The GOP Blames Migrants. Again.
Plus, our Sunday mailbag
It’s a very old playbook: when in doubt, blame the immigrants.
Even as many Republicans rail against mask mandates and spread skepticism about vaccines, GOP leaders have settled on one place where they take the spread of Covid very seriously — the border.
The pivot occurred quickly. This week, one Republican leader after another rushed to blame the spread of the virus, not on the unvaccinated but on immigrants….
[For] Trump, who famously launched his presidential campaign by warning about Mexican rapists, the focus on migrants was like playing his greatest hits all over again. Think of it as the 2021 version of the immigrant “caravans.”
This is all taking place as public health officials are desperately trying to keep the focus on the urgent need for more vaccinations. Some Republicans, including Mike Pence and Mitch McConnell have joined in the chorus urging Americans to get the shots, but the loudest and most popular messaging, from the likes of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, is that there’s no disease dangerous enough that anyone should sacrifice their right to ignore a public health crisis.
Except when you can blame that disease on someone else.
Naturally, right wing media has joined the chorus:
With remarkable unanimity — and a stunning lack of actual evidence — conservative media has seized on the specter of disease-infested immigrants as the real danger to public health.
Fox’s Sean Hannity declared that the border (rather than the lack of vaccinations) is the “biggest super-spreader” event of the pandemic. Ben Shapiro’s Daily Wire warned of “COVID-Positive Illegal Immigrants Flooding Across The Border.” National Review insisted: “This is the reality: The federal government is successfully terrifying people about COVID while it is shrugging at the thousands of infectious illegal aliens who are coming into the country and spreading the virus.”
Back in May, the conservative Washington Examiner ran a cover story that declared “COVID Is Over. So, Get Over It.” It was accompanied by a picture of a mask being set aflame. But, like other right-wing publications, the Examiner is suddenly no longer over it, pivoting to focus on illegal immigrants — the issue that they never get over. “Biden hypocrisy endangers American lives on southern border,” read one headline. “This incoherent, contradictory policy undermines both public health and the rule of law. And it will get innocent people killed.”
A Wall Street Journal columnist chimed in as well: “If Biden Is Serious About Covid, He’ll Protect the Border.” Needless to say, right-wing Twitter is a dumpster fire of xenophobia and hysteria about infections flooding across the southern border.
Bonus some fact-checks:
ICYMI: JVL’s epic takedown of Mike Rowe’s Dirty Lies
Mike Rowe—the famous real man, dirty-jobbing, tough guy—is trying to pioneer a new lane in political discourse: anti-anti-anti-vaxx.
In a Facebook post this week, Rowe decided to answer a question from one of his fans. The gentleman asked why, since Rowe had gotten a COVID vaccine, he had not used his platform to urge others to do so.
Rowe’s response is worth reading in full, because it is either an example of despicable dishonesty or breathtaking stupidity.
Also, you might want to bookmark this.
WASHINGTON — Jeffrey A. Rosen, who was acting attorney general during the Trump administration, has told the Justice Department watchdog and congressional investigators that one of his deputies tried to help former President Donald J. Trump subvert the results of the 2020 election, according to a person familiar with the interviews.
Greg Sargent @ThePlumLineGSImportant new detail on Trump's coup attempt, from NYT. Then-acting AG Jeffrey Rosen has privately disclosed that the letter urging DOJ to publicly cast doubt on Trump's loss was done amid direct collaboration with Trump: https://t.co/didhtO49eK https://t.co/KLjjkRTevd
If you’re catching up , we also had a week’s worth of interesting conversations on the Bulwark podcast:
On Monday’s podcast Lawfare's Benjamin Wittes joined me to discuss "crack smoking, demon possessed leftists," Kevin McCarthy's "joke," vaccine passports, and evaluating the Merrick Garland Doctrine.
On Tuesday’s podcast, former RNC Chair Michael Steele joinned me to talk about the January 6 committee, Jim Jordan, Arizona's craziness, and his future in Maryland politics.
On Wednesday’s podcast, T. Greg Doucette joined me to discuss his viral twitter thread on police brutality, the role of police unions, and the problem of qualified immunity.
On Thursday’s podcast, Tom Nichols joined me to torch just about everybody: Ben Domenech's thirstiness, Tucker in Hungary, Biden's eviction moratorium, and Cori Bush's "defund the police" fiasco.
On Friday’s podcast, Tim Miller joined me to discuss his worries about Hot Joe Summer, Tucker's Anti-American Tour, the GOP's Herschel Walker problem, Apple's creepy surveillance plan, and the future of Andrew Cuomo.
We Get Mail
As usual, we got a ton of reader feedback; and, as usual, I can’t include all of the great emails we got. But please keep your rants, raves, darts, and laurels coming to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In your recent podcast with Amanda Carpenter you both agreed, as do I, with the sentiment that it’s the unvaccinated that are holding us back from returning to normal, or as close as possible to a sense of normalcy. I am fully vaccinated, and personally enjoyed the feeling of normality in finally being able to go to a movie theater for the first time in over a year and a half. I feel comfortable with going out and not having a mask where it’s not explicitly asked for. Although, I don’t know if that’s here to stay. Living in South Dakota, we got attention for our high deaths-per-capita, as well as for our governor who’s more than willing to still fight for the COVID culture wars; and I’m concerned that with the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally approaching, we will be making the news once again.
Recently, my family celebrated my parent’s anniversary, and after dinner my brother started talking about how he thought that COVID was being overblown, and that it was comparable to the flu. He too is fully vaccinated. I tried saying to him that what we saw happen to our grandfather, before he passed following a lengthy battle with COVID, was not “just the flu”; and that the flu doesn’t carry such prolonged implications for one’s health. He then started throwing out remarks about 99.997% survivability, and that people being able to go to bars, concerts, and such were more important than the public health concerns. I was infuriated at first, this was the same person who pleaded with our parents to take care of themselves so he wouldn’t see what happened to our grandfather happen to them as well, but is now saying that people’s concerns about COVID were “hysterically overrated”.
I resigned myself from arguing further, because I realized that it didn’t matter what evidence I could point to, the doctors I’ve seen on TV or listened to in podcast’s such as Bill Kristol’s recent discussion with Dr. Ashish Jha, or even the personal experiences of family members who’ve had COVID; all I would be getting in return is some anecdotes about what Joe Rogan or a guest of his said. As best as I could try to concisely articulate what I’ve heard, I knew it would become an exercise in futility, and I wasn’t going to be the one who “ruined the evening”.
I'm center-left, but fully agree with you on Biden's serious extra-legal order on evictions. While I'm generally delighted with Biden's administration thus far, the actions in Afghanistan and, now, this eviction order leave me sad and frustrated. With regards to Afghanistan, maybe the administration felt hemmed in by numerous factors (e.g. general public opinion, the former admin's deal, and specific Democratic party feelings) and made a bad choice. Still, I'm sure we could have maintained a minimal level of force to prevent the unfolding tragedy. With regards to evictions, I have only deep frustration. In this instance, I think Biden's heart overruled his head: he didn't want people on-the-street. Still, its a bad choice especially when the decision is clearly in Congress's responsibility to act. Further, not all landlords are wealthy conglomerates. In my city of Providence, RI, plenty of people (especially recent immigrants) buy property, fix it, and rent it. They *need* those rent payments.
With regards to the fasci-curious right, I'm old enough to remember when those same people demanded of Muslims "if you don't speak up and repudiate terrorism you are complicit!" I always had the image in my mind of a harried Muslim man or woman in the grocery store being approached by some nutter demanding they denounce terrorism ("dude! I'm just here for some eggs...") I feel like making the same demands of the right, although they seem quite comfortable embracing the hate….
Keep up all the good stuff...
If the New York Gov harassing a female state police officer doesn’t meet the definition of sexual harassment, there is no such thing. If you or I had laid a hand on a female police officer, we would have been put on the ground, arrested or worse. That he could do that perhaps on multiple occasions shows the power dynamic at work. No clearer example exists. Cheers,
I really enjoyed your podcast yesterday with Greg Doucette and thought he did a great job of explaining a lot of things, especially the absurdity of the case law on qualified immunity.
I wanted to add a thought to something you speculated about, which was how much worse police actions must have been in the 50s, 60s, and 70s (and I’d argue 80s and 90s) when there were no cameras and no accountability because of it. I’ve no doubt that this is true, but I think there‘s one big thing here, which is that there were probably many fewer shootings in those days. Until the crack epidemic in the 90s, and then the militarization of the police post-9/11 combined with the expiration of the assault weapons ban in 2004, and the general expansion of gun culture, a police officer’s first reaction wasn’t always to shoot at the first sign of distress. All of these factors (and probably others) made the police a lot more trigger happy than they were in decades past.
So, this means in decades past there were probably tons of situations like Rodney King (one of our first examples of accountability by video), but that situation was, notably, cops beating the crap out of someone, not shooting him. We’ll never know for certain, but my gut tells me there was a lot more of that (beatings, false imprisonments), and fewer shootings, in the last century. Police were a lot less afraid in those days than they are now, for a variety of reasons (at this point I’d say it’s mostly guns, but there are other factors), and it’s the fear that often leads to the shootings.
One other point, which is that I grew up in the suburbs of NYC and knew a lot of NYPD (my friends’ fathers). Cops enjoyed their jobs in those days and were happy to do it even beyond the minimum time for pension. I have many friends who joined the NYPD and they couldn’t wait to get to their twenty years in so they could retire and get out of the force. The job had become a misery, and some of their kids are now joining the force, and it’s even worse. There’s no one factor (although most of them would put guns somewhere in the top three reasons), but it’s not surprising that we have frustrated, angry, disgruntled cops committing more gun violence against members of the public given these cross pressures. It’s definitely not an excuse, but just to point out that I’m not entirely sure we can assume there were more killings by the police of the public in the old days.
I applaud the program you and Tom did on Tucker Carlson and Victor Orban. But instead of a series of general complaints, it would have been much better for you to to have analyzed the details of Orban’s hypocritical rhetoric.
In particular, after watching the Fox interview I noticed how Orban played fast and loose with the idea of “Christian.” So while he welcomes Christian EU home seekers to Hungary as vacation, or even permanent, residents, he does not think it is unchristian to relieve the suffering of poor, desperate refugees seeking asylum and protection from death in Hungary. So, what does Orban really think being a Christian means? What would it mean for Hungary to be a Christian nation, as well? It is certainly a long way from the Gospel of Matthew, book 25.
Other things you and Tom might have pointed out were the conspicuous omissions from Tucker’s words of praise for Orban. For example, his plan for rule by presidential decree. Or his pressure for the central European university to move out of Budapest to Vienna? We really need to tear apart the sophistry of people like Tucker Carlson.
In short, what we expect from you is more than just outrage and sweeping generalities. You have to help your listeners and readers to dig into the contradictions and flaws of people you criticize. It is not enough just to voice displeasure about them.
(Prof Emeritus) Ivan Strenski
(Ed note: good point. Check out Monday’s Morning Shots.)
I have to take issue with Bill. While it is good that Shontel Brown won and it is good that Bernie Sanders was neither nominated nor elected, I find it awfully hard to characterize the agenda of today’s Democratic Party as "moderate". Bill is right that those on the far Left have sustained some losses. However, the center of the Democratic party has moved so far left that what is now called “moderate” was once considered far to the Left.
There is probably no single gauge that separates those of the Left from those of the Right as the relative size of the private and public sectors. The Left believes in government while the Right believes in the private sector. Joe Biden is proposing a budget that will take government’s share of GDP to levels not seen since WWII. Government’s share of GDP has generally run about 20%. Biden proposes increasing it to 25.6% in 2022. And he is doing so while shrinking Defense’s share of GDP and of government spending. Sorry Bill, this is not “moderate”.
The budget that Bill’s "moderates" are proposing will raise our Debt to GDP level to 117%. These are the levels of Greece and Italy.
He is proposing the largest tax increases since World War II, including almost a doubling of the capital gains tax.
If this is "moderate", I’d hate to know what a Leftist would propose.
This is in response to your lamenting Dinesh D’Souza’s decline from right wing luminary to disgraceful troll. I know you hear this a lot about a lot of conservatives, but D’Souza has always been this awful.
My first year of college, I took a class on the history of American conservatives. I’m not sure a single other figure in the movement stood out to me the way that D’Souza did. We were assigned a chapter that described how D’Souza would take advantage of his race to covertly infiltrate liberal groups on Dartmouth’s campus so that he could spy on them. That’s not awful but it struck me as fundamentally dishonest and cynical. What was he expecting to discover? What does he think liberals are hiding? Why couldn’t he have asked them to observe as an interested conservative rather than jump to lying and spying.
But that’s not nearly the worst D’Souza did. D’Souza relished in mocking gay students by arguing that if gay marriage is legal than bestiality should be too. I was appalled. I’m not even particularly socially liberal but the decent human being in me realized how offensive it is to compare consenting adults to people who rape animals. To my immense displeasure, my class did not feel the same. In 2011, my classroom full of conservatives found D’Souza’s tactics brilliant and righteous. This is why I’m telling you he has always been this way. The cruelty is the point.
Mead from Missouri