Sunday, May 22, 2022

RIGHT-WINGERS ARE ALREADY TELLING US MONKEYPOX ISN'T REAL

Monkeypox is barely a presence in America, and it may never be widespread here, but right-wing edgelords are already hard at work on monkeypox denialism. Here's Arizona state senator Wendy Rogers, an election truther who's a star on the right:


This is business as usual for Rogers, who never met a far-right conspiracy theory she didn't like -- she's also been proclaiming recently that she believes the federal government was responsible for the recent mass shooting in Buffalo -- but she's not alone. Here's an excerpt from a recent Gateway Pundit post:
With midterms fast approaching, Democrat approval ratings cratering out of control, the hysteria surrounding Covid-19 rapidly waning, it seemed like it was only a matter of time before another crisis developed that would help the Left reinstitute the tyrannical control mechanisms they used throughout the China-virus pandemic.

Well,now we have monkeypox – a viral infection that is traditionally mild and rare in humans – popping up all across the Western countries. Oddly enough, the virus is seemingly spreading from person to person like never before, leaving many people, including those in the scientific community, scratching their heads and asking themselves: ‘what is going on?’ Now, we are obviously a long way off from what we experienced with the last pandemic, but, either way – whether the origins of this more transmissible monkeypox virus are natural, or something else (like Covid-19, Wuhan, etc.) – the timing of this new outbreak is curious – to say the least....

The main concern with this latest outbreak is that the cases seem to be spreading through human-to-human transmission at an alarming rate. Traditionally, the virus has been zoonotic and normally has a hard time making the jump from animals to humans, so the new developments are worth keeping an eye on – especially with what Gates, Fauci, and the rest of the so-called ‘public health experts’ have been up to for the past few years.

Clearly, they are prepping the needles for more vaccinations, but what else is in store this time around?
And on Twitter, many people are spreading the mistaken notion that monkeypox is actually shingles, citing this as evidence:


When I first saw this, I assumed it was Photoshopped, but unfortunately it wasn't -- a photo of a shingles rash on the website of the health department of Queensland, Australia, was used to illustrate a 2021 post about monkeypox at TheHealthSite.com, a Mumbai-based medical information site. (There were a couple of monkeypox cases in the U.S. in 2021, which prompted the post.) A recent post at the same site is illustrated with an accurate photo of monkeypox on the skin, but the damage has been done.

I won't try to embed the tweets I'm seeing because Twitter (which Elon Musk doesn't own yet) might take them down, but here are some of the messages:
Make this viral. #Monkeypox is an adverse reaction from the clot shot. AKA... Shingles.
PLANDEMIC 2.0

****

Shingles.. sorry.. Monkey Pox

Not that Shingles is a side effect of any jab now is it?

****

So are they just going to rebrand shingles as Monkeypox the way they rebranded the flu as covid?

****

Of course...They use the same picture as if you won’t notice!

That’s how STUPID [they] think you are.

Don’t prove them right!

I know this has been brought to light already, but it’s so important to let it sink in how deceitful our #FakeNews has become...

😎#CanYouSeeItYet😎
(You know what actually can increase your risk of getting shingles? A COVID infection.)

Living in an idiocracy is exhausting. Let's hope that the monkeypox outbreaks are contained, because we're not ready -- to put it mildly -- for a new contagious disease crisis.

And yes, I know that a few days ago I predicted a different reaction from the right to monkeypox: that non-whites and LGBT people would be scapegoated for any outbreak, because the disease is usually seen in Africa, and because public health officials say it's spreading in Europe and elsewhere among gay and bisexual men. But the right can argue that monkeypox is dangerous and fake at the same time -- that's certainly happened with COVID. There's often a choose-your-own-adventure aspect to right-wing propaganda -- is Joe Biden a drooling old man who gets lost wandering the White House or is he the co-mastermind (with his son) of a vast moneymaking criminal enterprise? Well, he's both, obviously, as your right-wing relatives will tell you. If monkeypox speads in America, we'll hear that it's spread by gays and Blacks and that it's a fake disease. I hope we can avoid all this.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

43% APPROVAL MAN WILL SAVE THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY!

Excuse me while I repeatedly pound my head on my desk in response to this Politico story:
National Dems are calling in a new communications expert: Eric Adams

When New York City Mayor Eric Adams was asked whether he sees a place for himself on the 2024 presidential ticket, he gave an answer that fetes his current position without removing himself from the potential field.

“You could run the country from New York,” Adams said Thursday night in a local TV interview. “Why would you want to leave New York City?”
(Wait -- do you even live in New York City, Mr. Mayor?)
But the city’s 110th mayor, who took office in January, is assuming a more influential role in the national Democratic Party as a leader whose motto is “get stuff done” while communicating those accomplishments to voters. Case in point: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, just had Adams speak at the DCCC’s Chairman’s Issues Conference and Weekend in the city on Saturday.

“Mayors don’t have the luxury of talking about problems — they have to go fix them,” Maloney said in a statement to POLITICO. “Eric Adams is a guy who has taken action while a lot of politicians are still talking. He brings a valuable perspective to our party and shows how Democrats can tackle all the important challenges and issues without falling victim to the false choices.”
But Adams isn't "communicating ... accomplishments to voters" in New York City. According to a Quinnipiac poll released earlier this month, Adams has a job approval rating of only 43% (37% disapprove, 20% have no opinion), and he has negative ratings on crime, homelessness, and the city budget.

But Pelosi and Maloney have reached out to Adams for the same reason that D.C.-based Democratic leaders do everything: because they still think it's 1988 or 1992 and allowing right-wingers to set the terms of every debate is the only way to survive. Democratic leaders take every conservative critique of their party seriously and ignore every critique from progressives in their own party. So their current polling woes can't possibly be because they haven't passed Build Back Better or canceled debt -- it must be because a handful of Democrats said "Defund the Police" two years ago.
He ... reinforced a moderate path for the party in rebuke of the more progressive actors who’ve supported the movement to defund the police and attack corporations.

“If we do not have the courage to admit public safety needs police, prosperity needs the private sector, and this country needs big changes, then we will not have the credibility to lead,” Adams said.
Right, because capitalism has worked so well for people in the 21st century. If you don't count the dot-com crash, the painfully slow recovery from the Great Recession, the current wave of inflation, and the decades-long decline in the share of national wealth that goes to the non-rich, capitalism seems awesome!

I think Defund the Police was an offputting message, a terrible way to frame what was a popular idea two years ago: that there's serious police abuse that needs to stop. It's true that most people, including people of color, want traditional policing -- but they want it without the brutality. Adams actually won the mayor's race by appearing to hit a sweet spot: He's an ex-cop who said he was a victim of police mistreatment as a young man, and he seemed to advocate reform as well as law and order. But as mayor he's abandoned the idea of reform.

As for capitalism, who apart from the Masters of the Universe themselves, and the politicians who desperately want their money, actually likes it anymore? Even Republicans know now that they get loud rounds of applause when they attack big corporations (although they don't really want to change their overall approach to the rich, as long as the rich defer to them politically).

Adams, we're told, has his eye on the White House.
Adams’ national political ambitions don’t stop at speeches.

While his recent fundraising trips to Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami are ostensibly geared toward a second mayoral term, they’re really about building an infrastructure for a White House run, according to a political strategist close to the mayor’s orbit.

“He’s laying the groundwork,” the strategist, who spoke on condition of anonymity to freely discuss the mayor, said in an interview. “I don’t know if he’s actually going to do it for 2024 or 2028, but he’s meeting national donors and national people and it’s to build a donor network and an apparatus.”
Is there some kind of Dunning-Kruger virus in the water at Gracie Mansion? First Bill De Blasio ignored his own lack of even local popularity to run for president, and now this guy. (Mike Bloomberg, too.)

No Politico story of this kind is complete without a quote from a Democratic politcal consultant who confidently explains The Way To Win without having a strong record of actually winning:
... Lis Smith, a Democratic strategist who helped take Pete Buttigieg from the mayor of a mid-sized Indiana town to the presidential campaign stage, said Adams would be a strong White House contender.

“Eric Adams is a Democrat who can appeal to voters across different racial, economic and educational demographics,” Smith said in an interview. “And that’s a voice we really need in the Democratic Party right now — especially when we are at risk of becoming a party that only appeals to people with college degrees.”
Yes, you read that right: We're being told how Democrats can avoid being seen as "a party that only appeals to people with college degrees" by a former adviser to Pete Buttigieg.

Democratic leadership can't abandon the idea that tacking to the center will solve all problems, even though it never works. I'd say this was a generational problem, but Sean Patrick Maloney is only 55. The elders are determined to pass the torch only to like-minded younger Democrats. Oh well -- I suppose someone has to preside over the party's ultimate demise.

Friday, May 20, 2022

PELOSI'S ARCHBISHOP IS A POLITICIAN IN ROBES

It's an election year, so certain showboating Catholic priests are doing this again:
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone announced on Friday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should not be admitted to Holy Communion in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, nor should she present herself to receive the Eucharist, until she publicly repudiates her support for abortion.

Cordileone said on May 20 that the step was “purely pastoral, not political” ...
If you believe that, I have a world-famous fog-shrouded bridge to sell you.

Cordileone has been the archibishop of San Francisco since 2012. Why does he say he's doing this now?
“This is the fruit of years of prayer, fasting and consultation with a broad spectrum of Church leaders whom I respect for their intelligence, wisdom and pastoral sensitivity, and it continues my efforts to invite the Speaker down the path of conversion,” Cordileone wrote. “I have debated within my conscience for years what the right thing is to do and, although unpleasant, I’m at peace in my conscience with this decision.”
The election cycle and the impending overturn of Roe v. Wade have nothing whatsoever to do with this!

Not that this is the bishop's first attack on Pelosi.
The archbishop launched a prayer campaign in September 2021 aimed at inspiring “a conversion of heart” among politicians supporting abortion, “beginning with the leader of the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi.”

Cordileone urged Catholics to sign up for the “Rose and Rosary for Nancy” campaign, which delivered thousands of roses to the speaker as a symbol of prayer and fasting for the 82-year-old mother of five.
Cordileone accused Pelosi of participating in a "culture of death" in the $50,000 online ad campaign -- your collection plate dollars at work!



At the time, SFist noted,
The campaign also says that if you sign their online petition, “a rose will be sent to her as a symbol of your prayer and fasting for her."

Yeah, about that. Even the hard-right Daily Caller admits that the campaign cannot get enough roses to match the signature count. When the petition hit 3,500 signatures on October 1, the campaign’s executive director told the Daily Caller, “We couldn’t locate 3,500 roses to send today but we will get them to her.” (They did deliver 1,000 roses.)
Cordileone is a full-service right-winger. In 2008, when he was the auxiliary bishop of San Diego, he helped draft and raise funds for California's Proposition 8, which amended the state's constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Four years later (and just after a DUI), Cordileone barred an Episcopal bishop who had opposed Prop 8 from his installation as archbishop.

In 2018, Cordileone defended Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the highest-profile antagonist of Pope Francis, when he called on the pope to resign.

In 2020, Cordileone began railing against COVID health restrictions on indoor worship; a church in his archdiocese that conducted an indoor wedding in violation of the restrictions became the center of an outbreak. (Late last year, Cordileone announced that he's not vaccinated.)

And in 2020, Cordileone performed the rite of exorcism in response to the removal of statues of Junípero Serra, the Franciscan missionary, who was guilty of brutal treatment of Natives in California.

Pope Francis doesn't believe in withholding Communion. But that's not Cordileone's approach -- especially in an election year.

THAT FREE-SPEECH SLOPE GOT SLIPPERY AWFULLY FAST

We were assured that America's new book banners aren't really book banners -- they just want certain books out of school libraries, and don't want access to the books prohibited altogether. Maybe so. But they're beginning to move beyond school libraries now. Publishers Lunch reports:
The Virginia Beach Circuit Court issued preliminary orders finding "probable cause to believe" that two books -- A COURT OF MIST AND FURY by Sarah J. Maas and GENDER QUEER by Maia Kobabe -- are deemed "obscene for unrestricted viewing by minors" under Virginia state law. The authors or publishers have 21 days to respond to the allegations.
Gender Queer is of course, a frequent target of attacks. A Court of Mist and Fury (the second of four books in the fantasy series A Court of Thorn and Roses) is a less frequent target; it does appear to be spicy ("His fingers slid down, slow and brazen, straight through the core of me, and every point in my body, my mind, my soul, narrowed to the feeling of his fingers poised there like he had all the time in the world").
The orders are the result of agitation by two local politicians: Attorney Tim Anderson, a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, petitioned the court on behalf of his client Tommy Altman, a candidate in the Republican congressional primary, Book Riot reported. Anderson and Altman have requested temporary restraining orders against the sale of the books, which they name as being available from the local Hampton Roads "Barnes and Nobel [sic] and through Amazon," as well as lending through Virginia Beach Schools, looking to "enjoin them from selling or loaning these books to minors without parent consent," Anderson said on his Facebook page.
In addition to being an attorney, Anderson is a gun shop owner (naturally). He was once ordered to take on fifteen pro bono cases after it was discovered that he'd impersonated a judge in a phone call to his office staff. He has also defended state senator Amanda Chase, who was censured last year in a bipartisan vote for, among other things, defending the January 6 insurrection in Washington.

Altman is an combat veteran and owner of Sandbridge Tattoo, where the work product might occasionally strike some viewers as ocassionally strike some viewers as not particularly family-friendly.






If you want a quick sense of Altman's politics, I can tell you that the headings on the "Issues" page of his campaign website are GOVERNMENT OVERREACH, CRITICAL THEORY, 2ND AMENDMENT, ELECTION SECURITY AND VOTER INTEGRITY, BORDER SECURITY, PRO LIFE and PRO MILITARY, PRO POLICE.

More from Publishers Lunch:
The TRO motion for A COURT OF MIST AND FURY requests "stopping 'the sale or distribution to minors by any person who publishes, sells, rents, lends, transports in intrastate commerce or commercially distributes or exhibits the book...'," according to The Virginian-Pilot.

The order references revisions to Virginia legal code that went into effect on January 1, which states "When an order to show cause is issued pursuant to this article...the court may issue a temporary restraining order against the sale or distribution of the book alleged to be obscene." Anyone "interested in the sale or commercial distribution of the book" can file a response defending the book, and unrelated parties can file an answer amicus curiae. Once a response is filed, a hearing will be called to present evidence and expert testimony. If no one files a response, the court may judge that the book is obscene, except for a "restricted category of persons to whom the book is not obscene."
So, yes, we're a few feet farther down the slippery slope.

And:
The initial suits are part of a much larger plan (or plot). In a Facebook video, Anderson said, "As parents, you should be now considering, instead of going to school boards, going to courts. We have identified a path to bring courts online and parents who are interested in bringing these fights need to now start taking these complaints to their courts."
Full book bans are coming. These people may proceed in a stepwise fashion, but they won't stop until they're stopped.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

UNPOPULARISM ON STEROIDS: THE ABORTION IDEA EVERYONE HATES ISN'T HURTING THE GOVERNOR ASSOCIATED WITH IT

A new poll confirms that most Americans want abortion to remain legal:
About two-thirds of Americans say they do not support overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal in the United States, according to the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.
Most Americans support some restrictions on abortion -- but they oppose the most draconian laws that are on the books in Republican states or are likely to be passed.

The poll asked respondents several questions in this form:
The following are possible changes to abortion laws in several states around the country. Please tell me if you support or oppose ...
Here are the results, in decreasing order of popularity:
a law that allows abortion at any time during pregnancy if it is necessary to protect the life or health of the pregnant person: support 82%, oppose 16

a law that would provide safe haven for people seeking abortions from out of state: support 63%, oppose 33%

a law that allows abortion at any time during pregnancy in cases of rape or incest: support 63%, oppose 35%

a law that allows abortions, but only up to 15 weeks of pregnancy except for medical emergencies or when there is something severely wrong with the fetus: support 48%, oppose 49%

a law that allows prescription drugs that induce an abortion to be sent through the mail: support 47%, oppose 51%

a law that allows abortions, but only up to the time there is viability outside the womb at about 24 weeks: support 34%, oppose 60%

a law that allows abortions, but only up to the time cardiac activity is detected about 6 to 8 weeks into pregnancy: support 27%, oppose 69%

a law that makes it a crime requiring fines and/or prison time for doctors who perform abortions: support 21%, oppose 75%
And now for the least popular of all the proposals surveyed:
a law that allows private citizens to sue abortion providers or anyone who assists a pregnant person in getting an abortion: support 17%, oppose 80%
Nobody likes this idea: 69% of Republicans oppose it, as do 67% of Trump voters, 69% of white male non-college graduates, 78% of rural voters, and even 69% of Evangelical Christians.

And yet Greg Abbott, the governor who signed a bill to make this the law in the seemingly purple state of Texas, has led in every reelection poll against a popular, well-financed challenger, according to Real Clear Politics. He's currently averaging a lead of 6.7 points.

Maybe political success isn't the result of having the most popular policies. Maybe Will Stancil is right:
Politicians and political thinkers, particularly in liberal circles, often talk about elections and politics as if they are centered around a handful of core topics: the economy, health care, immigration, taxes. Voters don’t care about the day-to-day drama of Washington, D.C., this theory says. Instead, their attention is focused on an unchanging set of issues — mostly things that affect their personal lives. The way to win these voters over, the reasoning continues, is to propose policies that will address these core concerns....

That means no self-respecting Democrat would be caught dead without a detailed policy platform. Media appearances and campaign ads are treated as opportunities to zero in on topics that “everyday Americans care about,” not to fulminate against opponents or pick culture-war battles. This produces campaigns built around sober, economically oriented and slightly dull themes: prescription drug pricing, or how many jobs a new law will produce....

Across the aisle, obviously, a different ethos has prevailed. Republicans have adopted an aggressive, freewheeling politics that tends to center anything sufficiently lurid, enraging, frightening or energizing: Socialism, “the caravan,” Ebola, Doctor Seuss, critical race theory. The list goes on and on.

... election results do not suggest that Democrats have a smarter approach. The party has run slightly ahead in most recent elections, but hardly by a margin that suggests they have a powerful fundamental advantage — and certainly not enough to consistently overcome the structural hurdles facing them in the Senate and Electoral College.
Or as David Roberts characterizes the two parties:


Republicans support unpopular proposals -- on abortion, guns, the minimum wage, taxation of the rich, the elimination of public schools -- yet it's the Democrats who are terrified that some policy ideas that some party members support, or perhaps supported at one time, will lead to the party's complete and utter ruin at the ballot box. Republicans never worry about this, and they apparently never need to. Supporting unpopular stuff doesn't seem to hurt them, because they support it at the top of their lungs. Voters may not agree with the policies, but they respond to the righteous indignation and the sheer lack of self-doubt. Perhaps Democrats should try supporting good policies with that level of self-confidence.

PLEASE, NO HAND-WRINGING ABOUT JOSH SHAPIRO'S DOUG MASTRIANO ADS

During the gubernatorial primary campaign that ended on Tuesday in Pennsylvania, Democrat Josh Shapiro, the favorite to win his primary, ran ads portraying Republican candidate Doug Mastriano as too extreme and Trumpy to win. Mastriano went on to win on the Republican side, and now he and Shapiro will face off in November. The New Republic's Alex Shepard frets that Shapiro might have made a big mistake.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. An erratic, buffoonish Republican with dangerous ideas is rising in the polls and surging into contention in his party primary. Democrats ... see the more extreme candidate as an easy mark and boost his candidacy. In some instances, they open their own wallets, spending big on elaborate ad buys that help him broaden his appeal with primary voters. This guy, after all, is too crazy to win the general election, right?

Much of what I’ve described above is, basically, the plot of the movie Trump ’16....

Six years later, Democrats find themselves facing the same set of perverse incentives in the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race.

... the Shapiro campaign ... spent more than $800,000 on ads that, according to Politico, “attacked Mastriano as too conservative for voters ... which actually boosted him on the right....Case in point: The ad called [Mastriano] ‘one of Donald Trump’s strongest supporters’—which, to many GOP primary voters, is a feature, not a bug.”
But there wasn't a well-funded Democratic campaign to promote Trump in 2016. Some Democrats thought he was the easiest candidate to beat, but no one ran millions of dollars of ads (which would be the national equivalent of Shapiro's ad buy) defining Trump in the way Shapiro defined Mastriano.

Shapiro's ads might have driven more Mastriano voters to the polls, but even Shepard acknowledges that they didn't put him over the top.
Naturally, the ads weren’t necessarily the difference-maker in a primary Mastriano won by more than twenty points.
Although Shepard subsequently walks back his own concession of this point.
The 2022 midterms are ... likely to be a bloodbath for Democrats—Republicans are angry and they’ll be out to repudiate Joe Biden and his party. It’s not a great environment for them to engineer the nomination of a candidate who’s promised to subvert a presidential election if he’s given the chance.
So which is it? Would Mastriano have won without Shapiro's intervention -- which is what the numbers suggest -- or did Shapiro "engineer" his primary victory?

It's not as if any of the choices on the GOP side were palatable. As The Bulwark pointed out last month, all five of the serious contenders in the GOP primary -- Mastriano, Lou Barletta, Bill McSwain, Dave White, and Jake Corman -- were 2020 election conspiracists. Barletta, the only candidate apart from Mastriano who ever held a lead in the polls, is an immigration hard-liner who made his name as a mayor in 2006 for backing one of the most draconian anti-immigrant laws in America.

Manipulating the other side's primary has worked in the past. In 2012, Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill ran $2 million worth of ads in the Republican primary and got the extreme opponent she wanted, Todd Akin. Akin's campaign imploded when he asserted that women don't get pregnant as a result of "legitimate rape," and McCaskill won.

Intervention also worked for Richard Nixon in 1972. His campaign's dirty tricks drove a strong Democratic candidate, Ed Muskie, out of the race. George McGovern, a weaker opponent, went on to lose 49 states in the general election.

The seemingly weak Republican won the presidency in 2016 largely because so many people, particularly in the mainstream media, hated the Democrat. In 2016, Hillary Clinton made mistakes, and she was fighting to prevent a party shift in control of the White House that normally takes place after two terms, but she lost because so many people irrationally despise her.

If Josh Shapiro doesn't have a similar burden in Pennsylvania, then this gambit might work.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

ARE WE READY FOR THE POTENTIAL POLITICIZATION OF MONKEYPOX?

This seems like the last thing we need:
A Massachusetts resident has tested positive for monkeypox, health officials confirmed Wednesday, making it the first case of the rare virus detected in the United States this year.

According to a release from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the patient is an adult male who recently traveled to Canada....

It comes after four more cases of monkeypox were identified in the U.K recently, bringing the nationwide total to nine since the beginning of May.
The pox got its name because it was first discovered in colonies of monkeys who were being kept for research. However, experts say it's spread primarily by rodents. There is person-to-person transmission, but it has never spread efficiently among people -- it's not COVID.
Up until this current outbreak, a person sick with monkeypox spreads the virus to between zero and one person, on average. So all previous outbreaks (up until now) burned themselves out quickly.

"You have primary cases, in which people get monkeypox from an animal, and they may transmit the disease a few generations — but then that's it," she says. "The outbreaks tend to be self-limiting."

"There is no evidence, to date, that person-to-person transmission alone can sustain monkeypox infections in the human population," the World Health Organization wrote in 2019.
On the other hand:
Scientists don't know yet if the rate of transmission has increased in this current outbreak. That enhanced transmission is one reason why the current outbreak appears to have spread through the community in three cities.
When outbreaks have occurred, they've mostly been in West and Central Africa, although there was a small outbreak in America in 2003.

But we had a Republican president then, so no one used the disease to score political points, the way Republicans used a handful of cases of Ebola to attack President Obama and Democrats just before the 2014 midterms.
In early October [2014], the GOP developed a plan to make the federal government's response to Ebola a central part of its midterm elections strategy. Television media played into Republicans' hands, helping to foment panic about the disease. Following the diagnosis of a handful of U.S. Ebola patients, the major broadcast networks ran nearly 1,000 segments about the virus in the four weeks leading up to the elections. Coverage of the disease plummeted in the two weeks following Election Day, with the same networks running fewer than 50 total segments.
Of course, Ebola was almost universally lethal, while monkeypox appears to have a case fatality rate of approximately 10%. But that still means it's frightening -- and our worst outbreak is associated with a country where non-whites live.
In 2003, 47 confirmed and probable cases were reported in six U.S. states, the first human cases reported outside of Africa.

All the infections occurred after coming into contact with pet prairie dogs, which in turn became infected "after being housed near imported small mammals from Ghana," the CDC stated.
The most popular host on the most influential news organization in America regularly accuses non-white foreigners of spreading dirt in America. On Tucker Carlson's TV show in 2018, he said that admitting immigrants to America "makes our country poorer and dirtier and more divided." He told The Atlantic in 2019 that the Potomac River "has gotten dirtier and dirtier and dirtier and dirtier. I go down there and that litter is left almost exclusively by immigrants." Meanwhile, his colleagues regularly describe immigrants as spreaders of disease.


So if America has an outbreak, the response will be xenophobic. But wait, it gets worse.
... Britain’s Health Security Agency ... said recent cases had been seen “predominantly in gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men,” although it noted it was unclear how exactly people had been infected.

Monkeypox has not previously been documented to have spread through sex, but can be transmitted through close contact with infected people, their clothing or bedsheets.

Earlier this week the UK agency reported four cases of monkeypox they said had been spread among gay and bisexual men in London....

Health authorities in Spain’s central Madrid region said late on Wednesday that they were assessing 23 possible cases of monkeypox. They noted that all of the suspected cases are young men and that the majority of them had sex with other men.
If there's an outbreak here and it resembles the ones in Europe in any way, it will be blamed on the Biden administration, on liberalism, and on gay men and foreigners. It doesn't have to be widespread -- eleven Ebola cases in the U.S. in 2014 led to a thousand TV news segments. This could get ugly.

ARE WE ANY BETTER OFF WITH MADISON CAWTHORN'S REPLACEMENT?

I know a lot of you are thrilled that Madison Cawthorn lost his primary yesterday. But state senator Chuck Edwards, the candidate who beat Cawthorn and who's likely to win the general election, is no prize.

Here he is in 2020 trying to punish communities that tried to reallocate money in police budgets.
While his political opponent calls the move a "cheap political stunt," Chuck Edwards' vow to defund Asheville if it defunds police is a real possibility.

After Asheville City Council voted Sept. 22 to defund police by 3% — actually more of a reallocation of funding to other areas — state Sen. Chuck Edwards, R-Hendersonville, announced plans to enter legislation to defund cities that defund their police departments in the upcoming 2021 General Assembly session.

Edwards, who represents the 48th Senate District in the legislature, said his idea is a dollar-for-dollar reduction, a reaction to a council action he calls "reckless."

Edwards' Democratic opponent, Mills River Mayor Pro-tem Brian Caskey, says what Asheville has done is reallocate spending to more appropriate areas, while removing the weight of responsibilities such as animal control from the Police Department.

(Source for bill.)

Here he is in 2021 sponsoring legislation that would force sheriffs to cooperate with ICE. Here he is defending his ongoing efforts to make voting more difficult in North Carolina.

Here he is campaigning at a crisis pregnancy center, a place that advertises itself as offer services to those who are pregnant, but steadfastly rejects the option of abortion:




He has an A+ rating from the NC Values Coalition, which rails against abortion and "the insanity of transgender ideology" -- oh, and Critical Race Theory, too.



In addition, he has an A rating from the National Rifle Association, and for five years in a row he's won the "Conservative Excellence Award" from the American Conservative Union, the folks who run CPAC.

And he can demagogue on nothingburger issues that become right-wing media obsessions:



So, sure, he's no Madison Cawthorn. He's an ordinary Republican. But that's not much better.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

HENRY OLSEN IS WORRIED ABOUT FIREARM BLOODSHED, BUT NOT BECAUSE OF THE FIREARM BLOODSHED

Henry Olsen, a right-wing columnist at The Washington Post, is worried about gun violence.
This weekend’s spate of mass shootings is a depressingly familiar blot on our nation. It’s long past time for political leaders at all levels of government to work to reverse the spiraling trend.
Amazing! A conservative is saying this!

Olsen adds:
The National Rifle Association and other Second Amendment advocates should lead the way.
Try to contain your snickering.

But Olsen is really, really concerned.
... This is not merely a price of freedom. It is a growing epidemic that threatens to undermine the trust and security that make a free society possible.
What does he mean by that? We'll find out later.
... Economist Herb Stein coined a law that bears his name: If something cannot go on forever, it will stop. That’s as true in this case as it is in economics. Eventually, Americans will refuse to tolerate mass murder as a regular occurrence.
Will we? We've tolerated a million COVID deaths in the past two years. We tolerate economic inequality, police brutality, an epidemic of opioid deaths, staggering medical and education debt, and a complete lack of accountability for corporate malefactors like the ones who destroyed the economy in 2008 -- and by "tolerate" I mean that many of us are desperate for solutions but don't see any way to get them, while others simply don't care about the problems (or want them to continue).
Left to fester long enough, such violence will likely force people to reconsider support for the Second Amendment itself and acquiesce in its judicial evisceration. That is even likelier to happen if those who champion the private use of guns cannot bring themselves to condemn and limit their deadly abuse.

... There’s a saying in Washington: You’re either at the table or you’re on the menu. The longer gun ownership advocates stay away from the table, the likelier core freedoms will be devoured.
Okay, now we see what's really bothering Olsen. He's not worried about the ever-increasing death toll from gun violence. He's worried that this violence will inspire swing voters to turn against gun-absolutist judges and the politicians who appoint them, otherwise known as "Republicans."

Conventional wisdom tells us that we can't regulate firearms because of the gun industry's stranglehold on the GOP. I no longer believe that. The gun industry just isn't big enough. It doesn't give enough money to Republicans to have that kind of control over GOP politics. I believe we can't regulate firearms because the Republican Party and its really rich backers in other industries know that the gun issue drives GOP voters to the polls. Even for heartland white voters who might support universal background checks or red flag laws, support for gun control is a culture marker: If you're a politician or candidate who backs restrictions on guns, these voters look at you and say, One of them, not one of us, and reliably turn out to vote against you.

Olsen knows this. He's worried that endless carnage might turn middle-of-the-road voters against the party that provides all that deregulation of big business and all those tax cuts for the rich. That's what has him worked up, not the death toll.

THE MOST RACIST PART OF TUCKER CARLSON'S MONOLOGUE LAST NIGHT WAS HIS DENUNCIATION OF RACISM

Tucker Carlson addressed the Buffalo shooting last night on his Fox News broadcast.



He's a clever guy. He begins with whataboutism, citing crime figures from elsewhere in the country over the weekend, as if to say the Buffalo shooting was nothing special. He lies about the shooter's manifesto, knowing that most people in his audience can't find it on the Internet and won't ever read it:
You've probably heard this document described as a racist manifesto. But that's not quite right. It's definitely racist, bitterly so. Gendron reduces people to their skin color. That's the essence of racism, and it's immoral. But what he wrote does not add up to a manifesto. It is not a blueprint for a new extremist political movement, much less the potential inspiration for a racist revolution. Anyone who claims that it is lying or hasn’t read it.... It’s not really political at all. The document is crazy. It’s the product of a diseased and unorganized mind.... He writes like the mental patient he is -- disjointed, irrational, paranoid.
This is Carlson trying to get politics -- specifically, his own politics -- off the hook. He wants his viewers to believe that the document is full of incoherent tinfoil-hat ramblings, maybe about aliens sending signals through dental fillings. It isn't. It's a classic manifesto, self-consciously so:

But this isn't the most offensive part of the monologue.

As he's wrapping up, Carlson tries to position himself as the enemy of racism, a person who'd never dream of "reduc[ing] people to their skin color." He defines absolute race blindness as the only moral approach to politics. He says:
All race politics is bad, no matter what flavor those politcs happen to be. No race politics is better than any other. All of it is poison.
Carlson is literally saying here that there is no moral difference between Martin Luther King and Adolf Hitler. I know he'd deny this, citing the only King quotation right-wingers know, the one about "the content of their character." (Yes, it comes up elsewhere in the monologue.) He'd argue that King wasn't engaged in "race politics." But of course King was engaged in "race politics" -- what choice did he have? How else to fight racism except with "race politics"?

Carlson continues:
Race politics subsumes the individual into the group. It erases people. It dehumanizes them. Race politics elevates appearance over initiative and decency, and all the other God-given qualities that makes every person of every color unique yet morally equal to every other person. And above all, race politics always makes us hate each other, and always in a very predictable way. So let's say you were to make identity politcs mandatory in your country -- as they have. How could you be surprised when that leads, as it inevitably will, to white identity politics? Well, you could not be surprised. You did it, and it was always going to happen. And then what happens next? Nothing good. Race politics is a sin. Race politics always leads to violence and death.
So the real culprits in the Buffalo shooting were anti-racists. Anti-racism is the real killer, because anti-racism always kills.

Carlson goes on to suggest that anti-racism will turn America into Rwanda during the worst of the ethnic violence. Maybe he wants to scare his viewers into believing that we're already there.

Meanwhile, he pats himself on the back for being a person who doesn't practice "race politics," who's horrified when people are judged on skin color, and he suggests that his audience, and the real America, just want race blindness and always have. This is a devious monologue, as most of Carlson's monologues are. He's very good at twisting facts. In this monologue, he's at his most racist when he seems to be making his most pious denunciations of racism.

Monday, May 16, 2022

ATLANTIC TERRORISM EXPERT: TUCKER CARLSON IS FAR TOO MORAL TO AGREE WITH THE BUFFALO SHOOTER!

Graeme Wood is a terrorism expert whose 2015 Atlantic article "What ISIS Really Wants" was used by right-wingers and centrists alike as a stick to beat then-President Obama with, at a time when Obama was committing the unpardonable sins of (a) not rallying America to a high level of chest-thumping outrage over ISIS and (b) denying that ISIS practiced genuine Islam. Obama wanted to downplay the conflict between the West and ISIS in order not to rally more people to ISIS's side, and while he may have been slow off the mark, he set in motion a campaign that gradually degraded ISIS, as it was intended to do. America's horror at ISIS's outrages faded, Wood's subsequent book on jihadists was not a bestseller, and he retreated to the company of fellow terrorism researchers.

Now Wood has read Buffalo mass shooter Payton Gendron's manifesto, and his expert opinion is: It's so tacky.
It is written ... casually (“plz” for please, and other bits of 4chan jargon), and it clears the very low bar of being a more engaging read than the Unabomber’s. Perhaps the presence of graphics, cartoons, and jokes—however unfunny—make it more likely to draw readers in. But I doubt they will convince anyone. I found on nearly every page of the Buffalo manifesto evidence of profound moral deformity, and inability to think about history, science, race, or humanity in sophisticated and adult ways. It is pathetic, stupid, and witless....

Suppressing this manifesto is in some ways an act of kindness to its author, who comes across as a crass amateur who learned his history from cartoons and 4chan.
Yes, a manifesto written by a gauche autodidact couldn't possibly persuade anyone to follow in the author's footsteps ... except, um, it already did: Gendron's manifesto borrows heavily from the manifesto of Brenton Tarrant, who killed 51 people at two mosques in New Zealand in 2019 -- one estimate says it's at least two-thirds plagiarized. Clearly that document inspired Gendron, so it's safe to assume Gendron's version will inpsire other racists.

Wood finds that implausible; he thinks Gendron's work is far too tacky to serve as inspiration for a future mass murderer. Wood is much kinder to Tucker Carlson.
Many have noted the similarity between the Buffalo shooter’s “Great Replacement” theory—that liberals are trying to replace the current electorate with new, more obedient voters from the Third World—and theories espoused on Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News. This is because Carlson has said (I quote from his show), that liberals are “trying to replace the current electorate with new, more obedient voters from the Third World.” The existence of this belief cannot be suppressed. It is on social media; it is on Fox News. But I rarely see it expressed in a form as repulsive as the one it takes in this manifesto, with its images of hook-nosed, “demonic” Jews and grotesque, animalistic caricatures of Black people. If Carlson aired these images, he would be fired during the first commercial break, and aghast viewers would return from their reverse-mortgage ads to find a stricken-looking Sean Hannity, hastily wheeled out from his makeup station to pull a double shift.
Really? Would Carlson be fired? Or would Fox simply announce the next day that he was embarking on a two-week vacation -- previously scheduled, of course! -- after which he'd return once our attention was directed elsewhere?

Wood believes that racism at this level would horrify Carlson!
I think Carlson himself would be repulsed by these images—and for the sake of all, including his soul, I would like him to distinguish his views from those expressed this weekend. Does he believe that Jews controlled the slave trade and owned 78 percent of enslaved people in the United States? ... Does he consider Black people subhumans fit only for child abandonment and crime? How does his version of the Great Replacement differ from the one in the manifesto, which considers the history of race in America a colossal and genocidal crime against white people? ...

Suppressing this manifesto ... is unfair to Carlson, who may struggle to deny his association with a killer whose words are hidden from the public. He deserves his chance to explain why his views are not just genteel versions of the manifesto, especially because many of those in a position to analyze and summarize the manifesto hate him.

... if I were Carlson, nothing would make me squirmier than the knowledge that the author of this irredeemable nonsense might have thought I was onto something.
Has Graeme Wood ever watched Tucker Carlson? Has he ever read a transcript of a Tucker Carlson segment? Because the pre-Fox Carlson published journalism in elite magazines and the Fox News Carlson exhibits a verbal fluency that suggests education and some breeding, does Wood assume he's smarter than Gendron and therefore more moral? Does Wood, an elite journalist, think fellow elitists can't be as immoral as the proletarian Gendron, by definition?

Carlson doesn't traffic in the crudest forms of racism and anti-Semitism. There are no "demonic" Jewish caricatures on his show, no "animalistic" caricatures of Blacks. But we can guess that Carlson avoids these largely because they're not quite socially acceptable, even in the right-wing media bubble. Trafficking in them would hurt his career, and he's nothing if not a careerist.

We can guess how Carlson might talk about Jews and (especially) Blacks if he thought he could get away with it, because we know how he talked about Muslims on the Bubba the Love Sponge show in 2006, a time when it was acceptable to describe Muslim as less than human, even in polite society:
You know, I'm not defending the war in any way, but I just have zero sympathy for them or their culture. A culture where people just don't use toilet paper or forks.

... The second we -- they can just shut the fuck up and obey, is my view. And, you know, the second we leave, they’re going to be calling for us to return because they can’t govern themselves.
Carlson might not say in public what Gendron says about Blacks and Jews, but we have no reason to assume his racism is in any way different. There are very good reasons to believe his view are genteel versions of the manifesto.

WE SHOULD POLL SOME MORE CONSPIRACY THEORIES

I went to the comments section of a Daily Wire thread on the Buffalo shooting. A lot of folks seem to have the same idea:
Democratic propagated to attack the 2A

****

I'm willing to bet the top dogs of the left would go so far as to hire a leftist and be told to pose as a white supremacists and call themselves a neo nazi just to try and stir more division, then give it to the msm to report on it for weeks. I don't put anything past their imaginations. They know they're losing, so desperate times call for desperate measures. That's my opinion anyway.

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This was literally my first thought. How convenient for a leftist narrative at a time like this. I wouldn’t put it past them for one second based off their behavior and actions these past few years especially.

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Along the same lines I wondered with great suspicion if the FBI was involved somehow.

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Bingo. Obama loved this tactic and its wild to see him use it again while joe is the prez.

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They (dems), are very capable of such “Ops”. They need a way to cause more division and find another way to “excuse” changing the election rules again, especially with midterms coming up. They can use these “false flags” to create a gun-grab scenario, thus causing huge civil unrest and possibly enough violent blowback to implement a martial law situation—-thus, more mail in ballots, and other means to change election laws in their favor—AGAIN.

****

Here we go boys and girls hold on to your seats it gonna be a bumpy summer. Man these things always seem to conviently happen around this timr especially around election time. The abortion try didn't work so now this. I don't believe in coincidences and I don't trust the left one bit. Frankly all this seem to starting to become a pattern.

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How long did the FBI groom and radicalize him online before unleashing him on innocent bystanders, for political gain?

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Curious to know why he went all the way to Buffalo If it was racially motivated, why not go to a much closer city such as Binghamton, Syracuse, or Rochester? Instead he drives several hours further to Buffalo?

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Because it’s what the Dems hired him to do
And there's more, unsurprisingly, at Gateway Pundit:
This whole thing is a......FALSE FLAG, FALSE FLAG, FALSE FLAG, FALSE FLAG.

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Remember the New Zealand shooter? He supposedly had written anti-muslim stuff on his rifle...as if shooting them was not enough to make it clear he was anti-Muslim?

Why would someone shooting blacks write the N word on his rifle?

Unless the people behind this false flag wanted to make absolutely sure that white supremacists would be blamed so then Biden, Mayorkas and Garland could say again and again that the biggest threat in the USA are white males.

No one writes such stuff on their rifle!

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I agree, it was a FF. My opinion is that some FBI agents, those who knew of this kid's previous threats, posed as White Supremacists online and sucked him in to follow through with the murders he committed.

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The only posing seems to have been by these actors playing dead. Heres footage from the scene. Not a drop of blood.

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They knew he was a threat and let him acquire guns anyway. It was just the kind of violent incident the FBLie was seeking. Their playbook is getting rather predictable.

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New Zealand shooters were UN mercenaries ... that's what my friend in NZ says.

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Was a FF to seize NZ guns which happened weeks later

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Keep in mind that it serves the Democrat interest the best if another attack like this happens ever two weeks until the election.

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Sounds like the shooter was counseled (coached) last year. If he shot Blacks instead of high school students, he'd become infinitely more infamous.

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FBI bagged another patsy to do their bidding

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The purpose of a FF is to distract attention away from what is really happening. Think of this --- out of the blue there was a Roe v. Wade leak that has since resulted in organized protests. Now, out of the blue, we have a highly visible shooting that is linked to "white supremacy."

Something is getting ready to drop publicly and to prevent this, they are doing pre-emptive strikes to control the narrative and eat up the news.

****

UN vote on WHO taking over health care in all UN nations is up for vote on the 22nd. I am sure there are other things they want us distracted from also.
Also:
Wendy Rogers and Nick Fuentes, two prominent right-wing influencers, suggested Saturday that the racially-motivated mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, could be a false flag operation....

Arizona state Senator Wendy Rogers, who is endorsed for reelection by former President Donald Trump, wrote in a Gettr post Saturday that "fed boy summer has started in Buffalo," referring to the theory among some right-wingers that FBI agents are behind acts of violence and are seeking to blame conservatives.

Meanwhile, Nick Fuentes, a right-wing political commentator, who has been classified as a white nationalist by the Southern Poverty Law Center, described the shooting as a "new false flag" in a Saturday post on Telegram.
Fuentes organized the America First Political Action Conference, which took place in February. Marjorie Taylor Greene was one of the speakers.

A recent AP/NORC survey reported that nearly half of Republicans believe the Great Replacement theory. Let's investigate how many rank-and-file Republicans believe in a couple of other conspiracy theories: that many mass shooting incidents are false flags, and that the FBI is part of a left/liberal conspiracy to destroy conservatism. I don't think half of Republicans would tell pollsters they believed these things, but I think a lot more Republicans would express that opinion than the average Beltway pundit would expect.

These aren't "fringe" ideas. They're well established on the right. We're going to hear them more and more from elected Republicans. And we have no idea how many of our fellow citizens are believers.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

THE SLIGHT DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PAYTON GENDRON'S RADICALIZATION AND THE RADICALIZATION OF THE AVERAGE FOX VIEWER

I was able to download a copy of the manifesto posted by Payton Gendron, the eighteen-year-old who drove hours from a town near the New York-Pennsylvania border in order to commit mass murder at a supermarket in a Black neighborhood of Buffalo. I don't blame Tucker Carlson for what Gendron did. Gendron never mentions Carlson, and is explicit in the manifesto about how he was radicalized:
Where did you get your current beliefs? ...

Mostly from the internet.

... Was there a particular event or reason you decided to commit to a violent attack?

... I started browsing 4chan in May 2020 after extreme boredom, remember this was during the outbreak of covid. I would normally browse /k/ because I’m a gun nut and /out/ because I love the outdoors and I eventually wound up on /pol/. There I learned through infographics, shitposts, and memes that the White race is dying out, that blacks are disproportionately killing Whites, that the average black takes $700,000 from tax-payers in their lifetime, and that the Jews and the elite were behind this. From there, I also found other sites, like worldtruthvideos.website, dailyarchives.org, and dailystormer.cn where through data and exposure to real information I learned the truth. We are doomed by low birth rates and high rates of immigration. I never even saw this information until I found these sites, since mostly I would get my news from the front page of Reddit.
Gendron didn't get these ideas from binge-watching Fox News. He didn't get them from Republican politicians. Nevertheless, what fellow shitposters communicated to Gendron sounds an awful lot like what manistream Republicans are communicating to their base -- with one slight difference.




The slight difference is that Stefanik, Masters, and the Fox commentators primarily stress political responses -- real Americans must prevent "amnesty" and keep voting Republican -- while Gendron calls for a violent response.

In Gendron's manifesto, he mentions elections, seizing on the (highly implausible) notion that immigration will flip Texas blue and thus lead to permanent Democratic dominance of the Electoral College -- an idea I suspect he picked up from fellow shitposters who do watch Fox. But Gendron is fatalistic about this. The endgame is race war.
Meanwhile the 10000 ton boulder of demographic change rolls ever forward, gaining momentum and possibly destroying all in its path. Eventually, when the White population of the USA realizes the truth of the situation, war will erupt. Soon the replacement of the whites within Texas will hit its apogee and with the non-white political and social control of Texas; and with this control, the electoral college will be heavily stacked in favor of a democratic victory so that every electoral cycle will be a certainty.

After an election cycle or two with certain Democratic victory, those remaining, non democratic voting, non brainwashed whites will see the future clear before them, and with this knowledge realize the impossibility of a diplomatic or political victory.

Within a short time regular and widespread political, social and racial violence will commence. In this tempest of conflict is where will be strike, a strong, unified, ethnically and culturally focused pro-white, pro-european group will be everything the average white family needs and long for. With these boosted numbers, and with our unified forces, complete control of the United States will be possible. Above all, be ready for violence, and when the time comes, strike hard and fast.
In the YouTube compilation above, it's fascinating how much Tucker Carlson stresses the idea that the thwarting the Democrats is the way to solve this problem. Some of the recent writing about Carlson argues that he's not an orthodox Republican. The compilation makes clear that in many ways he's just another GOP hack, because the endgame for him is GOP victory. Rants about "the Great Replacement" undoubtedly reflect his sincere and deep-seated racism, but he uses them primarily as a way of getting Republican voters to the polls.

The Fox News/mainstream GOP version of Great Replacement rhetoric is not quite what you get in the forums Payton Gendron frequented. But the biggest difference is that -- at least for now -- Fox and the GOP aren't calling for an open shooting war against the enemy. They're encouraging the same racist rage, but they're doing it for votes.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

GRANNY CAN'T USE HER KINDLE BECAUSE CHRISTOPHER RUFO FANS WANT TO BAN TONI MORRISON

Publishers Lunch reports that book bans are making ebooks inaccessible to adults as well as children.
At least three counties have removed access to e-reading apps used by schools and libraries in a continued effort to restrict children’s access to books, NBC News reports.

In Tennessee, Texas, and Florida, a few parents have objected to digital reading platforms, including OverDrive and Epic, aiming to restrict access to books on gender, race, and LGBTQ+ themes.... These bans affect all users, not just individual students, and all titles -- removing access to entire digital collections of books for the sake of restricting a few, and in one case severely limiting ebook availability to the entire community, not just schools and children....

In Llano, TX, the public library removed access to OverDrive – and its library of 17,000 titles across genres for all ages – in December" ... The library switched to Bibliotheca, which does not work with most e-readers and apps, including most Kindle devices and apps....

"They have an affidavit about senior citizens who are now totally cut off from access to the digital books and many of them, that's their only way to use their library," [OverDrive CEO Steve Potash] said.
It's bad enough that these zealots, and the ambitious Republican politicians and media figures who enable them, are shutting down access to ebooks for all young people in some communities, because that seems to be the safest way for libraries to respond to their demands, at least until the libraries can purge all the titles that give offense:
A school superintendent in a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee, pulled his system’s e-reader offline for a week last month, cutting access for 40,000 students, after a parent searched the Epic library available on her kindergartner’s laptop and found books supporting LGBTQ pride.

In a rural county northwest of Austin, Texas, county officials cut off access to the OverDrive digital library, which residents had used for a decade to find books to read for pleasure, prompting a federal lawsuit against the county.

And on the east coast of Florida, the Brevard County school system removed the Epic app from its computer system, saying it didn’t want kids to have access to material its own school librarians hadn’t vetted.
But in Llano, Texas, adult access became collateral damage -- though I suppose in the future these ayatollahs will want "offending" books fully banned for all library patrons, if not forbidden altogether. Book bans in America ended only in the twentieth century. Couldn't they come back, with the offending books defined as "pornography" (which is what opponents are already calling them) and Republican judges declaring, perhaps, that the Constitution protects only political speech, or that there's nothing in the First Amendment ("Congress shall make no law...") preventing states or localities from issuing bans?

Obviously, what's happening now is many steps away from the bottom of this slope, which might not be as slippery as I'm suggesting it could be. But you never know.

Friday, May 13, 2022

ON ABORTION, ALITO INVOKES DEMOCRACY IN THE STATES, WHERE IT MIGHT BE DEAD

Jamelle Bouie notes that Samuel Alito's draft abortion decision imagines reproductive rights being decided via representative democracy.
“In some states,” [Alito] writes, “voters may believe that the abortion right should be even more extensive than the right that Roe and Casey recognized.” Voters in other states, he continues, “may wish to impose tight restrictions based on their belief that abortion destroys an ‘unborn human being.’” He concludes that “Our nation’s historical understanding of ordered liberty does not prevent the people’s elected representatives from deciding how abortion should be regulated.”
However, as Bouie notes, democracy at the state level doesn't always work.
But, Alito might say, if voters do not want their states to ban abortion, they can elect representatives who will then take steps to protect it.

That’s not so simple. Thanks to Alito’s own votes and opinions (and those of his conservative colleagues) in Shelby County v. Holder, Rucho v. Common Cause and Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, state legislatures have nearly free rein to restrict voting, gerrymander in a hyperpartisan fashion and otherwise insulate themselves from democratic accountability.

A pro-Roe electoral majority might exist in Wisconsin, but the state Republican Party has gerrymandered itself into durable control of the legislature; it only needs a minority of voters to win a majority of seats. The same is true in states like Ohio and North Carolina where — according to a New York Times analysis of public opinion data — most adults support Roe.

In other words, there are a number of states — home to tens of millions of Americans — where voters may not actually have the power to elect lawmakers to protect the abortion rights they say they want.
I talk about this a lot, as regular readers know. Let's look at some numbers.

In Wisconsin -- where, according to the Pew poll, 53% of respondents want abortion to be legal in all or most cases -- here's how legislative elections go:
A Wisconsin State Journal analysis of unofficial vote totals in Wisconsin legislative races [in 2020] shows that Democratic candidates received 46% of total votes cast in state Assembly races, but ended up with only 38 of 99 seats after winning two new districts. In state Senate races, Democratic candidates secured about 47% of total votes, but only picked up 38% of the seats on the ballot and now control only 12 of 33 seats....

This ... voting breakdown wasn’t as stark as in 2018, when ... Democratic Assembly candidates secured about 53% of total votes cast, but they only ended up with 36% of the chamber’s seats. In 2016, Republicans garnered 52% of votes cast, yet won 65% of the Assembly seats.
In North Carolina in 2018, Democrats won the majority of legislative votes, but couldn't win a majority of seats:
North Carolina Democrats prevailed in the popular vote by 79,000 votes but won 54 out of 120 seats.
North Carolinians want abortion legal in all or most cases by a 49%-45% margin, according to Pew.

In Pennsylvania, where legal abortion is favored 51%-44% according to Pew, a majority vote for Democrats in 2018 couldn't elect a Democratic majority to the legislature:
Democratic candidates won 2.52 million votes, or about 54.1 percent of the two-party vote, meaning votes for either a Republican or Democratic candidate....

But their share of state House seats is significantly lower than the percentage of votes they received. Democrats won 93 out of 203 seats, or about 45.8 percent of the seats up for grabs.
Pennsylvania could elect a Christian nationalist as governor to go along with its GOP legislature. What happens to abortion rights in Pennsylvania then?

Michigan (in favor of legal abortion 54%-42%, according to Pew) has an extremely gerrymandered legislature:
In [2018] state House of Representatives races, 52 percent of Michigan voters voted for Democrats and 47 percent of Michiganders voted for Republicans. But Republicans kept a 58-52 majority.

Likewise, Democrats picked up additional seats in the state Senate, but still found themselves on the minority end of a 22-16 split. That's despite Democratic candidates besting Republicans 51 to 47 percent on the aggregate....

In 2014, ... Republicans won more [state Senate] votes than Democrats and won the majority, but the results weren't proportional. Republicans got 50.4 percent of the votes that year, but won 71 percent of the seats in the Senate.
If Democrats need a landslide total-vote victory in a state to win a bare majority of the legislature, but Republicans can win it while losing the overall popular vote, then the playing field is not level and democracy at the legislative level is dead or pretty close to it. And this is where the Federalist Society justices want abortion to be decided.

JUST SAY IT: THE NEW REPUBLICANS ARE THE OLD REPUBLICANS, ONLY NASTIER

In a New York Times op-ed, Rich Lowry does an okay job of explaining Ron DeSantis's appeal to right-wing voters, though he seems locked into a Republican taxonomy that doesn't make much sense in the real world, even though everyone in the media takes it very, very seriously. According to this taxonomy, there are Trump Republicans and there are pre-Trump Republicans; some right-leading commentators and most commentators who aren't on the right hope there are post-Trump Republicans. So in which category does DeSantis fall, according to Lowry?
If any of Mr. DeSantis’s Republican admirers are hoping he will chart a path back to the pre-2016 party, they’ll probably be disappointed. Instead, the governor is a leader in a new, Trump-inflected party, but without the character flaws and baggage of the former president.
(DeSantis appears to lack some of Trump's character flaws -- he's not compulsively corrupt or all-consumingly narcissistic -- although he's as steeped in rage and resentment as Trump is.)

Lowry says DeSantis is "Trump-inflected," so he doesn't represent a return to a time before Trump. However, a few paragraphs later, Lowry tells us:
For all the talk of how Trumpy Mr. DeSantis is, ... there is much about him that recalls the party’s pre-Trump era. He was elected to Congress as a Tea Party conservative in 2012, and he is fond of boasting that Florida’s budget is roughly half the size of New York’s even though his state is more populous. He’s proud and protective of Florida’s status as a low-tax state.

He’s been a highly committed advocate of expanding charter schools and scholarship programs to help families send their children to private schools. He’s firmly anti-regulation....

Indeed, any movement conservative sealed in a time capsule circa 1984 and emerging today would recognize Mr. DeSantis as a more or less standard Sunbelt Republican — a fiscal conservative wooing people and businesses to his state based on a favorable economic climate who is also anti-elitist, socially conservative and eager to reform public schools.

None of this is new. What stands out as a true departure is Mr. DeSantis’s willingness to use government power in the culture war.
DeSantis fights with educators, with Disney, with Big Tech. To Lowry, and to readers who believe in the Trump-vs.-pre-Trump taxonomy, this raises a question:
How can a limited-government Tea Party Republican like Mr. DeSantis have become comfortable with this use of government? For that matter, how is it that so many Tea Party types moved so easily toward Trumpist populism?

The key, I think, is that for many people on the right, a libertarian-oriented politics was largely a way to register opposition to the mandarins who have an outsized influence on our public life. And it turns out that populism is an even more pungent way to register this opposition....

If Florida’s culture-war initiatives succeed, the education establishment in the state will not mindlessly absorb the latest left-wing fad. Corporations will be warier of wading into hot-button social fights.
What Lowry makes clear here -- even though he clearly doesn't understand it herself -- is that it's all the same Republicanism. DeSantis is fighting the same old culture wars more viciously, building on Trump's nastiness. It's always a fight against modernity and liberalism and "elitists" (who are, somehow, never the right-leaning billionaires who fund GOP campaigns). It's always anti-"big government" unless, say, you want an abortion; now that's being extended to a crackdown on your access to gender-affirming meds, or your right to take a book with gay themes out of the school library.

The goal has always been to crush liberalism. The only difference between now and the pre-Trump era is that Republicans have made further progress on the Long March. They've gerrymandered more state legislatures. They've tailored campaign finance to their specifications and been given the go-ahead to restrict voting rights as they please. They have unquestioned control the Supreme Court. They've learned from Trump that they pay no price for abandoning any pretense of empathy or compassion for people who aren't in their coalition. And they face an increasingly weakened Democratic Party that doesn't know how to fight back.

That's the only real difference between the time before Trump and now: Republicans are closer to victory.