Saturday, June 24, 2017

What kind of country does that to its own citizens?

A disabled person elsenet, responding to the proposed Medicaid cuts and the abuse of disabled protesters, asked what kind of country does that to its own citizens. I realized that the answer was Nazi Germany.

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Culling of the Unfit: Fascism and the BCRA

– 1 –
The Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), the Senate version of ACA reform, is a disaster for women. I don't fully understand all the details; the worst will be in the states that pass waivers that allow pre-natal and maternity care to be withdrawn, but the Medicaid cuts and the defunding of Planned Parenthood will affect all states. If a woman is even middle class and does not have maternity coverage through their employer, this will affect her life. She may be unable to afford pre-natal care, or any care for a pregnancy with complications. Women will die. Children will be born disabled.

– 2 –
I do not see how this can be an accident. There is too much message discipline, too much clarity in the goals chosen. I do not see how this could have been achieved without planning. This is a deliberate part of a program of "culling" the unfit and purifying the race, with all the old ugly misogyny included in it. Or perhaps the misogyny is the point, and the eugenic idealism the excuse. Someone, several someones, somewhere, has a vision of a purified American with women enslaved and without black or brown people, without weakness or illness.

Ironically, I don't think Trump is a member of the organized movement; he could never be trusted to keep the secret. But Jared Kushner might be. The Koch Brothers, certainly. Senate Majority leader Addison Mitchell McConnell. Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions. Erik Dean Prince and his sister Elisabeth Dee DeVos. Perhaps Neil Gorsuch. Perhaps Richard Cheney. (Notice the family connections. They cannot trust anyone not tightly bound to them.)

The cruelty is the point. The tax cuts are the excuse given to the rich, to gather their support, but the deaths are necessary for the movement's vision to be realized. Calls for compassion are lost on the leaders. They are fanatics, as fanatical and hypocritical as the leaders of Da'esh, and they would rather see the world in flames than lose control. 

– 3 –
The Democratic opposition shows no signs that they know what they are fighting. The opposition believes the fascists have normal goals: money, power. The Democrats still believe they can negotiate, even now. I do not see how this can be so: the leaders of this movement are ridden by a fanaticism that brooks no compromise.

– 4 –
To win, resistance must go into this clear-eyed, understanding what we are fighting. We must learn more of this movement and its leaders. I do not know if the knowledge will lead to victory, but I am certain that ignorance will not. If this is a true fascist movement, dedicated to purifying the race, simply withdrawing health care will not be enough. They will go on to ethnic cleansing, to mass deportations and mass killings. We must oppose it.

I do not believe the Republican leaders are reachable. They are either believers, or so committed that they cannot back out. The Republican followers, though, those might be reached.

– 5 –
And, finally, to the Republican followers, if any of you are reading: turn back. I say again: TURN BACK. You have not yet committed yourself wholly, you are not yet complicit in atrocity. Do not become so. If you believe in honor, consider that honor lies in loyalty to your country and its ideals, not to this madness that would destroy it. If you can, stop, turn back. I promise you that if you do not you will regret it.

– Addendum –
The Nazi program of eliminating the unfit was called Aktion T4. You can read about it at the Britannica's web site. (Thanks to Mnemosyne at Balloon Juice for the cite.)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Health Care Reform: States Rights?

Maybe the way this works out is that some states get good health care systems, others get crappy ones. California might even get all the waivers necessary to build its single-payer system, while Texas would be allowed to build a system where most of the lower-cost plans available on the exchanges are junk insurance, which drive out the decent plans.

Monday, June 19, 2017

I Read the News Today Oh Boy

There are one dead and ten injured in the London van attack. Teresa May is calling it terrorism – arsonist fighting the fire she set. J K Rowling tweets, "The Mail has misspelled 'terrorist' as 'white van driver.' Now let's discuss how he was radicalised.” British reporter James Melville offers a montage of anti-Islamic tabloid covers.
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/world-news/london-mosque-van-plowed-crowd
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/live/2017/jun/19/north-london-van-incident-finsbury-park-casualties-collides-pedestrians-live-updates
https://twitter.com/jk_rowling/status/876686501505060864
https://twitter.com/JamesMelville/status/876703780124983296

In Seattle, Charleena Lyles, an African-American woman, called the police on a burglar and was shot by the police. The Seattle Times offers the following headline: "Mother with knife killed by police was pregnant and had mental-health issues.”
http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/Dozens-attend-vigil-for-woman-killed-by-police-at-11229279.php

In DC, 17-year-old Muslim girl assaulted and killed after leaving Virginia mosque, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/fairfax-loudoun-police-searching-for-missing-17-year-old-reported-to-have-been-assaulted/2017/06/18/02e379ac-5466-11e7-a204-ad706461fa4f_story.html?tid=ss_tw&utm_term=.fe4f957a5bbd

I think I am going to find a roost somewhere and defend it against all comers.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The worst day for American democracy in my lifetime

Attorney general Jeff Sessions apparently lied and perjured himself on the witness stand in front of Congress. Meanwhile​, Senate Republicans continue to write their health care bill in secret, and Senate Democrats continue to not be willing to fight the thing. My own Senator is just not willing to do anything behind regular procedure. Now that she's been directly insulted by Senator Lamar Alexander she may be more willing to act, but what does it take to get the Democrats to actually do anything?

And this morning brings the news that Republican House whip Scalise has been shot in an apparently non-political mass shooting.

The past day and a half, I think, has been the worst for American democracy of my life. My country, oh my country.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Senate Changes Name to House of Lords

(Updated from 2009 version)

Washington, DC. Today Republican Senate leader McConnell announced that all Democratic Senators will be arrested and the US Senate will henceforth be known as the House of Lords. "We feel this change reflects the power of the body and the position of its members." When asked about the Constitution, Senator McConnell replied, "The constitution is subordinate to the needs of the nobility."

In other news, President Trump announced he is changing his title to King. House Democrats are appealing to their home states for military aid.


Image source.
More about the memorial.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Dear Clintonistas and Sandersites: Cut It Out

Dear Clinton supporters, please stop publishing Republican oppo research on Sanders.

Dear Sanders supporters, please stop being sore losers.

Don't make the mistake that the Republicans did while in opposition; they intensified internal conflicts so much that now they cannot agree on policy. Remember that you will eventually be negotiating, and that will be far more successful if you do not go into the negotiation hating each other.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Bad King Trump

Jim Wright tweets on Reality Winner, arguing that she broke the law and deserves punishment. I commented, and I think he objected, though he did not reply directly. I took my remarks down. But I keep wondering, regardless of deserving punishment or not: will what she did make a difference? Enough difference? Martyrdom gains its power through a willingness to accept consequences which most of us would not even risk – I would not willingly put myself at the mercy of Sessions and Trump – and through rightness. (Added: and, indeed, Winner is being held without bail.)

And another thought: in the bad old days, a bad king would have charged Winner with treason (added) and executed her summarily. I'm sure someone in the Trump administration, if not Trump himself, would like to do so. The constitutional safeguard against this, the very specific definition of treason, is a great bulwark against bad rulers.

Monday, June 5, 2017

"Racism is a common refuge for alienated white guys"

And as we’re still sometimes having the argument about whether outreach to the white working class requires betraying racial equality, consider that racism is a common refuge for alienated white guys. And currently we’ve got a generation of white guys whose fathers had steady union jobs with good wages and benefits that are now long gone. If racism is growing in this population, the way to combat that is not to yell at them, but to come up with ways to help them feel connected to a more progressive vision. Martin Longman has some thoughts on this. – "The Myths That Guide Us"

Proposing a Final Solution to the Islamic Problem

Representative Clay Higgins (R-LA): "Kill them all. For the sake of all that is good and righteous. Kill them all."

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

They will know, and they will never trust you again, part 5

Rob Reich, on the Trump budget:
It imposes huge burdens on people who already are hurting. Not just the very poor, but also the working class. In fact, among the biggest losers would be people who voted for Trump – whites in rural and poor areas of the country who depend on Medicaid, food stamps, and Social Security disability.
"You cannot lie to the working class, James, not even once. They will know, and they will never trust you again." – fictional Fredrich Engels, Steven Brust and Emma Bull, Freedom and Necessity

And so they will, though it will take time for them to figure it out.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Allies in defeat, redux

(This was the first draft of my much shorter Allies in Defeat post. It has stood up well, and I think it is time to post it.)
After the hideous electoral loss the left suffered on 11/8, it seems that the Sandernistas and the Clintonites are still duking it out.

The Clintonites keep saying that Clinton's loss was due to Sanders, which is wrong. Most Sanders supporters voted for Clinton and Sanders himself campaigned for her. Clinton's loss was due to sexism, racism, bad press, and bad luck, in that order, with sexism far and away the biggest factor.

The Sandernistas alternate among saying that Sanders could have won, that the Democratic Party betrayed them, and that Sanders betrayed them by joining the Senate opposition. We can't, of course, say that Sanders would have lost. Still, I doubt he would have won. I was concerned that a hippie socialist atheist Jew would have had trouble in the general election and Kurt Eichenwald confirmed this in his reporting; Sanders would have been accused of, among other things, rape apology, communism, treason, and everything else Republicans could gin up from his long and varied history.

So what would have happened when Sanders hit a real opponent, someone who did not care about alienating the young college voters in his base? I have seen the opposition book assembled by Republicans for Sanders, and it was brutal. … Could Sanders still have won? Well, Trump won, so anything is possible. But Sanders supporters puffing up their chests as they arrogantly declare Trump would have definitely lost against their candidate deserve to be ignored. — Newsweek

Now we get people saying that Sanders doesn't care about women and people of color while, at the same time, saying that he is willing to be a Trump ally, which is idiotic — he gave up his shot at the Presidency to oppose Trump. Sanders, this past Sunday:

“There is a lot of racism in this country. There is a lot of sexism, a lot of homophobia,” he said. “I don’t have to explain to anybody here the racist background of Mr. Trump … I don’t have to tell anybody here about the slurs, the awful things he has said about Mexicans … Muslim people … and obviously … his attitude towards women.” Sanders urged his audience to unite in order to resist bigotry. “When we bring millions of people together, here in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, when we do that, there is nothing we cannot accomplish,” he said, acknowledging cheers of affirmation from the audience. Sanders highlighted the plight of the middle class in America, a problem he frequently spoke about on the campaign trail. “For 40 years, the middle class of this country has been in decline,” he said. “You see enormous pain and confusion as to why the people on top make huge amounts of money, while the middle class continues to shrink, and 43 million Americans live in poverty.” — The Daily Free Press (Boston University)

The Sanders and Clinton factions are now allies in defeat. We tried Clinton's way, and it didn't work. Now it's time to try Sanders way. Sanders is part of the Senate leadership. He has long experience getting concessions from a hostile coalition and fewer ties to the 1% than anyone else in the Senate. We are on the same side; let's get to work.

But we plainly aren't going to. At this point, what it would take to unify the Resistance would be something like a younger female version of Sanders, and I don't see anyone like that on the national stage.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Social Justice, Economic Justice, and the Two Party System

Advocates of social justice have tied themselves into knots defending the economic policies of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and they have left the opposition to Trump no way to unify. We now have a narrative where it is claimed that the "far left" (by which is meant the left wing of the Democratic Party) is overwhelmingly racist and sexist by neglect, concentrating on economic issues exclusively, and that the centrist wing of the Democrats, with its concentration on social justice to the exclusion of economic justice, is morally superior, and more deserving of support from women and people of color. This seems to me madness.

To set the language straight, first, because I am a pedantic bird, the Democratic Party has no far left. The far left is Glen Ford, Cornel West, Noam Chomsky, and so on. None of these people have any influence in the Democratic Party and two of them are African-American, making it plain that economic justice is an issue for people of color. This is not a new thing; women and people of color have long been part of the far left, an honorable tradition going back to figures such as Jenny Marx and, later, in the United States, Richard Wright and Langston Hughes. These people became Marxists in part because so many of the issues which faced women and people of color in their time were economic: women could not own property, the property and savings of African-Americans were routinely looted, and so on. In our time, the consequences of the crash of 2008 fell hard on people of color, who were disproportionately victims of mortgage fraud and disproportionately unemployed in the resulting depression. The African-American writer Ta-Nehisi Coates (and you should read him), in his essay "The Case for Reparations," uses this latest attack in a long history of attacks on African-American wealth in support of his argument.

The centrist wing of the Democrats is also the Wall Street wing of the party, led by the Senate Minority Leader Charles Shumer. In their times, President Barack Obama and Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton were leaders of this wing. Obama, as President, was a leader in social justice. Not only did the simple fact of an African-American president bring hope to African-Americans, in policy he supported the rights of African-Americans, women, and, under pressure, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transexuals. At the same time, he was a supporter and defender of the financial services industry, prosecuting no bankers despite their​ engineering the crash of 2008, refusing to advocate for a single-payer health care plan, or even a public option in the privatized system of the the Affordable Care Act, and taking only weak action on employment. These had harsh consequences for people of color, who were disproportionately victims of mortgage fraud and disproportionately unemployed in the depression which followed the crash. Hillary Clinton, as advisor to William Clinton, similarly took neo-liberal stands in the earlier Clinton administration, which led to harsh reforms in welfare and Medicaid, again disproportionately falling on people of color.

It was a blessing ("barack") for African-Americans to see one of their own in the highest government office of the United States. It is a blessing for LGBTQ people to have the respect, however grudging, of the legal system. Yet without economic justice as well, one has self-respect, civil rights, and institutionalized poverty – injustice. There is no way to have social justice without economic justice, and the separation of the two is itself injustice.

In the current situation, we have feminists attacking Bernard Sanders for being insufficiently feminist. Yet the Democratic Party's conservatives are even less so. Even Hillary Clinton; this faction forgets the weakness of her position on abortion. The unofficial leader of the moderate left, Bernard Sanders, is slammed for weakness on the issue, while he has been a strong supporter of women's rights for his entire political career, while the Democratic centrists, who are weaker, are granted a pass. There is little difference between Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton's running mate and supporter of the Hyde Amendment, and the Roman Catholic pro-Planned Parenthood anti-abortion Heath Mello, candidate for mayor of Omaha, who Sanders and the Democratic National Committee support.

Centrists are not social justice warriors. They are the "white moderates" who Martin Luther King, Jr. slammed in his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" as those who preferred "a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice."

Yet what is to be done? The split has been created. There is a huge amount of effort devoted to widening it; the very wealthy, seeing their wealth threatened, are working hard to shoot the Democratic Party of its left wing. I do not see how, once that is done, the party can hope to win elections outside of major cities, and perhaps not even there. Feminist support for Democratic centrists is hugely foolish; the centrists have been slow-walking feminist issues for decades, as King's white moderates did with segregation, and betray feminists when the centrists see a profit in it.

Bernard Sanders, an independent running for President, stood for the Democratic nomination. He was well aware of the risks of a split in the opposition to fascists. Yet some the party's major backers in the financial industry are now supporting a split. It may be that, reluctant though Sanders has been, he has planted a sapling new party.

What are such a party's chances? It depends, paradoxically, on the integrity of the Republican Party. If the Republican Party falls from internal contradictions, and it may – its President is mad and its House delegation is unable to pass a budget or a health care plan – there will be space for a new party in the American two-party system. If not, it is harder to say. Will people abandon their long-held party loyalties? Republicans support a newly conservative Democratic Party? Democrats support a new Progressive party? And the fascists, domestic and international, will be quick to exploit any split.

Interesting times!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Feminists and Progressives: The Split in the Resistance

(Copied from elsenet, with permission. This is very rough and could have have used another editorial pass, but I want to get it out while it might change a few minds.)

Somehow, Bernard Sanders is being blasted for being anti-choice and anti-feminist, for supporting a formerly anti-choice Democratic candidate supported by the national Democratic Party. Only Sanders gets the blasting, though what he is doing is supporting a Democratic candidate supported by the party. And my mind went back to the election…

Bernard Sanders: "I happen to believe that it is wrong for the government to be telling a woman what to be doing with her own body."

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, went on record as supporting "late-pregnancy regulation that would have exceptions for the life and health of the mother."

Somehow I don't see many women attacking Clinton for this stand.

The Wall Street Dems who are pushing this so hard, they are such good feminists, right? Sure they are. Right until women's rights bump into the profits of the people who fund their campaign. Or just until a woman wants to be a CEO.

People, people. Sanders has been a strong supporter of women's rights for his entire political career. The two strongest resistance factions have now been brought into bitter conflict. How the fascists must be toasting their victory!

It seems to me that Sanders is being attacked because he is an inconvenient critic of the conservative faction of the Democrats, who very badly want to go on allowing the banks, insurance companies, and the rest of finance to rip off the rest of us. Once they have gotten Sanders out of the way, they can go back to losing elections, I suppose.

There is much and deserved talk of how Trump is not acting in the interests of his supporters, who stick with him anyway. But there seems to me not enough talk of how the conservative Democratic leaders are also not acting in the interests of their supporters, who stick with the Democratic Party regardless of how it fails them.

Why should Trump supporters have all the fun?

Sources:

Bob Dreyfuss, writing at ThePopulist.Buzz, quoting Guttenplan of Nebraska:

All of the women I spoke with here [in Omaha] were well acquainted with Mello’s personal opposition to abortion. But they also knew that while remaining true to his beliefs, and his Catholic faith, he has been a public defender of Planned Parenthood, one who has shifted his efforts from blocking abortion to helping women avoid unwanted pregnancies by supporting comprehensive sex education and access to contraception—the same path travelled by politicians from Bill Clinton to Joe Biden to Tim Kaine.

Myriam Renaud, writing at The Atlantic:

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton has repeatedly spoken out in support of the right to abortion. Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards has praised Clinton for treating reproductive issues as “more than just a sound bite” and the pro-choice organizations Emily’s List and NARAL Pro-Choice America have endorsed her. However, Clinton’s views on abortion are more nuanced and reflect her religious commitments to a greater degree than partisans on either side of the issue may realize.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

On Opposing Fascists

(This is a reaction to a discussion of the French elections over on Crooked Timber.)

This discussion is so much a reprise of the arguments that led up to a Trump victory. “He can’t possibly win,” “He isn’t so bad,” “They’re both the same.” etc., etc., etc.

And then he did, he is, and they are not.

Fight the fascists. Fight them with all your heart and mind and soul. Remember that what is at stake is the peace of Europe and the world itself.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Collaboration with the Trump Regime

So now we have the New York Times hiring Bret Stephens, a climate change denier, as an op-ed columnist. We have CNN hiring Trump supporters as commentators.

Yup, getting with the program. After whatever disasters Trump and the Republicans visit upon the USA I'm sure that the New York Times and CNN will write about the failure, but never once admit to their part in creating it.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Trump Administration: Making War on Americans

Digby commenting on Attorney General Sessions, over at Salon:
It sounds as if he believes he’s a real general, running a real war. And the enemy is not just the “terrorist” gangbangers; it’s millions of undocumented immigrants who’ve been designated as criminals for infractions as minor as driving without a license. And now the administration has even got media “embeds” with the troops, reporting from the front.

I knew Trump was very likely to start a war. It’s just not in his character to resist the temptation to flex his muscle and prove his manhood. But I assumed he would fight the hated foreign hordes overseas on their own turf. Unfortunately, whatever happens with our various foreign policy crises, it’s looking more and more every day like we’re also going fight a war right here, on the streets of American cities.

But isn't that what the whole administration and the whole movement that supports it is about? The "Freedom" Caucus wants to withdraw health care from 24 million people. The right-wing Christian extremists want to rule everyone who isn't an extremist, especially women. (I wonder to what extent the intense misogyny of the Christian right is driven by men who want to control their wives.) The white supremacists want to rule over people of color, and will be happy to fight among themselves for the privilege of ruling white people as well. It's the war of the fascists against their own country, it seems.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The best thing the USA could do in Syria and Yemen…

President Trump Will Get His War

Syria and North Korea. Trump rattles his saber and expects his opponents to back down.

That trick never works. The only way to win a war is to fight it; posturing does not lead to victory.

But it can start wars. Diplomats answer threats with threats and the verbal conflicts escalate until, finally, all parties can see no other choices but to fight. Add to that the brutal treatment of immigrants and refugees under the Trump administration, the trade policies of the Trump administration, and the diplomatic incompetence of the Trump administration. The USA is making many enemies. So I think some of the talk will eventually turn to action. It may be in some place we don't expect; Yemen is a festering conflict, Ukraine is very much at risk. (Not at all coincidentally, both centers of the global fossil energy business.)

It seems likely to me that President Trump will get his war.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Donald Trump, terrorist

And now we have a bombing. It seems to have had no strategic value. Its sole purpose was to threaten. That is terrorism. In this bombing this USA has committed a vast act of terrorism.

Meantime, we have the media guys going on about how Presidential this was.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

And so, minority parties now have no power in the US Federal legislature

The Republicans must believe they will never be out of power again.

How can this system last? Single-party rule is inherently undemocratic.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Culling the Undesirables

It used to be that culling the undesirables was done by staving them, now it seems to be the goal of American fascists to deny them health care.

Progress!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Prof. Robin, Apologize and Engage Reality

My remarks in Crooked Timber comments:

Prof. Robin, this president you call weak still commands the most powerful military in history and the vast internal police force of the Department of Homeland Security, which has gone rogue. Half the reason the AHCA went down to defeat is that it was not cruel enough for the fascist wing of the Republican Party, and Trump will seek revenge for that humiliation. The Middle East is likely to explode in war soon (watch Yemen.) If so, that will provide the Trump administration and the various factions of the Republican Party with more excuses to expand their fascist domestic policy.
Prof. Robin is a very smart man with historical insight, but he seems incapable of apologizing or admitting error.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Liberal Victories?

(In answer to Jim Wright's "Winning Civilization.")

Or we could try mobilizing women and young people for liberal causes.  There's a lot of women who have discovered what feminists knew all along: that, in the clinch, Republicans will oppress them.  Young people, who grew up during the depression that followed on the crash of 2008, knew that all along.  If liberals can assemble a coalition of women and young people, there would be little it could not do.

Against that, we have to look at Democratic betrayals.  Huge numbers of people long-term unemployed, huge numbers of people losing their homes, these things are not lightly set aside, and the Obama administration fell far short of what it could have done.  In the crash of 2008, the Democratic leadership served their rich donors, rather than the whole of the people, and the people know.  I have before alluded to the gospel saying that a man cannot serve both money and god. I would say rather money and the people, but the point stands: though the Democratic leadership is far more decent than the Republican leadership, both are far too dominated by big-money contributors.

We also have to understand better organizing in the electronic media environment. Electronic media are an enormously powerful way to motivate people, but getting them to actually organize into political factions and parties is enormously difficult, and revolutions have failed because activists have treated formal organization as unnecessary: consider Occupy and the Arab Spring. We need to concentrate, therefore, on formal organization.

Finally, we need to embrace our own activists. We must not, as Martin Luther King wrote in his "Letter from Birmingham Jail," confuse the false peace that comes from exhaustion or oppression with the true peace that comes from social justice. I do not care if activists are unsettling and disturbing, so long as they are active!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

In Which a Supreme Court Nominee Perjures Himself

This is another "what Charles Pierce said" post.

Charles Pierce writing about Neil Gorsuch's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Sen Whitehouse (D-RI):
What's interesting is that this group sees a difference between him [Garland] and you that I don't understand…now we have $10 million going the other way. That's a $17 million delta and for the life of me, I'm trying to figure out what they see in you that makes that $17 million worth the spending. Do you have any answer to that?
Pierce summarizes Gorsuch's reply:
If Whitehouse wanted to know who they were, he should ask them.
Sen. Whitehouse:
I can't. I don't know who they are. It's just a front group.
 Gorsuch:
Senator, I have no information about anything you just described. I don't know about that.
Pierce:
This is not remotely believable. As Senator Al Franken pointed out later, when he read from e-mails dating back to Gorsuch's days as a high-level Republican lawyer, specifically about his work for the 2004 Bush re-election campaign, Gorsuch has been a political being for his entire adult life and, at the same time, he hasn't spent a second in elected office, so his politics were formed and were exercised almost entirely through the conservative Republican institutional infrastructure.
So here we have a nominee for the highest Court in the land, perjuring himself.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Body Count

Approximately 17,000 people could die in 2018 who otherwise would have lived if a House Republican health proposal endorsed by the Trump administration becomes law. By 2026, the number of people killed by Trumpcare could grow to approximately 29,000 in that year alone. – ThinkProgress

The USA Cannot Implement the AHCA and Remain a Democracy

Tweets, originally:
  1. Has any democracy every before made policy that would kill hundreds of thousands of its own citizens?
  2. We are with the AHCA in the domain of the Great Hunger in Ireland or the Holodomor in Ukraine.
  3. The USA cannot implement the AHCA and remain a democracy.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

2018, 2020, and beyond

Jim Wright, over at Stonekettle Station, writes about increasing progressive turnout. He complains that liberals don’t show up and that if they did, the conservatives would be toast. Late in the long essay, he writes is: “It’s going to require a hell of a lot more work. It’s going to require organization. It’s going to require rational liberals and rational conservatives to work together and find common ground. […] It’s going to require compromise. […] Compromise not with hate, but with fear.”

Yet conservatives have crossed the line to unjust violence — fascism — and people who have done that seldom cross back. It takes strong people to admit to unforgivable sin, and repent. Most never do, never will. Can we bring the Republican Party back, when it has embraced fascism?

The Democratic Party, in the last 30 years, has tried to serve both Mammon and the people. Can't be done, and the Obama administration failed spectacularly at it. No jobs program, no relief for embattled homeowners, no prosecutions for mortgage fraud or servicing abuse. (And if you doubt that, read David Dayen’s Chain of Title.) At least, the Obama administration did not practice the economic destruction the Republicans promise. This made it possible for people to work out a modest recovery. But I do not think there is one of us who does not know someone who has lost their home, or spent years out of work.

Why would people turn out for a party which did that? I have a friend who is represented by Senator Patricia Murray (D-WA.) She made the budget deal with Paul Ryan that cut off my friend’s unemployment benefits on my friend’s birthday. Now (says my friend) my friend voted for Senator Murray during the last election with difficulty. And yet my friend is an educated activist who will determinedly vote for the lesser evil. Someone who had lost their house or had years of unemployment and is not ideological? Why would they vote Democratic? Why would their family, friends, and neighbors? The amazing thing, perhaps, is that turnout was as good as it was.

What turned out enthusiastic liberals in the last election? Jobs, banking, environment,… The socialist program of Bernard Sanders. The socialist Bernard Sanders. And perhaps his proposals did not pencil, likely they could not have been implemented as written. But the process of attempting to implement them would have produced positive results. Likely also Sanders would not have won the general election: the Republicans would have painted him as a misogynistic racist communist traitor and they would have had the help of disappointed Clinton supporters. Yet as much as there was anyone implementing your program of connecting with the opposition, of coming together, Sanders tried. He talked to coal miners and auto workers. He visited Liberty University. When Clinton won the primaries, he turned over his delegates to Clinton and campaigned for her.

But it was not enough.

What will be enough? Well, to begin with, let’s look at the old progressive or liberal or democratic socialist program: jobs, environment, equity, justice. “Vote for us: we bring peace, prosperity, and weed.” What’s not to like about that? (Weed makes me cough. But other than that.) Well, turns out that that means one isn’t allowed to be rapacious in business, that one has to give up the feeling of moral superiority that anti-abortion activism offers, and no racism, no sexism. We have just elected a racist President who brags about the size of his penis! Whose party has a history of rape apologetics. Whose anti-abortion platform protects rapists and child molesters.

At the root of this great reaction is in part threatened masculinity. The other part, I think, is a revolt against modernity. A revolt against the communications technologies which connect us. A revolt against a world where Western culture is one of many.

So we have four things to account for the Democratic loss: racism, patriarchy, a revolt against modernity, and personal economic losses. What will be enough to turn out voters against the Republicans? Perhaps organization of the enormous opposition that has emerged. As I have been writing since 2008, young people and women are mobilized. If they can organize, they can win. Time and Republican failures will work in their favor. Trumpworld is a glitzy place, but also a harsh, corrupt, and unfair one, and the public is likely to hate the reality of fascism; it is much more attractive as a vision than a reality.

But who will organize them? The party that turned people out of their homes and left them to fall into poverty is not going to be easily forgiven. Its leadership does not want to admit error. Charles Schumer, the Senator who most represents the hated financiers of Wall Street, is the Democratic Senate leader. Tom Perez, though personally liberal, was candidate of the losing party establishment for chair of the Democratic National Committee, and has won.

In the clinch, most Sanders supporters stood with Clinton. It is not clear to me if the reverse would be so. I have seen far too much denial of the problems of the Democratic Party from Clinton supporters, and if the Democrats do not change, they will keep on losing.

Our Revolution, which grew out of Sanders campaign, has its own problems. The revanchist Clinton supporters obviously, but also the unpopularity of socialism. Yet the strength and depth of the opposition to the Trump/Republican program is astonishing. If that can organize, it can defeat the Republicans.

2020. Look to 2020. The country will be a shambles by then, but with luck, organization, and leadership an opposition can win in 2020. We can try things in 2018, but by 2020 I hope we are ready.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Health insurance: return of the bad old days, II

Richard Mayhew, now writing under his wallet name of David Anderson at Balloon Juice, offers two more bad old days stories. My reaction, which I did not post in full:
The question arises as to why such business are allowed to continue operation, and why insurance company executives and employees are not prosecuted. At least the mortgage bankers only (only!) stole people's homes. After reading enough such stories I decided I wouldn't care if the entire industry was nationalized and all the holders of health insurance business stock lost all the value of their stock. Might teach our corporate citizens not to commit mass murder. 
It does, though, explain in part why it is that there is not more horror of fascists. Horrors are built into our society; not only in the health insurance industry, but in policing, and many other places as well. We are, in fact, already desensitized.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Misogynistic Obsession as Mental Disorder

I remember a 1980s comics artist who broke up with his wife and became an obsessive misogynist, anti-feminist, inclined to latch on to any hateful belief about women and feminism. And now we have it all over the place. Some men are just misogynistic jerks — why? — some men are just misogynistic because they live in a misogynistic culture or subculture, and for others it becomes an obsession, sometimes one even carried to the point of violence. Why? I don't see how this can be anything other than a mental disorder.

Trump, public and private

Donald Trump is perfectly capable of expressing himself clearly when he wants to. Compare these quotes from his press conference and talk to his rich friends.

At the press conference:
I think I'll say a few words, and then we'll take some questions. And I had this time. We've been negotiating a lot of different transactions to save money on contracts that were terrible, including airplane contracts that were out of control and late and terrible; just absolutely catastrophic in terms of what was happening. And we've done some really good work. We're very proud of that. And then right after that, you prepare yourselves, we'll do some questions, unless you have enough questions. That's always a possibility. I'm here today to update the American people on the incredible progress that has been made in the last four weeks since my inauguration. We have made incredible progress. I don't think there's ever been a president elected who in this short period of time has done what we've done.

In private at his golf club in New Jersey:
We’re doing a lot of interviews tomorrow — generals, dictators, we have everything,” Trump told the crowd, according to an audio tape of his closed-press remarks obtained by POLITICO from a source in the room. “You may wanna come around. It’ll be fun. We’re really working tomorrow. We have meetings every 15, 20 minutes with different people that will form our government.
 
We’re going to be interviewing everybody — Treasury, we’re going to be interviewing Secretary of State,” he continued. “We have everybody coming in — if you want to come around, it’s going to be unbelievable….so you might want to come along. —Politico via digby.
Not incompetent-crazy, mean-greedy-crazy.

& thanks to Jim Wright at Stonekettle Station, who reads Trump so we don't have to!

Friday, February 17, 2017

"Nach Hitler kommen Wir"

Or, "After Hitler, our turn."

It was a 1930s German Communist Party (KPD) slogan, usually attributed to Ernst Thälmann, chairman of the KPD and 1932 KPD Presidential candidate. He may or may not have originated it, but, as with Hillary Clinton's "Stronger Together," it is identified with him, and has a strong resonance with the opposition to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 US Presidential election.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Insufficiently Racist

So, after approving the incredibly racist Sessions as Attorney General and the incredibly greedy Mnuchin as Secretary of the Treasury, pressure on Andrew Pudzer leads him to withdraw from the approval process. Not, apparently, because he beat his wife or hired an undocumented housekeeper, but because he is not down with deporting Latins by the hundreds of thousands. Insufficiently racist. People like Pudzer are like slavemasters, but at least they are willing to pay a wage and hire Latins. This makes them less suited to this fascist administration than the likes of Sessions and Mnuchin.

Anyone who still thinks this is going to be a normal administration ought to shut up and sit down.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Ryan/McConnell Administration?

With the fall of Michael Flynn, apparently resigned for spying on the USA, the Trump administration has become unstable. The likelihood is high that Trump himself is compromised, as is Pence. And, oh, the vultures are circling. There is a chance that people who never would have been elected will become President and Vice President.

Brrr.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Trump Is Not King

A presidential executive order is not a royal edict. Seems that Trump is trying to rule by edict, not by making law. Trump wants to rule as king, without question. This seems to have been passed over in moderate discussion; the radical anti-authoritarians seem to be thinking it obvious and not mentioning it, and it is too strange a thought for the moderates.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Homeland Security Has Gone Rogue and The Deportations Have Started.

So we have this report, quoting California Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León: And this report: And this report:

Friday, February 10, 2017

Review: James Kwak's *Economism*

(Review also posted at Goodreads. If you want to buy a copy, I recommend powells.com or your local bookstore.)

A well-argued debunking of the ideology of free markets, perfect competition, and rational actors, the book explains how these have become the excuses for cruel policies leading to the impoverishment of the overwhelming majority in the USA. The book is deceptively simple in its organization: the first chapters is an overview of the book's argument, the second explains the economistic (Econ 101) model of markets and the third covers the marketing of the model. Following chapters explode, with data, economism as applied to the minimum wage, taxation, health care, the mortgage market, and international trade. The last is a summary and prospect.

The short-short summary here is that an oversimplified model of economic behavior and outcomes has become the excuse for policies which impoverish the vast majority of Americans and much of the world. When politicians say that raising the minimum wage makes people poorer, that is an economistic argument, and the data does not support it. When they say that taxation invariably decreases overall wealth, that is an economistic argument, and the data does not support it. And so on.

It is a short simple book, and the text is within the reach of any literate adult. The footnotes carry you into the economic literature, and that is not so accessible, but that is the point of such a book; to make economic conclusions and data available to the literate public without extensive study.

It's a quietly written, rather academic book — the author is a law professor — but that is, in many ways, its strength. Instead of being a loud blatant polemic, it quietly destroys the intellectual underpinnings of US economic policy since Reagan.

Recommended.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Trump is the death of dreams

Finally saw Hidden Figures tonight (and you should, too.) It’s a great and inspirational movie.

But my cynical self was left with great grief. There was a time when dreaming big dreams was part of the USA and that’s gone. I am thinking of a button with Donald Trump’s duck tail and the legend, “For this we gave up the earth and sky?” Because likely we will. This administration wants to shut down NASA’s earth sciences program because it produces evidence of climate change and ecological destruction. What will be left of NASA after all the cuts and most of the research funding is gone will not be much. Those labs and their staffs took generations to build. If they are shut down, it will not be possible to rebuild them without the kind of investment that we do not make any more.

Now, compared to surviving, this is perhaps not a big deal. We are going to have to fight just to prevent World War III and keep health care for our citizens. But the heart dies without dreams.

Trump is the death of dreams.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

They will know, part 4

(in answer to Doug's remarks over at Balloon Juice, on a Democratic mayor's fear of too much protest.)

"They will know, and they will never trust you again."

And so with the centrist Democratic officials; the moderates at Balloon Juice no longer believe them. The Democrats have been losing since they received a crushing defeat from Reagan back in1980. Moderate Democratic elected officials, like Seattle's mayor Murray, just wanted the normal business of politics: policy negotiation and the business of governance. They went along and got along. But it was unequal; the Democrats gave ground and kept giving ground, until they were reduced to a few strongholds, and now they have lost everything. They're still trying, too. We have Democratic Senators voting to approve Trump's awful Cabinet appointees. Not going to work; they will get no concessions.

They will know, and they will never trust you again, part 3

(In answer to the woman who complained that I was racist in pointing out the lying to the people had a lot to do with the failure of the Democratic Party. Slightly edited for reposting.)

The unemployment rates of people of color and women skyrocketed after the crash of 2008. They were also among those hurt worst by mortgage fraud and failed foreclosure policy.

Don’t go sneering at people who want an honest wage for an honest days work. That contempt is part of the problem. The coal miners do not deserve your contempt. More efforts ought to have been made on the miners behalf, both in finding other employment and in safety, and neither party did so.

Since Buckley both major parties have increasingly relied on funding from the very wealthy. Will you deny it? Part of the job of a candidate became fundraising, and this meant that candidates spent a great deal of time listening to the sources of funding. It also enormously cramped the ability of politicians to appeal to voters who were not wealthy. Candidates couldn’t promise people better wages, a pro-employment policy, or better banking regulation without risking their campaign funding and, ultimately, their jobs.

When the crisis came, when we desperately needed to break up the big banks, return the bankruptcy system to something that allowed an honorable fresh start, and resolve the mortgage crisis in favor of the people whose homes were at risk, neither party was willing to do it — all those connections with money paid off for the money. People were put out of their homes and left unemployed for years. Would you trust a ruler who allowed that? Why?

In the end, the Democrats had no credibility left with what you might call the working class. Now, people in New York who knew Trump knew how he treated the “working class.” I am one handshake away from 10 people he stiffed. Everyone in building in New York City knows he is a giant fraud. The reports are legion. But the public is poor at seeing the lesser evil and the Democrats, for whatever reason, didn’t attack him on that. Trump had credibility with the rest of the country and that helped make the difference.

Clinton lost the election to sexism, racism, bad press, and bad luck. But in the longer term the Democratic Party tried to serve both Mammon and the people, and that turned out not to be possible.

And, damn, go reread Clinton’s “Two Baskets” remarks. She had, by that point, got it. But it was too late.

They will know, and they will never trust you again, part 2

(This was written in comments to someone who is determined to believe that the Democrats did nothing wrong in past 30 years as they lost the country outside of major urban areas. She decided I was a racist.)

And so it is. There are too many people who were thrown out of their homes and into long-term unemployment in the last administration, which all the while claimed to be for the “working class” or “people” or whatever. You can’t message these things away; these were concrete things which people will remember for the rest of their lives. It was the same during the William Clinton administration, though the pain was less and mostly on the poor and African-Americans.

In the clinch, when it came time to turn out the voters, slight majorities voted for someone who at least promised to do something for them in concrete terms.

And maybe Sanders could have won. Maybe. Or maybe the two-foot shelf of Republican oppo research would have done him in.

I think most of the argument blames the wrong things for the loss of the last election. The immediate causes were sexism, racism, bad press (Comey!), and bad luck. But in the previous administration the Democrats didn’t deliver on major things and people knew. You complain that the Republicans prevented them? Perhaps. But where were the arrests of bankers? Why did the Democrats not make a big loud show and embarrass the Republicans? But the Democrats couldn’t; they would have had to go against the huge amount of money that puts them in office. Instead, they quietly rolled over, just as they are rolling over now as Trump guts the government. Oh, they’re talking a better game. But why are any of Trump’s cabinet nominees getting through? (The DeVos nomination has just been passed out of the committee. Why couldn’t the Democrats have denied the Republicans a committee quorum on every nominee?) Why aren’t the Democrats fighting tooth and nail every step of the way? If ever there was a time to do it, it is now.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Dodging Bullets: Stochastic Terrorism and the Trump Administration

It is not widely known that the Reichstag fire was most likely set in an act of stochastic terrorism. The Communists of the period put about the story that it was set by the Nazis in Braunbuch über Reichstagsbrand und Hitler-Terror, The brown book of the Hitler terror and the burning of the Reichstag, but this has never been proven. It could even, ironically, have been set by the Communists, just as the Nazis claimed.

In any event the young Communist Marinus van der Lubbe was executed for setting the fire. Historians mostly believe he was guilty. He had a history of arson and there is no reliable evidence he acted in concert with anyone else. The Nazis followed his act of terrorism with a crackdown, and that was the end of freedom and democracy in Germany for the next decade, and the beginning of the path to World War II in Europe.

It is entirely possible that some Muslim or some Trump opponent will undertake an act of terrorism, either against Trump himself or against some hated representative of the administration, and provide the excuse for the Trump administration to crack down and start a war in the Middle East. We are literally dodging bullets.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Morning After the Coup

And when they come for you, who will you call for aid, when all voices have been silenced?

“The Department of Homeland Security says a New York court order temporarily barring the U.S. from deporting people from nations subject to President Donald Trump’s travel ban will not affect the overall implementation of the White House executive action.” — CBS News

“Senior Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway said in an interview Sunday morning that a federal judge's ruling ‘really doesn't affect’ the President's executive order banning refugees and immigrants from certain countries from entering the United States.” — TPM

“White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said in an interview Sunday that the response to President Donald Trump's signing of an executive order banning refugees and immigrants from certain countries from entering the U.S. ‘wasn't chaos’ and that he would ‘apologize for nothing.’” — TPM

“President Trump's executive order reorganizing the National Security Council removed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Director of National Intelligence as regular members of the principals committee and added former Breitbart News Executive Chairman and now Presidential Counselor Steve Bannon.” — TPM

“For political and moral reasons, it is important to remember that very little of what the President is now doing is possible without a compliant Congress.” — TPM

To sum up: the White House and the Department of Homeland Security are refusing to comply with a court order. The white nationalist Steven Bannon has been elevated to the National Security Council and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Director of National Intelligence have been removed.

It’s a coup.

Trump's less-expensive, more-effective health plan is possible

Either Medicare for All or the ACA with a public option and more regulation would do it.

Hunh.

Friday, January 27, 2017

They will know, and they will never trust you again

“In the meantime, the task is much harder: you must tell them the truth. You cannot lie to the working class, James, not even once. They will know, and they will never trust you again. Lie to the bourgeoisie all you want, because they will hear only what they wish, and to the aristocracy, because they will not hear at all, and certainly to the government, the organ of the other two. But never to the working class.” — fictional Fredrich Engels, Steven Brust and Emma Bull, Freedom and Necessity

Which, I think, explains the failure of the Democratic party's centrist wing and the success of Bernie Sanders.

(Freedom and Necessity is possibly the only pagan Marxist Victorian fantasy romance novel ever. Used copies are cheap. Recommended.)

Friday, January 20, 2017

A Strange Inauguration

That was bizarre. Trump gave a version of his stump speech to an uncrowded mall, and he used the words, "American First," which was the cry of Americans opposed to US entry into World War II, while neo-nazi David Duke applauded on Twitter.

Even Trump's supporters don't seem happy. Oh, I'm sure there are some who are jubilant. But most stayed home. What's your problem, guys? You won. You're going to get what you want. Why aren't you happy about it?

…or perhaps it is dawning that you didn't win, after all.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

On the Disaster That Will Be the Trump Administration

(First draft was written in response to a John Scalzi post.)

Mostly, we need courage and fortitude. I think most commentators here underestimate how bad it can get, and how fast. Hyperinflation, mass unemployment, hunger, disease, these were all things good government shielded us from for 60 years. A Trump administration might bring any or all of them back.

We can fight domestic disasters, but if, for instance, the fascist faction of the Trump administration succeeds in breaking up the European Union (http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/trump-has-a-plan-to-break-up-the-eu), or they default on the national debt or adopt other disastrous economic policies (http://adviceunasked.blogspot.com/2016/12/econodisaster-ahoy.html), or the extensive cuts in government spending and employment (http://thehill.com/policy/finance/314991-trump-team-prepares-dramatic-cuts) that Trump promises lead to an economic collapse, there is little we can do.

As far as health care, I am now a supporter of states rights. (https://www.balloon-juice.com/2017/01/18/1332-juiced-up/) For you people in red states my thoughts and prayers are with you, because that is all I have to offer you.