Between the Indiana legislature and the lunatic caucus in Congress, I’m increasingly reluctant to read the news these days. I scan the headlines and I force myself to read the articles I really need to see, but the process gets more difficult every day.
The Indiana legislature is ignoring most of the actual work they are elected to do, in favor of protecting gun manufacturers (they’re on the way to passing a measure that would void Gary’s lawsuit against those companies) and ignoring child safety (they deep-sixed measures that would have required parents to store weapons safely); they’re doubling down on their war against Indianapolis (they’re halfway to revoking a measure passed just last year that allowed the Ciity-County Council to tax our downtown, because the Council had the nerve to actually do so, and it’s in the process of substituting the “wisdom” of our legislative overlords for the desires of the 70 percent of Indianapolis residents who voted for public transit.)
And just for good measure, the legislature has reminded citizens that the prejudices and ignorance of the self-satisfied super-majority are more important than whatever Hoosier voters might prefer: among other things, it refused to extend Indiana’s shortest-in-the-nation voting day, and refused to approve a non-binding ballot measure asking voters if we might want the ability to mount initiatives–a right voters in other states enjoy. Don’t want anything disturbing their gerrymandered power!
And then there’s Congress, which is in thrall to the most ignorant and dangerous fringe of the ignorant and dangerous cult that used to be a political party.
The House looks increasingly likely to reject a hard-won bipartisan immigration agreement negotiated in the Senate– even before they know what is in it, and even though it reportedly gives the GOP measures they have long claimed to want–because Republicans want to run for re-election on the issue. Desperately needed aid to Ukraine is contingent on passage of that agreement.
American politicians used to take pride in the fact that partisanship stopped at the water’s edge–that foreign policy was approached in a nation over party manner. If Russia wins its war of aggression against Ukraine, the balance of power in the world will shift, and not in our favor–and Republicans don’t care.
With Ukraine in the balance, with the world dangerously close to widening war in the Middle East, what are Indiana’s GOP Congressmen doing? Well, Jim Banks has moved forcefully into the breach–he’s demanding that the City of Carmel terminate its sister city relationship with Xiangyang, China. Showing his foreign policy chops!!
Banks has long been a member of what the New York Times calls the “wrecking ball” Congress, echoing the nutty conspiracy theories and endorsing the White Christian Nationalism of the fringe of the fringe. And that lunatic fringe just gets crazier by the day.
If you think calling the Right crazy is unfair, allow me to share one news item making the rounds: Taylor Swift is an operative of the deep state.
As Philip Bump writes,
There are lots of manifestations of this, including multiple presentations on the right’s preferred cable news channel. The iteration that attracted perhaps the most attention, though, came from former presidential candidate and Donald Trump cheerleader Vivek Ramaswamy (speaking of people who suddenly emerged in the public consciousness to polarizing effect).
In a social media post, a prominent right-wing conspiracy theorist linked Swift to … let’s see here … ah yes, George Soros. In response, Ramaswamy offered a prediction.
“I wonder who’s going to win the Super Bowl next month,” he wrote. “And I wonder if there’s a major presidential endorsement coming from an artificially culturally propped-up couple this fall. Just some wild speculation over here, let’s see how it ages over the next 8 months.”
The implication (again: forgive my telling you something obvious) is that the Chiefs are being ushered to the Super Bowl … somehow … to secure Swift’s endorsement for President Biden….
How would this work? Did the Baltimore Ravens take a dive? Did someone pay them? Are they just that committed to Democratic politics that they all agreed to lose? Did the Buffalo Bills before them? And the Miami Dolphins before the Bills? Or does the government have some Havana-Syndrome-esque device that it trains on opponents, causing field goals to go wide right? What’s the mechanism, exactly?
There will be a lot of important things decided by November’s ballots, including the future of reproductive rights and American democracy. It appears we will also decide between sanity and lunacy–between reality and a world in which terminating a sister city relationship is the conduct of foreign policy and Taylor Swift is an election psyop.