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In the News 11.11.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


In the News 11.11.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 11.11.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 11.11.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Republic Repeals Itself


“To see what is in front of one’s nose is a constant struggle,” George Orwell famously observed. So what is it that we have just seen?

We are witnessing the power of a massive populist movement that has now upended the two most stable democracies in the world — and thrown both countries into a completely unknown future. In Britain, where the polls did not pick up the latent support for withdrawal from the European Union, a new prime minister is now navigating a new social contract with the indigenous middle and working classes forged by fear of immigration and globalization. In the U.S., the movement — built on anti-political politics, economic disruption, and anti-immigration fears — had something else, far more lethal, in its bag of tricks: a supremely talented demagogue who created an authoritarian cult with unapologetically neo-fascist rhetoric. Britain is reeling toward a slow economic slide. America has now jumped off a constitutional cliff. It will never be the same country again. Like Brexit, this changes the core nature of this country permanently.

This is now Trump’s America. He controls everything from here on forward. He has won this campaign in such a decisive fashion that he owes no one anything. He has destroyed the GOP and remade it in his image. He has humiliated the elites and the elite media. He has embarrassed every pollster and naysayer. He has avenged Obama. And in the coming weeks, Trump will not likely be content to bask in vindication. He will seek unforgiving revenge on those who dared to oppose him. The party apparatus will be remade in his image. The House and Senate will fail to resist anything he proposes — and those who speak up will be primaried into oblivion. The Supreme Court may well be shifted to the far right for more than a generation to come — with this massive victory, he can pick a new Supreme Court justice who will make Antonin Scalia seem like a milquetoast. He will have a docile, fawning Congress for at least four years. We will not have an administration so much as a court.

Read the rest of this article at New York Magazine

An American Tragedy


The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency is nothing less than a tragedy for the American republic, a tragedy for the Constitution, and a triumph for the forces, at home and abroad, of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny, and racism. Trump’s shocking victory, his ascension to the Presidency, is a sickening event in the history of the United States and liberal democracy. On January 20, 2017, we will bid farewell to the first African-American President—a man of integrity, dignity, and generous spirit—and witness the inauguration of a con who did little to spurn endorsement by forces of xenophobia and white supremacy. It is impossible to react to this moment with anything less than revulsion and profound anxiety.

There are, inevitably, miseries to come: an increasingly reactionary Supreme Court; an emboldened right-wing Congress; a President whose disdain for women and minorities, civil liberties and scientific fact, to say nothing of simple decency, has been repeatedly demonstrated. Trump is vulgarity unbounded, a knowledge-free national leader who will not only set markets tumbling but will strike fear into the hearts of the vulnerable, the weak, and, above all, the many varieties of Other whom he has so deeply insulted. The African-American Other. The Hispanic Other. The female Other. The Jewish and Muslim Other. The most hopeful way to look at this grievous event—and it’s a stretch—is that this election and the years to follow will be a test of the strength, or the fragility, of American institutions. It will be a test of our seriousness and resolve.

Read the rest of this article at The New Yorker


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The Plot Against America

TAMPA, FLORIDA - JUNE 11:  Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump embraces the United States flag during a campaign rally  at the Tampa Convention Center on June 11, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. Florida Gov. Rick Scott spoke at the rally and introduced Trump. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)

Perhaps I shouldn’t be sitting down to write this at midnight. I am, I admit, in a bad state. I can’t help feeling that America has committed the most calamitous mistake of my lifetime. There will be a time to be reasonable and to think what one what must do to prevent Donald J. Trump from inflicting terrible damage to the United States and to the world. But this is a moment for the rending of garments.

I have spent much of the last year writing about the challenge to the liberal order in Europe. I did not think that what happened in Poland and Hungary could happen here. When, last spring, I asked Lech Walesa how Poland could have elected the reactionary nationalist Law and Justice party, he said, “What about the United States? You’ve got Donald Trump?” Yes, I said, but Trump won’t win. He grinned and said something. My translator turned to me and said, “Mr. Walesa says that he is sure Donald Trump has something up his sleeve.” Mr. Walesa was right.

Read the rest of this article at Foreign Policy

Invasion of the Troll Armies: From Russian Trump Supporters to Turkish State Stooges


We don’t know who they are, or what their mission is. We only know thatthere are thousands of them out there, pretending to be us. They may be at home, or in special offices, or sitting beside you on the train. They use social media, and write blogs and comments. Some of them may visit the bottom of this article.

You can hire your own troll army if you have the cash. In 2011 the PR firm Bell Pottinger told undercover journalists that they could “create and maintain third-party blogs”, and spruce up Wikipedia profiles and Google search rankings. Indeed marketing has a rich history of so-called “astroturfing”, which is laying down fake grassroots. Take Forest, “the voice and friend of the smoker”, which at least admits in nearly invisible small print that it is paid for by the tobacco industry.

 Now, however, manipulating social media has become part of the business of government. It may yet influence how governments are formed. Recent reports suggest that many of Donald Trump’s most fervent online supporters are not themselves Americans, but Russians being paid by their government to help him win. One told Samantha Bee that she pretends to be a housewife from Nebraska. Why she would confess it now is unexplained, but when you look around it begins to feel like everybody does it. It’s just that no two countries’ methods are the same.

Read the rest of this article at The Guardian

The Complete Guide to how Trump Can Make Himself the First American Dictator


If Trump is elected president, will constitutional law and American political institutions protect us from a would-be dictator? Europeans worry about the emergence of Caesarism in the United States, just as the founders did when they invented the presidency. Authoritarianism is making gains around the world; why not here? Of course, Trump may not want to be a dictator. He has repeatedly stated his desire to make “deals,” implying a willingness to cooperate with Congress. But there is no reason to believe anything he says; many of his actions and statements are those of someone with a dictatorial mentality if nothing else, and his popular support derives from his authoritarian image: he appeals to people who yearn for a strongman to protect them. So the question is worth asking. What is the answer?

Let’s consider one of Trump’s proposals: to strengthen libel law so that he can punish those who criticize him. Could he do this? He cannot do it by executive order, and he probably cannot do it even if he persuades Congress to pass a law. First Amendment doctrine is clear: a court would strike down the sort of libel law that Trump advocates (or appears to advocate).

But there are ways that Trump could maneuver around this barrier. If he can appoint flunkies to head the Department of Justice and the FBI (Chris Christie, maybe?), they can order agents to spy on a political opponent and bring prosecutions. All that is needed is a reasonable suspicion of law violations, and there are so many laws that any prominent person, particularly journalists and opposition politicians, might violate even if inadvertently—campaign finance laws, tax laws, business licensing laws, and secrecy laws come to mind, depending on the person’s activities—that an excuse for audit, inspection, or surveillance can be ginned up. Judges can interfere at various steps along the way; whether they do will depend on whether there are plausible reasons to think that the person has broken a law (think of Hillary Clinton, for example). While nothing may come of the investigation, the risk of such harassment, if pursued vigorously enough, may deter opposition to Trump at the margin.

 This is not to say that Trump would do any of these things. Exposure of politically motivated investigations could damage him politically; and—a theme to which I will return—lower-level officials might refuse to carry out his plans. But there is a long tradition of this type of behavior, both within our country (Nixon) and without (Putin, to pick one of countless examples).

Read the rest of this article at Quartz

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M. // Top images: @stylemba, @kristenmarienichols, @alleedesroses