The Projection of All Their Fears: Justice and the Commonwealth

Few things illustrate the issues for all those “economically anxious” Trump supporters quite as well as the chain e-mail forwarded by the President’s lawyer: “You cannot be against General Lee and be for General Washington,” the email reads, “there literally is no difference between the two men.”  To repeat the obvious — yes you can.  You can differentiate between slave owners who created an imperfect Constitution (containing safeguards for slave owners) but who had the intelligence and foresight to establish a framework for freedom which could be perfected — to create a “more perfect union,” — and the slave owners who rebelled against this perfectable union and led an insurrection that sought to enshrine slavery from sea to sea.   The hoary old, and utterly illogical, silly syllogism that if you object to Lee you must then object to Washington requires the believer to reduce everything to whether or not a person practiced chattel slavery — and to ignore all other elements.  The repetition of this canard says more about those who adopt it than it says about any 18th or 19th century slave owner.

It says they are afraid, very afraid of losing their “culture.”  If a person’s “culture” includes the veneration of icons of rebellion, white supremacy, and chattel slavery as a part of one’s “heritage,” then it’s time to rethink that “culture and heritage.” This exercise can be extremely difficult for some “fragile whites.”   One of the most fragile appears to be Virginia Senate Candidate Republican Corey Stewart who commented: “The left isn’t doing this to redecorate some parks. They are going after the Founders next, to undermine the Founding Documents.”   Fragile white people live on a perpetually slippery slope.

To question a person’s racial biases is to “attack,” an attack must be nefarious, the nefarious attack must be from some equally objectionable direction, even if this requires attributing motives which are not in evidence.  Thus Stewart can maintain that questioning his support for white supremacists is an assault from some universal cabal composed of opponents of The Founders and their Founding Documents.  Perhaps those who feel assaulted might want to consider that predicating one’s sense of self on the basis of the coloration of a layer of skin, skin so thin it can be cut with a piece of paper, is a very fragile thing indeed.

That fragility creates its own environment of fear — the fear that a white person might have to compete for a job with a person of color, without giving the paler person an automatic edge.  The fear that a white person may not automatically assume an advantage in commerce, education, and in the judicial system.  The following paragraph summarizes this sentiment:

“They see all of this talk about Black Lives Matter and the importance of diversity, including through policies like affirmative action. They see recent moves to tear down Confederate monuments in the South. And they themselves have likely been accused of racism at some point in their lives, making them defensive and angry.” [Vox]

Skin coloration is an extremely thin basis for self esteem; frustration and anger are an even more fragile basis for a successful political ideology — leading as they do to short term gains with practically guaranteed long term losses.   This perspective is unjust, and as St. Augustine advised: “Where there is no justice there is no commonwealth.”

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Filed under Nativism, Politics, racism, Republicans

Heller’s Dipsy Doodle on Health Care: Centene Edition

Here we have Senator Dean Heller’s comments on access to health care insurance in Nevada — and some translation.

“I welcome Centene’s announcement that it will offer plans on the Nevada exchange, providing Nevadans with additional health care options so that no county in our state is bare. I was proud to work with Governor Sandoval to make sure that people living in all of Nevada’s 17 counties have the option to purchase coverage on the exchange next year,” said Senator Dean Heller. “Nevadans have been left with dwindling choices when it comes to their health care coverage, and it’s more evidence that Obamacare is failing. That’s why I continue to work for health care solutions – like the Graham-Cassidy-Heller plan – that return power to the states, protect Nevada’s most vulnerable, and repeal Obamacare’s onerous mandates that continue to squeeze hardworking Nevadans who can least afford it.”

Huh?  Working with Governor Sandoval to make sure people can purchase health insurance plans in the individual market certainly wasn’t in evidence when Senator Heller voted in favor of the last Senate version of the risible ‘repeal and replace with nothing’ bill.

And, no, the ‘dwindling choices” aren’t the product of failing ACA provisions — the choices are dwindling because insurance corporations are facing unpredictable (anathema to insurance) situations created by the President’s threat to cut the cost sharing provisions, which Senator Heller persists in inferring are “insurance company bailouts.”

And, there’s that Graham-Cassidy amendment to which Senator Heller amended himself, which turns Medicaid into a block grant program with an altered formula and which cuts lower income family’s access to affordable insurance plans in the individual market.  That, to put it mildly, isn’t a solution.

And so it goes…into the 2018 election.

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Filed under Health Care, health insurance, Heller, Nevada news, Nevada politics, Politics

Talking Points — Reference Points

These White House Talking Points have been publicized, compliments of The Atlantic, and should be used to evaluate the comments of local, state, and national Republicans as they respond to the White Nationalist assault on Charlottesville, VA.

The President was entirely correct — both sides of the violence in Charlottesville acted inappropriately, and bear some responsibility.
Despite the criticism, the President reaffirmed some of our most important Founding principles: We are equal in the eyes of our Creator, equal under the law, and equal under our Constitution.

What-About-Ism run rampant. “Both sides??”  They have to be kidding — a group of goons marching with their Tiki Torches onto a university campus trying to replicate the torch parades of Hitler’s minions, were acting “appropriately?”

He has been a voice for unity and calm, encouraging the country to “rediscover the bonds of love and loyalty that brings us together as Americans.”
He called for the end of violence on all sides so that no more innocent lives would be lost.

“Voice for unity?”  Would you be speaking of the self-same individual who was cited by the Nixon Administration for violations of the Fair Housing statutes?  Of the person who called for the death penalty for the Central Park 5, and who later refused to accept that these kids were innocent beyond any reasonable — and scientific — doubt?  The person who tasked his Department of Justice with investigating college affirmative action programs to see if they discriminated against whites?  The person who convened a fraudulent vote suppression commission to perpetuate his lies about vote fraud, and to rationalize vote suppression?

The President condemned – with no ambiguity – the hate groups fueled by bigotry and racism over the weekend, and did so by name yesterday, but for the media that will never be enough.

Yes, after a ton (or a tonne) of public pressure and a wave of approbation came flying his way.

The media reacted with hysteria to the notion that counter-protesters showed up with clubs spoiling for a fight, a fact that reporters on the ground have repeatedly stated.
Even a New York Times reporter tweeted that she “saw club-wielding “antifa” beating white nationalists being led out of the park.”
The local ACLU chapter also tweeted that
We should not overlook the facts just because the media finds them inconvenient:
From cop killing and violence at political rallies, to shooting at Congressmen at a practice baseball game, extremists on the left have engaged in terrible acts of violence.

And at this point he returns to the “Fake News” theatrical gas lighting.  Yes, there have been killings — but the incidents cited by the White House are a loose amalgam of guilt by association incidents, while the Charlottesville rally was planned by white supremacists, for white supremacists, and these despicable people wanted to ‘nationalize’ their message.

The President is taking swift action to hold violent hate groups accountable.
The DOJ has opened a civil rights investigation into this weekend’s deadly car attack.
Last Thursday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced it had completed the largest prosecution of white supremacists in the nation’s history.
Leaders and the media in our country should join the president in trying to unite and heal our country rather than incite more division.

Yes, and the Department of Justice decided to decline a grant for an organization which helps restore former neo-Nazis to productive lives, and to take the spotlight OFF white supremacist and other American Terrorists instead focusing on foreign terrorism?

“Unite and heal our country?”  This, from the man who said Mexicans were drug dealers and rapists? From the man who said a judge with an Hispanic name couldn’t be fair to him? From the man who said Muslim refugees are all potential terrorists?  From the man who demonized Muslims in his campaign rallies?  From the man who couldn’t remember David Duke, whom he’d previously condemned? From the man who said if he was rich enough, entitled enough, that grabbing women in the private lady parts was OK?

So, we can take the White House talking points and use them to measure the statements issued by state and local GOP politicians.

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Filed under Nativism, Politics, racism, Republicans

Meanwhile back at the local GOP offices

I’m just going to leave these here — for those who believe that this is some sort of inflection point for the Republican Party —

There’s this from Flagstaff, Arizona:

“Donald Young, a Flagstaff Trump supporter, said he thought Trump made an “outstanding statement” against the hatred and violence in Charlottesville.
Young said including “many sides” in the statement included the Black Lives Matter Movement and anti-conservative actions at Berkeley.
“He was talking about the ultra-left as well as the ultra-right,” Young said.
Young said “no rational person” would say Nazis and white supremacists have been empowered by Trump, and said he is not in favor of any group that tries to divide the country.”

And, another voice from Flagstaff:

“White supremacists might feel empowered by Trump in the same way the Black Lives Matter movement may have felt empowered by Barack Obama, Staveley said, calling Black Lives Matter a “hate group.” “Did either president do anything to empower these people?” Staveley asked. “Obama did not come out with any strong language against Black Lives Matter, and they were a violent, anarchistic group. I do see similarities between the two.”

From the Republican GOP Chairman in Virginia:

“The president’s statements were unequivocal in opposing hatred, and so his statements were in line with the Republican base on this,” said Virginia GOP Chairman John Whitbeck. “I don’t see any scenario where grassroots conservatives are sitting there picking apart the president’s every word and rethinking support for him.”

From North Carolina:

Carter Wrenn, a veteran North Carolina-based Republican strategist: “I’m not a Trump fan, but I didn’t see any problem with what he said. I thought he made it pretty clear he disapproved of what happened.”

From Iowa:

Steve Scheffler, the Iowa Republican national committeeman who also heads the state’s socially conservative Faith & Freedom Coalition, said he was troubled by the criticism leveled at Trump by members of his own party in Washington, specifically U.S. senators.

“Why don’t these senators go and have a private conversation with him instead of making a public statement,” said Scheffler, who stressed that he supported condemning the white supremacist groups themselves “in the strongest terms.” “I suspect that a lot of it has to do with politics.”

“I’m getting fed up to the top of my head with some of these pontificating Republican senators in particular, who seem to try and find every opportunity just to take a dig at the president,” he said.”

Lancaster, Pennsylvania:

County Commission member: “Our president, and that’s what we need to call Donald Trump, is ‘our president,’ ” he said. “He’s everybody’s president and so I respect that office. There’s some comments he’s made that I don’t necessarily agree with. But all in all, he’s surrounded himself with some awfully good people. So in that regard, I think he’s doing a lot of good.”

Meanwhile in Connecticut:

A state GOP leader says she’s sorry for a Facebook rant — posted in the wake of the deadly melee in Charlottesville, Va., incited by white supremacists— referring to immigrants who commit crimes as “junk people” who “deserve what they get.”

“As for xenophobia, what a bunch of crock. I’m tired for paying for every foreigner showing up, some of whom are here just to make trouble instead of settling and making something of themselves,” Patricia Fers, a Republican State Central Committee member from Ansonia, posted early Sunday morning. “Those junk people who won’t support themselves and who do by crime deserve what they get.”

If a person can’t tell the difference between a Black Lives Matter member advocating for increased respect by law enforcement personnel for members of minority communities and a Neo-Nazi, there’s probably not much we can say to help the individual.

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And then he spoke, wrecking the message in three words

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,” Trump said, then repeating, “On many sides.” [Trump]

It would have been a stronger statement had the President left off those last three little words, “On many sides.”  There was only one side meriting condemnation today — the Neo-Nazi White Supremacists who descended on Charlottesville like so many locusts.  There is NO moral equivalence between the racists and the counter-protesters.  There never has been such and equivalence, and there never will be.

“He called on “swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives,” and said that, “No child should ever be afraid to go outside and play or be with their parents and have a good time.”

This isn’t a matter of law and order.  It’s a problem of what to do with white nationalist (Neo-Nazi/White Supremacist) terrorists who insist they are  “exercising their rights” while intimidating, bullying, and terrorizing their fellow citizens.  He continued:

“No matter our color, creed, religion or political party,” he said, “we are all Americans first. We love our country, we love our God, we love our flag, we’re proud of our country, we’re proud of who we are, so we want to get the situation straightened out in Charlottesville and want to study it and see what we’re doing wrong in this country.”

It was a good start for the paragraph, and then it got mushy.  We want to “study it?” IT has, as the occupant of the Oval Office proclaimed, been around a long time.  It’s called racism. It’s purveyors are white supremacists.  The general category is “domestic terrorism.”

Perhaps the President thinks there is something more that needs examination? However, his anti-Islamic views have administrative results, as we discovered last February:

 “The Trump administration wants to revamp and rename a U.S. government program designed to counter all violent ideologies so that it focuses solely on Islamist extremism, five people briefed on the matter told Reuters.

The program, “Countering Violent Extremism,” or CVE, would be changed to “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism,” the sources said, and would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States.”

So, no “racist domestic terror attack” in Portland?  No domestic terrorism at the Minnesota mosque?  Perhaps IT does need more study by this administration, given that the President’s notion that most US terrorism convictions after 2001 were handed down to foreigners, an obvious falsehood .

A statement which should have revealed moral clarity, managed instead to muddle itself into “both sides do it,” and “violence” in highly generalized terms complicating what should have been a simple matter.

Mr. Trump was very clear that words matter, as in “radical Islamic terrorism,” but he has a baffling tendency to muffle and mix his own message when he can’t seem to pronounce the words, “Neo-Nazi, white supremacist, domestic terrorism.”

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Filed under Politics, racism

GOP and the Great White Whine

There are Neo-Nazis parading in Charlottesville, Virginia.  Young mostly, male mostly, and all white.  They’re convinced, probably radicalized online, that (1) they are the master race; (2) they are victims; and (3) they are ‘free’ to display their hatred and bigotry in public spaces.  They are the Great White Whine.

And the man in the White House is silent.

If they weren’t white and they decided to conduct a march with burning tiki torches they’d probably find out what ‘oppression’ feels like.  If they weren’t white and decided to show up for their rally armed, then they’d probably find out what ‘oppression’ looks like.  If they weren’t white, and they showed up calling for “Power” they’d assuredly find out what ‘oppression’ sounds like.

And the man in the White House is silent.

A thug, and these are thugs, don’t necessarily have to wear hoodies and jeans; they can just as easily be clad in khaki trousers and golf shirts.  If the Neo-Nazis proved nothing else today they’ve at least provided proof of this truth.  Interesting isn’t it, that African Americans, some 13% of the American population, honor Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, fly the Stars and Stripes with pride, and make up 17% of our active duty military.  People of Hispanic heritage constitute about 18% of our population, and make up 12% of our active duty military — three times their number in 1980.  The Neo-Nazis gathered in Virginia waved the Stars and Bars, the battle flag of treason and traitors to the Union instead of the Stars and Stripes.  It takes a major amount of chutzpah for them to declare themselves “Patriots.”

And the man in the White House is silent.

Thus far the only comment from the White House came from the First Lady, herself an immigrant, to say: “Our country encourages freedom of speech, but let’s communicate w/o hate in our hearts. No good comes from violence.”  Granted this isn’t a full throated denunciation of Neo-Nazism, but it’s more than any other White House figure has ventured.

And, still the man in the White House is silent.

And, his silence is a grave danger to the Republican Party.  Ordinarily I’d not spend much thought on how the Republican Party should position itself for success in this country, but this is serious.  I do believe in a two party system, I do believe there is a place and purpose for conservative policy arguments — I don’t have to agree with them, but that “free speech” part is important.  If the current administration continues to be associated with Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, and other thugs then the human propensity to append guilt by association will engage.  If David Duke marches with his fellow Neo-Nazi White Supremacist thugs, and the administration make no official (and stern) condemnation, then the guilt by association will have more potential traction.

And still the man in the White House is silent.

The man in the White House has yet to condemn the attack on the Bloomington, MN mosque — indeed, one of his spokespersons opined it might have been a “fake hate crime.”  He’s not apologized in any way, shape, or form for comments about immigrants from Mexico and Central American countries being “bad hombres.”  He’s not offered any solace for African Americans who are searching for ways to attract attention to their efforts to bring their communities and their local law enforcement personnel closer toward the goal of better, and more cooperative, relationships.  Therefore, we ought not be surprised that…

The man in the White House is silent.

His followers declare that President Obama’s politics were divisive.  Perhaps because he heard the complaints of the African American communities, as Trump’s followers do not? Perhaps because he understood the economic and cultural contributions of immigrants to this country, as Trump’s followers do not? Perhaps because he appreciated the humanity and worth of members of the LBGT community, as followers of Trump do not?  An individual’s failure to recognize the humanity and worth of those who are unlike himself isn’t the fault of any politician — it is seated in the insecurity of that individual himself, by himself, selfishly for himself.

And the man in the White House is silent.

Silent as the thugs align with his political party, emboldened to march without hoods and masks, to wave their flags alongside his banner, inviting the notion that to be a Republican is to be a Neo-Nazi, a White Supremacist, and an intolerant bigot.  Or, that to join the Party is to align oneself with the Neo-Nazis, the White Supremacists, and the bigots.  What I hope for the Republican Party is…

A man in the White House who will not remain silent, who will banish from his administration those who harbor Neo-Nazi, White Supremacist, bigoted, intolerant views.  Republican members of Congress who will condemn the Neo-Nazis, the bigots and the intolerant.  Republican Party leaders at the national, state, and local levels who will vehemently assert that the Republicans today decry intolerance, bigotry, and racism, and will not associate themselves with it.  I hope to see Republicans with the courage to say,  we can do perfectly well in our elections without the staining of our honor with your bigotry, racism, Neo-Nazism, and White Supremacy. sil

The man in the White House is silently leading the Party to a narrow and dark place.  It doesn’t have to be that way.

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Filed under civil liberties, conservatism, Politics, racism, Republicans

Losing Sins, Sacramental Cheating: Vote Suppression Issues in 2017

“A faith that makes losing a sin will make cheating a sacrament.” — Michael Gergen

Case in point: The incredibly petty assault on the election of state Senator Joyce Woodhouse by sore losers among the Clark County Republicans who think a ‘recall’ election on a trumped up issue will allow them to overturn election results.  And, this single sentence is about all the publicity the recall effort deserves.

Case in point:  The trumped up (literally) claims of vote fraud in the 2016 election, for which there is NO evidence whatsoever.  The vote suppression efforts rely on conflation and obfuscation.  First and foremost, it requires that we conflate issues of voter registration with actual incidents of voter impersonation fraud.  No one is arguing that periodically cleaning up voter registration lists to remove names of those deceased or moved from the precinct is necessarily a bad thing.  If done in a rational and professional manner such removal makes the lives of poll workers on election day a bit easier, and I, for one, am all for making their lives as easy as possible.  However, there are voices asserting that because there remain names un-removed, there is therefore the potential for fraud, therefore there must be evidence of fraudulent voting.  This is fear-mongering of the first water.  Please review the 3 instances of voting fraud in Nevada since 2012.  (More discussion here) An additional objection to this assertion is that the vote suppression advocates are personalizing the issue — “If there is One instance of fraudulent voting, then the vote thus cancelled out must be ‘yours.'”  Please.  “But! What happens in close elections?”  One instance repeatedly hauled out by the vote suppressors as an example of  a close loss blamed on illegal voting, the Rizzo case, has been thoroughly debunked.  It’s become an article of faith among the right wing that because Democrats might cheat, then “election integrity” requires that they be closely monitored to prevent “those people” from winning elections.  Election integrity should mean that every eligible voter in this country is treated equally as the ballots are cast.  However, this brings us to yet another sacrament of the vote suppressors.

Case in point:  The following report comes from the Indianapolis Star: (August 10, 2017)

“State and local Republicans have expanded early voting in GOP-dominated areas and restricted it in Democratic areas, an IndyStar investigation has found, prompting a significant change in Central Indiana voting patterns. From 2008 to 2016, GOP officials expanded early voting stations in Republican dominated Hamilton County, IndyStar’s analysis found, and decreased them in the state’s biggest Democratic hotbed, Marion County.   That made voting more convenient in GOP areas for people with transportation issues or busy schedules. And the results were immediate.”

Yes, how convenient, for Republican voters only.  This becomes yet another example of those for whom winning is an article of faith, and one’s sacramental duty is to cheat to gain an advantage.

Case in point:  North Carolina Republicans became the poster children for vote suppression tactics,  such as curtailing early voting, strict ID requirements, reduced polling hours, to such as extent that they’ve not managed to pass muster in the courts.   In short, the battle’s not over by a long shot.  States that manage to restrict voting hours, reduce voting sites, curtail early voting, and otherwise strive to make voting as difficult as possible are engaged in nothing less that organized disenfranchisement.  Nothing could argue more forcefully for the importance of state elections than these kinds of patently suppressive legislation.

Case in point:  We should focus for a moment on the closing of polling stations as an example of vote suppression. Arizona, Georgia, Florida, and (you guessed it) North Carolina all closed polling places in 2016 that were in predominantly Democratic areas. [Reuters]

Unreasonably strict voter ID laws, the closing of polling stations, the restrictions on early voting, the selective purging of voter rolls (Remember Florida in 2000?), the arbitrary lengthening or contracting voting precinct schedules, and the other schemes to restrict voting fly in the face of Madison’s observation in his Federalist 52:

“The definition of the right of suffrage is very justly regarded as a fundamental article of republican government. “

This, not the modern Republican version of disenfranchisement, ought to be the statement of faith that makes cheating so egregious.

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Filed under civil liberties, Nevada politics, Politics, Vote Suppression, Voting