Are you talking about rank-and-file Republicans who identify as "conservative" mainly because they (a) are lifelong-Republicans and (b) think of themselves as "sensible", having absorbed a lot of misleading rhetoric that sounds good on the surface, or are you talking about the Congressional delegation and their political manipulators?
When I look at the polls, what I see is that a substantial percentage of people who identify as "Republican" or "conservative" are actually fairly mainstream and:
• a) want government to do the same things we want it to do — keep the air and water clean, provide disaster relief, take care of our veterans, educate our kids, provide Social Security (most oppose cutting it), maintain infrastructure, etc.
• b) recognize that Democrats have not been doing these things and are hypocritical about caring about or providing for these things. And, yes, that includes racial issues, which Democrats may give a lot of lip-service to but actually work in the other direction to exacerbate.
• c) are confused about how to accomplish these goals because they've heard a lot of rubbish — most of it carried as much by Democrats as by Republicans — about why these things aren't being done.
When you talk to most ordinary Republicans, what you find is that they believe a lot of the same lies you'll hear from Democratic leaders. (Did you catch Kamala Harris responding to a call to abolish ICE by talking about how we need people to deal with violent crime? — as if that wasn't already handled by the police?) Most egregiously, Democrats continue to behave like the Budget Act is some sort of Constitutional or even natural law that can't be changed. Everyone (even Bernie Sanders, who must know better) talks like there is a finite amount of money available and we have to balance our checkbook. We "can't afford" nice things. Health care is "a pony". (By the way, I looked this up: At the cost of most people's annual premiums, they could buy several ponies a year and many people could get a pony at least monthly.)
Conservatives want to keep the good things they have — or had — and don't want to "innovate" them away. I know a lot of Democrats who consider themselves liberal like to think that all they are unhappy about losing is something called "white privilege", but a lot of black people have also seen many good things "modernized" out from under them — like having their homes stolen, facing a job market that barely even offers bad jobs to people, let alone decent work. The fact that something unfair happens more often to black people than to white people doesn't mean it is somehow "fairer" when it happens to white people. If it's okay for it to happen to white people, then why isn't it okay if it happens to black people? The fact is, the sense of unfairness is natural and legitimate and everyone feels this way about these things when they see them happening to themselves and their friends, and they shouldn't be happening to any people. Here is your choice: Work three jobs to maintain your home, let your kid enlist in the military and come back broken or in a box. These didn't used to be our choices and a lot of people can still remember that. Some are even aware that Democratic Presidents made great strides in making these things become our choices and making sure no one did anything to stop it. Carter, Clinton, and Obama were supposed to ameliorate the damage but instead eased the progression downward.
People say they are "fiscal conservatives" because they think they understand that there is only so much money to go around and we have to "tighten our belts" on some things so we can do the things that have to be done. Although, to some, endless wars are the only thing that "have to" be done, many others assume that the better things that have to be done are what's consuming our resources and we just have to cut something else out.
At the top end, though, there are plenty of people who understand that it's all rhetoric and what they want is power and control. They don't just want to protect themselves, they want to make other people squirm, they want to make decent people have to beg them for any kind of mercy, for jobs, for a few crumbs. They like being able to put people in a tight spot so they have to agree to things they find morally repugnant in order to make a crust. They like being able to screw people gratuitously just to see them realize there is nothing they can do about it. And they also know that given the opportunity, increasing numbers of their victims would cheerfully kill them in their beds, so they like having a large, militarized police force to make sure they can't do that. They even like selling products and having policies that kill and imprison them so there are fewer of them in a position to do so.
And there is a class of people just under them who have internalized the kiss-up/kick-down nature of success in such a system and they have cast their lot with the bullies on top. And some of them are the Democrats who run the party. And if you listen to them, they sound an awful lot like the bullying Republicans, even though they may couch it in finer language (or, like Rahm Emanuel, don't). We have spent decades hearing it, every time they say, "Where else are they gonna go?" They love making us vote for them just because the only other option is even worse. They laugh when they say it.
I look at some of the things my liberal friends say on Facebook and I'm often appalled at the meanness and human insensitivity of what they say. Yes, they really do sound like they believe men and white people are not entitled to an opinion. Yes, they really do seem to think that only they suffer ordinary human discomforts during the day. Yes, they really do gleefully celebrate that poor people in the south who may have voted for Trump, maybe didn't vote — or, a fact they seem to ignore, may even have voted for Clinton — will suffer because their states voted red.
I was working on the city desk at the Baltimore Sun when David Simon came to work there. They sat him right next to me. And Baltimore was still a nice city to live and work in, back in those days, even if you were black. Our black reporters were not coming in reporting racist indignities that were foisted on them constantly. The maids who were the mothers of my friends were not worrying that their kids were going to get shot just walking to the corner shop, and they expected their kids' lives to have opportunities, to be better than theirs had been. And those kids were not walking around fearfully, terrified that they'd come to the attention of a cop. They were, just like the white kids, looking to choose between the opportunities that were on offer to them. It took very few years of Reagan and then Clinton to change that. I did not recognize the Baltimore David Simon wrote about. I had walked down those streets and they were not like that. Comfortable, clean, middle-class black neighborhoods with pristine front stoops now just look like part of some nightmare. That's not progress.
Do not tell me that we keep taking steps forward. And don't tell me we have "incremental change" for the better. We have had rapid change for the worse on almost every measure.
Ordinary liberal Democrats know the Republican leadership are liars. But what they don't get is that ordinary mainstream Republicans also know that Democratic leaders are liars. Republicans are less likely than ever to hide their cruelty, but Democrats still try to convince themselves, or at least their voters, that they are not also being cruel.
Supposedly "liberal" Democrats gave us the Budget Act.
Supposedly "liberal" Democrats ended "welfare as we know it" and made it normal to imprison school kids for what used to be minor infractions, privatized prisons, created Three Strikes, militarized the police, destroyed banking regulations that had prevented another depression, allowed banks to steal people's homes with impunity and virtually wiped out most black wealth.
Democrats lied all the time about what they were doing, what needed to be done, what they would do, what couldn't be done, and what the results would and must be. That's why they keep being voted out.
What's the ideology of the Democratic Party? From what I can see, it's just, "Vote for Democrats."
Bernie Sanders' Inequality in America: A National Town Hall, with Senator Elizabeth Warren, economist Darrick Hamilton, and filmmaker Michael Moore, wasn't too bad, but the audio on the video clips wasn't very clear. Also, the lead-in to the video takes about five minutes, which is just barely enough time to turn it on and make popcorn before it actually starts.
"In Chicago primaries, a string of defeats for the Democratic establishment at the hands of progressive Democrats: Four Democratic challengers backed by United Working Families (linked with the progressive Working Families Party) have successfully challenged establishment Dems backed by Chicago's legendarily unassailable "Democratic machine," effectively winning their offices at the same time, because the Democrat candidate always gets elected to those offices, thanks to Republicans not bothering to field candidates (leaving a vacuum that is sometimes filled by Holocaust-denying Illinois Nazis). [...] It's not all good news, though. Dan Lipinski kept his candidacy, despite having inherited his Congressional seat from his father and having voted against a $15 minimum wage, against abortion on demand, for mass surveillance and endless war, and against basic railroad safety rules that would have affected one of his largest campaign donors, a rail industry PAC. Lipinski was being challenged by Marie Newman, who ultimately outraised him with small-money donations from Sanders Democrats, and who lost the primary by a razor-thin margin. That's something of a victory -- Lipinksi had been considered unassailable and he only won by a handful of votes -- but it still seems like Lipinski will return to Congress as a Democrat-in-name-only. But the closeness of the race may inspire other primary challengers to establishment Dems in other seemingly unassailable positions." She came so close to beating him it almost breaks your heart, but I bet it scares the hell out of the alt-center. Or — wait! — is that what really happened? Marie Newman was ahead until her vote-count suddenly went down rather than up. How does that happen? Shades of Volusia County, FL.
Naturally, there have been a spate of yet more articles insisting that the way to win is "moderate" campaigns, but Polling shows running on progressive policies would work in swing districts.
OWN GOAL: "Labor Rallies Behind Laura Moser After She Overcomes Party Effort To Stomp Out Her Congressional Bid." After the DCCC's bizarre attacks on Moser's primary bid, voter reaction buoyed her candidacy into the runoff.
Jeff Hauser and Kurt Walters in The Hill, "17 Senate Dems broke their contracts with their voters [...] Needless to say, a third of Senate Democrats siding with Trump to deregulate big banks damages the credibility of this message. And let's not kid ourselves about what's going on: They're voting for the bill, raising money from the industry and hoping no one notices. Schumer himself bears a great deal of responsibility, and progressives rightly suspect him of actually wanting the bill to pass. He voted against it but didn't fight against it either. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a member of Schumer's leadership team, no less, came under withering attack from fellow Democrats for having the audacity to inform the American public which members of the Senate voted for S. 2155."
As we may recall, George H.W. Bush referred to the Cheney-Rumsfeld crew as "the crazies" — maybe okay to do some work and fill some spots, but not the sort of people you'd put in charge of policy. His son put them in charge of policy, but they had their own fringies who were useful for some things but not people you wanted making decisions. One of their most significant crazies was John Bolton. But none of the people who were mad enough, credulous enough, or just plain stupid enough to support the invasion of Iraq have paid a price for it. That fact doesn't please Ryan Cooper any more than it should please the rest of us. "Why America is asking for more wars [...] After the Iraq cataclysm, what America desperately needed was an honest debate about its bloody imperial bungling. What we got was, by and large, a lot of evasive mumbling about how "no one could have predicted," and how we need to "turn the page" and "look forward, not backward." The result is a Republican administration full of people who would still be in prison for war crimes in a country that took the rule of law seriously, and an opposition party too full of idiots and/or cowards to present a united front against war. Just last week, 10 Senate Democrats provided the crucial swing votes that allowed Trump to keep backstopping the genocidal Saudi war in Yemen. I have little confidence there will be a party-wide attempt to stand up to Bolton and Trump when the time comes.
Ari Berman in Mother Jones, "Kris Kobach Just Got Humiliated in Federal Court: The Kansas secretary of state wanted to prove his claims of widespread voter fraud. Instead, he was repeatedly embarrassed."
"Capitalism Eats a Co-op [...] True Value is a chain of more than 4,000 hardware stores around the world. It is a cooperative, meaning simply that it is collectively owned by the individual retail store owners, rather than being owned by, for example, a faceless outside investment firm who cares about nothing but the bottom line. This does not mean that True Value hardware is the vanguard of the socialist revolution, but it does go to show that a thoroughly middle American company can operate at large scale, for many decades, under a decentralized cooperative ownership model. It is simply a living demonstration of the fact that capitalism need not operate in its most rapacious and inhuman form; it can, instead, with collective agreement, be operated in a somewhat less horrible way, in which individual small business owners are empowered. Ah... cancel that. True Value has been sold to a private equity firm."
Sarah Jones at The New Republic, "The Pinkertons Still Never Sleep: The notorious union-busting agency has resurfaced in a telecommunications labor dispute, revealing how it has adapted to the 21st century. Workers at the telecommunications company Frontier Communications have been on strike for 20 days in West Virginia and Virginia. Their grievances are familiar ones: Workers want more protection from layoffs, better health care coverage, and the return of contracted work to the bargaining unit. The workers' union, Communications Workers of America, says the company is refusing to meet workers even part-way and has brought in replacement workers, or scabs. Furthermore, Frontier has hired some muscle: the Pinkertons.
In the Independent, "Roger Waters: Pink Floyd star on why his fellow musicians are terrified to speak out against Israel: "If they say something they will no longer have a career - I have been accused of being a Nazi and an anti-Semite."
David Dayen in The Nation, "How Mortgage Companies Might Finally Be Held Accountable: A former congressman has come up with an ingenious new approach. Brad Miller's been tracking his particular white whale for over a decade. But he hadn't found the right harpoon with which to slay it. Until last week. Miller is a former congressman from North Carolina, who co-authored the legislation creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Since leaving Congress, he's been working on litigation to finally bring to justice the mortgage companies that damaged millions of lives during the foreclosure crisis. And last week, he filed an innovative lawsuit against Ocwen, one of the nation's largest mortgage-servicing companies. (A servicer operates as an accounts-receivable department for home loans. This is the company you make your check out to.)
Shuan King at The Intercept, "Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner Promised a Criminal Justice Revolution. He's Exceeding Expectations. WHEN LIFELONG CIVIL rights attorney Larry Krasner was elected in a landslide this past November to become the new district attorney of Philadelphia, to say that his fans and supporters had high hopes would be an understatement. Anything less than a complete revolution that tore down the bigoted and patently unfair systems of mass incarceration would be a severe disappointment. Across the country, talking the talk of criminal justice reform has gotten many people elected as DA. Once in office, their reforms have often been painfully slow and disappointing. Krasner was the first candidate elected who publicly committed not just to intermittent changes, but a radical overhaul. So far, having been in office less than three months, he has exceeded expectations. He's doing something I've never quite seen before in present-day politics: Larry Krasner's keeping his word — and it's a sight to behold."
"Paul Ryan sold shares on same day as private briefing of banking crisis: Vice-presidential candidate denies he profited from a 2008 meeting with Fed chairman in which officials outlined fears for financial crisis" — That's straight-up insider trading, y'all. What are the chances he'll be prosecuted?
Alyssa Rosenberg in The Washington Post, "The most radical part of Anderson Cooper's interview with Stormy Daniels [...] But as a cultural milestone, the most radical thing Cooper did was refuse to treat Clifford as if she was irresponsible or immoral, or as if she were less than credible simply because of what she does for a living."
Ryan Cooper in The Week, "How Democrats can wipe out the GOP and fix America." There are some good ideas in here, but he glossed a little on foreign policy. And I still wish people would talk about abolishing the Budget Act.
James Banford in The New Republic, "Anti-Intelligence: What happens when the president goes to war with his own spies? [...] Former intelligence chiefs who, a few years ago, were justly chastised by much of the mainstream media for lying and violating civil liberties are now featured in the press as purveyors of truth and justice. Among them is former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who was roundly criticized for what many view as his lying under oath before Congress regarding the NSA's illegal domestic spying; former NSA Director Michael Hayden, who secretly ordered his agency to begin that spying; and former CIA Director John Brennan, who purportedly ran the agency's program of targeted killing of Americans and tried to prevent the Senate from releasing its voluminous investigation into the CIA's torture program. In November, Trump attacked Clapper and Brennan as 'political hacks.' The next day, the pair appeared on CNN to defend the intelligence community. 'Considering the source of the criticism,' Brennan said of Trump's comments, 'I consider that criticism a badge of honor.' [...] Ironically, much of the danger Trump poses can be laid at the feet of Barack Obama. Assuming that past norms would be future norms, Obama created the most powerful surveillance state the world has ever seen. Over eight years, he spent more than $100 billion on everything from eavesdropping satellites encircling the globe, to a million-square-foot building in the Utah desert for storing massive troves of intercepted data, to secret taps on the hundreds of thousands of miles of undersea cables that carry everything from tweets to Google searches to endless chatter. He also unleashed fleets of killer drones around the world, authorized the assassination of Americans without trial, and jailed more whistleblowers than all previous presidents combined. What Obama apparently never considered was that the Orwellian surveillance tools he created, and the precedents he set of killing and jailing Americans, could one day fall into the hands of a mountebank, demagogic president unrestrained by norms and perhaps even untethered from reality. One who may see them as preapproved weapons in his war to delegitimize his own government and attack political opponents, innocent Americans, and the press, which he has labeled 'the enemy of the American people.'"
Interesting wrinkle: I've been keeping my mouth shut about this whole story because my instincts were just up in the air. Everyone - and I mean everyone - just takes for granted that, well, Putin is vindictive and it's just the kind of thing he would do. But that presents a problem, because everyone does know it, and that means it's very easy to put him in the frame. And there are a lot of people who are getting really good at blaming their designated bad guy for stuff we even know they didn't do, and they all seem to be people who are dedicated to making Putin the Bad Guy of the Decade and pointing all the weapons in Russia's direction. And we have no reason to trust those people. So there's always a question of why, at a time like this, Putin would be dumb enough to do something that is so in character with the villain those people need him to be. (Yes, yes, he's an oligarch and thug and authoritarian, but that doesn't mean he's stupid.) And then there's this story: "Skripal 'regretted being double agent': A former classmate says the spy told him he wrote to Vladimir Putin asking to come back to Russia. Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia are in a critical condition after being poisoned by a nerve agent in Salisbury on 4 March. Vladimir Timoshkov was speaking exclusively to the BBC." Moscow says they never got that letter. They also claim they had nothing to do with the attack on the Skripals. Maybe, maybe not. It would have been in their interest to say that they'd seen the letter and were considering it, if they really want to deny their involvement. A lot of claims have been made that the Skripals were poisoned by a uniquely Russian nerve agent, but no experts are willing to support those claims and they seem to be sheer propaganda. (Much like with the "Russian hacks" story, ridiculous claims are made about the supposedly "uniquely Russian" origins of things that are already out there and can't actually be traced to source anymore. It's like saying Germans developed modern aspirin so it must be Germans who are responsible for an aspirin overdose. It's rubbish.)
"Making Profits on the Captive Prison Market [...] Some jails, for instance, have removed in-person family-visitation rooms to make way for 'video visitation' terminals, provided by private firms, which can charge as much as thirty dollars for forty minutes of screen time. One prison phone company, Securus Technologies, says in its marketing materials that it has paid out $1.3 billion in these so-called commissions over the past ten years."
In Gentleman's Quarterly, of all places, "The Great Lie of Conservatism [...] I grew up during the downfall of the Soviet Union, so I understand why men from the generation before me are so wary of Communist and socialist ideas, and why they endlessly worship Reagan for helping precipitate its downfall (one author created a set of Reagan-style bedrock principles, and they are as equally blind and dated as the others). I am a greedy capitalist at heart, and I do not like the prospect of a Commie Russia endgame any more than they did. But these guys were so obsessed with how liberalism might go sour that they seem to have never once considered how their own philosophy could do likewise."
Richard Eskow in Common Dreams, "The Resistance Needs Better Heroes: A movement is defined by its heroes. The Resistance can find better heroes than the ones some of its members have chosen — and it should."
Michelle Chen in The Nation, "Worker Cooperatives Are More Productive Than Normal Companies: When maximizing profits isn't the only goal, companies can actually work better. [...] By prioritizing worker autonomy, co-ops provide more sustainable long-term employment, but not only because worker-owners seek to protect their own livelihoods. If a company runs into economic distress, Perotin says, co-ops are generally more adept at preserving jobs while planning longer-term adjustments to the firm's operations, such as slowing down expansion to maintain current assets — whereas traditional corporations may pay less attention to strategic planning and simply shed jobs to tighten budgets."
"Why Black Americans Stay Poor: The education gap with whites has narrowed, but not the wealth gap. [...] In many areas -- college education, two-parent families, employment -- black families made progress toward closing the gap with whites from 1989 to 2013 (the earliest and latest data available). But the wealth gap ended up larger than ever." Well, sure, you can't put redlining on steroids and then steal all those homes — homes, that's where most families' wealth is — and not lose ground.
Just for grins, a review in the National Catholic Reporter says, "Douthat's Francis book is poorly sourced, inadequate journalism: Let's start with the compliments. Ross Douthat's latest book, To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism, exhibits a writing style that is admirable and enviable, and his command of the English language is exemplary, his ability to turn a phrase exceptional. And, like his columns, there is an almost lawyerly logic to his writing, as he moves from fact to argument and from argument to thesis. And, like all great spiritual writing, Douthat does not hold back: His personal wrestlings are there upon the page for all to see. But I come to bury Douthat not to praise him, for his facts are nonsense, his arguments tendentious, and his thesis so absurd it is shocking, absolutely shocking, that no one over at Simon & Schuster thought to ask if what he writes is completely or only partially unhinged. I incline to the former adverb."
REST IN PEACE: Dave Bischoff, 15 December 1951-19 March 2018 — He was my friend, part of the old University of Maryland sf group crew, a contributor to Thrust back when it was just a fanzine, and he once made me an incidental character in one of his books just because I'd mentioned liking one of his short stories. The obits I've seen talk about his Star Trek work but don't give a cause of death or any other personal information. He was 66.
REST IN PEACE: "Groundbreaking Journalist & Newsday Columnist Les Payne Dies at 76. Payne was a champion for racial equality and a groundbreaking journalist who exposed racial injustice from Long Island, New York, to apartheid South Africa. He won a Pulitzer Prize for his work on a 33-part series entitled 'The Heroin Trail,' in which he and other reporters traced the drug from the poppy fields of Turkey to the streets of U.S. cities. Les Payne was a founding member and former president of the National Association of Black Journalists. For years, he's been working on an unfinished biography of Malcolm X. This is Les Payne, reading his essay 'The Night I Stopped Being a Negro,' about his experience hearing Malcolm X speak at Bushnell Memorial Hall in Hartford, Connecticut, in June 1963. At the time, Payne was one of only 60 African-American students at the University of Connecticut — out of 10,000 enrolled students."
ROT IN PERDITION: Pete Peterson, deficit fear-monger whose "philanthropy" was largely aimed at impoverishing any American who didn't get rich during their working life. "As a fiscal watchdog, he created a well-financed foundation that addresses a spectrum of fiscal issues and holds conferences that draw America's top financial and political leaders. He wrote a half-dozen books laying out his vision for economic prosperity while critiquing, and criticizing, entitlement spending, the Social Security system and the impact on the economy of partisan politics in Washington." Gee, they make it sound so harmless, but it would be difficult to overstate what a terrible, destructive monster he was. Robert Kuttner has a much better take with his "Pete Peterson Meets St. Peter: The late private equity billionaire has some trouble at the Pearly Gates."
ROT IN PERDITION: Zell Miller, 86, former Georgia governor and US Senator, bigot, homophobe, and Fox News Democrat who famously refused to endorse the party's nominee, Bill Clinton, and was therefore denied a speaking spot at the Democratic Party convention and incessantly whined ever after that they wouldn't let him talk because he was anti-abortion, and was also the keynote speaker at the 2004 Republican Party convention. He was happy to go everywhere and complain that, "I didn't leave the Democratic Party, it left me" - but not because it had turned against the New Deal, and merely because it was less inclined to accept his overt bigotry on "social issues". His erratic slides to left and right earned him the nickname "Zig-Zag Zell", but his trajectory soon became consistently toward the far right.
"The comic book that changed the world: Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story's vital role in the Civil Rights Movement"
Peter, Paul & Mary, "Well, Well, Well"