Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Trial Balloon for a Coup? - Yonatan Zunger
It wouldn't surprise me if the goal is to create "resistance fatigue," to get Americans to the point where they're more likely to say "Oh, another protest? Don't you guys ever stop?" relatively quickly.

... Note also the most frightening escalation last night was that the DHS made it fairly clear that they did not feel bound to obey any court orders.

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

  1. Trump was, indeed, perfectly honest during the campaign; he intends to do everything he said, and more. This should not be reassuring to you.
  2. The regime's main organizational goal right now is to transfer all effective power to a tight inner circle, eliminating any possible checks from either the Federal bureaucracy, Congress, or the Courts. Departments are being reorganized or purged to effect this.
  3. The inner circle is actively probing the means by which they can seize unchallenged power; yesterday's moves should be read as the first part of that.
  4. The aims of crushing various groups -- Muslims, Latinos, the black and trans communities, academics, the press -- are very much primary aims of the regime, and are likely to be acted on with much greater speed than was earlier suspected. The secondary aim of personal enrichment is also very much in play, and clever people will find ways to play these two goals off each other.


Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Mon Jan 30th, 2017 at 10:46:12 PM EST
Note that the executive order was written and implemented in an absolutely amateurish way. They're like children playing their new toys which means they will only get better at pulling the levers of power. Their incompetence will only protect us for a while.

The suppression of various social sectors will happen mostly as a point of provocation to engender even greater division and find more supposed boogey men for the base. It has worked so far.

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Mon Jan 30th, 2017 at 10:52:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What "Things Going Wrong" Can Look Like - Yonatan Zunger
I'm reading this as "1933 playbook continues on schedule, pace slightly higher than last time: something between maybe 1.2x and 2x, but without the possibility of a major land war to show up on the horizon."
I don't know how likely this is but yes it's at least orange alert.

A Clarifying Moment in American History - Eliot A. Cohen - Atlantic

Precisely because the problem is one of temperament and character, it will not get better. It will get worse, as power intoxicates Trump and those around him. It will probably end in calamity--substantial domestic protest and violence, a breakdown of international economic relationships, the collapse of major alliances, or perhaps one or more new wars (even with China) on top of the ones we already have. It will not be surprising in the slightest if his term ends not in four or in eight years, but sooner, with impeachment or removal under the 25th Amendment. The sooner Americans get used to these likelihoods, the better. ...

For the community of conservative thinkers and experts, and more importantly, conservative politicians, this is a testing time. Either you stand up for your principles and for what you know is decent behavior, or you go down, if not now, then years from now, as a coward or opportunist. Your reputation will never recover, nor should it.

... The biggest split will be between those who draw a line and the power-sick ... [who] fatally compromise their values.

... In the end, however, he will fail. He will fail because however shrewd his tactics are, his strategy is terrible--The New York Times, the CIA, Mexican Americans, and all the others he has attacked are not going away. With every act he makes new enemies for himself and strengthens their commitment; he has his followers, but he gains no new friends. ... He will fail most of all because at the end of the day most Americans, including most of those who voted for him, are decent people who have no desire to live in an American version of Tayyip Erdogan's Turkey, or Viktor Orban's Hungary, or Vladimir Putin's Russia.

I'm not that sure. Trump was explicitly elected to break things. Quite a lot of people think the authoritarian axis has the right idea. We'll see but the damage will definitely outlast its creators.

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Mon Jan 30th, 2017 at 11:14:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Opposition Is Born | Jacobin -
What is the first thing fascists or Nazis do when they come into power, the very first thing? They destroy the Left.

Before they go after the Jews, as in Germany, before they go after the liberals and anyone who is not a fascist, before they go after national minorities, they arrest, imprison, torture, and murder the communists, the socialists, and the trade unions. Because they know that in order to pursue their maximal agenda, they need to drain the field of all opposition.

Trump hasn't done that; in fact, he's done just the opposite.

Now you could say that the reason Trump hasn't done that is that there is no real left to do it to. Trump thinks he can do what he's doing now because no one will stop him. I actually think there is something to that argument. And one could see how, from the point of view of a conservative or Republican activist, the last forty years would suggest that you have little to worry about from the left: not from the activist left and certainly not from the Democrats. I think the facts on the ground with regard to the Left has begun to change, slowly, but knowledge of the world is path dependent, and changes like this take a long time to register, particularly when you're in an ideological bubble. Look how long it took Democrats and the Left to realize that Reagan was for real and here to stay.

That is why I don't buy the notion that somehow yesterday's events, with all the opposition at the airports and the imposition of a stay, was part of a grand plan. I think they have no idea what they might be facing from the left. And let's be honest: neither do we.

Whatever the case may be, the point is this: If Trump is a fascist -- I'm dubious, as many of you know -- he may be the most backasswards fascist we've ever seen. Having seized control of the state, he doesn't destroy his opposition in order to pursue his maximal agenda. Instead, he creates an opposition -- what may be shaping up as the largest mass movement this country has seen in fifty years -- by pursuing his maximal agenda first.


For the moment I tend to agree. Unless there follows a very fast and thorough trashing of the protest movement the Trumpkins are weakened by this. Of course the situation remains rather fluid.
by generic on Mon Jan 30th, 2017 at 11:47:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Another one in the overreach not plan column:

LENIN'S TOMB: Under the sign of Saturn, a movement is born. -

Of course, the effect of the Trump victory can be seen in the fact that some law enforcement officers ignored the ruling and acted on what they interpreted as the effect of Trump's executive order anyway. The re-deployment of legal/police networks, will rely on key actors willing to resist orders from the courts, or at least passively circumvent them. Nonetheless, the attempted blitzkrieg in the apparatuses hasn't stopped bourgeois legality from being effective yet. The Department of Homeland Security has indicated that it will comply with the court's ruling.

This indicates the problem with Trump trying to exacerbate fissures in the state too quickly. He has over-reached. It is not he, but his opposition who now seem most able to exploit these fissures. He also over-reaches in continuing his war with the capitalist media, which are sources of powerful institutional legitimacy, closely looped into the reproduction of the state. (Indeed, following Althusser, we should just say that media apparatuses are state apparatuses.) He behaves as if he has an alternative source of political authority outside the state, an alternative ideological legitimacy capable of rivalling CNN and the New York Times. He doesn't. He is premature in that respect.

by generic on Mon Jan 30th, 2017 at 11:54:22 PM EST
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And one in the plan column but with very good short term advice:

The Method to Trump and Bannon's "Madness" | Ian Welsh -

The current focus on Bannon might bear fruit. He and Kushner are the most competent people Trump listens to, and if a wedge can be driven between them, using Trump's ego "President Bannon" then perhaps Bannon's power can be reduced or he can even be gotten rid of. Kushner, as the son-in-law, is probably not someone who can be peeled off. Bannon might be.

Bottom line: if you are a civil service member who can expect to not be let go soon anyway, you should keep your head down and work from within. If you are going to be let go of anyway (as with the acting Attorney General who defied Trump),  you might as well go out with a bang.

One minor positive effect of real existing president Trump is that the focus has moved away from supposed Russian meddling to the fascist running his campaign.

by generic on Tue Jan 31st, 2017 at 10:39:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And that his Supreme Court nominee, as a student at a Jesuit high school, founded a group called 'Fascists Forever' as a protest against 'liberal' teachers.

If past is prologue....


"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2017 at 06:07:48 PM EST
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I just saw this elsewhere and posted it in the Salon as well.
by Zwackus on Tue Jan 31st, 2017 at 01:28:06 AM EST
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Even David Frum is getting in on the action, though his piece has all the signs of having been written a few weeks ago, for the print edition.

How to build an Autocracy

Skip the gag-inducing first couple of paragraphs, and it gets good.

Donald Trump will not set out to build an authoritarian state. His immediate priority seems likely to be to use the presidency to enrich himself. But as he does so, he will need to protect himself from legal risk. Being Trump, he will also inevitably wish to inflict payback on his critics. Construction of an apparatus of impunity and revenge will begin haphazardly and opportunistically. But it will accelerate. It will have to.

If Congress is quiescent, what can Trump do? A better question, perhaps, is what can't he do?

Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, who often articulates Trumpist ideas more candidly than Trump himself might think prudent, offered a sharp lesson in how difficult it will be to enforce laws against an uncooperative president. During a radio roundtable in December, on the topic of whether it would violate anti-nepotism laws to bring Trump's daughter and son-in-law onto the White House staff, Gingrich said: The president "has, frankly, the power of the pardon. It is a totally open power, and he could simply say, `Look, I want them to be my advisers. I pardon them if anybody finds them to have behaved against the rules. Period.' And technically, under the Constitution, he has that level of authority."

That statement is true, and it points to a deeper truth: The United States may be a nation of laws, but the proper functioning of the law depends upon the competence and integrity of those charged with executing it. A president determined to thwart the law in order to protect himself and those in his circle has many means to do so.

by Zwackus on Tue Jan 31st, 2017 at 06:07:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A couple of thinkgs leapt out at me.

"Civil unrest will not be a problem for the Trump presidency. It will be a resource. Trump will likely want not to repress it, but to publicize it--and the conservative entertainment-outrage complex will eagerly assist him. Immigration protesters marching with Mexican flags; Black Lives Matter demonstrators bearing antipolice slogans--these are the images of the opposition that Trump will wish his supporters to see. The more offensively the protesters behave, the more pleased Trump will be."

In an online article for The New York Review of Books, the Russian-born journalist Masha Gessen brilliantly noted a commonality between Donald Trump and the man Trump admires so much, Vladimir Putin. "Lying is the message," she wrote. "It's not just that both Putin and Trump lie, it is that they lie in the same way and for the same purpose: blatantly, to assert power over truth itself."

Gil Scott Heron was wrong; the revolution was televised. It's just that it's not the revolution we were expecting. I remember a communist boasting to me that the Constitution of the USSR was far more open and democratic than that of the US, what he failed to note was that you can have the most rigorous systems of over-sight in the world, but if there is no will to enforce the rules or hold people to account, then it's meaningless.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jan 31st, 2017 at 04:09:27 PM EST
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