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Here in Virginia, Governor McAuliffe does the right thing -- rightwingnutjobs freak out!!

Gov. Terry McAuliffe has vetoed legislation that would put new restrictions on state funding for abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood.

"We're here today to smack down the latest attack on women's health care rights, McAuliffe said Tuesday before vetoing the bill during a news conference at the Richmond headquarters of the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood. "It's no secret that this bill is aimed at destroying Planned Parenthood."
The bill passed the Republican-controlled General Assembly earlier this year along party lines. McAuliffe, a Democrat who campaigned on a promise to be a "brick wall" against efforts to roll back access to abortion, had said he would veto the legislation.

House Bill 1090 - sponsored by Del. Benjamin L. Cline, Tea Party-Rockbridge - would have prohibited the state from contracting with non-hospital health providers that perform abortions outside of cases of rape, incest or severe fetal anomalies. The legislation also explicit states that funds for family planning should be prioritized for public entities, hospitals and more broadly focused health clinics.

You can learn a lot by listening to Republicans. Here's a list of what I learned from Republicans in March 2016.

These are REAL, ACTUAL, NO-KIDDING statements made by prominent Republicans.

Rape and incest are less likely to result in pregnancy, so if you get pregnant and claim rape or incest you're probably just confused. (Idaho State Rep. Pete Nielsen)

There are no gay members of the Mormon church. (Mormon Elder David Bednar)

Only self-loathing Jews get along with President Obama. (TX Rep. Louie Gohmert)

Ted Cruz is a disgraceful, half-term, do-nothing senator. (Disgraceful half-term do-nothing governor Sarah Palin)

Supreme Court justices sign bills into law. (Donald Trump)

The rise of Donald Trump is all Barack Obama's fault (Bobby Jindal)

Donald Trump smells like Ronald Reagan. (Phyllis Schlafly)

Donald Trump is rehabilitating Adolf Hitler's image. (David Duke)

America should create a police state within the U.S. Muslim population. (Sen. Ted Cruz)

When Hillary Clinton becomes dictator she’ll put a transgender person in your soup. (Michael Savage)

The Republican National Committee is just one big gay foam party. (Travis County, Texas GOP chairman Robert Morrow)

Another Big Lie: Trump is bringing large numbers of new voters into the GOP. No, he is not.

Of the many false and misleading things you’ve heard this presidential election cycle, there’s the refrain from Donald Trump about how he’s brought out “millions of new voters” to the polls, blah blah blah. Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times took a whack at that whopper, along with other “myths” (e.g., that turnout in the primaries has any correlation to turnout in the general election), and found:

increasing turnout in a Republican primary isn’t the same as drawing new people into the GOP. A large majority of voters every year sit out the primaries, so increased primary turnout usually means exciting existing partisans, not creating new ones. Exit polls indicate that’s what has happened this year, as in previous turnout surges in both parties.

Late last month, the Massachusetts secretary of state got a lot of attention by reporting that about 16,000 people had changed their registration from Democratic to Republican in the weeks before the state’s primary. But that’s hardly millions, nor is it unprecedented. The share of voters in that state’s GOP primary who identified themselves as Democrats on the exit poll was 5% this year, was almost identical to the 4% from four years ago.

In Iowa’s caucuses this year, Trump clearly did well with first-time participants. The share of voters taking part in the state’s caucuses for the first time rose from 38% in the 2012 exit poll to 45% in 2016, and Trump won the first-timers handily. In New Hampshire, by contrast, the 15% of voters casting a GOP primary ballot for the first time this year was only marginally higher than the 12% four years ago, and Trump’s share of their votes, 38%, was only slightly better than the 35% he got among repeat voters.

So much for that claim, in other words. Now, VPAP (Virginia Public Access Project) has taken a look at “the rate of new voter registrations in the two months leading to March 1 presidential primaries” here in Virginia. VPAP’s findings:

In most localities, Super Tuesday was less of a motivating factor for new registrations compared to 2008, the last year both parties held contested presidential primaries on the same date. There were 56,943 new voter registrations in January and February, compared to 65,724 during the same period eight years ago.

It’s interesting to drill down a bit into the VPAP map. What you’ll find is major DECREASES in new voter registrations in a number of places where Trump did well on “Super Tuesday” 2016. For instance, Trump dominated in most far-SWVA counties (e.g., he won Scott County by 50%-20% and Buchanan County 70%-14%), yet all that supposed enthusiasm for Trump was NOT reflected in new voter registrations in those counties (Scott County was down 33% from 2008; Buchanan County was down 4.5%; Russell County was down 29%; Tazewell County down 37%; Smyth County down 32%). In other words, if anything, there was a strong NEGATIVE correlation between big margins by Trump and new voter registrations, at least in far southwestern Virginia. Same deal in Highland County, Rockbridge County and Bath County in the Shenandoah Valley region. Same thing for Buckingham County (down 47%) and Nelson County (down 38%), both big Trump areas in central Virginia.

We could go on and on, but you get the idea…there’s simply no truth to Trump’s claim that he’s bringing out reams of new voters, certainly not here in Virginia. To the contrary, if anything it appears that new voter registration was way DOWN in areas of Virginia where Trump did particularly well. Yeah, things that make you go “hmmmm.”

According to Mitch "Turtleface" McConnell, the NRA nominates Supreme Clurt justices

Courtesy of Think Progress:  

Supreme Court justices are nominated by the president and appointed with the advice and consent of the National Rifle Association, according to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). 

McConnell offered this unusual view of the confirmation process during an interview with Fox News Sunday. In response to a question from host Chris Wallace, who asked if Senate Republicans would consider the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court after the election if Hillary Clinton prevails, McConnell responded that he “can’t imagine that a Republican majority in the United States Senate would want to confirm, in a lame duck session, a nominee opposed by the National Rifle Association [and] the National Federation of Independent Businesses.”

Well -- KISS MY ASS, YOU PIECE OF SHIT!!!  So now the NRA gets to choose Supreme Court justices??  Please show me in the Constitution where they have that authority.


Knock it off, candidates . . . manufacturing jobs are NOT coming back . . . factories, maybe, but not jobs . . . robots are doing the work

March 18, 2016

A plea to presidential candidates: Stop talking about bringing manufacturing jobs back from China. In fact, talk a lot less about manufacturing, period.


Here’s the problem: Whether or not those manufacturing jobs could have been saved, they aren’t coming back, at least not most of them. How do we know? Because in recent years, factories have been coming back, but the jobs haven’t.


a small but growing group of companies are shifting production back to the U.S. But the factories they build here are heavily automated, employing a small fraction of the workers they would have a generation ago.

So, yes, even if companies return manufacturing to the US, they will not employ anywhere near the amount of human workers that they once did.

Thus, let us say a company once employed 5,000 people in manufacturing, then moved to China in the late 90s or early 2000s, and then came back 15 or 20 years later to re-open a factory in the US again. It would not employ 5,000 people again. It would be more like 500 people, 10 percent of original, as the new factory would be mostly automated.

Then there are the well known tech companies like Amazon. builds and gets a dozen new gigantic warehouses in the US to help with increased online shopping and use of FBA (Fulfilled By Amazon). That doesn't mean it will suddenly increase the human labor. If one ever looked at how an Amazon warehouse operates, there are robots that go around and automatically pick orders from shelves, using defined travel lanes and scanned barcodes. So, instead of employing 10,000 new people to work at these 12 warehouses, they employ several hundred while the robots do most of the work.

Democrats have been right about Republicans all along

“America’s in the middle of a real political storm — a real tsunami — and we should have seen this coming.” – Marco Rubio

It was always inevitable, I suppose. The Republican Party has debased itself for decades – courting racists, placating religious lunatics, and using the culture wars as a political wedge. Candidates like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin are natural outgrowths of this conservative ecosystem; they’re exactly what you’d expect it to produce.

This is the climate Republicans have cultivated, and what we’re seeing now is the logical conclusion of those efforts.

The GOP establishment continues to eat itself from within, as officials scramble to make sense of it all. You might call it an identity crisis of sorts. Longtime Republicans are now questioning the party’s broader strategy. Here’s Bret Stephens, a conservative columnist for the Wall Street Journal:
“Liberals may have been fond of claiming that Republicans were all closet bigots and that tax cuts were a form of racial prejudice, but the accusation rang hollow because the evidence for it was so tendentious. Not anymore. The candidacy of Donald Trump is the open sewer of American conservatism…It would be terrible to think that the left was right about the right all these years.”
Terrible indeed, but no less true. Here’s a similar Tweet by Max Boot, a neoconservative hawk and prominent Republican intellectual: “I’m a lifelong Republican but Trump surge proves that every bad Democrats have ever said about GOP is basically true.” Welcome to the club, Max. Happy to have you.

In addition to embracing the worst elements of its base, the GOP also blundered in its strategic decision to cede the business of governing to Democrats and focus instead on obstructing President Obama. “Our top political priority over the next two years,” Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell famously said in 2010, “should be to deny President Obama a second term.”
One of the less incoherent objections Trumpites raise against the Republican Party is that it hasn’t delivered on any of its promises. Legislatively, the GOP has been virtually useless. Election after election, session after session, Republicans have failed to pass any meaningful pieces of legislation, which is what happens when compromise becomes a heresy in your party.
The GOP’s stated strategy – at least since Obama was elected – has been to create gridlock, to make the country ungovernable. Recall how they used the nation’s credit rating to blackmail the opposing party, not to accomplish anything but to score points with their purist base. And just this week, we have the nihilsm of a Republican senate, led by McConnell, refusing to do its job and consider President Obama’s Supreme Court nomination. The bogus talking point is that the people’s voice ought to be heard before choosing a new Justice. But the people already spoke in the last election, when they gave Obama a second term. But that doesn’t matter because McConnell is hostage to the Tea Party reactionaries that dominate the Republican-led Congress. This is the kind of bureaucratic inertia Americans are rejecting.

In their bottomless cynicism, Republicans have tried to break the government so that they could then reproach the Democrats for ruining it. This worked temporarily, but it was bound to backfire at some point.

Now something like 87 percent of the country disapproves of the job Congress is doing. Republicans wagered that the country would blame Obama for the mess they manufactured. Instead, their base is – rightly – blaming the GOP establishment, and Donald Trump is delivering the message. Trump voters hate Obama, of course, but not nearly as much as they do their own party.

The GOP committed itself to grievance politics and a strategy of political arson years ago. Had they gone another way, had they been serious about the difficult work of governance, Donald Trump would not have devoured their party this cycle. Once again, he’s their Frankenstein, and no one in the party can stop him.

Our only hope is that the Democrats will.

The Republican Party is the only threat our nation faces and the GOP is hell-bent on destroying the USA


Hillary Clinton threatens violence if she is not nominated!!!!


Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump called himself a “unifier” on Wednesday but warned that there would be “riots” if his party did not award him the nomination.

“I think there’s a natural healing process,” Trump told CNN’s Chris Cuomo following his Tuesday wins in Florida, Illinois, North Carolina and Missouri. “Once the battle is over, once the war is over, I think there really is a natural healing process. And I’ve gotten along with people all my life. This is actually a little bit unusual.”

“I think we will win before getting to the convention,” he continued. “But I can tell you, if we didn’t and if we’re 20 votes short or if we’re 100 short and we’re at 1,100 and somebody else is at 500 or 400 because we’re way ahead of everybody, I don’t think you can say that we don’t get it automatically, I think you would have riots. I think you would have riots.”

Trump reminded Cuomo that he represented “many millions of people.”

“If you disenfranchise those people and you say that I’m sorry but you’re 100 votes short even though the next one is 500 votes short, I think you would have problems like you’ve never seen before,” he insisted. “I think bad things would happen.”

Exactly what would Republicans and Tea Partiers say if a Democrat were to threaten violence just as Donald Trump is doing?

It's NOT the protestors throwing punches at Trump rallies

Courtesy of The Intellectualist:  

From a friend on Facebook: 

“Last night my friend’s good friend was badly beaten in front of her [teenage] daughter while she was holding a protest sign at the Trump rally in Chicago. 

Her arm was broken, her head had to be stapled and she’s in terrible shape as you can imagine. 

I don’t know all the details of what happened yet, but I find myself further wondering about his “fans”‘

I guess we can assume that if the person who did this to this poor woman is arrested,  Trump will gladly pay his legal fees.

You know, because he is so against violence and everything. 

Here it is. The Repubican Party

For some time I've been trying to put my finger on an exact description of how the Tea Party and the Republican Party operate.  Now I remember . . .

 . . .  
Go ahead and hate your neighbor
Go ahead and cheat a friend
Do it in the name of heaven
You can justify it in the end

. . . 
 "One Tin Soldier"
--- performed by Jinx Dawson and Coven in the movie "Billy Jack," 1971

Kentucky and Texas biblethumpers are trying to enact a "christian" version of sharia law.

I find it extremely hypocritical -- but not unexpected or surprising -- that biblethumpers who warn about "sharia law" are themselves trying to enforce their own brand of sharia law on the rest of us.

Americans keep hearing, and obviously errantly still believe, that the evangelical theocratic movement is on the decline in part due to last year’s Supreme Court marriage equality ruling. However, that is not true and, in fact, the Republican religious right is going forward with harsher laws giving evangelical fanatics religious authority to deny equality to an ever-increasing number of Americans.

The latest drive toward an iteration of Sharia Law for the cult of right-wing Christians panting for a theocracy is playing out in Kentucky. A new Kentucky bill, SB 180, titled “An Act Relating to the Protection of Rights,” creates a state-wide group of “protected activities” and “protected activity providers” to afford immunity from any federal or state laws. The laws intent is so “protected activity providers” (read Christian) can never be fined or charged with any crime for violating the Constitution, Court rulings, or federal laws. Seriously, this is likely the most expansive “permission to persecute” non-compliance the nation has yet experienced.

The Kentucky bill was created specifically to allow any Christian to refuse providing any kind of service to anyone, at any time, and any place if they simply “identify that person as offensive to their religious beliefs.” Now, if any reader thinks this horrid religious law is just about giving evangelicals the power of a state law to deny only gay Kentucky residents their civil and equal rights, they are mistaken. The religious law gives any evangelical racist or bigot the right to refuse services of any kind, including government and lifesaving medical services to “interracial, interfaith, atheistic, Muslim, divorced, or any other kind of person their “religion” disapproves; for evangelicals that is every and anyone who is not a white, heterosexual Christian Republican.

This dirty attempt at using religion to strip constitutionally protected civil and equal rights from non-compliant Americans is legend, and goes far beyond backwaters like Kentucky. In fact, to demonstrate just how twisted these Republican theocrats are, and how much they hate the U.S. Constitution, the Texas Attorney General was effusive over appointing another theocrat as his assistant. Ken Paxton is not impressed with his choice’s knowledge of Texas law or the Constitution, but because like Paxton he lacks even a fundamental comprehension of the law of the land or how it protects the civil rights of all Americans.

It is fairly well-known that if Texas’ evangelical Attorney General Ken Paxton could unilaterally eliminate the Constitution’s Establishment Clause, he would have done it years ago. Last summer to show solidarity with Kim Davis, and demonstrate his stark opposition to the 14th Amendment, preacher Paxton convinced Texas County clerks that it was their religious duty to discriminate against gay couples. He assured the faithful and bigoted clerks that they could violate the Constitution and Supreme Court with impunity and absolute confidence they were above the law. Paxton told the state’s religious clerks to violate gay people’s Constitutionally-protected civil and equal rights because the state of Texas was prepared deploy “numerous lawyers to assist clerks defending their religious beliefs.”

It was no surprise, then, that when it was necessary to appoint a new First Assistant Attorney General, Paxton chose a raging theocrat because he hates gays, opposes the U.S. Constitution and wants an American theocracy. Paxton’s choice, Jeff Mateer is a raging homophobe who used to work at a Christian legal organization formerly known as Liberty Institute. Liberty Institute is the evangelical legal defense group crusading to protect and embolden evangelicals pushing for an American theocracy.

To show how out-of-touch with reality and the law of the land he swore to defend and uphold, Mateer demonstrated to college students just how little he knows about the Constitution. He also revealed how intent he is on aiding the religious right to impose an evangelical theocracy on Americans. He told a group of students,

“I’ll hold up my hundred-dollar bill and say, ‘for the first student who can cite me the provision in the Constitution that guarantees the separation of church and state, I’ll give this hundred dollar bill. It’s not there. The protections of the First Amendment protect us from government, not cause government to persecute us because of our religious beliefs.”

Only in a theocratic mind are the Constitution’s equal rights provisions anything close to allowing “the government to persecute Christians because of their religious beliefs.” On the subject of the Founding Fathers’ “Separation Clause,” it is prescient that a man swearing to uphold and defend the nation’s founding document lacks even a rudimentary comprehension of the “law of the land” and serves as Texas’ second ranking law enforcement official. Besides, there are plenty of documents proving the Constitution’s framers and Founders’ inclusion of the 1st Amendment’s religious clauses are there specifically as “a wall of separation;” something Mateer and his ilk would know if they could read the English language.

In fact, Constitution Framer, Founding Father, and fourth American President James Madison declared argued at the Constitutional Convention in 1789 that the purposes of the religious clauses in the 1st Amendment were to protect Americans’ civil rights. He said, “The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship of another, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights be in any manner, or on any (religious) pretext, infringed.”

Madison’s intent was protecting the people from exactly what evangelical Republicans are attempting today; “abridging nonbelievers’ civil rights on account of evangelicals’ religious beliefs.” Remember, Madison, Washington, Adams, and particularly Jefferson knew of the potential danger posed by religious immigrants from Europe seeking a new nation to impose “their religion” as the government.

Paxton appointing Mateer caught the attention of the president of Texas Freedom Network, Kathy Miller, who stated what the evangelical cult is doing to tyrannize American citizens refusing to adhere to the Christian iteration of Sharia Law;

“Cynical politicians across the country are using ‘their religious freedom’ to allow businesses, individuals, and government officials to fire or deny equal rights and services to people who offend their religious beliefs. Allowing the use of religion as a weapon to harm others is a radical redefinition of the concept of religious liberty. Today that weapon is aimed at laws that protect gay and transgender people from discrimination. But Mr. Mateer’s arguments open the door to allow the use of religion to ignore virtually any law that everyone else must obey.”

Miller left out that religious tyrants like Texas’ Paxton, Mateer, and Kentucky Republicans use religion to persecute any American who refuses to worship according to evangelical Christianity or obey their twisted theocratic edicts; precisely what “the faithful Republicans” accuse radical Muslims terrorists in ISIS of doing. And, when the Courts and Constitution get in the way, evangelicals scream they are being persecuted for their faith; and no-one dares dispute their lies due to cowardice.

Many Americans were certain that over the past couple of years the theocratic movement to take over America had been dealt some fatal blows from the courts hewing to the Constitution. However, these religious fanatics are rabid wild beasts. Instead of following their own god’s admonition to obey the government authorities and laws of the land, they are Hell-bent on establishing a Taliban-like authority to punish any American unwillingly to conform to evangelicals’ concept of a faithful follower. And all the while, no politician is willing to defend the Constitution or the people on the grounds that the Founding Fathers’ idea of “religious freedom” was protecting the innocent people from religious fanatics. 

For comparison: This is how a REAL President handles protestors

Eyewitness account from the Trump Chicago rally-that-wasn't

I made it back from the Donald Trump Chicago no-show rally. I have attached a video of the moment after it was announced that Il Duce Trump would not be making an appearance.

I have a longer piece that I just finished. These are some quick and initial thoughts.

1. I am safe.

2. Trump's supporters are racist, nativist, bigoted thugs. Some of them are just profoundly ignorant and contrarian malcontents. Others are more dangerous.

3. Don't believe the Fox News lie. Almost all of the "fights" were started by Trump supporters. I was pretty close to several of them.

4. There are lots of very angry and racially resentful white conservatives in this country. I know this to be true as an empirical fact. Seeing it first hand and listening to them behind me in line is another matter.

5. The Chicago police exercised great restraint. They were professionals.

6. Black conservative shuck and buck artists are everywhere. Several of them tried to earn points for their white masters by fighting Black Lives Matter and other protesters.

7. I can be hard on America's young people. Based on what I saw with the black, brown, white, yellow, and red brothers and sisters at the Chicago rally I think we may somehow be okay.

8. When it was announced that the Trump rally was canceled some of his supporters looked like they were going to cry. Santa Claus ain't coming to their house this year.

9. I am unsure if Donald Trump ever intended to show up. He is a manager of optics and he may have just wanted to try to gain sympathy and win over more of the Reagan Democrats "law and order" types.

10. There was lots of hippie-punching rhetoric and behavior to be had at the Chicago Trump rally.

Donald Trump is the cause of violence at his rallies. And, no, the Chicago police did not ask him to cancel.

The rally was NOT shut down due to recommendations by the Chicago police.

It was shut down because Frankenstein was not prepared to face the monster of his own creation.

This morning both Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz were making political points by blaming this on Trump and reminding people that this ONLY happens at Trump rallies.

So the question to ask is "Has Donald Trump FINALLY gone too far? Or will this too have no real impact on his campaign?"

Meanwhile, let's review why Trump himself is the cause of the violence at his rallies.  Here's a a video timeline of Trump inciting violence over and over and over.

No, Trump is not Hitler. He's Mussolini.

In an interview with Slate, the historian of fascism Robert Paxton warns against describing Donald Trump as Fascist because “it’s almost the most powerful epithet you can use.”  But in this case, the shoe fits.  And here is why.

Like Mussolini, Trump rails against intruders (Mexicans) and enemies (Muslims), mocks those perceived as weak, encourages a violent reckoning with those his followers perceive as the enemy within (the roughing up of protesters at his rallies), flaunts the rules of civil political discourse (the Megyn Kelly menstruation spat), and promises to restore the nation to its greatness not by a series of policies, but by the force of his own personality (“I will be great for” fill in the blank).

To quote Paxton again, this time from his seminal The Anatomy of Fascism: “Fascist leaders made no secret of having no program.” This explains why Trump supporters are not bothered by his ideological malleability and policy contradictions: he was pro-choice before he was pro-life; donated to politicians while now he rails against that practice; married three times and now embraces evangelical Christianity; is the embodiment of capitalism and yet promises to crack down on free trade.  In the words of the Italian writer Umberto Eco, Fascism was “a beehive of contradictions.”  It bears noting that Mussolini was a socialist unionizer before becoming a Fascist union buster, a journalist before cracking down on free press, a republican before becoming a monarchist.

Like Mussolini, Trump is dismissive of democratic institutions.  He selfishly guards his image of a self-made outsider who will “dismantle the establishment” in the words of one of his supporters.  That this includes cracking down on free press by toughening libel laws, engaging in the ethnic cleansing of eleven million people (“illegals”), stripping away citizenship of those seen as illegitimate members of the nation (children of the “illegals”), and committing war crimes in the protection of the nation (killing the families of suspected terrorists) only enhances his stature amongst his supporters.  The discrepancy between their love of America and these brutal and undemocratic methods does not bother them one iota.  To borrow from Paxton again: “Fascism was an affair of the gut more than of the brain.”  For Trump and his supporters, the struggle against “political correctness” in all its forms is more important than the fine print of the Constitution.

To be fair, there are many differences between Italian Fascism of interwar Europe and Trumpism of (soon to be) post-Obama America.  For one, Mussolini was better read and more articulate than Trump.  Starting out as a schoolteacher, the Italian Fascist read voraciously and was heavily influenced by the German and French philosophers Friedrich Nietzsche and Jean-Marie Guyau, respectively. I doubt Trump would know who either of these two people were.  According to The Boston Globe, Trump speaks at the level of a fourth grader.

There are other more consequential differences of course: the interwar Italy was a much bigger mess than the U.S.A. is today; the democratic institutions of this country are certainly more resilient and durable than those of the young unstable post-World War I Italy; the economy, both U.S. and worldwide, is not in the apocalyptic state it was in the interwar period; and the demographics of the U.S.A. mitigate against the election of a racist demagogue.  So, Trump’s blackshirts are not marching on Washington, yet.

Also, as a historian I have learned to beware of historical analogies and generally eschew them whenever I can, particularly when it comes to an ideology that during World War II caused the deaths of 60 million human beings. The oversaturation of our discourse with Hitler comparisons is not only exasperating for any historian, but is offensive to the memory of Hitler’s many victims most notably the six million Jews his regime murdered in cold blood.

Finally, rather than explaining it, historical analogies often distort the present, sometimes with devastating consequences.  The example that comes to mind is the Saddam-is-like-Hitler analogy many in the George W. Bush administration used to justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which was an unmitigated disaster.  The overuse, or misuse, of a historical analogy can also make policy makers more hesitant to act with equally disastrous consequences: the prime examples are Bosnia and Rwanda in the 1990s when the West attributed their inaction to stop the slaughter in each country by arguing that these massacres were “not like the Holocaust.”

Thus, for a historical analogy to be useful to us, it has to advance our understanding of the present.  And the Trumpism-Fascism axis (pun intended) does this in three ways: it explains the origins of Trump the demagogue; it enables us to read the Trump rally as a phenomenon in its own right; and it allows those of us who are unequivocally opposed to hate, bigotry, and intolerance, to rally around an alternative, equally historical, program: anti-fascism.

The Very Fascist Origins of Trumpism

That white supremacist groups back Donald Trump for president of the United States, and his slowness to disavow the support of David Duke, all illuminate the fascistic origins of Trump the phenomenon.  In fact, Paxton acknowledges that while Fascism began in France and Italy, “the first version of the Klan in the defeated American south was arguably a remarkable preview of the way fascist movements were to function in interwar Europe.” That the KKK was drawn to the Trump candidacy, and that he refused to disavow them speak volumes about his fascistic roots.

Like Fascism, Trumpism has come about on the heels of a protracted period of ideological restlessness.  Within the Republican Party this restlessness has resulted in a complete de-legitimization of the so-called GOP establishment.

Benito Mussolini came to the scene in the 1920s at a time when all the known “isms” of the time had lost their mojos.  Conservatism, which since the French Revolution had been advocating for monarchy, nobility, and tradition, was dealt a devastating blow by the First World War, which destroyed four major empires (Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, Russian, and German), made universal male suffrage (mostly) the norm, and eliminated a generation of aristocrats.  Although initially seen as victorious, liberalism, in its emphasis on equality, constitutions, parliaments, and civil debates, quickly proved unable to solve the mammoth problems facing Europe after the war.  To the millions of unemployed, angry, and hungry Europeans, the backroom politicking and obscure party debates seemed petty at best, and deserving of destruction at worst.  Shoving millions of Europeans into nation-states they saw as alien to their ethnicity created huge minority problems and sparked irredentist movements including fascists and their many copycats.  The success of Lenin’s Bolsheviks in Russia and their protracted, terrifying, civil war made Communism unpalatable for most Europeans.

Enter Fascism. Fascism promised people deliverance from politics.  Fascism was not just different type of politics, but anti-politics.  On the post-WWI ruins of the Enlightenment beliefs in progress and essential human goodness, Fascism embraced emotion over reason, action over politics.

 Violence was not just a means to an end, but the end in itself because it brought man closer to his true inner nature.  War was an inevitable part of this inner essence of man.  Millions of European men had found this sense of purpose and camaraderie in the trenches of the First World War and were not going to sit idly by while politicians took it away from them after the war (famously, after the war Hitler was slow to demobilize and take off his uniform).  Fascists’ main enemies were not just Marxist politicians, or liberal politicians, but politicians in general.

It is therefore no coincidence that the most common explanation Trump supporters muster when asked about their vote is that “he is no politician.”  Trump did not invent this anti-politics mood, but he tamed it in accordance with his own needs.  Ever since the election of Barack Obama the Republicans have refused to co-govern.  Senator Mitch McConnell’s vow that his main purpose would be to deny the president a second term was only the first of many actions by which the Republicans have retreated from politics.  The Tea Party wave meant an absolute refusal to compromise on even the most essential issues, which were central to the economic survival of the government if not the entire country (the Debt ceiling fiasco anyone?!).  But since then it has gotten worse: now even the establishment Republicans who had been initially demonized by the Tea Party, such as Mitch McConnell, have openly abrogated their own constitutional powers by refusing to exercise them.  This has been most evident in their blanket refusal to even hold a hearing for a Scalia replacement on the Supreme Court.  In other words, the Republicans themselves, not Trump, broke politics.

The anti-intellectualism of Trump has also been a long time in the making.  It was the Republican establishment that has for decades refused to even consider the science of climate change and has through local education boards strove to prevent the teaching of evolution. Although not as explicit as the Fascists were in their efforts to use the woman’s body for reproducing the nation, the Republican attempts at restricting abortion rights, and women access to healthcare in general have often been designed with the same purpose in mind.  Of course American historians have pointed to this larger strand of anti-intellectualism in American politics, but what is different about this moment is that Trump has successfully wedded this anti-Enlightenment mood with the anti-political rage of the Republican base.

The vast majority . . .

Leonard Pitts nails it: Republicans are destroying themselves. Will they take the rest of us with them?

Leonard Pitts nails it.
The Republicans are destroying themselves. 

-- quote --

“If he was for it, we had to be against it.”
former U.S. Sen. George Voinovich quoted in ‘The New New Deal’ by Michael Grunwald
The “he” is President Obama. The “we” is the Republican Party. And it is not coincidental that as the former pushes toward the end of his second term, the latter is coming apart.

The GOP is an incoherent mess. Republican-on-Republican rhetorical violence has become commonplace. Party members find themselves mulling whether to break away and form a third party or unite behind a coarse, blustering bigot whose scapegoating and strongman rhetoric has Holocaust survivors compar-ing him to Hitler.

The situation is so objectively and transparently grim that many on the right no longer even bother to spin it. “I’m a lifelong Republican,” tweeted historian Max Boot last week, “but [Donald] Trump surge proves that every bad thing Democrats have ever said about GOP is basically true.”

“It would be terrible,” wrote Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens last week, “to think that the left was right about the right all these years.”

But it can be argued that Trump is less the cause than an inevitable effect of the party’s looming disintegration. It can be argued that what’s really destroying the Republican Party is the Republican Party.

The popular storyline goes that voters are seeking political outsiders this year in their frustration over a government where the legislative gears are frozen and nothing gets done. What that storyline forgets is that this gridlock was by design, that GOP leaders held a meeting on the very evening of the president’s first inauguration and explicitly decided upon a policy of non-cooperation to deny him anything approaching a bipartisan triumph.

The party followed this tactic with such lockstep discipline and cynical disregard for the national welfare that in 2010, seven Republican co-sponsors of a resolution to create a deficit reduction task force voted against their own bill because Obama came out for it. They feared its passage might make him look good.

In the book quoted above, Michael Grunwald distilled the GOP’s thinking as follows: “As long as Republicans refused to follow his lead, Americans would see partisan food fights and conclude that Obama had failed to produce change.”

Republicans and their media accomplices buttressed that strategy with a campaign of insult and disrespect designed to delegitimize Obama. With their endless birther stupidity, their death panels idiocy, their constant budget brinksmanship and their cries of, “I want my country back!” they stoked in the public nothing less than hatred for the interloper in the White House who’d had the nerve to be elected president.

And the strategy worked, hobbling and frustrating Obama. But as a bullet doesn’t care who it hits and a fire doesn’t care who it burns, the forces of ignorance and unreason, grievance and fear the Republicans calculatedly unleashed have not only wounded the president. No, it becomes more apparent every day that those forces have gravely wounded politics itself, meaning the idea that we can — or even should — reason together, compromise, form consensus.

There is a sense of just deserts in watching panicked Republicans try to stop Trump as he goose-steps toward coronation, but it is tempered by the realization that there’s far more at stake here than the GOP’s comeuppance.

This is our country we’re talking about. This is its future we choose in November. And any future presided over by “President Trump” is too apocalyptic to contemplate. Yet, the possibility is there, and that’s sobering.

It is bad enough the Republicans may have destroyed themselves. One wonders whether they will take America with them.

-- end quote --

America's rightwing has been taken over by a destructive force

How the GOP’s Spirit of Strife Has Damaged the Nation

-- quote --

Appearing in newspapers in the conservative VA-06

Why have our politics become so dysfunctional? The answer is really not so hard to find.
Our founders knew the nation would always have its divisions — of interests, values, opinions. The hope in framing the Constitution was that we’d nonetheless find ways to move the nation forward by negotiating compromises.

The question “How can we fight to increase our power?” would always be there, they understood, but the question “How can we cooperate to serve the good of the nation?” was supposed to have greater weight.

But in our times the spirit of conflict has overpowered the spirit of cooperation. And it is clear that it was on one side of the battle lines that this view of politics as a kind of war gained ascendancy.
Since the early 90s, I have been in regular contact with both conservatives and liberals. As Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich embarked on their campaigns to foster hostility toward “librels,” one could hear growing hostility from people on the right toward those on the other side.

This antagonism from the right escalated for a very long time, as I can testify, before it began to be reciprocated by many liberals. It is, indeed, only in the past several years that the anger that liberals have been receiving from conservatives for nearly a generation has begun to be returned.

The practice of politics as war was strengthened still further during the presidency of George W. Bush. The year 2002 was pivotal in the choice of strife over cooperation.

In the wake of 9/11, the Democrats – in accordance with the American custom in wartime – set aside differences and rallied round the president. But then President Bush (and his strategist Karl Rove) chose to break apart that national unity in order to gain an electoral advantage. They deliberately put into the bill creating the Department of Homeland Security a “poison pill” — putting in an irrelevant piece, which they knew Democrats could not support, that undermined labor — to trap the Democrats into voting against that form of the bill.

The idea for that department had come from the Democrats (and been resisted for months by the president), but now their “no” votes could be used to defeat them in the coming elections for being “soft on terrorism.” In order to gain the Republicans another Senate seat, they even smeared an American patriot like Senator Max Cleland of Georgia – who’d left three of his limbs in Vietnam – as someone aligned with Osama bin Ladin.

Politics as combat took new form when Barack Obama became president, and the Republicans decided to make it their priority to make him fail. Such a decision was unprecedented in American history—let alone at a time of national crisis, when the economy was teetering on the edge of an abyss, and when therefore the president’s failure could mean suffering for millions of Americans.
Because of the across-the-board obstructionism the Republicans chose, we’ve lately seen the least productive Congresses of our history. Can anyone name an issue that the Republicans have approached in the spirit of “What can we accomplish, despite our differences, that will create a better America?”

And now the spirit of strife has erupted in spectacular fashion in the two biggest political stories of the present moment.

As soon as a vacancy opened on the Supreme Court, the Republicans in the Senate made an unprecedented declaration of non-cooperation. Never before in American history has a Senate refused categorically to consider any nominee they might receive from the president in office when a vacancy opened up on the highest court. “Advise and consent” has been perverted into the all-out strife of “no consent no matter what.”

Meanwhile, in the race for the Republican nomination for president, an apparently unstoppable frontrunner — of a nature likewise unprecedented — has arisen.

Never have we seen a candidate in the presidential arena so eager to pick even unnecessary fights – not only with his presidential rivals, but also with Fox News and Megyn Kelly, Mexicans and Muslims, journalists. With this bellicosity, Donald Trump has captured passions in the Republican base to become the Party’s dominant leader. Trump is a leader suitable for a party that for a generation has taught its followers to see politics as a form of combat.

Politics as cooperation requires both sides. Politics as war can be imposed upon the whole system by the choice of any one side.

And so it is that –as the Republican Party has become increasingly possessed by the spirit of conflict – our political system has become dysfunctional, disabled from working toward a better America.

-- end quote --  

Read more by Andy Schmookler here:  What We're Up Against


This is what happens with Republicans in charge

Piyush "Bobby" Jindal abandoned his home state of Louisiana to mount a completely pathetic campaign for President. He pranced around with cast members of Duck Dynasty, cheered the far right, and made a fool of himself, exiting the race long before a single vote was cast.

Behind him, he left Louisiana, which has a Republican-dominated legislature and is facing an unprecedented calamity which now has to be repaired by its new Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards.
Louisiana now stands at the brink economic disaster. Without sharp and painful tax increases in the coming weeks, the government will cease to offer many of its vital services, including education opportunities and certain programs for the needy. A few universities will shut down and declare bankruptcy. Graduations will be cancelled. Students will lose scholarships. Select hospitals will close. Patients will lose funding for treatment of disabilities. Some reports of child abuse will go uninvestigated.
“Doomsday,” said Marketa Garner Walters, the head of Louisiana’s Department of Children & Family Services. If the state can’t raise any new revenue, her agency’s budget, like several others, will be slashed 60 percent.
Jindal  cut taxes for the wealthy during his eight years in office, and created brand new giveaway subsidies to big business – that created a giant deficit, even though conservative Republicans claim to be fiscal geniuses.

And now Louisiana may be forced to raise taxes on a population where 18% live below the poverty line, as well as implement cuts on services helping those same people who need it the most.
The state is a mess, but it isn’t out the ordinary for Republican-run states that often claim they are perfect examples of the right’s philosophies, in a positive way.

On the same day that the overall national jobs report beat expectations and the country continued its jobs growth record under President Obama, Republican-dominated Kansas again had a major failure. The state LOST 4,000 jobs all in the month of January, and has only added 1,400 jobs across the entire state in the last 12 months. The state has only grown 0.1 percent while the country has grown 1.9 percent.

Republican-run states have a terrible future in front of them, but their GOP leaders are so blinded by ideology they don’t even notice the lives they are ruining.