The Cracker Project


The rightward drift of the Republican Party over the last fifty years has transformed the GOP from the representative body of the professional and business classes to the party of racialized Heartland angst. This metamorphosis has transformed the Party’s prospects as an apparently permanent minority in mid-Century to an apparently permanent lock on real policy-making power in Washington and the States. Turns out it’s fun, easy, and profitable to convince relatively privileged people they are the victims of The Conspiracy Of The Undeserving.

The only downside to this wildly successful branding shift has been that the mostly white, largely rural customer base buying this particular make of offal is shrinking as a share of the population.

American Population by Ethnicity, 1990-2030

No corporation, no matter how successful, would voluntarily choose to tie itself exclusively or predominantly to a shrinking customer base. The chronic short-termism of American politics and the belief that Republican-dominated states can use gerrymandering and “anti-fraud” voter requirements to put off the date of reckoning have convinced a critical plurality of Republican voters and politicians that the Whitey Gambit is a sustainable strategy, but, you know, math.
Washington Post

Nevertheless, as time goes on and the clock tolls more ominously, Republican efforts to appeal to more and more middle-aged white people have produced some thoroughly extreme rhetoric and policy. The President* won office largely on his promise to build a “big, beautiful wall” on the Southern border for which Mexico would, somehow, pay. Muslims would be prevented from entering the country. The efforts of the previous President to reduce police harassment of young black and Hispanic men have been halted and largely reversed. Pundits have long projected that Republican Presidential candidates would need two percent more of the white vote every cycle to counteract the country’s demographic shift. These extreme policies seem to have done the trick. President* Trump got all the honkies he needed, barely.

I’m old enough to remember when the GOP thought it needed the support of non-white voters to hold power in the United States. The combination of safe seats, an increasingly extreme donor base, and continual fear of Primary challenges from the Right has served to counteract, you know, math. So, the Cracker Project goes on.



Transphobia Is a Sham

As a parade of “bathroom bills” traipses across the landscape, every mainstream media outlet takes care to stipulate that the scary scenario of men pretending to be trans women in order to rape little girls in public restrooms is “not supported by the facts,” journo-speak for utter bullshit. As usual, the mainstream media doesn’t go far enough. Not only is the bathroom menace nonsense, the whole idea of seeing trans people as a threat is phony.

In most states, it’s legal to discriminate against trans people in employment and housing, and the recent state laws have broadened the permissible discrimination to public accommodations and even health care! In most of the US, trans people have little or no legal protections and are the most-murdered people in America. Despite the frankly bizarre assertions of a weirdly out-of-touch Southern governor, there is no group in America more maligned, victimized, marginalized, and isolated than the trans community. Not only are they not a physical threat, they are not even a cultural threat because they are such a tiny minority, most of whom live in secret.

The real reason professional activists are writing and lobbying for these laws is as ballot bait: to get gullible conservatives to the polls in an attempt to change the unfavorable demographics in the 2016 Presidential election. Now, with Donald Trump as the apparent nominee, even the Senate is up for grabs, and the rhetoric and legislation take on a particularly shrill and desperate character. There’s a reason why North Carolina has ratcheted up the severity of its voter suppression and anti-LGBT lawmaking: it was known to be a swing state in the Presidential race this year, but now the whole ballot is under Democratic threat.

So, the next time you hear someone defend anti-trans discrimination, recognize that it’s just a cheap attempt to exploit ignorant fear for political gain. It’s not an argument, or indeed a view, you need to respect. Transphobia is a sham.

Colonies are unAmerican

Puerto Rico’s debt crisis has finally reached the public consciousness thanks to Jon Oliver:

Setting aside for the moment the absurdity of public policy in the world’s most powerful country being dictated by late night comedy and variety shows, I’d like to focus instead on the absurdity of a country, founded in a revolutionary war against a colonial empire, that maintains colonies over a large part of the world.

In 1901, in a series of frankly racist majority opinions, the Supreme Court ruled that the residents of conquered and subverted lands could be denied basic protections of citizenship because they were inferior and incapable of self-government. It was one thing to accept the unacceptable when racism was a respectable and majority view. It’s quite another to assert stare decisis when you can be fired from virtually any job for spouting such odious nonsense.

The bizarre and byzantine series of statuses held by residents of different American territories is best explained by:

and, again, by Jon Oliver:

While the text contains a hole big enough to drive a truck full of Federalist Society nutjobs to a book burning, the gist of the Fourteenth Amendment is pretty clear:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

It’s also pretty clear that a country established as an Enlightenment-era political experiment in liberty is inviting some pretty serious political legitimacy questions by maintaining empire and demi-citizenship.
It produces legal and political precedents for all kinds of assaults on human rights, whether economically or politically motivated. It makes no difference whether these abuses take place overseas or in the District of Columbia. There can be no half-citizens. Every liberal and progressive should be committed to the principle of In or Out: Every place subject to American law must be part of a state whose residents have full representation both in Congress and the Executive or it must be all or part of an independent country. After all, our first rallying cry was: