Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: The international landscape is shifting.



Trump’s shadow still looms over cloudy skies at G-7 summit

Matthew P. Goodman, senior vice president for economics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that to reassure the Europeans, “Biden has to show he’s confident, that the U.S. is back, that the U.S. is ready to do what it needs to do domestically.”

“We will not slide back into Trumpism — that’s the message he needs to try to convey, and that’s a tough message, especially this early into his administration,” Goodman said.

Appearing with Macron on Saturday, Biden gestured to the French leader when asked by reporters if America is back.

“Yeah, definitely,” Macron responded.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says on CNN now that she could gauge as soon as tomorrow whether there are three more votes in the Senate to pass Jan. 6 commission — or whether it’s time for a select committee.

— Hugo Lowell (@hugolowell) June 13, 2021

Naftali Bennett was sworn in yesterday as Israel’s new Prime Minister.

The handover work meeting of @netanyahu and @naftalibennett has begun.

— Gil Hoffman (@Gil_Hoffman) June 14, 2021

Imagine looking at new Israeli govt w Meretz back in power, Labor back in power, Arab Israeli party in power for first time, Lapid as real power in coalition, fascists & settler rabbis & ultra Orthodox out of power, & Netanyahu thrown to oppo…and thinking nothing has changed

— Neri Zilber (@NeriZilber) June 14, 2021


Yair Lapid goes up podium, bashes hecklers, and returns to seat

Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid took the podium after Naftali Bennett, but used only one minute out of his nine allotted in order to reprimand the Knesset members who had continuously heckled incoming Prime Minister Bennett.

“Every Israeli citizen is embarrassed in you and is now reminded of why we have to replace you,” Lapid said before returning to his seat.

Lapid is the best Israeli politician of the bunch.

Lapid’s full speech

— Judah Ari Gross (@JudahAriGross) June 13, 2021

Pro tip: act like your mom is watching.

Virginia Heffernan/LA Times:

Reports of QAnon’s death aren’t exaggerated

That’s why QAnon, who made a messiah out of former President Trump, was always bound to lose steam. It will follow the arc of furious, loopy-loo American conspiracy theories that have existed since before the Civil War. Cults like QAnon burn bright, and they fade fast.

QAnon’s demise, in fact, is well underway. Its leader, Q, a figure from the internet’s dark side, is now widely suspected to be the creation of Jim and Ron Watkins. The Watkins men are a seedy father-son duo in Asia who serve up pornography and hate speech online.

If the Watkins hypothesis is true, it means that Q is not exactly the patriotic, principled avenger crusading against sex trafficking that his followers have put their faith in.

Here’s my brief history of the awful “health freedom” movement, how it linked antivaccine/antiscience activities to far right extremism, now tragically more mainstream across the GOP, and in recent week y u see this garbage on Fox at night @jclinicalinvest

— Prof Peter Hotez MD PhD (@PeterHotez) June 13, 2021

NY Times:

‘Take the Ship’: Conservatives Aim to Commandeer Southern Baptists

The insurgents, some adopting a pirate motif, believe that the denomination has drifted too far to the left on issues of race, gender and the strict authority of the Bible.

Next week more than 16,000 Southern Baptist pastors and leaders will descend on Nashville for their first annual meeting of the post-Trump era. It is their most high-profile gathering in years, with attendance more than double the most recent meeting in 2019, after a pandemic cancellation last year. It caps months of vicious infighting over every cultural and political division facing the country, particularly after the murder of George Floyd.

Every variant is a roll of the dice, eventually they’ll be a variant that the vaccine works less well on which is why we have to vaccinate the world

— Molly Jong-Fast (@MollyJongFast) June 13, 2021

Scott Coley/Faith Philosophy and Politics:

Racism & Patriarchy: Two Strands of the Same Authoritarian Theology

There’s a lot of overlap among evangelicals who dismiss social justice (or “wokeness”) as Marxist, those who embrace patriarchy, and those whose theology borrows heavily from the thinking of men who claim biblical support for chattel slavery and segregation.

The overlap isn’t coincidental: all of these commitments flow from an authoritarian outlook that organizes people into a divinely ordained hierarchy, based largely on innate physical characteristics, and conceives of morality as a matter of obedience to one’s natural superiors. They all hold that God has designed some people to exercise authority, and God has designed others to practice submission to authority. Moral order is achieved when we inhabit our God-ordained place in the hierarchy; and apart from that hierarchy, there is no morality.

According to this paradigm, there’s no inconsistency in holding a church gathering that violates public health mandates, and then invoking Romans 13 to admonish those who protest U.S. immigration policy or the rate at which our government kills and imprisons African Americans. The men who embrace this conception of morality don’t even seem to understand the tension: by all appearances, they believe that Romans 13 is addressed to those for whom God has ordained submission—the disenfranchised and dispossessed—not those in authority, like themselves. In their view, laws and public policies that crystalize inequity are evidence of God’s design rather than a consequence of human depravity: systemic inequality is an expression of moral truth rather than a transgression against it.

A thread on the folly of the anti-CRT bills and the danger of banning ideas. First, let’s get one thing perfectly straight. Not one of the anti-CRT bills I’ve read bans Critical Race Theory. Not one. So right from the start the public is sold a bill of goods. /1

— David French (@DavidAFrench) June 11, 2021

Peter Hotez/Daily Beast:

Here’s Who’s Facing a Nightmare ‘Vaxx Summer’

Last summer, the coronavirus pandemic exploded in the South even as it retreated from pandemic-battered northern states like New York.

This year, as vaccine hesitancy and refusal solidify in GOP strongholds, a confluence of new factors may place children, adolescents, and young adults living in southern states squarely in the pandemic crosshairs.

GOP economic message hurt by GOP culture wars via ⁦@pkcapitol

— Meridith McGraw (@meridithmcgraw) June 12, 2021

Alex Samuels/FiveThirtyEight:

How Trump’s Removal From Social Media Could Affect His Grasp On The GOP

And while Trump might not need social media to build a loyal fan base — he already has one — he might run into trouble when it comes to controlling the media narrative without the megaphone of a social media account. As a candidate and as president, Trump would often take to Twitter to air grievances, launch personal attacks or spread disinformation (including lies about the 2020 election), essentially setting the day’s news cycle with his tweets. So if he were to run again for the presidency in 2024 (as he’s reportedly considering), it’s likely his campaign would suffer without a Facebook or Twitter account.

It’s also possible, though, that the bans don’t hurt Trump and instead have the opposite effect: Animating the Republican base, which is already skeptical of big tech regulations and didn’t support the two-year Facebook ban as nearly as much as Democrats and independent voters did. Still, Kreiss said he thinks it’s unlikely an issue of tech policy alone will turn out voters for a particular party or candidate — even Trump. What really matters, he said, is that Trump’s ban is part of a broader story that Republicans can tell about gatekeeping institutions that they feel silence conservative voices. “Republican candidates, Republican media and certainly Republican activists love to tell the story of tech giants who are censoring their views,” he said. “It reinforces this story that power institutions are biased against conservatives … and plays into the discourse that free speech is under assault.”

Free speech vs free reach (and it’s the reach he craves).

🚨 FIRST NON-INTERNAL VIRGINIA 2021 ELECTION POLL 🚨@WinWithJMC/@CNalysis #VAGOV | McAuliffe (D) +4#VALG | Ayala (D) +6#VAAG | Herring (D) +7#VAHoD | Democrats (D) +1 Article – Poll: Democrats Hold Slight Leads in 2021 Virginia Elections

— Chaz Nuttycombe (@ChazNuttycombe) June 13, 2021

Alex Shepard/TNR:

Republicans Seriously Think Trump Lost the Election Because of a Lab Leak Coverup That They Invented

Lindsey Graham and other conservatives are trying to turn the Covid controversy du jour into the new Russiagate.

The lab leak theory and its attendant controversies is especially difficult to cover at the moment, because the people driving the discussion aren’t sincerely interested in uncovering the origin of the virus. Instead, they are using the matter as a proxy for other unrelated concerns. For Trump, it was a way of excusing his own failures in confronting the pandemic. For [Sen. Lindsey] Graham, it’s a way of raising the specter of a corrupt press in thrall to the Democratic Party. For many others it has become a new way of raising wider concerns about political correctness and cancel culture—if fears of racial animus are manipulating science, the argument goes, then we’re in trouble.

Graham, however, is on the hunt for a scandal that can gin up fresh outrage and damage Biden, in the style of Russiagate. Of course, Republicans are already selling such a scandal: They have aligned themselves with Trump’s belief that the election was stolen, and that Biden is not only illegitimate, but a usurper. In this way, the GOP has already tipped their hand, and revealed themselves as being devoted to lies. The lab leak theory may be vindicated or it may not—it’s possible that we’ll never really know for sure where the virus came from. But it certainly doesn’t vindicate Donald Trump, and there’s no reason to believe what he has to say about it.

2/ If you’re not vaccinated: I’d be afraid. Maybe even very afraid. Why? Let’s start with the things that we know about the current situation, then layer in new information about the Delta (aka, Indian) variant, B.1.617.2 Then we’ll end with what I’d suggest you, and we, do.

— Bob Wachter (@Bob_Wachter) June 13, 2021

TNR interviewing Brian Stelter (CNN) on Fox:

Brian Stelter on How the 2020 Election “Radicalized” Fox News

“The number of Fox staffers who said to me, ‘I miss Roger Ailes’ absolutely astonished me.”

That’s a word that I was worried about using two years ago that I’m no longer worried about using: radicalized. It kept coming up in my interviews with Fox staffers, with sources who were frustrated and willing to leak—they were the ones who kept using the word radicalized. But it took me a while to come around to it. But it’s undeniable. The polling is there. The data is there. All of our experiences with viewers back it up.

In talking with Fox staffers last fall and last winter, the fear was palpable: the fear of the audience, the fear of losing the audience. I don’t want to say it was debilitating for these staffers, nor do I want to leave anyone off the hook. But producers kept saying to me, “We’re bleeding eyeballs,” and “Our viewers hate this.” I remember one saying, “We’re scared,” and what he meant was, “We’re scared of Newsmax and Netflix and all these places that our viewers are retreating to.” That’s real for these producers who only know one thing, which is winning. That was yanked out from under them when Trump lost the election.

In his ruling, he wrote the lawsuit’s claim that the vaccines are experimental and dangerous “is false, and it is also irrelevant.”

— Greg Dworkin (@DemFromCT) June 13, 2021

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