BLOGS

Coup D'état...

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Diversity, Existentialism, Human Rights, Politics

Blog break: 26 Nov - 7 Dec (Thanksgiving, finals, projects). There will be a break around Christmas into the new year. And after the new year:

KING HENRY V:

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;

Or close the wall up with our English dead.

In peace there's nothing so becomes a man

As modest stillness and humility:

But when the blast of war blows in our ears,

Then imitate the action of the tiger;

Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,

Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage;...

'Cry God for Harry, England, and Saint George!' speech of Shakespeare's Henry V, Act III, 1598.

Because apathy gives power to a demagogue. As he is wounded, and apparently moping, he will try something, ANYTHING to constantly change the subject during a creeping authoritarianism; (as Bill Maher said) a slow-moving coup.

Late night comedians are making great hay of this moment. It allows us to diffuse our angst in humor. Charlie Chaplin did so in 1940 with his self-produced speaking film, "The Great Dictator," Adolf Hitler personified in his cinematic character (and, Chaplin's obvious opinion of him) Adenoid Hynkel. That levity did not stop the coming atrocities, or the war.

Coup D'état (n) : a sudden decisive exercise of force in politics
especially : the violent overthrow or alteration of an existing government by a small group Merriam-Webster

*****

The Trump administration is breaking with 75 years of precedent by attempting to interfere in how science is practiced by the U.S. government, according to three experts who issued a dire warning to their profession in the journal Science on Thursday. The administration is empowering political staff to meddle with the scientific process by pushing through reforms disguised to look as though they boost transparency and integrity, the experts say.

“It is tempting to conclude that recent proposals for reforming regulatory science are similar to what has occurred in the past,” they write. “They are not.”

“People who are not scientists are telling us how scientific synthesis and analysis should be done,” says Wendy Wagner, a professor of law at the University of Texas at Austin and one of the authors of the paper. “We’re not even getting scientists’ best work. We’re tying scientists’ hands behind their back and not even giving them a shot.”

“It’s a very dangerous place for science and public policy,” she told me. “Politics has gone to a place that should be off limits, and no one is noticing and calling them on that fact.”

Why are all these reforms so unprecedented? According to the authors, each of them places some stage of the scientific process under political direction. For decades, they write, the EPA and other federal agencies have followed a “two-step process” when consulting science: First, scientific staff have reviewed existing research and summarized and synthesized it for political staff. Then that political staff “can accept, ignore, rerun some of the analysis, or reinterpret the results.”

This process essentially erects an apolitical wall between the agency’s scientific staff and its policy makers, and it has been endorsed by the U.S. National Academy of Science, the authors say. But every single one of the proposed EPA reforms breaches that wall, allowing political staff to dictate the terms of scientific analysis and synthesis to scientists.

Trump’s Interference With Science Is Unprecedented, Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic

*****

In his piece on Psychology Today, Eric R. Maisel, Ph.D. lists "What You Can Expect From an Authoritarian." The list is terrifying, but number 7: "Truth Held As Enemy - Authoritarians have little regard for the truth. If your agenda is to punish others because you are filled with hatred and anger, the truth of any particular matter is a mere inconvenience." This sums up the assault on legitimate news media and science. There is method to this madness.

*****

1. Systematic efforts to intimidate the media.

2. Building an official pro-Trump media network.

3. Politicizing the civil service, military, National Guard, or the domestic security agencies.

4. Using government surveillance against domestic political opponents.

5. Using state power to reward corporate backers and punish opponents.

6. Stacking the Supreme Court.

7. Enforcing the law for only one side.

8. Really rigging the system.

9. Fearmongering.

10. Demonizing the opposition.

Top 10 Signs of Creeping Authoritarianism, Revisited, Stephen M. Walt, Foreign Policy Magazine

Related link

#P4TC: The Mendacity of Dopes...August 24, 2018

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