Nov 20, 2018 – Arsenal For Democracy Ep. 249


Topic: Part two of our recap of the 2018 elections, focusing primarily on Georgia, but also West Virginia and Kansas. People: Bill, Maria Jackson, and Paul Blest. Recorded: Nov 17th and 19th, 2018.

Episode 249 (28 min):
AFD 249

Related links

AFD 249 Links and Notes (PDF)


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Music by friend of the show Stunt Bird.

How the South Really Operates | The Globalist

This piece is a research essay, co-authored by Carl Bindenagel and Bill. for The Globalist. It is Part II of The Globalist’s American Mezzogiorno series. Part I, by Stephan Richter and Carl Bindenagel, is The American Mezzogiorno: A Thanksgiving Reflection. Part III (“Take the Money and Run”) can be found here.

The American South’s political power manifests itself in the following four dimensions:

1. Congressional Power
2. Agricultural handouts
3. Defense spending as a welcome stimulus
4. Antiquated thinking

Exhibit 1: Congressional Power

Prior to the 2014 mid-term elections, representatives from the American South chaired or represented a majority of members on important permanent committees and subcommittees in the U.S. House of Representatives. At the state level, Republican governors led unified government in 26 states.

American Mezzogiorno

Part I: A Thanksgiving Reflection

Part II: How The South Really Operates

Part III: Take the Money and Run (Friday)

How have these lawmakers used influential policy-positions to affect the welfare and livelihoods of their constituents? Mainly they enriched themselves, protected the powerful, and deliberately harmed the vulnerable in their jurisdictions and states.

They directed federal funding to themselves and to contractors with powerful lobbies and fought against programs to assist the poor, the abused and common citizens. Often, this included children, who are among the impoverished in America and who lack resources, including access to education.

Lawmakers’ self-serving behavior at the expense of their constituents can most clearly be seen on the defense-spending related committees in the U.S. Congress.

Southerners account for 53% of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee and 55% of the House Appropriations Committee on Homeland Security (compared to nationwide population share of 38%).

Most tellingly, the membership of the House Subcommittee on Military Construction/Veterans Affairs is now 63% southern. The Chair of the full House Appropriations Committee is a southern Republican as well.

All of this matters greatly: Under the U.S. Constitution, all spending bills must originate in the House and ultimately from its Appropriations Committee. The Republican-dominated House (and the Southern-dominated House Majority) therefore has great control over how and where federal money will be spent.

Exhibit 2: Agricultural handouts

In addition to the defense sector, in rural communities, farmers are frequently subsidized – even in the event of crop-failure or natural disasters (such as floods or droughts).

Historically, this was crucial to prevent small-family farms from collapsing. But today, with the rise of consolidated agribusiness, the picture looks very different.

Many Republican lawmakers in the U.S. House support this type of subsidy, not only for their constituents, but also to enrich themselves.

In September 2013, several of the same House members who voted to cut almost $40 billion out of food stamps over the next decade personally received hundreds of thousands or even millions of federal dollars in farm subsidies.

Take the case of Rep. Stephen Fincher. He cited a passage from the Bible as justification for his vote against providing food stamps, presuming that a needy person was just lazy.

“He who does not work will not eat,” said Fincher. But from 1999 to 2012, the gentleman himself (not his state) received more than $3.4 million in federal farm subsidies.

Fincher’s is not the only case of faulting needy working people while claiming personal privilege from the government:
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Congressional candidate: My Christian totalitarianism > Muslim totalitarianism

Georgia Congressional candidate, Baptist pastor, and right-wing radio host Jody B. Hice supports total hardline conservative Christianization of the United States society and government, while simultaneously arguing that main problem with Islam is its (purported) totalitarian control of territory and the political system.

“Most people think Islam is a religion,” Hice argued in a 2011 speech. “It’s not. It’s a totalitarian way of life with a religious component.” He expanded in his book: “It is a complete geo-political structure, and as such, does not deserve First Amendment protection.”


In 2012, Hice published It’s Now Or Never: A Call to Reclaim America via WestBow Press, a Christian self-publishing house. In the book, he made the dubious claim that the “Constitutional form of government that is the great American experiment is a distinctly Christian society,” To “reclaim America,” he argues, the nation must end abortion, prevent same-sex marriage, repeal hate-crime protections…

Does anyone have recommendations on a lawyer who can help me sue him for whiplash?

And before anyone clambers onto their high horse about “crazy Republicans,” let’s just remember that irrational U.S. anti-Muslim bigotry like this is virtually boundless, cross-partisan, and intense. Read more

Does Ken Buck dropping Senate bid mean much?

In a changeup that The Atlantic’s Molly Ball argued is “definitive proof” (as the headline writers put it anyway) that the Republican Party establishment is “getting their act together” finally against the tea party insurgents, 2010 US Senate nominee Ken Buck has dropped out of this year’s Colorado Senate primary in favor of seeking the seat of U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, who just announced he would seek the Senate seat himself. Buck, as previously covered here, is a very conservative (and very loathsome) Republican, who was the perceived frontrunner for the 2014 nomination.

I think it’s probably very premature to drop the victory balloons for Gardner, since even if nominated he’s still got an uphill battle against incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Udall, but I can see Ball’s point. If rock-solid tea party champion Ken Buck — who was already jeopardizing GOP chances of a pickup once again — can be persuaded to drop out in favor of Gardner, that would seem to be a worrying sign for Democrats who have been counting on Republicans to shoot themselves in the foot (as discussed on AFD Episode 74 this week) as the core strategy for retaining tough-to-hold seats in the Senate.

Competitive and non-competitive 2014 Senate races. (Credit: Orser67 - Wikipedia) Competitive and non-competitive 2014 Senate races. (Credit: Orser67 – Wikipedia)

That said, the examples given in The Atlantic article of establishment Republicans outmaneuvering right-wing challenges this year were in non-battleground Senate races: Texas and Wyoming, which Democrats weren’t going to win anyway this year.

Other examples we’ve seen this year like Virginia Republicans getting behind Ed Gillespie won’t prove much of anything since the Democrats will still win handily there. So I think it’s still too early to be writing trend pieces on this idea.
Read more