SYNDICATED COLUMN: Trump’s Fascism Picks Up Where Obama’s Leaves Off

Related imageDonald Trump wants to deport three million illegal immigrants, and he’s willing to split up families to do it. Expect resistance: street protests, networks of safe houses, American citizens willing to risk prison to hide undocumented workers.

Barack Obama deported two million — more than any other president. Thousands of kids lost their parents. Yet demonstrations were few. Anglo solidarity was nowhere to be found. Same action, different reaction. Why? As we’ve seen under Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, progressives go to sleep when Democrats are in the White House.

Trump will be deplorable. But as the unrest that followed his victory signals, he’ll have a salutary effect on American politics: Liberals will resist the same fascist horrors for which they’ve been making excuses under Obama (and would have continued to tolerate under Hillary Clinton).

Ironically, their struggle will be made all the more challenging due to the fascist moves promulgated by Barack Obama, a president revered by liberals — but whose administration has been characterized by a stream of fascist policies.

Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA and other government agencies are spying on all of our communications: phone calls, email, texts, video, even snail mail. But the fiercest reactions came from people outside the U.S. It was 2013 and Obama was president. For the most part liberals — the political faction you’d expect to raise hell — trusted their charming first black president not to abuse his powers.

Trump will inherit Obama’s Orwellian surveillance apparatus. During the campaign, he said “I wish I had that power.”

When Obama took over from Bush in 2009, he issued a symbolic denunciation of the torture his predecessor had legitimized and institutionalized. In practice, however, nothing changed. Sending a clear message that he approved of their actions, Obama ordered his Justice Department not to prosecute anyone for waterboarding or other “enhanced interrogation techniques,” saying infamously that it was time to “look forward, as opposed to looking backwards.” He went to Langley to tell CIA agents he’d watch their backs. He refused to issue a presidential executive order banning torture by the CIA.

Trump will take over that bureaucratic infrastructure of torture, including the legal opinions issued by Bush’s White House counsel that Obama failed to annul. During the campaign, Trump pledged to bring back waterboarding and “a hell of a lot worse,” whatever that means.

Upon taking office Obama tepidly attempted to follow up on his campaign promise to close Guantánamo concentration camp. But he caved in the face of congressional opposition. Though Obama has managed to winnow down the number of inmates in America’s Cuban gulag to double digits, his lackadaisical unwillingness to expend political capital on the issue has left the camp open. It has also legitimized the formerly unthinkable practice of holding prisoners indefinitely without charging them with a crime or putting them on trial.

Trump says he’ll keep the camp open, expand it, and “load it up with some bad dudes,” including American citizens whose politics he doesn’t care for.

Part of the justification given for indefinite detention is the Bush-era Military Commissions Act of 2006, which eliminated the right of habeas corpus, the right to a speedy and fair trial enshrined in Anglo-American law for eight centuries. Under the MCA, the U.S. government can throw you into a concentration camp where you’ll never see your family or a lawyer. As far as we know, Obama never availed himself of this power.

Do you trust Trump to exercise similar restraint? Thanks to Obama’s failure to get rid of the MCA, Trump may make good on his promise to disappear U.S. citizens.

Obama has vastly expanded Bush’s program of drone assassinations of political opponents to nasty American client states like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia. His Tuesday “kill list” star chamber has issued hits against thousands of people; 98% of the victims have been hapless bystanders.

Could President Trump deploy drones against American citizens (or non-citizens) on American soil? Yes, he could, says Obama’s attorney general Eric Holder. Obama could have declared that he — and future presidents — did not have that power. Better still, he could have asked Congress to pass a law banning domestic drone killings. Instead, he went golfing.

From what we know of Trump’s likely cabinet appointments, the next few years promise to devolve into a dystopian nightmare of authoritarian repression the likes of which few Americans ever imagined possible. As we head into the maelstrom, it will be tempting to look back fondly upon the Obama years as a period of relative calm and liberalism.

But don’t forget the truth. Fascism under Trump will merely continue Obama’s fascism with a smiley face — a fascism that we let him get away with for far too long.

(Ted Rall is author of “Trump: A Graphic Biography,” an examination of the life of the Republican presidential nominee in comics form. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)


  • > progressives go to sleep when Democrats are in the White House.

    True, dat. It’s a fine old American tradition – practiced by both parties. What do you think would happen to Hair Furor if the Senate investigated his real estate deals and sexual misconduct as thoroughly as they did Bill’s?

    > It has also legitimized the formerly unthinkable practice of holding prisoners indefinitely without charging them with a crime or putting them on trial.

    ‘legitimized’ is a rather strong word here. It ain’t legit & it ain’t legal – just nobody’s bothered to enforce it.

    • To CrazyH:
      Re: Indefinite detention > ” ‘legitimized’ is a rather strong word here. It ain’t legit & it ain’t legal ”

      You need to familiarize yourself with the 2012 NDAA, which authorizes “the indefinite military detention of persons the government suspects of involvement in terrorism, including U.S. citizens arrested on American soil.”

      • It’s still a violation of Constitutional law, which is supposed to be the supreme law of the land.

      • Every sensible American understands that the literal Constitution is an 18th century document that leaves the US totally unprotected against a terrorist attack by a goatherd with a cruel crook and a sinister staff who would impose Sharia Law, close all the churches, and make us all queue for goat meat.

        We must use a reasonable interpretation ot the Constitution: ‘torture’ is the infliction of pain by evildoers against agents of the American government, and carries the death penalty; however, it is obvious that, when the Greatest Force for Good uses the bastinado, thumbscrews, Chinese Water Interrogation, or electrodes to the genitals against evil goatherds, that is NOT torture, just a necessary technique to keep Americans safe.

        Likewise, the US president MUST be able to order anyone killed, any time, for any reason or for no reason, since tying the president’s hands in any way is just surrendering to the terrorists.

        And that’s what sensible Americans keep voting for.

      • It should be remembered that the «Law» is what the judges say it is – just ask John Marshall. He who appoints the judges, determines the Law. An enticing prospect, n’est-ce pas ?…


      • Oh, I’m well aware that the current Supreme Court “Justices” take liberties with the founder’s intent, so too the “constitutional scholar” currently occupying the oval office.

        The best was Scalia, who claimed to believe in originalism – but his definition was that the Constitution should be misinterpreted in the same manner as an 18th century man in the street would have misinterpreted it.

        I do wonder about the ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ though. Flogging and stockades were common in colonial times; even burning at the stake wasn’t unheard-of. What would a non-cruel punishment look like? Soft cushions and the comfy chair perhaps? (Monty Python theme playing in the background…)

      • We should bring back stockades in our shameless society.

  • alex_the_tired
    November 17, 2016 5:22 PM

    I put it to you all that “liberal” no longer means what it used to mean.
    The modern “liberal” is the person who’s all for recycling, but still takes vacations by airplane and has a car. “I do my part,” they insist. The truth is, recycling is simply busy work designed specifically to let everyone think they’re “doing good.”
    Every “liberal” I know says they are opposed to slavery. And they all have smartphones, which can’t be made without slavery–can’t. They all have investment portfolios that, one way or another, draw upon slave labor because, honey, you can’t have capitalism without it. And whether it’s some poor bastard in a hong in China or India or someone in an office right here in the good old U.S. of A. who is waiting for the next round of layoffs to send him or her into a long drop out of the bottom edge of the middle class and into the slow agony of forced retirement at 53 and all the indignities that will follow, capitalism requires human misery, stagnant wages and a perpetual sense of helplessness.
    And the “liberals” are fine with it.
    They want cheap gas, cheap food, cheap goods. They worked hard (as opposed to the rest of us who just had it all handed to us) and they aren’t going to give up a dime of their salaries, and God help the hedge fund manager who doesn’t turn in the best return on investment, because those “liberals” will be the first ones screaming for that manager’s balls on a plate.

      • Love me, I’m a liberal, updated:

      • «We should bring back stockades [sic !] in our shameless society.» Indeed, in the event that «Jack Heart» by «stockades» here refers to the stocks. Of course, it would then be necessary to determine what crimes should be punished by a session in the stocks, duration of punishment, whether any public that gathers should be allowed to cast things at the detained, etc, etc, but given the plethora of lawyers to be found in the US, I’m certain these issues can be resolved….

        For their consideration, I should like to here tender a modest proposal (I presume – perhaps erroneously – many of these lawyers are habitués of Ted’s commentary threads) : those who post asinine remarks on these threads should be punished with the stocks for a duration, on first conviction, of one hour and that the public not be allowed to throw things. Penalties could, of course, be made successively more severe for recidivists…. 😉


    • Suggested reading: Bobos in Paradise

  • If Obama is so fascist, then why don’t fascists support him?

    • I give up.

      Why not?

    • I think you have expressed white power sympathies here, Jack.

      Please correct me if I am mistaken, but you seem to be more in tune with fascist sentiment, as to what they like and don’t like, than any other poster here..

      I assume you and self-identified fascists both reject the fascism of Obama as lacking in the racial and cultural purity elements.

      • «Love me, I’m a liberal, updated: …» Alas, Glenn, I seem to have grown older, but no wiser – thank you for the link ; I loved Mr Grosscup’s song !…


      • Glenn,

        If recognizing that multiculturalism and diversity are only pushing on white countries and therefore only are about less white people counts as “white power sympathies,” sure.

        What confuses me about contemporary National Socialists (and you can see I do my opposition research because here I am), is that they don’t know how terrible Nazis were economically. Or that they allied with big industry and other factions of the old guard. Today, National Socialists rail (much as you all do) about the “commodization” of people by the capitalist machine. And how the big banks are the ultimate enemy.

        Indeed, one of the only positive aspects of fascism is love of country, culture, and heritage. Since Obama despises those with every fiber of his being, he fails to qualify as fascist. Or as right wing. Sure he’s lawless and authoritarian, but that’s true of many political persuasions. And he is firmly on the Left of the culture wars…

      • But right should be right (not alt-right !) ; a link to Phil Och’s great original should also be provided….


    • Why don’t fascists support him? Some do. See, Obama is “liberal.” And like a lot of liberals, he’s great at talking up a good game. He has all the buzzwords. Better schools, safer neighborhoods, etc. Where do his daughters go to sch– excuse me, a hive of angry liberals are screaming at me. “How dare you bring his family into this? Not cool. Unacceptable. See, we didn’t elect a king. tl;dr”

      Okay, I’ll swing over to prisons. Wait. Hang on. The liberal hive is going into meltdown. Apparently I’m a racist for bringing this up because I’m trying to frame the issue as black man equals jail. I’m trying to respond but they came into this with their minds made up and trying to point out details they haven’t considered … well, now they’re saying I’m being condescending. They, apparently, understand everything. I’m the one who doesn’t get it.

      Hmm. How about I bring up those trade agreements? Nope. Nope. Can’t do that either.

      See? That’s why the smart fascists (and some of them are quite smart) support him. Barack Obama was a pretty ineffective president. Sorry folks. I realize the liberals are flatlining right now, but them’s the facts. Every SINGLE thing he did was either a compromise, a flatout sell out or a short-term stunt.

      The banks? Didn’t Finland let their banks fail. And their economy recovered first of all the European ones, didn’t it? Here’s the entire list of what U.S. bankers went to prison:

      I’d list all the millions of people who lost everything as a result of the economy collapsing, but that would take a long time to type.

      The auto industry? How long does anyone think that’s going to be a thing? In 10 years, I suspect people will simply order their car online, it will be printed at a factory and self-deliver to your home.

      Obamacare? Jesus Christ. Canada has healthcare. Is it secret knowledge? Would the Canadians not share their system’s framework with us? Is it a language barrier? Obamacare was simply a new way for the pharma/health industry to remain FOR-PROFIT. Follow the path of the money. It starts in your pockets and ends up in offshore bank accounts of private companies. Just like before. Only, with Obamacare, the government steps in to make sure everyone is FORCED to have insurance (thus helping the pharma/health industry make even MORE money).

      Smart fascists know to give Obama enough grief to make it look like he’s really on the little guy’s side. Maybe even Obama thinks he is. But come on. I didn’t even bring up how the Obama administration went after all those whistleblowers. I didn’t even mention how Chelsea Manning is rotting away in solitary, her mind so completely screwed up that she’s tried to kill herself twice. Did I mention that no banker did a day in prison?

      Obama’s like Christmas every Thursday for the fascists. He distracts a huge section of the mob from being outraged because they cannot comprehend that a black man can be just as morally bankrupt as a white man.

      • Good points, Alex.

      • «Didn’t Finland let their banks fail.» I suspect you’re thinking of Iceland (which hardly had a choice, as the major Icelandic banks had debts which greatly exceeded the GDP of that little (population 300 000+) island country in the North Atlantic) here, Alex. Otherwise, you, like falco above, make some excellent points. Let me add one for your consideration — during his eight years, Mr Obama concentrated on the enemy without – aside from peoples in Southwest and Central Asia, who could be droned with impunity, those dastardly Russians and Chinese, who required more strategic measures , while Mr Trump, at least initially, seems poised to concentrate on the enemy within, i e, Mexicans, Muslims, Blacks, etc, etc. What happens thereafter I’m not qualified to prophesy….


      • Thanks Henri. I knew it wasn’t Finland, but I couldn’t get past that brainfart that kept me saying the knew-it’s-wrong answer anyway. Iceland.

  • Ted, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you are unknowingly peddling the Obama deportation myth rather than lying. The government changed the definition of deportation. You know, much as it changed the definition of the CPI or the unemployment rate.

    • I re-read the LA Times article. The definition of ‘deportation’ did not change, but deportation is a technical, legal term. Clinton removed far more Hispanics than Obama, but did it in ways that were not technically deportations. Bush, jr began using formal deportation much more than his predecessors at some point during his two terms (the article didn’t say exactly when), and Obama continued to use the technical deportation for a much higher percentage of removals than Clinton, so Obama deported more while Clinton removed more.

      AFAIK, the total number of Hispanics removed and deported by Bush, jr was fewer than the total removed and deported by Clinton or Obama.

      Democrats talk a good game about respecting the rights of undocumented Hispanics and not rigorously deporting and removing them, but do not follow through.

      Republicans promise to rid the US of all undocumented Hispanics, but do not follow through

      • As usual, the GOP can’t walk their talk. A lot of those undocumented Hispanics are migratory farm workers. You know, they work at those “family farms” the GOP is famous for defending.

        Can you get an All American to work there instead? Not at the wages they pay, especially considering it’s seasonal work. The AA can get a year-round job at McDonald’s that pays better.

        The “family farm” would have to start paying much more for their labor, and the price of produce would skyrocket. (Unless, of course, we could increase those socialist farm subsidies…)

      • That frankly is not intellectually honest. Turning people away at the border is not the same as deporting illegal aliens that have been living farther into the country.

      • «Democrats talk a good game about respecting the rights of undocumented Hispanics and not rigorously deporting and removing them, but do not follow through.

        Republicans promise to rid the US of all undocumented Hispanics, but do not follow through»

        Politics in the «indispensable nation», the shining city on a hill that is a model to the benighted remainder of the world….


  • The 14 characteristics of the WWII era fascist societies:
    by Laurence W. Britt

    Free Inquiry Magazine, Volume 23, Number 2 (Spring 2003) (pay wall)

    1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism. 

    2. Disdain for the importance of human rights. 

    3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause. 

    4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism. 

    5. Rampant sexism. 

    6. A controlled mass media. 

    7. Obsession with national security. 

    8. Religion and ruling elite tied together.
    9. Power of corporations protected. 

    10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated. 

    11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts. 

    12. Obsession with crime and punishment.
13. Rampant cronyism and corruption. 

    14. Fraudulent elections.

    Britt’s 14 characteristics of fascist societies appears to be an all too succinct description of the USofA, well before Herr Hair hit the scene to exploit it.

  • “SYNDICATED COLUMN: Trump’s Fascism Picks Up Where Obama’s Leaves Off”

    Yeah, but T-rump will have quite a difficult time surpassing the current standard.


    • «Yeah, but T-rump will have quite a difficult time surpassing the current standard.» No problem at all, DanD ; Mr Trump will simply refuse to pardon the Thanksgiving turkey, instead wringing its scrawny neck before the TV cameras….