Friday, June 30, 2023


Today of all days, it's bizarre reading this:

In case you don't know the backstory, New York City is asking pizza shops that use wood- or coal-fired ovens to install filtration systems in order to reduce their emissions. Fewer than a hundred pizzerias are affected by this edict, because most of the city's pizza ovens aren't fueled by wood or coal. (The city has well over a thousand pizza places.) The owner of one acclaimed restaurant has already complied and doesn't think the new policy is an outrage:
... the owner of one Brooklyn joint [says] he’s already tossed $20,000 on an air filter system in anticipation of the new mandate.

“Oh yeah, it’s a big expense!” said Paul Giannone, the owner of Paulie Gee’s in Greenpoint. “It’s not just the expense of having it installed, it’s the maintenance. I got to pay somebody to do it, to go up there every couple of weeks and hose it down and you know do the maintenance.”

Giannone added that while the air filter is “expensive and it’s a huge hassle,” it also has some upsides.

“My neighbors are much happier. I had a guy coming in for years complaining that the smoke was, you know, going right into his apartment and I haven’t seen him since I got the scrubber installed.”

... Giannone ... said that despite assertions to the contrary, the air scrubbers will not affect the quality of the taste or texture of the pies.

“If someone is trying to say that putting the scrubber in changes the flavor of the pizza they’re just trying to save themselves $20,000. No, it doesn’t affect what’s going on inside the oven,” he said.

“No, it hasn’t changed the taste. It hasn’t changed the pizza. It hasn’t changed our product at all.”
You can debate whether this is a good idea or just a pointless crackdown on a relatively insignificant source of carbon emissions. But the goal isn't to "control behavior" in a totalitarian way. The city hopes the pizzerias will install better filtration and then go on serving pies. And yet the message from DeSantis and others is that liberalism is an all-powerful totalitarian system of control, comparable to the worst dictatorships in human history. As DeSantis told Fox's Jesse Watters this week (over coal-fired pizza in New York):
“You have an itch on the left, they want to control behavior. We saw the same thing with COVID. A lot of that wasn’t about your health, it’s that they wanted to control your behavior. They just don’t want people to be happy and make their own decisions.”
Get a right-winger going on this subject and you'll be told that an all-powerful axis of evil -- American liberals, George Soros, the World Economic Forum, the Justice Department, the CIA, Bill Gates, and China -- not only control pizza ovens in the five boroughs but also deliberately created a global pandemic in order to ensure pharmaceutical company profits and massively reduce the population of the earth, all out of compulsive desire for control. The desire for absolute ontrol is why liberals are investigating Donald Trump and why we increaed funding for the IRS. It's why we support trans rights and why we favor efforts to reckon with America's racial history. This might not be in the text of DeSantis's tweet, but it's definitely the subtext.

DeSantis is denouncing our alleged totalitarian desire for absolute power at a moment when it looks as if we have hardly any power at all. We've had three losses at the Supreme Court in two days -- today the Court ruled that web designers can refuse to work for same-sex couples and that President Biden can't follow through with his student loan forgiveness program; this comes one day after the Court struck down college affirmative action programs (in a ruling that could very well lead to the end of employer diversity programs). Right-wingers have near-absolute control over what is now the most powerful branch of government. Yet right-wingers believe that we're all-powerful. Any loss we suffer is a surprise victory by the overmatched, plucky-underdog right. And no matter how many times the other side wins, we'll continue to be perceived as a totalitarian juggernaut.

Thursday, June 29, 2023


Here's the lead story at right now:
Tim Scott responds to Obamas' criticism of Supreme Court ruling: 'A lie from the pit of hell'

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., said Thursday that the Supreme Court's decision to overrule affirmative action in colleges should be celebrated. On "The Faulkner Focus," the 2024 presidential candidate also hit back at former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, who said "my heart breaks" for young people who are "wondering what their future holds" after the decision. Scott said the Obamas and others on the left are pushing lies "from the pit of hell" about opportunity in America.
Accusing the former president of telling lies "from the pit of hell": That Tim Scott is so nice, isn't he?

Scott said:
Well, the good news is we're going to have another African-American president. His name will be Tim Scott.
So he clearly has Obama on his mind. Scott went on to say:
I'm running for president because I know America can do for anyone what she has done for me. But sending the message that somehow the color of your skin means that you will not be able to achieve your goals from an educational perspective, from an income perspective or family formation, that is a lie from the pit of hell. We will not be judged solely by the color of our skin. That's what the ruling said today. But that is the story of America. That is a story of American progress and we can all celebrate that today.
Earlier this month, on David Axelrod's podcast, Obama criticized Scott and Nikki Haley, saying, “There’s a long history of African American or other minority candidates within the Republican Party who will validate America and say, ‘Everything’s great, and we can make it.’” Scott responded (on Fox News Sunday, of course), “There’s no higher compliment than being attacked by President Obama.” (Again with the niceness!)

After this exchange, Wall Street Journal opinion writer Jason Riley published a column titled "Why Barack Obama Is Afraid of Tim Scott." Riley argued that Obama is afraid Scott's message will connect with people. It seems to me that the opposite is true -- Scott is afraid that Obama's message will connect with people.

Clearly Scott lacks the courage to run against his actual competition in the presidential race, Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis. So he's running against a guy who isn't running. (Of course Obama, unlike Trump or DeSantis, can't choose Scott as a running mate.)

Scott can't seem to decide whether America is a race-blind paradise or a leftism-riddled hellhole. On Faulkner's show, he said:
Here's what I would say to America today: that I am excited about who we are as a nation. I'm excited about the progress that we've seen in the rearview mirror. But what excites me the most about America is that when you look at the windshield of our future, it is bright for all of our kids. Unfortunately, the radical left have been co-opted by the teachers' unions. And so making sure that we get back to providing quality education in every single zip code in this nation K through 12 means that with quality education K through 12, your child can go to the most elite colleges in America. If we fix public education, we will make sure that every generation going forward will have access to opportunities.
We need to "get back to providing quality education in every single zip code," which means we aren't "providing quality education in every single zip code" -- and yet the "future ... is bright for all of our kids." Confusing!

Scott also said:
And oh, by the way, I'm not sure that going to an elite university is the path to prosperity. It is actually going as high as your character, your grit and your talent will take you. That means whether you go to Harvard, Charleston Southern, or whether you want to be a plumber or a welder, you too can experience your version of the American dream.
Dammit, Tim! Why didn't you tell the plaintiffs in these cases that they didn't want to go to these silly universities anyway? You could have saved everyone a lot of trouble!

We'll see if Obama can bait Scott every time he makes a public statement. (It appears that he can.) And I should acknowledge that it's more important as a Republican presidential candidate to establish which liberals you really, really hate than it is to have detailed policy positions on any issue. So if Scott really is running against Obama, he's probably on to something.


Miles Taylor, who worked in the Department of Homeland Security in the first years of the Trump presidency and wrote anonymously about being "part of the resistance" to Trump within the administration, will publish a book next month titled Blowback: A Warning to Save Democracy from the Next Trump. An excerpt in Vanity Fair mostly cautions us about the danger of allowing Trump back into the White House - but what Taylor writes also leaves me worried about what Ron DeSantis would do with nearly unlimited presidential powers:
Inside the White House complex, an instruction manual is hidden in a secure location for use only in national emergencies. Few people know where it is, and even fewer people are allowed to access it. Informally dubbed the “Doomsday Book,” the manual contains the president’s break-glass options for keeping the country running in situations ranging from global nuclear war to an armed foreign invasion of the United States.

The options are known by an anodyne name—PEADs—or “presidential emergency action documents.” Recently declassified records suggest that the PEADs allow the president to invoke extraordinary powers. The records hint at draft authorizations to enable the White House to unilaterally detain “dangerous persons,” censor the news media, flip an internet “kill switch,” take over social media, and suspend Americans from traveling. These might be the type of actions a president would take if the nation’s capital was destroyed, enemy forces were hunting down U.S. leaders, or the survival of U.S. democracy was in doubt.
Taylor believes that Trump didn't use these powers to remain in office after the 2020 election because he didn't know what was in the Doomsday Book. A National Security Council staffer named Mike Harvey limited access to the book, so loyalists staffers didn't know what was in it either.

If he's elected again, Trump might learn about these emergency powers and use them -- but if Ron DeSantis gets to the White House, he absolutely will learn about them, and almost certainly use them. As I've told you, DeSantis is obsessed with maximizing his own power. We know what he did after he was elected governor of Florida in 2018:
He directed his general counsel to figure out just how far a governor could push his authority. He pored over a binder enumerating his varied powers....

Then he systematically deployed each one....

Mr. DeSantis’s willingness to exert that power in extraordinary ways has led him to barrel through norms, challenge the legal limits of his office and threaten political retribution against those who cross him. Unlike former President Donald J. Trump ... Mr. DeSantis is a keen student of American government who has expanded his influence tactically and methodically, using detailed knowledge of the pliable confines of his office to his advantage.
And we know what he promises to do as president:
He told conservative radio host Mark Levin that he had studied the US Constitution’s “leverage points” and would use his knowledge to exercise the “true scope” of presidential power.

“You’ve got to know how to use your leverage to advance what you’re trying to accomplish,” DeSantis told Twitter CEO Elon Musk....

“Presidents have not been willing to wield Article Two power to discipline the bureaucracy,” DeSantis said. “I’ll come in and on day one we’ll be spitting nails.”

Among his top priorities, DeSantis said, would be to “re-constitutionalize” the federal government, which he described as a plan to “discipline the bureaucracy” and agencies that he saic are “detached from constitutional accountability.”

He would dispel with the longstanding tradition that government institutions like the US Department of Justice operate independently from the president – embracing a philosophy that Trump often governed by but never articulated so succinctly.

“Republican presidents have accepted the canard that the DOJ and FBI are quote, independent,” DeSantis said. “They are not independent agencies. They are part of the executive branch. They answer to the elected President of the United States.”
When people tell you who they are, believe them. Here's what DeSantis said about his first win as governor:
“I may have earned 51 percent of the vote, but that entitled me to wield 100 percent of the executive power, and I resolved to use it to advance conservative principles,” DeSantis said at an event in Wisconsin on May 6.
If DeSantis becomes president, "100 percent of the executive power" will include all the powers in the Doomsday Book. Now imagine him in the White House during a pandemic, or a period of demonstrations like the summer of 2020. Do you think he'd hesitate to declare an emergency and break open the book? He might even invoke it in response to a normal level of crossings at the southern border. I put nothing past him.

It seems unlikely now that DeSantis could be elected president in 2024 - but he's in second place in every Republican primary poll, and if Trump's health gives out, or his legal troubles persuade him to quit the race, DeSantins will win the nomination easily. He trails President Biden by only 1 point in general election polling.

We know DeSantis's thirst for power. That's why he must never be allowed anywhere near the Oval Office.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023


I know it's a myth that a frog won't jump out of a pot of water if the water is boiled slowly, but the myth seems like the right metaphor for the Supreme Court's decision to (mostly) reject the "independent legislature" theory of state election regulation.

The Court represents the thinking of GOP establishmentarians. Prior to Donald Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election, the mainstream GOP had a project that was working just fine for the party: a gradual tilting of election procedures in the party's favor, but rarely in a way that attracted the attention of most ordinary Americans. A voter ID law here, a few polling-place closures there, plus a lot of gerrymandering, much of it rubber-stamped by the Court, and, of course, a near-free-for-all in campaign finance -- it gave Republicans huge legislative majorities even in states that are close to 50-50 in party makeup (Wisconsin, North Carolina), which has generally meant that the House of Representatives is artificially skewed in favor of the GOP. This angers politically engaged Democrats, but most Americans pay no attention. It's a long game, and Republicans have been winning it.

Accepting the most radical version of the independent legislature theory would have meant running the risk that MAGA-addled Republican state legislators might tip elections to their party in a way even apolitical Americans would recognize as unfair. It's quite possible they'd have thrown out election results in one or more states where Democrats had clearly won. The GOP establishment knows that it can keep getting away with the non-Trumpian election finagling it's been engaged in for the past fifteen years or so, but something like that could really lead to a serious backlash. It would be too blatant -- a flash-boiling of the frog. There really might be mobs in the streets if Joe Biden won Wisconsin or Arizona and the legislature simply declared that he didn't. That could delegitimize the Republican Party and the Supreme Court that does the party's bidding.

The Republicans on the Supreme Court would prefer a one-party state just as much as MAGA would -- but they want to arrive at this outcome in a subtle way. So this ruling shouldn't be a surprise.


HuffPost tells us that Liz Cheney is determined to keep Donald Trump out of the White House -- but when she was asked whether she'll run for president herself, she gave an answer that was pure weasel words:
Former Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) on Tuesday said she will avoid taking any steps that could help former President Donald Trump in his quest to return to the White House....

Cheney, a fierce Trump critic who has been floated as a likely 2024 presidential hopeful after she failed to win reelection in Wyoming last November, was interviewed on the stage of the Aspen Ideas Festival by NBC News’ Lester Holt. Asked if she would pursue a presidential bid as a third-party candidate, Cheney replied: ”I’m not going to do anything that helps Donald Trump.”
Here's a fuller version of the quote:
“I’m not going to do anything that helps Donald Trump, and I think that I’ll make a decision about what I do and what comes next later this year,” she told NBC Nightly News’ Lester Holt during the Aspen Ideas Festival....

“I’m not announcing anything here today, Lester,” she said. “But the way I’m thinking about where we are and what has to be done is much less about what should I do in terms of am I going to be a candidate or not and much more about stopping Donald Trump whatever that takes. But also helping elect other good candidates down-ballot.”
If Cheney wants to do "whatever [it] takes" to beat Trump, she could have taken a big step right now by saying unambiguously that she won't run against him. She has to know that an August 2022 YouGov poll showed that her presence in the race turned a 4-point Joe Biden lead into an 8-point Trump lead. She also could have denounced, or at least questioned, the entire No Labels third-party effort, which could help Trump win regardless of the candidate. Cheney has credibility among anti-Trumpers across the political spectrum. If she weighed in on No Labels, she'd be taken seriously.

I think Cheney is sincere in her opposition to Trump. But she's an insider politician, and also the daughter of an insider politician. I think she's more likely to give the hacks at No Labels the benefit of the doubt than you and I are. I'm sure she doesn't want to burn bridges to No Labels -- or, more precisely, to its donors, whom she might pursue in a future campaign for some office or other.

I hope Cheney will rule out a run and endorse Biden eventually. I understand that it's probably too soon for her to do that. But she could at least weigh in now on a very bad and very well funded scheme that could make Trump's election more likely.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023


Some people who should know better believe that Robert Kennedy Jr. really might be catching on with a significant segment of the Democratic electorate. They point to his best polls -- a CNN poll in May in which he was chosen by 20% of respondents (President Biden was at 60%) and an Emerson poll in May in which Kennedy was picked by 21% of respondents (Biden was at 70%). But he's now averaging 14% (to Biden's 64%) according to the Real Clear Politics average.

But isn't that a relatively high number? Doesn't that mean his message is catching on among Democrats?

No, it isn't. Here's how you can tell.

A few pollsters have asked Democratic respondents to choose from candidate fields that are pure fantasy -- long lists of Democratic names, sometimes including President Biden, sometimes not. In those polls, Kennedy's numbers are very weak.

In Kennedy's best multi-candidate poll -- a mid-June survey from the Republican polling firm McLaughlin & Associates -- Kennedy is at a lowly 5%. He's tied with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for fifth, behind Biden (28%), Michelle Obama (18%), Bernie Sanders (8%), and Kamala Harris (7%). He does beat Pete Buttigieg, Hillary Clinton, Gavin Newsom, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Gretchen Whitmer, Marianne Williamson, Joe Manchin, Phil Murphy, and J.B. Pritzker. But in other multi-candidate polls, he does worse.

In an early-June poll from Premise, Kennedy finished eighth in a Biden-less field, with 4% of registered voters and 5% of all adults. Harris, Sanders, Clinton, Newsom were all in double digits; AOC, Buttigieg, and Warren also beat him. And in a late-May/early-June survey from TIPP, Kennedy was at 3%, tied with Warren and Buttigieg for eighth place; Biden (37%) dominated the field, followed by Michelle Obama at 10% and Sanders, Harris, AOC, Hillary, and Newsom all ahead of Kennedy.

What all this tells us is that Kennedy isn't an especially intriguing candidate to Democratic voters - in a big field, he'd be trailing badly. Right now, he's losing in hypothetical matchups with people who aren't even campaigning.

And here's additional evidence: In mid-June, HarrisX polled not only the actual Democratic field (the result was Biden 54%, Kennedy 14%, Williamson 5%), but also, for some reason, a two-person field without Biden. (Needless to say, if Biden suddenly drops out, there'll be a lot more than two candidates in the race.) In this survey, the numbers seem pretty good for Kennedy: He's at 34% and Williamson is at 14%. But think about what that means: If you give Democratic voters just these two choices, more than half will say "none of the above." That's not a sign that Kennedy's message is catching fire with ordinary Democrats.

(If I were offered that choice by a pollster, I'd pick Williamson without hesitation. I have very little respect for self-help gurus or New Age spiritualism, but I've at least heard Williamson say some level-headed (and fairly progressive) things, whereas every word out of Kennedy's mouth is a Republican talking point, a conspiracy theory, or both.)

Oh, and that 21% poll? Emerson polled the race again this month and Kennedy was at 15%, down 5 points. Biden was at 73%, up 3. So those early numbers might be the best numbers he posts.

Monday, June 26, 2023


In the Republican presidential race, NBC News assures us that Tim Scott has the Big Mo:
Tim Scott's standing on the rise among GOP voters, poll finds

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott is getting the attention of Republican primary voters.
Really? So his polls numbers are way up?

No, not exactly:
He gets support from just 3% of Republicans as their first choice in the GOP presidential primary, according to the latest national NBC News poll. But that's just part of the picture: The number of GOP voters who see Scott as their second-choice candidate has risen sharply — more than any other Republican candidate polled by NBC News from April to June.

In June, 12% of those polled said the same, a 9-point increase over the 3% who said so in April.
So he's at 3% -- tied for sixth place (with Vivek Ramaswamy), and 48 points behind front-runner Donald Trump -- when poll respondents are asked to pick a candidate. But when they're asked to pick a second-choice candidate, Scott is ... still 19 points behind Ron DeSantis, who's the second choice of 31% of respondents. Scott is tied for second with Trump (who's not in the lead as runner-up because so many respondents have him as their first choice).

I suppose Scott's improved second-choice number is a sign of progress, but the following facts are still true: Among the presidential candidates, Donald Trump is the GOP voter base's overwhelming favorite, and Ron DeSantis continues to be the base's second choice, by far. These two are in first and second place in every national and state poll.

Jacob Rubashkin has similar kinda-good news about Scott's standing in Iowa, where he's doing a lot of advertising:
A June 10-12 likely voter survey conducted by McLaughlin & Associates for the Trump campaign found Scott in third place in Iowa with 9 percent, behind only Trump (51 percent) and DeSantis (19 percent) but ahead of former Vice President Mike Pence and fellow South Carolinian Nikki Haley, the former U.N. ambassador.

That’s an 8-point jump from Scott’s position in McLaughlin’s previous Iowa survey for the Trump campaign.
Yes, it's an 8-point jump, but Scott is still 43 points behind Trump and 11 points behind DeSantis.
Two polls from GOP firm National Research Inc. commissioned by the Trump-supporting website American Greatness display a similar trend. National Research’s May 9-11 poll of Iowa found Scott with just 1 percent support.... A month later, National Research polled again and found Scott had moved to third place behind Trump and DeSantis...
Wait for it:
... albeit with just 5 percent of the vote.
In that poll, he's 34 points behind Trump and 20 points behind DeSantis.

You'll say that progress is progress, especially with many months to go before the voting starts. You'll say that voters in Iowa are still getting to know Scott (although the same is true for DeSantis). But in South Carolina -- Scott's home state -- National Research conducted a poll June 19 through June 21, and Scott finished third, at 10%, 31 points behind Trump and 8 points behind DeSantis.

But political insiders want an exciting horserace, and they want Scott to do well, for several reasons: (1) He's Black, and they'd like to be able to report that the GOP is a diverse party and not a party of angry white racists. (2) He has a reputation as a nice guy (unless you're a a Democrat, especially a Democrat named Barack Obama, or you want an abortion, or are trans) -- political insiders desperately want the GOP to start seeming nice again (even if its policies are still mean-spirited and punitive).

And (3) Scott is a favorite of Wall Street. The "liberal" media always prefers the candidates Wall Street prefers. (Chris Christie is the other Wall Street favorite in the GOP race, and therefore the other media favorite.)

I could be wrong about this, but I'm willing to bet that Tim Scott has plateaued. Nevertheless, we'll probably be told he's surging until the voting starts, when we'll find out just how popular he really is.


This obviously wasn't the biggest news event of the weekend, but I think there's more to it than what you see on the surface:
A clip of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. working out at an outdoor gym while shirtless has gone viral on Twitter, being viewed more than 10.5 million times so far.

"Getting in shape for my debates with President Biden!" the Democratic 2024 presidential hopeful tweeted on Sunday, who also posted footage of himself completing nine push-ups.
RFK Jr. certainly isn't the first electoral challenger to portray himself as healthier and more vigorous than an older incumbent. But because he's been praised and promoted for years by Steve Bannon, and is in a mutual admiraation society with Tucker Carlson, I suspect that this is intended as outreach to the "manosphere" -- the disaffected young men Bannon tried to reach during the "alt-right" days at Breitbart, and Carlson was trying to reach with his Fox "documentary" The End of Men.

Separated at birth?

I wrote this about the manosphere in April 2022, around the time Carlson released The End of Men:
Remember 2017, when much of the concern talk about Trumpism focused on the "alt-right," a movement that had been given a platform at Breitbart by Steve Bannon before he moved into the Trump White House as an adviser? The alt-right evolved from online and other communities focused on masculinity. In The Atlantic in 2017, Angela Nagle wrote,
For eight years, I have been closely observing an array of rightist forums as they have followed a strange and marked evolution. Initially, at least, taking the red pill was more closely associated with antifeminist and men’s-rights forums like Reddit’s /r/TheRedPill, which launched in 2012, than with the nativist or racist corners of the online right. TheRedPill was infamous for its mix of virulent misogyny and retrograde dating advice. The young men who frequented it obsessed over the male pecking order, evolutionary sexual psychology, and the decline of Western men....

Over time, this online “manosphere” would embrace an increasingly hard-line antifeminism, one that began to shade into broader critiques of a fraying social order.... The Proud Boys, a group founded by the former Vice impresario Gavin McInnes to fight the forces of emasculation ... blended sexism and creeping nativism.
... Steve Bannon's idea, in the run-up to the 2016 election, was that embracing ideas like this under the alt-right banner could win converts to his brand of politics: young men who might otherwise vote Democratic, or not vote, but would now back Donald Trump. Carlson clearly believes that project can be revived, shed of the alt-right label.
And so we got a Carlson video promoting testicle-tanning, the consumption of raw eggs, and other bizarre practices, all in the name of masculinity. And now a buff RFK Jr. is exercising shirtless, in the hope that young males hoping to avoid some form of feminization will see him as a pro-masculinity warrior and turn out in Democratic primaries to vote against Biden.

Oh, here's another Kennedy video, this one posted by a well-known right-wing influencer:

Mike Cernovich is usually identified as one of the chief promoters of the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, but he's also the author of the book Danger & Play: Essays on Embracing Masculinity. From his description of the book:
In the Essays on Masculnity, you’ll be exposed to what most consider a radical and outrageous way of living your life. Namely, you’ll learn how to shed slave emotions like guilt and shame to begin – perhaps for the first time ever – living life on your terms.... Cernovich does not write for the slow or the weak. He writes for independent men (and even some women) who aren’t afraid to have their ideas about the world challenged.
How did Cernovich get that clip in the first place? The fact that he's the one who posted it tells me that this is part of the right-wing project, and that it's a bid for the same audience the Proud Boys and the Carlson film were meant to reach. It's not just Kennedy showing us he's younger than Biden.

Sunday, June 25, 2023


It's a common misconception that Pauline Kael, the New Yorker film critic, expressed shock after Richard Nixon's 1972 landslide victory -- nobody she knew had voted for Nixon, Kael is believed to have said, so how could he have won? What she actually said, in a speech to the Modern Language Association, was that she knew Nixon voters were real, though they were unfamiliar to her:
“I live in a rather special world,” Miss Kael said.... “I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don't know. They're outside my ken. But sometimes when I'm in a theater I can feel them.”
In The New York Times today, anti-Trump Republican J. Michael Luttig sounds like the Pauline Kael of legend:
As only the Republicans can do, they are already turning this ignominious moment into an even more ignominious moment — and a self-immolating one at that — by rushing to crown [Donald] Trump their nominee before the primary season even begins. Building the Republican campaign around the newly indicted front-runner is a colossal political miscalculation, as comedic as it is tragic for the country. No assemblage of politicians except the Republicans would ever conceive of running for the American presidency by running against the Constitution and the rule of law. But that’s exactly what they’re planning....

There is no path to the White House for Republicans with Mr. Trump. He would need every single Republican and independent vote, and there are untold numbers of Republicans and independents who will never vote for him, if for no other perfectly legitimate reason than that he has corrupted America’s democracy and is now attempting to corrupt the country’s rule of law. No sane Democrat will vote for Mr. Trump — even over the aging Mr. Biden — when there are so many sane Republicans who will refuse to vote for Mr. Trump. This is all plain to see, which makes it all the more mystifying why more Republicans don’t see it.
Are there "many sane Republicans who will refuse to vote for Mr. Trump"? Polling suggests that there are very few. There are probably more Never Trump Republicans on the op-ed pages than in the public at large. But like the faux-Kael, Luttig thinks thinks the GOP voter base is the same as his Never Trump circle of friends.

Republican base voters are also like the Pauline Kael of legend. Nobody they know voted for Joe Biden. They think it's inconceivable that Biden really won 81 million votes in 2020. Of course they believe Trump will win in 2024 -- they believe he won in 2020. A new poll tells us that he's still their guy:
Former President Donald Trump has expanded his lead over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the rest of the Republican presidential field since Trump’s latest indictment on federal criminal charges, according to a new national NBC News poll....

Fifty-one percent of national Republican primary voters pick the former president as their first choice in the race for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, followed by 22% who choose DeSantis, 7% who select former Vice President Mike Pence and 5% who want former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie....

Trump’s 29-point lead over DeSantis in a multi-candidate field is an increase from April’s NBC News poll, when 46% preferred Trump as their first choice versus 31% who picked DeSantis.
But is Luttig is right about the general election? Do swing voters care so much about the Constitution that voting for Trump is unthinkable? Well, not yet, according to that NBC poll:
Biden gets support from 49% of registered voters, while Trump gets 45%. Biden’s 4-point lead is within the poll’s margin of error.
Biden has had several decent polls this month, but in none of them is he leading Trump by more than 4. Remember, in 2020 his lead in the polling averages was 7.2, he won the popular vote by 4.5 -- and he barely won the Electoral College. So, yes, Trump is still quite electable -- maybe a third indictment or a guilty verdict will change that, but I wouldn't be too sure. (And if there's an acquittal or a hung jury...) Right now, in the Real Clear Politics average, Biden is beating Trump by just 0.1.

I don't believe swing voters choose candidates based on their fealty to the Constitution. Some might. Others might vote on abortion. But many of them are focused on inflation and crime (even if it's just crime they see on TV), as well as a general sense that the world has gone crazy, but wasn't crazy in some mistily remembered past, which Trump can conveniently pinpoint as the three years before COVID struck America.

If these voters think Trump is vigorous and Biden is too old, then sure, they'll vote for Trump. In Michael Luttig's bubble, swing voters choose candidates based on the proper functioning of government. In the real world, swing voters choose candidates based on vibes. So, yes, Trump is still very much in the race.

Saturday, June 24, 2023


The unabashedly pro-Putin Gateway Pundit is trying to explain to its readers why master strategist and manly hero Vladimir Putin finds himself fighting off a rebellion from Yevgeniy Prigozhin’s Wagner Group mercenaries. GP's explanation is just what you'd expect:
As the search for reliable understanding continues, allegations are emerging that the United States is working behind the scenes. Some say the CIA convinced Prigozhin to turn against the Russian President.
GP's commenters, of course, are sad, angry, and defiant in defense of Putin, the great hero of the West:
Putin is against the WEF and the globalists. so our government will be against russia.

Putin is exposing what we were doing in Ukraine... he has the evidence.
What do ya think ?


And this is exactly why they want Putin out, before he spills the beans on many other things that we probably don't know about.
I'm not a fan of Putin in anyway at all, but with all that he's said, and how blatant the one sided coverage is, and how the media, politicians, and hollywood stars siding ONLY with the money laudering capital of Europe Ukraine, is actually making me start to like Putin!!!


The fact that Putin "put a hit out" on George Soros made me see Putin from another perspective .
I don't like Soros either .

I don't know what to think with all the corruption in the Us , Ukraine , and Russian related states.


It seems like an act of desperation since the Ukraine is totally lost. The West is infested with parasites and historically, when they start pushing for child molesters, it is game over--pogroms happen. If it is true that the head of Wagner is of the Soros tribe then of course he would not be trustworthy. Then again Shoigu is not ethnic Russian either. He said something a while back about wanting closer relations with Asia. Putin preferred closer relations with Europe. It would be pathetic if Putin is overthrown since the West is run by cowardly pedophiles and where are the military units to coup them out? It would be so easy. Jan 6 and Ottawa showed that the Deep State are cowards. THink of it this way--Blinken and Soros and co. are fleas--and western countries are a pack of dogs. The fleas don't care how itchy they make the dogs--all they care about is finding other dogs to infest---so if they can make the dogs so mad from scratching that they starve or get into fights with other dogs--that's great--because the fleas can simply move over to the next dog. That's how the J-Tribe works in nations.


... Don't trust any of them.
The Democrats like to say a person is not defined by one wrong act ala George Floyd home invasion on a pregnant women and threatening to kill her baby in the womb.
Putin kills his rivals.
Biden gave 250 billion of military equipment to the taliban then blew up about 8 women and children in a car and said they were high level terrorists.
I don't trust any politician except Trump.
But l personally like Putin over Biden, l can't get passed Joe having an orgasm, sexually abusing his daughter.. Red line.


The Putin kills his rivals is western media propaganda. The one that was supposedly poisoned had eaten poorly prepared blowfish which is poisonous when not done right


Bill and Hill's, make Putin look amateurish.


Putin said, “Against us, the whole military, economic, and information machines of the West are turned.”

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself, "why", Mr. Putin?


Because Russia refuses to become a slave to the globalist agenda.


I would look into Peter Daszak with Ecohealth Alliance who was involved with the whole Covid fiasco, as well as Hunter Biden who had a part in the biolabs at metabiota in Ukraine. I would venture to say the us govt is complicit in many nefarious actions. Lindsey Graham said yesterday we should be prepared to be nuked. False flag?

I would say come out and be separate. The earlier you side with Jesus the better off you’ll be. Hint: read Revelation- there are three harvests. (144k are the first fruits, the wheat harvest is the multitudes the largest harvest of all, and lastly the grape harvest. They are thrown in the wine press of God’s wrath.) Don’t align yourself with evil doers. B H O is rearing his ugly head again, looks like he is the man behind the curtain all along.


Putin is attacking the bioweapons labs, the adrenochrome labs, and the nazis.
Putin is standing in the way of the globalists.
I AM a fan of Putin..
When he talks, he defends people and Russian Sovereignty.
The enemy is Tyranny. The US Federal Govt is the largest Tyranny in the world.
Putin is our greatest ally.


I agree...Putin is not the bad guy...when our media keeps projecting that Lie, we should KNOW it is the opposite...the really bad guys are china & this administration...Why are the dem/coms taking billions to give to ukraine? I believe they are stealing our money as fast as they can & causing chaos (war) intentionally to aid in the bastages reset of a global world...Putin is fighting all this alone with no allies.


Sounds the same as like what happened with Trump and what Trump was doing with America... Funny how that when you go up against the elite, globalist and your not bought and paid off so they can't control you, then you become the most hated and demonized person in the world.....


Putin is interfering with the Globalist oligarchs’ WEF plan to wreck America, on their way to total world control. So Putin must go.

America has an oligarchical problem and it’s even bigger than the oligarchical problem which did and was destroying Russia and her economy, since 1917, until Putin arrived and began driving the oligarchs out. Now they seek revenge.

In America, these international WEFers not only have gained a stranglehold on her media, but her political establishment and all her important institutions - including the church - just as they formerly did in the USSR and Russia under Yeltsin.

As Vladimir Putin warned America, “Policies are being pursued that place on the same level a multi-child family and a same-sex partnership, a faith in God and a belief in Satan. This is the path to degradation."

“We will make America so corrupt, she stinks.” And so they did and so she does, like a dying carcass.


The 4-years of attacks on Trump for "Russian Collusion" were never meant to take Trump out - it was all propaganda against Russian at a time when globalists wanted to violate the Minsk Accord. During this time we "Westernized" ALL of Western and EASTERN Europe with gay/tranny/Disney/ESG values and captured them with the USD/EURO.


The CIA and FBI are the hired thugs of the NWO banking cabal. Russia and the Brics have all rejected the central banksters and their fiat Dollar. They are standing in the way of WEF hegemony over the entire planet.


Russia is a literal fueling station. Thats what the Globalists want, ALL their natural resources, especially the oil and gas. They will make sure it xannot be used all in the name of their religion, climate change.


How much you wanna bet, that a lot of that so called $$$$ going to Ukraine, was actually sent to The Wagner Group. Victoria Nuland has her paws all over this, and you can bet Miss Lindsay Graham signed the checks. These warmongers have wanted Putin gone for a long time.


I will throw in another for extra credit....the timing of Soros handing the reins to Mini Me...Putin has wanted Soros’ head on a spike for 30 years, and young Alex is probably anteing up $$$ for Wagner


I want to see Zelenskey and Biden stand trial for child sex trafficking


Obama and his Marxist pedophiles will burn down America unless he is stopped


Bath House Barry gets his world war, and martial law. Guns rounded up next.
And soon we'll be hearing somewhat diluted versions of these talking points from RFK Jr., Tucker on Twitter, and other miscreants. I can't wait.


Lunkhead podcaster Joe Rogan has offered $100,000 to try to shame Peter Hotez, the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College and a vaccine expert, into debating Robert Kennedy Jr., master of the Gish Gallop/firehouse school of misinformation. Elon Musk and other rich men have piled on, offering more and more money, and now Ross Douthat uses his New York Times column to try to give this bullying effort credibility.

Kennedy has a brain full of fake facts, and he'll throw out half a dozen or more in a typical two-minute statement, which means that the only way a debate on vaccines between him and an actual scientist could possibly be fair is if every assertion of (fake) fact he makes is catalogued, after which the scientist is given adequate time to refute all of them before Kennedy is allowed to speak again.

But even that wouldn't work, because the facts that rebut Kennedy's lies are usually contained in scientific papers that are turgidly written and hard for lay people to follow. Rogan wants this debate to take place on his podcast -- a medium that rewards exciting assertions that arouse suspicion, falsely other otherwise, rather than yawn-inducing truths. Also, challenging accepted wisdom is inherently exciting, which leads many naive people, especially young white men, to believe that challengers of accepted wisdom are always right and accepted wisdom is always wrong.

Douthat thinks Hotez should debate Kennedy because vaccine skepticism is widespread:
In the year 2023 ... the ideas that Kennedy champions are not obscure; they clearly have influence, for instance, over the millions of Americans who declined the Covid-19 vaccine. The man himself is a famous figure who already has access to many prominent platforms, Rogan’s included. And he’s a candidate for the presidency of the United States, probably ultimately a marginal one but with meaningful support in current polls.

Which means that if you don’t think he should be publicly debated, you need some other theory of how the curious can be persuaded away from his ideas.
But Hotez has another theory. He appears to be willing to go on Rogan's podcast alone. He's done the show before. But to Douthat, refusing to be in the same room with Kennedy is wrong:
Right now the main alternative theory seems to be to enforce an intellectual quarantine, policed by media fact-checking and authoritative expert statements. And I’m sorry, but that’s just a total flop. It depends on the very thing whose evaporation has made vaccine skepticism more popular — a basic trust in institutions, a deference to credentials, a willingness to accept judgments from on high.
But this is where Douthat's argument refutes itself. If Hotez appears on Rogan's show -- with or without Kennedy -- what will Rogan's audience hear from him? Authoritative expert statements. Fact-checking of Kennedy. If you're arguing that skeptics don't want to hear the word of experts, then what's the point of Hotez's appearance?

Douthat continues:
That evaporation hasn’t happened because of bad actors on the internet. It’s happened because institutions and experts have so often proved themselves to be untrustworthy and incompetent of late. So every time those now-untrusted institutions make heavy-handed appeals to authority (“Mr. Kennedy, WHOM EXPERTS CONSIDER A CONSPIRACY THEORIST, says ...”), they are entrenching suspicion and alienation, not defeating it.
So because the vaccines greatly reduced death and severe illness from COVID but didn't prevent breakthrough infections, the experts were "untrustworthy and incompetent"? And therefore we're supposed to believe guy who thinks, among other things, that HIV doesn't cause AIDS? (But of course Kennedy believes that.)
Whereas argument, while it risks much, gives you a chance to make the suspicious feel like their suspicions are being taken seriously, to regain the trustless person’s trust.
But people who are merely skepticism-curious will listen to expert opinion presented in a format other than a steel cage match, whereas the "red-pilled" won't allow the experts to regain their trust, because they have a blind faith in anti-experts that's an exact mirror image of what they see as our blind faith in experts. That's why they make heroes of demagogues who say the experts are always wrong -- RFK Jr., Donald Trump, Tucker Carlson, Alex Jones. Their "skepticism" isn't a set of skeptical beliefs intermingled with mainstream beliefs -- it's skepticism as religion. To them, experts are always wrong and anti-experts are always right.

So Peter Hotez might win a few fence-sitters over with a solo appearance on the Rogan podcast. But the anti-expertise cultists want a fight with a winner and a loser -- and since neatly packaged, iconoclastic lies are the most useful in a fight like that (because they seem more exciting and dangerous), Kennedy would inevitably be declared the debate's winner. So of course Hotez shouldn't debate Kennedy.

Friday, June 23, 2023


Media Matters reports that Fox News is siccing its language police on wire service stories about trans people:
... Fox News’ website is altering articles from The Associated Press and Reuters to replace the phrase “gender-affirming care” with the terms “sex change” or “sex reassignment” ... and frequently removing or replacing references to “care” or “medical care.” ...

In the most glaring example of editorial malfeasance, Fox News altered a quote from Oregon state Sen. Lynn Findley included in an AP article. The outlet changed a quote in which Findley, a Republican, asserted that under a compromised bill previously opposed by the state’s GOP, “parental rights will not be ignored regarding minors seeking abortion and gender-affirming care.” Fox News changed the last term to read “sex reassignment care” instead, without giving any notice to readers that the quote had been altered.

There are some signs that it is Fox News’ intent to mislead its audience. For instance, some of the same AP articles Fox News altered also have changed headlines that frame legislation banning all gender-affirming care for trans youth as being only about surgery. One article, which changes “gender-affirming care” to “sex reassignment,” focused its headline entirely on “sex reassignment surgeries.”
In that last example, AP's headline is "Louisiana House Passes Bill to Ban Gender-Affirming Care for Minors." The story's second paragraph says that bill prevents minors from receiving care "such as hormone treatments, gender reassignment surgery or puberty-blocking drugs." At Fox, the second paragraph also includes the list of prohibited procedures, but the headline -- which is all many readers will notice -- is "Louisiana House Passes Bill Prohibiting Doctors from Performing Sex Reassignment Surgeries on Minors," as if other interventions are unaffected.

Sending wire service copy to an Orwellian team of rewriters is an old tradition at Fox. Two decades ago, when I started this blog, I wrote several posts about Fox's practice of replacing the phrase "suicide bomber" with "homicide bomber." Any idiot could tell you that what's makes suicide bombings especially horrifying is the suicide aspect -- we're wired to anticipate that a person standing in our midst won't willfully self-destruct -- but Fox didn't think the term "suicide bomber" made the perps seem evil enough. Also, Ari Fleischer and others in the Bush administration had adopted the term, and Fox considered itself the administration's other press office. At Fox, this led to ridiculous headlines such as "Homicide Bomber Kills One in Israel." (Well, duh -- if someone was deliberately killed, we know it was a homicide.) And as Atrios noted at the time, George W. Bush himself didn't even follow the practice -- he killed these killers "suiciders." But the language was changed at Fox, because freedom.

Thursday, June 22, 2023


It's obvious what No Labels is up to in the 2024 campaign: The group is funded by right-wingers who fear that Donald Trump will lose a head-to-head contest with Joe Biden. The donors want to run a third-party candidate who'll split the anti-Trump vote with Biden and throw the election to Trump.

But even gullible voters who are susceptible to the No Labels scam aren't likely to associate the group's likely candidate, Joe Manchin, with anti-Trumpism. I'm beginning to suspect that the ideal candidate for the No Labels ratfuck would be this guy:
Chris Christie brought his Talking Truth to Donald Trump performance back to New Hampshire on Wednesday evening, aiming a fresh quiver of poison darts at the former president. His talk pleased a small Trump-skeptical crowd, but raised the big question about Mr. Christie’s candidacy: Where are all the other Republican voters?

For the most part, Mr. Christie was preaching to the choir. Submitting to more than 90 minutes of questions in a town hall format, he heard from an audience member who identified as a member of an extinct species, a “Rockefeller Republican”; from another who said he used to work for a Republican senator but hasn’t voted Republican since 2016; and from a woman who introduced herself by saying, “I’m a Democrat, and you intrigue me.”
Recent media coverage of the No Labels bid has been skeptical, but if Christie were the No Labels candidate, the coverage would immediately turn extremely positive, because, as The Atlantic's David Graham notes, the liberal commentariat loves the big lug:
Chris Christie is the hottest candidate in the Republican presidential race right now. Oh, not with Republican voters. He’s still polling in the low single digits among the people who will actually choose the nominee. But among liberal pundits, Christie’s reputation is on the rise.

... If the primary was held entirely among members of the chattering class, he’d win in a stroll.... they love that he speaks fluently and bluntly and delivers witty retorts.

... Christie’s appeal relates to an Aaron Sorkin–style theory of politics, in which the way to defeat Trump is to get onstage with him in a debate and say just the right thing—that with a verbal slap that is clever and cutting enough, Trump will deflate. Soaring music rises, the credits roll, and everyone returns happy to a pre-2016 world.
I learned about Graham's piece from Frank Bruni's latest column. Bruni praises Graham for "an observant and witty analysis," but Bruni's column is precisely the kind of gushy, swoony essay Graham is talking about. ("...what [Christie]’s doing in this Republican primary contest is very, very important. It also couldn’t be more emotionally gratifying to behold.")

Far too many left-centrist and moderate voters are susceptible to a standard-issue right-winger who agrees with liberals on one or two things. A year ago, liberals' favorite conservative was Liz Cheney. Now, apparently, it's Christie.

There's nothing wrong with appreciating a right-winger for isolated good deeds -- I read and quote The Bulwark's writers regularly, though that doesn't mean I'd trust them to run the country. Liz Cheney did good work on the January 6 committee, but I'd never vote for her because she's a down-the-line George W. Bush-era Republican. So is Christie -- and yet a Democrat at his campaign appearance says, "you intrigue me."

I think Christie is committed to this GOP primary campaign -- but if he ever changes his mind, I suspect he could help No Labels achieve precisely what it's setting out to do.


The Republican Party's years-long project to turn Benghazi into a major scandal persuaded much of the GOP voter base that Hillary Clinton intentionally delayed rescue efforts when the diplomatic compound was under fire. It's not true, but the disinformation campaign was a political success, as the 2016 election results made clear.

So I guess you can't blame Dan Crenshaw, an ambitious Republican politician, for going on Twitter and trying to turn the attempted rescue of the OceanGate submarine into a mini-Benghazi:

Sadly for Dan, both liberals and conservatives think this is a ridiculous take:

I still have some skepticism when I hear that Donald Trump and "populists" such as Tucker Carlson have completely transformed the Republican Party with their denunciation of "elites" and "endless wars." I think the GOP base will have no objections if the next Republican president invades Iran or Mexico, or if (when) the next all-GOP government cuts taxes and regulations for the rich and big business yet again. Nevertheless, right-wingers as well as left-wingers are eager to attack Crenshaw for this take, and the right is eager to use Crenshaw's status as a Ukraine supporter and one-time World Economic Forum honoree to do so.

I'm seeing a surprising amount of skepticism about the OceanGate mission on the right. OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush certainly didn't endear himself to the right when he said he preferred hiring inexperienced sub pilots in their twenties to "50-year-old white guys" (the young newbies, Rush said, are more "inspiring") -- but shockingly, Hot Air's Beege Welborn attacks Rush for this quote not because it's "woke" but because it's a rejection of expertise, something the right usually doesn't value these days:
The reason you want 50 year old, ex-military submariners – whatever their skin hue – is due to their experience. Not just fixing subs, and knowing how they work, but also because they are psychologically in tune with being underwater and may have been doing it for decades. Should something go amiss in the briny depths, not only do you have a knowledgeable hand on board, you have a cool-headed one. That beats inspiration all to pieces.

But you know what else? Young and “inspirational” is also a helluva lot cheaper to hire than experience. “Oh, we can train an inspirational monkey – anybody can drive the sub like a MarioKart!” It’s great until the Kart is on fire or caught in a hole in the Titanic.
A right-winger attacking a rich entrepreneur for valuing profit over safety? Watch out -- you start talking like that, next thing you know, you'll be saying that Elon Musk doesn't care whether self-driving Teslas kill people.

And that's not an isolated example. The Daily Wire's Matt Walsh tried to argue on his podcast that Rush and his passengers display an admirable spirit of risk-taking -- the standard Reaganite argument about dick-swinging entrepreneurs -- and RedState's Jim Thompson wasn't having it:
Walsh said he admires people who do daring, often suicidal things:
“[For] the sake of exploration and discovery. I respect that...the world needs people like that. And don’t tell that, oh it’s not exploration it’s just rich people on vacation...stop that, they are going to a place where almost no other human has been, they are going to the bottom of the freaking ocean, you idiot.”
But the OceanGate owners admit – it’s a minivan with a pressure hull.
It’s an experimental submersible vessel, it has not been approved or certified by any regulatory body and could result in physical injury, disability, emotional trauma or death.

This is not your grandfather’s submersible – we only have one button and it shouldn’t take a lot of skill.
Some of the “shelves” in the Titan were bought from Camper World, and the submersible coffin is controlled by an [Xbox] game controller.

Walsh then mocked critics by reminding them:
“You have never done what [just] 250 people have ever done... and you never will.”
Cool. You’re right, Matt; less than 250 Buddhist monks have ever set themselves on fire. They were definitely trailblazers – for sure. Getting into a contraption that has Camper World shelves and is controlled by an Xbox game controller doesn’t sound like a trailblazer—it sounds reckless, stupid, and suicidal.
I'm sure there won't be many more moments of sanity like this on the right in the foreseeable future. But I'll take this one.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023


The New York Post and the Fox News website are trying to persuade their readers that the Hunter Biden plea deal demonstrates a two-tiered justice system -- not white vs. non-white or rich vs. poor, but Democratic insider vs. everyone else. They contrast Biden's light sentence with the treatment of a Black entertainer most Murdoch media consumers had probably never heard of until now, as a way of arguing that mostly white Republicans can't catch a break.

From the Post:
Rapper Kodak Black’s lawyer on Tuesday slammed the Justice Department for allowing Hunter Biden to plead guilty to federal tax and firearms charges in a deal that’s expected to carry no prison time and leave the first son’s record free of felony convictions.

Bradford Cohen, Black’s Florida-based attorney, decried Hunter’s apparent slap on the wrist, alluding to “2 tiers of justice” which he claims led his client to be sentenced to 46 months in prison for the same crime that President Biden’s son has been charged with.

“2 tiers of justice? Kodak was charged for the same crime. Got over 3 years. Mr. Biden will not serve a day. Feels right? Do FBI agents and federal authorities take cases personally?” Cohen wrote in an Instagram post on Tuesday.

Black, a two-time Grammy Award nominee, pleaded guilty in 2019 to providing an incorrect Social Security number on a federal gun purchase form in order to buy three firearms from a Miami-area shop.

The ... rapper had a criminal record that would have disqualified him from buying the weapons.
Fairly or not, I'm sure the sentencing discrepancy was because Kodak Black had a longer rap sheet before he lied on that gun purchase form than Hunter Biden did before his false declaration. Below is a rundown of Kodak Black's legal troubles prior to 2019, from Miami New Times. It needs to be acknowledged that Hunter Biden was a child of privilege, while Kodak Black was very much the opposite, a poor person of color who had to make his own way in the world and became a success in the music business. Hunter Biden's sketchiest behavior was tolerated or shrugged off, while Kodak Black was regularly pursued by law enforcement. And Kodak Black is in part a victim of the War on Drugs, while Hunter Biden isn't.

Hunter Biden was a drug addict and a failed influence peddler, but when it came time to sentence him, he didn't have a record like this:
October 2015: Arrest for kidnapping, battery, and other charges
At 18 years old, Kodak Black was beginning to make waves in the Florida hip-hop world after his breakout hit “Skrt” debuted on Drake’s OVO Beats 1 Radio station. That's when he faced his first arrest in the spotlight. Kodak, born Dieuson Octave in Pompano Beach, was arrested for assault, robbery, kidnapping, false imprisonment, driving with a suspended license, and possession of marijuana after being accused of forcing several people into his car because he suspected someone broke into his Broward County home. He was released on bond soon thereafter.

December 2015: Arrest for marijuana possession
Just two months after he was charged with drug possession in addition to more severe crimes, Kodak was arrested in St. Lucie County for possession of less than two pounds of marijuana. He also was charged for having drug paraphernalia on him.

February 2016: Arrest for sexual battery
Kodak Black allegedly assaulted a young woman in Florence, South Carolina, in February 2016. The woman reportedly accompanied him to his hotel room after his show at the nightclub Treasure City. Soon after entering the room, she said, the rapper ripped off her clothes, bit her, and raped her. He was charged with criminal sexual misconduct.

April 2016: Arrest for weapons possession
Shortly after the Florence incident, Kodak was allegedly seen buying marijuana from a drug dealer; he then got in his car and drove away. When police tried to pull him over, he attempted to evade arrest and threw a gun from his car, according to the cops. After recovering a loaded .40-caliber Glock 23 pistol, they arrested Kodak for possessing a weapon by a convicted felon, possession of marijuana, and a number of traffic violations.

May 2016: Arrest in Broward County
According to XXL, Kodak was arrested again in Broward County, this time in connection with open warrants related to the previous charges of false imprisonment and armed robbery.

While he was in jail for this arrest, outstanding warrants for the criminal sexual misconduct case in Florence and the marijuana possession charge from December 2015 were brought to light.

August 2016
After three months in jail, Kodak was sentenced in August to one year of house arrest and five years of probation. He was also reportedly ordered to complete community service, anger management, and community control supervision programs.

However, before he could be placed on house arrest, the open warrants for the St. Lucie County drug possession arrest halted his release. In addition to that warrant, his charge of criminal sexual misconduct in the Florence case was changed to sexual battery, which carries a penalty of up to 30 years in prison.

September 2016
A month later, in September, he pleaded no contest to the St. Lucie possession case and was sentenced to 120 days in prison.

November 28, 2016
Kodak Black was released from a St. Lucie County jail and extradited to South Carolina to face the sexual battery charge.

December 1, 2016
As predicted by his lawyers, Kodak was freed from a South Carolina jail after posting a $100,000 bond for the sexual battery charge. He posted on Instagram that he was “happy to finally be going home to family and friends” and that he looked forward to clearing his name “in the very near future.”

Feb 2017: Arrest for violating house arrest, assaulting bartender
After appearing in court in Broward, Kodak was arrested for violating the terms of his house arrest related to the charges of false imprisonment in May 2016.

The decision to take him into custody was bolstered by his alleged assault of a bartender at Club Climaxx in Miami earlier in February. Charges weren’t formally filed against him, but the woman identified Kodak as the man who punched and kicked her at the club, and the police incident report was presented in court.

April/May 2017: Angry outburst, sentencing in house arrest violation
Between April 21 and May 4, Kodak was embroiled in a number of legal issues.

On April 21, he was accused of grabbing his anger management counselor by the arm after she threatened to call 911 when he refused to leave a session. She reportedly asked him to leave because he was “intentionally disrupting” the session by “burping repeatedly.”

Five days later, on April 26, he was found guilty on five counts of violating his house arrest.

On May 4, he was sentenced to 364 days in prison with the possibility of early release if he completed a life skills course. He successfully finished the course and was released in June after serving 97 days.

January 2018: Arrest for weapons and drug possession, child neglect
Despite some legal issues regarding child support for his son, Kodak steered clear of the courthouse for the remainder of 2017 after his release from jail. That changed January 18, 2018, when police were alerted to a live stream on Kodak Black’s Instagram feed. The video showed the rapper in his Broward home, surrounded by drugs and weapons with his child nearby.

He was arrested for grand theft of a firearm, two charges of possession of a weapon or ammo by a Florida delinquent adult felon, possession of cannabis over 20 grams, child neglect without great bodily harm, and two counts of parole violation, according to XXL.

A month later, his lawyers were able to get the charges of grand theft, child neglect, and possession of a weapon by a felon dropped.

April 2018: Sentencing for January arrest
Kodak Black entered a plea of not guilty and was again sentenced to 364 days in prison for the remaining charges stemming from his January arrest. He got credit for 90 days of time served in jail while awaiting trial, so he was released in August of that year.

During that stint in jail, Kodak seemed to be trying hard to turn his life around: He earned a GED, changed his legal name to Bill K. Kapri, and even tweeted about writing a book.

Shortly after his release, it was revealed he was also let off probation, truly cementing his freedom.

For a while, things quieted down for Kodak as he continued to release hit songs and collaborate with exciting artists.

However, things once again spiraled downward that spring.

April/May 2019: Arrest for weapons possession
Kodak Black and three others were apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents while trying to cross into Canada from New York. He was found with a Glock 9mm pistol and marijuana and was taken to the Niagara County Jail.

He paid the $20,000 to $40,000 bond and then walked out of the jail with a fan of cash covering his face.

Then, less than a month later, he was arrested on weapons charges in Miami. Just before he was set to take the stage at the hip-hop music festival Rolling Loud, he was apprehended by U.S. marshals for state and federal firearms violations following what was described as an “extensive investigation.”

The federal charge arose from an instance in which the rapper allegedly lied about the status of his criminal cases when he filled out official paperwork for a gun purchase.
On the subject of Hunter Biden's sentence, The New York Times reports:
The crimes to which Mr. Biden is pleading guilty, said Douglas Berman, a law professor at Ohio State University and a sentencing expert, are ones that the average person is rarely prosecuted for because they are usually only brought along with more serious offenses.

“If these are the only offenses, most prosecutors are going to say it’s not worth a federal case,” Mr. Berman said. “They would say: Let’s not make a federal case of it for the average person because it’s not worth it to bring a case unless there’s reason to be concerned that there’s a public safety issue or the trust that everyone is treated equally under the law is at stake.”
Republicans insist that Hunter Biden's influence changed government policy when Joe Biden was vice president, but the most they can point to is then-Vice President Biden urging the Ukrainian government to sack a prosecutor who was seen by many governments around the world as corrupt, and who, in any case, wasn't even investigating Burisma, the Ukrainian firm Hunter Biden was affiliated with. More recently, Republicans have said the FBI has a document that says a Ukrainian has a tape that proves that both Hunter Biden and Joe Biden received Burisma bribes. Some of them admit the tapes may not exist.

I guess law enforcement could throw the book at Hunter Biden based on vibes, but that's not how anything works.

And as for the rapper:
Black was pardoned by former President Donald Trump on his final day in office.

Tuesday, June 20, 2023


Democrats are debating whether to attack Robert Kennedy Jr. or ignore him, The Hill reports:
Bill Carrick, a veteran Democratic strategist, urged the Biden campaign to take the high road and treat Kennedy as if he barely exists. “I think they should ignore him. I just don’t think there’s any point in [engaging] in it. He’s not the least bit of a threat to President Biden,” Carrick said....

But others warn that there are dangers in that approach.

“You can’t let cancers metastasize,” said Bakari Sellers, a CNN commentator and former Democratic state representative in South Carolina.
I agree with Carrick that Biden and his campaign shouldn't attack Kennedy. But Sellers is right to say that ignoring Kennedy is dangerous. A Democratic group that's independent of the Biden campaign should be pushing back on Kennedy's media blitz.

I say this not because I think Kennedy could actually beat Biden in the primaries. The main reason Kennedy could use a bit of scuffing up is that the media loves him - or at least loves covering him. Part of it is the press's desperate hope for a genuine horserace in at least one of the parties. Beyond that, reporters and editors seem to be find RFK Jr. captivating, as if a 1960s Kennedy is suddenly walking the earth, but infused with outsider political magic, the kind of thing they seem to find thrilling in Donald Trump.

You see this even in stories that acknowledge how dangerous Kennedy's ideas are. For example, take a look at this long story on Kennedy by Brandy Zadrozny, who covers misinformation, extremism, and online culture for NBC News. The second half of Zadrozny's story is full of appalling details about Kennedy -- follow the links in one paragraph and you'll learn that Kennedy once appeared at an anti-vaxx forum with a spokesman for Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam at the group's community center in South Los Angeles; a few month later, Farrakhan himelf tweeted this:

But even Zadrozny can't resist writing about Kennedy as if he has the star quality of his father and brother. In her opening paragraphs, she meets him as he is
partway up a 3-mile trail near Mandeville Canyon, a hike he makes every morning with his two Gordon setters and 1-year-old German shorthaired pointer.

I am one of many reporters dispatched to profile Kennedy, who is so busy, and has so many journalists attached to the campaign, according to his press person, that accompanying him to official events won’t be possible. So, on a Monday morning in late May, we are on this hike instead, a winding trek up and back down a steep hill, as Kennedy lays out his vision of the country he aims to lead....

As Kennedy speaks, his dogs remain at attention. For a long time. No treats are given.

“It’s something called an intermittent reward system,” Kennedy, noticing my discomfort, explains of the lapse. “I learned it from falconry. If you don’t give the animal a treat every time, it actually makes them more obedient.”

... He flicks three treats into the air and the dogs snap up their rewards.

Every story that makes Kennedy look like a charismatic, vigorous challenger -- even the ones that eventually run through all the worst conspiracy theories Kennedy champions, as this one does -- implies that maybe he's right to challenge the weary old incumbent. Every story that conveys Kennedy's ability to talk at length (as they all do, because he loves to talk and he's good at bamboozling reporters) is a reminder that public speaking isn't Biden's superpower. Every story that makes Kennedy look strong makes Biden look weaker. Biden doesn't need that.

I hope soon there'll be a website dense with vivid details about Kennedy's bad ideas and unsavory relationships, as well as about his Trumpist fan base. I hope we'll see ads making the same points. Kennedy is a bad person, and the sooner he's tarnished, the better it will be for Democrats who want to beat Donald Trump.

Don't give Kennedy too much attention. But define him before the starry-eyed media does.