The slippery slope leading towards dictatorship

Thomas Jefferson (1787): “were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

The Washington Post reports: Sen. John McCain spoke out Saturday in defense of the free press after President Trump lashed out against the news media several times over the past week, at one point declaring it “the enemy of the American People!

Such talk, McCain (R-Ariz.) said on NBC News in an interview set to air Sunday, was “how dictators get started.”

“In other words, a consolidation of power,” McCain told “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd from Munich. “When you look at history, the first thing that dictators do is shut down the press. And I’m not saying that President Trump is trying to be a dictator. I’m just saying we need to learn the lessons of history.” [Continue reading…]

On Saturday in Florida, Trump continued with his vilification of the press:

 

CBS News reports: Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, advised Americans to take President Trump’s attacks on the media “seriously,” following the president’s denunciations of the press as the “enemy.”

“There’s been a debate about when to take the president seriously,” CBS’ John Dickerson said in a “Face the Nation” interview with Priebus Saturday. “He recently tweeted that the press was the enemy of the American people. Should we take that seriously from him?”

“Well, I think you should take it seriously,” Priebus replied. “I think that the problem we’ve got is that we’re talking about bogus stories like the one in the New York Times, that we’ve had constant contact with Russian officials. The next day, the Wall Street Journal had a story that the intel community was not giving the president a full intelligence briefing. Both stories grossly inaccurate, overstated, overblown, and it’s total garbage.”

Sources told CBS News there is a “chill” in the flow of intelligence to the White House, both because of comments from the president about the intelligence community and anxiety over the handling of sensitive information about Russian interference in the 2016 election. [Continue reading…]

Thomas Jefferson (1823): “the only security of all is in a free press. the force of public opinion cannot be resisted, when permitted freely to be expressed. the agitation it produces must be submitted to. it is necessary to keep the waters pure.”

Nate Cohn writes: Donald J. Trump won the presidential election as the least popular candidate in the polling era. He assumed the presidency with the lowest approval rating of any incoming president.

And his ratings have continued to fall. The question isn’t whether it’s bad for Mr. Trump and the Republicans, but how bad.

Usually, presidents ride high at the start of their terms. After one month, presidents average around a 60 percent approval rating. Even re-elected presidents with considerable baggage, like Barack Obama or George W. Bush, still had approval ratings around or over 50 percent.

The worst data for Mr. Trump comes from live interview telephone surveys like Pew Research and Gallup, which pin his approval rating among adults around 40 percent.

The most recent Gallup survey, the first conducted entirely after the resignation of Michael Flynn as national security adviser, has Mr. Trump’s approval rating down to 38 percent, with 56 percent disapproving (a differential of minus 18).

Mr. Trump’s ratings aren’t just bad for an incoming president. They’re bad for a president at any point in a term. [Continue reading…]

The ability of a loudmouth in the Oval Office to assemble a few thousand gullible supporters in Florida does not show that the force of public opinion is on Trump’s side. On the contrary, by employing the same power dynamics used by terrorists (drawing national and international attention to local events), Trump is merely using his ability to dominate media coverage as an instrument for amplifying the range of his desired influence.

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  1. ” This country with its institutions belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they grow weary of the existing government they can exercise their right of amending it or their constitutional right to dismember it, or overthrow it ” Abraham Lincoln’s Inaugural Presidential speech of 1861