White Power: Driving Force for Republicans: Revised

White Power: Driving Force for Republicans

Could it be that the Great American Divide is about white power? There is a lot of evidence that this may be exactly the case. This is an undercurrent in Republican politics that we should be aware of because it turns one faction of Christianity into a secretive lobbying group with an agenda that subverts the Constitution in the name of purifying it. These extra-governmental groups get their power from big money, from savvy manipulation of people’s faith, and, they claim, from God. They have been able to divide America while they carry out a campaign to control politics in Washington and in the states.

I am reading a book called Shadow Network: Media, Money, and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right by Anne Nelson who is offering evidence that there are long tentacles of connection between American Fundamentalists and the Koch Network, which also includes the DeVos family – and that white supremacy and the supremacy of the Christian religion are the doctrines around which these folks coalesce. Nelson looks at the founding of a group called the Council for National Policy, and at its past presidents who include people from just about every radical conservative group in America.

“A century earlier the US population was close to 90 percent non-Hispanic white but by 2016 the figure dropped to 60% and was falling steadily.” (pg. 2)

In 1972 Protestants made up 2/3 of the US population, but by 2012 they had dropped to less than half.” (pg. 2)`

“[The men we are speaking of] represented an American past dominated by white Protestant male property owners. They dreamed of restoring a nineteenth century patriarchy that limited the civil rights of women, minorities, immigrants and workers, with no income tax to vex the rich or social safety net to aid the poor.” (Prologue, pg. xiv)

“If the country abided by a clear-cut democratic process, these constituencies, leaning Democratic, would consolidate their power based on majority rule.” (pg. xiv)

“Once Democratic-leaning youth and minorities reached a decisive majority – which could be as early as 2031 – there might be no turning back.”

Perhaps this explains the conservative meme on the demise of the American nuclear family and the passionate campaign to end birth control and abortion and the constant comments that inform white folks that they are not having enough offspring, which some conservatives are wont to let slip in unguarded moments. (As in, we need more white babies.)

Thomas Edsall

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/27/opinion/barr-liberals-family.html

Ross Douthat

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/03/opinion/liberals-marriage.html

Nelson says that “[t]he key players learned how to achieve minority rule through long-term strategies, which they would soon apply to the country as a whole, manipulating the electoral process and reshaping the judiciary.” (pg. 2)

E. J. Dionne, Jr.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/what-unites-trumps-apologists-minority-rule/2019/11/24/152c5d06-0d6c-11ea-97ac-a7ccc8dd1ebc_story.html

“Two questions are asked again and again: How can white evangelical Christians continue to support a man as manifestly immoral as President Trump? And how can congressional Republicans refuse to condemn Trump’s thuggish effort to use taxpayer money to intimidate a foreign leader into helping his reelection campaign?”

“The answer to both relates to power — not just the power Trump now enjoys but also to the president’s faithfulness to a deal aimed at controlling American political life for a generation or more. Both evangelicals and Republican politicians want to lock in their current policy preferences, no matter how much the country changes or how sharply public opinion swings against them. As a party, the GOP now depends on empowering a minority over the nation’s majority.”

“Still, voter suppression and the electoral college (along with partisan gerrymandering) are not foolproof. There is, however, one part of government entirely immune from the results of any particular election: the lifetime appointees to federal judgeships, beginning with the U.S. Supreme Court. And here is where Trump has delivered big time for those willing to let him do just about anything else.”

“But white evangelicals turn out to be the premier pragmatists of U.S. politics, as the historian Matthew Avery Sutton argued last week in The Post’s “Made by History” section. They know they are losing ground in public opinion on issues such as same-sex marriage. An older group than the country as a whole, they are also in demographic decline as our nation grows more ethnically, racially and religiously diverse.

“The best defense evangelicals have against the new majority is control of the courts, which Trump is giving them. Everything else is negotiable, or ignorable.

The courts also matter to Republican economic elites alarmed by the growing support, even among political moderates, for higher taxes on the wealthy and limits on corporate power. Conservative judges are rather solicitous toward the interests of property and have historically limited the regulatory reach of government’s democratically elected branches. No wonder Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has turned the Senate — where, by the way, the most diverse and populous states are underrepresented — into an assembly line sped up to confirm right-wing judges as quickly as possible.”

“There is nothing new about established conservative interests trying to limit democracy’s reach, as a student of mine, Humza Jilani, helpfully reminded me last week in discussing his thesis topic. What ought to disturb us now is how far evangelical conservatives and Republicans (and let’s honor the Never Trumper exceptions) are willing to go to defend Trump’s indefensible behavior because they are entirely complicit in his minority-rule project.”

 

In Shadow Network Anne Nelson tells us that Paige Patterson and Paul Pressler, outraged when the Supreme Court ended public school prayer, met in March of 1967, to discuss this and other matters and to come up with an organized response which would eventually become the Council for National Policy. Southern Baptists figured prominently in these events. Jerry Falwell was also in the loop. Paul Weyrich would become one of the architects of the CNP. “According to journalist David Grann’s account in the New Republic, Weyrich’s idea for a conservative network arose in Washington one day in 1969. In 1970 Weyrich cofounded The Heritage Foundation, the Republican Study Committee, and ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council which become the building blocks of the Council for National Policy.”

Since this movement involved the church there was already a network of Christian radio stations all across America. “Over time the media empire has expanded its reach into Fox News operations and grown to include fundamentalist television broadcasting, digital platforms, book publishing, and feature film production.” (pg. xv)

“ The ‘wallpaper effect’ of wraparound media can have a powerful effect,” says Nelson. (pg. xvi)

“The CNP set its sights on the Republican Party” (pg. xvii)

Nelson goes on to say, “the movement has also appropriated a vocabulary that it redeploys with Orwellian flair. ‘Family’ is a code word for homophobic, and ‘defense of marriage’ means prohibition of same sex unions…” (pg. xvii) hardly surprising to most of us.

Once we are versed in the history of the CNP and related organizations such as the Leadership Institute, the Federalist Society, the Heritage Foundation, Tea Party Patriots and many more on the right, Anne Nelson begins to delineate the connections of this fundamentalist network with the Koch brothers and their network of organizations mostly connected to the oil and gas industry, very important in the states the CNP grew up in. The most famous Koch organizations include Americans for Prosperity and Donors Trust.

 

I began to be aware that what was going on in the federal government and in the states was not business-as-usual sometime around 2013 when the scope of Republican obstructionism in Congress became too obvious to ignore. Saying that you plan to make Obama a one term president was a bit abstract, but the use of the filibuster and the Hastert rule to bring legislation to a virtual standstill was pretty concrete. Ted Cruz reading Green Eggs and Ham may have amused some Americans, but I found it snarky and disrespectful. Refusing to raise the debt ceiling, shutting down the government – all these actions began to look planned, strategic, ways to prevent the majority party from governing. And of course, I was not the only one who noticed.

I’m not sure the connection to white supremacy was as clear in those years as it is today but actions like defusing the Voting Rights Act to end preclearance for Jim Crow states began to offer us a strong suspicion that white supremacy was not dead and gone in these United States. Voter ID’s, getting rid of convenient polling places and polling times and other anti-voting moves that would be likely to most affect minorities, or would echo techniques previously used to suppress minority votes, brought issues of racism back to the forefront, as did the events that precipitated the Black Lives Matter movement. And Charlottesville.

Journalists started to connect the dots among the various conservative and fundamentalist organizations that had sprung up like pernicious weeds in a garden that was unattended. In 2013 a group called Muckety traced the web of the Koch brothers influence (along with other wealthy conservative political families). Anne Nelson, finally in 2019, does her more exhaustive analysis of these groups whose goals are to steer American politics inevitably in such a way that white power will stay in charge in America regardless of what changes we see in our population.

Small wonder how we end up with someone like Steven Miller, the merchant of white supremacy (renamed white nationalism) by the side of a president who the Republicans will not touch, because he is busy preserving the white America they have been manipulating Americans to want for an astonishing 50 years.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-creepy-racist-network-behind-trump-aide-stephen-miller

Republicans don’t blink when Trump tells Americans that Muslims are terrorists and that people from south of the border are gang members. After several terrorist bombings in America, (after 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombings and more), after exaggerating MS-13 presence in America, it is pretty easy to understand why people believe the white supremacist activities of this administration are protecting them. The Muslim ban and the Wall calm Americans’ terror of these new immigrants that people have been incited to fear, who are so different from European immigrants of previous migrations.

There is some truth to the fear. If we accept Muslim immigrants some of them could be terrorists. If we give sanctuary to people from South America or Central America some of them could be gang members. But stoking fear of these groups is wrong, it is un-American, it over-generalizes, and, because it relies on Europe to deal with the upheaval driving Muslims into Europe all on its own, it will eventually create massive anti-American sentiment in Europe if these policies outlast Trump. Europe seems to be cutting us some slack for Trump. Can we save ourselves from economic chaos in South America by building a wall? Probably not for long.

As it turns out this is not really about immigration at all and we instinctively knew this; it is about white supremacy; it is about preserving white power. It is about wealth and who gets to keep it. It is about old energy and holding the line. It is the antithesis of globalization which would attempt to see that we all try to understand each other and get along as best we can to offer a life that meets the needs of people everywhere on the planet.

It is about change, an end to white hegemony, and it is so frightening to some that they are willing to destroy our democracy to keep the status quo in America. The Republicans are part of this strategic program to keep America white and Christian and that has everything to do with why they back a guy like Trump who is not afraid to cozy up to white supremacists to get it done (and who insists at the same time that he is doing nothing of the kind). This is not about the base, although heaven knows they need their base. This is about white male Christian power; it is about a minority finding ways to continue to exercise power over a new majority.

Can the left come up with an equally strategic plan to counteract this right wing cabal, to peacefully wend a way to inclusion, to lifting up those who will be affected by climate shifts, and inventing a new more equitable economy?

I also am  in the midst of reading the Frederick Douglass biography, Frederick Douglass, Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight. Douglass began his life in America as a slave but he taught himself to read, write, and speak at great hazard as reading and writing were forbidden to slaves. Once he escaped north he became a tireless member and leader in the abolitionist movement. David Blight describes Frederick Douglass’s impatience  with Lincoln in 1862. Douglass was waiting for Lincoln to emancipate the slaves and to allow them to fight on the Union side in the Civil War. Lincoln had dissenters to appeal to and perhaps that explains why he dithered. Perhaps it explains why the government in Washington pushed colonization along with freedom. Slaves who wished to be sent to found a colony, perhaps in Central America would be freed. Frederick Douglass felt that American slaves belonged in America. It was now the nation they called home. They should not be uprooted again because white people did not accept black folks as equals.

Douglass says “If men may not live peaceably together in the same land, they cannot so live on the same continent, and ultimately on the same world -If heterogeneity could not work in America where could it. If the black man cannot find peace from the aggressions of the white race on this continent,” he reasoned, “he will not be likely to find it permanently on any part of the habitable globe.” (pg.375)

Here is General Montgomery Blair on the subject (responding to a letter Douglass had written to Senator Pomeroy), “Blair sought to assure Douglass that there ‘was no question of superiority or inferiority involved in the proposed removal.’ Blair invoked the reputation of Thomas Jefferson to underscore the necessity of racial separation. The minority race, argued Blair, must go elsewhere to initiate the civilization established by the majority race: the propriety of colonization stemmed from the differences between them…and it seems as obvious to me as it was to…the mind of Jefferson that the opinion against which you protest, is the necessary result of indelible differences made by the Almighty.” (pg. 375-76)

So brother fought brother in a deadly Civil War and when it ended the union of states remained together, but the racial animosity also remained. Obviously there are white Americans who still feel superior to anyone with darker skin, anyone who cannot trace their history to Europe.

Will our democracy, born in a crucible of racism, be able to survive into a brave new tolerant future? It is not looking good.

Photo Credits: From Google Image Searches – NBC News, Muckety/Daily Kos, Daily Beast, Newsday

White Power: Driving Force for Republicans

White Power – Driving Force for Republicans

Could it be that the Great American Divide is about white power? There is a lot of evidence that this may be exactly the case. I am reading the Frederick Douglass biography, Frederick Douglass, Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight. Douglass began his life in America as a slave but he taught himself to read, write, and speak at great hazard as reading and writing were forbidden to slaves. Once he escaped north he became a tireless member and leader in the abolitionist movement. David Blight describes Frederick Douglass’s impatience  with Lincoln in 1862. Douglass was waiting for Lincoln to emancipate the slaves and to allow them to fight on the Union side in the Civil War. Lincoln had dissenters to appeal to and perhaps that explains why he dithered. Perhaps it explains why the government in Washington pushed colonization along with freedom. Slaves who wished to be sent to found a colony, perhaps in Central America, would be freed. Frederick Douglass felt that American slaves belonged in America. It was now the nation they called home. They should not be uprooted again because white people did not accept black folks as equals.

Douglass says “If men may not live peaceably together in the same land, they cannot so live on the same continent, and ultimately on the same world -If heterogeneity could not work in America where could it. If the black man cannot find peace from the aggressions of the white race on this continent,” he reasoned, “he will not be likely to find it permanently on any part of the habitable globe.” (pg.375)

Here is General Montgomery Blair on the subject (responding to a letter Douglass had written to Senator Pomeroy), “Blair sought to assure Douglass that there ‘was not question of superiority or inferiority involved in the proposed removal.’ Blair invoked the reputation of Thomas Jefferson to underscore the necessity of racial separation. The minority race, argued Blair, must go elsewhere to initiate the civilization established by the majority race: the propriety of colonization stemmed from the differences between them…and it seems as obvious to me as it was to…the mind of Jefferson that the opinion against which you protest, is the necessary result of indelible differences made by the Almighty.” (pg. 375-76)

So brother fought brother in a deadly Civil War and when it ended the union of states remained together, but the racial animosity also remained. There are white Americans who still feel superior to anyone with darker skin, anyone who cannot trace their history to Europe.

I am also reading a book called Shadow Network: Media, Money, and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right by Anne Nelson who is offering evidence that there are long tentacles of connection between American Fundamentalists and the Koch Network, which also includes the DeVos family, and that white supremacy and the supremacy of the Christian religion are the doctrines around which these folks coalesce. Nelson looks at the founding of a group called the Council for National Policy, and at its past presidents who include people from just about every radical conservative group in America.

“A century earlier the US population was close to 90 percent non-Hispanic white but by 2016 the figure dropped to 60% and was falling steadily.” (pg. 2)

In 1972 Protestants made up 2/3 of the US population, but by 2012 they had dropped to less than half.” (pg. 2)`

“[The men we are speaking of] represented an American past dominated by white Protestant male property owners. They dreamed of restoring a nineteenth century patriarchy that limited the civil rights of women, minorities, immigrants and workers, with no income tax to vex the rich or social safety net to aid the poor.” (Prologue, pg. xiv)

“If the country abided by a clear-cut democratic process, these constituencies, leaning Democratic, would consolidate their power based on majority rule.” (pg. xiv)

“Once Democratic-leaning youth and minorities reached a decisive majority – which could be as early as 2031 – there might be no turning back.”

Perhaps this explains the conservative meme on the demise of the American nuclear family and the passionate campaign to end birth control and abortion and the constant comments that inform white folks that they are not having enough offspring, which some conservatives are wont to let slip in unguarded moments. (As in, we need more white babies.)

Nelson says that “[t]he key players learned how to achieve minority rule through long-term strategies, which they would soon apply to the country as a whole, manipulating the electoral process and reshaping the judiciary.” (pg. 2)

Paige Patterson and Paul Pressler, outraged when the Supreme Court ended public school prayer met in March of 1967, Nelson learned, to discuss these matters and to come up with an organized response which would eventually become the Council for National Policy. Southern Baptists figured prominently in these events. Jerry Falwell was also in the loop. Paul Weyrich would become one of the architects of the CNP. “According to journalist David Grann’s account in the New Republic, Weyrich’s idea for a conservative network arose in Washington one day in 1969. In 1970 Weyrich cofounded The Heritage Foundation, the Republican Study Committee, and ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council which become the building blocks of the Council for National Policy.

Since this movement involved the church there was already a network of Christian radio stations all across America. “Over time the media empire has expanded its reach into Fox News operations and grown to include fundamentalist television broadcasting, digital platforms, book publishing, and feature film production.” (pg. xv)

“ The ‘wallpaper effect’ of wraparound media can have a powerful effect,” says Nelson. (pg. xvi)

“The CNP set its sights on the Republican Party” (pg. xvii)

Nelson goes on to say, “the movement has also appropriated a vocabulary that it redeploys with Orwellian flair. ‘Family’ is a code word for homophobic, and ‘defense of marriage’ means prohibition of same sex unions…” (pg. xvii) hardly surprising to most of us.

Once we are versed in the history of the CNP and related organizations such as the Leadership Institute, the Federalist Society, the Heritage Foundation, Tea Party Patriots and many more on the right, Anne Nelson begins to delineate the connections of this fundamentalist network with the Koch brothers and their network of organizations mostly connected to the oil and gas industry, very important in the states the CNP grew up in. The most famous Koch organizations include Americans for Prosperity and Donors Trust.

I began to be aware that what was going on in the federal government and in the states was not business-as-usual sometime around 2013 when the scope of Republican obstructionism in Congress became too obvious to ignore. Saying that you plan to make Obama a one term president was a bit abstract, but the use of the filibuster and the Hastert rule to bring legislation to a virtual standstill was pretty concrete. Ted Cruz reading Green Eggs and Ham may have amused some Americans, but I found it snarky and disrespectful. Refusing to raise the debt ceiling, shutting down the government – all these actions began to look planned, strategic, ways to prevent the majority party from governing. And of course, I was not the only one who noticed.

I’m not sure the connection to white supremacy was as clear in those years as it is today but actions like defusing the Voting Rights Act to end preclearance for Jim Crow states began to offer us a strong suspicion that white supremacy was not dead and gone in these United States. Voter ID’s, getting rid of convenient polling places and polling times and other anti-voting moves that would be likely to most affect minorities, or would echo techniques previously used to suppress minority votes, brought issues of racism back to the forefront, as did the events that precipitated the Black Lives Matter movement.

Journalists started to connect the dots among the various conservative and fundamentalist organizations that had sprung up like pernicious weeds in a garden that was unattended. In 2013 a group called Muckety traced the web of the Koch brothers influence (along with other wealthy conservative political families). Anne Nelson, finally in 2019, does her more exhaustive analysis of these groups whose goals are to steer American politics inevitably in such a way that white power will stay in charge in America regardless of what changes we see in our population.

Small wonder how we end up with someone like Steven Miller, the merchant of white supremacy (renamed white nationalism) by the side of a president who the Republicans will not touch, because he is busy preserving the white America they have been manipulating Americans to want for an astonishing 50 years.

Tell Americans that Muslims are terrorists and that people from south of the border are gang members. After several terrorist bombings in America, (after 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombings and more), after exaggerating MS-13 presence in America, it is pretty easy to understand why people believe the white supremacist activities of this administration are protecting them. The Muslim ban and the Wall calm Americans’ terror of these new immigrants that people have been incited to fear, who are so different from European immigrants of previous migrations.

There is some truth to the fear. If we accept Muslim immigrants some of them could be terrorists. If we give sanctuary to people from South America or Central America some of them could be gang members. But stoking fear of these groups is wrong, it is un-American, it over-generalizes, and, because it relies on Europe to deal with the upheaval driving Muslims into Europe all on its own, it will eventually create massive anti-American sentiment in Europe if these policies outlast Trump. Europe seems to be cutting us some slack for Trump. Can we save ourselves from economic chaos in South America by building a wall? Probably not for long.

As it turns out this is not really about immigration at all and we instinctively knew this; it is about white supremacy; it is about preserving white power. It is about wealth and who gets to keep it. It is about old energy and holding the line. It is the antithesis of globalization which would attempt to see that we all try to understand each other and get along as best we can to offer a life that meets the needs of people everywhere on the planet.

It is about change, an end to white hegemony, and it is so frightening to some that they are willing to destroy our democracy to keep the status quo in America. The Republicans are part of this strategic program to keep America white and Christian and that has everything to do with why they back a guy like Trump who is not afraid to cozy up to white supremacists to get it done (and who insists at the same time that he is doing nothing of the kind). This is not about the base, although heaven knows they need their base. This is about white male Christian power; it is about a minority finding ways to continue to exercise power over a new majority.

Can the left come up with an equally strategic plan to counteract this right wing cabal, to peacefully wend a way to inclusion, to lifting up those who will be affected by climate shifts, and inventing a new more equitable economy? Will our democracy, born in a crucible of racism, be able to survive into a brave new tolerant future? It is not looking good.

Photo Credits: NBC News, Muckety

This Republican Decade: Snatching Victory from Jaws of Defeat

How have the Republicans – who took us into a war in Iraq under false pretenses, and basically caused the Great Recession – been able to grab so much power in the intervening decade? How did they snatch victory from the jaws of defeat? It isn’t all about backlash to global change. It also may be about a Party that seized a moment and a movement.

It seems as if the Republicans have been obstructing government forever but by the numbers the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress until 2011 (until the election in 2010 actually), then they still had control of the Senate until 2013 when Republicans took control of both houses until 2019.

Of course, we remember that Mitch McConnell swore to obstruct Obama in every way. People like to blame Obama for the Republican’s obstruction saying that he passed the ACA in secrecy in the middle of the night without any Republican votes and that the rest of the obstruction was just payback. But clearly this obstruction was the result of a nexus of Conservative activity by a number of different actors and we know this because every Conservative used the same reasoning right down to the same words. There were no original answers to media questions. Every Conservative had the same talking points reiterated to the same script and it was freaky, bizarre, and in the end, a sign of behind the scenes organizing on a grand scale.

So we ask again, how have the Republicans, who basically caused the Great Recession, been able to grab so much power in the intervening decade? They have done it by being willing to trash norms long accepted as informal protocols and even by boldly forcing Democrats to change rules like the filibuster threshold to try to get anything done. Although Dems technically had the numbers they did not have the 60 votes needed.

It seemed that everything Dems did backfired. When Harry Reid lowered the threshold for the filibuster to a simple majority it set up the future parade of approvals of Conservative judges that are the current daily agenda (and the only agenda) in the Republican-controlled Senate. (It is not like Dems didn’t foresee this possibility but they took the risk anyway for immediate gains.) The Hastert rule took hold in the House where no business hit the floor unless it could pass with all Republican votes.

I contend that Republicans got radicalized by the Tea Party and Talk Radio and Fox News. This is not exactly news. Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh had a rabid audience for their constant propaganda demonizing Obama and the Democrats. Beck and Bill O’Reilly wrote popular books that reinterpreted history from a fairly extreme Conservative viewpoint. It was all a giant mash-up of Koch Brothers pushing Capitalism and fossil fuels, Confederate flags waving on the back of gas-guzzling trucks all over America, the patriotism of arming yourself because the communist, socialists, gangs, immigrants are coming for you. Add in a Fundamentalist interpretation of the Constitution (refight the Federalist papers), Evangelical expectations of the Rapture and a full-throated Biblical approval of rich folks and the Conservative Way. Then there was a pledge made to a Libertarian group (against their duty to the Constitution) to never raise taxes, and a celebration of the audacity of Republicans in Congress who showed their party “purity” by obstructing Dems in ever newer and more creative ways (with good-old-boy grins on their faces).

Today the highs of those giddy days have disappeared and there is just the mean tough slog of a government deadlocked by a Republican Party that no longer has any impetus to be at all bipartisan. They will have their way. The Republicans got to this place, and they also got us to this President Trump who tramples all our norms with impunity.

Dems seem much too polite to dig us out of this hole, but they do have policy on their side and they want to save our Republic. The modern Republican Party has no members in Congress who seem motivated to save the Republic as it was before the Tea Party/Conservative extravaganza. Conservative extremists are so far winning the tug of war to pull the whole nation to the right. But that frightening torch-lit white supremacist show of power in Charlottesville has put a much more serious light on where Conservatives might be planning to take America.

Progressives may have the energy to pull the nation back towards the left, even if they don’t make it as far left as they would like. If the Dems don’t win, where will four more years of “to the right, to the right” leave us. Perhaps in a dictatorship huddling together in the few places without extreme weather.

An article in Salon from 6/17/2019 echoes my sentiments, although with greater political depth.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search  – WKAR

Koch Clout – Distraction, Bill, Executive Action

On March 3, 2017 the New York Times reported that Koch backed organizations were ready to pitch a fit if Congress did not act to repeal the ACA. Obviously they have a lot of practice with pitching this particular fit because they have done this at least 60 times already. They plan to pull out their old action plan of shrilly stalking Republican Congressional representatives until they stop stalling.

Quote:  Saying their patience is at an end, conservative activist groups backed by the billionaire Koch brothers and other powerful interests on the right are mobilizing to pressure Republicans to fulfill their promise to swiftly repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“We’ve been patient this year, but it is past time to act and to act decisively,” said Tim Phillips, the president of Americans for Prosperity, which is coordinating the push with other groups across the Kochs’ political network. “Our network has spent more money, more time and more years fighting Obamacare than anything else. And now with the finish line in sight, we cannot allow some folks to pull up and give up.”

The Koch groups are calling their campaign “You Promised,” and are prepared to spend heavily, they said.

“I think that the only way we get members of Congress to stay the course on this is with constituent pressure,” said Noah Wall, the national director of campaigns for FreedomWorks. If that does not work at first, he added, “I’m going to fill their offices with really angry constituents, and they’re going to listen.

“And if they don’t,” he continued, “I’m going to go back into their district and fill their district offices with angry constituents. And we’ll do this again and again.”

“Their rhetoric that has enabled them to stir up the far right is in collision with the truth,” said Thomas E. Perez, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

“Congressional Republicans have promised an Obamacare repeal in unequivocal terms,” Mr. Phillips said. “It’s time for them to keep their promise.”  Unquote

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/03/06/us/politics/republican-obamacare-replacement.html/

 

Koch Clout

Well apparently we go from Koch mouths to Congressional ears, another sign of the outsized role of money and wealthy people (these two wealthy brothers in particular) in our nation’s politics. There seems to be no way to get these two guys to stop buying every level of our government. So two days after the New York Times article telling Congress to get a move on, my evening news tells me that the 66 page bill detailing the Republican health care plan was released. Now that is what I call real clout, or is it fear? Who knew eight years ago that all we had to do to get Congress to vote the way we want is to threaten to “primary” them and have the cash to back up our threat. There is no way these GOP reps want to see their ferocious constituents begin their assaults on GOP Congressional elections again.

Two Actions Come Out Right Quick

Not only did the new health care bill come out (which will once and for all defund Planned Parenthood, and we all know the level of anxiety the continued existence of this friend of females has been engendering in the ranks of the GOP), but, on this same day, we heard the details of the new Immigration and Refugee executive action which is just like the old one except it excludes Iraq as a banned country and if doesn’t begin immediately, it does not ban people already vetted or people with green cards, and the “pause” will last for 120 days while the “extreme” vetting program is designed. I would like to see a graphic in two columns. One column would list what immigrants and refugees must do to be vetted now and the other will show what will be involved in this “extreme” vetting of which they speak. The number of refugees accepted in a year will also be capped at 50,000.

A Distraction is Created

Under the smoke screen of their “trumped-up” charges about the Obama wiretapping at Trump Towers. (Whoever wanted to say trump or Trump this many times?). This tactic of creating a smoke screen by creating a fake big scandal is designed to draw we the people’s eyes away as these two developments are almost simultaneously released. They think Democrats and allies will be so protective of Obama that we will not notice the human rights violations contained in these two bills (like a health bill which will once again rob some people of health care, i.e. women and low income folks, and an immigration executive action that is likely as un-Constitutional as the old one.)

It is all happening so fast because they know they need to hurry. Why? Because the Smoke Screener- in-Chief may go off the deep end at any moment, or they may have to finally admit that we got him already broken, or they will lose seats in Congress next time around if they back these two actions, or the resistance may win. In fact the health care bill, if passed, does not go into effect all at once, but is rather phased in with the most onerous parts not going into effect until after the 2020 election. It is all happening so fast that we may just have to move out into the streets and live there for a while with our chants and our signs.

If you want to read the text of the Health Care Bill here is a link”

https://housegop.leadpages.co/healthcare/

Back to the Kochs

Both the bill and the executive action channel the “Conservative Way” and they will both, eventually, be totally disastrous for we the people. Will we ever be able to put America back together again once the wealthy win so many of their battles? Will the middle class become poorer and poorer? Will the wealthy winners stick it to their “loyal” followers who have been bullying them a bit too much, as if they truly had any power except the power of numbers? Will they cut these folks loose and also kick them out of the middle class? Will our Democracy “live” through the long game assault of the Koch brothers?

Voldemort Squared

The other
night on Hardball with Chris
Matthews, Chris almost blamed two ‘someones’ for something. Then he changed his
mind and referred to them as “you know who”. I’m pretty sure that the “you know
who’s” are the Koch brothers and I also think that they have threatened to sue
the media if news people accuse the Koch’s of random acts of rip-off-ery (like
ruining the American environment and the air we breathe)  and election hijinks (like buying elections)
without concrete proof.
But it is
ironic that the Koch brothers have now become, collectively, “he who must not
be named”. Haven’t they read the Harry Potter books? Well, probably not. But
these things have been quoted again and again and have become part of American
culture, albeit imported from England (also ironic), so these phrases should be
on their radar. We all recognize that in the Harry Potter stories “he who must
not be named” is Voldemort, the most powerful wizard we loved to hate. Voldemort was also sometimes referred to as “you know who”.
This seems
like the perfect way to refer to these two brothers who refuse to stop grabbing
money from the use and production of fossil fuels while the world gets dirtier and
dirtier. We can’t help but see evil in their plot to take over America and
remake it into the country of their dreams, a country that big business can
plunder as it wishes.
Perhaps the
way Chris Matthews spoke about these two had no actual relationship to the way
I interpreted it, but I think the nomenclature is appropriate and we should
continue to use it to refer to these two guys who have no compunctions about
turning middle class workers into serfs and turning our Democracy into the
company store.
By Nancy Brisson

Ode to Koch Industries

Election time equals political ad time. It drives us crazy
but it’s the American way. The Koch brothers have a new ad in which their
employees pledge allegiance to Koch Industries. It is a poem, a corporate
anthem, and, as a base line, beneath it all, we hear – be nice to these wealthy
brothers, America, because of them some of us have jobs. There is an underlying
threat there, totally unstated, supplied by recent manufacturing history, about
how dangerous it can be to bite the hand that feeds you.
The video shows one lovely frame after another showing how
Koch Industries make our life better. Nowhere in the video is that dirty pile
of pet coke deposited as waste on the waterfront in Detroit. There is no
footage of the so finely-textured gritty pet coke blowing over the beleaguered
city of Detroit making the air gray and unbreathable. Koch Industries, in Mad Man-style
1950’s tradition, looks, in its video, like a middle-class friendly, apple-pie
America, we’re-your-rural-neighbor company.
But the Koch brothers are fighting to save their fossil
fuel industry. They are climate change deniers. They hope that alternative
energy sources prove to be a pipe dream and the pipe they dream of is the
Keystone pipeline. They do not have clean hands and they really care very
little about the American middle class except that they plan to cut our wages.
These two brothers are meddling in our Democracy by going
into red states and even purple states and spending millions to make sure that
Republicans win every office and have a majority in every political entity in
the state. They are sponsors of or the chief donors to many PAC’s and SuperPAC’s.
They actually are connected to ALEC, a group that writes legislation that
favors the interests of the Koch brothers and this legislation is often
introduced and approved in state legislatures without being revised in any
detail.
When the rules for campaign finance were too restrictive,
fortunately for the Kochs, we got Citizen’s United and McCutcheon approved by
the Supreme Court. Do we really think this is just a coincidence? Some states
still have restrictive election financing rules but the Kochs are organized to
get around them. They have the deepest pockets in America and can keep reaching
in, pulling out the money, applying it as needed, and reaching in for more.
If you are a Democrat this deluge of money is distressing
and disheartening. There is no way we can equal it. In any race which the Koch
brothers want the Republicans to win (and they want them to win them all) they
make sure a candidate is picked to run and that a blizzard of money and ads will
tilt that race towards the right. They even pursue this process in blue states
and they are successful often enough to make it a worthwhile strategy.
The Kochs do not just play their shiny new
blow-their-own-horn ad on Fox or other right wing media. I have been seeing
that Ode to Koch Industries during Meet
the Press
; I have seen it on MSNBC; I even saw it during the John Stewart show. Do you think any
of these shows are shows that the Koch brothers would back? I don’t. It’s all propaganda
plain and simple, meant to look like a pure American plain song by true blue
Americans who, against all odds, continue to conduct their business in America
and employ everyday Americans. (Yes, I really did mean to say America that many
times.)

These guys would run for the hills just like all our other
employers if it was in their best interests. I don’t like them subverting
Democracy and making our government and its offices commodities to be bought
and sold. No matter how many times you show that pretty video, I will see the
piles of pet coke blowing over Detroit because no one cared enough to put tarps
over the filthy stuff.
Here’s a link to the video in case you haven’t seen it:

By Nancy Brisson

The End of Democracy – The Koch Brothers

Did you watch Rachel Maddow last night? She followed
the bucks and the negative Health Care ads, appearing both nationally and in
some states, to two groups, the Foundation for Government Accountability
(sounds quite official and serious doesn’t it) and the State Policy Network
(which also sounds like it is part of actual government). Apparently neither of
these groups has any connection whatsoever to either our federal government or
the governments of our state. In spite of their ad hoc roots these two groups
are traveling around America serving as witnesses against the ACA in states
where there might be a bit of wiggle room, where a state may be considering
signing on to the expanded Medicaid that is part of the ACA (the part that gives
insurance to the uninsured). They post internet ads that suggest that signing
on to Obama’s health care act will get you in tax trouble. They have another
site which attempts to get the residents in the states where they operate to
sign a Grover- Norquist-style pledge that says they will never sign up for
health care.
Once the money trail was unraveled it led to those
billionaire Koch (pronounced coke) brothers who have more money than the rest
of Americans-who-are-not in-the-top-1% combined. These brothers who inherited
their money from the oil and chemical industry established by their Daddy are
solid backers and play-callers in the right wing of the Republican Party. They
have their fingers in just about every one of those “we-are-the-true-Patriots
pies”.
We have long suspected that our country is not
controlled by the American people. We have suspected that monied people (who
now include corporations, since corporations are people) call the tunes that
our elected “representatives” march to. From time to time proof of meddling has
been offered up to us by one party or another and we are temporarily shocked.
Then we shake it off and move on. But the machinations of these two brothers
seem to be similar to the tentacles of a jelly fish which has twined its way
throughout all aspects of our government. The right wing Conservatives don’t
just have lots of organizations working to make sure their policies become part
of American governance, but these organizations talk to each other. They are
not isolated entities. In fact most of them have, at the top, a few names of
very rich sponsors, and almost all of them have been traced to the Koch
brothers.
How can the average American fight a steamrolling,
bankrolling political machine like this? How can we counteract the influence of
wealthy power-brokers on our states and on our federal government?  If you add up all the issues that we the
people favor by over 50% (issues like immigration laws, gun control laws, laws
to raise the minimum wage and more), issues we favor actually by over 60%, and
then see how many of these issues are being taken care of by our Congress, you
can see how much power “we the people” actually wield. If anyone needs to “take
back our government” it is “we, the people”, but I guess you can see why we
feel terribly out-gunned (double meaning intended) and out-maneuvered and
out-classed (meaning out-spent, since class equals money in America). How on
earth can we root out this pernicious patch of weeds that has spread out like a
giant taproot under America? It all feels pretty hopeless. Obamacare is the
only thing we have apparently gotten past these people and they are mad (and
yes, mad is the correct word here); they want vengeance; they will do anything
to stop this law from becoming a successful part of the social safety net in
America. Obama did an end run around these secret manipulators, he mowed the
grass, and that is not allowed. One thing we can do, therefore, against these
rich polluters is support the Affordable Care Act; be patient about its
roll-out; sign up for it as soon as we get a chance. We could also repeat over
and over again how we want Congress to approve Obama’s court nominees. We can
insist that the minimum wage should be raised. I don’t know if we can have much
effect on immigration or gun control right now because these bills have very
entrenched enemies, but there are probably some other areas where we can be a
big, old, nasty, squeaky wheel. Can we win out over all this money? The outlook is
not good, but if we just lie down and play dead that may be the end of
Democracy.

The last graphic was drawn by Muckety and reproduced in the Daily Kos
This is the view from the cheap seats.
This blog post is also available at www.brissioni.com

Basically A Rant

 

The correct strategies for America are not always
the most selfish ones. It’s not all about us all the time. Sometimes we must
look at the big picture because everything is interconnected. Some string that
is pulled somewhere else can unravel or re-knit our future.

And, then there is the truth that, at this point in
time, the Republicans will not allow Obama to pass any new laws that improve
the economy, the infrastructure, or jobs. If we don’t elect Democrats in 2014
we have almost 3 long years to concentrate on foreign affairs. If we truly do
not want to get involved in any more wars, I would trust Obama much more than I
would trust the Republicans to admonish a dictator without getting us involved
in a foreign war. The only way the war in Syria can escalate and suck in the
world is if a powerful force like Russia joins in. If Putin is serious about
helping get rid of the chemical weapons in Syria, then he probably is not
interested in starting World War III. If we stay civil and Russia stays civil
then perhaps we can pull this off. Americans do not appear to be too fond of
civility right now, sad to say. Instead all the little voices fall in line
echoing the charge that Obama is a weak President. I repeat; if Obama can end
the use of chemical weapons in Syria without starting a new war, then he is
anything but weak.

If there is anything this President does that is
weak it is to give Republicans another opening to tout his weakness and force
him to bargain when these Republicans know all along that they will say “no” to
him again and again and again. This does not make Obama seem weak to me. It
makes him seem like a President who respects the Constitution and who tries to
give Republicans every opportunity to cut out the partisan politics and do
their jobs as outlined in that very Constitution that describes how our
government is supposed to work. Nowhere in the Constitution I read does it say
that people outside the government should be promised a stronger allegiance
than is given to a fair consideration of the laws that build a stronger
America.

Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Grover Norquist and the
Koch brothers should be like the rest of us. They are citizens with one vote
each. But they have found ways to pull the strings of large numbers of
Americans turning them into disenchanted citizens and puppet voters who repeat,
like mantras, arguments drummed into them by skillful pundits. These pundits
know the fears some Americans hold in their hearts and minds and they stoke the
fires lit under these fears, bank the coals, and then stoke them again. They
have fostered a bunch of conspiracy junkies and they will ruin America if we
let them. These pundits have been primed to serve the interests of Grover
Norquist, the Koch brothers, the Tea Party and whatever other shadowy figures
are in the Conservative Cabal.

So we have plenty of time to take the big view, the
long view, while we wait for America to wake up and throw off the strings of
the mind controllers who have taken over the GOP.

What would we like to see happen in the Middle East?
Perhaps we would like to see strong, healthy Middle Eastern countries where
government and religion are separate. Perhaps people in the Middle East will
chose peaceful coexistence and tolerance over hate and aggression; these
nations’ peoples will find a balance that will allow the citizens to live
stable and productive lives in which there is no dictator holding on to all of
the nations’ wealth. What can we do to encourage this? Wouldn’t such an outcome
have a profoundly positive effect on us and the world? Playing a bit of referee
doesn’t seem too much to ask from the rest of the world community. After all we
have plenty of time right now to keep an eye on the violations of war behavior
which result in the horrors of genocide. If we allow these practices we will
never achieve that real peace, tolerance, and prosperity we wish for the Middle
East and the world.

If you want Obama to accomplish our goals for our
domestic future then you had better raise your voice and tell Republicans to
stop obstructionism in Congress, to stop encouraging red states to pass laws
that challenge the current laws in America, and to stop brainwashing and
scaring gullible Americans. We need to elect Democrats in 2014.

This is the view from the cheap seats.

 

This blog post is also available at www.brissioni.com