The US Civil War, the Terrible Economy, and the Rule of Christians

  • Chinese propaganda says the US is in a civil war;
  • How conservative propaganda ignores or blocks the good news about the economy;
  • How MAGA is right about Trump changing American politics;
  • The current facts about the economy, from WaPo and Paul Krugman;
  • MAGA notes: still using debunked climate data; open to throwing migrants out of helicopters; how MAGA is driven by white racism; Nikki Haley against another black president; conservatives at war with education; some states would send trans teens to prison; Oregon lawmaker says non-Christians are unfit for public office; Mike Johnson’s ties with Christian fundamentalists who support slavery.

Here’s an item to keep things in perspective.

BBC, 2 Feb 2024: Misinformation spreads in China on ‘civil war’ in Texas

Amid the escalating border standoff between Texas and the White House over illegal immigration, misinformation has spread in China that the Lone Star state has officially declared war to secede from the US.

[ … ]

While foreign media is largely blocked in China, content from foreign media is often cherry-picked to stoke suggestions of US internal divisions.

Sounds just like Fox News!


Media Matters, 2 Feb 2024: Fox & Friends ignored “blockbuster” jobs report for second month in a row, subtitled “353,000 jobs were added in January, nearly double what economists expected”

Because such news doesn’t fit the Fox News narrative, that Trump is good and everything done under Biden is bad.


Salon, Heather Digby Parton, 2 Feb 2024: Joe Biden’s economy is roaring back against right-wing sabotage, subtitled “The good news is that people are starting to feel it, even if they aren’t yet ready to accept that it might be real”

Nobody on planet Earth has more chutzpah than former president Donald Trump. After claiming over and over again that the stock market would crash if Joe Biden became president, in light of the market reaching yet another high this week, he had the audacity to claim — in all caps no less —“THIS IS THE TRUMP STOCK MARKET BECAUSE MY POLLS AGAINST BIDEN ARE SO GOOD THAT INVESTORS ARE PROJECTING THAT I WILL WIN, AND THAT WILL DRIVE THE MARKET UP.” He always finds a way to blame others for his failures and take credit for others’ successes. And his followers never seem to notice how obviously dishonest he is about it.


They don’t care! They love him! Even when he insults them!

AlterNet, Joe Conason, 2 Feb 2024: Opinion | Donald Trump never stops insulting his followers


Salon, Brian Karem, 1 Feb 2024: MAGA is right (sort of), subtitled “Just not the way they believe”

In what way is MAGA right?

[L]et the facts show that only one party is still on a leash and has yet to soil the Constitution. Opinions also vary on which party this is – and that depends on whether or not you adhere to facts.

So, I’m just going to come out and say it: Donald Trump’s supporters are right. Donnie Darko has changed the face of U.S. politics.

But, not the way MAGA thinks.

For years we ignored the threat staring us in our faces. Things were reasonably good in the U.S. post World War II. Then came the dark times after the Kennedy assassination. Thank God for the Beatles and great music, or many of us may not have made it through the 60s and 70s. In an infamous commercial that helped defeat Barry Goldwater, Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 campaign showed us a little girl picking daisies before the detonation of a nuclear bomb. “We must all live together or we must die,” Johnson said.

They’re right in that Trump changed American politics. But not in a good way.

You also have to admire the loyalty and the ability of his supporters to deflect any argument containing logic and facts that would impugn the imaginary character of their juvenile, demented, greedy captor. That is the type of loyalty you want from a friend or a relative in a bar fight. However, you have to be careful, some of those loyalists have the tendency to start a brawl at a baby shower (gender reveal parties are for commies).

Trump’s greatest success is conning millions of otherwise decent people into believing the rancid fiction manufactured between his makeup-stained ears is, in fact, reality.  Trump manufactured the crisis on the border, telling his faithful to ignore any plans to work together for a bi-partisan solution before he gets re-elected – so he can take the credit.

That’s also why Donald Trump wants the economy to fail this year. He doesn’t want to be remembered as the next “Herbert Hoover.” He doesn’t mind if millions suffer, he just doesn’t want to be blamed for the suffering.


The current facts about the economy.

Washington Post, 28 Jan 2024: Falling inflation, rising growth give U.S. the world’s best recovery

The European economy, hobbled by unfamiliar weakness in Germany, is barely growing. China is struggling to recapture its sizzle. And Japan continues to disappoint.

But in the United States, it’s a different story. Here, despite lingering consumer angst over inflation, the surprisingly strong economy is outperforming all of its major trading partners.

Since 2020, the United States has powered through a once-in-a-century pandemic, the highest inflation in 40 years and fallout from two foreign wars. Now, after posting faster annual growth last year than in 2022, the U.S. economy is quashing fears of a recession while offering lessons for future crisis-fighting.

“The U.S. has really come out of this into a place of strength and is moving forward like covid never happened,” said Claudia Sahm, a former Federal Reserve economist who now runs an eponymous consulting firm. “We earned this; it wasn’t just a fluke.”

And this.

Paul Krugman, NY Times, 1 Feb 2024: Our Economy Isn’t ‘Goldilocks.’ It’s Better.

…a quick summary of the good news that has come in just in the past few weeks.

First, inflation. For both historical and technical reasons, the Fed aims for 2 percent inflation; over the past six months, its preferred price measure has risen at an annual rate of … 2 percent. “Core” inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, has been running slightly below target.

The Fed also looks at wage growth, not because workers have caused inflation, but because wages are usually the stickiest part of inflation and therefore an indicator of whether disinflation is sustainable. Well, on Wednesday, the Employment Cost Index came in below expectations and is now more or less consistent with the Fed’s target. On Thursday we learned that productivity has been rising rapidly, so unit labor costs are easily consistent with low inflation.

It’s true that prices haven’t actually gone back down, but a one-time jump in prices is normal after a major disruption, like the conversion back to a peacetime economy after World War II or a pandemic that temporarily shut down normal activity.

Finally, real G.D.P. grew a very solid 3.3 percent in the fourth quarter, making all those predictions of a 2023 recession look even sillier.

As typically happens when there’s a Democrat in the White House, the usual suspects are questioning the official data. But the strength of the job market and the fall in inflation are confirmed by many independent surveys of consumers and businesses.

So it has been good news all around. This is arguably the best economy we’ve had since the late 1990s.

What does all of this say about policy and politics?

This is actually the point of Krugman column. That all this has happened, perhaps despite, perhaps because of, his progressive policies.

President Biden has spent a lot of money on progressive priorities. Many critics, including some Democrats, predicted that this spending would have catastrophic effects.

… We did in fact get a one-time burst of inflation, but so did other advanced countries, and America has in other ways greatly outperformed its peers — probably in part because Biden’s spending boosted growth and employment. Now that we’ve achieved what appears to be a better-than-Goldilocks soft landing, Bidenomics looks pretty good in retrospect. Maybe progressive economic policies don’t necessarily lead to disaster, after all.

And he closes by summarizing how

many voters — especially Republicans — seem to base their evaluation of the economy on their politics rather than the other way around. Amid all the good news I’ve just laid out, 71 percent of Republicans say the economy is getting worse, while only about 7 percent say it’s getting better.

Believing in stories their MAGA king and Fox News tell.


More about the MAGA movement.

Media Matters, 1 Feb 2024: Fox News’ Jesse Watters cites debunked claim to argue that climate scientists fabricated US temperature data

MediaIte, 1 Feb 2024: Congressman Suggests Migrants Charged with Assaulting Cop Should Be Thrown from Helicopters

Salon, Chauncey DeVega, 1 Feb 2024: Trump’s enduring success is fueled by disdain for Democrats, subtitled “Beyond MAGA, the Republican coalition is held together only by an opposition to multi-ethnic democracy”

Which is to say, it’s about white racism.

Trumpism and the larger neofascist and MAGA movement are not animated by “working class” rage and resentment. The mainstream news media can make an infinite number of trips to the diners, churches, bowling alleys, gun shows, and flea markets of Trumplandia and it will not change that fact. The MAGA movement is driven primarily by white racism and white identity politics. The ultimate goal is protecting and expanding white privilege and white power for white people.

Moreover, as shown by public opinion and other research, a large percentage if not outright majority of these White Americans support ending democracy and replacing it with some form of authoritarianism — if white people are no longer the most powerful group in the country. Thus, the language of “freedom” and “democracy” as used by many on the American right-wing in the post-civil rights era (and before), and especially the Age of Trump, really means “white democracy” and “white freedom” where elections are legitimate and to be respected only if they win.

For example,

Boing Boing, 31 Jan 2024: Nikki Haley says Kamala Harris shouldn’t be President because she is Black

Which is to say, Barack Obama upset some white supremacists, and so no other black person should be president for fear of upsetting them further.


Recurring themes:

Republicans against education.

Vox, 1 Feb 2024: Conservatives have long been at war with colleges, subtitled “A brief history of the right’s long-running battle against higher education.”

Because, I’d surmise, religious inculcation does not survive higher education. (Stories v reality.)

Republicans against trans teens

LGBTQNation, 2 Feb 2024: Texas demands trans teens private medical records. Florida and Utah want to send them to prison., subtitled “Texas is demanding people’s medical records. Indiana is investigating doctors. And an anti-trans bill in Iowa died.”

Republicans against non-Christians

Hemant Mehta, Friendly Atheist, 1 Feb 2024: Oregon lawmaker tries to walk back comment that atheists are unfit for public office, subtitled “State Rep. E. Werner Reschke now says he was ‘grossly taken out of context.’ He was not.”

Here is what he said.

“Those are the type of people that you want in government making tough decisions during tough times,” Reschke continued. “You don’t want a materialist. You don’t want an atheist. You don’t want a Muslim. You want somebody who understands what truth is and understands the nature of man, the nature of government, and the nature of God.”

“If you don’t understand those things, you’re gonna get things wrong,” he concluded. “In Oregon … we have a lot of people who are godless, unfortunately, leading the way and it’s the blind leading the blind.”

I think he’s the one who has things wrong, and I find his religious certitude and arrogance frightening.


And finally,

Daily Beast, 31 Jan 2024: The ‘Profound Influence’ of Christian Extremists on Mike Johnson, subtitled “Speaker Mike Johnson’s spiritual journey reveals ties to Christian fundamentalists who support slavery. Johnson’s office won’t say where he stands on that issue.”

There really are conservative reactionaries who are fine with slavery, the subjugation of women, and throwing migrants (and gays) out of helicopters. They call themselves Christians, and they think God is on their side.

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