Following Trump and Barr into Autocracy, Reviewing Masha Gessen’s “Autocracy: Rules for Survival”


With all hell breaking loose in Bill Barr-the-Door’s underpants over at the DOJ what with him overriding the Roger Stone prosecutor’s sentencing recommendations and riding the prosecutor’s straight out the door and leaning so hard on the Michael Flynn prosecutor’s that they aren’t even requesting jail time for the very confused Flynn who can’t decide whether he is guilty or innocent and just a willing idiot willingly duped by the FBI into lying to them like they do just because they hated the Ol’ Pussy Grabber so much. Not to mention tossing Jessica Liu straight outa her job and into a job that they quickly and quietly disappeared right out from under her so she could be replaced by a lacky lickspittle toady Timothy Shea who would trump up charges against Comey and McCabe and others in the FBI and anyone else who has the temerity to challenge our tantivy towards full autocracy. For a great review of all of these issues and more, may I direct you to the Vox article, The Fiasco at Bill Barr’s Justice Dept. Explained?

This is the same AG, may I remind you, that got Poppy Bush to pardon his way out of Iran-Contra consequences. Whoever thought Billy Bob Treason was an institutionalist who would uphold the rule of law, didn’t know their history.

You know what Kirk Lazarus says, never go full authoritarian! Or else you go home empty handed.

Well, shit. We is about to go home empty handed, man.

Autocracy: Rules for Survival

Rachel Maddox, long may she broadcast, reminded us on her show that we was warned about all this shit way back on the eve of the shitshow getting lit on fire and falling into that dumpster. She brought up the Masha Gessen article, Autocracy: Rules for Survival, in which she warned us of the impending threat to our democracy. We all knew that the Ol’ Pussy Grabber was a blundering neophyte wannabe dictator, what we didn’t fully realize or appreciate was who willing the Repubes were to be led by their balls into it.

Here, watch the segment your own self while it’s up on the YouTubes.

Re-reading the article now is just chilling. It rings with a prescience that is spooky like Gessen had seen it before and knew what was coming, or something. Let’s quote, shall we?

However well-intentioned, this talk [pledges of a peaceful transfer of power and hoping for success by Democrats] assumes that [the Ol’ Pussy Grabber] is prepared to find common ground with his many opponents, respect the institutions of government, and repudiate almost everything he has stood for during the campaign.

He weren’t.

In short, it is treating him as a “normal” politician. There has until now been little evidence that he can be one.

Trump is the first candidate in memory who ran not for president but for autocrat — and won.

RULE #1: Believe the autocrat

Let’s review the rules.

I’ve long said that this was the when-someone-tells-you-who-they-are-you-should-believe-them election. The Ol’ Pussy Grabber has been telling us all along what he would do. When they were chanting Lock her up! And he was threatening to investigate her and others, he was serious.

But, it’s not just the Ol’ Pussy Grabber that we should be believing when they tell us what authoritarians they are. #MoscowMitch famously said, [W]inners make policy and losers go home. Uh, compromise is the heart of democracy. Democracy is inherently centerist because of it. Or Smitch’s boast that he had saved the Supreme Court for a generation when he defied the Constitution and denied Merrick Garland a hearing. Or Gnewt Gingrich’s pining for a permanent majority back in the nineties. Permanent majority? What the fuck is that? The new president-for-life? The Repubes have been on an authoritarian mission since Nixon. They’ve just found their wrecking ball in the Ol’ Pussy Grabber.

Another prescient quote: And since [the Ol’ Pussy Grabber] plans to use the judicial system to carry out his political vendettas, his pick for attorney general will be no less important…. Imagine [the AG] going after Hillary Clinton on orders from [the Ol’ Pussy Grabber].

RULE #2: Do not be taken in by signs of normality

Remember way back in 2017 and the longing for the turn toward being presidential? Remember people holding their breath and wondering if this gesture — stumbling blandly through a speech read from a teleprompter — might be IT! Man, those were the days.

Remember, the excuse making? He’s joking. He wouldn’t really do that! He didn’t mean it! It’s just the way he talks.

There are few signs of normality now, right? There are few laws passed by Congress. Not for lack of bills being voted on in the House. The first year of the Democratic House majority, they’ve passed over 400 of them where they serve as tombstones collecting dust in Smitch’s graveyard. They’ve been approving judicial appointees like crazy. They aren’t normal judges, though. They are all uniquely unqualified to serve in the federal judiciary.

Since the acquittal, the race to the bottom seems to have picked up pace and come out into the open.

It seems that with each passing day, there are fewer and fewer signs of normality. In spite of assurances to the contrary from the White House.

RULE #3: Institutions will not save you

The Senate is an institution. It just sold us up the river by refusing — yet again — to do its Constitutional duty and check and balance the fat hairless orange ass squatting on the couches in the Oval while Russian pee-hookers piss on the Resolute Desk and American democratic values.

For institutions to work, as we’ve seen in the DOJ and Senate, you have to have people dedicated to the ideals of democracy and following not only the laws but our democratic norms and ideals. Without that commitment by the people occupying those offices, you don’t have a democratic institution.

If the electorate insists on voting in 51 Senators who will turn their backs on our democracy and Mitt Romney who will support our democracy on every other Tuesday otherwise he’ll suck his teeth and offer stern warnings of misgivings, then we won’t have a democracy.

We The People are the foundation of our democratic institutions. If we don’t insist that those we’ve elected and those they’ve appointed abide by our traditions, then we don’t have a democracy.

This extends to the press. When We The People started supporting Fox News and Breitbart and their ilk, we began on the slippery slope to where we are today: holding on by our fingernails at the precipice of authoritarianism.

RULE #4: Be outraged

The Ol’ Pussy Grabber and the Repubes have been drowning us in shit for years. Our capacity for outrage has been diluted in the same way that lab rats can habituate to noxious stimuli.

But here’s the thing: if you have my Twitter feed or Facebook page, you see plenty of outrage. OMG, people tweet, it’s unbelievable! Why aren’t we in the streets? Here’s a picture from South Korea or Hong Kong, why aren’t we protesting like that? Here’s my meme.

Yeah, right. That’s not the outrage she means. It is sort of. It’s like outrage lite.

When we were trying to influence the impeachment trial in the Senate, I cannot tell you how many times I tweeted that people should call only their senators because they only tally the opinions of their constituents and the number of times people said, I don’t care, I’m calling Sen. X, Y, or Z anyway. Or the number of people who called senators and left obscenity strewn comments with a crust of threats. This is not outrage. It’s anger. It’s stupid. It’s ineffective.

I can’t tell you how many tweets and comments on other forums about how it’s not that bad in response to my posts about the increasingly authoritarian, totalitarian, fascist tone of the administration and Repube Party.

Notice how we started with mass protests in the streets and are ending with memes on Twitter. It’s not that we don’t have protests any more, they just aren’t as well attended.

RULE #5: Don’t make compromises

But, wait, didn’t you just say that compromise was the heart of democracy? Ooh, me brain hurts!

Well, right Mr. Gumby. Compromise is the heart of democracy. That is compromise by the majority party with the minority party. You know to honor their views, needs, and desires.

The authoritarians will make this same argument, and they do.

But, we cannot compromise with the corrupting touch of autocracy, from which the future must be protected, as Gessen writes. There can be no room for compromise such as censoring the Ol’ Pussy Grabber instead of impeaching him, like letting him play out the clock in the courts by resisting subpoenas, or allowing him to gut Medicare and Social Security to pay for the unwanted, unneeded, and unwise tax cuts for the wealthy.

The Congressional Repubes have been nickel and diming themselves into this position where they now have given him carte blanche to commit any crime he wants including selling our national security and elections to Russia.

RULE #6: Remember the future

There will be a time after the Ol’ Pussy Grabber. Hell he’s in his early 70’s and in terrible health. He probably won’t live until 2024 whether re-elected or not. He might not even make it until November 2020 the way he’s going. But, the problem is two-fold.

First, he and the Repubes have done real damage to our democracy. They have undermined confidence in our elections and encouraged the easily influenced and the authoritarians among us — on both sides of the political divide, that’s right, we’re looking at you Sanders supporters — to challenge the peaceful transfer of power that has been the hallmark of our elections since the beginning. How many state legislatures passed lame duck legislation to hamstring the incoming Democratic administration? That’s not the peaceful transfer of power. The Repubes are no longer interested in maintaining our democracy. They won’t play by the democratic traditions and norms any more. Not their elected officials, not the rank and vile Repubes, and certainly not the Ol’ Pussy Grabber.

So, even as the Old Pussy Grabber passes into the nether regions, if we have a judiciary stacked with radically incompetent judges, a legislature that will rubber stamp an authoritarian Repube and obstruct a Democratic administration, and rigged elections, we won’t have a republic any longer. I don’t know that Biden’s assumed epiphany will happen.

And second, as our climate deteriorates further and extreme weather becomes more common, we’ll see a breakdown in the social order. The Ol’ Pussy Grabber is furthering the destruction of our environment. Is it because the rich believe climate change will be a small inconvenience for them that their riches will insulate them against? Or is it because they’re banking on the effect that climate change will have on supporting the installation of an authoritarian regime? Or is it because Putin believes climate change will be a net positive for him and Russia while hurting everyone else? Which ever it is, the Ol’ Pussy Grabber’s wanton destruction of our chance at muting the effects of climate change will not be something that we will recover from or cope with easily.

Yes, we will have a future, and there will be life after the Ol’ Pussy Grabber, but, oh man, what kind of life will that be? Have I said, we’re so fucked, lately? Well, y’all, we’re fucked because we are the United Fucking States of Fucking Stupid!

Image Attribution

The image was found using a Bing search for a Creative Commons licensed image because we’re stuck inside in China and the damn VPN is on the fritz. How is that even fair? I can’t tell who made the image or where it was originally posted, but Bing links to this website.

3 comments

  1. We will hear soon (if not, in some quarters, already) the question, “If we can’t trust the results of elections, why bother having them?” That question is the death rattle in the breath of democracy.

    I’ve had the thought that it Trump is re-elected and/or the Republicans keep the Senate majority, saner nations and some business interests who want to avoid full environmental and economic collapse will seek to rein in the US with sanctions, tariffs, and such. The trouble is that that would send the whole system into recession/depression even sooner. They face a real “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” situation.

    Liked by 1 person

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