Patterico's Pontifications


Liz Cheney Speaks at the Reagan Library

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am

Last night Mrs. P and I met JVW, Dana, and Mr. Dana to watch Liz Cheney speak at the Reagan Library, which JVW kindly arranged for us (which is fortunate because it was sold out). It was a delight to meet JVW (for the first time! which is silly given how close we live to one another) and to see Dana and her husband. The speech was worth the long drive to Simi Valley. You can watch it yourself in the comfort of your easy chair:

If, like most people, you don’t have the patience for a 30-minute speech, here is a short excerpt:

I was concerned about the reception that Cheney would receive. Any time you get a mass of people from the right together, they never seem to be Liz Cheney fans. The introductory speaker said there were rumors that the event would be disrupted. But my fears were for naught. The crowd received Rep. Cheney warmly, giving her standing ovations at the beginning and the end of her remarks, and interrupting several other passages with applause, as you can see in the clip above.

In this short life of ours, we speak to each other as though doing the right thing is all that matters, and then when times get tough, most people do the easy thing instead. In War and Peace, Tolstoy describes the various factions in Russia in the early 1800s and their ideas about how the war against Napoleon should be prosecuted. After listing seven factions and describing their various opinions, Tolstoy describes the eighth group, “which in its enormous numbers was to the others as ninety-nine to one, [and] consisted of men who desired … as much advantage and pleasure for themselves as possible.”

That is human nature: to do what brings you the most pleasure and brings you the most advantage, and to make those factors the highest priority.

We talk big, but most of us stop at the talk.

Rep. Cheney walks the walk. Rep. Cheney is a true example of courage — which, like a diamond, is precious because it’s rare. She is certainly sacrificing her political career to take the stand she is taking. But she clearly believes, as I do, that by exposing Donald Trump’s attempts to steal an election that he lost fair and square, she is addressing a threat to our democracy so serious that it requires such a sacrifice.

The speech really is worth your time. Rep. Cheney is a good speaker: funny, grounded in reality, self-deprecating, and inspiring.

We left the speech and, walking to our cars, were confronted by about five Trumpist nutjobs screaming about how they hated Cheney. One guy yelled at me that I should be ashamed of myself and added: “YOU REALIZE YOU ARE IN A MINORITY IN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY!” I yelled back: “That’s why I’m not in it anymore, buddy!”

For one night, the sane were applauded, and the insane were relegated to tiny numbers standing outside yelling incoherently like street people.

It felt nice. But: reality check here . . . the crazy man yelling at me was right. Liz Cheney is going to lose her primary, because the narcissistic low-IQ clown at Mar-a-Lago is butthurt that Cheney is onto him, and the chumps in the GOP are throwing in their lot with him and not with her.

Liz Cheney can’t control what idiotic voters do. She can only control her own actions, and in that vein she is acquitting herself very well.

A great evening. Thanks to JVW for setting it up, and thanks to Dana and Mr. Dana for setting up our post-speech dinner and for driving such a long way to see it and to visit.


Is MSNBC to Blame for the End of Roe and Casey?

Filed under: General — JVW @ 7:15 am

[guest post by JVW]

For those of you who can stand further discussion of last week’s developments (and judging from the most-commented posts, it looks like you can), a very interesting piece at The Spectator wonders if the sort of cloistered progressive hubris so perfectly envisioned by the Ship of Fools that is the MSNBC line-up might have ended up being the unwitting euthanizers of the Roe and Casey rulings which were overturned last week by the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization majority decision. The piece is behind a firewall, so I will quote liberally from it, though I also strongly encourage you to consider subscribing to The Spectator for interesting and witty writing from a right-of-center perspective which encompasses several different strains of conservative thought. Here’s what the author, Matt Purple, has to say:

Over now to MSNBC, that glorified test of the emergency broadcast system between Fox News and the Big Bang Theory reruns you want to fall asleep to. The Supreme Court on Friday announced it had overturned Roe v. Wade, upending fifty years of abortion law. And the mood on America’s favorite left-of-left cable network was, er, punchy.

It began with Lawrence O’Donnell, who demanded that his audience “never forget the GOP presidents who overturned Roe” (in case Donald Trump was at risk of slipping your mind). After lying that George W. Bush hadn’t won the popular vote before appointing Sam Alito (Bush beat John Kerry by three million votes in 2004, then nominated Alito in 2005), O’Donnell sighed that he was profoundly disappointed. “I spent most of my life in awe of the Supreme Court,” he intoned. Yet today the Court “is not reflexively worthy of respect.”

One imagines Amy Coney Barrett running down the hall: “You guys! We just lost Lawrence O’Donnell!” And certainly the Court has desecrated itself forever by not doing what O’Donnell would have liked it to do. O’Donnell then went on to patronize Clarence Thomas for disagreeing with Roe while being black and married to a white woman. Thus did MSNBC give the country exactly what it needed: a lecture on race from a white guy from Boston.

Having taken the measure of the oafish voices, Mr. Purple turns his attention to the twerps, in this case the unceasingly annoying Chris Hayes:

Hayes is like one of those dorky kids who struts around calling people “malefactors” and “ne’er-do-wells” even though he clearly he has no idea what any of those words mean. Yet it’s his use of “democracy” that’s especially telling. Strictly speaking, “democracy” means simply that the people get to decide, either directly or through their elected representatives — as they now will on abortion. Yet for progressives, “democracy” has taken on more of a folk definition. Just as Orwell said the word fascism “has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable,’” so too does “democracy” now have no meaning except as something that makes an MSNBC contributor feel all peachy on the inside. So: lawless abortion, etc.

This debauching of our language admittedly runs both ways (a “Republican” is now one who thinks Donald Trump should maybe be king?). Yet flipping “democracy” to mean “judicial authoritarianism” might be a whole new level of doublespeak altogether. And it really is curious just how many words have had to be blurred in order to keep the abortion boat afloat: “fetus,” “procedure,” “late-term,” “constitutional right,” “choice.” If this much of your thinking is based on not thinking, it may be time to turn the critical gaze inward for a while.

This perversion of the language to fit political goals, the author suggests, has led progressives to ensconce themselves in their urban, credentialed, gentry echo chambers where everyone is in violent agreement with each other, and blinded them to the reality that people who live way out there don’t while away the hours discussing the latest editorial in the New York Times or mulling over whether it was members of the BIPOC or the LGBTQQIP2SAA community who were the most harmed by the legislative failure of Build Back Better. Nor, despite what they have been telling themselves to one degree or other since 1992, were coming demographic changes inevitably going to guarantee a progressive future in this country. This myopia bore consequences:

This same sense of inevitability has pervaded their abortion coverage, which is why MSNBC and their kith and kin may be more responsible for Dobbs than anyone else. They refined pro-choice smugness into televised narcotic. Not only did they fail to seriously engage with the arguments put forward by the other side — fetal personhood, the weakness of constitutional “penumbras,” etc. — their complacency lurched them even further to the extreme. “Shout your abortion!” they cried. “Scrub ‘rare’ from ‘safe, legal, and rare’!” Why not? The other side was just a bunch of theocratic Neanderthals, practically self-refuting.

Even after the Dobbs arguments back in December, which saw the conservative justices all but skywrite “THE VIABILITY STANDARD IS BULLS–T” above the Supreme Court, they still couldn’t quite believe the knuckle-draggers were about to pull it off. Now, they’re making the same mistake again, assuring themselves it’s just a matter of time. Republicans will pay in the midterms! Will they though? Polls have consistently found that decisive majorities support something like the Mississippi law at issue in Dobbs, which bans abortions after fifteen weeks. And are the intricacies of abortion really going to trump the pain of $5 a gallon gas?

As a parting shot, Mr. Purple takes a thwack at MSNBC contributor Elie Mystal, whose shtick is more or less being Al Sharpton with a degree from Harvard Law. (We’ve had occasion to subject him to withering contempt from time to time). Closing his piece, Mr. Purple notes a less-than-practical suggestion coming from the this buffoon:

So it is that we return to MSNBC for one last ray of insight. On Saturday, a deranged individual named Elie Mystal screamed that Biden ought to make abortions available at federal facilities — and surely he should. Democrats, here’s your game-changer: third-trimester abortions at every post office.

Renowned fraud Elizabeth Warren went one better by actually suggesting that the Biden Administration open up Abortion Pop-Up Tents at the edges of National Parks in states which place strong restrictions of the former “Constitutional right.” It’s an idea just dumb enough for Democrats and their media/academic/bureaucratic adjunct to rally around, and there will be no one inside of their ideological bubble to counsel them otherwise.



Jan. 6 Hearing Testimony: Trump Knew There Were Weapons in the Crowd But Still Demanded They Be Allowed To March To The Capitol

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:06 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Damning testimony today from Cassidy Hutchinson, the onetime aide to then-chief of staff Mark Meadows:

In a videotaped testimony, Hutchinson said that when she attended the Jan. 6 rally at the White House ellipse, she overheard a conversation with the president saying he knew people had “many weapons.”

“When we were in the off-stage announce tent, I was part of a conversation … I was in the vicinity of a conversation where I overheard the president say something to the effect of, ‘You know, I don’t effing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the effing mags away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here. Let the people in. Take the effing [magnetometers] away,'” Hutchinson said during her testimony,

“He said something to the effect of, you know, eff the Secret Service. I’m the president. Take the effing mags away. They’re not here to hurt me,'” she added.

Hutchinson also said the White House counsel’s office was worried about Trump’s plans to march to the Capitol would cause legal issues, and were concerned about lines in Trump’s speech that day, including telling people to march on the Capitol and to “fight.”

Trump was informed people were armed by Tony Ornato, his deputy chief of staff for operations who oversaw all security at the White House, according to Hutchinson. She said that Meadows did not act on the information.

Police radio transmissions played by the Jan. 6th committee revealed that among the thousands of people attending the Stop the Steal rally before the attack on the Capitol, some were armed with AR-15s and glocks, including someone in a tree that Secret Service was aware of who had an AR-15.

Hutchinson testified that she had heard reports of D.C. police arresting people with firearms or ammunition on the night of Jan. 5 at a pro-Trump rally on Freedom Plaza.

Hutchinson’s testimony leads to the question of incitement. An expert weighs in:

And before huffy cries of hearsay!are made (looking at you, House Judiciary GOP), I’ll leave you with Prof. Vladeck’s response :

She’s testifying to conversations in which *she* participated. That’s not hearsay. Party admissions are an exception to hearsay. She’s testifying under oath and under penalty of perjury; you’re just whining under neither.

Hutchinson’s testimony was jarring today because Trump and the White House knew that there were weapons in the crowd and that there was going to be violence but chose not to stop it before it was too late. Because, despite knowing about the weapons and violence, Trump wasn’t concerned because a) he knew that he wasn’t going to be targeted, and b) I believe that on some level he hoped the crowd would go after those he was convinced had wronged him. Not necessarily with weapons but certainly with intimidation and force. He didn’t care about anyone’s safety but his own. If Congress was targeted, so be it. If the Capitol police were targeted, so be it. If Mike Pence was targeted, well, good, he deserved it:

Former President Donald Trump said that former Vice President Mike Pence “deserved” it as rioters chanted “Hang Mike Pence” at the Capitol on January 6, according to a former White House aide.

Cassidy Hutchinson…said Tuesday that she heard a conversation between Meadows and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and in which Meadows said that Trump was happy with the rioters.

“I remember Pat saying something to the effect of, ‘Mark, we need to do something more. They’re literally calling for the vice president to be f-ing hung,'” Hutchinson said. “And Mark had responded something to the effect of, ‘You heard him Pat, he thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong.”

According to Hutchinson, Cipllione warned:

“Something needs to be done, or somebody is going to die and this is going to be on your effing hands.”

At the close of today’s hearing, a troubling presentation of witness tampering was made:

Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming offered the two examples of apparent witness tampering at the end of a surprise hearing held by the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 Capitol insurrection.

Cheney shared two messages that she said witnesses had received ahead of their depositions. The witnesses, who Cheney didn’t name, subsequently shared the messages with the committee.

“What they said to me is as long as I continue to be a team player, they know that I’m on the team, I’m doing the right thing, I’m protecting who I need to protect, you know, I’ll continue to stay in the good graces in Trump world,” the first text message read. “And they have reminded me a couple of times that Trump does read transcripts and just keep that in mind as I proceed through my depositions and interviews with the committee.”

A separate witness warning from Trumpworld came in the form of a phone call…

“[A person] let me know you have your deposition tomorrow. He wants me to let you know that he’s thinking about you. He knows you’re loyal, and you’re going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition,” the caller said.

Witness tampering is a federal crime.



Large Number Of Swing Voters Migrated To The Republican Party

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:44 pm

[guest post by Dana]

If you’re looking to talk about something other than Dobbs or abortin, consider this:

A political shift is beginning to take hold across the U.S. as tens of thousands of suburban swing voters who helped fuel the Democratic Party’s gains in recent years are becoming Republicans.

More than 1 million voters across 43 states have switched to the Republican Party over the last year, according to voter registration data analyzed by The Associated Press. The previously unreported number reflects a phenomenon that is playing out in virtually every region of the country — Democratic and Republican states along with cities and small towns — in the period since President Joe Biden replaced former President Donald Trump.

But nowhere is the shift more pronounced — and dangerous for Democrats — than in the suburbs, where well-educated swing voters who turned against Trump’s Republican Party in recent years appear to be swinging back. Over the last year, far more people are switching to the GOP across suburban counties from Denver to Atlanta and Pittsburgh and Cleveland. Republicans also gained ground in counties around medium-size cities such as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Raleigh, North Carolina; Augusta, Georgia; and Des Moines, Iowa.

Reasons cited as the catalyst for changing parties include: Democrats push for vaccine mandates, the no concrete solutions to decreasing violent crime, fear that the country is headed in the wrong direction, and the lurch toward the progressive wing of the party.

Exit question: The voter data that analyzed by the AP was done before Dobbs just a few days ago, so do you think any significant number of these swing voters will return to the Democratic Party as a result of Dobbs? And if so, do you think the number will be significant enough to worry the GOP?


A Word About Dobbs

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am

In discussing the Dobbs decision with Twitter leftists, I have noticed something unusual: if you got all of your abortion information from them, you wouldn’t even know that a second life (besides the life of the mother) is part of the equation. Many of them treat the decision to have an abortion as if it were a trivially easy issue about making your own health decisions, having no more moral significance than clipping your toenails.

It’s very common for them to refer to abortion as nothing more than an uncomplicated personal health care decision. It is a health care decision, but a unique one that involves another life. The Twitter leftists act like the baby is nothing more than an unwanted parasite, as if the mother played no part in its having arrived in her body. In their view, she just had bad luck, like getting struck by lightning.

The most obvious way to demonstrate the flaw in this position is to realize that, if you take it seriously, the mother may have a doctor stab her perfectly healthy baby in the head with a pair of scissors a week before the normal delivery date. She may do this on a whim, simply because she does not wish to continue “hosting” the “parasite” in her body.

I support an exception to anti-abortion laws for early-term abortions that are the product of rape. I would try to persuade a woman impregnated by a rapist to have the baby, but I would not have the state force her to do so, when she never took any voluntary action that she knew could result in pregnancy.

But if you chose to have sex, you knew that pregnancy was a possibility. You made a choice, and now another life is involved. To say the mother can end that life, unilaterally, even on a whim, at any point in the pregnancy, regardless of the baby’s health, strikes me as a morally monstrous position.

A popular one — on Twitter, at least (David French compares reading through the abortion comments on Twitter to taking a stroll through Berkeley). But monstrous nevertheless.


Constitutional Vanguard: The Chesa Boudin Recall, and What It Means for Los Angeles

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:13 am

This one took me a while to write (it’s 4000 words), but I hope you like it. It’s a dissertation on two recent massive pieces dealing with crime and District Attorneys in two major California cities. The first piece is about San Francisco, and was published in the Atlantic. The second piece is about Los Angeles, and was published on Bari Weiss’s Substack.

Excerpt from the free portion, about San Francisco:

Bowles describes an open-air safe space on Market Street dedicated to the care and “safe” drugging of addicts. Syringes are distributed to a zombie population of doped-up hoboes, in an area where tourists used to enjoy being sightseers. Nowadays, if some homeless (sorry, I mean “unhoused”) guy ends up bleeding on the sidewalk and an ambulance is called, advocacy groups stand by to advise the would-be patient that he doesn’t have to submit to treatment. He can stay right there in his druggie Shangri-La and die on the streets next month if he prefers. Many take the advice.

Excerpt from the paid portion:

As a personal note, though, I would like to add that cases where gang members are caught with guns are always cases that should get a prosecutor’s attention. We used to call such cases “murders waiting to happen.” It should not come as a shock to any elected D.A. that a policy of leniency to gang members with guns, especially when they have serious and/or violent felonies on their record, means some number of people are going to die as a result.

Become a subscriber and you’ll get to find out what I think of the effort to recall the D.A. in Los Angeles.


Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:33 pm

[guest post by Dana]

I realize that there was big news regarding the Supreme Court abortion decision today, but because JVW covered it this morning, I’m not including it in today’s news items (but obviously you can comment on it at this post, if you want).

Housekeeping: I want to briefly address the criticism that I am not posting what some readers think I should post in the Weekend Open Thread. First, an “open thread” means just that: you are free to post and link to any news item that interests you. Whether others will want to talk about it, is anybody’s guess. Second, if I haven’t posted about your preferred subject, just accept that I was either unaware of the issue or that other items interested me more. If you think that’s wrong, or feel the need to make a moral judgment about me for not posting what you want, please cut to the chase:

Thank you.

So with that out of the way, let’s go!

First news item



Second news item

About bodily autonomy and abortion:

This basic bodily autonomy argument for abortion was first fully articulated in 1971 by moral philosopher Judith Jarvis Thomson. Thomson stipulated for the sake of argument that the unborn child is a human being—and even that it is a human person. But she nonetheless justified abortion as non-intentional killing. Her famous analogy compared a pregnant woman to a hypothetical individual who, without his consent, has been hooked up to a famous violinist who is sick and requires this connection to remain alive. Imagine someone with kidney or liver failure who needs to be plugged into your body so he can rely on your kidney or your liver for, say, nine months, until a transplant could be found.

In Thomson’s analogy, just as it would be morally acceptable for you to choose to detach from the violinist, even if you know he will die as a result, so too would it be acceptable for a pregnant woman to have the unborn child detached. In neither case did you consent to having the violinist plugged in or the child exist in the womb. And in neither case are you seeking the person’s death. You don’t want it for its own sake, nor do you want it for the sake of something else it will bring. Death is neither your means nor your end, in the jargon of philosophers. It isn’t intended, only foreseen. You cut someone off from invasive access to your body, while knowing this will result in death. With this argument, Thomson portrayed pregnancy as an act of violence against women. Just as the violinist was secretly hooked up without your knowledge or consent, violating your bodily integrity, so too the child conceived and growing in the womb does so without permission.

Thomson’s argument fails spectacularly…First, the bodily autonomy argument for abortion could only get off the ground if abortion entailed unintentional killing. But unlike the case of the violinist, where the intention truly is just to detach—with his death a foreseen but unintended side effect—in the case of abortion, the intended outcome is a dead child. Thomson’s hypothetical is wrong about what people want when they seek abortion. An abortion where the child survives is a failed abortion. By contrast, a detachment from the violinist where the violinist survives would be considered a success. In performing an abortion, the abortionist doesn’t seek only to remove an “invading” child from a womb but also to ensure that the child no longer exists. (This is why the pro-abortion movement opposes even the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which would legally protect newborns who survive an attempted abortion.)

Second, the analogy between abortion and the violinist is a non-starter in any case other than when the pregnancy itself was the result of a violation of bodily integrity—as it would be if the violinist were hooked up to you. The analogy doesn’t apply to nearly all pregnancies, the vast majority of which result from consensual sex. In fact, the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute’s research has shown that only 1 percent of abortions are obtained in cases of rape—a percentage that holds steady across decades of data.

Third news item

The House sends President Biden gun violence bill:

The House sent President Joe Biden the most wide-ranging gun violence bill Congress has passed in decades on Friday, a measured compromise that at once illustrates progress on the long-intractable issue and the deep-seated partisan divide that persists.

The Democratic-led chamber approved the election-year legislation on a mostly party-line 234-193 vote, capping a spurt of action prompted by voters’ revulsion over last month’s mass shootings in New York and Texas. The night before, the Senate approved it by a bipartisan 65-33 margin, with 15 Republicans joining all Democrats in supporting a package that senators from both parties had crafted.

The bill would incrementally toughen requirements for young people to buy guns, deny firearms from more domestic abusers and help local authorities temporarily take weapons from people judged to be dangerous. Most of its $13 billion cost would go to bolster mental health programs and for schools, which have been targeted in Newtown, Connecticut, Parkland, Florida and many other infamous massacres.

14 GOP members vote YES:

Liz Cheney
Adam Kinzinger
Tom Rice
John Katko
Maria Salazar
Chris Jacobs
Brian Fitzpatrick
Peter Meijer
Fred Upton
Steve Chabot
Mike Turner
David Joyce
Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio
Tony Gonzalez of Texas


What I remember about guns is that I remember almost nothing about guns. People owned them; they didn’t talk about them. They didn’t cover their cars in bumper stickers about them, they didn’t fly flags about them, they didn’t pose for dumb pictures with them. (I’ll plead one personal exemption: When I was a little boy, relatives in Greece once posed me in a Greek Evzone-soldier costume with my uncle’s hunting shotgun. I could barely lift it.)

Today, there is a neediness in the gun culture that speaks to deep insecurities among a certain kind of American citizen. The gun owners I knew—cops, veterans, hunters, sportsmen—owned guns as part of their life, sometimes as tools, sometimes for recreation. Gun ownership was not the central and defining feature of their life…

I have always trusted my fellow citizens with weapons. Now the most vocal advocates for unfettered gun ownership are men sitting in their cars in sunglasses and baseball caps, recording themselves as they dump unhinged rants into their phones about their rights and conspiracies and socialism.

Fourth news item

Supreme Court and Miranda:

The Supreme Court ruled today, 6–3, that if a police officer fails to inform you of your right to remain silent and avoid self-incrimination when you’re suspected of a crime, you can’t sue under federal law as a violation of your civil rights.

To be clear, the Court isn’t overturning Miranda v. Arizona, the 1966 Supreme Court ruling that determined that it’s a violation of a suspect’s Fifth Amendment rights for police to interrogate him or her about a crime without informing them they have the right to remain silent and the right to request an attorney. But what the Court ruled today is that if and when this right is violated, people can’t turn to Section 1983 of the U.S. code and file a civil action lawsuit against the police officer or law enforcement agency and seek redress or damages.

Fifth news item


…Russian Ambassador ANATOLY ANTONOV had a big-name dining companion for lunch Thursday at Café Milano in Georgetown: former U.S. envoy for Afghanistan ZALMAY KHALILZAD. The two were hosted by DIMITRI SIMES, president and CEO of the Center for the National Interest. Our colleague Daniel Lippman was at a neighboring table, overheard the conversation, and took notes on what was said.

On the war in Ukraine: The Russian ambassador agreed when Khalilzad said “we need an agreement” to end the war between Ukraine and Russia. On the prospect of a peace deal, Antonov asked Khalilzad, “What would [the U.S.] like us to give up?” Khalilzad suggested that Antonov have dinner with the Ukrainian ambassador. In an apparent reference to Russia’s false claims that neo-Nazis are running Ukraine, Antonov asked Khalilzad: “You have a lot of Jewish guys in the United States. Why are they so tolerant of what’s happening in Kyiv?”

— On Zelenskyy: Antonov expressed befuddlement over Ukrainian President VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, and said he doesn’t “understand [Zelenskyy’s] vision for the future of Ukraine.”

— On U.S.-Russia relations: “We don’t get any respect” from Washington, Antonov complained, adding that Russia “need[s] respect” and “would like [the U.S.] to respect” it. Asked what might lead to the normalization of relations with the U.S., Antonov told Khalilzad, “I cannot answer your question,” but later said that Russia needed “security guarantees.”

— On diplomacy: Antonov bemoaned the lack of dialogue and communication between the U.S. and Russia, comparing it unfavorably to the Cuban missile crisis, during which the U.S. and Soviet Union continued to talk. Near the end of the lunch, Antonov said: “Zal, I would like to use your contacts and your contacts in this administration,” and Khalilzad discussed the need for a “track two” in communications between the U.S and Russia.

— On a new media outlet: Simes discussed a business idea of his: starting a new TV channel in Moscow, which Khalilzad said could be “very lucrative.” “Don’t forget my request to be junior partner,” Antonov joked. (It is not clear how serious Simes is about his idea.)

Sixth news item

Party before all else:

Finding signs to worry about the future of American democracy is not hard, but few are quite so painful and acute as the cognitive dissonance displayed by Rusty Bowers this week.

Bowers, the Republican speaker of the Arizona State House, was the star witness during yesterday’s hearing of the U.S. House’s January 6 committee. Bowers calls himself a conservative Republican, and he has the record to back that claim up. Like most Republicans, he supported Donald Trump in the 2020 election, but when Trump and Rudy Giuliani tried to pressure him to assist in their scheme to overturn the results of the election in Arizona, where Joe Biden narrowly won, Bowers refused.

Bowers’s testimony was powerful because it was somber, serious, and clearly heartfelt. This is also why it was threatening to Trump, who issued a statement before the hearing even began, attacking Bowers and claiming he’d agreed with Trump that the election was rigged. Under oath, Bowers said flatly that Trump’s account was false.

And yet in an interview with the Associated Press published yesterday, Bowers also said he would back Trump if he runs for president in 2024. “If he is the nominee, if he was up against Biden, I’d vote for him again,” Bowers said. “Simply because what he did the first time, before COVID, was so good for the country. In my view it was great.”

Once you’ve decided that your specific policy planks are more important than ensuring that the fundamental system survives, however, the result sooner or later is a government that has no interest in the will of the people. Imagining this doesn’t take much creativity: After the 2020 election, Trump tried to ignore the will of the people and remain in power. He was stopped only by the courage of people such as Rusty Bowers. If even Bowers is willing to back Trump again, despite his eloquent condemnations, the outlook for popular democracy is very bleak.

Seventh news item

Ukrainian troops withdraw:

Ukrainian troops will have to withdraw from the besieged eastern city of Severodonetsk, the regional governor said Friday…The last remaining major city in the Luhansk region of the Donbas still under Ukrainian control has endured weeks of bombardment by Russia’s invading forces…Lysychansk, Severodonetsk’s twin city in the Luhansk region, has also endured days of heavy shelling, prompting a Ukrainian official to warn the battle for the Donbas is “entering a sort of fearsome climax” this week…”Unfortunately, we will have to remove our military from Severodonetsk, because staying in broken positions makes no sense — the number of dead is growing,” Luhansk region Gov. Serhiy Haidai said in a Telegram post…”Defenders of Severodonetsk will leave the city for new, more fortified positions,” Haidai said in a later post.

Ammunition shortages plague Ukraine’s troops:

Ukraine is running out of shells for the majority of its artillery in part because of a clandestine Russian campaign of bullying and sabotage over the past eight years, including bombings of key munitions depots across Eastern Europe that officials have linked to Moscow, according to Ukrainian government officials and military analysts.

Fighting in eastern and southern Ukraine is now almost exclusively a near-constant exchange of artillery, and Ukraine’s shortage of shells has exacerbated what was already a mismatch on the battlefield against a Russian military with more weapons. Russia is firing more than 60,000 shells per day — 10 times more than the Ukrainians, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar told The Washington Post.

Most of Ukraine’s artillery pieces date back to the Soviet Union, meaning they rely on the same 122mm- and 152mm-caliber rounds that Russia uses. But outside of Russia, very little supply exists — in large part because Russia spent years targeting Ukrainian and other Eastern European ammunition storage facilities and suppliers before launching its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in late February. Russia has also taken other steps to acquire the ammunition or otherwise prevent its sale to Ukraine.

“Even if everyone gives us this ammunition, it will still not be enough,” Malyar said, adding that Ukraine uses more of the 152mm shells than are produced globally in one day.

Howitzers used by NATO and the United States fire 105mm and 155mm shells. Western countries supplied Ukraine with plenty of those shells but only a limited number of systems to fire them. Despite U.S. and European pledges to send more artillery, Ukraine still does not have enough to replace its old Soviet-era equipment entirely with NATO-standard weaponry.

A U.S. citizen helping to broker weapons transfers to Ukraine said he recently approached an Eastern European country to negotiate a purchase of artillery rounds. Officials in that country said they couldn’t make a deal, the man said, because the Russians had already warned that they would “kill them if they sold anything to the Ukrainians.”

Eighth news item

Opinion writer expresses wrong opinion, gets demoted:

Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper chain, with more than 200 daily newspapers, announced this month that it’s walking away from opinion sections like the one you’re reading. USA Today’s liberal editorial page editor said they failed to “evolve.”

I know something about Gannett’s evolution since I was USA Today’s deputy editorial page editor until August, when I was demoted after I tweeted, “People who are pregnant are also women.”

That idea was forbidden because a “news reporter” covering diversity, equity and inclusion wrote a story detailing how transgender men can get pregnant. I compounded my sin against this new orthodoxy by calling the idea that men can get pregnant an “opinion.”

If I wanted to keep any job at USA Today, my bosses informed me, I needed to delete these offensive tweets because they were causing pain to the LGBTQ activists and journalists on our staff.

Now, I have been an opinion journalist for 30 years — I thought I was authorized to have opinions. The idea that women are the ones who get pregnant has gone from scientific fact to opinion to outright falsehood in the blink of an eye. Nevertheless, it remains my opinion that women get pregnant…

Ninth news item

Developments in Uvalde investigation bring no comfort to parents or the community:

No security footage from inside the school showed police officers attempting to open the doors to classrooms 111 and 112, which were connected by an adjoining door. Arredondo told the Tribune that he tried to open one door and another group of officers tried to open another, but that the door was reinforced and impenetrable. Those attempts were not caught in the footage reviewed by the Tribune. Some law enforcement officials are skeptical that the doors were ever locked.

Within the first minutes of the law enforcement response, an officer said the Halligan (a firefighting tool that is also sometimes spelled hooligan) was on site. It wasn’t brought into the school until an hour after the first officers entered the building. Authorities didn’t use it and instead waited for keys.

Officers had access to four ballistic shields inside the school during the standoff with the gunman, according to a law enforcement transcript. The first arrived 58 minutes before officers stormed the classrooms. The last arrived 30 minutes before.

Multiple Department of Public Safety officers — up to eight, at one point — entered the building at various times while the shooter was holed up. Many quickly left to pursue other duties, including evacuating children, after seeing the number of officers already there. At least one of the officers expressed confusion and frustration about why the officers weren’t breaching the classroom, but was told that no order to do so had been given.

At least some officers on the scene seemed to believe that Arredondo was in charge inside the school, and at times Arredondo seemed to be issuing orders such as directing officers to evacuate students from other classrooms. That contradicts Arredondo’s assertion that he did not believe he was running the law enforcement response. Arredondo’s lawyer, George E. Hyde, said the chief will not elaborate on his interview with the Tribune, given the ongoing investigation.

It’s been a long week. I hope everyone has a restful weekend.


As Expected, Supreme Court Upholds Dobbs, Overturns Roe and Casey

Filed under: General — JVW @ 8:01 am

[guest post by JVW]

We saw this coming nearly two months ago when Justice Alito’s draft of the Dobbs case was leaked, but this morning it became official. The opinions of the Court are posted here.

Taken from the Syllabus of the decision:

Held: The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.
(a) The critical question is whether the Constitution, properly understood, confers a right to obtain an abortion. Casey’s controlling opinion skipped over that question and reaffirmed Roe solely on the basis of stare decisis. A proper application of stare decisis, however, requires an assessment of the strength of the grounds on which Roe was based. The Court therefore turns to the question that the Casey plurality did not consider.

[. . . ] The Constitution makes no express reference to a right to obtain an abortion, but several constitutional provisions have been offered as potential homes for an implicit constitutional right. [. . .]

[. . .] The Court finds that the right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and tradition. The underlying theory on which Casey rested—that the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause provides substantive, as well as procedural, protection for “liberty” — has long been controversial. [. . .]

[. . .] In interpreting what is meant by “liberty,” the Court must guard against the natural human tendency to confuse what the Fourteenth Amendment protects with the Court’s own ardent views about the liberty that Americans should enjoy. For this reason, the Court has been “reluctant” to recognize rights that are not mentioned in the Constitution.

Guided by the history and tradition that map the essential components of the Nation’s concept of ordered liberty, the Court finds the Fourteenth Amendment clearly does not protect the right to an abortion. [. . .] By the time the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted, three-quarters of the States had made abortion a crime at any stage of pregnancy. This consensus endured until the day Roe was decided. Roe either ignored or misstated this history, and Casey declined to reconsider Roe’s faulty historical analysis.

[. . .]

[. . .] Ordered liberty sets limits and defines the boundary between competing interests. Roe and Casey each struck a particular balance between the interests of a woman who wants an abortion and the interests of what they termed “potential life.” But the people of the various States may evaluate those interests differently. The Nation’s historical understanding of ordered liberty does not prevent the people’s elected representatives from deciding how abortion should be regulated.

[Note: citations have been removed from the opinion to make it easier to read.]

The majority opinion was written by Alito, joined by Thomas, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett. Chief Justice Roberts filed a concurring opinion. Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan filed a dissent. I don’t have time to read through each opinion right now, but I look forward to doing so over the weekend.

UPDATE: On Twitter, Comfortably Smug points out something that we’ll probably see a lot of this weekend. Maybe the greatest social benefit of this decision is that it will put an end to the “menstruating persons” nonsense. (That was written with tongue firmly in cheek, by the way.)

UPDATE II: I should have scrolled further on my Twitter feed to note that the Boss had it first:


Biden Admin Seeks to Undermine Title IX; Little Aloha Sweetie to the Rescue

Filed under: General — JVW @ 6:52 am

[guest post by JVW]

In “celebrating” the anniversary of Title IX earlier this week, the Biden Administration quietly undermined it by insisting that transgender females be given expansive rights to participate in women and girls sports, despite the biological advantages they may have accrued while male. Appearing with Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, President Biden put the full weight of the federal government behind the transgender agenda:

One proposed change “would make clear that preventing any person from participating in an education program or activity consistent with their gender identity would subject them to more than de minimis harm on the basis of sex and therefore be prohibited, unless otherwise permitted by Title IX or the regulations.”

If adopted, the rule change would bar universities and any other federally funded institutions from maintaining men’s and women’s sports and sex-segregated spaces like locker rooms and dormitories.

And there you have it: further proof of the leftward lurch of Joe Biden, who won his party’s nomination largely because he seemed to be immune to the loudest voices in his coalition who were demanding radical social change. In retrospect, it would seem that perhaps the confused old codger was simply unaware of this stuff, and now that it is in front of him he lacks the intellectual wherewithal and the common sense to reject it. This ill-conceived decision hearkens back to the Obama Administration’s notorious 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter sent to university administrators instructing them to take a harsher stance against allegations of sexual abuse, which critics claim led to agenda-driven campus disciplinary proceedings against young men which were administered via kangaroo courts. The idea in both cases being to placate a loud and media-savvy group, collateral damage be dammed.

At a time when FINA, international swimming’s governing body, has tightened their rules with respect to under what circumstances a former male can compete as a female — rules which were expected to be adopted by the NCAA in the wake of the Lia Thomas controversy this past spring — the Biden Administration is seeking to circumvent the international sport regulations by apparently proposing the loosest possible rules imaginable and demanding that schools who participate in NCAA-sanctioned athletics adopt them. Instead of trying to navigate the shoals between all-or-nothing transgender activists and supporters of women athletics (including many feminist Democrats) who want to see a biologically-level playing field, Joe Biden sided with the radicals, as has been his wont lately.

And you know who is not having any of this nonsense? Sure you do. Former Hawai’i Congresswoman and Presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard has little use for woke posturing and she appeared yesterday at a pro-woman sports rally in Washington DC and spoke with Maddy Kearns of NRO, who is doing absolutely fantastic work to expose the dishonesty and underhandedness of the transgender lobby. Read the entire interview, presented in transcript format, to understand what draws our Warrior Princess to this cause. Here she is discussing the bravery of the young women who dare to question left-wing transgender orthodoxy:

Kearns: Why don’t you fear this [ostracism from progressive Democrats], then? Given that a lot of Democratic politicians —

Gabbard: Because I choose not to be driven by fear. You know, my actions are driven by my desire to do what I can to be of service to make a positive impact to serve the best interests of the people of this country, men and women alike, for all Americans. And I don’t care what the backlash may be. Just as women for generations fought for the rights of women, fought for Title IX to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, they faced backlash, and they were ostracized, and they were criticized. It’s that kind of courage that we need to see from our leaders today. And it’s that kind of courage that we’re seeing from these young women, these athletes here today who are choosing to use their voice to represent the many who are being directly impacted by this today, and to represent those who will come after and whose future in many ways will be impacted based on what we choose to do or not do at this moment.

[. . .]

Kearns: What would you like to see with regard to policy to push back on some of this stuff? Today, the Biden administration came out with regulations redefining “sex” to include gender identity. What can be done about that?

Gabbard: Congress needs to pass legislation. I mean, that’s the check and balance of the executive and the legislative branch. Congress needs to pass legislation in order to stop that action, [the] Biden administration’s action from moving forward because it will directly undermine Title IX and erase the progress that women have made.

I wanted her to be the Democrats’ nominee for President, and when it became obvious that wasn’t going to happen, I urged Joe Biden to name her as his running mate, but he instead went for the vacuous and annoying lady who used to — uh — “keep company” with Willie Brown. But the Little Aloha Sweetie is correct: it’s high-time for Congress to get off of its duff and push legislation to protect women athletes and keep the playing fields fair.



Supreme Court Says No to NY Concealed-Carry Restrictions

Filed under: General — JVW @ 8:15 am

[guest post by JVW]

Gun control activist’s minds are about to explode:

The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that New York’s “proper-cause” requirement to obtain a concealed-carry license is unconstitutional as it violates ordinary citizens’ Second Amendment rights.

The Court voted 6-3 to strike down the New York law, which has been in place since 1913 and required that people show a special need to obtain a license to carry a concealed handgun outside the home.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in a majority opinion in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to carry a gun outside the home, adding that the state’s “proper cause” requirement “violates the Fourteenth Amendment by preventing law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms in public for self-defense.”

Justice Kavanaugh filed a concurring opinion joined by Chief Justice Roberts which agreed that New York’s proper-cause requirement imposed an unreasonable burden, but they were careful to declare that states still reserved the right to impose licensing requirements for concealed carry, so long as those requirements are similar to those found in “shall-issue” states. This of course means that the Court will likely be hearing another case several years down the road in which a state like New York or California sets such rigid licensing requirements as to effectively deny permits to the vast majority of applicants. But for now, this ruling is a victory for the common-sense notion that a law-abiding citizen need not be facing some specific danger in order to exercise their Second and Fourteenth Amendment rights.


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