Privatization has set the stage for rising far-right populism

“The privatization of schools, water, and other public goods increases inequality, which leaves people more susceptible to far-right leaders,” writes Jeremy Mohler of the anti-privatization organization In The Public Interest (ITPI):

It’s one sentence in a 1,244-word article, but it made me pause and think deeply.

The article was a guest essay in the New York Times about the rise of Sweden’s far-right political party, which was created out of a neo-Nazi group and resembles the increasingly Trumpian Republican Party with its hatred of immigrants, journalists, and others.

The sentence: “Once one of the most economically equal countries in the world, Sweden has seen the privatization of hospitals, schools and care homes, leading to a notable rise in inequality and a sense of profound loss.”

That makes me wonder: How much has privatization contributed to soaring far-right populism, white nationalism, and fascism in the U.S.?

In Sweden, argues journalist and author Elisabeth Asbrink, high levels of political and economic inequality leaves people looking for answers to why they’re suffering and who is to blame—and far right leaders are happy to provide them.

“It was better in the good old days, [those leaders] say, and people believe them,” Asbrink writes. “Back to red cottages and apple trees, to law and order, to women being women and men being men.”

Sound familiar?

Indeed it does sound famliar.

I always argue about privatization the same way:

Let’s say you have a city’s publicly-owned water utility, the major expenses of which can be grouped into four main areas:

  1. Water (getting and treating water)
  2. Distribution (moving the water from the utility to customers)
  3. Labor (wages, benefits)
  4. Operations (all the equipment and systems needed to do the first three)

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that each of those is 1/4 of the budget.

Now let’s say that the city council sells the utility to a private company in exchange for a large lump sum payment up-front.

Now you have:

  1. Water
  2. Distribution
  3. Labor
  4. Operations
  5. Profit Motive (including huge sums for executive salaries and money to stockholders)

You’ve only added another major expense — the profit motive — which actually now is the most important expense to its new owners, Wall Street. The previous four are now secondary considerations.

You have to take money somewhere from 1 through 4 to help pay for 5.

Who gets the shaft? Ratepayers, who end up paying much higher rates even though the Wall Street company has slashed employee benefits and pay, and started cutting corners on Distribution and Operations.

Nowhere, ever, in the history of major public utility privatization, has the public come out ahead. It hasn’t happened. You cannot point to a reliable source that says it has.

So the public, which doesn’t pay attention to the finer points of utility privatization politics, only knows its water bills are skyrocketing while the water tastes funny and the public can’t get anyone to answer the customer service lines at the water company because they’ve slashed payroll.

To the public, the water company is still the government, thereby feeding into the notion that government doesn’t work and we should throw all the bums out in favor of right-wing candidates who scream about “the swamp.”

Billionaires are funding the first lawsuit trying to block student loan forgiveness

There’s finally been a lawsuit seeking to end Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan. We’ll discover below what the Washington Post managed to gloss over in its coverage:

A lawsuit seeking to block President Biden’s plan to cancel some student debt claims the policy is not only illegal but could inflict harm on borrowers in some states who would be forced to pay taxes on the forgiven amount.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana on Tuesday, is the first significant legal action seeking to invalidate Biden’s policy before it takes effect.

The Pacific Legal Foundation, the conservative public interest law firm in California that is backing the lawsuit, asserts that the executive branch lacks the authority to create a new forgiveness policy and is usurping Congress’s power to make law. The suit was filed on behalf of Frank Garrison, an attorney who works for the foundation and lives in Indiana.

In its lawsuit, the foundation may have the one thing legal experts said was needed to make a legitimate case: a client with the standing to sue.

Garrison said he has been working toward having his federal student loans canceled through a program that erases the debt of public servants after 10 years of payments and service. Participants in that Public Service Loan Forgiveness program do not have to pay federal or state taxes.

However, Biden’s plan could result in borrowers in several states, including Indiana, being required to pay local tax bills, although they would not be subject to federal taxes.

Since Biden’s plan would take effect before Garrison’s debt is forgiven through the public service program, Garrison said he expects to pay more than $1,000 in state income taxes for the $20,000 of forgiven debt that he would be eligible for.

Again, what the WaPo and the New York Times both fail to mention that this lawsuit is being funded by billionaires, according to this excellent piece in Popular.Info:

But what you will not learn from either story is that the Pacific Legal Foundation receives extensive funding from right-wing billionaires. And this “public interest law firm” has a record of filing lawsuits that advance its donors’ economic and ideological interests.

Among the PLF”s major donors are entities controlled by right-wing billionaire Charles Koch, CEO of Koch Industries. A Popular Information review of tax filings from 2019 and 2020, the latest available, found that the Charles Koch Foundation and the Charles Koch Institute donated $2,331,550 to PLF in those two years.

In 2021, PLF filed suit “to strike down the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eviction moratorium, which [was] designed to protect millions of Americans from being thrown out of their homes during the pandemic.” From the outset of the pandemic, Koch Industries began “plowing money into real estate.” The Wall Street Journal reported in March 2021 that Koch “is emerging as a major real-estate investor during the pandemic, using its robust cash reserves to buy properties at beaten-down prices.” The Guardian noted that Koch Industries, “real estate spending spree has coincided with Koch-funded conservative groups mounting lawsuits against the federal eviction ban.”

In this case, PLF’s suit to block student loan forgiveness aligns with Koch’s economic and political interests. Economically, the less money that the government collects from people making under $125,000, the more it may ultimately require from billionaires (like Charles Koch) and profitable corporations (like Koch Industries). Politically, people who attend college tend to be more liberal than the general population. Providing meaningful student loan relief could increase their participation in future elections, potentially damaging the Republican candidates that Koch favors and spends millions to support.

This lawsuit is part of a larger effort in the right-wing universe to stoke resentment among some Americans against other Americans around student loan forgiveness. Because the more time the rest of us spend fighting with one another over our shrinking piece of the economic pie, the less time we can spend concentrating our energies on billionaires and trillionaires who steal from the rest of us so they can have yachts so large the ships have their own helipads and interior spaces to park their smaller yachts within their megayachts.

Fascist rumblings in Europe got quite a bit louder last weekend

The fascist storm clouds in Europe are becoming darker:

The election of the first woman prime minister in a country always represents a break with the past, and that is certainly a good thing,” Hillary Clinton said to an Italian journalist at the Venice International Film Festival earlier this month. She was speaking of Giorgia Meloni, a member of the Chamber of Deputies, who could make history if the Brothers of Italy party does as well as expected in Sunday’s elections.

That would be one sort of break with the past. But Meloni would also represent continuity with Italy’s darkest episode: the interwar dictatorship of Benito Mussolini. As Clinton would surely concede, this is not such a good thing.

If Meloni comes to power at the end of this month, it will be as head of a coalition whose other members—Matteo Salvini’s League and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia—were each once the main force on Italy’s populist right. Brothers of Italy, which was polling at 23 percent earlier this month, has overtaken these more established parties and would represent the bloc’s largest component.

Brothers of Italy, which Meloni has led since 2014, has an underlying and sinister familiarity. The party formed a decade ago to carry forth the spirit and legacy of the extreme right in Italy, which dates back to the Italian Social Movement (MSI), the party that formed in place of the National Fascist Party, which was banned after World War II. Now, just weeks before the 100th anniversary of the March on Rome—the October 1922 event that put Mussolini in power—Italy may have a former MSI activist for its prime minister and a government rooted in fascism. In the words of Ignazio La Russa, Meloni’s predecessor as the head of the Brothers of Italy: “We are all heirs of Il Duce.”

Putting Sec’y Clinton’s tone deaf assessment aside, this move to the right is happening in places on the continent that we might never thought could happen given what happened during World War II.

Italy’s not the biggest shock of them, at least from my personal experience. I have two close friends from Italy who now live in the U.S.

Both of these men are educated and progressive. But, in late-night meandering conversations with them — after a few strong drinks — the tenor of their politics changes from progressive to vaguely fascist, especially when the subject of immigrants is broached.

However, as writer Jen Kirby notes in this Vox article, this turn to the extreme Right is not just an Italian phenomenon:

These shifts are happening as Europe enters another precarious moment: a war on the continent that is increasingly unpredictable, and an inflation and energy crisis that will deepen as winter approaches.

The politics of Sweden, in northern Europe, and Italy, in the south, are very different, and the historical origins and reasons for the far right’s recent successes in each of those countries are unique. But, the far right shares certain trends across Europe — and, really, the globe. What is happening in Sweden, and Italy, is not all that different from what is happening in Brazil, or India, or the United States of America.

Pietro Castelli Gattinara, associate professor of political communication at Université Libre de Bruxelles and Marie Curie Fellow at Sciences Po, said that the far right is a global movement and a global ideology, even though one of the core tenets of these parties is a kind of nativism. That translates into a rejection of migration, but also of the social and cultural changes taking place within societies. The “woke” culture wars may look different in the US or Italy, but they are a feature of the modern far-right.

“New ideas coming from abroad are considered a danger to the nation-state,” Castelli Gattinara said. “We see that quite strongly when it comes to civil rights and, in particular, gender equality.”

Her entire interview with Gattinara is instructive and worrisome.

I get the impression that most of the people I know, including well-informed progressives here in the U.S., cannot be bothered to care much about what is going on in Europe right now. They think that fascist gains are temporary blips on the political radar in well-established liberal democracies. Or they think, even if fascism gains in Europe, it will not affect us here.

Which are the exact same things everyone thought in Europe and the U.S. in the 1930s.

We fight not to get rid of fascist political movements, as they will always be there lurking beneath the surface, ready to move into any voids created by economic or social turmoil. We fight to keep them from taking over while the rest of us are looking the other way, preoccupied with seemingly more pressing concerns.

fascism in italy
Fascism in Italy is making an alarming comeback.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around Ron DeSantis tricking innocent women and children into flying to Massachusetts

I’ve been going over again and again in my mind the incident involving the (mostly) Venezuelan migrants who were tricked into boarding two planes from Florida to Martha’s Vineyard.

This is from a statement read to reporters by Rachael Self, a Boston immigration attorney who is now on the island representing the migrants:

They were told there was a ‘surprise present’ for them and that there would be jobs and housing waiting for them when they arrived. This was obviously a sadistic lie. Not only did those responsible for this stunt know that there was no housing and no employment awaiting the migrants, they also very intentionally chose not to call ahead to any single office authority on Martha’s Vineyard so that even the most basic needs arrangement could be made. Ensuring that no help awaiting the migrants at all was the entire point.

They were provided with a cartoonishly simple map of Martha’s Vineyard and the United States. … And instructions to change their address with USCIS [United States Customs and Immigration Service] when they relocated. This is especially troubling as anyone with even the most basic understanding of immigration proceedings knows that USCIS was not the agency with whom the migrants would have to record their addresses. And has nothing to do wtih their cases in any way. It is clear that this was an intentional attempt to ensure that the migrants were removed in absentia when they failed to change their address with the proper agency.

This was a purposeful derailment to prevent people from complying with federal immigration policies. This is problematic because the state [of Florida] should not be interfering with federal immigration policy. Before they boarded the planes, the migrants were processed by agents of the Dept. of Homeland Security who listed falsified address on the migrants’ paperwork. Agents apparently chose random homeless shelters across the country, from Washington to Florida, ot list the migrants’ addresses, even when told by the migrants that they had no address in the U.S.

According to the paperwork provided to them, the migrants are required to check-in with the ICE office closest to the fake addresses chosen for them by DHS, or be permanently removed from the United States. With some required to check-in as early as [the Monday after they arrive on the island].

That last part bears repeating and clarification.

DHS agents put on the migrants’ paperwork random names of out-of-state homeless shelters sometimes thousands of miles away from an island in Massachusetts. Thereby making it impossible for any of them to perform the required check-in at the address DHS agents listed on their paperwork, ensuring that they would be eligible to be deported for not following the laws those DHS agents made it impossible for the migrants to follow.

I’m not as shocked as some others that this was done. After all, we know that much of federal law enforcement is riddled with MAGA types who likely believe in the white supremacist “replacement theory” that immigrants are moving to America en masse with the primary purpose of replacing white Christians as the dominant population.

Once you’ve changed migrants, in the minds of racist yahoos with badges, into what essentially amounts to enemy combatants in a war against Caucasians, the fact that you’re abusing mothers with children is the least of your concerns.

But, Ron DeSantis, man. In some important ways he is far scarier than Trump.

The Orange Menace of Mar-A-Lago is a man for whom education was a wasted effort. Trump is too stupid to fully understand the implications of what he’s doing because Trump is incapable of thinking forward to consequences that do not affect him directly.

DeSantis went to Yale undergrad and Harvard Law School. He’s smart enough to realize the ominous forces he’s unleashing in this country, and he not only doesn’t care, he’s obviously thinking of new inhumane ways to appeal to the worst elements in the Republican Party.

Meanwhile, see this article, “DeSantis gets standing ovation from GOP voters after flying migrants to Martha’s Vineyard.”

I really thought we’d have flying cars and something resembling an advanced civilization by now.

The migrants in Martha’s Vineyard.

Even in Massachusetts, Republican moderation is dying

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the Log Cabin Republicans (LCR), the organization for LGBTQ Republicans and their straight GOP allies.

The group has been around since the 1970s when it was formed to fight the Briggs Initiative in California, which would have barred gay men and lesbians from being teachers.

That referendum was defeated by the voters, thanks in large part to the fact that Republican then-Governor Ronald Reagan came out publicly against it.

It is thought that LCR did much work behind the scenes to rally opposition to Briggs among Republicans. It had to be behind the scenes because, at the time, public support for homosexuality was thought to be risky even for Democrats. For Republicans it was almost unheard of.

After the Briggs defeat, I think even a lot of LGBTQ Democrats had high hopes for LCR, which pushed the notion of being “fiscally conservative and socially liberal.”

At that time there were far greater numbers of what one might call “reasonable Republicans” who thought that the loonies of the religious Right, including former Miss America Anita Bryant, were embarrassments who were pulling the GOP away from its primary purpose of making sure corporations had as much power as was politically possible,

Of course, things did not turn out as hoped for, at least in terms of the people who ran LCR in the late ’80s and early ’90s when I first started writing about them in Boston. Back then, LCR dreamed of pulling the GOP to the center on social issues. By all means, be as right-wing as you want to be on corporatism. But, at the very least, don’t waste valuable party time on the culture wars.

I’ve been thinking about all of this because a couple of weeks ago I wrote about the GOP gubernatorial primary in Massachusetts, where a pro-Trump election denier was running against a more traditional pro-business Republican.

If there is any state in the union where Republicans could feel free to throw off the shackles of Trumpism and elect sane Republicans, it would be Massachusetts.

Everyone who thought that was wrong. Even in Massachusetts, Republican voters chose Geoff Diehl, the crazy Trump candidate.

In one sense, it is good because, while the statewide electorate in the Bay State will elect Republicans to the governorship — Bill Weld, Mitt Romney, Charlie Baker — they are not likely to choose a Trump crazy over Democrat Maura Healey.

In another sense, it is a very bad sign because in Massachusetts, arguably the home of the “reasonable” Republican, political moderation is on life support.

Mass. GOP primary winner Geoff Diehl will face Democrat Maura Healey.

Sweden, one of the world’s most progressive democracies, elects right-wing extremists to run country

More proof (if we needed any) that the ascendance of far-right politicians and crazy proto-fascists ideologies is happening around the world, and not just in the U.S.

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has conceded defeat in the country’s close-fought election, paving the way for the far-right Sweden Democrats and allied parties to attempt to form a government.

The center-left Social Democrats, led by Andersson, received 30.3% of the vote, reaffirming its position as the country’s largest party with almost all the votes counted.

However, the left-of-center parties — the Social Democrats, along with three others — failed to achieve a majority in Sweden’s 349-seat parliament, or Riksdag.

Instead, a right-wing group of parties, led by Ulf Kristersson’s center-right Moderates, looks to have won a narrow majority of seats, and will have the first go at forming an administration.

This so-called “blue bloc” includes the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats. The party, once shunned by the political establishment, recorded its best election result yet with 20.5% of the vote.

It represents a historic turning point in Swedish politics.

The Sweden Democrats now stand on the cusp of gaining influence over government policy. The nationalist party campaigned on law-and-order issues following a rise in gun violence and has vowed to bring in longer prison sentences and reduce immigration.

Sweden, a Scandinavian country of roughly 10.5 million, has a reputation for being one of Europe’s most progressive states and consistently ranks among the happiest nations in the world.

Fascism never really went away after World War II. It’s just been biding its time on the fringes until populations with short (or no) memories forget what a disaster they were last time.

I guess the days of thinking only the Americans with Donald Trump were the easy marks for the loony Right.

Combatting right-wing extremism is a never-ending process, sadly.

Right-wing fascists, who have often clashed with their fellow countrymen in Scandinavia, have slowly been gaining ground even in progressive countries such as Sweden.

If there is a hell, let’s hope Ken Starr is trapped in a brightly lit pink room for eternity with nothing to keep him company but episodes of “The View” blaring on repeat

Erik Loomis over at LGM has a nice encapsulation of the life of newly dead right-wing hit man Ken Starr who, for those of us who were around for it, will always remember for the fact that despite his academic pedigree — GW, Brown and Duke law school — he was ready to bring down a presidency because of some oral sex.

Here’s the simplest way to describe Ken Starr. When it fit his interests to talk about “morality,” he did so.

When it fit his interests to defend the greatest moral reprobates in this country, he did so.

That it was always Democrats whom Starr found morally deficient and Republicans he defended maybe isn’t so surprising.

But given his witch hunt against Bill Clinton in the 1990s that he followed by being the greatest possible supporter of admitted sexual assaulter Donald Trump just sums up so much about today’s right.

Moreover, Starr himself oversaw one of the worst sexual violence scandals in contemporary college sports, when as president of Baylor, a conservative Baptist institution, he routinely overlooked serial rape committed by players because they won football games.

He defended Jeffrey Epstein.

He defended Donald Trump.

In short, Starr’s feelings about sexual crime depended entirely on whether he liked the person who committed it.

It’s important to remember Starr because he proves the point that Republican efforts to make the United States so divided it’s ungovernable didn’t start with Marjorie Taylor Greene or Lauren Boebert and any of the current crop of GOP lead-paint chip-eaters.

The most telling difference between Ken Starrs of the world and the Sarah Palins is that the Ken Starrs are smart enough to know that they are spewing lies, but they do it anyway because they love power and don’t care how they low they have to go to get it or keep it.

Ken Starr.

Authorities in Missouri seek immediate closure of right-wing Christian ranch for boys

The Agape ranch boarding school in Missouri describes itself as “a non-profit boarding school designed to show God’s love to teen boys struggling with behavior issues that can threaten their future.”

In what surely must be starting to sound like a broken record when it comes to right-wing religious institutions which abuse children, Agape is being described by authorities in Missouri as a place so dangerous to kids it should be closed immediately:

The Missouri Attorney General and state child welfare leaders filed an amended complaint Friday afternoon, saying students must be removed from Agape Boarding School because of a long pattern of abuse.

The complaint, filed in Cedar County Circuit Court, contained additional details that the AG’s office said provided explicit evidence of systemic abuse of students at the unlicensed school near Stockton that has gone on for years.

Those new details also include allegations that Agape provided “incomplete information” to the state in recent days. And it said multiple people still working at the school are appealing their substantiated findings from the Missouri Department of Social Services that they physically abused students. State law allows the staffers to keep working while they appeal the findings.

The Kansas City Star has independently learned that Agape director Bryan Clemensen is one of those who was notified by DSS that he had a substantiated report of abuse against him. Multiple sources also said that Scott Dumar, the school’s longtime medical coordinator, also is among those appealing a substantiated DSS finding. Dumar is also one of five staff members who were charged last year with physical abuse of students.

Speaking of broken records, must anyone point out again that the reason members of the extreme religious Right see grooming sexual abusers behind every liberal curtain is because so many of the right-wingers turn out to be abusers themselves?

I should stress that many of these charges are still allegations. But it’s not every day that law enforcement officials seek the immediate closure of an established Christian boarding school, so they must feel something is terribly amiss.

If the allegations turn out to be true…well, the abuse of kids who’ve already had such tough lives must involve the worst kinds of people.

I was in foster care for the latter part of my childhood, and I had a couple of male authority figures who tried to take advantage of me at different stages of my adolescence. Fortunately, I was cynical and street smart enough to realize they were grooming me. I toyed with them by appearing as if I was falling for their ham-handed attempts to lure me through trust and deception. It was pedophile cat and mouse. Except the cat didn’t know the mouse was in control.

I should have contacted authorities, but it didn’t cross my mind at the time. I thought they were pathetic and put them out of my mind once I got rid of them by becoming angry and making it clear I knew what they were doing. Nothing chases away a pedophile faster than calling them what they are to their face.

But I also ached for the father figure I never had in my life, and I can understand how, if I were a little more naïve and trusting, those encounters could have gone south pretty quickly.

And to do these things under the guise of “God’s love”?

Horrible. Just horrible.

The web site whose members harass trans activists around the world

I hadn’t even heard of Kiwi Farms until last week, but they are some bad, bad dudes, according to this article in The Guardian by Alex Hern:

You don’t need to know much about the online hate forum Kiwi Farms. In my first draft of this newsletter, I included a full history of the site, from its days as a spinoff of the far-right message board 8chan that was dedicated to the full-time harassment of a single internet micro-celebrity, to its involvement in the Christchurch shootings and multiple targets who went on to take their own lives. I discussed the detail of whether the site has an ideology that can be pinned down: the extent to which it is far-right, white supremacist, radically transphobic – or simply nihilistic and nasty.

But you don’t actually need to know the grimy details. Suffice to say that Kiwi Farms is, like a long list of similar forums before and after it, somewhere that proudly fights for the label of “the worst place on the internet”.

Over the last year, the forum has focused on one person in particular: Twitch streamer Clara Sorrenti, who attracted its ire for using her platform to discuss the wave of anti-transgender legislation sweeping across the US. Sorrenti, who streams as Keffals, was subject to a growing wave of harassment, as Kiwi Farms coordinated takedown requests to Twitch, shared her personal information and contrived to get her “swatted”. A fake shooting threat, sent to police in London, Ontario, where she lived, led to an armed response unit being sent to her house.

Similar attacks have ended in disaster before, and Sorrenti was only arrested and held for questioning. After, she fled to a nearby hotel, and posted a picture of her cat on the bed to reassure followers that she was OK. Forum users meticulously compared the sheets in the photo with those of every single hotel in the area, finding a match through online booking sites and resuming the onslaught of harassment, sending endless pizzas to her, by name, to let her know she’d been found.

I think the tendency is to ridicule these guys — and it is always guys — as a bunch of shut-in incels living in their mothers’ basements.

But this movement has escalated from online harassment, which is bad enough. Once you start stalking someone by tracking their locations from country to country, and then sharing those details with your mentally unbalanced followers, it’s only a matter of time before someone gets killed.

If they were doing this to me, I’d be tempted to buy a gun.

Which just plays into the long-term game plan of the gun lobby, I know. (Flood the world with guns so that people feel unsafe and buy more guns.)

But I’d still might do it.

Incidentally, that previous in-depth article that Alex Hern mentions can be found here.

BTW, pity the poor company in New Zealand called Kiwi Farms, an agricultural company.

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.