Today in Creeping Authoritarianism

Donald Trump spent the weekend using his personal Twitter publicly trying to undermine the judiciary, because he doesn't like that judges have, quite rightly, put a stop to his unconstitutional Muslim ban.

Across a series of six tweets over two days, he wrote: "The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned! What is our country coming to when a judge can halt a Homeland Security travel ban and anyone, even with bad intentions, can come into U.S.? Because the ban was lifted by a judge, many very bad and dangerous people may be pouring into our country. A terrible decision. The judge opens up our country to potential terrorists and others that do not have our best interests at heart. Bad people are very happy! Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad! I have instructed Homeland Security to check people coming into our country VERY CAREFULLY. The courts are making the job very difficult!"

He has utter contempt for the rule of law. He does not respect checks and balances. He is dangerously indifferent to putting a target on any judge's back by publicly lambasting his or her decision and saying they should be "blamed" for doing their job.

And, as with every other tyrannical move he makes, this was eminently predictable, given his attack on Judge Curiel during the campaign.

Meanwhile, Vice-President Mike Pence—who, as I've been saying, is just as authoritarian as Trump—defended Trump's tirade against the judiciary, saying: "The president of the United States has every right to criticize the other two branches of government." As if what Trump did was merely "criticism."

This morning, Trump pivoted from an attack on the judiciary to an(other) attack on the media, saying across two tweets: "Any negative polls are fake news, just like the CNN, ABC, NBC polls in the election. Sorry, people want border security and extreme vetting. I call my own shots, largely based on an accumulation of data, and everyone knows it. Some FAKE NEWS media, in order to marginalize, lies!"

He has utter contempt for the role of the press. He does not respect the need for transparency and accountability. He regards the press as his opposition and actively encourages his supporters to be misinformed.

This, too, was a feature of his presidential campaign.

Also note: He is proclaiming what "people want," and saying that what they want is increased militarization and policy rooted in bigotry. This is another indication of an authoritarian: Using "the people's will" to justify oppressive, anti-democratic policy.

This is all deeply troubling.

And I feel extremely angry that the media—and, frankly, lots of progressives—treated Trump like a bit of fun entertainment for a year-and-a-half, while treating everyone who was raising giant red flags about this guy like hysterical lunatics, and now have the unmitigated fucking temerity to regard his assault on this nation's democratic institutions as a surprise.

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