Friday, September 17, 2021

YOU CLAIM YOU'RE AGAINST INFECTION, YET NOW YOU SAY YOU SUPPORT TREATING INFECTION!

Charles C.W. Cooke's National Review post "Ron DeSantis Was Right About Monoclonal-Antibody Therapy" is as bad as you'd imagine:
Two months ago, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida was being roundly castigated for promoting the use of Regeneron’s monoclonal-antibody treatment as part of his state’s efforts to fight COVID-19. Desperate to find something sinister in the push, DeSantis’s critics threw out every charge they could dream up. At first, the line was that Regeneron’s treatment didn’t work. Then, it was that Regeneron’s treatment worked fine, but represented a dangerous distraction from the vaccine. And, finally, it was that Regeneron’s treatment was part of a corrupt plot to enrich DeSantis’s donors.

Today, we learn from the Washington Post that, actually, none of that was the problem. Instead, DeSantis’s sin is that he has been relying upon monoclonal-antibody treatment too much, and that this is unfair to other states that now need it.

What a difference eight weeks make.
"What a difference eight weeks make," Cooke writes. Did the evil libs say in the past eight weeks that monoclonal antibodies aren't effective on COVID? Not according to Cooke's own link, which goes to a New Republic article from last October that doesn't mention DeSantis at all. (It's about Donald Trump's recovery from COVID.) Cooke has a point about the story that linked DeSantis's support of this treatment to a major donor who was said to be deeply invested in Regeneron -- as PolitiFact and others have since pointed out, the donor's firm isn't a major investor in the company. But while that story regrettably still circulates, it's irrelevant to the main point: Yes, Regeneron’s treatment works, but describing it as "the best thing we can do to reduce the number of people who require hospitalization" and "the best shot we’ve got right now to keep people out of the hospital and keep them safe" -- as DeSantis has done, despite the existence of a vaccine that actually is "the best shot we’ve got right now to keep people out of the hospital and keep them safe" -- absolutely is "a dangerous distraction from the vaccine."

DeSantis set out to turn Florida into the Regeneron State, proudly promoting new sites where monoclonal antibody treatments are available. That's nuts, as doctors who are sneeringly quoted by Cooke make clear:
... Dr. Christian Ramers, an infectious-disease specialist at Family Health Centers of San Diego ... proposed that promoting Regeneron’s treatment was “a backwards strategy.” “It’s so much better to prevent a disease than to use an expensive, cumbersome and difficult-to-use therapy,” Ramers submitted. “It does not make any medical sense to lean into monoclonals to the detriment of vaccines. It’s like playing defense with no offense.”
Yup.

But, Cooke says, DeSantis has no choice! He's trapped in a world he never made!
Yes, in an ideal world, all Americans who are able would go and get vaccinated. But we do not live in an ideal world. We live in a free country, and for whatever reason, a considerable number of people in this free country of ours are just not going to do what [pro-vaccine doctors] want them to do. As a result, our various governments have been faced with a choice. They can either (a) throw their hands up and say, “Well, if you won’t get vaccinated, I guess we’ll just watch you die,” or (b) accept reality and say, “Okay, bad decision, but I guess we’ll try to help you some other way.” From the moment that monoclonal-antibody treatment became a viable option, Governor DeSantis and others chose this second course of action.
Yes, Cooke actually wrote that Floridians aren't getting vaccinated "for whatever reason." It's an unsolvable mystery! It couldn't possibly have anything to do with the fact that DeSantis signed a law preventing private businesses from requiring that customers be vaccinated, threatens to fine cities and counties that insist on vaccinated employees, and sells beer koozies and T-shirts attacking the most prominent advocate of vaccines, Dr. Anthony Fauci, could it? You don't suppose maybe he's reinforcing the notion that vaccines are bad, do you?

Yes, we need vaccines and treatments. No, the treatments shouldn't go overwhelmingly to states where the government expresses contempt for vaccines, while saying that treatments in limited supply should be mass-distributed because they're an awesome way to own the libs.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

PRO-CORPORATE DEMOCRATS WANT FELLOW DEMOCRATS TO LOSE

Yesterday, a HuffPost story dispelled a myth about many of the corporatist Democrats who are blocking the Biden agenda:
From prescription drug prices to higher taxes on the rich, many of the Democrats in the House standing in the way of more progressive legislation hail from safe Democratic seats.
An example:
Reps. Scott Peters (Calif.), Kurt Schrader (Ore.), and Kathleen Rice (N.Y.), members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, joined Republicans to block the prescription drug price negotiation bill from advancing out of committee.

... In addition to Rice, Peters and Schrader, Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D- Fla.) voted against the prescription-drug provisions on the Ways and Means Committee and Rep. Lou Correa (Calif.) also has deep reservations about the measures, according to a Politico report on Tuesday.

... none of those five Democrats was reelected by a narrow margin in 2020 or is included on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s list of vulnerable “frontline” members.
The Democrats who are actually at risk of losing their seats in 2020 generally want to pass this bill.
In fact, “frontline” Democrats are among those who have urged party leadership to pass a strong drug price negotiation bill, precisely because they see it as key to their reelection prospects....

Drug price negotiation is a popular Democratic priority aimed at correcting a giveaway to Big Pharma in 2003 that barred the federal government from negotiating prices as it does for the Veterans Affairs health care system.
The obstructionists aren't trying to save their own seats -- and it sure looks as if they're trying to defeat their fellow Democrats. Their corporate paymasters not only want to defeat popular provisions that would make them slightly less rich, they want Democrats to lose their majorities in the House and Senate, which would ensure that passage of these pesky bills that would do good things for ordinary people won't even be a remote possibility.

It's no surprise that plutocrats want Republicans in power -- but let's remember that their Democratic puppets appear to want Republicans in power, too.

THERE ISN'T MUCH DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BLAMING VOTER FRAUD AND BLAMING PEOPLE WHO BLAME VOTER FRAUD

I'll acknowledge that Republican critics of "voter fraud" trutherism are somewhat more reality-based than their Trumpian party-mates...
Recall candidate Larry Elder – with an assist from former President Donald Trump – depressed GOP turnout in California’s recall race by raising the prospect of voter fraud before the election, a Republican consultant said Wednesday....

Ron Nehring, a former chair of the California GOP ... pointed to a page on Elder’s website that, prior to the election, presumed that Newsom won the recall because of an influx of voter fraud.... Nehring said such a suggestion was “astonishing” and discouraged Republicans from voting....

“We can’t have an evidence-based party if we are bull-----ing people in advance that this election was stolen when it was not,” Nehring said Wednesday. “One way not to have Republicans win is by telling Republican voters that their votes don’t matter.... Lying to Republicans claiming an election was stolen, before a single vote or result had been published, is grossly irresponsible.”
It's nice that Nehring doesn't believe elections are routinely stolen by Democrats, but both he and the people crying "Fraud!" are arriving at the same conclusion: Newsom didn't really win. The Trump/Elder contingent thinks millions of ballots were cast illegally. People like Nehring think the recall vote would have been significantly tighter -- and might even have been a defeat for the governor, rather than a lansdlide victory -- if the Trumpers hadn't suggests that GOP votes are worthless. Both sides are downplaying Newsom's big win.

I'm a skeptic about the suppression theory. In California's 2018 gubernatorial race, 12,464,235 votes were cast. NBC News says that in the recall election, 9,193,157 votes have been counted -- 71% of the expected total, which NBC estimates will be 13,000,000, slightly more than were cast in 2018. The New York Times has a vote total of 9,223,250 and says it's 74% of the expected total -- which means the Times expects 12,463,851 votes to be cast, about the same number as in 2018.

If the recall turnout is nearly as high as the turnout in the last regularly scheduled California gubernatorial election, where are all the GOP voters who would have voted but concluded that the election was rigged, so they stayed home?

The myth of massive, widespread Democratic voter fraud now gives Republicans two ways of downplaying Democratic victories. One way is saner than the other. But I don't believe either one.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

THAT'S NOT ENTERTAINMENT

In a California recall post-mortem, Charlie Sykes quotes an Election Eve column by Clay Risen of The New York Times:
The election ... represented the ascendancy (and vulnerability) of the entertainment wing of the GOP. As Risen noted:
[Larry] Elder isn’t a serious politician; he’s running not to win, but to raise his media profile. But that very fact says something about today’s Republican Party. Many of its highest-profile figures blur the line between politician and celebrity, and act accordingly, even if their success as the latter undermines what we expect out of the former. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Madison Cawthorn — and, yes, Larry Elder — are only nominally politicians. In substance, they’re entertainers.
I don't agree with that characterization.

It's true that Greene and Cawthorn (and their evil triplet, Lauren Boebert) aren't exactly legislators; they don't try very hard to write, negotiate, and pass bills. But calling them "entertainers" suggests that they're nothing more than harmless fillers of their fans' leisure time. That's not what they are.

They're actually grievance encouragers. Their job is to validate their supporters' anger, and to give them new reasons to feel angry. That's also the job of talk radio hosts like Elder.

This isn't like watching Netflix. It serves a political purpose: keeping supporters and listeners angry, primarily at Democrats. The Republican Party benefits because these people will never, ever vote for a Democrat no matter how little they get from the GOP, because the grievance encouragers have made clear to them that Democrats embody all the evil in America. It seems like entertainment to Risen because the Republican base clearly enjoys having its grievances encouraged. But the base responds to grievance like a drug, craving a greater and greater dose. The more that's consumed, the angrier the base gets at Democrats.

Risen says that Elder ran "not to win, but to raise his media profile" -- something that's also been said about Trump in 2016. Trump primarily earned his living as an entertainer for many years before he became a grievance encourager on Fox & Friends, his stepping stone to the presidency. He made his half of America angrier and did other very dangerous and destructive things as president. He's still doing them as a grievance encourager today.

When you encourage Republican voters' grievances the way these people do, you make it seem reasonable to suppress the votes of Democrats, or even overturn elections Democrats win. The Republican Party -- and the billionaires who back it -- benefit greatly from that. It's not fun and games.

FEDERALIST: IT CAN'T BE DEMOCRACY IF OUR SIDE LOSES

California governor Gavin Newsom easily survived a recall effort yesterday, and The Federalist knows what that means: There is no democracy in California.
Frustrated California voters may have lost the battle to recall Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sept. 14, but the war to unseat him in 2022 is just beginning.
Actually, California voters -- the vast majority of them, at least -- didn't want Newsom recalled, so they won the battle. That's how democracy works, or at least how it's supposed to work. But The Federalist doesn't consider pro-Newsom voters to be voters.
Multiple outlets officially called the referendum on removing the governor a failure on Tuesday night, less than one hour after polls closed.
Yes. That's how election analysts work -- they look at returns, they study exit polls, they see what's going on in key precincts, and they call elections. Hours later, is there any reason to doubt that call?
Los Angeles GOP executive board member Julie Haff told The Federalist that even though results indicate the governor will keep his seat, Newsom’s trust in his track record clearly faltered in a way passionate voters can still use.

“If he was so confident in the job that he’s doing, why did he need to have millions and millions of dollars spent on this? Why does he have to have [President Joe] Biden, [Vice President Kamala] Harris, and others come in and help rally for him? He should be able to stand the job he’s doing and feel confident with the job he’s doing,” Haff said.
Translation: Yeah, Newsom won, but only because he campaigned. That's cheating!
On election day, Newsom, “who outraised his gubernatorial opponents by millions, lamented how the GOP is “literally trying to dismantle democracy.”
And he raised money, too! That's double cheating!
Chairman of the Conservative Party of California Jon Matthews ... who moved to California in 1959, said the state has changed and it’s up to voters to change it back.

“It was the most Republican state in the union when I moved out here, and it has turned into the exact opposite,” he said. “And it’s only because of the apathy that has settled in so many voters...."
Actually, California wasn't the most Republican state in the union in 1959. Its delegation in the House of Representatives was 17 Republicans and 13 Democrats -- a GOP lean, but hardly a massive one. (By contrast, Connecticut, Delaware, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Utah, Vermont, and Wyoming all had House delegations that were entirely Republican.) And in the 1960 presidential election, Richard Nixon beat John F. Kennedy by just half a percentage point in California -- even though it was Nixon's home state.
[Larry] Elder is clearly a fan favorite among Californians hoping to unseat Newsom. The state’s passion for the Republican broadcaster, Matthews said, should be harnessed for the 2022 gubernatorial election.

“If we can get the governor and get the secretary of state out, those are the only two people we need to change in California to turn things around,” Matthews said.
That's ... um, a tall order. But why does Matthews believe that electing a GOP governor and secretary of state would begin a new golden age of Republicanism in California? Doesn't the state also have an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature?

Oh, right, I forgot: Matthews is assuming that control of the secretary of state's office (in addition to the governor's office) means controlling all future elections. Because it can't really be democracy if Democrats win at the polls, can it?

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

YOU KNOW THAT ALL THE WINGNUTS IN AMERICA THINK THEIR WORST SUSPICIONS HAVE BEEN CONFIRMED, RIGHT?

I'm sure you think this was a perfectly reasonable judgment call:
Two days after the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, President Donald Trump's top military adviser, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, single-handedly took top-secret action to limit Trump from potentially ordering a dangerous military strike or launching nuclear weapons, according to "Peril," a new book by legendary journalist Bob Woodward and veteran Washington Post reporter Robert Costa.

Woodward and Costa write that Milley, deeply shaken by the assault, 'was certain that Trump had gone into a serious mental decline in the aftermath of the election, with Trump now all but manic, screaming at officials and constructing his own alternate reality about endless election conspiracies.'

... Speaking to senior military officials in charge of the National Military Command Center, the Pentagon's war room, Milley instructed them not to take orders from anyone unless he was involved.

"No matter what you are told, you do the procedure. You do the process. And I'm part of that procedure," Milley told the officers, according to the book. He then went around the room, looked each officer in the eye, and asked them to verbally confirm they understood.
Milley was worried about an attack on China -- so much so that he reassured the Chinese twice that no attack was imminent:
In a pair of secret phone calls, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, assured his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army, that the United States would not strike, according to a new book by Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward and national political reporter Robert Costa.

One call took place on Oct. 30, 2020, four days before the election that unseated President Donald Trump, and the other on Jan. 8, 2021, two days after the Capitol siege carried out by his supporters in a quest to cancel the vote.

The first call was prompted by Milley’s review of intelligence suggesting the Chinese believed the United States was preparing to attack. That belief, the authors write, was based on tensions over military exercises in the South China Sea, and deepened by Trump’s belligerent rhetoric toward China....

In the book’s account, Milley went so far as to pledge he would alert his counterpart in the event of a U.S. attack, stressing the rapport they’d established through a backchannel.
The president is the commander in chief of the armed forces, although the Constitution is not a suicide pact -- Milley was right to want to prevent a war with a nuclear power.

But I think he misjudged Trump. Trump didn't seem crazier after the election than he was before the polls closed -- he's always seemed like a rage-driven narcissist with no human feelings for anyone except his daughter and a small group of people (mostly fellow evildoers) who exist at the alpha level where he imagines himself to reside. I don't believe he would have bombed China because, for all his nasty talk, he wants to be liked by dictators such as Xi Jinping. Also, he seemed oddly averse to war throughout his presidency. Did he just not want to share the spotlight with the troops? Did he fear that it would be too hard for him to fake an understanding of whatever war he started?

Whatever his motives, I think he was unlikely to drop a bomb on a foreign enemy under the circumstances -- one important reason being that the people he truly hates are his domestic enemies. (This is something he has in common with most American rank-and-file right-wingers: They hate everyone in America who's not a white conservative, and they also hate black and brown people globally. American non-conservatives -- white liberals as well as most of the country's black and brown people -- are their top enemies.)

General Milley's efforts to prevent the president from doing something rash and irreversible seem understandable (and reminiscent of the last days of Nixon) -- but to your right-wing relatives, what Woodward and Costa are reporting just confirms everything they've suspected throughout Trump's time in politics: that a globalist Deep State exists, that it spent the years of Trump's presidency seeking to thwart everything he tried to do, and that this cabal cares more about China than it does about America.

Marco Rubio has already called on President Biden to fire General Milley, but that's mild compare to what's coming: Within the next 48 hours, I guarantee that at least one or two high-profile Republican will suggest that the general should be tried on treason charges, and possibly executed. (In Ohio, the question is which Republican Senate candidate will say something like this first, Josh Mandel or J.D. Vance.)

The right already blames what it calls the "woke military" for the triumph of the Taliban -- and now we learn this. I don't know where this is going to lead, but I fear the critics of the generals, not the generals. Thry won't take this lightly.

LARRY ELDER WEBSITE: WE DON'T WANT TO SHOOT ANYONE IF WE DON'T LIKE THE RECALL RESULTS, BUT WE MIGHT HAVE TO

Today is Election Day in California, and polls show that Governor Gavin Newsom is unlikely to be recalled. But the candidate who's expected to be the top vote-getter among the replacement candidates, Republican talk-show host Larry Elder, has preemptively declared that his near-inevitable loss will be the result of fraud. He's put up a website, StopCaFraud.com, that offers the kind of pseudoscientific bushwa the right is inordinately fond of these days. Ed Kilgore writes:
The site ... avers that with respect to the fraud claims, its “primary analytical tool used was Benford’s Law.” This, as aficionados of the Big Lie probably know, is a statistical theorem involving the likelihood of certain numerals in random displays of numbers. Experts on Benford’s Law have repeatedly and heatedly and redundantly objected to its use to “prove” fraud in election returns.
But you have to scroll down a bit before you get to the part about Benford's Law. First, there's this:
They say that in America, there are four boxes of liberty. The soapbox, the ballot box, the jury box, and the ammo box. When we vote we exercise our rights as Californians and as Americans to make our voices heard via the ballot box, having listened to others make theirs heard through the soapbox. We trust in our elected officials to safeguard that ballot box, such that its results will truly reflect our will as Californian’s. However, when those officials, either through laziness or incompetence, allow thieves to steal amidst the dead of night and cheat our ballot box, we can no longer rely on its contents. Will we now have to fight the California jury box, in the hope that the final box — the one most akin to Pandora’s – remains closed?
In other words: I'd better be declared the winner, either immediately after the votes are counted or after I sue to overturn Newsom's victory, because you really don't want my supporters to have to shoot anyone to give me my rightful win, do you? It would be very unfortunate if they felt compelled to do that.

But the pro-Elder forces might do something besides sue in order to prevent the violent insurrection they say they're so worried about.
If the recall election advances to an audit, we must not permit county officials who may or may not have contributed to these discrepancies to conduct the recount themselves instead of allowing independent groups under state control to conduct the recount. Allowing this is tantamount to allowing an alleged criminal to examine the crime scene, or negligent workers at the site of an industrial accident. It is nonsensical.
They want an independent audit, like the endless one that's taking place in neighboring Arizona, and like the ones they're demanding in every state Joe Biden won by less than a landslide. They want their crackpots to come in and re-count the votes, while searching for evidence of bamboo paper in the ballots and remote vote-switching by defense contractors in Italy.

But California's legislature is Democratic, so they won't get an audit approved. I guess that means that after the lawsuits fail, we go straight to the shooting -- or at least to a widespread belief among Republicans in California and elsewhere that shooting would certainly be justified.

Monday, September 13, 2021

REPUBLICANS DON'T BELIEVE CALIFORNIA IS REALLY A DEMOCRATIC STATE (AND WERE SKEPTICS EVEN BEFORE TRUMP)

Nick Corasaniti of The New York Times notices that Republicans aren't even waiting for the votes to be counted (or even for all the votes to be cast) to start shouting "Fraud!" in California.
The results of the California recall election won’t be known until Tuesday night. But some Republicans are already predicting victory for the Democrat, Gov. Gavin Newsom, for a reason that should sound familiar.

Voter fraud.

Soon after the recall race was announced in early July, the embers of 2020 election denialism ignited into new false claims on right-wing news sites and social media channels. This vote, too, would supposedly be “stolen,” with malfeasance ranging from deceptively designed ballots to nefariousness by corrupt postal workers.

As a wave of recent polling indicated that Mr. Newsom was likely to brush off his Republican challengers, the baseless allegations accelerated. Larry Elder, a leading Republican candidate, said he was “concerned” about election fraud. The Fox News commentators Tomi Lahren and Tucker Carlson suggested that wrongdoing was the only way Mr. Newsom could win. And former President Donald J. Trump predicted that it would be “a rigged election.”

This swift embrace of false allegations of cheating in the California recall reflects a growing instinct on the right to argue that any lost election, or any ongoing race that might result in defeat, must be marred by fraud.
Yes, but as I've pointed out many times, Republicans always think there's voter fraud in California. Trump said so in late November 2016.


Paul Ryan implied that there was voter fraud in California in the 2018 midterms, as Ed Kilgore noted at the time:
Some Republicans were so busy on the evening of November 6 spinning a poor midterm showing into a vindication of their party and president that they apparently missed the fact that the election wasn’t quite over. And later on, they professed mystification at the final results. I say “professed” because it’s hard to believe Speaker Paul Ryan is as stupid as he sounds here:
The California election system “just defies logic to me,” Ryan said during a Washington Post event.

“We were only down 26 seats the night of the election and three weeks later, we lost basically every California race....

“In Wisconsin, we knew the next day. Scott Walker, my friend, I was sad to see him lose, but we accepted the results on Wednesday,” Ryan said. In California, “their system is bizarre; I still don’t completely understand it. There are a lot of races there we should have won.”
The slow count from California should not have come as a surprise: It happened in the June 5 primary as well, and in the 2016 primary and general election. And it was mainly the product of a 2015 change in state election laws allowing ballots postmarked by Election Day and received within three days to count. Since the share of Californians voting by mail has been going up regularly in recent elections, we’re talking about a lot of votes.
But even before that, Republicans were warning of the potential for voter fraud committed by ... well, you can guess. Here's an Investor's Business Daily editorial from 2015:
Just months after handing out California driver's licenses to illegals, Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a law to automatically register every driver to vote. Supposedly, it's to raise turnout. More likely, it's inviting fraud....

Foreigners have complained for years about wanting to vote in U.S. elections and in California. And now they may get their wish....
California doesn't automatically provide voter registration for the undocumented when it issues them driver's licenses, but the myth persists. And so we get commentary like this 2019 opinion piece:
In reality, California officials know full well how many non-citizens voted in June and November of 2018, and the ballpark figure of one million is probably low. California officials also know how many ineligible non-citizens voted in November 2016.
Gavin Newsom is likely to survive the recall by double digits, for the simple reason that Democrats routinely win the state by double digits. And yet there will probably be more cries of "Fraud!" in California than in Virginia, where Democrat Terry McAuliffe will win (if he does win) by a much smaller margin.

Is that because Republicans don't want to play the fraud card in Virginia, fearing that talk of rigged elections might discourage their own voters in what could be a winnable race, while they believe they have nothing to lose in California? Or are they more inclined to allege fraud in California simply because they see it as the epicenter of undocumented immigration in America (as well as the state that embodies everything else they hate about liberalism)? Whatever the reason, they think Democratic dominance in California is fake, and the next time they control at least one house of Congress, they'll probably make a serious effort to prove that Trump won the state twice, and that millions of fake votes are cast there in every election.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

STOP HOPING FOR AN EASY EXIT FROM TRUMPISM

Like so many other mainstream media journalists and pundits, Matt Bai is desperate for a mythical Republican to save America from the actual Republican Party (and, implicitly, from the Democrats). He thinks he's found a possible deliverer:
No leading Republican did more to legitimize Donald Trump, as he was battling to secure the party’s nomination in 2016, than Chris Christie. And yet this week, the former New Jersey governor took dead aim at both Trump and his more ardent followers.

Speaking at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Christie compared Trump’s conspiracy-minded supporters to the John Birch Society in the 1960s, likened the former president himself to an authoritarian and flatly rejected the myth of a stolen election....

Christie can never be fully exonerated for his role in bringing the hateful margins of our politics into the mainstream. But if all those Never-Trumpers can’t do a thing to loosen Trump’s hold on the party, then maybe only a pro-Trumper can.

... if someone is going to finally shake Republicans from this Trumpian nightmare, it’s probably not going to be anyone who stood on principle from the start and is mostly popular with Democrats — Mitt Romney or John Kasich or Liz Cheney.

No, it’s more likely to be a former Trump supporter who earned enough credibility as a loyal Republican during the Trump years to say: “Enough of this. You and I have been misled, and it’s time to reclaim our party.” It would help if that former acolyte were also an immensely gifted politician.

And so maybe we don’t have to forgive Christie to think that he may yet have a valuable role to play in Republican politics and in the life of a fractured nation.

Chris Christie helped us get to this tragic place. It’s not crazy to think he could help us get out.
Sorry, Matt, but it is crazy to think Chris Christie can help save us. It isn't just that rank-and-file GOP voters show no signs of disillusionment with Trump, as a new CNN poll reminds us yet again:
Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say, 63% to 37%, that Trump should be the leader of the Republican Party....

Most Republicans also consider support for Trump -- and his false claim to have won the 2020 election -- to be an important part of their own partisan identity alongside support for conservative principles. About six in 10 say that supporting Trump, and that believing that he won in 2020, are at least a somewhat important part of what being a Republican means to them.



It's also that resisting compromise and moderation is central to their self-image. Right-wing media figures and politicians have encouraged this kind of acting out for years, having persuaded GOP voters that they're in a life-and-death struggle with one of the worst political forces in human history -- us. For this reason, it's preposterous to expect the Republican base to say, "Yeah, Democrats are the Antichrist, but you gotta hand it to them, they won in 2020."

The CNN poll says that half of them aren't sure Trump would be their best candidate in 2024, but the absolutely don't reject Trumpism, and they think it's unreasonable not to believe the 2020 election was stolen from them -- to them, it's just obvious. They'll never stop believing this and other lies Trump tells them, and they'll never stop believing Democrats are as evil as Hitler and Stalin.

The only Republican who could wean them from Trump is one who somehow persuaded them that Trump isn't extremist enough and that they need to go further than Trump wants them to go in order to fight the hated enemy.

There are only two possibilities: We need to beat Republicans repeatedly at the ballot box or watch them become more and more extreme. They can't be reasoned with, not by us and not by a fellow Republican, even one who's a former Trumper.

THE PARTY OF REAL AMERICANS

Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene posted this on Facebook yesterday:



Rudy Giuliani drunkenly imitated Queen Elizabeth and denied partying with Prince Andrew at his annual 9/11 dinner:


He also called the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff an "asshole" while mispronouncing his name:


(Apart from what Giuliani said, do you think it's bizarre that he has an annual 9/11 dinner at a fancy restauarant with a dais for speeches? Does the former mayor of Newton, Connecticut, have a fancy dinner on the anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre? Did the man who was mayor of Dallas in 1963 commemorate the Kennedy assassination this way in subsequent years?)

And then there's the 45th president. He gave a speech praising the widow of cult leader Sun Myung Moon.



And he finished the day providing commentary for a boxing match between Evander Holyfield, who's nearly 60, and mixed martial arts star Vitor Belfort. (Trump was paid an "obscene" amount of money for this, according to TMZ.)

Well, at least none of these people wore a tan suit.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

BLAME THE KOCHS, THE MURDOCHS, AND THE TURNER DIARIES FOR JANUARY 6, NOT 9/11

Spencer Ackerman, author of the recent book Reign of Terror: How the 9/11 Era Destabilized America and Produced Trump, continues to find a receptive audience for his revelation of the One Weird Trick that allows everyone to understand the politics of the past twenty years: It's all 9/11's fault! In The New York Times this week, he told us that we can blame January 6 on 9/11.
Ever since insurrectionists invaded the Capitol, we’ve heard that Jan. 6 closed a chapter in American history. No longer should America’s most threatening enemies be understood as foreign — a euphemism for Muslim — but instead as domestic, a euphemism for primarily white Americans on the far right. “The ‘post-9/11’ era, where our greatest threats to national security were external, is over,” said Representative Elissa Slotkin, Democrat of Michigan and a former C.I.A. and Pentagon official.
Actually, we didn't all decide on January 6 that Islamist terrorism had ceased to be our #1 problem. Liberals have been worried about domestc right-wing terrorism for quite a while, and began to be particluarly worried during the Trump years. And the right has been obsessed with Latin-American border crossers, while Black Lives Matter and Antifa became the feared evildoers of choice during the Trump years.

But go on, Spencer.
... Jan. 6 is less a bookend to the Sept. 11 era than a manifestation of it.

The war on terror accustomed white Americans to seeing themselves as counterterrorists. Armed white Americans on the far right could assemble in militias, whether in Northern states like Michigan or on the southern border, and face little in the way of law enforcement reprisal.
Really? I know that Ackerman was a teenager in the 1990s, but has he done any reasearch on the history of right-wing militias in America? Does he understand that groups such as the Michigan Militia formed in the mid-1990s, in the aftermath of law enforcement clashes with armed groups in Waco and Ruby Ridge? Does he know that Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols attended Michigan Militia meetings before bombing the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995? Does he understand that, despite occasional conflicts with law enforcement, many militias have been on reasonably good terms with the authorities? This is from a 1994 news story:
The Northern Michigan Regional Militia is ready to whip government tyrants, defend the Constitution or help the local sheriff in emergencies, if he'll let them.

This mix of civic mindedness, ultrapatriotism and a strong distaste for the federal government characterizes a 1994 phenomenon: armed militia movements in at least five states from Florida to Montana.

"These militias are popping up all over the place as manifestations of grass-roots outrage at what politicians are doing," said John Snyder, chief Washington lobbyist for the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms....

Although he is not inclined to accept their offers of assistance in disaster relief or criminal matters, Emmet County Sheriff Jeffrey Bodzick says, "They're not violating any Michigan or federal law at this point, and I don't expect them to."
As for border vigilantes, here's an excerpt from a 1997 New York Times Magazine story by Ted Conover. Conover is writing about the rural parts of San Diego County, California:
[Bob] Maupin and several friends have started a campaign of citizen’s arrests. Dressed in camouflage fatigues, they carry semiautomatic rifles, their own Vietnam-era seismic sensors and zip ties for handcuffing. “We get together at night and make a game out of it, who can catch the most,” he says. “If you dress properly, they don’t know who you are, so we get really, really good cooperation.” Always? “We live in an earthquake zone, and the last guy who got in my face, the ground shook so hard it knocked him on his back, if you see what I mean.”

The arrests are legal, according to Deputy Sheriff Robert Novak. Once Maupin and his friends–Maupin says the Border Patrol agents call them “Bob’s boys”–have detained a group for trespassing, they call the Border Patrol.
This was years before 9/11.

Ackerman tells us that we can see a throughline from 9/11 to January 6 because most of the 1/6 were either ex-military or military wannabes:
Skirmishes with the Washington police ahead of the insurrection revealed how the insurrectionists saw themselves. “We’re the veterans!” one yelled. There were 22 people with military experience among the first 176 people charged with insurrection-related crimes. Ashli Babbitt, the MAGA martyr and a devotee of QAnon — a conspiracy theory that fantasizes about locking up liberals at Guantánamo Bay — had deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. But many others were just cosplay warriors, wearing body armor, helmets and hard-knuckle gloves, in emulation of those whom the war on terror had valorized for 20 years as the truest American heroes. “This is war,” a California yoga instructor participating in the insurrection allegedly declared.
But Timothy McVeigh was a veteran. So was Randy Weaver, who fought with federal agents at his armed encampment in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992, an incident that inspired many subsequent militia members and other right-wing extremists.

These people didn't need 9/11 to put the thought of militarized violence into their heads. Many of them just needed to read right-wing propaganda like The Turner Diaries (a book that inspired McVeigh, among many other extremists).

The mainstreaming of insurrectionism had nothing to do with 9/11. It happened during the Obama presidency, when right-wing billionaires such as the Koch brothers bankrolled the Tea Party, while Fox News and the rest of the right-wing media valorized the movement. Tea Party cosplay featured Minuteman costumes, not War on Terror gear. (There was also a border vigilante group called the Minuteman Project, whoase founder, Jim Gilchrist, was a veteran, but of the Vietnam War, not the wars in the Middle East.)

I understand the appeal of "9/11 got us here" as the One Big Idea that explains all of America's present-days troubles. But it's wrong.