‘Form Follows Function’

by Shelt Garner

As I keep saying, America is an autocracy without an autocrat. And, barring a massive self-own by the MAGA New Right, we’re probably going to drift peacefully into autocracy at some people between now and January 2025. We managed to escape autocracy in 2020 for a number of reasons, among them Trump was so lazy and stupid that he could not pull of the most basic of autocratic power moves in regards to stealing the election.

So, he panicked at the election and put all his chips on the Mike Pence not certifying the vote.

But we’re not going to be so lucky next time. And, honestly, in the end, autocracy is so popular that I just don’t see Trump and Bannon having to even cheat. The rot at the core of the American political system is so advanced, that when the time comes, traditionalists will make common cause with MAGA and it will just be convention wisdom that Republicans now are our minority rule overlords from here on out.

The key thing to keep an eye on is who will be Trump’s successor. About a dozen would-be autocrats know that all they have to do is be Trump’s hand picked successor and they will become America’s Putin. They will have more real power than any president in American history and they will become fabulously wealthy.

From the moment we have President Pompeo, or Hawley or whomever, we’re going to slowly at first, then with greater speed see the basic elements of autocracy begin to show up in the United States. When everyone knows there is no longer any political connection between the government and the governed in the United States, it’s only a matter of time before fascist form follows fascist function.

It may take 20 years, but soon enough, the media will be purged. The existing ICE infrastructure will be weaponized. And a whole slew of very unpopular far Right policies will be implemented. There will be mass protests, but they will fade soon enough and center-Left people will begin to vote with their feet. Until, that is, the autocrat gets wise to this and makes it impossible for anyone to leave the country.

Now, of course, this is Trump we’re talking about. So it is at least POSSIBLE that he could massively self-own and push us into a tragic and needless civil war. The MAGA New Right has grow so bloodthirsty and so glamorized political violence that there’s a greater than zero sum chance that instead of slipping peacefully into autocracy, we have a civil war and bomb ourselves into the Stone Age from seized WMD.

So, as I keep saying — get a passport. Be prepared to take a stand in the real world for what you believe in. Good luck. You’re going to need it.

Schlichter, Never Go Full Fascist

by Shelt Garner

So, this happened.

The guy above is one of a few MAGA New Right “thought leaders” who establish the talking points that will be watered down and disseminated throughout the Right wing bullshit echo chamber. These now far more palatable talking points will be parroted by your conservative relatives at, say, Thanksgiving Dinner.

That’s why such people like Kurt Schlichter are actually far more important than you might think. Even though some of what they rant about is nothing more than bad faith bullshit meant to “own the libs,” usually the general drift of rhetoric on their part does give you some sense of what they actually believe.

As such, it definitely seems as though the on-going fascist radicalization of the Republican Party continues. And, as I’ve mentioned before, it definitely seems as though should Republicans ever gain power again — they’re never going to peacefully give it up.

These days, I vacillate widely between thinking that when the MAGA New Right autocracy finally is established that things aren’t going to change the much for a while, to thinking there’s going to immediately be a civil war and or military junta established.

It’s possible that when the autocratic white Christian ethno state is finally established, the Republicans will drift towards a Russian style autocracy, but, at first things won’t change that much. There will be excesses — like the media will be purged — but for the time being people like me will be allowed to continue to rant about what fucking cocksuckers the MAGA New Right is.

Though, truth be told, if it’s Mike Pompeo who is our autocrat, that may not last very long –that guy is a real asshole who, once president, will be just as corrupt and autocratic as Putin has ever been.

Anyway, back to Schlichter. His Twitter thread definitely gives us a sense of what we’re up against. It’s not like they’re hiding their vision for America. All I can compare it to is how Hitler wrote a whole fucking book laying out exactly what he was going to do….and then he did it.

I can’t predict the future, but the macro trends definitely indicate that the conditions are there for at some point between now and January, 2025, there is going to be some sort of catalyst that forces us to make the existential choice of autocracy, civil war or military junta.

The Right, as exemplified by Schlichter are locked and loaded to strike Blue States on an ideological basis. They’ve established what they’re going to do and why they’re going to do it. But it hasn’t happened yet. Something would have to happen for me not to think we’re just going to peacefully transition into autocracy.

Who knows at this point. Definitely not me.

My Hot Take On The Specific Chronology Of Trump’s Attempted Autogolpe

by Shelt Garner

The key issue — the one that set up Pence to save American democracy for about four years — is “1/03: DOJ threatens mass resignation; Trump backs down.” It is a testament to how Trump has always been playing himself that he backed down at that point.

A true Great Man would have pushed ahead, despite mass resignation. The autocrat is willing to endure the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune — see, also, how Hitler handled the SA — while an idiot ding-dong like Trump goes through all the trouble of getting to that point then backs down.

By January 3, 2021, it was well established that on a political level, Trump was above the law. Nothing, in real terms, would have happened to him if there were mass DOJ resignations. He could have easily gotten what he wanted — to stay in power — and the mass resignations would have been seen as just a blip. This would especially been the case once he was in second term and he could simply purge the media to control the narrative of how he secured a second term.

That, at least, is what an actual autocrat would have done.

The question is, will it be Trump that attempts to shepard us into autocracy in the 2024 – 2025 timeframe, or will it be someone far more adept like Ron DeSantis? But as I keep saying, we have three options ahead of us as of the moment: autocracy, civil war or military junta.

Who organized the Pence Gallows in front of the Capitol?
Sometimes, the biggest tell about an event comes from something we simply take for granted. In this case, it took some planning to set up a gallows for Pence on January 6th. That thing didn’t just magically appear out of nowhere. It suggests that there was a specific point to the insurrection — scare the shit out of Mike Pence so he wouldn’t certify the vote.

Why did Trump give Jim Jordan the Medal of Freedom on January 11?
Again, it’s easy to dismiss this by saying Jordan was such a long-term toady of Trump’s that of course he would get the Medal of Freedom before Trump left office. And, yet, the case could be made that Jordan did something specific in that prompted Trump in his zero-sum-game mind to feel compelled to give Jordan a “gift” in exchange for…what? Silence? Actively fucking up any investigation into what happened January 6th?

Why did a Proud Boy leader visit Trump in the days before January 6th?
This is one of those things where what actually happened is kind of nebulous. Did a Proud Boy leader get a tet-a-tete with Trump in the White House? What did they talk about? There are a lot of conflicting stories about all of this, but someone needs to ask some questions to figure out what happened.

How much did Trump know about the plot for January 6th?

It is reasonable to believe that Trump was the driving force for what happened on January 6th….but just like with the Russia conspiracy stuff, it was probably very chaotic and haphazard. Trump probably would dip in to a meet every once in a while to give “his people” a general goal then wonder off. This gives him legal “plausible deniability” because all he had to do was incite the mob — he likely didn’t know exactly that was going to happen. He just knew there was a good chance they would attack to Capitol in such a way that it could scare the shit out of Pence so he didn’t do his job.

A Rough Chronology Of Trump’s January 6th Autogolpe Plot

by Shelt Garner

I’m too lazy to hunt down the details of what I’m about to write — I’m not writing for VOX, after all — but here is a rough outline of what I know about the events leading up to Trump’s January 6th attempted autogolpe. I’ve added relevant text from another post I’ve written to flesh out this post.

When the history of Trumplandia is written, two people will stick out as having changed everything by what they did — or didn’t do: Bill Barr and Mike Pence. What makes their actions so weird in hindsight is neither one of them was ever mentioned as the “guardrails” that were going to save us from Trump’s excesses. In fact, they were some of the biggest toadies for Trump — until they weren’t at very crucial moments in time.

First, Bill Barr. Bill Barr — at least in my opinion — had a specific purpose when he was originally hired: end the Mueller Investigation. He wrapped that up and did plenty of really shitty things. And then in the 2020 – 2021 timeframe he did something that saved American democracy for four more years: nothing. He sat on his hands.

So, even though Barr intimately knew on a personal basis how badly Trump wanted DOJ to indict the Bidens, or Hillary or Obama or whomever, he was able to simply slow walk all of Trump’s would-be autocratic moves so they were moot. Without Barr doing that, it’s very possible that all the autocratic things I thought up in 2020 Trump would have done and he would still be president.

It is a testament to what a lazy ding-dong Trump is that in the summer and early fall of 2020 he was not far more aggressive against Biden. Anyone else in Trump’s position would have leaned into the fact that he was now politically above the law and, as such, could do anything to stay in power and it work. If Bill Barr wouldn’t indict the Bidens, then a true autocrat in Trump’s position would have fired him in the middle of 2020 and found someone who would. Trump talked a lot about indicting Hunter Biden or Joe Biden…but it was all talk. He didn’t even simply fire anyone necessary to have something akin to the Second Comey Letter released.

We can only conclude from this that Trump is a historical and political avatar. He’s not a great man, he just kind of drifts through history reflecting the rot of our undead liberal democracy back at us. As such, it didn’t really sink into Trump he might be forced out of office until the moment it was too late to use politics — the moment the election was called for Biden. It was at this moment Trump both freaked out and, on a political level, all of Trump’s options ended.

Thus, Trump would have to use extra-political means to stay in office.

The Modern Republican Party

When, on a political basis, all of Trump’s options faded away, he began to freak out and think up ways to stay in office through an autogolpe — self-coup. His first idea was to berate and lean on the people who certified the election results in an effort to get them to nullify Biden’s win that way. He was calling up election officials from all over the country — and even inviting to the White House –in a panicked, desperate attempt to nullify Biden’s win at one of its weakest links.

When that didn’t work, Trump continued to panic. He began to lean on the Justice Department, hoping that they would simply say “the election was corrupt.” That’s all he wanted, just like with Ukraine. He just wanted people with authority to announce an investigation into the “corrupt” 2020 election and then he and Rudy would use the same agitprop techniques of the last five odd years to, through sheer ego and bullshit — force the election into the House and Senate.

Here’s something to mull — it’s very possible that our autocracy will come “legally’ when Republicans starting in 2024 always push POTUS elections into the House and Senate. Because Republicans have a majority of House delegations, they will always win. Let me repeat that: They. Will Always. Win. Because this up-to-now obscure element of the Constitution is their ultimate failsafe for winning elections, Republicans will use it to establish white Christian minority rule.

In fact, if America slips peacefully into autocracy, it will be because of that specific provision of the Constitution. It will be “Constitutional” so it will give the liberal media a hook to explain to the average person why they should cool it with talk of a civil war. This development will be framed just like the Bush V. Gore decision and, gradually, it will be such conventional wisdom that Republicans always win presidential elections that Republicans will finally get what they want: people will stop voting.

Of course, Republicans, once they know they can do whatever the fuck they want, will inevitably abuse their power to the point where we’re indistinguishable from autocratic Russia or there’s a civil war. I think we’re probably just going to become an autocracy and that’s it. At the moment, I just don’t see us breaking the seal on civil war.

If civil war happens, it will probably happen directly because of Trump’s personal incompetence at some critical moment in history. If history picks anyone else to shepherd us into autocracy, then it’s a done deal.

Let’s go back to the autogolpe. In the end, what spelled the demise of Trump’s autogolpe plot was how fucking lazy and stupid he was. He came up with all these ideas for how to throw the election into the House and Senate…and he just couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger. He just was too deranged to simply fire anyone necessary to get that accomplished.

All the conditions were there, but, in the end, it was Trump, specifically, who fucked up and gave American democracy a few years of breathing room.

Because Trump could not pull the trigger, the last ditched effort of the autogolpe was something like this — gather a bunch of die hard MAGA fuckers near the Capitol, incite them in a speech, and then see what happened. At moment, there is no evidence that Trump knew how successful the insurrection would be, but he and his toadies knew, in general, what was likely to happen. In this respect, Trump gave himself some “plausible deniability” should the insurrection actually be a success.

So, from what I can tell, what Trump wanted was to get the mob to browbeat Pence into not certifying the vote. Why else were they chanting, “Hang Mike Pence?” This would throw everything up in the air and then Congress would get involved and that’s where Trump thought he would win because in the House each state delegation would get one vote and Republicans have a majority of delegations

The specific uses of the Electoral Count Act elude me, but it might have bene the middle step that Trump and Rudy could have fucked with to get a win. But the point remains — weirdly enough, we all owe Pence a lot of gratitude for destroying his political career by doing his fucking job.

Pence is the consummate Trump sycophant. Or, at least, he was until January 6th. After defending Trump at every turn for any and everything he did, no matter how horrible or autocratic, on January 6th Pence gave American democracy a second chance by simply doing his fucking job. (Which in the specific case of certification was simply to announce the certification, he didn’t really have to do anything other than not nullify the certification by going rouge.)

And, so because of the actions of two people everyone assumed would be Trump’s lapdogs, American democracy was spared for a few years. You honestly could not make such shit up.

Anyway, once Pence certified the vote, Trump lost.

The MAGA New Right Stanning Of Hungary’s Orban Is Proof The Movement Has Gone Politically Septic

by Ender

One of the more alarming things to happen in modern American politics is how thirsty the MAGA New Right is for autocrats all over the world. The latest thug to have their Tiger Beat spread cut out and pasted on their bedroom wall is Hungary’s autocratic superstar Viktor Orbán.

Talk about what the fuck.

It’s astonishing that it feels like two eras — the late 1850s and the late 1930s — are fusing together in some sort of weird political Frankenstein’s monster. It’s like as if the leaders of Slave Power went on a tour of the Russian Empire and were impressed with how docile the serfs were. Ugh!

What really astonishes me is how all of this is happening is broad daylight and it’s not a huge scandal. It’s like how all those Republican Senators celebrated the 4th of July in Moscow — of all places — a few years ago. That was another what the fuck moment.

What we have to take seriously is the Republican Party is radicalizing in broad day light. It’s now a fascist autocratic white nationalist party. By definition, if it ever gains power again, it’s going to finally extinguish our undead democracy. Given that even an undead democracy has a natural ebb and flow to it, Republicans are going to gain power again.

And they’re probably never going to let it go.

Any discussion of this clusterfuck, however, has to address that the very thing that has allowed the MAGA New Right to gain so much power in broad daylight — Trump’s “chaos agent” nature — is also the movement’s greatest weakness. Trump flings off so much inept chaos just by existing, that he could very well start a civil war that would at least give Blue States a fighting chance at destroying the Republican Party cancer.

So, in a sense, Trump remains a macro historical wildcard. He has such absolute control over the fascist Republican Party that it’s possible he might transition us into an autocracy. And it’s also that because he’s a fucking idiot, he could bungle that same transition and cause a civil war that leads to the destruction of the Republican Party just as much as the first Civil War prompted the destruction of Slave Power once and for all.

But the fact remains — the Republican Party must be destroyed if we are to remain a free country. On a systemic, intuitional basis, the Republican Party is now fascist, autocratic and white nationalist. I’m not thrilled at the idea that the United States would ever have to go through the tragedy of civil war again, but if my only other option is to live in an autocracy like Orban’s Hungary, what the fuck else are we going to do?

And, yet, no fate but what we make. There’s still a chance that we’re going to drift towards some sort of situation where we have an autocracy — a Democrat can only become POTUS if Democrats control Congress — but the fascist Republicans will be so busy making abortion illegal and giving plutocrats yet another tax cut that they whole pushy-pushy out of windows thing will remain just a running gag for me.

I hope.

My Hot Take On Why Republicans Are Freaking Out Over The Congressional January 6th Commission

by Shelt Garner

Republicans are experiencing political flop sweat over the upcoming Congressional investigation into the events surrounding the January 6th Capitol Insurrection.

The question is, why?

There are two major things that might be proven that would make Republicans uncomfortable. One is a direct funding and organizational link between the Trump Administration and what happened. The other is that a number of Republican members of Congress were in cahoots with the rioters.

Both of those things, if proven, would be hurt Republicans in the upcoming 2022 mid-terms.

And, yet, I don’t really think they have THAT much to worry about. First, Congressional Republicans have established the conditions such that anything, no matter how damaging, that the commission finds can be spun to the base as a “Pelosi’s partisan witch hunt” and have you heard of Critical Race Theory and Cancel Culture? For everyone else, the ideological negative polarization and recursive thinking has grown so intense that there is literally nothing the commission could possibly fucking find out that would change anyone’s mind within the violent personality cult that is the modern Republican Party.

The other issue is, I’m not so sure we can take for granted that there will be a free and fair election in 2022 in the first place. It’s very possible that by 2022, the Republican Party will essentially be the theoretical fascist Patriot Party and even if Democrats win, those wins won’t be certified by hyper-partisan state and local election officials.

The fix is in, in other words.

So, in a sense, all the hand wringing by Republican leadership now is more out of an abstract fear than any sense that anything concrete will happen to hurt them. What is likely to happen is by the fall of 2022 what would now be considered shocking — that elected Republicans actively worked with a violent mob to attempt a coup — will be seen exclusively through the lens of partisan politics and fuck you lib.

I don’t think Twitter liberals appreciate how far down the road to tyranny — or civil war — the United States has gone at this point. I know just in my own personal life my various, numerous conservative relatives are so consumed by both-siderism, negative polarization and recursive thinking that there is no talking to them. (Which, that, in itself, is pretty depressing in a putative liberal democracy.)

As I keep saying — at some point between now and when the presidential results are certified in January 2025, we, as a nation, are going to be faced with the existential choice of civil war or autocracy.

I generally think we’re gong to slide peacefully into autocracy that culminates in a Constitutional Convention that codifies the MAGA belief that America is a nation of “blood and soil.” All my dystopian nightmares will come true — just a few years later than I predicted — and I will die at the hands of an ICE agent one way or another because I refuse to fucking shut up.

Thanks for coming to my TEDtalk.

‘This Is The New Right’

by Shelt Garner

Let’s crack open the rye and take a little journey into the Upside Down of the Right wing Twitter echo chamber. I’ve found a feed that is gist for a lot of posts and I’m going to cherry pick the best tweets and write a response to them at length.

Here’s our first one.

There’s a lot to unpack here. The interesting thing about Jesse Kelly is at least he’s cogent in his status as a fascist thought leader. I have to give him that. And, from my personal experience, a lot of bedrock conservatives with a permission structure to vote MAGA use watered down versions of his talking points without even realizing it.

But let’s focus on the, “…You cannot use my values against me….Nothing you say holds any meaning to me.”

What does that even mean? It appears as though the Mr. Kelly is going the nullification route. He’s saying that by definition, if because you’re not a fascist like him, he won’t listen to you, no matter what you say. No point you make which shows him to be a big old hypocrite matters because you’re saying it. This is a great way to pretty much make pin his entire argument on recursive thinking.

If, as a member of the “New Right” he can never be proven to be a hypocrite because he’s not going to listen to anything you say in the first place because he doesn’t agree with you then, lulz, that’s pretty fucking scary. It’s a very dehumanizing stance to take and would be at home in Nazi Germany. I mean, wouldn’t a Nazi say the same thing to a Jewish intellectual? Yep!

In fact, that’s why addressing people like Mr. Kelly in a calm, logical fashion only leads to heart break –you can’t mention Nazis, you can’t mention racism, you can’t mention systemic racism, you can’t mention Hitler and you can’t mention their jaw dropping hypocrisy. If you do, THEY get mad and either yell at you, or smugly say “this is the New Right.”

So why am I doing all this writing about all this bullshit? I don’t know, Mr. Kelly is actually cogent, as I mentioned, and I can’t get all I want to say off my chest in a tweet.

Elon Musk & A Potential Strategic Realignment of American Politics

by Shelt Garner

A number of technological megatrends are coming to a head in, say, the next four or so years. I would propose that Elon Musk — if his dreams of automated semis come true — could personally cause a massive realignment in American politics.

The origins of that realignment are already there.

The Republicans, because of Trump, want to be the party of the volk. And, yet, it’s really the party of “German Industrialists,” if you will. But imagine 3 million high paying blue collar jobs go…poof!..at some point in the next four to 10 years when we no longer have any need for human truckers.

Then, you have the possibility that the Far Left and the Far Right of each party will become very interested in Neo-Ludditism and become their own party, while the moderate corporate-friendly parts of the two parties would fusion into a new party. This process would likely happen very fast — maybe within one or two presidential election cycles. Then something that the political class absolutely hates — a clear choice — would be presented to the electorate.

Voters would have a choice between an autocratic, anti-democratic, anti-technology party and the debris of everyone else. While given the reasons for why America is so very, very, very fucked there’s no stopping our march to autocracy, the rise of neo-Luddites might, at least, slow the process down.

But this is all very theoretical at the moment. It could be that I’m over thinking things and what I think is going to happen –we’re either going to be an autocracy or have a civil war — is what is going to happen.

Again, as I keep saying — get out while you still can.

I Have Every Reason To Believe Trump Is Going To Destroy The United States Via A Coup

by Shelt Garner

There’s some serious silence going on. Republicans aren’t acting like they accept that Trump lost. And the infrastructure exists for TrumpBarr to stage an attempted court coup. All that has to happen is just one of their bullshit lawsuits go to SCOTUS and successfully narrow or redefine what a “legal ballot” is and, well, that’s it — a coup happens and then a civil war or revolution.

As an aside, it’s darkly humorous how many people from Red States — especially Southern Red States — show up in my Webstats whenever I rant about the possibility of the United States descending into civil war. It’s pretty obvious that a lot of Red State people are actually looking forward to a civil war. Why this would be the case is beyond me. As I have repeatedly ranted about — Blue States (once they get their act together) are in a far better military position than Red States.

But anyway, the point is — we are now potentially living through a 2020 version of what happened immediately after Lincoln won the 1860 election. Southern (Red) States are in shock. They never expected Biden — or Lincoln — to win and now they’re weighing their options.

Republicans are so blinded by ideology and negative polarization that they are barreling towards “catching the car” in the courts with total disregard to what happens if they are successful. Now that the election has been called, they’ve lost an enormous political advantage. They blew it. If they had struck before the election was called, then they probably would have had a 50-50 shot of “not losing” the election.

But now, if they strike and win in the courts, things are going to get very violent, very quickly. So violent that Trump will be looked back upon as the man personally responsible for the destruction of the American First Republic. The country will implode into civil war and or revolution and there will be no going back. And, in fact, there’s a chance that when all is said and done there will be two nations — Trumplandia and the rump United States.

It’s going to be horrific if it any of this happens. I’m notorious for being wrong of late, but Trump is a deranged moronic fascist autocrat with the entire Republican Party willing to back him up no matter what. They just don’t care. They want as much power as they can possibly obtain and if that means destroying any semblance of democracy in America, then cry more lib.

Really, the reason why I’m growing so nervous is the silence of the Republican Party. This is not normal. A series of things have to happen before Biden is sworn in, so if it’s not attacking and corrupting the certification of votes in state legislatures, then it will be Trump doxing the human Electors who will actually vote for he or Biden.

He will “joke” that they need to “respect the 2nd Amendment” and before you know it, mobs of MAGA fucktards show up at their homes and threaten to kill their family if they don’t change their vote and vote for Trump.

I’m not kidding. This may very well happen.

Autocrats never lose, as they say. I will suggest, however, that when the history of the Second American Republic is written, the fact that we finally called the election may be of far more historical significance than we realize right now.

The Dead Hand Of History Suggests Either Trump ‘Doesn’t Lose’ Or The Country Implodes After The Election

by Shelt Garner

The weird thing about the modern era, is I’ve read enough history books to know some sense of how they would describe what’s going on around us — our Republic is becoming an empire. It definitely seems as though one scenario would the United States becomes a semi-monarchial autocratic state with a House Trump that rules the country (poorly) until the Browning of America makes their rule untenable.

It definitely seems as though This Is It. Trump, with the help of the Russians hacking directly into our election systems, will “not lose.” He strangles any semblance of liberal democracy in the United States and whatever’s left is allowed to exist because it’s not a threat. In fits and starts over the next two year or so, Trump accelerates our drive towards autocracy and that’s that. That definitely seems to be the path we’re on right now.

What’s worse, if the Russians somehow allow Biden to win, then we face a different problem — MAGA-Qanon could very well begin to blow shit up and actually start killing people (like me!) out of spite in support of The Dear Leader. They try to sucker punch the center-Left, deliver a knock-out blow. Given that they will have the full authority of the Trump regime on their side, it definitely seems as though they will get away with it.

Of course, Trump is such an incompetent moron, that there’s at least a small chance that even with the legal might of Interior Secretary Bill Barr at his disposal, he’s so ham-handed and brazen in his Very American Coup that the country implodes for no other reason than Trump finally jiggles American self-perception enough that conservatives-who-aren’t-MAGA finally get woke. That really seems like a liberal fever dream at this point, but who knows.

The 2020 election definitely has a 1860 vibe to it, is all I gotta say. It feels as though the nation is at a crossroads and because MAGA is so insane, if they don’t get what they want, it seems reasonable to assume they’re going to start killing people (like me!) The question, of course, is what our reaction to such behavior will be.

I honestly don’t know.