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Anger: The Operating System of Fascism

Anger has long played a key role in authoritarian regimes. Since before Julius Caesar, slick propagandists with fascist agendas have routinely used the anger of the downtrodden to market lies and distract attention. The Republican party, taking full advantage of the ignorance and poor education of its constituency, has learned well how to gull the gullible into ignoring their own interests and focusing instead on their anger. Not that the anger isn’t real. It roils in the gut of people who sense they’ve been screwed, but who aren’t sure how, why, or by whom. They just feel messed with, and in the absence of coherent explanations they look for someone to be angry at. Right-wing media is, of course, happy to provide. In that airtight, fact-free bubble, there’s never a shortage of “other” people to blame for everything wrong in their lives: Blacks, women, immigrants, the deep state, Muslims, Jews, queer folk of every stripe, and most of all, Democrats. The anger is always on simme
Recent posts

Committing Crimes to Stay Out of Prison

We have arrived, at long last, at the beginning of what will soon be an avalanche of legal issues that are likely to dominate the rest of Donald Trump’s life. What will come of these cases remains up in the air, and the pace of legal procedure is frustratingly glacial. But regardless of the actual charges — or the evidence being brought — it has been evident to anyone paying attention that criminal behavior was the background hum of Trump’s entire career. Perhaps not surprisingly, it’s been evident to Trump as well. Which is why virtually his entire presidency begs to be seen — almost exclusively — through the lens of a guy fearing punishment.  He was committing crimes to stay out of prison. An unusual approach, to be sure, but it's the underlying cause of every vile action of the Trump era.  The media only rarely ties cause and effect together, which is disturbing. It’s not that they haven’t chronicled Trump’s crimes, it’s just that they either didn’t see, or couldn’t acknow

Kompromat, and Why You Can’t Assume Allen Weisselberg will Flip

In my last post, I wandered into the slippery world of idle speculation — sort of a second cousin to conspiracy theory — and found I quite enjoyed it. So continuing in that vein, I’ll weigh in on a question being asked a lot these days:   Why won’t Trump Organization CFO, Allen Weisselberg, flip on Trump? It seems a no-brainer. Between the almost certain prison time and the family upheavals he faces, it is inconceivable that loyalty to Trump could extend that far. But what if it’s not about Trump? What if he’s keeping his mouth shut for more existential reasons? What if the consequences of singing are more dire than we know? Ever wonder why Paul Manafort didn’t flip on Trump? Why he chose real prison time over spilling secrets? I don’t believe for a minute it was for Trump — trusting Trump for anything, much less a future pardon, would be deluded. But when you think about the circles Manafort ran in back in 2015 — the people the Mueller investigation was trying to get him to

Was the Fight Over Obamacare a GOP Scam All Along?

Please bear with me as I indulge in a flight of fancy, a reasoned rearrangement of existing facts into a theory that may or may not be provable. I know, it sounds uncomfortably Republican, but hear me out. It’s not my intention to rewrite history, just to look at it from another angle. Which might just prove instructive. I have always been puzzled by the failure of the GOP to kill the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — “Obamacare” — especially when they had their big chance in 2017. They had a president (of sorts) who had repeatedly declared Obamacare “a total disaster.” They had a majority in both houses of Congress. They had the House pass a repeal bill — remember Paul Ryan toasting the tantalizing prospect of twenty million new uninsured? Repeal was just a Senate vote away. Senate Republicans, meanwhile, had designed — using the budget “reconciliation” tactic we now know so well — a filibuster-proof bill, and they’d told the world they were on a mission to “repeal and replace” Obamac

How Do We Fight Back Against What We All See Coming?

The country is heading over a cliff and the brake lines have been cut. This is readily apparent to anyone paying attention. A rogue political party with malign intent and vast resources is bent on dismantling our entire system, and they’re doing it in plain sight. They assume we’ll just let them. The question is what to do about it. Yes, we hold slim majorities in the legislative branch, but those majorities are frighteningly fragile. If the filibuster is altered — which seems both necessary and inevitable — it could backfire spectacularly when Republicans next take power. Which is more than possible, even as soon as 2022. Democracy itself seems to be backed against the wall. This leaves @Shoq — who takes this all quite personally — perplexed and frustrated. Most of his 25,000 Twitter followers get nourishment from his acerbic but cogent analyses of the ills we face, and they know that his alarmism is well backed by facts, reason, and perspective. The trouble he sees — and wha

How Today's Republican Party Got That Way

In many ways, the rise of Trump was an accident. But in many more ways, it was the culmination — and the accelerant — of pernicious forces that have been at work for well over half a century. Even among my readers there are those who remain largely unaware of how the GOP became the party of authoritarian rule. While I can hardly tell the whole story, I can point out three intersecting plot lines that built slowly but ominously to our current state of emergency. Let’s remember: The Powell Memorandum By the time Louis F. Powell Jr. — soon to be a Nixon-appointed Supreme Court justice — wrote his famous memo to the US Chamber of Commerce, the business world was hurting and angry. It was 1971, and a wave of progressive regulation had just been enacted to hold companies accountable for the safety of their workers, the protection of their consumers, and their treatment of the environment. Complying with these new laws was expensive and infuriating, and the captains of industry were s

4 Ways to Keep the News Media from Stressing You Out

It’s a given that the next three years — or ten or twenty — will bring much stress to anyone who enjoys objective reality. The stink of Trump has proved thicker and more toxic than we expected. Republicans have stopped pretending democracy holds their interest, and they’re actively working to bring it down. So if you’re feeling like oh shit you have to save the damn country yet again, you’re not alone. And yes, it’s stressful. At the same time, there are lots of companies making lots of money from our stress — either by relieving it or exacerbating it. Media companies do both. They have a vested interest in keeping our psyches on a slow boil. The stories they tell get us stressed out, worked up, and angry as hell. At which point they sell us the very products and services we need to calm us down — anything from gym memberships to prescription drugs, to Jack Daniels, to Bacon Whoppers with cheese. Yes, we want to follow the news, but can we do it less stressfully? As a person wh