A Cold Civil War

Back in high school when most of us studied the Civil War (usually briefly and superficially), it was hard to get our heads around the extent to which Americans held wildly different world-views. I remember my own inability to understand how so many Southerners (and not a few Northerners) fervently believed their skin color entitled them to own another human being.

At the time of the Civil War, a majority of people willing to defend the institution of slavery lived below the Mason-Dixon Line, a geographic reality that made it possible to take up arms against those who disagreed. Today, most of the divisions we face lack that geographic clarity. Although it’s true that we have Red States and Blue States, we also have bright blue cities in those Red States, and Blue States have pockets of rural Red voters. So our current Civil War–and I don’t think that is too strong a descriptor–is a “Cold War,” being fought primarily with propaganda, but threatening to erupt into assaults like the January 6th insurrection.

Most readers of this blog are well aware of the recent speech given by former General Michael Flynn, at an event for QAnon believers that featured other representatives of LaLaLand like Texas Representative Louis Gohmert.

As the New York Times reported,

Michael T. Flynn, a former national security adviser, suggested that a military coup was needed in the United States during a Memorial Day weekend conference organized by adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory, drawing criticism from political scientists, veterans, Democrats and a handful of prominent Republicans.

I don’t know how many of the Southerners who ultimately took up arms in America’s first Civil War actually believed in the core precepts of slavery and “the White Man’s burden,” but thanks to advances in polling and survey research, we have a fairly accurate understanding of the percentage of our fellow-Americans who claim to believe QAnon nonsense.

A recent poll by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Interfaith Youth Core found that 14 percent of Americans, including about one in four Republicans, believed in three central tenets of the QAnon conspiracy theory: that the United States is being run by a cabal of Satanist pedophiles, that “American patriots may have to resort to violence” to get rid of that cabal, and that a “storm” will soon “restore the rightful leaders.”

In a robust democracy, fourteen percent of the population can be bat-shit crazy without endangering the Union–but we don’t have a robust democracy. As over one hundred political science scholars recently wrote, the attacks on voting underway in several states are transforming democratic decision-making into “political systems that no longer meet the minimum conditions for free and fair elections.” The scholars warn that “our entire democracy is now at risk.”

Ezra Klein recently reminded readers that Democrats face an unforgiving context:

Their coalition leans young, urban and diverse, while America’s turnout patterns and electoral geography favor the old, rural and white. According to FiveThirtyEight, Republicans hold a 3.5 point advantage in the Electoral College, a 5-point advantage in the Senate and a 2-point advantage in the House. Even after winning many more votes than Republicans in 2018 and 2020, they are at a 50-50 split in the Senate, and a bare 4-seat majority in the House. Odds are that they will lose the House and possibly the Senate in 2022.

This is the fundamental asymmetry of American politics right now: To hold national power, Democrats need to win voters who are right-of-center; Republicans do not need to win voters who are left-of-center. Even worse, Republicans control the election laws and redistricting processes in 23 states, while Democrats control 15. The ongoing effort by Texas Republicans to tilt the voting laws in their favor, even as national Republicans stonewall the For The People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, is testament to the consequences of that imbalance.

This is how a Cold Civil War is conducted. Although there may be scattered bloodshed a la January 6th, the actual battles–the coups favored by crackpots like Flynn and Gohmert and numerous other Republicans– are taking place in state-level legislative bodies where the will of the majority has been neutered by gerrymandering and on media platforms where facts are twisted or sacrificed to feed the appetites–and generate the rage– of angry  old White guys. 

What is really terrifying is the likelihood that this current iteration of Civil War will be won or lost with most Americans totally unaware that it is even being fought….


  1. They are unaware because of the amazing propaganda machinations of the oligarchy kicked into high gear after WW2.

    The connections between Joe Manchin and Charles Koch were made yesterday on Twitter by alternative media…will it make it into the propaganda outfits?

    This from Ezra, “To hold national power, Democrats need to win voters who are right-of-center.”

    This so-called statistical anomaly has to do with the oligarchic shifting the entire country toward their views which are Libertarian while the media prints up their propaganda in order to maintain their profits. Meanwhile, the hometown newspapers are drying up because they are trying to keep up with the large regional and national propaganda outfits.

    Sheila starts the post about propaganda and ends with propaganda. What happened to truth-seeking in America? Who is afraid of the big bad truth? Who doesn’t want you to know the truth? If you knew the truth, as Einstein said, you could make better decisions.

    Here is what’s great about this is the three tenets of QAnon belief are built on propaganda which deviates a grand deal from the truth, but it’s relatively close which is why those on the far-right can believe it. There is a little bit of truth to it.

    Like with all doctors and statisticians, Ezra is analyzing the effects or symptoms of a problem. What happened to the goal of identifying the causes which create the problem? That’s what truth-seeking is all about.

  2. Start becoming familiar with George Lakoff’s work. Has some pieces on UTube. It’s about framing and about the strategies to turn frames into propaganda that gives brainwashed zealots.

  3. I have yet to hear about the outrage from Texans after learning that their Attorney General admitted to Steve Bannon that he suppressed legitimate mail-in ballots, and had he not done so Democrats would have won Texas. What will it take for people to realize that we are no longer a democracy, and to take corrective action?

  4. I am currently reading “Black in Indiana” by Eunice Brewer-Trotter; local award winning journalist, first Black editor at the Indianapolis Star, former publisher and owner of the Indianapolis Recorder, held writing and editing positions at the New York Post and a long time friend. The book is about her great-great-great-grandmother and the in-depth research of realities of the slavery situation in the state of Indiana. Supposedly a “free” state, with laws against slavery, Indiana was in reality a slave-holding state by elected officials who had authored those laws, and the wealthy. A form of “Cold Civil War” here at home in the early 1800’s; countless numbers of born free and formerly freed slaves could be, and were, purchased as “indentured” servants for decades. Eunice’s great-great-great-grandmother, Mary Bateman Clark, braved the system, hers was the first case whose lawsuit won on appeal to the Indiana Supreme Court and set a precedent that helped end slavery disguised as indebted servitude.

    Not unlike gerrymandering today by elected officials and the wealthy; minorities, primarily Blacks, are contained in specific areas to control their voting and civil rights to maintain control of local governments and keep the wealth in the hands of the wealthy to in-turn maintain control of the economy. This “Cold Civil War” is a reality at the federal level of our government with the minority maintaining full control over voting rights and the economy by strong-arming our Congress.

    “What is really terrifying is the likelihood that this current iteration of Civil War will be won or lost with most Americans totally unaware that it is even being fought….”

  5. Margaret Thatcher asked; “Why is it that we have child cruelty in this age? Why is it that we have animal cruelty? Why is it that we have violence? . . . Why is it that people take to terrorism? Why is it that people take to drugs? . . . Why, when you have got everything, do some people turn to those fundamental things which undermine the whole of civilization?”

    I think she could chalk it up to human nature!

    I really love the saying, “they’ve snatched war from the jaws of peace” and that pretty much sums up human nature!

    Margaret Thatcher came up to that very conclusion of human nature when she answered her own questions, she said; “For years when I was young and in politics with all my hopes and dreams and ambitions, it seemed to me and to many of my contemporaries that if we got an age where we had good housing, good education, a reasonable standard of living, then everything would be set and we should have a fair and much easier future. We know now that that is not so. We are up against the real problems of human nature.”​

    When there is really no and game to a person’s toiling, even if there are those who are very comfortable, grievance always creeps in!

    Instead of embracing the euphemism of, “a rising tide lifts all boats” we tended not to want every boat lifted no matter how liberal minded we are. Status and stature always matter! There always has to be a top and a bottom, equality has never been a tenant of civilization throughout recorded history. What makes us think that we are so enlightened and now?

    Five of my grandmother’s brothers were murdered up north here, over the line in Wisconsin, because of the color of their skin! They weren’t living down south in Alabama or Mississippi! Her surviving brothers, the other five that made it, all served in the second world war, all were decorated, and they came back to bigotry and hatred! This was not in the South!

    As was written before, I had dealt with my own issues with individuals threatening to shoot me as I was walking to my kindergarten and first grade classes in Chicago! All because I was a darker complected child in what they called Germantown!

    In Romans 2:14, 15 we read: “For whenever people of the nations that do not have law do by nature the things of the law, these people, although not having law, are a law to themselves. They are the very ones who demonstrate the matter of the law to be written in their hearts, while their conscience is bearing witness with them and, between their own thoughts, they are being accused or even excused.”

    But what is the law, Jesus Christ explained it himself to one of the Pharisees of the Sanhedrin! Christ said to him; “‘You must love your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. The second, like it, is this: ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments the whole Law hangs, and the Prophets.” (Matthew. 22:34-40).

    So, we reconcile that with what Paul said concerning one’s conscience, and that rings true! Because people will lose their sanity when their conscience is digging at them for something that they’ve done against it! Because we know murder is wrong, even if we’ve never read it, it bothers us! The same with child abuse, the same with cheating, the same with hating your neighbor for no reason, the same with denying food and shelter, the list goes on and on! Things that we inherently know are wrong even if we’ve never read it anywhere!

    But what happens when you anesthetize your conscience? Over a period of time, when people picked the scab off of their conscience, in other words going against that conscience, it becomes numb! Just like picking a scab off of an injury, eventually scar tissue will build up underneath, and it won’t even bleed anymore let alone form a scab. And that’s what people do to their conscience! The anesthesia they crave is the permission slip of religion!

    You can’t reconcile being a true Christian, While going against one’s conscience and stockpiling guns and ammunition, this is diametrically opposed to Christ’s teachings. But, that’s where the permission slip comes in! You have those who have BASTARDIZED Religion for political purposes, and, manipulated and lied about what Scripture allows therefore alleviating individuals consciences about slavery and war and mistreatment of their fellow man!

    Make no mistake about it, and don’t self delude yourself, it all goes back to the manipulation of religion which allows people to do unspeakable things because they have that permission slip and gives them a clear conscience or at least a conscience that doesn’t hurt so bad, or bad enough for them to stop their insanity leading to a complete downfall of civilization!

    Does anyone actually think that our present day culture and society will have a different outcome than civilizations in past millennia? That in itself is a delusion!

    Margaret Thatcher herself recognize that delusion! Humankind has attempted everything as King Solomon said under the sun, and still, hasn’t figured it out! And, I might add, right now in this day and age, you couldn’t get any further away from finding a solution than we are right now!

  6. Oh and by the way, Sheila,

    You are right in quoting “the white man’s burden” or at least drawing attention to it! The venerable Rudyard Kipling was not such a swell fellow anyway!

  7. A wider perspective needs to be taken.
    This Cold Civil War is being driven by the Cold War being waged against the west by Russia. If the recent cyber attacks against American businesses and governments that originated out of Russia are not an attack on us, then I don’t know what is. Meanwhile, Trump was and remains Putin’s willing fool, and many Republican politicians, driven by their hunger for power, are also being used to divide and conquer thus aiding and abetting the enemy.

  8. It (the meanness of human beings) is not human nature! It is nature all by itself; it is the animal within us. Humanity—the human part of us—is the great lion tamer; it’s task is to keep the animal at bay and “civilize” it. When accumulated civilization fails to devote enough resources, effort, and genius to the business of civilizing its animals, the animal predator will break through its bars. What we have now is not a civil war, hot or cold; we have a kind of “science fiction” war—war as out of a science fiction novel, as well as war between science and fiction. The human part of human nature has to do better; be better at its husbandry of the livestock in its care.

  9. No Theresa, we don’t need external forces because we are doing it to ourselves as eluded to by John and Larry. Albert Einstein saw this split between the Egoic (I) and our Spiritual Self or Higher Self.

    As a result, he called both capitalism and communism, “Evil” for what it does to humankind.

    Capitalism actually feeds the worst part of our “Self”. We love God, but we don’t love our neighbor because we compete with him in all ways. Einstein said in 1949 that mankind actually “resented” his neighbor. That’s where this Hate comes from.

    Here is a quote I picked up yesterday from Putin re: his upcoming meeting with Biden — a stern warning which we all should heed:

    “The problem with empires is that they think they can afford small errors and mistakes,” which gradually accumulate, Putin said. “There comes a time when they can no longer be dealt with. And the U.S., with a confident step, a confident gait, a firm step, is walking straight along the path of the Soviet Union.”

    As John eluded, it’s Pride. And we all know where Pride leads…

  10. Well, what happens if the Republicans continue to disregard democracy and continue working to destroy our Constitution? What if they DO get all the power in government? What will they be governing?

    If they try to burn it all down for the single tenet of power, they will end up presiding over an ash heap of a society. The richest 1% will think they’ve won, but what they will control will be a gangster nation run by the worst people this country has ever produced.

    Well done, Republicans. You’ve fulfilled your post-Reagan mission statement.

  11. This morning an article in our local (Gannett) paper cited a study that said that rural white men are dying off faster than any group except indigenous people. The article indicated that one driver was opioid abuse. So it seems that life is so bad for people in rural communities that they have turned to drugs to ameliorate their lives. They seem intent on making the rest of us just as miserable as they are. Since the drugs aren’t working, maybe they should just try voting blue.

  12. As I stated yesterday, I fear we will become a nation like S Africa and its apartheid. Our great experiment in democracy is at risk due to voter suppresion laws and partisan gerrymandering. The electoral college no longer serves the will of the people.

    Congress cannot even agree on a much needed infrastructure bill or voting rights bill largely due to republican bickering about cost. They were not worried about cost when they gave the wealthy and corporations their tax cuts.

    As for human nature, I think we are a mixed bag. As the Native Americans say, we can feed the white wolf or the black wolf. I can become like Desmond Tuto or Stalin. I choose the former, the white wolf. The old animal brain has to be reined in by the frontal lobe of our brain. The frontal lobe can easily become a servant to the animal brain because the voice of fear is powerful and often clandestine. That is why people rationalize racism and their refusal to take the COVID 19 vaccine.The pandemic has shown how poor we are at reining in our animal brain.

    Today I will be reciting the Serenity Prayer and staying in the present moment. And I will choose to love my neighbor even those with whom I disagree.

  13. Todd, I am glad to see you pint out the Koch connection to Manchin. Even though Koch said they “…may have gone too far,” after 1/6, he is incapable of changing his direction, which is all about white elitism!
    James, yeah, Texas is sooo quiet.
    Larry, nature is not “mean.” Predators do not kill for thrill, but only to survive, themselves.
    Sheila, sadly, most Americans are not aware of much of anything of importance, but would know all sorts of stuff about Beyonce, the Kardashians and sports!

  14. This comment is not on the topic, but on the formatting of the newsletter. Would you consider making the left margin wider? It makes me feel that something may be cut off on that side. Thanks for considering this.

  15. One bad dream – no civil war – 2 countries form:

    – Progressive States of America (PSA) – NY, MA, CT, MA, CA, OR, WA
    – Christian Conservative States of America (CCSA) – MS, AL, KS, MO, IN, ID, ND, SD, OK, UT, NE, MT, AR, KY, WV, SC
    – People from urban centers in CCSA states and the remaining states will have 4 years to move to PSA or be forced into CCSA
    – People from rural areas in PSA states and the remaining states will have 4 years to move to PSA or be forced into PSA

  16. Lester, I like your hypothesis. Let me throw in one twist if I may; suppose the Federal government was getting ready to infuse massive capital into many of the declining CCSA like IN to create innovation centers?

    Remember, I said there was a proposed by Senator Todd Young (his name was added because of his district), which will try to keep expand future innovation in our depressed centers of the country due to the hallowing out by our free market system (both coasts are progressive).

    How would that change your hypothesis?

  17. Todd,

    On the surface a good idea…wait until you see it gamed by the elite! Also, current trend is for young professionals to move to the suburbs, not rural areas.


    You, of course, are referring to Southern Illinois, right? My father traveled by train as a salesman in the 1940’s and said the Black pullman porters were afraid to even step off the trains there…

  18. Sheila, you rightly noted that you couldn’t understand why some human beings would want to own other human beings. Easy answer. Don’t consider human beings to be human if to your advantage to do so, but rather as mere chattels, whether black, white, communist, Muslim etc. Problem solved, and thus armed, one is ready for Trumpism, China’s brutality toward a Muslim minority, Hitler’s use of Jews and communists as a rallying call to Nazism, American brutality toward immigrating Irish and Italian because they were Catholics etc.

    History is not a mere accounting of events; we make history during the time and in the real world we inhabit, and if anyone thinks we are beyond repeating these past mistakes, take a look at 1/6. Hatreds are alive and well.

    What to do? Protect democracy at all costs, and I do mean all, and while thus occupied, agitate for civics instruction and teaching of critical thinking skills in the schools at the same level and with the same intensity as the money-making STEM and business schools enjoy. In such connection, parenthetically, I have often wondered why corporate America has not been more openly opposed to Trumpism than it has been, since authoritarians can impose any ism they please on the rich as well as the rest of us. Don’t the capitalists like capitalism as much as we ordinary Americans like our freedom from late night gestapo raids? Vot iss?

  19. Corporations with their own armies, like Blackwater (which has now changed its name) and 299 others like it HAVE A SOLUTION to nations that regulate, whether democratic or autocratic—form you own nation. Send your army to take over a small third world country and declare your company is now a sovereign nation. There are people in intelligence agencies who are trying to understand how imminent this movement is, especially in Africa. In my next novel, Bugster Bugatti, a political artist, goes to Africa to investigate and unveil the issue to the world. Working title: Bugster’s African Suite.

  20. In answer to Vernon’s question, if they get their way, it’s Banana Republic time, with a pure plutocracy. China becomes the world leader, Russia reassembles their empire, Europe devolves into many Hungarian style autocracies, while those that remain democracies are weak. Instead of Chinese students flooding American Universities, Americans will increasingly be drawn by the many ads to work in China, being the only country willing and able to spend on science and technology. As long as you stay apolitical, you get to do science in a well funded environment.

    Sorry to sound so dystopian.

    As for Lester’s idea, I’d call that the long-shot possibility. CCSA would be an economic disaster if it doesn’t get the likes of Georgia and/or Texas to join and might either or both states end up killing the goose that laid the golden egg. Remember, Texas spent zillions of oil money to turn their third rate university system into top-notch research centers by luring top biomedical scientists there. They have a huge IT footprint, but I don’t know that it is the locus of innovation, but rather the “child of data processing”. Meanwhile, Micheal Dell complains about not being able to find skilled workers and complains even louder that his property taxes are too high.

    I am always leery of “creating centers of innovation”. I would like to see the data on whether that actually works. They have been talking about that for years. One example I am familiar with is Scripps Research Institute (I spent my post-doctoral years there). When they expanded, did they head to Dallas, St. Louis, or Bloomington? No, they picked a non-research hub with an ocean view,Jupiter, FL. You either work facing the Pacific Ocean or facing the Atlantic Ocean (our labs were in the basement – but I am not complaining.) I don’t see West Lafayette or Bloomington becoming new innovation centers, nor any small town that Todd Young favors, but I am open to evidence to the contrary.

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