Truth and Consequences
Truth and Consequences
This Week In Sub-Optimal Hostage Taking

This Week In Sub-Optimal Hostage Taking

Also, Ron DeSantis is a hypocrite; the Baseball Hall of Fame finally got one right; and listen to my conversation with Dahlia Scheindlin about Israel's ongoing constitutional crisis.

I’m Michael A. Cohen, and this is Truth and Consequences: A no-holds-barred look at the absurdities, hypocrisies, and surreality of American politics. If you were sent this email or are a free subscriber and would like to subscribe, you can sign up here.

In case you missed my conversation with Dahlia Scheindlin on the latest doings in Israeli politics, you can check it out above. Besides being one of my oldest friends, Dahlia is one of the most thoughtful observers of Israeli politics. There were tons of fascinating insights from her in this conversation. So please give it a listen.

Hypocrite, Hypocrite, Two-Faced, Two-Faced

This makes me crazy.

In Florida, Republicans passed the Stop WOKE Act, which limits how teachers can educate students about racism. As DeSantis argued when this legislation was introduced in 2021, “In Florida, we are taking a stand against the state-sanctioned racism that is critical race theory. We won’t allow Florida tax dollars to be spent teaching kids to hate our country or to hate each other.” DeSantis has said he doesn’t want “woke ideology” taught in schools.

So we’re clear: what Florida did, by passing this law and now by blocking the teaching of an AP class on African-American history, is (to paraphrase DeSantis) IMPOSING AN IDEOLOGY AND ADVANCING A POLITICAL AGENDA.

If you listen to the clip above, you’ll see that DeSantis specifically complains about “Queer Theory” being taught in the aforementioned class and argues this is inappropriate. “Now who would say that an important part of Black history is queer theory?” DeSantis said at a news conference this week. “That is somebody pushing an agenda on our kids.”

From what I understand, DeSantis is not a historian and has no rigorous training in African-American history. He’s a politician, and the position he’s taking is reflective of his political ideology and agenda. I’m not even taking a position on whose view of history is correct or whether Queer Theory should be taught. Neither I nor DeSantis is in the position to make that call. The issue here is that Florida is limiting what can be taught in schools based on a political judgment and not any recognizable pedagogical standards. With DeSantis’s blessing, the state is imposing a politically-driven and ideological perspective, which is the exact opposite of pursuing truth in the classroom.

Plenty of critics have pointed out that DeSantis is going out of his way to target educational agendas focused on marginalized communities (Black and LGBT Americans) — and that what we’re saying here is DeSantis’s racist intent. That’s a judgment call (and I don’t disagree), but more obviously, he’s acting like a complete hypocrite. It’s enraging that he gets away with making comments such as the one above, and it’s not immediately pointed out that he is doing precisely what he says shouldn’t be happening in Florida schools.

If there is one person politicizing education in Florida — and pushing an ideological agenda — it’s Ron DeSantis.

After You. No, After You


Typically smart argument from the Washington Post’s Catherine Rampell.

Republicans have Very Serious budget demands. Unfortunately, they can’t identify what any of those demands are.

They say they want to reduce deficits — but meanwhile have ruled out virtually every path for doing so (cuts to defense, cuts to entitlements, wiping out nondefense discretionary spending, or raising taxes).

This point cannot be made enough. House Republicans are threatening to default on the US debt because they want to cut spending to reduce the deficit … but refuse to identify the actual reductions they think should be made. Prominent Republicans have ruled out significant cuts to defense spending. Rep. Nancy Mace said this weekend that cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security should be off the table (interestingly, Trump said the same thing).

I missed this when McCarthy said it last month, but here are two of his ideas for reducing the deficit, “Eliminate all the money spent on ‘wokeism.’ Eliminate all the money that they’re trying to find different fuels, and they’re worried about the environment to go through.”

Um, ok.

And as I keep pointing out, nothing is stopping Republicans from drafting a budget that takes an ax to the “wokeism” budget and whatever the actual fuck McCarthy is talking about in that second sentence. But they don’t want to do that because it would be politically unpopular. They prefer the Biden Administration go first, which would make sense … if they weren’t holding a loaded gun to the head of the US economy.

So basically, we have an unfolding hostage crisis in which the hostage-takers’ key demand is that the other side tells them what they’re willing to pay.

Republicans: "We're not letting the hostage go until you meet our demands."

Democrats: "What are your demands?"

Republicans: (huddled whispering) "What are you willing to pay?"

Democrats: "That's not how this works."

Republicans: (huddled whispering) "Name your price."

Democrats: “You took the hostage!”

Republicans: (huddled whispering) “We’re going into a tunnel. We’ll call you back.”

Democrats: "Oh FFS"

Part of me appreciates the honesty in Ted Cruz’s recent statement about the debt limit … that Republicans only care about the issue when there’s a Democrat in the White House.

What’s Going On

  • I’ve told you once, and I’ll tell you again … always read Tom Edsall on American politics.

  • Good piece in Politico on Donald Trump’s overtly racist attacks against former Cabinet secretary Elaine Chao and the silence of Republican officials.

  • If you’re seeing recent coverage of the Doomsday Clock, check out my 2018 piece on why it shouldn’t be taken seriously.

  • Long-time readers of Truth and Consequences know that I have a weird fixation with the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Baseball Writers Association of America (true story: I once lost a paid subscriber because of a HOF rant). So I was very pleased to see that Scott Rolen was elected to the Hall earlier this week. Based on the stat WAR (Wins Above Replacement), which basically tells us how many wins a player was worth during their career, Rolen is the 10th best 3B in baseball history. While his offensive numbers might not appear Hall-worthy (317 HRs, 2077 hits, .281 batting average, and .364 on-base percentage), Rolen was an 8-time Gold Glove winner and, based on defensive WAR, is the fifth-best defensive 3B in the history of the game. The thing is, the baseball writers usually don’t pay attention to defense (or statistics and/or common sense), which is likely why Andruw Jones, the best defensive centerfielder to ever play the game, only got 58% of the vote this year — and is still, inexplicably, not in the Hall of Fame. Still, credit where credit is due on Rolen.

  • Having said that … Alex Rodriguez got a mere 35% of the vote for Hall membership. I don’t like ARod. He will and never should live down “the slap,” but he’s arguably the greatest shortstop in baseball history. But because he failed a drug test late in his career, he likely won’t get in … and a Hall of Fame without him is a joke. (Keep in mind that it’s already a joke for not having Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens enshrined. Excluding ARod makes it more of a joke). Based on WAR, Manny Ramirez is the 8th best left-fielder in baseball history (though it’s all because of his bat. His defensive WAR is -21.). Yet he got 33% of the vote, and likely won’t get into the Hall either because he failed multiple drug tests late in his career. The world deserves Manny’s Cooperstown speech, but I fear we’ll never get it.

  • Uber Eats guy goes above and beyond (this picture is not photoshopped).


Musical Interlude

One of my favorite things about this video is how painfully uncool Bruce Springsteen is when he’s not holding a guitar.

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Truth and Consequences
Truth and Consequences
Weekly discussions with some of the smartest historians, journalists, and pundits on the latest doing in American politics.