Heather Cox Richardson, late last night, after covering numerous other issues of the day in her newsletter Letters from an American:
But the lasting story today is the one that will hang over everything until it is resolved: the attempt of Republican legislators in 43 states to suppress voting with what are now 361 voter suppression bills across the country.
Today Major League Baseball announced it was pulling the 2021 All-Star Game and the MLB draft from Georgia in response to the state’s new voter suppression law, passed last week. The announcement drew fury from Republican officials.
They attacked MLB’s move as a product of “cancel culture and woke political activists.” Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Georgia House Speaker David Ralston released a statement blaming “this attack on our state” on President Biden and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams and insisting that the bill in fact expands, rather than contracts, the right to vote. Ralston said that “Stacey Abrams’ leftist lies have stolen the All-Star Game from Georgia…. But Georgia will not be bullied by socialists and their sympathizers.”
Republican politicians also piled on at the national level. Representative Buddy Carter (R-GA) tweeted that MLB was “[t]otally caving to the lies of the Left” and called for a baseball boycott. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) called it “a cowardly boycott based on a lie.” Then Representative Jeff Duncan (R-SC) called for Congress to retaliate against MLB with a law to remove MLB’s antitrust exception. The former president urged his supporters to “boycott baseball” and the companies that do not support Georgia’s new voter suppression bill.
But journalists Nick Corasaniti and Reid J. Epstein of the New York Times today reviewed the new 98-page Georgia voting law and had one primary takeaway: “The Republican legislature and governor have made a breathtaking assertion of partisan power in elections, making absentee voting harder and creating restrictions and complications in the wake of narrow losses to Democrats.” Sixteen key provisions hamper the right to vote, especially in the urban and suburban counties that vote Democratic, or take power away from state and local election officials—like the secretary of state, who refused to throw the election to Trump in 2020—and give it to partisan legislators.
If it’s true that the Georgia law is no big deal, Democracy Docket founder and election law defender Marc Elias asked, “why are three separate Republican Party Committees spending money intervening in court to defend it—claiming that if the law is struck down it will disadvantage the [Republicans] in elections?”
MLB’s decision was actually not prompted by Stacey Abrams, who rejected calls for a boycott and urged companies not to leave the state but to stay and fight for voting rights. She tweeted that she was “disappointed” that MLB would move the All-Star Game “but proud of their stance on voting rights.”
Former House Speaker John Boehner, who presided over the House during the Republican wave of 2010, published a preview of his forthcoming book that makes some sense of the Republican attempt to divert attention to Abrams. He says that the rise of the internet meant that by 2010, Republican lawmakers were taking their orders from internet media websites and the Fox News Channel, their only aim to keep viewers engaged and cash flowing.
The Republican focus on media, rather than policy, has mushroomed until lawmakers are now reduced to talking about Dr. Seuss and the Potato Head clan rather than answering the needs of voters, with no policy besides “owning the libs.”
And now they are trying to pin the decisions of MLB on the “socialist” Stacey Abrams, a voting-rights advocate, rather than on the Georgia Republican legislature’s open attempt to undermine democracy.
The GOP, the Party of the Lie, is determined to pass restrictive voting laws to prevent something that never happened from ever happening again.The traumatic specter of a Stolen Election, whether true or false, requires immediate action to prevent another one.
The Brennan Center recently counted the rapidly increasing number of anti-voting “Voter Integrity” laws proposed in virtually every state in the USA. It is no longer 253 proposed laws in 43 states. I will let Amy Goodman, who reported it today, tell it:
A stunning new report from the Brennan Center for Justice finds Republican state lawmakers have now introduced 361 bills to restrict voting rights across 47 states. Restrictive bills are now moving through legislatures in 24 states, and 29 bills have already been passed by at least one chamber of statehouses.
Early on Thursday morning, the Republican-controlled Texas Senate approved a bill to limit early voting hours, ban ballot drop boxes, end drive-thru voting and to allow poll watchers to videotape voters. This is one of just 49 bills to restrict voting being considered in Texas.
This comes just a week after Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed a sweeping elections bill that adds new voter ID requirements, severely limits mail ballot drop boxes and rejects ballots cast in the wrong precinct. One provision would even make it a crime to hand out food or water to voters waiting in line at polling places.
Recent announcements by Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines and Major League Baseball (the first two motivated by activist pressure) have called out the clear unfairness of the Georgia law and its naked purpose of suppressing non-GOP votes. Coke and Delta CEOs changed their tunes from their first statements that the law was basically a good compromise that had some problems with them to state that the laws is, yes, bad, unacceptable.
It may be left up to corporations, those profit-driven psychopaths, to pressure states like Georgia into back off some of the more draconian, restrictive provisions of what promises to be a raft of these new voter suppression schemes. It is another irony of our corporate democracy that corporations themselves may be the final guarantors of the right to vote, if they can be forced, by organized activism, to exert enough pressure on GOP state lawmakers. Georgia governor Brian Kemp, who angrily denied charges of racism after signing his racist law and called out partisan liberals and out-of-control Blacks, people he accused of racism, immediately shot back at the corporations, who want to remain on the State of Georgia’s corporate tit but who still want to unfairly criticize the State for merely obeying Jesus Christ Himself!
The gutted 1965 Voting Rights Acts, after a 5-4 vivisection by the Supreme Court in 2013, now requires the victims of state discrimination to hire top notch elections lawyers and prove their case in court, rather than as the law intended when putting the burden on states proposing such laws, before they could be signed into law, to demonstrate they had no discriminatory intent in making seemingly one-sided laws.
Lawsuits contesting these laws, if passed (and why wouldn’t they be by a majority Republican state legislature?) will eventually reach a 6-3 Supreme Court for final adjudication. John Roberts, the “balls and strikes umpire,” author of the 2013 decision eviscerating the Voting Rights Act (we post-racial now, y’all) who has never met a voter suppression law he couldn’t find legal grounds to wink at, won’t even be a swing vote this time. Like the famously deadly Tinkers-to Evers-to Chance double play combination of baseball lore the decision will go Thomas to Alito to Gorsuch to Kavanaugh to Coney-Barrett for a Federalist Society consistent outcome.
The Party of the Lie believes in straight 51-49 suck it democracy — no rights for the “minority”. If we have the votes, fuck you. If you have the votes, you’re not being bipartisan if you don’t work with us, you’re tyrants, monsters, Nazis.
Look again at these two maps and see what you think about 51-49 democracy where if we have 51 votes you can go suck it, cuck. The 49 percent or so who voted against the GOP in Georgia (which Biden won 49.47% to 49.24%)?Fuck y’all, we got the gerrymandered state legislature and the governorship, eat it.
That said, it’s imperative to get rid of both the filibuster and the Electoral College, two anti-democratic institutions falsely claimed to be protectors of democracy. It would also be a very good idea to expand the Supreme Court to 15 or so, and to place term limits on the Justices to ensure a regular opportunity for each party to appoint successors. If those things aren’t done, the Party of the Lie will prevail, wildly successful extremist Charles Koch will continue to smile his “aw shucks” grin during his endless victory lap, and we will have a one party 51-49 suck it state here in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
And, unlike the grounds for voter suppression laws proposed in 47 states, that ain’t no lie.
Oppression is always based on a lie. Not all human lives are of equal value. Blacks, Hispanics and Muslims are inferior to Whites (and no true White can be a Muslim). An animal has no rights whatsoever, nor any real feelings, either. Jesus Christ, and His father, in their infinite mercy, intended wealthy white men to autocratically rule over everybody else, for the benefit of all. A “well-regulated militia” means every individual can own as many guns as he likes, with no regulation allowed. A fair and decisive election that even Bill Barr stated was without fraud on a scale that would change any results was “stolen”, we need to fix the laws to allow the GOP state legislatures to make the final calls in every state on which votes to throw out to ensure “election integrity”. The Civil War was not fought to defend slavery, it was purely an issue of states’ rights (to own slaves or not).
The list is endless.
Someone well-born has the God-given right to rule over the rabble, those who chose the conditions of their birth less wisely. A self-evident truth like “all men are created equal” obviously excludes natural inferiors like women, white men without land, slaves, the servant class, indigenous non-citizens, Chinese, other immigrant groups (unless they obtain sufficient wealth to make themselves equal), felons who’ve served their sentences and the rest of them.
These things are so self-evident, they really go without saying. When the law is forced to say them, they sometimes do so unequivocally, as in the unappealable words of the Supreme Court: the Negro “has no rights which the white man is bound to respect.” 
After four fun-house years when repeated presidential lying was just doing what a solid 39% of Americans loved, what they themselves, if they had the power, would do, we have a party finally and irrevocably devoted to defending what is now routinely called The Big Lie — that the 2020 election was stolen. Because of widespread belief in this lie, you see, we need to fix laws that are not broken, to ensure that something that didn’t happen never happens again.
The Big Lie was a technique perfected and named by Hitler’s brilliant Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda Joseph Goebbels. It’s a simple technique. Make an audacious lie (they get more attention and enflame more outrage than small lies) and repeat it over and over and over via the mass media. It works like magic, so seamlessly that after years of doing it, a depraved government can indulge its wildest fantasies. Why not, as millions of credulous Americans would celebrate, put Tom Hanks, Oprah, Hillary and the rest of those sick child blood drinking pedophile fucks in torture camps?
We now have one major political party, representing a solid 40% of our citizens (conservative estimate), marching in lockstep to the Big Lie. Because voting rights advocates have made great strides bringing more people to the polls, and we had a historically large turn out in 2020, during a pandemic, no less, we need new laws that would allow GOP state legislatures the final call on which votes to count in each state.
Such laws, which would ensure “election integrity” would also relieve any future Trump of the need to call individual state election officials, or fly them to Washington, to persuade them not to certify votes or to change certified vote totals. We need these laws, the GOP argues, to stop voting fraud, whether it actually happened or not, because of mass perception of widespread fraud that, tens of millions believe, led to an infernally clever, successful conspiracy to steal the election. This was an argument ambitious Lyin’ Ted Cruz made continually in the days leading up to the January 6 riot at the Capitol, so many Americans believe this baseless lie, we have to have a commission to investigate it before we allow a possibly stolen election to stand.
The 2020 election, with its historically large turn out, was miraculously clean and fair, in spite of widespread fear, and certified as such by members of both parties. This included the president’s own gunsel, one of the most powerful men in government, Bill Barr, who stated unequivocally, after railing nonstop about the danger of unverified massive voter fraud (by mail) leading up to the election, and authorizing federal investigations into suspected fraud right up to election day, that there had been no fraud anywhere on a scale that would have changed the results of the election .
Because of this lie, that the 2020 election was stolen, we had a riot in the Capitol to stop the certification of the Electoral College votes that Biden won by the identical “landslide” Trump won by in 2016. A riot there is now great dispute about, Republicans not supporting a full investigation into whether the president and his underlings planned and incited it, spending some $54,500,000 dollars (according to evidence produced in Trump’s second impeachment) to publicize, organize and foment it.
Republicans don’t want an investigation, because, after all, it would be so partisan and unfair, with Democrat [sic] control of the government. Can you really even call it a riot if only five people were killed, and only 140 police officers were seriously injured? The GOP resents all this kerfuffle about the so-called insurrection, this “riot”. Isn’t a riot, by definition, what Black people do? There were no Blacks in this one, among the violent antifa terrorist provocateurs posing as Trumpists, so how can it be a riot?
That is one of the terrible things about a Big Lie, or any lie you insist on, really, it leads to endless lies to support it. You have no choice, once you commit to an audacious and baseless lie, but to continually shore it up with further lies, block any inquiry that could show your lie is a lie.
It’s not even like an investigation into the cause of the January 6 “event” at the Capitol will necessarily lead us to the truth. Recall that when the 9-11 Commission finally met, after many months of stonewalling by Cheney and Bush, it had strict limits put on certain parts of its investigation. For example, when they interviewed Bush and Cheney there could be no notes taken, the two would take no oath to tell the truth, nobody could discuss anything either of them said, and nothing from that “testimony” could be included in the report. In other words, we have nothing to hide, and the power to enforce our right not to have to do so.
Trump, although its most grotesque and tireless exponent, was not the first powerful Republican (or Democratic, for that matter) compulsive liar. Trickle Down Economics, for example, the idea that giving more money to the wealthiest would immediately produce a tiny trickle of money to everybody else, was a big lie. If you give money to poor people, they spend it to buy things they need and want. If you give money to rich people, they hoard it, having no real need for the additional cash. Seems simple enough, but you repeat the idea that those who inherited $100,000,000 or more are “job creators”, that a “Death Tax” on their inherited fortunes unfairly penalizes those same people, and, in time, you can convince enough people to have your way.
Barr, of course, his heroic efforts on behalf of Trump during his historically unjust and partisan stewardship of the Department of Justice aside, is now widely regarded by Trumpists as a disgrace who lacked the courage, like cowardly traitor Mike Pence, to do what was needed to keep their president in office. Finally, something we can all agree on in this brutally divided nation, Bill Barr is a disgrace.
Trump has raked in something like a half a billion in donations based on this Big Lie, the number was about $207,500,000, as of November 23, as the Rupert Murdoch-owned right-wing Wall Street Journal reported on his Big Lie-based fundraising on December 3, 2020, using the election lie to fleece both his sucker followers (they’d love him even more if he shot somebody in the face on Fifth Avenue and skull-fucked the corpse with his unimaginably gigantic member) and the usual mega-wealthy Betsy DeVos-style true believer cynics who fund right-wing crusades ofall kinds.
I came across this article searching, unsuccessfully so far, for how many tens of millions of dollars Trump/RNC spent on their more than 250 lawsuits attempting to limit voter access prior to the 2020 election and the 60 or so claiming fraud and illegality that it lost after the election.
This is from Rupert Murdoch’s WSJ December 3 account:
President Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee have raised more than $207.5 million in the weeks since Election Day, his campaign said Thursday, as their claims of voting fraud have generated a financial windfall that could be deployed in future political ventures.
Despite an aggressive legal effort by the president’s attorneys in many states, there has been no evidence of widespread fraud and numerous federal and state officials have disputed the campaign’s fraud claims.
The size of the postelection fundraising haul between Nov. 4 and Nov. 23 is unprecedented for a losing candidate, much less an outgoing president. The fundraising total ensures Mr. Trump will have a considerable war chest at his disposal as a major figure in the Republican Party, especially as he contemplates a second White House bid.
Trump’s party, as measured, principled and intelligent as Trump himself, has consistently attacked the safety precautions of wearing masks and keeping social distance during the pandemic. They phrase it as an issue of freedom from tyranny, like the unlimited constitutional freedom from any regulation of guns. Republican state governments have pushed back hard against these common sense safety measures, calling them everything from tyranny, to unconstitutional, to communist, to Nazi, to Satanist. The Trump plan (such as there was any plan) was to develop a vaccine at warp speed, everybody would be inoculated, “herd mentality” would be achieved and the pandemic would be over. Until Biden succeeded in stealing the election from Trump, with the connivance of many, many traitorous Republicans. Now the vaccine Trump took full credit for is part of the enemy narrative.
If you have been fully vaccinated there is a much lower risk of spreading the infection, particularly to others who’ve been vaccinated. There is a proposal to have some kind of Vaccine Passport you can show to prove you present limited danger in a restaurant, a movie theatre, a tattoo parlor. People can return to these places confident that they will not get deathly ill or make anyone else deathly ill (it seems). Other countries, including our staunch ally Israel, have done this and it seems to make sense, it moves the economy back toward normalcy while protecting the most vulnerable.
But not so fast, though.
Republican talking heads are addressing their audience with a consistent message that the Vaccine Passport is unconstitutional, an “unprecedented power grab”, “literally the end of human liberty in the west”, and an “unprecedented threat to our freedom”. One of the most extreme of the anti-blood drinking caucus have even stronger words for this Satanist, Nazi-like intrusion on American freedom. Marjorie Taylor Green, always good for an incendiary quote, had two: “Biden’s mark of the beast” and “corporate communism.”
Corporate communism, yo.That’s pretty deep.
The far-right Trumpist governor of South Dakota, Kristi Noem, tweeted this “@joebiden #CovidPassport proposal is one of the most un [sic] American ideas in our nation’s history”. At the same time Noem supports the immunization of South Dakota school kids, and requiring proof of vaccination before they can attend a South Dakota school.
You will look in vain for consistency or coherence in the angry catering to inflamed grievance (even fake grievance like widespread “voter fraud” and a Stolen Election, and the outrage of wealthy pedophiles, like Tom Hanks, drinking children’s blood.) The whole Roger Stone/Trump/Roy Cohn/Bill Barr/Charles Koch game is keeping your base in a constant rage. The GOP are doing an excellent job, even if it appears at times quite desperate.
I’m wondering how stupid and/or cynical Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema and a few other, more quiet, Democratic “moderates” actually are. They believe bipartisan legislation is possible with a group who continues to reject science, fact, videotape, testimony and every other form of proof that cut against their wild statements. I realize the politics are complicated for Manchin, whose state voted for Trumpie by 70 points in 2020 — but, seriously, what the fucking fuck? Nazis who scream that other people are Nazis are about the last people you can negotiate with, are they not?
Anyone who has been hurt by someone they trusted has a right to be angry. The party who hurt them might be able to reassure them afterwards, placate them, apologize, make things right, but that is not the usual course of things — in my experience. An angry reaction seems to cause defensiveness and even more anger in most cases. Then it is a pure, adrenalized struggle for who will prevail in their right to be angry. This struggle is generally “won” by the more violent party, as when peaceful, shouting protesters against police violence are met with the overwhelming force of militarized anti-riot police violently dispersing them. Anger is explosive, your anger can ignite the adrenalized rage of someone who can bludgeon or even kill you to carry out their oath to protect the peace. You got a problem with that?
The defense in the Derek Chauvin murder trial has a very hard job. They need to convince somebody on the jury that Chauvin acted correctly when he kept his knee on the neck and back of a handcuffed man long enough for the prone man to lose consciousness, after the man pleaded for his life for seven agonizing minutes, and who kept the pressure up once the man stopped moving, then didn’t allow the dying man to receive medical attention. On the other hand, the defense only needs to convince one juror.
How do you do show that Chauvin acted correctly, according to his police training, when his actions seemingly killed a subdued misdemeanor suspect? By showing it wasn’t his fault, that things got out of hand, as well as by establishing arguably reasonable expert witness introduced doubt about whether Chauvin’s seemingly depraved actions contributed substantially to his victim’s death.
To show George Floyd’s death was not Chauvin’s fault, the defense needs to pin the blame on somebody else. In this case, a crowd of random bystanders, who were angry and abusive, and threatening, yeah, they were menacing, they refused to disperse when they were told the slow, torture death of yet another unarmed Black man was NOTHING TO SEE. Chauvin’s colleagues, who will be tried separately for their roles in killing a handcuffed civilian, prevented anyone in the crowd from intervening, prevented CPR on the seemingly lifeless man who was probably already dead on the street. The story their lawyers need need to sell is that the police feared for their lives, feared violence from an angry mob that gathered and surrounded them, and because of that reasonable fear, may have made innocent mistakes.
Leave aside the obvious fact that the police had the guns, the police had the ability to arrest people, call in reinforcements, helicopters and every manner of militarized support. But the angry crowd had them so rattled, you understand, that they didn’t realize they were actually killing the big handcuffed guy who had stopped breathing after they kneeled on him long enough. And as for the victim, he died of other causes unrelated to having the air supply to his heart and brain constricted for nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds. All you have to do, if you’re the defense, is establish a little doubt in the mind of a couple of jurors, even one.
If anyone had the right to be angry, the defense could argue, it’s Chauvin and his colleagues who were being disrespected by this irrationally angry, abusive crowd as they merely performed their duties the way they’d been taught to in the academy.
It reminds me of that bagpiping piece of shit Bill Barr’s smugness in continually blaming, and provoking, victims and protesters for their anger over regular “justified” police killings of unarmed citizens. It reminds me of anyone who provokes, out of their own rage, and blames the victim for being so fucking angry.
It reminds me of my own dear mother, shaking me by the shoulders when I was small, snarling “what did anybody ever do to you to make you so fucking angry?!” If I’d had the presence of mind as a kid, I’d have said “I don’t know, mom, maybe it’s my mother angrily shaking the shit out of me and demanding to know what I was so angry about?”
“She never laid a hand on you, you lying prick,” says the skeleton of my father. And as the doors open, I hop off this train, it’s become a bit stuffy in this car.
Senior critic-at-large March 30, 2021 at 7:14 p.m.
The witness Donald Williams was trained in mixed martial arts. He had experience working in security — and alongside police officers — and handling potentially unruly crowds. He also described himself as an entrepreneur and a father. But during his hours of testimony over two days in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who is charged in the death of George Floyd, there is one thing that Williams made clear he was not: an angry Black man.
That he could not afford to be. He was not allowed to be. He could cry for Floyd. He could despair for him. But he was not supposed to be angry, even if that was what Floyd’s death demanded.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson has made anger central to his argument for Chauvin’s acquittal. In his version of events, the anger of the growing crowd on the street that May afternoon distracted Chauvin from the man he had pinned under his knee. Floyd, who had been accused of circulating a counterfeit $20 bill, was in Chauvin’s custody, which meant that he was also in his care. But the crowd — that dangerous, unruly mob, according to Nelson — had distracted Chauvin so that he could not attend to Floyd’s well-being. He could only concern himself with his detainment.
To that end, according to several witnesses, including Williams, the White police officer adjusted his knee to apply more pressure, to ensure that Floyd’s Black body remained immobile — until his immobility turned into unconsciousness.
The defense’s narrative makes use of one of the culture’s most damaging and enduring stereotypes about Black men — and women, too. These people ooze anger, and Black anger is inherently menacing. It isn’t justified or understandable or controlled, even when it is all of those things. It most certainly is not righteous. And when it rises, it must be tamped down, defused and crushed.
Nelson, bespectacled and bearded, and with an affinity for florid neckwear, worked hard to have the jury see Williams as enraged — as a man who was yelling at Chauvin and threatening fellow officers. Nelson detailed the many expletives and insults that Williams directed at Chauvin. He portrayed Williams as a man who was advancing toward the police with his chest thrust forward and spoiling for a fight
“It’s fair to say you grew angrier and angrier?” Nelson asked.
“I grew professional and professional. I stayed in my body,” Williams replied. “You can’t paint me out to be angry.”
Williams said he was speaking loudly so that he could be heard, so that he wouldn’t be ignored. He was imploring Chauvin to relent. He was calling Chauvin a bum and lacing his speech with expletives because the situation was too dire for polite conversation. Derek Chauvin’s defense team said on March 30 that Donald Williams, a witness, grew so angry at police that he wanted to fight them.
What Williams saw was, on its face, enraging. He had happened upon the sight of Floyd facedown on the ground with Chauvin on top of him for more than nine minutes. He heard Floyd cry for help and cry out for air. A young bystander saw him turn “purple” and described him as looking “really limp.” Kids saw this horror. Children. The gathered crowd all watched as their pleas to render aid to Floyd went ignored.
Anger is surely the natural human reaction, along with alarm and concern, but Nelson has characterized that as a wholly unnatural response to Floyd’s dire circumstances, as if he was not worthy of any of those emotions. Should the crowd simply have stood silent?
History would probably have excused their anger. So many other people of color — unarmed and stopped for minor offenses or for nothing at all — have died during encounters with police officers. They have been deprived of air, riddled with bullets; they’ve been killed without consequences because their death was deemed reasonable. When does fury become moral and decent if not in the face of all that?
Williams seemed to understand the perilousness of leading with anger. He refused to let it be his abiding message on Tuesday afternoon in a Minneapolis courtroom as Nelson tested him. No, his words weren’t getting angrier that awful day in May, he said, “they grew more and more pleading — for life.”
Williams was so alarmed by what was unfolding before him that he even called 911. He called the police on the police because he had not given up on law enforcement. He still had faith that they had the capacity to protect and to serve. He trusted in their outrage even if society demands that he deny his own.
The phrase resonated. “I stayed in my body.” Williams remained in control. He maintained focus. He was attuned to his movements and gestures. He didn’t let emotions take hold. He didn’t relinquish his soul.
As he spoke from the witness stand, Williams’s deep voice rumbled from a body that was both solid and still. On his second day of testimony, he wore an open-collared dress shirt in a sea-foam green. His hair was cut close. He didn’t fidget or appear nervous. He didn’t look imposing, but he often looked perplexed.
When Nelson questioned his emotions, pressed him about the expletives he’d used and took a sharp tone, Williams cocked his head sideways and furrowed his brow. Then a slight smile flashed across his face.
Williams did not display a hint of fury. Outrage can be a burden, but it can also be a source of power. If Williams had any anger, he was keeping it in reserve.
Robin Givhan is senior critic-at-large writing about politics, race and the arts. A 2006 Pulitzer Prize winner for criticism, Givhan has also worked at Newsweek/Daily Beast, Vogue magazine and the Detroit Free Press.Follow
There’s a rhetorical question for you. If a guy lies to you, truly believing he is not lying, is that really a lie? Here’s another way of thinking of it: does an unintentional hard knee to the privates hurt?
The law, a problematic beast at best, has an intent requirement for many crimes. If you don’t have the required malicious intent to cause harm, you are not, under these laws, held responsible for committing a crime or even a tort. Malice has a strict legal definition, which comes in several varieties, express malice, malice aforethought, implied malice, etc. most of which boil down to the deliberate, intentional infliction of illegal or tortious harm. An act done knowingly (or in some cases just recklessly) to harm another, without just cause or excuse, constitutes legal malice.
When I complained of malice in the hard-heartedness of a lawyer friend’s increasingly aggravating responses to my aggravation, he told me that it plainly was not the case — he neither felt nor expressed malice, merely his opinion of the facts on the table as he understood them. Therefore, by the legal definition of malice, the definition he assumed I was referring to, with its requirement of no just cause or excuse, it was impossible that he had acted with malice, since he had, alternatively, no intent to cause me harm, nor (he added, subsilentio), lack of just cause or excuse if he had, unintentionally, caused such harm.
This is what comes of arguing with a lawyer, trained to parry and thrust whenever presented with even a straightforward assertion — to be “malice” it all hinges on the strict definition of intent or lack of just cause or excuse, doesn’t it?
I had to resort to other words to describe his unsympathetic stance: ill will, spite, hostility, for as the law notes:
malice in law :implied malice in this entry 2: feelings of ill will, spite, or revenge
NOTE: Such feelings are usually not an important component of malice in legal consideration unless punitive damages or actual malice is an issue.
In the ordinary use of the word malice, among non-lawyers, it is interchangeable with “ill will”, its synonyms are spite, malevolence, animosity, hostility, bitterness, rancor, enmity.
“Yes,” says the lawyer calmly, “but don’t all of these things require an intention to cause harm? If I am accidentally bitter, or arguably hostile, or seemingly spiteful, in your subjective estimation, how can you fault me for that? Accident negates will– there can be no ‘ill will’ without an intentional act of will, as you will have to admit, if you’re being honest. Since any harm I may have caused was purely unintentional and inadvertent, what are you complaining about?”
Might as well argue with a tumor.
This “intent” business is where the law gets sticky. An ordinary person assumes that a powerful man who lies over and over about a stolen election, spends $50,000,000 for media advertising of that deliberate lie, organizes a Stop the Steal rally (at a cost of $4,500,000) on the day the election results are being certified, shows an inflammatory two minute video about widespread voter fraud committed by riotous haters of American freedom, before speaking at length about the many detailed lies he’s already told, (the 205,000 corpses voting in Fulton County, to take just one), who repeatedly tells his crowd that they are the victims of a stolen election and that they have one last chance to fight like hell to stop it — I mean, once you’ve done all that, and a violent riot erupts, the most passionate of your crowd storming and ransacking the Capitol to Stop the Steal — it would seem to the ordinary person that you have set out everything needed to prove this fellow is responsible for the insurrection.
The law, however, often imposes a higher bar than common sense about what seems to be clear cause and effect. It often requires proving the subjective intent of the alleged perpetrator, a deliberate course of conduct, knowing that he was lying, and lying to deliberately bring about the foreseeable result his actions caused. Without this kind of legal rigor … well, you just have mob rule (says the law).
Similarly, when the same guy called the Secretary of State of Georgia and tried to convince him and his lawyer to throw out almost 12,000 ballots with arguments like “fellas, I’m talking about 11,780 votes here, give me a break…” to establish that he violated Georgia law about soliciting interference in an election we must prove that he intended to solicit that illegal interference. What if he did it by accident, truly believing that the 11,780 votes he wanted thrown out had really been cast fraudulently?
I went to law school, passed the bar exams of two states, practiced law for years, and I still have a hard time getting my brain around this shit. In the case of the Georgia law, it’s as if Trump ran his finger down the text of the law while he was trying to convince the Georgia Secretary of State to throw out results that had been recounted and certified three times, and made sure to violate every provision of the law. He went down the list: solicit, cajole, threaten, promise, influence, check! making sure to explicitly violate each provision and every iteration of the crime.
It may be, after the grand jury is done hearing the evidence, that he will be indicted, tried and convicted under this law, which has a mandatory two year prison sentence. I would not be unhappy to see this result, though millions might be, literally, up in arms about their leader being unfairly witch hunted this way.
The same goes for repeated lies about the totally non-threatening love fest at the Capitol on January 6. Cops beaten by the mob? That cop who lost an eye? The one killed? The many videos of anti-police violence? All irrelevant and very misleading, the protesters were peacefully expressing their first amendment rights (unfortunately deprived of their second amendment ones) and the far less than 200 seriously injured that day were injured by over-enthusiastic hugging and kissing. Hugging and kissing, you merciless motherfuckers! Now, prove I KNEW I was lying, asshole! .
Ignorance of the law is no excuse, as every school child learns. Just because you don’t know it’s illegal to do X doesn’t mean you won’t be held responsible for violating the law. Unless, of course, you retain diligent, skillful counsel who can create a reasonable doubt about whether you had the required mental state to have committed the crime. Slander, libel, defamation? No worries, if we can show you honestly believed the lies you were telling were true (no malice!).
Does this make sense to you, kid?
As I tap at the keyboard they’ve wrapped up the second day of the trial of Derrick Chauvin, the former police officer who, for 9 minutes and 29 seconds, kneeled on the neck and back of the handcuffed George Floyd, who pleaded for his life until he lost consciousness, while Chauvin continued to keep his knee on Floyd’s neck, long after he was motionless and silent.
The defense is making arguments, as defense attorneys are paid to do, which hinge on this violent constriction of Floyd’s blood and air flow not being what actually killed Floyd. The defense claims he died of a heart attack, caused by adrenaline and the illegal drugs he had in his system at the time of his death. Nothing to do with being pressed to the ground by a large man with his knees on his neck and back until he stopped breathing. Nothing whatsoever. Chauvin was afraid, because a large, hostile crowd was intimidating him. And so on.
It could work. It doesn’t take much to convince one or two in the jury of a plausible sounding excuse, based on actual selected facts. Hmmm. Coroner found fentanyl in his system, he’d been resisting arrest for a misdemeanor (allegedly passing a counterfeit twenty) so there’s the adrenaline, had a bad heart, big as he was, he couldn’t take somebody kneeling on him for eight or nine minutes — he freaked out and died of heart failure. Nobody’s fault, the tragedy, except perhaps the dead guy, who put everybody through all this pain…
Notice, no lying whatsoever required, just reframing. It wasn’t the continued knee on his neck that killed him, with the weight of a grown man behind it — it was a bunch of other things. Not murder, just a fucking tragedy. Not manslaughter, just a cop doing his difficult job under terrible circumstances, with a bunch of unfriendly natives angrily hassling him and mercilessly making videos of him in the course of his official duties. Chauvin didn’t kill George Floyd, George Floyd’s bad choices killed George Floyd.
Sometimes a lie is neither intentional nor unintentional, sometimes shit just happens when people are doing their jobs and we have to make sense of it the best we can. Or maybe we are lying to ourselves that we are not lying. Who’s to say?
It depends on the lie, of course. Some lies cover up terrible crimes,cause massacres, justify endless wars — others just make us uncomfortable.At the same time, every lie attacks our sense of fairness and undermines our faith in ever being able to get to the truth of anything. A lie is almost always a motivating factor for outraged violence, like lynchings. That some lies are relatively harmless does nothing to diminish the harm that lying does.
I had a friend who used to lie — almost always about small things. His particular tic of untruthfulness never bothered me very much. It was hard to tell, much of the time, why he’d told a particular lie. I always chalked it up to the very nervous fellow’s neurosis. I knew his mother, she was the same way. Could look you in the eye, and with the greatest apparent sincerity, assure you of something that was manifestly not true. These little lies can take their toll in a relationship, certainly, but, truly, I never held it against either of them.
Then there are bigger lies, about fundamental things. These are the clearly dangerous ones. By changing the truth, and distorting what actually happened, they serve to deny the validity of your rightful reaction, block the way to solving the actual problem and allow the liar to prevail. Big Lies justify all sorts of things. With a big enough lie, you can have a mob go into a neighborhood and feel totally righteous raining holy hell down on random passersby.
Lying is often motivated by an attempt to protect oneself from shame or accountability. I know a man who has lied since I met him, about almost everything. His father told my father “don’t believe a word he says, Irv, he’s a liar.” He lost his job, took his dead father’s credit cards, maxed them out, had the bills sent to a PO box he rented. Came home every week with a fat cash advance and pretended it was his pay from work. What could go wrong? Everything was fine for months, until his wife found a large unpaid credit card bill, sent to his secret PO box, in his pants pocket while she was doing the laundry. Eventually the credit card companies came looking for their money. If you ask the guy about this, he will have a story, if he doesn’t immediately go on the attack.
What is the harm of a lie? You know the answer to that from your own life, from the times a lie really mattered. The real harm comes when the lie is indignantly insisted on, over and over. Liars have a tendency never to back down and the rest of us tend to believe most things we hear over and over, or at least to develop doubts about what actually happened, based on an insistent lie. Undeviating repetition is crucial for convincing people of the lie, undermining our certainty about truth and falsity, or at least wearing us out and making us drop the whole subject in disgust.
An obvious recent example of what many are calling The Big Lie is about the 2020 election. It is the first time in American history that a president who lost an election, an election certified as fair by election officials of both parties, refused to accept the results — even after his successor was sworn in. He lied, over and over, continues to lie every time he speaks publicly, about massive fraud his lawyers could produce no evidence of in court.
He told his followers that they had been robbed, that he had massive, incontrovertible proof of widespread fraud, that the election was stolen, that the courts are corrupt enemies of the people who were in on the Steal. He called state election officials and tried to get them to change vote tallies, he told the Georgia Secretary of State exactly how many votes against him, 11, 780, he needed thrown out. He whipped up the anger of his most violence-prone followers, so much so that they rioted and Twitter eventually stopped its weak attempts to use disclaimers to hold him accountable for lying, banning him outright from the platform he’d used to such great effect.
When his incensed followers rampaged at the Capitol, injuring more than 100 police officers, killing at least one, trampling one of their own to death, and stormed the building to stop the lawful final certification of the votes, pausing to spread feces on busts of Democrats, it… uh, nobody was threatened that day, nobody chanted for the lynching of Mike Pence, or taunted next in line Nancy Pelosi, nobody released tear gas in the building, nobody tried to crush police in doors, or beat them with their own shields. It was a totally non-threatening riot, completely peaceful, the protesters were literally hugging and kissing the police — and nobody was arrested that day, which kind of proves that nobody was threatened or harmed in any way.
None of the Republicans who were locked down during the riot felt threatened — as the few who will talk about that day continue to insist. The Democrats, according to the GOP and its backers, are trying to blow the whole thing out of proportion for political advantage — lying liars using the liberal media to spread hateful propaganda, which is what these freedom-hating communists always do.
The old maxim that all it takes for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing now comes into play. Even the handful of Republicans who voted to impeach and convict the former president for provoking the insurrectionist mayhem at the Capitol are quiet about it now, taking their political fortunes into account as they maintain a discreet silence. The corporations who loudly pulled campaign funding after Trump’s riot have now quietly resumed funding these candidates. The most ferocious advocates of the Stolen Election myth are raking in huge donations behind their fierce refusal to back down.
Last week Georgia became the first of 43 states (the hell are you waiting for, former Confederacy?) to pass laws that would allow the GOP to bypass the safeguards that protected the integrity of the last election and disqualify any votes they believed to have been cast by fraud. These “suspect” ballots are, of course, the ones cast in cities, in areas where many “non-whites” stand on line for many hours to cast votes that are cast with no wait in rural and suburban, heavily GOP areas. What is the basis for this new law? Repeated false allegations of massive voter fraud, elections that need their integrity protected, because millions of Trump supporters honestly believe fucking “n-words” illegally stole the will of the real people of Georgia by 11, 780 fake votes last time. This new law will allow a gerrymandered state legislature to have the final say on whose votes count and whose get tossed as “suspicious”.
Heather Cox Richardson, historian, is often described as apolitical. She gives the facts, lays out some of the echoes of history. She often sets the details of true events against modern day claims. Sometimes, simply juxtaposing two things is a political act. Of Trump’s Big Lie about massive fraud that never happened, the lie the Heritage Foundation has cited as valid grounds for the model legislation it produced, that 43 states are considering enacting into law, Cox Richardson compares it to the lies that were at the heart of the Ku Klux Klan, the “Redeemers” and the “segregationists”. A political act, by Heather, setting a true account of treachery against a lying story to justify similar chicanery, but there is nothing inaccurate about it. You can read the whole discussion here.
Is a lie not a lie because the liar honestly believes it’s true? We’ll take a look at that sticky business down the road.
Easy to vote and hard to cheat, secure, fair and accessible, you say. No significant cheating was found, by officials in both parties, in the secure, fair and historically accessible 2020 Georgia elections, but, what the hey. Georgia will fix it, next time millions of unqualified voters sneak their way to the ballot box to subvert the will of the leader– and they won’t leave it up to a “principled” Secretary of State, either.
Kemp, well-known midnight purger of Georgia voting rolls (when he was Secretary of State running for governor), was so proud that he signed this important voter suppression law in his office, behind closed doors, under a painting of a famous slave plantation. Georgia state representative Park Cannon, who knocked on the governor’s door during the secretive signing ceremony, was handcuffed and hustled out of the building by silent Georgia State Troopers. She was later charged with two felonies, court challenges to follow. Oh, yeah, naturally Rep. Park Cannon is a Black woman.
Before the fat compulsive liar was banned from Twitter, Mr. Trump tweeted things like this, daily:
After forcefully inciting the Stop the Steal riot, and personally leading his army of passionate, credulous totally non-racist peaceful supporters to storm the Capitol on January 6, Trump tweeted this, one of his last:
Here is what Mr. Trump said about Brian Kemp during his long rant to his supporters, while exhorting them to go to the Capitol to find the traitorous Mike Pence and Stop the Steal on January 6th. I’ve left the good natured rambling diatribe that follows, as a reminder of the essential incoherence of the compulsively lying malignant narcissist (got to love his winking defense of innocent, righteously outraged conspiracy victim Boof Kavanaugh):
And I had Brian Kemp who weighs 130 pounds. He said he played offensive line in football. I’m trying to figure that out. I’m still trying to figure that out. He said that the other night. “I was an offensive lineman.” I’m saying, “Really? That must have been a very small team.”
But I look at that and I look at what’s happened and he turned out to be a disaster. This stuff happens. You know, look, I’m not happy with the Supreme Court. They love to rule against me. I picked three people. I fought like hell for them. One in particular I fought.
They all said, “Sir, cut him loose, he’s killing the senators.” You know, very loyal senators. They’re very loyal people.
“Sir, cut him loose. He is killing us, sir. Cut him loose, sir.” I will never — I must have gotten half of these senators. I said no, I can’t do that. It’s unfair to him, and it’s unfair to the family. He didn’t do anything wrong. They made up stories. They were all made-up stories. He didn’t do anything wrong. Cut him loose, sir. I said no, I won’t do that. We got him through, and you know what, they couldn’t give a damn. They couldn’t give a damn. Let him rule the right way, but it almost seems that they are all going out of their way to hurt all of us and to hurt our country, to hurt our country.
You know I read a story in one of the newspapers recently how I control the three Supreme Court justices. I control them. They are puppets. I read it about Bill Barr that he is my personal attorney, that he will do anything for me, and I said you know it really is genius because what they do is that and it makes it really impossible for them to ever give you a victory because all of the sudden Bill Barr changed, if you hadn’t noticed. I like Bill Barr, but he changed because he didn’t want to be considered my personal attorney.
Kemp has now redeemed himself in the eyes of his former backer, one would think. Redeemed in the sense of the “Redeemers” who restored white rule to the former confederacy after a political compromise (ending the stalemate in the 1876 election) removed federal troops who were enforcing things like the Ku Klux Klan Act in the states that seceded to defend White Supremacy. If the law Kemp signed the other day had been in effect for the 2020 election, Trump wouldn’t have had to make phone calls to Georgia state officials asking for the election results to be thrown out, the GOP state legislature could have easily, and legally, fixed things for him.
As she so often does, historian Heather Cox Richardson captures the essential nature of this struggle, between a small group of powerful white men meeting in secret and the rest of us, whose voices are limited to the ballot:
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed his state’s new voter suppression law last night in a carefully staged photo op. As journalist Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Inquirer pointed out, Kemp sat at a polished table, with six white men around him, under a painting of the Callaway Plantation on which more than 100 Black people had been enslaved. As the men bore witness to the signing, Representative Park Cannon, a Black female lawmaker, was arrested and dragged away from the governor’s office.
It was a scene that conjured up a lot of history.
Voting was on the table in March 1858, too. Then, the U.S. Senate fought over how the new territory of Kansas would be admitted to the Union. The majority of voters in the territory wanted it to be free, but a minority of proslavery Democrats had taken control of the territory’s government and written a constitution that would make human enslavement the fundamental law in the state. The fight over whether this minority, or the majority that wanted the territory free, would control Kansas burned back east, to Congress.
In the Senate, South Carolina Senator James Henry Hammond, who rejected “as ridiculously absurd” the idea that “all men are born equal,” rose to speak on the subject. He defended the rule of the proslavery minority in Kansas, and told anti-slavery northerners how the world really worked. Hammond laid out a new vision for the United States of America.
He explained to his Senate colleagues just how wealthy the South’s system of human enslavement had made the region, then explained that the “harmonious… and prosperous” system worked precisely because a few wealthy men ruled over a larger class with “a low order of intellect and but little skill.” Hammond explained that in the South, those workers were Black slaves, but the North had such a class, too: they were “your whole hireling class of manual laborers.”
These distinctions had crucial political importance, he explained, “Our slaves do not vote. We give them no political power. Yours do vote, and, being the majority, they are the depositaries of all your political power. If they knew the tremendous secret, that the ballot-box is stronger than ‘an army with banners,’ and could combine, where would you be? Your society would be reconstructed, your government overthrown, your property divided… by the quiet process of the ballot-box.”
Hammond believed the South’s system must spread to Kansas and the West regardless of what settlers there wanted because it was the only acceptable way to organize society. Two years later, Hammond would be one of those working to establish the Confederate States of America, “founded,” in the words of their vice president, Alexander Stephens, upon the “great physical, philosophical, and moral truth… that the negro is not equal to the white man.”
Meantime, several propagators of the Big Lie about a stolen election engineered by dead Socialists and Dominion voting machines, (the mother of an equally Big Lie about the harmless intentions of the unarmed peaceful patriots who attacked Capitol Police with Bear Spray, other chemical irritants, tasers, flagpoles, barricades, their own shields, etc. ) are being dragged into civil court for defamation. Their defense, the noted FOX defense (used to get entertainer Tucker Carlson off the hook for some of his more incendiary lies) is that it should be obvious to anyone that these were wildly exaggerated statements intended solely to whip up angry, low-information people and that only a moron could believe were actually true, no matter how specific or otherwise plausible they may have sounded.
Like the constantly trumpeted claims of widespread voter fraud that were not backed by any evidence whatsoever in any one of almost four hundred Trump/RNC lawsuits brought before and after the election. As no less an authority than Lyin’ Ted Cruz insisted, in the days before and after the January 6th Stop the Steal Riot, loud and angrily repeated widespread allegations of voter fraud are good enough to support anti-fraud measures .
Now, about that filibuster, Mr. Manchin…
Trump went on FOX the other night to insist again that his riot, in which one police officer was killed by peaceful protesters and 140 more injured by those same law and order patriots, was a love-fest featuring hugging and kissing between his people and the police. What is it with the homoerotic suggestions of this giant orange homophobe? He and the North Korean dictator “fell in love”. Sure did.
This very specific sounding, but false, fabricated claim of fraud, an outright lie unsupported by any evidence, made by Trump while urging his supporters to go to the Capitol and Stop the Steal, stands in for the rest:
There were over 205,000 more ballots counted in Pennsylvania. Now think of this, you had 205,000 more ballots than you had voters. That means you had to — where did they come from? Do you know where they came from? Somebody’s imagination, whatever they need it. So in Pennsylvania, you had 205,000 more votes than you had voters, and it’s — the number is actually much greater than that now. That was as of a week ago, and this is a mathematical impossibility unless you want to say it’s a total fraud. So if Pennsylvania was defrauded.
Over 8,000 ballots in Pennsylvania were cast by people whose names and dates of birth match individuals who died in 2020 and prior to the election. Think of that. Dead people, lots of dead people, thousands, and some dead people actually requested an application. That bothers me even more. Not only are they voting, they want an application to vote; one of them was 29 years ago died. It’s incredible.
Incredible, yes, that’s the exact word, sir — too extraordinary and improbable to be believed.In your defense, sir, only a raging imbecile would take you at your word.
Have we not fought, and won, all these fucking battles for democracy before? Apparently not. What we politely call “segregationists” succeeded, for a solid century, in nullifying the results of the Civil War, effectively voiding all rights conferred by the Thirteenth (no involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime…) Fourteenth (full rights of federal citizenship for anyone born here) and Fifteenth amendments (right to vote may not be denied on account of race or previous condition of servitude) . Almost 100 years later Congress had to pass new laws to enforce civil rights and voting rights, both laws vigorously opposed — and energetically filibustered — by segregationists (racists, let’s call a fucking spade a spade). They’ve been at it continually since the Supreme Court struck down segregation in public schools in 1954, seeking to end “judicial activism,” “get government off our backs” starve it of tax revenue (particularly from the super-wealthy) and “drown it in the bath tub”. They are at it full-throttle right now, in the wake of their champion Donald Trump’s electoral defeat in spite of getting 75,000,000 votes.
You’ve heard about the 43 states, including every state Trump narrowly lost, voting on 253 new voter suppression laws to address non-existent “voter fraud” committed exclusively by Democrats. Had these laws been in place for the 2020 election, we’d now be a white supremacist autocracy under the triumphant Donald Trump and family.The final arbiters of the legality of these new voter suppression laws will be Trump’s 6-3 Federalist Society Supreme Court, a group that has rarely met a voter suppression measure they’ve considered unconstitutional.
The first of these open voter suppression bills was signed into law yesterday by Georgia governor Brian Kemp, a man mocked as a runt and a coward in the incendiary harangue Trump delivered on January 6th, including a long-winded, maniacally detailed recitation of debunked lies supporting his false claim of massive voting fraud, before he bravely marched with his millions of freedom-loving supporters to peacefully, patriotically storm the Capitol to Stop the Steal.
There was an ugly arrest yesterday, of a Georgia state representative, sickeningly reminiscent of 1950 — several beefy white Georgia State Troopers silently hustling a handcuffed black woman away, ignoring questions about why she was being arrested. The only difference between the 2021 arrest and one in 1950 is the absence of a beat-down and the repeated use of the unexpurgated “n-word” during the subduing and arrest of this dangerous little elected official.Her criminal act was knocking on the door of the governor’s office while he was in a private signing ceremony with six other white guys, making the new voter suppression bill binding Georgia law.
The only way to defeat these kinds of clear race-based voter suppression laws (the Georgia law severely limits the use of drop box, bans most absentee voting, — it had originally intended to ban Sunday voting — and criminalizes bringing water to anyone on a long line to vote Democrat — ya’ll know where those long voting lines are…)is by a federal law that would preempt these measures. HR-1 became S-1, The For the People Act, the other day, and when the Senators get back from yet another two week break, the GOP filibuster of this voting rights act will begin.
A party who perceives its only path to power as through partisan gerrymandering, dark money funding and voter suppression, and has 50 votes in the senate (and a 6-3 Federalist Society minoritarian majority on the unappealable Supreme Court to review challenges to state voting laws), will have no problem raising 41 Senators, even if forced to, to stand and take turns reading Dr. Seuss books, mischievously sharing the most racist images in the books his executors are no long publishing (as I would if I were them, wouldn’t you?), to block debate on this crucial law.
Democrats are currently agonizing about how to placate the most reactionary of their one-vote majority caucus so they can push back against the filibuster, the obstructionist parliamentary maneuver Barack Obama not unfairly called a Jim Crow relic. With the filibuster in place, democracy, as the sainted Framers of the Constitution conceived it, is as dead as the Fourteenth Amendment was (except for corporate “persons”) for almost a century of racist terrorism with no remedy at law. (Thankfully the State no longer kills unarmed blacks with impunity…)
Seriously, how many times do we have to fight, and win, the same basic rights of citizenship in a democracy?
We know how before Mitch McConnell became the master radical obstructionist he is today, the filibuster was used to block the Civil Rights Act of 1957, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, The (Roberts Supreme Court gutted) Voting Rights Act of 1965. Before that the filibuster was a favorite tool of supporters of slavery like John C. Calhoun and by opponents of oppressive federal anti-lynching laws (what kind of country do we have if you can’t even lynch a goddamned troublemaker in your own county?). You can draw the through line yourself, and picture Lyin’ Ted Cruz reading Green Eggs and Ham to block the funding of Obamacare a few years back  before even talking was abolished for the debate-blocking filibuster (the mere threat of filibuster, backed by 41 votes, is all it takes today to block any debate).
Because effective democracy is based on open, fact-based debate, and then a vote and majority rule, (and because these proposed GOP voter suppression laws are clearly aimed at one segment of the electorate) we hear things like this:
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) argued Tuesday that the Senate filibuster “has no racial history at all. None. There’s no dispute among historians about that.”
[The Washington Post quickly debunked that made for FOX news talking point]
That’s false. Historians know the filibuster is closely intertwined with the nation’s racial past and present. To be sure, senators have filibustered issues other than civil rights over the Senate’s history. But it is impossible to write that history without recognizing the centrality of race.
So says the author of a fine article on the filibuster, writing in the Washington Post.
Oh, yeah, from that same article, we’re reminded that McConnell’s Senate colleague from Kentucky, another peach of a southern gentleman, filibustered the latest attempt to pass a federal anti-lynching law.
Attitudes on race continue to color contemporary Senate filibusters. Just last year, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) temporarily halted passage of a measure that would make lynching a federal hate crime.
It is clear enough what we are up against. I’m sometimes chided for comparing this group of any-means-necessary extremists, who march in lockstep, support any useful lie and vote in a disciplined block, to the devoted followers of Hitler in the German Reichstag. Trump is no Hitler, though arguably as racist and stupid as the author of one of few books Trump has ever read. It wasn’t for lack of trying to be a dictator, though, Trump just didn’t have enough time to do much as far as the really historically memorable stuff. Remember, it took Hitler almost a decade to start the actual mass killing program he is so rightfully famous for. All Trump got to do was ban Muslims, appoint three ideologically pure rightwing extremists to the Supreme Court, gut fedral agencies, pull children from their mothers’ arms and put them in cages, repeatedly and openly lie, advance cruelty as national policy, defend white killers of blacks while ordering the extrajudicial execution of a Seattle man accused of killing a white supremacist (both were white), use military force against peaceful protesters, attempt to overturn an election by force and a few other things like that.
To be fair and historically accurate, though both Trump and Hitler can be fairly characterized as angry, irrational, lying sociopaths, it is beyond dispute that Trump is no Hitler. He didn’t have enough time to dismantle every norm and safeguard, and American democracy held, if just barely. With these new voter suppression laws, which would allow the overturning of unfavorable vote results by partisan loyalists as Trump urged the Georgia Secretary of State to do, and will be interpreted by doctrinaire Federalist Society judges rammed through by McConnell and co., he may get his chance, if he can stay out of prison.
End the filibuster or bust. How hard can it be to get resolute “centrists” Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema on board?
Oh, yeah, I forget– push them too hard, they’ll vote to abolish the filibuster and then change parties to become Republicans, handing the highly principled Mitch McConnell majority leadership and officially ending the legislative process as we know it. LOL!!
In the late 1870s, the Southern Republican Party vanished with the end of Reconstruction, and Southern state governments effectively nullified both the 14th Amendment (passed in 1868, it guaranteed citizenship and all its privileges to African Americans) and the 15th amendment, stripping blacks in the South of the right to vote.
In the ensuing decades, various discriminatory practices including poll taxes and literacy tests—along with Jim Crow laws, intimidation and outright violence—were used to prevent African Americans from exercising their right to vote.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz finally took his seat in the U.S. Senate at noon today after finishing a marathon speech about President Barack Obama’s health-care law that lasted more than 21 hours and involved a reading of Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham.
The Texas legislator began his overnight talk-a-thon Tuesday afternoon and by 7 a.m. ET Wednesday, he confessed he was “a little bit tired.” But he also said he was inspired and encouraged by the Americans who support his determined push to scrap Obamacare, as the health-care law is known.
“I intend to speak in support of de-funding Obamacare until I am no longer able to stand,” Cruz, sporting running shoes with his suit, had said when he began speaking. “All across this country Americans are suffering because of Obamacare. Obamacare isn’t working.”