It’s All Greek

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Obama Administration

The Greek crisis seems to me something like the mortgage crisis, in which all kinds of people were encouraged to saddle themselves with junk mortgages. Then they lost everything when the economy took a dive and they fell behind on payments. Greece, I understand, has a humongous debt that even the International Monetary Fund has concluded can never be repaid. And this is partly because the Greek government of awhile back borrowed irresponsibly, but it has to be said the lenders were being irresponsible as well. That may not be what happened, but that’s how I understand it.

The Greeks have suffered terrible deprivation doing what the Eurozone nations told them to do, which was to reduce government spending and pay down the debt. But the austerity cuts, cuts, cuts had the effect of killing their economy, so the debt couldn’t be paid down. And then the Greeks voted in a government that said, bleep austerity. And yesterday they voted to reject Eurozone austerity demands. Without more money coming from the Eurozone partners, Greek banks may collapse.

There’s a lot of clucking about What It All Means, and What Should Greece Do, and What Should Europe Do. I think it’s all just wrong. There’s something basically wrong when people are impoverished not because of anything they did or because of natural calamity, but because of the way economies work.

I’ve never been to Greece, but everything I’ve heard about it says it is very beautiful, the climate is lovely, and there’s a large agricultural area. And of course it has a rich and ancient civilization. There’s no reason I can see that people in Greece can’t have everything they need to live perfectly satisfying lives. If they can’t, it’s not because there’s something wrong with the geological entity of Greece and its people. It’s the System that got them into this mess.

Professor Krugman has been largely sympathetic to the Greeks and thinks the only way out of the mess is for them to bail on the Euro and set up their own monetary system. He wrote,

And let’s be clear: if Greece ends up leaving the euro, it won’t mean that the Greeks are bad Europeans. Greece’s debt problem reflected irresponsible lending as well as irresponsible borrowing, and in any case the Greeks have paid for their government’s sins many times over. If they can’t make a go of Europe’s common currency, it’s because that common currency offers no respite for countries in trouble. The important thing now is to do whatever it takes to end the bleeding.

Professor Krugman also said,

Jared Bernstein weighs in on the big No, hopes that it leads to a change in Europe’s approach, but acknowledges the political difficulties:

To be fair, it’s not that simple. There are structural political factors in play, endemic to the fact that the currency union is not a political union, nor a fiscal union, nor a banking union. As one German economist put it to me, “How do you think the people of Manhattan would like bailing out Texas?” Fair point, and a non-trivial challenge, for sure.

Ahem. As it happens, the people of Manhattan did bail out Texas, big time. I wrote about it here. The savings and loan crisis, which was very costly to taxpayers, was mainly a Texas affair:

The cleanup from that crisis cost taxpayers about $125 billion (pdf), back when that was real money. As best I can tell, around 60 percent of the losses were in Texas (pdf). So that’s around $75 billion in aid — not loans, outright transfer.

Texas GDP was about $300 billion in 1987. So this was equivalent to giving — not lending, not even taking an equity stake — Spain 25 percent of its GDP to bail out its banks.

But of course Manhattan was never asked to bail out Texas; we had a national system of deposit insurance, and the big Lone Star bailout was automatic.

… and the people who brought on the crisis because they were recklessly playing the system to enrich themselves were given slaps on the wrist and told to never be naughty again. Neil Bush, for example, was fined $50,000; Republican supporters chipped in to pay it. Meanwhile, taxpayers shelled out $1.3 billion to clean up Bush’s Silverado mess..

In short, I don’t blame the Greeks for telling the Eurozone to go bleep itself.

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Dumping the Donald

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Bad Hair, Republican Party

I hope everybody had a lovely 4th of July and will enjoy some barbeque this weekend.

NASCAR has joined the Donald Trump pile-on and has announced it has changed an awards banquet venue because of his remarks about Mexicans. It appears The Donald is genuinely surprised by this. Yesterday he said he knew campaigning could be rough, but he didn’t think it would be this severe.

“I knew it was going to be bad because I was told this. All my life I have been told this: If you are successful, you don’t run for office,” Trump said in an interview onFox News, addressing the recent spate of businesses that have severed their relationships with his brand. “I didn’t know it was going to be quite this severe, but I really knew it was going to be bad.”

See, all these companies — NBC, Macy’s, Serta, etc. — are turning on The Donald because he is successful. And how did he get successful?

Trump was born in New York City in 1946, the son of real estate tycoon Fred Trump. Fred Trump’s business success not only provided Donald Trump with a posh youth of private schools and economic security but eventually blessed him with an inheritance worth an estimated $40 million to $200 million. It is critical to note, however, that his father’s success, which granted Donald Trump such a great advantage, was enabled and buffered by governmental financing programs. In 1934, while struggling during the Great Depression, financing from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) allowed Fred Trump to revive his business and begin building a multitude of homes in Brooklyn, selling at $6,000 apiece. Furthermore, throughout World War II, Fred Trump constructed FHA-backed housing for US naval personnel near major shipyards along the East Coast.

In 1974 Donald Trump became president of his father’s organization. During the 15 years following his ascension, he expanded and innovated the corporation, buying and branding buildings, golf courses, hotels, casinos, and other recreational facilities. In 1980 he established The Trump Organization to oversee all of his real estate operations.

Trump eventually found himself in serious financial trouble. In 1990, due to excessive leveraging, The Trump Organization revealed that it was $5 billion in debt ($8.8 billion by some estimates), with $1 billion personally guaranteed by Trump himself. The survival of the company was made possible only by a bailout pact agreed upon in August of that same year by some 70 banks, allowing Trump to defer on nearly $1 billion in debt, as well as to take out second and third mortgages on almost all of his properties. If it were not for the collective effort of all banks and parties involved in that 1990 deal, Trump’s business would have gone bankrupt and failed.

In other words, it didn’t take exceptionally hard work or brilliance.

In our culture, to paraphrase a line from Michael Shaara, there’s nothing as close to a god on earth than a billionaire CEO. I’m sure The Donald has gotten away with saying anything he wanted to say and being the biggest asshole he could be, and nobody has dared correct him. And at this point he’s turned into a caricature of himself.

FYI, the Donald is currently at the top of the GOP presidential contender polls, at 13.6 percent. Jeb Bush is second, at 13.3 percent. The next three are Ben Carson, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul. Scott Walker has fallen to sixth place, at 8 percent. Republican voters relate to mean and stupid, apparently.

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Inconvenient Truths

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Obama Administration

I genuinely hate to say this, but Dylan Matthews makes some good points in “Three Reasons the American Revolution Was a Mistake.” And here they are:

I’m reasonably confident a world where the revolution never happened would be better than the one we live in now, for three main reasons: slavery would’ve been abolished earlier, American Indians would’ve faced rampant persecution but not the outright ethnic cleansing Andrew Jackson and other American leaders perpetrated, and America would have a parliamentary system of government that makes policymaking easier and lessens the risk of democratic collapse.

Of course, in the Real World the southern plantation class would have fought tooth and nail to keep slavery whether the government was in Washington or London, so there still might have been a Civil War. I’m not sure why the people of the U.S. were so much more brutal toward the native Americans than Canadians were, and I’m not persuaded policies issued from London would have made much difference.

But the parliamentary system thing is what really breaks my heart, because I fear our system of government is growing unworkable. The two-party polarization that plagues us now is the natural result of our system; the way we hold elections makes third-party challenges nearly impossible. A parliamentary system is more responsive to the will of the people; it’s easier for smaller parties to win seats and form coalitions.

In the US, activists wanting to put a price on carbon emissions spent years trying to put together a coalition to make it happen, mobilizing sympathetic businesses and philanthropists and attempting to make bipartisan coalition — and they still failed to pass cap and trade, after millions of dollars and man hours. In the UK, the Conservative government decided it wanted a carbon tax. So there was a carbon tax. Just like that. Passing big, necessary legislation — in this case, legislation that’s literally necessary to save the planet — is a whole lot easier with parliaments than presidential systems.

This is no trivial matter. Efficient passage of legislation has huge humanitarian consequences. It makes measures of planetary importance, like carbon taxes, easier to get through; they still face political pushback, of course — Australia’s tax got repealed, after all — but they can be enacted in the first place, which is far harder in the US system. And the efficiency of parliamentary systems enables larger social welfare programs that reduce inequality and improve life for poor citizens. Government spending in parliamentary countries is about 5 percent of GDP higher, after controlling for other factors, than in presidential countries. If you believe in redistribution, that’s very good news indeed.

This is not to say everything is hunky-dory in the UK. People get angry with the government there, too.

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To the Mattresses

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Republican Party

I know this is going to break your heart, but the Serta mattress company is dumping the Donald Trump mattress. The Donald has already been dumped by Univision, Macy’s and NBC. Bill de Blasio, el alcalde de la ciudad de Nueva York, says the city is reconsidering its business relationships with Trump, including a new golf course in the Bronx.

Naturally, the Donald is surging in the polls. God bless America.

Charles Pierce, yesterday:

It has been an article of faith in this shebeen almost since we opened it in 2011 that there is no actual Republican party in any real sense any more. Ever since the Supreme Court legalized influence-peddling in its Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions, there only has been a loosely held group of independent franchises who are doing business for themselves under the Republican Party brand. This is why the suits belonging to obvious anagram Reince Preibus are so very empty.

So far, it seems to me the 2016 GOP nomination competition will go the way of the 2012 circus, in which one clown candidate after another took the lead and then lost it as soon as voters  — and backers — started to actually look at him. This may be happening to Scott Walker already.

Although lots of political reporters have already written off the Jeb Bush campaign, right now it appears Jeb is the new Mittens. Maybe nobody really likes him, but at least he can be cleaned up and made to look respectable.

On the other side of the fence, Bernie Sanders also is surging, sort of. Hillary Clinton is still way ahead of everybody, but Sanders has cut her lead. Joan Walsh:

But the rise of Sanders, alongside that of the GOP’s surging star, blustering racist Donald Trump, also shows the media the difference between the ideological moorings of the folks who make up the Democratic and Republican base. The Democrats have a lot of lefties, FDR Democrats, folks who want single payer health insurance, people who think we can learn from Western Europe not stigmatize it — and yes, Sanders excites them. On the GOP side, there is a loud, large, angry segment of the GOP base that’s frankly xenophobic, nativist, even racist. Trump speaks to them.

I do disagree with Walsh that news media are creating the Sanders surge out of “deranged Clinton hate.” Before this week the media wasn’t taking Sanders seriously as a candidate. It’s also been news media that’s largely responsible for the mantle of inevitability wrapped around HRC.

From what I’ve seen, Clinton backers are certain she’s the only one who can beat Republican candidate X. It’s been my observation that this is the most frequent reason they give for supporting her. It’s also been my observation that those who prefer Sanders are more likely to point to the issues he’s talking about as a reason to support him, although there’s some Clinton bashing, too.

But though Bernie himself is unlikely to be nominated, IMO he represents the party’s future. If it has a future. The Dems have been something like a loosely held group of independent franchises since the 1970s, albeit much less lucrative franchises than their Republican counterparts. My concern is that the young folks won’t turn out for HRC, and/or that eight years of an HRC Administration will persuade the Millennials and whomever come after them that party politics serve no purpose that helps them. They’re pretty much certain of that now, from what I see.

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What Is It With Trolls?

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Obama Administration

Apparently someone studied internet trolls to find out what makes them tick.

Executive summary: They’re assholes.

From an LA Times interview of a woman who wrote a book about trolls:

It’s hard to get demographics on who trolls are, but you note that their targets are usually women, people of color and LGBT people, and sometimes Christians and Republicans.

They’re asserting power and privilege in an unmistakable pattern: They’re policing against female-gendered behaviors — anything regarded by them as soft or emotional or sentimental. The idea of “raping with logic” comes up again and again. That’s how they understand and celebrate their behavior.

Trolling is gendered male. With race, there’s this presumption that everyone [trolling] is white, and anyone who deviates from that has to flag themselves. And this is leisure activity. Only a certain kind of person is going to have the time or energy to devote to something that doesn’t get them anything other than enjoyment and interest.

Sick jokes and laughing at others’ pain have been around far longer than the Internet, but trolls also mock the dead and their mourners.

The primary question I get is, “What’s wrong with them?” That sidesteps the ways in which trolling necessitates the trolling mask. Instead of thinking about [a tragedy] as a totality, they think about individual, tiny, fetishized details. If a young person was killed in a particular way and there was an “amusing” detail about the death, they would focus on that. They’re not thinking about the person who died and the people affected by that death. It’s not that they’re laughing necessarily at other people’s pain. They’re in a privileged position where they don’t need to think about it.

Like I said, assholes.

 

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Lies of Biblical Proportion

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Religion

Juan Cole reminds us that, um, “biblical marriage” was not between one man and one woman. Often is was between one man and multiple women.

But wackiest of all is the idea that the Bible sees marriage as between one man and one woman. I don’t personally get how you could, like, actually read the Bible and come to that conclusion (see below). Even if you wanted to argue that the New Testament abrogates all the laws in the Hebrew Bible, there isn’t anything in the NT that clearly forbids polygamy, either, and it was sometimes practiced in the early church, including by priests. Josephus makes it clear that polygamy was still practiced among the Jews of Jesus’ time. Any attempt to shoe-horn stray statements in the New Testament about a man and a woman being married into a commandment of monogamy is anachronistic. Likely it was the Roman Empire that established Christian monogamy as a norm over the centuries. The Church was not even allowed to marry people until well after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, since it was an imperial prerogative.

Ancient scripture can be a source of higher values and spiritual strength, but any time you in a literal-minded way impose specific legal behavior because of it, you’re committing anachronism. Since this is the case, fundamentalists are always highly selective, trying to impose parts of the scripture on us but conveniently ignoring the parts even they can’t stomach as modern persons.

1. In Exodus 21:10 it is clearly written of the husband: “If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish the food, clothing, or marital rights of the first wife.” This is the same rule as the Qur’an in Islam, that another wife can only be taken if the two are treated equally.

2. Let’s take Solomon, who maintained 300 concubines or sex slaves. 1 Kings 11:3: “He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray.” Led him astray! That’s all the Bible minded about this situation? Abducting 300 people and keeping them immured for sex? And the objection is only that they had a lot of diverse religions and interested Solomon in them? (By the way, this is proof that he wasn’t Jewish but just a legendary Canaanite polytheist). I think a settled gay marriage is rather healthier than imprisoning 300 people in your house to have sex with at your whim. …

… According Mark 12:19, guys, if your brother kicks the bucket, you have to marry your sister-in-law and knock her up. Since the Bible approved of multiple wives, you have to do this even if you’re already married. If you think in-laws are hard to get along with now, try being married to them.

Seriously, my understanding is that in western civilization, our ideas about what marriage is supposed to be evolved over many centuries long after the Bible was canonized. . For example, before the 12th century or so only members of the nobility were married “in the church.” Peasants just kind of worked things out for themselves.

So all this Bible thumping and whining about the sanctity of marriage is really about people’s cultural biases. Even some people who are familiar enough with the Old Testament to know that some of God’s People were polygamists can’t bring themselves to see the disconnect between their deeply held beliefs about a “righteous” marriage and what the Bible actually says. This is something I discuss in more detail in Rethinking Religion, btw.

Speaking of polygamy, it’s fascinating the way conservatives are certain the next pillar of civilization to fall will be monogamy. Same-sex marriage and polygamy have nothing to do with each other, in my mind. But I guess to a conservative everything considered a “perversion” is dumped into the same box.

Jonathan Rauch wrote,

Predictably, the Court’s decision led to another of countless rounds of forecasts that the marriage-rights movement will now expand to multiples. (Like this.) Again, we’ll see, but I’m willing to stand by what I’ve long said: the case for gay marriage is the case against polygamy, and the public will be smart enough to understand the difference.

Gay marriage is about extending the opportunity to marry to people who lack it; polygamy, in practice, is about exactly the opposite: withdrawing marriage opportunity from people who now have it. Gay marriage succeeded because no one could identify any plausible channels through which it might damage heterosexual marriage; with polygamy, the worries are many, the history clear, and the channels well understood.

And has many have pointed out, it seems to be the hyper-conservative religious who actually go in for “plural marriages.” It’s currently not on the liberal/progressive radar, that I know of.

Rauch also said,

I’ve always believed that cultural conservatives misunderstood the gay-marriage movement: far from being an attack on the culture of marriage, it represented a shift back toward family values by a group that had learned the hard way, through eviction by their own parents and suffering in the AIDS crisis, how important marriage and commitment and family really are.

Mike Huckabee, who has appointed himself a spokesperson for God, has been calling for civil disobedience to protest marriage equality. But he’s a bit hazy about what that means.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So what exactly are you calling on people to do right now? You say resist and reject this judicial tyranny. Spell out exactly what that means?

HUCKABEE: George, judicial tyranny is when we believe that the courts have a right to bypass the process of law and we’ve really seen it this week in two cases, in both the Obamacare case, which Justice Scalia called it – said we not – should call it SCOTUScare because they have rescued it twice, ex cathedra to the law, and then in the same-sex marriage ruling in which –

STEPHANOPOULOS: So are you calling for civil disobedience?

HUCKABEE: I don’t think a lot of pastors and Christian schools are going to have a choice. They either are going to follow God, their conscience and what they truly believe is what the scripture teaches them, or they will follow civil law. They will go the path of Dr. Martin Luther King, who in his brilliant essay the letters from a Birmingham jail reminded us, based on what St. Augustine said, that an unjust law is no law at all. And I do think that we’re going to see a lot of pastors who will have to make this tough decision.

You’re going to see it on the part of Christian business owners. You’ll see it on the part of Christian university presidents, Christian school administrators. If they refuse to -

Stephanopoulos is another of those television bobbleheads who doesn’t know how to stick to a touch line of questions. Here he switched the conversation to county clerks and the like. He should have pushed Huckabee to be specific about the pastors. How will the civil law even affect them? They won’t be required to perform same-sex marriages, and I suspect Huckabee knows that.

And if Huckabee does know that, he is, in effect, bearing false witness. He is perpetrating a falsehood — that pastors will be required to perform gay marriages — in order to attract a following. That breaks at least one of the Ten Commandments. And he thinks himself godly, no doubt.

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Concurrent Head Explosions

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Obama Administration, Supreme Court

What with end of the month deadlines and temple activities, I haven’t been able to spend as much time writing about this week’s events as I’d have liked. And by all accounts the President’s eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney was amazing, and I haven’t had time to see it.

The reaction of the Right to the week’s events is predictably unhinged. However, it appears none were more unhinged than that of Don Antonin Scalia, in his dissenting opinion. According to Josh Marshall,

For all the blaze of history and march of freedom this week, no doubt for me the highlight was Justice Scalia’s invoking John C. Calhoun’s “concurrent majority” theory on behalf of denying marriage equality to gay men and women.

I’ll have to read the opinion to see if this was implied or explicit. Right now it’s damn early in the morning for insightful analysis, but basically Calhoun’s “concurrent majority” was the theory that sanctified the Nullification Crisis back in Andrew Jackson’s administration. It’s basically a way for minorities to force their will on elected majorities.

Charles Pierce:

Today, in his dissent from the opinion establishing marriage equality across the land, Short Time really outdid himself.

Not surprisingly then, the Federal Judiciary is hardly a cross-section of America. Take, for example, this Court, which consists of only nine men and women, all of them successful lawyers who studied at Harvard or Yale Law School. Four of the nine are natives of New York City. Eight of them grew up in east- and west-coast States. Only one hails from the vast expanse in-between. Not a single Southwesterner or even, to tell the truth, a genuine Westerner (California does not count).

They’d have voted his way if he were Randolph Scott.

What else have you heard today?

Update: More hilarity.

At Politico, Fredrik DeBoer informs us that The Left is already planning its next move, which is to legitimize polygamy. ” …the marriage equality movement has been curiously hostile to polygamy, and for a particularly unsatisfying reason: short-term political need,” he writes. Yeah, that’s got to be the only reason The Left is curiously hostile to polygamy, because you know we gravitate to stuff like that like ants to a sandwich.

Bobby Jindal wants to get rid of the Supreme Court. He may have been joking; it’s hard to tell. Ted Cruz is not joking, however.

The time has come, therefore, to recognize that the problem lies not with the lawless rulings of individual lawless justices, but with the lawlessness of the Court itself. The decisions that have deformed our constitutional order and have debased our culture are but symptoms of the disease of liberal judicial activism that has infected our judiciary. A remedy is needed that will restore health to the sick man in our constitutional system.

Rendering the justices directly accountable to the people would provide such a remedy. Twenty states have now adopted some form of judicial retention elections, and the experience of these states demonstrates that giving the people the regular, periodic power to pass judgment on the judgments of their judges strikes a proper balance between judicial independence and judicial accountability. It also restores respect for the rule of law to courts that have systematically imposed their personal moral values in the guise of constitutional rulings.

In other words, we’ll make sure we can keep ‘em on a leash with a little political demagoguery.

Ron Dreher: This is a sign that democracy is dying.

Bill “Always Wrong” Kristol has picked up the “peak leftism” ball and is running with it.

It’s the summer of 2015, and the left is on the march. Or perhaps one should say—since the left presumably dislikes the militarist connotations of the term “march”—that the left is swarming. And in its mindless swarming and mob-like frenzy, nearly every hideous aspect of contemporary leftism is on display.

Oh, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet, Bill.

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The Other Shoe Drops — Marriage Equality Wins!

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Obama Administration

In a long-sought victory for the gay rights movement, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the Constitution guarantees a nationwide right to same-sex marriage.

The 5-to-4 decision, the culmination of decades of litigation and activism, came against the backdrop of fast-moving changes in public opinion, with polls indicating that most Americans now approve of same-sex marriage.

As in earlier civil rights cases, the Supreme Court had moved cautiously and methodically, laying careful judicial groundwork for a transformative decision.

I was just writing about rightie heads exploding today over the Obamacare decision. It’s going to be fun today! I’ll get back to that other post later.

Update: I take it Kennedy wrote the majority opinion and Roberts wrote the dissent. I guess we pretty much know who voted how.

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SCOTUS Saves Obamacare!

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Health Care, Supreme Court

Vote was 6-3, Scalia, Thomas and Alito dissenting.

 Update: Roberts wrote the majority opinion. Apparently Scalia had a hissy fit and more or less accused the other justices of bowing to pressure. “We should start calling this law SCOTUScare,” he said.

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The Route

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Obama Administration, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

While acknowledging it’s just symbols and there are still real battles to fight, I am finding the sudden political retreat on symbols of the Confederacy fascinating, if only as a socio-cultural phenomenon. Josh Marshall wrote

I still cannot believe the Charleston Massacre has triggered quite this total a collapse of support, not just for flying the Confederate battle flag in places of honor at Southern state capitols, but for public display and honor for the Confederacy and the War of the Rebellion in almost any form. Whatever the precise cause or convergence of under-noticed trends, there now seems like no doubt that we are witnessing a watershed in the country’s long, wretched and denial-ridden wrestling with the public memory of the Civil War.

As the song says — There’s somethin’ happenin’ here; what it is ain’t exactly clear

For years, most of the American Right has defiantly refused to give up the Confederate flag and all symbols of the Lost Cause. Now, all of a sudden, it’s like some of them can’t put the Confederacy behind them fast enough. What happened?

Someone writing from Charleston made the point that one of Dylann Roof’s victims, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, was also a state senator, and he was a well-known and popular figure. The writer continues,

I have been pleasantly surprised by the number of Republican Senators who have come forward to release very personal statements about Sen. Pinckney’s death, especially among the Lowcountry delegation. The statements made about him strike me as more than just the generic nice things one is supposed to say.

Put another way, Roof made the very amateur mistake of killing people who couldn’t be turned into “thugs” by right-wing media. Every single outrageous harming or killing of a black citizen in recent memory has been followed by an avalanche of smears of the victim. Even the petite teenage girl roughed up by a cop at a Texas pool party was smeared on Fox News, I understand. Maybe I’ve missed it, but I haven’t heard any such smears this time.  

It was a Bible study group, after all, killed by a teenage punk who had been planning it for months. No excuses this time.

This explanation is probably closer to it, though.

The Confederate battle flag — that bellicose assertion of a Southern “heritage” otherwise known as “white supremacy,” that defiant, “fuck you” of a symbol in whose honor the blood of far more than nine people has been shed — it wasn’t suddenly toxic because of last week’s massacre in Charleston. Multinational corporations, and the politicians they keep on retainer, weren’t disowning the flag because of a popular movement. The people hadn’t had the time to organize. The pavement on this road to Damascus was still wet.

Instead, what was actually happening, behind the scenes, wasn’t nearly so romantic. No one was breaking from their usual habits. Everyone, in fact, was doing what they always did. The profit-seeking entities were trying to maximize future earnings; and the state-level politicians were following their demands. This wasn’t a case of the powers-that-be doing something they resented. No one was pushed here; everyone was ready to jump.

In other words, all that white supremacy stuff is bad for business.

Not for the first time in 2015, the conservative movement has found itself on the losing side of a culture war battle it once routinely won. And just as was the case in Indiana, when a petty and combative anti-gay law inspired national boycotts and a business-sector backlash, movement conservatives cannot fathom how liberals aren’t to blame. It’s conservatives, after all, who man the ramparts to protect capitalism and big business. As he was ranting about “the left’s” war on the Confederate flag on Tuesday, one could almost hear Rush Limbaugh transform into Walter Sobchak from “The Big Lebowski,” bellowing, “Has the whole world gone crazy?!”

The conservative movement fancies itself to be pro-business, just as it fancies itself to be pro-national security. But, increasingly, their ideas are out of touch with reality on both fronts.

Yet for all the right’s professed belief in “common sense,” the reason why businesses were, metaphorically, setting the flag to the flame continued to elude conservatives, even when it was staring them in the face. As CNN, the Associated Press and others reported, the Amazons, eBays, Sears and Walmarts of the world weren’t acting out of fear or sentiment. Their motivations were straightforward, cold, and rational. Walmart wants to shed its reputation as a Red State phenomenon; Sears wants to prove it’s not exclusively for dads; Amazon’s politics are, if anything, probably “liberaltarian”; and it’s hard to imagine eBay’s pro-Confederate market was ever that big.

To paraphrase the Dao De Jing — Capitalism is not sentimental; it treats all things as straw dogs. Ironically, and incomprehensibly to the fellow quoted in the New York Times yesterday, the route of Confederate symbols isn’t the beginning of Communism. It’s Capitalism that decided Confederate symbols had to go.

So it’s probably not true, as someone else said, that Dylann Roof is pretty much singlehandedly responsible for the fall of the Confederate Flag. However, he did help create the moment that made the Route possible.

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