Patterico's Pontifications

4/29/2022

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:26 am



[guest post by Dana]

I’ll just go ahead and post this early since there isn’t a new post up this morning. These are a few news items from the past week or so that might be of interest to you. Remember, these are just appetizers. It would be beneficial to read the linked reports in full. Anyway, feel free to share any items you think might interest other readers. Please make sure to include links.

Let’s go!

First news item

Russia’s rumblings:

Russia’s military believes that limiting the war’s initial goals is a serious error. They now argue that Russia is not fighting Ukraine, but NATO. Senior officers have therefore concluded that the Western alliance is fighting all out (through the supply of increasingly sophisticated weaponry) while its own forces operate under peacetime constraints like a bar on airstrikes against some key areas of Ukraine’s infrastructure. In short, the military now demands all-out war, including mobilization.

The frustration is becoming so intense that it has spilled over into the public space. Alexander Arutyunov (aka, the blogger RAZVEDOS), a well-known veteran of Spetsnaz of the National Guard, made a video plea to Putin: “Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich, please decide, are we fighting a war or are we masturbating?”

He demanded a massive escalation, with a choice of airstrikes on  Ukrainian infrastructure or an end to the war. The video went viral, especially with pro-military groups on VK and those Telegram channels affiliated with the Russian army.

Ukrainians can’t afford for us to turn away from their plight:

Outside Ukraine, Zelensky told me, “People see this war on Instagram, on social media. When they get sick of it, they will scroll away.” It’s human nature. Horrors have a way of making us close our eyes. “It’s a lot of blood,” he explains. “It’s a lot of emotion.” Zelensky senses the world’s attention flagging, and it troubles him nearly as much as the Russian bombs. Most nights, when he scans his agenda, his list of tasks has less to do with the war itself than with the way it is perceived. His mission is to make the free world experience this war the way Ukraine does: as a matter of its own survival.

Second news item

This not a good idea:

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas confirmed that his department is in talks to divert Veterans Affairs (VA) resources, doctors and nurses to help care for illegal immigrants Wednesday.

…House Appropriations Committee. Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, pressed Mayorkas to answer whether the resources would be diverted as part of the DHS plan to address an expected spike in migration.

“We’ve heard that the administration is considering removing health care providers from the VA, for example, doctors and nurses whose taxpayer dollars and their intent is to help care for our veterans.
So my question to you today is yes or no: Is the Department of Homeland Security planning to reallocate resources, doctors and nurses from our VA system intended to care for our veterans to help care for illegal immigrants at our southern border?”

After trying to avoid a direct yes or no answer, Mayorkas gave an inch:

“Congresswoman, the resources that the medical personnel from the Veterans Administration would allocate to this effort is under the judgment of the secretary of Veterans Affairs, who prioritizes the interests of veterans above all others for very noble and correct.”

Hinson then pressed him once again on whether he was aware of any conversations he or others at the DHS have had about reallocating VA resources.

“I have not personally. But of course, our teams, our personnel have. And I’d be very pleased to follow up with you,” he responded.

Limited and vital resources for our veterans should not be reallocated:

VA health officials have predicted a significant rise in appointment requests in coming months, as pandemic conditions across the country improve and more veterans resume deferred care.

That in turn has raised concerns about pressure on the VA health care system, and whether veterans could see a significant increase in the time it takes to schedule appointments.

Health officials have touted new pandemic telehealth options within the department as a way to help ease the burden on facilities facing increased requests. But lawmakers this week noted that in rural areas — locations with some of the longest wait times already — a lack of reliable internet access may limit the availability of those services.

Third news item

An excellent and fearless schooling of a Trump sycophant:

In response to my recent piece on howling moonbat Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lou Dobbs sneers: “Who reads NR?”

Well, Lou, since you raised the question, I’ll answer it: You do.

We both know this.

You are so terrified of your audience that you are willing to tell them anything they want to hear, follow them down any ridiculous rabbit hole, pretend to be something that you aren’t. You’re a guy who went to Harvard and lives on an equestrian estate in New Jersey, Lou. Let’s not kid ourselves. You’re a bit of a nut, but you aren’t stupid — certainly not as stupid as the character you used to play on television and now play on Twitter.

The irony is that your cowardice and your pandering did not save your career — they wrecked your career. That conspiracy-kook stuff is what got you fired by Fox, which is why you no longer have a television show. Do you know how embarrassing you have to get before Fox News — Fox Business, Lou! — is too ashamed to put you on the air?

It’s bad, Lou. Think on that.

I figure you probably have some heavy legal bills to pay at the moment, what with the voting-machine-conspiracy-kookery defamation lawsuit that you are probably going to lose. But you’re pushing 80, Lou. You’ve already thrown away your job, your reputation, and your self-respect — and there’s a good chance you’re going to end up financially ruined, too — but there is still time to see to the things that should be foremost in the mind of a man your age.

Read the whole thing.

Fourth news item

A bitter irony:

Now elderly and frail, Ukraine’s Holocaust survivors are escaping war once again, on an extraordinary journey that turns the world they knew upside down, looking for safety in Germany.

For Galina Ploschenko, 90, it was not a decision made without fear.

“They told me that Germany was my best option.

I told them, ‘I hope you’re right,’” he said.

Ploschenko is the beneficiary of a rescue mission organized by Jewish groups, which are trying to get Holocaust survivors out of the war sparked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Why Germany? According to the report, its easily reached by ambulance via Poland, has a good medical system, and there is a sizable population of Russian speakers and Jews who have emigrated from the former Soviet Union.

Fifth news item

Asking the necessary question, giving the necessary directive:

So why is hatred of Jews treated so gently—and in The New Yorker of all places? Something is rising, and it’s happening right in front of us, and somehow we are all sleeping through the part when there is still time to step in. Last year, David Baddiel, a Jewish comedian from Britain, wrote a book, Jews Don’t Count, arguing that “a sacred circle is drawn around those whom the progressive modern left are prepared to go into battle for, and it seems as if the Jews aren’t in it.” Why? ​​“There are lots of answers. But the basic one, underpinning all others, is that Jews are the only objects of racism who are imagined—by the racists—as both low and high status … somehow both sub-human and humanity’s secret masters.”

Never let anyone—not David Icke, not Alice Walker, not the editors of The New Yorker, not anyone, ever—try to convince you that this hateful ideology is less serious than any other.

Sixth news item

Russian missles hit while UN Secty. General meets with Ukrainian officials:

Russia struck the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on Thursday with at least two missiles while United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres was in the city meeting Ukrainian officials.

Why it matters: The strikes killed at least one person and injured several others, according to the UN. They came just days after Guterres met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who claimed Russia is still seeking a “diplomatic outcome” in Ukraine and denied that his military has deliberately killed Ukrainian civilians.

Russia launched the attack on Kyiv shortly after Guterres held a press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which the UN chief promised to increase aid to Ukraine.

At least one of the missiles struck a residential building in the Shevchenkivskyi District of Kyiv, according to photographs of the aftermath.

Zelensky, who claimed Russia launched five missiles at Kyiv during the attack, said in an address Thursday night that it “says a lot about Russia’s true attitude to global institutions” and “the efforts of the Russian leadership to humiliate the UN and everything that the organization represents.”

Reportedly, Russia has confirmed the “high-precision” missile strike in Kyiv during the UN Secretary’s visit, leaving one person dead and five or more wounded.

Seventh news item

More tears to come:

Elon Musk told banks that agreed to help fund his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) that he could crack down on executive and board pay at the social media company in a push to slash costs, and would develop new ways to monetize tweets, three people familiar with the matter said.

Musk has tweeted about eliminating the salaries of Twitter’s board directors, which he said could result in about $3 million in cost savings. Twitter’s stock-based compensation for the 12 months ending Dec. 31, 2021 was $630 million, a 33% increase from 2020, corporate filings show.

Eighth news item

I have questions:

Ninth news item

Still asking questions and seeking answers about Covid-19:

Yet more than two years after SARS-CoV-2 appeared, as documented deaths in the U.S. near 1 million and estimated global deaths reach as high as 18 million, there are still many mysteries about the virus and the pandemic it caused. They range from the technical — what role do autoantibodies play in long Covid? Can a pan-coronavirus vaccine actually be developed? — to the philosophical, such as how can we rebuild trust in our institutions and each other? Debate still festers, too, over the virus’s origins, despite recent studies adding evidence that it spilled over from wildlife.

Read the whole thing.

MISCELLANEOUS

Who let the wolf pack out? Who, who, who, who, who?

[A]uthorities in Colorado have defanged rumors of a possible wolf pack sighting, captured on a phone camera from a distance earlier this week, saying that the so-called wild animals turned out to be five St. Bernards who had escaped from their home. The April 25 video captured “large, four-legged animals… running near an elk herd,” according to the Park County Sheriff’s Office, which had opened an investigation into the sighting alongside Colorado Parks and Wildlife. But the distance from which the footage was shot, along “the lighting and shadows,” the sheriff’s office said, had made it difficult to determine exactly what kind of creatures were being filmed. The escaped canines have “a documented history of escaping their enclosure” on their owner’s property, according to a department news release.

Have a great weekend!

–Dana

4/28/2022

Amend Constitution to Bar Senators From The Presidency?

Filed under: General — Dana @ 4:16 pm



[guest post by Dana]

George Will has a thought provoking opinion piece proposing that we amend the Constitution to prevent senators from becoming president. In reading it, it sure sounds like an effort to protect voters from themselves, as much as anything else. But is it really the job of the government to protect us from our own worst inclinations in the voting booth or before we get to that point? I don’t think so. Moreover, the unhinged president who attacked the Rule of Law, and even now continues to work to overturn the 2020 presidential election and consistently lies about it was never a Senator, so…

To conserve the reverence it needs and deserves, the Constitution should be amended rarely and reluctantly. There is, however, an amendment that would instantly improve the legislative and executive branches. It would read: “No senator or former senator shall be eligible to be president.”

Seventeen presidents were previously senators. Seven of them – Harding, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Obama, Biden — became senators after 1913, when the 17th Amendment took the selection of senators away from state legislatures. The federal government’s growth, and the national media’s focus on Washington, has increased the prominence of senators eager for prominence, although it often is the prominence of a ship’s figurehead — decorative, not functional. As president-centric government has waxed, the Senate has waned, becoming increasingly a theater of performative behaviors by senators who are decreasingly interested in legislating, and are increasingly preoccupied with using social media for self-promotion.

In Jonathan Haidt’s recent essay for the Atlantic, “Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid,” the New York University social psychologist says social media users by the millions have become comfortable and adept at “putting on performances” for strangers. So have too many senators. Haidt says social media elicits “our most moralistic and least reflective selves,” fueling the “twitchy and explosive spread of anger.”

Politicians, and especially senators with presidential ambitions and time on their hands, use social media to practice what Alexander Hamilton deplored (in Federalist 68) as “the little arts of popularity.” Such senators, like millions of Americans, use social media to express and encourage anger about this and that. Anger, like other popular pleasures, can be addictive, particularly if it supplies the default vocabulary for social media.

Today, the gruesome possibility of a 2024 Biden-Trump rematch underscores a Hamilton misjudgment: He said in Federalist 68 there is a “constant probability” of presidents “pre-eminent for ability and virtue.” Banning senators from the presidency would increase the probability of having senators who are interested in being senators, and would increase the probability of avoiding:

Presidents who have never run anything larger than a Senate office. Who have confused striking poses — in the Capitol, on Twitter — with governing. Who have delegated legislative powers to the executive — for example, who have passed sentiment-affirmations masquerading as laws: Hurray for education and the environment; the executive branch shall fill in the details.

And who have been comfortable running the government on continuing resolutions (at existing funding levels) because Congress is incapable of budgeting. There have been 128 CRs in the previous 25 fiscal years — 41 since 2012. Why look for presidents among senators, who have made irresponsibility routine?

The 328 senators of the previous 50 years have illustrated the tyranny of the bell-shaped curve: a few of them dreadful, a few excellent, most mediocre. Although Josh Hawley, Missouri’s freshman Republican, might not be worse than all the other 327, he exemplifies the worst about would-be presidents incubated in the Senate. Arriving there in January 2019, he hit the ground running — away from the Senate. Twenty-four months later, he was the principal catalyst of the attempted nullification of the presidential election preceding the one that he hopes will elevate him. Nimbly clambering aboard every passing bandwagon that can carry him to the Fox News greenroom, he treats the Senate as a mere steppingstone for his ascent to an office commensurate with his estimate of his talents.

This, of course:

Does [George] Will believe that Barack Obama was less suited to be president than Donald Trump?

–Dana

Recent Comments Fixed! Charles C.W. Cooke to the Rescue!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:27 am



Our long national nightmare is over. The problem with Recent Comments has finally been fixed. A more subtle but important change: the software on the site has been updated, and the http prefix has been exchanged for an https — meaning those messages telling users that the site is “insecure” are a thing of the past.

I owe all of this to Charles C.W. Cooke, who, in addition to being an excellent writer and thinker (check out his book The Conservatarian Manifesto: Libertarians, Conservatives, and the Fight for the Right’s Future), has his own tech company, Astroluxe. He accomplished the move to new servers last night, and the hosting is far less expensive. So far, I’m thrilled.

4/27/2022

Dem President Coming Close to Implementing Policy to Benefit Mostly Upper-Middle-Class, Mostly White, Mostly Urban Voters

Filed under: General — JVW @ 2:29 pm



[guest post by JVW]

Because Joe Biden seems to have determined to be President of woke Twitter rather than President of the United States of America, he appears to be inching closer to planting — via an Executive Order of dubious merit — a big fat wet kiss on the mouths of what seems to be left of his ever-dwindling base of support. Michael Brenden Dougherty at NRO has the details:

The plan being mulled by the Biden administration to cancel and forgive up to $1.6 trillion of federal student-loan debt is a brazen act of class warfare by the affluent against everyone else. It is a politically, and cosmically, unjustifiable robbery that offers yet more rope for the decadent and totally indefensible American college system to become even more decadent and indefensible.

The overwhelming majority of student debt is held by the affluent; less than 10 percent of it is held by the bottom third of earners. Nearly 40 percent of it is held by students who earned advanced degrees — many of them now doctors and lawyers. Unemployment for the college-educated is less than 2 percent.

Sounds like a great group of people upon whom to bestow the equivalent of 27.5% of the 2023 Federal Budget, doesn’t it? What is it that Democrats always yammer on about in terms of which party panders to the wealthy? Mr. Dougherty puts his finger on what is wrong with this incredibly annoying scheme:

At every level, the American college system is deranged by the government guarantees and preferment extended to student debt. At the lowest end, schools take advantage of government-guaranteed student loans to prey on service-sector workers. They market a college education as a path of upward mobility, while knowing that most of their students never graduate, or simply return to the service industry after graduation. All that these colleges do is load five-figure-earning students with debt, which is transformed into six-figure salaries for third-rate professors and administrators.

In the great middle tier, the oceans of student debt have inspired colleges to become luxury resorts for the youth. They build endless recreational and athletic facilities, they install baroque food courts in an appalling race to offer something first-rate. These schools are increasingly trying to insert themselves as gatekeepers into fields such as turf management and catering, which never required college education before.

Granted, there are reports that President Biden is only considering cancelling $10,000 of debt for each student. Given that there are apparently 45.4 million Americans who collectively hold $1.75 trillion in student debt, if we assume that some of them will have less than $10,000 in debt and thus not account for the full sum we’re still looking at perhaps $350-400 billion in debt forgiveness. Chuck Schumer is said to be angling for up to $50,000 in debt forgiveness per borrower which would bring us much closer to the full sum, though that might just be a huge pander to the indebted college graduate left secure in the knowledge that it will never happen. But that doesn’t mean that the Elizabeth Warrens and Alexandria Ocasio Cortezes of the party don’t fundamentally believe that the entire sum should be wiped out.

All with the stroke of a pen, bypassing Congressional authorization if necessary.

Enough of that nonsense, declares Charles C. W. Cooke, if the President unilaterally imposes this plan the GOP needs to hang it like a millstone around his neck:

If President Joe Biden follows through on his threat to unilaterally “cancel” all, or any, of the $1.7 trillion in federally held student-loan debt, the Republican Party must respond to the move by taking an industrial-grade flamethrower to the status quo until it is reduced to ashes. What Biden is considering would be an act of political, economic, and constitutional warfare, and Republicans at both the federal and state levels would be obliged to immediately treat it as such by salting the earth as soon as they possibly can.

Second, a GOP-led Washington, D.C., would have to get the Treasury to recoup the “forgiven” loans so that non-graduates — a majority of Americans — didn’t end up paying for the commercial products that graduates freely chose to buy. There are many potential sources for that money, including the beneficiaries themselves. Tax them. Tax the universities they went to; tax the enormous endowments those universities enjoy; tax as income any gifts those universities are given, however small; and, where possible, remove the nonprofit status of donations so that those who give gain no fiscal advantage. When all that is done, sue the worst offenders for fraud. [. . .]

Third, the federal GOP would have to tie up the move in litigation in every way possible. Neither the American constitutional system nor any of the statutes that Congress has placed on the books give the executive branch the power to single-handedly spend $1.5 trillion of taxpayers’ money in this way. The Department of Education has already confirmed that the president “does not have statutory authority to provide blanket or mass cancellation, compromise, discharge, or forgiveness of student loan principal balances, and/or to materially modify the repayment amounts or terms thereof,” and nothing has changed since that declaration. [. . .]

Just so, and the threat of litigation (culminating in what I expect would be a likely defeat in court for the Administration) ought to have made Team Biden far more circumspect about these sort of grandiose promises. Do Democrats think it’s a winning electoral strategy to promise young, white, urban, graduate-degree holders a very tangible benefit that notably is not given to their blue-collar colleagues who may have incurred a great deal of debt in starting up a business or in apprenticing at a trade? And whose bright idea in the Administration was it to put Democrats in a position where the President makes a promise which is sure to enrage his political opponents while pissing off a good chunk of the voters he desperately needs to hold on to this fall? His Executive Order, should it come, almost certainly will either be rightfully blocked by the courts on Constitutional grounds or else will be blocked by Congress when skittish Democrat incumbents start to worry about defending this move on the campaign trail. The degree to which the party brain trust is allowing Biden — a man whose intellectual capacities are so clearly diminishing day by day — to hang himself out to dry on this issue is just absolutely puzzling.

Beyond a couple of socialist students writing at The Nation, it’s hard to find too many media commentators willing to go out on a limb and declare that this is good policy. The aforementioned lefty college scribes overlook the obviousness of wealthier whites being the prime beneficiaries and focus instead upon the handful of “Black [sic] and brown” folks who would be helped by debt forgiveness, then raise the childishly Sandersesque notion that the plan will unlock great economic activity by leaving the beneficiaries with more money to spend on Michael Moore movies, Noam Chomsky books, and Pete Seeger records. And, as evidenced by the comments on the piece, at least one reader of The Nation isn’t too sure this is such a snappy idea, though he is immediately brow-beaten by two bullying leftists for his apostasy.

No matter which way this plays out, expect the Democrats to handle this about as badly as they possibly can, and expect a sizable chunk of the GOP to bungle the opposition messaging by bringing in spurious arguments. But I don’t see much chance of this ending up as a net positive for the Democrat efforts this fall, even if the Biden Administration decides this is the right hill upon which to die. (Hmmm, probably not a great metaphor given the President’s advancing age and obvious infirmities.)

– JVW

Let the Speculation Begin: Tucker Carlson…2024???

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:29 am



[guest post by Dana]

NOTE: Comments section not fully functional yet. You can post comments and updates are happening but won’t show up on Recent Comments toolbar at right side of page.

Here we go:

Fox News host Tucker Carlson is raising eyebrows over his future in politics with the news that he will deliver a keynote speech at this year’s Family Leadership Summit in Iowa – a forum that has traditionally been the gathering ground for Republicans with presidential ambitions.

The event, described as a “chance” for conservatives to be “encouraged, inspired, and equipped to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness in America today,” had Donald Trump as a speaker in 2015. Speakers last year included former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem. All three have been floated as potential 2024 Republican candidates.

I don’t know why Carlson wouldn’t consider a possible run for president. His show “Tucker Carlson Tonight” consistently averages 3.2 million viewers on Fox News, and his reporting on the alleged masculinity crisis and promotion of “testicle tanning” doesn’t seem to have cost him any significant number of viewers. Republicans embracing a “testicle tanning” president seems a natural follow-up to embracing four years of a sleazy TV reality show host in the White House and two years of his insane post-presidency circus. Anyway, if he’s going to jump in, he should probably start sooner rather than later, given FiveThirtyEight’s latest Republican primary 2024 polling:

–Dana

4/26/2022

National Review on Kate Smith: Right on the Nose, As We Can Now Prove

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am



Good piece. Teaser:

Kate Smith is not a reporter at all. She is an advocate for abortion rights who exploits her perch at CBS to disguise as fact the opinions of the country’s most radical abortion-rights activists. She is Planned Parenthood’s ambassador to CBS, posing as a reporter and constructing articles that more closely resemble press releases for the nation’s most powerful abortion-rights advocacy groups. She has traded her objectivity for access to these organizations, offering them the kid-glove treatment so they will permit her to be the first to publicize their PR campaigns, interview their leaders, and scoop their briefs in court cases.

Read it all.

The piece was written in 2020. Why am I sharing it with you now?

Because of this:

4/25/2022

It Sure Looks Like Elon Musk Is About to Buy Twitter

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am



Should be interesting.

4/22/2022

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:12 am



[guest post by Dana]

NOTE: Comments section not fully functional yet. You can post comments and updates are happening but won’t show up on Recent Comments toolbar at right side of page.

Let’s get started!

First news item

Unsurprising, if official policy:

One of Russia’s senior generals has said the country aims to capture not just the eastern Donbas region but all of southern Ukraine in its new stage of the conflict, a surprisingly broad public outline of the Kremlin’s aims for the war since refocusing away from Kyiv.

Major Gen. Rustam Minnekayev said the goal was to create a land bridge from Russia to the annexed Crimean Peninsula and another exit to the unrecognized pro-Moscow breakaway republic of Transnistria in Moldova, to Ukraine’s southwest.

Related:

A city official in besieged Mariupol says Russian forces are continuing to bomb a massive steel mill where Ukrainian fighters are holed up.

Petro Andryushchenko, an adviser to Mariupol’s mayor, told The Associated Press on Friday that “every day they drop several bombs on Azovstal, despite false promises not to touch the defenders.” Andryushchenko added that “fighting, shelling, bombing do not stop.”

The Azovstal plant is the last stronghold of Ukrainian forces in Mariupol, which the Russians has blocked for nearly two weeks and declared victory over this week. Ukrainian authorities have estimated that 1,000 civilians are inside the plant along with the fighters.

I’ll leave you with this bit of mystery:

Questions look set to be asked after two Russian oligarchs, both linked to gas giants, apparently murdered their wives and daughters before killing themselves—within two days of each other.

Second news item

Here we go:

Facing a growing rebellion from within the Democratic Party, the White House is standing behind its decision to end on May 23 a Trump-era deportation policy for migrants encountered at the southern border.

That decision to end the use of the public health order known as Title 42 has placed President Joe Biden in a political bind. The president is attempting to balance his long-standing promise to revoke the policy — which, under the banner of fighting the Covid pandemic, justified the immediate expulsion of migrants without due process — right as Republicans weaponize immigration before the midterms and as a growing number of Democratic senators want restrictions to remain in place for fear that the administration is not prepared for a summer surge of migrants to the border.

So, who in the administration is very concerned about the lifting of Title 42? Why none other than the Secty. of the Dept. of Homeland Security:

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has privately told members of Congress he’s concerned with the Biden administration’s handling of its plans to lift Title 42 on May 23, sources familiar with the conversations tell Axios…Mayorkas has also indicated a level of frustration and unease with the repeal rollout, the sources said.

Third news item

Agreed:

Florida’s Surgeon General, Joseph Ladapo…issues a state guidance with a dramatically different perspective [than the Biden administration]. From, “Treatment of Gender Dysphoria for Children and Adolescents” (emphasis within the text):

Due to the lack of conclusive evidence, and the potential for long-term, irreversible effects, the Department’s guidelines are as follows:
• Social gender transition should not be a treatment option for children or adolescents.
• Anyone under 18 should not be prescribed puberty blockers or hormone therapy.
• Gender reassignment surgery should not be a treatment option for children or adolescents.
Based on the currently available evidence, “encouraging mastectomy, ovariectomy, uterine extirpation, penile disablement, tracheal shave, the prescription of hormones which are out of line with the genetic make-up of the child, or puberty blockers, are all clinical practices which run an unacceptably high risk of doing harm.”
• Children and adolescents should be provided social support by peers and family and seek counseling from a licensed provider.

Much more at the link.

Fourth news item

How is this whole attempt by DeSantis *not* an impending disaster for Florida?:

There’s a lot of misinformation and confusion about what the end of Disney’s Reedy Creek district means for the company and for taxpayers. Here’s what I know, after talking to lobbyists, lawyers and tax officials:

For those of you who haven’t heard, Reedy Creek is the special tax district of Walt Disney World. It’s essentially its own city. Disney pays taxes to Reedy Creek, which operates a fire department, planning department, sewer treatment plant and public works department. On the other hand, Disney controls Reedy Creek, which means if they want to build a new hotel or highway, they just have to ask themselves for permission. The biggest loss for Disney is the end of that control. It’s a lot easier to ask yourself for permission than to go to the county. While they already follow all laws and building codes and they’ll still get everything they want, it’s going to slow the process down. Potholes might develop on roads that they no longer pave themselves. They can’t just call a meeting or alter their comprehensive plan on a random Friday. They also can’t quickly finance new public projects like a fire station. The bigger issue for everyone else is the tax revenue. Disney already pays the same local property taxes as every other landowner. Reedy Creek added its own tax on top of that to pay for its projects. That tax – $163 million per year – is illegal outside of the district. When Reedy Creek goes away, that tax goes away, and Orange and Osceola Counties can’t do anything to get it back.
However, the counties will now be responsible for all of the services Reedy Creek provides and all of the debt it has accumulated. They can’t raise sales taxes or impact fees. So, the counties will have to raise property taxes. They must tax every property equally – not just Disney – and therefore it’s expected that property taxes in Orange County will rise as much as 25% next June…The residents, by the way, had no say in this vote, no say in their property taxes going through the roof, and no desire to have their communities staring at financial ruin

Fifth news item

Convincing Sweden, Finland, and maybe others to join NATO:

Russian Senator Andrei Klimov called NATO a “suicide club” and warned that Sweden and Finland could meet the fate of the Azovstal steel fighters in Mariupol if they join NATO. Klimov says Finland’s prosperity was caused by good relations with the Soviet Union. Klimov claims “good neighborly relations” persisted even under Stalin. No mention of the 1939 Soviet invasion of Finland and the Winter War. Klimov warns that Ukraine destroyed its potential through pursuing NATO and anti-Russian militarism, and cautions Sweden and Finland against following its path.

Sixth news item

That was then, this is now:

Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the House, has been particularly vocal about the issue, backing legislation to crack down on tech companies.

“Diversity of opinion is the lifeblood of our democracy. And yet that fundamental American value is under assault by Big Tech — entities that have amassed more power and more control over more speech than any other institution in history,” the House minority leader lamented in a statement after Twitter “permanently suspended” [Marjorie Taylor] Greene this year.

“Their recent decisions to silence Americans — including a sitting member of Congress and renowned physicians — who share views different from the political and media elite have real world costs,” he added.

But McCarthy seemed to hold the opposite view a year earlier, in the days following the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

According to an upcoming book by two New York Times reporters, McCarthy privately told fellow GOP lawmakers that he wanted social media companies to strip more Republicans of their accounts, as Twitter and Facebook had done with Trump.

“Can’t they take their Twitter accounts away, too?” McCarthy is quoted as saying.

Seventh news item

Where did all the moderate Republicans go? Long time passing…:

GOP Rep. Fred Upton’s announcement last week that he was retiring from his western Michigan district after 35 years means that moderate Republicans are now almost entirely extinct from the U.S. Congress. Twenty to thirty years ago, Republicans like Upton were more plentiful. There were northeastern Republicans like Nancy Johnson, Chris Shays and Rob Simms from Connecticut, Amo Houghton and Sherwood Boehlert from New York, and midwesterners like Upton, Steve Gunderson in Wisconsin, and Mark Kirk from suburban Chicago. They often broke with their party on social issues like abortion, guns and the environment but were fiscally conservative and pro-business.

Like conservative Blue Dogs who were once plentiful in southern and rural America, these so-called Rockefeller-Republicans have disappeared, as Democrats now represent their once solidly red suburban districts.

With these members gone, goes the narrative, so has the civility and functionality of Congress. Without their counterweight, the leadership in both parties is now captive to the wishes and wants of the extremes like those in the GOP Freedom Caucus or the Democratic Progressive Caucus.

Upton, in an interview with Meet The Press’ Chuck Todd last weekend, argued that unless Republicans pick up more than 15 seats this fall (for a total of at least 230 GOP-held seats), “it will be very hard to govern for Republicans… knowing that we’ve got the MTG [Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene] element that’s really not a part of a governing majority.”

Eighth news item

To mask or not to mask is still the question:

Philadelphia is ending its indoor mask mandate, city health officials said Thursday night, abruptly reversing course just days after city residents had to start wearing masks again amid a sharp increase in infections.

The Board of Health voted Thursday to rescind the mandate, according to the Philadelphia health department, which released a statement that cited “decreasing hospitalizations and a leveling of case counts.”

And:

LA County’s public health department reinstated part of its COVID mask mandate Friday, meaning a patchwork of rules for masks on public transit and at airports in Southern California. The decision announced Thursday came just days after a federal judge overturned the Centers for Disease Control’s mask mandate on public transportation.

Initially, local transit agencies went along with that Florida judge’s ruling, allowing the federal rule enforcing masks on planes, trains, buses and other ways of getting around to lapse. Masks became optional.

But that changed with Thursday’s announcement from the county health department. LA County’s own public health director apologized in making the announcement, saying the change will likely create confusion among residents feeling a sense of mask “whiplash” due to the back-and-forth.

Ninth news item

Gov. Newsom not so golden in California:

Six weeks after Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled a far-reaching effort to push more people into court-ordered treatment for severe mental illness and addiction, homeless advocates are calling it legally misguided and immoral as the proposal’s first public hearing at the state Capitol has been delayed.

More than three dozen organizations and individuals, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Disability Rights California and the Western Center on Law and Poverty, signed an April 12 opposition letter raising serious concerns with Assembly Bill 2830, one of two nearly identical measures moving through the Legislature to implement Newsom’s Community Assistance, Recovery and Empowerment Court. The groups often have significant sway among liberal legislative Democrats, the kind of influence that could hinder Newsom’s hopes for a new law to be in place by July 1.

Newsom touted the CARE Court framework last month as an innovative strategy to guide an estimated 7,000 to 12,000 people into housing and much-needed treatment. Under the proposal, family members, behavioral health care providers and first responders, among others, could petition a civil judge to initiate a CARE plan for eligible individuals who lack medical decision-making capacity.

MISCELLANEOUS


Camille Pissarro, ‘Rue Saint-Honoré, dans l’après-midi 1897

Note:

The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled Thursday to revive a years-long lawsuit over the rightful ownership of a painting by French impressionist Camille Pissarro surrendered to the Nazis in 1939. The court’s ruling opens an opportunity for the heirs of Lilly Cassirer, the painting’s original owner, to reclaim it from the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, where it has been on display for decades.

The Spanish museum has argued that Pissarro’s 1897 Rue Saint-Honoré, Après-midi, Effet de Pluie, was acquired in good faith. The Cassirer family maintains that it was sold under duress to a Nazi art appraiser. The painting is believed to be worth today tens of millions of dollars.

Details about how the lawsuit came to be:

The Pissarro painting, a depiction of a rainy Parisian street, was exchanged by Lilly Cassirer in exchange for $360 and her family’s safe passage out of Germany. She never received the money and, though she and her husband escaped persecution, her sister was killed at the Theresienstadt concentration camp. In 1948, the Cassirer family filed an appeal with a tribunal organized by Allied forces to recover the painting, but it had already been sold at a Gestapo auction in Berlin. Believing the painting was lost forever, the family accepted a $13,000 settlement from the German government.

In 1976, Swiss collector Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza purchased the Pissarro from the Hahn Gallery in New York for $275,000. Seventeen years later the baron’s art collection was acquired by Spain for $338 million. The 775 works comprising the acquisition formed the foundation of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation in Madrid.

Litigation began after Claude Cassirer, Lilly’s grandson, found the painting at the Thyssen in 2000. His requests for its return rejected, he sued the foundation in California court in 2005. After his death in 2010, his on David Cassirer carried on the court battle.

Have a great weekend!

–Dana

Republican Leaders: Trump Responsible for Inciting Jan. 6 Event, He Needs To Be Gone But We Don’t Want To Offend Him

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:57 am



[guest post by Dana]

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Yesterday, the New York Times published a story about the ease with which House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell chose not to do the right thing and instead, willingly sacrificed their own credibility and that of the Republican Party to maintain their power in the aftermath of the Capitol insurrection. The report also revealed that McCarthy did indeed push for Trump to resign despite saying he didn’t. Clearly, he wanted to avoid offending him and possibly jeopardizing his own political future:

In the days after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol building, the two top Republicans in Congress, Representative Kevin McCarthy and Senator Mitch McConnell, told associates they believed President Trump was responsible for inciting the deadly riot and vowed to drive him from politics.

Mr. McCarthy went so far as to say he would push Mr. Trump to resign immediately: “I’ve had it with this guy,” he told a group of Republican leaders, according to an audio recording of the conversation obtained by The New York Times.

But within weeks both men backed off an all-out fight with Mr. Trump because they feared retribution from him and his political movement. Their drive to act faded fast as it became clear it would mean difficult votes that would put them at odds with most of their colleagues.

“I didn’t get to be leader by voting with five people in the conference,” Mr. McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, told a friend.

McConnell was also quoted as saying:

“The Democrats are going to take care of the son of a bitch for us,” McConnell told two associates just days after the insurrection, referring to the effort to impeach Trump in the Democratic-led House.

And of Trump’s guilt, McConnell was equally clear-eyed: “If this isn’t impeachable, I don’t know what is,” he said. There was even talk that McConnell himself might vote to convict Trump in a Senate impeachment trial.

More on McCarthy:

On a phone call with several other top House Republicans on Jan. 8, Mr. McCarthy said Mr. Trump’s conduct on Jan. 6 had been “atrocious and totally wrong.” He faulted the president for “inciting people” to attack the Capitol, saying that Mr. Trump’s remarks at a rally on the National Mall that day were “not right by any shape or any form.”

During that conversation, Mr. McCarthy inquired about the mechanism for invoking the 25th Amendment — the process whereby the vice president and members of the cabinet can remove a president from office — before concluding that was not a viable option. Mr. McCarthy, who was among those who objected to the election results, was uncertain and indecisive, fretting that the Democratic drive to impeach Mr. Trump would “put more fuel on the fire” of the country’s divisions.

On Jan. 10, Mr. McCarthy spoke again with the leadership team.

When Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming asked about the chances Mr. Trump might resign, Mr. McCarthy said he was doubtful, but he had a plan.

The Democrats were driving hard at an impeachment resolution, Mr. McCarthy said, and they would have the votes to pass it. Now he planned to call Mr. Trump and tell him it was time for him to go.

Mr. McCarthy said he would tell Mr. Trump of the impeachment resolution: “I think this will pass, and it would be my recommendation you should resign,” he said, according to the recording of the call, which runs just over an hour…

He acknowledged it was unlikely Mr. Trump would follow that suggestion.

“What he did is unacceptable. Nobody can defend that and nobody should defend it,” he told the group.

It should be noted that Rep. Liz Cheney was penalized by none other than McCarthy for basically saying what McCarthy said about Trump (before he caved). The difference between McCarthy and Cheney being: she was willing to pay the political and personal price to maintain her integrity and fulfill her oath to the Constitution, while McCarthy quickly decided that the political cost wasn’t worth it. One doesn’t become Speaker of the House by turning on the leader of the Republican Party…

Anyway, McCarthy pushed back on the NYT report yesterday, saying that “The NYT’s reporting on me is totally false and wrong”:

And this is the thing with dishonest and corrupt politicians like McCarthy: They truly believe that they are indestructible and that they can lie and lie and lie and no one will be the wiser. They count on those around them – who should be holding them accountable – to be as craven and dishonest as they are, thus allowing them to skate on their lies. (See: Trump.) Except in this case, there was audio confirmation that McCarthy did indeed say the things that he is now denying:

No wonder McCarthy was and has consistently been adamantly against Nancy Pelosi’s a Jan. 6 committee and has had it out for Cheney. The man wants to become the next House Speaker, and this revelation likely won’t help him achieve that goal. Or maybe today’s GOP won’t care: “Why can’t people just move on from Jan. 6?” Additionally, while none of this is a surprise to Cheney, I can’t help but think there is some satisfaction that finally, the public can hear the audio for themselves.

Oh. There are more tapes to come, and tapes that will tell a different story than what McCarthy and friends have been trying to push about the events of Jan. 6:

Update: “Trump & McCarthy spoke last night after audio proved the GOP leader was going to tell the former pres. to resign days following Jan. 6. Trump was reportedly not upset and reveled over his continued grip over the GOP”

–Dana

4/21/2022

See If You Can Read This Article without Your Eyes Rolling All the Way Back in Your Head

Filed under: General — JVW @ 1:07 pm



[guest post by JVW]

Because the nexus of grievance, privilege, profit, celebration, and exploitation is so crowded and full of various twists and turns which can send the earnest progressive astray, I submit this crazy story which appeared in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times. It’s worth reading the whole thing, just to be blown away by how petty and childish today’s intersectionality game truly is, but for fun I am only going to include paragraphs which contain some sort of obnoxious buzzword or catchphrase of the wokedy-woke. See if you can still piece together the entire narrative:

Last week, the publisher of “Bad and Boujee: Toward a Trap Feminist Theology” pulled it from distribution after critics raised concerns about the white author’s qualifications to write on the book’s stated topics of the “Black experience, hip-hop music, ethics, and feminism.”

Among those critics was author Sesali Bowen, who coined the concept of trap feminism years ago. At its core was how people attempt to celebrate Black women without talking about their lived experiences. Things like copying the aesthetics of musicians such as Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion without giving them attribution or linking it to their lives.

[. . .]

So she was taken aback when earlier this year, white academic Jennifer Buck released a theology book on trap feminism. While Bowen first introduced the concept of trap feminism nearly a decade ago, she said Buck did not approach her while researching “Bad and Boujee.” The idea of talking about Black women, but not directly engaging with them about their lived experiences, gets to the core of why Bowen first felt the need to label this era and concept of trap feminism.

Bowen coined the term in 2014, taking its name from a hip-hop genre that originated in the South. “Trap” is slang for a house where drugs are sold and the music references street life, violence, poverty and many of the experiences Black people face in the South.

[. . .]

Bowen’s 2021 book “Bad Fat Black Girl: Notes from a Trap Feminist” summarizes the niche topic: “Trap feminism says that Black girls who have ever rocked bamboo earrings, dookie braids, Baby Phat, lace fronts, or those who have worked as hoes, scammers, call-center reps, at daycares, in retail, and those who sell waist trainers and mink lashes on Instagram are all worth the same dignity and respect we give Michelle Obama and Beyoncé.”

[. . .]

“I think the fact that Jennifer Buck does not have the lived experience that makes her the person to write about trap feminism or Black feminism is honestly just the salt in the wound,” Bowen said. “Now we’re also dealing with issues around cultural appropriation, culture vulturing and just kind of like cultural voyeurism that is just icky, you know. It’s just cringe and I hate that we are still doing this in 2022.”

[. . .]

“I did this research directly interviewing women running trap with a research team of primarily black women. Everyone was paid well — those who helped me conduct the research and those interviewed,” Buck wrote. “I will also add: I believe anti-racist work is the work of white people to do, which includes hiring and elevating black voices and all historically marginalized voices in doing theology.”

Author Chanequa Walker-Barnes joined a chorus of voices on Twitter decrying Buck’s approach to this topic within Black culture. One of Walker-Barnes’ first books was published by Wipf and Stock Publishers, a Christian publishing house, which also released “Bad and Boujee” this February.

“It’s not that White scholars can’t write about Black women, but it has to be done with extreme care, a whole lot of cultural sensitivity and humility, and in relationships of accountability with Black women,” Walker-Barnes wrote on Twitter. “And it would probably need a Black woman editor.”

[. . .]

“We humbly acknowledge that we failed Black women in particular, and we take full responsibility for the numerous failures of judgment that led to this moment,” the publisher said in a statement. “Our critics are right: we should have seen numerous red flags, including but not limited to the inappropriateness of a White theologian writing about the experience of Black women (the issue of cultural appropriation is pervasive, from cover to content), the lack of Black endorsers, and the apparent lack of relationship with Black scholars, especially those who originated the trap feminist discourse.”

[. . .]

“I want to call it kind of a psychological violence, if you will. Professor Buck starts this s—storm and then to just turn away from it,” Bowen said. “She has refused so far to engage in this conversation that she has started. That’s not what trap feminism is all about. Because a trap feminist can fight her battles, be accountable and hold people accountable.”

If you are scoring at home, here is a handy word-cloud of all of that academic psychobabble jargon you have just been treated to [note: I have tried to remove most of the anodyne words which mean nothing to the intersectionality racket]:

As for me, I find everyone involved in this fracas to be highly annoying. To be sure, it’s pretty obnoxious when the white author, Jennifer Buck, writes a book centered around a pseudo-intellectual pop culture academic term and doesn’t even bother to consult with the woman who coined the term to begin with. But by the same token, Sesali Bowen’s overreaction to this slight — her invocation of “psychological violence” and all that sort of hogwash — is so over the top as to render her argument meaningless. And why anyone would agree to publish with a publishing house that is apparently both editorially incompetent and rife with cowardly executives is beyond me. I hope they have fun destroying the initial print run.

I could read this article a dozen times and still fail to designate a hero to this story or anyone to really root for as far as that goes, and I am happy to see them form an intellectual firing circle and blast away at each other. The sooner and more thoroughly that this ugly race-hustling with the thinnest veneer of academic legitimacy is consigned to the trash bin of history, the better off all of us will be. Until then, I’m glad that it seems like everyone here loses in some way.

– JVW

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