Okay, Republicans Were the Party of Lincoln, You Want to Make That Argument?

If I only had a million dollars for every time some GOP pundit or politician tried to deflect current conservative racist policy by invoking Lincoln and the Republicans of 1860, or the Democrats of the South of the first half of the 20th century “Robert Byrd was in the Klan!!!!”

Well okay, yes, you have a partial understanding of history that in no way excuses the current state of the GOP and “know nothing” conservatives who are anti-black, anti-immigrant, anti-woman, anti-labor, etc. To paraphrase “Rebel Without a Cause”:

– What are you rebelling against?
– Whaddaya got?

But here’s the full picture of the political history of 1860-1865 that crushes their fictitious argument: yeah, the Republicans of the 1860s were the liberals pushing a revolutionary change in society and a massive increase of centralized federal power and the Democrats were the conservatives defending state’s rights and the status quo. How much of that do you agree with?

It was under Lincoln and his Republican party that the U.S. government became the largest employer in the country, asserted an active and robust centralized government over the states, created a permanent massive military, enacted the first income tax, a large national debt, spending on improvements, etc.

Republicans were recognized as representing economic privilege and political centralization (50% of that remains true).

It was the Democrats who were the party of state’s rights, limited government and what we now call “strict construction.” Indeed the Democratic party’s slogan at the time was “The Union as it is, the Constitution as it was.”

So do they really want to sign up for the agenda of Lincoln’s Republican party? I don’t think so.

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The Heartbreak of One Mistake

This piece in the LA Times shows a slice of what life is like in 2015 in the USA when you don’t matter; when your parent makes one mistake and you and your prospects drop out of the middle class through a trap door and free fall into hopelessness.

No room at the Inn for innocence

The kid has a pet roach he pretends is a turtle. If it weren’t real you’d think it was the Onion. But it’s real alright, a world in which somebody else’s bad choices consign a child to playing in a parking lot and all forms of insecurity, fear and depression. The wealthy 1% in this country, who would vote Republican, can’t imagine this world exists. That might be their most dangerous delusion.

So a 1.5 Hr. Commute Becomes 2.5 in NJ Because Weather & Christie

NJ Transit is beset by problems when it’s hot, when it’s rainy, when it’s snowy… because trains are 19th century technology with few real upgrades in the 21st century and a deficiency of tunnels under the Hudson can’t be fixed overnight.

My week has been particularly awful. Although I get more reading done sitting on a stationary train, I’d just as soon get to my destination somewhere close to my desired time.

So it just makes Damaged Goods Christie’s horrible, terrible, very bad decisions regarding cancelling the long-planned ARC Project all the more horrible, terrible and very, very bad.

The deteriorating tunnels are a chokepoint for rail traffic from Boston to Washington, the busiest railroad corridor in the United States, and serve as the central artery for New Jersey Transit, one of the nation’s largest providers of commuting services. Transit advocates said that this week’s breakdowns, far from being an anomaly, laid bare the paralyzing effects of disruptions that could become common in the absence of quick action.

Now Trump’s Gone Too Far?

Vile racist nonsense is one thing, but the Kool Kids of the Beltway will not stand for one of their own to be insulted.

Of course, what Trump said about McCain is as ridiculous as what the GOP in general did to John Kerry in 2004. Remember the purple hearts at the GOP convention?


But as bad as what he has said about Mexicans, this will be the trigger of a million e-mails to establishment GOPers to squash Trump, but it won’t work. Tee hee hee!

Watch as there is ever greater impetus for GOPers to rally around an anti-Trump.

And yes, it’s truly vile that we’re 16 months out and this is our reality. But the coming GOP schism will be so much fun!!!

Donald Trump Invokes “Silent Majority” So Listen to Perlstein

Gotta go to Rick Perlstein, author of the essential “Nixonland” and “Invisible Bridge” the continuation of the dementing of the conservative movement and the politics of resentment created by Nixon and made into an art form by Reagan. Perlstein’s ability to unpack and explain the history and tactics of the right wing revolution that has changed us so profoundly is unmatched.

I plead with you, read Down with the Confederate Flag, Up with Donald Trump!

In public a flag came down, but at the same time, privately Republicans across the country were anonymously answering polls saying they like Trump. Perlstein sees the connection.

I’ve never seen anything that lays bare the core lineaments of conservatism so neatly: there is our tribe, which is good, true, and pure; and there are those other tribes, who are existential threats to you and me (Reagan’s favorite phrase), and must be suppressed in order for good to be preserved. “We” all know this, even if “they” don’t allow us to say this. If anything, the lowering of the Confederate flag in South Carolina opens space for this particular new longing to air this other silent truth more freely.

Ta-Nehasi Coates Writes, David Brooks Drools an Unasked For Response

The great Ta-Nehasi Coates has a new book out, maybe you’ve heard of it because it’s burning up like the new James Baldwin novel probably did in the 50s. Coates’s brutal honesty about his black experience in America is and should be a bracing slap in the face of white privilege. Coming as it does in the wake of Ferguson, Garner, SC, etc. that face of white privilege is pretty red and raw.

David Brooks is tired of being smacked around and has an answer that reminds me of Dave Attell’s joke about how a woman who walked into the room with a black eye must not be a good listener.* Brooks is only going to get smacked harder with this response that is just dripping with white privilege and is the kind of tone deaf condescension that even white people will want to smack him.

Brooks’s whole shtick has been to defend the white suburban middle class as the backbone of America and the well manicured lawn, a barbecue and a two SUV garage as the God-given right of the great upstanding moral center of the universe. Coates sets Brooks’s suburban idyll on fire by asserting the really quite uncontroversial idea that white America’s wealth is largely based on the backs of the people the Homeowner’s Association will not allow to purchase in Brooks’s neighborhood.

I think you distort American history. This country, like each person in it, is a mixture of glory and shame. There’s a Lincoln for every Jefferson Davis and a Harlem Children’s Zone for every K.K.K. — and usually vastly more than one. Violence is embedded in America, but it is not close to the totality of America.

Brooks makes it just too easy. And here too.


A “Lincoln for every Jefferson Davis” shows such a shallow understanding of history you want to smack the NYT around for giving Brooks the space to write it. As if Lincoln was a great defender of the black race rather than the guy who was president when the South finally seceded and threatened the union. Give Lincoln his props but his attitude towards the black race was typical of his time – he may have felt slavery a moral abomination but he didn’t believe for a second the black and white races were in any way equal.

Does the Harlem Children’s Zone really equate the KKK in any way, shape or form. Is Brooks saying, one’s good for black people and one’s bad for black people and that’s balance?


*Of course abuse is not funny. The joke presupposes we understand that Attell’s understanding of women is quite cro-magnon-like.

House GOP Takes Derp to New Levels on Flag

The confederate flag stuff was actually quite simple when it was just about a flag as a symbol of hate. Leave it to the GOP in our Congress (God bless their hearts) to turn it into a political football.

Long story short, a spending bill to finance the Interior Department was gliding through the House including some amendments passed with no controversy to ban the confederate battle flag on certain federal lands. No muss no fuss, you would think. But the stupid is, as we’ve said many times, strong with these people. The modern Republican Party is largely a Southern sectional party. Soooo…

Members of both parties were shocked, however, when the House GOP leadership made an effort late the next night to reverse those Democratic measures. The backlash was so immediate and intense that Republicans were forced to withdraw the Interior spending bill from the floor.

Out of the blue Southern heritage lovers stepped up to scuttle the spending bill unless the amendments to ban their heritage’s flag were removed.

Not only is the fate of the Interior spending bill now in jeopardy, but Rogers said that the flag debate “could be a problem” for his plans to pass 12 appropriations bills this summer, according to Politico. The appropriations process has been ground to a halt, Politico reported, until GOP leadership decides how to handle the issue.

The great Norm Ornstein explains:

“That leaves Boehner in a very tough position in getting the bills through the House,” Ornstein explained in an interview with TPM, as the speaker must keep on board hardcore Tea Party Republicans who would oppose almost any spending bill that doesn’t entirely demolish domestic programs.

“What it means is he has to accommodate people he would really rather not accommodate. And what happened in this case of course he didn’t have the votes and several southern Republicans basically said, ‘You want our votes? You’re going to have to do something on the Confederate flag.’”

There is nothing that can’t be dysfunctioned to death by these elected village idiots.