Patterico's Pontifications

1/14/2022

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:38 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Let’s get started!

First news item

What a time to be alive:

TikTok stars are dancing their way to the bank. Some are making more than America’s top chief executives.

Charli D’Amelio, who started posting videos of herself dancing on TikTok in 2019, brought in $17.5 million last year, according to Forbes, which recently ranked the highest-earning TikTok stars of 2021. With 133 million followers on TikTok, she makes her money from a clothing line and promoting products in TikTok videos and other ads…Ms. D’Amelio’s compensation was higher than several CEOs of big publicly traded companies, including Exxon Mobil Corp. ’s Darren Woods ($15.6 million in 2020), Starbucks Corp.’s Kevin Johnson ($14.7 million), Delta Air Lines Inc. ’s Ed Bastian ($13.1 million) and McDonald’s Corp. ’s Chris Kempczinski ($10.8 million), according to the Journal’s analysis of their recent compensation figures.

Second news item

Here it is:

Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of the far-right Oath Keepers militia group, and 10 other members or associates have been charged with seditious conspiracy in the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol, authorities said Thursday…The indictment alleges Oath Keepers for weeks discussed trying to overturn the election results and preparing for a siege by purchasing weapons and setting up battle plans. They repeatedly wrote in chats about the prospect of violence and the need, as Rhodes allegedly wrote in one text, “to scare the s—-out of” Congress. And on Jan. 6, the indictment alleges, they entered the Capitol building with the large crowds of rioters who stormed past police barriers and smashed windows, injuring dozens of officers and sending lawmakers running…Authorities have said the Oath Keepers and their associates worked as if they were going to war, discussing weapons and training. Days before the attack, one defendant suggested in a text message getting a boat to ferry weapons across the Potomac River to their “waiting arms,” prosecutors say.

Rhodes’ attorney, John Mosely, said the group was under the “fanciful idea that Trump was going to activate them as a militia under the insurrection act.”

Third news item

President Biden’s strategery in action: attacking the Senators whose votes he desperate needs:

“Will you stand against election subversion? Yes or no? . . . Do you want to be on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace ? Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor ? Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?”

Observation:

When national Democrats talk to the country they always seem to be talking to themselves. They are of the left, as is their constituency, which wins the popular vote in presidential elections; the mainstream media through which they send their messages is of the left; the academics, historians and professionals they consult are of the left. They get in the habit of talking to themselves, in their language, in a single, looped conversation. They have no idea how they sound to the non-left, so they have no idea when they are damaging themselves. But this week in Georgia Mr. Biden damaged himself. And strengthened, and may even have taken a step in unifying, the non-Democrats who are among their countrymen, and who are in fact the majority of them.

Biden’s polling has certainly taken a hit, and his latest attack hasn’t helped matters:

It’s hard to know how this all factors into Biden’s job approval rating, but broadly speaking, the public is dissatisfied. And it has been for a while now, too, as Biden’s approval rating has hovered in the low 40s for nearly three months, with roughly 42 percent of Americans currently approving of his job performance and 51 percent disapproving, according to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker.

Looking back at recent presidents, this development is particularly troubling for Biden, as he has the second-lowest approval rating of any president one-year in. Only Donald Trump, whose approval rating was in the high 30s, had a lower rating.1

Also:

[A] new Quinnipiac poll showed the usual low Biden numbers, but, most pertinently, that 49% of respondents say he is doing more to divide the country, and only 42% see him as unifying it.

You can read the White House’s pushback against the Quinnipiac poll here.

But clearly, no matter what nonsense President Biden spouts, Sens. Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema aren’t playing:

Also, thinking of JVW – here is his Little Aloha Sweetie’s response to Biden’s divisive speech as well:

Fourth news item

Cyberattack in Ukraine:

A massive cyberattack warning Ukrainians to “be afraid and expect the worst” hit government websites late on Thursday, leaving some websites inaccessible on Friday morning and prompting Kyiv to open an investigation.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry spokesperson told Reuters it was too early to say who could be behind the attack but said Russia had been behind similar strikes in the past.

The cyberattack, which hit the foreign ministry, the cabinet of ministers and the security and defence council among others, comes as Kyiv and its allies have sounded the alarm about a possible new Russian military offensive against Ukraine.

Related:

The US has information that indicates Russia has prepositioned a group of operatives to conduct a false-flag operation in eastern Ukraine, a US official told CNN on Friday, in an attempt to create a pretext for an invasion.

The official said the US has evidence that the operatives are trained in urban warfare and in using explosives to carry out acts of sabotage against Russia’s own proxy forces.
The allegation echoes a statement released by Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense on Friday, which said that Russian special services are preparing provocations against Russian forces in an attempt to frame Ukraine. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan hinted at the intelligence during a briefing with reporters on Thursday.

Fifth news item

California sees big exodus from state:

California, however, bled outbound citizens so badly, it broke U-Haul’s ability to measure — because the company ran out of trucks to rent:

“California is 50th and Illinois 49th on the list for the second consecutive year, indicating those states once again witnessed the largest net losses of one-way U-Haul trucks. . . . California remained the top state for out-migration, but its net loss of U-Haul trucks wasn’t as severe as in 2020. That can be partially attributed to the fact that U-Haul simply ran out of inventory to meet customer demand for outbound equipment.”

The Democratic supermajority continues to give a lot of Californians reasons to leave. On top of unspeakable levels of traffic congestion, outrageous home prices, exorbitant taxes, crumbling infrastructure, etc., etc., moves like this certainly don’t help encourage a large segment of the population to remain in state:

California Governor Gavin Newsom proposed Monday providing health care coverage to all immigrants, legal and illegal.

This move is part of a statewide effort to reduce its number of uninsured residents, which has shown success. The largest group of people that remains insured by the state’s Medicaid program is people of lower incomes in the United States illegally.

According to a legislative analysis, filling this gap would cost the state $2.4 billion annually. Newsom plans to use a surplus in the state’s $286.4 billion budget to cover this.

And I’ll just leave this here too:

Sixth news item

Better plan ahead if you get Covid-19:

The federal website where Americans can request free COVID-19 tests will begin accepting orders on Wednesday as the White House looks to address nationwide shortages, but supplies will be limited to just four free tests per home.

Starting on Jan. 19, the website COVIDTests.gov will provide tests at no cost, including no shipping fee, the White House announced Friday.

But Americans shouldn’t expect a rapid turn-around on the orders and they will have to plan ahead and request the tests well before they meet federal guidelines for when to use a test.

The White House said “tests will typically ship within 7-12 days of ordering” through the U.S. Postal Service, which reports shipping times of 1-3 days for its first-class package service in the continental United States.

Of course, most people with mild-moderate symptoms typically recover within a few weeks, so… On a side note, I went through a drive-thru PCR/rapid testing site last week. I was there 30 mins before they opened, 8th in line. (When I left, the line was three blocks long). It was well organized and easy to get through. From when I swabbed to when I received a text with my results (Neg.) was about 30 minutes. 24 hours later, I received PCR results.

Seventh news item

What??:

As crews cleaned the US Capitol on January 7, 2021, the phone lines in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office began to ring.

Rioters were calling “asking whether there was a lost and found because they forgot their phone there, or they left their purse or what have you,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., told Insider on Friday.

Police officers quickly took down information from the callers, Raskin said.

“The officers quickly got on the phone and said, yeah, just give us your name, your address, your social, you know, and we’ll tie up these loose ends,” Raskin said. “But what’s so fascinating to me about that there really were people who felt as if they had been summoned to Washington by the president.”

Eighth news item

Beware the Kraken:

…people close to BILL and HILLARY CLINTON said the former first couple sees it as an opportunity to insert themselves back into political life.

The intra-party divisions have given them a chance to flex their centrist, dealmaking brand of politics as a way to move the party forward.

Bill Clinton has relished the opportunity to whip on behalf of the White House. In addition to pressing Manchin on the filibuster, Clinton suggested that he should salvage Build Back Better by zeroing in on the few elements the West Virginia senator really wants.

“I told Joe, ‘Break it up, pick one or two [pieces] you can swallow and then run on the rest,’” Clinton recalled of their phone call… The idea is drawing interest among party leadership.

Clinton also spoke with Sinema recently, according to one of the people familiar with the call, and said afterward, “I don’t know her, but I like her.”

Another factor that motivated Bill Clinton to get more engaged: the low ratings and muted public reaction to “Impeachment: American Crime Story,” the FX show produced by MONICA LEWINSKY, according to a long-time bundler for the couple.

“It’s a perpetual itch that will never go away,” a person close to the couple said of the draw to public life. “They know how to slowly reenter. The Clintons want to reset the board in their favor and then move the pieces.”

As for Hillary Clinton…Even though the people said there’s no chance she runs for president again, the attention allows her to gauge public reaction as she sets her sights on reemerging in lower-profile ways, like campaigning during the midterms or taking on policy fights.

“She’s bored,” the longtime Clinton bundler said of the former secretary of State, senator and first lady, who’s now hosting a MasterClass on “the power of resilience.”

Ninth news item

Mitt doesn’t mince words:

Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah on Thursday blasted the Republican National Committee’s plans to prohibit future GOP presidential candidates from participating in debates sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

Romney, the party’s 2012 presidential nominee and the uncle of the current RNC chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, said the decision would deprive the American people of the opportunity to hear candidates “duke it out.”

“Well, that would be nuts,” Romney told Insider at the Capitol. “The American people want to see candidates for president debating issues of consequence to them, and it provides a service to the country and to the people, to hear the prospective candidates of the two major parties duke it out.”

Hey, have a great weekend.

–Dana

Nearly One Year Into the Biden Administration, Jim Geraghty Is Not Impressed

Filed under: General — JVW @ 11:03 am



[guest post by JVW]

This upcoming Wednesday will mark 52 weeks of Joe Biden’s Presidency. Coming on the heels of what has been a disastrous week (and, to be sure, really about six months) for the novice administration, there are sure to be plenty of think-pieces coming from right, left, and center, all appraising the first year of the 46th President and making suggestions for how the Chief Executive and his team can turn around what is pretty much by consensus an awful start (certainly there will be professional Democrats who will write pieces suggesting that Team Biden has had several substantial wins that will pay off down the road). Jim Geraghty at National Review has gotten a head start on the rest of the pundits with an amazing piece which makes a convincing case that Joe Biden’s Presidency has been an unmitigated disaster. I implore you go over there and read it in full, but I’ll tease you with a few tidbits:

[Biden] just screws up, over and over again. I ranted this litany to a friend who observed that this isn’t even counting the legislative fights that Biden chose, knowing the extraordinary difficulty of passage with a small majority for House Democrats and a 50-50 Senate: Build Back Better, a federal takeover of election administration, and creating at least a carve-out of the filibuster if not eliminating it entirely. As Phil Klein summarizes, “Biden wasted months of negotiations hoping that Manchin would suddenly change his mind on a kitchen-sink bill. . . . Clearly, Biden’s calculations on the art of the possible have been way off.”

[. . .]

Biden’s fundamental personal problem is that he wildly overestimates his own persuasiveness and charm. He’s prickly, thin-skinned, and as we’ve seen, a clumsy demagogue. (Some of us remember “Gonna put you back in chains!”) He’s frequently something of a jerk or an ass; people may remember Biden saying, “You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent,” but they rarely remember that it’s one of the first things Biden said upon meeting that Indian-American supporter. His better days seem rarer than in the Obama years, and even on those, he comes across as a garrulous wacky neighbor whom you start keeping your distance from because you know any interaction will lead to your being forced to listen to a lot of lengthy, meandering, self-aggrandizing stories. Biden was always prone to exaggeration, but now he seems to be blurring stories he once heard with experiences that actually happened to him. On his worst days, Biden’s indignation and anger burst forth with little warning and even less justification or coherence — “that was four or five days ago!”

[. . .]

[The decision to select the woefully incompetent and lazy Kamala Harris] as the Democratic nominee foreshadowed what the country would get with Biden as president. For a man who’s been in politics and elected office as long as he has, he has surprisingly bad instincts. And the consequences of those bad instincts and decisions are piling up higher and higher.

Again, I urge you to read the whole thing, especially Mr. Geraghty’s list of all of the ridiculous and unfulfilled promises that candidate Joe Biden made, as well as his comparison of the agenda demanded by the activist left (to whom President Biden has inexplicably tailored his own) to an agenda which would find favor with a center-left to center-right coalition of voters.

Joe Biden is a very mediocre man. If you were to gather him along with 1000 other random people in a room and measure their intelligence, I am willing to bet that at best Mr. Biden would come in somewhere in the very middle of the pack, in the 45%-55% range. When elected to the United States Senate, he almost certainly found himself in the bottom decile of members in terms of brainpower, and it’s not as if that body is exactly a collection of MENSA card holders. One hallmark of Joe Biden’s political career has been an ongoing need to justify himself — a small state Senator who was elected largely on looks and a certain degree of Irish charm — and to try to prove that he does indeed belong. He mostly has done this by ingratiating himself with his party’s leadership every step of the day, whether they be populist segregationists, Ivy League leftists, or corrupt party hacks. And his hail-fellow-well-met attitude has allowed him to attain a certain level of affection, though not really respect, with members of the other party. Now that he has made it to the pinnacle of his profession, you would think that he might drop the pretense and be just Good Ol’ Joe, but it seems pretty obvious that his feelings of inadequacy are so much a part of who he is that he is compelled to style himself as the next FDR or LBJ, which isn’t really what the moment calls for, regardless of the New York Times editorial page insisting otherwise.

Had things gone as they should have, Joe Biden could have wound down his long pointless career in the Senate and maybe retired after the 2014 or 2020 elections. It’s to our eternal regret that Barack Obama, himself a tyro and desiring a Washington veteran who would not overshadow him with anything resembling competence, dragged the garrulous blowhard into the White House beside him. It’s further to our eternal regret that the personal dysfunction of Donald Trump and the sheer lunacy of most of the Democrat candidates in the last election cycle led the party poobahs to settle on the crazy old codger as the electable figure and then to get their media allies to brand him as “centrist” and “unifying.” And no doubt there will be more regret to come until that blessed day when President Biden waves goodbye one final time and boards Air Force One (or a special Amtrak train) to head home to Delaware. Of course it is quite possible that he will be replaced by someone far worse.

– JVW


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