Linky Friday: Troubles, Tribulations, and Totally Nuts
[LF1] How Do You Solve a Problem Like Marjorie?
Let us consider Marjorie Taylor Greene.
This individual was already vaguely on folks’ radar by winning her primary for GA-14 congressional district, but then this little tidbit hit the interwebs.
GOP-backed QAnon House candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene is also a 9/11 conspiracy theorist.
In previously unreported remarks, Greene claimed that "it's odd there's never any evidence shown for a plane in the Pentagon." (In reality, there is evidence.) https://t.co/drmTgMtkv4 pic.twitter.com/uNx7ThXcue
— Eric Hananoki (@ehananoki) August 13, 2020
To which the cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs Greene decided to grab a shovel and dig deeper into looney tunes conspiracy land.
3. Some people claimed a missile hit the Pentagon. I now know that is not correct.
The problem is our government lies to us so much to protect the Deep State, it's hard sometimes to know what is real and what is not.
— Marjorie Taylor Greene For Congress🇺🇸 (@mtgreenee) August 13, 2020
In case you thought the Republican leadership would be pushing back on this:
The Republican establishment embraced Greene after she won the GOP nomination on Tuesday, with Trump calling her a “future Republican star” and saying she is “strong on everything,” and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)’s office saying they “look forward” to her victory in November.
The QAnon stuff is bad enough, Greene’s statements on immigrants and demographic groups are worse, and with the powers that be enabling her lunacy this won’t be the last of it. And the Republicans deserve everything they get with it. QAnon should have been a dealbreaker, but since it isn’t, they can enjoy the stigma of now having officeholders clearly unfit for office dragging them down.
[LF2] Those poor, poor, celebrities…
I’ve mostly ignored the roiling controversies with celebrities like JK Rowland and Ellen, because I don’t care, but folks sure have been debating them. Matthew Jacobs, writing in HuffPost, wonders if we aren’t asking too much of our celebrity idols:
Watching Rowling’s and DeGeneres’ twin downfalls raises existential queries about the nature of contemporary celebrity. If two of the most trusted women alive can’t, in fact, be trusted, who can? The role a bubbly talk show host or life-affirming YA author plays is different from that of a pop star or movie idol; Rowling and DeGeneres were more like companions than demigods. DeGeneres made that much clear in “Relatable,” her 2018 Netflix special, saying, “It’s a wonderful thing, it is. Here’s the downside: I can never do anything unkind ever now. Ever. I’m the ‘be kind’ girl.” The persona she’d constructed had turned into a trap.
Maybe DeGeneres used to be as lovely as she purports to be. Revisiting 17-year-old clips from the “Ellen DeGeneres Show” pilot on YouTube makes me wonder. She had a different energy then, more engaged and grateful. Her timeless HBO special “Ellen DeGeneres: Here and Now” ― which was released in 2003, less than two months before her talk show premiered ― is as endearing as standup comedy gets. And so I wonder if time did a number on DeGeneres, if money hardened her, if becoming one of the most visible celebrities on the planet infected her psyche. Most of us will never experience a reality wherein we cannot step outside without being mobbed, where our right to privacy is under constant attack. We will never know to what degree that lifestyle robs the famous of their sanity, forcing them to erect walls, literal and metaphorical.
[LF3] Harsh, But Fair Regarding Faith
Writing in Arc Digital, I think Kimberly Ross is a tad too broad with “Christian” here, since there is a strong progressive/liberal tradition apart from conservative evangelicalism she is referring to here, but this is harsh, fair, and true:
It’s almost as if the Christian community in America, so protected from the true oppression experienced by their brothers and sisters around the world, wants to feel persecuted. An unmasked face has become a political symbol; a way to stand up to what some consider to be tyranny directed at American freedoms, including the practice of religion. It’s odd that in some minds, the real tribulation is being asked to abide by state or local mandates meant to slow COVID’s spread, protect others, and get the economy back on track.
This is all less surprising than it would have been had Donald Trump not been elected president. The evangelical love for him is strong and committed. Somehow, he is the answer to leftism and any who stand in his way — friend, foe, or virus — should be dismissed, no matter the cost.
Under the current administration, the Christian community in America has largely transformed into another political arm aimed at saving the country, not through love of God and fellow man, but through love of country and GOP politics. It’s a devastating decline and unfortunately, too many are caught up in “winning” to see the harm that it’s doing.
[LF4] Belarus Breakdown
Belarus is spiraling. Since the elections on Sunday, which have been universally condemned as a sham giving Alexander Lukashenko a sixth term, the people have had their anger turn to action in the streets.
On Thursday, thousands of women, many dressed in white and carrying flowers, turned out in the streets across Belarus for a second day of protests. They’re reacting to a violent crackdown on anti-government demonstrations triggered by a weekend election widely viewed as fraudulent.
The protests broke out after President Alexander Lukashenko declared a landslide in Sunday’s election, laying claim to a sixth term in office. His main opponent, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, initially protested the results of the election, then disappeared — and resurfaced in neighboring Lithuania, to join her children, who were sent out of Belarus for their safety during the campaign. Tikhanovskaya posted a video in which she said she had been forced to make the difficult decision to leave the country.
Tikhanovskaya, a 37-year-old political novice, stepped into the race against Lukashenko after election authorities refused to register the candidacy of her husband, activist blogger Sergei Tikhanovsky, who gained popularity with a YouTube channel critical of the government. He was arrested and jailed two days after announcing his intentions to run for office and remains in jail.
[LF5] Eulogy for a Pub
Jim Swift writes about the closing of a favorite watering hole, and the people side of the story is one playing out all over the country right now.
Out in the courtyard of the B&B, a sign is hung on one of the cabins that says “43 years! 1976-2020 Congratulations BOB BEAULIEU.” Bob sits down on a chair next to some of us on hay bales, including B.J. Rector, who was my server most times I went over the last eight years. I ask him if the landlord came back and begged them to reopen—after all, starting a new venture in a building dating back to the 1860s is not easy when there’s so much turnkey real estate available—would he go back and do it?
Bob pauses and tells me that if that scenario were to happen, he’d probably want his kids to keep the business going instead of working as much as he did. But he’s not optimistic about the future of downtown restaurants post-coronavirus. The rents are too high (Post Pub’s monthly rent was almost more than my annual mortgage payments) and the virus, he says, has “changed everything.”
We’re just not going to be coming back into our offices if we don’t have to, Bob theorized, and a lot of businesses are going to just cut and run from downtown if they can. That could mean fewer independent restaurants and lots more chains with big financial backing.
[LF6] Two Sides to the Unemployment Debate
It’s widely understood that the country’s official response to the pandemic, both as a health and an economic emergency, has been inadequate: meager unemployment benefits cut while millions remain out of work and the bulk of direct cash support arriving in occasional $1,200 payments that may or may not be renewed whenever the next stimulus bill is finally cobbled together. What we do know is that even this paltry relief has prevented, or at least delayed, a catastrophic spike in poverty that would have occurred in its absence — the various benefits given to laid-off workers actually giving many of them a better standard of living than they had before the pandemic.
This shouldn’t be taken as praise, but rather as an indictment of just how bad things actually were for millions of Americans under circumstances still officially considered “normal.”
The extra money in lower-wage communities can provide an “incentive not to go back to work,” said the Rev. Davis Wallis, pastor of Church of the Straits in Mackinaw City. Wallis and his congregation operate one of Cheboygan County’s food banks that are open from November through April, when tourism employees are unemployed and “living on a lot less income.”
“There’s no doubt they’re going to be making more until July 25,” said Wallis.
“I don’t begrudge people for taking advantage of it,” he said. “But I don’t think it’s good economics to pay someone more than when they were working.”
Some employers, like Moran, say they’re already concerned about rebuilding their workforce.
[LF7] Feels like Y2K…
Really hate to bring this up, but you know…hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and so forth…
In a 5-4 vote, the justices also ruled that no alternative method of recount could be established in a timely manner. In effect, the latter ruling made Bush president. That 5-4 majority was composed of the nominees of Republican Presidents George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon. The four in the minority had been nominated by three presidents: Republicans Gerald R. Ford and George H.W. Bush, and Democrat Bill Clinton.
Bush v. Gore has been regarded as one of the most politically consequential decisions in the history of the court, and one that damaged the court’s preferred image of itself as an institution far removed from everyday partisan politics.
Will the current Florida conundrum need a resolution from the same source?
In a chorus that echoes those voices of 2000, Florida Republicans (and indeed the GOP generally) are expressing dismay at the recount of 2018. They celebrated on Tuesday night in the belief that their candidates had prevailed. Republican Ron DeSantis proclaimed victory in the governor’s race and current Gov. Rick Scott did the same for the Senate seat.
But it soon became clear the precincts reporting on Tuesday did not include all the voters whose ballots were sent by mail. Also uncounted were many absentee, military and provisional ballots. So this week we begin again the arduous process of deciding how to count, and recount, Florida. The voting is supposed to proceed night and day until a winner is clear.
In 2000 that process took five weeks and only ended at the Supreme Court. We shall see how long it takes to resolve this time.
It is safe to say the wounds from the battles of 18 years ago have never healed — not in Florida and not in the nation’s highest court. And not in the minds of a generation of Americans who thought the White House should have gone to Gore.
[LF8] Legends of the Not Fall
It sure feels like there will be no college football this fall, despite the SEC, ACC, and Big 12 holding out and fighting it:
The decisions by athletic conferences on whether to play come as medical and science data pertaining to the coronavirus is constantly evolving; universities face huge financial losses by choosing not to play this fall; and the longstanding inequalities that exist in college sports are again part of the national debate — schools make billions of dollars from the entertainment that college athletes provide, yet those student athletes receive no compensation and aren’t represented by a union.
“I think it’s probably a wise decision,” Dr. Dean Winslow, a Stanford University professor of medicine and infectious diseases expert, said of the decisions by some college conferences to suspend or postpone fall sports. “College sports, you have to put that within a larger context of the transmission of COVID-19 on university campuses. I think we are going to be dealing with COVID-19 well into the middle, if not most of 2021, as well as the rest of this year.”
“No one is immune to serious complications from this disease,” added Winslow, who has been on the front lines this year treating COVID-19 patients. “It’s definitely a very serious pathogen.”
Michael Hausfeld, a prominent Washington antitrust lawyer, successfully represented former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon and other plaintiffs in a landmark class-action lawsuit against the NCAA. The NCAA was accused of violating antitrust laws by not compensating college athletes when using their names, likenesses and images for commercial use. Hausfeld told NBC News that all college sports should be suspended for now, and that universities and schools that decide to forge ahead with a fall athletic season open the door to a possible flood of litigation.
“I’m not in favor for all the reasons that were expressed by the conferences that have rescheduled the season or postponed it,” Hausfeld said. “There is no way that they feel science and medicine has established that going forward with this season will be protective of the safety and health of the athletes as a whole.”
The NCAA Board of Governors announced this month that its member schools are prohibited from having student athletes “waive their legal rights regarding COVID-19 as a condition of athletics participation,” but Hausfeld said that even if that was the case, he does not think those waivers would hold.