Banana republicanism…

Yesterday in Brazil, thousands of election denying insurrectionists stormed their congress, presidential palace, and supreme court. While the damage was extensive, Brazil’s legally constituted authorities were able to roll back this assault on democracy. 

Having happened so close to the anniversary of January 6th, it’s hard not to look at the similarities. In both Brazil and the United States, right wing crackpots, led by defeated and disgraced ex-presidents were whipped into a furor and aimed at their respective institutions of government. In both cases, the attacks were carried out by those claiming to represent “conservative” principles. 

As a life-long holder of conservative beliefs, let me say for the record that these fucknuckles wouldn’t understand conservatism if it shot them in the ass. No matter how you try to dress it up, radical reactionism simply isn’t, by definition, conservative. To be conservative is to be, at heart, an institutionalist. By all means, disagree with the direction government and civic institutions are taking and work to change them, but undermining those institutions at the direction of wild-eyed charlatans is the polar opposite of “being conservative.” It’s banana republicanism at best.

Whether they follow Bolsonaro, Trump, or the next wave of MAGA Republicanism that seems to now be emerging, the threat against democratic norms and institutions continues to increase. We ignore this rising tide, or pretend we have put down the insurrectionists once and for all, at our own peril. This insidious threat to liberty may have been rolled back or held off, but it hasn’t been defeated.

My violently split ticket…

For me, this past Saturday was Election Day. I double checked my printed ballot, did some last-minute research on a couple of candidates for local office, and filled in all the appropriate ovals. Then I trundled off to the county building and dropped off my ballot. In a few days I expect to get an email notification from the county board of elections that it has been received. I’ll get another when it gets counted. As much as I always enjoyed physically going to the polls in person, this new way of doing things is undeniably more convenient.

I’ve never shied away from splitting a ticket. Since I turned 18, my rule has always been to vote for the candidate rather than the party. This year, I had an even simpler rule – I refuse to cast a vote for any candidate that supported, excused, convoluted, or in any way attempted to justify the Republican-led insurrection of January 2020. I don’t have a single vote to give to election deniers, anti-vaxers, or conspiracy theorists. It led to a ticket split in a variety of ways.

For Maryland governor, I’d vote for a warm bucket of spit before I cast my ballot for Dan Cox. Chalk that one up for the Libertarian candidate.

For Maryland’s 1st Congressional District, I cheerfully voted for the Democratic candidate and against Andy Harris, our very own local election denying, insurrection supporting, Trump-ist incumbent representative. As a medical doctor, his stated position on vaccines is more than enough to ensure I can’t trust his judgement on other issues. His support for a violent overthrow of the legislative branch in which he serves was really just icing on the cake.  

For Comptroller, I actually voted for the Republican, not because he’s a Republican or because he has a chance of winning a statewide race in Maryland this year, but because at the height of Republican office holders dipping their toes in the water of treason, Barry Glassman called out Congressman Harris by name as an example of what was wrong with the Republican Party. If he’s willing to publicly stand against that running tide and agitate the MAGA base, he earned my vote.

The rest is a long list of state and local offices for which Republican candidates are running unopposed. A quick social media search on most of them led me quite quickly to using the write in option. So, there are a few Cecil County residents known to me personally to be of sound judgement who will be receiving at least one vote attempting to elevate them to high public office in lieu of the nominated Republican for those offices.

I’m absolutely confident that my ticket has never been more split.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Protests. I’ll be honest, I can’t remember a sign waving, getting in the way of things protest that I’ve ever knowingly supported. The tactics most protesters employ seem almost perfectly designed to guarantee that I’ll either quietly oppose them or openly mock and deride them. The small “r” republican protestors who have been popping up in London this week aiming to disrupt the most solemn state occasion of the late Queen’s funeral are probably exactly the kind of friendless cranks you might expect to engage in that kind of ill-timed, boorish behavior. I’m not saying the Crown should necessarily haul them off to the tower, but if the rest of the populace got together and heaved them directly into the Thames, I’d likely look the other way and then have a good laugh about it.

2. Lindsey Graham. For the last six months every Republican who could find a TV camera earnestly declared that abortion was an issue that should rightly be resolved by the states. That the federal government has gotten too large and overreaching is a reasonable argument. The remedy, of course, isn’t to hand that misbegotten power to the states, but rather return it directly to the people, who are the font of power under the American system, and allow them each to decide based on their own particular light. But then here comes Lindsey Graham, boldly introducing a bill that not only flies in the face of small government orthodoxy, but which will be wildly unpopular with 60% or more of the electorate. It might buy him some votes from the Republican base in South Carolina, but otherwise it makes him look like a fucking moron.

3. Eyes. My eyes suck and have since I was a kid. Take away my glasses and I could probably squint my way through things at very close range, but forget about telling the difference between a car and a cow more than a couple of dozen yards away. I’m headed off to my annual eye exam tomorrow, where I plan to spend my hour griping and complaining that by 8PM, my eyes are shot. It’s a situation that’s beginning to interfere with my evening reading and that obviously can’t be allowed to stand. With the return of wasting hours of the week commuting to the office for reasons that defy logic, but make perfect sense to management on the near horizon, I can’t afford to lose another hour or two in the evening with my eyes running everything together into lines of black smudge. 

Don’t simp for sleazy, scumbag politicians… 

I spent a good amount of time raging about Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified email back in 2016. I believed then and I believe now that if I stored classified email on my home computer, I’d be at best fired and at worst prosecuted and imprisoned. She shouldn’t receive special consideration due to her august and lofty position. 

In 2017 I called out Jared Kushner for use of private email to conduct official business on behalf of the U.S. Government. I recommended that his files and records be subpoenaed and if there was evidence of guilt he should be charged and tried.

In 2018 I called out Ivanka Trump for using her personal email address to conduct official business on behalf of the U.S. Government. 

Here, now, in 2022, I’ll state publicly and for the record that if Donald Trump is suspected of having unlawfully retained, stored, folded, spindled, mutilated, sold, or otherwise misused classified materials, his residence and/or place of business absolutely should be subject to a lawful search. If evidence is found based on that search, he should be tried. That would be my position regardless of whether we happened to be discussing a sitting president, a former president, or a private citizen.

Maybe it’s easier for me to say because I’m beholden to neither of our major political parties, though I like to think it’s simply because I have the intellectual integrity not to have different rules of behavior depending on what party I happen to support. I have many bad qualities, but being a hypocritical asshat isn’t one of them.

I know it’s far too much to expect people to dispense with their partisan blinders at this point. They’re too entrenched – too invested in the position that they’ve staked out. No one wants to admit they bought a pig in a poke. There’s too much face to lose. Nothing I say is going to change minds, so I’ll just be over here eternally grateful that I never wrapped so much of my own identity up in a sleazy, scumbag politician to have hurt feelings when they go out and do sleazy, scumbag politician stuff.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Alex Jones. Since he broke into popular consciousness, Alex Jones has been a bloviating douche canoe. I can only assume he was one long before anyone ever heard of him. He’s a living example of being able to fool some of the people all of the time. Now, not all of that is exactly his fault. You’d have to be particularly weak minded to buy into the absolute bullshit he peddles on a regular basis. Watching this cowardly twatwaffle get absolutely bitchslapped around the courtroom, trapped like a rat, has been an absolute treat. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. 

2. Republican spin. Whether they admit it or not, Republicans were shocked by Kansans voting by a large margin to retain abortion rights as part of their state constitution. Kansas is supposed to be a rock-ribbed, ruby red bastion of conservatism. Their two key takeaways should be: 1) Not all conservatives are cheerfully going along with the religio-fascist wing of the party and 2) The majority of voters in general oppose them to the point that brings them out in unexpectedly large numbers. I’m under no illusions that Republicans won’t win some of these votes in other places, but Kansas was absolutely a warning shot put across their bow… no matter how hard they try to spin it as something else.

3. Brittney Griner. The media is tangentially focused on the ongoing arrest, trial, and sentencing of Brittney Griner. While I share their general feeling that I’d want to be just about anywhere other than a Russian jail, it’s one of those issues I can’t quite bring myself to rend my garments over. As a traveler, I’ve always considered it my responsibility to obey the laws of the country I happened to be in at the time. At sixteen, I found myself somehow in the middle of a protest march working its way through the streets of Mexico City. Somewhere there’s a picture of me looking entirely perplexed about what was going on around me. I have no idea if it’s illegal in Mexico or not, but even as a child, I had a decent understanding that I, as an American citizen, had no business in the middle of a Mexican protest. We beat a hasty retreat back to the hotel. If I can sort that much out at 16, expecting a 30-year-old woman to not carry substances known to be illegal in the country where she’ll be traveling doesn’t feel like it should be a big ask. If it does happen to be too much to trouble yourself with, well, I suppose you have to accept that you’ve rolled the dice and may have to accept the consequences. 

Maryland Republicans…

Yesterday, Marylanders went to the polls to vote in the state’s primary election. In a fit of absurdity, Maryland’s Republicans have voted to set up an election denying, insurrection supporting, Trumpist as their standard bearer for 2022.

In one of the most liberal states in the Union, this is who Maryland republicans have decided is their best hope to keep the governor’s mansion. Maybe it’s the kind of play that will work in Tennessee or one of the Dakotas, but it doesn’t carry water in Maryland. I can only assume Maryland Republicans have well and truly lost their collective minds. 

Running to the hard right is not how Republicans get elected to state-level office in Maryland. As much as I’ve never been in love with Larry Hogan, he was precisely the kind of moderate conservative that can get elected in this blue state. If nothing else, having a solid moderate governor helped mitigate the more wildly liberal impulses of a General Assembly that’s perennially controlled by Democrats. With a legislative branch that’s never met a tax, toll, or fee it didn’t like, that wasn’t nothing.

What Maryland Republicans have said with their vote is they’re more concerned with the Trumpian nightmare vision of Party Purity than in actually holding on to the governor’s office. As a result, come November, they’ll get a governor that will cheerfully go along with and lead the charge for whatever flurry of new taxes, regulations, and laws the Democratic legislature dreams up.

Maryland Republicans have made their wishes known… and I’m looking forward to November, when I’ll have the chance to vote against every single election denying, insurrection loving, Constitution loathing, anti-republican (small “r”) candidate they’ve saddled themselves with. Believe me when I say I’ll cast every one of those votes with a smile in my heart because the Constitution and this republic are not negotiable. 

Moron…

Lauren Bobert, the Republican representing Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, has gone on record as being in favor of giving up America’s centuries old experiment as a continent-wide constitutional republic in favor of adopting Christian theocracy as our fundamental basis of government.

Notwithstanding the Constitution’s First Amendment, which says, in part “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” Lauren argues that “The church is supposed to direct the government.” Apparently after careful study of the constitutional issues involved, she’s just “tired of this separation of church and state junk.”

I could go into the historical antecedents of why there is a separation between church and state in this country. I’ll spare you the details, but I’d start with the Pilgrims, then maybe move on to Maryland’s founding as a safe haven for English Catholics before discussing revolutionary era resistance to the established Church of England. Then I’d finish up with Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists. Those are just sort of the off the top of my head indicators of why Lauren is wrong. 

What the distinguished representative from Colorado is advocating is nothing short of an American Christian version of the Taliban, where we all live under whatever grotesquely perverted tenants of the faith a Pastor-in-Chief decides are going to be enforced on any given day. The very idea of it would be laughable if she wasn’t being applauded by so many kooks and weirdos who have slithered their way into positions of greater or lesser power – and the followers who lap up whatever goofy bullshit is laid out in front of them.

Lauren, based on her words and deeds, is obviously a moron who has absolutely no failsafe between whatever dumbass idea is rattling around between her ears and what comes out her mouth. As a sitting member of Congress, she took an oath to support and defend the Constitution. You’d think maybe she’d have taken the time to glance through the paperwork before signing off on it. Then again, maybe civics is just one of those things they don’t teach in Colorado until after the point she decided she had enough book learning.

A warm bucket of spit…

Let me put the bottom line up front: Regardless of your philosophy, neither the Democratic nor Republican Party are your friend. That couldn’t be any clearer than when, 15 minutes after the Supreme Court announced their decision in Dobbs v. Jackson, both parties had fired off fundraising emails to their every-person-whose-name-ever-ended-up-on-one-of-their-mailing-list lists. To be clear, when the country needed leadership, the response from both parties (and many of our individual politicians) was “Hey, send me $15.”

Republicans have, since 1973, stated often and loudly that their goal of undoing Roe v. Wade. The fact they did it once they had the power to do so shouldn’t be shocking. They’ve literally been saying it to anyone who would listen for 50 years. Over that half a century, though, I can’t remember one single serious effort by the Democratic Party to enshrine a woman’s right to choose or bodily autonomy into law. Instead, they relied on the judgement of the court and used Roe as a never-ending fundraising opportunity. 

The Republican Party, stalwart defenders of the Second Amendment, have treated gun rights the same way. Given ample opportunity when controlling the presidency and having majorities in Congress, they inexplicably failed to legislate a national right to carry or even just to refine and expand the law to codify an individual right to self-defense. At every turn, though, Republican politicians have used supporters if the Second Amendment to fill their coffers. 

In their own way Roe and the ambiguity of the Second Amendment were the gifts that kept on giving for politicians who never saw a dollar they didn’t want in their own campaign war chest. Maybe I’m too cynical, but it seems to me that our legacy political parties are far more invested in keeping these marquee issues alive as fundraising platforms than in making sure it doesn’t take just five votes to undo one, or all of our rights.

So, I wish everyone would spare me with all the posts about Democrats rallying to defend the right to choose or Republicans defending the right to carry. Neither party is “fighting for our rights.” They’re fighting for their own self-interest. Plenty of individuals who happen to be Democrats are rallying to the cause of some of our rights while ignoring plenty of others. Plenty of individuals who happen to be Republicans are fighting for some rights while likewise ignoring plenty of others.

As for me, I’ll stand where I always have – shoulder to shoulder with anyone who seeks to advance the cause of liberty. I’ll support all the rights, because I don’t want a single one of them ever left to the whims of mere, feckless politicians. Maybe that’s the difference between me and those who cling to their label as “Democrat” or “Republican.” Our rights, all of them, are wealth beyond value… and our legacy political parties increasingly prove that they’re not worth a warm bucket of spit.

The limit of endorsements…

Although my days of voting in Republican primary elections are over, I don’t suppose I’ll ever stop keeping an eye on them. It was gratifying to read reports last night coming out of Georgia that both the governor and the secretary of state, officials who stood as a bulwark against Donald Trump’s attempt to illegally overturn election results, both won their primary fights against Trump endorsed opponents. It gives me at least a bit of home that even though Donald’s voice remains loud within the party, it may not command the unquestioning obedience that it once did. 

On the other side of the coin, we have utter wackjobs like Marg Green winning her primary in the Georgia 14th. That’s a clear indication that we remain miles and miles away from what anyone could reasonably call “normal,” but it’s a just barely a shuffle in the right direction… even if It’s probably still worrisome that the measure of a candidate is “well, at least this one isn’t crazier than a bed bug.”

Now, having said all that, I don’t mean to imply that any politician anywhere that won their primary yesterday is actually any good. The older I get, the more I hold the opinion that they’re all either useless, self-serving, creeps, crooks, or weirdos. Many of them seem to be all those things simultaneously. It’s a matter of picking through the trash heap in hopes that some of them are very slightly less awful than the others.

What a wreck we’ve made of a perfectly nice republic.