Tweet from The Bulwark:
Andrew Wehrman @ProfWehrman
In April 1903, the secretary of the Minneapolis Anti-Vaccination League died of smallpox after claiming that the disease was not contagious.
I’m finding it impossible to fend off a manifestation of unbridled glee at the misfortune of the man who tried to blame immigrants for the COVID problems in Texas.
From Esquire, by Charles P. Pierce:
I’m exhausted from fighting off a virulent attack of schadenfreude that I caught reading the news from Texas late Tuesday afternoon. From the Austin American-Statesman:
The Republican leader, who is fully vaccinated, was asymptomatic after testing positive and is receiving Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody treatment while isolating at the Governor’s Mansion, said Abbott spokesman Mark Miner. “As you may have heard by now, I have tested positive for COVID-19,” Abbott said in a video posted to Twitter late Tuesday. “I have received the COVID-19 vaccine and that may be one reason why I’m really not feeling any symptoms right now. I have no fever, no aches or pains, no other types of symptoms.”
Miner said in a statement that “everyone that the Governor has been in close contact with today has been notified.”
Abbott made a public appearance one day prior to testing positive, when he spoke at an event in Collin County. Photos posted to social media show that he mingled freely with the mostly unmasked crowd to shake hands and pose for pictures.
I really hope he stays asymptomatic. Truly, I do. I’m glad that he’s able to afford the gold-plated treatment because he’s philosophically opposed to the cheap preventative that you can carry in your pocket, and that is handed out gratis at any hospital. (OK, I’m not that glad.) But I’m finding it impossible to fend off a manifestation of unbridled glee at the misfortune of the man who said, according to CNN:
The dramatic rise in unlawful border crossings has also led to a dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases among unlawful migrants who have made their way into our state, and we must do more to protect Texans from this virus and reduce the burden on our communities.
This was an unforgivably foul attempt to marry conservative anti-science with conservative racial bigotry, and it was exactly what wasn’t needed at this time in that place. And now this guy is testing positive. Sorry, but I’m getting a karmic chuckle out of that.
From Esquire, by Charles P. Pierce:
Now Texas has botched its way into a fourth wave.
What a Texas hero this guy is. Sam Houston must be so proud. From US News:
The Republican governor has directed the Texas Department of State Health Services to use staffing agencies to find additional medical staff from beyond the state’s borders as the delta wave began to overwhelm its present staffing resources. He also has sent a letter to the Texas Hospital Association to request that hospitals postpone all elective medical procedures voluntarily. Hospital officials in Houston said last week that area hospitals with beds had insufficient numbers of nurses to serve them.
Greg Abbott is one of those guys who not only refused to initiate common-sense pandemic precautions, but also signed a law that made it actually illegal for other authorities to mandate them.
The governor is taking action short of lifting his emergency order banning county and local government entities from requiring the wearing of masks and social distancing to lower the COVID-19 risk. Abbott has said repeatedly that Texans have the information and intelligence to make their own decisions on what steps to take to protect their health and the health of those around them.
They’re begging doctors to come to Texas while they have to ship sick people out.
Last week, Houston area officials said the wave of delta variant infections so strained the area’s hospitals that some patients had to be transferred out of the city, with one being sent to North Dakota.
You find yourself passing out and four weeks later, you wake up in Bismarck, looking out your hospital window at two missile silos and a snowmobile shop. Modern medicine at its finest.
Seriously, what if you are a particularly selfless medical professional, and you make the very risky career choice of going to Texas to help out, and a worried mom from one of the real freedom-loving communities where nobody can tell anyone else what to do comes to you and asks how to keep her kids safe at school. What do you tell her? Move to Vermont?
Greg Abbott ranks behind only Ron (Prince Variant) DeSantis as far as elected comorbidities go. And now, having botched his state into a fourth wave because, as it turns out, Texans needed a little help making their own healthcare decisions, Greg Abbott is calling out for help from his fellow citizens who live in Smart Personland. Freedom’s just another word for, Lord, you’re a dope.
Satire from The Washington Post, by Alexandra Petri:
You may have some questions about the newly announced Trump card! Well, I have answers!
What can I use my Trump Card for?
If I play my Trump Card in a game, do I automatically win the game?
Absolutely not, but it will allow you to say that the game was rigged against you and call the entire premise of the game into question. This is what is meant by winning.
What benefits do I get with my Trump Card?
A Trump Card!
Can I use my Trump Card to pay for things?
You can certainly try! Then when it isn’t accepted as a form of payment on the grounds that it is “some random card that has Donald Trump’s signature on it and a creepy picture of an eagle, not a valid credit card,” you can complain that you are being discriminated against for your political beliefs and create lots of problems.
The eagle looks kind of . . . Third Reich-y?
This is a simple misunderstanding! Just one of a series of isolated, totally spontaneous Trump-adjacent design mistakes that have been happening consistently without fail for the past five years!
One of the four designs for the card misspells the word “official.” Is the typo intentional?
The typo is proof of your card’s authenticity!
Does the card have any value?
The value of a Trump Card, like the value of Donald Trump himself, fluctuates from day to day, depending on how he is feeling. It is important that Donald Trump be kept happy so that your card will retain its maximum value.
Can I use my Trump card as a vaccine passport?
You haven’t been following the news very closely, have you?
Will my Trump card ward off disease and ill humors?
You are free to believe that it can! Start a Facebook group!
Is this a non-fungible token?
In the sense that it is something whose value I don’t understand and which I hope never to acquire, yes.
Can I use this to rent videos?
You can use it to really encourage YouTube’s algorithm to start showing you some questionable things!
Can I use this to check out books?
Does the Trump card give me membership in anything?
The confraternity of People Who Have Trump Cards.
Can I use it to get into places?
Any sufficiently stiff card can be used to open certain locks! This card, and $200,000, can get you into Mar-a-Lago!
Will this card work as an ID at airports?
Again, you can certainly try, and then get upset when it doesn’t work!
Does this work as a voter ID?
If Trump gets his way, it will be the only thing that does!
From The Bulwark, by Amanda Carpenter:
If you’re waiting to read the Cyber Ninjas’ report about Maricopa County’s election counts to find out what happens next in Donald Trump’s rigged election narrative, don’t bother.
The sham audit itself is the endgame. The audit, which began on April 23, was supposed to end by May 14. Now, nearly two months after blowing past that deadline, a spokesman says people shouldn’t expect anything until August. But, really, who knows when, or if, it all will ever end.
It’s not like anyone in MAGA land is in any hurry to call curtains on the big show. That’s because the performance, as incompetent as it is, is the point. It’s what’s keeping Trump’s election delusions alive and well; not what will prove or disprove whether the fantasy has merit. The play’s the thing.
Besides, haven’t they already won, on some level? It’s not every day a couple of partisans are able to seize millions of ballots and a bunch of expensive election equipment to put on a big, months-long show at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Everybody came, too. Politicos, reporters, elected officials. MAGA propagandists are still capitalizing on all the free content. And donations keep pouring into the coffers of Trump-adjacent grifters all around. Why end it now?
The auditors haven’t even drafted a report and already, there’s lots of breathless talk from MAGA land about taking the show on the road to Pennsylvania. The dominos are falling, just as the prophecy foretold!
Arizona GOP Chairwoman Kelli “Stop the Counting” Ward couldn’t be happier. “It is good to know that the Arizona audit is already inspiring others to take important steps to ensure election integrity,” she said in a video on Friday. “Even before its completion, the Arizona audit, America’s audit, is bearing good fruit.”
Joy! The sequel is being planned before the first release even wraps its maiden run! Election Integrity Forever!
There are plenty of financial, legal, and political costs associated with the spectacle, none of which seem to worry the audit’s proponents much. They’re having too much fun.
They’re not concerned about sticking Arizona taxpayers with the bill for voting equipment that will need to be replaced at a yet-to-be-determined cost. They’re not thinking about the implications of using private funds to finance what was billed as a public, government-run enterprise before spiraling into bamboo-sniffing, Cheeto-dust-hunting ridiculousness. The Department of Justice has warned about possible legal exposure that Arizona Republicans have for violating federal laws requiring the preservation of election records. But that hasn’t slowed them down, either.
More than likely, the audit will damage the Republican brand even further in the critical swing state of Arizona, where it lost both its marquee races—the presidency and U.S. Senate—in 2020. A recent Bendixen & Amandi International poll found roughly half of Arizona voters oppose the recount effort and that the “intensity of opposition to the audit exceeded the intensity of support, with those strongly opposed to it outnumbering those strongly in favor by 5 percentage points.”
Considering that Maricopa County delivers about two-thirds of Arizona’s votes, someone ought to start writing a political thriller for 2022. Title it: “Backlash.”
There’s about as much chance of the Arizona audit producing anything that resembles a credible report as there is George Strait selling an oceanfront property there anytime soon.
Karen Fann, the Republican president of the Arizona Senate, who is—as I explained here last week—one of two people solely responsible for the audit, already gave the game away. “Contrary to what you see and what you hear, I have said from Day One, I have never, ever said there was fraud,” she recently told the Arizona Republic. “This was about election integrity.”
Ah, yes. “Election integrity” again. What a magical phrase.
It’s what MAGA lawyers, activists, elected officials, and insurrectionists alike have all used to justify their actions in hopes of overturning the 2020 election. It’s the catch-all code phrase under which all unfounded aspersions about the election are cast without ever producing a shred of evidence to back it up.
Sadly, it ain’t no passing craze. It’s all coming straight from the top, from the man whom Republican party officials still call their leader.
Over the weekend, in press releases, media appearances, and a CPAC speech in Texas, Donald Trump continued to spread his election conspiracy theories and engage in January 6 insurrection whitewashing, seeking an audience for his lies wherever he could find one.
Guess where he’s going next.
Arizona. The former president will be in Phoenix on July 24 for an event billed as a “rally to protect our elections.”
The show, you see, must go on. And on. And on.
“As one person put it to me, ‘Ron DeSantis is Trump without the gold toilet.’” —Michael Steele, former Republican National Committee chair
From The Riverfront Times, by Daniel Hill:
Noted local criminal Mark McCloskey played host to a barbecue/political rally on Sunday afternoon, drawing tens of admirers to the sweltering parking lot of a closed outlet mall in St. Louis County to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the time he pulled a gun on a crowd of people who otherwise would never have noticed or cared he existed.
Despite the fact that none of the big names who had been billed to speak at the June 27 event showed up, and despite the fact that ticket sales were so dismal attendance was opened to the public for free at the last minute, St. Louis’ most gun-surrendering lawyer plowed right ahead with the First Annual Pink Shirt Guy BBQ and RINO Roast in the St. Louis Mills parking lot.
Grievance and untethered delusion topped the menu at the event, with McCloskey and a roster of speakers largely unknown outside the fever swamps of the far right taking turns condemning everything from critical race theory (their newest and most nonsensical bogeyman) to “cultural Marxism” (George Soros’ fault of course, but how dare you level accusations of antisemitism) to the “radical left” agenda of (hahahahaha) Joe Biden. The whole gun-and-pony show was in service of McCloskey’s deeply stupid run for U.S. Senate, because if there’s one thing that qualifies a man for public office in the Republican party in 2021 it’s a willingness to point a firearm at those with whom you disagree politically.
Initially, fellow criminal and proponent of armed coups Michael Flynn was scheduled to speak, but he was subbed out for North Carolina Congressman and notably dumb guy Madison Cawthorn, who also did not show up. But the show must go on, as they say, and so we were instead primarily treated to the emcee abilities of former radio host Jamie Allman, who lost his longtime job back in 2018 after taking to Twitter to pontificate about ramming a hot poker up a teenager’s ass.
The event kicked off around 2 p.m. with a pig roast and photo op with the McCloskeys, Mark clad in his pink-shirt finery and Patricia sporting the Hamburglar costume for which she is best-known. At least one man brought his rifle for the pair to sign, which of course they did, after which the man could be heard excitedly discussing how much money it was now worth.
After a sound check with local Deep Purple cover band Perfect Strangers, whose singer Terry Luttrell was the original vocalist for REO Speedwagon before parting ways with the band over its earlier, more politically motivated lyrics, the show kicked off with the singing of the national anthem, followed by a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by a moment of prayer. With all the hits out of the way, Allman brought up a parade of speakers of varying infamy, one of whom (who can remember who) walked us all through the Declaration of Independence as an encore for good measure.
There was federally charged St. Louis chiropractor Eric Nepute, best-known for recommending Schweppes tonic water as a COVID-19 cure early on in the pandemic; JeffCo gun store owner Ian McFarland, who recently sold McCloskey a new gun when the latter handed his over to the state after pleading guilty to the crimes he’d committed; and State Rep. Nick Schroer (R-O’Fallon), one of the legislators leading an effort that failed in the Senate to defund Planned Parenthood in the state. Pillow magnate and unhinged lunatic Mike Lindell piped in a prerecorded message of support, as did war criminal Oliver North, probably as a consolation prize since Flynn was presumably too busy plotting out his own future crimes to make an appearance. There were others as well, but this event suffered from the rookie mistake of having too many openers, which led to some noticeable fatigue in the small crowd who had gathered to gawk at the spectacle.
All of the above took turns rattling off the exhausting culture war talking points that dominate right-wing media nowadays, with fevered rants against critical race theory, cancel culture, cultural Marxism and good old-fashioned communism as practiced by noted leftist Joe Biden (hahahahahahaha) being the order of the day. Allman also tossed out bracelets in support of rioter Ashli Babbitt, who was killed in the U.S. Capital on January 6 after refusing to comply with the commands of officers, and who Allman claimed was “assassinated by her government.” That would seem to fly in the face of the usual “if he/she just complied he/she would still be alive” script of the allegedly pro-police crowd, but Babbitt was on their team, so naturally the very concept of ideological consistency is thrown right out the window.
At long last, after a gushing introduction in which Allman described Mark and Patricia as “everyone’s favorite neighbors” (a characterization with which their actual neighbors whole-heartedly disagree), McCloskey took to the stage to bask in the adulation of the not even half-full seating area of his adoring fans. He insisted gravely that the crowd of people who were walking past his house that fateful day a year ago would have murdered him and his wife and their dog and then burned their house down had he not waddled his ass outside barefoot to threaten them with a rifle, which is pretty confusing seeing as how literally none of McCloskey’s neighbors did the same and yet they all somehow came out unscathed. It also doesn’t fit with the findings of special prosecutor Richard Callahan, who noted in a statement upon the McCloskeys’ guilty plea that: “The protesters on the other hand were a racially mixed and peaceful group, including women and children, who simply made a wrong turn on their way to protest in front of the mayor’s house,” noting further that absolutely no evidence was ever found to show that any of the protesters were armed or intent on harming the couple.
But that didn’t matter to McCloskey, nor did it matter to the sparse crowd who had come to watch him hump a gun on a Sunday afternoon. Naturally, McCloskey used his speech to heap praise on the likes of Donald Trump, Josh Hawley, Mark Meadows and others, while directing scorn at the likes of Kim Gardner, Cori Bush and Rasheen Aldridge. That the former group is a bunch of white guys and the latter are Black probably didn’t have anything to do with McCloskey’s opinions of them, and how dare you even think such a thing.
McCloskey ended his speech by bringing his wife up on stage, and the two of them posed with a gun to the cheers of the crowd. One gets the distinct impression that those cheers were more for the gun itself than its owner though, and that more likely than not the crowd would probably prefer to vote for an actual firearm to be senator instead, if only there was some way to get one on the ballot. Honestly Mark is just a mascot, not unlike Ronald McDonald.
As the main event wrapped up, Allman directed everyone to the merch tent, where McCloskey was selling bottles of barbecue sauce for $20 a pop. With the crowd thoroughly cleared out and a storm rolling in, Perfect Strangers took to the stage and started serving up Deep Purple cuts for the enjoyment of about ten people. Lightning cracked in the sky during the classic track “Stormbringer,” adding a fun bit of synchronicity, if also a sense of foreboding.
Equally synchronized and foreboding was one of the lines from the 1974 track, delivered as it was at the McCloskey-led event:
“He’s got nothing you need.”
Here’s hoping Missouri’s voters are smart enough to see it that way too.