Friday Reads: It’s Brutal Out there!

Good Day Sky Dancers! 

We’ve got brutal weather around the country and the headlines are a bit brutal today too!  The brutal headlines are mostly about the Party of Sociopaths.  Take this one, for example on Senator Cold Hearted Cruz (Republican, Texass): “Ted Cruz Abandons Millions of Freezing Texans and His Poodle, Snowflake”. This from New York Magazine and the keyboard of Michael Hardy.

For most, though, especially Texans like me who have suffered through a week without heat or water in freezing overnight weather, the notion of Cruz leaving his dog behind to hit the beach was all too much — especially the thought of the power being out when they left. (The New York Times reported that Cruz’s wife Heidi had complained that the house was “FREEZING” in a group chat to friends and neighbors that proposed leaving the blackout behind for the Ritz-Carlton in Cancún.)

Like far too many of us, I’ve been without power and water for most of the week. I spent one night at the apartment of a friend who still has power, but the rest of the time I’ve been bundled up in multiple layers of clothing, shivering beneath four blankets, leaving the apartment only to charge devices in my car. With only an electric stove, I couldn’t heat up food. I haven’t showered since Sunday. And it could be worse — my parents in Austin still have no power or water, and yesterday one of their pipes burst, flooding the first floor of their house. To watch our junior senator escape to Cancun while the rest of us freeze is the ultimate indignity.

But Ted’s not the only Republican taking the proverbial heat for the lack of heat. This is from Marc Caputo at Politico:  “Top Texas Republicans on the ropes after tone-deaf storm response . The swaggering, Texas brand of free-market governance that’s central to the state’s political identity is taking a beating.”  Ah, aint that a shame?

The brutal winter storm that turned Texas roads to ice, burst pipes across the state and left millions of residents shivering and without power has also damaged the reputations of three of the state’s leading Republicans.

Sen. Ted Cruz was discovered to have slipped off to Mexico on Wednesday night, only to announce his return when he was caught in the act. Gov. Greg Abbott came under fire over his leadership and misleading claims about the causes of the power outages. And former Gov. Rick Perry suggested Texans preferred power failures to federal regulation, a callous note in a moment of widespread suffering.

It’s more than just a public relations crisis for the three politicians. The storm has also battered the swaggering, Texas brand of free-market governance that’s central to the state’s political identity on the national stage.

“Texans are angry and they have every right to be. Failed power, water and communications surely took some lives,” JoAnn Fleming, a Texas conservative activist and executive director of a group called Grassroots America, said in a text message exchange with POLITICO.

“The Texas electric grid is not secure,” said Fleming, pointing out that lawmakers “have been talking about shoring up/protecting the Texas electric grid for THREE legislative sessions (6 yrs),” but “every session special energy interests kill the bills with Republicans in charge … Our politicians spend too much time listening to monied lobbyists & political consultants. Not enough time actually listening to real people.”

Chad Prather, a popular Republican humorist who is running for governor against Abbott next year, echoed similar sentiments about the three politicians.

Then there’s was the death of Rush Limbaugh where the obits sound as harsh as the Big Fat Liar was air.  This is from Conor Friedersdorf at  The Atlantic:  “Don’t Read This If You Were a Rush Limbaugh Fan”

As a proponent of conservatism in America, Limbaugh was a failure who in his later years abandoned the project of advancing a positive agenda, culminating in his alignment with the vulgar style and populist anti-leftism of Donald Trump. Character no longer mattered. Budget deficits no longer mattered. Free trade no longer mattered. Nepotism no longer mattered. Lavishing praise on foreign dictators no longer mattered.

All that mattered was owning the libs in the culture war, in part to avenge a deeply felt sense of aggrievement. Limbaugh and Trump were alike in attaining great wealth and political influence while still talking and seeming to feel as though society was stacked against guys like them.

In obituaries and commemorations, many right-leaning commentators are crediting Limbaugh with advancing movement conservatism, as if he were the William F. Buckley Jr. of the Baby Boomer generation. That’s certainly how it felt in the 1990s when I would hear him in the car with my grandparents. Back then, before Fox News, no one on the right was as popular with the public.

Yet he wasn’t for everyone with conservative instincts, and the proposition that Limbaugh helped conservatism thrive or grow is unsubstantiated. National Review and Barry Goldwater reinvigorated conservatism in postwar America. The high-water mark of American conservatism, Ronald Reagan’s presidency, was over before Limbaugh was a force in American politics.

Over the ensuing decades, as Limbaugh grew in fame and gained as much influence in the Republican Party as anyone, the conservative movement suffered from political and intellectual decline. “In place of the permanent things, we get Happy Meal conservatism: cheap, childish, familiar,” a writer at The American Conservative once complained. “Gone are the internal tensions, the thought-provoking paradoxes, the ideological uneasiness that marked the early Right.” The seesaw of partisan politics gave conservatives occasional victories, such as the 1994 Republican takeover of the House and the 2010 Tea Party wave, but once in office the GOP tended to squander those victories quickly and never accomplished much conservative change. The government kept getting bigger. The country kept getting more socially liberal. The right delighted in the fact that the left was never able to create its own Rush Limbaugh, despite various attempts. But perhaps that supposed failing has helped progressives make gains.

Since Limbaugh’s political radio career took off in the late 1980s, each successive Republican president has been less conservative than the last, and Trump was the least conservative GOP president since Richard Nixon. Looking at that trajectory and thinking that Limbaugh helped advance conservatism in America is as delusional as believing Jeb Bush’s claim that his brother kept Americans safe on 9/11.

And that’s from a liberatarian bernie bro so  you can imagine the roasting and toasting from the progressive democrats.  Grave dancing would basically be kind characterization.  This is from  Dean Obeidallah, MSNBC Opinion Columnist: “How Rush Limbaugh helped to create Trump’s America.  It can be hard to tell where Trump begins and Limbaugh ends — but Limbaugh did it first.”

Shortly after news broke that Rush Limbaugh had died on Wednesday, 2020 election loser and former President Donald Trump held a phone interview on Fox News, where he praised Limbaugh as “irreplaceable” and as “a fantastic man, a fantastic talent.”

Limbaugh more than earned those words from Trump; even the one-term president likely gets that it was Limbaugh’s open embrace of racism, bigotry and sexism that laid the groundwork for Trump to win the White House in the first place. Perhaps more than any other one person, Limbaugh employed his media platform to weaponize America’s far-right into a political force that helped many conservative Republicans — including, of course, Trump — win elections.

Barack Obama’s former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel once called the conservative radio commentator “the voice and intellectual force of the Republican Party.” He showed Trump that you could be as vile and hateful as you want — and there was still a mass audience on the right who loved it.

Before Trump slithered down the escalator of Trump Tower in 2015 to smear Mexicans as “rapists,” there was Limbaugh in 2013 praising Cuban immigrants (who tend to vote Republican) as hard-working, while suggesting Mexicans were lazy. Even before then, in 1993, Limbaugh “joked” on his show that the U.S. should let Mexicans into America to do the “stupid and unskilled” work.

Trump himself made despicable comments about Black and brown members of Congress, like Democratic Reps. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, saying they should to “go back” to their countries. He repeatedly called Black American celebrities “low IQ,” a common white supremacist trope.

In doing so, Trump was conjuring up Limbaugh’s own racist playbook. Years before, Limbaugh had told a Black caller on his radio show, “Take that bone out of your nose and call me back.” He also once said, “Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?”

Vile words from  two vile men.  Maybe I should be playing dead presidents for today’s music but I thought I’d pick this one instead.

Speaking of the vile one down there in Florida, today’s Telegraph has a Martin Fletcher Fauci interview that’s amazing. “Anthony Fauci exclusive interview: ‘When I publicly disagreed with Trump he let terrible things happen’. Labelled a ‘disaster’ by President Trump, who publicly lobbied against his top Covid adviser, Dr Anthony Fauci is now back in the spotlight”

Fauci’s challenge was to correct the president’s dangerous falsehoods as diplomatically as possible, often while sharing the stage with him at televised White House briefings, but he says that ‘when it became clear that in order to maintain my integrity and to get the right message [across] I had to publicly disagree with him, he did things – or allowed things to happen – that were terrible.

‘Like he allowed Peter Navarro [Trump’s trade adviser] to write an editorial in USA Today saying that almost everything I’ve ever said was wrong. He allowed the communications department of the White House to send out a list to all of the media, all of the networks, all of the cables, all of the print press, about all of the mistakes I’ve made, which was absolute nonsense because there were no mistakes.’

Trump also began to denigrate Fauci in tweets and press conferences, setting him up as a target for the extreme Right’s hatred. ‘Which I became, to the point that to this day I have to have armed federal agents guarding me all the time,’ Fauci says. And he was not the only target. To his dismay, his wife and three adult daughters were also harassed and threatened.

Liberated under President Biden, Fauci can now speak frankly in a way he couldn’t last year. He tells me that in the final two months of his presidency Trump almost completely abandoned his duty to protect the nation from the pandemic. ‘We [the scientists] were trying, but we were acting almost alone, in the sense of without any direction.’

The vile offspring continue to be vile also.

So, while that side of the aisle continues viley on there is good news for the rest of us. The vacines are working and being improved.

and a bit more.

It might be possible we’ll have a more normal life by summer.  The only bad news on that front is this as reported by Jonathan Lemire “White House says winter weather has temporarily delayed shipment of 6 million coronavirus vaccine doses.”

And LOOK!  There’s a normal presidential response to the Texas disaster.

We also are having an actual conversation with our allies too on adult topics!

So, it looks like there’s the new reality with the old reality still lingering.  At least there’s less Trump presence in the TV news.  I can’t stand to see him animated any more unless it’s in a cartoon.

So, have a good weekend!  Hope the weather is good where you’re at! It’s supposed to improve here.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?