Fascism: As polling turns against him, Trump lays groundwork for mass violence

Rattled by poor polling numbers in his reelection bid, the alleged president of the United States is encouraging domestic terrorism. That's where we're at, and everyone from top national security experts to local emergency officials are all crystal clear on that. The New York Times reports from a bunch of 'em in a piece that can both contain remarkable factual phrases like "Mr. Trump has descended into rants about perceived enemies" and still somehow soft sell the underlying message:

The nation is preparing for violence on and after Election Day because Donald J. Trump, a fascist, is goading his supporters into that violence with rally claims that any loss on his part will be proof that his enemies cheated.

There is no possible chance that Trump doesn't know what he's doing. His tweeted calls to "LIBERATE" states from governors who imposed widespread pandemic measures resulted in a Michigan militia attempting to do exactly that. Trump is back at it even today, claiming their primary target, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, "wants to be a dictator." He is attaching the legitimacy of the state to calls for mob action—only to repeat those calls when it looks like the first versions are beginning to bear fruit.

The only reason he is not being treated as a radical, dangerous figure who has irreparably violated his own oath of office, necessitating removal, is because Republican Party leadership and lawmakers have themselves embraced and defended those violations. It is self-radicalizing; the farther Trump goes into overtly authoritarian behavior, the more pressure the party feels to defend and normalize their own support for him. The more Trump's circle has succeeded in isolating and excising state and local functionaries who express alarm at his grotesqueries, the more the party has become a homogenized group of anti-democracy, authoritarian-molded radicals themselves.

Trump has clearly been unfit for office in every respect; the impeachment investigation identified his corruption, the pandemic proved his apathetic incompetence, and his continued calls for mob justice against targeted enemies have proven (as have similar quotes repeated through the last five years) that he is not just indifferent to extralegal punishments of his enemies, but publicly fantasizes about them. If Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Mitch McConnell, Attorney General William Barr, Treasury Sec. Steve Mnuchin, Sec. of State Mike Pompeo, Rep. Mark Meadows, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. Ted Cruz, and the entire rest of the party had not all decided to ally with him for their own ideological and policy ends, he would have been removed in bipartisan fashion long ago, reduced to a historical footnote.

They didn't, and now local law enforcement officials around the country are preparing for radicals among what Trump has proudly designated his "Army" intent on disrupting Election Day, sabotaging ballot-counting measures, and committing acts of coordinated terrorism targeting his opponents. It's now expected.

Once again we're in a position where the fate of democracy rests on not just beating anti-democratic forces, but doing so in such a convincing fashion that sabotage can't alter the outcome. But now it comes with the near certainty of violence. This is Mitch McConnell's fault: Remember that. This is Lindsey Graham's fault. Mike Pence, Kellyanne Conway, William Barr. Trump's suggestions to "liberate" parts of America from small-d democratic governance would be intolerable if they believed them to be intolerable. Everything Trump does and will do has happened because they allowed it.

Astronauts, Romney making history, and more you might have missed this week

The Iowa caucus, impeachment, town halls, and Democratic debates? Did you miss anything? Did we? Check out our staff picks below.

Astronaut Christina Koch returns from her record-setting 328-day trip in space

By Walter Einenkel 

The original mission was meant to keep Koch in space for six months, but she extended her time and in so doing put herself in the history books, while giving scientists more data on how weightlessness affects the human body over time.​​​​​​

Republicans have hell to pay for torching our republic. Make. Them. Pay. NOW

By David Nir

We are disgusted, we are dismayed, we are filled with sorrow. But we are also very, very angry, and we must channel that anger. Republicans want to put our democracy to the torch, but together we can douse those flames and build anew.

Romney made history. He also changed the news cycle and the anti-GOP ads to come in 2020

By Walter Einenkel

But Romney didn't just change the story and the way the story would be told, he also changed how that story would reverberate through the 2020 election cycle. Trump, who will target Romney incessantly between now and November, will deprive himself of the talking point that it was Democrats and Democrats alone who took issue with his so-called "perfect call" and voted to convict. In addition, Democrats' discipline as a caucus which included some brave votes from Sens. Doug Jones of Alabama and Joe Manchin of West Virginia robbed Trump of declaring his acquittal was a bipartisan consensus.

No Democratic president will get Republican help—not even Bernie

By kos

But no one should take seriously the notion that Mitch McConnell would suddenly decide to play ball with him, because that’s either willful stupidity, or cynical bullshit. Neither is a good look for Sanders, Biden, or anyone else who might want to pretend.

Terrorist-in-training Chris Hasson's 13-year sentence is a signal to far-right 'lone wolf' wannabes

By David Neiwert

Court papers released to the public this week featuring some of prosecutors’ key exhibits in Hasson’s case file underscored the realities of Hasson’s interests and motivations. In interviews with prosecutors, he had acknowledged having been an active racist “skinhead” in the 1990s, but claimed to have shed his white-supremacist views by the late ‘90s and become an upstanding citizen instead.

Let us know in the comments: What stories did you read this week that stuck with you? Anything that you think flew so under the radar that we might have missed?

Looking forward to chatting with y’all below!