Tag Archives: covid-19

Mostly depressing stuff about global warming, plus other science links

“At its worst, net zero by 2050 is a device for shunting responsibility across both time and space. Those in power today seek to pass their liabilities to those in power tomorrow. Every industry seeks to pass the buck to another industry. ” — a Guardian columnist on how our current goals for fighting global warming fall short.

As the world heats up, air conditioning becomes more vital, but it also makes the problems worse. What are the alternatives?

Air-travel contributes to global warming too. Here are the big problems they need to solve.

Global warming and other factors have put the Komodo dragon on the endangered list. There are dangers for vanilla and avocado crops, too.

The world’s largest carbon-capture machine has gone live.

Floating wind turbines could be a great clean energy source, but there are obstacles to overcome first.

“Black cemeteries are now at a disproportionate risk of being lost, some before they have even been officially found.”

The U.S. Army is looking to a cyborg future and worried movies will bias us against cyborgs.

To tighten its grip on the people, the Russian government is deploying its own internet.

Millionaire Julia Davies is helping acres of British farmland go back to nature.

How a rare New Zealand parrot may have removed harmful mutations from its gene pool.

Environmental activism around the world leads to activists being murdered.

“You do pi because everyone else has been doing pi.” — an article on whether there’s any point to calculating pi out to the trillions of digits.

Dogs are amazing — even as covid detectors. I’m sure Plushie could handle it.

What we’re still learning about the asteroid that ended the dinosaur age.

The technical and ethical challenges to resurrecting the woolly mammoth.

The California condor population has gone from 22 to more than 500.

#SFWApro. Comics cover by Mike Sekowsky, all rights to images remain with current holders.

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Vaclav Havel and the Trump Virus

Reading the news this week puts me in mind again of Vaclav Havel’s essay “The Power of the Powerless” and how modern tyrants claim “the center of power is identical with the center of truth,” — it’s not simply that they’ve seized power, it’s righteous and just that they’re in charge.

I think that explains some of the deranged pushback against getting vaccinated. They talk about “choice” but obviously a lot of them are seething that anyone is making a different choice than they are. Harassing and threatening healthcare workers to prevent vaccinations. Coughing on people in stores. Mocking a kid for discussing his grandmother’s death from covid. Their god king, The Former Guy, said the virus wasn’t a big deal. His toady, Sen. Ted Cruz, said if Biden won, Democrats would immediately end all pandemic precautions. The center of power — remember, a lot of Republicans have chosen to believe that Trump is still president — has spoken. By refusing to conform, we dissent from Republican orthodoxy, and their fragile fee-fees can’t stand dissent, any more than they tolerate criticism. And as Paul Campos says, if they question any one part of the truth, their whole belief system could collapse.

So at the local level, even with school cases rising, they freak out at efforts to change that. A group of anti-maskers drove one San Diego-area school board out of its meeting, then appointed themselves the new board. One father compares the school’s directive to keep his kid in quarantine for a few days with a Gestapo order and brought zip ties to the school to make a citizen’s arrest of the principal (didn’t happen, fortunately). Dude, if this were Nazi Germany you’d face a shit-ton worse for challenging the authorities.

QAnon cultists are pressuring hospitals give Trump Virus patients ivermectin (feed stores are now selling out of it) instead of valid medical treatments. And we have predators like “Typhoid Ron” DeSantis ignoring Florida’s rising number of cases and trying to hide the numbers. Idaho gubernatorial candidate Janice McGeachin claiming vaccines are lethal. Or Rand Paul who wants Dr. Fauci in jail. Dave Daubenmire insists he hasn’t caught Covid, he’s been sickened by electrical energy from vaccinated people. Joe Rogan, who came down with Covid after performing stand-up shows in Florida, but still won’t piss off his audience by accepting science. Given his past claims that vaccine passports lead to dictatorship, we can assume his audience doesn’t want to hear “I was wrong, everyone should get vaccinated.”

We’ve had 800,000 excess deaths since February but the Republican stance remains the same, as Rebecca Solnit says: “some have the right to determine the truth more than others, and facts, science, history are likewise fetters to be shaken loose in pursuit of exactly your very own favorite version of reality, which you enforce through dominance, including outright violence.”

It doesn’t help, as LGM says, that a lot of media still won’t say outright that the real, if not the only issue, is the antivaxxers. If we’re stuck figuring out the endgame, it’s because too many people won’t get vaccinated. That’s what leads to the surge in cases (including among the vaccinated) which is why military doctors are having to help out. Eric Boehlert suggests after years of Trump safaris — talking to white, working-class Republicans about why those simple, plain-spoken Americans supported The Former Guy — reporters are having trouble seeing them as politically paranoid, anti-rational extremists (none of which ever came out during those safaris).

So the end result is we’re starting to debate whether it’s justifiable for hospitals to turn away the unvaxxed when space is tight (I don’t think the often-used comparison to smokers is justified  — smoking is an addiction, staying unvaccinated isn’t. And let’s face it, beds in ICUs are not currently unavailable because of too many smokers in hospital for cancer). And hospitals going short-staffed because of staff refusing vaccine mandates.

I think a harder line is definitely good, such as Biden now mandating vaccination for all federal workers and many employees outside the government. And increasing fines on airplane travelers who don’t wear masks. Unsurprisingly, Republicans who feel perfectly entitled to tell private businesses No Vaccine Requirements are furious that Biden dares tell private businesses what to do (I’ve heard speculation a lot of business owners will be thrilled — now they have an excuse to push vaccinations).

That said, Medscape concludes the way to change vaccine-hesitant minds is less confrontation, more persuasion — even allowing them to do it discreetly so their anti-vax peers won’t know (which is insane, but if it gets results, hey).

We should have been largely back to pre-pandemic normal by now. It does not bode well for this country that we aren’t getting close.

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The center cannot hold … and the rest of it ain’t looking so good

“The point is, if you wanted to stop evictions, you could do it, with legally appropriated money. In theory.” But in practice, even with lots of money available and a simple method of distribution — show up at eviction hearings, pay the debt — we can’t make it happen.

The same is true, Ezra Klein says about the humanitarian case for war: if we want to improve the lives of women, or medical care or anything else in the developing world, we have the money, the resources and the skills to do “far more good and less harm.” But as LGM says, that doesn’t generate money for military contractors, or satisfy the chickenhawks who glory in fighting a war from their living room.

Part of it is that we have a deranged, anti-American, white-supremacist, male-supremacist party that’s wildly unpopular — it’s won the popular vote once in a presidential election this century — but due to the structure of our government is often able to grind government to the halt. They’ve got right-wing judges into as many courts as possible. They’re coming for city councils and school boards. And election officials. And more city councils. And more school boards. And it’s only going to get worse because there’s enough extremists to oust anyone who doesn’t play ball. And nobody has the spine to step back — they’ll punish Liz Cheney for questioning Trump but they won’t say boo to Madison Cawthorn. Another example of spinelessness is that despite criminalizing abortion in Texas, they’re trying to pretend it’s nothing of the sort.

And it’s clear they’ll impeach a Democratic president for any reason, at any time they think they can get away with it.

We have liars who claim concentration camps for the oppressed, abused unvaccinated are inevitable. Maybe he believes it; maybe he’s catering to the people who do. Either way, it makes things worse. So do scam artist hatemongers like Mat Staver who claims vaccine mandates cause suicide, while encouraging people to give him money to Fight The Man.

Then we have “Typhoid Ron” DeSantis whose policies have made the Trump Virus much worse in Florida than necessary. Those extra deaths, he says “are a terrible thing … what we’re trying to do is say, ‘OK, what was not being done? Where was the gap?’ And the biggest gap was in the early treatment.” Not, of course, his efforts to prevent businesses and school boards from requiring masks or vaccine mandates.

Not that the right-wing public is any better — attacking breast cancer patients over a clinic’s mandatory mask policy, for instance. They pretend their issue is choice, but they’re willing to harass and intimidate medical workers so other people can’t make a choie they disagree with.

The right-wing hatemongers are getting louder. I don’t think Josh Bernstein has much political clout, but calling on the trucking industry to starve Democratic-majority areas until Biden resigns is still alarming rhetoric.

“In late July, anti-vax conspiracy theorist Chris McDonald asked for prayers for his father, who had contracted COVID-19. Two weeks later, he announced that his father had died. Last night, McDonald said COVID-19 vaccines are a plot to commit “genocide” and urged everyone to refuse to take them.” Right-Wing Watch

The media are listening to the national-security “experts” who, Ross Douthat says, “managed to build nothing in the political or military spheres that could survive for even a season without further American cash and military supervision”  — and unsurprisingly hate that Biden pulled us out (his fault, not theirs!). It’s slightly horrifying I agree with not only Douthat but Ann Coulter about this. I’m much less surprised I agree with this LGM post on the topic.

And let’s not forget, the America-Hating Party attempted a coup earlier this year. And they’re still nervous about their own leaders involvement — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is threatening telecoms that turn over member phone records from Jan. 6 to the investigating committee. I do find some amusement that 17 of the seditionists were represented by an anti-vax attorney who’s now come down with covid. Or that Rand Paul is pretending nobody’s studied ivermectin as a covid cure because they hate Trump (here’s a look at how ivermectin became an obsession). And if we criticize them and they get upset, we’re the special snowflakes.

A school board in Wisconsin has refused a free lunch program that’s free to the district too. They’re claiming that making free lunches available will make children spoiled.

Then there’s sports.

Then there’s lawyers.


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The mills of God grind slowly …

But eventually, once in a while, horrible people get thoroughly ground under. So let’s have some schadenfraude, shall we?

Anti-Muslim bigot Laura Loomer sued the Muslim-rights group CAIR for supposedly conspiring to get her off Twitter. A judge threw out her case and charged her $125,000 for CAIR’s legal fees.

The first defendant in the kidnap plot against Mich. Governor Gretchen Whitmer gets six years — a low sentence because he sang like a canary.

An E/R doctor charged parents $50 to write medical-exemption letters to schools with mask mandates. He’s been fired.

Leash the kraken! A Michigan judge has slapped Sidney Powell, Lin Wood and other Stop The Nonexistent Steal attorneys with legal fees, requirements to attend law classes and requests the relevant bar associations discipline them. It’s not the only court giving The Former Guy’s attorneys their comeuppance.

A thirtysomething woman in Pennsylvania spat on a produce display, coughed and yelled that she had the Trump Virus. She’s getting a year in jail.

Republican scam artists Jacob Wuhl and Jack Burkman have been fined $5 million for making illegal robocalls to discourage voting (mail-in ballots will be tracked for mandatory vaccinations!).

Texas now has a website where you can report someone for trying to get an abortion or helping someone get an abortion (both illegal under Texas’ new forced-birther law). People are spamming the site big-time with porn and memes. It doesn’t eliminate the problems of this ugly law, but I’ll celebrate what small blows we can strike.

Lawsuits against vaccine mandates keep failing.

Build The Wall, an effort to crowdsource The Former Guy’s “big beautiful wall,” has been fighting a lawsuit for a year. And guess what, in all that time they haven’t paid their lawyers (I presume their in-house counsel, Trumpite slime Kris Kobach, gets his cut). So now the lawyers want the court to let them walk away, leaving Save The Wall only 30 days to find new attorneys (“Finding a lawyer I don’t think is a big problem. I think finding a lawyer who is willing to risk not getting paid is probably the issue here,” Crane said.)

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Genesis was right, we’re living in a land of confusion (and pandemic)

(Here’s the relevant video from the eighties)

“The pandemic struck at the heart of evangelicals’ ministry model. Though only 10 percent of American Christians attend a megachurch, their worship style and business orientation have become inescapable standards in evangelical Christianity. Pastors of even small churches are expected to grow membership, cultivate a social media following, and provide high-tech entertainment on Sunday mornings … All such activities became difficult or impossible at a time when indoor gatherings were prohibited, and many Americans were staying home, losing jobs, or juggling work and childcare. More to the point, ministries organized around marketing principles simply were not equipped to respond to church members’ sudden fears, economic dislocation, and need for one-on-one, compassionate support.”— a look at why some pastors would sooner hold church services than protect their flock from pandemic.

Right-winger Christopher Key tells Springfield pharmacists if they distribute the vaccine, they’ll be hung for war crimes. The Nuremberg rules he refers to apply to using humans as guinea pigs without their consent, and do not apply to the vaccine.

Ohio Republican Josh Mandel is definitely confused — he claims the Post Office, listed in the Constitution, is unconstitutional.

Lin Wood’s down with the QAnon fantasy of Save The Non-Existent Children. But he’s oblivious to sexual predators on his own side.

Last year, Republicans predicted support for social distancing and lockdown measures would disappear if Biden won (“‘Everything’s magically better. Go back to work. Go back to school. Suddenly the problems are solved.’ ”). They were wrong but the conviction public-health measures are a liberal plot remains.

Some Trump Virus skeptics are asking for the impossible — blood transfusions only from the unvaccinated.

Right-wing Cardinal Raymond Burke opposed vaccines, social distancing and vaccine mandates because God, not the state is “the ultimate provider of health.” Woops, seems he’s got the Trump Virus now … and is trusting to a ventilator, not God.

The ever-confused Maureen Dowd is not only shocked Obama had a fun birthday party, but she wrote a column critiquing the guest list.

Fred Clark discusses the inevitable confusion in defining mainstream Protestants.

“You will not experiment on my children. … you vote yes, you will all be tried for crimes against humanity!”

Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks’ response to the recent bombing attempt in Washington: ” I understand citizenry anger directed at dictatorial Socialism and its threat to liberty, freedom and the very fabric of American society. ” Bet he wouldn’t be saying that if they’d been Black Lives Matter.

Textbooks that present slavery as “black immigration” will certainly confuse a lot of students (intentionally, I’m sure).

Right-wingers stayed strong in support of Trump, sexual harasser Roy Moore and similar slime. They must be confused that their predictions Democrats would support Andrew Cuomo didn’t pan out.

Consevatives are whipping up confusion over critical race theory to take over school boards.

Anti-vaxxers insist it’s a personal choice that doesn’t affect anyone else. They’re wrong, as witness Orlando is calling for reduced water usage because there’s not enough liquid oxygen for water treatment. It’s going to Covid patients. And Alabama has no more ICU beds. Yet we have Republican officials giving parents advice on how to avoid mask mandates because, freedom! Okay, that’s not confused, it’s just evil.

“I have a very low risk of A) Getting COVID and B) dying of it if I do. Why would I risk getting a heart attack or paralysis by getting the vaccine?” Three guesses what happened next.

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Anti-vaxxers biting the tires

The title comes from a poem I read in elementary school or junior high in which the narrator laments his dead dog (wording is not verbatim: “Poor, foolish Job/He wasn’t content to chase the truck/He had to bite the tires/Fools have no luck.”

Which is where a lot of the anti-vaxxers seem to be at: they willfully bit the truck and now they’re paying for it. Texas politician H. Scott Apley, for instance, who declared one health official celebrating effective vaccines was “the enemy of a free people.” Apley is now dead. He once sneered that middle-class families could afford private health insurance if they managed their money well. Apparently he didn’t as his family have a GoFundMe for their own Trump Virus bills and Apley’s funeral.

This isn’t typical of all unvaccinated Americans. Many people still have trouble getting off work, let alone risking a couple of days laid up by a bad reaction. And people like conservative radio host Dick Farrel, who came down with covid, saw the light before his death (he’d previously labeled Fauci a lying freak) and encouraged others to get vaccinated, deserve credit for admitted they were wrong. As opposed to this woman. Or this one (“A healthy body and immune system [do] not need the vaccine.”). Or right-wing hack Glenn Reynolds warning his readers that if you give in and start masking and vaxxing, you’ve been gaslighted by liberal elites.

Quite simply, hundreds, perhaps thousands of Americans will die of the Trump Virus because they chose not to get vaccinated. The ones who can’t yet get vaccinated are tragic; are the refuseniks? I alternate between sympathy and anger. Anger because the vaccine is available, free, effective and safe. Sympathy because a lot of them are being misled by ass-hats like Greg Locke, who claims Tennessee will lock the unvaccinated up in concentration camps. Like whining about how they’re  treated like Jews in Nazi Germany, delusions of imminent internment have been around since long before the pandemic.

We also have Laura Ingraham lying that masks are only effective in a surgical setting. And Matt Staver’s anti-gay turned anti-vax group Liberty Council, which claims the vaccine will connect your brain to the Internet and sterilize you. Staver has been raising money off anti-vaxxers (he’ll fight the oppression! Send him your cash!). He and Ron DeSantis are not the only ones milking anti-vaxxers for gobs of cash. Some of them pretend they’re horrified about the idea of vaccinating kids, ignoring that it’s preferable to the effects of Long Covid. And it’s not just the victims who suffer: Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who’s actively opposed vaccine mandates and mask mandates, is now telling Texans to postpone elective surgeries — and calling in out-of-state medical workers to cope with the rising Covid case load.

But we’ve also got boatloads of ignorance, belligerence and lies. The woman who said I Am Legend proved vaccines are dangerous.  Phony historian David Barton claiming that using ankle monitors to ensure quarantine patients stay home would violate the Third Amendment. People treating vaccine mandates as if they were a radical new idea. Clinging to invermectin, a drug that doesn’t work on Covid.

Some governments around America are taking Covid seriously: Los Angeles is requiring vax proof to enter public indoor spaces. California is requiring school staff have vaccination passports or undergo weekly testing.  But then we have Florida, Texas. And Springfield, where the city council encouraged vaccination and some of the public had a shit fit. Ted Cruz pandering to anti-vaxxers. And these bullying psychos in Tennessee.

Paul Krugman points out this is where Republicans have been on climate change for years, refusing to believe the evidence — but the evidence the Trump Virus is real is a lot harder to ignore. Nevertheless we have Republicans like my state’s  Lt. Governor, Mark Robinson, saying we should vote out any politician who promotes or takes the vaccine. Not imposing mandates or requiring vaccine passports, simply being pro-vaccine. LGM suggests anti-rationality is now Republican orthodoxy — rejecting science and evidence is their political correctness.

And as Adam Server writes, there’s a vicious circle going: The Former Guy and his toadies whipped up anti-vax sentiment among the base. Fox News caters to their audience by siding with the Former Guy and pooh-poohing the need for vaccination, then “the conservative media’s devotion to undermining vaccination encourages Republican elected officials with political ambitions to make irresponsible public-health decisions, because they understand how media coverage shapes the attitudes of the GOP’s voters.” Abbott and DeSantis fear for their political careers if they cross the base more than they care about the dead. Hence DeSantis being anti-mask, anti-vaxx mandate but pro-extremely expensive therapies.

As noted at one of the links, the best chance for breaking through may be that a continuing pandemic is bad for business. The Republican money has been perfectly fine catering to the right-wing crazies if it elects anti-tax, anti-regulation politicians (and the judges they appoint). Now the extreme irrationality is threatening the bottom line. Perhaps that will shake things up.

Law professor Paul Campos, in one of these posts, says if ICU beds become tight, maybe those who choose to be unvaccinated should get access behind those who’ve had their shots (he doubts that meets medical law or ethics though). I understand the logic, but I’d much rather the anti-vaxxers stop biting the damn tires. Unfortunately it’s not going to happen soon.

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Republican hate for America

Republicans love to talk about how much they love America and how much liberals hate it. They’re lying. Just like they claim to honor the military until the military doesn’t support white supremacy. Just like they chant Blue Lives Matter but kill cops who get in their way. They love democracy but they love fascism more.

Similarly, when they “love” America it’s the fantasy USA in their head canon, where white men run everything, women stay home and take care of the kids, gays are in the closet and black people are in solidly subordinate roles. The real America? That they hate. Their worldview is “a hyper-patriotism gone sour: a belief in a fictional ideal of a perfect right-wing America that’s constantly betrayed by reality, leading to disillusionment and even disgust with the country as it actually exists.” Or as South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem says, “I look at Joe Biden’s America, and I don’t recognize the country that I grew up in,” echoing Laura Ingraham’s claim that conservatives are justified in resenting legal immigration.

This is, of course, true of most generations over the past century or so. The 20th century was a time of change: the 1970s weren’t the country of legal Jim Crow and “segregation now, segregation forever!” A country where women have access to reliable contraception and equal rights at work isn’t the same as the 1950s (Wall Street Journal‘s misogynist in residence James Taranto thinks both changes were mistakes). Home computers and the Internet have changed things in many ways, good and bad.

Conversely, the country I spent my teen years in was lurching towards greater equality for gays, people of color and women. Nixon was a treacherous bastard but the Republicans still supported democracy. Now I live in a country where Republicans have made open white supremacy, anti-semitism and misogyny acceptable again, and where they’re doing everything they can to rig elections so they never lose again. Nixon was an outcast within the party after Watergate; they dropped George W. Bush like a stone after his two terms were up; but Trump has the support of the base so the cowards in office will never desert him. Ron DeSantis clearly thinks making the pandemic worse in Florida is a plus for his future career, and he might be right.  Ross Douthat wrote a few years ago that conservatives need to be even more reactionary; I think he’s getting his wish.

And I live in a country with Fox News. That’s definitely a change for the worse.

And because The Former Guy made preventing a pandemic into another part of the culture wars (something Fred Clark discusses here), we’re fighting against people who insist that any restrictions to protect human life are a violation of their freedom (something the Seventh Court of Appeals recently scoffed at). Which reinforces the crackpots who oppose modern medicine itself: “In a video on her channel, Pope said she wants to promote health the way her generation’s grandparents experienced it. “When they got sick, they didn’t need the crutch of pharmaceuticals or antibiotics to get better,” she said in the video. “They just got sick and they got well.”” Except a lot of them didn’t: they died. In other words, as LGM says, the problem isn’t that vaccines don’t work but that they do.

As the Vox article linked to above says, it’s not just that conservatives don’t like the country’s direction, they don’t see a way to change it through legitimate means. They live in a world where reality itself has rejected them. Evolution works, creationism doesn’t. A black man has been elected president twice and a woman won the popular vote. Gay people aren’t all pedophiles, gay marriage hasn’t caused the collapse of straight marriage, atheists can be perfectly moral people, families with a working mom can be perfectly healthy. The United States wasn’t founded on Christianity or as a Christian nation. Global warming is real.

That’s reality, but they don’t want to accept it. So they hate and resent the proof that everything they believe is wrong, and they hate and resent those of us who accept the reality. And The Former Guy legitimized that: “he made it okay to say openly that you just hated the other side and didn’t want to share the country with them anymore.”

This will continue to be a problem going forward. I wish there was an easy solution.

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The Republicans have an edge in branding

I’ve often thought Republicans have an advantage in the media because their brand is known to be “shitty, bigoted authoritarians.” Democrats, by contrast, are supposed to be decent people. When Republicans act like scum, there’s a sense of shrug; when Democrats do it, there’s a sense of shock. We’re supposed to govern well, and clean up the mess Republicans make when they have power.

Republicans want to discriminate against gay? Well, of course. But stories about Trump supporter Alan Dershowitz not getting invited to parties or liberals saying they won’t date conservatives? Then suddenly intolerance is a big issue. If anyone on a Biden task force had suggested letting the Trump virus flourish in red states for political gain, it would be front page news. That someone on Jared’s task force proposed it? Hey, they’re Republicans, what do you expect?

Columbia Journalism Review makes the same point discussing coverage of the Jan. 6 commission. Republicans refused to cooperate unless coup-supporters such as Jim Jordan and Jim Banks were on it. Pelosi wisely shut that down, which the media portrayed as a Dem failure: Pelosi has doomed the chance the commission will accomplish anything (as if having two anti-American extremists on the commission would fix that). The article concludes that “‘Republican bad faith… is just a feature of the landscape,’ whereas a given Democrat is ‘an actor with agency, and subject to scrutiny.'” Republicans gonna Republican, that’s just the way it is.

Likewise the right-wing would pillory any Democrat who didn’t Rah Team for our Olympic competitors. We won’t see the same outrage against the Newsmax host who’s happy America’s losing. No surprise: I remember during football season last year, a bunch of FB posts said we should tune out football so we didn’t have to see players supporting Black Lives Matter.

That said, let’s look at what the American Hating Party has been up to:

Pro-coup Sen. Josh Hawley, meanwhile, has introduced a bill that bans federal funding for schools that teach the Constitution and Declaration of Independence were “the product of white supremacy and racism.” Just because the Constitution said Congress couldn’t ban the slave trade until 1808 and introduced the three-fifths clause to preserve the slave power I can’t see any reason to think slavery played a role in our founding. Comrade Hawley, as I’ve said before, would have fit well in the old USSR.

Arizona State Senator Wendy Rogers wants us to know that “I like Indians and I like Redskins. I like Aunt Jemima and I like Uncle Ben. I like Robert E Lee and I like Stonewall Jackson. I don’t like traitors who hate America. Stand up for our culture!” Nothing says hating traitors like supporting the Confederacy — and she’s also a big supporter of stealing the White House from Biden.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is suing Pelosi because mask mandates are segregation. By amazing coincidence, the website her tweet links to is a fund-raiser for her. It’s part of the proud right-wing tradition of grift.

Rep. Elise Stefanik isn’t as batshit as Greene. But these days even mainstream Republicans blame Pelosi for Jan. 6.

And these days, Candace Owens is in the Republican mainstream by suing because Facebook fact-checked her Covid posts and said they were wrong.

If colleges provide medication abortions (which is currently legal), a Republican bill would strip their federal funding.

Trump wishes he’d lowered the flag for Ashli Babbitt, dead anti-American militant. Georgia Rep. Andrew Clyde says the Jan. 6 mob were just tourists. And Tucker Carlson, of course, thinks cops traumatized by the attack are just big babies.

Matt Gaetz’s fiancee’s sister says he’s creepy as hell.


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I got your doom-scrolling right here: links

Some people refused to believe in the Trump Virus even as they died from it. Now we have towns burning from climate change but the residents blame environmentalists. Meanwhile, in Miami, poor black and Haitian neighborhoods on high ground are facing gentrification due to rising sea levels. Much like Covid, the right will proclaim climate change something we just have to live with. Republican state governments are already limiting the power of health officials to impose quarantines and other health measures in the next catastrophe.

Similarly, this country will do anything to stop school shootings except practice gun control — for example, moving a cemetery.

Speaking of the Trump Virus, here’s lying racist Laura Ingraham claiming that criticizing red states for being anti-vaxx is an elitist attack on “the trucks they drive, they don’t like how many kids they have. So it’s not just vaccine hesitancy they’re sneering at. It’s their entire being. I want people to understand that.” As if spreading lies about the vaccine to viewers who trust you didn’t demonstrate contempt. Fox liar Brian Kilmeade has suddenly discovers that presidents shouldn’t have opinions about dealing with the pandemic. The Former Guy’s White House liar Sarah Huckabee Sanders says if she’s elected governor of Arkansas she’s follow DeSantis style and impose no restrictions.

Israel’s NSO cyber-tech company has sold Pegasus spyware around the world. It hacks into your phone, sometimes without the target having to click on anything (the name comes because it’s a Trojan horse that flies onto your phone). There’s evidence governments have used it to spy on activists and journalists; NSO denies allowing that, but as it doesn’t monitor usage, it has no way to know. Here’s one alleged case of abuse. And possibly India is spying on the Dalai Lama. Technical stuff about Pegasus in this piece. NSO has ties to the Israeli government and insists they’re about stopping the bad guys.

The solution to employees not wanting to come back to work? Prison labor.

The FBI heard warnings about pedophile doctor Larry Nassar for years and did nothing. Nor with accused attempted rapist Brett Kavanaugh.

The right-wing may disagree about a lot, but they’re united that teaching kids about racism is bad. And that government helping people is bad too.

Anti-semite Rick Wiles calls for civil war to stop the Biden agenda. Prior to Jan. 6, I’d have thought that was a very long shot, but now I’m not so sure. We’ll definitely see more terrorist plots like this.

The Texas house has approved a bill punishing cities that reduce their police budget.

Right-wingers are increasingly delivering threats to TV newspeople.

Yet another example (from some years back) of right-wingers making money by being shitty people. Here’s another right-wing scam, the Freedom Phone. And the digital currency Magacoin. And osteopath anti-vaxxer Joseph Mercola.

The Catholic Church first heard warnings that Gabriele Martinelli was a molester more than a decade ago. They made him a priest anyway.

Libraries have books about gays and about racism, so right-wingers want to take libraries over.

Some police are all too willing to taser senior citizens.

In some black counties in the South up to 25 percent of requests for FEMA disaster aid get rejected.

While seeing the QAnon cultists and others turn on their own is amusing, Slacktivist points out it also enforces rigid party discipline: deviate from the party line and be accused of being one of the pedophile cultists.

“Donald Trump incited a violent mob to attempt to block the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election, and, since Donald Trump remains the unchallenged leader of the Republican party, that means Republicans have to either enthusiastically support what Trump did, or, in the alternative, try to gaslight everyone with the claim that what happened didn’t happen. ”  — which is why Republicans oppose the Jan. 6 commission.

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Will grift bring America down?

“Who better suits a marketing strategy than a group that voluntarily organizes itself according to their most passionately shared beliefs? ” Rick Perlstein asks in The Long Con, an article he wrote almost a decade ago. While this works for liberals and conservatives — subscribers to Mother Jones or National Review are obvious targets for certain kinds of pitches — Perlstein shows how snake-oil salesmen have become a fundamental part of the right. Direct mail lists become the target of fund-raising lies (like this recent one from homophobe lawyer Matt Staver, or this Stover pitch); lists are sold to let more people milk the marks; and hucksters offering miracle cures (the secret ones the Deep State is hiding) bleed people for more money. “In this respect, it’s not really useful, or possible, to specify a break point where the money game ends and the ideological one begins.”

For example, Republican governors may sincerely want to get people off unemployment for principle — but some of them also want more people applying to work at businesses the various governors own.

Wayne LaPierre, for instance, may sincerely believe in the NRA’s stance the second amendment is sacred, using the NRA as a personal piggy bank gave him a vested interest in their mission. Donations and advertising from gun manufacturers makes up a lot of their financing; I’m sure having an extremist screaming at people to buy guns before the government makes it illegal kept the money spigot turned on.

Or consider Hank Kunneman, one of the many self-appointed prophets who declared Trump won in 2020. As I’ve mentioned before, he has books to sell, he has religious souvenirs to hawk, so despite being proven wrong he keeps insisting he’s a real prophet. He’s one in a long train of Christian hucksters from the medieval pardoners to Jim Bakker selling fake Trump Virus cures. Mike Warnke, for instance, had a long, lucrative career posing as a reformed Satanic high priest who’d gone from human  sacrifice to Praise Jesus!

Terpsichore Maras-Lindeman is raking in money from QAnon believers by claiming all elected officials from 2020 are illegitimate, therefore they can simply sue to take those officials’ places. It can’t miss! Of course someone probably claimed the same about replacing Congress and Biden with the Steward of Gondor.

A growing number of Republicans are approaching their roles as elected officials more as reality show stars than legislators. And at least 10 states divert TANF funding for needy families to finance anti-abortion groups.  Supporting forced-birth and abstinence-only education is a way to channel money to religious conservatives who loyally vote Republican.

Or consider Jesse Lee Peterson telling OAN viewers that the Tulsa race massacre was exaggerated to make whites look bad. Lies like that undoubtedly endear the black radio host to the white OAN audience (much as right-wingers love an antifeminist woman pundit). Or radio host, misogynist and right-wing minister E.W. Jackson accusing the Bidens of eating French food on Memorial Day instead of American food. It’s gibberish but some right-wing rageaholics will be happy to believe it so they can get their fix. And that’s money in the bank for Jackson.

Does this mean they don’t believe? Some, I’m sure, are complete manipulators (Bakker, for sure). Others fall on the borderline: I don’t doubt Staver’s hates gays just as Rick Wiles hates Jews. However neither one has any qualms using bigotry to raise money. Maybe that encourages them to get more outrageous: the uglier lies they tell about the Zionist/Gay Agenda, the more they can drive their fund-raising. Roy Edroso argues pundit Peggy Noonan blaming liberals for right-wing conspiracy theories may be a calculated career move: Republicans are solidly Trumpite now, so while she may disapprove, she wants them to know it’s Not Their Fault.

Then there are dudes like Paige Patterson. The misogyny he’s shown as head of the Southern Baptist Conference is certainly sincere, but he’s allegedly also a crook, stealing valuable art from the SBC for his own HQ (they kicked him out a while back) and also the donor list for fundraising — which he’s now using to channel money to his own organization.

Others, as Paul Campos says, may know specific claims are bullshit yet still believe in their truthiness. Sure, Sidney Powell and Maras-Lindeman are liars, there wasn’t any election fraud, but it’s still cheating for Democrats to win when Republicans are the only Real Americans. I suspect something similar is true of most of the marks for all this grift: they’re not so much fooled as choosing to believe. They want to believe their enemies are devils or that they’re virtuous, and fighting QAnon’s nonexistent Satanic pedophiles makes them feel so. Some of them may start off choosing and eventually convince themselves into absolute belief.

But regardless of their sincerity, they’re doing damage.  Prosecutors cited Warnke’s claims about Satanism in America to prove the Satanic Panic of 30 years ago was real. People went to jail in that witch-hunt, for years.

Believing the Trump Virus vaccines are the Mark of the Beast doesn’t make sense (how are the unvaccinated able to buy or sell when Antichrist only permits that from those who take the mark?) but it makes it harder to fight the virus.

Whipping up claims of election fraud and how audits are proving it is killing our democracy; they won’t remove Biden from office but a system in which every election result people don’t like has to be litigated is unworkable. Democracy, as others have pointed out, hinges on the belief that even if you lose, the government is legitimate. Without that, we’re screwed.


Filed under Politics