Wednesday, March 31, 2021

I BET STATE SCHEMES THAT MIMIC THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE WILL MAKE A COMEBACK

In a New York Times op-ed abouct the new Georgia election law, Jason Morgan Ward, a historian, writes this about Georgia's past:
Voter suppression tactics like literacy tests and Georgia’s infamous county unit system delivered racist leadership ... while withstanding legal challenges and Supreme Court rulings for decades in part because such measures commonly avoided mention of race.
I wasn't familiar with Georgia's county unit system, so I went to the link and learned this:
The county unit system was established in 1917 when the Georgia legislature, overwhelmingly dominated by the Democratic Party, passed the Neill Primary Act. This act formalized what had operated as an informal system, instituted in Georgia in 1898, of allotting votes by county in party primary elections.... The county unit system continued to be used in Democratic primaries for statewide office and selected U.S. House districts until the early 1960s.

... All 159 counties were classified according to population into one of three categories: urban, town, and rural. Urban counties were the 8 most populous; town counties were the next 30 in population size; and rural counties constituted the remaining 121. Based upon this classification, each county received unit votes in statewide primaries. The urban counties received six unit votes each, the town counties received four unit votes each, and the rural counties received two unit votes each.

Given that Georgia voters were almost entirely Democratic during the first half of the twentieth century, elections were more often decided at the primary stage.... With a statewide total of 410 unit votes, a candidate needed 206 to win the party's nomination, despite the outcome of the popular vote. If a candidate won a plurality of the popular vote in a county, then he received the entire unit vote from that county, meaning that the votes of rural counties could easily equal, and effectively negate, the votes of urban counties. In many elections, candidates who received the majority of popular votes were defeated by candidates who carried the most county unit votes.

Census data from 1960 illustrate the inequities of the county unit system. Although the rural counties accounted for only 32 percent of the state population by that year, they controlled 59 percent of the total unit vote.
This system ended decades ago. But in a state like Georgia or Texas, where it might become increasingly difficult to secure victory for the current party of white racists, is it so hard to imagine that this or something similar could make a comeback, supported by the same sorts of arguments about alleged rural disenfranchisement that conservatives use to defend the Electoral College?

Mississippi had a similar system called "the Mississippi Plan," and only recently got rid of it.
7 African Americans held statewide office in Mississippi – ranging from lieutenant governor to secretary of education – before Mississippi’s 1890 constitution went into place. At that time, the majority population of Mississippi was African American.... At the 1890 constitutional convention, lawmakers made sure that African Americans would not have a majority vote in Mississippi....

Article 5, sections 140, 141, 142, and 143 set up a two-tier election system for statewide offices. If you’re running for governor or any statewide office, you have to win the popular vote by more than a majority – that’s the first tier – and then even if you win the popular vote you also have to win a majority of the House of Representative districts – the second tier. Those districts are designed to be majority white. The likelihood of an African American winning the majority of majority white districts is zero. Even if an African American wins the first popular vote, the election goes to the House to actually cast the vote that matters – and House representatives don’t have to vote according to how their districts voted!
This plan remained in effect through Jim Crow, then after Blacks regained voting rights. Only in 2020 did Mississippi voters finally get rid of the Mississippi Plan in a referendum.

I'm sure it didn't appear to be accomplishing much -- Republicans dominate Mississippi politics and will continue to do so in elections decided solely by the popular vote for some time to come.

But in states that are teetering on the edge of being purple, it won't surprise me if schemes like this make a comeback. It's hard to believe that they'd be prevented from doing so by the current Supreme Court.

SO EVERYONE IN AMERICA ISN'T MONOMANIACALLY FIXATED ON THE BORDER CRISIS?

Fox News reports on a new NPR poll:
Biden approval numbers on immigration sink amid border crisis: poll

A new poll indicates that Americans are giving President Biden a big thumbs up on dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

But when it comes to the divisive issue of immigration and border security, the survey suggests that the president's approval rating plummets.

Just a third of Americans questioned in an NPR/Marist poll released on Tuesday say they approve of Biden's handling of the issue of immigration, with 53% saying they disapprove of his performance....


... The poll indicates that Biden's overall approval on immigration is down four points from late January, when it stood at 38%.
You might guess from this that the immigration issue is dragging Biden's overall job approval down. You'd be wrong. Marist tells us:
• 52% of Americans approve of Biden’s overall job performance, up from 49% earlier this month. Notably, a plurality of independents (48%) approve of how Biden is doing his job. They divided, 43% to 43%, last time.
NPR/Marist's previous job approval number for Biden was lower than some other pollsters' -- it was 49% three weeks ago. But after weeks of incessant "border crisis" talk from both the right-wing and mainstream press, Biden's overall job approval number has gone up. (His disapproval number is 40%.) Why the improvement?
• 51% of Americans approve of how Biden is handling the economy. 41% disapprove. Earlier in March, 46% approved and 41% disapproved.

• 65% approve of how Biden is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic compared with a positive rating of 62% earlier this month. 30% of 2020 Trump voters now approve of Biden’s efforts up from 22% just a few weeks ago.
It's only on immigration that his approval rating has gone down.

So, in other words, immigration isn't the all-consuming number-one issue for most Americans, the way it appears to be for Republicans. Sorry to disappoint you, Fox News -- and you too, Washington Post.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

MATT GAETZ, JOEL GREENBERG, AND THE DEMONIZATION GAP

This morning we learned that Trumpist weirdo Matt Gaetz was thinking about quitting Congress to get a job at Newsmax TV. Within a few hours, we learned why that rumor was floated. The New York Times reports:
Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida and a close ally of former President Donald J. Trump, is being investigated by the Justice Department over whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him, according to three people briefed on the matter.

Investigators are examining whether Mr. Gaetz violated federal sex trafficking laws, the people said.
I can think of few people more deserving of a reckoning like this. But as I was reading the Times story, I found myself learning about an associate of Gaetz's who hasn't done nearly as much damage to the country, but might be even slimier than Gaetz. And I asked myself: Why haven't I heard of Joel Greenberg until now?
... the examination of Mr. Gaetz, 38, is part of a broader investigation into a political ally of his, a local official in Florida named Joel Greenberg, who was indicted last summer on an array of charges, including sex trafficking of a child and financially supporting people in exchange for sex, at least one of whom was an underage girl.

Mr. Greenberg, who has since resigned his post as tax collector in Seminole County, north of Orlando, visited the White House with Mr. Gaetz in 2019, according to a photograph that Mr. Greenberg posted on Twitter....

... Last June, federal prosecutors secured an indictment against Mr. Greenberg, accusing him of stalking a political rival.

Around that time, federal authorities seized Mr. Greenberg’s phone and laptop, according to court records. They discovered evidence that Mr. Greenberg, whose job responsibilities included issuing licenses, was creating fake identification cards for himself and a teenage girl, and was experimenting with holograms used on permits for concealed firearms, according to court documents.

Two months later, he was indicted on the sex trafficking charge. From May to November 2017, prosecutors said, Mr. Greenberg targeted the girl, who was between 14 and 17, saying he “recruited” and “solicited” her for sex acts in exchange for unspecified perks or favors....

Within days of taking office, [Greenberg] fired three employees who had supported his predecessor and began spending more than $1.5 million in taxpayer money on personal expenses, including guns, ammunition, body armor and a drone, as well as on computers for his own cryptocurrency venture, a county audit later revealed....

Prosecutors said he sent an anonymous letter to the school where one potential [rival] candidate worked that made unfounded accusations of sexual misconduct with a student and making similar claims on a fake Facebook account.

As the primary race intensified last summer, similar messaging began appearing on fake social media accounts that have been tied to [Roger] Stone....

The post linked to an article about the rival published on Central Florida Post, a website controlled by Mr. Stone’s associates that ... was founded by a member of the Proud Boys....
This guy has been to the White House. He's hung out with Matt Gaetz, Roger Stone, and the Proud Boys.



He's engaged in a staggering array of sleazy activities, up to and including pedophilia. He was indicted nine months ago. So why have I never heard of him until now?

If there were a close associate of prominent Democrats who'd done a tenth of what Greenberg has done and had visited the White House during a Democratic presidency, there would have been several hundred stories about him on Fox News. Your right-wing relatives would have dropped his name in conversation as if he were as famous as Tom Brady.

But the mainstream media doesn't operate like that, and even openly liberal pundits rarely focus on figures like Greenberg in any sustained way. Liberals care about policy. Liberals want universal health coverage, a higher minimum wage, a serious approach to climate change, an end to racist policing, a humane immigration system, a curtailment of gun violence. Right-wingers just want enemies -- demons to demonize, liberals to own.

It works for them. It sustains GOP team loyalty. It probably helps recruit some new voters, who hear about how awful a demonized Democrat is and conclude they can't possibly vote for that party.

I don't want to be exactly like Republicans. But I think we'd be winning over more voters if there were more demonization of Republicans who deserve it.

WE SHOULD KNOWN THAT VACCINE PASSPORTS WOULD MAKE THE RIGHT FLIP OUT

This is alarming, but we should have seen it coming a long time ago:



Since last spring, the right, under the influence of both conservative billionaires and populist demagogues, has demanded the end of lockdowns, railed against mask-wearing and mask requirements, and described public health as strictly a matter of individual choice. We know there's no level of bloodshed that will make right-wingers rethink the position that there should be few if any limits on firearms. It's clear that they're applying their gun logic to the pandemic. So we should have known they were coming for vaccine passports.

A local TV news outlet in Fort Myers insists that the governor is unlikely to prevent private businesses from using vaccine passports.
For privately owned businesses, legal experts say the executive order doesn’t apply to them.

“A private entity is entitled to do that and a private business can have restrictions,” said Pamella Seay, Florida Gulf Coast University Law Professor.
But the Orlando Sentinel disagrees.
Florida businesses soon won’t be able to screen customers based on whether they’ve received the COVID-19 vaccine, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday, even as he signed a bill designed to shield companies from pandemic-related lawsuits.

DeSantis said an executive order was coming soon, possibly by Tuesday, against vaccination passports and called for the Legislature to pass a bill making a ban permanent. The Legislature is nearing the midway point of a 60-day session scheduled to end April 30.

DeSantis said allowing major corporations to have access to vaccination information was like having “the fox [guarding] the henhouse,” citing privacy concerns.
(Well, he has a point about Amazon, Google, and Facebook having this information. But we can create vaccine passports with strong privacy safeguards if we really want to.)

Here's what DeSantis said, as heard in the clip above:
We are not supporting doing any vaccine passports in the state of Florida.... It's completely unacceptable for either the government or the private sector to impose upon you the requirement that you show proof of vaccine to just simply be able to participate in normal society. You want to go to a movie theater, should you have to show that? No. You want to go to a game? No. You want to go to a theme park? No. So we're not supportive of that. I think it's something that people have certain freedoms and individual liberties to make decisions for themselves.
Will DeSantis really tell Disney it can't ask for evidence of vaccination? He's certainly talking as if he will.

And if he doesn't prevent private companies from asking for proof of vaccination, or isn't allowed to, he's still creating an atmosphere in which customer service people will be harassed and sometimes physically attacked for trying to enforce safety measures in their own establishments.

The thought leaders of the right are in agreement on this:
Freshman Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., strongly condemned the idea of vaccine passports.

"Proposals like these smack of 1940s Nazi Germany. We must make every effort to keep America from becoming a 'show your papers society,'” Cawthorn told Fox News. "The Constitution and our founding principles decry this type of totalitarianism.”

"America faces a dangerous future when its leader’s ideology shares more commonalities with Leninism than liberalism," the North Carolina Republican added.


Expect the governors of Texas, Arizona, South Dakota, and other GOP-run states to follow DeSantis's lead. Expect more congressional Republicans to talk this way. This will be the next front in the culture war, as we should have foreseen.

Monday, March 29, 2021

DOES TRUMP EVEN CARE ABOUT HIS LEGACY?

This Philip Bump column in The Washington Post has a ridiculous premise, stated in its headline:
Trump is losing the war over his legacy
By "legacy," Bump means control over the narrative of Trump's time in office as presented in works of mainstream journalism and history, such as a new CNN documentary on the COVID crisis.
On Sunday evening, CNN aired a special featuring interviews with the senior officials involved in the early coronavirus pandemic response under president Donald Trump. No longer operating under the Trump political umbrella, they offered assessments of the past year that lacked any soothing veneer.

Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House response under Trump, expressed her belief that the deaths that occurred after the first wave of infections last spring were largely preventable.... Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s top epidemiologist, suggested it was government experts, not Trump, who had decided to push forward quickly on a vaccine to combat the virus in January 2020. That was months before the administration rolled out Operation Warp Speed, its push for vaccine development....

It is always the case that presidents want to shape their legacies. No president wants to be Warren G. Harding, pilloried by history when he's remembered at all. Much better to be a Franklin D. Roosevelt or Ronald Reagan, legacies sitting on real foundations that have been carefully tended over time. One has to assume that for Trump, always so keenly attuned to public perceptions of him, the drive to be remembered in a specific light is even stronger.

Yet Trump is perhaps uniquely poorly positioned to frame his own legacy.

Most modern presidents, even controversial ones like George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, have at least enough institutional legitimacy to be seen as reliable interlocutors about their own tenures. One can envision either of them or Barack Obama sitting down alongside a panel of historians at an event hosted by a prominent university, discussing presidential decision-making and its ramifications in good faith. It's quite difficult to imagine Trump doing the same thing
It's quite difficult to imagine Trump caring. I know -- and agree with -- the conventional wisdom that he always craved respect from New York's elite, and hates the fact that he never got it. But he met those people. His desire for their respect isn't the same as a desire for the respect of historians or long-form journalists -- he doesn't read these people's works and doesn't hang out with them, or want to.

Does the CNN documentary say his pandemic response was a failure? What he cares about is that his people will respond by saying "Fake news!" If he has concerns right now, it's about his ability to reach those people, the only people he cares about. He thinks they're the only real Americans. He thinks they're a majority of the country. (I think he genuinely believes he won the election in a landslide.) But he had no Plan B when Twitter banned him and he lost the daily media coverage given to sitting presidents. How does he get that back? Do more phone-in interviews on Fox? Give more wedding speeches at Mar-a-Lago? After nearly ten weeks out of office, he still has no idea what to do next.

I suppose the fact that, as Bump notes, Trump has agreed to interviews with Maggie Haberman and other authors of forthcoming books about him suggests that he does care what the non-MAGA world thinks. But when his decision to talk to Bob Woodward for Woodward's last book blew up in his face, he seemed unfazed. He shrugged off Woodward as a hater and a loser. He'll have the same reaction in the future to anyone elsehe speaks with who writes a critical book about him.

Because that's how he approaches this process. He wants good coverage from the mainstream media, he mostly doesn't get it, and he just kvetches about that, insisting that the reporters are biased and dishonest. He still believes that if he just talks long enough, it'll be obvious to any listener that he's the greatest president of all time -- even better than Honest Abe! It pisses him off when mainstream reporters won't report this self-evident truth, but it doesn't worry him so much as arouse his anger. (It worries him when Fox criticizes him, because Fox generally accepts his narrative as truth, and Fox speaks to his people.)

Ultimately, Trump believes he's loved (though he wants constant reinforcement, hence the recent wedding speech). He won't read the bad books. I'm sure he doesn't even read the pro-Trump books. The Power of Positive Thinking messages in his brain rally him when he's glum. He's certain he's still the kingmaker in the GOP (and he's right). He thinks he could have the 2024 GOP nomination for the asking (he's right about that, too). I think he cares more about that than about what a bunch of haters and losers who make documentaries and write books think about him.

WE MUST PURGE THE EVIL OF PURGING BY PURGING THE PEOPLE WE THINK ARE PURGERS!

I have to confess that I'm not particularly horrified by Claremont Institute "scholar" Glenn Ellmers's essay in which he proclaims that
most people living in the United States today—certainly more than half—are not Americans in any meaningful sense of the term.
This is hardly a new attack; as I regularly remind you, a Ronald Reagan Cabinet secretary, James Watt, said four decades ago, "I never use the words Democrats and Republicans. It's liberals and Americans." Every box they try to put us in -- "liberal," "socialist," "cultural Marxist" -- is an effort to other us and define us as undeserving of citizenship. Why do you think they don't want any of us voting? Obviously, we loathe them, but we acknowledge that they're our fellow citizens, and we know that in a democracy we have to either sway them (which appears to be impossible) or outvote them. But they won't even concede that we should participate in the electoral process. They believe that all our votes are fraudulent.

What I find most striking about the Ellmers essay is how little effort he makes to conceal the projection at its core. Here are the enemies, as he defines us:
I’m really referring to the many native-born people—some of whose families have been here since the Mayflower—who may technically be citizens of the United States but are no longer (if they ever were) Americans. They do not believe in, live by, or even like the principles, traditions, and ideals that until recently defined America as a nation and as a people. It is not obvious what we should call these citizen-aliens, these non-American Americans; but they are something else.
So what, in his view, would make us Americans? What does he regard as the core principle of American-ness?
... when the American founders rebelled against a divinely anointed king and established republican government on the basis of the natural equal rights of all human beings, they inaugurated a truly radical idea.

The rule of the majority in America would be limited in principle to doing what could only rightly be done by all the people. That is, the majority acting in and through the Constitution, could not infringe the rights of the minority. The government derived its authority from consent of all the American people....

The great difficulty is that this idea only works if everyone agrees—that is, if everyone “gets it” and acknowledges that we are all fellow citizens (friends, ultimately) and that any temporary majority in power must represent the rights and interests of all.
So after telling us that more than half the American population isn't American, Ellmers asserts that what's truly American is ... being willing to accommodate the portion of the American population that you don't agree with. And he appears to be completely unaware of how he contradicts himself.

Ellmers quotes the founder of the Claremont Institute, Professor Henry Jaffa, to explain "why a majority of people living in the United States today can no longer be considered fellow citizens":
... the citizens of a free society, while becoming partisans (and even “factions”) with respect to the interests that divide them, will be able to transcend these distinctions, when these threaten the genuine interests they share as fellow citizens. It will teach them, above all, as members of a majority, not to permit the endangering of those rights of the minority, which ought to be their common care.
So here's what Ellmers is arguing, in plain words:
America isn't America unless all citizens respect the rights of those they disagree with. And since the evil libs don't do that, we have the right to disrespect their asses and kick them the hell out of America.
And he doesn't even see that he's doing this. This isn't Mitch McConnell saying, "Yes, I held Merrick Garland's nomination for nearly a year and then rammed through Amy Coney Barrett. So I'm a hypocrite. What are you going to do about it, tough guy?" Ellmers thinks this is solid intellectual work. He believes it's Truth with a capital T. He hopes to persuade.

But people like Ellmers have treated us as others for so long that I don't believe he even realizes that his denial of our American-ness is exactly the kind of exclusion he claims to abhor. Sure, there's the majority and the minority, and they have to work together -- but then there are those freaks, the libs. Nobody can work with them. That's what he believes.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

ON LINDSEY GRAHAM AND THE PERMANENCE OF EVERY RIGHT-WING GRIEVANCE

This Sunday talk show moment is getting a lot of attention:



Graham has a 1900-square-foot house in Sparta, South Carolina, a city of fewer than 9,000 people an hour's drive from Greenville. That far from a population center, it's hard to imagine where a feral gang would form, and why it might consider preying on Senator Rambo in his woodland home.


But this isn't about Graham and his personal safety. It's about a 16-year-old right-wing grievance that -- like all right-wing grievances -- continues to be lovingly nursed, because right-wingers can never let anything go.

You see, if you're a right-winger, the worst thing about Hurricane Katrina wasn't the loss of life, loss of personal belongings, or loss of community> It wasn't the displacement or desperation, or the failure of government to offer help in a timely and effective way. It wasn't the levees' state of repair. No -- if you're a right-winger, the worst thing about Katrina was that some people had their guns taken away.

Temporarily.

Adam Weinstein wrote about this in 2015 for The Trace:
In the 10 years since [Katrina], as the rest of the country has wrestled with the causes and consequences of a historic natural and man-worsened disaster, a segment of the gun-rights world has nurtured its own narrative of the storm and its portents of future widespread weapons confiscation. “[T]he measures taken to disarm law-abiding firearm owners in Katrina’s wake should serve as a testament to why gun owners guard our right to bear arms so vigilantly,” the NRA wrote in a post last week for the conservative Daily Caller, commemorating the storm’s 10-year anniversary.
Some guns were taken:
It started as disorder spread two days after the hurricane slammed Louisiana, when an AP reporter witnessed police asking fleeing residents “to give up any guns they had before they boarded buses and trucks because police desperately needed the firepower.” A week later, New Orleans police superintendent Edwin P. Compass III earned infamy with a widely publicized call for blanket confiscation. “Only law enforcement are allowed to have weapons,” he decreed....
But this edict wasn't enforced in any systematic way, as a pro-gun observer noted:
Brannon LeBouef, a shooting instructor and security consultant, was a New Orleans Marine veteran and reserve police officer who participated in the storm response. By 2013, he’d heard so many fantastical Katrina rumors that it was time to set the record straight. “There was NOT widespread gun confiscation in New Orleans,” he wrote on the Bang Switch, a pro-gun blog sympathetic to the Oath Keepers ... and the NRA. Gun-grabbing “was nowhere near as widespread as some would have you believe,” and the confiscations LeBoeuf could confirm “were isolated incidents” done largely by “out of town” cops and soldiers, part of an alphabet soup of agencies without clear missions or lines of responsibility:
I know I encountered countless people with firearms and did not confiscate a single one, neither did any officer I knew or worked with. The only time firearms were seized were when someone was arrested for a crime — no different than before the rain.
In fact, LeBouef wrote, he and 200 other federal officers from an array of agencies were given clear briefing instructions that included an order not to take firearms except as criminal evidence or as part of arrest procedures.
(The above link to LeBouef's post is broken, but you can read a cached version here.)

How many guns were taken? Here are the numbers we know:
LeBouef’s recollections track with New Orleans police records. Shortly after the storm, the NRA and other gun groups sued the city police department, eventually reaching a court-brokered settlement that required the police to return confiscated guns to their rightful owners. The department revealed it had taken 552 guns into custody. Gordon Hutchinson, part of the legal team that tried to inventory the confiscated weapons, estimated that police had collected several thousand more guns before a federal court halted the seizures on September 23. But whether by theft or incompetence, most weapons — the more desirable and valuable ones — had never made it into the department’s coffers; the 552 that remained to be claimed by their owners were mostly inoperable junk guns. Either way, in a city of nearly half a million, where gun possession had always been popular (and exploded after the storm), that doesn’t amount to a totalitarian power grab.
It certainly doesn't amount to a successful totalitarian power grab. Not only did the NRA's lawsuit force the return of firearms, but the police superintendent resigned under pressure a month after the storm. (Neither of those outcomes came at the point of a gun, by the way.)

But Lindsey Graham knows that this story still resonates for every right-wing gun owner in America. He also knows that after decades of scaremongering from the Murdoch media and other right-wing outlets, every conservative in America believes that the inevitable consequence of a natural disaster is the formation of roving gangs of thugs who seek to prey on innocent Real Americans.

So while I have no idea whether Graham really keeps an AR-15 in his home in the woods, I know that he knows precisely what his voters want to hear.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

ARI FLEISCHER ISN'T TELLING THE TRUTH ABOUT THE GEORGIA VOTER LAW

Ari Fleischer -- the former George W. Bush spokesman who went on to become a Trumpist hack -- defended Georgia's new voting law this morning by posting this on Twitter:


He's lying. You can download the text of the law here. The revelevant portion is as follows:
No person shall solicit votes in any manner or by any means or method, nor shall any person distribute or display any campaign material, nor shall any person give, offer to give, or participate in the giving of any money or gifts, including, but not limited to, food and drink, to an elector, nor shall any person solicit signatures for any petition, nor shall any person, other than election officials discharging their duties, establish or set up any table or booths on any day in which ballots are being cast:

(1) Within 150 feet of the outer edge of any building within which a polling place is established;

(2) Within any polling place; or

(3) Within 25 feet of any voter standing in line to vote at any polling place.
The underlined passage above is underlined in the original bill; that's what's new. The restriction on political activity near voters is reasonable -- it's the new restriction on handing out food and water that isn't. (I'd have no objection to a bill saying you can't hand out food or water bearing the name of a candidate or party or preferred choice on a referendum, e.g., "No on #3." I'd be fine with saying that people handing out food and water can't wear or carry anything ID'ing them as advocates for a candidate, party, or cause. But not letting people hand out water or food at all is barbaric.)

Fleischer is lying because he doesn't mention the passage I've highlighted in bold. (It's not in bold in the original law.) Sure, you can hand out food or water if you're at least 150 feet from the polling place -- but you can't hand it out within 25 feet of someone waiting to vote.

So Ari Fleischer is lying to his 410,000 Twitter followers -- or he's simply misinformed. Draw your own conclusion about which of these is correct.

Friday, March 26, 2021

AND SIGNING THAT BILL WON'T EVEN SAVE BRIAN KEMP'S JOB

Georgia governor Brian Kemp signed a voter suppression bill last night, but he'll still lose the GOP gubernatorial primary in 2022. Here's how Gateway Pundit responded to the bill-signing:


What a total disgrace Georgia Republican leadership was in the 2020 election. They certified a fraudulent result for President then allowed the same process to steal not one, but two US Senate seats. Now they make changes!

Tonight the corrupt governor of Georgia, Republican Brian Kemp, signed a bill pushed through Georgia’s House and Senate after the totally corrupt results in the 2020 election for President from Georgia were certified....

Clearly, President Trump won the election in Georgia in 2020 but goons in charge who certified the results believed their pick for President was more important than the votes of the citizens in their state. Now, after pushing through fraudulent results, they make changes.

Watching this dark red state get torn apart by Democrats and crooked Republicans was grotesque.

Georgians should be outraged.
And Georgia Republucans will be -- unless there's something in the bill that will allow Kemp to suppress the vote of Trumpist members of his own party.

MAGA Nation will reject Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger -- his USA Today op-ed criticizing the voting rights bill making its way through Congress won't help him.

The folks at Gateway Pundit are ready to do a lot of canceling. Even Laura Ingraham isn't safe:


She’s attractive and smart. She has good connections and has been in the Washington swamp for a long time. She is conservative and has her own show on FOX News. But she will never be number one.

... She gave up on President Trump as soon as the 2020 election was stolen by the Biden gang. She either didn’t have the courage to stand up to FOX Executives or she didn’t have the wits to see what was happening. But within hours Laura was already moving on with the corrupt Biden gang. Because of this, her viewership is half what it was.

In her interview with the President last night, she rudely cut off the President of the United States when he tried to share the facts about the election being stolen.

... What an absolute outrage. Ingraham sides with FOX News executives. She blames the President for the Democrats stealing the election. She ignores and shuts down the President. She claims a better legal strategy will prevent massive Democrat fraud – when the courts refuse to hear the President’s cases.

What garbage and how terribly rude.
They're obsessed with cancel culture because, if they could, they'd cancel huge numbers of people -- including many of their own.

THE CRUELTY IS STRATEGIC, AND INDEFENSIBLE



I agree with Willis about this. It's a cruel provision -- you don't have to be a bleeding-heart liberal to understand it. Georgia Republicans would have a hard time explaining how providing food or water can be linked to voter fraud. So it would be nice if Democrats -- nationwide -- would make Georgia Republicans have to explain what "election integrity" purpose is served by this provision.

I support the provisions of the Democrats' omnibus election reform bill, but I think Democrats should introduce a bill in Congress today forbidding state and local governments from doing this.

Atkins says this is "probably the least impactful" provision in the law, but it's not insignificant, especially under these circumstances:
Since the U.S. Supreme Court's Shelby v. Holder decision in 2013 eliminated key federal oversight of election decisions in states with histories of discrimination, Georgia's voter rolls have grown by nearly 2 million people, yet polling locations have been cut statewide by nearly 10%, according to an analysis of state and local records by Georgia Public Broadcasting and ProPublica. Much of the growth has been fueled by younger, nonwhite voters, especially in nine metro Atlanta counties, where four out of five new voters were nonwhite, according to the Georgia secretary of state's office.

The metro Atlanta area has been hit particularly hard. The nine counties — Fulton, Gwinnett, Forsyth, DeKalb, Cobb, Hall, Cherokee, Henry and Clayton — have nearly half of the state's active voters but only 38% of the polling places, according to the analysis....

Georgia Public Broadcasting/ProPublica found that about two-thirds of the polling places that had to stay open late for the June primary to accommodate waiting voters were in majority-Black neighborhoods, even though they made up only about one-third of the state's polling places.
And the lines will get longer because the new law shortens the early voting period and reduces the availability of drop boxes for absentee ballots. Also:
The bill ... will allow the State Election Board to take over county election boards that it deems need intervention.
And here's what that means:
State takeovers of local election offices could change the outcome of future elections, especially if they’re as hotly contested as last year’s presidential race between Democrat Joe Biden and Republican Donald Trump. County election boards decide on challenges to voters’ eligibility, polling place closures and certification of results.
There are so many opportunities for Republicans to manipulate elections under the provisions of this bill. But one thing I guarantee you: Majority-Black county election boards will come under the control of the state, and there will be more and more closures of polling places in Black neighborhoods.

There's a lot to be concerned about in this bill. But drawing national attention to this provision is a way to start the conversation. Willis is right:



The Democrats' big election bill is very good, but it's hard for most people to wrap their minds around. Voting rights aren't a hot-button issue for many Americans. But Americans can understand this provision.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

MAYBE REF-WORKING BY REPUBLICANS ISN'T THE ONLY REASON FOR THE MEDIA'S BORDER OBSESSION

President Biden held a press conference today, and it was obvious what mattered to the questioners, and what didn't.
Over the course of 62 minutes on Thursday, the Covid-19 pandemic never arose, except for in the president’s remarks at the start of the event, touting the accomplishments his administration has made in the U.S.’s year-long fight....

He called on 10 reporters....

They peppered him with question after question about the rush of migrants seeking refuge at the border....
Is the border a huge crisis, or are we experiencing more or less the usual seasonal migrant activity at the border, a problem that's likely to peak in May, when temperatures climb and the heat makes it too dangerous to cross? We'll find out. But for the time being, the press seems obsessed.

Republicans have been working the refs pretty hard on this issue, and the mainstream media, while it may skew socially liberal and seems to find many Republicans disagreeable, is always highly critical of Democratic presidents once they're in office. (The media's ideal president would be a Republican who doesn't engage in culture wars but who does fret a lot about deficits. Alas for the high-profile journalists, Larry Hogan, Charlie Baker, and Bill Weld will never be president, and Ben Sasse, Nikki Haley, and J.D. Vance will always revert to culture-war demagoguery.)

But there's another reason the press is talking about the border. It's a somewhat more benign reason, though it has nothing to do with serious judgment about what's truly important.

Mainstream media outlets, especially on television, want stories that stir the emotions. Also, they want to attract eyeballs across the political spectrum.

How do you do that right now? The pandemic seemed like an emotional story, but right-wingers have been shrugging it off for a year now. Voting rights? Progressives and non-white voters care, and hardcore right-wingers think H.R. 1 is a Democratic scam to steal elections, but I don't think voting is a big issue for most moderate whites.

The border, however, is great television. It's compelling across the ideological spectrum. Centrists and people who aren't very political get choked up when they see kids in wretched conditions. So do progressives, who also get angry for ideological reasons. Right-wingers get angry for precisely the opposite reasons -- nothing gets them riled up more than immigration.

For the networks, it's win-win-win.

Does that mean it's the most important problem in America? No. But it's great television, and that's what matters.

BIDEN HOLDS PRESS CONFERENCE TODAY -- OUR LONG NATIONAL NIGHTMARE IS OVER

Sixty-four days after his inauguration, Joe Biden will hold his first presidential press conference this afternoon. We've heard the wails and lamentations of every elite D.C. journalist on this subject, but most of the citizenry is not particularly troubled by Biden's delay, according to YouGov.
More than a third of the country (37%) thinks the current President waited too long.... One in four (25%) don’t have an opinion on the timing.


So 37% think he waited too long, 38% (32% + 6%) think it was fine that he waited this long, and 63% (32% + 6% + 25%) are unfazed by the fact that he waited this long.

Let me remind you that when a Republican does something like this, it's regarded as a sign of his mighty power and consummate skill as a politician and GOP Daddy. Here's a passage from the billion-word feature story on Ron DeSantis that Politico ran last week:
I wanted to see DeSantis—but DeSantis didn’t really want to see me.

He consistently does not give the media ample notice concerning his schedule. What other politicians release days in advance DeSantis’ staff routinely holds back—until the last minute. And what this persistent ploy meant for me last week was that I basically was chasing DeSantis around a state that can take eight, 10, 12 hours to transit from top to bottom. I was in Tampa—a choice because of its centrality. The governor’s aides knew I was in Tampa. And one morning I got a text message from Shane Strum, his chief of staff, saying DeSantis would be having a press conference at 1:30.

“Where?”

“Lehigh Acres.”

I think Strum thought he was doing me a favor. It was 11:36, after all, and the official announcement wasn’t blasted in an email to reporters until 11:44. But Lehigh Acres, down by Fort Myers, was at least two and a half hours away.

“Drive safely,” Strum texted.

I drove ... fast. I arrived at 1:55. A few local TV reporters were packing up.

The governor had come and gone. I texted Strum. “Sorry to hear you didn’t make it,” he said.

DeSantis does nothing by accident. On that there is unanimity among everybody who’s ever known him or worked with him that I’ve ever talked to....

It’s not the job of the governor or his assistants to make reporters’ existences in any way any easier. And DeSantis doesn’t sink to Trump’s name-calling, but his relationship with the media is sandpapery at best, and this lets him limit his exposure to reporters with the exception of the (sadly dwindling) local press.
I highlighted that one sentence because it's what you're not hearing about Biden, and you'll never hear it about a Democrat. (One possible exception: pre-2021 Andrew Cuomo.) Democrats aren't supposed to wield power proudly. If they mistreat or manipulate the press, it's a scandal. If a Republican does it, he's just demonstrating the consummate political skills that have people talking about a future White House run.

I assume Ron DeSantis will be our next president, and while I dread that prospect, I don't care if he ever holds a press conference -- I expect to despise everything he does, and to be far more upset about the bills and executive orders he signs than about whether Jim Acosta gets to ask him a question on TV.

Reporters have many ways to gather the news. The press conference is just one of them, and it's not of the more effective ones. Press conferences are far more important to the media than they are to the general public.

*****

UPDATE: Or to put it another way...

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

ELECTORAL GANGSTERS


Jamelle Bouie writes:
What Are Republicans So Afraid Of?

Instead of conspiracy-mongering about an election they did well in, they could try to win real majorities.


There was a time, in recent memory, when the Republican Party both believed it could win a national majority and actively worked to build one.

Take the last Republican president before Donald Trump, George W. Bush. His chief political adviser, Karl Rove, envisioned a durable Republican majority, if not a permanent one. And Bush would try to make this a reality....

There is no such ambition, or confidence, in today’s Republican Party.

Convinced, after Trump’s defeat in the 2020 presidential election, that there is no way to win the White House in a diverse electorate with high turnout, Republicans have made it their mission to restrict the vote as much as possible....

What’s striking about all this is that, far from evidence of Republican decline, the 2020 election is proof of Republican resilience, even strength. Trump won more than 74 million votes last year. He made substantial gains with Hispanic voters — reversing more than a decade of Republican decline — and improved with Black voters too. He lost, yes, but he left his party in better-than-expected shape in both the House and the Senate.

If Republicans could break themselves of Trump and look at last November with clear eyes, they would see that their fears of demographic eclipse are overblown and that they can compete — even thrive — in the kinds of high-turnout elections envisioned by voting rights activists.
But it's not fear. Republicans are doing what they're doing simply because they can, and because they know it will work.

Saying that Republicans are afraid to compete on a level electoral playing field with Democrats is like saying a Mafia family is afraid to engage in honest capitalist competition for the heroin market in a particular geographic area. In the case of the Mafia family, it's not fear. Carving out turf and defending it with violence is just how Mafia families operate.

Suppressing the Democratic vote, or otherwise neutralizing it via gerrymandering or filibusters, is how Republicans operate.

Mafiosi sometimes do outreach -- John Gotti was well loved in his neighborhood because his presence kept the neighbors safe and because he threw a great block party every Fourth of July. Republicans behave similarly -- using red meat rhetoric (and not very much legislation), they fight to hold on to Republican votes. They don't care what the rest of us think, just the way Gotti didn't care that his illegal Fourth of July fireworks upset the cops. He wasn't trying to do things in a way that had the law's approval. He didn't have to.

Republicans don't have to compete for non-Republican votes. They have plenty of influence now, and they could easily gain more over the next two election cycles. They might be on the verge of passing enough laws to prevent Democrats from ever regaining power.

Sure they, could compete for non-Republican votes. But operating this way is the business they've chosen.

NATIONAL REVIEW'S COOKE: FACTS CARE ABOUT MY FEELINGS!

Here's the headline of a National Review post by Charles C.W. Cooke:
Gun-Control Polling Is Largely Meaningless
This headline suggests that Cooke will make an evidence-based case for why we shouldn't trust polling on firearms. He does nothing of the sort.

Cooke writes:
From Forbes:
84%. That’s the share of voters who said they support requiring all gun buyers to go through a background check in a Morning Consult/Politico poll released earlier this month. That includes 77% of Republicans. However, far fewer – just 48% – support closing the loophole addressed by H.R. 1446, while 38% oppose such a measure.
We hear this statistic a lot, typically coupled with “... so why won’t Congress take action?”

My operating assumption: Because it’s not really true.
So we've gone form a headline hinting at hard evidence of gun polling's questionable nature to Cooke's "operating assumption" -- in other words, his feelings.

And that's all we get as backup for his assertions:
Having written a lot about this topic, I have come to suspect that when Americans tell pollsters that they “support requiring all gun buyers to go through a background check,” they believe they are being asked whether a background-check system should exist at all, rather than whether it should be extended intrusively to all firearms transfers.
"Having written a lot about this topic," Cooke might have quoted some of what he's written, or some of what he's learned while reporting what he's written, to back up his declaration that what he's "come to suspect" is actually true. Nahhh.

Cooke continues:
There is a reason that concrete referendums on this question tend to yield extremely tight splits, that the vast majority of states do not regulate private sales, and that congressional bills, once debated, tend to be far, far less popular than the pre-debate polls had suggested they’d be — and that reason is that while a clear majority of voters do not object to gun stores having to go through the motions, they are not actually that wild about the prospect of involving the government every time they loan their friend a rifle.
But the measure with less-than-overwhelming support (though it's still plurality support) doesn't concern loans of firearms -- it concerns sales. As Morning Consult explains,
Along with the background check legislation, the House is also advancing legislation sponsored by House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) that would change the three-day waiting period to purchase a gun to 10 days if the Federal Bureau of Investigation has not yet completed the buyer’s background check. That measure takes on the so-called “Charleston loophole,” named for the deadly mass church shooting in 2015, in which the shooter evaded measures meant to block him from purchasing a weapon.

According to the latest survey, 48 percent of voters support Clyburn’s legislation, but it garners opposition from 38 percent of voters – driven by nearly half of Republicans.
This has not been a hot-button issue. It's not like universal background checks or an assault weapons ban. It's quite possible that poll respondents hadn't even heard about the proposal before being asked the question. It's possible that their responses suggest a belief that the FBI ought to have the capacity to get the background checks done in three days. (See? Now I'm speculating, too. But I'm not telling you my answers are definitive.) In any case, Democrats favor the Clyburn bill 56%-33%, and independents favor it 50%-33%. Republicans -- 35%-47% -- are the outliers. And 48%-38% overall support is greater popular support than exists for much legislation that's ultimately signed into law.

But to Cooke, the inconvenient polling on background checks is based on a lie.
The Democratic Party and the press spend so much time pretending that it is easier to buy a gun than a taco that many Americans have come to believe that one can simply walk into a Macy’s and pick a machine gun up off the shelf. This, clearly, they oppose. But when that myth has been dispelled and the details begin to intrude? Then, they are less sanguine.
Of course, this comes after Cooke lies about background checks applying to loans rather than sales.
This dynamic also helps to explain why the polling for HR8 is so much better than for HR1446. One of them, HR8, is polled with an extremely vague question about background checks per se; the other, HR1446, is in the weeds. And, as is so often the case, harsh detail quickly kills cheap enthusiasm.
That's what Cooke thinks of your outrage after the massacres in Atlanta in Boulder: It's "cheap enthusiasm" for a solution. And I thought it was liberals who were supposed to have contempt for ordinary voters.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

I DON'T THINK RANK-AND-FILE RIGHT-WINGERS HAVE MASTERED THE UPDATED TALKING POINTS

One of the people who called 911 during the Boulder massacre referred to the shooter as a white male. The police affidavit for his arrest listed his race and sex as "White/Male."

But although he'd be identified by most Americans as a white man (see the photo here), his name is Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, and he was born in Syria. He was known to have a violent temper and was described by family members as paranoid, but he had only minor run-ins with the law and, it seems, no contact with mental health professionals. So of course he could buy a gun.

For those of us who have vivid memories of the War on Terror era, it's odd to see right-wing commentators choosing not to emphasize the shooter's ethnicity in their hot takes on the massacre. Instead, they're attacking liberals for jumping to the conclusion that he was white.
Several prominent leftists took to social media and immediately assumed the shooter in Boulder, Colorado, was white before details about his identity were released....

Kamala Harris’ niece, Meena Harris, said Tuesday morning she deleted a tweet about the suspect.

“I deleted a previous tweet about the suspect in the Boulder shooting,” Harris wrote. “I made an assumption based on his being taken into custody alive and the fact that the majority of mass shootings in the U.S. are carried out by white men.” ...

Deadspin senior writer Julie DiCaro and USA Today editor Hemal Jhaveri also blamed the shooting on “a white man.”

“A white man walked into a grocery store in Boulder, killed 10 people, and was apprehended by the police and walked out of the building completely unharmed,” writer Dylan Park stated in a now-deleted tweet that had been liked over 125,000 times.
Right-wingers passing up an opportunity to play the Islamophobia card? That's ... progress, I guess.

Except that rank-and-file right-wingers aren't paying attention to the new talking points. In the comments at Breitbart, for instance, they're sticking with the old classics:
Don’t forget the FBI is busy chasing down white Christians as domestic terrorists.

****

Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa

Twenty-one years old.

Did you see the picture of his arrest? The video? That's a half bald 35+ year old guy with a bad come-over.

Fake documents.

Religion of peace.

****

And perv Joe Biden is busy recruiting muslim jihadis to America....

under the guise of "refugees".

****

Why is no surprise jihadi vermin strikes again as soon "great plague" 2.0 admin enters WH?
Not so mind boggling after all.

****

... the US federal government has been totally and completely hijacked and co-opted by an utterly corrupt and incredibly incompetent uniparty of Democrat and Republicrat open-borders globalist leftwing lunatics, that have been flooding millions of enemy Muslim invaders and conquerors that are really Muslims stealth demographic jihadists masquerading as being so-called moderate migrants into America as fast as they possibly can and under completely false premises since 2005 when former President, GWB, who is the father of open borders globalist lunatic leftism in America, increased mass Muslim migration with all of its excess baggage, which in reality is really stealth demographic jihad to invade and infiltrate unsuspecting non-Muslim countries in mass for the purpose of waging a stealth demographic jihad preemptively from within in the cause of Allah, by fivefold.

In fact, according to GWB, only a tiny minority of so-called "radical Islamist terrorists" misunderstand the beautiful Religion of Peace, while the vast overwhelming majority of Muslims in the world are so-called peaceful and moderate people just like us.

Nonetheless, that is not only a lie, but it is a very malicious lie. As ALL MAINSTREAM ORTHODOX MUSLIMS IN THE WORLD that altogether comprise the collective Islamic totalitarian world, are obligated under the very severe pain of death, to wage a civilizational holy war that Allah defines as a jihad preemptively against ALL NON-MUSLIMS IN THE WORLD without provocation in the cause of Allah, to ultimately establish the global kingdom of Allah on earth via the eventual worldwide imposition of Sharia....

****

Biden wants to bring in a lot of of these Muslims, and he wants to take away our own guns to defend ourselves.

Biden is an enemy of American freedom.

****

‘...Gov. Jarid Polis reacted by saying, “Today we saw the face of evil...”’

Here’s a clue, ‘Guv.’: the face of unspecified evil with a name like that is Islam, plain and simple.

****

Trump did ban those from uncontrollable Muslims countries. He had to fight the democrats and liberal courts 2 years to win what little he got done.

****

This is why one has to frequent sites like Jihadwatch dot org and thereligionofpeace dot com to see what our Islam protecting MSM doesn't want you to know.
And at Free Republic:
Who let this Syrian scumbag into the country? Biden and Obama opposed the Muslim ban. I assume the blood is on their hands?

****

Schools are no longer reporting these violent Muslims to police for fear of being labeled and it’s what the teachers unions want.

****

So the Islamist Jihadi drove 30 miles to a gun-free area to achieve islamic hegemony?

****

New information coming in that Boulder shooter was a Syrian refugee who arrived via Obama-era asylum programs, per national security official. Self-radicalized while in US.

****

Ahmad was a Syrian refugee who came here under Obammy-asylum program

He should have never been here.
(In fact, a message on his now-deleted Facebook page said he was “born in Syria 1999 came to the USA in 2002” -- when George W. Bush was president.)

And at the message board patriots.win, formerly TheDonald.win, here are a few thread titles:



So the traditional favorites never get old for the right.

THE COLORADO SHOOTING AND THE MYTH OF THE REASONABLE REPUBLICAN

There's been a mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado, and one of the front-page stories at FoxNews.com is this:
Colorado Rep. Boebert decries 'senseless violence' in Boulder

Gun rights activist urges that 'we unify and not divide during this time'


Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., was one of several lawmakers who expressed concern following reports that police had responded to an active shooter situation at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado on Monday....

Why does Fox consider this a front-page story? Why is it a story at all? Boebert is fairly high-profile for a first-term member of Congress, and she's a Fox favorite, but she's not a party leader (yet), and while she's from Colorado, she represents the 3rd District, which doesn't include Boulder.

And it's not as if Boebert is having second trhoughts about her gun extremism. Forbes reports:
Rep. Lauren Boebert’s (R-Colo.) campaign sent out a fundraising email to her supporters encouraging them to say “Hell No” to any gun control measures in Washington on Monday night just hours after a mass shooting in her state left ten people including a police officer dead.

The email, with a subject line: “I told Beto 'HELL NO' to taking our guns. Now we need to tell Joe Biden,” was sent out by Boebert’s campaign just two hours after the shooting journalist David Gura first reported on Twitter....



I assume Fox is promoting Boebert as a reasonable person at this moment for the same reason Boebert went temporarily silent on Twitter after that "may we unify" tweet (she ordinarily posts a lot, nearly always in a combative mood): Because it's believed that the general public pays attention to the most extreme of the extremists at moments like this, and it's important for them to don fig leaves of reasonableness momentarily. When the media conversation changes, they'll go right back to being partisan extremists, of course.

As I've been writing this, she just posted a tribute to the murdered police officer:



But no defiant calls to preserve the gun status quo on her feed.

The fundraising message reported by Forbes was just for superfans -- we weren't supposed to notice it. Now we're paying attention, so she's behaving well.

This is how they do it. They talk like extremists when they think only their fans are listening, then they're on their best behavior, temporarily, at moments like this. And so our politcal culture clings to the enduring myth that the GOP is a reasonable political party made up of responsible citizens. Don't fall for it.

Monday, March 22, 2021

HE'S NOT RUNNING

This doesn't seem the Donald Trump we all know and loathe.
Former President Donald Trump didn't include his former vice president in his list of "very good" Republican leaders and potential 2024 presidential candidates during a new interview with conservative commentator Lisa Boothe.

Instead, Trump named Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.

"Ron DeSantis is doing a really good job in Florida," he said. "I think Josh Hawley has shown some real courage in going after big tech ... Somebody that's been really terrific is Ted Cruz."

He added, "Rand Paul has been great ... Sarah Huckabee is going to do great in Arkansas. I think that Kristi Noem has done a terrific job ... The Republican Party is stacked."
I'm not talking about the snub of Mike Pence -- of course Trump didn't include Pence among the party's stars. I'm talking about the fact that Trump mentioned several of these people as possible 2024 Republican presidential candidates. Peak-period Trump would never have done that. He would have insisted that only person has a shot at the nomination, and he's the one.

To be clear, he didn't praise these people in response to a question about 2024. Boothe's question was "Who are the people right now that you think are part of the future of the Republican Party -- like, those people that, you know, you're supportive of, that you just really like and you think are doing going things?"

However, Boothe's follow-up question was: "If you don't end up running in 2024, which I know a lot of people want you to, we all want you to -- you know, if it's not you, who is it?" To which Trump responded: "So, some of the names I guess I just mentioned, perhaps, and others, and others. I mean, there's a pretty deep bench. I'll make that decision sometime later."

This is not the same Trump who ran for president twice. It's not even the Trump who desperately fought to steal the election. This Trump is asked about not being the alpha male in his party anymore and he's cool with that. Until recently, he would have been mortally offended if he'd even been asked a question like that.

His response to the "future of the Republican Party" question begins, "Well, I think we have a lot of people, a lot of young, good people." Young? Obviously, DeSantis and Cruz and Hawley and the rest are much younger than Trump -- but I can't imagine the pre-January 20 Trump conceding that potential rivals are fresher, younger faces than he is.

Prior to these questions, Trump seems energized by the notion of campaigning for loyalists -- and especially campaigning against critics -- in 2022. But running again in 2024? His heart's not in it.

It might have dawned on him that retirement is not that bad -- that the shame of losing is bearable and that being out of office doesn't mean an instant trip to police custody.

So even though the nomination is his for the asking, I don't see him running again.

NO, THERE WON'T BE A TRUMP SOCIAL MEDIA SITE IN TWO OR THREE MONTHS

Oh, please.
Former President Donald Trump is coming back to social media -- but this time with his own network, a Trump spokesperson told Fox News on Sunday.

Jason Miller, a long-time adviser and spokesperson for Trump's 2020 campaign told Howard Kurtz on Fox's "MediaBuzz" that Trump will be "returning to social media in probably about two or three months." He added Trump's return will be with "his own platform" that will attract "tens of millions" of new users and "completely redefine the game."

"This is something that I think will be the hottest ticket in social media," Miller told Kurtz. "It's going to completely redefine the game, and everybody is going to be waiting and watching to see what President Trump does, but it will be his own platform."

Miller said during his appearance on Fox News that the former president has been approached by numerous companies and is in talks with teams about the new platform.

"This new platform is going to be big," Miller said on Sunday. "Everyone wants him and he's going to bring millions and millions -- tens of millions -- to this platform."
I believe that Trump has been working ... on the wording of Miller's announcement. The announcement is pure Trump. I'm sure he dictated it to Miller (although if Trump had been reciting this himself, he would have said, "millions and millions -- tens of millions, even more than tens of millions").

But give me a break. This is the Trump healthcare plan all over again.
In June 2018, Trump said he would unveil a health-care plan “in a very short period of time.”

By April 2019, Trump said he would not call for a vote on the yet-to-be-revealed health-care plan until after the 2020 election.

The following month, Trump said the plan would be out “over the next four weeks.”

Nearly four weeks later, Trump said the “phenomenal” plan would come “in about two months.”

And nearly two months later, Trump said the yet-to-be-revealed plan would be implemented if Republicans retake the House in 2020.


Throughout his presidency, everything was always two to three weeks away.



It's the same "two to three" formulation -- it's just "months" this time.

No one's reported on any social media mogul visits to Mar-a-Lago. No one's reported any Trump hires of executives for an enterprise like this.

It'll never happen. Of course he'd like to crush Twitter and Facebook, in revenge. But that would require work. It would require learning the industry. That would cut into precious golfing and TV-watching time.

It's an idle threat. He'll never do it.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

IMAGINE IF TRUMP WERE A NORMAL PERSON

We're being told that President Trump should get the credit for the successful vaccine rollout under President Biden.
Former Operation Warp Speed health adviser Dr. Moncef Slaoui claimed that 90% of the current administration’s coronavirus vaccine rollout plan is the same as what the Trump administration had laid out – despite claims that Biden inherited "no plan." ...

"I do think we had plans," Slaoui told CBS’s "Face the Nation" on Saturday. "In fact, 90% of what is happening now is the plan that we had."
Imagine if Donald Trump were a normal human being. Imagine if, after losing the 2020 election, he conceded like a normal person and cooperated with the incoming president on the transition. Imagine if, given the severity of this particular crisis, he met or spoke with the president-elect more than once on the continuing health crisis, and urged his advisers -- including those who weren't political operatives, like Dr. Slaoui -- to cooperate fully with the incoming Biden team. Imagine if he filmed his vaccination and participted in that vaccination ad featuring the other living former presidents. Imagine if he were promoting the vaccines now.

Regardless of the truth about the rollout, he'd be finding it much easier to persuade the country that he deserves some of the credit for what's working now.

But one of Trump's many neuroses is that he can't share credit with anyone he considers his inferior, which is pretty much everyone on earth, with the exception of certain tycoons and global dictators.

And this neurotic inability to play well with others dovetails perfectly with the ideology of the Republican Party. If you're a Republican, you must never cooperate with Democrats on anything, even saving the lives of your own grandparents.

It makes me wince to watch George W. Bush palling around with Bill Clinton and the Obamas, but you can't blame him -- it's been very good for his public image. Wouldn't doing something similar be good for Trump's?

But Bush is capable of some normal human feelings, and he represents an older GOP, which was bad in his time but is even more pathological now.

Trump can't be like Bush. His brand is "I am one of the greatest human beings who's ever lived!" And the modern GOP's brand is "Death to collaborators!"

Saturday, March 20, 2021

THE WORST SENATE RACE

Everyone who follows politics knows that J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy, wants to run for the Ohio Senate seat that's being vacated by Rob Portman. Peter Thiel has given $10 million to a Vance super PAC to fund this run. Vance just published a Newsweek op-ed in which he played some of white nationialism's greatest hits:
There were many reasons I [backed Trump's reelection in 2020], but nothing stands out as much as a dinner I attended with my wife and the leaders of dozens of America’s wealthiest corporations....

The Republicans, we’re often told, are the party of the rich and famous. Yet nearly everyone assembled at this dinner simply loathed Donald Trump. He was the focus of nearly every conversation. And then the hotel CEO announced, “Trump has no idea how much his policies are hurting business. I mean, we can’t keep people for $18 an hour in our hotels. If we’re not paying $20, we’re understaffed. And it’s all because of Donald Trump’s immigration policies.”

... Despite the enormous challenges facing America’s working class, those same masters of the universe and the politicians they fund are still looking for the same thing: cheap foreign labor. No one seems to care that many migrants test positive for COVID every day and will directly compete with our struggling service sector workers.

... Why are we promising amnesty for millions when we know the vicious transnational drug cartels use that promise to sell desperate people on the promise of crossing the border?

The answer is what I saw at that dinner: It’s about money. Nearly every major business and financial leader in this country is a supporter of the Democratic Party.
But now Scott Lemieux writes:
MEET THE GUY WHO WILL CRUSH J.D. VANCE IN THE OHIO REPUBLICAN SENATE PRIMARY

If you’re wondering why J.D. Vance was throwing out some preemptive racisms, well here you go:
Josh Mandel, a candidate in the 2022 Republican primary in the U.S. Senate, had a post removed by Twitter on Thursday.

Mandel posted a poll on Twitter on Thursday morning reading, “Of the various types of illegals flooding across the border, will more crimes be committed by,” with the options of “Muslim Terrorists” or “Mexican Gangbangers.”
However, there'll be a third major candidate in the primary -- former state GOP chair Jane Timken. She describes herself as the "one candidate in this race who was hand-picked by President Trump to run the Ohio Republican Party." She called for the resignation of an Ohio GOP congressman who voted to impeach Trump in January. The first words in her first campaign ad are
President Trump won Ohio twice because he stood up and fought for hard-working Americans. I'm Jane Timken, and I'm running for the U.S. Senate to defend the Trump agenda.
Axios reported that Trump had to be talked out of giving her an early endorsement.

How much does she love Trump? This much:



It'll be a three-person race, which means it's hard to tell who'll prevail -- but we know they'll all be tring to out-MAGA, out-meme, and out-xenophobe one another. It wll be a race to the bottom, the worst Senate primary in America. And given Ohio's rightward drift, the winner is almost certain to win the general election.