Finally Friday Reads: BFD is on!Posted: August 5, 2022
Good Day Sky Dancers!
This was a great headline to wake up to today! “Sinema Agrees to Climate and Tax Deal, Clearing the Way for Votes. The Arizona Democrat had been her party’s last remaining holdout on the package, now slated to move forward on Saturday and pass the Senate within days.” It’s from The New York Times, as reported by Emily Cochran.
Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat of Arizona, announced on Thursday evening that she would support moving forward with her party’s climate, tax and health care package, clearing the way for a major piece of President Biden’s domestic agenda to move through the Senate in the coming days.
To win Ms. Sinema’s support, Democratic leaders agreed to drop a $14 billion tax increase on some wealthy hedge fund managers and private equity executives that she had opposed, change the structure of a 15 percent minimum tax on corporations, and include drought money to benefit Arizona.
Ms. Sinema said she was ready to move forward with the package, provided that the Senate’s top rules official signed off on it.
Sinema must be awash in Wall Street donations to make the sticking point of her grief being the removal of that giveaway tax cut for the richest of the rich. However, I have less grief about that than the NAZIs of a feather flocking together at CPAC. Someone must tell these nutters that White Christian Nationalism is not American or Conservative.
This is from Steve Benen on the visit of the Hungarian Dictator to the craziest show on earth. “Viktor Orbán’s racism not a deal breaker for the right in the U.S. Viktor Orbán’s recent racism offered Republicans an opportunity to distance themselves from the authoritarian Hungarian. They’ve done the opposite.” Hey Steve, racism is a feature of today’s Republicans.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s anti-immigration positions help define him politically. Indeed, the authoritarian leader has spent years extoling the virtues of racial “purity.”
But two weeks ago, Orbán was unusually brazen on the subject, publicly denouncing race-mixing. As The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank summarized in a recent column:
“Migration has split Europe in two — or I could say that it has split the West in two,” he said, after commending to his listeners a 50-year-old racist treatise. “One half is a world where European and non-European peoples live together. These countries are no longer nations. They are nothing more than a conglomeration of peoples.” He went on to contrast that with “our world,” in which “we are willing to mix with one another, but we do not want to become peoples of mixed race.”
The backlash was fierce. Zsuzsanna Hegedus, a longtime Orbán ally and an adviser in his government, not only condemned the rhetoric, she also quickly resigned.
“I don’t know how you didn’t notice that your speech you delivered is a purely Nazi diatribe worthy of Joseph Goebbels,” Hegedus wrote. She added that the prime minister’s remarks would’ve appealed to the “most vile racists.”
This, of course, also offered an opportunity for Orbán’s far-right admirers in the United States to distance themselves from the Hungarian strongman.
It is an opportunity Republicans apparently aren’t interested in.
Donald Trump welcomed Orbán to his golf venue in Bedminster this week. “Great spending time with my friend,” the former president said in a written statement. The Republican said the two “celebrated his great electoral victory in April,” but made no reference to the Hungarian’s overt racism.
And then, of course, there’s the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) — by most measures, the nation’s largest conservative gathering — which is kicking off today in Dallas, and which is welcoming Orbán as a speaker. NBC News reported:
The American Conservative Union, the organizers of CPAC, defended their invitation to Orbán, regardless of his comments. “CPAC is looking forward to hosting leaders from across the country and the world. We support the open exchange of ideas unlike so many American socialists. The press might despise Prime Minister Orbán, but he is a popular leader,” spokesman Alex Pfeiffer told NBC News.
It was a curious defense. Pointing to Orbán’s “popularity” has nothing to do with merit or propriety: After all, popular leaders can be monsters, regardless of their domestic support.
The question, rather, is about the American right’s embrace of an authoritarian bigot.
We can also see that their ideas are not ideal for our pluralistic, secular country. Misogyny is also a feature of today’s Republican Party. This is also from The New York Times, “Republicans Begin Adjusting to a Fierce Abortion Backlash. After Kansans voted to preserve abortion access, Republicans who once said the economy reigns supreme are acknowledging the issue will be a centerpiece in the fall campaigns.” This is reported by Jonathan Weisman and Katie Glueck.
Republican candidates, facing a stark reality check from Kansas voters, are softening their once-uncompromising stands against abortion as they move toward the general election, recognizing that strict bans are unpopular and that the issue may be a major driver in the fall campaigns.
In swing states and even conservative corners of the country, several Republicans have shifted their talk on abortion bans, newly emphasizing support for exceptions. Some have noticeably stopped discussing details at all. Pitched battles in Republican-dominated state legislatures have broken out now that the Supreme Court has made what has long been a theoretical argument a reality.
In Pennsylvania, Doug Mastriano, the Republicans’ ardently anti-abortion candidate for governor, has lately taken to saying “the people of Pennsylvania” will “decide what abortion looks like” in the state, not the governor. In Minnesota, Scott Jensen, a family physician who said in March that he would “try to ban abortion” as governor, said in a video released before the Kansas vote that he does support some exceptions: “If I’ve been unclear previously, I want to be clear now.”
Republican consultants for Senate and House campaigns said Thursday that while they still believe inflation and the economy will drive voters to the G.O.P., candidates are going to have to talk about abortion to blunt Democratic attacks that the party’s position is extreme. They have started advising Republicans to endorse bans that allow exceptions for pregnancies from rape or incest or those that threaten the life of the mother. They have told candidates to emphasize care for women during and after their pregnancies.
I still can’t see how they will get traction on the economy with headlines like this from the AP: “US employers add 528,000 jobs; unemployment falls to 3.5%”.
America’s employers added a stunning 528,000 jobs last month despite raging inflation and anxiety about a possible recession, restoring all of the positions lost in the coronavirus recession. Unemployment fell to 3.5%, the lowest level since the pandemic struck in early 2020.
There were 130,000 more jobs created in July than there were in June, and the most since February.
The red-hot jobs numbers from the Labor Department on Friday arrive amid a growing consensus that the economy is losing momentum. The U.S. economy shrank in the first two quarters of 2022 — an informal definition of recession. But most economists believe the strong jobs market has kept the economy from slipping into a downturn.
Friday’s surprisingly strong report will undoubtedly intensify the debate over whether America is in a recession or not.
You can’t call it a recession until the NBER says it’s a recession and job growth is not part of an economy in a recession. But you don’t have to take it from me.
So, if you’re confused about what’s going on with the fractious Republican Party, try this read: “The New Right Finds a Home at the Intersection of Populism and Elitism. Rising stars of the new right publicly bash elites for being disconnected from ‘real America’ while privately maintaining exclusive social lives.” This is from Alec Dent writing for The Dispatch. Sheesh, these people are mean.
The Cicero party wasn’t all politicos and activists. The cultural movers and shakers of the New Right were also in attendance: Twitter personalities. They’re minor celebrities in this little niche of the world, walking about, talking about things you wouldn’t understand unless you’re extremely online, like “midwits”—someone of average intelligence and boring interests—and “chads”—an alpha male—and “based”—cool and original in a way the speaker agrees with, opposite of “cringe”—and a host of other words, phrases, and ideas used to assign moral judgments to cultural preferences and innocuous tastes, all of it smothered in irony even hipsters would think is excessive. At cocktail parties or debate nights, it’s typical to hear these “rad trads”—short for radical traditionalists—discuss how the world would be so much better if every man was musclebound, every woman had babies, and every family lived in a rural community. Thus far, these generally unmarried urbanites’ money and mouths are in decidedly different places.
At Dumbarton House, the done-up nouveau righters enjoy Bellinis and wine with little sweet potato biscuit ham sandwiches along with lavender and lemon cookies while their conversations mix and mingle:
“I had to read up on critical race theory, because, you’ve got to, you know, know your enemy and stuff.”
“Alex Jones was right, the water is making the frogs gay.”
“My coworker at work? Big time Jew.”
“I start my Sunday by listening to Tim Dillon and then going to church.”
“Alec Baldwin murdered someone.”
These sorts of conversations are typical of a new right hangout, both in real life and online. An unofficial Cicero Facebook group chat with hundreds of participants was scrapped after the discourse became dominated by new right figures and Sharma alluded to the Great Replacement Theory—the fringe theory that nonwhite immigrants are being brought to Western countries to replace the white populations. “Life becomes a lot easier when you realize the baseline that immigration policy should be argued from is not 1 million legal aliens a year (plus countless illegal ones), but 0,” he said in one message that was shared with The Dispatch. “Would encourage any conservative or right-leaning patriot to consider adopting that posture.
“American ruling elites have a creepy obsession with ensuring there are as few white voters as possible in the year 2100. I, and Tucker [Carlson], not sharing this creepy obsession, speak out against this priority. For this we are called white nationalists,” Sharma said in another.
So, you can creep into the same crap, whether CPAC in Dallas or an event for the Cicero Society in a crusty old mansion in the Beltway of Washington D.C. Be it beers or top-shelf martinis, it’s the same old bigotry.
The choice to vote for the full Democratic Ticket this fall has never been more urgent.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?