Sunday, September 19, 2021


A few days ago, Chris Hayes tweeted this:

In a column-length response, Ross Douthat writes:
Here’s a quick case that [Hayes is] right. At the pandemic’s outset, skeptics of a sweeping response argued that public health authorities were overestimating the disease’s dangers, and many conservatives were eager to believe them. The Hoover Institution’s Richard Epstein famously predicted Covid would claim only 5,000 lives in the United States.
(Actually, Epstein's initial prediction was a mere 500 deaths.)
... on the fundamental question of how bad the disease would be, the authorities were more right than their more optimistic critics. Even with rapidly developed vaccines, we’ve had 670,000 reported coronavirus deaths and counting....

In that sense we’ve already run a version of Hayes’s counterfactual. Covid has been deadlier than many people on the right hoped or predicted, and yet the partisan divide that took shape last spring hasn’t really budged, with Republicans still taking the libertarian side in debate after debate — closures, masks, now vaccine mandates.
However, Douthat thinks something might have changed if the death toll were even worse.
But I’m still not sure Hayes is right about the Covid 10-times-worse scenario being basically identical to this one in its divisions. As bad as the coronavirus has been, most people who get it still come out OK, children are especially unlikely to be hospitalized or die, and deaths are concentrated in a population, the elderly in nursing homes, that (to our shame) we already keep somewhat out of mind.

... if the fatality figures ... were 10 times higher I think there might have been more red-state support for public-health restrictions of all kinds.
Well, maybe. Douthat continues to wonder
whether there’s a world where Donald Trump went all-in for strict disease-fighting measures and liberals turned anti-lockdown in response....
Douthat can't let go of that idea. Last October, he wrote that Trump
had a worldview that the cosmopolitan community considered archaic and dangerous — a worldview that emphasized national borders, played up foreign threats and treated travel bans and immigration restrictions as essential tools of state. He also had certain personal tendencies, like his famous germaphobia, that would presumably have made him favorable to masking and social distancing at a time when the expert of experts, Dr. Anthony Fauci, was still dismissing mask wearing and telling healthy Americans that it was safe to take a cruise.

In other words, Trump, much more than a typical president, was ideologically and personally well-positioned to get out ahead of the experts, to break early with their church-of-cosmopolitanism assumptions and to set an example of extreme caution long before that became the official wisdom — even to “own the libs,” if you will, by taking steps that would have been denounced as authoritarianism in late February and then recognized as wisdom by late March.
But Trump didn't do this because he's also a person who regularly engages in magical thinking -- how many times did he tell us that the virus would simply "go away"? Would he have said that in the face of a virus that was on track to kill nearly 7 million Americans, rather than the current figure of nearly 700,000? I wouldn't put it past him.

Also, the right's propaganda infrastructure is financed by billionaires who wanted the economy to reopen as quickly as possible. It's not a coincidence that the estimate of 500 U.S. COVID deaths came from the Hoover Institution, an important and well-funded source of right-wing influence. Right-wing billionaires funded the "reopen" movement that took Trump's pandemic denialism and turned it into right-wing dogma.

If the death tolls had been ten times worse, would the billionaires still have wanted to reopen everything right away? They'd have wanted a sense of normality as rapidly as they could get one. Maybe they'd have demanded quick fixes: Seal off hot spots and don't let anyone leave. Round up infected people who stray outside the hot zones. I can imagine that the culture war would have involved right-wingers arguing for containment in the "bad" places (conveniently, the Northeast and a few other liberal enclaves) while doing little or nothing elsewhere. It would fail, but New York would have replaced China as the scapegoat.

Douthat agrees that we wouldn't have pulled together as a nation:
... there would be more regional fractures, more governors trying to close borders and restrict travel, more vicious interstate fighting over medical resources, more frenzied culture wars over which drugs to try experimentally, more total panic and meltdown around schools.
And in the middle would be Trump touting sparsely populated, low-infection rural areas as the real America, even as the rest of the country succumbed to infection and death.

However it played out, I think Chris Hayes is right in the broadest sense -- the politics of all this wouldn't be appreciably different. It would still be us vs. them. And Ross Douthat seems to agree.

Saturday, September 18, 2021


You probably know about this, which happened at a restaurant in my neighborhood that caters to a lot of tourists:
A hostess at a well-known New York City restaurant was attacked just for asking to see a group's proof of COVID vaccination, a requirement to dine inside in the city.

Exclusive cellphone video obtained by NBC New York shows the Thursday evening attack outside Carmine's Restaurant on the Upper West Side. Around 5 p.m., tempers flared and the hostess stand is nearly tipped over in the mayhem, with a waiter at one point helping carry someone away from the scene.

The 22-year-old hostess asked the group of Texans to show proof of getting the COVID vaccine in order to dine in the restaurant, part of NYC's executive order that went into effect this week. Law enforcement sources said that the hostess was then repeatedly punched in the face and body, and sent to the hospital.

Gateway Pundit's coverage of this story is on message:
The real shocking and tragic situation is forcing these hourly employees to segregate on behalf of the tyrannical health regime.

... Another viral incident from a NYC restaurant shows a black family being refused service and being forced to leave over the draconian vaccination policy.

The most disappointing part is the reaction by his fellow citizens around him; When he asks them if they are okay with the un-American segregation – a man flips him the middle finger and says yes.
The unmasked would-be patron in that incident used the word "segregation" is his rant.

It didn't impress the other diners -- but it impresses right-wingers all over America.

As soon as New York City announced its restrictions on indoor dining by the unvaccinated, in early August, the right began referring to the policy as "segregation." This is how the right operates. Right-wingers have no policy ideas that might be effective for dealing with the COVID pandemic, or with any of America's other problems. What the right puts its energy into is devising memes and catchphrases that allow the base to feel clever and self-righteous while rejecting liberal and moderate ideas. If the catchphrases turn a liberal weapon on liberals, so much the better. (See: critical race theory is racism; attacks on Sarah Palin are sexism; etc., etc.) But any catchphrase will do. (Asking my vaccine status is a HIPAA violation!)

Easily remembered pseudo-ideas build brand loyalty. They're why less extreme right-wingers will never abandon the GOP -- when the message that Democrats/liberals/leftists are evil is pounded into your head in vivid and memorable ways around the clock every day, even the Republican policies you object to aren't going to make you rethink a straight party-line vote in every election. This approach isn't good for America, but for Republicans, it works.

Friday, September 17, 2021


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.”

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


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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,, 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


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.