In Trump’s rise, fascism and the fall of American democracy

fascism composite image of donald trump and benito mussolini
Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini came to power in 1922 on the promise he – and he alone – could make Italy great again. That message has found a new voice and success in Donald Trump.


goshawk headerAmerican democracy is not just in decline, it is in imminent danger of collapsing into fascism. An openly fascist regime is about to seize the reins of the greatest and most powerful nation the world has ever known, to the thunderous applause of Donald Trump’s cult followers – those who most benefited from the democracy his fascists will replace. Our government, “…of the people, by the people, for the people” may indeed perish from the earth.

Government in service of commerce

Since America has, heretofore, been a capitalist democracy, it is easy to confuse democracy with capitalism – which is a system where commerce and industry are controlled by private owners rather than by the government.

Capitalism can thrive under almost any political system, but it prefers fascism or similarly authoritarian permutations. To capitalists, democracy is the least hospitable form of government.

America was once the nemesis of fascist states. No more

Capitalists – spelled with a big C – loathe having to deal with a constant stream of uncertainties – taxes and worker rules and wage laws and safety demands and environmental limitations and other restrictions, and the regulatory agencies that create them.

It is much easier for capitalists to deal with an authoritarian leader who will simply order things done. Fascist goverments have had their duce, their führer, their “great helmsman,” and soon, their Trump.

Trump-style fascism is more Mussolini than Hitler

Democracy has been in startling retreat in places long identified as bulwarks of government by the people. For example, it is polling increasingly poorly in Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Australia and New Zealand. 

“Fascism conceives of the State as an absolute, in comparison with which all individuals or groups are relative, only to be conceived in their relation to the State.”
—The Doctrine of Fascism (1932)

For an inattentive population, fool’s gold

America has been drifting toward fascism  for quite a while. It only came up on the political radar for most people when the government, acting on behalf of the corporatists, started pushing glittering fools-gold images of the benefits of “privatizing” (handing ownership and control to corporations) such successful American ventures as Social Security, Medicare, the Postal Service, national parks and public lands. etc.

Will we ever again be able to trust our election process?

There certainly would be benefits, but they would all accrue to the capitalists.

The effort was greatly aided by the Supreme Court ruling that unlimited political spending (Jimmy Carter called it legalized bribery) by corporations was protected free speech. The shift of Big Media away from its First Amendment underpinnings also helped the rise of fascism as a means of protecting its own corporate interests.

Since then the conversion of American democracy to fascism has been very successful and alarmingly swift. America is about to enter its fascist phase.

How the American election of 2016 may have been stolen

An extreme crisis

The enormity of this crisis cannot be overstated.

Trump, who lost the popular election by more than 2.2 million votes,  will control the White House, our vast military and intelligence agencies, the Justice Department, the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary. The corporatists already own the Congress.

Add to these advantages a servile press and the demise of American democracy as we knew it seems all but inevitable.

If the fascist regime decides, years from now and for whatever reason, to stay in power, who will stand in the way? You do not need the 19th century German philosopher (and capitalist nemesis) Karl Marx to explain where this is likely to lead.

Suffice to say that once they are established, fascist regimes are never peacefully voted out. Do not delude yourself into thinking the wealthy and powerful will allow their privilege to be simply voted away.

Michael W.  Dominowski is the editor of Not For Hire Media

Trust Trump? In one sense of the word, it may be possible, in a useful way

trust trump image of donald trump and a meter showing his dishonesty
Can Donald Trump be trusted? In one sense of the word, yes.

Trust Trump to be the shifty, immoral, unethical creature he has shown himself to be

goshawk headerMight there be a silver lining in the dark cloud that has enveloped America with the election of [I hesitate in disgust before I write the term] Donald Trump as president? Can we, at some level, trust Trump? It’s a long shot, and a tortured stretch of the language, but perhaps we can.

For more than a year, Donald Trump has consistently shown himself to be a boorish, selfish, narcissistic clod, and an ignoramus about anything not related to burnishing his brand or increasing his personal fortune. He has spoken the language fascism, bigotry, intolerance, misogyny, violence and hatred. He undoubtedly embodies all those things.  If he truly believes his words, we have much to be concerned about.

Was the outcome of Election 2016 rigged?

But remember that for much of his life, Trump identified as a Democrat. He is an actor who relishes ad-libbing his roles and exercising his unpredictability. He is also a pathological liar whose story sometimes changes in a matter of minutes, and whose word simply cannot be trusted. So who knows what lies beneath? How he will behave in the days ahead is anybody’s guess.

Trusted by no one

Trust is a big deal if we are to have a safe and functional world. More than half of Americans who bothered to vote do not trust him.

The corporatists and big banks and the economy in general don’t trust him – even though he is a fellow tax-evader and has already promised he will free them of most regulatory constraints.

Our military leadership does not trust the draft dodger. Our international allies accurately see him as reckless, and do not trust him.  His business partners never trusted him – except the naïve ones who learned their distrust the hard way.

Former Republican New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a real billionaire, derided Trump as a con artist. He said the richest thing about Donald Trump is his hypocrisy.

Donald Trump has no one’s trust. And he trusts no one.

If indeed there is a silver lining to be found, his utter lack of moral and ethical integrity may be it.

The Cult of Trump

A good many Trump supporters were enthralled by his enthusiastic willingness to viciously insult and disparage the objects of his scorn, including his political rivals. Anybody who stood in his way, who opposed him or was seen as even a minor impediment to his success was attacked, sometimes in a Twitter storm that might go on for days.

Trump is an equal-opportunity insulter

To offer anything but adulation was to risk being caught in the stink wind of his bellow. Not even Miss Universe escaped his fulminating wrath. The louder he roared, the louder his cult-like supporters cheered, and American ideals and values be damned. His confession that he is a serial sexual predator was no deal-breaker to them.

Why should the Republican Party leaders think it will be different for them?

A Faustian bargain

Now that the party controls all three branches of government, the GOP is giddy about enacting even the most extreme reaches of its agenda unimpeded. Like the legendary Faust, the Republican Party leadership eagerly sold its collective soul to the devil and quickly vowed to work “hand in hand” with Trump – cooperation denied President Obama for the past eight years.

But Trump has never worked hand in hand with anyone in the threescore and ten years of his life, except where he saw a direct benefit to himself. Now that he’s in the proverbial catbird seat, he isn’t likely to change that pattern.

Has the GOP made a deal with the antichrist?

That’s not to say he cannot be persuaded or manipulated; quite the contrary. The self-anointed Great Dealmaker’s weaknesses are ego and greed. Any decisions he is asked to make that will aggrandize or enrich him are likely to get his full attention. Conversely, decisions and actions, no matter how urgent, that imperil those two imperatives will be ignored.

Ego, tripped: How to use Trump’s personality disorder

Would we prefer a Supreme Court that is not rabidly conservative? Do we want better treatment for our military and veterans? Do we want Social Security to continue? Or Medicare or affordable health care? Or the Postal Service? Do we want to build roads and bridges instead of a border wall? Do we favor a rational American values response to climate change, or religious and sexual-identity tolerance?  Then we must cast these issues in terms of the values Donald Trump perceives and the language he speaks.

Dangerous days

Like Frankenstein’s monster let loose upon the land, Donald Trump will, from the outset, be dangerously out of control may end up destroying the village.

How to survive an autocrat

Taking the man at his word, the coming Trump administration, is likely to do great, even grievous damage to the America we have known all of our lives. We are not speaking figuratively here. He has in his hands the capability and the power of literally destroying the country, and us as well.

Trump campaigned against lobbyists. Now he’s hiring them

Trump, who brays about defending American workers while buying everything from steel girders to campaign hats from other countries, has amply demonstrated that he is no patriot. But there is evidence, however scant, that he is also no fool.

Can we trust Trump? Yes. We can trust him to remain consistently utterly unworthy of any foolish belief that he might actually ever keep his word or choose the common good of the nation over personal gain.

That knowledge is our only tool. It isn’t much to work with, but it seems to be all we have.

Michael W. Dominowski is the editor of Not For Hire Media


Stolen: How the outcome of Election 2016 may have been rigged

elecltion 2016 image of computer hacker
Did hackers manipulate the outcome of Election 2016? We may never know.

America’s lax attitude about the integrity of our voting process puts the legitimacy of Election 2016 in doubt

goshawk headerHow could so many high-quality polls have been so universally  wrong about the outcome of Election 2016? The losers always complain, but there is something suspicious about the shocking Election 2016 upset, something that feels stolen.

The experts would have you believe that rigging a national election in the U.S.A. is nigh unto impossible. States run the elections and there are thousands of polling places. Many use different methods of voting and have slightly different ballots. They correctly point out that manipulating votes in that many places is simply not possible without being detected.

But what if that were not necessary?

Few targets, big effects

To manipulate the outcome of a presidential election, you do not have to hack a wide variety of voting machines across the country. If the software in a few populous counties in a couple of key states could be compromised, the outcome of the election could be controlled.

 Is this even plausible? In fact, it is scarily easy to do. Stealthy software attacks like the Energetic Bear and the Stuxnet hacks show such sabotage can be quite effective and can go undetected indefinitely.

Trust Trump? How to exploit his weaknesses

There are any number of scenarios of how an attack on our voting process might be accomplished. Here is one:

The keys to Election 2016 were Pennsylvania, with 20 electoral votes and Florida with 29. The winner of the state takes all the electoral votes.

A handful of the most populous counties effectively determine the outcome of the election in those states: Philadelphia surrounding counties are the key to Pennsylvania’s electoral votes, and Florida’s Gold Coast counties control that state’s electoral votes.

Both of those areas use the same sort of digital voting systems: direct-entry voting (DRE) without a voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT). With no paper trail, an accurate recount is impossible.

The equipment and the voting software used in those states are, for the most part, old and insecure.

An undetectable nudge

Let’s say a foreign government wanted to manipulate the outcome of Election 2016 to help their favorite candidate. They might do that by modifying the core vote tabulation software with some simple  coding that would continuously compare the vote totals of two candidates.

This could be accomplished by replacing the machines’ authentic source code, stored at a central location, with the malicious version. Nobody, even at the highest state level, might ever be aware of the sabotage.

The hacked software would faithfully record each vote – indicating the machine is working properly – but would tally those votes to slightly favor one candidate over another.

When the voting machines are updated, prior to being sealed and distributed to the polling places, they are prepared and calibrated with a brief test. The machine calibration process would not catch this cheating if the software did not begin skewing the votes until a larger number ballots were cast, or until the polls opened.

With the hack in place, no matter how many votes are cast (up to the number of registered voters), the favored candidate might always be, to choose a number, about one percent ahead of the rival candidate.

This is enough of a margin to assure victory, but it is probably not close enough to raise suspicion. Again, an accurate recount is impossible because there is no paper trail to compare.

Both Florida, Pennsylvania, and some others with similar voting schemes, provided surprise victories for Donald Trump. The margin of victory in each case was about one percent.

“Those who cast the votes decide nothing”

If investigators went to examine the software, they might find the malicious code had automatically deleted itself.

Russia was formally accused of actively interfering with Election 2016 – a bold intrusion tantamount to an act of war. This was a blockbuster charge. Yet we as a nation, caught in a historically divisive campaign, shrugged it off.

Remember it was Russian dictator (and Vladimir Putin idol) Josef Stalin who purportedly said “Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything.”

Did intruders ultimately succeed in rigging the outcome of Election 2016? Because of our lax national attitude toward maintaining the integrity of our voting process, we may never know.

Michael W. Dominowski is the editor of Not For Hire Media.

The scam that continues to drive Obamacare rates up

obamacare image of president pointing
Obamacare? Republicans still want to sabotage your ability to buy health insurance.


Scrapping the Affordable Care Act would return health insurance to the bad old days

goshawk headerThe annual Open Enrollment period has begun again as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) enters its fourth year. After all this time, thanks to lackluster explanations by its supporters and vigorous disinformation from the Republican-controlled Congress, it seems fewer people than ever actually understand the program. All they know is that rates are still going up, and they don’t like it.

To begin with, so-called “Obamacare” is not insurance. It is a marketplace where insurance is sold. Companies who set up stalls in that marketplace must all meet certain coverage requirements and they must sell to anyone, regardless of their current health status. You, the shopper, get to choose which plan you prefer.

Before the marketplace existed (just a few years ago) individuals found it all but impossible to buy health insurance at any price. If you had a pre-existing condition, or even if you were healthy but had a family history of, for example, cancer or heart disease, you were simply out of luck.

Premiums are free to soar

Controlling costs is not one of the ACA rules. The Republican-controlled Congress saw to that. They claimed competition alone would hold costs down. That has not worked out because, for a relatively small amount of money, young, healthy people can avoid buying insurance.

Health insurance is not about health care. It is a scheme to turn a profit by managing risk. It is a corporate bet that while some people will file claims, many others will not. If more people have insurance, the risk is spread around and the bet is likely to pay off.

Health insurance becomes a losing proposition for companies when only people likely to file claims have insurance. To maintain profitability (which is the sole reason corporations exist), insurance companies have no choice but to raise premiums.

The GOP has worked assiduously to undermine this insurance industry basic. They wanted to eliminate the coverage rules – which leveled the playing field and prevented insurance companies from using the fine print in their policies to deceive customers and deny coverage. They also wanted to make carrying insurance optional.

Together these acts of political vandalism would have destroyed the ACA. The Republicans took their recalcitrance all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court – where they lost. But they have not given up.

After scores of failed votes to repeal the law, the GOP is still vowing to try and try again.

Bribe money trumps regulations

Why do Republicans hate allowing people the freedom to buy affordable quality health insurance? Follow the money.

Unlike in most of the rest of the world, health care in the United States is a huge for-profit industry. It is controlled by Big Medicine (hospitals, physicians and other providers), Big Pharma (the drug companies) and Big Insurance.

The companies are legally allowed to spend as much money as they wish to attempt to influence (or call it what it is, bribe) Congress and government regulators, at the expense of your interests.

Complain to your Republican congressional representative if it makes you feel better. But your opinion, quite frankly, doesn’t matter to them.

On the other hand, your vote still counts.

Michael W. Dominowski is the editor of Not For Hire Media.