Friday Homestead Dispatch

Charismatic Idiopathic Winklepickers

I recently read The Cold Millions by Jess Walter, a historical novel that focuses on the Free Speech Fight in Spokane, Washington, in 1909. Many of the characters are taken from history but the story is fiction. I highly recommend it.

“Look,” Early said, “in case the first possibility is true, let’s not talk about her at all. Let’s say,” he stuck out his bottom lip, “there’s a castle. And a king is in the castle. And he’s an ass, because, well, kings are asses. Takes too much in tribute. The other knights and noblemen hate him. They say, This fella is getting rich off our fields and the tribute we get from the peasants. They scheme and plot and one day they slit his throat. Replace him with a new king. But pretty soon the noblemen say, Well, goddamn, the new king is as shitty as the last greedy son of a bitch. So they whack his head off, too, and put in a new greedy king. Kings killing kings. You know what that’s called?”

Rye shook his head.

“Shakespeare,” Early said. “Now let’s say you’re on the other side of the moat, and you got these peasants watching one rich king bump off another rich king, thinking, Wait, this ain’t changing anything.” He gestured at Gurley. “They gather behind some charming rebel who leads the peasants in revolt, and they behead all the shitty knights and princes and noblemen.”

Rye just shrugged.

“Here is my point–the peasants own the castle now, and they become the greedy sons of bitches. It’s all the same. What I’m saying is maybe the king ain’t the problem, Maybe what it is”–Early took another pull from the flask–“is time to blow up the whole goddamn castle.”

Tuesday evening, every single Republican voted to kill the For the People Act, even using the filibuster to kill a debate about it on the floor. This historic legislation is meant to make it easier to vote in federal elections, end congressional gerrymandering, overhaul federal campaign finance laws, increase safeguards against foreign interference, strengthen government ethics rules, and more. Sounds like a fair plan to aid in striking down voter suppression laws being enacted by Republican-dominated legislatures across the country, no?

As Heather Cox Richardson reports, “According to the nonpartisan Voting Rights Lab, 18 states have put in place more than 30 laws restricting access to the ballot. These laws will affect around 36 million people, or about 15% of all eligible voters. In Georgia, a new law means that county election boards will no longer be bipartisan but will be appointed by Republicans; other states are similarly stripping power from Democrats to put Republicans in charge.”

This is Mitch McConnell and his colleagues saying in public that they are worried that federal protection of voting rights is “federal overreach” but what they are really saying is if more people were able to easily vote, Republicans would be out on their asses looking for jobs at Chipotle.

Richardson goes on to say that Republicans are defending the same principle that Senator Stephen A. Douglas advanced when he debated Senate candidate Abraham Lincoln in Illinois in 1858.

Douglas said, “I hold that this Government was made on the white basis, by white men, for the benefit of white men and their posterity forever, and should be administered by white men and none others,” he said. Claiming that he, not Lincoln, was “in favor of preserving this Government as our fathers made it,” he told an audience in Jonesboro, Illinois, “we ought to extend to the negro every right, every privilege, every immunity which he is capable of enjoying, consistent with the good of society. When you ask me what these rights are, what their nature and extent is, I tell you that that is a question which each State of this Union must decide for itself.” His own state of Illinois, he pointed out, rejected Black enslavement, “but we have also decided that… that he shall not vote, hold office, or exercise any political rights. I maintain that Illinois, as a sovereign State, has a right thus to fix her policy….”

Richardson goes on to say, “I found it chilling to hear Douglas’s argument from 1858 echo in the Senate today, for after seeing exactly how his argument enabled white southern legislators to cut their Black neighbors out of the vote in the 1870s and then pass Jim Crow laws that lasted for more than 70 years, our lawmakers should know better.”

This now opens the doors for mostly Republican controlled states to enact even more harsher voter restriction laws. The New York Times reported that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is calling for a special session to do just this. “The initial voting bill, known as S.B. 7, contained new restrictions on absentee voting; granted broad new autonomy and authority to partisan poll watchers; escalated punishments for mistakes or offenses by election officials; and banned both drive-through voting and 24-hour voting, which were used for the first time during the 2020 election in Harris County, home to Houston and a growing number of the state’s Democratic voters.” (Also keep on eye out on the nasty orange man’s June 30th visit to the border at the invitation of Abbott...peeeuuuuuu)

…which leads to the premise that bipartisanship just does not seem possible in our current political climate, and that eliminating the legislative filibuster may be the only path to getting progressive legislation passed. And you can’t discuss getting shit done without bringing up our own Republican-Democrat Kyrsten Sinema (of Arizona) and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. They have both declared that they will not vote to do away with the filibuster, which basically means when the Republicans take over in 2022 (No!), they will have the right to do away with the filibuster when the Democrats need it.

Lee Papa (as the Rude Pundit) lays out his case in his post from last Wednesday: “Manchin and Sinema made explicit promises about what they wanted to do while in office. And the only people who are preventing them from fulfilling those promises are Manchin and Sinema. They will need to go home and explain why an anti-majoritarian Senate rule is more important than jobs, safe drinking water, bridges that don't break, and decent health care, especially for seniors and veterans.”

…which leads to the Critical Race Theory issue, because it’s so scary and anti-American to discuss IDEAS. The core idea is that racism is a social construct, and that it is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies. And even the thought of discussing the merits of the theory gets people like face-punchable and child sex trafficker Matt Gaetz’s panties all bunched up. During the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley’s testimony on the 2022 National Defense Authorization Budget Request, he had the opportunity to respond to Gaetz saying, "I've read Mao Tse-tung. I've read Karl Marx. I've read Lenin. That doesn't make me a communist.”

Check out the entire takedown here as Gaetz disrespects his elders:

Since March, Fox Snooze has mentioned 'critical race theory' nearly 1300 times, which makes it more of a propaganda tool than an actual problem. An article in Salon yesterday claims that the whole issue is a GOP distraction. “None of which is to say that the people acting like boobs on camera or getting arrested aren't, in fact, workaday Fox News junkies instead of paid operatives. They mostly are. Just like Donald Trump winding up the Capitol insurrectionists, most of the puppeteers here work by getting people wound up and then stepping back to let the yokels get arrested or otherwise embarrass themselves. Activists get the ordinary conservatives worked up this way by exploiting the widespread jealousy and resentment of liberals that fuels the modern American right.”

In Monday’s post I mentioned nine states where it will be important to turn the tide to blue in the Senate in 2022. Two others involve the House of Representatives and will be just as important. They are crazy-ass QAnon conspiracy theorist Marjorie Taylor Greene from Georgia and Colorado’s looney-toon and Nazi-lover Lauren Boebert. There’s an article in Denver’s Westworld about who’s running against Boebert and here’s some info on Greene from the Business Insider. In the article it states that the Atlanta outlet 11 Alive reported that a dozen Democrats are already planning to run in Greene's district in 2022 but in this ultraconservative corner of Georgia, the best bet of removing Greene from office will most likely come from within her party. We can hope for small miracles.

POLITICS, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage. – Ambrose Bierce, Devil’s Dictionary

And, in case you need a fix of some Cambodian dance craze movie footage from the 1960s, here you are courtesy of my pal Michael P…

And now, on your marx…