Thursday, May 27, 2021

Bait for Bubbas

Charlie Sykes, in this morning’s Bulwark, tells us about Boob Bait For The Bubbas He adds Maybe it’s the GOP that is overreaching.

He makes an excellent case for the spread of craziness at the state level. Lest you think that he is overstating things, consider the AZ “audit”.

Onward … Charlie leads off.

During our podcast discussion today, Bill Kristol reminded me of the phrase “Boob Bait for the Bubbas,” which was colorful shorthand for “tough-sounding rhetoric designed to placate conservative voters.”

Kristol brought it up to describe the aggressive agenda of GOP state legislatures, who seem to be caught up in aggressive competition of performative demagoguery. At the state level, the GOP is at ramming speed on issues ranging from vaccinations and elections, to yoga, critical race theory, and guns.

Much of that legislation seems designed to signal cultural allegiances rather than deal with actual problems, and so raises this question: Is it the GOP who is overreaching right now?

That seems contrarian, because the conventional wisdom is that the Biden Administration and Democrats in Washington are overplaying their hand. That charge is not without merit, but let’s look at what’s happening at the state level.

In Ohio, Republican legislators are pushing a genuinely insane assault on vaccinations.

Republicans in the state General Assembly, meanwhile, are pushing sweeping legislation to weaken Ohio’s vaccination laws — for all vaccines, not just COVID–19….

The legislation would ban vaccine requirements on customers, employees or students from businesses, hospitals, nursing homes, K–12 schools, colleges, daycares, or others. It would also prevent governments, insurers, or businesses from offering incentives for people to get vaccinated, or even requesting that people get vaccinated.

In Texas, Republicans are about to legalize carrying handguns without a license, permit, training, or background check of any kind. As the Texas Tribune notes “Under current state law, Texans must generally be licensed to carry handguns openly or concealed. Applicants must submit fingerprints, complete four to six hours of training, and pass a written exam and a shooting proficiency test.” That’s all gone now and that’s nuts.

In Florida, the GOP just enacted a new social media law that is both unconstitutional and a cynical attack on free speech. As David French noted: “One of the incredibly bizarre developments of this dysfunctional modern time is the extent to which a faction of the Republican Party is now rejecting the crown achievements of the conservative legal movement.

“Increasingly, the GOP is looking at remarkable legal advances in the fight against speech codes, against government regulation of corporate speech, and against government-mandated viewpoint discrimination—and declaring that it prefers power over liberty. It wants more government control over speech. It wants speech codes.”

In Alabama (as I mentioned in an earlier newsletter), Republicans continue to regulate yoga in the schools, while banning the use of any Sanskrit words such as “Namaste.”

In West Virginia (and a slew of other states), GOP legislators have rushed to pass bans on transgender athletes. When pressed, the WV governor, Jim Justice, was unable to cite a single example to justify the measure.

Across the country, GOP legislators are passing bills that ban “critical race theory,” even though it’s likely that only a handful have any idea was the academic term actually means. Not that precision matters.

In Arizona, GOP legislators have not only launched a farcical “audit” of voting in Maricopa County, but then stripped the State’s Secretary of state of her authority over elections after she criticized the “Cyber Ninja” fiasco.

Arizona, of course, is only one of the many states where GOP legislatures are pushing legislation to make it harder to vote and increasingly partisan control over the election process.

The contagion of crazy is spreading quickly.

In Wisconsin, the state’s top GOP legislator “is hiring retired police officers to investigate aspects of the November election, joining with Republicans from around the country who have questioned President Joe Biden’s victory.”

And we haven’t even gotten into the festival of crazy going on in GOP primaries around the country. (Check out Missouri, where the senate race may pit the disgraced former governor against a guy famous for pointing a loaded gun at BLM protestors.)

Meanwhile…

Back in DC, Republicans are still in heads-up-their ass mode about how to not deal with Marjorie Taylor Greene. Our colleague Amanda Carpenter writes:

Make no mistake: At this moment, the power in the GOP is with Trump and anyone who can keep his voters pulling the lever for Republicans in 2022. That’s why MTG is untouchable.

MTG isn’t chastened by verbal slaps on the wrists. She’s emboldened…

Greene knows where she stands. As long as she has Trump’s support and keeps his voters in the GOP tent, she’s calling the shots. Not McCarthy.

Exit take: The conventional wisdom is that the GOP won’t pay a price for this in the mid-terms.

The conventional wisdom may be wrong.

One can hope.

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