• ...And One Storyline from Last Tuesday
• The Uvalde Shooting: Let the Gaslighting Begin
We're getting close to turning the corner and not running so horribly late. (Z)'s grades were due at 6:00 a.m. Wednesday, and were finished around, oh, 2:35 a.m. Wednesday. So, that's off the plate, and once there's been a little time to recover, work on the site will commence at a more reasonable time each day. For now, if you'd care to guess, what time do you think the first student complaint about grades arrived via e-mail? Again, they were posted at 2:35 a.m., and it takes 5-10 minutes for them to go live. The answer's at the bottom of the page.
Ok, getting back to normal, let's take a look at what happened when the good people of Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, and Minnesota went to the polls on Tuesday:
- Eye, Meet Finger: Everyone knew that Donald Trump was going to take a poke in the eye (or
a kick in the teeth, or a punch in the groin) in Georgia, and hoo boy, did he ever. Trump's handpicked gubernatorial
candidate, former senator David Perdue (R), was humiliated by Gov. Brian Kemp (R), 73.7% to 21.8%. And while Georgia
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, whom Trump really hates, did not win by quite so large a margin, he did
avoid a runoff, beating Rep. Jody Hice (R), 52.3% to 33.4%, with minor candidates taking the rest. Georgia is an open
primary state, and it is a near certainty that Raffensperger's win was powered, in part, by Democratic ratfu**king.
(Recall that the term "ratfu**king" covers any attempt by voters of one party to influence the nominations of the other
party, and doesn't refer only to sticking the other party with the worst and least electable candidate.)
Kemp will now move on to face Stacey Abrams (D), who was unopposed, while Raffensperger will square off against the winner of a runoff between state Rep. Bee Nguyen (D, 44.2%) and former state Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler (D, 18.7%). The Democratic primary had several Black candidates, but now it only has one in Dawkins-Haigler, so she may well be poised to make up that gap.
- Other Eye, Meet Finger: Katie Britt (R) would like to succeed her old boss, Sen. Richard
Shelby (R-AL). Shelby would like that too and, thanks to support from him and much of the Republican establishment, she
collected the most votes on Tuesday, taking 44.7% of the total. That, however, is not enough to avoid a runoff, and so
she'll have to face off against Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), the guy that Donald Trump left for dead, who took 29.2% of the
total. It is embarrassing enough for the former president that Brooks survived despite Trump yanking his endorsement and
trashing the Representative as not sufficiently Trumpy enough. It will be much worse if Brooks actually wins the runoff,
which would effectively make him Alabama's next U.S. senator (unless it's discovered that he liked to hit on high school
girls when he was in his thirties). If Brooks is to advance, he will basically have to unify nearly all of the non-Britt
vote from Tuesday. He's controversial and is disliked by many Alabamians, so we doubt he can do it, though a lot of
Trump haters are going to be rooting for him nonetheless.
Once the Republicans figure out their candidate, the Democratic victim will be Will Boyd, who took 63.7% of the vote on Tuesday.
- Winner in a Walk(er): Donald Trump did get his preferred U.S. Senate candidate over the line;
Herschel Walker (R) advanced easily, with 68.2% of the vote. That said, getting Southerners to vote for a former
football player who is up against weak opposition is no real trick.
- Checkmate?: Walker's win, such as it is, was Donald Trump's only meaningful victory of the night. He did
more than two dozen candidates who won their primaries, but most of them were either unopposed or else faced token opposition.
And, as to losses, not only did Trump come up short in the gubernatorial and Secretary of State races in Georgia, his candidates also got
walloped in the other statewide races (John Gordon got crushed by AG Chris Carr, 73.8% to 26.2%, and Patrick Witt got
trounced by Insurance Commissioner John King, 71% to 17%). He also backed two open-seat House candidates, Vernon Jones
and Jake Evans, who finished in second place in their contests. They'll both head to runoffs, but will start in a bit
of a hole.
Because Trump had such a lousy night, there were a bunch of op-eds yesterday like this one, that is headlined "Georgia signals that Trump's days playing kingmaker are over." We were leery of all the post-Ohio op-eds that declared the former president to still be a major power broker after J.D. Vance's win, and we're leery of post-Georgia op-eds that claim the spell is broken. Quite clearly, Trump cannot will a challenger to victory over an incumbent. Trump might not even be able to swing most two-way races. But he still has some power, and the pattern we've observed—that he tends to have an impact on competitive three-way races—has yet to be disproven.
- Stop the "Stop the Steal"?: What is clearer, when it comes to Trump, is that "Stop the
Steal" is turning into an anchor, politically. Obviously, the prime villains of that little narrative, namely the
Georgia politicians who failed to "find" 12,000 new votes for Trump, were sustained on Tuesday. So too was Sen.
John Boozman (R-AR), who easy fought off a challenge from "Stop the Steal" challenger Jake Bequette, 58.0% to 27.0%. In
general, these sorts of candidates, excepting Doug Mastriano (R) in Pennsylvania, are coming up short this election season.
That's too bad for Trump, because "Do you think the 2020 election was fraudulent" is questions 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 on his
endorsement application, and there's only one correct answer. And no other questions.
- Yawn: There were a number of races that were expected to be blowouts, and... were. Sarah
Huckabee Sanders got the Republican nomination for governor in Arkansas with 83.1% of the vote. Sen. Raphael Warnock
(D-GA) won renomination with 96% of the vote. All of the incumbents running for reelection to the House crushed
their competition (excepting, of course, the ones who were unopposed, and the exceptions we note below). Gov. Kay Ivey
(R-AL) didn't win in a walk, but she got 54.5% of the vote, comfortably enough to avoid a runoff.
- Georgia Turnout: Georgia turnout was quite high; the 2 million people who showed up to cast
ballots (or who put ballots in the mail) are a record for a midterm. This has caused many commentators, mostly right-leaning
ones, to write op-eds (like
claiming that all the handwringing over Georgia's new election laws was grossly overblown.
We are of two minds here. On one hand, studies show that if people want to vote, they generally make it happen, regardless of roadblocks. Georgia may have been a demonstration of that. On the other hand, primaries tend to attract the most reliable and committed voters (and fewer of them, so less risk of dispiriting long lines). Let's wait until the general election, then, before writing "See? I told you so!" op-eds.
- Deja Vu All Over Again: The runoff in TX-28 between Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), who is as
centrist as it gets, and Jessica Cisneros (D), was a repeat of recent history in two ways. First, as with their matchup
in 2020, and with their first matchup this year, it is very close. With more than 95% of the votes reported, the incumbent
has 22,692 votes (50.2%) and the challenger has 22,517 (49.8%). So, it could go either way, especially since mail-in
ballots usually skew a little leftier than in-person ballots.
The other way in which this race repeats history is that the Democrats put their finger on the scale for the moderate, thinking them more electable, and it has progressive activists hopping mad.
Whichever Democrat ultimately wins the runoff will have their hands full in the general, as Cassy Garcia (R) looks to be a very strong candidate.
- Bourdeaux Takes a McBath: It was incumbent vs. incumbent in GA-07, thanks to
redistricting, and Rep. Lucy McBath (D) easily defeated Rep Carolyn Bordeaux, 63.0% to 30.7%. The district is very
blue, so McBath is safe until 2032, if she wants to stay on the job for that long.
- Two More Years. Sigh.: Many Republicans hate Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) because
she's constantly embarrassing the Party. Many Democrats hate her because she's a hateful person who dabbles in racism,
antisemitism, homophobia, etc., not to mention being pro-insurrection. There was some faint hope that Greene might be
forced into a runoff, and that maybe she might even lose that runoff, but not so much. She took 69.5% of the vote. That
strikes us as a total that will not inspire her to tone it down.
- Sic Transit Gloria Mundi: All good things, as the Romans were fond of reminding their
emperors, must come to an end. There are no more Caesars in power, or Khans, or Medicis, or Zhous, or Bourbons, or
Umayyads, or Roosevelts. And, as of Tuesday, no more Bushes. George P., the last member of that dynasty to occupy
political office, lost his runoff to AG Ken Paxton (R) by more than a 2-to-1 margin, 68.0% to 32.0%. Perhaps some member
of the family will rise again, but the Bushes really lack a constituency anymore. They are hated by many Democrats for
being too right-wing and they are hated by many Republicans for being too left-wing. There may be a state where a Bush
could still be elected, but it's probably not Texas or Florida, which is where most of them live.
Paxton will go on to face progressive Rochelle Garza (D). You can't like her chances in red, red Texas, but if she somehow gets Latino voters excited and/or if Paxton's legal problems flare up, you never know.
- Baby, It's Cold Outside: We do our best to keep our fingers on the pulse of American
politics. But we certainly can't do better than the locals, particularly when it comes to elections
as local as a House race. We got this report from reader C.R. in Rochester, MN, about the special primary there, and we
can't improve on it, so we thought we'd just pass it along:
I'm writing this on Tuesday night, as the results come in for the special primary election to replace Jim Hagadorn (R-MN), who recently passed away. I thought about waiting until the weekend (or, at least, until the race is called) to write, but if you're posting midweek letters in addition to Sunday mailbags, I decided I ought to get some thoughts out tonight. Since this is my neck of the woods, I thought I'd share my two cents about the candidates, the district, and what might happen come August (and November).Thanks, C.R.! And, at the moment, Finstad has 13,695 votes and Munson 13,268. That's a gap of 427 votes with 98% reporting and a possible recount looming, so either could still come out on top.
First, the schedule: after this special primary, we'll be back in the polling places again on August 9 to vote for today's winners and to simultaneously vote in our regularly-scheduled primary for the candidates for the November general election. So, whoever wins then will represent us for about 6 months before the winner of the general election takes over in January 2023.
The only serious DFL (Democratic-Farmer-Labor; the official name of the state Democratic party, and the reason Minnesota congresspersons are listed as "DFL-MN" instead of "D-MN" on all your finer cable news chyrons) candidate was Hormel CEO Jeff Ettinger, who is clearly modeling his campaign on former MN-01 representative and current Minnesota Governer Tim Walz (DFL): Be unthreatening, empathetic, and focus on economic issues. Ettinger's campaign has emphasized Hormel's growth during his tenure, and his work in corporate charity.
On the Republican side, as I write this, it's neck-and-neck between Brad Finstad and Jeremy Munson. Hagedorn's widow Jennifer Carnahan is in a distant third, and has no hope of catching either of those two. On Tuesday, (Z) speculated that she was the favorite, and a few months ago, she probably was. But since then, there has been an unending barrage of negative revelations about her, including from within her party. Many of these weren't new, but were inside-baseball enough that most voters didn't really know about them. I know that in a post-Trump world, it can be hard to believe that a politician can still be brought down by something as pedestrian as a sex scandal and workplace abuse, but anecdotally, the Republican-leaning voters quickly soured on her once they learned about the skeletons in her closet.
As for the two possible winners? Both have been emphasizing their Trumpian credentials, and both are clearly well funded; I've seen dozens of Finstad commercials touting how he served on Donald Trump's committee (as State Director for USDA Rural Development in Minnesota, which isn't exactly a cabinet-level position, but that's marketing), and dozens more ads from a "Protect Freedom PAC" which talk about how Finstad can't be trusted not to let Democrats steal the election from Trump again. No doubt whichever of the two wins will make at least some effort to tack to the center over the next few months, but coming into the primary they were both running hard to the right.
The district, as (Z) noted on Tuesday, is moderately Republican. Although the special election is being held under the 2010 maps while the general is being held under the post-redistricting ones, both old and new 1st District look about the same geographically and politically. MN-01 runs along the state's southern border, and in many ways is more like "stereotypical Iowa" than "stereotypical Minnesota" (think lots of corn, grassy fields, and a fairly old, fairly white, and fairly rural population). Those are all demographic trends that scream "Republican stronghold," but the DFL have remained at least somewhat competitive in recent cycles based on their performance in the various mid-sized cities—Mankato, Austin, Winona, etc.—and in Rochester, home to nearly a fifth of the district's population.
So, do the Democrats have a pickup opportunity here, or not? Well, (Z) described Ettinger as "not likely to win in November" (and presumably in August either, though primaries are always extra-wonky), and given both the demographics of the district and the prevailing political winds, I agree. However, if there's one thing that could make a difference, it's the Supreme Court striking down Roe vs. Wade. Rochester is home of the Mayo Clinic, which is the regional interest and by far the largest employer. If there's any district that's going to be swung by Democrats seizing on abortion rights, I'd think it'd to be one where the medical industry is so dominant. On the other hand, Ettinger isn't a great standard-bearer for a fiery anti-forced-birth campaign (he's a miquetoast white businessman whose campaign so far is emphasizing kitchen-table economics and "working for everyone," which is probably a good fit for the district, but maybe not for the moment), and Minnesota isn't a state likely to lose access to abortion providers right away, which could lead voters here to feel less urgency than in states with Republican-dominated legislatures and/or anti-choice laws still on the books. Still, if the liberal crowd is looking for hope, I'd say that's where it lies.
That's our take, 24 hours late. No elections next week, because of the Memorial Day holiday, and then on June 7 it's the only state that truly matters. In addition to California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota will also vote. (Z)
You knew it was coming, and now it has arrived. With close to 850,000 votes cast, the gap between Pennsylvania Republican U.S. Senate candidates Dave McCormick and Mehmet Oz is less than 1,000 votes, with Oz enjoying the slight lead. McCormick could have waived his right to a recount, but he did not, and so acting Pennsylvania secretary of State Leigh Chapman officially ordered it to commence yesterday.
The recount is done at the local level and, obviously, each county is a participant. The deadline is June 8, and several counties are expected to need the full time. Further, McCormick has a lawsuit in the works right now that aims to force the state to count undated mail-in ballots. So, this thing is going to drag out for several more weeks. That will give Democratic nominee Lt. Gov. John Fetterman some time to rest and recover from his stroke, which he is undoubtedly glad to have, before he has to get serious about campaigning. (Z)
Let's talk about bias a bit. Yesterday's post was, as we warned at the beginning, strongly worded. This item is also in that vein. However, we regard neither that nor this as a violation of our general preference to be evenhanded when it comes to politics. What we are criticizing today, and yesterday, and in the two a**hole pieces earlier this week, and in the third a**hole piece that will run tomorrow, is behavior rather than political viewpoints. When it comes to guns and the Second Amendment, there is no clear-cut right answer, particularly given the reality that the United States already has hundreds of millions of guns in circulation. But when one side of the political aisle says: "We clearly have a problem, and let's try to find a better way" and the other side dissembles, and gaslights, and distracts, and sticks its fingers in its ears? Then the latter faction is behaving badly, and we don't think it's bias to point that out.
In the case of the shooting that left 19 children and 2 teachers dead, the guilty party here (and we are using multiple meanings of that word) is the Republicans. There are certainly some strongly pro-gun Democrats out there, like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME). However, those folks have generally had the decency not to engage in cheap political trickery in order to distract attention from the tragedy. Yes, Manchin tapped the brakes on any sort of substantive reform, but at least he acknowledged that the shooting was a tragedy and that he'd like to see something done. Beyond that, however, the pro-gun Democrats have kept pretty quiet. Maybe it's because they're decent folks, or maybe it's because they know they are members of a party that, on the whole, isn't so keen on guns. After all, the last Democrat to have an "A" grade from the NRA was Rep. Collin Peterson, and he lost reelection by 14 points in 2020.
Now, let's talk about riots a bit. That may seem a non sequitur, but bear with us. (Z) has a lecture on urban riots in which he points out that there are half a dozen things that you will see in a city (and a country) in the lead-up to urban riots. In case you are interested, they are: (1) race/class tensions, (2) the outbreak of a war, (3) a high-profile miscarriage of justice, (4) a significant economic downturn, (5) lesser acts of violence preceding the riots and (6) unusually hot weather. With some riots, you can clearly see three or four of these. With some riots, you can clearly see them all. The 1943 Zoot Suit Riots, which is the focal point of the lecture in question, is in the "all six" category.
So, what does that have to do with anything? Well, once a shooting takes place, and once gun-loving political figures (i.e., Republicans) have launched their campaign of dissembling, distraction, and gaslighting, there are certain recurrent themes. Sometimes you only see some of them. Sometimes, you see pretty much all of them. The Uvalde shooting was particularly bad, and has Republicans very much on their heels, so we saw the full bag of trick yesterday. Here's a rundown, with examples. Note that we did not specifically try for a nice, round number, but we ended up with 10 nonetheless:
- Backhanded "Solutions": A backhanded compliment, of course, is an insult masquerading as a
compliment. And so, by "backhanded solutions," we mean pro-gun advocacy masquerading as a gun-control proposal. The
obvious example of this, whenever there is a school shooting, is "Let's arm teachers/station security guards in
schools!" The careful reader will note that this "solution" actually involves increasing the number of guns out there,
not controlling them, which means it's a "solution" that will thrill the NRA and the Second Amendment crowd. And the
person who put it out there yesterday was, as you might guess, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). After all, he's both incredibly
dishonest and he's been bought and paid for by the NRA. Anyhow, his
yesterday was this: "One of the things that everyone agreed is don't have all of these unlocked back doors. Have one
door into and out of the school and have ... armed police officers at that door."
Cruz is supposedly a genius. We say that because people who have actually interacted with him say it's so, although we have never seen much direct evidence of it ourselves (and remember, we're in the business of evaluating people's clarity of thought and expression). Anyhow, either he's being stupid here or he's being dishonest—you can decide for yourselves. Think back to where you went to high school. Could it be configured to have just one entrance, and absolutely no way an outsider could breach the grounds (say, by sneaking in a locked door when someone exits, climbing a fence, etc.)? We doubt that such a high school campus exists. Meanwhile, do you have any idea what the fire marshal would say if a high school had only one viable means of egress? Oh, and by the way: The school in Uvalde had an armed security guard, and he was unable to prevent the shooting. And you can be 100% sure Cruz is well aware of that fact.
- What're Ya Gonna Do?: This one's an oldie but a goodie. In this case, instead of proposing
B.S. solutions like the one from Ted Cruz, the argument is made that the solutions being proposed by the other side
couldn't possibly work, so they are not worth discussing. The "shrug" approach is so common that we could easily
have given you a dozen examples, if we had wanted to do so, but we'll limit it to two. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)
on CNN yesterday and suggested that banning specific kinds of guns wouldn't have any effect, since people would just use other
kinds of guns. And Megyn Kelly, who is apparently still on the air (who knew?)
went on her show
and demanded that listeners explain how background checks would possibly have prevented the Texas shooting from taking
place. We would observe that not enough is known about the Uvalde shooter to answer Kelly's question, and that
"background checks would not prevent all mass shootings, so why have them at all" sounds pretty dumb if you swap in some
other preventative measure, like "seat belts don't prevent all traffic fatalities, so why have them at all?" or "the FDA
screening process doesn't screen out all problematic prescription drugs, so why test new drugs at all?" or "the COVID-19
vaccine won't prevent all cases of COVID, so why get it?" Hm, wait a minute...
- Say Much, Say Nothing: The trick here is to say much about how distressed you are about the
incident in question, but to make sure to say zero about what you might do to address the problem. The 10th-degree black
belt jiu jitsu master of this technique is, of course, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and he put on a vintage
yesterday, calling the shooter a "maniac" and suggesting that the whole incident is "literally sickening." The Minority
Leader dodged any and all questions about what should be done, however. Well, actually, he did have one suggestion: "We
pray fervently that in the midst of this nightmare of grief, our heavenly father will make manifest to those families
his promise in Psalm 34: that the lord is near to the brokenhearted."
- It's in Jesus' Hands: That brings us to the next item on the list, which is invoking
Jesus. Christianity is, after all, the predominant religion in America among those who are religiously inclined. And
the Republican base is not only Christian, but has been steeped in a viewpoint that whatever happens in life is the
Lord's will. For example, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R-TX) appeared on the Lord's cable news channel yesterday, and
Laura Ingraham that what America needs to be doing here is turning to God. "For those of us who are Christians,
we need to take hold of our country and we do that through prayer," he declared. "You cannot change the culture of a
country without changing the character of the people, and you just cannot change character without changing a heart, and
you can't do that without turning to God." This is also something of a backhanded solution, as it has the effect of
promoting something that Patrick wants promoted, namely Christianity (or, really, theocracy). However, it's also
incredibly convenient, as it excuses the politicians from any responsibility for future shootings. After all, if they
keep happening, it means either that God wants it that way, or that Americans didn't embrace Him as much as they should,
Note, incidentally, that this is not a criticism of Christianity or of religion in general. It is a criticism of a particular, self-serving, cynical deployment of Christianity.
- From My Cold, Dead Hands: Again we're being extra frank today. That being the case, we
will observe that—let's be honest—some meaningful portion of gun owners are cowards. We don't have any idea
what the percentage is, and the ones who are cowards are undoubtedly frightened of different things. However, it
is certainly the case that for some gun owners—and, let's be honest again, this applies almost exclusively to male
gun owners—having lots of guns, or having big guns, or having a concealed gun makes them feel better about
themselves, and not so scared, and like maybe their penis isn't so small after all (OK, we're just speculating about
that last part). And folks like this, when they feel threatened, often puff up their chests and put on a "tough guy"
show. Our example from yesterday is state Rep. Randy Fine of Florida, who
delightful thought via Twitter:
I have news for the embarrassment that claims to be our President — try to take our guns and you’ll learn why the Second Amendment was written in the first place.— Rep. Randy Fine (@VoteRandyFine) May 25, 2022
We don't know how many readers know about Twitter ratios, but since replies to a tweet take more effort and are generally negative, whereas retweets and likes are low-effort and signal approval, it is generally a bad sign if the number of replies is greater than the number of retweets plus likes. And it's a really bad sign if the ratio is 2:1. As of the moment that we're writing this, the ratio on that tweet is worse than 3:1. Oh, and a helpful suggestion for Mr. Fine: Joe Biden commands the world's largest and most powerful armed forces. If he has reason to come after you, your tiny little weapon isn't going to do you one damn bit of good. And actually, you might just be getting a visit from some gentlemen who work for him, and who dress in nondescript suits and wear sunglasses and earpieces. If so, be ready for an... interesting chat.
- Find a Scapegoat: The closer a politician is to being responsible for a shooting, the more
eager they are to find someone else to blame. In this case the guy who is on the hot seat is Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX),
since he's the chief executive and the buck stops with him, and since he's vetoed every gun control measure that's come
across his desk, and since he's been rerouting money from the Department of Public Safety to performative truck
inspections at the border. So, he's working overtime to pass the buck right now; his current target is a favorite
whipping boy of many Americans, both Democratic and Republican: social media. The Governor
correctly, that the shooter posted messages to Facebook shortly before the shooting that, in retrospect, telegraphed
what he was going to do. However, the lead time was only half an hour at most, and Abbott has no answer for how the
social media platform is supposed to separate the real threats from the false alarms, and then take nearly instant
action. Recall also that Abbott is the man who signed a bill based on the notion that Facebook is like the phone
company, and should take no role in moderating content at all.
- Whataboutism: Greg Abbott did not content himself with merely pointing the finger at
Facebook. After all, it's a pretty hard argument to swallow, and he surely knows it. And if "It's not my fault, it's
[X]'s fault" is not working, then an alternative is "Hey, why are you picking on us? We're no worse than [Y]." And if
it's a red-state town or city from which attention is being deflected, then the obvious whataboutism target is a city in
one of the deep-blue states. In particular, the obvious target is either Chicago or New York City or Los Angeles, since
Republicans have spent decades, if not generations, cultivating the notion that those places are out-of-control war
zones where anyone who is walking down the street is taking their lives into their hands (the subtext, sometimes spoken,
sometimes not, is that the danger is almost entirely the responsibility of felonious minority gang members).
The upshot is that it was only a matter of time, and Abbott wasted no time in getting there. During a press conference yesterday, he declared:
Let's talk about some real facts. And that is, there are, quote, real gun laws in Chicago. There are, quote, real gun laws in New York. There are real gun laws in California. I hate to say this but there are more people who are shot every weekend in Chicago than there are in schools in Texas. We need to realize that people think, "well, maybe can just implement tougher gun laws," it's not going to solve it. Chicago and LA and New York disprove that thesis and so if you're looking for a real solution, Chicago teaches that what you're talking about is not a real solution.C'mon governor, don't be so obvious. Maybe mix it up and point the finger at Baltimore or Portland or Boston next time.
- Thanks, Obama: A similar strategy, in that it redirects anger toward a new target, is
to point the finger at a hated politician from the other party, in this case Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton would have
worked just as well, and in past eras it was Bill Clinton or Jimmy Carter or Lyndon Johnson or Harry S. Truman. But
yesterday it was #44. Trying to make him responsible for the shooting would be a tough sell, indeed, even for a political
base where many members are used to shutting down their critical thinking skills when needed. However, Obama did have
the (apparent) temerity to post
As we grieve the children of Uvalde today, we should take time to recognize that two years have passed since the murder of George Floyd under the knee of a police officer. His killing stays with us all to this day, especially those who loved him.— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) May 25, 2022
This does not seem problematic to us. On seeing the initial tweet, we interpreted as a comment on America's violence problem, and on the importance of activism. And indeed, Obama added several additional tweets expanding on those very thoughts. But right-wing media, which hates both Obama and George Floyd, went ballistic. For example, there was this from Matt Walsh, who works for the basically neo-fascist Daily Wire:
George Floyd was a violent criminal lowlife hopped up on fentanyl. The fact that you would compare his death to the slaughter of 20 children is just incomprehensible. My God you are a vile man. https://t.co/4kvcvIQa5S— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) May 26, 2022
It's possible that Obama's comment was out of line (for what it's worth, his Twitter ratio was 1:3, which is pretty good), and that we just don't see it. In any event, additional right-wing media types were jumping onto the thread all day long yesterday, which certainly makes it seem like they were looking for a convenient distraction. After all, "Can you believe what Obama said?" makes for a quick and easy hour of right-wing podcasting, talk radio, etc.
- Look Over There!: This is similar to "Thanks, Obama," because it's also deploying a red
herring. In this case, however, the point is not to channel existing rage about a politician from the other side of the
aisle, it's to call into question an entire narrative by focusing on some small flaw in that narrative. Our example here
courtesy of Kevin Williamson, who writes for National Review. Shortly after the Texas shooting, he published a
piece responding to a Slate piece about the Buffalo shooting. And in 1,000 very angry words, Williamson took exception
to the observation, made by Slate's Saul Cornell, that the guns of today are 200 times more powerful than the guns that
existed when the Second Amendment was adopted. The response piece uses a lot of technical lingo to make the case that
Cornell's claim is ludicrous, and that Cornell is an idiot. And the implication is that you can't really trust anything
the media says about mass shootings, either in Buffalo or in Uvalde.
Incidentally, Slate corrected the piece before Williamson's response even went live. As it turns out, today's guns are only 50 times more powerful than those of the 18th century. Totally changes the point being made, right?
- It's a Conspiracy: It wouldn't be today's America, or today's GOP, without at least a dollop
of bats**t craziness. And so it is that the false-flag conspiracy theories are already circulating. Taking the lead, as
he so often does, was Nutter-in-Chief Alex Jones,
who had this to say
on his program yesterday:
I don't want to say this was staged. But we have specifically said, with two years of our leading mass shootings, that with all the pre-programming, that mass shootings are coming, terrorists are going to attack and we have got to take the guns. Then I'm like, well I would predict a lot of mass shootings right before elections and like clockwork, it is happening. To me, it is just very opportunistic what is happening.Jones, of course, was sued and lost big-time for making such claims about Sandy Hook. We guess this is his version of being circumspect, in hopes of avoiding future legal action.
So there you have it (in a mere 4,000 words). We say again, we are taking no position on the gun-control debate, other than "the status quo isn't working." What we are railing against here is dishonest behavior and rhetoric. And we're cataloging things so thoroughly as a lead-in to the next item on the subject. The techniques we've listed here are deployed so frequently because they work—particularly on the Trumpy base, but also on some non-Trumpy Republicans, independents, gun-loving Democrats, etc. So, this piece gives some sense of what the Democrats are up against as they engage with this issue now and (potentially) through the rest of the election cycle.
We were actually going to look at the politica angle today, including how the Democrats are approaching the matter right now, and how they might do so in the next 6 months. But this post has already gotten pretty long, and that item is likely to be another 3,000-4,000 words. So, we'll hold it for tomorrow. As if we don't already have enough stuff backed up (i.e., a folder with links and/or notes for close to 400 items). (Z)
In answer to the question above, the first grade complaint arrived at 2:51 a.m. So, likely less than 10 minutes after the grades went live. It was the classic "I got an A-, can't you just bump me to an A?" request, which is always odd because they both count the same for GPA purposes.
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