Monday, September 14, 2015

Could A Military Coup Happen Here? Most Republicans Would Welcome One


CNN released a new poll yesterday, but there were no questions about the presidential primaries per se. Question #34 was: "Do you happen to know what religion Barack Obama is? Is he Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Mormon, Muslim, something else, or not religious?" Although it was a plurality, only 39% got it right-- Obama is Protestant/Christian. The second biggest answer-- at 29%-- was Muslim. Among Democrats, 61% said Protestant/Christian and only 15% said Muslim. Among Republicans, the plurality was 43% and it was that the president is a Muslim. Only 28% of Republicans got the correct answer.

Is that because they are brainwashed and stupid? Many of them are, of course. Or is it because they are brainwashed and driven more by ideology than by reality?

The next question, #35, was: "On another subject, where was Barack Obama born, as far as you know?" The majority of respondents got it right. 59% said Honolulu or Hawaii. Another 16% said America. But 12% said he was born abroad (which would mean he was not eligible to be president). It probably won't surprise you to know that 85% of Democrats knew the right answer (Hawaii or USA). Even 68% of Republicans knew the correct answer. But 19% of Republicans said he was born in Africa or Kenya or Indonesia or some other country. Regionally, the area with the most profound ignorance was the South, and among teabaggers the percentage insisting Obama was born abroad was 24%. (22% of the teabaggers said they had "solid evidence" the president was born abroad. 14% said it was just a suspicion.)

Last week another polling organization, YouGov, did a completely different kind of poll, but one that is disturbingly related. Basically, they wanted to know how many Americans were willing to abandon democracy and support a military coup. Question #14 was: "Is there any situation in which you could imagine yourself supporting the U.S. military taking over the powers of federal government? " 29% of Americans said YES. Who were they? Well, you can probably guess.
43% of Republicans
32% of whites (about 10 points higher than blacks or Hispanics)

In the next question, the pollsters changed the question to: "If elected leaders of the federal government began to violate the Constitution would you support or oppose the military stepping in to take control of the federal government?" In this case, 43% overall said they would support it, 29% would oppose, and 28% were unsure. Again it was Republicans who favored a military coup most: 55%, as opposed to 36% of Democrats and 41% of independents.

In explaining their poll results, YouGov began by bringing up the story of West Point law professor William Bradford, who was forced to resign after he was caught teaching treason to cadets earlier this year. He had argued that lawyers "sympathetic to Islamist aims" could be imprisoned or even killed. Perhaps worse, Bradford had asked, "What conditions precedent would be required before the American military would be justified in using or threatening force to oust a U.S. president attempting to 'fundamentally transform the United States of America'?"
[I]t emerged that he had authored a number of controversial articles. In one he suggested that legal scholars defending the rights of suspected terrorists could be considered legitimate military targets, while in another he examined a potential military coup in the United States, arguing that officers may have a duty to sieze control of the federal government if the federal government acted against the interest of the country. The United States military has long embraced the idea of civilian control of national affairs, and apart from certain rare moments the American officer corps has faithfully followed the orders of their civilian superiors. YouGov's latest research shows, however, that officers in the military are held in much greater esteem than their civilian superiors, and that they are widely viewed as having the best interests of the country in mind instead of their own selfish concerns. 70% of Americans believe that military officers generally want what is best for the country. When it comes to Congressmen, however, 71% of Americans believe that they want what is best for themselves, along with 59% for local politicians.

Does this help explain why so many Republicans have embraced the fascism inherent in the Trump candidacy? It should, because this worship of authoritarian solutions is very much baked into the Republican Party cake, despite their phony-baloney whining about "liberty," which is almost always the liberty to lord it over people they don't agree with. Yesterday the NY Times editorial board pointed to one common example:
This past June, in the heat of their outrage over gay rights, congressional Republicans revived a nasty bit of business they call the First Amendment Defense Act. It would do many things, but one thing it would not do is defend the First Amendment. To the contrary, it would deliberately warp the bedrock principle of religious freedom under the Constitution.

The bill, versions of which have been circulating since 2013, gained a sudden wave of support after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. It is being hawked with the specter of clergy members being forced to officiate such marriages. This is a ploy, as the bill’s backers surely know: There has never been any doubt that the First Amendment protects members of the clergy from performing weddings against their will.

In reality, the act would bar the federal government from taking “any discriminatory action”-- including the denial of tax benefits, grants, contracts or licenses-- against those who oppose same-sex marriage for religious or moral reasons. In other words, it would use taxpayers’ money to negate federal anti-discrimination measures protecting gays and lesbians, using the idea of religious freedom as cover.

For example, a religiously affiliated college that receives federal grants could fire a professor simply for being gay and still receive those grants. Or federal workers could refuse to process the tax returns of same-sex couples simply because of bigotry against their marriages.

It doesn’t stop there. As critics of the bill quickly pointed out, the measure’s broad language-- which also protects those who believe that “sexual relations are properly reserved to” heterosexual marriages alone-- would permit discrimination against anyone who has sexual relations outside such a marriage. That would appear to include women who have children outside of marriage, a class generally protected by federal law.

This bizarre fixation on what grown-ups do in their bedrooms — which has long since been rejected by the Supreme Court and the vast majority of Americans-- is bad enough. The bill makes matters worse by covering for-profit companies, which greatly multiplies the potential scope of discrimination against gays and lesbians.

These are radical proposals, but they are accepted without question by many in today’s Republican Party. In its current form, the bill has 148 co-sponsors in the House and 36 in the Senate-- all Republicans but one, Representative Daniel Lipinski of Illinois. It has been endorsed by the Republican National Committee and at least four Republican presidential contenders. It is, in other words, a fair representation of right-wing reaction to the long overdue expansion of basic civil and constitutional rights to gays and lesbians.
A brief aside: The Beltway Democratic establishment has gone to considerable lengths to make sure that Dan Lipinski will never face a primary challenge.

Lipinski and DNC Chair Wasserman Schultz

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At 9:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trump would be our Mousseilini.


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