Let’s Try Again

A while back, I posted on the similarities between Donald Trump and dictators past. Not exact parallels – history doesn’t give us those – but enough similarities that we should be very concerned about the direction of our country. Here’s a good article that says some of the same things. My question continues to be whether we can turn it around.

Because there is no single moment – no coup, declaration of martial law, or suspension of the constitution – in which the regime obviously “crosses the line” into dictatorship, nothing may set off society’s alarm bells. Those who denounce government abuse may be dismissed as exaggerating or crying wolf. Democracy’s erosion is, for many, almost imperceptible.

It’s important to recognize those similarities (not exact parallels – I’m emphasizing this for the pedants in the jackaltariat). My bolding:

A comparative approach reveals how elected autocrats in different parts of the world employ remarkably similar strategies to subvert democratic institutions. As these patterns become visible, the steps toward breakdown grow less ambiguous –and easier to combat. Knowing how citizens in other democracies have successfully resisted elected autocrats, or why they tragically failed to do so, is essential to those seeking to defend American democracy today.

There are two big steps. We failed the first by electing Donald Trump.

How serious is the threat now? Many observers take comfort in our constitution, which was designed precisely to thwart and contain demagogues like Trump. Our Madisonian system of checks and balances has endured for more than two centuries. It survived the civil war, the great depression, the Cold War and Watergate. Surely, then, it will be able to survive Trump.

We are less certain. Historically, our system of checks and balances has worked pretty well – but not, or not entirely, because of the constitutional system designed by the founders. Democracies work best – and survive longer – where constitutions are reinforced by unwritten democratic norms.

Republicans have been eroding those norms since at least the mid-90s. And they are doing nothing to enforce the checks and balances. Some are helping Trump avoid the checks and balances.

We don’t yet know how the story turns out for America.

The last time I wrote about this, a troll disrupted the comment section. Trolls can’t do that unless jackals fall for the trolls’ tricks. Another of my continuing themes is information warfare. Remember what they say about troll nutrition.

 






102 replies
  1. 1
    Leto says:

    Remember what they say about troll nutrition.

    That ban hammers work the best and help promote healthier discussion of relevant topics? A troll can’t feed if they have no teeth.

  2. 2
  3. 3
    Ramiah Ariya says:

    I think nobody considered that Republicans themselves have no use for democracy now – they, republican voters are more fine with not having a democracy and see the possibility of another Obama style 8 years as not worth having. They think a white supremacist autocracy will work for them.
    Their thinking in this direction has been helped by the lack of a foreign or domestic crisis in these Trump years.

  4. 4
    New Deal democrat says:

    Trump is a dead ringer for Kaiser Wilhelm, another buffoonish narcissist. I’ve written about this at length already, so I’ll just send you to the link:
    https://angrybearblog.com/2018/06/the-disastrous-german-emperor-who-was-a-doppelganger-to-donald-trump-kaiser-wilhelm.html

    I don’t think Trump can pull off autocracy. He’s simply too distractible. I’ve come to think that the bigger danger is represented by Mitch McConnell and his fellow travelers. All of them know exactly what they are doing, and that is, embedding plutocracy via the dismantling all potentially competing power centers. Given a choice between a Republic and a plutocracy, they’ll go with the latter in a heartbeat.

  5. 5
    Kirk Spencer says:

    @Leto: Starve them. But a problem is that the talented trolls take time to identify and by the time they are it’s either too late or too many people are invested in the conversation to let it go.

  6. 6
    Barbara says:

    The real question is which relevant blocks of potential voters can be persuaded that this matters for them in such numbers that things can be turned around. I wish I knew.

  7. 7
    Barbara says:

    @Ramiah Ariya: Except that it won’t, not if you include the people in farm states, in particular, although they do seem to have their heads stuck firmly up their rear ends on the issue of immigration.

  8. 8
    Leto says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: This is a discussion we’ve had for a long time. Careful balancing act. Also nothing specifically against you.

    @Kirk Spencer: They do, but we have a number who continually pop up, under one guise or another, and they continue to pollute.

    Republicans have been eroding those norms since at least the mid-90s. And they are doing nothing to enforce the checks and balances. Some are helping Trump avoid the checks and balances.

    When people try to bothsiderism this point, I try to show how Rethugs created the mess. At this point you have one party who’s committed to the rule of law, and one party who full heartedly supports authoritarianism. We have an MSM who can’t be counted on to factually report that, and even if they do, 47% of the electorate simply won’t believe it.

    I don’t know how to counter that. At least not in a productive way. When our government is designed to let a minority party keep continual control at both a federal and state level, despite the majority wanting fundamentally different results, I’m not sure how we peaceably resolve these differences.

  9. 9

    @Leto: A number of Juicers seem to enjoy wrangling with a troll. I avoid conflict, so that’s not my choice, but I’ve learned to leave them to it.

  10. 10
    hitchhiker says:

    I’m scared.

    Not a helpful comment, but there it is. Last night trump gave a shock jock performance to a crowd in Green Bay, Wisconsin, claiming that women and doctors routinely put their heads together over the body of a living infant and decide whether or not to murder it.

    And the crowd didn’t even raise an eyebrow. This morning his 2020 campaign manager is on television talking about which states are in play that Democrats won last time, as if everything is normal and we’re going to have a regular election.

    I’m not sure I can take it.

  11. 11
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Ramiah Ariya:

    I think nobody considered that Republicans themselves have no use for democracy now

    Actually, I think the vast majority of people who frequent this blog are very aware of that.

  12. 12
    Amir Khalid says:

    @New Deal democrat:
    Trump makes a good-enough figurehead, though. He can keep the masses distracted while someone else with control over him does the actual dictatoring. You could even say Trump’s already doing just that.

  13. 13
    UncleEbeneezer says:

    The big question for me about resisting a Dictatorship, in the near term, is: what can we do to protect our elections from Russian (and other foreign or domestic) ratfucking? Clearly, this administration will do nothing to stop it, and even encourages it. I know paper ballots are preferred but are there any other steps we need to be taking, and are there any particular groups/orgs we can look to for guidance or lend our support to?

    Maybe we can get a front-pager post on this?

  14. 14
    LivinginExile says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: When Trump got elected I really thought there were enough half decent republicans that would help keep him under control. Oh well.

  15. 15

    @hitchhiker: I’m scared too. So I am trying to find everything I can do to change things. It feels like it’s not enough, but if all of us do what we can, it will make a difference. As for that vile comment, here is the last tweet of a thread pushing back on it. I’m including only the last tweet because the thread is disturbing.

  16. 16
    HinTN says:

    I just got a weird full red page warning about b-j announcing “deceptive site ahead”

    I used to get a similar but different pop-up at Booman when his site was afflicted with something.

    Anybody running the back side of this place seeing anything?

  17. 17
    joel hanes says:

    @hitchhiker:

    I’m scared.

    I am too.

  18. 18

    @UncleEbeneezer: Call your Secretary of State and find out what kind of ballots your state uses. If it’s anything but optically-scanned paper ballots, get after your legislators.

    There’s another part, though, and it has to do with trolls. Balloon Juice is a voice for, and a force (through Doug’s fundraising) for turning America away from the dictatorship path. That’s why I’m going to keep reminding people about information warfare. If they can get us fighting with each other, we are weakened.

  19. 19
    HinTN says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Me three! Mrs H watched the whole thing and she’s convinced he’ll be reelected.

  20. 20
    Emma says:

    We need to take back as many states as possible.
    Sometimes I think we are too concentrated on the presidency and the federal level. But I think the problem can only be tackled at the state level. For example, right now there are a few states that have or are going to pass laws requiring that a candidate must release his taxes in order to appear on the ballot, meaning Trump will have to mount a write-in operation. If we had a majority of states under democratic administration, we could rebuild the voting process. It has to start in the states.

  21. 21
    H.E.Wolf says:

    @hitchhiker:

    I’m scared.

    I’m (re-)reading Henrietta’s War, a collection of letters about a small country town in Devon in WWII, published installment-fashion in a magazine during the war. In the letter I just read, Henrietta (the letter writer) confesses to two friends that she’s scared.

    Both of her friends – elderly women, older than she by 2-3 decades – advise her that she will still be scared, but less terrified and more confident, if she takes a small, concrete action of any kind.

    I can testify that it works for me. (And my actions are really, really small.)

    Henrietta says in her closing paragraph, “It will be the old women of England who will break Hitler’s heart in the end.”

    I aspire to be one of the people who breaks the Republicans’ hearts.

    And now back to updating the active-volunteer list for a distant part of my state, so that the field organizer for that region can do her job.

    Everyone who’s scared [ETA: and that definitely includes me], I invite you to be a heartbreaker. :)

  22. 22
    raven says:

    @LivinginExile: RE last thread. I spent quite a few days camped at Wildcat Springs in Hamilton, fishing across fro lock and dam #19 and riding the Addie Mae from Nauvoo to the dam and back.

  23. 23
    Emma says:

    @HinTN: I’m not ready to be completely pessimistic. The 2018 election felt like a move in the right direction. If we can build on that, we have a chance.

  24. 24
    Aleta says:

    Anne
‏

 
@SparksMom53

    Imagine being 73 & father of 5 & not having any clue about what can & does go wrong in fetal development, or having any emotional connection to pregnancy & childbirth, & not questioning whatever idiot told you that women & drs were conspiring to commit infanticide.

    Imagine

 just believing it, not even doing your own research, asking ob/gyns, getting some info other something heard & misunderstood. Imagine no one around you telling you you were wrong, that this wasn’t & isn’t happening anywhere. Imagine what kind of person you would have to be to


    keep repeating it to large groups of people b/c it served your underlying agenda, to deny women the right to make their own medical & reproductive health decisions.

    To fabricate such lies, to use the worst thing in someone’s life as propaganda is utterly monstrous. And sick.


  25. 25
    JimV says:

    Let’s face it, our great Constitution was never that great to begin with. Government of and for the landowners, and those in power. An unfair distribution of congressional representation, and hence electoral college votes. A system in which only two parties can compete for power (Kang vs. Kodos), and the winner can gerrymander for political advantage. Supreme Court Justices appointed for life, confirmed by the least representative of the two houses of Congress. It may have lasted this long only because it had the best half of a continent to plunder.

    Somewhere I have a 33-RPM vinyl record of John Kennedy’s speeches which I chose from a bunch of other options as my most-wanted Christmas present at age 12 or so. It has taken me a long time to get this cynical. But here I am.

    Good post, by the way!

  26. 26
    Redshift says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    Call your Secretary of State and find out what kind of ballots your state uses. If it’s anything but optically-scanned paper ballots, get after your legislators.

    Definitely, though I’m still concerned about voter registration records (which Russian hackers apparently did get into) and tabulation systems. Even if the people running things understand security, government IT is chronically underfunded. I guess I’ll get after my electeds about that, too.

  27. 27
    Barb 2 says:

    @UncleEbeneezer:

    Grassroots efforts to elect effective poll workers. States have different names for the individuals who audit or count the votes. on the county level we elected a computer database specialist (Auditor-Democrat). He understands the concept of secure computer networks etc.

    C. R’s ongoing efforts to educate us about dictatorships and authoritarian personalities is wonderful. Trump’s skill at manipulating his cult followers and his willingness to use weaponized help from Russia worries me about 2020 & future elections. We seem to be in new territory. An inept dictator who keeps trying until gets his message out there to the creeps who will follow him to hell.

  28. 28
    scott (the other one) says:

    @New Deal democrat: Do you really think the Republicans who are so active in dismantling our democracy really want it gone (or believe they’ll be that successful), or are they simply that greedy and thinking, hey, they’ll only be here another 25 years anyway?

  29. 29
    dww44 says:

    @hitchhiker: I’m with you. Every day I am newly gobsmacked with more examples of the MSM treating Trump and minions as if they were the same as those that came before. They are not and a critical mass of our media have to say this out loud and often. Losing their precious access isn’t worth the price of a functioning government and democracy.

    As a side benefit, perhaps Congressional Dems can then be emboldened to hitch up their britches and undertake the hard task of getting Trump removed. Stop hoping that the election will save you. That’s not a given.

  30. 30
    Redshift says:

    Both of her friends – elderly women, older than she by 2-3 decades – advise her that she will still be scared, but less terrified and more confident, if she takes a small, concrete action of any kind.

    I can testify that it works for me. (And my actions are really, really small.)

    I can attest to this as well. Getting back to being involved after 2016 is what got me sleeping decently again. At the time it was the weekly visits to my elected officials’ offices with Indivisible, but now that campaigns are on, there are even more options.

  31. 31
    Kristine says:

    @scott (the other one):

    Do you really think the Republicans who are so active in dismantling our democracy really want it gone (or believe they’ll be that successful), or are they simply that greedy and thinking, hey, they’ll only be here another 25 years anyway?

    I think some can’t think past next Tuesday, some of the more business-minded don’t think past quarterly results, but unfortunately, the ones with the money (Koch etc) do think decades out. They are seeking to set up their family dynasties. And they’re going to be the hardest ones to stop.

  32. 32
    New Deal democrat says:

    Scott:

    I don’t think that the GOP *wants* the Republic gone. They just don’t care if it gets in the way of plutocratic rule.

  33. 33
    Marina says:

    I’m scared too.

    That comment from DJT about ‘executing’ babies wasn’t in the NYT this morning or the WaPo. If you read Daniel Dale with the Toronto Star, the difference in coverage from US media is shocking.

  34. 34
    JPL says:

    The trump administration is doing everything they can to stop congress’s right to have oversight hearings. They’ll just ignore subpoenas and hope the clock runs out. At this point it would not surprise me if the Supreme Court stated that Congress does not have the right to go on fishing exhibitions and rule in trump’s favor. Biden was correct to attack trump but he’s naive if he thinks this situation is going to turn around easily. The top 1 percent want their tax cuts and the white supremacists are not going back under their rock.

  35. 35
    JPL says:

    @Marina: I streamed Brian Stelter’s show earlier and lasted only a few minutes. A journalist and a republican strategist sided with trump. At least it appeared that way because I shut down the computer and went outside to do yard work.

  36. 36
    Redshift says:

    @scott (the other one): I don’t think they think of it that way, but yes, I think they do. It’s part of the transition from a generation who knew Fox et al. were a good way to fleece the rubes and get elected to a generation who grew up in the bubble and believe it’s the truth.

    And the conservative bubble tells them that conservatives are a clear majority in the country, and the only way Democrats win is by cheating. So they have to stop that. Dismantling democracy is just a side effect.

  37. 37

    @Marina: The prestige media in the United States from NYT to PBS Newshour still covers T like he is a lovable rogue from New York revealing the depths of their own bigotry.

  38. 38

    @Ramiah Ariya: RSS on the other hand has never pretended that they cared about democracy or the constitution. Yet BJP was elected with an absolute majority five years ago and the butcher of Godhra is the PM now.

  39. 39
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    Trump isn’t like some dictator. You want to understand Trump, look to Creationism. It’s pile of steaming nonsense that teaches it followers that the reality is nothing more that a All you can eat buffet were they can pick and chose the parts they think taste good and someone else will clean up the mess. Creationism trained Trump’s evangelical base to support blatant frauds like Trump. And government and politics are having the exact same problem science had with creationist back in 00s, because everyone is to polite to call someone out of being full of shit or mocking them and so end up with Barr and Rounstien wringing their hands and trying to be fair to a guy they know committed treason.

  40. 40
    Another Scott says:

    @hitchhiker: Donnie tried everything to rile up his minions before the 2018 elections. It mostly didn’t work. It wasn’t a blue wave, it was a blue tsunami..

    Don’t get discouraged. Keep fighting.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  41. 41
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷 says:

    @JPL:

    the white supremacists are not going back under their rock

    I’m not sure either, but they have to be opposed at every turn

  42. 42
  43. 43
    James E Powell says:

    There are two big steps. We failed the first by electing Donald Trump.

    I hate to quibble with an expert, but I think that Trump’s election was really two distinct steps. Maybe 1A & 1B.

    Trump getting the nomination was a different process than his winning the election. The forces driving the nomination were the racist rage of the Republican base combined with the enthusiastic promotion of Trump by the whole press/media world. To me, Trump beating all those well-known, well-funded candidates, each of whom had their allies in the Beltway and Republican establishment, was more striking and more unexpected than his defeating Hillary Clinton.

  44. 44
    banditqueen says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    My question continues to be whether we can turn it around.

    As @Amir Khalid notes, The Beast is a ‘good enough figurehead’–q.v. last night’s hate rally. New Deal democrat makes another important point, that:

    Mitch McConnell and his fellow travelers… [are] embedding plutocracy via the dismantling all potentially competing power centers.

    The Beast, with the aid of his attorneys and repub partners in high office, are all doing their best to ignore Congress (Democrats), and if, as the Beast brags, the Supreme Court is not independent of executive power, there are no checks in the system. The powerful and their followers adhere to the self-gratifying lie of white supremacy–the original sin of the US, and their tools include ignoring history and cultivating fear of whomever they call ‘the other’. The powerful and their followers (as seen in last night’s rally), are a coalition of hateful people who use the sophistry of white supremacy, misogyny, bigotry to justify their vicious campaigns (ignoring gun violence, breaking up families and placing them in concentration camps, on and on)– it’s an ideology based on the destruction of truth. People like this want and need destruction, but are so unaware of themselves and the trajectory their hatred takes–they don’t realize they will also ultimately turn on each other too–but they do so much damage and destruction before their own destruction starts. We have to vote and get everyone we know who votes to the polls–2020 is the most powerful tool we have.

  45. 45
    Ajabu says:

    I’m proceeding hoping for the best but actively preparing for the worst. I have little faith that the country (or the Constitution) can survive another 4 years of Trump et al.
    Not to go all Godwin on you but my biggest job is to convince my wife that we have to bail if he’s re-elected.
    Just like German Jews who recognized the threat early enough survived, Black folk in America need to see it coming & take action – whatever that might be for you. For us, it’s back to the Caribbean.
    My wife is all about “But our grandchildren are here…” And I’m all, “Not if I can help it.”
    We’ll see.

  46. 46
    Ruckus says:

    @Dorothy A. Winsor:
    Calling out trolls is effective but slower than banning or even the pie filter. And it gives them some standing, which I believe is wrong. So I’m with you, a known troll or even a new one who tries to incite, I’ll pie because it keeps me from reaching for the keyboard. And right now I’ve got 5 in the filter, 3 of whom haven’t been around in some time.

  47. 47
    Betty says:

    To some extent, it is up to the mainstream media to be more aggressive in calling out Republicans who enable Trump. They need to be pressured to do a better job of communicating the existing crisis.

  48. 48
    Ruckus says:

    @Emma:
    This. 2018 was a disaster for the dictator. (I think we should call numbnuts that every time we want to describe him, it is what he wants to be) It showed that we can win, that we have a party that has values way better for all of us than power and thievery. The MSM is mostly owned by people on his side, so they will be of little help, as long as they are not shown to be enablers of a dictator. Our strengths as a nation, our constitutional structure enable the bad as well as protect the good. Especially when the bad is sold as the good. It’s up to all of us to spread the concept, that it takes a nation to be strong but it only takes apathy to be owned.

  49. 49
    PST says:

    One of the finest works of history I have ever read is The Coming of the Third Reich by Richard Evans. It is great work of scholarship highly respected by other experts, but it is also a good read, in part because the events lend themselves to chronological narrative. It is impossible to get trough a single page without thinking about parallels to our times, although I appreciated the author’s discipline in sticking to his story and not allowing the present to intrude. There are many similarities and differences, but the most important difference, in my opinion, was the prevalence of political violence in post-war Germany. All the parties had their militias, not just the Nazis. The country was full of ex-soldiers with grievances, many of whom organized as freikorps backing traditional right wing parties. As street fighting became more common and more violent, sentiment emerged hoping for someone who could just restore order — even though that meant rewarding the most violent of the thugs. It is the emergence of that kind of street violence that I watch for and fear most, and one reason Charlottesville remains a special low point for me. There are other major differences as well, of course, including a terrible economy and a powerful Communist Party that simply would not make common cause with democratic political groups. But I’m still going to look for growing violent clashes as the sign that we could be in a downward spiral.

  50. 50
    Marina says:

    Thinking about the media’s betrayal some more. I’m old enough to remember Uncle Walter (Chronkite), back when news was news, with actual context. Where’s our Edward R. Murrow?

    Husband said news went to hell when it became aggressively for-profit; real news costs a fortune; anodyne news is cheap. News is like the movie business now: why do meaningful movies that might make a few millions/change people’s souls when you can do blockbusters that make billions? Plus the movie guys were replaced by the money guys, and the same happened in new. See: Newton Minnow (he decried TV as ‘a vast wasteland’ for failing to serve the public interest. In 1961. He’d love reality TV).

    Also: the media are terrified of poking the right wing–piss them off and you’ll be steamrolled by a well-funded, well-coordinated, sustained attack that you might never recover from. Piss me off and I post on a blog. (O.k., or sign a petition, or march in the streets, or boycott, or whatever. And vote. And do get-out-the-vote work.) Unless you have the money, you don’t have the power. At least, that’s how it feels, and that’s why I’m scared.

    I read the thread from the neonatal nurse this morning, (I saw it on Brian Beutler’s and Josh Marshall’s respective Twitter feeds), and felt absolutely overwhelmed–it was a stunning truth-to-power moment, that you’ll only see if you go to the blogs. It’s been a while (NYT 2004) since Karl Rove told Ron Suskind that ‘We make our own reality” and it took time for that reality to take over, but damn them, it did work.

  51. 51
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    (not exact parallels – I’m emphasizing this for the pedants in the jackaltariat)

    Quoi? Nous?

  52. 52
    Ruckus says:

    @scott (the other one):

    or are they simply that greedy and thinking, hey, they’ll only be here another 25 years anyway?

    It seems to me that a lot of greedy people don’t think all that far ahead. They might think they want as much as they can get because that’s how they win. I’m not sure they have any idea what they win, only that they do win something, even if it’s only in their own head.

  53. 53
    Another Scott says:

    Republicans have been eroding those norms since at least the mid-90s. And they are doing nothing to enforce the checks and balances. Some are helping Trump avoid the checks and balances.

    We don’t yet know how the story turns out for America.

    Yup. And it’s true, the future isn’t written yet.

    The GOP is extremely transparent about what they’re trying to do. They’re not stupid.

    They know that their economic and foreign policy positions are unpopular, so they rail about Freedom and Illegals and Respect.

    They know they can no-longer win fair elections, so they try to keep people from voting.

    They know that the future is against them, so they ignore science and mathematics and push scary emotions.

    They know that others deserve as much status as they have but they fear losing power, so they fight the ERA and fair wages, and affirmative action and help in college and grad school admissions.

    There is nothing that they won’t turn on its head (e.g. “prosperity gospel”) to try to increase their power.

    They are fundamentally fighting from a position of weakness.

    We have to keep pushing our agendas while we also work on ways to combat emotional stories. There are more of us than them, and we have the science and the future on our side if we’re willing to do the hard work to make it real.

    Thanks.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  54. 54
    Kay says:

    It’s amazing to me that conservatives don’t think the domestic terror attacks that keep happening under Trump’s watch are a problem for Trump as far as “strength”. The President and his low quality hires seem defeated in the face of this, like they have no idea how to respond or prevent the next attack. They’re weak. These far Right shooters see that weakness and think it’s open season on minority religious and ethnic groups. They know the Trump Administration is compromised on this, to the extent that they seem helpless in the face of it.

  55. 55
    Ruckus says:

    Is there any idea how many went to last nights rally?
    It seems that numbnuts glory is being shouted from the rooftops very loudly but not by a majority. We hear about how strong his support is but we kicked ass in 2018. We have a strong field, so strong we argue about who to support, 18 months from the election. They have numbnuts, money and most of the MSM ink, but not all of it. Most of the MSM has taken to making you pay to read their crap, maybe we shouldn’t do that. They want a free press, maybe it should be actually free. Shouldn’t it after all, be worth what you pay for it?
    Someone yesterday pointed out that 100 million qualified people don’t vote. If we could get 10 million of them to vote with us…….

  56. 56
    Ruckus says:

    @Another Scott:
    You beat me with the same story by ten minutes. We said it differently, but it’s the same story.

  57. 57
    NotMax says:

    Sadly (and including ways and circumstances other than the political), “it can’t happen here” is a universal human blind spot.

    Eternal vigilance, and all that implies.

  58. 58
    LivinginExile says:

    @raven: That must have been a few years ago. I have been gone from this area much of my life, but the Addie mae hadn’t run for years that I know of. I’m in Carthage, where Joseph Smith was murdered. A long rich history of redneck mob violence. Nauvoo has some interesting history relating to Mormons.

  59. 59
    Barney says:

    The “babykillers” claim is a tried and tested ruse that the right has been using for decades, and Trump is bound to use it more. Fred Clark on the Slacktivist blog on Patheos is required reading on this – he points out the endurance of the evidence-free “Satanic panic”, which partly involves accusations of babykilling.

    The advantage it has for Trump over his racist dogwhistling is that people aren’t required to hate anyone they actually know. People have pointed out that Trump’s ratings were worst after Charlottesville – some people who contemplate supporting him really don’t like Nazis, just like normal people, and don’t want him saying “fine people on both sides” again. But claiming there are people who are evil, without having to actually identify them, works well with people who want to feel they are righteous and fighting against something.

    And who’s going to ask loads of people who’ve had a tragedy like a newborn baby that can’t survive to do interviews about it? Trump’s people know that he can make claims like this time after time without getting the parents actually involved to become the face of “Trump is full of shit about this”.

  60. 60

    @Barney: Good point. One of the claims (not true) during the Balkan wars of the 1990s was that Serbs were taking babies out of incubators and killing them.

  61. 61
    Another Scott says:

    I just saw this about our favorite newspaper and had to share. BFriedmanDC:

    Brandon Friedman Verified account @BFriedmanDC

    Brandon Friedman Retweeted The New York Times

    When you’re a newspaper terrified of those in power and someone blatantly lies, you say they “revived an inaccurate refrain”Brandon Friedman added,

    The New York Times Verified account @nytimes

    Fact check: At a rally on Saturday in Green Bay, Wisconsin, President Trump revived an inaccurate refrain about doctors “executing babies” https://nyti.ms/2ZH6oQL

    11:49 AM – 28 Apr 2019

    (via a certain Front Pager’s twitter feed).

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  62. 62
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    Balloon Juice is a voice for, and a force (through Doug’s fundraising) for turning America away from the dictatorship path. That’s why I’m going to keep reminding people about information warfare. If they can get us fighting with each other, we are weakened.

    Yes. The skills to recognize emotional manipulation in real time are very important. If we call out such manipulation in real-time it can be blunted.
    Related, and I’d like Adam’s opinion if he sees it, an 8-step mapping of defenses against information/influence operations to/from similar infosec concepts. (not quoting the steps here, just associated paragraphs):
    Towards an Information Operations Kill Chain (Bruce Schneier, April 26, 2019)
    Originally on lawfareblog:
    Toward an Information Operations Kill Chain (Bruce Schneier, April 24, 2019)

    On a similar note, it’s time to conceptualize the “information operations kill chain.” Information attacks against democracies, whether they’re attempts to polarize political processes or to increase mistrust in social institutions, also involve a series of steps. And enumerating those steps will clarify possibilities for defense.

    Also this:

    Permeating all of this is the importance of deterrence. Yes, we need to adjust our theories of deterrence to the realities of the information age and the democratization of attackers. If we can mitigate the effectiveness of information operations, if we can publicly attribute, if we can respond either diplomatically or otherwise—we can deter these attacks from nation-states. But Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election shows not just that such actions are possible but also that they’re surprisingly inexpensive to run. As these tactics continue to be democratized, more people will attempt them. Deterring them will require a different theory.

  63. 63
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Marina:

    Newton Minow is still alive and active, at age 93. His Wikipedia bio says he is the Honorary Consul of Singapore in Chicago.

    I expect he is all too familiar with today’s reality-TV, clickbait landscape. Would love for him to give a major speech/write a major opinion piece on the state of the MSM in the 21st century.

  64. 64
    JR says:

    @JimV: For all its deficiencies, it survived better than the French and Haitian constitutions (for two examples). Both of those, drafted not long after our own constitution, lasted two years.

  65. 65
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Barney:

    The “babykillers” claim is a tried and tested ruse that the right has been using for decades, and Trump is bound to use it more. Fred Clark on the Slacktivist blog on Patheos is required reading on this – he points out the endurance of the evidence-free “Satanic panic”, which partly involves accusations of babykilling.

    Or Blood Libel, which interestingly was part of the Chabad of Poway shooter’s manifesto, a mention of the Simon of Trent story. The general right-wing use of this is a blatant mapping of blood libel to other “others”, IMO.

  66. 66

    @Bill Arnold: Thanks for the Schneier link. I’ll take a look at it. You can expect both Adam and me to continue posting about this.

  67. 67
    Brachiator says:

    @LivinginExile:

    When Trump got elected I really thought there were enough half decent republicans that would help keep him under control. Oh well.

    Yep. I found this to be a little surprising, as well. There were conservatives who previously would at least make a little noise at being opposed to Trump. But they pretty much now shut up and fall in line.

    It’s worse than what I’ve read about the McCarthy era, where lives and careers were destroyed because of feverish suspicions that commies were lurking everywhere, and people had to publicly declare themselves to be loyal and free of taint.

    I remain optimistic because the Republicans are so baldly transparent and often quite clumsy. And Trump is a cowardly buffoon. However, I keep in mind that he enjoys causing pain to people, but for now mostly limits this to people who cannot fight back.

    The midterms were a hopeful sign. We just have to continue to build on it.

  68. 68
    lumpkin says:

    @HinTN:

    I’ve gotten that red warning page too. Several times.

  69. 69
    Raoul says:

    @hitchhiker: I too think that Trump’s despicable lie and propaganda about infanticide is a tell. A very dangerous one. His polling in Wisconsin is bad. I’m sure he was told about it. So he is raising the very false but incredibly dangerous idea that live born babies are just being looked at and decided “kill or not, hmmm” as if anyone would countenance such vileness.

    And the point isn’t for what he said to be believed. I think the press is largely ignoring it because it’s too bananapants to be considered worth repeating. But Trump was signaling to the next anti-abortion extremists (a la Scott Roeder who murdered Dr. Tiller in cold blood) to get out there and start murdering.

    It is a horrifying ratcheting up, and our political culture is unable to cope. It makes me think we’re screwed. I won’t act like we’re un crap’s creek, because we have to fight back and do all we can to win everything, up and down the ballot, over the next 18 months (city, state, national elections on whatever dates now to then!).

    But hope is tenuous at times.

  70. 70
    Brachiator says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    One of the claims (not true) during the Balkan wars of the 1990s was that Serbs were taking babies out of incubators and killing them.

    Wasn’t a version of this said about Kuwaiti babies as well?

  71. 71
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Redshift:

    Definitely, though I’m still concerned about voter registration records (which Russian hackers apparently did get into) and tabulation systems. Even if the people running things understand security, government IT is chronically underfunded. I guess I’ll get after my electeds about that, too.

    I’ve been trying to parse recent admissions (by Rubio/Scott/others) that the Florida 2016 vote might have been in some way compromised by Russians. One unsettling possibility is that this is preparation to be able to claim detection of foreign hacking (doesn’t matter much who, maybe chinese, maybe russian, maybe others) of the 2020 elections so as to be able to plausibly annul the results (political mechanism not clear). Saw this on emptywheel in a comment(mospeck, April 24, 2019):

    depressingly great stuff, Marcy,
    fingers crossed and hope rule of law wins, but right now the lawyers seem way too slow and overtaken by present events. Russians are clever and think out of the box-a lot like the Jeopardy guy. Expect Russia in 20 to bring the kitchen sink against their principal adversary. But give no forward tells, and especially hit the vote count server chains in order to try to generate a legitimate delegitimization of the 2020 election. Present admin can then plausibly, legally decertify said results.

    Anyway, something to think about. I still think that there should be a boatload of network sniffers (can do it on cheap with budget very low end/used laptops or similar) randomly distributed and logging/looking at the network traffic around the 2020 election apparatuses, as a deterrent. (Perhaps this is already happening.) But a plot like this could exploit such monitoring by injecting suspicious traffic whether or not it was actually intended to be directly malicious. (It would be indirectly malicious, yes.) A proper investigation could be dragged out to take months. (In actuality hours or days, but lawyer-types can extend such things.)

  72. 72
    Raoul says:

    @Marina: The US headline *should* be:
    President Fabricates Wild, Unfounded Accusation of Infanticide, but rather, our top news editors are frightened of their own shadows. The Post tagline about democracy and darkness? A total joke. Our ‘fourth estate’ is ruining itself in broad daylight rather than name the truth.

  73. 73
    Harbison says:

    @Bill Arnold:

    This is another example of how the republican rhetoric succeeds by tapping into very deep-seated psychological needs. Baby-killing, satanic rituals, sexual abuse of children (a la pizzagate) are purely emotional triggers. They act on the brain before logic and rationality can kick in (at least among a good percentage of the population.)

    If you look at those leading the democratic primary now, notice how closely they hew to preset narratives: Biden is the father or uncle figure and Sanders message is, almost exclusively, “the rich are screwing you.” None of these has anything to do with fitness for office or skill or policy.

    The soul of America is up for grabs in 2020 and carefully calibrated technocratic messages are going to fail miserably, the way they always do. The left – even after Trump in 2016 – fails to realize this. I have lost count of the number of posts here and elsewhere commenting that Candidate X really hasn’t laid out specific policy proposals on Subject Y yet. (Heck, this was even one of the criticisms of Biden’s announcement video.) Seriously. Seriously?

    It is utterly baffling to me that anyone can actually believe the path to the presidency is built on careful policy positions post 2016

  74. 74
  75. 75
    satby says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: an oldie but a goodie used for the first Iraq war too, when they invaded Kuwait.

  76. 76
    Raoul says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Oh, wow.

    I once again recommend George Packer’s Atlantic cover article. He lays out the ways that the Trump tactics align with the run-up to the bloody and horrible civil war in the Balkans.

    Trump’s rhetoric is chillingly aligned with the sorts of things that led to mass atrocities and (eghad, the phrase is gruesome and yet weirdly bloodless) ethnic cleansing. I may be alarmist, but I think ignoring the parallels is to our own detriment. In these rallies, Trump is telling us exactly who he is, and what he want’s his base to do. He’s fomenting civil war. Seriously. That’s what I see.

  77. 77
    Raoul says:

    @Harbison: I would apply that lesson to specific Trumpian disinformation, too.

    Laying out the ways that NICU nurses support life and would never do what Trump claims isn’t, in itself, at all a wrong thing to do. But it is woefully insufficient.

    The response has to be a howl, targeting directly back at Trump’s greatest weakness. “He’s lying to us about baby killing because he’s terrified he’s losing the 2020 race/a frightened man-child who can’t face a fact if it smacked him in the hairdoo”” or some such.

  78. 78

    @satby: Thanks. That should have a warning that the content is disturbing.

    Part of what Trump is relying on is that people feel sympathy for babies. Thinking about babies born without brains or lungs that will die shortly after birth is harder to do.

  79. 79

    @Kay:

    It’s amazing to me that conservatives don’t think the domestic terror attacks that keep happening under Trump’s watch are a problem for Trump as far as “strength”.

    That assumes conservatives have a problem with those attacks. There’s a whole lot of Talibaptists who’d be perfectly happy if there was a literal open season on people like me (and LGB folks and POC).

  80. 80
  81. 81
    NotMax says:

    @satby

    OT but very interesting (not long) read about the U.S. history of incubators.

  82. 82
    hitchhiker says:

    @Raoul:

    Maybe it’s just that I’ve finally gotten around to watching Band of Brothers, about Easy Company and its horrifying experience of the European part of WWII, but it feels like things have spun out of control.

    It doesn’t mean it’s not worth it to show up for the fight, or that these motherfuckers have a winning hand, but … we keep crossing effortlessly over what should be vast chasms.

    President says American mothers are murdering infants? Nothing. We already know he’s crazy.
    Attorney General says it’s okay to ignore subpoenas? All good. It’s just politics.
    Repeated attacks on innocent black citizens by armed police? Routine. Let’s not try to change too fast.
    Another school shooting? Arm the teachers.

    It just goes on and on. My fear is that there’s not going to be a moment when we just say with one voice, Enough. What will be enough? The possibility that 2020 goes badly is something I can’t even contemplate, and I live in Seattle, where the day to day, on the ground experience is still sane and very little of this is in my face if I don’t read the national news.

  83. 83
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Harbison:

    This is another example of how the republican rhetoric succeeds by tapping into very deep-seated psychological needs. Baby-killing, satanic rituals, sexual abuse of children (a la pizzagate) are purely emotional triggers. They act on the brain before logic and rationality can kick in (at least among a good percentage of the population.)

    Yes.
    It would be good to see one or more people with a nation-scale pulpit (media figure, or well-known politician) describe the deliberate similarities between these rhetorical devices and ages-old anti-Semitic blood libel. To call out the use of such devices, sure, but mainly to make many more people aware of them in a way that is more difficult to ignore than usual.

  84. 84
    Aleta says:

    Suggested experiment re trolls: At the beginning of the post, specify that the thread is not open to other topics. Suggest this includes engaging with/arguing with trolls.

    At blogs that are more plagued with trolls than this one, ignoring them does work. But I’ve observed that the writer in charge has to make a request of readers before it starts.

    Seems like omitting the ‘open thread’ tag doesn’t signal as well. (Perhaps the tag lines have become an organizational tool for some writers, instead of a guideline for commenters.)
    (There was also that time when the long tags became jokes.)

    Agree that ignoring trolls can be applied to conserving energy for the real fights.

  85. 85
    J R in WV says:

    Julia Pulver, that neonatal nurse, is one of the many true angels in our health care system. So many nurses go into their education not understanding that everyone dies eventually. And those dying patients all need the same loving care as the people who will get better and go home.

    You can’t tell which patients are going to get well and go home in advance, either. Some people look like they’re doing well and getting better, only to crash late tonight. And there are nurses who have never been able to deal with the fact that some of there patients are bound to die. These are the folks who take jobs with dermatologists or eye doctors, or should.

    In the month wife was in MICU with septic shock, I ran into one nurse like that. She was a swing nurse who came to work in the hospital wearing the white school nurse uniform, little white hat included. Seriously, in MICU you’re coming to work in a white uniform? Don’t plan to deal with vomit or feces or even a patient who just got her first food by mouth in a month – chocolate pudding with her fingers?

    I got to spend 18 hours a day with my wife in a coma, except for that one day when Ms White Uniform nurse was on the unit, and I got the statutory 15 minutes with her.

    Anyway, off topic a little bit. The nurses are by and large the people who save lives and care for people. You learn that when you’re in a hospital a little bit.

    And Trump. Producing those so inflammatory lies. I hope most people know already that this one is the big lie, and will reject Trump even more because of the horror of this big lie. He has lied so much I would hope that most people are aware of the habit and prepared to reject the most inflammatory BS immediately.

    Didn’t notice any trolls in this thread. IS that a good sign? I do have 3 nyms in my pie filter. I took everyone else out, even people who regularly piss me off — just because you piss me off doesn’t automatically make one a troll… it is a clue sometimes…

    I don’t miss Bob in Portland, nor any of his subsequent trollish new nyms. Truckloads of money. Brinks trucks full. right…

  86. 86
    Harbison says:

    @Raoul:

    Yes, this a thousand times.

    @Bill Arnold:

    Very true. The only person who seems to be consistently owning the media scape on the left is AOC. She’s great and all, but, seriously? Why is a first term member of congress the leading edge of the Democrats rhetorical offensive?

  87. 87
    Bill Arnold says:

    @hitchhiker:

    President says American mothers are murdering infants? Nothing.

    Democratic American mothers.
    He (DJT) is scrambling, desperately trying all the old tricks. (Very old tricks, sigh.)
    Sometimes I briefly wonder if scapegoating (Jay linked this Scapegoating the Collective), ala René Girard, is the right approach for reducing the probability of civil war. No, it’s not.

  88. 88
    Bill Arnold says:

    @J R in WV:

    Didn’t notice any trolls in this thread. IS that a good sign?

    This place is more troll-resistant than most. LGM isn’t bad either.
    Saw your comment re N. Pelosi a few days ago on emptywheel, well done. That place has some interesting comments (and commenters), just wish it weren’t threaded.

  89. 89
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @J R in WV: BiP was a vastly different persona than Brinks (and its other iterations). One was a Russophile cartoon leftie who was long-winded and tended to quote Elvis Costello lyrics and the others were right-wing trolls who eventually would start using a set of stock phrases that gave the game away.

  90. 90
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Aleta:

    At the beginning of the post, specify that the thread is not open to other topics. Suggest this includes engaging with/arguing with trolls.

    That will never work here. The commenters here are used to the freewheeling nature of most threads and, dare I say it, like the fact that threads can evolve topically over time. I doubt that any FPer is going to want to monitor threads and nuke from orbit comments about a pet that just died because it was posted in a thread about, for example, Kamala Harris’s education proposals. If the blog goes that way, it may as well got to threaded comments because it won’t be the same place.

  91. 91
    NotMax says:

    @Omnes Omnibus

    That will never work here.

    And a hearty amen for that.

  92. 92
    Ruviana says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Which was also used by the Kuwaitis when Iraq invaded Kuwait. I heard it reported as fact by the BBC but later it came out that it was actually part of a pr campaign by Kuwait to get U.S. support. Everything old is new again.

  93. 93
    raven says:

    @LivinginExile: Early 80’s. I have a book about river boats and the Addie Mae was sold to a company in Pittsburg and it sank.

    It Was Reported In Keokuk
    Tuesday March 30, 1981
    FAREWELL ADDIE MAY!

    After months of rumor & speculation that the Addie May excursion boat would not reopen for the 1981 season, the official announcement was made today that the boat has been recently sold to a Princeton, Iowa firm, bringing an end to an era of leisurely afternoon cruises or floating late-night parties

    The ADDIE MAY EXCURSION BOAT Story Courtesy Of River Ripples Midwest Riverboat Buffs
    Newsletter Spring, 1997

    Built at Grafton, Illinois, the Addie May spent her early years as a ferry at Thebes, Illinois, 44 miles above Cairo. She was a single deck vessel enclosed by a board fence. There were large, swinging gates near the bow on both sides of the boat and a few seats for pedestrians next to the pilothouse. Harry B. “POTSY” Andressen brought the boat to Keokuk in 1944 and hired a carpenter to convert her to an excursion boat. The main deck was enclosed and s second deck was added. A new pilothouse was positioned at the stern above the paddlewheel. When the work was completed in 1945, Potsy moved the boat to a new landing on the Illinois side of the river where he already operated a popular tavern and restaurant, The Pilot’s Club.

    Early in 1961, Andressen sold his business to Donald Gray of Quincy. The transaction included the Addie May as well as a home, restaurant and motel. While it wasn’t spelled out in the sales contract, Captain Potsy more or less went with the boat. “He was a big help to me,” Gray recalls. “He loved the boat and he loved people.” Potsy also continued to make his home at the landing. Vern Haulk of Bushnell
    was the regular pilot, but Andressen also helped out before Gray secured his pilot’s license. Andressen died suddenly Aug. 14 1962, at the age of 68, only a few weeks after he had renewed his license. Death was caused by a heart attack. Burial was in Oakland Cemetery in Keokuk.

    Including her paddlewheel, the Addie May was 80 feet long. Her hull was 20 feet wide with a beam of 26 feet and a draft of 28 inches. The vessel was powered by a Farmall 10-20 tractor engine. Sprockets attached to the axle drove the chains that turned the paddlewheel. At the urging of the U. S. coast Guard,
    Gray converted the boat to diesel power. “Besides the tank on the tractor, there was a large auxiliary tank behind the pilothouse and the Coast Guard thought that was too much gasoline,” Gray said. He stuck with Farmall tractors, replacing the gasoline model with a 15-30 diesel engine. The boat had a capacity of 125 passengers. Seldom did the Addie May’s cruising speed exceed 5 miles per hour and when the wind was against her, it was considerably less.

    Gray was surprised one day to meet the Addie May’s original owner, Eugene Holliday. He came aboard as a passenger and they talked about the boat’s early years. Gray also met other passengers from Thebes who remembered riding on the ferry boat. He learned something about that period when he replaced the decking. Underneath was the original fir deck with horseshoe marks made by animals pulling heavy loads. The Addie May ran charter trips during the week and public excursions on weekends, returning to the dock at one-hour intervals. During the Andressen era, fares were 50 cents for adults and 25 cents for children. After several years, Gray raised the adult fare to $1.00 and finally to $3.00. Gray continues to make his home at the old boat landing near Waggoner’s Creek.

    In 1981, Gray sold the Addie May to John Vize, East Moline, Illinois. Vize refurbished the boat and moved her to Princeton, where she opened the 1982 season as a dinner and sight-seeing enterprise. He painted her white with plenty of red trim and gave her a new name: the Belle of Princeton. A licensed pilot, Vize ran the boat and John Bridges took over the food services. The trip from Hamilton to Princeton wasn’t an easy one, Vize recalls. At Keithsburg, the boat had to maneuver her way past the fallen span of an abandoned railroad bridge. The going was very slow until the Jack D. Wofford arrived on the scene
    and took her in tow. John had his camera handy and the result was a shot which made it appear that the
    Belle of Princeton was headed upriver pushing a string of 15 empties. Vize and his wife, Marie, were married aboard the Belle on Nov. 13, 1982. John told me they were the 27th couple to speak their wedding vows on the oat. During her first year at Princeton, he said the Belle carried 10,000 passengers. She was not a financial success, however, and after two years, Vize sold his
    interest to Bridges. “She was a good boat and I hated to give her up,” he said. John has a collection of stories about the Addie May, including one from her ferry days when she rescued horses during the disastrous Mississippi flood of 1927.

    Vize said the Addie May’s bell, weighing about 300 pounds, is owned by Glen Suiter of Princeton.
    “The bell is probably worth more than the boat,” he quipped when we talked about the Addie May in 1995.
    Gray said Andressen told him he purchased the bell from Clat Adams at his famous Quincy riverfront store for $100.

    In 1986, the Addie May was on the move again, this time to Guttenberg. Chuck Lawson, who purchased the boat from Bridges, termed himself “an Iowa farm boy who is fulfilling a boyhood dream.” Lawson’s introduction to riverboating turned out to be a rough one. The move from Princeton to Guttenberg took four days. Struggling against April high water and strong headwinds, the boat averaged only two miles per hour on the 110-mile trip. Starting May 1, what was now the Belle of Guttenberg offered evening dinner cruises to Cassville, Wisconsin, and back.
    Lawson’s dream didn’t pan out and after about a year and a half, the boat moved upriver to Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. The new owner was Raymond L. Childs, who provided both dinner cruises and chartered narrated cruises. Childs billed the boat as “the oldest operating authentic paddlewheeler on the Mississippi.” Her new name, Belle of Prairie du Chien, was painted on both sides of the lower deck in letters two feet high. But picture postcards used for advertising continued to carry the Addie May name. Despite three different Belle labels, her original name prevailed. But the spelling of Addie May was another matter. Even Captain Potsy got it wrong when he used Addie Mae on his picture postcards.

    In 1992, Childs sold the boat to the Pennsylvania Riverboat Corp., making a 1,700-mile delivery trip from Prairie du Chien to Monongahela, Pennsylvania. Her new home port was on the Monongahela River, 30 river miles from Pittsburgh where the Allegheny and the Monongahela join to form the Ohio River. At the invitation of Childs, Donald Gray took his last ride on the Addie May on June 18, 1992. He boarded the boat at Lock 19 at Keokuk and rode with Childs and his crew to Lock 20 at Canton, Mo. Gray saw the Addie May once more during a tip east in October, 1994. He found her docked at Marina One Resort at the town of Monongahela, but there was no one aboard and no one to answer his questions.
    According to a local newspaper story, the boat began sight-seeing cruises between the towns of Charleroi and Elizabeth in September, 1992. There was also an evening dance cruise which included dinner at Marina One’s Riverwatch Restaurant. There was a photograph of the boat and her skipper, Capt. Jay Mock, with Marina One Riverboat painted in large letters below the cabin windows and Addie May inscribed on the front corners. The boat was also resplendent in startling new colors that would have embarrassed some of her former owners—pink and turquoise!
    Last fall, Pat Welsh, friend and fellow riverman, received an unconfirmed report that the Addie May had sunk on the Monongahela River. He passed it on to other Midwest Riverboat Buff members and a laborious search for details began. A telephone call to the U. S. Coast Guard’s marine safety office in Pittsburgh produced the first shred of solid information. Lt. David Fish remembered that the Addie May was one of many casualties of a devastating flood that struck the Upper Ohio and its tributaries in January, 1996.
    He supplied the name and phone number of Gabe Centofanti of West Elizabeth, Pa., and a fascinating story began to unfold.
    Gabe is owner of Centofanti Marine Service, a large repair operation at Mile 24.5 on the Monongahela River. As a river historian, he also has an affinity for old boats. “The Addie May got off to a bad start when she arrived on the Mon,” he told me during our February telephone conversation. “The boat crashed into the Marine One dock and damaged the hull. Then the pilot got off the boat and fell over with a heart attack.” Presumably, this was Raymond Childs. “They called an ambulance and rushed him to the hospital, but it wasn’t too long until he was released,” Gabe said.

    The boat’s new owner was John DiMarco, who operated a vending business in the Pittsburgh area. “He bought Marina One, which has a terrible location and poor access. Then he decided he needed an excursion boat to help draw a crowd to the marina,” Centofanti said.
    After the accident, they put the Addie May on Centofanti’s dry dock to assess the damage. “The Coast Guard people took one look and were ready to pick up the boat’s Certificate of Inspection,” Gabe said. “But DiMarco was a good talker and he persuaded the Coast Guard to allow him to make sufficient repairs to finish the 1992 season.”

    The repair work was done at Centofanti’s yard. “We replaced the stern plating. We installed four thrusters at the corners, two forward and two aft, and used them for propulsion. We also installed a new diesel generator and replaced the old clutch and throttle. The owner also did a lot of interior refurbishing,” Gabe added.

    In 1993, the marina was sold and the Addie May was part of the transaction. Centofanti said he didn’t know the buyer’s name, but the boat remained at her old dock. “They had her out in the river several times, but she never carried any passengers,” he added. Later in 1993, the owner surrendered the boat’s certificate, apparently because he found it too costly to meet Coast Guard inspection standards. As far as Gabe knows, the boat never left the dock during the 1994 and 1995 seasons.

    The January flood of 1996 was one of the worst in the history of the Pittsburgh area. “The Mon came up so fast you could have surfed on it,” Gabe said. The Addie May was lost on Jan. 19, one day before the flood crested. Centofanti said he was standing watch in the pilothouse of one of his townboats about 4 a.m. when he saw something coming downriver. “At first, all I could see was railing. Then I got a searchlight on it and I knew it was the Addie May.”
    When Gabe spotted her, she had already traveled more than five miles from the spot where the killer flood had torn her from her moorings. Now she was bearing down on Dam 3, less than a mile downstream. “She made it over the dam in good shape,” Gabe said.
    “She had lots of wood in her and she was riding high.” But the worst was still to come. Dam 3 is located a Mile 24 and the river below is dominated by a procession of bridges. “Somewhere in there she broke up and was gone,” Gabe said. “She never made it past the town of Clairton at Mile 20.”
    It was the Addie May’s last trip. After 73 years, she left a lot of mourners

    Photo; The Addie May, circa the early 1960s.

  94. 94
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @raven: Do you have any idea how much space this sucks up on a phone?

  95. 95
    LivinginExile says:

    @raven: Thanks! Very interesting article. 79-80 I was in the Peace Corp in Africa, then briefly in Atlanta, then back in New Orleans, so I wouldn’t have been around when she left. Kind of a sad story – a piece of history gone.

  96. 96
    RAVEN says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: XIN LOI LT!

  97. 97
    raven says:

    @LivinginExile: I lived in Champaign Urbana from 69-84. We’d drive these insane caravans over there and party like it was 1999!

  98. 98
    Comrade Colette Collaboratrice says:

    @Barney:

    The “babykillers” claim is a tried and tested ruse that the right has been using for decades, and Trump is bound to use it more.

    I fully expect his next step in this insane, evil, appalling neonatal-murder-plot garbage will be that the doctors supposedly doing it are Jewish.

  99. 99
    LivinginExile says:

    @raven:I graduated from high school in 72. in Carthage. Hell,I probably saw you roll through and thought Road Warrior had hit town.

  100. 100
    msdc says:

    @Leto: Yes, amen.

    “Don’t feed the trolls” places the moderators’ responsibility on the commenters. It is absolutely unworkable in practice–you will never get an entire commentariat to ignore a troll, and it only takes one.

    Nuke ban them from orbit. It’s the only way.

  101. 101
    W. Kiernan says:

    @UncleEbeneezer: What I think is that this was similar to the 9/11 hijacking trick, in that it will only work once. After 9/11/01 everybody knew what they were up against; no handful of thugs armed with knives will ever be able to hijack a plane when they’re outnumbered fifty to one by the other passengers again.

    Back in 2016 a crucially large lot of not-very-sharp voters fell for the Russian line that a.) Bernie wuz robbed!!! and b.) rather than vote for the corporate candidate Hillary, voters with a populist bent should vote for the populist Trump, or at least throw their votes in the garbage by casting a “protest vote” for a candidate with zero chance of actually winning. Sure, the Russians and the Republican trolls are still hard at it with their both-siderism, but you’d have to be outstandingly stupid to mistake Trump for a populist these days. And, after the primary, when people see the inevitable comments saying “[my preferred candidate] wuz robbed!!! vote for Jill Stein instead!!!” they’ll recognize that these commenters are simply covertly campaigning for Trump.

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    […] to the commenters on an earlier Balloon Juice thread for pointing out how many times this attack has been used […]

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