Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Content of His Character

Jack Balkin, on the Obama administration arguing that the USA isn't really at war in Libya, post.
If one is disturbed by Bush's misuse of the process for vetting legal questions, one should be equally disturbed by Obama's irregular procedures. [...] The fact that Obama is a former professor of constitutional law does not justify his scuttling practices that are designed, over long periods of time, to improve legal deliberations and help ensure that presidents conform to the law.
Progressives had hoped that Obama was going to be one of the great and rare presidents, who, like Washington and Juarez, have been able to renounce power for the greater good. With this action, he shows clearly he is not. Yet that is what is needed to end this burst of authoritarianism in the USA and the Western world.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fascism Express

News of the past few days has brought:
  • A Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling that the state legislature is exempt from open meeting laws, and its questionably-passed law stripping the state's public empolyye unions of most of their bargaining rights therefore stands. Report. The ruling is, at its base, an abrogation of law.
  • Darrell Issa, Republican chair of the House Oversight Committee, interfering with the testimony of Democratic witnesses. Report & analysis.
  • An amazingly racist and sexist campaign ad. Report.
If the courts have been corrupted, and the legislature is dominated by the radical right, what is to stop the legislature, or the shadowy powers behind it, from dismantling the rule of law completely? Totalitarian states have the forms of democracy. They have legislatures, courts, unions. But none of them are free to act: the power is centralized in a small group. This is how legislation is created in a totalitarian state. The rulers say what the legislation is, distribute it to their tame legislature, silence or stifle all opposition, and then use their captive courts to interpret the law in their favor.

The legislation here comes from the State Policy Network, funded by a few wealthy right-wing radicals. We only know some of their names. The content of the legislative program is anti-union, anti-environmentalist, sexist, racist, corporatist, classist: in a word, fascist.

Now what? Do we step off the train?

Postscript, 2011.06.16: Today brings the news that the CIA was asked to attack the reputation of Juan Cole, one of the most informed public critics of the Iraq war. Report.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Weinergate croak

It has become way too easy to find and publish someone's steamy love letters.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Short Labor Croak

Jared Bernstein wrote:
Strengthening of labor laws is important. Most objective observers judge the playing field for union organizing to be seriously tilted against forming a union. Union-busting—mostly by making sure elections to recognize a union fail—has become a huge business; I’ve heard there are law firms that offer money-back guarantees. A functional NLRB is very important in this space and as you can imagine, they were not exactly loaded for bear during the Bush years. But they’re back now and have some good ideas (and they can make rule changes, as opposed to legislative ones, which are a much heavier lift). I’ll try to write about them soon.
My response, in comments:
The hell with “strengthening” labor laws. Repeal Taft-Hartley, and then we’ll talk. As a start, Obama could appoint pro-labor NRLB members as he gets the chance. Heck, I’d settle for neutral members.

(And you know, and I know, that there isn’t a chance of either of those before 2012, and probably not before 2020. The fight continues.)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Coulds, Part II

I realized that I'd written, in the context of a reply to John Cole, a not-bad list of coulds. I've updated them slightly, but I think they stand up pretty well.
  • Get out there & start talking up Keynsianism. Remind people of Hoover’s failure in 1930, and FDR’s budget balancing in 1937. Criticize the investment banks for gross malfeasance, the mortgage banks for fraud, and the health insurance companies for price-gouging.
  • Get out there & start talking environmentalism. Start talking science. Start talking jobs. Start talking union. Start talking women’s rights. Start talking freedom and equality—remember those?
  • Investigate the Koch brothers and the De Vos family. Investigate ALEC. Investigate the State Policy Network.
  • Stop lying to the public. Stop telling people it’s really OK when no way it is. Stop making deals with the devil.

DougJ at Balloon Juice Sees Fascists

I think that politically, it might be smart for Republicans to force a default this summer and blow up the economy. [...] I would not have said this before they all voted for Vouchercare. [...] If the economy goes into true free fall, they’ve got a very good shot to unseat Obama. [...] Once they’re in, they should find some pretext to abolish labor unions as much as possible and then try to disenfranchise as many younger and non-white people as they can, after extended DOJ “investigation”/Congressional hearings/Breitbart circuses about teh voter fraud.

He is, of course, describing a fascist revolution, and this is made the stronger by his not recognizing what he is describing.

So what do I think?


There are two factions in the Republicans: the Wall Street faction (Pete Peterson, et al) and the nationalism-values-and-racism aka Tea Party faction (DeVos, Prince, Koch brothers, et al.) The Wall Streeters obviously don’t want a default. The Tea Partiers don’t care; I've met some who are convinced that it would make no difference at all. It is possible that some of the Tea Party leaders are using actual fascist history as a model.

There's a historical precedent in the rise of the Nazis: the German equivalent of the Wall Street faction invited the Tea Party faction in and, in hard times, found the Tea Party faction was popular. A split on the left, between Stalinists and democratic socialists, prevented an effective unified opposition.

The US situation is considerably different. There is no effective left. I suppose the current governing coalition of Wall Street Republicans and conservative Democrats might successfully oppose the Tea Party Republicans, but it would be the ruin of both parties, and the end of the Democratic progressive faction.

My guess is no revolution, but also no substantial change. Continued conservative governance, with the Tea Party Republicans become increasingly shrill until the next election, after which they will probably lose power. As I wrote previously, I see nothing that will lead the USA out of its current political deadlock and economic depression. Which means...

More food for corvids. Croak!

[2011.06.08: minor copy errors (capitalization and verb tense) corrected]