We can see the dangers of the reckless Trump rhetoric in part 1…but here in part 2 we explore how the Trump rhetoric can be a danger to our constitutional democracy.  At the very bottom are links on the midterms, as we must elect a Dem majority in the House to put a check on Trump, or else an unleashed president could run roughshod over the rule of law & literally put our democracy at risk.  Please get people out to vote!  If you haven’t yet seen how the prez has a classic autocratic personality with a rabid cult following taking marching orders from the Trump media, you just haven’t been paying attention!  Under the category of don’t think fascism couldn’t happen here, see the article posted here from philosopher-explains-americas-history-of-fascist-politics-up-to-and-including-trump:

Jason Stanley, a Yale professor of philosophy and the author of “How Facism Works: The Politics of Us and Them,” is sounding the alarms about the disturbing trends in American political culture evident in the rise of President Donald Trump. Though many characterize warnings about Trump’s fascist tendencies to be overblown, Stanley makes a serious and compelling argument that the dangers of fascism in America are not that distant and can easily come roaring back. “For fascist politics to take hold, we have to have a failure of our democratic culture,” Stanley explained in an opinion video with NBC News. “Fascism is ultranationalism, where the nation is defined in racial, ethnic, religious or perhaps cultural identity, and the nation is identified with one person: the leader, who is its voice,” he continued. “Fascist politics is tactics that exploit this kind of us/them distinction. Fascist politics might not result ultimately in a fascist state. But it’s important to be attendant to the dangers because in and of itself, it breaks down the democratic culture.” While Trump is the latest and most prominent embodiment of this trend, it’s nothing new in American politics, he argued. “We should be very worried. We already have a long history of racial divisiveness in this country. And we’ve expanded those techiques to other groups, to immigrant groups And we can slip back very quickly — we have slipped back very quickly,” he added. He also noted several features of Trump’s Republican party that are key indicators of fascist tactics: “When conspiracy theories become the coin of politics; rallies where the leader is one with his supporters; diviiding people into the enemy versus the leader’s supporters.”

History is Instructive

We can learn from history.  As we watch modern-day Trump rallies, compare the rhetoric & crowd reactions to old videos of Hitler’s speeches.  The similarities are alarming, from the Trump rhetoric to the crowd grievances to the over-the-top nationalistic ideologies along with the wild-eyed fervor & mob adulations, explained inside Understanding-Hitler-s-Base-Who-Voted-Nazi-and-Why.  The prez has now taken over the party I once supported, seen in this outstanding op-ed from these posts inside robert-reich-democrats-dont-go-high-or-low-go-big-and-bold-opinion.  The GOP & the midterms are entirely about Trump, & his massive ego wouldn’t have it any other way!:

Trump says the midterm elections are a “referendum about me.” Of course they are. Everything is about him. Anyone who still believes the political divide runs between Republicans and Democrats hasn’t been paying attention. There’s no longer a Republican Party. The GOP is now just pro-Trump. Meanwhile Trump is doing all he can to make the Democratic Party the anti-Trump Party. “Democrats,” he declares, are “too dangerous to govern.” They’re “an angry left-wing mob,” leading an “assault on our country.” Never before has a president of the United States been so determined not to be president of all Americans. He’s president of his supporters. Tyrants create cults of personality. Trump is beyond that. He equates America with himself, and disloyalty to him with insufficient patriotism. In his mind, a giant “Trump” sign hangs over the nation. “We” are his supporters, acolytes, and toadies. “They” are the rest of us. When everything and everyone is either pro- or anti-Trump, there’s no room for neutral expertise, professional norms, good public policy, or the rule of law.

 

He believes the nation’s press is either for him or against him. Fox News is indubitably for him—now a virtual propaganda arm of the White House. The rest are against him even when they merely report the news. We’re all being taken in by this Trumpian dichotomy—even those of us in the anti-Trump camp. When Trump is the defining issue in America, he gets to set the national agenda. All major debate in this country revolves around him, his goals, and the objects of his vilification. The Trumpification of America hardly ends if Democrats take over the House or possibly the Senate. Trump will blame them for everything that goes wrong. He’ll make up problems they’re supposedly responsible for. He’ll ridicule them and call them traitors.

 

Aspiring Democratic candidates for president will join in the brawl. Op-ed writers, editorial boards, and pundits will argue over the best ways for Democrats to proceed against Trump—going low or going high. Pollsters will tell us which Democratic candidate is seen as being most effective against him. But all of this is a giant trap. It accepts and enforces Trump’s worldview—that nothing is more important than Donald Trump, that he embodies all that’s good or bad about America, and that our most significant choice is to be for him or against him. It allows Trump to continue to dominate the news and occupy the center of the nation’s attention. We’d talk about nothing else for two years. We won’t be discussing how to restore wage growth, get health insurance to all Americans, reverse climate change, or get big money out of politics. We won’t be envisioning how a new America can widen opportunity, expand voting rights, end racism, and work constructively with the rest of the world. We won’t be aspiring to be more than we were before Trump. We’ll debate and dissect the damage done since Trump. Of course Democrats have to fight him. But they also have to lift America beyond him. The central question shouldn’t be whether we’re pro- or anti-Trump, or whether we go low or high in fighting him. The question is where America should go—and what we, together, can become.

See more perceptive articles on Trump in these links

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/anthony-scaramucci-trump-is-not-a-liar-as-previously-said-hes-an-intentional-liar-who-uses-a-methodology-of-mistruth/2018/10/25/8dc3fdc4-d879-11e8-a10f-b51546b10756_story.html?utm_term=.a3e50f7ae1b4

https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/413156-kasich-trump-is-incapable-of-being-a-unifier-or-accepting-any

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/10/24/1807068/-Trump-s-campaign-rallies-and-all-those-lies

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/08/the-end-of-trumps-reign/568480/

Conservative Media is the Lying Echo

Beware of the hack gap as seen inside: the-hack-gap-how-and-why-conservative-nonsense-dominates-american-politics.  Stelter has excellent thoughts in cnns-brian-stelter-trump-acting-like-a-fox-news-host-instead-of-showing.  The fundamental difference in news coverage is the mainstream media tends to lean left, whereas Fox & the echo have shifted way to the far-right where lies & crazy conspiracies have overtaken real news.  The real media does make mistakes & gets it wrong sometimes, but they don’t make stuff up out of thin air like the echo does.  These excerpts from the next article inside russians-didnt-swing-election-trump-fox-news-might-have state that while Russia did taint our presidential election, the impact of extremist propaganda from Fox & the echo was far greater.  These authors did extensive research exposing that alternate universe inside the far-right tribal bubble, a strange world where real facts are a mere distraction:

The idea that Russia not only interfered in the 2016 presidential election but, in fact, swung the election to Donald Trump has been gaining momentum. Former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. has said the evidence that Russia shaped the election “is staggering,” echoing others. The most recent push in this direction comes from University of Pennsylvania communication professor Kathleen Hall Jamieson, author of a new book on the Russian hacks and the election. Asked by the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer whether she thinks Trump would be president without the Russians, Jamieson replied: “No.… If everything else is a constant? No, I do not.” The New Yorker article itself was deeply sympathetic to this thesis. You do have to be willfully blind to deny that Russia ran information operations designed to undermine American democracy. Russians hacked emails of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, triggering brief waves of negative coverage of the Democrats and Clinton, and they used fake accounts on Facebook and Twitter in an effort to polarize Americans and help Trump. But research I helped conduct has found that the fundamental driver of disinformation in American politics of the past three years has not been Russia, but Fox News and the insular right-wing media ecosystem it anchors. All the Russians did was jump on the right-wing propaganda bandwagon. For a new book, “Network Propaganda,” Robert Faris, Hal Roberts and I — colleagues at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society — analyzed millions of articles: any story, on any website, mainstream and fringe, that mentioned any candidate for the election and the major parties, from 2015 to 2018. Throughout our work, we find clear patterns, before and after the election. The Russians are there. They are trying. But in all these cases, American right-wing media did the heavy lifting to originate and propagate disinformation.

 

Our analysis underscores not only the enormous power of right-wing media but also their distinctiveness from left-wing media. The conservative network of outlets, with Fox at its center, feeds a large minority of Americans narratives that confirm their biases, fills them with outrage at their political opponents, and isolates them from views that contradict these narratives. It is a closed propaganda feedback loop. Left-leaning media, whatever the goals of some of their members, have failed to produce anything similar, our analysis found. Left-leaning news consumers have a more varied diet that includes paying substantial attention to professional journalistic outlets as well as partisan and hyper-partisan outlets. On the right, by contrast, a competitive dynamic exists such that outlets have to reinforce and amplify each other’s lies or lose audience share. Outlets that debunk even the most outrageous claims — such as the supposed participation by prominent Democrats in pedophilia rings — go unread by right-wing media consumers. One reason to doubt that Facebook clickbait, including Russian propaganda, was critical to Trump’s victory is that the share of social media in the overall conservative media diet was limited. Consider that, among Trump voters, 40 percent said that Fox News was their primary source of election news, while only 7 percent named Facebook. Rush Limbaugh, meanwhile, has 14 million listeners weekly. Support for Trump is particularly high in demographics with the least exposure to social media or the Internet. And it is the population of people with relatively limited exposure to the Internet who have been responsible for most political polarization since 1996.

Echo Nutballs

As Fox fake news keeps perpetuating the Trumpian nonsense, including fears of angry left-wing mobs, see their coverage where they were in the middle of lamenting these mobs when news of actual terrorism broke: fox-news-coverage-bomb-threat-clinton-obama-cnn-soros.  Furthering their tribal agenda & protecting their corrupt president have become the standard knee-jerk response from most echo talking heads, always a default position to stay in the good graces of their confused & bamboozled listeners.  Another conspiracy these echo-blabbers were quick to jump in on was claiming the mail bombs were really a false flag sent out by leftist operatives, a scenario that was highly, highly, highly unlikely.  The suspect who was just caught seems to be a right-wing Trumpeter, so echo speculation turned out to be another crazy/concocted conspiracy theory for the umpteenth time!  But the crazies were out in full force on the airwaves, as the likes of Limbaugh were channeling Alex Jones for outrageousness, seen inside right-wing-commentators-have-already-decided-the-explosive-packages-are-a-false-flag & also in excerpts from clinton-obama-cnn-bombs-democrats-conservatives-rush-limbaugh:

Many in the right-wing media, including prominent voices like Rush Limbaugh, the popular talk-radio host, and Candace Owens, a frequent Fox News guest, have begun to promote a conspiracy theory that Democrats were behind several packages containing explosive devices sent by mail to top Democrats this week. Limbaugh suggested on his show on Wednesday — soon after reports that devices were sent to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama, as well as to CNN’s New York office— that the act was committed to fuel support for Democrats two weeks before the midterm elections. “Republicans just don’t do this kind of thing,” he said. Owens said there was “a 0% chance” the bombs were sent by someone with conservative leanings, instead accusing “leftists” of staging the attack for political gain. Michael Flynn Jr., the son of the former national security adviser, called the mail bombs “a total false flag operation” in a series of tweets he later deleted.

More echo nutball conspiracies

I once liked Dobbs’ show on CNN before he went to the dark side & became absorbed in conspiracy mongering: lou-dobbs-fox-false-flag-attack.  More on the right-wing conspiracists spewing their rubbish in that crazy echo-world are seen in pro-trump-media-insists-bomb-threats-against-clinton-obama-cnn-are-pure-bs-a-false-flag.  The motives of this terrorist seem to be obvious from his van & Twitter posts, plus we do know nobody amps up those far-right radicals with incendiary language more than the president, so we can draw our own conclusions.  The Trump rhetoric constantly crosses the line on what is appropriate language, especially in the role of president who should seek to unite us as leader of all the people.  He needs to be above the fray based on the position he was elected to fill.  And have you watched the audience reactions at his rallies?  It’s not exactly going out on a limb to suggest Trump’s verbal assaults on his political opponents may have inspired a more unhinged supporter to send incendiary devices through the mail, which not coincidentally happened to be addressed to the same opponents Trump frequently attacks, as seen in these posts from conservative-commentators-rush-to-dismiss-bombs-sent-to-democrats-as-a-left-wing-conspriacy:

The news of the attempted bombs sparked bipartisan condemnation. Republican lawmakers renewed calls for “civility” but failed to point fingers at members of their own party — particularly Trump — who have regularly incited violence against Democrats and attacked major news organizations. Trump regularly calls news organizations “the enemy of the people” and has shown particular hatred for CNN. At a rally in Montana last week, the president brazenly applauded congressman Greg Gianforte, who had pleaded guilty to a charge of misdemeanor assault after body-slamming an American reporter for The Guardian. “Any guy who can do a body-slam,” Trump told the crowd. “He’s my guy.” Following his off-script quip, Congressional Republicans either stayed mom, stuck to campaign talking points or refused to respond to Salon’s request for comment — and their reactions to Wednesday’s attempted bombings feel like a replay of the political drama we saw last week. The president’s comments at the Montana rally are reminiscent of his previous remarks. In August, he warned there will be “violence” if Republicans lose their majority in Congress in the midterm elections in November. Following the white supremacist riot last year in Charlottesville, Virginia, Trump placed “blame on both sides.” He also leveraged the threat of violence during the 2016 presidential campaign when he said that his supporters would likely act violently if he did not earn the Republican Party’s nomination. Talk radio show host Rush Limbaugh and Fox News guest Candace Owens began to spread a conspiracy on Wednesday that Democrats were behind several packages containing explosive devices. 

How do you handle a problem like Trump?

Trump lives in a world of lies & he’s taken his fans with him.  The next article shows the media is having a hard time dealing with Trump since they’ve never seen anything like Trump.  The prez & his cronies dish out a constant barrage of lies, which the chaos they generate in the daily headlines doesn’t allow for sufficient analysis or fact-checking, since we’re being buried under an avalanche of so many lies on so many different issues.  We should blame Trump for his constant lying, but even more so blame his echo-pundits & supporters for letting him get away with it.  It’s generally agreed the media is tough on Trump, but as the beginning to The-Media-Still-Doesn-t-Know-How-To-Deal-With-Trump posted below surmises, they may need to be stronger or smarter in calling out the constant lies, conspiracies, distortions, deflections, mayhem, bullying & divisiveness Trump is a master of orchestrating:

It is strikingly apparent that the media is still unable to adjust to the new world of constant and brazen lies which mirror the tactics of autocratic leaders that Trump and the Republican party has brought to American politics. In fact, despite recognizing their inability to properly cover Trump, the coverage in most of the media keeps on repeating the same mistakes that were made ever since Trump became a factor in the 2016 election campaign. Certainly, there are plenty of stories that document and highlight Trump’s lies. But for the most part, headlines and ledes simply repeat the lies that Trump and his administration tell and rely on the reader to delve well into the story to see where those lies are refuted, if they get refuted at all. In addition, because Trump can create so many news cycles in just one day, the media constantly finds itself regurgitating his lies and outrages before its analysis of those lies can take hold. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the local media’s response to Trump’s rallies. As Daniel Dale says, “No matter how offensive or plain weird Trump is at a rally, the visuals and headlines he gets in the local media are almost always good for him — it’s ‘president comes to town, excites faithful’ or ‘president likes local Republican, slams local Democrat’ almost 100% of the time”. But that kind of superficiality and cowardice extends to the national media as well. Take a look at how Trump’s fictional 10% tax cut for the middle class before the midterms is being carried by national news organizations. The headlines either simply regurgitate this fantasy plan or actually misstate what it is in order to pretend that Trump is making a serious proposal. Or look at how his baseless claims that the caravan of refugees was filled with terrorists was treated as front page news.

Irresponsible Violent Rhetoric a Danger to Reporters

Over a thousand journalists have been killed in the past quarter-century in the pursuit of truths.  Fortunately, no bombs detonated which could have injured or killed journalists & political leaders this week.  And this month we also learned of a WaPo journalist & American resident who was brutally murdered while trying to pick up his wedding papers.  So with a president who incites his base with such vitriolic Trump rhetoric against reporters & political opponents, such incidents are bound to keep happening.  And those incidents could prove deadly going forward.  The Trump rhetoric also encourages world leaders to make similar threats against journalists.  It could escalate into a worldwide wave where fascism replaces democracies.  There’s lots of countries we’re already seeing that happening.  Is America next?  A free press is indispensable to a free democracy!  See these posts patched together from jamal-khashoggi-died-for-an-important-cause-we-must-not-forget-it where Khashoggi became a martyr:

Putting aside whether the original intent was to kidnap or kill Khashoggi, the Saudi regime appears to have followed in the bloody footsteps of Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un by crossing national borders to enact extreme violence. Journalists and activists working inside authoritarian regimes know that their lives are under threat from the moment they choose to speak out, and often take intricate measures to protect themselves. Meanwhile, President Trump, having prioritized strengthening ties with Saudi Arabia since coming into office, suggested that he would rather ignore a blatant violation of international law than jeopardize an arms sale. It was he, not the Saudis themselves, who first circulated the “rogue killers” theory in the media. This transactional approach is the worst possible outcome for those who care about human rights. It says that if you pour money into our economy — or possibly into more private investments — you can get away with anything. This has been a favored tactic of the Chinese dictatorship for decades and is how the Putin regime has infiltrated Western capitals. It must not become a standard for how Western democracies interact with authoritarian regimes. Not only is it immoral, it leads to further acts of violence.

 

Exiled activists and critics have been jolted into awareness that borders cannot protect them. If democratic nations fail to sanction the behavior of the Saudi regime, they are giving dictators like MBS a free pass to kill anyone who dares to speak against them, and they are chilling the speech and action of tens of thousands of human rights defenders. Jamal Khashoggi was not an abstract symbol; he was a human being. He was a man who just missed his own wedding. He gave up everything so that he could write freely, because — as he often proclaimed — he loved Saudi Arabia. He felt that he was serving his country even in exile by exercising his independent voice and encouraging MBS to reform the Saudi system in which Khashoggi still believed. And he was killed for it. We cannot lose sight of Khashoggi’s humanity amid the coverups and political deal-making that surrounds his murder. His legacy is best served by actively and vociferously defending individual rights — a concept he worked tirelessly to promote, and ultimately died for.

Evangelicals

Here in part 2 of The VORACS messages, we often call out repugnant echo-personalities & charlatan religious leaders.  In just this past week, we’ve posted articles with important messages like GOP Sen. Ben Sasse saying Hannity’s business model is bad for America as his core cause is to rage, while the principled pastor Doug Pagitt correctly called out many in his evangelical flock.  He warned white evangelicals are trading their moral core by blindly supporting Trump and the GOP-led Congress.  By having a tunnel-vision on the abortion issue, they have become blinded and desensitized to all other injustices and inhumanities.  Pagitt also said these are not positions informed by the teachings of Jesus Christ, to the contrary, they are antithetical to what Jesus preached.  He went onto say his faith does not call him to be Republican or Democrat (which tragically evangelicals are increasingly being perceived that GOP support is integral to the faith itself).

It’s plain to see many conservatives are blindly following echo-personalities much as evangelicals are blindly following faith leadership.  I’ve recently been calling out the spirit of deception I see running through our evangelical church.  In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Trump might be the Levite in the story while someone like Jerry Falwell Jr. could represent the priest, but our evangelical faith needs to get back to being the good Samaritans.  Another good article about evangelicals seen compromising their moral principles are found in donald-trump-christian-right-conservative-clinton.  Stephen Mansfield is a Christian who’s trying to make sense of this evangelical connection with Trump in his book, which some of his comments from an interview are posted here:

 

That then won over prominent clergymen like Franklin Graham and James Dobson. They became apologists for him and used language like, “Well, he’s like Churchill. Maybe profane but still ordained.” One of the big positions was that he’s Cyrus the Great from the Old Testament, where Cyrus was a vile pagan but still used by God for his purposes. All of this was bandied about. All of this was spoken from pulpits. All of this was said on religious media and secular media like Fox News, etc. I think some of them did just sell out for power. There’s no question. When a few of them were asked recently, “Why would you support Trump so full-throatedly?” they basically said, “Because we know we have access with this president we’ve never had before in our lifetimes.” It was transactional in that sense.

 

I think that many of them who have essentially traded the moral high ground for access have stepped down from their lofty pulpit, their lofty positions, and have therefore opened themselves up to criticism. They’re supposed to be representatives of God, of Christian morality. To the extent that they merely become power brokers, they deserve the beating they get. I think that’s the great risk. In the book, I say that these religious conservatives now own Donald Trump. They take an ownership of him. They supported him so fully that they own him in the eyes of the American people. And they’ve taken a great risk. The millennials are distancing themselves from these crowds because they’re horrified. Non-Christian religions are horrified by Trump. The watching world is horrified. The more traditional church crowd, not so much the right-leaning church crowd, is horrified. So they have risked a great deal, and they’ve bet on a horse that’s rather unstable.

 

I think that sincerely religious people can be deceived. I think they can be idiots, and I think they can be wrongheaded. What we’re talking about right now is the great threat to the religious right, which is that people look at them and say, “Well, you guys are frauds.” Because I’m a Christian, I’m able to say that Christian people can be idiots. They can be racist and still be sincere about their religion. They can be deceived in an election and still be sincere about their religion. It’s not fair to say that their religion is entirely false, but I certainly can understand that charge. I just don’t think it’s the case in most situations here. Franklin Graham is not a fraud as a Christian. James Dobson is not a fraud as a Christian. They can have moments of idiocy. They can be people who are deceived by a strong personality or get caught up in their fears and terror of Obama and Hillary. It’s hard to know exactly what was going through the minds of some of these people, but what I know for sure is that those religious leaders who supported Donald Trump had to swallow a great deal that they had criticized before. Now, were they just in a transactional power-broking mode? Were they deceived? Were they idiots? I don’t know, but I do think they were dead wrong.

 

More good articles are here about the midterms

Click on these live links about the most important midterm election in our lifetime!  We badly need a massive blue wave for the Dems, as I shudder to think what an emboldened Trump might do to our democracy should the GOP retain majorities in both the Senate & the House.  The balance of power that has defined our democratic institutions for centuries could be permanently shattered: 

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/23/opinion/republican-strategy-fear-lies.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/23/opinion/midterms-democrats-trump-house-senate.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fopinion&action=click&contentCollection=opinion&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=4&pgtype=sectionfront

https://www.yahoo.com/news/midterms-2018-republican-politician-worried-090144628.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-poison-of-trumpism-is-tainting-the-gop/2018/10/25/8b775f42-d893-11e8-aeb7-ddcad4a0a54e_story.html?utm_term=.8948afa9b66e

https://thehill.com/opinion/campaign/413139-low-levels-of-citizen-satisfaction-point-to-a-blue-wave-midterm