The Stonewall King of All Time

From a Google Image Search – The Daily Beast, “The Madness of King Trump”

Trump may be having trouble getting his pricey steel wall-that-is-not-a-wall along our Southern border, but he has managed to build a living wall around himself right there in Washington, a wall that can travel with him and for him. Seems a living wall is far more useful and impenetrable than a physical wall. 

The Republicans already had extreme chops as wall builders, building human stonewalls. After all they had the NRA, with Wayne LaPierre at the helm, that madman who inspires fear in gun owners, fear that any regulation amounts to nullification of the Second Amendment rights of American gun owners, as interpreted by right wing nut burgers. Republicans also have that master of stonewalling, Mitch McConnell in the Senate who figured out how to stonewall even when he only led the Minority.

But when the Republicans got Trumped they ended up with the Stonewall King of All Time. He treats our government as his own personal fiefdom and he keeps hiring and firing until he has the perfect Order of Portly Knights and less portly vassals who swear fealty only to him. These people, most often male, not only resemble stone walls but know how to shut down any opposition with an ominous glare, an emphatic no, or a stubborn opacity. William Barr, with the misleading title of Attorney General, is a member of the Order of Portly Knights; so is Mike Pompeo. Mitch McConnel is a loyal vassal, as are all the Republicans in Washington. Did you see Martha McSally snarl as she dismissed one intrepid journalist as a “liberal hack.” It wasn’t pretty,  Martha, I guess being pretty is not your superpower is it? You are a handmaiden to the powerful patriots loyal to KingTrump. 

It is clear when you approach these experts at stonewalling that they will shut you down with a glance or a growl. This is so far from what we expect or have usually encountered in our democracy/republic that we are rendered speechless. These walls are living walls. You can’t climb over them, you can’t tunnel under them. You have to out-strategize them but liberals are not set up to design an effective attack on the fortress that Trump is building. Not only does he have his legitimate government-approved Knights but he owns a posse of less palatable actors that he can use for illegal activities: people like Rudy Giuliani and even the talkative Lev Parnas (no longer recognized as one of the posse), Michael Cohen who believed, to his chagrin, that loyalty went both ways, Paul Manafort and many others – this posse can expand in size when needed. All it takes to win over a member of the posse is to make them think they are included in the inner circle, that they are courtiers with access to the king.

Trump has learned how to bend the courts of the land to his will and he can do whatever he likes as long as he takes it to one court and then another court, locks up judgement in endless appeals and skates back behind his human wall of thuggish knights. Now he is on trial in the Senate, but it is highly likely that he will skate once again because the doors of the courtroom have already closed out anyone who is not a loyal member of the fiefdom, including all those pesky serfs in the neighboring kingdom, those democrats, who are deluded enough to believe that they still have powers they no longer have. Is this what the American Dream has come to? It is the most frustrating thing to have a government run by an entitled bunch of bouncers who think they are knights.

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.

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.

When Winning Means Losing Blame Republicans

From a Google image Search – National Review

The Republican Party sold itself lock, stock, and barrel to the corporations and to the Americans who used the corporate system to become the small class of billionaires who now hoard the largest share of American wealth. Perhaps the GOP got nervous when they saw the factories leaving and sheltering profits elsewhere. It was certainly enough to make us all nervous. They decided to go all-in on deregulation and to reverse environmental rules, things they felt would tempt businesses to return. They focused on robbing unions of their power, and of making people who need government help to live a decent life fearful that the government would no longer be able to pay for a safety net. 

Conservatives and Evangelicals worked together, a bizarre wedding of convenience, once considered unthinkable until Evangelicals rewrote the Bible. The new Evangelical Bible pronounces that the wealthy are rich because they are chosen, because God loves them better than he loves the middle class or the poor. God wants them to live in mansions and own jets and yachts, all the better to convince people who worship other gods that ours is the most powerful. Based on what we all learned in Sunday school this is the exact opposite of what Jesus would do?

Once the people at the base of the party, hoi polloi for sure, but in a democracy numbers are important, formed the Tea Party to parrot the sentiments of the Republican talking points the battle became far more lop-sided. The Republicans, through the careful planning with their wealthy allies now had the tools in place to unseat the Democratic Party, or at least make them powerless. In order to do the biding of their corporate overlords and their newly zombie-ized base they had a list of priorities to take care of. They had to rig the vote so Republicans could hold on to a power they were in danger of losing. They had to deregulate. They had to deny climate change so they could reverse climate laws. They had to constantly remind their base that minorities were about to dominate America and that immigrants were cashing in at the expense of taxpayers. They had to pass that obscene tax cut which made America more top-heavy then ever. They had to demonize the other party. They had to isolate America from our allies and trash the media, make it impossible to tell who was right and who was wrong. They had to pillage the countryside (privatize public lands) and rape the women (get them under their thumbs). 

It has been a masterful plan and with the Democrats subpoenaing documents and witnesses every day and being flatly denied rights that our Constitution clearly assigns to them as the majority in the House of Representatives, with one fell swoop an opposing Party seems to be side-lined and even a little ridiculous, and the American Constitution is violated and rendered obsolete. Even today as Corey Lewandowski finally appears before the House committee, he is under orders from the president to not testify to anything substantive. But Corey Lewandowski never worked in the Trump administration, only the Trump campaign, so the only power Trump has over Lewandowski is that of a mafia godfather. Even with a thug running America the Republicans stick to their master plan and smile the annoying smile of men who consider themselves powerful.

But the Republican Party is living in a fantasy world of their own making. Those factories are perfectly happy where they are. They have no intention of repatriating their dollars unless someone finds a way to make America once again the center of prosperity. You cannot isolate a nation our size in a world full of ships and jets. When the Ebola virus looked like it would cause a pandemic we should have learned this lesson. You can end immigration, you can end tourism, you can end trade (no you can’t, these guys are capitalists) but you cannot guarantee that nothing bad (like 9/11) will ever again happen in America. Even something as tiny as a mosquito could undermine your plan. You can have your righteous snit and pledge that the world will not turn us into a poor nation because we will stop helping poorer nations around the world. If they don’t like us we will take our toys and go home. We will no longer invest dollars in foreign aid to people who apparently hate us. But isolationism and white supremacy and pretending to turn America into a Capitalist Fantasy Park will not work. 

What will work is to invest in America and the American people, to offer training and opportunity, to open the doors once again to immigrants whose striving could energize us all. If we subsidized the American people for a while, if we spend money to make money, we can be an engine of innovation and usher in a new age of prosperity. I think this new prosperity comes through both innovation to save the planet and innovation to leave the planet. If the Republicans succeed, if they “win”, America will lose.

This Republican Decade: Snatching Victory from Jaws of Defeat

From a Google Image Search – WKAR

How have the Republicans – who took us into a war in Iraq under false pretenses, and basically caused the Great Recession – been able to grab so much power in the intervening decade? How did they snatch victory from the jaws of defeat? It isn’t all about backlash to global change. It also may be about a Party that seized a moment and a movement.

It seems as if the Republicans have been obstructing government forever but by the numbers the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress until 2011 (until the election in 2010 actually), then they still had control of the Senate until 2013 when Republicans took control of both houses until 2019.

Of course, we remember that Mitch McConnell swore to obstruct Obama in every way. People like to blame Obama for the Republican’s obstruction saying that he passed the ACA in secrecy in the middle of the night without any Republican votes and that the rest of the obstruction was just payback. But clearly this obstruction was the result of a nexus of Conservative activity by a number of different actors and we know this because every Conservative used the same reasoning right down to the same words. There were no original answers to media questions. Every Conservative had the same talking points reiterated to the same script and it was freaky, bizarre, and in the end, a sign of behind the scenes organizing on a grand scale.

So we ask again, how have the Republicans, who basically caused the Great Recession, been able to grab so much power in the intervening decade? They have done it by being willing to trash norms long accepted as informal protocols and even by boldly forcing Democrats to change rules like the filibuster threshold to try to get anything done. Although Dems technically had the numbers they did not have the 60 votes needed.

It seemed that everything Dems did backfired. When Harry Reid lowered the threshold for the filibuster to a simple majority it set up the future parade of approvals of Conservative judges that are the current daily agenda (and the only agenda) in the Republican-controlled Senate. (It is not like Dems didn’t foresee this possibility but they took the risk anyway for immediate gains.) The Hastert rule took hold in the House where no business hit the floor unless it could pass with all Republican votes.

I contend that Republicans got radicalized by the Tea Party and Talk Radio and Fox News. This is not exactly news. Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh had a rabid audience for their constant propaganda demonizing Obama and the Democrats. Beck and Bill O’Reilly wrote popular books that reinterpreted history from a fairly extreme Conservative viewpoint. It was all a giant mash-up of Koch Brothers pushing Capitalism and fossil fuels, Confederate flags waving on the back of gas-guzzling trucks all over America, the patriotism of arming yourself because the communist, socialists, gangs, immigrants are coming for you. Add in a Fundamentalist interpretation of the Constitution (refight the Federalist papers), Evangelical expectations of the Rapture and a full-throated Biblical approval of rich folks and the Conservative Way. Then there was a pledge made to a Libertarian group (against their duty to the Constitution) to never raise taxes, and a celebration of the audacity of Republicans in Congress who showed their party “purity” by obstructing Dems in ever newer and more creative ways (with good-old-boy grins on their faces).

Today the highs of those giddy days have disappeared and there is just the mean tough slog of a government deadlocked by a Republican Party that no longer has any impetus to be at all bipartisan. They will have their way. The Republicans got to this place, and they also got us to this President Trump who tramples all our norms with impunity.

Dems seem much too polite to dig us out of this hole, but they do have policy on their side and they want to save our Republic. The modern Republican Party has no members in Congress who seem motivated to save the Republic as it was before the Tea Party/Conservative extravaganza. Conservative extremists are so far winning the tug of war to pull the whole nation to the right. But that frightening torch-lit white supremacist show of power in Charlottesville has put a much more serious light on where Conservatives might be planning to take America. 

Progressives may have the energy to pull the nation back towards the left, even if they don’t make it as far left as they would like. If the Dems don’t win, where will four more years of “to the right, to the right” leave us. Perhaps in a dictatorship huddling together in the few places without extreme weather.  

An article in Salon on 6/17/2019 discusses this same question in greater detail.

Republicans and Trump Question Validity of the House of Representatives and the Democratic Party

 

Republicans and Trump Question Validity of the House of Representatives and the Democratic Party (or in GOP speak, the Democrat Party)

The Democrats won enough seats in the House of Representatives in 2016 to become the majority party in that legislative branch of Congress. The GOP still has a majority in the Senate. The Democrats, when they won the House, won the right to conduct investigations of the executive branch. Congress has a vital role to use checks and balances to keep the executive branch from adventures in authoritarianism, such as the ones occurring in the administration of Donald Trump.

Clearly we have in the White House (where the executive branch is housed) a leader who is in serious need of some checks and balances. Just this week that leader, our president said, “Nobody disobeys me.”

This same president refuses to provide the investigations of well-respected committees in the House with his tax and other financial documents which our laws state “shall be turned over upon request”. This president swore an oath to protect and defend the very laws that he is defying. He apparently uses the Constitution as a pack of napkins to mop up from his “happy meal”. He also refuses to let his staff, present or former, testify before any of the House investigative committees. You would think that he might be worried about the optics of such an imperial dictate, but this president doesn’t respect the American people enough to worry about what they think. For him, it is enough that his own followers and his own news outlet will find his exercise of authority strong, rather than dismissive of our laws.

To most of us it appears that Trump ignores the very basis of our republic, that he verbally rewrites the entire power structure that has guided our nation for approximately 240 years by making the executive the branch around which all other branches revolve. However, that is the place in which our forefathers put the Congress. Trump is turning the presidency into an absolutist office served by the rest of the executive branch (including the Justice Department), by the Congress and by the courts. Trump is the “sun” around which the “planets” revolve.

This could be an insurrection of sorts, it could be a coup, it could be treason. America will cross the line from a democratic republic to an autocracy if Trump is able to ignore the Constitution and our laws with impunity, if he is able to ignore the sections of our documents which require him to respect both houses of Congress and all Americans, not just his own party. Presidents being investigated often try to make such an investigation impossible with a number of squirmy strategies. This is not the first Congress to have to corral the powerful. But we have a president who seems to be able to use verbal abuse and victimhood to wiggle out of any negative judgment. How can this man who is so obviously a threat to our democracy/republic have people so loyal they will risk our freedom by their willingness to suspend the rules?

Democrats in the House will fight back, will get subpoenas to take Trump to court, but not if the Senate and Republicans will not honor the powers of the House when Democrats make up the majority. Republicans heckle Democrats, distract by blaming Obama or Hillary or demonizing the Democrats, bringing up old business, sometimes in statements that are blatantly ridiculous, sometimes in ways that send everyone scrambling to fact checkers to recheck claims that have already been proven false many times. If there is a public committee hearing, Republicans act like the boys who used to sit in the back row of the classroom in high school. I think their behavior goes beyond normal antagonism into derision and reflects more poorly on them than on their opponents.

Trump has placed himself in a position where he can stand alone as the “chief obstructer”, because he has sidelined any opposition with his contempt and stubbornness, and has surrounded himself with those who are finally faithful only to him. Has he won control of America? Has he already taken over, or do Democrats still have a chance to turn things around, to make our documents matter again? If Trump can keep saying no and delaying Dem investigations all the way until the 2020 election that will put him in a very powerful position, even though it should have exactly the opposite effect.

Trump could never obstruct and delay if the Republican Party had not already bowed down to Trump. They believe that Trump helps their Party, but the relationship works the other way around. The GOP enables and defends Trump as he takes over America right in front of their eyes. He does not do this for the Republican Party. He does this for himself. Trump does not share power. We should never forget the role of the Republican Party in all this. Their actions are seditious.

Our documents do not say that once you go through a special investigation you are not required to cooperate in any Congressional investigation. Trump insists that the special investigation makes all other investigation unnecessary, despite the fact that Mueller never looked at Trump’s finances, or the emoluments issues raised by that hotel in Washington, or the nepotism of placing family members in important government positions. And although Republicans and the DOJ say that Trump was totally exonerated by the Mueller Report, the Mueller Report itself, and the Democrats do not agree.

However, because Trump is willing to trample on the Constitution, to basically ignore it as if it does not exist, he thereby makes our most central government document worthless. Because he is willing to deny power to a party even once it has won a majority further destroys the credibility of our system of government. That means that as long as Trump is in office there is no Constitutional government in the United States of America.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – ACLU