Never Trumpers struggle with facts. Plus: Masks thankfully going. And, a Johnny Cash mystery.

By Gary Abernathy

Never Trumpers have tough time making factual case

As mentioned a few days ago, some disgruntled Republicans and former Republicans recently co-authored a Washington Post piece urging Americans to join them in a new “alliance.” Among their arguments is that after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, some Republicans grew concerned and “many have since left.” That’s followed by this line: “The GOP has effectively become a privileged third party, ranking behind independents and Democrats in voter registration.”

Their implication is that Donald Trump and, especially, the Jan. 6 riot was to blame for the Republican Party falling behind independents in voter registration.

But the “ranking behind” link they provide shows how -- let’s try to put it nicely -- manipulative their argument is. It’s a link to a Post story from February 2020 – long before the Capitol riot -- reporting that, indeed, “For the first time in history, there are more registered independents in the United States than there are registered Republicans.” But the very next line adds, “It may not be for the reason you think, though.”

Later, the story noted, “While independents have surpassed Republicans, there actually hasn’t been a huge drop in GOP party registration since President Trump took office. Since October 2016, GOP registration has dropped by half a percentage point. The number of registered Democrats declined by nearly a full point over the same span. Independents have benefited from both drops. And they have been doing so for years.”

The story added that outside of statistics measuring actual registered voters, which is determined by different standards in different states, how people self-identify paints a much different picture.

“When you ask people in all 50 states to self-identify, independents do significantly better, and Democrats do significantly worse,” the story reported, adding, “the most recent Gallup data shows that 42 percent of people identify as independents, and more identify as Republican than Democrat, 30 percent to 27 percent.”

So, to make their argument that Trump is killing the GOP, the authors link to a story more than a year old that clearly states that isn’t the case. When I say “clearly states,” that’s what I mean, as in this example: “On the whole, surveys of all 50 states and the new party registration data from Ballot Access News indicate that Trump’s presidency hasn’t shifted the future of party registration in the United States in any major way.”

Trump’s refusal to accept defeat and his part in instigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot were shameful. But his overall rise to prominence and his presidency did not destroy the Republican Party, as Never Trumpers have long tried to argue. It merely sounded the death knell for their wing of it, which the GOP grassroots had been growing more ambivalent about anyway — long before Trump came along to give them a new voice.

Stores starting to drop mask requirements

Stores are, thankfully, lining up to drop mask requirements for vaccinated customers on the heels of the CDC finally saying it’s ok last week. The honor system is at play, so no one is really checking or requiring proof of vaccines. It’s like America has returned, and freedom is back. Let’s hope it lasts.

Was Johnny Cash’s first wife black? A fascinating tale…

As a fan of all those guys who started at Sun Records in Memphis – Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Charlie Rich – I thought I knew most of the big stories, tragedies or controversies involving all of them. But the Washington Post has one on Cash that I never heard before, regarding attacks on him in the mid-1960s for being married to a woman who was alleged to be black.

As the Post notes after Cash made a court appearance on a drug charge in 1965, “As (Cash’s wife) Vivian stood with Cash in front of the federal courthouse, wrapped in a dark coat, her eyes downcast beneath her bouffant hairdo, a newspaper photographer snapped a picture. In the image, Vivian, whose father was of Sicilian heritage and whose mother was said to be of German and Irish descent, appeared to be Black.”

Cash denied it at the time and tried to prove otherwise, but as it turns out, she indeed had African American heritage, from her maternal great-great grandmother, as revealed by recent DNA testing thanks to Johnny and Vivian’s daughter, country singer Roseanne Cash.

As the Post reports, “Earlier this year, the mystery of whether Vivian was descended in part from Africans was finally resolved. In a February episode of the PBS show, ‘Finding Your Roots,’ host and historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. presented Rosanne Cash with her DNA results and family genealogy. Vivian Cash’s maternal great-great grandmother was indeed an enslaved Black woman, Sarah Shields, whose White father in 1848 had granted her and her eight siblings their freedom and their passage into Whiteness, too. Shields married a White man — albeit illegally — and by the time Jim Crow arrived in the 1930s all of her children and their descendants were listed as White. ‘That’s likely why to this day, many of her direct descendants have no idea that they have any African American ancestry,’ Gates said.”

This fact was so lost to history, and its significance so downplayed, that in the popular 2005 Cash biopic, “Walk the Line,” starring Joaquin Phoenix, Vivian was played by Ginnifer Goodwin, a white actress.

Read the fascinating details here. A subscription may be required, but it will be worth it.

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