Thoughts on Life, Love, Politics, Hypocrisy and Coming Out in Mid-Life
Saturday, September 18, 2021
Trump Called White Supremacists "My People"
Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s upcoming tell-all book "Peril" - which is available on September 21st - contains many new and frightening accounts of just how dangerous and deranged Donald Trump, a/k/a Der Trumpenfuhrer was/is and the threat the man continues to pose to America and the world. Woodward and Costa interviewed more than 200 people at the center of the turmoil that was the Trump White House in its final days and compiled more than 6,000 pages of transcripts—and what Amazon describes as "a spellbinding and definitive portrait of a nation on the brink." The take aways include (i) Trump should never, ever hold power again and (ii) those who support him are equally unhinged and/or open racists and, I'm sorry to say about my Republican "friends" morally bankrupt. A willingness to close one's eyes to the reality of the Trump regime all so one can enjoy lower taxes is the height of moral depravity. A piece in Vanity Fair looks at the shockingly racist aspects of the Trump White House and Trump's embrace of white supremacists (the fear he might launch a nuclear war needs a whole separate post). Decent, moral people should be repulsed by Trump and everything he stands for. Here are article highlights:
The man [Donald Trump] is and always has been an out and out racist, and while the examples to back this up are too numerous to mention, just a small sampling includes calling for the execution of five Black and Latino teenagers; telling four congresswoman of color to “go back” to the “totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” when three-quarters of the group “came from” the U.S.; helping start an entire movement around the lie that the country’s first Black president wasn’t born here; and describing Baltimore, whose population is majority Black, as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” where “no human being” would “want to live.” But wait, you say, what about the time he banned travel to the U.S. from seven predominantly Muslim nations? Or called Mexicans rapists and criminals? Or pardoned a guy a U.S. Department of Justice expert said oversaw the worst pattern of racial profiling by a law enforcement agency in U.S. history? Or threw an absolute shit fit over the removal of statue of a Confederate general who thought Black people should be white people’s property, insisting said general was one of the greatest military leaders of all time? Obviously, if we were to include everything, we‘d be here all day.
So while it’s not at all surprising, it’s nevertheless extremely disturbing to learn that back in August 2017, not only did Trump praise a group of white nationalists and neo-Nazis and claim it had some very fine people among it, he referred to said group as “my people” while arguing with then House Speaker Paul Ryan over his remarks.
Donald Trump flipped out at then House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) for condemning white supremacists after the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, a new book claims. Ryan responded to Trump’s infamous “both sides” rhetoric about the violence at the gathering with a tweet calling white supremacy “repulsive.” Trump was apoplectic with Ryan over his comment, according to excerpts from The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s upcoming tell-all Peril that Insider published Wednesday.
Trump phoned Ryan and screamed about him not being “in the foxhole with me,” according to the book. Ryan reportedly told Trump he had “a moral leadership obligation to get this right and not declare there is a moral equivalency here.”
“These people love me. These are my people,” Trump raged at Ryan in response. “I can’t backstab the people who support me.” Ryan noted the presence of white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville. Trump admitted there were “some bad people.”
“I get that. I’m not for that. I’m against all that,” he reportedly said. “But there’s some of those people who are for me. Some of them are good people.”
In other Ryan-related revelations from Peril, Woodward and Costa report that in the wake of the 2016 election, the Republican from Wisconsin began to study Trump like a science experiment in the hopes of figuring out how to work with him. Per Insider:
Ryan, realizing that he would have to work with Trump, started researching how to deal with someone who is “amoral and transactional,” the book says. A wealthy doctor in New York, who was also a Republican donor, contacted Ryan later and told him, “You need to understand what narcissistic personality disorder is,” according to the book. . . . The book said that “Ryan studied them for weeks, convinced Trump had the personality disorder.”
Woodward and Costa do not say if Ryan subsequently started reading up on sociopaths and lunatics, but one would think that would be the natural progression of his research.
Friday, September 17, 2021
The "Big Lie" Has Become an Albatross for the GOP
The best indication that Larry Elder was going down in the California recall wasn’t the polling, although that all swung the wrong way in the final weeks, but his suggestion late in the campaign that Democrats were going to steal the election.
Preemptive excuse-making isn’t a sign of great confidence—the winning side never complains of cheating.
Sure enough, incumbent Gov. Gavin Newsom cruised to a victory made a little easier, as it happens, by Elder’s insistence that Republicans were robbed in 2020 and about to be robbed again. . . . His landslide defeat is the latest evidence that the idea the 2020 presidential election was stolen is poison for Republicans.
It’s not as though Elder, a talk-radio show host with no political experience who was running in a deep blue state and got massively outspent, was going to have an easy time regardless. But when he got pushed by Trump supporters into endorsing the stolen-election narrative, he ran directly into a Newsom political buzz saw linking him with Donald Trump and the Jan. 6 riot.
There may be other costs to come, perhaps up to and including the 2024 presidential election if Trump is the nominee again.
As my colleague at National Review, David Bahnsen writes, the stolen-election narrative is going to be an albatross “anywhere independents and moderates are needed to win an election—the backward-looking focus on the unprovable claims of a 2020 stolen election are toxic, self-defeating, and counter-productive.”
The odds were never in Elder’s favor. Still, polling during the summer showed the recall amazingly close. There was a chance Elder could define himself as an outsider worth taking a flier on, so long as he never lost sight of the fact he was running in a strongly anti-Trump state with an enormous Democratic registration advantage.
In an interview with the Sacramento Bee editorial board in August, Elder seemed aware of his situation. . . . Shortly thereafter, he appeared on a conservative talk-radio program and said he needed “a mulligan,” and related a variety of complaints about the 2020 election.
Although Elder didn’t deserve the abuse he endured during the campaign—getting smeared as an alleged tool of white supremacy and even physically assaulted at a campaign stop—here he’d given his opponents unnecessary ammunition.
If Elder had been running in a Republican primary in a red state, he would have secured his position nicely with his do-over, but he’d driven a nail in his own coffin in the recall.
The choice that was forced on Elder—admit that Biden won the election and alienate MAGA voters, or say it was stolen and alienate voters in the middle—will be faced by Republican candidates around the country for the duration.
That won’t change as long as Trump has an outsize influence on the party. He’s not letting 2020 go, rather is bent on vengeance against those Republicans he believes betrayed him by not embracing his various conspiracy theories.
Since he never admits the fairness of any loss, the number of allegedly rigged and stolen elections will only increase—the recall, Trump said in a statement, is “just another giant Election Scam, no different, but less blatant, than the 2020 Presidential Election Scam!"
This is a cynical and corrosive view of American democracy that, to the extent it becomes GOP orthodoxy, can contribute only to further Republican frustration.
I hope McAuliffe pushes Youngkin on this issue.
Thursday, September 16, 2021
The GOP’s Recall Disaster in California
California’s gubernatorial recall election was not even close. With roughly 9 million votes counted (approximately two-thirds of the total), the “no” vote on Gavin Newsom’s removal leads by nearly 30 points, or 2.6 million votes. That may exceed Newsom’s 2018 margin (62 to 38 percent). With mail-in ballots distributed to all voters, turnout was exceptionally high and may come close to the 12.7 million cast in 2018.
This was nothing short of a debacle for the Republican Party, whose stunt cost the state around $300 million — money that could well have been spent fighting forest fires, treating covid-19 patients or addressing homelessness.
Newsom was triumphant late Tuesday: “We said yes to science," he said. “We said yes to vaccines. We said yes to ending his pandemic. We said yes to people’s right to vote without fear. We said yes to women’s constitutional right to decide.”
Newsom was also indignant about the disgraced former president and the state Republicans who, before the votes were counted, rekindled the GOP’s 2020 lie that the vote was “rigged.”
The race calls into question California’s ludicrous recall system, through which a tiny percentage of voters (12 percent of those in the most recent gubernatorial race) can put a recall on the ballot. Under its rules, Elder or another Republican could have won with a plurality of the vote, even if they received, say, 20 percent of the vote.
Republicans’ effort to leverage a minority of extreme voters to overthrow a governor elected in a landslide is indicative of the party’s anti-democratic lurch, reflected in MAGA insurrectionists’ violent attempt to overthrow the 2020 presidential election and the GOP’s nationwide crusade to pass a raft of voter suppression laws.
Republicans’ humiliating defeat may further outrage taxpayers. Granted, California is a blue state, but the 2022 elections will involve a number of swing seats in the Senate and House in which Republican freshmen who barely defeated Democratic incumbents in 2020 promised moderation. Those Republicans should be concerned that Newsom fired up the “no” voters by running straight at Republicans’ anti-vaccine mandate stunts in other states and Texas’s perverse abortion bounty bill. If those issues are enough to gin up Democrats in 2022, their House and Senate majorities may be less vulnerable than normal for a first midterm election.
Take, for example, Republican Rep. Young Kim from California’s 39th Congressional District (including parts of Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties, all of which voted overwhelmingly “no” in the recall). She beat a Democratic incumbent in 2020 by a little more than 4,000 votes, or about 1.2 percent. Since then, she has voted in lockstep with GOP leadership on everything from impeachment to voting rights to the American Rescue Plan. She must be nervous that Democrats, charged up and resentful she turned out to be a rubber stamp for MAGA forces, will relish the chance to boot her out in 2022.
The same is true in California’s 48th Congressional District, covering a part of Orange County (which also voted overwhelmingly “no”). Republican Michelle Steel beat incumbent Democrat Harley Rouda 51 to 49 percent in 2020. In 2022, her constituents may also decide they have had enough of a MAGA loyalist in a party that has gone anti-democratic, anti-truth and anti-inclusion.
If Democrats can, as Newsom did, run against Trumpism, against covid-19 denial and anti-mandate hysteria, against diabolical abortion bounties, and against a party now willing to cry foul and discredit any election they lose, 2022 may turn out to be better for them than expected. Newsom certainly showed how Democrats can run effectively against Trump even when he is not on the ballot.
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
What the Never Trumpers Want Now
Many of the conservatives and Republicans appalled by Donald Trump’s presidency clutched a hope through the bewildering years: Someday this would all be over and politics would return to normal.
But normal has not returned. Those elected Republicans who stood for legality when Trump tried to overturn the 2020 election found themselves party pariahs in 2021, on their way to being out of politics altogether in 2022.
And it’s not just a few politicians who have been displaced by the Trump era. Millions of voters have been too. “Never Trump is not a political party. It is a dinner party”: That jibe was heard a lot in 2017 and 2018. It has not been heard much since. In 2018, Democratic candidates won districts that had loyally voted Republican for 30, 40, 50 years, including those once held by Eric Cantor, Newt Gingrich, and George H. W. Bush.
The anti-Trump Republicans did not return home in 2020. Now, in 2021, their former party seems much more eager to welcome anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers than to win them back.
Years ago, the late Christopher Hitchens described to me the experience of losing his faith in socialism. He felt, he said, like a man tumbling down a hill, and every time he clutched a branch to stop his fall, the branch snapped in his hands. Many former conservatives and Republicans experienced a similar disillusionment during the Trump years. In 2017, the longtime conservative commentator Bill Kristol tweeted: “The GOP tax bill’s bringing out my inner socialist. The sex scandals are bringing out my inner feminist. Donald Trump and Roy Moore are bringing out my inner liberal. WHAT IS HAPPENING?”
Once, Republicans and conservatives filled hours of cable-TV time and sold millions of books to argue the supreme importance of truthfulness, sexual fidelity, and financial integrity in a national leader. Then their party nominated and elected a president who gleefully transgressed every one of those human decencies. The minority of Republicans and conservatives who couldn’t execute the pivot were left to wonder how to reconcile what our old friends had said with what they now did.
Once, Republicans and conservatives advertised themselves as strict upholders of constitutional principle. They brandished pocket copies of the Constitution as props. Then the leader of their party incited a violent attack on Congress in an effort to overturn an election result. The minority of Republicans and conservatives who upheld legality were forced to confront the fact that their old friends had minimized and condoned the attack, and even glorified the attackers as “political hostages” and “political prisoners.”
Once, Republicans and conservatives defined themselves as the party of life. Human life was so precious that the law should require women unwillingly pregnant to give birth anyway. Then came a deadly pandemic, and suddenly “life” became less important than protecting the spring-break revenues of hotels and restaurants, or indulging the delusions and fantasies of people who got their scientific information from YouTube videos and Reddit threads. And again dissident Republicans and conservatives were left to wonder: What do we have in common with you?
This process of estrangement builds on itself.
I thought we believed X, says the dissident. You’re a bunch of hypocrites for now saying Y. You’re betraying everything I thought we believed.
No, reply the majority. We always deep down believed that Y was more important than X. We never before had to choose. Now we do. And if you choose X over Y, it’s you who are betraying us.
Economists call this “revealed preference”: a choice between two competing alternatives that forces the chooser to discover her highest values. Pro-Trump and anti-Trump conservatives have often each been mutually horrified to discover how radically their highest values differed from those of old allies and former comrades.
Not only differ—but diverge. Maybe the future pro-Trump Republican was always slightly more sympathetic to authoritarianism, maybe slightly more tolerant of corruption than the future anti-Trump Republican. Then Trump shoved authoritarianism and corruption into the political debate—and suddenly people who liked Trump were forced into positions they had never planned to take.
On November 7, 2020, former Trump Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney published an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal headlined: “If he loses, Trump will concede gracefully.” That of course proved a historically false prediction.
I wonder if it was not also a coping device for Mulvaney himself. Mulvaney faced the question: What would he personally do if Trump turned traitor to the Constitution and attacked the election result? He did not want to think about a terrible possibility, and so he denied the reality of that possibility. On January 7, 2021, Mulvaney resigned from the mostly honorific position of U.S. special envoy for Northern Ireland. “We didn’t sign up for what we saw last night,” he told a TV interviewer.
[S]ome people did walk it, and they too rapidly found themselves in places they had never expected to go. They found themselves political exiles, banished or self-banished from the political home of a lifetime. This was a metaphorical exile only, not the shattering disaster of physical exile. For most anti-Trump conservatives, the losses of political exile have been emotional, cultural, and spiritual rather than material. . . . . Our political attachments often matter much more to us than our political ideas—which is why, when forced to choose, so many Republicans and conservatives discarded their former ideas in order to preserve their former attachments.
Many Democrats and liberals may wonder at this point: So what? Who cares? Why is any of this our problem? But it is their problem, like it or not. . . . . Democratic loyalists may find it exasperating to be urged to worry about these fickle new supporters. Republican leaders pamper and flatter their base with scant regard for uneasy moderates. Why shouldn’t Democrats do the same?
But Democrats know the answer. Democrats cannot do the same because their situation is not the same. The Democrats cannot win with a base-first strategy. Their base is not cohesive or big enough, and does not live in the places favored by the rules of U.S. politics.
Yet this disparity is not ultimately a disadvantage. The comparative weakness of the Democratic base obliges Democrats to build broad national coalitions of a kind that Republicans have not achieved since the days of the Chrysler K-Car. And those broader coalitions in turn deliver better government than would or could be delivered by a narrower ideological faction.
Thanks to Trump, Democrats find themselves leading a coalition more affluent and less progressive than the coalition many Democratic activists might desire.
It’s the former cultural core of the GOP—the college-educated, the professional, the suburban—that is exiting the party. It’s that core that will, if permitted, realign American politics. What do these recent arrivals bring with them to their new political destination? They’re often described as combining social liberalism with economic conservatism, but that is too broad and too imprecise a description. Here are five more specific ways that Never Trumpers may change the Democratic Party.
Donald Trump hoped to reverse the 2020 election by junking votes after they were cast. His successors more shrewdly hope to decide the next election by suppressing votes before they can be cast in the first place, or by gerrymandering voters in such a way that they don’t count equally.
For the Never Trump newcomers, however, democracy is issue one. January 6 was the true last straw for them—and preventing the next January 6 their top-of-mind issue. Democracy may not be the issue that motivates the most economically hard-pressed voters. But the less hard-pressed people who are painting the Sun Belt suburbs blue? Many of them live in places where their state governments are controlled by overrepresented rural voters. Their kids are exposed to COVID-19 in schools because overrepresented constituencies can overrule the majorities who want safety protocols.
The U.S. and global scientific communities have delivered incredible advances at record speed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. It took only a few days for scientists to crack the virus’s genetic code, only a few weeks for scientists to understand how the virus spread, less than a year to develop effective vaccines.
And for their efforts, they were reviled by one of the country’s great parties as enemies of the people.
When your political coalition attracts support from millions of professionals, its respect for professional expertise rises. That’s how Democrats have become the party that acknowledges climate science and encourages vaccination, while Republicans tend toward the opposite.
Yet Democrats have their blind spots too, where their own constituencies elevate ideology over expert knowledge. . . . On all these issues, many Democrats are as far removed from “the science” as many Republicans are on vaccines or climate. This expertise gap obviously exacts severe real-world consequences. It also may inflict drastic potential political costs.
Globalism is a label for the quickening pace of cross-border immigration, trade, investment, information, and organization. The economic relationship among these factors is complex. Theoretically, it’s possible to have some without others. But the psychological relationship among the different elements of globalism tends to be more straightforward. Like some of them, and you will probably like all of them; fear any of them, and you will probably fear all of them.
Trump, however, successfully consolidated the fearers into his Republican Party. Hostility to immigration, trade, and almost any form of international cooperation became a defining theme of his presidency.
Trump held the support of those Americans most immediately harmed by his isolationism by lavishing them with direct cash payments. American farmers lost foreign markets—and got federal subsidies instead. In election year 2020, direct aid from the Trump administration provided one-third of all farm income. But other Americans who bought and sold on global markets got no such compensation for Trump’s economic sabotage.
In 2020, Biden appealed to globally minded America by promising to welcome immigrants and to stop insulting allies. But he mimicked the trade skepticism of Donald Trump. If the ex-Republicans extruded by Trump make a more permanent home inside the Democratic Party, however, trade skepticism will come under pressure. It may be good politics in Flint, Michigan, and Allentown, Pennsylvania. But it isn’t as effective in Northern Virginia and South Florida, in Silicon Valley and North Carolina’s Research Triangle. Retaining Never Trumpers requires discarding not only the snarling aggression of “America First” but also the quivering apprehension of “Buy American.”
Days after the 2020 vote, Representative Abigail Spanberger complained to Democratic colleagues about the harm done to House members by reckless ideological rhetoric. “We need to not ever use the word ‘socialist’ or ‘socialism’ ever again ... We lost good members because of that.” The slogan “Defund the police,” she said, had done even more damage.
The crime wave of 2020–21, and the unceasing surge of unauthorized people across the southern border, has created a sense of disorder and threat. . . . Traditional Republicans and Republican-leaners are swayed by those same influences.
Fiscal and economic issues may not seem to matter in the abstract. But when economic over-stimulus feeds into rising prices at the store, when protectionist trade policy foments electronics shortages that prolong the waiting time for delivery of new cars, when and if middle-of-the-road voters get the impression that economic policy is being driven by interest-group agendas and extreme ideologies—all of that can matter a lot.
Republican excesses offered Democrats an opportunity to remake themselves as the party of the broad American center. That center can be moved, but only by people who demonstrate that they respect its values: security and continuity.
Donald Trump lived by the old dictum that nice guys finish last. He proved it wrong. In 2020, Trump finished second in a two-person race—that is, last—in great part because Americans perceived him as nasty.
You’ll recall that Trump got considerably more than 33 percent of the vote. A large number of Americans voted for Trump despite—or possibly because of—his offensive behavior and intemperate language. For those former Republicans who broke ranks against Trump, however, the behavior and language mattered, and mattered a lot.
Here’s the warning for the future: The Democratic Party is also home to some abrasive loudmouths. And although none of those abrasive loudmouths has mounted a serious campaign for the presidency, some hold other high offices, and others occupy visible places in the media. Liberal communities tolerate and even approve of language about white men like Mike Baker that they would never tolerate or approve of about anybody else. That language exacts immense political costs.
The influx of anti-Trump Republicans into the Biden coalition should highlight the importance of discouraging that kind of talk. Some advice from Franklin D. Roosevelt remains timely today. In 1936, the then-chair of the Democratic National Committee had publicly mocked Roosevelt’s likely opponent, Alf Landon, as nothing more than the governor of a “typical prairie state” (Kansas, as it happened). Republicans seized on these dismissive words. Roosevelt wrote to scold his chair. It was bad politics, he said, for New Yorkers like themselves to speak disrespectfully of other parts of the country. If there had to be any characterization, make it positive. Roosevelt suggested instead describing Kansas as “one of our splendid prairie states.” Roosevelt carried the Midwest in 1936, including Kansas.
The pro-Trump Republicans and conservatives got one thing right about their anti-Trump former comrades: Never Trump was not fundamentally a political movement. It was a moral reflex. Will that reflex now be integrated into normal politics in the post-Trump era? If it can, it will transform American politics—and very possibly save the country from the forces of polarization, extremism, bigotry, and authoritarianism.
The Ties Between Anti-Abotionists and Racists
[O]pinions on abortion are also closely connected with racial attitudes: Whites who score high on measures of racial resentment and racial grievance are far more likely to support strict limits on abortion than whites who score low on these measures. This is part of a larger picture in which racial attitudes are increasingly linked with opinions on a wide range of disparate issues including social welfare issues, gun control, immigration and even climate change. The fact that opinions on all of these issues are now closely interconnected and connected with racial attitudes is a key factor in the deep polarization within the electorate that contributes to high levels of straight ticket voting and a declining proportion of swing voters.
Some of the scholars and journalists studying the evolving role of abortion in American politics make the case that key leaders of the conservative movement in the late 1970s and early 1980s — among them Richard Viguerie, Paul Weyrich, Phyllis Schlafly and Jerry Falwell Sr. — were seeking to expand their base beyond those opposed to the civil rights movement. According to this argument, conservative strategists settled on a concerted effort to politicize abortion in part because it dodged the race issue and offered the opportunity to unify conservative Catholics and Evangelicals.
“The anti-abortion movement has been remarkably successful at convincing observers that the positions individuals take on the abortion issue always follow in a deductive way from their supposed moral principles. They don’t,” Katherine Stewart, the author of the 2019 book “The Power Worshipers, wrote in an email.
In 1978, the hostile reaction to an I.R.S. proposal to impose taxes on churches running segregated private schools (“seg academies” for the children of white southerners seeking to avoid federally mandated school integration orders) provided the opportunity to mobilize born again and evangelical parishioners through the creation of the Moral Majority. As Stewart argues, Viguerie, Weyrich and others on the right were determined to find an issue that could bring together a much larger constituency:
As Weyrich understood, building a new movement around the burning issue of defending the tax advantages of racist schools wasn’t going to be a viable strategy on the national stage. “Stop the tax on segregation” just wasn’t going to inspire the kind of broad-based conservative counterrevolution that Weyrich envisioned.
After long and contentious debate, conservative strategists came to a consensus, Stewart writes: “They landed upon the one surprising word that would supply the key to the political puzzle of the age: ‘abortion.’ ”
Abortion opponents are more likely to be committed to a patriarchal worldview in which the control of reproduction, and female sexuality in particular, is thought to be central in maintaining a gender hierarchy that (as they see it) sustains the family, which they claim is under threat from secular, modern forces.
Abortion is among the most intractable issues dividing the parties, with little or no room for compromise.
On one side, opponents of the procedure argue that “at the moment of fusion of human sperm and egg, a new entity comes into existence which is distinctly human, alive, and an individual organism — a living, and fully human
On the other side, abortion rights proponents contend, in the words of the Center for Reproductive Rights, that “Laws that restrict abortion have the effect and purpose of preventing a woman from exercising any of her human rights or fundamental freedoms on a basis of equality with men.”
It wasn’t always this way. Fifty years ago, the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in St. Louis approved what by the standards of 1971 was a decisively liberal resolution on abortion:
Be it further resolved, that we call upon Southern Baptists to work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of severe fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother.
This year, at a June meeting in Nashville, the Baptist convention demonstrated just how much has changed on the religious right when it comes to abortion. Members endorsed a resolution declaring: “We affirm that the murder of preborn children is a crime against humanity that must be punished equally under the law,” pointedly repudiating past equivocation on the issue. . .
Randall Balmer, a professor of religion at Dartmouth and the author of a new book, “Bad Faith: Race and the Rise of the Religious Right,” looked at conservative strategizing in a recent op-ed in the Guardian. In his essay, Balmer recounted a 1990 meeting of conservatives in Washington at which Weyrich spoke:
Remember, Weyrich said animatedly, that the religious right did not come together in response to the Roe decision. No, Weyrich insisted, what got the movement going as a political movement was the attempt on the part of the Internal Revenue Service to rescind the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University because of its racially discriminatory policies, including a ban on interracial dating that the university maintained until 2000.
Balmer wrote, “Opposition to abortion became a convenient diversion — a godsend, really — to distract from what actually motivated their political activism: the defense of racial segregation in evangelical institutions.”
The same is true, Ballmer continued, of many politicians who have become adamant foes of abortion:
At a time when open racism was becoming unfashionable, these politicians needed a more high-minded issue, one that would not compel them to surrender their fundamental political orientation. And of course the beauty of defending a fetus is that the fetus demands nothing in return — housing, health care, education — so it’s a fairly low-risk advocacy.
The reality in the 1970s was that the surging rights movements — rights for African Americans, women’s rights, reproductive rights, gay rights, rights for criminal defendants and for the mentally ill — had set the stage for what would become an explosive conservative reaction,
“There is a persistent association between abortion views and ethnoracial exclusion,” Bart Bonikowski, a professor of sociology at N.Y.U., wrote in an email:
What has happened is that both issue positions have become increasingly sorted by party, so that being anti-choice or holding exclusionary beliefs is a clear marker of Republican affiliation, whereas being pro-choice or defining the nation in inclusive terms signals Democratic identity. The same has happened to a wide range of other issues, from health care and voting rights to mask-wearing and vaccination during the Covid-19 pandemic — across all of these domains, policy views increasingly demarcate partisan identity.
David Leege, professor emeritus of political science at Notre Dame, has an additional explanation for the process linking racial animosity and abortion. In an email, he wrote:
For the target populations — evangelical Protestants — whom Viguerie, Weyrich, and Falwell sought to mobilize, racial animosity and abortion attitudes are related but mainly in an indirect way, through aversion toward intellectual elites. . . . . namely, the highly educated from New England, banking, universities, the Northern cities, and elsewhere.
In short, Leege wrote, “although the policy domain may differ, the hated people are the same.”
Monday, September 13, 2021
Tying 9/11 to the January 6 Attack on the Capitol
Former President George W. Bush was entirely correct in his comments marking the 20th anniversary of 9/11 Saturday when he drew a comparison between the 9/11 attackers and those who waged the January 6 act of "domestic terrorism." While Bush didn't mention the attack by name, it was clear he was invoking it when he said that our nation has seen "growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders, but from violence that gathers within."
I vocally disagreed with Bush on policy issues when he served in the White House. But the former President struck the right tone when he noted that, while there "is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home," they share the same "disdain for pluralism" and "disregard for human life," as evidenced "in their determination to defile national symbols."
When Bush stated that both the 9/11 and domestic violent extremists wanted to "defile national symbols," I instantly thought of how the January 6 attackers laid siege to our Capitol and how the 9/11 terrorists had also plotted to strike the Capitol (or the White House) with the fourth plane, United 93. It was hard not to notice, given that Bush was speaking in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the very place that plane crashed when heroic passengers rushed the terrorists in control of the cockpit.
Bush then added point-blank that both foreign and domestic terrorists "are children of the same foul spirit." He concluded with a call to action, "It is our continuing duty to confront them."
The 9/11 terrorists and the January 6 attackers do share the same "foul spirit." One glaring difference is that the al Qaeda attackers were incited and directed by Osama bin Laden, while the January 6 attackers were incited by an American President, Donald Trump.
It was Trump who for the two months after the election radicalized people with a tsunami of lies, claiming that the election was "stolen." Trump then specifically called his supporters to come to Washington, DC, on January 6 to assist in his efforts to "Stop the steal." And during the rally on that tragic day, Trump implored the crowd to act with lines like, "We're stuck with a President who lost the election by a lot and we have to live with that for four more years," adding, "We're just not going to let that happen."
We all saw what followed as MAGA supporters tried to "stop the steal" by attacking the Capitol . . . . the greatest threat posed to our nation is not from foreign terrorists but from domestic extremists -- as the FBI has noted -- including those who subscribe to Trump's election lies.
As the DHS bulletin stated, "Some conspiracy theories associated with reinstating former President Trump have included calls for violence if desired outcomes are not realized."
This should not come as a surprise. For several months now, Trump has been using campaign rallies to repeat the very election lies that incited the January 6 act of domestic terrorism.
Trump has even publicly defended the January 6 attackers as "peaceful people" and "great people," while calling the police officer who killed an attacker attempting to breach a secured area in the Capitol a "murderer."
Here's Trump on the anniversary of 9/11, spewing the exact type of lie that incited the January 6 attack which resulted in Trump supporters brutally beating and injuring over 140 police officers -- and he's doing this to a room full of police officers. That level of arrogance and detachment from reality is dangerous.
The 9/11 terrorists, the January 6 attackers and Donald Trump do indeed share the "same foul spirit." If we want to keep America truly safe from domestic terrorists, that means that all involved in the January 6 attack must be brought to justice. And that includes the man who incited that act of domestic terrorism: Donald J. Trump.
Sunday, September 12, 2021
Biden's Vaccine Mandate Wins Business Community Support
Bob Harvey’s phone did not ring. In Washington, a political furor had erupted over President Biden’s new coronavirus vaccine and testing mandate for businesses, with Republicans howling about an unconstitutional power grab and vowing to challenge him in the courts.
But in Houston, where Harvey heads the city’s largest business group, employers took the news in stride.
“I have not heard from my members today, which is interesting. I think the reason is what he announced is so in line with the conversations we’ve been having,” Harvey, the chief executive officer of the Greater Houston Partnership, said Friday. “This will come as a relief to the business community, to have an order that requires all of them to move together.”
The president’s decision to require medium and large companies to subject their employees to mandated vaccination or weekly coronavirus testing represents a sharp expansion of the federal government’s workplace powers, according to political scientists and legal experts. ….. it also amounted to an unapologetic offensive in the culture wars that have divided the country and inflamed its politics.
Instead of directly mandating Americans take the vaccine, Biden effectively outsourced the job to the business community. But unlike previous White House interventions in the market — notably including President Barack Obama’s 2010 health insurance mandate — Biden’s action was welcomed by many bosses.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) called Biden’s move “an assault on private businesses,” but businesses in his state’s largest city did not see it that way.
“The context in which this is occurring really matters,” said Harvey, a former energy industry executive. “We’ve been hit hard by this fourth wave [of the virus] … and employers simply must play a role in addressing this problem. We’ve tried it every other way.”
In a recent survey, 23 percent of partnership members already required coronavirus vaccines for some or all employees and an additional 30 percent were considering doing so. Of the remaining members that were not, most said they feared that some workers would quit rather than submit.
The president’s blanket order, applying to all companies with at least 100 employees, eliminated that worry, Harvey said.
Employers in the Houston area have been talking for weeks about what to do in response to the virulent delta strain of the coronavirus, which has emptied workplaces and filled hospitals, Harvey said. Now, they can get down to it.
“The reality is there are a number of businesses that are wanting the government to step in. This gives them the cover to do what they want to do anyway,” said Charles Shipan, a political scientist at the University of Michigan.
Indeed, the vocal Republican opposition to the president’s initiative threatens to leave the GOP at odds with its traditional business constituency.
Harvey’s group has members in 11 counties, nine of which backed former president Donald Trump last year, and includes numerous companies in traditionally conservative industries, such as oil and banking. Among them: ExxonMobil, Chevron, JPMorgan and Wells Fargo.Biden’s new covid plan also drew backing from some national business groups, such as the Business Roundtable, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the American Apparel and Footwear Association.
The president said he was acting, in part, to protect the economic recovery. In recent weeks, the resurgent virus has drained momentum from industries that had been rebounding, such as the airlines.
Employers added just 235,000 jobs last month, well below economists’ expectations, and forecasts for September aren’t much better.
If the need for federal action last week seemed clear, the response in some quarters to Biden’s announcement was hostile.
Several Republican governors, including in Texas, Georgia, and South Dakota, vowed to fight the mandate in court.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said Biden and the Democrats had “declared war against capitalism” and he pledged to “fight them to the gates of hell to protect the liberty and livelihood of every South Carolinian.”
Social media chatter about workers quitting their jobs rather than complying with the new federal mandate has left Wall Street economists unimpressed. Michael Feroli of JPMorgan Chase called it “noise,” pointing out that employees who quit are not eligible for unemployment insurance. . . . And cautious service-sector workers might be drawn back into the labor force if it appeared that more of their co-workers were likely to be immunized, he said.
Biden has ordered the Labor Department to write an emergency rule requiring employers with more than 100 workers to demand weekly tests or proof of vaccination. Violations are punishable with fines up to $14,000 each. Up to 80 million Americans could be covered by the action.
Frankly, I would go one step further: make vaccine refusers the bottom priority for medical treatment. ICU units should be reserved for those who have acted responsibly and need care for heart attacks, strokes, accident injuries, etc. These people deserve treatment before those who through stupidity or insane ideology have refused to act to protect themselves and others. If this cause some refusers to die, I for one will shed no tears.