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October 10, 2016


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Vote Trump

Your post implicitly equalizes Trump with Hitler (based on last night's debate where he said he would appoint a Special Prosecutor look into her alleged criminal activities). Your post delivers a terrible injustice to the victims of the Nazi war crimes. I guess you are a Hillary supporter so the ends justify the means. To attack Trump because he is interested in justifiably having Clinton's conduct investigated is kind of fascist yourself. Hilary Clinton has indeed acted in sufficient manner to raise serious questions regarding her honesty and even James Comey basically said she lied. I can raise many other questions (ie Ben Gahzi, etc) but I am mindful of straying too far afield and getting sanctioned (i.e., my post will be censored - deleted). Trump said he would appoint a prosecutor there is both procedural and substantive due process involved - unlike Hitler who just threw the guy in prison. Your comparison and implicit equalization of Trump to an evil mass murdering madman is beyond the pale. Trump has every right to raise these questions and take on the narrative that has been shoved down on Americans. Have we reached such a point that anyone who questions the narrative is condemned? Will I be condemned for "daring" to dispute your implicit equalization? If so, maybe the conspiracy wackos are indeed correct.

Paul Horwitz

Eric, if I may ask a serious question without suggesting any equivalence: Let's say, in a highly unlikely hypothetical, that an actual progressive becomes a major presidential nominee, and runs in part on popular outrage that CEOs and others in big business have regularly committed crimes but evaded proper investigation and prosecution, both because of their financial power and political influence and because of the privileged position they are treated as occupying in society by a neoliberal establishment. The candidate is hotly opposed by the business community and by many in the political establishment who have benefited from its largesse, called a socialist or communist, etc. The candidate certainly occasionally mentions things like due process and so on. But his or her stump speeches make clear that if elected, criminal executives can be expected to be treated like any other criminal. At a presidential debate, the candidate is asked about opposition from a widespread segment of respectable society, and answers, "They're afraid of me because they know that under my administration, many of them will end up in jail." Is that an improper answer? If improper, is it fascist, non-fascist, or not necessarily fascist?

I ask, again, without asserting any particular claim of equivalence. On the other hand, it would help me in figuring out how much of your post is driven by a belief that the particular statement was fascistic; how much was driven by a belief that the candidate is a fascist and this is evidence of it, and how strong or weak this particular piece of evidence is; and/or how much is driven by a belief that this candidate is a fascist, with an accompanying confirmation-bias tendency to read many actions or statements as evidence of fascism.

It would also help in evaluating the principle involved here and how you might apply it in other cases: for instance, a candidate runs against Nixon in counter-factual circumstances where some of the facts of the Watergate and related controversies are out but there have been no criminal charges yet; or a candidate runs against one of the Bushes, in 1992 or 2004, and in a debate against Bush calls him a war criminal and says he will be investigated, prosecuted, and jailed for his war crimes. Would such statements be improper? If improper, would they be fascistic?

Eric Muller

Paul, a couple of things:

(1) I think there's a meaningful difference between saying that, as President, I will see to it that many bankers end up in jail, and saying that, as President, I will see to it that my adversary for the Presidency ends up in jail. (Here I am joining Trump's assertion that he'd appoint a special prosecutor to "look into" Clinton's activities and his assertion a moment later that in a Trump presidency Clinton would be "in jail.") There's a long legitimate tradition of national leaders seeing to it that lawbreakers are prosecuted and jailed, and a long illegitimate history of national leaders seeing to it that their vanquished electoral adversaries are prosecuted and jailed.

So there is nothing improper about the question you hypothesize.

(2) I believe that the examples in your third paragraph could be improper and fascistic, depending on matters of context. What was the Nixon or Bush opponent's other campaign conduct like? I think it's hard for any stand-alone statement is proof of its own fascistic nature (apart from, say, "I am a proud fascist!" or "If elected, I promise to murder all internal enemies!")

(3) My answer above suggests my answer to the thing you're wondering about in your second paragraph. My post is driven not by the first thing but by a combination of the second and third things, in a mixture whose proportions I lack the self-awareness to know. Certainly I believe, from evidence I've gathered during Trump's campaign (before which I thought him just an ostentatious reality show character), that Trump has very strong fascist leanings. My father and aunt and grandparents and mother- and father-in-law were victims of fascism, and that surely predisposes me to confirmation bias. Of course, they, as first-timers, all lacked the chance for confirmation bias and in any event thought it wise to hold their tongues until things blew over.

Gregory Dolin


So I want to follow up on Paul's question. Suppose the Watergate tapes came out in the middle of Nixon's re-election run rather than after the election. Would McGovern be justified in stating that he would appoint a special prosecutor and throw Nixon in jail if it is proven that Nixon was involved in the Watergate break-in? If so, why is the case different from Hillary's (assuming, arguendo, one believes that her use/deletion of a private server was illegal). If not, then what would make my hypothetical different from actual calls to imprison Nixon from Congressional and other Democrats when the story broke?

Eric Muller

Hi Gregory. I believe that threats to jail an opposing candidate are inherently very troubling, so I would say that of McGovern's hypothetical assertion -- that it was troubling and arose against a lengthy and sordid history of national leaders persecuting their vanquished opponents.

Whether I would deem McGovern's statement out-and-out fascistic would, as I said to Paul, depend on much more about the context than your hypothetical provides.

Gregory Dolin

Fair enough, though I guess I have to disagree. We jail politicians all the time (see, e.g., Rod Blagojevich, George Ryan, James Trafficant, Don Siegelman, Edwin Edwards, Kathleen Kane, William Jefferson, etc.). I see nothing inherently wrong with saying that crimes will be investigated and result in prison sentences if proven. This power can certainly be abused (as can all powers), but as a general matter it doesn't seem to be particularly outrageous to me.

Rick Bales

In my mind, the rule of law means both (1) that an officeholder not guilty of a crime is not prosecuted or jailed from vindictiveness or an attempt to quash political opposition; and (2) that an officeholder guilty of a crime is prosecuted and, if found guilty with all due process, jailed, because no person is above the law. It is better to err on the side of non-prosecution because prosecuting political enemies both (1) encourages those enemies to come after you when they later come to political power, thus begetting an endless cycle of prosecution and violence; and (2) encourages incumbent officeholders to hold onto office by any means available long after their electoral mandate has expired, for fear of prosecution and imprisonment. What I find most troubling about Trump's calls to jail HRC is that he appears to be doing so without any understanding of what due process means or of the long-term damage that could be done to our democracy by going casually down this road.

Matthew Reid Krell

I would say there's an important distinction between "I will appoint a special prosecutor," which, while a bold choice, isn't inconsistent with due process; and "You would be in jail," which is deeply dangerous and implies some fascistic tendencies.

Gregory Dolin

I think that without defending Trump in any other way, in context, "you would be in jail" is best read as "any fair-minded prosecutor would file charges, and no reasonable jury would acquit." Again, it doesn't mean that people have to agree with the predicates for this conclusion, but I don't think that this was a threat to throw her in jail over political differences.

Eric Muller

Which are the moments in the campaign (indeed, in Trump's life) that lead you to assume that with these words he meant the least threatening and disturbing thing?

Gregory Dolin

I think the context of that quote. What came before it and what the discussion was about.

Vote Trump

Eric, your last comment can be turned around. What moments can you point to that would make you assume the worst. I think Gregory's narrative is absolutely correct. If the evidence warrants, an indictment would follow and jail time is possible if the evidence supports the complaint. What the Trump bashers fail to take into account is that many of us see what is going on and know if it does not stop he country will be seriously imperiled. When the perception (let alone truth) that certain people are above the law gains too many adherents, we, as a society are in real trouble. Why did the FBI fail to follow up? Chaffetz's cross of Comey was telling - he essentially admitted Hillary was less than truthful to put it mildly. The American people want to know why she is being allowed to catch a break. The perception of a double standard is reaching a critical mass. Again, why do you assume the worst of Trump. What exactly makes you think he would not appoint a Special Prosecutor?

Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King

I read that and hear last night and I just say, thank G-d for our Judges.

Eric Muller

It is my policy not to respond to anonymous commenters.

terry malloy

"why do you assume the worst of Trump."

The authoritarianism, racism, casual sexual assault talk, and general buffoonery sure help. Further, the continued talk about 'the blacks' and the 'inner cities' as a dog-whistle to whites is such a transparent ruse. He's a poor person's idea of a rich person, and the difference between him and Paris Hilton is one of degree and not of kind. that's why. His plan is to make america great with the taxes that other (dumb) people pay. . . I feel like I'm taking crazy pills.

This is the beginning of the end of the republic.


Terry concludes his comment in a way that suggests that Hillary will lose.

Or, while engaging in his self righteous, holier than thou ranting, is he actually thinking about her impending, nearly assured victory?

One thing for sure: this sort of comment is particularly apt in response to the original post. The author claims his moral and intellectual superiority and authority with respect to nearly every issue he discusses, and reacts with almost epic anger and disgust at even the slightest hint of disagreement with his often extreme expressions of hostility.

In other words, just the sort of "role model" they were speaking of last night.

Yes, the haters on all sides are doing themselves proud this time. And, for that reason, I would agree with terry.

Patrick S. O'Donnell

Helpful analysis here (I'm one of those who think Trump, and more than a few of his supporters, are neo-fascists):

Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King

Let us suppose that Trump wins after the 14th recount in Ohio. Attorney General Giuliana empanels a Grand Jury to indict Hillary. A True Bill is handed down. At pre-trial, the AUSA files a Motion In Liminie barring any references to Trump's debate jail threats as irrelevant. Motion denied? Granted?

Enrique Guerra-Pujol

Ha! I still remember when Erwin Chemerinsky, Paul Krugman, and others luminaries called George Bush the Younger (or "Bushito" as we Cubans like to say) a "war criminal" and vigorously called for his prosecution. The shoe appears to be on the other foot now.

Cent Rieker

What makes me think the worst of Trump? That there is a chance he would ignore the Special Prosecutor in the event he or she found no wrong-doing of hers. What do I base this on? His insistence, two days before the second Presidential debate, of the continued incarceration of the exonerated Central Park 5 because even if DNA evidence contradicts Trump's opinion they were still guilty of committing the crime of ...

But yeah there are "haters on all sides" (I'll actually admit to being one), and no conspiracy wackos exist among Trump supporters. Nope, none at all.

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