Some Recent Thoughts on Liberals and Conservatives

Two books I’ve recently encountered (The Captive Mind and To the Finland Station) have got me thinking about the roots of liberalism. I don’t really have thoughts on the roots of conservatism (I wish I did), but I want to write some conclusions I’m arriving at with regard to American conservatism. In this thread, I want to jot these thoughts down, and use this space as a way of working out these ideas.

Notes on To the Finland Station by Edmund Wilson

This book surveys the development of Socialism by summarizing and analyzing various thinkers, starting with Michelet and ending with Lenin. I became interested in the book after reading about it on NPR’s You Must Read This series, which has provided me several good recommendations over the years. This book, so far, looks like it will be added to that list.

As other threads like this one, I’m going to use it to jot down rough thoughts and impressions.

One more thing, for what it’s worth: Wilson is a good writer, both in terms of his prose and insights.

Musings on Bad Faith in Politics

“Hypocrisy” and “cynicism” are two adjectives used to describe actions of Republicans, particularly when they supported Trump. I tend to think those two words are inadequate. I like bad faith better, but the meaning seems a little vague to me. In this thread, I want to flesh out the meaning and think about term, versus alternatives, when discussing the modern day GOP and their leader.

Voter Fraud Vs. Voter Suppression

Voting and the integrity of our election are truly a critical part of our democracy, and the Democrats and Republicans have two competing narratives with regard to this topic. Democrats believe that Republicans want to suppress votes, particularly for people of color, as a primary way to gain or hold political power. Republicans, on the other hand, believe that voter fraud is a serious problem that poses a real threat to the integrity of our elections. Who’s right? That’s what I want to answer in this thread. Primarily, I want to collect evidence for both narratives. Now, I have already been reading about this topic, and let me say upfront that the evidence for voter fraud being a serious problem seems scant, while the evidence for voter suppression, in my view, seems far more compelling. Before I begin, I should acknowledge if one or both narratives proves true, they are legitimately serious problems–problems that would demand some corrective action.

“Our Entire Democracy is now at Risk. History will judge what we do at this moment.”

These are the closing words of a 100 scholars. Specifically, they find recent actions to make voting more difficult, by Republican controlled state legislature, alarming.

Statutory changes in large key electoral battleground states are dangerously politicizing the process of electoral administration, with Republican-controlled legislatures giving themselves the power to override electoral outcomes on unproven allegations should Democrats win more votes. They are seeking to restrict access to the ballot, the most basic principle underlying the right of all adult American citizens to participate in our democracy. They are also putting in place criminal sentences and fines meant to intimidate and scare away poll workers and nonpartisan administrators. State legislatures have advanced initiatives that curtail voting methods now preferred by Democratic-leaning constituencies, such as early voting and mail voting. Republican lawmakers have openly talked about ensuring the “purity” and “quality” of the vote, echoing arguments widely used across the Jim Crow South as reasons for restricting the Black vote.

These scholars urge Congress to act, passing laws to counter these efforts, even if it means suspending the filibuster. I’m wary of language like this, but I can’t dismiss these claims. I’m concerned; I don’t think we’re out of the woods, even though Trump is not in office. Here is Max Boot, former Republican Senator and Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, and former Republican Congresswoman, Barbara Comstock.

General McCaffery on General Flynn’s comments about coup in the U.S.:

1/6 Insurrection

During this week the House passed a bi-partisan bill to form a commission to investigate the 1/6 insurrection. House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, opposed it at the last minute, even though he initially gave support to Rep. John Katco (R) to work on this bill with Katco’s Democratic counterpart, Rep. Bennie Thompson. Mitch McConnell has now also publicly opposed this.

In any event, I wanted to post the articles about this in the thread, Journal During the Trump Regime (10): Interregnum, but that thread is to slow to open and navigate now. Because of that I’m starting this thread to post comments about the insurrection. I’ll start things off in the first comments by posting something from the Interregnum thread.

Philly D.A. (2021)

This is a thread to discuss Philly D.A. is an eight part Independent Lens docuseries now playing on PBS. The series follows a newly elected D.A., Larry Krasner, who never worked as a prosecutor, but worked as a civil rights defense attorney instead. For most of my life, I’ve thought about improving government services, and I’ve gained some thoughts on the obstacles preventing this. For these reasons, I’m really interested in following Krasner and tracking his progress. Here’s a clip:

Racism Against Asian-Americans

Has any been following the stories of violence and verbal attacks against Asian-Americans? Last night, I believe six Asian women (and two non-Asians) were shot and killed. I’m dismayed by these stories, hearing Asian-Americans express fear of going out and seeing these brutal attacks. Watching these things evokes an odd feeling, almost as if I’m watching a different country, as the reality here seems very different. Have you guys heard of similar stories happening in Hawai’i? By the way, I heard Trump last night on Fox News referred to the covid virus as the “China virus.” It’s still appalling that people who know better continue to support him. (I made myself watch the clip, just so that I can say I heard it myself.)

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