Repairing Pandemic Damage Not All That is Needed Now

To repair the damage done by these people in these times will not be easy. I may not see the wounds mended in my lifetime. It may take a generation or more. The social damage of the pandemic itself, the fear of our old social lives, in bars and restaurants and dance halls and sports stadiums, will take time to heal (although a percentage of people seem to know no fear already). We will hug and kiss again. But will there still be movie theaters? Will there be bookstores? Will we feel okay in crowded subway cars?

wapo/salman-rushdie

I would say that the lack of workers volunteering to die for minimum wage across the United States today in what is rapidly becoming a post-pandemic world says volumes about the actual rethinking that is going on right now. Whether we will turn these things we’ve learned about ourselves and our world into real world changes remains the question. I will say that if we don’t make the changes, heal the breaches in our lifetimes, those ills will fester and re-emerge the next time society hits a breaking point.

It wasn’t the name of the black man that police killed that made last summer’s protests a fulcrum to leverage change. It was simply the fact that the policeman killed another black man while the rest of the world was forced to watch him do it. The pandemic made change possible by forcing the entire world to become passive observers of what the rest of the world was doing in their lives and in their essential work. Essential work that appears to include killing random black people in every corner of the United States.

The next time we are strapped down and stretched thin like we were last summer, there might be some other breaking point that appears and fulminates the last great war, rather than just a call for the equal justice we all were promised. We really can’t afford to keep kicking the can down the road. We need to step up and make the changes now while the motivation is fresh and our intentions pure. I’m becoming deathly afraid that we don’t know how act of pure intention anymore, or even act at all.

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Salman Rushdie: I’ve seen dictators rise and fall. Beware, America.

These “audits” don’t have to find anything; the fact that they exist at all is enough to do what they are designed to do: undermine voters’ faith in the system at the same time they indicate that no election result that elects a Democrat is legitimate.

heathercoxrichardson/june-3-2021

Trumpism Abides

Republicans who sought to undercut or overturn President Joe Biden’s election win are launching campaigns to become their states’ top election officials next year, alarming local officeholders and opponents who are warning about pro-Trump, “ends justify the means” candidates taking big roles in running the vote.

politico

This really isn’t news. Not really. Trumpists been beating this dead horse since the election last November, not just since the attempted coup on January 6th:

This is why I muse about the question of allowing Republicans or their intellectual inheritors to ever regain power in the United States in this article:

…and then agitate for instituting jungle (blanket) primaries in every single state in the Union before 2022. We don’t have a choice. Either we open up the system and destroy the possibility of minority rule in the US forever, or we embrace the idea that we like overlords telling us what to do. Embrace it, because that is what we will get if we ever let the Trumpists that Republicans have turned into back into power. If we allow the possibility of minority rule by any one group of Americans, then someone will seek to wield that power for their group. This is a no-joke emergency we are caught up in right now.

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If you elect those who hate and fear government to run government, then you’re going to get a government of hate and fear.

Stonekettle

Still Bullshit

Moscow Mitch thinks we don’t need to investigate the January sixth riot:

All Things Considered – House Passes Bill To Investigate Capitol Riot, But Its Fate In Senate Is Unclear – Updated May 19, 2021

This really doesn’t merit a lot of thought. I’m just going to cut and paste what I said here after the first impeachment started against Donald Trump:

I don’t know what the hurry is. Why do we have to have this all done by the end of the year? now? Why not investigate side by side with the police efforts to uncover the depths of crime involved in the attempted coup? Let’s be sure to get every single gory detail on the record for the Republican party to wear to the end of its days.

Republicans were happy to pretend nothing was worth worrying about for two five years while Trump stole the nation blind and Moscow Mitch shoehorned every judicial nominee he stole from Barack Obama through an otherwise catatonic Senate. Republicans were happy to talk about #Benghazi for three years. What’s the rush? I say we keep the impeachment hearings January 6th inquest going until November 3rd, 2020 November 8, 2022. I suggest they hold hearings on election day, even. Draw it out. Reveal the crimes of all of Trump’s yes-men as well as all of his 40 years of financial and real estate crimes. and his instigations to riot in the streets of Washington D.C. after telling black people they couldn’t riot in the same city streets six months earlier.

Paint it all in glorious technicolor detail, for all the world to see. The damage has been done already, anyway. No one will trust the United States again. Not for a generation. I have now given Moscow Mitch’s dismissal of the bill all the thought that it deserves.

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NBC NEWS – Ryan: ‘This is a slap in the face’ to U.S. police – May 19, 2021

One hundred and seventy-five Republicans voted against the January 6th investigation bill. Those seditionists (to use Stonekettle’s term for them) should never have been allowed to sit in congress. Anyone that wasn’t willing to state in advance that the election that put them there was a valid election should not have been seated. This action was permitted by the rules of the House and the Senate and should have been enforced:

If the election that put you here is in question then you shouldn’t be in a body that represents the people. Plain and simple. Congress chose to go this route instead, seating representatives that declared their intentions to muck up the works as much as possible. Now we have seditionists in Congress. I don’t see how this scenario is better than the outrage that would have been engendered when the 175 seditionists were not seated in the first place. This may be complex political maneuvering, but I don’t see how the Democratic strategy is going to win the next election for them.

…which is the only point that matters on this subject. Making sure the Republicans never see power again on the national level. They have made themselves the enemy of democracy. They should be declared a terrorist organization if they don’t change their tune.

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Fear Unaccounted For

I’ve found myself yelling at podcasters and news hosts for the last week or so as they muse about what is keeping people from going back to work. Strangers stare at me in the park as I appear to be yelling at myself. It is not an attractive behavior. Even my family is worried about my mental health.

It isn’t the unemployment benefits that Republicans and the Right are self-defeatingly targeting in their red states:

All Things Considered – Conservative Economist Blames High Unemployment On ‘Richer’ Benefits – May 16, 2021

…and it isn’t the minimum wage being too low, as the Democrats and the Left are asserting:

facebook.com/RBReich

The wages are too low, but that isn’t even half of the equation. Fear dominates the markets right now. Breadwinners aren’t willing to go out and risk death for any wage if they don’t have to. Their families rely on them to keep them all afloat. So they will wait and make sure the water of commerce is safe before they will re-enter it.

If you want people to get back to work you are going to have to convince them that their families will not starve without them if they were to die doing whatever it is they do for a living. For example: we need to expand and increase survivor’s benefits from Social Security so that every American who has a family that relies on them for their survival will be able to be at peace with the fact that at least their families will be cared for in the future.

If we did this, insured that families would not go hungry or homeless if the breadwinner dies, and we increased the wages, then you would see people returning to work in droves. Without it you will have to bribe them with dollar figures much higher than what businesses are offering now. A few piddling extra thousand dollars ain’t going to entice people back into the workforce, and making the poor suffer will only make you, the state leadership, the target of their suffering. Look to see red states become more purple in the future if that behavior continues.

This episode of On The Media:

On the Media – The Ghosts of the Rust Belt – May 14, 2021

…will explain everything you need to know about the delusion that Americans have ever had good, steady jobs that paid well. The haven’t and they won’t until they get smart about politics and economics.

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Featured image: What is Thalassophobia?

texasstandard.org

Battlefield Casualties?

facebook/Stonekettle

What kills me is he’s surprised this was how it turned out. Did he honestly think that attacking Congress and trying to stop the government from doing the thing it has a clear mandate to do was going to be something that government would just forget? Did he think that attempting a coup was a thing he wouldn’t be punished for?

This idiocy has happened time and time again through history. People talk themselves into believing that they will be better under a different government; and then even when they succeed in destroying the previous government, they are appalled to discover that governing takes blood and treasure to carry out, even in the best of times. The failed revolutions are far more numerous than the successful ones, and the people in power never forgive and forget. Not if they want to stay in power.

It’s almost like these Trumpists, anarchists and conservatives have never heard of the Whiskey Rebellion. You know the one. That rebellion where the subjects of the first US tax thought they could just do a repeat on the revolution and George Washington had to personally explain that they were going to have to die if they didn’t give up this cause they had declared war on the US over? Made them all swear oaths to the Union and locked a few of the leaders up for their trouble? Yeah, we’ve done this a few times now, historically. You’d think they’d learn eventually. Apparently not.

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Carbon Monoxide

Etenesh Mersha, 46, meanwhile, made a fateful decision, one repeated by scores of Texas residents who lost electricity that week. Desperate to warm up, she went into their attached garage and turned the key to start her car. As the engine hummed, it provided power to run the car’s heater and charge her phone while she talked to a friend in Colorado — at the same time, filling her garage and home with a poisonous gas.

propublica.org

The number of deaths from the Winter storm that passed through Texas and the rest of the nation back in February is almost certainly an undercount. There were 86 deaths that occurred in Travis county in that timeframe, and yet only twelve deaths are claimed as storm-related. I simply don’t accept the number as reported by Republican controlled Texas state agencies.

I find it hard to believe that so many people died of carbon monoxide poisoning. I’m not sure why. Maybe it is because I was almost killed by carbon monoxide poisoning when I was night stocking at the Piggly Wiggly in San Angelo. They had decided to remodel the store, and they were running gas-powered concrete saws to cut in new refrigerant lines to the new display cases. They didn’t want people to just walk into the store at night, so they locked all the doors and started up the saws. They couldn’t figure out why we all got headaches and had to go home.

Maybe it is because the heat exchanger on our upstairs furnace leaked due to the previous owner welding a crack in the furnace rather than replacing it. We almost died that time as well, until I noticed that I was having the same symptoms that I had when they were cutting the floors that time in the 80’s.

American media is replete with stories about people committing suicide by sitting in their cars in an enclosed garage. I have a hard time believing that most people hadn’t been exposed to the knowledge that carbon monoxide is a killer and that you shouldn’t burn fossil fuels in an enclosed space because of carbon monoxide buildup. Then I remember my own near-misses with the gas, and I am thankful that we put carbon monoxide sensors up in the house after we found out about the leaky heat exchanger.

Knowledge is power. Even this latest winter storm reveals this fact. Knowing the facts about the machines you use and their effects on your environment will keep you from dying. You certainly can’t rely on your government to tell you these things, especially not in Texas.

Lawmakers this year are considering a broader modernization of state building codes that is unrelated to February’s storm. If the measure passes, it would require carbon monoxide alarms in some new homes and apartments, but not those built or renovated before 2022. And it would allow local governments to opt out.

propublica.org

Democratic Shutout? Why the Surprise?

spotify.com fivethirtyeight.com

The district went Trump +3 in 2020. Who was dumb enough to think it would go Democratic? That it would go Democratic without the DCCC taking an interest in the race? Every seat in Texas is rigged for Republicans. Rigged. They cheated a decade ago and they’ve yet to be punished for this transgression. That is the fact that you should takeaway from the election. The panel says a lot of stuff about the election and what that means to the nation, stuff that really shouldn’t be applied broadly. Texas Republicans are not like Republicans in other states. Texas politics is not like politics in other states.

As far as the opening segment on the census goes, the states didn’t choose to undercount. Donald Trump chose to undercount while appealing to his White Nationalist base. The real question there is “why did Trump pick up Latino votes in 2020?” I will bet you that this is because a certain portion of the Latino community thought that Trump was talking to them. They don’t know that he’s talking about them when he talks about illegal votes. They are all illegal voters in Trump’s eyes and Trumpist eyes. They need to understand this fact about Trumpismo.

The Republican base has committed political suicide with their support for Trump. The corpse of the Republican party simply hasn’t stopped twitching yet. Give it time. Eventually rigor mortis will set in. I hope.

Voter Fraud? No, Voter Suppression: Part Three

Part three, because the current efforts at voter suppression are merely an extension of what Donald Trump and the Republican party have been engaged in since it became clear that the Southern Strategy was no longer going to allow them to keep winning elections as it had done in previous decades.

It was 2010 when a nationwide effort to gerrymander the state houses that Republicans controlled was rolled out:

The plan, which its architects dubbed REDMAP for Redistricting Majority Project, hinged on the fact that states redraw their electoral maps every 10 years according to new Census data. REDMAP targeted states where just a few statehouse seats could shift the balance to Republican control in the crucial Census year of 2010.

wbur.org

…so this crusade against accurate and democratically represented constituencies predates Donald Trump’s takeover of the Republican party. But it has only gotten worse since he forced his way into office using voter suppression tactics handed to him by Russian operatives. Trump’s voter suppression task force lead by Kris Kobach spawned part one and part two of this series. That effort didn’t last very long, like most things that are Trump-inspired.

In the 2018 midterms it became clear that the precisely gerrymandered legislative districts were starting to turn more blueish that Republicans were comfortable with, and the shellacking that Republicans received in 2020 proved to them that they were going to have to keep certain classes of the population from voting if they wanted to retain national power in any real way. They have come out four-square in favor of keeping everyone who isn’t old, white and male from the voting booth, in as many ways as they can possibly arrange, in as many statehouses as they can force legislation through:

In 43 states across the country, Republican lawmakers have proposed at least 250 laws that would limit mail, early in-person and Election Day voting with such constraints as stricter ID requirements, limited hours or narrower eligibility to vote absentee, according to data compiled as of Feb. 19 by the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice. Even more proposals have been introduced since then.

washingtonpost.com

This continued drive to keep people from participating in their government will not end well for those in power when the breaking point comes. This is a truth that has been illustrated time and again throughout history. When the people decide they don’t want to follow a leader any longer, and that leader will not surrender power, the leader doesn’t live very long.

Put bluntly; this issue of voter suppression is going to come to civil war if it isn’t solved with federally mandated voter guarantees. We don’t have two or four years to wait for these guarantees either. They have to be instituted now so that they will be solidly in force by the time the next election period rolls around. The Democrats in the Senate had better get their shit together and do that soon, or we are going to be spending blood and treasure killing our own people in the next election. An outcome that could have been avoided had two Senators had the balls to stand up to their own constituents in defense of the state that they claim to represent.

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End the filibuster. It should never have been allowed in the first place and wouldn’t have been tolerated by the senators who removed the rule that kept it from happening. The arguments about allowing it are pointless. End it already and pass the For the People Act so that we don’t have to fight these damaging battles all across the nation in 43 different state Houses.

The set of bills that are up in Texas:

Following committee approval, HB6 by state Rep. Briscoe Cain, R-Deer Park, now must be approved by the full House. The Republican-dominated Senate has already passed its own voter suppression bill, SB7. Together the bills would impose a slew of restrictions that would make voting harder especially in large, densely populated counties where many Texans of color live. The bills would bar many measures local leaders also promoted to make voting safe and secure during the pandemic, including curbside and drive-thru voting, mobile voting locations and 24-hour voting centers.

tfn.org

Texas freedom network is a nonpartisan watchdog group. I have followed them for years, for longer than I have been siding with Democrats politically. Even they understand the problem with what Texas Republicans are trying to force through the Texas legislature right now. I have a simple observation to make on this subject. Those who make it impossible to govern through social engagement with our neighbors, make the resultant change that much more violent. Make no mistake, Texas. Change is coming. Embrace it while you still can profit from it. If you don’t, it will simply be that much more expensive to clean up after the change is effected. The one constant in life is change. Depend on it.

If Democrats don’t end the filibuster and do the things that need doing including push back Republican power grabs and voter suppression laws, then they will fail and there will be no reason to hope for any better future in this country. It really is that simple. Do the work that needs to be done, or admit that the American experiment has failed. Pick one.

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Republicans have stacked the deck in their favor for a long time and have come to rely on that unfair system, rather than policies that appeal to voters, to retain power. Now that Democrats are trying to level the playing field, they howl that the Democrats are cheating.

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Police Lynching

What we witnessed was a lynching. That’s part of the reason to put it in a historical context. It was a public message to people that what Officer Chauvin was doing was okay and you might be next.

Phillip Atiba Goffpolicingequity.org

The quote is from this episode of The Rachel Maddow Show:

RACHEL MADDOW – Hope over history: Racial justice advocates anxiously await Chauvin verdict – April 19, 2021

Professor Goff’s statement echoes what I took away from the brief bits of the nine minute video of Officer Chauvin killing George Floyd that I could make myself watch. Officer Chauvin was acting the part of a terrorist, instructing his audience on the subject of what happens when law enforcement decides to kill a black person. I can kill him and I can kill you. That is what Officer Chauvin is saying.

Monday’s show led off with a visitation on the 100th anniversary of the massacre in Tulsa. If you haven’t heard the story, it is worth giving this six minute video a chance to tell you about it:

RACHEL MADDOW – Remembering the Tulsa race massacre as the 100th anniversary approaches – April 19, 2021

It is also worth remembering in the time and place that we find ourselves in today, that the police in America were founded from the slave patrols that were instituted during the years when slavery was a part of life in the United States:

Throughline – American Police – June 4, 2020

…this system of essentially tracking black people’s movements to control them needed a similar kind of armed and/or empowered law enforcement constituency. So on one hand, you do have the growth of a formal bureaucratic nuts-and-bolts police system that emerges by the late 1860s, 1870s. You know, prisons are being remodeled or expanded and built. Prison farms are beginning to open. I say all that to say because the South had a very anemic infrastructure when it came to criminal justice by a very stark contrast to northern states. And one of the things that it doesn’t really have is it doesn’t have a formal professional police force like – certainly like big cities from Boston to New York, Philadelphia, the old colonial cities, now essentially industrial, thriving, modern places by the 1870s and 1880s. And so what does the South do? Well, Southern leaders empower vigilante groups to do a lot of the day-to-day surveillance and policing of black people, and out of that, particularly in 1866, the Ku Klux Klan is born in Pulaski, Tenn.

npr.org

In the South the police force is directly descended from the KKK and slave patrols. In the North the history is different, but just slightly different. The police in those areas still establish a racial hierarchy with black and brown people at the bottom of the social ladder, they just didn’t do it because of slavery. This is the racial basis for American policing. The history that all Americans have to accept and deal with.

I liked Six Flags Over Texas back when I was a teenager and into amusement parks. I could appreciate the history of the six flags that flew over Texas that was the reference for the name, but I always knew that one of those six flags was a flag of rebels and white nationalists. The amusement park that started in Texas is too embarrassed to fly the rebel flag in places where they own parks and the rebel flag never actually flew, so they have repurposed the six flags to be some other six flags and who really cares now anyway? I’m sympathetic to their corporate problem and really don’t see why they should have to fly flags in the first place other than that they put it in their name. Apparently some people didn’t learn their history and now want to pretend it wasn’t real history. They want to force Six Flags to fly the rebel flag even though the name and the flag were specific to Texas. These are facts folks.

There are plaques up in the Texas capitol that claim that the Confederacy wasn’t based on preserving slavery, which is false. Those plaques as well as most of the statues and monuments across the South date back to various times when white nationalism was in power and acted to whitewash history, giving themselves honor that they never deserved in the first place. They used their authority to compel the schools to muddy history in the textbooks, teaching kids falsehoods that could be disproved by doing basic research on the subject of the history of the succession movement and of the racist history of the American continent under European dominance and then United States dominance.

What has become clear to me over the years since I first started paying attention to this subject is that a lot of people have been fed lies for a lot of their lives; and they are happy to go on believing the comforting lies that they were told as children. It’s time to grow up now. It’s time to embrace the truth as it transpired through history, and to make our way forward with a firm grasp on the truth. Like the confederate monuments that dot our landscape, each town square that ever held a lynching party should be required to host a token from this memorial:

youtubecnn
New York Timesmuseumandmemorial.eji.org

…and Derek Chauvin should be forced to wear one around his neck for the rest of his life. He is the personification of the racist history of the American police system. It is long past time to rewrite that system. At least the jury did find him guilty. That is a step in the right direction.

I cannot help but think of the famous image of Deputy Sheriff Cecil Ray Price and Sheriff Laurence A. Rainey laughing at a hearing after their arraignment following the murder of three civil rights workers in Philadelphia, Mississippi, in 1964.

Price and Rainey thought it was funny when they were arraigned along with 16 of their friends—not for murder, because Mississippi refused to bring charges, but for conspiracy and violating the civil rights of the murdered men, both federal offenses. And why shouldn’t they think it was all a joke? The jury was all white and, after all, they were law enforcement officers.

heathercoxrichardson.substack.com

Domestic Terrorism

April 5, 2014 was the date when the modern United States government went off the rails. What happened on that date? Cliven Bundy said “come and take it.”

When Bundy declared his unwillingness to acknowledge the federal government, we should have went in there and taken everything from him and his family, killing every single adult that took up arms against the United States government and refused to recant their rebellion. If we had done that, we’d be in a different place right now.

I don’t know if it would have been a better or worse place, but with Bundy’s sovereign movement crushed into dust, his ranch auctioned to the highest bidder, his family dead or penniless and homeless, there would have been no Trump presidency. There would not be a world-wide retrenchment of White Nationalism.

Instead of doing that, the government paused before using force. Right or wrong, the 76 dead Branch Davidians caused the government to pause before doing what it should have done, and because of that we find ourselves where we are now.

The government is not required to be pacifist in order to be effective, it is only required to be just in its use of force. Justice now requires that White Nationalism be as determinedly destroyed as Black Nationalism and black rights, minority rights, have been destroyed since the creation of the United States. White Nationalism should have died with the Confederacy in 1865. It is long past time we killed the zombie that the Confederacy left behind.