The GOP Is Running as the Asshole Party

I honestly don’t know that much about Charlie Crist, who is running against Ron DeSantis for governor of Florida. I do remember he was governor of Florida before, but I don’t recall his record. However, I went to his “issues” page on his campaign website, and he’s running on good stuff now. I see reproductive rights, voting rights, housing, environment, etc. Click on the plans, and read what he proposes. Good stuff.

Ron DeSantis is running on being an asshole.

You can see the same thing in Texas. Beto O’Rourke has some definite proposals he’s running on, like a promise to end permitless carry of firearms. Which is damn gutsy for Texas.

It’s fairly obvious, however, that Greg Abbott is mostly running on being an asshole.

Here’s an example from O’Rourke’s website:

Case in point: Greg Abbott is using our tax dollars by the billions to take 10,000 members of the Texas National Guard away from their families, careers, and communities to serve as the backdrop for his photo ops at the border, even though they have zero authority to arrest or detain migrants. All the while, he has degraded their service, delayed their pay, and slashed their earned tuition benefits in order to afford their ongoing deployment. All he has done in his seven and a half years in office is pose tough at the border while doing nothing to make us any safer—the definition of a stunt instead of a solution.

The recent stunts of sending undocumented immigrants to blue cities is assholery cranked up to the infinite power. Take the flight from San Antonio TEXAS to Martha’s Vineyard, courtesy of the governor of FLORIDA. DeSantis didn’t have enough of his own undocumented immigrants to mess with, so Greg Abbott let him have some in Texas. Wow. (This could yet blow back on DeSantis; people were lured onto the plane under false pretenses. The DoJ has been asked to investigate. Possible kidnapping charges have been mentioned.)

See also the Miami Herald, DeSantis’ remarks prompt more questions on where migrant flights originated.

DeSantis’ administration is only allowed to “transport unauthorized aliens from this state,” according to budget language approved by state lawmakers this year. The governor’s office did not immediately respond when asked whether the migrants had moved to Florida or whether the state-funded program helped transport migrants from another state. DeSantis provided no details about the flights during a Thursday news conference.

I’m betting the Crist campaign is producing new television ads on this very issue, as I keyboard this. I understand there’s also concern DeSantis may have used covid relief money for this little stunt.

Jonathan Chait:

Jeremy Redfern, a DeSantis spokesperson, embraced the comparison to illegal traffickers. In response to a complaint that DeSantis neglected even to give advance notice to Martha’s Vineyard so it could prepare accommodations, Redfern sniffed that coyotes don’t do this:


The premise is that DeSantis has no obligation to take any more interest in safeguarding human welfare than an illegal smuggling operation does.

What’s next, guys? Concentration camps?

This is ultimately about “owning the libs,” of course. But it sounds as if the libs haven’t been owned yet. The people of Martha’s Vineyard did not melt down, as expected, but instead rallied to provide food and shelter to the 50 Venezuelan refugees who had shown up with no advance notice. Today I’m reading that Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is sending the 50 refugees to a facility on Cape Cod that’s been used as a shelter in the past, with some National Guard called up to help them out until somebody decides what happens next.

24 thoughts on “The GOP Is Running as the Asshole Party

  1. Thank you, Maha, for using the word "asshole" which helps to focus the mind. We all know that the only plank in the modern R party platform is "We are assholes, and you can't stop us from being assholes."

    It leads me to wonder for a moment why R political types (officials/candidates/party-operatives) are playing this role.  The obvious answer is that a huge percentage of their base are assholes who love the party platform I mentioned above. 

    This led me to try to understand why so many people have that asshole attitude.  Then what clicked in my mind was the observation that the "mainstream" (or "oldtime") republicans who have left the party and are now fighting to get their party back often comment: "What can we do when the R party leaders have no shame?"  Ah… the word "shame". 

    What is "shame"? Shame is a sociological concept. Shame is used in social groups to dis-incentivise behaviors that are not illegal but which harm social cohesion and/or other positive effects of social grouping. Imagine a small town where everyone knows everybody.  Image a large extended family out for a stroll in the park and a guy standing near an ice cream vendor cart comes over to a five year old in the family group and promises to get the child and ice cream, and then after he buys the ice cream he come over to the child, holds the ice cream out but pulls it back when the child reaches for it. And the guy then gobbles it up in front of the child, laughing directly at the child while the child cries.  Nothing illegal. The people in thee family, and even bystanders might try to shame the guy for that behavior.  That's the function of shame in society, something below the level of laws and justice, but a constrain on behaviors.

    Isn't it likely that the party of assholes simply plays to a huge minority of people in our country who are fed up with society's attempts to shame them? They don't like it so the more it happens the more they like provoking it and there's no legal downside.

    I'm not defending this.  Just asking something about how we can deal with this corrosive trend. We all talk about legal and political stuff, which is important. But maybe we need to pay more attention to sociological stuff (and I'm no expert in that.) Adding a sociological perspective might have helped the leadership figure out a more effective way to get the population vaccinated. All pronouncements were based on epidemiological science, and political calculations, seemingly with little sense about the sociological element. 

    Just asking.

    • A key feature of republicanism is lack of empathy.  I don't think you can shame anyone who lacks the ability to feel empathy.

  2. Yes, growing up on the farm, I know that there are a lot of folks who have the shame of not attaining an education and this is why the MAGA folks also hate education. In my family, education was (is) the beacon on the short-grass prairie and we educate ourselves to be better agriculturists, if not to go out and have the opportunity to explore the world. I am ashamed that education in this country is not an aspiration (to help build the republic), but something to hide and be ashamed of so as not to hurt the MAGA folks feelings … if you are so high-falootin' to mention your educational attainments also a virtue-signal to be disdainful of formal education.

    (I went to a land-grant college, BTW)

  3. WaryTale is spot on. DeSantis and Abbott (and Trump) would be obscure nobodies were it not for enough of their constituencies' embrace of a$$holery as a legitimate stance toward their fellow human beings.

    Anyone is capable of being an a$$hole – the Milgram experiment and other studies done after the Holocaust bear this out. In the absence of a strong moral center, people are moved by the zeitgeist, the messages they find themselves immersed in. Yogananda taught "environment is stronger than willpower". Thom Hartmann wrote: those who control the stories a population hears, control the population.

    And so what's needed is a full throated shaming both of those who promote this behavior and those who follow it.  Until the hate-for-profit media can be neutered, we're forever going to be dealing with a multiplicity of effects, not causes.

    As soul refreshing as the Jan 6 committee's hearings have been, it's sadly a multi-million dollar extravaganza dealing with effects – necessary but like trying to put out a large fire in a country that's been nuked.

    Ironically it's the churches in this country who should be at the front lines in this battle, but tragically so many of them are on the wrong side. I once wrote an evangelical friend: Jesus admonished his followers to "be wise like the serpent" – but so many of today's Christians are anything but.

    I'm encouraged by the younger generation's abandonment of "the old", a short hand for their recognition of 1) the church's hypocrisy, and 2) the way this country, run by conservatives has abandoned them, in effect negating this country's future.

    Jung would say that all the shadow material must rise to the surface, be exposed and be dealt with, and that's what's happening to America.


  4. “In response to a complaint that DeSantis neglected even to give advance notice to Martha’s Vineyard so it could prepare accommodations, Redfern sniffed that coyotes don’t do this:”

    He’s right. DeSantis is very bit as depraved as human smugglers.

  5. I want to see the ad:


    (If you think it's funny, remember it's YOUR money he wasted.)


    Future Governor Charlie Christ 

  6. Being an asshole doesn't just mean never having to say you're sorry.

    It also means you're incapable of contrition because you lack the shame gene.

    They have no shame at all.  About anything.

    This means never even thinking of apologizing: No, “I’m sorry about…”

    Assholes have a "Magic 'I.'"  "I never have to apologize, because "I" never make any mistakes.

  7. These particular immigrants should have received a ticker tape parade based on the billions and billions of dollars Venezuelans have invested in America.  The money American drivers gave to CITGO made a U-turn in Caracas and came right back to the USA.  That's why the country with the world's largest oils reserves is bankrupt.

  8. To thine own self be true.

     DeSantis isn't being an asshole. He is an asshole.

    Ken Burns the acclaimed historical documentary filmmaker is doing a documentary on the holocaust. In a recent interview he noted the parallel between the Nazis and Ron DeSantis. He said both of them dehumanized groups of people to serve their own political ends. So true!

    • Yeah.  And when I saw the reports of the stunt, focusing on the fact that the "migrants" were told lies about where they were being taken…   my mind went to the history of Nazi Germany, when Jews were put on trains and told lies about the destination…  

      Different destinations in this case, but that's not the point. The point is whether is it okay for a govt (St of FL) to move people somewhere the govt chooses for them without full and true information and choice given to those people.

  9. OT: Re Judge Loose Cannon  – The judge who accepted the post of SM is a retired judge who was on the FISA courts. (My judge was THE head of the FISA courts, so I had some discussions with my public defender.) 

    Generally, a FISA judge is bad news. A few judges resigned from working for FISA because they felt that the work of the court was unconstitutional. (Which it was.) But many (or most) who stayed felt that after 9-11, they were guardians of the citizens of the country.  My public defender was concerned that my flight through national airspace might have offended an ex-FISA judge – way too close to the capital and way too close to what a few airliners did. But what Trump did, taking off with secret materials, is not likely to endear Trump to a judge who skated close to the edge of legal (or illegal) to protect the country. 

    Trump's legal bid is a long-shot request to make classified and top-secret documents HIS PERSONAL PROPERTY.  I'd say – not a chance.  Second-best would be if the Special Master says they are classified and property of the government, but ys' can't use them to prosecute. The only argument in support of that seems to be that the courts must carve a special exemption for The Donald. 

    It's a bridge too far. Such a decision would suggest that mishandling documents by an CIA employee IS a crime (and they have been prosecuted and jailed) but the SAME crime by an ex-president is exempt. It's not what you do – it's who you are. 

    There's some other good news. If… the Special Master decides as I predict, the damage will only be a delay. There's no appeal possible because tRump GOT everything he wants – a special master and consideration by the court whether and what documents might be privileged. At one point, I expected this show would be appealed all the way to the USSC – but I think the DoJ will get a fair decision and tRump will get the bill. 

    •  and tRump will get the bill. 

       I suppose it's all on how you view it. If you consider the money that Trump has already bilked from his 'donors' as rightfully belonging to Trump than he will get the bill, but if you consider that the money was bilked in the first place than it's the dolts that are in reality getting the bill. It's pretty much a given that Trump specializes in giving himself a free ride at some other suckers expense.

  10. Oh I forgot one other thing in my original post about shaming.

    Back in the previous century, a few assholes in every small town (and a corresponding % in large towns) were not enough to make a huge difference… just an annoyance.  In the internet age, they have been able to form a self-affirming community across our entire nation. And now, with the help of a large number of citizens unable to give up their attachment to the "brand" of the former R party, it has all metastasized. Tough problem to solve.

    • I disagree with the passive voice you use there.  Those assholes didn't "form a self-affirming community" on their own via some inevitable social/gravitational phenomenon.  The GOP & FOX *intentionally attracted* low-info voters, creating a solid base of voters *trained* to hate Democrats.  The basic propaganda technique was simple but effective: give people some good news ("You're good people!"), then feed them something to get angry about ("Those Bad People are gonna hurt you!").  Adrenaline is addictive; that's always been the key to Demagoguery.

      This worked great for the GOP for 3 decades.  They got what they wanted (More Tax Cuts for the Rich), and the rabble was satisfied with more lurid Culture War talk. 

      But the rush of outrage is like the worst addictive drugs: it requires ever larger (& more outrageous) doses to keep the rush going.  That was easy for FOX, but it got harder for GOP politicians to dog-whistle through the primaries but then act respectable enough to win general elections.  

      It all started to go off the rails with the Tea Party.  The GOP was able to contain that outbreak, but they had to let some of the crazies into the Party hierarchy.

      Then Trump came along in 2016.  He fed the Mob the red meat they wanted – mean-spirited entertainment + affirmation – and stomped on the faces of all the traditional GOP candidates.

      Trump hijacked the Mob, but the GOP *built* it: it was the only way they could create a base of loyal voters willing to vote against their economic interests.

      • Agree with all you have said, but I still think the internet and social media have greatly exacerbated the problem.  What I mean is that Faux News and right wing radio can pump out all the propaganda in the the world for decades, but the ability for individuals to feel they are not alone but are part of a group of "friends" allows them to think they are NOT manipulated by media but just being common sense people and "Look, a lot of my friends are talking about this." 

        We shouldn't underestimate the power of this social grouping aspect. I wasn't saying that it is the sole cause.

  11. I think we have already had the concentration camps, care of Stephen Miller and Trump. I cannot really  believe what has been going on – it's horrible.

  12. Biden needs to invite Abbot and Desantis and others to the white house to hash out real immigration reform. Call them out to solve it. Put up or shut up.

    Many presidents of both parties have tried and failed because it is a problem no one has the will to try to fix. 

    Rethuglicans only want a horse to beat and a stunt to pull. Every body knows it.


  13. #OwntheLibs shall be the whole of the Law.

    The Republican Party is a soulless monstrosity which has nothing to offer the American people let alone the world.  Rule of Law is dead as they've rushed into full-blown fascism. 

  14. If Martha's Vineyard had been given any notice, the plane would have been diverted due to the political clout of MV residents and property owners.  Look how fast MV got the asylum seekers off their island. 

    • I think it was 44 hours, when appropriate housing was found.  During the two days, the refugees were treated with compassion and dignity. Unlike the hateful way the governors of TX and FL acted.

      Are you in the pay of the GOP or are you a jerk for free?

  15. Most of the migrants were asylum seekers.

    Now, those magahats, qanons, and Desatanists, see if you can find Venezuela on the map. Hint: It's not in California.

    Now try to find out the conditions that are making many Venezuelens seek asylum.

    Feel free to do the Tucker Carlson face scrunch of stupidity when you can't even guess.

  16. Well, you all have covered the bases.  I will add that DeSantis is a short man with the complex that sometimes goes with it. He's an angry, scrappy little dude. More like Mussolini than Hitler. Sadly, my grandmother's maiden name is DeSantis We may be related.


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