Patterico's Pontifications


Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 4:23 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Let’s go!

First news item

Liz Cheney on refusing to be intimidated:

Republicans used to advocate fidelity to the rule of law and the plain text of the Constitution. In 2020, Mr. Trump convinced many to abandon those principles. He falsely claimed that the election was stolen from him because of widespread fraud. While some degree of fraud occurs in every election, there was no evidence of fraud on a scale that could have changed this one. As the Select Committee will demonstrate in hearings later this year, no foreign power corrupted America’s voting machines, and no massive secret fraud changed the election outcome.

Almost all members of Congress know this—although many lack the courage to say it out loud. Mr. Trump knew it too, from his own campaign officials, from his own appointees at the Justice Department, and from the dozens of lawsuits he lost. Yet, Mr. Trump ignored the rulings of the courts and launched a massive campaign to mislead the public. Our hearings will show that these falsehoods provoked the violence on Jan. 6. Mr. Trump’s lawyers have begun to pay the price for spreading these lies.

The Jan. 6 investigation isn’t only about the inexcusable violence of that day: It is also about fidelity to the Constitution and the rule of law, and whether elected representatives believe in those things or not. One member of the House Freedom Caucus warned the White House in the days before Jan. 6 that the president’s plans would drive “a stake in the heart of the federal republic.” That was exactly right.

Those who do not wish the truth of Jan. 6 to come out have predictably resorted to attacking the process—claiming it is tainted and political. Our hearings will show this charge to be wrong. We are focused on facts, not rhetoric, and we will present those facts without exaggeration, no matter what criticism we face…

Second news item

President Biden makes a decision about frozen Afghan funds:

President Joe Biden has decided what to do with the $7 billion of the Afghan central bank’s assets sitting frozen in the U.S. banking system. According to reports, the president will split the money down the middle between 9/11 families in America and humanitarian aid in Afghanistan. The billions were frozen after it became clear that the Taliban would seize control of Kabul last year, and the group has urged the U.S. to release all of the funds to help stave off a humanitarian crisis in the nation. But, as first reported by The New York Times on Friday, the Taliban won’t get the money. Biden will sign an executive order later Friday that will designate half the money to humanitarian relief efforts in Afghanistan, and the other $3.5 billion will be used to compensate victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Third news item

President Biden rejects Army’s report on US Afghanistan withdrawal:

From NBC interview with President Biden regarding the Pentagon Afghanistan report

HOLT: It interviewed many military officials and officers who said the administration ignored the handwriting on the wall….

Another described trying to get folks in the embassy ready to evacuate and encountering people who were essentially in denial of the situation. Does any event ring true to you?

BIDEN: No, no. That’s not what i was told.

HOLT: Are you rejecting the conclusions or the accounts that are in this Army report?

BIDEN: Yes, I am.

HOLT: So they’re not true?

BIDEN: I’m rejecting them.

Again, I highly recommend that you read George Packer’s devastating opus on Afghanistan titled “The Betrayal”. It is nothing less than a brutal indictment of President Biden.

About Biden, Packer observes:

“During the 2020 campaign he was seen as deeply empathetic, but the fierce attachments of ‘Middle-Class Joe’ are parochial. They come from personal ties, not universal concerns: his family, his hometown, his longtime advisers, his country, its troops. The Green Beret interpreter and the girl in the unfinished schoolroom now stood outside the circle of empathy.”

Fourth news item

Republican candidates courting kooky MTG for endorsements:

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), the COVID vaccine-hating, conspiracy theory-spewing freshman congresswoman who came to national prominence as a far-right QAnon promoter, is increasingly in demand. This is due in large part to her direct line to former President Trump, and her vast network of small, grassroots donors.

According to four longtime Republican operatives working at senior levels on a variety of competitive GOP primaries across the nation, Greene’s endorsement in competitive 2022 Republican House and Senate primaries is not only considered as welcome, but also as one that should be actively courted—particularly in races where the nominee is likely to be decided by which candidate most animates the ultra-Trumpist grassroots.

According to four longtime Republican operatives working at senior levels on a variety of competitive GOP primaries across the nation, Greene’s endorsement in competitive 2022 Republican House and Senate primaries is not only considered as welcome, but also as one that should be actively courted—particularly in races where the nominee is likely to be decided by which candidate most animates the ultra-Trumpist grassroots.

“If you can’t get Donald Trump, you are going to want to have MTG in your back pocket,” another one of the four operatives…conceded, in discussing the most desired 2022 endorsements today.

Fifth news item

Ramping up:

The Pentagon is sending another 3,000 combat troops to Poland to join 1,700 who already are assembling there in a demonstration of American commitment to NATO allies worried at the prospect of Russia invading Ukraine, a senior defense official said Friday.

The additional soldiers will depart their post at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, over the next couple days and should be in Poland by early next week, according to the defense official, who provided the information under ground rules set by the Pentagon. They are the remaining elements of an infantry brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division.

Their mission will be to train and provide deterrence but not to engage in combat in Ukraine.


US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Russian forces were now “in a position to be able to mount a major military action” in remarks seen as a clear escalation in the urgency of warnings from US officials.

“We obviously cannot predict the future, we don’t know exactly what is going to happen, but the risk is now high enough and the threat is now immediate enough that [leaving] is prudent,” he said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the increase in Russian forces at the border was “very troubling signs of Russian escalation”.

“We’re in a window when an invasion could begin at any time, and to be clear, that includes during the Olympics [which end on 20 February],” Mr Blinken said.

Note: President Biden has said that he would not send troops to rescue any citizens left stranded in the event of Russian action.

Sixth news item

California dreamin’ turns into a slow-motion suicide:

Right now, in the heart of downtown San Francisco, “the bullshit” the mayor [San Francisco’s London Breed] spoke about is worsening by the day. The city is running a supervised drug consumption site in United Nations Plaza—just blocks away from city hall and the opera house—in flagrant violation of state and federal law. (Two weeks ago, my colleagues and I broke the story. The San Francisco Chronicle confirmed our reporting.) There, city-funded service providers supervise people smoking fentanyl and meth they buy from drug dealers across the street.

The police do nothing. Indeed, the mayor, through the Department of Emergency Management and the Department of Public Health, is running the site.

Tom Wolf, a recovering homeless addict who served on the city’s drug-dealing task force, compared the department to “the mafia.” Everyone sees that the situation is untenable, he added, but “nobody wants to go on record” because “everyone is afraid of the backlash.”

Seventh news item

How Republicans justify the censure of Cheney & Kinzinger:

With very few exceptions, elected Republicans lack the integrity or courage to stand up for Cheney, Kinzinger, or Pence. Instead, they’ve been inventing excuses for the censure, for Trump’s attempts to block the peaceful transfer of power, and for burying the Jan. 6th investigation. Here’s what they’re saying.

1. Cheney and Kinzinger deserved censure because they voted to impeach Trump…
2. Cheney and Kinzinger are part of a plot to sabotage the GOP…
3. Who are we to judge the RNC?…

Read the whole thing to learn how the author qualifies his list.

Eighth news item

California Democrats read the writing on the wall:

For months, a nationwide parental backlash to school closings has dominated headlines and driven speculation about a brewing electoral wave for Republicans. But what’s happening in deep-blue San Francisco complicates that picture:

Here, a liberal school board is colliding with a group of angry, just-as-liberal parents who’ve mounted a recall campaign against them.

The city’s Democratic mayor and big media organs have endorsed the recall effort. So has state Sen. SCOTT WIENER, who is eyeing Speaker NANCY PELOSI’s congressional seat when she retires.
What’s happening in San Francisco is the clearest sign of how Democrats are recalibrating — by backing away from the party’s 2020 swing toward progressive activist views on Covid-19, race and crime.

It’s happening throughout the Golden State. Gov. GAVIN NEWSOM is lifting mask mandates. Rep. KAREN BASS, who is running for mayor of Los Angeles, called this week for a surge in funding for L.A.’s police force because residents “don’t feel safe today.” Over and over, progressive shibboleths are being dispensed with in one of the most reliably Democratic places in the country.

Which brings us back to Tuesday’s election in San Francisco. Three members of the S.F. Board of Education — GABRIELA LÓPEZ, ALISON COLLINS and FAAUUGA MOLIGA — are facing the first recalls to qualify for the ballot in the city since 1983, when the White Panthers tried to recall then-Mayor DIANNE FEINSTEIN.

It all started when they couldn’t figure out why San Francisco’s public schools remained closed while other cities were sending kids back to in-person learning. So they dialed into the city’s Board of Education meetings — and, like a lot of other parents, were annoyed at what they saw:

*A massive budget shortfall.
*An inordinate amount of time and energy spent on a plan to rename 44 school buildings, including those honoring GEORGE WASHINGTON, ABRAHAM LINCOLN and Feinstein.
*Eliminating the merit-based admissions process at Lowell High School and transforming the coveted academic destination to a lottery so that it would better reflect the diversity of the city’s overall student population.
*A two-hour debate over whether SETH BRENZEL, a father who happens to be white and gay, brought enough diversity to be allowed to join a volunteer parental advisory committee. During the discussion, the board failed to ask Brenzel a single question, then blocked his appointment.

Ninth news item

Unfortunately, there will always be ugly bigots and racists, and there will always be people and organizations that protect them:

A Jewish high school student said he couldn’t believe what was going on when a history teacher in a wealthy Alabama school system had classmates stand and give a stiff-armed Nazi salute during a lesson on the way symbols change.

Once he shared a video and photos of the incident on social media, Ephraim Tytell said, he received a reprimand from school administrators in Mountain Brook, a suburb of Birmingham.

The point of the lesson, Tytell said, was that something very similar to what’s now widely known as a Nazi salute was used before World War II to salute the U.S. flag. Called the “Bellamy Salute” for decades, it was ditched in 1942 for the now-familiar right-hand-over-the-heart gesture after the United States’ entry into the war.

“He explained to us that in America we used to do that before WWII and everything, and then he proceeded to show us, ask us to stand up to salute the flag, and he and everyone else did the Nazi salute,” Ephraim said. “I felt upset, unsure of what’s going on —just kind of shocked.”

Tenth news item

Moving forward:

School districts around the country are rapidly rolling back Covid-19 policies that have built up over nearly two years, with many eyeing a return to more normal classroom life and operations as infection rates fall and fewer students and teachers miss class.

The number of Americans with new cases of the virus fell to 202,001 on Feb. 9, down from 860,860 four weeks earlier, on Jan. 12, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. Estimates show that the Omicron variant was likely responsible for 99.9% of Covid-19 infections in the week ended Jan. 29, according to the CDC.

Have a great weekend!


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