Friday, December 31, 2021


Florida governor Ron DeSantis has disappeared from public view, and there's been a great deal of speculation about why.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has been missing in action as Covid cases in the state have spiked to new heights, Florida Democratic officials charge.

"Counties are overwhelmed w/ lines that stretch for miles," state Sen. Shevrin Jones, a Democrat, tweeted Thursday. "It's every man/woman for themselves, because leadership is MIA," he added.

DeSantis, a Republican and outspoken opponent of vaccine and mask mandates, last held a Covid press briefing on Dec. 17. Covid cases have reached new highs in Florida since then....

In a press conference Tuesday, Mayor Jerry Demings of Orange County, a Democrat, called on the governor to step up his response efforts because the omicron surge has resulted in people waiting in line as long as five hours to get tested.

"We have not received any assistance from the state of Florida at our testing sites," Demings said. "Local governments have been left to figure it out and respond on our own. We are doing our best."
The governor's press office released a photo of DeSantis at a bagel shop, but it was two weeks old.

Some speculated that DeSantis was ill, possibly with COVID, or having an affair, like South Carolina governor Mark Sanford in 2009. I had my own theory:

In response to the speculation, his press secretary tweeted this yesterday:

And now we have a fuller response, at Fox News, DeSantis's favorite media outlet:
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis accompanied his wife to her cancer treatment while critics were accusing the governor of taking a vacation as coronavirus cases spiked, Fox News has learned.

A DeSantis spokesperson said the governor accompanied wife Casey to cancer treatment Dec. 29, the day several left-wing critics accused the governor of "missing."

DeSantis' announced in October that his wife had been diagnosed with breast cancer, telling Fox News at the time that as "the mother of three young children, Casey is the centerpiece of our family and has made an impact on the lives of countless Floridians through her initiatives as first lady."
So if that's the case, why didn't the governor's office simply say so before he disappeared from public view? Our politics may be more smashmouth than civilized, but if DeSantis or his press secretary had simply said this days ago, the governor's critics would have cut him some slack.

But that's now how Republicans operate. They see every waking moment as an opportunity to gain partisan advantage, and they think their opponents approach politics exactly the same way. I think DeSantis didn't announce this because he believes he can never let his guard down, never expose himself in public as a person, someone whose life might have troubles and difficulties. IVn a Trump-like way, he believes he can never be vulnerable. He hired his press secretary not because she can do the old-fashioned job of keeping the public informed about what he and his administration are doing in a straightforward way, but because she's a partisan attack dog. For DeSantis, politics is total war. And this Fox story is clearly intended to shame his critics.

Now it's being reported that DeSantis will make a public appearance tonight at the Orange Bowl. The moment will pass. But it didn't have to become a partisan fight. If the simple explanation is that DeSantis is a person who just wanted to be with a sick wife and their kids, he could have just said so.


The lead story at Breitbart right now is a fairly straightforward report on the Colorado wildfires.
Wildfires have torn their way through Colorado over the past 48-hours leaving tens of thousands of people homeless, countless properties destroyed and a state of emergency declared late Thursday night.

AP reports at least one first responder and six others were injured, though Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle acknowledged there could be more injuries and deaths could be possible due to the intensity of fires that quickly swept across the region as winds gusted up to 105 mph.

... a state of emergency has been declared by Governor Jared Polis.

... According to the Colorado Sun, the region has experienced a historically dry season, leaving grass, shrubs and trees parched.

The season’s first significant snow — typically seen months earlier — is forecast for Friday and Saturday. Officials expressed hope that the weather would be more favorable for firefighters Friday.
Is it the result of climate change? Is it just a normal hundred-year event? Why is it happening?

It appears that the fires were the result of downed power lines, unusually strong winds, and burning grass (not forest land -- this didn't happen in the forest). But the Breitbart commenters know the real cause: liberalism!
California democrats flee to Colorado and bring their voting habits with them. Colorado burns. Cause and effect of bad forest management practices implemented by outsiders that already destroyed their own habitat.


Colorado was one of the most Conservative states until the Lefties from California wrecked it as you pointed out. Great scenery and skiing that helped fuel a thriving tourist industry in the state for years. But, like the tourist industries in states that Liberals invaded. Colorado's is destroyed.


Boulder is full of liberals, that's for sure, imported for the most part. Colorado used to be a beautiful state, picturesque city of Denver, quaint, years ago, always had been Republican...then the Socialists got into power, now we have our homosexual governor, our black mayor, our black police chief, or more than one, city government run amuck with liberal idiotic plans about what should be 'legal' and who should be jailed, and many are not, homeless camps all over the city, dirty streets, much like what SF has become, I miss the Republican run, upstanding, clean and beautiful city and state.

Never let anyone tell you that Socialist-Democrat run cities aren't dirty and foul, for they ALL are, it's what they call 'progressivism', meaning 'do what you want, we won't care or punish you for it'. Trash in the streets, thrown from cars, no policing on most streets, graffiti on buildings, roads, bridges,signs, just looks like a nasty place to be, and is.


The Native Americans did controlled burns of the grasslands and the settlers learned the practice from them. Then the liberals dropped the practice down the memory hole when they took power.


How stupid. Are you saying Californians brought 100 mile winds with them? Maybe Californians are responsible for tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, & earthquakes as well.


I'll help you. Calcommies don't clean their forest. They brought their foolishness to Colorado. Now go take your nap.


never seen fires this time of year in Colorado , antifa show up there ?


notice not one mention of who set these deliberate fires nor of any investigation. Maybe the gov's husband can head this up,


His husband is busy serving tea and crumpets to the homeless drug addicts.


"Gusts of over 100 mph" per the quote from the leader on the ground. You get that with big fires. It's how we destroyed Hamburg and Tokyo in WWII.

What the commie-dem transpants did was pass the same type of damned laws they passed in California to prevent "destruction of the pristine natural environment" by making it harder or impossible to clear away fuel for fires (i.e., underbrush and dead growth).

California, Colorado, and Australia are all examples of this mindlessness.


Every morning here in Colorado they start dumping their chemicals in the sky and continue through dark. The chemical nucleation has caused a severe drought for 9 months, no rain or snow, as they poison the air, land and all vegetation. They have created the climate change they scream about, but they'll demand carbon taxes from us and shut off all meats, fuel and energy saying we did this, and those cow farts you know


The NWO deep state has done more evil than we know.


.... plus BLM!


They hate God


Satan is their leader.


It started long before Polis, it was every Socialist-Dem, don't ever forget Hickenlooper, a bar owner, whose own wife wouldn't take his last name when he was married, now a Senator I believe, a worthless liberal moron.

Denver has a beautiful, large downtown park, Civic Center park, in front of the capitol building, it was overrun with the homeless, as are the libraries in Winter time, where they go to get warm and sleep, take over the computers, sit there and sleep...and Stink, for they don't bathe or wash their hands or change their clothing, just smell. And what do liberals in city government decide, 'it's their library also, they can be there as long as they desire' they line up in the morning to spend the day inside...


Shouldn’t they be euthanized?


When I lived in Boulder County during the nineties, it didn't feel like a suburb of Denver. Nowadays, the I-36 corridor has been developed to death. When you see the ocean of cheaply made houses built for upper middle class communists who escaped their blue states only to bring their destructive ideology with them to Colorado, it makes you wish a real fire would come and clean the slate.


It is clearing the dead undergrowth of failed impossible ideas brought by truly ignorant awful people! The same thing is happening in Utah, and wherever the slime of liberalism spreads. Those who bring liberalism to a place bring death and destruction. They get what they deserve. Sadly, innocent people already there get it too.


UpState NY is infested with Citidiots, mostly from Brooklyn.
Same problem...
The answer is obvious: Liberals shouldn't exist. We destroy everything we touch. We show up and everything goes to shit. We shouldn't be allowed out of our big coastal cities. We should probably all be exterminated. That's what these people believe.

Thursday, December 30, 2021


A news story at from August:
At the height of demand for merchandise supporting former President Donald Trump, Keith Lambert had 22 New England for Trump stores in four different states.

However that number has dwindled considerably since that time, he said, and he’s now considering a rebranding.

The Somerset store is set to close this weekend, and after it shutters its doors, Lambert will only have three left – one each in Easton, Bellingham, and Warwick, Rhode Island.

In the past, Lambert was running stores across Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. He also branched out into New York, where his stores conveniently took the name “New York for Trump.”

There’s been a variety of reasons why the stores have gone out of business, he said.

“It definitely slowed down after the election,” Lambert said.
And now a Fox Business story published today:
Business is booming for a Let’s Go Brandon store chain selling anti-President Biden merchandise across New England.

Owner Keith Lambert told FOX Business he plans to expand his business into Salisbury and Cape Cod, Massachusetts – increasing his locations from eight to 10 to keep up with the demand during the Biden presidency....

Lambert’s stores ... were named New England for Trump, but he decided to cash in on the craze and by early November he had rebranded one of them as a Let’s Go Brandon store in Hanson, Massachusetts. It was so successful that he opened a new Let’s Go Brandon location in North Attleboro, also in Massachusetts, and rebranded the rest of his stores as Let’s Go Brandon as well.

Lambert has other locations in Bellingham, East Bridgewater, Easton, Somerset, and Warwick, Rhode Island, and a pop-up store that opens when the weather permits.
I've been skeptical whenever very smart pundits have argued that Donald Trump is gradually fading from the scene -- the most recent Reuters/Ipsos poll has Trump crushing a field of potential GOP candidates, like every other poll taken this year:

But while Trump might still be Republicans' preferred presidential candidate, he's clearly no longer their biggest source of fun. They've now found a way to obnoxiously own the libs that doesn't refer to him in any way. They get to be Trump now all by themselves!

They'll still need a presidential candidate in 2024, and he remains the strong favorite, but they no longer appear to need him as a tummler....

They can amuse themselves now, in their preferred anti-social way. They don't need Trump for that anymore.


Gateway Pundit publishes some of the worst anti-science propaganda anywhere on the Internet. If you're looking for reasons not to get vaccinated, GP is a one-stop shop:

So I was surprised to see that GP's Jim Hoft posted this yesterday:
Finally, A Promising Covid Vaccine for Pro-Lifers
But ... but ... I thought there was no such thing as a promising COVID vaccine!
Guest post by Bill Hennessey on Substack.

Novavax is proving more effective than Moderna, J&J, or Pfizer with less reliance on aborted cells and no gene therapy....

Novavax was not developed using body parts of aborted babies. (Though, like all other vaccines currently available, Novavax is tainted with tests that involve fetal cells.) Plus, it’s 90 percent effective against all strains of SARS-COV-2 including omicron and delta. Further, it’s an actual vaccine that uses a weakened form of the virus, so it’s likely much safer than the genetic mutation serums from Moderna, Pfizer, and Astra-Zeneca. And, unlike all other available serums, Novavax reduces viral replication, reducing the spread of the virus.
There's alarmist nonsense here about the existing vaccines ("genetic mutation serums"), and the usual downplaying of those vaccines' safety and efficacy. But the message about "aborted babies" really might resonate with some vaccine refusers. Some refusers believe that the vaccines themselves contain parts from aborted fetuses (they don't, although cells cultured from decades-old fetuses are used in vaccine development, a fact that hasn't prevented the Vatican from endorsing vaccines in general and COVID vaccines in particular). If the use of fetal cells alone is preventing some refusers from getting vaccinated, and if influencers in the right-wing media ecosystem are saying that the Novavax vaccine is morally acceptable to this subset of objectors, then maybe some of them will get vaxxed in 2022. I'm all for that.

I'm skeptical of the claims made for Novavax's superior efficacy -- but if Novavax is safe and effective, and if the right-wing press uses its propaganda skills to praise the Novavax vaccine as vigorously as it slanders the other vaccines, then maybe we'll finally have what we've sometimes joked that we need: a vaccine right-wingers will take because it's "their" vaccine and not "our" vaccine.

The Novavax vaccine has just been approved for use by the European Union and India. In America, however, Novavax won't apply for authorization until sometime next year, reportedly because it's had manufacturing difficulties.

I'm ready for it. If it's a good vaccine and they think they're owning the libs or honoring God by going with Novavax, then bring on the jabs.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021


Right-wingers tell themselves many stories, but most of them have the same structure: All-powerful forces are in a conspiracy against them, but somehow, through pluck and luck (and guns, and prayer, and listening to a lot of Steve Bannon and Dan Bongino podcasts while buying lots of MyPillow and Let's Go Brandon merchandise), they manage to defeat the all-powerful forces, who turn out not to be as all-powerful as they seemed. This is the narrative of QAnon (the richest and most influential people in the world run a massive global child sex and murder ring, but heroic Donald Trump will one day bust it up, with help of his secret sidekick, JFK Jr.). It's also the "steal"/"voter fraud" narrative (Democrats cheat their way to victory in every election, unless they're prevented from doing so by heroic Donald Trump in 2016, or, in the future, by true patriots using audits, in the Trump version, or by extremely strict ID laws plus voter-roll purges and precinct closures, in the more traditional GOP version).

This master narrative tells conservatives that they're incessantly under siege, but also that they're giant-slaying heroes. It's no surprise that the narrative is popular. There's nothing like it on our side.

I see the narrative in this New York Post pandemic opinion piece by Steve Cuozzo, which isn't as denialist as most of what the right produces on the subject of COVID, but is skeptical of public health measures.
Defiant Gothamites show COVID panic’s days may finally be numbered

Just when you thought the pandemic could hold no more surprises, the Omicron grinch has brought America something new for the holidays: the festive panic.

In New York City especially, the number of people, and energy level, in stores and restaurants and on the streets is remarkable given our supposed death rattle. It isn’t that people aren’t afraid. Of course they are. But they’re not as afraid as they were a year ago.

Count me, triple-vaccinated, among the brave: I’ve been out and around town, repeatedly testing negative — but tested again as I write this after learning a relative at a Christmas gathering had tested positive.

Sure, nervous corporate suits scrapped live audiences for “Saturday Night Live.” Broadway theaters and other performance venues closed for nights at a time due to a single company member having asymptomatic COVID.

But Apple’s reversal is a better barometer of the mood on the street. After announcing the total closure of all its city stores earlier this week, the company partly backtracked Tuesday and said it was reopening them to a reduced number of customers.

Apple learned the hard way from a torrent of Twitter howling (e.g., “You are destroying this city!!!!!!”). So should others take the cue. For all the warped coronavirus “science” on which no two scientists agree, most people are voting with their appetites, their wallets and their wanderlust.

They’re defiant in the face of nerve-grating pronouncements and warnings from the Fauci/New York Times/CNN virus-forever complex.
Cuozzo goes on to tell us that everyone's still flying! Everyone's still going to restaurants! Plucky New Yorkers are defeating the seemingly omnipotent "Fauci/New York Times/CNN virus-forever complex."

Of course, the seemingly omnipotent Fauci/Times/non-Murdoch media can't even persuade 40% of America to get even one shot -- and Democrats in Congress are struggling to pass the party's agenda, while the party has also lost a number of winnable elections in 2020 and 2021. But believe that we're unstoppable supervillains makes right-wingers feel both aggrieved and empowered. So they keep telling themselves the same story.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021


While I was away, Shadi Hamid (Brookings Institution foreign policy guy, Atlantic pundit) got up a lot of people's noses, including mine, with a tendentious Twitter thread about the pandemic:

If only Hamid had mentioned "virtue signaling," he'd have a perfect score in Liberal-Bashing-Liberal Mad Libs, COVID Version. A Murc's Law suggestion that liberals are solely responsible for right-wing vaccine opposition? Check. Accusations of totalitarianism ("a way to stifle debate and enforce authority")? Check. A charge that we want "endless restrictions"? Check.

It's the last one that's most infuriating. Who the hell wants this life to go on forever? Hamid, responding to criticism, says we really do. Here's his evidence:

The smoking-gun tweet he quotes:

It's only in America, a country that takes a perverse pride in its shitty infrastructure, that improved ventilation in public places could be construed as a resriction. A large percentage of Americans have decided that protecting oneself from severe illness via vaccination is a restriction, too.

Mask mandates are a restriction. I'll concede that. But Herlihy and Hamid share a lack of perspective on where we are.

Yes, it seems clear that COVID will be endemic -- we won't get rid of it. But we haven't yet thrown everything we have to throw at the virus. With regard to prescription antivirals, we are at the end of 2021 about where we were with regard to vaccines at the end of 2020 -- actually, we're not even that far along, because as of one year ago we'd approved two very good vaccines and given more than two million shots, whereas now we have one promising antiviral and one not-so-great one approved but not yet in use.

We don't know how these and future treatments, in combination with vaccines, will change the course of this pandemic -- but it's not unreasonable to hope for a time fairly soon when death, severe illness, and even long COVID are made rare by the medical tools we have, at least for those with access with good healthcare. I'm old enough to remember when HIV was a death sentence, but we have ways to tame it now, even without a vaccine. COVID is far less deadly than HIV. At some point, maybe sooner than we think, we might tame it as well.

It could take some of us a while to believe that we can stop living in fear of the virus, but if we've made really bad outcomes infrequent, we can move on with our lives. I want that. I think other cautious people want that as well. Some people might want to keep wearing masks as a way of avoiding flus and colds as well as COVID, and boosters might be an ongoing precaution, but I don't really believe anyone wants this way of life to go on forever.

But self-righteousness is a hell of a drug, as is the desire to bash liberals (everyone hates liberals), so the Shadi Hamids of the world will continue to impute totalitarian motivations to us, when all we want is not to die, not to spend the rest of our lives waylaid by illness, and not to see hundreds of thousands of our fellow human beings brought low by this virus.


Hi, I'm back. A round of applause for Yastreblyansky -- so many great posts while I was away.

I see that Eric Levitz of New York magazine is, for good reason, lamenting the broad-based popularity of John Roberts:
Earlier this month, Gallup gauged American sentiment toward 11 of the nation’s most prominent public figures. Only one boasted majority support from both Democrats and Republicans, and he happens to be the most effective conservative politician of the modern era.

During his tenure on the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts has voted to gut the Voting Rights Act, ban limitations on corporate political spending, effectively legalize most forms of political bribery, rewrite the Affordable Care Act in a manner that cost millions of Americans access to Medicaid, restrict the capacity of consumers and workers to sue corporations that abuse them, nullify state-level school-desegregation efforts, sanction partisan gerrymandering, and carve gaping loopholes into Roe v. Wade.

And Roberts nevertheless retains the approval of 55 percent of Democratic voters (along with 57 percent of Republican voters) in Gallup’s new poll. No other official in the survey — not Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, either party’s congressional leadership, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, or Dr. Anthony Fauci — claimed majority support in both blue and red America.
But we probably shouldn't be surprised -- after all, the three most popular governors in America in their respective states, according to a November poll from Morning Consult, are blue-state Republicans -- Phil Scott of Vermont (79% approval), Charlie Baker of Massachusetts (72%), and Larry Hogan of Maryland (70%), with Republican Chris Sununu of blue-tinged New Hampshire in the #4 spot (67%). It appears that Democratic voters, for better or worse, are quite tolerant of opposite-party members who seem even modestly committed to compromise.

Which contradicts the message of another recent survey that got a lot more attention than this one:

The supposedly intolerant group of Democrats was a subset of a subset of the Democratic electorate -- young Democrats only, and only the ones in college. I think they have good reasons for their contempt -- but even if you don't, you should realize that this contempt is not shared by the majority of Democrats. Just the opposite, in fact.

Look at the Gallup numbers:

Mitch McConnell has higher approval ratings among Democrats than Anthony Fauci does among Republicans. Mitch McConnell! And Democratic approval of Kevin McCarthy is almost four times the GOP's approval of Nancy Pelosi.

I wish Democrats were more intolerant of Republicans, especially Republicans like Roberts, McConnell, and McCarthy. But if you value tolerance above all else and you landed on the fainting couch when that Axios poll was released, just remember that it provided a distorted picture of Democrats overall -- and maybe you should be a bit more concerned about how much Republicans hate Fauci, Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and Kamala Harris (not to mention Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and every other prominent Democrat not named Sinema, Manchin, or Gabbard).

Monday, December 27, 2021

For the Record: God Rest You Merry

Ecumenical Holiday Ugly Sweater via Zazzle, $31.05

Just in case it's not totally clear what Ted is attempting to do here, it's to vilify Kwanzaa without sounding like My Little Margie here:

It's what you might call "blackwashing" his racist opinion of the holiday by finding an apparently innocent Black lady who believes her religion obliges her to oppose Kwanzaa: "An authentic African agrees with me!" 

Obianuju Ekeocha is innocent enough to not know that what Kwanzaa interferes with, if anything, is not Christianity but Britishness—it gets in the way of Boxing Day—but not entirely innocent, as that foolish lie about her "village" shows. She has claimed to be a trained hematologist working at "Canterbury Hospital, South-East London", though she's not on the haematology staff of Kent and Canterbury Hospital southeast of London, and the hospital's Haematology and Blood Laboratory Service, where she may work, doesn't list staff and isn't a research department, and I can only find her name on one research publication, from 2008, when she was working at University Hospital Lewisham, which is in southeast London, "SUBTROCHANTERIC FRACTURE FOLLOWING SCREW FIXATION OF AN INTRCAPSULAR NECK OF FEMUR FRACTURE: TECHNICAL ERROR OR FAILING BONE HEALTH?"

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Swift and Certain

Every year around this time I run a photo representing one of the many meanings of the Italian word batocchio in honor of the host of the Jon Swift Memorial Blog Roundup, and this one is the best ever, a kind of deep-fried pizza from the restaurant Isabella de Cham in Naples (the batocchio Nonno Peppe, in this case, named for somebody's Grandpa Joe, apparently no longer on the menu; there's a batocchio Donna Isabella that comes with arugula, provola and caciocavallo cheeses. lemon zest, pepper, and basil). Oh, and the annual Jon Swift Memorial collection of the year's favorite blogposts, as chosen by the bloggers ourselves, is up tonight. Happy reading!

 Cross-posted at The Rectification of Names

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Last Christmas I Gave You My Heart

Remember the political situation this time last year? I seem to have been predicting that the soon-to-be Former Guy wouldn't be endorsing vaccines by way of claiming credit for inventing them, but would mainly be hanging out at Mar-a-Lago pretending he was still president. I missed the coup in Washington, and he did ultimately go pro-vaccine a year later, but I feel there was something not exactly wrong there. Anyway happy birthday Sol Invictus, I'm running it again


'Twas the day before Christmas
And all through the House
All the Members had gathered
To schmooze and carouse;

The president's bluff
On the stimulus bill
Had been called and dismissed,
To the joy of the Hill,

With a pair of amendments,
Just one for each side,
To which, by agreement,
A vote was denied.

"Give us two thousand bucks!"
Representative Hoyer
Had exclaimed as Republicans
Filed through the foyer.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Conservatives in Caves


Hey, gang,

You're familiar with me as the guy on speedballs and helium who can rant on the day's Murdoch talking point for eight minutes without taking a breath, displaying astonishing erudition and common sense as I disembowel the liberal line, and I know how much you treasure that experience, because you're an essential part of what has made my enterprise and my self the incredible successes we are today. And I am one hundred percent that guy, but I'm so much more. For example, I like to just hang out shooting the shit with my Intellectual Dark Buds in the den. In my new series, Conservatives in Caves Having Coffee, we'll be setting up the camera in my basement and you'll get to be a fly on the wallpaper as I share some of my most intimate thoughts with friends like Dr. Jordan Peterson in his suit and sweater vest. 

Instead of the harsh light and monochrome background for my talking head, we'll have a softer and more relaxed set, though with masculine furnishings like the classic wire wheel coffee table, and I'll be in lighter makeup. Jordan doesn't drink coffee, but maybe I can talk him into a cup of bone broth, and even if he's not drinking anything, it'll be a thrill for you to hear us chat about the masculinity crisis and stuff like that. Stresses of modern marriage. How to raise your kids with the moral backbone they'll need to survive the coming radical left gay trans socialist takeover of our country.

And speaking of child-rearing, you'll be crazy about Badminton? Goodminton!, my new show where I lead my kids and their friends in backyard net games like badminton and volleyball, filmed in natural outdoor light, and you'll get to see me in shorts and sneakers engaging with some of the most precious people in my life. You'll get a sense of what it would be like to have me as a fun but firm father, enforcing the rules but leaving time for hearty laughter. And every once in a while I'll throw a stick at the camera and you can pretend you're the dog.

And then for evenings we'll be streaming My Date With Ben, a series where I go out with my wife, Dr. Shapiro, for some wholesome entertainment. You'll be sharing our table at the tango club as we nurse our glasses of Malbec and joining us on the dance floor trying out some fancy moves, or giggling with us at the bowling alley as I score strike after strike. Or some nights simply behind our heads, perhaps, when we're on the couch relaxing with some Netflix. You'll be wondering if you could make me as happy as Dr. Shapiro does, holding hands and enjoying some fresh-popped popcorn, repeating our favorite lines from whatever the film happens to be. I love her a lot, obviously, but I do love you too. Facts may not care about your feelings, but I do, and I always will.

Cross-posted at The Rectification of Names

Literary Corner: Praying Away the Cray


AP Photo/Butch Dill, via AP News.

On the John Lewis Voting Rights Act

by Herschel Walker of Texas, Georgia senatorial candidate.

You know what's sad about that —
to use the name of a great man
to brand something that is so bad,
I think it is terrible to do.
Senator Lewis was one of the
greatest senators that's ever been
and for African Americans that
was absolutely incredible. To throw his name
on a bill for voting rights I think is a shame."

That gesture to bringing back rhyme, even just in the last couplet there, is a beautiful nod to tradition, even though, as far as tradition goes, the actual John Lewis, who was never a senator, was widely viewed during his lifetime as an advocate for voting rights who probably wouldn't object to the bill bearing his name at all. But why insult the man by reminding people of that? 

Also, not only does he have the coveted Trump endorsement, but he wears a soul patch.

Can't understand the spiteful critics harping on these finicky points, anyhow, at a time when Donald Trump, as opposed to John Lewis, is still alive. Trump makes "mistakes" like these (as we have long been chronicling here) in virtually every public appearance. True, Walker is in traditional terms seemingly somewhat disabled, what with the trouble he's faced over the occasional death threat against an ex-wife and other eccentric activities. symptoms of a regrettable case of dissociative identity disorder (DID):

A watershed moment, he writes, came in February 2001, when he drove around suburban Dallas, hunting for a man who he said was avoiding his calls after being days late delivering a car Walker had purchased.

“The logical side of me knew that what I was thinking of doing to this man — murdering him for messing up my schedule — wasn’t a viable alternative,” Walker wrote. “But another side of me was so angry that all I could think was how satisfying it would feel to step out of the car, pull out the gun, slip off the safety, and squeeze the trigger.”

Ultimately, Walker wrote, he had a change of heart after seeing a “SMILE. JESUS LOVES YOU” bumper sticker on the man’s car-hauling truck. He decided to seek professional help.

He's literally standing behind an effort to pray away the cray! 

How does that, or the possibility that a career of getting hit very hard in the head may have led to a case of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), make him any less worthy than Trump himself? 

Cross-posted at The Rectification of Names.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Stop Trying to Make Fear Happen


You know what they say about the 1960s,  "If you can remember it, you probably weren't there"? There's something like that going on about inflation in the 1970s, as in this column by Barron's retirement columnist, Neal Templin:

When I was a young reporter in the 1980s, my newspaper gave me raises twice a year for a while. I’d like to tell you I earned the salary boosts through extraordinary merit, but all the reporters got them.

The reason: The inflation rate was so high then that it was considered a hardship to go a full year between raises. Amazing, huh?

After decades of restrained prices, it’s hard to remember what it was like living in the inflationary environment of the 1970s and 1980s. Prices shot up for gasoline, groceries, housing, you name it.

The spike in energy prices was particularly painful. I was driving a 1970 full-size Ford that got less than 10 miles to the gallon in city driving. Filling up became a hardship.

Well, for one thing he should have been driving a smaller car. Then there's those twice-a-year raises. If you were getting a raise twice a year you weren't the one with a problem. What Templin is telling us is that he lived through it without ever finding out what it was. As Kevin Drum was noting a couple of years ago (see chart at top), it was very different for blue-collar workers:

Wages went up and down in the 70s, but by the end of the decade hourly wages were a dollar lower than they had been at the beginning. In 1979 wages began to plummet, not getting back to positive growth until 1982. The rest of the decade is something of a train wreck for blue-collar workers, with wages mostly declining throughout the entire Reagan/Bush administration and not finally going positive until the middle of Bill Clinton’s administration. In reality, real hourly wages declined from $21.08 at the start of the Reagan era to $19.61 at the end of the Bush administration. That’s a loss of about $3,000 per year, or close to $6,000 per year in today’s money. If you add in the ’70s, it’s even worse: blue-collar wages dropped from $22.42 to $21.94. That’s a loss of $1,000 per year, or a little over $3,000 in today’s money. Put all this together, and blue-collar workers lost the equivalent of $9,000 in modern dollars, which represented a 13 percent decline in blue-collar wages over the course of a couple of decades. The entire period of the ’70s and ’80s was a catastrophe for blue-collar workers.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Pettiness on Display



Image via

And it's back to no, according to yesterday's interview with West Virginia MetroNews Radio. Jennifer Psaki was just too mean.

Manchin said he would not say "the real reason" talks failed.

But when asked what that was, he said: "The bottom line is ... it's staff. It's staff purely. ... It's not the president. It's staff. And they drove some things and put some things out that were absolutely inexcusable."

That's more important than the United Mine Workers, probably among the most important factors in electing him as a Democrat in one of the most Republican states in the union. It was the UMW that convinced me he'd end up voting for the bill back in April, when union president Cecil Roberts showed up with him to endorse the BBB climate change provisions. Nah, he threw those guys under the bus

The labor union noted that the bill includes an extension of a fund that provides benefits to coal miners suffering from black lung disease, which expires at the end of the year. The UMWA also touted tax incentives that encourage manufacturers to build facilities in coalfields that would employ thousands of miners who lost their jobs. 

“For those and other reasons, we are disappointed that the bill will not pass,” Cecil Roberts, the union’s president, said in a statement. “We urge Senator Manchin to revisit his opposition to this legislation and work with his colleagues to pass something that will help keep coal miners working, and have a meaningful impact on our members, their families, and their communities.”

He didn't think much of the mothers of West Virginia either:
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is one of the major critics of the bill due to concerns over increased spending and inflation. Organizers say Manchin told them in a meeting he is not hearing directly from West Virginians about how the Child Tax Credit has helped them.
JoAnna Vance, West Virginia recovery fellow for the American Friends Service Committee of West Virginia, said she has gathered more than 150 stories showing how the credit has helped residents pay for groceries and utility bills.
"Some people that I talked to, I'm so happy for them," Vance remarked. "They got to move out to of their parents' house with their kids because of the Child Tax Credit. They got a car. But then if the Child Tax Credit isn't extended, then how are they going to pay for their house? How are they going to pay for their car?"
Nah, he just suspects they spend all the money on drugs. They ought to have "work requirements", notwithstanding the fact that they may not be able to take a job if Senator Manchin decides they can't have a car. But that's not the "real reason" either.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Literary Corner: Wit's End

Drawing by Dick Wright/Daily World.

Sonnet: The Living Crap
by Senator Joseph Manchin III

I’m not blaming anybody. I knew
where they were, and I knew what they
could and could not do. They just
never realized it, because they
figured surely, dear God, we can move
one person, surely we can badger and
beat one person up, surely we can get
enough protesters to make that person
uncomfortable enough they’ll just say,
“I’ll go for anything. Just quit.”
Well guess what, I’m from West Virginia.
I’m not where they’re from and they can
just beat the living crap out of people
and think they’ll be submissive.

You'll never beat the living crap out of Senator Joseph Manchin III of West Virginia, because there's just too much of it.

"Wit's End" sounds like some backcountry setting for a cozy murder mystery. "Somebody's reporting a body up at Wit's End, Chief. In a—peculiar condition."

It's funny Manchin should be thinking of himself as getting beaten up when what he's actually been subjected to is relentless coddling, flattery, and a parade of tempting offers, for himself and his constituents. That seems to have come to an end starting on Tuesday, when according to press secretary Jen Psaki he finally managed to tell Biden what he allegedly wanted:

Senator Manchin came to the White House and submitted—to the President, in person, directly—a written outline for a Build Back Better bill that was the same size and scope as the President’s framework, and covered many of the same priorities. While that framework was missing key priorities, we believed it could lead to a compromise acceptable to all.

Then on Thursday after a phone conversation with Manchin the president announced his belief that "we will bridge our differences and advance the Build Back Better program", and on Sunday morning he went on TV:

“I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can’t,” Manchin said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I’ve tried everything humanly possible. I can’t get there.” Bret Baier, the Fox News anchor, asked Manchin if this was a definitive no. “This is a no on this legislation,” Manchin replied.

(John Cassidy at The New Yorker reports that he had his office call Biden's office half an hour before the interview and then refused to personally take a call from them.)

Which is what prompted the badgering and beating, such as it was: Psaki issuing her statement accusing him of bad faith

If his comments on FOX and written statement indicate an end to that effort, they represent a sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position, and a breach of his commitments to the President and the Senator’s colleagues in the House and Senate.

and budget committee chairman Bernie Sanders and majority leader Chuck Schumer to plan a vote on BBB shortly after New Year, Sanders commenting,

“We've been dealing with Mr. Manchin for month after month after month. But if he doesn't have the courage to do the right thing for the working families of West Virginia and America, let him vote no in front of the whole world.”

Leading to their victim's cry of anguish.

Which is the thing that's actually making me a little optimistic, and here's why: in calling out the press secretary for bullying him, Manchin has revealed that he is, in fact, a big fat bully; a soft-spoken one but a bully nevertheless. He's been enjoying torturing Sanders and Schumer and Biden and watching them humble themselves before him so much he didn't want to give it up, ever.

And in publicly running out of patience with him, Sanders and Schumer have done just the thing you're supposed to do with a bully: show him some resistance; show him he's not your friend any more. Chait is right, he's negotiating, or as I've said before playing position, and he tells us he's "not blaming anybody", though he obviously is, because he doesn't want to be cut off. I think he may well fold.

Update: talks to continue.

Cross-posted at The Rectification of Names.


I'm starting a holiday break today. I believe Yas and possibly Tom will be here while I'm away. My best wishes to everybody, despite all the awfulness out there. Stay safe, enjoy what you can enjoy, and let's hope we won't need to be enraged quite so much in the future. I'll be back on December 28.

Sunday, December 19, 2021


I thought there might still be hope for Build Back Better, in some greatly reduced form, but Joe Manchin just stabbed the president and every swing-district Democrat in the back, as well as every person who would have benefited from the bill, because the people who own him want to keep ordinary people's grubby hands off what they consider their money and want Democrats to lose every election, and Manchin wants whatever they want.
Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, said on Sunday that he could not support President Biden’s signature $2.2 trillion social safety net, climate and tax bill, all but dooming his party’s drive to pass the measure as written.

“I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation,” Mr. Manchin said on “Fox News Sunday,” citing concerns about adding to the national debt. “I’ve tried everything humanly possible. I can’t get there. This is a no.”
Presumably he's been planning to do this for months if he couldn't get the White House and the rest of the Democratic Party to give up. I assume he thought he could kill the bill merely by forcing endless negotiations right up until the Democrats' self-imposed deadline, but when they made it clear that they were willing to keep negotiating into 2022, he decided it was time to shiv them. I'm sure his poll numbers will go up in his extremely red home state, particularly among people who would have benefited from this bill the most, because that's the way this country works.


I see a lot of Democratic despair out there. (I know I'm generating quite a bit of it myself.) But one person who's rooting for Democrats -- or, rather, rooting against Republicans, at least at the moment -- has thoughts about how Democrats could bounce back. Yes, this guy:

Step 1 seems reasonable, in isolation. (We can debate the degree of child-care means testing.) Step 2 is where this falls apart. Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema won't support even partial filibuster reform (no, I'm not impressed that Manchin is discussing it) because their donors know it's a slippery slope that could theoretically lead to increases in their tax bills, although I'm not sure how that can even happen now in practice. And the notion that there'll be any Republican support for bills that curb GOP suppression of Democratic voting is ridiculously naive.

Moving on to Step 3, it would be nice to have the president attacking Republicans for obstructionism -- but it's hard to imagine them feeling "pressured and wedged," as Kristol says in Step 4. Kristol spent years as a Republican in good standing, so he's used to being able to put the opposition party in an awkward position with public pressure. He doesn't seem to understand that the members of his own party are impervious to this kind of pressure. Democrats are easily intimidated. Republicans aren't.

And, of course, none of this would convey the impression that "Biden's an activist centrist addressing real issues." Beyond the fact that some progressives would embrace the revised agenda, the mainstream and right-wing media would say in unison that Biden was offering a "progressive wish list," because both wings of the media despise Biden and know that label is the kiss of death.

So this plan is highly unlikely to work -- but it's a reminder of how much easier it is to be a Republican, because if you're a Republican and you really put your mind to it, you can change the narrative and put your opponents on the defensive just by putting in a little effort.

Saturday, December 18, 2021


In case you've been wondering whatever happened to America's best-educated wacky neighbor, Naomi Wolf: She's back! She appeared on Steve Bannon's radio show today. Gateway Pundit has the details:
Dr. Naomi Wolf, a Rhodes Scholar and former Clinton Administration advisor, joined Steve Bannon on The War Room on Saturday.

Earlier this week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expressed their preference for Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna’s mRNA COVID-19 vaccines over Johnson & Johnson’s jab.

Naomi Wolf knows why. The NIAID doesn’t hold the patents of the J&J vaccine.

Naomi Wolf: Moderna and Pfizer have been trying to sideline Johnson&Johnson partly because as Rob Kennedy will tell you, the stakeholders at the NIAID don’t have a patent on and don’t make money on the J&J vaccine. So they want it out of the marketplace. It’s not the first time they’ve said, “Oh that bad J&J vaccine.” ...Anyone who’s looked at VAERS and saw the thousands of blood clots and thrombotic events, strokes, thrombotic events, for Pfizer and Moderna as well as J&J, knows this is absolute ludicrisy.

Wait -- don't these folks believe all the vaccines are bad? Naomi Wolf, affer all, was banned from Twitter for conspiracy-theory tweets about vaccines:
One tweet claimed that vaccines were a "software platform that can receive uploads"....

Most recently, she tweeted that the urine and faeces of people who had received the jab needed to be separated from general sewage supplies while tests were done to measure its impact on non-vaccinated people through drinking water.
But apparently the J&J shot is good now because we're saying that it isn't -- mainstream scientists have determined that it's less effective than the mRNA vaccines against the Delta and Omicron variants, and it's sometimes responsible for dangerous blood clots. Those who received an initial dose of J&J were urged to get Pfizer or Moderna boosters. We don't like the J&J shot anymore -- so of course Wolf does.

How can we leverage this oppositional defiant disorder that's so characteristic of the right? Maybe we need to announce a new vaccine -- one that's actually a version of one of the existing successful vaccines -- and then, after it's approved, we immediately try to take it off the market. Maybe it needs to be associated with Donald Trump or an evangelical megachurch or Fox News, just to make the wingers really suspicious when we discredit it. Would something like this persuade the vaccine holdouts on the right that the Trump/Jesus/Fox vaccine was really good and they should definitely get it? If so, I'd be delighted. Whatever works.

Friday, December 17, 2021


Here's a news story from 2011:
After six years of fierce partisan battling, the legislative war over voter ID in Texas is officially over.

Gov. Rick Perry signed the voter ID bill into law this morning. The legislation requires voters to present one of five acceptable forms of photo ID—a drivers license, military ID, passport, concealed handgun license or a special voter ID card provided free of charge by the state. Gov. Perry designated voter ID as an “emergency item” early in the session, giving it particular priority as lawmakers rushed it through the legislative process.
Note that the law let Texans vote with a concealed handgun license but not a student ID. It was in limbo for a couple of years because Section 4 of the federal Votings Rights Act was still in effect and required preclearance of such electoral changes in Texas, but when the Supreme Court struck down Section 4, the law went into effect -- until a federal judge held that it "creates a substantial burden on the fundamental right to vote, has a discriminatory effect and purpose, and constitutes a poll tax." That ruling was stayed, and eventually the law took effect with modifications.

I'm pointing this out so we're not surprised at the news today about Rick Perry:
Members of the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol believe that former Texas Governor and Trump Energy Secretary Rick Perry was the author of a text message sent to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows the day after the 2020 election pushing an "AGRESSIVE (sic) STRATEGY" for three state legislatures to ignore the will of their voters and deliver their states' electors to Donald Trump, three sources familiar with the House Committee investigation tell CNN.

... Multiple people who know Rick Perry confirmed to CNN that the phone number the committee has associated with that text message is Perry's number....

As I always say, Donald Trump didn't turn the GOP into an anti-democratic party. The GOP has been opposed to democracy since at least the era of George W. Bush and his obsession wih voter fraud. Trump vastly increased the level of anti-democratic aggression, but pre-Trump Republicans were already with the program. Some have preferred to create a veneer of legitimacy about their anti-democratic activities, which would explain why Republicans in the states resisted Trump's efforts to steal the 2020 election after the votes were in and counted, but they're all fine with the notion of putting a thumb or two on the scale to ensure Republican victories. So it's no surprise that an old-school Republican like Perry was involved in this.


Updated to remove my misuse of the term "late capitalism."

At Vox, in a piece titled "The World as We Know It Is Ending. Why Are We Still at Work?," Anna North writes:
For a moment in early 2020, it seemed like we might get a break from capitalism.

A novel coronavirus was sweeping the globe, and leaders and experts recommended that the US pay millions of people to stay home until the immediate crisis was over. These people wouldn’t work. They’d hunker down, take care of their families, and isolate themselves to keep everyone safe. With almost the whole economy on pause, the virus would stop spreading, and Americans could soon go back to normalcy with relatively little loss of life.

Obviously, that didn’t happen.
Did anyone really believe this would happen -- that "we might get a break from capitalism" as a result of the pandemic? At my day job, we spent a couple of weeks in late February early March 2020 hastily familiarizing ourselves with software we'd need to work remotely -- the fact that we'd continue working, and be expected to make the transition seamlessly, was never in question. And we were supposed to see ourselves as the lucky ones -- we wouldn't have to commute on disease-carrying subway cars, we wouldn't be trapped all day in an office building where no windows could be opened, people who had weekend houses or homes in far-flung suburbs could hunker down far from the city ... But the work couldn't stop. And it clearly wouldn't stop for most blue-collar and service workers, either.

North writes:
Instead, white-collar workers shifted over to Zoom (often with kids in the background), and everybody else was forced to keep showing up to their jobs in the face of a deadly virus. Hundreds of thousands died, countless numbers descended into depression and burnout, and a grim new standard was set: Americans keep working, even during the apocalypse.

Now it’s been nearly two years since the beginning of the pandemic — a time that has also encompassed an attempted coup, innumerable extreme weather events likely tied to climate change, and ongoing police violence against Black Americans — and we’ve been expected to show up to work through all of it. “I don’t think people are well,” says Riana Elyse Anderson, a clinical and community psychologist and professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health. “We are moving along but we are certainly not well.”
Were there past crises when capitalism actually did stop? If so, I don't remember them. I was too young to be in the workforce for the wave of political assassinations in the 1960s, but it's my understanding that life mostly went on as usual. Crime waves, blackouts, 9/11 -- maybe some New Yorkers were told to take it easy after the Twin Towers fell, but my wife and I were back at our jobs the next day. If capitalism didn't stop for 9/11, why would it stop for COVID or George Floyd?

Updated to remove my misuse of the term "late capitalism."

The vast majority of ordinary schlubs understand this. Who questions it? Elite, Substacked knowledge workers:
“This is the black heart of productivity culture: the maniacal focus on the individual capacity to produce elides the external forces that could (and should!) short-circuit our concentration and work ethic,” Anne Helen Petersen, co-author of the book Out of Office, wrote at the time. “If we had time and space to process the tragedies of daily life, if we gave ourselves permission for deep empathy — then maybe we’d have the fortitude and will to fight for the changes that would actually make the world less traumatic.”
I love that: if we gave ourselves permission for deep empathy. The "permission" isn't ours to grant or withhold. Our employers decide, and they rarely decide that empathy is appropriate, except in very small doses. (I can't tell you how many transparently phony email messages of alleged empathy my co-workers and I received from our white bosses last year in response to the murder of Floyd.)

But employers could do more, couldn't they? North writes:
Companies can start by taking the onus off individual employees and offering time off to everyone in difficult times. Even if management encourages people to take time off, employees may fear repercussions if they actually do it, Anderson pointed out — plus they’ll be coming back to a mountain of work on their return. A better strategy is to simply give time off to all employees without requiring them to request it. Nike, for example, gave all office employees a week off earlier this year, and Bumble and LinkedIn enacted similar policies.
Trust me on this: An extra week off on short notice could just mean that you have to do twice as much work between now and the week off to keep all of your projects on their current schedules, because the deadlines never move.

One problem is that we think we can confront capitalism through normal political means -- we think the system will totter, or at least change significantly, if we vote for Democrats (or Bernie, or members of the Squad, or, if you're delusional, Donald Trump), or if we form a union or two at elite magazines or independent bookstores, or if we give money to groups fighting good fights. In reality, we need to do more. At the very least, we need to tap into the widespread contempt for fat cats -- they need to be held up as the enemies of progress that they are; we need to talk about precisely how they control the system, with an eye toward weakening that control. But talk probably won't be enough. The victories of the labor movement a century ago were won with violence, or at least the threat of it. I don't want violent revolution, but I question whether true progress is possible without it. I hope so, but I don't see any reason to believe it.

In any case, capitalism isn't going to let us take a breather, no matter how many virus strains threaten our health, no matter how many tornadoes are approaching our workplaces. Capitalism doesn't care what happens to us, as long as it doesn't have to pay significant costs associated with our suffering. We have to make capitalism care, and I don't know if we're up for the fight.