Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Marco Rubio's Caramel Macchiato

I don't actually do avocado toast at breakfast, because I'm on a three-year yogurt-and-granola binge, and when I take a break from yogurt-and-granola I kind of need bacon, while the rhythm of avocado buying leaves me helplessly making guacamole but really? There's something objectionable in avocado toast? Photo via.

Avocado Toast

By Senator Marco Rubio

Last week, the Vice President of the United States told us that a riot which happened here at the U.S. Capitol last year was equal to the day on which Japan attacked us at Pearl Harbor and the U.S. was pulled into a world war that took the lives of 3% of the world's population.

Actually, vice president Harris did not say that. She said,

Certain dates echo throughout history, including dates that instantly remind all who have lived through them where they were, and what they were doing, when our democracy came under assault. Dates that occupy not only a place on our calendars, but a place in our collective memory: December 7th, 1941, September 11th, 2001, and January 6th, 2021.  
That does sound like a suggestion that the 6 January date might "live in infamy", like December 7th and 9/11, and I could add November 22 (after the killing of President John F, Kennedy), or for that matter 8 December 1980 (after the murder of John Lennon), one of the dates you always remember. That is not the same thing. The 9/11 terrorist attack did not lead to the deaths of 3% of the world's population, for instance, but that doesn't mean we don't remember it. Neither did the Pearl Harbor attack, for that matter; the deaths of 3% of the world's population probably go back to 1 September 1939 and the invasion of Poland, which most of us don't remember at all, though we probably should. 

What happened to Americans on December 7th that everybody remembers (in Singapore and Malaysia it's December 8th, when Japanese troops on bicycles invaded the peninsula) is the epiphany that, as people said at the time, "there's a war on", in which we were going to have to take sides, much as some people hoped not to. What happened on 9/11 was the epiphanic realization that we were vulnerable, to exotic enemies we didn't yet understand at all. What we realized on 6 January, which actually is the Feast of the Epiphany (the visit of the three Persian astronomers to the manger in which Jesus had been born), some of us, what I realized, most comparable to 19 April 1995 (a date I don't in fact remember, but I should, the day of the terrorist attack on the federal building in Oklahoma City) was that it really was democracy, specifically, that was under assault—that a lot of people had decided that the election of a liberal as president was not a legitimate election and could and should be violently overturned, that there were Americans like Chileans or Argentines or Thais or Burmese or the Spaniards of the 1930s, who were willing to toss the system out entirely, "right here in River City" as they say, and that there were powerful forces aligned with them.

Marco Rubio even seemed to understand it at some practical level on the evening of 6 January, too timid to admit that it was wrong for congressional Republicans to vote to reject the 2020 presidential election results, but worried that it might be bad optics for them to look as if they were siding with the rioters who'd rampaged through the Capitol that day, screaming for the execution of the congressional leadership and beating up police officers:

Several of my colleagues have adopted the idea, and I respect it, that they’re going to object. Now listen, it’s important to understand something, even the people objecting in the Senate recognize that it’s not going to pass. It’s not going to change the outcome, but it’s going to send a message and it’s going to make a point. The problem is, I think it’s a terrible idea at this moment.... We have police officers, the men and women that we walk by every single day, that guard the doors and we say hello to, out there with riot gear getting spit on and attacked, today, not ten weeks ago, just a few hours ago.
But for Rubio on 12 January this year, 
… first of all, I think almost everyone would tell you that what happened on January 6th here was a terrible thing. It should never have happened and it should never happen again. But I don’t care how many candlelight vigils and musical performances you have from the cast of Hamilton, you’re not going to convince at least most normal and sane people that our government was almost overthrown last year by a guy wearing a Viking hat and Speedos.
It was a terrible thing that should never again happen, but it really wasn't serious at all, if you are normal and sane. Normal and sane people know it was basically that guy in the animal skins.

The theme of abnormal and insane people defined by their brand choices gets amplified later in the speech:

If your daily routine is to wake up in the morning and turn on MSNBC as you ride your Peloton, and then go on Twitter as you’re drinking your caramel macchiato, and then you’re reading the New York Times and as you’re eating your avocado toast, I imagine all of this makes perfect sense to you.

Rubio told Health Fitness Revolution (which named him America's Fittest Senator in 2020) that he does an hour (cardio and resistance) every morning himself, but didn't divulge what cardio equipment he prefers. We know he used a stationary bike in the Senate gym in 2015. I can't find any information on his favorite Starbucks order, but he was spotted breakfasting on blueberry pancakes with blueberry syrup at a Cracker Barrel in February 2016, after he chipped a molar on a Twix bar and his dentist advised him to stick to soft foods for a while. He definitely spends a lot of time on Twitter. The avocado toast reference suggests his real beef is with people who are younger than he is. Sorry, Marco, that's just not attractive.
And yesterday, we were treated to the President telling us that election laws that have been passed by various states across the country over the past year are the equivalent of the segregation that existed in America in the 1950s, 1960s, and before.

That was wrong too. Biden referred to the sudden rash of 34 bills passed in 19 states designed to make voting more difficult and 400 more bills including some intended to give state legislatures power to overrule votes as "Jim Crow 2.0", but you have to remember that Jim Crow 1.0 had more aspects than just segregation; especially lynch law enabling white vigilantes to dispense harsh extrajudicial justice and the disenfranchisement of Black voters, beginning from 1876 and sort of ending, but not quite, with the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Biden's speech put it quite clearly:

Their endgame?  To turn the will of the voters into a mere suggestion — something states can respect or ignore.

Jim Crow 2.0 is about two insidious things: voter suppression and election subversion.  It’s no longer about who gets to vote; it’s about making it harder to vote.  It’s about who gets to count the vote and whether your vote counts at all.
And made a more significant comparison, in my opinion, that Rubio would like to ignore:
Look, this matters to all of us.  The goal of the former president and his allies is to disenfranchise anyone who votes against them.  Simple as that.  The facts won’t matter; your vote won’t matter.  They’ll just decide what they want and then do it.
That’s the kind of power you see in totalitarian states, not in democracies.

Rubio's purpose in all this dismissal, Peloton, caramel macchiato, and all, is the ignoring: to deny the incontrovertible facts (and presumably to make himself a more plausible presidential candidate in 2024). The swimsuit shaman wasn't the leader of the 6 January Capitol invasion—it was led from inside the building by the newly indicted Oath Keepers and outside the building by Stewart Rhodes on orders from Trump intimates like Stone and Jones, doing what they could to satisfy the desires of Donald J. Trump, along with other flunkies like Rudolph Giuliani working other avenues of approach, to seek ways over overturning the 2020 presidential election. That was their aim, as Marco knows, and as the House January 6 Committee and the FBI investigation are plainly establishing, in the context of a wider conservative effort to remake the law into what Biden calls "Jim Crow 2.0", an effort to inhibit certainly people Black and/or young from voting, and he'd just rather you stopped talking about that, Let's just laugh at exotic coffee orders and exercise equipment attached to televisions (are they really watching Morning Joe?—that's depressing).

The wider effort being not Donald J. Trump's but that of the conservative movement, which has always held that voting is not a right but an earned privilege, in opposition to the national consensus achieved in the 1806s and the 14th and 15th Amendments, whether the rationale was a sober-sounding assessment that all the problems have already been solved, as Kevin Kruse explained,

When the Voting Rights Act came up for its original reauthorization in 1970, for instance, the Nixon administration was torn on how to handle it. Nixon had rolled back his earlier support for civil rights legislation during his 1968 campaign. As president, he insisted no new measures were needed because, as he put it in his inaugural address, “the laws have caught up with our conscience.”

or through an open admission that universal suffrage was generally damaging for their cause:

For their part, conservative activists outside the government remained blunt in their opinion that voting rights harmed the conservative agenda. Paul Weyrich, a key architect of the New Right and a co-founder of the Heritage Foundation, put it bluntly in 1980 when he told a rally of religious conservatives: “I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

As I keep saying, the purpose of political conservatism in the two and a half centuries and change since the 1770s ends up being the attempt to end democracy through democratic means, by constructing an artificial majority supporting minority rule by the already privileged. What's new in the Trumpery is just how naked it is, as upper-income voters in rural state get more and more ready to go with that. What we have been witnessing since November 2016 is an attack on democracy like none we've ever seen, and everything Marco Rubio says is designed to deny it.

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