Saturday, August 8, 2020





Palast: He will run and win by ballot corruption, mainly from the now far right Republican Party, as modeled by Governor Kemp of Georgia and others.

Levitsky and Ziblatt: He will run and win because US democratic rules and norms have been corrupted mainly by this Republican Party, but if necessary Trump will declare an emergency and martial law.

Applebaum (according to Keller): Trump’s wealthy supporters and his  public relations experts-- “the pamphleteers, bloggers, spin doctors, producers of television programs… who can sell his image to the public”--will ensure his victory.

Aldridge:  Part I relates that soon after WWII the ultra-conservatives, ultra-right-wing neoconservatives, the neocons—all who rejected democracy—began their 70 years of struggle to establish authoritarian government partly via martial law  Trump could be our dictator by martial law.

Hett:  The analogy to Hitler’s takeover of the Weimar Republic suggests a Trump takeover as consequence of all the causes given in the preceding 2 books.


Trump will run and win, unless. . . .: each book includes a section on how Trump’s victory could be prevented.  On voting: Bernie Sanders argues in a recent letter, we must do everything we can to create the largest voter turnout in history. As Levitsky and Ziblatt argue: There will be massive corruption, but the Republicans can’t rig a massive turnout that produces a massive rejection of Trump.

Our predicament is as complicated as these writings suggest.

To the question, will he resign? Greg Palast in  How Trump Stole 2020 suggests he will not, because Trump believes he will not be defeated at the polls because he will perform as  Palast’s title says:  he will copy nationally what Georgia’s Gov. Kemp accomplished with extraordinarily successful deviousness: he will deny enough Democrats, mainly Blacks, the vote, “via purge, disqualifications, and the mass rejection of provisional, absentee, and paper ballot.” (296).  Palast is a superlative scholar of the vulnerableness of our electoral system, as his book shows page after page, backed up by his earlier book Billionaires and Ballot Bandits.   In both books he suggests remedies.


Another new book, How Democracies Die  by Levitsky and Ziblatt, makes an even more complex and dismal case that the collapse of our democracy is likely because its two foundations—democratic rules and norms—are being undermined by the two Parties, but mainly from the Republican Party.   The Constitutional (written) rules and the political and social conventions (unwritten rules) that guarded the Constitution no longer protect our politics.  That is, we cannot take for granted mutual toleration or forbearance; the two competing parties no longer accept one another as legitimate rivals, or the idea that politicians should exercise restraint.  To the question, will Trump resign, the authors might cite their story of the Philippines’ Marcos, who, when his second term ended, successfully refused to step down “after declaring martial law” (76), neither rules nor norms strong enough to prevent his dictatorship. 


A 3rd  book, according to the following review, fingers Trump’s enablers.

Published July 19, 2020Updated July 20, 2020TWILIGHT OF DEMOCRACY: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism By Anne Applebaum. Reviewed by Bill Keller.

Even before the coronavirus began to test our social order, the world was experiencing another plague, a pandemic of authoritarianism. Over the past decade it has infected democracies around the globe, including our own. Among the first responders were writers offering dystopian fiction and apocalyptic nonfiction, all questioning the durability of democracy under stress.

“The Death of Democracy,” Benjamin Carter Hett’s reconsideration of Weimar Germany, explored how partisan intransigence enabled the rise of Hitler, a lesson clearly intended as a timely warning. In their all-too-credible alarum, “How Democracies Die,” the Harvard political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt drew on a global roster of recently failed democracies to identify symptoms of would-be autocrats. (Donald Trump checks all the boxes.) In “Surviving Autocracy,” the journalist Masha Gessen, having sharpened a scalpel on Vladimir Putin, dissected Trumpism and concluded that curing it will take more than an election.

Anne Applebaum’s contribution to this discussion, “Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism,” is concerned less with the aspiring autocrats and their compliant mobs than with the mentality of the courtiers who make a tyrant possible: “the writers, intellectuals, pamphleteers, bloggers, spin doctors, producers of television programs and creators of memes who can sell his image to the public.”

Are these enablers true believers or just cynical opportunists? Do they believe the lies they tell and the conspiracies they invent or are they simply greedy for wealth and power? The answers she reaches are frankly equivocal, which in our era of dueling absolutes is commendable if sometimes a little frustrating.

Applebaum, an American journalist who lives mostly in Poland, has earned accolades (including a Pulitzer Prize) for prodigiously researched popular histories of the Cold War, the Gulag and Stalin’s forced famine in Ukraine. “Twilight of Democracy” is less substantial, a magazine essay expanded into a book that is part rumination, part memoir.

A 4TH book, Bob Aldridge, The Goodness Field: A Guidebook for Proactive Nonviolence.( 2020)  offers a summary of post-WWII US transformations into a new way of life to protect US “vital interests” (access to the world’s resources):

Part I Understanding Our Opponent: Egothink

Chapter 2, The Culture of Entertainment and Pax Americana.: the ultra-conservatives, ultra-right-wing neoconservatives, neocons.

    Section 1, Culture of Entertainment:  consumption as a way of life, TV,, social media

    Section 2, “Pax Americana—Structuring for World Hegemony” (33-): Truman Doctrine, Marshall Plan, NATO, global bases, CIA, NSA

Chapter 3, Rise of the Neocons.

Chapter 4, Deconstructing Democracy, pp. 84-93, quick history of US martial law. 
Begins with the Reichstag fire Feb. 27, 1933 and martial law, Nazi Party and Hitler fixed in power (69).  Chap. 4 divided into 2 parts:: 1) the 3 major consolidations in the Executive Branch and 2) martial law.

Chapter 5, Divide and Deceive: the deluded populace, bound in martial law, provide no significant resistance.

Parts II and III Nonviolent Resistance  


  The four books trace main ideas and practices—Palast:  our voting, L and Z : our political culture, Applebaum: the president’s supporters, and Aldridge: the rise of the neocon/military culture and declaration of martial law--to expose the increasing fracturing of our democratic political foundations.



A 5th book analyzes the collapse of another democracy whose Constitution was modeled at least in part upon that of the US.  The Death of Democracy: Hitler's Rise to Power and the Downfall of the Weimar Republic by Benjamin Carter Hett explains why democracy fell apart so quickly and completely in Germany in the 1930s.     His book’s title denotes two converging plots, which are best understood  by WWI. 

Weimar Republic’s under the moderate, multi-Party Social Democratic Party coalition reached “high civilization,” an “enlightened, creative, ultramodern [constitutional] democracy,”  “unrivalled” in “science and  scholarship,” spectacular in literature, music, film.  Simultaneously its conservative government under President Paul von Hindenburg, his officials, and the army “held the keys to power.”  They “moved [and polarized] the Republic politically to the right.”    They could have stopped Hitler, but chose to “use him.”  In little more than a decade  the Weimar Republic had become a brutal totalitarianism, “the most evil regime in human history” (7-12). 

Adolph Hitler was “the most historically important individual of the twentieth century”— skilled demagog, “clever political strategist.”  But even his extraordinary “talents cannot fully explain Hitler’s success.”  There was the chaos created by the war, which made the workings of democracy—its compromising, its frequent turnover of administrations-- seem contemptible and “soulless”; to which the Nazis responded by rejecting “a rational, factual world” via “conspiracy theories” to explain also Germany’s defeat (Communists, capitalist, Jews),.  What was needed was a providential leader and rule by emergency powers and executive orders. 

 “There was nothing the Nazis did in the years after 1933 that was not prefigured in their rise to power.”  Keen observers saw what was coming: dictatorship, martial law, abolition of parliament, crushing of liberties, terror, war.  What they did not foresee was the public’s acceptance. (13-14). 



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Dick's Wars and Warming KPSQ Radio Editorials (#1-48)

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