Tag Archives: conservatism

Payback time! Will Trump and conservatives crush their foes?

Summary: Op-eds about the Trump administration discuss people and policy, as if Washington were run by Vulcans. They seldom mention the desires for revenge and to crush their foes. What role will these motives play in the actions of Team Trump? Much of the Left’s hysteria is fear that he will to do treat them like they’ve treated the Right. But the situation is more complex than it looks.

This might become conservative’s theme song for the Trump years.

Payback band's official logo

“Many great ones through the ages
have attained to earthly power.
Yet they all but had their hour,
…Still the mill wheel turns, it turns forever,
though what is uppermost remains not so.
The water underneath in vain endeavor
does the work but always stays below.

— From Bertolt Brecht’s “Ballad of the Mill Wheel”. See this book of his work.

For decades liberals have maintained the moral high ground due to their hold on key institutions in academic and government. They deployed this power to delegitimize conservatives, calling them deniers, racists, anti-Semitic, and sexists — often with little or no factual basis. It worked well for years, but even the sharpest sword dulls with overuse. Liberals unleashed fifteen months of invective on Trump, a hate bombardment with few precedents in US history. It failed.

Now the wheel turns, as Trump brings new players to Washington who don’t respect the game as it has evolved since the 1960’s. Now comes the opportunity for the GOP to get payback. Much of the Left’s hysteria about Trump comes from their fear that he will do to them what they’ve done to conservatives during the past few decades. But the situation is more complex than it looks.

First, there is an element of revenge. The GOP Congress could defund the climate scientists who attacked and mocked them (leaving untouched the immediately valuable weather forecasters). Congress and the President could investigate Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation as persistently and irrationally as they did the Benghazi Benghazi BENGHAZI incident. Congress and the President could uproot the social justice warriors in the Federal bureaucracy, ending their crusades (e.g., against the fake “campus rape culture”). This could be a long list.

Second, striking back at foes is sound political strategy. Game theory shows that Tit for Tat is among the most effective strategies in situations like politics. Gandhi and Jesus provide wonderful ideals, but it is not necessarily survivable advice for the life in Washington.

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The GOP convention has done its job. Here are some highlights.

Summary: The Republican convention has served us well by showing us what we will get if we pull the level for GOP candidates on November 8. Here are some of the highlights.

Republican National Convention 2016 Logo

(1) GOP plans to build a New America

50 Shockingly Extreme Right-Wing Proposals in the 2016 Republican Party Platform” by Steven Rosenfeld / AlterNet, 18 July 2016 — “What Trump, a GOP Congress and GOP-appointed Supreme Court would do to America.” A cornucopia for corporations and the 1%; a horror show for the rest of us. Here is the full platform.

  • Tax cuts for the rich. Cut government salaries and benefits.
  • Dramatically increase Pentagon budget. Cancel Iran nuclear treaty and expand nuclear arsenal.
  • Deregulate the banks. Stop consumer protection. Start repealing environmental laws. Start shrinking unions and union labor. No change in federal minimum wage. Give internet service providers monopolies. Privatize government services to “fight poverty”. Replace traditional public schools with privatized options. Privatize student loans instead of lowering interest rates.
  • Appoint anti-choice, anti-LGBT, and anti-Obamacare justices. Make Christianity a national religion. Loosen gun controls nationwide. Pass an anti-choice constitutional amendment. Allow states to shut down abortion Clinics. Oppose stem cell scientific research. Replace sex education with abstinence-only approaches.
  • Loosen campaign finance loopholes and dark money. Repeal Obamacare. Privatize Medicare. Turn Medicaid, the poor’s health plan, over to states. No increasing Social Security benefits by taxing the rich. …

(2) Trump plans a purge if he wins

Governor Christie, who leads Trump’s transition team, told dozens of donors at the GOP convention that they were drawing up a list of federal government employees appointed by Obama to fire if Trump wins. Christie also said that “One of the things I have suggested to Donald is that we have to immediately ask the Republican Congress to change the civil service laws. Because if they do, it will make it a lot easier to fire those people”. Reuters reported this on the basis of a recording and accounts from two attendees.

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The Right struggles to understand Trump and populism

Summary: With victory at the GOP convention appearing more certain every day, the Right struggles to understand the resurgence of populism, so long suppressed. Here are two essays showing how they’re doing so far — by a neocon and conservative. Both remind us that populism is a political movement distinct from conservatism, and need not ally with it (the populist-progressive alliance created the New Deal). Tomorrow’s post looks at similar analysis from the Left. The new coalitions now forming will shape US politics for a generation.

“Equal Rights for All, Special Privileges for None.”
— 1828 Slogan of Andrew Jackson’s populists. Still revolutionary. Works even better today, after slavery.



  1. Typical establishment denunciations of Trump: he is a “monster”.
  2. The GOP must reinvent itself to survive the populist revolt.
  3. Conclusions.
  4. Other posts about Trump & the new populism.
  5. For More Information.

(1) Typical establishment denunciations of Trump as “monster”

Trump is the GOP’s Frankenstein monster.
Now he’s strong enough to destroy the party.

By Robert Kagan (Brookings Inst), WaPo op-ed, 25 Feb 2016.

This sad op-ed shows that people in these establishment’s institutions still believe they are taste-setters and opinion-makers for the US public, and that many listen to their discredited voices. Here Kagan sings a largely content-free song to encourage people to follow their betters. Kagan gives vivid imagery and exaggerations rather than discussion of Trump’s actual policies (lest people realize how popular many of them are).

Kagan describes himself as a “liberal interventionist“; he’s one of the architects of our disastrous “interventions” since 9/11. Of course he opposes populists and their skepticism of overseas military adventures. Does his support gain more votes for Trump on the Right than the votes it loses for Hillary on the Left?

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The Donald Trump revolution, dismissed as all revolts are in the beginning

Summary: Donald Trump’s assumption of leadership of the right wing of American politics, and perhaps of the Republican Party, marks a milestone in our history. Even if he burns out, we see in him the outlines of a greater leader to follow. Meanwhile the machinery of Republic lies unused, as we tell ourselves there is no difference between the parties and that reform is impossible.

Donald Trump

NBC Photo, by Chris Haston.

“Sooner or later, everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences.”
— Attributed to Robert Louis Stevenson.


The rise of Donald Trump to a leading position in the Republican Party marks a milestone in the evolution of modern America.

Conservatives have worked for generation to create a body of people ignorant of our history, of economics, and of current events. They’ve created a faux version of economics and a faux version of history (buttressed with hundreds of fake quotes). They have incited fake fears about threatening “others”, foreign and domestic — and the almost certainly coming crash of the US dollar and bankruptcy of the US government.

Perhaps these people have found a leader in Donald Trump — an ignorant, prejudiced and boorish figure even by the lax standards of American politics. He makes previous political outsiders look like George Washington (e.g., Ralph Nader, Ross PerotJessie Ventura, Arnold Schwarzenegger). America has a tradition of populist leaders, such as Huey Long and William Jennings Bryan, but Trump is like them as chalk is to cheese.

Assessing the Trump phenomenon

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For 50 years Republicans have fought against treaties that brought peace

Summary:  To understand the dynamics and stakes of the Iran deal we should look at our past, rather than conservatives’ confident warnings about the future. The peace we’ve enjoyed for decades results in part from 50+ years of arms control treaties — all strenuously fought by the Right. We can learn much from their false predictions, as they’re repeated today about Iran.

Atomic bomb explosion


  1. Unceasing war.
  2. Clinton takes a turn.
  3. Obama negotiates a New START.
  4. Reagan the peacemaker.
  5. Conclusions.
  6. For More Information.

(1)  Unceasing war

The far-right’s grand strategy since WWII has been one of unceasing war and rigid opposition to all arms control treaties (we are always in 1938 Munich; are foes are always NAZI Germany). We see that in their opposition to a deal with Iran (where the likely alternative is war), just as we saw in their support for the continued above ground nuclear testing that was blanketing the world with radioactive fallout. Even after a full-court press by Kennedy, 19 Senators voted in 1963 against the first Nuclear Test Ban Treaty JFK negotiated in 1963. Fortunately saner people prevailed.

To get an idea of the results if the conservatives had won, read the National Institute of Health’s pages about exposure to radioactive Iodine-131 from fallout. These debates would play out repeatedly during the next 6 decades, but not always with a happy ending.

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Who believes that the Federal government seeks to take over Texas?

Summary:  The Jade Helm military exercise has sparked an urban legend. Polls showing who believes fringe theories act as x-rays illuminating the American polity. Some of the results are expected if alarming. Some are unexpected and hence even more valuable.  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

Jade Helm


  1. A funny question.
  2. Answer by ideology.
  3. The Evangelicals speak.
  4. The Tea Party speaks.
  5. Answers by age.
  6. Answers by gender.
  7. Answers by preferred candidate.
  8. Conclusions.
  9. For More Information.

(1)  A funny question

The multi-state military exercise known as Jade Helm has aroused an unusually strong reaction among elements of the public. For details see the Wikipedia entry, the Snopes page, and the Washington Post story. These went ballistic when Governor Greg Abbott directed the Texas State Guard to monitor it “to ensure that Texans’ safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed during the eight-week training period …”

In response Public Policy Polling® creatively asked an interesting question in a survey done last week. The results are amazing, and become more so when examined more closely.

Public Policy Polling, May 2014

(2) Answer by ideology

A breakdown of the answers by ideology gives a more interesting perspective. This weird theory has believers on both extremes, another example of commonality of thinking among the far Left and Right. The political spectrum is a circle, not a line.

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What do we learn from conservatives’ fake quotes?

Summary:  Today both Left and Right in America are dysfunctional, but they are neither equivalent nor equal in power. Today we look at the Right’s revealing love of fake quotes. {2nd of 2 posts today}

“Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it.”
Jonathan Swift, The Examiner (1710).

Obama: "American brought down"

An exceptionally dumb fake, but popular.



One astonishing aspect of today’s America is our credulity, our willingness to believe whatever matches our tribal prejudices — without the slightest evidence, no matter how improbable.

The bogus obsessions of the Right highlight this — Obama was not born in the USA, Obama is Muslim, and Benghazi Benghazi BENGHAZI!  But a more common mode of propaganda is the fake quote, preferably with a nice picture attached. These memes are launched daily, spread by gullible conservatives by email and social media.

It makes these people easy to manipulate (lousy citizens, but good followers). The Right talks big about responsibility, but apparently it does not apply when passing on information — no matter how slanderous. Or, as you’ll see from many of these quotes, idiotic.

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