Patterico's Pontifications

1/31/2022

Hollywood Continues the Mindless Politicization of Our Entertainment

Filed under: General — JVW @ 2:58 pm



[guest post by JVW]

As a quarter-century-long denizen of the City of Angels (well, OK — really the County of Angels) I spent years and years reading Los Angeles magazine. Even if you aren’t familiar with that particular periodical, you undoubtedly have seen a cookie cutter version in your own neck of the woods: the urban or regional journal chronicling fashion, the arts, commerce, politics, cuisine, and other important aspects of the surrounding area. All of these magazines at some point (usually late spring or early summer) publish a “Best Of” issue in which they guide you to what they believe are the most outstanding exemplars of dry cleaning, spa treatments, street tacos, yoga instruction, private preschooling, and other trendy obsessions of the upper-middle class, and then they use their pronouncements to sell advertising space to the lucky winners.

In any case, as I got older (and phenomenally grumpier) I had less and less interest in this year’s $400 pair of must-have denim pants or who indeed makes the chai latte to end all chi lattes. Los Angeles focuses heavily on trendy hipster areas of town such as Silver Lake, Larchmont, Venice, Sawtelle, Westwood, Pasadena, and the like, neighborhoods which as I reached middle age I seldomly visited. The domiciles and destinations for scruffy beach bums like me is studiously ignored, except for the couple of times each year when the magazine reviews a new en vogue restaurant in Manhattan Beach run by a celebrity chef and featuring locally-sourced menu items and a three-course deal with wine which will set you back a mere $149 per person. And the politics of the magazine as you can well guess are California comfy-left, with approving write-ups of art galleries hosting $1000 ticket fundraisers for progressive candidates who promise to do something about homelessness. Because the magazine went from slightly amusing to incessantly annoying — remarkably at the exact time that I went from passably tolerant to terminally grouchy — I decided not to renew my subscription even though it was only setting me back something like $15 per year.

But I remain on their daily email list, so I can continue to be updated on the new downtown condos with panoramic views which are an absolute steal at $1.325 million for two bedrooms and the emergence of the Asian lesbian baking community and their fusion muffins which incorporate lychee and rice. This ensures that I can always carry my end of the conversation those two times a year when I find myself standing in line to get some free trade Bolivian coffee with a cube of Pakistani sugar and a dollop of authentic Kenyan gnu’s milk at a food truck parked on La Brea. So I was pretty excited that today the magazine reported back to me on their movie reviewer’s trip to the oh-so-important Sundance Film Festival. It’s important to know which touching coming-of-age film about a transgendered Inuit teen struggling to overcome the effects of colonialism and unbridled capitalism while striving to master (oh, that’s a problematic word!) the fine art of toothpick sculpture is the one to crowd into an arthouse theater on Santa Monica Boulevard to see within two days after it opens. This sort of intel is exactly why I choose to continue to receive the magazine’s daily briefing.

So imagine my surprise when the lucky reviewer who got to spend a fun weekend at the festival hobnobbing (virtually of course; no expense account dinners at Riverhorse on Main for you!) with Hollywood royalty returned from his weekend on Zoom and declared that (emphasis added) “[T]he documentaries are far more dramatic than the actual dramas. Scripted films I’ve seen are so agenda-laden that with few exceptions, they trundle weightily to obvious and boring conclusions.” I mean, goodness: what’s the point of making a Hollywood movie these days unless you can take a mighty #resistance thwack at Trump, whiteness, capitalism (at least the kind that doesn’t involve the arts), flyover country, religious belief (and here we really mean Evangelical Christianity, traditional Catholicism, and Orthodox Judaism), law enforcement, the military (newly-minted Admirals excepted), and in general anything that even hints at an America which existed before the first Baby Boomer picked up a book by Michael Foucault? The reviewer, Allen Salkin, declares that too many of this year’s Sundance dramas “seemed like high-falutin’ versions of Lifetime movies from the 1990s,” and provides brief encapsulations of some of the movies he watched over the weekend. You can read his own words on the website, but allow me the indulgence of providing my own interpretation of what’s in store for the woke film fan:

Watcher – Cute young feminist moves into apartment and is haunted by an unseen stalker (which represents Donald Trump and Samuel Alito), but her cis-male partner and other representatives of the rape-culture patriarchy (i.e., red state voters) gaslight her by telling her she is imagining it.

God’s Country – Rural Colorado college professor Thandie Newton yasssss queeeeens her way through whooping ass on a couple of mouth-breathing white rednecks with guns who are illegally hunting on her property, a metaphor for trying to remove Critical Race Theory from kindergarten instruction.

Resurrection – Hip, urban, professional Rebecca Hall has it all together and is really crushing it, until creepy ex-boyfriend Tim Roth, who probably listens to Joe Rogan’s podcast, shows up and brings with him some bad vibes from her past. One reviewer reports that the film features a nearly ten-minute monologue from Ms. Hall, so if you go and see it at least you will know there is a good point at which to take a bathroom break and buy a box of Junior Mints.

Call Jane – An incredibly Strong! and Brave! movie about pioneering female entrepreneurs of the 1960s running an illegal abortion clinic, whose vital life-denying business was disrupted by that goddamned Roe decision which put conglomerates like Planned Parenthood in charge of this lucrative industry. Hopefully the new Supreme Court with Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett can once again provide opportunities for small businesses to make a dishonest living in back alleys.

When You Finish Saving the World – The title and the fact that it stars Julianne Moore really tells you all you need to know, doesn’t it? But here’s a short synopsis which I gleaned from a quick glance at YouTube: gawky white teen boy tries to win the heart of a woke black (or at the very least bi-racial) teen girl by emulating her progressive pretensions. Maybe the clever title indicates that it is a wry look at youthful self-righteousness, but I kind of doubt it.

Anyway, this is apparently what we have in store for us in 2022. It’s almost enough to make you long for the latest Marvel Comics extravaganza or an unwanted remake by current Saturday Night Live cast members of a beloved 1980s comedy. I don’t think I’ll need to devote a great deal of my household budget to movie tickets for the next nine or ten months.

– JVW

Trump: Pence Should Have Overturned the Election

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am



This surprises exactly nobody paying attention, but deserves mention just because it seems like it ought to qualify as news when the last president bemoans his vice president failing to overturn the presidential election on his behalf.

I know some believe that repeating things like this constitutes playing into his hands. But that’s a game of its own. If you spout insane things so often that the Smart Set believes it’s pointless to criticize your insanity, you’re either a dirty hobo or you have a good chance of being the next president of the United States. If you’re the latter, it seems to me your insane ramblings are news.

1/28/2022

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:51 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Let’s do it!

First news item

A “crime” being committed?:

Polk County Public Schools Regional Assistant Superintendent John Hill and several of his colleagues spent Tuesday morning going to area middle and high schools to gather 16 books out of media centers after County Citizens Defending Freedom, a conservative political group, complained to Superintendent Frederick Heid that the novels, graphic novels, autobiographies, and sex education books contain pornographic material harmful to children.

Heid sent an email Monday evening to middle and high school principals and media center librarians, stating that a “stakeholder group” is alleging that the books may be in violation of Florida Statute 847.012, which deals with distributing obscene or harmful materials to children.

“While it is not the role of my office to approve/evaluate instructional or resource materials at that level, I do have an obligation to review any allegation that a crime is being or has been committed,” Heid wrote in the email. “It is also my obligation to provide safeguards to protect our employees. The district will be taking the following steps to ensure that we address this issue honestly, fairly, and transparently.”

Hmm:

When discussing the fact that Khaled Hosseini’s “The Kite Runner” depicts the brutal rape of a boy by a teenaged boy, Nelson was asked if all books containing rape should be banned.

“I’m not going to go into that with you,” Nelson said. He became irritated when it was pointed out that the Bible and William Shakespeare plays contain rape, incest and adultery, and asked if he wanted the Bible or Shakespeare removed, too.

“It makes no difference to the story,” Nelson said. “You want to paint it in that light. You want to twist things.”

When asked where the line was between what was acceptable and what was not, Nelson said, “I don’t know where I can necessarily define that for you. When you know something’s wrong, you know it’s wrong. … No one has suggested banning Shakespeare. Our issues with these books are clear — Shakespeare’s not on the list.”

It’s like these people were never teenagers. Tell a high schooler NO to something, and the first thing that high schooler is going to do is go search out or try whatever elicited that NO. Also, these teenagers already have, at their fingertips, unfettered access to the entirety of the internet: the good, the bad, the ugly, and the very ugly. I’m guessing that what’s described in these books isn’t really anything new to today’s teenagers. For better or worse.

Anyway, there seems to be a trend:

Art Spiegelman’s once-controversial and now-canonical graphic memoir Maus has been removed from the McMinn County, Tennessee, school curriculum in a unanimous decision by the local Board of Education.

It was an unexpected irony for the news to hit this week, today being Holocaust Remembrance Day. Spiegelman’s Pulitzer-winning book, with its enormous cultural impact and reader-friendliness, has been a, perhaps the, primary pop vehicle of such remembrance over the past few decades. Spiegelman’s mother and father were both Auschwitz survivors, and Maus portrays him learning his parents’ Holocaust experiences and retelling them—in a riff on classic animal-comics tropes—with Jews as mice and Nazis as cats.

Oh come on, parents, get a grip:

Oh come on academia, get a grip:

The Telegraph is reporting that the “Approaches to Literature” module (is that like a course?) presented by the English department of the University of Chester is warning undergrads that the J. K. Rowling book Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (published as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the U.S.), which is the first, simplest, and most child-friendly book in the entire series, may unleash “difficult conversations about gender, race, sexuality, class and identity” and encouraged students to “get in touch” should they have “any issues with the content” of the course.

A spokesman for the university declined to elaborate to the Telegraph’s reporter, but since the book in question is hardly objectionable, this appears to be an example of another passive-aggressive attack on Rowling’s reputation driven by her public profile as a so-called “*TERF.”

(*trans-exclusionary radical feminist)

Second news item

Unfortunately, more indicators:

Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine has expanded to include supplies of blood along with other medical materials that would allow it to treat casualties, in yet another key indicator of Moscow’s military readiness, three U.S. officials tell Reuters.

Current and former U.S. officials say concrete indicators — like blood supplies — are critical in determining whether Moscow would be prepared to carry out an invasion, if Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to do so.

The disclosure of the blood supplies by U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, adds another piece of context to growing U.S. warnings that Russia could be preparing for a new invasion of Ukraine as it masses more than 100,000 troops near its borders.

These warnings have included President Joe Biden’s prediction that a Russian assault was likely…

The Pentagon has previously acknowledged the deployment of “medical support” as part of Russia’s buildup. But the disclosure of blood supplies adds a level of detail that experts say is critical to determining Russian military readiness.

Ukraine president tells U.S. to calm down:

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told President Joe Biden to “calm down the messaging” about the threat of a Russian invasion because it was stirring panic, CNN reported, citing an unnamed Ukrainian official.

Biden told Zelensky on Thursday that a Russian invasion could happen as soon as February, when the ground freezes over, tweeted Emily Horne, White House National Security Council spokesperson.

However, Zelensky told Biden in the call that Ukraine did not agree with the US assessment, and that it was bringing panic that could later bring economic hardship to Ukraine, CNN reported, citing a senior Ukrainian official.

Zelensky also told Biden to “calm down the messaging,” CNN reported, citing the official.

Meanwhile, Ukraine has reached out to 8 senators with a list of security and sanction requests:

“Ukraine speaks from centuries of experience. We understand Russia,” Chairman Ruslan Stefanchuk wrote in the letter, which also thanks Congress for ongoing bipartisan support. “We know what will and will not deter the occupants of the Kremlin.”

Details: The four requests were approved by Zelensky’s administration, according to two sources familiar with the matter. They are:

“Expedited and higher-impact security assistance, including air defense, anti-ship and anti-armor capabilities, and flexible loans and financing mechanisms.”

“Immediate, mandatory sanctions” against the operator of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which the letter calls “no less an existential threat to Ukraine’s security and democracy than the Russian troops on our border.”

“A clear trigger” for sanctions based on Russia’s actions, with a lower threshold than what has been outlined in the current Democratic-sponsored legislation under consideration.

“Mandatory pre-trigger and post-trigger sanctions against all of Russia’s most significant financial institutions.”

FYI:

President Biden said Friday he plans to send a small number of U.S. forces to Eastern Europe in the “near term” amid growing fears of a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine.

He said Friday he plans to send a small number of U.S. forces to Eastern Europe in the “near term” amid growing fears of a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“I’ll be moving troops to Eastern Europe in the NATO countries in the near term,” Biden told reporters at Joint Base Andrews upon returning from a trip to Pittsburgh. “Not too many.”

…Most of the troops are expected to join a NATO rapid response force in Eastern Europe.

Third news item

Getting CRT wrong:

If you were judging by much of the mainstream press coverage, you would think that CRT is just a movement to ensure that the history of slavery, racism, and Jim Crow is not neglected in America’s classrooms. But 1) large percentages of both Republicans and Democrats favor teaching those things, and 2) that’s not what CRT is.

Democrats often object that CRT is “not taught in K-12 schools,” which is evasive. It’s true that third graders are not being assigned the works of Kimberly Crenshaw or Ibram X. Kendi, but affinity groups, “anti-racism” (in the sense of rejecting the ideal of color blindness), and other CRT-adjacent ideas are making their way into classrooms. New York City has spent millions on training materials that disdain “worship of the written word,” “individualism,” and “objectivity” as aspects of “white-supremacy culture.”

As is their wont, some Republicans have made things even worse. A conservative group is suing a school district in Tennessee because its second grade curriculum included a “Civil Rights Heroes” module that included a picture book about Ruby Bridges. The parents claim that the unit violates Tennessee’s new anti-CRT law and contains material that is “Anti-American, Anti-White, and Anti-Mexican [sic].”

Fourth news item

Caught in competing Covid narratives:

The division is easy to state and readily observable in the real world. From the moment that Donald Trump said—almost exactly two years ago, on January 22, 2020—–that COVID is “one person coming in from China. We have it under control. It’s going to be just fine,” a pattern was set. Republicans minimized the threat of COVID, and Democrats did the opposite.

Not all Republicans and not all Democrats, of course, but the numbers and the patterns of behavior don’t lie. As The New York Times’ David Leonhardt wrote last year (relying on a Gallup and Franklin Templeton survey of 35,000 Americans), “both liberals and conservatives suffer from misperceptions about the pandemic—in opposite directions. ‘Republicans consistently underestimate risks, while Democrats consistently overestimate them.’”

The best available evidence demonstrates a dreadful reality: Vaccine reluctance and death rate have correlated with votes for Trump. Since the date when vaccines “widely became available,” the higher the percentage of Trump votes, the lower the vaccine uptake and the higher the death rate. As NPR reported in December: “People living in counties that went 60% or higher for Trump in November 2020 had 2.73 times the death rates of those that went for Biden. Counties with an even higher share of the vote for Trump saw higher COVID-19 mortality rates.”

Fifth news item

Arizona’s leading candidate for governor:

Maybe not the leading candidate for long

Sixth news item

Demands to fire Ilya Shapiro for a bad tweet:

Georgetown University’s Black Law Students Association is demanding the firing of Ilya Shapiro, a director of constitutional studies at the Cato Institute, from his brand new position at the university. Shapiro was slated to start work as executive director of the Georgetown Center for the Constitution next week, but a poorly worded tweet about President Joe Biden’s pledge to appoint a black woman to the Supreme Court has landed him in hot water.

Shapiro agrees that the tweet was not great.

“I regret my poor choice of words, which undermine my message that no one should be discriminated against for his or her gender or skin color,” Shapiro tells Reason.

On Wednesday, Shapiro tweeted the following:

Objectively best pick for Biden is Sri Srinivasan, who is solid prog & v smart. Even has identify politics benefit of being first Asian (Indian) American. But alas doesn’t fit into the latest intersectionality hierarchy so we’ll get lesser black woman. Thank heaven for small favors?

Because Biden said he’s only consider[ing] black women for SCOTUS, his nominee will always have an asterisk attached. Fitting that the Court takes up affirmative action next term.

He subsequently apologized and deleted the tweeted after receiving significant criticism.

The phrasing “lesser black woman” was particularly ugly by itself, of course, but is being misconstrued by those calling for Shapiro to be fired. Members of the Georgetown community are not wrong to demand more precise wording from someone of Shapiro’s stature, but given that he has apologized, the university should accept this and move on. If Georgetown’s administration were to fire Shapiro, it would be tacitly endorsing the unfair smear that he is a racist and a sexist.

Seventh news item

A maddening madness:

A 26-year-old transgender woman who, at age 17, sexually assaulted a child will serve a two-year sentence in a juvenile facility rather than a jail for adults, a judge ruled Thursday.

The case of Hannah Tubbs, who has admitted sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl in 2014 in the bathroom of a Denny’s restaurant in Palmdale, has thrown a spotlight on Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón’s refusal to seek the transfer of juvenile defendants to adult court. Gascón has argued that the brains of juveniles aren’t fully developed and that the proper setting to rehabilitate people who commit crimes while underage is a juvenile treatment facility.

Although Tubbs committed the sexual assault in 2014, she was not arrested and charged with the crime until January 2021, when Gascón was in office. In the interim, she had been arrested for battery, drug possession and probation violations in Idaho and Washington and convicted of assault with a deadly weapon in Kern County, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officials. She was also arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting a minor but wasn’t prosecuted for the alleged offense, according to court records.

In November, Tubbs admitted sexually assaulting the 10-year-old girl, an attack that law enforcement officials said stopped only when someone else walked into the bathroom. Prosecutors, however, never filed a motion seeking to transfer her case to adult court, where she could have faced a longer sentence that would be served in a prison or jail that houses adults.

“I want to be clear,” Superior Court Judge Mario Barrera said at a hearing Thursday in a Lancaster courtroom. “The filing of a transfer motion is entirely within the discretion of the district attorney.”

Gascón previously told The Times that the victim, who has moved away from California and remains in therapy, did not want to testify at a trial. He also expressed concern that as a transgender woman, Tubbs could be victimized in a jail for adults. In a youth facility, he said, she could receive treatment and therapy.

Eighth news item

Related:

Human rights activists issued a call to action against the Beijing Olympics on Friday, imploring athletes and sponsors to speak out against what they call the “genocide games.”

Speaking at an online press conference organized by the rights group Human Rights Watch, activists representing Chinese dissidents and the minority Uyghur and Tibetan populations urged international attendants to voice their opposition to China’s hosting of the Games, which begin next week.

“The 2022 Winter Olympics will be remembered as the genocide games,” said Teng Biao, a former human rights activist in China who is now a visiting professor at the University of Chicago.

“The CCP’s purpose is to exactly turn the sports arena into a stage for political legitimacy and a tool to whitewash all those atrocities,” he added, referring to the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

Activists have failed to achieve a full boycott of the games, but have continued to speak out.

“Your silence is their strength. This is what they want more than anything: that the world will play by China’s rules, that we will follow China’s lead, that we will look away from these atrocities and crimes for the sake of business as usual,” said Lhadon Tethong, director of the Tibet Action Institute, at the press conference Friday.

She appealed directly to athletes from the U.S., UK, France and others to speak.

“I personally believe that you should use your platform and your privilege and this historic opportunity. You have to speak out against the wave of genocide,” she said

I would certainly understand if athletes from the West decline to speak against the CCP. After all, they’ve been warned:

Yang Shu, the deputy director of international relations for the Beijing organising committee, told a press conference on Tuesday that “dedicated departments” would investigate athletes’ comments at the Games.

“Any expression that is in line with the Olympic spirit I’m sure will be protected,” Yang said.

“Any behaviour or speech that is against the Olympic spirit, especially against the Chinese laws and regulations, are also subject to certain punishment.”

For shame:

So far, the corporations don’t seem ashamed at all. Google and Apple put the Chinese government’s flawed app in their app stores without disclosing the risks to users. The Warriors organization distanced itself from Palihapitiya’s comments, but neither he nor the team mentioned the Uyghurs in their subsequent statements. By both action and inaction, they are helping the Chinese government cover up its repression, mainly because it is in their financial interest, said Michael Sobolik, a fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council.

“When your bottom line depends on a genocidal regime, you become a de facto apologist for a genocide,” he said. “The only difference between Chamath, the IOC and companies like Apple is the degree of how brazen they are.”

It may seem expedient now to claim “nobody cares” about the Uyghur genocide. But the actions of the athletes, companies and international organizations at the 2022 Beijing Olympics will be remembered for generations, as they were after the Games in 1936. Each of them — and each of us — must think hard about which side of history we want to be on.

Have a great weekend.

–Dana

Neil Young Pulls Music Off Spotify to Protest Joe Rogan Vaccine Misinformation

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am



He beat polio as a kid. Go figure he’d be touchy about Rogan’s brand of anti-vax misinformation.

I listened to some Neil Young yesterday after being reminded of his existence. After the Gold Rush is a hell of an album. I had forgotten how good it is. Seriously, give it a spin. “I Believe in You” is my favorite track.

Looks like Barry Manilow might be following suit. Ain’t gonna listen to his stuff though.

UPDATE: Barry Manilow denies the rumor.

1/27/2022

Will the Supreme Court Hear the Harvard Affirmative Action Case This Term?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am



And will Justice Breyer’s retirement, which is being officially announced today, affect the analysis? Consider:

  • Despite conventional wisdom, I believe there is still a chance the case could be heard this term. (Correct me if I am wrong about this, but don’t cite the conventional wisdom.)
  • Chief Justice Roberts is strongly against racial preferences.
  • Justice Breyer’s seat is about to be filled with an openly affirmative action pick. We don’t yet know who it will be, but we know it will be a black woman because Biden promised that to Jim Clyburn in return for an endorsement before the South Carolina primary.
  • Why would Chief Justice Roberts want a clear affirmative action pick sitting on this case? Even though Breyer would vote the same way, the optics — and the media focus on the inevitable dissent from the newly appointed affirmative action pick — might be something Roberts wants to avoid.

We’ll see. It’s a longshot, but if it happens, I’ll remind you of this post. If conventional wisdom is right, this post never happened.

1/26/2022

Justice Stephen Breyer to Retire

Filed under: General — JVW @ 9:23 am



[guest post by JVW]

Pete Williams of NBC News appears to have broken the story, so we’ll give his network the link:

Justice Stephen Breyer will step down from the Supreme Court at the end of the current term, according to people familiar with his thinking.

Breyer is one of the three remaining liberal justices, and his decision to retire after more than 27 years on the court allows President Joe Biden to appoint a successor who could serve for several decades and, in the short term, maintain the current 6-3 split between conservative and liberal justices.

At 83, Breyer is the court’s oldest member. Liberal activists have urged him for months to retire while Democrats hold both the White House and the Senate. They contended that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stayed too long despite her history of health problems and should have stepped down during the Obama administration.

President Biden, of course, has pledged to nominate a black woman for the seat, so it would appear that approximately five percent of the eligible jurists in this country will receive consideration. Mandatory set-asides and such, I suppose.

With the Senate deadlocked at 50-50, with an election year coming, and with Biden having failed miserably at the whole “restore dignity and cooperation to Washington” goal, it’s bound to be a really fun confirmation process. If I were Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer, I don’t think I would be antagonizing Joe Manchin for any reason whatsoever this coming spring.

– JVW

1/25/2022

With A Straight Face, GOP Rep. Asks If We’ve Ever Seen A President Attack The Free Press Like Joe Biden Has??

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:32 pm



[guest post by Dana]

I really didn’t have much interest in this non-story, but because it’s turning out to be one of those situations where, amusingly, both sides of the aisle are scrambling to claim the moral high ground, I’m compelled to post about it. Anyway, yesterday President Biden was caught on a hot mic calling a Fox News reporter a “stupid son of a bitch” after Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy shouted a question at the president about inflation (a subject, I think it’s safe to say, that the president would rather not talk about):

President Biden appeared to call Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy a “stupid son of a b—h” after Doocy shouted a question the president found ridiculous.

“Do you think inflation is a political liability ahead of the midterms?” Doocey appeared to ask Monday at the end of a press event.

The president, seemingly not noticing he was still seated in front of a live microphone, looked off camera, repeated the question, then replied sarcastically.

President Biden later phoned Doocy to clear the air:

President Biden reached out to Peter Doocy on Monday night and “cleared the air” after calling the Fox News White House correspondent a “stupid son of a bitch” an hour earlier.

Doocy told Fox News’ Sean Hannity that the president called him on his cellphone and told the reporter, “It’s nothing personal, pal” after the hot mic blunder in the White House East Room.

Asked if Biden issued an apology, Doocy said he doesn’t need one and that the president simply “cleared the air.”

“I appreciated it. We had a nice call,” Doocy said of the communication.

“I don’t need anybody to apologize to me,” Doocy told Hannity. “He can call me whatever he wants as long as it gets him talking.”

I’m not going to post links, but suffice it to say that the right side of the aisle is in a tizzy because the alleged Great Uniter in Chief attacked a reporter who works for a conservative outlet and the left side of the aisle is in a tizzy because they want to know where the right’s outrage was when Trump repeatedly attacked members of the media.

I don’t see how calling a reporter a “son of a bitch” one time compares to Trump’s endless rants and rages against reporters that displeased him. And as far as I know, he never called the targets of his ire to clear the air. But maybe I missed it. So, while lofty pundits from both sides of the aisle are milking this for all it’s worth, I personally think Rep. Jim Banks takes the cake for the most brazen and opportunistic efforts by a politician to use the kerfuffle to increase his popularity with his base, and with Trump:

While it’s no longer startling that a Trump ally and member of Congress would actually say something like this out loud, this is a man who said that he would “never apologize” for objecting to the 2020 election results, so I’m pretty sure he’s not only comfortable tweeting what he did but did so with all the straight-faced seriousness of a true believer and crafty politician.

–Dana

Biden Administration Reads Tea Leaves, Drops Vaccine Requirements for Businesses

Filed under: General — JVW @ 2:24 pm



[guest post by JVW]

From National Review Online:

The Biden administration announced Tuesday that it is scraping its vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers after the Supreme Court blocked the rule earlier this month.

“Although OSHA is withdrawing the vaccination and testing ETS as an enforceable emergency temporary standard, the agency is not withdrawing the ETS as a proposed rule,” the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration said in a statement. “The agency is prioritizing its resources to focus on finalizing a permanent COVID-19 Healthcare Standard.”

“OSHA continues to strongly encourage the vaccination of workers against the continuing dangers posed by Covid-19 in the workplace,” the agency added.

This decision, of course, comes on the heels of the Court’s 6-3 decision two weeks ago that the federal mandates exceeded the authority of the CDC, OHSA, and the executive branch to impose them, absent authorization from Congress.

This is all part and parcel of the curious and annoying tendency of the Biden Administration to push for policies which they know will either fail legislatively due to reluctance from their own nominal allies in Congress or because they know at heart that the policies are not a legitimate function of the federal government and that the judicial branch will eventually get around to nullifying them. President-elect Biden had ruled out a mandatory vaccinations and a national mask mandate back in December 2020, even though just months earlier (i.e. before he had been elected) he had looked favorably upon a federal masking requirement and claimed that his advisors suggested it would pass Constitutional muster. But even Team Biden should have had severe doubt that a Supreme Court majority would give their blessing to the nationwide vaccinate-or-test mandate that OSHA imposed upon private businesses with his tacit support. In the end, though, just like with the Biden flip-flop on the Constitutionality of rent moratoriums, it would seem that yet again the President was swayed by the more Warrenesque elements of the Democrat coalition or by the horrible political instincts of his utterly vacuous Vice-President, and he unsurprisingly charged straight into the cannon fire waving the banner of regulatory overreach.

The Administration now contends that they will focus their efforts on encouraging vaccination holdouts (advice: badgering them hasn’t worked; try something new) and focusing on small-bore efforts to combat the spread of the virus. Given their plunging poll numbers and the willingness of the science bureaucracy to promote the idea that the new omicron variant of COVID is starting to wane, it would appear more and more that the Biden Administration is looking for reasons and excuses for winding down the national hysteria and encouraging a return to normal — though naturally without giving up the expanded government powers that have been enacted in the name of public safety.

– JVW

Planned Parenthood Drops Challenge to Lubbock’s Ban on All Abortion

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:26 am



Ed Whelan has the details:

In May 2021, the voters of Lubbock—the 11th-largest city in Texas—overwhelmingly approved a measure (Proposition A) that outlaws abortion in Lubbock. The ordinance took effect on June 1, 2021. Like the Texas Heartbeat Act, the Lubbock ordinance provides that it may be enforced only by private civil lawsuits brought against individuals who perform or aid or abet abortions in Lubbock, and it prohibits the city of Lubbock and its officials from enforcing its ban. Unlike the Texas Heartbeat Act, the Lubbock abortion ban applies from conception, rather than when a fetal heartbeat is detectable.

A judge dismissed the lawsuit for lack of standing and Planned Parenthood has abandoned the appeal. Ed’s conclusion:

In his concurring opinion in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services (1989), Justice Scalia lamented that it “appears that the mansion of constitutionalized abortion law, constructed overnight in Roe v. Wade, must be disassembled doorjamb by doorjamb, and never entirely brought down, no matter how wrong it may be.” But that ramshackle house of horrors finally appears to be collapsing.

I’m more concerned. There is no limiting principle here that says that this approach for avoiding court review applies only to phony and made-up constitutional rights. San Francisco could ban all private gun ownership tomorrow using this scheme. Portland could create a private cause of action against anyone who utters a statement that a specified minority group finds offensive. And under the Lubbock/Texas rubric, there’s not a damn thing you could do to stop it in federal court.

That should frighten everyone.

1/24/2022

Constitutional Vanguard: An Analysis of the Supreme Court’s Decisions on Biden’s Vaccine Mandates

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am



The long-promised post is up. If you want to understand these decisions better, without wading through all the legalese, this is the way to do it.

I listened to the oral arguments and found the behavior of the lefty justices to fall short of the judicial ideal. Justice Sotomayor’s blatant misstatements of fact when it came to the effect of the pandemic on children seemed to exemplify a sort of tribalism that increasingly seems to characterize the left side of the Court, which is far more predictable than the right side in terms of outcome.

Second, regular readers know that I am a judicial conservative, and generally find myself in agreement with the likes of Scalia and Thomas — or, these days, Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch.

But if you know me well, you also know that I call them as I see them. I’m not much of a “team player” when it comes to expressing my opinions on politics or the law, because being a member of a team would require me sometimes to shy away from speaking the full truth on an issue, as I see it. I prefer to say what I think even if it upsets members of my “team.” I do this enough that it no longer really feels like I even have a team. (Other than you subscribers, of course!)

And here, speaking the full truth requires me to reveal something that surprised me: when I read the vaccine mandate decisions, I found that as a matter of pure logic, the folks in dissent on the case involving the OSHA mandate seem to have the better of the argument.

I wrote this one for the paid subscribers, an elite group you can easily join by clicking here.

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