Monday, May 10, 2021

Monday Reading


As always, please go to the links for the full articles/ op eds.

The Washington Post has an exposé on the genesis of the election- fraud myth, now an article of faith among Republicans and their cult leader.  It's a deep dive and, as they say, a first draft of history:

Key elements of the baseless claim that the 2020 election was stolen from President Donald Trump took shape in an airplane hangar here two years earlier, promoted by a Republican businessman who has sold everything from Tex-Mex food in London to a wellness technology that beams light into the human bloodstream.

At meetings beginning late in 2018, as Republicans were smarting from midterm losses in Texas and across the country, Russell J. Ramsland Jr. and his associates delivered alarming presentations on electronic voting to a procession of conservative lawmakers, activists and donors.  [snip]

Ramsland, a failed congressional candidate with a Harvard MBA, pitched a claim that seemed rooted in evidence: Voting-machine audit logs — lines of codes and time stamps that document the machines’ activities — contained indications of vote manipulation. In the retrofitted hangar that served as his company’s offices at the edge of a municipal airstrip outside Dallas, Ramsland attempted to persuade failed Republican candidates to challenge their election results and force the release of additional data that might prove manipulation.

“We had to find the right candidate,” said Laura Pressley, a former Ramsland ally whose own claim that audit logs showed fraud had been rejected in court two years earlier. “We had to find one who knew they won.”  [snip]

No candidate agreed to bring a challenge, and the idea of widespread vote manipulation remained on the political fringe — until 2020, when Ramsland’s assertions were seized upon by influential allies of Trump. The president himself accelerated the spread of those claims into the GOP mainstream as he latched onto an array of baseless ideas to explain his loss in November.

The enduring myth that the 2020 election was rigged was not one claim by one person. It was many claims stacked one atop the other, repeated by a phalanx of Trump allies...

Of course, the unbalanced, narcissistic former guy was the perfect candidate for this bunch of conspiratorial putschists, and his party of aggrieved, low- information, authoritarian- friendly voters the perfect seed bed.

James Downie discusses the fact that there's no intra- party "battle for the soul of the Republican Party":

... The Republican Party playbook is the same as it ever was: Disguise worshipfully pro-big business, pro-wealthy policies with appeals to the resentments of President Richard M. Nixon’s “silent majority” or Sarah Palin’s “real Americans” or whatever label the party prefers for a specific type of White American. Every liberal project — from Social Security in the 1930s to Medicare and integration in the 1960s to the Affordable Care Act and same-sex marriage in the 2010s — is cast as a mortal threat to freedom pushed by the eggheads, the ivory tower or the coastal elites. The threat of “outside agitators” becomes the peril of “political correctness” becomes the menace of “ridiculous wokeness” — the term Cheney used in her Post op-ed last week. They’re all the same look.

Yes, Trump has turned some of these traits up to 11. The dog whistles became bullhorns; the “executive time” administration plumbed new depths of incompetence. But for Republicans, as televangelist and later right-wing presidential candidate Pat Robertson said 40 years ago, “it’s better to have a stable government under a crook than turmoil under an honest man.” The threat of liberalism outweighs the risk of an inept, amoral or fascistic president. The Trump era — including its culmination in January’s attempted insurrection — was not out of step with that. There’s no “battle” for the party’s soul; there are only the party leaders who will keep swimming in this foul stream leaving behind those that don’t. For the rest of the country, including the media, reckoning with that fact means being honest about it — the sooner, the better.

That's a challenge to the Republican- wired media, most of whom feel safe to revert to their natural anti- government, both sides posture now that Democrats have temporarily fought off the violent insurrectionists on their behalf.

Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog sees a way vaccine- hesitant people might be reached:

So how do we reach them? I'm hoping the numbers change once the vaccines reach full approval -- not just because full approval might persuade a few holdouts that the shots are safe, but because, for once, capitalism might act on behalf of the public good, even if that's not the primary intention. Here's a detail from last week's vaccine news:

Pfizer and BioNTech have begun the process of applying for full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of its coronavirus vaccine, the companies announced Friday morning....

If the vaccine is fully approved, it sets the stage for Pfizer and BioNTech to begin advertising the shots directly to consumers....

America is one of only two countries on Earth that allow direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising. (New Zealand is the other.) This combined with the drug industry's relentless marketing of pricey new products to doctors is one reason our healthcare costs are so high.

However, Big Pharma is good at selling us drugs we didn't know we wanted. The drug industry knows how to make us want to walk into our doctors' offices and ask for a new drug we've seen on TV or in Web ads.

So maybe consumer advertising will succeed where earnest entreaties haven't. And if not, there's always free beer

It would also be helpful, and humane, for Big Pharma to waive vaccine patents to allow world- wide production, research and development largely paid for by the American taxpayer.  But no one's holding their breath.

In the meantime, the catastrophic death toll of the COVID-19 pandemic was doubtless under- counted:

Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday said he has “no doubt” that the number of Americans killed by COVID-19 is much higher than what has been officially reported, after a recent study counted nearly double the amount recorded by federal health officials.

“We’ve been saying — and the CDC has been saying all along — that it is very likely that we’re undercounting,” Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has placed the number of deaths in the U.S. at around 577,800. In comparison, a study from the University of Washington released Thursday tallied around 905,000 deaths.

“That’s a bit more than I would have thought the undercounting was,” Fauci said of that difference. “I think there’s no doubt ... that we are and have been undercounting. What that tells us is something that we’ve known. You know, we’re living through a historic pandemic, the likes of which we haven’t seen in over a hundred years.”

... not to mention a "Presidency" the likes of which we haven't seen in 232 years. 

Infidel 753 has his usual, excellent collection of links to posts from around the Internet, including how France just got shrunk a little and a commencement address for our time.  Check it out (and bookmark his blog!).

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