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Nevilledog's Journal
Nevilledog's Journal
June 15, 2024

Eisen & Ben-Ghiat: American Autocracy Threat Tracker (Just Security)


Former President Donald Trump has said he will be a dictator on “day one.” He and his advisors and associates have publicly discussed hundreds of further actions to be taken during a second Trump presidency that directly threaten democracy, the rule of law, as well as U.S. (and global) security. These vary from Trump breaking the law and abusing power in areas like immigration roundups and energy extraction; to summarily firing tens of thousands of civil servants whom he perceives as adversaries; to prosecuting his political opponents for personal gain; to pardoning convicted January 6th rioters he views as “warriors,” “great patriots” and “hostages.” We track all of the specific promises, plans, and pronouncements here and we will continue to update them.

This autocratic lean has also been pronounced in statements made by Trump and his allies during and after his New York election interference trial and conviction. Those kinds of attacks on the administration of justice are a hallmark of would-be dictators. As we detail below, Trump has persistently attacked the rule of law when it gets in his way, with the Manhattan case being the most recent example. He committed 10 violations of a gag order protecting witnesses and the jury, falsely accused Justice Juan Merchan, who presided over the trial, of being “corrupt” and doing “everything within his power” to help President Biden win the election, vilified prosecutors and otherwise spread grotesque disinformation about the proceedings and racist tropes about the judge. Despite acknowledging it is “very dangerous” for him to say so, speaking at Trump Tower the day after his conviction, Trump said that the “crooked” judge presiding over the case “was a tyrant” who “looks like an angel but he’s really a devil.” Trump allies have taken a similarly pointed anti-rule of law stance, including in daily appearances outside the trial and a cacophony of unfair and false criticism following its conclusion.

Trump has long threatened to prosecute his adversaries, but during and after his Manhattan trial both he and his allies have been explicit about doing so in retaliation for that proceeding — despite the lack of any evidence of criminal wrongdoing by those targeted. According to a New York Times’ report, the “open desire for using the criminal justice system against Democrats after the verdict surpasses anything seen before in Mr. Trump’s tumultuous years in national politics.” This week, Trump pointed to his prosecution and said, “it’s very possible that it’s going to have to happen to them,” namely his political adversaries. After the verdict, his former aide and current advisor Steven Miller asked, “Is every Republican D.A. starting every investigation they need to right now?” Steve Bannon said Alvin Bragg “should be — and will be — jailed,” according to Axios. According to Axios’s report, another Trump insider pointed to using a federal statute criminalizing civil rights conspiracies. Retaliation has also been embraced by senior GOP leaders in Congress such as Senator Marco Rubio who sounded a call to “fight fire with fire.” Former DOJ official and author of the infamous torture memos, John Yoo has composed a justification of retaliation prosecutions. (The Times aptly describes it as seeking “to dress up the need for such retribution as a matter of constitutional principle.”) Far-right activist Laura Loomer, who Trump has embraced, has gone so far as to say “Not just jail, they should get the death penalty.”

In the wake of statements about seeking a revenge-and-retribution presidency, Trump made a return to the Capitol on June 13, the first time since the January 6th attack, where he was this time hailed by Republican establishment figures. “There was a distinct impression of subordinates paying homage to a strongman leader,” wrote CNN’s Stephen Collinson.


June 13, 2024

'Brazen corruption': Donald Trump is selling policies for a second term to the highest bidders


Donald Trump is no stranger to a quid pro quo — he was impeached for one, after all. But while campaigning for a second term in the White House, he has gone further than perhaps any other candidate in recent history to shape his policies in return for cash.

Trump is not making these bargains behind closed doors or in smoky back rooms, but at fundraisers and events attended by dozens of influential and extremely wealthy people.

On several occasions he has made explicit offers to reward donors by enacting or dismantling policy on their behalf should he win in November, often reversing his own previously held positions.

Democrat Jamie Raskin, ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, accused Trump of treating the presidency “as a for-profit business enterprise and money-making venture.”

He told The Independent that Trump was “brazenly offering to sell out U.S. policy to any corporate and billionaire campaign donors ready to make a deal, including telling Big Oil he will sign their executive orders in exchange for a cool one billion dollars.”

June 13, 2024

Trump has no respect for the basic mechanisms of democracy.


No paywall link

One common thread connects nearly every major scandal involving Donald Trump: his absolute disdain for the democratic process.

That is certainly true of his recent conviction in New York on 34 felony counts. The charges themselves focused on fraudulent business records created by the Trump Organization to cover up the paper trail left by hush-money payments made in 2016 to women who’d claimed past relationships with Trump. But as the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office made clear to the jury, the motivation behind the payments had everything to do with preventing voters from being truthfully informed about the candidate before they went to the polls.

That instance is no outlier. Trump has shown no respect for elections as a mechanism for governing society since the beginning of his political rise. In the final stretch of the 2016 campaign, he promised that he would accept the results of the election “if I win.” When it came time for his reelection campaign in 2020, he wasted no time in casting doubt on the integrity of the vote—beginning that spring with attacks on the reliability of mail-in balloting and escalating after Election Day to lawsuits, fraudulent electoral certificates, and eventually encouragement of a violent insurrection at the Capitol.

In the runup to this year’s elections, Trump’s efforts to undermine public faith in the process began even earlier. As the indictments against him started to roll in over the spring and summer of 2023, Trump claimed that the four criminal cases constituted “election interference” by Democrats out to damage his chances. “They rigged the presidential election of 2020,” he declares in many iterations of his stump speech, “and we’re not going to allow them to rig the presidential election of 2024.” He kept up these complaints over the course of the hush-money trial in New York: “This is a Biden witch hunt to keep me off the campaign trail,” he insisted to the press one day from a dim courtroom hallway. “election interference!!!” he posted as the jurors deliberated.

Trump is, as ever, a master of projection. The matter of underhanded meddling in elections did indeed take center stage during his New York trial—but the person orchestrating this meddling was Trump himself.

June 12, 2024

Trump super fans are impossible to argue with because they don't actually believe in logic


Ever since Donald Trump emerged on the American political scene, many of his critics have sought tirelessly to raise many different arguments about his policies, rhetoric, and criminal actions to help his supporters see just what their unrequited loyalty is enabling. Occasionally, these efforts have yielded fruit, but overwhelmingly, they are unsuccessful.

Last September, the head of an anti-Trump Republican political action committee called Win It Back, formalized the despair of many critics in a memorandum summarizing what his group had learned after testing more than 40 different television ads on 12 in-person focus groups.

“All attempts to undermine his conservative credentials on specific issues were ineffective,” David McIntosh wrote.

“Every traditional postproduction ad attacking President Trump either backfired or produced no impact on his ballot support and favorability,” McIntosh continued. “This includes ads that primarily feature video of him saying liberal or stupid comments from his own mouth.”

Whether acting in a personal or professional capacity, many Trump critics have seen similar results. Trying to use logical persuasion with your Trump-worshiping friend or relative is not likely to work, not necessarily because they are stupid, but because they have completely different moral and epistemic viewpoints than you or almost anyone else—they genuinely believe that facts do not derive from science, reason, or history.

June 7, 2024

Setting the Record Straight on the NY Election Interference Case Against Donald Trump


This past April, I wrote an article for Meidas making the case for why the NY election case is the most important of all the indictments against Donald Trump. After a masterful presentation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, 12 jurors unanimously voted to convict Trump of 34 felonies. In order to do so, they had to unanimously find that Trump engaged in election interference in the 2016 presidential election.

It was a grueling six-week trial, where nearly two dozen witnesses testified under oath, were subjected to blistering cross examination and vitriolic public scrutiny. By almost all accounts, Judge Juan Merchan was fair, even-handed, and preserved the integrity of the process. The prosecutors methodically and painstakingly introduced documents, records, recordings, photos, texts, emails, transcripts, social media posts and book excerpts to corroborate witness testimony.

Since the resounding jury verdict, however, there have been multiple critics of the case, the prosecution, the trial, the judge, and the Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin Bragg. As someone who spent nearly her entire career at the Manhattan D.A.’s Office (I have never worked for Bragg), I feel compelled to respond.

Skeptics have criticized this case from the beginning, saying it is less serious than Trump’s other three indictments. It has been called a zombie case, politically motivated, a Biden conspiracy, and 2024 election interference. A recent article in New York Magazine called it “an ill-conceived unjustified mess.” These arguments are incorrect.

June 5, 2024

Barbara McQuade: Debunking 12 Myths About Trump's Conviction


Depending on your perspective, the conviction of Donald Trump on 34 counts in a Manhattan courtroom was either a refreshing affirmation of the rule of law or a miscarriage of justice in a politically motivated prosecution. A jury returned a verdict finding that Trump had caused the falsification of checks, invoices, and ledgers to conceal the payment of $130,000 to adult film actress Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 presidential election, with intent to conceal the violation of campaign finance and tax laws.

We are all entitled to our own views of the case, of course, but opinion should also be based on facts. Certain myths are creeping into the conversation and distorting the truth about Trump’s conviction. And it’s worth examining some of these myths in order to dispel them.

Myth: No one knows what Trump was charged with.

Response: Trump was charged in a 15-page indictment, handed up by a grand jury, with 34 counts of violating New York Penal Law 175-10 in the first degree, which is a felony. A violation in the first degree occurs when a person falsifies business records with an intent to defraud that includes an intent to commit, aid, or conceal another crime. In addition to the indictment, the Manhattan District Attorney filed a 13-page statement of facts detailing the allegations.

June 4, 2024

The Year in Hate & Extremism 2023 (Southern Poverty Law Center)


In 2023, the SPLC documented 1,430 hate and antigovernment extremist groups that comprise the organizational infrastructure upholding white supremacy in the U.S. The years since the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection have been a time for the hard right to prepare. In 2023, those opposing inclusive democracy worked to legitimize insurrection, paint hate as virtuous and transform false conspiracy theories into truth – all in preparation for one of the most significant elections in U.S. history. The report chronicles trends in hard-right activity, not simply as a reality check, but as a tool to act alongside those working to prevent radicalization and counter white supremacy, disinformation and false conspiracies in 2024.















June 4, 2024

How Q Became Everything


You can track QAnon’s arc, like most things in America, through its relationship with corporate brands. Although the conspiracy movement emerged out of fringe imageboards in 2017, its first viral successes came on Facebook and YouTube, where its lore envisioning Donald Trump fighting an elite cabal of liberal pedophiles was honed and refined. When Covid came in 2020, QAnon ballooned under lockdowns, putting it in the mainstream, but leaving it short of actually being mainstream.

Call it the Wayfair era. In July 2020, followers of QAnon began spreading a particular pedophilic panic: the absurd notion that the online furniture retailer was selling children for sexual abuse via armoire orders. Non-Q masses took the bait: “Mentions of Wayfair and ‘trafficking’ have exploded on Facebook and Instagram over the past week,” the Associated Press wrote at the time, noting that related TikTok hashtags “together amassed nearly 4.5 million views.” A national human trafficking hotline issued a press release warning that a flood of calls about the conspiracy had distracted them from genuine work.

While it was widely peddled, it was also widely derided. Surely, something so absurd could not keep going. And looking back on the uproar from two years later, Wayfair seemed like the death of Q. By late 2020, major Q adherents had been purged from the platforms. Its influencers and weird hoaxes almost never broke into broader consciousness, except to be debunked. Its galvanizing messiah, Trump, was on his way out of the White House. Q was no longer inspiring people to murder mob bosses, kidnap their own children, or show up heavily armed at the Hoover Dam.

But far from being the end, Wayfair was a sign of what the movement was turning into—one confirmed in late November 2022, when the Balenciaga panic happened. The genesis point was a TikTok video posted by Brittany Venti, a right-wing provocateur and influencer with a history of aggravating culture war fights. While displaying pictures from a Balenciaga ad campaign showing small children with purses made to look like teddy bears wearing bondage straps, she complained that a “worldwide, internationally known brand” was “advertising their purses by having a child hold kink fetish gear.”

May 25, 2024

Jessica Valenti: How Conservatives are Rebranding Pro-Life


No paywall link

AMERICANS DON’T WANT abortion to be banned. In fact, they barely want it legislated at all: A 2024 poll found that 81 percent of voters don’t want abortion issues to be regulated by the government. Instead, they want the decision to be between a patient and their doctor.

That overwhelming support for legal abortion leaves Republicans with a major problem: How do you defend and push a policy that no one wants? In the nearly two years since Roe v. Wade was overturned, the GOP has faced an unprecedented backlash. They’re losing election after election — from the 2022 midterms to state Supreme Court races — and abortion rights win every time they are on the ballot. Republicans are even considering doing away with the term “pro-life” because Americans view it as too extreme. The horror stories regularly coming out of states with abortion bans certainly don’t help.

In response, anti-abortion lawmakers and groups have recently launched a new two-pronged attack. They’re changing the way they publicly talk about abortion, using specific terms and phrases to make Americans believe that they’re softening on the issue; at the same time, they’re systematically chipping away at democracy so that voters won’t have a say in the matter, just in case their talking points don’t work.

I’ve been tracking these tactics in my newsletter, “Abortion, Every Day,” since Roe was overturned, finding that the GOP’s deception runs deeper than most people realize.

May 11, 2024

The US Army is getting new 'Iron Fist' technology - thanks to Ukraine war aid


One thing many critics of US aid to Ukraine don’t seem to understand is that most of the money actually gets spent in the United States, very often on improved equipment for our own armed forces. For example, some Ukraine aid is being spent getting the latest Iron Fist “active defence” equipment into the US Army’s own armoured vehicle fleets much faster than it would otherwise arrive.

This is happening because the United States typically supports Ukraine by donating older weapons from existing US stocks, and then using the authorized “Ukraine aid” funds to re-equip US troops with newer weapons to replace those older weapons they just gave away.

Quite literally, the roughly $140 billion the United States is spending on Ukraine through the war’s first three years is actually funding a major modernization drive for the US military.

The US Army’s fleet of M-2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles is a great example of this counterintuitive dynamic. In exchange for giving away old M-2s to Ukraine, the United States is getting new M-2s hot off BAE Systems’ production line in York, Pennsylvania.


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