Rachel Maddow has been on FIRE this week. I’ve been a fan of hers since I started listening to her Air America podcasts three years ago. Smart. Funny. Brilliant. Incisive. Genius. Awesome. All of these words describe her well. When she’s on a panel, she’s the smartest person there. When she’s on the radio, she has no peer. When she’s on television, she brings a fresh dose of reality into our living rooms unlike any other pundit or newsperson.
But this week…ah, this week. Rachel Maddow is clearly out to change the way things are in this country right now. Our current trajectory is toward a gridlocked Congress that can accomplish nothing. If that doesn’t change, it won’t matter which party is in power, nothing significant will ever be accomplished ever again.
Rachel Maddow is out to change that trajectory.
First, on Monday, she talked about what “civics literacy tests” really mean. The dog whistle phrase uttered by Tom Tancredo is red meat to racist, xenophobic conservatives but it comes with tremendous baggage and national shame. Maddow unflinchingly pulled back the curtain to show us what it really means. Video is available in Vita Brevis’ Rec Listed diary at the Daily Kos from Tuesday. Here’s a tasty morsel:
But I want you to know first, that this is what it was like. You would head down to the courthouse to register to vote, if you dared. In order to register, you‘d face an exam. It was sometimes called a literacy test, but it wasn‘t testing to determine necessarily if you could read or write. If you were black, the test was designed purely to afford a legalistic veneer of justification for denying you your constitutional right to vote.
The questions weren‘t about ABCs. They were—they were questions like this one, from Alabama‘s literacy test in 1965. If a person charged with treason denies his guilt, how many persons must testify against him before he can be convicted? Do you consider yourself qualified to vote in this country? Can you answer that question?
You want to hear it again? If a person is charged with treason—if a person charged with treason denies his guilt, how many persons must testify against him before he can be convicted?
Or how about this one from the same test: In what year did the Congress gain the right to prohibit the migration of persons to the states? Do you know the answer to that one?
Again, these are from Alabama‘s literacy test in 1965. It was applied selectively, of course, to black voters, to keep them from registering.
If you lived in Georgia in 1958, you would have faced questions like this one: Who is the solicitor general of the state judicial circuit in which you live and who is the judge of such circuit? If such circuit has more than one judge, name them all.
How did you do on that one? Or how about this one: What does the Constitution of Georgia provide regarding the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus?
If you wanted to vote in Georgia in 1958, those are the questions you would have to answer. But, of course, not everyone would face those questions. The board of registrars had the sole authority to determine who got asked which literacy test questions and whose answers to those questions rendered them ineligible to vote.
The idea was that black voters weren‘t being denied the right to vote based on race. That would be illegal. No, those voters just couldn‘t pass this literacy test.
This isn‘t the plot of some Kagzo (ph) Klansman gothic short story. This isn‘t a theoretical for first-year law students. This isn‘t some State Department report on some tin pot dictatorship halfway around the world that we can‘t pronounce.
This is American history. This is really, really recent American history—as in this lifetime for a lot of people American history.
And the opening night speech at the national tea party convention this weekend proposed bringing the literacy test for voting back. And that proposal got a warm round of applause.
Then there was Tuesday. On Tuesday, Ms. Maddow spoke directly to President Obama (with a passing glance at Senate Democratic leaders):
President Obama originally wanted health reform done by august. That did not happen because Max Baucus decided to waste three months chasing bipartisanship in the Senate Finance Committee. Now, Mr. Obama plans to hold a bipartisan health summit in two weeks, which you just heard Senator Wyden talking about. It will be presumably be similar to the bipartisan health summit that Mr. Obama held at the White House last March.
When President Obama addressed House Republicans last month, he rattled off a whole list of ideas taken from Republicans and put into the health reform bill. All of that bipartisan-reaching, all of that eternal optimism has resulted in exactly one Republican vote for health reform in the entire Congress. Congressman Joseph Cao of Louisiana is the only Republican in Washington who voted for health reform, and he now says he won‘t do so again.
It doesn‘t matter what‘s in the bill. It doesn‘t matter which of their ideas you incorporate. Republicans are not going to support this, period.
She then proceeded to eviscerate the stunningly hypocritical GOPosaurs who trash Obama’s programs with one face and then take personal credit for their success with the other. The epic pwning was something to see. You can watch videos of it in ProgressiveLiberal’s Rec Listed diary at the Daily Kos from Wednesday. Highly recommended viewing and the Dems owe Rachel Maddow an enormous debt of gratitude for this opening salvo in the midterm election campaign.
Then came Wednesday when Bill Nye the Science Guy looked into the camera and spoke to climate change deniers the way he normally speaks to children; in calm, direct, easy-to-understand language. He told them this:
MADDOW: Is it consistent to have extreme weather conditions, like big storms, or even seasonally appropriate storms, and to have the kind of climate change that‘s been forecast and discussed by most of the reputable scientists in the world?
NYE: I know what you‘re driving at Rachel. Yes. This would be consistent with such a thing—as is no snow near the city of Vancouver, on Mt. Cypress there. As is the big mudslides we had here in southern California the day before yesterday, and a little bit last night.
There‘s more energy in the atmosphere, and this is stirring things up. If you want to get serious about it, these guys claiming that the snow in Washington disproves climate change are almost unpatriotic. It‘s really they‘re denying science.
So, they‘re very happy to have the weather forecast be accurate within a few hours, but they‘re displeased or un-enchanted by predictions of the world getting warmer. It‘s really—it‘s a—it shakes me up.
You can watch the video at LaughingPlanet’s Rec Listed diary at the Daily Kos from Thursday.
Then finally on Thursday, Rachel Maddow took on the boring meme that is the “filibuster”. This resulted in yet another fourth Maddow-related Rec Listed diary at the Daily Kos from Eileen B on Friday. Watch the video:
The suggestions are flowing in to her website and I have no doubt that once it’s over, we’ll have a snappy, sexy, thought-provoking, meme-evoking reference to the filibuster that Dems can use to pummel the GOPosaurs with.
Four days. Four monumental, nearly historic op-eds by Rachel Maddow. Four Rec Listed diaries at the Daily Kos based on her presentations. We have gridlock in Congress that will never go away unless emperor is told he is naked and it won’t matter if the Democrats or the Republicans are in charge. If anyone doubts that the Democrats will pull this same shit when they are in the minority, they are fooling themselves. The camel’s nose is under the tent and there’s no turning back. Along this trajectory Congress will never recover its ability to lead. Only by changing the trajectory, exposing the lies and hypocrisy and open deception of the American populace that is taking place will this change.
And Rachel Maddow is very clearly and very deliberately taking it upon herself to change that trajectory.
Today she unleashed another salvo but this time on a more mainstream show, Meet the Press.
More pulling back the curtain. More exposing lies and hypocrisy. More plain talk that everybody can understand.
We all owe a debt of gratitude to Rachel Maddow. May she continue doing what she’s doing until the whole country gets it.
Oh, and can I just say there’s one other reason I love Rachel Maddow? It’s because of this:
I’m just sayin’…
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