Blue Monday Reads: “Ride or Die” Republicans

Andreas Jawlensky
“Flower Still Life, Door Wing,” German Expressionism, Blue Rider (Blaue Reiter)

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I’ve been trying to find things to give us–well me–a bit of a pick me up because my last few trips to the doctor’s office keep reminding me that my body is not what it used to be at all.  The headlines these days are bipolar. Even state and local news seems dependent on whether you live in the counterfactual reality of the Republicans or the pragmatic problem solving reality of independents and Democratic governments.

In the Matrix, taking the red pill means you’re willing to learn some unsettling truths.  Taking the red path in the United States means you have to deny science, history, economics, and just about every intellectual endeavor known to mankind since we left the Dark Ages.

We had to take a lot of American History in my school district and at my university.  This all occurred in Nebraska so I have no idea why entire swaths of people have forgotten a lot of its lessons.  The frothy  one–with the public voice of a nincompoop granted at CNN–has forgotten the entire American experience with indigenous peoples.

Moscow I (Red Square), 1916, Wassily Kandinsky

I was fortunate that my mother had a particular sensitivity to this and expected my sister and me to get a really good appreciation of the role genocide played in wiping out a lot of native culture.  The missionaries and their schools played a huge role in that.  The Trail of Tears played an even bigger role.  Then there was the continuing westward movement that eventually started shrinking the number of safe, promised places granted to Indigenous nations.  But, I would like to also offer this up.   The Iroquois–one of the so-called ‘civilized’ tribes were quite influential on the actual “birth” of the nation.  Even the use of the word “birth of a nation” is offensive.  It’s not often you find such a prime example of racist slights to both indigenous and black Americans in one sentence.

I guess it’s just not any kind of thing worth recognizing unless a white guy does it.  Plus, even if he doesn’t do it, he’ll take and get credit for it anyway.

So, let’s run down some of those other headlines.

The Tiger, 1912, Franz Marc

 From the The Guardian: Why Michigan Republicans’ attack on voting rights is ‘particularly anti-democratic’.

On the surface, the Republican effort to roll back voting rights in Michigan looks similar to what’s happening in states around the country: after Donald Trump narrowly lost a key battleground state where there was record turnout, Republicans are moving swiftly to implement sweeping restrictions to curtail access to the ballot box.

But the effort is raising unique concerns. Even though the Michigan governor, Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, is likely to veto a package of dozens of pending bills to curb voter access, Republicans are already hinting they will use a loophole to implement the measures anyway. They can take advantage of a quirk in Michigan’s law allowing voters to send a bill to the legislature if just over 340,000 voters sign a petition asking them to take it up. These kinds of bills cannot be vetoed by the governor.

“This effort is particularly anti-democratic, not just in substance, but in procedure,” said the Michigan secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat who serves as the state’s top election official.

The proposals include measures that are breathtakingly restrictive, even when held up in comparison to other measures states are considering. One bill bans Michigan’s secretary of state not only from mailing out absentee ballot applications to all voters, but also blocks her from even providing a link on a state website to a mail-in ballot application. Another proposal does not allow voters to use absentee ballot drop boxes after 5pm the day before election day. A different measure would require voters to make a photocopy of their ID and mail it in to vote by mail.

The effort is being closely monitored in a state known for razor-thin elections and where Donald Trump and allies tried to overturn the result in 2020. Republicans are moving aggressively to put the new voting restrictions in place ahead of the 2022 elections, when there are races for governor, attorney general and secretary of state. Michigan also has several key swing congressional districts that will help determine who controls the US House of Representatives in Washington.

Couple in the woods, August Macke, 1912

From Peter Wehner writing for  The Atlantic: The GOP Is a Grave Threat to American Democracy

The radicalization manifests in myriad ways, most notably in Trump’s enduring popularity among Republicans. Trump’s loyalists have launched ferocious attacks against Republican lawmakers who voted to impeach him for his role in the insurrection, even as national Republicans eagerly position themselves as his heir. Right-wing media display growing fanaticism, while public-opinion polls show GOP voters embracing Trump’s lie that the election was stolen from him. The Republican Party’s illiberalism, its barely disguised nativism, and its white identity politics are resonating with extremist groups. Slate’s Will Saletan, in an article cataloging recent developments, summarized things this way: “The Republican base is thoroughly infected with sympathies for the insurrection.”

To better grasp what’s happening among 2020 Trump voters, I spoke with Sarah Longwell, a lifelong conservative and political strategist who is now the publisher of The Bulwark, a news and opinion website that is home to anti-Trump conservatives. She is also the founder of Republican Voters Against Trump, now the Republican Accountability Project.

Since 2018, Longwell has spent hundreds of hours speaking with and listening to Trump voters. From 2018 to 2020, she concentrated her attention on people who voted for Trump in 2016 but whose support was not locked in for 2020—many of them college-educated, suburban voters, mostly women who rated Trump’s performance as bad to very bad. Since Trump left office, she’s been using her focus groups to understand how his supporters’ views are changing.

Longwell has discovered that these voters, including many in Georgia who cast their ballots for Trump in November, have since grown more “Q curious”—she’s hearing more people talk positively about QAnon, a conspiracy theory that, among other things, posits the existence of a satanic pedophile cult run by top Democrats.

Prior to November 3, 2020, Longwell told me, “I almost never heard QAnon come up, except in a way that was derisive.” But postelection she’s had people “lean in and say, ‘I’m not saying I believe everything about Q. I’m not saying that the JFK-Jr.-is-alive stuff is real, but the deep-state pedophile ring is real.’” (The QAnon theory is that John F. Kennedy Jr. faked his own death to become the group’s leader.) In Longwell’s words, “The deep-state/conspiracy/Hollywood pedophile ring, that is in there. I’m hearing that plenty.” She added, “It’s actually pretty Marjorie Taylor Greene–like.” (Greene, who represents Georgia’s Fourteenth District, has praised the conspiracy theory and subscribes to a number of its beliefs.)

As Longwell explained it to me, Trump supporters already believed that a “deep state”—an alleged secret network of nonelected government officials, a kind of hidden government within the legitimately elected government—has been working against Trump since before he was elected. “That’s already baked into the narrative,” she said. So it’s relatively easy for them to make the jump from believing that the deep state was behind the “Russia hoax” to thinking that in 2016 Hillary Clinton was involved in a child-sex-trafficking ring operating out of a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant.

Red Deers II”, Franz Marc, Franz ,1912

Per Marcotte: 

In Oklahoma and Florida, Republicans have passed new laws making it legal for motorists to run over protesters, so long as they claim that they felt afraid of a “riot.” The laws are clearly meant to give cover to people who attack anti-racist protesters, a trend that started with Fields murdering Heyer but has spread rapidly on the right. Over the Black Lives Matter protests last summer, there were a whopping 104 incidents — including 8 by police — of motorists hitting protesters with cars. The 2017 video of Fields slamming his car into a crowd was a genuine shock, but similar images became sadly common in 2020. Now Republicans want to make it legal.

Such laws are part of a larger push to use violence and threats to silence anti-racism.

The pro-vehicular homicide law in Florida, for instance, is part of a larger package signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis that redefines “rioting” in order to make it easier for police to shut down anti-racism protests. DeSantis has explicitly tied the bill to the conviction of former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin for murdering George Floyd, insisting that the conviction was because “the jury is scared of what a mob may do” and not because of the evidence — including a video of the murder, which happened in broad daylight — of Chauvin’s guilt.

Indeed, this overwhelming evidence against Chauvin is also overwhelming evidence that his supporters in the media and politics simply believe that police should have an unchecked “right” to kill people of color at will. In fact, Chauvin’s guilt was so obvious that many in the right-wing media initially seemed to feel the smart move was to throw him under the bus. But Tucker Carlson of Fox News went all-in on treating the verdict like a travesty and now even supposedly more “intellectual” outlets like National Review are hyping the idea that the “real” bad guys are the ones who wanted Chauvin to pay for his crimes.

Meanwhile, on earth one, the focus is on the first 100 Days of the Biden/Harris administration and the upcoming speech before the nation and Congress.   Most of the nation appears satisfied.

So, Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine gets enthusiastic: ‘Joe Biden’s First 100 Days Reshaped America’.

Biden’s advantage is that he’s not just nice; he’s also tedious. He is relentlessly enacting an ambitious domestic agenda — signing legislation that could cut child poverty by more than half, expanding Obamacare, and injecting the economy with a stimulus more than twice the size of what Obama’s Congress passed in 2009 — while arousing hardly any controversy. There’s nothing in Biden’s vanilla-ice-cream bromides for his critics to hook on to. Republicans can’t stop Biden because he is boring them to death.

Biden’s strategy of boringness is a fascinating counterpoint to a career spent trying desperately to be interesting. Biden used to overshare, with frequently disastrous results that led him to accurately self-diagnose as a “gaffe machine.” Whether his advanced age has slowed him down or made him wiser, he has finally given up his attention-seeking impulse and embraced the opposite objective. Biden’s success is a product of the crucial yet little-appreciated insight that substantive advances don’t require massive public fights. The drama of inspiration and conflict is not only unnecessary to promote change but even, in certain circumstances, outright counterproductive.

This method runs contrary to the DNA of the political-activism industry and the news media, which look at politics as a war and judge each side by how well it mobilizes its troops for combat. It especially offends the sensibility of many progressives, who see popular mobilization as the highest form of political organization.

So, today is a Super Pink Moon. 

This moon gets its name from the pink early springtime blooms of the Phlox subulata plant, also called “moss pink.” It’s native to eastern North America.

Native American tribes across the United States have their own names for the moon, according to the Western Washington University Planetarium. Many of those names are also associated with springtime signs,including the melting of snow andthe return of geese after their journey south for winter. The Cherokee tribe of the East Coast calls it the “kawohni” or “flower moon,” and the Creek tribe of the Southeast refers to it as “tasahcee-rakko” or “big spring moon.”

You’ll get a good view of it tonight!  Have a good week!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today??

10 Comments on “Blue Monday Reads: “Ride or Die” Republicans”

  1. dakinikat says:

    Florida is just the worst!

  2. bostonboomer says:

    A vast number of places–cities, states, rivers and so on–have Native American names. That’s cultural influence. For example, I was born in North Dakota. Next we lived in Iowa, which is a Sioux word meaning sleepy people. I spent my early childhood in Kansas, a name derived from the Kansa or Kaw Indians. We moved to Ohio, named after an Indian tribe. We ended up in Muncie, Indiana. Muncie was the name of an Indian tribe. Now I live in Massachusetts, which comes from an Algonquin word meaning by the range of hills.

    I could go on and on…….

    • dakinikat says:

      There are also all kinds of ‘western’ art that are influenced by native art too

    • Enheduanna says:

      I’ve always been fascinated by place names derived from NA languages. I grew up near the Caloosahatchee river named for the Caloosa, and now live near the Chattahoochee river. I think roughly half our state names are NA in origin.

      Remember our dunce ex-pres calling it Yo-SEMITE? Too lazy to even bother learning how to pronounce anything.

      • djmm says:

        “Texas” is from Tejas, Spainish mispronunciation of Caddo word taysha, meaning friend.

    • NW Luna says:

      Seattle, after Chief Seattle or Sealth (Lushootseed language: siʔaɬ), Puyallup, Nisqually, Snohomish, Enumclaw, Skykomish, Swinomish, Itswoot, Ilswoot, Chetwoot, Kaleetan,Ohanapecosh, just to name a few places and rivers around here.

    • thewizardofroz says:

      I’ve always known that New Jersey has lots of Native Indian place names. I just Googled and discovered it’s well past 100. While our town, Marlboro, is a British name, the two towns immediately adjacent, Manalapan and Matawan, are names derived from the language of the Lenape Indian tribe’s language.

      Roz in NY/NYC

  3. NW Luna says:

    I like the paintings. Franz Marc is a favorite of mine — there’s something about how he painted animals.