Europe is battling “semi-fascism” in ways similar to America

Europeans like to laugh at Americans and how stupid they were to elect Donald Trump. Some of that is well-deserved.

But we Americans are not alone in our susceptibility to the siren call of fascism — excuse me, “semi-fascism” — and right-wing candidates. After all, the Italians appear set to choose Giorgia Meloni who thinks Mussolini was not all that bad:

Meloni’s critics say the world should wake up to just how extreme her views really are, warning of a return to the dark days of 1930s fascism. Media coverage pointing out that Italy’s new government should be sworn in around the time of the 100th anniversary of Mussolini’s March on Rome has reinforced the point.

For senior Democrat Laura Boldrini, a critic and political rival of the Brothers, Meloni “represents the far right in Italy which has not had a reckoning with its past.”

Boldrini said: “Brothers of Italy is infiltrated by declared fascist elements.” The party “clearly wants a closed society that looks to the past while Italy needs to look to the future. Medieval times are over.”

And now the Brits are saddled with, inexplicably, a prime minster who may be even worse than Boris Johnson, as writer James Ball recounts in his article titled, “39 good reasons Liz Truss will be a terrible Prime Minister.”

The threat of right-wing extremism never goes away, almost anywhere in the world. Even in places that liberal Americans think are more civilized than America.

This is especially true when economic times are tough and people are susceptible to the easy answers of the demagogue and the scapegoating of whomever the political Right paints as being the enemy.

Vigilance and voting are the only answers to it, as tiring as the vigilance part can be.

It’s been like extremist whack-a-mole my entire life. You bat them down in one place and one election and they just pop up in another place and another election. Sometimes it’s the same people. Sometimes it’s new people encouraged by the people you thought you’d defeated.

They never go away. I think steeling myself to that reality has helped me to not give in to despair.

You do what you do, you stay informed and vote where you can, because you’re trying to keep them from completely taking over. Which they will do if the rest of us are not out there opposing them.

Semi-fascist Giorgia Meloni, probably the next Italian prime minister.

One of the right-wing’s most important money sources has dried up, further jeopardizing mid-term elections for GOP

The late multi-billionaire Sheldon Adelson revolutionized, in many ways, trade shows and casino management.

He was also one of the most reliable money spigots for Republicans and right-wing causes.

Sheldon Adelson gave more than a half-billion dollars in the last decade to GOP super PACs alone.

Sheldon’s wife Miriam is a bit of an anomaly in that she was an emergency room physician and substance abuse researcher before she married Sheldon. Although a right-winger when it comes to her native Israel, there were always clues she probably didn’t enjoy having to give money to, and rubbing shoulders with, the under-educated rabble of America’s right-wing GOP.

Well, now that Sheldon is dead, that gusher of money to the GOP and GOP causes has almost dried up.

Republicans aren’t seeing as many big checks from one of their most generous benefactors, creating a financial hole for the GOP just as Democrats get a fundraising windfall tied to abortion.

Miriam Adelson along with her late husband Sheldon Adelson were the party’s biggest donors over the past decade. But her only major contribution in the current election cycle is the $5 million she donated in July to the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC that backs House GOP candidates.

The couple, the largest shareholders of casino giant Las Vegas Sands Corp. and a long-time bugaboo to Democrats, donated $524 million to the party’s super PACs, committees and candidates between 2011 and 2020. They were high-profile backers of former President Donald Trump, who awarded Miriam the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2018.

But since her husband’s death in January 2021, Miriam Adelson, a 76-year-old physician, has largely eschewed the in-person events with politicians that typically conclude with big donations, according to two people familiar with her activity who asked not to be identified. Miriam, who spends much of her time in Israel, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Good for her. I’d stop giving money to the leeches of the American GOP, too, the second I had the chance.

Miriam, who never really liked leaving Israel for America, is no idiot. She knows deep down that if much of the GOP had its way, Jews would be second-class citizens. And the only reason many extremists in the GOP love Israel is because they think it will be the place where Armageddon begins.

If I had the chance, I would also decamp for Tel Aviv in my golden years. It’s an amazingly vibrant, interesting city filled with wonderful people. As long as you don’t piss them off in traffic. As you do regularly if you ride a scooter anywhere in Tel Aviv and the old city.

The late Sheldon Adelson and Miriam Adelson.

Judge strikes down massive gift Democrats in NJ gave to gaming industry

The sneaky sneaksters — Democrats, all of them — who tried to slip special tax treatment for New Jersey casinos into law, were rebuked this week by a state judge who said the law was passed improperly and likely violated the state constitution.

A Superior Court judge in New Jersey has struck down a state law granting Atlantic City’s casinos tens of millions of dollars in tax breaks, saying that the measure was passed on dubious grounds and violated the state Constitution.

The ruling, handed down Monday, deals a blow to Gov. Phil Murphy and the state’s legislative leaders, who fast-tracked the legislation through the Legislature last year. It is also a rebuke to the gaming industry, which had argued the bill was needed because it was struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

At issue in the court case were changes to a local taxing program known as PILOT, or payment in lieu of property taxes. Since 2016, instead of paying property taxes, each casino has paid a share of an industrywide assessment that was distributed to Atlantic City, its school district and the county to fund various operations. The number was calculated based on the prior year’s total gaming revenue. But last year, the industry pressed for and won a key legislative change to that formula, excluding online gaming — a fast-growing sector of its business — from the program. The alteration reduced the gaming companies’ total PILOT liability this year by $55 million — revenue cuts that disproportionately impacted Atlantic City, one of the state’s most distressed cities.

A conservative nonprofit group called Liberty and Prosperity 1776 challenged the constitutionality of the law, saying the state’s founding document bars preferential tax treatment. The state countered that the new law was exempt from that prohibition because it served a “permissible public purpose.” On Monday, Atlantic County Assignment Judge Michael Blee sided with the nonprofit, potentially increasing casinos’ tax bills and sending tens of millions of additional dollars into local coffers.

I haven’t looked yet, but I’ll bet that these state leaders — again, mostly Democrats — have profited handsomely in some way from the gaming industry.

New Jersey has a Democratic trifecta. Both houses of the legislature and the governor’s office are all controlled by Democrats.

Which goes to show you, that no matter how bad the Republicans are — and they are mostly much worse than Democrats in every way — there will always also be Democrats willing to sell out voters to large, well-funded corporations.

Start paying attention!

If I lived in NJ and my Democratic legislators voted for this, I’d have a hard time voting for them again in the next Democratic primary.

Two-thirds of Americans think Biden’s student loan plan is correct or didn’t go far enough

The Republican playbook since the time of Reagan has been to take a bunch of billionaires and use their money to elect pro-Wall Street politicians from Harvard and Yale, then teach those politicians to espouse rhetoric about their love of the working class and “real Americans” those same politicians ultimately despise and work against.

Ted Cruz is currently on tour saying about student loan forgiveness, “What President Biden has, in effect, decided to do is to take from working-class people, to take from truck drivers and construction workers right now, thousands of dollars in taxes in order to redistribute it to college graduates who have student loans.”

The New York Times‘ always excellent Jamelle Bouie has a column posted that reminds all of us how ridiculous this is for so many reasons:

Now, as I noted over the weekend, this way of thinking betrays an ignorance of working-class life in this country. To work as a truck driver or a medical technician or a home inspector or any number of other similar blue-collar jobs, you need training, licenses, certifications. People go to school to meet these requirements. They apply for the same federal student loans and take on the same debt as someone going to college. And many of these Americans labor under the burden of that debt because of high costs and lower-than-expected earnings. (To say nothing of those who attended college, took on debt, but didn’t graduate.)

The idea that student loan relief is a handout to a small minority of affluent college graduates is simply a myth.

But even if you put all this aside, there is also the fact that these would-be spokesmen for working-class and blue-collar Americans aren’t actually speaking for working-class and blue-collar Americans. The polls, so far, make this clear.

The first poll since the plan was announced, from Emerson College, shows broad approval from across the electorate. When asked about loan forgiveness of up to $10,000 for borrowers making under $125,000 a year — one of the key planks of Biden’s plan — 35 percent of respondents said it was “just about the right amount of action.” This might not seem like much, but then consider the 30 percent of respondents who said $10,000 worth of relief was “not enough.” Presumably, this group will support the current plan but wishes it would go even further — bringing the total number of supporters to almost two-thirds of Americans. Just over a third of respondents, by contrast, said that Biden’s plan went too far.

That’s right: 2/3 of Americans think that Biden’s student loan plan was “just about right” or didn’t go far enough. Don’t let the right-wing tell you otherwise.

You can read the rest of Bouie’s column at this link.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx.), the Harvard-educated lawyer who falsely portrays himself a hero of the working class, shown as he was famously escaping to Cancun while people in his state were freezing to death.

Now seems like a good time to share again this video about Anthony Fauci

Now that Dr. Fauci has announced his retirement. let’s re-visit this 2020 election eve Lincoln Project video looking back at his career. Narrated by Harrison Ford, no less.

As someone who was around when the Reagan Administration was doing nothing as gay men and hemophiliacs were dying of AIDS, I remember well that Fauci was the only person in power at the time who sat down with AIDS activists to try to understand their fear and anger. He helped shepherd the robust response that built over time after Reagan left office.

That alone could serve as a capstone to any doctor’s career.

NC Lt. Gov. comes out in favor of abolishing science, social studies, in grade schools

In case you are wondering where the GOP and its Breitbart/QAnon nutjobs are heading with their, thus far, highly successful efforts to eviscerate public school systems to point that there is a serious qualified teacher shortage across the country, look no further than North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson.

Robinson, you may recall, worked at a furniture factory and was basically a political nobody. That is, until April of 2018 when the Greensboro (NC) City Council was debating whether to cancel a gun show in the wake of the Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting.

Robinson gave an unhinged gun rights speech, which was shared by a a right-wing congressman on Facebook, and that, my friends, is enough to qualify you for statewide office in NC.

Robinson is mulling a run for NC governor in 2024 and, to that end, he released a “memoir” full of his whack job political stances.

For instance, education is perhaps the top policy priority for Robinson. Because, as any fevered right-winger can tell you, honest public education leads to kids questioning whether America was chosen by God to lead the world, whether women can do more than birth babies, and whether the Grand Canyon is really only 4,000 years old and created by Noah’s flood.

Robinson said he’d work to keep history, science and a number of other subjects out of first through fifth grade curricula and instead prioritize reading, writing and math.

“In those grades, we don’t need to be teaching social studies,” he writes. “We don’t need to be teaching science. We surely don’t need to be talking about equity and social justice.”

Robinson also reaffirms personal views on climate change that became a major issue in the 2020 election. “Guess what? Most of the people of North Carolina know global warming is junk science,” he writes.

As lieutenant governor, Robinson is a voting member on the State Board of Education. He nonetheless says he’d like to eliminate the department if he could.

“I would get rid of it,” Robinson writes. “We need to have one entity, one person, where the buck stops. Right now we have at least three: the school boards, the state superintendent of education and the local school systems—and none are truly answerable to the others. We need one entity to be in charge of education in the state so that when the legislature has questions and concerns, they can go to that single institution and expect to influence the way education is done.”

Yep. There you have it. They really do want to get rid of public education, although the marginally smarter among them tend to not say it so clearly out loud.

These kinds of things are coming out more and more because these types of people are not from the, shall we say, genius end of the political spectrum. Now we have a Supreme Court that makes lesser wingnut minds among them feel more protected, more bold. Eventually they think saying this stuff out loud is going to mark them as truth-tellers and thrust them into the spotlight and right-wing stardom.

Hey, it worked for North Carolina’s Lt. Gov.

BTW, Robinson also writes in his book about how women “love to be able to talk a man into submission.”

Eeeew, eeew, TMI, TMI!

Robinson also noted on Facebook when the movie Black Panther came out:

It is at once funny and sad how African Americans need Hollywood to VALIDATE them. I have been bitting my tongue about this silly Black Panther comic book movie, but I can’t any longer. It is absolutely AMAZING to me that people who know so little about their true history and REFUSE to acknowledge the pure sorry state of their current condition can get so excited about a fictional “hero” created by an agnostic Jew and put to film by satanic marxist. How can this trash, that was only created to pull the shekels out of your Schvartze pockets, invoke any pride? You want something to be proud of? How about pulling your heads out of the sand and start speaking up and telling the HARD TRUTHS about the excesses that are destroying many black communities? How about you stop doing the heavy lifting for Democratic politicians during elections, only to have them pay you in crumbs and ignore you till they “need” you again. And how about some of you men go home and take your rightful place in that 70% of homes where you are SORELY NEEDED. I know a lot of people here will not like this message. But guess what, I DON’T CARE! I’m not here to please you. I don’t need your validation….

and I certainly don’t need Hollywood’s.

(Emphasis added.)

As the good Dr. Angelou noted, “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.”

You can read the rest of the article at this link. If you dare.

NC Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson.

Now is the time to contact your U.S. senators about the Respect for Marriage Act

If there were ever one of those times when U.S. senators of both parties were in need of calls from constituents supporting a piece of legislation, now is one of those times:

The Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that would enshrine the right to same-sex and interracial marriage in federal law, is only four short pages long. Yet in the week since the House passed the measure on a bipartisan vote and Democratic leaders indicated they planned to put it on the Senate floor, few Republican senators have found the time to read it — or so they said Tuesday.

“Haven’t read it,” said Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.).

“We’re still looking at it,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

“I’m not going to comment on it in terms of how I’m going to vote until I see the bill — if it does get a vote,” said Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.).

“Most of our members are going to say: Why are we having this vote right now when nobody’s talking about it?” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the No. 2 Senate GOP leader. “It seems like the Democrats are using it as a distraction.”

But in the eyes of Democrats, writing same-sex marriage into federal law became much more than a political stunt with last month’s Supreme Court decision overturning the constitutional right to abortion that had stood since the Roe v. Wade decision 49 years ago. Like the rights to interracial and same-sex marriage, the federal abortion right had been grounded in the constitutional theory of substantive due process that recognizes “unenumerated” rights such as the right to privacy.

While the controlling opinion of the court last month held that the abortion ruling should not “cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion,” a concurring opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas did precisely that — calling on the high court to “reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents,” including Obergefell and Griswold v. Connecticut, which protected access to contraception, and Lawrence v. Texas, which invalidated state sodomy laws.

The idea that we can believe Justice Alito that his abortion decision reasoning poses no danger to same-sex marriage is preposterous.

You can find your senator and her/his contact information here.

Why are the media so afraid of naming this guy as the fascist he really is?

This piece over at Unpopular Front by John Ganz has been making the rounds, and with good reasons.

It’s one of the best explanations I’ve seen online of the motivations — the true motivations — of billionaire fascist Peter Thiel.

Ganz starts out by noting the weird dance that the media do around the truth about Thiel:

Peter Thiel is a fascist. There’s really no better word for what he is. For some reason, people have a lot of trouble grasping this or just coming out and saying it.

In his biography of Thiel, The Contrarian: Peter Thiel and Silicon Valley’s Pursuit of Power, Max Chafkin writes, “The Thiel ideology is complicated and, in parts, self-contradictory, and will take many of the pages that follow to explore, but it combines an obsession with technological progress with nationalist politics—a politics that at times has seemingly flirted with white supremacy.” Let’s see, we’ve got some futurism, nationalism, maybe a little bit of racism here and there…hmm, what does that all add up to? What a mystery this guy is!

Ganz goes on to note:

Where to begin? First of all, yes, Thiel’s libertarianism is about freedom—freedom for him and people like him, the entrepreneurial elite of the capitalist class. He’s openly antidemocratic. In an essay for the Cato Institute, Thiel once wrote, “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible…” Why? Because if you empower the demos, they will eventually vote for restrictions on the power of capitalists. and therefore, restrictions on their “freedom.” He continues, “Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women — two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians — have rendered the notion of ‘capitalist democracy‘ into an oxymoron.” In that 2009 essay, Thiel imagines a kind of futurist program of utopian projects “beyond politics” in cyberspace or “seasteading,” but it’s clear now he’s returned to believing in politics, or at least an anti-political form of politics.

The brand of radical libertarianism favored by Thiel and his crony Curtis Yarvin has long looked to crackpot authoritarian solutions that would enable unalloyed capitalist domination. In the ’90s, Murray Rothbard, who took his primary political inspiration from the America First movement, conceived of a “Right-Wing Populist” strategy that envisioned a Trump-like figure who could “short-circuit” the political establishment and smash the remnants of the New Deal order. He also made common cause on occasion with holocaust deniers. Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Rothbard’s protege, has advocated monarchism and “covenant communities” organized on essentially totalitarian basis. His book Democracy: The God That Failed divides humanity into producers and subhuman, parasitic “pests.”

You can read the rest here. The piece is so good.

Peter Thiel, no doubt thinking of ways that he can thwart poor people and women who should never have gotten the vote.

Fox News allows Liz Cheney on Sunday show to talk (mostly) unimpeded about Jan. 6

First the Wall Street Journal, then the New York Post, and now … Fox News?

You cannot tell me the first two have nothing to do with Fox News bringing Liz Cheney onto its flagship Sunday morning news program to talk about Jan. 6, for the most part without the host taking over the interview.

That doesn’t mean that Bret Baier didn’t try to gaslight her, first with talk about whether her committee is going to investigate Nancy Pelosi and the Capitol Police:

“We have an entire team — we have five different teams in the investigation — one of them is totally focused on all of those issues of security at the Capitol and the response of Capitol Police, the response of the National Guard, the response of the Capitol Police board, what was going on at the Pentagon that day,” Cheney said. “It’s an entire focus of the investigation, you will see it in our report, you will likely see an upcoming hearing.”

Then she brought down the hammer: “But what we aren’t gonna do, Bret, is blame the Capitol Police, blame those in law enforcement, for Donald Trump’s armed mob that he sent to the Capitol.”

Cheney also debunked Baier’s assertion that Trump offered National Guard troops to defend the Capitol, citing public testimony by Trump’s own acting secretary of defense at the time, Chris Miller.

“We also know that on Jan. 6 while the attack was underway, Donald Trump did not place a single phone call to anyone at the Pentagon. He didn’t place a single phone call to anyone at the Justice Department to say, ‘Deploy law enforcement,’” Cheney said, adding, “The notion that somehow he issued an order is not consistent with the facts.”

Cheney also shot down Baier’s blathering about the committee being lopsided with Democrats.

In fact, Baier’s attempts to derail the conversation were so weak, I wonder if someone somewhere has given Fox News marching orders about not going all-in on Trump any longer.

You can read the rest at this link or watch it below.