More Kook Than Coup

A shameful farce continues to unfold.

The NYT’s David Sanger argues “Trump’s Attempts to Overturn the Election Are Unparalleled in U.S. History.”

President Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election are unprecedented in American history and an even more audacious use of brute political force to gain the White House than when Congress gave Rutherford B. Hayes the presidency during Reconstruction.

Mr. Trump’s chances of succeeding are somewhere between remote and impossible, and a sign of his desperation after President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. won by nearly six million popular votes and counting, as well as a clear Electoral College margin. Yet the fact that Mr. Trump is even trying has set off widespread alarms, not least in Mr. Biden’s camp.

[…]

Mr. Trump has only weeks to make his last-ditch effort work: Most of the states he needs to strip Mr. Biden of votes are scheduled to certify their electors by the beginning of next week. The electors cast their ballots on Dec. 14, and Congress opens them in a joint session on Jan. 6.

Even if Mr. Trump somehow pulled off his electoral vote switch, there are other safeguards in place, assuming people in power do not simply bend to the president’s will.

The comparison with 1876 really doesn’t work here, in that Hayes was not the incumbent President and the outcome of four states was genuinely in dispute in that contest and there’s no serious question in this one. But the fact that Trump has essentially no chance to swing the election outcome and Hayes did is a bigger deal than Sanger acknowledges.

Philip Rucker, Amy Gardner, and Josh Dawsey have a similar piece at WaPo headlined “Trump uses power of presidency to try to overturn the election and stay in office.”

President Trump is using the power of his office to try to reverse the results of the election, orchestrating a far-reaching pressure campaign to persuade Republican officials in Michigan, Georgia and elsewhere to overturn the will of voters in what critics decried Thursday as an unprecedented subversion of democracy.

After courts rejected the Trump campaign’s baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud, the president is now trying to remain in power with a wholesale assault on the integrity of the vote by spreading misinformation and trying to persuade loyal Republicans to manipulate the electoral system on his behalf.

In an extraordinary news conference Thursday at the Republican National Committee headquarters, Trump’s attorneys claimed without evidence there was a centralized conspiracy with roots in Venezuela to rig the U.S. presidential election. They alleged voter fraud in Atlanta, Detroit, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and other cities whose municipal governments are controlled by Democrats and where President-elect Joe Biden won by large margins.

This is, without question, outrageous conduct on the part of the President and his cronies. That more Republican leaders in Congress aren’t condemning this in the strongest terms and assuring their constituents that Biden won the election fair and square is shameful.

But it’s more farce than coup. The courts have ruled Biden’s way at every turn. The election boards, even in states where Republicans control the mechanisms, are doing their jobs. Biden will be the officially certified winner in enough states to assure him of 270 Electoral votes by next week.

It’s a sad, shameful gambit by the President and it’s being aided and abetted by cowards for reasons I can’t fully fathom. But our democracy, such as it is, has not been “subverted.” Trump will exit office no later than noon January 20 and Biden will be inaugurated the 46th President. There’s simply zero doubt of that.

“We cannot allow these crooks — ’cause that’s what they are — to steal an election from the American people,” said one of the attorneys, Rudolph W. Giuliani. “They elected Donald Trump; they didn’t elect Joe Biden. Joe Biden is in the lead because of the fraudulent ballots, the illegal ballots that were produced and that were allowed to be used after the election was over. Give us an opportunity to prove it in court and we will.”

Neither Giuliani nor other Trump attorneys have furnished evidence to support that or any other claim of widespread fraud.

Thursday’s show by Trump’s lawyers disquieted many, including Christopher Krebs, the Trump-appointed director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency whom the president fired Tuesday after he stated publicly that the election had been secure.

“That press conference was the most dangerous 1hr 45 minutes of television in American history. And possibly the craziest,” Krebs wrote on Twitter.

On Capitol Hill, senior Democrats ratcheted up their rhetoric. “I think this borders on treason,” said House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.). “He is undermining the very essence of democracy, which is: You go to the poll, you vote and the people decide. There’s no doubt that the people decided.”

But, the thing is, this is widely being treated for what it is: bizarre theater. There’s no both-sides reporting of this from any of the major outlets. While Fox continues to give their air to firebrands scaring old people, the news side of the house is reporting things like “Joe Biden wins presidential race in Georgia, defeating Trump; Biden now has 306 electoral votes” and “Biden turns 78, will be oldest US president.”

Indeed Dawsey’s separate report, with Dan Zak, on the press conference (“Rudy Giuliani’s post-election meltdown starts to become literal“) explicitly treats it as farce.

It’s very simple, according to Rudolph W. Giuliani and the rest of President Trump’s legal posse, but also very vast. China is in on it. Cuba is in on it. Antifa and George Soros are in on it. At least two presidents of Venezuela, one dead and one living, are in on it. Big Tech is in on it; a Web server from Germany is involved (there’s always a server involved). Multiple major U.S. cities are in on it, as are decent American citizens who volunteer at polling precincts. Argentina is in on it, too, sort of. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley was in on it back in 1960, when, according to an unproved conspiracy theory, he stole the presidency for John F. Kennedy, thereby launching an ongoing pattern of corrupt cities stuffing or scrapping ballots. The “it” is a massive, premeditated scheme to steal the election from Donald Trump, according to Giuliani, and it also involved corralling poll watchers at great distances from the ballot counting.

Perhaps a cinematic example would help explain.

“Did you all watch ‘My Cousin Vinny?’ You know, the movie?” Giuliani asked Thursday. He was sweating at a lectern in the small lobby of the Republican National Committee headquarters on Capitol Hill. “It’s one of my favorite law movies, ’cause he comes from Brooklyn.”

About 100 journalists and hangers-on had crammed into this potential coronavirus incubator for a news conference on the perverse legal strategy of President Donald J. Trump’s failed reelection campaign, which Giuliani is trying to hustle toward a twist ending. As the former New York mayor digressed about votes that could’ve been cast by dead people and Mickey Mouse, Trump campaign officials were at their headquarters in nearby Rosslyn, Va., winding down operations and closing out the budget.

That it’s a sad, bizarre, joke doesn’t make it not dangerous. Millions will somehow be fooled by it. But it’s just not going to change the outcome of the election. Nobody really thinks otherwise.

Peggy Noonan captures it perfectly in her column headline: “A Bogus Dispute Is Doing Real Damage.”

No hard evidence of widespread fraud, no success in the courts or prospect of it. You can have a theory that a bad thing was done, but only facts will establish it. You need to do more than what Rudy Giuliani did at his news conference Thursday, which was throw out huge, barely comprehensible allegations and call people “crooks.” You need to do more than Sidney Powell, who, at the same news conference, charged that “communist money” is behind an international conspiracy to rig the U.S. election. There was drama, hyperbole, perhaps madness. But the wilder the charges, the more insubstantial the case appeared.

More than two weeks after the election, it’s clear where this is going. The winner will be certified and acknowledged; Joe Biden will be inaugurated. But it’s right to worry about the damage being done on the journey.

While Republicans in Congress are mostly refusing to publicly stand up against Trump’s outrages, they’re clearly fully expecting to seat Biden. We’re getting daily reports along the lines of POLITICO’s “Republican Senate signals it will confirm Biden Cabinet.” While that’s the minimum standard, not something laudatory, it’s rather clear evidence that the institutions are moving toward the inevitable outcome.

National Review’s Kevin Williamson calls this “The Dumbest Coup” and makes a rather salient point:

I’ve been writing about conspiracy theories for a while now — QAnon, the Flat-Earth gang, etc. — and one of the things you quickly learn about conspiracy theories is that every conspiracy theory is, in some part, every other conspiracy theory: They all overlap, in part or entirely.

Donald Trump has always been a conspiracy kook — vaccines, 9/11, Obama’s birth certificate, etc. — and he came into the presidency retailing a conspiracy theory: Let’s not forget that he also claimed that the 2016 election was illegitimate, that he’d actually won the popular vote but that electoral fraud had made it appear otherwise. Trump is a conspiracy kook who surrounded himself with other conspiracy kooks and cultivated kooky impulses in his aides, meaning that he is a kook in himself and the cause of kookery in others. The new Dominion-based conspiracy theory is only a variation on a longstanding theme.

And what we are seeing now, in the twilight of Trump’s kookery, is the merger of QAnon, the Republican Party, and the large part of the conservative movement that earns its bread by peddling miracle veggie pills to gullible elderly people on the radio. When I first starting writing about QAnon, some conservatives scoffed that it wasn’t a significant phenomenon, that it had no real influence on the Republican Party or conservative politics. That is obviously untrue. Rather than ask whether conspiracy kookery is relevant to Republican politics at this moment, it would be better to ask if there is anything else to Republican politics at this moment. And maybe there is, but not much.

This raises some uncomfortable questions for conservatives. One of those questions is: How long are we going to keep pretending that this madness isn’t madness? Another is: How long will we continue to pretend that what’s being broadcast by Fox News and talk radio is political commentary rather than the most shameful, irresponsible, and unpatriotic kind of sycophantic for-profit propaganda? A third is: What exactly is the benefit — for our ideas, and for the country — of making common cause with these lunatics and hucksters?

Again, the fact that the “news” side of Fox News is playing this straight is encouraging. But the fact that Murdoch and others continue to profit from spreading poisonous conspiracies to entertain the rubes is not.

I don’t know how a society, much less a democracy, can function with people living in wildy different realities. We’re never going to return to the days of three television networks that broadcast a rather standardized set of news into everyone’s home. But we have to somehow get to a common understanding of what’s happening around us.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. mattbernius says:

    I don’t know how a society, much less a democracy, can function with people living in wildy different realities.

    I think this really demonstrates the challenge of “the marketplace of ideas.” Economists and other social scientists have shown time and time again that what “rational choice” looks like to an individual may be completely antithetical to “rational choice” on a society/culture-wide level.

    We have an entire media complex whose very lucrative existence is based on affect loading (in particular anger and resentment) and then telling them exactly what they want to hear with no regard for whether or not it’s true (or good for us on a society level).

    Folks on both sides of that equation are making rational decisions from their perspective. The producers are opting for profit. The audience is opting for righteous indignation because it feels good (not to mention that to some degree many are correct that their mode of cultural power is on the decline and they want to maintain that). That’s a reflexive information feedback loop and I don’t see how to break it (or how it creates space for anything other than the profitable party line in the marketplace).

    And this is where we end up, with only approximately 1 in 10 elected Republican officials willing to admit that Biden is President Elect (let alone that what Trump is doing is despicable).

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  2. Jen says:

    Again, the fact that the “news” side of Fox News is playing this straight is encouraging.

    Barely. The problem is that the opinion side of Fox News is what attracts the zealots, and instead of being persuaded by the news side, they dismiss anything that doesn’t fit their narrative (conspiracies), and chastise the news side for being sellouts and part of the liberal news blah, blah, blah.

    A lot of those folks are picking up their toys and decamping to fringey corners, like OAN.

    This is dangerous. FOX News Channel has fed this monster, thinking it was a single snake but instead it’s a many-headed Hydra.

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  3. Kylopod says:

    Mr. Trump’s chances of succeeding are somewhere between remote and impossible

    I still can’t bring myself to believe this is true. I’m getting distinct 2016 vibes here. Throughout the 2016 cycle, from practically the moment Trump came down that escalator, everyone was doing the Vizzini “Inconceivable!” thing. No way Trump was going to enter the race; no way he was going to win a single primary; no way he was going to win the nomination; no way would he win the general election.

    I was doing it myself even though at the back of my mind I realized that if it were a movie, Trump was inevitably going to be the next president. In movies, whenever characters say something will never happen, it inevitably does. I just thought, well, life isn’t a movie.

    In any case, people absolutely were not doing this during the 2020 election. Pretty much everyone was mentally prepared for the possibility of Trump winning again. They’d learned their lesson. In fact people were bending over backwards to give that possibility serious credence, no matter what the polls showed.

    But now, after the election’s over and we’re witnessing the first open coup attempt in modern American history, we’re back to smug complacency. I knew it had to return at some point. Welcome back, Vizzini.

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  4. James Joyner says:

    @Jen: Oh, absolutely. And, while their website is certainly carrying the “Biden won” stories, they’re not the ones being promoted.

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  5. JohnSF says:

    I always thought the kook coup arrived in the spring.

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  6. Blue Galangal says:

    @Jen: Indeed. Go look at the comments on the MattWalshBlog for an easy and quick view. About half are wait and see, maybe a third are “but why won’t Powell show us any evidence?” and the rest are bemoaning Tucker’s co-option by the Derp State. That 1/3 may or may not be gettable: many of them will be on to blind belief again tomorrow.

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  7. CSK says:

    Look, Trump knows he lost. His enablers know he lost. What, then, is the point of this charade? Let me enumerate the following: Aside from the fact that Trump is a vindictive swine who enjoys creating chaos (don’t take my word for it; he said so himself) and hopes to create as many problems for his successor as he can, he’s making sure that a huge, resentful, angry mob of devotees follows him out of office. They’ll treat him as the Rightful-President-in-Exile. They’ll constitute a built-in audience for Trump TV. And most of all, they’ll feed his endless need for attention.

    If he plays his cards right, he could even whip them into rebellion.

    Don’t be surprised if he holds a superspreader rally at the same time Biden is being inaugurated.

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  8. mattbernius says:

    Question — and I feel like this is one that James and Steven have answered before — to fit the textbook description, do “coups” need to have a military component? I seem to remember the answer is “yes” but I wanted to confirm.

    And if the answer is “yes,” then what is the proper terminology for one party overturning the results of an election through quasi-legislative and judicial means?

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  9. Scott says:

    While Republicans in Congress are mostly refusing to publicly stand up against Trump’s outrages, they’re clearly fully expecting to seat Biden.

    Are they? The real question is: if Republicans thought could get away with this, knowing it is wrong, and damaging to the country, its institutions, and its basic foundations, would they try?

    I think the answers is yes.

    Trump is not doing this all by himself. There is an entire infrastructure of willing fellow travelers in the highest levels of government, including Congress, who are enabling him. These people are the ones most dangerous. I usually hate to use Hitler analogies but he wouldn’t have gotten anywhere without the support of the Prussian aristocracy and the Lutheran establishment.

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  10. grumpy realist says:

    I’m getting to the point where I think we should start demanding that these idiots prove what they’re claiming–and if they can’t and it all dissolves in conspiracy theories and “deep state” and “the lame stream media are hiding the evidence from us!” that they be dumped into the wilds with a backpack of seeds and an axe (my kinder version of the guillotine.)

    We can’t continue pandering to people’s egos. At some point reality has to hit. And HARD.

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  11. Kylopod says:

    @mattbernius:

    to fit the textbook description, do “coups” need to have a military component?

    I’ve been seeing the term autogolpe used in some articles over the past couple of weeks. It is sometimes termed a “self coup” (that’s the term Wikipedia uses) or autocoup.

    The scholars can call it what they want. It doesn’t change the fact that what we’re witnessing is a serious sustained attempt to end American democracy and turn this country into an authoritarian state, which–let’s be clear–is absolutely what will happen if Trump succeeds in his attempts to overturn the election results.

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  12. a country lawyer says:

    James the picture you posted proves what we’ve all known. Giuliani is so full of bullshit it’s coming out of his ears.

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  13. Jon says:

    @Kylopod: My understanding is that autogolpe is used in the context of a current regime not relinquishing power (hence self coup), whereas a “traditional” coup is an out-party taking power from the current regime. So the terms depend on who is … couping?

    And I don’t believe the military is required for it to be a coup. Probably helps to have ’em on your side though 😉

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  14. Jen says:

    I’m a bit concerned that Trump is going to use the pending government shutdown as some kind of leverage in this mess.

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  15. drj says:

    That it’s a sad, bizarre, joke doesn’t make it not dangerous. Millions will somehow be fooled by it. But it’s just not going to change the outcome of the election.

    Failed coups are still coups.

    And yes, it is more sad and ridiculous than a genuine threat – for now, at least.

    But as @Kylopod pointed out, Trump’s 2016 run started out as sad joke, too. And look where that got us.

    Also, Reuters:

    In Reuters interviews with 50 Trump voters, all said they believed the election was rigged or in some way illegitimate. Of those, 20 said they would consider accepting Biden as their president, but only in light of proof that the election was conducted fairly. Most repeated debunked conspiracy theories espoused by Trump, Republican officials and conservative media claiming that millions of votes were dishonestly switched to Biden in key states by biased poll workers and hacked voting machines.

    This doesn’t bode well for the next elections.

    Then there is this:

    Brett Fryar is like many mainstream Republicans. A 50-year-old chiropractor in this west Texas town, he owns a small business. He has two undergraduate degrees and a master’s degree, in organic chemistry. He attends Southcrest Baptist Church in nearby Lubbock, where he has previously taught Sunday school and bible studies. […]

    Now, Fryar says he would go to war for Trump. He has joined the newly formed South Plains Patriots, a group of a few hundred members that includes a “reactionary” force of about three dozen – including Fryar and his son, Caleb – who conduct firearms training. […]

    “If President Trump comes out and says: ‘Guys, I have irrefutable proof of fraud, the courts won’t listen, and I’m now calling on Americans to take up arms,’ we would go,” said Fryar, wearing a button-down shirt, pressed slacks and a paisley tie during a recent interview at his office.

    The problem is that while the adults should be able to save us, there are, in fact, too few adults actually interested in doing so, as the shameful abdication of responsibility by the GOP clearly shows.

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  16. Scott says:

    @grumpy realist:

    (my kinder version of the guillotine)

    Guillotine is actually kinder so let’s go with the axe and seed.

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  17. gVOR08 says:

    @mattbernius:

    what is the proper terminology for one party overturning the results of an election through quasi-legislative and judicial means?

    Yesterday Cheryl Rofer, front pager at Balloon Juice and occasional commenter here, taught me a new word, “autogolpe”.

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  18. MarkedMan says:

    So I was driving into work this morning listening to a podcast about Friedrich Kellner, a German official who kept a diary from before Hitler was “elected” as dictator, with the specific purpose of documenting the crimes he knew would be coming. He realized that rhetoric was turning into action, and officials and other leaders were going along to get along. Gradually, the insufficiently enthusiastic ones were replaced with partisans who would take the initiative in the crimes they were committing.

    Yes, I’m making an analogy to Nazi Germany, but I’m doing so because this situation has been analogous for some time and continues down that path. We may yet successfully seat Biden, but Republican officials at the highest level have shown once again that they will not protect our democracy and will go along with a wannabe despot as long as that despot has the adulation of the mob. The Republican leadership falls into two categories: the actively evil, and the sheep, who want the power but never had any intention of accepting the responsibility that came with it.

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  19. JohnSF says:

    @Scott:
    Read your comment before grumpy realist’s and was thinking: “ooh, is this some sort of exotic medieval execution-with-extreme-prejudice technique I’ve not heard of before.” 🙂

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  20. J. Foobar says:

    As a side issue to this, I am actually very curious to see how Fox News deals with this shifting landscape in the longer term. They are clearly being out-crazied by OAN and several online outlets and I suspect this is a lunacy arms race that they are reluctant to engage in. The fairly straightforward behavior of their news division in recent weeks combined with skeptical behavior even from a pinhead like Tucker Carlson would seem to be signaling this.

    They cannot really allow themselves to become too fringe (even if the “fringe” is made up by 35-40% of Americans) since they need advertising revenue to survive.

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  21. grumpy realist says:

    Another medieval habit I think we should bring back is that of hanging paintings showing the punishments inflicted upon corrupt judges in the courtroom. Since most of our judges seem to be handling themselves pretty well, I suggest we extend this to politicians…..

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  22. Sleeping Dog says:

    Last evening I began wondering if Trump and his enablers, Rudy et.al. could be charged with sedition? Perhaps the lawyers here could venture an opinion?

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  23. Nightcrawler says:

    I don’t know how a society, much less a democracy, can function with people living in wildy different realities.

    It can’t. The U.S. is going to end up splitting into 3-4 different countries. When these looney Red States secede, we should just let them go. I’m willing to fight and kill in a war to protect myself and my family. I’m sure as hell not willing to fight and kill to keep places like MS and SD in the Union. That is not the hill upon which I wish to die, and I strongly suspect most people would agree with me.

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  24. James Joyner says:

    @mattbernius@Kylopod: Yes, “autogolpe” or “self-coup” is probably the closest to what Trump is attempting. But even that’s not right. He’s not trying to dissolve the Congress and the courts and take full control. Honestly, since he has zero chance of winning, I’m not sure what the hell he’s trying to do.

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  25. James Joyner says:

    @drj:

    But as @Kylopod pointed out, Trump’s 2016 run started out as sad joke, too. And look where that got us.

    2016 was a really, really weird election. But Trump actually won that one and rightly assumed the presidency as a result. The system that allowed that to happen is extremely flawed and unrepresentative but it was the system that was in place and we agreed to abide by.

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  26. Kylopod says:

    @James Joyner: Alright, I hate to be that guy, and I know we were all in the same boat at the time, but, just as a reminder, um….

    Donald Trump Apparently Pretending To Run For President Again

    Doug Mataconis · Wednesday, March 18, 2015

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  27. Kathy says:

    @James Joyner:

    What’s a toddler trying to do when they cry and kick and bang their fists on every surface?

    Frankly, Trump would look far less ridiculous doing that than the tantrum he’s throwing now.

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  28. Michael Reynolds says:

    If we had 1860 to do all over again I’d say let them go, block any expansion, boycott their products, close every port, open borders to runaway slaves and finance guerrilla forces inside the Confederacy to attack plantations. They’d have started losing states – Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Texas most likely to be early defectors.

    Use a blockade of New Orleans like a tap, turning trade through NO up or down as suited. NO would see the writing on the wall and be happy to declare itself an open city in exchange for river trade coming down and world trade coming in. The only thing we ever needed from the Confederacy was the Mississippi river.

    Some version of the Confederacy would survive, but it would be small, squalid and weak.

    Of course hindsight and northern racism and the absence of sound insurgency theory all make that scenario impossible. But just think how much better off we’d be without having to drag Alabama behind us for the last century and a half.

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  29. Jay L Gischer says:

    The thing I’d fight for is democracy itself. If one party can, on losing an election, take its ball and go home, you can’t have a democracy. I have been on the losing side many, many times without doing that. They can grow up and do the same.

    I’m just relieved that Brett Fryar says he wants evidence. There’s a shred of doubt there. I imagine that he’s aware of Trump’s relationship with the truth.

    And yet he feels that “several million votes were switched” is consistent with the information he was seeing before the election. I find this puzzling in the extreme, since if anything the data – all the data I’m aware of – would support a switch the other way if anything.

    So what was it that gave guys like Brett Fryar the idea that Trump was a sure thing to win in the first place?

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  30. Kathy says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    You’d think so, wouldn’t you?

    What I do know is there is plenty of evidence in the Mueller report as to trump’s obstruction of justice. There’s ample reason to suspect he is guilty of the same campaign finance violations that landed Cohen in prison, too. And there is good reason to suspect a myriad other financial crimes, as per the investigations being conducted in New York.

    Also, this latest round of damage to America’s democracy and institutions cannot, must not, go unanswered. Biden has mused he won’t go after Trump. If he doesn’t, in light of what we’re witnessing today, he’d be negligent in his duties under the oath he’ll take come January, to protect, preserve and defend the Constitution of the United States.

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  31. Michael Cain says:

    @James Joyner:

    Honestly, since he has zero chance of winning, I’m not sure what the hell he’s trying to do.

    He’s not trying to do anything, he’s throwing a tantrum. The real question is how much damage he can do on the way out. Mnuchin pulled the plug on the pandemic-related emergency loan program yesterday. We need some sort of budget and (I think) debt ceiling bills passed and signed before Dec 11. I can imagine Trump vetoing both. If Mnuchin is actually going to discuss stimulus spending with Congress, my guess is that he’ll be canned sooner rather than later. He’s got another eight weeks to fire senior people so that it doesn’t matter if Biden gets the transition funding, there won’t be anyone to talk to.

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  32. gVOR08 says:

    @James Joyner:

    But even that’s not right. He’s not trying to dissolve the Congress and the courts and take full control. Honestly, since he has zero chance of winning, I’m not sure what the hell he’s trying to do.

    I see @Kylopod: and @Jon: got to autogolpe before I did. We have a Federal system and Trump apparently is trying to suborn the MI legislature into backing him and he thinks he has the fix in if Rudy and Sidney Powell can get this to the Supremes. The problem is that we’re trying to fit reality based terminology to a situation involving Trump. I think autogolpe is close enough.

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  33. Scott says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    So what was it that gave guys like Brett Fryar the idea that Trump was a sure thing to win in the first place?

    Not sure where you live but I live in Texas. What most of America does not understand is the power of the non-denominational evangelical Christians. And that power resides in the mega churches. The level of grievance and persecution among those attendees is just astounding. Just last week I went to a funeral of a friend at one of those churches. Generally, it was pretty joyful but every now and then, the mask slips and you go, hmmm.

    If this country works to get on the right track, it needs to curb that power. I would work on all the tax subsidization that supports them.

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  34. Kylopod says:

    Look, everyone, I’m not trying to be a doomsayer here. I still think, when all is said and done, Biden will be president on Jan. 20.

    The problem isn’t that the Trump coup is likely to succeed. The problem is that it’s on the table at all.

    Anyone pay attention to the asteroid that came near earth the day before the election? Scientists were quoted as giving it, like a 0.002% chance (or something, I’m not looking it up now) of hitting earth. This was enough for a few jokey memes, but not exactly a cause for alarm.

    But let’s say they’d put the chances at, say, 5%. Now, under ordinary circumstances 5% isn’t a very high probability–but it’s high enough that we’d have taken it a lot more seriously and attempted to engage in some real disaster preparation.

    That’s about where we are now regarding the success chances of Trump’s coup attempt. I don’t know if it’s 5%, 10%, 2%, or 50%–how do you measure that sort of thing? But even if the chances are low, they’re still very real. And the consequences are just too dire.

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  35. Slugger says:

    Giuliani will go down in history as the guy giving a talk at a landscape company adjacent to a crematorium and an adult gadget store. The jokes write themselves.
    Trump will go down as the guy who went golfing instead of conferring with the pandemic oversight committee or the Asian trade group association.
    Dear future, don’t laugh at us too much, please.

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  36. JohnSF says:

    @MarkedMan:
    I was trying to think if there was any occasion in recent British/UK history that is similar to the present behaviour of Trump and the Republicans.

    There’s nothing like a clearly defeated government trying to hold on to office (at least since the Great Reform Act of 1832; 18th century politics was a game of factions rather than coherent parties) which is in any case very difficult in a parliamentary system.

    But from 1910 to 1914 the Conservative denounced the Liberal government as illegitimate, especially with respect to Home Rule for Ireland, but also over tax and welfare policy.
    Essentially, neither Liberals nor Conservatives had a majority in the House of Commons, but Liberal had (marginally) more seats and the crucial support of the Irish Nationalists, and the Labour Party.
    The Conservatives had marginally more votes however, and used that to reinforce claim that the Liberals had no right to enact fundamental change.

    The depth of the crisis has disappeared from common memory in Britain; but it seemed entirely possible that civil war could break out. Conservative MPs were drilling militias, there was gun-running to Northern Ireland and the Curragh Mutiny in the army.

    Possibly only the outreak of the First World War partly resolved it; but arguably it’s consequence later included the Easter rising, the partition of Ireland, the Irish Civil War and the Ulster Troubles.

    Even stable polities can collapse if a significant part of the country become convinced of its sole right to rule.

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  37. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Scott: My daughter now lives in Houston, but I’ve spent my time on the coasts – WA, VA, and now CA.

    But as far as Houston is concerned, Joel Osteen got my attention when he refused refugees in his megachurch in Houston after Harvey.

    So, a preacher in a pulpit says “Trump is gonna win” and that’s more credible than polls that show him 10 points down? Because Democrats are pedophilic baby-killers? That’s the sort of rhetoric that drove me away from the church in the first place.

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  38. gVOR08 says:

    Digby’s place has a piece by Tom Sullivan quoting actor Edward Norton’s view that Trump is trying a desperation bluff, trying to create enough noise and chaos that somebody will cut an immunity deal to get rid of him, despite Trump having no cards. I’ve seen speculation Giuliani is trying to poison the jury pool for Trump, and himself, hoping any random 12 people will include a Trumpskyite or two. There’s a lot of talk of a ”Stolen Election” myth. This partly explains why so many GOPs are going along with him, but it can’t be Trump’s motive, he doesn’t give a damn about the Party. There’s a lot of talk he’s trying to keep the base fired up to provide an audience for Trump TV.

    Personally, I think all that gives him too much credit. He was too stupid to see he was going to lose and make any plan. So now he’s lost, he’s threatened, and he’s flailing. He’s just falling back on his default behaviors, fire up the base and sue everybody in sight. But in the process he’s teaching lessons to people who can plan, like Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton and even my beloved Senior Senator, Widdle Marco Rubio.

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  39. SC_Birdflyte says:

    I think it’s time for the bar association in NY to consider disbarring “Oozy Giuliani.” No one can stop him from making an azz of himself in public, but he should not allowed to be appear in court with any kind of professional credential.

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  40. CSK says:

    @SC_Birdflyte:
    The ironic part is that, as someone once pointed out, if Giuliani had died in 2003 or 2004, there’d be statues all over New York (and probably elsewhere) dedicated to the memory of the hero of 9/11.

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  41. inhumans99 says:

    It may just be the usual suspects speaking out against Trump’s so far not very effective attempts to straight up steal the election but Romney and Ben Sasse are both on the record as calling Trump’s actions shameful and something they never expected to see from a candidate for President of the United States.

    I guess we can say thank goodness for Giuliani, because when he is running the team that is tasked with stealing the election you know you are in trouble. Even Tucker Carlson is not on-board with what Trump is attempting to pull off.

    At least I am getting a slight vibe that Republicans are starting to feel small twitches of shame at Trump’s actions. Kylopod is right that while Biden is practically a more than 100% chance lock at getting sworn in this January the GOP’s lack of push-back at Trump’s antics erodes the trust folks on both sides of the aisle have in our political institutions.

    I wonder if someone like Bloomberg can step up to run ads after Biden is sworn in that say something like “America, the Republican Party stood by and said nothing as they could clearly see Trump trying to overturn the will of the people, remember this the next time we are called to vote. Never Forget!”

    Or something like that. The GOP’s almost complete lack of a spine (Romney and Sasse, and maybe a handful of other members of Congress who are Republicans show evidence of having a back bone) is nearly unforgivable.

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  42. CSK says:

    @gVOR08:
    The idea that Giuliani is trying to poison the jury pool has merit. In any group of twelve people–even in New York–there’s bound to be at least two or three Trumpkins who will refuse to convict. And all it takes is one to hang a jury.

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  43. sam says:

    When you’ve lost Hindrocket, maybe its time to bag it.

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  44. charon says:

    @CSK:

    Look, Trump knows he lost. His enablers know he lost.

    Questionable, arguable. Once Trump realizes he can’t win, he will be singlemindedly doing as much damage going out as possible, while slinking off to Mar a Lago. Those are not happening yet.

    @mattbernius:

    google the word autogolpe, this is what we are seeing rather than a coup.

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  45. sam says:

    Et tu, Tucker?

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  46. gVOR08 says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    But just think how much better off we’d be without having to drag Alabama behind us for the last century and a half.

    I’ve often said that when Truman decided to go along with a Jewish homeland he should have given them Alabama. Better for the Palestinians, better for the Arabs generally, better for the Jews, and better for Alabama.

    Lincoln was right to recognize that, as @Jay L Gischer: said, democracy can’t survive if the losers of an election can take their ball and go home. But had he known what the cost would be, I think he’d have let them go.

    The problem with secession is geography. First, that it’s not just the Confederate states that might go. The Cowboy states would also go, and they sit on the surface routes between the coasts.

    Second, geographical sorting is incomplete. WV de-seceded from VA. Lincoln kept trying to get an army into eastern TN to support the Unionist majority there. With malice aforethought he violated habeas corpus to thwart the secessionists in MD and equipped an irregular militia to hold Missouri. Even in Wyoming, a quarter of the electorate voted for Biden, AL a third. Northern NY and western CA are as red as Wyoming. I fear we’re stuck with patience and hoping the fever will break.

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  47. MarkedMan says:

    @J. Foobar:

    I am actually very curious to see how Fox News deals with this shifting landscape in the longer term. They are clearly being out-crazied by OAN and several online outlets and I suspect this is a lunacy arms race that they are reluctant to engage in.

    You can pretty much predict what Fox (or any business entity) is going to do by looking at their business model. Like most cable news networks, Fox’s business model is advertising, and their “special sauce” is the ability to deliver very high levels of two overlapping demographics. The first is old people. I’ve only seen them when in waiting rooms or, with the sound off, in the background at various bars and diners, but I’ve deliberately seeing what is being advertised and it seems to skew heavily to the pharmaceuticals, adult diapers and so forth for that demographic.

    Their other demographic is much more cynical. The provide gullible people who are eager to be led by those they view as authority figures. There seems to be a high percentage of gold bug and other scams, and delivering a concentrated dose of an audience susceptible for that type of nonsense is worth a lot to certain types of scammers. My guess is that the bulk of this audience is watching during Hannity and Ingraham and the other loonies.

    So, I think that pretty much spells out where Fox is going to come down. If they gave up the loons they would be fighting for the same audience as CNN and they have no advantage there.

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  48. charon says:

    @J. Foobar:

    Not all TV providers make OAN or Newsmax available. DISH, for example, does not carry them, so not all RWNJ have easy access to them.

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  49. Franklin says:

    @CSK:

    They’ll treat him as the Rightful-President-in-Exile.

    OK, you just gave me shudders. He starts issuing directives and his cult followers treat them as law. If you’ve got 50+% of the people doing this, it does become the de facto government. I know it’s lower than this, but I’m not sure how many people are THAT kooky. 5%? 15% It starts to become a real problem as some value.

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  50. MarkedMan says:

    @inhumans99:

    At least I am getting a slight vibe that Republicans are starting to feel small twitches of shame at Trump’s actions.

    I was born and raised in the Catholic Church, have12 years of Catholic Schools under my belt, and witnessed the total meltdown of the moral authority there as it became apparent that tens or hundreds of thousands of Catholics, up to the highest levels of the hierarchy, failed to do the right thing over and over. All that led me to conclude that these twinges of shame or guilt actually impede doing the right thing. Catholics felt a perverse release because of their feelings of guilt. Sure they did nothing, but wasn’t the fact that they felt guilty proof they they, at least, were still good people?

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  51. inhumans99 says:

    @sam:

    I did not know about the MN / MI mix up that as John notes in your link is pretty much a catastrophic mistake on the part of Trump’s legal team. It is telling that lawyers who could do a good enough job of winning enough cases to climb their way to the Supreme Court are pretty much nowhere to be found on Trump’s legal team.

    The stink of failure is starting to waft off of Trump and even his die-hard supporters will start to notice the smell, I think the ending of a Politico piece notes that Trump really needs to call it a wrap and accept the loss.

    I used to say that McConnell is a smart guy and will know he has to start distancing himself and the GOP from Trump but now I am not so sure. He is so obsessed with holding onto power that I think he is not seeing the trees in the forest (I think I used the saying correctly, regardless…I bet some folks on this great blog get what I am trying to say).

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  52. CSK says:

    According to http://www.vice.com, Sidney Powell is a major aficionado of QAnon.

    Why am I not surprised?

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  53. Kylopod says:

    @gVOR08:

    I’ve often said that when Truman decided to go along with a Jewish homeland he should have given them Alabama.

    I’m going to assume you’re being tongue-in-cheek, but I hasten to add that Truman didn’t “give” Israel to the Jews, he simply chose to recognize it as soon as it was created. It would have been created regardless of what he did.

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  54. CSK says:

    @charon:
    He has two months to do damage. You can wreak a lot of havoc in that time. And who’s going to stop him?

    @Franklin:
    I don’t know how many of his fans would actually go to the mattresses for him, but say it’s 15-20%. Even 5% would be a big number out of 70 million voters.

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  55. sam says:

    @charon:

    Not all TV providers make OAN or Newsmax available

    ONAN would be more accurate.

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  56. CSK says:

    @sam:
    Very funny. And probably accurate.

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  57. ImProPer says:

    @mattbernius:

    Folks on both sides of that equation are making rational decisions from their perspective. The producers are opting for profit. The audience is opting for righteous indignation because it feels good (not to mention that to some degree many are correct that their mode of cultural power is on the decline and they want to maintain that). That’s a reflexive information feedback loop and I don’t see how to break it (or how it creates space for anything other than the profitable party line in the marketplace).

    Well put, and the true nature of the beast. I don’t see an easy way to break it either. Moral outrage is a hell of a drug. Right now, we seem to be at a low point, and hopfully the pain of remaining the same, will be powerful enough to open some minds.

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  58. Mikey says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Yes, I’m making an analogy to Nazi Germany, but I’m doing so because this situation has been analogous for some time and continues down that path.

    As I’ve mentioned before, my wife was born and grew up in Germany, in the city of Nuremberg. The last time we visited her family there, we went to one of the city’s museums, the Dokumentationszentrum Reichsparteitagsgelände (Documentation Center of the Nazi Party Rally Grounds) which is focused specifically on the pre-WW2 era in Germany and the methods Hitler used in his rise to power.

    We were shaken by how similar Hitler’s methods then are to Trump’s today. The museum is arranged chronologically and the initial exhibits are like a 1…2…3 of what Trump has been doing to America since he descended the escalator in Trump Tower.

    Your analogy is all too valid.

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  59. DrDaveT says:

    @JohnSF:

    I always thought the kook coup arrived in the spring.

    Don’t be lhude.

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  60. Joe says:

    I wonder whether people like Esper would sit down with Biden’s transition team and give them his inside look at his department. As Trump continues to fire people, he might inadvertently be creating a usable transition team.

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  61. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner:

    He’s not trying to dissolve the Congress and the courts and take full control.

    He but-assess congress routinely, with a large number of acting-secretaries, and Bill Barr has been pushing his unitary executive theory. Trump also says things about how Article II allows him to do anything.

    He has put jackbooted thugs onto the streets of cities, against the will of mayors and governors.

    And he’s been stuffing the judiciary with incompetent, unqualified, far right justices who he expects will have loyalty to him. He’s even done it with the Supreme Court (whether you think Barrett is brilliant or not, three years on the bench is not enough experience for the top job, and he’s been explicit that he wanted her on the court to rule on election matters)

    He’s certainly putting all the pieces of a coup together. He’s probably going to fail, but Rome didn’t last long as a democracy after Julius Caesar failed to grab all the power.

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  62. gVOR08 says:

    @Kylopod: Quite right that it was tongue in cheek, and my phrasing of “go along with” was deliberate. But Truman still should have offered them Alabama.

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  63. gVOR08 says:

    @Gustopher: I keep saying that it’s Trump’s incompetence that is saving us, and that there is a deep bench of lying spit Republicans, some of whom are competent, taking notes.

    Biden is going to have his hands full with damage repair. I’m not confident dictator proofing the government is going to be a front line concern.

    As for Amy CB and the rest of the Federalist Society drones, if push comes to shove Trump will be surprised by how little loyalty he retains when he’s on the way out the door. But I fear Amy CB may have, like Bill Barr, a great deal of loyalty to some Dominionist version of the Unitary Executive.

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  64. MarkedMan says:

    @Kylopod: I’m assuming the reference was to a much weirder initiative seriously contemplated by the US government during WWII: relocating Jewish refugees to Alaska. This was an actual program, but Congress never approved. It got as far as printing up sample brochures.

    Michael Chabon wrote an excellent noir detective story set in an alternate Alaska where this had actually taken place, “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union“. I honestly don’t know why people are attracted to crazy loon conspiracy theories when actual reality is so much more interesting…

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  65. Northerner says:

    I don’t know how a society, much less a democracy, can function with people living in wildy different realities.

    I agree that its probably impossible for democracies, but wasn’t wildly different realities normal in early empires? Or even later ones, like the English Empire for much of its existence (say the reality of the educated in big cities compared to remote villagers? For that matter, the split in realities between the educated and uneducated in the middle ages was large in most of Europe (and probably other regions) even in more unified countries. That’s just a quibble though, what Trump and his followers are doing is insane.

    Of the leaders, all of which probably know its a lost cause, I wonder what their goal in carrying on is? Trump is probably laying out some sort of negotiating principle with this, possibly as a way to avoid prosecution (ie he won’t declare “war” if he’s not prosecuted) — and possibly as yet another way to con people out of money. Why are the rest in it? I doubt its pure cowardice — the safest route for them is to turn on Trump now that he’s clearly lost. They probably see some personal gain (at the expense of the country), but its not obvious what that might be.

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  66. Kylopod says:

    @Mikey: The whole discussion of when it is proper to use Hitler analogies has been messed up for a long time. You simply can’t bring it up anymore. People have cried wolf about it for too long, from Ben Carson comparing the ACA to Nazi Germany to that venture capitalist who said US billionaires were being treated like the Jews in Kristallnacht. It seems that a lot of people just don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about when it comes to the Nazis, they just have some vague sense of them as comic-book supervillains existing in the real world, combined with the right’s freedom-over-tyranny myth they like to believe about themselves whenever the US government is telling them not to do something they want to do, from guns to masks.

    Even when there are legitimate parallels, pointing them out can be problematic. For one thing, the Nazis are hardly unique in pulling off an authoritarian takeover of a democracy, or in their use of propaganda, or strong-arm tactics used to rig elections to get the results they favor. You can easily find less outlandish examples in the present day, from Putin to Orban to various Latin American countries. It’s also hard to separate the Nazis from their program of mass genocide–which itself is not 100% unique (though unusual in scale), but it isn’t necessary to understanding authoritarianism. It’s just what gave them their monstrous reputation, and why the comparisons are automatically considered so explosive and inflammatory.

    One thing I will say about Hitler (and we’ve discussed this before here) is that people dismissed him as a buffoon. The thing is, they weren’t wrong in thinking he was a buffoon. It’s just that a buffoon can still be dangerous. That’s one lesson I’d take from his rise.

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  67. Anonne says:

    @MarkedMan:
    Fox has more viewers than CNN, and with its slightly more rightward stance would still kick the pants off CNN’s viewership. With a respectable cadre of right-leaning commentators and hosts, it will still perform better than CNN in the ratings. Not that I’d like to see that, but that is what I expect; FOX has more Democrats that watch it than MSNBC has Republicans; CNN may have more but if FOX had more credibility, I think it would be most dangerous to CNN.

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  68. gVOR08 says:

    @MarkedMan: Sorry, I was unaware of the Alaska scheme. My remark was tongue in cheek. Except for the part about the Jewish settlers getting fertile land and some existing infrastructure and Alabama getting an educated, ambitious elite. And Alabama has extensive beaches.

    About 15 years ago. The area was mostly Jewish then.
    Really? Barbara told us it was mostly sand.
    Yes. Well, you know the old saying, ‘Where there’s sand…’

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  69. JohnSF says:

    @gVOR08:
    “Next year in…Birmingham?”

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  70. gVOR08 says:

    @Kylopod:

    One thing I will say about Hitler (and we’ve discussed this before here) is that people dismissed him as a buffoon. The thing is, they weren’t wrong in thinking he was a buffoon. It’s just that a buffoon can still be dangerous. That’s one lesson I’d take from his rise.

    IIRC when Hindenburg appointed Hitler as Chancellor he thought he and other conservatives could control him. Not repeating, but rhyming with, the oft expressed view that the serious Republicans would contain Trump. Once Hitler had power, he might still be a buffoon, but he was a buffoon with the power of the state. When you’re depending on the generals to save your country, you’re maybe pretty far gone, even if you’re not wanting a coup.

    Didn’t Godwin himself say that Hitler/Trump references were often appropriate? I’ve been meaning to read more about the rise of Mussolini, who seems maybe a closer parallel, in that he was more of a buffoon. Anybody have a good book recommendation?

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  71. gVOR08 says:

    @JohnSF: This has already gone way too far for one throw away line, but IIRC James was born and raised in AL and Dr. T resides near Montgomery, if they want to pile on…

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  72. Michael Reynolds says:

    @gVOR08:
    Let’s play speculative history. How would the cattle states move their cattle to market? If East Coast, West Coast cut them off, that leaves New Orleans, and New Orleans could be shut down with a couple of sunk barges. The center of the country would have to export by train to Confederate ports on the Atlantic, and their largest export markets are in the other direction.

    If they ship cattle to Norfolk by train, say, who do they sell to? Who would sign a trade agreement with the neo-Confederacy? What would the rump state use for currency? For credit? The fourth largest cattle state is actually California, so if anyone captured the Japanese market, it’d be Cali.

    How much of Texas and Georgia high tech would stay and how much would flee? How many top engineers and scientists would choose the neo-Confederacy? What would the neo-Confeds do about the fact that their largest cities are Black and likely to oppose secession? Then there’s the fact that so many of these states depend on federal subsidies and transfer payments. Would the new state cover the Social Security payments due to Florida retirees?

    The US would have the money, the talent, the numbers and the geography. The neo-Confederacy would have, what, exactly? Car factories that would be instantly idled? Oil and cattle that would be very hard to get to market? They wouldn’t starve but they would go broke, and as states went broke they’d sue to return.

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  73. Kathy says:

    Georgia’s Secretary of State has certified the election results.

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  74. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Way too much work today to focus on logistical issues and international trade. But do make sure all nukes end up in blue hands.

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  75. sam says:

    @gVOR08:

    I used to work in a market in Beverly Hills. A young woman and her mother used to frequent the market. The mother was a refugee from Eastern Europe and she told me they’d got out just before the Nazi’s made their move. She and her husband settled in Mobile, and they had and raised a daughter there. After the father passed away, she and the daughter moved to California. The mother spoke English with a pronounced Eastern European accent, maybe Czech (?). The daughter spoke pure Mobile, Alabama English. I remember the first time she spoke to me. I was somewhat astonished. I mean, Beverly Hills. I was used to hearing East Coast accents (New York, Boston, what have you) and incipient Valley Girl accents. But I had never heard a young Jewish girl speak with those long drawn-out vowels. Exotic and charming.

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  76. JohnMcC says:

    @MarkedMan: And in Germany there was a serious consideration of resettling Jews in Madagascar. Except there was this war business and the Royal Navy was expected to take a dim view. History is much weirder than fiction.

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  77. MarkedMan says:

    @Anonne: FWIW, I don’t think Fox actually competes with CNN. If Fox were to stop dishing up Hannity and company, the viewers would start watching “Cops” or “Murder She Wrote”

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  78. dazedandconfused says:

    @sam:
    re: Et tu Tucker.

    Tucker fancies himself a straddler of the fence between FOX’s entertainment and news. Ass-splinters are the only badge of courage he could hope to get, I reckon.

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  79. just nutha says:

    @Jay L Gischer: You’re confused because “he wants evidence” is just boilerplate pretence of openmindedness. When I was young, I used to play that game with kids who were anti-war, pro-evolution, whatever I disagreed on. They would show how they believed what they did and I would reply “you call that evidence?”

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  80. JohnSF says:

    @gVOR08:
    Can’t think of a book off hand, but my recollections are that Mussolini can seem a buffoon; mainly because his super-theatrical performative speaking style seems totally wacky to a a modern viewer; not so much to contemporary Italians, and that the style was intended for live large crowds, not viewing on screen.
    But he was a lot shrewder than the blustering fool he can be taken for.

    Effectively he used the decay and deadlock of Italian politics, combined with political violence, to lure the establishment into anointing him as leader to prevent him leading a revolution.
    (Which sort of succeeded: Mussolini never became head of state, and he was dismissed in 1943)

    The background is the problems of the Italian “liberal monarchy”. In many way Italy was barely a unified state, with deep regional division, local particularism, and the dominance of politics and the economy by the Northerners.
    Conservatives and liberals largely represented vested interests of land and business respectively.

    The socialists had been split by the break-away of the national sydicalists, the fascists precursors (Yes, in Italy the fascists did have, at least partially, some socialist roots.)
    And they then decided to support revolutionary Bolshevism, which alienated anti-Bolshevik socialists, and terrified the middle class. This was perhaps THE most catastrophically stupid move in Italian political history.

    Another thing was, a lot of Italians had, for a variety of bad reasons, decided that the relative failures of Italy compared to others was it’s lack of an empire for economic expansion, resources, focus of “national” patriotism.
    They had fought in the First World War largely in the hope of obtaining the remaining Italian area of Austria, but also the non-Italian lands such as Istria, Dalmatia, various Greek islands, Anatolia etc.
    Failure to obtain these “rewards” at Versailles caused a nationalist reaction: in 1919 a nationalist militia occupied Fiume in Istria and held it for more than a year.
    So, conservatives, liberals, and socialists were all alienated, and the elite came to see Mussolini’s fascists as the only force that could avert political collapse and possible communist revolution.

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  81. Monala says:

    @sam: I’ve never heard of that blog before, but interesting final comment:

    A postscript: has Mr. Ramsland inadvertently stumbled across evidence of voter fraud in Minnesota? I seriously doubt it. The venues in question are all in red Greater Minnesota, not in the blue urban areas where voter fraud is common.

    So even as he chastises the Trump folks for mistaking Minnesota for Michigan, the discrepancies found in Minnesota can’t possibly be fraud because they’re from red areas. You know, places that don’t cheat, unlike the blue areas.

    The propaganda these folks believe are mind-boggling, even when they see the flaws on their own side.

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  82. Mu Yixiao says:

    @sam:

    But I had never heard a young Jewish girl speak with those long drawn-out vowels. Exotic and charming.

    When I was bartending in college, there were two women (sisters) that started coming in during one summer. One had a full Irish brogue. The other’s accent was baffling. When I asked about it they laughed.

    She was raised in Belfast, but had spent the previous 10 years working in Alabama, and had picked up the drawl.

    Imaging that mix if you can. 🙂

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  83. just nutha says:

    @inhumans99: As plans go, the Bloomberg media message you suggest is as good as anything, but we need to remember that such a message resonates with only one of the competing choirs in the grand sing off. If the other choir really consists of 40 or so percent–or even only the 27%/crazies–the message’s force drops precipitously.

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  84. Sleeping Dog says:

    @gVOR08:
    @Michael Reynolds:

    Simply offer to let states secede, none will. First look at the states that are net contributors to the Fed budget and those that are net recipients. You’ll notice that the states talking about seceding are net recipients of federal dollars, they’d lose that gravy train. Farm belt states, by subsidy, military garrisons, you’re on your own to support. Then there is the national debt, seceding states would need to assume responsibility for their portion. Medicare, SSI, the trust funds would be divided and each country would need to take care of its own.

    Before any secession is finalized there would be a period for citizens to make a choice in which country they wanted to be a citizen of, that of course would mean moving. The exodus from the seceding states would resemble the current migration to Europe from the middle east and Africa.

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  85. MarkedMan says:

    @Monala: Thanks for pointing that out. I saw it earlier, started to write a commenton it and then sheer mental exhaustion from the endless bullsh*t rain falling down on us overwhelmed me.

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  86. Monala says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Or the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, which occurred with a tremendous amount of violence.

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  87. Sleeping Dog says:

    @JohnSF:

    For American baby-boomers, our view of Mussolini and Hitler as buffoons is shaded by watching hours of Three Stooges re-runs, Moe, Larry and Curly effectively skewered them and made them appear comical rather than evil. BB’s lacked the perspective of seeing the news reels documenting the evil, we only saw the ludicrous side.

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  88. JohnSF says:

    Well, it looks like an earlier comment of mine has vanished, so here it is without the links that probably caused its demise:
    @MarkedMan:
    I was trying to think if there was any occasion in recent British/UK history that is similar to the present behaviour of Trump and the Republicans.

    There’s nothing like a clearly defeated government trying to hold on to office (at least since the Great Reform Act of 1832; 18th century politics was a game of factions rather than coherent parties) which is in any case very difficult in a parliamentary system.

    But from 1910 to 1914 the Conservative denounced the Liberal government as illegitimate, especially with respect to Home Rule for Ireland, but also over tax and welfare policy.

    Essentially, neither Liberals nor Conservatives had a majority in the House of Commons, but Liberal had (marginally) more seats and the support of the Irish Nationalists, and the Labour Party.
    The Conservatives had marginally more votes however, and used that to reinforce claim that the Liberals had no right to enact fundamental change.

    The depth of the crisis has disappeared from common memory in Britain; but it seemed entirely possible that civil war could break out.
    Conservative MPs were drilling militias, there was gun-running to Northern Ireland and the Curragh Mutiny in the army in ireland.

    Possibly only the outbreak of the First World War averted conflict.
    And arguably it’s legacies included the Easter rising, the partition of Ireland, the Irish Civil War, the Ulster Troubles, and the end of the Liberals as a ruling party in Britain.

    The lesson: even apparently stable polities can collapse if a significant part of the country become convinced of its sole right to rule, and therefore feel justified to overturn constitutional convention and even civil order.

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  89. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Monala:

    You are right about the partition. The difference here would be that the state boundaries are already fixed. Between India and Pakistan it was Mountbatten and his minions with a sharpie.

    While the separation of Muslims and Hindus into different states made sense, how it was accomplished was criminal.

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  90. Kylopod says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Chaplin eventually said he wouldn’t have made The Great Dictator if he’d known about the Holocaust. The Stooges, on the other hand, considered You Nazty Spy one of their favorites of their films.

    The difference in perspective intrigues me. I’ve wondered if it has something to do with the fact that the Stooges were Jews, whereas Chaplin (contrary to rumor) wasn’t. There seems to be a tradition of Jewish performers turning the Nazis into comic figures as a kind of revenge–Mel Brooks did it, Hogan’s Heroes did it, even Spielberg did it to some extent in the Indy films.

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  91. sam says:

    There seems to be a tradition of Jewish performers turning the Nazis into comic figures as a kind of revenge

    Jack Benny et al. in To Be or Not to Be (1942)

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  92. JohnSF says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    @Kylopod:
    The view of Hitler in particular, and Nazis in general, as rather comic figures, was common in Britain even during the war, apparently (based both on written history and conversations with my parents generation).

    Dangerous yes, nasty yes, but ludicrous all the same.
    One of the British Army’s favourite marching songs was, to the tune of Colonel Bogey:

    Hitler has only got one ball
    Göring ‘as two but very small
    Himmler is rather sim’lar
    But poor ol’ Goebbels has no balls at all

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  93. JohnSF says:

    Well, just watched a bit of the Giuliani/Powell presser.
    (Closed it after a few minutes of skipping bits, due to life being too damn short for this.)

    Not so much “Release the Kraken!” as “Kraken Up!”

    Someones being going to the Robert Anton Wilson advanced classes in crazy conspiracy culting and missing the joke!

    Venezuela? Seriously?

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  94. CSK says:

    There was also Spike Jones and “Der Fuehrer’s Face” and “Springtime for Hitler” in The Producers.

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  95. Joe says:

    @JohnSF:
    OMG, I have always remembered these lines from this song because it came up in a random scene in an movie from the early 1970s – The Chosen? – which was about young men in the WWII era. As an early teen, those lyrics made a big impression on me since they are almost the only thing I remember clearly about that movie (including the title).

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  96. Northerner says:

    @Kylopod:

    The whole discussion of when it is proper to use Hitler analogies has been messed up for a long time. You simply can’t bring it up anymore.

    The biggest problem is that the Holocaust is the first thing that comes to mind for many (if not most) people when you mention Hitler. Comparing someone to Hitler suggests that person is going to introduce some sort of genocide. For all his (too many to mention) faults, does anyone really think Trump is secretly planning a Holocaust? If not, why use Hitler as an analogy, given how many other buffoonish and narcistic leaders (often monarchs) there have been throughout history?

    Saying Trump is like Hitler makes most listeners think the person doing the comparison has no idea of what Hitler did (the Holocaust, starting a world war, invading countries being the first things that come to mind, none of which Trump has done).

    From the outside at least, Trump seems to be a case by himself — he’s the kind of leader other leaders will be compared to when they appear completely narcistic and undisciplined.

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  97. Monala says:

    @Northerner: The Hitler analogies work for two reasons:

    1) Many of those other authoritarians you name are not as well known, or even if their name is recognized, what they might have done that warrants the comparison is unknown to most people. In contrast, most people know who Hitler was and what he did.

    2) As many have noted, Hitler didn’t start with death camps or world invasion. He started with smaller level authoritarian actions: demonizing minority groups, demonizing the press, using paramilitary groups, etc. When someone is on that path, do you wait until they have committed the worst of the worst before addressing it?

    And by the way — we have internment camps on the border that are treating those being held inhumanely, including denying medical care and forced sterilization. We have genocide by neglect, as Trump and his administration have frequently sought to deny needed help to parts of the country that don’t support him.

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  98. al Ameda says:

    I think we can safely say that, beginning on Inauguration Day, the Biden Presidency will be viewed by one-half of Republicans as illegitimate. Except for race and Birther conspiracy, this not so very far from Obama’s starting point.

    I hope Biden understands this, and is prepared to exercise whatever power and little leverage he has to govern.

    He’s effectively campaigned on a Kumbaya Platform – but deep down he has to that that stuff is not the truth, that McConnell does not now do any deals that result in a binary Republican victory outcome.

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  99. flat earth luddite says:

    @charon:
    /@sam:
    Dropped Comcast a year ago because I was tired of shelling out three figures/month for 250 channels I wasn’t watching. Went to the Roku model. Back in August/September, they added the channels you mention, along with several other way past fringe “news” channels in their news block. Scary stuff, dudes/dudettes, let me tell you.

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  100. gVOR08 says:

    @JohnSF:

    Can’t think of a book off hand, but my recollections are that Mussolini can seem a buffoon; mainly because his super-theatrical performative speaking style seems totally wacky to a a modern viewer; not so much to contemporary Italians…

    Valid point. I was thinking more of his military misadventures in North Africa and Greece, where his pretensions seemed to seriously outstrip his means. Also his little and late invasion of France and pathetic role in the Battle of Britain. Fiat biplanes against Hurricanes and Spitfires.

    I suppose we should be grateful. Hitler felt obliged to bail Mussolini out in Greece, delaying the invasion of Russia and possibly saving Moscow.

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  101. Northerner says:

    @Monala:

    1) But if people know what Hitler did, then they’ll know that Trump hasn’t done what Hitler did, making the comparison very weak. Its one of the problems with most comparisons to Hitler — people want to link the connotation of genocide and initiating a world war to someone who simply hasn’t done it, and most people think its such an exaggeration that they discard the whole criticism of the person. Saying Trump is like Hitler won’t change anyone’s mind about him, because they can quite rationally say Trump hasn’t done what Hitler is best known for.

    2) What percentage of world leaders who started with smaller authoritarian measures went on to do genocide and start a world war (again what Hitler is known for and so the point of the comparison)? My guess is its far less than 1%. So at this point wouldn’t it make more sense to compare Trump to say Pinochet?

    In terms of genocide by neglect, you have a very long list of American presidents who did far worse than Trump (almost one before the 20th century in their dealings with the indigenous peoples and slaves, and then there’s the Japanese internment in WW2). You needn’t go to Europe to find a good analogy for Trump for such behavior when there are presidents like Andrew Jackson and his Trail of Tears (who I’ve read Trump actually openly admires, another sign of Trump’s horrible character but still not Hitler level).

    Trump is among your worst presidents. Not as bad as Jackson and his Trail of Tears, or the ones who supported slavery, or even Lyndon Johnston and Bush Jr who started the Vietnam and Iraq wars respectively (killing millions of people in the process), but still very bad. I wouldn’t trust him with nuclear weapons, and like most of the world I’ve very relieved that he lost the election. As I said, he’s become a typecast himself — a “Trump” is going to be an insult for a long time.

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  102. Kathy says:

    @Northerner:

    a “Trump” is going to be an insult for a long time.

    It should be. It can mean many things: idiot, moron, incompetent, vulgar, stupid, clueless, trashy, a**hole, dick, prick, and one who plans a coup only after he’s been defeated in an election.

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  103. JohnSF says:

    I think the biplanes were likely just a gesture to show willing to Hitler.
    The Macchi 202 was a whole
    different breed of cat. They just couldn’t build enough.
    And the Royal Navy had a healthy respect for the Regia Marina.

    The main Italian problem was that its industrial base was skilled but limited in scale, and had been highly dependent on imported raw materials from France and the British Empire.
    Also, the Italian business elite largely thought Mussolini’s militarist policy was absurd, and did not invest sufficiently in military production for his needs.

    Italy simply could not produce enough to equip a first rank military, or even sustain it’s munitions use and loss replacement.

    It is interesting how poorly the Italian Army fared in Greece and Italy.
    It seems to have been primarily the dominance in the army of a hide bound traditionalist, arrogant and dim officer caste derived largely from the lesser nobility.
    Who showed appalling disregard for proper planning, and even less for the welfare of their men.
    And the working class or peasant conscripts generally had little enthusiasm for either the monarchy or the fascists.

    In the First World War the soldiery were willing to fight grimly on against the Austrians despite this; after that experience the conscripts were far less ready to be sacrificed.
    Added to which, the average Italian tended to have a more favourable view of the French and British than Germans, given that their historic Austrian enemies were German.

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  104. JohnSF says:

    @Northerner:
    Trump always makes me think of Peron.

    Which is more than a bit unfair on Peron, who at least had a certain sort of dignity and honour, and at least at times a genuine concern for the ordinary people.

    The likeness is in the incoherence of ideas, and the emotional rather than rational attachment of his supporters

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  105. DrDaveT says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    She was raised in Belfast, but had spent the previous 10 years working in Alabama, and had picked up the drawl.

    When I was a teenager, I dated an Australian girl who had a younger sister. The sister had attended a daycare in the DC area whose students were mostly the kids of displaced New York / New Jersey folk. The resulting Ozzie/Joisey mashup was hilarious to me, painful to her parents.

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  106. JohnSF says:

    Northerner:
    Johnson had many and various faults.
    And deepening involvement in Vietnam the greatest.

    But, he passed the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.
    In my book, anyone who did that has a legacy that cannot be dismissed.

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  107. Monala says:

    @Northerner:

    So at this point wouldn’t it make more sense to compare Trump to say Pinochet

    That still brings me back to my first point: how many Americans know who Pinochet was? Or if they do know, know more than he was a ruler of a South American country, but have no idea why Trump would be compared to him?

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  108. JohnSF says:

    @Monala:
    The puppet? You know, the one with the nose?

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  109. Jay L Gischer says:

    @just nutha: You might be right. It’s hard to say. I’ve been wondering whether it isn’t a performance of some kind – maybe a performance of loyalty to the group. A performance where empirical data doesn’t matter, just professions of loyalty where the more emotional, the better.

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  110. JohnSF says:

    A couple of pieces of journalism that may be worth your time.
    Jonah Goldberg on his sheer RAGE at what Trump is trying to do.
    Nicholas Grossman on his analysis of Trump’s plan and how Fox News screwed it up for him.
    LOLOLOL. All Hail King Koala!

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  111. MarkedMan says:

    @Northerner:

    But if people know what Hitler did, then they’ll know that Trump hasn’t done what Hitler did

    Sure. Trump hasn’t yet done what Hitler did. But that wasn’t my argument. Let me break this down:

    – I didn’t compare Trump to Hitler. I compared what is going on with the Republicans to what was going on in Nazi Germany. The former comparison is debatable, and in some ways, immaterial (see below). The latter is apt and frightening.

    – The horror that the Nazis and the Japanese spread across the globe have nothing to do with Hitler, in a sense. Because there are always Hitlers, in every time and in every country. By that I mean there are always sociopathic narcissists who would wreck the world if given a chance. The failure of a country, or a people, or a party is in letting that sociopath become a contender, then the leader and to continue to support that leader as they dragged everyone into madness and chaos. We like to think our institutions prevent such leaders, but the “institutions” are powerless. In the end, the people that head those institutions at the most senior level are all that stand between us and the chasm. The entire Republican Leadership has proven they will do nothing to stop that headlong descent into madness.

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  112. PJ says:

    @gVOR08:

    Didn’t Godwin himself say that Hitler/Trump references were often appropriate?

    I have his tweet bookmarked, I have posted it here multiple times. 🙂

    Mike Goodwin, Aug 14, 2017:

    By all means, compare these shitheads to Nazis. Again and again. I’m with you.

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  113. PJ says:

    And I misspelled his name.
    No edit button…

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  114. Teve says:

    I’ve said for years that I had no particular reason to think America would survive conservative media.

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  115. wr says:

    @gVOR08: “But I fear Amy CB may have, like Bill Barr, a great deal of loyalty to some Dominionist version of the Unitary Executive.”

    Don’t worry. If she does, it’s not going to manifest itself anytime over the next four years…

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  116. rachel says:

    @Northerner:

    …or even Lyndon Johnston and Bush Jr who started the Vietnam and Iraq wars respectively

    Except Johnson didn’t start the Vietnam War. He inherited and expanded American involvement there from Kennedy who inherited and expanded it from Eisenhower who inherited expanded it from Truman. FDR said America shouldn’t support the French there, shouldn’t get involved, but nobody listened to him.

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