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A danger to democracy... [Nov. 25th, 2016|12:11 pm]
One of the most underplayed stories in the election was the strong belief by US intelligence that Russia was screwing with the election. That, combined with this XKCD comic, should be pretty scary:

Digby discusses this here: http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2016/11/trumps-little-helpers.html. But there's another issue to consider.

In a healthy democratic society, a sufficiently nasty attack should be rejected by all sides. No one would spread false stories about Hillary Clinton's health, or make false criminal accusations against a political opponent. In a healthy society, Republicans would want to see Trump win because more people wanted, say, Roe vs. Wade overturned, or corporate taxes reduced, or the ACA thrown out so millions of people could lose health insurance.

As John McCain once refused to let a lie of that nature stand, and said that Obama is a "decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States," so too should any opposition party member be willing to stand up for basic decency against the other party.

This, of course, gets muddled in an election in which a candidate questions our alliances, goes on late night Twitter rants against people who wound his pride, turns a cowardly stance into a blow against "political correctness"[1], threatens to jail an innocent woman for having the audacity to *slaughter* him in the debates, etc., etc..

But the main point is, it should be very difficult for Russia, or anyone, to engage in too much manipulation of the electorate. They might move a few voters at the margins, but the kind of slander that can truly move the results should be nearly impossible, in any healthy democracy.

A good many years back, the Republicans fell in love with the idea of injecting themselves into a family argument over whether to continue medical treatment for a woman who had very little brain tissue remaining - most of her brain had died, and the absence of this brain tissue was clearly visible - the damage left her in a persistent vegetative state.

Following the court record is extremely revealing. The courts found that there was clear and convincing evidence that she would choose to end treatment in these circumstances. The reasons for this decision were laid out extremely well by the judge - one side seemed dishonest and untrustworthy, both in their actions, and their demeanor; they didn't seem to be providing information about her wishes, but instead seemed angry over another matter and were letting that drive their testimony. The other side seemed quite honest, and willing to admit to facts that cast doubt on their stories, and so forth.

In accordance with Florida law, the judge found that there was clear and convincing evidence that the woman had made verbal wishes known to relatives, and those wishes should be carried out. (While written wishes are certainly safer, would you want your desire to be disregarded, just because you never got to writing them down - or lost the form, etc.?)

So the judge ordered that treatment be ended. Note: not to allow her husband to end treatment, but that treatment be ended, in accordance with the woman's wishes. Her guardian (which was her husband) was not "allowed" to do something, but was in fact instructed to do it.

Personally, I feel certain that there was one, and only one, reason why the GOP injected themselves into this. Because they wanted to get on TV and ask "Why do liberals want this poor woman to die?"

It's a filthy and despicable tactic - to work against the rule of law, to work against a helpless woman's wishes (as decided to the best standard we had available), to cast doubt on the judiciary, all to slander their opposition, and in a particularly ugly sort of way - to cast doubt on their opposition's compassion for a helpless, injured woman. They lied about her medical state; they lied by omission about the laws, the actions of the court, and the fairness of her treatment by the courts; they misled their trusting followers to believing that over a dozen judges could overlook fundamental points in the law.

Along the way, they watched an innocent man - one described as a "nursing home nightmare" for his watchful care for his wife, and one who allowed the family to have their say, by asking the court to rule on his wife's wishes - be vilified.

It's possible that they did this just to win the news cycle and have an attack against Democrats. That would be pretty hideous, but it's what I'm forced to conclude is the truth.

But I must grant that they might have gone along out of fear of losing their jobs to another, if they didn't satisfy their constituents in this matter. If so, this is both cowardice, and a perfect cusp-point, where they could say "guys, we're playing this game too hard; we have to do terrible things just to keep the game going."[2]

When one political party is either deliberately doing this, or letting this happen through cowardice, then it becomes trivial to interfere with elections... because any clumsy hatchet job can be passed around, and all that will happen is participation will be disavowed.

Disavowed? You know, like a Republican saying "I'm not saying Barack Obama is not a US citizen, but I think it's a fine question for my constituents to ask!" Is there are slimier, or more cowardly response, when Barack Obama's birthplace of Hawaii was well established? I'm sure there is, but I'm pleased with the state of my mind that I can't imagine one.

Our society, and our nation, is at risk, from enemies, both foreign and domestic. And it is the domestic enemies that are opening the doorway to allow the foreign enemies to attack us, and our rightful government.

[1] refusing Muslim refugees is a cowardly response to the risks posed by people fleeing war zones. Courage is the virtue of doing the thing thing, even when you're scared; helping people fleeing a war, especially when our nation took actions that may have helped inflame the situation, is the right thing to do. There is risk, sure; it's non-zero. But to refuse all refugees until some magical "enhanced screening" touchstone appears is to let fear prevent one from doing the right thing. "Cowardice" is the correct term for the vice that leads one to act wrongly, due to fear.

[2]I must also grant that it's possible they injected themselves into this without bothering to read the court records. This is the sort of gross negligence which should be met, not just with scorn, but with real anger: if a person is too dumb to do basic diligence, how could they take such an important action without engaging someone who was able to explain it to them? Having done so, how can they fail to resign and hand the job over to someone with basic competence?