Opinion

Plenty of hokum, grift and conspiracy mongering at Kansas anti-vax medicine show

The same day that US. deaths from COVID-19 passed the toll of the Spanish flu pandemic, a modern-day medicine show rolled into Lenexa.
Like the entertainments of old, this medicine show boasted cure-alls, rousing oratory, and shameless self promotion. Unlike those showcases, it didn't sell high-octane patent medicine to get you drunk or high. Speakers proffered a new generation of cures: ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, the Republican Party. Don't forget the grift: The “Freedom Revival in the Heartland" charged concert ticket prices of $89 per person.

The Sept. 20 confab wasn't just about fictitious vaccine dangers, though. Oh, no. That would be too focused for a medicine show, then or now. The day's event was also about government overreach, the redeeming power of religion and Black Lives Matter protesters. Disjointed, perhaps. Hard to follow, absolutely. That was the point of the exercise — keeping the audience terrified, ready to both buy and believe. At least they had raffles and food trucks.

Let's listen to a few raised voices from the day's entertainment, ably captured by the Kansas Reflector's Tim Carpenter. (You can watch the event here, but I wouldn't recommend doing so without a bottle of Scotch nearby.)

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Legal expert: The gays are next

Just in case you may have been led to believe that the pending U.S. Supreme Court challenge from Mississippi is a singular, heartfelt moral argument over abortion, a legal brief filed in the case last week attempts to broaden the challenge to an attack on same-sex marriage and LGBTQ rights as well.

Indeed, the argument from the guy who designed the recent Texas law that has all but banned abortions in that state is a broadside against judges making any decision not specifically in black ink of the Constitution.

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The Supreme Court's fall from grace gives Democrats a big opening

Last week, Jennifer Rubin wrote about the sinking reputation of the United States Supreme Court. With respect to a new abortion law in Texas, which invalidates Roe v. Wade, the Post columnist said that, "The nub of the problem is not that (or not only that) voters are angry that the court allowed a diabolical and invasive Texas law to go into effect. The problem, rather, is that once the facade of impartiality and nonpartisanship is shattered, it is nearly impossible to get back."

It's an important piece. You should read it. But the assertion that "the facade of impartiality and nonpartisanship" is hard to put back together once it's started coming apart is worth dwelling on. Is it true? Well, I have to repeat myself, to wit: most people most of the time have something better to do than pay attention to politics. 2000's Bush v. Gore should have shattered "the facade" utterly, but didn't. Why? For one thing, 9/11. For another, most people have other things to do.

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Police union demanding COVID be treated as workplace injury says ‘dozens’ of troopers to quit over vaccine mandate

The union representing Massachusetts State Troopers is claiming that "dozens" are set to resign over the state's Republican governor's mandate that all executive department personnel provide proof of vaccination by October 17, or risk "disciplinary action including possible termination," according to the Associated Press. That mandate applies to "42,000 state workers and contractors in the executive branch."

In an undated statement the State Police Association of Massachusetts (SPAM) says "dozens of troopers have already submitted their resignation paperwork, some of whom plan to return to other departments offering reasonable alternatives such as mask wearing and regular testing."

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There was a method to the madness of the Trump coup memos

By now, it should be abundantly clear that the insurrection of January 6, 2021, was not a spontaneous uprising perpetrated by an angry horde of amped-up Trump supporters. To the contrary, the insurrection was the culmination of an attempted coup designed to prevent the peaceful transition of power.

But while the insurrection failed, a new coup is brewing and gathering steam. It is being spurred by Trump's relentless promotion of the "big lie" about the stolen election, and by means of massive voter suppression and voter subversion legislation enacted since the election in key Republican-dominated states to guarantee that the GOP regains control over Congress in 2022 and that Trump is restored to the presidency in 2024.

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Time to start firing the unvaccinated: Trump fans are overdue for a lesson in consequences

For those readers who only peruse headlines — which, as anyone who has access to news website analytics can tell you, is a shockingly huge percentage of readers — the impending first round of vaccine mandate deadlines are looking like very scary business indeed.

This article was originally published at Salon

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Trump's own rallies reveal him to be the ultimate follower – not a leader

Donald Trump returned to his beloved rally stage over the weekend to perform his greatest hits in front of a Georgia crowd. It was a large and ecstatic crowd. What else is new? If there was any hope of Trump's fans getting tired of him, there is no sign of it yet.

This article was originally published at Salon

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The new 'businessman's conspiracy' authoritarian plot is closer than you think

This week may be the last chance before the next election for Joe Biden and the Democrats to prove they can actually govern and accomplish things the American people want. If they fail, fascism wins.

This article was originally published at The Hartmann Report

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How the myth of 'border security' empowers American fascists

Last week began with photographs of white men on horseback cracking whips at Black Haitians at the southern border. The El Paso Times captured images of mounted Border Patrol agents trying to force migrants, carrying food and supplies, back over the Rio Grande into Mexico. Last week ended with Joe Biden expressing outrage. "I promise you those people will pay," the president told reporters this morning. "They will be investigated. There will be consequences."

That's good, but the larger problem is that the president keeps accepting the premise of "border security" — an ideologically conservative premise. The first step to reforming the government's attitude and hence policy toward the border is to stop accepting the premise as if the GOP means it. They don't. They don't care about "border security." What they care about is having a tool with which to bully Democratic presidents into doing what they want them to do.

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Trump has made it clear: He thinks his own supporters are discardable losers

In May of this year, Donald Trump began telling associates that he plans to run for president in 2024 if he is healthy enough. In July, he told dinner pals that he is running. Just this month, he reiterated that he is likely to run again. The twice-impeached ex-president is increasing his media appearances and planning campaign-style rallies in Georgia and Iowa.

This article was originally published at Salon

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Donald Trump Jr. gets blown up in barbed exchange with Ana Navarro

Glass-house resident Donald Trump Jr. learned an important lesson over the weekend.

You don't tug on Superman's cape, you don't spit into the wind, you don't pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger, and you don't mess around with Ana Navarro.

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A prescription for saving democracy: Is public health key to beating back fascism?

The California recall had an important lesson for Democrats, on at least two levels: First, that protecting public health is a politically potent platform, as California Gov. Gavin Newsom himself stressed in a day-after interview.

"We need to stiffen our spines and lean into keeping people safe and healthy," Newsom said. "We shouldn't be timid in trying to protect people's lives and mitigate the spread and transmission of this disease." It was both the right thing to do and a key to driving turnout in what might otherwise have been a low-turnout election, he said: "Democrats, I hope, were paying attention."

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Wisconsin State superintendent calls out Republicans’ war on schools in fiery speech

In her first annual State of Education address, Wisconsin's new state schools superintendent Jill Underly did not hold back. “We're now failing a generation of kids," Underly declared. “And we're failing our state by putting Wisconsin's economic future at risk."
Standing in front of the bust of Fighting Bob La Follette in the Capitol rotunda, after a student sang the national anthem and the requisite acknowledgements of various educators and public officials were dispensed with, Underly launched into a speech that sounded more like a call to arms than the usual anodyne annual report from the state department of ed.

Drawing on Wisconsin's progressive history and praising the state for being a leader in education, Underly acknowledged standing on “the shoulders of those who came before us," then slammed Republican legislative leaders for their “shortsightedness" in passing a budget that declined to spend part of a historic surplus on schools.

“Not long ago, Wisconsin's budget invested in our public schools," Underly noted. “We saw the impact of this on the kids who graduated from our schools before 2010." But over the last decade, the state has failed to make up for budget cuts made during the Great Recession. As a result, “in 2020, we graduated an entire generation of kids who have known nothing but austerity in our school funding — who have known years of divestment in their future."

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