SocraticGadfly: 5/12/19 - 5/19/19

May 17, 2019

No, Trump is not a fascist; he's a disjunctive president

Rather, per Corey Robin, as most recently articulated here, and originally expressed here, he is a "disjunctive" president, usually the last type of president in each round of what has come to be known as the First through Sixth Party Systems.

The First Party System was our original 1789 start.

The Second Party System began with Andrew Jackson, and Martin Van Buren teaming with him to form the antecedents of the modern Democratic party after original parties disintegrated under Monroe's Era of Good Feelings.

The Third Party System started with Lincoln as first Republican president. Free-soil movements outside the Democratic and Whig parties, as well as some within the party, helped lead to the end of the Whigs and the formation of the new movement.

The Fourth Party System began with McKinley. Republicans worked, as did Democrats, to accommodate at least some ideas of the Populist, then the Progressive, movements.

The Fifth Party System started with FDR. FDR's Democrats had to accommodate surging union rights, then Socialist turned Democrat Upton Sinclair's EPIC and Huey Long's Share the Wealth, which lead FDR to the Second New Deal. Per Robin, myself and many historians and political scientists and contra Wiki's expressed uncertainty, it ended with Jimmy Carter.

We're now in the Sixth Party System. Is it ending, is the question.

And, we need to look at Robin now to consider that.

Robin, and others, postulate four types of presidents, explained at his second link. The first, who will kick off a new system, he calls "reconstructive." The second, he calls an "articulation" president. Think of LBJ working to broaden, deepen and expand the New Deal. The third is a "preemptive" president. These presidents usually come from the minority party in a system, and attempt to pick off elements of the majority party's program while rebaptizing them. Think of Nixon, as Robin says, agreeing to the creation of the EPA, among other things, recognizing that environmentalism was bipartisan, but pandering to whites on things like crime and integration.

The fourth is the "disjunctive" president mentioned up top. Robin notes that previous examples include Carter, Herbert Hoover and Frank Pierce. (I'd add Buchanan here, with the Second Party System ending with back-to-back disjunctive presidents.) They are, or have been in the past, of the presidential majority party, and essentially go down with the ship of a dying program, at least to some degree.

Now, we get to a key point.

Robin notes, as I have outlined above, that other than the fading-away disintegration of the First System, the others up to this point have had their demise hastened by outside pressures. At the same time, he notes that these disjunctive presidents often see the problems and try to reach outside their current structures, to the degree they feel they can.

Now, this didn't happen at all with Pierce-Buchanan. And, arguably, it didn't with Benjamin Harrison. However, Grover Cleveland, second presidency, weirdly acts almost like a Republican in this. It certainly did happen with Hoover, who did try some stimulus, and some parts of which, like the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, carried on under FDR. And Carter, arguably the first fully, or nearly fully, neoliberal Democratic president, deregulated airlines, trucking and other industries.

And, he says that that doesn't really seem to be the case, as he explains in detail at his first link.

Anti-free trade, Trump's one bellwether, has no more support among the ruling class of Democrats than among Republicans. It's the only real way he's reached outside his traditional party.

Is that alone anything like the free-soil movement, Populism or Progressivism? I think not and neither does Robin. Meanwhile, single-payer national health care has yet to reach that critical mass to prod leadership Democrats.

So, are we stuck with a Sixth Party System that won't die, but just becomes more broken? Maybe.

I certainly agree with Robin otherwise. Trump is not a fascist, no more than he's a colluder with Putin. But he does have some other parallels with Carter. Neither won a majority of popular votes in their respective primary drives; related, both had fractured primaries with multiple seemingly viable candidates.

To explain more, and adapted from a response comment by me below.

Robin's idea is that Trump is not a fascist precisely because he fits in an established arc of types of presidencies. A disjunctive-type presidency isn't really compatible with stereotypical fascist actions. I suppose in some sort of theoretical outlier, you could have a fascist president lurking behind seemingly disjunctive activities, or you could have an inept fascist who winds up as a disjunctive president but I see those as really hypothetical.

I don't see Trump as a non-inept fascist, and to some degree, I think inept fascist is a contradiction in terms. (Mussolini made the mistake of taking an unprepared Italy to war; in domestic policy from 1922-1938, he was actually pretty ept, so he doesn't fit the definition of inept fascist.)

So, with all that explainer? Robin is showing how pretty much one can't be a fascist and be a disjunctive president, and then showing how Trump IS a disjunctive president.

Personally, I've rejected the idea Trump was a fascist from the time he took office, and for two reasons.

One is that, like Robin, I don’t think Trump’s a fascist.

The second is that #TheResistance was near the forefront of calling him a fascist, as an epithet if nothing else. It was sometimes tied to the Putin collusion claims, and we’ve seen how wrong it was on that. Even if it/Donut Twitter HAD been partially right, I wasn’t going to play along.

BUT … Corey notes previous great alignments have had outside pressures too and none currently exist.
What we seem to be mooting now is a purely political reconstruction, shorn of the social movements that helped make previous left reconstructions what they were. 
Robin notes that this means the increased polarization of the two mainstream parties is less open to outside movements.

If he’s right, then maybe we’re still in the Sixth Party System, and assuming Trump loses and it’s not to Bernie Sanders, the transition goes on for a while — if we’re even going to be in a transition.

And, if he's right, it's all the more reason to not be tempted by the duopoly.

May 16, 2019

Dean Singleton, hypocrite par excellence
of the dying newspaper industry

The Wall Street Journal recently ran a graphics-heavy piece about how larger and mid-sized regional daily papers continue to bleed both circ and ad money.

In it, Dean Singleton, founder of Media News, eventually acquired by Dead Fucking Media related to a Media News bankruptcy, followed by further bankruptcies of DFN, which is now owned by hedge fund Alden Capital, said:
“What Alden is doing is liquidating,” said Dean Singleton, who founded the company that now forms the crux of MNG Enterprises and pioneered several newspaper cost-cutting measures, but who is no longer associated with the company. “They are taking the cash out as quickly as they can and reinvesting in businesses they think have more promise. It may be a very good business strategy, but it is not a good newspaper strategy.”
Problem is, Dean, you did this and similar yourself.

Anecdote has it that, decades ago, after you bought your hometown Graham (Texas) Leader, and the chamber of commerce head or someone said, "Great, we don't have to worry about cuts to our paper now" or something like that, you allegedly said "Don't count on it."

Non-anecdote has you closing the Fort Worth Press and Houston Post after acquiring them. Ditto for the Dallas Times Herald.

As chair of AP's board of directors in the mid-1990s, you touted the "TV model" for online papers, ignoring the existence of pay cable channels more than 15 years old by then.

As a result of this, you underpriced AP feed to Yahoo and other early news aggregators, setting the stage for everybody getting their wire news online now, and finding it unpaywalled somewhere.

Between the two, the "TV model" and the related underpricing of AP news, many people "learned" that Stewart Brand was right about information wanting to be free. But they ignore the whole paragraph of Brand's full quote:

And, cuz Merika and race to the bottom capitalism, the fight was never equal, especially when Deano put one thumb on the scale of free. (Brand himself claims he's blamed for a lot of tech-neoliberalism stuff that is not his fault. The rest of that interview indicates he's lying to himself if he really believes that and lying to the rest of us anyway.)

That was after putting his thumb on the "free" of tax writeoffs and other reasons for closing the papers he did above. (The Fort Worth Press was in its second incarnation, for example, and losing money when Dean bought it, almost certainly for tax purposes first.)

Even in places you kept open, long before Alden, you were a Chainsaw Al Dunlap. Thanks in part to you, the Oakland Tribune will soon be a weekly. The papers of the whole BANG, the Bay Area News Group, were a laughing stock to Bay Area news junkies, then a crying shame.

As far as Dead Fucking Media allegedly killing a great newspaper in Denver? Well, Deano, you and Media News did that a decade ago. It was called the Rocky Mountain News. And it was better than the Post, Deano. Just like the Times Herald was better than the Snooze in Dallas.

Shut up and go away, Dean.

Actually, no ... first tell us how much in the way of tax writeoffs you've gotten from newspaper manipulation and shutting. THEN shut up and go away.

And, Wall Street Journal? Stop uncritically interviewing or quoting him. Ditto for Denver's outpost of the Business Journal chain, where Dean never admits one word that his long-ago stance with the AP has contributed to the plunge at daily newspapers in general.

May 15, 2019

ConservaDem Chris Bell is running for Senate

May run was the word from the Trib about Bell, conservative enough to make Beto O'Rourke look like teh librulz. Now confirmed.

And, his "ethics" schtick in his 2006 gov run ran thin when he endorsed Bill King in the 2015 Houston mayoral runoff.

Beyond that, he's as bland as paint drying on a wall.

Does Bell think there's some call for him? In a field with four already declared candidates?

TX Progressives look at late-session Lege nuttery,
runoff elections, climate change

The Texas Progressive Alliance practices saying sine die in the mirror and wondering what new stupidity the Texas Lege will offer up in its last two weeks as it brings you this week's roundup.

Brains and David Bruce Collins talk about HB 2504 which, if it passes the Senate and is signed by Gov. Abbott, greatly reduces the hurdle for third-party ballot access — at the price of paying duopoly party filing fees, which were intended to have those parties, with primaries, reimburse the state and counties for election costs. And since Texas shunts new parties into a non-primary convention system, this is not really fair. Yours truly also weighs in. Brains, like me, sees the Libertarians as Drew Springer's main and original target; the reduction in ballot access requirement percentages was only a late amendment probably added to kick Democrats and Springer has offered his original bill in years past.

Several other items have made news from the last week or so in the Lege, with just weeks left on the session.

Off the Kuff warns that the end of the SOS voter purge lawsuit is not the end of the story.

The Texas House has passed a bill to stop the state from executing severely mentally ill defendants. Its Senate chances? 

After the state lost a federal district court battle over its anti-BDS bill, the Lege passed and Greg Abbott has signed, a “looser” bill that seems just as unconstitutional.

Although it failed in the House, Dan Patrick's wingnuts in the Senate have resurrected (I see what I did there) the "save Chick-fil-A" bill. Why anybody but Religious Right virtue signalers like that bland white-meat chicken on bland, soggy white-bread buns, I don't know.

The new Sandra Bland video is raising plenty of controversy over the DPS and AG Ken Paxton reportedly never giving it to her parents during their lawsuit. Michael Barajas reports there’s also now claims that TV station KXAN may have spiked running it on local news a year or so ago. 

Eric Trayson explains why one House bill (stopped by a Democratic point of order last week) was a mortal threat to trans people like himself.

Ross Ramsey at The Trib says GOP legiscritters caught a break when the sales tax for property tax swap bill never came to a vote.

Related to that, Scott Braddock sees a crackup coming in Texas Republican tax orthodoxy.

Sanford Nowlin talks about Bryan Hughes' SB9, which many civil rights groups see as voter suppression.

Environment Texas provides another legislative update.

At the Dallas Observer, Stephen Young, who's showing more and more chops, looks at what to expect, and his priorities, before the Lege hits sine die.

Outside the Lege? 

SocraticGadfly continues his Greens s Democrats Green New Deal series with Part 4 about ag tech and its role in addressing climate change.

In a two-parter, Jim Schutze explains environmentalism’s role in the Dallas mayoral runoff and how runoff candidate Eric Johnson makes the man he’d like to succeed indirectly as Dallas’ second black mayor, Ron Kirk, look like a raving liberal

The Texas Observer reports on how discussion is heating up about unpaid prison labor. 

The Trib nutes how the state GOP continues to refuse to discuss climate change (even as Houston floods again)  while Trump’s border wall could exacerbate climate-driven flooding on both sides of the Rio Grande and in likely violation of a border treaty, the Observer reports.

Better Texas Blog is concerned about Medicaid managed care protections.

The Texas Living Waters Project uses the Austin Central Library to showcase the value of rainwater capture, condensate reuse and reclaimed water.

The Rivard Report reviews the data from San Antonio's Mayoral election.

May 14, 2019

Rod Rosenstein blasts James Comey into bits

Former Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein has turned both barrels on former FBI Director James Comey, calling him a "partisan pundit" who trampled "bright lines that should never be crossed."

The specific target of his ire is how Comey handled reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails adn server after then-AG Loretta Lynch had had her conflict-of-interest inducing meeting with Bill Clinton on the Phoenix tarmac.

Rosenstein is totally right. It was grandstanding, as I said at the time, and not SOP, either. Then-Deputy AG Sally Yates, Rosenstein's predecessor should have been contacted by Comey and she should have been asked to get Lynch to officially recuse herself, then take over. If Yates refused to act, then it's out of Comey's hands (other than leaking to the press).

That's why I said, in reviewing it, that Comey's book should have been called "A Higher Loyalty to His Self-Image."

Rosenstein said he would have handled Comey's firing differently had it been just him, not Trump, but that Comey deserved to be fired.

He did.

Period and end of story, Donut Twitter and Resistance.

May 13, 2019

Top blogging for April

Not all of the following blog posts were written in April, but they're among the 10 most read.

Tops was calling out the racist and cornpone history of The Masters before it got turd-polished.

Second and fourth were related — calling out Donut Twitter and The Resistance for refusing to accept reality on the Mueller Report, followed by, in essence, calling out Muller himself for some self-inflicted cockblocks on his work.

Third was sports-related: part two of my look at career milestones Albert Pujols is chasing this year.

Fifth was my take on the Julian Assange arrest. That included (I see a theme) calling out whataboutism related to it.

Also in the top 10? Calling out the St. Louis Cardinals for not signing Dallas Keuchel.

Finally, I "called in" Bill Weld for officially challenging Donald Trump.