Death threats against Texas theater company

In New York, Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park put on a production of Julius Caesar.  The character of Caesar was made to resemble Trump, and of course Caesar was assassinated, so Republicans lost their minds.  Unprecendented!  Liberals would never have stood for something like this directed at a liberal President!  Never mind the fact that there was a 2012 production of Julius Caesar that featured a charismatic black guy in the role of Caesar, obviously Barack Obama, with not a peep of actual objection from actual liberals.  There’s no reason for facts to get in the way of the rage.

So why am I surprised that a Texas, repeat Texas, theater troupe has started getting death threats for producing Shakespeare?

Republican calls for lynching

Removal of Confederate monuments in New Orleans prompted an elected state legislator from Mississippi to write, and I am not making this up,

The destruction of these monuments, erected in the loving memory of our family and fellow Southern Americans, is both heinous and horrific. If the, and I use this term extremely loosely, “leadership” of Louisiana wishes to, in a Nazi-ish fashion, burn books or destroy historical monuments of OUR HISTORY, they should be LYNCHED! Let it be known, I will do all in my power to prevent this from happening in our State.

That’s right.  Openly called for lynching people he disagrees with.  Do you need to ask whether he’s a Republican?

Trump praises mass murder

You read that right.  Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has been praised on multiple occasions by U.S. President Donald Trump.  Trump specifically likes Duterte’s anti-drug program, which consists of summarily murdering drug suspects, 9,000 people so far.  He called Duterte on the phone to say so.

“I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem,” said Trump. “Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that.”  …

White House officials initially characterized the April call as “a very friendly conversation,” during which Trump had invited Duterte to visit Washington. That development reportedly surprised White House staffers and drew widespread condemnation from human rights groups, which have accused Duterte of condoning a lawless drug war that has terrorized the nation with a campaign of extrajudicial killings carried out by vigilantes and police officers. Duterte has seemingly embraced this barbaric depiction, comparing himself with Adolf Hitler on a mission to kill millions of drug addicts.

Republicans like it when reporters are beaten up

Republican candidate Greg Gianforte beat up a reporter, lied about it, and got charged with assault anyway because there were witnesses.  Republican lawmakerss are cool with him beating up reporters, mostly.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), for example, was quoted by the Associated Press saying, “It’s not appropriate behavior. Unless the reporter deserved it.” Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) denounced violence, but said “the left” has “precipitated this tense, confrontational approach” nationwide. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) went further, but even his concerns came with a caveat.
“I do not think this is acceptable behavior, but the choice will be made by the people of Montana,” Ryan said during a press conference in Washington.
That’s right, the people of Montana will decide if a violent criminal is allowed in the Republican caucus, because as far as Congressional Republicans are concerned, being a violent criminal is not disqualifying.  As long as you’re violent toward a reporter, that is.
Rank and file Republicans openly praise the violence.

A guy who’ll slap a reporter around deserves office most of all.

This guy is a hero. He gave this reporter what he deserved. What they all deserve. They are the enemy of the American People. Evil incarnate. They must be destroyed root and branch.

Anyone who smacks a scum-sucking reporter can’t be all bad. Hope he wins the election.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Republican, even thinks this is a good time to joke about shooting reporters.  Apparently it’s not something that makes you lose Republican votes.  Gianforte won the election.

Spicer: Hitler not as bad as Assad

I didn’t set out to write about nothing but fascism today; this is just how the news broke.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer not only made the fool’s mistake of comparing Assad to Hitler, Hitler came out ahead in that comparison.  Because, said Spicer, even Hitler didn’t sink to using chemical weapons.  Given a chance to fix that awful answer, Spicer said, and I am not making this up, that Hitler “was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing.”

So German Jews were not Hitler’s “own people”? Or is it just the method of gassing people that makes the difference?

It’s technically true that Hitler’s methods were different from Assad’s, but “rounded them up into camps and then put them in gas chambers” is … not really better. Especially when Spicer’s way of saying this was “He brought them into the Holocaust Centers, I understand that, but … “

Let’s just take a moment to consider that word choice.  Not concentration camps, not death camps, but “Holocaust Centers.”

Le Pen denies French collaboration with the Nazis

Steve King’s pal Marine Le Pen pretends to be a “populist” and denies that her politics are the fascist politics of her father, Jean-Marie le Pen.  That pretense was damaged, perhaps along with her ambitions to be elected President of France, when she denied French complicity in rounding up Jews during WWII.

Le Pen the Younger disclaims her father’s racist baggage, and presents herself as a populist/nationalist in the model of Nigel Farage and Donald Trump (themselves notorious racists, but of the sort who make recourse to dog whistles instead of out-and-out racism, at least some of the time).

On Sunday, Le Pen disclaimed French responsibility for the notorious “Vel d’Hiv” incident in which French police rounded up 13,000 Jews and crammed them into the Velodrome d’Hiver so that Nazi occupiers could deport them to Auschwitz, saying “”I think France isn’t responsible for the Vel d’Hiv…I think that, in general, if there are people responsible, it is those who were in power at the time. It is not France.”

The remarks came just a couple weeks before the French general election, which has many around the world nervous, given the recent success of other crypto-fascist “populists” around the world.

Do I need to add that Le Pen is a Trump supporter?

Bipartisan bill would end warrantless border searches of US persons’ data

From Boing Boing:

Under the Protecting Data at the Border Act, devices “belonging to or in the possession of a United States person” (a citizen or Green Card holder) could no longer be searched at the border without a warrant. Agents would no longer be able to deny US persons entry or exit on the basis of a refusal to allow such a search (but they could seize the equipment).

It doesn’t cover visitors or visa holders, but it does have bipartisan support in the Senate (Wyden D-OR; Paul R-KY) and the House (Polis D-CO; Farenthold R-TX).

The Customs and Border Protection agency conducted more warrantless device searches in Feb of 2017 than it did in all of 2015.

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.

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.