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.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Democrats on the ACA: Compromising After They Have Won?

Just called Senator Cantwell's (D-WA) office to thank her for her work in helping defeat the ACA. I think, really, that most of the cred goes to Indivisible, but the Dems did have to stick it out and they did, at least that. And then the staffer said that the Senator would be seeking a bipartisan solution. Hunh? Having been given a victory, are the Dems going to bargain it away?

Cantwell, note, is not a DINO. She's a moderate Democrat from a state with a liberal majority, though one with a strong conservative minority. I don't see that the Republicans are going to accept any compromise that will make the ACA better and anyway they haven't budged in 20 years. Now, maybe the Dems see a chance to break the far-right coalition that dominates the Republican Senate delegation. Maybe. But it sure looks like the Dems are looking for an opportunity to cave after they have won, and I don't understand it.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Anti-fascist Tweets

Stop being so surprised that fascists want to kill people in lingering ways. That's what they do.

“There is evil! It's actual, like cement."—Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle

The Theocrats and the Nazis

Looking back at my political commentary from the past two weeks, I note the following themes:
  1. It's not about the money, it's about the death and suffering. The intention of the Senate health insurance changes, as the bill gets worse and worse, are plainly to first impoverish and then kill people, many in lingering painful ways. The tax cuts are actually being increased, as the pain and suffering grow.
  2. The would-be-founders of the Kingdom of Gilead are champing at the bit, waiting for one of their own to be made President. Trump is a lesser threat than these; he's only nasty-kinky racist and greedy. That lot wants to turn the USA into a theocracy.
  3. We do not believe. Even as it happens, even as it is begun, we do not believe.
Nazi nazi nazi!

Friday, July 14, 2017

To Republican Senators: You Will Be Asked To Kill More People

Having gone along with your leadership in their efforts to cull the unfit, you will be asked to do more. Do not think that they will stop there; the hunger for death and destruction is in command and more will be asked of you. Stop. Now. Or go down in history as participants in atrocity. If you are religious, and most of you profess to be so, consider that the judgement of your God is likely to be as harsh as the judgement of history. Do not do this. Do not do this. Do not do this.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Trump Falls: Then What?

So, all right, we defeat the latest awful Republican health plan. And then Trump resigns, is impeached, dies in office, something.

So then it is President Pence, his VP pick approved by Congress (Cruz? Ryan?), and the Congressional Republicans, trying to create the Kingdom of Gilead.

What will we be fighting? What policies they will propose? What side of the battle various government departments and agencies fall? Where does the military land?

And how will we fight them? If we need to prepare for pitched battles, that is different from the long slow legislative and legal grind.

Is anyone thinking about this? Anyone?

The Next Enemy: The Kingdom of Gilead

So, all right, we defeat the latest awful Repulican health plan. And then Trump resigns, is impeached, dies in office, something. So then it is President Pence, his VP pick, and the Congressional Republicans, trying to create the Kingdom of Gilead.

How do we fight it?

Trump and the Republicans: Use Your Imagination

It really seems to me that many fail of imagination in thinking about Trump and the Republicans. There are so many people watching in horror as they realize that it was custom that prevented Congress and the President from doing horrible things, and realizing that, yes, they can do that. People, people. We need to use our imagination and think ahead of these bastards.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Other Factions: The Donald Trump Junior Revelations

(Tweets, perhaps to be replaced with something more substantial when I have more time.)

Russia isn't the only enemy of US democracy here. I think the US christo-fascist faction (McConnell, Kochs, Ryan) is likely to take advantage of the chaos to install their own President, Michael Pence. We need to remember that our strategic goal is to defend US democracy, not just defeat Trump and the Russians.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Tweets: Bad King Trump, Sanders Compromise, IT security, and Alaska Nazis

He's compromising. That's part of the job. Sanders has made a career of staking out radical positions and then getting the best compromise he can. There's nothing hypocritical about a politician being politic. I expected that his own supporters would be unhappy with Sanders compromising. I did not expect he was going to be criticized by Clinton supporters for doing what they want! Clinton supporters, you have won this one. Don't complain about it.

On Sarah Palin's "14 words" (white supremacist tweet): I hate Alaska Nazis.

I thought it said going to go down with stories about bad kings, myself. With added history about what happens to countries betrayed by a faction of their leadership. Why are most Republican elected officials on board? They must know the history of treason for political ends – certainly Gingrich does. Do they think they will all escape the consequences of their actions?

The Princess sits on the throne for a moment. Mr. Pierce, why haven't more people noticed that Trump thinks and acts like a monarch?

The central problem here, in my view, is the overall insecurity of US civilian IT infrastructure. It is the job of the NSA to secure it, yet this does not seem to have been done. Not expecting leadership from the Trump administration on this issue.