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Why is the Right So Dumb?

Why is the Right So Dumb?

Nothing about the decline of conservatism is quite as shocking as its crass stupidity. Every week brings a new low. Last year GOP Congressman Mo Brooks claimed that sea level rise was caused by rocks falling in the ocean. That seemed bad, but then this year he read a passage from Mein Kampf on the House floor while referring to the “Mewler” Investigation. Former Congressman Michele Bachmann described Trump as the most Biblical President in our history. Nice, polite, “sane” Republican Ben Sasse, promoted a Senate Bill to ban a mythical medical procedure, along the way threatening to undermine the health care of real women in the real world. While the rest of the country pores over the shocking revelations in the Mueller Report, Fox News is somehow still talking about Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Its bigotry, callousness and greed were all evident at the margins even when the conservative movement was at its zenith. Now, in its ugly, violent death-throes what emerges is the brain-dead cultishness of zombies, debasing themselves before a low-rent charlatan, selling off the last fading chunks of their souls to hold off the reckoning for one more month, one more week, one more hour. So far, they are winning.

Their apparent stupidity is a product of desperation. Ideas at the heart of conservatism in the US and Europe are in comprehensive, systemic failure. Nationalism, laissez faire economics, and systems of monolithic cultural supremacy have ceased to deliver success. Money and power now accompany pluralism, cognitive diversity, science, globalism and trade. There is only one hope for those who can’t live in a world without white supremacy and a white Christian religious order – extract their country from the global order by any means necessary.

Republicans have embraced the enforced stupidity of the cult as a defense against a rising new world. Only with their eyes closed and their ears plugged can they continue to live in the only environment that makes sense to them. Adaptation is painful and challenging, and these are very lazy people, grown soft and weak in a world quietly groomed to favor them.

From Brexit to Trump and beyond, the right’s embrace of cult logic is an important signal. They are telling us that they’re not invested in a political order aimed at achieving common goals. Conservatives across the globe have embraced the logic of the suicide bomber. They will destroy a nascent new order even if they must burn down their own home, and yours.

A healthy democracy is built on consensus. No consensus is possible with people who have rejected the evidence of empirical reality. You can’t build the future in cooperation with those convinced that their gut feel carries as much weight as forty years of climate science. Without an agreed basis in measurable facts, there is no foundation on which to build coalitions.

Republicans aren’t stupid. They’ve merely ranked their priorities in a manner that places your future in jeopardy. Their preference for an antiquated order favoring their interests over all others requires them to disregard the evidence of science and the senses, systematically blocking others from discovering that evidence. That’s not stupidity, it’s cult discipline.

By doing so, Republicans have ‘left the building,’ no longer engaged in the shared work of building our common future. They are committed to their own, very narrow interests at the expense of all others. Our efforts to reason with them will result in nothing but losses.

It would be wise to abandon hope of returning to an older political order and embrace the disruption that looms ahead. A political purge is coming. The only uncertainty is who will lead it. Republicans are determined and willing, but relatively weak. Democrats still hold almost all of the real power, but they keep giving ground by sheer reluctance to face unwelcome realities.

If we want to see this transformation accomplished through mostly peaceful, electoral processes, we have to be willing abandon the pursuit of bi-partisanship. We are in a winner-take-all battle, whether we want it or not. Win elections, then use that power to force changes without concern for the opposition. Remove the judges appointed by a illegitimate President. Abandon the filibuster rule in the Senate. Recognize that change achieved through forceful legislative action is our only alternative to change achieved through far more forceful methods. Break the rules of the old order to build a new one.

Fail, and Republicans will finish building the Kleptocratic post-democracy they’ve half-constructed. The camps that today house little migrant children guilty of the crime of seeking asylum will be repurposed. When someone tells you who they are, believe them the first time. Your enemies on the right aren’t dumb, they just aren’t willing to be bound by our rules, and measurable facts. They’ll build their own future for all of us if we let them.


  1. I watched the entire Barr hearing today. I came away convinced that the “right” is not dumb; they are not nice; and they play better political chess than Dems. I like Dems better, they are nicer people, I agree with their platform (mostly), but they are getting their heads handed to them when they should be winning. At least that’s what it looks like to me. I know it’s early in the big scheme of things but it seems to me some critical decisions have to be reached and fast or this whole thing is going to slip away from the Democrats, and the consequences are too awful to consider.

    What’s next? Trump has already said he was going to ignore all subpoenas. Dems should jail anyone who doesn’t show up. And, I’m not talking about a “nice” jail. Mueller must be compelled to testify, which DOJ will try to block. He must come forward on his own if necessary for the sake of the American people and to defend his work. Barr denigrated him today which insults all his work and that of his team.
    He referred to Mueller’s letter as “snitty” and Mueller himself as Rosenstein evidently was a mole within the Trump organization all along. Sad. I want Dems to file a contempt charge against Barr then impeach him.

    I think Warren has got this just right: begin impeachment inquiry into Trump and let whatever happen, happen. To have Barr and Trump and the GOP thumb their noses at America’s democratic institutions cannot be allowed to go unanswered. Yes, I realize the risk that it plays into the Trump re-election strategy, but what if it backfires on them? If Dems don’t act, they are wimps; if they do act and it helps Trump, they may lose the presidency to him again and America will not survive. If they do their jobs well, they may mobilize enough Americans to vote that they can take all three branches of government in 2020. This is hard but the gauntlet has been thrown and it has to be answered. Barr’s arrogance was the final nail in his coffin.

    I’d really appreciate hearing your views. First, read this piece in the Guardian. I’m worried that Democracy is going to lose here even though so much wrong has been committed and it makes me angry and sad.

    1. Sorry – messed up my thought referencing Barr’s comments about Mueller. Barr referred to the tone of Mueller’s letter (following Barr’s exoneration of Trump in his summary of the MR) as “snitty” and when asked about Mueller’s work, referred to him as “Just a prosecutor”. Bear in mind that Barr has zero experience as a prosecutor. I fully expect (and hope) that Mueller and members of his legal team will get pissed enough and care enough about the coverup that is being perpetrated that they will appear before Congress and tell it all. It was demoralizing to watch and know that republicans, trump, Barr et al intend to ignore all constitutional and traditional jurisprudence and procedures to block Democrats from performing oversight.

      1. Staying up late has its benefits. I watched Rachel Maddow interview Hillary Clinton tonight about not only today’s Barr hearing, but the entire sordid mess. She was eloquent and measured, and, as always, smart and articulate. If you can, the interview is worthy of hearing.

        The second surprise is this positive piece by Neal Katyal, who wrote the Special Counsel Regulations in 98/99. He obviously sees the glass as half-full whereas my view is trending towards half-empty. Regardless, he published an OpEd in the NYT tonight, entitled: “Why Barr Can’t Whitewash the Mueller Report”. Read it because it’s smartly written and because it’s more hopeful than I am capable of being at present.

      2. As I stated below – the Democrats must start playing real hardball. Historically, the Democrats have not had the will to throw real knock-em-back pitches or to slide in to base with their spikes high, to use baseball metaphors. Those tactics may not be nice, but the Republicans only understand those tactics. We are in a real bar-room brawl here, with a bunch of major league bullies and street fighters. Plus those kind of tactics are what builds the respect of the white, male blue collar worker. The ones that the Republicans have lied to for many years.

        Some of America’s best Presidents have been willing to engage in those type of tactics – Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. To be sure they were subtle about it, but they did play hardball.

      3. Kamala Harris did a pretty good job of throwing punches….And, Warren has been tough and early in her support to initiate impeachment. As Hillary Clinton stated tonight (great interview), Democrats need to do two things (at the same time): Continue to legislate and initiate impeachment proceedings. IOW, walk and chew gum at the same time. Girls can do this – can boys? More importantly, will they?

      4. Re: Democrats playing “hardball” – I think in many cases you need different Democrats in Congress to get that particular result. Kamala Harris did a nice job yesterday but it would be nice if more Democrats who are not running for president would grow a spine.

    2. CNN has done a nice piece detailing why and how the tyrant is now untouchable by Congress. The AJ has just demonstrated that the Congress has no power over anything, if the tyrant, senate, and judiciary work together. Dragging the AJ in handcuffs before Congress today would have been the smartest thing the Dem’s could have done, but they caved on that.

      The coup is complete folks. I have to had it to these guys. They have shown how fragile democracy was in the U.S., and these guys moved every single lever perfectly to take over the country.

      But you keep on hoping and praying.

      Keep planning for 2020, because the next 20 months are fait accompli, and by then, any democratic institutions that you folks believe will save the country will be so shredded that they will be of zero use stopping this monster. They can’t stop him now, so why on earth would anyone have faith in them 18 months from now?

      And WX Wall, I guess the incredibly low bar of feebly protesting anything the tyrant wants to do while he does it is all the Dem’s have left. You talked about how the Congress is stymieing his agenda now….uh….no. Let’s see how that works out with immigration, or Iran, or Venezuela, or trade, or the WTO, or the World Bank, or gerrymandering, or Israel, or anything else of consequence from now on.

      Chris laid out a 3 part plan to stop the tyrant. Only problem is only one of the 3 parts are in place now, all, 3 parts have to be in place simultaneously, and looks exceedingly slim they ever will.

  2. I’ve been travelling for two weeks and haven’t followed Politcal Orphans. I’ve just read Chris’ last two posts. I have a couple comments:

    1. In the last post, regarding transience, he mentions that in some locations there is consideration being given to limiting the power of local governments and transferring it to the state level. I’ve thought for some time that the only method of tackling some of the major issues confronting America is to further increase the power of the Federal Government and to nationalize some of the governance powers historically exercised by state and local governments. Some of those are limiting the power of the Senate and the judiciary, in favor of transferring power to the House and the President. Those are the only national democratically elected institutions we have. But the House is compromised by the power of the local state governments to set the electoral criteria and the redistricting. Similarly the presidency is compromised by the Electoral College, and the lack of popular representation in the Senate.

    2. These thoughts lead to the second comment, touched on in the comments for this post. The undemocratic institutions must be bypassed by various means. Those include the Senate, SCOTUS, and the Electoral College. The power of the Senate could be reduced by elimination of the Filibuster and other procedural moves including transferring the power of confirmation to the House, imposing term limits, and others. The House needs to take charge of budgetary matters. The Constitution and the founders anticipated that Budgetary matters would be controlled by the House – not the Senate or the Presidency. Judiciary terms need to be imposed (I personally like 18 year terms). Another required reform would be to impose common standards for all federal elections, so that there is no gerrymandering, and no voter suppression – HR 1 is a good start. Other reforms are required.

    In the UK, the House of Lords blocked all progressive moves, until early in the 20th Century when the Prime Minister in conjunction with King Edward were able to break the throttle hold of the Lords, by threatening to appoint a sufficient number of Lords to ensure that a majority would pass the necessary legislation. The US needs to take similar actions. Chris mentions some of those. Once the logjam is broken, progressive measures can be taken. FDR used similar tactics, such as the threat to pack the Supreme Court. But to do that, solid progressive majorities and the will to play hardball are required in the House, the Senate and the Presidency.

    Thus, as Chris has stated, the next two federal elections, 2020 and 2022 are going to be especially important. Progressive reforms need to be enacted. If they are not, I am personnally fearful that the US may not survive as a unified nation.

  3. When I think about what I don’t like about the GOP, there’s plenty to object to. The dog whistle racism/misogyny was bad, and the new dog contrabass trombone version is no better. The supply-side economics is an insult to one’s intelligence. The saber rattling has caused so much pain and misery (I don’t excuse the Dems who went along, but there’s more responsibility on the GOP for the Iraq debacle). But the thing that offends me most is their war on science (that’s getting personal).

    So yesterday I took advantage of an opportunity to do something about my #1 gripe, as early voting for local elections is on, and who’s on the school board matters for proper science education. I was always diligent about voting for the federal and state offices, but my city voting record was once sporadic. Part of it was a lack of competition in many of the races. 5 or 6 years ago I mended those ways and started to pay more attention to the city and county elections. It’s nice that the Dems are also making an effort now to field candidates.

    1. Good for you Fly. Republicans figured out years ago with Operation Red Map that building from them local level up through state levels would give them the keys to the safe. This allowed them to gerrymander election districts that has locked in district wins regardless of voting plurality. Chris has advocated grassroots organization in several posts because it works.

    2. Earlier this week, I attended a SBISD candidates forum. There are 7 trustee positions. Only one position is contested. Only 3 candidates appeared. And only 3% of eligible residents vote.

      It was a rushed affair. Many more questions were submitted by the audience than were addressed.

      The questions were kinda of rah-rah and responses were full of edu jargon.

      My question concerned climate change and how they thought it should be addressed in their curricula.

      Because I have no children in the school district, I hear nothing from them ever, except for their annual dun.

      I’m going to work on this.

  4. Chris, these are your words: ” Remove the judges appointed by a illegitimate President.”
    Exactly how is that done?

    As far as I can tell, to impeach a sitting federal judge, and that includes SCOTUS, requires the same procedure as impeaching a president. And also, as far as I can tell, that is the only legal way to remove a federal judge, with a lifetime appointment. Given that the Dem’s will never, ever get a 2/3’s majority in the Senate, how do you propose removing these “for life” appointees.

    The language you are using sounds awfully close to the language I use, and we all know how that language is received by you and your readers.

    So I ask again, “How, precisely, would you ” Remove the judges appointed by a illegitimate President.”

    As far as I can tell, there is only one way.

    1. First you engage in the standard procedure, which will fail.

      Then you start to use Congress’ Article III power’s over the structure and organization of the judiciary. For example, congress can create courts of specialized jurisdiction – tax courts, commercial courts, etc.

      Create new categories of specialization, with little relevance to anything, and re-assign Trump judges (not prior GOP-appointed judges) into those courts, thereby neutralizing them. Congress can do this on a straight majority vote and apparent from a Presidential veto, no one can do anything about it.

      If you really want to play hardball, create many more new categories of non-article III courts and grant them broad jurisdiction over key matters. These non-ArtIII institutions can have rules that Congress makes up entirely on the fly, including limited terms, etc.

      Then appoint another 500 or so new judges on a streamlined approval process, including four new Supreme Court appointments.

      Start the process of passing a constitutional amendment limiting federal judges to 14 year terms. That process will get a lot more attractive to the GOP once Democrats show the same commitment to the war of the judiciary that Republicans have brought.

      I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, there are a million levers available to pull that can have remarkable impact on politics, far more powerful than a gun. So far, we’ve all just lacked creativity and willpower.

      1. So Chris, to do what you propose, the Presidency has to be in the control of the Dem’s (to avoid the veto power), the House has to be in the control of the Dem’s (simple majority for Article III powers), and the Senate has to be in the hands of the Dem’s (once again a simple majority to appoint federal judges).

        Do I have that correct?

    2. I haven’t said anything so far, Dinsdale, about your constant exhortations to the rest of us to kill the people we oppose politically. I do notice that your stance is pretty much what my dear old Oklahoma dad used to describe as “Let’s you and him fight.” In a situation where the civic and civil institutions that hold off chaos are threadbare and barely holding together, your opinion that we resort to violence is despicable. But who knows, maybe one of these days I’ll read your name in the newspaper.

    3. So Dins,
      I’m going to treat your exhortations to violence seriously and tell you how things actually play out when using assassinations as a political tool. I hope to make you see that your fantasies of violence being the answer are no less deluded than the right wing militias running (usually very slowly, and out of breath) around in the forest and thinking the same thing.

      First, I’ll grant you one point. In all of history, I can think of one assassination that accomplished its goal: Booth shooting Lincoln. The abolitionist Republicans were about to do to the South what any victor does to their conquest, especially in the 1800s when “civility” was in far less supply. Namely, they would probably have hanged every confederate soldier, confiscated every penny from the plantation owners, and redistributed their land to our actual allies, the newly freed black slaves.

      But Booth changed that. With a single bullet, he gave control of the federal govt to Democratic sympathizers, who promptly went about undoing our victories. As the saying goes, the North won the war, but the South won the peace. And that’s thanks to Booth.

      Here’s a great (in typical deadpan dark humor fashion) War Nerd article about assassinations being like the ultimate HR department:

      His bottomline is that for an assassination to be successful, you have to balance the costs of the assassination vs. who is the guy that will replace your target if you’re successful. His side point, is that generally speaking, an individual life is not worth taking. Because one single person doesn’t make a movement. Kill one person, without understanding who will replace him, and usually you’ve wasted a bunch of effort for nothing.

      So here’s what happens in the real world: when someone kills their political opponent, you not only mobilize your opponents with rage, you horrify many of your nominal supporters who begin to distance themselves from you. Maybe you motivate your own group of hard-core followers. But that’s usually swamped by the other effects. And in the end, what usually happens is that whomever you kill gets replaced with someone even more hardcore, with far broader support, while your position, forever tainted by the association with the assassination, becomes hard to even bring up in polite company, nevermind be a part of the national debate.

      To take an example: You’ll recall the British were planning to divide India, and there was much debate over how to structure protections for Muslim minorities vs. the Hindu majority. Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu nationalist who thought Gandhi was giving up too much to the Muslims. If there was ever a movement that relied on one man, it was Indian independence. So what happened? The exact opposite of what the assassin wanted. He was hanged. India was still partitioned. Secularists consolidated their power off a wave of sympathy. Muslims in India got incredible protections (going so far as to allow a separate civil and criminal penal code based on Sharia that other religious groups don’t have access to). And his political backers, a party called the RSS, was driven underground due to the outrage, to the point that it took 60+ years before you could even talk about Hindu concerns without being immediately dismissed because “those freaks shot Gandhi”. The so-called Hindutva movement was set back for decades and the assassination backfired spectacularly. (Note, I’m not necessarily supporting those guys. But speaking strictly in terms of strategy, those guys committed a major blunder by killing Gandhi). Heck, part of the reason Gandhi is so revered is precisely because, once he was killed, no one could credibly critique his political actions (there’s a lot of stuff that Gandhi did wrong, or was politically naive about, much of which is being re-evaluated these days. But for >50 years, you couldn’t do anything but genuflect in front of him). His assassin succeeded not only in furthering Gandhi’s goals and setting back his own, but martyring Gandhi ensured that no one would ever be able to question his goals / methods / ideals again.

      Another example: every time some wacko kills an abortion doctor, the anti-abortion movement takes a huge step back, to the point that even the most militant groups among them have to issue painful statements that they condemn the shootings, and then dial down their own protests. Whenever the anti-abortion movement becomes associated with nutjobs killing doctors, the pro-choice movement wins. Which is why they gave up those tactics decades ago, and focused on the boring but much more successful tactic of engaging the political process to pass a bunch of laws restricting access. That decades-long drudgery of wading through local, state, and federal politics, has paid dividends far in excess of whatever those doctor shootings ever did (Which was actually a net negative).

      Want another example: Gabrielle Giffords, Congresswoman from AZ was shot in 2011 (along with 18 others) during a campaign event by a pro-gun activist. She nearly died. And the aftermath? It forced Sarah Palin to stop using a cross-hairs on her political posters, and forced her to tone down her rhetoric and spend time denying that her advocacy for gun rights had any responsibility for this assassination attempt. Something no gun-control advocate has ever been able to do.

      Is this the result you want, Dins? Because I assure you, taking Trump out by any means except the ballot box (and perhaps impeachment) will lead to blowback so severe that we’ll all wish Trump was alive and well instead.

      NB: This is also why those militia guys are doing the exact opposite of what they should do if they want to overthrow a government. Generally speaking, a government is overthrown when the government orders its military to shoot [some segment of] its own civilians, and the military refuses. Once that happens, there’s usually a military coup, or your opposition realizes you’re powerless and storms your house, pulls you naked from bed, and parades you down the streets in shackles.

      So how do you get soldiers, indoctrinated since basically childhood to never disobey an order, to refuse to shoot? By showing them your humanity. By showing them that you and he are the same and that you pose no threat to him, so why is he killing you? For most soldiers, it is very, very hard to shoot an unarmed person, more so if it’s his fellow countryman, moreso if you’re standing in front of him, asking him not to shoot you, fully understanding that he has the power to do so at any minute, showing trust in his humanity and mercy. Do you know what makes it easy for a soldier to shoot you? Point a gun at him and threaten to kill him. He’ll have no problems mowing you down even if you were his neighbor who used to get beers with him.

      Which is why those militia guys are idiots. You want a soldier to not fire at you (especially a well-trained American one)? You put your hands up and stand motionless in front of him. You want them to call in a drone strike that can vaporize your entire stash of weapons? Wave a rifle around and shout threatening slogans at him. And at the end of the day, it’s far easier to overthrow a government by getting the military on your side, not by trying to defeat the military with your own puny weapons and poor training.

      I would argue assassinations are the same. Killing someone only consolidates his power base around a new leader. Better to attack the power base until the leader is left with nothing but himself and his deluded few supporters.

      So let’s play this out Dins (if Chris will allow it on his forum :-): what happens if some guy takes on your wish? Because here’s what I see. Trump becomes a martyr. Pence takes over vowing to “carry on the work of our great leader, PBUH”. Hiding under the sympathy wave, the Senate immediately passes every bill Trump ever sent them, along with every judicial nomination. The Democrats in the House, cowed by the national uproar and fury, pass everything as well, for fear of being labelled co-conspirators to the assassination. The FBI labels Occupy Wall St. a terrorist organization. AOC resigns and goes into hiding due to threats on her life from Trump supporters seeking revenge. The investigations into Russian influence stop cold, allowing them free reign to influence the 2020 election. The right-wing wackos turn out in full force in 2020, around someone vowing to avenge Trump’s slaying by immortalizing every one of his policy pronouncements, and more. Meanwhile, progressives pull their punches rather than risk being dismissed as in the same camp as the anti-fa wackos who killed Trump. For decades hence, Republicans will get stuff passed by saying “It’s what Trump would have wanted” and “Do it for the Donald!”.

      So that’s what I think would happen with any attempt to solve this with violence. And, if you look at history with a clear eye, I believe you’ll see it agrees with me. So tell me why my scenario is less likely than yours? And why we should even risk my scenario rather than doing the hard work of engaging with the political process which has proven time and time again to pay dividends?

      1. edit: As I type this, I see that Rosenstein has now resigned. Wanna bet on the type of person who will replace him?

        I would like to state that what triggered your response and others was me asking Chris how to legally remove a federal court judge, because I did not see one. He provided an answer, though one that needs an awful lot of tumblers to click, hence extremely unlikely.
        Given my past statements, you making assumptions on the intent of my question, though wrong, are completely understandable.

        But given that you want to go down this path of talking in the abstract and through the lens of history, I will do so as well. I certainly concede to you everything you said about India.


        The guys involved with Operation Valkyrie had a different opinion than you.
        Multiple (read as all virtually all) U.S. administrations had a different view than you with regard to Castro.
        Obama had a different view than you with regard to Bin Laden.
        The Mossad has had a far different view than you for a long long time.
        Putin has a different view than you.
        The IRA had a different view than you.

        And as for your scenario about blowback, sorry, don’t buy it, or at least not all of it.
        Speaking strictly in the abstract:

        First off, no one in the Repub party, or whatever it has morphed into, has the charisma and ability to do divide/play to the the fascist base as the tyrant does. I truly consider him an idiot savant, albeit an evil idiot savant. The sound and fury would become muted fairly quickly.

        Secondly, the Senate is jamming through everything they want anyway, regardless of who is in the Oval Office. mcConnell is another evil genius.

        Thirdly, though I completely agree that a ton of Democratic leaders would have targets on their backs, to suggest the FBI would start labelling Occupy Wall Street a terrorist group is silly, just as silly as suggesting that the Dem’s would curl up into a whimpering ball. You are fully aware of the divisiveness in the country. Would there be uproar and fury? You bet, from about 35%-40% of the population. The balance of the population, not so much.

        Consider what has happened in the past week or so:
        Tax returns: Ignore Congress.
        Unredacted Mueller Report: Ignore Congress.
        White House officials must answer questions in panel: Ignore Congress.

        You keep on saying “let the political process play out”.
        Turns out, “your political opponent” is not playing by the same rulebook you are.
        And that same political process allowed the tyrant to win in the first place. Further, that political process has taken broadside over broadside in the past 2 years, weakening it hugely. Yet you still have faith in it to stop what it did not 2 years ago. And yes, while the Dem’s took back the House, they lost ground in the Senate, the seat of power that is protecting the tyrant and setting the course of the judiciary for the next 40 years.

        So sorry, I don’t have the same faith in the political process you do. Get back to me in a few weeks, or month, when SCOTUS returns decisions about the tax returns, redacted report, et al.

      2. Dins-
        People can certainly have different opinions. Unfortunately, history has proven them all wrong. Let’s take them one by one, shall we?

        Operation Valkyrie – this one didn’t actually succeed, so who’s to say what it might have done?

        Castro – Yes, multiple administrations thought killing Castro would suddenly neutralize Cuba. Well, Castro is dead now. Maybe not assassinated, but still dead. I don’t see Cubans raising American flags and singing the Star Spangled Banner, do you?

        Bin Laden – Yep. We got him and all of a sudden, Iraqis miraculously became democrats and peace settled into every corner of the middle east. Wait, what’s that? That’s not how it went? We’re still fighting two wars there and no closer to leaving? Jeez. I guess killing bin Laden didn’t do much. Heck, even al-Qaeda is still alive and well.

        Mossad – Yes, they’ve killed plenty of Palestinians. Again, exactly what did those assassinations do to bring Israel and Palestine closer to peace?

        Putin – he’s leading a country that’s shrunk from a world power to a kleptocratic petro-state more dependent on the price of oil than any country out there. Again, if you think assassinations have helped Russia stay strong, umm… you have a very lenient definition of strong.

        IRA – funny you should mention them. Not sure if you read my War Nerd link, but here’s another that talks specifically about the IRA:

        tl;dr: the IRA specifically *did not* target people for assassinations, because they knew that doing so would backfire on their cause. Even their central London bombings were meticulously planned to avoid casualties. They wore down the Brits by disrupting their financial systems and making them feel insecure by demonstrating that they *could* bring havoc whenever they wanted to. And at the end of the day, they got most of their goals accomplished by political negotiation with the Brits, and the signing of the Good Friday Accords which normalized their entry into the political realm, allowing their political arm Sinn Fein to accomplish what the IRA by itself could not.

        So yes, plenty of people have the opinion that assassinations help. Including people in power who should know better. It’s an easy opinion to have, because it seems like such a simple solution to a complex problem. Unfortunately, it’s nearly always wrong. Even with the examples you’ve provided, I see no evidence that the death of an opponent led to any advancement of the assassin’s goals. Do you? I’d genuinely like to know what benefit killing bin Laden has had for solving our middle eastern quagmire. From where I sit, I’ve seen no benefit except for a few days of chest-thumping and USA! USA! chanting. After which, our wars there continue to grind on with no resolution in sight.

        And you dismiss the Dems taking the House as something inconsequential, mainly because it directly contradicts your dismissal of the political process. The rest of the country did exactly what Chris has been advocating: join the political process, turn out the vote, etc. And we captured the House. Yes, the Senate was a disappointment. But having the House has been *huge*. Most of Trump’s policies were set in place in the first 2 years. He has been largely stymied in actual policy goals since the House turned blue. The fact that we don’t need to care about Trump’s policies anymore, and can focus instead on how to get him out of office, is a massive improvement over the first two years where Paul Ryan and his crew were passing tons of stuff and the Senate was going along.

        All the stuff you mention is stuff located in the executive and judicial branches. You conveniently forget that the only reason we can focus on those issues now is because, thanks to the Dems taking the House, the legislative branch has been stopped in its tracks. We no longer need to talk about Obamacare being repealed (although the court decision on its individual mandate bears watching), or tax cuts for the rich, etc. All of those are victories that you willfully refuse to see because they were brought on by a tactic you despise, namely political participation.

        So yes. Despite your unwillingness to acknowledge it, retaking the House has made a massive difference in our country’s well-being already. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but I very much still stand by my argument that engaging in the political process is still a far more fruitful endeavor than pining away for some magical assassin to cure us of the ills we’re too lazy to fix ourselves.

      3. WX, you really should write more consistently. That was excellent.

        And Dins, let me be clear about something. Few things in life would make me happier than to see Donald J. Trump end his days just like his nearest peer, Il Duce, and for his family to spend the rest of their lives fleeing from one backwater bolthole to another until they finally face their Romanov end. That would be justice and it isn’t out of the question.

        However, random fantasists musing about violence do not produce these endings. They produce “lone wolf” mass incidents that leave people puzzling over what they were thinking and went wrong with that poor sot’s soul. “He seemed like a nice, quiet neighbor,” and so forth. It took twenty years for Mussolini to meet justice. Twelve for Hitler. Patience, engagement, determination and the ability to maintain a slow burn are the keys to destroying this regime. The way things look now, our work might not be over in the mid-twenties, as this fight will possibly continue beyond Trump’s administration and perhaps even his lifespan.

        You’re not helping. And if you want to hang out here, you need to keep a lid on it.

  5. Just some observations. We have three veterans in our church. They were members of elite combat forces or worked for the CIA. They have actually been in do or die situations and killed the enemy. All three are very liberal in thought and how they live their lives.

    I about roll on the floor in laughter when right wing gun nuts have fantasies how wrapped up in the American Flag will shoot them Libs and eliminate any thought except their thinking. They are literally scare of change and none I know have ever personally faced hardship or real danger. They falsely think only he men like them know how to use guns and can live off the land. Got news for them . Most of them are deluded and know nothing about any of that.

    I do not think it will get to arm Civil War. But we have to out vote the scaredy cats and save our way of life from Authoritarian rule. Ballots are better than bullets. The biggest factor between so called Progressive leaning and Conservative leaning is fear. I am sadden that so many of my conservative leaning friends and family are following a cult leader and willingly putting on the chains trying to enchain the rest of us. Looking to a strong man to save them from change. We are getting change regardless. I rather not have the old fashion feudalism that the extreme right is grabbing for. And I do not think most Trump cultist will like it at all.

    I laugh at the idea of progressives being snowflakes. It takes courage to make a stand. Particularly when you are not following the herd. The demographic change is coming ready or not. It is already here for our kids. And they are fine with it. We are going to ultimately win this battle.

    1. Sam Houston, Governor of the State of Texas, former President of the Republic of Texas, former Governor of Tennessee, warning his fellow citizens not to secede: “They [the Northerners] are not a fiery, impulsive people as you are, for they live in colder climates. But when they begin to move in a given direction, they move with the steady momentum and perseverance of a mighty avalanche.”

  6. We can’t fix stupid, so mobilizing new voters and previous non-voters is vital. Of course the GOP is going all out with their bag of dirty voter suppression tricks. But some good news on that battle front:

    This is what constant vigilance will get you. A pity about the wasted taxpayer $, but that’s all on the GOP for refusing to quit when they were obviously behind (which was when it became obvious that the list was poorly vetted). There’s one more little skirmish to go- the Dems need to deny Whitley’s confirmation as TX SecSt. If he had any decency he’d resign, but it looks like he’ll linger to the end of the session, then Abbott will have to appoint another interim SecSt. But I wouldn’t put it past Patrick to try to sneak in a confirmation vote if 2 Dems take a bathroom break at the same time.

    1. Proud that the League of Women Voters was a plaintiff and got some of the award for legal costs. At least some of the taxpayer settlement will go to the “good guys (and girls)!

      Apart from that, this little gambit will probably live on as “true” like most of the conservative aburdities that defy logic and fact-finding.

      I’m in total agreement about focusing on mobilization of non-voting Dems, Indies, core Dem volunteers and registering as many new voters as possible all over the United States….”all” voters, not just “republican voters in the most competitive districts in Harris County….(as touted in a recent Abbott campaign letter to his base).

      No equivocation. BS on deficits, emails in basements, socialism, being the “chosen” ones. As Chris states: this is hardball and there can only be one winner.

  7. Great post, Chris. My family have been leading edge for decades in radical “conservatism “, and i can tell you they live by the motto that sometimes you need to destroy a village to save it. They don’t care that they actually live in the village – they think they’re fire proof.

    1. You’re reminding me of that now infamous statement in the NYT from a woman in the FL Panhandle struggling to recover from the Hurricane Michael disaster- she expressed dissatisfaction with Trump, not because he wasn’t helping her enough, but because he wasn’t hurting the people she wanted him to hurt. Not that it will matter next election- the Dems aren’t going to hurt those people, so she’ll vote R again- but it supports Chris’ conclusion that it’s futile to attempt to reach out to some people, and it’s in our best interests to ID that chaff so that we can focus on the wheat. I do not wish harm on that woman and those like her, but I have zero sympathy to spare for her plight.

      1. An aside to your observation about the FL woman….read today that the FEMA “acting” Director (aren’t they all?) said Trump was right to reduce additional aid to Puerto Rico…that these people would be more incentivized if they have to do more on their own….I’m thinking maybe the good people of PR should hire a tug and pull the island right up against the gulf coast…not because it’s “safer” there, weather wise, but because walking the plank would be shorter to the mainland.

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