Patterico's Pontifications


Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:25 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Let’s do it!

First news item

In a follow-up to my post about NPR’s Nina Totenberg claiming that Justice Robert’s asked his fellow colleagues to mask up (on behalf of the diabetic Sotomayor), NPR has responded to the controversy, and we now have a case of a noted media outlet telling readers that what you read and heard isn’t really what you read and heard In other words, it’s fake but accurate news… And to make it even more ridiculous, it doesn’t even matter that the main character in this fiction has denied doing what he was accused by Totenberg of doing.

What she claimed in her NPR piece:

Now, though, the situation had changed with the omicron surge, and according to court sources, Sotomayor did not feel safe in close proximity to people who were unmasked. Chief Justice John Roberts, understanding that, *in some form asked the other justices to mask up.

At the writing of that post, I noted that the bolded part was strangely worded and likely to give Totenberg wiggle room if the whole of the statement was proven untrue. Boy, was I right. After Chief Justice Roberts released a statement denying that he had asked anyone to mask up, Totenberg and NPR doubled down:

On Tuesday, NPR reported that Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a longtime diabetic, had indicated to Chief Justice John Roberts that because of the omicron surge, she did not feel safe being in a room with people who are unmasked, and that the chief justice “in some form asked the other justices to mask up.”

On Wednesday, Sotomayor and Gorsuch issued a statement saying that she did not ask him to wear a mask. NPR’s report did not say that she did. Then, the chief justice issued a statement saying he “did not request Justice Gorsuch or any other justice to wear a mask on the bench.” The NPR report said the chief justice’s ask to the justices had come “in some form.”

NPR stands by its reporting.

Now NPR’s public editor, employing some weaselly word gymnastics, is trying to defend Totenberg while appearing to simultaneously hold her (and the outlet) accountable for the writer’s “inaccurate verb”. Said public editor summed it up this way:

Totenberg and other Supreme Court watchers know that executive messages are conveyed with subtlety and diplomacy, not by clear edict. Adding that small detail, along with more information about her sourcing and a more accurate verb, would have provided a fuller picture. As she acknowledged the justices’ statements on Wednesday, the veteran reporter further explained her wording choice at the end of her segment on ATC.

In the absence of a clarification, NPR risks losing credibility with audience members who see the plainly worded statement from Roberts and are forced to go back to NPR’s story and reconcile the nuances of the verb “asked” when in fact, it’s not a nuanced word.

The way NPR’s story was originally worded, news consumers must choose between believing the chief justice or believing Totenberg. A clarification improving on the verb choice that describes the inner workings of the court would solve that dilemma.

So why not reveal the sources and have them go on the record with what they said? Wouldn’t that clear things ups?

But here’s another problem with the public editor’s piece: She asserts that there is dissension among the justices, which would appear to fly in the face of the statement released yesterday by Justices Gorsuch and Sotomayor:

No one has challenged the broader focus of Totenberg’s original story, which asserts that the justices in general are not getting along well. The controversy over the anecdotal lead, which was intended to be illustrative, has overwhelmed the uncontested premise of the story.

Shame on Totenberg, and shame on NPR. You may think us dumb, but it’s not us who assumed readers everywhere would buy your inaccurate verb nonsense.

Second news item

Asking evangelicals:

Some people in her own party want Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) to lose her membership on committees and even her place within her party’s conference in the United States House of Representatives, all because she won’t “move on” from her beliefs that the attempts to overturn the last election—leading up to last January’s attack on the Capitol—are a clear and present danger to democracy.

Whatever you think of Cheney (as you can imagine, I am a fan), there’s a larger point here—one that applies to many evangelical Christians in a thousand different situations in their churches and communities: At what point will you stop conserving your influence?

Third news item

A progressive case against abortion:

First, the pro-life movement gives increasing weight to science. In 1973, the Supreme Court told us that there has “always been strong support for the view that life does not begin until live birth.” Today, 95 percent of biologists affirm the view that human life begins at fertilization. Modern advances in ultrasound technology and discoveries in prenatal development have laid the Roe Court’s view to rest, rendering the decision obsolete.

Second, the pro-life movement is increasingly calling out the anti-feminist assumptions of the abortion-industrial complex. It is anti-feminist to suggest that women need abortions to succeed in a world that still hasn’t upended patriarchal assumptions in families and the workplace. Moreover, it is inconsistent with the non-violent instincts of feminism to tie the liberation of women to the elimination of any group of human beings. Girls, furthermore, are disproportionately the targets of abortion—especially in places like China, India and parts of Eastern Europe.

Third, the pro-life movement increasingly points out the economic interests of the abortion-rights movement. We respect the personal sincerity of abortion rights proponents. Sadly, however, this social movement is inextricably tied to the interests of Big Abortion, a $3 billion industry.

Fourth news item

Looking at Biden’s and Trump’s polling numbers:

Democratic voters are looking for someone other than Biden to carry their standard in 2024: 41 percent want “someone else,” while only 32 percent want Biden and 27 percent aren’t sure. But for the 68 percent of Democrats who’ve either gone off Biden or are at least starting to look around, there is not much to pick from. Gaffe-prone Kamala Harris is polling as badly as Biden with a FiveThirtyEight approval average of just 36 percent. When the University of Massachusetts at Amherst asked Democratic voters their preferences for 2024, 40 percent remained loyal to Biden — with 80-year-old Bernie Sanders the most popular choice after Biden at 18 percent, and Harris tied with Elizabeth Warren in third at just 10 percent. In a Harvard/Harris poll, Biden retained just 36 percent loyalty and Harris came in second at 16 percent. If Biden were not to run in 2024, Harris led Sanders in that poll 31 percent to 15 percent as Democrats’ first choice — with no one else in double-digits.

Trump has generally pulled ahead of Biden in the 2024 ballot test. The RealClearPolitics average has Trump leading Biden by nearly 5 points at 46 percent to 41 percent, with Insider Advantage giving Trump a lead of 8 points. Polling from YouGov and Redfield and Wilton has vacillated, but show Trump — on average — with a small lead.

And Trump does not appear to have a problem within his own party. Most Republicans want Trump to run (53 percent, according to YouGov). Trump leads significantly in all putative GOP primary polls with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis taking second across the board. The Dec. 13 YouGov poll is closest with Trump leading DeSantis 44 percent to 23 percent, but other YouGov polls have Trump in the mid 50s, leading DeSantis by over 35 points. TIPP gives Trump a 60 percent to 11 percent advantage.

But then there is this:

When you dig into the numbers, he has significant problems. For one thing, his approval rating is just as bad as Biden’s. The latest FiveThirtyEight average has Trump at 43 percent approval. In addition, most Americans don’t want to see Trump run again — even more than oppose a Biden candidacy. According to YouGov, 59 percent do not want Trump to run, while 57 percent are against Biden running.

In that same YouGov poll, 30 percent of Republicans want someone other than Trump to seek the GOP nomination — which points to a worrying trend among Republican voters. Simply put, Trump’s support is not as strong as it seems. Trump routinely polls approval in the 80s among Republicans. The most recent January YouGov poll has Trump at 81 percent favorable among Republicans. Morning Consult has Trump at 83 percent favorable. Yet in both polls, Biden’s overall approval numbers are better than Trump’s — although both are negative.

Fifth news item

Accepting arrest warrants as ID:

Sixth news item


Among the records that Donald Trump’s lawyers tried to shield from Jan. 6 investigators are a draft executive order that would have directed the defense secretary to seize voting machines and a document titled “Remarks on National Healing.”

The draft executive order shows that the weeks between Election Day and the Capitol attack could have been even more chaotic than they were. It credulously cites conspiracy theories about election fraud in Georgia and Michigan, as well as debunked notions about Dominion voting machines.

The order empowers the defense secretary to “seize, collect, retain and analyze all machines, equipment, electronically stored information, and material records required for retention under” a U.S. law that relates to preservation of election records. It also cites a lawsuit filed in 2017 against Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

Additionally, the draft order would have given the defense secretary 60 days to write an assessment of the 2020 election. That suggests it could have been a gambit to keep Trump in power until at least mid-February of 2021.

Seventh news item

It’s 2022, this fool doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt from me. There’s a reason why he deleted this tweet:


Sort of related:

New York Democratic congressman Mondaire Jones said on Thursday that “we are living through the worst assault on the right to vote since Jim Crow. And yesterday, on the Senate floor, white nationalists used the Jim Crow filibuster to block voting-rights legislation.”

Last week, a different New York House Democrat, Jamaal Bowman, called Arizona senator Kyrsten Sinema a “traitor” to “our democracy.”

Nice inclusive party the Dems have there…

Eighth news item

Postively, I’d be waaaaaayy more upset that a parent at my kid’s school felt okay about making this threat rather than my kid having to mask up:

The Luray Police Department charged a woman who made a perceived threat at Thursday night’s Page County School Board meeting.

According to police, Amelia King, 42, was charged with a violation of the Code of Virginia 18.2-60 Oral Threat While on School Property.

The Page County School Board met Thursday night to vote in favor of Governor Glenn Youngkin’s executive order, making masks a choice for students.

During the public comment period, King said, “No mask mandates. My child, my children will not come to school on Monday with a mask on. Alright? That’s not happening. And I will bring every single gun loaded and ready.”

Video below:


Simply the best:

Have a great weekend!


Yes, DeSantis Did Indeed Falsely Suggest That Vaccines Harm Fertility

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am

This is the conclusion of the Washington Post from DeSantis’s remarks yesterday, and I think they’re right:

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), a foe of vaccine mandates, appeared to suggest Thursday that getting a shot to protect against the coronavirus could cause infertility.

“Think about how ridiculous it is what they’re doing by trying to force the nurses” to get immunized, he said in a speech announcing funding for nursing certification programs. “A lot of these nurses have had covid. A lot of them are younger. Some of them are trying to have families.”

But there is no evidence that getting vaccinated against the coronavirus makes it harder to conceive, according to a study released Thursday of heterosexual couples trying for pregnancy. DeSantis could not be immediately reached for a comment on his remarks.

Some of my conservative friends think that the Post is engaged in a bit of mind-reading here, and that he was talking about the fact that job loss due to a vaccine mandate is difficult for a family contemplating having kids. My friend Joe Cunningham has a post at RedState where he supports this interpretation with the full DeSantis quote, which he believes exculpates DeSantis. Joe’s post is titled The Washington Post Invents a Vaccine Claim Ron DeSantis Didn’t Make. Here is his central argument (visit his post for the full argument and the links):

Nowhere in this quote does DeSantis suggest that getting the COVID-19 vaccine can affect fertility.

The speech, which was given at an event where DeSantis announced $2.3 million for nursing and vocational programs, focused on the critical medical worker shortage seen not just in Florida but around the country. The Post, as well as MSNBC and other outlets, are cutting off a key sentence from the DeSantis quote. A local outlet in Florida gives you the context you need.

“Think about how ridiculous it is what they’re doing by trying to force the nurses with these vaxes you know a lot of these nurses have had COVID, a lot of them are younger, some of them, they’re trying to have families, there’s a whole bunch of things that they have going on and so they don’t want to be forced to do it,” DeSantis said. “You see the shortages in there anyways, and now that is adding to it.”

In one sentence, it’s clear that DeSantis is talking about how vaccine mandates will only make a shortage of nurses worse. Young nurses who are wanting to get married and start families are getting let go because they aren’t getting vaccinated. It’s a controversial policy because on one hand, potentially spreading the virus from staff to patients is a medical and legal nightmare, but on the other hand, you’re looking at a shortage of nurses because of the virus and other circumstances already and letting more go only hurts the quality of care you can give.

DeSantis is looking at the mathematical equation here and deciding that it’s silly to look at a health care worker shortage and think “We need more barriers to work,” which is not an unreasonable conclusion to draw.

Interesting defense, but I think ultimately it does not hold water. Go back to the original DeSantis quote that the Washington Post cited as its evidence, and ask yourself: does he appear to be listing reasons it’s bad for nurses to lose their jobs — or he is listing reasons that people might not want to get vaccinated?

Think about how ridiculous it is what they’re doing by trying to force the nurses with these vaxes. You know, a lot of these nurses have had COVID, a lot of them are younger, some of them, they’re trying to have families, there’s a whole bunch of things that they have going on and so they don’t want to be forced to do it

DeSantis lists three factors he thinks are significant: 1) many of the nurses have had COVID already; 2) many of them are younger; and 3) some of them are trying to have families. The last phrase — “so they don’t want to be forced to do it” — to me is the key context showing why DeSantis is listing reasons people might want to forego vaccines. But even leaving that contextual phrase out of the mix, look at each of the factors.

The mention of their having had COVID is more consistent with him giving a list of reasons they do not want to be vaccinated than it is with him giving a list of reasons that being laid off will be tough on them. Why would having had COVID make it tougher for them to leave their job than someone who has not had COVID? He is citing COVID because he thinks natural immunity is a reason not to get the vaccine.

So is his mention of their being young. It’s easier to get another job as a young person than as an older person. Youth is not factor that aggravates the loss of a job. He cites youth not because he is listing reasons it sucks to lose your job; he is listing reasons people might legitimately (in his view) not want or need a vaccine. “So they don’t want to be forced to do it.” And one of those is that they want to have a family.

It is a suggestion that vaccination harms fertility. And this conclusion is only bolstered by his persistent refusal to say whether he is boosted.

This is a “gutless” (thank you, Donald Trump) pander to anti-vaxxers because of DeSantis’s presidential aspirations. That, too, is consistent with his citing a well-known conspiracy theory about vaccines and fertility.

Nice try at a defense, fellas, but I don’t buy it.

So far DeSantis has refused to comment on this. He may end up denying pushing the conspiracy theory — but if he does, I will see it as a walkback. Inevitably, if a clarifying comment is issued, is will be couched in a complaint about the awful liberal media. It will not be a convincing clarification. He will not explain why he cited COVID or youth as relevant factors. That will be the tell.

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