“You weren’t even listening, were you?” said my friend.

“Well, that’s a strange way to start a conversation,” I replied.

(The above is not original with me.  Another I’ve always loved — my parents kept it on prominent display when I was growing up — “Shut Up, He Explained.”)

John Zussman: “I enjoyed your Independence Day post, which seemed perfectly calibrated for a relaxing, reflective summer holiday.  Great idea to recommend The Princess Bride for those who haven’t seen it, but did you know the book (written years earlier) is even better?  See why I think so here.  As for a health movie, try Forks Over Knives, which you can stream on Netflix.  I wish you a happy Fourth. May democracy survive.”

Bob Stromberg:  “Thank you for saying Trump is a fascist in your July 5 post, linking to a description of Laurence Britt’s 2003 article.  Just a small couple of points: Mr. Britt’s first name is spelled with a “u” not a “w” and he is not a “Dr.” (he told me this in an email).  Link to the original article instead? “Fascism Anyone?

→ Yes!  The same 14 characteristics . . . for all of which, it seems to me, Trump tests positive.  Written in 2003, no less, so not some specifically anti-Trump construct.  The article concludes:

Does any of this ring alarm bells? Of course not. After all, this is America, officially a democracy with the rule of law, a constitution, a free press, honest elections, and a well-informed public constantly being put on guard against evils. Historical comparisons like these are just exercises in verbal gymnastics. Maybe, maybe not.

Jim Burt:  “Experience tells us that Republicans have been willing – nay, eager – to characterize as ‘socialist’ any person or program which tries to do anything positive for anyone but the wealthiest Americans.  This has been a characteristic of their rhetoric for at least a century.  By contrast, Democrats have not used comparable language to describe Republicans and Republican policies, though they could have if real communists and socialists had not preempted the term ‘fascist’ by using it to describe anyone who disagreed with them.  It’s a shame that we’ve been deprived of useful words by their misuse.  To make the correct understandings of these terms clear, resort to a dictionary might be useful:

  • Socialism is defined as “a political theory advocating state ownership of industry.” Also, “an economic system based on state ownership of capital.” This doesn’t describe any Democratic candidate, though independent Bernie Sanders, masquerading as a Democrat for the duration of the primary season, comes closest.
  • Fascism is defined as “a political theory advocating an authoritarian hierarchial government (as opposed to democracy or liberalism).”  Hmm.  Who does this sound like?  A more complete understanding of fascism can be gathered from Laurence Britt’s 14 Characteristics of Fascism.
  • Liberalism is defined as “a political orientation that favors social progress by reform and changing laws rather than by revolution.” Also, “an economic theory advocating free competition and a self-regulating market.”
  • Democracy is defined as “the political orientation of those who favor government by the people or by their elected representatives.” Also, “a political system in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who can elect people to represent them.” Also, “the doctrine that the numerical majority of an organized group can make decisions binding on the whole group.”
  • Social democracy is a political, social and economic philosophy that supports economic and social interventions to promote social justice within the framework of a liberal democratic polity and a capitalist mixed economy.  Social democracy has also been defined as a democratic welfare state that incorporates both capitalist and socialist practices

“We could, with perfect accuracy, describe Trump as ‘fascist’.  Unfortunately, the media would clutch their pearls and faint if we did that, so I think we should just call ourselves liberal Democrats and refer the media to the dictionaries for the rest.”



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