Thursday, August 05, 2021

NO, REALLY, IS GAVIN NEWSOM IN TROUBLE?

If this SurveyUSA poll is acurate, California governor Gavin Newsom is about to be recalled, and the election won't be close:
51% of likely voters in California's upcoming gubernatorial recall election today would vote Yes to recall incumbent California Governor Gavin Newsom, according to SurveyUSA's latest exclusive polling for KABC-TV in Los Angeles and KGTV 10News and The San Diego Tribune.

40% would vote No, to keep Newsom in office.

Republicans support recall by an 8:1 margin; Democrats oppose by a smaller 3:1 margin. Independents support recalling the Governor by 5:3.
We're told that the unvaccinated are pro-recall by 40 points (no surprise there), but that the recall is also supported, 48%-44%, by those who've been fully or partially vaccinated (harder to believe). Whites are pro-recall and Black and Asian voters are anti- (plausible), while Hispanic voters give the recall plurality support (less plausible?).

SurveyUSA's polls often seem sketchy, but the company gets an A rating from FiveThirtyEight. And whether you believe this poll or not, note that it's the fourth consecutive survey showing Newsom in trouble. It follows an Emerson poll giving "no on recall" a 2-point lead, a Berkeley Institute of Government Studies poll in which "no" leads by 3, and an earlier Emerson poll in which "no" is up by 5.

Oh, and according to the SurveyUSA poll, the winner of the replacement election won't be right-wing talk-radio host Larry Elder, who's the favorite according to other surveys -- it'll be this guy:


Democrat Kevin Paffrath, a YouTuber and real estate broker, takes 27% of the replacement vote today. Paffrath draws particular support from younger voters, Latinos, Democrats and liberals, and leads 12:1 among those who who are opposed to recalling Newsom. Paffrath leads 2:1 in greater Los Angeles and by 35 points in urban parts of the state.
Elder is at 23%.

Okay, that I don't believe -- although after Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura, and Donald Trump, who knows? A YouTube huckster in charge of the fifth-largest economy in the world seems just about right for America in 2021. (By contrast, Emerson has Paffrath at 1%, well behind Elder at 23%, while Berkeley has Paffrath at 3% while Elder leads with 18%.) Paffrath says he's a Democrat. He makes a lot of promises:
* State of Emergency: Ending Homelessness within 60 days.
* State of Emergency: Housing Crisis: State to Take Over ALL Building and Safety/ Development for Expediting Building Permits IMMEDIATELY.
* State of Emergency: Creating Future Schools to immediately provide a free path to financial, vocational, high school, and college education in ONE platform.
* State of Emergency: Transportation: Immediately authorizing and requiring private proposals for tunnels, variable toll roads, mass transit, roads, and ending High-Speed-Rail Funding.
Meet Kevin Paffrath will also introduce legislation on day one to waive income taxes on the first $250,000 of income, permanently. He also intends to legalize gambling.... Meet Kevin Paffrath also intends to institute community policing and incentivize localized manufacturing and utilize a Carbon Tax to offset the removal of taxes on $250,000 of income for workers and investors.
(I'm quoting from a press release, in which Paffrath repeatedly refers to himself as "Meet Kevin Paffrath." He tried to get himself listed on the ballot that way, until a judge ruled, correctly, that "Meet Kevin" is part of his branding, not part of his name.)

I assume Elder, not Paffrath, is the true front-runner in the replacement election. And it still seems somewhat more likely that Newsom, a Democrat in a very Democratic state who can buy a lot of advertising in the clsing weeks of the campaign, will survive. But the Delta variant is bad in California, wildfires are bad, and crime and homeless aren't great. I remember Scott Brown in 2010 and Donald Trump in 2016. This thing could go either way.

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

NEWSFLASH: DESANTIS AND ABBOTT BELONG TO A PARTICULAR POLITICAL PARTY

CNN's Kevin Liptak and Jeremy Diamond detect a new tone from President Biden.
When Republican governors began prematurely lifting coronavirus restrictions in their states earlier this spring, President Joe Biden and his team largely kept their heads down, ramping up vaccine distribution while steering clear of rhetorical battles with political adversaries.

But this week, as the Delta variant and low vaccination rates in several southern states sent cases soaring, Biden took a new approach: Castigating Republican governors who are standing in the way of mask and vaccine requirements -- and calling out the governors of Texas and Florida in particular for enacting "bad health policy."
The Washington Post's Greg Sargent also noticed the change.
President Biden has now forcefully rebuked a handful of GOP governors who are actively hampering our national covid-19 response. This was a long time in coming, and it should prompt a deeper shift among Democrats, toward a more aggressive effort to hold Republicans publicly accountable for such malevolent, depraved displays of hostility toward the public good....

To contextualize this, recall that early on, Biden’s brain trust concluded that criticizing GOP governors over covid risked further polarizing masks and vaccines, potentially driving GOP voters away from them.

...a top Biden adviser told me in December that Bidenworld saw a major opportunity to unite the country around the covid response. They could rebuild bipartisan trust in government public health expertise and restore a sense of social cooperation around battling covid, a shared national foe.

The true nature of this diagnosis, and its pitfalls, are now evident.
Not only did that fail to win over Republicans, but Biden and the Democrats disn't get any credit for trying to be uniters. It's now conventional wisdom that Democrats have been sneering and contemptuous toward vaccine refusers and mask opponents from the beginning, even though Biden wasn't contemptuous at all.

And even now, Biden won't utter the R word. Here's what he said yesterday:
... the escalation of cases is particularly concentrated in states with low vaccination rates. Just two states, Florida and Texas, account for one third of all new COVID-19 cases in the entire country. Just two states.

Look, we need leadership from everyone. And if some governors aren’t willing to do the right thing to beat this pandemic, then they should allow businesses and universities who want to do the right thing to be able to do it.

I say to these governors, “Please, help.” But if you aren’t going to help, at least get out of the way of the people who are trying to do the right thing. Use your power to save lives.
And, later, in response to a question:
Q Mr. President, do you believe that Governor DeSantis and Governor Abbott are personally making decisions that are harming their own citizens?

THE PRESIDENT: I believe the results of their decisions are not good for their constituents. And it’s clear to me and to most of the medical experts that the decisions being made, like not allowing mask mandates in school and the like, are bad health policy — bad health policy.
BUt he never said the word "Republican," except when he decalred that "this is isn’t about politics. The virus doesn’t care if you’re a Democrat or a Republican." He didn't even refer to DeSantis and Abbott as Republicans euphemistically -- when Biden was young, a politician might refer to "the other party." Biden didn't.

When did Democrats conclude that it's beyond the pale to mention the fact that their critics belong to a particular political party? When did they decide that it was rude and divisive to suggest that members of their own party might have better ideas than members of the other party? When Republicans back policies that the majority of Americans believe are awful, why do Democrats believe it's off-limits to say the terrible ideas are Republican?

Maybe this wasn't the time or place to do it, but most leading Democrats never do it. That's why many Democratic voters don't know who the bad guys are, beyond Donald Trump. Republicans don't have that problem. know who they hate.

IF DEMOCRATS FORCE CUOMO OUT, REPUBLICANS WANT THE CREDIT

New York State's Democratic attorney general has issued a devastating report accusing Governor Andrew Cuomo of multiple acts of sexual harassment. The Democratic state assembly speaker says Cuomo can no longer remain in office, while 55 of the 63 members of the Democratic-controlled state senate have called on Cuomo to resign -- far more than the number needed to convict if Cuomo is impeached, as expected. Every Democrat in Congress from New York State has demanded Cuomo's resignation. The Democratic governors of four neighboring states -- New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Rhode Island -- are calling for Cuomo to step down. And, of course, the Democratic president of the United States said yesterday that Cuomo needs to go.

So, of course, Republicans want the credit if Cuomo is forced out.

All those calls for Cuomo to leave? Totally fake, according to the Wall Street Journal editorial page.
... this is pro forma outrage. They know he’s staying in office unless forced out, and that he plans to run for a fourth four-year term next year. He has adopted the Donald Trump-Bill Clinton strategy of deny and stonewall until people forget.

If Democrats have the courage of their convictions, they’ll call on the Legislature to start impeachment proceedings. Make the case for why the verdict of voters should be short-circuited with specific charges and evidence. This would give Mr. Cuomo’s lawyers the chance to defend him against the allegations and to cross-examine his accusers. Anything less will mean giving Mr. Cuomo—and themselves—a pass.
Democrats are way ahead of you:
The Democratic majority in the New York Assembly is preparing to impeach Gov. Andrew Cuomo if he does not resign....

“After our conference this afternoon to discuss the Attorney General's report concerning sexual harassment allegations against Governor Cuomo, it is abundantly clear to me that the Governor has lost the confidence of the Assembly Democratic majority and that he can no longer remain in office,” Speaker Carl Heastie said in a statement. “Once we receive all relevant documents and evidence from the Attorney General, we will move expeditiously and look to conclude our impeachment investigation as quickly as possible.”
The members of the Journal ed board know that Democrats are on the case, but they also know that their readers don't know that. They want to accuse Democrats of bad faith and wagon-circling until the last possible moment, then claim the credit if Cuomo goes.

See also Ben Shapiro and Ben Domenech on Fox News yesterday:



Shapiro begins with a tasteful joke:
SHAPIRO: You know, Governor Cuomo came into office to grab ass and kill the elderly, and he's all out of elderly.
Then he talks about the cover-up of the thing that's been on nearly every front page in America in the past 24 hours.
SHAPIRO: The fact that [Attorney General] Letitia James, you know, laid out this enormous case about sexual harassment and sexual pressure and retaliatory work environment and all this, and then she said, "And I'm not going to do anything about it," kind of tells you how this is about to play out.
Shapiro doesn't mention the fact that the Democratic attorney general of Albamy County is pursuing a criminal investigation.
SHAPIRO: You'll recall, as you just mentioned, that everyone called on [Virginia governor] Ralph Northam to resign and then Joe Biden was campaigning with Ralph Northam.
Ralph Northam's crime was a long-ago blackface incident. Polls showed that the Virginians with the most reason to be angry at Northam -- Black voters -- didn't want Northam to resign.
SHAPIRO: The rule in the Democratic Party, at least, is that you either die a hero, live long enough to become a villain, or live even longer than that and then become a hero again with whom you campaign and fundraise.
And Option #2 -- which seems to be where we're headed in Cuomo's case -- is bad why exactly, Ben?

Shapiro thinks Cuomo can distract us all with COVID restrictions, and New York Democrats -- sheeple that we are -- will meekly allow ourselves to be distracted.
SHAPIRO: I actually think what you're about to see from Governor Cuomo is sort of a "wag the mask" situation, in which the Delta variant is used as an excuse for him to push new measures that are really authoritarian in nature, and then he'll be cheered by the press again for not being Ron DeSantis, because there really is a desire by a lot of people out there to be controlled from above....
There really is a desire by a lot of people not to die, not to watch friends and relatives die, not to get long COVID or see anyone else get it, not to see new and potentially vaccine-resistant variants breed and fester. But I'm a liberal, so of course I would be obsessed with not dying or becoming permanently ill, wouldn't I?

However, new pandemic measures won't help Cuomo now. A year ago, we were afraid. We had trouble understanding what was happening and what to do about it. But we've been living with the virus for more than a year now. Most of us are vaccinated. New Yorkers appreciate politicians who seem to be taking the pandemic seriously, but we're not looking for a savior now.

Shapiro says the lie-beral media will be in bed with Cuomo, of course.
SHAPIRO: This will be one news cycle and then gone.
Yeah, you can tell that the MSM is already bored with the story (click to enlarge):


Actually, it's Fox News that seems bored with the Cuomo story, mere hours after that Ben Shapiro segment ran:


I guess the right doesn't care about pursuing sexual harassment allegations if Democrats are pursuing them, too. But the right will still claim credit if Cuomo falls.

Tuesday, August 03, 2021

THE VACCINE GOALPOST WILL BE MOVED

I don't have much to add to the saturation coverage of Andrew Cuomo, who won't resign, but should (and will, I hope, be impeached and removed from office). I'll leave that story to others for now. I just want to say something about this instead:
With a new surge of Covid-19 infections ripping through much of the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has accelerated its timetable to fully approve Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine, aiming to complete the process by the start of next month, people involved in the effort said.

President Biden said last week that he expected a fully approved vaccine in early fall. But the F.D.A.’s unofficial deadline is Labor Day or sooner, according to multiple people familiar with the plan. The agency said in a statement that its leaders recognized that approval might inspire more public confidence and had “taken an all-hands-on-deck approach” to the work....

A number of universities and hospitals, the Defense Department and at least one major city, San Francisco, are expected to mandate inoculation once a vaccine is fully approved. Final approval could also help mute misinformation about the safety of vaccines and clarify legal issues about mandates.
I hope this leads to an increase in vaccination. Some vaccine-hesitant people really might be swayed by full approval.

But the hardcore holdouts won't be persuaded. They'll move the goalposts from "Why would you risk your health on a vaccine the government calls 'experimental'?" To "Why would you trust the government when approval was rushed?" They'll become instant experts on the usual time frame for an FDA approval and they'll tell us that corners were cut. They'll holler about the government's VAERS site, where people can post unvetted claims about health problems resulting from vaccines. They'll claim a massive cover-up of adverse effects. Oh, and they'll say that approval is a way of lining Anthony Fauci's pockets or advancing the Bill Gates/George Soros plan to depopulate the planet.

I hope a lot of people quietly get vaccinated after full approval. But the loudest voices will be the ones insisting the vaccine still isn't safe. They'll never change their minds.

MORE CAPITOL POLICE SUICIDES -- AND YOU CAN GUESS HOW THE RIGHT-WING CRAZIES ARE REACTING

WUSA in Washington reports:
Four law enforcement officers who responded to the Capitol insurrection have now died by suicide, a sobering toll which doubled on Monday, after Metropolitan Police confirmed two of the department’s officers who responded on January 6 recently took their own lives.

Officer Kyle DeFreytag served in the city’s 5th District and was at the Capitol to enforce curfew violations, Metropolitan Police confirmed....

The confirmation of DeFreytag’s death came hours after a spokeswoman for MPD said Officer Gunther Hashida was found dead at his residence last Thursday. Hashida, who joined the department in May 2003, was most recently assigned to the department’s Emergency Response Team.
The commenters at Free Republic are responding just as you'd expect:
Sound like more like

Epstein didn’t kill himself.

I wonder what these folks knew?

****

“Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action” — Ian Fleming

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The Men Who Knew Too Much.

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The crying pussies on TV didn’t impress the public. So now we get this script change.

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I don’t believe this many officers were so overcome by those Jan. 6th events. I absolutely could be wrong. I wasn’t there. But more ‘shocking’ and disturbing things happened elsewhere due to BLM and Antifa. Some of this is still happening. Some group of people in the Hidden Government are getting carried away with offing anybody who they disagree with. A little too strident and sure of themselves.

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Refusing to lie for the narrative? Threats of the union, friends, credibility, scandal, destroying the family, harassment...and suicide?

****

Did he know the truth behind the Babbitt shooting?
And, of course, the Freepers' thoughts never stray far from their happy place:
"What are we to make of this?"

Hillary???

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This is similar to the numerous NYC police suicides, the ones who saw the contents on the laptop of Huma.

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Wasn’t near Marcy Park, was it?
There are similar responses at Gateway Pundit:
"Suicide" = murdered by the FBI for threatening to tell the Truth!

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Sure enough... Arkancide pandemic incoming.

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Now Nancy Pelnazi will be seen on TV with fake tears, saying how brave he was on Jan 6th. Blame Trump for his death, while she knows it was done by her henchmen all along.

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Hitlery Suicided comes to mind, maybe commie pelosi is starting to learn from the pro.
But the comment thread also goes off into conspiratorial Crazy Town.
As the truth of the 2020 election fraud and FBI orchestrated “Capitol riot” unfold, suicides among Democrats will skyrocket. It’s either that or be raped in prison. Justice is coming!

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The bodies of the vaxxed will start piling up this winter-spring! Then they plan to launch government sponsored BLM and shut down the internet and power...

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Have always liked and largely agreed with your posts, but it makes no sense that the Globalists would kill off their compliant masses with the mRNA therapy.

I keep seeing that prediction here on TGP comments, but why would the NWO kill the most compliant among us - those that are all in on masks, lockdowns, experimental gene therapy, and Kool-Aid in general?

Those are the easily herded masses (I hate calling people "sheep") that the Global Overlords depend upon, so again it doesn't compute that they'd off all those that most readily submit to the Great Reset.

On the contrary - and you're reading this theory here first - could it be that the easily herded are being inoculated against a forthcoming stronger strain aimed at eliminating we who haven't obeyed?

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They want to cull the disobedient first, tho.

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Covid got rid of a lot of elderly people along with their pensions and social security benefits.

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Most of us know to much...Most of us believe in and rely on one another...we know we are stronger in mass numbers...

So they intend to remove the older generation, that remember the real world and reduce the civilization into insecure half whits that follow orders and snitch on those that do not....

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they want a global population of 500 million. they also are the first to turn on their countrymen.

the mrna shot is a rna encoder. they created this dna modifier with no direction. thats why you see so many different effects. they are watching and studying what their new toy can do. they will release it again with a targeted direction.

that one will be the bad one. they can also reverse these effects with a directed shot as well.

but they have to study what theyve created as it shows them what it can do to us first.

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the final Vaccine will end all people who are not Chinese

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Nope, they tricked the Chinese in to giving it to their people too by allowing them to be "first", they played on the ego of the CCP to get those idiots to inject their own!

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each vaccine has its own job to do.
the last one will end all people who are not Chinese.
if they are not stoped first.

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The Chinese will not escape their treachery... most of the Chinese have already been vaxxed and are already dead.

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that's because you don't realize (yet) how diabolical their plan is.
The new world order needs a submissive, illiterate, work-hungry population and they are now getting them by the thousands from countries in South America, Africa and China. Everything "white" has become obsolete and must be replaced. In the Kalergiplan 1920 it is called the depopulation and miscegenation, the formation of 1 docile population led by the elite.
There are also quite a few unabashed calls for violence.
Justice will happen when the American people get a rope!

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worldwide agenda 21........ammo up

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The ones torturing patriots in the DC Gulags need some "softening up" and then a rope.

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Its disgusting isn't it? Our government cannot be saved,,,

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But our country can... II Chronicles 7:14

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I agree, but its going to take torches and pitchforks and gallows!

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And copious amounts of liberal blood.
These people vote. They'll vote in 2022 and 2024. They're motivated. Are Democrats?

Monday, August 02, 2021

MAGYAR BOY SUMMER

There sure are a lot of American right-wingers hanging out in Viktor Orbán's Hungary, or drawing influence from Orbán. First there was this guy, who's spent the past several months there:



Dreher has written love note after love note to Orbán. At the same time, Dreher's friend J.D. Vance has praised Orban and echoed Orbánist denunciations of childless adults.

And now there's this:
Fox News host Tucker Carlson is billed as a speaker at a far-right conference in Hungary on Saturday, according to a flier for the event. The appearance will come days after the Fox host met with the country’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Carlson will purportedly offer his insights at MCC Feszt, an event hosted by the Mathias Corvinus Collegium, which the New York Times described in June as a government-funded plan to “train a conservative future elite.

... It’s part of a larger, four-day long program that also advertises a talk from a representative of one of America’s esteemed conservative institutions of higher education: Dennis Prager of PragerU, which makes up for what it lacks in physical space, accreditation, and discernible curriculum in Facebook virality. Prager will deliver a talk on “media and free speech.”
Orbán treats MCC extremely well, according to that Times story:
The privately managed foundation, Mathias Corvinus Collegium, or M.C.C., was recently granted more than $1.7 billion in government money and assets from a powerful benefactor: Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban.

A hero to Europe’s far right, Mr. Orban says he wants to overhaul education and reshape his country’s society to have a more nationalistic, conservative body politic. But his critics argue that the donation is legalized theft, employed to tighten Mr. Orban’s grip on power by transferring public money to foundations run by political allies.

... The $1.7 billion transfer to the educational foundation is about 1 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. The foundation now controls assets worth more than the annual budget of the country’s entire higher education system.

“This is not about Hungarian higher education,” said Istvan Hiller, a lawmaker from the opposition Socialist Party and former education minister who now serves as a deputy speaker of Parliament. “This is about building a foundation to solidify power.”
I don't know if the American rightists who flock to Hungary are merely the reactionary equivalent of past lefties who made pilgrimages to Moscow or Havana -- I don't know if they go to Hungary just because they think they see the future and they think it works. I think they might be cooking up something more than that, but I don't know what it is. I'm sure they'd be delighted if Orbán began a march across Europe and then set his sights on America -- they'd love a right-wing Christianist version of the caliphate ISIS promised its members. I just can't tell if they just see Hungary as a paradise or they have a plan to spread Orbánism elsewhere.

THEY HAVE POLITICAL CORRECTNESS, TOO

At The Atlantic, Brooke Harrington, a professor of sociology at Dartmouth, notes that the people who shout a lot about being oppressed by pandemic public health measures are perceived by some as the oppressors.
Something very strange has been happening in Missouri: A hospital in the state, Ozarks Healthcare, had to create a “private setting” for patients afraid of being seen getting vaccinated against COVID-19. In a video produced by the hospital, the physician Priscilla Frase says, “Several people come in to get vaccinated who have tried to sort of disguise their appearance and even went so far as to say, ‘Please, please, please don’t let anybody know that I got this vaccine.’” Although they want to protect themselves from the coronavirus and its variants, these patients are desperate to ensure that their vaccine-skeptical friends and family never find out what they have done.
Harrington explains this:
Shifting from an individual to a relational perspective helps us understand why people are seeking vaccination in disguise. They want to save face within the very specific set of social ties that sociologists call “reference groups”—the neighborhoods, churches, workplaces, and friendship networks that help people obtain the income, information, companionship, mutual aid, and other resources they need to live. The price of access to those resources is conformity to group norms. That’s why nobody strives for the good opinion of everyone; most people primarily seek the approval of people in their own reference groups.
Right-wingers want us to believe that everyone in America is forced to conform to a set of values dictated by coastal left-leaning elites. They'd like us to think that no media message reaches the mass public unless it has been vetted by the left-wing information Politburo.

But in much of the country, the dominant political value system is conservative, not liberal. In much of America, Fox News, right-wing talk radio, and religious radio are the mainstream media. They're what you'll see if you walk into a public place with a TV on, and all you'll hear if you turn on the radio in your car. "Political correctness" and "cancel culture" as the right defines them are meaningless terms. In these parts of the country -- which cover enough territory to get you very close to 270 electoral votes -- "forbidden" right-wing speech and ideas are readily available. If anything, it's liberalism that's canceled.

If we're silencing these people, how did Donald Trump amass a $100 million war chest in the months after his banishment from social media platforms? Apparently he's found a way to communicate with his followers. The allegedly totalitarian left isn't doing a very good job of being totalitarian.

Sunday, August 01, 2021

LET'S STIPULATE THAT REPUBLICANS ARE POTENTIALLY AWESOME AND INVENT THE EVIDENCE IF NECESSARY

Here's a tweet from a New York Times reporter, in response to a Bloomberg story:


The Beltway press is desperate to believe in one of two things: a mythical alternate-universe Donald Trump who was a decent human being and a within-the-pale president, or, failing that, a Republican who can supplant Trump as the leader of the GOP and who is not a Trumpian monster.

Trump didn't do an infrastructure bill, either when his party had full control of the government or when Democrats took the House, because he loves hating people, and years of binge-watching Fox News had made hating Democrats the primary way Trump satisfied that craving. He was never going to do an infrastructure bill because Democrats were always far more enthusiastic about infrastructure than Republicans, and there was no way Trump was going to make Democrats look good while daily hours of Fox-watching were pounding into his head the notion that Democrats are evil and Republicans are the embodiment of all patriotic virtue.

Alex Burns wants to believe in a hypothetical Good Trump; the opinion editors of The Washington Post want to find virtue in the actually existing Trump:


I'll spare you the details. Suffice to say that the entire exercise -- one writers gives Trump credit for "shaking the foreign policy consensus," another for "upending the trade debate" -- is an effort to normalize Trump, a tendency we warned about almost daily during his presidency.

And if Beltway insiders can't persuade their readers (or themselves) that Trump was an okay guy deep down, or at least had the potential to be one, they'll assure us that he's likely to lose his grip on the GOP any minute now, replaced by a mainstream GOP Daddy. That's why they fell head over heels for Ron DeSantis.


Florida had 21,683 new infections yesterday. But the mainstream media is committed to the narrative of acceptable post-Trumpism, so DeSantis won't be covered as a new monster seeking to replace the old one. The GOP won't be covered as a party of monsters. The press has a desperate need to believe.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

I'M JUST THE PIANO PLAYER. I'M NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT GOES ON UPSTAIRS.

By the standards of mainstream journalism, this New York Times story by Lisa Lerer and Nicholas Fandos about the Republican Party in the aftermath of the January 6 Capitol riot is surprisingly forthright.
Already Distorting Jan. 6, G.O.P. Now Concocts Entire Counternarrative

... This past week, amid the emotional testimony of police officers at the first hearing of a House select committee, Republicans completed their journey through the looking-glass, spinning a new counternarrative of that deadly day. No longer content to absolve Mr. Trump, they concocted a version of events in which accused rioters were patriotic political prisoners and Speaker Nancy Pelosi was to blame for the violence.

Their new claims, some voiced from the highest levels of House Republican leadership, amount to a disinformation campaign being promulgated from the steps of the Capitol....

This rendering of events ... pointed to what some democracy experts see as a dangerous new sign in American politics: Even with Mr. Trump gone from the White House, many Republicans have little intention of abandoning the prevarication that was a hallmark of his presidency.
If I wanted to be churlish, I could point out that I told you in early February that the GOP was blaming Pelosi for the riot. Still, I'm pleased that Times readers understand this now.

We're told that the disinformation is coming from Trump himself and from "leading House Republicans" such as Kevin McCarthy and Elise Stefanik. But then we're given the impression that there's a large segment of the party that's not on board with the disinformation campaign, although they lack the courage to do anything about it
Some senior Republicans insist that warnings of a whitewash are overwrought.

“I don’t think anybody’s going to be successful erasing what happened,” said Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas. “Everybody saw it with their own eyes and the nation saw it on television.”

For Mr. Cornyn and other lawmakers, continuing to talk about the attack is clearly an electoral loser at a time when they are trying to retake majorities in Congress and avoid Mr. Trump’s ire.

Most Republican lawmakers instead simply try to say nothing at all, declining even to recount the day’s events, let alone rebuke members of their party for spreading falsehoods or muddying the waters.

Asked how he would describe the riot, in which a hostile crowd demanded the hanging of Vice President Mike Pence, his brother, Representative Greg Pence of Indiana, responded curtly, “I don’t describe it.”

Yet the silence of party stalwarts, including nearly all of the House Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Trump for his role in the attack and the Republican senators who voted to convict him, has created an information void that hard-right allies of Mr. Trump have readily filled.
Do you buy this? Do you believe that this is merely reticence or cowardice that's created "a void" the extremist fringe takes advantage of?

I don't. John Cornyn and Greg Pence know that they're benefiting from what the extremists are saying. It fires up the base and keeps the contributions flowing, and will likely lead to high turnout in 2022.

They also know that it's important to keep persuading the mainstream media -- and, with it, swing voters -- that the GOP isn't completely crazy. They know they need to preserve the myth, for centrist voters and the MSM, that the "real" GOP is people like Cornyn and Pence (and Pence's brother).

They're sending two messages into two different media environments. And as long as the worst than can be said of Republicans like Cornyn and Pence is that they're not doing enough to stop the crazies, they can still insist that the whole party isn't crazy even if it is clearly dominated by crazies.

Meanwhile, they let the crazies thwart any effort to hold those responsible for January 6 accountable, and they reap the benefits while keeping their own hands clean. What's not to like?

Friday, July 30, 2021

MATT TAIBBI HATES YOU, YOU DISGUSTING ELITIST

I briefly mentioned Matt Taibbi's New York Post op-ed in my previous post, but I didn't really convey what a vile piece of work it is. The headline is:
From ‘Yes we can’ to ‘No, you moron’: Dems have selves to blame for vaccine hesitancy
The piece begins with a passage from Joseph Heller's Catch-22 that I assume was underlined in a dog-eared paperback by a weeded-out Matt Taibbi at age fifteen:
“Then there was the educated Texan from Texas who looked like someone in Technicolor and felt, patriotically, that people of means — decent folk — should be given more votes than drifters, whores, criminals, degenerates, atheists and indecent folk — people without means.”

— Joseph Heller, “Catch-22”
The problem with using this quote to bash Democrats is that the Texan doesn't sound like a Democrat at all. He sounds like this guy:


Taibbi goes on to cite a Sunday talk show panel discussion:
On “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” this past Sunday, a bafflegab of Washington pooh-bahs, including Chris Christie, Rahm Emanuel, Margaret Hoover and Donna Brazile ... discussed vaccine holdouts.
This got up Taibbi's nose because the panelists support vaccine mandates. To Taibbi, this is Democrats' fault because ... (checks notes) ... two Republican panelists and two GOP-friendly Democratic panelists agree on this course of action.

So who's the next Democrat at fault, according to Taibbi?
This bipartisan love-in took place a few days after David Frum, famed Bush speechwriter and creator of the “Axis of Evil” slogan, wrote a column in The Atlantic titled “Vaccinated America Has Had Enough.”
Frum is ... um, also not a Democrat. So you can see why the Democrats are at fault here.

What is Democrats' crime exactly? Let Taibbi explain.
I’m vaccinated. I think people should be vaccinated. But this latest moral mania — and make no mistake about it, the “pandemic of the unvaccinated” p.r. campaign is the latest in a ceaseless series of such manias, dating back to late 2016 — lays bare everything that’s abhorrent and nonsensical in modern American politics, beginning with the no-longer-disguised aristocratic mien of the Washington consensus.

If you want to convince people to get a vaccine, pretty much the worst way to go about it is a massive blame campaign, delivered by sneering bluenoses who have a richly deserved credibility problem with large chunks of the population, and now insist they’re owed financially besides.
Really? I would argue that the worst way to go about it is to ask them politely, which is what the Biden administration and the public health establishment has been doing all year, with no success. Open exasperation only kicked in recently, and not on Biden's part -- he's praising Donald Trump, for crissakes. (Then again, he did that in December and none of the refuseniks cared.)

Now, please pay attention when Taibbi talks about folks "who have a richly deserved credibility problem with large chunks of the population" -- this is his clever way of trying to link his Murdoch-friendly present-day material to his former work attacking genuine elitists. Taibbi still says he hates the financial elites -- but now he equates them with economically comfortable suburbanites, who, in his view, are indistinguishable from genuine plutocrats making a hundred or a thousand times what they make:
There’s always been a contingent in American society that believes people who pay more taxes should get more say, or “more votes,” as Joseph Heller’s hilarious Texan put it.

It’s a conceit that cuts across parties. You hear it from the bank CEO who thinks America should thank him for the pleasure of kissing his ass with a bailout, but just as quickly from the suburban wine mom who can’t believe the ingratitude of the nanny who asks for a day off. Doesn’t she know who’s paying the bills?
Bank CEOs invariably believe they're entitled to more than the rest of us. Does every "suburban wine mom"? Group slander much, Matt?

You might question whether all bank CEOs ands suburban wine moms are Democrats. Rest assured that, according to Taibbi, the GOP used to be an epicenter of this kind of evil, but the party is now in the hands of honest yeoman farmers and sweat-soaked laborers thanks to the heroic efforts of the man Taibbi once called our Insane Clown President:
After 2008, the “We’re pulling the oars, so we should steer the boat” argument dominated the GOP....

Then Trump came along, and the media and political landscapes were reordered. Now there was no philosophical or political split among America’s wealthiest and most educated people. Both strains of snobbism — one looking down on the unschooled, the other looking down on an economically parasitic underclass — fused, putting wealthy America’s pretensions under the same tent for the first time
In other words, according to Taibbi, all the snobbery in America is now Democratic.
The Brookings Institute noted that Hillary Clinton won 472 counties in 2016, which accounted for 64 percent of the country’s GDP. Trump, meanwhile, won 2,584 counties, many in flyover territory, which collectively produced 36 percent of national wealth.

By 2018, it was also true that 41 of the 50 wealthiest congressional districts voted Democratic, with states like California, Virginia, New York, Maryland and New Jersey dominating.
What Taibbi is saying here is that the Democratic Party hates the "parasitic underclass" -- which you can tell from the fact that the Democratic Party gave the have-nots COVID relief checks and a child tax credit and expanded healthcare eligibility. Democrats are also working on two big infrastructure bills, which will create jobs for blue-collar workers.

That's how snobby they are. Why can't they do what true lovers of the hoi polloi would do, like give massive tax cuts to the rich?

But we were talking about vaccines -- and it's odd, because even though Taibbi argues that the elites (who are all Democrats now) "have a richly deserved credibility problem with large chunks of the population," somehow Democrats didn't have a credibility problem when they were expressing wariness about the possibility that President Trump would approve a vaccine prematurely prior to the 2020 election. In fact, the hoi polloi, or at least some of them, clung to these evil Democratic elitists' every word, and internalized a level of skepticism about the vaccines that exceeded even the Democrats' own:
... the messaging from the Biden-Harris campaign last year ... set a precedent of urging the public to distrust the vaccine....

It’s bad enough they went this route last year, which almost certainly resulted in some of the early reported “hesitancy” among communities of color....
But Taibbi told us that non-elitists disdain everything Biden and Harris say! Or is that just white non-elitists? (Elsewhere in the piece, Taibbi describes the notion that Trumpism is about white racial resentment as "propaganda." It's all about class, he insists. So who are these non-white non-elitists who became vaccine-hesitant because they listened to Biden and Harris express anxiety about a premature approval of vaccines?)

To Taibbi, everything is Democrats' fault, and it's Democrats' fault because they embody all the elitism in America. The Trumps? The Kochs? The Mercers? The Murdochs? Nothing elite there.

WE'RE WRONG ABOUT EVERYTHING AGAIN

Do you remember when Sean Hannity was urging his viewers to get vaccinated? When Sarah Huckabee Sanders wrote a pro-vaccine op-ed? When Mitch McConnell announced a plan to use campaign funds for pro-vaccine radio ads? Cast your mind back to those long-ago days!

Oh, wait -- that was all in the past two weeks. But that brief moment of GOP concern for public health is over now. Here are some highlights from the front page of the Fox News website.



It's possible that the pro-vaccine talk was a feint in the direction of public health because Republicans knew calls for more masking were coming (in response to some legitimately disturbing data about the transmissibility of the Delta variant), and they wanted to establish a minimal level of concern before reverting to their usual oppositional defiant disorder. (I think the explanation for the brief flurry of concern was that some rich donors were watching the post-pandemic economic boom slip away and wanted the Republicans they underwrite to do something about it.)

Whatever was happening for that brief moment, it's over now -- as, apparently, is the critical race theory panic, which barely shows up on the Fox front page.

Also lost to the memory hole: the testimony of the Capitol Police officers who survived the January 6 riot. They had a momentary impact, and some appeared on television the day after their testimony, but that's not enough to implant what they said in the public consciousness.

But, of course, American politics always has to revert to its equilibrium point, which is that the world is full of terrible problems, all of which are the liberals' fault. So we have Matt Taibbi writing a New York Post op-ed that blames right-wing vaccine refusal on "smug" liberals.
If you want to convince people to get a vaccine, pretty much the worst way to go about it is a massive blame campaign, delivered by sneering bluenoses who have a richly deserved credibility problem with large chunks of the population....
Never mind the fact that much of the pro-vaccine campaign has consisted of pleading and begging, and never mind the fact that the right was dug in on vaccine refusal long before most liberals were aware of it, because vaccine refusal was the natural extension of mask refusal and rejection of the earliest lockdowns.

And there's Nate Silver:


There was a brief moment when it was kind of okay to agree with liberals on public health. But we're wrong about everything again.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

UPMARKET EXCUSES FOR JANUARY 6

Last night, when I wrote about Christopher Caldwell's New York Times op-ed, I didn't quite realize that one of Caldwell's assertions -- that the January 6 Capitol riot was unpleasant but not a serious problem because the insurrectionists had no real plan for seizing control of the government -- is the right's new (poll-tested?) talking point, intended to be widely distributed to serious-minded, well-informed citizens who presumably aren't buying talk of bamboo in the ballots and satellite vote switching from Italy.

Caldwell's argument shows up in nearly identical form in a Wall Street Journal editorial today. The editorial attempts to lull well-informed readers by conceding that the 2020 election was fair and the 1/6 unrest was violent:
The House inquiry on the events of Jan. 6 held its opening hearing Tuesday, and it showed why no Republican should try to brush aside the ugliness of the Capitol riot. The perpetrators who assaulted police that day weren’t overenthusiastic tourists, and the mob was not all a “loving crowd,” as Donald Trump characterized the audience for his pre-melee speech.

... President Trump urged his supporters to stop the supposed steal. On Jan. 6 some of them took his words seriously, literally, or both, and Mr. Trump dallied instead of rushing to Congress’s defense. The GOP would be better off ceding weak ground by admitting that the election wasn’t stolen and Mr. Trump was wrong.
But insurrection? Don't be silly!
The falseness in the Democratic story line is the idea that America’s constitutional order was hanging by a lone thread. The chairman of the Jan. 6 committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson, claimed in his opening remarks Tuesday that “the rioters came dangerously close to succeeding” in their effort to “upend American democracy.” This is in service of Mrs. Pelosi’s political narrative that Mr. Trump conspired with a mob to stage a coup d’état. She wants to run against Mr. Trump again in 2022.

This gives the mob far too much credit. Rioters believed Mr. Trump’s falsehoods about a stolen election, and some of them apparently thought they might stop Congress’s certification of the electoral votes. But that was an impossible fantasy. The Electoral College had already voted. Vice President Mike Pence had concluded, correctly and bravely, that he had no authority to reject the results. The rioters had no apparent leader and no coherent plan.
If there was no chance that the coup could succeed, why say that Pence "bravely" rejected it? A reader might conclude from that word that Pence and the rule of law were both at risk.
Even if they’d managed to steal or destroy the official Electoral College certificates, do Democrats think some knucklehead in face paint and a fur hat could have simply declared the election void? The public and the courts wouldn’t have stood for a rabble overturning the 2020 result. Mr. Trump didn’t have the military on his side, or even most of his own Administration.
What if the mob had succeeded in hanging Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi? What if, after that, they'd taken hostages? What if this inspired other wingnuts to march on D.C. in support of the hostage-takers?

No biggie! It would be business as usual, wouldn't it? Surely there'd be a peaceful transition of power two weeks later with no hiccups, right? That seems to be what the Journal ed board is telling us.

But does it matter how close the coup came to succeeding? Left-wing radicals in the 1960s and 1970s had dreams of bringing down the government with a few bank robberies and bombings, on the assumption that The People would rise up in response. Right-wing terrorists in subsequent decades have had similar thoughts. Should we have shrugged these people off because their revolutions were unlikely?

Conservatives used to harrumph that America was becoming dangerously lax in its tolerance of bad conduct. We were lowering our standards for what was considered pathological, they said -- in Daniel Patrick Moynihan's phrase, we were "defining deviancy down."

Now right-wingers are urging us to do just that.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

BUT YOU HAVE TO ADMIT THE INSURRECTIONISTS HAD SOME GOOD IDEAS, RIGHT?

A dozen years ago, Christopher Caldwell got respectful attention while endorsing what was essentially a European Great Replacement Theory. Dwight Garner of The New York Times summed up some of the assertions in Caldwell's 2009 book Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West.
Through decades of mass immigration to Europe's hospitable cities and because of a strong disinclination to assimilate, Muslims are changing the face of Europe, perhaps decisively. These Muslim immigrants are not so much enhancing European culture as they are supplanting it. The products of an adversarial culture, these immigrants and their religion, Islam, are "patiently conquering Europe's cities, street by street."
Garner was not appalled by this. He wrote:
Mr. Caldwell, a senior editor at The Weekly Standard and a columnist for The Financial Times, compiles his arguments patiently, twig by twig, and mostly with lucidity and intellectual grace and even wit....

Mr. Caldwell's book is well researched, fervently argued and morally serious.
Today, an op-ed by Caldwell appears in the Times, where he's a contributing opinion writer. In it, we're told that it was no big deal for the January 6 insurrectionists to assault the Capitol in the hope of overturning the results of a democratic election, because, heck, it's not as if they were going to succeed or anything.

Caldwell writes:
Were we really that close to a coup? ...

On the one hand, it is hard to think of a more serious assault on democracy than a violent entry into a nation’s capitol to reverse the election of its chief executive. Five people died. Chanting protesters urged the hanging of Vice President Mike Pence, who had refused Mr. Trump’s call that he reject certain electoral votes cast for Joe Biden.

On the other hand, Jan. 6 was something familiar: a political protest that got out of control. Contesting the fairness of an election, rightly or wrongly, is not absurd grounds for a public assembly. For a newly defeated president to call an election a “steal” is certainly irresponsible. But for a group of citizens to use the term was merely hyperbolic, perhaps no more so than calling suboptimal employment and health laws a “war on women.” ...

The stability of the republic never truly seemed at risk. As Michael Wolff writes of Mr. Trump in his new book, “Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency,” “Beyond his immediate desires and pronouncements, there was no ability — or structure, or chain of command, or procedures, or expertise, or actual person to call — to make anything happen.”
So the vice president and speaker of the House might have been assassinated -- Caldwell concedes that we got our hair mussed! But that's not like real insurrection!

Besides, the folks with the gallows had a point, according to Caldwell:
Republicans had — and still have — legitimate grievances about how the last election was run. Pandemic conditions produced an electoral system more favorable to Democrats. Without the Covid-era advantage of expanded mail-in voting, Democrats might well have lost more elections at every level, including the presidential.
The changes made in response to the pandemic were available to everybody; they were advantageous to Democrats only because Republicans didn't care about the risks of congregating in a pandemic. If Republicans had taken advantage of expanded mail-in voting, or if they had offered drive-through balloting in red precincts, no Democrat would have objected. More voting is good! One party believes that; the other doesn't.
Nor was it just luck; it was an advantage that, in certain places, Democrats manipulated the system to obtain. The majority-Democratic Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled in favor of a Democratic Party lawsuit to extend the date for accepting mail-in ballots beyond Election Day.
Yup, and the majority-Republican U.S. Supreme Court rejected all challenges to the extension of that deadline.

A dozen years ago, Caldwell wrote a "morally serious" book in which he made arguments about immigration in Europe that Tucker Carlson currently makes about immigration in America. Now Caldwell argues that the 2020 pre3sidential election kinda-sorta was rigged. And yet he's still regarded as respectable.

THE RAGE IS WHAT'S MISSING

Is Donald Trump losing his grip on the GOP?
Voters in North Texas delivered an upset Tuesday, picking GOP state Rep. Jake Ellzey to fill a vacant House seat over a candidate endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

Ellzey beat fellow Republican Susan Wright, the widow of former Rep. Ron Wright, 53 percent to 47 percent, when the Associated Press called the low-turnout, Republican-vs.-Republican runoff. Though Ellzey was better funded, Wright leaned heavily on her backing from the former president, who often plays kingmaker in Republican primaries.

Trump crashed into the race during the first round of voting in May, tapping Wright out of a crowded all-party primary and turning the contest into an early test of his post-presidency clout. He held two tele-town halls for her and taped a robocall for her, making the loss more painful.
So is it possible that Trump won't be able to take down Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, Brian Kemp, and other Republicans who opposed his efforts to steal the 2020 election? Is it possible that Mike Pence could beat Trump in the 2024 primaries?

I wouldn't go that far. Trump endorsed Susan Wright in this race, but he didn't hate Jake Ellzey. He didn't give Ellzey a demeaning nickname. He didn't accuse Ellzey of betraying Our Great Country (i.e., himself). He didn't inspire his followers to hate Ellzey, either.

I don't know why Trump's people encouraged him to issue endorsements in elections that he doesn't care about and that aren't relevant to any of his grievances. I guess the point was to show that he remains politically relevant. But a loss like this just make him look weak.

He isn't weak -- or at least he won't appear to be weak when he's on the campaign trail bashing Cheney and Kinzinger and the others who ratified the real election results in 2020. That recent poll of Republicans that shows Cheney with a disapproval rating 43 points higher than her approval rating is all the proof you need that Republican voters still hate the people Trump hates. So is Fox News's portrayal of the Capitol Police officers who testified at yesterday's January 6 committee hearing as whining crybabies.

When Trump returns to his sweet spot -- rage -- he'll be able decide elections again, or at least he'll be able to determine who loses them. Races like this Texas special election aren't good for his brand.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

THEY LIE ABOUT EVERYTHING

Trumpist America's widespread, deep-seated hostility toward the coronavirus vaccines is undeniable, and it's clear now that it's causing a new surge in infections. Conservative pundits could own this, either arguing that the refuseniks have good reason to put the lives of themselves and others at risk or acknowledging that people on their side have made an extremely unwise choice.

But it's so much easier for them to gaslight us.

The lead article at National Review's website right now is "Fact-Checkers Rewrite the History of Democrats’ Vaccine Skepticism" by David Harsanyi. I'm sure I don't have to tell you that the rewriting is actually being done by Harsanyi himself.

He tells us:
Vaccines do not organically appear from the ether. They are made. And both [Joe] Biden and [Kamala] Harris worked to discredit those charged with creating them.
Harsanyi offers no evidence that Biden and Harris tried to discredit vaccine creators because there is no such evidence. He muddles the distinction between scientists working in labs and Donald Trump working the levers of government as president. Harsanyi writes:
Harris claimed, for example, that even public-health experts who vouched for the vaccine shouldn’t be believed, because they “will be muzzled, they will be suppressed, they will be sidelined, because he’s looking at an election coming up in less than 60 days, and he’s grasping for whatever he can get to pretend that he has been a leader on this issue, when he has not.” Or, in other words, any vaccine produced during the Trump presidency should be seen as unreliable.
That's a context-free distortion of what Harris actually said to CNN's Dana Bash on September 6, 2020.
BASH: But do you trust that, in the situation where we're in now, that the public health experts and the scientists will get the last word on the efficacy of a vaccine?

HARRIS: If past is prologue, that they will not, that will be muzzled, they will be suppressed, they will be sidelined, because he's looking at an election coming up in less than 60 days, and he's grasping for whatever he can get to pretend that he has been a leader on this issue, when he has not.
Harris was predicting that government scientists wouldn't be allowed to offer a true assessment of the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines. The conversation continued.
BASH: So, let's just say there is a vaccine that is approved and even distributed before the election. Would you get it?

HARRIS: Well, I think that's going to be an issue for all of us.

I will say that I would not trust Donald Trump. And it would have to be a credible source of information that talks about the efficacy and the reliability of whatever he's talking about.
Asked whether she'd trust Dr. Anthony Fauci if he said a vaccine was safe and effective, Harris replied:
I think Dr. Fauci has proven, for anyone who's been watching him for years and years, to put the public health of the American people as the highest priority in terms of his work and his reputation and his priority.

Yes, I trust Dr. Fauci.
So she didn't claim that "public-health experts who vouched for the vaccine shouldn’t be believed."

Harsanyi continues:
Biden was no better, ... arguing that [potential vaccines] were “not likely to go through all the tests that need to be done and the trials that are needed to be done.”
Here's a fuller version of that Biden quote, From August 6, 2020:
The way he (Trump) talks about the vaccine is not particularly rational. He’s talking about it being ready, he’s going to talk about moving it quicker than the scientists think it should be moved.... People don’t believe that he’s telling the truth, therefore they’re not at all certain they’re going to take the vaccine. And one more thing: If and when the vaccine comes, it’s not likely to go through all the tests that need to be done, and the trials that are needed to be done.
Harsanyi writes as if this is disinformation totally divorced from reality.
Indeed, neither Harris nor Biden offered a shred of evidence that Moncef Slaoui, who was heading up Operation Warp Speed — or anyone else, for that matter — was being pressured by the administration to deliver an untested vaccine before Election Day....
But they didn't need to offer evidence because the evidence was widely reported on. Here's a New York Times story from October 5, 2020:
Top White House officials are blocking strict new federal guidelines for the emergency release of a coronavirus vaccine, objecting to a provision that would almost certainly guarantee that no vaccine could be authorized before the election on Nov. 3, according to people familiar with the approval process.

Facing a White House blockade, the Food and Drug Administration is seeking other avenues to ensure that vaccines meet the guidelines. That includes sharing the standards — perhaps as soon as this week — with an outside advisory committee of experts that is supposed to meet publicly before any vaccine is authorized for emergency use. The hope is that the committee will enforce the guidelines, regardless of the White House’s reaction....

The vaccine guidelines carry special significance: By refusing to allow the Food and Drug Administration to release them, the White House is undercutting the government’s effort to reassure the public that any vaccine will be safe and effective, health experts fear.
The next day, AP reported:
The Food and Drug Administration released updated safety standards Tuesday for makers of COVID-19 vaccines despite efforts by the White House to block them, clearing the way for requirements that are widely expected to prevent the introduction of a vaccine before Election Day.

In the new guidelines posted on its website, the FDA said vaccine makers should follow trial participants for at least two months to rule out any major side effects before seeking emergency approval. That standard had been a sticking point between the FDA and White House officials....
And it's not as if Trump was making any secret of wanting a vaccine October Surprise. From his Twitter:


And on October 7:
President Donald Trump said in a video posted Wednesday that “no president’s ever pushed” the Food and Drug Administration like he has as concerns mount that the administration is pressuring the agency to quickly authorize a vaccine for the coronavirus....

“We’re going to have a great vaccine very, very shortly. I think we should have it before the election, but frankly the politics gets involved and that’s OK. They want to play their games,” Trump said in a video posted on Twitter. “The FDA has acted as quickly as they’ve ever acted in history. ... No president’s ever pushed them like I’ve pushed them either, to be honest with you.”
Harsanyi writes:
Harris, incidentally, was given numerous opportunities to walk back or temper her claim that the process could be so easily corrupted. She doubled down, promising that: “If Donald Trump tells us to take it, I’m not taking it.”
She said that during the vice presidential debate, which took place on October 7 -- the day Trump, in a Twitter video, boasted about how much he was pressuring the FDA to approve a vaccine before the election. Harsanyi is wrong when he suggests that Biden and Harris's suspicions were unfounded -- and, of course, he truncates the Harris quote to make her seem categorically opposed to a vaccine produced during the Trump presidency. Here's what she said:
“If Dr. Fauci, if the doctors tell us that we should take it, I’ll be the first in line to take it. Absolutely,” Harris said. “But if Donald Trump tells us to take it, I’m not taking it.”
Harris's meaning is obvious. But because bad-faith arguments are all Republicans have, Harsanyi wants you to believe Harris and Biden rejected vaccines that they went on to get as soon as they were eligible, accepting the jabs with cameras rolling, unlike Trump, whom Harsanyi apparently holds blameless. These people lie about everything.

IF WE DON'T PAY MORE ATTENTION, THIS COULD BE A PREVIEW OF 2022

Yes, Gavin Newsom might be recalled.
Californians who say they expect to vote in the September recall election are almost evenly divided over whether to remove Gov. Gavin Newsom from office, evidence of how pivotal voter turnout will be in deciding the governor’s political fate, according to a new UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times....

The poll found that 47% of likely California voters supported recalling the Democratic governor, compared with 50% who opposed removing Newsom from office — a difference just shy of the survey’s margin of error.
The recall is failing badly -- 36% to 51% -- among registered voters. But a disproportionate share of likely voters are just who you think they'd be: members of the always-engaged party of permanent grievance, the GOP.
Though Republicans account for only about a quarter of all registered voters in California, the poll found that they account for 33% of those most likely to cast ballots in the recall election. Democrats make up 46% of the state’s 22 million voters and “no party preference” voters 24%, but their share of the likely recall voters drops to 42% and 18% respectively, DiCamillo said.
This poll could be an outlier -- most polls show the recall failing by double digits. However, it's not the only recent poll showing a tight contest -- an Emerson College poll for Inside California Politics has the recall trailing by only 5.

I suspect that Newsom will survive by a single-digit margin. But this shouldn't be close. Newsom won the 2018 ele3ction 62%-38%. Joe Biden won the state last year by 29 points.

But Democrats really might take their eye off the ball, partly because it's an off-cycle election, and partly because, to many non-Republican voters, electoral politics just doesn't seem to be an emergency anymore.

Republicans rarely feel that way. They'll turn out. And they'll turn out in the midterms. I'm not sure Democrats will. Trump's gone, right? So what's the big deal?

For decades, the right-wing media has found a way to keep conservative-leaning voters permanently engaged, by turning every political story in America into a wrestling match with a hero and a heel. Democrats energized their base against Trump and, before that, against George W. Bush. But the engagement lags when there isn't a high-profile villain.

What do we do to reverse this tendency? I'm stumped.

Monday, July 26, 2021

THE NEED TO ELEVATE CHENEY AND KINZINGER IS A MARK OF DEMOCRATIC FAILURE

This is today's news:
Democrats are seeking to elevate the role of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) on the committee examining the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, scheduling her to deliver one of the two opening statements at the panel’s first public hearing Tuesday, according to two people familiar with the decision.

The move is intended to present the committee as a bipartisan effort following Republican leadership’s decision not to participate in the panel after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) last week rejected two of Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s picks for the panel.
Yesterday, there was this:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Sunday she has appointed GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger to the House select committee to investigate the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, bolstering the Republican presence on the panel after GOP leadership pulled its appointees last week.
And a few days ago, there was this:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats are considering ... asking a former GOP congressman to serve on committee staff amid a standoff with House GOP leaders over their picks for the panel....

Former Virginia GOP Rep. Denver Riggleman, a former intelligence officer who lost his primary last year, has been a forceful critic of other Republicans over election-related disinformation and QAnon conspiracy theories, and could join the committee staff in an advisory capacity, according to sources briefed on the discussions.
Adding Cheney and Kinzinger might have the intended effect: persuading middle-of-the-road voters that the committee is a bipartisan effort to get to the truth. Or perhaps the endless braying of Republicans will dominate the discussion:
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), recently elevated to the House GOP leadership because of her devotion to Trump and the lie of widespread election fraud, released a statement saying “the Pelosi partisan January 6th commission was never about investigating the facts, it was only ever about Pelosi’s radical politics and the Left’s endless obsession with crushing any discussion or debate.”
Led by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Republicans are referring to Cheney and Kinzinger as "Pelosi Republicans," as if that's all you need to know about their fitness to serve.

But maybe the Democrats' strategy will work. That will be a good thing -- but it shouldn't be necessary.

If we lived in a country where Democrats in Congress were presumed to be genuine Americans and patriots, and, further, if we lived in a country where the attempt to overturn the results of a legitimate election did the damage to the GOP that it should have done, Pelosi wouldn't have been worried about the possible perception that her party was acting in a partisan way, any more than Republicans worried when they conducted endless flagrantly partisan investigations of Benghazi (which did no harm to Republicans and a great deal of political harm to Hillary Clinton).

There's one treasonous major party in America, and there's one party that white middle American voters believe is a treasonous major party -- and they're not the same party. For decades, Democrats have allowed themselves to be demonized and slandered by GOP politicians and right-wing media figures, and have never mounted an effort to improve their party's image. At the same time, they've never done the work necessary to persuade the American people that the GOP is as extreme and unpatriotic as it actually is.

If the white heartland Americans who decide our elections had an accurate understanding of Republican extremism and contempt for democracy, they wouldn't care whether members of the party were represented on the 1/6 commission. In fact, they'd regard any Republicans on the committee, even the ones who accept the election results, with suspicion, just because they're Republicans.

But because heartland whites regard all Democrats rather than all Republicans as suspect unless proven otherwise, Pelosi needs to include members of the GOP on the committee.

Democrats are doing what they need to do under the circumstances. But what they're doing should be necessary.

BIDEN AND HARRIS SOMEHOW PERSUADED REPUBLICANS TO REFUSE THE VACCINE, BUT NOT DEMOCRATS

I don't care that Arkansas governor-to-be Sarah Huckabee Sanders refers to "the Trump vaccine" in her recent op-ed, in which she urges readers to get inoculated against COVID. And I'm not surprised that she lies in this passage:
When the Trump administration initiated Operation Warp Speed in May 2020, the president stated that a vaccine would become available by December of that year at the very latest. From the moment he made his announcement, the "expert" class tried to undermine those statements with baseless fear-mongering.

The New York Times ran an opinion piece claiming that whatever the Trump administration released would likely be a dangerous political stunt. CNN did the same. But no one did more to undercut public confidence in the vaccine than Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Biden doubted that the vaccine would be "real," while Harris said in a nationally-televised debate that she would not take any vaccine the Trump administration had a hand in creating.
In fact, Biden and Harris merely expressed doubts about a vaccine approved before the election, and said they wouldn't trust a vaccine unless it had the imprimatur of the scientific community. Harris said:
If the public health professionals, if Dr. Fauci, if the doctors tell us that we should take it, I’ll be the first in line to take it. Absolutely. But if Donald Trump tells us that we should take it, I’m not taking it.
Biden said:
And the question of whether it’s real, when it’s there, that requires enormous transparency. You’ve got to make all of it available to other experts across the nation, so they can look and see, so there’s consensus this is a safe vaccine.
The Times op-ed Sanders cites, by Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel and Dr. Paul A. Offit, made a similar argument:
Given how this president has behaved, this incredibly dangerous scenario is not far-fetched. In a desperate search for a political boost, he could release a coronavirus vaccine before it had been thoroughly tested and shown to be safe and effective.
I haven't found the CNN piece Sanders cites, but I'm sure it makes a similar argument.

Of course Sanders lies. Her intended Republican audience is so used to lies from its politicians that it probably wouldn't respond to rhetoric that's truthful.

What's striking about the Sanders op-ed is her conclusion: that as a result of all these denunciations of the Trump vaccine program by evil liberals, the vaccine is now being widely rejected ... by Trump fans. It's not being rejected by liberals -- people who voted for Biden and Harris, who read The New York Times, and who watch CNN. Biden, Harris, CNN, and the Times persuaded only right-wingers to be wary of the vaccines. In fact, right-wingers are so wary of the vaccines that they won't even listen to the man they believe is still the real president.

According to right-wingers, Biden and Harris didn't persuade enough people to vote for them to legitimately win the election. According to right-wingers, CNN and The New York Times are dying "legacy media" institutions that no one takes seriously. But right-wingers also believe that Biden, Harris, and these media voices are more persuasive on vaccines than The Greatest President Ever -- except in the case of their own backers. Strange how that works.

THANKS

I'm back. Thank you, Tom and Yas, for elevating the level of discourse while I was away. I'm not sure I can maintain the high standards, but I'll try.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

It's Complicated, Ross

 



Monsignor Ross Douthat, apostolic nuncio to 42nd Street, has a new complaint, or meta-complaint, above and beyond the usual ones that liberals are too permissive about sex (1960s hippie edition) or not permissive enough (2010s feminism)—that we can't make up our minds between the two at all ("Can the Left Regulate Sex?"):

in its retreat from the Polanski era, its concession that sometimes it’s OK to forbid, cultural progressivism entered into a long internal struggle over what its goal ought to be — to maximize permissiveness with some minimalist taboos (no rape, no sex with children) or to devise a broader set of sexual regulations that would reflect egalitarian and feminist values rather than religious ones.

This tension is visible all over recent history. The mood in which liberals defended Bill Clinton’s philandering was an example of the more permissive option. The mood of the #MeToo era, which condemned cads as well as rapists, is an example of the more regulatory approach.

Taken for granted that "we" literally have to "regulate sex", because

I don’t know how long the current period of progressive cultural power can last. But so long as it does, these debates will continue, because the regulation of sex is an inescapable obligation of power.

Calling Professor Foucault! Is this true? What I think Professor Foucault says in the first place is, "Thanks for proving my point, Ross!" 

Since the burden of the book, at least the first volume, was to show that 17th-century absolutists of church and state generally created the concept of "sexuality" as a discrete and separate "discursive object" in order to dominate the sexual behavior of the subjects, beginning with the Roman Catholic church at the time of the Counter-Reformation, with its elaborate confessional routine asking sinners to work out an inordinately detailed and structured account of their sexual sins. They claimed that "obligation" as an excuse for exerting control over the whole population.

Little did Foucault realize, I guess, how badly the Church had been able to police its own enforcers—it was in 1985, just a year after his death, that the clerical sex abuse scandal in the US originally broke out in a big way, with the guilty plea of ex-Father Gilbert Gaulthe on his molestations of hundreds of boys in the course of performing his duties as a priest in New Iberia and Vermilion Parish between 1974 and 1983, the first in a long series of horrible revelations of rape and abuse on the part of (some, obviously very far from all) Catholic parish priests and their bishops' failure to curb the practices, fighting the authority of the state to interfere as it handled abuse complaints too often by transferring the accused priest to a different location where he continued his criminal behavior on fresh victims.