Archives for category: Fascism

The Detroit Free Press reported today that Trump lawyers asked a federal court to set aside the certified election results and give the state’s electoral votes to Trump. They never give up, despite their many losses and their lack of any evidence of fraud. Are these billable hours? There must be a reason they ignore their humiliating setbacks and soldier on. Trump continues to insist that he won the election, on Twitter and in a FOX interview. Michael Isikoff (@Isikoff) tweeted: “Post-pardon Mike Flynn says in radio interview: “I do not believe for a second the country will accept Biden as the next president based on what we know is probably the greatest fraud our country has ever experienced.” Says worldviewweekend.com/tv/video/wvw-t…”

TrumpWorld is cultivating a fascist “stabbed in the back” scenario to undermine our democracy. Trump’s chief cyber security expert Chris Krebs said the 2020 election was the fairest ever. Trump fired him.

The Detroit Free Press wrote today:

Allies of President Donald Trump want a federal court in Michigan to force state leaders to set aside election results and award its 16 electoral votes to the president. 

A separate conservative group also wants the Michigan Supreme Court to invalidate the results that show President-elect Joe Biden won the state. 

The latest lawsuit, filed in the Eastern District of Michigan and before the state’s highest court, rely on unfounded allegations of widespread fraud and misconduct that judges in the state and across the country have previously rejected. Neither has a high likelihood of success. 

There is no evidence of mass fraud or wrongdoing that affected election operations in Michigan or elsewhere. Biden earned roughly 154,000 more votes than Trump in Michigan.


Timothy Snyder, Professor of History at Yale and author of the best-selling On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, explained in Commonweal why this is not a normal election.

Please read the entire article, of which the following is an excerpt:

In normal times, we might regard any vote as ethical. To participate in an election is to dignify oneself as a citizen with a voice, and to express with others the interests and values that guide the future of our land. But these are not normal times.

This is clear from the perspective of the candidates. During a normal campaign, both candidates take for granted that they will walk free after the election. One will be in the Oval Office; the other will go home. This year is different. One candidate, Donald Trump, knows that, should he not remain in power, he will descend into poverty, go to prison, or both. He can hold the ongoing criminal investigations at bay as long as he is president, but not thereafter. Trump owes hundreds of millions of dollars to his creditors and has no visible means to pay them back. As president, he can expect his creditors to wait; as a private citizen, he cannot.

If someone can maintain wealth and freedom only by holding onto power, that person will fight to hold onto power. Behind the ideologies and the propaganda, this is the core history of tyranny: government becomes the bodyguard of a gangster. Modern authoritarians such as Vladimir Putin have much to say about why they must remain in power, but the real issue is that they wish to die wealthy and in their own beds rather than poor and in prison. In authoritarian countries, the anxiety of the tyrant can be allayed by a promise not to prosecute the leader and his family, and to leave their bank accounts in peace. Because the rule of law still (more or less) prevails in the United States, no one can offer Trump such a deal. He is therefore in a fight for his life; from his point of view, he needs to spend the rest of it in the White House. His predicament might not be obvious to Americans, but people in authoritarian countries see it right away.

It is also unusual, in an American presidential campaign, for one of the candidates to admit defeat. Trump has a fine political mind, and he can read polls and the national mood as well as anyone. For months now, he has been signaling that he cannot beat Joe Biden in an election. When he tried to summon the armed forces to aid him in June, it was the gesture of a man who needed unusual forms of help. When he tweeted in July that elections should be delayed, he revealed that he did not think he could win them. Undermining the United States Postal Service, asking his supporters to vote twice, and saying that he will not accept the results: all of these are ways of saying that he expects to lose. His campaign has ignored swing voters, and the Republican National Convention made no attempt to reach the undecided. In the first presidential debate, Trump tried, as he has done for months, to delegitimize the election as such.The plan is not to win the popular (or even the electoral) vote, but rather to stay in power in some other way.

If we take Trump at his word and begin with the premise that he cannot win the election, then his actions make sense. The plan is not to win the popular (or even the electoral) vote, but rather to stay in power in some other way. We don’t even really have to guess about this, since Trump has spelled it out himself: he will declare victory regardless of what happens, expect state governments to act contrary to vote counts, claim fraud from postal ballots, court chaos from white nationalists (and perhaps the Department of Homeland Security), and expect the Supreme Court to install him. In general, the idea behind these scenarios is to create as much chaos as possible, and then fall back upon personal ruthlessness and an artificial state of emergency to stay in power. If Trump creates a constitutional crisis while his supporters commit acts of violence, the Supreme Court might be intimidated.

In this transition from democracy to authoritarianism, otherwise known as a coup d’état, the actual number of people who vote for Trump matters less than it would in an ordinary election. In this scenario, it matters more how angry they are, and how willing some of them are to endorse extraordinary actions by Trump, or to take such actions themselves. Because he is treating election day as the occasion for a coup, Trump has good reason not to soften his message to reach more voters. In doing so he would risk losing some of the emotion he needs when he tries to stay in power by non-democratic means. He only has to stay within about ten points of Joe Biden to avoid the demoralization that arises when even core supporters realize they have been deceived by their leader and overwhelmed by their fellow citizens at the polls.

It is unusual for a plan for a coup d’état to be broadcast so clearly. Yet there is a political logic here, one with deep moral implications. By telling Americans in advance that he intends to stay in power regardless of the vote count, Trump is implicating his supporters in the action as it unfolds. He is giving them notice that they are siding with someone who intends to work hard to see that votes are not counted. He is making them understand that they are participants in the unravelling of American democracy. They might not want to face this reality squarely, which would be a normal reaction. This is a lesson of modern tyranny: authoritarianism need not be a conscious project of those embraced by it. They need only sleepwalk through the roles assigned to them. When democracy lies in the dust, they will find rationalizations for what they have done, and will support the authoritarian regime that follows, because they are already involved. No argument from emotions or interests can stop that process. The degradation is ethical, and so the question is about ethics.

What, then, is the moral meaning of a vote for Donald Trump on November 3? 

Keep reading to learn the answer.

Trump was in Michigan recently for a campaign rally, where he insulted his usual enemies, which include Governor Gretchen Whitmer. His attacks on her inspired chants of “lock her up.” Trump’s encouragement of violence are fascistic, not what the public expects from the president.

Governor Whitmer responded this morning on a Sunday talk show.

MICHIGAN GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER spoke with CHUCK TODD on NBC’S “MEET THE PRESS” about being targeted by TRUMP: “You know it’s — it’s incredibly disturbing that the president of the United States, 10 days after a plot to kidnap, put me on trial and execute me — 10 days after that was uncovered, the president is at it again and inspiring and incentivizing and inciting this kind of domestic terrorism. It is wrong. It’s got to end. 

“It is dangerous, not just for me and my family, but for public servants everywhere who are doing their jobs and trying to protect their fellow Americans. People of goodwill on both sides of the aisle need to step up and call this out and bring the heat down. This is the United States of America. We do not tolerate actions like he is giving comfort to, and that’s why we all have to be in this together.

The New York Times published this editorial for its Sunday edition, accompanied by articles detailing the multiple failures of Donald Trump. This is my favorite line: “the lesson of the last four years is that he cannot solve the nation’s pressing problems because he is the nation’s most pressing problem.” The title of the editorial is: “End Our National Crisis: The Case Against Donald Trump.”

Donald Trump’s re-election campaign poses the greatest threat to American democracy since World War II.

Mr. Trump’s ruinous tenure already has gravely damaged the United States at home and around the world. He has abused the power of his office and denied the legitimacy of his political opponents, shattering the norms that have bound the nation together for generations. He has subsumed the public interest to the profitability of his business and political interests. He has shown a breathtaking disregard for the lives and liberties of Americans. He is a man unworthy of the office he holds.

The editorial board does not lightly indict a duly elected president. During Mr. Trump’s term, we have called out his racism and his xenophobia. We have critiqued his vandalism of the postwar consensus, a system of alliances and relationships around the globe that cost a great many lives to establish and maintain. We have, again and again, deplored his divisive rhetoric and his malicious attacks on fellow Americans. Yet when the Senate refused to convict the president for obvious abuses of power and obstruction, we counseled his political opponents to focus their outrage on defeating him at the ballot box.

Nov. 3 can be a turning point. This is an election about the country’s future, and what path its citizens wish to choose.

The resilience of American democracy has been sorely tested by Mr. Trump’s first term. Four more years would be worse.

But even as Americans wait to vote in lines that stretch for blocks through their towns and cities, Mr. Trump is engaged in a full-throated assault on the integrity of that essential democratic process. Breaking with all of his modern predecessors, he has refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, suggesting that his victory is the only legitimate outcome, and that if he does not win, he is ready to contest the judgment of the American people in the courts or even on the streets.

[Kathleen Kingsbury, acting editorial page editor, wrote about the editorial board’s verdict on Donald Trump’s presidency in a special edition of our Opinion Today newsletter. You can read it here.]

The enormity and variety of Mr.Trump’s misdeeds can feel overwhelming. Repetition has dulled the sense of outrage, and the accumulation of new outrages leaves little time to dwell on the particulars. This is the moment when Americans must recover that sense of outrage.

It is the purpose of this special section of the Sunday Review to remind readers why Mr. Trump is unfit to lead the nation. It includes a series of essays focused on the Trump administration’s rampant corruption, celebrations of violence, gross negligence with the public’s health and incompetent statecraft. A selection of iconic images highlights the president’s record on issues like climate, immigration, women’s rights and race. And alongside our judgment of Mr. Trump, we are publishing, in their own words, the damning judgments of men and women who had served in his administration.

The urgency of these essays speaks for itself. The repudiation of Mr. Trump is the first step in repairing the damage he has done. But even as we write these words, Mr. Trump is salting the field — and even if he loses, reconstruction will require many years and tears.

Mr. Trump stands without any real rivals as the worst American president in modern history. In 2016, his bitter account of the nation’s ailments struck a chord with many voters. But the lesson of the last four years is that he cannot solve the nation’s pressing problems because he is the nation’s most pressing problem.

He is a racist demagogue presiding over an increasingly diverse country; an isolationist in an interconnected world; a showman forever boasting about things he has never done, and promising to do things he never will.

He has shown no aptitude for building, but he has managed to do a great deal of damage. He is just the man for knocking things down.

As the world runs out of time to confront climate change, Mr. Trump has denied the need for action, abandoned international cooperation and attacked efforts to limit emissions.

He has mounted a cruel crackdown on both legal and illegal immigration without proposing a sensible policy for determining who should be allowed to come to the United States.

Obsessed with reversing the achievements of his immediate predecessor, Barack Obama, he has sought to persuade both Congress and the courts to get rid of the Affordable Care Act without proposing any substitute policy to provide Americans with access to affordable health care. During the first three years of his administration, the number of Americans without health insurance increased by 2.3 million — a number that has surely grown again as millions of Americans have lost their jobs this year.

He campaigned as a champion of ordinary workers, but he has governed on behalf of the wealthy. He promised an increase in the federal minimum wage and fresh investment in infrastructure; he delivered a round of tax cuts that mostly benefited rich people. He has indiscriminately erased regulations, and answered the prayers of corporations by suspending enforcement of rules he could not easily erase. Under his leadership, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has stopped trying to protect consumers and the Environmental Protection Agency has stopped trying to protect the environment.

He has strained longstanding alliances while embracing dictators like North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, whom Mr. Trump treats with a degree of warmth and deference that defies explanation. He walked away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a strategic agreement among China’s neighbors intended to pressure China to conform to international standards. In its place, Mr. Trump has conducted a tit-for-tat trade war, imposing billions of dollars in tariffs — taxes that are actually paid by Americans — without extracting significant concessions from China.

Mr. Trump’s inadequacies as a leader have been on particularly painful display during the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of working to save lives, Mr. Trump has treated the pandemic as a public relations problem. He lied about the danger, challenged the expertise of public health officials and resisted the implementation of necessary precautions; he is still trying to force the resumption of economic activity without bringing the virus under control.

As the economy pancaked, he signed an initial round of aid for Americans who lost their jobs. Then the stock market rebounded and, even though millions remained out of work, Mr. Trump lost interest in their plight.

In September, he declared that the virus “affects virtually nobody” the day before the death toll from the disease in the United States topped 200,000.

Nine days later, Mr. Trump fell ill.

The foundations of American civil society were crumbling before Mr. Trump rode down the escalator of Trump Tower in June 2015 to announce his presidential campaign. But he has intensified the worst tendencies in American politics: Under his leadership, the nation has grown more polarized, more paranoid and meaner.

He has pitted Americans against each other, mastering new broadcast media like Twitter and Facebook to rally his supporters around a virtual bonfire of grievances and to flood the public square with lies, disinformation and propaganda. He is relentless in his denigration of opponents and reluctant to condemn violence by those he regards as allies. At the first presidential debate in September, Mr. Trump was asked to condemn white supremacists. He responded by instructing one violent gang, the Proud Boys, to “stand back and stand by.”

He has undermined faith in government as a vehicle for mediating differences and arriving at compromises. He demands absolute loyalty from government officials, without regard to the public interest. He is openly contemptuous of expertise.

And he has mounted an assault on the rule of law, wielding his authority as an instrument to secure his own power and to punish political opponents. In June, his administration tear-gassed and cleared peaceful protesters from a street in front of the White House so Mr. Trump could pose with a book he does not read in front of a church he does not attend.

The full scope of his misconduct may take decades to come to light. But what is already known is sufficiently shocking:

He has resisted lawful oversight by the other branches of the federal government. The administration routinely defies court orders, and Mr. Trump has repeatedly directed administration officials not to testify before Congress or to provide documents, notably including Mr. Trump’s tax returns.

With the help of Attorney General William Barr, he has shielded loyal aides from justice. In May, the Justice Department said it would drop the prosecution of Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn even though Mr. Flynn had pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. In July, Mr. Trump commuted the sentence of another former aide, Roger Stone, who was convicted of obstructing a federal investigation of Mr. Trump’s 2016 election campaign. Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, rightly condemned the commutation as an act of “unprecedented, historic corruption.”

Last year, Mr. Trump pressured the Ukrainian government to announce an investigation of his main political rival, Joe Biden, and then directed administration officials to obstruct a congressional inquiry of his actions. In December 2019, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Mr. Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors. But Senate Republicans, excepting Mr. Romney, voted to acquit the president, ignoring Mr. Trump’s corruption to press ahead with the project of filling the benches of the federal judiciary with young, conservative lawyers as a firewall against majority rule.

Now, with other Republican leaders, Mr. Trump is mounting an aggressive campaign to reduce the number of Americans who vote and the number of ballots that are counted.

The president, who has long spread baseless charges of widespread voter fraud, has intensified his rhetorical attacks in recent months, especially on ballots submitted by mail. “The Nov 3rd Election result may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED,” he tweeted. The president himself has voted by mail, and there is no evidence to support his claims. But the disinformation campaign serves as a rationale for purging voter rolls, closing polling places, tossing absentee ballots and otherwise impeding Americans from exercising the right to vote.

It is an intolerable assault on the very foundations of the American experiment in government by the people.

Other modern presidents have behaved illegally or made catastrophic decisions. Richard Nixon used the power of the state against his political opponents. Ronald Reagan ignored the spread of AIDS. Bill Clinton was impeached for lying and obstruction of justice. George W. Bush took the nation to war under false pretenses.

Mr. Trump has outstripped decades of presidential wrongdoing in a single term.

Frederick Douglass lamented during another of the nation’s dark hours, the presidency of Andrew Johnson, “We ought to have our government so shaped that even when in the hands of a bad man, we shall be safe.” But that is not the nature of our democracy. The implicit optimism of American democracy is that the health of the Republic rests on the judgment of the electorate and the integrity of those voters choose.

Mr. Trump is a man of no integrity. He has repeatedly violated his oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Now, in this moment of peril, it falls to the American people — even those who would prefer a Republican president — to preserve, protect and defend the United States by voting.

Dana Milbank is a regular columnist for the Washington Post.

He writes:

America, this is not a drill. The Reichstag is burning.

For five years, my colleagues and I have taken pains to avoid Nazi comparisons. It is usually hyperbolic, and counterproductive, to label the right “fascists” in the way those on the right reflexively label the left “socialists.” But this is no longer a matter of name-calling.

With his repeated refusals this week to accept the peaceful transfer of power — the bedrock principle that has sustained American democracy for 228 years — President Trump has put the United States, in some ways, where Germany was in 1933, when Adolf Hitler used the suspicious burning of the German parliament to turn a democracy into a totalitarian state.

Overwrought, you say? Then ask Yale historian Timothy Snyder, a top authority on Nazism and Stalinism. “The Reichstag has been on a slow burn since June,” he told me. “The language Trump uses to talk about Black Lives Matter and the protests is very similar to the language Hitler used — that there’s some vague left-wing conspiracy based in the cities that is destroying the country.”

Trump, as he has done before, has made the villain a minority group. He has sought, once again, to fabricate emergencies to justify greater powers for himself. He has proposed postponing elections. He has refused to commit to honoring the results of the election. And now, he proposes to embrace violence if he doesn’t win.
“It’s important not to talk about this as just an election,” Snyder said. “It’s an election surrounded by the authoritarian language of a coup d’etat. The opposition has to win the election and it has to win the aftermath of the election.”

If not? There won’t be another “normal” election for some time, he said. But that doesn’t have to happen, and Snyder is optimistic it won’t. To avoid it, we voters must turn out in overwhelming numbers to deal Trump a lopsided defeat. The military must hold to its oath. Homeland Security police must not serve as Trump’s brownshirts. And we citizens must take to the streets, peacefully but indefinitely, until the will of the people prevails.

“It’s going to be messy,” Snyder said. “He seems pretty sure he won’t win the election, he doesn’t want to leave office,” and he appears to Snyder to have “an authoritarian’s instinct” that he must stay in power or go to prison.

It’s abundantly clear that Trump plans to fabricate an election “emergency.” First, he claimed mail-in balloting, a tried-and-true system, is fraudulent. Now his supporters are trying to harass in-person voters.
When Virginia’s early voting opened this week, Trump supporters descended on a polling station, waving Trump signs and flags, chanting and forming a gantlet through which voters had to walk. When the New York Times reported that this voter intimidation campaign began at a nearby rally featuring the Republican National Committee co-chairman, the Virginia GOP responded mockingly from its official Twitter account: “Quick! Someone call the waaaambulance!”

Let’s be clear. There is only one political party in American politics embracing violence. There is only one side refusing to denounce all political violence. There is only one side talking about bringing guns to the polls; one side attempting to turn federal law-enforcement officials into an arm of a political party. And Trump is trying to use law enforcement to revive tactics historically used to bully voters of color from voting — tactics not seen in 40 years.

Some of what Trump and his lieutenants have been doing is merely unseemly: using the machinery of government to attack previous and current political opponents, likening pandemic public health restrictions to slavery, or threatening to overrule regulators if they question the safety of vaccines.

But embracing violence to resolve democratic disagreement is another matter. Trump embraced the “very fine people” among the homicidal neo-Nazis in Charlottesville. He embraced as “very good people” armed protesters who stormed the Michigan Capitol to intimidate lawmakers. He embraced his supporter who allegedly shot and killed two people at a protest in Wisconsin. He embraced the “GREAT PATRIOTS” who drove into Portland, Ore., hurling paintballs and pepper spray at demonstrators. He embraced officers who kill unarmed African Americans, saying they simply “choke” under pressure.

Now he’s rejecting the peaceful transfer of power. Worse: Most Republican officeholders dare not contradict him. The Times reported that of all 168 Republican National Committee members and 26 Republican governors it asked to comment on Trump’s outrage, only four RNC members and one governor responded.
In Federalist 48, James Madison prophetically warned that tyranny could triumph under “some favorable emergency.” In 1933, Hitler used the burning of the Reichstag to do just that. Trump now, it appears, is aiming to do likewise.

America, this is our Reichstag moment. We have the power to stop it. Don’t let democracy burn to the ground.

Senator Bernie Sanders delivered a rip-roaring speech denouncing Trump’s threat not to relinquish the presidency.

He said this election is not a contest between Trump and Biden. It is between Trump and democracy, and “democracy must win.”

Investigative reporter Barton Gellman describes a nightmare scenario that would sow chaos and destroy our democracy.

What if Trump refuses to concede? He has repeatedly said that mail-in ballots are fraudulent. He’s already predicted that, unless he wins, the election will be “rigged.”

Yesterday, he was asked directly if he would accept the results of the election, and he refused to say that he would.

Gellman writes:

In this election year of plague and recession and catastrophized politics, the mechanisms of decision are at meaningful risk of breaking down. Close students of election law and procedure are warning that conditions are ripe for a constitutional crisis that would leave the nation without an authoritative result. We have no fail-safe against that calamity. Thus the blinking red lights.

“We could well see a protracted postelection struggle in the courts and the streets if the results are close,” says Richard L. Hasen, a professor at the UC Irvine School of Law and the author of a recent book called Election Meltdown. “The kind of election meltdown we could see would be much worse than 2000’s Bush v. Gore case.”

A lot of people, including Joe Biden, the Democratic Party nominee, have mis­conceived the nature of the threat. They frame it as a concern, unthinkable for presidents past, that Trump might refuse to vacate the Oval Office if he loses. They generally conclude, as Biden has, that in that event the proper authorities “will escort him from the White House with great dispatch.”

The worst case, however, is not that Trump rejects the election outcome. The worst case is that he uses his power to prevent a decisive outcome against him. If Trump sheds all restraint, and if his Republican allies play the parts he assigns them, he could obstruct the emergence of a legally unambiguous victory for Biden in the Electoral College and then in Congress. He could prevent the formation of consensus about whether there is any outcome at all. He could seize on that un­certainty to hold on to power.

Trump’s state and national legal teams are already laying the groundwork for postelection maneuvers that would circumvent the results of the vote count in battleground states. Ambiguities in the Constitution and logic bombs in the Electoral Count Act make it possible to extend the dispute all the way to Inauguration Day, which would bring the nation to a precipice. The Twentieth Amendment is crystal clear that the president’s term in office “shall end” at noon on January 20, but two men could show up to be sworn in. One of them would arrive with all the tools and power of the presidency already in hand.

“We are not prepared for this at all,” Julian Zelizer, a Prince­ton professor of history and public affairs, told me. “We talk about it, some worry about it, and we imagine what it would be. But few people have actual answers to what happens if the machinery of democracy is used to prevent a legitimate resolution to the election.”

The article goes on to describe in detail how Trump and his allies are already planning to disrupt the election, tie up the count with lawsuits, discredit mail-in ballots, and, if necessary, call out armed mobs to intimidate voters. Gellman believes that Trump will never concede.

I hope the article is not behind a paywall.

It details the worst threat to our democracy in our lifetimes, maybe since the the Civil War, maybe ever.

Trump and Barr have warned about the dangers of a group called “Antifa.” I had never heard of them and don’t know anyone who belongs to this group. I did a small amount of digging and learned that Antifa means “anti-fascist.”

That confused me. How can it be wrong to be anti-fascism?

Hitler and Mussolini were fascists.

We fought a world war from 1941-1945 to save the world from fascism.

During World War II, there were pro-fascist people in America.

The current American fascists are the Ku Klux Klan, white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and armed militias like those that stormed the Michigan State Capitol to protest public health measures to protect against the spread of the coronavirus. Fascists threaten their fellow citizens with military-type assault weapons. Fascists use extra-legal means to subvert the rule of law and to intimidate people of color and those who oppose them. Fascists want to make America a white a Christian nation where none is welcome who is either white nor Christian.

I oppose fascism. I support the efforts to suppress fascism.

I support the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. I believe in democracy and the rule of law. I believe in equal justice under law for all. I believe in pursuing the goal of equality of educational opportunity. I know we are far from our ideals and values. I believe in pursuing them, not abandoning them.

I am a proud anti-fascist.

Are you?

Our regular commenter Bob Shepherd writes about the familiarity of the spectacle at the Trump National Convention:

The Style of the Trump Fascist Spectacle (Known in Previous Years as the Republican National Convention)

Did Albert Speer design this convention? Where was Leni Riefenstahl to film this Triumph of the Trumpian Will?

Flags and marble, shot from below to make them as imposing as possible. The First Lady delivering her address in what looked like a Russian military uniform.

Our wannabe Stalin made very clear in this spectacle who he is and what he stands for. Here, a few of the parallels between the RNC remade by Trump and other spectacles put on by dictators like Stalin:

1. Ultranationalism. Military bands playing jingoistic patriotic tunes, flags, flags, flags.

2. Pretend kindness from Great Leader. Staged events showing He Who Shines More Orange than the Sun deigning to extend mercy to ordinary persons, representative “citizens.” Fall in line, and you, too, can benefit from Great Leader’s largess!

3. Nepotism. A parade of Great Leader’s vile spawn. Dictators can’t trust anyone except family, so, of course, this. The apple doesn’t fall far.

4. Cult of personality. All Trump, all the time. Trump’s name in fireworks above the Washington Monument.

5. Baldfaced lying. Telling lies that are completely blatant because those around him don’t dare contradict him. This always gives autocrats a big thrill. President: Grass is pink. Yes, Mr. President, very pink.

6. The myth of the return to the golden age. All this make America great again bs. Right out of Hitler’s playbook–hearkening back to a glorious Aryan past that only he can restore.

7. Appropriation of national symbols to the leader.

8. Fascist imagery, architecture, and design. Lots and lots of “from below” shots to make the setting seem even more grand, more monumental, more fascist. The new stark and very white Rose Garden, Trump’s pointing to the now Whiter House during his speech and saying, “Great house. Not a house but a home. [e.g., MY HOME] I’m here, and they aren’t. And what color is it?”

9. Great Leader as the sole platform, the sole font of policy. For the first time in its history, the Republican National Convention put forward no new campaign platform. Appropriate, of course, because under Trump, the Party platform is whatever Great Leader happens to have said six seconds ago, even if it’s exactly the opposite of what he said seven seconds ago. (Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.)

10. The impassioned speech by Great Leader about the enemy within and the necessity of crushing that enemy in order to achieve a return to greatness. Biden the Socialist (LOL), the terrorists in the streets.

We’ve seen this film before.

Portland, Oregon, is the scene of the most frightening series of events in the nation today. Governors may call upon the National Guard. The President, under extraordinary circumstances, may send in troops to enforce the law, as when President Eisenhower sent troops to Little Rock to enforce a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court.

The armed personnel in Portland were not called in by the governor. They are not there to enforce the law or a court decision. They are there to harass and bully American citizens who are exercising their Constitutional right to assemble peaceably. They are there by order of Trump and Barr to help raise the “law and order” issue for the fall election. Trump has announced that he intends to send his personal federal police force into other cities, to “pacify” them.

We cannot normalize what is happening. It is highly irregular and probably illegal. It is wrong. Trump will stop at nothing to improve his poll numbers. He has no regard for law or the Constitution. He is ignorant of both. We are moving in uncharted waters. Step by step, we are sinking into authoritarianism, fascism.

Dana Milbank wrote today in the Washington Post:

In Portland, Ore., federal police use batons, tear gas and rubber bullets on moms in bicycle helmets.

Unidentified federal officers, defying duly elected state and city leaders, throw civil rights demonstrators into unmarked vans without charges. President Trump’s acting homeland security secretary, Chad Wolf, says his agents “go out and proactively arrest individuals.”

That’s so much easier than waiting for people to do something illegal before you lock them up!

The administration justifies the extraordinary disregard of constitutional protections by calling the demonstrators “violent anarchists” who have made “efforts to start fires at the Hatfield Federal Courthouse.” Trump says that the demonstrators “hate our country” and that “we must protect Federal property.”

Anarchists in Oregon who hate their country are trying to set fires and destroy federal property? Hmmm.

Steven and Dwight Hammond, also from Oregon, were convicted of arson for a fire that burned 139 acres of federal property in the state. A witness testified that Steven Hammond handed out matches with instructions to “light up the whole country” after his hunting party illegally slaughtered animals on federal land. Their imprisonment sparked an armed takeover of federal property in Oregon for 41 days in 2016 by dozens of militia-affiliated gunmen.

And what did Trump think of these arsonists who destroyed federal property and wanted to burn down America? Why, he pardoned them in 2018, calling them “devoted family men” and “respected contributors to their local community” for whom “justice is overdue.”

We have seen this pattern over and over.

In Washington’s Lafayette Square, across the street from the White House, federal police operating under the administration’s command fired gas and projectiles at peaceful demonstrators to clear the way for a presidential photo op outside a church. But when armed militants poured into the state Capitol in Michigan, brandishing their weapons in the legislative chamber to intimidate lawmakers (some of whom felt the need to don bulletproof vests) over public health restrictions, Trump declared that the gunman were “very good people” and that the state’s Democratic governor should “make a deal” with them.

Now Trump is decrying a supposed absence of law and order in Chicago and other cities run by Democrats (“worse than Afghanistan,” he said) and is threatening to overpower those cities, too, with armed federal agents. But when a Missouri couple came out of their home shouting at nonviolent racial justice demonstrators, pointing a pistol and brandishing a rifle at them, Trump called it “a disgrace” that they might face charges. Never mind that it’s a felony in Missouri to exhibit “any weapon readily capable of lethal use in an angry or threatening manner.”

In Trump’s America, it seems, the First Amendment applies only to those exercising the Second Amendment. Unarmed demonstrators pose a threat to “law and order.” But if you’re carrying a gun, you should feel free to threaten your elected representatives, menace civil rights demonstrators or do what you like to federal property.
Trump’s pretext for overriding state and local leaders with federal firepower is the racial justice demonstrators’ supposed violence. Though the majority of protesters have been peaceful, a few are indeed violent — you can view them on Fox News — and they deserve condemnation. But Trump is fomenting violence in the service of fueling a culture war he hopes will salvage his reelection. “It’s a choice between the law and order and patriotism and prosperity, safety offered by our movement, and the anarchy and chaos and crime,” he declared at a telerally this past week.

Or so he would like it to be.

Oregon’s Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, said Trump’s “dictatorship”-style use of “secret police” was “adding gasoline to a fire” that had been dying. “The situation had been improving over the past several weeks,” she told NPR, and “their presence here substantially escalated the situation.”

But escalation is clearly Trump’s aim when he threatens to send federal police into more American cities. He needs to frighten Americans into embracing federal police taking up arms against American citizens — and Americans taking up arms against each other.

On Tuesday, for example, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany described Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the Missouri couple who threatened demonstrators with guns, as being menaced by “violent” protesters who “trespassed,” threatened to kill them and “burn down the house,” but not before moving into the house and “taking a shower.” Video of the affair shows peaceful marchers on the sidewalk, walking past the agitated and gun-toting McCloskeys, on their way to demonstrate outside the mayor’s nearby house.

“The prosecutor apparently thinks her job isn’t to keep us safe from criminals, but to keep the criminals safe from us,” Mark McCloskey told Fox News on Monday.

What a perfect distillation of Trumpian justice! Nonviolent civil rights demonstrators are the “criminals” — and the people who threaten them with guns are the victims.