Rebutting Thought-Ending Conservatism – Part One: Slavery

For Shelby

American News XJuly 18, 2016

When I posted this image to my Facebook wall, I hadn’t expected any real pushback. I mean, the facts of how dark skinned humans came to be slaves and lower class in America, and how they are still mostly poor in America, are incontrovertible. Nevertheless, my own family pushed back, people who should know better than to argue facts or history with me. They all know how much I read (or they should) and they all know that I have a tick that won’t allow me to simply ignore stupidity when I hear it.

…and still, the first comment I got was all lives matter, a stubborn refusal to see the world as it really is, a willfully ignorant insistence of falseness being truth that continued for the entire dialog under the image. The replies that I got were boilerplate. They were talking points that could be repeated (and have been repeated to me endlessly) by any FOX watching conservative; and so consequently this little exercise bears going through just this one time. Just to expose the talking points for what they are, so as to illustrate just how wrong they are.

All lives matter is a thought-ending phrase. It doesn’t actually mean anything in and of itself, which is why people repeat it after hearing that black people object to being targeted as they have been throughout US history. 

The people who say all lives matter simply want the person they are speaking at to shut up. Here’s Felonious Monk from the Nightly Show (Larry Wilmore) explaining how this works,

THE NIGHTLY SHOW WITH LARRY WILMORE ALL WORDS MATTER – FELONIOUS MUNK
Stormtrumpers did get the Nightly Show canceled. You did manage to get one thing done in Trump’s first year.

I want the doctor to fix my leg.

Language is our evolutionary prerogative. It is the air I breathe. I will not be shut down, belittled or pushed aside; and the people who, rightly, want to stop being targeted by police officers where they live simply because of the color of their skin will not be shut down either. Insisting there is no problem to be corrected makes you the target, and Stormtrumpers should remember what happened when they made everyone else the target of their anger in 2016. That payback is coming. You can be sure of this if of nothing else.

Here’s the first long comment from that attempt at a Facebook dialog I want to quote,

Democrats enslaved the black man Republicans freed them (Lincoln being the first Republican President). Democrats are now trying to enslave the country. As long as there are ignorant people in this country to vote democrat, there will always be slavery. On another note. 90% of the killing of the black man is the black man killing there own. Your president has caused more chaos in this country and ya’ll still voted that piece of shit back in and want people to believe that it’s the Republicans fault. When people learn to work for there own and not sit at home and feed off the working man they might have a different view of whats happening in this country.

Now, this comment comes from a relative, an in-law. One who knows that I am disabled. This is the kind of love and understanding that is common across Texas, not just in the men who are married to one of your sisters. They are certain that people who don’t want to work are just lazy, as if laziness were not a survival trait. As if they aren’t equally as lazy on any given day, willing to let their wives and family do the housework while they get fat on their recliners drinking beer and watching football. Writing is about the only work I’m capable of doing these days, and I can only do that sporadically between bouts of vertigo. The people like this relative who tell me to get a job are speaking in code. Unluckily for these hateful types, I understand their code because I was one of them once. Get a job is code for crawling away somewhere and dying out of sight. Out of sight is out of mind. They, to borrow a phrase, simply want me to starve to death and decrease the surplus population. They are Scrooges, manufacturing the chains they will wear for the rest of eternity, if you believe in that sort of thing.

Also note the logical disconnect in saying that Democrats, led by a black man, favor enslaving that same black man and everyone else in the U.S., a black man who we elevated to the office of the president. A president that he loving calls a piece of shit even though Barack Obama was demonstrably the best president of our lifetimes (more on this in a bit) This insistence that Democrats favor slavery is a non-sequitur, it doesn’t follow any logical reasoning, and yet nearly all conservatives and Republicans in general believe this kind of crap without even asking why they believe it. It is essential to their mental makeup that they project their own hatreds onto others, in a pretty typical psychological fashion.

White men enslaved the black man long before there was such a thing as the Democratic party. Slavery itself predates every record that has ever been kept by any society, and it was more frequently the next tribe over from yours who were enslaved rather than a group that was distinctly different looking. It was far more likely to be your neighbors than it was that your tribe had the chance to conquer peoples in a far away place and enslave them. Only expansive civilizations like the city-states of old could muster that kind of might. Rome took slaves from every part of the known world, most of them not being of any different color skin than their own. No, it took enterprising Europeans to hit upon enslaving a specific group of people who looked different than everyone around them, making those people easy to spot as slaves without having to think about the problem too hard.

Black slavery worked well in the early American colonies and across most of Europe because black people could be seen as slaves at a glance. The otherness of appearance made it easy to keep those people in their lessor place of status. You didn’t have to keep records of whether or not this or that black person was a slave (although they did anyway) because if you looked different, you were property and not a person. This disconnect, this racism, continues to the present day in the structures and beliefs of the people in the formerly slave holding states, and in the major cities all across the U.S. Most people simply don’t make the connection that darkness, even darkness of skin, is routinely chalked up to something malign.

Have you never noticed the prevalent fear of the dark? I’ve had many people insist that this is not the same as racism, but it is based on exactly the same mental structures. Just like sinister means left-handed as well as being threatening, darkness implies threat or differentness, and this is across all peoples everywhere. And it manifests in people looking down on those around them whose skin is darker than theirs is. It manifests in trying to force left-handed people to become right-handed, or killing the left-handed outright for their threatening nature. Killing those who look or act different because they scare you. Xenophobia, as someone with more education would refer to it. Xenophobia is rampant in the world today.

Slavery runs rampant in the Bible and was widespread throughout the world prior to the enlightenment, and it was those enlightened liberal thinkers that ushered in the end of slavery as well as many other laudable achievements of the time (things like the germ theory of medicine) and conservatives of the time (today’s Republicans) fought tooth and nail against the notion that slavery was bad. Because conservatives favor tradition, and slavery was a cherished institution.

So slavery predates the modern Republican hatred for Democrats. The Democrats in the 1800’s were pro-slavery, that much is true. Democrats were a predominantly conservative party at that time; conservative being the generic label for people who favor the status quo, people who don’t want to change.

The party that opposed the Democrats in 1852 was referred to as the Whigs. The Whig party disintegrated in 1854 over the question of slavery in the form of the Kansas-Nebraska act. I’m sure you all remember that from your Kansas history. No? Well, that’s okay. The Kansas-Nebraska act made it possible for states to decide if they wanted to be slave or free states at their time of admission, making the broad expansion of slavery across the American continent a thing to be feared by abolitionists everywhere. The Whigs really didn’t have a purpose for existing in the first place other than to be opposed to the policies of Andrew Jackson, and he’d been dead for quite awhile at that point. The Democratic party as it existed then had been formed by Andrew Jackson and his supporters. The party of slavery is a fitting label to hang on his legacy of murder and genocide.

(Suggested reading: Jacksonland)

Progressives of the time were abolitionist and they joined forces with Northerners who didn’t want the South to be able to bring their slaves into non-slaveholding states. This further injury to the sensibilities of abolitionists was the net result of the Dred Scott decision; this Supreme Court decision made it possible for slave-owning Southerners to live wherever they liked and keep their slaves in whatever state they lived in whether that state was a free state or a slave state. If the repeal of the Missouri compromise wasn’t enough to solidify an anti-slavery movement, then having to compete with slaves for work in your own free state was a thought far too loathsome to contemplate.

The formerly progressive Whigs and the progressives from the other political factions in 1856 joined together to create what became known as the Republican party. This is important, so take note of this fact. Republicans were the progressives and liberals of the time. Republicans were progressives and liberals when they were formed in 1856. They were the people who favored change, and they nominated Abraham Lincoln in 1860, a presidential candidate who successfully stood astride the two warring factions (pro-slavery/anti-slavery) and managed to pull a victory out of the contested election of 1860 by promising to leave historically slave states alone and promising to preserve the union. Northern conservatives, people who wanted to preserve their non-black, non-slaveholding states, also sided with the progressives in handing the Republicans and Lincoln this victory.

(Suggested reading: Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln)

Progressives freed the slaves. Not conservatives. Conservatives were pro-slavery in 1860. The progressive Republican party elected Abraham Lincoln. Just as progressive Republicans lead by Teddy Roosevelt broke up the monopolies and cleaned up the corporate mess that the country was mired in back in 1900.

(Suggested reading: The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism)

Parties are not static creatures. They live and breath and change. The Democrats eventually changed, although it took time for the conservative/liberal polls to shift. The Democrats aligned themselves, one might even suggest anchored themselves, in the unquestionable white supremacy of the Andrew Jackson years. They stuck with white supremacy through the Civil War and reconstruction. Stuck with it through Jim Crow. They clung to their white majorities and their white working-class voter base through World War I and looked the other way during the red summer. But they weren’t the only ones who looked the other way. There was mass denial of the racism of that year, across the political landscape.

The Democrats held their white majorities through the Depression and World War II. It helped that Republicans had been bought by that time. Bought by the corporations that they had fought in the 1900’s. So the anti-monopolists were tamed. Republicans looked the other way as the poor starved through the depression, or shrugged their shoulders and pretended there was nothing to be done. So the progressives started to shift from the Republican party. They started to put their allegiance with the Democrats and their support of unions. Unions that just happened to be in alignment with the concerns of the white, working-class voter that dominated the landscape of the time. Aligned themselves with Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his hair-brained scheme to short-circuit the malfunctioning international gold standard and end the Great Depression.

(Suggested reading: Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World)

After LBJ’s betrayal of White Southerners by pushing through the Civil Rights Act, the majority of white voters in the South migrated to the Republican party, a party that they had hated until explicitly invited to join the party by Richard Nixon. At the same time minorities made a political shift and started supporting their historic enemies, the Democrats. It was at this point that the parties functionally changed political orientations, the Republicans harkening back to the past, becoming predominantly conservative, and the Democrats became liberal. These trends remain in place today.

Look around any Republican gathering, Trump’s never-ending Hitler-esque political rallies for example, and notice that the audience is predominantly white. Now look at Democratic gatherings, a the offices recently filled with women and people of color, and you should notice a pretty stark contrast. This is what Reince Priebus tried to warn Republicans about when he chaired the Republican National Committee. That future he warned ya’ll about? That future is now.

The last point to refute in the long (previously quoted) comment is this one,

90% of the killing of the black man is the black man killing there own.

Murder is always predominantly committed by people who look like the victim, not just black murder. This is because murder is generally committed by people the victim knows, and those people will generally be people who look like them. Their own family members are quite frequently the perpetrators, for the exact same reason. Look it up. White on white crime far exceeds any other created racial grouping. So this pointing out of black on black crime as being indicative of something sinister? That is just more racism being exposed by someone who can’t seem to figure out he’s a racist.

Here’s the next comment that I want to refute.

The black man sold the black man to the white man. You can not deny that there are more poor people now then before obama became the dictator of this country. You can not deny the democrats crashed the housing market. You can not deny that what is really wrong is only wrong for Republicans not democrats. You can not deny that hilary clinton killed 4 good men in Bengozie. You can deny obama has devided this country. You can not deny obama has spent 10 trillion dollars while saying Bush spent 4 and should never have done that. Liberals (democrats) are moochers and free loaders, you can not deny that. I know plenty of democrats that are in denial because they are secretly ashamed of them selves because they are so used to the way they are they can’t change. A person can look at history and see what ever makes them selves feel good but that doesn’t mean they are right. If there were no Republicans to work and support liberals (democrats)? How would liberals (democrats) live then.

Assuming that my antagonist was serious and not attempting to be humorous. That’s a large assumption, I know. But, assuming he’s serious, I’ll take these points one at a time.

The black man sold the black man to the white man.

White men sell white men to black men. Probably yesterday, even. Slavery still goes on, especially sex slavery. Ask your president about sex slavery. He met a few sex slaves while hanging out with his buddy Jeffrey Epstein. You’ll be finding out the truth of this in the near future. In any case, the simple fact that people sell people proves about as much as selling your time to someone else for money proves. Everyone is a mercenary, some of us are just better paid than others. Knowing that selling people crosses a line that will get you killed for your trouble, that alters the calculation from “how much can I get for selling my child” to “how much does that third job pay?” the latter being the preferable moral decision we are looking for as a society.

You can not deny that there are more poor people now then before obama became the dictator of this country.

Obama wasn’t a dictator. He wasn’t even an aggressive president like W. or Bill or Bush the first or Reagan. He was definitely better than Tricky Dick, who was probably the most aggressive person to hold the Office of President in my lifetime before Trump cheated his way into office. Trump wants to be a dictator, just like his heroes are dictators. Trump puts all other presidents to shame being single-handedly the worst president ever to hold office on the first day that he was in office, and has gotten worse every day since that day. I find it hard to imagine how he could be worse, until the next time I wake up and read the news and think well, that’s how he could be worse. Tomorrow will be no different than it was today.

As I said previously, Barack Obama was demonstrably the best president of our lifetimes. The only reason to propose that he was not is that his skin is black or because he was a Democrat. Being a black Democrat makes hatred for him a double feature. Not only were his policies the policies of Republicans watered down, just like Bill Clinton’s were, but he had the unmitigated gall not to march to the military drumbeat that every president since Reagan has adopted.

But poverty? Poverty has gotten markedly worse under every president since Ronald Reagan. Obama was no exception to this fact, largely because he didn’t change the trickle-down bullshit that Reagan forced through congress in the 80’s. The economic bullshit that has been adopted by every president after Reagan just like the focus on the military was adopted by every president after Reagan. Trickle-down economics was rightly termed voodoo economics by Bush the first, but he was just as willing to practice that voodoo if it got him elected. When he dared raise taxes to balance the budget, he was forced out of office by the wealthy elites who wanted to punish him for raising their taxes to pay for services that they didn’t solely benefit from.

( Suggested reading: #MAGA: The Myth of Bootstraps)

Poverty has gotten worse under Trump, just as it did under Obama. (40% of Americans are poor) His rewards to the wealthy have stoked a fire that will shortly have the economy overheating and tanking (yield curve inversion) and who knows what the effects of his writing his own personal loopholes into the tax code will be. Everyone should be channelling every dime they have through a series of shell companies now, just like President Trump does (He’s smart. Just ask him) That’s how you get to keep all of your money and then sue people because they didn’t give you more money.

The poor are still the economic slaves of the wealthy. That inequity has yet to be addressed. That is what the current liberal/progressive movement wishes to fix, one goal among many.

I’m not going to make this long, long article longer still longer by belaboring the last few misconceptions that were voiced in that quote. The image and the article were and are about the Black Lives Matter movement, and slavery. I’ll just run through a few more refutation links for clarity’s sake (and I might need them later myself)

( Suggested reading: Caveat Emptor)

There have always been conservatives and liberals, even though they didn’t always use the same names. There have always been adherents to tradition and people unafraid of experimentation, people ready to adopt new rules to cover new realities. Conservatives are the former, liberals are the latter.

Since the vast majority of young people are liberal by definition (they themselves representing change to the status quo, the status quo being their parents) and since the vast majority of young people are not lazy shirkers, his broad dismissal of liberals as worthless lacks even the basic merit that I try to give every argument offered. He’s condemning his own children and their children with one fell sweep of his opinion. They will probably discard him when he becomes a burden in old age, just as easily as they will discard his dismissal when they hear it now.

Rampant militarism is the hallmark of a dictator. The kind of person Trump loves and wants to be. So Obama? Not a dictator. The black lives matter movement is not a threat to you unless you are a White Supremacist. That is it, in a nutshell. Don’t believe me? Black Lives Matter protest in Wichita changed to cookout with police. There is your answer.

Every. Single. Point. Every point that was offered has now been shown to be wrong. All of them. If I wasn’t related to the commeter that I was quoting from by marriage, I wouldn’t have bothered to write this novelette. I substantiate my arguments with checkable facts and links to articles that reinforce my arguments. Facts which are irrefutable. Follow those links and understand the arguments, then if you, dear reader, still disagree with me feel free to offer a verifiable argument of your own.

John Legend | TED2016 “Redemption Song”

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Editor’s note. This one has sat on the edit pile since I copied the comments to the blog in expectation of writing this now completed article. That was back in the summer of 2016 as the Facebook link to the original meme posting on my Facebook wall should illustrate. I went ahead and advanced this article in time to it’s publish date (January 31, 2020 why 4:04?) so that it will at least briefly appear on the front page of the blog. I agonized over outing my in-laws for their blatant racism for all the years in-between 2016 and now. Now, with the Trump impeachment soon to be history and Trump (probably) crowing about victory on Tuesday at the SOTU, I wanted this article out. If there is a civil war, this is it. Here. Now. At the polls in November. We will fight and we will win, or we will die trying.

Contrary to former RL friend’s comments, the contrapositive of this yard sign are not false unless you want to craft them as false statements. That is, all the contrapositives other than the line about kindness, which cannot be everything. Kindness is only kindness, but it goes a long way.

Witness to Three Impeachments

Zoe Lofgren is one of the impeachment managers who presented the Articles of Impeachment for Donald John Trump to the Senate and will be part of the prosecution of the Houses’ case for impeachment.

She was elected to the House of Representatives in 1995, and was on the Judiciary committee when the impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton was being conducted.

She was an aide to Representative Don Edwards (D-Calif.), who sat on the House Judiciary Committee in 1973. She was sent to Washington to work on a bankruptcy bill but was swept up in the Nixon impeachment inquiry.

Everybody got sucked into the tornado that was the impeachment inquiry. I was a law student, so I wasn’t running the show, but I did work on it. You had a sense of how historic it was, how serious it was. But to be present was both an honor and also an obligation, and to be able to play a small part in something, it felt profound.

Washington Post

So she has a unique perspective on the subject of impeachment.

1A – Rep. Zoe Lofgren On Impeachment, Then And Now – January 18, 2020

I remember when Bill Clinton was impeached. I remember that I was pissed off for having to explain what a blow job was to my then seven-year-old daughter. I understood that Bill Clinton had broken the law. I also understood that what the Republicans were doing was entirely for show. They had no intention of acting on the evidence against him in any real fashion; or perhaps they knew that the charges they could bring against him were insufficient to have him removed from office. They just wanted to embarrass a popular Democratic president, and perhaps keep the next president from being a Democrat.

Morning Edition – The Senate Trial Of Bill Clinton – December 19, 2019

…a task that they weren’t capable of pulling off without the help of the Supreme Court. I knew that if they had been serious about getting Bill Clinton out of the White House, they would have called him on fraternization. But then most of them would also have skeletons in their closets that they wouldn’t have wanted dragged out into public after conducting that trial.

What Bill Clinton did was a crime. However the crime was engaging in a sexual relationship with a direct subordinate, which should be much more of a crime than lying to the grand jury about the sexual relationship. Worse, it was apparently a common practice of his to engage in sex with his subordinates, as other women took pains to testify about. Even to sue him over.

I also remember when Richard Nixon left office. I was a little older than the daughter was when Clinton was impeached, but I remember the sadness and betrayal that many people felt. Betrayal by the president of the people he was supposed to represent. I don’t know how many of my relatives and neighbors supported him before he was found to be culpable by the tapes he was forced to release to the House of Representatives. But I do remember that Grandma didn’t have a single kind word to say about him, so she wouldn’t say much other than he got what was coming to him.

Fresh Air – An Inside Look At The Watergate Prosecution – February 12, 2020

The Watergate Girl by Jill Wine-Banks

Nixon and Clinton both were compelled to release information to the impeachment inquiry that the House embarked upon against them. Both of them understood that the United States government was not just the president. It was the entire nation, figuratively. The U.S. Government is made up of at least the other two branches of government outside of the executive branch, and it is also made up of all the people who worked in all the branches of government that make up the government. It is and was bigger than any one person. That is perhaps the most telling argument against Donald J. Trump. He doesn’t admit that anything is bigger than he is. I doubt he even has the capacity to understand just how small he really is.

It is that lack of understanding that made these events we are witnessing inevitable. Nixon understood that if he was impeached he would be removed from office because the country had turned against him. He knew that he would face prosecution, and that he couldn’t be pardoned if impeached. So he left office on the heels of his even more crooked vice president, Spiro Agnew, the Bag Man of Rachel Maddow’s podcast.

ART19 – Bagman

…and Richard Nixon was pardoned by Spiro Agnew’s replacement, Gerald Ford.

Bill Clinton knew that what he had done was wrong and he apologized to the country. His behavior since that time publicly has been exemplary. I haven’t had to explain one other uncomfortable thing about him to a minor since that day.

Nixon knew when he was beat. Clinton knew how to appease the people who were rightly offended at his behavior. Donald Trump? He doesn’t acknowledge that others exist or that his behavior varies in any way from the absolute straight and narrow, even when caught red handed lying, cheating and stealing. That has been his standard of practice since I first ran across his name back in the days of Trump tower and the Trump Taj Mahal. Donald Trump doesn’t have the presence of mind to understand just how far out on a limb he is right now.

Zoe Lofgren knows how precarious his position is and hopes to hold him accountable for the crimes he has always gotten away with before. I wish her luck in her endeavor. Perhaps someone exercised caveat emptor after all.

Fresh Air – Donald Trump’s Testing Of America – February 17, 2020

A Very Stable Genius by Philip Rucker & Carol Leonnig

Explaining Impeachment

Everybody and their dog is now talking about impeachment. It’s about fucking time. Where were they three years ago? Donald Trump was impeachable from the day he lied taking his oath, and we knew he was lying when he did it. We simply lacked the political will to do the work required to set the misfire of the 2016 election aside back when it would have made a real difference.

…and the 2016 election was a misfire. The Electoral College should never have been required to vote for Donald Trump in the first place. The political gerrymandering that has made the Electoral College into the dysfunctional thing it is today should disqualify relying on the Electoral College to render a verdict on anything in the first place, never mind an election that hinged on a fraction of a percentage point in three minor US states instead of the overwhelming majority of Americans who voted for sanity instead of insanity. That’s why anyone who runs around screaming about the calamity of the Trump presidency is a #MAGA Nimrod. All of this has happened before and it will happen again.

But hey, Nancy Pelosi is on board with impeachment, so everyone thinks they have to talk about it now. Now that the bus of the US federal government is on fire, plummeting downwards at a predictable rate of V = gt, now they want to apply the brakes. Well that’s fine. I’ll have another bottle of spirits over here in the meantime. If you don’t mind.

Exhibit A

The NPR Politics Podcast – Impeachment Then & Now: Trump Vs. Nixon & Clinton – October 10, 2019

The comparative difference between Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton & Donald Trump is easy to discern. Donald Trump is a fraud, plain and simple. He has sold his Stormtrumpers a bill of goods that he could never deliver, and had no intention of delivering. This is his standard of practice. Donald Trump was a fraud way, way back. All the way back to the 1970’s & 80’s when he cheated on his taxes stealing the wealth of his father’s company. When he built his first building. When he bought out and then bankrupted his casinos. He is still a fraud, a tax cheat and a money launderer. All of this will come out, eventually.

All the other guys who have faced impeachment had some good thing they hoped to achieve in the public service. The same cannot be said of Trump.

Exhibit B

Politics Podcast: How Impeachment Is Supposed To Work (Editor’s note: They added the video to the page! Nice!)

This episode of the 538 Politics podcast is the best explainer I’ve run across on the subject of impeachment. Kate Shaw even picks up on what the guest on Today Explained missed (Exhibit C) She goes point by point through the process as it will most likely progress. Since we only have three cases of presidential impeachment to measure with, it will be hard to say exactly how this will manifest itself. Stay tuned.

Unfortunately for the people who don’t (or won’t) listen to podcasts, there isn’t a transcript for 538 podcasts, and therefore no quick reference for those who just want to get to the facts of the subject directly. You’ll just have to listen. (Editor’s note: Now you can watch, too. I haven’t seen the video which isn’t available on the podcast feed. Yet)

Exhibit C

Unlike the Vox-produced Today Explained.

Which not only adds itself into WordPress articles as a playable embed, but you can find the transcript right in the embedded interface. Given what this episode is, a light brush over the subject of where the Trump impeachment goes from where we are now, it’s not too bad. If you understand the subject.

What did Laura McGann miss? The entirety of Scenario 9 is no mystery. Impeached officials, once successfully removed from office, can be barred from serving in public office again. Subject to a simple majority vote of the Senate. It’s right there in the rules. Or Wikipedia.

Exhibit D

The Daily from the New York Times is more of a cautionary tale. The Times, in its usual attempts to prove that they aren’t liberal by literally (or audibly) embracing the most insane rantings of whichever pundit they choose to give publicity to, chose to give publicity to the guy who brought us Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, et all. His name is Mike Davis.

NYT The Daily 10/10/2019

…everybody told us that he was sort of an unabashed advocate for Judge Kavanaugh and really sort of the torch-carrier politically through this process. And what he did in terms of not just managing the technicalities of the Senate investigation and the Senate process, but also waging this sort of cultural war for conservatives that was crystallized during the Kavanaugh confirmation process and is now being deployed as a defense against impeachment.

Kate Kelly, The Daily

The fact that he was sort of an unabashed advocate for Judge Kavanaugh should have been the first reason not to give the guy a microphone and several uninterrupted minutes to rant. Just flat out don’t do that. There are far, far too many people who will not understand how to dissect his rantings with a skeptical eye. Mike Davis is a poster child for motivated numeracy if not the face on the poster advertising the shortfalls of relying on the reasoning of people who cannot divorce themselves from the things that they believe.

What do I mean by that? If everything Trump is accused of doing was something Obama had been accused of doing how would Mike Davis react? If asked that question on the podcast he would prevaricate. He might even understand the hypocrisy of saying that it would be different for Obama and thereby say “it’s no big deal” but that would be a lie.

We know what would have happened because we lived through eight years of outrage directed at what could objectively be determined to be the best president since Dwight D. Eisenhower (the tan suit, anybody?) If Dwight D. Eisenhower’s portrait is on display anywhere in Washington D.C., the place in the same building that would be appropriate for Donald Trump’s portrait is wherever the garbage is stored before being hauled to the landfill. Which is where Donald Trump’s portrait should go after that. The landfill. With the rest of the garbage.

The New York Times illustrates again exactly why I don’t spend money supporting their reporting. If I had money to support investigative journalism these days I’d have to give it to Vanity Fair, Propublica, The Guardian or The Atlantic. It is a sad day for journalism today, folks.

Impeachment is dangerous. And that danger – that very danger right there, the very nature of it — is why it must be done. And it is in the crucible of crisis, facing the greatest of dangers, when true, authentic greatness is forged.

Stonekettle Station

Starting the second week in October, 2019, there are now three podcasts that I’ve found that deal specifically with the subject of impeachment and only that subject. The first one is Impeachment, Explained from the same people who bring you the podcast Today, Explained linked above. This is the first episode. It will come out weekly on Spotify.

The 4 words that will decide impeachment

Then there is the daily podcast from WNYC, called simply Impeachment. I like titles that just say what they are about. This podcast is compiled from content that is aired on the Brian Lehrer show.

Impeachment – ‘A Perfect Slice of Emolument Pie’ – October 21, 2019

…was the episode that followed up the voicemail I left two days previously asking why Trump hasn’t been impeached already based on his emoluments violations. I’m sure I’m not the only one asking that question. The Trump Doral debacle is, as the title suggests, a perfect slice of the subject.

The third podcast is Article II from MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki. Of the three, this one is the one I have the least hope for. I’m not sure why, it just seems that MSNBC manages to shoot themselves in the foot about every other time they try to do something. Since Bagman was such a hit and The Oath is making waves, I’m betting that Article II is doomed to failure. But I’ll give it a few weeks to see what Steve manages to pull out of the hat.

Article II: Inside Impeachment – Star Witness

In testimony on Tuesday, Bill Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine, described what he saw as a high-stakes decision by President Trump to withhold $391 million in aid to Ukraine. Dan De Luce, national security and global affairs reporter for the NBC News investigative unit, recounts Taylor’s opening statement and whether it support the theory of a “quid pro quo.” 

Then Wednesday the Republicans in the House of Representatives proved themselves unfit for office by staging a juvenile stunt during the hearings. Such is life in the US in 2019. I sent #ImeachTrump? #ExpelMcConnell! to the show as a comment.

Treason

During my recent convalescence, I watched a lot of television. A lot of television for me, considering I haven’t watched TV much since cutting the cable three years ago. I went through the several series on Netflix that I mentioned previously, but I also spent a lot of time watching several Ken Burns’ PBS series that I’ve had bookmarked for years.

The one that stuck in my mind was The Vietnam War, especially episode seven. You know the one. The one where we discover that Richard Nixon committed treason, and Lyndon Johnson caught him lying about it? For some reason, that series and that episode specifically reminds me of the political climate of today. More than one person has said to me,

You can’t say Donald Trump has committed treason because he hasn’t been conspiring with anyone we have declared war on.

…and I’ve found that non-denial denial quite revealing. Yes it is true that he hasn’t been shown to be conspiring with anyone we are currently at war with, but it is rather convenient that congress doesn’t declare war on enemies anymore. It’s also rather convenient that conventional war is limited to puppet governments and so-called third world regions, while information warfare is carefully treated as different from conventional war. As if destruction of a country’s political and social structure is somehow less damaging than the wholesale bombing campaigns of previous generations.

I mean, it is easier on the furniture and the infrastructure. It costs fewer lives, for the most part. But the uncertainty created by the mis- and dis-information campaigns currently being waged is psychologically as harmful as physical violence. You never know what is true and what is not true these days. All words are lies, especially words that come from government authorities. Sources that most people want to trust, demonstrably cannot be trusted. This has been true since Donald Trump took office proven time and again by investigative reporting.

Just like in Nixon’s time, White House sources deny that the reports are true, but their denials are clearly stamped as false, stamped as face-saving bullshit put out by the Bullshitter-in-Chief. Nixon conspired with Hanoi to prolong the Vietnam war in order to gain the White House. Donald Trump conspired with Vladimir Putin to gain the White House. No, we can’t prove it aside from the synchronicity of events that bear out coordination of efforts. But those events do occur in a properly causal relationship, and Trump did have business interests in Moscow that he still denies existed.

No, we aren’t at war with Russia, so that’s not treason per se. But if you think that just because we aren’t at war with another country, it’s OK to take their stolen information, their disinformation structures and use them against our own people? If you think that is OK, then I seriously have to question your sanity, your loyalty.

I just finished watching All the President’s Men. That line that Robard’s character utters near the end? That line keeps replaying in my head now. Those same pressures that were on the Washington Post back in 1974? Those pressures are on every single American today. There are no more gatekeepers. There is no barrier to information any longer. If we are misinformed, it is because we allow ourselves to be misinformed. Not allowing yourself to be comfortably deluded? That is what it means to be a good citizen. To know what the truth is, and to stick to it no matter the pressure to conform.

“We’re under a lot of pressure, you know, and you put us there,” Robards’ says. “Nothing’s riding on this except the, uh, First Amendment to the Constitution, freedom of the press and maybe the future of the country. Not that any of that matters, but if you guys fuck up again, I’m going to get mad. Good night.”

All The President’s Men

Punishing Political Opponents? #ImpeachTrump

Trump is now considering revoking the security clearances of former intelligence officials who have criticized him.

Not even Richard Nixon went this far. It’s not just petty and vindictive. It’s bad for American policy. Former heads of intelligence agencies retain their security clearances so they can speak about sensitive matters with their successors and with Congress. Trump obviously doesn’t want them to.

Robert Reich

That’s right. Go after the most popular President in our lifetime, Mr. Orange Hate-Monkey. (OHM) Try to take away Barack Obama’s security clearance (What is a security clearance? Who has one and why?) Don’t mess around with the underlings from previous administrations. I mean, you act like you heft a decent sized pair of balls, you should take on the truly powerful in your current sphere not muck around with underlings. Take on the Clinton’s and the Clinton Foundation. I’ll get the popcorn out to watch those fights. This would be better television than impeachment hearings. An emasculation live on television, without all that bothersome blood. A lesson to white men everywhere. There is a limit to effective power.

But, he won’t challenge the truly powerful. This was revealed in Helsinki when he sucked Vladimir Putin’s cock live on television. The OHM has no balls, if his display of authority in Helsinki was any kind of example of his true manhood.

There are dozens of conservative pundits who are bailing out on the OHM and his racist, fascist, oligarchical kleptocracy in the making. They are bailing out because they can smell failure in the air. I don’t want to cast aspersions on Steve Schmidt (pictured at right) personally, but his cohort of conservative Republican operators created the fertile ground that the OHM’s candidacy sprouted in. They are the ones that accepted Nixon’s Southern strategy. They are the ones that built on that legacy. They are the ones that tried to navigate the tricky waters between outright, obvious racism, and just not liking the black Democrat in the White House.

Rather than just declaring that Nixon was wrong, abandoning the white nationalists and Christianist extremists that Nixon and then Reagan had saddled their party with, they kept trying to make a legitimate national party out of what has come to visibly be a regional/racial delusion, a frame of reference that can only be found within the minds of the overwhelmingly elderly, white, rural, Republicans that are virtually the only group voting for the OHM and his policies. Why they are voting for him remains the only unanswered question, because there is little doubt of the OHM’s culpability and criminality any longer.

All of this, all of it, comes from factionalization. Comes from believing that your political opponents are not just simply mistaken, but evil. Evil, malicious, law-breaking fraudulent actors. Conservatism is a political ideology, not a philosophy. Much like libertarianism, it simply does not have enough guidance, enough mental meat, to serve as a real philosophical basis for rational action. Failing to convince the rest of America that their conservative ideals were correct, political conservatives have continued isolating themselves until they can’t even accept commonly held scientific findings for fear that they controvert some pet belief of theirs. They insist on their own news outlets and their own facts. This is how ideologies fail, and modern conservatism has failed. It failed when it elected Donald Trump. It failed when it could not distinguish his lies from the truth that is all around them. If you think I’m going to cry for them, you are sadly mistaken.

Rachel Maddow points out that six of the seven people James Comey told about his meetings with Donald Trump are gone or leaving the FBI, with the one who hasn’t been made into a political punching bag, David Bowdich, firing Peter Strzok. All contrary to FBI personnel office guidance.

The OHM is destroying our justice system in front of our very eyes, and he’s doing it with the excuse that these people oppose his presidency. Yes, members of the justice department oppose your presidency Mr. OHM. Your actions are all the proof they need to justify their opposition. You can’t stop yourself from punishing people who criticize you once you’ve noticed them. It’s not in your nature. You destroy people. You always have and you always will.

Trump gave Sessions the job for the same reason Thump hired Cohen as his personal attorney.

Because he was looking for a crook.

Because he thought Sessions was a corrupt little toady with the same lack of morals as Trump himself, a guy who would abuse his office to attack Trump’s political enemies and to help Trump profit from the office and stick it to liberals and for no other reason.

And it’s right there in Trump’s own words.

Stonekettle Station

The OHM punishes the heroic and belittles the people who serve him. Most of them probably deserve belittling. Toadys. Sycophants. Yesmen. These are the kinds of people that he surrounds himself with. It’s not like this was news to anyone who knew him or knew the kinds of work he does. As I said the day he took the oath Caveat Emptor. Words to live by in the age of Trump.

This was originally part of another article that I have now broken into three parts and embroidered on all three. With any luck I’ll have the other two out by Monday, as well as an update for the Kavanaugh post.

If It Bleeds, It Leads. Same as It Ever Was

For the last year and a half the media have fawned all over His Electoral Highness, The Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) They can’t stop talking about him. They can’t be kept from giving him airtime to talk about himself. Aside from the OHM himself, his biggest fans are the media who think that what this lame duck of a leader says means anything at all. Because of the media’s fawning, I have been forced to spend the last two years ignoring everything the OHM can be heard saying with their generous gift of free airtime. I ignore everything he says because listening to him is what he wants us to do. I ignore him because attempting to make sense of what he says makes me feel ill. I ignore him because listening to him demonstrably makes you dumber; the media being a prime example of people made stupid by the sound of the OHM’s voice.

The media’s free gift of airtime helped give him the momentum to take the electoral college if not the popular vote; and now they ask, why is America so divided? If anyone should know the answer to this question it should be the media, but I wouldn’t look to them to give you a truthful answer. Division is what they want. It sells. Conflict and violence always lead the news. The division they are trying to illustrate here is largely a matter of perception. The division is almost entirely of the media’s making, their policy of going with taglines that hype the separation, the division, the conflict,

CBS Sunday MorningA polarized America – Mar 26, 2017

There’s nothing new about simmering hostility between a President and the press. As Richard Nixon once stated, “The President should treat the press just as fairly as the press treats him.”

In March of 1974, the Nixon presidency was lurching toward destruction by Watergate, and there was an ongoing tension between the President and the CBS White House correspondent:

President Nixon: “Are you running for something?”

Dan Rather: “No, sir, Mr. President, are you?”

Norm Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, was then, and remains now, a student of our political system and our media:

“We would watch network news shows and we would sit there and we would have basically a common set of facts that would emerge from them,” he said. “As we’ve moved to the new media world, the more you’ve got this cacophony of voices, the more you cut through it by, basically, shock value. And that’s why people now are driven not by their own attachment to their own parties; they’re driven by a hatred for those on the other side.” 

CBS News, The great divide: Politics in the Age of Trump

Much like Nixon ushered in the end of the Republican party that elected him, the OHM signals the ultimate end of Reaganism and Reaganomics. There will be no possibility of doubt remaining as to the bankruptcy of Reagan’s policies by the time the OHM is drummed out of office; policies which have held sway since Reagan was president. The question the media should be asking is, will the Democrats find themselves and their new direction, or will they waste their resurgence as they did with the Carter years? Let me unpack these observations for you.

The eight years of Clinton were not liberal years. The most damning thing to be said about Clinton is that he was and is Republican lite, conservative-ish. He ended welfare in the US because the conservatives demanded that he do it. Because it was something that Reagan promised and compromising with Reagan Democrats was how Bill Clinton got into office. Over and over again he proved that he wasn’t liberal in any real sense of the word. He was a conservative from the old Southern wing of Democratic conservatives who just happened to have married well. Without Hillary’s influence I am convinced he would have been even harder on the poor, even more militaristic than he was. Weirdly, I doubt that would have kept Republicans from manufacturing a scandal in their attempts to remove him.

Barack Obama was pretty close to liberal but still enacted conservative policies because conservative policies were the only ones that the conservatives in the congress he was saddled with would vaguely go for. Obamacare was and is Romneycare. That is why Romney had such a hard time dissing the ACA, because it was his idea offered by a Democratic president and he knew it. Obama was the deporter-in-Chief because, again, that is what conservatives wanted him to do. He was tough on immigration because he hoped it would win points with the other side of the aisle. Only in his last two years did he realize that Republicans would never work with him and so he spent those years ruling by executive order. The Republicans didn’t refuse to work for him because he was black if we are to take them at their word. they didn’t refuse because he was liberal because his policies prove otherwise. They refused to work with him because he was a Democrat.

The sin that Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are all guilty of is the sin of being members of the Democratic party. If they had been Republicans they would have been deemed typical centrists willing to make deals in order to get the government’s work done. It is deal making that the new conservatives hate. They are convinced that there is a true conservative ideology and all they have to do is adhere to it. Never mind that no two conservatives can agree on what conservatism is aside from prosperity gospel Jesus, a completely different kind of Jesus than that socialist hippy Jesus of the seventies. That is religion masquerading as ideology which is all conservatism has left to appeal to, the shadow of religion that Reagan rode to power on.

None of this has anything to do with real ideology beyond the ghost of Reagan that even Reaganite priests can’t quote because Reagan was more liberal than the country is now. The ghost of Reagan and his trickle-down Reaganomics is why the tax rates on the wealthiest people in the US remain low. Anyone making more than a million dollars a year should be taxed at the confiscatory rate of 99% just as the progressive tax rates did during the post-war era. During the times when the middle class grew and the poor were not quite so desperate. Back when Jesus was a socialist hippy. They should be taxed at this extreme rate because they don’t spend more when they have more, so it benefits society not one bit to allow them to keep their incredible wealth.

The subject of monetary policy is too lengthy to get into here, but in the end upper income tax rates were lowered because the increased wealth was supposed to generate more benefits for the rest of us, and the reality we live in has demonstrably proven that the opposite is true. Ergo, some form of income cap has to be reinstituted. Either a scale requiring all boats be raised when the wealthy get paid more, or confiscatory taxes on pay greater than the scale would dictate.

So here we are at the tail-end of the Reagan era, just waiting for the Reagan Democrats to bleep their last heartbeat on the heart monitor they are strapped to before we can get on with progress. It has to be those people because they are the only ones left watching TV, getting their news from TV and from radio. Those are the people who went out and voted for Trump, his core base of stormtrumpers. Those are the people who in their political ignorance voted Republican not realizing that Republicans and conservatives ran everything in the country aside from the presidency already. Politically ignorant people who don’t understand that the president’s job isn’t to fix the country, that is the job of the congress. A job the congress is supposed to achieve through legislation and funding and programs to keep the myriad systems this country depends on, running.

Unfortunately for the rest of us, conservatives have swallowed the anarchist notion that government doesn’t work. Republicans have echoed this falsehood because their base believes it, never questioning why they want to elect people to do jobs that they believe don’t need to be done. So it falls to the Democrats to make proposals for government that will work. It falls to them to prove that the poor can get a fair shake in this new America, that the wealthy don’t always get their way. Falls to the Democrats to propose the kinds of changes that populists on both sides of the aisle wanted and would get behind, because the Republicans and conservatives are too scared of socialism to even go someplace where government just might work. If the Democrats can do this, it will be the end of the Republicans for at least a generation.

What I don’t understand is how the media can’t see this happening? Why do they see fractiousness and faction rather than seeing what is really going on? The politically informed vs. the politically ignorant that gave us the current administration? Why can’t they see that they are the OHM’s biggest fans? Perhaps they can’t see it because they too are caught in a previous age. The age of the gatekeeper and the top-down administrator. The feudal society of corporate America, what is fast becoming a corporate globalism. The history of dictators and their five year plans that never worked out. They are soon to be as irrelevant as the Reagan Democrats who will be cashing their last Social Security checks soon. Checking out as movers and shakers and are left behind as the world starts dancing to a different beat.

The media and Reagan Democrats will be as baffled by the next election as they were by the last one, because they think the narrative is one they set, and not one that we the people decide.

Several facebook status posts lead to this post. Here was one.

An Open Letter to the 47 Senators Who Should Have Known Better

I am forwarding this on behalf of a friend of mine, Jim Wright. I agree with his sentiments so solidly that I feel little need to embroider them with thoughts of my own. Please feel free to peruse his article that accompanies the letter, to be found at http://www.stonekettle.com/2015/03/the-second-coming-of-richard-millhouse.html (Please forgive the misspelling. Milhouse has already forgiven him)

To the United States Senate, Attention: Tom Cotton, David Perdue, Joni Ernst, James Inhofe, John Cornyn, Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio, Roger Wicker, John Hoeven, Richard Shelby, Thom Tillis, Richard Burr, Steve Daines, Jeff Sessions, John Boozman, Cory Gardner, Shelley Moore Capito, Ron Johnson, Mark Kirk, James Lankford, Chuck Grassley, Roy Blunt, John Thune, Mike Enzi, Pat Toomey, Bill Cassidy, John Barrasso, Ted Cruz, Jim Risch, Mike Crapo, Deb Fischer, Ben Sasse, Orrin Hatch, Dean Heller, Pat Roberts, John McCain, Rand Paul, Rob Portman, Lindsey Graham, and Mike Rounds

Senators,
Now might be a good time to rethink the road you’re on.
Your partisan fanaticism and your self-admitted ill-considered actions make the Iranian government seem sane, sympathetic, reasoned and moderate in comparison.
You have measurably damaged the reputation of the United States and risked open war, the lives of millions, and the world economy, solely to further your own selfish goals. You have placed partisanship and loyalty to party above your own country and the lives of your fellows.

At this point, whatever the final outcome of your actions, history will very likely remember you in the same light as your fellow Republican, Richard Nixon – and potentially far worse.
Were I you, I’d give that some very, very serious thought.
Your oath, the oath you swore with your right hand upraised before your God, was to the United States of America.
The Pledge of Allegiance you swear is to the American flag, not the Israeli one.

Your legal, moral, and sacred obligation is to the citizens of the United States of America first, ALL OF THEM NOT JUST THE ONES WHO VOTED FOR YOU, and second to all of our allies and partners – not just Israel. Your duty extends far, far beyond the small and selfish interests of your religion and/or your political party and it is long past time for you to remember that.

I won’t presume to say you should be ashamed of your recent actions, since many of you obviously lack the capacity, but I will say it is NOT necessary to destroy the village in order to save it – and your fellow Senator John McCain should know the moral bankruptcy of that particular strategy better than anyone. What will save our nation and our world, the only thing that will ultimately save civilization itself, is that we work together, all of us – and that’s something else Captain John McCain USN(ret) and the veterans among your number should know as well. Perhaps they could explain it to the rest of you.

Respect is earned, Senators.

For people and likewise for nations, respect is earned – or lost – by every action, by every word.

Now might be a good time to consider yours.

Signed,
James Wright
Chief Warrant Officer, United States Navy (ret)
Citizen of the United States of America

It bears noting that if Ronald Reagan authorized the negotiations with Iranian terrorists holding US hostages in 1980, he was only following in the footsteps of his hero Richard Nixon, as noted in the Stonekettle Station article. I find it hard to believe that his administration only thought of negotiating with the Iranians 4 years later during Iran-Contra and not at the earlier time when it would have meant defeating Carter in the election. It simply doesn’t add up.

A copy of the letter sent to my Texas Senators.

Oliver Stone’s Nixon

Nixon (1995)

I watched Oliver Stone’s Nixon last night. I like Anthony Hopkins and I’m a history buff, so this film should have been a cakewalk for me to watch. But then we are talking about Oliver Stone, one of the worst historical filmmakers in the business. His interpretation of the Zapruder film and the theme for the JFK movie have done more harm to people’s sense of real history than most of the other hucksters selling conspiracy fantasy snake oil on the subject could ever do. It is the nature of the entertainment beast that is filmmaking.

Consequently this film was no cakewalk to get through, but rather a slow crawl naked through broken glass. I never did figure out if Stone wanted us to feel sorry for the poor bastard or hate him.

TVTAG/Facebook

The Way the 70’s Should be Remembered

Dick (1999)

glowsDick Trailer – 1999

Hands down the silliest political satire I’ve ever sat through. Equally lambasting everyone from Dick Nixon to Woodward & Bernstein, this is the way I want to remember the 70’s. Humor may be in the eye of the beholder, just as joy is in the ears that hear, but the only way to explain the panning this film gets is judging it in context with the time it was released. What time was that? Whitewater and the Clinton impeachment.

In hindsight the film becomes even funnier. At least Tricky Dick understood when he was an embarrassment to the nation, and himself. He understood that he had crossed a line, and didn’t keep trying to pretend he wasn’t a disgraced President. If only ‘W’ had employed teenage dogwalkers. Ah, the times they are a-changin.


Editor’s note. Speaking of ‘W’, I caught the trailer for W. before watching Pineapple Express on Monday. Pineapple Express would have been funny if I had been properly motivated (stoned. I mean stoned) as it was, I don’t even think it ranks getting a full review on the blog.

W. (2008) Official Trailer

I can’t imagine how Oliver Stone’s W. will fair considering that it’s airing even before the subject leaves office, although they aren’t advertising an actual air date yet. Looks like it will be funny. Is it supposed to be funny? Stone’s other movies (especially JFK) all look funny in the rear view mirror, so maybe so.