A Curtain Is Falling Down Around Us

By EProf2, a Trail Mix Contributor

Winston Churchill famously predicted that an iron curtain was falling down between western democracies and the Soviet Union after the end of World War II. This was an international curtain separating two competing ideologies.

Today, there is no doubt that a domestic curtain is falling down around the United States, not to separate competing ideologies but to enhance the views of one man’s governing ambitions and style.

History has shown us that many democracies had curtains fall down around them when “strong and decisive” figures took extra-legal steps to cement their elected positions. The most famous of these democratic societies falling to a dictatorship enveloped in a curtain was Adolph Hitler in Germany in the 1930’s. Mussolini in Italy, Franco in Spain, Peron in Argentina, and elsewhere. Democracies are not immune from coup d’etats and elected dictatorships.

Recent examples include Turkey, Egypt, Venezuela, Hungary, and most of the former Soviet Republics.

Thus far in the history of the United States there has been a strong acceptance of democratic processes over strong elected personalities. There have been some examples of anti-democratic leaders in our history. The most famous was Huey Long in Louisiana. Some historians think that Douglas MacArthur might have had the ability to use the military to overthrow President Truman after the president fired the General over disagreement on the use of atomic weapons during the Korean War. MacArthur, as a principled small d democrat, declined and quietly faded away as he said he would.

Today, the United States faces a crisis of the strong man taking the first steps toward total control of government.

How?

  • First, dismiss anyone who dares to challenge his authority and point of view.
  • Second, surround himself with family, generals, and millionaires and billionaires who share his concept of a corporate state.
  • Third, slowly cut off press access to the agencies and bureaus vital to a democracy.
  • Fourth, destroy scientific data and cripple previous scientific truths.
  • Fifth, take away or tilt voting in favor of one political party.
  • Sixth, through propaganda and lying, convince the people that he is making “America Great Again,” even though wages will be kept low, health care will be diminished or eliminated, and only the leader can “fix it” for the people.
  • Seventh, allow no transparency to the strong man’s economic and political transactions.
  • And, lastly, create a bogey man or woman, like the last candidate in the presidential election, that can be blamed for everything that doesn’t fit the prevailing political picture.

Put together, those are some obvious pitfalls and major concerns for the survival of American democracy.

Democracy is the most fragile of all governing systems. Let’s hope our system and the American people are capable of preserving and strengthening American democracy in the face of a descending curtain around the Republic.

As Benjamin Franklin said as he emerged from the constitutional convention and was asked what form of government we would have, he said, “a Republic…if you can keep it.”

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72 thoughts on “A Curtain Is Falling Down Around Us”

  1. eprof, looks like someone else agrees with your assessment

    James Clapper: U.S. institutions ‘under assault’ by President Trump

    When CNN host Jake Tapper asked if he meant they were under assault by the president, Clapper responded: “Exactly.”

    “The founding fathers in their genius created a system of co-equal branches of government and a built-in system of checks and balances, and I feel as though that is under assault and is eroding,” Clapper said.

  2. “One, can he really be this stupid? Two, does he really think we as a country are this stupid? And three, are we as a country this stupid? And it’s entirely possible the answer to all three questions are ‘yes.’”

    [oliver]

  3. kgc, you alerted us yesterday to

    Louise Mensch and Claude Taylor reported last night that a grand jury working underneath FISA court has returned a sealed indictment against the president.

    looks like mostly alt right and other hard core conservative media are pushing this story.  wonder what they’re up to.  fishing to get some sort of official denial maybe?  fishing to try to hook something no doubt.  i’m reluctant to click on to any of those links and will wait ’til bbc or equivalent reports.

  4. patd, KGC, that grand jury working under FISA Court story is fake news IMHO.  Let’s see if I’m right.

  5. You can add to that list..any excuse to declare martial law.  I think he is has been trying to do that in Chicago since he took office.

    Excellent post and if people weren’t completely freaked out before…they will be now.

  6. nice work, EProf. Not since Nixon has the Constitution needed such a work out. I think it’s up to the job.

  7. eProf,

    Good work in your post this morning. As coincidence would have it, I had Lord Moran’s 2nd bio of Churchill, covering the period 45-60 at my elbow at the breakfast table this morning. I opened to a section where Winston was in his dotage; his level of distrust parallels that of Trump, but not in a self-serving way.

    Your take on MacArthur is different than mine. From the time he used his troops to break-up the veterans’ camp in DC, to his adopting of a field marshal’s hat in the Philippines. and on to his loss of the battle of wills with Truman on Wake Island, MacArthur, in my eyes, proved himself to be a despicable human being. Far from vanishing to the family farm after his speech before Congress, he and his retinue occupied most of a floor in the Waldorf Astoria.

    Thank goodness we have a vibrant press who will fight for their freedom to publish to their last breath. And people such as those in our group who will devour their writings and spread their thoughts far and wide.

    Finally, I have a personal arsenal as is my 2nd Amendment right/duty. This is quite appropriate for a retired member of our armed forces who is still being paid by our government, albeit for reduced services, but still subject to recall.

  8. I’m pretty sure that Mensch tweet making the rounds is either fake and/or way premature.  Her profile reads:  “Unhinged British Witch A textbook Succubus Russian Insider and Conservative Optimist”.  She also crossposts from Patribotics which is a truly strange conspiracy style blog.

     

  9. a good day for the Constitution:

    (NYT): Strict North Carolina Voter ID Law Thwarted After Supreme Court Rejects Case

    SCOTUS left standing an appeals court ruling that found the law to be an effort to “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.”

  10. CNN says SCOTUS won’t hear the appeal of the ruling that struck down NC’s voter ID law.  Good

    (Ya beat me to it, Poobah)

     

  11. Greetings from the desert. Thx for the kind words on today’s post. I realized when I wrote it last Thursday that I wasn’t making an exhaustive list of preconditions for dictatorship that would stand up to political science literature review but just some observations of the new president’s recent behavior. Robert Reich’s article is very complete; James Clapper’s interview shows how many of the nation’s leaders feel about now; and, Howard Fineman’s HuffPost article this morning does likewise. My intent was to draw attention to historical and fictional uses of the allegory of curtains and how they can destroy democratic principles and personal initiative, e.g., the strong man and the Wizard behind curtains.

    Flatus, I am no fan of MacArthur. But, he did resist any temptations to throw Truman out of office when Truman’s popularity was done in the dumps and MacArthur was considered a national hero.

    Cracker, good catch.  Jamie, thx for the Reich article.  My bibliography for a real political science paper is growing.  I wonder how many dissertations will be written about this president twenty or so years from now?

     

  12. It’s being reported Pussy Grabber is unhappy with his cabinet and wants to change the face of his administration.

    Who will we be seeing more of now?  The reputations of everyone around him have been pretty much trashed or he has fired them.   Too bad they have all blown their credibility bigly.

  13. eProf….    really great column!

    Yeah…  I’m betting on the Constitution also.  I’m also for the first time in my life thinking about learning how to shoot and then purchasing a firearm.  I can be armed too!

  14. eProf, i actually prefer your column to Reich’s. For a couple of reasons. First, your curtain imagery is creative and powerful. I am a big fan of word pictures to drive a case. Also, you make your points more succintly and your tone is more objective, not argumentative. Which always lends credence.

  15. We’re a nation of vicious idiots ruled by one.  Our President rules by fiat and intimidation, opposition to which is disorganized and impotent, and it’s real damn difficult to have an honest conversation with ANYONE- everyone is so full of shit one might as well not bother.  The Constitution means nothing to the ruling party- it’s their world, and you’re just living in it, as long as you’re smart enough to keep your mouth shut.  Wanna do something about it?  Start educating the emotionally and intellectually stunted Millenial generation that’s been brainwashed by an entire young lifetime of excessive electronic media consumption.  I talk to such young adults- good fucking luck in that endeavor.

  16. “I’m also for the first time in my life thinking about learning how to shoot and then purchasing a firearm”

    Kind-hearted liberals now considering the acquisition of murder-machines.  Who will be shot, maimed, or killed by such devices?  Fellow Americans!  These trends don’t portend a satisfying resolution.

  17. Oh- until you admit that the current political power-structure is built on a foundation of anti-black racism, you’re not only ignoring the problem, you’re part of it.  That is all.

  18. Bink…  don’t sweat it.  I’m really not going to buy a gun.  Every time I contemplate getting a BB gun to shoot at the squirrels trying to get on my bird feeders…  I just sigh and throw some bird food on the ground for them to eat…  they are God’s creatures too.

  19. “Wanna do something about it? Start educating the emotionally and intellectually stunted Millennial generation that’s been brainwashed by an entire young lifetime of excessive electronic media consumption.”

    Bink:

    Game. Set. Match.

    Nailed it.

    Now … how do we do this, because apparently they have all the answers & know far better than us ….

  20. It’s being reported in the Washington Post that the popular vote loser provided the Russians with code word classified information in that meeting last week. I got it from Talking Points Memo. Evidently he has burned a highly rated source.

  21. “It’s being reported in the Washington Post that the popular vote loser provided the Russians with code word classified information”

     

    -just read that.   The president, the entire republican party, and every single person who voted for them are treasonous scum and should move to Russia where the society they want is already in place.  Take the blue-dog Dems and Berniecrats with you, please.

  22. Dumb-shit Trump thought he could share that code-word information supplied by another government because he is president. Wrong; it doesn’t work that way. The originator owns it and shares with the understanding that we will follow their rules in its handling. We failed them. Human intelligence sources may die because of it. Governments may crash because of it. I hope that one of them is Trump’s; that is why we have a 25th Amendment.

  23. Patrick Leahy on Trump’s treason with Russians: “We’re into an Alice in Wonderland situation here.” (CNN)

  24. Well. . .

    It looks like an interesting day.  MS actually updated XP!  Right now there is a heightened feeling for nasties, rhymes like pasties, but not pasties. 

    Frist is that it seems the supreme commander, extraordinary, s* never stinks, and most important asshole in all of history, has passed some of the most highly important data to his handlers.  Not good.  But, it adds another charge to the impeachment.

    Second, his majesty is golfing, once again.

  25. pardon my pet peeve on this, but let’s link the original sources on big stories like this, not those who repeat the stories to build their own traffic

  26. An excellent actor Powers Booth has passed away.  All sympathies to his family & friends.  That being said, I do wish celebrities younger than me would stop dying for “natural causes”.

     

  27. If you missed Masterpiece Theater last night with “Charles the III”, you might want to correct the oversight.  Actually an important subject on freedom of the press.

     

  28. John Fugelsang being pertinent (and funny) again

    Yes, Trump revealed highly classified info to the Russian foreign minister; but in fairness it wasn’t via email & he doesn’t have a vagina.

  29. so they sent out McMasters to be the new face but the new face lies like the old face

  30. Flatus

    That usually means things like suicide, drug overdoses, auto accidents etc.  Lately there are a whole host of famous types falling asleep and not bothering to wake up.

     

  31. Well…. I lied if I implied that I was partial to it, but MORE partial, yes; but no, it’s Soprano Sax………allow me to illustrate:

    What do you call two soprano saxophones playing in unison?

    A minor second.

  32. Very nicely done, Eprof.  The second point is my biggest complaint about trump.

    Second, surround himself with family, generals, and millionaires and billionaires who share his concept of a corporate state.

    I felt wildly nauseated when nikki haley called him the CEO of the country?  What country? The WH is like a russian branch office.

  33. The leaker in the WH is Trump? Jeezaloo.

    Is this enough to frog-walk him outta there?

  34. I know this guy who actually played some jazz with the son of Mussolini…….we had a gig together for a year and a half, due to circumstances well beyond imaginable by the most fully developed imaginations, 94 95…Tuxedo band, dance music……He couldn’t afford to buy a clarinet but somehow he had a soprano sax in addition to his regular most beautiful Tenor Sax, I think it was……..had a lot of throat….anyway, he had this thing  and was prone to experiment with it…..

    I’ve got tapes.

  35. Serious question: Who will act to remove the President first? If the Democrats see a concerted effort by the Republicans, will they offer aid & cooperation in the ultimate act of bipartisanship? Any guesses who will end up the hero (so to speak) here? McCain? Graham?

    Jamie, I admired Powers Booth greatly. Ironically one of his roles was as Alexander Haig in the movie Nixon.

  36. They all know he’s a dangerous charleton, they’re just playing out their hands.

  37. Mr Crawford, any of your high placed sources have knowledge of a new Republican Administration Staff ready to move in & get the ball rolling on day one? Sorta gotta have to believe there’s one hiding out somewhere in the DC area.

  38. I just emailed by 2 bible thumping right wing  Texas republican senators asking them to start an investigation on this asshole.  Make sure you do the same?

  39. Sorry, kids…… We, the people, can jump up and down and holler from now till when the pigs come back……

    It’s going to take a few well-placed men and women who will not stand for this shit.

  40. Pussy Grabber just can’t help himself – he had to brag despite the consequences he’s everyone’s drunk uncle without the excuse of alcohol

  41. I’ll be darned, I remembered that as a Baptist song, and it w’ant that at all…….a danged sailer song……

    but them hymnerals………

    They had 3 songs which stopped me in my tracks………A Mighty Fortress, by the one the only what’s his name; For Those in Peril on the Sea; and that Oh Holy Night number……

  42. I mean, I never –not even once, even at the christmas she-bang and standing next to HER…..Not once did I ever fall for that kings of orien-tar, how great thou aaaaaart bullshit.

  43. Pussy Grabber already said the Russians tricked him into the photos in the Oval Office

    Maybe they  hypnotized him into blabbing

  44. And I didn’t see much of those calf-licks early on, but they got about one of the most purely pretty songs ever wrote………Schubert……and by the incomparable Ms Callas…….

  45. On Sunday I figured that trump can’t last until xmas. Now, I think trump will be gone by Labor Day. Each passing week unveils a new and worse trumpish cockup. One can only wonder if, for the good of our nation, he will finally see the light, go to the top of trump tower with a copy of the fountainhead in his pocket, and pull a howard roark.

    Well anyway, I wonder.

  46. The Mexicans knew the way to handle a foreign-backed, weirdly coifed despot-wannabe. Following the deadbeat’s plan, we could have Mexico build us a wall. Then they could put the hairy cheeto up against it.

    Sic Semper Pussy Grabberis !

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