Saturday, November 8, 2014

“The Rise of Pseudo-Fascism" revisited

"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross," as Sinclair Lewis did not say. Or "wrapped up in the American flag and heralded as a plea for liberty and preservation of the constitution." Or even, "it will not be labeled 'made in Germany;' it will not be marked with a swastika; it will not even be called fascism; it will be called, of course, 'Americanism.'"

David Neiwert, in his 2004 essay The Rise of Pseudo-Fascism, commented that this was not quite full fascism. yet: it was not openly revolutionary, not yet a dictatorship, did not yet rely on physical violence and gross intimidation, and that American democracy was not yet in the genuine crisis that the real thing requires. In the past election, we have had the openly revolutionary Joni Ernst elected to the Senate, we have the intimidating "open carry" firearms movement and government workers being shot in Utah, and we have multiple economic and constitutional crises. We are not a dictatorship yet, but we are very close, with Ted Cruz and Rand Paul vying for the iron scepter.

On the past election, Neiwert comments, “the mainstream press continues to treat this radicalization as normative politics.” We're almost there, and only the lefties like me seem to notice.

It’s not about racism…

(A short and bitter croak.)

…it’s about ethics in…

I think that’s the final word on what US conservatism has become. All the talk of independence, of responsibility, is in the end a cover for racism, sexism, and classism. Obama is conservative in every way but bigotry, and the reaction to Obama’s Presidency he has shown us is that, in the end, what calls itself conservatism is not about all its fine ideals, which just about everyone believes; in the end it is simply well-dressed authoritarianism. That’s the engine, that’s the drive wheel. Modern US conservatives are supremacists, that’s all: people who can’t live in a world in which all are equal.

Wotta revoltin' development.

(I know, I know, there's people who've been saying that all along. But I had hopes that conservatives might actually believe their high ideals. And in fact, some do. Those conservatives are no longer Republicans and are saying things like "my party left me.")

Taney Court II: the ACA and Marriage

The Roberts Court has taken a gay marriage case and an ACA case. The only reason anyone can see that they have taken the ACA case is to further chip away at the law.

I think the way this will works out is that the Taney Roberts Court renders decisions that allow states to opt out of the ACA and out of any constitutional requirement to acknowledge gay marriages made in other states. This "states rights" view is a plunge into antebellum law, and the conservative justices will probably have to revive pre-Civil War precedents to justify it; they may also revive the legal basis for racial segregation in doing so.

In the long term, I cannot imagine how the USA can survive with an early 19th-cenutry legal system. The antebellum system dissolved into civil war; I do not think the republic will fare any better under the legal regime the Roberts Court is creating.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Short Electoral Note: Peace, Prosperity, and Weed

Well, that was unpleasant. The Democrats not only lost the Senate, the votes went much more heavily against the Democratic Senatorial candidates than anyone expected.

There's a lot of discussion of how and why, and most of it focuses on messaging and propaganda. Both of these are real problems. David Neiwert comments, "I would be remiss in not pointing out one of the key dynamics that has been at play for some years, and really became a significant factor last night: Our failure to take right-wing extremism seriously." An excellent point, and one that has borne repeating for years now. Jim Wright points out that Democratic Senatorial candidates ran away from Obama, which was shameful and disloyal, and probably made their losses worse.

The last time the Republicans were in power, they started a war in Iraq, paid for it by borrowing money, further expanded the deficit by cutting taxes for the rich, and left us arguing that, no, torture is a Really Bad Idea. The Republicans have a history of doing their worst when they get the opportunity, and they're in a good position to do it now.

But I'd like to look back at something else. A while back, I wrote "To win the next election you have to deliver. Obama didn’t deliver on jobs, housing, and banking, and it’s pretty hard to message that away" and also "Faced with an election that is the crystallized result of essence of policy failure, Obama decides that he…sent the wrong message."

No, you idiots. You didn't send the wrong message. You bailed out the bankers and not the public. You let people be thrown out of their homes through rampant fraud. Six years after the crash, people are still out of work and you bargained away the unemployment insurance extension. Salaries have gone down. Most of us have gone through our savings and you have done nothing to help. Oh, you did create the Consumer Financial Protection Board, but this is a tiny bandage on a great gaping wound. And you did pass the Affordable Care Act, which at least means we can get medical care—in some states—while we're broke and wondering how to pay the rent. But these are nowhere near enough when set against the disaster of the past six years. And you have the gall to ask for our votes? Why would anyone vote for the party that did that?

Well, there is one reason. The Republicans are worse, lots worse. But, "Vote for us, we're not totally insane right-wing fanatics" is not much of a campaign slogan.

And, finally, that is why the Democrats are not popular. People have decided that "society" is not working for them, and they are trying to leave. Isn't that what the Tea Party Republicans are about? But that trick never works. There is no place to go, and there are people are all too ready to promise to take you there, but instead lead you into madness.

So what might the Democrats (or some new party) deliver on? The economy, obviously. There's infrastructure work to be done. The government could hire people to do it. There's hungry people who need to be fed, and homeless people to be housed. And ending the drug war would improve our lives.

As to the Republicans…they threw away the opportunity for a generation of peace and prosperity to fight pointless wars and line the pockets of the rich. They may yet drown human civilization.

But, "Vote for us, we bring peace, prosperity, and weed" — that just might go somewhere.

Added Nov 8: I see that Linkins and Carter over at the HuffPo have independently drawn similar but much more detailed conclusions about Obama's economic policies.

(Updated the day after the original posting; "houses" changed to "homes," bible quotes removed, and a bit about the modest achievements of the Democrats added.)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Where To Phone Bank: Keeping the Senate Democratic

They need people to make calls, and you can do it from anywhere in the USA. Fight! Fight! Fight!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

On Cutting the Deficit in a Depression II

(The original version of this was ambiguous. This is the new! improved! version.)

When you're near-broke, and having money problems, do you pay your rent or pay down your credit card debt?

It's almost that simple.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Keeping in the vote

I wonder if Ebola is being kept in the news partly to distract the public from the election.
With lower voter attention comes lower turnout – and evidently, lower certainty about which voters will show up to vote. Other distractions take away from the important issue of Joni Ernst’s desire to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency…hey, pay attention, I’m talking to you! Ebola Ebola Ebola! There, now you’re back. Thank you."—Sam Wang, Princeton Election Consortium