The Lesser Mao is Mao Zedong's successor as dictator of the Chinese People's Republic. He manages to be even worse than his predecessor, turning all of China into a horrifying hybrid of post-Cold WarNorth Korea and Khmer Rouge-era Cambodia, with totalitarianism ramped up to eleven and the country turned into a giant death camp and killing field, where people are forced into making opium. When the military rebels against him for his regime's excesses, he destroys the rebel-controlled city of Kwangsi with a nuclear missile. Later, he creates a virulent strain of influenza that kills the better part of a million people worldwide, none more so than in China itself. This creates the worst health year since the Spanish Flu. By the end of the century, China and its people have become one giant ruin.
President Donald Rumsfeld is a dictator who doesn't care about his own people's well-being. Since taking office, Rumsfeld has destroyed all forms of "welfare" and any regulations on business, causing the poor immense suffering and the workers extreme hardship (and borderline enslavement), along with wanton destruction of the environment. He imprisons or murders critics of his regime on a regular basis, used massive voter fraud and other illegal actions to win the 1984 election, and directly supports the regime of the aforementioned Magnus Malan, along with other right-wing regimes like Israel and Chile, with military and economic assistance. Rumsfeld supports terrorism in Northern Ireland simply because the UK voted for a Labour government. Rumsfeld later crossed the Moral Event Horizon when "Liberty Legion" officers were ordered to kill soldiers wounded on the battlefield in order to save the costs of caring for them. He's also trying to weaponize AIDS and exploited the aforementioned flu outbreak to spread anti-Chinese racism and get more votes in the election. Finally, he also invaded Cuba in order to distract Americans from their domestic problems, rather than to remove a dictator or help the Cuban people.
Harsher in Hindsight: In the timeline, the Muslim Brotherhood conquers a large amount of territory in Syria and declares a theocratic Caliphate. This was written in 2012. Come 2014, and the Islamic State, which has carved out a large amount of territory in Iraq and Syria, declared itself a Caliphate simillar to the one in-story.
Magnificent Bastard: Dear Lord, George Corley Wallace. As mentioned above, the story hinges on Wallace hanging on to his paltry nine electoral votes to either force the Democrats and Republicans to make a "corrupt bargain" to get around his roadblock, or fail and cause one of the two hapless running-mates to ascend to the Presidency instead; either way setting the stage for him to make a comeback in '76. He succeeds in both plans, as bi-partisan scheming first allows Spiro Agnew to become President, then, after he proves to be an utter disaster, forces the Congress to awkwardly remove him and replace him with a retired General, ultimately leaving both parties discredited — exactly as planned. Wallace meanwhile quietly makes peace with the Alabama NAACP and slides away from his segregationalist past. (This happened in OTL.) He runs for President again in 1976, becoming the front-runner after baiting Spiro Agnew into attacking him on his handicap, which he parlays into a dramatic speech about feeling the pain of the common man. Wallace ends up winning the Democratic nomination after allying with Ron Dellums, of all people, and chooses the very man who stood against him in the "Stand at the Schoolhouse Door", Nick Katzenbach, as his running mate. As of the last update, he wins. Yes, all of the chaos of the past four years in this story is the old bastard's plan working.
Reached in a big way by the Lesser Mao (Chairman Mao's nephew). After spending several years turning China into what is, effectively, post-Cold WarNorth Korea meets Khmer Rouge-era Cambodia, as well as getting involved in a war in Southeast Asia and turning the PRC into the world's leading exporter of heroin, he officially crosses the line when he supresses a military rebellion by nuking the rebel-controlled city of Kwangsi, making it the first time nuclear weapons have been used in anger since Nagasaki.
For President Rumsfeld, many people in-universe (and on-board) saw he reached this when he upholds the South African apartheid, quasi-fascist government as an example of freedom. For others, it was when he effectively declares war on the urban poor by promising to end all welfare. Either way, he had all but certainly crossed it when he used massive voter fraud and covert tactics to allow him to win the 1984 election.
As of the July 26 update, The US and Rumsfeld seems to have well and truly crossed the Moral Event Horizon in the invasion of Cuba, with Liberty Legion officers assigned to shoot wounded soldiers to save costs. The American troops in Cuba are no happier with it, shooting the 'Liberty Legion' troops that came with them. Doubles as a Wham Episode.
The Soviet Premier believes Rumsfeld crossed the line with his attempted murder of Richard Nixon.
For state governors, Rumsfeld crossed the line when he attempted to impeach California Governor Pete McCloskey and replace him with his own stooge. When the Supreme Court ruled against him, Rumsfeld had those justices impeached. It prompted other state governments to break away from Washington.
Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: George Wallace, at least to some extent. He remains a flawed man and President but rather spectacularly redeems himself for his pro-segregation past by bringing more black lawmakers into the cabinet than ever before. And he comes back as Governor of Alabama yet again to save the state from Rumsfeld in the 80's.
Spiro Agnew, of all people. For much of the saga, he has acted like a racist, corrupt buffoon. But eventually he finds Rumsfeldia to be insane and joins forces with other governors to issue a nullification pact.
After all the horrible events of the TL, many readers have found themselves finding Richard Nixon of all people to be a pretty good guy in hindsight.
Villain Sue: Rumsfeld. He's managed to get away with murdering and imprisoning critics of his regime, rigging elections, and successfully pushing through his anarcho-capitalist agenda by intimidating Congress. In real life, the probability of this succeeding in unlikely, given that the government couldn't cover up Watergate or the NSA surveillance program, both of which are nowhere as severe as the above acts.
The Lesser Mao is a downplayed example, because his totalitarian state collapses eventually.