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“Providing Breathing Room For The Dying Beast”: Clearing Out Space In Our Politics For White Nationalists

I recently wrote about Trump and white supremacists based largely on an article by Evan Osnos, who had been reporting on these groups when Trump-mania broke out. A few days later, Osnos was interviewed on NPR by Terry Gross. Their whole discussion of this topic is fascinating, but a couple of things during the interview stood out to me.

The first is that Gross notes that Osnos used the term “white nationalists” rather than “white supremacists” (I almost instinctively chose the latter for my title) and asks him why. Here’s his reply.

Yeah, it’s a subtle distinction. The difference is that, historically, white supremacist groups believed fundamentally in the idea that one race was superior above all, and that was essential to their ideology. This grew out of slavery and the legacy of it. White nationalist groups believe something slightly different. They believe, in fact, that whites are an endangered species these days, and they say that they’re not standing up for one race over another. They’re standing up for the preservation of their community.

You struggle as a writer, certainly – and we did at the magazine – about whether or not to call these groups white supremacist groups or white nationalist groups. And there are times when I go back and forth. I think we’re certainly not captive to what it is that they want to be called themselves. They prefer to be called white nationalists. Some of them don’t even embrace that term. They want to be called identitarians or other things. But that’s – the terminology, in some ways, can be a bit of a disguise from the fact that there is – there’s an enduring element of this, which is a sort of race-based division that is at the essence of their beliefs. And that hasn’t changed, but there is a distinction going on that’s subtle. And I think the subtle distinction is important because it captures that they don’t feel strong today. In fact, they feel weak, and that’s what being a white nationalist is about. It’s about the sense that, as they put it, we’re facing a cultural genocide. That’s a term that they use over and over again.

I’m not one to get caught up in names and labels. But I think that the distinction Osnos identifies is important for us to recognize. We give too much power to these folks when we assume that they are strong. They are, in fact, weak and are very well aware of the fact that their entire world view is under siege. As I have often said, they are part of the dying beast of white male heterosexual patriarchy.

But later in the interview Osnos identifies where there is cause for concern.

So what you hear in that message is really interesting because what they’re saying is that Donald Trump may not win the presidency, but what he’s doing is clearing out space in politics for ideas that were no longer possible – that were previously impossible to express. So what he’s saying is that – and I encountered this over and over again as I talked to people who considered – who know that they are way out on the fringe of American politics – that they say Donald Trump is allowing our ideas to be discussed in a way that they never have been before…It will give a validation in some sense. And that may be the most enduring legacy.

That is perhaps the best example of what Trump (and Carson) are talking about when they rail against “political correctness.” What they are doing is “clearing out space in our politics” for white nationalists. In other words, they are providing breathing room for the dying beast.

Update: Here’s what happens when you provide breathing room to racists: I’ve experienced a new level of racism since Donald Trump went after Latinos.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, September 9, 2015

September 10, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, White Nationalists, White Supremacists | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Electioneering Committees”: Buying A President For 30 Bucks And Change

For today’s report, I have a bunch of statistics for you. Wait — don’t run away! Where are you going? Come back here and sit still while I drill these stats into your head! It’ll be fun, and you’ll learn something.

I realize that numbers can numb the brain, but this is a good story, and I promise that these statistics are easy to absorb. In fact, the number 400 pretty much sums up this story of political intrigue and corruption involving some of America’s wealthiest families and corporations.

Let’s start with the “Billionaire 400,” a clique of the elite organized by the conniving Koch brothers. These ultra-rich right wingers gather each winter in some warm-weather resort for a secretive, invitation-only retreat. There, they plot strategies and pledge money to elect politicos who’ll support their vision of corporate rule in America. For the 2016 elections, they’ve already committed nearly a billion dollars to impose their vision of plutocracy over our democratic ideals — double the combined amount that the Republican and Democratic parties will spend. I wonder: What do they think they’re getting for that price?

Then there are the secretive SuperPACs that are sacking up tens of millions of dollars to back various presidential candidates. Again, a few hundred corporations and rich families — each writing checks for hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars — have put up nearly half of all the money in these electioneering committees.

Keep that 400 number in mind when I offer my sincerest congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Middle-Class America, since they are all the rage in this present presidential contest, for Jeb, Hillary, and all the rest — even The Donald — say their campaigns are all about the hurting middle class that hasn’t yet recovered from the Great Recession. Well, don’t look now, but after each one promises that they’ll do the most for the Great Mass of the Middle Class, they disappear into the shadows and scurry off to schmooze with the little group of Americans they truly love: The exclusive club of multimillionaires and billionaires, who are shoveling those big bucks into those campaign pockets.

Now, back to our statistics: Jeb Bush got a million dollars each from 26 of his SuperPAC backers; Hillary Clinton took a million each from nine funders; of the $16 million in Marco Rubio’s PAC, 78 percent came from only four donors; and Ted Cruz got the most from the fewest, taking practically all of his $37 million from just three fat-cat families.

So while candidates for the highest office in our land are soaking up applause for the grand rhetoric they’re giving to the middle class, they’re also quietly collecting millions of dollars by pledging their steadfast fealty to the ruling class. Donating millions is not an innocent or noble political transaction. Written on the back of each of their checks is their own corporate agenda, trumping the people’s agenda.

Ironically, it’s Donnie Trump, the bombastic billionaire, who candidly admits that these so-called “gifts” amount to the outright, plutocratic purchase of politicians. He’s long been a campaign donor in order to secure political favors, he confesses, and it works: “When I need something from them … they are there for me.” There’s a word for that: Corruption.

But now, here comes the antidote to this corruption of our politics by fat cats. Instead of being financed by 400 special interests, Bernie Sanders’ campaign has raised its $15 million (as of July) from over 400,000 ordinary Americans. In fact, the average donation to Bernie is a heartwarming, soul-saving $31.30!

You can’t buy a president for just over 30 bucks — but you can help elect one who isn’t owned by Big Money. And isn’t that the way democracy ought to be?

 

By: Jim Hightower, The National Memo, September 9, 2015

September 10, 2015 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Campaign Financing, Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Congress Largely On The Sidelines For Paris Deal”: Mitch McConnell Is Powerless To Block Obama’s Climate Change Deal

One of the few times countries around the world have reached a climate change deal to cut global greenhouse gasses was the 1997 Kyoto treaty, which required binding cuts from industrialized nations. Top Republicans told the press it was “dead on arrival” and would never gain approval from the Senate. And that was, more or less, the end of Kyoto—other countries pointed to the U.S. never ratifying it as reason enough to ignore their own commitments.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has now pledged to kill the latest emerging global consensus to act on climate change. His strategy is to obstruct a deal at the next major conference in Paris at the end of the year. As Politico reported earlier this week, congressional Republicans have returned from their August recess with every intention of derailing a deal long before we get to December. An aide to McConnell is reaching out to foreign embassies to detail how the GOP-controlled Congress plans to stop President Obama’s climate plan from moving forward.

But this won’t be another Kyoto, because McConnell just isn’t a credible threat to the global negotiations. Well aware that Republicans have not changed their minds on UN climate treaties—and have in fact gone to a greater extreme—negotiators have put together a different kind of deal for a Paris conference at the end of the year, one that looks nothing like Kyoto. Republican obstinacy is so predictable, it’s already baked into the structure, politics, and messaging ahead of a deal in Paris.

At Paris, countries are responsible for putting forward their own emissions plans. Though it’s not clear what structure the final deal will take—including which elements are binding and which are not—the emissions cuts proposed at Paris probably won’t require Senate approval because they won’t be binding, as they were in Kyoto. Obama has pledged U.S. climate action through executive authority. (Of course, that also means that many of his pledges in Paris will rely on the commitment of his successor.)

McConnell’s strategy is clear: Send the world some very mixed messages on what the U.S. intends to do about its own greenhouse gas emissions. He’s emphasizing Republican plans to block the Clean Power Plan, a key part of Obama’s strategy to cut the U.S.’s carbon footprint by reducing emissions from electricity 32 percent by 2032. The GOP’s likely tool will be the Congressional Review Act, which requires only a majority vote to repeal a law—but it’s still subject to Obama’s veto, which makes repeal unlikely. The Senate may also take up a bill passed by the Environment and Public Works Committee that delays the Clean Power Plan until court challenges are resolved, a process that could take years and years—but though the Supreme Court could send the regulation back to the Environmental Protection Agency, defenders insist it is on sound legal ground. One tactic might work in the short term: Congress’s control over appropriations gives the GOP the ability to withhold the $3 billion Obama promised to the Green Climate Fund, an international fund to help poorer nations adapt to climate change. But it’s unlikely that alone would be enough to blow up broader negotiations.

Despite the largely hollow threats from McConnell, the Obama administration has been conducting its own outreach to large polluters like China to explain how the U.S. can deliver on its promises in good faith without Congress’ input—as long as a Democrat is in office, that is. In March, the U.S. submitted its pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions up to 28 percent by 2025 over 2005 levels. When negotiators ask State Department climate envoy Todd Stern about the “solidity of U.S. action,” he says he assures them that “the kind of regulation being put in place is not easily undone,” signaling that the White House is confident its Clean Power Plan and other EPA regulations can survive court battles and congressional opposition.

All this means mixed news for Paris: The bad news is that a single Republican is powerful enough to undo the deal—but not until long after December, and only if the GOP wins the White House in 2016. The good news, though, is this means Congress is largely on the sidelines for Paris and won’t make or break the negotiations. It won’t be Mitch McConnell who sinks a deal.

 

By: Rebecca Leber, The New Republic, September 9, 2015

September 10, 2015 Posted by | Climate Change, Mitch Mc Connell, Paris Climate Conference | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“This GOP Civil War Is So Much Fun!”: Donald Trump Has Ripped The Conservative Coalition Asunder

Whom to root for when the Dallas Cowboys play the New England Patriots? The most obnoxious franchise in all of American professional sports versus the most rancidly cheatingest (and I mean really—read this; if this is all true, they should have their franchise license revoked and Belichick should be thrown out of the game). As the old joke has it, you root for a plane crash (relax, it’s a joke).

This is kind of where I am as I watch this blood feud erupt between the National Review Online and the Trump loyalists who started the #NRORevolt hashtag over the weekend. If you missed it, here’s the sitch. Last Friday, subscribers to Jonah Goldberg’s NR newsletter, the G-file, found his latest in their in-boxes, a protracted jeremiad that ran under the title “No Movement That Embraces Trump Can Call Itself Conservative.”

“If this is the conservative movement now,” he wrote, “I guess you’re going to have to count me out.”

So Trump partisans started doing exactly that, and in droves. Commenters on the article were venomous: Go ahead, you RINO-quisling-sellout (or, occasionally, you dastardly Jew), who needs you anyway? This comment was representative, and even a little quasi-poetic: “So Blow and Rage, Jonah, Blow into the winter night, strut and fret your rabid slobber onto the stage, idiot-like until you are flattened by the Trump steamroller—of course we will be forced to hear more of your shout and flabberting, but it won’t mean a thing. I hope the Republican Party collapses so we can get on with partnering with something that is not so diseased that its internal organs are melting into a pus-fulled [sic] syrup that is oozing out of every…whatever.”

In short order, the now-famous hashtag arose as a venue for kindred sentiments. It seems safe to say that not many National Review subscribers are probably involved in this effort. As near as these things can be determined, it may have been launched by a guy named Ricky Vaughn, who describes himself on Twitter as a “right-wing nativist.” You see the word “cuckservative” tossed around a lot in these tweets, a word that the Southern Poverty Law Center says has roots in white nationalist and anti-Semitic circles. And of course the word sounds the way it sounds for a reason, evoking both “cock” and “suck” in a way that is definitely not intended as a compliment.

Well, for people like me, this is definitely pass-the-popcorn time. What better entertainment could there possibly be than watching American conservatism being wrecked by a bunch of white nationalists?

American conservatism has spent decades winking at these kinds of groups and voters—denouncing them very occasionally when caught red-handed playing in the same sandbox, as when a white Southern Republican is forced to explain that gosh, he didn’t know the local citizens’ council was a white supremacist group; but for the most part courting these voters and stoking their anxieties through means sometimes subtle, sometimes not. So, let them tear each other apart.

The amusing thing is, Goldberg actually makes some good points in his newsletter piece, mainly that Trump isn’t much of a conservative on a number of issues. About that, he is correct.

But if he can’t instantly grasp how modern conservatism made Trump—and not only Trump, but even more important, the people who are now his rabid supporters—then I doubt it can be explained at a level of remediation that will sink in. But it’s pretty simple. When Steve King jokes about people crossing the border with their cantaloupe-sized calves full of bags of weed, he’s creating Trump and Trump’s backers. And multiply that times 300 for every crazy-borderline racist comment in recent years by Michele Bachmann and Rush Limbaugh and all the rest of them, and you get a party and a movement whose nudges at that kind of thing have done far more to create Trump and his supporters than the occasional faux-solemn and perfunctory denunciations have done to thwart them. So this problem of white nationalism bubbling uncomfortably close to the surface is one the Republican Party and the conservative movement have deserved to have for a long time now.

Mind you I don’t think liberals should be gloating too much about this yet. It’s way too hard to predict what all this will mean for the election. In all likelihood, Trump won’t have the votes to win the nomination, John Kasich or Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush will, and the Trump voters will mostly start getting themselves worked up about the looming menace of President Hillary and come out and vote for the sellout RINOs they’re now repudiating at #NRORevolt.

But let’s say that at some point, we do see a real civil war in the Republican Party over all this, and the time comes when GOP leaders need to own up to a Joe McCarthy kind of moment—that is, a moment when they are finally forced to step forward and say, Donald, we don’t want you or your more extreme supporters. The National Review itself did a version of this, of course, back in the old days under Bill Buckley, when it said much the same to John Birch Society types.

But the Review was just a magazine. It lost some subscribers, I’m sure, but not the White House. For a political party the stakes are a little higher, and I don’t think today’s GOP would have the stones to do it. The party is stuck with Trump and his backers. It created them.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, September 9, 2015

September 10, 2015 Posted by | Conservatism, Donald Trump, GOP | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Screwing Up A One-Car Funeral”: House Republicans Three-Headed Monster Of A legislative Vehicle For Its Views On Iran

One of the few things we all thought we could count on when Congress returned from its August recess was a quick vote in the House on a resolution of disapproval for the Iran Nuclear Deal. After all, (1) it’s an issue on which all congressional Republicans seem to agree, (2) there’s a mandated timetable for dealing with the resolution that everybody agreed on months ago, and (3) it’s all kinda Kabuki Theater right now because Democrats have the votes to filibuster the resolution in the Senate.

But sometimes with these birds even the simplest things come unglued. Suddenly today a “revolt of House conservatives”–by no means the first or last–occurred, and now pending a meeting of House GOPers that’s currently underway, the Party of Responsible Government looks likely to produce some sort of three-headed monster of a legislative vehicle for its views on Iran, per Politico‘s Jake Sherman:

They are moving toward voting on a measure asserting Obama did not submit all elements of the agreement with Iran, a concept first raised by Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), a former member of GOP leadership. Second, Republicans are working on a bill to try to prevent Obama from lifting sanctions against Iran. Third, the House would vote on a resolution to approve of the Iran pact. The original plan was to vote on a disapproval resolution.

This first gambit is based on the growing right-wing furor over “side agreements” between the Iranians and international nuclear monitors, plus alleged other “secret” deals, which conservatives claim cancels the procedural timetable for any votes and also makes the administration vulnerable to lawsuits. Boil it all down, and it’s an effort to add the Iran Nuclear Deal to the long list of things on which the Tyrant Obama supposedly broke the law and violated the Constitution.

In other words, House GOPers are talking to themselves, and to the almighty base.

The third gambit supposedly makes the treasonous nature of Democrats more obvious by requiring them to vote for the deal, not just against a resolution of disapproval.

Trouble with that one, and with the whole package, is that it’s not being coordinated with the Senate, where it’s totally not welcome (guess Ted Cruz is too busy in Kentucky trying to get into photos with Kim Davis to serve as the liaison between House and Senate wingnuts). So what should have been the easiest of maneuvers in a very crowded and complicated schedule has become a fiasco (Greg Sargent calls it “snatching defeat from the jaws of defeat.”), and congressional GOPers have become the people who could screw up a one-car funeral. Just amazing.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, September 9, 2015

September 10, 2015 Posted by | House Republicans, Iran Nuclear Agreement, Senate | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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