Trump Horcruxes: The Prescience of Pop Culture

So we found a Trump horcrux in Ukraine. Trump has created lots of horcruxes but they have been really hard to uncover. The Mueller Report is full of Trump horcruxes defended by the evil magic of William of Barr. Trump’s bank account is full of the proceeds of Trump’s emoluments horcruxes. We cannot destroy these horcruxes because they are protected by Trump’s arcane knowledge of how to tie his business up in the courts until his forget spell works. Anyone who pays attention to popular culture knows what happens if you only destroy one of many horcruxes. Damage is done but Trump will survive. As long as there were still horcruxes for Harry Potter, et al to find and destroy, the damage to magic grew greater. So as long as Trump’s horcruxes go undestroyed danger to our Constitution will grow ever greater. 

But once we find a horcrux we need the Senate to destroy the horcrux, except that this Senate is not loyal to the House, to Congress, to ‘we the people’; it is loyal to Trump, as Voldemort’s cult members were loyal to him. How many horcruxes will we have to find and send to the Senate for them to destroy before the Senate will remember that it did not take an oath to uphold whatever crimes a President gets up to. How long will it take the Senate to see that this is a really corrupt path to power. How long will it take Republicans in the Senate to remember that Senators take an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America. 

Now that we found Trump’s first horcrux, if the Senate does not destroy it, what will be the damage to the Constitution? Will it be damaged enough to give Trump absolute authority as long as he is President? Will it be damaged enough to allow Trump to declare himself President for Life, a title he is obviously enamored of? How far will the Senate go? How will it benefit the Senate (Republicans) to nullify our founding documents? They seem to think it will benefit them a lot, that Trump is ticking off the points on their wish list for things like small government and beating down the Democratic Party. They don’t mind if he rips off the government for personal gain because they have done the same. They might wish he was a bit better at keeping his crimes on the down-low, but when the Democrats are upset it makes them happy. Universal wisdom usually tells us to “follow the money.” But there is so much more than just money at stake here. All we have to do is follow the smell of rot. Photo Credit: Popular Mechanics

Trump, the Senate, and Impeachment

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – The Senate by The Atlantic

Will the Senate of the United States of America let Trump micromanage his own impeachment trial? Since the Senate majority is in the hands of the Republican Party and since the Republican Party is in Trump’s pocket it looks like that is exactly what will happen. Trump is already trying to set the Senate rules for how his impeachment trial will be conducted. 

But the Republican Party, wants desperately to stay in power, even as it lost the popular vote for president in the last six elections. The party has been plotting for over a decade to arrange voting in America so that, as the GOP becomes the party of the minority, it will be able to stay in the majority in state governments and in, at least, the Senate. Tons of energy, hours of meetings, documents full of thousands of words, and millions and billions of dollars have been spent on ginning up a base that would reliably vote for Republicans, without weighing the candidates, just along the party line. Republicans have been very successful, and Donald Trump did not even help the Senate achieve its current position. America’s election maps have been looking redder and redder as Democrats are confined to coastal cities and larger inland urban centers. 

The Senate is unique because every state gets equal representation. Every state gets two senators regardless of population. Top five states (California, 40 m., Texas, 30 m., Florida, 21 m., NY, 19.5 m, Penn., 12.8 m) get two senators each. Bottom five ( S. Dakota, 882 K, No. Dakota, 786 K, Alaska, 737 K, Vermont, 626 K, Wyoming, 578 K) also get two senators each. This math which made sense to the founders, half of whom were farmers, makes plenty of sense to modern Republicans since they had already had influence in rural states through Evangelicals, media, and a Republican campaign to collect state governorships and legislatures to help them enact their small-government-privatize-everything agenda. The Republicans have a pretty fair hold on the Senate and it may be difficult to flip it. (We shall see.)

And although the Senate has mostly done Trump’s business, it is not only in Trump’s interests but also in the interests of Republicans to stuff the courts with conservatives. The Senate has defied Trump a few times, especially on issues of foreign policy, sanctions, etc. Trump has already tried to sideline the House of Representatives by refusing to offer any documents to assist the House in their lawful investigations and to prevent government employees from testifying. The grand jury documents from the Mueller investigation have still not been made available to the House. It was obviously a big mistake to not get a special prosecutor, a mistake to conduct the Mueller investigation under the auspices of the Justice Department (although who knew an AG would ever become so partisan).

The Republicans have already almost turned over the Senate to Trump. Are they actually going to let Trump run his own impeachment trial? Are they, despite all their hard work to turn the Senate into a Republican stronghold, going to fix the impeachment trial, make it just a show trial, and give their last stronghold to Trump? I must admit I am astonished. I’m not so surprised that they are treating the Constitution with so little respect, or that they are Trump fanatics, but I am surprised that the Senate will give up its Article I power to the president, will bargain away their hard-won and very useful position of power for this term-limited guy, a move that could affect them in perpetuity. If the Democrats can put up a fight, it is difficult to believe that the Senate will just knuckle under to an imperious president who only acknowledges the Senate as long as it is full of spineless sycophants.

White Power: Driving Force for Republicans – Revised

From a Google Image Search – NBC News

White Power: Driving Force for Republicans

Could it be that the Great American Divide is about white power? There is a lot of evidence that this may be exactly the case. This is an undercurrent in Republican politics that we should be aware of because it turns one faction of Christianity into a secretive lobbying group with an agenda that subverts the Constitution in the name of purifying it. These extra-governmental groups get their power from big money, from savvy manipulation of people’s faith, and, they claim, from God. They have been able to divide America while they carry out a campaign to control politics in Washington and in the states. 

I am reading a book called Shadow Network: Media, Money, and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right by Anne Nelson who is offering evidence that there are long tentacles of connection between American Fundamentalists and the Koch Network, which also includes the DeVos family – and that white supremacy and the supremacy of the Christian religion are the doctrines around which these folks coalesce. Nelson looks at the founding of a group called the Council for National Policy, and at its past presidents who include people from just about every radical conservative group in America. 

“A century earlier the US population was close to 90 percent non-Hispanic white but by 2016 the figure dropped to 60% and was falling steadily.” (pg. 2)

In 1972 Protestants made up 2/3 of the US population, but by 2012 they had dropped to less than half.” (pg. 2)`

“[The men we are speaking of] represented an American past dominated by white Protestant male property owners. They dreamed of restoring a nineteenth century patriarchy that limited the civil rights of women, minorities, immigrants and workers, with no income tax to vex the rich or social safety net to aid the poor.” (Prologue, pg. xiv)

“If the country abided by a clear-cut democratic process, these constituencies, leaning Democratic, would consolidate their power based on majority rule.” (pg. xiv)

“Once Democratic-leaning youth and minorities reached a decisive majority – which could be as early as 2031 – there might be no turning back.” 

Perhaps this explains the conservative meme on the demise of the American nuclear family and the passionate campaign to end birth control and abortion and the constant comments that inform white folks that they are not having enough offspring, which some conservatives are wont to let slip in unguarded moments. (As in, we need more white babies.)

Thomas Edsall

Ross Douthat

Nelson says that “[t]he key players learned how to achieve minority rule through long-term strategies, which they would soon apply to the country as a whole, manipulating the electoral process and reshaping the judiciary.” (pg. 2)

E. J. Dionne, JR. 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/what-unites-trumps-apologists-minority-rule/2019/11/24/152c5d06-0d6c-11ea-97ac-a7ccc8dd1ebc_story.html

“Two questions are asked again and again: How can white evangelical Christians continue to support a man as manifestly immoral as President Trump? And how can congressional Republicans refuse to condemn Trump’s thuggish effort to use taxpayer money to intimidate a foreign leader into helping his reelection campaign?”

“The answer to both relates to power — not just the power Trump now enjoys but also to the president’s faithfulness to a deal aimed at controlling American political life for a generation or more. Both evangelicals and Republican politicians want to lock in their current policy preferences, no matter how much the country changes or how sharply public opinion swings against them. As a party, the GOP now depends on empowering a minority over the nation’s majority.”

“Still, voter suppression and the electoral college (along with partisan gerrymandering) are not foolproof. There is, however, one part of government entirely immune from the results of any particular election: the lifetime appointees to federal judgeships, beginning with the U.S. Supreme Court. And here is where Trump has delivered big time for those willing to let him do just about anything else.”

“But white evangelicals turn out to be the premier pragmatists of U.S. politics, as the historian Matthew Avery Sutton argued last week in The Post’s “Made by History” section. They know they are losing ground in public opinion on issues such as same-sex marriage. An older group than the country as a whole, they are also in demographic decline as our nation grows more ethnically, racially and religiously diverse.

“The best defense evangelicals have against the new majority is control of the courts, which Trump is giving them. Everything else is negotiable, or ignorable.

The courts also matter to Republican economic elites alarmed by the growing support, even among political moderates, for higher taxes on the wealthy and limits on corporate power. Conservative judges are rather solicitous toward the interests of property and have historically limited the regulatory reach of government’s democratically elected branches. No wonder Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has turned the Senate — where, by the way, the most diverse and populous states are underrepresented — into an assembly line sped up to confirm right-wing judges as quickly as possible.”

“There is nothing new about established conservative interests trying to limit democracy’s reach, as a student of mine, Humza Jilani, helpfully reminded me last week in discussing his thesis topic. What ought to disturb us now is how far evangelical conservatives and Republicans (and let’s honor the Never Trumper exceptions) are willing to go to defend Trump’s indefensible behavior because they are entirely complicit in his minority-rule project.”

In Shadow Network Anne Nelson tells us that Paige Patterson and Paul Pressler, outraged when the Supreme Court ended public school prayer, met in March of 1967, to discuss this and other matters and to come up with an organized response which would eventually become the Council for National Policy. Southern Baptists figured prominently in these events. Jerry Falwell was also in the loop. Paul Weyrich would become one of the architects of the CNP. “According to journalist David Grann’s account in the New Republic, Weyrich’s idea for a conservative network arose in Washington one day in 1969. In 1970 Weyrich cofounded The Heritage Foundation, the Republican Study Committee, and ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council which become the building blocks of the Council for National Policy.”

Since this movement involved the church there was already a network of Christian radio stations all across America. “Over time the media empire has expanded its reach into Fox News operations and grown to include fundamentalist television broadcasting, digital platforms, book publishing, and feature film production.” (pg. xv)

“ The ‘wallpaper effect’ of wraparound media can have a powerful effect,” says Nelson. (pg. xvi)

“The CNP set its sights on the Republican Party” (pg. xvii)

Nelson goes on to say, “the movement has also appropriated a vocabulary that it redeploys with Orwellian flair. ‘Family’ is a code word for homophobic, and ‘defense of marriage’ means prohibition of same sex unions…” (pg. xvii) hardly surprising to most of us.

Once we are versed in the history of the CNP and related organizations such as the Leadership Institute, the Federalist Society, the Heritage Foundation, Tea Party Patriots and many more on the right, Anne Nelson begins to delineate the connections of this fundamentalist network with the Koch brothers and their network of organizations mostly connected to the oil and gas industry, very important in the states the CNP grew up in. The most famous Koch organizations include Americans for Prosperity and Donors Trust. 

I began to be aware that what was going on in the federal government and in the states was not business-as-usual sometime around 2013 when the scope of Republican obstructionism in Congress became too obvious to ignore. Saying that you plan to make Obama a one term president was a bit abstract, but the use of the filibuster and the Hastert rule to bring legislation to a virtual standstill was pretty concrete. Ted Cruz reading Green Eggs and Ham may have amused some Americans, but I found it snarky and disrespectful. Refusing to raise the debt ceiling, shutting down the government – all these actions began to look planned, strategic, ways to prevent the majority party from governing. And of course, I was not the only one who noticed. 

I’m not sure the connection to white supremacy was as clear in those years as it is today but actions like defusing the Voting Rights Act to end preclearance for Jim Crow states began to offer us a strong suspicion that white supremacy was not dead and gone in these United States. Voter ID’s, getting rid of convenient polling places and polling times and other anti-voting moves that would be likely to most affect minorities, or would echo techniques previously used to suppress minority votes, brought issues of racism back to the forefront, as did the events that precipitated the Black Lives Matter movement. And Charlottesville.

Journalists started to connect the dots among the various conservative and fundamentalist organizations that had sprung up like pernicious weeds in a garden that was unattended. In 2013 a group called Muckety traced the web of the Koch brothers influence (along with other wealthy conservative political families). Anne Nelson, finally in 2019, does her more exhaustive analysis of these groups whose goals are to steer American politics inevitably in such a way that white power will stay in charge in America regardless of what changes we see in our population.

by Muckety via Daily Kos

Small wonder how we end up with someone like Steven Miller, the merchant of white supremacy (renamed white nationalism) by the side of a president who the Republicans will not touch, because he is busy preserving the white America they have been manipulating Americans to want for an astonishing 50 years. 

Washington Post

https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-creepy-racist-network-behind-trump-aide-stephen-miller

Republicans don’t blink when Trump tells Americans that Muslims are terrorists and that people from south of the border are gang members. After several terrorist bombings in America, (after 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombings and more), after exaggerating MS-13 presence in America, it is pretty easy to understand why people believe the white supremacist activities of this administration are protecting them. The Muslim ban and the Wall calm Americans’ terror of these new immigrants that people have been incited to fear, who are so different from European immigrants of previous migrations. 

There is some truth to the fear. If we accept Muslim immigrants some of them could be terrorists. If we give sanctuary to people from South America or Central America some of them could be gang members. But stoking fear of these groups is wrong, it is un-American, it over-generalizes, and, because it relies on Europe to deal with the upheaval driving Muslims into Europe all on its own, it will eventually create massive anti-American sentiment in Europe if these policies outlast Trump. Europe seems to be cutting us some slack for Trump. Can we save ourselves from economic chaos in South America by building a wall? Probably not for long. 

As it turns out this is not really about immigration at all and we instinctively knew this; it is about white supremacy; it is about preserving white power. It is about wealth and who gets to keep it. It is about old energy and holding the line. It is the antithesis of globalization which would attempt to see that we all try to understand each other and get along as best we can to offer a life that meets the needs of people everywhere on the planet. 

It is about change, an end to white hegemony, and it is so frightening to some that they are willing to destroy our democracy to keep the status quo in America. The Republicans are part of this strategic program to keep America white and Christian and that has everything to do with why they back a guy like Trump who is not afraid to cozy up to white supremacists to get it done (and who insists at the same time that he is doing nothing of the kind). This is not about the base, although heaven knows they need their base. This is about white male Christian power; it is about a minority finding ways to continue to exercise power over a new majority.

Can the left come up with an equally strategic plan to counteract this right wing cabal, to peacefully wend a way to inclusion, to lifting up those who will be affected by climate shifts, and inventing a new more equitable economy? 

From a Google Image Search – Newsday

I also am  in the midst of reading the Frederick Douglass biography, Frederick Douglass, Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight. Douglass began his life in America as a slave but he taught himself to read, write, and speak at great hazard as reading and writing were forbidden to slaves. Once he escaped north he became a tireless member and leader in the abolitionist movement. David Blight describes Frederick Douglass’s impatience  with Lincoln in 1862. Douglass was waiting for Lincoln to emancipate the slaves and to allow them to fight on the Union side in the Civil War. Lincoln had dissenters to appeal to and perhaps that explains why he dithered. Perhaps it explains why the government in Washington pushed colonization along with freedom. Slaves who wished to be sent to found a colony, perhaps in Central America would be freed. Frederick Douglass felt that American slaves belonged in America. It was now the nation they called home. They should not be uprooted again because white people did not accept black folks as equals. 

Douglass says “If men may not live peaceably together in the same land, they cannot so live on the same continent, and ultimately on the same world -If heterogeneity could not work in America where could it. If the black man cannot find peace from the aggressions of the white race on this continent,” he reasoned, “he will not be likely to find it permanently on any part of the habitable globe.” (pg.375)

Here is General Montgomery Blair on the subject (responding to a letter Douglass had written to Senator Pomeroy), “Blair sought to assure Douglass that there ‘was no question of superiority or inferiority involved in the proposed removal.’ Blair invoked the reputation of Thomas Jefferson to underscore the necessity of racial separation. The minority race, argued Blair, must go elsewhere to initiate the civilization established by the majority race: the propriety of colonization stemmed from the differences between them…and it seems as obvious to me as it was to…the mind of Jefferson that the opinion against which you protest, is the necessary result of indelible differences made by the Almighty.” (pg. 375-76) 

So brother fought brother in a deadly Civil War and when it ended the union of states remained together, but the racial animosity also remained. Obviously there are white Americans who still feel superior to anyone with darker skin, anyone who cannot trace their history to Europe. 

Will our democracy, born in a crucible of racism, be able to survive into a brave new tolerant future? It is not looking good.

Talking to Chuck Todd About Impeachment

From a Google Image Search – Esquire

At least half of America has watched Donald Trump, our president, sworn to uphold the US Constitution, abuse our nation’s laws and act as if the Constitution needs to be rewritten according to Trumpian requirements. We have watched Trump call the media “the enemy of the people” except for any media outlets that refuse to call out his lawlessness, who praise and appease him. We have watched him hire and fire people until he found someone who he felt could be absolutely loyal to him. And these people are only there on sufferance because as soon as they defy him in any way they will also be gone. Almost all the top people on Trump’s 2016 campaign committee are in jail which suggests that the only reason Trump is not in jail is because he is the president. Now that he has William Barr as his AG, the Justice Department has been coopted and will no longer deliver justice for we the people and Trump’s power seems formidable. William Barr believes a president’s power is absolute, that patriotism requires unquestioning loyalty to the Chief Executive and that he cannot be indicted or even investigated as long as he is president. We know this is against the entire concept of our republic, we know this gives permission to monarchy or autocracy. 

We are fairly certain that Russia interfered more deeply than usual in the 2016 election by spreading disinformation and that they used data about the Democrats that they had hacked from the DNC to help Trump’s team plan election strategy. We can’t be absolutely certain because of presidential obstruction, Justice Department obstruction, and obstruction by the Republicans in Congress. We can’t be absolutely certain because the Grand Jury testimonies, which would normally be made available to Congress, are still being kept secret. These events do not represent business-as-usual in America. And all Trump’s loyal toadies can say is, “Prove it,” while they make very sure that nothing can be proven.

So, yes, Chuck Todd, we do have many more reasons to impeach this president than the Democrats are citing in their Impeachment Report, but we can’t prove them. However, for once Democrats caught Trump making a boo-boo. He lost his deniability. His coded language was not coded well enough. On the telephone with the new Ukrainian president Zelensky, he happened to say, “I need you to do me a favor though.” This request perked up a number of ears of a number of staffers, both in the White House and abroad. This single sentence reeks of bribery even if it could not be proven that $400,000 in military aid was withheld to make sure the fix was in. And all Trump expected to get from this was dirt on a political opponent. It had nothing to do with American foreign policy. He did not need to win anything for the American people. And no matter how many times Trump says it was about Ukrainian corruption, Trump was the corrupt actor in this affair. 

Even when Trump forbade testimony from his toady-peeps, America’s civil servants defied the prohibition and came forward. And while the deliberately obvious activities of Rudy Giuliani, who was all over Ukraine supposedly doing one piece of legitimate business while he was actually involved in extortion and bribery on behalf of the president, have been harder to pin down, they certainly look awful (because they are). They look clandestine and lawless to us because a personal lawyer for a president has no place in conducting the foreign affairs of this nation unless Congress is also involved, and Congress was not involved. So on this one unconstitutional presidential scheme, Trump has slipped up and he has been caught and people are willing to testify to that. 

Chuck Todd says that this is rinky-dink. He scoffs at the Democrats all the time for being too timid and he is doing that very same thing now. He is doing it tonight after the Impeachment Report has been written, when a vote will be taken. He says that the Democrats should have waited until they could get the goods on everything Trump has done that puts our democracy/republic in danger of becoming something our forefathers tried to protect it from, the plaything of a monarch or a dictator. The Democrats should wait and play hardball until they can go really big.

Well that would be very nice, Chuck Todd, but given the obstacles Democrats face; Trump, the toadies, the Justice Department, the State Dept., the Senate firmly in the hands of Republicans probably for the foreseeable future, the lawyers who back Trump’s claims of “executive privilege” and who suddenly claim absolute power for the executive; and a president whose whole life taught him how to get away with small crimes by using mafia magic, I don’t think piling on is helpful. The Democrats are being demonized by everyone who is not a Democrat and even some people who are. When the media piles on in a situation like this they do the work of the devil. Do Democrats have to stop at one Impeachment? Can’t they go again and again if they can get the goods?

White Power: Driving Force for Republicans

From a Google Image Search – NBC News

White Power – Driving Force for Republicans

Could it be that the Great American Divide is about white power? There is a lot of evidence that this may be exactly the case. I am reading the Frederick Douglass biography, Frederick Douglass, Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight. Douglass began his life in America as a slave but he taught himself to read, write, and speak at great hazard as reading and writing were forbidden to slaves. Once he escaped north he became a tireless member and leader in the abolitionist movement. David Blight describes Frederick Douglass’s impatience  with Lincoln in 1862. Douglass was waiting for Lincoln to emancipate the slaves and to allow them to fight on the Union side in the Civil War. Lincoln had dissenters to appeal to and perhaps that explains why he dithered. Perhaps it explains why the government in Washington pushed colonization along with freedom. Slaves who wished to be sent to found a colony, perhaps in Central America, would be freed. Frederick Douglass felt that American slaves belonged in America. It was now the nation they called home. They should not be uprooted again because white people did not accept black folks as equals. 

Douglass says “If men may not live peaceably together in the same land, they cannot so live on the same continent, and ultimately on the same world -If heterogeneity could not work in America where could it. If the black man cannot find peace from the aggressions of the white race on this continent,” he reasoned, “he will not be likely to find it permanently on any part of the habitable globe.” (pg.375)

Here is General Montgomery Blair on the subject (responding to a letter Douglass had written to Senator Pomeroy), “Blair sought to assure Douglass that there ‘was not question of superiority or inferiority involved in the proposed removal.’ Blair invoked the reputation of Thomas Jefferson to underscore the necessity of racial separation. The minority race, argued Blair, must go elsewhere to initiate the civilization established by the majority race: the propriety of colonization stemmed from the differences between them…and it seems as obvious to me as it was to…the mind of Jefferson that the opinion against which you protest, is the necessary result of indelible differences made by the Almighty.” (pg. 375-76) 

So brother fought brother in a deadly Civil War and when it ended the union of states remained together, but the racial animosity also remained. There are white Americans who still feel superior to anyone with darker skin, anyone who cannot trace their history to Europe. 

I am also reading a book called Shadow Network: Media, Money, and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right by Anne Nelson who is offering evidence that there are long tentacles of connection between American Fundamentalists and the Koch Network, which also includes the DeVos family, and that white supremacy and the supremacy of the Christian religion are the doctrines around which these folks coalesce. Nelson looks at the founding of a group called the Council for National Policy, and at its past presidents who include people from just about every radical conservative group in America. 

“A century earlier the US population was close to 90 percent non-Hispanic white but by 2016 the figure dropped to 60% and was falling steadily.” (pg. 2)

In 1972 Protestants made up 2/3 of the US population, but by 2012 they had dropped to less than half.” (pg. 2)`

“[The men we are speaking of] represented an American past dominated by white Protestant male property owners. They dreamed of restoring a nineteenth century patriarchy that limited the civil rights of women, minorities, immigrants and workers, with no income tax to vex the rich or social safety net to aid the poor.” (Prologue, pg. xiv)

“If the country abided by a clear-cut democratic process, these constituencies, leaning Democratic, would consolidate their power based on majority rule.” (pg. xiv)

“Once Democratic-leaning youth and minorities reached a decisive majority – which could be as early as 2031 – there might be no turning back.” 

Perhaps this explains the conservative meme on the demise of the American nuclear family and the passionate campaign to end birth control and abortion and the constant comments that inform white folks that they are not having enough offspring, which some conservatives are wont to let slip in unguarded moments. (As in, we need more white babies.)

Nelson says that “[t]he key players learned how to achieve minority rule through long-term strategies, which they would soon apply to the country as a whole, manipulating the electoral process and reshaping the judiciary.” (pg. 2)

Paige Patterson and Paul Pressler, outraged when the Supreme Court ended public school prayer, met in March of 1967, Nelson learned, to discuss these matters and to come up with an organized response which would eventually become the Council for National Policy. Southern Baptists figured prominently in these events. Jerry Falwell was also in the loop. Paul Weyrich would become one of the architects of the CNP. “According to journalist David Grann’s account in the New Republic, Weyrich’s idea for a conservative network arose in Washington one day in 1969. In 1970 Weyrich cofounded The Heritage Foundation, the Republican Study Committee, and ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council which become the building blocks of the Council for National Policy.

Since this movement involved the church there was already a network of Christian radio stations all across America. “Over time the media empire has expanded its reach into Fox News operations and grown to include fundamentalist television broadcasting, digital platforms, book publishing, and feature film production.” (pg. xv)

“ The ‘wallpaper effect’ of wraparound media can have a powerful effect,” says Nelson. (pg. xvi)

“The CNP set its sights on the Republican Party” (pg. xvii)

Nelson goes on to say, “the movement has also appropriated a vocabulary that it redeploys with Orwellian flair. ‘Family’ is a code word for homophobic, and ‘defense of marriage’ means prohibition of same sex unions…” (pg. xvii) hardly surprising to most of us.

Once we are versed in the history of the CNP and related organizations such as the Leadership Institute, the Federalist Society, the Heritage Foundation, Tea Party Patriots and many more on the right, Anne Nelson begins to delineate the connections of this fundamentalist network with the Koch brothers and their network of organizations mostly connected to the oil and gas industry, very important in the states the CNP grew up in. The most famous Koch organizations include Americans for Prosperity and Donors Trust. 

I began to be aware that what was going on in the federal government and in the states was not business-as-usual sometime around 2013 when the scope of Republican obstructionism in Congress became too obvious to ignore. Saying that you plan to make Obama a one term president was a bit abstract, but the use of the filibuster and the Hastert rule to bring legislation to a virtual standstill was pretty concrete. Ted Cruz reading Green Eggs and Ham may have amused some Americans, but I found it snarky and disrespectful. Refusing to raise the debt ceiling, shutting down the government – all these actions began to look planned, strategic, ways to prevent the majority party from governing. And of course, I was not the only one who noticed. 

I’m not sure the connection to white supremacy was as clear in those years as it is today but actions like defusing the Voting Rights Act to end preclearance for Jim Crow states began to offer us a strong suspicion that white supremacy was not dead and gone in these United States. Voter ID’s, getting rid of convenient polling places and polling times and other anti-voting moves that would be likely to most affect minorities, or would echo techniques previously used to suppress minority votes, brought issues of racism back to the forefront, as did the events that precipitated the Black Lives Matter movement.

Journalists started to connect the dots among the various conservative and fundamentalist organizations that had sprung up like pernicious weeds in a garden that was unattended. In 2013 a group called Muckety traced the web of the Koch brothers influence (along with other wealthy conservative political families). Anne Nelson, finally in 2019, does her more exhaustive analysis of these groups whose goals are to steer American politics inevitably in such a way that white power will stay in charge in America regardless of what changes we see in our population.

Small wonder how we end up with someone like Steven Miller, the merchant of white supremacy (renamed white nationalism) by the side of a president who the Republicans will not touch, because he is busy preserving the white America they have been manipulating Americans to want for an astonishing 50 years. 

Tell Americans that Muslims are terrorists and that people from south of the border are gang members. After several terrorist bombings in America, (after 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombings and more), after exaggerating MS-13 presence in America, it is pretty easy to understand why people believe the white supremacist activities of this administration are protecting them. The Muslim ban and the Wall calm Americans’ terror of these new immigrants that people have been incited to fear, who are so different from European immigrants of previous migrations. 

There is some truth to the fear. If we accept Muslim immigrants some of them could be terrorists. If we give sanctuary to people from South America or Central America some of them could be gang members. But stoking fear of these groups is wrong, it is un-American, it over-generalizes, and, because it relies on Europe to deal with the upheaval driving Muslims into Europe all on its own, it will eventually create massive anti-American sentiment in Europe if these policies outlast Trump. Europe seems to be cutting us some slack for Trump. Can we save ourselves from economic chaos in South America by building a wall? Probably not for long. 

As it turns out this is not really about immigration at all and we instinctively knew this; it is about white supremacy; it is about preserving white power. It is about wealth and who gets to keep it. It is about old energy and holding the line. It is the antithesis of globalization which would attempt to see that we all try to understand each other and get along as best we can to offer a life that meets the needs of people everywhere on the planet. 

It is about change, an end to white hegemony, and it is so frightening to some that they are willing to destroy our democracy to keep the status quo in America. The Republicans are part of this strategic program to keep America white and Christian and that has everything to do with why they back a guy like Trump who is not afraid to cozy up to white supremacists to get it done (and who insists at the same time that he is doing nothing of the kind). This is not about the base, although heaven knows they need their base. This is about white male Christian power; it is about a minority finding ways to continue to exercise power over a new majority.

Can the left come up with an equally strategic plan to counteract this right wing cabal, to peacefully wend a way to inclusion, to lifting up those who will be affected by climate shifts, and to invent a new more equitable economy? Will our democracy, born in a crucible of racism, be able to survive into a brave new tolerant future? It is not looking good.

I Have a Plan for That

From a Google Image Search – NYT

I Have A Plan for That

Why does the Republican base stay so stable? This seems to be the same as the old Tea Party base but reenergized by Trump, Fox News, and the Trump rallies. I once saw a journalist, one of the younger ones, sent out to interview people attending a Trump rally. I don’t remember where the rally was held or even exactly when it was held. The guy being interviewed was probably in his early forties. He said that his life had felt empty, it had no direction, no purpose, but now he felt that he belonged to something (and he looked happy/high). That spirit seems like it might be a difficult thing for the Democratic Party to replicate, since we have no fake news, no network like Fox, and no rallies where our members or our leaders say truly outrageous things about their opponents and get everyone fired up with their snarky chants and their sophomoric insults.

That feeling of belonging is very powerful. I have felt it a few times in my life. It happens with certain groups of people where you just all seem to click, you feel like you have all created a new family from people who are actually unrelated to you. Sometimes this lasts for years, sometimes not so much, but while it lasts the whole universe seems to make sense and life seems to have a center. Of course your actual family can click in this same way. But Trump’s people, with their happy sense of connection, possibly had not experienced that feeling of belonging in some time. It almost endows a certain power which may explain the superiority that many Trumpers seem to express when speaking to those of us on the outside, as if they alone know the truth and the rest of us are so misinformed.

Well I have been noticing those Peloton commercials with the music and the “soul” cycling and I think the answer lies there. Those cyclers have that same goofy glow on their faces after a successful ride as those Trump followers do after a rally. The Democrats could simply gift each and every Trump follower with a Peloton and a membership in the soul cycle group and then they would have a new “family” to pledge their loyalty to. Added perk – they would be getting so healthy!

Photo Credit: Canadian Living

Elise Stefanik, John Katko and a Snowflake in Snow Country

John Katko, Elise Stefanik from Auburnpub.com – Google Image Search

Elise Stefanik, John Katko and a Snowflake in Snow Country

Elise Stefanik showed her allegiance to the Freedom Caucus and Trump at the Impeachment Hearings last week. She showed that she could talk trash to Adam Schiff, who is heading the hearings, but who is a Democrat. She was as disrespectful as those in her party like to be and they have been in Congress for far longer than she has. She proved she could be “one of the boys.” Perhaps she handled the moment when Adam Schiff held her to the process rules in such an unprofessional manner, even though they had been agreed upon in advance, because she is new to her role as a disrupter and she just reacted as the young person she is. But everyone certainly noticed her and she had her 15 minutes of fame, and may it be the only 15 minutes she gets. It is far too simple, if you are Republican, to join the Trump cult and to find yourself unable to disapprove of anything our creative and criminally-minded leader thinks up even if he breaks every rule America tries to live by and every rule Ms. Stefanik has sworn to uphold. 

Elise Stefanik represents the NY 21 district which stretches from the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario (Watertown) over to the Vermont border (Plattsburg), from Albany to the Canadian border. Much of the region is mountainous and rural, sprinkled with a few resorts and tourist spots, a few wealthy suburban enclaves, some farmers, some Amish residents, some colleges, the Adirondack Preserve, and the seat of NY State government. Summers are spent near water and winters are snowy, long, and very cold. Her parents own a successful business and Stefanik has a degree in government from Harvard. She has stuck to her goal to work in government ever since beginning with the Bush 43 administration.

Some of northern NY is very similar to the Rust Belt, with factories that once offered lifelong employment folding or moving elsewhere. It was not obvious before Stefanik was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2014 that many in the north country would be backing Trump in the 2016 election. Although Stefanik said she was a moderate Republican she helped Paul Ryan, a Tea Party favorite, prepare for the 2012 election. She has also worked for two groups, Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Foreign Policy Institute – two organizations that claim to be nonpartisan, a claim that is considered questionable. Since Stefanik’s district abuts mine to the north I knew that she became a Trump backer in the 2016 election. Many people in the north country who do not support Trump have no current local representation in the House since Trump supporters almost never vote with the Democrats.

So here I am, a libtard, a snowflake in snow country, surrounded by Republicans who toe the party line. I have Stefanik in NY 21 and then I have John Katko in NY24. John Katko came to Congress through law enforcement. He worked for the DOJ as a senior trial attorney at the US-Mexican Border (he has a degree in law from SU) and in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and as an assistant US attorney in Syracuse, NY where he helped prosecute gang members. He is a good man, except for the fact that his ideology is old and his law and order approach is currently being questioned. 

Syracuse, NY has popped up in recent research as one of the places in America with the most stubborn pockets of poverty and segregation. Policies pursued in the get-tough-on-crime years have done nothing to change this situation in Syracuse (and many other cities). John Katko has proven to be a hard worker, but inflexible in his belief that tougher is better. He also sees no reasons to work across the aisle although he occasionally votes with Democrats when it suits him. He does not want to listen to other points of view. If you write him he answers, however he says he understands what you are saying but he cannot agree with it and he must vote his conscience (not exactly the way one would expect a representative to think). It is incomprehensible how he can stomach someone like Trump as he is a very straight-arrow Catholic. But his inability to be flexible, both in terms of policy and sociological remedies, is the biggest argument against him. John Katko and Elise Stefanik are both members of a conservative group in the House called Tuesday Group.

So I am living in the midst of one district full of Trump supporters (and Katko has many in the district who agree with him), and I am bordered on the north by another Trump district. I have to hope that Dana Balter will win in NY24 (by magic) and that Tedra Cobb will win in NY21 (she has a bit more financial backing) and it appears that both of these House seats are very unlikely to be overturned in 2020. Slick ads for John Katko have already begun to appear, but I have seen no ads, slick or otherwise, for Democrats. And while I understand the rigor and purity of grassroots funding, I find it almost impossible to accept that it can win a national race in the age of Citizens United.