Masha Gessen and Sarah Kendzior: Similarities between Trump and Putin, Defending Truth, Surviving Autocracy

Masha Gessen and Sarah Kendzior discuss defending truth. Gessen opens with nine similarities between Tump and Putin.

  1. The way they lie. They lie in order to assert power. I have the right to say whatever I want whenever I want.
  2. They govern by gesture. It’s a way of promoting the brand. It’s not continuous. It’s not part of a policy strategy.
  3. They have interests rather than priorities.
  4. Disdain for government. They think government is rotten to the core, needs to be dismantled, needs to be destroyed. Blaming the predecessor is blaming the entire system they’re here to destroy. It’s why Trump continues to campaign. He’s campaigning against the government.
  5. Disdain for public sphere. Anything that is not transactional should not exist.
  6. Disdain for the media. They view the media as a mirror. Putin has been watching Putin TV for 16 years. Trump found a bubble he wants to live in. There’s a fairly healthy public sphere from about the center right to about the center left. That’s not a bubble. Breitbart is a bubble.
  7. Disdain for moral authority. It’s something autocrats can’t capture. Moral authority can organize by speaking. Ex: John Lewis.
  8. Disdain for excellence. Basic lack of understanding of how government works and the expertise needed to keep it running.
  9. Belief that they are chosen ones. They come to believe they have a mission, that they’re special. This belief blurs the boundaries between their individual selves and the government. When they are criticized, they believe they are being criticized by the enemies of the people.

Kendzior then joins to discuss #TrumpRussia, truth, and their experiences observing autocracy.

On defending truth:

  • Don’t tolerate squishy reality or squishy language.
  • Language is the only thing we have for protecting truth and communicating our shared reality.
  • Call lies lies.
  • The more precise we are with language, the better our chances are of holding onto reality.
  • Follow Merriam-Webster and their commitment to reality and precise language.

They mention Gessen’s piece on surviving autocracy.

  1. Believe the autocrat.
  2. Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
  3. Institutions will not save you.
  4. Be outraged.
  5. Don’t make compromises.
  6. Remember the future.

Source: Autocracy: Rules for Survival | by Masha Gessen | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books

Testimony on Texas HB 594 (Protection for Medical Cannabis Patients and Doctors)

On the first of May, testimony was heard for HB 594. The part relevant to HB 594 starts at 1:51:12. Unfortunately, the Texas House posts video in real audio metadata format, requiring the Real Player. I had to start up a Windows VM and download RealPlayer for the first time in over five years to view it. If you take the trouble to get past this annoying hurdle, you will hear heartfelt testimony from 24 people, including 11 patients.

Previously on HB 594 on HB 184.

Cross Country Freedom Therapy

While watching people process through security at Miami airport, the civil libertarian in me became very sad. I often feel this way when witnessing and experiencing the TSA and our interactions with them, but this time the sadness made me walk away. I walked away from my flight. I put my normal life on hold because I couldn’t give up a piece of my soul and my dignity one more time. I went straight to the Miami Seaquarium to clear my head. There I witnessed a turtle whose injuries robbed him of freedom of movement.

Injured Sea Turtle
Injured Sea Turtle

I cried right into his salty habitat. The natural right of freedom of movement is so precious. I never wanted to fly again. Humanity has long dreamed of flying, and now this is what we have. Expedience is not worth corroding your soul.

Instead, I am choosing to use my own two legs, my friends across the country, and the relative freedom of our roads and highways to make my way home. It won’t be fast, but I’ll get there. And I’ll see and taste and experience some things along the way. Several people have already offered places to stay and donated money for travel costs. Thank you so much and be assured that any extra money will be passed on to civil liberties organizations trying to claw back our freedom of movement. I intend to at least double my usual contributions this year.

I’m hoping this will be a grand little adventure and a testament to what Internet communities can do to aid people who need a little freedom therapy with offers of rides, lodging, advice, and simply good tidings.

Open roads and kind fires,

Ryan