Archive for the ‘GOP’ Category
Extremely interesting report in The Intercept by Robert Mackey, and definitely worth reading in its entirety. It begins:
HASHTAG ACTIVISM HAS its limits, and most social-media reaction stories are predictable and boring, but the discussion of Colin Kaepernick’s “Star-Spangled Banner” protest taking place in #VeteransForKaepernick threadson Twitter and Facebook right now is more varied and interesting than almost all of the commentary on the subject cramming the airwaves.
Dear America stop speaking for me you don’t care about us either we’re just your mask for racism and prejudice#VeteransForKaepernick
— Beige Rob (@MrRedMartian) August 30, 2016
— Josh Howell (@lesscrazyplease) August 31, 2016
My colleague Jon Schwarz startled many Americans by pointing out that our national anthem “literally celebrates the murder of African-Americans” in a rarely sung or talked about third verse about slaughtering escaped slaves who chose to fight for their freedom, and against the United States, in the War of 1812.
In the heated environment of the election campaign, it is also notable that Kaepernick explained that his attempt to draw attention to racial injustice — which was criticized by Donald Trump — is not something he expects to be resolved by the victory of either candidate. . .
And definitely read the whole thing. I didn’t know that about the third verse of the “Star Spangled Banner,” for example:
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wiped out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
It’s pretty obvious, if you look at it, and Kevin Drum looks at it:
Over at The Corner, Roger Clegg highly recommends a piece in Forbes about a new SEC proposal that would require public companies “to include in their proxy statements more meaningful board diversity disclosures on their board members and nominees.” This rule would not mandate any diversity goals. It would merely require a disclosure of current board diversity and any future diversity plans, if any. Here’s theForbes piece:
In May, 1996, Sister Doris Gormley wrote a letter to T.J. Rodgers, the founder and then-CEO of Cypress Semiconductor. She argued that Cypress ought to diversify its board by adding some women.
Replying to her, Rodgers wrote, “Choosing a Board of Directors based on race and gender is a lousy way to run a company. Cypress will never do it. Furthermore, we will never be pressured into it, because bowing to well-meaning, special-interest groups is an immoral way to run a company, given all the people it would hurt. We simply cannot allow arbitrary rules to be forced on us by organizations that lack business expertise.”
To people who actually run business enterprises, getting sound advice from the board is important. It can help them avoid costly mistakes. But that requires deep knowledge of the specific business field. Companies have every incentive to find such people, which has nothing at all to do with the happenstance of their ancestry or sex. [Note that he does not give a second’s thought to try to understand the reasons and look at actual evidence, particularly looking for evidence that disconfirms what he is about to say—and, as Kevin Drum points out, that evidence is very easy to find. Instead, this fool just delivered a patronizing little speech that revealed he simply does not think about things and coasts along on unexamined suppositions and unsubstantiated expectations. – LG]
If Republicans are wondering why blacks, women, Hispanics, Asians, and pretty much every non-white-male group in America seems to hate them, this is why. If you want to oppose diversity mandates, that’s one thing. There are ways to do it. But to blithely claim that the whole idea is nonsense because no board of directors in America wouldever choose a board member for any reason other than pure merit? This is just willful blindness. Every black, woman, Hispanic, and Asian in the country has been a victim of this faux meritocracy argument and knows perfectly well that it’s rubbish.
All that is bad enough. But then to get high-fived for it by National Review and theWall Street Journal and Fox News? It rubs non-white faces in the fact that conservatives not only don’t want to make any real efforts to break up the white men’s club, but that they’ll go out of their way to deny that it even exists. So they vote for Democrats. At least the Dems don’t flatly insult them with obvious baloney.
For reference, compare this to Lauren Rivera’s conclusions after sitting in on post-interview discussions of candidates for a professional services firm (via Leniece Brissett at Vox). Here’s a summary in the Harvard Business Review:
Black and Hispanic men were often seen as lacking polish and moved to the reject pile, even when they were strong in other areas, whereas white men who lacked polish were deemed coachable and kept in the running. A similar pattern emerged among men who appeared shy, nervous, or understated: Nonwhites were rejected for being unassertive, but in whites, modesty was seen as a virtue. Among candidates who made minor mistakes in math, women were rejected for not having the right skills, and men were given a pass—interviewers assumed they were having an “off” day.
Different kinds of people, it turns out, were evaluated very differently: . . .
Chart follows at the link, along with further argument.
Well worth reading: a blog post by Kevin Drum at Mother Jones.
At Least 110 Republican Leaders Won’t Vote for Donald Trump. Here’s When They Reached Their Breaking Point.
The NY Times has an excellent timeline of the Trump campaign, showing in chronological order what he said (on one side of the line) and when various Republicans spoke out against Trump (on the other). It shows at just what point responsible Republicans decided that Trump had gone beyond the pale.
Needless to say, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, John McCain, George P. Bush, Marco Rubio do not show up: they are standing with Trump and endorse and support his candidacy. Rubio is a special case, though: when he was running he thought Trump was awful, but when he decided to run again for Senate (a position that barely interested him before), he thinks Trump is great. Rubio seems to have absolutely no convictions of his own. He reminds me of a New Yorker cartoon years ago that depicted a statue in a park of a politician, who’s pointing the direction to go. The statue is mounted on its pedestal free to rotate as a wind vane.
Just trying to get deeper into the Trump mindset: it struck me that his yuuge lack of knowledge is not because he lacks intelligence, it’s because he doesn’t really like knowledge. For one thing, there are all the details, and our Donald is not a detail kind of guy. And it’s not just details here and there: knowledge seems to consist of nothing but details.
Plus it’s confusing because when you really believe something and you get some knowledge that contradicts that, what’s up with that?! Obviously your own beliefs are absolutely central—for one thing, they are yours, not some third-hand belief from some scientist you’ve never even heard of, so how important can he be? Not very, since the Donald practically swims in (and fawns over) people he views as important, unless they happen to disagree with one of his beliefs, in which case they are losers, and anyway he was being sarcastic, for God’s sake!
If knowledge from someone conflicts with one of my own beliefs, a part of me, then too bad for knowledge.
So Trump doesn’t have knowledge because he doesn’t like knowledge and even more doesn’t like how it makes for confusion, which is very unpleasant. Get rid of knowledge, stick to beliefs, and you’ll be a lot more comfortable, particularly if you stick with people who have the same outlook. They really love him.
Rebecca Gordon writes in Salon:
It’s not every day that Republicans publish an open letter announcing that their presidential candidate is unfit for office. But lately this sort of thing has beenhappening more and more frequently. The most recent example: we just heard from 50 representatives of the national security apparatus, men — and a few women — who served under Republican presidents from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush. All of them are very worried about Donald Trump.
They think we should be alerted to the fact that the Republican standard-bearer “lacks the character, values and experience to be president.”
That’s true of course, but it’s also pretty rich, coming from this bunch. The letter’s signers include, among others, the man who was Condoleezza Rice’s legal advisorwhen she ran the National Security Council (John Bellinger III); one of George W. Bush’s CIA directors who also ran the National Security Agency (Michael Hayden); a Bush administration ambassador to the United Nations and Iraq (John Negroponte); an architect of the neoconservative policy in the Middle East adopted by the Bush administration that led to the invasion of Iraq, who has since served as president of the World Bank (Robert Zoellick). In short, given the history of the “global war on terror,” this is your basic list of potential American war criminals.
Their letter continues, “He weakens U.S. moral authority as the leader of the free world.”
There’s a sentence that could use some unpacking.
What is the “free world”?
Let’s start with the last bit: “the leader of the free world.” That’s what journalists used to call the U.S. president, and occasionally the country as a whole, during the Cold War. Between the end of World War II and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the “free world” included all the English-speaking countries outside Africa, along with western Europe, North America, some South American dictatorships and nations like the Philippines that had a neocolonial relationship with the United States.
The U.S.S.R. led what, by this logic, was the un-free world, including the Warsaw Pactcountries in eastern Europe, the “captive” Baltic nations of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, the People’s Republic of China (for part of the period), North Korea and of course Cuba. Americans who grew up in these years knew that the people living behind the “Iron Curtain” were not free. We’d seen the bus ads and public service announcements on television requesting donations for Radio Free Europe, sometimes illustrated with footage of a pale adolescent man, his head crowned with chains.
I have absolutely no doubt that he and his eastern European countrymen were far from free. I do wonder, however, how free his counterparts in the American-backed Brazilian, Argentinian, Chilean and Philippine dictatorships felt.
The two great adversaries, together with the countries in their spheres of influence, were often called the First and Second Worlds. Their rulers treated the rest of the planet — the Third World — as a chessboard across which they moved their proxy armies and onto which they sometimes targeted their missiles. Some countries in the Third World refused to be pawns in the superpower game, and created a non-aligned movement, which sought to thread a way between the Scylla and Charybdis of the United States and the Soviet Union.
Among its founders were some of the great Third World nationalists: Sukarno of Indonesia, Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, along with Yugoslavia’s President Josip Broz Tito.
Other countries weren’t so lucky. When the United States took over from France the (unsuccessful) project of defeating Vietnam’s anti-colonial struggle, people in the United States were assured that the war that followed with its massive bombing, napalming and Agent-Oranging of a peasant society represented the advance of freedom against the forces of communist enslavement. Central America also served as a Cold War battlefield, with Washington fighting proxy wars during the 1980s in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua, where poor campesinos had insisted on being treated as human beings and were often brutally murdered for their trouble. In addition, the United States funded, trained and armed a military dictatorship in Honduras, where John Negroponte — one of the anti-Trump letter signers — was the U.S. ambassador from 1981 to 1985.
The Soviet Union is, of course, long gone, but the “free world,” it seems, remains, and so American officials still sometimes refer to us as its leader — an expression that only makes sense, of course, in the context of dual (and dueling) worlds. On a post-Soviet planet, however, it’s hard to know just what national or geographic configuration constitutes today’s “un-free world.” Is it (as Donald Trump might have it) everyone living under Arab or Muslim rule? Or could it be that amorphous phenomenon we call “terrorism” or “Islamic terrorism” that can sometimes reach into the “free world” and slaughter innocents as in San Bernardino, California, Orlando, Florida or Nice, France? Or could it be the old Soviet Union reincarnated in Vladimir Putin’s Russia or even a rising capitalist China still controlled by a Communist Party?
Faced with the loss of a primary antagonist and the confusion on our planet, George W. Bush was forced to downsize the perennial enemy of freedom from Reagan’s old “evil empire” (the Soviet Union) to three “rogue states,” Iraq, Iran and North Korea, which in an address to Congress he so memorably labeled the “axis of evil.” The first of these lies in near ruins; the second we’ve recently signed a nuclear treaty with; and the third seems incapable of even feeding its own population. Fortunately for the free world, the Bush administration also had some second-string enemies to draw on. In 2002, John Bolton, then an undersecretary of state (and later ambassador to the U.N.), added another group “beyond the axis of evil” — Libya, Syria and Cuba. Of the three, only Cuba is still a functioning nation.
And by the way, the 50 Republican national security stars who denounced Donald Trump in Cold War terms turn out to be in remarkably good company — that of Donald Trump himself (who recently gave a speech invoking American Cold War practices as the basis for his future foreign policy).
“He weakens U.S. moral authority…”
After its twenty-first century wars, its “black sites,” and Guantánamo, among other developments of the age, it’s hard to imagine a much weaker “moral authority” than what’s presently left to the United States. First, we gave the world eight years of George W. Bush’s illegal invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as CIA torture sites, “enhanced interrogation techniques” and a program of quite illegal global kidnappings of terror suspects (some of whom proved innocent of anything). Under President Obama, it seems we’ve traded enhanced interrogation techniques for an “enhanced” use of assassination by drone (again outside any “law” of war, other than the legal documents that the Justice Department has produced to justify such acts).
When Barack Obama took office in January 2009 his first executive order outlawed the CIA’s torture program and closed those black sites. It then looked as if the country’s moral fiber might be stiffening. But when it came to holding the torturers accountable, Obama insisted that the country should “look forward as opposed to looking backwards” and the Justice Department declined to prosecute any of them. It’s hard for a country to maintain its moral authority in the world when it refuses to exert that authority at home.
Two of the letter signers who are so concerned about Trump’s effect on U.S. moral authority themselves played special roles in “weakening” U.S. moral authority through their involvement with the CIA torture program: John Bellinger III and Michael Hayden.
June 26th is the U.N.’s International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. To mark that day in 2003, President Bush issued a statement declaring, “Torture anywhere is an affront to human dignity everywhere. The United States is committed to the world-wide elimination of torture, and we are leading this fight by example.”
The Washington Post story on the president’s speech also carried a quote from Deputy White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan to the effect that all prisoners being held by the U.S. government were being treated “humanely.” John Rizzo, who was then the CIA’s deputy general counsel, called John Bellinger, Condoleezza Rice’s legal counsel at the National Security Council, to express his concern about what both the president and McClellan had said.
The problem was that — as Rizzo and his boss, CIA director George Tenet, well knew — many detainees then held by the CIA were not being treated humanely. They were being tortured or mistreated in various ways. The CIA wanted to be sure that they still had White House backing and approval for their “enhanced interrogation” program, because they didn’t want to be left holding the bag if the truth came out. They also wanted the White House to stop talking about the humane treatment of prisoners.
According to an internal CIA memo, George Tenet convened a July 29, 2003, meeting in Condoleezza Rice’s office to get the necessary reassurance that the CIA would be covered if the truth about torture came out. There, Bellinger reportedly apologized on behalf of the administration, explaining that the White House press secretary had “gone off script,” mistakenly reverting to “old talking points.” He also “undertook to [e]nsure that the White House press office ceases to make statements on the subject other than [to say] that the U.S. is complying with its obligations under U.S. law.”
At that same meeting, Tenet’s chief counsel, Scott Muller, passed out packets of printed PowerPoint slides detailing those enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, so that Bellinger and the others present, including Rice, would understand exactly what he was covering up.
So much for the “moral authority” of John Bellinger III.
As for Michael Hayden (who has held several offices in the national security apparatus), one of his signature acts as CIA Director was . . .
. . .
John Cassidy has a very interesting column in the New Yorker. From it:
. . . A successful rebranding campaign must have two elements. It must be surprising enough to attract people’s attention and make them think again about a company or product. And it must be credible. Back in 2000, British Petroleum, with the help of the advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather, launched a new public-relations campaign under the slogan “Beyond Petroleum.” The company ballyhooed its investments in clean energy and changed its logo to an environmentally friendly green and yellow sunburst.
This exercise never passed the credibility test. In 2005, a BP-owned refinery in Texas blew up, killing twenty-five people; in 2006, a pipeline owned by BP failed in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, spilling hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude; and, in 2010, the BP-owned Deepwater Horizon rig blew up in the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in a huge oil spill that threatened the entire Gulf Coast. Six years later, BP is still struggling to recover from a huge hit to its finances and reputation.
The “Beyond Petroleum” fiasco proved that you can’t deny who you are. Trump is Trump. There isn’t much point trying to market him as a kind and cuddly figure: nobody would believe it. But that doesn’t mean . . .