Republican Trumpism versus Brezhnev’s Communist Party circa 1979

Leonid Brezhnev


“The Republican Party has become, in form if not in content, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union of the late 1970s,” the Never Trumper conservative Tom Nichols laments. “I can already hear the howls about invidious comparisons. I do not mean that modern American Republicans are communists. Rather, I mean that the Republicans have entered their own kind of end-stage Bolshevism, as members of a party that is now exhausted by its failures, cynical about its own ideology, authoritarian by reflex, controlled as a personality cult by a failing old man, and looking for new adventures to rejuvenate its fortunes.”

In the late 1970s, Nichols explains, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union — under the leadership of Leonid Brezhnev — was “a spent force” run by “party ideologues” who stubbornly clung to Marxist-Leninist dogma. Brezhnev’s cronies, Nichols recalls, considered him a “heroic genius.”

“Members of the Communist Party who questioned anything, or expressed any sign of unorthodoxy, could be denounced by name, or more likely, simply fired,” Nichols notes. “They would not be executed — this was not Stalinism, after all — but some were left to rot in obscurity in some make-work exile job, eventually retiring as a forgotten ‘comrade pensioner.’ The deal was clear: pump the party’s nonsense and enjoy the good life, or squawk and be sent to manage a library in Kazakhstan. This should all sound familiar.”

Just as the Marxist-Leninist ideologues of the late 1970s rallied around Brezhnev, Nichols argues, the Republican Party of 2021 is rallying around Trump.

“Falling in line, just as in the old Communist Party, is rewarded, and independence is punished,” Nichols observes. “The anger directed at Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger makes the stilted ideological criticisms of last century’s Soviet propagandists seem almost genteel by comparison. At least Soviet families under Brezhnev didn’t add three-page handwritten denouncements to official party reprimands.”

The Soviet Communist Party didn’t collapse in 1978 or 1979, but it did collapse in the early 1990s — even Mikhail Gorbachev’s glasnost reforms of the 1980s couldn’t save the Soviet Union, which no longer exists. Modern-day Russia is now ruled by a right-wing authoritarian, President Vladimir Putin, and embraces crony capitalism and corporate oligarchs rather than communism. And according to Nichols, the Republican Party of the United States is, like the old Soviet Communist Party, terminally ill.

But the more marginal the GOP becomes in the months ahead, Nichols predicts, the more dangerously authoritarian it will become.

“A dying party can still be a dangerous party,” Nichols warns. “The Communist leaders in those last years of political sclerosis arrayed a new generation of nuclear missiles against NATO, invaded Afghanistan, tightened the screws on Jews and other dissidents, lied about why they shot down a civilian 747 airliner, and, near the end, came close to starting World War III out of sheer paranoia. The Republican Party is, for now, more of a danger to the United States than to the world. But like the last Soviet-era holdouts in the Kremlin, its cadres are growing more aggressive and paranoid.”

In 2021, Nichols laments, the GOP has passed the point of no return and can only sink deeper and deeper into the abyss.

“Another lesson from all this history is that the Republicans have no path to reform,” Nichols writes. “Like their Soviet counterparts, their party is too far gone. Gorbachev tried to reform the Soviet Communist Party, and he remains reviled among the Soviet faithful to this day. Similar efforts by the remaining handful of reasonable Republicans are unlikely to fare any better. The Republican Party, to take a phrase from the early Soviet leader Leon Trotsky, should now be deposited where it belongs: in the ‘dustbin of history.'”

edited from The Atlantic by way of Alternet

Even at the edge of death, Trump’s hold on his followers is strong

Jim Jones

We have made the comparison between Jim Jones’s Peoples Temple Cult and Trump’s MAGA cult before, it’s looking like even that comparison falls short of describing how totally lost these MAGA members are. Take the example of an emergency room nurse in South Dakota, Jodi Doering, who was overwhelmed Saturday night. Her patients were dying of covid-19, yet were still in denial about the pandemic’s existence.
“It’s like a “horror movie that never ends,” Doering said.

Her anxiety and despair are shared by many health-care workers who are facing a dramatic surge in covid-19 patients. But some front-line workers, like Doering, also face the emotional toll of treating patients who, despite being severely ill, are reluctant to acknowledge that they have been infected with a virus that dear leader Trump has said will simply disappear.

Doering said she has covid-19 patients who need 100-percent-oxygen breathing assistance and who will also swear they don’t have the illness that has ended the lives of nearly a quarter-million people in the United States since February.

“I think the hardest thing to watch is that people are still looking for something else and a magic answer and they do not want to believe COVID-19 is real,” Doering told CNN in an interview Monday.

“Their last dying words are, ‘This can’t be happening. It’s not real,’” Doering said, adding that some patients prefer to believe that they have pneumonia or other diseases rather than covid-19, despite seeing their positive test results.

Also, just as tragic is the patients who expect to get the same level of treatment that their beloved leader got at the White House. They want the same antibody cocktail that Trump got. Sadly, even if it was available to them, they couldn’t afford it.

Trump Cult Dead-enders just can’t deal with it

The Trump cult “dead enders” will never accept that their beloved ruler lost his re-election bid because they are not psychologically capable of letting go of their deeply held beliefs.

Trump has spent the last four years distorting reality to serve his own ends and his rabid followers have lapped up his lies because they comport with their own beliefs and cognitive dissonance rules their world.

It seems to us that most human beings will do just about anything to resolve contradictions between thier deeply held beliefs about the world and the reality of the world itself. Cognitive dissonance is so unpleasant, so disordering and catastrophic for the ego, that no amount of absurd, tortured reasoning is worse than reality contradicting a deeply held belief.  All of us try to resolve cognitive dissonance, but the Trump Cult has been a years-long exercise in it. Election denial is its latest manifestation. But before that came COVID denial, science denial, climate denial, ‘alternative facts,’ the inability of Trump’s most devoted fans to see him for the obvious con man that he is, and, at the movement’s very core, denial of the social and demographic changes that are transforming America.

Supporters of Trump who have been buffeted by reality are increasingly reaching for even more far-fetched conspiracy theories which helped along groups like QAnon.

Cognitive dissonance is also a primary reason that people resort to conspiracy theories, which Trumpworld increasingly resembles, not only in fringe manifestations like QAnon but in the allegation of widespread fraud in the presidential election, which, of course, has no factual basis whatsoever and is, at this point, simply a conspiracy theory writ large,” he explained. “In this light, QAnon isn’t some weird, fringe phenomenon with no connection to populist politics. It’s a logical extension of the populist worldview. If ‘the people’ are actually the majority, then a sinister minority—Jews, ‘coastal elites’, the media, the Satanic pedophiles, whoever—is actually in control. It’s a short jump from that to full-blown conspiracy madness. And when the anointed messenger of ‘the people’ turns out to be a buffoon chiefly interested in his own enrichment, well, that must all be a ruse. Or a media conspiracy. Or whatever.”

Edited from Jay Michaelson column in the Daily Beast

Joe Biden is the winner and has been since Wednesday

This contest has not been a nail biting, back-and-forth affair with wild swings in tallies, and that the winner truly remains in doubt. It’s not, and the coverage reflects that as analysts go over the votes, the math, the projections and essentially tell voters that Trump can’t win. The race is stuck in neutral because the corporate media is terrified of the Trump Cult

The networks bowing to Trump bullying, as he and his cult fill the indecision vacuum with outrageous, fitful claims of the election being rigged! His television appearance from the White House this week where Trump lied nonstop about the U.S election process was a truly dangerous low point for his presidency, as his supporters feed off his lies and take to streets screaming about the election being “stolen.”

After four years, are major news organizations still tip toeing around Trump in hopes of not becoming the target of his wrath? It sure feels that way.

The Trump cult went ballistic when Fox News on Election Night called Arizona for Biden, waging an ugly smear campaign against the network. Fox has stood by the call and four days later, Biden has a lead of nearly 30,000 votes. Yet other networks still won’t call it for Biden.

In Nevada where virtually all the counting is done, Biden leads by nearly two percentage points. That’s an advantage far larger than what Decision Desks usually need to make a pronouncement, when so few votes remain uncounted. If that race had the exact same vote count but were a Nevada contest for the U.S. Senate, instead of a state race that could seal Trump’s defeat, that election call likely would’ve been made 24 hours ago.

Meanwhile, for Fox News to call Arizona early, to correctly stand by it, and today refuse to call Nevada makes no sense. If Fox were to call Nevada for Biden, they’d have to announce him the winner, with 270 electoral votes. At the same time, what does Fox News know about Arizona that the other networks don’t, as they refuse to award the state to Biden?

The process is creating confusion, and real appearance that the media’s bowing down to Trump. Again.

Today, the election coverage continues to walk itself around in a “Groundhog Day” circle, as TV pundits all point to the obvious: Biden’s going to win, but claim they’re just waiting for the announcement. All the while, ironic “BREAKING NEWS” announcements fill the TV screens.

It’s a final absurdist ending to bully Trump’s absurd and radical four years.

edited from Press Run

There’s mounting dread about wannabe dictator Trump, post-election

It’s rigged!

Tuesday’s election is looking good for Joe Biden while there’s mounting dread about how Wannabe Dictator Trump will behave after a defeat. After all, Trump is a sociopathic narcissist with no emotional control and he lives in mortal terror of being viewed as a loser. He’s already made clear that he will refuse to concede, no matter what, and he’s grasping desperately for any way to get legal ballots thrown out so he can steal the election.

No wonder people are afraid Trump will go completely apeshit if his efforts to steal this fail and he actually loses. Psychologists worry that the narcissistic injury to Trump will result in him lashing out in his vindictive rage to punish an America which he may believe has consigned him to ‘loser’ status.

Some two dozen officials and aides, several of whom are still serving in the Trump administration, are worried that Trump could use the power of the government to lash out at enemies, try to steal the election or otherwise wreak havoc on the nation.

Trump could do real damage to the country, his successor or presidential traditions, there’s reason to wonder if a Trump transition might actually be the start of the wildest chapter of an already controversial presidency. We May Need the Twenty-Fifth Amendment if Trump Loses,” blares a headline at the New Yorker.

Of course, we should be worried that Trump, a vindictive man whose only true pleasures come from sadism, will abuse his power to punish Americans if he loses.

But let’s be honest: He’s also going to do that even if he wins.

Win or lose — Trump is about to unleash hell

Edited from Salon story by Amanda Marcotte

Trump’s wall of bullying baffling bullshit, a national embarrassment

 

‘Standing by sir’: Proud Boys praise Trump’s comment telling them to ‘stand by’ during first presidential debate

Shedding all semblance of decency, let alone public civility, a desperate Trump turned Tuesday’s presidential debate not only into a brawl but also a national embarrassment. Behaving like a petulant teenager, Trump rolled his eyes, constantly interrupted, hectored, tried to pick fights, and generally made a fool of himself as more than 80 million Americans tuned in, most of whom were likely thinking, ‘What have we become as a nation?’

It was clearly the worst presidential debate in American history, as Fox News moderator Chris Wallace got completely steamrolled by Trump’s bullying ways. And it was a debacle that Trump pre-planned. Allergic to debate prep and still seething about the blockbuster revelation about his massive tax evasion practices, Trump arrived with one goal — to make sure the debate was incomprehensible and that viewers learned as little as possible.

That’s why it’s time to call off the next two debates. Tuesday’s car wreck was a complete waste of time.

Months ago, I urged the Biden campaign to not show up for any of the debates this election season because I didn’t see the benefit of sharing the stage with a madman for 90 minutes. There’s no upside to normalizing his behavior with a presidential debate and the legitimacy it provides. Now everyone sees the results. Biden held his own last night, there’s no question, telling Trump more than once to “shut up,” which in the past would have been unthinkable for a Democrat to utter on a debate stage. And it was exactly what was called for.

But there’s no need to repeat the fiasco. There’s no need for Biden to show up again so Trump can smear Biden family members, make a mockery out of public discourse, and lie relentlessly about every topic discussed during the forums. Running for president is serious business, and Trump is a child.

And yes, the 2020 debates are already so much worse than the 2016 debates, when, in retrospect, Trump at least pretended to occasionally follow some of the norms of public behavior. But all of that is gone now. Lost in the authoritarian power that he craves in the White House, Trump deems it beneath him to share the stage, and the spotlight, with another politician.

Another reason for Biden to politely bow out is because while the press is going to correctly portray the Tuesday debate as a stunning failure, they’re going to couch it in Both Sides language, suggesting Biden was somehow at all responsible for the national embarrassment when it was entirely Trump’s doing.

That was apparent in real-time last night. From Politico: “The first Trump-Biden debate: A trainwreck.” New York Times: “Sharp Personal Attacks and Name-Calling in Chaotic First Debate.” CNN: “Pure Chaos at First Debate.” The Washington Post: “First Trump-Biden meeting marked by constant interruptions by Trump.” Technically those headlines were accurate, but all the news outlets presented the story as if both sides were to blame for the televised disintegration.

There’s also the simple fact that unless the Commission on Presidential Debates allows moderators to cut off Trump’s mic for the next two forums, it’s not possible for any moderator to keep control of the event. Wallace was completely humiliated by Trump, who ran over the Fox News anchor at every turn, making it impossible for there to be anything remotely resembling a revealing or intelligent debate.

Comically, Wallace told the New York Times he wanted to be “invisible” during the debate, meaning it was up to the candidates to engage each other. Commission officials actually thought Wallace would act as a “facilitator,” gently walking Trump through the evening’s topics. That makes sense if you think Trump is a rational, sane person. But Trump’s a nihilistic actor. And the Beltway’s refusal to acknowledge that — to think that protocols like presidential debates could still be adhered to — fueled last night’s disaster.

It also lends credence to canceling the next two debates, because it’s not possible to stage a two-person debate when one of them is a sociopath. The debate Commission can act quickly to try to save this format, by allowing Trump’s mic to be cut. But anything short of that would be a waste of time. It would be a waste of Biden’s time, and a waste of Americans’ time.

Trump has torn up so many norms and traditions with his radical behavior. So let’s add another one to the list — let’s cancel the next two debates. Nobody will miss them.

 

Eric Boehlert Press Run

 

The Terrible Trump Taliban coming to your town next?

Trump cultists rally in Portland Oregon to try and provoke as much trouble and violence as possible

Many officials including the mayor of Portland, Oregon, are accusing Donald Trump of encouraging violence after a reported member of a rightwing group was shot dead when Trump supporters confronted “Black Lives Matter” protesters. Mayor Ted Wheeler said: “…. Trump, for four years we have had to live with you and your racist attacks on black people. We learned early about your sexist attitudes towards women … we have listened to your attacks on immigrants … do you seriously wonder that America in decades has not seen this level of violence?”

In Kenosha, Wisconsin, where Jacob Blake was shot by police and paralyzed, concern grew that the tense but currently peaceful situation could be inflamed by a planned visit this week from Bullyboy Trump, who appears keen to stoke law and order fears among voters heading into the election.

Trump Is Playing up Fears of Violence by inciting it.

Trump and his allies are trying to depict protests over racial injustice somehow as a law-and-order campaign issue, continuously attacking Democratic leaders, refusing to condemn deadly vigilante violence carried out by his cult members, and touting a fantasy of a “tranquil Trump’s America”.
Now former Vice President Joe Biden is accusing Trump of inciting the violence for his political gain.

All of this against a backdrop of a still-raging coronavirus outbreak, the White House has offered the clearest signal yet of a calculated GOP strategy of inciting violence and then exploiting voter fears of the violence as the campaign against Biden enters the final stretch and Trump badly trails in the polls.

This is an escalated version of the strategy Trump employed, unsuccessfully, in the 2018 midterm election, when he spent weeks warning of “caravans” of migrants fill with MS-13 gang members trying to reach the U.S. border with Mexico.

Trump plans to try an incite more violence by visiting Kenosha, Wis., where protests have flared for the last week over the unjustified police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who was left paralyzed, and where a teenage Trumpy gunman who idolized law enforcement has been charged in two deaths. Administration officials provided no indication that Trump wants to meet with Blake’s family, with whom Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, have talked at length.

Joe Biden excoriated Trump on Monday as a threat to the safety of all Americans, saying he has encouraged violence in the nation’s streets even as he has faltered in handling the coronavirus pandemic.

Joe Biden condemned the violence, “whether on the left or the right,” and has called on Trump to do the same, don’t hold your breath.

 

 

Sources: Guardian, raw story, Washington Post, LA Times 

Trump and his cult followers are stoking a race war

BuzzFeed News reported that the suspect in the Kenosha shooting attended a Trump rally in Des Moines, Iowa in January — and sat in the front row. It figures, we think he was clearly inspired to go out a shoot people after listening to “Dear Leader”

“Kyle Howard Rittenhouse’s social media presence is filled with him posing with weapons, posting ‘Blue Lives Matter,’ and supporting Trump for president,” reported Ellie Hall, Amber Jamieson, and Tasneem Nashrulla. “Footage from the Des Moines, Iowa, rally on Jan. 30 shows Rittenhouse feet away from Trump, in the front row, to the left of the podium. He posted a TikTok video from the event.”

“Seven months later, Rittenhouse went with his rifle to the third night of Black Lives Matter protests in Kenosha,” continued the report. “Rittenhouse attended as an armed vigilante, supposedly assisting police and protecting property in an unofficial capacity but instead he prowled the protest with a gun. Videos captured him fraternizing with law enforcement and attempting to get their attention.” He is accused of opening fire, killing two protesters and injuring a third.

Rittenhouse, an Illinois resident, was arrested on Wednesday after allegedly fleeing back over the state line.

Trump has been sharply critical of the Black Lives Matter protests, recently threaten to stoke violence by sending the military to states with protests to supposedly keep order but really to provoke.

News source Raw Story

Using armed thugs to try to win the election

Trump is gathering up an ‘illegal’ army to send to the polls

It has been declared illegal, inappropriate, vague and not his job, but there was Donald Trump again this week promising to send an army of armed sheriffs, off-duty police, attorneys general to loom over physical voting – a hedge, he said, against the voter fraud he can never show.

Fantasy voter fraud

Until now, Trump’s been decrying the widespread fraud he thinks is possible – including foreign monkeying with actual votes – from mail-in ballots necessitated by the pandemic. Apparently, enough judges, postal officials past and present, and state officials have sufficiently debunked that idea that Trump has turned to the actual physical vote to intimidate.

The only thing clear to me in all this is that trashing everyone’s vote unless it is a guaranteed Trump vote is the mission for the season. When Joe Biden or other Democrats this last week were decrying an election that has put Democracy itself on the ballot, this is the stuff they were discussing.

As usual, even this bullying campaign comes with the thunder of words, but just a whisper of what actually is possible to achieve, though it actually appears that his team is taking it seriously.

You probably read his announcement as I did: What is Trump talking about? What would this army do, exactly, other than standing around staring at voters, particularly voters of color, to intimidate them? How would sending this army out actually prevent widespread fraud – are they going to check voter signatures (against what?) or fix voting machines that break during the night?

Don’t state officials run elections? Doesn’t the Justice Department and other independent of bi-partisan groups already checkup that, say, a precinct doesn’t report twice the number of tallies as registered voters? What fraud exactly does Trump expect to rebut?

Suppressing Votes

Last week, a federal judge in Pittsburgh, a Trump appointee incidentally, ordered the Trump campaign to produce proof of widespread fraud in its challenge of Pennsylvania’s plans to distribute mail ballot applications. The campaign turned in 500 pages, reflecting almost no fraud.

Other states are lining up behind the nine that have always sent out mail ballot applications, out of consideration of public health issues during coronavirus. Still, Trump has bleated about fraud, apparently unwilling to distinguish between ballot applications and actual ballots, which contain multiple confirmation signatures that are checkable against registration records.

Trump says, wrongly, that people may submit mail-in ballots and still show up to vote physically, effectively illegally voting twice. Again, since he votes by mail, perhaps he doesn’t know about checking in with poll workers with signature books.

Trump’s appointment of Louis DeJoy as postmaster general has resulted in upheaval over slowed mail, just before an avalanche of mail ballots. DeJoy faces Congress this week to explain that this isn’t raw politics at work to suppress votes.

This week too, Politico.com reported that in a private meeting days before his inauguration, Trump told a group of civil rights leaders that lower turnout among Black voters did, in fact, benefit him in the 2016 presidential election.

Now, we’ve arrived at an announced tactic of deploying a Trump army.

The Pattern

It’s a pattern to impede how people vote, with comments and flailing directives to undermine confidence in this election in which Trump is behind. Trump has made false claims about of mail-in balloting, has threatened to delay elections, to withhold money from states that send out mail ballots, to cut money for the Post Office.

As it turns out, Trump has limited authority to order law enforcement to patrol polling places. Sheriff’s deputies and police officers are local, of course, and a federal law bars U.S. government officials from sending “armed men” to the vicinity of polling places.

The Washington Post reminded us that nearly 30 years ago, a Republican Party program that dispatched off-duty police officers to patrol polling places in heavily Black and Latino neighborhoods in New Jersey triggered accusations of voter intimidation, particularly aimed at people of color. That practice resulted in a federal court agreement, expired two years ago, that restricted how the national GOP could observe voting. Trump apparently is reviving that idea,

Of course, Trump’s exhortations may prompt local officials to act on their own in states where there already are active voter suppression campaigns, like North Carolina and Georgia.

Officially, Matthew Morgan, general counsel for Trump’s reelection campaign, said that “Republicans will be ready to make sure the polls are being run correctly, securely, and transparently as we work to deliver the free and fair election Americans deserve.” The campaign apparently hopes to recruit 30,000 poll-watchers in battleground states.

The Voting Rights Act outlaws the intimidation or coercion of voters, including tactics to deploy sheriff’s deputies and police officers to the polls.

Under federal law, poll-watching has been done by bipartisan or independent civic groups, with a unit of the Justice Department at hand to enter where problems arise.

With all of this going on, both parties are recruiting lawyers by the dozen for the inevitable set of legal challenges that will come after Election Day.

Obviously, an outcome by a substantial majority will make resolutions easier than a close race.

Nothing about a Trump election is ever clear

 

Terry H. Schwadron, DCReport @ Raw Story Investigates