Patterico's Pontifications


Republicans: Not All Lies Are Equal…Especially If Our Jobs Might Be Jeopardized

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:05 am

[guest post by Dana]

Earlier this week, Rep. Madison Cawthorne made some pretty wild claims about his colleagues in office:

Cawthorn frustrated GOP colleagues after he appeared on the “Warrior Poet Society” podcast last week and said that racy elements of the Netflix television drama House of Cards are not far from reality.

“All of the sudden you get invited to, ‘Well hey, we’re going to have kind of a sexual get together at one of our homes, you should come’ … You realize they are asking you to come to an orgy,” Cawthorn said. He added that he has seen people who advocate against addiction doing “key bumps of cocaine.”

This wasn’t the only questionable thing Cawthorne has recently said or done:

Earlier this month, Cawthorn called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a “thug,” which McCarthy had previously said was “wrong.” Cawthorn also likely broke House rules when he brought Tennessee Republican House candidate Robby Starbuck onto the House floor in February. And he was recently charged for driving with a revoked license, as well as for speeding in two different counties.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy wasn’t having it. Yesterday he came down on the new representative, saying that:

…Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s (R-N.C.) allegations of being invited to orgies and seeing people do cocaine were unfounded and that he would not rule out further disciplinary action for the 26-year-old freshman member.

“He’s got to turn himself around,” McCarthy told reporters, addressing a meeting he had with Cawthorn that morning…

McCarthy said Cawthorn gave him no evidence to back up that characterization. The explanation for the cocaine allegation was that “he thinks he saw maybe a staffer in the parking garage from 100 yards away.”

“This is unacceptable, there’s no evidence to this,” McCarthy said. “That’s not becoming of a congressman. He did not tell the truth.”

Asked if Cawthorn could face penalties from the House Republican conference such as being removed from his committee posts, McCarthy said that there are “a lot of different things that could happen.”

“He’s lost my trust, and he’s gonna have to earn it back,” McCarthy said. “You can’t just say, ‘You can’t do this again.’ I mean, he’s got — he’s got a lot of members very upset. He can’t just make statements.”

Of course he’s right that Cawthorn’s behavior is not becoming to a congressman. And certainly, the bogus claims cast fellow members in an ugly light. So good for McCarthy to call him out. Yet, what does it say about McCarthy and the Republican Party – especially as members and senators who have voiced complaint about Cawthorn’s smear yet any number of them defended Trump, who continues to do far worse than this chump? Certainly, Trump did not immediately receive the same level of excoriation from the collective Republican Party. And that continues to be a big problem. Even the Jan. 6 rioters didn’t even receive a Cawthorn-level of condemnation from a wide swath of the Republican Party. It speaks to the continuing misplaced priorities by Republicans who hypocritically do whatever is necessary to protect their own political futures no matter the cost. Essentially, a goober like Cawthorne makes outlandish claims and is publicly and correctly called on the carpet while Republican leadership has defended, ignored, and hesitated in saying anything to a far, far more powerful individual spreading an even more grotesque lie that besmirches the whole party. And a lie that actually threatens our democracy. Not a good look, Republicans, and certainly not the way to win back voters who left the party because of said lie. And I doubt Independents now sitting on the fence as the Biden honeymoon came to a screeching end, will be shopping the GOP. In other words, it’s still Trump’s party. When leadership and the party as a whole can publicly say about Trump and his Big Lie what McCarthy said about Cawthorn, that would indicate a solid step on road to redemption:

He’s Trump’s got to turn himself around,” McCarthy told reporters.

“This is unacceptable, there’s no evidence to this,” McCarthy said. “That’s not becoming of a congressman president. He Trump did not tell the truth.”

He’s Trump’s lost my trust, and he’s gonna have to earn it back,” McCarthy said. “You can’t just say, ‘You can’t do this again.’ I mean, he’s Trump’s got — he’s got a lot of members very upset. He Trump can’t just make statements.”



The Sleaziness and Entitlement of Hunter Biden

Filed under: General — JVW @ 4:08 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Not that this comes as a shock to any readers here, but the news about the manifest corruption and general sleaziness of the Biden family — embodied most particularly by First Son Hunter Biden and First Brother James Biden — continues to trickle out in the news. We discussed a while back how the New York Times was at long last forced to acknowledge that, yeah, the computer left in a Delaware repair shop with a harddrive full of sordid photos of Hunter and emails which suggest a hitherto unrealized level of family rottenness, including perhaps involvement by The Big Guy, likely does indeed legitimately belong to Mr. R. Hunter Biden.

Now comes the Washington Post, a notorious water-carrying outlet for Democrats and progressive policy which pretends to be a just-the-facts journalism shop, probably having concluded that there is no longer any advantage to protecting the heavily-compromised First Family and thus now willing to report on emerging details of their connection to troublesome overseas agents. In a story published today, which for the time being seems to be available to non-subscribers, they lay out the details

The deal was years in the making, the culmination of forging contacts, hosting dinners, of flights to and from China. But on Aug. 2, 2017, signatures were quickly affixed, one from Hunter Biden, the other from a Chinese executive named Gongwen Dong.

Within days, a new Cathay Bank account was created. Within a week, millions of dollars started to change hands.

Within a year, it would all begin to collapse.

The article catalogs Hunter Biden’s business deals with an outfit called CEFC China Energy, the outline of which has been known since at least 2020 when a GOP Senate report mentioned the arrangement. But it would seem that very recently the office of Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has released financial information listing the payments that the Biden Boys received from the contract: a $1 million retainer and $3.8 million in consulting fees to various enterprises led by Hunter and James Biden, despite the fact that, as the Post puts it, “[t]he potential energy projects Hunter Biden discussed with CEFC never came to fruition.” That didn’t stop Patrick Ho, another CEFC exec, from invoking the retainer when he was arrested in the U.S. for masterminding a bribery scheme and demanding help from the son of the then-former Vice President of the United States. (It should be noted that the seeds of the Biden Family-CEFC China Energy partnership germinated while Joe Biden was still serving alongside of President Barack Obama.) Patrick Ho was ultimately represented in his criminal case by Edward Y. Kim, an attorney at Krieger Kim and former Assistant U.S. Attorney, with Ho being found guilty and sentenced to three years imprisonment.

Ho’s downfall, and the early 2018 detainment in China of CEFC Chairman Ye Jianming (who had earlier gifted Hunter a diamond reportedly worth $80,000) on the suspicion of unnamed “economic crimes,” seems to have precipitated the fall of CEFC China Energy. But before things circled down the drain, there was one more opportunity for looting. The Post explains:

By March 2018, Hunter Biden’s uncle was seeking access to the $1 million retainer that he was owed for the Ho representation. James Biden on March 21, 2018, wrote to CEFC officials with “wiring instructions,” providing the address and routing numbers for how to transfer to the account linked to Hunter Biden.

“Received and will take care of this ASAP,” Mervyn Yan, one of the CEFC officials, wrote back in a verified email.

[. . .]

JiaQi Bao, an assistant with whom Hunter Biden had worked closely on CEFC business, wrote in a March 26, 2018, email that the company was being dissolved and she would lose her job — but that Hunter Biden should “take whatever money you can take, as long as the money is available to claim.”

“Take as much as possible, or figure out a way to spend them for your own benefit,” she wrote.

Bao did not respond to numerous phone and email messages.

Over the next six months, nearly $1.4 million was transferred to Hunter Biden’s account, according to bank records.

The story also contains telling character details regarding Hunter Biden, pertaining to arguments he had with his partners over his questionable expense reports; his threat to sue them in Delaware court where, he warned them, he was “privileged to have worked with and know every judge in the chancery court”; and his employment of Lunden Roberts, the Arkansas stripper who would give birth to Hunter’s daughter (the New York Post claims that to this day Hunter Biden has never met his youngest daughter).

One very small but it seems to me significant item is buried deep within the Washington Post’s story. When moving into new offices in the Swedish Embassy, Hunter Biden made an eye-raising request [bolded emphasis by me]:

On Sept. 21, 2017, Hunter Biden wrote to a building manager requesting new office signage to reflect a new family enterprise and a new business relationship: “The Biden Foundation and Hudson West (CEFC- US),” he wrote in emails to the property manager.

He also requested keys for his new office mates: his father, Joe; his mother, Jill; his uncle James; and the Chinese executive, Gongwen Dong.

As part of the request, he provided what he said was his father’s cellphone number, saying an office representative could use it to contact his new office mates.

Though Joe Biden apparently never picked up the office key his son had cut for him, how does Hunter’s request square with the White House’s insistence that Joe Biden had nothing at all whatsoever to do with his son’s shady business dealings?


Sen. Cruz To President Trump: Sure, I’d Be Willing To Help Overturn The Election

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:43 pm

[guest post by Dana]

This week, the Washington Post reported that Sen. Ted Cruz told then-President Donald Trump that he would help with efforts to overturn the 2020 election results:

Sen. Ted Cruz was dining near the Capitol on the evening of Dec. 8, 2020, when he received an urgent call from President Donald Trump. A lawsuit had just been filed at the Supreme Court designed to overturn the election Trump had lost, and the president wanted help from the Texas Republican.

“Would you be willing to argue the case?” Trump asked Cruz, as the senator later recalled it.

“Sure, I’d be happy to” if the court granted a hearing, Cruz said he responded.

The call was just one step in a collaboration that for two months turned the once-bitter political enemies into close allies in the effort to keep Trump in the White House based on the president’s false claims about a stolen election. By Cruz’s own account, he was “leading the charge” to prevent the certification of Joe Biden as president.

An examination by The Washington Post of Cruz’s actions between Election Day and Jan. 6, 2021, shows just how deeply he was involved, working directly with Trump to concoct a plan that came closer than widely realized to keeping him in power. As Cruz went to extraordinary lengths to court Trump’s base and lay the groundwork for his own potential 2024 presidential bid, he also alienated close allies and longtime friends who accused him of abandoning his principles.

As a result of this, the Jan. 6 Committee is very interested in the details of Cruz’s efforts on behalf of Trump:

As [John] Eastman outlined a scenario in which Vice President Mike Pence could deny certifying Biden’s election, Cruz crafted a complementary plan in the Senate. He proposed objecting to the results in six swing states and delaying accepting the electoral college results on Jan. 6 in favor of a 10-day “audit” — thus potentially enabling GOP state legislatures to overturn the result. Ten other senators backed his proposal, which Cruz continued to advocate on the day rioters attacked the Capitol.

The committee’s interest in Cruz is notable as investigators zero in on how closely Trump’s allies coordinated with members of Congress in the attempt to block or delay certifying Biden’s victory. If Cruz’s plan worked, it could have created enough chaos for Trump to remain in power.

U.S. Appeals Court Judge J. Michael Luttig, for whom both Eastman and Cruz clerked, said that he believes that Cruz played a prominent role leading up to the events of Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol:

“Once Ted Cruz promised to object, January 6 was all but foreordained, because Cruz was the most influential figure in the Congress willing to force a vote on Trump’s claim that the election was stolen,” Luttig said in a statement to The Post. “He was also the most knowledgeable of the intricacies of both the Electoral Count Act and the Constitution, and the ways to exploit the two.”

In light of this report, it’s just more than a bit rich and tone-deaf to read that Cruz, responding to Nancy Pelosi’s comment about the upcoming midterms (“It is absolutely essential for our democracy that we [Democrats] win. I fear for our democracy if the Republicans were ever to get the gavel”), responded thusly:

“They know they’re gonna lose and Nancy Pelosi’s not gonna go quietly. She’s gonna scream, she’s already preparing to scream the election was stolen. And by the way, what she means by ‘stolen’ is people showed up to vote against Democrats. That’s what stealing the election is. And remember, Democrats don’t believe in democracy.”

C’mon, we can all see that Pelosi didn’t say a word about a stolen election [if Democrats lost]. While Cruz’s statement was a dishonest reading of what Pelosi said, he also conveniently ignored that it is he who has misleadingly “screamed” about the election results and “led the charge” to prevent Joe Biden from being certified as president. And just because Cruz and his Republican cronies pushed the Big Lie about a stolen election and made plans to overturn the results doesn’t mean that Democrats will stoop as low [if they lose the midterms].

Geez, for a really smart guy, he sounds pretty dumb at times.



On MIT’s Decision to Bring Back College Board Testing Requirements

Filed under: General — JVW @ 4:39 pm

[guest post by JVW]

From time to time I am called upon to defend the virtue of my alma mater, so here goes.

There seems to be a great deal of chatter about the recently-announced decision from MIT to once again require that all applicants for admission take either the SAT or the ACT exam at least once, after having suspended the requirement for the past two years. Many of those who are generally critical of the incessant wokeness these days in higher education (like me!) are enjoying a triumphant moment of “See! This is what happens when you lower admission standards in the name of diversity!” As you may recall the University of California system spent years trying to junk standardized college board test requirements, and finally got its wish when a judge ruled that making the tests “optional” but still considering them as part of an applicant’s qualification was discriminatory towards those who had lesser access to the tests. The Democrat-appointed Board of Regents for the University of California had already determined that the tests would no longer be required starting in 2023, so the SAT and ACT evaluations are effectively dead for UC applicants.

But this isn’t what happened at MIT. Unlike the UC system, there was no widespread movement among faculty or the administration to junk the college board tests. MIT simply suspended the requirement that applicants submit those test scores starting in the spring of 2020. If I can take you back in time a couple of years, you might recall that was when COVID lockdowns began being implemented and as a result the companies that administer the ACT and SAT cancelled all of their scheduled testing sessions for April and May, which is the optimal time for high school juniors to take those exams (before summer recess when, presumably, the brain atrophies a certain amount). When the companies resumed testing that summer, the sessions — limited in size due to social-distancing requirements and not available in all locations thanks to local COVID restrictions — were highly sought after and plenty of students who wanted to take the test were unable to register in time for a session. Thus, the Institute declared that they would waive the testing requirement for the class of 2025 (the class of 2024 had already been admitted before the lockdowns hit). The next year, when it was time for the prospective class of 2026 to take the exams as high school juniors, COVID regulations in many parts of the country continued to make test registration difficult, especially for students in “underserved” communities, and the Institute extended the waiver for that class as well. Students who were able to take the college board exams were welcome to submit their scores along with their application, but no applicant was required to do so. This was never about the merits of the tests themselves; it was only about whether all applicants had fair access to them.

So now with the pandemic in the rear-view mirror (I am furiously knocking wood right now) it simply makes sense for MIT to once again require them for the prospective class of 2027 who will be applying for admission later this coming fall. One of the most remarkable parts of MIT’s announcement that they would be re-instituting the requirement — one that the anti-woke crowd ought to have been focusing upon rather than making specious claims that MIT had deliberately tried to subvert the SAT and ACT as legitimate screening tools — was the following [bolded emphasis from me]:

To be clear, performance on standardized tests is not the central focus of our holistic admissions process. We do not prefer people with perfect scores; indeed, despite what some people infer from our statistics, we do not consider an applicant’s scores at all beyond the point where preparedness has been established as part of a multifactor analysis. Nor are strong scores themselves sufficient: our research shows students also need to do well in high school and have a strong match for MIT, including the resilience to rebound from its challenges, and the initiative to make use of its resources. That’s why we don’t select students solely on how well they score on the tests, but only consider scores to the extent they help us feel more confident about an applicant’s preparedness⁠ to not just to survive, but thrive, at MIT.

At the same time, standardized tests also help us identify academically prepared, socioeconomically disadvantaged students who could not otherwise demonstrate readiness⁠ because they do not attend schools that offer advanced coursework, cannot afford expensive enrichment opportunities, cannot expect lengthy letters of recommendation from their overburdened teachers, or are otherwise hampered by educational inequalities.⁠ By using the tests as a tool⁠ in the service of our mission, we have helped improve the diversity of our undergraduate population⁠ while student academic outcomes at MIT have gotten better,⁠ too; our strategic and purposeful use of testing has been crucial to doing both simultaneously.⁠

This is such an important point that needs to be understood by people outside of the MIT community: It really isn’t necessarily the student who scores a 1600 on the SAT or a 36 on the ACT whose MIT application benefits from taking those exams. Every year there are students with perfect college board scores who are not offered admission to the Institute, and that was true even back in my day when far fewer students attained perfect scores. The student who truly benefits from having their college board scores included is that student from a lower-performing school district who scores a 1450 on the SAT or a 31 on the ACT (the the median scores for MIT students are 1510 and 34, respectively). This suggests to the admissions office that even though the student might not have access to a top-flight high school curriculum, they appear to have the basic aptitude to withstand the rigors of an MIT education. And finding these students actually increases the number of students from lower socio-economic backgrounds in each admitted class, making MIT one of the most diverse institutions of higher education in the nation and world.

Believe me, there are plenty of instances in which wokeness is creeping into life at MIT, and there is a strong contingent of alumnae and alumni who are pushing back against it. But MIT has not succumbed to the ridiculous anti-testing mania that afflicts the UC system — and for the time being much of the Ivy League — and in fact the Institute sees a strong value in requiring that applicants take these exams as it turns out to be a valuable way for the admissions office to find that “diamond in the rough.” What ought to be of real interest in this story is that MIT is swimming against the trendy academic current in asserting that the tests serve a useful need in predicting a student’s future success in an education strongly geared towards quantitative reasoning, and that college board tests help — not hinder — efforts to maintain a diverse student body.


The Obligatory Will Smith Take

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:28 am

I almost want to refuse to have one. But fine.

Will Smith got away with something that non-famous people would have been arrested for. Non-celebrity walks up on stage and slaps Chris Rock, non-celebrity gets arrested.

People act like this is how the elite rub each other’s backs. But the rabble behaves the same way. If Smith were arrested, there’s a decent chance the jury would acquit him and ask for his autograph afterwards. Or, nowadays, a selfie.

Americans like to pretend they have no royalty. They do. It’s famous people.


Federal Judge Rules Trump “Corruptly Attempted To Obstruct Congress”

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:06 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Just quickly putting up a fresh thread here. You can continue to talk about The Slap in the Weekend Open Thread if you want.

A federal judge has ruled that Trump “likely” committed a crime in an attempt to overturn the election:

A federal judge ruled Monday that former President Donald Trump likely “corruptly attempted to obstruct” Congress from certifying the 2020 election, in a case over whether a House committee will receive a lawyer’s emails while investigating the attack on the Capitol.

The illegality of the plan was obvious,” U.S. District Judge David Carter in California wrote in approving the transfer of John Eastman’s emails to the committee. “Based on the evidence, the Court finds it more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021.”


“If Dr. Eastman and President Trump’s plan had worked, it would have permanently ended the peaceful transition of power, undermining American democracy and the Constitution,” Carter wrote. “If the country does not commit to investigating and pursuing accountability for those responsible, the Court fears January 6 will repeat itself.”

Note: The remarkable ruling may be the first in history in which a federal judge determined a president, while in office, appeared to commit a crime.

After the judge’s ruling, Dr. Eastman’s lawyer said that while his client disagrees with the ruling, he would comply with the court’s order.

Trump’s team reacted to Judge Carter’s ruling as you would expect:

Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich called the decision “absurd” and “baseless” from a judge appointed by Democratic President Bill Clinton.

“The January 6 Committee, and related proceedings, is a circus of partisanship that is exposing public officials at every level of government for their willingness to put politics ahead of the law and the Constitution,” Budowich said.

And for those who may be suspicious of Judge Carter because Trump, you might want to take a gander at his biography here.

As far as I can see, Trump himself has not responded to the ruling. In fact, he seems to be more interested in debating his rally attendance numbers:

We had a massive crowd last night in Georgia, but as usual, the Fake News Media absolutely refuses to show it. People are estimating 25,000 to 35,000 people, but our record so far is Texas with 87,000 people with 50,000 being turned away. This is really fun!



On Orban, Hungary, Ukraine, Putin, and Russia

Filed under: General — JVW @ 6:55 am

[guest post by JVW]

OK, it’s obvious that I am the Orban-friendly blogger here, and I am a big fan of Hungary and the Hungarian people. Let me address this whole notion that Viktor Orban is “pro Putin” which has become a recurring theme in the West recently (and has been repeated in the weekend open thread comments) because I think it’s nonsense.

Orban, it is true, has been far less critical of the Russian invasion than a number of other NATO countries. Nevertheless, Orban did speak out against the Russian invasion of Ukraine and he pledged support for NATO sanctions against Russia. Also, Hungary has done its duty in accepting refugees from Ukraine, including providing them free rail transport through the country to whatever destination they are headed. But given the fact that they are a mere 800 miles from the Russian border and only about 7.5% the size of Russia in population, it’s kind of understandable that Hungary doesn’t want to be at the forefront of anti-Russia and anti-Putin sentiment. If the United States, Germany, France, and Britain don’t want to intervene militarily in this Russia-Ukraine war, why would a nation like Hungary push its way to the front of the line to antagonize a nation fifteen times its size and with the same proximity as Los Angeles has to the California-Oregon border? Especially one who is a far more important trading partner than Ukraine is.

And why is the media suddenly flush with stories about how Viktor Orban is allegedly turning his back on the West and trying to ingratiate himself with Vladimir Putin? Do you think it might have something to do with the fact that a parliamentary election in Hungary will be held one week from Sunday and for the first time in twelve years Orban’s Fidesz Party is facing a unified and motivated opposition which could conceivably challenge it? Is it possible that the academic/bureaucratic/media left, about whom we complain so much in the U.S., is perhaps flooding the worldwide press with anti-Orban stories precisely to weaken his electoral prospects next week? Or is this all one giant coincidence that has nothing to do with the visceral hatred that the EU elite have for Orban and the rest of the populist right? And is it fair to note that so much of the bad press about Orban and Fidesz which appears in Western media comes from the various Hungarian opposition parties and from people who have directly or indirectly received a paycheck from George Soros?

Hungary and Ukraine have had their own squabbles, not the least of which is that Ukraine — just like its neighbor to the west — has been assertive in wanting to preserve its own historic culture, which includes imposing the Ukrainian language upon the Hungarian-speaking people on the Ukrainian side of the shared border. There’s also naturally a longstanding cultural split between Roman Catholic Hungary and Eastern Orthodox Ukraine. But before we go about playing the tired and banal game of “Vlodymyr Zelenskyy = good guy, Viktor Orban = bad guy,” let’s be sure we’re making a fair comparison. Both of them have understandably been criticized for failing to curb the cronyism rampant in their respective country’s junction between government and private interests (the same could easily be said of any Western country); both of them have been accused of using their office to accrue power and solidify their hold on power; yet only one of them has used his office to shut down opposition media (this being a full year before the Russian invasion), and it was not the guy in Budapest.

I will repeat what I wrote more than nineteen months ago: Hungary needs to prepare itself for a post-Orban period, which should probably come after Prime Minister Orban serves his final five-year term after being returned to office next weekend. Seventeen years as PM is more than enough for Mr. Orban to set a direction for his country which he can claim is worthy of its eleven centuries of existence. But between now and then, don’t think for one moment that the incessant anti-Orban stories in the media aren’t a coordinated campaign from unreliable and antagonistic sources, designed to sway elite Western opinion away from a country and a leader whom Brussels, Berlin, and Paris can’t seem to control.



Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:37 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Like many of you, it’s just been gutting to see so many Ukrainian children caught up in Putin’s war. Yet in the turmoil, there are some positive reports. Hundreds of orphans – the youngest just 35 days old – were evacuated from a Jewish orphanage in Odessa, another group of 54 evacuated orphans have just arrived in the UK, and it has been reported that “a team of US military veterans is helping to organise safe passage for the estimated 200,000 children in Ukraine’s orphanages and foster homes”. God bless the courageous people working around the clock to get these children out of harm’s way. CNBC has a list of the top charities helping the Ukrainian people. Charity Navigator is a handy tool to use to research any charities you are considering. I’ve relied on their help for years and have never been steered wrong.

I just saw this:

I ran the original post through a translator and it said:

In the fall of 2021, the Children’s Rehabilitation Center was opened in Mariupol after reconstruction. We built this modern medical facility together with the European Investment Bank. A place that was designed to save children’s lives, destroyed by those who decided to forcibly “liberate” us. Obviously, to liberate from peace, from development, from such modern rehabilitation centers. Free from the very right to life.

For the occupiers there is no limit to cynicism, there is no limit to cruelty. They don’t care who is in their sights – people, houses, kindergartens, hospitals or the Drama Theater [Ed. 300 killed in Russian bombing].

And while the enemy indifferently destroys Mariupol, the entire civilized world must show the highest degree of consolidation to stop evil. After all, evil never stops itself. And if it is not stopped in Ukraine now, it will come to every European home.

There is so much happening out there now that it’s hard for me to keep up. Consider the following news items mini-appetizers to follow up on if you find them tasty. Here we go!

First news item

Oh dear, Ginni Thomas appears to be bonkers:

In the fall of 2020, after Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in the presidential election, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, repeatedly urged White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to attempt to overturn the election results, according to text messages obtained by congressional investigators.

“Help This Great President stand firm, Mark!!!” Thomas wrote to Meadows on Nov. 10 after the election was officially called for Biden. “You are the leader, with him, who is standing for America’s constitutional governance at the precipice. The majority knows Biden and the Left is attempting the greatest Heist of our History.”

And, as a reminder:

In January, the court declined to block the Jan. 6 committee from obtaining Trump White House records over the objection of only one justice: Clarence Thomas.

“There were some eyebrows raised when Justice Thomas was that lone vote,” said Kate Shaw, ABC News Supreme Court analyst and Cardozo Law professor. “But he did not explain himself, so we don’t actually know why he wished to take up the case.”

Steve Vladeck informs us that there are rules in place about justices avoiding conflicts of interest:

Also, Justice Thomas has now been released from the hospital.

Second news item

Sen. Joe Manchin says he’s a yes vote on Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson:

“After meeting with her, considering her record, and closely monitoring her testimony and questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, I have determined I intend to vote for her nomination to serve on the Supreme Court,” Manchin said in a statement.

Manchin added that Jackson’s “wide array of experiences” in the judicial system provide her with a unique perspective she will bring to the court.

“I am confident Judge Jackson is supremely qualified and has the disposition necessary to serve as our nation’s next Supreme Court Justice,” he wrote.

Third news item

On the non-diversity of diversity:

Similar to the reduction in the types of ideas that are acceptable to teach, the pedagogical techniques that educators are permitted to utilize are becoming less diverse. Educators who don’t adjust their content and assessment strategies to fit with the inclusivity agenda risk pushback from students and their institutions. Because continued employment is increasingly tied to student evaluations, which assess satisfaction rather than learning, those who seek to challenge students to grow rather than stagnate are forced to adjust their practice or leave the university.

Contrary to its intended aims, the inclusivity agenda works to disadvantage all students. Those who came to the classroom equipped to deal with educational hurdles become bored and disengage as their dissatisfaction with completing simple assignments develops into the realization that they have spent their time at university in vapid pursuits. And those who came to the classroom ill-equipped to mount these hurdles will leave still disadvantaged, gaining none of the experience necessary to develop that which they lacked.

Fourth news item

Putin whines about being Russia being canceled, points to J.K.Rowling’s experience:

There is also a campaign against Russian composers including Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich and Rachmaninoff, the Russian president added in a bizarre rant during a televised meeting with cultural figures.

He appeared to be referring in part to the cancellation of events involving Russian music in some Western countries since his invasion of Ukraine.

“Today they are trying to cancel a whole thousand-year culture – our people,” Mr Putin commented.

“They are banning Russian writers and books.”

Regarding JK Rowling, he said the Harry Potter author was cancelled “just because she didn’t satisfy the demands of gender rights”.

However, Rowling wasn’t having it:

It’s really not hard to puzzle out Putin’s current strategery:

Putin is desperate for western allies. So here he is trying to woo American right-wingers by imposing a familiar culture-war template on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. If the people leading the charge against Russia are the same people who hate J.K. Rowling for believing that women and trans women are different, doesn’t that tell you whom you should be rooting for in this war?

By which he means “the side that’s bombing Ukrainian children around the clock.”

Fifth news item

NYC Mayor Eric Adams exempts select groups from vaccine mandate:

Mayor Eric Adams exempted the city’s athletes and performers from the Big Apple’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate on Thursday following weeks of pressure after it kept Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving from playing in home games — and was expected to block some baseball players from taking the field next month.

…Adams said Thursday that he has signed the order. The exemption was effective immediately.

“Being healthy is not just about being physically healthy, but being economically healthy,” he said.

Adams also prefaced his announcement by saying: “I’m going to make some tough choices. People are not going to agree with some of them. I must move this city forward.

“Generals lead from the front. I was not elected to be fearful, but to be fearless.”


Among those who blasted Adams’s decision was the city’s next-highest elected official, fellow Democrat and City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams of Queens, who voiced “serious concerns” over what she called “a step away from following sensible, public health-driven policies that prioritize equity.”

“I’m worried about the increasingly ambiguous messages that are being sent to New Yorkers about public health during this continuing pandemic,” the council speaker said.

“This exemption sends the wrong message that higher-paid workers and celebrities are being valued as more important than our devoted civil servants, which I reject.”

Mayor Adams is facing considerable backlash from various worker groups:

But unions representing other workers, including police officers, firefighters and teachers, are accusing the mayor of a double standard. And in some cases they are threatening legal action.

Adams says he made the decision to help the economy.

“By putting our home teams on equal playing field, we increase their chances of winning and then has a real impact on our city. This is just not fans in the stands but it is people in the stores.”

The mayor is now under fire from virtually every major municipal union.

Unions representing teachers, police, correction officers, EMTs and paramedics want the exemptions extended to city workers.

They’re also calling for fired workers to be called back or compensated for their lost wage.

Sixth news item

Good news:

U.S. defense officials told reporters this week that the Pentagon assesses that Russia has launched more than 1,100 missiles of all kinds since the war began. The U.S. officials have so far not said how many of those hit their targets and how many failed to do so.

Citing U.S. intelligence, three U.S. officials said the United States estimated that Russia’s failure rate varied day-to-day, depended on the type of missile being launched, and could sometimes exceed 50%. Two of them said it reached as high as 60%.

One of the officials said the intelligence showed that Russia’s air-launched cruise missiles had a failure rate in the 20% to 60% range, depending on the day.

More good news:

Russia had lost 530 tanks as of March 24, according to Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including some that were captured by Ukrainian forces.

The ministry also said that more than 15,800 Russian military personnel have been killed since the beginning of the conflict.

Forbes, citing Oryx, a military website that monitors open-source information on social media to work out losses of military equipment during the war, on Friday said that Ukraine has lost at least 74 tanks since Russia started the war on February 24, but it had captured at least 118 Russian tanks. This means that Ukraine has more tanks than it did at the start of the conflict.

Of the 74 lost tanks Ukraine has lost, Russia has captured at least 38, according to Oryx.

Seventh news item

Russian colonel killed by his own forces:

A Russian brigade commander has been killed by his own forces in another indication of boiling discontent among Russian forces deployed in and around Ukraine, Western officials said.

The colonel, commander of the 37th Motor Rifle Brigade, was run over by an armored vehicle and suffered grave injuries to both legs.

“The brigade commander was killed by his own troops, we believe, as a consequence of the scale of losses that have been taken by his brigade,” one official said. “We believe that he was killed by his own troops deliberately. We believe that he was run over by his own troops.”

Eighth news item

Oh boo-hoo, cry me a river:

A sanctioned Russian oligarch has said he’s struggling to pay bills and isn’t sure if he’ll be able to employ a cleaner or driver.

In an interview with the Financial Times published Friday, Petr Aven, whose wealth is estimated by Bloomberg to be around $5.6 billion, said: “We don’t understand how to survive.”

In the interview, Aven also asked the question: “Will I be allowed to have a cleaner, or a driver?” and added: “I don’t drive a car… maybe my stepdaughter will drive.”

Aven was sanctioned by the EU on February 28 and described as “one of Vladimir Putin’s closest oligarchs.” He was also sanctioned by the UK on March 15 because of his complicity in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said at the time.

Screenshot 2022-03-25 at 2.22.10 PM

Have a great weekend!


Joe Biden, Machiavellian Genius

Filed under: General — JVW @ 6:02 am

[guest post by JVW]

Don’t believe it? Yeah, neither really do I. But I am always up for giving due consideration to a writer who puts forward an interesting premise and then does a reasonably solid job of defending it. Writing in The Spectator, John R. MacArthur informs us that, as the title of his piece has it, Joe Biden Is Winning:

The president is a man of limited abilities, especially when it comes to stringing together coherent sentences. But he is nothing if not spectacularly persistent in the one cause that has animated his entire career: maintaining in the Democratic Party a rigid hierarchy with control emanating from the top, never from the hoi polloi and never from rebellious reformers like Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

In Biden’s catechism, rewards and punishment must result from loyalty, irrespective of electoral success. A man of little principle – and no ideology – Biden is the most regular of regular Democrats, a hack politician whose positions on the important issues of the day may gravitate toward the center, but never deviate from his party’s leadership or the Washington “consensus.”

[. . .]

And yet Biden’s disillusioned critics insist that he’s become either a raving lunatic or a hostage to the left. Also that he’s been foiled in his “progressive” push by the intraparty opposition of Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. This is absurd. All the evidence suggests that Biden was in on the foiling from the beginning — that he cleverly lured Sanders, the incoming chairman of the Senate budget committee, into believing he would forcefully support what was, in fact, the Sanders Build Back Better bill. Sanders campaigned hard for Biden because of what he claimed was Trump’s overwhelming threat to democracy, so perhaps he thought the president was indebted to him.

[. . .]

Once in power, the new president got busy doing what he does best – not promoting leftist visions of social and economic justice but dispensing patronage. Quickly jettisoned from the Covid relief bill was the Biden campaign pledge pushed by Sanders, to raise, in stages, the minimum wage to $15 an hour, allegedly because the Senate parliamentarian said it violated Senate rules to include it in a reconciliation bill. No protest from Biden over this technicality, but silent approval from Manchin and Sinema (who thought $15 was too much) and vocal praise from Republicans. Once the relief bill passed, with tiny majorities in the House and Senate powered by unanimous Democrats, whom did Biden reward? Certainly not Sanders. On March 26, Biden nominated Manchin’s wife, Gayle, as co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, a federal agency and a perfect conduit to West Virginia, among thirteen states, through which to funnel pork barrel money from the proposed infrastructure bill.

There’s more, so take the time to read the whole thing (I don’t think this article requires a subscription; apologies if it does). Three-and-a-half decades ago, Saturday Night Life had a (yes, this will be hard to believe) funny send-up of the Reagan Administration, with a President who all hip liberals knew for certain was a doddering old man turning out to be a calculating mastermind hiding behind a facade of genial befuddlement. Ironically enough, one of Ronald Reagan’s strengths ended up being to trick smug elitists into thinking him dull-witted and highly manipulatable during his Presidency, while the record over the past three decades has demonstrated a far more engaged and ideologically-focused chief executive. Will we be saying the same about Joe Biden in 2050? Again, I sort of doubt it, but it’s food for thought.



Yo, Kansas: Good Manners Count For A Whole Lot And Can Keep You From Being a Real Goober

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:51 am

[guest post by Dana]

If you feel an urge to mock someone because they don’t look like you, dress differently from you, and/or are of a different race or culture, maybe take a beat and say nothing. You are not obligated to open your trap and confirm to everyone around you that you are an ignorant fool. Most of us aren’t compelled to mock like that, and yet a number of politicians still don’t seem to understand the concept. It’s like they’re physically unable to keep their yaps shut, even while knowing that the word vomit forming in their pea brains and threatening to spill out of their childish mouths MIGHT BE OFFENSIVE to their intended targets. It’s hard to give these goobers the benefit of the doubt because I think they’re intentionally trying to be cute and get a chuckle out of their supporters at the expense of another individual. Shame on them.

For godsake:

Rep. Ponka-We Victors, a Wichita Democrat, made history Wednesday afternoon as the first Native American woman to serve as chair of the Kansas House of Representatives.

But the moment was tarnished when Rep. John Wheeler, a Garden City Republican, made an insensitive remark during a floor speech.

Wheeler told Victors he was “checking to see if that was a tomahawk” after she struck her gavel to quiet the body. He immediately apologized after the comment was met with a mix of laughter and vocal disapproval.

“I am getting a point that that is apparently considered offensive, if it is I certainly do apologize,” Wheeler said.

Just stop. You’re a grown man and an elected official. This really rubbed me wrong because the young Indian woman was singled out for mockery in front of her peers in a professional setting. And rather than being courteous and taking the opportunity to welcome Victors and offer his congratulations for being the first Native American woman to serve as the Kansas House chair, Wheeler fouled the event by displaying his bigoted underpants. And his “apology” was the weak sauce of playing dumb. He knew better. Own it, dude. Just own it.

NOTE: So, I just read this and to some degree, Wheeler has owned it:

[Wheeler] also said he has apologized to Reps. Christina Haswood, D-Lawrence, and Stephanie Byers, D-Wichita, and would call Victors-Cozad when he returned home.

“The world has changed a lot for this 74-year-old man,” Wheeler said. “I try to keep up, but today I had a slip.”

Here’s the bottom line: no matter his age and whether or not he is a true bigot, had he just used self-control and good manners, Victors would not have been humiliated.


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