Sunday, February 26, 2017

We've Seen This Before

The New York Review of Books reminds about the sequence of power grabs following the Reichstag fire in 1933.

"On February 27, 1933 the German Parliament building burned, Adolf Hitler rejoiced, and the Nazi era began. Hitler, who had just been named head of a government that was legally formed after the democratic elections of the previous November, seized the opportunity to change the system. “There will be no mercy now,” he exulted. “Anyone standing in our way will be cut down.”

"The next day, at Hitler’s advice and urging, the German president issued a decree “for the protection of the people and the state.” It deprived all German citizens of basic rights such as freedom of expression and assembly and made them subject to “preventative detention” by the police. A week later, the Nazi party, having claimed that the fire was then beginning of a major terror campaign by the Left, won a decisive victory in parliamentary elections. Nazi paramilitaries and the police then began to arrest political enemies and place them in concentration camps. Shortly thereafter, the new parliament passed an “enabling act” that allowed Hitler to rule by decree."

SLATE discusses the strategy by the Trump/Bannon regime to strip our democracy of powers and vest all power in the White House.

"The rage felt by the president’s critics is real, and understandable, but it also plays into Trump’s broader agenda. His chief strategist Steve Bannon outlined that strategy this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference, describing it as nothing less than the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” Bannon’s comments this week suggest a darker, more nefarious purpose to the nascent Trump administration’s dysfunction. It may be the case that the Trump team is deliberately failing to staff, manage, and provide resources for federal agencies so as to sabotage and slowly dismantle them. To make matters worse, the Trump team might be leveraging the controversies regarding its disastrous national security moves to obscure and conceal that slow and steady demolition of the bureaucracy.”

The Guardian discusses the Cheney power grab that followed 9/11.

"When he took office as vice-president, Cheney's career in government had been that of the dutiful fixer. He had played by the rules for decades, from the Ford administration on, carrying out others' orders in the bureaucratic shadows, making compromises he must have found objectionable. After 9/11, he finally had his opportunity to put his own stamp on things.

"The new way of doing business was the perfect expression of the "do anything" rationale: the concentration of unheard-of powers in the presidency (and vice-presidency) and the application of raw force against all enemies, real and perceived – to intimidate, to obtain information and to punish."

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