Coop Scoop: Students Loans, Democrat Upswing and Civil War (resend)
Dems are up. Trump is down. Students told to suffer like ancestors.
The Coop Scoop by Marc Cooper is a reader-supported publication that is free to all. But it can continue only if you subscribe.
August 26, 2022
By Marc Cooper
Whoever said nothing happens in August? I am sitting here with literal boxes and boxes of news accumulated over the last fortnight or so and it is kind of a challenge to find a starting point. And by the time you read this, there will yet another bundle of news in the form of that redacted affidavit used to support the search of a Mar-A-Lago (which I will respond to in another day or two so keep an eye out for it.)
So, on this Thursday afternoon, it seems we must begin with at least a few words about the student debt relief plan. It’s a crucial issue that is being played out in the political theater of absurd. We continue to be the ONLY developed country in the world that forces its young to carry huge loan burdens to go to college. The only one. Then again, we are the only developed country in the world without universal health care, without universal paid and adequate family leave – hell, we don’t even provide sufficient nursing stations (in contrast, no kidding, to Bangladesh!).
Kudos to Joe Biden for stepping up on this one. And shame on Joe Biden for coming up with such a niggardly, anemic bail out that must have Big Bankers and other recipients of billion dollar hand outs, laughing their asses off in private.
No doubt there will be some millions of students who will get some, if relatively, minor relief from the sadistic system of student loans. But, overall, this mini-program will do about as much to solve the overwhelming crisis of higher education as the recent mini-gun bill will do to freeze the weekend urban free fire zones: next to nothing.
It’s not just a question of providing more adequate monetary relief to students, the entire American university industry is in a continuing crisis that requires the sort of massive structural change that is far beyond the imagination and will power of our shrivel-hearted, small-minded politicians.
(I will take advantage here to promote investigative reporter Paul Pringle’s bang up book, Bad City, who rips the scab off the festering and oozing corruption at the University of Southern California, from where I excitedly and happily retired 7 years ago. Great book. Even better that a couple of alums worked with him in original reporting. Read this book and your only conclusion should be that private universities should be nationalized and their administrators should be reviewed for possible trial).
That said, the onerous reaction from literally millions of Americans that the loan relief is “unfair” because they or others had to payback their loans and so should these ne’er do well slackers should be taken very seriously. Not that there is even a sliver of truth in the complaint, but rather the complaint reveals a whole lot about the people making it
At age 71, I still cling to the tattered notion that humans are born without much ethical or moral guideposts in either direction, though I do believe there is a certain inborn human compassion and even solidarity that gets stamped down by the 3rd grade.
What do we glean, then, from a popular chorus, that demands you and everybody else suffer as much as they complainers claim to have when younger. That’s one helluva of a nasty, competitive, I would say, even, a Hunger Games attitude that did not fall from the sky, nor was it inborn. Nope.
This view perfectly reflects the moral code of Late Stage Capitalism: “Dude, it’s dog eat dog. I’m gonna get mine and I don’t really give a AF about you unless you cut into my stuff and then…”. You think, maybe, this could explain the global malaise we are in that is hardly limited to the U.S. What else explains the virulent nativism shaking Europe, the constant turmoil in France, the coming election of a fascist party leader to lead Italy’s government and so on? When Trump was first elected there were a lot of analyses out there that shed great sympathy for his supporters driven awry by “economic anxiety.” I agree with that. But almost 7 years have passed, If that isn’t enough time for the Trumpies to understand how they have been manipulated, then there is very little that can be done. The sympathy has expired.
I am sorry to be so dogmatic but I cannot find any other explanation other than increasing social fragmentation, gross inequality, deep alienation and lonliness of the sort produced by mammoth, unfeeling, profit-driven, Late Stage Capitalism that can produce such universal discontent.
Meanwhile, the Booby Prize for most idiotic reaction to Biden’s move goes to the cornfields of Indiana where Republican Congressman, “Guardian of Small Business,” and all around Dope, Rep. Jim Banks, tweeted out that keeping kids in college would deprive the US military from recruiting enough desperate souls to send to the battlefields.
By the way, I had a student loan. In 1969, I got a $300 U.S. government loan from, I think, the Defense Department? Can’t remember. I think I paid it back. Can’t guarantee that. But here’s the point. 1n 1969, to attend a fine four year state college in Los Angeles cost $329 per year. That same state school todays costs $21,000 a year for California residents and $32,000 for out of staters. Sort of hard to believe.
I still have much more to tell you about the possible change in Democratic fortunes and some thoughts on what a new civil war might mean. But I have to interrupt for a moment.
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And now we continue below:
POLITICAL PHASE SHIFT?
The results in the New York special election have buoyed the spirits of Democrats who are now being told – by the media—that the shitty political atmosphere favoring Republicans that set in a year ago after the Afghan withdrawal has been reversing itself.
I think that might be true, but only partially. I don’t want to sound like Hannity here, but the truth is that most on screen media pundits are pro-Democrat. I don’t have a problem with that per se. But, as an avid consumer of news, I noticed right after the Kansas vote, that the pundits were already declaring a political shift. In the last 24 hours, that has become a ubiquitous media thought.
But, I wonder, how the pundits determined that shift, beyond the hard count in Kansas? Did they do any research? Any data hunting? No. I suspect because THEY FELT BETTER about the political situation post-Kansas, they decided to project that more broadly and universalize it.
(Remember these are the same pundits who 1. Told us for months nobody cared about January 6 until that NBC poll last week revealed 57% of Americans want the investigation of Trump to continue, not end. And 2. Not one of them predicted the outcome achieved in New York so I would not pay much attention to them.)
Personally, I believe there is, indeed, some movement away from a Republican Red Wave in November but that’s not the whole picture. The most reliable of experts who follow congressional elections, Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report, has upgraded his prediction for Senate control to “leans Democrat” and he has revised down the projected number of seats the Dems might lose in the House from as many as 30-35 to maybe 15-20.
Breathing a little easier when it comes to the midterms seems in order but not becoming complacent. The Republican Party is torn in several different directions but is basically a very active and therefore dangerous and reckless zombie. It has no program. None. It has no brain, for sure. Even Mitch the Owl was on the tube the other day lamenting, almost crying, over the sad state of those goofball Republican troll candidates who were imposed on the party by Trump’s endorsement.
Even if the Democrats emerge from the midterms in suitable form, the fight for democracy remains as intense and unsure as ever. Even if the GOP takes the House in 2022, it cannot directly legislate given a Democratic president and senate. However, there are today 26 American states with Republicans in charge.
Just as was the case in the last two momentous abortion cases, there’s no obstacle whatsoever to Republican legislatures coming up with the most horrendous bills that will be challenged, and then approved by the rightwing Supreme Court and then imposed on the nation as a whole. So you should expect a barrage of anti-LGBT, anti-abortion, and Godknowswhatelse moves coming right at us over the next two years.
I am as torn over where we are headed as anybody else. I deeply believe the authoritarian option is still out there and healthy. On the other hand, it might just be that Ayatollah Alito and his trusty SCOTUS deputies have inadvertently set America back on a path to eventual recovery.
WHAT ABOUT THAT NEW CIVIL WAR
After the midterms and going into the general election of 2024, mounting tensions set in motion over the last five years are bound to intensify. We are already inundated with predictions of civil war and those will only increase.
My view is that we are already in IT. It, not precisely being a civil war with opposing armies fighting for territory. But IT being a new era of political violence that will increase and metastasize. Look at the attack on the FBI office in Cincinnati for an example of what I mean.
My interest in this issue burns brightly. Having survived the 1973 military coup in Chile and watching the construction of a fascist movement to bring it about and then support it, remains as a seminal, formative experience. I see many similarities with our current conjuncture and monitor them carefully.
In that light, I went through quite carefully about three dozen essays and lectures on the issue of a new American civil war. What I found was one outstanding, neat and economical take by former War College prof Tom Nichols writing in the Atlantic two weeks ago. I think he hits the nail right on the head. It’s somewhat reassuring. And somewhat not. He describes a large stratum of the US population that has cut itself off from the real world and remains mired in a toxic mix of brooding fantasy and resentment. Lost Souls upon whom Donald Trump and his Stop the Steal fantasy have granted a personal identity, a romantic cause to fight for, and maybe most importantly, has given them a few friends and community. Nichols writes:
“The United States now faces a different kind of violence, from people who believe in nothing—or at least, in nothing real. We do not risk the creation of organized armies and militias in Virginia or Louisiana or Alabama marching on federal institutions. Instead, all of us face random threats and unpredictable dangers from people among us who spend too much time watching television and plunging down internet rabbit holes.”
“These people, acting individually or in small groups, will be led not by rebel generals but by narcissistic wannabe heroes, and they will be egged on by cowards and instigators who will inflame them from the safety of a television or radio studio—or from behind the shield of elected office. Occasionally, they will congeal into a mob, as they did on January 6, 2021.”
“There is no single principle that unites these Americans in their violence against their fellow citizens. They will tell you that they are for “liberty” and “freedom,” but these are merely code words for personal grudges, racial and class resentments, and a generalized paranoia that dark forces are manipulating their lives. These are not people who are going to take up the flag of a state or of a deeper cause; they have already taken up the flag of a failed president, and their causes are a farrago of conspiracy theories and pulpy science-fiction plots.”
“What makes this situation worse is that there is no remedy for it. When people are driven by fantasies, by resentment, by an internalized sense of inferiority, there is no redemption in anything. Winning elections, burning effigies, even shooting at other citizens does not soothe their anger but instead deepens the spiritual and moral void that haunts them.”
An illustrative case is that of Gillespie County, Texas. This is Trump County in a Trump State. Note, that in 2022 this small rural county went an astounding 69% for Trump and only 20% for Biden.
And yet, today, just 10 weeks out from the midterms, the county no longer has a functioning elections office. Turns out the office supervisor, and the two other employees, quit in unison, citing unrelenting death threats because they would no longer review the 2020 tally. Yes, you read that right. This in a county where Trump got 7 out of 10 votes!
This is happening across the country, as resignation of election and poll workers become an epidemic. A similar flight is now anticipated by the IRS as Trump and his toadies have centered fire on them.. That’s what Trump and Fox do. They pick a target and stick with it until the institution is forever weakened.
Former Republican consultant, the humorous Mike Murphy, speculated that the reason Trumpies have decided to attack the IRS after Biden allocated a huge funding increase is because it’s the only government agency that these folks really fear. “A lot of these folks,” Murphy said, “Looked at what Trump was doing in office. They didn’t like what they say but they stayed quiet as they said, well, I am doing OK so it’s all OK. Now they fear the IRS are the only guys that might get them.”
WHY TRUMP STOLE AND KEPT THOSE DOCUMENTS
I imagine FBI and DOJ officials are asking themselves the same question as they re-sort those documents, some now stained with cheeseburger drippings. Hell if I know!
But I have heard and read some pretty intriguing theories, none of which I can confirm, or deny or even have much of an opinion on.
1) He wants them as souvenirs and trophies. Trump has a robust record of “showing off” whatever suits him in a given moment. How cool would it be to show his friends [SIC] his love letter from Kim or maybe even a look at secret reports on covert operations? Maybe he just wants them to paw through nostalgically late at night when he’s alone.
2) He wants to monetize them. You know, sell the info to the highest bidder.
3) He can use the documents as leverage to blackmail the US government. Indict me and this here sheaf of nuclear data gets sent to Iran tonight.
4) He’s convinced that somewhere in those boxes, in some top secret report or another, he will find “the smoking gun” that “proves” he was railroaded into association with the Russia investigation. He will then be able to fully expose the Deep State.
The most likely of these is number one. The other options would not violate his non-existent moral code, but they would just be too difficult to execute. And don’t make light of that first “souvenir” option. It is arguably highly dangerous as Trump should not be trusted to vet any interlocutor.
On this point, I will close this edition by simply affirming: Trump ain’t getting out of this one. And Trump is no longer the problem. The problem remains an insurrectionary Republican Party and several million Very Lost Souls. ++
P.S. Just FYI for non-journalists. I am 98 percent retired having published my first words back in 1965. This newsletter constitutes most of my current “work.”
A column like this in a print publication would earn $1500-$2000 to the author. A web publication might pay about $1000. I know, because I was a columnist for some 20 years. So when people ask me why do I ask for contributions if I am retired and there appears to be little cost for the newsletter, my answer is: opportunity cost. If I write 40 or so of these per year mostly for free, it’s not too much to seek some compensation that could be had otherwise. Thanks for reading and thanks for your support.++ VENMO @marc-cooper-56022