Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Fascists gotta fash

Over on Twitter, I see surprise among the health care policy set that the Republicans are just trying to jam an appalling health care bill through without so much as thought as to who it will affect. But why, after all? This is what the Republicans have been working up to for 20 years. They're an authoritarian fascist party now. Brutally mistreating citizens and ignoring law is what they want to do.

Remember this: they're fascists and must be opposed.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Cold Civil War

That's what I'm going to be calling the current internal conflicts of the USA. It's not just disagreement; we have factions which actually want to see people dead.

(There may be more to say about this. But I'm not sure what, and I want to get this out.)

Monday, September 4, 2017

To a Trump Supporter Who Calls Himself Christian

(I decided not to post this in Facebook comments, but liked it enough to save for this blog.)
You are part of a long line of people who wish to rewrite not only the law but historical fact itself to make it support you. To deal with some of your historical claims:
  1. Fred Clark reminds us that most US Protestants did not believe abortion was murder 40 years ago; this "biblical" "truth" is literally newer than the McDonald's Happy Meal. (It is also not in the Bible.) It was largely a belief of Roman Catholics, widely despised by the more radical Protestants. This was made into a widespread belief through extensive propaganda in the 1980s, and this was done because racism had lost much of its power.
  2. Somehow the Supreme Court did not find an unlimited firearms license in the Second Amendment for 200 years.
  3. The Constitution never was Christian. "Nature's God" in the Declaration of Independence refers to the distant Creator of Deists, nothing like the interventionist God your kind of Christianity believes in. The Constitution is deliberately non-religious.
None of the historical claims you make in support of your views are grounded in fact. Trump is a racist, probably a rapist, and a man with a long history of not paying his debts, which the Bible anathematizes. Against this, Hillary Clinton is a devout Christian and practices the Christian virtues, staying with her philandering husband despite his offenses against her and resolving their conflicts. If you were looking for a good Christian candidate, your side could have done much worse than to support her
  And, finally, don't you worry about the state of your own soul? In the Gospels, Jesus condemned pious hypocrisy in the strongest terms multiple times. As a public Christian you must know your views are considered hypocritical by others who profess Christianity. I suppose, in your view, they are the hypocrites and apostates. But have you considered the possibility that you might be wrong?

Save the Democrats!

(Long term thinking on US party politics. In the short term we must come together and resist.)

Jim Wright complains that the Democrats are not unifying. I think the place to look for reasons is where the Democratic leadership stands. With the Republican turn to right-wing extremism, both conservatives and liberals have joined the Democrats, leaving the party with a conservative wing and a liberal wing, and if they satisfy one, they cannot satisfy the other. This results in a party which cannot articulate a vision which will energize voters.

"The left" is not – cannot be – an organized faction in US politics unless the US political order changes. Bernard Sanders, the unexpected leader of the US left who emerged in the 2016 election, acknowledged this and, after losing the Democratic nomination, supported and campaigned for Hillary Clinton. As far as I can tell, most of his supporters followed him; the vocal Sanders left appears to be a small minority.

At this point, it seems to me we are in a space of shifting coalitions within the parties. Outside of the Republicans, young people and older women are the two largest demographic factions, and these are at loggerheads. Inside the Republicans, the heat is rising. So far, Trump still has his support, but it is possible that will fracture, as Trump fails to deliver. There is a huge amount of money on the radical right side, however, and there are many people who desperately want a return to the conditions of their youth, and that is not possible.

As to emergent groups, I would keep an eye on Indivisible, which appears to be the most politically effective of the loose coalitions that emerged in the wake of the vast failure of 2016. Sanders Our Revolution is also around and is fielding candidates, and their policy wing, the Sanders Institute, is finally, finally beginning to articulate a moderate leftist vision for United States in the 21ˢᵗ century. So far, I'm not seeing anything that strongly impresses me from either of the Sanders groups, but it is early yet.

I would like to say something kinder about the Democratic leadership, but it appears to me to be working terribly hard to lose more elections.

Finally, I remind everyone yet again that all of this is long-term thinking. In the short term, we must resist.

The Seed of a US Gestapo

At Balloon Juice, in response to an exceptionally cruel action by Customs and Border Protection, John Cole comments: "ICE and our Border Patrol are now effectively the brown shirts for this regime. Treat them as such." 
  More the seed of a Gestapo, I think, the seed of a national secret police, than brownshirts (SA), Nazi paramilitaries, I think. It’s a little more than a pedantic point: the Gestapo had official power; the SA were party thugs and were ultimately suppressed by the Nazi leadership. The Gestapo was created by unifying the police forces of the Reich under the SS. The US analog of this would perhaps be bringing state and local police forces with ICE which, indeed, is being attempted.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Fascist and Antifa or "Not Both Sides…"

The fascists of the alt-right advocate the ethnic cleansing of their political opponents and if they gain power, and they are close to it, they will put it to that use. That's not the case of the antifa groups. Many of them are near-Gandhian pacifists. The man who was shot in Seattle was one of these. Others want to use violence in self-defense and are ready to rumble. Fascism and the opposition to fascism, even the violent opposition to fascism, are not equivalent.

Part of what seems to have gone wrong in Charlottesville – though, as Jim Wright says, you usually don't have reliable data until a week after the events – is that the local police went easy on the fascists, allowing lesser – though still potentially lethal – acts of violence. Another part is that Donald Trump and some of his administration (Bannon, Gorka, Sessions) are supporters of the fascists. The fascists, with some reason, believe they are likely to get away with acts of violence. President Trump has yet to condemn the white supremacist ideology of various alt-right factions involved.

We are now looking at, I think, the worst act of far-right domestic terrorism since the Oklahoma City bombing. I fear a crackdown, which, given this administration's direction, is more likely to fall on the opposition to the fascists than the fascists.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Health Care: And then the Democrats give in again

“This committee will hold hearings beginning the week of September 4th on the actions Congress should take to stabilize and strengthen the individual health insurance market,” the panel’s chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and ranking member Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) said in a statement. – via TPM
Last time I remember Sen. Murray making a bipartisan deal, on unemployment insurance with Rand Paul, thousands lost their unemployment insurance. I wonder how many millions will lose health care under this compromise?

It is not only Republican moderates that always cave to Republican extremists; Democratic centrists always make concessions, too.

To be fair, better the Republic survives. But some of its citizens will not.

Afterthought: single-payer and a public option will at least be on the table; that will help in the negotiations. But I don't see how any remotely decent plan can make it through the House, or be signed into law by President Trump.