Sunday, September 25, 2022

Sunday Reading

Charlie Pierce on the rise of Christian Nationalism:

The mainstream embrace of explicit Christian nationalism is a truly terrible idea, and it’s spreading its poison all over the country. From Politico:

Prominent Republican politicians have made the themes critical to their message to voters in the run up to the 2022 midterm elections. Doug Mastriano, the Republican nominee for governor in Pennsylvania, has argued that America is a Christian nation and that the separation of church and state is a “myth.” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Georgia hard-liner, declared: “We need to be the party of nationalism and I’m a Christian, and I say it proudly, we should be Christian Nationalists.” Amid a backlash, she doubled down and announced she would start selling “Christian Nationalist” shirts. Now Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis seems to be flirting with Christian nationalist rhetoric, as well[…]Our new University of Maryland Critical Issues Poll suggests that declaring the United States a Christian nation is a message that could be broadly embraced by Republicans in the midterms and 2024 presidential race. But our findings also see limits to its appeal — and over the long-term, Christian nationalism could be a political loser.

“Could be,” you say? I am not reassured. In the long term—to paraphrase John Maynard Keynes—we’re all dead. If it’s just the same to everybody else, I’d just as soon not live under the reign of heretics—because that’s what these people are. You can scour the gospels from Matthew to Revelations and you will not find anything there that encourages nationalism, Christian or otherwise.

Not surprisingly, much of the support for declaring the U.S. a Christian nation comes from Republicans who identify themselves as Evangelical or born-again Christians: Seventy-eight percent of this group support the move compared to 48 percent of other Republicans. Among Democrats, a slight majority of those identifying themselves as Evangelical or born-again Christians also backed such a declaration (52 percent), compared to just 8 percent of other Democrats.

To be fair, the poll also shows overwhelming majority support for the notion declaring the country a Christian nation would be unconstitutional. But numbers do not delineate the poison, which is bound molecularly to an even more deadly strain:

Our polling found that white grievance is highly correlated with support for a Christian nation. White respondents who say that members of their race have faced more discrimination than others are most likely to embrace a Christian America. Roughly 59 percent of all Americans who say white people have been discriminated against a lot more in the past five years favor declaring the U.S. a Christian nation, compared to 38 percent of all Americans. White Republicans who said white people have been more discriminated against also favored a Christian nation (65 percent) by a slightly larger percentage than all Republicans (63 percent)[…]Indeed, as our polling shows, a non-trivial number of Americans want to see the U.S. become a Christian nation—even if they acknowledge that the Constitution prohibits such a designation. Prominent Republican politicians have seized on this sentiment and are openly campaigning on a message of Christian nationalism.

It’s too late to get these mooks to stop juggling hand grenades. They’re going to do it until something blows up, and all we can do is hope to avoid the shrapnel.

Doonesbury — Generally speaking.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Friday, September 23, 2022

Happy Friday

Greetings from Blue Ash, Ohio.  It’s 47F and I didn’t bring a sweater.

Meanwhile, Andy Borowitz updates us on the latest news.

NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report)—In an event that some commentators are calling the day the nation lost its innocence, millions of Americans were stunned to learn yesterday that Donald J. Trump may have committed fraud.

As news of the New York State attorney general’s fraud lawsuit against Trump spread like wildfire across the Internet, Americans expressed shock and incredulity that one of America’s most successful and respected businessmen might have violated his own high ethical standards.

“I’ve been walking around in a state of disbelief all day,” Harland Dorrinson, a barber in Cleveland, said. “He held our nation’s highest office and always conducted himself with such propriety. I hope to God these fraud charges are some kind of mixup.”

Carol Foyler, an insurance agent in Tampa, agreed. “How could he have gotten involved in such shady dealings?” she asked. “He’s a very smart man. For heaven’s sake, he even ran a university!”

Davis Logsdon, a psychology professor at the University of Minnesota, said that it will be important for parents to talk to children who have been traumatized by news of Trump’s legal imbroglio.

“Anecdotally, I’m hearing that kids are taking the news particularly hard,” he said. “They feel as if the rug has been pulled out from under them. If Donald Trump is capable of misleading people, who’s next—Dr. Oz?”

Trump says he can declassify documents by just thinking about them.  There are two flaws in that logic.  First, there is no actual proof that he is capable of thinking.  Second, even if he does, he has to be sending out more than a carrier wave.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Travel Day

Heading out before dawn to catch a flight to New York… to change planes to fly to Cincinnati.  Hey, I don’t make the rules.  I’m going to spend a few days with my mom.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

No Surprise Here

From the Daily Beast:

The small Delaware town of Rehoboth Beach, where President Joe Biden has a vacation home, scrambled Tuesday to prepare for the expected arrival of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ next round of expensive migrant flights—but the day only ended with more confusion in the Diamond State.

Instead, confusion swirled as the chartered plane that was scheduled to leave Texas on Tuesday morning, filled with migrants, departed hours late and bound for a different city—Nashville, Tennessee—with no passengers on board.

Delaware officials had sprung into action on Monday night after word got out that the same plane DeSantis used to fly migrants from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard last week was listed on a public schedule to fly to Delaware, via Florida, on Tuesday morning. There was also a $950,000 payment made by Florida to Vertol Systems Company Inc, the same charter company that flew migrants to Martha’s Vineyard.

Once word spread, however, DeSantis lost the element of surprise that marked his Martha’s Vineyard stunt. This time, city, state and federal officials immediately began preparing for a possible arrival.

“We are aware of the situation and are working with state and local partners to compassionately address this situation and take care of the migrants who may arrive,” a spokesperson for Rehoboth Beach, a city of 1,108 people, said in a statement to The Daily Beast on Tuesday morning.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) told CNN on Tuesday that he spent much of Monday night on the phone, coordinating with community leaders “to make sure that we provide an appropriate, welcoming and supportive reception in Delaware.”

The White House also indicated that federal agencies had reached out to coordinate with Delaware Gov. John Carney and service providers in a bid to prevent a repeat of the Martha’s Vineyard episode.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Tuesday that while the administration did have advance notice of the plane’s supposed arrival, it did not come from the man who apparently coordinated it.

“Our heads up did not come from Governor DeSantis because his only goal, as he’s made it really quite clear, is to create chaos,” Jean-Pierre said. “It’s about creating political theater for him. It’s not about getting to a solution.”

Public flight plans initially showed that the plane used to whisk migrants to Massachusetts was set to embark on a similar flight path Tuesday, departing from Texas, with a stopover in the Florida Panhandle before arriving in Georgetown—the closest airport to Rehoboth Beach, 19 miles away—at 1:30 p.m. ET Tuesday.

The flight was then delayed for unknown reasons before its route changed entirely. It departed for Nashville around 2:30 p.m. ET, where it reportedly landed without a single migrant on board 90 minutes later.

The plan to dump migrants had all the skills and conniving of a Saturday morning cartoon episode of Scooby-Doo, and I can hear the mutterings from Tallahassee: “And it would have worked, too, were it not for those meddling kids!”

Aside from the comic aspects of the plot being foiled, it really does show that people like DeSantis don’t give a rat’s ass about the people they’re using as pawns in this attempt to humiliate the administration about immigration.  Instead of working to find a solution to a problem that has been something every administration, both Democratic and Republican, has wrestled with since time out of mind, they pull off this frat-boy-level game of ring and run, using immigrants as the flaming bag of dog shit.

This is no surprise at all coming from the likes of Gov. DeSantis, who would much rather get his name in the papers and on Sean Hannity than actually try to work with Congress.  That doesn’t get you votes in the New Hampshire primary.

By the way, the group of immigrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard last week filed a class-action lawsuit against DeSantis and the state of Florida.  No matter the outcome, there’s more of my Florida tax dollars going to pay to defend the defenseless.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

At Least They Didn’t Use Boxcars

From the Washington Post:

A Texas sheriff will investigate the flights arranged by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) to transport dozens of Venezuelan migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, allegedly after making false promises of work and other services.

The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office announced that it had opened an investigation into last week’s incident, in which migrants were “lured from the Migrant Resource Center” in their county — which covers greater San Antonio — and flown to Florida and later on to Martha’s Vineyard, where they were “left to fend for themselves.”

“Additionally, we are working with private attorneys who are representing the victims, as well as advocacy organizations regarding this incident,” Sheriff Javier Salazar (D) said in a statement. “We are also preparing to work with any federal agencies that have concurrent jurisdiction, should the need arise.”

DeSantis surprised federal and state officials on Wednesday by sending migrants who recently crossed the U.S.-Mexico border to the affluent Massachusetts resort island. The move is part of an ongoing campaign by DeSantis and other Republican governors in Texas and Arizona to send migrants to Democrat-heavy cities such as Washington, New York and Chicago to publicize soaring numbers of crossings this year on the southern border.

About 50 migrants — including men, women and children — boarded shuttle flights from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard, with a brief stop in Florida. Many of them later told immigration attorneys and advocates that they were promised work and other benefits if they traveled to Massachusetts. That was not the case.

“They were promised a solution to several of their problems,” Salazar said Monday. “They were taken to Martha’s Vineyard, from what we can gather, for little more than a photo op, video op, and then they were unceremoniously stranded in Martha’s Vineyard.”

The Miami Herald picks up the story

In response to a request for comment, Jeremy Redfern, DeSantis’ deputy press secretary, did not answer with words.

Instead, he emailed a screenshot of a news story with the headline: “Bexar County Sheriff Salazar says Biden admin’s handling of immigration ‘isn’t working.’ ”

On Monday night, DeSantis appeared on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show and defended the flights.

The governor said the program was “clearly voluntary and all the other nonsense you are hearing is just not true.”

But the migrants said they were recruited for the Martha’s Vineyard trip with falsehoods.

Several said that a woman known as “Perla,” who is not believed to be a migrant, approached them outside a migrant resource center in San Antonio and offered them jobs and assistance if they flew to Massachusetts. Those claims of employment and other opportunities turned out to be false as officials on Martha’s Vineyard were unprepared for their arrival last Wednesday.

I’m not hopeful that this one case will bring DeSantis’s antics to a halt. The governor’s spokesdroid said that the idea was to give these immigrants a better life. For those of us who have read history, that has a familiar echo, except back then it involved using boxcars.

Monday, September 19, 2022

A Class Act

Autumn Brewington at the Washington Post explains why Queen Elizabeth II has fascinated people all over the world, including Americans.

LONDON — To understand the scale of events involved in laying to rest Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, consider some of the preparations both visible and invisible here: Hundreds of foreign leaders have arrived from capitals elsewhere — and agreed to be transported not in their typical luxurious vehicles but crowded shuttle buses. Representatives from 23 royal families will be seated ahead of government dignitaries at Westminster Abbey, per royal protocol, which differs from diplomatic protocol, which is just one of the many elements of logistics planning being hashed out in an area of the U.K. foreign office dubbed “the Hangar.” Before troops began rehearsing at 2 a.m. last week, royal gardeners started prepping the streets four hours earlier — among other things, pouring thousands of pounds of sand to ease the passage of the gun carriage ferrying the queen’s coffin.

My Post colleagues William Booth, Anthony Faiola and Karla Adam dive here into the question of why the world is fascinated by Queen Elizabeth. There are lots of other royal families, they note. Yet people aren’t similarly enthralled by the king of Belgium, the sultan of Brunei “or the ‘bicycling royals’ of northern Europe — interesting and colorful as they may be.”

My take? The queen’s funeral is a reminder to millions of the relentless passage of time and how one mortal spent it: Her parents were the last emperor and empress of India. She was on the cover of Time magazine at age 3. She was raised not to show emotion, certainly not in public. She was born in an era when women did not wash their own hair, in a class where a nanny was a more regular presence than a parent. She was also taught to be humble; when as a child she remarked about crowds waiting outside for a glimpse of their royal presence, her grandmother Queen Mary ordered young Elizabeth to be taken home by a back door.

She was an upper-class Englishwoman — happiest in the countryside with her dogs and horses — who made a straightforward commitment to her role. The extraordinary thing is how long and how consistently she kept it.

I think that the fascination and connection comes from the fact that she had something that has nothing whatsoever to do with her royal status, her finances, or her place in history.  It’s because she had class.

Class has nothing to do with income or position in society.  I have known people all my life who had that immutable and enigmatic quality; people who couldn’t rub two dimes together at times or who didn’t have a list of degrees from elite universities.  But they were able to give me that sense that they had it, and whether we’re talking about Her Majesty the Queen or Elizabeth Windsor, she had it.

Class is something that we expect from our leaders, be they monarchs or presidents or the mayor of our hometown.  It is a quality that gives us confidence about their role in our lives and the trust that we’ve put in them.  We’ve had presidents in my lifetime who had that quality — Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter come to mind — and those who did not.  Class is something that is comes naturally; you can’t buy it or rent it, although many have tried.

I think Americans have been paying attention to the coverage of the queen’s passing and the ceremonies that have followed because she had qualities that we want to see in ourselves: the ability to make others feel welcome and good about themselves. It may seem like a small thing, but a lot of times, that’s all that matters.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Sunday Reading

Sound Familiar? — Charlie Pierce on history repeating itself at the hands on Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott.

The good people who manage the vast archives at the John F. Kennedy Library down by the bay in Boston are not people known to miss a trick. There is so much history stored there because, as we oldsters will tell you, the 1960s were a pretty target-rich environment, history-wise. Of course, JFK’s time in office was cut off before what we call the ’60s really got rolling. Consider: If he had not been murdered, Kennedy would have been president of the United States when the Beatles arrived and throughout the Summer of Love in 1967—but a lot of the seeds that sprouted later can be found in the stacks of his library, which sits like the prow of a ship, pointed out over a domesticated slice of the Atlantic Ocean.

For example, during his entire time in office (but especially after the Bay of Pigs debacle in 1961), Kennedy and the CIA were at sword’s point. Kennedy didn’t trust the CIA as far as he could throw Allen Dulles—and, in the aftermath of the Cuban fiasco, JFK threw him pretty far—and the spooks out at Langley thought the president was callow and not up to the job of being butch with the Soviet Union and Fidel Castro. (So many of the ‘Who Shot John?’ theories surrounding Kennedy’s murder have their roots in this undeniable conflict.) Anyway, on March 16, 1963, looking to manufacture a casus belli with which to justify another Cuban invasion, the Joint Chiefs of Staff came up with a plan called Operation Northwoods, a blatantly illegal and utterly batshit plan to create false-flag domestic terrorist attacks that could be blamed on Castro’s regime. One of these proposed actions involved blowing up John Glenn on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral. The memo read, in part:

The desired result from the execution of this plan would be to place the United States in the apparent position of suffering defensible grievances from a rash and irresponsible government of Cuba and to develop an international image of a Cuban threat to peace in the Western Hemisphere.

This sounds like so much Hollywood ballyhoo until you go to the JFK Library and hold the actual Operation Northwoods memo in your hands, and you look down at the signatures of receipt and discover that this cockamamie scheme went all the way up the chain of command to the president’s desk. Kennedy reacted by removing Gen. Lyman Lemnitzer as chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

But the plan existed, right there on paper. It was declassified in 1992, and its existence was revealed a decade later by author James Bamford. When Northwoods was abandoned, Alex Jones would not be born for another 12 years, but that yahoo has anchored his “false flag” theories for everything from the 9/11 attacks to the massacre at Sandy Hook in the fact that Northwoods was seriously contemplated in 1962.

Then there was Civil Rights Movment, the other great gathering storm of the Kennedy presidency. It can be argued forever whether JFK was too dilatory in engaging the great moral struggle of the age, that he might have acted too much as the party man in a Democratic Party still beholden to the segregationist Old Bulls of the Congress. But he sent in federal troops when open insurrection broke out at the University of Mississippi in 1962 over the admission of James Meredith, the first black student to enroll there. A year later, he signed an executive order federalizing the Alabama National Guard, which moved Gov. George Wallace out of the doorway so two black students could enroll in that state’s university. That same night, June 11, 1963, Kennedy spoke on television to the nation:

We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the Scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution. The heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities, whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated. If an American, because his skin is dark, cannot eat lunch in a restaurant open to the public, if he cannot send his children to the best public school available, if he cannot vote for the public officials who will represent him, if, in short, he cannot enjoy the full and free life which all of us want, then who among us would be content to have the color of his skin changed and stand in his place? Who among us would then be content with the counsels of patience and delay?

It was an important speech. Kennedy seemed to be climbing down off the fence. In Jackson, Mississippi, Myrlie Evers watched the speech with her young children. Shortly after it ended, they heard their father, NAACP leader Medgar Evers, turn into their driveway. They ran to meet him. Across the street, a racist monster named Byron de la Beckwith shot Evers in the back in front of his family. (It took 31 years and three trials before he was convicted in the shooting.)

In the archives of the JFK Library, there are thousands of pieces of paper dealing with the civil rights struggle. And on Thursday of this week, when Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis took credit for the ‘own the libs’ human-trafficking stunt of flying migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, the archivists at the library thought the tactic sounded familiar and they leaped onto the electric Twitter machine with an old newspaper clipping showing why that was.

In February of 1963, the president of the White Citizens Council of Mississippi announced that he had paid a black family’s passage by bus from Mississippi to New Jersey, where they would be deposited in front of the home owned by the parents of Assistant Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, with whom the Mississippi racists were still angry due to his role in putting down the insurrection at the state university the previous fall. The clever dicks of the time called this a “Reverse Freedom Ride.”

These stunts sent impoverished black families, gulled by empty promises of housing and employment, off to other northern destinations connected to various government lawyers involved in the dismantling of the Jim Crow system in the South. One bus from Arkansas was dispatched to the Hyannis compound owned by the Kennedys. An Arkansas organizer explained that:

“For many years, certain politicians, educators and certain religious leaders have used the white people of the South as a whipping boy, to put it mildly, to further their own ends and their political campaigns…We’re going to find out if people like Ted Kennedy … and the Kennedys, all of them, really do have an interest in the Negro people, really do have a love for the Negro.”

Another White Citizen goober named Ned Touchstone explained the strategy thusly, “Katzenbach has shown himself to be a friend of the Negro and a great civil rights leader.”

Does any of this sound familiar?

For more than six decades, the Republican Party—and the modern conservative movement that is central to all of its success—has energized itself over and over again by subsuming the foul flotsam of American apartheid. The late Republican ratfcker Lee Atwater explained the plan and the process in a now-infamous 1981 interview:

You start out in 1954 by saying, “N*****, n*****, n*****.” By 1968 you can’t say “n*****”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “N*****, n*****.”

The strategy has succeeded so well, and the Republican Party has so deeply imbibed its message, that the party has grown careless in its implementation and reckless about the state of its camouflage. In 2016, it elected a president* that gave it permission to dispense with the camouflage entirely.

So we have the governor of Florida, apparently in league with the governor of Texas and god only knows who else, adopting an attitude toward asylum seekers that he transparently has cribbed from one the Klan employed in a time we thought we were long done with. And there is an audience for this kind of thing throughout the Republican Party because that audience has been carefully constructed for longer than many current Republicans even can remember. It is their natural constituency. They are our White Citizens Council now, even though most of us didn’t ask for one.

Doonesbury — What’s in a name?

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Friday, September 16, 2022

Thursday, September 15, 2022