Slack Chat: The Smallness of Bigotry

J: Speaking of rednecks….

What the GOP discharge petition means for DACA, Dreamers
Republican lawmakers are taking an unconventional route to address the future of so-called –

J: This is something that the Republican leadership absolutely does not want to happen. If the bill sponsored under the discharge petition passes the House and Senate, Trump is on the horns of an enema. He either has to sign the bill and piss off the aforementioned rednecks, or veto the bill and acknowledge that the GOP is, in fact, the problem on immigration and hand the Democrats a massive cudgel for the midterms.

Ryan is feverishly whipping people to vote against the petition. The petitioners need 25 Republicans to sign on to get the bill on the floor; so far they have 21 and the guy leading the effort (a Republican) says he has the votes, just hasn’t gotten the official signatures.
T: What is a discharge petition? I mean, I know all about it, but the (cough) readers would like to know (sniff).

J: A discharge petition is a parliamentary move that basically allows a group of representatives to make an end run around the leadership and bring a bill to the floor that the leadership doesn’t want to vote on. The group of representatives who are doing this are mostly from heavily Hispanic districts that Clinton carried in 2016; they need to show the folks back home that they are doing something about immigration issues.
The procedure is rarely used, I think only 25 times since the 1930s. But these are unusual times to say the least.

T: I think Ryan revealed his – and the entire GOP’s – poisonous lack of perspective in this passage. “Ryan voiced his disagreement on May 16, telling reporters discharge petitions are “a big mistake.” “They disunify our majority,” he said.” Mr. Ryan, let me be hopefully not the first person to remind you that you were sworn to protect the public, not your majority. When you tell the public to fuck off because helping them won’t protect your majority, you are not doing your job. You are committing the crime of, if not treason (I doubt it’s treason), at least dereliction of duty. If a hamburger cook decided protecting his bun supply was more important than putting buns on all the burgers, he’d get fired. And that’s what should happen to you. Honestly, I don’t think Ryan is intelligent enough to understand this, and I doubt his constituents or his co-congressmen are, either.

j: I think he understands it; I just don’t think he cares. It’s the ascendance of naked partisanship over doing the right thing. The right thing to do would be to give these people, who were involuntarily brought here as children, a path to citizenship. But that wouldn’t sit well with Trump’s redneck base, because ‘Murica. So Ryan throws up every procedural roadblock he can. (And to be clear, McConnell is no better.) But, at last, we have a group of Republicans who are feeling enough heat at home to buck Ryan and team up with the Democrats to advance this bill. If they succeed, we may see more of these on other issues.

T: Ryan doesn’t know he’s lost perspective. Nobody does, or they wouldn’t lose it. McConnell, I think, is closer to what you believe about Ryan – that he knowingly defies his own sworn duties – and that’s why I despise him and want to see him in prison, tossing salads for some rough trick named Jerome. Ryan ain’t all that smart, and he’s proven, time and time again, that he’s Nunesishly partisan. But he would not knowingly, consciously, screw over the public. He’s doing it because he lost his moral marbles, I think. He’s a Dick Tracy villain, not a batman villain. So to speak. I would rather see the whole immigration thing torn up and shoved up Trump’s racist, xenophobic ass, but that’s just me. DACA is the tip of an iceberg that I want to use to sink all those paranoid assholes.

So how many GOP guys are voting for this? Will it actually pass? I think you nailed it at the top, though, when you speculated on Trump’s dill enema.

J: They need 25 Republicans to sign on, assuming all the Democrats sign, which they are expected to; they have 21 committed and several more are expected to. Ryan is trying to head them off by promising a vote on an immigration bill at some point in the future, but it doesn’t seem like the insurgents are buying it.

download (23)T: Is Ryan, at this point, Kevin Bacon in Animal House?

J: I think he’s more like the Black Knight in Monty Python: screaming “I’m invincible!” as his arms and legs are lopped off.

T: See, I think the fact that he retired/resigned belies that comparison – he’s admitted defeat – but the two have the salient characteristics in common. Basically, they are both getting their asses kicked by events well beyond their capabilities to handle.

J: I wonder if the ass-kicking by events is the reason he’s retiring. He didn’t run for Speaker; he got drafted after Boehner got fired. He never really wanted the job and now he’s quitting to… well, probably to preserve his political future.

download (22)T: I hammer Ryan all the time for not being smart, and I still believe that’s his most identifiable political characteristic. I also think he’s honest, within his not-smartness, so if he’s properly led I’ve happily accept him in a leadership role. But he can’t be running this insane asylum. He’s just not smart enough OR independent minded enough. He can’t stop the onslaught of feces slinging monkeys in the Freedom Caucus, and they are running the congressional zoo like inmates running an asylum. I agree with you that he (1) didn’t want the job and (2) is trying to keep his political balls covered while the Freedom Caucus comes at him with both knees.

J: The Freedom Caucus is a cancer on the American body politic, and I hope that those bastards get politically neutered as soon as possible.

T: I blame the Freedom Caucus for the failure of edtitorial pages across the newspaper landscape. Most of the old angry white people who used to write the letters to the editor are in Congress. “Don’t Tread on Me” was the original freedom caucus symbol, back in revolutionary times, but times have changed. Here’s the new one: “Fuck you asshole, I got mine.”

J: In slightly better news, there’s this:Donald Trump would lose to any Democrat in 2020 if the election was held today, new poll suggests

The poll found independents could ultimately decide the president’s political fate.
newsweek.comJ: Granted, a lot can and will no doubt happen in the next two and a half years, but it seems that his support isn’t as strong as he would like to have you believe.
T: You think the I got mine group is 100 percent Tea Party? I think of that as more establishment GOP, sort of a common-ground-lite version of how they are both technically republican. To me, the tea party version of “I got mine” is “Gimme it! It’s mine!” Slight but important distinction, I think … one already has all the money,; while the other just feels entitled to all the money. Trump, in this analogy, would be establishment (which financially he is), while his stupid kids would be the freedom caucus guys (except they are too toxically rich and entitled, even for the Freedom Caucus guys).

J: Trump is as establishment as they come, despite how he pitched himself in 2016. I don’t think anyone in his family orbit would be Freedom Caucus-like… maybe his Fox News enablers and Steve Bannon and people like that.

T: Bannon is Freedom Caucusish, a little … Archie Bunker, Trump’s prehistorical doppleganger, would be a perfect tea party delegate.

J: Archie Bunker was Freedom Caucus before the Freedom Caucus was invented. He always claimed he “ain’t no bigot” but in actual fact he was pretty horrible. No way would “All in the Family” get on the air today. However, the mindset is still alive and well in the Freedom Caucus and their supporters.

13406817_10208158543454538_5705155590940145440_nT: Well, I think the point of Archie on the show was that even the most blindered xenophobe could change. To me, racist – which he was – isn’t quite the same thing as bigot. To me, George Jefferson was closer to being a bigot than Archie, not becuase he was more racist, but because he acted on his prejudices in ways that actively damaged others. I don’t have the terms solidly defined in my head, but I think that’s a pretty good working start: racism is hating, while bigotry is acting on hate. Is that anywhere near accurate?

J: I think those are good working definitions, at least for our purposes. And you’re right that, using that definition, George Jefferson was definitely more bigoted than Archie Bunker. Archie, for all his racism, would generally do the right thing when push came to shove; George would generally do what was best for George until Louise or Florence forced him to do the right thing.

T: For sure. How about a game? I’ll toss out a name, and you give me “Racist” or “Bigot” or “None of the above” for several historical figures. Keep in mind that I won’t make it as easy as it sounds. I will MERCILESSLY change the rules left and right, and give lie to every truth you tell. Naw, I’ll try to play fair. But I’m watching for revisionist history, so be careful.

First name: Abraham Lincoln.

J: I’m going to assume here that you are judging by 2018 standards. In that case, Lincoln was a racist. He didn’t believe that blacks were the intellectual or social equals of whites, nor did he believe that whites and blacks should marry, nor did he think they should vote. To be fair, he was a product of his times and almost all white people believed that way, but he was by today’s standards a racist. If you’re judging by 1865 standards, he was a racial progressive, but not radical either pro- or anti-abolition.

T: You can do it either way if you want … just make sure you distinguish the two.

J: OK. Put the last sentence in the front, then. Most 19th-century figures would come off as hideous racists if judged by 2018 standards. I torted, so you can retort.

T: You tortist. All right, who torted?

J: it was a bad one, I’m gonna have to spray some Febreze or something.

T: I think Lincoln was pragmatically progressive, with the emphasis on pragmatic. The “honest Abe” reputation was pure political rhetoric, but I think he was basically honest. He didn’t free the slaves because he thought it was “right” so much as because his constituents thought it was “right.” In that, he was an honest politician, submitting to the wishes of his people. OK, who’s your name?

J: Woodrow Wilson.

T: That racist, bigoted prick. I’m kidding, hold on. I have no idea. Siri, where are my World Book Encyclopedias?

T: Ok, I looked him up. Wilson, conversely to Lincoln, was pragmatically regressive. I doubt that he was as racist as your average southerner, but he catered to racism and bigotry, legitimizing both as the President. In a way he’s Trumpish, in that he probably didn’t want to kill blacks so much as he wanted them to stay beneath him, and he was very much like Trump in that he suborned racism and bigotry. Even for his own time he has to be considered a bigot. He acted overtly on his racism, in ways that he didn’t have have to act.

J: Wilson was probably the most racist man ever elected to the Presidency. He resegregated the Civil Service and basically legalized discrimination in government. It’s true that he did a lot of it in the name of political expediency, just to sweep the issue back under the rug, but he undid probably 30 years of progress in race relations all by himself.

T: Very Trumpish. Ok, next name: Robert E. Lee.

J: That traitorous racist bigoted prick. OK, I’m kidding. But only a little.

J: I know that his resignation is portrayed as an act of conscience, “how can I lift my sword against Virginia?” and all that, but he was fighting for the right for human beings to own other human beings. He did have more progressive attitudes than many in the South regarding blacks, he advocated for using blacks as soldiers in the last days of the war, but he was racist as hell.

T: The South got so racist and bigoted toward the Civil War, and even more during the Civil War, that even rabid racism won’t match the group tone unless it’s Jethro with a whip and a rope angry and violent. In short, the bigotry “wind adjustment” during the Civil War was to the right of deliberate homicide. And Lee, of course, led charges that killed hundreds of thousands of people. So screw him. If you draw arms against the United States for any reason, you are a traitor. And his reason? “I am defending the right to own other people.”

J: Franklin D. Roosevelt.

T: Another political pragmatist. Is pragmatist a synonym for spineless?

J: FDR had a spine, he just couldn’t use it much, with the polio and all.

T: Oh, snap.

In FDR’s case, it was probably enlightened pragmatism, in that it was true. Had he supported anti-lynching – which of course he should have – he would have been a one-term President. Was he a bigot? I’d say 90 percent bigot, 10 percent not sure. His replacement signed Civil Rights legislation, so he can’t cry victim of the times.

J: Well, he did intern the Japanese, but that might have been pragmatism more than racism; they were identifiable and there was a hell of a lot of anti-Japanese sentiment in the country after Pearl Harbor. So he might have been racist, but in the context of the times it might not have been politically tenable to be otherwise. I’m willing to give him at least a little benefit of the doubt.

T: It’s hard to figure this stuff in hindsight, ain’t it?

J: Yeah, it’s hard to figure. It’s easy to sit here at 75 or 150 years’ remove and say “They were all a bunch of fucking racists”, but it’s never as straightforward as that. Except for Andrew Jackson. He was a huge racist.

T: Southerners are still suffering from cultural morals dismorphia.

J: And Trump is feeding into that, legitimizing it by calling MS-13 (and by extension all immigrants) “animals”.

T: I can’t believe Trump’s words have never crossed the line. I actually think he is so far over the line that it’s hard to understand how far over the line he is. It’s like he’s behind enemy lines, but he’s in, like Siberia, so far East that the West stopped looking for him.

J: He’s blown past so many political norms that we as a nation are desensitized to them. “He did WHAT? Oh, well, that’s just Trump.” He does things that would have gotten pretty much any president before him impeached, and people just accept it because it’s Trump. He wasn’t too far off when he said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and still hold on to his support.

T: You make an important point, right there at the end. Trump said that in January of 2016, right?

J: Something like that, yes.

T: Trump’s racism is as pragmatic as Wilson’s regressive bigotry, Roosevelt’s interment/lynching denial and Lincoln freeing the slaves. He is racist because that’s what his people demand of him.

J: I think you’re right on that. Trump might actually be racist, of course, but even if he weren’t he’d almost be forced into it because that’s what his core constituency, the America Firsters, expects. It’s political survivalism, at least to some extent.

T: The Tea Party leads to the Freedom Caucus leads to the Alt+right leads to Trump. It’s letter-to-the-editor, the motion picture.

J: Looking back on it, you can draw a straight line from Archie Bunker to Donald Trump. Archie would have voted for Trump without hesitation and would support him right down the line. The other characters would have tried to convince him of the error of his ways but Archie wouldn’t have given an inch.

T: Yep. I think that’s the clearest illustration we’ve found yet that shows that the Trump “movement” is a regressive movement. It’s Back to the Future” upside down. It’s forward to the past. And it’s doomed to fail, because Darwinian forces will ALWAYS kill off any movement that is contra survival. And the only way we are keeping the earth livable is if we work together. Selfishness and isolationism will die out like the dinosaurs.

J: The 1950s are over and they ain’t coming back. June Cleaver’s got a job and Wally and the Beav are going to Grandma’s house after school. There’s always a part of the population that resists any social change, like the increasing diversity of America, but they sooner or later get swamped by the wave of the future, whatever it is. A scientist, I think Einstein, once said “A new idea is only accepted after its opponents die and a new generation who has grown up with the idea replaces them.”

T: Conservatism is a valid ideology that never gets a fair shot at developing into a progressive movement. Capitalism can be sustainable, but only if its buttressed by hard social limits. Like the game of Monopoly, once one person gets far enough ahead to be comfortable, it’s inevitable that they will stomp on everyone else until they are broke, mortgaged and hoping to go to jail so they can afford to live.

Pure conservatism, by its very nature, has to be selfish. “It takes a village” is liberal. The Highlander’s “There can be only One” is conservative. The village will ultimately destroy the One, but every time things get a wee bit out of balance, here comes another One. So, basically, conservatism is a valid ideology, but conservatives act more like viruses than ideologues. And what is Trump but a virus?

J: Swine flu?

T: But we have a vaccine for that.

Don’t we?

J: Hopefully, they’ll come up with a vaccine for Trump by 2020.

T: I’ll be dammed if I’m going to look for signs of Trump virus in my stool.

J: Ew. What would the signs even be?

T: I dunno, little redneck bacterias?

J: Well there are good redneck bacteries, too.

T: How can we tell the bad ones, then?

J: They’ll be wrapped in tiny American flags.

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