Tag Archives: Conservatism

The GOP on transgender rights: ‘They’ve chosen a war they can actually win’

Republicans insist on home rule unless they think besieged minorities are getting uppity. Behold the Florida House:

Florida’s House bill is similar to legislation passed in Idaho, which was quickly challenged in federal court and is now on hold after a judge ruled the state cannot ban transgender students from sports teams. Similar bans have been signed into law by Republican governors in Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee. Lawmakers are debating them in dozens of other states.

The Senate version would allow transgender athletes to join girls’ or women’s teams if their testosterone levels are below a certain limit for a year before they begin competition.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Kaylee Tuck, R-Lake Placid, denied that the bill would ban transgender girls from playing. She argued that the bill “does not even mention the transgender language” and repeatedly referred to transgender girls using an anti-trans slur: “biological males.”

Having discarded with the relief of the morally constipated the fiction of believing in “fiscal conservatism” when Donald Trump raided the public larder, Republicans can turn their attention to what animates them: wanton cruelty to American citizens they can caricature. The attitude is not new. Writing during the Clinton impeachment about a political press whose nepotism and venality didn’t prevent them from affecting an unearned sanctimony, Greil Marcus remarked, “The secret weapon was that some belong in the United States, and some people don’t; that some are worthy, and some are worthless; that certain ideas and opinions are sanctified, and some are evil.”

No GOP legislator can point to a case where the boogeyman of a rapist preys on girls in bathrooms by pretending to be trans. “Perhaps they believe that, in picking a fight with children, they’ve chosen a war they can actually win,” Adam Serwer writes.

Conflicts between civil rights and religious freedom can certainly present thorny legal dilemmas, but most of what I’m describing here involves Republicans consciously choosing not to leave people alone. There was no threat to life or liberty that demanded same-sex-marriage bans, Sharia bans, or draconian state-level immigration laws. They embraced these causes because they believed that picking on these particular groups of people was good politics, because of their supporters’ animus toward them, and because they believed that their targets lacked the votes or political allies to properly fight back.

He refers to the attacks on trans Americans taking place in state after state with Republicans in the governor’s seat and majorities in legislatures. Thanks to ghouls like Samuel Alito, “religious freedom,” a concept as foreign to the Constitution as “liberty of contract,” has turned into a considerable weapon.

Finally, the human cost. To be queer is to dislike oxygen because it tastes like fear; to be queer is to dwell in a world where relatives and friends know its language and have learned its habits without sharing either with you. Transgender adolescents deal with an additional layer of disruption. “The capacity to invoke fear, whether of gods or humans, is all about power: who can act coercively, who can control thoughts and behaviors,” Ashon Crawley writes this week in a marvelous piece about the impact of Lil Nas X’s “Montero” video on her. It’s as if conservative legislators had indeed watched the video, and felt afraid themselves: their assumptions, appeals to an old order, and perhaps their own suppressed desires stirred by forces they can stifle with pieces of paper signed by governors.

The GOP hates queer people, pt. 32426

Behold what John Roberts and His Furious Five, particularly Samuel Alito, have wrought: legislation in Arkansas awaiting the governor’s signature which will allow health care providers to cite “religious liberty” as an excuse to deny treatment.

Opponents have said types of health care that could be cut off include maintaining hormone treatments for transgender patients needing in-patient care for an infection, or grief counseling for a same-sex couple. They’ve also said it could also be used to refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control, or by physicians assistants to override patient directives on end of life care

“There is no sugarcoating this: this bill is another brazen attempt to make it easier to discriminate against people and deny Arkansans the health care services they need,” ACLU of Arkansas Executive Director Holly Dickson said in a statement. The ACLU did not say whether it planned any legal action to try and block the law before it takes effect.

The law is among several measures targeting transgender people that have easily advanced through the majority-Republican Legislature this year. Hutchinson on Thursday signed a law that will prohibit transgender women and girls from playing on sports teams consistent with their gender identity.

Transgender Americans are not citizens to the GOP. They’re not even people. Consider this: in most states the police can arrest you for denying an animal medical care.

‘We got beat on this one’


None of the attack lines seemed to resonate with voters, who began receiving stimulus checks as early as last weekend and appear overwhelmingly supportive of the law. A CBS-YouGov survey released on Sunday showed 71 percent of adults believe the American Rescue Plan will benefit the middle class more than wealthy Americans. The bill’s passage coincides with an uptick in vaccinations and recognition from Democrats and allied teachers unions that schools need to reopen soon — which together have the potential for improving the electoral landscape for Democrats as they try to keep both chambers of the Congress.

That’s left the GOP with little left to do but bank on the possibility that voters will, over time, simply forget the ways in which the law impacted them.

“I think once the sugar high of the stimulus checks wears off — as much as they are needed and are important — the bill is going to sink itself over time, if it’s remembered at all,” said another Senate GOP aide. “It’s at the peak of its popularity right now and the more it becomes unpopular we’ll pound against them,” added another.

Inside the White House, the absence of a sustained GOP pushback to the bill did not come as a particular shock.

Aides had long felt that Biden had the upper hand and that Trump had tied his own party in political knots. The former president had pushed for Congress to pass $2,000 direct checks in December and blasted Republican leaders, like then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, when they declined to include them in a relief package. He had also added trillions of dollars to the deficit through a mix of tax breaks to the wealthy and Covid-related legislation with little pushback from his party. What credible argument could Republicans attempt to put forward that would resonate with Americans and enough Democrats to block the package, Biden aides wondered.

Hoping the bill gets unpopular is like hoping Ronald Reagan got dropped off at Capitol Hill. The bill will not get unpopular. Last night I got my stimulus check deposited in my account; I plan to stimulate the economy by paying for long-delayed home repairs. Meanwhile the Tallahassee Lickspittle, after telling predecessor and rival Rick Scott to shove it, has no qualms about accepting COVID relief dough so long as he crow about Fiscal Responsibility:

DeSantis on Tuesday outlined $4.1 billion in spending he has proposed to House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Senate President Wilton Simpson for the current and next fiscal years. Money also would go toward issues such as boosting state tourism marketing efforts and bringing in new recruits to the Florida National Guard. “We are certain that appropriations are eligible to be made to deliver meaningful relief to Floridians and businesses and to protect the state’s fiscal health,” DeSantis wrote to the legislative leaders. “Florida’s fiscal outlook has improved from the worst-case projections during the pandemic.”

No doubt he will take credit for responsible stewardship during his 2022 reelection campaign and inevitable presidential run two years later. He must understand that, although he’ll try, he can’t denounce the Biden administration’s wantonness without covering himself in drool.

The buncombe of ‘bipartisanship’

For certain bluebloods in the Beltway commentariat, a government should be as coherent, organized, and commonsensical as a Sunday column. Hence the appeal of bipartisanship. W.H. Auden, as we say, had their number. “A society which was really like a good poem, embodying the aesthetic virtues of beauty, order, economy and subordination of detail to the whole, would be a nightmare of horror,” he wrote, “for…such a society could only come into being through selective breeding, extermination of the physically and mentally unfit, absolute obedience to its Director, and a large slave kept out of sight in cellars.” More dangerous than ablutions for the sake of a false god, more toxic than a pathogen, bipartisanship exerts an influence on feeble minds who may not realize how it results in a paralysis that in turn produces the cynicism that rewards the GOP in midterm elections. If both parties suck, better to reward the party that didn’t play by the rules. Continue reading

On the extinction of poisonous reptiles: Rush Limbaugh

A depraved toad, a loathsome creature who with Newt Gingrich is responsible for the tenor of political conversations since Poppy Bush sat in the Oval Office, Rush Limbaugh has expired from advanced lung cancer. He called Barack Obama “Barack the Magic Negro.” To legalize gay marriage, he said, was akin to “normalizing” pedophilia. He implied Parkinson’s survivor Michael J. Fox got off meds for political purposes, which makes sense as a gesture of self-loathing akin to being homophobic: he admitted he was an abuser of prescription drugs for political purposes, after all.

For Limbaugh — I refuse to dignify him with the nickname — people didn’t exist except as targets or allies; if he had gay relatives or knew any sort of woman, his charlatanism looked more evil. More than Roy Cohn, he was a menace because he didn’t use innuendo and legitimated cruelty toward non-Republicans. As a friend on a message board wrote once, he was more of a nihilist than the punks could ever have been.

Now we’ll see if the non-conservative Beltway media will applaud him because it’s too cowardly to acknowledge the boot he pressed against their necks.

Objective political reporting ‘has failed’

I respect Marty Baron from his tenures as editor of the Boston Globe and Miami Herald, and The Washington Post has fewer Maggie Habermans on its staff than the New York Times, but I cringed reading his Trump post-mortem with Der Spiegel, in which, after a previous Republican administration’s perfidy in rousing the American public to war with Iraq, Baron insists he had an obligation to take a president at his word. Not just any president but Donald J. Trump, whose life in the public eye is a grotesque accumulation of grift, charlatanism, and racism. This was no non-entity, no Warren G. Harding or James Garfield. Continue reading

The Senate: ‘a graveyard of liberal legislation’

Swatting away Mitch McConnell’s bad faith and worse history, Jamelle Bouie schools NYT readers on the filibuster: “an extra-constitutional innovation that lay dormant for a generation after its unintentional creation during the Jefferson administration.” The Senate was supposed to a less efficacious chamber, not a chamber that grinds to a halt. The Constitution contains not one syllable addressing a fifty-nine-vote requirement. Indeed, after that fascinating rapscallion Aaron Burr stumbled upon its existence, it went dormant for decades until, well, you know: Continue reading

‘Until democracy breaks them, they’ll continue to break democracy’

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

“By 2040, roughly 70 percent of Americans will live in 15 states with 30 senators, while the other 30 percent, who are whiter, older, and more rural than the country as a whole, will elect 70 senators,” Ari Berman writes in an edifying article for Mother Jones, a continuation his sterling work covering the suppression of American voting rights. Because Democrats flipped not one state legislature in 2020, the GOP will draw the maps in states without independent commissions or divided government. Berman:

This new push to limit voting rights isn’t just anti-majoritarian; it’s explicitly designed to protect white political power. The Trump campaign—backed by a majority of House Republicans who voted to reject the Electoral College results in Arizona and Pennsylvania even after insurrectionists stormed the Capitol—specifically tried to throw out votes in heavily Black cities like Atlanta, Detroit, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia. “Detroit and Philadelphia—known as two of the most corrupt political places anywhere in our country, easily—cannot be responsible for engineering the outcome of a presidential race,” Trump said two days after the election. The GOP long pursued this goal more subtly by attacking laws like the Voting Rights Act through high-minded legal arguments, but Trump and his allies started saying the quiet part out loud. Now Republicans will try to achieve with legislation what they couldn’t with litigation.

Executive enforcement of the Voting Rights Act would mitigate some of the damage, Berman writes, but nothing stings like the knowledge of what might’ve been. For millions of Democratic voters, redistricting isn’t sexy enough of an issue (many voters only understood the peril of a rightist ascendancy on the Supreme Court when Ruth Bader Ginsberg succumbed last September). To the Republicans, who run on grievance and cruelty, any chance to snatch power is a fire bell in the night.

“Where’s the traitors?”

Just another day at an improvised insurrection, nothing to see here. Luke Mogelson:

“You are traitors to the country!” a man barked at the police through a megaphone plastered with stickers from “InfoWars,” the incendiary Web program hosted by the right-wing conspiracist Alex Jones. Behind the man stood Biggs, the Proud Boys leader. He wore a radio clipped onto the breast pocket of his plaid flannel shirt. Not far away, I spotted a “straight pride” flag.

There wasn’t nearly enough law enforcement to fend off the mob, which pelted the officers with cans and bottles. One man angrily invoked the pandemic lockdown: “Why can’t I work? Where’s my ‘pursuit of happiness’?” Many people were equipped with flak jackets, helmets, gas masks, and tactical apparel. Guns were prohibited for the protest, but a man in a cowboy hat, posing for a photograph, lifted his jacket to reveal a revolver tucked into his waistband. Other Trump supporters had Tasers, baseball bats, and truncheons. I saw one man holding a coiled noose.

“Hang Mike Pence!” people yelled.

The absurd meets the dangerous. Continue reading

‘We had your back, now you need to have ours’

Rarely do I post accounts as long as Terry Bouton’s, but the historian confirms much of what we have seen reported about the afternoon Trump fans transformed into insurrectionists last week, including the calls to violence that weren’t hyperbolic ventilations. I nabbed his recollections from a Facebook group of which I’m a member. Continue reading

‘Making fun of liberals together, we bonded over that a lot’

As the bells tolled on a new year, I found the source of a void in my life: I haven’t written about the Plankton with a Hairpiece in months, if not a full calendar year. The senior senator from Florida (the state with the prettiest name!) has done little to distinguish himself while the pandemic raged; the tergiversations required as a Republican in the Age of Trump have taxed his feeble political acumen. (Rick Scott, junior senator and sadist, has shown no such hesitation). Continue reading