U.S. Listed As a ‘Backsliding’ Democracy for First Time in Report by European Think Tank

Washington Post via MSN: “The United States for the first time was added to a list of “backsliding democracies” in a report released Monday by the Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. “’The United States, the bastion of global democracy, fell victim to authoritarian tendencies itself, and was knocked down a significant number of steps on the democratic scale,’ the International IDEA’s Global State of Democracy 2021 report said.”

German News Channel DW: ‘Why Are Autocrats Popular – Assault on Democracy’

DW: “A wave of authoritarianism is churning from East to West and assailing civil society. Autocrats are threatening democracy, while their regimes portray NGOs as Trojan horses for foreign interference.

“The resurgence of authoritarianism is impacting countries across the globe, no matter what their form of government. “In the Crosshairs of the State” documents this worldwide phenomenon using the examples of India, Russia, and Poland and shows how civil society is being repressed, and what impact this can have on the future of democracy. When populists and autocrats wield power, the first victims are civil liberties. However, regimes aren’t stopping at attacking and imprisoning activists – they go as far as criminalizing entire groups and freezing their funds. These governments are increasingly targeting NGOs and other players in civil society that demand democracy and assert human rights or protest about social grievances and environmental destruction. The methods of choice are defamation campaigns, repression, and criminalization. In the past few years, certain countries have passed over 60 laws specifically aiming to systematically impede NGOs’ work or completely put an end to it. The root causes are wide-ranging, but it all boils down to rulers’ desire to remain in power and protect their economic interests. Beyond authoritarian wielders of power, democratic governments are increasingly clamping down on independent and critical players, too. Are we experiencing a full-on global assault on civil society? What happens when the driving force of democracy – the people themselves – is silenced? How can we counter this development? Film director Sebastian Weis investigates these question, relating the situations in India, Russia, and Poland chapter by chapter, with each country representing an overarching issue. India faces environmental destruction, Russians are seeing human rights be eroded, and in Poland women’s rights are under attack.”

The ‘Liberal Media’ Is at Again

Rebbeca Solnit at The Guardian: “Pretty much anything that happens to the Democrats is a sign that they’re weak and losing and should be worried, according to the storylines into which mainstream media tends to stuff news. Pretty much nothing, including losing, seems to signify that the Republicans are losers. In so habitually and apparently unconsciously fitting a wide array of new and varied facts into familiar old frameworks, the media shape the political landscape at least as much as they report on it.

“It’s in the language. The New York Times editorial board thunders that ‘Democrats deny political reality at their own peril’ and then insists that this election in which a moderate lost is a sign that the party needs to get more moderate. Bloomberg News found a way to make a victory sound like defeat: ‘Phil Murphy clung on to win a second term as New Jersey’s governor, surviving by a narrow margin.’ It was about the same margin by which a Republican won the Virginia governorship, but the language around that was apocalyptic (though Virginia usually elects a governor who’s in the other party than the president, and New Jersey – which not long ago gave Republican Chris Christie two terms – re-elected its first Democratic governor in decades on Tuesday)…

“As for this week’s election, it swept in a lot of progressive mayors of color. The most prominent was Michelle Wu, who won the Boston mayor’s seat as the first woman and first person of color. Elaine O’Neal will become Durham, North Carolina’s, first Black woman mayor, and Abdullah Hammoud will become Dearborn’s first Muslim and Arab American mayor. Aftab Pureval will become Cincinnati’s first Asian American mayor. Pittsburgh elected its first Black mayor, and so did Kansas City, Kansas. Cleveland’s new mayor is also Black. New York City elected its second Black Democratic mayor, and Shahana Hanif became the first Muslim woman elected to the city council (incidentally, New York City and Virginia have about the same population). In Seattle, a moderate defeated a progressive, which you could also phrase as a Black and Asian American man defeated a Latina. A lot of queer and trans people won elections, or in the case of Virginia’s Danica Roem, the first out trans person to win a seat in a state legislature, won reelection.”

Gerson: ‘The GOP Is United by a Common Willingness to Believe Whatever Antidemocratic Rot Comes from the Mouth of an Ambitious, Reckless liar’

Michael Gerson, conservative columnist for the Washington Post: “Only one party has based the main part of its appeal on a transparent lie. To be a loyal Republican in 2021 is to believe that a national conspiracy of big-city mayors, Republican state officials, companies that produce voting machines and perhaps China, or maybe Venezuela, stole the 2020 presidential election. The total absence of evidence indicates to conspiracy theorists (as usual) that the plot was particularly fiendish. Previous iterations of the GOP tried to unite on the basis of ideology and public purpose. The current GOP is united by a common willingness to believe whatever antidemocratic rot comes from the mouth of an ambitious, reckless liar.”

“Only one side of our divide employs violent intimidation as a political tool. Since leaving the presidency, Trump has endorsed the view that the events of Jan. 6 were an expression of rowdy patriotism and embraced the cruel slander that the Capitol Police were engaged in oppression.”

“Only one political movement has made a point of denying the existence and legacy of racism, assuring White people that they are equally subject to prejudice, and defending the Confederacy and its monuments as ‘our heritage.’ This is perhaps the ultimate in absurd bothsidesism.”

Saletan: ‘A Party That Has Become a Platform for Autocrats – and Is Ready for Its Next Master’

William Saletan at Slate.com: “Together, these statements from 10 of the most powerful Republicans in Congress—five in the Senate, five in the House—show that authoritarian corruption has permeated the party’s power structure. No Republican in leadership is willing to challenge the former president’s lies about the election. Every Republican in leadership is determined to bury the investigation of his coup attempt.

“The story of the Trump presidency and its aftermath is no longer the story of one failed tyrant. It’s the story of a party that has become a platform for autocrats—and is ready for its next master.”

As we noted in July, “The simple definition of fascism is that it’s a structure (like a political party) or method (like overturning a free election) for attaining totalitarian power. It’s time to accept that this is what we’re up against.”

MeidasTouch.com: Trump Cult Kills

HuffPost: “The video highlights Trump’s catastrophic mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic, noting how some GOP governors continue to ‘recklessly’ ignore facts and sacrifice lives ‘in the callous pursuit of votes.’

“’These aren’t leaders of a political movement, they’re leaders of a cult. And they kill,’ the PAC, founded by attorney Ben Meiselas and his two brothers in 2020, captioned the clip with the hashtag #TrumpCultKills.”

California GOP Leader: ‘I Honestly Don’t Know’ If the Party Can Even Win a Seat in the Legislature

“We’re not going to win a gubernatorial seat overnight. Can we win things that are within reach, which is an assembly seat. … I honestly don’t know. I don’t think so, but I want to be wrong.”

Ray Perz, vice chairman of the Yolo Count GOP, assessing the state of affairs for his party in California at the CAL GOP Convention on Sept. 24, 2021.

The US Reichstag Fire Has Been Set

Common Dreams Op-Ed: “It’s time to be blunt. The right-wing political alliance anchored by the Republican party and Trumpism coheres around a single concrete objective—taking absolute power in the U.S. as soon and as definitively as possible. And they’re more than ready, even seemingly want, to destroy the social fabric of the country to do so.

“They smell blood in the water. They have a strong majority on the Supreme Court and a majority in the federal judiciary overall. Republicans imagine that with the aid of the aggressive campaign of disfranchisement they’re pursuing in forty-three states, they’ll take control of one or both houses of Congress next year. Mitch McConnell devised the playbook against the Obama presidency; with a Democrat in the White House, the GOP’s sole legislative agenda is obstruction, to make certain that no legislation passes, that no appointments are confirmed, to the extent of often enough forcing government shutdowns. Corporate media, punditry, and academics have obscured this Republican strategy with names implying a tit-for-tat perspective, like “partisan gridlock,” which, they lament, is causing Americans to lose patience with and trust in government.”

American Fascist Groups Cheer Taliban Defeat of US-Trained Afghan Military

CNN: “As the United States-backed government in Afghanistan fell to the Taliban and US troops raced to leave the country, White supremacist and anti-government extremists have expressed admiration for what the Taliban accomplished, a worrying development for US officials who have been grappling with the threat of domestic violent extremism.

“That praise has also been coupled with a wave of anti-refugee sentiment from far-right groups, as the US and others rushed to evacuate tens of thousands of people from Afghanistan by the Biden administration’s August 31 deadline.

“Several concerning trends have emerged in recent weeks on online platforms commonly used by anti-government, White supremacist and other domestic violent extremist groups, including ‘framing the activities of the Taliban as a success,’ and a model for those who believe in the need for a civil war in the US, the head of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis, John Cohen, said on a call Friday with local and state law enforcement, obtained by CNN.”

DeSantis Government Changed Covid Data to Create an ‘Artificial Decline’ in Florida Death Rate

Miami Herald: “As cases ballooned in August … the Florida Department of Health changed the way it reported death data to the CDC, giving the appearance of a pandemic in decline, an analysis of Florida data by the Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald found.

On Monday, Florida death data would have shown an average of 262 daily deaths reported to the CDC over the previous week had the health department used its former reporting system, the Herald analysis showed. Instead, the Monday update from Florida showed just 46 ‘new deaths’ per day over the previous seven days.”