A pleasant, not-bad late-afternoon Wednesday here in California’s Central Valley — we’re starting a cool-down period for the next few days, dropping into maybe the high 80s tomorrow.
Weather can be nice, but the old restaurant success adage comes to mind: Location, location, location.
And for the right-wing MAGA crowd, the location is actually violence as the go-to, bottom line of our one-sided political scenario nowadays — Republicans led by the nasty, cruel bully-thug T-Rump make the whole stew boil. This afternoon on Newmax, Trump acted the part to the max:
Trump on Jack Smith: He’s like a deranged human being. I watched this guy. I think he’s just a sick guy. He destroyed the lives of many people… He’s like a deranged individual and I think we’re doing very well with that guy. He’s a sick puppy pic.twitter.com/5G6IqducPp
— Acyn (@Acyn) August 10, 2023
This entire cruel, violent effect is picked up by the whole GOP apparatus such as Ron Desantis snarling last week about how he’d take care of federal employees if elected POTUS: ‘“We’re going to start slitting throats on Day 1.”‘
The violence out front.
Paul Waldman at MSNBC this morning brought the violent edge home:
Such rhetoric began with Trump; far-right movements the world over have long valorized violence against foreigners, racial and ethnic out-groups and political opponents. But in modern American politics, Trump took it from the fringe to the mainstream, including the Republican elite.
Running in 2016, he would regularly tell crowds about the brutality he longed to inflict on liberals, particularly protesters. “I’d like to punch him in the face,” he said about one. His supporters thrilled at these threats. “We all want to punch somebody in the face, and he says it for us,” a rally attendee told author Jeff Sharlet at the time.
Trump superfans came to imagine their septuagenarian draft-dodging champion as a wielder of death and destruction. On T-shirts and flags and in countless internet memes, they reconfigure the out-of-shape 77-year-old into a chiseled warrior riding into battle, muscles rippling as he holds a sword or an AR-15 aloft. Other Republicans, seeing Trump receive the kind of adoration they can only dream of, have followed suit in playing to the darkest violent impulses they know their followers harbor.
The audience for conservative media imbibes the rhetoric of violence every day. Michael Savage, one of the most widely heard radio hosts in the country, says that because of LGBTQ acceptance and other perceived left-wing excesses, “I’m willing to pick up arms. I can’t take it anymore.” Right-wing media stars laugh and cheer about violence directed at climate activists. A popular far-right podcaster tells his listeners that if the Founding Fathers were alive today, they would “violently overthrow” the American government.
Meanwhile, it has become de rigueur for right-wing members of Congress to send out Christmas cards with the whole family, even kids barely old enough to tie their own shoes, posing proudly holding military-style rifles. Kyle Rittenhouse, who killed two people at a protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, before he was old enough to vote, was feted at Mar-a-Lago and has given fawning interviews on Fox News. Daniel Penny, charged with manslaughter in the death of Jordan Neely on a New York subway car, is similarly celebrated by right-wing media and Republican politicians.
When this is what rank-and-file conservatives hear day after day, hour after hour, are we supposed to be surprised when the fantasy of violence turns into actual violence?
Jan. 6, 2021, wasn’t an aberration; it was the natural response to everything Trump’s supporters had been told in the days and months before — and are still being told to this day. They’re sent a constant stream of messages about the worthiness of violence committed on behalf of their worldview and their values. And they’re told just as often that the American political and governmental systems are broken almost beyond repair
An off-shoot of this horrible bullshit ended badly, though, mostly correctly this morning in Utah (NYT): ‘An F.B.I. agent on Wednesday fatally shot a man in Provo, Utah, who officials said was armed and had threatened to assassinate President Biden just hours before the president was scheduled to speak in nearby Salt Lake City.‘
The guy was being served a warrant. The story is part-n-parcel on the violent divide in America.
Deep-seated scary part of the FBI shooting story comes — via the Guardian this afternoon:
Wednesday’s incident (in Utah) comes amid a rise in political violence across the country over the years, a threat which experts warn endangers the health of America’s democracy.
In a report released by the Public Religion Research Institute and Brookings Institution in February, researchers found that 12% of the people who supported political violence indicated that they have personally threatened to use or actually used a gun, knife or other weapon on someone in the past few years.
There have also been other incidents of those threatening political figures with violence in recent months. In January, a dual citizen of France and Canada pleaded guilty to mailing ricin to former president Donald Trump. Meanwhile, in June, a New Hampshire man was arrested and charged with threatening to kill an unnamed US senator.
According to a recent University of Chicago survey shared with the Guardian last month, the number of Americans who believe the use of force is justified to restore Trump as president increased by roughly 6 million in the last few months to an estimated 18 million people.
Slitting an over-ripe orange, or not, yet here we are once again…
(Illustration out front: Salvador Dali’s ‘Tête Raphaëlesque éclatée [Exploding Raphaelesque Head],’ found here.)