Blueprint For Moving Modern Democracy Toward Authoritarian State

Here’s the most important thing to know about what happened in Turkey:

That country’s leader was apparently able to convince a majority of the population that the constitution is an obstacle to him getting his job done.


  • Recep Erdogan’s victory was thin, and is being contested. Widespread protests could come next in a country that is deeply split. But if it holds, Erdogan can now govern mostly without approval by Parliament (can, in fact, dissolve Parliament), will directly appoint most judges, and potentially extend his time in power until 2029. He’s currently 63.
  • Erdogan has long argued power needs to be centralized in order to get tough on insurgents and terrorists. A coup attempt and major terrorist attack at Istanbul airport last year, instead of making him look weak, made him appear under siege, giving his law-and-order approach fresh momentum.
  • Turkey hasn’t exactly been a beacon of freedom for a while. Since the coup attempt, more than 100,000 civil servants have been suspended or fired and nearly 50,000 people have been arrested. [NY Times] Turkey also holds more journalists in jail than any other country in the world.

Let’s hope this isn’t giving the White House any big ideas.

Vice President Pence brings tough talk to Korea

Pence telling an audience of reporters at the DMZ today the “era of strategic patience is over.” (Secretary of State Tillertson has already repeatedly said those exact same words.)


Here’s what’s actually happened so far:


While threat to U.S. grows more serious, it’s long been top-of-mind to huge population centers nearby:

  • South Koreans we talked to were largely monitoring whether non-military U.S. citizens were being evacuated from Seoul. (Something that went completely uncovered in U.S. news reports.) Remember, South Korea’s capital is only 35 miles from North Korea (more-or-less: Santa Monica-Pasadena, San Francisco-Palo Alto, New York-Oyster Bay).
  • We also learned this weekend that Japan’s “J-Alert” system, where mobile phone providers send out emergency messages in the event of earthquake, tsunami, or volcano eruption also covers a fourth type of warning: missile attack from North Korea. This diagram is in Japanese, but you’ll get the idea.

Averting A Possible Government Shutdown on April 29

  • The US government will run out of money later this month unless Congress and the White House raise the debt limit. Ahead of the April 29 deadline, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney was talking tough in public, pushing to cut sanctuary city funding part of any deal. There’s also concern the White House could hold Planned Parenthood hostage by requiring its funding be cut in order to raise the debt limit.  But sources tell Axios the White House doesn’t want to risk a shutdown. They suggest the White House will claim victory by increasing military spending and not risk fights over sanctuary cities or Planned Parenthood this time around.
  • Also, be aware that April 29th deadline is not real. The Treasury Department has the ability to use so-called “extraordinary measures” (bookkeeping adjustments) so the debt ceiling wouldn’t be hit until the fall. [Valuewalk]

Good Job Protesters! You Got Under Trump’s Skin

  • “Tax Day” protests this April 15th demanded President Trump release his taxes. (This year’s filing deadline is actually April 18th.) 25,000 people protested in DC and 20,000 in New York City. Trump, unlike every President for the past four decades, refuses to release his tax returns. But the protesters were on his mind at 6am Easter morning, when he tweeted:

The best response we’ve seen came from David Simon, the creator of “The Wire”: