Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Incitement to violence - Trump leads America on a war against itself

The authoritarian dictator, Donald J. Trump, has a history of threatening violence against those who disagree with him, or even just reporting on his rallies. That history includes his urging members of his audience to take violent action against the press and others in attendance. If you are reluctant to believe that, here are the results of some fact-checking by snopes.com.

Incitement to violence on campaign trail

Trump incites
Incitement to violence?

Did Donald Trump Encourage Violence at His Rallies? asks Snopes.com. The fact-checking reveals that A viral cartoon accurately presents several quotations by the then-presidential candidate, delivered on the campaign trail in 2015 and 2016.

Donald Trump faced criticism during his successful 2016 presidential campaign based on the aggressive atmospheres of many of his rallies, where tension and intimidation repeatedly spilled over into violence.

Some of that violence has resulted in lawsuits. In one ongoing suit, Kentucky protesters who attempted to disrupt a rally in March 2016 are suing the president in federal court for incitement to riot after he urged “Get ’em out of here” from the stage, upon which members of the crowd attacked and forcibly removed the protesters.

As part of these criticisms, a cartoon emerged in June 2017 which appeared to accuse White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders of misinforming the public about Trump’s record on encouraging or condoning violence.

Along with presenting eight purported statements by the president, the cartoon quotes Sanders as saying that “The President in no way, form, or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence”:

The cartoon has been shared numerous times since June and resurfaced in February 2018, when it was posted by the Impeach Trump Facebook page and tweeted out by singer/actress Bette Middler.

The cartoon was rarely credited to its creator, the illustrator Jesse Duquette, who publishes The Daily Don, a series of cartoons about the presidency of Donald Trump. Duquette first posted the cartoon to Facebook on 30 June 2017.

We’ve received many inquiries from readers about the authenticity of the quotations featured in the cartoon, and they are all statements made by Donald Trump. Although each is presented in isolation, they fairly reflect the context in which Trump uttered them.

Snopes goes on to provide the video clips documenting each of the utterances claimed in the cartoon.

Onward Christian Soldiers?

Recall the old psychological adage: The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Sure enough, Trump went on an even worse tirade in a meeting with Christian leaders.

In closed-door meeting, Trump told Christian leaders he got rid of a law. He didn’t.. According to recorded excerpts of private remarks, he said evangelicals were “one election away from losing everything.”

He said a lot more that comports with his history of incitement. Here are snippets from the NBC report.

In a closed-door meeting with evangelical leaders Monday night, President Donald Trump repeated his debunked claim that he had gotten “rid of” a law forbidding churches and charitable organizations from endorsing political candidates, according to recorded excerpts reviewed by NBC News.

In fact, the law remains on the books, after efforts to kill it in Congress last year failed.

But Trump cited this alleged accomplishment as one in a series of gains he has made for his conservative Christian supporters, as he warned, “You’re one election away from losing everything that you’ve got,” and said their opponents were “violent people” who would overturn these gains “violently.”

Trump addressed the law and the upcoming midterms in private remarks Monday during a dinner with evangelical supporters at the White House after the press had left.

At stake in the November midterms, Trump told the audience, are all the gains he has made for conservative Christians.

“The level of hatred, the level of anger is unbelievable,” he said. “Part of it is because of some of the things I’ve done for you and for me and for my family, but I’ve done them. … This Nov. 6 election is very much a referendum on not only me, it’s a referendum on your religion, it’s a referendum on free speech and the First Amendment.”

If the GOP loses, he said, “they will overturn everything that we’ve done and they’ll do it quickly and violently, and violently. There’s violence. When you look at Antifa and you look at some of these groups — these are violent people.”

Who is “they”? Does he mean to predict “If the GOP loses, the GOP will overturn …violently?” Or does he mean to predict “If the GOP loses, Democrats will overturn … violently?”

Assuming “they” refers to Democrats, what does he expect that “they” will do? Will “they” undo what Trump has done, like enact laws that harm the health and welfare of working families? Sure. But as Rep. Elijah Cummings said, "One thing I’m not looking for is retribution,” … “I’m just trying to get to regular order, I swear to God.” In other words, we can look forward to a return to our democratic values and practices.

What if Trump loses in 2018 or 2020? Given his impulsivity might he actually shoot someone as he has contemplated, hypothetically?

What if Trump Did Actually Shoot Someone on Fifth Avenue?

The NY Times author Thomas Friedman says Your vote in the midterms matters, because Republicans in Congress won’t restrain the president’s excesses. If Trump actually did shoot someone, what would be the reaction and by whom? Friedman imagines the consequences.

Sept. 3 (AP) — President Trump stopped his motorcade in Manhattan today, jumped out of his limousine and shot a man on Fifth Avenue who was shouting anti-Trump epithets. The shooting was recorded by the White House press pool as well as by dozens of bystanders with cellphones and by security cameras in the area. When asked for his reaction, House Speaker Paul Ryan said, “We will need more information than is available at this point.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said through pursed lips that he “was not going to comment on every up and down with this president.” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said he already had information indicating that the man whom Trump shot “worked for the Clinton Foundation and may have been a relative of former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin.”

Fox News did not cover Trump’s shooting at the top of its broadcast, which focused instead on the killing of an Iowa woman by an undocumented immigrant. Fox’s only reference to the fact that the president shot a man on Fifth Avenue was that “a New York City man died today when he ran right into a bullet fired by the president.”

Senator Lindsey Graham quipped that “Trump shoots as well as he putts” and that this incident would not cause the South Carolina senator to cancel his coming golf round with the president at his Bedminster, N.J., course.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that she was looking the other way when the shooting happened so she had no comment, adding: “I haven’t had a chance to discuss it with the president. I’ll get back to you if I have something. But the president has stated many times that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it. So he’s just keeping a campaign promise. He did nothing wrong. There are no charges against him. And even though I have no comment, and he has no comment, we’ve commented on this extensively.”

Hours later, though, the president tweeted: “Actually, some people are saying that a man who looked a lot like Barack Obama did the shooting. I’m not saying that — but some people are. It also could have been somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds who fired that shot. Like Rudy said: Truth is not truth — unless I say so.”

Jerry Falwell Jr., a top evangelical leader, announced that his movement would be holding a vigil this evening, praying that the president had not stressed himself too much by having to shoot a man on Fifth Avenue. Falwell added, “This would never have happened if Jeff Sessions were doing his job.”

The day ended with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos declaring that the fact that the president could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in broad daylight “only proves again why we need to arm all our schoolteachers.”

Friedman yanks us back to reality: “My biggest challenge in writing all of the above? Worrying that readers wouldn’t realize it was made up.”

That’s because we all now know that Trump was right when he said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and his supporters would stick with him. We’ve seen him get away with too much by now. No restraint on Trump will ever come from his party or his base — especially after the passing of John McCain. So save your breath. Trump will be restrained only if his party loses the House or the Senate. That’s what is at stake in the midterm elections — so vote accordingly.

And for those Republican moderates, independents and suburban white women who voted for Trump in 2016 and are considering voting against G.O.P. House and Senate candidates in November to put some limits on the president and show their disapproval at G.O.P. lawmakers’ failure to act as an independent branch of government, let me describe the stakes in another way:

America, we all know, won the Cold War. Our values and economic system proved superior to Russia’s. But what is at stake in the 2018 midterms is who is going to win the post-Cold War.

Yes, that question is back on the table. Because what we are seeing in the behavior of Trump and his toadies in the G.O.P. is the beginnings of the Russification of American politics. Vladimir Putin could still win the post-Cold War.

[In the Cold War,] Because the Soviets claimed to have built a worker’s paradise, it was important that we had strong unions, a strong middle class, less inequality and an adequate social safety net. The Soviets did not have the rule of law. So we had to have it more than ever.

But with the Cold War now far back in our rearview mirror, Trump has not only insisted on bringing America closer to Putin’s Russia geopolitically, but also politically. This, despite the fact that our intelligence agencies and biggest internet companies have confirmed multiple times that Russia interfered in our 2016 election and continues to meddle.

Trump still refuses to show us his tax returns long after his “audit,” which can only mean he is hiding something. His campaign chairman Paul Manafort is a convicted tax cheat who was trying to keep Putin’s stooge in power in Ukraine. Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen is another confessed tax cheat.

And the first two House Republicans to endorse Trump in 2016 — Duncan Hunter and Chris Collins — were both just indicted on corruption charges. They are hardly the first government officials to be arrested; Democrats have not been immune to fittings for handcuffs. But one has a stronger feeling than ever that with a moral vacuum at the heart of the Trump White House — and with the president assaulting the media and the judiciary on a regular basis, not unlike Putin — everything goes, so grab what you can, because no one’s looking. The cat’s away.

Maybe that’s why Trump and Putin understand and appreciate each other — and why so many Russians like Trump. They say, “He is just like us — no better and no worse.”

There are other parallels between Trumpism and Putinism: the glorification of oil, gas and mining over science and technology; the elevation of white, Christian, nationalist values; and the neutering of the legislative branch — today’s G.O.P.-dominated Congress behaves just like the rubber-stamp Russian Duma. Worse, this Russification of politics is also spreading — to the Philippines, Turkey, Hungary, Poland and maybe soon to Brazil.

A few more years of this Russification of America and the rot will be everywhere. Russia will have won the post-Cold War, and the fictional story at the top of this column will become nonfiction — just like that. Remember that when you vote in the midterms.

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