sectors of society that uphold the value of evidence (the judiciary, the press, researchers). He’s purged the bureaucracy; hired family members (who thumb their noses at conflicts of interest); bullied critics on Twitter; and incited a climate of hatred toward targeted groups (Muslims, Latinos, immigrants, and more).

Many of those attacks have been successfully thwarted thus far. Trump has faced significant and sustained pushback to his programs and methods — including cherished measures like the travel ban and repealing and replacing Obamacare — from the press and the judiciary, and even by factions of his own party. Civic engagement and political activism have also grown exponentially in response to the dangers to our freedoms that he represents — as has funding and support for investigative journalism.

Authoritarians, however, are most dangerous at such moments, when they feel vulnerable. With the #TrumpRussia scandal widening, we can expect the White House to become much more aggressive in imposing its agendas. Non-whites will bear the brunt of this, under the guise of crackdowns on immigration, crime and drugs.

Like many demagogues before him, Trump bills himself as a modernizer who can “repair” a broken system. Apparently, checks and balances are in the same category for him as old bridges and leaky borders: things that need fixing to work efficiently. Ian Bassin, a a former White House associate counsel and Executive Director of United to Protect Democracy, a watchdog organization led by former White House and administration lawyers and constitutional litigators, noted to me that if Trump isn’t content with upending democratic norms and starts to change their underlying laws, “there’s no end to how much power he could try to amass.”

But, many might ask, wouldn’t government run better in a more streamlined manner, allowing Trump to manage by decree, as he does in his business life? A supporter interviewed by the Washington Post at his Harrisburg, Pennsylvania rally, thinks so. “I wish we had no parties — they just lock into left or right, and nothing gets done. [Trump] wants to fix stuff.” It’s a common theme heard among Trump’s followers: just let him come in and run things “like a business.”

But there’s a name for a system with no parties and a strongman leader at the helm: dictatorship.

–Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Trump at his most dangerous

It’s Time We Come Clean

Had you heard about Twitter’s lawsuit against the United States government? With so much Big News in the past week, it may have been lost in the shuffle. In brief:

Twitter disclosed in a federal court filing on Thursday that it had received a summons directing it to reveal the identity or identities of those behind @ALT_USCIS, one of several so-called alt-accounts run by people purporting to be current or former federal employees. The @ALT_USCIS account, which quickly gained tens of thousands of followers, has frequently criticized the Trump administration’s immigration policies and enforcement actions.

Twitter said in its filing that it could not be compelled to disclose the identity or identities of whoever is behind the account. The company argued that the government’s directive and reasoning were unlawful, and that complying would have “a grave chilling effect” on the speech of alt-accounts that voice resistance to government policies.

Twitter withdrew its lawsuit on Friday after the government rescinded its request. This doesn’t change the material reality that the chief executive is irrationally driven to hector and punish his opponents, no matter how politically insignificant they may be.

This mean there’s a chance that Donald Trump will try to expose the identities of Rise of the Lizard People’s shadowy collective. We all discussed this and concluded it was in our best interests to out ourselves proactively, saving the federal government the trouble.

We’re all nervous, but… here goes.

Zzyzx was born Curtis Howe Springer. He divides his time between selling medicinal tonics and communicating to a public hungry for his truths. He currently resides in the Mohave desert.

Lady Fabulous is one of Lady Gaga’s backup dancers. They had their name legally changed to the symbols ☭🏀🐝🌮 several years back and they enjoy listening to people attempt to pronounce it. They can currently be found in a shack on Volcano Island.

Eclectus was one of the conspirators who arranged for the tyrannical Roman emperor Commodus to be assassinated in 192 AD. We’re not sure what he’s doing here. He should have died a long time ago.

Whiteside is the nom de guerre of Joy Mendelsohn, a Reform Rabbi based out of Chicago. In her spare time, she enjoys photography and working on her novel.

ThePiedSpicer is White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. Fed up with the false front he was forced to adopt per the demands of his high-profile job, he approached us so he could finally say what he really thinks. He firmly believes Dippin’ Dots are not the ice cream of the future.

Servitor is a servitor.

Commissar is a Russia-based agent saboteur sent by Vladimir Putin to undermine any remaining faith the electorate has in the Democratic Party. We’ve been too afraid of him to pin down his real name because he said he’d have us all sent to Siberia if we asked again.

Phew! It feels good to get that off our collective chest. The tax dollars that would have gone into figuring out who we are can now be spent on cutting-edge munitions or lost to graft.

(Year Zero/Day Eighty)

The Authoritarian Mindset

Abdel Fattah el-Sisi seized control of Egypt from democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi in a military coup in 2013. His rule since has been marked by human rights abuses and authoritarianism. Which is why Trump’s statement of solidarity with Sisi during the public portion of their meeting at the White House today raises alarm bells:

“We agree on so many things,” Mr. Trump said as he sat beside Mr. Sisi in the Oval Office. “I just want to let everybody know in case there was any doubt that we are very much behind President el-Sisi. He’s done a fantastic job in a very difficult situation. We are very much behind Egypt and the people of Egypt. The United States has, believe me, backing, and we have strong backing.”

Donald Trump fucking loves dictators. Each time he heaps effusive praise on a power-hungry “strongman”, it reinforces a crucial difference between this president and most of his precessors. Don’t find too much comfort in recent news stories that declare his failure to replace Obamacare has isolated him from his party or that he’s nothing more than a blustery lame duck.

George W. Bush is currently enjoying extensive image rehabilitation. He pops up on talk shows, acts like everyone’s genial, slightly befuddled grandpa and audiences eat it up. Yet this ignores the blood on his hands; how his perfidious invasion of Iraq destabilized much of the Middle East, leading to the rise of ISIS and the Syrian refugee crisis; and how he supercharged America’s surveillance state. It ignores every ill he inflicted at home and abroad, and how it laid the groundwork for the rise of fascism in America.

Bush had what was widely perceived as a lame duck presidency until September 11, 2001. All it takes it one significant act of terrorism to open the door to previously unthinkable alterations to the fabric of American society. For all the damage he wrought, he still seems to vaguely believe in the democratic tradition. No one can say the same about Trump.

(Year Zero/Day Seventy-Four)