Sparkling Authoritarianism, Part 2

One month ago, I opened the original post to this sequel thusly:

It became clear last week that Donald Trump will not stop his attempt to steal the election he lost until two things happen – he fails, or he succeeds. Either way, he wins and America loses.

He’s still at it – and we’re still suffering.

Those who felt the meeting of the Electoral College in the fifty states and in Washington, D.C., would put an end to Trump’s tyrannical fantasies were disabused within days, if not hours. By Friday, Trump was openly welcoming back Sidney Powell and Michael Flynn into the fold – along with their utterly crackpot ideas for reversing the election (New York Times – emphasis added).

President Trump on Friday discussed naming Sidney Powell, who as a lawyer for his campaign team unleashed conspiracy theories about a Venezuelan plot to rig voting machines in the United States, to be a special counsel overseeing an investigation of voter fraud, according to two people briefed on the discussion.

Ms. Powell’s client, retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser whom the president recently pardoned, was also there, two of the people briefed on the meeting said. Some senior administration officials drifted in and out of the meeting.

During an appearance on the conservative Newsmax channel this week, Mr. Flynn pushed for Mr. Trump to impose martial law and deploy the military to “rerun” the election. At one point in the meeting on Friday, Mr. Trump asked about that idea.

That’s right, the President of the United States openly talked about using the military to invalidate an election that he lost.

The more we find out about this meeting, the worse it gets. One of the attendees was Patrick Byrne, a Trumpist who was sleeping with Russian spy Maria Butina (Washington Post).

As the founder and chief executive of Overstock, Byrne was known as an eccentric but often prophetic financial forecaster. For years, he maintained a blog called Deep Capture, in which he spun wild conspiracy tales, claiming he was a target of international Russian mobsters because of his exposure of short-selling stock schemes on Wall Street.

He resigned from the retailer in August 2019, after revealing that he had engaged in a multiyear romantic relationship with Maria Butina, the Russian graduate student who pleaded guilty in April 2019 to conspiring to act as a Russian agent and trying to build inroads on behalf of the Kremlin with prominent Republican politicians and conservative organizations, including the National Rifle Association.

Butina served five months in federal prison and was deported to Russia in October 2019.

Byrne has said he came to believe Butina was merely an inquisitive student and has alleged that the charges against her were part of a “deep state” plot to hurt Trump. The allegations, which he initially put forward on Overstock letterhead, led the company’s stock to plummet last year and, ultimately, to his ouster as CEO.

With his head that far in the honeypot, it’s a wonder he’s not called Winnie the Pooh.

This was the fellow who joined Powell, Flynn, and (of course) Rudy Giuliani to help fuel Trump’s anti-democracy dreams of a second term in office.

Hardly any Republican had anything to say about it – save Mitt Romney (Daily Beast) and Adam Kinzinger. What will it take for the rest of the national party to speak up? When will they stop being cowed by what the WaPo described “as a ragtag crew of conspiracy-minded allies” which “now includes a pardoned felon, adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory, a White House trade adviser and a Russian agent’s former lover”?

It appears Trump will force Republicans to choose him or American democracy on the 6th of January. Sadly, a majority of Republican Congressman have already chosen against democracy. We’ll see what the rest of them do in about two weeks.

But don’t think Trump will stop even after that. He will try to reverse the election right up to Inauguration Day itself …

… and far too many Republicans will be too afraid of their delusional constituents to oppose him.

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