Knowing that they are losing America’s support in the policy marketplace of ideas, Republicans are working feverishly post-election to attack the right to vote. We begin today’s roundup on this issue with analysis from Eugene Robinson at The Washington Post:
The Republican Party’s biggest problem is that too many people of color are exercising their right to vote. The party’s solution is a massive push for voter suppression that would make old-time Jim Crow segregationists proud.
The Conservative Political Action Conference circus last week in Orlando showed how bankrupt the GOP is — at least when it comes to ideas, principles and integrity. Some might argue that the party, in buying into the lie that last year’s election was somehow stolen, is simply delusional. I disagree. I think Republican leaders know exactly what they’re doing.
The GOP may have lost the White House and the Senate, but it remains strong in most state capitols. So far this year, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, Republicans in 33 states “have introduced, prefiled, or carried over 165 bills to restrict voting access.” The thrust of virtually all these measures is to make it more difficult for African Americans and other minorities to vote.
The reason MAGA-loving Republicans lie so obviously and remorselessly is really pretty simple: It works.
The two most brazen falsehoods they keep repeating to justify the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection—“the election was stolen” and “antifa did it”—are in fact widely believed by Republican Donald Trump voters, over 70% of whom ardently believe the first claim, and some 58% of whom lap up the latter lie as well.
And as far as they’re concerned, that’s all that matters: They have a narrative for Trump supporters to tell themselves and each other. Because that’s really the only audience for their lies that matters to them. Who cares if the rest of the world knows it’s all bullshit? In their alternative universe, the only thing of consequence is undying support for Trump.
It appears that the Former Guy and his current wife got the COVID hoax vaccine shot in January in secret, even as he was publicly downplaying the threat of the virus for the 12th straight month.
Ari Melber pointed out an interesting little twist that many may have overlooked. While others in leadership roles acted like real leaders - Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and Mike Pence - Donald Trump chose to hide. He chose to be a coward. He chose to only focus on HIMSELF. He intentionally kept his vaccination secret. Was he afraid of looking weak? Was he terrified that his base would turn on him if he gave the Hoax legitimatcy? Who knows."MAGA fans also erected a golden idol to their ex-president, who's back in the news as word came for the first time today about how Donald Trump got vaccinated. Turns out the president was quick to get one of the earliest possible vaccines, in January, which is what the experts advised for top government officials. But nobody actually knew at the time because he did so, oddly, in secret. so while the new President and the new Vice President as well as Donald Trump's own Vice President all stepped up to their vaccinations as a chance to lead in public on a critical public health priority to show everyone it's safe, to encourage others to get vaccinated,
Well, now we know officially Donald Trump was M.I.A., taking the vaccine, but only for his own safety and blowing a chance to lead on public education."
Infidel753: On arguing.
Just an Earth-Bound Misfit, I: What Ted Cruz and other criminals have in common.
Religion Dispatches: No, Rush Limbaugh did not hijack your parents' Christianity.
Balkinization: Defending quadricameralism.
The Incidental Economist: Variolation, inoculation, and vaccination – a history, part I (video).
This installment by Batocchio. E-mail tips to mbru AT crooksandliars DOT com.
In The Washington Post, Carlos Lozada reviews "Lucky: How Joe Biden Barely Won The Presidency.
I haven't read the book myself, but I hate this framing. Of course, Beltway insider journalists, while they might skew liberal, appear to loathe actually existing Democrats, with occasional temporary exceptions (Barack Obama in 2008, Pete Buttigieg in 2020).
Allen and Parnes come to this project ready to take Biden down several pegs.
Four years ago, Allen and Parnes co-authored the best-selling “Shattered,” an examination of Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 campaign, in which they placed the blame largely on the ineptitude of the losing side. In this sequel, they are only slightly more generous with the Democratic nominee.
They tell us:
Joe Biden won, of course, but mainly because he “caught every imaginable break.” He was the “process-of-elimination candidate,” emerging from a crowded set of more exciting Democratic contenders. He was “lousy in debates and lackluster on the trail,” prevailing despite “a bland message and a blank agenda.” Biden, they argue, got lucky.
Seeing Steve’s pictures of Mendocino reminded me of the 4th of July, 2019 parade we watched there. It was a great old fashioned small town parade with floats, fire trucks, and just about every civic group represented.
The post On The Road – Scott – Mendocino Fourth of July Parade appeared first on Balloon Juice.
Over at the New Republic, Clio Chang tells the story of Richard Ault, a Silicon Valley technologist who fell on hard times and ended up in debt to the tune of $60,000:
“It’s ridiculous to me to think that $1,000 to every family in this country is going to save the country,” Ault said of the government’s sporadic relief checks, especially living in a city with such a high cost of living. “It’s rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.”
Ault is one of millions in the United States facing a similar crisis. Household debt, which has been on the rise for the last decade, reached an astronomical $14.56 trillion at the end of last year. As rent and mortgage debt piles up, nearly a third of people in the country are at risk of eviction or foreclosure. While credit card debt, which is now at $820 billion, fell overall, in part due to a decline in spending, some 51 million people still saw it increase during the pandemic. Student loan debt, the second-biggest type of household debt after mortgages, continues to skyrocket, reaching nearly $1.6 trillion.
This is an example of a writer who's just not willing to give up a standard narrative regardless of the facts. First off, here are blue-collar hourly earnings:
Hourly wages for blue-collar workers have been steadily rising since 2014 and spiked upward at the start of the pandemic recession. Even now, after wages lost a bit of their gain, they are still well above the trendline of the past few years.
Here is household debt:
Monthly debt service, which has been at its lowest recorded level for the past eight years, plunged yet again at the beginning of the pandemic recession. It is now well below anything seen since the Reagan era.
Here is the personal saving rate:
This is higher than anything we've seen since the Reagan era. Those "sporadic relief checks" have not only kept spending from falling off a cliff, they've also kept savings high. And this chart goes only through the third quarter of 2020, so it doesn't account for either the December stimulus bill or the current bill working its way through Congress.
Finally, here's the personal bankruptcy rate:
This is post-bankruptcy reform, so the comparison is apples to apples. Bankruptcies fell steadily during the Obama recovery, flattened out around 2016, and then spiked downward after the first stimulus bill passed in March of last year.
In summary: Nearly a year into the pandemic, American households have higher incomes, less debt, more savings, and are filing fewer bankruptcies than they have in decades.
I get that data doesn't tell you everything. Averages can hide a lot of variation, and there are always people in trouble even during the best of times. That said, the data doesn't even remotely back up the economic horror story that liberals seem to be addicted to. If anything, American workers are, in general, better off now than they have been in quite a while—and they'll be better off still after the American Rescue Plan is passed. So let's quit jawing and get it passed.
James Buchanan wants you to know that he believes Abraham Lincoln has just had the most disastrous first month of any American President.
— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) February 28, 2021
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) March 1, 2021
MSNBC and CNN aren't playing the former president's speech.
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) February 28, 2021
Trump's decades as a real-estate salesman in New York trained him to try out sales pitches and refine them over time.
So here's how his patter about the attempted insurrection is shaping up. https://t.co/XFu3VGmJlY
— Philip Bump (@pbump) March 1, 2021
That's Ted Cruz holding the mirror. That's what he does now. https://t.co/OY2aOsy5uO
— pourmecoffee (@pourmecoffee) February 28, 2021
Charles P. Pierce, at Esquire:
He was very old and in the way, until he got to the hit list. The hit list energized him. It turned on all his lights. It was the pure, uncut evil juju that had been missing from his life for months and, generous demon from the depths of hell that he is, he shared it with all the minions gathered at CPAC in Florida, and it made all their lights shine…
… He wouldn’t know most of the people he mentioned if they sat in what used to be his lap. But he knows they voted to impeach him for his role in the insurrection, so they get to hire bodyguards and food-tasters. He doesn’t care if one or several of these members of Congress get visited at home by elements of his Fifth Armored Deer Camp Drunk Division.
Get rid of them all.
He’s not talking entirely about elections and, in any case, he doesn’t speak in metaphors.
and, one might note, lost handily https://t.co/ZC1yCxfTEH
— Gerry Doyle (@mgerrydoyle) March 1, 2021
Yeah, the slushing is noticeable. https://t.co/c1c4xxWphF
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) February 28, 2021
Trump lost the election FYI. Side note this speech is boring. We can’t win the presidency with this boring, low energy, stream of conscience, weak, has been, choke artist. Just my .02
— Adam Kinzinger (@AdamKinzinger) February 28, 2021
Trump is the leftover fish dinner someone keeps reheating in the GOP office microwave.
— Richard5832 (@richard5832) March 1, 2021
Took just 13 minutes into his speech to repeat his "big lie" that he had really won.
Then suggested he would run again in 2024. "I may decide to beat them for a third time.”
— S.V. Dáte (@svdate) February 28, 2021
As I told you, the Republicans have become the late 70s Soviet communist party, and this long and boring ramble about the regime’s many fake achievements is on brand
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) February 28, 2021
translation: Comrades, it is our duty to stop these saboteurs and wreckers! As the great Lenin warned us, the next elections will be stolen.
— anita wahine (@Anita_Wahine) February 28, 2021
Media: @Acosta to @PamelaBrownCNN: "This @CPAC with #DonaldTrump closing it out is a liar-palooza. #Trump has opened up a firehose of falsehoods on the crowd, and this crowd is bathing in his dishonesty. The biggest lie he's telling is the Big Lie that he won the election." pic.twitter.com/86e2QY6TT4
— Porter Anderson (@Porter_Anderson) February 28, 2021
At the NYTimes: Starbursts!
For the first hour of Trump’s speech, nervous Republicans were relieved (and a little bored)
Then came the false claims of the election being stolen and roll call of his hit list
The Civil War is uncanceled
— Jonathan Martin (@jmartNYT) March 1, 2021
Nick Anderson via GoComics.com)
Trump: "I am not starting a new party."
McConnell: "Well, fuck."
— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) February 28, 2021
CPAC and Trump: ensuring the Democrats will control the government for a generation.
— Anthony Scaramucci (@Scaramucci) February 28, 2021
Trump now saying that "they used COVID as a way of cheating."
He is without doubt setting up the next election for violence.
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) February 28, 2021
the fencing in DC upsets you?
this speech is why it's still up.
— ᑕᕼᑌᑎK (@chunkled) February 28, 2021
"We have to have victory."
Republicans lost the House, the White House, AND the Senate in Trump's first term. Has not happened since Herbert Hoover.
— S.V. Dáte (@svdate) February 28, 2021
— Schooley (@Rschooley) February 27, 2021
Here's the latest in woke outrage, Netherlands edition:
The acclaimed author Marieke Lucas Rijneveld has pulled out of translating Amanda Gorman’s poetry ["The Hill We Climb, read at Joe Biden's inauguration] into Dutch, after their publisher was criticised for picking a writer for the role who was not also Black.
....Journalist and activist Janice Deul led critics with a piece in Volkskrant asking why Meulenhoff had not chosen a translator who was, like Gorman, a “spoken-word artist, young, female and unapologetically Black”.
“An incomprehensible choice, in my view and that of many others who expressed their pain, frustration, anger and disappointment via social media,” wrote Deul. “Isn’t it — to say the least — a missed opportunity to [have hired] Marieke Lucas Rijneveld for this job? They are white, nonbinary, have no experience in this field, but according to Meulenhoff are still the ‘dream translator’?”
Meulenhoff said it was Rijneveld’s decision to resign, and that Gorman, who is 22, had selected the 29-year-old herself, as a fellow young writer who had also come to fame early.
Come on, folks. Enough's enough. Are we now to believe that Gorman herself should not be allowed the agency to choose a translator of her choice for her own poetry?
I’ve worked across the globe where I saw up close the threats posed by radicalism and disinformation. I’m running because Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene is trying to do the same thing here. Join me on my next mission. #SendCongressFlowers #GA14 https://t.co/2mMa2CCho1
— Marcus Flowers (@Marcus4Georgia) March 2, 2021
And also this one:
It’s official! I’m running for Congress against Marjorie Taylor Greene. It’s time to cut through the noise and get back to work. pic.twitter.com/R2ugwxD5tZ
— Holly McCormack (@Holly_4Congress) February 24, 2021
Two very different approaches, both valid. I’m always going to lean a little toward the veterans…
Been a busy day hoping to wrap up work here in the next half hour or so and hopefully still have the energy to do 30-minutes on the spin cycle.
How is your evening wrapping up?
(I may have a little pleasant respite surprise for you in the next few days…stay tuned…)
Jim Gaffigan looks back on the past year of living with the pandemic and some of the things he has learned.
I've learned a few things in the past year. pic.twitter.com/RPa6dN8AJ1
— Jim Gaffigan (@JimGaffigan) February 28, 2021
Open thread below...
Anxious to engage in Both Sides whitewashing of journalism failures from the Trump era, some prominent journalists are lashing out at liberals for having the nerve to criticize news coverage of the Biden White House. Leading the defensive charge is New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who penned a condescending harangue over the weekend, claiming liberals are hypocrites for finding fault with the press when a Democrat is in the Oval Office.
Embracing a straw man argument that Democrats "lionized" the media during the Trump years because they detested him so much, Dowd insists the left is guilty of hypocrisy because they can't take it when the media's critical lens focuses on Democrats. "The truth is, many on the left don’t understand what a reporter is," Dowd lectured Times readers, most of whom know exactly what a reporter is.
Holy Mother of God, what foolishness is this?
As reported by Ed Kilgore, writing for New York Magazine:
In a ruling reminiscent of medieval speculation over the number of angels that could dance on the head of a pin, the Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans has issued a split decision on the religious acceptability of major COVID-19 vaccines. It has deemed the Pfizer and Moderna versions okay but called the new Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccine “morally compromised” because it was derived from cloned stem cells distantly related to tissue from fetuses aborted back in the 1970s.
When Kamala Harris joined the Democratic ticket alongside Joe Biden, she brought with her unparalleled experience in law enforcement and a host of other domestic issues as the former attorney general and sitting senator of the most populous state in the nation. In many ways, she was an ideal counterpart to Biden, who had honed his foreign policy expertise through decades on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and trips to more than 50 countries as vice president in the Obama administration.
But according to Politico, both President Biden and Vice President Harris are now placing special emphasis on beefing up Harris' foreign policy credentials with an eye on the possibility that she could become the future standard-bearer of the Democratic Party.
The young woman who attempted to sing the national anthem at CPAC inspired quite a few musicians to attempt to understand and interpret her obviously highly advanced music knowledge. Here are a few of the best (in addition to the Larry Goldings video posted last night):
Former Utah congressman Jason Chaffetz attacked the New York Times and what he considers to be "Big Media" because they don't attack like the NY Post and are failing to hold Governor Cuomo accountable for the recent scandals.
"They've been very tepid in doing this. Only the New York Post (Remember Hunter's laptop lies from the NY Post?) and a handful of others actually cover this with the seriousness that it takes. The New York Times and other big media outlets have been far behind," Chaffetz grumbled.
"But The Times broke the most recent story about the victim Charlotte Bennett," co-host Gillian Turner interjected quickly. "The second woman, they broke that story. You wouldn't even be talking about if wasn't for the New York Times.
This left Chaffetz stumbling and bumbling like a fool.
He was so rattled that after he finally regained some of his composure Chaffetz said that after two complaints from women, there are probably more.
Donald Trump had almost 2 dozen sexual harassment and sexual assault complaints filed against him, including a taped confession of his proclivities that at first led Chaffetz to un-endorse Trump.
But then as usual he flip-flopped.
"Sometimes a book is so eager to take readers behind the scenes that it neglects to spend enough time on the scenes themselves" https://t.co/ZIRQeHNXqT
— Scott Lemieux (@LemieuxLGM) February 28, 2021
Louis Pasteur, as per the quip in the title, knew a thing or two about succeeding against the odds. Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes are media mudlarks; they make a living rooting through the sewage outflow of politics, looking for nuggets they can resell. Hey, it’s a living!
Lemieux quotes at length from Washington Post book critic Carlos Lozada’s review, “Joe Biden won the presidency by making the most of his lucky breaks”:
… Four years ago, Allen and Parnes co-authored the best-selling “Shattered,” an examination of Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 campaign, in which they placed the blame largely on the ineptitude of the losing side. In this sequel, they are only slightly more generous with the Democratic nominee. Joe Biden won, of course, but mainly because he “caught every imaginable break.” He was the “process-of-elimination candidate,” emerging from a crowded set of more exciting Democratic contenders. He was “lousy in debates and lackluster on the trail,” prevailing despite “a bland message and a blank agenda.” Biden, they argue, got lucky.
The fiasco of the Iowa caucuses, where the app designed to report the results failed miserably, temporarily obscured Biden’s fourth-place showing. “This was a gift,” a campaign aide later explained. Luck returned when rival Democrats such as Pete Buttigieg (who ended up winning Iowa) and Mike Bloomberg (who won American Samoa) suffered debate night takedowns by Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren — and when Biden survived his own hit from Kamala Harris over his past positions on school busing and desegregation. (That almost cost Harris the subsequent veep nod, Allen and Parnes report.) Fortune smiled again when the entire Democratic Party establishment rushed to Biden’s side after his victory in the South Carolina primary, even if it was less about devotion to him than panic that Bernie Sanders might secure the nomination. “On Super Tuesday, you got very lucky,” President Donald Trump told Biden at their first debate. The Democrat did not disagree…
A simplistic focus on identity is evident throughout the Democratic field, with new aides often hired to make staffs look young and more diverse — only to complicate things by, you know, having ideas of their own that diverged from those of entrenched advisers. Allen and Parnes portray a Biden campaign split along “deep fault lines mostly based on generation, race, ideology, and time in Bidenworld.” Biden was in the middle of it, in every sense, hewing to centrist positions on health care, racial justice and law enforcement, no matter the pressures from his campaign team and his party. He may not have been “Sleepy Joe,” but he remained “Unwoke Joe,” Allen and Parnes quip. “That was the ugly truth many Democrats had to face in the aftermath of the 2020 election: To beat Trump, they had to swallow their progressive values and push forward an old white man who simply promised to restore calm.”
That “simply” is a little deceptive. The 2020 race transpired against the backdrop of a deadly pandemic, widespread racial-justice protests and threats to American democracy emanating from the presidency itself. In “Lucky,” such context matters largely to the extent that it affects the candidates’ rhetoric and fundraising. (George Floyd’s death, for instance, required some “nimble positioning” by Biden, Allen and Parnes write, trying to keep both moderate White voters and party activists happy.) As a result, the moments of high drama in “Lucky” can feel small-bore. Should Biden leave New Hampshire and head to South Carolina before the Granite State’s full primary results are announced, thus potentially alienating supporters there for the general election? (Spoiler: He did leave early. It was fine.) And how do longtime Biden campaign staffers react when the interloping new campaign boss, Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, receives a glowing write-up in The Washington Post’s opinion section, complete with a portrait-type photo? “The profile landed like the mother of all bombs in the civil war between the Obama veterans and Biden’s primary crew,” Allen and Parnes overwrite…
“Lucky” provides useful detail to understand Biden’s victory, even if the framing is not particularly novel. What candidate has not experienced some luck or misfortune during a long presidential bid? One time it might be a major health crisis, another time, a self-righteous FBI director. Stuff happens, and the best candidates figure out how to react. “Knowing who he was, and where he wanted to be politically, allowed Biden’s campaign to capitalize when luck ran his way,” Allen and Parnes write in their final pages.
In other words, Biden was more than lucky. And for political reporters as for political candidates, spending too much time on optics is just not a good look.
Basically, the strategy of 99% of all of these horse race access books is to emphasize structural and contingent factors when they help a candidate, and to ignore or downplay them when they don’t, which allows you to create any narrative you want https://t.co/mfG1dWc4Os
— Scott Lemieux (@LemieuxLGM) February 28, 2021
I plead guilty to thinking that Biden wouldn't win the nomination, and nor would I have voted for him, but when a candidate goes 46-11 at some point you have to consider that maybe what makes an effective campaign and what access journalists consider exciting are not the same
— Scott Lemieux (@LemieuxLGM) February 28, 2021
Acid test of the Allen/Parnas theory, in what passes for the real world:
It was an throughline of campaign messaging — Biden just didn’t rile up conservatives and so he was painted as a Trojan horse for figures who did. Now it has carried into his presidency, both at political rallies and in his opposition’s messaging in Congress.
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) February 28, 2021
The post <em>They Have A Book to Sell</em> Open Thread: “Luck Favors Only the Prepared Mind” appeared first on Balloon Juice.
Last week, amidst the raving and the lies and the misinformation of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) “America Uncanceled” money pit, some people pointed out that the stage design for the event had a very particular shape. In fact, many people thought that the shape of the stage was more than reminiscent of the Nazi Odal rune—also known as the Othala rune. The use of the runic alphabet system’s symbology was a part of the Nazi mythologizing in the 20th century about its Aryan history. Taken to mean property or ancestral property, you can see why a bunch of Nazis fetishizing blood lines and purity would take to such symbology. You would also consider the relationship between the conservative movement and white supremacists a context that might make its appearance at a big conservative event distressing.
CPAC organizers very quickly dismissed this design similarity as “outrageous and slanderous.” Hyatt Hotels, the chain housing this big collection of lies, said they had nothing to do with the design and denounced symbols like the Odal rune as “abhorrent.” CPAC chair Matt Schlapp tweeted that “Stage design conspiracies are outrageous and slanderous. We have a long standing commitment to the Jewish community. Cancel culture extremists must address antisemitism within their own ranks. CPAC proudly stands with our Jewish allies, including those speaking from this stage.” Of course, when you are the political party that houses Rep. Marjorie Greene and wildly anti-Semitic conspiracy theories connecting Jewish world domination to child sex trafficking and Muslim caliphates and the Democratic Party, forgive me if I stare at you with a jaundiced eye.
In just two weeks, the $300 weekly unemployment insurance (UI) boost from the federal government to unemployed workers could end. At the same time, two additional emergency pandemic unemployment programs could start to wind down, expiring over the next month for about 7.3 million people. That is, if the Senate doesn't quickly pass the American Rescue Plan approved by the House last week.
Everyone, including Republicans, knew that there was no way people would be back to work by mid-March—but here we are. That deadline was set by Republicans who controlled the Senate, because they refused to spend the kind of money that's necessary for the economy to recover after this pandemic and because they love to create cliffs—artificial deadlines that make governing more complicated and difficult. That happened while millions haven't received assistance they qualify for at all, the nonpartisan Century Foundation estimates. Because of aggressive blocking of benefits to prevent "fraud," because of incompetence, and because of states being either too overwhelmed or using outdated, failing systems, there is far too much pain for far too many a full year into this pandemic.
Black History Month brings out the worst in these teachers and schools work overtime to protect them
The Root writer Zack Linly asked nearly two weeks ago: "When will white people stop being too fragile for Black history?" At the time, he was writing a post on Feb. 17 about a Florida teacher telling students the N-word isn't racist and that slaves weren’t whipped. The reassuring words from school officials at the teacher’s school, Island Coast High, were: “Thank you for the information we are aware and it is currently under investigation.”
More than two weeks later, inquiring minds still want to know the answer to Linly’s question because Black History Month celebrations, inquiries, and in some cases simple mentions of the annual observance seemed to have driven ill-informed educators into a truth-rejecting state of rage (or oblivion, depending on the personality). Case in point (and really there are several): a slavery yoga lesson at the McIlvaine Early Childhood Center in Delaware.