Opinion | The Autocrats’ Playbook – by Michelle Goldberg – NYT

In 2009, Turkey’s tax ministry imposed a $2.5 billion fine for alleged tax evasion on Dogan Yayin, a media conglomerate whose newspapers and television stations were critical of the Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Under financial and political pressure, the company began unloading some assets and closing others. Last month, the billionaire Aydin Dogan sold his remaining media properties, including the influential Hurriyet newspaper and CNN Turk, to a group of Erdogan loyalists.

Modern authoritarians rarely seize critical newspapers or TV stations outright. Instead, they use state power to pressure critics and reward friends. As Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, professors at Harvard, wrote in their recent book “How Democracies Die,” President Vladimir Putin of Russia turned the tax authorities on Vladimir Gusinsky, owner of an independent television network, NTV, which was considered bothersome. Gusinsky eventually signed NTV over to a government-controlled company. Under Hugo Chávez, Venezuelan authorities accused Guillermo Zuloaga, owner of Globovisión, a TV station frequently critical of the government, of illegal profiteering. In 2013, Zuloaga sold Globovisión to allies of Chávez’s successor, Nicolás Maduro.

Now Donald Trump is going after Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post.

via Opinion | The Autocrats’ Playbook – The New York Times

Thank you Michelle Goldberg.  Here are the top three comments, which I endorsed.


Should Amazon have antitrust scrutiny? Yes. Should a sitting President ever publicly attack a great American business to cover up his own corruption? Lock him up.

Dave Thomas

I’d never would have thought America could be compared to a banana republic controlled by a demagogue, but here it is, April 2018, Trump is President, Rupert Murdoch controls a major television news network famous for spinning half-truths as “news,” two of the richest men in the U.S., the Koch Brothers, own Time Magazine and the Sinclair company operates scores of TV stations as if they were extensions of Putin’s state controlled Pravda. To a man raised on Walter Cronkite and Chet Huntley, during the journalistic period right after Edward R. Murrow and Walter Lippmann, this current state of American journalism is both unimaginable and frightening. When the nightmare of our American demagoguery ends let’s hope Murdoch, Koch and Sinclair all go down with Trump’s sinking ship of state.

Los Angeles, CA

Many of us who read the NYT and WaPo look at the Sinclair story and think somewhere in the back of our heads “that’s disturbing, I don’t watch those stations” and move on. But of course we all saw in 2016 what can happen to our democracy when many of our fellow citizens are so poorly informed and subject to a barrage of misinformation. It’s not somebody else’s problem any more.

The End of the Two-Party System – by David Brooks – NYT

“In the first half of the 1990s, I worked in Europe for The Wall Street Journal. I covered nothing but good news: the reunification of Germany, the liberation of Central Europe, the fall of the Soviet Union, the end of apartheid in South Africa, the Oslo peace process in the Middle East. Then, toward the end of my stay, there was one seemingly anomalous episode — the breakup of Yugoslavia.

In retrospect, the civil war in the Balkans was the most important event of that period. It prefigured what has come since: the return of ethnic separatism, the rise of authoritarian populism, the retreat of liberal democracy, the elevation of a warrior ethos that reduces politics to friend/enemy, zero-sum conflicts.

In those intervening years there’s been an utter transformation in the unconscious mind-set within which people hold their beliefs.

Back in the 1990s, there was an unconscious abundance mind-set. Democratic capitalism provides the bounty. Prejudice gradually fades away. Growth and dynamism are our friends. The abundance mind-set is confident in the future, welcoming toward others. It sees win-win situations everywhere.”

via The End of the Two-Party System – The New York Times

David Lindsay Jr:  Brilliant writing David Brooks. You ended, “The scarcity mentality is eventually incompatible with the philosophies that have come down through the centuries. Decent liberals and conservatives will eventually decide they need to break from it structurally. They will realize it’s time to start something new.”
We definitely need a change, and you are correct in pointing out that scarcity will get worse, (since overpopulation and climate change continue to get worse.)
One of your commenters is right, that to equate the two parties is a false equivalence. If our democracy can survive the fascists now trying to make it a GOP one party system, there will be a renaissance of Democrats and Independents for at least 8 years. The republicans will either listen to voices like yours and clean themselves up, or be replaced, if we are lucky and successful, with a more environmentally aware conservative party.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com