Republicans using the big lie on Puerto Rico

We know that nearly 3,000 Americans died in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.  We know that, because the Milken Institute of Public Health at George Washington University did a scientific study based on actual mortality data and death certificates.

These facts are not the story that Donald Trump would like to tell.  Trump would prefer that the Puerto Rico disaster response be a success story, with himself as the paper-towel-tossing hero.  So he is now literally claiming that the Democrats made up the number out of whole cloth, to make Trump look bad.

This is a technique called the big lie.  And it works, particularly among people who have been told to disbelieve what they read in the press.  And, as usual, Republican leaders are complicit in the Dear Leader’s lies.

His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.

This could be written about Donald Trump today, couldn’t it?  But it wasn’t.  It was written during World War II, by the U.S. Office of Strategic Services, as part of their psychological profile of Hitler.

Trump’s trade war wrecking soybean market

Soybean farmers are finding out that loyalty to Donald Trump is a one-way street.  As you can see from the chart below, soybean prices are falling steeply, thanks to the predictable retaliation for Trump’s tariffs.  Soybeans were at about $11 a bushel earlier this year, now they’re at $9, which is close to the break-even point for most farmers.  That’s not just money out of the pockets of local farmers, that’s money out of the pockets of people who run businesses in this county, and people who work for wages.  Republican government has consequences, and here they are right now.

Trump’s response to the suffering he deliberately caused, is literally “Don’t blame me for that.”  Of course.  Why would the guy who said he was going to start a trade war, and then started a trade war, take the blame for the trade war he started?

Republican Party has several Nazi candidates

No, that is not an exaggeration, there are no less than five races this year in which the Republican candidate on the ballot is “a card-carrying Nazi, a Holocaust denier, a proud white supremacist, or all of the above“:

  • Russell Walker, Republican nominee for state House, North Carolina
  • Arthur Jones, Republican nominee for U.S. House, Illinois
  • Corey Stewart, Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, Virginia
  • Paul Nehlen, Republican nominee for U.S. House, Wisconsin
  • John Fitzgerald, Republican nominee for U.S. House, California

These are not isolated cases, not bad apples, not aberrations.  This is the logical end point of the last forty years of Republican politics.  You pander to racism, you get a party full of racists.  You can’t disavow what you are.

Update 2018-08-17: Steve West, who literally believes Hitler was right and said so on a radio program, has won the Republican nomination for a state House seat in Clay County Missouri.  By 25 points.  The Missouri Republican Party has gone through the ritual exercise of condemnation:

Steve West’s shocking and vile comments do not reflect the position of the Missouri Republican Party or indeed of any decent individual. West’s abhorrent rhetoric has absolutely no place in the Missouri Republican Party or anywhere. We wholeheartedly condemn his comments.

But apparently West himself does have a place in the Missouri Republican Party, and that place is “winner of the primary election.”  How far out of step with the Republican Party could he be, to win by 25 points?  Did Missouri Republicans take the obvious next step, do the right thing, and urge voters to support West’s Democratic opponent on election day?  Nope.

Former senior CIA official calls openly for murder of Trump opponents

If you have read this blog before, you’ve heard me suggest more than once that fascism is ascendant in America.  If you still think that’s an overstatement, perhaps this latest bit of evidence will change your mind.

Michael Scheuer, a former senior CIA official and author, wrote a blog post in which he explicitly calls for Trump opponents to be killed.  This is justified, in his mind, and no doubt the minds of others, because Trump opponents are involved in a coup against the Trump government.  Note the detail he provides:

Fortunately, they have in hand a long and very precise list of the names and photographs of those who hate and threaten them, their families, their way-of-life, their liberty, their livelihoods and their republic. No self-respecting and determined-to-remain-independent citizenry can let themselves forever be held hostage by thug-civil-servants like Strzok, Comey, McCabe, Page, and Rosenstein; worshipers of tyranny, like the Democratic members of Congress, the Clintons, the FBI, and the Obamas; apparent traitors like Brennan, Hayden, and Clapper; all of the mainstream media; and the tens of thousands of government-admitted-and-protected, violent, criminal, and illegal immigrants.

Just in case you missed it, “all of the mainstream media” and “Democratic members of Congress” are on Scheuer’s death list.

Notice that he’s not calling for the government to round up people.  He’s calling for civilians to pick up their guns and go out and kill their neighbors on behalf of the government.  This is precisely how fascist violence begins, as it did, for example, in Italy in 1922.

Dismantling the Trump Court

The fascist con man who sits in the Oval Office will be nominating another Supreme Court Justice soon, and no accusation of hypocrisy or appeal to reason or decency will stop Mitch McConnell from making sure the Senate confirms that nominee.  The only question is whether Susan Collins will pretend she isn’t voting to end Roe v Wade or abandon the pretense.

So this seems like a good time to suggest a couple of remedies that will be available to us when the Party of Trump has been removed from power.

One, and we can accomplish it shortly after regaining power, is expanding the court from 9 Justices to 11.  A Democratic candidate for President who won’t endorse this isn’t worth supporting.  As I said before,

[Republicans] will call it court packing (and for once they will be correct), they will call it unprecedented, they will call it unfair. And we should say nothing in response but “April 7, 2017.”

Another tactic, which we should use as soon as we can muster a 2/3 majority in the Senate, is to impeach some Supreme Court Justices.

But, argue the nervous liberal defenders of the courts, won’t such progressive attacks undermine the courts more generally?

Quite honestly, judicial independence is quite well defended in the U.S. Constitution. As noted, it takes a two-thirds vote of the Senate to remove a federal judge, which is almost insurmountable in our two-party system. The Justices don’t need us to watch our language to remain the least accountable branch of government.

But some progressive legal scholars seem to worry that rhetorical attacks on the Court will somehow delegitimize the Court in the public mind — as if that’s a bad thing.

Here’s the reality. Because of a few high-profile decisions under the Warren Court, many progressives are under the delusion that the courts are the institutional friend of civil rights and a democratic society. In fact, the courts have mostly been the enemy of democracy and liberties in this nation and served overwhelmingly as the handmaiden of corporate privilege.

And just to repeat myself, a Democratic candidate who says no to impeaching the worst Justices on the Court, who thinks we should “look forward not back,” who thinks impeachment would be “divisive,” is not worthy of Democratic primary votes.

Are we a fascist country yet?

The transition of a society from liberal democracy to fascism isn’t a sudden thing.  The gradual transformation must have seemed normal and sensible to a lot of Italian, Spanish, and German citizens in the 1930s.  It’s worth asking today how future historians will view the America of 2018.  Will they wonder why we we went along, why we didn’t seem to notice what was happening?

Several signposts are already in the rear-view mirror.  The President has called news reporters “enemies of the state” and openly incites violence against them.  We had an open gathering of KKK members and actual Nazis in Charlottesville, described by President as “very fine people.”  Trump has repeatedly praised President Duterte of the Philippines, who literally describes himself as a fascist, and particularly likes Duterte’s program of mass murder.  He has asserted more than once that he is above the law.  We have Rep. Steve King, R-IA, openly and repeatedly expressing his support for fascists.  We have various Republicans saying, as Ted Nugent did, that Democrats should be shot, and that people who take down Confederate monuments should be lynched, and that it’s a good thing when reporters are beaten.  We have death threats against a federal judge who blocked Trump’s Muslim ban.  We have numerous incidents of anti-Semitism, including one at a Republican event.  And we have actual Hitler-loving Nazis praising our current administration.

So what has been happening lately?

That is an incomplete list of things that have happened in just the last two weeks.  We should probably all be thinking about how history will judge us for resisting, or failing to resist, in 2018.

 

A stain that will never come out

Let’s get some clarity on the worst Trump administration policy so far.

  • The Trump administration has made a policy of separating children from their parents at the border, for the express purpose of deterrence, that is, terrorizing people to keep them from attempting to cross the border.  John Kelley said as much on the record, as did Jeff Sessions when he announced the policy.
  • The Trump administration is now gaslighting us, denying what we all heard them say about their deliberate policy of tearing families apart. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Sunday on Twitter, “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.”  Trump himself has repeated the lie, over and over again, that families are being separated because of a nonexistent law passed by the Democrats.
  • The children are being held in cages.  The officials who deny there are children in cages, are denying what we have already seen.  We have an unedited, confirmed audio recording of children wailing and crying for their parents.  The recording lasts 7 minutes 47 seconds.  Listen to the whole thing if you can.  I can’t.
  • Mitch McConnell has said that a “narrow fix” to the problem is needed.  “I support, and all of the members of the Republican conference support, a plan that keeps families together while their immigration status is determined,” he claims.  And yet:  every Democrat in the U.S. Senate has cosponsored the “Keep Families Together Act,” a bill that would only allow undocumented children to be separated from their parents if there is evidence of parents abusing the children or children being trafficked.  Sounds like a pretty narrow fix.  But for all the hand-wringing and concerned noises being made by Republicans, not one Republican has endorsed the bill.
  • Rank and file Republicans don’t bother pretending to oppose the policy.  A new poll shows that 55% of Republicans approve of the family separations.

So to review, we have a Republican policy, that the framers of that policy are lying about.  We have Republican officials opposing the policy, but not supporting a bill that would put an end to it.  We have a solid majority of rank and file Republicans approving of a policy that can only be characterized as evil.

Let’s remember this when a Republican stands up, now and in the future, to tell us the difference between right and wrong.  They have no standing to talk about morality.  They are solidly and unapologetically behind evil.

Trump ignores protocol, salutes North Korean officer

For a guy who claims to love the military, this is an amazing slap in the face to American service members.

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, a senior adviser to the advocacy group VoteVets.org, said, “It is wholly inappropriate for the commander in chief of our armed forces to salute the military of our adversary, especially one which is responsible for a regime of terror, murder and unspeakable horror against its own people.”