How Rome Destroyed Its Own Republic
Augustus told Romans he was the only one who could save Rome. And they believed him.
Imagine a world in which political norms have broken down. Senators use bad faith arguments to block the government from getting anything done. An autocrat rigs elections and gives himself complete control over the government. Even stranger, many voters subscribe to the autocrat’s personality cult and agree that he should have absolute control.
Welcome to Rome in the first century B.C.E. The republic that had existed for over 400 years had finally hit a crisis it couldn’t overcome. Rome itself wouldn’t fall, but during this period it lost its republic forever.
The man who played the biggest role in disrupting Rome’s republic was Augustus Caesar, who made himself the first emperor of Rome in 27 B.C.E. By that point, the republic’s political norms had been breaking down for about a century, and Augustus was in a position to take advantage of that.
Before that century, “there had been a really long period where the republic functioned,” says Edward J. Watts, author of the new book Mortal Republic: How Rome Fell Into Tyranny. Political norms were heeded; and when the government ran into a new problem, it would amend itself to keep working. For over 300 years, the republic operated this way. There was no political violence, land theft or capital punishment, because those went against the political norms Rome had established.
Then, in 133 B.C.E., Rome experienced its first political murder in the history of the republic. Senators were angry that Tiberius Gracchus, an elected official who had tried to redistribute land to the poor, was seeking a second term as tribune of the plebs. During a fight that broke out between Tiberius’s followers and opponents, senators beat him to death with wooden chairs and helped murder nearly 300 of his followers.
Establishing Control of the Press
When Adolf Hitler took power in 1933, the Nazis controlled less than three percent of Germany’s 4,700 papers.
The elimination of the German multi-party political system brought about the demise of hundreds of newspapers produced by outlawed political parties. It also allowed the state to seize the printing plants and equipment of the Communist and Social Democratic Parties, which were often turned over directly to the Nazi Party. In the following months, the Nazis established control or exerted influence over independent press organs.
During the first weeks of 1933, the Nazi regime deployed the radio, press, and newsreels to stoke fears of a pending “Communist uprising,” then channeled popular anxieties into political measures that eradicated civil liberties and democracy. SA (Storm Troopers) and members of the Nazi elite paramilitary formation, the SS, took to the streets to brutalize or arrest political opponents and incarcerate them in hastily established detention centers and concentration camps. Nazi thugs broke into opposing political party offices, destroying printing presses and newspapers.
Sometimes using holding companies to disguise new ownership, executives of the Nazi Party-owned publishing house, Franz Eher, established a huge empire that drove out competition and purchased newspapers at below-market prices. Some independent newspapers, particularly conservative newspapers and non-political illustrated weeklies, accommodated to the regime through self-censorship or initiative in dealing with approved topics.
Must the House vote to conduct an impeachment inquiry?
Cipollone wrote: “the House of Representatives has never attempted to launch an impeachment inquiry against the President without a majority of the House taking political accountability for that decision by voting to authorize such a dramatic constitutional step.”
The House has taken such a formal step in the past, including most recently with the impeachment of then-President Bill Clinton.
Pelosi has not called for such a vote but announced last month that the House is conducting “an official impeachment inquiry.”
However, a former senior House Republican aide told NPR that “there is a difference between what the House should do and what the House has to do.”
The former aide, an expert on House rules who asked not to be identified because he is criticizing his own party, argued that it’s best practice to have a vote of the full House.
But there is nothing in the Constitution or in the rules of the House that compel a full House vote to authorize an impeachment inquiry. Pelosi is breaking with precedent but not rules or the law.
Meanwhile, Turkey and Russia announced they would jointly patrol most of the northeastern Syrian border with Turkey, underscoring the effects of the US creating a power vacuum the Russians have been quick to fill.
In Washington, DC, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, typically a strong Trump supporter, introduced legislation prodding the president to halt the withdrawal.
The climate crisis will not be formally discussed at the G7 summit in June next year, Donald Trump’s acting White House chief of staff said on Thursday.
“Climate change will not be on the agenda,” Mick Mulvaney told reporters, without elaborating.
Mulvaney announced that the 2020 summit of seven of the world’s most powerful industrialised countries will take place at the National Doral Miami, one of the president’s golf resorts in Florida, despite widespread ethics concerns and an ongoing impeachment inquiry into Trump’s conduct.
From weakening regulation on vehicle emissions to blocking warnings about how coastal parks could flood and withdrawing funding for conservation programs, the Trump administration is accused of consistently ignoring, burying and undermining climate science.
Mr. Trump’s misogyny is more than a personal proclivity. He has hired an astoundingly small number of women for positions in his administration (and even fewer people of color). He is happy to join forces with the religious right to curtail women’s rights at home and abroad, signing, for example, legislation that makes it harder for vulnerable women in developing countries to get birth control. And of course his very presence in the White House excuses the kind of behavior he exhibited on tape, on the radio with Howard Stern, and in print. It tells women and girls that we aren’t valuable for our hard work, our intelligence, or our accomplishments, but that our purpose in the world is to please men. Even more dangerously, it tells men and boys the same thing: That women are disposable objects, useful for sex and childbearing but not human beings deserving of respect and dignity, let alone power.
The asbestos national ban was a particularly significant victory for Canada’s building trades, and of course the Insulators, who work on the front lines helping to protect society from the harms of this deadly substance and often put themselves, their families and loved ones in harm’s way.
The Insulators led the charge for the asbestos ban. They are also holding the government accountable to ensure they follow through on their promise – and part of following through is addressing the legacy left behind in our buildings and our workers. Canada’s Insulators are focused on supporting a national strategy for dealing with the legacy of asbestos, starting with a National Patient Registry for Mesothelioma – the very rare type of cancer whose victims can almost always trace their disease back to asbestos exposure.
Working closely with Canada’s Building Trades Union (CBTU), the Insulators are advocating for the patient registry as part of completing the work begun under the asbestos ban. In July, International Vice President Paul Faulkner and Local 95 Government and Community Relations Director Adam Melnick, joined forces with CBTU Executive Director Arlene Dunn and Dr. Alec Farquhar, from Asbestos Free Canada, in a pivotal meeting with the office of the Minister of Labour to discuss this proposal. This meeting was the culmination of considerable lobbying over many months, including the submission of a detailed briefing notes prepared in collaboration with the Canadian Mesothelioma Foundation.
President Donald J. Trump’s surprise decision to abandon the Kurds and sign off on Turkey’s operation in Syria drew condemnation in the West, but was cheerfully welcomed in Russia, and, for those who follow Russia closely, the contrast revived the ghosts of Helsinki, where Trump’s surrender of American values was on full display.
There in Finland last year, the leader of the most powerful country in the world demonstrated cringeworthy servility toward Vladimir Putin—president of a rogue government sanctioned by the West for a great number of malign activities, including Russia’s brazen interference in the U.S. elections.
The world’s pariah looked triumphant next to the deflated American president. As Trump stood hunched over, with a blank expression, Putin was practically glowing—and he wanted the world to know just how great the meeting went for Russia. Putin held up a thick stack of his notes with both hands, showing them off for the world to see, in effect giving himself the thumbs-up.
Close-up of Putin’s notes shows the following list of topics, from what I can decipher:
1. “Interference” (in quotes) – proposal
2. #Ukraine – new ideas, transit of gas
3. Syria – joint humanitarian efforts pic.twitter.com/KvqiyCTuuW
— Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) July 16, 2018
Advisers to US President Donald Trump promised he would take a “philosophical” approach in his speech to the United Nations. If it was philosophy, it was that of an adolescent schoolyard bully threatening to beat up any challenger.
Of course, it is worse because Trump has an arsenal of several thousand nuclear weapons at his fingertips. Even so, it was stunning to hear Trump threaten “to totally destroy” North Korea if Kim Jong-un refused to cease his nuclear ambitions.
Kim Jong-un brands Trump a ‘mentally deranged dotard’ in rare direct response to UN speech
It is past time for other world leaders to come together and show global leadership to challenge Trump on issues including climate change and environmental degradation, growing gaps between rich and poor across the world, persecution of minorities for their race or religion and the dangerous rise of nationalism – none of which Trump mentioned – as well as the threats of nuclear North Korea, mass migration and terrorism.
Oct. 8, 2019 at 11:50 a.m. EDT
President Trump announced Tuesday that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit Washington next month, a day after bipartisan anger erupted about Trump’s decision to pull back U.S. troops supporting Kurdish forces in Syria.
Trump has sent mixed messages to the region since announcing that decision, which would leave the Kurds vulnerable to a Turkish attack. The Turkish government views the Syrian Kurds, who were critical to the defeat of the Islamic State in Syria, as terrorists allied with Kurdish separatists in Turkey.