Sunday, March 21, 2021

Today's Republican Party: Guns, Germs, and Steal

The Spy's Report from Washington

By Nellie Bly
Spy Washington Bureau with Gus McCrae in Texas

Having had nothing useful to contribute to President Biden's $1,900,000,000,000 pandemic relief package, the Republicans, not surprisingly, are casting about for crowd-pleasing issues. The crowd they're trying to please are the usual deplorable basket of white supremacists, wackos, gun nuts, and religious extremists.  

In other words, their base.

Their platform could be more or less summed up in three words: guns, germs, and steal.

As for guns, in the wake of the appalling hate-based massacre in Atlanta, in which a white supremacist hate-addled religious extremist (sound familiar) targeted mainly Asian-American victims with a gun he had bought in an instant the day before, surely to protect himself from government overreach.  Slate pointed out that in Georgia you have to wait for an abortion, but not for a handgun.  That's the “pro-life” position.

We're not going to use his real name because the killer doesn't deserve even infamy, but let's just say that Jefferson Beauregard Incel was a slaughter waiting to happen.

Why is an unending parade of unbalanced bigoted inbred white male losers able to buy high powered munitions (often assault weapons capable of inflicting even more damage than the ordinary handgun)?

If you listened to old white man and veteran Conventional Wisdom dispenser Dan Balz, it would be a puzzlement.  On Washington Week, he did note that in the aftermath of past massacres of innocents, Democrats had proposed various effective gun safety measures.  He then said that “nothing happened,” as if the two Houses of Congress were paralyzed by Dr. Rand Paul's Amazing Aqua Buddha Death Ray.

It's not that Congress is suffering a mysterious palsy; it's that Republicans have relentlessly blocked any gun safety measures in the aftermath of every appalling mass shooting, including the 26 children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Guess which of these four journalists spouted clueless s***?

Remember Moscow Mitch's reaction to that outrage?  If not, we'll refresh your recollection, with the assistance of The New York Times:

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, announced Monday that he would join at least 13 other Republicans who have vowed to block consideration of gun legislation passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee and assembled by the Democratic leadership. That effectively made the threatened filibuster a test of Republican unity.

Mr. McConnell made his announcement as the Senate returned from recess and the legislative struggle over new gun safety legislation entered a critical phase. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, took steps to force a vote to start a broad review of gun-control proposals and accused those threatening a filibuster of “blatant obstruction,” even as they showed no signs of backing down.

“Shame on them,” said Mr. Reid, a Democrat. . . .

Mr. Obama . . . . pushed for a broad agenda that would include universal background checks for gun buyers, restraints on gun trafficking and a ban on assault weapons. But he focused on the background checks, which he said were supported by 90 percent of Americans. “. . . .[H]e said that at the very least, Newtown and similar tragedies demanded a vote in Congress on gun control issues.

“If our democracy’s working the way it’s supposed to and 90 percent of the American people agree on something, in the wake of a tragedy, you’d think this would not be a heavy lift,” Mr. Obama said. “And yet some folks back in Washington are already floating the idea that they may use political stunts to prevent votes on any of these reforms. Think about that.

“They’re not just saying they’ll vote no on ideas that almost all Americans support,” he said. “They’re saying they’ll do everything they can to even prevent any votes on these provisions. They’re saying your opinion doesn’t matter, and that’s not right.” . . .

“We have to believe that every once in a while we set politics aside, and just do what’s right,” Mr. Obama said. 

On that one, count us as an atheist.  Perhaps this successful record of blocking any effort to reduce America's gruesome and unique toll of gun carnage helps explain why Moscow Mitch has stuck his head out of his shell to protect the God-given right of filibuster.

Then there's germs, although you would think that a party whose cowardice and dereliction of duty contributed to the appalling toll of over 530,000 dead Americans, most of whose deaths could have been prevented by adopting sound public health practices like those used in Canada and Japan would be inclined not to dilate on the topic of infectious disease control.

Instead of supporting obvious public health measures like mask mandates and limits on indoor dining and drinking, Republicans have instead focused on what they see as the real health threat: Americans of Asian descent and immigrants.

Last week, the year-long Republican demonizing of China because the first cases of COVID-19 were reported there, and the 200 years of anti-Asian bigotry had their easily predictable result described above: the slaughter of eight innocents, including six of Asian descent, in and around Atlanta.

Let's also note that when Congress held a hearing to investigate anti-AAPI bigotry and the pain and suffering it has inflicted, one especially notorious Qpublican goon, Virginia-born Chip Goy [Surely, Roy? – Ed.] (Q - TX) took the floor not to condemn anti-Asian bigotry but to malign those calling it out and demanding it cease, while endorsing lynching as a remedy for – it wasn't clear exactly what, but just on general principles.

The second supposed lethal carrier of pandemic is, wait for it, immigrants, who according to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (Q) are vectors of COVID-19, just waiting to infect the healthy white buckaroos of his state, and also their cattle. 

There's only one flaw with this jalapeno-hot take, other than its obvious bigotry and intent to distract Texans from Abbott's utter failure to protect them from or prevent future instances of the collapse of the state's electric grid because it got cold in winter.

The problem:


To quote political commentator Emily Litella, “That's different, then.” Don't expect Republicans to follow up with Emily's conclusion: “Never mind.” When it comes to QOP fomenting of hate and bigotry, it's always time for a Chip Roy Texas necktie party.

Lest you think that lying about the true incidence of COVID-19 is limited to Texans left out too long in the hot sun, let's check out long-running national joke Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis (Q) is, um, lying about the true incidence of COVID-19:

It also became clear that not only was Florida not taking any responsibility for tourists who came there, shared coronavirus on the beach, and returned home to deliver their virus souvenir to family and friends, it wasn't counting the people who died in Florida if they were from out of state. That didn't just include those who dropped in for a few weeks, it included "snowbirds" who spend a good part of the year at Florida homes. People who lived in Florida, got sick in Florida, and died in Florida did not show up on Florida's dashboard unless they were also official residents of Florida—and even then, the odds that they might have been left off seem high. . . .

The truth about Florida is … we don't know the truth about Florida. We do know that DeSantis has behaved recklessly and irresponsibly, that he has defied medical advice, used authoritarian tactics to hide information, and sold vaccine access to the highest bidder while denying vaccine to communities of color.  

Which brings us to the holiest of the Republican Trinity: steal.  Elections, that is.  Republicans have absorbed from their 2020 electoral shellackings not that they need to sharpen their case to the voters.  Rather, they have (correctly) concluded that they cannot possibly win future elections by adhering to the extreme positions, some just mentioned, demanded by their insurrectionist racist base.  The only alternative to winning elections, they know, is stealing them, by keeping non-Qpublican voters from the polls.

That's why the hard-right fundraising machine is shaking the money tree not by trotting out the specter of Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, or other favorite boogeypersons, but by scaring the faithful with a simple truth: unless Republicans change the law to suppress voting, they'll never return to power.

As Jeremy Peters of The New York Times put it, only a touch more elegantly:

Hey, it worked great before     
Passing new restrictions on voting — in particular, tougher limits on early voting and vote-by-mail — is now at the heart of the right’s strategy to keep donors and voters engaged as Mr. Trump fades from public view and leaves a void in the Republican Party that no other figure or issue has filled. In recent weeks, many of the most prominent and well-organized groups that power the G.O.P.’s vast voter turnout efforts have directed their resources toward a campaign to restrict when and how people can vote, with a focus on the emergency policies that states enacted last year to make casting a ballot during a pandemic easier. The groups believe it could be their best shot at regaining a purchase on power in Washington. . . .

Several Republican strategists said that while the “stolen” election canard was accepted widely among rank-and-file Republican voters, they were surprised to find how deeply it had taken hold with major donors, who seem the most convinced of its truth and eager to act.

Two quick points:

1.  Best, meaning only.  

2.  Canard is a fifty-cent Times word for lie.

It will be recalled that white racists then doing business as the Democratic Party kept their vise-like grip on power in the old Confederacy by establishing a wall of racist laws to prevent Blacks from voting.  It worked from 1876 to 1965.  Now white racists vote Republican, and their Lost Cause, as it turns out, isn't Dixie, it's a panoply of voter suppression initiatives, including the return of the infamous Literacy Test.

All of these problems have legislative solutions, including gun safety and immigration reforms, and Federal protection of voters' rights.  By amazing coincidence, the bar to the passage of all of this legislation is the party of guns, germs, and steal: Republicans.  Not because they command a majority, but because they can rely on the so-called filibuster to block legislation that doesn't have 60 yes votes in Senate.  As noted above, that's what happened after the slaughters of children in Sandy Hook and Parkland.

Why should a racist anti-democratic minority be allowed to hold on to power by fanning the flames of bigotry and undermining democracy?  

It's a good question. Perhaps someday the Democratic Party will demand an answer.

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