June 11, 2022 Wayne Northey

Interaction With: When the US Is Truly Run by These Fascists It Will Be Too Late

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Thom Hartmann

June 8, 2022

image above: That single strongman Leader is the key to understanding everything else that happens when a country flips from democracy to oligarchy to fascism.

Donald Trump never changes his playbook. He behaves like a mob boss, and these messages are fashioned in that style. Giving an order without giving the order. No fingerprints attached.–former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen

WN: As to Trump’s words about Obama in the image above: I have a close relative who with great disparagement constantly claimed that too–throughout Obama’s two terms. I never denied that all Presidents routinely lie.

He loves Trump though. Not once has he ever let on anything about Trump’s gargantuan mountain of lies! Not once!–or did I say that? Not once!–for good measure.

The scale of those? Please see: Trump’s false or misleading claims total 30,573 over 4 years, by , and . And this is a relative who rather pompously rails against people–university-educated especially!–who can’t “think”. . .  I can’t say exactly what that means that my relative can’t ____. Words fail. Though he was especially university-educated which might be a clue. . .  He needs a bracing read of my post, Escape From the Trump Cult, though I think he doesn’t think. . . so. . . And cults cloy and burn like napalm. Sigh. . . Perhaps a bit of mockery might act like a bucket of cold water on his Trumped-up cranium–even arrest the cauterizing of the synapses? One can always hope and pray.

The article highlighted below is I suspect ominously prescient. But even here, Hartman misses (chooses to miss?) something huge (as can we all):

In relation to another fascist, George W. Bush,  on Iraq policy in 1991, we read of Madeleine Albright, whose book on fascism is mentioned below:

Correspondent Lesley Stahl in 1998 discussed with the then-United Nations ambassador how Iraq had been suffering from the sanctions placed on the country following the 1991’s Gulf War.

“We have heard that half a million [Iraqi] children have died. I mean, that is more children than died in Hiroshima,” Stahl said.1 “And, you know, is the price worth it?”

“I think that is a very hard choice,” Albright answered, “but the price, we think, the price is worth it.”

Please see:

Easily said, Ms. Albright, when they are not your children or grandchildren; when they are not America’s children, when they are not white: brutally sacrificed all in a nuclear or sanctions holocaust! Is that claim of yours not the very essence of fascism?: it’s always OK for fascists to let/cause others to die in the name of a “greater good.” . . . Shame, shame, double shame on you, Ms. Albright, a Jew of Holocaust lineage. You were a profoundly morally sick woman–at least on this issue.

The highlighted following article describes a potential classic instance of the proverbial frog in the water pot, as recounted with a moral here:

Once a frog fell in a vessel of the hot water. The Water was still on a gas stove. The frog still did not try to jump out of the vessel, instead just stayed in it. As the temperature of the water started to rise, the frog managed to adjust its body temperature accordingly. As the water started to reach the boiling point, the frog was no longer able to keep up and manage its body temperature according to the water temperature.

The frog tried to jump out of the vessel but with water temperature reaching its boiling point, the frog was not able to bear it and couldn’t make it. What was the reason that a frog couldn’t make it? Will you blame the hot water for it?

Moral: The frog couldn’t make it due to its own inability to decide when it had to jump out. We all need to adjust according to the situations but there are times when we need to face the situation and take the appropriate action when we have the strength to do so before it’s too late. Walk out before you need to jump.

The Boiling frog – Wikipedia article explains the metaphor thus:

The boiling frog story is generally offered as a metaphor cautioning people to be aware of even gradual change lest they suffer eventual undesirable consequences. It may be invoked in support of a slippery slope argument as a caution against creeping normality. It is also used in business to reinforce that change needs to be gradual to be accepted.[5] The term “boiling frog syndrome” is a metaphor used to describe the failure to act against a problematic situation which will increase in severity until reaching catastrophic proportions.[6] It thereby encapsulates the barely noticeable impact of slow environmental degradation that has been described by Daniel Pauly as shifting baselines.[7]

See on this as well, June 10, 2022, by , and : Rep. Liz Cheney tells Americans why Jan. 6 should terrify them. We read:

These hearings, which continue Monday, could mark the pinnacle of Cheney’s political career or the end of it.

The former rising star of the GOP has already been alienated by party leaders, abandoned by longtime supporters and consistently attacked by Trump and his allies, who are backing a primary challenger Cheney will face in August. While most of the nine other Republicans who voted to impeach Trump after Jan. 6 have either decided not to run for reelection or mostly avoided discussing the former president, Cheney has made her role as the vice chair of the select committee investigating the insurrection central to her pitch to voters. She is trying to convince them she’s on the right side of history — and that her Trump-free approach to conservatism is the right one.

In more than 20 conversations with lawmakers, political operatives, foes and friends of the Wyoming Republican, they uniformly describe her as obstinately and surgically focused on extinguishing Trump from the modern conservative movement that he has largely redefined in recent years, with little introspection regarding the forces bigger than Trump that facilitated her ousting from the Wyoming Republican Party earlier this year.

“I looked at my boys in the weeks after January 6th; it became very clear that we might suddenly have to question that,” Cheney said.“And I am absolutely committed to do everything I can do, everything that I am required and obligated to do to make sure that we aren’t the last generation in America that can count on a peaceful transition of power. It is hugely important.”

Further, please see my post:

Timothy Snyder: On Tyranny

October 25, 2021

In an interview with the author, we read:

ARI MELBER: “How worried are you that the United States could face a situation where coordinated efforts by these kind of officials could actually swing an election?”

TIMOTHY SNYDER: “Oh, we don’t need the ‘could’ … I mean, I would say we should be thinking of this as what is happening, and then ask ourselves what we can do to prevent it. I mean, it’s very clear that some combination of people who talk about the Big Lie being in important administrative posts, along with nonlegal or extralegal reviews of the election, perhaps along with states claiming for themselves the right to allocate electoral votes against the wishes of their own people. Some combination of that is clearly in the works, alongside voter suppression, which has a long and dark history in our country.

The scenario for 2024, for most influential people around Donald Trump, which unfortunately means one of the political parties, is precisely to be installed without winning the election. That’s very consistent with everything Mr. Trump has ever said—in 2016, 2020, and now. So I don’t think it’s something that could happen; I think it’s something that’s underway, and the question is, can we accept this reality in time to take the measures we need to take to prevent it?”

As to the January 6 Committee, this article b, June 8, 2022, presents a novel, compelling perspective: The Jan. 6 Committee Has Already Blown It. We read:

We don’t need a committee to simply regurgitate what happened on Jan. 6, 2021. We need a committee that will preserve democracy on Jan. 6, 2025, and Jan. 6, 2029. We need a committee to locate the weaknesses in our democratic system and society and find ways to address them.

The core problem here is not the minutiae of who texted what to chief of staff Mark Meadows on Jan. 6 last year. The core problem is that there are millions of Americans who have three convictions: that the election was stolen, that violence is justified in order to rectify it and that the rules and norms that hold our society together don’t matter.

Not unlike the above, we read William Rivers Pitt, June 14, 2022 in Republican Witnesses Are Making a Damning Case Against Trump… 17 Months Late:

Bury him they did, shovelful by shovelful, throughout a day’s testimony that was not notably marred by the abrupt absence of former Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien. Clips of Stepien’s prior testimony were probably enough to send Trump up the walls of Mar-a-Lago like a parakeet trying to find an open window. The absence of the warm body was not, in the end, damaging to the case.

Bill Stepien. Bill Barr. Jason Miller. Chris Stirewalt. Matt Morgan. Eric Herschmann. Richard Donoghue. Al Schmidt. Byung Pak. Alex Cannon. Like Brutus and Cassius, these men came on Monday with knives drawn to carve down Caesar on national television. They were there — mostly under subpoena — to call The Big Lie a lie in broad daylight, to establish Trump knew it was a lie all along, and to speak of how they saw it all go down over a long run of dark days. They were all vital witnesses.

And there’s the rub… as the Bard’s Hamlet would say. Here’s the kind way The Washington Post said it: “One of the takeaways from this hearing is how many Trump advisers and government officials knew his voter fraud claims were false. From his attorney general to his campaign chairman to top DOJ officials, witness after witness destroyed his claims as farcical, and even detached from reality. But a lot of these officials did not say this publicly during the days leading up to Jan. 6, when it arguably would have mattered.” (Emphasis added)

excerpts:

It’s critical to lay out what a fascist America would look like now because this is what is being envisioned right now by many in the Republican Party, and it might come to pass.

We know how easily a government can be toppled and how close we came in 2020: if just five Republicans had not refused to go along with Trump we’d be in this fascist dystopia today.

They don’t talk about it out loud very much, like Nixon’s man G. Gordon Liddy used to back in the day when he signed memos using Hitler’s SS symbol. But there is a model here and they do have something in mind.

What could it be? What would it look like? How will it most likely come about?

If you challenge the Leader, you’re challenging the state, and that’s treason.

Whatever the Leader says becomes the law. This is called “rule by decree” and it’s where every fascist in history has ended up.

The power to rule by decree goes back to the days of kings and is also embedded in our laws about the president’s emergency powers. Trump came close to invoking it with an “emergency declaration” when he lost the election. General Flynn begged him to do it and “temporarily suspend the Constitution.”

Next time, he won’t be so restrained and he will have surrounded himself in advance with people like Flynn who will make it happen. While it will change how power is distributed in our government, things will still look much the same.

We know how easily a government can be toppled and how close we came in 2020: if just five Republicans had not refused to go along with Trump we’d be in this fascist dystopia today.

If a fascist like Trump rises to power again in the United States, there will still be all the trappings of democracy.

The House and Senate, state houses and governors, bureaucracies and political systems will remain intact. Everything looks normal on the surface.

But when you peel off the top layer, you discover that all of those people in all of those offices, whether elected or bureaucratic, are serving only one principle and one person and that is the Leader.

Soon opposition voices vanish from all but the most obscure media, and those few opposing voices that are tolerated are pointed to by the Leader as proof the nation is still an open democracy.

Jews and people of color may find a rougher time maintaining a job or staying safe from vigilantes, abuse, and discrimination but whites will be just fine, particularly white men.

There will still be Christmas parties, although people celebrating Hanukkah or Muslims praying may want to pull the shades closed.

Hate crimes and murders by vigilante groups start happening with such frequency that the media doesn’t bother to report them anymore.

Within a few years a little bit of every business activity in the country ends up in the Leader’s pocket. And the Leader uses that revenue to enrich himself, his inner circle, and those who are part of his military entourage, his private military.

That’s right: the Leader’s private military.

Its members won’t have to obey the law because, as agents of the Leader who’s above the law, they are, too. If they have to kill somebody, there will be no investigation unless it’s to cover up the crime. If they need to make somebody disappear, that person disappears.

They, along with the Leader’s allies, promote a law-and-order crime ideology in public that results in high levels of incarceration, heavily militarized police, and a disregard for the general rights of the average citizen, particularly racial and religious minorities.

This is how the kind of government the Donald Trump was trying to establish in America has played out, over and over again, across the world and throughout history.

Malcolm Turnbull, a former prime minister of Australia previously observed: “You know that great line that you hear all the time: ‘This is not us. This is not America.’ You know what? It is, actually.”Trump’s Big Lie Victims Slapped Him Back at the Jan. 6 Hearing.

This is how the kind of government the Donald Trump was trying to establish in America has played out, over and over again, across the world and throughout history.

In our own time we’ve seen it in Egypt, Turkey, Russia, Cuba, Hungary, the Philippines, Venezuela, and dozens of other countries around the world less well known for the nature of the government.

It may call itself left-wing or right-wing, but what really matters is that all power and authority rests with the Leader. Stalin was every bit the fascist that Hitler and Mussolini were; his fascism just had a different face and brand.

As dystopian as all this may sound, there are more governments in the world run this way today than there are democracies. It’s “normal.” Once established it’s almost impossible to dislodge without a crisis like the death of the Leader or an actual revolution.

This is how the kind of government the Donald Trump was trying to establish in America has played out, over and over again, across the world and throughout history.

After World War II, a Chicago reporter named Milton Mayer struggled to understand how Hitler was able to flip one of the world’s most stable democracies into fascism.2

An American Jew of German ancestry and a brilliant writer, Mayer went to Germany seven years after Hitler’s fall and befriended 10 “average Germans,” asking each how the Nazis rose to power in an otherwise civilized nation.

His book, They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45, is his story of that experience. Intertwined through it — first published in 1955 — are repeated overt and subtle warnings to future generations of Americans: to us, today.

Mayer quotes one of his German friends as describing what happened once the Leader seized power:

“This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter.”

Did the German people realize they’d abandoned democracy? That they would soon become international pariahs? The college professor Mayer interviewed answered:

“To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it—please try to believe me—unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop.

“Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that no ‘patriotic German’ could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing.

“And one day it is over his head.”

Is it possible this could happen in America? That all these “small steps” would one day lead to a dictatorial form of government that has so cowed the people, the politicians, and even the business community and media that it can’t be challenged?

Doesn’t the nation rise up and protest the destruction of its own democracy? Don’t the people pour into the streets?

Mayer’s professor gave us the answer:

“You see, one doesn’t see exactly where or how to move. Believe me, this is true. Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for the one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow.

“You don’t want to act, or even to talk, alone; you don’t want to ‘go out of your way to make trouble.’ Why not?—Well, you are not in the habit of doing it. And it is not just fear, fear of standing alone, that restrains you; it is also genuine uncertainty.”

Americans have been shouting about it lately, in venues like The New York Times and Madeleine Albright‘s book, Fascism: A Warning, and from legislators like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

But how do we know? Is there a sudden proclamation by the Leader that the nation is now “officially fascist”?

Back to Mayer’s German friend in 1954:

“But of course this isn’t the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.

“And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident, in my case my little boy, hardly more than a baby, saying ‘Jew swine,’ collapses it all at once, and you see that everything, everything, has changed and changed completely under your nose.”

America is changing as you read these words. In this fall’s election many of us will no longer be able to know if our voices, our attempts to vote, will actually decide who leads our nation.

Five Republicans on the Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that you can be purged from the voting rolls on a whim. In most states Republicans can take over electoral precincts, install their people (as we just learned they are doing right now) and run them under whatever rules they want.

Already, when the GOP inflicts 10-hour lines to vote on a state’s people, for example, you go to jail if you bring them water. If you make a mistake on your voting registration or ballot they can choose to send you to prison for five years or more.

Somehow, of the many people from both parties who are busted for this, only the Democrats end up going to prison.

And yet everything seems “normal.” As Mayer’s professor friend told him, when the Leader finally seizes control of all the levers of power from political to economic to spiritual, everything changes but everything also stays the same:

“The world you live in—your nation, your people—is not the world you were in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays.

“But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed.

“Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. Now you live in a system which rules without responsibility even to God.”

Please click on: It Will Be Too Late

Thom Hartmann

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Footnotes
  1. The second statement is not so. We read in Wikipedia:

    The United States detonated two atomic bombs over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki  on 6 and 9 August 1945, respectively. The two bombings killed between 129,000 and 226,000 people, most of whom were civilians, and remain the only use of nuclear weapons in armed conflict.[]

  2. In fact, Germany had been at the time of Hitler’s rise only briefly an unstable democracy:

    Defeated and partly occupied, Germany was forced to pay war reparations by the Treaty of Versailles and was stripped of its colonies and significant territory along its borders. The German Revolution of 1918–19 put an end to the German Empire and established the Weimar Republic, an ultimately unstable parliamentary democracy. In January 1933, Adolf Hitler, leader of the Nazi Party, used the economic hardships of the Great Depression along with popular resentment over the terms imposed on Germany at the end of World War I to establish a totalitarian regime. This Nazi Germany made racism, especially antisemitism, a central tenet of its policies, and became increasingly aggressive with its territorial demands, threatening war if they were not met.–Wikipedia[]

Always appreciate constructive feedback! Thanks.

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