‘This Apology is Bullshit and I am Lying to You,’ Says GOP Senator to Widespread Media Praise

The Onion:

“Nothing—and I repeat, nothing—I’m saying about the violent attack on Washington is an accurate representation of how I really feel,” said Lindsey Graham in a video lauded by anchors across CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News for being “powerful” and “healing,” before adding that the expressions of anger and sadness that his facial expression implied were also entirely false.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

No words are sufficient to describe the events of yesterday.

The extra-Constitutional violence, seditious words and action by the President and his supporters, and undemocratic coup attempt by members of Congress and white supremacists and fascists, has been aided and abetted by Republicans for years, further exposed the broken systems we’ve failed to repair, and was entirely predictable and predicted.

Many enablers are frantically trying to distance themselves through words and resignation, and to draw lines and make a show of standing up. This is necessary, but not sufficient. They must offer unconditioned rejections of these attempts to unlawfully overturn democratic elections. They must be hold the President accountable, and they must held accountable.

Trump to States: Drop Dead

Tonight, President Trump tweeted in defense of Operation Warp Speed and slower-than-promised vaccine distribution that “It is up to the States to distribute the vaccines once brought to the designated areas by the Federal Government. We have not only developed the vaccines, including putting up money to move the process along quickly, but gotten them to the states.” (All sic, of course. Promoted by criticism from President-elect Biden, Trump threw in a “Biden failed with Swine Flu!”)

This is echoes of whatever-the-hell-his-title Jared Kushner’s insistence that the national strategic stockpile of PPE was not the states’ to actually use. We know how that’s worked out.

Past Tense of Succeed

Sen. Joni Ernst has been posting on her official social media channels about Operation Warp Speed, which has been, setting aside declining additional Pfizer vaccine over the summer, one of the Trump Administration’s few success stories in a pandemic that killed more than 3,000 Americans yesterday alone.

I’m fascinated by her use of the past tense here, since exactly zero Americas have received an approved vaccine yet, and we don’t expect widespread vaccine availability until summer 2021 at best.

But it wouldn’t be the first time a politician prematurely and patriotically trumpeted success.

Of Mandates and Messaging

Facing rampant viral spread, 2,000 dead Iowans with more surely on the way and hospitals packed to capacity, Gov. Kim Reynolds issued — finally — a sort of statewide mask mandate.

“If Iowans don’t buy into this,” she said, “we lose.”

Unfortunately, she’s spent the summer and fall helping Iowans buy into the importance of masks, distancing and avoiding gatherings at rallies like the one she appeared at in a Des Moines with Donald Trump.

Gov. Reynolds helping Iowans buy into the importance of masks, distancing and avoiding gatherings in Des Moines with Donald Trump.

Mandates from the state certainly matter. Prohibiting group fitness classes will lead to classes being canceled, which will mitigate spread, even if it’s not enough to save our healthcare system from being overwhelmed. Requiring masks at indoor public places will lead a segment of Iowans who weren’t to finally wear masks.

But Reynolds has taken away, or at least severely undercut, her other, best tool: messaging.

That’s critical to getting that buy in because, as she admitted in her address undercutting her message, the state doesn’t have the enforcement capabilities to police everywhere.

So, while there’s a lot of photos of her out in her Iowa flag mask (modeling good behavior!), her other actions (modeling bad behavior!) and continued, vocal resistance to issuing a mask mandate coupled with weak statements about trusting Iowans to do the right thing, sent a different message: mask wearing was a choice like a scarf in winter not a requirement like a seatbelt in a car.

Her own press releases were missed opportunities, always touting the continuation of State Public Health Emergency Declaration and never highlighting the mitigation efforts they contained. In the age of social media, the headline matters most.

Her own department of public health, responsible for her ballyhooed public awareness campaign for those segments that are still unaware we’re in the midst of a raging, deadly pandemic, fumbled with an idiotic, now-deleted post.

In Reynolds’ press conferences and other remarks, she always seemed to focus on the loopholes and exceptions to her mitigation efforts, instead of focusing on the requirements. I’ve spent the last eight months re-writing her press releases to emphasize the mitigation parts.

Even in her address, she made a point of acknowledging there wasn’t a real way to enforce any of the mandates or measures.

And so, while Iowans brace (or don’t) for a rapidly worsening state of the pandemic, instead of clear messages, we’re left to wonder: do we have a mask mandate?

Some scorecards say yes. Ultimately I’m not sure how much it matters either way.

If Reynolds hadn’t spent her time, effort and political attention undermining mitigation efforts by muddying her message and doing another, Iowans would be much more likely to “buy into this.”

A version of this post was republished by The Gazette on Sunday, Nov. 22.

Big Press Conference at the Four Seasons

I can’t get over this photo of the Trump campaign’s press conference at the Four Seasons Total Landscaping in Philadelphia.

Donald John Trump owns (heavily leveraged) real estate and, presumably, has connections with folks who have, well, nicer options.

Donald John Trump has tastes that run so far past upscale to gaudy that he launched his first campaign on a golden escalator.

Donald John Trump illegally held political events, including his nomination acceptance speech, at the White House which, after four years, still conveys seriousness, authority and power.

But, no, his “legal team” is holding a slap-dash (look at that mess of power cords and microphone cables in the lower left corner) press conference at the Four Seasons Total Landscaping offices.

I mean, how does this happen? Even knowing that Donald John Trump has shown total disinterest in planning anything, HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN?

I’m particularly tickled by this setup because, when my wife ran for Iowa City city council, our friend Sean let us use his space at his landscaping place to build her homecoming parade float.

But in her case it wasn’t in desperation. And she won.

Seriously. I can’t get over this photo.


Massachusetts’s Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, “cannot support Donald Trump for president” but doesn’t say who he will support.

Maryland’s Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, didn’t vote for Trump, instead saying he “voted for Ronald Reagan.”

Nebraska’s Sen. Ben Sasse, a Republican, slammed Trump on a constituent call, noting his strong disagreements are “why I didn’t agree to be on his re-election committee, and it’s why I’m not campaigning for him.

These are cowardly positions and do not take a stand against Trump’s real harm or against greater Trumpism. Say what you will about The Lincoln Project, but that group of former Republicans seem to understand the need — and be willing to — blow up Republicanism to defeat Trumpism.

No, Baker’s and Hogan’s and Sasse’s stances are all cowardly attempts to retain political power for Republicans.

The tell in all of this, whether it’s a voting for a dead man who, even if resurrected, is ineligible to serve as president or an unwillingness to openly endorse the only other presidential candidate who has a chance of beating Trump, is that Sasse’s concern that the president’s recklessness could lead to a “Republican blood bath.”

Democrats need sane conservative opposition to keep them honest, and they haven’t had that in a long time. Republicans haven’t, apparently, needed to be sane to win and wield power.

But Republicans are clinging to this fantasy that they can defeat Trumpism and save conservativism. But they miss that, right now, they can’t defeat former without burning down the latter.

In the run up to the election we can expect other Republicans to jump ship. Here are some who are open about not supporting Trump, but squeamish about offer support to Joe Biden, who is, you’ll recall, the only candidate on the ballot who can defeat Trump.

Utah’s Sen. Mitt Romney, a Republican, did not vote for Trump, but says who he did vote for is “something I’m keeping private at this stage.

Shut Up and Grapple

Dan Gable on Wednesday, lured to President Donald Trump’s Des Moines super-spreader event, hosted against the backdrop of the state’s COVID-19 cases passing 100,000 and hospitalizations at their highest point since the pandemic began, with the promise of a Presidential Medal of Freedom:

This guy’s already a one-time champion. But because he’s open for learning, and he’s already very competent, he’s going to be a multi-champion president of the United States of America.

Waiting for the backlash of conservative pundits telling to Gable to “stick to sports.”