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Mon Sep 9, 2019, 09:36 PM

NYT Krugman "How Democracy Dies, American Style"

Sharpies, auto emissions and the weaponization of policy.

By Paul Krugman
Opinion Columnist

Sept. 9, 2019


Democracies used to collapse suddenly, with tanks rolling noisily toward the presidential palace. In the 21st century, however, the process is usually subtler.

Authoritarianism is on the march across much of the world, but its advance tends to be relatively quiet and gradual, so that itís hard to point to a single moment and say, this is the day democracy ended. You just wake up one morning and realize that itís gone.

In their 2018 book ďHow Democracies Die,Ē the political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt documented how this process has played out in many countries, from Vladimir Putinís Russia, to Recep Tayyip Erdoganís Turkey, to Viktor Orbanís Hungary. Bit by bit the guardrails of democracy were torn down, as institutions meant to serve the public became tools of the ruling party, then were weaponized to punish and intimidate that partyís opponents. On paper these countries are still democracies; in practice they have become one-party regimes.


(about sharpie gate)

Why is this frightening? Because it shows that even the leadership of NOAA, which should be the most technical and apolitical of agencies, is now so subservient to Trump that itís willing not just to overrule its own experts but to lie, simply to avoid a bit of presidential embarrassment.

Think about it: If even weather forecasters are expected to be apologists for Dear Leader, the corruption of our institutions is truly complete.

Which brings me to a much more important case, the Justice Departmentís decision to investigate automakers for the crime of trying to act responsibly.

snip - apologies for the paywall. well worth reading. (but then again, we all here could have written this. WE know it. We've known it for three years)

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Reply NYT Krugman "How Democracy Dies, American Style" (Original post)
NRaleighLiberal Sep 9 OP
struggle4progress Sep 9 #1
Hermit-The-Prog Sep 9 #2
spanone Sep 9 #3
dalton99a Sep 10 #4

Response to NRaleighLiberal (Original post)

Mon Sep 9, 2019, 11:57 PM

2. easy to pinpoint the day: 2016-11-08

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Response to NRaleighLiberal (Original post)

Mon Sep 9, 2019, 11:58 PM

3. K&R...

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Response to NRaleighLiberal (Original post)

Tue Sep 10, 2019, 01:09 AM

4. Kick

The story so far: As part of its jihad against environmental regulation, the Trump administration has declared its intention to roll back Obama-era rules mandating a gradual rise in fuel efficiency.

You might think that the auto industry would welcome this invitation to keep on polluting. In fact, however, automakers have already based their business plans on the assumption that fuel efficiency standards will indeed rise.

They donít like seeing their plans upended ó in part, one suspects, because they understand that the reality of climate change will eventually force the reinstatement of those rules. So they have actually opposed Trumpís deregulation, which they warn would lead to ďan extended period of litigation and instability.Ē

And several companies have gone beyond protesting. In a remarkable rebuke to the administration, they have reached an agreement with the State of California to comply with standards nearly as restrictive as the Obama rules even if the federal government is no longer requiring them.

Now, according to The Wall Street Journal, the Justice Department is considering bringing an antitrust action against those companies, as if agreeing on environmental standards were a crime comparable to, say, price-fixing.

This would be disturbing even if it came from an administration that had previously showed some interest in actual antitrust policy. Coming from people who heretofore havenít indicated any concerns about monopoly power, itís clearly an attempt at weaponizing antitrust actions, turning them into a tool of intimidation.

And itís also clear evidence that the Justice Department has been thoroughly corrupted. In less than three years it has been transformed from an agency that tries to enforce the law to an organization dedicated to punishing Trumpís opponents.

Whoís next? In at least two cases, Trump appears to have tried to use his power to punish Amazon, whose founder, Jeff Bezos, owns The Washington Post, which the president considers (like this newspaper) to be an enemy. First he pushed for an increase in the post officeís package shipping rates, which would hurt Amazonís delivery costs; then the Pentagon suddenly announced that it was re-examining the process for awarding a huge cloud-computing project that Amazon was widely expected to win.

In each case itís hard to prove that these were efforts to weaponize government functions against domestic critics. But who are we kidding? Of course they were.

The point is that this is how the slide to autocracy happens. Modern de facto dictatorships donít usually murder their opponents (although Trump has been fulsome in his praise for regimes that do, in fact, rely on brute force). What they do, instead, is use their control over the machinery of government to make life difficult for anyone considered disloyal, until effective opposition withers away.

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