Thursday, June 11, 2020

It’s Not Over

The pandemic of Covid-19 isn’t over.  It’s surging.

As restrictions are lifted around the world, the sense of urgency surrounding the novel coronavirus pandemic has weakened. Hundreds of millions of students have returned to school; restaurants, bars and other businesses are slowly reopening in many countries. In parts of Europe, vaccine researchers worry that they will not have enough sick people for testing.

But this historic pandemic is not ending. It is surging. There were 136,000 new infections reported on Sunday, the highest single-day increase since the start of the pandemic. There are more than 7 million confirmed cases so far. The number of deaths is nearing half a million, with little sign of tapering off, and global health experts are continuing to sound the alarm.

“By no means is this over,” Mike Ryan, the World Health Organization’s executive director, said Wednesday. “If we look at the numbers over the last number of weeks, this pandemic is still evolving. It is still growing in many parts of the world.”

[…]

U.S. states are seeing an increasing number of patients since Memorial Day weekend, when many people socialized in groups in parts of the country, while there are new concerns that the anti-racism protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis could add to a nationwide surge.

In the United States and elsewhere, the protests about injustice are partly fueled by the racial disparities seen in the outbreak. Protesters have attempted to maintain social distance and use masks and hand sanitizer — but that has not always proved possible.

Public health experts have expressed understanding about the protests. “It doesn’t help to say police violence doesn’t matter,” Gregg Gonsalves, a professor of epidemiology at Yale, told New York Magazine. “The health disparities that have killed tens of thousands of people over a half a century don’t matter. We are saying we understand it matters; they’re public-health issues too.”

But almost all experts acknowledge that mass protests are a risk — just as the reopening of the economy seen in many nations around the world, including the United States, carries risks. “The facts suggest that the U.S. is not going to beat the coronavirus,” the Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal and Robinson Meyer write. “Collectively, we slowly seem to be giving up.”

That demoralized attitude is reflected at the top of American politics: It has been more than a month since the Trump administration held a daily coronavirus task force briefing.

There are several reasons for this.  The first is that Trump, who never really paid attention to it in the first place or saw it as some kind of plot against his regime, has now just given up even the facade of doing anything about it.  The second reason is that most Americans saw it as something akin to a fad like the hula hoop or the Macarena and are now bored with it and want to get back to whatever it was that occupied them before all this happened last winter.  As Matthew Dalby noted on Twitter, “The one thing that wasn’t in pandemic disaster movies was people getting bored with the whole thing and ignoring it.”

Perhaps the most insidious reason this plague is still spreading and surging is the baseline of willful ignorance — “It’s no worse than the flu” — and rampant stupidity along with the other American pandemic, blatant racism.  As seen in this benighted elected official from the great state of Ohio:

A Republican Ohio state senator is under fire this week after asking if “African Americans or the colored population” have been disproportionately affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic because they “do not wash their hands as well as other groups.”

State Sen. Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City) raised the question Tuesday during a hearing on whether to declare racism a public health crisis. Huffman, an emergency room doctor, wanted to know why African American communities are being hit so much harder by the virus, posing the query to Angela Dawson, executive director of the Ohio Commission on Minority Health.

“I understand African Americans have a higher incidence of chronic conditions and that makes them more susceptible to death from covid. But why does it not make them more susceptible to just get covid?” he asked. “Could it just be that African Americans or the colored population do not wash their hands as well as other groups? Or wear a mask? Or do not socially distance themselves? Could that be the explanation for why the higher incidence?”

He later explained that he thought “people of color” and “colored people” were interchangeable terms.  Really.

The harsh reality is that this pandemic will end with effective vaccination.  But until then, following the guidelines that medical professionals have been telling us since the middle of March is the only way.  Unfortunately it’s all too abstract for people who really need to get their hair done and have an uncontrollable urge to share a swimming pool in the Ozarks, and it won’t hit home until it actually hits home.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

A Sense of Decency

I try to avoid commenting on the daily diarrhea that comes from Trump because it’s like trying to stop a sewer main leak with a cork.  But yesterday’s spewage is worth noting, not because of what he barked up but because of the response.

Trump sparked another uproar Tuesday with a tweet endorsing the baseless conspiracy theory that a 75-year-old protester in Buffalo, seen on video being pushed to the ground by police last week, could have been part of a “set up” coordinated by anti-fascist demonstrators.

Trump’s speculation — which originated on a conspiracy-theory website and was not supported by any evidence — came as the president is already struggling to manage both a deadly pandemic and racial unrest across the nation. The missive demoralized some aides and allies, who were frustrated if not particularly surprised by Trump’s latest incendiary suggestion.

In public, the GOP senators on Capitol Hill did a panic-stricken mass imitation of Sgt. Schultz (“I know nothing!  I see nothing!”) as they scurried by the media microphones.  In private, however, the realization that the shit had hit the fan on the day of George Floyd’s funeral, is sinking in.

The White House did not respond to requests for comment. But one White House official defended Trump, saying his tweet said only that Gugino “could be” an antifa protester and that some of Gugino’s social media posts seem sympathetic to that cause.

Among many of Trump’s allies, however, the reaction was one of overwhelming exasperation, with one outside adviser describing his tweet as “dumb” and “beyond stupid.” Aides and advisers believed that before the coronavirus pandemic and before Floyd’s death prompted national outrage, Trump had been making inroads with black voters and they viewed his latest controversy as another act of self-sabotage.

I am very sure that his die-hard defenders will stick with him, and I have no doubt that this moment, added on to the epic pile of outrageous crap he’s been fomenting since time out of mind, will soon be topped by more as the election draws inexorably closer.  But just as the murder of George Floyd became the one to finally break through our short-term memory lapse after so many other murders — Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin — this will be the one that we remember and remind others that sixty-six years to the day after Joseph N. Welch asked if we have no sense of decency, at long last we do.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Good Riddance

Via Daily Kos:

White supremacist Rep. Steve King’s 18-year career in the House came to an inglorious end on Tuesday after he lost the Republican primary to state Sen. Randy Feenstra in western Iowa’s 4th Congressional District. With 95% of precincts reporting (78,000 votes), Feenstra led by a wide 46-36.

King’s downfall came over a year after House GOP leaders voted to strip him of his committee assignments after he defended white supremacy in an instantly notorious interview with the New York Times. King, who had been a weak fundraiser for years, immediately rendered himself toxic to influential donors, allowing Feenstra to outspend him decisively. Third-party groups, including the deep-pocketed U.S. Chamber of Commerce, also spent heavily on ads portraying King as ineffective and unable to help Donald Trump without his committee posts.

Feenstra will take on 2018 Democratic nominee J. D. Scholten, who faced no primary opposition. Scholten held King to a surprisingly close 50-47 win last cycle and has once again raised large sums for his campaign, but he’ll have a very difficult time winning in a district that Donald Trump carried 61-35 against a Republican who lacks King’s considerable baggage. Daily Kos Elections rates this contest as Likely Republican, though we’ll be re-evaluating that now that King is out of the picture.

King’s defeat marks the end of the line for a man who was, until very recently, an extremely influential power player in Iowa. King was first elected in 2002 to Iowa’s most conservative House seat, which was numbered the 5th District at the time, and he soon emerged as one of the most sought-after endorsements in the state’s quadrennial presidential caucuses.

My estimation is that the seat will remain Republican, but at least it won’t be held by this virulent and ignorant racist.  Small steps.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

We’re On Our Own

Charles P. Pierce:

On Monday evening, the President* of the United States gave his first public remarks since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. He used it further to divide the country, to traduce the Constitution, and to declare war on citizens of whom he does not approve. A mewling tub of unresolved psychological flotsam, with the moldy stench of the bunker still clinging to him, thumping his bloated chest and threatening martial law while, just up the street, police and soldiers were deployed as special effects against peaceful protestors so this plump and odious little man could inflate his withered mushroom at the expense of a once-great republic.

Yeah, it was a bad moment.

We are not going to be unified. We are not going to be healed. He doesn’t have it in him, and it is not the purpose of his presidency. (That he’s apparently been chatting up Vladimir Putin while the United States falls apart is too perfect a plot twist.) It is not the basis of his campaign for re-election. The violence is the campaign. That is going to be how he runs for re-election.

If we are going to be unified, or healed, we’re going to have to do it ourselves. A thousand acts of individual citizenship. Military men and women who refuse unlawful orders from a lawless president. Law-enforcement officials who remember that they are first—and last—public servants. Politicians who respect their profession enough to do it fearlessly and well. Disciplined protest, day after day, from people who know the difference between governed anger and ungoverned rage, the difference between fearless speech and vandalism, and who remember the old axiom of the Black Panthers, that spontaneity is the art of fools. And, ultimately, millions of voters who force a return to first democratic principles, to crush this president* and the forces that worked over 40 years to make him not merely possible, but inevitable. We are all we have left.

This is as close to general martial law as we ever have been and, I fear, not as close to it as we’re likely to get. Because he is fundamentally a coward, he only threatened to use active-duty military for domestic law-enforcement, which is to say he only threatened to violate the Posse Comitatus Act, which is a crime, and he only threatened to invoke the Insurrection Act, which would be an escalation beyond anything in anyone’s experience, a signal for chaos beyond understanding, and something that, anyway, the law says he can’t do unless a governor asks him to do so. (Not that it matters, but these would be impeachable offenses.) He fumed and threatened and blustered and bellowed, a great pufferfish blown up with the gaseous resentments of two centuries. And then he walked across the street to St. John’s Church and held up a Bible. His hand did not burst into flame. There is no god.

He is a weak man trying to sound strong to the weak.

Monday, June 1, 2020

“Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks!”

From the Washington Post:

The Trump administration on Sunday intensified its effort to pin blame on the far-left “antifa” movement for violent demonstrations over police killings of black people, as the president vowed on Twitter to designate antifa a terrorist organization and Attorney General William P. Barr asserted that it and other groups’ activities constituted “domestic terrorism.”

Trump cannot, for practical and legal reasons, formally designate Antifa a terrorist organization, and neither he nor his attorney general have made public specific evidence that the far-left movement is orchestrating the fiery protests that have erupted in dozens of U.S. cities.

He might as well wage war against the tornadoes that ravage the Midwest every spring, declare floods to be illegal immigrants, and the wind that turns the turbines a national health hazard because spinning blades cause cancer.

This is a very transparent effort to divert attention from the disgraceful way his administration has responded to the situation in Minneapolis and everywhere else that police brutality and the disproportionate way minorities are treated by law enforcement. It does provide a convenient distraction from Covid-19 pandemic and the horrific number of dead thanks to his negligence and willful ignorance and deflection.  So threatening to label “Antifa” as a terrorist organization while tacitly approving of all the right-wing nutsery militia gangs that showed up at the Michigan statehouse waving their phallic symbols and stinking of stale cigarettes and cheap beer is just his way of distracting attention from the total clusterfuck that is his alleged administration.

At least King Lear had the good sense to know when to exit.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Do It, Mitch

Leonard Pitts, Jr. on Mitch McConnell.

Dear Mitch McConnell:

Why don’t you just go ahead and call Barack Obama the n-word?

You know you want to. It’d probably do wonders for your blood pressure. And it would free you from the tiresome charade of using coded language to say the same thing. It would also free the rest of us from having to listen.

Your latest vomitous spew came last week, after the former president criticized Donald Trump for the “chaotic disaster” of his response to the coronavirus pandemic in audio leaked from a private conference call with alumni of his administration. He didn’t mention Trump by name, but then, he didn’t have to. Chaos is Trump’s brand.

“I think President Obama should have kept his mouth shut,” you huffed in an online interview with a Trump campaign aide. “We know he doesn’t like much this administration is doing; that’s understandable. But I think it’s a little bit classless, frankly, to critique an administration that comes after you. … Generally, former presidents just don’t do that.”

But Obama is hardly the first ex-president to speak ill of his successor. Clinton did it, Bush the elder did it, Carter did it, Ford did it. Heck, Teddy Roosevelt called his successor and former friend, William Howard Taft, “a fathead with the brains of a guinea pig.”

And “classless?” You realize, don’t you, that Trump once said it was OK to call his daughter “a piece of ass?”

Point being, you are tying yourself in logical and rhetorical knots here, Mitch. Why not cut through the tangle? Why not say what you mean? Just call him the n-word.

It’s not like the rest of us don’t hear it already in your contemptuous tone. If one didn’t know better, one might think you were addressing a not-so-bright junior staffer who spoke out of turn in a meeting, not a president of the United States. Former GOP Chairman Michael Steele certainly caught your meaning, retorting on Twitter, “I’m sure Mitch is aware that a grown-ass black man who happens to be a former president has agency to speak his mind on how his successor is managing this crisis, especially since his successor has yet to ‘keep his mouth shut’ about him.”

Just say it, Mr. Majority Leader. Why not? After all, racial animus has been part of GOP DNA since the 1960s, when disaffected Democrats, horrified at the idea of African-American voting and civil rights, fled to your ranks. For decades, the party wooed them in coded language that hid its meaning behind a fig leaf of deniability. You said “law and order,” “welfare queens” and “Willie Horton.” You never said “n—-r.” Never had to.

Then Obama was elected. Panic surged through your party like an electric shock, and codes were burned like crosses, suddenly insufficient to express GOP apoplexy at this threat to white hegemony. Language that had been opaque suddenly became Windex clear as this Harvard-educated professor of constitutional law was dubbed a “street hustler,” a “subhuman mongrel,” an “uppity” “boy” with a fake birth certificate.

Trump has been a leader in this movement for rhetorical clarity. He’s dubbed Mexicans “rapists,” said Islam “hates us,” told four congresswomen to “go back” where they came from, called black and brown nations “shithole countries.”

So your disrespectful tone toward President Obama, earnest as it is, seems overly genteel and out of step with the moment. This is 2020, Mitch. In 2020, Republicans say what they mean and darn well mean what they say. So go ahead and call Obama the n-word. It would be offensive, yes.

But we both know it would be honest, too.

Oh, I have no doubt that Mitch has called President Obama the n-word, and out loud, too.  And he’s not the only one.  I can think of any number of Republicans who do as well.  The veneer of civility was obliterated during his term in office, and once they got out of earshot of microphones, there were no holds barred.  I heard several of my acquaintances do it, starting when Mr. Obama first ran for the presidency.  Any attempt to shame them was useless because they weren’t about to be denied their freedom of speech by a faggot.  Those people are the core of the Trump base, which is now indistinguishable from the Republican Party.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Armed And Dangerous

From the New York Times:

SHEPHERD, Texas — When Jamie Williams decided to reopen her East Texas tattoo studio last week in defiance of the state’s coronavirus restrictions, she asked Philip Archibald for help. He showed up with his dog Zeus, his friends and his AR-15 semiautomatic rifle.

Mr. Archibald established an armed perimeter in the parking lot outside Crash-N-Burn Tattoo, secured by five men with military-style rifles, tactical shotguns, camouflage vests and walkie-talkies. One of them already had a large tattoo of his own. “We the People,” it said.

“I think it should be a business’s right if they want to close or open,” said Mr. Archibald, a 29-year-old online fitness trainer from the Dallas area who lately has made it his personal mission to help Texas business owners challenge government orders to keep their doors shut during the coronavirus pandemic. “What is coming to arrest a person who is opening their business according to their constitutional rights? That’s confrontation.”

Call it the armed reopening.

It’s one thing when a bunch of ammosexuals rally in the middle of the desert to play summer soldier and defy the BLM over grazing fees.  But when the very breath you blast when you’re carrying on about “freedum” endangers the people around you, then you’re a danger to the community.  If you want to take the risk, go ahead.  The Constitution grants you the right to be a blowhard.  But it doesn’t give you or any of your Spell-Check-challenged projectors the right to endanger innocent people or the ones who are doing their job to keep the community and the country you say you love out of danger.

But go ahead and scream “Give me liberty, or give me death.”  The way you’re going, you’ll get both.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

I’m Still Not Voting For You

From the Washington Post:

Trump pushed to have his name printed on the economic stimulus payments the IRS is sending to tens of millions of Americans. Now he’s written a gushing letter to almost 90 million people, with his jagged signature in thick black pen.

The one-page letter, with one side printed in English and the other in Spanish, was required by the coronavirus economic package approved by Congress as a record of a deposit from the Treasury Department. The law does not say who should mail the letter.

If the money went to the wrong person, came in the wrong amount or didn’t arrive at all — all scenarios that have befallen taxpayers in recent weeks — the government is giving them proof of its intent.

But in classic Trump style, the letters now arriving in mailboxes across the country carry no shortage of brio, underscoring the president’s penchant for personalizing his administration’s response to the pandemic.

“My Fellow American,” begins the letter, on a copy of White House letterhead, arriving in an envelope from the Treasury Department and the IRS from Austin. “Our great country is experiencing an unprecedented public health and economic challenge as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic. Our top priority is your health and safety.”

“As we wage total war on this invisible enemy,” Trump continues, “we are also working around the clock to protect hardworking Americans like you from the consequences of the economic shutdown.”

Yeah, I got the money, But I’m still not gonna vote for him or listen to his sniveling minions, including the flaming sphincter Marc A. Thiessen, who claims, apparently with a straight face, that the lack of preparedness for the pandemic was the fault of Joe Biden and the Obama administration.  That’s because Joe Biden and the Obama administration has still been in office for the last three years.

I also got the letter with that crayon-scrawled signature from Trump.  I put it to good use: I used it to scoop up a dead cockroach and toss it in the trash.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Lessons Learned

Here’s a good article from CNN International about how four countries — Taiwan, South Korea, Iceland, and Germany — got their coronavirus response right.

Like a line of dominoes, country after country has been shut down by the novel coronavirus. Despite signs the threat was making its way across the globe, there was a clear pattern of response in many parts of the world — denial, fumbling and, eventually, lockdown.

In our globalized world, it’s puzzling that so few lessons were learned in the early weeks of each country’s outbreak, when the chances of containing and stopping the virus were highest. Now the focus is on flattening the curve, or slowing the virus’ spread, to keep death tolls from climbing further.

As much of the world mulls gradually lifting lockdowns, there are still lessons to be learned from these four places that got it right.

Another lesson we’re learning is that the folks who have been screeching about the sanctity of life and worrying endlessly about the unborn really don’t care about what happens to people once they’re born.  In fact, they’d rather let the old people die because it’s more important for the economy to reopen.  It’s a sick version of the old Jack Benny skit: when confronted by a mugger who demands “Your money or your life!”, Mr. Benny replies, “I’m thinking it over!”

Here’s one of those “pro-lifers”:

Reopening the economy is preferable to preventing a new wave of coronavirus deaths, a member of Congress from Indiana said Tuesday.

“It is policymakers’ decision to put on our big boy and big girl pants and say it is the lesser of these two evils,” Republican Rep. Trey Hollingsworth told radio station WIBC-FM of Indianapolis. “It is not zero evil, but it is the lesser of these two evils, and we intend to move forward that direction.”

There’s one simple fact of economics that he and his greedy bastards forget: it doesn’t do any good to reopen an economy if there’s nobody alive to buy things.

And then there are those rabid ight-wingers who are going out and protesting against strict social distancing orders.

Thousands of demonstrators descended on the state Capitol in Lansing, Michigan, on Wednesday to protest Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s restrictive stay-at-home order, clogging the streets with their cars while scores ignored organizers’ pleas to stay inside their vehicles.

The protest — dubbed “Operation Gridlock” — was organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition and the Michigan Freedom Fund, a DeVos family-linked conservative group. Protesters were encouraged to show up and cause traffic jams, honk and bring signs to display from their cars. Organizers wrote on Facebook: “Do not park and walk — stay in your vehicles!”

Many ignored the demand. Demonstrators, on foot, were seen waving American, “Don’t Tread on Me” and Trump campaign flags. At least two Confederate flags were spotted.

I don’t want to wish ill on anyone, but the more these useful idiots hang around out in the open with their like-minded friends, the more they’re going to get sick and probably die, thereby proving that Darwin was right.  And when they get sick, they’re going to be crying, with their labored breath, for free healthcare.  As for the rest of us, keep your distance.  Shawn Windsor in the Detroit Free Press:

For those who drove to Lansing out of fear of losing home and pantry, and stayed in their vehicles, that’s understandable. Let it out. Say your piece.

But for those who caravanned to the state capital to play militia? To wave a Confederate flag? To argue that social distancing is the gateway to the end of the Second Amendment?

Stop. Please. For your sake. For everyone else’s.

No one is coming after our guns. Or our right to protest. Or our right to affix a sign to our car comparing watching Netflix to prison.

We just can’t go pontooning. Or barbecuing with our neighbors. Or visit the pro shop at the local golf course.

You want to protest that?

Fine.

Next time stay in your vehicle. And wear a mask if you step out of it.

Stay safe, stay well, stay home.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Virtual Civics Lesson

Trump’s assertion that he has “total authority” to do whatever he wants as president got laughed out of the room by anyone who paid attention in their social studies class in Grade 7.  The Washington Post’s Fact Checker rated the claim as Four Pinocchios, the highest rating for lying that they have on their scale.

After declaring independence from Britain and shaking off the yoke of King George III, the Founders of the United States adopted a system of government in which power would be split between the states and a centralized federal government.

The federal government has enumerated powers that it cannot expand, but the state legislatures are free to adopt powers not explicitly forbidden by their constitutions or the U.S. Constitution, according to Robert F. Williams, an expert on state constitutional law at Rutgers University Law School in Camden, N.J.

The 10th Amendment says, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

James Madison wrote in the Federalist 45: “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.”

[…]

“The President has no formal legal authority to categorically override local or state shelter-in-place orders or to reopen schools and small businesses,” Stephen I. Vladeck, a University of Texas School of Law professor, wrote on Twitter. “No statute delegates to him such power; no constitutional provision invests him with such authority.”

The Supreme Court has reinforced the separate roles of the states and the federal government multiple times. The court ruled in 1992 that the federal government cannot force states to run federal programs, what’s known as the “anti-commandeering doctrine.” In 1997, a court majority ruled that parts of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act violated the 10th Amendment because it was a federal law requiring state and local law enforcement officials to conduct background checks on people attempting to purchase handguns.

Trump said at the briefing that “numerous provisions” in the Constitution gave him power over the states. The White House did not respond when we asked for an explanation.

The two-word answer is “states’ rights,” which has been invoked for good and for evil (maintaining segregation, for example), but it’s a basic tenet of our government.  The federal government actually does not have a lot of power over the states, so Trump’s claim is nothing new: it’s unadulterated bullshit and even people who knee-jerk support him know it.

I support the idea that any candidate for president be required to pass a high school civics final exam.  That would have saved us a whole lot of this.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

On Their Hands

From the Washington Post:

As governors across the country fell into line in recent weeks, South Dakota’s top elected leader stood firm: There would be no statewide order to stay home.

Such edicts to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, Gov. Kristi L. Noem said disparagingly, reflected a “herd mentality.” It was up to individuals — not government — to decide whether “to exercise their right to work, to worship and to play. Or to even stay at home.”

And besides, the first-term Republican told reporters at a briefing this month, “South Dakota is not New York City.”

But now South Dakota is home to one of the largest single coronavirus clusters anywhere in the United States, with more than 300 workers at a giant ­pork-processing plant falling ill. With the case numbers continuing to spike, the company was forced to announce the indefinite closure of the facility Sunday, threatening the U.S. food supply.

Then let’s be clear: every death from Covid-19 in South Dakota is on her hands.  And while I’m no lawyer, I’d like one to explain to me why she can’t be held responsible or even charged as an accessory to negligent homicide.   And while other governors have exercised their authority to order people to stay home, she’s basically giving it up, all in the name of “freedom” or some right-wing whack-job idea of states’ rights.

And then there’s this:

Trump declared Monday that he has “total” authority and “calls the shots” when it comes to deciding how and when to lift the pandemic restrictions and reopen the economy, even as governors on both coasts proceeded with their own plans and asserted their own powers.

The contrary approaches hinted at what could become a fractured response from state and federal officials in the coming weeks and months, marked by disagreements over who has the authority to dictate when, whether and how to begin the nation’s slow return to normalcy.

“The authority of the president of the United States, having to do with the subject we’re talking about, is total,” Trump said, adding, “The president of the United States calls the shots.”

Which is in direct contradiction of what his minion and sycophantic governor of South Dakota is saying.  Clash of egos?  More like clash of idiocy that will lead to more deaths and economic disaster.

An observation from John Cole at Balloon Juice:

Trump is looking like an insane person on tv, and most of you are probably thinking “so no different from normal.” And actually, no. He is looking more insane and more unhinged. And it is going to keep getting worse and worse. And there is a simple reason for that.

This is the first time in his life he simply can not bullshit his way through things. The last 75 years, every single time he has been in a pickle, he has been able to buy his way, bullshit his way, or make a deal out of the mess. He and daddy bought his way into schools and bought his way out of Nam. Daddy’s money got him a start in business. He was able to make deals with the mob and pay lawyers to shed liability on his failed real estate bids, he made deals with the Russians to funnel money to him through Deutsche Bank, he’s was able to bullshit his way through the election and bullshit his way through releasing his tax returns and pay off the women.

And finally, he has made it this far through his Presidency because he made a deal with evangelicals and the Republican base, that in return for some judges, shredding the environment, and throwing money at the rich while hating on minorities, they’d just sit quietly by and wear their MAGA hats.

But Trump can’t make a deal with coronavirus, and he has no control over it. No amount of bullshit or Russian money or ginned up racism is gonna keep people from dying. And he is finally starting to realize it.

This realization isn’t that he’s basically responsible for the sickness and death of thousands of Americans.  It’s the realization that it might cost him the election.  Period.  That’s all he cares about.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Distance Learning

Spain is lifting some of their restrictions on travel and reopening parts of their economy even as the pandemic still spreads in that country.  Right-wing whackos in Idaho are meeting in groups, ignoring the stay-at-home warnings in that state, claiming its just a left-wing conspiracy.  Trump and his minions are already chafing to get the country back open so that he can get out there and campaign for re-election.

But it’s not over by a long shot, and places like China where they thought the worst had passed are seeing a second wave of infections.

Human nature is such that if it’s not happening to us or those around us, it’s not happening.  If you’re not sick, no one is.  And if the authorities or institutions are taking precautions that inconvenience you, it’s just not fair.  So while we sit at home and figure out new ways to occupy ourselves, teach our children and do our jobs, it only hits home when we find out that our job is not coming back or a loved one or a friend somewhere has contracted the disease or worse, has died.

It’s ironic that one of the aspects of human nature is that we are quick to adopt a point of view based on an abstract idea — for example, same-sex marriage — and allow it to be exploited for political gain.  Hard-core conservatives won many elections in rural America by pointing at what was happening in a place like Massachusetts and warning their constituents that it could happen in their small town to the point that they would vote against their own interests to go along with them (“What’s The Matter with Kansas”).  The liberals are coming, they warned, and it worked.  But now we’re faced with a real threat, not some abstraction, and those same conservatives and their followers are ignoring or condemning the safeguards, claiming it’s all made up just to make Trump look bad.

No one really knows how this will end.  A vaccine is a year away, and mark my words, there will be a groundswell of lunatics who will campaign against it as more a danger than the disease itself.  (Darwin, do your stuff.)  But the longer human nature refuses to learn from what’s happened and is still happening somewhere else, the pandemic will continue, people will die, and even if we do eventually learn and adapt, the sad fact is that the first social gatherings we may be allowed to attend will be memorial services.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Even In A Time Of Crisis

Franklin Graham and his pharisaic Jesus-shouters can still be annoyingly and dangerously sanctimonious and full of hate.

The group building a makeshift tent hospital for coronavirus patients in Manhattan’s Central Park is asking all volunteers to read and follow a “statement of faith,” including rejections of same-sex marriage and abortion.

As the toll of the outbreak on New York continues to increase dramatically, Mount Sinai Health System has been working with the relief group Samaritan’s Purse to open a 68-bed respiratory care unit that will begin treating patients as early as Tuesday.

Praised by Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), the tent facility is one of several efforts to expand medical capacity across the city: A 350-bed facility is set to be erected at the Queens tennis arena home of the U.S. Open, while a temporary hospital has been constructed inside a Manhattan convention center.

Yet unlike the other projects, Samaritan’s Purse has asked all volunteers working at the field hospital — including health workers — to pledge to 11 declarations, Gothamist reports, including one that defines marriage as “exclusively the union of one genetic male and one genetic female” and another that says “human life is sacred from conception to its natural end.”

The Christian group was founded by Franklin Graham, a minister with a famous preacher as a father and a history of making incendiary comments, and has specifically sought out Christian medical staff for the tent hospital.

As some local lawmakers questioned whether LGBTQ patients would receive equal treatment, a spokesperson for de Blasio told Gothamist that the field hospital must adhere to Mount Sinai’s nondiscrimination policy.

“Our record on human rights is clear; and we are confident that the joint effort by Mt. Sinai and Samaritan’s Purse will save New Yorkers’ lives while adhering to the values we hold dear by providing care to anyone who needs it, regardless of background,” she wrote to the news blog.

In the middle of this plague, the last thing anyone needs is a bunch of superstitious hatemongers judging those who want to help.  Either let everyone who wants to help do their job or get the fuck out.

Meanwhile, Jerry Falwell Jr., who never misses a chance to fleece the flock with the same vengeance and mercilessness of his dead father, spreads not only his poisonous version of ancient fables, he’s spreading coronavirus along with it and supremely ironically proving the theory of both evolution and survival of the fittest.

LYNCHBURG, Va. — As Liberty University’s spring break was drawing to a close this month, Jerry Falwell Jr., its president, spoke with the physician who runs Liberty’s student health service about the rampaging coronavirus.

“We’ve lost the ability to corral this thing,” Dr. Thomas W. Eppes Jr. said he told Mr. Falwell. But he did not urge him to close the school. “I just am not going to be so presumptuous as to say, ‘This is what you should do and this is what you shouldn’t do,’” Dr. Eppes said in an interview.

So Mr. Falwell — a staunch ally of President Trump and an influential voice in the evangelical world — reopened the university last week, igniting a firestorm. As of Friday, Dr. Eppes said, nearly a dozen Liberty students were sick with symptoms that suggested Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. Three were referred to local hospital centers for testing. An additional eight were told to self-isolate.

As of 8 p.m. on March 29, of those three students tested, one was positive, one was negative and one student’s results are still pending, according to Dr. Eppes, who added that the student who tested positive for Covid-19 lives off campus.

“Liberty will be notifying the community as deemed appropriate and required by law,” Mr. Falwell said in an interview on Sunday when confronted with the numbers. He added that any student now returning to campus would be required to self-quarantine for 14 days.

“I can’t be sure what’s going on with individuals who are not being tested but who are advised to self-isolate,” said Kerry Gateley, the health director of the Central Virginia Health District, which covers Lynchburg. “I would assume that if clinicians were concerned enough about the possibility of Covid-19 disease to urge self-isolation that appropriate screening and testing would be arranged.”

After initial publication of this article, the university said it had asked four students who returned from the New York area and two of their roommates to self-quarantine, but none of them were referred for testing and none had symptoms. One student who returned from a county with a high number of cases was running a fever and had a cough. He was tested and elected to go home pending the results rather than self-isolate, the university said.

Of the 1,900 students who initially returned last week to campus, Mr. Falwell said more than 800 had left. But he said he had “no idea” how many students had returned to off-campus housing.

It’s one thing to feel sorry and hope for the best for the students at Liberty; they’re victims of both the coronavirus as well as the scam of religious bigotry.  But the people who willfully exposed them to it should be visited by as many plagues as their sky faerie can inflict upon them, and with dispatch.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

And He Kidnapped The Lindbergh Baby

Via C&L: Trump Blames Obama For His Botched COVID-19 Response.

Nothing really surprises me any more.  Nothing he has ever done is his fault.  Ever.

What I find ironic to the degree that Shakespeare or Sophocles would love is that Trump, a pathological germophobe, is having to deal with a crisis brought on by germs and spread by close human contact.  Not only does he not know how to deal with it because he doesn’t know how to run a government, it’s the kind of crisis that isn’t wrought by terrorists or a bunch of plotting hackers.  It’s brought on by a sneeze and there’s no effective vaccine for it.  It must be driving him into full-tilt panic mode.

He also had to really reach to find some way to blame it on President Obama when it was his administration that has been cutting CDC funding for global health security, most likely on his theory that who cares what happens in shithole countries, anyway?  Let ’em die.

I’m waiting for him to blame the attack on Pearl Harbor on Obama.  After all, wasn’t he born in Hawaii?  Oh, wait…

Bonus Track: Trump’s little minion, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL sigh), goes full middle-school fool with a gas mask on the floor of the House.  Well, as one Twitter post noted, as long as he’s wearing the mask, he can’t talk.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Some Statement

I think it says a lot about the state of our nation when there are headlines and BREAKING NEWS banners on TV about one senator bucking his party and actually voting to convict Trump because of the evidence presented to him as a juror at trial.

In the wider world, Mitt Romey didn’t do anything that would warrant a Jimmy Stewart/Frank Capra movie; it’s not as if he really put his job at risk, and while I applaud him for showing what today could pass for courage in the face of the shitstorm he’s wrought, it shouldn’t be amazing or stunning that someone did the right thing.  What it does tell us is that the rest of his party and their anvil chorus of hypocrites and sycophants in the Orcosphere lack the moral stability of a honey badger and that they have no more foundation for moral clarity than a pimp.

What is really pissing off Trump and his horde is the fact that Sen. Romney stole their “perfect” exoneration moment away; they can’t say that every single Republican stood with Trump, and worse, he became the story, not Trump’s victory waddle around the Rose Garden.  And while I have always found the people who justify their actions based largely on their religious convictions to be both boring and suspect, I have to say that Mr. Romney’s testimony of faith sounds suspiciously like he’s been reading Faith and Practice, the Quakers’ owners manual, by risking material and earthly gains to take a stand based on something more than just political considerations.  It’s not what you wear on your sleeve but hold in your heart that really matters.

Like most of these kerfuffles, it will be over in a week and I’m very certain that in November the state of Utah will be solidly behind Trump and that Mr. Romney will be re-elected when he’s on the ballot again.  But for one news cycle, we saw at least a vertebrate moment in what is usually a sea of Jello and blubbering cowardice and mendacity.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

State Of The Union

I heard about the first fifteen minutes or so because my housemate was watching — and yelling back at — it.  I haven’t heard that many lies and desperate attempts at wooing since the last ten minutes before last call at a singles bar.  I closed the door to my room and watched a re-run of “Law & Order.”

I did hear that Nancy Pelosi tore up her copy of the speech, explaining that it was the polite thing to do, considering the alternative.

Here’s the Democratic response delivered by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Your thoughts, impressions, and reactions, please.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

This Is What He Really Thinks Of You

So, for all of you patriots who carried on about how disrespectful Collin Kaepernick was for taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem; all of you who issued death threats and basically ended his NFL career: what are you going to do about this?

Trump has repeatedly said all Americans should “stand proudly” during the national anthem, and publicly chastises those who don’t as disrespectful of the troops and the flag.

But during the national anthem at his own Super Bowl watch party Sunday night, a brief video posted to Instagram shows Trump greeting guests, adjusting his chair, and straightening his suit jacket as other attendees — including first lady Melania Trump and their teenage son — stand with their hands over their hearts. As “The Star Spangled Banner” crescendoes, Trump raises both of his hands in the air, and twirls them around as if conducting the music.

The video was included in an Instagram story by a real estate agent for a Russian-American firm who frequents Mar-a-Lago and other Trump properties and events.

Trump entered his party at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach as Demi Lovato was introduced to sing the national anthem at Hard Rock Stadium, videos of the moment show. It’s unclear from the video of Trump “conducting” whether the anthem you hear is Lovato, projected on screens around the room, or if a live performer is singing at the club.

(The video appears flipped,or mirrored, likely because it is an Instagram video recorded with a phone’s selfie camera. That is why Melania Trump appears to have her left hand across her chest and there is a backward numeral 4 in the video. The Herald chose to retain the original orientation as it was posted on the social media site.)

It will be interesting to see how the White House explains why Trump behaved like a fidgety four-year-old when everyone else seemed to understand the moment and very good chance that someone would be recording it.  I’ll be waiting to hear how this is nothing at all like Mr. Kaerpnick’s moment, and they’d be right: his was a silent and unobtrusive action that could even be interpreted as respectful; a lot of people kneel to pray.  And I’ll be waiting to see how they respond when the White House tells us it’s all a hoax, fake news, and that wasn’t really him.

But it was him.  It was the real Trump.  He’s been playing his base like the gullible fools he truly believes they are and getting away with it, just as he did with the Access Hollywood pussy-grabbing tape.  He knew that would not hurt him; in fact, it probably helped with the Truck-Nutz crowd and the women who enable them.  So this is nothing new; this is really him, and this shows you of the 40% base who will forgive him for anything — racism, misogyny, extortion, rampant corruption — exactly what he thinks of you: that you’re pigeons ready for the plucking.

So, MAGAtroids, pluck you.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Historical Perspective

In a fit of gallows humor during the last election-induced panic about undocumented immigrants, I remember suggesting that the Trump people were taking bids on boxcars to ship them out, reminiscent of a certain period in the 20th century.

Turns out it wasn’t a joke.

Stephen Miller also shared an article from extremist-friendly conspiracy website WorldNetDaily arguing that immigrants should be shipped out the country on trains as a scare tactic.

Not so funny any more.

Imagine Jerry Lewis As The Godfather

Via the Washington Post:

New materials released by House Democrats appear to show Ukraine’s top prosecutor offering an associate of President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, damaging information related to former vice president Joe Biden if the Trump administration recalled the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

The text messages and documents provided to Congress by former Giuliani associate Lev Parnas also show that before the ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, was removed from her post, a Parnas associate now running for Congress sent menacing text messages suggesting that he had Yovanovitch under surveillance in Ukraine. A lawyer for Yovanovitch said Tuesday that the episode should be investigated.

The cache of materials released by House investigators late Tuesday exposed a number of previously unknown details about efforts by Giuliani and his associates to obtain material in Ukraine that would undermine Trump’s Democratic opponents.

Their emergence on the eve of the Senate impeachment trial spurred Democrats to renew calls for the White House to turn over documents related to the Ukraine pressure campaign that it has refused to share with Congress.

Yeah, you read that right.  They were hatching a scheme to take out the ambassador.

This all sounds like a very bad mix of drunken spitballing at a writers’ room conference between the team at “Scooby-Doo,” rejections from Rocky and Bullwinkle, and going through the trash looking for the next blockbuster from David Spade or Tom Arnold.  No, this does not rise to the level of Monty Python or Mel Brooks.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Sunday Reading

The Real Backstory — John Cassidy in The New Yorker.

The Trump-Iran story continues to develop in alarming ways. On Thursday, reports that Western governments believe Iranian military forces mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet, killing a hundred and seventy-six passengers and crew members, produced a predictably divided reaction. “Innocent civilians are now dead because they were caught in the middle of an unnecessary and unwanted military tit for tat,” Pete Buttigieg, the Democratic Presidential candidate, said, on Twitter, immediately drawing cries of outrage from Trump supporters who insisted that Iran was entirely responsible. Iran’s government dismissed the reports as disinformation. But, if it does turn out that the Iranian military made a terrible blunder amid the frightening escalation in long-running tensions between Tehran and the Trump Administration, it will be ever more imperative to get a full account, not only of that blunder but also of the escalation.

On that subject, more disturbing details are emerging by the day. The picture we are getting is of the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and Vice-President Mike Pence both egging on an impetuous President to launch the January 2nd drone attack that killed the Iranian military commander Qassem Suleimani at Baghdad International Airport. None of Trump’s other senior political or military advisers, meanwhile, appear to have urged restraint, despite the near-certainty that the move would inflame the entire Middle East and provoke reprisals. Any deliberative policymaking process appears to have been replaced by a combination of belligerence, toadyism, and saluting the Commander-in-Chief.

In the aftermath of Suleimani’s death, members of the Trump Administration claimed that Suleimani, who held great sway over Iran’s regular and irregular forces, was plotting an imminent attack that could have killed hundreds of American service members. Pompeo said, “We had deep intelligence indicating there was active plotting to put American lives at risk.” Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday, “We did it because they were looking to blow up our embassy.”

The Administration didn’t present any evidence to back up these assertions. On Wednesday, when it finally briefed Republican legislators about the rationale for the Suleimani killing, two senators—Mike Lee, of Utah, and Rand Paul, of Kentucky—walked out of the meeting and publicly trashed the material that had been presented. “I didn’t learn anything in the hearing that I hadn’t seen in a newspaper already,” Paul told reporters. “None of it was overwhelming that X was going to happen.” Lee was even more scathing. Outraged by suggestions from the briefers that Republican senators would be “emboldening Iran” if they even debated the wisdom of further U.S. military actions, Lee called the session “probably the worst briefing I have seen, at least on a military issue, in the nine years I’ve served in the United States Senate.”

Meanwhile, Pence fell back on an old evasive tactic: claiming that the Administration did have real and convincing intelligence to justify the missile strike, but saying that it was too sensitive to be revealed, even in a private briefing on Capitol Hill. “We’re simply not able to share with every member of the House and Senate the intelligence that supported the President’s decision to take out Qassem Suleimani,” Pence told Fox News. “I can assure your viewers that there was—there was a threat of an imminent attack.”

Detailed reports from a number of different media outlets, as well as statements by Iraqi officials, tell a very different story. Just two days after the strike, the Times’ Rukmini Callimachi, in a Twitter thread, cited sources, “including two US officials who had intelligence briefings after the strike on Suleimani,” who said the evidence of an imminent attack was “razor thin.” In the Times itself, a tick-tock account of the decision to kill Suleimani quoted a U.S. official who described the Iranian’s visit to Damascus and Baghdad over the New Year as “business as usual.” Last weekend, Adel Abdul Mahdi, the Prime Minister of Iraq, told the parliament in Baghdad that Suleimani was scheduled to meet him on the day he was assassinated, adding that the general was bringing a response to efforts to mediate the showdown between Riyadh and Tehran. “He came to deliver me a message from Iran responding to the message we delivered from Saudi Arabia to Iran,” Mahdi said.

Pompeo subsequently mocked this claim, saying, “We’ve heard these same lies before.” The fact that Suleimani was met at the Baghdad airport by the head of the pro-Iranian militias inside Iraq, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who was also killed by the missile attack, suggests that he may have had other reasons for his visit. But, eight days later, it remains true that the Trump Administration hasn’t provided any evidence that a large-scale attack was imminent. By the time Suleimani arrived in the Iraqi capital, the violent protests outside the American Embassy had ended, and Iraqi forces had re-secured the heavily fortified Green Zone, within which the Embassy is located.

Also, more details are emerging about the roles played by Pompeo and Pence in the decision to assassinate Suleimani. Pompeo and Pence “were two of the most hawkish voices arguing for a response to Iranian aggression, according to administration officials,” the Times reported, a couple of days after Suleimani’s death. “Mr. Pence’s office helped run herd on meetings and conference calls held by officials in the run-up to the strike.”

On Sunday, the Washington Post, citing a senior U.S official, reported that “Pompeo first spoke with Trump about killing Suleimani months ago … but neither the president nor Pentagon officials were willing to countenance such an operation.” On Thursday, CNN’s Nicole Gaouette and Jamie Gangel reported that “Pompeo was a driving force behind President Donald Trump’s decision to kill” the Iranian general. The CNN story said that Pompeo, who was the director of the Central Intelligence Agency under Trump before he moved to the State Department, viewed Suleimani as the mastermind of myriad operations targeting Americans and U.S interests. It also quoted an unnamed source close to Pompeo, who recalled the Secretary of State telling friends, “I will not retire from public service until Suleimani is off the battlefield.”

We are also learning more about the roles that other senior members of the Administration played in the process that led to the drone attack on Suleimani, including Gina Haspel, the current director of the C.I.A. “In the days before General Suleimani’s death, Ms. Haspel had advised Mr. Trump that the threat the Iranian general presented was greater than the threat of Iran’s response if he was killed,” the Times reported on Wednesday. “Indeed, Ms. Haspel had predicted the most likely response would be a missile strike from Iran to bases where American troops were deployed, the very situation that appeared to be playing out on Tuesday afternoon.”

On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal, in yet another lengthy account of the Administration’s decision-making, reported that all of Trump’s top advisers, including “new Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley and new national security adviser Robert O’Brien … backed the president’s decision to kill the top Iranian military commander and moved swiftly to carry it out. The new team was cohesive and less inclined than its predecessors to push back against the president’s wishes, according to administration officials and others consulted by the White House.”

Not that Trump needed much encouragement, it seems. “In the five days prior to launching a strike that killed Iran’s most important military leader, Donald Trump roamed the halls of Mar-a-Lago, his private resort in Florida, and started dropping hints to close associates and club-goers that something huge was coming,” the Daily Beast reported, quoting unnamed people who had been at Trump’s resort over the New Year. “He kept saying, ‘You’ll see,’ one of the sources recalled, describing a conversation with Trump days before Thursday’s strike.” We did see, of course, and the reverberations are far from over.

Tucker Carlson Is Still A Jerk — Frank Bruni in the New York Times.

Suddenly you’re digging him. At least a little bit. I know, I’ve seen the tweets, read the commentary, heard the chatter, detected the barely suppressed cheer: Hurrah for Tucker Carlson. If only we had more brave, principled Republicans like him.

Right out of the gate, he protested President Trump’s decision to kill Qassim Suleimani, the Iranian military commander, noting that it didn’t square with the president’s determination not to get bogged down in the Middle East and warning of the possibility and horror of full-blown war. Your pulse quickened. You perked up.

He sounded that same alarm on his next show and the show after that. Every night at 8 p.m., he worried about the bellicose itch of our leaders. When all around him on Fox News were playing their usual roles (indeed, his usual role) as masseurs for the president’s tender ego, he administered slaps, hard ones, the kind that leave angry red handprints. Ouch — and don’t stop.

You rejoiced. It’s one thing when Democrats challenge what looks like a rush to war by a Republican president. It’s another when typically fawning members of his own party do.

And while Carlson was hardly alone in his rebellion — three House Republicans voted with Democrats to check the president’s war-waging authority and, over in the Senate, Mike Lee and Rand Paul raised a dissident ruckus — no one else had his ardor, his articulateness, his megaphone.

Carlson to the rescue!

Oh, please.

The fascination with him is itself fascinating, for many reasons. Can you recall a modern president before Trump whose moods and movements could be reflected and predicted simply by watching one news organization and, for that matter, just a few of its offerings? In lieu of a normally functioning White House communications department or a press secretary who holds actual press briefings (what a thought!), we have “Fox & Friends” in the morning and Carlson’s and Sean Hannity’s shows in the evening.

They don’t chronicle this presidency. They shape it, not just in terms of the volume of their applause for Trump, who craves the loudest possible clapping, but in terms of actual interactions. Carlson — like Hannity and another Fox fixture, Lou Dobbs — has in fact advised him behind the scenes.

Hence the rapt reaction to Carlson’s antiwar jeremiads. They may well matter.

Also, those of us who regard Trump as a menace can be so eager — too eager — to welcome newcomers to our shores that we overlook the polluted seas they sailed to get there. In a recent moment on the ABC talk show “The View” that was awkward at best, Joy Behar announced excitedly that the prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer had just disavowed Trump because of Iran.

Carlson, mind you, has not disavowed Trump. In fact he performed semantic acrobatics to denounce America’s military maneuvers against Iran without precisely blaming Trump. Those slaps I mentioned landed more forcefully on the administration in general than on the man-child at its apex, who is, in Carlson’s tortured rendition, a gullible marionette, his strings pulled by inveterate, habitual warmongers. If these profiteering elites would just let Trump be Trump and train his wrath on Mexicans instead of Iranians, a great presidency would get its groove back.

During his Tuesday show, Carlson performed political jujitsu and held two of the president’s principal Democratic adversaries responsible for exacerbated tensions with Iran. Referring to the Washington establishment and singling out Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, he said, “These are people who have been basically advocating for a kind of war against Iran for an awfully long time.”

“It’s infuriating,” he added. “It’s because of Schumer and Pelosi and people like them that we got into Iraq in the first place.”

Come again? A Republican president, George W. Bush, urged and oversaw the invasion of Iraq, and while Schumer authorized it, Pelosi voted against it, as did many more Democrats than Republicans.

And Carlson’s portrait of Trump as puppet contradicts reporting from The Times and other news organizations that some Pentagon officials were stunned when the president ordered the strike against Suleimani, a measure more extreme than other options presented to him.

Carlson remains true to Carlson: selective with facts, slanted with truths and — this is the most important part — committed to his vision of America as a land imperiled by nefarious Democrats and the dark-skinned invaders they would open the gates to if not for sentries like him and Trump.

As Matt Gertz of Media Matters perceptively noted, Carlson’s antiwar stance “is not a break from his past support for Trump or his channeling of white nationalist tropes, but a direct a result of both.” Gertz explained that in the mind-set of Carlson and many of his fans on the far right, energy spent on missions in another hemisphere is energy not spent on our southern border. It’s no accident that, in regard to the Middle East, he and Spencer are on the same page.

Following Suleimani’s death, Carlson asked his audience, “Why are we continuing to ignore the decline of our own country in favor of jumping into another quagmire?”

Carlson is defined not by a bold willingness to check Trump’s excesses or ugliest impulses but by his indulgence — no, his fervent encouragement — of those impulses as they pertain to racism and immigration. On those fronts, Carlson himself grows ever uglier, as my colleague Farhad Manjoo and others have noted. It’s why many sponsors have defected from Carlson’s show.

Carlson repeatedly uses variations of the word “invasion” to characterize migrants from Central America. He insists that “white supremacy” is a fiction, a hoax. He has used language that buys into and promotes “replacement theory” — a far-right fixation on the idea that declining birthrates among whites will cause a nonwhite takeover — and recently castigated immigrants for litter along the Potomac River.

Just last month he gave precious time on his show to an obscure Republican congressional candidate in North Carolina, Pete D’Abrosca, who has warned white Americans that they’re “being replaced by third world peasants.” D’Abrosca has also bragged of his support from the “groyper army,” a far-right group with more than a whiff of anti-Semitism.

Is Carlson himself abetting hatred of Jews? In a rare point of agreement, some Jews and white nationalists believe so, pointing to an on-air rant last month in which he bashed a Jewish billionaire, Paul Singer, by comparing him unfavorably with Henry Ford, who owned a newspaper that ran a lengthy series alleging a Jewish plot to dominate the world.

“The Fox News host goes full anti-Semite,” wrote Tablet, a Jewish publication, while Mike Enoch, who rallied with the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Va., said on his podcast, “If you didn’t catch the German shepherd whistles where he praised Henry Ford and then went into a diatribe of a Jewish financier, you know, I don’t know what universe you’re existing in.”

So that’s some of what Carlson was up to just before he turned his attention to Iran.

How warm and fuzzy are you feeling toward him now?

In other words, he’s Pat Buchanan without the charm.

Doonesbury — Having the vapors.