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Monday, October 22, 2018

The Big Lie

In my scheme of the German state, there will be no room for the alien, no use for the wastrel, for the usurer or speculator, or anyone incapable of productive work.
-- Adolf Hitler, Interview with George Sylvester Viereck, 1923


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It was probably inevitable that we'd circle back 'round to this.

It is, after all, the perennial conservative boogeyman.

If you could point to the one thing that got Trump elected, the one thing that terrified both conservative voters and the Electoral College with equal revulsion, the one thing they feared more than a regulated and restrained Wall Street, more than universal healthcare, more than abortion, more than unions, more than teachers, more than empowered woman and uppity people of color, more than the wealthy and multi-billion dollar corporations being forced to pay their fair share, more than sane gun laws and gay marriage, more than peace, it would have to be this.

Immigration.


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Oh, they'll tell you -- and in fact are telling me right now on my Twitter feed -- that's it's not immigration per se they're against, but rather illegal immigration. They'll say they're fine with lawful immigration, with immigrants who obey the law, who follow the rules.

They’re fine with that.

Sure.

And that is true.

So far as it goes.


But it's also the worst kind of lie.


The Big Lie.

The kind of lie the Nazis told so well.

It’s the lie of fascists and of communists and all flavors totalitarianism, of abusers and tin-pot dictators the world over.

See, it’s not that we’re against all “those” people, it’s just that we want “those” people to follow the law. I mean, who doesn’t want a lawful society, right? That’s reasonable, isn’t it? That people follow the law?

Of course it is.

And then you change the law to make “those” people illegal.

And if anybody complains, well, they obviously have no respect for the law. They are, in fact, very likely criminals themselves, or criminal sympathizers.

And if the opposition becomes too vocal, well, you have an excuse to declare martial law and throw them into jail too.

Convenient, eh?


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You think I’m wrong?

You think I’m an alarmist?

I am watching the Democrat Party led (because they want Open Borders and existing weak laws) assault on our country by Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, whose leaders are doing little to stop this large flow of people, INCLUDING MANY CRIMINALS, from entering Mexico to U.S. In addition to stopping all payments to these countries, which seem to have almost no control over their population, I must, in the strongest of terms, ask Mexico to stop this onslaught - and if unable to do so I will call up the U.S. Military and CLOSE OUR SOUTHERN BORDER! The assault on our country at our Southern Border, including the Criminal elements and DRUGS pouring in, is far more important to me, as President, than Trade or the USMCA. Hopefully Mexico will stop this onslaught at their Northern Border. All Democrats fault for weak laws!

Trump declares migrants and asylum seekers as criminals, as the enemy – even though the people he’s talking about haven’t as yet broken a single US law. Nor declared their intention to do so.

Not one.

Walking through Guatemala, through Honduras, though El Salvador and Mexico isn’t a crime under US law. Or even a crime under the laws of those nations.

US laws do not apply to the leaders (or the citizens) of foreign countries. International laws and agreements likewise don’t apply to this migration, and in fact, in most regards international laws prohibit governments from preventing migration and enjoin nations to provide aid and comfort to those in need.

Having defined migrants as criminals and a dire threat to America, Trump then declares his political opponents, Americans, as enemies of the country – because in Trump’s mind he is America and thus any opposition must therefore be treason. Criminal.

With the stage, set, Trump then declares this a matter of sovereignty, of national security, of law. He demands other nations control their populations, even though the US has no authority to do so, and threatens military action if they do not comply. Military action. Don’t take my word for it, read those of the American President for yourself, “I will call up the U.S. Military and CLOSE OUR SOUTHERN BORDER!” That’s what he said. That’s what he said in a statement that is bookended by declaring Democrats as criminals and the enemies of America.

Is the hair standing up on the back of your neck yet? Because it should be.

Military action first on US soil and then an excuse to … invade the Sudetenland perhaps?

And if you still can’t see the parallels then you are a goddamned fool.


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Ask yourself something: Why is it that every time Trump says something like this, foreign actors swarm to his defense?

Why is it that agencies under the control of totalitarian regimes such as Russia and China and North Korea think building walls and using the military to crack down on your own people sounds like a good idea?

“Invite them to stay at your house if you like them so much. You pay for their food, schools, health care and everything else they want”

That was a foreign troll responding to my comments on Twitter. A fake account, created for this sort of thing, anonymous, not even trying to disguise its origin. Because it doesn’t have to. Because the sentiments expressed by this foreign agency exactly mirror those right here in America. They are the very words shouted by Republicans, by conservatives, by Trump’s own base. By Trump himself. And it’s become impossible to tell whether this foreign xenophobia drives American bigotry or if it is a reflection instead. It doesn’t matter because it is become a self-reinforcing feedback loop.

What if we took them up on this challenge?

I’ll take in these refugees, pay for their food, schools, healthcare, if in return conservatives alone pay for Trump’s wall, for his tax giveaway to billionaires and Fortune 500 companies, for the wars Republicans start and can’t seem to finish…

Is it a deal?

No?

No, I suppose not.


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Once upon a time, the Nazis promised to make Germany great again. That was a large part of their message in the aftermath of World War I and the Great Depression.

And at first, Germany indeed had a roaring economy under Hitler, which is how they could afford that massive military and eventually the invasion of other countries – not to mention the mass murder of their own people.

I would submit to you that there is more to freedom, to liberty, to justice, to morality, to civilization, to life, than just a “roaring economy.”

Money. Wealth. Economic might. Military strength. Power. This is what matters to Trump, to Republicans, to conservatives.

That’s why this migration disgusts them so much. Poverty. The powerless. Weakness. Victims. Dirty. Subhuman. Needy. Diseased. Hungry. Criminal. The enemy. That’s what they see.

It’s the same old hate.

The same old call to arms.

That’s what they see, inferiority, just as the Nazis regarded the Jews.

Speaking of Nazis, back in World War II the United States intelligence community – specifically the Office of Strategic Services, the core of what would later become the Central Intelligence Agency – compiled a detailed psychological profile of Adolf Hitler. The report said, in part, that Hitler’s basic rules for maintaining power were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.

History would call this technique The Big Lie

Joseph Goebbels, the Nazis’ Minister of Propaganda is often credited with the idea, but it was Hitler who first outlined it in Mein Kampf in 1925.

Never allow the public to cool off.

Never admit a fault or wrong.

Never concede that there may be some good in your enemy.

Never leave room for alternatives.

Never accept blame.

Concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong.

Repeat the lie, over and over, until enough people believe it.

You see it, don’t you?

You see the parallels.


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"Sadly, it looks like Mexico’s Police and Military are unable to stop the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of the United States."

Unable. Because, why?

Because the Mexican military is overwhelmed, out maneuvered and outgunned, by this horde of armed criminals and Middle Eastern types?

or

Is it not so much as unable as unwilling? Because it's less a military horde and more just a bunch of poor people, children mostly, looking for sanctuary, for a better life?

You note that Trump doesn’t tell you why.

Instead it’s Mexico’s fault. They’re weak. They’re unwilling. They’re unable. They can’t be trusted. They are not our friends. They are helping our enemies. That’s the implication here, isn’t it?

"Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in."

Criminals. Of course.

These must be criminals, by definition.

Trump switches between The Big Lie and the little ones with ease and somehow never seems to realize what he’s giving away.

For example: How do you know there are criminals? Rapists. Murders. Thieves. No, seriously, how do you know? Think about it. If this is true, how would the United States government know this? Where's the intelligence coming from? How are we getting it? Do we have intelligence assets embedded in this caravan?

Do we really?

Operating in ... Mexico?

On what pretext would these intelligence agents be operating on the soil of a sovereign foreign nation? An ally. What agency are these assets from? What operation is this part of? How was it funded? Is it a joint operation with foreign nations? Is Congress aware of this? What is the oversight? Is it a military operation? Civilian? Because there are some real legal implications here, implications that follow from Trump's statement "Criminals and Middle Easterners."

And speaking of “Middle Easterners,” Middle Easterners? That's not even an actual demographic. The Middle East is dozens of nations, some friendly to our interests, some hostile, many indifferent. Who are these so-called Middle Easterners? Where are they from? Again, how do you know?

How do you know if you don’t have intelligence assets directly embedded in the caravan?

Moreover, what the hell would somebody from the Middle East be doing in this migration? I mean, sure, Trump's insinuation, the dog whistle for his base, that's obvious, but pull the thread.

Ask the questions.

You see, if this is true, if Trump’s unspoken insinuation is true, if there are Middle Eastern terrorists in this caravan, then from a military and counterterrorism standpoint, if you know there are terrorists coming toward you, well, then doesn't that suggest an opportunity to you?

Doesn't it?

No?

Because it should. It’s a rudimentary tactic used damned near every day by law enforcement and the military.

Welcome the caravan, process the asylum seekers, take the "Middle Easterners" into custody without a fight. Low risk. Non violent. They come to you, you don't have to find them. You don’t have to risk your troop’s lives humping through the brush, kicking in doors. The terrorists give themselves up willingly. Right? You don’t need million dollar drones and satellite coverage and an army. Minimal risk, minimal cost. Set up a welcome center, in-process the whole migration, separate out the bad actors and process the rest of the asylum seekers in accordance with US law – i.e. grant them asylum or send them back. Congratulations, you’ve caught a bunch of terrorists. And treated the real immigrants with dignity and respect. If you produce actual terrorists, you’re be proven right, you’ll have a media coup, and it’ll be damned impossible for the bleeding heart liberals to argue with that.

I mean, goddamn, doesn't that seem the obvious tactic to take this threat Trump describes out of play?

I used to do this sort of thing for a living. I would have killed, so to speak, for a counterterrorism opportunity like this.

Which makes me wonder where this "intelligence” is coming from. Are there any actually generals involved in this? Any actual law enforcement experts? Any counterterrorism agents? The FBI? The CIA? Who's running this operation, rank amateurs?

Unless, you know, nobody is actually running anything and it's all just some bullshit made up in Trump's mind. Again.

"I have alerted Border Patrol and Military that this is a National Emergy. [sic]"

A national emergency.

Really, an actual, no foolin’ national emergency? 

How? How is this a national emergency? You notice again that Trump never tells you the details.

Trump seems to think that if this "caravan" reaches the border, we, what? Just have to let them in? Border Patrol can't do anything because ... Democrats? What? Doesn’t our law already prevent this?

"Must change laws!"

What laws will stop illegal immigration?

Taking away their kids didn't stop them.

Throwing them in prison doesn't stop them.

Deporting them doesn't stop them.

Shooting them dead doesn't stop them.

Rape, murder, robbery, death in the desert and in the jungle, doesn't stop them.

A wall sure as hell doesn't stop people and never has.

So what are we talking about here? What laws?

What law is Trump talking about? Again – again – you notice he never actually tells you this? No details. No references. Just vague "laws." What law? What new law?

"Every time you see a Caravan, or people illegally coming, or attempting to come, into our Country illegally, think of and blame the Democrats for not giving us the votes to change our pathetic Immigration Laws!"

Never allow the public to cool off.

Never admit a fault or wrong.

Never concede that there may be some good in your enemy.

Never leave room for alternatives.

Never accept blame.

Concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong.

Repeat the lie, over and over, until enough people believe it.

Three times in the last decade, once under George W. Bush, twice under Obama, Congress reached bipartisan agreement on immigration reform. Each time, it was Republicans who shot it down. Republicans. Not Democrats, Republicans. Last time they did it just to spite John McCain.

It's funny isn't it?

According to Republicans, new laws won't stop gun violence, only punish lawful gun owners. Too many laws already, they say. But immigration? Whoa doggies, we need us some new laws! Lots and lots of new laws! Yes, Sir!

But again, I digress.

"Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were not able to do the job of stopping people from leaving their country and coming illegally to the U.S."

Funny how Trump and his Republican base are suddenly all about big government -- so long as that big government is in other countries oppressing other people.

Just another example of the Republican motto: Fuck you, I got mine.

"We will now begin cutting off, or substantially reducing, the massive foreign aid routinely given to them."

US Foreign aid to Guatemala: $249 million. Honduras: $127 million. El Salvador. $74 million

"Massive foreign aid."

Massive.

In comparison, we give Israel about $5.4 BILLION in aid annually, but there I go digressing yet again.

You see it? You see it in context right?

Most of that paltry foreign aid to Central America never actually reaches the poor people of those countries. So, this threat is to the governments of those nations, to the wealthy of those nations, those in power. Crush the poor, pen them in, beat them down, or else we'll cut off your meal ticket. That’s the real message here. Brutalize your population or else. Get your people under control, that’s what Trump is telling them. 

Of course, this the same foreign policy we used with the Shah of Iran, the erstwhile President of the Philippines, the Batista government in Cuba, the current regime in Iraq, Africa, South America... Really paid off, didn’t it? Made us more secure, right? I mean, didn’t it?

Or did we create our own enemies?

And so, here we are.

Again.

Cut off foreign aid to impoverished Central American countries, take military action, making life there even more terrible for poor people and you expect this to some how stop those from attempting to flee in search of a better life? You expect this to make us safer? To somehow stave off the inevitable revolution and the creation of yet another enemy nation who hates our fucking guts?

Tell me again, what was the definition of insanity?


Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

-- Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus

128 comments:

  1. Thank you for this, Jim.

    It can't be said enough times.

    History doesn't "repeat" itself.

    It rhymes, and right now, it's rhyming pretty close Germany in the 1930s.

    We are heading down the road toward the cliff of Fascism in this country, unless we do something about it.

    We can stop this. We can avert this disaster and not go plunging over the Fascism Cliff and into the Abyss of Fascist Authoritarianism by changing direction and putting on the brakes.

    We can put on the brakes and start to end this madness in just over two weeks from now.

    We do that by voting.

    Get out and vote on Tuesday, November 6th. Or vote early, if your state has that option.

    Vote. Just vote.

    No excuses.

    Get out and vote for sanity, rationality, compassion, and for the future.

    Just. Vote.

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  2. I really wish you would consider running for office. Yes, you've said you won't and you've explained why, but, come one, Jim, the nation needs someone with intelligence and balls.

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  3. Did you leave out a decimal point in Israeli aid? 5.4 billion sounds about right--and entirely too much.

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    1. He did not leave out a decimal point. Google US Foreign Aid to Israel.

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    2. 38 billion in military aid over the next decade, according to the NYTimes

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    3. Aug 03, 2018: The U.S. Senate passed a measure that would codify into law the $38 billion defense aid package for Israel over 10 years that was negotiated in the final days of the Obama administration.


      https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/senate-passes-bill-to-enshrine-military-aid-package-to-israel-into-law-1.6340748

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    4. That's over a decade. Jim wrote that it was 54 billion annually. Either it needs a decimal point or annual needs to be changed to decade. Isreal gets too much aid, period. But that number is not vorrect.

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    5. This isn't about Israel. Here it is again. Scapegoat the Jews. Make sure you rub today's Germany in shit and don't even know wtf a decimal is? The point doesn't go here.

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  4. I'm terrified this moment in time is going to involve my oath at some point, and a willingness to face the repercussions of failure.

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  5. Shit. Quick proofread note.
    "I used to this sort of thing for a living."
    As to substance? Nailed it again, sir. Christ, I wish I could argue you're just being a sensationalist; an alarmist.
    But I truly fear for the republic.

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  6. Again, well-reasoned, logical, and brilliantly done. Thank You.

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  7. You are doing what the TV talking heads lack time, and probably the inclination and time to do. Making people think with clear, unanswered questions. Thanks again Chief. Now where did I put that rum, I feel I'm going to need it as long as tRump is in office and the GOP is strangling the congress

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  8. guess we need to give the statue back to France.

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    1. It would be better than seeing her pulled down for scrap.

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  9. I don't even know what to say about Trump et al anymore. :( The one thing I DO know is we must flip the House in the mid-terms, and if we took the Senate as well, all the better. If we fail... *shudder*

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  10. Excellent write-up as usual, thank you for always putting into words what I cannot. Point of clarification however, isn't the aid to Israel about 5 billion annually, not 54B/year?

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  11. I'm pretty sure I can't be the first one to offer my thanks for this. But anyway, thanks. I will tweet this to my 116 followers and I am sure that will help it get widespread attention. (That was sarcasm.)

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  12. Great, insightful piece, with well-researched supporting historical evidence. The parallels with the rise of Nazi Germany are stunning, yet people who aren't even Trump supporters choose to turn a blind eye, thinking something like that can't happen here. It can, and it will, if we don't raise our awareness and take action at the polls.

    Hey Jim - been a fan for quite a while. Would appreciate it if you could enable my comments on your Jim Wright FB page. And keep up the dog pics - lots of love for them coming from the mom of three (yes, I'm insane, and yes, my kitchen floor looks like a prairie full of tumblin' tumbleweeds) Great Pyrenees.

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    1. Check out the Stonekettle Station FB group. Jim's friends list is already full, but you can comment as you will on Stonekettle Station, and there are a lot of good people there.

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    2. He would have to remove friends, from his friends list, to do that. He has stated he won't. FB allows a person to have 5k friends. He has that, or close to that. If you can't comment, it is because you are not a friend, like most of us. He has also stated he won't allow full public access for reasons of control. Much easier to control friends, than controlling strangers. Besides, who has time to babysit those inevitable troll accounts, that would surely bombard his posts? THIS platform is all that is available to you. Just like it is to me.

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    3. You can still follow him on his Facebook page. Can't comment, but you get some of his posts in your feed. Unfortunately, you don't see them all unless you go to his page, but that's just the way Facebook works.

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  13. Jerry Beingesser I have relatives and good friends that are Hispanic. Americans to the core. I fear they will be stopped and asked for their papers. That is the worst insult that a brown skinned person can tolerate.

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  14. Even when I don't totally agree with you, you have the ability to make me see another side of things. Thank you for your insight.

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  15. Well said, as always. Those of us who agree will be voting "blue". Unfortunately, you are 'preaching to the choir'; you will never, unfortunately, convince a Drumpeter to listen to reason. "My mind is made up; don't confuse me with facts".They are brainwashed, indeed. It is frightening. Thank you for your strong voice. I share every post.

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  16. Well, there you go, calling out the POTUS as Hitler, the epitome of an intelligent but compassionless fascist dictator. I'll tell you this, your scope underestimates trump as his stupidity will likely carry well beyond anyone you have mentioned or alluded to thus far because as Einstein said: "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.". Trump is, if nothing else, the embodiment of amoral and immoral stupidity and well on his way to defining a new low for humanity.

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  17. So well explained, Jim. I just wish the Dems would get their act together and compose an alternate, viable vision for this situation. The time is now to directly confront the the web of calculated deception, lies and duplicity of this president with a new standard and approach.

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  18. I shared this essay, as I have many of your previous works.
    This time, though, is different.
    It's different because I am *literally* weeping over the futility of sharing it, knowing that those who most need to read it and to grok its implications, won't.

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  19. Oh, Jim...you are so on the mark. Where is the intelligence that confirms all the taunts and jeers about criminals, "Middle Easterners," DRUGS, etc.? Gee, if I were managing an influx of terrorists into the US I certainly would imbed them with a desperate wave of destitute asylum-seekers stranded on a bridge between Mexico and Guatemala, marching in slow formation right into the jaws of incarceration. That is just a brilliant maneuver. SMDH!

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  20. I fear that you are, as they say, preaching to the choir. We are working hard in our little corner of California, but I'm not sure we are even close to the hundredth monkey yet. The local ballot measure to make our county a sanctuary county has a lot of opposition. I will keep doing the best I can, but I am tired.

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  21. Vis-a-vis Señor Trump and his dissembling braggadocio, I take heart in the words of Percy Bysshe Shelley's classic sonnet, "Ozymandias."

    Thank you, Jim, for another superb essay.

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    1. I have "Ozymandias" and Yeats' "The Second Coming" tacked up on my cubicle wall as reminders and anchors. The republic is, indeed, in peril. Great essay, Jim. I am sharing and posting where I can.

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  22. Hell Jim, it was our strategy in El Salvador, Guatamala, Nicaraugua, and Honduras in the 1970s and 1980s. And it led to the Iran-Contra "affair" (how that escaped being Contra-gate I have no idea), the assassination of Oscar Romero, the slaughter of nuns and Jesuits at the UCA, etc. All of those military leaders were trained at the US Army School of the Americas at Ft. Benning, now euphamistically called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.
    We made this. We made this is so many ways it is practically impossible to count them all. And I fear it is going to get worse, much worse, before it gets better.

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    1. Weirdly, this didn't show up with my name. I'll claim what I wrote - Jane Lindamood

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    2. Fun fact. I was born toward the end of those things. US history classes don't mention them at all. I only know about them from outside reading for my own self-improvement.

      During my childhood, we were supporting an oppressive regime in El Salvador. I didn't find out about it until I was an adult and made an online friend from El Salvador who LIVED IT. We gave weapons to half of Central America, and not one of my teachers ever mentioned this.

      We deposed Mossadegh and put the brutal shah of Iran into power in the 1950s--and thus are the ultimate cause of Ayatollah Khomeini's takeover of that country, 20 years later. We armed bin Ladin and his cronies in the 80s because they were fighting against the Soviets in Afghanistan--knowing, even at the time, that they were reactionary extremists who wanted to drag Afghanistan into the dark ages. Schools don't teach about that either.

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    3. Archbishop Oscar Romero was just canonized as a Saint.

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  23. Wow... I will share widely.

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  24. I read this as djt was yammering to the press on his way to the chopper on his way to have Ted Cruz kiss his ass in public down there in Texas...he and his enablers are a threat to Nation and the planet.

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  25. Amazing article Jim. I'm so glad you are saying what needs to be said, and heard. So many are still living in denial, "It can't possibly be happening here... in the USA!"... but sadly, yes, yes it is. Thank you for saying what needs to be said and heard.

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  26. just one quick correction: "I would submit to you that there is more to freedom, to liberty, to justice, to morality, to civilization, to life, THAN just a “roaring economy.” I only noticed it myself when I was quoting that sentence as an excerpt in my share of the piece, which is, of course, dead-on.

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  27. The GOP is getting desperate. The midterms have them spooked, since it looks like the blue wave is gaining strength. Trump is pushing at his base, actually calling for violence. That's fear, right there.

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    1. That violence IS happening as this 'went to press'. I'm talking about the "mad mail bomber"; to me his picture makes him look Slavic. We should do a deep dive on his background...is he a Russian sleeper???

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  28. I am in tears. Well done, sir. Decades from now, when scholars look back and try to make sense of what happened to this country, I hope they find your words. Someday your essays should be compiled into a book. If we can still have books, someday.

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  29. I'll take you up on your offer! I along with other Republicans will pay for the wall... You pay for all the illegals! Including the millions here already!! LOL

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    1. Since they can't get public assistance, legally work or medical care except in an emergency it's a cheap bet. Start paying.

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    2. Most of the "illegals" already here are working hard, paying taxes and don't need to be "paid for".

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    3. One can always tell a Trump supporter by his/her use of "LOL", "LMFAO", "BWAHAHA", etc. They think these are magic words that when appended to their drivel, somehow make it true.

      Trumpers are the stupidest people on earth. They are the reason we need mandatory testing of intelligence, mental health and cognitive developmental level, and screening for socio/psychopathy and dementia, as a prerequisite for voting and holding public office.

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  30. My great aunt Helen helped smuggle Danes out of Denmark. They were illegally being moved to Sweden. Sweden met them on the beaches with open arms and food. Even though a fast day, the Danes partook.

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  31. A friend got nearly the same response about will you let them stay at your house. ( said friend probably would take in a family so bad example) I responded with a picture of the plaque from the Statue of Liberty. No response so far, bots aren't good with pictures I hear.

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  32. At this rate, someone is going to demand that we take down the Mother of Exiles.

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    1. More than likely the tangerine Mussolini...since he lived there you would think he had visited the island: I would bet $10,000.00 he hasn't.

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  33. I am scared. Most of my family is scared. How do we stop this now that it seems to be gaining steam? I have voted in every election since I turned 18 forty years ago. I have campaigned for my candidates. I write letters & send texts. I make phone calls. I try to walk the walk. I talk to my friends and neighbors. Is it too late? Are we already down the rabbit hole?

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    1. We probably are down the rabbit hole. I don't think there is a way of stopping this right now. I bring up Frank Herbert's Litany Against Fear from Dune regularly and share it with friends and loved ones.

      I also still write letter, texts and phone calls. I encourage you to keep your loved ones, friends and neighbors in your embrace.

      I suspect we're going to see an upheaval that will end up costing some of us our lives and we should not discount that in our discussions with those loved ones and friends. But that also happened during the labor movement, it happened during the suffrage movement and it happened with the civil rights movement. In striving to be "better citizens," we can continue to pass on our personal and civic values to our children and other loved ones.

      We can continue to walk the walk. If we're pacifists, we can continue to be pacifists. If we're warriors, we can continue to be warriors. If we're caregivers, we'll continue to be caregivers. I hope good wins out over evil, but it may not happen in my lifetime. As much as I'm able, I'll stay in the fray because I do believe in the US and that whole business of "in order to form a more perfect union."

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  34. "The New Colossus is not part of the official Statue of Liberty, it is a poem on a plaque at the base added later. It doesn't count.'

    Long acquaintance who is positive that Pam Geller is right.

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    1. Yes? And? Who cares?

      Whether it was original or additional, the poem and the sentiment expressed is often quoted and has become inextricably linked to American identity and the strength of American ideals.

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    2. Yes? And ... ? Does it make any difference to the point in the article?

      The poem is often quoted and widely recognized. The sentiments expressed are inextricably linked to American identity, to America as the "land of opportunity" and to the ideals (however imperfectly we represent them) of American society. It is what we profess to the rest of the world as Americans. It is one of the key differences between America and the rest of the world that really made America great in the first place.

      The fact that the plaque was added later is merely an asterisk in historical texts.

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    3. It's worth noting here that "Liberty Enlightening the World" was a gift from the *people* of France, not the government (which was in considerable disarray after losing the Franco-Prussian war and having to pay reparations.) The French raised the money for the statue - and it took a long time; the US agreed to raise the money for the base. Joseph Pulitzer ran a big fund drive promoted through the New York World. Emma Lazarus's poem was written as a prize in a fundraising auction. The plaque was added later, but it was added to a base that wouldn't have been there if it weren't for the poem (and a lot of other fundraising efforts).

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    4. Much of that fundraising was in the form of pennies, copper just like the statue's outer skin, mostly sent in by children!

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  35. My 86 year old immigrant father actually has adopted the views of the right wing fools you so adeptly eviscerate above. Ironic how a man who managed to resist the Nazis to come to the US sadly now has the views of them.

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    1. It truly is...to hear an immigrant say that immigration should be controlled ala ethnic cleansing is bad enough but then to have it be your own flesh and blood....

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  36. "no one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark."
    warsan shire

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  37. I saw the parallels in 2015. My country has become a nation of horrors, real and incipient. And all that evil needs to win is that good people do nothing.

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  38. I weep, as well. You see it and you say it clearly. But the ones who need to hear it...will they listen? I don't know how to get through to them, and if you can't, I see us heading down the same path as Germany in the 30's.

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  39. Splendid essay from a historical and understanding of intelligence basis. How in the world does a tweet dhitstorm (Ein Scheisssturmer? ) like this get a foothold on the minds of what was in my lifetime a semi rational if somewhat racist nation. To recall the lines of Richard Widmark, prosecutor in the film Judgment at Nuremberg to a realpolitik approach to the judgment of Nazis. He refers to WW II. " Tell me, what was that war all about? " Yes, it is time to re ask that question now and always.... All of us who know any history. A costly war and we are still dense about what counts.. Thank you Jim. Cogent essay, well reasoned and should be published in all newspapers.

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  40. It is so tedious to go through Mr. Trump's cavalcade of lies. If there was a BS Steam Shovel Medal with Combat Cluster I could award to you, I would.

    The particular lie about "Middle Easterners" didn't originate with Mr. Trump.

    It actually surfaced a few days before, in an article in Guatemala's second-largest newspaper. President Jimmy Morales made an unsubstantiated claim the security services of that nation captured one hundred ISIS operatives.

    https://www.prensalibre.com/guatemala/politica/captura-de-terroristas-de-isis-es-informacion-protegida-segun-el-ejecutivo
    (In Spanish)

    Within hours, the wingnut media empire on both sides of the Atlantic had picked up that article, and then it appeared on State Media (FOX News Channel).

    As soon as Trump saw it, he started incorporating it into his speeches - turning it into "Middle Eastern" from "ISIS" (because the whole Middle East is scary ISIS operatives coming to lop off your head whilst you sleep).

    It's just more of the same endless conservative fear mongering over immigrants, now with added terrorism for fear. It doesn't have to be real, it just has to be asserted often enough to become true for a large part of our nation's populace.

    In my own town, I am running for reëlection to my village board (I am the only Democrat on the board). A candidate who filed to run against me is a neo-Nazi (based on the 1488 and swastika tattoos).

    I am hopeful the nationwide midterm election will reverse some of the damage. If not, well, I'm in the opposition party. History shows in a lot of authoritarian regimes what happens to opposition politicians, and I don't think my career of service in the US Navy would save me.

    My paternal grandparents left Danzig when it became apparent the Nazis were ascending there. They came here (despite the 1924 Immigration Act which declared them "illegal immigrants").

    All four of my grandparents were in the military in WW2 (my paternal grandfather did not survive). My mother and father were in the Navy during Vietnam (and my father did not survive). My sister and I joined the military.

    Rep. Steve King in IA-4 calls for the deportation of "anchor grandbabies." How would that even work? Strip citizenship constitutionally granted by a person born on this country's soil? Deport my sister and me where? Danzig? It doesn't exist any more, it's part of Poland. Would Poland even take us?

    And leaving, like my grandparents did before WW2 is not an option. Aside from the lack of money, where do you go to escape the largest and most terrifying military in the history of the planet, one which can destroy the whole world with an order from a deranged autocrat?

    Many have compared Mr. Trump to people like Adolph Hitler. There is a difference: Hitler did not have the power to destroy the world in half-an-hour.

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  41. Chief Warrant is spot on, only difference between our fearless leader and Hitler is Hiltler was a much better orator. If you research how Hitler work schedule running a country it's very similar to Trump .

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    1. A recent book about the Nazi Blitzkrieg and Hitler in particular shows just how heavily medicated he, and the troops were. Blitz has a second meaning; high doses of methamphetamine. I realize US troops also used amphetamines in WW2 and a drug called Cylert, a very mild stimulant, in Vietnam.

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  42. before the Nazis started persecuting and killing the Jews in earnest they changed the laws to make Jews by definition not-German -citizens.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuremberg_Laws.
    And WW2 started when (we) Germans pretended being attacked by Polish troops and then claimed "since 5:45 we are shooting back" .
    One has a little hope that the military will refuse an illegal order to shoot at unarmed civilians.

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  43. You have nailed it once again, Sir! I would like to think that reading your essays would come to be regarded as essential elements for a concerned citizenry but that won't happen. The reader has to think, has to be willing to pull the thread, has to be willing to simply say "Whoa! Why didn't I see that!" That takes a conscious effort, work and an open mind, attributes that seem to be in short supply at the moment!

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  44. Jim,
    Perhaps the words that should be added and spoken by all of us. Our president once again is obstructing Justice, for even the Supreme Court has ruled non-citizens are entitled to due process. Yes I can tweet it, Facebook it, shout out my front door, however my guess is the further your voice travels the sooner it could be a main stream talking point. When the leader is ordering military action against people not a nation, we are so far from normal due process it is frightening.
    Per usual a very good post.
    Thank you Chief.

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  45. So if it is this bad, and I believe it is, why don’t we do something about it? It might take something extra legal. Maybe we should start filing lawsuits in every jurisdiction against the government. Overwhelm them with justice.

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  46. I know the danger of Godwin's law but sometimes you have to call the thing that looks like a duck and walks like a duck and sound like a duck what it is.

    I think that there is a real risk of a pre-emptive military action across the border, inside Mexican territory. A police action. That can't go badly, can it. It wouldn't be like it was in Vietnam. I am sure that they could tell the difference between the good brown people and the "bad" ones. And hey, if not, so what? It is not like he cares.

    To Trump, it is all about Trump. If he thinks that it will make Fox say nice things about him, he may well do it. Uncle Vlad won't mind at all. Destabilisation of America and its allies is all to the good by the Kremlin's lights.

    Best of all for Trump, none of this is his fault. He is just trying to stop the evil brown folks (that is to say, brown people without oil) and the wicked, wicked Democrats who somehow are wrecking America despite not having the White House, the Senate or Congress. Clever little devils, ain't they?

    I am not American but I miss America. I miss a land that was imperfect but was trying to make progress. It must be so much more painful for those that call it home and wonder where their country has gone, for those that suddenly find themselves the enemy in the land of their birth.

    I am so very sorry for what is happening to your country. I am so scared for what it means for the rest of the world. The torch of Lady Liberty is flickering. Please, do not let it go out. Get out to the polls. Vote. Do not roll over. Say the unpopular thing and do not be afraid. The people behind this speak loudly but they are few. The silent, the reasonable, the sensible shall win if they hold their ground and speak words of wisdom. A thousand whispers will be heard better than a single shout.

    Have faith but keep your powder dry, my friends.

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    Replies
    1. Vietnam, and Nicaragua, and Iran, and Afghanistan, and El Salvador, and Honduras, and...

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    2. I don't see our military taking any more action against the refugees than barring their entrance into the US. . . I DO see a mighty large refugee camp being set up though similar to the Laotian/Thai border camp . . . huge mess, thousands of people in need of food and water and shelter . . . a breeding ground for disease as well as border conflict of all sorts. . .. . . how we/Mexico handle that is any man's guess.

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    3. Thank you. I see I am not alone among the doomsayers. In 1937 my prescient grandfather had already seen the writing on the wall and had made certain their escape. But still went to neighbors, friends and relatives to ask if they needed help getting out of the country. En masse they laughed and asked, "What do you think will happen?" Grandparents and mother were on the last train out that allowed Jews to travel. The jesters are gone. All of them.

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  47. Your essays are more and more frequently depressing. But then, we're living in hard, not to mention, interesting, times. Gandalf was right. No one wants to live through such times. But here we are, playing the hand we have been dealt.

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  48. It is quite simple folks. Many would sell their soul to the devil, if there was a devil and they had the chance. Trump and republicans know that. Getting rid of regulations is the perfect example of what I am talking about. And that is just one thing. Hitler was another example of people selling their souls. Voting for Trump is another example. The biggest example is man accepting inequality. Inequality will lead to our destruction. The threat of nuclear war, climate change, and AI, all brought about due to inequality. Most are not even smart enough to make the connection.
    The crux of the problem with humanity is that you can not make a silk purse from a sow’s ear. I would like to think that we have the intellect to rise above being animals, but I am not so sure anymore. Even the most intelligent justify being animals. Even our laws and education system reflect the justification for being animals. Example, we do not teach that the death penalty and punishment are wrong. It is so bad that I doubt I could get one person to agree with me. And of course that makes me wrong. You can see why I do not see any hope for mankind.
    I so hope humanity gets its Hitler. It so deserves it. That would be the next best thing to extinction. Humanity is rotten to the core, and deserves all the misery it gets.

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    1. Research yeast/bacteria growth curves...it WILL scare you. Sooner or later we WILL drown in our own poisons.

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  49. Spot on essay~! But the trump supporters will not entertain anything that is not in total agreement with herr trump.

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  50. As usual, you nail it.

    But I'm just part of the choir, shaking my head that the obvious seems to fly right past people.

    One could make the argument that, ninety years ago, Germany might have the excuse of not being able to predict the horrors to come they would enable. We don't have that excuse and yet, so many of us, sit idly by as the America trudges down the same horrible path. Those who can see aghast at those who welcome the horrors--our friends and neighbors--and those who don't welcome it but refuse to stand against it either.

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  51. Apathy is also the enemy of the people. It truly amazes me the Lies that are believed. How anyone cannot see through the charade is beyond me. I keep waking up and hoping that my fellow Humans to the South of me will wake up and make what is wrong, right. Between the Republicans, the Evangelical Christians and the Right Wing Media they allow this Charlatan to continue his tirade. I only hope that the message of lies has gotten to some and that they vote for change. I am new to your Blog Jim but you are indeed the voice that is in my head. Please continue the fight. Unless people such as yourself continues to get the truth out, goodness knows what will happen. Keep on keepin'on!

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  52. Another good one, Jim. Thanks, and keep sounding the alarm, there are still too many people ignoring this surreal,slow moving, evil version of Idiocracy.

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  53. Good essay. The only thing that could improve it would be fewer typos ("you're be proven right", "any actually generals", "an actually national" (you like 'actually'!), and 'some how' should be 'somehow'.

    There were others, but others caught them. All in all, though, the message came through loud and clear: cliff ahead. Use your vote, or get dragged over.

    Renee.

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  54. Is the hair standing up on the back of my neck yet? Yes.

    And my jaw is clenched and my heart is pounding and my stomach is roiling and my hands are shaking. It's fear, seasoned with a large helping of rage.

    Thank you for so brilliantly explaining why.

    A few typos:

    - Paragraph beginning, "It's the lie of fascists, ... and all flavors totalitarianism ,... " - *of totalitarianism*
    - Paragraph beginning, "Walking through Guatemala, ..., though El Salvador ..." - *through El Salvador*
    - Paragraph beginning, "With the stage, set, ... " - unnecessary comma after "stage" (apologies if this is simply a choice of style)
    - Paragraph beginning, "That was a foreign troll responding ..." the final sentence: "It doesn't matter because it is become a self-reinforcing ..." - *has become* or *is becoming*
    - Paragraph beginning, "Welcome the caravan ..." Fifth sentence: "You don't have to risk your troop's lives ..." - *troops'* Final sentence, "If you produce actual terrorists, you're be proven right, ..." - *you'll*

    Note: Pedant Spray available on request. :)


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  55. I voted today. Other than encouraging others to vote and reading some editorial cartoonists and your column, I am no longer looking at the news. I need a break, and I know that the rhetoric will only get more and more violent and nasty as 6 November comes ever closer. Two years of tears, anxiety, anger . . . this HAS to affect our health and I'm not going to expose myself to this for at least the next several weeks. If the Dems cannot take over the House/Senate at this point, there is no hope for us . . . nor for the US.

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  56. "If you want a better nation, be better citizens." --Jim Wright
    http://www.stonekettle.com

    You have written this in a way I can understand. Thank you Sir.

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  57. Our country is well on its way down a long, dark rabbit hole. Thank you for writing about the sort of things that make me howl in rage. But doing so in a way that's both coherent and cathartic.

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  58. A very sobering read that hits the nail on the head repeatedly. My internal alarm has been going off on a daily basis since Trump's inauguration, sometimes more frequently than that, with his sad and disturbing behaviour and how it is throwing the international community off kilter. This puts yet another situation into (a scary) perspective, when sometimes I don't have the words to articulate my fears. Thank you!

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  59. Yes, his current rhetoric has me duly alarmed. I've heard people who lived nearby him at Trump Tower for years say (paraphrasing) 'He's no Hitler. He's more like a Boss Tweed.' I also previously read that he keeps a collection of Hitler's speeches by his bed. Which raises a question in my mind. Is he trying to deliver propaganda to achieve some political success or does he really plan to go full Hitler on us?

    I'm doubtful anyone really knows, which is frightening in itself.

    There's another question that popped into my head that I hope you'll address. What if?

    What if he's going to try and dismiss the popular majority, perhaps all non-Republicans, and run the country with a bloody iron fist, is there a way to prevent it or defeat it?

    Voting is the common answer given but when Bob Woodward and Paul Krugman are saying he's planning to yell 'election fraud!' if the House flips and refuses to respond to investigations and subpoenas, that's completely above the law which is another huge step towards dictatorship.

    How then to fight back? Does active resistance become dangerous? Will an underground resistance have to emerge to stay safe? Or to shelter and save others in immediate danger? I even wonder if it's safe to ask these questions on social media. Maybe there's a book or two with answers that you might recommend.

    It sure feels like we're teetering on the edge of the precipice. It's not just a race or religion that could be targeted. Critics, college-educated intellectuals and others he views as enemies could also be disappeared.

    So I hope you'll consider addressing this sometime in the near future. What's useful to know to block him or defeat him if our worst suspicions come to pass?

    (Here's a link to the story about the Hitler book on his nightstand.)

    https://www.businessinsider.com/donald-trumps-ex-wife-once-said-he-kept-a-book-of-hitlers-speeches-by-his-bed-2015-8

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  60. How can we get this to be run as an op-ed in a big paper? You explain so well, Jim, without mansplaining or downsplaining (except maybe to morons).You tease out the meanings hiding behind the third grade words, step us back about three paces to see a bigger picture.

    There be monsters there.

    Seriously. How can we make it happen?

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  61. I think you are correct in your assumptions as far as they go, but where I get off the train (of thought) is when this good guy/bad guy routine that EVERYBODY (Rep or Dem) who is political starts.. . . If only my party were in power the sun would come out and all would be well with the world nonsense. That kind of thinking only works if you actually believe like you say that Hitler is to blame for Germany's collapse into social nationalism all on his own. . . . Our country was ripe for a guy like Trump and we got him . . . the same ripeness could have gone Dem with Hillary . . . maybe reveal itself a bit differently, but under the covers the same damn actions would be taking place. We are overly privileged, fat, lazy, complacent, and cruising for a bruising. No way out of it unless WE wake up cause when the compound gets overrun EVERYBODY suffers, not just the platoon sgt.

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  62. When he was running for election, I told people he was using the tactics of Hitler to win the election. People told me I was wrong, and was a fool. Now that it is almost too late, people are waking up a bit. I just hope enough people wake up to prevent WW3, with the US in the position of Nazi Germany this time. Unfortunately, I don't have enough faith in people to truly believe it will happen.

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    Replies
    1. Anybody who for a minute believed anything Trump ever said was obviously impervious to any argument against him during his bulldozing through the other hopefuls in 2016. The parallels between him and Hitler were apparent at that time and become more so today.

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  63. Sometimes it is all so discouraging...the refusal to learn from history. We KNOW, it is documented, how badly the whole "country as a a narcissist, make me great again" turns out. History is replete with malignant societies that fell due to greed, narcissism and willful ignorance. I fear for our children and grandchildren.

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  64. So, we know what Trump is doing—The Big Lie. What's the counter-move? What's "The Big Truth" or "The Big Counter-Lie" or "The Big ?" What should we do to protect our republic in real time?

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    1. It's funny the way things work . . . by the time we get around to seeing that things need changed it's too late. . . physical revolution is a sucker bet . . . first because we would be massacred in numbers too large to fathom . . . second we will only change the face and uniform of the same damn thing . . . I'd say at this stage in the game, it's every man for himself.

      This entire country ( whether by design or by nature of the beast) has been dumbed down to the point where all we can do is piss and moan about reality and dream in fantasy's.

      For me Vietnam was the beginning of our very long trail to oblivion. . . just like Hitler should have been stopped when he was still in the parks shouting from a soap box, we should not have laid down beside our new pink refrigerators and allowed this fiasco to begin in the first place.

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  65. Remember Eric Hoffer? “The True Believer” is a roadmap for our current chaos – the discontent of the “new poor” (e.g., former middle class), the tribal and identity politics, the glorification of the past and future and depreciation of the present, the unifying power of hatred. “(T)he ideal devil is a foreigner,” Hoffer says (p. 93).

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  66. Where are the images of this "caravan?" How do we know it exists? Is not the big lie that there is one at all? That it is impossible to state with absolute certainty that it does not exist, and therefore is the best sort of lie, the one we can say again and again and never have to risk being proved wrong?

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  67. The heart of the message is "blame the Democrats." We'll just keep you agitated and fearful and insecure, you just blame the Democrats for it, and everybody will be happy.

    EMH

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  68. A ship sinks at sea. People swim for shore, or drown. The owner of the land builds a fence and forbids them to enter. Are they supposed to swim back to the sinking ship? More to the point, are they evil because they simply want to live another day?

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  69. Well spoken, as always. A quick editing slip since you clearly take pride in your writing: "you’re be proven right, you’ll have a media coup,"

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  70. These are the lyrics of a song (it's on our Möbius Street album) based on the Emma Lazarus poem. I wrote it in an emotional response to this ongoing crisis of conscience. I entitled it Mother of Exiles.

    Not like the copper giantess of fame,
    With sandaled feet upon Atlantic sand.
    Here at our sea-washed sunrise gates are banned
    Those the woman with her torch once claimed.
    Those souls imprisoned, those who cried her name:
    “Mother of Exiles,” from whose beacon-hand
    Glowed world-wide welcome. Now her eyes command
    the ne’er-bridged walls along which rifles aim.

    “Keep, broken lands, your harried poor!” cries she
    With smiling lips. “Give me your trade. Your poor,
    Your huddled masses, matter not to me,
    Nor wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, to some other lee.
    I douse my lamp; just send your gold ashore.
    Mother of Exiles lives here no more.

    My lamp lies shattered on the shore
    And blind, I seek the shards.
    Mother of Exiles—weeping in the bone yards."

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    Replies
    1. Wow - well done how you rewrote that poem, it was spot on!

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  71. Numerous need to take heed of your great articles warning if not then one day they might understand the following for they themselves are living it.



    "First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me."

    This is the future of America if people do not rise up in great numbers and vote Trump's Republicans out of office.

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  72. I blogged on this same subject this morning on www.commongroundgroup.net. A different path that arrives at the same destination.

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  73. Why has my comment been cancelled? I was trying to turn off the "notify me" option only

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  74. Great post—as always. You allude to this, so I guess it’s fair to say. Trump and company claim to be conservative. The conservative of my era supported that odd document known as the Constitution. They were about distributed power, not centralized power, and about individual freedoms, not government insertion into every aspect of life. Some of them were certainly racist, but they were also about laws. We see none of this in Trump et al. Rather he is trying to centralize power not just in Washington, but in the presidency. He’s using the immigration issue as more than a dog whistle. It’s a trumpet blare (pun intended). He’s lying about these people, but that just means that he’s talking about them. The lie is his only voice.

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  75. Good stuff Jim, and I will tout it online. Alas though, in this case you are preaching to the choir. This battle hinges on peeling off maybe a million almost-sane and almost decent US conservatives from a mad-treasonous confederacy that has taken Washington. If we can peel off that one million, all the electoral cheats will collapse. But those RASRs (Residually Adult-Sane Republicans) are immune to appeals to compassion, which they'll dismiss as "guilt-tripping."

    Most of these issues have embedded assumptions, like "Democrats are soft on illegal immigration" that should not be left standing, because they are false! Up until 9/11, democratic presidents always STRENGTHENED the Border Patrol and GOP presidents always found excuses to weaken the BP! Why?

    Think it through. Democrats always favored LEGAL immigrants, who could eventually join unions and vote. The Unions that co-ran the DP did not like too much influx of cheap, frightened labor... which was exactly what farm/industrial moguls DID want.
    See where I explain it at http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2017/03/shifting-views-on-immigration.html

    Of course 9/11 changed everything a bit... Bush had to clamp at the border. Still the narrative remained stupidly ironic. Republicans shrieked at illegal immigration which was not the Democrats' fault. What Dems DID do was set up LEGAL immigration floods that were changing the face of America and ill-educated whites resented it. In fact, one of Trump's few cogent moves was to aim ire at the Dems' "chain migration" family reunification laws, which I deem to be immoral for a reason that would require a whole blog posting to explain.

    The point is that Democrats are just as culpable for the insipid level of argument over immigration, stupidly falling for the trap of letting this be about "guilt-tripping." Another case of the Union side of this civil war having dumb generals who fall for every polemical trap.

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  76. Total US foreign aid to Guatemala/Honduras/El Salvador: $450 million. Or, roughly one-third of what somebody in South Carolina won in the lottery last night.

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  77. Right on. Appreciate your very clear articulation of our current situation.

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  78. Trump has already told us he wants to be "President for life".

    https://www.newsweek.com/critics-blast-trumps-dictatorial-ambitions-he-praises-xis-president-life-power-829723

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  79. Thank you. A very good essay and I thank you again for this. Reading this I was reminded of Heinlein's "What are the facts" quote-cum-aphorism. Sadly, in the current political environment facts alone are insufficient to sway the opposition, many of which appear to me to revel in their willful ignorance.


    What are the facts? Again and again and again what are the facts ? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what "the stars foretell", avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the "unguessable verdict of history" - what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future, facts are your single clue. Get the facts!
    RA Heinlein; The Notebooks of Lazarus Long.

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  80. There are laws:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convention_Relating_to_the_Status_of_Refugees

    Be sure to read the non-compliance section.
    Weak sauce agreements won't deter Trump and the like-minded. And with climate change, the number of refugees will continue to grow.

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  81. Like always Jim you ask all the right question. Sadly Trump base no longer cares about truth or facts. America stand on a precipice and they is a very real possibility that we will plunge over the edge into the darkness of a Fascist Government thanks to Trump and his willing enablers in the GOP. Sadly I see that Brazil made the same mistake today that America did 2 years ago. I fear for our world!!

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  82. Jim, this has to be the single best essay I have ever read. Again and again I am so grateful that you are there for those of us who have trouble articulating that which we feel and somehow cannot express for lack of facts, experience, emotions-in-the-way, etc. I must compliment you on your expertise as a writer. You are searing and to the point; distilled. On another topic, and I'm sorry to put it in here...I hope you and your family made out OK during Hurricane Michael (did not know how to check or if you made reference to it anywhere. Sorry if this was lazy of me.) We in Cedar Key did fine, my agency (FWC) has spent time on disaster relief in the panhandle. You are such an inspirational lifeline to many of us, Jim. Thank you so much. I wonder if it is difficult to be you; rare and genuine and pure, like a diamond created out of pressure. Would love to have a long conversation whilst sitting on a porch with you (and then a big long silence, as nature is still beautiful, and our lives as humans are still a gift, even though it does not always seem that way.) Best to you and your family, Tiffany Black

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