Thursday, December 08, 2022


Amanda Marcotte has a theory about why there's been no serious violence or unrest in response to the midterm results, even in Arizona, where Kari Lake coninues to insist that she was the rightful winner of the governor's race.
... I suspect the real reason the Big Lie is failing to incite fascist violence around midterm elections is that few, if any, Republicans actually believed the Big Lie in the first place. It was always a pretext for what its proponents really want, which is a movement to replace the process by which we choose American presidents with a dictatorship, ideally led by Donald Trump himself. Installing a bunch of mini-Trumps in state offices, even for the purpose of supposedly setting Trump up to steal the 2024 election, doesn't have the emotional power of an actual, no-BS, top-down fascist revolution.

... "Election deniers" implies that the conspiracy theory of stolen elections is the primary motivation of Trump's insurrectionist movement. But really, the conspiracy theory is just a paper-thin excuse, one which Trump and his minions barely even try to establish as a functioning narrative. Fascists, as John Ganz writes in his most recent newsletter, "believe things have gotten so bad that only a radical move to break the present regime can save the nation."
I don't buy this. I think much of the rank-and-file right genuinely believes that the 2020 election was rigged, as is any election in a red or purple state or district that's won by a Democrat.

And yes, we know that thought leaders on the right -- Nick Fuentes, Curtis Yarvin -- are fed up with democracy and would prefer a dictatorship. But do most rank-and-file right-wingers really think in these categories? It seems to me that they just want what they want: they'd like their side to win all the time. They seem to believe that they'd win every election if the electoral system changed: no early voting, no mail voting, no dropboxes, no (to them) suspiciously complex and time-consuming ballot counting in large cities and counties, no mainstream media and Big Tech rigging of elections (i.e., ordinary editorial judgment about what their publications and sites publish). I don't think they're against democracy, for the most part. They think democracy would work fine if it were rigged in their favor. (They'd say "unrigged.")

I can think of a few reasons why there's been no electoral violence this year:

* Donald Trump and his allies aren't leading the rebellion. Trump doesn't care that many of his endorsees lost -- even Lake, who was seen as a favorite of his and a possible 2024 running mate. Trump cares only about himself. He was never going to put any effort into statewide coups.

* The prosecution of January 6 insurrections is having an impact. Shockingly to them, January 6 is being prosecuted as a crime. That means any exercise of violence to overturn the results of an election could be treated the same way! No fair! No ordinary right-winger wants to get sent to what they call the "American Gulag."

* These days, they believe that any demonstration will lead to Deep State entrapment. The ones who don't think all the violence on January 6 was the work of disguised Antifa operatives think all the violence on January 6 was instigated by disguised FBI provocateurs. Now they think any announcement of a right-wing demonstration is a similar plot to entrap True Patriots.

* Once again, they're waiting for the scales to fall from America's eyes. When I go to Gateway Pundit, I see prominent headlines such as "BREAKING: Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer Colluded With Federal Agency, CISA, To Censor Election Critics" and "'We Are Going To Be Filing A Lawsuit THIS FRIDAY' – Kari Lake Guest Hosts America First With Sebastian Gorka (VIDEO)." The next lawsuit or documentary will be the one that finally makes the rest of America see the light!

* They're too busy terrorizing drag performers and school librarians. Marcotte notes that right-wing anger
has more recenlty been rerouted into more direct expressions of right-wing cultural resentments, which is why we're seeing attacks on Pride events and hysteria about "wokeness" or "critical race theory." Having a tantrum, or staging a riot, over Kari Lake losing her bid to be governor of Arizona simply doesn't have the same emotional resonance.
Marcotte thinks this is because they want nothing less than to topple democracy altogether -- but if so, why would they bother attacking some local drag show or library? I think she's right that they'd rather fight to overturn a presidential election than a gubernatorial election, and it's probably also the case that fighting for Daddy Trump is more satisfying than fighting for a woman. (Trump's unsuccessful male endorsees seem to have meekly accepted their defeats.) But I think this is less about having strong opinions regarding America's ideal system of government and more about wanting to fight so someone they regard as the most alpha of males can be restored to his rightful place in the most alpha of jobs. Meanwhile, anger about sex and race are primal, which is the evil genius of the ginned-up crusades against critical race theory and trans people, and the reason they've struck such a deep chord on the right.

I just don't think it's as simple as "they want fascism and will accept no substitute." It's complicated.

Wednesday, December 07, 2022


The Washington Post's Matt Bai has noticed that many of us are horrified by Kanye West's anti-Semitism. Bai think the problem is ... us.
There was a time not so long ago when if you wanted to hear the world’s dumbest sentiments on race or ethnicity, you had to at least put on a coat and go down to the neighborhood bar.

What we did not do back then, by the way, was storm into those bars, haul out the loudest blowhards and publicly shame them at the top of every homepage and cable show in America.

That’s pretty much where we are now, when displays of basic idiocy dominate the headlines, mostly because denouncing them makes the rest of us feel more virtuous, or maybe because they seem to validate our sense that the culture is unraveling.

Exhibit A involves Ye, who used to be a big-time rapper named Kanye West but is now the society’s best-known Hitler admirer.
Okay, stop right there. No virtue-signaling liberal dragged poor Kanye West out of obscurity and forced America to pay attention to him even though he was barely known to the public. Kanye West is one of the most popular musical performers of the past twenty years, with nine platinum albums and 73 platinum songs. Until recently, he was a billionaire, with lucrative businesses and endorsement deals. And right-wing influencers, including the House Judiciary Committee and the most popular host on cable news, have tried to make him the face of a new, multi-racial Republican Party. In his status as a public figure, he couldn't be less like a random non-famous guy spouting bigotry at a bar.

Bai writes:
Ye (do I really have to call him that?) is pretty clearly struggling with mental illness, as his ex-wife, Kim Kardashian, has been telling us for years.
Everyone knows West has bipolar disorder. He mentioned it on album cover, for crissake. Do your homework, Matt. Moreover, millions of people have the same disorder or other mental illnesses and aren't raving bigots.
Is the moral thing here really to give Ye more of a platform to debase himself than he already has? Just because Donald Trump takes Ye seriously doesn’t mean the rest of us have to.
Do we book guests on the Alex Jones podcast? Did we give West his 32 million Twitter followers back (temporarily)? The recent platforming of West came from people who weren't liberals. And if liberals' decision to talk about West offends Bai, is he saying that we should allow this extremely famous and highly influential person to spout the vilest bigotry with no pushback? Apparently that's exactly what Bai wants us to do.

Bai is also peeved because a story from Britain was briefly in the news here:
Then we have the international flare-up over the British Baroness Susan Hussey ... who turns out to be the all-too-real kind of White person who thinks that non-White people must be from somewhere else....

Lady Hussey is 83, born in the waning days of the British Empire. Show of hands: How many of you have grandparents who would say something racially insensitive without being cognizant of why?
My grandmother said a few insensitive things during her life. But she didn't have a highly sensitive position working for the British royal family, one that requires decorum and diplomacy, in a country where the press is unrestrained and eager to pounce on any royal shortcoming. Being careful not to say the wrong thing was Lady Hussey's job, or at least part of it. I can't say the same about my grandmother.

Oh, and Bai thinks we're all way too upset about rampant hatemongering on Twitter.
As for the growing alarm over Twitter, let’s just grasp for a modicum of context. According to the Times, slurs against Black Americans have lately risen from 1,282 a day to more like 3,876. Insults of gay men are up to a daily average of almost 4,000.

Thousands of slurs are thousands too many, but consider that Twitter has something like 41 million daily active users in the United States alone. We’re not talking about a remotely significant percentage of tweets....
Yes, think of all the Black and LGBT people who weren't called "n****r" or "groomer"!
Bigotry ought to be condemned even if it’s not especially pervasive — we should all be able to agree on that.
We have no problem agreeing on that. It's you who seem to have a problem with it.
But the total lack of perspective in the conversation about hate speech — this impression that somehow these controversies are the most important things happening in the universe right now — can lead us down a couple of perilous paths.
Anyone who thinks this is troubling at all is blowing it up into the top story in the world, Bai says, offering no evidence that this is true.
First, it lends credence and momentum to those on the left who would jettison the concept of free speech entirely. There’s a popular — and very misguided — argument among leftists, particularly younger ones, that free expression is a weapon wielded by the capitalist and colonialist elite, and that no one should enjoy the right to make others uncomfortable because of their race or identity. They would turn the entire country into a college campus.
Yeah, you knew Bai would start punching hippies sooner or later.
Real liberals know that the freedom of speech includes the right to be stupid, hurtful and wrong. In fact, that’s generally when it matters most. We’re a stronger and more admired country not when we protect the ideas everybody loves, but when we tolerate the ones that make us sick.
The real intolerance is criticizing people who say "n*****r" or "groomer."
Second, all this mindless amplification of run-of-the-mill bigotry adds to the perception that history is moving in the wrong direction when it comes to inclusivity and tolerance. That’s just not true.

... Ugly strains of hatred have become louder and more visible since the onset of the Trump era, but that doesn’t mean we’re going backward. In fact, by any obvious measure of progress, we are a vastly more enlightened society than we were 50 years ago, or even 25 years ago.
How does that prove we're not going backward? Do we have to give up all the ground we've gained in a half century before we're allowed to say, "Oops, I think we have a bigotry problem"? There were double-digit increases in hate crimes in msjor cities in 2020 and 2021, and they're still going up in 2022. Hate group activity surged in the Trump years. The right-wing establishment has apparently declared open season on trans people. But if you express concern about any of this, you're the problem, according to Bai.
If you want to worry about the state of civil society, then worry about Trump’s call this week to suspend the Constitution so he can be enshrined in power — and the deafening Republican silence that followed it. Or worry about the case that just reached the Supreme Court, in which a Colorado website designer says she shouldn’t have to make wedding pages for gay couples.
It seems odd that Bai is disimissive of personal bigotry yet worried about that Supreme Court case. But I think I understand his worldview. He's spent so much time hanging out with the big names in politics that he doesn't believe anything of importance is done by people without political power, even extremely wealthy influencers like Kanye West and Elon Musk.

But guys who let our society's atmosphere of hate collect in their craniums until they decide to shoot up synagogues or gay bars don't run their plans through congressional committees. Matt Bai doesn't care, though. If it doesn't happen in his world, it doesn't matter, and you're an idiot for being concerned.


I'm happy about the outcome in the Georgia Senate race, but it shouldn't have been close. I keep hearing that Herschel Walker was a terrible candidate, but he won 48.5% of the vote in November and 48.6% in the runoff despite all that terribleness. Let's compare him to another terrible candidate: In 2014, after he said that a "legitimate rape" is unlikely to lead to pregnancy, Republican Todd Akin lost his Senate race to incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill by a 55% to 39% margin, despite the fact that Missouri was transforming itself from a purple to a red state.

By any objective measure, Walker was a much worse candidate than Akin -- the abortion hypocrisy, the unacknowledged children, the allegation of abuse, the campaign-trail babble about vampires and werewolves, the near-disappearance in the home stretch of the runoff. But this inept, morally flawed man, or at least the organization around him, motivated large numbers of voters to turn out a second time for him, even though the Senate was no longer up for grabs. It took a great campaign by Raphael Warnock and the Democrats to beat him.

If I understand the conventional wisdom correctly, this outcome proves that Donald Trump is a loser and that Brian Kemp is a winner. Here's Politico:
Trump keeps losing

Of all the candidates Trump elevated in this year’s midterms, few resembled Trump as closely as Walker — a scandal-plagued, celebrity-turned-politician and early adopter of Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was rigged.

... it was Trump who hand-picked Walker for the Georgia Senate run, just as he had chosen GOP nominees in other high-profile contests this year, and the result was one more blemish on Trump’s record — and a fitting coda to his demoralizing fall from power....

Brian Kemp is the real winner in Georgia

There’s a reason Gov. Brian Kemp’s name is being floated as a potential presidential contender. He may be one of the savviest Republican politicians in the country.

First, Kemp survived Trump’s wrath for his resistance to Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election, easily winning re-election. Then he went all in for Walker, a win-win for Kemp. Had Walker won, Kemp would have gotten all the credit — as former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie joked — for being “the first human being who ever dragged Herschel Walker over the goal line.

But no one was blaming Kemp for Walker’s defeat.
I don't get it. Kemp kept his distance from Walker during the general election and Walker got 48.5% of the vote. He campaigned for Walker in the runoff and Walker got 48.6%. Maybe he had no impact? And sure, Trump gave his endorsement to this morally dubious, incurious, inarticulate, and unqualified candidate -- but Walker did about as well as another Trump endorsee, Adam Laxalt in Nevada, who had all the right qualifications.

And I know that Kemp won the general election easily, as did Secretary of State Brad Raffensprger, which suggests that a generic Republican would have won this race. But Kemp and Raffensperger were incumbents. Walker was running against an incumbent. We don't know how a different Republican candidate would have fared.

The national campaign for Walker helped keep him in the race. Mitch McConnell spent millions and a lot of nationally prominent Republicans appeared with Walker, in person and on Fox News. Beyond that, the scandals and mockery seemed to motivate many Republican voters -- if Herschel Walker was being attacked by the evil libs because he paid for abortions (allegedly, they'd say) or flashed a fake police badge in a debate, then he must be worth voting for. The scandals cost him more votes than they won him, but it was close.

Grievances still motivate Republican voters. That's why Walker kept it close. Imagine this race plus a GOP that didn't disdain early voting. Imagine this race plus a Walker endorsement from Saint Ron DeSantis. He could have won. A round of applause for the Warnock campaign, because beating Walker wasn't easy.

Tuesday, December 06, 2022


The New Republic's Alex Shephard thinks he knows why Republicans are determined to pursue the Hunter Biden story:
For the right, the fixation on Hunter Biden boils down to a few things. The first and biggest is that it’s become a kind of grotesque simulacrum of Trump’s two big Russia scandals: interference (and collusion) during the 2016 election and the attempt to extort Ukraine into providing dirt on the Bidens in 2019. The idea here is that the Biden family is just as corrupt as the Trump family and that Biden ascended to the White House after numerous media and tech entities essentially cheated on his behalf....

The histrionics over election interference also neatly mirror popular concerns about the Trump administration and should be familiar to anyone who followed the Trump-Russia scandal. Republicans are well nigh convinced, in the same way that Democrats were during the course of several formal investigations into Trump’s dealings, that the Hunter Biden laptop story would really blow up if only the media would be willing to relentlessly turn the screws.
The Bulwark's Mona Charen -- formerly a Republican in good standing, now a Never Trumper -- has a similar theory:
The right has a deep psychological need for the Hunter Biden story. They desperately want Joe Biden to be corrupt and for the whole family to be, in [Representative Elise] Stefanik’s words, “a crime family” because they have provided succor and support to someone who has encouraged political violence since his early rallies in 2015, has stoked hatred of minorities through lies, has used his office for personal gain in the most flagrant fashion, has surrounded himself with criminals and con men, has committed human rights violations against would-be immigrants by separating children from their parents, has pardoned war criminals, has cost the lives of tens of thousands of COVID patients by discounting the virus and peddling quack cures, has revived racism in public discourse, and attempted a violent coup d’etat.

They know it. It gnaws at them. That’s why the Hunter Biden story is their heart’s desire.
Charen believes that the Hunter Biden narrative, now revived by Elon Musk and Matt Taibbi, "has been suspended for some time," and is being eagerly embraced by Republicans at this moment because Trump has been unusually embarrassing in the past few weeks. Clearly she's unaware of the hard-sell campaign for the preposterous "docu"drama My Son Hunter, which was released on September 7. For a while, you couldn't click on Breitbart without seeing a big ad for the movie; Fox News first promoted it in November 2021. I've posted the batshit-crazy trailer before, but here it is again.

Republicans' Hunter narrative might be partly whataboutism, but they'd be doing what they're doing now even if Joe Biden had beaten Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio in 2020. Republicans tirelessly pursue every negative story against a powerful Democrat, whether genuine or concocted -- Hillary's emails, Obama's birth certificate, Monicagate, Whitewater. (In real time, Charen was morally outraged by the Clinton presidency, even Whitewater.) The core precept of the Republican Party is that Democrats and liberals are evil.

If this is resurfacing now, it's for two reasons: because Republicans just won the House and because Elon Musk (who's regarded as endlessly fascinating) just took over Twitter and promoted it. If Democrats hadn't held the House in 2020, we would have had this moment two years ago.

Alex Shephard says this about the Hunter Biden story:
... it doesn’t have the thing that makes other pseudoscandals tick: It doesn’t reinforce an already popular notion about the Bidens as some uniquely corrupt family.... The Hunter Biden story doesn’t work ... because it’s not actually a quintessential story about Joe Biden. It’s actually a Trump story, and the kind of corruption and malfeasance that defined the last president.
But Republicans believe that all Democrats are amoral globalist corruptocrats. Sure, many don't literally believe that all Democrats sexually abuse children and drain their bodies for adrenochrome, but the QAnon narrative is just an amped-up version of the mainstream GOP narrative, which assumes control of all national and global institutions by slick, depraved liberal overlords. Watch the trailer above. The real, shambolic Joe Biden is replaced by just that kind of degenerate slickster.

And on the right, they think the Trumps aren't a uniquely corrupt family. To right-wingers, the Trumps are salt-of-the-earth folks (Trump Sr. doesn't have a posh accent! When he eats, he likes steaks and burgers! Don Jr. likes to hunt!) who just happen to be rich. They see Trump as a rich, comfortable man who selflessly gave up his life of ease so he could work hard to save the country. They really believe all this -- the Trumps are humble members of the Volk who were granted great wealth by God while Joe Biden is a greedy international criminal mastermind. So they've been pursuing the Hunter Biden story nonstop since it first emerged, and they're pushing it into the headlines now simply because they can.

Monday, December 05, 2022


We've all read commentary like this:
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ ... public vendetta against Disney over its opposition to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law, dubbed by critics the “Don’t Say Gay” law, sends a clear message to boardrooms across the country: Stay the heck out of politics.

... But the DeSantis versus Disney imbroglio is a mere preview of a much larger collision underfoot within the GOP between the MAGA-inspired cultural warriors who now control the party and the traditional low tax and deregulation conservatives. It’s a clash that is finally breaking the decades-long alliance between Big Business and the GOP.

... The cultural zealots that have hijacked much of the GOP are pushing America to the precipice of the biggest political realignment in nearly 100 years.
DeSantis hates Disney! DeSantis hates Big Tech! DeSantis thinks capitalists are "woke"!

But Politico reports this today:
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s inauguration celebration is expected to be spread out over two days — and will give up close access to donors willing to contribute between $50,000 and $1 million, according to a breakdown of sponsorship packages.

Five donors who give $1 million to the Republican Party of Florida will be recognized as “inaugural chair” sponsors who will receive tickets to a candlelight dinner the night before the inauguration, VIP seating at the inauguration ceremony held on the steps of the Old Capitol as well tickets to the inaugural ball and a “Toast to One Million Mamas,” the campaign group put together by first lady Casey DeSantis, and a photo opportunity with the governor.
I'm pretty sure this access won't be going to any janitors or pipefitters or other representatives of what I keep hearing is the new blue-collar GOP.

DeSantis isn't an anti-capitalist. He's a Putinist. He's running Florida in a Putinist way, and he wants to run America in a Putinist way.

You know, like this, but without the brutality (so far):
In the summer of 2000, 21 of the richest men in Russia exited their bulletproof limousines and entered the Kremlin for a historic meeting.... Through shady deals, outright corruption, and even murder, these rapacious "oligarchs" — as Russians had come to derisively call them — had seized control of much of Russia's economy, and, increasingly, its fledgling democracy. But now, their nation's newly elected president, Vladimir Putin, wanted to tell them, face to face, who was really in charge....

Putin offered the oligarchs a deal: bend to my authority, stay out of my way, and you can keep your mansions, superyachts, private jets, and multibillion-dollar corporations.... In the coming years, the oligarchs who reneged on this deal and undermined Putin would be thrown into a Siberian prison or be forced into exile or die in suspicious circumstances. The loyalists who remained — and the new ones who got filthy rich during Putin's long reign — became like ATM machines for the president and his allies.
DeSantis's style is lite Putinism, but the priniciple is the same: Line my pockets and don't cross me politically, or you'll regret it.

DeSantis needs an enemy every time he hasn't been on Fox News for a few weeks, and corporations are satisfying targets. But rich businesspeople and heirs to business fortunes have funded his past and future campaigns -- here's a partial list -- and they'll fund his inaugural. Ron DeSantis is not a working class hero.


I should say something about this:

Of course it's appalling that someone who wants to "terminate" the Constitution, or at least the parts that prevent him from being escorted back into the Oval Office in the middle of the rightful president's term, might actually be elected president again, which will require him to swear to defend the same Constitution that he's ready to toss on the garbage heap. But there doesn't seem to be a plan behind this, or an army of people ready to help Trump get what he wants. The post-election period in 2020 and January 2021 was much worse, because talk like this was backed with action, some of it violent. This just seems sad. It doesn't seem dangerous. Trump's assertion that he's the rightful president looks to me like an act of brand management -- he keeps telling the base that he won because his brand is being a winner, and because grievance sells on the right. His plan for returning to the White House is ... running in a regularly scheduled election. So really, he's just bellyaching.

But isn't this stochastic terrorism? Isn't he putting out the idea that he's the rightful president in the hope that violence will restore him to power?

If he is, it isn't likely to work -- and not for a good reason.

Even before the 2020 election, the right-wing media was channeling Republican rage into fights that had nothing to do with Trump. Armed protesters demanded an end to pandemic public health measures. Individuals routinely attacked store employees and flight attendants who tried to enforce mask mandates.

And since then, Fox News hosts and other stochastic terrorists have encouraged violence in response to the teaching of America's real racial history, and to prevent LGBTQ people from living as full citizens. Trump had an army on January 6, 2021. But that army is fighting on different fronts now.

Trump's old army is dangerous, but is also distracted. I think Trump knows that. If he has a plan, it's to assert that he's the rightful president as a means of becoming president again through legitimate means. No one's taking up arms or planting bombs to restore him to the White House. They have drag queens to terrorize.

Sunday, December 04, 2022


This is bad:
Much of [North Carolina's] Moore County remains without power following an attack to electrical substations. Authorities have confirmed that at least two substations were damaged by gunfire on Saturday night.

The Moore County Sheriff’s Office said in a Saturday night press release that it is investigating incidents at multiple electric substations in Moore County that were shot up on Saturday night as a “criminal occurrence,” causing more than half the county’s electric customers to lose power....

On Sunday morning, the gate to the West End substation, off N.C. 211 near West Pine Middle School, was lying on the side of the access road. A pole holding up the gate had clearly been snapped off where it meets the ground. The substation’s infrastructure was heavily damaged....

At around midnight Saturday, a reporter on scene could hear and smell oil leaking from the substation. Workers from Duke Energy and authorities from the sheriff‘s office were scanning the the area for bullet casings and other evidence, and vehicles were going through the woods in search of more evidence at the scene.
Approximately forty thousand people lost power as a result of this sabotage.

The Daily Beast reports:
... a local conservative activist who organized a protest against a drag show said on Facebook that she was visited by deputies.

“I welcomed them to my home. Sorry they wasted their time,” Emily Grace Rainey wrote.

“I told them that God works in mysterious ways and is responsible for the outage. I used the opportunity to tell them about the immoral drag show and the blasphemies screamed by its supporters. I told them God is chastising Moore County, thanked them for coming and wished them a good night. Thankful for the LEOs service, as always.”

Two hours earlier, Rainey had posted the message: “The power is out in Moore County and I know why.” And around the same time, she posted a picture of the Sunrise Theater, which was putting on the sold-out drag show, with the caption “God will not be mocked.”
(Emphasis added.)

What, if anything, does Emily Grace Rainey know about this? It's unclear. But she's been a rather active activist over the past two and a half years.

In May 2020, after North Carolina's governor, Roy Cooper, closed public parks to prevent the spread of COVID, Rainey was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor for tearing down the yellow caution tape in one park. Later that year, she was photographed at a county Board of Education meeting with her mask pulled down below her nose, at a time when COVID cases were rising and vaccines were just beginning to be rolled out. At the time she was an Army officer at Fort Bragg; in the photo she's wearing fatigues. She was later investigated by the Army after attending the January 6 protest at the U.S. Capitol, although she says she didn't enter the building and she hasn't been charged with a crime. She subsequently appeared in Tucker Carlson "documentary" Patriot Purge, which suggests that the FBI was behind the day's violence. She's a member of the board of the Education First Alliance NC, which describes itself as "an organization fighting for parental rights and against schools radicalizing and sexualizing children."

Rainey's social media posts are ... interesting. Note the last checked item here:

Here's another interesting checklist, especially #3:

Rainey is the founder of Moore County Citizens for Freedom, which posted this on November 18. Note the caption:

This woman might have absolutely nothing to do with the power plant sabotage. Still, I'm glad I don't live anywhere near her.

Saturday, December 03, 2022

POOR RON DeSANTIS! (updated)

The 2024 Donald Trump presidential campaign is very much in danger of failing, but at a time when even MAGA diehards are wondering whether Trump has had his moment and should give way to the presumably more electable but equally malicious lib-hater Ron DeSantis, along comes Elon Musk with a lifeline for Trump:
Two years after the fact, Elon Musk — Twitter’s megabillionaire new owner — promoted the release of documents showing the company’s internal deliberations about blocking the New York Post’s account over its reporting on Hunter Biden.

The new disclosures, touted as “The Twitter Files,” were posted in a lengthy Twitter thread by investigative reporter and author Matt Taibbi (and retweeted by Musk). It’s based on “thousands of internal documents obtained by sources at Twitter,” according to Taibbi — shared with him, it would appear, with the blessing of Musk....

“Twitter took extraordinary steps to suppress the story, removing links and posting warnings that it may be ‘unsafe,'” Taibbi wrote. “They even blocked its transmission via direct message, a tool hitherto reserved for extreme cases, e.g. child pornography.”
Normal people don't care. Normal people, even if they use Twitter, don't care about the machinations there, although they might be vaguely interested in what that Musk guy is up to. Twitter is not real life. In real life, people care about gas prices. They worry about crime and drug addiction and gun violence and abortion access and education and the sense that the country seems to be splitting apart. But normal people don't care about Hunter Biden's laptop. All through the midterms, when voters were asked what their top concerns were, Hunter Biden's laptop wasn't the answer they gave.

But Republicans care. Republicans aren't normal people. They're rage monsters hyped up on whatever they're fed by the right-wing media apparatus, which now includes Taibbi and Musk. They're deeply political in a way most normal people aren't. So maybe bots are the reason that #TrumpWasRightAboutEverything is trending on Twitter, but fake social media engegement is meant to influence real people, and if this is seen as a story about Trump rather than about evil tech libs, Trump benefits. No social media company has ever muted a story about Ron DeSantis this way. In the victimization sweepstakes, DeSantis loses.

This is just a moment, of course. It'll pass. But we know that House Republicans intend to hold endless hearings on Hunter Biden, and now I assume they'll toss in an inquisition on social media censorship, with this as the bloody shirt.*

Can DeSantis top that? He'll try. But he might not be able to compete with Trump's grievances.



Friday, December 02, 2022


Say, did you know that Donald Trump thinks the January 6 insurrectionists shouldn't be in prison? Why, I had no idea until I read Peter Baker's latest dispatch in The New York Times:
Former President Donald J. Trump once again made clear on Thursday night exactly where he stands in the conflict between the American justice system and the mob that ransacked the Capitol to stop the peaceful transfer of power nearly two years ago.

He stands with the mob.

Mr. Trump sent a video statement of support to a fund-raiser hosted by a group calling itself the Patriot Freedom Project on behalf of families of those charged with attacking the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. “People have been treated unconstitutionally, in my opinion, and very, very unfairly, and we’re going to get to the bottom of it,” he said. The country, he warned, “is going communist.”

The video underscored just how much the former president has aligned himself with forces that used to be outside the mainstream of American politics as he seeks to reclaim the White House through a rematch with President Biden in 2024.
It's nice that Baker noticed this, but I think Trump's attitiude toward the January 6 criminals was fairly clear last month, when he said on Truth Social, "Let them all go now!" Or in mid-September when he called in to a rally held at the D.C. jail.
Trump called Micki Witthoeft, the mother of Ashli Babbitt, who authorities shot and killed during the Capitol riot, to express his support for those being detained at the jail in connection with their involvement on Jan. 6.

“It’s a terrible thing that has happened to a lot of people that are being treated very, very unfairly,” Trump said. “We love Ashli, and it was so horrible what happened to her. That that man shot Ashli is a disgrace.”
Or in early September when he appeared on a right-wing radio show:
Former President Donald Trump said Thursday he will “very, very seriously” consider full pardons for the rioters who breached the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, if he runs for reelection and wins.

“I will tell you, I will look very, very favorably about full pardons. If I decide to run and if I win, I will be looking very, very strongly about pardons. Full pardons,” Trump said on Wendy Bell Radio Thursday, adding: “We’ll be looking very, very seriously at full pardons because we can’t let that happen. ... And I mean full pardons with an apology to many.”
Or in April, when he spoke at a rally in North Carolina:
... Trump told the crowd: "We will, while we're at it, demand justice for the January 6 prisoners and full protection of their civil rights. Like was received by ANTIFA and Black Lives Matter, who murdered people throughout our country."
Or in January, when he told the crowd at a Texas rally:
"Another thing we'll do, and so many people have been asking me about it, if I run and if I win, we will treat those people from Jan. 6 fairly," Trump said to applause. "We will treat them fairly. And if it requires pardons we will give them pardons. Because they are being treated so unfairly."
Or in September 2021, when he spoke in their favor:
“Our hearts and minds are with the people being persecuted so unfairly relating to the January 6th protest concerning the Rigged Presidential Election,” Trump said in a statement ... adding that the prosecutions have “proven conclusively that we are a two-tiered system of justice.”
Or in February 2021, less than a month after the riot:
“If it requires pardons, we will give them pardons because they are being treated so unfairly,” Trump said during a Texas rally over the weekend.

Trump repeated the promise in an interview with Newsmax ... saying, “I would absolutely give them a pardon” and calling the punishment “20 times out of proportion. These people are being persecuted.”
Sorry, Peter -- this isn't a change of strategy. You say that Trump "has embraced extremist elements in American society even more unabashedly than in the past" -- but that's not true.

You also say, "In recent weeks, he has adopted QAnon themes." But here was a Politico story from July 2020:
On July Fourth, before President Donald Trump spoke to the nation from the White House lawn, he spoke indirectly to another community on Twitter: QAnon.

That afternoon, he retweeted 14 tweets from accounts supporting the QAnon conspiracy theory....

Trump’s QAnon-baiting has gone into overdrive in recent months. According to a Media Matters analysis, ever since the pandemic began, Trump has retweeted at least 90 posts from 49 pro-QAnon accounts, often multiple times in the same day.

Those around Trump have followed suit. Eric Trump, the president’s son, recently posted a giant “Q” on Instagram as well as the hashtag version of the community’s slogan: “Where we go one, we go all.” White House deputy communications director Dan Scavino sparked glee on Facebook when he posted a photo with Q symbology in it back in March.
So why is this news? It's just Trump being the same person he's been for years.


Kanye West appeared on the Alex Jones podcast yesterday and told Jones that he likes Hitler and loves Nazis. A few hours later, he was suspended from Twitter after posting an image of a swastika inside a Star of David (cribbed from a UFO religion called Raƫlism, which uses the symbol), and also after posting an image of a shirtless, pasty, paunchy Musk with Hollywood agent Ari Emanuel, whom West has repeatedly criticized in anti-Semitic ways.

The Washington Post's Philip Bump says, "The GOP’s bet on Kanye West has gone very bad" -- but if you want a contrarian view, I can argue that all this makes high-profile right-wing racists and hatemongers look less hateful by comparison. Musk suspended West. Alex Jones urged him to deny he was pro-Nazi. Donald Trump called him "seriously troubled." Tucker Carlson interviewed West last month and chose not to air his most bigoted pronouncements.

Oh, and it's not hate, really -- it's just mental illness. That's the message from many commenters responding to a Fox story about West:
it's very sad watching the breakdown of Kayne or Ye, i pray he gets the help he needs, he is driving off a cliff, without brakes.. i wish the people in his life would care enough to help him


this has happened before, remember when Charlie Sheen was manic? This is Bipolar illness. They don't have the insight to know they even need help. They cause a lot of chaos in their lives and damage like this


Ye is seriously mentally ill (bi-polar in the extreme). Public limelight is not where he needs to be. It is hard for those around him to help because he will listen to no one. In a way, being off Twitter is the best for him. It would be equally good it people would just stop interviewing and covering him.


Kanye is not well. I hope his thoughts clear and his rationality is restored.


Glad someone else sees it, the negative affect, non-linear thoughts, paranoia, etc. Pretty obvious to me.


You don't catch mental illness like you catch a cold. Mental illness is genetic. You are born with it. So it's not going to "clear" away like a cold does. And unfortunately, mental illness gets worse the older you get.


I don't follow Ye. I don't listen to his rap. I don't buy his clothes. From my limited knowledge of his actions and thoughts, I think he needs to get professional psychological help. He's brilliant enough to be richer than some countries, but his behavior is truly bizarre. I hope he gets help.
You might not see anything objectionable in this, but it's the same Get Out of Jail Free card right-wingers reach for whenever there's a mass shooting or other high-profile attack that seems driven by conservative politics. Clearly they're right about West's mental state, as well as about the mental state of Paul Pelosi's attacker -- but delusions have content, which comes from the outside world. If you're pumping right-wing hate into the societal conversation and a mentally ill person acts on it, you bear quite a bit of responsibility for the results, even if the ill or damaged person isn't in full mental control, and thus isn't fully capable of responsibility.

Mental illness happens, but the processing of directing the mentally ill to bigoted explanations for their discontents is in the control of people we'd mostly regard as sane. They don't get a free pass. But they think they deserved one in the case of Pelosi, and they say they deserve one after every mass shooting. Now they're saying it with Kanye. Don't let them off the hook.