Patterico's Pontifications

5/26/2023

Don Jr. BRINGS IT

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:47 am



OH YEAH

RT IF YOU AGREE

Weekend Open Thread: Holiday Weekend with Junior Varsity Writing

Filed under: General — JVW @ 6:56 am



[guest post by JVW]

Earlier this month Dana got the ball rolling on the extended Weekend Open Thread post, so now that a four-day weekend is standard ’round these parts (Patterico’s Pontifications is becoming the Holland among political blogs, thanks in large measure to me) I’ll get the weekend started and look forward to recommencing with everyone on Tuesday (or Wednesday, maybe Thursday).

Item Un – Who Is Winning the Debt Ceiling Debate?
If you read conservative media, and even if you take the look at the snivley bleating of some lefty academics, it is emphatically the GOP. Not only did the somewhat surprising passage of a House bill increasing the debt limit in return for spending rescissions and caps catch the Democrats and media (excuse the redundancy) off-guard, but it highlighted the fact that the Biden Administration and Democrat Congressional leadership hadn’t even bothered to come up with a back-up plan. After weeks of insisting they would accept nothing but a clean bill raising the debt ceiling with no conditions and assuming that their media allies would help sell the narrative of recalcitrant Republicans dragging the nation to the brink of fiscal ruin, Dems are hit smack in the face with separate polls from both CNN and Fox suggesting that three in five voters agree that spending cuts ought to be part of any increase in the debt limit. Even Democrats are close to an even split on the question. This is a reversal from the Obama years when polling around debt ceiling negotiations consistently showed the public siding with the Obama Administration and Democrats over Congressional Republicans.

What accounts for the switch in perception this time around? One clear factor has to be that Barack Obama was eloquent and glib and could at least explain his position in a consistent and plausible (if demagogic) way, whereas Joe Biden is grouchy and oafish, continually stumbling for words and derailing his own train of thought. But writing at NRO, Noah Rothman sees another huge factor at work: Americans’ ongoing struggles with inflation. Unfortunately for the progressives, nearly two-and-one-half years into the Biden Administration a majority of Americans — and ominously for the Democrats a sizable majority of independent voters — refuse to believe that this inflation was caused solely by pandemic and supply-chain based problems the administration inherited in 2021. They now see the reckless spending of the Democrats over the past two years as being a contributor to the problem, perhaps even a major one. It will be a long hard slog to June 1, but likely a bit longer for the Biden/Schumer/Jeffries troika than it will be for the two Republican Micks staring across the table at them. (If I understand things, I get to use that slur for the sake of irony since I’m Irish. At least this is what Dave Chappelle and George Lopez have told me.)

Item Doi – Gavin Newsom Prepares for a National Run
Joel Kotkin explains how the gelatinous governor is positioning himself to a party obsessed with environmental doomsdayism and the grievances of racial and sexual minorities, yet still a bit worried about killing the goose which lays the golden eggs:

Many conservatives may see Gavin Newsom as the epitome of the progressive Left, with some even calling his policies “communist.” But the policy preferences of the California governor (whose presidential ambitions are evident) represent something more plausible and thus more dangerous: a blending of Peronist income redistribution coupled with the fanatically “green” authoritarian agenda embraced by the state’s dominant tech oligarchy, public-employee unions, and climate activists.

[. . .]

Newsom goes beyond Perón by adding race-based welfarism to his agenda. He has embraced reparations proposals (though he is apparently not yet willing to fund them) that could cost upwards of $640 billion, even though California was never a slave state. Newsom, born with the curse of “white privilege,” has been a firm backer of racial quotas, and he has already pledged to replace Senator Dianne Feinstein with a black woman, even though blacks make up barely 5 percent of the state’s population.

The whole piece provides an interesting insight into what cheerleaders have hailed as “California Capitalism,” but which otherwise is simply progressive oligarchy with the hopes that nobody notices the growing chasm between the very wealthy and the working poor, while the growing numbers of the desperately destitute have the good sense to keep hidden out of sight lest they spoil the beach party.

Item char ( तीन ) – One Washed-Up Elderly Politician Comes to the Defense of Another
The once inevitable next President of the United States, Hillary! Rodham Clinton, while being interviewed by Charlotte Alter of Time, gave a rousing — no, a robust — well, perhaps mundane — ok, maybe a somewhat feeble defense for her old friend Dianne Feinstein, who is under increasing pressure to stop cosplaying as a United States Senator, and gave a impassioned — no, half-assed defense of elderly politicians in general:

“Let me say a word about my friend and longtime colleague Dianne Feinstein,” [Her Clintonic Majesty] continued. “First of all, she has suffered greatly from the bout of shingles and encephalitis that she endured. Here is the dilemma for her: she got reelected, the people of California voted for her again, not very long ago. That was the voters’ decision to vote for her, and she has been a remarkable and very effective leader.”

I actually find myself agreeing with Her Frumpiness about Sen. Feinstein being duly reelected at the age of 84 and therefore we Californians deserve the ill representation from her that we happily voted for. Naturally, the First Lady/Senator/Secretary follows this up with a broadside against those mean ol’ Republicans who won’t let Chuck Schumer replace Sen. Feinstein on the Judiciary Committee with a alert Democrat, ignoring the idea that perhaps California voters don’t perhaps prefer to be represented by a non compos mentis Senator to decide weighty legal issues on behalf of our state’s residents. In any case, America’s Cybersecurity Queen then brought the Boomer sense of entitlement to the forefront:

When I asked her again about the broader question of whether Democrats have allowed their leadership to get too old, she pushed back. “I do not believe in broad questions about age,” Clinton, age 75, said, adding that she also didn’t believe in term limits. “If you don’t want to vote for somebody, don’t vote for them. But don’t impose some artificial check on the voters. I don’t buy this whole debate. And frankly, a lot of the people pushing it, I don’t understand what their real agenda is, because part of it is a bank shot against Joe Biden. And I think Joe Biden has done a very good job.”

The fact that Hillary Clinton thinks that Joe Biden has done a very good job tells me that (1) life is pretty good for a retired bureaucrat, cattle-futures trader, and corporate pep-talk giver out in Chappaqua, (2) she thinks that America was overdue for high inflation, incompetent stewardship, and overseas embarrassment, or (3) the only other President she can still remember is Donald Trump. I will always be grateful for the fact that she never became President (why do I find myself with the sudden urge to knock on wood?).

Item ceathair – The — ahem, ahem — “Failure” of Ron DeSantis’s Campaign Launch
A technical glitch which I guess led to a reduced audience size and a change to the format certainly isn’t how anybody would want to launch their Presidential campaign, but the incessant hot takes from the media that this disastrous and glitch-filled event which crashed and burned and might derail his embarrassing campaign which is melting upon contact with reality anyway. Much of this sniping came from the lefty media, naturally, as well as full-throated Trumpists, predictably; but there were also some concerns expressed by those who otherwise would like to see Governor DeSantis as the eventual GOP nominee. So how will we know if the DeSantis campaign, which has now been endorsed by 150 former Trump Administration officials, is truly legit?

Well, the DeSantis campaign raised $8.2 million in the first 24 hours after the announcement. It took Donald Trump six weeks to raise his first $9.5 million

Item kuhlanu – More Bad CNN Polling for the President
As I was drafting these items, a new CNN poll just dropped (how I love using trendy slang favored by the kids; I find it to be on fleek) suggesting that the up again/down again fortunes of Joe Biden are currently on a low cycle. His approval rating has dropped to 35%, the lowest of any President at this point in his first term ever, and now 66% of Americans say that it would be a “setback” or a “disaster” if he were to be reelected. I wonder if a debt ceiling deal with Republicans would boost his fortunes, allowing him to be seen by moderates as a conciliator, or would doom him with progressives as a traitor. Going back to Item Un, it would seem that whoever told President Biden to eschew negotiations with House Republicans did the Chief Executive no favors.

Obviously there is an opening for a competent Republican who can keep the election issues centered around the manifest failures of Joe Biden and not about any perceived mistreatment the candidate or his party has experienced in the past. Perhaps it’s time for Hillary Clinton, who will turn 77 just before Election Day 2024, to update her wardrobe.

Item chhah ( छह ) – Pride Month: Maybe Billion Dollar Corporations Should be Careful about the Company They Keep
As if Bud Light’s disastrous decision to celebrate a very effeminate 26-year-old male actor who carries on in the persona of an exceptionally frivolous 15-year-old girl probably wasn’t fully vetted, two other companies have said: “Hold my beer!” (no, that’s too trite in this case) “Oh yeah? Watch this!”

I: Target hires a company headed by a satanist to create a line of Pride merchandise. Really thought that one through there, guys. Nothing says “our LGBTQ friends should be a part of the mainstream” quite like associating them directly with the Father of Lies. Many Target stores are choosing not to prominently display the Pride merchandise, which has the LBGTQ lobby up in arms, and Target finds itself in the unenviable position of angering both sides of the debate (sound familiar, Anheuser-Busch?).

II: The Los Angeles Dodgers decide to invite The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a group of gay and trans men who paint their faces grotesquely and dress in nun’s habits, to be honored on field during next month’s Pride Night. Some Dodgers fans point out that despite pretending to be some sort of organization centered around “community service,” “ministry,” and “outreach,” the sisters’ public facing indicates they are much more about frivolous fashion shows, crazy parties, and utterly predictable political grandstanding. Furthermore, their alleged altruism, such as it is, appears to be limited to tossing a few bucks collected from their events at various en vogue LBGTQ charities, along with providing weblinks to organizations which actually do the hard work of providing a tangible service. Even an unabashedly reverent profile of the group in the Dog Trainer struggles to define what “ministry” they provide beyond chatting up troubled boys and men at their numerous social functions. By that standard, most drunks perched on barstools are performing a ministry, but I digress. In any case, having second thoughts, the Dodgers disinvite the group and issue apologies to their fans. Then having third thoughts, and amid an alleged avalanche of complaints from advocates, the Dodgers re-invite the group to the event and apologize to the LGBTQ community. I don’t know who in Dodgerland gave the club the idea that the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence were anything other than a politicized group of debauched attention-seekers, but the Dodgers walked themselves right into the trap. Again, a half-hour of research (and not just reading their self-serving press releases) before inviting this group would have served the club’s community relations team very well, but perhaps in these stupid days the team knew exactly who they were dealing with and thought it would be a lot of fun to bring them into the Chavez Ravine spotlight, screw the Catholic fans.

All three instances show what happens when a corporation does not do its due diligence when determining how to navigate the choppy waters and rocky shoals of contemporary political disagreements, and the perils of trusting social media and mindless “influencers” as a valid source for who can appeal to a broad swath of your potential market base. I have very little sympathy for any of those three corporations for being this lazy and stupid.

Item Seven – Remembering Those Who Served, and Those Who Sacrificed
I attended the Armed Forces Day Parade in Torrance last Saturday, the first time I had done so in my 27 years living here. I am very chagrined that it had taken me so long. When I was in middle school playing my baritone horn, I marched along with my bandmates in my hometown’s Armed Forces Day parade, so seeing young musicians failing to keep in marching step brought back some sentimental memories. My friend and I situated ourselves at the start of the parade route, which gave me the opportunity to lustily boo Ted Lieu and to half-heartedly boo Maxine Waters as they drove by in their chauffeured vintage convertibles.

But the most poignant moment of the parade was the passing through of some of our nation’s last surviving World War II veterans, many of whom rode in vintage military vehicles. I thought about my grandfather, who served stateside in the army during the War, and my two great-uncles who saw combat in Europe, one of whom was killed in action over Ploesti, Romania almost 80 years ago. I hope the Los Angeles Daily News will indulge me in publishing below the two pictures I have linked to above (more pictures of the parade including — warning! — of Rep. Lieu can be found here). They and their fallen comrades-in-arms deserve to be held in our hearts this weekend, and I’m not ashamed to report that I choked up as they drove by, knowing that the day will soon come when we will not be able to honor them while they are still living.

Have a peaceful and safe Memorial Day, everyone.

– JVW

5/25/2023

Supreme Court Unanimously Rules for Elderly Widow against Rapacious County

Filed under: General — JVW @ 12:57 pm



[guest post by JVW]

I guess we have never discussed the case of Geraldine Tyler, a widowed 94-year-old Hennepin County, Minnesota resident who had the county government seize and auction off her condominium for failure to pay taxes. Ms. Tyler, who had already transitioned into a nursing care facility, owed $2,300 in unpaid property tax, which the county bumped up to $15,000 when adding various penalties and interest charges accrued over a period of a few years. The condo was sold at auction for $40,000, but rather than keeping the $15,000 owed and refunding the remaining $25,000 to Ms. Tyler, Hennepin County kept the entire sum, claiming that state law permitted this as a consequence of forfeiture and that it did not count as an illegal taking.

Happily, exactly zero of the Supreme Court Justices saw things the same way that Hennepin County did. Chief Justice Roberts wrote the majority decision, ruling that the Fifth Amendment prohibition against “private property be[ing] taken for public use, without just compensation,” holding that “History and precedent dictate that, while the County had the power to sell Tyler’s home to recover the unpaid property taxes, it could not use the tax debt to confiscate more property than was due.” It drew a distinction between this case and Nelson v. New York City, a 1956 Supreme Court case in which the Warren Court ruled in an 8-1 decision that a bookkeeping error leading to the city seizing and selling two privately-held parcels over an unpaid water bill did not violate the Takings Clause. The Roberts court today pointed out that in Nelson the appellants were presented with the opportunity to recover excess fees from the sale but missed the deadline for doing so, whereas current Minnesota law presents no route for landholders to seek redress. The Chief Justice rejected the county’s claims that the elderly widow had abandoned her property, and pointed out that Minnesota’s forfeiture law is written so broadly that abandonment is not even required for the county to begin the process of seizure.

Unfortunately, the Court dodged the issue of whether or not Hennepin County’s actions fell afoul of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against imposing excessive fines, with Justice Roberts asserting that once the Court had determined that Ms. Tyler had prevailed under the Takings Clause that there was no need for the Court to address the Excessive Fines Clause. Not so fast, came the response from a concurrence written by Justice Gorsuch and joined by Justice Jackson. The two disagreed that the Takings Clause rendered moot the need to visit the Excessive Fines Clause, given that the lower courts had misconstrued the application of that law [citations have been removed by me to improve reading flow]:

[E]ven a cursory review of the District Court’s excessive-fines analysis—which the Eighth Circuit adopted as “well-reasoned” reveals that it too contains mistakes future lower courts should not be quick to emulate.

First, the District Court concluded that the Minnesota tax-forfeiture scheme is not punitive because “its primary purpose” is “remedial” — aimed, in other words, at “compensat[ing] the government for lost revenues due to the nonpayment of taxes.” That primary-purpose test finds no support in our law. [. . .] It matters not whether the scheme has a remedial purpose, even a predominantly remedial purpose. So long as the law “cannot fairly be said solely to serve a remedial purpose,” the Excessive Fines Clause applies. [. . .]

Second, the District Court asserted that the Minnesota tax-forfeiture scheme cannot “be punitive because it actually confers a windfall on the delinquent taxpayer when the value of the property that is forfeited is less than the amount of taxes owed.” That observation may be factually true, but it is legally irrelevant. Some prisoners better themselves behind bars; some addicts credit court-ordered rehabilitation with saving their lives. But punishment remains punishment all the same. [. . .]

Third, the District Court appears to have inferred that the Minnesota scheme is not “punitive” because it does not turn on the “culpability” of the individual property owner. But while a focus on “culpability” can sometimes make a provision “look more like punishment,” this Court has never endorsed the converse view. [. . .]

The concurrence concludes — correctly, in my layman’s view — that the Constitution explicitly states that excessive fines are not allowed, and thus there should be no weaseling around this by government bodies. I hope that at some point the Court has occasion to revisit these wise words.

When Neil Gorsuch was appointed to the Court, super-smart legal observers suggested that he would bring with him a deep suspicion about the regulatory state and its unchecked abuses. Those of us who hoped this would indeed be his disposition ought to be happy with his concurrence, and very intrigued by the fact that Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson chose to join him. Perhaps that bodes well for a future left/right alliance against the unaccountable bureaucratic state.

– JVW

5/24/2023

Just About How You Expect This Sort of Event to Have Gone

Filed under: General — JVW @ 10:32 am



[guest post by JVW]

Here is today’s “yeah, that’ll happen” event, reported by the New York Times.

Uber has placed its longtime head of diversity, equity and inclusion on leave after workers complained that an employee event she moderated, titled “Don’t Call Me Karen,” was insensitive to people of color.

Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s chief executive, and Nikki Krishnamurthy, the chief people officer, last week asked Bo Young Lee, the head of diversity, “to step back and take a leave of absence while we determine next steps,” according to an email on Thursday from Ms. Krishnamurthy to some employees that was viewed by The New York Times.

“We have heard that many of you are in pain and upset by yesterday’s Moving Forward session,” the email said. “While it was meant to be a dialogue, it’s obvious that those who attended did not feel heard.”

Employees’ concerns centered on a pair of events, one last month and another last Wednesday, that were billed as “diving into the spectrum of the American white woman’s experience” and hearing from white women who work at Uber, with a focus on “the ‘Karen’ persona.” They were intended to be an “open and honest conversation about race,” according to the invitation.

But workers instead felt that they were being lectured on the difficulties experienced by white women and why “Karen” was a derogatory term and that Ms. Lee was dismissive of their concerns, according to messages sent on Slack, a workplace messaging tool, that were viewed by The Times.

Who could have seen that coming. (Answer: all of us.) It turns out that minority females in achingly progressives billion-dollar corporations don’t always want to hear about the travails that white women undergo. “Tough luck, sister; now, to turn the spotlight back on to me,” appears to be the general attitude among the higher echelons of the intersectionality pyramid. The times reports that employees at Uber objected to treating discomfort with the term Karen as being on the same level as other forms of discrimination and, according to the Times, they wanted to focus shifted back to the ways in which white people are causing harm to what we like to refer to these days as “people of color.”

This is of course a minefield that no competent corporation would want to wander into, but the new executive team at Uber is focused on repairing what many employees felt was a toxic work environment under the previous leadership. The new CEO brought in to fix the company’s culture, Mr. Khosrowshahi, hired Ms. Lee in the newly-created Chief of Diversity and Inclusion role and it would seem turned her loose to awaken her colleagues. After the first of the “Karen” sessions, Ms. Lee was apparently asked by a black female Uber employee if she would commit to preventing “tone-deaf, offensive and triggering conversations” from coming up in future sessions. Unfortunately for the diversity chief, her reply defended having difficult conversations, arguing according to one disgruntled employee that Uber employees would find value in being pushed out of their own “strategic ignorance.” And that’s when the excrement made contact with the oscillating air conditioning unit.

Rather than schadenfreude, I just find myself feeling weary with constantly hearing about all of this whiny nonsense. I think that if done right, some of this cultural competency stuff can be of some value, but in these days of the well-funded DEI racket it more often than not devolves into petty bickering about who has suffered the most and is thus to be accorded the seat of honor at the grievance banquet. Tough luck, Uber, and tough luck, Bo Young Lee, but this game isn’t for amateurs.

– JVW

5/19/2023

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:05 am



[guest post by Dana]

Let’s go!

First news item

Holding the majority is the priority:

A resolution to expel Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., from Congress was referred to the House Ethics Committee on Wednesday as Republicans successfully sidestepped an effort to force them into a vote that could have narrowed their already slim four-seat majority.

The House voted along party lines, 221-204, to refer the matter to the ethics panel, with Santos himself joining his GOP colleagues in voting to do so.

The freshman congressman has been charged with embezzling money from his campaign, falsely receiving unemployment funds and lying to Congress about his finances. He has denied the charges and has pleaded not guilty.

Rep. Robert Garcia, D-Calif., introduced a resolution in February to expel Santos, something the House has only done twice in recent decades. He sought to force a vote on that resolution under a process that left three options for Republicans: a vote on the resolution, a move to table, or a referral to committee.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy chose the third option, much to the chagrin of Democrats who described it as a “complete copout.” They noted that the ethics panel is already investigating Santos and that it was time for Republican House members who have called for Santos to resign to back their words with action.

Second news item

This raises some questions:

When Sen. Dianne Feinstein walked into the Capitol last week, ending a monthslong medical absence, she was accompanied by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a small entourage of aides — and a close personal confidant with a storied political pedigree.

Nancy Carinne Prowda blended into the swarm around the legendary California Democrat. The San Francisco Chronicle made note of her presence but left unreported amid the spectacle was the larger role that Prowda, the eldest child of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has come to play in Feinstein’s life as the 89-year-old has dealt with the absence of her deceased husband, the departure of trusted staffers, a nasty case of shingles and spiraling concerns about her fitness for office.

The intrigue surrounds the future of Feinstein’s seat. Pelosi has endorsed Rep. Adam Schiff, her longtime protégé and former hand-picked House Intelligence Committee chair, to succeed Feinstein after her sixth and final term ends next year…But if Feinstein were to bow to pressure and retire early, Schiff’s advantage could disappear. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) has pledged to appoint a Black woman to serve out her term, and one of Schiff’s declared opponents, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), would fit the bill.

“If DiFi resigns right now, there is an enormous probability that Barbara Lee gets appointed — thus, it makes it harder for Schiff,” one Pelosi family confidant told Playbook, adding that the relationship between Pelosi, her daughter and the senator is “being kept under wraps and very, very closely held.”

Third news item

Revealing:

Sanctions against Russian defense companies have not interfered with Western supplies – equipment is still being imported by military contractors who have escaped sanctions lists. European businessmen have continued to sell goods to Russian firms that supply the country’s army with microchips for missiles, shells, fuses, tactical boots, body armor, engines for warships, and many other goods. The Insider confirmed supplies coming in from Germany, France, Switzerland, Hungary, Slovakia, Italy, Estonia, Lithuania, Austria, and Poland.

This:

Engaging with Russia is being an accessory to crime. It used to be mostly fraud and theft, now it’s murder and terror…Countries and companies still doing business with Russia are exploiting the murder of Ukrainians for profit. They barely hide avoiding sanctions to help Putin and his war machine. This isn’t geopolitics or politics at all. It’s funding and empowering a war criminal regime attempting genocide on an industrial scale. These companies and governments are doing it knowingly, and in many cases openly.

Related: The Biden administration has reportedly signaled to allies that the U.S. would not block their export of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine. Filed under: I’ll believe it when I see it.

Fourth news item

Gov. DeSantis doesn’t seem very business friendly. More fallout from DeSantis’s nonsense feud with Disney:

The Walt Disney Co. said it is pulling out of a roughly $1 billion investment in Florida, citing “changing business conditions.” The media and entertainment giant announced the move amid a year-long feud with the state’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, after Disney publicly opposed his bill to limit instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools.

In a memo sent to Disney employees, Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, said that the company isn’t moving forward with its plans to build a new Disney campus in Lake Nona.

The Lake Nona complex would have included several buildings employing 2,000 Disney workers that would have been relocated from California to Florida.

Fifth news item

On San Francisco:

San Francisco’s problems go far beyond drugs. The Bay Area is home to four of the 10 most valuable companies in the world — Apple, Alphabet, Nvidia and Meta — titanic producers of wealth, but a staggering one per cent of the city’s population is homeless, compared to less than 0.2 per cent across the US. The gulf between rich and poor — and white and black — is among the largest in America. House prices and rents soared to among the highest in the US during the last tech boom. Since the pandemic, tech companies have embraced remote working, laid off staff and slashed office space, leaving almost a third of the city’s commercial real estate vacant. In other words, houses are more expensive and scarcer, and offices are cheap and empty. Teachers and nurses can’t afford to live in San Francisco, and tech workers see fewer reasons to. 

There is a growing sense, too, that the city’s progressive political class has failed its citizens. Violent attacks in wealthy neighbourhoods, including the fatal stabbing of Cash App founder Bob Lee and a burglary at the home of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi which left her husband in hospital with a fractured skull, were interpreted as symbols of pervasive lawlessness.

The area has lost a net of 2,500 businesses since March 2020. Now residents are doubtful about the long-delayed opening of San Francisco’s first Ikea just three blocks away from Whole Foods — although Ikea said its plans had not changed.

Earlier this month, high-end Saks and Nordstrom vacated San Francisco, leaving over 500,000 square feet of retail space expected to be completely vacated by the early fall.

Sixth news item

Nikki Haley on Jan. 6:

Former U.S. ambassador the United Nations Nikki Haley Wednesday called Jan. 6, 2021 “a terrible day” and said any person who broke the law at the U.S. Capitol that day “should pay the price.”

“It was not a beautiful day, it was a terrible day, and we don’t ever want that to happen again,” Haley said at a town hall-style event in Ankeny, Iowa, when asked by a voter how she could ensure a “fair and speedy” trial for those charged over their alleged actions on Jan. 6. “I don’t know enough about each individual [rioter] but that’s my rule: If you break the law, you pay the price. And so I think that’s the way we need to look at it.”

I feel like Haley is always trying to gingerly walk the tightrope by not mentioning you know who. But, after all, it was you know who that fomented the insurrection of Jan. 6, and it was the same you know who that referred to Jan. 6 as a “beautiful day” during the CNN townhall. This is Haley back in February 2021:

She confidently predicted Trump would not run for federal office again.

“I don’t think he’s going to be in the picture,” Haley said. “I don’t think he can. He’s fallen so far.”

When asked how Trump could be held accountable, she said: “I think he’s going to find himself further and further isolated. I think his business is suffering at this point. I think he’s lost any sort of political viability he was going to have. I think he’s lost his social media, which meant the world to him. I mean, I think he’s lost the things that really could have kept him moving.”

Underestimating Trump is the biggest mistake a Republican candidate can make.

Seventh news item

Ramping up: Gov. DeSantis is said to be officially announcing his run for the presidency next week. Sen. Tim Scott is launching a $6 million ad buy and is expected to officially announce his entry into the presidential race on Monday.

Eighth news item

On debt limit negotiations:

High-stakes negotiations over raising the debit limit abruptly came to a halt Friday on Capitol Hill, after Republican negotiators walked out of the room and blamed the White House for holding up the talks.

“Until people are willing to have reasonable conversations about how you can actually move forward and do the right thing, then we’re not gonna sit here and talk to ourselves,” Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., told reporters.

“We decided to press pause because it’s just not productive,” he added. Graves said he did not know if talks would resume this weekend.

Sticking points:

As Republicans demand spending cuts and policy changes, Biden is facing increased pushback from Democrats, particularly progressives, not to give in to demands they argue will be harmful to Americans.

Democrats particularly refuse the Republican proposal to protect defense and veterans accounts from spending caps, arguing that the cuts will fall too heavily on other domestic programs.

Republicans also want to impose stricter work requirements on government aid recipients. Biden has suggested he might be open to considering it, but Democrats in Congress have said is a nonstarter.

Have a great weekend.

–Dana

5/18/2023

Biden Must be in Trouble: the Cult of Mayor Pete Makes a Comeback

Filed under: General — JVW @ 2:46 pm



[guest post by JVW]

Some of you old-timers like me may remember way back four years ago ’round about this time when a small-town mayor by the name of Pete Buttigieg, straight from the heartland of America, emerged on to the national scene and briefly became the heartthrob of a certain sort of progressive elite. No, not the old-school drawing room Marxists or even parlor pinks who dominate lefty thought from such lofty perches as Nob Hill, West Hollywood, Hyde Park, Park Slope, or Cambridge Common, and not the young radicals who were chasing the twin goals of perfect intersectionality and a lavish welfare system.

Instead, Mayor Pete’s fanbase mostly consisted of the professional class, ages 25-55, who had been educated at highly-renowned colleges as their hero had been, who like him had participated in the capitalist economy in decent-to-well-paying positions while still reserving the right to be highly critical of the unfairness of the system when Tweeting from their vacation homes, and who joined the Mayor of South Bend by articulating all of the trendy social justice positions without ever having been called upon to do anything in support of them, save for voting for the “correct” political party and candidates. Pete Buttigieg was damn near the walking-talking embodiment of the perfect résumé: Harvard and Oxford (Rhodes Scholar naturally), the U.S. Navy Reserve with a deployment to Afghanistan, McKinsey & Company consultant. He’s openly gay (yet not aggressively so, at least not to a suitable degree to satisfy the shrillest gay activists) but at the same time he’s old fashioned enough to be in a monogamous relationship. For one shining moment it almost seemed as if he might vault all the way to the top of the greasy pole that is the Democrat nomination, but Mayor Pete’s inability to close the deal with the party’s African-American voting bloc combined with the pesky popularity of a senile socialist led to the party throwing its weight behind an old (emphasis on old) and familiar hack, and Pete Buttigieg — who can make banal small talk in something like 17 different languages, though he is truly fluent in consultant blather — ended up with the “so that you don’t go home empty-handed” prize of being named Transportation Secretary.

But now the prospects of a second Biden term are getting more and more dicey each week, with questions arising of whether he can win reelection and, should he do so, if a second term wouldn’t be a Wilsonian exercise in keeping him hidden from the American public lest his advancing infirmaries be fully exposed. On top of that, Mr. Biden’s Vice-Presidential selection has shown herself to be an appalling airhead, utterly unfit for the job and even less likely to keep the White House in party hands than her boss is. So is this at long last the Buttigieg Moment? Virginia Heffernan of Wired sure seems to think so, and she writes a hagiographical piece which seems intended to get the Secretary Pete bandwagon rolling:

The curious mind of Pete Buttigieg holds much of its functionality in reserve. Even as he discusses railroads and airlines, down to the pointillist data that is his current stock-in-trade, the US secretary of transportation comes off like a Mensa black card holder who might have a secret Go habit or a three-second Rubik’s Cube solution or a knack for supplying, off the top of his head, the day of the week for a random date in 1404, along with a non-condescending history of the Julian and Gregorian calendars.

As Secretary Buttigieg and I talked in his underfurnished corner office one afternoon in early spring, I slowly became aware that his cabinet job requires only a modest portion of his cognitive powers. Other mental facilities, no kidding, are apportioned to the Iliad, Puritan historiography, and Knausgaard’s Spring—though not in the original Norwegian (slacker). Fortunately, he was willing to devote yet another apse in his cathedral mind to making his ideas about three mighty themes—neoliberalism, masculinity, and Christianity—intelligible to me.

Because Buttigieg, at 41, is an old millennial; because as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford he got a first in PPE (Philosophy, Politics, and Economics), the trademark degree for Labour-party elites of the Tony Blair era; because he worked optimizing grocery-store pricing at McKinsey; because he joined the Navy in hopes of promoting democracy in Afghanistan; because he got gay-married to his partner Chasten in 2018; and because, as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, he agitated to bring hipster entrepreneurism and “high-tech investment” to his rust-belt hometown, I had to ask him about neoliberalism, the happy idea that consumer markets and liberal democracy will always expand, and will always expand together. I was also fascinated by the way that Buttigieg, who has long described himself as obsessed with technology and data, has responded to the gendering of tech, and especially green tech, by fearsome culture warriors, including Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Take my word for it, Good People, the piece doesn’t get any less annoying from there, even though it mostly turns into a Q&A with the subject himself. It comes out that ol’ Pete was in his younger days a huge fan of Comrade Bernie — no really, he’s not just trying to win over Red hearts and minds — and now that he is in the seat of federal power he’s starting to rethink neoliberalism! Ms. Heffernan continues to lob up softball questions, the answers to which are supposed to frame the Secretary as an average unthreatening Middle American dude who goes to church, eats burgers, drinks beer, and drives a muscle car, while at the same time being keenly aware that progressive ideas are the only possible way forward into a glorious future of shared wealth, racial equality, sexual freedom, and environmental bliss. Unfortunately for the subject and the author, Mr. Buttigieg also comes across as a cloistered lefty living in an echo chamber where the New York Times editorial page represents the political center and where ideas from conservatives and from libertarians can safely and smugly be dismissed as cartoonish and mean-spirited.

Naturally, people on the right are having a field day taking down this pretentious claptrap. At NRO, Charlie Cooke delivers a wicked parody of Virginia Heffernan’s obnoxious profile:

In between the seductive sips of Courvoisier atop which he builds his heady pedagogical flights, Pete Buttigieg leans back into his pulchritudinous chair and takes me through the history of the Asian subcontinent.

I am sitting in the great man’s office, in the heart of Washington, D.C., stealing a few moments of his valuable time. I was early, and he was late. But that was to be expected. Some people require their own rules.

Buttigieg, who is white but makes up for it by being gay, is young for a Secretary of Transportation. And yet, with his authoritative air, his famed ability with Norwegian, and his remarkable professional record, he has the mien of a figure who has been in the role for decades. “In just two years,” he informs me, “I have responded to more train crashes, air-travel crises, and supply-chain problems than any of my predecessors did in eight. People often ask me why I think I’m doing a good job. I think that answers the question.”

David Harsanyi has some fun from the pages of The Federalist:

It is the year of our Lord 2023, and I’ve finally read the most obsequious feature story that has ever been written about a politician in a major publication.

Wired magazine was once home to thought-provoking writing on technology and entrepreneurship. Today, it pumps out slabs of conventional left-of-center technocratic wisdom. But Virginia Heffernan’s depiction of Pete Buttigieg’s glorious mind is so much more. It is a masterpiece.

[. . .]

[I]t’s when this hypersycophantic prose collides with Mayor Pete’s real-world, tedious, cliché-ridden tautologies that the piece really springs to life.

“Fortunately,” writes Heffernan, Harvard, PhD. “he was willing to devote yet another apse in his cathedral mind to making his ideas about three mighty themes—neoliberalism, masculinity, and Christianity—intelligible to me.”

And Stephen Miller, a contributing editor at The Spectator, marveled at the amazing prose which Ms. Heffernan brought to her piece:

I’m afraid that we are going to have much more of this between now and next November. In addition to this sort of nonsense, look for the usual suspects to start coughing up pieces with titles along the lines of “The Underappreciated Steady Leadership of Joe Biden,” “Kamala Harris Quietly Proves Her Mettle under Trying Circumstances,” and “Once a Punchline, Merrick Garland Is Restoring Law in Washington.” I think a Grumpy Gus like me ought to go into hibernation for the next eighteen months.

– JVW

Constitutional Vanguard: Is Daniel Penny Criminally Liable for the Death of Jordan Neely?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:23 pm



It’s been a while since I wrote one of these. It’s a piece that dispels some of the lazy Big Media narrative about the killing of Jordan Neely, and analyzes the Manhattan D.A.’s prosecution of Daniel Penny.

I’ll warn you: it’s long; over 9,000 words, with over 4,000 words for paid subscribers. If you make your way through the whole thing, I think you’ll encounter some points that you have not seen anywhere else. For example:

So when Washington Post reporter Timothy Bella writes:

Vazquez wrote on Facebook that men were in that position “for about 15 minutes while other passengers and the train operator called the police.”

Bella is misquoting a passage that actually says they were in that position for five minutes:

Jordan and the Marine continued in this posture for at least five minutes. Meanwhile other passengers (myself included) and the train operator called the police (as can be heard in the video).

This reminds me of when Bono opened the song “Vertigo” with the words “uno, dos, tres, CATORCE!” (one, two, three, FOURTEEN!).

Washington Post reporter Bella appears to count as follows: uno, dos, tres, cuatro, QUINCE! (one, two, three, four, FIFTEEN!).

Bono, when asked to explain the opening lines of “Vertigo,” said: “There might have been some alcohol involved.” What’s Bella’s excuse?

Read it here. Subscribe here.

5/17/2023

Russian Propaganda TV Loves the Durham Report

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:23 pm



Keep spewing that Russian propaganda, you stupid morons.

You are total suckers promoting evil. You disgust me.

Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Resigns Amid Ethics Questions

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:05 pm



[guest post by JVW]

Yesterday NRO had an article on the impending resignation of Biden-appointed United States Attorney for Massachusetts, Rachael Rollins, a controversial figure who ascended to her position only after Vice President Kamala Harris broke a tied confirmation vote in the Senate. It turns out that opponents who warned us of the extremist ideology, gross partisanship, and dubious ethics of Ms. Rollins had it exactly right:

Massachusetts U.S. attorney Rachael Rollins plans to resign following multiple federal probes being opened into her appearance at a DNC fundraiser alongside Jill Biden last year.

[. . .]

Last year, the DOJ’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG), an internal watchdog that probes fraud, abuse, and other violations of the DOJ’s policies, opened an investigation into Rollins — an unusual move given her high-ranking law-enforcement position. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel, another watchdog, is also investigating her.

[. . .]

Inspector General Michael Horowitz is also looking into Rollins’s use of her personal cellphone to conduct Department of Justice business, which raises security concerns. Furthermore, the Massachusetts U.S. attorney is being probed for a trip she took to California to speak at an entertainment-industry gathering. An outside group paid for Rollins’s trip despite the fact Department of Justice employees are not supposed to accept payments for travel. Rollins was instructed to pay back the group.

Today the Office of Special Counsel chimed in, and it only got worse for the Bay State attorney:

Rollins, who will resign this week after it became clear the two governmental offices investigating her would release their reports imminently, leaked non-public DOJ information to a reporter in an effort to influence a local DA race and then lied under oath about it — behavior the Office of the Special Counsel termed “one of the most egregious Hatch Act violations that OSC has investigated.”

[. . .]

Both reports [the OSC as well as the Inspector General] detailed Rollins’s effort to influence the 2022 Suffolk County District Attorney election in favor of her preferred candidate, Richard Arroyo. Rollins actively supported Arroyo and acted as a de facto campaign adviser. On multiple occasions during the campaign, Arroyo suggested Rollins’s office might announce an investigation of Kevin Hayden, the incumbent and Arroyo’s rival.

The OSC reports that Ms. Rollins made at least three attempts to spread the rumor that D.A. Hayden was about to be investigated by the Department of Justice. When Mr. Hayden defeated Mr. Arroyo despite meddling from the U.S. Attorney’s office, Ms. Rollins sent a profanity-laden email message to her defeated ally suggesting that Mr. Hayden would soon pay a price. She then contacted a Boston Herald reporter and sent in a copy of a contrived memorandum from her office recusing them from an investigation of Mr. Hayden, leaving the newspaper with the strong impression that an investigation by the DOJ was forthcoming. The Herald naturally published the leaked information. When interviewed by the OSC about her meddling, Ms. Rollins allegedly lied about her involvement. (I write “allegedly” because Ms. Rollins implausibly claims this defamation effort was undertaken by her staff without her knowledge.)

This story dovetails nicely with my post from yesterday, because Ms. Rollins is another government figure whose significance appears to have been her importance as a “first” rather than demonstrated experience or competency in the role. Her distinction as “the first black woman to hold this position” is mentioned in the lead paragraph on her official U.S. Attorney’s Office webpage, so that fact is obviously of tremendous value in Biden World. I’m not suggesting that Rachael Rollins was named to the position solely because she is a black woman — no doubt her hug a criminal and fire a cop outlook, so popular among the progressive legal elite these days, played a huge part in landing her the role too.

One of the clear priorities of the Biden Administration has been to placate various factions of the fractious and freaky Democrat caucus by implementing a policy of quotas and set-asides for a number of jobs in government, and then trying to pass it off as casting a wide net in the name of diversity. But when this monomaniacal fixation yields major incompetents in key position such as the Vice-Presidency itself, it’s obviously counterproductive. Previous Democrat Presidents like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama certainly valued having various races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations represented among their appointments, and even Republicans such as George W. Bush and Donald Trump aspired to bring in supporters from all walks of life. But these crazy times combined with the utter empty-mindedness of President Biden and the gross cynicism of whomever is pulling his strings has turned “diversity” into a fetish, and it has given us an unambiguous Quota Cabinet heavily staffed with mediocrities and incompetents. Yet they wonder why people’s faith in government continues to drop.

– JVW

5/16/2023

Focusing on What Is Truly Important [UPDATED]

Filed under: General — JVW @ 9:21 pm



[guest post by JVW]

Philadelphia goes to the polls today (or, given the way things are, I guess has been going to the polls for the last several weeks) to choose its new mayor. Our nation’s sixth largest city by population is fairly important, especially given Philadelphia’s sentimental reputation as the Cradle of Liberty. Certainly Philadelphia faces challenges particular to older American metropolises these days: increases in crime and murder over the past decade, dismal test scores among the city’s schoolchildren, a declining population base (Philadelphia was recently surpassed by Phoenix who moved into the fifth spot among America’s largest cities), and a long and ignoble history of corruption.

So given all that, what’s on the minds of our media elite as exemplified by CNN as they mull over who might next sit at the big desk in City Hall? Naturally, it’s the current progressive obsession with race, sex, and ethnicity:

The biggest city in the battleground state of Pennsylvania is poised to effectively choose its next leader on Tuesday, as Philadelphia Democrats vote for the nominee to be the city’s 100th mayor – and a key figure in President Joe Biden’s reelection bid next year.

The long and historically expensive campaign, which at one point featured a dozen candidates, appears to be coming down to four or five contenders: former City Council members Cherelle Parker, Helen Gym and Allan Domb; former city controller Rebecca Rhynhart; and Jeff Brown, a city grocery store magnate.

Parker, Gym and Rhynhart are widely regarded as the favorites entering primary day, and each, should she win, would become the first woman elected mayor in the city’s long history. Like Michelle Wu in Boston, Gym would also be the city’s first Asian American leader. Parker, like Karen Bass in Los Angeles, is a Black woman and would also break two barriers at once.

Sure, the article goes on to give a bit of background on what each candidate believes is the best prescription for moving the city forward, but the fact that “firsts” are so prominently recited in the third paragraph, immediately after the main candidates are introduced, provides a telling look at what really is important to Democrats in 2023. Heck, the article itself is titled “Philadelphia Democrats poised to make history in expensive mayoral race.” And should you think that perhaps CNN has had several other articles on the Philadelphia mayoral race which focused more on the issues, the answer is nope.

Somewhere in the City of Brotherly Love there has to be a little-known black lesbian politician who is just kicking herself that she didn’t make a run for it this year, given that she would check one more intersectionality box than any of her competitors and represent an impressive three, instead of two, potential “firsts.” But them’s the breaks. My prediction is that whoever ends up as mayor will at best be a mediocre time-server and that by the time he or she leaves office eight years from now, San Antonio will be nation’s sixth-largest city.

UPDATE: Cherelle Parker has apparently won the race and will be the Democrat nominee (and presumptive favorite) in the November race against Republican David Oh. Be ready to hear how “historic” it will be to have the first black woman mayor of Philadelphia.

But what is interesting about Ms. Parker is the platform she ran on. She unapologetically called for Philly to fill all of its open positions in the police department, and she also suggested that the city address its gun violence problem by bringing back stop-and-frisk policies. She was the favorite of the city’s unions, so we can expect that she will pay them back for their support by taking a very soft stance on corruption and mismanagement among city workers. Probably the best thing about last night is that the Democrat Socialist backed by Comrade Bernard and the Adorably Ornery Clueless niece lost, and seems to have vastly underperformed the expectations for her going into the vote. Let’s see how progressives read those tea leaves.

– JVW

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