That Other America

What’s the narrative? What’s the zeitgeist – the fancy German word people use – “time ghost” – the spirit or soul of the times, these times? Ask the question, and one answer will be that people are fed up with doctors and science and with being told what to do. They don’t want to wear masks. They don’t want to be vaccinated, or maybe they do, but they want be forced to be vaccinated, or even be told to get vaccinated. They don’t even want to hear a suggestion about that. And they think that’s the zeitgeist. Imagine an uprising. A boycott. Imagine if all Americans refused to fly on any airline that mandates that its employees be vaccinated and that their passengers be vaccinated too. Imagine the same for the cruise lines. And imagine if all Americans refused to patronize any business of any kind that require its employees and its customers or patrons to wear masks. That would end this nonsense. Everyone is fed up. All they need to do is refuse to play this silly game. And imagine if all Americans simply walked away from anyone wearing a mask anywhere. Shun them. No one would talk to them. That too would end this nonsense. And shun anyone who admits to having been vaccinated – family, friends – anyone. They’ve ruined their bodies and are dangerous now. Who knows what they’re shedding? Make them the new lepers’. It’s time for all Americans to rise up as one. Enough is enough.

That may be misjudging the spirit of the times. Most people are fine with the current vaccines. Masks are no problem either. Both seem to work. This is a matter of keeping safe and keeping others safe. And there’s no real burden here. What’s the big deal? They’re not buying that other narrative of oppression. And they outnumber those who long for an uprising three or four to one. And there are no airlines or cruise lines or any other major or minor business anywhere that doesn’t require its employees be vaccinated and may soon require its in-person customers be vaccinated too. But masks may do for now. They’re selling safety. No one need fear doing business with them. This is the new norm, in one America:

But there is the other America:

Kyrie Irving was neither seen nor heard at the Brooklyn Nets’ home opener on Sunday, but the effects of his decision to refuse to get vaccinated were on full display.

Ahead of the game, a large group of vaccine mandate protesters appeared outside the Barclays Center, demanding Irving be allowed to play NBA games again. Even though he is barred from only Nets home games due to New York protocols, the Nets have announced Irving will not play until the situation is resolved.

Wearing shirts reading slogans such as “Stand with Kyrie” and chanting “Let Kyrie play,” the crowd soon turned aggressive and stormed past the barricades outside the arena.

Irving is about the only unvaccinated league basketball player, the only one making this a big deal, and his explanations of his position have been rather vague, but now he’s a hero, a hero to the vastly outnumbered:

Newsday’s Barbara Barker reported the group included supporters of President Donald Trump and people with Black Lives Matter signs, while another source claimed to hear a reference to the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol.

The situation was ugly enough that the Nets shut down admission into the Barclays Center while trying to keep protesters out of the building, per Barker. The lockdown was ultimately brief, with Newsday’s Greg Logan reporting minutes later that arena personnel and police got the situation under control and fans with tickets were being admitted again.

These were a few jerks. And his teammates seem to see Irving as a brilliant basketball player and a bit of a jerk, and hope this gets sorted out soon, but that seems unlikely now:

As the situation of his vaccine refusal has escalated, Irving has become a figure around which anti-vaccine mandate voices have rallied, garnering shows of support from several conservative figureheads, including Senator U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and Donald Trump Jr.

Current New York vaccine statutes require home players to be vaccinated to get on the court, which led to Irving missing the Nets’ media day and preseason games. The Nets found a loophole so he could practice, but the team eventually decided it didn’t want Irving playing if he was limited to only road games. It has also held off on any talks regarding a potential $186 million extension for the star point guard.

He could lose a lot of money, but he has Ted Cruz and Donald Trump Jr. on his side. Irving has said that he is not anti-vaccine and merely trying to be a “voice for the voiceless” – but he said little about what the problem is with these vaccines. They might be dangerous? The man is not terribly coherent. But he was useful to a certain crowd.

And then there’s the country music crowd:

During a week in which he announced the cancellation of four concerts at venues with coronavirus safety protocols, country artist Travis Tritt reiterated on Tuesday night to Fox News host Tucker Carlson how he was “putting my money where my mouth is” by not playing at places requiring vaccination, masks or negative coronavirus tests.

That’s his boycott:

The musician, who has said that promoters and venues requiring covid safety measures were “discriminating” against concertgoers, told Billboard this week that he was pulling out of shows in Muncie, Ind.; Philadelphia, Miss.; Peoria, Ill.; and Louisville, becoming the latest performer to speak out against vaccination or masking rules. Tritt, 58, who said he still plans to perform at venues without guidelines, noted that the decision was made after some fans reached out to him when they were turned away from buildings because they were not vaccinated or did not have a negative test.

“This is trying to divide people,” he told Carlson. “This is trying to shame people. This is trying to basically discriminate against people they don’t feel are clean enough to be a part of enjoying a concert like that.”

But there are now few if any venues without guidelines left for him to play. They too are selling safety. He is losing gigs. But he’s got that noble-martyr thing going for him:

Since the Monday announcement, Tritt has been praised on social media by conservatives who’ve opposed safety mandates implemented by businesses and lawmakers to help curb the spread of the virus. Carlson was among the supporters Tuesday night commending Tritt for being “willing to lose money” based on his stance.

“You are a credit to country music,” Carlson told Tritt, who appeared above a chyron reading, “Top Country Star Tackles Evil Coronavirus Mandates.”

But he’s fighting a losing battle:

Tritt’s dismissal of safety measures at venues comes as live music has returned to venues worldwide, with many buildings requiring vaccination, masking or other protocols to keep the industry from shutting down again. In the United States, artists such as the Foo Fighters and Bruce Springsteen have put on concerts and Broadway shows, respectively, in which audience members were required to show proof of vaccination. In the D.C. area, nearly every major concert venue is requiring proof of vaccination or negative test results, including outdoor ones.

Yes, that makes things tricky:

While many performers have abided by the venues’ protocols, some have vowed not to play at places with mandates.

Eric Clapton was one of the first major artists to rebuke a safety precaution being used for the return of live music when he announced over the summer that he would not perform at venues that require proof of coronavirus vaccination for people to attend. Clapton went back on that promise last month when he played a show at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. Following the city’s mandate, all staff and attendees older than 12 were required to show proof that they were at least partially vaccinated or had a negative coronavirus test taken in the past 72 hours. A review of the concert in the Times-Picayune noted how “the test result loophole apparently allowed Clapton to, in good conscience, perform at the Smoothie King Center.”

Eric Clapton found his loophole, but Tritt is another matter:

It is not the first time Tritt has attracted controversy. A two-time Grammy Award winner in the ‘90s, Tritt has made it a habit of blocking many on Twitter who support the Black Lives Matter movement and oppose former president Donald Trump, in an effort, he said, to slow down anti-conservative sentiment on the platform.

On Monday, Tritt doubled down on his previous comments regarding mandates and said in a statement posted to his website that “pushing Covid testing protocols on my fans will not be tolerated.” The artist told Billboard that he is “not against the vaccine” but is “against forcing people to take medicine that they may not need and may not want.”

“Any show I have booked that discriminates against concertgoers by requiring proof of vaccination, a Covid test, or a mask is being canceled immediately,” he said.

He may be putting himself out of business, except as a Fox News hero:

As his name has trended on Twitter for days, Tritt told Carlson that the move to play in venues without mandates was for the fans who “have been shut out from getting a chance to go see a concert for over a year.”

“They are being turned away for some unexplained reason,” Tritt said Tuesday night, “so this is not about following the science or trying to look out for the safety of the people there.”

This was the usual. There’s no science at all behind the vaccines. There’s some other unexplained reason. Maybe it’s George Soros. Or maybe he’s the one being a jerk here:

He found support among fans who believed Tritt was “standing against those who want to take away our freedom,” but some supporters and critics alike thought he had gone too far. A headline in Rolling Stone reads, “Thanks, Travis Tritt, for Accidentally Saving Lives with Your Dumb Covid Policy.” Some fans indicated they would never attend one of his shows, while others expressed their disappointment in Tritt.

“Love ya Travis, but am sad you refuse to be part of the solution to end this plague,” one fan tweeted. “I grew up in a household with parents and grandparents who were asked to do a lot more than this for the sake of their neighbors and the United States.”

Travis Tritt may have misread the zeitgeist, and Eric Clapton has a long history odd conspiracy rants and pure racist comments – mostly British White Nationalist stuff. But this issue is American. And there’s trouble at Fox News:

After battling Covid-19, Fox News host Neil Cavuto returned to the airwaves on Sunday, where he spoke in favor of vaccine mandates.

“I know it’s going to get me in trouble,” Cavuto told Fox News host Howard Kurtz. “I hear from a lot of people. I’ve gotten a lot of nasty emails. The same ones: you’re a never-Trumper, you’re this, we don’t trust you, we don’t believe a word you’re saying. And that’s just coming from my family.”

“But having said that, I just want to stress here this is not really about me,” he continued. “It’s not about people’s political positions on this. I get that. No one likes to be ordered to get a vaccine. But I can tell you right now, those who have been vaccinated are in a far better position right now to survive this and even handle cases where they come down with this. The numbers prove it.”

It seems that Fox’s Tucker Carlson fans have threatened to kill Fox’s Neil Cavuto and his family. He shrugged at that, because Fox News itself had done the right thing:

Cavuto went on to recommend that other organizations adopt the type of vaccine mandate that is in place at Fox News.

“Maybe there’s a call for a protocol much like the one that Fox has where you sort of share your vaccine status,” he explained. “If you choose not to get vaccinated, you get regular tests so that you are not a threat to spread this to the workforce.”

Safety matters more than freedom? Perhaps so:

The Fox News host also addressed people who oppose vaccine mandates.

“I get that,” he remarked. “I want to stress that I appreciate that. Look, I have a problem with people telling me what to do. Back in college, I had a problem with bouncers. That’s a separate story.”

“But for God’s sake, think of the bigger picture here,” Cavuto added. “Get outside yourself and think about those you work with, think about those around you. Think about just keeping them safe.”

“Would it kill you to at least look at those all around you?” he pleaded. “I get where you’re coming from on this idea of mandates but get a protocol down that satisfies this. So that we’re all safe.”

That’s the general idea:

Cavuto concluded by insisting that he does not feel unlucky despite his health problems.

“It does make me a changed person,” he said. “I don’t look at things through a political spectrum. Down to all my shows. I have no time for that. Life is too short to be an ass. Life is way too short to be ignorant of the promise of something that is helping people worldwide. Stop the deaths. Stop the suffering. Please, get vaccinated. Please.”

He’s gone. No doubt Tucker Carlson will ask Rupert Murdoch to fire him. Travis Tritt’s fans will insist. They’re that other America.

And that other America is Florida:

Florida’s top health official was asked to leave a meeting after refusing to wear a mask at the office of a state senator who told him she had a serious medical condition, officials have confirmed.

Florida Senate leader Wilton Simpson, a Republican, sent a memo to senators Saturday regarding the incident at the office of Democratic state Sen. Tina Polsky, asking visitors at the building to be respectful with social interactions. Polsky, who represents parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties, had not yet made public her breast cancer diagnosis.

Florida’s top health official didn’t give a shit:

Polsky told the Associated Press about the tense exchange with state Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo that was first reported by the news site Florida Politics. She said Ladapo and two aides were offered masks and asked to wear them when they arrived for the Wednesday meeting. She did not tell him she had breast cancer, but said she had a serious condition.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says cancer patients are at a higher risk to get severely ill from COVID-19 and may not build the same immunity to vaccines.

Florida’s top health official doesn’t believe that for a moment:

Ladapo had asked to meet her in Tallahassee as he seeks confirmation in the Senate after being named to the post by Gov. Ron DeSantis last month.

“It was so shocking to me that he treated me in this manner,” Polsky said. “If he is a surgeon general for the next several years, I am really concerned about a future public health emergency and not being able to rely on him for necessary guidance and proper scientific leadership.”

Ladapo offered to go outside, but the senator said she did not want to sit on the metal picnic tables on a warm day when her office was nice and spacious. She said she asked whether there was a reason why he couldn’t wear a mask, but he wouldn’t answer.

Perhaps he was putting her in her place. She can’t tell him what to do. He is, after all, Ron DeSantis’ man:

Democrats have opposed the appointment of Ladapo, criticizing him for comments and actions related to the pandemic.

A day into his job, Ladapo signed new rules allowing parents to decide whether their children should quarantine or stay in school after being exposed to people who tested positive for COVID-19.

On Thursday at a press conference with DeSantis to oppose vaccine mandates, Ladapo said people were not comfortable with the vaccines because the federal government has not been open about the effectiveness and safety of the vaccines, saying there was a “concerted effort” to hide stories of people with adverse reactions.

None of these vaccines were ever tested for anything, and they’re hiding how many people just drop dead after one jab in the arm, and quarantines are useless in controlling any infectious diseases. He’s DeSantis’ man:

Ladapo also wrote an opinion column in the Wall Street Journal saying masks have “little or no effect on respiratory virus transmission.”

All the research since the 1919 Spanish Flu epidemic that says otherwise is wrong, so it comes down to this:

In the memo sent by Simpson, the president of the Florida senate, he said that while there’s no mask mandate in the Senate, senators can request social distancing and masking within their offices.

“It shouldn’t take a cancer diagnosis for people to respect each other’s level of comfort with social interactions during a pandemic,” he said.

But her cancer is her problem, not his. Florida’s top health official says freedom is the only issue here, and all the science is wrong anyway.

And that led to this:

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Sunday he hopes to woo out-of-state police officers who oppose their states’ vaccine mandates with $5,000 bonuses, part of his broader attack on vaccine requirements, and positioning of himself as an emerging figure in national Republican politics.

He will be the new leader of that other America:

Florida is “actively working to recruit out-of-state law enforcement,” DeSantis said on Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures, claiming Covid-19 vaccine mandates are “unconstitutional.”

The governor said he is “going to hopefully sign” legislation that would give each police officer a $5,000 bonus if they relocate.

DeSantis said that bill would be introduced during an upcoming special session of the Florida legislature, which the governor called earlier this week in order to pass legislation that would ban private employers from imposing vaccine mandates.

Yes, his grammar is shaky. He is “going to hopefully sign” legislation? With hope in his heart? He meant he “hopes to sign” this legislation:

“NYPD, Minneapolis, Seattle: If you’re not being treated well, we’ll treat you better here, you can fill important needs for us, and we’ll compensate you as a result,” DeSantis said Sunday.

DeSantis said when announcing the special session he hoped it would take place in November, but Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls said in a memo to lawmakers after DeSantis’ announcement the governor has not yet proposed any specific dates.

In short, this was political bullshit, but something is up:

More than 20 states have implemented Covid-19 vaccine mandates for government workers like police officers, according to NPR, along with a number of major municipalities like Chicago.

A number of police unions nationwide have strongly opposed the mandates—and some have filed lawsuits in an attempt to block them – with more than 4,500 police officers in Chicago refusing the mandate and Massachusetts’ police union reporting at least 150 officers have resigned. The mass opposition to the mandates has sparked fears existing staffing shortages will become even worse as a result.

DeSantis’ plan to reward out-of-state officers and ban employer mandates comes after Florida has already enacted a “vaccine passport” ban. That bars private businesses, and educational institutions and local governments, from demanding proof of Covid-19 vaccination from customers or government employees.

Violating that law carries a fine of $5,000 per infractions and the state is investigating more than 100 potential offenders, already fining Leon County $3.57 million over its employee vaccine mandate.

And now imagine a police force everywhere in Florida, unvaccinated, refusing to wear masks, ever, anywhere, vowing to protect and serve, but spreading deadly disease as much as possible, because that’s your problem, not theirs. Freedom!

That’s the other America, as is this:

The president of a Pennsylvania school board says she has received violent anti-Semitic threats over the school district’s decision to impose a mask mandate amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Three parents of Pennsbury School District students filed a lawsuit last month over a mandate requiring students to wear masks in classrooms and on buses. Others have attended school board meetings in recent months to air their grievances about the school imposing restrictions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and about school teachings on racism and diversity.

In a Friday statement, Pennsbury School Board President Christine Toy-Dragoni said that she had recently received emails, social media messages and messages to her cell phone that threaten “every woman in my family with rape, every man in my family with significant injury,” in addition to threats to publish her personal information and to murder her.

This isn’t Florida. This is just outside Philadelphia:

“If all of this wasn’t disgusting enough, several e-mails my fellow board members have received are violently anti-Semitic,” Toy-Dragoni continued. “Many messages, including the threat of rape against my family members and me, were anti-immigrant. Other messages were horrifically transphobic.”

“Because of the grotesque and pervasive nature of these threats, my colleagues are rightfully fearful about speaking out publicly,” she added.

That was the whole idea, to shut them up:

Toy-Dragoni released censored screenshots of some of the messages alongside her statement. The threatening messages that included the phrases “Death to the Jew” and “Good men are waking up to the Jew sickness.” One message suggested she was “lucky” that these parents did not “kill you and your whole family.”

The board president indicated that she would be turning over uncensored versions of messages she had received to her local FBI office…

And that’s when this will turn interesting. Are death threats protected free speech? That depends on which America we al inhabit at the moment. And no one can agree on that at the moment. It’s time to state the obvious once again. This will not end well.

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That Voting Thing

This is how things end. One of our two political parties – and the United States really has only two – third parties die quicky or remain as quaint reminders of odd but now forgotten political eccentricities – now holds that elections don’t really work anymore, or can’t work anymore. Democracy doesn’t really work now. It can’t. There’s too much voter fraud. It’s everywhere. No one can trust the result of any election now, anywhere.

That’s the Republican position. They haven’t been able to prove that any such fraud exists. The Cyber Ninja Arizona audit of the 2020 presidential election there, in Maricopa County, was a bust. Biden gained votes. Trump lost votes. The Cyber Ninja team got out of there as fast as they could. The local armed Trump militias were angry – but then Trump said it didn’t matter. He said that the Cyber Ninja Arizona audit had raised questions, and demanded that the state’s 2020 Electoral College votes be awarded to him immediately, because he had really won the state. He must have won. There were those issues. No one knew what he was talking about, but his based played along. He had been cheated. He’s really the president. Biden isn’t.

That’s a minority view. Most Republicans in most states know there’s no going back. That eection is over. The next elections matter more, the 2022 midterms and the 2024 presidential election. And if no one can trust the result of any election now, anywhere, well, then maybe they can fix that. They can help. They’ll get rid of the fraud. They’ll make sure that only right sort of people will be able t vote, by shutting down easy or just convenient access to voting as much as possible. That’ll keep the riff-raff out. And new forms of voter-ID will do the same. Make that expensive and hard to obtain. That works. And most states with Republican legislature will follow Arizona’s lead and pass the key law that lets the state legislature overside the state’s popular vote for president for any reason or o reason at all and choose their own slates of Electors. That makes the state’s popular vote for president advisory. The people want the Democratic candidate? The vote is overwhelming? That’s interesting. So noted. And the state goes to the Republican.

Of course the Democrats are trying to stop all this. And of course they can’t. It’s those Senate rules:

Republicans on Wednesday blocked action for the third time this year on legislation to bolster voting rights, leaving Democrats few options to advance the bill outside of changing the Senate filibuster rule and passing it over G.O.P. opposition.

All 50 Democrats and independents supported bringing the Freedom to Vote Act to the floor, but all 50 Republicans voted against doing so, maintaining a stalemate over a proposal that Democrats say is needed to counter efforts in Republican-controlled states to impose new restrictions on voting in the aftermath of the 2020 elections.

And everyone knows what’s going on:

“These laws will make it harder for millions of Americans to participate in their government,” said Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader. “If there is anything worthy of the Senate’s attention, if there’s any issue that merits debate on this floor, it is protecting our democracy from the forces that are trying to unravel it from the inside out.”

Yes, this vote wasn’t a vote to tank the Freedom to Vote Act. No one was voting on this bill. This was a vote to open discussion of the Freedom to Vote Act, or at least discussion of the topic. That’s what the Republicans stopped cold:

The tie left Democrats at least 10 votes short of the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster, and there was little evidence that any Republicans could be brought on board. (Mr. Schumer switched his vote to “no” at the last moment, enabling him under Senate rules to move to reconsider the bill at some point in the future and putting the official tally at 49 to 51.)

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the minority leader, assailed the proposal put forward by Democrats on Wednesday, which was a compromise version of a broader voting rights measure that Republicans had blocked twice before.

“The same rotten core is all still there,” Mr. McConnell said of the new legislation. “As long as Senate Democrats remain fixated on their radical agenda, this body will continue to do the job the framers assigned it and stop terrible ideas in their tracks.”

So, what are these terrible radical ideas? Here they are:

The bill would set federal standards for early and mail-in voting and make Election Day a national holiday, among other provisions. It would also mandate that voters provide some form of identification before casting a ballot, a requirement that many Democrats had previously resisted, although it would be far less restrictive than similar measures that Republicans have imposed.

But that was an experiment. That senator from West Virginia, who had said whatever was done had to have Republicans buy into all the provisions of the bill or he’d block it too, convinced his party to let him write new bill that even Republicans would like. He’d get those ten votes! He promised. And his Republican best friends screwed him:

The compromise was struck to win the support of Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, the sole Democrat to oppose a more expansive voting rights bill passed by the House in August. Mr. Manchin has spent weeks trying to win Republican support for the pared-back version but was unsuccessful, giving Democrats hope that he might become more amenable to weakening the filibuster to advance a measure he helped write.

But he’s said he’d block any attempt by his party change the filibuster rules in any way. He will never change his mind on that! His colleagues hope he’s just preening:

In light of the vote, key Democrats said they would regroup and try again to persuade Mr. Manchin and other Senate Democrats reluctant to undermine the filibuster that an overhaul of the chamber’s signature procedural tactic was the only way to protect ballot access around the country.

“We will circle back with all of our colleagues to plead with them to make the changes necessary to pass this bill,” said Senator Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland.

This is not going well, and Vanity Fair’s Eric Lutz sees this:

Since the election, Republicans had been working relentlessly to translate Donald Trump’s addled lies into voter suppression laws, with an alarming degree of success. And what were the Democrats doing to stop them? Bickering with Joe Manchin over whether or not he could, as he claimed, get 10 GOP senators to back the kind of voter protections their party was dead-set on rolling back.

People were getting frustrated. So Biden, who was still in his honeymoon phase, set out to assure the base, condemn the Republicans’ underhanded game, and push his party to move on the issue.

“Time and again, we’ve weathered threats to the right to vote in free and fair elections,” Biden said in a July speech at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. “And each time, we found a way to overcome. And that’s what we must do today.”

Lutz is not impressed:

Democrats are still searching. Their latest effort, a compromise bill for which Manchin seemed to think he could get GOP support, was easily defeated Wednesday by the filibuster, which Mitch McConnell gleefully deployed with all the vainglory he could muster…

Where does that leave Democrats and others concerned about democracy? Who knows? The For the People Act and the reauthorization of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act aren’t going anywhere, thanks to the filibuster Manchin doesn’t want to change even a little and to the fact that all GOP lawmakers, including anti-Trump Republicans like Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, stand to reap political profit from the former president’s lies and support the suppressive laws that were borne of his bogus claims.

The same obstacles also stand in the way of the pared-down legislation Manchin preferred, as demonstrated Wednesday when Democrats couldn’t even win a vote to open up debate on the bill. What, exactly, are they supposed to do now, with only a year to go until the midterms?

Who knows, but forget Biden:

In that July speech, Biden described the Republican attack as the “most dangerous threat to voting and the integrity of free and fair elections in our history.” When I spoke to civil rights leaders the following month, they were sounding the alarm. “The sense of urgency, along with priority, needs to escalate,” said NAACP President Derrick Johnson, adding: “We cannot out-organize voter suppression.”

So far, the Biden administration’s response to the GOP assault on voting rights hasn’t matched the president’s urgent rhetoric. This isn’t to say the president has done nothing, or that the attention he’s devoted to other matters – infrastructure, the climate crisis, the pandemic – is unwarranted. But has the administration acted like this is the existential threat to democracy that they say it is? “He’s made clear that he supports voting reform, but that is simply not enough,” Johnson told Politico. “We need him to bring this over the finish line.”

Kevin Drum responds to that:

This is nuts. What do they expect Biden to do? Wave a magic wand?

There is not, and never has been, the slightest chance of passing this legislation. It doesn’t have the 60 votes to pass under regular order and it doesn’t have the 50 votes it would take to end the filibuster and pass it with Democratic votes alone. Like it or not, this is the simple reality.

It is – or should be- obvious that the urgency of a problem has little or nothing to do with the chances of doing anything about it. Climate change is Exhibit A. The Black-white test gap among high school students is Exhibit B. National healthcare is Exhibit C. I could go on forever, but why bother?

It’s time to deal with reality:

The Republican Party’s decades-long war against Black people because they tend to vote for Democrats is shameful, vile, and disgusting. The lengths they’re now willing to go to in the wake of Donald Trump’s lunatic lies is almost beyond belief. Every single member of the Republican Party should be ashamed of themselves for supporting a party that does this.

But they aren’t, and the plain reality is that there’s nothing Joe Biden can do about it. He’s got the bully pulpit, but that’s all. This legislation will never pass and never had any chance of passing.

But the concept here is quite simple. Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School and former president of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission, makes it quite simple:

Our democracy is based on the fundamental principle that all eligible citizens must have access to the ballot box and that each of those votes be given equal weight. A representative system of government lacks legitimacy if it fails to allow its citizens to pick who represents them. Why should we give any credence to the decisions of a president, a senator or a member of the House who got the job through a farcical election that blocked some from voting? Or, to put it another way: If our elected officials rigged the system and suppressed our votes to get or keep their gigs, why should we give them any authority?

And that really is the end of everything. This is absurd:

It’s a funny thing to be in the position of begging our elected officials to protect our ability to freely and fairly elect them. But we’re here because Republicans have proposed and passed a raft of restrictive voting laws in states throughout the country. These laws would make it harder to vote by measures such as implementing strict voter-identification requirements, reducing or eliminating early voting, making it harder to register to vote or to vote by mail, and moving polling places.

Republicans will claim that these laws are needed to prevent voter fraud. But let’s say it one or, if needed, 330 million more times for every person who lives in this country: There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in our elections.

Republicans also claim that the For the People Act represents federal overreach; never mind that history demonstrates why the federal government is needed to step in and secure the right to vote. Restrictive voting laws seek to solve the problem of Republicans’ losing elections; they are not designed to bolster the integrity of our elections.

It may be time to pay more attention to this:

There are so many deeply and immediately pressing issues facing our country. But for this moment, we must focus on the foundational one. By definition, the seed of our democracy is the right to vote. The right to vote is the right that leads to everything else we care about: a strong economy, an end to the pandemic, accessible health care and superior education.

And maybe Sleepy Joe does get it:

President Joe Biden cast the fight for voting rights in sweeping terms Thursday after the Senate failed to advance a bill on the matter this week, casting blame on Republicans for stymieing the effort in the Senate.

During an event commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial, Biden said, “We now face an inflection point in the battle, literally, for the soul of America” over voting rights, specifically calling out former President Donald Trump’s efforts to subvert democracy.

Okay. He gets it:

“Today, the right to vote and the rule of law are under unrelenting assault from Republican governors, attorneys general, secretaries of state, state legislators, and they’re following my predecessor, the last president, into a deep, deep black hole and abyss,” Biden said in lengthy remarks at the MLK memorial at Washington D.C.’s Tidal Basin.

“This struggle is no longer over who gets to vote, and make it easier for eligible people to vote. It’s about who gets to count the votes, whether they should count at all,” he said, railing against a “sinister combination of voter suppression and election subversion.”

The remarks come as the White House is expected to ramp up Biden and Harris’ public engagement on the matter following the failed legislative efforts, with advocates calling on the administration to do more.

But what can they do? The problem is on the other side. Vanity Fair’s Bess Levin sees this:

After Republicans lost the White House and Senate in 2020, a reasonable thing for them to have done would have been to get together and determine what it is about them that turns off voters, and figure out how to change before the next midterm and presidential elections. In practice this actually would not have been a hugely difficult thing to accomplish, given that, just off the top of our heads, we can come up with a whole bunch of stuff people dislike about the GOP, from the racism to the rejection of science, to the embrace of a guy who tried to overthrow the federal government, to Ted Cruz.

Instead of looking inward, though, Republicans chose a different tack: disenfranchising millions of voters, and knocking democracy unconscious before burying it in a shallow grave.

Mission accomplished:

That effort has been accomplished on both the state and national level. When it comes to the former, at least 19 states across the country have passed laws this year restricting voting rights, according to a recent tally by the Brennan Center for Justice.

In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott signed S.B. 1 into law last month, which, among other things, bans overnight early voting and drive-through voting, both of which were popular options among voters of color in 2020.

In Iowa, it is now a criminal offense for election officials to obstruct a partisan poll-watcher’s “activities” according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

In Florida, lawmakers have placed new restrictions on ballot drop boxes and added new I.D. requirements for mail-in voting. I

n Arkansas, S.B. 644 lets the State Board of Election Commissioners decertify local election officials or take over local elections based on any violations, including inadvertent ones, that they deem “severe” enough, the Brennan Center said.

In Georgia, a recently enacted law allows a single person to challenge the eligibility of individual voters. Georgia has also made it a crime to give food or water to people waiting to vote in line, no doubt taking advantage of the fact that lines for communities of color are notoriously long in that state.

And then there’s Congress:

In response to these laws, elected officials not in favor of fascism have urged Congress to strengthen voting rights. And we’ll give you two guesses as to which party has repeatedly refused to do so, but you’ll only need one!

And that’s that. And if elections don’t really work anymore, or can’t work anymore. And if democracy doesn’t really work now. It can’t. Then what? Then the Republicans can just drop all the rigged election stuff. Cut to the chase. Just name Donald Trump president for life and make the office hereditary. Dissolve Congress. It’s useless anyway. Simply let Donald Trump write the laws, All of them. And shut down the Supreme Court too. Donald Trump can decide what’s constitutional,

That’s where this is headed. That the 2024 Republican platform. Was this going to end any other way?

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