America’s shadow third party

Our partisan alignments seem to have descended into nonsense with lower income union households flocking to the “party of big business” and upper income suburbanites backing our “party of the common man.” The strange alignments that make our present political situation so confusing rise from an awkward, little-noted feature of our system. America has three, not two, major political parties. We have always been a three-party nation locked inside a two-party political system.

Poles of partisan alignment have been scrambled by a rare event, something unprecedented in our history. One of those three parties just completed a decades-long shift in its affiliation and it will take time for our system to establish a new equilibrium. This journey toward a redefinition of political parties has no certain endpoint, no roadmap, and no promise of a happy ending.

Though our political parties have carried different names and brands over the centuries, their composition has remained remarkably constant. From our earliest origins, we have aligned around two named, publicly acknowledged political parties. Democrats were the party of farmers and laborers. Republicans (under a series of party names) were the party of tradesmen, merchants, investors and professionals. Both parties supported a broad spectrum of liberals and conservatives. Neither party fully dominated any geography outside the South. Splinter parties and offshoots appeared from time to time, but this Republican/Democratic rivalry has defined the visible shape of our system from our earliest days.

All the while, a third party with no public brand existed behind these alignments. Southern conservatives were nominally aligned with Democrats from the beginning, but they have always remained a distinct political entity. While elsewhere in the US Democrats and Republicans dueled their way through a two-party democracy, Southern states never tolerated partisan competition. The South has always been governed by a single party and continues under that alignment today.

Across the South, local conservatives built systems that tolerated little if any partisan competition. They controlled the region entirely, creating a country within a country and a party within a party. Over the past few decades those states completed their transition from single-party rule under Democrats to single party rule under Republicans without any meaningful changes in their policies, platforms or practices. America’s silent third party, the Southern Conservative Party, has chosen a new host organism, operating now inside the GOP.

That switch has scrambled the balance of power inside both the Democratic and Republican parties. Where both organizations once supported a broad range of ideologies, this Southern pivot has drained away the support that conservative Democrats once enjoyed inside their party. This change created an unbearably hostile climate inside the GOP that extinguished its formerly robust collection of progressives and liberals.

America’s two major parties have carried different names and slogans over time, but their basic alignments have been very consistent. Their historical outlines can be summarized as follows:

A party of farmers and laborers

Our party of “the common man” has been consistently nationalist and skeptical of trade and business. They have been friendly to government intervention to support small land ownership (including housing), wage supports, labor protections and social services. They have tended to be hostile to government action for infrastructure and military spending except when directly tied to job creation.

This party has been deeply hostile to banks and investment interests. It is largely unconcerned about tax rates or fiscal stability. They have tended to be conservative on social issues, interested in the protection of national and racial identities, and has been worried by loosening of constraints on women and minorities. These voters have traditionally been deeply attached to religion while hostile to libertarians, artists and intellectuals.

They have tended to resist the exercise of US power abroad and remained suspicious of foreign engagements. Their tendency to be skeptical of immigration was constantly challenged by the fact that many of them were either new immigrants themselves, or the second or third generation descendants of new immigrants.

Their support was concentrated in rural areas and among urban laborers. This voting bloc has historically been a Democratic constituency. The Democrats’ rural support and hostility to Industrial capitalism helps explain why Southern conservatives made their home inside this party. Thanks to the help of Southern conservatives, Democrats have always been the largest voting bloc.

A party of tradesmen, merchants, investors and professionals

America’s business party has generally been friendly toward trade, immigration, infrastructure investments, and public education. They have been hostile toward government spending on the social safety net, labor protections and wage supports. They are highly sensitive to taxation and staunch in their defense of property rights.

Their faith in markets, sensitivity to taxation, and their hostility toward regulation made them the country’s greatest proponents of capitalism. Apart from a few xenophobic outbursts, they have generally favored the loosest practical policies on immigration. This party has valued the economic dynamism created by immigration more than they worried about watering down an existing national culture.

Despite their resistance to taxes or safety net spending, they always pressed for government spending on economic infrastructure. They were the greatest proponents of federal investment in roads, railroads, schools, ports and other commercial development. They were successful in these efforts only when the could persuade the workers’ party of the potential for new jobs and patronage.

This party has been relatively less attached to religion, race, language or markers of a national culture than their opponents. Historically they were friendlier toward racial minorities than their opponents, but with a very important caveat. Our party of commerce and capital is very sensitive to any social disruption that might empower populists. Though hostile to racial discrimination, often to the point of sneering at ‘bigoted rubes,’ they were always far more interested in social calm than in social justice.

Our trade and business bloc has enjoyed heavy support among urban professionals, voters in countryside towns, and more recently, the emerging suburbs, especially Northern suburbs. This bloc has always been outnumbered by Democrats, leaving their institutions consistently unstable. They were historically represented by Federalists, National-Republicans, Whigs and then Republicans.

Southern conservatives

The South always existed as its own political entity, a Caribbean slave economy encapsulated inside a wider classical liberal project. Southern politics is defined by a central problem – how to retain their peculiar institutions while sharing a national government dominated by a liberal democratic ethos. That defensive posture prevented the South from developing competitive political parties in the form that prevailed elsewhere in the US. Instead, slave states developed a unique, highly insular brand of conservatism.

Southern conservatism presumes the existence of a natural, inherited hierarchy. As Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens explained in his criticism of our Constitutional order, “They were attempting to make things equal which the Creator had made unequal.”

Southern conservatism finds freedom and equality, using its own unique definitions, through adherence to a hierarchy based on the white race, Christianity, a male duty to protect the race’s women (an ownership interest), and land. Though they have always been intensely hostile to government intervention in markets, this should never be interpreted as an affinity for capitalism, which they have always found to be grubby and low. Few forces are more disruptive of a perfect social order than the constant, churning creative destruction that accompanies capitalism.

They fall into occasional alignment with business interests due to their far greater fear of government power. They will tolerate bankers and industrialists, even Jewish ones, before granting one more ounce of authority to a central government premised on “all men are created equal.”

Southern conservatives have been at war with the premise of the Declaration of Independence from our earliest days. That war has flared into open, violent conflict at various times but it has never reached a climax and it perhaps never will. Like two trees that grow up next to one another, struggling, wrestling, and entwining, what is Southern is American and vice versa.

The Civil War destroyed their imagined utopia, but it failed to change the minds of the survivors. Within a few decades, the South had recreated most of their old order in a form that would remain unchallenged until the 60’s. Read the speeches of Alexander Stephens next to articles and statements from White House advisor Steve Bannon and you’ll see that, as Faulker once said, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” When Republicans today talk about “violence in Chicago” they are referencing an ancient code. Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and places like them are an ideological hellscape in which lower racial orders run riot, disregarding their natural place, and women engage in debauched acts that compromise their hallowed purpose.

If you have formed a perfect society in terms of culture, race, and religion, there is no such thing as “progress.” Every change is a descent from perfection. Progress is perversion. Preserving their unique racial and religious order inside a mostly hostile liberal democracy hinged on the jealous protection of each state’s individual sovereignty.

Driven by this mandate, conservatives in the slave states developed a political system unlike anything that existed elsewhere in America. Southern states never indigenously fostered a free press, freedom of expression or movement, or any of the liberal values that were taken for granted elsewhere. Every form of personal, religious, political, or economic expression was subjected to the overarching concerns of a white population living in fear of their slaves, or later their liberated former slaves.

“Freedom,” like every other term in the American political lexicon, took on a unique meaning in the South; reinterpreted through a lens of racial conflict. Freedom for whites depended on a racial and economic caste system that could suppress the impulses of the lower orders. Freedom was inseparable from security, and security was inseparable from fear.

Southern conservatism held two values, 1) Central government must remain as weak as possible, and 2) White racial and cultural supremacy must be enforced at all costs. Divisions of class and profession that influenced partisan alignments elsewhere in the US were suppressed in the South under the larger banner of racial solidarity.

Voting rights were jealously guarded and subject to a myriad of largely arbitrary local limitations. A system of private violence, without recourse to the justice system, was leveraged to maintain cultural conformity. That private violence also helped to enforce uniform single-party rule within those states, intolerant of open criticism or authentic political competition. It is that heritage of private mob violence that explains their strangely fanatical obsession with unregulated private gun ownership.

Southern conservatives worked to block every exercise of federal influence other than those connected with internal security. Early in the republic they blocked national investments in canal-building, railroads, banks and schools. Later they fought the establishment of public schools. Mass public schooling only arrived in the South with Reconstruction. Mississippi continued its fight against public Kindergarten and compulsory school attendance all the way into the 1980’s. Public spending on any function other than security was, and still is, viewed with the deepest skepticism among Southern conservatives.

Southern conservatives were aligned with the Democratic Party from the earliest days, though that alignment was consistently awkward. When the Democrats in the Cold War era began to attack racial discrimination, Southern conservatives starting looking for a new partisan home.

That shift began at the top of the ticket, where voters could dissent in private without local consequences. Southern states began voting for Republican Presidential candidates for the first time in the 60’s. By the 80’s, the change was starting to percolate down the ticket as Southern conservatives began to flood into an empty Republican precinct structure in Southern states. The two highest elements of the Southern conservative social order are race and religion. America’s revolution in civil rights destroyed their ability to organize openly on issues of race, so they began to campaign on religion. That pivot powered a new Southern insurgency.

Thirty years ago Elizabeth Warren was a Republican and Rick Perry was a Democrat. By 2014, the last of the former slave states had completed their transition from single-party authoritarian Democratic rule to single-party authoritarian Republican rule without changing their policies.

What this meant for the other two parties was a dramatic and chaotic power shift. Southern conservatives forged new alliances with Northern religious activists, rural populists, and socially conservative labor voters, shifting the political center of gravity for the entire nation.

Traditional Republicans were first heartened by an influx of new support, then concerned by their party’s southward shift. Over time, Republicans who still maintained an affinity for their party’s old alignment as “The Party of Lincoln” found themselves marginalized, silenced, or purged.

Democrats have experienced a similar upheaval. Their party’s conservative wing found its influence collapse as their Southern allies on the right left the party. Across the southern half of the country Democrats lost virtually all their white support as Southern conservatives in control of the Republican infrastructure pulled voters away with a remarkably blatant white nationalist appeal cloaked in the language of religion.

Only one position cost Democrats nearly a thousand legislative seats over the past decade. That policy position did not come from the Obama Administration. It was not adopted in this century. And there is nothing modern Democrats can do about it. Civil rights for African-Americans and women is the single issue that drove Southern conservatives from the Democratic Party.

The collapse of Democratic power across half the country was the final stage of a transformation that started with Truman’s decision to desegregate the military and was sealed by Johnson’s support of the Civil Rights Acts. Having a black President added momentum to this movement, but it was merely the final, inevitable stage of a process which was already in motion and could not be halted. That shift by Southern conservatives robbed Democrats of their legislative influence while robbing the Republicans of their souls.

For the moment, Republicans have established almost unanimous dominance among rural whites in Southern states. They have seen similar, though less uniform success in rural areas of the North, while abandoning cities almost entirely. This translates into a strange bloc of minority power, in which the party’s rural base allows them to dominate a majority of states while becoming odiously unpopular to a majority of voters nationally. They have successfully taken the Southern, one-party political model nationwide.

It is no accident that the last two Republican Presidents assumed office after losing the popular vote. A Republican has won the popular vote once in the last seven Presidential elections. Southern conservatives, by seizing control of the Republican Party, have built an unstable, temporary power bloc on an electoral plurality. Millions of nominal Republican voters have not yet awakened to the transformation of their party while Democrats have seen a huge bloc of their former coalition partners support decamp for the other side.

Neither of our two major parties has fully adapted to this new environment. Southern conservatives remain an awkward fit inside America’s party of capitalism and commerce. Democrats, robbed of a core populist base, are falling into alignments at odds with their history and established institutions.

For the moment, the GOP encompasses an inherently unstable two-party coalition with formerly Democratic Southern conservatives. Almost all the official infrastructure of the GOP abandoned their party’s leadership in 2016, creating an enormous brain drain and leaving an inept new administration devoid of any institutional support. But those traditional Republicans have found no new home. Meanwhile lightly engaged, less informed Republican voters have not, for the most part, recognized the transformation of their traditional party.

There are good reasons why commercial professionals and the merchant class, which formed the Republicans’ traditional power bloc, have struggled to form a coalition with the remnants of the Democratic Party. The departure of the Democrats’ conservative wing has removed any counter to party’s traditional anti-business, democratic-socialist impulses. Alienated Republicans tend to be higher-income enthusiasts of capitalism and trade, leaving little on which to form common cause other than their shared loathing of Southern conservatives’ racist and authoritarian impulses.

For the moment, this means that a ferociously unpopular third party, which had been pressed to the margins of American life for most of our history, governs the country under the Republican brand. The zombie corpse of Dixie has captured Washington.

No one knows how this unstable scenario plays out. The geographic concentration of Southern conservatives’ voting power presents a threat to the country’s stability today, just as it did in the 19th century. Unless some new alignment can be formed soon to oust the Southern conservatives, we face a challenge to the survival of the American experiment. That new alignment is not yet apparent on the ground and it isn’t clear how it would be formed.

The Civil War did not end at Appomattox. It was not resolved by the Civil Rights Acts. The conflict between the ideals of the American Revolution and the ideology of Southern conservatism is woven into the fabric of our identity. Each generation must wrestle with this conflict in a fresh context. The past is not dead. It’s not even past.

130 Comments

  1. I would argue somewhat that as times have changed, so have southern Democrats.

    While there are certainly pockets of old-mentality white supremacists and a myriad of tinged and tainted variants, I’d pose it’s fair to say that they’ve changed over time. It’s easy to trace the roots back to the Jim Crow era, but it fails to account for the state of modern phenomenon. Southern ex-Democrats have, by and large, spent a lot of concerted effort not fighting on racial efforts, but instead have focused on the daily demonization of their proclaimed enemy.

    They had thought themselves superior to minorities, thus prompting their departure from the Democrat party as it sapped them of their sense of dominance and authority. That has not changed. The blame. The fear and sense of waning dominance and authority. It wasn’t African Americans, they weren’t to blame, no.

    The ‘South’ didn’t just depart the Democrat party, they came to despise them. Into the decades that followed, these ‘turned’ Republicans began to curse the ‘liberal’ more than they prayed for the country. It started tame enough, as the standing Republican business and religious coalition still managed to command day-to-day sway, but these very angry new additions added something different to the mix: An enemy to rally against.

    This became Rush Limbaugh and conservative radio like Infowars, later culminating in Fox News for Republican doctrine think-tank friendly editorials and coverage. In the age of the internet, heralding Breitbart news, was when they could finally shed the filters of civility.

    The Alt-Right isn’t about racism. It’s about revenge against the Liberals that took it from them.

  2. I am little late in commenting on this post, but I was out of town this past weekend. This column is very thoughtful and powerful. There is a lot to think about here. I like the concept Chris has developed as the South being a 3rd Party locked into the two party system. That helps explain the differing directions that the two major parties have taken. With the South having switched from Democratic to Republican in the last few decades, the parties’ orientation have definitely shifted. The Ds are tending more liberal and the Rs are moving more towards more reactionary and racist policies. It is amazing the moderating influence that the South had on the Democratic Party. With the South being solidly Republican and the more reactionary elements having so much influence the commercial and business groups in the Republican Party have been driven out as being RINOs. They do not seem to have a home, hence the name “Political Orphans.” Where the nation goes from here is an open question. I only hope that some means can be found to moderate the rightward drift of the Rs and the leftward drift of the Ds.

    In another sense I’ve noticed the difference in the political orientation of different regions of the West depending on the groups that originally settled in those areas post Civil War. For example much of the Southwest including Southern California had a large influx of settlers from the defeated South. To this day those are some of the most conservative states in the West. However some of the historical orientation is changing with the large immigration that has been occurring in the last few decades, e.g. Southern California, Denver and some of the other developing Metro areas.

    On the other hand area, the old Oregon territory and Northern California were largely settled from largely non-slave states. These areas continue to be more liberal. The northern plains states however are very conservative. Maybe that is because they are so agricultural and there has long been emigration from those states to other states, particularly Washington and Oregon with the younger more highly educated and dynamic population groups leaving. Even in Washington I’ve noticed that areas that tended to be settled by settlers from the South continue to be more conservative.

    Anyway, this post contains some very thought provoking concepts and approaches to the present national political turmoil. I will be bookmarking this to enable future reference. Thank you.

    1. A couple of comments, tmerritt:

      I lived for a while in Kansas, now quite conservative. The people there are 3 or 4 generations removed from the original settlers, who were quite progressive. They emigrated from cosmopolitan places, sponsored chatauquas on widely various subjects, supported populists like Bob LaFollette, established farmers cooperatives for crops and credit, supported higher education in even small communities. After 3 or 4 generations of stagnating, they are insular and provincial.

      Also, regarding the “leftward drift” of the Democrats – I’d argue that they have moved distinctly rightward starting with Carter, and then more sharply with Clinton. Obama, a little less, but the Party as a whole is still distinctly to the right of what it was in the 30s and 40s. I see a big part of the Democrat’s problem as not distinguishing themselves enough from the Republicans.

      I do note and agree that there’s a tension, as Chris points out in the article, between old-line Democratic progressives and business-friendly ex-Republicans.

      1. Good points – the issue of population stagnation is generally applicable to many of the areas in the heartland. I was thinking of the northern plains states, but it is also true of the entire heartland. Certainly, the population stagnation is in a large part due to the increasing automation of agriculture requiring far fewer workers. Many of the younger people tend to leave and head for more dynamic urban areas. That was certainly the case for Pepin County, WI as described in the Politico Magazine article I linked to several days ago and repeated below:
        https://www.dropbox.com/s/486h9sbg1p6n24n/Election%202016%2C%20Pepin%20County%2C%20WI_Politico%20Magazine%2C%20Jan-Feb%202017.pdf?dl=0

        Regarding, the rightward drift of the Democrats, you are correct for the longer period since Carter. I was thinking more in the short term. I see the Democratic party moving sharply to the left during the Trump Administration. I am concerned that they might move so far to the left that the only sectors of the country that will be Democratic are the urban enclaves on the coasts. With the rural favoritism in the Electoral College, in Congress and many states that could make the Ds a minority party for years.

      2. I am quite interested in what each of us considers the demarcations in political ideology. What does someone who is moving too far left stand for as opposed to a plain old liberal? I wager that everyone’s views are different. For instance, I believe in choice but as a safety, last choice not to be abused. I support equality for all people regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion….I support the role of government in serving the greater good but want it to be efficient and effective (and don’t tell me it can’t be 50, I know you’re coming for me!)…

        Words. What do they mean.

  3. Taking a break from the Trump-bashing because I need a mental health day, I read an interesting article in Commentary (got there via RCP).

    It’s a detailed look at why life in the 21st century is terrible, and all the ways that it is terrible.

    I know the Head Political Orphan is very optimistic about the future of our country and our economy. Generally I’m that way too. But I can’t get away from the fact that my family inhabits the bubble of high-skilled, highly-educated workers in a stable industry. This is no longer the norm for many. I’m also not so hopeful about the prospects for my children, and their economic futures.

    https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/our-miserable-21st-century/

    1. The 21st century is miserable because the goalposts have shifted for ‘misery.’ Even struggling, worried families of today have NOTHING on the impoverishment and tribulation of the 19th century.

      This goes for people in developed AND undeveloped countries. Think Congo is bad? It is — it’s terrible, and we need to fix it. But memba King Leopold? That was just one kingdom catching up to deliveries the miseries inflicted across the entire continent by dozens of others.

      There is less poverty, less war, less crime, less infant mortality, less hunger, less disease, less chaos, less tyranny, less disorder than any other century written down and documented by human beings. If people are still believing they’re ‘worse off’, it’s entirely the narrative sold to them by mass media that puts cameras on miseries that were already and have always been there, and the purpose of putting those cameras to the misery is so that we can take action and solve them.

      The 21st century is great. Our job is to help other people join it.

      1. “Great” is a relative word. I’d settle for rational about now. Great – I’m hoping for sometime in the future. I understand your baseline thinking but those countries which have progressed shouldn’t be regressing in any aspect of life. Those in 3rd world countries have a long way to go and I can empathize while being appreciative that I live in a “better” place…until the political environment becomes a drag on the great life we all want to live.

    2. One thing always missing from those dark assessments of “modern” life is any sense of perspective. And when you dig in a little bit, the only substance you find in those pieces is the same vapid nostalgia you hear from your rambling uncle. Music these days. Movies these days. Women these days.

      Whatever.

      Until the rural geezer class decided to blow up the world, almost everything about human life was on a curve of steady improvement. Once this bulge of angry old racists ages out, whoever is left will almost certainly continue to climb.

      1. Social media has its shortfalls, but it also offers “sunlight” on issues that affect not only my life but yours. We all respond in different ways to problems, but thankfully there are those who are willing to stand up and speak out for those who cannot. This is how most of the major social changes have happened from womens’ and Blacks’ right to vote to civil rights, to workplace protections, the 40 hour work week, etc….These changes didn’t happen because our elected officials and executives realized they were “right”, they happened because people fought for them. The rest of us benefitted. Thank them and reflect upon how change happens.

      2. I have just the solution for those who are climbing out of the morass of stupidity – the Trump sons being congenitally prescient and politically empowered, are forming a ladder company. It will be located just the other side of the “wall” because access is important, but they can get one to you stateside too if you don’t mind paying a little more with the nice new tariffs that will be affixed to Mexican exports…

        (-;

  4. Trump’s already cooking the books.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-trump-team-is-already-cooking-the-books/2017/02/20/a793961e-f7b2-11e6-be05-1a3817ac21a5_story.html

    “the Trump transition team instead ordered CEA staffers to predict sustained economic growth of 3 to 3.5 percent. The staffers were then directed to backfill all the other numbers in their models to produce these growth rates.

    […]

    “During the campaign, Trump made no secret of his disdain for experts, economic or otherwise. He has since doubled down on this view by demoting the CEA chair from his Cabinet. Not that the demotion really matters at this point; a month into his presidency, Trump hasn’t named a single political appointee to the council.”

    1. Yep. That’s what you’ve got to do when you are a repub and are going to blow a whole in the budget….smoke and mirrors. Every economist (except potus’) have said we are coasting on 2% growth. Per Warren Buffett who weighed in on this topic in an earlier interview, 2% is fine given population stability and the unemployment rate. I’ll stick with Buffett rather than Dear Leader (-;

      What will be interesting is to see if conservatives will call him on it…..with the wall, the HHS expansion, infrastructure plan, military increase….the $$$ has got to come from somewhere…

      1. Economic growth comes from population growth and productivity growth. The native born population is just under replacement levels. One way to increase the economy growth rate would be to allow and encourage more immigration. But of course his base does not want that .

  5. In the ‘let’s not stop’ department, about 200 lunch-hour demonstrators picketed Cruz’s downtown Houston office today to request a town hall meeting with him.

    Interestingly enough, https://townhallproject.com/ reports no congressional town hall meetings within 175 miles of my Houston zip code.

    Some “Empty Chair Town Hall” meetings have been added to their database. Given the name of the meeting type, they sound more like resistance activities than congressional town hall meetings.

    1. Bobo, Can’t cite the journal, but reportedly, only 10 town halls have been scheduled during this recess. Ten!

      Some of the people with the Indivisible group were part of the Cruz protest. MoC are supposed to use their recess to meet with constituents. They are being highly selective, meeting with “their” constituents and if they schedule a group meeting, it is closed and not publicized.

      I am all for the protests and mock town halls as a way of bringing attention to the fact that MoC are refusing to meet. It’s not like they havne’t been asked; they’re simply refusing. Well, two can play at that game. I hope the media was all over this.

      1. Members of other resistance organizations joined this protest. It is ironic that Republicans are attributing these protests, marches, town halls to paid protestors and people who are being mobilized by activist organizations.

        Huh? Isn’t that what freedom of speech is all about? Isn’t this exactly the technique the Tea Party utilized? Is the validity of the effort and the concerns that are voiced less legititimate because it is in disagreement with the Republican and potus agendas?

        Ignore them at your peril, Republicans. These groups are gaining speed and membership. They are going to be a force come mid terms.

      2. Re: mid terms. Those of us (yes, I am one) who are engaged in resistance to this administration’s actions and the Republican agenda, are achieving something that the DNC has never been able to accomplish – bringing white people together in a common purpose with Hispanic and Black people. We are fighting a common cause standing shoulder to shoulder. This is happening all over the United States and I am thrilled that so many people are engaged who have never in their lives been involved in political activism. Will it be enough? We can only hope so while continuing our efforts. We’ll soon find out.

        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/22/upshot/democrats-best-bet-for-house-control-is-following-the-sun.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_up_20170222&nl=upshot&nl_art=0&nlid=41048410&ref=headline&te=1

  6. I just have to post this announcement that the Houston Chronicle investigative reporter, Brian Rosenthal, has received not one, but two awards for his 10 month, 7 – part investigative series on how the State of TX denied special education services to eligible children. I followed every story and the estimates of number of children denied services number over 160,000 – over a 14 year period…and, that’s just the ones they could document. The George Pol Award for Education Reporting and the Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting by the U of SoCa’s prestigious Annenberg School of Journalism are now his. Well done, Mr. Rosenthal.

    Here’s today’s story about his series and the resulting recognition.

    http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Chronicle-journalist-wins-award-10944636.php

    1. Speaking of which, and regarding Dinsdale Piranha’s post about conspiracy nuttery below, yesterday I learned that setbacks and failures of the Trump administration so far have been attributed to ‘a shadow government’ lead by a certain Barack Hussein Obama among some special snowflakes of the increasingly-less-fringe sector of the shock corridor.

      So basically, yeah.

    2. Haim Felix Sater is an interesting fellow. Though involved in a 7.9 million dollar fraud (as in plead guilty) he walked away with a 25k fine. His records were sealed by DOJ (Loretta Lynch). We will not be hearing about him and given the “nature” of his services to the FBI I doubt there will be any leaks. A link to Courthouse News (NYC Court House newspaper- Manhattan Borough).

      http://www.courthousenews.com/2014/03/24/66422.htm

  7. Off topic, but I was a bit bothered by an NPR segment this morning about the deportation of Mexicans.

    It began by discussing the fear of deportation felt by Mexican illegal immigrants (EXPATS) due to Mr. Trump’s rhetoric, and it features interviews with 2 “recent deportees.” It turned out these 2 individuals were deported back in October, before Mr. Trump was even elected. I wouldn’t exactly call this “fake news,” but the segment was misleading in the way it was presented, as if Mr. Trump were to blame for these particular deportations.

    Also, the segment said something about how the President of Mexico was sending $50 million dollars to the 50 Mexican consulates in the US to help protect the rights of Mexican nationals, as a “matter of pride.” I think this money would be better spent helping the people of his country, as a “matter of economic security,” which I think is more important than anyone’s pride.

    1. I agree with most of what you state, but have a question. What does “Mexican Nationals” mean? Is this someone illegally in the US who is detained, or, is it someone who is here on legal visa and detained? Or is it something else. If you are keeping up with the actions surrounding the HHS memorandum that is being vetted (to implement potus’ immigration deportation plan), you will see that all funds presently available to give counsel to any “illegal aliens” (memorandum language, not mine), are to be ended and shifted to a new division called “VOICE”. There is no detail as to what the guidelines are to this program from the information I have been able to glean from reports. What I do feel is that people who are detained (consider the two cases of DACA young people) in the USA should have rights when detained, even if the ultimate judgment is that they are deported.

      Mistakes happen. Our immigration process/system is badly broken. There are some bad ICE people and many good ones simply doing their jobs. What taints the entire process is the lack of a consistent, broad immigration plan. We have no one to blame for that but Republicans.

      1. Also, I think FEAR is Mr. Trump’s main weapon. A lot of what he is proposing may or may not pass, or it may come up against judicial obstacles. In any case, the fear has already been instilled, and that’s enough to keep more people from coming, and to make people here consider self-deportation. I think that was the whole point.

        It doesn’t help that people are posting all kinds of nonsense on Facebook, freaking people out, saying they’ve sighted groups of ICE immigration agents on the freeway, and it turns out these agents are simply emergency personnel investigating an auto accident.

        Also, it’s important for people to remember that deportations in and of themselves are nothing new. They existed during the Bush, Obama, and now Trump administrations. But because of Mr. Trump’s rhetoric, there is a special focus on them. He was even blamed by some people for the recent deportations of Cubans, but the order that allowed it was enacted by Mr. Obama at the very end of his presidency.

      2. Consider that the “dreamer” that was recently caught up in the latest large-scale ICE roundup was living with “a prior-deported felon” father, and that ICE had a arrest warrant before they entered the house. The dreamer had a tattoo that appeared to be gang related and admitted to both previous and current gang ties.

        Now the dreamer and his lawyers deny any present day relation to gangs but what should the ICE agents have done at the time?

        Of course, the young man’s arrest set off mass hysteria, but the press should have been more honest to begin with. It wasn’t a matter of an innocent little lamb being arrested randomly and for no good reason.

        Reporting like this is why the right is so distrustful of the media and the way it tries to shape narratives.

        http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-dreamer-daca-20170216-story.html

      3. OV, by the same token . . . I think the mainstream media is trying to prevent the opposite narrative from being assumed, the narrative shaped by people who are always ready to find fault with illegal immigrants, people who create their own mass hysteria and use this solitary example as “proof” that “all” illegal immigrants are gang members.

        Illegal immigrants are neither angels nor demons. People seem unable to accept that they are somewhere in between.

      4. OV, I don’t trust media which paints illegal immigrants as either angels OR demons, or which downplays the good or the bad, depending on which side of the political spectrum the media source is on.

        I WOULD hope, however, that the media source starts out by giving the illegal immigrant the benefit of the doubt, to assume he is innocent until proven guilty, instead of automatically assuming he is guilty.

        I think that’s the fairest, default position to always fall back on. Always assume people, no matter who they are, are innocent, until proven otherwise. You can’t go wrong that way.

      5. Tutt, I agree. I do like to hear both sides which is why I try to read a wide variety of viewpoints – including the ones on this blog. I think all nationalities have good and bad people. There is no inherent moral superiority in being white or black or somewhere in-between.

        It appears the dreamer was caught up by ICE not because he was being targeted but because he was at his father’s house, and his father was a felon who was in the country despite having been deported previously.

        It would have probably caused less anxiety to many illegal expats and their families if the circumstances would have been reported accurately.

      6. OV, I think it’s important to be exposed to various views, to understand where other people are coming from, and also to temper one’s own views. It’s all too easy to get sucked in and carried away when surrounded by a group of people who all think alike. They are like a force of physics.

        I currently like to read the WSJ, which tends to give Mr. Trump the benefit of the doubt but doesn’t fawn over him and does call him out when he says or does something wrong or unwise. It helps me to stay grounded.

      7. Rock the Vote offers excellent insight into the complexities of the Sanctuary Cities debate. A careful read will help you understand why many mayors and law enforcement entities have decided to not get involved with ICE.

        …”if an undocumented person is stopped by the police for any reason, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may request that the person is detained for several days so they can obtain a federal warrant to deport that undocumented person.
        Because keeping someone in jail without a warrant violates the 4th Amendment of the Constitution, a federal appeals court ruled in 2014 that detainer requests are optional. It is up to the jurisdiction to decide whether to comply with the detention request, using their own resources to keep the person in custody.”

        With the amount of emphasis and funding being poured into HHS and ICE for deportation, this is going to be a very contentious situation for many city mayors.

        https://medium.com/@RockTheVote/what-is-a-sanctuary-city-an-explainer-5f50edd8f566#.kzuoj56qn

      8. Tutt, I’ve been meaning to subscribe to the WSJ. Perhaps I will do so in the near future. I used to subscribe to the Washington Post but dropped them because the writers became so unhinged and virulently anti-Republican during the time before the last election that I didn’t think that they had any objectivity left at all.

        Sorry, it has taken awhile to reply. I’ve been doing some shopping and bought a new bed with “Limited Edition Freedom Mattresses” bought at a “Presidents’ Day Make America Sleep Again Event Sale.” 🙂

    2. I have stopped listening to NPR, they have been crossing over to the dark side little by little it seems. I was a regular listener, but in the last few months they have had some sloppy reporting and guest that should not be given the light of day so they can call themselves “balanced”.

      1. I like listening to BBC World Service Radio. I get a kick out of the attitude they have toward Mr. Trump — not really critical — but they still don’t know quite what to make of him. BBC journalists are mostly bewildered and bemused by him.

      2. I was listening to NPR after the cabinet votes where the Republicans “suspended” the quorum rules after Ds boycotted. A D representative called this a violation of rules, and the interviewer disputed this, saying the Republicans had explained that the rules hadn’t been violated, only “suspended.” The interviewee was dumbfounded. So was I.

      3. Tex, Tutta may have something with her preference for BBC. Today, it would have been especially interesting….There was a 3-hour debate in Westminster by Members of Parliament on whether to oppose potus invitation to England….It got rather “heated”.

        Outside, in places all over the city, 1.8 million Brits signed a petition to ask for a recission of potus invitation to come to Brittain. I think potus should add this crowd photo to his collection……….

        https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/feb/20/mps-pour-scorn-on-racist-and-sexist-donald-trump-in-state-visit-debate?

  8. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0307947904/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl

    From Warren Ellis:

    “Jane Mayer tells a completely demented story in a calm, measured way, only occasionally giving in to the absurdity of what she’s reporting. This is the story of money as speech in America – the conservatives who worked for decades to take control of America’s national political conversation.

    “‘our movement must destroy the prevalent statist paradigm.’

    “The acronyms alone!

    “An alphabet soup of secretly connected organizations sprang up, with acronyms like TRAIN (To Restore American Independence Now) and TACT (Truth About Civil Turmoil).

    “Genuinely crazy people, seriously sleazy people – and those are only the bit-part actors. The stars of the show are the Kochs, on whom I’d already had something of an education from Greg Palast, but whose background and deep activity was even stranger than I expected. This is an amazing, instructive, fairly scary and darkly entertaining book that I strongly recommend to you.”

  9. Conservative twitter is having a moment tonight in light of Milo Yiannopoulos’ video (which I encourage you to watch in its entirety – https://twitter.com/reaganbattalion/status/833485040944156673) of his endorsing Pederasty (sexual relations between two males, particularly when one of them is a MINOR), and while it is fascinating to watch it being responded to in real-time, this is an important moment as the divide between those conservatives and moderates of good faith and everyone else in the Party of Trump is further exacerbated.

    CPAC has been falling further and further in recent years, but this is truly a new low. They knew what they were getting into and now they have to contend with having a YouTube troll who openly endorses molestation of little boys as their keynote speaker.

    It’s been said innumerable times before, but its importance merits it being said again. Those conservatives and moderates of good faith cannot stick their proverbial heads in the sand and try to have it both ways. There lies the path of the coward. Either you’re with the likes of Milo Yiannopoulos and Donald Trump or you’re with the rest of us. There is no in between.

      1. EJ

        It’s interesting to see where the line is. Yiannopoulos has been advocating the harassment, assault and rape of adult women for years now, and that seems to not have been a problem. He’s been advocating white supremacism and the disenfranchisement of minorities for years now, and that seems to not have been a problem. Advocating the molestation of male children, on the other hand, seems to be too much.

        This was bound to happen, though. Yiannopoulos is a wretch without conscience or conviction, driven only by a need for attention of any sort, and a belief that the only way to get it is to constantly push the limits of the acceptable. Sooner or later he was going to say something which pushed too far.

  10. I am diving deep into the bizarro world of conspiracy theories, but I will put this out there anyway after being terrified at the blind adoration I witnessed yesterday in that hangar.

    Let’s assume that the Senate or the media does find some damning evidence about Russia and the trump cabal colluding to take the election. (clearly Congress is not even going to try). Will the Senate even disclose any evidence or confirm if the media finds it?

    After watching the rabid followers of the puppet tyrant yesterday, I wonder if the Senate would consider what would be worse if they moved forward with any kind of action against this regime without the blessing of the powers-that-be behind the the curtain (Koch, Murdoch, Exxon, Goldman etc). I wonder if they recognize that there would indeed be civil war if they tried a move without the support of fox propaganda and the like.

    This guy’s acolytes will kill anyone who appears to seriously try to end this regime. It is one thing for the media to pump out facts that his nutbars can easily dismiss without picking up a gun. It is quite another if the Senate begins actual legal proceedings to remove the tyrant.

    So even if the facts are found out about the russia-bannon-trump relationship, and they are damning, maybe the Senate will decide it is better to ride out the 4-8 years than go to war against 40% of the country. That, or the Senate gets a team to kill bannon and trump.

    One last thing. After watching that sermon in the hangar yesterday, and the amount of times references to the mass’s god was invoked, I put the odds at 40% in the next 2 years the tyrant “finds God” and is born-again. It will cement his position with the insane, and then anything he wants becomes part of a holy quest.

    1. Just a quick aside – conservative money is already pouring into efforts to stop Trump. They aren’t entirely settled on a plan or tactics, but the wallets are open. Big commercial interests are horrified by what’s happening and desperate to stop it, especially the recent moves around trade and immigration.

      It will take some time for it to become visible, partly because no one really knows what to do, but behind the scenes the cash is already flowing.

      1. It’s unfortunate that conservative money supports the Better Way agenda. Even if they are successful, we are still left with the Freedom Caucus, the Grover Norquists, and the Kochs et al. This run away train has a juvenile conductor but the cargo it’s carrying is just as dangerous. I know you favor much of what is being quietly, steadily enacted, whether it’s eliminating regulations or unions, but they are going way too far, Chris, and no one can blame that on potus.

    2. “That, or the Senate gets a team to kill bannon and trump.” I doubt that the Senate would do this. But the intelligence community ? They know how to topple governments and assassinate leaders having done those things in the past. This is one of the main reasons this administration is so dangerous. As Chris has said the White House is not a safe place for idiots.

  11. Let’s boil this down to the essentials. This is feudalism versus the enlightenment. My ancestors came here fleeing feudalism. I do not expect their descendents to peacefully submit to it now. Hopefully ballots will solve this crisis. But bullets are always available. That threat is why Civil Rights was eventually passed.

    1. I’m riffing off someone else’s acidly dead-on assessment of reaction to Operation Jade Helm, but it applies here:

      We’ve now got a core of people who cheer on Trump and hang on his every word, and don’t care even if he is making things up. It may not even be possible to adequately convey how stupid and willfully ignorant these people are. There may not be words in the English language- there may in fact be no words in any language, simply because no civilization has yet existed that ever needed to convey an ignorance as deep or as empty-headed as would apply here. It is a willful ignorance so ignorant that we may be able to use it as future measure of the viability of nation-states; if a critical mass of any definable population is willfully ignorant enough to believe this thing, it is evidence that that population has lost the intellectual ability to maintain a government.

      I wonder how close we are to the critical mass.

      1. People have been here before

        “Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and, if need be, prevented by use of force. Evil always carries within itself the germ of its own subversion in that it leaves behind in human beings at least a sense of unease. Against stupidity we are defenseless. Neither protests nor the use of force accomplish anything here; reasons fall on deaf ears; facts that contradict one’s prejudgment simply need not be believed–in such moments the stupid person even becomes critical–and when facts are irrefutable they are just pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental. In all this the stupid person, in contrast to the malicious one, is utterly self-satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous by going on the attack. For that reason, greater caution is called for when dealing with a stupid person than with a malicious one. Never again will we try to persuade the stupid person with reasons, for it is senseless and dangerous.
        If we want to know how to get the better of stupidity, we must seek to understand its nature. This much is certain, that it is in essence not an intellectual defect but a human one. There are human beings who are of remarkably agile intellect yet stupid, and others who are intellectually quite dull yet anything but stupid. We discover this to our surprise in particular situations. The impression one gains is not so much that stupidity is a congenital defect but that, under certain circumstances, people are made stupid or that they allow this to happen to them. We note further that people who have isolated themselves from others or who live in solitude manifest this defect less frequently than individuals or groups of people inclined or condemned to sociability. And so it would seem that stupidity is perhaps less a psychological than a sociological problem. It is a particular fonn of the impact of historical circumstances on human beings, a psychological concomitant of certain external conditions. Upon closer observation, it becomes apparent that every strong upsurge of power in the public sphere, be it of a political ora a religious nature infects a large part of humankind with stupidity. It would even seem that this is virtually a sociological-psychological law. The power of one needs the stupidity of the other. The process at work here is not that particular human capacities, for instance, the intellect, suddenly atrophy or fail. Instead, it seems that under the overwhelming impact of rising power, humans are deprived of their inner independence and, more or less consciously, give up establishing an autonomous position toward the emerging circumstances. The fact that the stupid person is often stubborn must not blind us to the fact that he is not independent. In conversation with him, One virtually feels that one is dealing not at all with him as a person, but with slogans, catchwords, and the like that have taken possession of him. He is under a spell, blinded, misused, and abused in his very being. Having thus become a mindless tool, the stupid person will also be capable of any evil and at the same time incapable of seeing that it is evil. This is where the danger of diabolical misuse lurks, for it is this that can once and for all destroy human beings.

        Yet at this very point it becomes quite clear that only an act of liberation, not instruction, can overcome stupidity. Here we must come to terms with the fact that in most cases a genuine internal liberation becomes possible only when external liberation has preceded it. Until then we must abandon all attempts to convince the stupid person. This state of affairs explains why in such circumstances our attempts to know what “the people” really think are in vain and why, under these circumstances, this question is so irrelevant for the person who is thinking and acting responsibly. The word of the Bible that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom declares that the internal liberation of human beings to live the responsible life before God is the only genuine way to overcome stupidity.

        But these thoughts about stupidity also offer consolation in that they utterly forbid us to consider the majority of people to be stupid in every circumstance. It really will depend on whether those in power expect more from peoples’ stupidity than from their inner independence and wisdom.”

        Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison (Myinneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2015), 9-11.

    2. I had to google what happened in Sweden to figure out your comment reflected deep sarcasm. I don’t watch a lot of television so I thought I had missed something “big”…..No, just another loose-lips, grandstanding, groundless stream of counsciousness utterance from a man who may not be insane, but is definitely inane.

    3. Ya know, EJ – the next time I’m admonished “not to underestimate him”, I’m going to scream Bullshit! far louder than would be otherwise appropriate, public place, or not. Can you imagine any world leader, (excepting perhaps that dingus Duterte in the Philippines), saying such abjectly stupid crap? God, it’s embarrassing. It really is. And this too will be soon forgotten.

      1. Not by this woman. I will not forget. I learned something interesting on another website. There is something happening according to people who follow Pence’s twitter feed since the FBI meeting on Friday. I don’t really follow twitter, much less anyone in particular, especially not Pence, but for those of you who are twitter affecionados, may want to check this out….for grins or out of desperation.

    4. EJ, I would sincerely like to know more about Europe and specifically in Germany’s reaction to the recent influx of migrants. What is the attitude of most people toward the refugees?

      The background to Trumps remarks involve a police investigator’s words reported on (your favorite network) Fox News.

      “Trump’s comments during a Florida campaign rally on Saturday – which some took as a misstatement about a supposed terror attack – dovetail with what Springare has been seeing during a typical week in Orebro, Sweden. Five rapes, three assaults, a pair of extortions, blackmail, an attempted murder, violence against police and a robbery made up Springare’s caseload for a five-day period earlier this month, according to a Feb. 3 Facebook post he wrote. The suspects were all from Muslim-majority countries – Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia and Turkey – save for one Swedish man nabbed in a drug-related case.”

      http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/02/20/trump-may-have-been-unclear-but-sweden-experiencing-migrant-crime-wave.html

      1. EJ

        Hi objv, it’s a very polarising issue in Germany. I would say that there’s five sides to it.

        Most German people are horrified by what the refugees in Syria are fleeing from, and what they’ve had to go through to get here. We want to help. Many – especially Easterners – have memories of poverty and humiliation and barbed wire, which contribute to this. Having said that, a lot of people want to help but also don’t want it to happen in their own town – they want the oppressed foreigners to stop being oppressed but stay foreign.

        Secondly, against this, there’s the gradual realisation that we’re almost alone. The only other big, rich country which has been willing to accept mass numbers of refugees is Sweden. Britain has gone back on its commitments, France has only done token amounts, and Australia and the US are fighting over kicking them out again. As a result, there’s a growing feeling that Germany is trying to do this alone – or worse, that we’re being played for fools.

        This leads into the third issue, which is about patriotism. Germany is a big rich country full of educated people; we will naturally have a loud voice on the world stage. However, the last time we tried to assert leadership we ended up doing the worst thing that humans have ever done, and getting occupied by the Russians for 44 years. (The time before that didn’t work out too well either.) Because of this, Germans have a complex relationship with patriotism. Even the waving of flags at a football match causes discomfort, and if a politician starts talking about us taking a world leadership role – the sort of speech which would be unexceptional in any other big rich country – Germans start getting really bad feelings. This means that the current situation, in which Angela Merkel is increasingly being seen as the leader of the Free World and the voice of international centrism, is one that we’re really not okay with.

        Fourthly, the Far Right is on the rise in Germany as it is elsewhere. They aren’t as threatening here as they are in, say, the Netherlands (where they’re probably going to win in the next election) or France or Britain. However, the fact that they’re rising is doing weird things to the Overton Window. The taboos that have been in place since 1945 are beginning to loosen and there’s the worry that they might not loosen gradually.

        Fifthly, the rise of the Far Right has almost killed the German Left. Angela Merkel isn’t a Leftist or a Liberal; she’s the centrist leader of a moderate-Right party. The Liberal and moderate-Left parties are doing nothing but supporting her as strongly as they can. This means that the AfD (the Nazis, basically) have been able to become the opposition party, and get a lot of press coverage as a result.

      2. EJ, Thanks so much for your explanation. My parents came to the US when they were in their early twenties and rapidly became Americanized. Although they have stayed in contact with their brothers and sisters, it’s difficult to determine exactly the mood among people in Germany.

        My parents are liberal, so to keep family harmony, it is best to stay away from politics entirely. 🙂

      3. If you already have a long track record as a liar and a bullshit artist, it behooves you to say precisely what you mean if you truly don’t want your comments to get taken in the worst possible way. But Trump is fond of running his mouth without thinking, without doing the necessary research (and watching cable TV doesn’t count as research). This is deadly serious stuff. The President has to think carefully about what he says because loose lips can cause international incidents. The fact the people have to constantly explain and spin and make excuses for his word salads is not reassuring.

      4. Fly, I wish there were a happy medium. On the one hand we have Trump who usually doesn’t use a teleprompter, goes off message frequently, and doesn’t explain some of what he says well.

        On the other hand you have Obama who uses a teleprompter with written speeches even when talking to children in schools. He rarely goes off script. The main problem with Obama (and Hillary) is that the narrative they are spinning (Benghazi YouTube video!) is not the entire truth but is only what they think the American public needs or wants to hear.

        So, in Trump and Obama we have two ways of messaging and neither way serves the American people well.

  12. Milo Yiannopoulos is going to be the keynote speaker at CPAC this year, and… that’s a thing that’s happened.

    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/milo-yiannopoulos-tapped-as-keynote-speaker-at-conservative-political-action-conference-977591?utm_source=twitter&utm_source=t.co&utm_medium=referral

    Just for the record, this gem of a personality will indeed have more speaking time than any of the other 60 confirmed speakers, including the current VP, Mike Pence, Ted Cruz, and even such personalities like Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and others.

      1. Republicans have truly come full circle. They will spend a large number of minutes being entertained by a gay man, who advocates protecting little girls and women from transgender males.

        Huh? I hope someone working the bar is able to slip a microphone under a napkin to watch this group of hypocritical conservatives as they reveal their true selves. And, that is, laughing at the world for believing they have a moral core.

        More on this “entertainer”.

        https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2016-america-divided/milo-yiannopoulos/

  13. It’s interesting to read the Constitution of the Confederate States. It follows the US Constitution word for word in most cases, with three notable changes. In the Preamble, it omits “promote the general welfare.” It strictly limits the Congress from funding most public works, and it prohibits any law restricting the right to own slaves, and in fact gets kind of obsessive about protecting the rights of slave owners.

    1. It is enlightening to consider the scope of the paralyzing fear that must’ve held like a stranglehold across so many in the South that they went to such obscene degrees to subvert the rights of slaves (which is why they never recognized them as equal human beings in the first place, of course). That said though, I am interested to know… what exactly was it that they were so afraid of? Did they fear wholesale slaughter for their transgressions if the slaves were freed and allowed equal rights? Was that why Southerners persisted in their aggressive disenfranchisement of African-Americans for so long afterwards?

      1. Ryan, those were such good questions that I had to reflect on them before offering my opinion. I don’t think it was fear, but repugnance…of black people’s “different-ness” in all ways. They were considered chattel as well so were not seen as people. I am reminded of how black people were treated when I read about Congressman who recently described women as “hosts”, because so often slaves were selected for breeding in order to increase their numbers. How ironic.

        It is a very sad, but very real problem. Haven’t heard much about BLM….wonder what’s going on there?

    2. EJ

      Creigh:
      Prompted by your post, I went away and read the Confederate Constitution side-by-side with the US one. You’re right that they’re mostly the same, and there’s some very in-depth protection for slave owners.

      There’s also a strange fixation on the control of waterways and the taxation of shipping. Is that a significant thing, at all? If so, could someone enlighten me on the significance of it?

      1. Great question. Transportation infrastructure was the first big flashpoint between the slave states and the North. In the first few administrations the states clashed over federal funding for canal projects, including the Erie Canal. Southern states eventually killed the first Erie Canal project (it eventually had to be funded by NY and PA) over their fears.

        You would think that plantation owners would want more and better transportation options, but that was never the case. They were far more concerned about the potential of transportation networks to enable the development of a US industrial base and the potential of ready transportation to make it harder to control people’s movement – specifically *certain people*. They were also concerned that the growth of federal funding for infrastructure would lead to greater power being invested in the federal government.

        It’s kind of funny that they talk so much about waterways in the Confederate Constitution because those waterway projects were already becoming an anachronism. Northern states had stopped building canals decades before and were investing almost all new transit money into railroads and connected ports. They were decades behind.

      2. God made the Mississippi River. It was there when we got here. They figured they were doing just fine with the transportation infrastructure they had. Canals, trains, fancy new ports – those are for godless, money-grubbing capitalists.

      3. There’s never enough money for capitalists, is there? No matter how it is obtained, no matter what it despoils, it’s all about the mighty dollar.

        In Utah, some of the leading outdoor companies are banding together to make a statement to Governor Herbert who is asking potus to rescind the “Bear Ears National Monument” federal designation by Pres. Obama.

        “the state’s politicians need to understand the economic consequences of their actions, said Scott Miller, senior regional director for the Wilderness Society.

        “This should send a clear signal to Utah’s leadership,” Miller said in a statement. “In the wake of ongoing political attacks on our clean air and water, wildlife and sacred places, we will stand united in our beliefs and our business practices.”

        I can tell you this from having watched the Sierra Club fight over Lake Ponchartrain, you don’t. want. to . mess. with these wilderness groups. They are fearless and even though they are not “yet” involved in this particular fight – they will be if needed. Two major events are being pulled as the article affirms, business and social/environmental concerns are melding just as you predicted in your post on corporate passports. This will be interesting to watch unfold.

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/02/18/outdoor-industry-pulls-trade-show-from-utah-citing-bears-ears-feud/?tid=pm_business_pop&utm_term=.5617095aab92

      4. Okay, Mary, this is a bit confusing. Are you saying that the environmental groups supporting the Bears Ears national monument designation are like the Confederates in that they don’t want infrastructure built on the land???

        Bears Ears is a two hour drive from my house, so I much appreciate your concern that my rights to visit government lands will not be infringed upon. 🙂

        One of my favorite camping spots is in Bears Ears near Canyonlands National Park. I’m not sure what kind of changes will be occurring with the new designation since the land was already owned by the government.

      5. Interesting the fixation on transportation. Currently, I’m thinking of the resistance to high speed passenger rail in various areas. Of course there is the influence of the fossil fuel industry. But aside from that high speed passenger rail is extremely more efficient than air or highway travel over intermediate distances, provided there is sufficient population density. When the full costs of highways are included in a comparison the capital costs are comparable or perhaps even less for high speed rail. Yet there is considerable resistance to modernizing the rail systems in the Northeastern corridor. California for the moment is proceeding with development of high speed rail between the Bay Area and Southern California, but there is considerable resistance. The highways are clogged and air travel is essentially saturated.

  14. I feel that every one of your blogs in the past 6 weeks have all edged closer than the previous blog in recognizing that violence is inevitable. Will it start with an external war (hello Iran) used to strengthen bannon’s control over the country, or the killing of demonstrators, or the staging of some terrorist attack, who knows.

    The puppet tyrant speaks soon to his acolytes in Florida. I wonder what fresh hell he unleashes today.

    1. What we see now with conservatives of good faith and moderate Republicans is an existential quagmire with their being stuck between a rock and a very crazy place. They know their party has been taken over and they’re effectively powerless to stop it, but what do they do? Democrats have been left toothless at virtually every level of power, so it makes no strategic sense to abandon ship to join the other side, so all they can do is try to stay on to do what little they can on the inside, futile an effort though that is.

      No, the only road forward is for this Republican Party to be crushed. Trumpism, at least in the short-term, has won and until it can be defeated, resoundingly so, you will not see Republicans abandon ship en masse, and the only credible path to seeing that happen is either through Democrats getting their shit together or taking the long, slow slog of building a new national party for those moderate, sensible Republican voters to join up with.

      1. I concur with your thought Ryan. The current Republican Party is totally incompatible with a modern democratic state and it must be totally crushed. Either the Ds will have to find their footing or a new national party will have to be built. Most likely that will be within the Democratic Party structure. I continue to expect that there will be a major reaction to the Trump coup in 2018. The resistance that is developing is a very good sign. I do hope that it will continue.

        In a larger sense, I do have some concern that the Democratic Party is trending too far to the left and towards socialism, i.e. moderate to extreme left, as it is practiced in Europe. That is not very compatible with the American experience. I believe that we need a balance, with a strong role for government particularly in social welfare areas and regulations to keep the private sector from being too rapacious. As an example, in education there should be a role for private education, but it needs to be strongly regulated. The bulk of education should be the province of government, to insure that all people receive a good basic education. Similarly in health care. I believe basic health care is a human right, and the government should insure that is provided to all at a reasonable cost. That needs to include preventative services. People should not have to wait until they are 65 to obtain basic health care. It is particularly crucial for mature adults in the 50-65 age range.

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