Dystopia Now

That which is a sin within a certain set of religious beliefs is to be made a crime for all.

– Margaret Atwood, “I invented Gilead. The Supreme Court is making it real.

This week’s featured post is “White replacement is MAGA’s unified field theory“.

This week everybody we tried not to talk about our one million dead

If you’d told anybody at the beginning of this pandemic that one million Americans would die in it, their almost certain reaction would have been that we should do whatever we can to avoid that outcome. But we didn’t.

It was the Trump administration, so of course the existence and seriousness of the disease turned into a political issue, and the country polarized into those who wanted to do what we could and those who wanted to ignore the whole thing and get on with life.

The one thing Trump did right was support vaccine development, and once he got into office Biden pushed every way he could to get the country vaccinated. But the political polarization got in the way, as well as the by-then well established networks of medical disinformation. So almost a year and a half after vaccines were approved, only 78% have received any vaccination at all, 66% are considered fully vaccinated, and a mere 31% have gotten a vaccine booster. (I got my second booster a week ago. I’ve been fortunate; none of the four shots have led to any adverse reaction beyond a little soreness at the site of the injection.)

Mask mandates are gone almost everywhere, and voluntary mask usage is way down. (I still wear one when I’m indoors in public.) It’s like we’ve all given up.

As the virus evolves, the vaccines no longer do that good a job of preventing infection, but they’re still very effective at preventing serious illness or death.

Right now, cases are surging: The 90K reported cases is almost certainly an undercount. I personally know people who tested positive at home, had only minor symptoms, and quarantined until they got better. Their cases never made it into the official statistics.

Deaths are harder to ignore, so the numbers are more accurate. They’re staying down; they’ve been in the 300s per day for more than three weeks. Hospitalizations are up, but only 21% in the last two weeks.

so instead we talked about the shooting in Buffalo

The featured post is about the Buffalo race massacre on Saturday, how it resembles past race massacres, and the White Replacement Theory that has motivated all of them.

The Buffalo shooting overshadowed another shooting: six people got shot in a church in California.

and Russia’s bad week


Putin’s original plan, I imagine, was for his stunning military success in Ukraine to set NATO on its heels. The old Warsaw Pact countries and once-Soviet Baltic republics would tremble with fear, doubting that the US or Germany had the resolve to stand by them in a crisis. Conquest of Ukraine might be the hammer-blow that shattered the European alliance.

Instead, Ukraine has exposed the weakness of the Russian military machine, NATO has banded more tightly together, and the NATO countries have provided the Ukrainians with billions in advanced weaponry.

And now Finland and Sweden, which had no plans to join NATO before Putin’s Ukraine invasion, are about to apply for membership. Finland’s president and prime minister announced their intention to apply Thursday, and Sweden is expected to apply sometime this week. Accepting new members requires unanimous approval from the existing members (which makes sense, considering that everyone will be obligated to defend the new members once they join), and Turkey is expressing doubts; but most speculation is that Erdogan is looking to get some concessions, not that he really wants to block the new members.

The first Russian offensive had to retreat from Kyiv, and now the second is pulling back from Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv.

Another military failure this week happened Tuesday, when Ukrainian artillery destroyed a pontoon bridge Russian forces were using to cross the Siverskyi Donets river in eastern Ukraine. Reports seem to show an entire battalion wiped out, including dozens of tanks and other vehicles. Retired Australian Major General Mick Ryan did a tweetstorm on military river crossings in general and this disastrous one in particular.

Saturday, as their colleague Rand Paul delayed President Biden’s Ukraine aid package, Republican senators visited Kyiv, producing this photo op for Moscow Mitch and his buddies.

Folks on Twitter competed to caption the photo. The hands-down winner is Amy Berg: “This is the closest Russian operatives have gotten to Zelensky since the invasion started.”

Berg’s caption is a little unfair, given the mostly bipartisan support Ukraine has received in Congress so far. But the Sharpie-writing is on the wall, and Ukraine’s fight for survival will soon become a partisan issue. Back in March, only three GOP congresspeople refused to stand up to Russian aggression.

Little by little, however, with each proposal, a few more Republicans would sign up: eight Republicans opposed suspending trade privileges for Russia in mid-March; 17 Republicans opposed a resolution supporting Moldova, whose leaders fear their Ukraine-bordering nation could be Putin’s next target; 19 opposed a similar resolution in support for Georgia.

Then, on April 27, 55 House Republicans opposed legislation to build secure telecommunications networks in Ukraine and neighboring nations. Finally, on Tuesday,, 57 Republicans opposed President Biden’s request for $40 billion in weapons and humanitarian aid

Friday, Trump came out against the $40 billion. Who knows? He may yet get to build Trump Tower Moscow.

The WaPo points out that we’re experiencing mission creep in Ukraine. Originally, we were aiding the Ukrainians in hope that Russia wouldn’t take over the whole country. Now our rhetoric has shifted towards a Ukrainian victory.

and reactions to the prospect of losing abortion rights


The Senate failed to pass a bill codifying abortion rights at the federal level. The bill got 49 votes, with Joe Manchin and all Republicans voting against it.

The featured post covers the link between abortion (especially Senator Daines’ weird comparison to sea turtles and eagles) and White Replacement Theory. Fear for the future of the white race justifies the push towards a Handmaid’s Tale dystopia. (A fertility crisis was the presenting problem in the novel, if you remember.) We need to take away women’s rights, the theory goes, because White women are not doing their job. Recall the advice once given to British women with unappealing husbands: “Close your eyes and think of England.

This 2019 Onion article isn’t a joke any more: “Abused 12-Year-Old Alabama Girl Doesn’t Think She Can Handle Being A Mom On Top Of Everything Else“.

The Republicans’ most effective talking point against the Democrats’ codify-Roe bill concerns third-trimester abortions, which anti-abortion activists describe as “partial birth” abortions.

These abortions poll badly, largely because the public has been sold a false picture of them. It’s important to understand two things about late-term abortions.

  • They’re rare. In 2019, the CDC tabulated 4882 US abortions after 21 weeks of gestation, out of 491,901 total abortions, or less than 1%. An study from 2018 estimated that only about 160 happened after 28 weeks.
  • Each one is a special case, often involving unforeseen medical problems that either threaten the health of the pregnant woman or presage some hellish future for the fetus after birth.

NPR recounts the example of Dana Weinstein, whose doctors told her that her fetus’ brain was not developing properly:

“[We were told] that our baby would have seizures 70% of the time — that was a best-case scenario; that when we delivered her, that we’d need to have a resuscitation order in place because she would most likely seize to death,” Weinstein said.

Almost a decade later, Weinstein and her husband are the parents of three active children — a boy and two girls. She’s 48, living in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., and working for a nonprofit.

She still tears up when she talks about that diagnosis and the difficult decisions that surrounded it. Fearing a short and painful life for their baby, Weinstein and her husband chose to travel to Boulder, Colo., to end the pregnancy, at one of the few clinics in the country that offer third-trimester abortions.

Weinstein has been speaking publicly about her experience for years. But she decided to tell her story again recently, amid renewed national debate over decisions like hers.

“I just don’t understand why and how this is so front and center in the national debate,” Weinstein said. “I would have given anything to have been able to help our baby live if she could have lived. But she was going to be incapable of that.”

Under the bills anti-abortion activists want to pass on the state level, Weinstein would have been forced to give birth and watch her daughter die painfully.

When you look at such real examples rather than hypotheticals, their messy complexity points out why these decisions have to be made case-by-case, by the people who are actually involved, and not by legislators dealing in abstractions or bureaucrats crafting one-size-fits-all rules.

Pete Buttigieg expressed things well in a 2019 Fox News town hall.

So, let’s put ourselves in the shoes of a woman in that situation. If it’s that late in your pregnancy, that means almost by definition you’ve been expecting to carry it to term.

We’re talking about women who have perhaps chosen the name, women who have purchased the crib, families that then get the most devastating medical news of their lifetime, something about the health or the life of the mother that forces them to make an impossible, unthinkable choice.

That decision is not going to be made any better, medically or morally, because the government is dictating how that decision should be made.

Clarence Thomas says the leak of Alito’s draft opinion “changes the institution fundamentally. You begin looking over your shoulder.” @PopeHat seems not to have forgotten Anita Hill:

Yeah, imagine being constantly afraid a coworker would do something inappropriate

and primaries

Fascinating race on the Democratic side in Pennsylvania, which votes tomorrow. Rep. Conor Lamb is a model of the kind of Democrat party leaders like to run in swing states: “a congenial, manicured candidate straight from Hollywood central casting who could appeal to voters turned off by Trump while still wary of the party that opposed the 45th president”. Ex-military, a former prosecutor with moderate positions on wedge issues, he won his seat in Congress in a swing district special election in early 2018, and then held the seat in the 2018 fall election and in 2020.

But the polls say he’s losing badly to Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, who takes more liberal positions on issues, but also is more of a character. One voter says he “has the ‘it factor’. I find him lovable.” Six-foot nine, wandering around in a Carhartt hoody and gym shorts, Fetterman says what he believes in very blunt, simple terms, and isn’t afraid to campaign in rural areas where Democratic candidates are seldom seen.

According to the longstanding right/left view of American politics, Lamb should be the better general-election candidate because he’s closer to the center on issues. But Fetterman has the common touch. The two candidates’ messages to swing voters are very different: Lamb isn’t crazy (like the Republican candidates are) and doesn’t take positions at odds with White working-class values (as Fetterman sometimes does). But Fetterman wants those voters to say, “He doesn’t always agree with me, but he gets me.”

I’d like to think that approach works. (It’s more-or-less what Jon Tester does. His views look centrist to Democrats nationally, but he’s way left-of-center for Montana.) I guess we’ll see in November.

As if all that wasn’t interesting enough, Fetterman suffered a stroke Friday. His campaign claims he is on his way to a full recovery. In a video taken in the hospital, Fetterman speaks clearly, but lets his wife do the bulk of the talking. (They’re cute together. She takes credit for making him get his symptoms checked out. “Because I was right, as always.”)

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that it wanted to make endorsements on the Republican side of tomorrow’s primary, but “we can’t” because so many Republican candidates aren’t “operating in the same reality” where the Inquirer lives. In particular, they had a hard time getting Republican candidates to admit that Joe Biden had won the 2020 election.

How do you find points of agreement when you can’t reach common ground on facts so basic that they could be used in a field sobriety test?

Case in point, on the national level: Third-ranking House Republican Elise Stefanik. (Remember? She replaced Liz Cheney as the token woman in the GOP leadership team when Cheney decided to be honest about January 6.) These days her whole Twitter feed is about the baby-formula shortage, and one tweet begins

The White House, House Dems, & usual pedo grifters are so out of touch with the American people

This is where the GOP has gotten: Members of leadership can associate the President and Democrats in general with pedophilia, without the slightest justification. Because, like, facts — who needs them?

BTW, about that baby formula shortage. One major cause is one of the Trump administration’s proudest achievements: the United States Canada Mexico Agreement. Remember? USCMA replaced that horrible NAFTA deal with an almost-identical deal that was great because it had Trump fairy dust sprinkled on it.

Jim Wright explains:

Three (or four, depending on your point of view) American companies control 90% of the global infant formula market, chief among them is Abbott Nutrition. When a Chinese company announced it was investing in a Canadian manufacturing facility to make powdered baby formula from excess Canadian skim milk powder (Canada makes a lot of butter, so they have a lot of leftover skim milk), Abbott and the US diary industry spent millions lobbying congress to change the trade rules — claiming increased Canadian production of formula would “negatively impact U.S. dairy trade and jobs.”

… And so, when the Trump Administration backed by a Republican congress wrote and implemented the USCMA to replace NAFTA, they imposed new regulations restricting commercial importation of baby formula from Canada

… So when Abbott contaminated its production line and was forced into a massive recall, well, for Americans, there just ISN’T any other place to get infant formula. And you can thank the dairy industry, and their lackies in Congress (and, yes, the [Trump] White House) for that.

Wright points out that you can import Canadian formula for personal use, but you might get into trouble if you resell it for a profit.

But whatever caused the shortage, Stefanik and Fox News have a piece of the solution: The US government should starve the immigrant babies in its custody.

The most charitable way to look at this argument is that the Republican politicians and Fox hosts making it don’t really want Biden to starve migrant babies to death – they are just cynically using the specter of fed migrant babies to anger desperate American parents for political gain and ratings.

and some other things you might be interested in …

On second thought, maybe Elon Musk won’t buy Twitter. Or maybe he will.


This weekend it got hot in Texas. Who could have foreseen such a thing? Not the people who manage the state’s power grid. Friday, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas put out a statement asking people to turn their thermostats up to 78 and avoid running major appliances.

Industry groups of all sorts frequently sponsor studies about the cost of government regulations. Well, this is the cost of not having government regulations. In the free market, it’s always tempting not to prepare for unlikely scenarios. If they don’t happen, your quarterly numbers look better and your stock goes up. And by the time luck runs out, maybe you’ll have sold your shares or moved on to your next job.

Think you’ve worked for your company too long? This guy just turned 100, and he’s still with the company he joined when he was 15.

Fox News is furious at new White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre because in 2020 she called the network racist.

That’s known as “telling it like it is”. Fox would rather she be “politically correct” and spare its viewers’ sensitive feelings.

Remember John Durham and his assignment to investigate the people who had the temerity to investigate Donald Trump for colluding with Russia? Well, he’s still on that job — his investigation has already lasted more than a year longer than Bob Mueller’s.

And today he’s finally bringing a case to trial: He charges that lawyer Michael Sussman lied to the FBI when he brought the FBI information about suspicious internet traffic between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank, which is owned by Russia. Not that he lied about the traffic; no, he’s supposed to have lied by claiming he wasn’t giving them the data on behalf of a client.

If you really care, Marcy Wheeler analyzes what a thin reed this indictment rests on. And TPM’s Josh Kovensky summarizes its significance:

If Durham secures a win, it’s not clear what would come next.

As Harry Sandick, a former federal prosecutor, told me, the case that Durham made against Sussmann doesn’t quite match up with traditional up-the-chain prosecutions, in which lower-level defendants flip on higher-ups.

“It seems to me less like a logical first step in an up-the-chain prosecution, and more like an attempt by a prosecutor to justify a tremendous amount of time and expense in an investigation,” he said.

and let’s close with puppies

It’s been a hard week. We deserve some puppies. These 11 golden retrievers are just one of 210 puppy photos from Bored Panda.

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: