Take any horrible thing the right wing is doing, call it X. Go back in time two years and publicly predict: “the right wing is going to do X.” You will be dismissed as a partisan crank. This has been reliably, consistently true throughout the entire right-wing escalation. Still true today.

David Roberts

This week’s featured post is “A reluctant defense of Bill Cassidy“.

This week everybody was talking about primaries

Pennsylvania was last Tuesday, Georgia tomorrow.

The headline result in Pennsylvania was that a radically Trumpy candidate won the Republican primary for governor. State Senator Doug Mastriano attended the January 6 rally — there’s some dispute about how close the violence he got — and still doesn’t recognize Joe Biden’s victory. He introduced a bill for the Pennsylvania legislature to award the state’s 19 electoral votes to Trump, despite Biden getting 80,000 more votes than Trump. Governors have to sign presidential election certifications, so there is serious doubt that a Governor Mastriano would certify a Democratic victory in 2024, no matter what the voters said.

He also supports a complete abortion ban, without exceptions.

What we do know scientifically is that baby in the womb is a distinct individual — it’s not a clump of tissue. The argument, it’s 60-year-old science, is we know that’s a distinct individual with a distinct DNA. That baby deserves a right to life, whether it was conceived in incest, rape or whether there are concerns otherwise for the mom.

He is frequently identified as a Christian nationalist, though I haven’t found any example of him claiming that label explicitly.

Speaking of Christian nationalism, Trump has endorsed Jacky Eubanks for the Michigan legislature. She was interviewed by Michael Voris of the Church Militant digital media service.

“You cannot have a successful society outside of the Christian moral order,” she claimed, insisting that “things like abortion and things like gay marriage are outside the Christian moral order.” Eubanks added: “They lead to chaos and destruction and a culture of death; we’ve abandoned the Christian moral order as a nation and we are reaping that destruction.”

When Voris suggested to Eubanks that her political opponents are likely to paint that as extreme, Eubanks countered: “I don’t see what we believe as extreme at all. We need to return to God’s moral order. That’s not radical. God’s morality is for everybody,” she said. “You cannot have happiness outside of God’s moral order.”

As I recall, there’s a group in Afghanistan that also wants to return to God’s moral order.

John Fetterman easily won the Democratic nomination for the Senate, despite suffering a stroke a few days before the primary. He spent about a week in the hospital, but has been released. He claims to expect a full recovery, but everyone will watching him closely when he starts campaigning again.

On the Republican side, the Senate race is still too close to call. As of Friday, Dr. Oz held a .08% lead over David McCormick. A recount is expected, so the race may not be decided until June 8. It’s been amusing to hear Republicans talking about counting ballots that they considered fraudulent in 2020.

Oz has not, so far, taken Trump’s advice and claimed victory, seeming to trust the election system in a state that the ex-President claimed was corrupt two years ago. Aides to McCormick, who has previously raised doubts about electoral integrity in the state, argue that uncounted absentee ballots — the very outstanding votes that Trump falsely claimed in 2020 were proof of fraud — will put him over the top.

Neither senate primary in Georgia is expected to be close: the Herschel Walker/Raphael Warnock match-up seems set. Likewise, Stacey Abrams seems assured of the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

The Republican side of the state-office primaries has been called “Trump’s revenge tour“. He’s trying to oust Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Rafensperger, the Republican officials who did their jobs in 2020 rather than “find” the votes he needed to win. (Trump’s famous call to pressure Rafensperger is still the subject of an election fraud investigation.) So far it seems not to be working: Kemp held a 32-point lead in a recent poll.

There does seem to be a bottom: Madison Cawthorn lost the Republican primary to defend his House seat.

A Republican candidate for governor in Colorado proposes that the state adopt its own version of the Electoral College for gubernatorial elections, one that would boost the power of rural counties and diminish urban centers like Denver.

Under Lopez’s plan, [the 2018] governor’s race would have been a runaway win for Republicans, who lost the actual race by double-digits when each vote was weighted equally.

Right now, anybody who predicts Republicans will actually do such a thing would be dismissed as a partisan crank, in accordance with the David Roberts’ principle stated at the top.

and replacement theory

When I started writing last week’s featured post, I thought the point I was making — that White Replacement Theory was becoming central to the Republican message — was not necessarily original, but wasn’t getting the attention it deserved. Apparently, though, I was one of a number of people having the same thought at the same time.

Rolling Stone’s Talia Lavin got there a day ahead of me, and also with a sense of I’m-just-figuring-this-out:

Once you understand an obsession with racial composition and white fertility to be the driving engine of Republican politics, a number of seemingly disparate movements begin to fit together into an ugly whole. Some aspects are obvious: The anti-immigrant movement that has seen U.S. refugee admissions at historic lows and asylum seekers marooned in purgatorial camps in Mexico continues to dominate the right-wing airwaves. Historic levels of gerrymandering are ensuring that a diversifying populace remains beholden to the views of a white minority — alongside openly antidemocratic restrictions on voting and changes in election administration.

Other aspects are more veiled, but no less vitriolic. Years of fearmongering about transgender rights, and in particular their influence on youth, are linked to fears of waning fertility: anti-trans demagogues like Abigail Shrier describe trans bodies as “maimed and sterile,” and, as such, a chief motivation for the legion of anti-trans laws passed by state legislatures is the future fertility of trans children born female. The violent antifeminism of a far-right movement that sees women principally as vessels for breeding a new white generation expresses itself in a fixation on a return to “traditional” gender roles. And the culmination of generations of right-wing activism, which will secure the “domestic supply of infants,” as Justice Samuel Alito memorably put it, is poised to arrive in the form of the dissolution of Roe v. Wade. Payton Gendron, and those like him, are listening: like Brenton Tarrant, the mass shooter at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, Gendron opened his manifesto with a screed on the supposedly apocalyptic consequences of “sub-replacement fertility rates” among white women.

Kathleen Belew in the NYT:

Immigration is a problem because immigrants will outbreed the white population. Abortion is a problem because white babies will be aborted. L.G.B.T.Q. rights and feminism will take women from the home and decrease the white birthrate. Integration, intermarriage and even the presence of Black people distant from a white community — an issue apparently of keen interest in the Buffalo attack — are seen as a threat to the white birthrate through the threat of miscegenation.

Matt Schlapp, the head of the Conservative Political Action Conference, also sees the connection between replacement and abortion:

If you say there is a population problem in a country, but you’re killing millions of your own people through legalized abortion every year, if that were to be reduced, some of that problem is solved,. You have millions of people who can take many of these jobs. How come no one brings that up? If you’re worried about this quote-unquote replacement, why don’t we start there? Start with allowing our own people to live.

Like me, Ryan Cooper rejected the isolated-crazy-guy explanation of the Buffalo shooting:

the alleged shooter was just taking the conservative “replacement” rhetoric seriously. If one really believes that the white race is the foundation of American society (a disgusting lie in its own right), and that wealthy Jews and liberals are conspiring to drown that race in a tide of bestial subhuman immigrants, then mass murder is a logical conclusion

Vox’ Zack Beauchamp looks at Hungary, where Replacement Theory has become the governing ideology. In that context, the connection between racism and anti-feminism becomes clear: If the white race (or the Hungarian ethnicity) is in danger of diminishing to extinction, then its women have to be induced to have more children. Similarly, non-childbearing LGBTQ relationships threaten the race’s survival.

The Guardian reports on the CPAC conference held in Budapest this weekend. (Try to imagine US Democrats holding a conference in Havana.)

Viktor Orbán spoke on Thursday. American speakers have included Donald Trump Jr., Tucker Carlson, Ted Cruz, Rick Scott, Ken Paxton, and Kristi Noem, all building up to a climactic video speech by Donald Trump.

The conference also hosted Zsolt Bayer

a notorious Hungarian racist who has called Jews “stinking excrement”, referred to Roma as “animals” and used racial epithets to describe Black people

Birds of a feather.

The editorial board of the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison challenged Senator Ron Johnson to “renounce replacement theory”.

Debating immigration policy is fine. The United States has adjusted its flow of newcomers for 2½ centuries, creating a “melting pot” of people and cultures that defines the American experience.

But granting any credence to the racist and absurd “great replacement theory” should disqualify politicians from public office.

The editorial notes that many of Johnson’s past statements have “sounded eerily similar to the theory’s proponents”.

He told a conservative radio host in Minneapolis last month: “I’ve got to believe [Democrats] want to change the makeup of the electorate.”

The editorial brings Johnson back to the reality of his home state:

Wisconsin needs more immigrants — not for any political purposes, but because our population is graying fast and doesn’t have enough young people to take over the jobs of retirees, much less fill the new positions that growing businesses create. Wisconsin is suffering a workforce shortage, something a manufacturer such as Johnson should understand. The birth rate is declining, and the working-age population fell in every Wisconsin county except Dane and Eau Claire from 2007 to 2017. That’s an enormous challenge to Wisconsin’s economy.

Those needed immigrants may choose to favor the political party that helped them “find freedom and opportunity in America”, but

Many Cuban and Vietnamese Americans favor Republicans. It’s difficult to predict how the immigrants of today might vote tomorrow.

Especially if Republicans stop fanning racial prejudice against them.

I’m in the middle of reading The Rising Tide of Color, a 1920 book that is sometimes cited as the origin of Replacement Theory. It’s available for free at Project Gutenberg, but you need a strong stomach to read it, because it’s unapologetically racist in a way you seldom see today. It’s reminding me that some large number of Americans once viewed world history the same way Hitler did, as a story whose main characters are the various races. (Tom Buchanan speaks approvingly of a very similar book in 1925’s The Great Gatsby.)

A too-obvious-to-state assumption in RToC is that of course you identify with your (presumably white, preferably Nordic) race. A future in which your descendants aren’t white, but rather are some darker-skinned mixed race, represents a catastrophic defeat. The defeat isn’t that you won’t have descendants, but that they won’t be white.

I have a hard time wrapping my mind around that point of view. The only similar identification I can find in myself concerns culture: I am filled with a profound sense of loss if I envision a future where no one performs Shakespeare or reads Plato or studies geometry texts descended from Euclid. But a future where no one is white doesn’t bother me.

and abortion

States continue to tee up ever more restrictive abortion laws in anticipation of the Supreme Court overturning Roe next month.

Oklahoma is banning abortions after “fertilization”. The law, HB 4327, is sweeping, but is also better thought out than some. They’ve explicitly avoided some obvious sticking points.

Abortion … does not include the use, prescription, administration, procuring, or selling of Plan B, morning-after pills, or any other type of contraception or emergency contraception.

It also includes specific exemptions for abortions that save a woman’s life, or remove a dead fetus or an ectopic pregnancy. It kinda-sorta has a rape/incest exception, but only if the crime “has been reported to law enforcement”.

HB4327 gets around criminalizing IVF clinics (which also kill lots of fertilized ova) by stipulating that such killing only counts as “abortion” if it is done

with the purpose to terminate the pregnancy of a woman

So the point seems to be to control pregnant women, not to save “human life” as the Religious Right defines it. No pregnancy, no abortion.

The same is true of a 2019 Alabama law, which was blocked at the time, but may be enforced if Roe is overturned.

While defining “life” on the basis of a fetus’ location in relation to a woman’s womb may seem like a legislative oversight, the bill was actually written with specific language to ensure this application of the law.

During the bill’s legislative debate, a Democratic state Senator inquired as to  how the law would impact labs that discard fertilized eggs at an in vitro fertilization clinic. Republican state Senator and sponsor of the bill Clyde Chambliss, responded that, “The egg in the lab doesn’t apply. It’s not in a woman. She’s not pregnant.”

The Oklahoma law’s enforcement is through Texas-style private lawsuits. If you know that somebody performed an abortion or helped a woman get one, you can sue them for $10,000 (unless somebody else has already collected from them for that abortion). If you live in Oklahoma, you can sue in your own county, even if none of the relevant events happened there and it’s inconvenient for the people you’re suing.

If the abortion hasn’t happened yet, you can sue for an injunction to stop it.

Tennessee has criminalized getting abortion drugs through the mail.

The Archbishop of San Fransisco has banned Speaker Nancy Pelosi from receiving communion because of her support for a bill to codify abortion rights.

I’ll be blunt about this: The archbishop is using his religion as a Trojan horse for his politics.

Pelosi has not performed an abortion, gotten one herself (as far as we know), or encouraged anyone else to get one. What she has tried to do is to protect a woman’s right to make decisions about her own pregnancy. What that woman decides should be on her, not on Pelosi.

Compare abortion to, say, guns. No one is refused communion for selling guns, or making them, or keeping them legal. In the church’s view, sins committed with those guns belong to whoever pulls the trigger, not to people further up the causal chain. Why is abortion different? Because of politics.

and the crypto crash

In retrospect, we should have known the crypto-currency boom was ending when we saw the Super Bowl ads. BitCoin was already down to $40,000, from its November peak of $65,000, and yet

Digital funny money was everywhere during the Super Bowl, without even attempting to explain what the hell crypto is. Though, in some cases, like the eToro “social investing” site, it’s just as easy to parade out some Doge and “to the moon” memes, which is basically the same as explaining how stupid this stuff is. If they explained it, they couldn’t advertise it.

It was all a little too reminiscent of the dot-com bubble two decades before.

It’s hard to pinpoint a tipping point on something like the dot-com bubble — the tippy-top of the Dow’s chart was thrust upward and pulled back down by more than just tech stocks — but Super Bowl XXXIV, which had over a dozen ads for startups, many of which the broader public had never heard of, might be it.

Now BitCoin is around $30,000, and the other crypto-currencies are doing even worse. The so-called “stable coins” have proven to be anything but stable. Non-fungible tokens, which were supposed to be a way to invest in art without actually owning anything physical, are plunging.

There are two ways to look at this:

  • Every new market has its ups and downs. The crash of 1929 wasn’t the end of stock investing.
  • From the beginning, crypto was an illusion. It only seemed to make sense because it was techy, and nobody understood tech anyway.

I’m in the second camp. I’ve never owned any crypto-currency or NFT, on the general principle that if you don’t understand it, you shouldn’t invest in it. A number of articles have come out lately making the point that there was never a there there. Current Affairs interviewed crypto-skeptic Nicholas Weaver. Vox’s Emily Stewart wants to believe the hype, but “I have a hard time telling myself a coherent story about all of this” after she debunks just about everything crypto is supposed to be good for.

and the war in Ukraine

Sweden and Finland applied for NATO membership. Turkey is objecting. The issues: Sweden suspended weapons sales to Turkey after its Syria invasion, and both countries have taken in Kurdish refugees that Turkey classifies as terrorists.

President Biden signed a bill authorizing another $40 billion in aid to Ukraine. The NYT has a table describing what’s in it.

Masha Gessen describes what it’s like to work for Russian news media.

CNN talks to a Russian officer who resigned after participating in the invasion of Ukraine. Because this is a “special military operation” rather than a war, resignation is an option.

The German news site Deutsche Welle provides (in English) an informative 15-minute look at the Russian economy. Interesting macro-economic note: The ruble has recovered from its post-invasion crash, and is now higher than it was in February — but that’s not the good news for Russia that it appears to be. Imports have crashed as more and more countries/businesses refuse to sell to Russia. That gives the country a trade surplus, which boosts the currency. But a lack of Western retail goods is depressing consumers, while lack of Western parts is working through the supply chain, hurting production.

Mitt Romney on the suggestion that Putin’s nuclear saber-rattling should make us back away from Ukraine.

Failing to continue to support Ukraine would be like paying the cannibal to eat us last.

you also might be interested in …

After endlessly demanding that Biden do something about the infant formula shortage, nearly all House Republicans voted against doing something. Meanwhile, Biden is airlifting formula from Europe, and has invoked the Defense Production Act to help get American production back up.

Every week, it seems, I could write a post called “January 6 was worse than you thought”. This week we found out that Ginni/Clarence Thomas’ corruption was worse than we thought. In 2020, Ginni was lobbying Arizona Republican legislators to ignore the voters and appoint their own slate to the Electoral College, invoking a fringe legal theory that her husband would undoubtedly have to rule on when it reached the Supreme Court.

And it turns out that Rep. Barry Loudermilk really did give Capitol tours the day before the January 6 insurrection, in spite of his previous denials.

Yes, there’s a new virus circulating: monkey pox. But it doesn’t seem nearly as contagious as Covid.

On his wannabee-Twitter platform Truth Social, former President Trump “retruthed” somebody else’s “truth” calling for civil war. Rep. Adam Kinzinger posted on actual Twitter:

Any of my fellow Republicans wanna speak out now? Or are we just wanting to get through “just one more election first…?”

and let’s close with some AI art

This week a Facebook friend shared images generated by putting Beatles’ lyrics into the Wombo app. I couldn’t resist doing something similar, so here’s what I got from “Buying a stairway to Heaven”.

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  • Bonnie McDaniel  On May 23, 2022 at 1:48 pm

    I’d like to know exactly how Tennessee is going to enforce that. Are they going to scan or open every box or plain brown envelope that is mailed into the state? Because women can now go to online sites and order the pills

  • Elaine Corn SooHoo  On May 23, 2022 at 4:23 pm

    So much to digest and not throw up. I’m afraid to live in this country. How did so many turn stupid? Interesting that the GOP is the new nanny.

  • Elaine Corn SooHoo  On May 23, 2022 at 4:39 pm

    So much to digest without throwing up. I’m afraid to live in this country. Regarding abortion, it appears the evidently evil and ignorant GOP extremists comprise the new nanny state. Lay that on them.

    • Elaine Corn SooHoo  On May 23, 2022 at 4:41 pm

      Sorry I posted twice.

  • philipfinn  On May 23, 2022 at 5:12 pm

    “Once you understand an obsession with racial composition and white fertility to be the driving engine of Republican politics, a number of seemingly disparate movements begin to fit together into an ugly whole.”

    Lavin’s realization reminds me of the Neely Fuller, jr. assertion several years ago;
    “Until you understand White Supremacism, everything you think you understand will only confuse you.”

  • susanmbrewer  On May 23, 2022 at 5:45 pm

    I’d never read The Handmaid’s Tale nor did I watch the TV series. This seemed a particularly good time to finally read the book I bought some ten years ago. The rhymes and echoes with today’s Republican politics and today’s Sift comment on Replacement Theory are discouraging beyond belief, though the book is excellent.

  • gtinoz  On May 23, 2022 at 8:23 pm

    Responding to

    The Oklahoma law’s enforcement is through Texas-style private lawsuits. If you know that somebody performed an abortion or helped a woman get one, you can sue them for $10,000 (unless somebody else has already collected from them for that abortion).

    Does this open a loop-hole – get a family member (or member of a body set up to follow this path) to sue you (thus shutting down anybody else’s pathway), and merely make the $10,000 a notional zero-sum gift + return?

    Graham Thorburn Sydney, Australia

    • philipfinn  On May 23, 2022 at 8:45 pm

      Graham, sounds like the plot to a “Thelma and Louise” parody set in post-apocalypse Australia…or better yet, “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”.
      Speaking of post-apocalypse, congratulations on Tuesday’s election!

  • philipfinn  On May 23, 2022 at 8:53 pm

    Graham, now you’ve got me thinking in terms of an all-woman pyramid scheme on a huge map, the lights on the Southern US blinking out as each state goes bankrupt or crashes as one half of each state collects on the other half not knowing it’s a set-up!
    Have you ever considered screenwriting?

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