THIS LEVEL OF INTIMIDATION SEEMS TO BE PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE IN AMERICA NOW

Via Roy Edroso on Twitter, here's a story about a prominent Republican who's making death threats against the Democratic governor and others:
Joe Oltmann, founder and president of the activist group FEC United and host of the “Conservative Daily” podcast, made a series of comments about the hanging of political opponents on his show throughout the week.

On Friday, Oltmann listened as his co-host, Max McGuire, read aloud the names of the 19 Senate Republicans who this week voted with Democrats to approve an 11-week stopgap spending bill....

“There’s your list of 19 traitors to the American people, along with all the other traitors to the American people,” Oltmann said in response. “I want people to go out there and get some wood. The gallows are getting wider and longer. We should be able to build gallows all the way from Washington, D.C., to California.”

“We just have a line of executions of traitors through the United States of America,” Oltmann continued.
More:
Later in Friday’s show, Oltmann talked about an online post responding to [Governor Jared] Polis, in which he said he’d called the governor a liar and a traitor.

“So that’s what I sent to Gov. Polis. Gallows. I had to stretch that rope,” Oltmann said.
The story quotes Oltmann saying that he's being "funny." And this, I guess, is meant to be hilarious, too:
“I went and bought a bunch of rope,” he added. “That way I can pull people behind my car when their body parts fall off, so it’s far enough behind, doesn’t get any blood on it. I don’t know if I’m allowed to say that on here.”

... “I’m not being very good today,” Oltmann said. “I almost feel like I’m maybe getting a little too graphic on the fact that I want to hang them from the neck till they’re dead.”
That would be this Joe Oltmann:
A far-right activist who hosted a podcast went public with a fantastical claim just weeks ahead of the 2020 election.

... Colorado’s Joe Oltmann says he listened to a phone call hosted by left-wing "antifa" activists in September 2020.

On the call, Oltmann purports that security director Eric Coomer of Colorado-based Dominion Voting Systems said he could fix the vote to guarantee President Trump's re-election defeat.

The claim — denied by Coomer and backed by no evidence — ricocheted through willing conservative media outlets and made its way to the Trump campaign as the basis for its claims that the 2020 election was stolen.
Coomer says he and his family have since faced death threats and doxxing. As a result, he went into hiding. He filed a defamation lawsuit -- and Oltmann went on to attack and defy the judge hearing the suit, Marie Avery Moses.
... the man whose claims sparked the firestorm is defying a “civility order” from the judge by attacking her and others on social media.

Oltmann came into the courtroom about 40 minutes after the hearing started on Wednesday....

At the end of the day Wednesday, one of Coomer’s attorneys alerted the judge to disparaging posts Oltmann allegedly made about her on Telegram, a social media website popular with conservatives. The Colorado Sun found Telegram posts from Oltmann accusing the judge of being “so obviously compromised and colluding with the radical agenda” and calling Coomer and his lawyers liars.

Coomer’s lawyers told Moses they wanted the posts to stop: “This endangers us, our client and the court.”

... Oltmann vowed Wednesday night to defy the judge’s order, which he likened to “Nazi Germany” and even threatened to sue her....

... He’s already defied court orders in the case. In August, the judge ordering him to pay costs and legal fees for the plaintiffs when he didn’t show up to an in-person deposition.... the judge barred his lawyers from disputing certain evidence after he refused to identify the alleged person who got him access to Coomer’s private Facebook posts.
Oltmann is always like this. Here's an October 2020 story I told you about a few months ago:
At an event yesterday intended to showcase the candidates whom the new conservative political group FEC United is supporting, founder Joe Oltmann threatened to dox journalists who report negatively about the group.

Oltmann claims FEC United has identified Antifa members “that are actually journalists writing stories about us.”

“I’ll put them on billboards,” he told the crowd of Republican candidates and supporters, which took place at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison. “We’re coming for you... If you’re part of the media and you write something bad about us, better take your byline off it.”
Oltmann isn't a fringe figure:
Kristi Burton Brown, currently the chair of the Colorado Republican Party, served as the president of Oltmann’s FEC United group as recently as November 2020, according to a deposition Oltmann gave in the defamation case....

George Brauchler, a former district attorney for the 18th Judicial District and former GOP candidate for attorney general, responded in a September podcast interview to concerns about his ties with Oltmann. PIN Business Network, a data services company formerly run by Oltmann, has been an advertiser on Brauchler’s own radio show.

“Joe is a friend,” Brauchler said at the time. “We disagree on the election stuff. ... I’m not running away from Joe, I still am friendly with Joe.”
Will Oltmann just keep talking like this until someone is killed?

YOU’RE GONNA NEED A BIGGER BALCONY

So this happened last night:
Sanity prevailed Thursday night when the Senate overcame an effort by a handful of conservative Republican senators who had threatened to force a government shutdown unless they got a vote on an amendment to defund President Joe Biden's Covid-19 vaccine mandates.

The vote on blocking the use of federal money to enforce Biden's vaccine requirements narrowly failed, 48-50....
Paul Krugman looks at this and other Republican efforts to limit America's response to the pandemic and concludes that an authoritarian mindset is responsible:
What seems to be happening instead goes beyond cold calculation. As I’ve pointed out in the past, Republican politicians now act like apparatchiks in an authoritarian regime, competing to take ever more extreme positions as a way to demonstrate their loyalty to the cause — and to The Leader. Catering to anti-vaccine hysteria, doing all they can to keep the pandemic going, has become something Republicans do to remain in good standing within the party.
I agree that Republicans show their loyalty to the Cause by demonstrating opposition to vaccines. But are they really showing loyalty to the Leader? Donald Trump was a pandemic denialist, but he got vaccinated, and he's tried to persuade his followers to do the same.

So is Krugman wrong about that? Or are Republicans trying to be more Catholic than the pope? Are they assuming that Trump's COVID denialism is legitimate and his support for vaccines is fake?

Or is Trump not really the Leader of this authoritarian party, or not the only leader?

Trump is clearly one of the leaders of the Republican Party, along with Rupert Murdoch, Leonard Leo, Charles Koch, Rebekah Mercer, and various broadcast fanatics (Tucker Carlson, Ben Shapiro, Alex Jones) -- but GOP fanaticism sometimes seems like the "leaderless resistance" of groups like ISIS. Core ideas are disseminated by key figures, then those who hear the messages act independently. Or it's a cell structure -- there's a congressional cell, a media cell, several church cells and think tank cells, and so on.

In any case, Trump isn't the sole Leader. He's not the Leader on vaccines or critical race theory. He appointed the judges who are likely to overturn Roe v. Wade, but the drive to outlaw abortion precedes him. The same is true for the effort to force gun control states and cities to accept open and concealed carry -- it's a cause his judges are likely to advance, though it doesn't seem to be his cause.

The Republican Party is a cult of fanatics, but it has multiple figures of influence all competing to lead the cult members -- and one another -- in ever more extreme directions. It isn't just Trump who makes this happen.

THIS IS HOW YOU PLAY THE LONG GAME

Henry Olsen has a near-perfect right-wing C.V.: Claremont McKenna College, Manhattan Institute, American Enterprise Institute, and now the culture-war-driven Ethics and Public Policy Center. He writes for The Washington Post's opinion section, and yesterday he wrote this about the seemingly inevitable Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade:
In light of the Supreme Court’s oral arguments Wednesday on Mississippi’s abortion law, pro-life advocates may have what they’ve been seeking for decades: A chance to overturn Roe v. Wade. If successful, however, they are likely to find that overturning Roe will be the easiest part of their quest to outlaw abortion.

... the pro-life movement ... should expect an enormous campaign by abortion rights advocates to mobilize the pro-choice majority that favors legal abortion in the first trimester.... Pro-lifers should be prepared for that onslaught, both to mobilize their own side and to minimize the other side’s impact. Angry or violent confrontations on college campuses or in front of abortion providers probably would not do the cause much good.

Pro-life forces should also resist any attempt to federalize abortion law for the foreseeable future. Since half of all Democratic voters believe there should be no restrictions on abortion at all, any pro-life federal bill will be filibustered in the Senate. Democrats would certainly seek to codify Roe, and any federal compromise would likely at least enshrine first trimester abortions into federal law, eliminating the ability of conservative states to enact their own laws. Should a federal law pass, it would likely stand for many decades, much like the Missouri Compromise settled the slavery question for more than 30 years despite growing abolitionist sentiment.

... Right now, public sentiment favors unrestricted abortion in the first trimester, the period in which roughly 92 percent of all abortions in the United States are performed. Until that sentiment changes, pro-lifers will not be able to make significant changes to American abortion law even with Roe out of the way.

The good news for the pro-life movement is that public opinion can change relatively quickly. In 1996, only 27 percent of Americans favored same-sex marriage. That share increased to roughly 60 percent by 2015 when the Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage to be a constitutional right and sits at 70 percent today. Only 4 percent of Americans favored interracial marriage in 1958; today, 94 percent do.
What's the message here? It's that the right won't rest if Roe is overturned. Right-wingers won't do an end zone dance and decide they can stop fighting and stand down. They're just going to keep coming at us, because that's how they operate. They never rest. They make realistic assessments of their ability to make change. They sometimes seem stalled or blocked, but they never stop fighting. They know it's a long game.

Our side tends to believe that if we've elected a president and flipped Congress, we're done -- we can kick back and let the officials we've elected take care of everything. The right just stays angry and focused.

I think Olsen gives Democrats too much credit. We won't "enshrine first trimester abortions into federal law" (how would that survive the inevitable filibuster?) -- but saying we will is Olsen's effort to keep his side motivated. He probably doesn't have to worry. The fight will shift to the states, and Republicans will go on offense, because they're always on offense. Democrats will protect abortion rights in deep-blue states. But Republicans will just keep coming at us. And eventually they'll federalize a national abortion ban, unless Democrats learn to fight like Republicans and stop them.

DEMOCRATS HAVE PROBLEMS BEYOND THE ONES CITED BY THE "DEMOCRATS HAVE PROBLEMS" GUY

Jonathan Martin of The New York Times interviewed Brian Stryker, a Democratic pollster who conducted focus groupd of Joe Biden voters who either switched sides to vote for Glenn Youngkin in the Virginia governor's race or seriously considered Youngkin. Some of what Stryker says suggests that Democrat Terry McAuliffe committed unforced errors:
What was the first thing you told your partners after you got done with the groups — what was your big takeaway?

I was surprised by how dominant education was in this election. I was also struck by how much it was this place for all of these frustrations for these suburban voters, where they could take out their Covid frustrations in one place.

...Voters don’t think that in general a lot of Democrats felt really bad about closing the schools or felt like it was really a negative on people. I think showing some empathy on that could go a long ways in terms of: Yes, closing schools was hard on kids and hard on parents.
A number of liberal and centrist commentators have said that Democratic officeholders should have done everything in their power to get schools open as fast as possible, regardless of the health risks. But if I'm reading this correctly, just a sincere acknowledgment of the hardships would have gone a long way.

But Stryker's main message is that Democrats have a branding problem.
What is that branding problem, in a nutshell?

People think we’re more focused on social issues than the economy — and the economy is the No. 1 issue right now.

What drives this perception that Democrats are fixated on cultural issues?

We probably haven’t been as focused on the economy as we should be. I think some of that is voters reading us talking about things that aren’t economic issues. Part of it is just a natural reaction, too: We’re in an economy they feel is tough. It’s hard for them to think we’ve solved problems when they see so many.
Maybe Democrats need to say more (and do more) about high prices -- but are they talking about social issues too much? Joe Biden and congressional Democrats certainly aren't. Did voters regard McAuliffe's criticism of Donald Trump as talking about cultural issues? Do they think the pandemic is a cultural issue? (It shouldn't be, but Republicans have made it one.) Or do they think Democrats are obsessed with cultural issues because right-wing framing of Democrats becomes everyone else's framing of Democrats? (The ginned-up critical race theory panic certainly made Democrats seem more obsessed with racial issues than they are.)

And then there's this:
One of the things you also said in the memo was that McAuliffe’s strategy of linking Mr. Youngkin to former President Donald Trump was ineffective. What in the conversations with your groups made that clear?

The respondents kind of laughed at that approach. They said, “Oh, these silly ads that compared Youngkin to Trump — he just doesn’t seem like that guy.” The thing that these people disliked about Trump was that they didn’t like Donald Trump the person; it wasn’t Donald Trump the constellation of policies. That may very well have been the best message that McAuliffe had, but if we are in that position again, we’re going to lose a ton of races. We’ve got to have something better.

How much does Mr. Biden himself take the blame with these voters? Is his name invoked?

It’s Biden, Democrats — they all come together.
This goes by so fast that it's easy to miss what Stryker is saying; I'm not sure even Stryker understands. He's saying that voters feel Donald Trump doesn't taint other Republicans, even though he's obviously the head of the party and its guiding spirit, but Joe Biden, who's now perceived to be doing a poor job, does taint other Democrats. (Stryker makes clear that none of these voters regret voting against Trump -- they just don't see what he has to do with Youngkin.)

The GOP and the right-wing media tell their audience -- and Democratic voters apparently hear this, too -- that any Democrat (or liberal, or radical, or Hollywood celebrity, or college professor, or foreigner such as George Soros, or even a foreign terrorist) who offends them is equivalent to every Democrat. Democrats and the mainstream media send the opposite message: that Trump is unique and other Republicans aren't necessarily like that. And they're saying the same thing now about Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Paul Gosar, and Matt Gaetz, as well as extremist ideologues like Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis.

The result is that the Republican Party is a party that's run by extremists but is perceived as moderate, while the Democratic Party is run by moderates but is perceived as extremist. Democrats really don't understand that, and I'm not sure Brian Stryker does, either.

SILLY LIB! IF YOU CAN DROP YOUR BABY IN A CHUTE, WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?

At National Review, Alexandra DeSanctis argues that sweet Amy Coney Barrett has been viciously libeled:
The Daily Beast Smears Justice Barrett

Reporting on today’s Supreme Court oral arguments in Dobbs, the Daily Beast asserts that Justice Amy Coney Barrett had “indicated she might not be inclined to protect a woman’s right to an abortion, suggesting it wasn’t necessary thanks to the option to give a child up for adoption.” (The headline of the piece is, incidentally, “Amy Coney Barrett Suggests Forced Pregnancy Is Fine Because of Adoption.”)

No such thing happened.
So the Daily Beast was wrong to suggest that Justice Barrett said adoption makes abortion bans okay? So what exactly did she say?
The exchange in question took place near the end of argument, when U.S. solicitor general Elizabeth Prelogar, arguing against Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, was taking questions from the justices.

Barrett raised a question ... about safe-haven laws, which shield women from prosecution if they surrender an unwanted child to a safe haven.

... If the aim of abortion supporters is to enable women to choose not to be a parent, why are safe-haven laws not good enough? Why must the government also sanction abortion?
Oh, okay -- Barrett didn't say the availability of adoption makes abortion bans cool -- she said abortion bans are cool because all fifty states allow you to leave your baby in a chute, or make other similar accommodations for it:



As a USA Today story explained in 2019:
Every state has a Safe Haven law, which means there are ways for a person to safely relinquish a unharmed newborn baby without any risk of persecution....

While Safe Haven laws generally allow parents to remain anonymous, meaning some states won't compel them to reveal their identity, it's still not completely anonymous.

"The law has been around for 20 years and says that you can walk into any hospital and surrender your baby anonymously no questions asked, that’s not accurate," said Monica Kelsey, founder of Safe Haven Baby Boxes and an abandoned child herself....

Kelsey cited two cases in Bowling Green, Ky. and Lake Charles, Las where two moms went to a fire station and a hospital, respectively, and left their kids right outside. She said this was most likely due to the fact that the parents didn't want to have to interact with anyone. Despite how close you get to the relinquishing station, if you don't hand your baby over to a person, it's considered abandonment, Kelsey said....

To combat the anonymity problem, Kelsey came up with the idea for Safe Haven Baby Boxes which provide 100% anonymity.

The boxes, typically installed at a fire station or hospital, are devices people can use to surrender their babies. Once they open the box, it triggers an alarm alerting personnel that a baby needs to be picked up. The box has cooling and heating features to keep the child safe until someone arrives within less than three minutes.

She added that there are no cameras around the box, so there's no fear of being recorded.
That certainly doesn't sound traumatic! Hey, if that's available, why are we being such Gloomy Gusses about the near-inevitable loss of legalized abortion in half the country?

Presumably these babies are subsequently adopted -- we hope! But it's a vicious attack on Barrett to say she meant baby adoptions when she really meant baby chutes.

SO WAS G. GORDON LIDDY RIGHT, CLYDE?

CNN has suspended Chris Cuomo, and it's about time.
The star CNN anchor Chris Cuomo was suspended indefinitely by the network on Tuesday after new details emerged about his efforts to assist his brother, Andrew M. Cuomo, the former governor of New York, as he faced a cascade of sexual harassment accusations that led to the governor’s resignation.

... thousands of pages of evidence released on Monday by the New York attorney general, Letitia James, revealed that the anchor’s role had been more intimate and involved than previously known.

... At one point, the governor’s former top aide, Melissa DeRosa, asked the anchor if he could check his “sources” about a rumor that Politico was working on an article that included additional accusations. “On it,” Chris Cuomo responded.

Ms. James’s report also included a text from Mr. Cuomo to Ms. DeRosa sent a few days after a woman, Anna Ruch, told The New York Times that Andrew Cuomo had made an unwanted advance toward her at a wedding in New York City. “I have a lead on the wedding girl,” the anchor wrote in the text.
We've known about Chris Cuomo's role as an adviser to his brother on this since May. We've known the sordid details of the then-governor's harassment and assaults since August. Chris Cuomo should have been off the air long ago.

But some people disagree. Here's Clyde Haberman, a longtime reporter for The New York Times and the father of the Times's Maggie Haberman:



We've been here before. In 1996, The Washington Post's Don Olderburg wrote:
"Am I my brother's keeper?"

The question dating back to Cain and Abel resurfaced last week with the disclosure that David Kaczynski, suspecting his older brother, Theodore, of being the Unabomber, turned him in to the FBI. Since then, the younger Kaczynski has been lauded as an ethical role model, his decision praised as an act of selfless courage.

So when radio talk show host G. Gordon Liddy referred to him Friday not as a hero who acted in the nation's interest, but rather as a lowly "snitch" who betrayed his brother, some listeners called in steaming with disbelief....

"It violates the taboo against turning on one's family," argues Liddy, the convicted Watergate felon who spent time behind bars rather than turn informant. "He went out and took action which led him to believe his brother may be the Unabomber -- and then turned his brother in."

Liddy adds that if he had a brother, he would not betray him under the same circumstances. "I would have gone up there and said, Listen, I don't know if you are this guy or not. If you are, you can issue all the damn manifestos you want. But don't you hurt anybody else -- or I'll come up and whip your {butt}.'"
Ted Kaczinski killed or maimed many people. Andrew Cuomo's crimes obviously don't rise to that level. But they're not nothing. The attorney general's office reported,
After nearly five months, the investigators concluded that Governor Cuomo did sexually harass multiple women — including former and current state employees — by engaging in unwanted groping, kissing, and hugging, and making inappropriate comments. Further, the governor and his senior staff took actions to retaliate against at least one former employee for coming forward with her story.
So would Haberman have had "some ambivalence" about turning in a brother who was the Unabomber? Does he agree with G. Gordon Liddy? Or is ambivalence appropriate in cases of forcible groping and career retaliation, but not in cases of maiming and death? Where's the line, Clyde?

LET’S KEEP PRETENDING THAT THE INMATES AREN’T RUNNING THE ASYLUM

Eric Boehlert reports on Chris Christie's spectacular failure.
It’s hard to recall a former politician who was showered with more free media attention than Chris Christie this month as he peddled his new book, “Republican Rescue.” ... CNN even dedicated an entire primetime hour to him....

Consumers aren’t buying it.

A senior publishing source with access to the industry’s BookScan tabulations tells me that “Republican Rescue” sold just 2,289 copies during its first week in stores, which constitutes a colossal publishing flop....

In comparison to Christie’s 2,000 copies debacle, Jonathan Karl’s new book “Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show,” sold 24,000 hardcover copies the same week as the Christie failure. How Christie was able to sell so few books after lining up so much national media attention during his marketing roll-out — “This Week” and “The View,” “Fox & Friends,” along with Fox News, Fox Business, the Daily Show, HBO twice, and CNBC — represents an extraordinary disconnect.

It confirms that the deeply unpopular former New Jersey governor remains, first and foremost, a media creation.
After that embarrassing misread of public sentiment, has the mainstream media gotten the point about the nature of the contemporary GOP? Nope. Today we get Peter Nicholas writing this for The Atlantic:
Pence 2024?

If Donald Trump officially enters the next presidential race, that doesn’t mean his former vice president will stay out of the contest.


... Pence is eyeing a presidential run of his own, even though his old boss hasn’t ruled out a 2024 campaign. Pence wouldn’t necessarily stay out of the race even if Trump jumps in.

“If you know the Pences, you know they’ll always try to discern where they’re being called to serve,” Marc Short, Pence’s former chief of staff, told me.
To his credit, Nicholas is skeptical:
A 2024 Pence campaign looks futile no matter the scenario. If Trump runs, he’ll rally the same MAGA zealots who refuse to believe he lost the last election. And if Trump opts out, Pence isn’t his natural successor; he may have spoiled any hope of inheriting the Republican base when he defied Trump on January 6.
Nicholas thinks Pence is a longshor, but ... he believes Pence may have spoiled hopes of inheriting the party's base? Really? Ya think?

Nicholas tells us that "GOP operatives [are] asking a version of the same question: What in the world is Mike Pence thinking?" I'll tell you what Pence is thinking and why he's thinking it: He's thinking that his party is going to come to its senses and rally around a pre-MAGA style of candidate, probably because the mainstream media keeps saying that could really happen. The fawning over Christie is one example. So is punditry like this:
A cold-eyed political calculus suggests that 2024 would be Pence’s best and maybe last real shot. He’ll be 65 by the next inauguration, and fresher faces are emerging in Republican politics, notably Glenn Youngkin, the incoming Virginia governor who won a state that Biden had captured a year ago by 10 points. “Someone like Glenn Youngkin is the future,” Sarah Chamberlain, the president of the Republican Main Street Partnership, a group that promotes centrist policies, told me. “He would be a wonderful presidential candidate.”
Youngkin would be a credible GOP presidential candidate if his party's voters didn't demand supersized portions of red meat whenever it's available; they accepted the leaner cuisine of his run in Virginia because it's what party strategists thought was necessary for a win (and he still race-baited his way to victory). GOP voters won't accept Demagoguery Lite in the 2024 primaries -- not if Ron DeSantis, Donald Trump Jr., Ted Cruz, Mike Flynn, or Mike Lindell decides to run in the absence of Trump Sr.

Even as Nicholas casts doubt on Pence's chances, he makes clear that he really doesn't get it:
Whatever Trump’s future, for Pence to be competitive in a Republican presidential primary race, he’d need to assemble a coalition of fellow evangelical Christians, cultural conservatives, and a chunk of mainstream Republicans who appreciate that he upheld Biden’s victory.
"A chunk of mainstream Republicans who appreciate that [Pence] upheld Biden’s victory"? Dude, there are no such Republicans -- not in the electorate. There are professional Never Trump Republicans, but there are no non-professional Never Trump Republicans.

Nicholas quotes something Pence said recently on his podcast about the aftermath of 9/11:
“I will tell you, on that day and in the weeks and months that followed, there were no Republicans in Washington, D.C.,” Pence tells his listeners. “There were no Democrats in Washington, D.C. It was just Americans...."
But Republican voters simply don't believe Democrats can be Americans. If Pence is still talking this way, and he's really running, he's setting himself up for a worse ass-kicking than Jeb Bush got in 2016.

MIND-READING AT THE WASHINGTON POST

Here's a Washington Post headline:


How did reporters Annie Linskey and Fenit Nirappil determine that the public has little appetite for new pandemic restrictions? They spoke to the following people:
* "Ezekiel Emanuel, a physician and bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania who was on President Biden’s covid advisory team during the transition" (and who is Rahm Emanuel's brother)

* "Joe Kanter, Louisiana’s top public health official"

* "Robert Wachter, who chairs the Department of Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco"
They quoted President Biden, White House press secretary Jen Psaki, White House COVID response coordinator Jeff Zients, British prime minister Boris Johnson, Trump-backed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, Trump-backing congressman and former White House physician Ronny Jackson, and Democratic governors Ned Lamont of Connecticut and Phil Murphy of New Jersey.

In other words they determined that the public won't tolerate new COVID restrictions without talking to any members of the general public, or to anyone who's surveyed public opinion on the subject. So when they write, "But after nearly 21 months of covid-19 restrictions, there is little appetite in the country for the kinds of school closures, indoor-gathering bans and restaurant restrictions that defined the early days of the pandemic," it's "according to health officials, who say the political will to push for unpopular — but effective — mitigation measures is waning." Never mind the fact that the only people who actually say this are Dr. Emanuel, who left full-time government work a decade ago and is primarily a professor, and Dr. Wachter, who's also a professor.

No ordinary citizen is quoted. No pollster is quoted. We just have to take the word of "experts" that, as Dr. Emanuel says, “The American public is rightfully exhausted," and that, as Dr. Wachter says, “The threshold to shut things down is going to be much higher than it was."

It's obvious what's happening here: Republicans are vehemently opposed to any COVID mitigation measures and Democrats are afraid of Republicans, so we won't do what we need to do, and what other countries are already doing, to minimize the suffering caused by the omicron variant because we allow the GOP to have a veto over nearly every area of public policy, whether Republicans represent the majority or not. (On so many issues -- guns, abortion, taxation of the rich, climate change, and now COVID, they don't.) The press hears the loudest voices -- angry rural white Republicans with guns, along with the politicians who encourage their outrage -- and assumes they represent consensus opinion.

They don't. The public has been strongly supportive of mask mandates, vaccine requirements, and other mitigation strategies, but we defer to the right because the right is noisy and intimidating. And these Post writers don't even understand that that's what's happening.

‘CAUSE YOU KNOW SOMETIMES WORDS HAVE TWO MEANINGS

I saw this Twitter thread a little while ago:



I was immediately reminded of this:



Rufo's plan, near the outset of the moral panic over teaching about racism in schools, asserted that he and his fellow culture warriors had "decodified" the term "critical race theory" and would "recodify" it to mean "anything about race in school curricula that right-wingers don't like." Rufo and friends have been quite successful at this.

But clearly this isn't the only time right-wingers have changed the perceived meaning of a word or phrase. As @BartenderHemry says, "lockdown," for many people, now means "any annoying pandemic-related inconvenience." So now things that are a minor nuisance feel like totalitarianism to these folks, in part because their brains are conditioned to think "lockdown," which really does sound like a totalitarian restriction on freedom of movement. So right-wingers can move around freely in a mask, but they feel as if you can't. Word recodified; rage successfully induced.

"Critical race theory" doesn't seem like an inherently sinister phrase, but Rufo always saw its potential, as he explained to The New Yorker's Benjamin Wallace-Wells:
"...‘Critical race theory’ is the perfect villain,” Rufo wrote.

... “Its connotations are all negative to most middle-class Americans, including racial minorities, who see the world as ‘creative’ rather than ‘critical,’ ‘individual’ rather than ‘racial,’ ‘practical’ rather than ‘theoretical.’ Strung together, the phrase ‘critical race theory’ connotes hostile, academic, divisive, race-obsessed, poisonous, elitist, anti-American.”
Rufo and his pals have made "critical race theory" a pejorative, and now it's applied to even plain statements of fact about race that make their way into school curricula, as a mark of shame.

But the right has been identifying scare words and broadening their meanings as a tactic of rhetorical warfare for a long time. The classic right-wing scare words are "socialism" and "communism," which mean "anything right-wingers don't like." Marjorie Taylor Greene is particularly fond of using "communism" this way:



I suppose the right would argue that our side has done something similar with the word "racist," but we can make a reasonable case for nearly all uses of the term, whereas Greene just uses "communism" to refer to anything that annoys her and Rufo boasts of cynically misapplying the term "critical race theory" as a tactic of war. I don't know how you beat the right at this, but calling the tactic out might be a start.

WHY DOES DONALD TRUMP HATE JESUS?

Spotted on Twitter:


Notice what word isn't anywhere in the copy? Christmas.

It's not here, either:


Richard Johnson of the New York Daily News told us about the event in October:
Donald Trump will celebrate Christmas early by posing for photos with fans who are paying $10,000 a head.

The former president is headlining a Dec. 3 fundraiser in an airport hangar in Naples, Fla., where 100 Christmas trees will re-create Melania’s Yuletide decoration of the White House....

Trump ... is set to pose for 90 photos with guests who can use the shots on their Christmas cards. The total number of guests could be 250 with spouses and offspring.

“Trump does get a piece of the pie, but the lion’s share will go to charity,” said Brad Keltner, the event’s organizer.

Keltner scoffed at rumors the event will feature an ice rink, Russian ballerinas and Clydesdale horses, but confirmed that there will be snow.

“This is not a political fundraiser,” Keltner said. “The president is doing this to benefit several local causes in a community that strongly supports him.”
I hope we find out whether any of this money was actually donated to charities. But whether the event is intended to help the needy or line Trump's pockets, it's Christmas-themed and it features Christmas trees, but there's no "Christmas" in the publicity images for the event.

Isn't Trump the guy who said this many times?


You know, we're getting near that beautiful Christmas season that people don't talk about anymore. They don't use the word "Christmas" because it's not politically correct. You go to department stores and they'll say "Happy New Year," or they'll say other things, and it'll be red, they'll have it painted, but they don't say -- Well, guess what? We're saying "Merry Christmas" again.
But as I told you in December 2016, Trump's properties regularly avoid the "C" word.


Why does Trump hate Jesus?