Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Critical race theory? Nah. The story is the great replacement scam

Bess Levin/Vanity Fair:


In the era of Donald Trump, a major plank of the modern Republican Party platform is outright racism. Whether it’s the leader of the free world telling four congresswomen of color to “go back” to the “totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came,” a U.S. senator saying he wasn’t afraid of the January 6 rioters but would have been worried if they were Black Lives Matter protesters, a U.S. congresswoman speaking at event put on by a white nationalist, the complete and total hysteria over the idea of children being taught about systemic racism, or a prime-time conservative host’s regular white-power hour, this hateful little ecosystem just loves to appeal to the lowest common denominator by demonizing anyone who isn’t white. But when their actions actually have consequences? And it turns out their hate speech matters? And people have the audacity to suggest they’re part of the problem? Well, they really get their noses out of joint.

Imagine if Trump were President now and Flynn the National Security Adviser….

— Phillips P. OBrien (@PhillipsPOBrien) May 17, 2022

The New York Times:

Republicans Play on Fears of ‘Great Replacement’ in Bid for Base Voters

Republicans across the spectrum were quick to denounce the killings. But fewer party leaders appeared willing to break with the politics of nativism and fear the party has embraced to retain the loyalties of right-wing voters inspired by Donald J. Trump.

One Republican, Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, on Monday called out her colleagues for not doing enough to squash the extremist wing of her own party.

“House GOP leadership has enabled white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-Semitism,” Ms. Cheney, the former No. 3 House Republican who was removed from that role over her criticism of Mr. Trump, wrote on Twitter. “History has taught us that what begins with words ends in far worse. @GOP leaders must renounce and reject these views and those who hold them.”

The victims of the terrorist attack in #Buffalo haven’t been buried yet, as Orbán refers to the Great Replacement conspiracy theory in opening speech of new term as PM. Many international media don’t even mention it!!!

— Cas Mudde 😷 (@CasMudde) May 17, 2022


Mitch McConnell refuses to condemn racist 'great replacement theory' three separate times in one press conference

  • Some Republicans have promoted a version of the "replacement theory" that motivated the Buffalo shooter.
  • Insider and 2 other reporters repeatedly asked McConnell about the theory, but he wouldn't denounce it.
  • He said racism "ought to be stood up to by everybody, both Republicans and Democrats."

In early 2021, @elizagriswold told me she wanted to write about the rise of Christian nationalism through a little-known Pennsylvania state senator. I grumbled a bit about it. But now Doug Mastriano is the Republican GOP nominee for governor.

— Michael Luo (@michaelluo) May 18, 2022


How Christian Nationalism And The Big Lie Fused To Fuel Doug Mastriano’s Candidacy

That the Christian right is intertwined with a Republican candidate is hardly new. Since Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980, the movement has defined GOP politics. What is new, and increasingly perilous, is that over the ensuing years the movement has become more highly radicalized, a trend that was validated and accelerated by Trump’s candidacy and presidency — and especially by his stolen election lie. A movement that elevated Trump to messianic status and shielded him from his 2019 impeachment was able to convince millions that satanic forces had robbed God’s man in the White House of his anointed perch as the restorer of America’s white Christian heritage. Their duty, as patriotic spiritual warriors, was to go to battle on his behalf.

NEW: Ukraine aid splinters GOP. With the nationalist camp growing larger and louder, most Hill Republicans — from rank & file up to McConnell — are aggressively pushing back on what they see as a disturbing trend toward isolationism.

— Andrew Desiderio (@AndrewDesiderio) May 17, 2022

The Guardian:

Fox News suddenly goes quiet on ‘great replacement’ theory after Buffalo shooting

Suspect was allegedly motivated by the theory, but network has barely mentioned gunman’s reasoning, even after Tucker Carlson pushed the concept in more than 400 of his shows

Fox News, according to Oliver Darcy, a media correspondent for CNN, “largely ignored” the fact that the shooter had been inspired by replacement theory. Darcy searched transcripts from Fox News’s shows, and found one brief mention, by Fox News anchor Eric Shawn.

As Americans absorbed news of the shooting and struggled to understand why it had happened, it seemed a glaring omission. But given Carlson and his colleagues’ promotion of the theory, which has been unchecked by Fox News’s top executives, experts see the network as being left in a bind.

“What can they say?” said Matt Gertz, senior fellow at Media Matters for America, a watchdog of rightwing media. “There’s no way for anyone at Fox News to really issue a convincing and compelling, forthright denunciation of great replacement theory, because it’s being discussed on the network’s primetime hour on a near constant basis.”

Finnish parliament votes: 🇫🇮 Independence declaration 1917 100-88 🇪🇺 EU membership 1994: 152-45 🪖 #Nato membership 2022: 188-8

— adam seven 🇫🇮 🇪🇺 (@a7_FIN_SWE) May 17, 2022

NBC News:

Trump waded into GOP primaries. Democrats hope he sticks around.

The former president’s presence is being increasingly felt in Democrats’ midterm message as they look to leverage his divisiveness to their advantage in yet another election.

Donald Trump has inserted himself into the Republican primaries this week in Pennsylvania, much to the chagrin of some GOP members there, who think he may have picked the wrong candidates and needlessly shuffled the race.

Democrats, however, aren't so sure they've got a problem with the former president making himself an outsize figure in the races there or nationwide, as they try to leverage his divisiveness to their advantage in yet another election.

Democrats are largely still trying to settle on exactly what role Trump should play in their campaigns as they defend razor-thin majorities in the House and Senate this fall.

But there is a growing acknowledgement that leveraging voters’ lingering distaste from the Trump years may be among their best strategies for turning out their voters in November, particularly with their policy agenda falling short in areas like lowering the cost of prescription drugs and passing voting rights legislation.

I don’t think I’ve read a better summary of what US political journalists should be doing that also makes clear what a terrible job they’re doing now. By Dan @froomkin in @thenation

— Will of the Northern Loons 🇺🇸🇸🇪🌻🇺🇦 (@WMRine) May 17, 2022

David Leonhardt/The New York Times:

The Right’s Violence Problem

The Buffalo killings are part of a pattern: Most extremist violence in the U.S. comes from the political right.

As this data shows, the American political right has a violence problem that has no equivalent on the left. And the 10 victims in Buffalo this past weekend are now part of this toll. “Right-wing extremist violence is our biggest threat,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the head of the ADL, has written. “The numbers don’t lie.”

What was Pompeo’s brain trust doing during the Jan. 6 insurrection? One of Pompeo’s State Department assistants was meeting these folks

— Laura Rozen (@lrozen) May 17, 2022

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Anatomy of a French presidential win

Adam Gopnik/New Yorker:

The Real Meaning of Emmanuel Macron’s Victory

The fact is that, in difficult circumstances, Macron has managed to win the Presidency twice.
[Marine] Le Pen did not get an enormous vote as a far-right extremist; she got an exceptionally large, though losing, share by pretending not to be a far-right extremist. She also benefited enormously from the presence of [Eric] Zemmour, who was so much further right and so unapologetically anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant that Le Pen seemed temperate by comparison. The whole force, and successful burden, of Macron’s remarks as the campaign ended was to remind people who Le Pen really is, and what her family legacy has been—though struggling to differentiate herself from her openly fascistic-minded father, she inherited her position mainly because of her family name—and what she really stood for. He did, and the French understood the reminder.

„The decisions we make will also kill people. With the weapons we send, people will be killed, in this case Russian soldiers.“ Quite extraordinary for German politics how clearly Habeck has been communicating in this crisis and explaining fraught and complex issues.

— Kai Kupferschmidt (@kakape) April 28, 2022

Walter Shapiro/TNR:

The U.S. Needs an Endgame in the Russia-Ukraine War

So far, Biden and the public are fully behind sending arms to fight Russia. But will the time come for a Putin-appeasing peace treaty?

Still, the quest for total victory in Ukraine is premised on the belief that defeat is the best deterrent. Having forged NATO unity and a surprising degree of economic sacrifice by the Europeans, Putin should be under no illusions that next time will be easier. The Ukraine war is one of those rare times when the morally right course—forcing Russia to retreat from all of Ukraine—is also the approach that appears to make the most strategic sense. There are no certainties in an irrational war seemingly brought on by Putin’s passion to restore the Soviet Union. But America should do everything in its power—short of sending troops—to bring victory parades to Kyiv.

Major shake-up in Bulgaria, as the leading coalition partner - previously seen as dependent on the "pacifist" president Radev - took a clear pro-Ukraine stance today and attacked the president in "presuming that Russia will win this war, while we think Ukraine will win"

— Christo Grozev (@christogrozev) April 27, 2022

Emily Hoge/Lawfare:

The Legacy of the Soviet Afghan War and Its Role in the Ukrainian Invasion

The unifying feature of the Afghan movement was a sense of victimization. Regardless of their politics, Afghan veterans were united by the feeling that they had been betrayed: by a government that sent them to a fight in a disastrous war, by people who now said they were murderers, by the fact that they weren’t considered heroes in the way that World War II veterans were, and by the lack of recognition and benefits they had expected and that were granted to veterans of other wars. In response, they started founding political and mutual aid organizations built around the idea that veterans of Afghanistan were and should be loyal to each other above all else. They felt they didn’t owe anything to and couldn’t rely on anyone but fellow soldiers of complicated wars—members of an international “combat brotherhood” that included them, veterans of Vietnam, and eventually veterans of the conflict in Chechnya and other “local wars.” Above all, they felt that they couldn’t rely on the state, the Soviet state or later the Russian state, to take care of their needs and would take care of each other themselves.

Yet by 2014, when I sent my email for my PTSD research, Afghan veterans’ groups had become loyal advocates of the government, frequently represented at and organizers of pro-Kremlin rallies. Afghan veterans’ groups gathered and trained volunteers to send to Crimea and the Donbas in 2014. Some Russian “volunteers” wounded there were treated in a sanatorium belonging to an Afghan veterans’ group, according to a 2014 interview with fighters published by a now-defunct Russian-language website. Veterans’ groups were some of the first Russian organizations to establish branches in Crimea after its annexation. Many Afghan veterans, even though they were mostly in their 50s and 60s, went to fight in eastern Ukraine themselves.

Patrushev. "If anything today unites the peoples living in Ukraine, it is only the fear of the atrocities of the nationalist battalions...the result of the policy of the West and the Kyiv regime under its control can only be the disintegration of Ukraine into several states."

— Shashank Joshi (@shashj) April 27, 2022

William Saletan/Bulwark:

The Most Damning Part of the Meadows Texts

He knew the president was lying. And he kept helping to spread the lies anyway.
We’ve known for a long time, based on audits, investigations, and court reviews, that Donald Trump’s allegations about massive fraud in the 2020 presidential election are false. We also know, based on firsthand accounts from Trump’s former aides, attorneys, and political allies, that Trump’s advisers repeatedly told him the allegations were false. That leaves two possibilities: Either Trump is lying, or he’s trying to overthrow the government based on an impenetrable delusion. Take your pick.

Now we’re compiling similar evidence against Mark Meadows, who was Trump’s chief of staff during the election. He, too, knew Trump’s accusations were false. And instead of telling the truth, Meadows helped spread the lies.

The latest evidence comes from a batch of more than 2,000 text messages, revealed by CNN that were sent to or from Meadows between November 3, 2020, and January 20, 2021. Three of the exchanges are particularly instructive: one in early November of that year, another in late November, and a third in early December.

Do you know many people who publicly support Putin, who continue to praise and love him even now? Who stay loyal to Putin even after the massacres in Bucha and Irpin, after mass civilian killings and rapes? It's incomprehensible, right?

— Maria Pevchikh (@pevchikh) April 27, 2022

Today I will tell you the story of the star Russian maestro Valery Gergiev. The celebrity conductor who headed the London Symphony Orchestra, the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra and many others. He was once the most wanted guest at La Scala, The Met Opera, Grand Opera, everywhere.

— Maria Pevchikh (@pevchikh) April 27, 2022


Multiple RNC staffers have spoken to Jan. 6 panel, sources say House investigators have questions about the party’s messaging and fundraising in the weeks after the 2020 election.

Most of the officials who have spoken with investigators are former employees who worked during the 2020 election cycle, including the fraught period between Election Day and the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, one of the people said.

That means the committee has more insight than previously known into the Republican Party’s activity in the lead-up to January 6. The interviews underscore the select committee’s interest in how political messaging by the national GOP apparatus — which partnered with the Trump campaign on digital fundraising efforts — may have stoked falsehoods about the 2020 election.

They also want to know just how successful one particular email campaign was at getting users to click through to donation websites. Those emails prompted people to give money based on false claims the election was stolen, the select committee has emphasized.

Committee investigators have said they’re interested in who authorized the RNC’s specific messaging about the election outcome and whether it played a role in stoking the violent mob that breached the Capitol on Jan. 6.

New: discussions involving the Trump WH RE using emergency powers have become an imp but little-known part of the J6 cmte's investigation. Our dive into all the talk abt helping Trump strong-arm his way past an electoral defeat, w @jdawsey1 & @thamburger:

— Jacqueline Alemany (@JaxAlemany) April 27, 2022

Mark Liebovitch/Atlantic:

Just Call Trump a Loser

His record is clear. Some nervy Republican challenger should say so.

But if Trump does decide to inflict himself on another race, he will enter as the clear Republican favorite, enjoying a presumption of invincibility inside the GOP. This has engendered a belief that anyone who challenges Trump must tread lightly, or end up like the roadkill that his primary opponents became in 2016.

That notion is outdated.

Trump’s bizarre and enduring hold over his party has made it verboten for many Republicans to even utter publicly the unpleasant fact of his defeat—something they will readily acknowledge in private. I caught up recently with several Trump-opposing Republican strategists and former associates of the president who argued this restraint should end. The best way for a Republican to depose Trump in 2024, they said, will be to call Trump a loser, as early and as brutally as possible—and keep pointing out the absurdity of treating a one-term, twice-impeached, 75-year-old former president like a kingmaker and heir apparent. In other words, don’t worry about hurting Special Boy’s feelings.

NEW: Russia's war in Ukraine has turned to the cloudy Donbas, putting low-flying fighter jets in missile range. The change has forced both Russia & Ukraine to turn to drones to keep a watchful eye in the sky and hit targets on the ground.

— Jack Detsch (@JackDetsch) April 27, 2022

Morning Consult:

Most Governors Facing Re-Election This Year Are Quite Popular Democrats in Rhode Island, Wisconsin and New Mexico have the weakest job approval ratings of governors up in 2022

Most governors facing re-election in November are beginning the year popular with voters in their states, according to Morning Consult Political Intelligence quarterly tracking. And despite declines over the past year, a handful of Republicans among them are some of the most-liked governors in the country

Ex-Georgian leader who lost war against Russia thinks Ukraine will prevail

— Reuters (@Reuters) April 28, 2022

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: The state of the Union is sound, but Europe is at war

Greg Sargent/WaPo:

Five vile things Trump did to Zelensky and Ukraine that you forgot about

The obvious rejoinder to this spin is that Trump got impeached for withholding military aid to strong-arm Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into manufacturing propaganda to help Trump’s reelection. This came even as Zelensky pleaded for help against Russian aggression, which the world is now witnessing unfold in all its horror.

But the focus only on that episode risks oversimplifying the story. It casts this recent history as being mainly about Trump’s personal corruption, i.e., his effort to use foreign policy to smear his campaign opponent.

Belarusians have formed at least five military units in #Ukraine right now and are fighting alongside Ukrainians. Many of them could have fled Ukraine and stayed safe but they decided to support them. Here is an appeal to the Belarusian military not to go to war in Ukraine.

— Hanna Liubakova (@HannaLiubakova) March 1, 2022

Some news pieces to catch you up:

NY Times:

Senior EU officials tell me the EU is considering offering qualified Russian 🇷🇺 citizens EU 🇪🇺 passports - to accelerate Russian economic brain drain This is just one of many innovative measures being considered to complement economic sanctions now in place 🇪🇺🇺🇦

— Mujtaba (Mij) Rahman (@Mij_Europe) March 1, 2022


In just 72 hours, Europe overhauled its entire post-Cold War relationship with Russia

Just last week, many European countries were still so somnolent about the threat Russia posed to Ukraine that Germany’s spy chief was caught unawares in Kyiv when the Kremlin invasion started. He had to be extracted in a special operation.

But over just a handful of days, Europe has been shocked out of a post-Cold War era — and state of mind — in which it left many of the democratic world’s most burning security problems to the United States.

Switzerland no longer neutral? That’s not as shocking as Germany deciding to rearm.

The wording by French finance minister @BrunoLeMaire is important. “We are going to wage a total economic and financial war on Russia”

— Andrew S. Weiss (@andrewsweiss) March 1, 2022

Mitchell A Orenstein/Bulwark:

What Changed Germany’s Mind

Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s decision to give weapons to Ukraine overturned decades of tradition.

Until yesterday, Germany remained extremely reluctant to create even the faintest appearance that it was threatening Russia militarily—hence its refusal even to allow overflight rights to NATO allies exporting arms to Ukraine. For its own domestic and moral reasons, Germany needed to be a peacemaker to the last.

Putin’s blatant and unprovoked assault on Ukraine changed that calculus. Now, no one in their right mind could possibly blame Germany, so it is finally safe to act. Germany can play a key role as a supporter of Ukraine, both by sending arms to help the poor people in Kyiv and throughout the country and by rearming itself, as Scholz has promised to do, to meet the obvious threat from Russia.

The new era has long been coming. For years, Germany’s leaders, committed to good relations, studiously refused to treat Russia as a threat, but rather as a potential partner. Putin made it easy for them to change their minds.

In decades past, when America’s national interest was at stake, especially with a threat from abroad, members of both parties showed solidarity and support for the president. It is fundamental patriotism. Now lacking among a majority of congressional Republicans.

— Norman Ornstein (@NormOrnstein) March 2, 2022

David Dayen/TAP:

Biden Wants to Take Down the Ocean Shipping Cartel

New initiatives would beef up investigations into anti-competitive conduct from the industry, which is enjoying astronomical profits.

President Biden will target the ocean shipping cartel in tomorrow night’s State of the Union address, outlining new steps to crack down on suspected anti-competitive behavior priced into the cost of every transported good, which has led to astronomical profits for the industry.

The steps include an executive action to commence investigations into ocean shipping excess profit-taking, and a legislative recommendation to bolster the Ocean Shipping Reform Act now working its way through Congress by taking away the industry’s antitrust exemption for so-called “ocean shipping alliances.”

The executive action results from a joint agreement between the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), the main regulator of ocean carriers, and the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department. Under the arrangement, the Antitrust Division will essentially act as the FMC’s counsel in investigating conduct in the industry, providing the lawyer-power for what would otherwise be an impossible task for an understaffed and under-resourced agency.

This is a powerful speech and everyone should listen. But I'm also interested in the framing of it. Is there any evidence this is not just a random room with a chair and a flag? Plus the shot is so low, as if hiding the absence of a desk or something else.

— emptywheel (@emptywheel) March 1, 2022

David Remnick/New Yorker:

The Ambassador Caught Between Ukraine and Trump

In her first major interview since testifying against Trump, Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, discusses Russia’s war on the nation and Trump’s attack on her.

How far will Putin take this? The invasion hasn’t gone the way he would’ve liked, but maybe time is on his side. The sheer volume of arms is on his side. What does he want here?

I think he wants to control Ukraine. When I was in the country, from 2016 to 2019, I always felt that he didn’t really want to own Ukraine, because then there’s at least a modicum of responsibility. He would have to provide services. But he wanted to make sure that Ukraine didn’t have the power of self-determination. He wanted to keep it in his sphere of influence. What he discovered—due, ironically, to his own actions, particularly the annexation of Crimea and the invasion of the Donbass—was that he is the single biggest driver since independence, in 1991, of bringing the Ukrainian people together.

As Zelensky fights for his country, for democracy, for his own life, it's crucial that Trump & the GOP hacks who defended his alliance with Putin & his criminal behaviors toward Ukraine be named, quoted, & relentlessly reminded of their votes on impeachment and Jan. 6.

— Joe Hagan (@joehagansays) March 1, 2022

John Cassidy/New Yorker:

How Vladimir Putin Miscalculated the Economic Cost of Invading Ukraine

The Russian leader apparently failed to anticipate the unprecedented targeting of the Central Bank of Russia, a step that has battered the ruble and shaken the country’s financial system.

In wartime, it is wise to treat statements from all sides skeptically. In this case, we don’t need to rely on the assessments of anonymous U.S. officials. When the international markets opened on Monday morning, the value of Russia’s currency plunged by a third. To stem the decline, the Russian Central Bank more than doubled its key interest rate, from 9.5 per cent to twenty per cent, and ordered Russian exporting companies to sell foreign currencies and buy rubles. These desperate moves helped trim losses, but at the close of trading in Moscow the ruble was still down by almost twenty per cent—a huge decline for any currency. In a briefing with reporters, Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, conceded that “economic reality had significantly changed.”

In Washington, meanwhile, the Biden Administration intensified its economic offensive by imposing a freeze on the Central Bank of Russia’s assets held in U.S. financial institutions. The Treasury Department also prohibited any U.S. person, including American banks and businesses, from engaging in transactions with Russia’s Central Bank, finance ministry, or sovereign wealth fund. “This action effectively immobilizes any assets of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation held in the United States or by U.S. persons, wherever located,” the Treasury said, in a statement announcing the new policy. In London, the U.K government has introduced a policy along the same lines.

It wasn’t immediately clear just how much money the Central Bank of Russia still holds in New York, London, and other Western financial centers—and which it will no longer be able to access. (According to some estimates, about two-thirds of Russian reserves are now blocked off in countries that have introduced sanctions.) Even so, experts on economic sanctions described the targeting as unprecedented and highly effective. “The G-7 sanctions against the Russian Central Bank, not the swift sanctions, are the real hammer, and they’re showing effect,” Jonathan Hackenbroich, a policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said. “Russia’s Central Bank might struggle to fight massive inflation and panic even after it doubled interest rates and introduced capital controls.”

First it was 3,000. Then it was 500. Now they don’t even want to talk numbers.

— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) March 1, 2022

I don’t know whether the alleged Zelensky assassination plot was, in fact, foiled by FSB snitches, as the Ukrainians say. But saying the tip came from with the FSB itself is maximally designed to send the FSB into a counterintelligence ouroboros.

— Zach Dorfman (@zachsdorfman) March 1, 2022

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Omicron is declining around the world, but still presents danger

Tim Miller/Bulwark:

Ghostface Trump Lives and Susan Collins Keeps Letting Him

The Good Republican won’t rule out Trump 2024.

It was true in the first impeachment when every Senate Republican except Mitt Romney knew exactly how bad the Ukrainian drug deal was but passed the buck to voters anyway, hoping the people would send Trump packing.

It was true in the second impeachment, when 17 Republican senators had the ability to banish him from federal office permanently but instead made a calculation that the party couldn’t survive the voter backlash. So they made sternly worded speeches while letting Trump off the hook.

It was true when Lindsey Graham was getting shouted down for his Trump apostasy in an airport terminal and then tucked his tail and returned to his dominant’s golf cart.

And it was true this weekend when Good Republican Dan Crenshaw showed up to Trump’s pro-insurrection rally in Texas on Saturday and Double Plus Good Republican Susan Collins sat down with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday.

Amid all those moments of choosing there have been sporadic bouts of courage from a handful of Republicans who really were willing to risk their careers. But they have been the exceptions that proved the rule.

The Omicron wave begins a global descent after >90 million confirmed cases in 10 weeks, more than all of 2020, as reported by @DrTedros @OurWorldInData

— Eric Topol (@EricTopol) February 1, 2022


Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for children under 5 could be available by the end of February, people with knowledge say

Pfizer and its partner, BioNTech, the manufacturers of the vaccine, are expected to submit to the Food and Drug Administration as early as Tuesday a request for emergency-use authorization for the vaccine for children 6 months to 5 years old, which would make it the first vaccine available for that age group. Older children already can receive the shot.

The FDA urged the companies to submit the application so that regulators could begin reviewing the two-shot data, according to the knowledgeable individuals, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

The companies in the last few months have been testing a third dose, following disappointing results for the two-shot regimen showing that while the vaccine is safe, two doses did not provide a strong enough immune response in all age groups. But data on a third shot will not be available until at least late March. Once that information is submitted, regulators are expected to authorize a third dose of the pediatric vaccine.

I know the cool kids like to say "it's not the crime, it's the cover-up," but no, really, the crime is the worse part. And you can, in fact, have a crime even if the criminal is too stupid to cover it up. Honest!

— Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) January 31, 2022

Aaron Blake/WaPo:

Trump toys with the mob — again

In Texas, Trump encouraged people to hold protests over his legal jeopardy and suggested he would pardon Jan. 6 rioters who took such a message to its extreme

What’s the worst that could happen?

Former president Donald Trump on Saturday night sent his strongest signal to date that he will fight his legal problems outside of a court of law. He encouraged people to engage in massive demonstrations in jurisdictions pursuing criminal investigations against him over Jan. 6 and tax-related issues. Then, minutes later, he said that if he’s reinstalled as president, he would consider pardoning some of the Jan. 6 Capitol rioters.

Both Trump comments were, as with many earlier ones about ongoing legal matters, carefully tailored. (Trump seemed to be reading them off a teleprompter rather than speaking extemporaneously.) The combination of the two comments, though, can’t help but conjure a repeat — or at least the suggestive prospect of a repeat — of the kind of lawlessness we saw just over a year ago.

“If these radical, vicious, racist prosecutors do anything wrong or illegal, I hope we are going to have in this country the biggest protests we have ever had in Washington, D.C., in New York, in Atlanta and elsewhere,” Trump said, “because our country and our elections are corrupt.”

Reply from @keir_starmer in full. To Conservative MPs, he says: "Continuing his leadership will mean further misconduct, cover up and deceit. "It is only they that can end this farce. The eyes of the country are upon them. They will be judged by the decisions they take now."

— Best for Britain (@BestForBritain) January 31, 2022


4.3 million Americans left their jobs in December as omicron variant disrupted everything

The high number of people leaving their jobs came amid immense pressure on workers and parents, many of whom had to juggle multiple responsibilities as case numbers surged at the end of 2021.

The elevated quitting data, which represented nearly three percent of the country’s employed population, is another window into how the labor market’s patterns have been upended by the pandemic.

While the crisis was originally marked by mass joblessness — more than 20 million people lost their jobs in the earliest days of the pandemic, many temporarily — 2021 was defined by a strong labor market recovery as well as complaints by employers about difficulty finding available workers.

That shortage has meant that many companies have been racing to compete with each other for workers, raising wages, adding cash bonuses and sweetening the pot in other ways to try to attract applicants. And that in turn has created a climate for workers to have more leverage and options than perhaps any other time in recent history.

Taking the Trump cue: incorporating violence and intimidation as a core of the strategy for taking and holding power. And hardly any R elected or conservative commentators will acknowledge it’s happening, much less mobilize in opposition to it. Extremist wing too big to confront

— Ronald Brownstein (@RonBrownstein) January 31, 2022

Bill Scher/Washington Monthly:

What Message Should Biden Use in the Midterms?

Blaming Republicans can only get you so far. The president needs to embrace his bipartisan successes and lay out a plan for more.

Biden wants it both ways: He wants credit for breaking partisan gridlock, and he wants to tag Republicans for worsening partisan gridlock. But that doesn’t make for a coherent midterm message. Biden and the Democrats need to choose between selling a bipartisan success story or blaming Republicans and apostate Dems for screwing everything up.

You can understand why Biden attacks Republicans more than he applauds them. Even the most committed compromiser puts on the gloves in campaign season. Moreover, Democrats would like to take the ambitious ideas that hit a wall of Republican opposition in the past year and use them in November to stimulate turnout—ideas such as voting rights protections, paid family leave, and free community college. Running on such a platform requires drawing a clear and partisan contrast.

Yet this sharp-elbowed partisan strategy is out of whack with how Biden ran in 2020 and with what voters still want today.

I write this because as the incumbent party in the midterms we will be assessed on whether we made things better, as promised. And we have. We need to say so. It's not been easy, but things are better. Yes, there is still more to do. But things are better.

— Simon Rosenberg (@SimonWDC) February 1, 2022

Monmouth Poll:

Time to Accept Covid and Move On?

Fully 7 in 10 Americans (70%) agree with the sentiment that “it’s time we accept that Covid is here to stay and we just need to get on with our lives” – including 78% of those who report having gotten Covid and 65% of those who say they have not been infected. The main difference in the sense that it is time to move on is due to partisanship – ranging from 89% of Republicans and 71% of independents to 47% of Democrats. Only one-third of the public (34%) feels the country will get the outbreak under control and return to normal by the end of the year. In fact, more than 1 in 4 (28%) now believe a return to normalcy will never happen, which is up from 22% who felt this way in September and just 6% who were similarly pessimistic exactly a year ago.

“Americans’ worries about Covid haven’t gone away. It seems more to be a realization that we are not going to get this virus under control in a way that we thought was possible just last year,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Four in 10 Americans (40%) report that they have had Covid – or think they have had it – since the pandemic began, including 27% who said their infection was confirmed with a test. About one-third (36%) of people who have been vaccinated report also being infected with Covid (note: the poll did not ask whether infection occurred before or after vaccination) and about 6 in 10 (61%) of those who have not gotten a shot say they have been infected with the virus.

Half the public is either very (23%) or somewhat (27%) concerned about catching one of the new Covid variants. This concern includes 58% of those who have not had Covid, but also includes 38% of those who have already had it. The number of adults who are very concerned about catching a new variant is up somewhat from early December (14%) before the omicron variant really hit the U.S. Similarly, the number of people who are very concerned about a family member becoming seriously ill from the virus (38%) has increased since December (30%), but it is still lower than concern in September (45%) when the delta variant was spreading.

It's fine to question research, seek out opposing viewpoints, test alternative theories, the reason it's dumb to carry on with this w/ vaccines is you have ongoing realtime evidence from literally billions of people all over the entire world and it all keeps saying the same thing

— Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin) January 31, 2022

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Is Boris Johnson facing a no confidence vote?

The Independent:

What is a no confidence motion and what could it mean for Boris Johnson?

Liberal Democrats have called for Conservatives to back vote of no confidence in Boris Johnson

A motion of no confidence has been laid down by the Liberal Democrats as they seek to topple the Boris Johnson administration following a litany of claims of coronavirus rule-breaking in No 10.

Here is a look at what the Lib Dems are proposing, what a no confidence vote entails and how it works.

People are saying “future prime minister” but I’m not sure there’s a need to wait. Give her a go now,

— Niall Stanage (@NiallStanage) January 18, 2022

NY Times:

Omicron cases may be peaking in some U.S. states, but COVID-19 is overwhelming hospitals

The United States is averaging over 790,000 new daily cases, a tally that includes an artificially low count on Monday, when many states did not release new data because of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. Deaths now exceed 1,900 a day, up 54 percent over the past two weeks.

Even before the holiday weekend, daily cases had peaked in New York and other Northeastern states. According to a New York Times database, cases in the region peaked on Jan. 10-11.

the funniest part of the 2011 comedy "Contagion" is when they invent a lifesaving vaccine at the end, and then everyone takes the vaccine. hahahaha fantastic writing

— Rob DenBleyker (@RobDenBleyker) December 21, 2021

You can get your free at-home test kits here.

Julia Azari/FiveThirtyEight:

What Does It Mean If Republicans Won’t Debate?

What should we think about this development?

For starters, the RNC’s reasons to prohibit participation in the debates are important. And that’s because they fall in line with an important strain of Trumpism: a claim to being the victims of unfair treatment. To be fair, evidence does show that some important cultural institutions, including the news media, are more likely to be populated by Democrats than Republicans, but conflict between presidential campaigns and debate organizers about the journalists who moderate the debates is hardly one-sided — or new. After all, the purpose of debates is to allow voters to see candidates perform under pressure and to evaluate their responses — tension with the campaigns on how to best facilitate this is to be expected. But this move represents the Trumpist Republican Party only further rejecting established institutions and democratic practices.

I just keep coming back to this: The Republican Party has gone stark-raving brown-shirt crazy but is still expected to win back Congress next year and political journalists are going yeah, OK, instead of going WHAT THE FUCK??? AAAAH!

— Dan Froomkin/ (@froomkin) January 16, 2022

Ron Brownstein/The Atlantic:

How Manchin and Sinema Completed a Conservative Vision

A nationwide standard of voting rights now seems like a pipe dream.

Those decisions have had an enormous practical impact on the rules for American elections. But many voting-rights advocates say that the rulings have been equally important in sending a signal to Republican-controlled states that the Supreme Court majority is unlikely to stand in their way if they impose new restrictions on voting or extreme partisan gerrymanders in congressional and state legislative districts.

Democrats are still pressing the two senators to reconsider their decision before this week’s votes. Barring an unlikely last-minute reversal of their position, Manchin and Sinema have effectively blocked federal voting-rights legislation by insisting that it remain subject to a filibuster that provides Senate Republicans a veto. And that could trigger a renewed red-state offensive.

Hawley: the mess made itself.

— Greg Dworkin (@DemFromCT) January 18, 2022

David Rothkopf/Twitter:

I'm troubled by the argument I've seen to often recently from DC pundit-types, most well-meaning, that the Dems and Biden have made a mistake by embracing a left or progressive agenda and that they should shift to the center, their "true" base. This is based on a fallacy. 
Everything Biden has done has been supported by either all Dems or all Dems minus one or two Dem Senators. Does this analysis mean that 48 out of 50 Senators are "left" and that Biden needs to adjust his policies to suit the other two? 
Does it mean that he should be adjusting his policies to win the votes of so-called "centrist" GOPers. You know, the ones who are uniformly voting against the most basic protections for democracy & who have voted against measure after measure supported by most Americans? 
DC is a donut. There is no "center" in DC politics. There are two parties & a handful of people caught between them. As for the country as a whole, there is of course a center. There are independents & on issue after issue, the things Biden has supported are supported by them. 

France's parliament has approved a law that will ban unvaccinated people from all restaurants, sports arenas, and other public venues.

— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 18, 2022

Jennifer Rubin/WaPo:

Dear media: Stop giving Republicans the benefit of the doubt

The story line was set: Democrats blew it by closing schools; Youngkin was “smart” to pose as a normal Republican. As The New York Times cooed: “Many conservatives see his campaign as providing a template for how to delicately embrace Trumpism in blue states.”

Delicately? Youngkin was always serious about the MAGA camp’s culture wars, as he made abundantly clear on day one of his governorship.

Shortly after his inauguration, Youngkin promptly banned critical race theory from Virginia curriculums, even though it isn’t taught in schools, thereby flaunting his willingness to cater to White grievance in a state infamous for its resistance to desegregation. He described what would be removed from school curriculum: “All of the principles of critical race theory, the fundamental building blocks of actually accusing one group of being oppressors and another of being oppressed, of actually burdening children today for sins of the past."

Listening to Youngkin, one might never know that slavery and Jim Crow are woven into the Commonwealth’s history and are relevant to ongoing racial disparities in wealth, education, health and homeownership. His airbrushed version of history is the standard MAGA effort to cater to White supremacists and wreak havoc in the schools. If only the media had taken him seriously during the campaign.

Pretty big difference US vs UK in this wave. Vaccination differences likely a big part of it.

— Stefan Schubert (@StefanFSchubert) January 16, 2022

A lot of regional charts looking exactly like those South Africa charts from a month ago.

— Joe Weisenthal (@TheStalwart) January 18, 2022

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: The ‘could be better, could be worse’ COVID wave is here

Helen Branswell/STAT:

10 lessons I’ve learned from the Covid–19 pandemic

The guiding principle of outbreak response is hope for the best but prepare for the worst. It has felt too often in this pandemic that people are forgetting about the second part of that maxim. We’re seeing it even now with responses to the surging wave of Omicron cases.

It is true that public health authorities can get hammered if they sound the alarm for something that turns out not to merit it. The World Health Organization was pilloried by the European Parliament after the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic ultimately proved not to be particularly deadly.

But with fast-developing disease outbreaks, if you wait until you’re sure that something is going to be a disaster before seizing every opportunity to alter its trajectory, you’ve made the outbreak much, much worse.

U.S. Covid hospitalizations and ICU admissions: #Omicron versus prior Covid waves. Current hospital and ICU census are substantially lower than reported cases versus prior waves. A portion of current admissions still reflect delta infection. Data 7 day averages.

— Scott Gottlieb, MD (@ScottGottliebMD) December 28, 2021

... in non-ICU hospitalizations, since ICU stays typically come later. And in fact we do see a new signal: our non-ICU ("floor") admits have risen from 10-12 last week to 18 today, a subtle but I think meaningful rise.(12/16)

— Bob Wachter (@Bob_Wachter) December 28, 2021

Duaa Eldeib/ProPublica:

They Were the Pandemic’s Perfect Victims

The pandemic killed so many dialysis patients that their total number shrunk for the first time in nearly half a century. Few people took notice

Then COVID-19 struck. Nearly 18,000 more dialysis patients died in 2020 than would have been expected based on previous years. That staggering toll represents an increase of nearly 20% from 2019, when more than 96,000 patients on dialysis died, according to federal data released this month.

The loss led to an unprecedented outcome: The nation’s dialysis population shrank, the first decline since the U.S. began keeping detailed numbers nearly a half century ago.

They were COVID-19’s perfect victims.

London and New York City: New Covid cases and New Covid Hospitalizations - #Omicron versus prior waves. On a relative basis, Hospitalizations are well below what was seen in prior Covid waves.

— Scott Gottlieb, MD (@ScottGottliebMD) December 28, 2021

That’s great but we’re not done. And it is hitting the kids. 


Claims of vaccine hesitancy in African countries are at odds with the reality on the ground

Our work serves as a continuous reminder that local demand for vaccines is high and access is the biggest barrier to increasing full vaccination rates — less than 3% for Uganda and 9% for the entire continent of Africa.

Despite encouraging lab and animal studies on Omicron's potential reduced pathogenicity, there's still plenty to worry about, especially in the US —70 million people unvaccinated, including children —the immunocompromised (>3%), even w/ 3-doses —the unknowns re: #LongCovid

— Eric Topol (@EricTopol) December 27, 2021

Amelia Nierenberg/NY Times:

Can Schools Handle Omicron?

The looming wave is shaking the rickety infrastructure that has kept schools running.

Across the nation’s 13,000 districts and 98,000 public schools this week, there are about 600 shuttered schools or districts, according to data from Burbio, a company that has tracked how schools have operated through the pandemic. There are fewer closures now than in November.

But the Omicron variant appears contagious enough to upend the shaky equilibrium that has allowed schools to stay open. Many are in dire need of substitute teachers and bus drivers, and can ill afford an outbreak that would send many staff members home.

Staff outbreaks are the key, from hospitals to airlines to schools.

I appreciate this because @MoNscience talks not just about the numbers, but about his case. "Mild to moderate" SUCKS. You do not want it.

— Bethany Brookshire (@BeeBrookshire) December 28, 2021

Hugo Lowell/Guardian:

Capitol panel to investigate Trump call to Willard hotel in hours before attack

The chairman said the select committee intended to scrutinize the phone call – revealed last month by the Guardian – should they prevail in their legal effort to obtain Trump White House records over the former president’s objections of executive privilege.

“That’s right,” Thompson said when asked by the Guardian whether the select committee would look into Trump’s phone call, and suggested House investigators had already started to consider ways to investigate Trump’s demand that Biden not be certified as president on 6 January.

It seems people are struggling to believe this @EricLevitz piece, based on @Wertwhile analysis, so let me add a few hard numbers to help clarify

— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) December 27, 2021

Randall D. Eliason/WaPo:

Here’s why a criminal referral for Trump by the Jan. 6 committee is a bad idea

At other times, during the course of its legislative or oversight work, Congress uncovers facts suggesting past criminal conduct unrelated to Congress itself. Again, here a referral alerts the Justice Department to the conduct so it can consider whether investigation and prosecution are appropriate.

But the Justice Department does not need a referral from Congress to be aware of the potential crimes surrounding Jan. 6 — including those potentially committed by Trump himself.

The events leading up to the assault on the Capitol are widely known. They have been the subject of numerous media reports and books, not to mention a full impeachment proceeding. The riot is the subject of what is likely the largest and most complex federal criminal investigation in history, with hundreds of people already indicted. The Justice Department is deeply enmeshed in investigating the events of Jan. 6 and does not need a congressional heads-up.

A criminal referral would be worse than unnecessary — it would be counterproductive.

2/2 Many hope to ignore what is said on right-wing media in hopes of starving it of oxygen. But @GoAngelo of @mmfa warns that if another Jan 6th uprising organizes online, “there will be a whiplash effect. Everyone will say, ‘How did that happen?’ Well, it’s been happening.”

— Evan Osnos (@eosnos) December 27, 2021

Mark Joseph Stern/Slate:

The One Thing Biden Is Doing Exceptionally Well

He is getting judges confirmed at a record pace, and his selections have been incredible.

There are two defining features of Biden’s push to remake the federal judiciary: speed and diversity. Let’s start with speed. In his first year, just 19 of Trump’s judicial nominees had received Senate confirmation. For President Barack Obama, that number was 13; for Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, it was 28. Biden, by contrast, has seen 40 of his judges confirmed already—the most since President Ronald Reagan. Eleven of Biden’s judges sit on the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals, where most federal cases are resolved. (For comparison, Obama placed just three judges on the Court of Appeals in his first year.)

Now turn to the other extraordinary aspect of Biden’s judicial nominees: their unprecedented demographic and professional diversity. In a comprehensive report, Alliance for Justice has highlighted the many firsts among this crop of judges: the first openly lesbian judge on the Court of Appeals (Beth Robinson); the first Korean American to sit on the Court of Appeals (Lucy Koh); the first Muslim federal judge (Zahid Quraishi); the first Black judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Tiffany Cunningham); the first woman of color to serve on the U.S. District Court in Maryland (Lydia Griggsby); the first Native American federal judge in Washington state (Lauren J. King)—the list goes on. According to Alliance for Justice, nearly 75 percent of Biden’s judicial nominees are women, and nearly 65 percent are people of color. For comparison, only 24 percent of Trump’s judicial nominees were women, and just 16 percent were people of color.

This is NEJM this week from the NBA showing mean clearance duration is 5.5 days in vaccinated and 7.5 days in unvaccinated individuals. That means the MAJORITY had not completed viral clearance by 5 days.

— Haitham Ahmed, MD, MPH (@haithamahmedmd) December 28, 2021

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: It’s infrastructure week… for real.


The quiet Biden-GOP talks behind the infrastructure deal

That embrace of a favored provision hit home with Cassidy. “The president made it clear that that was essential for him,” the senator said. “Since the president had said it must be there, obviously that was very helpful.”

And we have a bill.

— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) August 2, 2021

NY Times:

To Fight Vaccine Lies, Authorities Recruit an ‘Influencer Army’

The White House has teamed up with TikTok stars, while some states are paying “local micro influencers” for pro-vaccine campaigns.

Fewer than half of all Americans age 18 to 39 are fully vaccinated, compared with more than two-thirds of those over 50, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And about 58 percent of those age 12 through 17 have yet to receive a shot at all.

To reach these young people, the White House has enlisted an eclectic army of more than 50 Twitch streamers, YouTubers, TikTokers and the 18-year-old pop star Olivia Rodrigo, all of them with enormous online audiences. State and local governments have begun similar campaigns, in some cases paying “local micro influencers” — those with 5,000 to 100,000 followers — up to $1,000 a month to promote Covid-19 vaccines to their fans.

“These 500 tragedies are independent of the total number of children who contracted the virus. COVID would not be a worse disease if only 1,000 children contracted it, but 50% died. Either way, 500 children are dead. As Dr. Walensky said, “Children are not supposed to die”.

— Dr. Lisa Iannattone (@lisa_iannattone) August 1, 2021


Many parents still haven’t gotten their adolescent kids vaccinated. What are they waiting for?

For individual parents looking at their own kids, however, the choice doesn’t always seem so clear-cut. Abby had a seizure last year that was never fully explained by the slew of medical specialists the family visited, says Kensek, and she occasionally suffers from high blood pressure. It makes Kensek nervous about signing her up for a relatively new vaccine, despite assurances of its safety in general.

“I don’t see the necessity of poking that beast,” she says. “There’s just not enough [data] out there for us yet. The CDC says it’s safe, and that’s great. But how many times have they gone back on their suggestions?”

She’s hardly alone. 

“We’re seeing a lot of first doses right now, a lot of parents coming in, 30 to 40 year old age range bringing their 12-14 year old children as well,” Vanessa Davis, the clinic’s supervisor, said. It‘s reporting an 80% increase in demand from 2 weeks ago.

— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) August 1, 2021


Georgia health systems hesitate to mandate vaccines

Many health care systems across Georgia have no plans to mandate coronavirus vaccines for frontline workers, despite increasing infections caused by a variant that reportedly spreads as easily as chickenpox.

Nearly 60 major medical organizations called this week for mandatory vaccines for most health care workers, and an internal report surfaced from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that described the highly contagious nature of the Delta variant that is causing the latest increase. Even so, most health care systems in Georgia say that while they will require masks and follow other safety protocols, they’ll continue letting employees decide on their own about vaccinations.

Vaccination rates among health care workers vary widely across the state, although a majority of employees of many major providers have received at least one shot, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found.

NEW: It is widely expected that a #COVID19 vaccine will be authorized for kids under 12 this year. We looked at the size and characteristics of this population. They represent 15% of the US pop, or 48 million. w/@SArtiga2 @_KendalOrgera @tolbert_jen

— Jen Kates (@jenkatesdc) July 30, 2021

NY Times:

Already Distorting Jan. 6, G.O.P. Now Concocts Entire Counternarrative

In the Republicans’ disinformation campaign, the arrested Capitol rioters are political prisoners and Speaker Nancy Pelosi is to blame for the attack.

n the hours and days after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, rattled Republican lawmakers knew exactly who was to blame: Donald J. Trump. Loyal allies began turning on him. Top Republicans vowed to make a full break from his divisive tactics and dishonesties. Some even discussed removing him from office.

By spring, however, after nearly 200 congressional Republicans had voted to clear Mr. Trump during a second impeachment proceeding, the conservative fringes of the party had already begun to rewrite history, describing the Capitol riot as a peaceful protest and comparing the invading mob to a “normal tourist visit,” as one congressman put it.

This past week, amid the emotional testimony of police officers at the first hearing of a House select committee, Republicans completed their journey through the looking-glass, spinning a new counternarrative of that deadly day. No longer content to absolve Mr. Trump, they concocted a version of events in which those accused of rioting were patriotic political prisoners and Speaker Nancy Pelosi was to blame for the violence.

Some Smart Brevity®, from @axios:

— David Gura (@davidgura) August 1, 2021

Charlie Sykes/Bulwark:

They Really Are Deplorable

Mocking the blue

Our friend Olivia Troye asks: “Mocking the officers, the trauma they lived, and downplaying Jan 6... How do these people sleep at night?” The real answer: it’s not just their business model, it’s become a way of life.

On one level D’Souza’s mockery of police officers injured in the line of duty is just another example of performative assholery, but it also fits a pattern worth noting: Charlie Kirk mocks Simone Biles for “weakness,” Tucker Carlson cackles about critics, and Laura Ingraham ridicules victims of the January 6 riots.

None of this has any relationship to the fight for freedom, limited government, or national greatness, or anything like a coherent set of ideas. But there is a through-line here: a strutting posture of faux toughness, and the celebration of the “strong” as opposed to the weak.

We’ve seen this play before.

Having downplayed Trump's attempts to overturn the election, one must then poo poo worries about future elections. After all, if the GOP really has turned against American democracy, how can a person of integrity who respects the Constitution keep supporting the party? 4/x

— Nicholas Grossman (@NGrossman81) August 1, 2021

Kevin Drum/Mother Jones:

The Real Source of America’s Rising Rage

We are at war with ourselves, but not for the reasons you think.

What accounts for this? It’s here that our popular explanations run aground. It can’t be all about a rise in conspiracy theories, since they’ve been around for decades. It can’t be social media, since Facebook and Twitter have become popular in the political arena only over the past few years. It can’t be a decline in material comfort, since incomes and employment have steadily improved over the past couple of decades. It can’t really be social trends, since most of them have improved too. And most of the specific issues that might cause alarm—immigration, racism, and more—are unlikely candidates on their own. They may be highly polarizing, but in a concrete sense they haven’t gotten worse since 2000. In fact, they’ve mostly gotten better.

To find an answer, then, we need to look for things that (a) are politically salient and (b) have changed dramatically over the past two to three decades. The most obvious one is Fox News.

To an extent that many people still don’t recognize, Fox News is a grinding, daily cesspool of white grievance, mistrust of deep-state government, and a belief that liberals are literally trying to destroy the country out of sheer malice. Facebook and other social media outlets might have made this worse over the past few years—partly by acting as a sort of early warning system for new outrages bubbling up from the grassroots that Fox anchors can draw from—but Fox News remains the wellspring.

WSJ: FDA Advisers and former FDA officials familiar with the process predict that full approval of at least Pfizer’s vaccine could come in September or October.

— andrew kaczynski (@KFILE) August 1, 2021

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Bothsidesing the insurrection is a media failing

Greg Sargent/WaPo

The huge, gaping hole in our media discussion of the GOP and Jan. 6

The bare-bones chronology is that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) nixed two of McCarthy’s choices — Reps. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) — from serving on the committee. McCarthy then pulled his nominations of all other Republicans and declared none would serve.

The conventions of political reporting require that this is portrayed as a battle between equivalently motivated partisans: It’s a “partisan fight” or a “partisan brawl” or an escalation of “political tensions” or an “inability” to achieve a “bipartisan committee.”

Pelosi nixed Banks and Jordan because they have openly declared their hostility to the committee’s core investigative mission and have repeatedly raised doubts about the integrity of Donald Trump’s loss. They validated the lies that inspired the insurrection in the first place.

In short: Pelosi did not allow them to serve on the committee because their openly telegraphed goal was to sabotage the committee.

Anti-anti-anti-vax is a good way to put it, because Tucker etc. don’t outright say don’t get it, like antivaxxers, but do “just ask questions” to spread doubt and undermine vaccination efforts, which fits within the larger goal of discrediting authoritative sources of information

— Nicholas Grossman (@NGrossman81) July 22, 2021

Jill Lawrence/USA Today:

In vetoing Jordan and Banks, Pelosi safeguards history, democracy and Capitol attack probe

We can only hope that truth, facts, personal testimonies and violent video will lift the scales from American eyes and put the nation on a better path.

Say what you will about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and there are multitudes with lots to say, she is a woman with a steel backbone and a laser focus on history – both the centuries past and the countless pages yet to be written.

Though it was shocking and apparently unprecedented that she rejected two of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s choices for the select committee that will be investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, it probably should not have been. Pelosi is not interested in a dog-and-pony show, in distractions that will give endless fodder to conservative media outlets and undercut the gravity of the task before this panel.

A speaker who has helmed two impeachments, painful procedures that exposed egregious offenses by President Donald Trump yet failed to remove him from office, knows exactly what would happen if she gave a platform to Republican Reps. Jim Jordan and Jim Banks.  

Plum Line/WaPo:

How Kevin McCarthy is boosting the integrity of the Jan. 6 investigation

We should be thankful that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) just pulled Republicans out of any involvement in the select committee to examine the Jan. 6 insurrection. In so doing, he ensured that the committee’s investigation will both have more integrity and be more likely to undertake a valuable accounting.

Which goes to a larger truth about this moment: Efforts at a real examination of arguably the worst outbreak of political violence in modern times — and efforts to protect our democracy more broadly — will not be bipartisan. These things will be done by Democrats alone.

If you want to understand what's happening in Missouri with the delta variant, look no further than the contrast between @RoyBlunt , who isn't seeking reelection, and @HawleyMO , who has national ambitions. Then read my @KHNews latest:

— Lauren Weber (@LaurenWeberHP) July 21, 2021

Molly Jong-Fast/Daily beast:

The GOP Isn’t Sending Their Best, and Pelosi Isn’t Having It

The facts aren’t flattering to Republicans so their plan is to ignore the facts and throw shit at the wall and then try to blame Democrats for the stains and the stench.

McCarthy knew damn well what he was doing when he offered up two election deniers to sit on the committee in the first place. There’s no one in the world who considers jacketless Jim a serious appointment. He is a Trump sycophant who spends most of his time trying to say insane stuff so that he can get on Fox News.

With the rest of the party walking away, the only remaining Republican looks to be Liz Cheney, who Pelosi appointed after McCarthy kicked her out of the party’s leadership for calling an insurrection an insurrection and putting loyalty to country above loyalty to Trump.

folks lecturing others on what (not to) do are missing the point Governors and pundits don't determine whether regular customers wear masks, that's mostly up to the customers

— Greg Dworkin (@DemFromCT) July 22, 2021


White House officials debate masking push as covid infections spike

One idea batted around by some officials would be to ask all Americans to wear masks when vaccinated and unvaccinated people mix at public places or indoors, such as at malls or movie theaters, according to two people familiar with the conversations.

So far, leaders in the White House have been hesitant about any policies that would explicitly require Americans to show proof of their vaccination status, according to a person familiar with those talks. Depending on where discussions lead, that decision could ultimately fall to business owners who want to offer mask-free environments.

Finally, the ID vs ophthalmology throw-down we’ve been waiting for

— Ilan Schwartz MD PhD (@GermHunterMD) July 20, 2021



My good lords, I must bring to your attention a grave issue that requires our utmost concern. You see, my fellow land-owning gentry, it seems that the invention of mechanized industry, the rise of “capitalism,” and the impact of the recent plague have brought upon us a wave of moral degradation and irredeemable sloth — specifically, nobody wants to be a serf anymore.

This newfound modicum of control the peasant class has over their lives has brought us to a dark new reality in which the serfs have become so lazy that they’ll no longer toil without pay on land they do not own yet can never leave, and instead leach upon the system by searching out more equitable work.

The drop in cases and deaths occurred following start of vaccinations as been reversed in the UK by the delta variant. Hospitalizations are on the rise in many states the US, and it appears almost all are unvaccinated. Deaths will like rise here as well. Please get vaccinated.

— Vincent Rajkumar (@VincentRK) July 22, 2021

Ed Yong/Atlantic:

America Is Getting Unvaccinated People All Wrong

They’re not all anti-vaxxers, and treating them as such is making things worse.

Rhea Boyd: It was a tele-townhall, and around 5,000 people participated. I would have imagined that people who stayed on would be unvaccinated, but the people who asked questions were a mix. I had one gentleman who was vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson and he asked, “Did I get a safe shot?” We affirmed for him that this far after his vaccination, he’s likely safe, but that opened my eyes. If you’ve heard about that serious side effect and are worried if you’re at risk, you’re probably not encouraging the people around you to be vaccinated.

Yong: That’s fascinating to me. There’s a tendency to assume that all vaccinated people are pro-vaccine and all unvaccinated people are anti-vaccine. But your experience suggests that there’s also vaccine hesitancy among vaccinated people.

Boyd: Yes, and we tend to hear similar questions among people who are unvaccinated. They may also have heard common threads of disinformation, but they’re still asking basic questions. The top one is around side effects, which are one of the main things we talk about when we give informed consent for any procedure. If people aren’t sure about that, it’s no wonder they’re still saying no.

A lot of vaccine information isn’t common knowledge. Not everyone has access to Google. This illustrates preexisting fault lines in our health-care system, where resources—including credible information—don’t get to everyone. The information gap is driving the vaccination gap. And language that blames “the unvaccinated” misses that critical point. Black folks are one of the least vaccinated groups, in part because they have the least access to preventive health-care services.

And similarly, the fact that the GOP doesn’t have any serious public policies to offer - hasn’t been interested in tackling actual public policy problems in a long, long time - is just greeted with a shrug. Meanwhile, every Democratic proposal is met with intense scrutiny.

— Thomas Zimmer (@tzimmer_history) July 22, 2021

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: The pandemic isn’t over yet

‘Like we’re on an island’: How Missouri’s inaction allowed delta variant to spread

On June 2 Jessica Pearson, an epidemiologist with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, sent a concerned but business-as-usual email to local health officials in the northwest corner of the state.

Pearson took note of the highly contagious COVID-19 delta variant, which had surged in some northern Missouri counties.

“Just a reminder that there is nothing additional that needs to be done as far as public health action for variant cases,” Pearson wrote, recapping a conference call earlier that day, “but we emphasize the importance of a timely investigation and implementation of control measures.”

One month later, as the United States as a whole experiences the fewest cases and hospitalizations in months, Missouri is in crisis.

This isn’t COVID porn, as it’s sometimes labeled by those who want to pretend we’re done. We are in a good place in half the country but the other half is beginning to struggle. And since people travel, caution is appropriate.

The Delta hit to the US is now extending from cases to hospitalizations, 13 states with >65% Delta prevalence now with ≥25% increase of hospitalizations over past 14 days

— Eric Topol (@EricTopol) July 11, 2021

Erika Edwards/NBCNews:

Unvaccinated hospitalized patients say they regret not getting the shot

A year and a half into the pandemic, low vaccination rates and the rise of the delta variant threaten to cripple some hospital systems.

To describe Dr. Ryan Dare as frustrated would be a gross understatement.

Dare and his colleagues at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock are dealing with a surge in extremely ill Covid-19 patients — one that is "nearly 100 percent preventable."

That's because virtually all of their patients are unvaccinated. And now they wish they had gotten the shots when they had the chance.

Good point:

— David Cay Johnston (@DavidCayJ) July 10, 2021

Josephine Harvey/HuffPost:

‘Pandemic Is Not Over’: Florida Republican Describes Harrowing COVID-19 Ordeal

James Ring, president of the Lakeland GOP, said he hadn’t taken the time to get vaccinated yet.

A Florida Republican official has urged people to get vaccinated and wear masks after he got badly sick with COVID-19 last month and feared he “wasn’t going to make it out of the hospital alive.”

James Ring, president of the Republican Party of Lakeland, Florida, said he had grown complacent about remembering to wear a mask and hadn’t gotten around to getting vaccinated yet.

The CDC has released new guidance urging schools to fully reopen in the fall, even if they cannot take all of the steps the agency recommends to curb the spread of the coronavirus

— Apoorva Mandavilli (@apoorva_nyc) July 9, 2021

Maya Wiley/WaPo:

 I lost the NYC mayoral race, but women and minorities win with ranked-choice voting

As a Black woman and civil rights attorney, I had many emotional experiences during the campaign that just ended. But my brief Harlem encounter was one of the most humbling. I had a real shot at becoming the 110th mayor in a city that had elected 109 men, and only one of those a person of color. In an unprecedented race held during a pandemic, with more than 30 candidates, a shortened election cycle and less name recognition than other top contenders, I came in third. But ranked-choice voting (RCV) was neither an explanation for the outcome nor an impediment to Black women winning in the future.

One of the more telling things I have read about the Washington press corps and what it prizes. The theme is coming down from the insane high of Trump to the sedate professionalism of the Biden White House. In commenting on this they reveal themselves.

— Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) July 9, 2021

Julia Ioffe/Tomorrow Will Be Worse (newsletter):

The Agony and Ecstasy of the Trump Reporters, After the Fall of Trump

The prominent White House reporter, however, acknowledged an occasional feeling of loss. “I loved covering Trump,” they said. “It was a great and fascinating story. It wasn’t just about him; it was about his movement and the institutions and America. The story was always so dramatic and had these larger than life characters. The stakes often felt very high. I like covering Biden, too, but it just doesn’t feel as dramatic. It’s a slightly better work-life balance, and I’m not waking up at 5:30 in the morning, wondering what the president tweeted and what direction it will send my day in. It was exciting and exhilarating, but it’s fucking exhausting.”

Some were relieved for the country’s sake. “I’m not of the camp that misses Trump,” said the broadcast reporter. “I understand the sentiment, but you also have to step back and look at what happened on January 6. This isn’t a fun game that we’re playing on Twitter, it’s serious. It’s bigger than you and your career.”

But many feel a yawning sense of emptiness and disappointment at what the ebbing Trump tide left behind. “I think everyone probably misses the ease of it, having so many willing leakers,” said the young White House reporter. “It made you think that you were better than you were. It made you think you were a really good reporter, but really, are you? I think we had an inflated sense of our abilities and it was all a fraud. Now everyone is exposed and everyone is dogshit. Where are the great stories? They don’t exist. I can’t remember the last time I read a great story that really revealed something about the Biden White House.”

A very detailed look at election administration in 2020.

— Charles Franklin (@PollsAndVotes) July 10, 2021

Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt/Atlantic:

The Biggest Threat to Democracy Is the GOP Stealing the Next Election

Unless and until the Republican Party recommits itself to playing by democratic rules of the game, American democracy will remain at risk.

As we argued in How Democracies Die, our constitutional system relies heavily on forbearance. Whether it is the filibuster, funding the government, impeachment, or judicial nominations, our system of checks and balances works best when politicians on both sides of the aisle deploy their institutional prerogatives with restraint. In other words, when they avoid applying the letter of the law in ways contrary to the spirit of the law—what’s sometimes called constitutional hardball. When contemporary democracies die, they usually do so via constitutional hardball. Democracy’s primary assailants today are not generals or armed revolutionaries, but rather politicians—Hugo Chávez, Vladimir Putin, Viktor Orbán, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan—who eviscerate democracy’s substance behind a carefully crafted veneer of legality and constitutionality.

This is precisely what could happen in the next U.S. presidential race. Elections require forbearance. For elections to be democratic, all adult citizens must be equally able to cast a ballot and have that vote count. Using the letter of the law to violate the spirit of this principle is strikingly easy. Election officials can legally throw out large numbers of ballots on the basis of the most minor technicalities (e.g., the oval on the ballot is not entirely penciled in, or the mail-in ballot form contains a typo or spelling mistake). Large-scale ballot disqualification accords with the letter of the law, but it is inherently antidemocratic, for it denies suffrage to many voters. Crucially, if hardball criteria are applied unevenly, such that many ballots are disqualified in one party’s stronghold but not in other areas, they can turn an election.

Un. Be. Lievable. The underlying article about the conflict is here:

— hilzoy (@hilzoy) July 9, 2021

Lisa Rosenbaum/NEJM:

No Cure without Care — Soothing Science Skepticism

Whereas many people’s fundamental heuristic for health-related decisions is to trust medical and scientific experts, vaccine hesitancy reminds us of the many competing forces informing people’s intuitions about health, be they religious, political, historical, or identity-based. To be clear, some of these forces are identifiable and should be addressed; the contribution of historical abuses and ongoing systemic racism to vaccine hesitancy in minority communities is a notable example. But in understanding people who simply have a feeling that Covid vaccines should be avoided, identifying specific heuristics matters less than simply recognizing the limits of data in shaping perceptions of truth. “We don’t make our decisions about what’s true based on an analysis of evidence,” Levinovitz emphasized. “It’s a profound misconception of how people figure out reality.”

Though Covid hasn’t changed human nature, its devastating consequences have highlighted the gap between what is true and what people believe. One memorable low for me was reading a South Dakota nurse’s description of patients who were critically ill with Covid but continued to insist the virus was a hoax until the moment they were intubated.2 If you can be denying the existence of a disease while you’re dying from it, what hope is there for science to persuade people unaffected by that disease to take it seriously enough to get vaccinated?

For some subset of the population, not much. But although people who are aggressively denying science and disregarding others’ health loom large in our minds, there are probably many more who are simply bewildered and no longer know whom or what to trust. Undoubtedly, current vaccine skepticism is partly rooted in factors specific to this moment and these particular vaccines. But to the extent that hesitancy also reflects deeper, longer-standing fractures in our relationship with the public, its exploration provides an opportunity to improve patient care in ways that go far beyond the pandemic.

This really seems extreme and a harbinger of what is to come: veteran (and tenured) high school teacher and baseball coach dismissed from school after he assigned a Ta-Nehisi Coates essay and poem about white privilege.

— Don Moynihan (@donmoyn) July 9, 2021

List of authors.

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: After Juneteenth, a reckoning of sorts

Washington Examiner:

Arizona election analysis finds GOP voters disenchanted with Trump helped Biden win

Benny White, a Republican election researcher who previously ran for Pima County recorder, joined with Democrat Larry Moore and independent Tim Halvorsen, two retired executives from election company Clear Ballot, performed an analysis of the cast vote record in the November general election in Maricopa County. White has worked on over two dozen previous election audits, and Moore has had experience in more than 200, White told the Washington Examiner.

White, who said he voted for Trump in both elections, spent weeks with his team analyzing the cast vote record, which was obtained through a public records request on May 7. The data can be used to confirm vote tabulations and better understand voting patterns and behavior.

Here’s a piece on Opal Lee from Variety (Why 94-Year-Old Activist Opal Lee Marched to Make Juneteenth a National Holiday).

Derek Robertson/Politico Magazine:

How Republicans Became the ‘Barstool’ Party

The Barstool-ification of the GOP could reconfigure its cultural politics for a generation.

One of Trump’s early adopters articulated the mindset perfectly in August 2015, back when Jeb! was still his closest primary threat: “I am voting for Donald Trump. I don’t care if he’s a joke. I don’t care if he’s racist. I don’t care if he’s sexist. I don’t care about any of it. I hope he stays in the race and I hope he wins. Why? Because I love the fact that he is making other politicians squirm. I love the fact he says shit nobody else will say, regardless of how ridiculous it is.”

Is it surprising that Republican politicians would constantly prefer to talk about the party’s record on race in the 1800s?

— Michael Freeman (@michaelpfreeman) June 20, 2021

Brian Karem/The Bulwark:

The GOP’s Alternate Reality Industry

Plus, Eric Swalwell’s restroom run-in with Ted Cruz.

Representative Eric Swalwell, a Democrat from California, told me of a chilling revelation he had when he once happened across Ted Cruz in the Senate men’s room during Trump’s second impeachment trial. Swalwell calls his epiphany “my pro-wrestling theory.”

According to Swalwell, many of the members of the GOP look at themselves as something like pro-wrestling performers. They know it’s fake—kayfabe, as it’s called in wrestling—and so do the voters. “For most of these guys, they don’t look at their constituents as the people they represent,” Swalwell told me in an interview for my “Just Ask the Question” podcast. “They look at them as their fans.”

Which brings us to that restroom run-in during the impeachment trial. Swalwell, recall, was one of the House managers making the case for holding Trump to account for the events of January 6. When Swalwell ran into Cruz, the Texas senator told him, “Hey I just want you to know you’re doing a great job out there.”

Swalwell was taken aback. Cruz had scorched him on Twitter and on Fox News within 24 hours of running into him in the restroom—yet according to Swalwell, the senator acted like “we’re two pro wrestlers. We’re bros.”

It’s kayfabe, baby. But do you even lift, bro?

The UK has warned the US 3 times. We're 1 for 2 so far. 1. Covid is coming. Response: "It won't happen here" X 2. Alpha variant. Response: Solid vaccination campaign, a bump instead of a surge ✓ 3. Delta variant. Response is lacking any sense of urgency to date

— Eric Topol (@EricTopol) June 19, 2021

iNews (UK):

G7 summit was ‘super spreading’ event for Cornwall as cases rocket 2,450% after Johnson and Biden visit

Areas of Cornwall where G7 events were focused saw infections rise more than 2,000 per cent in the seven days leading up to the end of the meeting between global leaders .

The G-File, from ⁦@JonahDispatch⁩: American Passover

— The Dispatch (@thedispatch) June 18, 2021

David Rothkopf/USA Today:

Joe Biden is better on the world stage than any president since George H.W. Bush

It is probably unfair to compare Biden's early performance to the first months of Donald Trump, the only president in U.S. history to have had zero public service experience of any kind before he took office. In fact, it’s probably unfair to compare him with any of his predecessors since the senior Bush. Former Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, former Texas Gov. George W. Bush and freshman Sen. Barack Obama all came into office with little or no international affairs experience. And it showed.

Good Lord. This ⁦@DouthatNYT⁩ column is incoherent. The reason liberals aren’t as exercised about Russia these days is that they’re not worried about Biden selling us out to Putin.

— Dan Kennedy (@dankennedy_nu) June 20, 2021


Juneteenth forces U.S. to confront lasting impact of slavery economy

Why it matters: That lack of generational wealth still denies Black families the economic security that many white families take for granted.

By the numbers: Around $50 trillion of economic resources and labor has not been paid to Black people since slavery, Rochester told Axios. Advocates say this legacy of slavery must be addressed to tackle systemic racism.

EXCLUSIVE: Last year MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell said he’d convert 75% his factories to making masks. He did. It was a multimillion-dollar bust. Now he’s sitting on millions of masks he despises & wants to burn. He told me all about it @thedailybeast

— Roger Sollenberger found true love, suckers (@SollenbergerRC) June 19, 2021

Nicole Bibbins Sedaca/The Bulwark:

How Juneteenth Observance Can Rekindle Our Democracy

Our failings remind us of the importance of our democratic values.

But our rememberance cannot be merely a passive observation of past events. Like Independence Day, Juneteenth National Independence Day—as the holiday will now officially be known—must be at once a celebration, a reminder, and a challenge.We celebrate the universal and lasting importance of democratic values and institutions.We are reminded of the fact that even democratic nations quite often fall short of these values. And, hopefully, we rise to the challenge of our shortcomings by using the opportunity of democracy to create an ever more perfect union. Democracy and democratic values do not lose their importance because of human failing. Human failing reminds us of the need for democracy and democratic values.

It’s Juneteenth, the rest is fancy ‘no one will use it’ stuff. It’s like trying to rename the Bronx Zoo (they’ve tried and failed).

G.O.P. lawmakers have also stripped secretaries of state of their power, asserted more control over state election boards, made it easier to overturn election results, and pursued several partisan audits and inspections of 2020 results.

— Nicolle Wallace (@NicolleDWallace) June 19, 2021

Troy Patterson/New Yorker:

The Celebration of Juneteenth in Ralph Ellison’s “Juneteenth”

In a pinch, any passage of Ellison will do. The novelist was a tremendous writer of passages who spent four decades, between the incandescent accomplishment of “Invisible Man” and his death, in 1994, producing many reams of stunning ones that never coalesced into a proper novel. He had the problem of a house fire that consumed at least some of a manuscript; he had the challenge of setting down an expansive parable about race in America in bright, hard language, like the radiant vernacular of a jazz-head Joyce. He had been dead for seventeen years when the bulk of this latter work was published as an eleven-hundred-and-thirty-six-page behemoth called “Three Days Before The Shooting . . .”—a vast slab of gorgeous marble amounting to an incomplete monument. “Juneteenth,” published in 1999, at three hundred and sixty-eight pages, is the fine effort of his executor, John F. Callahan, to shape the manuscript into a comprehensible sculpture.

This by @Calthalas in @ForeignPolicy is really good #MedievalTwitter #twitterstorians

— Matt Gabriele (@prof_gabriele) June 20, 2021

Harry Siegel/Daily Beast:

Eric Adams Wears a Gun, Brandishes Dead Rats, and Maybe Lives in Jersey. He Could be NYC’s Next Mayor.

There’s only been one, or maybe two, mayors of New York City in my lifetime who were not weirdos: the gentlemanly and restrained David Dinkins for sure; and arguably the Clash-loving, dad joke-making Massachusetts native Bill de Blasio, a veteran of the Dinkins administration who’s gone after this year thanks to term limits. Ed KochRudy Giuliani, and even Mike Bloomberg were each, in their own inimitable ways, unhinged.

If the polls hold and former cop, Republican, and Louis Farrakhan admirer and current vegan Eric Adams wins the Democratic primary on Tuesday that will almost surely decide the city’s next mayor, we’ve got another character coming. Adams’ oft-recited political origin story involves getting beaten up by the police as a teen along with his older brother Conrad after they broke into the apartment of a prostitute he says owed them money for running errands, and then deciding to become a cop himself to reform the NYPD from within.