What Could Happen Next If We’re Not Careful

A scholar who’s studied authoritarians around the world discusses this week’s insurrection and how it might be the beginning, not the end. An interview from Huff Post:

HP:  Ruth Ben-Ghiat is a history professor at New York University and author of the book “Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present.”  She [thinks we] could be headed for even more violence and political unrest. 

This historic insurrection was the culmination of five years of fascist rhetoric from the president. You’ve been at the forefront of identifying and documenting how Txxxx and the “Make America Great Again” movement represent a real authoritarian or fascist insurgency. Were you still surprised to see what you saw Wednesday?

RBG:  No, I wasn’t surprised. I was extremely calm when it happened because I just kind of expected it. Of course, it was shocking to then see the lawmakers cowering, and then I became very angry at the arrogance and lawlessness, and the fact that the police didn’t do anything and that these guys went out for drinks later, these insurgents. But no, this has been set up since Txxxx’s presidential campaign, when he actively cultivated all of these various militias and far-right forces, so it’s that cultivation entwined with this victim cult.

Because this doesn’t work if you don’t have the cult leader. And the leader is the victim. So the leader is the protector, he’s going to save the nation, blah, blah, blah, but once they bonded to him, it’s very fascistic. It’s very fascist. If he’s in trouble, their duty is to save him. And so Txxxx has played them like a violin all these years, doing exactly what he needs to do to string them along and keep them loyal. Give them just enough crumbs of affirmation.

And then he called on them because the other things that he was trying to do didn’t work.

HP:  You’ve described this kind of leader-follower relationship like a fascistic relationship. Typically how is that spell broken? How do people get out of that?

RBG:  Unfortunately, they don’t get out of that. What I mean is — the other cases are, in some ways, not analogous, because when you have a real dictatorship, there’s no opposing voices. In fact, in a way, it makes our case all the more scary and remarkable because he didn’t have time to ruin democracy.

You know, we had a very robust opposition press. But yet he still managed to have this huge mass of fanatically loyal people. And so once they bond with a leader, historically the only thing that gets people out of it is direct experience with disaster. So it’s very Interesting that the coronavirus didn’t cause more people to turn away from Txxxx. And again, he’s very skillful at propaganda, so he knew how to present it all so that . . . he wasn’t touched — the mismanagement wasn’t blamed on him. 

But some people did, some people woke up and made videos, saying, “I used to believe Txxxx and my wife died,” so that’s the kind of thing that needs to happen at a mass level. And it’s been horrifying that it hasn’t happened. Indeed he got more votes. 

And in Italy and in Germany — and again, you had many, many years of total dictatorship — but the only thing that ruined or started to dissipate the personality cult was when the Allies bombed Italy and Germany and regular people had immense hardship. And in that sense, what’s parallel is the shock of people seeing the Capitol breached, and lawmakers having to run for cover. That shocked some Txxxxians into resigning, like it woke some people up.

HP:  I think what I’m seeing some people express concern about is that, although it made certain people decide to leave MAGA world or whatever, or at least some people in the White House, the storming of the Capitol could also end up being a kind of a recruiting event.

RBG:  Yep. I think . . . you could easily see January 6 as the start of something. It’s the start of a new phase…. It’s the start of a new phase of subversive extremist activity. It could be.

HP:  Yeah, because it kind of feels like — like they breached the Capitol, they got in, the Capitol’s vulnerable. 

RBG:  Then they got to go out for beer. They didn’t end up in prison. [although more are now being arrested]

HP:  They just went out for beer.

RBG:  So that’s what actually made me not sleep last night. I’m so angry about that…. It’s just everything wrong for our future. 

HP:  We are entering these last couple of weeks of the Txxxx presidency . . . but it feels like Jan. 6 was a significant point of a new, subversive extremism movement in this country. Is there an analogous situation in history of authoritarian figures not being in power but still holding so much power? 

RBG:  Again, it’s not an exact analogy, but [Chilean dictator] Augusto Pinochet was voted out and he’d been in for 17 years and had a real dictatorship . . .  normally these guys, they either go into exile or they die or they’re killed. So one of the only ones was Pinochet, who was voted out. It’s maybe the only one I know about. 

HP:  We’re seeing some people finally starting to distance themselves from Txxxx and his efforts to throw out the results of the election. So we have [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell give this speech on the floor of the Senate, and now his wife, the secretary of transportation, has submitted her resignation. What’s your reaction to that?

RBG:  Partly “OK, great. Better now than never,” but partly I’m rather cynical about it, because this fits the history of such things where these people, once they make their crony deals with the leader, they back them no matter what they do, and the only thing that makes them act is if they feel their personal safety is threatened. Literally them. It’s so interesting to me that only when the Capitol was breached and they actually had to go into lockdown against an armed insurgency did they decide that there was some danger enough to merit distancing from Txxxx. . . .  It’s just their self-interest. 

However, they could have not [distanced themselves] . . . .

HP:  What do you see as the best path forward, for both the immediate future dealing with Txxxx over the next couple of weeks and looking forward at the MAGAverse and how to deal with that over the next few years? 

RBG:  I think every day he stays there it’s like increasing danger. And it can get more dangerous . . . because he’s going to be more inclined to do desperate things, to sell intelligence, to sell out people, to take revenge ― just [ramping] up everything he’s already been doing. And so he shouldn’t be allowed to stay there. . . .

He’s the far-right wacko in chief, and he should be de-platformed for sure. He’s the biggest danger to society we have. So going forward, I mean, unfortunately, I foresee a lot of turbulence, an attempt to make America as dangerous as possible and blame it on “antifa” and other groups; and a lot of extremism and domestic terrorism, all to create the need for “law and order” government so that Republicans can get back into power. I mean, I hope that doesn’t happen, but I could see that happening.

HP:  And that essentially is what you think is the motivation behind this campaign to blame everything on antifa? 

RBG:  A day before this happened, [the Txxxx administration] issued that weird proclamation about antifa being terrorists. And it’s like, what? Interesting timing. But luckily, the attempt to blame antifa hasn’t really stuck. I mean, I know it’s being circulated on right-wing sites, but the visuals are so compelling it’s hard to blame it on the left. [Note: More on this in a future post]

HP:  What do you think happens on Inauguration Day?

RB:  He’ll have some kind of rally. It will be like the victimhood rally, depending on what happens to him, but if he’s just allowed to stay there, he’ll have some kind of rally, and that will help to kick off this next phase that we’re talking about. And it’ll be like super-dangerous grievance stuff, because now that he’s out of power, he’s going to be more unleashed and unhinged than ever. I hope people are realizing that. You know, I feel bad because people want to relax, because Biden’s coming in and we didn’t even get to enjoy the victories in Georgia, and instead they have to prepare themselves, to be ever more vigilant.

HP:  That feels like an argument for arresting him.

RBG:  Yeah. He has to be removed. For the good of everyone.

Unquote.

I don’t know if she’s being pessimistic or realistic. The history of other countries suggests “realistic”. Twitter, Facebook and Google are finally demonstrating some responsibility. Arrests are slowly being made. What happens depends on how the rest of us, including people in the government and media, deal with this right-wing cancer that’s been unleashed. 

More Confirmation of Something We Already Knew

From The Guardian:

The Republican party has become dramatically more [authoritarian] in the past two decades and now more closely resembles ruling parties in autocratic societies than its former centre-right equivalents in Europe, according to a new international study.

In a significant shift since 2000, the [Grim Old Party] has taken to demonising and encouraging violence against its opponents, adopting attitudes and tactics comparable to ruling nationalist parties in Hungary, India, Poland and Turkey.

The shift has both led to and been driven by the rise of Dxxxx Txxxx.

By contrast, the Democratic party has changed little in its attachment to democratic norms, and in that regard has remained similar to centre-right and centre-left parties in western Europe. Their principal difference is the approach to the economy.

The new study, the largest ever of its kind, was carried out by the V-Dem Institute at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, using newly developed methods to measure and quantify the health of the world’s democracies at a time when authoritarianism is on the rise.

Anna Lührmann, V-Dem’s deputy director, said the Republican transformation had been “certainly the most dramatic shift in an established democracy”.

V-Dem’s “illiberalism index” gauges the extent of commitment to democratic norms a party exhibits before an election. The institute calls it “the first comparative measure of the ‘litmus test’ for the loyalty to democracy”.

The study, published on Monday, shows the [Republican Party] has followed a similar trajectory to Fidesz, which under Viktor Orbán has evolved from a liberal youth movement into an authoritarian party that has made Hungary the first non-democracy in the European Union.

India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been transformed in similar ways under Narendra Modi, as has the Justice and Development party (AKP) in Turkey under Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Law and Justice party in Poland. Txxxx and his administration have sought to cultivate close ties to the leadership of those countries.

The Republican party has remained relatively committed to pluralism, but it has gone a long way towards abandoning other democratic norms, becoming much more prone to disrespecting opponents and encouraging violence.

“We’ve seen similar shifts in parties in other countries where the quality of democracy has declined in recent years, where democracy has been eroding,” Lührmann said. “It fits very well into the pattern of parties that erode democracy once they’re in power.”

“The demonisation of opponents – that’s clearly a factor that has shifted a lot when it comes to the Republican party, as well as the encouragement of political violence,” she said, adding that the change has been driven in large part from the top. . . .

In western Europe, centre-right parties like Germany’s Christian Democratic Union and Spain’s People’s party have stuck to their commitment to democratic norms. By the same measure, Britain’s Conservative party has moved some way along the liberal-illiberal spectrum, but not to the Republicans’ extremes.

“The data shows that the Republican party in 2018 was far more illiberal than almost all other governing parties in democracies,” the V-Dem study found. “Only very few governing parties in democracies in this millennium (15%) were considered more illiberal than the Republican party in the US.”

The institute has found the decline in democratic traits has accelerated around the world and that for the first time this century, autocracies are in the majority – holding power in 92 countries, home to 54% of the global population.

According to V-Dem’s benchmark, almost 35% of the world’s population, 2.6 billion people, live in nations that are becoming more autocratic.

Unquote.

The Republican Party is also an outlier among major political parties by virtue of its repellent denial of global warming.

Eight days.

As Different Kinds of Capitalism Take Over the World

The New York Review of Books comes in the mail every few weeks. I’ve never been tempted to switch to a digital subscription, partly out of habit, but also because the version on paper is good for reading and also good for looking at. For one thing, I’d miss the book advertisements, which don’t appear online. A yearly subscription to the paper edition is kind of expensive, but we still have libraries and you can still buy a single copy (although those are kind of expensive too). What I didn’t know until just now is that in addition to a regular digital subscription, you can get a Kindle subscription for the low, low price of $3.49 a month (which translates to $2.09 per issue). The world’s richest capitalist is a money grubber (even now!) who treats some of his employees very badly, but he’s made life easier at times.

I’d provide a link to an excellent article in the September 24th NYRB but, except for the latest edition, all of their articles are behind a paywall. The article is “Can We Fix Capitalism?” by Robert Kuttner. Here’s a bit of the article, which is worth reading all the way through:

For enthusiasts of capitalism, democracy and the market are said to be handmaidens. Both depend on the rule of law. Both express aspects of liberty, prizing opportunity and mobility. During the era of classical liberalism, which began in the late eighteenth century, free commerce and political freedom advanced in tandem. Monarchies gave way to republican rule; open markets replaced royal monopolies and inherited privileges. For about a century the franchise gradually expanded, and markets became the primary mode of commerce. The brand of democratic capitalism that emerged in the West after World War II included not just those earlier hallmarks but such liberal values as tolerance, compromise, and enlarged civic participation, as well as regulatory and social welfare policies to buffer the less savory tendencies of markets. Modern capitalism reflected a grand social bargain.

When communism collapsed in 1989, the fall of the Berlin Wall was heralded as ushering in a golden age in which liberal capitalism would be triumphant. Needless to say, things haven’t worked out quite as expected. The social compromises of the postwar welfare state have given way to more primitive forms of capitalism that in turn invite angry reactions by the citizenry. Demagogues have channeled this anger. Today, some form of capitalism is ascendant nearly everywhere. But liberal democracy is in big trouble.

Instead of creating a new golden age, corrupted capitalism has produced alliances between autocrats and oligarchs, epitomized by the regimes of Putin and Txxxx, who both reinforce societies that were already becoming less liberal and more unequal. This is the pattern not just in countries with weak or nonexistent democratic traditions, notably Russia and China, but in the very heartland of liberal democracy, the United States of America. Contrary to standard assumptions about liberalism, autocratic capitalism also coexists and interacts with enlarged global trade, making it harder to defend living standards in democratic nations that once protected their workers and citizens by regulating markets.

In a cycle of reactivity, ordinary people turn not to social democracy—now at its weakest point since World War II—but to the vicarious and counterfeit satisfactions of extreme nationalism. That in turn permits autocrats to pose as populist champions of a mystical People, diverting attention from the economy’s concentrated wealth and rigged rules. This unexpected twist in the fraught relationship between democracy and capitalism is the signal event in the political economy of our age.

In Capitalism, Alone, the economist Branko Milanovic tries to make sense of what has occurred and what the future holds. . . . Milanovic chronicles the rise of authoritarian capitalism, both in nations that once epitomized liberal capitalism such as the US and in countries like China, which are partly capitalist but show no signs of turning liberal. Until recently, as the China scholar James Mann has observed, the widespread hope was that as China’s economy became more capitalistic, the country would become “more like us.” The reality is that we are becoming more like China. . . . 

Milanovic’s first section, on liberal capitalism, offers a smart assessment of how it once worked and why it is now under siege. In the heyday of managed, meritocratic capitalism, societies relied on several mechanisms to equalize income and opportunity. For Milanovic, “strong trade unions, mass education, high taxes, and large government transfers” were essential components. All of these have lost traction as capital has gained more power relative to labor, and globalization has spawned competition to cut taxes, slash wages, and reduce regulation. . . . 

Liberal capitalism, Milanovic concludes, is “reneging on some crucial aspects of [its] implicit value system” via “the creation of a self-perpetuating upper class.” That trend in turn threatens liberal capitalism’s own survival, and makes it less appealing as a model for the rest of the world. . . . 

While Chinese political capitalism is an economic triumph, Russia’s is not. Post-Soviet Russia is basically a petro-state. Its economy has largely failed to generate consumer export industries, the mainstay of China’s success. Vladimir Putin has an understanding with the oligarchs; they can pursue corrupt enterprises as long as they throw some graft his way and don’t make trouble for the regime. His net worth is said to be around $200 billion. In a taxonomy of capitalisms, it would have been interesting to have Milanovic’s insights on why the Russian brand of autocratic capitalism fails while China’s succeeds. . . . 

The most provocative part of the book is the section in which Milanovic addresses a dilemma with no intuitively correct answer: Should we look at the issue of economic inequality as a national or a global question? Most economists and concerned citizens assess it nationally. As Americans, we are troubled that our country has become one of economic extremes. Milanovic insists that the proper lens is global. Income inequality has increased within nearly every nation for the past three decades, substantially driven by globalization. Yet the rise of China, which lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, has rendered the world as a whole more equal.

This cheerful formulation, however, sidesteps the issue of how globalization promotes inequality within nations and thus undermines national democracy. The increased entry of low-wage goods renders high-wage manufacturing labor in wealthy countries uncompetitive. Meanwhile, the greater license for capital in a globalized world promotes deregulation, corruption, the hiding of assets, and exorbitant income for capitalists. The result: greater disparities of income and wealth at both the top and the bottom, and unequal power to make the rules—producing yet more inequality. The consequences for political democracy are grave. As Louis Brandeis was said to have remarked, “We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”

Milanovic tends to dismiss the effect of globalization on wealth concentration and democracy within countries in favor of celebrating the rise of China as a gain for global equality. China’s rising GDP, as he points out, has been responsible for about 95 percent of the global reduction in extreme poverty as defined by the World Bank. Milanovic quotes the egalitarian philosopher John Rawls, who argues that if we didn’t know in advance where we would stand in the income hierarchy, we’d favor an income distribution far more equal than the one we have. Why, Milanovic demands, should that principle be applied nationally and not globally? As Rawlsians, don’t we care about the world’s poor and not just the poor in our own land? It’s a good question.

One persuasive rejoinder has been offered by the Harvard economist Dani Rodrik. Nations, he points out, are where policies are made. If we are going to have a socially tolerable income distribution within the polity, that project must be pursued nationally, since there is no global government and no global citizenship. There is an inevitable tension, Rodrik writes, between the policy sovereignty of democratic nations and the logic of globalization. He is emphatic on what should take priority: “Democracies have the right to protect their social arrangements, and when this right clashes with the requirements of the global economy, it is the latter that should give way.”

Continue reading

The Latest in the Post Office Scandal

We’re in the middle of a pandemic that the president has made incredibly worse. That means unprecedented numbers of voters will mail their ballots this year. Yet the president opposes giving the Postal Service the money it needs, even though he admits that a lack of funds will interfere with ballots being properly delivered.

CNN reports:

The internal watchdog at the United States Postal Service is reviewing controversial policy changes recently imposed under Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, and is also examining DeJoy’s compliance with federal ethics rules, according to a spokeswoman for the USPS inspector general and an aide to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who requested the review.

Lawmakers from both parties and postal union leaders have sounded alarms over disruptive changes instituted by DeJoy this summer, including eliminating overtime and slowing some mail delivery. Democrats claim he is intentionally undermining postal service operations to sabotage mail-in voting in the November election — a charge he denies.

Agapi Doulaveris, a spokeswoman for the USPS watchdog, told CNN in an email, “We have initiated a body of work to address the concerns raised, but cannot comment on the details.”

Last week, Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, and eight other Democratic lawmakers asked the inspector general to launch an inquiry into DeJoy on a number of fronts, including the nationwide policy changes he’s made since taking over in June, as well as whether DeJoy has “met all ethics requirements”. . . .

It’s unclear if the inspector general has launched a full-scale investigation into possible politicization at USPS by DeJoy, a Txxxx ally and Republican donor, or if it’s just reviewing the matter for Congress.

CNN first reported earlier this week that DeJoy still owns at least a $30 million equity stake in his former company — a USPS contractor — and that he recently bought stock options for Amazon, a USPS competitor [and customer]. These holdings likely create a major conflict of interest, ethics experts told CNN, though DeJoy and USPS maintain that he has complied with all federal requirements. . . .

On Thursday, Warren said on Twitter that DeJoy’s “inexcusable” stock options in Amazon should be investigated by the watchdog after CNN published its report detailing the trades included in DeJoy’s financial disclosures.

The relationship between DeJoy and President Dxxxx Txxxx has come under intense scrutiny, given Txxxx’s repeated attacks against mail-in voting and USPS’ key role in delivering ballots.

News of the watchdog review comes one day after Txxxx brazenly admitted that he opposes much-needed USPS funding because he doesn’t want to see it used for mail-in voting this November. The pandemic has led to record-breaking levels of voting-by-mail, but Txxxx has tried to restrict the method because he claims it is rife with fraud and abuse, claims that CNN has fact-checked multiple times and are largely without merit.

Democrats pounced on Txxxx’s comments. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats were pushing to include $25 billion for USPS in the next stimulus bill because that was what was requested by the bipartisan board of governors who run USPS and were appointed by Txxxx.

Further raising questions about the USPS showdown, the White House said Friday that Txxxx and DeJoy met at the White House last week, even though Txxxx said he “didn’t speak to the postmaster general” . . . a few days after their meeting.

A White House spokesman told CNN that their meeting on August 3 was “congratulatory” to celebrate DeJoy’s confirmation by the USPS board of governors, which occurred in early May. . . .

This week, DeJoy acknowledged to USPS employees that recent procedural changes have had “unintended consequences,” but described them as necessary.

“Unfortunately, this transformative initiative has had unintended consequences that impacted our overall service levels,” DeJoy wrote in a memo sent this week and obtained by CNN. . . .

Earlier this week, CNN reported on newly obtained financial documents showing that DeJoy holds a large equity stake in his former company, XPO Logistics, totaling between $30 million and $75 million. XPO is a contractor for USPS and other US government agencies.

USPS officials signed off on DeJoy’s financial filings and told CNN that he is in compliance with federal ethics rules. But several outside experts who spoke to CNN said they were shocked that ethics officials approved this arrangement, which apparently allows DeJoy to keep his XPO holdings. One expert even said, “this is a classic case for investigation by an inspector general” . . .

Raising further alarms, on the same day in June that DeJoy divested large amounts of Amazon shares, he purchased stock options giving him the right to buy new shares of Amazon at a price much lower than their current market price, according to the financial disclosures. . . .

In a tweet on Thursday, Warren blasted DeJoy, saying his decision to buy Amazon stock options was “inexcusable.” She also said the USPS inspector general “must investigate this corruption.”

Unquote.

Let’s see how long it takes for the president to fire the Postal Service’s inspector general.

In other news, the Postal Service sent a letter to 46 states saying “voters could be disenfranchised by delayed mail-in ballots” and is simultaneously “removing mail sorting machines from facilities around the country without any official explanation or reason given”. 

Txxxx’s Success Makes Perfect Sense, Part 2 (the Mob Perspective)

From the foreword to Disloyal, the new book by Txxxx’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen:

. . . Let me say it the way Dxxxx Txxxx would: He wouldn’t mind if I was dead. That was how Txxxx talked. Like a mob boss, using language carefully calibrated to convey his desires and demands, while at the same time employing deliberate indirection to insulate himself and avoid actually ordering a hit on his former personal attorney, confidant, consigliere, and, at least in my heart, adopted son.

Driving south from New York City to Washington, DC on I-95 on the cold, gray winter morning of February 24th, 2019, en route to testify against President Txxxx before both Houses of Congress, I knew he wanted me gone before I could tell the nation what I know about him. . . .

Heading south, I wondered if my prospects for survival were also going in that direction. I was acutely aware of the magnitude of Txxxx’s fury aimed directly at my alleged betrayal. . . . Txxxx’s theory of life, business and politics revolved around threats and the prospect of destruction—financial, electoral, personal, physical—as a weapon. I knew how he worked because I had frequently been the one screaming threats on his behalf as Txxxx’s fixer and designated thug. . . .

For more than a decade, I was Txxxx’s first call every morning and his last call every night. I was in and out of Txxxx’s office on the 26th floor of the Txxxx Tower as many as fifty times a day, tending to his every demand. Our cell phones had the same address books, our contacts so entwined, overlapping and intimate that part of my job was to deal with the endless queries and requests, however large or small, from Txxxx’s countless rich and famous acquaintances. I called any and all of the people he spoke to, most often on his behalf as his attorney and emissary, and everyone knew that when I spoke to them, it was as good as if they were talking directly to Txxxx.

Apart from his wife and children, I knew Txxxx better than anyone else did. In some ways, I knew him better than even his family did because I bore witness to the real man, in strip clubs, shady business meetings, and in the unguarded moments when he revealed who he really was: a cheat, a liar, a fraud, a bully, a racist, a predator, a con man.

There are reasons why there has never been an intimate portrait of Dxxxx Txxxx, the man. In part, it’s because he has a million acquaintances, pals and hangers on, but no real friends. He has no one he trusts to keep his secrets. For ten years, he certainly had me, and I was always there for him, and look what happened to me. I urge you to really consider that fact: Txxxx has no true friends. He has lived his entire life avoiding and evading taking responsibility for his actions. He crushed or cheated all who stood in his way, but I know where the skeletons are buried because I was the one who buried them. . . .

As you read my story, you will no doubt ask yourself if you like me, or if you would act as I did, and the answer will frequently be no to both of those questions. But permit me to make a point: If you only read stories written by people you like, you will never be able to understand Dxxxx Txxxx or the current state of the American soul. More than that, it’s only by actually understanding my decisions and actions that you can get inside Txxxx’s mind and understand his worldview. As anyone in law enforcement will tell you, it’s only gangsters who can reveal the secrets of organized crime. If you want to know how the mob really works, you’ve got to talk to the bad guys. I was one of Txxxx’s bad guys. In his world, I was one hundred percent a made man. . . .

In the pitiful sight of Republicans throwing aside their dignity and duty in an effort to grovel at Txxxx’s feet, I saw myself and understood their motives. My insatiable desire to please Txxxx to gain power for myself, the fatal flaw that led to my ruination, was a Faustian bargain: I would do anything to accumulate, wield, maintain, exert, exploit power. In this way, Dxxxx Txxxx and I were the most alike; in this naked lust for power, the President and I were soul mates. I was so vulnerable to his magnetic force because he offered an intoxicating cocktail of power, strength, celebrity, and a complete disregard for the rules and realities that govern our lives. To Txxxx, life was a game and all that mattered was winning. In these dangerous days, I see the Republican Party and Txxxx’s followers threatening the constitution—which is in far greater peril than is commonly understood—and following one of the worst impulses of humankind: the desire for power at all costs. . . .

Now, sitting alone in an upstate New York prison, wearing my green government-issued uniform, I’ve begun writing this story longhand on a yellow legal pad. I often wrote before dawn so not to be disturbed in my thoughts when my fellow inmates awoke. I had to report to the sewage treatment plant where some of us worked for a wage of $8 a month. As the months passed by and I thought about the man I knew so well, I became even more convinced that Txxxx will never leave office peacefully. The types of scandals that have surfaced in recent months will only continue to emerge with greater and greater levels of treachery and deceit. If Txxxx wins another four years, these scandals will prove to only be the tip of the iceberg. I’m certain that Txxxx knows he will face prison time if he leaves office, the inevitable cold Karma to the notorious chants of “Lock Her Up!” But that is the Txxxx I know in a nutshell. He projects his own sins and crimes onto others, partly to distract and confuse but mostly because he thinks everyone is as corrupt and shameless and ruthless as he is; a poisonous mindset I know all too well. . . .

Watching Txxxx on the evening news in the prison rec room, I almost feel sorry for him. I know him so well and I know his facial tics and tells; I see the cornered look in his eyes as he flails and rants and raves, searching for a protector and advocate, someone willing to fight dirty and destroy his enemies. I see the men who have replaced me and continue to forfeit their reputations by doing the President’s bidding, no matter how dishonest or sleazy or unlawful. Rudy Guiliani, William Barr, Jared Kushner and Mike Pompeo are Txxxx’s new wannabe fixers, sycophants willing to distort the truth and break the law in the service of the Boss. All this will be to no avail. Txxxx doesn’t want to hear this, and he will certainly deny it, but he’s lost without his original bulldog lawyer Roy Cohn, or his other former pitbull and personal attorney, Michael Cohen . . .

Otisville Federal Prison, Otisville, New York, March 11, 2020

Unquote.

Like I said recently in a post about Casino, the true crime book about Las Vegas, mobsters are used to lying and exaggeration. But I think Cohen is telling the truth about the mob boss millions of Americans (and an antiquated election process) put in the White House.