Weimar America — Eric Weitz at Moyers and Company says it’s not the candidate but the electorate that brings about the dictators.
All around the Web, in print, and on radio comes the claim that America has entered its “Weimar” phase. Economic collapse, political paralysis, rampant homosexuality, a desperate, disoriented populace open to the ravings of a demagogue – that is the portrait we get of Germany between the end of World War I in 1918 and the Nazi seizure of power in 1933. That is where America is supposedly situated in 2016.
Yes, Weimar Germany ended badly, horribly so. But the America of today bears little similarity to Germany in the 1920s and early 1930s. America is a society ripped through by gaping inequalities, but it is hardly in a state of economic collapse. It still boasts the world’s largest economy and it has recovered from the Great Recession far better than many others in the Western world. America is still a powerful country internationally, one that deploys its military at will, something that Germany, suffering under the strictures of the Versailles Peace Treaty, could never attempt. Yes, there’s political paralysis in Washington, yet it barely rises to the level of Weimar Germany, where over 20 parties were represented in the Reichstag and the country was governed by a presidential dictatorship for the three years prior to the Nazi takeover.
Moreover, commentators right and left, focused only on the negatives and the disasters that ensued – the Third Reich, World War II, and the Holocaust — leave out so much about the great democratic experiment that was the Weimar Republic. Germans had greater political freedoms than ever before. A vast program of public housing moved hundreds of thousands out of dank tenements into modern, light-filled apartments. Public health clinics sprang up all around the country, and many of them offered sexual counseling to a population that physicians claimed lacked fundamental knowledge about reproduction and the pleasures of the body and lived in sexual misery. Literature, philosophy, music theater and film all flourished, much of it new, edgy and experimental. Brecht and Weill’s Threepenny Opera, Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time – these and much more are great markers of 20th century Western culture that we still read, view and hear with pleasure and profit.
The lessons to be learned from Weimar Germany are not the ones we hear and read about today. Weimar Germany did not collapse under the weight of its various crises. It was actively destroyed by a conservative elite – noble landowners, high-level state officials, businessmen, army officers – that chose to ally with the Nazi Party. As we watch the Republican establishment’s ineffectual flailings to stop Donald Trump, it’s worth remembering that Weimar Germany’s old-style conservatives never really liked Hitler and the Nazis either. To them, the Nazis were too loud, uncouth, low class. But they admired Hitler’s nationalism, his promise to revive Germany’s great power status, his opposition to democracy, and his anti-communism. And they were either indifferent to or actively supported the Nazis’ anti-Semitism.
The conservative elite got much more than they had bargained for with their willingness to turn political power over to the Nazis. Some would live to regret their choice, many not until American and British bombs rained down on Hamburg, Berlin and other cities and the Red Army approached the gates.
But the conservatives had made Hitler and the Nazis salonfähig, as one says in German. Colloquially in English, that means “acceptable in polite society.” That is the real lesson from Weimar Germany and the real danger – when traditional or moderate conservatives throw in their lot with radical conservatives. The moderates may not like the radicals, may not embrace them, but when other alternatives have failed, they bring the radicals into the fold, claim that power will inevitably moderate their more wild side, reassure the population that the radicals are really not that bad after all.
That is where we are today with Donald Trump. Trump is not a fascist or a neo-Nazi, as some have claimed, though he has certainly made countless racist and misogynist comments. He has also proclaimed a blatant disregard for laws, treaties and constitutional provisions in an America that is supposed to be governed by the rule of law. While some Republicans are back pedaling and trying to block a Trump nomination, we are still being treated to the spectacle of many Republican candidates and office holders asserting that they will support him if he is chosen by the party. These are the people who are making Trump salonfähig.
The real issue is not whether Trump is a modern-day Hitler or Mussolini. The problem lies deeper: with the social and political mores that have made possible his crude nativism and contempt for social progress. Democrats and Republicans alike have been marveling at his success as if it were a bolt out of the blue. Yet for years now Republicans have been bowing before the idol of radical conservatism. They have cowered before the tea party and have stashed the party coffers with immense contributions from the Koch brothers’ operation. The people who are now struggling to stop Trump are the same ones who made his views salonfähig.
In America today, the major threats do not come from abroad. They lie within, from those who claim to believe in democracy yet undermine its substance by deploying great wealth in the political process and devaluing the diversity of American society. And the danger comes especially from those who perhaps should know better, but make anti-democratic, radical conservatives salonfähig. That is the real lesson to be taken from Weimar Germany.
The Password is “Money” — David Murphy at PC Magazine on how cheaply some folks will sell out their company.
“Everybody has a price,” as the World Wrestling Entertainment’s Ted DiBiase used to boast. While it’s true that there are plenty of people out there who are willing to keep their company’s secrets private no matter the cost, many would be happy to turn over everything from private information to passwords for a little (or a lot of) cash.
According to new research from SailPoint, around 20 percent of respondents to a recent survey indicated they would sell their passwords to a third party if paid to do so. The survey went out to 1,000 office workers at companies with 1,000 or more employees (located in Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the U.S.). Based on the responses, it doesn’t appear as if it would take very much money to encourage quite a few employees to cough up their credentials.
“In last year’s survey, we were astonished to see that not only were respondents willing to sell their passwords to a third party (1 in 7), but they were willing to do it for as little as $150,” reads SailPoint’s 2016 Market Pulse Survey. “Twenty percent shared passwords with their co-workers, and a little more than half (56 percent) shared passwords among applications. This year, even among a larger concern for their personal information’s security, the percentage of those willing to risk corporate data either through apathy, negligence, or financial gain only increased.
“This year, we found that 1 in 5 respondents would sell their passwords to a third-party organization and a staggering 44 percent of them would do it for less than $1,000. Even more concerning? Some would sell their corporate credentials for less than $100.”
Breaking down the figures by geography, more workers in the United States (27 percent) indicated they would be willing to sell their passwords if asked than any other measured region. Only 12 percent of respondents in the Netherlands and Australia would do the same.
In general, the number of office workers who would be willing to sell their passwords is up 42 percent from the previous year’s survey. In the U.S., 40 percent of those who said they would sell their passwords would do so for less than $1,000. Office workers in the United Kingdom were most willing to sell their passwords for less money (52 percent), and those in the Netherlands were the least likely (33 percent).
“Considering the average organization size for the corporations from which our respondents are employed is about 50,000, that means it’s possible that 10,000 users at any of those enterprises would sell their password, and 4,400 sell theirs for less than $1,000. [That’s] 32,500 share passwords among applications and nearly 17,000 share passwords with their co-workers,” reads SailPoint’s report.
That said, you might not get very much for your credentials anyway (depending on where you work and what you have access to). Even if there’s some way that your passwords could allow a third party to access a bunch of credit card data, for example, that’s not going to make you a millionaire. You’re better off coughing up your own bank account number.
Test Anxiety — John Flowers at The New Yorker gets sample questions from the final at Trump University.
Below you will find three examples of questions from previous final exams at Trump University. Use these sample questions and the answer key provided to prepare for next week’s big test.
1. Two plus two equals what?
(a) Maybe four.
(b) Could be four. Could be. Lotta people saying it’s five.
(c) I’m not saying it’s five; I’m saying it could be—could be five. You see these establishment hacks, losers, like Mitt Romney? Real crank. They hate me. They take answers like “could be” and say, “Oh, he says two plus two equals five.” I never said that. I never—I said “could be.” Could be six. We don’t know.
(d) All of the above.
(e) None of the above.
(f) D and E.
2. Describe a major theme of “The Old Man and the Sea.”
(a) Well, the theme is big. That I can assure you. Definitely no problem in the theme department. Quite big. Quite.
(b) I know what you want me to say here. You want me to say “yuge.” Well, I’m not. I’m not gonna say that.
(c) Should I say it? . . . No. I’m not gonna say it. But it is.
(d) Now—and I don’t even wanna bring it up—but you got a lot of people. I’m not going to mention names. O.K., Marco. You got Little Marco, who has a tiny theme. No, it’s true. Very small. Probably why he’s outta the race. Seriously, find me one person who says there was a big theme behind that campaign. But anyway, here’s Little Marco, saying I’m the one with the small theme. Can you believe that? Says I’m like Santiago in “The Old Man and the Sea.” Says I sometimes lose my harpoon—you know, prematurely—when I try to reel in the big fish. Totally not true.
(e) In fact, reminds me of the time I tried to get a date with Brooke Shields. Remember Brooke Shields? Gorgeous. Not like my wife. Gorgeous, though. I asked her out. She said no. Career went downhill after that. Left me like Santiago at the end of the book, hauling this gigantic mast home with nothing to show for my troubles.
(f) Seriously, “The Old Man and the Sea”? Please. Santiago’s not a winner. Here’s what you need to read: “The Art of the Deal.” Best book since the Bible. Probably better. People say that. I don’t. People do. Bible was, like, God with sixty ghostwriters. “The Art of the Deal” was just me, dictating to Tony Schwartz. Great guy. Takes dictation better than Moses.
3. H2O is the chemical symbol for what compound?
(a) What the hell’s “huh-twenty”?
(b) No, that’s what it says, “huh-twenty.” Or maybe the “H” is silent. I dunno.
(c) I didn’t say “huh-twenty.” You said “huh-twenty.” You asked me what “huh-twenty” was. You see, this is what the media does. They claim, “You said ‘huh-twenty!’ ” And I’m like, “I said? No you said ‘huh-twenty.’ I just repeated what you said.”
(d) That’s all they do, ask these totally bogus questions, when what they should be asking about is Hillary’s e-mails. That’s what this question should be about. Because what she did—wow. I mean, that’s why she’s hugging Obama every chance she gets.
(e) You know who else hugs Obama? Chris Christie.
(f) But we love Chris, don’t we? We love Chris.
1. I like A. I like B, too. D doesn’t do much for me, but E and F are real winners.
2. I’m gonna have to look into A and B. C is very compelling. Very. I hear good things about D through F. But I don’t wanna say anything yet.
3. I don’t know why people are saying there were three questions. There weren’t. I mean, do you have video? Show me the video where there were three questions. You can’t, because there is no video. People come here. They try to make trouble, saying we started a question three. We did not. And lemme tell ya, we’re gonna fight back. I’m not saying we’ll sue, but we could. Throw a few punches, ya know. Because this test prep is a great test prep. You thought so, too: you signed the agreement saying that you thought this was the greatest test prep of all time and that you wanted to be sued if video surfaced of you saying otherwise.
Congratulations, this was actually the final. You’ve passed. Now give me $35,000.
Doonesbury — Rising waters in Denial River.