Tag Archives: Conservatism

The Lincoln Project has blood on its hands

Lifelong MSNBC denizens George T. Conway, Steve Schmidt, and Rick Wilson (for real: they must rent rooms in the building) cobble together an NYT op ed sure to make Nicole Wallace and Joe Scarborough’s heart pitter-patter. The key bit:

Indeed, national Republicans have done far worse than simply march along to Mr. Trump’s beat. Their defense of him is imbued with an ugliness, a meanness and a willingness to attack and slander those who have shed blood for our country, who have dedicated their lives and careers to its defense and its security, and whose job is to preserve the nation’s status as a beacon of hope.

Congressional Republicans have embraced and copied Mr. Trump’s cruelty and defended and even adopted his corruption. Mr. Trump and his enablers have abandoned conservatism and longstanding Republican principles and replaced it with Trumpism, an empty faith led by a bogus prophet. In a recent survey, a majority of Republican voters reported that they consider Mr. Trump a better president than Lincoln.

To prove they know their historical shit, the column also includes a disquisition on Dan Sickles, about as necessary as the guitar solo in Wings’ “My Love.” But let me return to the excerpt. When Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe decry the “ugliness” and “meanness” with which the GOP “slander” men and women in the armed forces, I wonder if Rick Wilson remembers the ad he designed for Saxby Chambliss in 2002 in which he turned the amputee Max Cleland into a War on Terror quisling. When the trio lament how conservatism has lost its compass, I point them to Saint Ronnie’s deficits and Bush II’s tax cuts, as a result of which the Democrats succeeding them cleaned up the mess yet were denounced, in a ghastly and masterful act of projection, as tax-and-spend libs by Le Bon-Taylor-Taylor and their ilk. When further in the column the Powerpuff Girls denounce the president’s reduction of the vision thing “to what immediately faces him — the problems and risks he chronically brings upon himself and for which others, from countless contractors and companies to the American people, ultimately bear the heaviest burden,” I ask George Conway if he remembers his role in turning the Paula Jones lawsuit into the Monica Lewinsky case because Bill Clinton’s pecker wasn’t Ronnie or Poppy’s. When Moe, Larry, and Curly question Trump’s moral fitness, I poke Steve Schmidt and point to a photo of Sarah Palin, whom he created and later, when that MSNBC gig beckoned, wanted credit for destroying.

Did I mention the Iraq War?

Culmination or aberration, I ask often. Why not both? An aberrant culmination. Architects in the creation of a political party comprised of resentments toward women for wanting control of their bodies, the poor for begging for a stake in their government, and homosexuals for demanding the protections of the Fourteenth Amendment, Conway, Schmidt, and Wilson want a return to a Republicanism that spoke in reasonable sentences, offended no one by name, and offered token gestures of bipartisan comity — they want Chancellor Palpatine. Until they recognize that the conservatism they think Trumpists have sullied represents that conservatism’s late stage putrescence, they have no right to preen.

On impeachment, moderation, and whiteness

Inspired by Brenda Wineapple’s fine recent study of President Andrew Johnson’s impeachment, Alex Pareene intertwines the similarities between Johnson and Trump’s voting bases, the political establishment’s fetish for moderation, and having the moral clarity to recognize what is at stake by leaving Trump in office for the sake of keeping his attention long enough to sign legislation.

I’ve written often about the snow job that teachers did on us high schoolers when we got to Reconstruction. Presented as a well-intentioned mangling that ushered in the so-called Gilded Age, Reconstruction was taught as if textbook writers had toiled at the bottom of the ocean to avoid dealing with the Voting Rights and Civil Rights Acts passed a century after the Civil War ended; if they endorsed those attempts to redress a hundred years of spilled blood, then a good faith argument required them to credit the Radical Republicans of 1866 and 1867 for wrenching leadership away from the racist demagogue in the White House whom Abraham Lincoln, in an attempt to woo War Democrats, had placed on the ticket a few years earlier.


The Radicals were right about nearly everything, and the moderates—who made a big show of caution and deference to the Constitution and generous accommodation to the office of the president—were plainly wrong. The ones who didn’t even have skin in the game but who wanted representation for those who did were correct to be fanatical in their pursuit of a more perfect country—and, more important, they were right about the baleful and regressive consequences of moderation in the face of extremist and reactionary unreason.

And any actually reasonable observer of American politics over the last several decades would have to conclude that it isn’t the diversity of one party that has led to gridlock. Rather, it’s been the brittle, homogeneous outlook of a conservative party that increasingly counts on a base that is overwhelmingly white and male—but, of course, anyone posing as a moderate interlocutor of good faith can blame their extremism on the diversity of the other side. “Radical liberals made me more racist” is, alas, not a remotely novel claim in American politics. Wineapple writes how, after Johnson angrily declared that “this is a country for white men, and, by God, as long as I am president it shall be a government for white men,” The Chicago Times—a reasonable Republican paper of the time—wrote: “If he used the language attributed to him, it was undoubtedly in reply to fanaticism and impudence.” In other words: The Radical Republicans made him do it.

We’ve heard variations on the last sentence from our Trump-loving relatives: if liberals didn’t push bathroom bills, paper straws, panic over rising seas, and an equitable health care system, I wouldn’t have voted for the racist!

In the last week we’ve heard testimony from career diplomats that in another era would have flipped a couple of querulous Republicans and instead will remind Americans which party cares about the Constitution. I waffled too on the political merits of impeachment; I’m no legislator. If Pareene is chiding Democratic leadership for abjuring its constitutional duties until early October, he’s not wrong, which makes the timing of this essay unusual.

The GOP agenda: ‘to give all the money to rich people’

One of the leitmotifs of this blog is reminding people that a political world existed before Donald J. Trump’s election in which conservatives were nabobs manipulated by the mountebanks they elected. “Personal freedom” meant “helping the wealthy avoid taxes.” Before they coined “religious liberty” in 2016, I dealt with “family values,” which meant “Abortions for the rich, sodomy if you can get away with it.” Continue reading

What happened last night

Living in a state whose governor hung out at white supremacist conferences but enjoys a high bipartisan approval rating, I pay attention to my neighbors, none more so in recent days than what was once the Old South. For most of my life Virginia was a state my eyes glossed over: a red bastion, part of the GOP’s inexorable hold on suburbs. Reading the basic news should chill Republicans.

For decades, Virginia was reliably conservative, choosing Republican candidates in every presidential primary from 1968 to 2004. But demographic changes in large portions of the state, including a population explosion in Northern Virginia from the early 1990s through 2010, turned the commonwealth from red to purple.

And now?

“At this point, Virginia has become a blue state — how can you call it anything else,” Rozell said. “In a state that was long considered leaning red and two-party competitive at best, who could have predicted that the Republican Party would fall so dramatically and quickly?”

The outcomes were no less dramatic in Pennsylvania, won by Donald Trump in 2016:

The Pennsylvania suburbs, which will be crucial in the 2020 general election, turned even bluer Tuesday, following big GOP congressional losses in the midterm elections.

In Delaware County, the results for Republicans were catastrophic. All three Republican Council candidates and all four Republicans running for Common Pleas Court judgeships lost there. Incumbent Republican District Attorney Katayoun Copeland was ousted by Democrat Jack Stollsteimer, whose campaign received the support of liberal billionaire George Soros.

GOP consultants have hastened to remind reporters that Governor Bevin was a world-class dickhead, loathed even by supporters, but, as usual, don’t look at the results: focus on the trends. With each statewide election, the suburbs move closer to the Dem column. I didn’t pay attention to Panglossian chatter about Texas and Georgia; now it may happen in my lifetime.

The effort to suppress student voting

College students voted in 2018. I know this because Florida International University allowed for a polling station in one of its buildings. But we can’t have students voting because they tend to skew Democratic.

The headline example is in New Hampshire. There, a Republican-backed law took effect this fall requiring newly registered voters who drive to establish “domicile” in the state by securing New Hampshire driver’s licenses and auto registrations, which can cost hundreds of dollars annually.

The dots are not hard to connect: According to the Tufts study, six in 10 New Hampshire college students come from outside the state, a rate among the nation’s highest. As early as 2011, the state’s Republican House speaker at the time, William O’Brien, promised to clamp down on unrestricted voting by students, calling them “kids voting liberal, voting their feelings, with no life experience.”

Florida’s Republican secretary of state outlawed early-voting sites at state universities in 2014, only to see 60,000 voters cast on-campus ballots in 2018 after a federal court overturned the ban. This year, the State Legislature effectively reinstated it, slipping a clause into a new elections law that requires all early-voting sites to offer “sufficient non-permitted parking” — an amenity in short supply on densely packed campuses.

North Carolina Republicans enacted a voter ID law last year that recognized student identification cards as valid — but its requirements proved so cumbersome that major state universities were unable to comply. A later revision relaxed the rules, but much confusion remains, and fewer than half the state’s 180-plus accredited schools have sought to certify their IDs for voting.

Wisconsin Republicans also have imposed tough restrictions on using student IDs for voting purposes. The state requires poll workers to check signatures only on student IDs, although some schools issuing modern IDs that serve as debit cards and dorm room keys have removed signatures, which they consider a security risk.

The law also requires that IDs used for voting expire within two years, while most college ID cards have four-year expiration dates. And even students with acceptable IDs must show proof of enrollment before being allowed to vote.

The Republican Party has made suppression of the franchise an essential part of its operations for close to forty years. It’s at the state level where the malfeasance happens, but they take their cues from a GOP Senate and president. Hence, a President Jeb! or President Plankton would’ve endorsed these practices. The truest line said on the record in today’s NYT story about suburban voters by a Kent County Trump supporter: “Just take out his name and look what he’s done for our community. Focus on his policies.”

‘There can be ballots not cast in a legitimate manner by legitimate people’

This is normal in Ohio:

She went online and discovered that her name had also been flagged as an inactive voter. The state was in the process of removing her from its voter rolls.

“I voted three times last year,” said Ms. Miller. “I don’t think we have any idea how many other individuals this has happened to.”

Ohio, where the Democratic presidential candidates are set to debate Tuesday, is both a battleground state and the site of some of the country’s strictest voting laws, from voter ID requirements to a “use-it-or-lose-it” provision that lets officials drop voters seen as inactive.

The combination has led voting rights advocates to contend that parts of the state are regularly disenfranchised, largely in purges aimed at those who have died or moved away, but which also hit real voters who don’t learn they can’t vote until Election Day. Election officials in other battlegrounds such as Florida, North Carolina, Georgia and Texas regularly purge their voter lists as well.

This year, a group of elected officials in the state, mostly all moderate Republicans, tried to answer the concerns with an experiment of their own: Rather than purge the voter rolls behind closed doors as had been done in the past, the government released the full list of those to be removed this summer, and gave the list to advocacy groups. The groups said they found the list was riddled with errors.

But the other Republicans have joined these putative moderates in putting their errors for Ohioans to see, right?

“There can be ballots not cast in a legitimate manner by legitimate people,” said Senator William P. Coley II, a Republican who has pushed for tightening the voting laws. “The number of elections that are decided by one vote or a few votes — it doesn’t take much to throw an election.”

Having state officials crowdsource voter data must surely be what government-is-the-problem types in both parties mean by a practical solution. So if the League of Women Voters found discrepancies between its findings and state tabulations, what happened next? Who or what resolves the conflict? The GOP hopes to exhaust protesters.