Hannah Arendt, in her book The Origins of Totalitarianism, warned: "The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists."
People for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists are the ideal subjects of a Hitler type leader. The "banality of evil” Arendt warned, was a bigger threat than fanaticism when it came to totalitarianism. She explained this by pointing out, “The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”
Allow me to present: Kyrsten Sinema, Joe Manchin, Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins. People who stand for nothing except big money and vague excuses for their cowardly votes and legislative failures.
How would one create a world in which people can’t distinguish between fact and fiction? A toxic combo of propaganda and people who aren’t really paying attention, which is going to be very important in a moment.
In early 2000, Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin came under media fire for the government's incompetence handling a submarine accident. Putin learned from that event that the media was an enemy to be controlled:
Under unprecedented criticism from the Russian press for his perceived failure of leadership at a time of national tragedy, Mr Putin lashed out, threatening to punish the proprietors and fight their influence through alternative "honest and objective" media.
That sounds awfully familiar. From there, Putin set about systematically destroying independent media, while replacing it with state media that would function as pure propaganda. This media sounds a lot like the worst slots of Fox News, there’s a lot of shouting, hyperbolic insults, dehumanizing of the Other, and most importantly: Always finding a way to glorify Putin and Russia, even when it means blaming Russian war generals.
No one is safe when Putin is failing.
The BBC did an audio visual piece on Putin’s hold of the media, which tells the story of where it is now very succinctly.
Themes that sound familiar are Putin as the hero, Putin as the “tough” boss, Putin as the protector of the traditional family/Christian morals – these themes are repeated in Hungary, now, for example because they go together with a democracy in name only. They are tried and true ways of manipulating the populace while grabbing power, rigging elections, stealing power via the courts and more.
No Labels But Lots of Lies
So all of that sounds very partisan and hyper, but an even bigger threat comes in when it’s targeted to people who don’t pay attention. People who might fall for a “No Labels” faux “Centrism” election spoiler because they are tired of the “partisanship.”
Yes, that’s right. Coming at you: The 70 million dollar launch of a “centrist” “third-party” “unity” ticket funded by billionaires, that does not disclose its donors. Gosh, this is what we need more of in this country! MORE SECRET BILLIONAIRE DARK MONEY. As of March 2023, it is a registered political party in Arizona, Colorado, and Oregon.
“The only way you can justify this is if you really believe that it doesn’t really matter if it is Joe Biden or Donald Trump,” said former Republican strategist Stuart Stevens. “So it is sort of a test. If you live in a world where it doesn’t matter, this is kind of harmless. If you live in a world where it does matter, it is dangerous.”
A world where that doesn’t matter is only a world where one is not paying attention, a point easily proven with just a taste of the news headlines.
The News Doesn’t Lie
As I go through just a few of the top stories from the past week or so, it might cause anxiety. Sometimes that anxiety causes people to tune out, and other times they never really tune in to hear the details, so it’s just “politicians bad” takeaway. And sure, politicians can suck. Fair enough. But we are at a crossroads where those people, and you all know them – the people who say it’s rude to talk politics, but vote for the “Parents’ Rights” party because the argument seems to make sense to them on the surface – the easily led and uninformed pose a rather large danger to our democracy.
If there is no one around to question and probe the premise of parents somehow being entitled to control what an entire school teaches based on reactionary and ignorant misunderstandings, it’s too easy to believe the minority should have that right to impose their beliefs on the education and curriculum to the rest of the community.
In reality, though, PEN found “the large majority of book bans underway today are not spontaneous, organic expressions of citizen concern. Rather, they reflect the work of a growing number of advocacy organizations that have made demanding censorship of certain books and ideas in schools part of their mission.”
Essentially, conservative organizations and organized groups are targeting books that might educate children about basic civil rights.
Here we go, and of course, because this is the United States of NRA, add in we are at our 146th mass shooting.
World War III
Criminal defendant and Republican Party leader Donald Trump threatened World War III on his failing social media company. That’s just a totally normal thing to do for a leading presidential candidate and party leader. Nothing to see here.
Clarence Thomas’s Secret Nazi Lover Funding
Harlan Crow, a Republican secret funder of Justice Clarence Thomas (the Supreme Court Justice married to the woman who tried to overthrow the U.S. government and steal millions of Americans’ votes), is also a collector of Nazi memorabilia, and this is something Republicans and conservative media are defending.
They say he keeps the statues of dictators and Nazi linens, surrounds himself with Nazi images, not because he likes them, but because he hates the Nazis and is warning about them.
And yet, who is getting the warning? If he wanted to warn people, he would put the items in a museum set up with education like the Holocaust Museum, which is “A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity. Its far-reaching educational programs and global impact are made possible by generous donors.”
People who have visited Harlan Crow’s Nazi-laden home found themselves “deeply shaken by the Nazi memorabilia on display.”
The reporters who covered Crow’s house also thought it was creepy.
And as has been pointed out on Twitter repeatedly, people do not actually surround themselves with things they hate. To wit, Republicans do not have Trans flags flying in their gardens.
Expelled for Standing Up for Children
In Tennessee, where David Byrd is still serving as the chair of the House Education Administration Subcommittee, after being accused of sexual assault of three then underage girls he coached when they were players on the Wayne County High School basketball team, Republicans in the State House kicked two young Black Democratic representatives out of the House because they were allegedly violated a rule while calling for gun control after the mass shooting at Covenant School.
When it became apparent that Rep. Justin Jones could be voted back easily by the Metro Nashville Council (which he was), Shelby County Commissioner Erika Sugarmon told local reporters that members of the body are "being threatened by the state to take away funding, needed funding to run our schools, to run our municipalities."
So Republicans expelled Black members of the other party, elected by the voters, while refusing to expel others including one convicted of writing opioid prescriptions for his family, and they are going to use funding for schools and more to enforce their abuse of power.
What were they trying to hard to silence? Their own moral depravity in the face of another mass shooting.
Protestors were chanting: “You ban books, you ban drag— kids are still in body bags.”
Juries and DAs Don’t Matter if They Don’t Agree with Republicans
In Texas, Republican Gov Greg Abbott is going to pardon a Trump supporter convicted of murdering a Black Lives Matter protester, sending the signal that gun rights are only for Republicans and juries don’t matter if they don’t agree with Republicans.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said on Saturday he is seeking the pardon of an Uber driver convicted of murder a day earlier in the July 2020 shooting death of a man at a Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Austin, the state capital.
Abbott, in a post on Twitter, said he will pardon Daniel Perry, 37, a U.S. Army sergeant, as soon as a request from the parole board "hits my desk."
“Texas has one of the strongest ‘Stand your ground’ laws of self-defense that cannot be nullified by a jury or progressive district attorney," he said. "Additionally, I have already prioritized reining in rogue District Attorneys, and the Texas Legislature is working on laws to achieve that goal."
Jose Garza, the district attorney for Travis County, where the case was tried and where Austin is located, is a Democrat, and has been in office since Jan. 1, 2021.
So much for Republicans being the party of law and order.
Telling the FDA How to Approve of Drugs so They Can Control All U.S. Women
Also in Texas, a Trump-appointed judge is trying to assert authority over the FDA’s approval process for drugs by putting a hold on the abortion pill Mifepristone, overruling decades of scientific approval.
Senator Chris Murphy made the point that this ruling impacts women even in blue states: “Millions of women – even in states like Connecticut where the right to abortion is protected – could now be denied access to a safe, effective medication that has been on the market for decades.”
A stark contrast was created to that judge’s attempt to take the abortion pill off the market for the entire United States because of his personal feelings with an Obama appointee in Washington state, “who ordered the opposite and directed U.S. authorities not to make any changes that would restrict access to the drug in at least 17 states where Democrats sued in an effort to protect availability.”
The ruling from the judge in Washington state applies only to the states that sued: Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.
DeSantis Will Destroy Mickey If It’s The Last Thing He Does, Also Democrats are Nazis
In Florida, Republican Governor and often presumed but not announced 2024 presidential candidate Ron DeSantis has admitted that he is punishing Disney for its position on the Orwellian named “parental rights bill,” in which the state tells you what your kids can read and say:
In his latest remarks, DeSantis appeared irritated by media reports on the battle with Disney and the idea that the company “pulled one over on the state.”
In his remarks, he also was clear that the move to strip Disney of control over Reedy Creek was in response to its position on the parental rights bill. “We just had to look at this and say, ‘OK, do they have a quote, First Amendment right to be advocating for gender ideology in Kindergarten? Yeah, I guess. Is that honestly faithful to their fiduciary duty to their shareholders? I don’t think so. But that’s not really in my wheelhouse as governor, but what I can tell you as governor is that under no circumstances should the state of Florida be subsidizing woke activism by allowing them to have their own government. So we took it away.”
DeSantis also likened Republicans in Florida fighting Democrats to Americans fighting Russian communists and Nazis. So… fighting against Human Rights is like fighting Nazis, according to Mickey’s nemesis.
Unironically Banning Books like Fahrenheit 451
Book banning is all of the rage on the Right, as Republicans try to control and cancel an entire culture that has rejected their core message of shame and assumption of moral authority.
In Missouri, Republicans are defunding libraries because librarians are suing over their First Amendment rights:
Missouri State Rep. Peter Merideth (D) on a just-passed GOP budget defunding libraries said: "They actually took out all state aid for public libraries explicitly because librarians are suing over their First Amendment rights ... We are starting to live in a dystopian future from 1984."
Republicans Want to Bomb Mexico
Republicans have found a way to solve the drugs crossing the border problem, and it’s fine. It just involves bombing it away:
A growing number of prominent Republicans are rallying around the idea that to solve the fentanyl crisis, America must bomb it away.
In recent weeks, Donald Trump has discussed sending “special forces” and using “cyber warfare” to target cartel leaders if he’s reelected president and, per Rolling Stone, asked for “battle plans” to strike Mexico. Reps. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) and Mike Waltz (R-Fla.) introduced a bill seeking authorization for the use of military force to “put us at war with the cartels.” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said he is open to sending U.S. troops into Mexico to target drug lords even without that nation’s permission. And lawmakers in both chambers have filed legislation to label some cartels as foreign terrorist organizations, a move supported by GOP presidential aspirants.
Massive Censorship and Chaos in the ‘Global Town Square’
Elon Musk, every dictator’s best bud who self-identifies as a “centrist” while pushing neoNazi and Putin propaganda has been assisting global autocrats by doing things to the “global town square” like taking away the New York Times’ verification badge, labeling NPR state media, labeling BBC government-funded media, censoring critics of India’s government, and giving a green light to Russian propaganda and removing restrictions on Kremlin-linked accounts.
Beware the “Centrist” Lie
So that’s just a small bit of what one “side” has been up to. Now sure, the Democrats are far from perfect and shouldn’t be given as pass just because their opposition is quite literally trying to destroy all that makes the United States of America actually great. But here we are.