When you picture a “coup d’etat,” what images do you see?  Masses of uniformed troops marching lockstep through the streets?   Shiny gun metal colored tanks and personnel carriers rolling past your house?  Maybe F-18’s screaming in the sky overhead or a suddenly blank screen on your living room television that reboots to show a stern General announcing a nationwide state of emergency?  I would bet that we all pretty much come up with the same mind pictures when we hear or see the term “coup d’etat” probably because we’ve seen such happenings in foreign countries on cable news.    But I just finished reading an Atlantic magazine article that says we’re wrong.  Our mind pictures are old fashioned, out of date and wholly irrelevant to the 21st Century version of the means and mechanisms for overturning a democratic state.  What are the current, 21st Century “means and mechanisms” by which coup d’etats happen today?  According to the article, it’s more the slow, steady erosion of liberties and freedoms by lawful, if unusual, means and the unwitting acceptance of the diminishment of democracy by a distracted, exhausted public who fails to pay attention to what’s happening to them.   This piece is without doubt one of the most frightening I’ve ever read.

Here's the link to this bone-chilling article:  HOW TO BUILD AN AUTOCRACY

I recommend that everyone read “How To Build An Autocracy” and you should urge all of your relatives, family and friends to read it too.  Here are a few excerpts to whet your appetite: 

“The preconditions are present in the U.S. today.   If Congress is quiescent and the public listless, Donald Trump can set the country down a path toward illiberalism, institutional subversion, and endemic graft.”

“What is spreading today is repressive kleptocracy, led by rulers motivated by greed rather than by the deranged idealism of Hitler or Stalin or Mao.  Such rulers rely less on terror and more on rule-twisting, the manipulation of information, and the co-optation of elites.”

“Ivanka Trump [who had no White House position at the time] sat in on a meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister – a useful meeting for her, since a government-owned bank has a large ownership stake in the Japanese company with which she was negotiating a licensing deal.”

“On November 27, Trump tweeted that he had in fact “won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally." ….  once the President-elect lent his prestige to this crazy claim, it became fact for many people.  A survey by YouGov found that by December 1, [four days later] 43% of Republicans accepted the claim that millions of people had voted illegally in 2016”     
“Donald Trump, however, represents something much more radical.  A president who plausibly owes his office at least in part to a clandestine intervention by a hostile foreign intelligence service?  Who uses the bully pulpit to target individual critics? Who creates blind trusts that are not blind, invites his children to commingle private and public business, and somehow gets the unhappy members of his own political party either to endorse his choices or shrug them off?  If this were happening in Honduras, we would know what to call it.  It’s happening here instead, and so we are baffled.” 

"Those citizens who fantasize about defying tyranny from within fortified compounds have never understood how liberty is actually threatened in a modern bureaucratic state: not by diktat and violence, but by the slow,  demoralization process of corruption and deceit." 

We are all aware of the “big ticket items” that have reduced our overall freedom and liberty like the post 9-11 Patriot Act and the corruption of our political system by anonymous big money.  But as The Atlantic article points out, it’s not necessarily the restrictions that we are aware of that are the problem since these do make the Breaking News Headlines.  But among those actions that we may not be following closely comes one that happened just yesterday:  the Senate of the United States of America passed a bill to undo internet privacy.  No longer will AT&T and Verizon have any restrictions on the use, sale or distribution of all of our personal data for whatever purposes they see fit. 

Is it a big surprise that the General Services Administration has blessed the legality of its Trump International Hotel lease since Trump resigned from the LLC that developed the hotel? Given Trump’s penchant for revenge, what would you do?  While Trump doesn’t benefit directly since this would be clearly illegal  – his son has stepped in – his company of which he is still CEO, receives the benefits of this government lease.    Or perhaps the public announcement by Rick Perry, Trump’s Secretary of Energy, who, in an article in the Houston Chronicle, maintains that the election of Bobby Brooks as Texas A&M University’s  first openly gay president of the student body is somehow illegitimate.   The Secretary of Energy claims that the election was “rigged.” Stolen.  The election, says Perry, was a “mockery.”  Have we heard such claims before in a slightly different context?   Yes, indeed we have.  

Stay Alert!  Resist! 



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