Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
I was out of commish for a few days, but I did make note of these tidbits before ducking out:
• Nice to be able to start with a positive thing: The Pulitzer Prize board gave a special award to the teen who recorded the George Floyd arrest and murder from start to finish. Darnella Frazier is now a Pulitzer-winning videographer at the age of eighteen.
• Not a single Republican senator voted to advance the Paycheck Fairness Act last Wednesday, which was aimed at closing the gender gap in wages. Those ten good Republicans Joe Manchin keeps looking for must have sprung spontaneously from the brow of Herbert Hoover, the way they appear to have no women in their worlds. It would have helped if Kirsten Gillibrand had shown up for the vote. It went down 49-50, meaning that the GOP successfully filibustered another Democratic initiative.
• A bipartisan group of ten senators claim to have come up with an infrastructure agreement. I’ll believe it when I see it passed. I’m betting it won’t get 60 votes, and some (Joe Manchin) will resist the reconciliation process that would require only 51.
• The Justice Department, under AG Jeff Beauregard Sessions, subpoenaed the phone records of Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from Apple, trying to expose leakers of classified information. We probably shouldn’t be surprised. Trump regarded the Justice Department as a blunt instrument for attacking his opposition.
• The Oregon state House has expelled a Republican member who helped right-wing protestors storm the capitol building last December. I’m sure the guy’s now considered a martyr in some circles.
• A lot of anti-vaccine types are claiming that getting vaccinated makes people magnetic. Keys and cutlery will stick to your forehead, they say. It’s almost laughable.
Almost. It would be laughable if it weren’t so dangerous. At the moment, I’m reading Anne Applebaum’s Twilight of Democracy, and though I’m only a couple of chapters in, it’s clear that what happened in Poland and Hungary a few years ago is in full bloom here now. And part of the process is the floating—and acceptance by large groups of people—of outlandish conspiracy theories used as loyalty tests.
It can’t be that people actually believe the magnetism tale. It’s so provably false. But it’s the kind of thing that the autocratically inclined can use to signal each other and mock the opposition with. Appearing to believe in it shows dedication to the cause. It also distracts from more nefarious things going on behind the scenes—such as a Koch brother buying Joe Manchin’s stubbornness? If the rest of us look at the Trumpians and see a bunch of idiots, maybe they’re not taken seriously as a political power base. They might seem crazy but harmless, but you only need to look at what the GOP is doing in the red state houses to see that their power is real and will have lasting if not permanent effects. Extreme voter suppression. The effective banning of abortion. A requirement to make funeral arrangements for miscarried babies. The elimination of permits to carry a gun in public. They got a million of ‘em.
So I’m not too amused by the vaccine magnetism story. In fact, it’s got me shaking in my boots.