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.

Friday, July 28, 2017

It was only a teaser, after all

So John McCain, most likely dying of cancer and beyond retribution, did the right thing and voted the Senate murdercare bill down, after voting to open debate. In this he joined Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski who had been against it all along. Probably it will be back for a sequel. But, meantime, the Republic stands. It was a near thing but, so far, so good.

Two factors in this survival. First, feminist activism, some 80% of the people who frantically called their Senators were women. Second, the internet, which made possible the biggest flash mob every.


Book Review: Colleen Sheehan, *The Mind of James Madison*

Sheehan, Colleen A. The Mind of James Madison: The Legacy of Classical Republicanism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014. xvii + 275 pages. Ordering links for hardback and paperback.

(I read this for a project I was working on and decided it deserved a review.)

During the period 1791-2, during his time in the House of Representatives and before his tenure as Secretary of State and his Presidency, James Madison, the philosopher of the American Revolution, drew up a series of notes on his philosophy of governance, which survive in a handwritten notebook. No-one is quite sure what his intention was for these, whether they were just written for his own edification or whether he intended ultimately to edit them into a book. In any event, he did not do so.
In The Mind of James Madison, Villanova professor Colleen A. Sheehan has published a transcription of these notes and written a commentary on them. The book is divided into two parts: Sheehan’s commentary on the notes and a transcription of the handwritten notes themselves, with extensive quotes from Madison’s own citations. The transcription and quotes alone are a valuable service to scholarship. The commentary is valuable for a modern scholar who does not wish to dig through the primary source material.
The commentary is written for an academic audience. She assumes a knowledge of the period and the major works authors of the period would have read; there are few concessions to a lay reader. After an establishing chapter on the context of the notes, she follows Madison’s order, with chapters titled “Circumstantial influences on government,” “The power of public opinion,” and “The federal republican polity.”
As a lay reader, I am not equipped to judge the work; it seems (for an academic work) straightforward enough and I have relied on Sheehan’s commentary as a secondary source. She is, however, a deeply conservative academic and, like anyone, will be apt to see views most congenial to her own in works she studies. In any event, I believe the book is an important one and recommend it to anyone who is seriously interested in the thinking of the founders of the United States of America.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

And the Gates of Hell Swung Open

So, the Senate Republican leadership rammed through a blank check bill of ACA changes to be filled in later. There will be multiple amendments, but, as MoveOn.Org's Washington director Ben Wikler points out, the one that counts will be last one introduced. Then the bill goes to conference committee, and the hard right will drive the amendments. (Discussion: David Dayen and Corey Robin.) We have no idea what the ultimate law will be; it is even possible, yet, that this will fail. But, no, this bird doesn't believe that. They've made it so far. They probably will pass something.

One ironic thing: "amendment king" Bernard Sanders, as ranking member of the budget committee, will be the Democratic debate manager. May he have fun obstructing the fascists.

The main thing here is not the health care bill, which will be bad enough, but that Ryan, McConnell and their shadowy backers can pass enormously cruel and unpopular laws – even laws which will kill Americans – written in secret. Now that they have succeeded in that, there will be more such laws passed. The USA is now an authoritarian state run by a largely secret faction.

Pretty sure that isn't what the radical right guys who voted for Trump and the Republicans mean by freedom.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Factions in the right: the fascists and the dominionists

I wonder if one reason Trump hasn't been impeached so far is that it would throw power to the Christian right.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Told you it wasn't going to end with withdrawing health care

Charles Pierce, "Tennessee Seems Very Interested in Sterilizing People."

If the state is allowed to control women's bodies, it will also eventually control men's bodies.