Authoritarian populist secession talk (Update #4)

Updates

  1. Originally published, December 22, 2020, at 7:12 am.
  2. December 22, 2020, 4:09 pm:
    • Yesterday, I wrote,

      I would not take it as consolation that the crazy, such as Rudy Giuliani, in Donald Trump’s orbit are turning on the crazier, such as Michael Flynn and Sidney Powell. But if Trump appoints the conspiracy theorist Powell as special prosecutor to investigate election fraud,[1] take it as a sign that the crazier are prevailing. Trump is desperate,[2] so it just might happen (but probably not by outgoing Attorney General Bill Barr’s hand[3]), in which case, the prospect of an attempt to invoke the Insurrection Act might become very real.[4][5]

      We don’t have the level of confidence I was looking for there yet, but based on Jonathan Swan’s reporting, it sure looks like Donald Trump is tilting in favor of the crazier.[6] Richard Nixon was notorious for a Saturday Night Massacre, firing acting attorney general after attorney general to try to quash the Watergate investigation. Will it be a Christmas Eve massacre with Trump? Will it even take that long? And in the meantime, if indeed he’s pissing on all his erstwhile sycophants,[7] the same sycophants who previously made an invocation impossible, what about that 25th amendment?

  3. December 22, 2020, 8:57 pm:
    • For once, I agree with Donald Trump (actually, this has happened before, but it’s exceedingly rare). He doesn’t like[8] the COVID-19 relief measure agreed by Congress.[9] Not even one little bit. Too much, he says, has nothing to do with the pandemic and the checks are much too small. He wants $2,000.[10] But I’m also taking this as another sign that the craziers are prevailing over the merely crazy,[11] because this threatens to blow up a hard-won agreement that passed with overwhelming margins[12] (easily large enough, by the way, that so-called progressive congress members, you know, the ones who cover the neoliberals’ left flank, could vote against it without even the remotest fear of derailing its passage), at a time when it’s pretty clear that Trump’s stock with his own party is in decline.[13]
  4. December 23, 2020, 7:44 am:
    • I’m honestly not quite sure what all to make of Congressional Republican infighting over attempting to challenge the electoral college tallies and try to overturn the result. The thinking on one side seems to be that this is doomed, which it indeed almost certainly is, therefore they’ll look bad even trying.[14] But the failure to try further convinces Trumpsters that Republicans are not doing enough to “defend” Donald Trump, which, as I’ve previously noted, is a problem in the Georgia runoff.[15] The one thing that is clear is that not all Republicans, especially not in the Senate, are falling in line behind Trump, a reflection of a “lame duck” status that clearly stings our delusional raging narcissist-in-chief.[16]

Secession

Casey Michel argues that authoritarian populist talk of secession in the wake of Donald Trump’s defeat is really about seeking leverage to nullify or resist the policies of a federal government allegedly dominated by the Democrats.[17] As a practical matter, he’s likely right, but the historical precedent he cites culminated in the Civil War, which arguably failed to settle much of anything.[18]

Casey Michel, “What All the Secession Talk Really Means,” Politico, December 21, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/12/21/secession-donald-trump-449348


Donald Trump

Seung Min Kim, Josh Dawsey, and Toluse Olorunnipa, “Republicans plunge into open battle over attempts to overturn Trump’s loss to Biden,” Washington Post, December 22, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-republicans-election-fight/2020/12/22/fa0c2744-446b-11eb-b0e4-0f182923a025_story.html

Jonathan Swan, “Trump turns on everyone,” Axios, December 22, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-white-house-conspiracy-theories-d95450a4-c7a3-4579-a568-0473b18529c9.html


  1. [1]Jonathan Chait, “Trump Floats Coup Plan That’s So Wild Even Rudy Giuliani Is Terrified,” New York, December 19, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/12/trump-coup-sidney-powell-martial-law-michael-flynn-meltdown.html
  2. [2]Michael Kruse, “Is Trump Cracking Under the Weight of Losing?” Politico, December 20, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/12/20/trump-white-house-losing-448903
  3. [3]Matt Zapotosky, “Undercutting Trump, Barr says there’s no basis for seizing voting machines, using special counsels for election fraud, Hunter Biden,” Washington Post, December 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/barr-trump-special-counsel-voter-fraud-hunter-biden/2020/12/21/4d85f060-439c-11eb-b0e4-0f182923a025_story.html
  4. [4]Tina Nguyen, “MAGA leaders call for the troops to keep Trump in office,” Politico, December 18, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/18/trump-insurrection-act-presidency-447986; Felicia Sonmez et al., “A frustrated Trump redoubles efforts to challenge election result,” Washington Post, December 20, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/tuberville-electoral-challenge-trump-conversation/2020/12/20/1658573e-42db-11eb-b0e4-0f182923a025_story.html; Felicia Sonmez et al., “A frustrated Trump redoubles efforts to challenge election result,” Washington Post, December 20, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/tuberville-electoral-challenge-trump-conversation/2020/12/20/1658573e-42db-11eb-b0e4-0f182923a025_story.html
  5. [5]David Benfell, “Look out below! It’s a pigeon, not a partridge, in a pear tree,” Irregular Bullshit, December 21, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/12/20/look-out-below-its-a-pigeon-not-a-partridge-in-a-pear-tree/
  6. [6]Jonathan Swan, “Trump turns on everyone,” Axios, December 22, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-white-house-conspiracy-theories-d95450a4-c7a3-4579-a568-0473b18529c9.html
  7. [7]Jonathan Swan, “Trump turns on everyone,” Axios, December 22, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-white-house-conspiracy-theories-d95450a4-c7a3-4579-a568-0473b18529c9.html
  8. [8]Rebecca Ballhaus, “Trump Asks Congress to Amend Covid-19 Package, Boost Direct Payments,” Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-asks-congress-to-amend-covid-19-package-boost-direct-payments-11608684702
  9. [9]Jeff Stein, and Mike DeBonis, “Senate majority leader announces approximately $900 billion deal on emergency relief package,” Washington Post, December 20, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2020/12/20/stimulus-congress/
  10. [10]Rebecca Ballhaus, “Trump Asks Congress to Amend Covid-19 Package, Boost Direct Payments,” Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-asks-congress-to-amend-covid-19-package-boost-direct-payments-11608684702
  11. [11]Jonathan Chait, “Trump Floats Coup Plan That’s So Wild Even Rudy Giuliani Is Terrified,” New York, December 19, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/12/trump-coup-sidney-powell-martial-law-michael-flynn-meltdown.html; Jonathan Swan, “Trump turns on everyone,” Axios, December 22, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-white-house-conspiracy-theories-d95450a4-c7a3-4579-a568-0473b18529c9.html
  12. [12]Rebecca Ballhaus, “Trump Asks Congress to Amend Covid-19 Package, Boost Direct Payments,” Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-asks-congress-to-amend-covid-19-package-boost-direct-payments-11608684702
  13. [13]Jonathan Chait, “Trump Floats Coup Plan That’s So Wild Even Rudy Giuliani Is Terrified,” New York, December 19, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/12/trump-coup-sidney-powell-martial-law-michael-flynn-meltdown.html; David Charter, “Trump announces law chief Bill Barr has quit as electoral college backs Joe Biden,” Times, December 15, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/trump-announces-law-chief-bill-barr-has-quit-as-electoral-college-backs-joe-biden-wnzzxkczt; Marianne Levine and Melanie Zanona, “McConnell warns Senate Republicans against challenging election results,” Politico, December 15, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/15/mcconnell-gop-election-results-445524; Jonathan Swan, “Trump turns on everyone,” Axios, December 22, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-white-house-conspiracy-theories-d95450a4-c7a3-4579-a568-0473b18529c9.html; Matt Zapotosky, “Undercutting Trump, Barr says there’s no basis for seizing voting machines, using special counsels for election fraud, Hunter Biden,” Washington Post, December 21, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/barr-trump-special-counsel-voter-fraud-hunter-biden/2020/12/21/4d85f060-439c-11eb-b0e4-0f182923a025_story.html
  14. [14]Seung Min Kim, Josh Dawsey, and Toluse Olorunnipa, “Republicans plunge into open battle over attempts to overturn Trump’s loss to Biden,” Washington Post, December 22, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-republicans-election-fight/2020/12/22/fa0c2744-446b-11eb-b0e4-0f182923a025_story.html
  15. [15]David Benfell, “The curious logic of Mitch McConnell,” Irregular Bullshit, December 18, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/12/16/the-curious-logic-of-mitch-mcconnell/; Greg Sargent, “Georgia Republicans beg Trump to release them from his prison of lies,” Washington Post, December 1, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/12/01/georgia-republicans-beg-trump-release-them-his-prison-lies/; Christina Zhao, “Pro-Trump Rally Chants ‘Destroy the GOP,’ Boos Georgia ‘RINOs,’” Loeffler and Perdue,” Newsweek, December 12, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/pro-trump-rally-chants-destroy-gop-boos-georgia-rinos-loeffler-perdue-1554354
  16. [16]Seung Min Kim, Josh Dawsey, and Toluse Olorunnipa, “Republicans plunge into open battle over attempts to overturn Trump’s loss to Biden,” Washington Post, December 22, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-republicans-election-fight/2020/12/22/fa0c2744-446b-11eb-b0e4-0f182923a025_story.html; Jonathan Swan, “Trump turns on everyone,” Axios, December 22, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-white-house-conspiracy-theories-d95450a4-c7a3-4579-a568-0473b18529c9.html
  17. [17]Casey Michel, “What All the Secession Talk Really Means,” Politico, December 21, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/12/21/secession-donald-trump-449348
  18. [18]Marc Fisher, “Confederate statues: In 2020, a renewed battle in America’s enduring Civil War,” Washington Post, June 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2020/06/11/confederate-statues-attacked-protesters-george-floyd/; Stephan Richter, “Shutdown shows the Civil War never ended,” Salon, October 8, 2013, https://www.salon.com/2013/10/07/shutdown_shows_the_civil_war_never_ended_partner/; Robin Wright, “Is America Headed for a New Kind of Civil War?” New Yorker, August 14, 2017, https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/is-america-headed-for-a-new-kind-of-civil-war

If a civil war were to occur, it might be between neighborhoods

Horse race

I expressed my initial reaction to a suggestion that states might secede if the Democratic Party forbade Joe Biden from conceding defeat[1] in a tweet:

But in earlier thinking, first looking at county electoral results,[2] and later from Sonoma County, California, over at California’s own “bible belt” in the Central Valley, I’ve noted that dividing territory between ‘red’ and ‘blue’ would not be simple,[3] and this is a point Rod Dreher at The American Conservative makes, except he thinks the conflict would even be between neighborhoods.[4] That’s a point I’ll readily concede.

In any event, I still can’t imagine the Democratic Party refusing to concede. It’s clear that Barack Obama, who refused to prosecute Bush administration war crimes[5] and who refused to prosecute bankers for their acts of fraud leading to the financial crisis,[6] is calling the shots in the Democratic Party.[7] Even assuming that mantle passes to Biden, whose mental faculties should be in severe doubt for this even if no other reason, he imagines Republicans will be reasonable.[8] These are not people who would ever even in their wildest dreams contest an election result.

Rod Dreher, “Is A New Civil War Possible?” American Conservative, August 4, 2020, https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/is-a-new-civil-war-possible/


Isaias

This morning it looked to me like the remnants of Isaias had passed through central Pennsylvania into New York, but this afternoon, we saw some rain, heavy at times and in some places.
ecan


  1. [1]Henry Zeffman, “US election war game sees states ready to secede if Trump is sworn in,” Times, August 4, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/us-election-war-game-sees-states-ready-to-secede-if-trump-is-sworn-in-zmzddmf9k
  2. [2]David Benfell, “A national divorce,” Not Housebroken, September 8, 2015, https://disunitedstates.org/2015/09/08/a-national-divorce/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Endorsing Cascadia secession,” Not Housebroken, August 22, 2017, https://disunitedstates.org/2017/08/22/endorsing-cascadia-secession/; David Benfell, “The morality of polarization,” Not Housebroken, September 21, 2018, https://disunitedstates.org/2018/09/21/the-morality-of-polarization/
  4. [4]Rod Dreher, “Is A New Civil War Possible?” American Conservative, August 4, 2020, https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/is-a-new-civil-war-possible/
  5. [5]Glenn Greenwald, “Obama’s justice department grants final immunity to Bush’s CIA torturers,” Guardian, August 31, 2012, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/aug/31/obama-justice-department-immunity-bush-cia-torturer; Elizabeth Holtzman, “Statutes of Limitations Are Expiring on Some Bush Crimes,” Nation, March 20, 2013, https://www.thenation.com/article/statutes-limitations-are-expiring-some-bush-crimes/; David Johnston and Charlie Savage, “Obama Reluctant to Look Into Bush Programs,” New York Times, January 11, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/12/us/politics/12inquire.html
  6. [6]Jason M. Breslow, “As Deadlines Loom for Financial Crisis Cases, Prosecutors Weigh Their Options,” Public Broadcasting System, January 22, 2013, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/business-economy-financial-crisis/untouchables/as-deadlines-loom-for-financial-crisis-cases-prosecutors-weigh-their-options/; Jason M. Breslow, “Too Big To Jail? The Top 10 Civil Cases Against the Banks,” Frontline, January 22, 2013, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/business-economy-financial-crisis/untouchables/too-big-to-jail-the-top-10-civil-cases-against-the-banks/; Jason M. Breslow, “Were Bankers Jailed In Past Financial Crises?” Public Broadcasting System, January 22, 2013, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/business-economy-financial-crisis/untouchables/were-bankers-jailed-in-past-financial-crises/; David Dayen, “Wall Street wins again,” Salon, February 13, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/02/13/wall_street_wins_again/; Frontline, “Phil Angelides: Enforcement of Wall St. is ‘Woefully Broken’,” Public Broadcasting System, January 22, 2013, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/business-economy-financial-crisis/untouchables/phil-angelides-enforcement-of-wall-st-is-woefully-broken/; Frontline, “Ted Kaufman: Wall Street Prosecutions Never Made a Priority,” Public Broadcasting System, January 22, 2013, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/business-economy-financial-crisis/untouchables/ted-kaufman-wall-street-prosecutions-never-made-a-priority/; Office of the Inspector General Audit Division, “Audit of the Department of Justice’s Efforts to Address Mortgage Fraud,” U. S. Department of Justice, March 2014, http://www.justice.gov/oig/reports/2014/a1412.pdf; Barry Ritholz, “Why Prosecutors Whiffed on Subprime Crime,” Bloomberg View, March 14, 2014, http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-03-14/why-prosecutors-whiffed-on-subprime-crime; David Sirota, “Are banks too big to jail?” Salon, January 23, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/01/23/are_banks_too_big_to_jail/; David Sirota, “Barack Obama, Wall Street co-conspirator,” Salon, January 29, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/01/29/barack_obama_wall_street_co_conspirator/
  7. [7]Glenn Thrush, “Accelerate the Endgame’: Obama’s Role in Wrapping Up the Primary,” New York Times, August 3, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/14/us/politics/obama-biden-democratic-primary.html
  8. [8]Moira Donegan, “What does Biden have in common with Trump? Delusional nostalgia,” Guardian, June 21, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/21/joe-biden-trump-sexism-delusional-nostalgia; Matt Ford, “Someone Please Tell Joe Biden That Bipartisanship Is Dead,” New Republic, June 12, 2019, https://newrepublic.com/article/154183/someone-please-tell-joe-biden-bipartisanship-dead; Paul Waldman, “Joe Biden still hasn’t learned the lessons of the Obama presidency,” Washington Post, December 6, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/12/06/joe-biden-still-hasnt-learned-lessons-obama-presidency/

Being a man means making everyone around you sick

Horse race

Henry Zeffman, “US election war game sees states ready to secede if Trump is sworn in,” Times, August 4, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/us-election-war-game-sees-states-ready-to-secede-if-trump-is-sworn-in-zmzddmf9k

Pandemic

So my mother sent me a New York Times article reporting that there was opposition to wearing masks in the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic[1] similar to what we’re seeing today.[2] There’s still no real explanation for the phenomenon. Which means we’re left with Priya Elan’s claim that somehow masks seem to threaten masculinity: “It seems that in certain circles,” Elan writes, “wearing a mask has been conflated with the kind of archaic, knuckle-dragging rhetoric that casts wearing pink or having a cat on a dating app as effeminate.”[3] Which is to say that being a man somehow means making everyone around you sick. Spare me.

Christine Hauser, “The Mask Slackers of 1918,” New York Times, August 3, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/03/us/mask-protests-1918.html


Isaias

It’s just remnants now.
eusgm


  1. [1]Christine Hauser, “The Mask Slackers of 1918,” New York Times, August 3, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/03/us/mask-protests-1918.html
  2. [2]Priya Elan, “The data is in: men are too fragile to wear Covid-19 masks. Grow up, guys,” Guardian, July 3, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jul/03/covid-19-masks-men-masculinity; Griff Witte, Ariana Eunjung Cha, and Josh Dawsey, “At the heart of dismal U.S. coronavirus response, a fraught relationship with masks,” Washington Post, July 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/at-the-heart-of-dismal-us-coronavirus-response-a-fraught-relationship-with-masks/2020/07/28/f47eccd0-cde4-11ea-bc6a-6841b28d9093_story.html
  3. [3]Priya Elan, “The data is in: men are too fragile to wear Covid-19 masks. Grow up, guys,” Guardian, July 3, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jul/03/covid-19-masks-men-masculinity

Bombs under bridges

Ireland

I remember making Nic Robertson’s mistake. It is to look at violence and to see evil, without seriously considering the underlying cause:

The IRA [Irish Republican Army] was at the forefront of the conflict [“The Troubles”] – killing, bombing, shooting and intimidating their way to influence. They had grown out of a demand for equality in Northern Ireland’s deeply bigoted society that often gave advantages to Protestants over Catholics.[1]

First, this neglects that Ireland has been an English colonial project since at least the 17th century:

The mandate for extermination [of Native Americans] anticipated similar calls for ruthless wars against a dehumanised enemy that would be heard from land-hungry colonists in southern Africa, New Zealand and Australia. It was also a reminder that the first colonisation of North America was contemporaneous with the far larger settlement of Ireland, mainly by Presbyterian Scottish immigrants. Between 1620 and 1642 120,000 colonists arrived to help undertake what Sir Francis Bacon revealing called ‘the reduction to civility’ of the Gaelic-speaking Catholic Irish.[2]

Lawrence James’ description is brief—he goes on to describe The Troubles at greater length later in his book. But nonetheless, we see crucial commonalities: The hunger for land—Lebensraum if you will—masked as a “civilizing” project, as if English Catholics (Episcopalians) of Henry VIII’s church were somehow more civilized than Roman Catholics, and carried out by Scottish Presbyterians, as if even they were somehow more civilized than Roman Catholics.

It is in that historical context that we should see Boris Johnson’s likely implausible notion of a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland.[3]

He called again for the link during the Conservative leadership campaign, despite engineers expressing scepticism at the idea of building such a link over waters more than 300 metres deep in places, parts of which were used by the Ministry of Defence to dump more than 1m tonnes of obsolete munitions.[4]

And it is in that historical context that we should see Ulsterist resistance to what is now being called a “frontstop,” the customs border between Northern Ireland and the rest of Britain necessary to avoid such a border between the North and South.[5]

There is no humane logic to such bigotry and the Irish, seen by the English as a “fickle, childlike race, unable to subdue their wilder passions,”[6] suffered it for centuries. It is little wonder that finally, early in the 20th century they rose up only to be lumped in with Communists and trade unions. The IRA resorted to violence to displace the colonizer and the conflict took a familiar pattern of asymmetric conflict culminating in partition and independence for the Republic of Ireland, excluding the North. But the fight for the North continued.[7]

Robertson foolishly treats Sinn Fein as a Northern Irish organization,[8] But it was in Dublin with the IRA at the beginning.[9] And the Ulster Protestants seek to perpetuate a vicious subjugation of Catholics.

Nic Robertson, “Sinn Fein surged in Ireland’s election. Here’s why that’s so controversial,” CNN, February 10, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/10/europe/ireland-election-sinn-fein-analysis-intl/index.html

Peter Walker, “Government ‘actively looking into’ Scotland-Northern Ireland bridge,” Guardian, February 10, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/feb/10/boris-johnson-northern-ireland-scotland-bridge-plan-being-actively-looked-into-no-10


  1. [1]Nic Robertson, “Sinn Fein surged in Ireland’s election. Here’s why that’s so controversial,” CNN, February 10, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/10/europe/ireland-election-sinn-fein-analysis-intl/index.html
  2. [2]Lawrence James, The Rise and Fall of the British Empire (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1994), 14.
  3. [3]Peter Walker, “Government ‘actively looking into’ Scotland-Northern Ireland bridge,” Guardian, February 10, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/feb/10/boris-johnson-northern-ireland-scotland-bridge-plan-being-actively-looked-into-no-10
  4. [4]Peter Walker, “Government ‘actively looking into’ Scotland-Northern Ireland bridge,” Guardian, February 10, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/feb/10/boris-johnson-northern-ireland-scotland-bridge-plan-being-actively-looked-into-no-10
  5. [5]Daniel Boffey and Jennifer Rankin, “Boris Johnson and EU reach Brexit deal without DUP backing,” Guardian, October 17, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/oct/17/boris-johnson-and-eu-reach-brexit-deal-without-dup-backing; Daniel Boffey et al., “Boris Johnson ‘on brink of Brexit deal’ after border concessions,” Guardian, October 15, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/oct/15/boris-johnson-close-to-brexit-deal-after-border-concessions; Rory Carroll and Lisa O’Carroll, “Rival unionists accuse DUP of catastrophic Brexit miscalculation,” Guardian, October 17, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/oct/17/rival-unionists-accuse-dup-of-catastrophic-brexit-miscalculation; Peter Foster, “Brexit plan revealed: Telegraph obtains proposal Boris Johnson will send to Brussels,” Telegraph, October 1, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/10/01/brexit-plan-revealed-prime-minister-rolls-sleeves-send-brussels/; Conor Humphries, “Irish PM says hard Brexit would raise issue of Irish unification,” Reuters, July 27, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-eu-ireland-nireland-idUSKCN1UL280; Laurence Norman and Max Colchester, “U.K., EU Agree on Draft Brexit Deal, Paving Way for Key Vote,” Wall Street Journal, October 17, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/brexit-talks-are-dealt-a-blow-as-northern-irish-party-rejects-draft-11571294766; Kate Proctor, “Irish border after Brexit – all ideas are beset by issues says secret paper,” Guardian, September 2, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/02/irish-border-after-brexit-all-ideas-beset-by-issues; James Rothwell, “DUP’s demand for a veto over deal brings talks to standstill as consent not customs becomes crucial issue,” Telegraph, October 16, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/10/16/dups-demand-veto-deal-brings-talks-standstill-consent-not-customs/
  6. [6]Lawrence James, The Rise and Fall of the British Empire (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1994), 377.
  7. [7]Lawrence James, The Rise and Fall of the British Empire (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1994).
  8. [8]Nic Robertson, “Sinn Fein surged in Ireland’s election. Here’s why that’s so controversial,” CNN, February 10, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/10/europe/ireland-election-sinn-fein-analysis-intl/index.html
  9. [9]Lawrence James, The Rise and Fall of the British Empire (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1994).

Bernie Sanders’ mistake

Scotland

Kieran Andrews, “Nicola Sturgeon ‘would resort to court battle to secure referendum,’” Times, January 31, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/past-six-days/2020-01-31/news/nicola-sturgeon-would-resort-to-court-battle-to-secure-referendum-jglmr7d3n


Palestine

Contrary to an initial appearance of some Arab backing for Donald Trump’s “deal of the century,”[1] the Arab League unanimously rejected it.[2]

Times of Israel, “Backing Abbas, Arab League rejects Trump’s Middle East peace plan,” February 1, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/backing-abbas-arab-league-rejects-trumps-middle-east-peace-plan/

Times of Israel, “Gantz vows to advance US peace plan immediately if elected prime minister,” February 1, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/gantz-vows-to-advance-us-peace-plan-immediately-if-he-becomes-prime-minister/


Bernie Sanders

The move to restore superdelegates to the first ballot, pretty obviously to stop Bernie Sanders, enjoys only minority support.[3] But some of us have not forgotten 2016.[4]

I understand why Sanders trusts the Democratic Party. In a bipartisan system, he has little choice. I still think it’s a mistake.

David Siders, “DNC members discuss rules change to stop Sanders at convention,” Politico, January 31, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/01/31/dnc-superdelegates-110083

Eoin Higgins, “DNC Insiders Plot Return of Superdelegates to Stop Sanders at Convention,” Truthout, February 1, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/dnc-insiders-plot-return-of-superdelegates-to-stop-sanders-at-convention/


  1. [1]Felicia Schwartz and Michael R. Gordon, “Trump’s Mideast Peace Plan Charts Two-State Course for Israelis, Palestinians,” Wall Street Journal, January 28, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-set-to-release-middle-east-peace-plan-11580221616
  2. [2]Times of Israel, “Backing Abbas, Arab League rejects Trump’s Middle East peace plan,” February 1, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/backing-abbas-arab-league-rejects-trumps-middle-east-peace-plan/
  3. [3]Eoin Higgins, “DNC Insiders Plot Return of Superdelegates to Stop Sanders at Convention,” Truthout, February 1, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/dnc-insiders-plot-return-of-superdelegates-to-stop-sanders-at-convention/; David Siders, “DNC members discuss rules change to stop Sanders at convention,” Politico, January 31, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/01/31/dnc-superdelegates-110083
  4. [4]Donna Brazile, “Inside Hillary Clinton’s Secret Takeover of the DNC,” Politico, November 2, 2017, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/11/02/clinton-brazile-hacks-2016-215774

Free Scotland

As I wonder how in the world I’m going to pay my taxes this year, I see one of my neighbors may have a more pressing dilemma.

There’s a bright pink notice taped to her door informing her of an arrest warrant. Assuming its veracity, she was busted for speeding and not having had her vehicle inspected (Pennsylvania has an annual vehicle inspection scheme to help keep local mechanics afloat).

From what I gather, such violations are how the local cops harass Blacks. Whites rarely face such tickets.

And it’s not like I’m the only white noticing this. Sure, I talk about all this with Blacks, but I also talk about it with whites. And a few of them have noticed at least some of what I’ve noticed. Those that grew up here are less likely to have noticed, but when I inform them of my observations, I don’t even have to explain my logic—they, too, are often horrified.


Scotland

As this issue goes online, the hour for Brexit has now passed.

Kieran Andrews, “Brexit is a boost for independence,” Times, January 31, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/scotland/brexit-is-a-boost-for-independence-njdh6zmfc

British Broadcasting Corporation, “Scottish independence: Nicola Sturgeon calls for patience over indyref2,” January 31, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-51311288


Palestine

Jerusalem Online, “Bibi Steps Back from ‘Immediate’ Annexation Promise,” January 31, 2020, https://www.jerusalemonline.com/bibi-steps-back-from-immediate-annexation-promise/


Scottish independence redux

Scotland

In the abstract, I absolutely favor Scottish independence. But in fairness, there are reasons for skepticism: First, while Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish National Party may indeed be able to bend the U.K. establishment into allowing another referendum, it might well, once again, fail to pass.[1] Even if it passes, there are doubts about Scotland’s ability to support itself,[2] which I think exceed those in the earlier referendum.

We are just about to find out how well Boris Johnson’s humbug about Brexit will play. I fear that Sturgeon’s is little better.

Severin Carrell and Libby Brooks, “SNP turns focus back to independence after election boost,” Guardian, December 16, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/dec/16/snp-turns-focus-back-to-independence-after-election-boost

Philip Sim, “Scottish independence: Could Scotland leave the UK and stay in the EU?” British Broadcasting Corporation December 18, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-50813510


Buddhism

There is a new blog entry entitled, “Solipsism as intellectualism and as spiritualism.”

Alexander Wynne, “Who was the Buddha?” Aeon, December 17, 2019, https://aeon.co/essays/was-the-buddha-an-awakened-prince-or-a-humble-itinerant


  1. [1]Severin Carrell and Libby Brooks, “SNP turns focus back to independence after election boost,” Guardian, December 16, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/dec/16/snp-turns-focus-back-to-independence-after-election-boost; Philip Sim, “Scottish independence: Could Scotland leave the UK and stay in the EU?” British Broadcasting Corporation December 18, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-50813510
  2. [2]Philip Sim, “Scottish independence: Could Scotland leave the UK and stay in the EU?” British Broadcasting Corporation December 18, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-50813510

Tory triumph: Let the madness begin

Brexit

It’s a historic defeat for Labour,[1] not only because of the new margin in Parliament,[2] but because so many voted.[3]

I’m not sure how much attention I’ll pay to the analysis. But it appears that Labour’s manifesto was not more attractive to voters than the Tories’ certainty on Brexit.[4]

Having studied conservatism exhaustively for my dissertation,[5] if I had to boil it all down to a single word it would be this: hateful. In its various forms, conservatism hates the “other” and identifies with the powerful, utterly disdaining the weak. And this is what Britons have voted for.

William Booth, Karla Adam, and James McAuley, “U.K. election: Boris Johnson wins majority, while Jeremy Corbyn says he won’t lead another general election campaign,” Washington Post, December 12, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/uk-general-election-2019/2019/12/12/cc5ecb98-17ae-11ea-80d6-d0ca7007273f_story.html

Kieran Andrews, “UK election results: SNP landslide heralds battle over Scottish independence,” Times, December 13, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/uk-election-results-snp-sweep-to-landslide-victory-in-scotland-qxxjk3ss3

Jason Douglas and James Hookway, “Vote Raises New Questions About U.K.’s Future,” Wall Street Journal, December 13, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/vote-raises-new-questions-about-u-k-s-future-11576270316

Ian Graham, “In a first, Irish nationalists overtake unionists at UK election,” Reuters, December 13, 2019, https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-election-nireland-nationalist-idUKKBN1YH0LK

Sam Knight, “Boris Johnson Wins, and Britain Chooses the Devil It Knows,” New Yorker, December 13, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-the-uk/boris-johnson-wins-and-britain-chooses-the-devil-it-knows

Haroon Siddique, Andrew Sparrow, and Kevin Rawlinson, “UK general election 2019: Tories secure majority as Corbyn says he won’t lead Labour into next election – live news,” Guardian, December 13, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/live/2019/dec/12/general-election-2019-uk-live-labour-tories-corbyn-boris-johnson-results-exit-poll


Armenia

As near as I have been able to determine, the resolution passed by the Senate[6] is correct. As David Fromkin puts it,

There are historians today who continue to support the claim of Enver and Talaat that the Ottoman rulers acted only after Armenia had risen against them. But observers at the time who were by no means anti-Turk reported that such was not the case. German officers stationed there agreed that the area was quiet until the deportations began.[7][8]

Zachary Basu, “Senate passes Armenian genocide bill in move likely to infuriate Turkey,” Axios, December 12, 2019, https://www.axios.com/armenian-genocide-resolution-senate-turkey-1931783f-88e2-41c8-a488-91d9049be529.html


 

  1. [1]Haroon Siddique, Andrew Sparrow, and Kevin Rawlinson, “UK general election 2019: Tories secure majority as Corbyn says he won’t lead Labour into next election – live news,” Guardian, December 13, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/live/2019/dec/12/general-election-2019-uk-live-labour-tories-corbyn-boris-johnson-results-exit-poll
  2. [2]William Booth, Karla Adam, and James McAuley, “U.K. election: Boris Johnson wins majority, while Jeremy Corbyn says he won’t lead another general election campaign,” Washington Post, December 12, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/uk-general-election-2019/2019/12/12/cc5ecb98-17ae-11ea-80d6-d0ca7007273f_story.html
  3. [3]Verity Bowman, Henry Bodkin, and Tony Diver, “General election 2019 live: Result ‘too close to call’ as voting continues – latest news,” Telegraph, December 12, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/12/12/general-election-2019-vote-news-exit-polls-results-live-latest/; Joe Roberts, “‘Longest queues ever’ as people stand in line around the block to vote,” Metro, December 12, 2019, https://metro.co.uk/2019/12/12/longest-queues-ever-people-stand-line-around-block-vote-11771760/
  4. [4]Haroon Siddique, Andrew Sparrow, and Kevin Rawlinson, “UK general election 2019: Tories secure majority as Corbyn says he won’t lead Labour into next election – live news,” Guardian, December 13, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/live/2019/dec/12/general-election-2019-uk-live-labour-tories-corbyn-boris-johnson-results-exit-poll
  5. [5]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  6. [6]Zachary Basu, “Senate passes Armenian genocide bill in move likely to infuriate Turkey,” Axios, December 12, 2019, https://www.axios.com/armenian-genocide-resolution-senate-turkey-1931783f-88e2-41c8-a488-91d9049be529.html
  7. [7]Ulrich Trumpener, Germany and the Ottoman Empire 1914-1918 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968), p. 203.
  8. [8]David Fromkin, A Peace to End All Peace (New York: Owl, 1989).

Boris Johnson, the black marketeer

Brexit

We still don’t really know what Boris Johnson’s allegedly generous offer to the European Union was. But what we’re seeing now[1] certainly fits a pattern of seeking to blame the EU for any failure to reach a deal. But the Europeans have every reason to suspect that what Johnson seeks would create a pathway for a black market, which is precisely why the Irish backstop is so contentious.[2] And as we learned with Saddam Hussein, black markets can be incredibly lucrative for those who facilitate them, which leads to me to suspect that this is in fact Johnson’s plan.

Owen Bennett and James Crisp, “Fury as EU demands more Brexit concessions,” Telegraph, October 13, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/10/13/fury-eu-demands-brexit-concessions/


Catalonia

Pamela Rolfe and James McAuley, “Spanish Supreme Court sentences Catalan separatists to prison, sparking protests,” Washington Post, October 14, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/spanish-supreme-court-sentences-catalan-separatists-to-jail/2019/10/14/a0590366-ee59-11e9-89eb-ec56cd414732_story.html


Jeff Bezos

Charles Duhigg, “Is Amazon Unstoppable?” New Yorker, October 10, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/10/21/is-amazon-unstoppable

Franklin Foer, “Jeff Bezos’s Master Plan,” Atlantic, November 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/11/what-jeff-bezos-wants/598363/


Kurdistan

I guess Donald Trump did an oopsie.

Tobias Hoonhout, “U.S. Set to Impose New Sanctions on Turkey in Response to Syria Incursion: Report,” National Review, October 14, 2019, https://www.nationalreview.com/news/u-s-set-to-impose-new-sanctions-on-turkey-in-response-to-syria-incursion-report/

Saleha Mohsin, Jennifer Jacobs, and Ryan Beene, “U.S. Urges Immediate Cease-Fire in Syria as It Sanctions Turkey,” Bloomberg, October 14, 2019, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-10-14/u-s-sanctions-turkey-after-trump-opened-way-for-move-into-syria


  1. [1]Owen Bennett and James Crisp, “Fury as EU demands more Brexit concessions,” Telegraph, October 13, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/10/13/fury-eu-demands-brexit-concessions/
  2. [2]Karla Adam and William Booth, “Could Boris Johnson’s ‘no-deal’ Brexit break up the United Kingdom?” Washington Post, July 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/could-boris-johnsons-no-deal-brexit-crack-up-the-united-kingdom/2019/07/29/b871ebac-b1e6-11e9-acc8-1d847bacca73_story.html; Daniel Boffey, “However you look at it, the logic of a Brexit backstop refuses to yield,” Guardian, June 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/24/however-look-logic-brexit-backstop-refuses-to-yield-irish; British Broadcasting Corporation, “Irish deputy PM Coveney: No deal Brexit would mean customs checks in Ireland,” July 21, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/av/uk-politics-49062367/irish-deputy-pm-coveney-no-deal-brexit-would-mean-customs-checks-in-ireland; Amanda Ferguson and William Booth, “Northern Ireland’s politicians don’t agree on much. Except that Boris Johnson’s no-deal Brexit would be a disaster,” Washington Post, July 31, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/northern-irelands-politicians-dont-agree-on-much-except-that-boris-johnsons-no-deal-brexit-would-be-a-disaster/2019/07/31/c209affa-b2eb-11e9-acc8-1d847bacca73_story.html; Peter Foster and Camilla Tominey, “Boris Johnson warned that ‘no deal’ Brexit will require return of ‘direct rule’ in Northern Ireland,” Telegraph, July 26, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/07/26/boris-johnson-warned-no-deal-brexit-will-require-return-direct/; Katy Hayward, “Can technology and ‘max fac’ solve the Irish border question? Expert explains,” Conversation, May 23, 2018, http://theconversation.com/can-technology-and-max-fac-solve-the-irish-border-question-expert-explains-96735; Conor Humphries, “Irish PM says hard Brexit would raise issue of Irish unification,” Telegraph, July 27, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-eu-ireland-nireland-idUSKCN1UL280; Séamas O’Reilly, “Hard Brexiters’ stance on the Irish border is nonsense – I can tell you, I grew up there,” Guardian, August 7, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/07/northern-ireland-hard-border-brexit-customs; Kate Proctor, “Irish border after Brexit – all ideas are beset by issues says secret paper,” Guardian, September 2, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/02/irish-border-after-brexit-all-ideas-beset-by-issues; Steven Swinford and Henry Zeffman, “Backstop protects stability in Ireland, Macron tells PM,” Times, August 22, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/find-an-alternative-to-irish-backstop-and-brexit-deal-is-possible-angela-merkel-tells-boris-johnson-dmtfzf9gz

Catalonia is still occupied territory, Daily Bullshit, December 22, 2017

Catalonia

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy loses an election he forced, after violently disrupting an election and deposing the duly elected government in Catalonia, to try to quell the secession movement. But he continues to insist on “the constitution,”[1] which probably means he is unwilling to consider revising that constitution to allow for secession.

Sam Jones and Stephen Burgen, “Catalan pro-independence parties keep their majority in snap poll,” Guardian, December 22, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/21/catalonia-election-set-to-give-victory-to-pro-independence-parties


Taxes

Yesterday, it was Masha Gessen on a cabinet meeting following passage of the tax bill.[2] But it seems there was more to come.[3] Both are writing for the New Yorker, a publication I treated as functionalist conservative in my dissertation.[4] So while I have no argument with their criticism and indeed share their disquiet, I would point out that it is part of an ongoing functionalist conservative critique of an authoritarian populist president.

John Cassidy, “The Republican Grovelling at the White House Was an Alarm Call for 2018,” New Yorker, December 22, 2017, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-republican-grovelling-at-the-white-house-was-an-alarm-call-for-2018


Katharine Graham

I don’t expect to point to a neoconservative movie review very often. This one[5] is completely unexpected for me. It’s worth a read.

Amy Henderson, “In ‘The Post’ Katharine Graham Finally Gets Her Due,” Weekly Standard, December 22, 2017, http://www.weeklystandard.com/in-the-post-katharine-graham-finally-gets-her-due/article/2010932


  1. [1]Sam Jones and Stephen Burgen, “Catalan pro-independence parties keep their majority in snap poll,” Guardian, December 22, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/21/catalonia-election-set-to-give-victory-to-pro-independence-parties
  2. [2]Masha Gessen, “The Most Frightening Aspect of Trump’s Tax Triumph,” New Yorker, December 21, 2017, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-most-frightening-aspect-of-trumps-tax-triumph
  3. [3]John Cassidy, “The Republican Grovelling at the White House Was an Alarm Call for 2018,” New Yorker, December 22, 2017, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-republican-grovelling-at-the-white-house-was-an-alarm-call-for-2018
  4. [4]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  5. [5]Amy Henderson, “In ‘The Post’ Katharine Graham Finally Gets Her Due,” Weekly Standard, December 22, 2017, http://www.weeklystandard.com/in-the-post-katharine-graham-finally-gets-her-due/article/2010932