Judge who blocked Muslim ban is receiving death threats and receiving 24-hour protection

This is what domestic terrorism looks like.  U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson ruled last week to block the latest Trump Muslim ban, citing “significant” evidence of “religious animus.”   In a normal government, the administration would say they disagreed with the court and/or were disappointed in the ruling, perhaps say they would seek new legislation.  But this is your new Republican government, and they’re not big fans of the separation of powers:

And just to review, the Republican Party officially stood behind Trump when he delegitimized the judicial branch of government.  So why would anybody be surprised when the authoritarian followers start making death threats to judges?  While U.S. Marshals guard Judge Watson around the clock, I’m sure other federal judges are getting the message loud and clear.

Is it fair to call Donald Trump a fascist?

Benito Mussolini  Donald Trump

Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so.

A lot of people are making comparisons of President Trump to the fascist leaders of the 1930s.  Is that fair?  Well, first let’s consider what fascism is.  This article, which I strongly recommend reading now, describes 14 features common to fascist governments.  It wouldn’t be fair to throw the word “fascist” at Trump unless he matches all 14 items on that list.  Here they are.

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism – Yes.  This is the “Make America Great Again” guy, after all.  Trump has repeated “America First” like a mantra, a phrase is not just nationalistic on its face, but was the slogan of some of the most prominent anti-Semites who opposed U.S. entry into World War II.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights – Yes.  Trump is unambiguously in favor of torture.  He turns away refugees fleeing war zones, supports racist voter suppression, and rolled back protections for transgender children.  He plans to have the Border Patrol separate children from their parents in detention, as a deterrent to illegal border crossing.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – Yes.  He tried to ban Muslims from entering the U.S.  He wants to create a registry of Muslims, just like the Nazis did in the 1930s with Jews.

4. Supremacy of the Military – Yes.  He proposed a $54 billion increase in military spending.  He claims to have a secret plan to defeat ISIS (in 30 days, which expired a month ago at this writing).  He has promised to deport immigrants in a “military operation,” a disturbing way to talk about domestic policing.

5. Rampant Sexism – Oh yes.  He has already ordered cutbacks in U.S. funding of international family planning organizations.  He has bragged of sexually assaulting womenOver and over again, he has referred to women as sexual objects, criticized women for their looks, and joked about dating underage girls.

6. Controlled Mass Media – Yes.  He wants to make it easier to sue the press into submission, and has a media enemies list, and literally used the Stalinist phrase “enemy of the people” to describe the press.  It wouldn’t be accurate to say he controls the media, in the present tense, but his desire to do so is not a secret.

7. Obsession with National Security – Hell yes.  Fear is central to Trump’s appeal.  We are told to be afraid of immigrants, afraid of African Americans, afraid of Chinese.  We are told that police are under attack.  We are told in ominous tones that something is going on.  He has repeatedly claimed that the U.S. murder rate is the highest it has been in 47 years, when the opposite is true.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined – Yes indeed.  Trump has made no secret of his intention to prioritize Christian immigrants to the U.S.  He has promised to lift the political restrictions on religious nonprofits, making it possible for churches to participate directly in political campaigns, with anonymous tax free money.  He has promised to appoint antiabortion judges.  He promised to get cashiers in stores to say “Merry Christmas.”  He promised to bring back prayer in public schools.

9. Corporate Power is Protected – Yes.  Trump promises to reduce taxes on corporations to zero, and cut regulations.  He has the CEOs of many of the most powerful companies in the world attempting to curry favor with him.  His cabinet is dominated by corporate executives.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed – Yes.  Trump’s first pick for Secretary of Labor, Andrew Puzder, is a fast food CEO, with a long history of fighting against the $15 minimum wage, whose employees complain of wage theft and sexual harrassment.   His current nominee, Alexander Acosta, refuses to say he’ll enforce current regulations that protect workers’ overtime pay.  Trump has been overtly hostile to labor unions.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts – Emphatically yes.  Trump has taken anti-intellectualism to new levels.  This is the guy who doesn’t need to read much because he has so much “common sense.”  He literally stands opposed to the idea of the very existence of objective truth.  He proposes eliminating the arts and humanities endowments.  He has described art he dislikes as “degenerate,” a chilling choice of word that we have heard before, from actual Nazis.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment – Yes.  Trump favors the death penalty and asserts against the evidence that the death penalty deters crime.  He thinks we have to give more power to police, including the power to stop and frisk people without suspicion, a practice already ruled unconstitutional in New York.

13. Rampant Cronyism and CorruptionTo an unprecedented level, yes.  Trump has refused to put his assets into a blind trust, so anyone wishing to curry favor with the President of the United States can literally give him money, by staying at a Trump hotel, or playing at a Trump golf club, or just buying one of his many properties, in violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution.  He will fill vacancies in the National Labor Relations Board, which will referee matters between Trump hotels and labor unions.  He will fill vacancies in the General Services Administration, which will administer the lease of Trump International Hotel.

14. Fraudulent Elections – And…yes.  We know that Russia intervened in the U.S. election, according to U.S. intelligence officials.  There is evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians in that effort.  On top of the Russian angle, Trump and the Republican Party have engaged in systematic voter suppression.

Perhaps this is why Trump has an actual sworn Nazi working for him as an adviser.  Perhaps this is why the Nazi web site Daily Stormer celebrates Trump’s victory and calls him “our God Emperor.”  Perhaps this is why the Ku Klux Klan’s official newspaper endorsed Trump.  Perhaps this is why radical Serbian nationalists, who carried out actual genocide in the 1990s, support Trump.

“Fascist” isn’t a word that means “someone I don’t like.”  It’s not a word to be thrown around lightly.  It has a specific meaning.  And if you’ve read this far, you can’t escape the conclusion:  Donald Trump is, indeed, a fascist.

The Minnesotan left-wing economic miracle continues, while neighboring Republican states slowly collapse

While Iowa goes the way of Kansas,

Last fall, I wrote about the strange case of Minnesota governor Mark Dayton, a left-wing billionaire heir to the Target fortune who came to power and reversed his Republican predecessors’ Reagonomic idiocy, instead raising taxes on rich people, increasing public spending, and creating shared prosperity for the people of Minnesota.

The results of the experiment continue to surprise and delight: unemployment is down to 3.7%, private sector earnings are up 1.5% to $891/week, 47,000 new jobs were added to the economy in the past year, and the state just declared a $1.8B budget surplus, even as Forbes ranked it 9th in its table of best states for business.

But this is all the more remarkable when compared the fate of the Republican-run, austerity-fuelled neighboring states, where a succession of GOP governors and state houses have slashed taxes on business and the wealthy, eliminated social spending, and attacked trade unionism. They are running deficits, the people there are earning less than their Minnesotan cousins, they’re adding fewer (and worse) jobs, and posting less growth.

Racist border policies mean Toronto school board will no longer allow trips to Trump’s USA

From Boing Boing:

Toronto high-school students have been visiting the USA since their inception; I remember my own high-school trips to Buffalo’s Albright Knox gallery warmly. But they are a relic of the past, because the Toronto District School Board will not risk harassment and worse of its students at the US border, where people born to Arab or Muslim families, or in majority-Muslim families, report widespread discrimination.

The District may also cancel existing trips if the US continues to place new, racially motivated restrictions on travelers crossing the border.

The most important book about Republicans was written in 2006

And you can read it for free.  The Authoritarians by Bob Altemeyer is not about leaders, it is about followers:  the kind of people who are ready to follow the next dictator who comes along.

This short excerpt is from the introduction to the book.

Authoritarianism is something authoritarian followers and authoritarian leaders cook up between themselves. It happens when the followers submit too much to the leaders, trust them too much, and give them too much leeway to do whatever they want–which often is something undemocratic, tyrannical and brutal. In my day, authoritarian fascist and authoritarian communist dictatorships posed the biggest threats to democracies, and eventually lost to them in wars both hot and cold. But authoritarianism itself has not disappeared, and I’m going to present the case in this book that the greatest threat to American democracy today arises from a militant authoritarianism that has become a cancer upon the nation.

We know an awful lot about authoritarian followers. In one way or another, hundreds of social scientists have studied them since World War II. We have a pretty good idea of who they are, where they come from, and what makes them tick. By comparison, we know little about authoritarian leaders because we only recently started studying them. That may seem strange, but how hard is it to figure out why someone would like to have massive amounts of power? The psychological mystery has always been, why would someone prefer a dictatorship to freedom? So social scientists have focused on the followers, who are seen as the main, underlying problem.

Read this book.  Buy a paperback copy and give it to someone.

Obamacare repeal fails in House

It was a massive tax cut for the rich, disguised as a health care bill.  It would have resulted in 24 million more people being uninsured by 2026, and those who do get coverage will get less and pay more.  A lot more.

On the nongroup market, annual net insurance premiums for a 64-year-old with an income of $26,500 would rise from $1,700 to $14,600. Yup, that an annual increase of $12,900, to buy a significantly less generous policy than is now available under ACA. For proponents of AHCA, that’s politically self-immolating.

All week we watched the spectacle of Republicans who merely want to destroy Obamacare, fighting with the Republicans who want to be even more cruel.  The fact that they couldn’t agree among themselves is almost immaterial to the main lesson here.  The Republican Party proposed this bill.  Never let anyone forget it.  The shame can never be allowed to fade.

Rep. Steve King openly peddles white nationalism

From Daily Kos:

That’s Iowa Rep. Steve King, the prime architect of the party’s newly aggressive anti-immigrant stance, a position he obtained by scuttling post-2012 party efforts at reworking and moderating the party’s past immigration stances. He’s voicing these thoughts in support for Dutch white nationalist stain Geert Wilders.

And yes, this is the new Republican “normal.”

In case you had any doubt as to whether our Representative in Congress is openly white supremacist, let’s see what David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the KKK, has to say about it:

OK, that clears it up.

Trump fires the US Attorney who would be investigating Trump

All 46 U.S. attorneys have been purged by the President. They were abrubtly asked to resign in a move that can only consolidate Donald Trump’s power. Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who has been asked personally by Donald Trump to stay on, was asked to resign with all the rest. When he refused he was fired.

Bharara would have been responsible for investigating Donald Trump’s operations in New York.

More immigrants, less crime

From Boing Boing:

In a new paper published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice, sociologists and criminologists from University at Buffalo (SUNY), the University of Alabama, Kennesaw State University, the State of Georgia, and Georgia State University review 40 years’ worth of FBI data on violent crimes and property crimes, correlating this data series with Census data on the influx of immigrants to US cities.

The authors conclude that US cities undergoing net increases in migrants also experienced stable or declining crime rates for murder, non-negligent manslaughter, aggravated assault, robbery, burglary, and larceny.

Further, they found that there was “significant association” between the presence of foreign-born people in a city and a decline in crime — the more foreigners, the safer the cities became.