If you feel constrained about saying nasty things about the late Rush Limbaugh, feel free to unload on Ted Cruz.

No one will mind.

NY Times:

Ted Cruz’s Cancún Trip: Family Texts Detail His Political Blunder

The Texas senator faced fierce blowback for fleeing his state as a disaster unfolded. Text messages sent by his wife revealed a hastily planned trip away from their “FREEZING” family home.

Photos of Mr. Cruz and his wife, Heidi, boarding the flight ricocheted quickly across social media and left both his political allies and rivals aghast at a tropical trip as a disaster unfolded at home. The blowback only intensified after Mr. Cruz, a Republican, released a statement saying he had flown to Mexico “to be a good dad” and accompany his daughters and their friends; he noted he was flying back Thursday afternoon, though he did not disclose how long he had originally intended to stay.

Cruz confesses he lacks political instincts and a moral center. https://t.co/zIPeAjVbbG

— Amy Fried (@ASFried) February 19, 2021

I listened to significant numbers of Limbaugh’s shows for a while in 2004 and then to a lot of shows in 2020. I will just say this. It’s clear a lot of people commenting on Limbaugh, and how others should talk about him, have never listened to his show for any period of time.

— Jonathan Ladd (@jonmladd) February 18, 2021


Texas, the go-it-alone state, is rattled by the failure to keep the lights on

As cities and towns shiver, anger grows and the determined isolation is getting a lot of the blame

Rich in both fossil fuels and self-confidence, Texas has long been devoted to its singular power grid, rejecting federal electricity regulation and the kinds of shared high-voltage connections with neighboring states that can be found across most of the country.

Warnings over decades that confidence in the grid was misplaced were ignored by top officials, and largely as a result Texas is entering its fourth day with widespread power failures after a severe cold snap and snowstorm.

In 1989, punishing cold weather that caused power failures across the state led to a federal study that spelled out how to avoid such a disaster in the future by winterizing equipment the way more northern power companies do.

In 2011, after Arctic weather caused a series of rolling blackouts, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) produced another report that warned Texas power companies and regulators again that they had to winterize their equipment. “The single largest problem during the cold weather event was the freezing of instrumentation and equipment,” it said.

Nobody is overlooking the fact that Rush and the assholes who listened to him thought that making fun of vulnerable people was “funny.” Indeed, what and his ilk think is “funny” is part of the goddamn problem.

— Elie Mystal (@ElieNYC) February 17, 2021

Greg Sargent/WaPo:

The latest GOP nonsense on Texas shows us the future Republicans want

No doubt many Republicans expressing outrage at the failures producing this disaster — and calling for accountability and reform — are sincere in their intentions, though we’ll see how long those demands persist.

But it’s painfully obvious that in an important larger sense, many aspects of their reaction to the Texas calamity do indeed demonstrate the future they want.

It’s a future in which the default response to large public problems will be to increasingly retreat from real policy debates into an alternate information universe, while doubling down on scorched-earth distraction politics and counter-majoritarian tactics to insulate themselves from accountability.

Our top news organizations can’t level with readers about Cruz’s Cancun getaway. It’s not a “blunder” or a “mistake”; it’s not about “fury” or a “backlash”; it’s about his character and how plainly it showed that he doesn’t care about anyone but himself. Why can’t they say that?

— Dan Froomkin/PressWatchers.org (@froomkin) February 19, 2021

Olivier Knox/WaPo:

Liz Cheney wants an ideas-driven GOP. Limbaugh predicted her defeat

The handful of Republicans who broke with former president Donald Trump during his second impeachment trial now say their party stands at a crossroads and that it’s time to reject the most extreme voices and return to what they describe as the GOP’s ideological roots. But Rush Limbaugh, who died yesterday at 70 from lung cancer, essentially predicted their defeat five years ago.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the third-ranking House Republican, told her home state’s Casper Star-Tribune yesterday the GOP must “be the party that stands for principle and stands for ideas” in order to survive. And she urged Republicans to reject “antisemitism, white supremacy, [and] Holocaust denial.”

But Limbaugh, who rode right-wing rhetoric to the pinnacle of talk radio, diagnosed in January 2016 that it’s not traditionally conservative governing philosophy that unites and propels Republicans.

In Limbaugh’s telling, the party’s establishment exaggerated the appeal of policy and undervalued what, in 2021, might be called the desirability of “owning the libs.”

🚨 Rural mortality rates from #COVID19 have been worse than urban mortality rates since AUGUST. Step inside a rural Louisiana hospital with me, which one of their doctors describes as a “war situation,” to find out why:https://t.co/PxhrBrQIOy

— Lauren Weber (@LaurenWeberHP) February 17, 2021

Two threads on COVID related issues, first from Apoorva Mandavilli, NYT health reporter:

Yesterday, the CDC released new guidelines for schools. Clear, science-based guidance was long overdue, so everyone was agog all week.

Did they get what they wanted? This is a long 🧵, buckle in. 

Before I dive in: I have no agenda here. I am not anti-kids, anti-schools or anti-teachers. The only thing I am is anti-virus. I follow the science, but despite what both sides insist, the science is not straightforward, or we wouldn’t have this much division and dissent. 
So, back to the CDC guidelines: Pro-opening advocates hoped for a sensible read of the evidence and teachers unions for strict precautions and vaccinations. Did they get what they want? Short answer: No. 
There is no issue that is more divisive right now (ok, masks and vaccines). But kids of all colors are suffering, and the long-term loss of education and emotional toll might be devastating. OTOH: the rates in the US might be dropping but objectively they are still very high. 

Mob story. The wheels of justice are grinding. https://t.co/RHILu6bXLo

— Jeffrey Flier (@jflier) February 19, 2021

This more local thread from Richard M. Carpiano documents a local CT state hearing on vaccination exemptions:

Random thoughts while watching this CT vaccine bill public hearing…

1. Rep. Ann Dauphinais quite the anti-sci skeptic while trying to push that she’s concerned abt the sci. Classic anti-vax tactics (cites diff. viewpts, unsettled sci, while citing bad sci, poisoning the well) 

2. All these parents using their small kids to make anti-bill testimonies makes me wonder how many @EthanLindenber1‘s we’ll see in CT a few years from now when these kids get older, take sci classes and realize parents are misinformed. 
3. Many citing deeply held Catholic beliefs & how vaccines violate those (fetal cell lines argument). Yet, clearly they’re ignoring what the Pope & Vatican has said abt vaccines. Is it really religion? Or is religion being used for other stuff. 

A quarter of Republicans are all, “Let the libs handle policy. We’re just here to own the libs.” https://t.co/dqsj4R5Rfb

— Seth Masket (@smotus) February 17, 2021


Tracking QAnon: how Trump turned conspiracy-theory research upside down

By taking fringe ideas mainstream, the former US president taught new and dangerous lessons about manipulating social and mass media.
For people around the world, the now-iconic images of a man in a horned headdress roaming the US Capitol during the 6 January insurrection came as a shock. For Kate Starbird, the images were frighteningly familiar. ‘QAnon Shaman’ — the online persona of Jacob Anthony Chansley, or Jake Angeli — is a known superspreader of conspiracy theories that her research group has been monitoring for years.

The storming of the Capitol was “this physical manifestation of all of these digital characters we’ve been studying”, says Starbird, a social scientist at the University of Washington in Seattle, who investigates the spread of disinformation on social media. “To see all of that come alive in real time was horrifying, but not surprising.”

From a former WH colleague of McEnany’s: “This is 100% meant to stir up the qanon crowd. Awful.” https://t.co/jTqIRwEyKn

— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) February 17, 2021

If Cruz had stayed in Texas and done nothing meaningful to help, people would not have been anywhere near as mad at him as they are now. Which I think says that what makes us furious isn’t really that if he’d stayed, he could have gotten a lot done. It’s that he abandoned ship.

— James Surowiecki (@JamesSurowiecki) February 19, 2021

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