Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Information Colander

Or what you need to fight the disinformation wars of our Dear Leader and his Rasputin, Stephen Bannon:  A way to figure out what might be normal in democratic politics, however, reprehensible, and what might not be that normal.

Mother Jones has a suggestion:

We saw three kinds of developments this week—let's call them normal, normalesque, and definitely not normal. The first kind is simply part of the shift in power to another president and party: changes that could just as easily happen with (just for the sake of argument) a President Warren replacing Trump in 2021. Overhauling the White House website, freezing regulations, and even telling federal workers not to tweet fall, sort of, into this category. 
The second category are policy changes more radical than what we would have seen from other GOP presidents, because today's GOP is more radical. Those changes will in many cases mobilize shock and opposition—even from some in the Republican Party itself. Announcing the border wall, expanding the "global gag rule," repealing Obamacare, banning immigrants for their nationality alone, even nominating cabinet members who disagree with the mission of the agencies they will lead are in this category. They will get, and deserve, a bitter fight on policy grounds, but they are still on the (far end of) the spectrum of what we can expect in a democracy at a time of tectonic political shifts. They are normalesque. 
But then there is a third category—the actions of a man with a temperament and behavior we haven't seen in the White House in modern times, if ever. Trump personally, as near as we can tell, believes in few things except himself; his actions are often precipitated by rumors and stuff on TV that makes him mad; and most significantly he, along with many of his closest advisers, is inclined toward authoritarianism and a retrograde sort of nationalism. The actions that flow from these qualities are the ones that transcend normalcy entirely. Insisting that the constitution doesn't apply when you don't want it to; chastising the press for reporting obvious facts and calling it "the opposition party"; perpetuating a massive smear against the electoral system by claiming that millions voted illegally; and tapping an enabler of white supremacists to set immigration policy in defiance of the agencies charged with implementing it: Those things are not even at the outside edges of normal. Those things draw from another playbook—not that of democracy. *
So. What to do? 
One of the most important things at a turbulent moment like this is to step back: to sift signal from noise and consider which developments rattle the foundations of  of democracy and which are simply the fallout from a change election.

Bolds are mine.  Note that the above classes are not about the pain and suffering or human importance of decisions as such; they try to focus on the long-term effects of the Trump Reich, the kinds of things which would make truly painful and horrible decisions more common, and that in an environment in which we cannot fight back.
I would perhaps add to that the widespread rumor that border agency officers in some places are refusing to obey the decisions of the Federal courts about the stays of Trump's Muslim ban, stating direct orders from higher-ups.   Why?  Because if the executive branch gives the finger to the judiciary branch, what would stop the former doing whatever it feels like, including violating the Constitution, especially in a situation like the current one where the Congress is ruled by the president's party.