Chaos-Creating GOP Govs and Press Failures

It’s hard to keep up these days with the tides of Republican malevolence and press failures. But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this one. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has been mounting various stunts in recent weeks to keep the border immigration issue at a boil for his own 2022 reelection campaign. His latest move was to impose universal safety inspections on trucks coming from Mexico into Texas to snarl the border, drive up prices and possibly create food shortages in the United States. The proximate reason for this move is President Biden’s decision to phase out COVID-era restrictions on asylum seekers. Price spikes and border chaos are his weapon against Biden.

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Davids and Goliaths Prime Badge

Yesterday evening U.S. time, Ukraine reportedly used a Neptune missile to strike and apparently destroy the flagship vessel of the Russian Black Sea fleet, the missile cruiser Moskva. There’s still conflicting reports about the fate of the ship. Ukraine says it was struck and sank. Russia says it was badly damaged, evacuated and is now under tow. Russia also seems to dispute that there was a successful missile attack, seemingly claiming a munitions explosion on board. Regardless of exactly what happened it seems Ukraine scored a rather stunning success either destroying or taking out of commission a major Russian warship.

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A Few Ukraine Notes

A few miscellaneous Ukraine notes.

The White House just announced that President Biden has approved the transfer of another $800 million in arms and security assistance to Ukraine, including ammunition, armored personal carriers and helicopters. This comes just after a call today between Presidents Biden and Zelensky. This is part of a more general move toward providing Ukraine not just defensive weaponry — light/mobile anti-tank and anti-aircraft weaponry — but heavier weaponry required for offensive operations. It’s also best to see these moves in the context of actions taken by all NATO member states since they are all coordinated.

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A Genocide Friendly GOP

I found out yesterday that the latest episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast with me and Kate Riga got pulled from YouTube apparently because we were **discussing** QAnon-adjacent pedophilia conspiracy theories peddled by Republicans. This got me in the mind of the frequently absurd ways that social media platforms try and fail to distinguish between bad or predatory speech and discussing bad or predatory speech. It also made me want to expand on some points that I made in that episode. (To be clear, you can still hear the episode. You just can’t watch the video version of it, at least for the moment.)

As I noted yesterday, mainstream political media is particularly ill-equipped to grapple with the ways in which the GOP pushes what is in essence eliminationist rhetoric and incitement. Many of us know about the QAnon conspiracy theory world which posits a vast liberal/Democrat conspiracy of sex trafficking and pedophilia which will finally be undone by a violent cleansing of America by Donald Trump. Conventional media seems entirely incapable of grappling with, explaining or describing the way that the “mainstream” GOP has increasingly promoted and mainstreamed these beliefs with a spectrum of indirect to increasingly explicit messaging. We see it in the otherwise quite difficult to explain focus on the sentencing specifics of a few cases overseen by future Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. We see it in what I discussed yesterday as the right-wing appropriation of the pedophile/sexual predation language of “grooming” to indict and discredit any and all support of transgender minors. Conventional journalism simply has a willed incapability to make the connections.

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The GOP’s New Moral Panic and Incitement Prime Badge

One of the things mainstream American media does a particularly bad job of is communicating to a larger public the campaigns of incitement and predation animating Republican alternative media. Over recent weeks Republicans have been pushing a new line equating any policies that support or express openness to the concerns of transgender youth to “grooming” and sexual predation. Clearly there are a lot of unsettled ideas in the society at large over how to approach, treat, support transgender youth and gender dysphoria generally. There are people who have a good faith belief that teaching kids about transgender issues or having a more open and supportive approach to kids experiencing gender dysphoria actually encourages gender identity confusion. But I want to be clear: this is different. This is the specific claim that teachers especially are “grooming” children to become transgender as part of a large plot of sexual predation. “Grooming” isn’t a neutral word. It’s part of the vocabulary of pedophilia and sexual exploitation. Thus we’ve had a growing confluence of messaging about any discussion of transgender issues in schools with claims that Ketanji Brown Jackson is “soft” on pedophiles and thus President Biden and Democrats generally are pro-pedophilia.

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The Big, Big Money

Before we delve deeper into the details I just want to point your attention to this article in the Times magazine. Through the Trump administration it was clear for all to see that Jared Kushner and Saudi de facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman (aka MBS) had developed a corrupt relationship which was both defining U.S.-Saudi relations and laying the groundwork for saving and then expanding Kushner’s (and wife Ivanka Trump’s) personal fortune. Now we learn that six months after he left the White House, a sovereign wealth fund controlled by MBS made a $2 billion investment in Kushner’s brand new private equity firm, Affinity Partners — this despite the fact that the panel that screens these investments for the Saudi sovereign wealth funds advised against the investment for reasons ranging from it being a bad investment, excess risk, Kushner’s firm being poorly run and inexperienced, not to mention the obvious “public relations risks.”

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Another Must Read Piece Prime Badge

Here is a great companion piece to the Journal article on Bucha that I linked to earlier. It’s from Der Spiegel. But it’s in English. It’s a very different sort of article but largely lines up in the story it tells. There’s quite a lot here, a lot of it hard to read. But I wanted to draw your attention to one passage which drives home just how critical the very early battlefield successes of the Ukrainian Army were to galvanizing the resistance of the Ukrainian population (emphasis added) …

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