Friday, April 29, 2022

Tweet Of The Day- The Taking Over That Isn't

Responding to a tweet from US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one individual- no doubt meaning well- has tweeted

The public has moved more left for good reason. Things like canceling student debt, police/prison reform, homes for the homeless, ubi, being more open and supportive of the lgbt etc. And the government moved more to the right. Pretty obvious observation imo.

Under a Democratic President, student debt has not been cancelled. Criminal justice reform negotiations on the federal level ended with no action taken while some municipalities have enacted police reform and others have increased law enforcement budgets.  Despite the value experienced of sending checks to people during the pandemic, there has been no movement on a universal basic income and there still is no federal law against discrimination against sexual minorities (or "LGBTAIA+, if you prefer)., 

Nor has the federal minimum wage been increased and reproductive freedom, wiped out in some states and hanging by a thread in some others, is likely to be eviscerated soon by the US Supreme Court.  The Overton Window has moved right and Ocasio-Cortez has noticed:

Early in the report below. the NBC station in Philadelphia shows the top three (of four total) candidates for the Democratic nomination for an open seat in the US Senate in the swing state of Pennsylvania. The report is lacking journalistically but is telling when we learn that the two leading candidates. Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman and US Representative Conor Lamb, are stressing that they can attract votes of moderates and conservatives, independents and Republicans, in the general election. 

Neither Fetterman- the more liberal/left of the two- or Lamb professed support for Medicare for All, even after a pandemic in which millions of Americans lost health care as they lost their job. If they had done so, they might have been identified with progressive policies, and they didn't want to risk that in a Democratic primary  race. Any interest- in a Democratic primary- in energizing their own party's base is abandoned.

If this is how "the extreme far-left is taking over," it would be disturbing to see what it would look like if moderates have been taking over. Which, truth be told, they have.


Thursday, April 28, 2022

Greene, Again; McCarthy, Again

In my last post, I lamented that I had no choice but to defend US Representative Ilhan Omar, the famous Democrat from Minnesota. It gets worse. Now it's Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, who a year ago was credibly accused of

doing more to push people away from and out of the Catholic Church than any prominent atheist ever could,. We always look forward to Donohue’s statements. Time and time again, he proves our point: Religious denial of reality, whether it be about the existence of Christian nationalism or child abuse, is causing immense harm to our country.”

Now, it's difficult to disagree with Donohue because

During an April 21 interview with far-right Catholic news organization Church Militant, activist Michael Voris alleged that bishops receive "enormous sums of money from the federal government, federal taxpayers, to assist in illegal immigration," prompting Greene to take aim at Catholic charities that provide funding for causes related to undocumented immigrants." The Catholic League's Bill Donohue accused me of slandering Catholics and Catholicism in an interview I gave to Michael Voris at Church Militant. Nothing could be further from the truth, and he must apologize promptly and publicly for these words," she said.

"It's the church leadership I was referring to when I invoked the devil. The bishops know that but had their loyal lapdog pretend I was being disrespectful about the faith. Just so we're clear, bishops, when I said 'controlled by Satan,' I wasn't talking about the Catholic Church. I was talking about you."

"What it is is ... Satan's controlling the church. The church is not doing its job. It's not adhering to the teachings of Christ. It's not adhering to what the word of God says we're supposed to do and how we're supposed to live," she said.

"And what they're doing by saying, ‘Oh, we have to love these people and take care of these migrants and love one another. This is loving one another' — yes, we are supposed to love one another, but their definition of what ‘love one another' means means destroying our laws. It means completely perverting what our Constitution says. It means taking unreal advantage of the American taxpayer."

Her inflammatory comments sparked Catholic League President Bill Donahue to condemn her remarks, asserting that he would be reaching out to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy regarding the matter.

"Satan is controlling the Catholic Church? She needs to apologize to Catholics immediately. She is a disgrace," he said in a statement. "We are contacting House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy about this matter. He's got a loose cannon on his hands."

She remarked additionally

If the bishops were reading the Bible and truly preaching the word of God to their flock and not covering up child sex abuse and pedophilia, loving one another would have the true meaning and not the perversion and the twisted lie that they’re making it to be..."

Donahue demanded an apology, after which Greene demanded one from him.

.That's how it's done these days. Not the apology but the demand for an apology, which brings no apology, aside from possibly a statement of regret that the subject of the comment was offended. And that's no apology at all.

Initially, the Georgia congresswoman had criticized Catholic Charities for aiding immigrants and, as Donohue charged, "had plenty of opportunities to make rational criticisms of the agency, but instead she slandered the entire Catholic Church." 

She could have acknowledged that the Church has made some amends for past pedophilia of its clergy or suggested a means, such as an end to priestly celibacy, to purge the behavior.  She could have made a distinction between legal and illegal immigration, arguing that the Church has not. She could have explained what biblical book, chapter, or verse the Catholic prelate is ignoring.

In a normal environment, one in which Republicans are occasionally held accountable, the congresswoman's incendiary remarks would be a problem for House Republicans. Promising to contact Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Bill Donahue- at least for now- is properly assigning responsibility to House leadership. Marjorie Greene traffics in hatred, bigotry, and dishonesty, otherwise being an upstanding citizen. Somebody has to put the pressure on the House GOP and, if it has to be someone who himself has exhibited limited tolerance for differing viewpoints, we'll take it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Rudeness Up High

It's awkward enough blogging about something which occurred well over a week ago. It's even more awkward when I have to agree with Ilhan Omar. Awkward, and uncomfortable. 

Syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts, who agreed with the Minnesota congresswoman approximately 90%, is even more on target. He wrote

Ilhan Omar was right. In fact, it’s not even close. That will come as heresy and apostasy to those now feigning moral indignation over a tweet the Minnesota congresswoman sent out on Sunday. But that makes it no less true. 

In the video Omar shared — about its origin, little is known — a man with a guitar stands in the aisle of a crowded plane singing a Christian worship song. While some passengers sing along, others seem annoyed or studiously ignore the commotion. A little boy plugs his ears. It all moved Omar, a Muslim born in Somalia, to write: “I think my family and I should have a prayer session next time I am on a plane. How do you think it will end?”

The answer, as any honest and intelligent person well knows, is that in a post-9/11 world, it would end with them tackled to the floor and duct taped to their chairs as the pilot radioed ahead to the nearest airfield requesting permission for an emergency landing.

Personally, I think it more likely that there would have been a request and serious attempt to disband the prayer group, which probably would have been successful. Only if it weren't would there have been violence and permission requested for an emergency landing. Still, point well made.

Pitts notes that Omar's comments prompted a torrent of hostile and/or bigoted responses, which

affirms that so-called conservatism remains a doctrine of hate, it also raises a telling question of entitlement, of who gets to do what in the public square. 

Take religion out of it for a moment. Imagine a group of rappers held a rap battle in the aisle of a transatlantic flight. Imagine some bickering couple had a loud argument about his infidelity or her infertility. Imagine a troupe of actors performed a scene from Shakespeare. 

Imagine, in other words, any scenario in which a group of people is held captive to a disruptive performance they did not choose and cannot escape. Do that, and one word suggests itself with crystalline clarity. 

Rude. That’s what every principal in those imagined scenarios would be. And it’s what the singers on that plane were, too.

Exactly. It comes down to courtesy. The singers deny the right of the fare-paying customer to be left in peace to read, sleep, or talk to the individual sitting next to her. As David Doel can be seen remarking here, "all people want you to do on flights is to sit down and shut up for the duration of the flight. That's all the vast majority of people want."

Pitts recognizes

It bespeaks a certain level of social privilege that this seems not to have occurred to them, that they never questioned whether they had the right to commandeer the public square and take hostages, never stopped to think there might be atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, Muslims, Wiccans, Jews or, for that matter, even other Christians on that flight who had no interest in hearing them sing. 

It’s unlikely the experience brought any of those people to Christ. If anything, it probably drove some the other way.

It is a matter of privilege and, to Pitts' credit, he doesn't refer to it as "white privilege" or "Christian privilege" or invoke any adjective. It's the perception people increasingly have that they are entitled to do whatever they can get away with.

Emphasizing that the performers demonstrated "a show of their entitlement," Pitts adds "Omar’s tweet was on the relatively narrow issue of a double standard against Muslims. But the larger issue is about the hubris that comes of being at home in every setting, of never having to ask permission."

More reprehensible yet, the behavior prompted me to praise, or at least largely agree with, Ilhan Omar.


Monday, April 25, 2022

Tweet Of The Day- Money, Sort Of

I don't know much about cryptocurrency but Bob Dylan's old line applies: "you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows." You don't have to be an economist to know this is accurate:


No Time For Passivity

"When they go low, we go high," Michelle Obama pompously declared at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. As diagnosis, it still applies. As prescription, it is awful. This is how you do it:

"Kevin McCarthy is a liar and a traitor," Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren maintained on Sunday's State of the Union on CNN. Three things:

1) Bad grammar- she meant "Kevin McCarthy is a liar and traitor." ("Liar and a traitor" implies two individuals.);

2) The subject is not a traitor because treason is defined in the US Constitution as "aid and comfort" to the nation's enemies to the enemy" and the USA is not officially at war with anyone;

3) The subject is an obvious liar.

The first two points are irrelevant. Kevin McCarthy is a liar, and protesting that he's not a traitor draws attention to the fact that he is a liar and to provoke further discussion about whether or not he is a traitor.

It would not be a good look. The Republican Party knows that and as of this moment, is mum about the accusations leveled by Warren.

This is a rare play run by Democrats, who are rarely on the offensive and are content with their status as punching bags as long as they're lauded for occasionally fighting back.

Syndicated columnist Jennifer Rubin, who no longer considers herself a conservative and supports Joe Biden, lavishly praises Michigan Democratic State Senator Mallory McMorrow and Missouri state Representative Ian Mackey. The latter

went viral by denouncing the persecution of LGBTQ Americans. Addressing his Republican colleague Rep. Chuck Basye, who sponsored an amendment to a bill to prohibit transgender girls from participating in sports, Mackey noted that Basye’s gay brother had delayed coming out for fear of Basye’s reaction. Basye began his response with “If I were your brother, I would have been afraid to tell you, too."

When McMorrow was attacked in a fundraising email by a Republican colleague as one who would "groom and sexualize kindergartners," she responded  with a statement which included 

I know that hate will only win if people like me stand by and let it happen. So I want to be very clear right now: Call me whatever you want. I hope you brought in a few dollars. I hope it made you sleep good last night. I know who I am.

My, "I hope it made you sleep good last night" is going to strike fear into the hearts of Republicans.  This passive-aggressive response is more typical of Democrats, as we can glean by reaction to US Representative Madison Cawthorn, a right-wing Republican from North Carolina. 

Upon standing in 2020 as a 25-year-old for election to the House, former classmates of the dropout from Patrick Henry College circulated a letter noting

Cawthorn’s time at PHC was marked by gross misconduct towards our female peers, public misrepresentation of his past, disorderly conduct that was against the school’s student honor code, and self-admitted academic failings. During his brief time at the college, Cawthorn established a reputation for predatory behavior. … We urge the voters of North Carolina to seriously reevaluate Madison Cawthorn’s candidacy in light of who he really is.

Last month, Cawthorn charged

The sexual perversion that goes on in Washington, I mean—being kind of a young guy in Washington, where the average age is probably 60 or 70 and I look at all of these people, a lot of them I’ve looked up to through my life … then all of a sudden you get invited to, ‘Oh, hey, we’re going to have kind of a sexual get-together at one of our homes, you should come!’ And I’m like, ‘What did you just ask me to come to?’ And then you realize they’re asking you to come to an orgy.

Or the fact that, you know, there’s some of the people that are leading on the movement to try and remove addiction in our country, and then you watch them do a key bump of cocaine in front of you.

And now, this:



This, too:


Dude has been a sexual predator, apparently drives with a revoked license, allegedly runs an office with more liquor bottles than water bottles and illegally fires a female staffer, and now

New photos show Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn dressed in women's lingerie, chugging wine and surrounded by women - just weeks after he accused his GOP colleagues of inviting him to cocaine-fueled orgies.

The photos obtained by Politico how the 26-year-old Republican with a vacant look in his eyes, wearing women's hoop earrings and a woman's necklace along with a bra and lingerie set.

Screenshots of the photos were provided to the outlet by someone who used to be close to Cawthorn and his campaign. A second former confidante of Cawthorn verified the photos. It's unclear when they were taken, but he appears to be sitting in his wheelchair, indicating they were taken after the car accident that left him paralyzed in 2014.

If this were a Democrat, Republicans already would make sure Americans believed the Democratic Party were infested with liars, rapists, drug addicts, and perverts.  The GOP wants Americans to think of Democrats as "groomers.". Christina Pushaw, press secretary to Florida governor Ron DeSantis, has responded to Democratic opposition to the state legislature's "Don't Say Gay" bill by charging "If you’re against the Anti-Grooming Bill, you are probably a groomer or at least you don’t denounce the grooming of 4-8 year old children. Silence is complicity. This is how it works, Democrats, and I didn’t make the rules..."

But this is what leading Democrats have had to say about Madison Cawthorn:

Crickets. Their mouths are shut. Notwithstanding Senator Warren, relatively few Democrats have denounced Kevin McCarthy. Even fewer have even mentioned Madison Cawthorn.

In the latter's case, that may be in part because the LGBTQIA+-friendly Party probably is loathe to criticize a man who enjoys wearing sexy woman's clothing, But this isn't a case of sexual preference, generally determined at birth and beyond personal choice. It's personal choice, and one the vast majority of voters would find odd, were Democrats even to mention it. Additionally, it's Madison Cawthorn, and his behavior has been atrocious at every turn. He is- or should be- a poster boy for hideousness. News flash: he's a bad seed, or at least as much as is imaginable.

This is a case for political behaviorists or even social psychologists. Democrats rag on President Trump or his enablers, Steve Bannon, Steve Miller, Mark Meadows, Rudy Giuliani, and the whole roster of rogues. But they are unable or unwilling even to question their colleagues in the House of Representatives or the Senate. It shouldn't be up to Elizabeth Warren to save the country from the likes of Kevin McCarthy and Michael Bloomberg. Her colleagues need to step up, go low, and save this nation's democratic institutions.


Sunday, April 24, 2022

Hidden Goals

In June, 2021 public media in Florida reported

More than 100 new laws passed during the 2021 legislative session will hit the books this week, ranging from a record $100 billion state budget to a ban on COVID-19 vaccine “passports” and an expansion of school vouchers.

Also taking effect are two measures from the 2020 session, including a law that will allow college athletes to make money off the field based on their names, images and likenesses.

Most of this year’s new laws take effect Thursday, which also is the start of the state’s 2021-2022 fiscal year. But about 40 bills passed this year have already gone into place, and another 20 will take effect later this year.

The legislation covered these 17 areas:  budget, tax breaks, online tax collections, social media, ballot initiatives, school vouchers, moment of silence, civics education, intellectual freedom, transgender athletes, right to farm, Covid-19 passports, alcohol to go, property insurance, toll roads, gun regulations, and foreign influence.

Those initiatives went into effect fairly promptly. Without a moment's hesitation, this year the Florida Senate and House

passed a bill that would dissolve Disney World’s Reedy Creek Improvement District, which essentially allows Disney World to act as its own county, and now, the bill has taken another step forward.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed the bill to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District, according to the Associated Press....

The law eliminates the 55-year-old district as well as a few other similar districts in Florida by June of 2023. The districts can be reestablished in the future, though.

The measure eliminates improvement districts created before ratification in November 1968 of the state's constitution. Most were established after 1968 but Reedy Creek was not, and therefore is to be dissolved, according to text of the law- yet not until June 1, 2023.

For those keeping score at home, that wouldn't take place until more than 13 months from now.  The legislation reportedly has improved the standing of Governor DeSantis at home, but he has been a favorite to win re-election nonetheless.

However, it gives Disney, evidently the seat of decadence in the modern world, plenty of time to negotiate with the governor and the legislature. It gives the corporate behemoth a great deal of time to decide to restrict its giving to Republicans or to find an effective means to support actively the presidential candidacy of Ron DeSantis. And in return, the law can be rescinded, possibly replaced by legislation which would further enrich and empower Disney.

Republicans were prompted to cancel the Reedy Creek Improvement District because of Disney's opposition to the "Don't Say Gay" bill, itself an attack upon public schools. But coverage focused almost entirely on the sexual preference aspect because conservatives are well-versed in passing off moral outrage as a cover to divert attention from ulterior motives.  

Diana Reddy, a Doctoral Fellow at the Law, Economics, and Politics Center at UC Berkeley Law, explained in December

Christopher Rufo—who a recent New Yorker article named as the “inventor” of the anti-CRT panic—is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, “a leading voice of free-market ideas.” And while the Manhattan Institute currently devotes an entire section of its website to the “problem” of critical race theory, its education advocacy has long focused on privatized school choice.

Another pundit from the Manhattan Institute, Jason Riley, recently laid out a strategic vision in the Wall Street Journal for how conservatives might use the current crises in public education as a political wedge-issue. Backlash against both critical race theory and COVID-19 restrictions, he claimed, could bring in midterm wins for Republican candidates: “Republicans ought to embrace the opportunity to explain to voters why the best response—to everything from racial propaganda and incompetent education bureaucrats to mask mandates and learning gaps—is more school choice"....

The prolific Christopher Rufo concluded another recent article decrying public education by quoting an anonymous teacher at a Philadelphia elementary school. According to Rufo, this teacher confided that they had “come to realize that no policy hurts African-Americans more than the public school system and the teachers’ union.” 

The media has assumed for almost two years that the opponents of critical race theory are targeting discussion of America's racially damaging past and/or anti-racism training. However, the objective is broader than that, encompassing an effort to eliminate pubic education in favor of profit-based education.

Similarly, Ron DeSantis' perceived urgency about the horrors of Disney anti-wokeism is in large part subterfuge.  The values Disney promotes with opposition to the "Don't Say Gay" bill are such a threat to Floridians that the company must be punished- in another year or so.   While the cultural warfare the GOP seems to be waging plays well with its voter base, their goals are broader and even more dangerous than readily apparent.

Friday, April 22, 2022

McCarthy's Brief Moment

A newly released recording shows House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy

preparing to formally break from Trump in the aftermath of the deadly riot, just as House Democrats started drawing up an impeachment resolution.

“Again, the only discussion I would have with him is that I think this will pass, and it would be my recommendation you should resign,” McCarthy said of the impeachment resolution. “Um, I mean that would be my take, but I don’t think he would take it. But I don’t know.”

McCarthy also suggested he was concerned Trump would ask him about obtaining a pardon from Mike Pence, who would have ascended to the presidency if Trump resigned. Joining McCarthy on the call was Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who was then the third-ranking Republican, along with other Republican leaders. They briefly discussed the prospect of Trump’s Cabinet invoking the 25th Amendment, which would allow Trump to be immediately removed from office, and McCarthy revealed he had spoken to Trump within the previous “couple days.”

“I would be highly surprised if President Trump allowed these left-of-center journalists and pundits to gain a victory by engaging in this warfare,” Jason Miller, a former Trump spokesman, told POLITICO. 

If this is "warfare," the bullets, bombs, and missiles are missing.  So was release of the information when it would have had an impact, determinative or otherwise, on President Trump. President 45 was impeached, for the second time, on January 13, 2020 and was acquitted by the Senate on February 13 after a trial which began on February 9. 

Neither release of the audio nor the conversation it captures casts any further light on the ex-president, who probably will forgive McCarthy once the latter pledges further allegiance to Donald the King.  Predictably, no one has taken credit for leaking the audio to New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin or Alexander Burns. It never hurts, however, to look to motive and the third highest-ranking House Republican is the obvious suspect:


Thursday, April 21, 2022

Replacement Theory And Trump Supporters

As displayed at the beginning of the recent Young Turks video below, three months ago Tucker Carlson wailed

The left and all the gatekeepers on Twitter become literally hysterical if you use the term "replacement," if you suggest the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots....

The Democratic Party is not trying to replace or reduce the electorate, but instead to expand the electorate. Tucker continues

... with new people more obedient, voters from the third world. But they become hysterical because that's what's happening, actually. Let's just say if that's true. So this matters on a bunch of different levels but on the most basic level, it's a voting rights question. If you change the population you dilute the political power of the people who live there so every time they import more voters, I become disenfranchised as a current voter....

Carlson does not lose the right to vote. His followers don't lose the right to vote. And what is happening is not importing more voters but allowing individuals constitutionally and legally eligible to vote to continue to vote.

In case you thought that Tucker was referring to race when he said "import" and "Third World," he wants you to know

So I don't understand why you don't understand this. I mean, everyone wants to make a racial issue out of it. Oh, you know, the white replacement there- no, no, this is a voting rights question.

Carlson uses not a dog whistle but a blow to the head when he invokes "replacement" theory, a term and concept reinvigorated by author Renaud Camus in his 2011 book “Le Grand Remplacement.” The French news network France 24 last year explained that.

Rooted in racist nationalist views, the great replacement theory purports that an elitist group is colluding against white French and European people to eventually replace them with non-Europeans from Africa and the Middle East, the majority of whom are Muslim. Renaud Camus often refers to this as “genocide by substitution”.

Notions of the theory date as far back as 1900, when the father of French nationalism Maurice Barrès spoke about a new population that would take over, triumph and “ruin our homeland”.

In an article for daily newspaper Le Journal, he wrote: “The name of France might well survive; the special character of our country would, however, be destroyed, and the people settled in our name and on our territory would be heading towards destinies contradictory to the destinies and needs of our land and our dead."

At the time Barrès was writing, “anti-Semitism was extremely mainstream”, says Dr. Aurelien Mondon, a senior lecturer of politics at Bath University in an interview with FRANCE 24. “Barrès spoke about the idea of racial purity,” he says, which is why the theory of population replacement became so popular among the Nazis, for example.

But after World War II, the French far right needed a new discourse to move back into the mainstream. Shifting away from biological racism towards cultural racism, the replacement theory gained ground in the 1970s and 1980s.

“The Nouvelle Droite (New Right) and some French intellectuals were trying to find ways to move away from the margins,” Mondon says. Over the years, these ideas spread among the far right, which was becoming more and more mainstream in France, eventually paving the way for Camus to publish his book on the topic without being disregarded as too radical.

“Camus didn’t invent anything,” Mondon explains. “He put concepts together and coined the phrase, but his theory is part of a much broader context that contributed to the reshaping of the far right [in France.”

With the far-right Marie Le Pen currently posing a serious threat to Emmanuel Macron and democracy in France, the movement has newly taken on added importance. However, it helps make clearer the self-deception engaged in by Trump supporters who believe their hero won the 2020 presidential election. Sarah Longwell writes

I regularly host focus groups to better understand how voters are thinking about key political topics. Recently, I decided to find out why Trump 2020 voters hold so strongly to the Big Lie.

For many of Trump’s voters, the belief that the election was stolen is not a fully formed thought. It’s more of an attitude, or a tribal pose. They know something nefarious occurred but can’t easily explain how or why.

The anti-Trump Republican Longwell concludes

These voters aren’t bad or unintelligent people. The problem is that the Big Lie is embedded in their daily life. They hear from Trump-aligned politicians, their like-minded peers, and MAGA-friendly media outlets—and from these sources they hear the same false claims repeated ad infinitum.

Now we are at the point where to be a Republican means to believe the Big Lie. And as long as Republicans leading the party keep promoting and indulging the Big Lie, that will continue to be the case. If I’ve learned anything from my focus groups, it’s that something doesn’t have to make sense for voters to believe it’s true.

As Longwell notes, the GOP does promote and indulge the "Big Lie" and these voters aren't unintelligent. Yet, they claim "flipped" votes overnight after polls closed; mail-in ballots as a "crock;" a "fixed" election; or  "something just doesn't feel right."  Scorned (or so they believe) for being Trump voters- and maybe for being racist- they won't be as forthright as Tucker Carlson, who has his own reasons for peddling racially divisive ideas.

Longwell concedes the Trump voters hear "false claims repeated ad infinitum" from "Trump-aligned politicians, their like-minded peers, and MAGA-friendly media outlets."   Nonetheless, she maintains "these voters aren't bad or unintelligent people," and she's right about the latter.

But something is at work, and if it's not stupidity, Longwell needs to recognize that a person doesn't have to be a flat-out racist to be at least somewhat malevolent. If asked if liberals voted twice, immigrants voted illegally, or blacks were pressured by Democrats, many of her interviewees would have sounded a lot like Tucker Carlson. They are not helpless pawns, but have found a like-minded spokesman for their electoral interests.


Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Just Another Setback

The hostility of the right toward expertise continues apace, most recently reflected in the toppling of the mask mandate by Federalist Society hack Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, toward expertise.

Also, "The physics establishment still has not grappled w the damage it's done to its reputation by failing to respect the fact that members of the public have different ideas on how to walk off buildings and bridges, or to place any value on the individual freedom of amateur ideas..." 

And "The firefighters establishment still has not grappled with the damage it's done to its reputation by failing to respect the fact that members of the public have different ideas about how to fight forest fires, or to place any value on the individual freedom of amateur ideas..."

The New York Times reports

For flight attendants, pilots and others in the business, the mask mandate had become a source of frustration even as they acknowledged that it protected them during their extensive exposure to strangers. Flight crews had to enforce proper face coverings — a dangerous job in polarizing times. Some passengers refused to comply and became belligerent; in extreme cases, they even punched, kicked and bloodied flight attendants.

“They don’t like being policemen on airplanes,” said David Neeleman, the founder of JetBlue Airways and now chief executive of a new company, Breeze Airways. “It’s not something that they signed up for, and I think it creates more agitation with customers"....

However, if we're tempted to believe they're welcoming the change for largely altruistic or humanistic reasons

Airlines, which spent months calling for an end to the mask requirement, were quick to jettison enforcement of the rule on Monday — some crews even announced during flights that passengers were free to take off their masks. The industry is clearly hoping that the change will benefit it by allowing it to focus more again on selling customers premium services.

They'll be making more money and that's the bottom line, as it invariably is.  With resumption of alcohol sales by American Airlines, all airlines now have removed the prohibition, suspended early in the pandemic, because, well, fights are merely the cost of doing business.

However, the most ridiculous aspect of the court order overturning the airline mask mandate is that it took effect immediately. A great many people had purchased tickets on the premise that masks would be required. Children, immunocompromised individuals, and elderly patrons already in flight were treated to the announcement that masks could be discarded. There are a lot of people who deserve refunds or other significant considerations but won't get them.

The cost of doing business in this country has been increased death. There could have been greater use of vaccine requirements- slimed as "vaccine passports"- on airlines and elsewhere, but no. The public officials (called "Democrats") uneasy with death were long ago intimidated by the smearing of vaccination measures by popularization of the term "passport." Republicans, aided as they often are by the "liberal media," gained the clear and decisive upper hand in messaging, and that has driven the direction of public health policy.

Vaccination would have been most helpful for schools, in which guidelines have fluctuated from period to period, state to state, town to town. It could have been added to the five shots against disease mandated in at least 44 states for kindergartners. Though not a cinch to enforce, it would have been much easier than the "masks required if not vaccinated" nonsense. There, individuals sufficiently cavalier not to be vaccinated are admonished to wear masks which most obviously won't wear.

With considerable validity, people have said that luck is more important than talent. And sometimes, luck is more important than common sense and so at some point, the pandemic will end, leaving in its wake death both unavoidable and avoidable.


Monday, April 18, 2022

A Bad Lesson Republicans Have Learned

Elie Mystal of The Nation, a contributor to MSNBC,  notes that Herschel Walker, a candidate for the Republican nomination to face incumbent Georgia senator Raphael Warnock, "displays a level of ignorance that would embarrass most sixth graders," He possesses credentials which "include lying about being a class valedictorian, claiming to own businesses that do not exist, and having a restraining order taken out on him by his ex-wife, who has accused him of being physically and verbally abusive." Mystal argues

Herschel Walker, the football star turned Georgia Senate candidate, is an animated caricature of a Black person drawn by white conservatives. Walker is what they think of us, and they think we’re big, ignorant, and easily manipulated. They think we’re shady or criminal. They think we’re tools to be used. The Walker campaign exists as a political minstrel show: a splashy rendition of what white Republicans think Black people look and sound like.

There is no doubt that Walker, currently leading in the Republican primary for Senate in Georgia, has been promoted by conservative forces because he is Black. Georgia Republicans aren’t in the habit of nominating Black people for the US Senate. The state’s Grand Old Party didn’t even nominate a Black person for the Senate during Reconstruction—when Republicans were progressives and Confederates were barred from government. Not a single Black person was elected to the Senate in Georgia from either party, ever, until Reverend Raphael Warnock ran as a Democrat—and won—in 2020. It is in direct response to Warnock and the emerging power of the Black vote in that state that Republicans dredged up Walker.

Nor is Georgia in the habit of electing football players who starred at the University of Georgia.... The “it’s the football, not the racism” argument fails its first contact with reality.

Mystal is correct in ascribing much of the motivation to race, though I think he underplays the role of the returning football hero in this drama. However, this did not in recent decades start with the Republican Party.

When presidential candidate Barack Obama improbably vowed “this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal ...," few of us Democrats, drunk on the "hope and change" mantra impelled by the possibility of the first black President, questioned his vision. And when President Obama failed to deliver on the hope and change promised, few liberals or centrists ever suggested that it may have been foolish to invest so much faith in a leader simply because his election would be historic.

Facing elimination in the presidential race, Joe Biden assured South Carolina Democratic primary voters in January, 2020 that he would nominate for the US Supreme Court someone remarkably qualified, who has demonstrated dedication to social and economic equality, and young enough to serve for many years to come. Just kidding; Biden promised merely to nominate a black woman, whereupon he surged to an impressive victory in South Carolina and sailed onto the nomination.

In August, 2020 more than 100 black men signed an open letter to the nominee nearly demanding he pick a Black woman as his vice president because "'failing to select a Black woman in 2020 means you will lose the election.'"

This had nothing to do with winning the election, given that vice presidents rarely have such an impact on a presidential race, especially the case in the election which was upcoming. Nonetheless, there was hardly a peep of protest about excluding from consideration individuals unlucky enough to have a chance of being a heartbeat from the presidency because they were born male, white, Latino, or Asian. 

Kamala Harris had in an early presidential debate weaponized race, much to the justified displeasure of Jill Biden, in order to characterize Joe Biden as a racial bigot. Democrats cheered her selection.

For many years and especially in the last fifteen, Democrats have rejected class-based interests in favor of a racial narrative. Borrowing from them, Republicans have learned the value of promoting candidates on the basis of their black skin while the Party has become more ideologically radical. Now they are boosting the senatorial candidacy of a clearly unqualified black man probably suffering from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).  

It's a dirty business, leaning into racial preference, one Republicans have joined, as Elie Mystal has noticed. In Georgia and elsewhere, it looks an awfully lot like racial prejudice.

Sunday, April 17, 2022


Last Wednesday, Presidential press spokesperson Jen Psaki deftly defended President Biden against implied criticism for soaring inflation:

Q    Yeah, the producer price index on inflation came out at the highest level that they’ve had in the history of recording these events.  This is the price that companies are paying for the materials that they need to make the stuff that they sell, right?  So, with the last two days — the inflation reports — does the White House believe that inflation has now peaked and we’re coming back down?  Or because of these reports, do you think we’re going to see even worse numbers in the future?

MS. PSAKI:  We’ll let the Federal Reserve make projections about that; they have the purview over those projections.

What I will say is that while we — and we talked about this over the last couple of days, as it relates to the CPI data — consumer price index — as opposed to producer price index, for others — and what we saw: While energy accounted for 70 percent of the monthly inflation in March on CPI data, it counted for a substantial portion of PPI inflation as well.

And PPI measures things like the cost of wood, metal, plastics — kind of, materials like that.  So it’s not necessarily — it’s not a surprise to us that energy is having an impact — is a driver of these numbers. 

Obviously, what we’re trying to do is mitigate the energy impact and take steps to do exactly that: release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and other actions working to get more supply out into the marketplace. 

But, you know, again, projections of a — of when we’re hitting a high and where it will look, we will leave that to the Federal Reserve.

Q    And one last one.  So, does the President then acknowledge any responsibility for the inflation that we’re seeing now based on the decisions that he’s made when he came into office?

MS. PSAKI:  Well, I would say, as the President has talked about quite a bit, there are a range of factors, including the pandemic, the impact on the supply chains.

And our effort and what we’ve tried to do from the beginning is take steps to address that — address the supply chains.  And we’ve had a lot of success moving more equipment and goods, through — through ports, et cetera. 

We’ve also seen, given energy is such a significant driver of this data, an increase in energy prices over the last month-plus — since the invasion of Ukraine.  That’s factual.  That’s based on data that we have seen out there. 

So, our effort and our focus has been to try to address it and take mitigation measures when we can.

While the media generally ignores rising wages and plummeting unemployment, Psaki needed to remind the press and the public of the impact on supply chains of the pandemic and the effect of Russia's invasion of Ukraine upon gasoline prices. She did, however, leave out one thing.

The flexibility of the public, also known as a tolerance for getting ripped off, seems to be working for companies. Megan Leonhardt notes

Consumers, however, are somewhat tolerant of price increases during emergencies, research shows. Less than half of U.S. consumers, for example, thought the price increase in hand sanitizer at the beginning of the pandemic was unfair, according to a recent working paper by Columbia researchers. “Consumer norms about fairness seem pretty flexible. So what people think is fair can be highly context dependent,” Christopher Buccafusco, coauthor and professor at the Cardozo School of Law, tells Fortune.

Corporations know how to exploit that. Economist Michael Meeropol explains

Companies always want to maximize profits, right? In the current context, they suddenly cannot deliver as much anymore as they used to. And this creates an opening where they can say, well, we are facing increasing costs. We are facing all these issues. So we can explain to our customers that we are raising our prices. No one knows how much exactly these prices should be increased. And everybody has some sort of an understanding that, oh, yeah, there are issues, so, yes, of course companies are increasing prices in ways in which they could not justify in normal times.

But this does not mean that the actual amount of price increase is justified by the increase in costs. And as a matter of fact, what we have seen is that profits are skyrocketing, which means that companies have increased prices by more than cost. In the earnings reports, companies have bragged about how they have managed to be ahead of the inflation curve, how they have managed to jack up prices more than their costs and as a result have delivered these record profits.

So Jen Psaki neglected to attribute any portion of inflation to profiteering, nor did she mention the creeping influence of monopolistic business models. But she did push back on the persistent narrative that the President is responsible for surging price increases.  Assuming she soon leaves her position as expected, the Administration is likely to suffer a significant loss.


Friday, April 15, 2022

Pliable Constitution

Oh, what the heck, it's only the Constitution:

Every natural person has the right to be let alone and free from governmental intrusion into the person’s private life except as otherwise provided herein. This section shall not be construed to limit the public’s right of access to public records and meetings as provided by law.

So reads Article 1, Section 12 of the Florida Constitution, a mere inconvenience- at most- to Republican governor Ron DeSantis, who

has publicly signed into law a 15-week abortion ban that shortens by more than two months the current window available to legally terminate a pregnancy.

Within minutes of his office announcing that he had received the bill (HB 5), approved by the Legislature in March, DeSantis held a bill signing ceremony and rally at an evangelical church in Kissimmee.

The new law, which goes into effect July 1, significantly reduces access to late-term abortions in the southeast — North Carolina will become the only southern state to permit an abortion after 15 weeks.

Republican lawmakers in both the House and Senate had defeated amendments that would have made exceptions for rape, incest, human trafficking and mental health. The only exceptions allowed are cases where the mother is at risk of death, "irreversible physical impairment" or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality.....

At a normal time, establishment of a political party as pro-rape and incest would be counter-productive, perhaps even politically fatal.  Pro-human trafficking also would be unhelpful, though this is, after all, the party of Matt Gaetz.

But these aren't normal times. If they were, it would matter that the bill signed by the man aiming to replace President Biden plainly violates a state constitution guaranteeing "the right to be let alone and free from governmental intrusion into the person's private life...." The clause also explicitly note the exception, "the public's right of access to public records and meetings as provided by law," and does not include "abortion" or "childbirth."

What is left out of a law or constitutional provision may be critically important. The state's "Constitutional Right to Privacy" makes no mention of abortion or childbirth. While that may or may not have been intentional, surely it was intentional that

If a physician violates provisions of the abortion ban, they would be guilty of a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. 

The physician is solicited to take a human life, as the forced-birth legislators and governor (allegedly) see it. He or she would face the possibility of serious prison time. The woman, who decided to approach the doctor and offer him or her considerable money to (allegedly) kill, is held blameless. Punishment of a perpetrator while allowing a mastermind to go scot-free occurs nowhere else in society.

Neither should be prosecuted for what in a normal universe would be a woman's choice. But as in all anti-reproductive choice legislation in the USA, the doctor alone is targeted. If both parties were prosecuted, the cruelty already present in the forced-birth movement would be present and clear.  Political repercussions would ensue as the dirty little secret no longer would be secret.

The cowardice is not unique to Florida lawmakers, but instead a prime characteristic of the anti-choice movement. Nor is the violation of Roe v. Wade, which may be overturned when the US Supreme Court considers Mississippi's radical anti-abortion rights law. Rather, it is that the man who would be President, Ron DeSantis, has spit on his own state's constitution. And he probably will be held far less accountable than he would hold a physician who provides health care requested by a patient.


HAPPY PASSOVER                                                                 HAPPY EASTER

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Less Known Than Unknown

No answers here; only questions. The Detroit Free Pressreports

Grand Rapids police released video footage Wednesday of the fatal shooting of Patrick Lyoya, a Black man, by an officer. The video includes footage from the officer's body camera, which was deactivated shortly after the officer told the suspect to "let go of the Taser."

Lyoya was shot in the head, police Chief Eric Winstrom confirmed.

The video, a collection of dashcam footage, body cam footage, a home security camera, and a cellphone video, depicts an unnamed police officer pulling over Lyoya and a passenger for a "license plate that doesn't match the car."

Lyoya gets out of the car, so the officer gets out and tells him to get back in the car. The officer asks for his driver's license and then proceeds to ask if Lyoya speaks English due to a possible language barrier.

Police officers have a thing about this. When a cop pulls a driver over, they want him to remain in the car. If he gets out, they yell for him to get back into the car, as this officer did. Lyoya did not do so and it's not unreasonable to ask why. Nonetheless, the most obvious question pertains as to why the victim's license plate did not match his car, which may have something trivial, or not. And further: did a language barrier play any role?

In an instance in which "run around" does a lot of work

Lyoya then appears to run around the car, and the officer chases and tackles him to the ground on the front lawn of a house.

They struggle, and the officer can be heard telling Lyoya to "stop" and to "let go of the Taser."

Police officers are trained not to draw their gun unless they would be willing, if circumstances worsen, to fire it.  In this case, the officer did not maintain control of one of his weapons, a laser. Allowing a suspect the opportunity to wrest control of any weapon seems rather counter-productive. Thereafter

After about 90 seconds, the officer is lying on top of Lyoya, who is face down on the ground, still yelling for him to "let go of the Taser," and proceeds to shoot him.

This raises an interesting issue which the public will be discouraged from considering.. The victim was resisting and the officer appears to have had no choice but to shoot Lyoya in order to subdue him. Yet, whether he had an alternative to a kill shot is an open question.  Police officers rarely shoot to injure, a procedure or policy rarely explored by media.

Nonetheless, race will shape the perception of the left and much of the center while knee-jerk support of police will shape the perception of the right and other centrists. And we'll learn nothing more relevant about criminal justice, race and policing than we have during the last two years.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022


Two weeks ago, the Huffington Post noted that Supreme Court Justice Clarence

Thomas is currently under fire for failing to recuse himself from cases related to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection after text messages from his wife, Virginia (Ginni) Thomas, to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows revealed her active participation in the effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Initially, Meadows voluntarily disclosed the messages to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Later, on Dec. 7, 2021, he stopped cooperating with the committee and claimed executive privilege to prevent further disclosures.....

The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 against assertions of executive privilege by ex-President Donald Trump and his ex-aides, including Meadows. Thomas cast the lone vote of dissent in the case. Now, it’s clear that the disclosures in question could have provided more evidence of his wife’s involvement in the plot to overthrow the results of the 2020 election.

This obvious conflict of interest apparently violates Section 455 (b)(5) of Title 28 of the U.S. Code, which is probably moot, because the Supreme Court is a law unto itself. Yet however corrupt Thomas may be, refusal to recuse himself was not inevitable given that

Since 1993, Thomas has recused himself at least 19 times from 18 different cases for either being named in the petition, having previously heard the case as an appeals court judge, or because his former employer was named as a party.

In 1995, Thomas recused himself at multiple stages during the Virginia v. U.S. case challenging Virginia Military Institute’s male-only admission policy. Thomas’ son attended the institute at the time.

Thomas also recused himself from six cases involving the bank Wachovia from 2004-2007 because his son worked at Wachovia Securities.

“The Wachovia cases, those are the real interesting ones,” said Gabe Roth, executive director of Fix The Court, “because he is recusing due to an interest of a family member. That’s textbook Supreme Court recusal.”

Of course, as Anita Hill and Angela Wright learned, Clarence Thomas is a skilled liar who will do whatever he chooses to do. That's why it was surprising when on the third day of questioning of Kentanji Brown Jackson

In response to a question from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Jackson said she would recuse herself from an upcoming challenge to Harvard University’s race-conscious admissions policy. Jackson, who attended Harvard as both an undergraduate and a law student, is a member of Harvard’s board of overseers. Her term on the board expires this spring.

“That is my plan, senator,” Jackson said when asked by Cruz if she would recuse from the case.

Every nominee for the Supreme Court has learned the lesson of Judge Robert Bork, who didn't know enough to hide his extreme right-wing views from his inquisitors on the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Consequently, Judge Jackson wisely dodged many questions, deftly avoiding alienating any Senator who was not already determined to vote against her. 

Admittedly, she did say recusal is "my plan" rather than "I will recuse myself." Nevertheless, that was a relatively definitive reply, one more so than anyone- including Cruz- could have expected, and more than could have been demanded. 

This may have been a wise response to ensure her confirmation. But it was at best only of marginal assistance. The proper reply would have been "I plan to follow the lead of my esteemed colleagues." That would have thrown Republicans on the defense. Six Justices including Thomas are Republican and conservative and Jackson's critics on the committee would have been extremely hard-pressed to attack her while she was defending her future colleagues. Additionally, they are "esteemed."

This answer would have allowed the Judge maximum flexibility on the Court.. It also would have added a little fuel to the arguments of Democrats who have suggested that Justice Thomas recuse himself from matters involving his wife.  However, that would have at least slightly helped the members of Ketanji Brown Jackson's party and possibly exposed Republicans to charges of hypocrisy. Democrats simply don't do that sort of thing.

Full disclosure: I don't agree with Harvard University's admissions policy.  Still, I know a cave when I see one, and this brings to mind a comment made by Wright about the Hill-Thomas hearings of 1989. In a sentiment since commonly expressed by the left in only slightly different terms, she noted "to me, having worked on both sides of the aisle — Republican and Democratic — what I know for sure, Republicans are like bare-fisted street brawlers, Democrats do pillow fights.”


The Lie Laughed At Around the World

I suppose if a guy would in the Oval Office advocate the execution of "a staffer who leaked a story ," it's not surprising th...