Tag Archives: right-wing

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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Stratfor looks at the growing monster of Russian ultra-nationalism

Summary: Far right movements are on the march again. In the US, Europe, and Russia. Here Stratfor looks at the disturbing political developments in the one-time superpower as it copes with rapid social change, their lost status as a superpower, and the economic stress from the collapse in oil prices.

Stratfor

Russian Ultra-Nationalism: A Monster of Moscow’s Making
Stratfor, 4 November 2016.

Forecast

  • The rise of Russia’s far right will undermine the Kremlin’s attempts to overcome the country’s deepening ethnic, class and religious divides.
  • The ultra-conservative movement will continue only to grow, thanks to its media influence and militant youth groups.
  • Moscow will work to curb the forces it has long supported in an effort to ensure that they do not challenge the Kremlin’s writ.

Analysis

Since taking power some 16 years ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin has worked tirelessly to bring about the return of conservative and nationalist values. His government has enthusiastically promoted the Russian Orthodox Church, depicting its patriarchs as the state’s moral compass. After suffering a period of neglect under the Soviet Union, over 25,000 churches and 800 monasteries have been built or refurbished during Putin’s reign. Meanwhile, the Kremlin has also launched a series of youth programs, the largest being Nashi, that teach conservative courses on politics, foreign policy and family values. Finally, after consolidating strategic economic sectors under its control, the government has presented itself as the people’s savior from the liberal, decadent oligarchs who once controlled the country’s resources.

By stoking these long-dormant sentiments, Putin has managed to shore up his power base and create a moral mandate for Moscow’s domestic and foreign policy. Whereas the West could once accuse the Soviet Union of being a “godless nation,” the Russian Federation can now claim to have God on its side. This thinking has undergirded several of the Kremlin’s actions at home and abroad, including the passage of laws restricting homosexuality and pornography and the launch of interventions into Ukraine and Syria. But Putin’s ideological strategy has its drawbacks. Inflaming far-right extremism has given rise to ideologues who want to push the Kremlin further than it is willing to go. And, when the Kremlin balks at their demands, they are no longer shy about voicing their discontent.

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“California lets illegals vote!” A typical story from the Right’s misinformation machine.

Summary: The Right-wing misinformation machine is both effective and profitable. However implausible its products, they meet the need of conservatives. Here is a typical example — the exciting news that California has made it easier for illegals to vote!

GOP sunrise

GOP sunrise, from “Right Truth” website.

 

Which side lies the most, Left or Right? I would like to know. But I believe the Right makes more money doing so from their high-traffic and often professional news services and websites. They produce a stream of fact, exaggerations, misinformation, and outright falsehoods. These keep the people on the right excited, generating clicks. And clicks are money. Here is an example of how they work.

On 11 October 2015 California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB60. Conservatives went into a frenzy. “Jerry Brown Signs Bill That Could Let Illegal Aliens Vote” by William Bigelow at Breitbart. Fox News ran a series of shows (It will “Provide Shelter For Illegals To Vote”). Their analyst Andrew Napolitano (retired NJ judge):  “if you are an illegal alien in California, get a driver’s license, register to vote, you can vote in local, state, and federal elections in California and those votes count” (video here).

The far-right websites went hysterical. “Illegals in California Could Decide Election” by Brendan Kirby at Lifezette. “California Allows Non-Citizens to Vote, Which is Illegal, So Every California Vote should be Disqualified” at Eagle Rising. Google shows scores, perhaps hundreds, of these.

This is, of course, bogus. It’s astonishing that anyone believes it. But probably millions of Americans do, conditioned by years of conservative “news” to believe implausible things. The bill states that a driver licenses of an illegal “does not establish eligibility for employment, voter registration, or public benefits.'” See for yourself.

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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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Populism arises amidst American workers abandoned by both Left & Right

Summary: Populism has arisen from the lower middle class, Americans abandoned not just by the Right (owned by the 1%) but the Left as well. Populists are the swing vote in modern elections. Who they choose to ally with might create a coalition that rules for another generation. It was the Left in the New Deal. And now? Either way, populism will last beyond Campaign 2016.

Fork in the road

Decline of the middle class in America

This report by Gallup shows the fracturing of the middle class, as they are slowly ground down. We’re near the historic moment when more Americans identify as “working and lower class” than “middle class” — a milestone in the Right’s long project to reverse the New Deal. This shows the force powering the political fires now ignited. We’re just discussing what form it will take.

Americans are considerably less likely now than they were in 2008 and years prior to identify themselves as middle class or upper-middle class, while the percentage putting themselves in the working or lower class has risen. Currently, 51% of Americans say they are middle class or upper-middle class, while 48% say they are lower class or working class. In multiple surveys conducted from 2000 through 2008, an average of more than 60% of Americans identified as middle or upper-middle class.

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Garry Wills explains The Triumph of the Hard Right

Summary: As America drifts into control by the Right through the “bottoms up” movement the Left has so longed dreamed of, many of our brightest minds describe with clarity and urgency what is happened. Such as in this review by Garry Wills of a powerful new book by E. J. Dionne. Whatever happens, we cannot say we were not warned.

“Every nation has the government it deserves.”
— Joseph de Maistre (lawyer, diplomat, philosopher), Letter #76 dated 13 August 1811, published in Lettres et Opuscules.

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

The Triumph of the Hard Right

By Garry Wills

New York Review of Books, 11 February 2016
Posted with their generous permission.

Review of Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism from Goldwater to the Tea Party and Beyond by E.J. Dionne Jr.

 

Everybody told everybody early in this year’s presidential campaign (during what was called Trump Summer) that we had never seen anything so sinisterly or hilariously (take your choice) new. But Trump Summer was supposed to mellow into Sane Autumn, and it failed to — and early winter was no saner. People paid to worry in public tumbled over one another in asking what had gone wrong with our politics. Even the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, joined the worriers. After Mitt Romney lost in 2012, he set up what he called the Growth and Opportunity Project, to reach those who had not voted Republican — young people, women, Latinos, and African-Americans.

But its report, once filed, had no effect on the crowded Republican field of candidates in the 2016 race, who followed Donald Trump’s early lead as he treated women and immigrants as equal-opportunity objects of scorn. Now the public worriers were yearning for the “good old days” when there were such things as moderate Republicans. What happened to them?

The current Republican extremism has been attributed to the rise of Tea Party members or sympathizers. Deadlock in Congress is blamed on Republicans’ fear of being “primaryed” unless they move ever more rightward. Endless and feckless votes to repeal Obamacare were motivated less by any hope of ending the program than by a desire to be on record as opposing it, again and again, to avoid the dreaded label RINO (Republican in Name Only).

E.J. Dionne knows that Republican intransigence was not born yesterday, and he has the credentials for saying it because this dependably intelligent liberal tells us, in his new book, that he began as a young Goldwaterite — like Hillary Clinton (or like me). He knows that his abandoned faith sounded themes that have perdured right down to our day. In the 1950s there were many outlets for right-wing discontent — including H.L. Hunt’s Lifeline, Human Events, The Dan Smoot Report, the Fulton Lewis radio show, Willis Carto’s Liberty Lobby, the Manion Forum. In 1955, William F. Buckley founded National Review to give some order and literary polish to this cacophonous jumble. But his magazine had a small audience at the outset. Its basic message would reach a far wider audience through a widely popular book, The Conscience of a Conservative, ghostwritten for Barry Goldwater by Buckley’s brother-in-law (and his coauthor for McCarthy and His Enemies), L. Brent Bozell.

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Stratfor: France’s State of Fear and Its Swing to the Right

Summary: The shift to the right is happening across the West. Here Stratfor looks at France, whose leaders have learned from America’s elites to exploit their people’s fears after a crisis to push through security laws and shift the political spectrum to the right. They compare its current political turmoil with France’s troubled relations with its Right.

Stratfor

France’s State of Fear and Swing to the Right

Stratfor, 15 January 2016

Forecast

  • France in 2016 will be characterized by President Francois Hollande’s attempts to cope with a country that is shifting politically to the right while leading a leftist administration.
  • In pursuit of the right-wing vote, Hollande will take a hard line on the Middle East and restrict civil liberties at home. However, he will also increase government spending in an attempt to reduce unemployment levels before the 2017 election.
  • This will ultimately be an uphill struggle, and the 2017 election will most likely come down to the center-right Republicans and the far-right National Front.

Analysis

Two months after the Paris terrorist attacks, French President Francois Hollande is seeking to expand the emergency powers he invoked in November 2015. France’s state of emergency gave the government the authority to search houses without a warrant and restrict the right to peaceful assembly, all without judicial oversight. Hollande is now looking to change the French Constitution to extend the scope of these emergency powers.

However, his proposed changes also contain a more controversial alteration: They would permit France to strip French nationality from citizens who are found guilty of terrorist offenses. In its earlier forms, this law would have applied only to offenders with dual nationality status, but more recent statements from French ministers imply that it could also apply to French citizens who have just one passport, leaving them stateless. Such a shift would represent a sharp change in direction for France, bringing up painful memories of the denaturalization of Jews in Vichy France during World War II. The proposed change also reflects a major political shift to the right as the country’s 2017 election looms ever closer.

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