Monday, February 28, 2022


The vast majority of Americans -- even Republicans -- oppose Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine and support the notion of aiding the Ukrainians (that is, they support what the Biden administration is doing).
In the opening days of the war in Ukraine, the fractious American public is remarkably united in opposition to Russia’s invasion, with 74 percent saying the breach is not justified and 76 percent expressing an unfavorable opinion of Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll....

Three weeks ago, Americans were more likely to say the U.S. should remain neutral (49 percent) than side with Ukraine (46 percent); today, they’re more than twice as likely to want the U.S. to side with Ukraine (57 percent) as to stay out of it (25 percent). Republican opinion has shifted the most, from 8 points in favor of neutrality earlier this month to 34 points in favor of siding with Ukraine....

Americans also tend to agree on how the administration should be responding, with 56 percent saying they favor last week’s “major sanctions” designed to “cut off Russia’s government from Western banks and financial markets” — despite an explicit description that the sanctions were “imposed” by Biden. Unsurprisingly, 72 percent of Democrats favor Biden’s sanctions; just 6 percent oppose them. But the same sanctions also win the support of most Republicans (53 percent), with very little outright opposition (11 percent)....

A clear majority of Americans (56 percent) agree, too, with Biden’s vow “not to send U.S. troops into Ukraine”; only 15 percent disagree.
And yet:
... just 3 percent of 2020 Donald Trump voters are willing to say President Biden is “doing a better job leading his country” than Putin. Nearly half (47 percent) of Trump voters say Putin is doing a better job than Biden, even as Russia’s economy threatens to collapse under the weight of crippling global sanctions. A slightly smaller share of Trump voters (45 percent) say “neither” man is doing a better job than the other.

More Trump voters also express an unfavorable opinion of Biden (95 percent) than of Putin (78 percent) — with a full 87 percent saying they have a “very” unfavorable opinion of the U.S. president versus just 60 percent who say the same about his Russian counterpart.

... just a third of Americans (34 percent) say they approve of how Biden is handling “the situation with Russia and Ukraine.” Nearly half (48 percent) disapprove, and 17 percent are not sure.

... just 28 percent of Americans say Biden’s response to the situation with Russia and Ukraine has been “about right” — while more say his response has been “not tough enough” (39 percent).

... Nearly 9 in 10 Trump voters (89 percent) say they disapprove of how Biden is handling the Russia-Ukraine situation. More than two-thirds (67 percent) say his response has not been tough enough.
It's as if Republicans heard the question that said, "In response to Putin’s actions this week, President Joe Biden imposed major sanctions that cut off Russia’s government from Western banks and financial markets," and said, "Yes, excellent idea," but still they don't really believe Biden has done this, because if they believed it, they'd have to acknowledge that he's done something right, and that can't be possible, can it? And it's as if they support Ukraine even though they're 100% certain -- or at least they were a week ago -- that Ukraine is only relevant to them because it's one of those countries that gave that filthy Hunter Biden and his dementia-riddled (but evil genius) dad massive amounts of cash.

So even when Biden does what Americans want, he can't possibly be a good president. To Republicans (and most independents, and a not inconsiderable number of Democrats), "Biden is a bad president" is simply a fact now, like "the sun sets in the west" or "there are twenty-four hours in a day." It can't be called into quesion by any new information.

If Putin blinks as a result of what's being done now, Biden won't get any of the credit. The mainstream media rejected him after the Afghanistan withdrawal, and that made "Biden is a bad president" the across-the-board narrative of the entire media, and thus of the American people.

I don't know what can turn this around. Maybe Biden needs to do something swashbucklingly reckless, like entangling the U.S. military in this war, which poll respondents claim not to want but probably crave in their reptile brains. This will only work if it's a Hollywood war -- a few big booms, maybe a week or so of exciting combat with low casualties, and then Putin's defeat. That can't really happen, of course, but it's probably the only thing that would give Biden a poll bump. Poor bastard.


William Barr's memoir is about to be published. He's denouncing Donald Trump as unfit.
Former attorney general William P. Barr says in a new book that the prospect of Donald Trump running for president again is “dismaying” and urges the Republican Party to “look forward” to other candidates, concluding after a searing, behind-the-scenes account of his time in the president’s Cabinet that Trump is not the right man to lead the country.

... “We need leaders not only capable of fighting and ‘punching,’ but also persuading and attracting — leaders who can frame, and advocate for, an uplifting vision of what it means to share in American citizenship,” Barr writes. “Donald Trump has shown he has neither the temperament nor persuasive powers to provide the kind of positive leadership that is needed.”
The reaction to this has been what you'd expect.

In the abstract, I'm sympathetic to this argument. Journalists (Bob Woodward, Maggie Haberman) who have damaging news about public officials shouldn't hold it until their books come out. Prominent officials shouldn't maintain discreet silences.

But in reality, it wouldn't have made the slightest difference. We didn't know that Trump had grasped the dangers of the coronavirus when Bob Woodward knew, but Woodward told us well before the election -- and Trump still got 74 million votes and nearly won the Electoral College. We know what happens when someone gets the goods on Trump: Republican officeholders and rank-and-file GOP voters rally around him, denouncing his critics as Deep State saboteurs and, if they're Republicans, RINO traitors. Barr could have said all this in time for Trump's second impeachment -- but he'd have immediately become a pariah like Liz Cheney, and he wouldn't have swayed a single vote in the House or Senate.

But don't take my word for this. Look at the reaction to Barr's book now. Not long after the first stories about it ran, Trump spoke at CPAC -- and brought down the house.
For all the chatter that Trump’s influence over the Republican Party is growing weaker, that others in the GOP tent are feeling more emboldened to break with him, there were few signs of it here. Inside the confines of CPAC ... there was little sense that the former president was anything other than the center of attention. The cavernous ballroom was, for the first time all weekend, completely full when Trump took the stage to roaring cheers on Saturday night.

“We did it twice, and we’ll do it again. We’re going to be doing it again a third time,” Trump said to cheers. Partway through his speech, the crowd erupted into cheers of “Four more years!”
In CPAC's straw poll, Trump beat Ron DeSantis 59%-28%. No one else won more than 2% of the vote.

Barr's book is having no impact, just as his denunciation in real time would have had no impact.

It doesn't matter what anyone says now. No minds will be changed about Donald Trump ever again, and very few have been changed since 2016. No one will say or write anything that will magically make the scales fall from his backers' eyes, and that wasn't possible even during his presidency. If we aren't spared a third Trump run by death or legal entanglement, we just have to beat him with the forces we have. We won't make any new converts.

Sunday, February 27, 2022


New York magazine's Ben Jacobs reports from CPAC:
The specter of escalating war in Europe may have overshadowed this year’s CPAC, but it did not haunt it. The annual conservative confab was far more focused on the threats of wokeness and being canceled than those posed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The conflict was mostly a side note at an event that catered far more to culture warriors than cold warriors....
There were kind words for Vladimir Putin in Donald Trump's CPAC speech, but he condemned the invasion -- he clearly got the memo that Republican voters disapprove of what Putin is doing. He didn't really bring up the invasion in order to talk about geopolitics.
He condemned the Russian invasion as “appalling” and “an atrocity.” Trump also called Putin “smart,” America’s NATO allies “not so smart,” and claimed Russian aggression “would not have happened if there wasn’t a rigged election.” He even attempted to paint himself as uniquely tough on Russia, telling the crowd: “Under Bush, Russia invaded Georgia. Under Obama, Russia took Crimea. Under Biden, Russia invaded Ukraine. I stand as the only president of the 21st century on whose watch Russia did not invade another country.”

... Trump’s attention to the crisis in Europe ... felt like a mere formality, let alone one he used primarily to praise himself and attack his enemies.
And that's the message of most of the speeches: right-wingers are awesome, liberals (and right-wing politicians who don't toe the conservatively correct line) are evil.
Speaking on Thursday, Florida governor Ron DeSantis ... stuck exclusively to similar themes. Even when the first-term governor described his state as a “citadel of freedom” for anyone “chafing under authoritarian rule around the world,” the regimes he condemned were Australia and Canada over their COVID policies. Throughout his speech, DeSantis emphasized his opposition to what he called “Faucism,” as well as wokeness, which he described as the “new religion of the left.”

... Florida congressman Matt Gaetz ... jibed that his constituents “fear Dr. Fauci far more than a modern-day incarnation of Dr. Strangelove.”
Former Obama adviser Ben Rhodes looks at the global response to the Ukraine invasion and sees possible signs of hope:

But our corrupt, nationalist authoritarians are perpetually on offense, and the political environment looks better and better for them. A new ABC News poll shows voters favoring Republicans over Democrats by 7 points in congressional voting, with the lead expanding to 13 among registered voters who say they're certain to vote. And Trump continues to lead Biden in 2024 polling.

It seems only slightly crazy to ask whether Trump, if he'd been reelected, would have invaded Canada in support of the truck blockaders, or sent troops to Australia to liberate Novak Djokovic. But it's clear that foreign policy isn't what right-wing are focused on. The right doesn't care much what happens in Ukraine as long as domestic enemies are blamed. Putin thinks Ukraine belongs to Russia; American right-wingers feel the same way about liberal America. They want us in fear of their trucks and guns, they want our books banned, they want out trans kids repressed. They call us fascists just the way Putin refers to the Ukrainians he's trying to crush as Nazis. The difference is, if the polls are right, our authoritarian madmen will seize control within the next few years without firing a shot.

Saturday, February 26, 2022


James Poniewozik of The New York Times notices a sudden shift in the way Tucker Carlson talks about Vladimir Putin.
The Fox News host Tucker Carlson spent the run-up to the attack in sneering anti-anti-Putin mode. He said Ukraine was not a democracy but a U.S. “client state.” He argued ... that Democrats were trying to “mandate” that Americans hate Mr. Putin. (“Has Putin ever called me a racist?” Mr. Carlson asked. “Does he eat dogs?”) Russian state media gave Mr. Carlson a rave review, picking up his commentary.

Thursday night, with Russia having moved more aggressively than “certainly this show ever anticipated,” Mr. Carlson staged a tactical retreat. “Vladimir Putin started this war,” he said. “He is to blame for what we’re seeing tonight.”
Hot Air's Allahpundit noticed this too, and ascribed it to polls showing that rank-and-file Republicans are anti-Putin. And now we see everyone from Newsmax's Christopher Ruddy to the American Enterprise Institute's James Pethokoukis attacking Carlson and other Putinphiles on the American right. This must sting for Carlson, who's been trying to align himself with the portion of the right that sees Putin and Hungary's Viktor Orbán as heroes of "traditionalist" white Christianity. (Carlson famously groveled at Orbán's feet during a week's worth of TV broadcasts from Hungary.)

I'm not sure it stings quite so much for the most famous Putin cheerleader, Donald Trump. Trump has aligned himself with right-wing evangelicals and praised Putin, but I'm not sure he quite sees the connection. His praise for Putin seems to stem from his lifelong admiration for the craftsmanship of gangsters, thugs, and dictators. The Daily Beast's Matt Lewis offers a sample:
This is, after all, the same guy who said of Saddam Hussein, “He was a bad guy, really bad guy, but you know what he did well? He killed terrorists. He did that so good.”

Of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, Trump said, “It’s incredible. He wiped out the uncle, he wiped out this one, that one. I mean this guy doesn’t play games. And we can’t play games with him.”

And of China’s massacre of pro-democracy protesters, Trump said, “When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it, then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength.”
This postures gives Trump the flexibility to say admiring things about Putin while also claiming that he -- Trump -- would have protected the world against Putin's aggression better than that weak, feckless Biden. Trump wants us to see him as a thug just like Putin (whose thuggishness is admirable even though it must be contained). Here's what Trump said in his recent interview with Clay Travis and Buck Sexton:
I went in yesterday and there was a television screen, and I said, “This is genius.” Putin declares a big portion of the Ukraine — of Ukraine. Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that’s wonderful.

So, Putin is now saying, “It’s independent,” a large section of Ukraine. I said, “How smart is that?” And he’s gonna go in and be a peacekeeper. That’s strongest peace force... We could use that on our southern border. That’s the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen. There were more army tanks than I’ve ever seen. They’re gonna keep peace all right. No, but think of it. Here’s a guy who’s very savvy... I know him very well. Very, very well.

By the way, this never would have happened with us. Had I been in office, not even thinkable. This would never have happened. But here’s a guy that says, you know, “I’m gonna declare a big portion of Ukraine independent,” he used the word “independent,” “and we’re gonna go out and we’re gonna go in and we’re gonna help keep peace.” You gotta say that’s pretty savvy. And you know what the response was from Biden? There was no response. They didn’t have one for that. No, it’s very sad. Very sad.
(It appears the public is buying this. In a Harvard CAPS-Harris poll, 62% of respondents say that they believe Putin wouldn't be invading Ukraine if Trump were president, and 59% say Putin made the move because he regarded President Biden as weak.)

"Democrats are weak" has always been the GOP's happy place. Recently it's become trendy on the right to denounce "globalists" and to chant "America First," but the opportunity to portray a Democratic president as a 98-pound weakling is irresistible. So, for the moment, most Republicans are talking about Putin as a bad guy enabled by a weak Democrat -- and Trump is talking about Putin as a fellow thug who's appealingly tough, but not as tough as himself. I think the right will settle there for now.


UPDATE: Marjorie Taylor Greene seemed to be an exception to all this when she spoke at the America First Political Action Conference, chaired by Nick Fuentes, who is openly pro-Putin.

But after that, Greene threw Fuentes under the bus and toed the GOP line:

I do not know Nick Fuentes. I've never heard him speak. I've never seen a video. I don't know what his views are, so I'm not aligned with anything that may be controversial.... Now, in regards to Russia, Putin is a murderer, and he should never have invaded Ukraine.... The whole reason this is happening is because Joe Biden is a weak president, now America is a weak country, and our entire world is falling apart and we're seeing war erupt, which did not happen under President Trump because we had peace through strength.
So she clearly got the memo.

Friday, February 25, 2022


Donald Trump said admiring things about Vladimir Putin this week, but as Hot Air's Allahpundit notes, poll after poll shows that Republicans don't admire Putin much. First, Gallup:
Republicans and Democrats are united in their negative views of Russia, with 88% of both groups holding an unfavorable view of the country, compared with 82% of independents. In 2021, Republicans and independents were equally likely to view the country negatively, with 74% of both groups expressing unfavorable views, while 84% of Democrats did so.
Then Echelon:
Here’s another surprising poll result, one that dovetails with the Gallup numbers. It’s true that Republicans are critical of how Biden has handled Russia but it’s not because he’s been too aggressive in confronting Putin.... It’s because he hasn’t been aggressive enough:

A Morning Consult poll says that 46% of Americans and 44% of Republicans believe our government should "impose sanctions on Russia even if it causes the price of goods in my country to rise," which is more than the 37% (and 41% of Republicans) who think sanctions should be imposed only if inflation doesn't result, or shouldn't impose sanctions at all. A YouGov poll has someone stronger support for sanctions, and that support is from Republicans as well as the rest of the country:

So now there are two issues on which Trump and a large portion of his base disagree: vaccines and Putin. Will it matter? I doubt it. Note that Gallup's numbers for Putin were bad last year, even among Republicans. And yet Trump has consistently won 2024 Republican primary polls.

Trump's base doesn't cling to him because of an issues checklist, unless you count the wall as an issue. It's all emotional. It's all about believing he radiates "strength." It's all about how vigorously he expresses his hate for everyone they hate. They won't abandon him.


The Washington Post's Henry Olsen is sad because CPAC isn't what it used to be.
This year’s lineup shows a party attempting to marry pre-Trump conservatism with Trumpian style. And what’s missing? Genuine discussion and debate of the issues.

... This year’s agenda speaks volumes as to who is and is not considered potential star material for movement conservatives. Former president Donald Trump makes the grade, as does his son, Donald Trump Jr. But former vice president Mike Pence does not. Neither does Nikki Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Govs. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Kristi L. Noem of South Dakota have coveted solo slots, as do Sens. Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.) and even former secretary of state Mike Pompeo. Other potential 2024 candidates, such as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, are missing despite their consistently conservative stances on the issues.
No one who pays attention to Wingnut World will be terribly surprised at this list. All True Patriots know that Pence and Haley are evil RINOs, while the Trumps, DeSantis, and Noem are laboring mightily to save America from the evils of COVID mitigation and George Soros. Cruz is coming because no one tries harder to grovel before MAGA America, and Rubio has stepped up his grovel game quite a bit lately as well. Abbott is an odd omission, but the MAGA crowd is mysteriously wary of aout him, for reasons I can't quite understand. Maybe it's because he's allowed Florida to surpass Texas as the most reactionary big state in the Union. Texas held that crown for decades!

It's baffling to Olsen that CPAC is playing favorites in upcoming primary contests, though none of the picks and snubs should be surprising.
Trump-endorsed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake is on the agenda, but neither of her top opponents will appear. David Perdue, the former Georgia senator running for governor in his state with Trump’s blessing, is on a panel, while his primary foe, incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp, is not. And Rep. Ted Budd, whom Trump endorsed for North Carolina’s Senate seat, is in, while his primary opponent, former governor Pat McCrory, is out.

It is thus notable that disgraced former governor Eric Greitens will be the only candidate in Missouri’s Republican Senate primary to appear at the event, since he has yet to receive Trump’s endorsement. Perhaps Trump decreed this is an audition to see if Greiten deserves the coveted nod from Mar-a-Lago.
No, it's because Greitens is an angry Trumpite who's a crook and a sexual predator and was forced to leave office when he was governor of Missouri. All that and the fact that he seems to be in the midst of a strong comeback make him a near-clone of MAGA's beloved ex-president. (Though I'm surprised that CPAC hasn't invited one of the other candidates in the primary, St. Louis gun guy Mark McCloskey.)
This Trump-infused movement conservatism is decidedly angry, if the titles of CPAC’s panels are any indication. One is called “Put Him to Bed, Lock Her Up and Send Her to the Border.” Another promises to “Lock Her Up, FOR REAL.” “The Moron In Chief” is presumably about the current occupant of the Oval Office, and Sebastian Gorka and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) will encourage the next occupant to “Fire Fauci.” Panels such as “The Invasion” and “Obamacare Still Kills” will keep the blood running hot, while “War: A Tribute to Andrew Breitbart” is presumably not about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Sober discussion, it appears, will be in short supply at this weekend’s confab.

That is a dramatic departure from CPAC’s roots. Conservatives historically used CPAC to discuss and debate serious topics. The 2012 agenda, for example, featured serious debates on Internet taxation, the meaning of the Arab Spring and whether a flat tax or a VAT is the best supply-side tax policy.
Yes, but when I go to this Politico slideshow of CPAC 2012, I see Breitbart, Ann Coulter, Michele Bachmann, and a "TEBOW FOR PRESIDENT" bumper sticker leaning against a computer monitor. Oh, and there was this:
On Tuesday morning, attendees of the Red Carpet Blogger Awards at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) witnessed an unorthodox rap performance that seemed to have included the use of the n-word.

The “rap” by Steve Crowder, who is a Fox News contributor, and Chris Loesch, the husband of conservative commentator Dana Loesch, was titled “Mr. America.” The two sported colonial-style white wigs and track suits as they performed....

At one point, the lyrics of the song seemed to alarm audience members....

But right now you’re hot
Hey ain’t you, big hitter
But now I’m now I’m back from the dead
I’m bringing back all my knickers

At that point in the song, a “rewind” sound is played, making it clear that the intention was to cause the listener to think they heard the n-word.

... The “knickers” line occurs at the 1:50 mark.
Yes, really:

There might have been serious talk at past CPACs, but ignorant Breitbartism is where conservatism has always been headed. iIt's on the verge of a complete and permanent takeover of American politics, so why argue with success, Henry?

Thursday, February 24, 2022


Here's a story from Florida:
A day after he was confirmed by the Florida Senate as the state's new surgeon general, Dr. Joe Ladapo and Gov. Ron DeSantis announced new changes to the state's COVID-19 guidance.

Ladapo and the governor made the announcement in a video posted to the state's website Thursday.

Both said Florida's new guidance pushes back on "unscientific corporate masking" and "outdated CDC guidance." ...

"People want to live freely in Florida, without corporate masking creating a two-tier society and without overbearing isolation for children," DeSantis said.
We know that DeSantis hates all efforts to reduce the spread of COVID, and reserves the right to prohibit mitigation efforts even by private companies -- but this use of "corporate" as a boo! hiss! pejorative is new from DeSantis, as far as I know (although Marjorie Taylor Greene has been talking about "corprate communism," whatever that is, for some time).

And then there's Ted Cruz at CPAC:

Big is bad, across the board. Big government sucks. Big business sucks! Big tech, big Hollywood, big universities -- any accumulation of power that is centralized is fundamentally dangerous for individuals.
We know that every Republican thinks big government sucks (except when a Republican president wants to fight a war, or brutalize immigrants at the border). And it's not surprising that Cruz (Princeton '92, Harvard Law '95), being a Republican, would say that big universities suck. Also big Hollywood, because Republicans hate Hollywood.

But big business? Does Cruz hate the 50 companies in the Fortune 500 that are based in Texas? Does his hatred of big tech extend to Tesla (now based in Austin), HP, Cisco, Dell, and all the other tech companies in his state? Does his contempt for bigness include a loathing of Goldman Sachs ($1.46 trillion in assets as of December 31, 2021), which continues to employ his wife?

Of course not. Republicans don't hate big business. But it's worth noting that Republicans really, really want you to think they hate big business now. They also want you to think big business is liberal, if not socialist. (If not communist!)

Or maybe I'm wrong -- maybe they're serious, and every Republican will soon be rushing to embrace Elizabeth Warren-style ideas about corporate taxation and breaking up big tech. Maybe they'll make common cause with Bernie Sanders, and with the Squad.

LOL. I crack myself up sometimes.


I'm a fan of Margaret Sullivan's work, so I'm sorry to read this column of hers in The Washington Post:
As Russia prepared to invade Ukraine, the biggest star on Fox News was busy doing what he does best: being thoroughly and appallingly wrong.

[Tucker Carlson] defended the murderous instigator Vladimir Putin....

Carlson insisted that Ukraine was not a democracy but a “pure client state” of the U.S. government. And, in a particularly obnoxious rant, he suggested that Putin is morally superior to “permanent Washington,” some vaguely malign force that Carlson claims is manufacturing a global pandemic, teaching children to embrace racial discrimination and trying to snuff out Christianity.

Carlson’s pro-Putin act is so helpful that Russian state television has been rebroadcasting it with Russian subtitles.
But, says Sullivan, all this is less than it seems.
... it’s important to remember what Carlson is: nothing more than an outrage machine. What he offers is not political commentary. It’s Fox-approved nonsense meant to juice ratings — and it works.

Don’t take my word for it. In 2020, Fox’s own lawyers successfully made the case in court that Carlson shouldn’t be taken seriously. And a Trump-appointed federal judge agreed.

U.S. District Court Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil echoed Fox’s own arguments in finding that Carlson didn’t commit slander when he accused a former Playboy model, Karen McDougal, of extortion, after the National Enquirer bought her story of an affair with Trump and then promptly shelved it on his behalf.

Why not? Because, Vyskocil decided, the whole tenor of Carlson’s show makes it clear to viewers that he is not stating “actual facts” about his topics.

“Whether the Court frames Mr. Carlson’s statements as ‘exaggeration,’ ‘non-literal commentary,’ or simply bloviating for his audience,” she wrote, “the conclusion remains the same — the statements are not actionable.”

She added: “Fox persuasively argues, that given Mr. Carlson’s reputation, any reasonable viewer 'arrive[s] with an appropriate amount of skepticism’ about the statement he makes.”

That’s the problem, of course. Too many in Carlson’s audience simply don’t arrive with that measure of doubt or disbelief. They swallow his nonsense whole.
Yes, Sullivan says, the ignorant rubes fall for rhetoric so obviously nonsensical that anyone with a reasonable amount of intelligence can see right through it! And a Trump judge agreed that Carlson's commentary is all fake! Well, of course a Trump judge agreed. Agreeing with that characterization of Carlson got Trump's favorite TV channel off the hook in McDougal's lawsuit.

The fact that Carlson and his employer told a judge his political opinions are fake means nothing. In the 1960s, a podiatrist wrote a letter saying that young Donald Trump had bone spurs that made him a bad candidate for military service at the time of the Vietnam War. This was an effective letter, but that doesn't mean it was a truthful one.

I don't know whether Tucker Carlson believes what he says on TV every weeknight. But even if he doesn't believe his own words, they clearly aren't intended to be received as "exaggeration" or "non-literal commentary." In the monologue Sullivan cites, Carlson said:
Has Putin ever called me a racist? Has he threatened to get me fired for disagreeing with him? Has he shipped every middle-class job in my town to Russia? Did he manufacture a worldwide pandemic that wrecked my business and kept me indoors for two years? Is he teaching my children to embrace racial discrimination? Is he making fentanyl? Is he trying to snuff out Christianity?
He said this to people who very literally believe that America is run by a liberal elite that calls white conservatives racists, tries to get them fired for "incorrect" opinions, ships American jobs overseas (well, there's some truth here, even if this isn't liberalism), and ginned up a fake pandemic that it sustains under false pretenses. They believe this liberal elite forces the children of white conservatives to be indoctrinated in racial self-hate at school, encourages China to ship massive quantities of fentanyl to America, and labors to purge America of Christianity.

Carlson may or may not believe all this, but if you demagogically affirm dangerous beliefs to an audience that shares them, you're not an entertainer or a performance artist -- you're more like a dealer of dangerous and addicting drugs, which are still dangerous even if you personally don't partake.

There's a snobbery in what Sullivan writes -- the yokels should know better. But telling people untruths that they're already inclined to believe doesn't just work on the unlettered. In 2002 and 2003, many highly educated people believed that Saddam Hussein had chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. The people who told us he had these weapons weren't engaged in "non-literal commemtary." Whether they believed this or not, they sure as hell wanted us to believe it.

It doesn't matter what Carlson believes. I agree with Kurt Vonnegut's line in Mother Night: "We are what we pretend to be, so we must be very careful about what we pretend to be." Mother Night's protagonist isn't a Nazi true believer, but he broadcasts propaganda on the Nazis' behalf. Carlson broadcasts propaganda too. He might or might not believes what he says, but his beliefs are irrelevant if millions of other people believe him.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022


I've said for years that Donald Trump will never spend a night in jail, and it looks as if I'm right about that.
The two prosecutors leading the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation into former President Donald J. Trump and his business practices abruptly resigned on Wednesday amid a monthlong pause in their presentation of evidence to a grand jury, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The stunning development comes not long after the high-stakes inquiry appeared to be gaining momentum, and throws its future into serious doubt.

... The Manhattan investigation, which proceeded in fits and starts for years, was the most developed of the three criminal inquiries into Mr. Trump.
Marcy Wheeler has expressed doubt about the Manhattan investigation. She tweeted this in November:

And this today:

Trump sees himself as a mob boss, and Allen Weisselberg, his chief financial officer, is carefully observing the code of omertà. That seems to be paying off splendidly for Trump.

But Trump's time as a key figure in our politics was never going to end in a courtroom. In the best-case scenario, Trump would be tried, convicted, and sent to prison before 2024 (and it's theoretically possible that that could still happen somewhere) -- but he'd become a political prisoner to millions of Americans. He'd be like the jailed January 6 rioters, but a vastly more prominent martyr. Every Republican campaign with any hope of success would promise to free him from prison and punish those who put him there. Ron DeSantis or some other opportunist would probably sail into the White House on a wave of pro-Trump rage.

And this is assuming that it's even possible to try Trump in a court of law without violence. Early in his presidency, Barack Obama sought to try Guantanamo prisoners in Manhattan. Local leaders -- led by Mike Bloomberg, who was then the mayor -- howled in outrage. They didn't believe it was possible to keep the city safe if Al Qaeda terrorists were on trial. That's how I feel about a trial of Donald Trump.

I've resigned myself to the fact that Trump will evade justice until he dies -- most CEOs in America do, as have all Republican presidents since Nixon. The only people who've ever truly held Trump accountable were voters in 2020.

Half the public will never accept that merely putting Trump on trial can be justified as anything other than an act of jackbooted totalitarianiasm. So far, though, they more or less accept the notion that he can't become president again without running first. Some of them don't believe that, of course -- they want him installed now -- and nearly all of them believe that any election he loses must have been rigged. But the only way we'll ever truly be rid of him, short of death, is by beating him at the polls again, if we can manage it.


Bret Stephens has an odd theory about the U.S. response to Russian aggression against Ukraine:
Central to much of the skepticism regarding America’s involvement in the crisis in Ukraine is the question, “Who are we?”

Who are we, with our long history of invasions and interventions, to lecture Vladimir Putin about respecting national sovereignty and international law? Who are we, with our domestic record of slavery and discrimination, our foreign record of supporting friendly dictators, and the ongoing injustices of American life, to hold ourselves up as paragons of freedom and human rights? Who are we, after 198 years of the Monroe Doctrine, to try to stop Russia from delineating its own sphere of influence? Who are we, with our habitual ignorance, to meddle in faraway disputes about which we know so little?

Such questions are often put by people on the left, but there’s a powerful strain of the same thinking on the right. When Bill O’Reilly asked Donald Trump in 2017 how he could “respect” Putin when the Russian president is “a killer,” the president replied: “We’ve got a lot of killers. What, you think our country’s so innocent?”
So Americans don't agree on a strong response to this crisis and the first thought Stephens has is to blame the left? Seriously? And then to add that, oh, yeah, right, I guess some right-wingers have doubts about intervening, too?

I've read some bad Ukraine takes, but this has to be one of the laziest. Intervention skepticism? Must be the fault of those blame-America-first hippies! And, sure, Trump too -- although Stephens overlooks the fact that Trump doesn't consider "killer" to be a pejorative. He was raised to believe that the world consists of "killers" and losers, and you've got to be the former in order to avoid being the latter.

Many (if not most) of the Americans who want U.S. and international pressure to work in this crisis are liberals who acknowledge "our domestic record of slavery and discrimination, our foreign record of supporting friendly dictators, and the ongoing injustices of American life" -- despite all this, we're rooting for America and NATO, and rooting against Putin. There are leftists who aren't, but they're not the primary critics of the Biden administration's response.

The primary critics are people like Tucker Carlson. His argument sounds like a funhouse-mirror version of Stephens's blame-America leftism. Last night on his show, he said:
... it might be worth asking yourself, since it is getting pretty serious: What is this really about? Why do I hate Putin so much? Has Putin ever called me a racist? Has he threatened to get me fired for disagreeing with him? Has he shipped every middle-class job in my town to Russia? Did he manufacture a worldwide pandemic that wrecked my business and kept me indoors for two years? Is he teaching my children to embrace racial discrimination? Is he making fentanyl? Is he trying to snuff out Christianity? Does he eat dogs?
The people who don't want the U.S. to respond aggressively to Putin's imperialism aren't skeptics because of slavery or the Monroe Doctrine -- they're people who think America isn't pro-white enough now. They're people who hate America for its religious diversity and its (((globalism))), who think the pandemic is a hoax and regard our only non-white president as a savage (and our country as corrupted by his presidency) because, among other things on some occasions he ate dog meat when he was a child in Indonesia.

Bret Stephens can believe what he wants, but whatever his opinions may be, he should at least keep tabs on what Americans are thinking right now. Instead, he reaches for an off-the-shelf cultural stereotype that's dated and irrelevant. C'mon, Bret, make an effort.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022


Meme spotted at, the message board formerly known as TheDonald:

This is, of course, a Photoshop of the picture of a January 6 insurrectionist temporarily making off with Nancy Pelosi's lectern. (That rioter has pleaded guilty and is likely to spend a few months in prison.)

Many people who take Putin seriously suspect he's losing his marbles, but to the LOL Nothing Matters crowd at, he's just Beavis or Butt-head with a cache of weapons (kind of like the J6 rioters), except his weapons include tanks and nuclear missiles.

The comment thread accompanying this Photoshop is basically dinner-table conversation with your right-wing uncle, except with a more shitposty tone.
Our own border is being overrun. Why on earth would you care about some shithole 5,000 miles away?


I wish we had a President with the balls to annex a neighboring foreign country like, for example, California


They'd be better under Putin than under WEF/Soros types.


If you think Putin is Hitler you’re free to join potato’s army, so long as you take your clot shots


Don't forget to address your superiors by their preferred pronouns. They'll Article your ass if you misgender a superior.


I’ll admit I’m a little concerned about blatant pro Russia posts on here though. It’s one thing to not care, but to be actively cheering Russia is weird, they are not our friends


Neither is the US government.


How do you know they are not our friends outside of some old 80's cold war nostalgia? What has the Russian government done to you compared to what the marxists in this country have done?

Russia could only DREAM of doing the damage to this country that your fellow fake american marxists have accomplished.


Anything that pokes Globalhomo, Inc., in the eye is worthy of praise for doing so. You can cheer for good things that people do even if you don't care for them otherwise.

Also: The enemy of my enemy, etc.


Correct. Russians arent woke shitlibs, and thus I support them.


Ukraine is a "Globalist" project - a heterogenous country whose installed Puppet was provided with funds, military equipment, and the order to stoke a war - which would be used as a basis for NATO to start a war.

It didn't work out as they wanted.

I'm fucking thrilled!!


If Ukraine is now in Putin's hands verses Hunter's, I would bet they are probably better off.
Note to The New York Time: I've saved you the trouble and expense of going on another diner safari or conducting another GOP focus group -- this is everything rank-and-file Republicans believe about the Ukraine situation.


Rick Scott, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has just released an extreme-right policy document ahead of the 2022 midterms. He and the leader of the Republicans in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, would like everyone to believe that this is all Scott's idea, and that McConnell is not endorsing it. Politico falls for this:
Rick Scott pushes own GOP agenda as McConnell holds off

Senate Republican leaders have no plans to release an alternative agenda as they try to win back the majority this fall. So Rick Scott is pursuing his own plan.

The Florida Republican senator is devising a conservative blueprint for Republicans to enact should they win Senate and House majorities this fall. Among Scott’s priorities: completing the border wall and naming it after former President Donald Trump, declaring “there are two genders,” ending any reference to ethnicity on government forms and limiting most federal government workers — including members of Congress — to 12 years of service.

It’s a bold move for the first-term senator and National Republican Senatorial Committee chair. But Scott said the 31-page GOP agenda he’s crafted is separate from his work chairing the party’s campaign arm, adding that it’s “important to tell people what we’re gonna do.” It’s a clear break from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has declined to release a GOP agenda heading into the midterms.
People who should know better, like this Media Matters reporter, are falling for Scott and McConnell's good-cop/bad-cop act:

McConnell knows how to play this game. He knows that this document will rally the base with its pounds and pounds of red meat. Yet he also knows that it might put off swing voters a wee bit, so he's declaring that Republican senators and Senate aspirants are, by and large, the souls of moderation -- nothing to be afraid of! It's the same rope-a-dope Glenn Youngkin pulled off in Virginia, when he made sure that Trumpist and culture-war voters knew he was a Trumpist and a culture warrior, while he fooled suburbanites into believing that he was just a moderate dad in fleece.

This document is a nasty piece of work. While Democrats sing hymns of praise to bipartisanship, Scott tells us:
The militant left now controls the entire federal government, the news media, academia, Hollywood, and most corporate boardrooms – but they want more. They are redefining America and silencing their opponents.

Among the things they plan to change or destroy are: American history, patriotism, border security, the nuclear family, gender, traditional morality, capitalism, fiscal responsibility, opportunity, rugged individualism, Judeo-Christian values, dissent, free speech, color blindness, law enforcement, religious liberty, parental involvement in public schools, and private ownership of firearms.
It's practically the Protocols of the Elders of Liberalism, and this is just the preamble.

The education plan? Recite the Pledge of Allegiance every day -- that's mandatory, as is standing for the national anthem. No teacher tenure. "Voluntary prayer" (which, to the right, always means coerced prayer) can't be prevented. No "political or social indoctrination" in our schools (although every student must be taught "to love America because, while not perfect, it is exceptional, it is good, and it is a beacon of freedom," which is totally not "indoctrination").

It gets worse. "Government will never again ask American citizens to disclose their race, ethnicity, or skin color on any government forms" -- or, in Jamelle Bouie's paraphrase, “we will make it illegal to measure racial inequality or try to ameliorate it.”

Scott wants to "strengthen qualified immunity" for police officers. He wants to "force prosecutors to prosecute" -- if I'm reading this correctly, he wants the federal government to override the judgments of state and local elected attorneys general.

Scott wants to build the wall and name it after Trump. He wants Georgia-style election laws nationwide. He wants a drastic reduction in non-military spending: "Other than disaster relief, the federal government must stop spending money on non-essential state and local projects until the budget is balanced." His plan is unswervingly anti-abortion, completely supportive of adoption agencies that discriminate against LGBT parents, and brutal toward trans people.

There's also this:
All Americans should pay some income tax to have skin in the game, even if a small amount. Currently over half of Americans pay no income tax.
This is the only item on the Scott agenda to which I can imagine an objection from D.C. Democrats -- possibly.

All this toxicity, and today's gold medalist in the missing-the-point Olympics is Maggie Haberman:

This much nastiness and that's your takeaway, Maggie?

Republicans hate us. They hate us if we're non-white, they hate us if we're LGBT, they hate us if we're women and not traditionalist, they hate us if we vote for the "Democrat Party" for any reason -- and they will crack down on us mercilessly if given half the chance. That's the correct takeaway.

This should be treated as an official party platform, because that's what it is. It's yours, too, Mitch. Don't try to slither away from it.

Monday, February 21, 2022


I know I should be writing about the imminent Third World War, but this Axios story has me pounding my head on the desk:
Biden needs a Trump substitute

Searching for a strategy to avoid a 2022 midterm disaster, advisers to President Biden have discussed elevating a unifying Republican foil not named Donald Trump.

... Biden confidants worry that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is too unknown, that Biden won't demonize Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell because of their longstanding and collegial relationship and that elevating Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis could backfire.

... Team Biden's muscle memory is to elevate and focus on the best foil Democrats have ever been gifted — Trump.

But as Terry McAuliffe's loss in the Virginia governor's race showed last fall, running against an out-of-office Trump won't cut it with voters.

Biden advisers know they need to bring Republicans back into the fray and interrupt the ceaseless news cycles about Democratic infighting....

DeSantis is an obvious target who has been discussed among Biden confidants as a potential foil for the president.

But some Biden advisers are reluctant to contest every midterm race on DeSantis' signature issue — COVID-19 — because the Biden administration's approaches on vaccine and mask mandates may be a political liability with some swing voters.
Mazie Hirono is the only person quoted in this story who comes close to understanding what Democrats should do.
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) told Axios: "I wish that we could just find one face that we could point to, such as with Donald Trump... maybe a composite."
I suppose you could say that Democrats need a "composite," but the way I'd put it is that they need to develop the habit of highlighting every extreme, radical, off-putting thing done by any Republican and linking them to a generalized critique of the Republican Party as an extreme, radical, off-putting party. It would mean shining a spotlight on the worst statements and policy proposals from Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Paul Gosar, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, J.D. Vance, Josh Mandel, Kari Lake, and, yes, Ron DeSantis, as well as a host of other far-right figures, and saying, "This is what you get if Republicans win."

But that would require a lot fewer paeans to the glories of bipartisanship -- not just from Biden, but from other Democrats. It would require Democrats to stop talking as if Democratic policy proposals are invalid unless they have Republican buy-in. It would require Democrats to say, in effect, "We're right, they're wrong" -- which was actually the title of a book by James Carville, of all people, many years ago.

They can't bring themselves to do this. They want one GOP foil because they don't want to say bad things about the other members of the party -- who hate them. (Biden thinks McConnell is a pal? If a future GOP-majority House impeaches Biden, I guarantee you McConnell will vote to convict.)

And while I'm talking about this story, I have a question: Why did these internal discussions even go public? When Republican intraparty strategy debates are reported, the tone is always "Here's an attack the GOP is considering that could well be devastating for Democrats." When Democratic strategy debates are reported, the tone -- as it is here -- is inevitably "Here's a desperate thing Democrats are considering to cover up all their recent failures." So don't talk about this stuff within earshot of reporters. Even if Democrats were planning a smart strategy, they should have kept it to themselves.


A poll from the Wason Center for Civic Leadership at Christopher Newport University in Virginia finds that much of Governor Glenn Youngkin's agenda is unpopular. Who knew?
Governor Youngkin proposes to repeal the Virginia Clean Economy Act, a law passed in the Democratic-controlled legislature in 2020 and signed by Governor Ralph Northam that would require electric utilities in the state to produce 100% of their energy from renewable resources by 2050. Two-thirds (67%) of Virginia voters surveyed support this law, while just over a quarter (28%) oppose it. By a similar margin (67% to 26%), voters support another environmental policy targeted by the Youngkin administration, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, under which Virginia participates in a carbon cap-and-trade program with other states to reduce carbon pollution.
Opposion to the RGGI is such a big deal to Youngkin that he signed an executive order intended to begin the state's withdrawal from the initiative in his first week in office.
Virginia voters largely support teaching how racism continues to impact American society today (63% support/strongly support to 33% oppose/strongly oppose). In addition, a majority oppose a government ban on the teaching of Critical Race Theory in Virginia public schools (57% oppose/strongly oppose to 35% support/strongly support).
This is the issue that got Youngkin elected, and yet -- surprise! -- his approach doesn't have anything close to majority support. This might explain why he did a photo op at the site where the first enslaved Africans landed in America in (yes) 1619.

On masking in public schools, a majority of Virginia voters indicate that school mask requirements should be determined by health data and information from health experts (56%) versus a decision left to parents (41%). This result runs counter to a law just passed by the 2022 General Assembly and signed by Governor Youngkin allowing parents to opt their children out of mask mandates rather than leave the decision to local school boards.
Youngkin does have proposals that are popular (repealing the state's grocery tax, putting a police officer in every school). Nevertheless, he's already he's underwater in the polls.
After his first few weeks in office, Governor Youngkin’s job approval is mixed, with 41% saying they approve of the job the governor is doing and 43% indicating disapproval; 16% say they don’t know.
The Democratic president of the state Senate tells us:

So if this continues, we'll see a lot of articles questioning whether the GOP needs to make a significant course correction to avoid electoral disasters in the future ... right? The press will tell us that the party is drastically out of step with middle-of-the-road voters, particularly the all-important suburban white moderates. Right? That will happen, won't it?

I suppose it's too soon, and this is only one state. But let's see what happens in 2023, after (I assume) Republicans win gubernatorial races in a few more purple states. It could happen in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, maybe even Minnesota, New Mexico, or Oregon. Let's see what happens if truly batshit Republicans like Arizona's Kari Lake get elected. The policies will be unpopular and extreme -- but will we hear that this extremism is threatening to the GOP's propsects in future elections? Will we hear that the party needs to make a major course correction? Why do I assume the answer is no?

Sunday, February 20, 2022


Here are four stories that appeared at Politico, The Hill, and The New York Times just this weekend. First, from The Hill:
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman’s (R) endorsement of Republican Senate candidate Jane Timken could alter the dynamics of the state’s crowded GOP primary and give Timken a needed boost.

Portman, who is retiring next year, on Wednesday offered Timken the race’s most high-profile endorsement to date....

“This is the most significant thing that has happened in the Senate race. Period. End of discussion,” said one Republican operative involved in Ohio politics.

Some strategists are also asking if Portman’s endorsement could foreshadow a potential endorsement from former President Trump.

“That is the hottest rumor in Ohio right now,” state Sen. Michael Rulli (R ), who has endorsed Timken, said. “If that happens, in my humble opinion, Jane would lock it up.”
This follows a lengthy Politico profile of Josh Mandel, the front-runner in that GOP Senate primary in Ohio, which ran on Friday.

Also from The Hill:
GOP Sen. John Boozman (Ark.) voted with former President Trump more than 91 percent of the time and snapped up an early 2022 endorsement and a donation from his PAC.

But as Boozman seeks a third term for his reliably red Senate seat, his primary opponents are coming after him by trying to paint themselves, and not the 71-year-old, as the real Trump candidate....

Jake Bequette, a former NFL player, is viewed as the biggest primary challenger for Boozman, who is still the front-runner in the race.

[Arkansas GOP strategist Robert] Coon said, “I wouldn't be sounding alarm bells yet, but I would definitely be taking this seriously” ...
At Politico, there's this:
Timothy Ramthun’s entry into Wisconsin’s gubernatorial primary last weekend was the car wreck no one could look away from.

His campaign is built around the preposterous idea the 2020 election could still be overturned — something even sympathetic Republicans here acknowledge is impossible.... His three-hour campaign kickoff featured the appearance of Mike Lindell, the pillow salesperson and conspiracy theorist....

The entire party has been erupting on a near-daily basis here. In recent weeks, several county parties have called on the state’s longtime Republican Assembly speaker, Robin Vos, to resign, accusing one of Wisconsin’s most reliable conservatives of doing too little to pursue baseless claims the 2020 election was rigged. Other local party leaders are objecting to — or considering ignoring — the state party’s endorsement process in critical midterm elections, arguing it’s exclusionary....

It’s an unusual level of dysfunction for a state party that not so long ago was regarded as a model for conservatism nationally.
Which complements this New York Times story:
... more than 15 months after former President Donald J. Trump lost [Wisconsin] by 20,682 votes, an increasingly vocal segment of the Republican Party is getting behind a new scheme: decertifying the results of the 2020 presidential election in hopes of reinstalling Mr. Trump in the White House....

The situation in Wisconsin may be the most striking example of the struggle by Republican leaders to hold together their party when many of its most animated voters simply will not accept the reality of Mr. Trump’s loss.
Is there still a Democratic Party in America? There was last time I checked, but Democrats seem to be invisible in all this horserace coverage. I know this is a year when Republicans are likely to win most of the close ones and Democrats are expected to get thumped across the country, but the press seems uninterested in Democratic contests, although we're frequently told that Democrats have an unusually large number of retirements. Are there any hot primaries in those districts with open seats? Are any interesting Democrats challenging incumbents anywhere else? If so, I'm not hearing much about it.

Well, America will probably be a one-party illiberal pseudo-democracy in a few years. It's good to know that our political press will still find ways to keep the horserace journalism tradition alive, by focusing on agitiation within America's only electable party.

Saturday, February 19, 2022


I don't normally pay much attention to American Thinker, which I regard as a C-list right-wing site (although it does have nearly five million site visits a month, so someone's reading it). Today, however, I learned from AT's Andrea Widburg that Donald Trump handled documents just fine -- and we know this because the folks at the National Archives who've criticized his document-handling practices are a bunch of big ol' commies.
The National Archives, which is controlled by a hard leftist cadre, very excitedly announced that President Donald Trump took classified information with him when he left the White House. The problem—which the AP reluctantly concedes—is that, as President, he had the final say over what’s classified.
Did he actually declassify every document he took with him? There's no record of that. But he could have. Maybe Widburg believes that a document instantly becomes declassified when a president steals it -- or perhaps it's just when a Republican president steals it.
As a predicate, the National Archives management has turned that government office into a purely leftist entity determined to advance all leftist causes, including destroying Donald Trump.
Wow! I missed this. I guess it's one of those Stories the LIE-beral Media Won't Tell You.
Recently, it was caught stating that the U.S. Constitution and all of America’s other founding documents contain “harmful content.” Why? Because they have “racist, sexist, misogynistic, and xenophobic opinions.”
Did the National Archives really say that all of America's founding documents contain "harmful content"? Let's go to Widburg's link, which is a story at The Federalist.
The National Archives [and] Records Administration placed a “harmful content” warning on the Constitution, labeling the governing document of the United States as “harmful or difficult to view.” The warning applies to all documents across the Archives’ cataloged website, including the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence.

“NARA’s records span the history of the United States, and it is our charge to preserve and make available these historical records,” the administration said in a statement. “As a result, some of the materials presented here may reflect outdated, biased, offensive, and possibly violent views and opinions. In addition, some of the materials may relate to violent or graphic events and are preserved for their historical significance.”
So the National Archives didn't say that all of America's founding documents contain harmful content. The National Archives includes the founding documents in a large collection of materials, some of which "may reflect outdated, biased, offensive, and possibly violent views and opinions" or "may relate to violent or graphic events" -- though they're sill made available.

But this is how truth works on the right. It's like one of those games you play as a kid: Someone tells you something and then you have to tell the next person, but in this version of the game, when you tell it, you have to change one key fact to make liberals seem more evil. So The Federalist is told that a large National Archives document collection, of which the founding documents are a part, has a warning label, and then The Federalist says that the National Archives "placed a 'harmful content' warning on the Constitution, labeling the governing document of the United States as 'harmful or difficult to view'" -- which isn't what the warning says about the Constitution specifically. Then The Federalist whispers this to the American Thinker, which says that all the founding documents have been labeled harmful. Isn't this a fun game?

Widburg continues:
Additionally, the National Archives management has concluded that the entire institution of the National Archives itself is structurally racist because it’s concerned with lauding the work of the White men who created our nation. You can read more about that insanity here.
Widburg links to a post she wrote last June, which in turn links to a Fox News story also written in June. That story tells us:
The National Archives' task force on racism claimed in a little-noticed report to the U.S.’s top librarian that the Archives' own Rotunda – which houses the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights – is an example of "structural racism" and that the Founding Fathers and other White, historically impactful Americans are portrayed too positively.

The report was completed in April and released this month but has so far flown under the media radar.
The April 2021 report, which is here, is the kind of self-assessment many corporations and other institutions have commissioned in recent years. It says, in part:
Examples of structural racism at NARA include, but are by no means limited to:

... ● a Rotunda in our flagship building that lauds wealthy White men in the nation’s founding while marginalizing BIPOC, women, and other communities.
But note that this report had such a radical impact on the National Archives and the Rotunda that no one in the media, including right-wing journalists, paid any attention to the contents of the report for two months. And no one, including the right-wing media, has talked about the report since. The Rotunda reopened last July after being shut down in response to the pandemic. It's open now. The founding documents are still there, along with large murals depicting white men.

Remind me again: What does this have to do with Donald Trump stealing classified documents? Oh, right: Liberals are history's greatest monsters, so it's categorically impossible for a right-winger to do anything wrong.

Friday, February 18, 2022


I keep thinking about the op-ed M.T. Anderson published in The New York Times a couple of days ago, in which he told us that labor shortages, rising prices, and onerous conditions for workers after the medieval Black Death led to unrest and upheaval.
In the years after the plague, all across Europe, landowners and noblemen watched, first in outrage, then in fury, as people walked away from their jobs and went in search of a better life. What followed was a hysterical wave of legislation that tried to return the economy to where it had been before the plague. Statutes and ordinances froze wages at pre-plague levels; they made it illegal to leave a master’s land, illegal to flee; they, in effect, made unemployment itself illegal....

Eventually, the pressure became too great. In the second half of the [fourteenth] century, violence erupted across Europe. Workers swarmed through the streets of the great towns. They burned manorial records and labor contracts. They destroyed any evidence of their service and their ties to the land....

Nobles, in turn, began burning villages and slaughtering laborers....

In England, popular resentment about taxation and outrageous inequities burst into vandalism and violence in the Great Rising of 1381. Mobs executed the chancellor and mounted his messily severed head up on London Bridge. They demanded the end of lordship and recognized no authority but the king’s.
Anderson thinks something similar could happen in the aftermath of our present plague, although he suspects that we're more likely to direct the anger at the wrong targets.
The mood of the country is dark and fundamentally splintered. If we do see spasms of violence, I predict they are less likely to resemble the revolutionary politics of the medieval uprisings than the feckless, irrational atrocities that often went on in the shadows of those uprisings, when mobs targeted out-groups: Jews, accused of poisoning wells; the Flemish, accused of stealing English jobs, some of whom were hunted down in the streets and killed on sight.
I think he's right, for the simple reason that the dominant anger of our era -- conservative rage -- is never directed at the rich because they control all the wealth and decide how we live and work. It's always directed at "elites" -- occasionally the rich, but frequently just the upper middle class or educated people -- for cultural reasons. Teachers are teaching critical race theory! "Woke" capitalists hired Colin Kaepernick to do an ad! Anthony Fauci wants you to wear a mask!

I thought about Anderson's op-ed when I read Michelle Goldberg's report from the Ottawa anti-vaxx blockade. Whether the demonstrators have right-wing rage or leftish leanings, they're responding to their pent-up frustrations with anger at the government.
When I asked Matthew Wall, a 36-year-old electrician from Manitoba, what brought him to this city, which has been overwhelmed by a giant protest encampment, he answered with one word: “Mushrooms.” Searching for his purpose in life, he said, he went on a psychedelic spiritual journey and had an image of the Freedom Convoy, a demonstration against Covid rules that has converged on the Canadian capital with trucks and other large vehicles.

“I’m here for the rights of our kids, for parents’ rights, for everyone’s rights,” said Wall. “So kids can live in a future where they don’t have to have something covering their face, lose emotion. You don’t have the human connection, don’t see them smile anymore. It’s dehumanizing.” His daughters, he told me, were seeing a school therapist weekly because of the emotional fallout of the pandemic. “You’re taking away the love!” he said.

... at the occupation, I met Dana Wilson, who told me was raised in Mississippi and had served in the U.S. military in Central America before moving to Canada in 1987. He gestured to a cluster of men nearby and said they were veterans as well, and that he was part of a group led by a retired colonel. “From a military man’s perspective, you want to talk jargon, this is the last hill,” he said, describing Trudeau as “a narcissistic globalist sociopath” who has used “medical tyranny” to control the population, all for profit.
Also see the piece Lili Loofbourow published in Slate this week:
In March of 2020, when the pandemic was just beginning, I wrote about the strange metaphors that began circulating as Americans—mostly though not exclusively conservative Americans—tried to figure out how to confront the coming threat.... They positioned the virus as the enemy and resisting it as continuing, uncowed, to eat at restaurants. Gathering at football games became heroic and dancing in bars patriotic....

I’m struck, looking back, by how completely and quickly the Us and the Them in the metaphor changed, even though the overall frame—of warfare in search of an enemy—remained. At the start, the virus was the bad guy. Now the villain is, depending on the sources you consult, Dr. Anthony Fauci, or Big Pharma, or Democrats, or liberal authoritarians, or Bill Gates.
This outrage, of course, is no longer confined to the right -- the "liberal" media, on the virus and on other subjects, is becoming decidedly post-liberal. It's prematurely declaring the pandemic over even as deaths remain over 2,000 a day. Post-liberal pundits hate the mandates and hate those of us who still wear masks, which they think we're doing as an act of tribal solidarity and not because we fear death, hospitalization, or long COVID.

THe virus is invisible, so we can't seem to tell ourselves that it's the enemy. Capitalism also seems invisible -- or so inevitable that it's impossible to fight. As Anderson notes in his piece, many of us are quitting jobs and there seems to be an uptick in labor agitation, but we don't seem likely to declare all-out war on the the capitalists. Instead, we're declaring war on "the authorities," and on liberalism, because government and liberalism are the dogs you can always kick.

Thursday, February 17, 2022


Mitch McConnell made some remarks on the Senate floor today, then posted them on his Senate website.
“For the first time in 12 years, an outright majority of Americans say crime has gotten worse in their area over the past year.

“Many Democrats have spent the last year and a half trying to defund police, smear law enforcement, and go soft on crime. As a result, innocent citizens have spent a year and a half watching murders, carjackings, and other violent crimes skyrocket.

“On Monday, my hometown of Louisville was stunned by what appears to have been an assassination attempt against a Jewish mayoral candidate by a prominent far-left activist who’d previously called for defunding our Police Department.

“This far-left Black Lives Matter activist and defund-the-police cheerleader walked into a Jewish Democrat’s campaign headquarters and opened fire.

“Obviously, every aspect of this is still under investigation, including the suspect’s mental condition.

“But guess what: He’s already been let out of jail.

“A left-wing bail fund partnered with BLM Louisville to bail him out.

“Less than 48 hours after this activist tried to literally murder a politician, the radical left bailed their comrade out of jail.
As New York magazine's Eric Levitz notes, "Through the American Rescue Plan, [President] Biden sent $350 billion in fiscal aid to states and cities. He then encouraged municipalities to invest those funds into expanding police departments. Nearly half of America’s 20 largest cities have followed Biden’s advice." So the leader of the Democratic Party called for the use of federal money to fund the police. And yet we're meant to infer that 100% of the rise in crime is Democrats' fault. It somehow has nothing to do with a massive rise in gun purchases cheered on by Republicans. It apparently isn't part of the same national pathology that's led to a sharp increase in attacks on store clerks and airline personnel, nearly all of which are the work of right-wingers.

And while McConnell doesn't refer to the shooting suspect as a Democrat, he says the man was bailed out by "the radical left" -- a phrase he last used a month ago when he suggested that President Biden might "outsource" the process of choosing a Supreme Court nominee to "the radical left."

McConnell's intended audience doesn't believe there's any daylight between "the radical left" and the Democrats -- or between "the radical left" and massive multinational corporations. He said today:
“Since 2020, a long list of prominent corporations have donated or pledged enormous amounts of money to the radical nationwide BLM parent organization.

“One wonders if any of their corporate money helped spring this would-be assassin from jail.
(One assumes that McConnell would raise no objection if a police union helped bail out if an officer who killed an unarmed Black civilian. But they're allowed to rally around their own. Black Lives Matter isn't.)

The suspect, Quintez Brown, was praised in the past by Democratic politicians, but he subsequently rejected both major parties. He wrote this last month:
The revolutionary consciousness of the masses must understand that the struggle against the negative forces of genocide and fascism will not end at the ballot box of the ruling class. Attempting to get within one of the two major parties has caused our leaders to become co-opted with their interests shunted to the background. They have become expendable.
He was not a Democrat at the time of the shooting. And his target was a Democrat. But McConnell wants his listeners to believe that Democrats are to blame for this -- not the fact that virtually anyone can obtain a gun in this country, not the fact that Brown had mental health issues, not the fact that he'd turned his back on change through the system and rejected the Democratic Party. Nope, it's all our fault.

McConnell said today:
“Now, I'm confident that if an activist claiming to be conservative tried to assassinate a politician, whatever his mental state, the media would open a 24-7 ‘national conversation’ about rhetoric on the right.

“Somehow I doubt attempted murder by a BLM activist will get that treatment.

“I doubt we’ll have a ‘national conversation’ about the constant chorus of powerful voices calling our society evil.
Did we have a national conversation when right-wing activists plotted to assassinate Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan? If so, I missed it.

But there's the problem: Republicans over the years have developed a narrative linking any pathology by anyone not on the right to every Democrat. Republican voters understand this narrative and don't need to have it explained to them. Democrats, on the other hand, rarely link the worst right-wingers to the Republican Party -- occasional figures in the party (Donald Trump, Marjorie Taylor Greene) might be identified with violent radicalism, but never, say, Mitch McConnell. But somehow it's Joe Biden's fault when a Democrat gets shot.