Sunday, February 28, 2021

MINIMIZING BIDEN'S WIN BY CALLING IT "LUCKY"

In The Washington Post, Carlos Lozada reviews this:
I haven't read the book myself, but I hate this framing. Of course, Beltway insider journalists, while they might skew liberal, appear to loathe actually exisiting Democrats, with occasional temporary exceptions (Barack Obama in 2008, Pete Buttigieg in 2020).

Allen and Parnes come to this project ready to take Biden down several pegs.
Four years ago, Allen and Parnes co-authored the best-selling “Shattered,” an examination of Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 campaign, in which they placed the blame largely on the ineptitude of the losing side. In this sequel, they are only slightly more generous with the Democratic nominee.
They tell us:
Joe Biden won, of course, but mainly because he “caught every imaginable break.” He was the “process-of-elimination candidate,” emerging from a crowded set of more exciting Democratic contenders. He was “lousy in debates and lackluster on the trail,” prevailing despite “a bland message and a blank agenda.” Biden, they argue, got lucky.
Biden might have been a process-of-elimination candidate for White Democrats, but he started with very strong support from Black Democrats -- the real base of the party. But who cares what they think, right?
The fiasco of the Iowa caucuses, where the app designed to report the results failed miserably, temporarily obscured Biden’s fourth-place showing. “This was a gift,” a campaign aide later explained.
This is so insider-y it makes my teeth hurt. Regardless of the vote-counting problems, it was clear to everyone watching that Biden lost badly. Some headlines: "How Iowa Slipped Away From Joe Biden: Former vice president now must convince donors and voters in other early states to stick with him in a fiercely competitive field" (Wall Street Journal): "Bye-Bye, Biden: The former vice president is not likely to recover from coming in fourth in Iowa" (The Nation); "Biden's Poor Showing in Iowa Shakes Establishment Support" (AP); "First Head Rolls After Biden’s Weak Iowa Finish" (Politico). After Iowa, you either thought Biden was toast or you thought his only hope was the South, where the electorate would skew non-white. No one thought, "Oh gosh, how did Biden do? I completely missed that because I was too fixated on the technical glitches."
Luck returned when rival Democrats such as Pete Buttigieg (who ended up winning Iowa) and Mike Bloomberg (who won American Samoa) suffered debate night takedowns by Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren — and when Biden survived his own hit from Kamala Harris over his past positions on school busing and desegregation.
Yes, Biden caught a massive break because his rivals were attacked in debates and he wasn't... oh, wait, that's not the message here. Biden was attacked, just like Bloomberg and Buttigieg, except he survived being attacked. They didn't.
But Trump offered his rival some luck, too, when the president failed to deal effectively or humanely with the coronavirus pandemic. Allen and Parnes quote then-senior campaign official Anita Dunn, now a White House adviser, discussing how the outbreak affected Biden’s prospects. “COVID is the best thing that ever happened to him,” she told an associate early in the crisis, according to the authors. It’s a cynical way to regard a disease that would go on to take the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans, even if it was, they write, what Biden campaign aides “believed but would never say in public.” Well, it’s public now.
So it was a lucky break for Biden that a president who'd faced no serious crises actually faced one, as presidents regularly do? No, that's not how it works. Trump was the lucky one because his first real crisis came so late in his term -- this after he'd had the lucky break of being inaugurated on economic third base and telling everyone he'd hit a triple.

Also, the pandemic improved poll numbers for many governors -- Cuomo, DeWine, Whitmer. If they appeared to be taking the pandemic seriously, the public responded well. COVID helped Biden because Trump had a golden opportunity to demonstrate competence and human feelings, and failed at both.

Would Biden have struggled in a normal year? It's possible -- but his poll numbers vs. Trump were as strong in 2019 as they were in 2020. He was a broadly acceptable Democrat at a time when more than half the country just wanted someone who promised a clean break with Trump (but much of the country had internalized the "scary extreme socialist Democrats" framing of the GOP). Biden promised a return to normality. Much of America wanted that even before COVID. If he got lucky, it was running against the most polarizing, exhausting, emotionally draining president ever. And maybe he was simply the best candidate to do that.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

WINNING, RETROACTIVELY?

Jonathan Chait tries to understand why Republicans continue to embrace a loser:
Trump’s appeal to his party was rooted in his reality-television-corroborated claim to be a lifelong winner. Come to Trump’s side, he promised incessantly, and you will win so much you’ll get tired of it. What value does he still have now? When previous defeated presidents were discarded, why cling to the one whose value proposition was based on never being a loser?
There's an explanation:
An important part of the answer is that, seen through Republican eyes, Trump didn’t lose at all. Recent polls have found anywhere from 68 to 83 percent of Republican voters believe the election was stolen.
And now Republicans feel victimized by people who insist that Joe Biden's win was legitimate:
Support for Trump has ceased to be a strategy for acquiring power. It has become an act of rebellion. The powers that be wish to control your mind by making you believe Joe Biden legitimately won the 2020 presidential election. In this context, denying the election outcome, and clinging to Trump, feels like an act of power.
It might feel like an act of power because it is an act of power. If it's a means of getting other Republicans elected in 2022 --and possibly getting Trump or a Trump-anointed presidential candidate elected in 2024 -- then it's still about winning electorally.

Republicans are using the election-theft lie as an excuse for further curtailment of Democratic voting. Then they'll use the lie to motivate GOP turnout in future elections.

It could work. If it does work in 2022, not only will Republicans gain power, they'll say the results prove that America is a right-leaning country, and thus the results of the 2020 presidential contest really were illegitimate.

I'm not sure how many people will actually buy this. But we need to keep beating them in elections -- we need to sustain the level of intensity we had in 2020, which won't be easy -- or the narrative will be (Republican version) that there was a sustained, Trumpian Republican renaissance after the Obama presidency that included the 2020 election or (non-Republican version) that the 2020 election was a fluke victory for the Democrats, and while there might be questions about how the GOP wins, there's no question that they have a near-lock on the electoral process. We need to prevent that from happening.

Friday, February 26, 2021

WHY DOES THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA PAY SO MUCH ATTENTION TO CPAC?

CPAC has started again, and if you read political sites or follow politics journalists on Twitter, you're seeing a lot of coverage -- much more than there'd be for a Democratic analogue to CPAC, if one existed. (Netroots Nation is close, but it's not the same.)

Why the fascination with CPAC? I think it derives from the GOP's highly successful, decades-long effort to persuade the mainstream media that Republicans are the normative Americans. The establishment press has internalized this notion even though most elite journalists wouldn't want to be Republicans. After watching them since 1980, I have no doubt that they think America is a Republican nation even though most of them consider themselves part of a different nation.

You could argue that they're covering CPAC now because they want to report on the so-called GOP civil war between the Trumpers and the not-quite-Trumpers -- but they were fascinated by CPAC before Donald Trump, and they'll be fascinated by it for years to come even if Trump drops dead tomorrow; they consider the red meat at CPAC sexy, in a rugged, blue-collar way (even when it's embodied in a doughy Ivy Leaguer like Ted Cruz).

The press's fascination with CPAC suggests that its many safaris to rural American diners since Trump's election in 2016 had nothing to do with making amends to voters the media believed it had ignored and had everything to do with the belief that in those diners would be found the voices of the rightful rulers of America, or at least the voices of the people who vote for those rightful rulers.

Enough already. We know what these people think. Trump's speech might be newsworthy, but the rest of the event is just Breitbart or Gateway Pundit or Newsmax TV in a different medium. We don't need to know that much about it. We've heard it all before.

RUNNING AGAINST THE DEMOCRATS WHILE IGNORING WHAT THEY'RE DOING

Republicans have expressed opposition to the COVID relief bill but don't seem to be going all out to block it. Paul Krugman is puzzled.
What those of us who participated in economic debates during the early Obama years remember was the constant drumbeat of warnings that the new president’s policies would produce disaster. The Obama stimulus was considerably smaller than the Biden plan (indeed, much too small, but that’s another story). Yet not a week went by without loud claims that hyperinflation and a debt crisis were just around the corner.

And Republicans also spent years denouncing Obamacare as a tyrannical job-killer, while they’ve barely mentioned the significant expansion in Obamacare that is contained within the Biden proposal.

So what’s different this time?
Krugman has several theories: That this stimulus bill is easier to understand than Obama's. That Republicans don't have as many wonks (or faux-wonks like Paul Ryan) available to denounce the bill in smart-sounding ways.

Jonathan Chait believes that Republicans have simply given up on trying to fight Keynesian economics.
Many observers in both parties anticipated that the switch to a Democratic president would drive the GOP back to the libertarian purity that it has habitually clung to in opposition. But more than a month in, barely a sign of it can be found. The absence of a renewed anti-government impulse suggests a profound historic change may be afoot: The Republican Party is finally abandoning its crusade to roll back the New Deal....

Why has the dream that animated generations of Ayn Rand–toting Buckleyites to join the cause been quietly forgotten?

... Trump has genuinely changed Republican elites’ thinking about what their voters care about. “One of the things we discovered to our dismay in 2016 is that the electorate — the base of the Republican Party — was really not conservative in any meaningful way,” explains Mona Charen. Charen comes from the party’s anti-Trump wing, but pro-Trump Republicans have been saying similar things throughout....
In other words, they realized that their voters like what they've long denounced as "free stuff."

Is that it? Or is another idea Krugman has closer to the real explanation?
An unintended consequence of the Big Lie about the election may be that it undercuts Republican opposition to Democratic policy priorities. The right-wing media complex, vast as it is, has to deal with its viewers’ and listeners’ limited attention spans. Every hour spent promulgating conspiracy theories about election fraud and false-flag Antifa operations is an hour not spent frightening audiences about the imminent death of the dollar at the hands of Democratic big spenders.
Republicans may have decided that it doesn't matter what Democrats do -- in 2022 and 2024, they'll just run against a caricature of the Democrats, based on whatever forms of scaremongering are working best to fire up their base.

Note this Breitbart story:
Republican voters are more concerned about illegal immigration to the United States than any other issue, including the economic damage caused by the ... coronavirus crisis, a new survey reveals.

A survey by Echelon Insights finds that above all other issues, illegal immigration concerns Republican voters the most.

When asked to rank issues by level of concern, nearly 6-in-10 Republicans said they are “extremely concerned” about illegal immigration, while 22 percent said they are “very concerned.” Another seven percent of Republicans said they are “somewhat concerned” about illegal immigration.

The second most concerning issue to Republicans is anti-law enforcement rhetoric. About 59 percent said they were extremely concerned about the issue, 20 percent said they were very concerned, and 14 percent said they were somewhat concerned.
(I'm sure none of the Republican survey respondents thought it was hypocritical to express alarm at "anti-law enforcement rhetoric" shortly after a January 6 Republican riot in which police officers were attacked and one cop died. I'm certain that they believe all the violence was caused by Antifa, or that if cops were attacked, it was justifiable because the cops weren't "following the Constitution" by allowing the rioters to seize control of the government.)

Here's a chart of GOP voters' top concerns, according to Echelon:


Liberal bias in the mainstream media! Socialism! Antifa violence! Election fraud! Tech company censorship! Discrimination against Christians! These are the monsters Fox News, Newsmax, and OANN tell conservatives are under their beds. These are concerns that have little or no connection to what Democrats have been doing in D.C. since January 20 or are likely to do over the next four years. Republicans may have realized that their best shot at getting their base to vote for them might be to ignore President Biden altogether and just keep talking about the War on Christianity and autonomous zones in Portland.

Hey, it works for the right-wing media. Why not for Mitch McConnell?

Thursday, February 25, 2021

OF COURSE MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE WANTS TO LEGISLATE (IN HER FASHION)!

Marjorie Taylor Greene's schtick is so tiresome even Chris Cillizza is disgusted by it.
On Wednesday, Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene posted an 11-second video on Twitter that shows her posting a sign outside of her congressional office that reads: "There are two genders: Male and Female. Trust the Science."

She tweeted this along with the video: "Our neighbor, @RepMarieNewman, wants to pass the so-called 'Equality' Act to destroy women's rights and religious freedoms" she tweeted. "Thought we'd put up ours so she can look at it every time she opens her door." Greene added a winking face emoji and an American flag.
Representative Newman, who has a trans daughter, had posted a video in which she put up a transgender flag outside her office. This was Greene's response.

Cillizza writes:
... Greene isn't putting that sign up because she thinks it might have some sort of actual effect on the debate over the Equality Act. The bill has support among the Democratic House majority and is likely to pass. Greene knows that. All she is doing is rallying her political base by putting on a performance with zero actual effect on how or whether this bill will become a law or not....

For Greene, the performance and the controversy is the point. She has zero interest in actually legislating or even trying to build relationships with colleagues with whom she may not agree. Her sole interest is in building her Twitter followers, her small-dollar donor base and her profile on Fox News. That's success for Greene. That's how she views the job of representing the people of the 14th district of Georgia.
It's hard to argue with this. The performance and controversy are the point, for both Greene and her voters.

But is it true that Greene "has zero interest in actually legislating"? I looked up the bills she's co-sponsoring, and there are quite a few of them. Here are the purposes of some of those bills:
To prohibit contributions to the United Nations Human Rights Council, and for other purposes.

To implement equal protection under the 14th article of amendment to the Constitution for the right to life of each born and preborn human person.

To declare English as the official language of the United States, to establish a uniform English language rule for naturalization, and to avoid misconstructions of the English language texts of the laws of the United States, pursuant to Congress' powers to provide for the general welfare of the United States and to establish a uniform rule of naturalization under article I, section 8, of the Constitution
This one was backed for many years by Steve King. The current lead sponsor is Louis Gohmert.
To remove Federal funding from enforcing gun control.

To terminate the Department of Education.

To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to deny the tax exempt status for bonds issued by sanctuary jurisdictions.

Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act

Justice for Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act of 2021

Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2021
That one is also about the trans menace.
Old Glory Only Act
Explanation: "This bill prohibits the flying of any flag other than the U.S. flag over U.S. diplomatic and consular posts." (I'm sure its sponsored would be happy to make an exception for Trump flags.)
Fund and Complete the Border Wall Act

Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act
That one says that if you can get a concealed-carry permit in the most lenient state in the Union, we have to let you pack heat in Times Square.

And then there's the resolution she introduced immediately after Inauguration Day:
Impeaching Joseph R. Biden, President of the United States, for abuse of power by enabling bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors.
Hey, that's constructive, isn't it? I'm sure she thinks it is, and I'm sure she feels the same way about all these other bills that are going nowhere -- at least in this session of Congress. A few years from now, who knows? If Republicans suppress enough votes, they might regain control of Congress and the White House, and many of these bills could actually become law.

NO, THESE DEMS DON'T WANT TO RESTRICT THE PRESIDENT'S NUCLEAR AUTHORITY BECAUSE THEY THINK HE'S MENTALLY IMPAIRED

Fox News reports:
About three dozen House Democrats have signed a letter asking President Biden to renounce his sole authority to launch nuclear weapons, according to reports....

"Vesting one person with this authority entails real risks," the letter from Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., and obtained by Politico reads. "Past presidents have threatened to attack other countries with nuclear weapons or exhibited behavior that caused other officials to express concern about the president’s judgment."
Newsmax has a similar story, citing the original Politico report. Fox and Newsmax don't explicitly state what they want their audiences to take away from this story, but Gateway Pundit says what they're thinking, or at least what they expect their fan base to think:
According to recent reports, there are a number of Democrats who don’t want Joe Biden to have full control of America’s nuclear weapons.

Do they know something the rest of us don’t? Or is it possible that they know what everyone knows, that Biden’s mental state is compromised by his advanced age?

Either way, this isn’t a very good look....

What could explain such a thing? Maybe this:

But the principal co-signer of Panetta's letter is fellow congressman Ted Lieu -- who's introduced a bill called the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act, which would codify these changes in nuclear policy, in 2016, 2017, and 2019. Senate backers of the measure have included Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

The Fox and Newsmax stories contain no explicit references to Biden's mental health, but even without them, readers get the hint. From the Newsmax comments:
The Democrat/Hate Party knows that Beijing Biden is TRUTHFULLY MENTALLY IMPAIRED. They don't trust him. Of course they will not admit it because they LIE about everything under the Sun.

The time is getting close for KOMMIE HARRIS to move into the White House. Get Ready.

****

That's code for don't trust the Dementia patient.

****

Joes ability to think clearly was gone long ago, pink elephants etc. occupy his brain most of the time. he publicly has shown a cognitive problem, ask any doctor.
And my favorite comment:
Ahh yes, the nuclear football that is traditionally handed off from Pres to Pres on inauguration day, but Trump headed off to Mar Lago (AKA, The Southern Whitehouse). There are actually two footballs and word is, Joe's is a dud.

There's also two identical Air Force-1 planes, but Joe had to charter a private jet to his own inauguration... that's weird. Then when we finally do see Joe boarding an "AF-1", it doesn't even look like the same plane Trump's been flying on the last four years. The nose cone (Modified for Mid-air refueling?), isn't even close.

The real AF-1's are flying fortresses, capable of withstanding massive EMP attacks. If Joe is flyi8ng around in a cheap imitation, he is not the POTUS, period!
That settles it! If Biden isn't flying around in a plane that looks like Air Force One to Newsmax readers, he's not president! It's in the Constitution!

I suppose Fox and Newsmax occasionally run stories that aren't intended to make the audience hate Democrats even more, but that appears to happen rarely. This is a benign-seeming story, but it's meant to make Biden look impaired. And it's working.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

REPUBLICANS ARE BETTER AT MARCHING IN LOCKSTEP THAN NORTH KOREAN SOLDIERS

These guys seem good at marching in lockstep...


...but they're amateurs compared to Republicans:


What is the COVID bill again, boys and girls? It's a socialist wish list!

This is all Republicans do. Apart from winning elections, cutting taxes and regulations for the rich, and appointing judges who'll ensure that regulations and rich people's taxes get cut even more and Republicans win even more elections, Republicans seek to do nothing with the powers of government. Therefore, all Republicans can offer their voters is resentment, doled out in catchphrases. This has been true for years, so by now Republican voters are conditioned to want nothing more from their elected officials. They crave the catchphrases. They shout them right back at their members of Congress and their favorite media figures.

Republicans can't legislate. Lucky for them, they don't have to.

REPUBLICANS WON'T PERCEIVE A 1/6 COMMISSION AS BALANCED NO MATTER HOW MANY PARTY MEMBERS ARE ON IT

Politico Playbook writes about a proposed commission to study the January 6 riots:
When Republican TOM KEAN became head of the 9/11 Commission, he got a call from TIM RUSSERT asking him to come on “Meet the Press.” Kean said he’d only appear if his Democratic counterpart on the commission, LEE HAMILTON, were invited too.

Russert balked....
Which reminds us that the Sunday chat shows have had a pro-Republican bias forever, and there was no "golden age" in the Tim Russert era, as some seem to believe.
... Kean — believing the only way for the commission to work was for it to look and act completely bipartisan — told him to “find someone else.” Russert called him back five minutes later and relented. And the commission, which was split evenly between Republicans and Democrats, went on to become one of the most praised instances of bipartisan oversight in modern history.
This story is told as an admonishment to Nancy Pelosi:
Twenty years later, Speaker NANCY PELOSI is calling for a “9/11-style” commission to investigate Jan. 6. But instead of equal representation, Pelosi’s initial recommendation is for the panel to be made up of seven Democratic-appointed members and four Republican-appointed ones.

That would be a mistake, the leaders of the original commission, Kean and Hamilton, told Playbook. Republican voters will never accept the findings if there’s even a whiff of the investigation being driven by Democrats....

Pelosi’s office has said her proposal was only a “discussion draft.” And a Democrat familiar with negotiations over the commission said it’s the GOP that’s playing politics with it, dragging out the process and refusing to commit to a defined purpose for the panel.
In a better country, I'd agree that a 1/6 commission should have equal party representation. But members of the commission should agree on basic facts: that Joe Biden won the election legitimately; that citizens had a right to protest the election outcome but didn't have a right to overrun the Capitol with violent intent; that "patriotism" is not a synonym for "conservatism" or "support for Donald Trump."

But if you find Republicans who agree to all these things, no Republican voter will acknowledge that they're actually party members in good standing. They'll be described as RINOs, cucks, and members of the "Uniparty."

None of the members of the 9/11 Commission held elective office at the time of the appointments. Most were politcal retirees. That might be a better approach to follow now than a commission made up of sitting members of Congress.

But whoever sits on the commission, it will never impress conservatives as balanced unless it completely exonerates the right. An honest, balanced commission might impress liberal and centrist voters, but right-wingers will denounce even Republican members as Deep State puppets unless they conclude that the real villains of 1/6 were Antifa and Nancy Pelosi.

So it probably doesn't matter what the commission looks like. It won't help us achieve a national consensus.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

WHO'S AN EVIL ELITIST? LET'S ASK THE FOLKS ON THE HORSESHOE

An NBC News survey claims that over the past decade there's been a significant increase in the percentage of blue-collar Americans who identify as Republicans, and a significant decrease in the percentage who identify as Democrats. Whether or not this is the case, it has led to much crowing among Republicans -- particularly non-blue-collar Republicans like Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani boasted about this survey on Twitter, to which I responded with a snarky photo tweet -- at which point a Trumper responded to me:


This is why I believe that a large portion of America will just shrug if Donald Trump is charge with financial felonies, even if he's sent to prison. Forty years of Reaganite propaganda has persuaded much of America that people in business are doing the Lord's work, while history's greatest monsters are (ick! ptui!) politicians (who often become quite financially comfortable, but rarely live the lifestyle Trump has lived, unless they were wealthy before they ran for office). But that's right-wing "anti-elitism" -- it isn't anti the most elite of elitists.

And at the other end of the horseshoe are the liberal-hating leftists Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper, and their podcast guest Aaron Maté. I won't dwell on the first part of this clip, in which, among other things, Maté chortles over liberal concerns about Russia, such as the fear, once expressed by the hated Rachel Maddow, that Russia could possibly shut down part of the U.S. power grid with a cyberattack (even though Russia did precisely that to Ukraine in 2016). Maté regards the belief that Russia is dangerous as QAnon-level crackpottery -- he calls it "BlueAnon." Which leads to Taibbi's comments at 1:17 in the clip below.



Taibbi says:
I mean, it's funny because QAnon, in its specifics, is about as crazy as a thing can possibly get. I mean, it's -- the explanation is so we-- you would need, like, a chart this big to be able to diagram the ostensible plot to it.

But the underlying thought is that it's, you know, sort of a coalition of Trumpists who are taking on these elitists who, you know, want to take over the rest of society. So there's a core of, like, emotional truth animating the QAnon theory....
Yes, there's "truth," or at least "emotional truth," in the QAnon notion that "elitists" bent on global domination are being challenged by heroic "Trumpists" -- who are, we are to assume, totally not elitists and who totally don't "want to take over the rest of society."

So the MAGA right and the liberal-hating left agree: there's a dangerous cabal of elitist enemies, but it sure as hell doesn't include the previous Republican president -- who is a billionaire, or at least lives like one -- or his rich Republican allies.

WE WON'T GET WHAT WE NEED FROM TRUMP'S FINANCIAL RECORDS

If you're hoping we'll soon see the downfall of Donald Trump in a Manhattan courtroom, you might need to temper your expectations.
Terabytes of data. Dozens of prosecutors, investigators and forensic accountants sifting through millions of pages of financial documents. An outside consulting firm drilling down on the arcana of commercial real estate and tax strategies.

That is the monumental task that lies ahead in the Manhattan district attorney’s criminal investigation into former President Donald J. Trump and his family business after a United States Supreme Court order on Monday cleared the way for prosecutors to obtain eight years worth of Mr. Trump’s tax returns and other financial records.
Settle in. This will take a while.

And if a case is brought against Trump, it's unlikely that it will tell an emotionally compelling story.
The subpoenas relate to a central aspect of [Manhattan DA Cyrus] Vance’s inquiry, which focuses on whether Mr. Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, inflated the value of some of his signature properties to obtain the best possible loans, while lowballing the values to reduce property taxes, people with knowledge of the matter have said. The prosecutors are also examining the Trump Organization’s statements to insurance companies about the value of various assets.
A monster like Trump and that's what we're going to get him on? Tinkering with the stated values of his properties so he can get better terms on loans and shave some dollars off his taxes?

Sure, if it happens, it will be satisfying to those of us who already despise him. And I'm not saying that we need to charge him with offenses so egregious that even MAGA Nation will turn against him -- that could never happen, even if he killed someone in cold blood.

But there are many Americans in the middle -- people who don't love or hate Trump. Their equivalents in the 1970s eventually acknowledged that Richard Nixon was a bad man whose resignation was good for the country.

Donald Trump is much worse than Nixon, and yet Trump's poll numbers never sunk to the mid-20s during his presidency, the way Nixon's did, even after two impeachments. Nixon was eventuslly regarded as the greatest living monster in American politics. Much of America still doesn't see Trump that way.

Many Americans assume that everyone in big business cooks the books. They think New York real estate is a tough, cutthroat enterprise, and that you have to work the angles to make money.

Many Americans won't understand what the crimes are. They'll be bored by the details. They won't see how they were harmed by what Trump did. Remember when The New York Times obtained Trump tax records and ran a massive story about the financial chicanery they revealed? Most of America yawned.

I'd love to see Trump go to prison. But I'd also love to see him become the national pariah that Nixon became, someone who's an embarrassment even to his party-mates. We're not there yet. And a long investigation into business crimes, followed by a trial focused on a complicated parsing of financial documents, won't get us there.

Monday, February 22, 2021

THE ELEVEN WORDS IN TRUMP'S "PERSECUTION" STATEMENT THAT SCARE ME

I'm sure you know that the Supreme Court has refused to block a demand from the Manhattan DA's office for tax documents from Donald Trump. As Jonathan Chait notes, Trump is flipping out.
He did not take the defeat in stride. Instead, the former president released a statement that, even by Trumpian standards, brims with anger.
The statement -- which, as Chait notes, "bears every hallmark of an authentically Trump-authored text, as opposed to the knockoff versions produced by his aides" -- appears below, courtesy of CNN's Jim Acosta. I'll grant that it's emotionally satisfying to watch Trump sputter with rage -- but one phrase in this statement alarms me:


It's the phrase at the end of the third paragraph, in which Trump rails against "'headhunting' prosecutors and AGs." He says prosecutors want to "take [him] out" -- and then writes, "except that the people of our Country won't stand for it."

When Trump says, "the people of our Country," he always means the people of his country: Trump voters, whom he regards as the only legitimate Americans. And what does he mean when he says they "won't stand for it"? What right do the residents of MAGA Nation have to intervene in prosecutions by a DA in Manhattan? Even if they wanted to intervene, how would they do it?

After January 6, we know the answer to that: They'd do it by means of political violence.

I wrote about this back in November. I was reading about a pro-Trump demonstration in D.C. that, as it turned out, wasn't very large and never became violent, but what I feared at the time actually happened a couple of months later. I noted that in 2010 the Obama administration abandoned plans to try the 9/11 plotters in Manhattan, because the security plan for the area around the courthouse was deemed too onerous for the neighborhood and there was ongoing anxiety about violence surrounding the trial. I wrote:
I think a trial of Donald Trump in Manhattan -- or anywhere in America -- could pose similar security risks. I'm not sure there's as much reason to fear MAGA Nation if Trump is put on trial as there was to fear Al Qaeda sympathizers a decade ago, but I couldn't really guess at the relative risk.
We can guess now. The risk of a violent mass disruption of a Trump trial is great.

And in his statement today, I think Trump is trying to summon just such a response.

YOU POLLED REPUBLICANS, NOW POLL AMERICANS

This appeared yesterday:
An exclusive Suffolk University/USA TODAY Poll finds [Donald] Trump's support largely unshaken after his second impeachment trial in the Senate....

By double digits, 46%-27%, those surveyed say they would abandon the GOP and join the Trump party if the former president decided to create one. The rest are undecided....

Half of those polled say the GOP should become "more loyal to Trump," even at the cost of losing support among establishment Republicans. One in five, 19%, say the party should become less loyal to Trump and more aligned with establishment Republicans....

Eight in 10 say they would be less likely to vote for a Republican candidate who supported Trump's impeachment....
And for good measure:
Asked to describe what happened during the assault on the Capitol, 58% of Trump voters call it "mostly an antifa-inspired attack that only involved a few Trump supporters." That's more than double the 28% who call it "a rally of Trump supporters, some of whom attacked the Capitol." Four percent call it "an attempted coup inspired by President Trump."
This is a poll of Trump voters, and it isn't the only post-riot, post-inauguration, post-impeachment polling limited to the right. Last week, as part of a general survey, Morning Consult posed a question to Republican voters exclusively:
According to a Morning Consult/Politico poll conducted at the conclusion of the Senate’s weeklong trial, a majority of Republican voters (54 percent) said they would support Trump in a hypothetical 2024 presidential primary election – matching the share who said the same in late November, before his standing dipped in a survey conducted shortly after the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.


Yes, Morning Consult has polled GOP voters three times on this question since the election.

On the one hand, there's some value to this. We learned on January 6, and throughout the period between the election and the inauguration, that a thoroughly Trumpified Republican Party is a serious danger to American democracy and puts many people at risk of serious physical harm. We should know whether the backers of one of our two major political parties have thoroughly rejected the notion that the other major party can win an election legitimately, and whether they dismiss concerns about violent behavior by their ideological soul mates.

On the other hand, these polls seem to be a new variant of the media's many safaris into the heart of Trump country, in which reporters discovered every few weeks that, yes, white male retirees in rural diners who voted for Trump still like Trump.

The next midterms will take place 21 months from now; it's way too early to use polling to try to assess what voters will do then, much less two years later in the presidential election. But if we're going to poll, we should poll everybody. We should try to determine whether Trump and his party have alienated the rest of us.

How do voters say they'd vote in a Trump-Biden rematch -- or in a Trump-Kamala Harris matchup? What about Biden or Harris vs. Donald Trump Jr., Josh Hawley, or (if we want to test candidates who aren't Trump purists) Mike Pence or Nikki Haley? What does generic ballot polling look like -- when voters are asked which party they'd back in a vote for Congress, do Republicans do worse? If they do, does the Democratic share of the vote go up, or have alienated GOP voters moved to "undecided" (because they've heard for forty years that Democrats are evil and can't quite make the switch)?

Poll the whole country if you want to poll 2022 and 2024. It would tell us a lot about how all of America feels right now about events since the election, and about what the Republican Party has become. It's possible that swing voters still don't regard the GOP as completely in thrall to Trump, QAnon, and the Oath Keepers, or it's possible that they don't care. If that's the case, we should know. And if they are alienated, we should know that, so we'll stop treating Republican voters as normative Americans.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

BRUNI: LIMBAUGH'S CRITICS ARE THE REAL MENACE

I don't have to tell you that Frank Bruni's column about Rush Limbaugh is terrible, but I'm struggling to understand precisely what he's arguing.
“BIGOT, MISOGYNIST, HOMOPHOBE, CRANK: RUSH LIMBAUGH DEAD.” Those were the words, capitalized and adrenalized, that HuffPost splashed across its home page. Several other left-leaning sites took the same tack and tone....

I ... don’t quibble with the accuracy of the nasty nouns in HuffPost’s damning litany. But were they necessary at that exact moment and in that particular context? All of them were justly and repeatedly slung at Limbaugh when he was alive. In real time his critics labeled his hate and his ignorance — which were his steppingstones to fame and riches — for what they were, exposing them and pushing back at him. That was just. He earned it. If you’re going to fling your opinions at the world, you must be braced for the world to fling its reaction back at you. Those are the terms of the contract.
So Bruni argues that it was fine to attack Limbaugh while he was alive, but it's wrong now, when he's dead. Why? Did the effect of Limbaugh's words cease when he died? If the resentments he stirred up will persist long after he's gone, why shouldn't we talk about him as if the cultural space he occupied is now a toxic waste site that will take many years to clean up?

But Bruni then suggests that that's not really his argument:
... it would be journalistic malpractice and morally wrong to publish obituaries about Limbaugh that merely noted his role in the rise of talk radio and his adoration by millions of listeners. Those appraisals were obliged, for the sake of history and accuracy, to note and be reasonably blunt about how he used his format, what listeners were thrilling to and what impact it had on the country’s political culture.

The Times’s obituary did precisely that....

The headline: “Rush Limbaugh Dies at 70; Turned Talk Radio Into a Right-Wing Attack Machine.” That nails his significance and signals his destructiveness without hurling slurs.
So it's slurs Bruni has a problem with. Notice what Bruni believes: that "bigot," "misogynist," and "homophobe" are slurs. In fact, they're simple nouns that are shown to be accurate by the obituary he praises (and by the undisputed facts of Limbaugh's life).

Bruni also praises another Times piece on Limbaugh:
Remember — who couldn’t? — when Trump cheapened the Presidential Medal of Freedom by bestowing it on Limbaugh? The best response that I read to that was, as it happens, in The Times, by my colleague Talmon Joseph Smith, who didn’t wring his hands and beat his chest and overwork his thesaurus for synonyms for “shameful,” “abomination” and such. He simply put together a greatest-hits compilation of some of Limbaugh’s least charitable statements about women and minorities, laying Limbaugh’s sexism and racism bare without ever affixing those labels to it.
Oooh -- labels! Labels are bad! They're the problem!

And why is that, according to Bruni?
... the nastier stuff that I saw ... accidentally reif[ied Limbaugh's] aspersions against liberals as merciless jurists.... If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Limbaugh was just flattered to a fare thee well. He got posthumous company in the gutter, and I’m hard pressed to identify anyone who benefits from that.
I'll tell you who benefits from that: anyone who's leftist, liberal, or even moderate while stuck in a Republican oupost of the American heartland, someplace full of Trump flags and Limbaugh listeners. When we lash out at Limbaugh, we tell people in that culture that there's another way of looking at the world, and that there are parts of America where that isn't the dominant worldview.

And with his reference to "merciless jurists," Bruni implies that Limbaugh's critics are his equals -- a man who golfed with President Trump, conducted seven interviews with Dick Cheney when he was vice president, was made an honorary member of the House Republican class of 1994 after the GOP gained a majority in the midterms, and slept in the Lincoln Bedroom when George H.W. Bush was president. Limbaugh was a very powerful man with very influential friends in the party that has dominated American politics for more than forty years. Attacking him, even now, is speaking truth to power.

Limbaugh was part of the power structure. He regularly punched down. (Ask Sandra Fluke.) He doesn't need protecting, even in death. Stop treating him like a special snowflake, Frank.

Frank Bruni is 56. Given the fact that a Times op-ed job tends to be a lifetime appointment, Bruni is likely to be a columnist at the paper when we lose Jimmy Carter, Nancy Pelosi, and Bill and Hillary Clinton. There will be very, very nasty responses on the right to all of these deaths.

Will Bruni write a horiified column about the nastiness? No, he won't. Right-wingers are expected to be nasty. We're the ones who supposed to maintain decorum.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

WHAT IF THEY HAD A CIVIL WAR AND NOBODY FOUGHT?

Tim Miller of The Bulwark is right: There is no Republican civil war, and there'll be no friction in 2022 between what we're now calling the Mitch McConnell wing of the party and the Donald Trump wing:
The Ohio Senate race provides a nice preview to what I’d like to call the Republican party’s UnCivil Unwar. There are currently two major, declared candidates in the GOP contest to replace the retiring Rob Portman.

The first, Josh Mandel, was formerly the state treasurer and back in 2012 he ran for Senate against Sherrod Brown as your conventional Marco Rubio/Eric Cantor/Mitt Romney style Republican. The second is Jane Timken, the former Ohio GOP chair, a Harvard graduate and the wife of a steel magnate. Both had been allies of the centrist Republican Governor John Kasich, with Timken even supporting his bid for president in 2016.

If you were not familiar with Ohio politics, you might think that both of these candidates would be on the McConnell side of the “Civil War” and that there must be some rabid, Gym Jordan-style Trumpkin waiting in the wings.

But in fact, both Timken and Mandel are competing in the “Trump Lane” in the primary according to NBC News. No, really. After Trump beat Kasich in 2016, Mandel started vouching for Pizzagate Jack Posobiec while Timkin Brutused John Kasich and cleansed the state party of anyone who wore the scarlet K.

Trump fealty (and Kasich calumny) has been the coin of the realm in the nascent primary campaign. Ohio Capital Journal reporter Tyler Buchanan notes that over two-thirds of each candidate’s tweets have been about Trump since they launched their respective campaigns.
Yup:


Miller continues:
And forget Ohio: I don’t expect there to be any contested Senate primary in the lower 48 where there will be a viable Republican candidate who blames Trump for the insurrection, admits Biden won the election fairly, and argues we need to turn the page on Trump.

The Trump/McConnell Civil War is one big Spiderman Doppelgänger meme, with Spidey #1 supporting a Trump autocracy both privately and publicly and Spidey #2 supporting a Trump autocracy in public, while privately whispering to donors that the cop-killing coup went a tad too far for their taste.

In the Ohio Senate primary the “Trump Lane” is the entire highway.
But here's the thing: McConnell will be perfectly fine with candidates who fit the Spidey #2 template, just as he was fine with Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue (both of whom nearly won). His only quibble with Trumpism is that he doesn't want candidates who are unacceptably crazy-sounding, and he doesn't want Trump going to candidates' states and telling the GOP base that the whole system is corrupt and all the elections are rigged in favor of Democrats. He just wants whatever wil work to get him his majority back.

One more thing: After the Republican primary is won by Timken or Mandel, the victor will probably tick slightly to the left and begin sounding a tiny bit less Trumpy (without, of course, saying anything to alienate the God Emperor) -- and the press will tell us there's nothing to worry about if this red-hat-wearing election truther wins, because he or she is really a conventional conservative. David Brooks and Kathleen Parker will tell us not to worry -- America will be fine.

By November 2022, the Overton window will be far to the right of where it is now -- unless Democrats find a way to win a few seats back. In addition to Ohio, there'll be Senate races in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Iowa where Democrats should be competitive, and where they're likely to be running against Trumpers (or Trumpers of convenience). We look at the polls now and say that Trumpism is offputting to a significant majority of Americans. We'll see whether that's the case two years from now.

Friday, February 19, 2021

TED CRUZ WILL BE REELECTED IN 2024

We all know that Ted Cruz was hoping to run for president in 2024. After the Cancun trip, he probably can't run now -- but I think he'll run for reelection to the Senate, and he'll probably win.

Yes, even some conservatives are criticizing Cruz, but Roy Edroso is right:
I'm not starry-eyed about this apparent consensus on Cruz. First, no one actually likes him; Texans are simply unable to vote for Democrats, lest they question the unreasoning belligerence that passes for manhood there.
Certainly there's a segment of the Texas electorate that doesn't match Edroso's description -- but that segment always falls just short of an electoral majority, and I'm not optimistic that that will change in 2022 or 2024. Yes, Stacey Abrams got a couple of Democrats over the finish line in Georgia, but I don't see a Stacey Abrams in Texas, just as I don't see one in Florida, ehere Democrats routinely fall just short. And in both states, Republicans will undoubtedly find extremely creative ways to suppress the Democratic vote in the future.

Amanda Marcotte is also right:
The situation in Texas is so bad that it started to feed progressive fantasies that this might actually be the moment that Republicans start to pay a political penalty for years of neglecting basic governance duties in favor of endless culture war politics and liberal-baiting....

But I would not be writing the eulogies for Cruz's political career just yet....

Republicans have mastered the art of turning their own failures as leaders into a story about how it's the government that's the true problem — not their deliberate mishandling of it.

The expansive right-wing propaganda machine gets to work exploiting every catastrophe caused by Republican neglect and using it for a morality play about how government itself can never be trusted to handle important responsibilities. As such, their audiences are encouraged to vote not on the basis of policy, but instead to elect politicians based on culture war politics and trolling liberals.

...this is what Republicans are good at doing: creating crises and then using them as evidence that politics is useless for anything but for whining about liberals.
But maybe a Republican could beat Cruz, as Jamelle Bouie argues:


But Cruz will have an advantage over Republican challengers (assuming there are any) precisely because most of the critics of his Cancun trip are liberals, which means Cruz's is the enemy of Republican voters' most hated enemies, and because the liberal criticism of Cruz is that he could have done something to help, which, as Marcotte notes, is the complete antithesis of how Republican voters view the role of elected officials.

Marcotte writes:
There are, of course, many things politicians can do. As many liberals pointed out on social media, a lot of Democratic politicians are hustling to get aid to people in Texas, even ones like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents New York. More broadly, however, there's plenty Cruz, as a senator, could be doing to leverage this crisis to push for policy. For instance, he could be backing the Green New Deal, which tackles the twin problems of decaying infrastructure and climate change at once.
But opposing the Green New Deal and all other climate legislation is precisely what Texas Republicans want their candidates to do. So is being the polar opposite of AOC and Beto -- even when AOC and Beto are providing desperately needed aid to suffering Texans.

So once this crisis passes, Cruz will be seen as precisely what Texas Republicans love: a guy hated by liberals. His approval numbers will stay solid on the right. That should get him reelected.

FOR ONCE, A REPUBLICAN GETS ALINSKYED

I say this frequently: Saul Alinsky was a left-winger, but only Republicans seem to take him seriously these days. Among Alinsky's Rules for Radicals was this one:
Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.
Republicans are excellent at this -- the right-wing media personalizes every issue and devotes most of its energy to creating Democratic, liberal, and leftist demons. This makes it easy for every Republican candidate, in every race for every office, to run against Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Democrats in recent years have been good at focusing anger on Donald Trump -- but, of course, he all but begs his enemies to hate him. However, Democrats haven't been very good at personalizing their anger against Republicans in Congress. Few Democratic Senate candidates feature Mitch McConnell in their ads, and hardly anyone knows who Kevin McCarthy is. (Democrats didn't do much better with John Boehner, or even the better-known Paul Ryan.)

But the story of the Texas deep freeze got very, very personal this week. I wouldn't say the Democrats "picked the target" -- Ted Cruz's trip to Cancún just dropped in their laps. But there was clearly an appetite for an ad hominem. America can't get enough of the story.

Prior to this, our side was fighting the way it usually does: on policy. We were defending the idea of shifting away from fossil fuels, in response to right-wing disinformation about the cause of Texas's power crisis. To the right, it was all about AOC; to us, it was about the relative proportions of natural gas and wind power in the winter energy mix of Texas. And then the Cruz family booked a flight.

Demonization isn't high-minded, but it's emotionally satisfying. I wouldn't want our side to resort to it as often as the right does -- i.e., every minute of every day -- but couldn't we at least routinely target scoundrels like McConnell, or media figures like the Fox prime-time lineup, for Cruz-level scorn? Hell, we barely talked about the human carcinogen Rush Limbaugh in the last few years before his death.

Let's do this! It works!

Thursday, February 18, 2021

TRIAL BALLOONS SUNK

This was reported by the Daily Beast today:
A criminal investigation in the state of Georgia. The expansion of a New York-based probe into Donald Trump’s business empire. Lawsuits brought by women who allege Trump assaulted them. Billion-dollar defamation suits launched against people acting on Trump’s demands. Angry enemies and former friends who see fresh legal vulnerability. And continued litigation and possible charges stemming from the deadly MAGA riot at the U.S. Capitol.

... with the Senate trial in the rearview, Trump is now confronting a whole range of other legal dramas during his immediate post-presidency. No longer shielded by the considerable legal protection of the Oval Office, Trump has privately bemoaned that his foes are going to be investigating or “suing me for the rest of my life,” according to one person who’s discussed the matter with him in the past few weeks.
And I suspect it's no coincidence that the story appeared on the same day as this Maggie Haberman report:
Ivanka Trump will not run for the U.S. Senate from Florida in 2022, according to people close to her as well as an aide to Senator Marco Rubio, who holds the seat.

A person close to Ms. Trump ... said that a Senate run was never something she was seriously considering....

The discussion of whether Ms. Trump would seek the Senate seat in the battleground state came as her sister-in-law, Lara Trump, had let it be known that she was thinking of running for the U.S. Senate from her native state of North Carolina. But people briefed on the discussions said that Lara Trump was also unlikely to run.
I'm sure most of you suspected that Ivanka and Lara wouldn't really run, because you assumed that the Trumps would be overwhelmed with legal troubles over the next couple of years.

I guess I thought they'd brazen it out, the way Dad would, and just run anyway, declaring every lawsuit and indictment a "witch hunt." But they must know things look bad.

But if the law is really coming for Donald Trump, did they not foresee that? And if they did foresee it, why did they allow stories to be floated suggesting that they'd be formidable candidates in 2022? Why would they want that claim to be made if they knew they were only going to have to walk it back in a few weeks? Was it just too difficult to pass up the ego gratification?

THE PARTY OF REAGAN WAS THE PARTY OF TRUMP, AND LIMBAUGH WAS THE THROUGH LINE

Never Trump Republicans regularly lament: How did the party of Ronald Reagan become the party of Donald Trump? "Reagan’s sunny, inclusive vision and principles are the antithesis of what Trump preaches," we're told. But Reagan bashed Democrats at every opportunity -- often with cornball jokes, but never with the sense that Democrats are good citizens with ideas about government worth considering. Reagan brought us Interior Secretary James Watt, who said, "I never use the words Democrats and Republicans. It's liberals and Americans." Reagan's administration gave us the angry, self-important culture warrior Ollie North. Reagan's rise was aided by Jerry Falwell Sr. and other proud haters of what was perceived as liberal culture.

And never forget precisely when Rush Limbaugh appeared on the scene:
In 1984, a station in Sacramento offered him a talk show....

Mr. Limbaugh’s daily dicing of California politicians, spiced with comedy routines and news updates packaged with pop tunes, was an instant hit.

... in 1988, ABC Radio offered him a deal that included a local morning show on WABC in New York and a nationally syndicated afternoon show.

He had an immediate knack for making headlines with his put-downs, as when he blasted “environmental wackos” and declared animal rights activists to be “a bunch of kookburgers.”
If Reaganism was sunny, genial, and inclusive, why was Rush Limbaugh's toxic conservatism able to go national in the last year of Reagan's presidency? Limbaugh's act caught on when it did because conservatives correctly regarded Reagan (and Reaganism) as much more hostile to liberals and Democrats than the misty memories of Reagan's right-centrist (and left-centrist) admirers would suggest. Limbaugh caught on because Reaganism was angry. Limbaugh's rhetoric was the logical continuation of Reaganism.

And as Jonathan Chait notes, Trump's rhetoric is barely distinguishable from Limbaugh's.
They were almost the same person. Perhaps the only only salient difference between the two men’s careers is that Limbaugh found his place sooner than Trump, at a time when a bellicose misogynist could find a valued position in the party but not as its presidential candidate. That had become a possibility by the time Trump found his way to conservatism as a viable exclusive brand.

... The line from Limbaugh to Trump is about an inch long.
Chait says the common thread uniting all right-wingers has been, as Limbaugh put it on the radio in 2016, "this united, virulent opposition to the left and the Democrat Party and Barack Obama." Remove Obama's name, or substitute Bill Clinton's or Ted Kennedy's, and the line goes all the way back to the 1980s (at least). It's all the same. It's hate, and there isn't a dime's worth of difference between the Reagan, Limbaugh, and Trump versions.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

TRUMP ISN'T EVEN WAITING FOR LIMBAUGH'S BODY TO GET COLD

Rush Limbaugh was a loathsome person and America is a better place now that he's dead. I have no qualms about saying that. If you have friends or relatives you can't speak to anymore because they believe all Democrats or liberals are evil, Limbaugh began laying the groundwork for the break in your relationship and many other relationshipz more than thirty years ago. He deomnized all of us. He wasn't alone, but he led the way. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

That's my disrespect for the dead. Donald Trump's version is a bit different.
Former President Trump will appear on Fox News host Sean Hannity’s prime-time show Wednesday evening, the network announced....

Fox News said in a press release Wednesday afternoon that the 9 p.m. Eastern broadcast of “Hannity” will feature an interview with Trump “to discuss the life and legacy of radio pioneer Rush Limbaugh.”

Trump is also expected to make appearances Wednesday evening on Newsmax and OAN, The Washington Post reported, citing a Trump spokesman....

Trump on Wednesday made his first media appearance post-presidency on Fox News's "Outnumbered" within an hour of the news breaking of Limbaugh's death.

Trump, who last year awarded Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom, praised the conservative radio icon during the "Outnumbered" interview, repeatedly calling him a “legend.”

“There aren’t too many legends around. But he is a legend," Trump said on the show via phone. "And those people who listen to him every day, it was like a religious experience for a lot of people."
Limbaugh's body isn't even cold and Trump is already looking to grab as much reflected glory as possible.

What Jane Mayer wrote shortly before the election seems relevant here:
A former Trump associate who is in the media world speculated that Trump might ... fill the talk-radio vacuum left by Rush Limbaugh, who announced in mid-October that he has terminal lung cancer.... the former associate suggested that if Trump anchored such a show—perhaps from his golf club in West Palm Beach, Florida—he could continue to try to rally his base and remain relevant. The former associate pointed out that Trump could broadcast the show after spending the morning playing golf. Just as on “The Apprentice”—and in the White House—he could riff, with little or no preparation. Trump has been notably solicitous of Limbaugh, giving him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and tweeting sympathetically about his health. Limbaugh has become rich from his show, and is estimated to be worth half a billion dollars; Trump has publicly commented on how lucrative Limbaugh’s gig is, exclaiming in a speech last December that Limbaugh “makes, like, they tell me, fifty million a year, and it may be on the low side—so, if anybody wants to be a nice conservative talk-show host, it’s not a bad living.”
So is that the point of Trump's media blitz? Is he seizing the moment to tell Limbaugh's audience that he's the heir apparent? Trump established himself as a political figure on the right with years of regular appearances on Fox & Friends before announcing his run for president in 2015 -- does he hope to stay relevant for 2024 by appropriating Limbaugh's microphone?

I had much more affection for the World Trade Center than I did for Limbaugh, but if I'm right about what Trump is doing, it's somewhat reminiscent of his odd remarks on local TV news as the Twin Towers came down.
... [Alan] Marcus asked whether Trump’s 40 Wall Street building had suffered any damage. Before getting into his response about his Financial District property, the businessman had something he wanted on the record.

“40 Wall Street actually was the second-tallest building in downtown Manhattan, and it was actually, before the World Trade Center, was the tallest — and then, when they built the World Trade Center, it became known as the second tallest,” Trump said in the WWOR interview. “And now it’s the tallest.”

[WWOR's Brenda] Blackmon told The Post ... that Trump’s response left her baffled.

“[Marcus] dialed him up, and that’s when [Trump] gave the answer he did, which stunned us at the time,” Blackmon said to The Post. “Any reaction I had, in the midst of everything that was happening, was, wow, that’s insensitive. It just was.”
Trump may be thinking: In right-wing broadcasting, Rush stood the tallest. And now I'll be the tallest. And hey, it's easier for the lazy bastard than starting his own network, right?

THE "LIBERALS" RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL THE WIND TURBINES IN TEXAS

Just to make the point one more time: The blackouts in Texas arenot because the state uses wind power.
What has sent Texas reeling is not an engineering problem, nor is it the frozen wind turbines blamed by prominent Republicans. It is a financial structure for power generation that offers no incentives to power plant operators to prepare for winter. In the name of deregulation and free markets, critics say, Texas has created an electric grid that puts an emphasis on cheap prices over reliable service.

... Some [wind] turbines did in fact freeze — though Greenland and other northern outposts are able to keep theirs going through the winter.

But wind accounts for just 10 percent of the power in Texas generated during the winter. And the loss of power to the grid caused by shutdowns of thermal power plants, primarily those relying on natural gas, dwarfed the dent caused by frozen wind turbines, by a factor of five or six.
But since every right-winger in America -- including Texas right-wingers, who know better -- is blaming wind, let's remember which very liberal politician made wind a significant factor in the Texas energy mix:
Ever since 1999, when then-governor George W. Bush signed a law deregulating the state’s power market, Texas has been building wind turbines like crazy....

As the Wall Street Journal reports, as part of the 1999 law, Bush included a provision that called for 2,000 megawatts of renewable power capacity by 2009. That milestone came four years early.
And then:
Bush’s successor, Rick Perry, raised the bar to 10,000 megawatts by 2025.

The state blasted past that milestone as well.
This won't impress your right-wing relatives, who've undoubtedly decided by now that Dubya was a liberal and a "globalist," and probably under the thumb of George Soros. I don't know what they think about Rick Perry, who was Donald Trump's energy secretary for a couple of years, although no one ever noticed. But in any case, liberalism wasn't why wind power happened in Texas. (Enron's investments in wind in the late 1990s might have been more of a factor.)

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

DON'T BLAME AOC -- TEXAS HAS FAILED TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM SINCE SHE WAS IN DIAPERS

Your right-wing relatives think advocates of green energy caused the Texas blackouts. Some of them are getting their (dis)information from Tucker Carlson:


Others might be getting their fake facts from the allegedly more high-minded Wall Street Journal editorial page:
Gas and power prices have spiked across the central U.S. while Texas regulators ordered rolling blackouts Monday as an Arctic blast has frozen wind turbines. Herein is the paradox of the left’s climate agenda: The less we use fossil fuels, the more we need them.
But as Bloomberg reports:
Don’t point too many fingers at Texas wind turbines, because they’re not the main reason broad swaths of the state have been plunged into darkness.

While ice has forced some turbines to shut down just as a brutal cold wave drives record electricity demand, that’s been the least significant factor in the blackouts, according to Dan Woodfin, a senior director for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the state’s power grid.

The main factors: Frozen instruments at natural gas, coal and even nuclear facilities, as well as limited supplies of natural gas, he said....

Wind shutdowns accounted for 3.6 to 4.5 gigawatts -- or less than 13% -- of the 30 to 35 gigawatts of total outages, according to Woodfin. That’s in part because wind only comprises 25% of the state’s energy mix this time of year.

... wind generation has actually exceeded the grid operator’s daily forecast through the weekend.
As WFAA, the ABC affiliate in Dallas, reports, this is unusual weather for Texas, but not unprecedented -- and the precautions necessary to prevent system failure in cold weather keep being put off.
This isn’t the first time that weatherization has been an issue with equipment failure and rotating outages in Texas.

In August 2011, six months after an ice storm crippled much of the state and resulted in rotating outages, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation issued a report with recommendations.

"Generators and natural gas producers suffered severe losses of capacity despite having received accurate forecasts of the storm," the report states. "Entities in both categories report having winterization procedures in place. However, the poor performance of many of these generating units and wells suggests that these procedures were either inadequate or were not adequately followed."

That investigation revealed what happened in 2011, also happened in 1989, which is the first time ERCOT ever implemented rotating outages.

"The experiences of 1989 are instructive, particularly on the electric side. In that year, as in 2011, cold weather caused many generators to trip, derate, or fail to start. The [Public Utility Commission of Texas] investigated the occurrence and issued a number of recommendations aimed at improving winterization on the part of the generators.

These recommendations were not mandatory, and over the course of time implementation lapsed. Many of the generators that experienced outages in 1989 failed again in 2011," the investigation discovered.
That 1989 deep freeze was in December -- so if you want to blame Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for this, then she must be a real prodigy, because she was two months old at the time.

The breakdown in February 2011 wasn't just green energy, as the Texas Tribune noted at the time -- it also involved natural gas and coal.
Initially, it appears, some coal plants went offline due to cold-weather problems, taking a large chunk of electricity out of the grid. Luminant, a major power-generation company, confirmed that its two coal units at the Oak Grove plant in Robertson County failed, as did two units at a coal plant in Milam County....

Dave Knox, a spokesman for NRG, another power company, said that a cold-weather problem also caused a shut-down of its Limestone coal plant near Jewitt, Texas....

Natural gas plants were hastily turned on to make up for the coal-plant failures. But, Fraser said, some power cuts affected some stations for compressing natural gas — so without power they couldn't pump gas, causing some gas power plants to go offline....

Wind generators also appeared to be having problems, said Fraser; he had received reports of some turbines shutting down because of issues with ice on the blades.
So which forms of energy fail in Texas when it's cold? If you said "All of them," you win. But your right-wing relatives will never believe you.

REPUBLICANS WOULD STRIP NANCY PELOSI OF HER COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS, WOULDN'T THEY? (updated)

UPDATE: I'm leaving this post up, but it's one of my more embarrassing failures. Nancy Pelosi was on committees before she became the Democratic leader in the House, but she isn't on committees anymore.

Mark Leibovich of The New York Times says that in the future impeachments might become routine.
The second season of impeachment had ended less than a day earlier, but Republicans were already talking about next season. It sounded ominous.

“I don’t know how Kamala Harris doesn’t get impeached if the Republicans take over the House,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said Sunday morning on Fox News.

... officials of both parties have suggested that regular impeachments may just become one of several regular features of a new and bitter normal in our politics.

... Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, suggested on Friday that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton might start looking around for a good impeachment lawyer (because, really, what would partisan Armageddon be without the Clintons?).
I'm not worried about impeachment. It takes a two-thirds vote to convict. If you impeach, you're criticized for focusing on distractions from "the people's business." Republicans can try to impeach Harris (or Joe Biden), but there's no real basis for it and the public won't buy it. And an impeachment of Hillary Clinton would just seem like the dredging up of ancient news.

But Republicans could punish Nancy Pelosi without the lengthy ritual of an impeachment -- and if they win the House in 2022, they just might do it, all based on the notion that she was single-handedly responsible for security in the House in the days leading up to the January 6 riot, a notion I'm sure few of them actually believe.

But it makes for good demagoguery:
House Administration Committee Ranking Member Rodney Davis, R-Ill., House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, House Oversight Committee Ranking Member James Comer, R-Ky., and House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., sent a letter to Pelosi, D-Calif., on Monday, saying that "many important questions" about her "responsibility for the security" of the Capitol on Jan. 6 "remain unanswered." ...

Davis, Jordan, Comer and Nunes pointed to claims made by former Capitol Police Chief Steve Sund, that he, on Jan. 4, approached the sergeant-at-arms to request the assistance of the National Guard. Sund, in a letter to Pelosi last month, said Irving replied that he was concerned about "the optics" and didn’t feel the "intelligence supported it."

"As you are aware, the speaker of the House is not only the leader of the majority party, but also has enormous institutional responsibilities," they wrote. "The speaker is responsible for all operational decisions made within the House."
This story appears at FoxNews.com, which also published an opinion piece by Jason Chaffetz, a former GOP member of the House and now a Fox contributor, under the headline "Speaker Pelosi, When Will You Answer These 13 Security Questions?" Chaffetz's first two questions overlap with what Jordan et al. are asking:
1. What was your role in authorizing or denying National Guard support before and after Jan. 6?

2. Reps. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and James Comer R-Ky., on Feb. 15 asked you five pointed questions about your role in Jan. 6 and your preservation and compliance with document requests. Will you answer them?
But then we move on to questions like this:
3. After the 2011 shooting of now former Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz., what changed with regard to security?
Gabby Giffords was shot on January 8, 2011. Pelosi had handed over her Speaker's gavel to John Boehner on three days earlier. And Giffords, of course, was not shot at the Capitol -- she was shot in Tucson, Arizona.
4. After the shooting of Republican House Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., were any changes made to security?
Scalise was shot in Alexandria, Virginia, on June 4, 2017. Pelosi had stepped down as Speaker more than six years earlier. Paul Ryan had been Speaker for nearly two years.

So this is in bad faith, as is always the case with Republicans. But it's all the rage on the right.


Nearly every Republican runs against Nancy Pelosi, but this time I expect Republican candidates to run on a specific pledge to vote for Pelosi's expulsion from the House.

They can't do it -- expulsion requires a two-thirds vote. But as we learned regarding Marjorie Taylor Greene, it takes only a simple majority to strip a member of committee assignments. I think Republicans might really go for that in Pelosi's case if they take the House back. I assume they'll run on it.

Will they succeed? Some House Republicans might decide to be "institutionalists" and protect Pelosi. But if they do, they'll be risking their careers.

Maybe they won't really do this to Pelosi. Maybe they'll just do it to Ilhan Omar and AOC. Or we can beat them in the midterms and not have to think about it, at least for another two years.