The Fall of the Roman Republic and the Fall of the American Republic: Sources

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The racist history behind the 10 US Army facilities named after Confederate leaders

“the South. Mike Jason, a retired Army colonel who commanded troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, told me the region had lots of cheap land, which is why the Army in the early 1900s built bases and other facilities there. As a way to appease racist white political leaders and locals who didn’t want a more integrated military nearby, the Army named bases after Confederate “heroes” who were popular among these leaders and locals.

That’s why all 10 facilities named after those men are in the South: three in Virginia, two in Louisiana, two in Georgia, and one each in Alabama, North Carolina, and Texas.

And the Confederate officers the Army chose to name the bases after weren’t just selected at random or because of their military prowess during the Civil War. Most were specifically chosen because of their local ties. For example, Gen. Robert E. Lee and Maj. Gen. George Pickett, both Virginians, have bases named after them in the state.”

“Experts have offered three main explanations — some more convincing than others — for why those 10 facilities haven’t had their names changed: 1) the pervasiveness of the Lost Cause myth in Army culture, 2) bureaucratic inertia and competing problems, and 3) courting controversy.”

“Retired Army Gen. David Petraeus, one of the service’s most celebrated leaders before an ignominious fall, wrote an op-ed in the Atlantic on Tuesday describing how Confederate culture has persisted in the Army.

“When I was a cadet at West Point in the early 1970s, enthusiasm for Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson was widespread,” Petraeus wrote. “We were not encouraged to think deeply about the cause for which they had fought, at least not in our military history classes. And throughout my Army career, I likewise encountered enthusiastic adherents of various Confederate commanders, and a special veneration for Lee.””

“Perhaps that inaction had to do with the final explanation, which is one the Army has repeatedly used: that changing the names would stir up immense controversy within the ranks. Take, for instance, the response to a request from Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) in 2017. She asked the Army to rename two streets at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn: General Lee Avenue and Stonewall Jackson Drive.

When the Army wrote back, Diana Randon, who was at the time the service’s top official on these issues, said the two men were “an inextricable part of our military history.” Such a move would be “controversial and divisive,” she continued, and “contrary to the Nation’s original intent in naming these streets, which was the spirit of reconciliation.”

Of course, as discussed above, that is a blatant misrepresentation of why these individuals’ names were chosen. They were deliberately chosen to appease racist people, particularly in the South — not to achieve some kind of national “reconciliation.””

Why we can’t build

“America’s system of checks and balances requires unusual and even extraordinary levels of consensus to pass legislation. First, you need the agreement of the House, the Senate, the White House, and, increasingly, the Supreme Court.
More granularly, congressional power is diffused across committees. The Senate has built in a supermajority requirement, known as the filibuster, which effectively raises the threshold for passage from 51 votes to 60 votes.

This raises the question: If the problem is embedded in the structure of the US government, how did the US ever do anything big? The short answer is that for most of our political history, two unusual conditions held. First, the parties were ideologically mixed, which made compromise easier. Second, one party was usually electorally dominant, which gave the party in the minority a reason to compromise: If you can’t win, you may as well deal.

Both those conditions have dissolved. America’s political parties are more ideologically — and demographically — polarized than ever before. We’re also in the most competitive period American politics has ever seen. In a system like that, both sides utilize the system’s bias toward inaction to foil their opponents. You can see this in the rise of the filibuster over time. The rule has been around almost as long as America, but it’s only been deployed as an omnipresent veto in recent decades”

“The result is a system biased toward inaction.”

” This is representative democracy at its worst: A democracy that only represents those who know to show up at meetings most people never hear about, and so ends up handing power to special interests and aggrieved NIMBYs.”

“some of Andreessen’s examples really can’t be blamed on the government, at least not in a traditional sense.

America doesn’t have more ICU beds because hospitals have budgets to balance. You can’t both run a profitable hospital and maintain enough spare capacity for a once-in-a-century pandemic.

Similarly, the companies that make ventilators are private companies. They didn’t make more ventilators because there wasn’t demand for more ventilators. Same goes for surgical masks, eye shields, hospital gowns. Now, you can argue the government should’ve been stockpiling more of this stuff all along — and definitely should have been ramping up production in January and February — but a capitalist logic of efficiency prevails both inside and outside the market.

Take, for instance, the wildly successful Obama administration program to loan money to renewable energy companies that became infamous because one of those companies, Solyndra, was a bust. That program led to a slew of successes (including Tesla) and turned a profit to taxpayers. As Michael Lewis argues at length in his book The Fifth Risk, the problem, if anything, was that it was too cautious — so afraid of a Solyndra-like story that it wasn’t funding sufficiently risky investments. But they proved right to be afraid.

If even the government is forced to turn a constant profit on its programs and to avoid anything that might look like a boondoggle, you can imagine the pressure actual private companies are under.”