Sunday, April 11, 2021


So I'm reading the latest Ron DeSantis puff piece, this one in The New York Times ...
Now, with Florida defying many of the gloomy projections of early 2020 and feeling closer to normal as the pandemic continues to dictate daily life in many other big states, Mr. DeSantis, 42, has positioned himself as the head of “the free state of Florida” and as a political heir to former President Donald J. Trump....

Mr. DeSantis’s political maneuvering and extensive national donor network have allowed him to emerge as a top Republican candidate to succeed Mr. Trump on the ballot in 2024 if the former president does not run again. The governor’s brand of libertarianism — or “competent Trumpism,” as one ally called it — is on the ascent.
... and eventually I get to the passage that appears in every puff piece about DeSantis:
Mr. DeSantis has raised his profile despite lacking the gregarious personality that might be associated with an aspiring Trump successor. Unlike the former president, no one would describe the publicly unemotional and not especially eloquent Mr. DeSantis as a showman.
In a long love note to DeSantis published by Politico last month, the version of that passage was this:
Newly ascendant though he might be, the “future of the party” is just as standoffish and uncharismatic as he’s always been.
The Politico story, by Michael Kruse, included a lengthy chronicle of the author's struggles to get face time with DeSantis; Patricia Mazzei, the autrhor of the Times story, tells us that DeSantis wouldn't agree to an interview with her.

So why is the media so taken with DeSantis? We know that some in the media crave the caffeine jolt of Trump's daily Twitter abuse.

But they're not getting that from DeSantis. So what are they getting?

In the Times, Mazzei writes:
... the governor’s favorite foes are the “corporate media,” against whom he has scored political points....

[A recent] “60 Minutes” [story] focused on how Publix supermarket pharmacies received [COVID vaccine] doses and left out relevant details, including an extended response from the governor at a news conference.

On Wednesday, in Mr. DeSantis’s words, he “hit them back right between the eyes,” accusing “60 Minutes” of pursuing a malicious narrative.

He left without taking questions.
They don't even care if the next Trump is boring -- they just want him to be nasty. They want someone who (a) is seen as presidential timber and (b) will abuse them.

(The abuse has to be from the right, of course. When President Biden didn't hold a press conference for a couple of months, they were livid, not besotted.)

They could get the abuse they want from any number of Trumpian lunatics who appear to want to be president -- Donald Trump Jr., Rand Paul, Ted Cruz. But DeSantis is a guy who's liked by both Trump voters and the members of the old-guard GOP establishment, people who, we're told, have been secretly whispering their disdain for Trump for the past five years. So he has across-the-board appeal (among Republicans, who are the only real Americans) and he hates the mainstream media. No wonder the MSM thinks he's dreamy.

Saturday, April 10, 2021


Here's the headline of a Reuters story:

Now here's the headline of a New York Post story based on the Reuters story:

Notice the key difference? Reuters says the Biden administration is considering payments to "Central America." The Post says the payments are going to "Central Americans."

The main difference in the wording is two letters. The difference in right-wing outrage is incalculable.

The Reuters story says:
The United States is considering a conditional cash transfer program to help address economic woes that lead migrants from certain Central American countries to trek north, as well as sending COVID-19 vaccines to those countries, a senior White House official told Reuters on Friday.

The potential program would be targeted at people in the Northern Triangle region of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, Roberta Jacobson, the White House’s southern border coordinator, told Reuters in an interview, without saying who exactly would receive cash....

“The one thing I can promise you is the U.S. government isn’t going to be handing out money or checks to people,” Jacobson said....

Biden, who took office on Jan. 20, has called for $4 billion in development aid to Central America over four years to address underlying causes of migration. On Friday, the White House requested $861 million from Congress for that effort in Biden’s first annual budget proposal. That would be a sharp increase from the roughly $500 million in aid this year.
In other words, this is the kind of response you have to an immigration problem if you're grown-ups: You attempt to use the wealth of the United States to help solve problems and improve conditions in countries from which people are fleeing in order to get to the United States.

I've added emphasis to point out specifically what won't happen. But the Post cynically tweaks the Reuters headline, knowing that anti-immigrant rage addicts will barely read past the new headline and conclude that giving cash to individual immigrants is precisely what the Biden administration intends to do.

Here's how the Post story begins:
It’s pay to stay away.

The Biden administration is considering sending cash payments to Central Americans in a bid to prevent them from making the trek north as the US grapples with the worst immigration crisis seen in 20 years, Reuters reported Friday.

The potential cash transfer program would be targeted at residents of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, which account for the overwhelming majority of migrants illegally crossing the border, Roberta Jacobson, the White House’s southern border coordinator, told the outlet.
So the payments are "targeted at residents," according to the Post. Six paragraphs later, near the end of the story, we're told:
Jacobson, who announced Friday she is stepping down, couldn’t explain to Reuters how the program would work but did say she can “promise” “the U.S. government isn’t going to be handing out money or checks to people.”
So the payments aren't "targeted at residents"? Which is it? But by this time it's assumed that the reader's blood is already boiling at the prospect of American checks going to individual brown foreigners.

Thought leaders on the right are now promoting the Post's version of the Reuters story:

This is how they do it. This is how they've done it for years -- big lies are useful sometimes, but tiny adjustments to the truth can pack an outrage wallop, and most people won't even notice that they're lies.

Friday, April 09, 2021


Really, New York Times?
Republican lawmakers are passing voting restrictions to pacify right-wing activists still gripped by former President Donald J. Trump’s lie that a largely favorable election was rigged against them. G.O.P. leaders are lashing out in Trumpian fashion at businesses, baseball and the news media to appeal to many of the same conservatives and voters. And debates over the size and scope of government have been overshadowed by the sort of culture war clashes that the tabloid king relished....

[Trump's] preference for engaging in red-meat political fights rather than governing and policymaking have left party leaders in a state of confusion over what they stand for....

Having, quite literally, abandoned their traditional party platform last year to accommodate Mr. Trump, Republicans have organized themselves around opposition to the perceived excesses of the left and borrowed his scorched-earth tactics as they do battle.
Right -- the GOP that's fixated on culture-war talk today is totally different from the GOP that attacked John Kerry for speaking French (at a time when right-wingers loathed the Iraq-war-skeptical French government and cheered the rebranding of French fries in congressional dining halls as "freedom fries"). It's totally different from the GOP that was obsessed with Barack Obama's birth certificate, or Bill Clinton's sex life, or Hillary Clinton's health.
It’s a strikingly different approach from the last time Democrats had full control of government, in 2009 and 2010, when conservatives harnessed the Great Recession to stoke anger about President Barack Obama and federal spending on their way to sweeping midterm gains.
Yes, the anger at Obama was strictly fiscal.

The fight against Obamacare seemed like a policy fight, but in retrospect it was obviously a "You want to give free stuff to Those People" fight. Is the Times still unable to acknowledge that?

The party that hates voting rights now is the party that hated ACORN in the Obama years. The party that hates "cancel culture" now is the party that once hated...

I'm stating the obvious, though I wish it were obvious to the Times.


America's most prominent racist said this yesterday:

... Now, I know that the left and all the little gatekeepers on Twitter become literally hysterical if you use the term "replacement." If you suggest that the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots with new people, more obedient voters from the third world. They become hysterical because that's what's happening actually. Lets just say it that's true.


If you change the population, you dilute the political power of the people who live there. So every time they import a new voter, I become disenfranchised as a current voter. So I don't understand why -- everyone wants to make a racial issue out of it. You know the white replacement theory? No, no, this is a voting right question. I have less political power because they are importing a brand new electorate. Why should I sit back and take that? The power that I have as an American guaranteed at birth is one man, one vote. They are diluting it. No, they are not allowed to do it. Why are we putting up with this?
The Biden administration wants an eight-year path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in America, but Carlson is talking here as if immigrants cross the border unlawfully, establish a toehold in America -- and then begin voting immediately.

If you believe that's happening, it's because you think our elections are riddled with corruption, all of it favoring Democrats. I don't know why Republicans win so many elections in America if that's the case, but Republicans seem to take it as a given that voting here can't be trusted. And why shouldn't they believe that? Since the Bush era, they've been told by the right-wing media, Republican politicians, and conservative advocacy groups that pro-Democratic cheating is widespread.

They think mail ballots are fraudulent and voting machines flip votes to Democrats and, for all I know, they think Biden votes were beamed in from Alpha Centauri last November. But they also believe that undocumented immigrants vote in large numbers -- just after he was inaugurated, Donald Trump reportedly told congressional leaders that 3 to 5 million undocumented immigrants voted against him. Trump's first press secretary, Sean Spicer, claimed that a study demonstrated that 14% of the votes in the 2016 election were cast by non-citizens.

This is what your right-wing relatives believe: that border crossers today will be Democratic voters tomorrow -- literally.

Thursday, April 08, 2021


This development in Gaetz-ghazi is just too perfect:
Joel Greenberg, the former Seminole County Tax Collector at the center of a sprawling criminal probe into everything from stalking to wire fraud to sex trafficking, used taxpayer money to pay $7,500 in legal fees to state Rep. Anthony Sabatini, records show.

While still serving as tax collector, Greenberg gave Sabatini a $3,000-a-month “legal counsel” contract in September 2019 — five days after Sabatini was admitted to the Florida Bar. Greenberg canceled the contract a little more than two months later, citing “extreme budget constraints.”

It’s not clear what Sabatini, a Republican from Howey-in-the-Hills who casts himself as a crusader against “wasteful” government spending, did for the $7,500.

Emails provided Monday by the Tax Collector’s Office show that Sabatini was asked to help with litigation involving a software contractor and with a trio of disputes involving former employees. But the emails didn’t show any work Sabatini produced, and records compiled as part of a Seminole County audit into Greenberg’s office spending show officials were “not sure” what exactly Sabatini worked on.
Anthony Sabatini? That would be this guy:

Of course this guy is running for Congress -- and he might be handed a seat by the Florida legislature:
Sabatini has tried to emulate Gaetz’s bombastic and confrontational style in politics and has already announced plans to run for Congress himself in 2022.

Incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster, who currently represents Lake County, criticized Sabatini for potentially challenging him. But Gaetz has expressed tacit support for Sabatini’s decision to run because Florida lawmakers may draw a new Congressional seat in the area when they redo legislative boundaries next year.
THe word "kakistocracy" means "government by the worst people." It would seem to apply in this case. Maybe the Gaetz/Greenberg scandal will keep Sabatini out of Congress -- but I doubt it.

(Via Betty Cracker.)


Townhall's Kurt Schlichter loved capitalism...

Until ...

Kurt writes:
Old habits die hard, and now it’s time for the GOP’s habitual support of big business to die, and to die hard.

Look around – the corporations have decided it’s a great time to use their power against us. There used to be a kind of gentleman’s agreement – they stay out of our business and we stay out of theirs.

But they broke that agreement. They decided to go all in. And it’s no coincidence that the political positions they have taken conform exactly to those of the Democrat Party. So, the hell with them.
(Stops reading, looks up corporate political action committees.)
... The companies were never with us culturally – they wanted fewer regs, lower taxes, open borders, and docile workers. They didn’t care about social issues. They stayed out of it. But a few decades ago, when those icky evangelicals and others who actually worshipped something besides the almighty dollar showed up, the corporate types got restless. After all, it made for awkward convos at the country club when you were allied with the Jesus gun people from out there in Americaland. So, today, they have intervened in favor of our enemies, but they expect us to sit back and pretend it’s 1987.

Why did they go with the liberal establishment? Because that’s who the multinational bigwigs are, and always have been. It’s always about class, and the class these robber barons circulated within looks down on regular Americans
Back in 1987, did Schlichter somehow overlook the fact that "multinational bigwigs" tend not to be churchgoing gun owners living in shotgun shacks in rural Texas? Was this information concealed from him as part of a sinister plot to deceive him about the nature of capitalism?

No. He always knew, and he had no problem with it. He mocked other people who thought capitalists had too much power. Let them have whatever they want! They're capitalists! They've earned it!

Until the moment when they started using their power to do stuff he doesn't like. Then it suddenly became time to smash The System.

I sometimes see Schlichter on social media complaining about "crony capitalism," which is a term that has an actual meaning, but not the way Schlichter applies it. To Schlichter, "crony capitalism" is "capitalism acting in the interests of people I don't like."

Sorry that the superficial but occasionally consequential interest in social responsibility on the part of large corporations upsets you, Kurt. But you should have seen the potential for this in 1987.

Wednesday, April 07, 2021


Washington Examiner hack Paul Bedard publishes a press release disguised as a scoop:
Andrew Giuliani, a former top aide to President Donald Trump and son of “America’s Mayor,” is “heavily considering” a bid for governor of New York in 2022, potentially setting up an epic clash between the two biggest political families in recent New York history.

“I plan to run,” Giuliani told Secrets.
Yes, Andrew Giuliani, the overgrown boy who, at 35, has apparently held precisely two full-time jobs as an adult -- unsuccessful golf pro and presidential aide who, as Wikipedia put it, "helped arrange sports teams’ visits to the White House, and interfaces between the White House and a number of business, nonprofit, and other groups" (for a salary that topped out at $95,000 a year) -- now considers himself qualified to run the fourth most populous state in the union. Hey, why work your way up? (Say what you will about the man Giuliani hopes to defeat, fellow scion Andrew Cuomo, but he at least took a few lower-tier jobs before running for governor.)

Here's more of Bedard's hackwork:
A Giuliani-Cuomo race would be a Titanic battle of New York families, a liberal-conservative fight that the state hasn’t seen in years....

Giuliani is the son of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and worked in the Trump White House as a director of the Office of Public Liaison. While he has no elected experience, he has been part of his family’s political business for years, a training that has produced several successful candidates, notably former President George W. Bush, a former Texas governor.
Oh, that's hilarious. Do you know when Rudy Giuliani last won an election? It was 1997. Do you know how old Andrew Giuliani was at the time? He was eleven. Compared to Andrew Giuliani, Dubya was a grizzled political veteran by the time he ran for governor.

Parts of this read like what you put on a résumé when you have no relevant work experience:
Political strategist and communicator Boris Epshteyn, who served as special assistant to Trump, said, “Andrew worked tirelessly for President Trump in the White House while still having a smile on his face every day." ...

While only 35 years old, the former golf executive has been described as unusually smart and diplomatic.
Is he a self-starter, too?

Bedard quotes Giuliani saying, “Outside of anybody named Trump, I think I have the best chance to win and take the state back" -- which is hilarious because Trump lost the state in November 61%-38%. You'd think Republicans would want to run someone against Cuomo who doesn't lean into his Trump connections the way Young Andrew and Bedard do.
Giuliani said he considers Trump an “uncle,” since the families have known each other for decades. The two often golfed together during Trump's four years in office.

A former Trump aide told Secrets that Trump and the Make America Great Again movement will back Giuliani.
And I haven't even discussed Young Andrew's father, who was once a highly respected angry blowhard in this state but is now regarded, outside Trump circles, as a doddering crackpot.

I probably shouldn't be dismissive -- at first I didn't believe Donald Trump could win the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, then I believed the pollsters who told me he couldn't win the general election. Media outlets outside the right-o-sphere (Vanity Fair, New York magazine, Axios) are taking this very seriously, presumably because they desperately hope that politics can be more like reality TV again.

I worry that Andrew Cuomo will hang on, run for reelection, and be beatable. I hope he doesn't run. I hope he leaves office soon, voluntarily or otherwise.

But a callow Trump bootlicker with no relevant experience seems as if he might be a weakened Cuomo's dream opponent.


This seems like good news:
In Gallup polling throughout the first quarter of 2021, an average of 49% of U.S. adults identified with the Democratic Party or said they are independents who lean toward the Democratic Party. That compares with 40% who identified as Republicans or Republican leaners. The nine-percentage-point Democratic advantage is the largest Gallup has measured since the fourth quarter of 2012.
This gap is larger than normal, but not by much:
In recent years, Democratic advantages have typically been between four and six percentage points.
You can see that on the graph:

And you can see that previous gaps of this size haven't endured. Democrats had a 49%-40% advantage in 2012, for instance, but two years later Republicans scored a big win in the midterms, increasing their advantage in the House and taking the Senate. Democrats had an even greater affiliation advantage in 1992 and 1998, only to lose elections in 1994 and 2000. And while a persistent pro-Democratic gap in Bush's second term led to big Democratic wins in 2006 and 2008, Republicans came roaring back in 2010.

What's disheartening is that Republicans' current decline is normal. After January 6, the GOP should be in severe decline. The party should be far less popular than it's been in the past thirty years. But it's at a typical low. America doesn't believe that Republicans are beyond the pale.

And how do we square these numbers with the polling recently cited by CNN's Harry Enten?
One of the best ways to judge the political environment is through the generic congressional ballot. The generic ballot asks respondents some form of the following question: "If the elections for Congress were held today, would you vote for the Democratic or Republican Party?"

Democrats are ahead on that measure by about 4 points in the average poll taken since the beginning of Biden's administration. That lead is about the same as the final margin in the 2020 presidential race (Biden +4.5 points) and the 2020 House popular vote (Democrats +3.1 points)....

Remember too that the 2020 polls tended to underestimate the Republican position. This means Republicans are actually doing better on the generic ballot now than they were heading into the 2020 election.
Enten thinks Republicans are in excellent position to retake Congress in 2022. The party that isn't in the White House usually has a very good year in a president's first midterms. That shouldn't be the case now -- the party of January 6 and Marjorie Taylor Greene and no votes on the COVID relief bill should be the exception to that rule. What the GOP is doing now should be political suicide. But that appears not to be the case.

I'd love to believe that Republicans are in deep trouble. Howerver, they easily survived Trump's attempted election theft and second impeachment. Democrats still won't say that the main impediment to change is the Republican Party, while Republicans and the right-wing media blame Democrats and liberals for every evil in the world. Republicans are in fine shape. They shouldn't be.

Tuesday, April 06, 2021


Over the weekend, Florida governor Ron DeSantis was the subject of a very harsh story on 60 Minutes. DeSantis responded with fury -- and Axios's Zachary Basu and Mike Allen treated the governor's response as important political news:
DeSantis milks "60 Minutes" spat

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Trump ally with his eyes on the White House, is dialing up a dispute with "60 Minutes" — seizing on a juicy chance to ingratiate himself with the GOP base by bashing the media.

Why it matters: It's a political gift akin to all the Fox fodder that Sen. Tom Cotton gobbled up after the N.Y. Times revolt over his op-ed.
It's obvious what Basu and Allen are saying: They, like all savvy political insiders, believe DeSantis has an excellent chance of being the next president of the United States, quite possibly after the 2024 election, and they've gotten on the Ron Train early. They're describing this as a lucky break for him, an opportunity he's grabbing with both hands, given his political astuteness and eye for the main chance. (It's dispiriting that a winner of the 2024 "media primary" can already be declared three years before the Iowa caucuses, but that's how our press operates.)

However, our friends on the right have either failed reading comprehension or believe that being angry when you win is just as lib-owning as being angry when you lose. They've concluded -- or at least are proclaiming -- that this story is bad for DeSantis. In fact, it's a moral outrage!

At National Review, Charles C.W. Cooke writes:
That’s the story, is it? That DeSantis is “seizing” on CBS’s world-class dishonesty? The issue here is his reaction to being so brazenly lied about? The need-to-know précis is that he’s annoyed by the press’s penchant for deliberately spreading baseless conspiracy theories? That he might “bash” those who did it? That he’s been accorded a “juicy chance” to highlight bad behavior?
Hot Air's Ed Morrissey writes:
Wow — DeSantis responded to a hatchet job that tried to smear him as corrupt by “seizing” it, and then “milks” it to, er … defend himself against a yellow-journalism political hit piece. That’s what the guild calls “circling the wagons,” no?
Twitchy's Sarah D. writes:
“60 Minutes” very deliberately assassinated the character of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in their recent piece on his handling of the COVID19 pandemic in his state.

But according to Axios, that’s not the story.

No, the real story, the real scandal, is Ron DeSantis’ reaction to being defamed....
Folks, Basu and Allen are describing this as a "juicy chance" for DeSantis because this is all sport to them, and they think he's having a career year, the kind of year when even luck goes your way. They're taking it as a given that 60 Minutes gave him an opening to complain -- they're not circling the wagons on behalf of CBS at all. This is a good story for DeSantis. Why so grumpy?


In The Washington Post, Daniel Drezner considers the media's lack of interest in the opinions of Biden voters.
Four years ago the mainstream media was awash in stories about Rust Belt diners teeming with Trump voters. These stories depicted salt-of-the-earth Americans who were sick and tired of business as usual in Washington, D.C. (Whether they were actually salt-of-the-earth is subject to debate.) ...

As a close follower of political news, I have observed no parallel surge of stories about any crucial Biden demographic since his election. This is legitimately odd....
Is there an obvious explanation? Drezner doesn't think so.
When I asked about this contrast on social media, I got some fair and reasonable responses from the Fourth Estate. Trump’s 2016 win was surprising, whereas Biden’s was expected — if anything, the election night surprise in 2020 was that it was closer than expected. Furthermore, traditional factors explain Biden’s victory. Trump governed badly, leaving the country in worse shape than when he was inaugurated. It is not surprising that Biden won.

The hard-working staff here at Spoiler Alerts find these reasons partially, but not entirely, persuasive. It’s not like 2017 was the first time that the news media was ever interested in a key voting demographic. I am old enough to remember lots of talk about “security moms,” and before that “soccer moms,” and before that “Reagan Democrats.” Covering swing demographics has been a journalistic tradition for some time now.

Furthermore, this lack of interest in Biden voters comes at the same time the news media still seems super-interested in Trump voters. What do they think about the Jan. 6 insurrection? Do they like Biden’s infrastructure bill?
Right -- the press is still going on diner safaris to learn the innermost thoughts of Trump voters. Journalists can no longer saythat they're seeking to explain a surprise win because Trump didn't win this time.

Is this happening because the press believes it already gives too much coverage to Biden's demographic base?
Why the lack of Biden voter interest? Perhaps the very demographic that swung the election to Biden is also the slice of America that already receives a disproportionate share of media coverage: college-educated White suburbanites. According to voter analyst David Shor, this is the group that shifted the most in voting between 2016 and 2020.
Yes, but in 2004, as Drezner notes, the press was fascinated by "soccer moms" who'd become "security moms" -- and who tended to be upscale white suburbanites. The candidate favored by "security moms" wasn't a surprise winner -- it was George W. Bush in 2004, who won reelection as most incumbent presidents do.
The biggest driver for the lack of Biden voter coverage, however, might be that the reportage of Trump voters came from a different motivation. In 2017, the interest was in how Trump voters felt about a president who was beclowning the executive branch on a daily basis. The tenor of that coverage was a befuddled national press corps venturing into parts unknown to discover how these voters felt about a president acting unlike any other president in history.
So why are these same reporters still fascinated by Trump voters' opinions on the Biden presidency, which is not clown-like or dysfunctional?

If journalists don't want to interview white suburban Biden voters, they can interview non-white Biden voters -- maybe they could ask them how they feel about Republican (and centrist Democratic) stonewalling of important legislation (on, say, the minimum wage or gun violence). But the press doesn't seem to care.

The press doesn't even seem interested in the Black and Hispanic voters who swung to Trump in 2020. You'd expect a lot of coverage of these voters, whose preferences in 2020 surprised many of us. But the media appears uninterested.

The media neglects white Biden voters out of what appears to be group self-hate. The media is still fascinated by white Trump voters, romanticizing them as manly Real Americans. And the media doesn't seem interested in non-white Biden or Trump voters, apparently for the simple reason that they're non-white. I don't think it's any more complicated than that.

Monday, April 05, 2021


The lead item at Gateway Pundit right now is this:
FBI Sends Out Warning Advising Against Buying, Making or Misrepresenting a Vaccine Card Which May Be “Breaking the Law”
This is in response to an FBI public service announcement:
If You Make or Buy a Fake COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card, You Endanger Yourself and Those Around You, and You Are Breaking the Law

The Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) and the FBI are advising the public to be aware of individuals selling fake COVID-19 vaccination record cards and encouraging others to print fake cards at home. Fake vaccination record cards have been advertised on social media websites, as well as e-commerce platforms and blogs.

Vaccination record cards are intended to provide recipients of the COVID-19 vaccine with information about the type of vaccine they received, and when they may be able to receive a second dose of the vaccine. If you did not receive the vaccine, do not buy fake vaccine cards, do not make your own vaccine cards, and do not fill-in blank vaccination record cards with false information. By misrepresenting yourself as vaccinated when entering schools, mass transit, workplaces, gyms, or places of worship, you put yourself and others around you at risk of contracting COVID-19. Additionally, the unauthorized use of an official government agency's seal (such as HHS or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)) is a crime, and may be punishable under Title 18 United States Code, Section 1017, and other applicable laws.
THe FBI PSA goes on to warn people not to post images of their vaccine cards on social media -- "your personal information could be stolen to commit fraud."

I've been dreading this moment, which I knew was coming. It's been obvious for months that right-wingers would resist the vaccines and be offended that vaccination had privileges to which they would not be entitled. I've assumed that they'd create, or at least obtain, fake vaccination records as an act of defiance against liberal fascism or cancel culture or the Fauci/Soros/Gates One World Government or however the hell they define their enemies. It also appeared inevitable that apolitical operators would see fake vaccine IDs as a clever way to make a dishonest dollar. It seemed like a huge mistake to make the initial vaccine cards out of simple cardboard. You can get your card laminated (I actually did that at Staples), but it doesn't exactly make the thing seem like a secure ID.

And now fake vaccine cards are being made -- and Gateway Pundit thinks the real villains are the folks at the FBI who are trying to do something about it. GP's post is accompanied by this oh-so-subtle 2016-vintage Photoshop:

The post reads in part:
The FBI is now in the pandemic business. They were part of illegal activities in the Russian sham. They ignored massive corruption in the 2020 election, but now find their purpose pushing vaccinations cards to Americans.
The post approvingly quotes some conspiratorial nonsense from a lunatic in Minnesota.
One response to the FBI’s ignorance of personal freedom was to refer to the Gates Foundation:

I don't expect the rest of the right to go quite that far -- but I can easily imagine blue cities in red states trying to crack down on creators of phony vaccine cards and being constrained by their state legislatures and governors, who'll limit the penalties for vaccine-card fakery to tiny fines, or ban prosecutions altogether. They'll certainly rally around anyone accused of this who's facing serious time.

Gateway Pundit is part of the lunatic fringe, but I think fake ID card makers are likely to replace bar and gym owners who open their doors in defiance of lockdowns as the new wingnut heroes. The right has never taken the pandemic seriously. Why start now?


Earlier this year, commentators were surprised at the relative lack of Republican resistance to the Democrats' COVID relief bill. Jonathan Chait wrote:
The Democratic Party is on the verge of passing an economic-rescue bill twice the size of the one they enacted under Barack Obama. And yet the Republican opposition, which could block any bill by turning just one senator, has invested shockingly little energy in its opposition. While no Republicans seem likely to vote in favor, they have responded with resignation, rather than the paroxysms of outrage they mustered against previous Democratic administrations (and over far more limited measures).
After the bill passed, some Republicans in Congress even boasted about aid coming to their constituents from this bill they'd voted against.

But I never believed that this was a politcal failure on the Republicans' part. They seem to have decided that fighting hard to defeat the bill would have been an exercise in futility and a waste of political capital. So they settled on an alternate plan: Let it pass, but lay the groundwork for a campaign to discredit it afterward. They seemed to believe that they'd get more political benefit out of allowing it to become law and then demonizing it than they would from fighting it.

The plan seems to be working, at least with the Republican base. A story in The Washington Post tells us that Republican voters are parroting the party's messaging on the COVID bill.
A lifelong railroad aficionado, 74-year-old retiree Tony Benz has volunteered for nearly two decades helping passengers at the Amtrak station in the St. Louis suburb of Kirkwood, Mo.

He believes the federal government has a role in funding infrastructure, and outside the station last week, Benz listed reasons the government should subsidize train travel....

[But] to Benz — a self-identified Republican-leaning independent who voted for President Donald Trump — the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill that Biden signed into law last month, delivering $1,400 stimulus checks to Benz and tens of millions of other Americans, was simply “overexorbitant.”

“They need to look at who these people are, who gets it and who shouldn’t get it, and refine it,” he said....

The owner of a Mexican restaurant in Chesterfield, a St. Louis suburb of more than 45,000, Roseann Espino, 57, benefited from a Paycheck Protection Program loan earlier this year — a program created under the bipartisan Cares Act and renewed multiple times since. But she said she received no other government assistance and viewed the Democratic follow-up to Cares, the American Rescue Plan, as a waste.

“What do we need $1.9 trillion for? To buy more masks for people? I mean what are we doing?” she said, backing local GOP Rep. Ann Wagner’s decision to oppose the bill.
They firmly believe that unemployment benefits make people less inclined to work.
Like other conservative business owners interviewed last week, [Espino] believed the generous unemployment benefits had hurt the recovery by making labor scarce — workers were better off cashing more-generous unemployment checks than taking paying jobs. She said one of her suppliers delivered food recently because so many of its drivers had called out after receiving stimulus checks....

“There is no hotel or restaurant in Charleston County not looking for people,” said Hank Holliday, who presided over a hospitality empire until selling most of his Charleston holdings in December. “Chefs, owners and managers can’t even get people to show up for interviews. They’ll respond to a want ad, but then don’t even show up. Why? They want to put on their unemployment application that they tried to get a job at Peninsula Grill. I’ve seen signs in windows downtown: ‘Due to stimulus checks and bonus unemployment, we are understaffed. Please bear with us if service is slow.’”
The COVID bill didn't raise taxes on the rich, so Republican officeholders didn't have a principled objection to it. (The infrastructure bill does raise taxes on the wealthy, so Republicans seem to be fighting it much harder.) But Republicans worked their talking points on the stimulus bill into the debate, knowing that once the bill passed they'd simply continue to make those arguments. They didn't care whether they changed the bill. All they cared about was influencing the narrative. They think they have the narrative where they want it.

Sure, the polls show that the COVID bill was popular -- but it's less popular among Republicans, and the campaign to discredit it is ongoing. Most House Republicans don't need to worry about winning non-Republican votes, and most Senate Republicans are in red states, or in states where they can use sky-is-falling rhetoric and a bit of Democratic vote suppression to eke out a win. So the GOP just needs to turn its base against the stimulus, and against future Biden bills, and then it doesn't matter what the rest of us think.

With regard to these Democratic bills, Republicans don't care if the outcome is good, as long as the narrative, at least in their bubble, seems bad.

Sunday, April 04, 2021


Tomi Lahren, a Fox News commentator who's now a host at the streaming service Fox Nation, tweeted the following last night:

There are a couple of reasons why this is obvioudly nonsense. First, no vaccine is approved by U.S. authorities for children. Second, even if there were a sinister plan to prioritize the vaccination of "illegal kids" before American adults, why wouldn't the perpetrators simply ship the vaccine to the kids instead of the other way around?

But right-wingers love stories about mystery vehicles doing sinister things on behalf of their evil enemies. Years ago, many of the rumors involved voter registration and voting. True the Vote, a Texas-based, Tea Party-affiliated organization that complained loudly during the Obama years about mistreatment from the IRS, and recently was sued by a wealthy donor because he felt he didn't get any return for the $2.5 million he donated to the group in the hopes of backing Donald Trump's election challenge, used to tell many stories about buses full of election fraudsters, as The New York Times noted, with great skepticism, in 2012:
It might as well be Harry Potter’s invisible Knight Bus, because no one can prove it exists.

The bus has been repeatedly cited by True the Vote, a national group focused on voter fraud. Catherine Engelbrecht, the group’s leader, told a gathering in July about buses carrying dozens of voters showing up at polling places during the recent Wisconsin recall election.

“Magically, all of them needed to register and vote at the same time,” Ms. Engelbrecht said. “Do you think maybe they registered falsely under false pretenses? Probably so.”

Weeks later, another True the Vote representative told a meeting of conservative women about a bus seen at a San Diego polling place in 2010 offloading people “who did not appear to be from this country.”

Officials in both San Diego and Wisconsin said they had no evidence that the buses were real. “It’s so stealthy that no one is ever able to get a picture and no one is able to get a license plate,” said Reid Magney, a spokesman for the Wisconsin agency that oversees elections. In some versions the bus is from an Indian reservation; in others it is full of voters from Chicago or Detroit. “Pick your minority group,” he said.
A few months before that Times story appeared, an earlier version of Fox Nation -- a Free Republic-style message board overseen by Fox News -- reported on a phantom bus said to be ferrying voters from Michigan to Wisconsin to vote for the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in the Wisconsin recall election, which then-governor Scott Walker survived.
On WMAL’s The Chris Plante Show today a Michigan resident by the name of "Mike" called in to discuss how he had infiltrated a Michigan Union's organized bus convoy, en-route to vote in the Wisconsin recall election for Democrats.

The caller claimed that Michigan’s “Democrat Unions” had organized a convoy of 4 buses, filled with Michigan Democrats, with the intention of voting for Tom Barrett in the Wisconsin recall election.

Caller “Mike” describes “Greyhound size buses, filled to capacity” with a good amount of “freebies” available, “They treated me to lunch!”
It's not clear why "Mike" -- allegedly riding on a bus from Michigan to Wisconsin -- called in to a right-wing radio show based in Washington, D.C. (the caller's explanation: "I drive [a] tractor trailer and I know your number. I'm always in DC, Virginia..."). "Mike" claimed that he, personally, wasn't going to vote for the Democrat -- though he was planning to vote illegally in a state where he didn't live.

You're on a bus full of people going from Michigan to Wisconsin and you believe that most of the people on the bus..other than believe that ALL of the people other than yourself are going there to vote for Tom Barrett


Most of them are's a Democratic union..its actually a Democratic union organized by Democrats. But I'm not goin on there to vote for the Democrat. I'm going on there to vote for Scott Walker. Once I heard about it I- I was thinking, hey..this is an opportunity to sabotage what they always do to Republicans.
At the end of the call, Plante asked for "Mike's" number, but -- funny thing -- Mike never provided it. So this totally legitimate story couldn't be verified. What a shame!

This is one of the right's favorite narrative structures. I have no idea why.

Saturday, April 03, 2021


A few days ago, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene posted this on Twitter:

She was widely mocked for this. Vixen Strangely wrote:
Okay, I get where the Mark of the Beast thing is coming from, because the government-industrial-Big Tech Mammon is just about always trying to put bar codes or RFID chips or masks on people and from there it is just one stripper-ride pole to the Devil if you know what I mean, but the more I think about the words "corporate communism", the less I believe that there is anything going on in Marjorie Taylor Green's mind other than a game of "Mad Libs" where the rules are 1) Be mad at libs and 2) say words.
But Greene thinks she has a winner in "corporate communism." Here it is again this morning, in response to the news that Major League Baseball is moving its all-star game from Atlanta in response to the new Georgia vote-suppression law.

Dylan Ratigan, the onetime MSNBC host, tried to make "corporate communism" a catchphrase in the aftermath of the 2008 economic crash. He wrote an opinion piece for Business Insider in 2009 called "Corporate Communism Is Killing Us," then followed it up with a bestselling book titled Greedy Bastards: How We Can Stop Corporate Communists, Banksters, and Other Vampires from Sucking America Dry. In the opinion piece, he wrote:
Lately I have been using the phrase "Corporate Communism" on my television show. I think it is an especially fitting term when discussing the current landscape in both our banking and health care systems....

Lack of choice, lazy, unresponsive customer service, a culture of exploitation and a small powerbase formed by cronyism and nepotism are the hallmarks of a communist system that steals from its citizenry and a major reason why America spent half a century fighting a Cold War with the U.S.S.R.

And yet today we find ourselves as a country in two distinctly different categories: those who are forced to compete tooth and nail each day to provide value to society in return for income for ourselves and our families and those who would instead use our lawmaking apparatus to help themselves to our tax money and/or to protect themselves from true competition.
He's talking about the way big, mature industries use massive lobbying budgets to protect and enhance their profits, and to force their losses onto the rest of us. I wouldn't call that "communism" -- it's how big-money capitalism always works in the real world. On can catch glimpses in the real world of the theoretical capitalism in which companies compete perpetually and in an honorable fashion to provide the best goods and services at fair prices, but it inevitably breaks down once the cats reach a certain level of fatness.

In a January 2021 opinion piece, Chery Chumley of The Washington Times claimed to see "the corporate communism that’s coming to America" in a report from the World Economic Forum that called for a commitment to "stakeholder capitalism." Chumley wrote:
Stakeholder capitalism is the emerging beast....

It’s the kind of capitalism that says corporations shouldn’t be concerned simply with making a buck, but also serving as a “social organism” to society. Companies, in other words, should be motivated more by do-goodism than money.

It’s really the way the left gets its hands on Wall Street to drive forth policies, politics and agendas that don’t pass the smell test of Congress and the people. The Senate won’t ratify a U.N. climate change treaty? No worries; politicians will just pressure private businesses to “voluntarily” adopt clean energy standards and sustainable development practices instead. The end game is essentially the same. Congress won’t pass so-called common sense gun controls? No worries; new “great reset” standards will ensure private companies restrict firearms’ sales, and banks restrict funds to companies selling firearms, and businesses boot all gun-carriers from their businesses. Second Amendment, whoosh. Gone. The possibilities for control are endless.
But, of course, what Chumley is describing is not communism at all. What she's describing is the corporate world responding to social pressures from people who aren't right-wingers. To Chumley -- and to Marjorie Taylor Greene -- that's what "corporate communism" is.

Will Wilkinson published a very good Substack post this week about right-wing resistance to vaccine passports; in his post title, he refers to "the categorical impermissibility of inconveniencing Republicans." See also the bill recently passed by the Texas Senate that would make it a crime to ban Texans from large social media sites for any reason apart from connection to criminal activity or incitement to violence; as I read the law, Twitter and Facebook wouldn't even be allowed to deplatform a Texan for backing Nazism, as long as there was no call to violence.

But it's hard to see how Major League Baseball's move of the all-star game to another city even inconveniences most conservatives. It will take place outside Georgia and fans all over the country will watch it on TV, the same way they would have if it took place in Georgia.

So I think we're talking about the categorical impermissibility of merely upsetting Republicans. And that's what Marjorie Taylor Greene means by "corporate communism."

Friday, April 02, 2021


So this happened today:
A Capitol Police officer was killed Friday after a man rammed a car into two officers at a barricade outside the U.S. Capitol and then emerged wielding a knife....

Video shows the driver of the crashed car emerging with a knife in his hand and starting to run at the pair of officers, Capitol Police Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman told reporters. Authorities shot the suspect, who died at a hospital.

Two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that the suspect stabbed one of the officers....

Police identified the slain officer as William “Billy” Evans, an 18-year veteran who was a member of the department’s first responders unit.
We know who the assailant was. has a report on Green with quite a bit of information from Green's Facebook page, as well as screenshots. But you can't see the page now -- it's deleted.

Which some of our wingnut friends find very suspicious. Or at least they're pretending to be suspicious.

Of course Facebook deleted his page. The social media pages of mass shooters and similarly newsworthy criminals are invariably deleted shortly after their identies become public. Trust me, I know -- over the years, I've often tried to write posts based on the information in these social media feeds, and they invariably disappear too fast for me to find them. is my go-to site for such information, because Heavy always gets to the pages and feeds before they're taken down. But they're always taken down.

Gorka and Ngo know that. They also know that their fan base doesn't know that. They're concocting a conspiracy in which Facebook wants to suppress information about Green because ... well, you explain it, Ted.

Actrually, Ted, they disappear from the news because we have so many berserkers in America we've become numb. It's true that we lingered on the Atlanta shooter because we saw his crime as part of a wave of anti-Asian violence -- but then we forgot about him, because there was another mass shooting. And now this.

Will someone at Fox pick up on this "woke Facebook wants to suppress the news" nonsense? I assume Tucker Carlson will. But even if it stops here, it's bad. When you tell people this sort of thing, you make them less well informed. It's anti-news rather than news.


Say what you will about Steve Schmidt, the former Republican strategist and co-founder of the Lincoln Project, but he's right about Lindsey Graham.
The way to understand [Graham] is to look at what's consistent. And essentially what he is in American politics is what, in the aquatic world, would be a pilot fish: a smaller fish that hovers around a larger predator, like a shark, living off of its detritus. That's Lindsey. And when he swam around the McCain shark, broadly viewed as a virtuous and good shark, Lindsey took on the patina of virtue. But wherever the apex shark is, you find the Lindsey fish hovering about, and Trump is the newest shark in the sea. Lindsey has a real draw to power — but he's found it unattainable on his own merits.
I think of Graham as the Kato Kaelin of politics -- though maybe that's unfair to Kaelin, who wasn't really a habitual hanger-on. Graham seems lost without an alpha to follow. And now that John McCain is dead, and Donald Trump is not only out of the White House but mostly just lazing around Mar-a-Lago, what is Graham to do?

He seems to have a new alpha -- but it's not a man, or even a woman. It's a gun.

We saw him a few days ago telling Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday that he owns an AR-15 and no one better try to take it away from him, dammit. This seemed to be an isolated effort on Graham's part to do what Republicans always do after a mass shooting -- rush to defend the weapon. But the news cycle has moved on, President Biden and congressional Democrats don't seem eager to have another futile battle over firearms, and yet here was Graham yesterday.

He doesn't have to do this. He won another six years in the Senate last November.

But he seems to believe he needs protection out there in the mean old world -- and if he can't get it from a domineering individual like McCain or Trump, I guess he's hoping he'll get it collectively from the gun community.

It's sad. He's 65 years old. He's an important figure in American politics. But he's afraid to just be himself. He still wants to be protected.

Thursday, April 01, 2021


Well, this is awkward:
Rep. Matt Gaetz, the Florida Republican being investigated by the Justice Department over sex trafficking allegations, ... gained a reputation in Congress over his relationships with women and bragging about his sexual escapades to his colleagues, multiple sources told CNN.

Gaetz allegedly showed off to other lawmakers photos and videos of nude women he said he had slept with, the sources told CNN, including while on the House floor. The sources, including two people directly shown the material, said Gaetz displayed the images of women on his phone and talked about having sex with them. One of the videos showed a naked woman with a hula hoop, according to one source.

"It was a point of pride," one of the sources said of Gaetz.
What's the usual move when conservatives (and sometimes non-conservatives) get in trouble this way? They suddenly discover their love for Jesus in a very public way. How many more days or weeks can this scandal go on before Gaetz plays the God card?

It could be a struggle. Gaetz went on Fox News in January 2018 and said that the FBI's inability to find certain text messages between anti-Trump agents "would be the greatest coincidence since the Immaculate Conception." In a subsequent interview on CNN, Chris Cuomo challenged Gaetz's theology.
"Where is the analogy, that's what I don't understand. What do you think happened with the Immaculate Conception?" asks Cuomo.

"Look," responds Gaetz, "did you really bring me on to discuss my religious views?" says Gaetz. "I’m a Christian. I believe that the Immaculate Conception was how Jesus was born."

Cuomo, visibly annoyed, argues back, "It was Mary's conception. It was the mother's conception without original sin. It was not the conception of Jesus. Facts matter, Congressman. If you're going to make an analogy, at least know what you're talking about."

But that probably won't stop him. He knows how to invoke right-wing Christianity -- back when he was a member of the Florida state legislature, he asserted that gun rights are "granted not by government but by God." And he gave the right answers on an American Family Association questionnaire in 2016.
America is unique because we know our rights come from God

Q: What in the nature of mankind caused America's Founders to carefully define, separate, and limit powers in the Constitution?

Gaetz: America is unique in the world because we acknowledge that our rights come from God, not government. Our Founders created the greatest system of government the world has ever seen. They recognized men are flawed--greed, self-interest, and desire for control--showed the Founders the need for a Constitution that created a system of limited government to protect the rights of all citizens and restrict the powers of the federal government.

... Bible is instructions from God; we are to follow faithfully

Q: Briefly describe your spiritual beliefs and values.

Gaetz: My father is a Lutheran, my mother is Methodist. While I've attended church with both throughout my life, I was saved in a Baptist Church during my teenage years. I am a member of First Baptist Church in Fort Walton Beach. The Bible, the Gospel--these are our instructions from God. We are to follow faithfully.

... Supports Judeo-Christian framework of morality.

Gaetz supports the AFA survey question on religious morality

The American Family Association Action Voter Guide asked if candidates agree or disagree with the statement, 'Judeo-Christian values established a framework of morality which permitted our system of limited government.'

... Supports religious liberty and sees it at risk.

Gaetz supports the AFA survey question on religious liberty

The American Family Association Action Voter Guide asked if candidates agree or disagree with the statement, 'Religious liberty is at risk in the United States.'
This is all right-wing boilerplate -- it's easy to fake this. But he probably won't have to do much more than this if he decides to declare himself a man who once was lost and now is found. Hell, if Milo Yiannopoulos can do it, why not Gaetz?


It's easy to mock this assertion from full-time 2024 presidential candidate and part-time South Carolina Dakota governor Kristi Noem:

NOEM: I was on a call with the White House today with all the governors talking about the specifics of this package, and I was shocked by how much doesn't go into infrastructure. It goes into research and development, it goes into housing and pipes and different initiatives, green energy, and it really is not an honest conversation we're having.
Housing! Pipes! That's totally not infrastructure!

But let's not mock Governor Noem for this -- it's not just her talking point. It's clearly the focus-grouped right-wing talking point on the bill. Here's what the man Noem was speaking to, Sean Hannity, had to say:
In fact, out of the roughly $2.3 trillion in new spending, only $650 billion is allocated for roads and bridges and general infrastructure. $80 billion -- that’s marked as a handout to Amtrak. The rest of the $2.3 trillion – that is dedicated to retrofitting millions of homes and hospitals and other buildings in an environmentally conscious way and other funds would go toward building new "green" schools.
Here's Newsmax:
President Joe Biden's $2.25 trillion infrastructure bill, set to be unveiled Wednesday, will have allocations for much more than, well, for infrastructure projects, according to details of the plan cited in The Washington Post on Tuesday.

The plan -- according to sources familiar with the details who spoke to the Post -- provides only $650 billion for roads, bridges, highways, and ports.

Also in the plan, the sources said: $400 billion for home care for the elderly and the disabled, $300 billion for housing, $300 billion to revive U.S. manufacturing, and $400 billion in clean-energy credits.

Hundreds of billions of dollars have been set aside to boost America's electric grid and nationwide high-speed broadband, and to work on water systems to make sure people have clean drinking water, the sources said.
A site called Trending Politics also enumerates items in the bill that it says aren't infrastructure-related, among which is
— $80 billion to address Amtrak’s repair backlog; modernize the high traffic Northeast Corridor; improve existing corridors and connect new city pairs....
— $213 billion to produce, preserve, and retrofit more than two million affordable and sustainable places to live (and we know who will and who won’t ‘qualify’ for these homes, don’t we?)
That's saying the quiet part out loud, with a bullhorn.

Breitbart just throws up its hands, calls the legislation "Joe Biden’s $2.5 Trillion ‘Infrastructure’ Bill," with "infrastructure" in scare quotes, then lists "some of the top 45 spending proposals," including
5. $111 billion to replace 100 percent of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines.

6. $100 billion to upgrade and build new public schools

7. $100 billion to build high-speed broadband infrastructure to reach 100 percent coverage.

8. $100 billion to build a more resilient electric transmission system.

9. $85 billion to modernize existing transit and help agencies expand their systems to meet rider demand.

10. $80 billion to address Amtrak’s repair backlog; modernize the high traffic Northeast Corridor; improve existing corridors and connect new city pairs.
-- all of which seem to me like infrastructure, rather than "infrastructure" in scare quotes, but experts disagree, I guess.

So yes, this is their argument: School buildings and rail lines and power lines and water pipes aren't infrastructure. I'm shocked -- the right is usually much better at this.