"Beautiful Ted" was but an afterthought. President Trump called himself a nationalist, promised impossible tax cuts (10 percent for the middle class before the November 6 election), and gave Texas rally-goers last night a rather mundane-by-now rendition of how ISIS, "illegals," MS13 gang members, liberal mobs, Congressional Democrats, and the media are working together to take America down. The substantial crowd ate it up anyway.
I had a nearly front-row view of the action—something that felt especially surreal when Trump turned the crowd's attention to the scourge of the "Fake News Media."
I don't think they like us very much pic.twitter.com/Ag68BLRHOn
— Elizabeth Nolan Brown (@ENBrown) October 23, 2018
But the most bizarre and entertaining part, for me, came before even entering the Houston arena where the rally was being held. A few blocks away, I passed a hulking and seemingly wet-shirted Alex Jones—of Infowars fame—huffing away from the area with a small entourage of men in MAGA hats. I about-faced to ask if he had just had some sort of confrontation with protesters … right in time to see Jones take to the middle of the street to shout at a pile of horseshit.
While Jones' camera guy (and I) took video, Jones addressed the shit pile as if it were Beto O'Rourke, the Texas Democrat challenging sitting Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in the upcoming midterm elections.
Literally the first thing I encountered in the vicinity of the Cruz/Trump rally was Alex Jones screaming at a pile of shit pic.twitter.com/lxmPgjAmB5
— Elizabeth Nolan Brown (@ENBrown) October 22, 2018
Cruz was ostensibly the reason for the rally and why Trump had come to town. (Horse-race midterms types would point out here that this makes little strategic sense, as Cruz is projected to win tidily and the president's time might be better spent throwing a bone to less safe GOP candidates.) But Cruz seemed almost an afterthought throughout.
The pre-Trump speakers who mentioned Cruz did so only in the most general terms (i.e., vote for Cruz if you don't want Texas and/or America to become a horrible socialist dystopia; vote for Cruz if you want "jobs, not mobs"). They spent much more time slagging a cartoonishly radical caricature of O'Rourke than touting anything specific about Cruz.
Trump—who earlier in the day had told reporters that "Lyin' Ted" was now "Beautiful Ted"—had a few kind words for Cruz at the rally. But he was much more animated talking about Louie Gohmert, other Republican politicians in attendance, or just about anyone else. Overwhelmingly, Trump gave the impression that he was there not so much for Cruz as because he wanted a big old Texas-sized rally.
The president spent a significant amount of time not only touting the alleged honor of newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh but also bragging about how many people he had already placed on the Supreme Court.
In "less than two years… we have a record number of Supreme Court judges," said Trump, as if the vacancies he had an opportunity to fill were some sort of testimony to his greatness rather than a mere temporal quirk.
At least I only spotted two QAnon shirts this time…
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is going after a website that sold abortion-inducing drugs. "The website, Aid Access, has been quietly shipping the drugs from a pharmacy in India to women in the U.S. for the last six months," reports The Daily Beast, "in response to what the site's founder said was an overwhelming demand from American women." More:
For women who pass the site's online screening–they must say they are less than ten weeks pregnant, and live within one hour of a hospital, for example–[founder Rebecca] Gomperts fills the prescriptions herself and sends them to a trusted pharmacy in India. She maintains that the process is legal, because the FDA allows people to import medicines for their personal use.
But the FDA currently subjects mifepristone to a strict distribution protocol, which prevents it from being sold online or in retail pharmacies. Although the drug is used in roughly a third of all first trimester abortions, and has resulted in only 22 deaths to date, it can be distributed only at pre-approved clinics, hospitals, and private practices.
- Tech companies are trying to set their own regulatory policy before Congress gives them something worse.
- On Monday, a federal judge "lifted the stay he issued last month that had kept the Nebraska State Patrol from putting juveniles on its sex offender registry if they weren't tried as adults."
- House of Cards is back, but without Kevin Spacey.
- Kamala Harris' new plan to give money to the middle class even has a lot of liberals skeptical.
- The U.K. is banning the phrase "fake news" in government documents.