Author Archives: cassandraisright

The More You Know #2

Back in May I wrote:

There won’t be any Q Party votes for any Democratic proposal. Ever.

I’m here to say that I was wrong. On Wednesday night, 17 GOP senators, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, voted for cloture on the bipartisan infrastructure bill. I did not see that coming back in May. But I know what happened.

On Tuesday night, the Trump-backed candidate in a Texas primary for a US House seat lost. And some Senate Republicans realized Donald Trump isn’t the kingmaker they all thought he was and decided the party needed actual accomplishments prior to the midterms. Will wonders never cease?

Sit Down And Mask Up

On Thursday, a woman undergoing breast cancer treatment at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, was sprayed with bear mace, physically assaulted, and verbally abused outside a cancer treatment center in West Hollywood, Los Angeles by far-right activists who were angry over the clinic’s mandatory mask policy. WTF?

Not to be outdone, an anti-mask protest this week in Albuquerque took a scary turn after a protester pointed a gun at a driver passing by. Oh and then there was this headline:  Billy Graham’s grandson Jonathan Lotz, son of Anne Graham Lotz, in hospital with COVID-19.  Here’s the kicker:  his spokespeople won’t say if he’s been vaccinated. And he’s a cancer survivor. I am a Christian and I try very hard to be a decent, compassionate person who doesn’t take joy in the physical suffering of people I don’t like, but these people are plucking my very last nerve.

I spent MONTHS unable to grocery shop or attend church or see friends because this subset of stupid, selfish dumbasses could not sacrifice for anyone else and repeatedly drove up the infection rate as soon as it started to come down. I missed Christmas with my family and didn’t get to visit with my 80+ year old parents.

I’ve had enough of these people. And evidently so has Joe Biden:

President Biden will announce Thursday that all federal employees will be required to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or face repeated testing mandates, a White House official said, a dramatic escalation of the administration’s effort to combat the spread of the delta variant.

I cannot tell you how much I approve of this move. We have waited long enough for these people to get up off their asses and get the jab. The carrot did not work. Bring out the stick.

I of course also realize that there is a subset of people who want to get the vaccine, but have child care issues, or no paid sick leave, and we as a nation should fix each of those issues to make it easier for those people to get vaccinated.

But the rest of them should start to be shunned by society. Don’t want to get vaccinated? You’ll have to wait to see that movie on demand in a few months. Or you can get takeout from the restaurant and eat it at home, away from the rest of us. Do you work in a public sector job? Time to get jabbed. Don’t want to? Go find another job.

I understand that the Trump cultists are pushing the anti-vaccine/mask stuff because they’re hoping that vaccinated liberals and other non-Trumpist voters will still catch Covid and die, but it’s increasingly clear that that’s not going to happen. Early on in the pandemic Jared Kushner was content to let Covid rip through blue states in the hope it would kill lots of liberals, and obviously the strategy hasn’t changed, even if the outcome has the GOP now cynically killing its own voters.

But the anti-vaccine/mask push could end up as an electoral loss for Republicans. As Josh Marshall noted:

To understand the politics, we need to take a different look at the numbers. We’re used to hearing the rather disappointing fact that even months into the vaccination drive and with surplus vaccines everywhere only just under half (49.1%) the US population is vaccinated. Epidemiologically, that’s bad news. But it looks different from an electoral perspective. 60% of adults (over 18) are vaccinated and fully 69% have received at least one dose. Shift our perspective in this way and you see that when you’re talking about the political nation, a big, verging on overwhelming majority are vaccinated. Among people over 65, the group that votes most consistently, 80% are vaccinated. Furthermore there is a lot of evidence that vaccination rates escalate with age. People in their forties are substantially more vaccinated than people in their twenties. So higher rates of vaccination align with propensity to vote.

I can’t think of more fitting poetic justice than the GOP losing the midterm elections because their chickens finally came home to roost. Stay safe out there.

Clowntime Is Over

My husband and I finally began watching “Ted Lasso” last month. For some reason he became enamored of the word “wanker” and used it delightedly all the time. Because of household osmosis, now I am using it, too.

Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority Leader, is a tiresome wanker. He really, Really, REALLY wants to be Speaker of the House, and until that day comes he is determined to try to outsmart Nancy Pelosi. He gets very few opportunities of course, but you can’t say he doesn’t make the most of them when they come along.

For example, he’s been stringing this 1/6 Select House Committee along for weeks now. Now no one actually thought House Republicans were going to happily participate in this fact-finding mission. And no one thought McCarthy wouldn’t name poisonous House members to the committee.

I have to say that I was impressed by McCarthy’s restraint in only naming 2 trainwrecks—I was sure he was going to add 5. And I wasn’t surprised at all that Pelosi rejected Jims Banks and Jordan, and nor were any of us that after that, McCarthy pulled all of his suggestions and walked away, crowing about the dangers of partisanship.

Except the 1/6 Select Committee is already bipartisan:  Pelosi named Liz Cheney as one of her selections. On one hand, ensuring that the committee would be bipartisan was an excellent tactical move.  McCarthy doesn’t realize he’s already been checkmated. Pelosi is going to put Cheney front and center to emphasize that the committee isn’t just Democrats. This won’t matter to Trumpers, but it will resonate with never Trump Republicans and with independents.

On the other hand, elevating Cheney in this way makes Cheney a credible politician whose ideas should be taken seriously, instead of just another GOP wingnut, albeit one who does not subscribe to The Big Lie.  Anti-Muslim, pro-torture, anti-marriage equality, anti-choice—apart from wanting to save democracy, she’s interchangeable with the rest of the haters in her party and I am sorry that she is going to emerge from these hearings with a luster of legitimacy.

But having the hearings take place in an orderly, professional, serious fashion is more important than my distaste for radical Republicanism. McCarthy has juggled his last plate regarding the 1/6 insurrection.

Death Cults “R” Us

I’ve been referring to the GOP as a death cult for years now, but over the last few weeks it truly has completed its metamorphosis.

Back in the early days of the madness that has now taken full control of the party, it only venerated the death of people it considered to be bad or evil, and this manifested itself in strong Republican positions favoring the death penalty and wars that killed people of color. But during Ronald Regan’s second presidential campaign, the conservative political movement decided to marry a conservative religious movement:  fundamentalist Christianity.

The GOP promised this bigoted, racist (fundamentalist Christianity was the guiding force of Jim Crow) voting bloc the Moon:  to outlaw abortion, to only appoint anti-abortion judges, and to fight against civil rights for people of color, women, and LBGTQ people. And fundamentalist Christianity sowed the seeds of its deep hatred for post-civil rights era America into the fabric of the Republican Party, seeds that would mean the death of the post-60s culture.

This unholy alliance was in turn led by politicians, exclusively white males. who had no interest in or use for fundamentalist Christianity:  the Bushes were/are Episcopalians, Bob Dole is a Methodist, John McCain identified as an Episcopalian until it was more convenient for him to identify as a Baptist (i.e., he moved from identifying with a mainline denomination to identifying as a fundamentalist because he was the GOP nominee), and Mitt Romney is a Mormon.

Donald Trump is not religious at all, which is eminently fitting as he is the apotheosis of the Reagan campaign’s cynical embrace of fundamentalist Christianity:  he embraced a group of people he has zero actual interest in and in turn they embraced someone who transgressed all of their taboos because they believed he could help them impose their worldview on the rest of us.

This approach is highly problematic, and not just from a moral and ethical stance. When you promise revenge to people who feel disenfranchised and cut off from their society, you also have to justify hurting other people, which is pretty anathema to Christianity. The language of dehumanization and hatred led to a terrible series of race-, faith-, and gender-based mass shootings which the GOP absorbed without an ounce of compassion for the victims or sorrow for so much death wrought by their words.

The GOP gleefully took away abortion access for women, even if that procedure was needed to save women’s lives. It allowed medical professionals to refuse to care for LBTGQ people. Republican governors refused Medicaid expansions–that they would not have to pay for–because the lives that would be improved and/or saved would be poor people who were unlikely to make large financial donations to their never-ending campaign war chests.

When Covid-19 paralyzed the country, the GOP fully embraced its calling and gloried in the pandemic’s sorrow and pain, refusing to take any precautions, spreading lies about the disease, and culminating when the cult’s leader told people to inject bleach into themselves—AND PEOPLE DID. Even after the cult’s leader fell critically ill, the party kept pushing its agenda of death. No one’s life was valuable enough to save from Covid-19.

Not being an organization that sleeps on its laurels, and not content with 600,000+ Americans dead from Covid-19, the GOP broke new ground this week. The state of Tennessee is stopping all vaccine outreach to children and teens. It may even do away entirely with the state health department.

In his official bio on the state government website, the governor of Tennessee, Bill Lee, is described this way:

The governor and first lady are people of strong faith.

I don’t know what to say. I am a person of strong faith and I know it’s wrong on every level to neglect and abandon vulnerable people, and especially children. The idea that professing Christians could be so indifferent to the sickness and death of children, or so cynical that they would be willing to sacrifice their health and lives for a Pyrrhic victory, is unthinkable.

I’ll let the psalmist have the last word, writing about the Israelites wandering the desert with Moses and falling in with other religions when times got tough instead of sticking to their own teachings:

They sacrificed their sons

    and their daughters to false gods. (Psalm 106)

The Thumb On The Scale

So yeah, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court let Bill Cosby out of jail. I’m not going to discuss the legal issues because they don’t matter to me—it’s not as if the justices are going to change their minds.

What struck me was the idea that Mr. Philly-Delphia, the dreadful Bruce Castor, would make a deal with a forking rapist to not prosecute him for rape. I mean here’s someone who was credibly accused of rape by 60 women, and at least 1 of the attorneys involved (who knows if it was a deal that also involved Cosby’s attorneys, too) decided to protect…the rapist.

I should be used to the pervasiveness of rape culture in US society. But I’m not. Cosby being let out of jail is a gut punch. Cosby being let out of jail because a pathetic human like Castor deliberately protected him is enraging.

And here’s another upsetting thing:  there are people who think Cosby’s freeing is funny. When the release was posted to the online community I frequent, one male poster responded by repeatedly posting gifs from The Cosby Show of Cosby and cast dancing in celebration. The vast majority of the nearly all male membership there has been silently approving of his celebration of rape culture.

And then the judge in the Britney Spears case refused her request to remove her father from her conservatorship. It wasn’t a great day for women’s rights in America.

It’s Still A Trap

I have some good news for y’all:  just like I hoped they would back in February the Democrats are FINALLY playing politics. And boy are the Republicans mad!

It was very clear what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s game plan was:  to try to corral the moderate Senate Democrats in a bid for bipartisanship, to agree to a plan that was sub-optimal, pass it, let it fail the American people, and then blame the Democrats on the campaign trail in 2022. And they might have gotten away with it…if their chief opponent hadn’t been Joe Biden.

See, congressional Democrats had already decided among themselves that there would be 2 bills:  one that the moderates could show bipartisanship on, and one that progressives could tout next year and use reconciliation to pass, both of which Democrats would pass. And the Republicans knew this all along—in fact, Shelley Capito referenced it back in May:

And McConnell himself referenced the 2 bill plan:

And like I said back in May:

Capito and friends met again with President Biden this week and I give him a lot of credit. Everyone knows that even if the Democrats agreed to everything the Q Party wanted, they’d still vote against it! And I mean, even if it had everything, including leaving their precious corporate tax rate alone, they have no intention of giving Biden and the Democrats another accomplishment.  That’s because:

There won’t be any Q Party votes for any Democratic proposal. Ever.

And so here we are once again.

In reality, it’s a tempest in a teapot, sustained by McConnell and his buddies because their Grand Plan was thwarted they think they now have a great excuse to do what they always planned anyway. Both bills should pass and McConnell will have to find another excuse to explain away his pre-planned obstruction.

The reason that this non-issue is getting attention is our lazy mainstream media. It’s hard to write interesting stories about straightforward facts, and it’s even harder to get clicks on those stories after all of the circuses of the trump administration. In lieu of actually working, the press just repeated Republican lies.

From AP:

Senators were described as “stunned,” “floored” and “frustrated” after Biden publicly put the conditions on accepting their deal, according to two people familiar with the private conversations who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the reactions.

Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at NYU, tweeted this as an explanation for how egregiously the press is handling current events

He’s wrong. You don’t need a journalism degree to know one side is lying. And you don’t need a journalism degree to push the narrative that prizes the truth. It’s not pedagogy that is failing journalism; it’s character. Democracy might die in darkness, but it is also strangled by intellectual laziness.

 

 

Leave Britney Alone

I don’t follow celebrity gossip, I only know 1 Britney Spears song (“Oops I Did It Again”, which by the way is an excellent pop song), and I misspelled her first name throughout the first draft of this post. Nevertheless when I read about this part of her recent testimony I got sick to my stomach:

Spears, who is the mother of two teenage boys, told the court that her father and the group of people who control her affairs do not want her to have any more children. She said she was not allowed to go to the doctor to remove her IUD, or intrauterine device, a small birth control device implanted in the uterus.

It’s heart-breaking that a grown woman is being denied the opportunity to have another child. But what really upset me was her father being so obsessed with her reproductive system.

And then there was this:

On medication: Spears said on Wednesday that she was put on lithium against her will. “I felt drunk. I couldn’t even stick up for myself. I couldn’t even have a conversation with my mom or dad about anything. I told them I was scared and they had six different nurses come to my home to monitor me while I was on this medication that I didn’t want to be on to begin with.” Lithium is commonly used to treat bipolar disorder, which often causes episodes of depression and mania, a feeling of uncontrolled irritability or excitement. It can also be used to treat depression. In court today, Spears did not mention any possible medical condition.

One of the hallmarks of US society is the obsession men have with the uteri of women, whether they know those women or not. And this isn’t a recent phenomenon. At the turn of the 19th century, US women’s reproductive health began to move from the care of midwives to the care of “credentialed” medical doctors during a movement to “professionalize” some of these newly-christened “professions”,

One of the things male doctors did was to give hysterectomies (literally removing the “hysteria” from women) to uppity women seeking the vote and equality because they thought the uterus was the loci of that disruptive behavior. See, an uppity woman was a “hysterical” woman, and the cure, obviously, was to remove her uterus. Surgery was primitive and many women who survived it spent the rest of their lives as convalescents. And because there were no antibiotics, women died from infection. This is still an operation that can be debilitating for women, and it takes the option to have children from women of child-bearing age.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Hmmm.

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

Last week the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops took a step toward publicly humiliating President Biden by denying him Holy Communion. This action is short-sighted, mean-spirited, and stupid, which means it’s completely on brand for the USCCB.

It’s no secret that the deeply misogynistic Roman Catholic Church is opposed to abortion. I was raised Catholic and had the full anti-abortion indoctrination of grotesque photos of purportedly aborted fetuses (who knows if any of that stuff was real or fake—propagandists use whatever they have available to push their message).

After I was free of parochial education, I started thinking for myself. As an adult, I saw the issue of abortion—and pregnancy—differently than I did as a teenager. I thought about what decision I would make if I found myself pregnant. And I had empathy for women who had to make that decision.

(I know that the anti-choice people love to yell “ADOPTION!!” when discussing abortion, but the reality is that many women just cannot afford to carry a child to term. In addition to the medical appointments, being pregnant still can get a woman fired, or cost her a promotion. If there are complications, it may require her taking unpaid leave.)

I don’t know what Joe Biden thinks deep in his heart about abortion. But I do know that as a politician he is supposed to represent the people who elected him. The Pew Forum says that 55% of people in Delaware support abortion being legal in all or most cases. And Pew also says that 59% of Americans support abortion being legal in all or most cases. And given the makeup of the electorate who elected him, there is a clear mandate for him to support women’s reproductive rights. That’s his job.

It’s ironic that the big fear about JFK’s Catholicism was that he’d be controlled by Rome. And now we have a bunch of Catholic bishops trying to act as if they were Rome to control Biden. This crazy plan might have worked, except that the Vatican has already weighed in on this issue and told the USCCB to back off.

In the end, the USCCB won’t explicitly say that pro-choice politicians must be denied Holy Communion. That’s not how Pharisees work. They’re cowards who hide behind a wall of words which they then twist to suit their purposes.

Naturally the chance to flaunt misogyny under the guise of morality attracts a lot of fellow travelers, and conservative Catholics are out there making the most of it. And they’re being cowards about any challenges to their obvious hypocrisy:

Karen Tumulty is right—there is a monomaniacal focus on abortion, but no public shaming for Catholic politicians who gleefully support the death penalty, and the Vatican has been very clear about the stance of the RCC on that issue. (Also on display in that exchange—the typical shift to the demand of a public debate when a conservative “thinker” has been shown to be intellectually naked. Pharisees gonna Pharisee.)

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Welcome Back, Normal Life

The weather here in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia has finally warmed up and I have been spending time on our back deck, tending to my flower boxes and my vegetable and herb container garden, and serenaded by the distant cicada spaceship chorus, and the ever-increasing sound of the close-in singers who have synched up in their search for mates.

I wrote earlier about my anticipation of the Brood X emergence and I am happy to say that after feeling a bit anxious that we wouldn’t see or hear them, they have been putting on an incredible sound show. When they first emerged en masse, Magicicada septendecim began chorusing, making this spooky spaceship sound all around:

A few days later you can hear the spaceship is still hovering, but you can also hear the rasping of Magicicada cassini, and the tick-tick-tick of Magicicada septendecula:

Two days later, the Magicicada cassini chorus, the dominant species in this area (although the septendecim are more numerous), got their act together. I measured a peak sound of 98 decibels that hot, sunny afternoon:

I knew they had a 100+ decibel reading in them, and a few days later they proved me right:

We had 5”+ of rain over the last few days, and they were noticeably quieter. But when the sun returned they were back on point, singing at 95 decibels. And yes, you can hear them inside, with the windows closed.

The cats are interested in the cicadas. Our male cat Finn knocked one down, and put it into his mouth and brought it inside. He is a weird cat because he does not bite his prey. Then again he’s big and strong enough to kill stuff with his paws alone. The cicada began buzzing and Finn was very annoyed because he hates noise. Then the cicada began walking toward Finn’s throat and Finn had had enough with this noisy sharp-edged toy, and he spit it out. That hasn’t cured him of trying to catch another one, of course. Rey doesn’t find their clumsiness to be much of a challenge and she has largely ignored them after her initial bout of excitement.

I’ve really enjoyed this twice in a lifetime (for me) event. God willing, we’ll be settled in a sunny spot in the Keys the next time Brood X starts singing. I am also very aware of how this event dovetails with the end of a once in a century event as the pandemic begins to wind down here in the United States.

My county has ticked back and forth on the Harvard Covid map from “orange” to “yellow” to “orange” and back again because the difference between “vaccinated” and “unvaccinated” is confusing to people who want to take their oh-so-oppressive masks off. I thought about going without one at the grocery store the other day but decided against it, and someone sailed past me coughing the croupiest cough I have heard in a very long time, and I remembered that the law of unintended consequences is a double-edged sword.

The online community I am active in has several ongoing Covid conversations, and they are almost entirely driven by conspiracy nuts and deniers. You would think they’d be happy about states lifting all restrictions, right?

Of course they’re not. They’re obsessed with people who are still wearing masks. Every day 1 of them has to wonder anew about why people are still wearing masks, despite being repeatedly given the reasons:  small children at home, compromised immune system, their doctor wants them to have additional protection because of an underlying medical issue, they live with or care for someone in one of the previous categories, or they have been traumatized by the illness or death of someone close to them, or their own close call with death and Covid. Or they could just be still adjusting to post-Covid life and mourning the death of 600,000 Americans.

I asked one of them why he cared that someone he didn’t know did something  which had zero effect on his life, and he didn’t answer. It’s not about “trusting the science” for these people. It’s about bullying other people because they themselves were frightened for those dark months and they want all traces of that fright erased. Well, too bad for them, because not only am I going to continue to wear a mask in places where I will be exposed to a lot of people and thus to the common cold and other communicable diseases, I like to be a thorn in the side sometimes, and wearing a mask seems to be a super easy way to do that. (Those of you who know me in real life can attest to that.)

Masked or not, like the cicadas, I have emerged from isolation. I am back to in-store shopping, and seeing friends. My parish has resumed in-person worship, and our bishop okayed the return of my beloved choir (provided we are all masked and vaccinated), and that weekly outing has brought a lot of normalcy back to my life.

My husband is dealing with an injured knee so we’re not back to eating out just yet, but that will change soon enough, and I CANNOT WAIT to eat a hot meal I didn’t have to cook myself. My sense of humor is slowly returning and I actually can stop worrying for part of every day.

I’m back to visiting my town’s wonderful farmers market and having that community time again, reaffirming old friendships made there, and getting to know new people and finding common ground with them after not walking through the market for a year.

All of these little things add up to what Serbian people call “merak”, or contentment bolstered and fueled by small pleasures that make you feel connected to the universe. It’s a good place to be in June 2021. Joy be with you all.

Well I got nothin’ ‘gainst the press/They wouldn’t print it if it wasn’t true

After a few weeks of relative quiet, The Senator You Love To Hate ™, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, was back on Sunday with a new op ed in the Charleston Gazette-Mail. It spawned a bunch of trending social media hashtags, the expected negative responses from the usual suspects, and a few people asking me if I was going to write about it, lol. I guess I’ve found my branding angle.

So I pulled the op ed up on my laptop and read it with great anticipation—it made so many people angry that it MUST have something new and incendiary in it, right? Nope. It’s the same stuff he’s been saying since March, when the House Passed H1, the For The People Act.

  • Partisan voting laws engender mistrust? Check.
  • He won’t vote to abolish the filibuster? Check.
  • Let’s pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act? Check.

First, let me say that I have been calling Manchin’s office on a weekly basis to say that he should support voting rights, equal rights, a big infrastructure package, raising corporate tax rates, and that he should vote at least to bring back the talking filibuster. I’m in favor of keeping the filibuster with some significant changes because it is a powerful tool for a minority with party discipline.

I also think Manchin has a good point about the deleterious effect of one-party election lawmaking, and I’m fully aware that the laws the Democrats want to implement are good laws. But the country right now is a powder keg, and ripe for violence.  Right wingers have already shown they are open to using violence to overturn a lawful election.

Although I suspect most of the Republicans who tell pollsters that Joe Biden isn’t a legitimate president are just being jerks, there is still a significant number of people who believe that who are armed and who have no regard for laws. And I’d also listen to what a Democratic senator in a heavily trumpian state has to say about how to communicate effectively about election legitimacy.

But the thing that has gone unnoticed, after being brought up in March after the House passed HR1, is that the FTPA was dead in the Senate back then. It’s not just Joe Manchin who has issues with the bill as a whole and so it was never going to pass with zero changes.

One group that has objected to the current version of the FTPA is state election directors.

“Listen, I’ll do this—if the law passes, I’ll follow it,” said one state-level Democratic election director in the southeast who declined to be named. “But I can’t guarantee it’s not going to be a total clusterfuck the first election.”

The sections of the bill related to voting systems—wholly separate from its provisions on voting rights—show remarkably little understanding of the problems the authors apply alarmingly prescriptive solutions to. Many of the changes the bill demands of election administrators are literally impossible to implement. Others would significantly raise the cost of elections but provide no assured long-term funding.

This was news to me because the news media is generally too lazy to delve into things like this that aren’t as click-baity as “JOE MANCHIN BAD!!!”.

And there are cowardly Senate Democrats who oppose parts of the bill but insist on secrecy regarding their identities:

The most visible hurdle to date is the apparent opposition of Mr. Manchin, who said last week that he opposed allowing the federal government to wade into election law, which is typically left to the states. He signaled that he would be unwilling to vote for any elections bill that was not bipartisan, much less provide the 50th vote needed to change the Senate rules to get past an all-but-certain Republican filibuster….

Behind the scenes, two election lawyers close to the White House and congressional Democrats said Mr. Manchin was not the only one on their side with reservations about the measure. They insisted on anonymity to discuss the concerns because few Democrats want to concede that there are cracks in the coalition backing the measure or incur the wrath of the legion of liberal advocacy groups that have made its enactment their top priority.

And there is a group of senators who agree with Manchin that the best approach right now is the push for passage of the John Lewis Voting Right Advancement Act. Funny how that’s not being tweeted to the skies, huh? Who are these senators?  As it turns out, members of the Congressional Black Caucus have expressed some reservations about the feasibility of passing the FTPA:

The massive election reform measure known as H.R. 1 passed the House last month, but it has yet to win unified support from the 50-member Senate Democratic caucus amid a fierce GOP pushback effort that casts it as an aggressive consolidation of political power. With that Senate logjam in mind, a group of Black Democrats is pressing to elevate a more targeted voting rights bill — named for and championed by the late Rep. John Lewis — that they believe could be a more successful sell on Capitol Hill.

I want to make it very clear that I fully support the goals of HR/S1, and that while I think that in skillful hands the filibuster can be used to fight off bad laws it still needs to go. Providing context for an issue isn’t endorsing a position, it’s helping to create informed discussion.

If only the voting rights obstacle we are facing were as simple as what the media is feeding us–“Joe Manchin is bad”—because that could be remedied with a stick and a bunch of carrots.

Instead it’s much more complicated:  lawmakers are writing laws without input from election experts, moderate Democratic senators are afraid to stick out their necks, the House bill is way beyond what is feasible in the current political climate, and the media is more interested in quick click bucks than in presenting the actual context.

It’s clear something has to change. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said he will put S1 to a vote this week. We’ll see if that happens.

I’m shocked, shocked, to find that gambling is going on in here.

On Monday, Senator Joe Manchin was informed that there were not 10 GQP votes for the independent commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection. His response?

“So disheartening. It makes you really concerned about our country,” Manchin said. Asked if that is an abuse of the filibuster: “I’m still praying we’ve still got 10 good solid patriots within that conference.”

On Tuesday he was asked about the filibuster.  His response:

In addition, he and Kyrsten Sinema put out a statement “imploring” Senate Republicans to support the commission.

The response to both of these was predictable:  how could Manchin be so naïve? Hasn’t he been paying attention to everything the Republicans have been doing for years now?

I don’t know the senator personally, but he was the governor of West Virginia when I moved here, and he’s been one of my senators since 2010. Of course he’s aware that congressional Republicans are now going to oppose the commission—that’s what TFG told them they need to do.

I still think he’s going to change his public stance on the filibuster, although he may say he’s ready to move forward on the talking filibuster instead of abolishing it outright. Then why is it taking so long, right? Remember what I wrote earlier? Joe Manchin knows how to play politics. Chuck Schumer isn’t going to bring the bill up for a day or so, so there’s still political time to see if the bill can be passed with Republican input.

As I write this, both Mitt Romney and Susan Murkowski have indicated they will vote for the bill. There won’t be 10 votes, of course, but the more Senate Republicans who join, the better. McConnell probably won’t realize until it’s too late that trump will once again have sunk the Republicans by doing his bidding. I can see Manchin sorrowfully saying he had hope as his Republican colleagues had begun signing onto the bill, but now it’s going to be the work of the Democrats alone to save and protect the nation.

After all, if you are going to make a dramatic change in your political position, you might as well make it as dramatic as possible, like a heel turn in professional wrestling. Right now there’s still time for Manchin to entice Senate Republicans into working with the Democrats. And they’ve given him the perfect excuse to change his mind on the filibuster and still maintain his conservative Democratic credibility.

It’s A Trap!

When I was a kid, I was kind of obsessed with animals, and especially the Rex Harrison “Doctor Doolittle”*. Unlike my childhood obsession with Watergate , I think that made me a relatively normal kid. But the one thing that always bothered me about that movie was the Pushmi-Pullyu.

Maybe it was because I was growing up in a family with 3 girls spaced within 3 years, but the Pushmi-Pullyu reeked of only 1 thing to me: conflict. Oh I know it was supposed to be a delight, the rarest creature on Earth, fanciful and fearful at once. But all I saw was a Pandora’s Horse of anger, fighting, and unhappiness. Even at a young age I knew all creatures, great and small, wanted their own way and only discipline, sacrifice, and an eye to the greater good could ever change that.

Which leads me to the new half of the GOP (“Q Party”) Pushmi-Pullyu, West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito and her working group on infrastructure. It started off with a laughable proposal that essentially ignored President Biden’s list of items. As criticism mounted, Capito said it was a starting point and that there was room for it to grow. Seems hopeful and reasonable, right?

Naturally Newton’s Third Law of Motion kicked in and the other half of the Q Party Pushmi-Pullyu, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, harrumphed out his objections to any additional spending. Capito must have kicked back swiftly and on target because his next phlegm-ridden squawk quickly aligned his position with his other end.

Capito and friends met again with President Biden this week and I give him a lot of credit. Everyone knows that even if the Democrats agreed to everything the Q Party wanted, they’d still vote against it! And I mean, even if it had everything, including leaving their precious corporate tax rate alone, they have no intention of giving Biden and the Democrats another accomplishment.  That’s because:

There won’t be any Q Party votes for any Democratic proposal. Ever. The 2 senators from West By God Virginia are both trying to bring bipartisanship back to our politics, and in the abstract, I think that is a very worthwhile use of their time. But only Joe Manchin, the Democrat, knows that the mission is doomed from the start (so does Biden, but he’s just playing along).

How will Capito–who needs to burnish her procurement bona fides as an heir to the late Robert Byrd—react when she gets burned by McConnell’s eventual order to sink the entire bill in the Senate? West Virginia needs this funding. I don’t know, nor do I care. Fuck her and her careful kowtowing to McConnell over the people who elected her to help them. I only hope Manchin has set us all up for a major plot twist in Act Two.

The Democrats will eventually get their bills through, though Biden won’t get everything he wants (nor does he expect to—the stimulus bill was a happy fluke). I’m not upset with all of the stuff both West Virginia senators are doing on the side because the Senate can’t act on anything until the House writes the bill, and that isn’t expected to be voted on until the first week of July.  Back to the show.

*Our cat Finn is too. Here’s a photo of him watching it:

Why you got to gimme a fight?

Many (many) years ago, my then teen-aged brother was going to microwave himself a hot dog for lunch. A vigorous debate immediately ensued between one of my sisters and a visiting friend about how he should dress his hot dog. The discussion and the dog got a little heated (I come from a Polish-American family where everyone has an opinion on everything.).  My other sister popped in to see what the rumpus was about, and after she’d been briefed, she asked my sister and her friend “Are you going to eat that hot dog?”. After they both answered no, she said “Then what do you care?”. Decades later, that is still a question my family asks when one person is getting upset over something that has zero effect on their life.

I remember the days when conservatives and libertarians used to constantly talk about “personal freedom”. I remember when liberals used to make their own cases for it, too, but over the last 14 months the world has gone mad.

The same people who refused to wear masks and now who refuse to get vaccinated are all het up over those of us who prefer to continue to wear masks indoors and outside in unfamiliar crowds even though they are fully vaccinated. And some of the people who wore masks and got vaccinated are incensed that some of us aren’t ready to let it all hang out yet.

If you are still being careful after being vaccinated, you are being subjected to bullshit like this:

And this:

And this:

The Liberals Who Can’t Quit Lockdown

Here’s a fact: It is normal to need time to process and get over a traumatic event. We have been, and are still going through, a traumatic event even if a good chunk of the American public is in complete denial about it. My 80something dad was hospitalized in March 2020 with Covid, back when we didn’t know very much about the virus.  We were lucky that he was able to come home in a few days and completely recovered with no complications, but it was a truly awful weekend for my family as we could not have any in person contact with him. I had to anticipate the death of my beloved father and also not being able to mourn in person with my family.

My experience isn’t unique, of course, and many people had much worse experiences. Expecting people to just flip a switch and start pretending everything is back to normal isn’t reasonable reaction to a traumatic event. It’s even less reasonable when you realize that the pandemic is still ongoing! Close to 1,000 people are still dying EVERY DAY.

And the spread of vaccinated people is not evenly distributed across the country. That’s why am I going to wear a mask indoors when I am among people I don’t know even if CDC lifts that guidance. Look at this map:

The fact that the same people who wouldn’t wear masks or respect social distancing now won’t get vaccinated and make a point of berating people who are still being careful isn’t lost at all on me. Worse though are the so-called liberals and progressives who now are upset if you make a choice FOR YOURSELF, quietly and without fanfare, to help you navigate this still unfamiliar hellscape. How dare you not believe in science!! They say this as they conveniently forget that guidance has changed several times as we have learned more about this novel coronavirus. Or as Chuck Wendig put it:

We’re not sitting in the dark, aroused by our own isolation. It’s just, we remember Jurassic Park. There were just dinosaurs eating people like, ten minutes ago. We’re not so eager to re-open the park just because you say it’s safe.

As my family says “What do you care?”. How is my behavior, which has zero impact on you, something that puts you on tilt?

Some people are mocking people being quietly cautious because they are terrified and they need for the rest of us to play along with their fantasy that everything is back to “normal”. (It’s not and it will never be the same normal ever again.) And it is abundantly clear that the push among some people for everyone to pretend everything is normal is fueled by their desire to escape any ramifications for exacerbating the spread of the virus by making us forget about what happened. They want us to forget about the terrible death toll of this pandemic, about the people who were infected because their employers wouldn’t implement the proper safety measures, the people in states with awful governors to tried to take away their unemployment, and the still uncontrolled spread of the virus because they won’t get vaccinated.

Well, I won’t forget any of these people or their behavior. Ever. In the meantime, leave me alone.

Hire a Clown, Expect a Circus

I have been reading a lot of really stupid stuff in the ether, and not because I deliberately sought it out. Now you have to, too.

Bill and Melinda Gates are getting divorced. I thought something was up when I saw this on John Oliver’s show Last Week Tonight:

That was just a weird interaction, so I wasn’t surprised when they said they were getting divorced. I should not have been surprised by this hot take from The Washington Post since they are trying to out-New-York-Times The New York Times, but I was:

Jim Justice, the governor of West Virginia (who, by the way, is an idiot), has been such a failure as a vaccine leader that he couldn’t convince the members of the girls basketball team he coaches to get vaccinated. You can guess what happened:  a bunch of them got infected with Covid and they had to forfeit their place in the state tournament. You hate to see it.

Oh, and the Justice nonsense didn’t stop there. Big Jim’s Big Idea to encourage younger people to get vaccinated? He wanted to give them savings bonds. And when that wasn’t feasible (bonds are entirely electronic now) his Second Big Idea was to give out silver dollars. Perhaps pocket watches will be next on the list.

I know a lot of people have stepped up to get vaccinated, but a lot of people haven’t, and the ratio of vaccinated people to unvaccinated people isn’t uniform across the country. In addition, those places where vaccinated people are sparser also tend to feature fewer people wearing masks. So while parts of the country can really make a big jump back to how things were in The Before Time, lots of us are stuck in places where we need to continue to be careful. Here’s The Atlantic’s take on it:

(There’s a more serious piece that could be written about the very real trauma millions of us have been through, HOW THE PANDEMIC ISN’T OVER YET, and how lots of us live among people who don’t care if they spread a deadly disease to us because they are members of a twisted death cult. This obviously isn’t that place.)

This is one of the U.S. Senators from Kansas:

 

I had no forking idea who he was at first, either.

One of the big obstacles facing the Democrats right now is Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat. What’s the solution proposed by some liberals?

 

Just a reminder that the governor of West Virginia–who would name Manchin’s replacement–is a Republican, and a trumper. (And an idiot).

To paraphrase Dr. Ian Malcom, he was so preoccupied with whether he could, he didn’t stop to think if he should:

 

Today I cannot share your laughter, ship of fools.

Why Is Miss Universe Always From Earth?

A lot of us are feeling a lot of anticipation right now—for those who have not yet been jabbed it’s the anticipation of that jab and how your body will react to it (my first Moderna shot elicited a slight headache and the second some pretty bad fatigue and muscle aches for about 10 hours, but so worth it), the semi-jabbed anticipate the next jab, and the fully-jabbed anticipate returning to the larger world.

I am looking forward to seeing my family and friends, and resuming the things that bring me joy:  volunteering at a no-kill animal shelter, singing with my choir, doing Church Lady things with the St. Mary’s Guild at church, wandering Costco, seeing a movie in a theater, eating a hot meal I didn’t cook and having all the plates taken away for someone else to wash.

I am anticipating these things in the context of the awfulness of our current society:  the continued fallout of a violent insurrection, almost daily mass shootings, police officers STILL FORKING KILLING Black people. I’m an anxious person to begin with, and none of those things are balm for a worrywart like me.

But the thing I am anticipating the most right now is a fairly rare and quite delightful experience:  the return of Brood X, the largest and most populous periodic cicada emergence. I have been part of a Mid-Atlantic weather community for 15+ years and in addition to tracking spring storms, we are also tracking the emergence of these amazing insects. That’s the magnitude of this event.

I grew up in New England so I didn’t experience this surreal phenomenon until I moved to DC. In 2004 I lived in a prime neighborhood for cicadas with established tree-lined streets and a large wilderness park just a few blocks away. And even better, the small building I lived in had a giant Japanese maple tree right in front of my windows. As the nymphs came out of the ground to shed their skins, grow wings, and fly away I could see them on my window screens. The noise in my neighborhood was deafening and that tree was absolutely covered with cicadas.

Here’s the thing:  I am not a fan of bugs. I like pollinators, praying mantises, katydids, and I catch inside spiders and take them outside (or at least I did before we got our cat Rey because she is always at war with spiders and she always wins), but the rest of the insect world can go pound sand. I was excited to experience Brood X but I was also quietly terrified. All those bugs! In the air! On the ground! Would they hurt me (no)?

As it turns out, cicadas are harmless and bumbling. I would even say they are charming. You’ll see the newly emerged ones rocking upside down on the street. (I used to turn them right side up as I headed to my bus stop. I couldn’t help myself.) They are flying doofuses with no capability to hurt you. Our cats are absolutely obsessed with bugs, to the point that last summer the aforementioned Rey got stung by a potter’s wasp she was annoying and she continues to annoy them still, so I imagine they are going to go nuts in a few weeks.

One of the best things about Brood X is that there are different cicadas that emerge, each with its own song and each with specific mating calls. So while it is loud, it’s also a whole boatload of loud.  One of the cool songs is the “pharaoh” song:

Another group sings a frying pan/lawn sprinkler sound (I think this is a mating call) :

And my favorite sound, and the one that inspired the title of this post, is a high-pitched alien spaceship song—you’ll have to listen for it in the background, but once you hear it, you’ll know it:

It seems unusually early, as the cicadas didn’t emerge en masse in 2004 until May, but there are already reports of some early birds up and singing in the trees in the DC metro area. They will pay for their temporal mistake as they will be gobbled up by eager prey. In the meantime I watch for emergence holes in the yard and listen for first song of the swarm. I really can’t wait for it to begin.

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes

(That’s my vaccination card.  Yes, it’s hot pink. I’m not sure why, although I will say it’s a great prompt to keep me from inadvertently throwing it away.)

When the pandemic began I was struck by the singularity of the moment. I studied history, after all, so while the United States was already in the middle of a historic catastrophe of a presidency, that event wasn’t immediately apparent to everyone.

The pandemic declaration wasn’t as easy to discount and it made its mark on our national consciousness. Early on my family was on a group call that was part of our effort to keep my 80something parents in good spirits when my middle sister started talking about how incredible it was to be living through something we had all learned about in history class.

I thought that since most of us were so keenly aware of being in a pandemic that as a nation we’d have a shared experience, and because we were all having more or less that same experience our conversations about that experience would reflect a common struggle. Boy, was I wrong, huh?

Now I did understand that people whose jobs were essential—medical personnel, police/fire/emergency services, grocery store workers, home improvement store workers, etc.—were not going to be able to shut themselves up at home. But what I failed to imagine was how many of the rest of us weren’t so keenly aware of being in a pandemic, and that national shared conversation never emerged.

But a national conversation has now emerged, and instead of being about the struggle of isolation, it’s about the promise of hope. We’re now finally talking about the same thing:  being vaccinated. Social media is full of vaccine selfies, vaccination cards, and everyone sharing information about where to get that elusive and lifesaving jab.

(Now I know that there are a lot of people–too many people–who won’t get vaccinated. I know I’m supposed to say that people believe different things and we just need to let them be and to respect their choices. Well, I don’t respect their choice because I don’t respect things rooted in pure ignorance. These same people are going to be complaining when they are barred from movie theaters and other indoor spaces because they couldn’t make the smallest possible effort to fight Covid. That’s going to be my last mention of them because as the Polish proverb goes, “Not my circus, not my monkeys”.)

Beyond the hope, relief, and joy of being able to safely move in the world again, we are also united over a dominant question:  “What side effects did you have?” Getting the vaccine is a balancing act between the fear of a new kind of vaccine that is an incredible medical accomplishment but which can also make you feel awful, and a deadly disease.  OK, when I put it that way, I guess it’s not really a balancing act. But I do think that despite how safe and incredible all of the vaccines are, especially the exotic-sounding mRNA vaccines, in our small way we’re pretty brave for stepping up and doing our part to end this nightmare. Then again, I hate needles, so that could just be me talking.

And although all our stories of hope, relief, and joy are part of this uplifting national conversation, for me it’s the stories from the people who have been as locked down as much as I have been that resonate the most. My spouse has special risks and so I have been the front line person in our family. We will get our second shots Saturday. I have had to be extremely cautious since last February and so haven’t been anywhere except pressing medical appointments. He has had to completely shut himself away in the same way, and as he’s an extrovert this has been so much worse for him than it has for me (the rare female INTJ). I love him so much—being together for a year has brought us closer—and all our joint sacrifice has weirdly been an unexpected joy as well.

But I’m also going to look forward to other joys in the upcoming weeks:  my first haircut (and color!!) in 14 months, being able to do my own grocery shopping, eating a hot meal in a restaurant (well, outside dining only for the next few months), and eventually being able to see my 80something parents whom I haven’t seen in person in 2 years.

And while I write all of this I am accutely aware of all of the suffering caused by Covid here in the US–the deaths I mourn every day, the injustice that is our healthcare system (I was uninsured for too many years for my comfort), the risks so many people have had to take to keep businesses open because their jobs could not be done remotely, the toll on healthcare workers, and so many other sorrows. I am really hoping these important issues will be addressed both right now and in future pandemic planning.

I close with a song that I like for its Sondheim-borrowing, from a show I absolutely loathed all the way through when I saw it live. Joy be with you all.

My Only Man of the Hour

I’m surprised that I’m so upset over a pretty minor thing, but it’s bugging me, so I’m going to write about it. I’m really upset about how the media is covering the Biden dogs, and especially Major and his ongoing issues.

Here’s the thing:  rescue animals have problems. Even the most well-adjusted rescue pet has had to deal with the trauma of being taken from where they were and placed in the shelter or rescue facility. When you disrupt their daily lives, those issues are going to come back into play.

A few years ago, in the span of 6 weeks, we lost our pair of tabby cat brothers, Connor and Liam, to old age. Liam was a few months shy of his 19th birthday, and Connor was only 10 days from his 19th birthday. They were rescues only in the sense that they came from the vet once they were weaned (their mother cat died giving birth to the litter) and then raised by my husband. They were 6 years old when I first met them, and I grew really attached to them and was devastated when we lost them both so close to each other.

In time I returned as a volunteer to the shelter I like to support and resumed socializing young cats and adult cats with behavioral issues. When I went into “the kitten room” the first kitten I met was Finn, then known as Iggy. He was so large that at first I thought he was a momma cat that needed to be kept near her delicate kittens. I also met his sister Rey, then known as Sissy, because she parked herself next to me on the bench and kept poking me whenever I stopped petting her.

We don’t really know what happened to them before they came to the shelter as they were left in a carrier tied to the fence around the facility. That road hosts a lot of tractor trailer traffic, so you can draw your own conclusions as to how they react to noise now.  From the note in their carrier we know they were abandoned by a breeder and it’s easy to see why they were abandoned—Finn has a white spot on his belly and Rey was clearly the runt of the litter:  very small, little coordination, and definitely behind in her progress. Finn is a Russian Blue and Rey is a Russian Black. His white spot and her slow progress meant no one would breed or pay an exorbitant price for either of them–which is why you should adopt, not shop.

In addition, Finn was easily overstimulated, which was characterized as his having a bad temper. He was just a super-loving kitty who loves to be petted, but back then could not actually handle a lot of petting. In the shelter setting this meant he swiped at people who gave him the attention he craved. I had been a volunteer there long enough to know that he’d never get adopted with that behavior, and if he never left the shelter, his shy and struggling sister wouldn’t either. So I brought my husband in to meet them. Rey immediately jumped in his lap. We brought them home a few days later.

Rey has since filled out, gained confidence and strength, and is a lively, loving kitty who will nip you if you make too much noise. Finn is now a cat you can pay a ton of attention to without fear of getting scratched. It took a good bit of time to redirect his energy from being focused on you and what he wanted from you to do for him right now, to being focused on a toy, and then on toys he could entertain himself with. He’s learned to use his tail to signal to us that he’s growing agitated with how we’re petting him, and if we forget he doesn’t like it if you put your arm across him while he’s lying on his side, he gently pushes your arm away with his back feet instead of scratching you. He’s so sweet now that he climbs under the covers and sleeps with me on cold nights, only occasionally poking me with a claw if I roll over too far.

I think about Finn when I read about Major Biden. Major is a good dog. He doesn’t have a temper—he has a problem with being overstimulated. And there are too many unfamiliar people around him and he doesn’t have his own Person to look after him during the day. When Finn was a crazy kitten, I made a point to cuddle up with him every day—to pet him and handle him to make up for the months of socialization he didn’t have during his long shelter transition—so he knew he had me to come to when he was scared or thinking about acting out.

Instead of using Major’s issues as a teaching moment for people who don’t understand dogs, the press is using them to bash the Bidens. On Wednesday the big news was that one of the dogs pooped on a floor in the White House. (Remember the furor when President Obama’s dogs did the same thing? You don’t? I wonder why that is.)

On Tuesday, Lester Holt accepted the Edward R. Murrow Lifetime Achievement Award and said this:

“I think it’s become clearer that fairness is overrated,” he said. “Before you run with or tweet that headline, let me explain a bit. The idea that we should always give two sides equal weight and merit does not reflect the world we find ourselves in. That the sun sets in the west is a fact. Any contrary view does not deserve our time or attention.”

I really don’t know if our media wants to do the work to drop the “both sides” nonsense. The same media that spent years trying to normalize the previous president* is both-sidesing the increasingly-popular Biden by trying to paint him as a bad pet parent with dire implications for the future of this nation. I can train a problem cat. I have no idea how to fix our broken news media.

I’ll let Norah Jones take it from here.

 

How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Talking Filibuster

Back in January I wrote about my love of politics and how I had high hopes that the Biden administration would make them great again. Over the last few weeks Senate Democrats have been hinting that the filibuster game is afoot. The Senator You Love to Hate, Joe Manchin, allowed that he would support a “talking” filibuster, where the minority would have to keep talking to delay the vote. Over the last few weeks, more and more of the Senate’s Democratic filibuster defenders have expressed their interest in either eliminating or reforming the current filibuster. Tonight Amy Klobuchar, the Chair of the Senate Rules Committee, said that the talking filibuster was coming in time for the voting rights bill.

Extremely Online Democratic Twitter is apoplectic over this change. “But it will still require 60 votes!!!” Yes, but only to break the filibuster. If the minority party stops talking (or goes off-topic if the filibuster is changed to specify only germane debate is allowed), the vote is called and a simple majority wins. Somehow this is a fatal blow to the…Senate Democrats.

The current composition of Senate Democrats is a recipe for Democratic success using the talking filibuster. While in the majority Senate Democrats are more disciplined than I had anticipated they would be, and they are able to work in tandem and to a scripted timetable (the current one being the growing support for a talking filibuster presented as minimal change to the process—and don’t underestimate this framing). Also, Senate Democrats are chockablock with nerds–glorious nerds who can hold forth with months of on-topic debate:  well-sourced, eloquent, affecting, persuasive debate–which will serve them well as a minority party.

Senate Republicans are supremely uninterested in governing, and even less interested in anything that can’t be repackaged into a FOX sound bite.  Remember, Senate Republicans got beat twice last month when they could not just sit in their seats while the Senate was in session (that’s how Merrick Garland’s filibustered nomination moved to confirmation).

Mitch McConnell knows this too, and he’s now regularly threatening to filibuster everything if the Democrats eliminate the filibuster. While using the status quo as a future threat is a bold move on his part, his panic is fueled by what is becoming apparent:  his beloved filibuster is staying, but it’s now going to require discipline and unity from his caucus. Maybe he should have been more specific in January when he asked for assurances that the filibuster would stay.

But my real enthusiasm to submit Senate Republicans to the talking filibuster is to laugh at them. One of the little things I like about the Harry Potter series is that the spell to banish the things that terrorize you is called “Riddikulus”. Laughing at things reduces them to a human size and form. And the current Republican Party is full of people to laugh at.

Here’s Louisiana’s John Neely Kennedy and his attempted slam dunk at a gun control hearing:

Here he is, again, mansplaining how the IMF works to Janet Yellen:

Rand Paul gonna Rand Paul:

Because I am merciful, I’ll spare you the video of Ted Cruz. Here’s what he tried to sell during the hearing on the voting rights bill:

This bill is the single most dangerous bill this committee has ever considered. This bill is designed to corrupt the election process permanently, and it is a brazen and shameless power grab by Democrats. That the number-one priority is not COVID or getting people back to work or getting kids back in school. It’s keeping Democrats in power for 100 years. And how do they do this? They do this by instituting a bill that will promote widespread fraud and illegal voting. Under this bill, there’s automatic registration of anybody if you get a driver’s license, if you get a welfare payment, if you get an unemployment payment. If you attend a public university. Now, everyone knows there are millions of illegal aliens who have driver’s licenses, getting welfare benefits to attend public universities. This bill is designed to register every one of those illegal aliens. What would the impact be in state elections of automatically registered millions of illegal aliens to vote?

Like the videos above, it is full of lies and magical thinking. Imagine televising dumb arguments like this to millions of Americans to justify denying us our vote.

 

The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia

Tuesday night a man whose name I will not use murdered 8 people; 6 of them were Asian Americans. Seven of the dead were women. Earlier that evening Donald Trump, while on live television, used a slur to refer to COVID-19. What did the media fixate on? That he had told everyone to get vaccinated. Somehow the year long rise in violence against Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, that began because the same racist former president consistently used racist language to describe a virus, wasn’t worthy of conversation.

Wednesday morning the Cherokee County, GA’s Captain Jay Baker told us that these murders did not constitute a racially-motivated hate crime. You see, the murderer was upset about sin and his “sex addiction”. And also? He’d had a bad day. And then we we found out that this same sheriff trafficked in anti-Asian memes. At that point I just couldn’t anymore with the hot takes that it wasn’t a hate crime, but someone mad at sex workers, with the undercurrent that while this was—you know—bad, it was pretty understandable. UGH UGH UGH.

And then Wednesday evening we learned more about 4 of the victims. It took us so long to find out about them because it required people who spoke Korean. These 4 women were in their 50s, 60s, and 70s. The narrative completely changed. The murderer wasn’t a young Christian struggling with sin and lashing out at the women he felt had led him astray. He was just a racist loser who lashed out at people he hated. He had a social media presence that was anti-Asian. He literally said on Tuesday night, as he was killing people, that he wanted to kill Asian Americans.

I thought I knew what I wanted to write about this tragedy:  a loser murders 7 young women because he has sexual hang-ups and had been indoctrinated into a pseudo-religious ideology that holds that sexually active women need to be strictly controlled. But the first 4 women we learn about are…like me. They are middle-aged to elderly. They most likely weren’t sex workers. This wasn’t about sin or sex addiction. This was about straight up racism and misogyny.

It’s the same behavior that happens on Native American reservations, where angry white men go to rape Native American women because they know they won’t be held accountable for their terrible deeds. This murderer was taken into custody alive and unharmed. The sheriff, himself a despicable racist, as we found out today, offered up excuses for the person he identified with. As it turns out, so did a lot of America.

Also on Wednesday the House of Representatives reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, and even after these terrible murders 172 House Republicans voted against it. Now we wait to see if it can pass the Senate. It is beyond infuriating that the passage of this bill in doubt, but abusers protect their fellow abusers, and they see no reason to break that cycle.

Hope Is The Thing With Feathers

When I returned home earlier this week after my weekly super-exciting grocery trip (aka, what is missing from my order this week?) I was startled to hear a bird call I’d never heard before. This bird meant business with his ear-splitting song. I bustled inside singing the song over and over so I could immediately google possible suspects. I couldn’t find it and I have since forgotten it. But because he was so aggressively marking his territory with sound, I bet I’ll hear him again (and this time I’ll make sure I have my binoculars with me).

I got my first Covid vaccine shot yesterday, a year after the World Health Organization declared the Covid outbreak to be a pandemic. I freaked out a little the night before because I didn’t know how the vaccination site was structured, and I said so on social media. Reassurance was immediately forthcoming:  2 friends who had been vaccinated there reached out. One let me know that the site was very well-organized and efficient, and the other let me know it was staffed with people who understood we are all freaking out. (Well, she actually said, “The true welcoming, friendly, helpful, down home spirit of West Virginians really shines here,” but those are the same things, right?) And when I got there, I found I had worried for nothing as there were volunteers everywhere so you didn’t have to worry about where to go next.

There was a buzz in the building (grandly known as the town’s civic center, but just a gigantic metal building), and there was also something I haven’t see a lot of over the last year—a lot of smiling. Even the people like me, who are always anxious, were smiling. One of the volunteers was telling us she was now fully-vaccinated and that she just could not believe it yet.  She said she’d been living in so much fear and now she wasn’t. “We’re not just giving people vaccines here,” she said. “We’re also giving hope.”

Last night Joe Biden went on TV and once again delivered a pitch perfect address to the American people—to us. He reassured people that there would be enough vaccine, that there was a plan to make sure everyone who wanted a vaccine could have one in the tangible future, and told us that if we just held on a little longer, we could have our summer back with a real Independence Day (hey, I’m from New England—it’s not warm enough to swim in any natural body of water until then, so that’s when summer begins). He was giving hope, too.

I watched the address with my life-long Republican, anti-trump spouse. He had been on the Biden bandwagon from the very beginning (me? Warren all the way). And once again I had to say that even though Joe Biden wasn’t my first choice (or second, or third), he was the right person for the job.  Good job, America. Now let’s start planning that birthday party.