Open thread March 2, 2021 Dan Crawford | March 2, 2021 9:11 am Hot Topics Tags: open thread Comments (26) | Digg Facebook Twitter |
The beat goes on.
“Dharamshala: A 19-year-old Tibetan monk from Dza Wonpo has died on 19 January, after being severely beaten and tortured by the Chinese authorities for peaceful independence protests in November 2019. ”
March 1, 2021
This morning, conservative pundit William Kristol wrote in The Bulwark what a number of us have been saying for a while now, and it dovetails cleanly with the current Republican attempt to suppress voting.
Kristol warns that our democracy is in crisis. For the first time in our history, we have failed to have a peaceful transfer of power. The Republican Party launched a coup—which fortunately failed—and “now claims that the current administration is illegitimately elected, the result of massive, coordinated fraud. The logical extension of this position would seem to be that the American constitutional order deserving of our allegiance no longer exists.”
“So,” he notes, “we are at the edge of crisis, having repulsed one attempted authoritarian power grab and bracing for another.”
Claims that American democracy is on the ropes in the face of an authoritarian power grab raise accusations of partisanship… but in this case, the person making the claim is a conservative, who goes on to urge conservatives to join behind President Joe Biden to try to save democracy. Kristol warns that “a dangerous, anti-democratic faction” of the Republican Party “is not committed in any serious way to the truth, the rule of law, or the basic foundations of our liberal democracy.”
Kristol’s call is notable both because of his position on the right and because he warns that we are absolutely not in a moment of business-as-usual. Perhaps because it is impossible to imagine, we seem largely to have normalized that the former president of the United States refused to accept his loss in the 2020 election and enlisted a mob to try to overturn the results. Along with his supporters, he continues to insist that he won that election and that President Joe Biden is an illegitimate usurper.
This big lie threatens the survival of our democracy.
At the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) conference this weekend in Orlando, Florida, Trump supporters doubled down on the lie that Biden stole the 2020 election. From a stage shaped like a piece of Nazi insignia, speakers raged that they were victims of “cancel culture” on the part of Big Tech and the left, which are allegedly trying to silence them. To restore fairness, they want to stop “voter fraud” and restore “election integrity,” and they want to force social media giants to let them say whatever they want on social media.
In the Washington Post, commentator Jennifer Rubin said the modern conservatives at CPAC had no policy but revenge, “resentment, cult worship and racism,” and no political goal but voter suppression. It is “the only means by which they seek to capture power in an increasingly diverse America,” she notes. A poll showed that “election integrity” was the issue most important to CPAC attendees, with 62% of them choosing it over “constitutional rights” (which got only 48%).
Trump himself packaged this lie in words that sounded much like the things he said before the January 6 insurrection. He claimed that he had won the election, that the election was “rigged,” and that it was “undeniable” that the rules of the election were “illegally changed”—although none of his many court challenges stuck. He attacked the Supreme Court in language that echoed the attacks on his vice president, Mike Pence, that had rioters searching him out to kill him. “They didn’t have the guts or the courage to make the right decision,” Trump said of the justices.
The purpose of this big lie is not only to reinforce Trump’s hold on the Republican Party, but also to delegitimize the Democratic victory. If Democrats cheat, it makes sense to prevent “voter fraud” by making it harder to vote. “We must pass comprehensive election reforms, and we must do it now,” Trump said.
Republican reforms, though, mean voter suppression. Currently, Republican legislators in 43 states have introduced more than 250 bills to restrict voting. They want to cut back early voting and restrict mail-in voting, limit citizen-led ballot initiatives, and continue to gerrymander congressional districts. Arizona is trying to make it possible for state legislatures, rather than voters, to choose the state’s presidential electors. Rather than try to draw voters to their party’s candidates by moderating their stances, they are trying to win power by keeping people from voting.
I cannot emphasize enough how dangerous this is. We have gone down this road before in America, in the South after 1876. The outcome was the end of democracy in the region and the establishment of a single, dominant party for generations. In those decades, a small body of men ruled their region without oversight and openly mocked the idea of justice before the law. A member of the jury that took only 67 minutes to acquit Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam for murdering 14-year-old Emmett Till in 1955 famously said, “We wouldn’t have taken so long if we hadn’t stopped to drink pop.” White men dominated women and their Black and Brown neighbors, but their gains were largely psychological, as the one-party system created instability that slowed down economic investment, while leaders ignored education and infrastructure.
Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a lawsuit concerning Arizona election laws. The case is from 2016, when Democrats argued that two Arizona voting laws discriminated against Hispanic, Black, and Indigenous voters in violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which prohibits laws that hamper voting on the basis of race. The laws called for ballots cast in the wrong precinct to be thrown away and allowed only election officials, letter carriers, household family members, or caregivers to return someone else’s mail-in ballot. A violation could bring a $150,000 fine. The court’s decision in this case will have big implications for the legitimacy of the restrictions Republican legislatures are trying to enact now.
Meanwhile, Democrats are trying to shore up voting rights with H.R. 1, the For the People Act of 2021. This sweeping measure would make it easier to vote, curtail gerrymandering, make elections more secure, and reform the campaign finance system.
They are also proposing the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act, H.R. 4, which would restore the parts of the Voting Rights Act the Supreme Court gutted in 2013 in the Shelby v. Holder decision, limiting changes to election laws that disproportionately affect people of color. After Shelby v. Holder, a number of states immediately enacted sweeping voter suppression laws that disproportionately hit minorities, the elderly, and the young, all populations perceived to vote Democratic.
Neither of these bills will pass the Senate unless the Democrats modify the filibuster rule, which permits Republicans to stop legislation unless it can muster not just a majority, but a supermajority of 60 votes.
Today the Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor of Judge Merrick Garland for Attorney General. Garland is noted for supervising the prosecution of the men who bombed the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in 1995, hoping to topple the federal government. In his opening remarks to the Senate Judiciary committee last week, Garland vowed that, if confirmed, he “will supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol on January 6—a heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government.” He promised that he would follow where the investigation led, even if it went “upstream” to those who might not have been in the Capitol, but who nevertheless were participants in the insurrection.
The vote to move Garland’s nomination to the full Senate was 15 to 7, with Ben Sasse (R-NE), Mike Lee (R-UT), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Tom Cotton (R-AR), John Kennedy (R-LA), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) all voting no.
With the exception of Sasse, all those voting no have signed on to the big lie.
Trumpism Grips a Post-Policy GOP as Traditional Conservatism Fades
NY Times – March 1
ORLANDO, Fla. — For decades, the same ritual took place in the aftermath of Republican electoral defeats.
Moderate, establishment-aligned party officials would argue that candidates had veered too far right on issues like immigration, as well as in their language, and would counsel a return to the political center. And conservatives would contend that Republicans had abandoned the true faith and must return to first principles to distinguish themselves from Democrats and claim victory.
One could be forgiven for missing this debate in the aftermath of 2020, because it is scarcely taking place. Republicans have entered a sort of post-policy moment in which the most animating forces in the party are emotions, not issues.
This shift was on vivid display last weekend at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where the annual gathering’s Trumpification and the former president’s vow to exact revenge against his intraparty critics dominated headlines.
But just as striking was what wasn’t said at the event. There was vanishingly little discussion of why Republicans lost the presidency, the House and the Senate over the last four years, nor much debate about what agenda they should pursue to rebuild the party.
The absence of soul-searching owes in part to the Republicans’ surprise gains in the House and the denialism of many activists that they lost the White House at all, a false claim perpetuated with trollish gusto by former President Donald J. Trump himself on Sunday, to the delight of the crowd.
The former president was, however, hardly the only high-profile Republican to demonstrate that confronting Democrats and the news media, while harnessing the grievance of the party rank and file toward both, is the best recipe for acclaim within today’s G.O.P.
“We can sit around and have academic debates about conservative policy, we can do that,” Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida said to an ovation in his CPAC remarks. “But the question is, when the klieg lights get hot, when the left comes after you: Will you stay strong, or will you fold?”
This is the party Mr. Trump has remade — and it’s why so many traditional Republicans are appalled, or at least alarmed, that Trumpism is replacing conservatism.
“The future of the Republican Party depends on debating and advancing big ideas rooted in our belief in limited government constitutionalism,” said Representative Chip Roy of Texas, arguing that the party needed to orient itself around “the case for freeing the American people from the mandates, shutdowns, regulations and taxes pushed by a powerful government.”
Mr. Roy appeared on one of the few CPAC panels focused on government spending, once a central issue on the right, and used his time to plead with the audience. “There’s nothing more important right now than this,” he said. “We are allowing Washington, D.C., to take over our lives but we’re paying the bill.”
If those in the audience felt the same sense of urgency, they didn’t show it.
In his remarks later in the day, Mr. Trump sought to explain “Trumpism” — “what it means is great deals,” he ventured — but his would-be heirs plainly recognize that the core of his appeal is more affect than agenda.
Beyond the former president, no two Republicans in attendance drew a more fervent response than Mr. DeSantis and Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, two former House members turned first-term governors.
Neither sketched out a new policy agenda or presented a fresh vision for a party that has won the national popular vote just once in over 30 years. Rather, they drew repeated ovations for what they share in common: a shared sense of victimhood over media criticism for their handling of the coronavirus crisis and a pugnacious contempt for public health experts who have urged more aggressive restrictions in their states.
“I don’t know if you agree with me, but Dr. Fauci is wrong a lot,” Ms. Noem said in her remarks, referring to the country’s top infectious disease expert. The statement brought attendees to their feet, even as she glossed over her state’s high mortality rate during the pandemic.
Since the dawn of the modern conservative movement in the mid-20th century, there has been an element of victimhood politics on the right — a sense that powerful liberal forces are arrayed against conservatives, and that Republicans can send a message with their vote. …
Israel has a terrific health care system, a fairly young population and has been aggressive in vaccine use, nonetheless coronavirus cases continue to rise in the thousands and deaths rise as well. Israel has had more than 8 and a half times the cases and more deaths than in China:
March 2, 2021 Corona virus Israel Cases (781,857) Deaths (5,779) Deaths per million (628)
July 4, 2020 Corona virus Israel Cases (29,170) Deaths (30) Deaths per million (36)
well, there’s always the Republican solution: The Republicans I am thinking of are Abraham Lincoln and Dwight Eisenhower
Ike had the Supreme Court at his back; Lincoln did not. But they both were willing to use Federal Troops to enforce the law. In Lincoln’s case the law was less clear than it was in Ike’s case. But Ike had the advantage of the 14th Amendment, which the current Supreme Court seems willing to effectively, if not legally, repeal.
I’m not sure I’m up for that solution myself, but I think if enough decent…presumably well informed…people made a demonstration of their willingness to oppose brute fascist force with brute democratic force, it might quiet things down enough to enact some laws to make clear the intentions and expectations of those with the ultimate power to establish a more perfect union, domestic tranquility, and general welfare…
Sunday voting, in person if possible, with paper ballots counted on site, with enough sites to eliminate long lines and slow counts…. might be the answer to the perceived need for voting “reform.”
not sure how this would go, but maybe worth thinking about: “constitutional conventions” to amend the Constitution are, I believe, Constitutional. Enough people to organize, attend, and vote for… such Constitutional changes as would make clear that, for example, states may NOT appoint electors contrary to popular vote. We would need to be as careful as the Founders not to create a Constitution of abominations just because they sounded good in the present crisis.
Run or dan
comments posted here and on other threads appear after clicking post comment, but do not appear next time i log in.
often they appear after i write a new comment. we’ll see what happens this time.
Yes my previous comment appeared after i clicked post comment to my next comment. strange.
I did it the normal way when responding to you in the “Hi Coberly” comment (not like now in a reply) earlier. I saw the same thing. What I have done is C&P the comment before I post it (JIC). It appeared to post and I waited to make sure. I also opened up a new window and checked comments to see if it did post (which it did). I came back to the old window and still saw it as an unposted comment. Now I have a better idea of what is going on.
I think links and length of a comment may make a difference too.
while i am here Republicans have an insane fear of “big” government and taxes. i say insane, because i don’t like to be told what to do any more than they do, nor do i like taxes any more than they do. but they are insane in that ANY government or ANY tax looms out of their nightmares out of all proportion to the inconvenience on the one hand or the need on the other. democrats should pay some attention to this and be a little careful about unreasonable or “unfair” regulation or taxes. of course, since the R’s will lie about anything the D’s do, this might be difficult to convince even more or less sane people about. maybe we need to send missionaries to the heathen.
My post is unreadable, I am so sorry. I really am careful, but have not found a way to post properly yet.
anne don’t be sorry, we are all unreadable at times. the computerized problems don’t help.
Trumpism Has No Heirs
NY Times – March 3
,,, Mitt Romney campaigned in 2012 on being “severely conservative” and lost. Mr. Trump campaigned on a self-serving redefinition of what it even means to be conservative and won. After all, as Mr. Trump told ABC News in early 2016, “this is called the Republican Party, it’s not called the Conservative Party.”
But what Mr. Trump was for, and what his voters supported, was not the populist nationalism generally associated with “Trumpism.” Populist nationalism has a long history in this country. Paleoconservatives like Pat Buchanan, the former Nixon assistant and political commentator, have espoused a blend of America First isolationist foreign policy rhetoric and distrust of perceived culture and political “elites” for decades.
While populist nationalism exists, its existence does not depend on any one individual. Trumpism does. In reality, there is no such thing as Trumpism. “Trumpism” is a retconning of Mr. Trump’s rise to the presidency, a version of the story in which his myriad statements and outbursts and tweets were based on a foundational policy and not on whatever he happened to be thinking about at that moment. What Mr. Trump was for was Donald Trump, and what Trumpism is, is Donald Trump. Put another way: Had Mr. Trump run for the presidency as a “severely conservative” nominee, he probably would have won the nomination just the same.
He did not have a coherent policy platform, because he was the policy platform, the middle finger to perceived enemies and the bulwark against real or imagined progressive assault. Many Republican presidents would have moved the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem or supported a capital-gains tax cut or attempted to wage a Kulturkampf against “cancel culture” or any other wedge issue that provided an unwinnable and unlosable political war to be fought in the Twitter trenches. It is telling that as president, Mr. Trump became a remarkably standard Republican on many issues (his opposition to raising the minimum wage, for example) and received no penalty from his voters or allies. He did not need to fulfill the promises of Trumpism to win their support. He merely needed to be Donald Trump. …
“Retcon is a shortened form of retroactive continuity, and refers to a literary device in which the form or content of a previously established narrative is changed. Retcons are often encountered in serial formats such as comic books or television series, where they serve as a means of allowing the work’s creators to create a parallel universe, reintroduce a character, or explore plot lines that would otherwise be in conflict with the work. Essentially, a retcon allows an author to have his or her cake and eat it too, as it enables the return of dead characters, the revision of unpopular elements of a work, and a general disregard for reality.”…
“Trumpism’ is whatever Trump wants it to be at any given moment.
To ‘retcon it’ is to come up policies after-the-fact
that might somehow be ‘plausibly’ associated
with it, however far-fetched.
The US should do the same.
“LONDON (AP) — An independent tribunal in Britain aiming to establish whether the Chinese government’s alleged rights abuses against Uighur Muslims in the far western Xinjiang region constitute genocide is expected to hear dozens of witness testimonies when it holds its first public hearing in London in May.
Organizer Nick Vetch said Thursday a eight-member panel that will act as a jury has been finalized, and that researchers for the tribunal were sifting through about 1,500 documents and pieces of evidence submitted from different countries.”
Great posted article by William Kristol, son of Irving. Bill Kristol is not just A conservative, but THE heir apparent of daddy’s neoconservative movement. He is a much different kind of militant moderate than me, but still is more credible than the average wind nut. Thanks. This is a good sign that there is still a middle out there somewhere. Of course then, before Trump, the centrists had started to earn themselves a bad name. What a difference four years can make.
“Wind nut” was a Freudian typo :<)
More tales of the unreadable shrinking comments.
Software, don’t bug me :<)
thank you for a very insightful comment. i will say that even i at times have found myself agreeing with the likes of Bill O’Reilly. There should be no surprise there. The art of the lie is to say something that people will agree with.. so you can slip the lie past them uncontested. In the case of O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Paul Harvey, Joe McCarthy.. and on back…and forward through through history, the lie hs been blame your troubles on… someone else, and hate them, and ultimately kill them… and by the way give Us (the liars) absolute power. It seems to work.I guess the rest of the story is that always seem to be people willing to become lieutenants of the big lie in the hope that they will rise to become members of the inner power circle. That seems to have got hold in America today in the most dangerous form since the Civil War. We beat it back a little this time. I Don’t know how well we will do nest time…that is not quite “next”… it is still happening. just beginning as Trump himself says.
Ron are the “centrists” just another power seeking nazis-with-a-human(kinder gentler)-face? that got shoved out of the way by Trumpism?I thought I had caught on to the radical center a few years before Trump.
Bill Buckley ended up burying the John Birch Society, which was the Trumpian right wing extremism of his time. I guess Bill Kristol is trying to walk in Buckley’s shoes here, except Buckley really was trying to lead a movement and Kristol is merely another pundit. Both Buckley and Kristol represent odious politics, they just want the veneer of reasonableness.
Like most political afflictions, centrism is a spectrum disorder. Neoconservatism was described by its author (Irving Kristol) as liberals mugged by reality. David Frum is another like the Kristol boys. Joe Lieberman was a centrist, but then so is Joe Biden. You and I are both centrists of a sort, not trusting enough of state socialism (or any-ism) to embrace it full on. We both know that “the rule of law” is a euphemism for the rule of a group of guys that one agrees with because that law is written by a group of guys and enforced by another group of guys. Laws do not make nor enforce themselves except by divine intervention.
Ron yep. sounds about right to me. I think the Framers knew this…at least the leaders among them…and they tried to design a system that would estblish a balance of power between competing interests that would keep absolute tyranny at bay. worked about as good as the balance of power among european states prior to the Great War. at least, we may be experiencing the “what comes next.”i’m thinking of Camelot (the once and future king) which crashed upon the rocks of what happens when a well armed bunch of guys find out how much fun it is to run around the world killing people in the name of justice.
I am done with this site. I will try once a week to see if it is fixed, but otherwise it is an aggravating waste of time.
Dan has a disorder that is almost being treated daily. He has to talk to the programmers. I can still catch again what I had three times already and was rid of 30 days ago. Unknown cause; but, stress can set it off too. The site will get fixed in time. Each time my disorder comes, I am as close to death as one can be and one bump could take me out. Meanwhile dan’s heart has a mind of its own.
I noted that your letter of resignation got published…at least as far as reaching my email. it is not showing on AB site yet, but past experience suggests that it will appear just as soon as I post this reply.
Ask yourself why you went public with your resignation instead of just quietly not writing any comments until such time as you think the site is fixed well enough for your needs.
I get aggravated as easily as anyone, but AB has been valuable to me enough that I have taken tthe trouble to find workarounds to what is not currently convenient.
I will miss your comments, even if I often disagree with them, they stay in my mind long enough for me to see .. if not your point… where it is coming from and hope to be able to address that.
what comes to mind at the moment is your assertion that white Americans are all racists and always have been, more than any other people on earth (I exaggerate slightly). I can see the racism. It is stronger than I believed a few years ago. I think I can also see the progress we have made against it… and the progress our enemies have made stoking it again after our own overreach and failure to address (effectively) the problems of the working class (or those of the people of color for that matter). I believe the answer is a more intelligent pursuit of essentially progressive economic values and not just calling people names…. even if that’s what wins elections.
A large majority of the citizenry/electorate are ‘centrists’ (an
assertion with no proof offered (*), but I am in that group),
disparaged & reviled by those on both Left & Right.
* Other than, when Dems get elected president, it’s
the centrists who are chosen, and make the choice.