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“The Radical Racist Socialism Of The Deep South”: Denials That The Civil War Was About Slavery Are Revisionist And False

With the American South so radically conservative and politically divergent from most of the rest of the country, it’s easy to forget that it was not always so. The American South used to be much more politically nuanced and politically complicated.

Obviously, the legacy of racism and slavery dominates everything. Southern denials that the Civil War was about slavery are revisionist and false, as Ta-Nehisi Coates conclusively demonstrated at The Atlantic.

But if we compartmentalize and set aside the grotesque and horrific injustice of race-based slavery, we can see that the 19th century South was also a hotbed of anti-capitalist economic egalitarian sentiment–with the caveat that only whites were allowed to receive its benefits. Consider these snippets excerpted by Coates: first, the Muscogee Herald in 1856:

Free Society! we sicken at the name. What is it but a conglomeration of greasy mechanics, filthy operatives, small-fisted farmers, and moon-struck theorists? All the Northern men and especially the New England States are devoid of society fitted for well-bred gentlemen. The prevailing class one meet with is that of mechanics struggling to be genteel, and small farmers who do their own drudgery, and yet are hardly fit for association with a Southern gentleman’s body servant. This is your free society which Northern hordes are trying to extend into Kansas.

Talk about a hatred of freedom and small business. Or consider this bit of socialism-for-whites-only from traitor-in-chief Jefferson Davis himself:

You too know, that among us, white men have an equality resulting from a presence of a lower caste, which cannot exist where white men fill the position here occupied by the servile race. The mechanic who comes among us, employing the less intellectual labor of the African, takes the position which only a master-workman occupies where all the mechanics are white, and therefore it is that our mechanics hold their position of absolute equality among us.

And finally, this remarkable indictment of Yankee capitalism from Hammond’s legendary “Cotton Is King” speech:

The difference between us is, that our slaves are hired for life and well compensated; there is no starvation, no begging, no want of employment among our people, and not too much employment either. Yours are hired by the day, not cared for, and scantily compensated, which may be proved in the most painful manner, at any hour in any street of your large towns. Why, you meet more beggars in one day, in any single street of the city of New York, than you would meet in a lifetime in the whole South…Your [slaves] are white, of your own race; you are brothers of one blood. They are your equals in natural endowment of intellect, and they feel galled by their degradation.

There are many more examples of this sort of thing in Coates’ piece as well.

It’s easy to focus on the abhorrent racism here. But it’s also instructive to see the anti-capitalist critique of the North, whose laissez-faire robber baronism was admittedly Dickensian in its brutality–not remotely comparable to the evils of slavery, obviously, but it’s easy to see how a twisted racist mind that didn’t see black people as human would see itself as comparatively morally superior to the North by virtue of its white egalitarianism.

This is why the Confederate South was ultimately such a strong base of support for FDR. As long as FDR didn’t prevent lynching and the other modes of de facto enslavement of African-Americans in the post-Reconstruction South–and he shamefully and deliberately avoided doing so–most Southern whites were more than happy to take the benefits of Social Security, the Tennessee Valley Authority and the New Deal in general. The benefits of these programs were generally not shared with blacks, so Southern whites found an easy continuation of their economic ideology in sticking it to the Northern capitalists with economic redistribution.

The transformation that occurred in the 1960s was much greater than a simple political realignment in which the vast majority of Southern whites switched from Democrats to Republicans after LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act. They also experienced a far more profound shift in their economic politics.

Forced to choose between their virulent racism and their embrace of progressive economic politics, most former Confederate whites chose to keep their racism. Redistributed benefits were all well and good when that egalitarianism extended only to themselves–but extend those same benefits to the hated underclass, and taxation becomes theft and tyranny. FDR socialists became Ayn Rand libertarians essentially overnight.

It’s important to remember that fact when we talk about the legacy of institutional racism in the United States. We’re talking about a hatred so profound that an entire demographic didn’t just switch political parties on a dime: it switched generations of populist economic ideology as well.

 

By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, June 27, 2015

June 28, 2015 Posted by | Civil War, Conservatives, Deep South, Slavery | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Antonin Scalia Defeated — By Antonin Scalia”: He Had His Own Previous Arguments Turned Against Him

Justice Antonin Scalia did not simply lose today’s key ruling on the federal health insurance subsidies for the Affordable Care Act — he had his own previous arguments turned against him.

The majority opinion issued today, written principally by Chief Justice John Roberts — whose crucial vote previously upheld Obamacare back in 2012 — illustrated the idea of the insurance subsidies being an integral part of health care reform itself.

And the absurdity of just striking out subsidies for people living in states with federally run exchanges — as Scalia and his fellow dissenters insisted had to be done under the law — was illustrated by citing… Antonin Scalia, from his earlier efforts to stamp out health care reform.

It is implausible that Congress meant the Act to operate in this manner. See National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, 567 […] (SCALIA, KENNEDY, THOMAS, and ALITO, JJ., dissenting) […] (“Without the federal subsidies . . . the exchanges would not operate as Congress intended and may not operate at all.”).

That is, Roberts and company cited the dissent in the first major Obamacare case, from 2012, when the dissenters — Scalia being one of them — tried to say that pretty much each every single facet of the Affordable Care Act was not only wrong but unconstitutional, and that they interlocked so completely that by striking down even one of them, the entire Act would have to fall.

As a political staffer friend, who is a trained lawyer (though not currently practicing), tells me: “The problem with results-oriented jurisprudence is it makes hypocrisy easy to spot.”

The full paragraph in that original dissent is as follows:

In the absence of federal subsidies to purchasers, insurance companies will have little incentive to sell insurance on the exchanges. Under the ACA’s scheme, few, if any, individuals would want to buy individual insurance policies outside of an exchange, because federal subsidies would be unavailable outside of an exchange. Difficulty in attracting individuals outside of the exchange would in turn motivate insurers to enter exchanges, despite the exchanges’ onerous regulations. […] That system of incentives collapses if the federal subsidies are invalidated. Without the federal subsidies, individuals would lose the main incentive to purchase insurance inside the exchanges, and some insurers may be unwilling to offer insurance inside of exchanges. With fewer buyers and even fewer sellers, the exchanges would not operate as Congress intended and may not operate at all.

 

By: Eric Kleefeld, The National Memo, June 25, 2015

June 28, 2015 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Antonin Scalia, King v Burwell | , , , , | Leave a comment

“This Flag Comes Down Today!”: Reciting Prayers, Woman Takes Down Confederate Flag At South Carolina Capitol

A woman publicly took down the Confederate flag at the South Carolina state Capitol grounds early Saturday morning, climbing the pole at the Confederate memorial and removing that flag before she then submitted herself to be arrested. A new Confederate flag was then put back in its place.

The woman has been identified as Brittany “Bree” Newsome, an African-American resident of Charlotte, North Carolina, Columbia’s newspaper The State reports. Newsome has been detained on a vandalism offense — and in the hours since, a popular hashtag has emerged on Twitter, called “#FreeBree.”

Governor Nikki Haley (R-SC) called this week for the Confederate flag to come down, in the wake of the massacre at a historic black church in Charleston by a confessed white supremacist. Haley’s statement has in turn kicked off a process of debates and votes in the state legislature, which is still ongoing. That flag has been located at a Confederate war memorial on the Capitol grounds since 2000 — a compromise measure after it had previously flown from the state Capitol Dome itself, placed there in 1962 as a gesture of state defiance against desegregation and the civil rights movement.

In a video posted on YouTube, showing Newsome clad in climbing gear, she grabbed the Confederate flag and cried out: “You come against me with hatred, and oppression and violence — I come against you in the name of God! This flag comes down today!”(http://youtu.be/gr-mt1P94cQ)

Newsome also recited Christian prayers as she descended the pole: “The Lord is my light and my salvation. Who shall I fear?”

As she descended, the pole was surrounded by three police officers. She assured them in a calm and friendly tone of voice: “I’m gonna come, sir. I’m gonna comply. I promise you, I’m coming down. I’m prepared to be arrested.”

Of the three arresting officers, two were black and one white. The arrest appears to have gone smoothly, with Newsome and the officers cooperating to help her over the waist-high iron fence surrounding the flagpole before placing both her and a white male accomplice in handcuffs.

The State also reports:

At about 7:45 a.m., a maintenance worker and a state security officer, neither of whom would give their names or comment, raised a new banner after removing it from a plastic sheet. The two state employees who arrived on the State House grounds to put the flag back up were African-Americans.

A member of a group associated with Newsome express disappointment to the paper that the Confederate flag was put back up again: “All they had to do was keep it down.”

 

By: Eric Kleefeld, The National Memo, June 27, 2015

June 28, 2015 Posted by | Confederate Flag, South Carolina Legislature, White Supremacy | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Conservatives Lost Outright”: John Roberts, Liberal Hero; How The Chief Justice Destroyed The Conservative Case Against ObamaCare

Since ObamaCare passed in 2010, Republicans have been searching desperately for a way to destroy the law through legal trickery (or as they call it, “judicial activism”), since they don’t have the means to kill it through legislation. In 2012, with the Supreme Court decision NFIB v. Sebelius, they got a partial victory, with the court badly wounding the law’s Medicaid expansion but leaving the rest unharmed.

In the case decided on Thursday, King v. Burwell, conservatives sought to cripple the insurance markets in states that had not set up their own health care exchanges. They did this by advancing a spurious reading of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that would forbid insurance subsidies from flowing through the federal exchange website, thus devastating the private insurance markets in those states.

This time, conservatives lost outright. Chief Justice John Roberts, joined by Justice Anthony Kennedy and the four liberals on the bench, wrote the opinion — and it delivers a stark rebuke to the conservatives who have been fumbling around for an alternative to ObamaCare since 2010. “Repeal and replace” has been their mantra, but they never even got close to uniting around an actual replacement policy. Today, Roberts shows us why: It’s impossible.

King focused on a single phrase in the ACA, “established by the State,” which, taken out of all legal and policy context, could be construed to restrict subsidies to the state exchanges only. Because the Chevron doctrine requires that, in case of ambiguous wording, the implementing agencies get to decide how to interpret a law (in this case the IRS), it was necessary to construct an alternate history of the ACA. In this version, Congress meant to restrict subsidies to the state exchanges, to coerce states into creating one.

Liberals carefully explained that no, that was a completely insane version of ObamaCare’s history. Health care policy reporters, the staffers who drafted the law, and members of Congress who voted for it all swore up and down that this had never even been seriously discussed, let alone that it was their intention. State-level politicians, who are responsible for deciding whether to create their own exchanges, reported they had never heard of such a threat. Why would Congress create a mechanism to force states to do something, and then never mention it?

Roberts’ opinion delivers total victory to the liberal case. First, he examines the statute and finds that, in fact, it is not ambiguous — the government’s interpretation is correct. He writes that, considered in context, the plaintiff’s reading of “established by the State” would make great swathes of the rest of the law totally nonsensical. The ACA clearly states that all exchanges are to provide qualified plans to qualified people, which would be impossible for the federal exchange without subsidies. Moreover, why would the law provide for a creation of a federal exchange at all, if nobody can actually use it?

Second, and more fundamentally, Roberts finds that the plaintiff’s reading of ACA is poles apart from the obvious policy intention of the law. He accurately describes ObamaCare’s three-pronged approach: guaranteed issue and community rating, requiring insurance companies to offer policies to everyone at a reasonable price; an individual mandate, so that healthy people will participate in the risk pool; and subsidies for people who can’t afford the insurance.

All three are necessary for ObamaCare to work, but the plaintiffs’ reading would eliminate two of the three prongs in states without their own exchange. Subsidies would go, and so would the individual mandate, because it doesn’t apply if people are spending more than 8 percent of their income on a policy. Roberts notes that this would likely cause an insurance death spiral in those states, as healthier people flee an increasingly expensive market, turning the ACA into a health insurance doomsday device. Indeed, just such a death spiral happened in several states before ObamaCare passed — which is partly why it included all three prongs. “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” he concludes.

That brings me to the “replacement” rhetoric. Roberts’ clear account of ObamaCare’s policy mechanism, and the damage that would be done should any of its main prongs be removed, deals a body blow to the conservative health care wonks who have been trying to cook up a replacement policy for the last five years — in particular, a plan without the unpopular individual mandate. But as Roberts plainly shows, that leads straight to disaster.

It’s an implicit concession that ObamaCare is the most conservative possible policy that could get even close to universal coverage — if five years of Republican policy failure weren’t enough evidence.

 

By: Ryan Cooper, The Week, June 25, 2015

June 28, 2015 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Conservatives, King v Burwell | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Never Patriotic”: The Real Meaning Of The Confederate Flag

In the intensifying national debate over the Confederate flag, important clues about the seditious symbol’s true meaning are staring us in the face. Dozens of those clues were posted by an angry, glaring Dylann Storm Roof on the “Last Rhodesian,” website, where the alleged Charleston killer pays homage to certain flags – notably those of apartheid-era South Africa and Rhodesia, as well as the old Confederacy – while he enthusiastically desecrates another.

Pictures of Roof burning, stomping, and spitting on the Stars and Stripes are interspersed among the photos of him grasping and waving the Confederate battle flag, sometimes while holding a gun. “I hate the sight of the American flag,” he raged in a long screed on the site. “Modern American patriotism is an absolute joke.”

What this racial terrorist meant to express, in crude prose and pictures, is a lesson that the diehard defenders of the Confederate flag should no longer ignore: To uphold the banner of secession is to reject patriotism – and has never meant anything else.

For many years after the Civil War, the symbols of the Confederacy were not much seen outside local museums and burial grounds. The late general Robert E. Lee, a reluctant but justly revered war hero, rejected any post-war fetishizing of the Stars and Bars, which had actually originated as the battle flag of his Army of Northern Virginia. Lee believed it “wiser…not to keep open the sores of war, but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife and to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered.”But such admonishments were cast aside by the exponents of white supremacy, whose own patriotism was certainly suspect. When the Ku Klux Klan and the Knights of the White Camelia were revived as racial terror organizations in the 1930s and 1940s, carrying out a spree of cowardly lynchings, their grand wizards found natural allies among the leaders of the German-American Bund — whose funding and fealty were eventually traced to Nazi headquarters in Berlin. Indeed, the Klansmen burned their towering crosses alongside swastika banners at rallies sponsored by the Bund to attack President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

In the years following the Second World War, the Dixiecrats led by South Carolina politician Strom Thurmond – and the “uptown Klan” known as the White Citizens Councils that supported Thurmond’s movement – appropriated the Confederate flag as their own standard. Among its greatest enthusiasts was a young radio reporter (and future U.S. senator) named Jesse Helms, whose fawning coverage of Thurmond’s 1948 third-party presidential bid marked him as a rising star of the segregationist right.

As for the White Citizens Councils, those local groups were ultimately reconstituted into chapters of the Council of Conservative Citizens – a notorious hate group that has embarrassed many Republican politicians caught fraternizing with its leaders, and that ultimately inspired Roof with its inflammatory propaganda about black crime and the endangered white race. Headquartered in St. Louis, MO, the CCC festoons itself and its works with the Dixie flag, as does the neo-Confederate League of the South, which still openly advocates secession.

Meanwhile, racist, anti-Semitic agitators such as David Duke and Don Black — both Southerners prominent in Klan and neo-Nazi organizations for decades — have never ceased to manifest their reverence for the Confederacy. Stormfront, the notorious neo-Nazi website founded by Black, continues to promote the mythology and symbolism of the Southern cause, declaring in a June 23 podcast that the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery — and that “the attack on southern symbols and heritage such as the Confederate Flag are actually part of an overall Jewish-led attack on European Americans.” Owing to Duke’s influence, in fact, the Confederate flag has served as a substitute for Nazi banners in demonstrations, often violent, by “white nationalists” in Europe — where the symbols of the Third Reich are widely outlawed.

Obviously, not every American who has displayed the Dixie flag endorses the treason and bigotry that it now represents to so many other Americans. There are sincere patriots, like former senator James Webb of Virginia, who still insist that it is only a remembrance of the valor of their ancestors. But over the decades, its appropriation by traitors and bigots has provoked little noticeable protest from the more innocent exponents of respect for Southern heritage. Today, the Charleston massacre has left it standing irrevocably for the most brutal and criminal aspects of that heritage – and it is more deeply irreconcilable with American patriotism than ever.

 

By: Joe Conason, Editor in Chief, Editors Blog, The National Memo, June 26, 2015

June 28, 2015 Posted by | Confederate Flag, Domestic Terrorism, Hate Crimes, Patriotism | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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