Friday, August 12, 2022

THE LIKELY NEXT U.S. SENATOR FROM MISSOURI IS NOW WORKING WITH GATEWAY PUNDIT'S JIM HOFT

Here's a headline that appeared at Gateway Pundit yesterday:
Announcement: The Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft Elevated to Lead Plaintiff in State of Missouri and State of Louisiana Lawsuit vs. Joseph R. Biden, Jr. et al.
From the announcement:
Jim Hoft of The Gateway Pundit is a key plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by the State of Missouri. State of Missouri ex rel. Schmitt, et al. v. Joseph R. Biden, Jr., et al., 3:22-cv-01213. The lawsuit alleges that the public statements, emails, and recently released documents, establish that the President of the United States and other senior officials in the Biden Administration violated the First Amendment by directing social-media companies to censor viewpoints that conflict with the government’s messaging on Covid-19 and election integrity concerns relating to the 2020 general election, and is a direct assault on the First Amendment....

The collusion of the Biden administration, in coordination with multiple departments within the United States government and big tech, has led to the censorship, silencing and de-platforming of individuals and organizations and it is a direct assault of the First Amendment.
This lawsuit was originally filed in May by Attorney General Eric Schmitt of Missouri and Attorney General Jeff Landry of Louisiana. Schmitt, who recently won the Republican U.S. Senate primary in Missouri, has now amended the filing to add several plaintiffs, one of whom is Jim Hoft, Missouri's most successful living right-wing disinformationist.

Keep in mind that Schmitt is probably the next U.S. senator from Missouri -- he has led Democrat Trudy Busch Valentine in two polls of the race, in a state Donald Trump won by 15 points in 2020. It seemed to be a good thing that Schmitt beat domestic abuser and sex criminal Eric Greitens in that primary, but if Schmitt is working hand in glove with Hoft, then it's clear that he's going to be one of the worst people in the Senate.

This is a ridiculous lawsuit. In May, Techdirt's Mike Masnick wrote about the original filing:
... the crux of the complaint — ... I must remind you that it is against many parts of the Biden administration — is that they somehow colluded with private social media companies to censor speech, even though they weren’t even the government at that time.

... What content are real life Attorneys General Jeff Landry and Eric Schmitt suing over?

The Hunter Biden laptop story in the NY Post.
Perhaps most notoriously, social-media platforms aggressively censored an October 14, 2020 New York Post exposé about the contents of the laptop of (then-Candidate Biden’s son) Hunter Biden, which had been abandoned in a Delaware repair shop and contained compromising photos and email communications about corrupt foreign business deals.
... the Biden administration did not exist at the time of the Hunter Biden laptop story. So there is no way that the Biden administration could have violated the 1st Amendment into pressuring social media not to carry that story.

... it takes an incredible lack of shame to argue that Twitter (a private company) using its existing “hacked materials” policy to block a single link to a single story, is a 1st Amendment violation, because the Biden administration, which did not exist for another three months, was pressuring the company to block it.

And it gets worse.

The second example used in the lawsuit is social media companies limiting discussions of the whole “lab leak” theory… in early 2020. Also, efforts by social media companies to pull down disinformation about mail-in ballots. All of these things happened under the Trump administration, and not because of government pressure, but because the companies didn’t want to have their platforms abused by malicious actors.

... The entire lawsuit reads more like something we read from trolls in our comments, not a lawsuit filed by two actual, honest-to-goodness state Attorneys General. But, kudos, Jeff Landry and Eric Schmitt, you’ve truly outdone yourselves in stupid, performative, nonsense lawsuits.
And now Hoft has been added as a plaintiff, presumably to get Schmitt some positive coverage at Hoft's regrettably influential site. This is the Republican Party in 2022.

REPUBLICANS ATTACK DEMOCRACY AND THE RULE OF LAW, AND DAVID BROOKS BLAMES EVERYONE BUT THE PERPETRATORS

A headline from David Brooks:
Did the F.B.I. Just Re-Elect Donald Trump?
Answer: No. The FBI might have just increased the likelihood of Trump's renomination, but that's not the same as reelection. Brooks doesn't understand that. Like much of the mainstream media and all of the right-wing media, Brooks believes that only Republicans are Americans.

Brooks writes:
Why is Donald Trump so powerful?
He isn't really. He lost the popular vote in two straight presidential elections. At least a dozen Republicans think they can beat him in the 2024 primaries. And then there are all those legal woes. But Brooks means "powerful" in the sense of holding sway over Republican voters -- the only real Americans.
How did he come to dominate one of the two major parties and get himself elected president? Is it his hair? His waistline? No, it’s his narratives. Trump tells powerful stories that ring true to tens of millions of Americans.

The main one is that America is being ruined by corrupt coastal elites. According to this narrative, there is an interlocking network of highly educated Americans who make up what the Trumpians have come to call the Regime: Washington power players, liberal media, big foundations, elite universities, woke corporations. These people are corrupt, condescending and immoral and are looking out only for themselves. They are out to get Trump because Trump is the person who stands up to them. They are not only out to get Trump; they are out to get you.
Those aren't Trump's narratives -- they're narratives Trump learned directly or indirectly, from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and Steve Bannon. Trump borrowed them, rewrote them, and played them at maximum volume, like Led Zeppelin ripping off Muddy Waters. Republicans voter liked Trump's rehash of these ideas because he's reported to be a rich guy who gets laid a lot, and because he said the racist parts without euphemism.
This narrative has a core of truth to it. Highly educated metropolitan elites have become something of a self-enclosed Brahmin class.
Maybe one other reason right-wing voters respond to this narrative is that even the mainstream media agrees with it.
But the Trumpian propaganda turns what is an unfortunate social chasm into venomous conspiracy theory. It simply assumes, against a lot of evidence, that the leading institutions of society are inherently corrupt, malevolent and partisan and are acting in bad faith.

It simply assumes that the proof of people’s virtue is that they’re getting attacked by the Regime. Trump’s political career has been kept afloat by elite scorn. The more elites scorn him, the more Republicans love him. The key criterion for leadership in the Republican Party today is having the right enemies.
Translation: When Trump does something terrible, it's the establishment's fault.
Into this situation walks the F.B.I. There’s a lot we don’t know about the search at Mar-a-Lago. But we do know how the Republican Party reacted. The right side of my Twitter feed was ecstatic. See! We really are persecuted!
The fact that right-wingers are happy is what a columnist with a degree of moral decency would be writing at this moment. A better David Brooks would be telling us that the entire right wing is pretending to be outraged -- and is stoking outrage in its voter base -- out of pure cynicism. But right-wingers aren't Brooks's bad guys. He blames the feds.
... According to a Trafalgar Group/Convention of States Action survey, 83 percent of likely Republican voters said the F.B.I. search made them more motivated to vote in the 2022 elections. Over 75 percent of likely Republican voters believed Trump’s political enemies were behind the search rather than the impartial justice system, as did 48 percent of likely general election voters overall.
Trafalgar Group is a pollster that made its name by more or less accurately polling races in which Trump was on the ballot. It doesn't do nearly as well when Trump isn't on the ballot and allegedly shy Trump voters aren't a factor. (Trafalgar's final poll of 2021 gubernatorial recall election in California predicted that Gavin Newsom would win by 8. He won by 24.) And Convention of States Action is a Koch-linked group attempting to enact an ALEC wish list of bog-standard GOP/corporatist proposals by means of a constitutional convention. So I'm skeptical of the source.

According to the poll, 83% of Republicans say they're more likely to vote in November in response to the "the FBI raid on President Trump" (which wasn't a raid and wasn't "on" the absent Trump, who isn't president) -- but 55% of Democrats say they're also more likely to vote now. And the numbers on the reason for the search (referred to in the survey question as "the FBI raid on President Trump's private home") make clear that most non-Republican respondents don't think the motivation was political.
In a normal society, when politicians get investigated or charged, it hurts them politically. But that no longer applies to the G.O.P.
Brooks writes this as if this is a law of nature rather than the choice of a voting bloc gone feral. It never occurs to him to say that if millions of voters admire Trump more because he's being investigated for crimes, that attitude is a problem for democracy. Instead, he implies that the investigators are the problem.
What happens if a prosecutor charges Trump and he is convicted just as he is cruising to the G.O.P. nomination or maybe even the presidency? What happens if the legal system, using its criteria, decides Trump should go to prison at the very moment that the electoral system, using its criteria, decides he should go to the White House?

I presume in those circumstances Trump would be arrested and imprisoned. I also presume we would see widespread political violence from incensed Trump voters who would conclude that the Regime has stolen the country. In my view, this is the most likely path to a complete democratic breakdown.
Yes, but only because his admirers choose to reject the rule of law.
In theory, justice is blind, and obviously no person can be above the law. But as Damon Linker wrote in a Substack post, “This is a polity, not a graduate seminar in Kantian ethics.” We live in a specific real-world situation, and we all have to take responsibility for the real-world effects of our actions.
So if a Trumper takes an AR-15 to an FBI office and then has an armed standoff with law enforcement, that's the FBI's fault. The Trumper doesn't have agency. The Trumper is simply acting according to his innate nature. He doesn't have an obligation not to attack the government. He's just going to do that -- he can't help it! It's our responsibility not to get him riled up.
America absolutely needs to punish those who commit crimes. On the other hand, America absolutely needs to make sure that Trump does not get another term as president. What do we do if the former makes the latter more likely? I have no clue how to get out of this potential conflict between our legal and political realities.
I accept the notion that this makes Trump a more likely nominee. But a more likely victor in 2024? Let's look at what Axios is reporting today:
Florida swing voters in our latest Engagious/Schlesinger focus groups said the FBI's search of Mar-a-Lago was justified — and that it would be a "serious crime" if former President Trump did take classified documents from the White House.

... Eleven of 12 participants said it was appropriate for the FBI to execute a signed search warrant at the home of the former president — and that it would be a serious crime to take documents from the White House in an unauthorized fashion even if that person previously held the office.

None said they would support Trump if he ran again.
I know this will come as a shock to David Brooks, but there are some Americans who are not Trump Republicans. They're citizens. They're legally permitted to vote. And they don't like Trump. They don't want him to run for president again. A plurality of them think he should be charged with crimes in connection with the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

Brooks thinks their opinions don't matter -- and shouldn't matter. Their job is to manage the emotions of the "real" Americans by not upsetting them with justice. And if those "real" Americans vote for a criminal because he's a criminal, or burn the country to the ground, then it's everyone's fault except theirs.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

WHEN THE VIOLENCE ESCALATES, REPUBLICANS WILL JUST DENY IT'S REAL (updated)

This isn't good:
An armed man flashing an AR-15 style rifle fired a nail gun into an FBI Cincinnati building Thursday morning leading to a police pursuit and shots fired on an interstate, authorities said....

"Law enforcement has traded shots with a male suspect who is wearing a gray shirt and body armor," the agency said in an initial statement, warning people nearby to stay inside and lock their doors. Ohio State Highway Patrol said the suspect had fired shots from a Ford Crown Victoria while he was being pursued by police.
This will keep happening. There'll be much more if Trump is charged with a crime. But if you think anyone on the right will denounce the violence, forget it.

Some will say it never happened -- the Alex Jones response. Fake events, crisis actors, news reporters in studios in front of green screens pretending to be at sites where violence took place -- that's what some of them will tell us is going on.

Others, like these Breitbart commenters responding to what happened today, will just say that the government-slash-Deep State is responsible for the violence.
Carried an AR-15, but fired a nail gun? Sounds like a false flag to me. Carry the AR for optics but fire something that won’t hurt anyone. Good job. 🤫

****

It's phony bologna.

****

FBI fake things???..... not since January 6th...!!!

****

Or rather, continuously since Jan 6th, AND BEFORE!

****

A fake soldier. A nail gun has zero accuracy unless pressed against a target. What a genius the fake sergeant is.

****

It doesn’t sound like he got close enough to point it at anything specific. That’s the whole point. He used a ‘weapon’ in a way that wouldn’t hurt anyone, but would cause a stir. If he wanted to hurt someone, he would use the AR.

It’s like the FBI sponsored ’bomber’ a few years ago. He mailed (maybe) bombs that were configured so that they wouldn’t hurt anyone, but give the appearance of a threat. Then they gave his van a decal job to make him look like a Trump supporter. People who knew him said the van was plain white until AFTER the case broke, and many didn’t believe it.

Same thing here. Wray plays the victim, claiming threats. No one believes him. So, dial up a ‘threat’.
And now we're learning that the suspect himself was a denialist:
Investigators are looking into whether the man who tried to breach the F.B.I.’s field office in Cincinnati on Thursday had ties to extremist groups, including one that participated in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, according to two law enforcement officials familiar with the matter.

The suspect, identified by the officials as Ricky Shiffer, 42, seems to have appeared in a video posted on Facebook on Jan. 5, 2021, showing him attending a pro-Trump rally at Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington the night before the Capitol was stormed.

In May, a Twitter user named Ricky Shiffer replied to a photograph of rioters scaling the walls of the Capitol on Jan. 6 with a message that claimed he was present at the building and seemed to place the blame for the attack on people other than supporters of former President Donald J. Trump.

“I was there,” the message read. “We watched as your goons did that.”
And now Shiffer is dead.


And now the right will tell us that the FBI killed a patriot in cold blood so it could blame him for a phony attack. The entire right is off the rails -- these people will never acknowledge that anything done by one of their ideological allies is bad.

*******

AND:


The Washington Post says it "could not confirm whether the account actually belonged to Shiffer." But assuming it's the real deal, your right-wing relatives won't believe it. They'll just say it was a fake account created by somebody paid by George Soros.

RELEASE THE TAPES, ERIC!

Eric Trump says the FBI misbehaved in its search of Mar-a-Lago, and it was all caught on video:
Speaking exclusively to DailyMail.com, the former president's son said the 30 agents who arrived at the property asked staff to turn security cameras off – but they refused.

... By not turning off the security cameras, Eric said they saw the FBI raiding areas of the property that they 'shouldn't have been.'
Eric is alleging misconduct, which the brave freedom fighters at Mar-a-Lago caught on video. So where are the tapes? Why hasn't Team Trump released them? Is this like the search warrant, which Trump and his circle refuse to release?

Oh, wait -- Eric is also saying that the FBI unlawfully refused to hand over a copy of the warrant:
Eric said that his father's lawyer Christina Bobb was forced to stand at the end of the Mar-a-Lago driveway throughout the raid.

... 'They would not give her the search warrant,' he claimed. 'So they showed it to her from about 10 feet away. They would not give her a copy of the search warrant.'
Bobb's story is ... um, slightly different:
Bobb also told Real America News on Tuesday that she was able to see the warrant, but claimed that it was partly sealed, making it impossible for her to see what the probable cause was that compelled a judge to approve the raid. She also did not suggest she had received a physical copy.

'When I arrived and kind of announced myself as the legal representation for President Trump. I asked to see a copy of the warrant,' the Trump lawyer detailed of the events the day prior.

'Initially they refused and said, 'You know, we don't have to show it to you.' And there was a little bit of an exchange about whether it was appropriate to withhold the warrant when you're searching the residence of the former president, who's likely to be the Republican nominee in the next election, though they conceded and let me see it, they did not give me a copy of it right away, but they did let me see it,' added Bobb, who once was a host on far-right One America News Network.
(Emphasis added.)

So was it never handed over? Or was it handed over, but not right away? And if it was never handed over, how does Eric know that FBI agents went to parts of the property where they "shouldn't have been"?

And why hasn't anyone else in Trumpworld said that the warrant wasn't handed over, in response to the many questions about why Trump hasn't released the warrant?


They have it. There was no FBI misconduct. And if I'm wrong, Eric, show me the tapes.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

THE CONSPIRACY TO KEEP RIGHT-WINGERS PARANOID AND STUPID

Right-wing sites from Gateway Pundit to FoxNews.com, along with social-media propagandists, are stirring up a mass freakout over IRS hiring. From the Fox story:
An online job posting for special agents within the law enforcement branch of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is causing a stir on social media, as Congress prepares to pass a spending bill that would greatly expand the federal agency.

A link to a job posting for "Criminal Investigation Special Agents" appeared to have been briefly deleted on Wednesday, following online criticism of the posting's language, though it reappeared back online after a FOX Business inquiry to the agency.

A "key requirement" for applicants is that they have to be "legally allowed to carry a firearm," and "major duties" include "Carry a firearm and be willing to use deadly force, if necessary" and "Be willing and able to participate in arrests, execution of search warrants, and other dangerous assignments," according to the job posting.

The requirement that agents be willing to use "deadly force, if necessary" drew heated criticism online....
Or as the Gateway Pundit post puts it:
They will shoot and kill you over your $1,500 in taxes.
No, actually, they won't. Here's the relevant part of the ad:


I wrote about the IRS's Criminal Investigation (CI) division nine years ago, in response to a different ginned-up freakout:
Congressman Jeff Duncan (R-South Carolina) wants you to be paranoid, angry, and ignorant:
Rep. Jeff Duncan wants to know why IRS law enforcement agents are training with AR-15 rifles.

As chairman of the House Homeland Security oversight subcommittee, Duncan (R-S.C.) toured a federal law enforcement facility in late May and noticed agents training with the semi-automatic weapons at a firing range. They identified themselves as IRS, he said.

"When I left there, it's been bugging me for weeks now, why IRS agents are training with a semi-automatic rifle AR-15, which has stand-off capability," Duncan told POLITICO. "Are Americans that much of a target that you need that kind of capability?" ...
As Congressman Duncan knows perfectly well -- or ought to -- fighting potentially violent criminals has been part of the job of some IRS agents for, oh, about ninety years:
According to the IRS website, "IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) is comprised of approximately 4,100 employees worldwide, approximately 2,700 of whom are special agents whose investigative jurisdiction includes tax, money laundering and Bank Secrecy Act laws."

CI special agents are required to "carry and use a firearm." According to the basic requirements to qualify for a position as a CI special agent, "applicants must carry and use a firearm."

... IRS CI division has been investigating dangerous organizations such as drug traffickers since the 1920s. Established in 1919 as the "Intelligence Unit" and changing its name in 1978, CI's agents have historically investigated potentially dangerous individuals and organizations, beginning with its first investigation of an "opium trafficker in Hawaii in the early 1920s." ...

During Bush Administration, CI special agents participated in Anti-Terrorism Task Forces, World Trade Center searches, investigations of Saddam Hussein's regime, and other such "special assignments in the Middle East." ...
So, yeah, these folks do dangerous work....

Here's the CI division in raids on members of a child prostitution ring in 2005, and on illegal steroid manufacturers in 2007 -- yes, before the inauguration of the tyrant Obama.
The Gateway Pundit story pointedly notes,
The Democrats passed a new $700+ billion spending bill this month....

The bill will add 87,000 new IRS employees to harass and abuse working Americans and their political opponents.
The implication is that all 87,000 will be working for the CI division and will be ready to use deadly force. That's nonsense. But that's how the right-wing media makes its readers paranoid -- and rigidly Republican.

TRUMP IS A SICK, NEEDY GUY, PART XCVIII

When FBI agents searched Mar-a-Lago this week, Donald Trump whined, "They even broke into my safe," even though his son Eric later insisted that the safe was empty. New York magazine's Olivia Nuzzi was wondering what Trump keeps in the safe, so she asked a few people who might know. An unnamed ex-Trump employee had some thoughts.
[A] former Trump staffer did remember something from 2015. “We were talking about him running for president, and he was saying he was serious,” this person said. Trump was scheduled to stop in Louisiana before flying out of the country. On the 24th floor of Trump Tower, two staffers waited on the boss. “He comes down and he goes, ‘Shit, I have to go to the safe,’” this person said. “He comes down with one of those ‘TRUMP-MAR-A-LAGO’ bags — downstairs, if you bought a tie or something at the Trump store, you’d get a nice fancy shopping bag like you’d get at Saks — with about $50,000 in cash and six containers of white Tic Tacs. And he was going through the border. I know he didn’t declare that to customs!”

... The former staffer, who said Trump always carried cash, assumed the safe had ten times the amount in the shopping bag at any given time. “He wants to travel with cash; he doesn’t like to use credit cards. Think about Stormy, etc.,” as in Daniels, whom Trump (via [Michael] Cohen) paid to keep quiet about an affair. “He was always a big tipper too — not $50,000 in tips, but he would give the waiters and the waitresses $100 each.” Staffers got tipped, too. From the shopping bag, Trump grabbed $1,500 and handed it over. “For doing a good job,” the former staffer said.
So if this person is correct, America's most famous businessman keeps half a million dollars in cash in a safe. And routinely grabs $50,000 to use as walking-around money. And he carries it himself -- presumably so he can hand off big-money tips, in a desperate search for love and admiration.

Vicky Ward, who published a book in 2014 that Trump didn't like, believes that Trump keeps everything he thinks might be of use.
In my experience, Trump keeps everything—or copies of everything—no matter how apparently mundane because, to his mind…well, you just never know when it might be weaponized.

In 2014, I learned in a rather shocking way that Trump had kept all the correspondence he’d had with me in the previous six years. This was hardly earth-shattering correspondence containing classified information. Instead, it was a few simple thank you notes from me for various lunches, meeting, and one time he invited me to Mar-a-Lago. He was a source, but he also tried to be helpful (the motivation behind his kindnesses is up for debate), especially when I was selling my house. And so I wrote him hand-written notes, as I often do to people who take the time to have meetings with me.

However, in 2014, my book The Liar’s Ball was published.

... Trump didn’t like the book. And he was angry with me. On its publication day, he tweeted, “Just finished poorly written & very boring book on the General Motors Building by Vicky Ward. Waste of time!” Then he phoned the New York Post and claimed he’d saved me from foreclosure, which he had not. He then published photocopies of all my thank you notes on his Facebook page and wrote a letter to me referring to me as “Little Vicky” in a withering letter to my publishers....

In the end, all this negative attention was actually very helpful to me. I got asked about Trump’s reaction to my book on TV so often that I really owe him another thank you note for helping with book sales.
So Trump keeps scraps of paper and thank-you notes because he believes this helps him get revenge. Petty revenge. Petty revenge that sometimes backfires.

This is what mattered to Donald Trump in the years just before he became the president of the United States: giving ostentatious tips to service staff; engaging in reputation micromanagement by attempting to shame critics. For four years Donald Trump had the most powerful job in the world. But this is what he cared about. Never mind the ignorance, criminality, and inclination toward totalitarianism -- this alone would be reason enough never to let him near the Oval Office again. He's a small, pathetic man. I hope we're spared four more years of his boundless emotional needs.

Tuesday, August 09, 2022

CONSERVATISM IS A FANTASY CAMP

This seems to be the most common right-wing response to the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago:



Do liberals think like this? I don't remember any ordinary citizens responding to the Monica Lewinsky scandal by saying, "That guy had sex in a room just off the Oval Office and now they're persecuting him. This could happen to me, too!" When they went after Hillary Clinton because they thought she was personally responsible for Benghazi, Democratic voters didn't say, "The next time Americans are killed at a diplomatic outpost overseas, they'll probably blame me!"

But for years conservatism has been like one of those rock and roll fantasy camps where you get to play rhythm guitar with washed-up fifth-rate rock musicians and imagine that you're a big star. The gun community has been selling fantasies of power and importance for years, telling gun owners that they're personally keeping freedom alive in America, when all they actually want to do is drink beer and shoot cans off a fencepost.

Tucker Carlson routinely tells his audience that the day's news is a dire threat to you.

Use the Fear, Tuck.


Donald Trump uses this formula as well. We think his appeal is that ordinary people believe he's really just like them, only rich and powerful -- a "blue-collar billionaire." But looked at another way, the Trump message isn't so much about Trump being as ordinary as his fans as it is about the fans being as world-historically important as he is. That's what got them to the Capitol on January 6. That's what leads them to demand 2020 election audits conducted by people like themselves. In the context of QAnon and vaccine skepticism, it's what inspires them to boast, "I do my own research." They see themselves as heroes of their own story. In the Tea Party era, they used to wear tricorn hats and imagine themselves as soldiers of the American Revolution. They give themselves names that suggest hero status: Oath Keepers, for instance, or Three Percenters (from the belief that "During the American Revolution, the active forces in the field against the King's tyranny never amounted to more than 3% of the colonists").

In fact, they're being manipulated for the benefit of someone else -- Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, billionaire GOP donors. But they always fall for the fantasy.

Monday, August 08, 2022

THE STUPIDEST SCOOP

The Federalist's Tristan Justice breathlessly reports:
Liz Cheney’s Husband Is Partner At Law Firm Representing Hunter Biden

Philip Perry, who is married to Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, is a partner at the same law firm representing President Joe Biden’s scandal-ridden son, Hunter.

Last week, the Daily Mail reached out to Hunter Biden’s attorney for comment on a story unearthing new details to the extent the younger Biden leveraged the family name for lucrative overseas business ventures....

An attorney named Christopher Clark, who is listed with the firm Latham & Watkins as partner, responded to the Daily Mail’s request for comment calling the reporter a “parasite”....

Perry is also listed as a partner with Lathan & Watkins on the firm’s website while his wife runs for re-election on an anti-Trump platform ahead of the Wyoming primary next week.
Okay, Tristan, slow down.

Do you know how many partners there are at Latham & Watkins? Want to take a guess? Ten? Twenty-five? Seventy-five?

I'll tell you: In all its offices, Latham & Watkins has 911 partners.

And Clark and Perry aren't even partners in the same office. Clark, who's representing Hunter Biden, works in the New York office, where he's one of 190 partners. Perry, Liz Cheney's husband, works in the D.C. office, where he's one of 139 partners. Lathan & Watkins also has offices in Austin, Beijing, Boston, Brussels, Century City, Chicago, Dubai, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hong Kong, Houston, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Milan, Moscow, Munich, Orange County (California), Paris, Riyadh, San Diego, San Francisco, Seoul, Shanghai, Silicon Valley, Singapore, and Tokyo.

My point being: Latham & Walkins is a very large law firm. It is so large that one of 190 New York partners should not be expected to know what one of 139 partners in D.C. is doing. They're not colluding. They're not collaborating. They're just two partners in a big firm. And Tristan Justice is an idiot, as are his editors.

RON DeSANTIS, THE MOST ARROGANT CANDIDATE IN AMERICA

Here's a story from Fox News:
EXCLUSIVE: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is hitting the campaign trail this month to headline Turning Point Action’s "Unite and Win" rallies in support of Trump-endorsed candidates.

DeSantis will travel to New Mexico, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Ohio this month in support of GOP candidates, including Ohio Republican candidate for Senate JD Vance, Pennsylvania's GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, Arizona Republican candidate for Senate Blake Masters and GOP nominee for governor Kari Lake.

Turning Point Action is hosting, and organizing the rallies with DeSantis in an effort to "unite" the Republican Party.

"Gov. DeSantis is America’s governor and one of the most popular leaders in America," Charlie Kirk, founder and president of Turning Point Action, told Fox News.
Ron DeSantis is America's governor? Really? Because it's theoretically possible that, come next year, Ron DeSantis won't even be his own state's governor: Florida Politics reports:
A poll released by two Florida progressive groups suggest Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis may face more resistance to re-election than expected.

Survey results released by Progress Florida and Florida Watch show 47% of registered voters intend to vote for DeSantis for re-election, while 44% intend to vote for U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist. DeSantis leads Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, 49%-43%.
A memo from the pollsters adds:
Given his financial advantage DeSantis remains a favorite to win re-election, but this polarizing nature could put a ceiling on his support (DeSantis is viewed favorably by 50% of voters and unfavorably by 48%; 39% view him very favorably and 40% view him very unfavorably).

Importantly, this data comes from a poll weighted to reflect what would be the most pro-Republican electorate in recent history: with registered Republicans making up 41% of the electorate and registered Democrats 37%.
The same poll shows Democrat Val Demings tied with incumbent Marco Rubio, 45%-45%, in this year's Senate race.

This isn't the only poll to show a tight gubernatorial race in Florida. A Phillips Academy survey in May showed DeSantis leading by less than a point. A poll released in early June by the Listener Group actually showed Crist leading by 1. (Crist is the favorite to win the Democratic nomination, according to the Real Clear Politics average; the primary is August 23.)

I know that DeSantis has more money than God in his campaign coffers. He probably won't lose. But he's campaigning for other people -- among them some of the worst figures in America -- as if he already has his own race won. Pretty arrogant for a guy who won his last race by four tenths of a point.

DeSantis is a Republican, of course, so if he wins by an eyelash, he'll act as if he won by a landslide. He certainly won't reconsider a presidential run (though I think there are limits to his arrogance -- he won't run for president if he actually loses in November).

So I wonder: If DeSantis is victorious this year and then goes on to win the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, will he run as if he already has the November election sewn up? The Fox News echo chamber might persuade him that he can't lose. And that might be why he does.

Sunday, August 07, 2022

REPUBLICANS REALLY THINK ISSUES CAN'T HURT THEM

Maybe I'm naive, but this seems like an ill-advised vote in an election year:
Republican senators on Sunday voted down a cap on the price of insulin in the private market, removing it from Democrats' sweeping climate and economic package.

Democrats had tried to preserve the provision to cap insulin costs at $35 for private insurers, but that vote failed 57-43, with seven Republicans voting with them to keep the insulin cost cap in the bill, three short of what was needed.
You'd assume that the seven Republicans voting for the insulin price cap would include several who are running for reelection in November -- but only two of the seven, Alaska's Lisa Murkowski and Louisiana's John Kennedy, are facing voters this year.
Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy of Louisiana; Susan Collins of Maine; Josh Hawley of Missouri; Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi; and Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan of Alaska joined Democrats in voting to keep the insulin cap for private insurers on Sunday.
Quite a few of the Republican senators up for reelection this year are all but certain to win: John Boozman of Arkansas, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Todd Young of Indiana, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, John Hoeven of North Dakota, James Lankford of Oklahoma, John Thune of South Dakota, and Mike Lee of Utah. But Wisconsin's Ron Johnson trailed his likely Democratic opponent, Mandela Barnes, in an early-summer poll. He voted against the cap. Marco Rubio seems to have only a single-digit lead in his Florida race, as does Chuck Grassley in Iowa. They voted against the cap. South Carolina's Tim Scott wants to be reelected this year and then reportedly wants to be president, or possibly vice president. He voted against the cap.

This is the same Republican Party that seems surprised by voter backlash to the recent Supreme Court ruling on abortion. The party's message, dutifully parroted by Shane Goldmacher and Maggie Haberman in The New York Times yesterday, is that, sure, Democrats seem to be doing much better in midterm polling and fund-raising than a party with an unpopular president ought to be doing, but that can't possibly last. Don't be fooled by the fact that they have the popular positions on gun violence (after several recent mass shootings), abortion (after Dobbs), and other issues -- none of that will really matter in November. (The story by Goldmacher and Haberman quotes six Republicans and only two Democrats, and not surprisingly, it seems to accept this framing.)

Republicans arrogantly believe that they can decide the terms of our political debate at any time, and Democrats never can. I admit that Democrats often fail to do this, but it's not because they can't. They appear to be doing it now.

Or you could say that Republicans are still deciding what issues we'll talk about, just not to their own advantage this time. In any case, they don't seem to believe it's even theoretically possible for them to lose on issues. We'll see if they're right.

Saturday, August 06, 2022

IMAGINE BEING THIS BAD AT JUDGING CHARACTER

This is how you think when your brain contains nothing but data points and you think everyone else's is the same:


Imagine having this poor an understanding of the emotions and appetites that drive Trump, even though you've watched him as part of your job for seven years.

Trump will never run with DeSantis. Trump has a desperate need to be seen as the alpha male at all times. He knows that DeSantis aspires to his status in the GOP and might have the mojo to supplant him. The last thing he'd ever do would be enable the guy who wants his crown.

Before the 2020 election, it wasn't absurd to imagine that Joe Biden might allow himself to be seen as a placeholder for his party -- though please note that he hasn't actually done that. He's proud of his presidency and plans to run again; he's not making way for Kamala Harris or anyone else. If even Biden won't embrace lame-duck status while giving his full blessing to a successor, why would you imagine that Donald Trump, of all people, might do it, publicly or even privately?


With a different candidate at the top of the ticket, being the running mate/heir apparent could be a good deal for DeSantis, even in defeat. After her 2008 convention speech, Sarah Palin seemed as if she'd have a big future in the GOP, and Republicans still saw her as a star even after a rough fall campaign. If the favorite for 2024 were someone like John McCain or Bob Dole, running mate DeSantis could make a national name for himself as a culture warrior and hatchet man. If his ticket ran and won, he could be the ideologue VP in the mold of Spiro Agnew; he could be a more articulate Dan Quayle. I can imagine him taking advantage of an opportunity like that. But Trump wouldn't let DeSantis make high-profile speeches. Trump wouldn't want him getting a lot of attention on Fox even if Fox was lavishing praise on Trump.

So no, this won't happen. Try again, Matt.

(And yes, I realize that if there were a Trump/DeSantis tiket, one of them would have to change residences so the ticket wouldn't have to forgo Florida's electoral votes. But Trump could easily declare New York City or Bedminster his legal residence.)

Friday, August 05, 2022

THE GOP SHOULDN'T BE ABLE TO WALK BACK ITS ABORTION ABSOLUTISM

Today The New York Times has a story about Republicans who are desperately trying to recalibrate their positions on abortion in an election year, in response to widespread voter anger about the Dobbs ruling and state bans. The story mentions the likely Republican candidates for governor and lieutenant governor of Minnesota.
In Minnesota, Scott Jensen, a family physician who said in March that he would “try to ban abortion” as governor, said in a video released before [Tuesday's] Kansas vote that he does support some exceptions: “If I’ve been unclear previously, I want to be clear now.”
I wouldn't say he was unclear. Here was Jensen in May, in a different interview:


Now he says he supports rape and incest exceptions, as well as exceptions when "the pregnant woman's ... mental and physical health is in danger or jeopardized."

The Times notes that the incumbent governor, Democrat Tim Walz, who is pro-choice and is running for reelection, doesn't trust Jensen or his running mate on this:
Mr. Walz said he would stay on offense, and not accept any softening of the Republican line.

“I take them at their first word,” he said of Dr. Jensen and his running mate, Matt Birk, a former N.F.L. player and anti-abortion rights advocate. “If they get the opportunity they will criminalize this while we’re trying to protect it. So it’s become a central theme, obviously, I think that flip on their part was in response to that.”
About that running mate: Matt Birk, who played for the Baltimore Ravens when they won the Super Bowl in 2013, refused to accompany his teammates to the Obama White House after the victory because the president supported Planned Parenthood. Also, Birk boasts that the crisis pregnancy center where his wife used to volunteer conducted Catholic Masses facing a Planned Parenthood facility across the street -- until the Planned Parenthood facility relocated.

And on the day Roe v. Wade was overturned, Birk delivered a speech at an anti-abortion convention in which he said some choice things:
Birk told the audience: “It’s not over. Our culture loudly but also stealthily, promotes abortion. Telling women they should look a certain way, have careers, all these things.” ...
Yes -- how terrible it is that women have careers.
“Rape is obviously a horrible thing,” Birk said. “But an abortion is not going to heal the wounds of that. Two wrongs, it’s not going to make it right.... One of the arguments that I saw probably 20 times online today was about rape. And you know, obviously, they always want to go to the rape card.” ...

“Shortly after we won the Super Bowl—did I mention I won the Super Bowl?... They said, well, abortion’s legal. And it was kind of an easy out for a lot of people.... A lot of things have been legal before that we’ve changed, right. We always hear about, I’m sure you’ve heard—I know I’m talking to a bunch of pro-life warriors here—you know slavery used to be legal, right. Which is an interesting comparison to make, because really the way that the other side treats an unborn child is basically that the unborn child is the property of the mother. Other laws, you know, women used to not be able to vote in our country. Now we let ’em drive. I mean, I have three teenage daughters that drive, I don’t know if that’s a good law or not. Just kidding. Sorry, kidding, kidding to all the women out there. And don’t tell my wife I used that joke, she hates that joke.”


These are the people who are running for office in the GOP. The party can't be allowed to walk this back.

ALEX JONES JUST KEEPS DARVO-ING

As you know, a jury in Texas ordered Alex Jones to pay more than $4 million to parents of a Sandy Hook shooting victim who've experienced years of harassment since the massacre, largely because Jones repeatedly referred to the shooting as a hoax and the parents as crisis actors. This doesn't seem like much when you learn that Jones got $8 million in bitcoin in a month from an anonymous benefactor this past spring. (Who was the giver? Peter Thiel? That heiress to the Publix supermarket fortune whose donation to the January 6 rally was facilitated by Jones?)

Punitive damages are still to be awarded, but they're unlikely to be much more:


Jones sells more than $50 million worth of Infowars merchandise a year. He can handle this. It won't make him stop. A couple more trials of this kind won't stop him either, unless the verdicts are far more punitive.

I'm not even feeling much schadenfreude at the news that Jones's texts, which were mistakenly released to the plaintiffs' lawyers in this trial, will now go to House January 6 investigators. Will there really be anything relevant to the investigation that the committee hasn't seen? As The New York Times notes:
Even though Mr. Jones refused to share information with the committee, he said the investigators seemed to have found ways around his lack of cooperation. He said the committee had already obtained text messages from him.

“They have everything that’s already on my phones and things,” he said. “I saw my text messages” with political organizers tied to the Jan. 6 rally.
Maybe I'm underestimating the possible consequences for Jones, but for now he's still the same scumbag he's always been. He's not chastened. He's performatively chastened. I watched a Jones clip made in response to the verdict and he's still the cult leader/narcissist/domestic abuser he's always been. Here it is, if you can bear it.



His monologue starts at 1:33. (If the video isn't working, go here or here.

He says he's still the victim of the usual enemies -- and therefore so are his fans:
The Democratic Party, the entire corporate media, lined up against Infowars and the American people's free speech.
He's still portraying the trial as a mockery of justice:
The judge more than twenty times in the last week and a half in Austin, Texas, told the jury, while I was there in the courtroom and was on national TV, that Alex Jones is guilty.
Yes -- last October you were found liable (the correct word isn't "guilty") because you persistently defied the court:
Judge Maya Guerra Gamble in Austin, home of Infowars, entered default judgments against Jones, Infowars and other defendants for what she called their “flagrant bad faith and callous disregard” of court orders to turn over documents to the parents’ lawyers.
As the video goes on, Jones claims a great victory because the plaintiffs' lawyers asked for much more in damages than the plaintiffs will receive. And this is where, in the clip, Jones starts to seem like a domestic abuser. As if he's apologizing for a beating without actually acknowledging that he administered it, Jones now embraces the notion that what he said about Sandy Hook was wrong -- and claims that he was misled. He's the victim as much as the parents are.
I admitted I was wrong. I admitted I made a mistake. I admitted that I followed disinformation, but not on purpose. I apologized to the families, and the jury understood that. What I did to those families was wrong, but I didn't do it on purpose.
Where is this going? Jones is sorting the trial participants into two categories. The parents are good. The judge is bad -- but so are the parents' lawyers.
... the plaintiffs' lawyers got upset in the courtroom, and according to multiple witnesses were screaming and yelling at my lawyers, Joe and Andino, when they were in the hall. They thought they would get hundreds of millions of dollars we don't have. They thought they would shut us down.
Then, later:
... they use these families as pawns. The families come over and shook my hand and hugged me and really woke up to the fact that they'd been manipulated. And their own lawyers went [snaps fingers] like they were dogs: "Get over here and stop talking to him!" On video!
And here's where you learn that the barrel has no bottom:
I told, and my lawyer told, that jury, I said, "Listen, we want to pay for their psychological stuff, we want to take care of problems, we didn't cause all of it, but we want to step up and prove that and do that." And Scarlett Lewis [the mother of the dead child] has a beautiful organization called Choose Love that isn't about gun control, isn't about liberal and conservative, it's about teaching children love and compassion so they're not hateful, so they're not satanic, so they don't kill people, and I have invited Scarlett Lewis on my show. We're going to email her organization. If I see her tomorrow during the punitive phase, I'm going to shake her hand and give her my number, and I am going to gladly have her on my show next week, and I'm going to raise money for her organization on top of the big judgment, because she's a real lady, she lost her child, and I'm not going to let these people misrepresent what I said and did anymore, and claim that I'm the Sandy Hook man. This is a beautiful time, it's a great time, and the trial lawyers, the ambulance chasers, lost, America and the First Amendment won, and the poor parents that went through so much, Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, they have won as well.
The parents, to Jones, are people who "went through so much" as a result of ... what? Surely nothing he did! He's not "the Sandy Hook man"!

He's brutalized them and now he's trying to seduce them. It's not pure DARVO (Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender) -- he's denying guilt, he's attacking the judge, he's playing the victim (I've spared you transcripts of Jones's deceitful whining about bankruptcy), but he's not claiming the parents are the offenders. Instead, he's saying their lawyers are the offenders. They're "ambulance chasers"! They want to make him out to be the bad guy!

Jones's narcissist brain is still churning. He's still selling. (In the clip he lists many fine Infowars products viewers might especially want to buy now, in his time of great need.) He's still bargaining. It upsets me because, while I'm not the kind of person who responds to it, he clearly is telegenic and charismatic in a pro-wrestling, broadcast-evangelist way. He's still good at this. He's not going to stop being this Alex Jones until circumstances make it impossible for him to continue. And this judgment isn't going to accomplish that.

Thursday, August 04, 2022

NOT EXACTLY THE NEW DEAL

Over at The New York Times, Ross Douthat discussed the August 2 election results with Tim Miller, a Never Trumper and writer for The Bulwark, and Rachel Bovard, a "national conservative" and writer for The Federalist, where she has published important contributions to our political discourse such as "Yes, the Senate Should Investigate Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Leniency Towards Sex Predators" and "The RNC’s Censure of Cheney and Kinzinger Is Absolutely Necessary." She's recently taken to Twitter to whine about the "deplatforming" of Alex's War, a hagiographic documentary about Alex Jones.


If you're inclined to believe Bovard when she says this movie has been rendered invisible by Orwellian cultural totalitarians, take a look at the film's website:


In the Times discussion, Bovard pushes back on Miller's assertion that Arizona Republicans "put up a slate of 'Big Lie' candidates at the top of the ticket." She says:
I would dispute the notion that Arizona represented “a slate of ‘Big Lie’ candidates.”

... the Blake Masters campaign in particular represented a depth of issues that appealed to Arizona voters and could represent a new generation of Republicans.
A depth of issues? Such as?
A very significant part of Trump’s appeal, what he perhaps taught the G.O.P., was that he spoke for voters who stood outside of party orthodoxy on a number of issues. And that’s where Masters tried to distinguish himself. He had a provocative campaign message early in his campaign: American families should be able to survive on a single income. That presents all kinds of challenges to standard Republican economic policy, how we think about family policy and how the two fit together.
And:
He also seems to be fearless in the culture wars, something else that Republicans are anxious to see.
That last sentence is certainly true.

But I want to get back to that notion of a Trumpist and post-Trumpist conservatism that stands "outside of party orthodoxy" on economics. Masters does say that American families should be able to survive on a single income. He also talks a lot about the culture wars. It's clear from what Bovard says that she thinks this is an important new direction for conservatism. Later she says, "I tend to think there’s a lane for Trump-endorsed candidates who lean into the Trump-style economics and key culture fights," and it's clear that she thinks "the Trump-style economics" were somehow different from Reaganite economics, even though Trump's one major economic bill was ... a bog-standard tax cut for the rich.

So after Bovard tell us that Blake Masters has challenged GOP economic orthodoxy with a bold new idea about economics and families, Douthat askes her a question about Masters and his fellow Peter Thiel minion, the GOP candidate for Senate in Ohio, J.D. Vance:
Rachel, say Masters and Vance are both in the Senate in 2023 as spokesmen for this new culturally conservative economic populism you favor. What’s the first bill they co-sponsor?
Okay, what's her answer? What's the big bill that's going to bring the Establishment to its knees and liberate American families from the two-income trap?

Are you sitting down?
Bovard: I’d say a large tax on university endowments.
She's serious. These candidates are making lofty promises of a new America where the economic order has been completely overturned, to the benefit of ordinary people, and the crucial step that's going to get us there is ... taxing Harvard. Not hedge funds. Not oil companies. Not private equity. Not Big Tech. Harvard.

Meanwhile, if you ever find yourself imagining that maybe the Republican Party is genuinely changed, and really does intend to center ordinary working people, let Ron Johnson disabuse you of that notion:
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) has suggested that Social Security and Medicare be eliminated as federal entitlement programs, and that they should instead become programs approved by Congress on an annual basis as discretionary spending....

In an interview that aired Tuesday on “The Regular Joe Show” podcast, Johnson, who is seeking a third term in the Senate, lamented that the Social Security and Medicare programs automatically grant benefits to those who meet the qualifications — that is, to those who had been paying into the system over their working life.

“If you qualify for the entitlement, you just get it no matter what the cost,” Johnson said. “And our problem in this country is that more than 70 percent of our federal budget, of our federal spending, is all mandatory spending. It’s on automatic pilot. It never — you just don’t do proper oversight. You don’t get in there and fix the programs going bankrupt. It’s just on automatic pilot.”
This isn't quite as much of a threat to Social Security and Medicare as Senator Rick Scott's notorious twelve-point plan, which called for every federal law to sunset after five years. ("If a law is worth keeping, Congress can pass it again.") But they're both efforts to start the process of chipping away at these entitlements, as Republicans have wanted to do for decades. So, sure, they'll tax the hell out of Harvard, and I'm sure that will solve all of working America's problems, even as Grandma and Grampa move in because they can't afford their mortgage payments or hip surgery. If the money doesn't work out, I'm sure Senator Johnson, or Senator Vance or Masters, will appears on (checks notes) "The Regular Joe Show" to explain why not raising taxes on mega-corporations is actually good for working people, because woke CRT Antifa Hunter Biden.

Wednesday, August 03, 2022

RANDOM AUGUST 2 ELECTION THOUGHTS

The 59%-41% victory for abortion rights in Kansas -- a state Donald Trump won in 2020 by 14 points -- is remarkable. I want to believe that it's a good sign for Democrats in November. But here's the pessimists' take:


Maybe the right has done most of the work this year and voters will associate policies they agree with, such as abortion rights, with the party that supports them. But somehow Democoratic policies are always more popular than the Democratic Party. This could be because Democrats tend to be elected at the national level when America is reeling from some Republican policy failure or crisis (the Iraq War, the 2008 economic collapse, COVID), which means that Democrats are blamed for not getting the problems solved swiftly. But I think it's also the fact that Democrats do very little brand management -- the party only occasionally says, "This is why we rule and the other guys suck." That's what Republicans do every day. Democrats need to manage GOP-created crises, and need to deliver more of their agenda -- but they also need to say, "Do you like these policies? Then vote Democrat."

Still, I'll take the win, and I'll note that I'm amused by Breitbart's scare quotes:



*****

Republican voters in Missouri rejected the Senate candidacy of rapist and sociopath Eric Greitens, which is good, but state attorney general Eric Schmitt, who won the primary and is now likely to be the next senator from the state, is no prize:
Following in the storied tradition of Senator Josh Hawley, Eric Schmitt has dutifully spent his time as Missouri's attorney general campaigning for what he hopes will be his next job as U.S. senator. For the most part, that's involved fastidiously tracking the latest fronts in the United States' ongoing culture wars, from mask-mandate mania to critical race theory panic to attacks on trans people — and then suing the shit out of everyone involved. Often that's the state's underfunded public schools, which then have to spend what little taxpayer money they're allotted on fending off the AG's legal attacks, which are also funded by taxpayers, thereby creating something of an ouroboros of perfectly wasteful spending. Oh, and he also sued China over COVID-19 — totally on behalf of the people of Missouri, not at all a transparent campaign stunt.
That lawsuit against China was thrown out of court by U.S. district judge Stephen Limbaugh Jr. -- yes, Rush Limbaugh's cousin. LOL.

*****

And now here's a question: Are there now shy anti-Trump voters? Or at least shy anti-Trumpist voters? As I write this, the ultra-Trumpist Kari Lake has a slight lead in the Arizona GOP gubernatorial primary over the Mike Pence-endorsed Karrin Taylor Robson. But most recent polls projected that Lake would win by a lot more. An OH Predictive Insights poll gave Lake an 18-point lead, and a Trafalgar Group poll put Lake's lead at 11. Right now she's leading by barely 2 and the race hasn't been called. Only an Emerson poll, which gave Robson a 1-point lead, seems to have predicted the race more or less accurately.

Trafalgar Group made its reputation in 2016 by predicting the Trump victory. It ascribed its polling success, in part, to screening for "social desirability bias" -- which means determining whether poll respondents are saying what they think is socially acceptable.

After 2016, many pollsters looked for a formula that would ensure they wouldn't miss Trumpist voters who might be reluctant to express their opinions. But maybe in Arizona it was election non-truthers who felt they couldn't tell pollsters what they really believed. I don't know if that's what explains the polling failure, but I'll be curious to find out.

Tuesday, August 02, 2022

OH LOOK, IT'S DINESH D'SOUZA GLEEFULLY IMAGINING NANCY PELOSI'S DEATH AND PROMINENT REPUBLICANS RESPONDING WITH "YEAH, WHATEVER"

Dinesh D'Souza: still morally repulsive.
Conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza polled Twitter Tuesday over whether it is “appropriate to cheer” if China shoots down House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plane for visiting Taiwan....

Right around the time Pelosi touched down in Taiwan, D’Souza asked his Twitter followers, “If the Chinese shoot down Pelosi’s plane, is it appropriate to cheer or immediately demand World War 3?”

As of 3:20 p.m. ET, more than 13,000 people had voted in the poll, with more than 75% of them agreeing cheering such an outcome is “appropriate.”

Among the people who responded to this tweet were two U.S. senators and the chair of the Republican Party:



Yes, these are replies to the D'Souza tweet. If you ask these folks, they'll say they never expressed glee at the thought of Nancy Pelosi dying in a shootdown -- they just used this tweet as an excuse to spread unrelated right-wing talking points.

But apparently it's unthinkable that the head of the Republican Party and two U.S. senators might actually condemn this eliminationist tweet. While we're told that random liberals on social media said cruel things about Kentuckians who are experiencing deadly floods, here's one of the most influential ideologues on the right gleefully imagining the death of a Democratic Speaker of the House, and no one on the right can be bothered to condemn it.

It's not just that Republicans are awful -- it's that they rarely pay a price for being awful, or tolerating awfulness.

TRUMP'S 2024 RUNNING MATE?

This couldn't really happen, could it?
Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene was greeted with cheers of “MTG for VP” during her appearance with former President Donald Trump at the past weekend’s LIV Golf Tournament at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

The conservative pro-Trump lawmaker said she was honored by the cheers and is open to being the former president’s running mate in the likelihood he runs again in 2024....

Trump allies have suggested that Greene is on the former president’s short list of potential vice presidential picks.

For his first run, Trump wanted someone who looked the part -- someone straight out of "central casting" was the way he put it. Pence looked like a traditional, mainstream potential president without being the kind of person who would steal the spotlight from Trump. Pence seemed like a safe choice -- Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz might have picked him.

But will Trump want to have more fun this time? Look at his preposterous decision to endorse "Eric" in the Missouri Senate primary without specifying whether he means alleged domestic abuser and sex criminal Eric Greitens or Eric Schmitt, who's merely an election truther:
At the center of Monday’s episode, according to several people familiar with what transpired, was Kimberly Guilfoyle, the fiancée of Donald Trump Jr. who spent the weekend making the case for [former governor Eric] Greitens while attending a golf tournament Trump hosted at his Bedminster, N.J. club.

A little after noon, Trump was having a previously scheduled meeting with RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, where the Missouri race became a topic of discussion. During the sit-down, Trump called Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, a Greitens foe who referenced a recent poll showing the former governor trailing in the primary....

By the time Guilfoyle made it into the room, Hawley was no longer on the line. McDaniel, who like other senior Republicans tried to dissuade Trump from endorsing Greitens for fear that he could lose the seat to a Democrat in the general election and that his nomination would force Republicans to spent money in a state that should be safe for the party, remained in the meeting....

Guilfoyle was steadfast in her defense of the former governor, saying that the party establishment had been trying to get Trump to oppose Greitens. McDaniel, meanwhile, reiterated her argument that Greitens would make for a weak nominee given his personal baggage.

As the meeting wore on, those familiar with what transpired say, Trump began to lose patience. At one point it was suggested that he could endorse “Eric,” and that by doing so he would be supporting both Schmitt and Greitens....

Trump later asked allies Pam Bondi and Matthew Whitaker, both of whom are backing Schmitt, for their views. At another point, he surveyed Chris Cox, the founder of the “Bikers for Trump” coalition, who was also on the Bedminster property. Cox excused himself from the office so he could get a reading of those in his organization. Upon reentering the office, he informed Trump that his crowd was aligned with Greitens.

But Trump circled back to the idea of endorsing the two Erics....
Someone might have to explain to him that he can't have several running mates, because the Electoral College can pick only one if he wins. But that idea really might occur to him. (There could be a contest after the election! He can "fire" the running mates people don't want!)

I think people with roots in mainstream politics would try to talk him out of running with Greene. Also, she has a big personality, and I don't think he'd be pleased if the media focused on her. So I think she's probably out of the running. But who knows?

Monday, August 01, 2022

YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE CHARISMATIC TO BE THE RIGHT'S KIND OF WHINER

Amanda Marcotte thinks Ron DeSantis can't possibly appeal to right-wing voters the way Donald Trump does.
Hey, anything is possible, especially if the Department of Justice actually sucks it up and does the right thing in charging Trump for one or more of his many crimes.... But if what GOP elites are looking for is someone who can excite the lizard brains of the GOP base without all that pesky criminal baggage, well, DeSantis just isn't their guy.
It's the lack of charisma, Marcotte says.
Boston Globe columnist Michael Cohen, in a recent newsletter, took a shot at explaining why feels like DeSantis-mentum is more fantasy than reality. DeSantis, Cohen argues, is "a smug and charmless jerk" who "struggles to keep his inner hater under wraps." DeSantis, Cohen argues, has cultivated "an image as the country's angriest, pettiest, and most vindictive cultural warrior."

Of course, all that is also true of Trump. Cohen tries to square that circle by arguing that Trump, unlike DeSantis, "is charming and charismatic" to many Americans, "as crazy as it might seem."

... [Trump's] "shock jock" persona is aspirational, drawing in people who wish they, too, could just be shitty to people's faces without having to pay social consequences....
I get this. The audiences have fun at Trump rallies. He entertains them. DeSantis isn't entertaining.

But the man who first rode the modern politics of right-wing grievance all the way to the White House wasn't likable, either. Richard Nixon was sour and dyspeptic. He seemed humorless and self-pitying. None of this held him back.

Marcotte thinks Trump persuades voters that he doesn't mind if they have fun.
... what they know about Trump is that he's been married three times, has kids with all his wives, and is a chronic adulterer who has probably caused an abortion or ten in his lifetime. Trump's hilariously fake "Christianity," perversely, is reassuring to the segment of Republican-leaning voters who are racist and sexist, but also like having sex and aren't keen on having the Jesus police stationing themselves in American bedrooms....

DeSantis, on the other hand, has made being a censorious fundamentalist his political identity, especially by enthusiastically backing the "don't say gay" law in Florida and declaring war on Disney for resisting him. There's nothing to hang onto for people looking for a reason to vote Republican, but who don't want to see themselves as the book-banning sex police.
Is that how DeSantis comes off? I think DeSantis's fans believe that he's okay with "normal-people" sex, just not all that queer stuff. In his time, Richard Nixon seemed comfortable with suburbanites downing cocktails, but utterly intolerant of, y'know, drugs.

Nixon wasn't charismatic, but it was okay -- he loathed the people his voters loathed (hippies, Blacks, anti-war protesters), and that was enough. I agree that Trump will be tough to beat in 2024, but hating and harming the right people might be all DeSantis needs.

CONVENTION OF STATES: RESISTANCE IS FUTILE! (ACTUALLY, IT ISN'T.)

Over the weekend, Insider (aka Business Insider) published a long story designed to persuade readers that a constitutional convention is coming and there's nothing evil big-government libs can do to stop it:
... interviews with a dozen people involved in the constitutional convention movement, along with documents and audio recordings reviewed by Insider, reveal a sprawling, well-funded — at least partly by cryptocurrency — and impassioned campaign taking root across multiple s.

Notably fueling them: success.

... This isn't an exercise, either. State lawmakers are invited to huddle in Denver starting on Sunday to learn more about the inner workings of a possible constitutional convention at Academy of States 3.0, the third installment of a boot camp preparing state lawmakers "in anticipation of an imminent Article V Convention."

Rob Natelson, a constitutional scholar and senior fellow at the Independence Institute who closely studies Article V of the Constitution, predicted to Insider there's a 50% chance that the United States will witness a constitutional convention in the next five years. Whether it happens, he said, is highly dependent on Republicans' success winning state legislatures during the 2022 midterm elections.
Right-wingers can have their convention if 34 state legislatures call for it. So far they have ... 19. Over the years they've failed to get support in blue states, of course, but also in states such as Wyoming, Kansas, Kentucky, and Ohio.

But we're told that they might be close to unstoppable.
What's new now is the ever-evolving power coupling of a corporation-backed ideological juggernaut led by ALEC, a nonprofit organization with close ties to large tobacco and drug companies, and a determined Republican Party increasingly dominating many of the nation's 50 statehouses.

If they were successful, a constitutional convention led by conservatives could trigger sweeping changes to the Constitution.

Their goals include gutting federal environmental standards, nixing nationwide education requirements, and creating an incredibly high threshold for Washington, DC, or a territory to earn statehood. Some would like to make it difficult, if not impossible, for someone — National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, for example — to work for decades within the federal government.
It's true that Republicans have seized control of many state legislatures. But while it takes 34 states to call for a convention, and to pass amendments, it takes 38 states to actually ratify those amendments. Legislatures in most of the Northeast are too blue to vote for right-wing constitutional amendments, as are legislatures in Maryland, Illinois, Colorado, New Mexico, California, Washington State, Oregon, and Hawaii.

But the Insider story insists that the right is poised for victory even if nothing happens after the midterms.
... the movement's most devoted supporters, like [former senator Rick] Santorum, say they are in for the long haul — and they argue that changing the Constitution is a goal existential to America's existence that looms larger than a single election cycle.

"Yeah, we'll have a good election. But the movement is inextricable. Why? Because every institution in America is against us," Santorum said, invoking the founders and their vision of federalism. "I say to you, as Republican state legislators, that you actually have the key."

Activists also say that with Congress sharply divided, a convention would send an unmistakable message to Washington that lawmakers need to change their way — or be prepared to get run over.

"The states have sort of lost their voice, and all we can do now is beg from the cheap seats and say, 'Hey, don't do that," said state Rep. Bill Taylor of South Carolina, who led his state's push to pass a call for a convention....

"The idea of states coming together is going to scare the living hell out of Washington," Taylor told Insider. "They are going to be terrified of the states."

... [Arn] Pearson [of the Center for Media and Democracy said] that a convention just passing a polarizing amendment would allow conservatives to play the long game and "dominate the political debate in the country for the next decade" with contentious ratification battles in the states.

"It's a brilliant strategy for controlling a political agenda for quite some time," he said.
No, actually it isn't. If you pass crackpot amendments, blue states will simply vote them down, and once you get to 13 rejections for an amendment, it's dead. This will be a reminder that the GOP is an extremist party.

Telling the readers of Insider that the libs will really be owned if Republicans do well in state legislative elections is a clever way to get out the vote and open donors' wallets. But I just don't see how any of these amendments will pass.