Plus ça Change . . .

Looking along my bookshelves last night, looking for a non-pharmeceutical distraction from one of my occasional (and mercifully now much less frequent) bouts of pain (it didn’t work, but I carried on reading it anyway) I picked out J. Fennimore Cooper’s last novel.

Why I have The Ways of the Hour, or how long I’ve had it, I can’t think; I have never read, nor really ever had any interest in even The Last of the Mohicans, though I suspect I was supposed to have read that in my last year of Junior School, along with others on a long list like Lorna Doone which I vaguely recall attempting and abandoning after half a dozen pages and near terminal boredom. Ditto anything by Walter Scott. Why books like those were supposed to have been a good literary preparation for an 10-11 year-old heading for Grammar School, god only knows.

Anyway, I came across this quite early on:

“Far more of the grave crimes of this country have, within the period named, been certainly committed by immigrants from Germany; whether the cause be in the reason given or in national character. This is not according to ancient opinion, but we believe it to be strictly according to fact.The Irish are clannish, turbulent and much disposed to knock each other on the head; but it is not to rob or pilfer but to quarrel. The Englishman will pick your pocket, or commit burglary, when inclined to roguery, and frequently has a way of extorting, in the way of vails*. The Frenchmen may well boast of their freedom from wrongs done to persons or property in this country; no class of immigrants furnishing to the prisons, comparatively, fewer criminals. The natives, out of all proportion, are freest from crime, if the blacks be excepted . . .”

It’s a peculiar novel, technically a murder mystery, but packed with aspersions on the right of women to be anything other than a subject chattel to the male—to the extent even that a central female character, with money in plenty of her own, a strong streak of individualism, cleverness, and an aversion to a bad marriage, is, at the end, dismissed as simply having inherited madness, to which an education in Europe is supposed to have strongly contributed—and the evils of elective office under the influence of an ill-educated mass. (Fennimore Cooper seems to have believed that the Anti-Rent Wars marked the end of the kind of a true Republic as it showed signs of becoming—oh horror!—something like a democracy.) Even criticism of journalism that merely seeks sensation regardless of truth and a stock market entirely motivated by greed. . . .

This was 1850, by the way.

  • A word I’d never come across. Apparently it’s an obsolete word for gratuities given to servants.

 

What would real non-collaboration be like?

From time to time it occurs to me that I’m a collaborator, that I play a small but essential part in the Trumpification of the country. Essential, in that I and millions of my ilk are as vital in our way to his success as is his base of supporters; “our way” being that we disapprove and complain but do nothing else, nothing effective.

My latest bout with this idea came from a discussion with a friend about the 1969 documentary film The Sorrow and the Pity. If you don’t know it it’s a French film about the German occupation. After its release it was discussed throughout France for months on end. It revealed, really for the first time, the extent to which the French mostly collaborated passively with the Germans and their sympathetic government in Vichy. Few people argued with its conclusions, and none of those who did convinced many people. The almost universal response was “This is terrible, but we didn’t know!” Yet among those who didn’t know were those now revealed to have been passive collaborators. How was this possible?

It was possible because most of those collaborators imagined that they had resisted. These were people who had fallen into a strange state during the war. Their world contracted to their families, their jobs, and a very few trusted friends. They did not actively collaborate. They ignored the Germans, they cut them dead on the street, and in their minds they were resisting. But they actually did nothing. After the war they told their children “Oh yes, we all did our own little bit to resist” and they mostly came to believe it. This is why they were so ready to accept the universal resistance myth that countless books and films had been spreading since the end of the war.

A friend of mine who had lived through the occupation as a teenage explained it like this: It’s not like people talked about it, you know! Sure, with your close family and your very closest friends, but not with anybody else. That would have been incredibly foolhardy – everyone knew that they were everywhere, everyone knew who some of them were (you could read it in their faces), but everyone also knew there were a lot more who would do anything for a few extra ration coupons.

To be sure, conditions during the occupation were very different than they are here today, Even talking against the government and especially against the Germans could get you shot – maybe even tortured and then shot. Nothing like that is going on here. Nobody has yet been stood against the wall. Not so in France. In the movies it failed to intimidate the populace. In reality it paralyzed almost everyone. That’s understandable, in a way that our own widespread paralysis is not.

The French passive collaborators have their counterparts today: me, for instance. In my mind I allow myself to believe I’m somehow opposing Trump. In fact I only disapprove of him mightily, which I’m sure is just fine with him. I tell myself that at least I haven’t put a “Resist!” bumper sticker on my car and pretended to myself that I’m thereby a hero of the Maquis – but what would change if I did fall for that silly idea?

I suppose that the biggest obstacle to becoming non-collaborators is genuine bewilderment about what actual and effective non-collaboration would be like. Write a check or two? Done that. Join a march? Sure. Work to get the vote out when and where you can? Of course, it goes without saying. Most of all, talk about it. And we do, till we’re blue in the face. But there comes a point where we ought to admit that we’re doing nothing effective. And maybe there really is nothing effective to be done, but I’m not quite ready to admit that. Not because I have any inkling about what that effective something might be, but simply because I do not want to be remembered as the passive collaborator that I well and truly am today.

So, once more: anybody have any ideas?

dominionism revisited

A suggestion has been made to provide links to the series on Dominionism which ran here back in the summer of 2011.

Fair enough;

June 27, 2011;  Dominionism, the groundwork.

June 28, 2011; Dominionism, growth.

June 30, 2011; Dominionism, agendas.

July 2, 2011; Dominionism, law.

July 6, 2011; Dominionism, zion.

There are additional posts which address the dominionism phenomenon in varying ways as and when specific events seemed to me to warrant it. Search for the term using the onboard search function and they’ll pop up.

There is also at least one article noting the fact that the MSM seemed, later that same summer of 2011,  to be waking up. There were some fairly detailed pieces by CNN and a few rather good pieces over at The Daily Beast by a writer whose name escapes me at the moment. There was also a flurry of attention paid to the New Apostolic Reformation and its association with Governor Goodhair back before he imploded as a presidential candidate.

Ah, remember those days, when a simple misstep or two could completely scupper a presidential candidacy?  A single episode of canoodling on a yacht (named “Monkey Business” no less!) with a women not your wife could, and did, do the trick.

Why recent developments—including the blatant theocratic tendencies of Pence, along with the spectacularly aggressively theocratic assertions of people like Roy Moore—have failed to refocus media attention upon these assholes is a good and lovely question.

It’s not as if they’ve gone anywhere, after all.

Indeed, a strong argument can be made for the assertion that they are substantially closer to their objectives in some very important ways right now than at any previous time in modern history.

Klambakes

Article in NYRB by Adam Hochschild, worth a look, about the rise of the Klan in the 1920s.

The Klan came back around the second time, started up by an Atlanta doctor named Simmons, who was inspired by Birth of a Nation, in 1915. But it didn’t really take off until a pair of hucksters got hold of him and his group and encouraged him to expand his audience by widening the range of targets for his hate-spew to include not only Afro-Americans but Jews, Catholics, immigrants, big city elites, and -this is the crucial bit- turn the operation into a money spinner, charging $10 to join and then flogging the faithful all kinds of official Klan merchandise (including of course those carefully-tailored and logo-emblazoned robes and hoods).  The hucksters, Elizabeth Tyler and Edward Clarke, got Simmons to sign a contract turning over to them personally 80% of all revenue, which earned them, in their first 15 months, the equivalent, these days, of 11 million dollars. Like Fox News, it was all about milking low hate for big $bucks$.

By 1924 there were 4 million paid up members. Who could buy Klan insurance, go to Klan Bible study, watch Klan car racing, send their kids to Klan summer camps, and yes, chow down at official Klambakes.

One of the biggest jumps in membership -of something like a million new members- surged only after The New York World published a pulitzer prize winning expose.

Business was run along the lines of a pyramid sceme, with a heirarchy of recruiters (Kleagles at the bottom, then King Kleagles, then Grand Goblins and so on) all keeping a cut of the dues. There was even a special section for Klan womenfolk: The Ladies of the Invisible Empire.

Trump’s red MAGA hats are just an updated version of those pointy hoods (his head masked by one of which, at Klan march through Queens on memorial day in 1927, his own father was arrested).

Lost in the Holiday – News Brief

Two items showed up in the news feeds on Wednesday, as we all prepared for Thanksgiving.

  1.  General Flynn is no longer cooperating on a common defense with Team Trump.
  2. Roy Moore’s communications director quit the campaign.

Then, over the weekend, the Odious Hairball both emitted his continuing support for Roy Moore, and also began to spew lies about his Access Hollywood tape, telling his chumps that it was faked.  He found time for this between golf rounds.

The regime are trying to focus on enacting some form of destructive package of ‘tax reform’, and to make any sort of other progress on what they want to enact.  They are installing some judges who will be a long term problem.  They are shutting down much of the Executive Branch (State, EPA, etc). But they remain stalled on many fronts, and now the midterms are underway.  In the states and districts with 2018 elections, the game is already afoot.

Until Dec. 12 the news will focus on that incredible sleaze bucket Moore, and on the Access Hollywood tape.

The wider sexual-misconduct scandals are not going away, either.

Uma Thurman is about to unload, big-time, on Weinstein.

One more item.  Outraged Realtors Demonstrated!!
Last week, a crowd of usually-conservative folks held a public demonstration at the district office of Rep. Kevin McCarthy, in Bakersfield, CA, a very conservative community.  They chanted.  They waved signs!  They made a fuss.

It’s about the House tax bill, which screws with the home mortgage deductions in a major way, among many other bad things.

I don’t think that any of this is good news for McConnell or Ryan.

 

Judge not that ye be Judged?

“We’ve got to remember that most of what we do in court comes from some Scripture or is backed by Scripture,” Moore said after taking the oath of office.

_____________________________________________________________________

“Take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus,” Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler told The Washington Examiner. “There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here. Maybe just a little bit unusual.”

(I thought it was a virgin giving birth to a child after being impregnated by the Holy Ghost that was ‘maybe just a little bit unusual’, but I must have read a different New Testament at Sunday School.)

I did, however, a little later, read the medieval Coventry Pageant, though what’s termed ‘Joseph’s Doubts’ appear in most of the ‘Mystery Play’ cycles:

“Forsooth, this child, dame,

Is not mine . . .

Tell me, woman, whose is this child?”

“No-one but yours, husband so mild . . .”

“Husband i’ faith, and that a-cold. . .

All old men, example take by me,

How I am beguiled here may you see,

To wed so young a child!”

_____________________________________________________________________

According to the Pew Research Center, 86 percent of Alabama residents identify as Christian, and 49 percent are evangelical. White evangelicals have become much more likely to say a person who commits an “immoral” act can behave ethically in a public role. In 2011, 30 percent of these evangelicals said this, but that shot up to 72 percent, according to a survey published last year by the Public Religion Research Institute.

(Well, they must be reading a version of ‘Render unto Ceasar. . .” or possibly “Let he who is without sin. . .” I didn’t get at Sunday School either.)

By the look of it, the best Republicans can do seems to be “Well, if it’s proved,  he should get lost.” But I understand that the time limit for any prosecution in Alabama is long, long gone.

Debbie Dooley, a co-founder of the Atlanta Tea Party, attended Moore’s rally with Sarah Palin in Montgomery, in September, and has campaigned for the former Alabama Chief Justice almost constantly since he won the Republican Senate primary … “I think the allegations are bullshit,” Dooley said; “All the story has accomplished is to galvanize the support of Roy Moore, which I already see happening on Facebook.” [New Yorker]

As a would-be president said, some people could go out on Park Avenue and open fire on the passers-by, and it wouldn’t make any damn difference.

Wow. Just, wow.

Yesterday, in elections around this great nation, in races at various levels:

In Virginia, Democrats won an overwhelming victory:

  • Northam was elected Governor by 54/46, in the face of a racist campaign scripted by Bannon at the end.
  • Democrats also won the Lt. Gov. and AG races.
  • A transgender candidate beat the bigot who wrote the state’s “bathroom law”.
  • Lee Carter, a Marine and Democratic Socialist, won his race.
  • They are still counting but Democrats flipped AT LEAST 14 seats in the House of Delegates, with five races too close to call, yet. (Their former standing was just 34 to 66.)  Just three more wins, of several still being counted, and they could have a majority.

In New Jersey, Chris Christie’s legacy is total control held by Democrats, going forward.

Washington State is now run by Democrats.  The Republicans lost their last bit of control in the State Senate.

Charlotte, NC elected its first Black mayor.

A transgender Black woman won a seat on the Minneapolis City Council.

A string of mayorships were won by new faces, mostly non-white, many female, in states all over the country.  It’s a long list.  Each one, was a loss by a Republican.

Voters in Maine approved ACA’s expansion of Medicaid in their state, by a 59 percent majority.  This had been repeatedly vetoed by their mentally disturbed Trump-fanboy, Gov. LePage.

Senator Sue Collins now has a very solid affirmation of her votes against the ACA’s repeal.

**

Back in January I posted news that various women’s advocacy groups were seeing a wave of new faces appearing for candidate-training sessions, all over the country, in response to Trump’s election.  Well, this first big test is validating that movement.

Those new faces, and others to appear soon for 2018, will provide a tsunami of new leadership.

2018 is looking to be a very very bad year for the Trump Gang and their political movement, and their nasty message of Fascism and racism.  The people of this great nation are rejecting them, at every level of politics.

Here in Nevada, the establishment GOP candidate for Governor, our AG Adam Laxalt, and our gutless wonder Senator Dean Heller, are already running campaign ads on TV, as of this past weekend.  This is not a sign of strength, a year out.  It is a sign of desperate weakness.  Their private polling must be disastrous.

And one final bit of good news:  the infamous Sharron Angle (remember her?) is challenging our state’s one Republican House Member, Mark Amodei, in his primary.  The Nevada news media are ecstatic.  She’s a hoot to report on, a laugh a minute!