Patterico's Pontifications

11/23/2022

Bad News Round-up, Thanksgiving Edition

Filed under: General — JVW @ 10:38 am



[guest post by JVW]

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday every year, so why not ruin it by dumping a lot of recent bad news the day before? Here we go:

Item One:
Keeping with what has become a hallowed holiday tradition, the Democrats are fixin’ to have their voters argue politics at the Thanksgiving dinner table. And since they don’t expect them to be conversant on current events, they have once again provided a handy cheat-sheet of talking points.

Proving that those who are obsessed with politics inevitably ruin holiday harmony, and then blame mean old right-wing Uncle Fred for being so bull-headed.

(But you have to laugh at bewildered political hack Ron Klain trying to adopt youthful slang but then butchering it with weirdly misplaced quotation marks: “at you.”)

Item Two:
Oregon just elected its seventh consecutive Democrat as governor, extending a streak which dates back 36 years. The state has become a lefty haven, as the highly populated and woke coastal areas dominate the more remote and conservative interior (sound familiar, Californians?). And Portland has of course become synonymous with trendy, brainless, self-defeating radical leftism. So much so, that on Monday the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office released a list of 300 people whose criminal cases had been dismissed by judges because the county can’t find public defenders to handle their cases. Most of these cases were run-of-the-mill car thefts, fleeing from law enforcement, and illegally possessing weapons, as you might expect, but some dropped charges include assault, drunken driving, hit-and-run driving, identity theft, and other more serious crimes. Way to create that progressive paradise, Oregonians.

Item Three:
To no one’s surprise, California’s harsh lockdown and school closures have led to a clear decline in learning for California schoolchildren.

Before COVID-19 hit and authorities closed schools to limit spread of the deadly disease, California’s students were largely failing to meet the state’s own standards of skills necessary for productive adult lives, as well as faring poorly in nationwide testing. That was particularly true for the 60% of those children classified as poor or “English learner.”

On Monday [October 24], both federal and state governments released results from the latest tests, indicating that the pandemic’s makeshift efforts to teach homebound students reduced learning even more and widened the already yawning “achievement gap.”

Now we know why the teachers’ unions were pushing so hard to have testing postponed in the aftermath of COVID lockdowns. How bad is the state’s performance? Compare it to two conservative-leaning states which progressives like to mock and which sent kids back to school far earlier than did the Golden State:

[Gelatinous-maned Governor Gavin] Newsom cherry-picked the data to claim that “California’s students experienced less learning loss than those in most other states during the pandemic” but conceded that the “results are not a celebration but a call to action — students are struggling academically and we need to keep getting them the resources they need to thrive.”

Newsom neglected to mention that students in the two red states he often singles out for scorn, Florida and Texas, scored much higher in the NAEP tests. Florida was 6th highest overall and Texas was well above national averages.

State-by-state data also indicated — not for the first time — that there is no direct correlation between academic achievement and school spending.

How did other large and diverse blue states who also kept students out of school for longer than average fare? Turns out, not so well:

New York, the nation’s highest-spending state on education, came out lower than California, while several states on the low end of the spending list are leaders in achievement. Wyoming, No. 2 to New York in spending, is No. 1 in academics while neighboring Utah, the lowest spending state, is No. 5 in achievement.

Ominously for our nation, the states which were considered to have the best-performing public school systems pre-pandemic showed the highest slippage rate in test scores post-pandemic. This is not going to bode well for our future.

Item Four:
It would seem we are on the verge of sending climate reparation payments to — uh, really? you sure? well, ok then — China. From NRO:

At the COP27 climate summit in Egypt earlier this month, American diplomats appointed by President Biden agreed to pay poor countries for supposed damage caused by America’s emitting carbon dioxide.

This represents a major reversal in U.S. climate policy. Similar agreements had previously been blocked by both the Obama and Trump administrations, and for good reason: The “loss and damage” fund is both incredibly expensive and could be used to create a legal liability for greenhouse-gas emissions.

[. . .]

But, China won’t be paying.

That’s because “the United Nations currently classifies China as a developing country. . . . Even [sic] though it is now the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses as well as the second-largest economy,” according to the New York Times. “China has fiercely resisted being treated as a developed nation in global climate talks,” and it makes sense why.

[. . .]

Biden’s diplomats originally demanded that China (which emits three times more carbon dioxide today than it did in 1990, generated more than half of their energy in 2020 using dirty coal power, and has more new coal plants set for approval through the year 2025 than the U.S. has in total) and other large polluters currently classified as developing countries pay their own way, but ultimately gave in when some European countries issued a “final offer” that included reparations to prevent poor countries from walking away from an agreement.

Special Climate Envoy John Kerry, who earlier had rejected the idea that the U.S. would send reparations that will inevitably make their way to China, has allegedly flip-flopped and is now aboard the scheme. Yes, it’s kind of hard imagining a Republican House agreeing to fund this, and Joe Manchin and at least one other Democrat Senator might not be great with these optics either, but given the Biden Administration’s predilection for unlawful Executive Orders don’t be surprised if your tax dollars wind up in Beijing even earlier than they normally do.

Item Five:
President Biden continues with his illegal practice of extending student loan repayment freezes, claiming that it would be unfair to resume mandated payments until the issue works its way through the court system. Let us recall that the President claims authorization for his actions under the emergency powers granted to the Executive in times of crisis, even though he himself has publicly declared the COVID crisis to be over. Why would he take such a step? Writing at The Spectator, Oliver Wiseman has a solid theory:

After the midterms, Biden appears to know which side his bread is buttered on, heaping economic benefits on loyally Democratic sections of the electorate to keep them enthused and engaged. Young voters broke Democrat in overwhelming numbers earlier this month, and young voters with a college degree even more so. After the Democrats’ surprisingly strong showing, White House chief of staff Ron Klain said that Biden “kept his promises to younger Americans (with action on climate change, student loans, marijuana reform, etc), and they responded with energy and enthusiasm.”

A Tufts study bears this out. It found that not only did young Democrats turnout in historic numbers this cycle, but they also had an outsized influence on key races. In Pennsylvania, John Fetterman did especially well with younger voters, who broke 70 percent to 28 percent in his direction. In Arizona, the gap was even bigger, at 76 percent to 20 percent. The study attributes Catherine Cortez Masto’s tight victory in Nevada to younger voters.

Betting on youth-vote turnout has generally been a losing game in American politics. But it worked for Biden this month. And so don’t expect the White House to feel any kind of embarrassment about the absurd act of extending emergency Covid measures if it helps lock up a crucial cohort of younger voters for the party led by an octogenarian.

—-

That’s it! Now that I have ruined everyone’s weekend let me wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving dinner, which of course costs a lot more this year than it did even last year.

– JVW

11/22/2022

Supreme Court Denies Trump’s Request To Shield Tax Records

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:57 pm



[guest post by Dana]

After a three year court battle, this:

The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected former President Donald Trump’s last-ditch plea to block the release of his tax records to House Democrats, paving the way for their possible disclosure to the lawmakers.

The decision by the court in a brief order noting no dissenting votes means the committee can try to access the documents before Republicans take over the House in January. The committee, however, has not said how quickly it expects to get the documents. Upon taking control, Republicans are expected to withdraw the request.

Reminder:

“While it is possible that Congress may attempt to threaten the sitting President with an invasive request after leaving office, every President takes office knowing that he will be subject to the same laws as all other citizens upon leaving office,” a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in August.

“This is a feature of our democratic republic, not a bug,” Judge David Sentelle, an appointee of President Ronald Reagan, wrote in the panel’s opinion.

P.S.: “The Committee points to instances when Trump has boasted about “a history of aggressive tax avoidance” and has called IRS audits of his business activities “unfair.” Quite possibly, it will all come back to bite him. Bigly.

–Dana

11/21/2022

DeSantis Beats Disney in a Unanimous Decision

Filed under: General — JVW @ 6:16 am



[guest post by JVW]

Here’s what I wrote back in March:

Disney, which was slow to extricate itself from business operations in Russia even after the invasion of Ukraine and still to this very day happily does business in China, even to the degree of self-censoring so as not to offend the Chinese Communist Party, is very — very, I tells ya! — concerned about Florida’s new Parental Rights in Education bill, uncritically adopting the left-wing narrative that it is reflexively anti-gay though in reality it merely places strict limits on classroom discussions of sexual orientation or gender identity for children younger than fourth grade. Disney CEO Bob Chapek called Sunshine State Governor Ron DeSantis on Wednesday to express his concern and later claimed that the governor had agreed to a follow-up conversation, though DeSantis has assured supporters that he won’t alter his beliefs based upon “the musings of woke corporations.”

I hope that Gov. DeSantis and Mr. Chapek do meet. As Mr. Chapek airs his concerns and those of his apparently hyper-woke workforce, perhaps the governor might remind the CEO of Disney’s entanglements with repressive dictatorships, and — speaking of repressive dictatorships — ask if company shareholders would prefer Disney to move more of its operations to California, a state which capriciously shut-down Disney’s theme parks for over a year during the height of the pandemic while Disney’s Florida theme park were mostly back up and running nine months earlier. It’s understandable that Disney would be sympathetic to the LBGTQ agenda — other than girls aged 3-12 there’s probably no more loyal market demographic for their product than gay men — but Mr. Chapek needs to understand that there are going to be definite limits to the efficacy of his company’s obnoxious virtue signaling.

I guess that the meeting wasn’t even necessary. Less than two weeks after Gov. DeSantis’s smashing reelection victory, Disney appears to have thrown in the towel:

After less that two years in retirement, Bob Iger has returned as the CEO of the Walt Disney Company

The board just sent out a notice that Bob I. is back and recently re-upped Bob Chapek is out.

[. . .]

The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) announced today that Robert A. Iger is returning to lead Disney as Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. Mr. Iger, who spent more than four decades at the Company, including 15 years as its CEO, has agreed to serve as Disney’s CEO for two years, with a mandate from the Board to set the strategic direction for renewed growth and to work closely with the Board in developing a successor to lead the Company at the completion of his term. Mr. Iger succeeds Bob Chapek, who has stepped down from his position.

“We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,” said Susan Arnold, Chairman of the Board. “The Board has concluded that as Disney embarks on an increasingly complex period of industry transformation, Bob Iger is uniquely situated to lead the Company through this pivotal period.”

The GOP grossly underwhelmed in the midterm elections, but woke politics also didn’t do particularly well at the ballot box. Maybe mega corporations like Disney should pause to meditate on this, and perhaps determine that remaining neutral in the culture wars is a whole lot safer than embracing the Hollywood/Cambridge/Washington DC zeitgeist in order to score cheap victories with the kids.

– JVW

11/18/2022

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:04 am



[guest post by Dana]

Let’s go!

First news item

Former Vice-President Mike Pence says ‘thanks but no thanks”:

Pence was speaking to CBS, to promote a new book in which he sets out his version of events on the day supporters of his president, Donald Trump, attacked Congress, some chanting that Pence should be hanged.

Pence previously said he would consider testifying. But to CBS, he said: “Congress has no right to my testimony on separation of powers under the constitution of the United States.

“And I believe it will establish a terrible precedent for the Congress to summon a vice-president of the United States to speak about deliberations that took place at the White House.”

Pence, who is weighing out a run for the presidency in 2024 and can’t afford to lose the support of, well, anyone, added:

But I must say again, the partisan nature of the January 6 committee has been a disappointment to me. It seemed to me in the beginning, there was an opportunity to examine every aspect of what happened on January 6, and to do so more in the spirit of the 9/11 Commission, non-partisan, non-political, and that was an opportunity lost.

January 6 Committee chair Rep. Benny Thompson and vice-chair Liz Cheney responded to Pence:

“The select committee has proceeded respectfully and responsibly in our engagement with Vice-President Pence, so it is disappointing that he is misrepresenting the nature of our investigation while giving interviews to promote his new book.

“Our investigation has publicly presented the testimony of more than 50 Republican witnesses, including senior members of the Trump White House, the Trump campaign, and the Trump justice department.

“This testimony, subject to criminal penalties for lying to Congress, was not ‘partisan’. It was truthful.”

Second news item

Moms for Liberty, the group in which members had a shameful view of Ruby Bridges Goes To School, pushed conservative candidates in school boards elections across the country:

Moms for Liberty said it has endorsed more than 500 school board candidates across the country this year, 49% of whom have won. The organization’s candidates were highly successful in Florida, but they had mixed results in Arkansas, California, Michigan and other states.

Moms for Liberty celebrated the six candidates’ wins in Berkeley County as an example of flipping a school board in favor of people who “value parental rights.”

School boards are powerful entities. Thankfully, board members are elected by the public, so it remains an avenue in which parents – for better or worse – can make their voices heard if they’re willing to do the hard work of running for a seat.

Third news item

Trump faces criticism over Covid response:

March, 29, 2020, is a day that should live in infamy. The national mitigation plan against Covid-19, “15 days to stop the spread,” was about to expire. In the Rose Garden, President Trump declared that lockdowns would continue for another 30 days. I tweeted: “President Trump just lost the election.”

When Mr. Trump announced his 2024 campaign Tuesday, he didn’t apologize for the lockdowns or even mention them. I supported him in 2016, and during his tenure he did much to dredge the political swamps, but his decision to approve and extend drastic Covid interventions should disqualify him for a second term.

Fourth news item

Not good news about American Brittney Griner, who has been detained in Russia:

Brittney Griner has begun serving her nine-year sentence for drug possession at a Russian penal colony, her lawyers and agent said Thursday.

Griner was transferred to a penal colony in Mordovia, about 350 kilometers (210 miles) east of Moscow, after a Russian court last month rejected her appeal of her sentence.

According to the report, President Biden is hopeful that President Putin will want to resume talks about a prisoner exchange concerning both Griner and Paul Whelan.

This morning, Axios is reporting that “The Kremlin aims to secure the release of convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in any prisoner swap with the U.S., a senior Russian official told the news agency Interfax on Friday.”

Also, it as been reported that Navalny has been permanently moved to solitary confinement:

Aleksei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader jailed after surviving an assassination attempt, said on Thursday that he has been transferred permanently to a solitary confinement cell that would limit his contact with other prisoners and the outside world.

“They’re doing it to keep me quiet,” Mr. Navalny said in posts on his verified Twitter account, adding that staying in the small, cramped cell was typically limited to 15 days as a punishment. The rules also bar “long visits” from relatives, he said.

The order came just four days before his family was expected to come see him, according to a post on Twitter from Team Navalny, the core organizers behind his opposition movement, who have all fled Russia.

At least nine years have already been added to his initial two-year sentence, and few expect him to emerge from prison while Mr. Putin is still president.

Fifth news item

Yet again President Biden capitulates and plays politics with human rights abuser:

1.

Biden as a Democratic presidential candidate vowed to make a “pariah” out of Saudi rulers over the 2018 killing of Khashoggi.

“I think it was a flat-out murder,” Biden said in a 2019 CNN town hall, as a candidate. “And I think we should have nailed it as that. I publicly said at the time we should treat it that way and there should be consequences relating to how we deal with those — that power.”

2.

The Biden administration says Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s high office should shield him from a lawsuit over his role in the killing of a U.S.-based journalist, making a turnaround from Joe Biden’s passionate campaign trail denunciations of the prince over the brutal slaying.

The administration spoke out in support of a claim of legal immunity from Prince Mohammed — Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, who also recently took the title of prime minister — against a suit brought by the fiancée of slain Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi and by the rights group Khashoggi founded, Democracy for the Arab World Now.

Note:

A federal judge in Washington had given the U.S. government until midnight Thursday to express an opinion on the claim by the crown prince’s lawyers that Prince Mohammed’s high official standing renders him legally immune in the case.

The Biden administration also had the option of not stating an opinion either way.

Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancé responds to the news: “Biden himself betrayed his word, betrayed Jamal. History will not forget this wrong decision.”

Sixth news item

A very significant event:

Protesters in Iran have set on fire the ancestral home of the Islamic republic’s founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini two months into the anti-regime protest movement,

The house in the city of Khomein in the western Markazi province was shown ablaze late Thursday with crowds of jubilant protesters marching past, according to images posted on social media, verified by AFP.

Khomeini died in 1989…The house was later turned into a museum commemorating Khomeini. It was not immediately clear what damaged it sustained.

Images of Khomeini have on occasion been torched or defaced by protesters, in taboo-breaking acts against a figure whose death is still marked each June with a holiday for mourning.

Masih Alinejad lays out key points:

The leaders of democratic countries should recognize this as a revolution, as it is. This is just the beginning of the end. When teenagers are getting killed… but the day after, they take back to the streets… this is called a revolution”

In contrast w. Russia, would add not even one Islamic Republic diplomat has been asked to leave European soil despite its arming of Putin; hostages; human rights abuses; & terror plots. That must change.

Seventh news item

Cut from the same cloth, I would expect nothing less from these two:

1.

Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert (CO) declared herself the winner of her congressional race Thursday evening, despite the race heading to an automatic recount. While media outlets, including The Associated Press, have deemed the race far too close to be called, the MAGA-loving firebrand conveyed to her over 1.7 million Twitter followers that she’s the victor, while only being ahead of Democrat opponent Adam Frisch by around 550 votes. “We won! I am so thankful for all of your support, and I am so proud to be your Representative!” Boebert tweeted. “Come January, you can be certain of two things,” she added in an a video with the Capitol building serving as a backdrop. “I will be sworn in for my second term as your congresswoman, and Republicans can finally turn Pelosi’s house back into the People’s House.”

2.

Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake (R) declined to concede governor race to Democrat Katie Hobbs Thursday, raising concerns about the election process.

The Associated Press and other outlets projected that Hobbs won the race on Monday. But Lake indicated she is assembling a legal team that is “collecting evidence and data” pertaining to the electoral process.

“Rest assured, I have assembled the best and brightest legal team and we are exploring every avenue to correct the many wrongs that have been done this past week,” Lake said in a video address posted Thursday morning. “I’m doing everything in my power to right these wrongs.”

P.S. Jim Geraghty shows his work: Even if all of the remaining votes were for Kari Lake, Hobbs would still win the election by about 6,000 votes.

P.P.S. Yesterday, Lake’s team confirmed that she was at Mar-a-Lago. Possibly auditioning to be someone’s running mate??

Eighth news item

Only Congress can solve coming border surge:

The progressive collapse of this country’s asylum system over many years, and not the Biden administration’s admittedly murky messaging on migration, is the main cause of today’s accelerating disarray at the border….

Granted, the president and his border policies have contributed to the problem. On taking office, President Biden set about dismantling the Trump administration’s restrictions, including trying to scrap Title 42 expulsions earlier this year. Simultaneously, officials pleaded in vain for migrants not to attempt to enter the country — without any effective strategy to deter them.

In response to Judge Sullivan’s ruling, the Biden administration asked for a five-week grace period to prepare for the anticipated surge of migrants. It has prepared to rush resources to the border, including thousands of beds to hold detainees in tent facilities, and is planning for quicker deportations as a deterrent. Ultimately, though, the fix, and the failure, lie with Congress.

Ninth news item:

–Dana

11/17/2022

What is The Agenda Of House Republicans?

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:10 am



[guest post by Dana]

Now that the Republicans have (barely) won the House, what’s on their agenda? To a great degree, it will depend on whether the group of far-right MAGA members and more traditional Republicans can coalesce around a cause:

The main question going forward is whether Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, who was nominated Tuesday to lead the new Republican majority, can achieve the unity necessary to perform fundamental tasks such as funding the government, or whether unyielding far-right members will make the new speaker’s life miserable and the House an unmanageable mess.

In a reflection of the GOP at large, the House remains somewhat divided between the more traditional Republicans and the MAGA Republican members, whose loyal base expects them to fulfill their promises to launch any number of investigations into the Biden administration. In the run-up to the midterms, we repeatedly heard about these possible investigations. Even before the election and even though they were in the minority, House Republicans had introduced “14 impeachment resolutions, more than three times the number Democrats did in the first two years of Donald Trump’s presidency.” And while Kevin McCarthy claims he doesn’t want to use “impeachment as a political weapon,” he is open to the process “if anyone ever rises to that occasion.” Here is a list of the longheld grievances that Republicans have said they want to pursue:

1.

Rep. James Comer, R-Ky…said the Oversight Committee likely would subpoena Hunter Biden and demand the Treasury Department turn over any suspicious bank records linked to the president’s son. Comer unsuccessfully sought the documents previously but believes the Treasury Department won’t be able to reject his request now that Republicans are in the majority.

Comer told CBS News last week he believes Hunter Biden’s overseas business affairs may have “compromised this White House” and “therefore, it’s a national security concern.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who is poised to become the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, has suggested the panel will investigate alleged political interference by the FBI and Justice Department in the Hunter Biden probe.

2.

In an August op-ed for FoxNews.com, McCarthy, Rep. Michael McCaul and other Republicans said the United States’ chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan one year earlier warrants greater scrutiny in a GOP-led House.

The op-ed coincided with an report issued by House Republicans on the Foreign Affairs Committee, which McCaul is likely to chair starting next year. The report accused the Biden administration of making decisions based on politics and lacking a solid exit strategy.

In August 2021, 13 service members were killed by a suicide bomber outside the Kabul airport, as they worked to evacuate Americans and Afghans from the country, which the Taliban had reclaimed.

“These strategic failures are too grave to ignore,” the Republicans wrote in the op-ed. “That is why House Republicans are committed to pursuing answers to Biden’s disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal.

3.

McCarthy told Fox News last month that if Republicans took control of the House they would set up a committee to investigate how COVID-19 spread from China.

House Republicans will likely grill Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top medical adviser to both Biden and Trump during the pandemic, and they could also dig into federal guidance on masking, vaccine mandates and school closures.

Senate Republicans last month released a report that said “it appears reasonable to conclude” that COVID-19 escaped from a lab.

4.

Within hours of FBI agents searching Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in search of government documents in August, McCarthy released a statement directed at Garland threatening to investigate the Justice Department.

“The Department of Justice has reached an intolerable state of weaponized politicization,” McCarthy said then.

“Attorney General Garland, preserve your documents and clear you calendar,” the Republican House leader added.

5.

Republicans’ have spent the past two years railing about the soaring number of encounters between law enforcement and migrants at the southern border.

In addition to blaming Biden for what they see as lax border policies, they also have repeatedly ripped Mayorkas, the Homeland Security secretary, whom they argue has been derelict in his duties…

The Republicans’ inquiry into border issues is likely to include deaths of migrants at the border; the smuggling of illegal drugs, including fentanyl, into the U.S.; and the discontinuation of the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy for asylum seekers.”

Interestingly, the far-right faction of the House has already been successful in securing a promise for an investigation into one of their pet causes:

In a closed-door meeting of Republicans on Monday, right-wing lawmakers including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia extracted a promise that their leaders would investigate Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Justice Department for their treatment of defendants jailed in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

The promise to investigate Pelosi and the DOJ coupled with this excerpt of a letter from Rep. Steve Scalise (No. 2 House Republican) to his colleagues, lends credence to the observation that “the House agenda is investigative, not legislative”:

We must be relentless in our oversight of this administration. From the politicization of the Justice Department to the job-crushing regulations coming from every agency, we need to shine a bright light on the actions and policy failures of this administration.

It looks like McCarthy is in for a tough time if he hopes to focus on anything other than inflicting pain on the current administration.

–Dana

Nancy Pelosi Stepping Down From House Democratic Leadership

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:05 am



[guest post by Dana]

The first female speaker of the House made the announcement from the House floor this morning:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced she will not seek re-election as leader of the House Democratic Conference after nearly 20 years at the helm, after her party narrowly lost the majority in the chamber in the midterm elections.

“With great confidence in our caucus, I will not seek re-election to Democratic leadership in the next Congress,” said Pelosi. “For me the hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus that I so deeply respect, and I’m grateful that so many are ready and willing to shoulder this awesome responsibility.”

“There is no greater special honor for me than to stand on this floor and to speak for the people of San Francisco. This I will continue to do as a member of the House speaking for the people of San Francisco, serving the great state of California and defending our Constitution,” she continued.

While Pelosi did not announce who would replace her, a possible successor might be Hakeem Jeffries, Steny Hoyer, or Adam Schiff. However, given that Pelosi appears to want a “new generation to lead,” that would certainly rule out Hoyer (age 83) and perhaps Schiff (age 62). Jeffries is 52 years old.

Nancy Pelosi, age 82, plans to stay in Congress.

–Dana

11/15/2022

Mitch McConnell To Face Challenger

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:59 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Sen. Rick Scott confirmed today at a GOP luncheon that he will indeed be running to unseat Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

In a letter sent to senators:

“Like each of you, I am deeply disappointed by the results of the recent election. Despite what the armchair quarterbacks on TV will tell you, there is no one person responsible for our party’s performance across the country. I know there is no shortage of people who are eager to point fingers and assign blame here in Washington, but I won’t be one of them.”

Oh. Okay.

–Dana

Report: Russian Missiles Hit NATO Member Poland, Killing 2

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:11 pm



[guest post by Dana]

From the Associated Press:

A Russian missile barrage on the Ukrainian power grid sent the war spilling over into neighboring countries Tuesday, hitting NATO member Poland and cutting electricity to much of Moldova.

It was Russia’s biggest barrage yet, and some of the missiles crossed into Poland, where two people were killed, according to a U.S. official. It marked the first time in the war that Russian weapons have come down on a NATO country.

Polish government spokesman Piotr Mueller did not immediately confirm the information from a senior U.S. intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the situation. But Mueller said top leaders were holding an emergency meeting due to a “crisis situation.”

Polish media reported that two people died Tuesday afternoon after a projectile struck an area where grain was drying in Przewodów, a Polish village near the border with Ukraine.

The White House said it “could not confirm” the report. A State Dept. representative said at a presser minutes ago that they echo the White House and cannot verify the report or any of the details at this time. However, they are working with Poland as the Polish government investigates the matter. They will consider appropriate next steps after they assess and get more information. The representative also said that they do not want to engage in hypotheticals at this point. He reiterated that the United States continues to stand with Ukraine and with NATO.

Exercise caution but make no mistake about Russia’s true nature:

Good to wait for more information. But if it’s as it appears, please don’t call this an “accident”. Murdering Poles may be a mistake, or perhaps a test. Russia has been raining down missiles all over Ukraine, a clear security threat to Poland and NATO.

Russia will say it’s fake, a provocation, a Ukrainian trick, an accident, etc. A dozen denials and a hundred lies. Then Putin will watch and see the response, as he did after shooting down MH17. Do his targets announce retribution or an investigation?

Well, that didn’t take long:

I’ll try to update the thread as more information becomes available.

–Dana

Today’s The Day…Maybe? (UPDATE ADDED)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:21 am



[guest post by Dana]

Well, today is Nov. 15, the day that Donald Trump said that he would be making a very big announcement:

Of course, his pre-announcement was made before the red-wave-that-wasn’t, so perhaps he will be readjusting his goals… Anyway, today is the day, and I’ve been wondering what sort of advantage he thinks an early announcement would bring him. The midterms were a big disappointment to Republicans, the holiday season is upon us, and America is in need of a long winter’s nap, devoid of politics – and certainly devoid of the crazy circus that is Trump. I think that this is a fair, if partial analysis of what could be prompting Trump’s early announcement:

…I get the sense that Trump is declaring out of impatience, boredom with non-presidential life, and a furious envy of the recent praise of Ron DeSantis’s big win. And maybe Trump thinks that if he announces, all the prosecutors investigating him and pursuing a case against him have to put everything on hold, lest their prosecutions appear too political. There’s absolutely no reason that Trump has to announce early. He doesn’t need to build up his name recognition. He doesn’t need a lot of preparation time, or to build up his fundraising network. He is the ultimate known quantity, and everybody in America already knows how they feel about him. A presidential campaign would almost be superfluous. Trump could announce about a month or two before the first caucus or primary and it would likely turn out the same.

You know that he is still seething about DeSantis’s stinging victory. So, if he announces early, it will be in large part a pre-emptive effort to capture the MAGA world and loyal Republicans before DeSantis announces his candidacy. It’s childlike that he seems to believe that once voters line up behind him they won’t be swayed by a DeSantis announcement. As if he believes that they won’t turn toward a more sane, Trump-light candidate who has demonstrated that he has the chops to be a successful leader.

So why else might he choose to essentially run against himself? Well, the sooner he announces, the sooner the grift can begin. Let those campaign donations flow. When Trump makes a decision, any decision, the question of how much money can potentially be made from the said decision is automatically factored in. And a presidential election would provide him with the ultimate fundraising opportunity. Note how, after the legal search of Mar-a-Lago, his fundraising numbers exploded. How much more after announcing a run for the presidency?

Clearly, the former president is not listening to his advisors, who cautioned him about making any early announcements. Nor does Trump seem concerned about post-midterm polling, which shows him trailing Desantis by double digits in one-on-one matchups in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states on the GOP nominating calendar.

It seems he also hasn’t spent time considering how he may have adversely impacted the midterms:

Trump loomed large in the minds of voters and dragged down his party’s candidates — nationally and in key swing states with Senate races — despite being out of power. In many cases that blunted the impact of Biden’s unpopularity, and widespread economic pain, helping Democrats defy political gravity and hold their own.

Nationally, 32% of voters in 2022 said their vote was “to oppose Joe Biden.” But 28% said their vote was “to oppose Donald Trump,” even though Trump was out of office. That suggests Trump’s continued dominance over the GOP made the 2022 election, in the minds of voters, almost as much about a defeated former president as it was about the current president and party in power.

“It was a Trump problem,” a Republican operative involved in the 2022 election told NBC News, speaking candidly about the de facto leader of the GOP on condition of anonymity to avoid retribution. “Independents didn’t vote for candidates they viewed as extreme and too closely linked with Donald J. Trump.”

Independent voters made up 31% of the electorate and they favored Democrats over Republicans by a margin of 49% to 47%, a stark break from the past four midterms in which they voted by double digits for the party out of power, according to exit polls.

Anyway, we’ll have to wait and see if Trump actually makes an announcement tonight. But as it stands, the question remains for the Republican Party: How do you solve a problem like Donald Trump? It’s taken a very long time for the Party to even slightly begin to acknowledge that he is indeed a problem and that they must move on from him. You’d think that after the midterm losses, it would become more difficult for any Republican lawmaker to remain silent about the problem of Trump. But then, we’ve already seen how those few Republican lawmakers with conservative bona fides were treated when they did point out the problem with Trump. And it wasn’t pretty.

UPDATE: It’s official:

Donald Trump, the twice-impeached former president who refused to concede defeat and inspired a failed attempt to overturn the 2020 election culminating in a deadly attack on the Capitol, officially declared on Tuesday night that he is running to retake the White House in 2024.

Heh. Brilliant paragraph.

–Dana

11/10/2022

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:18 am



[guest post by Dana]

[Ed. I have just been informed by a smirking direct report that today is Thursday, not Friday! Thus, I am a day early with the Weekend Open Thread. A long vacation coupled with a time change has clearly left me confused….]

A lot of newsy things happened this week besides the midterm election, so I’ll throw some of those interesting items in the open thread too.

Let’s go!

First news item

In Iran, a good sign as female morality police members waking up:

But there are plenty of other videos online that show protesters taking on the regime’s female spies and supporters joining the protesters. In one famous incident, a popular Iranian actress who previously backed the wearing of hijabs took it off. Actress Fatemeh Motamed-Arya was one of the 50 hijab-wearing women on a billboard put up by regime-friendly media on a public square. It was titled “Women of my land” and was intended to show support among women for mandatory hijab. But Motamed-Arya refused to be part of the billboard. “I am Mahsa’s mother. I am Sarina [Esmaeilzadeh]’s mother. I am the mother of all the children who were killed in this land,’’ she said in reference to girls killed in recent protests. “I am the mother of all the land of Iran, not a woman in the land of murderers.” In another video, a veiled woman who abused a woman over her hijab was forced out of the bus by other passengers. In yet another video, a girl chases away a veiled woman filming unveiled female protesters. (The regime’s local female spies usually hand over such clips to morality police to help them identify dissidents.)

Shams told Foreign Policy that according to her conversations with eye witnesses, there is growing discontent among female members of the morality police. A girl who was arrested and is known to Shams told her that a female morality police officer helped her escape. Shams added that the same girl said a lot of women who have joined the Basij are on the verge of “leaving their positions” but find it hard to do so because they can’t financially support themselves. “The current regime promises a monthly income and security to the members of Basij and, by doing so, recruit many young women who end up serving as mouthpieces and oppressive forces of the regime in the society,” said Shams.

Second news item

KFC makes a gigantic blunder, apologies follow, blamed it on an error in the system:

KFC has apologized after sending a promotional message to customers in Germany, urging them to commemorate Kristallnacht with cheesy chicken…The fast food chain sent an app alert on Wednesday, saying: “It’s memorial day for Kristallnacht! Treat yourself with more tender cheese on your crispy chicken. Now at KFCheese!”

Around an hour later another message was sent with an apology, according to the Bild newspaper.

Germany takes the 9 November anniversary of Kristallnacht (the night of broken glass) seriously, with numerous memorial events and discussions scheduled to reflect the Nazis’ murder of more than six million Jewish people.

Third news item

Why was Putin invited in the first place:

Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the Group of 20 summit in Indonesia next week, an Indonesian government official said Thursday, avoiding a possible confrontation with the United States and its allies over his war in Ukraine.

Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, the chief of support for G-20 events, said Putin’s decision not to come was “the best for all of us.”

Fourth news item

Further humiliation as Russia retreats from illegally annexed Kherson:

Russia has ordered a retreat from the key southern city of Kherson, the only regional capital it has captured since February’s invasion, in a dramatic strategic setback for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In the face of Ukrainian advances in the region, Russian troops across the Kherson region will withdraw from the west bank of the Dnipro River, an area that includes Kherson city, Russian state media reported Wednesday.

The order came at a meeting in Moscow between Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and the commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, Gen. Sergei Surovikin, as Ukrainian forces approach the city from two directions.

However, Ukrainian officials are taking a wait-and-see position:

“Actions speak louder than words. We see no signs that Russia is leaving Kherson without a fight,” Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser in the Office of the President, tweeted.

Ukraine “is liberating territories based on intelligence data, not staged TV statements,” Podolyak added.

Fifth news item

China revisioning China:

Xi has used the 20th Party Congress’s “work report” (a speech the CCP’s top leader delivers at each congress outlining the ideological and policy rules of the road for the next five years) to demonstrate to the party and the world that China now has an integrated national and international vision of what he calls “Chinese-style modernization.” This vision calls for decoupling economic modernity from Western political and social norms and underlying cultural beliefs. It offers a new international order anchored in Chinese rather than U.S. geopolitical power. And it involves creating a set of institutions and norms that are compatible with China’s own interests and values rather than with those of the West. It is a Manichaean worldview, pitting China’s blend of Confucian and Marxist-Leninist values against the liberal democracy and liberal internationalism of the West and some (but not all) of the rest of the world. As this congress made clear, Xi wants to demonstrate that the CCP under his leadership has both the audacity and the capacity to translate this bold new vision into reality.

Sixth news item

This is why:

In his role as head of the party, Donald Trump has made life extremely difficult — and extremely unpleasant — for anyone who does not agree with him completely, and for anyone who decides to run for office without his imprimatur. And people have noticed. Doug Ducey, a product of the 2014 wave, decide not to run for the Senate in Arizona. Chris Sununu, a product of the 2016 wave, decide not to run for the Senate in New Hampshire. Larry Hogan, a product of the 2014 wave, decide not to run for the Senate in Maryland. Why didn’t Cory Gardner, a 2014 winner, passed on a run in Colorado. Pat Toomey retired. Rob Portman retired. Surely, these decisions are not all accidental. Certainly, they are enough to form a pattern. Ducey, Sununu, Hogan, Gardner, Toomey, and Portman are all intelligent people who may well have reasonably concluded that they didn’t want their lives ruined by challenging a Trump-backed candidate in a primary, or by being an elected officeholder in a party still overly in thrall to his whims. As Joe O’Dea found out, as Brian Kemp found out, and as Ron DeSantis is about to find out, the only thing that ever prevents Trump from throwing grenades at his own side is his current mood. Why bother?

The GOP should have been taking advantage of these figures for years to come. Instead, Donald Trump kept them on the sidelines — and, even worse, pushed for replacements chosen from the third-tier of possibilities, rather than the top. That’s a choice, and one that Republican voters ought to consider as they decide whether working hard to put good people into office is worth their effort and their care.

Seventh news item

In the words of Trump himself this morning:

Remember, I am a “Stable Genius.”

Eighth news item

Kremlin buddies and the midterm elections:

The midterm elections in the United States were a hot topic in Moscow. Convinced that the “red wave” was coming, Russian propagandists rushed to take credit for the anticipated landslide victory that would ensure a Republican majority in Congress and Senate.

On Tuesday, Russia’s Tucker Carlson, top propagandist Vladimir Solovyov, greeted his audience by wishing them a “Happy Interference in the U.S. Election Day.” Yevgeny Prigozhin, known as “Putin’s chef,” who was indicted as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference, likewise decided to publicly fess up to the allegations he previously denied.

This plan to discredit the U.S. elections and convince the Republicans that the mighty Kremlin hand covertly helped push them to victory had backfired. On Wednesday, state TV propagandists were scratching their heads about the wave that turned out to be but a trickle. During the broadcast of 60 Minutes, host Olga Skabeeva asked an expert: “How are our guys in America?” Political scientist Vladimir Kornilov clarified with a chuckle: “Our Republicans.”

Dmitry Abzalov, Director of the Center for Strategic Communications, noted that the outcome was much different than the predictions: “Even the Democrats predicted the red wave that will mow everything down, but it turned out to be quite modest.” Political scientist Vladimir Kornilov said, “The worst fears of the Democrats are now behind them. They easily won the states they were most concerned about.”

Ninth news item

Biden and Xi to meet in person:

At a news conference Wednesday, Biden told reporters that he would use a meeting with Xi to “lay out what each of our red lines are, understand what he believes to be in the critical national interests of China, what I know to be the critical interests of the United States, and to determine whether or not they conflict with one another.”

Biden said he also anticipated discussing issues related to Taiwan, the self-ruling democracy of 24 million people that Beijing claims as its territory, trade, nuclear weapons and China’s relationship with other countries in the region.

[A] senior administration official said Biden would “be honest about a number of our concerns,” including the increased Chinese military activity near the Taiwan Strait, China’s “harmful economic practices” and human rights violations. They will also discuss their policies toward North Korea and Ukraine, the official said.

Tenth news item

You know who to thank/blame for this:

Democrat Hillary Scholten will represent Michigan’s third congressional district. The Grand Rapids area seat was held by Peter Meijer, the freshman Republican who defeated Scholten in 2020 and soon thereafter voted to impeach Donald Trump for his role in instigating the Capitol riot.

As a result, Trump had a vendetta against Meijer. He found a willing challenger for him in John Gibbs, a conspiracy-mongering former Trump administration employee. With a cynical strategic assist from Democrats, who boosted him in the primary with ‘attack’ ads that functionally bolstered his conservative credentials, Gibbs narrowly prevailed over Meijer in August’s primary.

Does Trump’s decision — prioritizing personal vengeance over electoral success — make him more politically viable? Or does it make him a loser? Does any of this make him a more worthy object of Republican voters’ support and trust? Or does it provide yet more evidence that Trump has failed the very voters he claims to represent by pretending that his grievances are equivalent to their interests?

Apparently, to a large swath of Republicans, the risk (and reality) of having a Democrat win a race is more perferable than having a Republican with integrity retain the contested seat.

MISCELLANEOUS

I realize it’s just a typo, but it nonetheless made me laugh:

What quackery!
If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck!
Always ducking the truth!
What a quack!

(Apologies. I got a little quarried away there…)

Have a great weekend.

—Dana

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