Patterico's Pontifications


Vice-Presidential Debate Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:09 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Here we go. Mike Pence and Kamala Harris are squaring off tonight in the only vice-presidential debate which is live-streaming on CNN.


Expectations are high for Harris because of her background as a prosecutor and the skills she showed when she aggressively questioned Trump’s nominees as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. But before the primaries, when she was running for the Democratic nomination, she sometimes delivered uneven performances on the debate stage.

Pence, a former radio host, is one of the Trump administration’s most effective communicators. He has also shown a far greater capacity than the President to speak with empathy and compassion for those who have been afflicted with Covid-19.

The vice president’s main objective on Wednesday is to portray Harris as one of the most liberal members of that body, aiming to paint her as a vice presidential contender whose views are out of step with most Americans and someone who would steer Biden toward socialism. Pence also hopes to portray the White House’s actions on the coronavirus in a positive light — from the distribution of aid and personal protective equipment to states, to the efforts to develop a vaccine and therapeutics to treat the virus in record time.

Did you know… oh, wait, how could you have known??

The White House’s chief of security has been hospitalized with COVID-19 since September, Bloomberg reports. Crede Bailey is reportedly “gravely ill” but contracted the coronavirus before the Rose Garden event celebrating the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, which has been linked to a widening outbreak. The White House did not disclose his infection or hospitalization. Bailey’s job is largely comprised of approving credentials and security clearances for those accessing the White House.

You bet Harris is going to bring up Covid, and will likely hold no punches when directing her ire at her opponent, who just also happens to also be…Chair of White House Coronavirus Task Force.


Katie Hill’s Former Staffers: She’s As Much a Villain As She Is a Victim

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:15 pm

[guest post by JVW]

When we last checked-in with our friend ex-Congresswoman Katie Hill (D-CA) just about one year ago, she was ignobly leaving Congress after evidence of a sexual affair with a campaign staffer and highly-believable allegations of a sexual affair with a member of her Congressional office staff had come to light. The story was sordid and gross, involving polyamory, nude pictures, possible blackmail, substance abuse, and other aspects that are better left unmentioned. Though Ms. Hill had taken advantage of the MeToo movement to rise to federal office at the tender age of 31, her poor judgement in her own romantic life led to House Democrat leadership prevailing upon her to resign.

And of course, in a totally 2020 sort of way, the young bisexual Ms. Hill became a martyr to a certain brand of feminist who assumes that women are always the victim in any sexual relationship gone wrong. They worked to switch the narrative from Katie Hill as a hypocrite who made poor decisions to Katie Hill as a victim of Puritanical expectations for LBGTQ female politicians and a nasty smear campaign orchestrated by her jilted abusive cis-normative white male husband. It became standard on the lifestyle left to claim that the former Congresswoman had resigned office due to a revenge porn scandal, rather than her own bad decisions and credible ethics violations. A self-serving memoir written by Ms. Hill has recently been optioned by Hollywood producer Michael Seitzman with Elisabeth Moss of Mad Men and The Handmaid’s Tale set to portray the heroine. Ms. Hill exulted that the film version would further her goal of “tak[ing] back my story from those who have exploited and twisted it.”

But today yesterday her ex-staffers registered their objection to Ms. Hill’s image rehabilitation. Writing on her former Congressional Twitter account, they begin to push back on preferred narrative promoted by Ms. Hill, and portray her as being an abusive and manipulative boss. The full set of tweets can be found at the link in the previous sentence, but I’ll add some screenshots of them here, for those of you who don’t want to sully yourselves by visiting Twitter and in case the tweets mysteriously disappear (note: I am not showing all the tweets in the thread, so to see the full stream in proper order you should visit the link).

Katie Hill Tweets 1

Katie Hill Tweets 2

Katie Hill Tweets 3

I suppose it will be interesting to see if Mr. Seitzman and Ms. Moss proceed with the hagiography. One of the dumber aspects of our modern times is our insistence upon seeing various public figures as either entirely blameless victims or else as utterly incorrigible perpetrators. In a perfect world, Ms. Hill would have disappeared into the background, perhaps even taking a useful job in a healthcare-related field or otherwise doing good works for society. Instead, she seems bound and determined to keep her name in the public eye, so I’m not going to waste any sympathy on her should her reputation continue to get dragged down by the people whom she has apparently wronged. Her former seat is now held by a Republican who appears to be a halfway decent guy, so between that and these new allegations perhaps the Democrats will sensibly close the door on any future political aspirations that Katie Hill may harbor.


Exactly When Was The President’s Last Negative Test For The Virus?

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:46 am

[guest post by Dana]

Back in June, White House spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany said publicly that President Trump was being tested multiple times a day:

“As I’ve made clear from this podium, the president is the most tested man in America,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters. “He’s tested more than anyone, multiple times a day, and we believe that he’s acting appropriately.”

Pressed on her remarks, which were in response to a question regarding the president’s reluctance to wear a face mask in public, McEnany declined to elaborate on the specific number of times Trump is tested in a 24-hour period.

“He’s tested often. I’m not going to read out exactly how many times he’s tested a day, but sometimes it is more than one time a day,” she said.

However, on the same day that McEnnany made the claim, President Trump later contradicted her:

Speaking during a White House news briefing later Tuesday, Trump himself said he is tested on average once every two or three days. He denied ever having been tested multiple times in a single day but said, “I could see that happening.”

We should’ve known something was up. And we did…

Now that 14 White House staff members have tested positive for the virus (at least 27 people in total across Trump’s White House, election campaign and military leaders have now tested positive), there are questions about just how frequently President Trump was being tested:

Still unknown was the exact status of the president’s health. Dr. Sean P. Conley, the White House physician, said on Tuesday that the president “reports no symptoms” of the virus and that his vital signs were stable, but no one at the White House would say what the “expected findings” were on Mr. Trump’s chest X-ray that Dr. Conley had mentioned over the weekend.

There were no answers, either, on when Mr. Trump last tested negative for the virus — a crucial piece of information that the White House and Dr. Conley have refused to answer and would establish the known state of Mr. Trump’s health before the presidential debate last Tuesday or before he attended a fund-raiser in New Jersey on Thursday. The White House first made public that Mr. Trump had tested positive early last Friday.

Two officials maintained that Mr. Trump had been tested before the presidential debate, but the White House has yet to affirm that.

White House officials conceded on Tuesday that there had been an impression created that Mr. Trump was getting tested every day, and a reliance on testing as if it were a curative measure as opposed to a diagnostic.

Yet the president himself was not tested every day, according to two people familiar with the practices. A senior administration official would only say on Tuesday that Mr. Trump was tested “regularly.” Mr. Trump himself told reporters in the White House briefing room in July that “I do take probably on average a test every two days, three days.”

Jake Tapper has posted a timeline:

According to the NYT report, White House staff appears frustrated, as evidenced by the finger-pointing going on:

Ms. Hicks had been upset last week that she was being blamed for infecting the president, according to three people who had spoken with her. She had not attended a Rose Garden event announcing Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court and had tested positive for the virus on the same day as Mr. Trump and the first lady — making it just as likely that she had contracted the virus from the president.

Among White House advisers, anger grew at Ms. McEnany because her statement announcing her diagnosis appeared to blame Ms. Hicks. There was also frustration from many corners at Mr. Meadows for not doing more to try to protect the staff, a criticism that his defenders said was unfair given the scope of his duties.

Yet among other, less prominent staffers, there appears to be a sense of resignation:

On Monday night, some of the staff members still at the White House had gathered to watch Mr. Trump’s return. When he defiantly took off his mask on the Truman Balcony for a made-for-television moment, aides said it was of course a statement. But they also wondered if the face covering was making it harder for the president to breathe.

Either way, some of them shrugged off the message it was sending to tens of millions of Americans about taking the coronavirus seriously.

The sentiment, according to one aide to Mr. Trump, was that “it’s his house.”

But that’s the thing: it’s not his house. It’s the people’s house, and he owes the American public – for whom he works and answers to – a truthful and direct response via Dr. Conley about when he last tested negative for the virus.

For his part though, Dr. Conley has moved on from testing questions, and said this morning that things are going swimmingly well:

Trump has also been “fever-free for more than 4 days” and has not required supplemental oxygen since leaving Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday, said Dr. Sean Conley, the White House physician, in the memo.

“Of note today, the President’s labs demonstrated detectable levels of SARS-CoV-2-IgG antibodies from labs drawn Monday,” Conley added.

Conley’s brief memo did not include any specific updates on the president’s drug regimen. Trump, since testing positive for the coronavirus last week, has taken numerous treatments, including the steroid dexamethasone, the antiviral therapy remdesivir and an antibody cocktail from Regeneron.

But the memo did include remarks from Trump himself. “The President this morning says ‘I feel great!’” Conley wrote.

Oh, and PS:

Larry Kudlow, Trump’s top economic advisor, refused to tell CNBC if Trump has been wearing a mask as he returns to work.

Clearly, things are indeed going swimmingly well!


Trump Loses Again on Tax Returns

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am

New York Times:

The Manhattan district attorney can enforce a subpoena seeking President Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns, a federal appeals panel ruled on Wednesday, dealing yet another blow to the president’s yearlong battle to keep his financial records out of the hands of state prosecutors.

The unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel in New York rejected the president’s arguments that the subpoena should be blocked because it was too broad and amounted to political harassment from the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., a Democrat.

“Grand juries must necessarily paint with a broad brush,” the judges wrote.

They concluded that the president did not show that Mr. Vance had been driven by politics. “None of the president’s allegations, taken together or separately, are sufficient to raise a plausible inference that the subpoena was issued ‘out of malice or an intent to harass,’” they wrote.

Trump will now appeal to the Supreme Court, which ought not to take the case, but who knows what they will actually do.

I’d feel better if SDNY prosecutors were pursuing the tax charges rather than the Manhattan D.A. They are more thorough and experienced and, I believe, less partisan. But of course the feds can’t prosecute the President, and Bill Barr probably would not allow any investigation to begin with. The extent to which the President and his cronies can stifle an investigation through his control over DoJ, and by dangling pardons in front of cooperators, is a major theme of the book I am reading: Where Law Ends: Inside the Mueller Investigation (affiliate link), by Andrew Weissman. I’m about 2/3 of the way through it, maybe 3/4, and I think it’s excellent as well as distressing. If I can muster the energy maybe I will do a review here.

Trump, like his buddies, is a criminal. I would like to see him held to account for his crimes. So far, he has skated, and I suspect he will continue to skate. I just hope he skates out of the Oval Office, perhaps falling on his rear end a couple more times on the way.

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