Patterico's Pontifications


Gov. Newsom Says He’s Out For 2024, President Biden Mulls Re-Election

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:57 am

[guest post by Dana]

As President Biden considers whether to seek re-election, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California says that he won’t be running for the presidency in 2024:

[Gov.] Newsom wants the word to go forth: He’s not going to challenge President Biden for the Democratic nomination in 2024.

“I’ve told everyone in the White House, from the chief of staff to the first lady,” he recounted to me as we sat on the top floor of California’s now-ceremonial governor’s mansion on election night.

The governor insists he won’t run for president even if Biden doesn’t run — “the answer is no,” he said — but is less emphatic about 2028, when he’ll turn 61 and his children will be older.

President Biden just turned 80 years old. Last week, Nancy Pelosi (age 82) and Steny Hoyer (age 83) announced that they would not be seeking leadership positions again. One would think that might send a signal to Biden, as in make way for a younger generation. But at least one analyst doesn’t think the message will have any impact on Biden:

Allan Lichtman, distinguished professor of history at American University, said Pelosi and Hoyer stepping aside when the House flipped this month won’t stop Biden from running for another term.

“They are no longer in charge of the House. This was the perfect moment for them to step aside. I don’t think there’s any correlation between Hoyer and Pelosi stepping down on any decisionmaking for Biden,” he said. “Presidents have almost invariably sought reelection regardless of their age.”

For Democrats, Lichtman said, “The last thing you would want is Biden to step down and have an open seat.”

“Democrats do not want an open seat and don’t want a party fight for the nomination,” Lichtman said.

Anyway, I think Biden plans to run again, despite his poll numbers remaining underwater. If he doesn’t run, one is hard-pressed to see any party standouts for 2024. Surely not the temperamental and inarticulate vice president who made an early exit in the 2020 presidential campaign.

Note from the Los Angeles Times: As of Nov. 15, 40% of registered voters had a favorable opinion of [Kamala] Harris and 54% had an unfavorable opinion — a net rating of -14 percentage points, according to a Times average.

Also, in a recent post-midterm election poll, 42% of Democrats wanted Biden to be the nominee, compared to just 17% for Harris, and 12% for Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Another reason to think that Biden will be running again is the active courting of deep-pocketed donors:

The White House is cranking up its donor courtship, a strategy that’s most evident in a shower of social invitations for big-dollar supporters: this week’s state dinner for French President Emmanuel Macron, the arrival and lighting of the national Christmas tree, Biden’s Christmas parties and Vice President Kamala Harris’ Hanukkah celebration among them. They’re offering more policy briefings to longtime supporters, Zoom calls with top administration officials and White House tours, too.

The donors have taken notice and already are praising the change from a team they long complained was unavailable to answer questions in darker political moments for Biden, according to interviews with more than 20 people who have contributed to Biden, raised money for him or helped secure White House invitations for his supporters.

An expanded social calendar means “they are getting down the list a little further,” in terms of who gets face time with the president, said one White House official. And that could pay dividends for Biden if he runs in 2024.

Donor maintenance is a critical step for the administration should Biden seek re-election and even beyond, when he will likely want to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for a presidential library.

Names that have been bandied about as potential candidates (if Biden doesn’t run and excluding Gov. Newsom) include Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Cory Booker, and even Sen. Bernie Sanders (who is 81 years old). But remember, Biden has already proven that he can defeat Trump. And I think that, once again, this is what the next presidential election will be about…

Anecdotal: A still-sharp, nonagenarian relative from New York, who has been a lifelong Democrat and describes himself as being “to the left of Bernie Sanders,” told me last week that he doesn’t want Biden to run again because of his age and that he has concerns about his mental acuity. When pressed to name a Democrat with executive experience, charisma, and the ability to get Democrats to rally behind them in a national election, he said there were no real stand-outs to speak of.


Mitch McConnell Warns: It’s Unlikely You’ll Be Elected President If You Meet With Anti-Semites And White Supremacists

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:05 am

[guest post by Dana]

Considering today’s Republican Party, I have my doubts about the accuracy of McConnell’s statement, but we’ll see soon enough…

Mitch McConnell called out Donald Trump about the inappropriateness of that now infamous dinner:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell condemned former President Trump for his dinner with Kanye West and white nationalist Nick Fuentes, saying anyone meeting with individuals with views of antisemitism or white supremacy is “highly unlikely to ever be elected president of the United States.”

“There is no room in the Republican Party for antisemitism or white supremacy,” McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday. “And anyone meeting with people advocating that point of view, in my judgment, are highly unlikely to ever be elected president of the United States.”

McConnell was right to publicly condemn the actions of the man who hopes to become the next sitting president of the United States. However, we know as well as McConnell that, unfortunately, today’s Republican Party actually does have plenty of room for anti-Semitism and white supremacy. He’s seen it up close and in person for six years. In fact, in February 2022, McConnell said virtually the same thing as he did yesterday after Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar spoke at a gathering of white nationalists in Florida. And speaking of MTG:

You can read here how every Republican Senator and every member of Republican House leadership responded (or didn’t respond) to questions of whether they believed it was appropriate for Trump to have met with Nick Fuentes and Ye (Kanye West), whether they condemn meeting, and for non-leadership members, whether they called on party leadership to speak out on it.



Stating the Obvious: We Don’t Have To Agree On Everything

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:33 am

[guest post by Dana]

Helena Bonham Carter talks cancel culture:

**“Do you ban a genius for their sexual practices? There would be millions of people who if you looked closely enough at their personal life you would disqualify them. You can’t ban people. I hate cancel culture. It has become quite hysterical and there’s a kind of witch hunt and a lack of understanding.”

The actress was also impassioned about the blowback that Harry Potter author Rowling has received over comments that have been criticized as transphobic. Bonham Carter played Bellatrix Lestrange in the four most recent Harry Potter films.

“It’s horrendous, a load of bollocks. I think she has been hounded,” Bonham Carter said about Rowling. “It’s been taken to the extreme, the judgmentalism of people. She’s allowed her opinion, particularly if she’s suffered abuse. Everybody carries their own history of trauma and forms their opinions from that trauma and you have to respect where people come from and their pain. You don’t all have to agree on everything — that would be insane and boring. She’s not meaning it aggressively, she’s just saying something out of her own experience.”

I hate that we’re culturally at a point where it’s a Big Deal when a public figure makes a very reasonable observation: We don’t have to agree on everything.

[Ed. note: Commenter Nic points out that there is a balancing act to what HBC said. Specifically: “Do you ban a genius for their sexual practices? There would be millions of people who if you looked closely enough at their personal life you would disqualify them.” Nic opined: “Do we cancel a genius for drugging and raping a very young teen? Well, that pretty much is beyond what I’m willing to accept in return for an entertaining 2 hr movie or 8.” I said that I didn’t think that HBC was including geniuses who commit crimes against minors in her statement. However, Nic pointed out, correctly, that HBC has worked with Roman Polanski (2012). I was completely unaware of this fact, and am now in full agreement with Nic’s point on that portion of HBC’s comment.]


China Protests

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:15 am

[guest post by Dana]

With a heartwrenching mix of courage and fear, protesters are risking life and limb for freedom in China:

It was clear that many protesters blame Mr. Xi for the extremely unpopular “zero-Covid” policy. A young Shanghai professional with the surname Zhang said that Mr. Xi’s norm-breaking third term, secured at last month’s party congress, spelled the end of China’s progress. “We all gave up our illusions,” he said.

The young protesters are most conflicted about the impact of their actions. They felt powerless about changing the system as long as Mr. Xi and the Communist Party are in power. They believe that many people in the public supported them because the unyielding Covid rules have violated what they see as baseline norms of Chinese society. Once the government relaxes the policy, they worry, the public’s support for protests would evaporate.

Even now, authorities appear to be ready to quash the protests:

In what appears to be the first official response – albeit veiled – to the protests, China’s domestic security chief vowed at a meeting Tuesday to “effectively maintain overall social stability.”

Without mentioning the demonstrations, Chen Wenqing urged law enforcement officials to “resolutely strike hard against infiltration and sabotage activities by hostile forces, as well as illegal and criminal acts that disrupt social order,” the state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

Here is a comprehensive look at why it is nearly impossible for protesters to evade the authorities.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration is being cautious with regard to a response to the protests:

Top US officials who have been closely monitoring the unrest in China have made two things clear in the past few days: that the Biden administration supports any people’s right to peacefully protest and that it simply does not see China’s so-called zero-Covid policy as a sound approach.

But administration officials have been careful not to step beyond the contours of those public comments, carefully stepping around broader questions about the US’s assessment of the situation or its potential future role in supporting the Chinese people’s cries for more freedom…

A senior US official emphasized to CNN that the White House is being careful not to overstate the nature of the protests, noting that while there have been some calls for Xi Jinping to step down, as of now, most of the protests in the country of over one billion people seem small, localized and aimed more at the narrow goals of ending the Covid lockdowns and securing better working conditions than a loftier push for democracy.

“We have to be very careful of not creating a distorted reality,” the official said.

I’ll leave you with an incredible example of the courage these young protesters are displaying:

When someone first chanted, “No more Communist Party,” the crowd laughed, according to Serena, a college student who is spending her gap year in Shanghai. “Everyone knew it was the redline,” she said.

Then it became increasingly charged. When someone yelled, “Xi Jinping, step down!” and “C.C.P., step down!” the shouts were the loudest, according to Serena and other protesters who were also there.



About *That* Dinner…

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:17 pm

[guest post by Dana]

I’m already tired of the story, but… I don’t know where you fall on whether we need to take the former president to task for his appalling lack of discretion regarding with whom he broke bread or whether we should just ignore the whole matter altogether. I am, of course, talking about Trump’s now infamous dinner with a vulgar anti-Semite and a racist white nationalist who has denied the Holocaust while referring Jews “burnt in concentration camps to cookies in an oven”.

Over at NRO, Jim Geraghty offers his take on the do-we-or-don’t-we-discuss conundrum:

I also go back and forth on the question of whether it’s worth it to commit significant amounts of time and energy to denouncing Trump’s gathering.

A former president choosing to meet with this ugly crowd is too newsworthy to ignore, and anyone with a shred of decency or functioning brain cells would, could, and should say, “no, you should not welcome a hip-hop star who recently pledged to go to ‘Death Con Three on Jewish people’ and a Holocaust-denying white nationalist.”

On the other hand, this is a familiar-to-the-point-of-boring part of Trump’s schtick and pattern of welcoming all controversy and all coverage, and uncontrollable neediness for praise — and Fuentes’s desire to be a bigger deal than the little troll that he is. It feels like by talking about that dinner, even to denounce the attendees, we’re doing all of those narcissists a favor.

Maybe we are, but I don’t think so. My feeling is that when an individual is seeking to hold the highest office in the land, everything he says and does is fair game, and more imporantly, *should be* scrutinized. There is no excuse for his behavior and with whom he chooses to associate with. There is also no pleading ignorance on the matter. Period. With that, nothing Trump does should surprise us. Nothing at all. Despite his multiple defenses and excuses for having said-bottom dwellers over for dinner, the fact remains that he will engage with anyone from whom he thinks he might benefit. And I mean anyone. The quality of the individual matters little. It’s all transactional. Given the moral fiber and character of Trump, the bar can always be lowered if the individual he is entertaining is that reprehensible.

Anyway, it’s been interesting to watch Republicans struggle to respond to Trump’s utter lack of judgment. It’s been nothing but crickets for almost a week. Let’s check in and see who has been brave enough to step into the fray. Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana tweeted his condemenation:

Sadly, Sen. Cassidy, this *is* indeed today’s Republican Party…

Along with Sen. Cassidy, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) said that the Republican Party should condemn white supremacy and antisemitism:

“There’s no room in the Republican Party for white supremacists and antisemitism, so it’s wrong,” he told reporters as senators returned to the Capitol for votes.

Sen. John Thune of South Dakota was more general and less condemning in his reaction:

It’s interesting that Thune doesn’t condemn Trump’s judgment and behavior, but rather puts the blame on an advisor. He knows, as do we, that it doesn’t matter if anyone on Trump’s staff warned him against entertaining those specific guests because he wouldn’t have listened.

It’s good to see a few Republicans speak out, but you know who didn’t wait a week and test the political winds before condeming the former president’s lack of judgment? You guessed it:

There’s some irony that the one Republican who has been virtually rejected by the Republican Party at large because she refused to go-along-to-get-along, continues to stand firm in her principles and those of the (once) Republican Party. The woman that the Republican Party wants nothing to do with is the one brave enough to say what should be publicly said. For the sake of a lost Republican Party, and the viability of its future.

Once upon a time, Rep. Cheney faced the same decision that these silent Republicans face: Do I risk my political career by condeming the egregious behavior of the man who wants to become the next POTUS the sitting President of the United States, or do I keep quiet to save my political career? I wonder how many more opportunities to do the right thing with regard to Trump these cowards will have. How many more opportunities to publicly stand on the espoused values and principles of the Party and condemn that which runs against its very fiber? I guess if you’re too afraid to condemn Trump for something as breathtakingly awful as fomenting an insurrection and attempting to overthrow a legitimate election outcome, why on earth would you risk everything because of a vile little dinner party…

P.S. Today Mike Pence called on Trump to apologize. He said that he doesn’t believe that the former president is a racist, bigot, or anti-Semite.

P.P.S. Mitt Romney doesn’t hold back:

“There is no bottom to the degree to which he’s willing to degrade himself, and the country for that matter. Having dinner with those people was disgusting,” Romney said, according to NBC News, noting that he “voted to remove (Trump) from office twice” and saying “anybody else” would be a better party leader.

“I don’t think he should be president of the United States. I don’t think he should be the nominee of our party in 2024,” he said. “And I certainly don’t want him hanging over our party like a gargoyle.”



Bad News Round-up, Thanksgiving Edition

Filed under: General — JVW @ 10:38 am

[guest post by JVW]

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday every year, so why not ruin it by dumping a lot of recent bad news the day before? Here we go:

Item One:
Keeping with what has become a hallowed holiday tradition, the Democrats are fixin’ to have their voters argue politics at the Thanksgiving dinner table. And since they don’t expect them to be conversant on current events, they have once again provided a handy cheat-sheet of talking points.

Proving that those who are obsessed with politics inevitably ruin holiday harmony, and then blame mean old right-wing Uncle Fred for being so bull-headed.

(But you have to laugh at bewildered political hack Ron Klain trying to adopt youthful slang but then butchering it with weirdly misplaced quotation marks: “at you.”)

Item Two:
Oregon just elected its seventh consecutive Democrat as governor, extending a streak which dates back 36 years. The state has become a lefty haven, as the highly populated and woke coastal areas dominate the more remote and conservative interior (sound familiar, Californians?). And Portland has of course become synonymous with trendy, brainless, self-defeating radical leftism. So much so, that on Monday the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office released a list of 300 people whose criminal cases had been dismissed by judges because the county can’t find public defenders to handle their cases. Most of these cases were run-of-the-mill car thefts, fleeing from law enforcement, and illegally possessing weapons, as you might expect, but some dropped charges include assault, drunken driving, hit-and-run driving, identity theft, and other more serious crimes. Way to create that progressive paradise, Oregonians.

Item Three:
To no one’s surprise, California’s harsh lockdown and school closures have led to a clear decline in learning for California schoolchildren.

Before COVID-19 hit and authorities closed schools to limit spread of the deadly disease, California’s students were largely failing to meet the state’s own standards of skills necessary for productive adult lives, as well as faring poorly in nationwide testing. That was particularly true for the 60% of those children classified as poor or “English learner.”

On Monday [October 24], both federal and state governments released results from the latest tests, indicating that the pandemic’s makeshift efforts to teach homebound students reduced learning even more and widened the already yawning “achievement gap.”

Now we know why the teachers’ unions were pushing so hard to have testing postponed in the aftermath of COVID lockdowns. How bad is the state’s performance? Compare it to two conservative-leaning states which progressives like to mock and which sent kids back to school far earlier than did the Golden State:

[Gelatinous-maned Governor Gavin] Newsom cherry-picked the data to claim that “California’s students experienced less learning loss than those in most other states during the pandemic” but conceded that the “results are not a celebration but a call to action — students are struggling academically and we need to keep getting them the resources they need to thrive.”

Newsom neglected to mention that students in the two red states he often singles out for scorn, Florida and Texas, scored much higher in the NAEP tests. Florida was 6th highest overall and Texas was well above national averages.

State-by-state data also indicated — not for the first time — that there is no direct correlation between academic achievement and school spending.

How did other large and diverse blue states who also kept students out of school for longer than average fare? Turns out, not so well:

New York, the nation’s highest-spending state on education, came out lower than California, while several states on the low end of the spending list are leaders in achievement. Wyoming, No. 2 to New York in spending, is No. 1 in academics while neighboring Utah, the lowest spending state, is No. 5 in achievement.

Ominously for our nation, the states which were considered to have the best-performing public school systems pre-pandemic showed the highest slippage rate in test scores post-pandemic. This is not going to bode well for our future.

Item Four:
It would seem we are on the verge of sending climate reparation payments to — uh, really? you sure? well, ok then — China. From NRO:

At the COP27 climate summit in Egypt earlier this month, American diplomats appointed by President Biden agreed to pay poor countries for supposed damage caused by America’s emitting carbon dioxide.

This represents a major reversal in U.S. climate policy. Similar agreements had previously been blocked by both the Obama and Trump administrations, and for good reason: The “loss and damage” fund is both incredibly expensive and could be used to create a legal liability for greenhouse-gas emissions.

[. . .]

But, China won’t be paying.

That’s because “the United Nations currently classifies China as a developing country. . . . Even [sic] though it is now the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses as well as the second-largest economy,” according to the New York Times. “China has fiercely resisted being treated as a developed nation in global climate talks,” and it makes sense why.

[. . .]

Biden’s diplomats originally demanded that China (which emits three times more carbon dioxide today than it did in 1990, generated more than half of their energy in 2020 using dirty coal power, and has more new coal plants set for approval through the year 2025 than the U.S. has in total) and other large polluters currently classified as developing countries pay their own way, but ultimately gave in when some European countries issued a “final offer” that included reparations to prevent poor countries from walking away from an agreement.

Special Climate Envoy John Kerry, who earlier had rejected the idea that the U.S. would send reparations that will inevitably make their way to China, has allegedly flip-flopped and is now aboard the scheme. Yes, it’s kind of hard imagining a Republican House agreeing to fund this, and Joe Manchin and at least one other Democrat Senator might not be great with these optics either, but given the Biden Administration’s predilection for unlawful Executive Orders don’t be surprised if your tax dollars wind up in Beijing even earlier than they normally do.

Item Five:
President Biden continues with his illegal practice of extending student loan repayment freezes, claiming that it would be unfair to resume mandated payments until the issue works its way through the court system. Let us recall that the President claims authorization for his actions under the emergency powers granted to the Executive in times of crisis, even though he himself has publicly declared the COVID crisis to be over. Why would he take such a step? Writing at The Spectator, Oliver Wiseman has a solid theory:

After the midterms, Biden appears to know which side his bread is buttered on, heaping economic benefits on loyally Democratic sections of the electorate to keep them enthused and engaged. Young voters broke Democrat in overwhelming numbers earlier this month, and young voters with a college degree even more so. After the Democrats’ surprisingly strong showing, White House chief of staff Ron Klain said that Biden “kept his promises to younger Americans (with action on climate change, student loans, marijuana reform, etc), and they responded with energy and enthusiasm.”

A Tufts study bears this out. It found that not only did young Democrats turnout in historic numbers this cycle, but they also had an outsized influence on key races. In Pennsylvania, John Fetterman did especially well with younger voters, who broke 70 percent to 28 percent in his direction. In Arizona, the gap was even bigger, at 76 percent to 20 percent. The study attributes Catherine Cortez Masto’s tight victory in Nevada to younger voters.

Betting on youth-vote turnout has generally been a losing game in American politics. But it worked for Biden this month. And so don’t expect the White House to feel any kind of embarrassment about the absurd act of extending emergency Covid measures if it helps lock up a crucial cohort of younger voters for the party led by an octogenarian.


That’s it! Now that I have ruined everyone’s weekend let me wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving dinner, which of course costs a lot more this year than it did even last year.



Supreme Court Denies Trump’s Request To Shield Tax Records

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:57 pm

[guest post by Dana]

After a three year court battle, this:

The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected former President Donald Trump’s last-ditch plea to block the release of his tax records to House Democrats, paving the way for their possible disclosure to the lawmakers.

The decision by the court in a brief order noting no dissenting votes means the committee can try to access the documents before Republicans take over the House in January. The committee, however, has not said how quickly it expects to get the documents. Upon taking control, Republicans are expected to withdraw the request.


“While it is possible that Congress may attempt to threaten the sitting President with an invasive request after leaving office, every President takes office knowing that he will be subject to the same laws as all other citizens upon leaving office,” a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in August.

“This is a feature of our democratic republic, not a bug,” Judge David Sentelle, an appointee of President Ronald Reagan, wrote in the panel’s opinion.

P.S.: “The Committee points to instances when Trump has boasted about “a history of aggressive tax avoidance” and has called IRS audits of his business activities “unfair.” Quite possibly, it will all come back to bite him. Bigly.



DeSantis Beats Disney in a Unanimous Decision

Filed under: General — JVW @ 6:16 am

[guest post by JVW]

Here’s what I wrote back in March:

Disney, which was slow to extricate itself from business operations in Russia even after the invasion of Ukraine and still to this very day happily does business in China, even to the degree of self-censoring so as not to offend the Chinese Communist Party, is very — very, I tells ya! — concerned about Florida’s new Parental Rights in Education bill, uncritically adopting the left-wing narrative that it is reflexively anti-gay though in reality it merely places strict limits on classroom discussions of sexual orientation or gender identity for children younger than fourth grade. Disney CEO Bob Chapek called Sunshine State Governor Ron DeSantis on Wednesday to express his concern and later claimed that the governor had agreed to a follow-up conversation, though DeSantis has assured supporters that he won’t alter his beliefs based upon “the musings of woke corporations.”

I hope that Gov. DeSantis and Mr. Chapek do meet. As Mr. Chapek airs his concerns and those of his apparently hyper-woke workforce, perhaps the governor might remind the CEO of Disney’s entanglements with repressive dictatorships, and — speaking of repressive dictatorships — ask if company shareholders would prefer Disney to move more of its operations to California, a state which capriciously shut-down Disney’s theme parks for over a year during the height of the pandemic while Disney’s Florida theme park were mostly back up and running nine months earlier. It’s understandable that Disney would be sympathetic to the LBGTQ agenda — other than girls aged 3-12 there’s probably no more loyal market demographic for their product than gay men — but Mr. Chapek needs to understand that there are going to be definite limits to the efficacy of his company’s obnoxious virtue signaling.

I guess that the meeting wasn’t even necessary. Less than two weeks after Gov. DeSantis’s smashing reelection victory, Disney appears to have thrown in the towel:

After less that two years in retirement, Bob Iger has returned as the CEO of the Walt Disney Company

The board just sent out a notice that Bob I. is back and recently re-upped Bob Chapek is out.

[. . .]

The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) announced today that Robert A. Iger is returning to lead Disney as Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. Mr. Iger, who spent more than four decades at the Company, including 15 years as its CEO, has agreed to serve as Disney’s CEO for two years, with a mandate from the Board to set the strategic direction for renewed growth and to work closely with the Board in developing a successor to lead the Company at the completion of his term. Mr. Iger succeeds Bob Chapek, who has stepped down from his position.

“We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,” said Susan Arnold, Chairman of the Board. “The Board has concluded that as Disney embarks on an increasingly complex period of industry transformation, Bob Iger is uniquely situated to lead the Company through this pivotal period.”

The GOP grossly underwhelmed in the midterm elections, but woke politics also didn’t do particularly well at the ballot box. Maybe mega corporations like Disney should pause to meditate on this, and perhaps determine that remaining neutral in the culture wars is a whole lot safer than embracing the Hollywood/Cambridge/Washington DC zeitgeist in order to score cheap victories with the kids.



Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:04 am

[guest post by Dana]

Let’s go!

First news item

Former Vice-President Mike Pence says ‘thanks but no thanks”:

Pence was speaking to CBS, to promote a new book in which he sets out his version of events on the day supporters of his president, Donald Trump, attacked Congress, some chanting that Pence should be hanged.

Pence previously said he would consider testifying. But to CBS, he said: “Congress has no right to my testimony on separation of powers under the constitution of the United States.

“And I believe it will establish a terrible precedent for the Congress to summon a vice-president of the United States to speak about deliberations that took place at the White House.”

Pence, who is weighing out a run for the presidency in 2024 and can’t afford to lose the support of, well, anyone, added:

But I must say again, the partisan nature of the January 6 committee has been a disappointment to me. It seemed to me in the beginning, there was an opportunity to examine every aspect of what happened on January 6, and to do so more in the spirit of the 9/11 Commission, non-partisan, non-political, and that was an opportunity lost.

January 6 Committee chair Rep. Benny Thompson and vice-chair Liz Cheney responded to Pence:

“The select committee has proceeded respectfully and responsibly in our engagement with Vice-President Pence, so it is disappointing that he is misrepresenting the nature of our investigation while giving interviews to promote his new book.

“Our investigation has publicly presented the testimony of more than 50 Republican witnesses, including senior members of the Trump White House, the Trump campaign, and the Trump justice department.

“This testimony, subject to criminal penalties for lying to Congress, was not ‘partisan’. It was truthful.”

Second news item

Moms for Liberty, the group in which members had a shameful view of Ruby Bridges Goes To School, pushed conservative candidates in school boards elections across the country:

Moms for Liberty said it has endorsed more than 500 school board candidates across the country this year, 49% of whom have won. The organization’s candidates were highly successful in Florida, but they had mixed results in Arkansas, California, Michigan and other states.

Moms for Liberty celebrated the six candidates’ wins in Berkeley County as an example of flipping a school board in favor of people who “value parental rights.”

School boards are powerful entities. Thankfully, board members are elected by the public, so it remains an avenue in which parents – for better or worse – can make their voices heard if they’re willing to do the hard work of running for a seat.

Third news item

Trump faces criticism over Covid response:

March, 29, 2020, is a day that should live in infamy. The national mitigation plan against Covid-19, “15 days to stop the spread,” was about to expire. In the Rose Garden, President Trump declared that lockdowns would continue for another 30 days. I tweeted: “President Trump just lost the election.”

When Mr. Trump announced his 2024 campaign Tuesday, he didn’t apologize for the lockdowns or even mention them. I supported him in 2016, and during his tenure he did much to dredge the political swamps, but his decision to approve and extend drastic Covid interventions should disqualify him for a second term.

Fourth news item

Not good news about American Brittney Griner, who has been detained in Russia:

Brittney Griner has begun serving her nine-year sentence for drug possession at a Russian penal colony, her lawyers and agent said Thursday.

Griner was transferred to a penal colony in Mordovia, about 350 kilometers (210 miles) east of Moscow, after a Russian court last month rejected her appeal of her sentence.

According to the report, President Biden is hopeful that President Putin will want to resume talks about a prisoner exchange concerning both Griner and Paul Whelan.

This morning, Axios is reporting that “The Kremlin aims to secure the release of convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in any prisoner swap with the U.S., a senior Russian official told the news agency Interfax on Friday.”

Also, it as been reported that Navalny has been permanently moved to solitary confinement:

Aleksei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader jailed after surviving an assassination attempt, said on Thursday that he has been transferred permanently to a solitary confinement cell that would limit his contact with other prisoners and the outside world.

“They’re doing it to keep me quiet,” Mr. Navalny said in posts on his verified Twitter account, adding that staying in the small, cramped cell was typically limited to 15 days as a punishment. The rules also bar “long visits” from relatives, he said.

The order came just four days before his family was expected to come see him, according to a post on Twitter from Team Navalny, the core organizers behind his opposition movement, who have all fled Russia.

At least nine years have already been added to his initial two-year sentence, and few expect him to emerge from prison while Mr. Putin is still president.

Fifth news item

Yet again President Biden capitulates and plays politics with human rights abuser:


Biden as a Democratic presidential candidate vowed to make a “pariah” out of Saudi rulers over the 2018 killing of Khashoggi.

“I think it was a flat-out murder,” Biden said in a 2019 CNN town hall, as a candidate. “And I think we should have nailed it as that. I publicly said at the time we should treat it that way and there should be consequences relating to how we deal with those — that power.”


The Biden administration says Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s high office should shield him from a lawsuit over his role in the killing of a U.S.-based journalist, making a turnaround from Joe Biden’s passionate campaign trail denunciations of the prince over the brutal slaying.

The administration spoke out in support of a claim of legal immunity from Prince Mohammed — Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, who also recently took the title of prime minister — against a suit brought by the fiancée of slain Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi and by the rights group Khashoggi founded, Democracy for the Arab World Now.


A federal judge in Washington had given the U.S. government until midnight Thursday to express an opinion on the claim by the crown prince’s lawyers that Prince Mohammed’s high official standing renders him legally immune in the case.

The Biden administration also had the option of not stating an opinion either way.

Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancé responds to the news: “Biden himself betrayed his word, betrayed Jamal. History will not forget this wrong decision.”

Sixth news item

A very significant event:

Protesters in Iran have set on fire the ancestral home of the Islamic republic’s founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini two months into the anti-regime protest movement,

The house in the city of Khomein in the western Markazi province was shown ablaze late Thursday with crowds of jubilant protesters marching past, according to images posted on social media, verified by AFP.

Khomeini died in 1989…The house was later turned into a museum commemorating Khomeini. It was not immediately clear what damaged it sustained.

Images of Khomeini have on occasion been torched or defaced by protesters, in taboo-breaking acts against a figure whose death is still marked each June with a holiday for mourning.

Masih Alinejad lays out key points:

The leaders of democratic countries should recognize this as a revolution, as it is. This is just the beginning of the end. When teenagers are getting killed… but the day after, they take back to the streets… this is called a revolution”

In contrast w. Russia, would add not even one Islamic Republic diplomat has been asked to leave European soil despite its arming of Putin; hostages; human rights abuses; & terror plots. That must change.

Seventh news item

Cut from the same cloth, I would expect nothing less from these two:


Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert (CO) declared herself the winner of her congressional race Thursday evening, despite the race heading to an automatic recount. While media outlets, including The Associated Press, have deemed the race far too close to be called, the MAGA-loving firebrand conveyed to her over 1.7 million Twitter followers that she’s the victor, while only being ahead of Democrat opponent Adam Frisch by around 550 votes. “We won! I am so thankful for all of your support, and I am so proud to be your Representative!” Boebert tweeted. “Come January, you can be certain of two things,” she added in an a video with the Capitol building serving as a backdrop. “I will be sworn in for my second term as your congresswoman, and Republicans can finally turn Pelosi’s house back into the People’s House.”


Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake (R) declined to concede governor race to Democrat Katie Hobbs Thursday, raising concerns about the election process.

The Associated Press and other outlets projected that Hobbs won the race on Monday. But Lake indicated she is assembling a legal team that is “collecting evidence and data” pertaining to the electoral process.

“Rest assured, I have assembled the best and brightest legal team and we are exploring every avenue to correct the many wrongs that have been done this past week,” Lake said in a video address posted Thursday morning. “I’m doing everything in my power to right these wrongs.”

P.S. Jim Geraghty shows his work: Even if all of the remaining votes were for Kari Lake, Hobbs would still win the election by about 6,000 votes.

P.P.S. Yesterday, Lake’s team confirmed that she was at Mar-a-Lago. Possibly auditioning to be someone’s running mate??

Eighth news item

Only Congress can solve coming border surge:

The progressive collapse of this country’s asylum system over many years, and not the Biden administration’s admittedly murky messaging on migration, is the main cause of today’s accelerating disarray at the border….

Granted, the president and his border policies have contributed to the problem. On taking office, President Biden set about dismantling the Trump administration’s restrictions, including trying to scrap Title 42 expulsions earlier this year. Simultaneously, officials pleaded in vain for migrants not to attempt to enter the country — without any effective strategy to deter them.

In response to Judge Sullivan’s ruling, the Biden administration asked for a five-week grace period to prepare for the anticipated surge of migrants. It has prepared to rush resources to the border, including thousands of beds to hold detainees in tent facilities, and is planning for quicker deportations as a deterrent. Ultimately, though, the fix, and the failure, lie with Congress.

Ninth news item:



What is The Agenda Of House Republicans?

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:10 am

[guest post by Dana]

Now that the Republicans have (barely) won the House, what’s on their agenda? To a great degree, it will depend on whether the group of far-right MAGA members and more traditional Republicans can coalesce around a cause:

The main question going forward is whether Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, who was nominated Tuesday to lead the new Republican majority, can achieve the unity necessary to perform fundamental tasks such as funding the government, or whether unyielding far-right members will make the new speaker’s life miserable and the House an unmanageable mess.

In a reflection of the GOP at large, the House remains somewhat divided between the more traditional Republicans and the MAGA Republican members, whose loyal base expects them to fulfill their promises to launch any number of investigations into the Biden administration. In the run-up to the midterms, we repeatedly heard about these possible investigations. Even before the election and even though they were in the minority, House Republicans had introduced “14 impeachment resolutions, more than three times the number Democrats did in the first two years of Donald Trump’s presidency.” And while Kevin McCarthy claims he doesn’t want to use “impeachment as a political weapon,” he is open to the process “if anyone ever rises to that occasion.” Here is a list of the longheld grievances that Republicans have said they want to pursue:


Rep. James Comer, R-Ky…said the Oversight Committee likely would subpoena Hunter Biden and demand the Treasury Department turn over any suspicious bank records linked to the president’s son. Comer unsuccessfully sought the documents previously but believes the Treasury Department won’t be able to reject his request now that Republicans are in the majority.

Comer told CBS News last week he believes Hunter Biden’s overseas business affairs may have “compromised this White House” and “therefore, it’s a national security concern.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who is poised to become the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, has suggested the panel will investigate alleged political interference by the FBI and Justice Department in the Hunter Biden probe.


In an August op-ed for, McCarthy, Rep. Michael McCaul and other Republicans said the United States’ chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan one year earlier warrants greater scrutiny in a GOP-led House.

The op-ed coincided with an report issued by House Republicans on the Foreign Affairs Committee, which McCaul is likely to chair starting next year. The report accused the Biden administration of making decisions based on politics and lacking a solid exit strategy.

In August 2021, 13 service members were killed by a suicide bomber outside the Kabul airport, as they worked to evacuate Americans and Afghans from the country, which the Taliban had reclaimed.

“These strategic failures are too grave to ignore,” the Republicans wrote in the op-ed. “That is why House Republicans are committed to pursuing answers to Biden’s disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal.


McCarthy told Fox News last month that if Republicans took control of the House they would set up a committee to investigate how COVID-19 spread from China.

House Republicans will likely grill Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top medical adviser to both Biden and Trump during the pandemic, and they could also dig into federal guidance on masking, vaccine mandates and school closures.

Senate Republicans last month released a report that said “it appears reasonable to conclude” that COVID-19 escaped from a lab.


Within hours of FBI agents searching Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in search of government documents in August, McCarthy released a statement directed at Garland threatening to investigate the Justice Department.

“The Department of Justice has reached an intolerable state of weaponized politicization,” McCarthy said then.

“Attorney General Garland, preserve your documents and clear you calendar,” the Republican House leader added.


Republicans’ have spent the past two years railing about the soaring number of encounters between law enforcement and migrants at the southern border.

In addition to blaming Biden for what they see as lax border policies, they also have repeatedly ripped Mayorkas, the Homeland Security secretary, whom they argue has been derelict in his duties…

The Republicans’ inquiry into border issues is likely to include deaths of migrants at the border; the smuggling of illegal drugs, including fentanyl, into the U.S.; and the discontinuation of the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy for asylum seekers.”

Interestingly, the far-right faction of the House has already been successful in securing a promise for an investigation into one of their pet causes:

In a closed-door meeting of Republicans on Monday, right-wing lawmakers including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia extracted a promise that their leaders would investigate Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Justice Department for their treatment of defendants jailed in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

The promise to investigate Pelosi and the DOJ coupled with this excerpt of a letter from Rep. Steve Scalise (No. 2 House Republican) to his colleagues, lends credence to the observation that “the House agenda is investigative, not legislative”:

We must be relentless in our oversight of this administration. From the politicization of the Justice Department to the job-crushing regulations coming from every agency, we need to shine a bright light on the actions and policy failures of this administration.

It looks like McCarthy is in for a tough time if he hopes to focus on anything other than inflicting pain on the current administration.


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