Doctor Steven Jonas correctly noted in his 2015 essay, Fascism in the 21st Century:
When we are looking at 21st century fascism, in the context of what is happening in certain of the capitalist states, at the present particularly in the United States, it should be noted that it is entirely possible that wholesale violence will not be required for its introduction. Nor will a maximum leader necessarily be required. Like the fog in the famous, ultra-short poem by the U.S. person Carl Sandburg, it may well come in “on little cat feet.”
Fascism can gradually creep in over time little noticed, until it is too late.
This is how Friendly Fascism works. As filmaker Michael Moore noted after the election of Donald Trump, “The next wave of fascists will not come with cattle cars and concentration camps, but they’ll come with a smiley face and maybe a TV show. […] That’s how the 21st-century fascists will essentially take over.”
Well, maybe not so friendly. Donald Trump’s most dangerous personality trait is that he is a thin-skinned petty and vindictive man. He attacks anyone who does not treat him as a demigod in his authoritarian personality cult, from his Republican opponents in the 2016 Republican presidential primary, to any other Republican who opposes him, to everyone in the Democratic Party, and anyone in the mainstream media who is not part of the sycophant conservative media entertainment complex.
The “Stalinist purges” in the Trump administration have already been going on for over three years at a gradual pace, little noticed by Americans distracted by the quiet desperation of their ordinary lives.
Every FBI and U.S. intelligence agency employee who was involved in investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russian intelligence assistance to his 2016 campaign has been fired or forced out of government employment. Trump’s Purge of the FBI Is Complete. The Department of Justice has likewise been purged of those involved in the Russia investigation, and since weaponized under Attorney General William “Coverup” Barr into a ‘Vehicle for President Trump’s Political Revenge’ to “investigate the investigators” with an eye towards prosecuting them out of revenge for simply having done their jobs to defend the country (this is coming with the current John Durham/William Barr criminal probe of the Russia investigators).
The State Department is being intentionally gutted of its career diplomats by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in favor of Trump loyalists and sycophants. The Department of Defense has had an exodus of career military officers in recent months, continuing a bleeding of staff in the Trump administration.
On Friday, the next round of “Stalinist purges” began for those government employee witnesses who dared to testify against Donald Trump in the congressional investigation into the Ukraine scandal and his impeachment trial.
In a column for The Daily Beast, David Rothkopf accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Attorney General Bill Barr of standing by while President Donald Trump purges anyone who crossed him with their testimony during his impeachment trial, Friday Night Massacre’s Just the Beginning for Acquitted Trump (subscriber content).
It is summarized at RawStory:
[Rothkopf] blamed the entire Republican Party apparatus of giving more power to “the most corrupt, unfit, demented and malevolent president” in history.
“Donald Trump unleashed a Friday night massacre at the end of the week the Senate acquitted him, one that reveals yet again not only who Trump is but how he intends to act thanks to the carte blanche to abuse his powers handed him by the Senate and his attorney general,” Rothkopf writes while noting the firings of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, his brother and EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland.
“Their firings and forced departures from their jobs are, by any definition, retaliation against witnesses in the case against the president. That’s a crime. [See, ‘This act is criminal’: legal experts break down how Trump broke the law by firing the Vindman brothers.] But of course, that crime will never be enforced because the U.S. government agency responsible for enforcing such laws, the Department of Justice, has been taken over by an attorney general who has perjured himself before Congress, violated his oath and placed the protection of the president ahead of the interests of the American people to whom he owes his highest duty,” he wrote. “Between Barr and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump has been given free rein to be his worst self. And Trump never disappoints those who expect the worst of him.”
“He has been told he is above the law, incapable of committing a crime. He has been told that Article II of the Constitution grants him unlimited powers. He has been told he does not have submit to the oversight of the Congress,” the columnist continued. ”He is, in other words, free to be himself. And we all know who that is—except perhaps Senator Susan Collins and the other Senate suckers who expected that somehow our felon-in-chief had learned a lesson from this impeachment ordeal. Trump is a man who thinks the law is for little people, that the rich can buy their way out of any legal predicament. He thinks character and courage and duty, the traits displayed by Ambassador Yovanovitch and the Vindmans, are for suckers.”
Calling the current state in the U.S. a ” dark period in our history,” Rothkopf writes that Trump is likely to do even more damage before the November election.
“Nine months is also enough time to give birth to many crimes. Indeed, we must wonder how much wrongdoing by the criminal gang that has seized our government will be devoted to stealing that election to come. In an erratic administration, a concerted focusing on cheating at the ballot box is one of the few consistent initiatives that has been a priority for them since the very beginning. And they have never been so empowered to abuse their power as a way to maintain that power. Punishing truth-tellers and witnesses is the technique mob enforcers use to escape the consequences for their crimes,” he warned before concluding the Donald Trump has become, “The most powerful president in American history and the most dangerous and corrupt public official the United States has ever known.”
Lucian Truscott, a graduate of West Point and a 50-year career as a journalist, expounds at Salon, I have seen the future: Donald Trump is going to get worse:
The only thing Donald Trump didn’t do in his victory-lap appearance in the East Room on Thursday was announce the pending arrest of Adam Schiff or Nancy Pelosi. [Trump says it’s ‘illegal’ for Pelosi to tear up his State of the Union address. Experts say that’s not true.] He did everything else. He told his roomful of hacks and sycophants that the impeachment trial “was all bullshit.” They cheered. He called the Democrats and lone Republican who favored his impeachment and removal from office “the crookedest, most dishonest, dirtiest people I’ve ever known,” “lowlifes,” “stone-cold crazy,” “evil,” “sick,” “corrupt,” “scum,” “bad,” “horrible,” “vicious” and “leakers.” Stammering, wheezing, snorting and sniffling, he said those who impeached him were “mean.” His fans applauded. They screamed. They laughed: Fox host Laura Ingraham; Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, whom Trump called “so great, so tough, and so smart”; Rep. Devin Nunes of California, “this congressman who kept going into basements, into files, he’ll find any document”; and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, a “top, top wrestler.” Every single one of them laughed and shouted their encouragement as the man who has told more than 16,000 lies since taking office called his Democratic enemies “liars.”
It was Donald Trump unbound. Having stomped on every single “norm” that has been adhered to in Washington for more than 200 years, Trump taped up his bone spurs and stomped some more. Remember Richard Nixon’s “enemies list”? Amateur hour. Trump has an enemies binder, a whole fucking enemies database. He’s got people over at the IRS lining up audits. He’s got deputy attorney generals drawing up subpoenas and crafting indictments. He waited less than 24 hours before he had the Treasury Department release “evidence of questionable origin” about Hunter Biden to Republican senators seeking to open the investigation of the Bidens that was spurned by the Ukrainian government.
Donald Trump is weaponizing the federal government to do his personal bidding. His political opponents and the independent news media will be the targets, as every authoritarian autocrat has done throughout history.
Senate Finance Committee chairman Chuck Grassley, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Lindsey Graham and Senate Homeland Security chairman Ron Johnson have all issued letters requesting records from the State Department, Justice Department, FBI, Treasury Department, National Archives and Secret Service, seeking documents regarding Hunter Biden, his associates and their businesses. Having stonewalled every request for documents and testimony from House committees investigating the Russia and Ukraine scandals, Trump is opening the floodgates on Hunter Biden. Who’s next is anybody’s guess.
“Republicans are turning the Senate into an arm of the president’s political campaign, pursuing an investigation designed to further President Trump’s favorite conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election and smear Vice President Biden,” Ashley Schapitl told Yahoo News. Schapitl is a spokesperson for Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who sits on the Senate Finance Committee.
It’s going to get worse. Trump made a point of mentioning former FBI Director James Comey and the “dirty cops” and “FBI lovers” who investigated Russian interference in the 2016 election. They are targets of the Department of Justice criminal investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation being carried out by special counsel John Durham. Trump singled out Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and his twin brother, who serve on the National Security Council. Both were fired from their positions on Friday afternoon. It’s only a matter of time before he targets the House impeachment managers, if only to harass them and make them waste campaign money on defense lawyers.
But it’s the people Trump didn’t specifically mention on Thursday who should be worried. We didn’t know he was trying to extort the Ukrainians into investigating the Bidens until it was exposed by the whistleblower last October. Trump’s secret campaign against the Bidens had been going on for six months by that time, and even longer if you include the machinations by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani that had begun as far back as the fall of 2018. Who else has Trump been secretly investigating overseas? We don’t know, and we will remain in the dark unless another patriotic civil servant in the bowels of Trump’s government blows another whistle.
But Trump has gutted the State Department, the Defense Department, the Treasury Department and every other cabinet-level governmental office under his command. Gone are all the “adults in the room” like former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, former national security adviser H.R. McMaster and even former White House chief of staff John Kelly and Trump’s third national security adviser, John Bolton. Down in the lower reaches of the bureaucracy, turnover has been record-breaking and there are so many vacancies, they’re holding garage sales to get rid of empty desks. There are numerous “acting” deputy and assistant secretaries in every single cabinet-level department of Trump’s government. He likes it that way. Everybody is either on their way out, planning to get out or frightened of being fired. The likelihood of new whistleblowers emerging from this chaotic governmental swamp is less and less the longer Trump remains in office.
What’s next? Well, we’ve already seen the capitulation and surrender at Helsinki, when Trump took Vladimir Putin’s word over that of his own intelligence services about Russia’s hacking of the 2016 elections. I think what we’ll get next is an Oval Office meeting with some dictator like Viktor Orbán of Hungary or Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey or Putin himself, and Trump coming out and asking them in public, before television cameras and reporters, to help with his re-election campaign. He’s gotten away with it twice. Why wouldn’t he?
He’s equally likely to order more assassinations of people he’ll name as enemies of the United States. We may never have heard of them before, nor will we ever hear about them again once they’re gone, because who they are and what they allegedly did will not be as important as the fact that Trump can order their deaths. The recent assassination of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Republican Guard, got only passing criticism from Democrats and was a huge hit with the Trump base. He got to blow up bad guys with smart bombs and show everyone he’s as tough as his idol, Putin. What’s not to love about that? If you carry an AK-47 and follow Muhammad, I’d keep my head down between now and the first Tuesday in November.
Every time we think Trump has gone about as far as he can go with demonizing the “enemies of the people” in the press, he cranks it up a notch. The recent dust-up between NPR and Lickspittle Von Pompeo proved to Trump and his minions that they can muzzle the press and get away with it. I’d look for them to start yanking White House press credentials and banning entire news organizations from covering the Trump campaign. MSNBC and CNN should start looking for cheap flights. They won’t be on Air Force One for long. I predict it’s only a matter of time before some Trumpaholic MAGA-hat-wearing militiaman takes a potshot at a reporter outside one of Trump’s rallies. Trump will promise to defend the Second Amendment and rant and rave against the “enemies of the people” at his next rally. His base will lap it up.
Donald Trump is like a kid who gets on an elevator full of people and pushes the button for every floor. He does stuff because it pisses off the Democrats. He does stuff because it “owns the libs” and delights his base. He does stuff because it makes his pathetic, pinched little life a tiny bit bigger. I would say that he does stuff because it makes him happy, but I don’t think he’s capable of even a scintilla of joy. Mostly he does stuff because he can, and the big question we face, now that we’ve had an impeachment but failed to remove him from office, is whether he’s going to break the great American elevator and bring this country crashing down with him. I hope not, but every day he’s been in office he’s gotten worse, and it’s working for him.
As I said last week, it is the duty of every true American patriot to resist Trumpism, the new American fascism. To honor the members of my family and the millions of Americans who fought a World War to rid the world of fascism, and the millions who died in that conflict, I will not go quietly into this dark night. I will defend the Constitution and the restoration of American democracy and the rule of law once these “Vichy Republicans” have been defeated and consigned to the ash heap of history. Vive la résistance!