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Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Baseball takes a stand

Politico:

Panic Rooms, Birth Certificates and the Birth of GOP Paranoia

How America’s center-right party started to lose its mind, as told by the man who tried to keep it sane.

Under the new rules of Crazytown, I may have been Speaker, but I didn’t hold all the power. By 2013 the chaos caucus in the House had built up their own power base thanks to fawning right-wing media and outrage-driven fundraising cash. And now they had a new head lunatic leading the way, who wasn’t even a House member. There is nothing more dangerous than a reckless asshole who thinks he is smarter than everyone else. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Senator Ted Cruz. He enlisted the crazy caucus of the GOP in what was a truly dumbass idea. Not that anybody asked me.

With quotes like that, former Speaker John Boehner’s piece is a read and a half.

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Ian Millhiser/NY Times:

Republicans Have an Agenda All Right, and They Don’t Need Congress for It

The G.O.P.’s program lives in the judiciary — and especially in the Supreme Court.

Under the new rules of Crazytown, I may have been Speaker, but I didn’t hold all the power. By 2013 the chaos caucus in the House had built up their own power base thanks to fawning right-wing media and outrage-driven fundraising cash. And now they had a new head lunatic leading the way, who wasn’t even a House member. There is nothing more dangerous than a reckless asshole who thinks he is smarter than everyone else. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Senator Ted Cruz. He enlisted the crazy caucus of the GOP in what was a truly dumbass idea. Not that anybody asked me.

Zeynep Tufekci/Substack:

How Polarization Ate Our Brains

Part One Of The Misinformation Trifecta

There’s been a lot of focus on misinformation over there—often focusing on the outright COVID denialism. Indeed some of that misinformation has been outright deliberate  falsehoods and lies. Some of it—the polarization around masks or the obsession with hydroxychloroquine—is complicated by events early in the pandemic. Some of it, like claims around vaccines changing your DNA or the wild rumors around 5G chips, are clearly outright false, though the former is also complicated (as it is related to the furor around genetically-modified foods as well).

But then there is the misinformation over here which is also quite persistent and also wildly wrong. This misinformation has its own cast of characters, ranging from the outright grifters to the misleading alarmists to, yes, large swaths of respectable opinion leaders and even officials spreading falsehoods. A few days ago, I noticed an article that seemed to hit the trifecta, both content-wise and visually (a no less important form of misinformation).

What’s the trifecta here? It’s polarization (eating our brains), bad science (causing terrible policies) and puritanism and moralizing (masquerading as public health).

NY Times:

What Georgia’s Voting Law Really Does

The New York Times analyzed the state’s new 98-page voting law and identified 16 key provisions that will limit ballot access, potentially confuse voters and give more power to Republican lawmakers.

Go page by page through Georgia’s new voting law, and one takeaway stands above all others: The Republican legislature and governor have made a breathtaking assertion of partisan power in elections, making absentee voting harder and creating restrictions and complications in the wake of narrow losses to Democrats.

The New York Times has examined and annotated the law, identifying 16 provisions that hamper the right to vote for some Georgians or strip power from state and local elections officials and give it to legislators.

Republicans passed and signed the 98-page voting law last week following the first Democratic victories in presidential and Senate elections in Georgia in a generation. President Biden won the state by just 11,779 votes out of nearly five million cast. The new law will, in particular, curtail ballot access for voters in booming urban and suburban counties, home to many Democrats. Another provision makes it a crime to offer water to voters waiting in lines, which tend to be longer in densely populated communities.

Below is The Times’s analysis of the law, including the specific provisions and some struck-through language from the state’s previous voting legislation.

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Tom Krattenmaker/USA Today:

Trump might have ‘found’ the votes he needed to win Georgia under state’s new election law

Republican legislators now have more oversight and power over elections and the county officials who count the votes. The secretary of state has less.

What if Georgia election officials had somehow found those nonexistent votes that then-President Donald Trump pressured them to “find” to overturn his narrow loss in the Peach State? What if there hadn’t been a secretary of state with not only the spine but the authority to make sure the election was immune from partisan cheating?

It would have been a devastating loss for democracy, that’s what. And it would have been much easier to pull off had Georgia’s brand-new election law been in place.

Thanks to a somewhat overlooked provision in Georgia’s new restrictive voting law and similar measures being pushed in more than a half-dozen other GOP-controlled legislatures, the skids are becoming better greased for Trump-style election tampering in the future. These attempts to subvert the will of voters must be stopped.

Politico:

Dems pine to face Ron Johnson just one more time

Johnson says he hasn’t decide whether to run again, but confident Democrats hope he does.

Here’s something you don’t see every day: Democrats goading an incumbent Republican senator to run for reelection.

It’s not only that Democrats see Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) as finally ripe for defeat after closely aligning himself with former President Donald Trump’s penchant for incendiary rhetoric. They also want to make a point that Johnson’s confrontational style is no longer a fit in his perennial swing state.

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USA Today Editorial Board:

Dr. Birx spoke out against Trump’s COVID response. Too bad she’s a year late.

Our View: During a recent interview, Birx said majority of COVID deaths could have been mitigated. During that critical time, she supported a failed message.

The coordinator of the Trump administration’s coronavirus response made a shocking revelation during a recent CNN interview — many of the 550,000 Americans lives lost to the pandemic could have been saved with better leadership.

In other words, managing the response to the pandemic under President Donald Trump — Dr. Deborah Birx’s responsibility — was a failure of historic proportions.  

“I look at it this way,” Birx, a renowned HIV researcher and diplomat, told CNN, “The first time we have an excuse. There were about 100,000 deaths that came from that original (coronavirus) surge. All of the rest of them, in my mind, could have been mitigated or decreased substantially.”

Why is she telling us now? And why did Birx persist in her high post, delivering a business as usual message, while she knew of so much needless death?

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