Why don’t Republicans know what American values, history and culture are?

Looking back at historic events and people involved, putting it in context and attempting to evaluate those people and events with modern understanding is history. That is literally what history is and what historians do.

Statues aren’t history. The story of why those statues are there, what they meant for the people who put them there, why those people were chosen; that’s history. This is why every attempt to revive the symbols of the confederacy is an attempt to rewrite history. Taking down the statues and putting them in museums isn’t erasing history. It is history.

Insisting that you can not criticize some historical figures, reevaluate their contributions, discuss negative things about them in the light of modern understanding isn’t protecting history. It is literal political correctness and it harms our values, history and culture.

More importantly, no one taking away American values, history, and culture because those statues do not represent America. They represent Confederate culture and Confederate values. That Republicans do not understand this is both shocking and not at all surprising.

I honestly do not know what is wrong with the Republicans anymore. I keep hearing “they aren’t being taught what I was!” yeah, no shit. We know more now. Having you kids taught exactly what you were taught assumes we haven’t learned anything. Having your kids taught something new means you did your job.

Actual historians have looked over events and historical figures with new eyes and with new understanding and now we know more. When Johnny Boomer was in school in 1960, it is very likely that all of his text books were written by people who simply never questioned the idea of white christian male rule as an immutable fact of life. When I was in school it was likely that all my text books were written by people who never considered LGBT rights leading to marriage equality.

So it would be irresponsible to teach kids about the founders without discussing slavery. And it would be irresponsible to exclude the existence of the LGBT community. It would be irresponsible to ignore the work that went into documenting structural racism. We no longer teach kids to use typewriters, slide rules and manual spreadsheets using ledger paper anymore either. Times change and it would be disservice to teach kids the 1960 Johnny Boomer curriculum for the sake of Republican feelings.

Louie Gohmert invoked The Air Bud Rule

While the House Judiciary Committee was conducting official business the Republican Party objected to on entirely political grounds, meaning that the investigation would uncover republican criminality and corruption they wish to leave covered, one representative, Louie Gohmert decided that he would disrupt the hearing by making noise. When confronted about this, he stated “Then there’s no rules about when you can make noise

https://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2020/06/24/louie-gohmert-bangs-table-judiciary-hearing-vpx.cnn

So what does this have to do with Air Bud? Oddly enough, I think you can understand a lot about the GOP by watching Air Bud.

If you’ve never seen it, Air Bud is a 1997 Disney Movie about a dog named Buddy who can play basketball. And as Disney plot mechanics demand, Buddy is a truly good boy when it comes to playing basketball. The conceit is that Buddy gets to play and win an important championship game because there is technically no rule about dogs playing basketball.

While that is certainly true, there is no reason to think that Springfield Massachusetts’ Dr. Naismith had intended that his game would include canine athletes when he invented the game in 1891.

Let’s get back to Louie Gohmert. While it is true that there may not be an explicit rule about making noise by taping a microphone, there is also no reason to think the founders had intended that disruption of the procedure would be the way to object to a witness going long a few minutes long in his testimony to congress.

In the same vein, there was no rule about a standing filibuster. No rule about having multiple Benghazi investigations after the first failed to uncover criminality. No rule about having an impeachment without witnesses. And so on. Sure, there are norms about these things but not explicit rules. And like in Air Bud, there is no reason to think the founders intended the legislature would work this way.

John DiIulio called them Mayberry Machiavelli in 2002, telling Ron Suskind

What you’ve got is everything—and I mean everything—being run by the political arm. It’s the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis.

In 2012’s Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann described the issue in It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the Politics of Extremism describing

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.

While Louie Gohmert is most certainly an idiot, it would be wrong to dismiss this as just idiocy. Louie Gohmert didn’t even bother to ask the witness any questions because Gohmert wasn’t thinking about the witness. When you look at Air Bud as being a deliberate norm destruction tactic because they are focused on GOP losses in November and other electoral objectives, this makes sense.

Some people only know one amendment and they don’t understand consequences.

I think everyone knows that guy. The one says he needs all those guns because he must defend liberty. And while I support an individual right to bare arms, I never actually think that liberty is the reason why that guy wants those guns. I’ve been to gun shows. I’ve fired long guns. I can tell the the difference the major types of firearms. I’ve seen the gun culture props they sell at gun shows.

Those guys have been busy talking about Antifa. And BLM. And arguing that the protests justify their arguments about guns. They need them to protect themselves from BLM and Antifa. Did you see the riots? The vandalism? All the looting?

So I have a whole list questions for those second amendment defenders who spend all that time bragging about how willing they are to use arms to defend themselves and thier liberty from government tyranny.

If there is any looting, vandalism or arson will you and your side obey curfews and allow the police to restore order before continuing?

If looting, vandalism and arson occurring during your gallant defense of liberty, does that invalidate it?

Will innocent civilians be killed in your defense of liberty? Will uniformed police, national guard or US military be killed in your defense of liberty?

Why do I see so many fake liberal hunting licenses but I never see any tyrannical government agent hunting licenses? How is this related to defending your liberty from government tyranny.

Why do I see so many symbols of vigilantes combined with symbols of support for law enforcement? Do you guys know the difference between vigilantes and law enforcement?

So…. Will your defense of liberty be free of looting, vandalism and arson? Will civilians be killed? Will the police be shot at? What side do you expect the police to be on? Would it be free of grievance killing of political opponents? Would there be a difference between vigilantes and law enforcement? Explain it to me. Own it.

What I always conclude is they want those guns because they want to shoot at and kill political opponents, which I usually assume means liberals, activists, people who call them racists for flying a racist flag; and not the police which they assume will be on their side and empower them to kill. And they assume the they will get away with blaming the looting and vandalism on the other side.

So go ahead and shoot deer. But don’t lie to me at tell me it’s about liberty.

Thrilling Tales of Chickenshit Conservatism: BLM Edition

When someone claims to support the policing reforms being won by the BLM protests but insists they can not support BLM because they prefer ‘all lives matter’ they are engaging in a disingenuous tactic I call Chickenshit Conservatism, taking a cue from the Dead Kennedy’s song Chickenshit Conformist.

I consider Chickenshit Conservatism to be a special case of what is commonly called bothsiderism. When used correctly, it’s a bad faith tactic for turning an indefensible position into an unquestionable status quo. This seems to be increasingly common on Facebook where racists, fascists and swamp dwellers want to spread a message even of just letting bad things happen to other people, even when that position is unpopular.

Step one: Agree to the liberal position or positions of your interlocutor. Start off by saying you agree that racism is bad. That police brutality is bad. They have no place in our society. You may be doing this because you agree or because you don’t think the status quo is actually racist. But you can just as easily do it because you don’t mind the racism but know it is indefensible.

Step two: Recite the litany of Clinton and Obama failings. And this is why this is such an effective strategy-the Democratic party doesn’t have a great record on policing, and have some responsibility for the awful policies on mandatory minimums, the war on drugs, mass incarceration etc, so they have a point. That’s all mostly true. By reciting the litany you can build the empathy those of us on the left crave and make totally sensible claims.

Step three: Ignore, dismiss or grossly misrepresent all attempts at reform while defending the counterargument with unsourced or just made up factoids.

They might say “Defund the police? But when happens if I call 911?” You can calmly point out that no one is actually talking about defunding down to zero dollars. Of course there will still be armed police officers. “But crime is going up!” they counter. You calmly cite figures showing that crime is in fact going down. Why aren’t they doing something about the looting? Well, that’s what the police should be doing, isn’t it?

What’s happening here is sometimes called sealioning and this can be exhausting. They will keep asking questions and citing reasons why they can’t support any change while ignoring anything you say in response. The big point here is that they will never actually defend the conservative position nor the status quo. They might appeal to bipartisanship but then ignore that only one party has interest in fixing anything. Don’t think you can ever satisfy their criteria for change. They aren’t looking for solutions, they want permission to support a position they know is indefensible in polite company. They want a clear conscience while they look the other way.

The closer: Insist that the status quo will get better if we are all just had more patience. Give it time.

At some point you just get fed up and your interlocutor either walks away or they walk away with some half-ass comment about the alternatives not being viable and we should just wait and see. This is the tell. Just as many people are being hurt by looting. No one is being helped by the rioting. Things will just get better.

There seem to be three ways to handle this

  1. Call it out. Say “I don’t actually think you want to consider alternatives, I really think you’re looking for an excuse to support the status quo.” and then walk away.
  2. Use judo. “Can you tell me what policies or changes you would support and why?” “Oh, you haven’t seen any or thought about any? well what news sources do you read?” “Oh, you haven’t read much news? Well what sources do you normally trust?” and keep going. What you want is to get them into some self reflection.
  3. Confront their lack of skin in the game. What if you are wrong? Who is hurt if you are wrong? Get them to admit they aren’t actually effected by the problem they are willing to stand by and ignore.

And stay tuned for more tales of chickenshit conservatism.

TrumpGate: Trump pardoned the man who unmasked Valerie Plame because he doesn’t actually care about national security.

Libby, Cheney’s former chief of staff, was convicted in 2007 of lying to investigators and obstruction of justice following the 2003 leak of the covert identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame, though no one was ever charged for the leak. President George W. Bush later commuted Libby’s 30-month prison sentence but didn’t issue a pardon despite intense pressure from Cheney.In a statement, Libby thanked Trump, saying his family has “suffered under the weight of a terrible injustice.” He said Trump “recognized this wrong and would not let it persist. For this honorable act, we shall forever be grateful.”

Source: Trump pardons Scooter Libby, says he was ‘treated unfairly’ 

https://apnews.com/46e832e8e7874372b3a92f2f9b0b9cfd/Trump-pardons-Scooter-Libby,-says-he-was-‘treated-unfairly’

In order to take the ObamaGate nonsenses seriously you have to accept that the president that led chants of lock her up is concerned about rule of law, that the president that insisted that he has the obligation to personally call for investigations on individuals of his choosing is worried about the corruption of the justice system, that the president that asserted that he can use state power to help his reelection if he thinks its in the national interest is now concerned about the corruption of the political process, that the president that asserted he has absolute authority is concerned that Obama overstepped his authority, that that the president that asked Comey for special treatment for Flynn is worried that Comey was not acting ethically in the case of Flynn. 
Alternatively you can recognize that Republicans have the long term memory of sleep deprived stoner goldfish and simply do not remember anything that happened a few days ago. The whole Valerie Plame affair may as well have happened during the Peloponnesian War. Scooter? Who’s he?
If you’ve been keeping track this is now the fifth attempt to investigate the prior administration to find all this awful wrong doing they just know happened. Do you remember the election commission that found all those cases of Democratic voter fraud? How can anyone forget the dramatic footage of the Soros busses filled with MS13 members wearing matching Hillary shirts? The Uranium One case. Wow, Hillary got over a million years of jail time for that once they found all that uranium. Then there was investigation of IRS abuses under Obama. Over seven trillion deep state members sent to GITMO over that. Then the Biden investigation. Looks like Hunter Biden is getting a billion years of jail time for being responsible for all the crime that happened in the Ukraine in 2012 to 2016, all of it completely and fully documented on the physical server hidden by Crowd strike at the bottom of a deep ravine outside just outside of Odessa Ukraine. 
We’ve been through this again and again. None of this ever turns into a case. This was propaganda sent over twitter to the easily fooled and the proudly disingenuous who entertain this nonsense because it fits the Fox News narrative.

COVID-9-11

If the president is going to compare COVID-19 to the 9/11 attack then I would like to propose that we start counting all mass deaths in units of 2,977. The one good thing about this idiotic metric is that’s since this is how many people died on 9/11 and 9/11 is one thing the American people can all agree was a national tragedy worthy of collective action it seems perfectly safe to assume that any event with a 9/11 sized body count should be taken just as seriously.

So let’s look at some other major tragic loses of life:

TragedyDeathsIn 911’s
Afghanistan24400.82
Hurricane Maria30571.03
Iraq44241.49
Covid-19 (May 1st 2020)7434724.97

Using this handy chart (I got the numbers from the google knowledge panels) we can see that Afghanistan, Iraq and Hurricane Maria are all in the same order of magnitude as 9/11 while COVID-19 is in the order of a month of Hurricanes or a century of war.

Hurricane Maria isn’t there by mistake. I will loop back to it a the end.

Think of what we were asked to do to prevent another 9/11 and how little we are being asked to do to prevent the deaths of our families and friends now. We were asked to endure security theater at the airports. The USA PATRIOT Act. To rally behind an idiot president and pretend he wasn’t exploiting a tragedy. DHS. The creation of ICE. These are all things we as a nation did. Gladly. We sacrificed blood and treasure. Our sons and daughters lost lives and limbs.

As a nation weren’t asked to do anything on the scale of 9/11 for Katrina or Maria despite tragic deaths on the same scale as 9/11. No national commitment to rebuild and restore. There were no national movements to lessen the harm from future storms. No calls to sacrifice to make us all whole again. Nothing even close to the 9/11 scale at all. And why? Why is it so easy to call on Americans to support destroying another totally unrelated nation and so hard to call on Americans to save lives of fellow Americans right here at home?

Benghazi is dwarfed by the other tragedies, why did it get so much more attention than Katrina did? It’s almost as if the republican party is willing to exploit national security for its partisan policy goals.

After 9/11 we were willing to join together, to act decisively, as we were reminded non stop for years following. What is happing now is nearly a month of 9/11s. We should be treating this far more seriously and the call for action should be far greater. We should not be finding a way to “9-11” the COVID response into a an excuse to exploit national security concerns for partisan policy goals, which is what this administration is doing in comparing COVID to 9/11. We should be looking to treat all tragedies seriously, learn from out mistakes and prevent future tragedies as best we can.

That the republicans are more focused on exploiting tragedy than learning from it should be a bigger story.

Trump always puts Trump first, not America, and this will never change.

Trump saying he should not talk to them if they don’t “treat you right.

Anyone who has been following Trump the past few years might still be shocked by this but I am not. To quote Adam Serwer in the Atlantic:

There are not many Trump scandals. There is one Trump scandal. Singular: the corruption of the American government by the president and his associates, who are using their official power for personal and financial gain rather than for the welfare of the American people, and their attempts to shield that corruption from political consequences, public scrutiny, or legal accountability.

I call this the Single Scandal Theory. This is just the most recent instance of the scandal. This is exactly the same as the attempted shakedown of Ukraine he was impeached for. This is exactly how he plans on running the post COVID-19 stimulus.  It’s all the same, it never changes.

From Trump admits telling Pence not to call governors – CNN Video

https://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2020/03/27/trump-pence-governors-call-coronavirus-sot-vpx.cnn

I think I know why 70% of Republicans want Bolton to testify.

The gap between GOP voters who want John Bolton to testify (70%) and GOP senators who want witnesses (somewhere between zero and 4/51) can be completely explained once you consider that GOP voters think Trump is innocent because they believe the Fox news version of events and GOP senators know he is guilty because they actually know the actual truth.

This also explains why right wing media has turned on Bolton.

“New poll says 82% of all Americans want John Bolton to testify for Trump’s removal trial, including 70% of Republicans,” Scott Dworkin, co-founder of the Democratic Coalition, tweeted Wednesday morning, using the trending hashtag. “So the GOP Senators have a choice to make. They can side with the American people, or they can be traitors for life and side with Trump.”

From Newsweek  #WeWantWitnesses Trends After Report That Mitch McConnell Doesn’t Have The Votes To Block Witnesses In Trump Impeachment Trial

Never Trump Jurassic Park

I find myself warning my liberal friends about Never Trumpers too often. I am imagining myself as a tour guide at a Jurassic Park themed Sunday talk show, calmly warning my liberal friends to keep a safe distance from those Never Trump Raptors knowing damn well my liberal friends are being fooled by the Raptors feigned timidity just enough that we are all in danger of being eaten by those same Raptors when we least expect it. That will be during the next mid term, we have all seen this movie before.

We all want to believe that there is some common ground that supersedes the GOP desire to run up the deficit and gut social security and medicare. We have all convinced ourselves that there was common ground not that long ago. But we should never fool ourselves into thinking that the Never Trump Republicans represent a way forward to a return to common ground. This just isn’t the situation we find ourselves in today.

Case in point:

Chomp chomp chomp. See what Raptor Evans is doing? He’s trying to divide someone from the pack before going for the throat.

False equivalency aside, I don’t particularly dislike Evan. My biggest issue with him is his complete shock and dismay that his party would jeopardize national security for political gain. Well, Evan, a quick look at your bio shows that you were in the CIA in 2003. That is the same year Valerie Plame’s career in intelligence was destroyed to settle a grudge with Ambassador Joseph Wilson after he exposed George W Bush’s lie about Yellowcake Uranium from Niger during the build up to W’s disastrous Iraq war. All of this happened when Even was serving his country in the CIA. Did he not notice that his party jeopardized national security for the sake of political gain while he worked on behalf of out national security? No one talked about this around the CIA water cooler?

Every single Never Trump Republican, minus a few here and there who were too young; were part of the Bush years. They saw the exact same culture of lies, of foreign policy disasters. They all saw an aircraft carrier turned into a backdrop for a campaign commercial. The torture memo. This simply can not be stressed enough: they were all totally ok with it.

This gets me to the bigger point here. As much as Evan might dislike Trump, there is no reason to think Evan or any other never Trump would be happy with any Democratic candidate. As soon as a Democrat is in the Whitehouse, those Raptors are going to be much less timid. They’re all going to discover the deficit went up. They’re going to decide that we need a grand bargain. Do you think they’re going to be in any way open to the idea or working with Bernie or Warren or anyone on improving services? Or bringing the troops home? Or doing anything that would help a Democrat win a second term?

When looking at a never Trumper, always ask yourself “What side of the containment gate are they?”

David Brook’s Stupid Opinion in The New York Times

Is David Brooks suggesting we hold random twitter commenters, late night hosts and salad bar denizens to the same high standard that we hold the president? Or did he just rush to meet the deadline and come up with the most lavy BOTH SIDES argument ever?

Democratic leadership in the House have actually had really intelligent conversations about Iran. Left leaning media has done that as well. Even the mainstream media is doing a reasonable job. You paper is doing a good job. The facts and analysis are out there.

Is he imagining some rouges gallery echo chamber the rest of can’t see?

But the events of the past week have shown that the anti-Trump echo chamber is becoming a mirror image of Trump himself — overwrought, uncalibrated and incapable of having an intelligent conversation about any complex policy problem.

Source: Opinion | Trump Has Made Us All Stupid – The New York Times