Editors’ Blog

The Golden Dukes Are Back
TPM's troll version of the Oscars have returned.

In 2020 we brought you the Duke of Dukes Golden Duke ceremony, a March Madness style winner-takes-all quest to answer the year’s most burning question: Who is the most brazen political buffoon of all time (errr… the last 20 years or so that TPM has been celebrating this kind of debauchery)???

We asked. You answered. Rudy Giuliani, in all of his rotten glory, was knighted the one Duke to rule them all.

To let old Rudes really marinate in his swamp of celebration, we took a year off from TPM’s annual fête-ing of the year’s scummiest trash holes and greatest grifters. But we’re back.

The midterm elections gifted us something we didn’t even know we were craving: a new cast of craven characters to revive our broken spirits, and a new standard by which to judge and luxuriate in their absurdity.

So without further ado, welcome to ✨Golden Dukes 2022✨ Clinking our glasses to craziness is what TPM does best.

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Flu Shots Drop Dramatically Among White Kids Prime Badge

We know that before the pandemic there were political fringes on the right and left which opposed vaccination. But the idea that politics would have anything to do with whether you got your flu shot would have seemed strange. Now, however, we’re seeing another concrete downstream effect of anti-vaccine activism on the right.

We’re now in the midst of a pretty bad flu season. That appears mostly due to the fact that the population has been relatively insulated from contagious respiratory diseases for going on three years. Our immune systems are out of practice. But it’s not only that. Vaccination rates are also down. New data show that vaccination rates among US children are down 4.8% compared to before the pandemic. But the details tell a more specific story. Vaccination rates among Black and Hispanic children are still slightly behind where they were pre-pandemic. Among white children however, the rates are down more than 7%.

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Breaking

Former Miami Congressman David Rivera (R-FL) arrested on federal charges tied to a consulting contract with a Venezuelan oil company. The charges contained in the indictment are yet to be unsealed.

Loyalty Is A One Way Street Prime Badge

Ronna McDaniel has now served three terms as head of the RNC, almost entirely on the basis of being the choice of Donald Trump. Her loyalty was so great she agreed to change her name for him. Professionally known as Ronna Romney McDaniel until 2017, she dropped her middle-family name reportedly to please Trump. Now she has drawn what appears to be her first serious challenger for a close to unprecedented fourth term, Harmeet Dhillon. (MyPillow guy Mike Lindell is running. But that’s a longshot.)

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Everyone On the Record Prime Badge

TPM Reader JB has this just right …

I appreciated your latest piece about how to use Trump’s latest insane outburst against him. I wonder if it would be useful to have the House and Senate individually pass resolutions affirming the Constitution and condemning Trump’s outburst. If they vote against it, I could see adds in 2 years about how so-and-so Republican voted against the Constitution and effectively for its “termination.” 

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Hang it Around Their Necks Prime Badge
The answer to Trump's sedition is more and better politics.

Over the weekend, apparently in response to Elon Musk’s “Twitter Files” nothingburger, ex-President Donald Trump demanded that the U.S. Constitution be “terminated” and he be reinstalled in the presidential office. A number of you have written in to say, isn’t this a big deal? Shouldn’t you be making a bigger deal of it?

There are many ways to respond to this question, one of which is: here I am writing about it. But on a very basic level, what’s new? Talk is cheap. Trump actually launched an unsuccessful coup attempt two years ago. In the subsequent two years he has repeatedly demanded that he be illegally and unconstitutionally restored to power. My point is not to say this is no big deal but to keep our feet firmly planted on the ground recognizing that this is the political world we’ve been operating in for two years. It is, as far as I know, new that Trump has specifically said the Constitution should be done away with once and for all. But it really just puts the bow on an already wrapped present.

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These Are Two Strong Candidates Prime Badge

I really hope Raphael Warnock wins the runoff election in Georgia this week. That’s an understatement. It’s hard for me to imagine what Herschel Walker winning would even be like. But set that aside. There’s an important dimension of this and the Kelly race in Arizona. If Warnock wins, both of these guys will have won two successive Senate contests in two years in states that have been considered off limits for Democrats for years. One cycle can be a fluke. But these are two successive cycles under dramatically different political conditions.

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An Epic Joke Prime Badge
A Twitter logo is seen on a computer screen on November 20, 2017. (Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto)

I don’t really know how to summarize it. But to great fanfare this evening Elon Musk announced the release of “The Twitter Files,” basically an exposé of the purportedly corrupt decision of Twitter’s former management to suppress links to the NYPost’s story on the Hunter Biden laptop in the final days of the 2020 campaign. He pulled back the curtain and it was none other than Matt Taibbi, now apparently another of Musk’s hirelings, laying it out in one massive Twitter thread.

I was frankly shocked at how underwhelming it was.

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The Sweetheart Deal Gets Sweeter Prime Badge
DeSantis keeps hosing down his defense contractor pals with more money. But there haven't been anymore immigrant flights.

We’ve discussed already how a GOP-connected defense contractor, Vertol Systems Company, was awarded a no bid contract to run Gov. Ron DeSantis’s controversial immigrant relocation program which flew those bamboozled Venezuelan asylum seekers to Martha’s Vineyard back in September. The guy who ran the program for DeSantis, public safety czar Larry Keefe, was Vertol’s longtime lawyer. So everyone is real tight. The state of Florida had to waive its normal rules to pay Vertol in advance for the Martha’s Vineyard “project” and two more stunts, the latter two of which ended up getting scuttled or at least delayed after the controversy blew up in September and October. That meant that the state of Florida had paid Vertol $1.5 million for transporting just fifty immigrants to Massachusetts.

But now there’s more.

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Annals of Boom and Bust Prime Badge

You may have noticed that storied Disney CEO Bob Iger is back in his old job after successor Bob Chapek was unexpectedly fired last month, the corporate equivalent of a drumhead trial and summary execution. The issues at Disney are partly the bearish stock market, partly Chapek’s poor performance. But the central issue is managing Disney’s transformation or attempted transformation into a streaming behemoth. You may already subscribe to Netflix or Amazon Prime or Hulu or AppleTV. If you do, maybe you’ll sign up for one or two more such services. But not more than that. There’s been a furious competition to be one of those one or two more. Under his long tenure at Disney, Iger made a series of acquisitions — Marvel, the Star Wars franchise, Fox entertainment and more — that made that plausible. Now the future of Disney as a streaming business is in question and that is a central reason why Iger is back.

This may seem far from your concerns. But it is part of a larger dynamic that is central to the early 21st century world. We live in an informational and entertainment world in which there are successive cycles of lavish spending to build market share followed by job losses, diminished quality and general chaos when the winners and losers get sorted out.

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