Hiding In Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America by Sarah KendziorSarah Kendzior (Flatiron Books)

The rise of Donald Trump may have shocked Americans, but it should not have surprised them. His anti-democratic movement is the culmination of a decades-long breakdown of U.S. institutions. The same blindness to U.S. decline – particularly the loss of economic stability for the majority of the population and opportunity-hoarding by the few – is reflected in an unwillingness to accept that authoritarianism can indeed thrive in the so-called “home of the free”.

As Americans struggle to reconcile the gulf between a flagrant aspiring autocrat and the democratic precepts they had been told were sacred and immutable, the inherent fragility of American democracy has been revealed. Hiding in Plain Sight exposes this continual loss of freedom, the rise of consolidated corruption, and the secrets behind a burgeoning autocratic United States that have been hiding in plain sight for decades. In Kendzior’s signature and celebrated style, she expertly outlines Trump’s meteoric rise from the 1980s until today, interlinking key moments of his life with the degradation of the American political system and the continual erosion of our civil liberties by foreign powers.

Kendzior also offers a never-before-seen look at her personal life and her lifelong tendency to be in the wrong place at the wrong time – living in New York through 9/11 and in St. Louis during the Ferguson uprising, and researching media and authoritarianism when Trump emerged using the same tactics as the post-Soviet dictatorships she had long studied.

Hiding in Plain Sight is about confronting injustice – an often agonizing process, but an honest and necessary one – as the only way that offers the possibility of ending it.

I have favorite books. This is not one of them.

I have books I want to suggest to people. This is not one either.

This book is not enjoyable. It is sobering. Reading it is like sinking into ice-cold water. Every fact is laid out crystal-clear, with the piercing pain of a truth you knew but hoped you could ignore. I could only read a couple pages each sitting before I had to walk away.

And yet, it’s possibly the most important book I’ve ever read. With grim steadiness, Kendzior draws on her experience studying autocratic states to establish that we in the US are experiencing an autocratic consolidation of power, hardly different from those seen in former democracies such as the Ukraine or Hungary. She draws careful connections between several Republican operatives, as well as many White House officials and Trump himself, and powerful figures in the shadows who have sought for years to, as she puts it, “strip America down and sell it for parts”.

It is about the decline of America and the rise of Donald Trump. It is an obituary for American exceptionalism. It is a desperate warning.

I can’t just suggest this book. It’s not just good. It’s imperative. It’s necessary. I want to plead with you:

If you never take any other recommendation from me, please read this book.

Please. Read it soon.

Because before long, it may be too late to matter.

a post (gRegorLove)

Hey Spencer, thanks for the kind words.

Have you seen indiebookclub.biz? That’s a little tool I’ve put together that makes it easier to post those read posts to your site. It’s via Micropub and there is an indieweb plugin that adds Micropub support to Wordpress sites, so you might be closer to achieving this than you think!

I’m not super familiar with the WordPress plugin, but the IndieWeb WordPress community would be happy to help with any questions. There’s a dedicated chat channel for WordPress if you want to stop by. More details at indieweb.org/discuss.

Hey gRegor! Thanks for the response. I really love being able to ping back and forth from my own site like this–man, the IndieWeb is cool. 😁

I hadn’t seen IndieBookClub, so thank you for the recommendation! I haven’t looked into Micropub at all yet. Maybe it would behoove me to do so.

And I appreciate the link to the IndieWeb chat. I’m an infrequent face in there, especially in #wordpress. I think I’m a little concerned about asking too many support questions!

Thanks again.

What Is Communist Anarchism? (The Anarchist Library/Vanguard Press)

What Is Communist Anarchism? is an introduction to the principles of anarchism and anarchist communism written by Alexander Berkman. First published in 1929 by Vanguard Press, after parts of it had appeared in the Freie Arbeiter Stimme, it has been reprinted several times under several different titles, including Now and After: The ABC of Communist Anarchism and What is Anarchism? Because of its presentation of anarchist philosophy in plain language, What Is Communist Anarchism? has become one of the best-known introductions to anarchism in print. Anarchist Stuart Christie wrote that this text is "among the best introductions to the ideas of anarchism in the English language". Historian Paul Avrich described it as "a classic" and wrote that it was "the clearest exposition of communist anarchism in English or any other language".

An incredibly thorough and accessible primer that still holds up 91 years later. Berkman writes with clarity and charisma.

I’d recommend this to damn near anyone.

gRegorLove.com: Reading by gRegor Morrill (gRegorLove)
A summary of what gRegor Morrill is reading and wants to read.

I really like what gRegor has done here, by aggregating his to-read and reading posts to form an overview of his reading.

I wish I were handy enough to make this happen for myself, but I’m so totally clueless when it comes to development. I also frequently feel like I’m fighting against WordPress to really IndieWebify my site.

I’m not used to thinking of my website as less than, like, 90% of what I want from it. But since discovering the IndieWeb, my dreams for my site here have far outpaced what I’m currently capable of, so I’m stuck looking at things like gRegor’s Reading page and admiring them but feeling incapable of properly making them happen myself.

It’s a bind!

The Answer to All of Your Social Distancing Loophole Questions Is No by Rachel Miller (Vice)

In late March, the director of the CDC warned that 25 percent of COVID-19 cases could be asymptomatic. Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is advising the White House on coronavirus, said last week the figure could be as high as 50 percent. FIFTY PERCENT!!! One out of every two people could be carriers and not know it. You could be a carrier and not know it.

But a lot of folks are still approaching coronavirus from a place of, What are my personal odds of illness, and, if I get sick, of surviving the illness? versus, How can I not harm other people? It’s not just people who have been inside for a couple weeks without symptoms, either; people who are sick are engaging in astonishing mental gymnastics to convince themselves that, yes, they might have COVID-19, but they aren’t actually that contagious, and anyway, they are bored and want to go for a jog, so can you please leave them alone about it!!!

...Viruses don’t operate by potential carriers’ best intentions. They operate exclusively by our actions. No one is leaving their house thinking, I am going to be the superspreader who kills a bunch of people by running some errands/taking a walk with my friend/meeting up with a Tinder date today. Yet thousands and thousands of people have died.

COVID-19
Radicalized by Cory DoctorowCory Doctorow
Four short stories about the near future and the dystopia we're building for ourselves.

Doctorow is quickly becoming one of my favorite sci-fi writers, because he understands how sci-fi can help us understand our present and imagine different futures. These four short stories are each grim in their own ways, but they also contain within them the seeds of better futures: futures built on cooperation and justice. I want Cory Doctorow in my commune when society collapses.

This book is a nice companion to Doctorow’s Walkaway.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky ChambersBecky Chambers

When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn't expecting much. The Wayfarer, a patched-up ship that's seen better days, offers her everything she could possibly want: a small, quiet spot to call home for a while, adventure in far-off corners of the galaxy, and distance from her troubled past.

But Rosemary gets more than she bargained for with the Wayfarer. The crew is a mishmash of species and personalities, from Sissix, the friendly reptilian pilot, to Kizzy and Jenks, the constantly sparring engineers who keep the ship running. Life on board is chaotic, but more or less peaceful - exactly what Rosemary wants.

Until the crew are offered the job of a lifetime: the chance to build a hyperspace tunnel to a distant planet.

Optimistic spacefaring sci-fi! Grounding the story in the idea of family was excellent, and really made the story sing for me. I loved the anthropological angle as we were introduced to different sentient species and their cultures. I would definitely hang with Aandrisks.

I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

See more of my thoughts here.