Patterico's Pontifications

4/28/2023

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:06 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Let’s go!

First news item

Second firm hired by Trump found no 2020 election fraud:

Former president Trump’s campaign quietly commissioned a second firm to study election fraud claims in the weeks after the 2020 election, and the founder of the firm was recently questioned by the Justice Department about his work disproving the claims.

Ken Block, founder of the firm Simpatico Software Systems, studied more than a dozen voter fraud theories and allegations for Trump’s campaign in late 2020 and found they were “all false,” he said in an interview with The Washington Post.

“No substantive voter fraud was uncovered in my investigations looking for it, nor was I able to confirm any of the outside claims of voter fraud that I was asked to look at,” he said. “Every fraud claim I was asked to investigate was false.”

Just yesterday, Trump appeared at a rally and whined to supporters that the 2020 election had been stolen, despite two firms hired to analyze the results arriving at the same conclusion: no substantive fraud was uncovered.

Yesterday, as the one-trick pony took the stage at a rally, he proceeded to whine that the 2020 election had been “rigged,”

…CNN published excerpts from a draft RNC report exploring the reasons Republicans underperformed in the 2022 midterms. One conclusion stood above the rest: Voters are tired of hearing about election fraud.

“The American people want to move forward and rarely, if ever, are concerned about what happened in the past. The balance of survey data makes it clear that voters are done with the 2020 and 2022 elections. They have no patience for endless conversations relitigating previous elections from Democrats and Republicans,” reads the draft. “Those who don’t heed that lesson from 2022 will be more likely to lose in 2024 and successive cycles.”

Second news item

Targeting civilians again because that’s what a genocide looks like:

Russia launched a barrage of long-range cruise missiles at Ukraine in the early hours of Friday morning, according to Ukrainian officials.

At around 4 a.m. local time (9 p.m. ET), 23 missiles were launched from Russian aircraft in the Caspian Sea area, along with two drones, according to the Ukrainian Air Force. Twenty-one of the missiles were intercepted by Ukrainian air defenses, it said.

But missiles did hit the central Ukrainian cities of Uman, in the Cherkasy region south of Kyiv, and Dnipro.

Uman: Officials say the death toll in Uman stands at 20, including three children. At least 18 people have been wounded.

According to Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Ihor Klymenko, there were 46 apartments inside one of the buildings that were hit, of which 27 were completely destroyed. He said it may take a day to clear all the rubble.

Note that this strike has caused more civilian casualties in a single incident since January when an apartment was hit in Dnipro in January. Also, as of this morning, the death toll stands at 20 including 3 children

Ukraine Minister of Foreign Affairs DmytroKuleba responded to the latest strike:

Missile strikes killing innocent Ukrainians in their sleep, including a 2-years-old child, is Russia’s response to all peace initiatives. The way to peace is to kick Russia out of Ukraine. The way to peace is to arm Ukraine with F-16s and protect children from Russian terror.

(cc to Gov. DeSantis)

And pointing out what has now become obvious:

Types of weapons that, we were told, would ‘provoke Russia to escalate’ if supplied to Ukraine but never did:

Artillery
MLRS
Air Defense
Tanks
Long-range missiles

F-16s will not either. Giving Ukraine F-16s will deter Russia rather than ‘provoke’ it. Time to take this step.

Thoughts about Ukraine’s urgent need for F-16s and our reluctance to provide them:

Ukraine must be ready soon for an offensive. Europe understands the urgency but doesn’t have the stockpiles. The US has the necessary ATACMs and F-16s gathering dust but refuses to provide them. Why? The answers are disturbing. Putin hopes for another long, frozen conflict that doesn’t put enough pressure on his domestic problems to crack his regime. That offers him hope of offramps and negotiations that only empower him, as has happened for the past decade. Tragically, influences in the Biden White House also seem to want this. Sullivan, Burns, Kerry, treating this like the Cold War where the evil they know is better than the uncertainty of victory, even if it means undermining the counteroffensive against a war criminal regime. Ukraine needs long-range fires and jets to free all its territory and people and end this war. Everyone understands this, including SecDef Austin, who has been trying his best. But the politicians don’t want to burn figurative bridges with Putin–or real bridges to Crimea. Sullivan can be a moral idiot, but here it’s costing many thousands of lives. The US must declare its strategic and political goals for this war. At Ramstein they again were unwilling to provide the decisive advantage Ukraine needs, dragging out the war as Putin desires. The national security of the US can be served in no better way than Ukraine defeating Russia decisively. Any result with Russia still occupying Ukraine will be a huge loss for the US and all democracies. Don’t negotiate with terrorists. Give everything now for Ukraine to win.

Third news item

Would a true ally of the United States do this:

China resumed construction of a military base in the United Arab Emirates, a move likely to alarm US officials and increase concerns that another US ally in the Middle East is drawing closer to China.

According to leaked US intelligence documents obtained by The Washington Post, construction has resumed at a Chinese military base just outside Abu Dhabi.

China in recent months has made an audacious power play in the Middle East, organising a diplomatic thaw between longtime rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran. Beijing has exposed the limitations of US influence in a region where it’s long been the dominant international power.

Fourth news item

On day two of testimony from E.Jean Carroll:

And, in perhaps the most heated moment of the day, Tacopina questioned why she wouldn’t have screamed if she were being sexually assaulted.

“I’m not a screamer. You can’t beat up on me for not screaming,” she replied, growing agitated. “I’m not beating up on you. I’m asking you questions,” Tacopina said.

“Women don’t come forward. One of the reasons they don’t come forward is because they’re always asked, why didn’t you scream?” Carroll told the courtroom. Women are told, she said, “You better have a good excuse if you didn’t scream.”

At that point, Carroll raised her voice. “I’m telling you: He raped me whether I screamed or not,” she exclaimed.

“Do you need a minute, Ms. Carroll?” Tacopina asked.

“No,” she replied. “Go right on. I don’t need an excuse for not screaming.”

This was puzzling:

Tacopina also questioned Carroll about a 2017 email referencing Trump between her and her friend Carol Martin, in which Martin wrote: “As soon as we are both well enuf to scheme, we must do our patriotic duty again …” Carroll responded: “TOTALLY!!! I have something special for you when we meet.”

When Carroll testified, as she had also done Wednesday, that she couldn’t recall what the email meant, Tacopina asked how she could remember details from the alleged rape from at least 27 years ago but couldn’t recall anything about a six-year-old email.

“Those are facts that I could never forget,” Carroll said of the alleged attack. “This is an email among probably hundreds of emails between Carol and I that I have no recollection of.”

Fifth news item

This is disgusting. On the same day that Mike Pence testified before a federal grand jury as part of special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation, his former boss did this:

Micki Larson-Olson, a QAnon supporter who said she considers Trump the “real president,” was convicted last year of unlawful entry on Capitol grounds. On Thursday night, she met Trump for the first time at the Red Arrow Diner in Manchester. [Ed. She was pointed out to Trump: “Where is she?” Trump asked. He sought her out and, absent any solicitation, told her to “hang in there.” Trump later pulled Larson-Olson, who was among the hundreds arrested and convicted for their participation in the January 6 riots, toward him for a photo. ]

Larson-Olson was introduced to Trump as a “Jan. 6er,” and he signed the backpack that she said she was carrying with her that day and waived her past security so he could embrace her. “Listen, you just hang in there,” Trump said, calling her a “terrific woman” and kissing her on the cheek. Trump said it was “so bad” what has been done to Jan. 6 “patriots.”

On Jan. 6, Larson-Olson climbed the scaffolding set up for Joe Biden’s inauguration and held on when police tried to remove her…she “refused” to leave the platform and has “absolutely no regrets” about her actions that day…Larson-Olson said she believes that the members of Congress who voted to certify Biden’s presidential election should be executed…“The punishment for treason is death, per the Constitution. I believe every single person, every single person that stole a voice from our collective voice of ‘We the people, of the people, for the people, by the people,’ deserves death, and no less than that.”

Larson-Olson added that she “would like a front seat of Mike Pence being executed” and that he should be the “No. 1” person on her list of those who committed treason.

Unfuckingbelievable.

Sixth news item

Surprising results from Fox News poll:

One of the key takeaways from the poll published Thursday night was the finding that 61 percent of Americans surveyed are in favor of banning all assault weapons, while only 45 percent of Americans believe more citizens carrying guns is a solution to lowering gun violence.

The idea that more “good guys” carrying guns will lower gun violence has been a popular talking point on the right for many years.

Broken down by partisan affiliation, however, 61 percent of Republicans believe more citizens carrying guns will lower gun violence – while only 27 percent of Democrats agreed.

Additionally, the poll found that the vast majority of Americans are in favor of additional gun buy restrictions:

— Requiring criminal background checks on all gun buyers (87%)
– Improving enforcement of existing gun laws (81%)
— Raising the legal age to buy a gun to 21 (81%)
— Requiring mental health checks on gun buyers (80%)
— Allowing police to take guns from those considered a danger to themselves or others (80%)
— Requiring a 30-day waiting period for all gun purchases (77%)

Seventh news item

The DeSantis v. Disney or Disney v. DeSantis saga continues as Republicans double-down:

The Florida Senate passed legislation late Wednesday that would get rid of a development agreement between Walt Disney World and its special district signed before the district’s board was replaced with government appointees, further escalating Florida Republicans’ feud with Disney despite the company filing a lawsuit over those attacks hours earlier.

The bill will now go to the Florida House, which is also controlled by Republicans and is likely to pass it. If it becomes law, the legislation would throw a further wrinkle into Disney’s lawsuit, which already alleges that the board’s attempt to revoke the development agreement violates the U.S. Constitution’s Contract Clause, which states that “[n]o State shall … pass any … Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts.” Disney’s lawsuit asks for the court to overturn the board’s decision to revoke the development agreement, leaving the agreement in place, and also asks the court to overturn laws that overhauled Disney’s special district, returning the district to how it was before Republicans’ attacks.

This is nuts. Again, how does the DeSantis attack on one of the state’s most successful businesses make even a little bit of sense? What if another successful business in the state criticizes a DeSantis bill, is he going to go to war on them too?

A 2019 study found Disney dominates the Central Florida tourism industry, according to Oxford Economics, and produced: $75.2 billion annual economic impact for Central Florida. 463,000 jobs. $5.8 billion in additional state tax revenue.

Anyway, the “new sheriff in town” shot himself in the foot even before officially announcing a run for the presidency.

Eighth news item

I love this:

The first Barbie doll representing a person with Down syndrome was released by Mattel “to allow even more children to see themselves in Barbie,” the company said.

“We are proud to introduce a Barbie doll with Down syndrome to better reflect the world around us and further our commitment to celebrating inclusion through play,” Lisa McKnight, the executive vice president and global head of Barbie & dolls at Mattel, said in a statement.

Enough with the bobble-headed, bleached-blonde, giant-boobed toothpicks being presented to young girls as some sort of idealized “beauty”!

Have a great weekend!

–Dana

If You Know, You Know

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:36 am



I know a certain organization that is glad it is not paying a certain someone $50 million over four years. Is all I’m saying.

Did Kevin McCarthy Outflank Biden and the Dems on the Debt Ceiling Debate?

Filed under: General — JVW @ 6:30 am



[guest post by JVW]

I’ve been listening to The Editors podcast from NRO recently and at the same time reading some articles done by Noah Rothman, who recently came over to National Review after about eight years as Commentary. Despite the incessant mainstream media crowing about how the Biden Administration and Congressional Democrats had cornered Republicans on the debt ceiling negotiations, creating a scenario in which the GOP would likely have to capitulate and agree to a “clean” raising of the debt ceiling without any concessions, Mr. Rothman believes that Speaker Kevin McCarthy may have turned the tables on the Dems by negotiating a deal with the fractious Republican House caucus:

When House Speaker Kevin McCarthy revealed his plan to couple spending cuts and revisions to the Democrats’ preferred social programs with a debt-ceiling hike, it seemed to me like a risky bet.

The substance of the speaker’s proposal wasn’t overly ambitious — particularly since the stakes of his gamble were limited by the improbability that his proposals would get a fair hearing from Democrats in the Senate and White House. His plan to raise the debt ceiling by $1.5 trillion or until March 2024 (whichever came first) would be linked to capping discretionary spending at 2022 levels. Indeed, by abandoning the desire to return to pre-pandemic spending rates, McCarthy had actually moved slightly in the Democrats’ direction.

Beyond that, McCarthy sought to reclaim unobligated funds appropriated to address the Covid emergency, which is now over. The measure would also include augmented work requirements for eligible, able-bodied recipients of federal relief programs, and it would pare back the provisions in the so-called Inflation Reduction Act that had nothing whatsoever to do with inflation. In sum, it was an unobjectionable opening bid.

Naturally, this sop to Democrats didn’t sit well with some of the more pugnacious members of the caucus, and McCarthy found himself having to reprise his role as bargainer/conciliator visiting reluctant Republicans to convince them that this was the best hand that the GOP had to play. In the end he was successful, and he lost no more than the four votes he could afford to lose, winning over recalcitrants like Lauren Boebert, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and my old schoolmate Thomas Massie. Noted horse’s ass Matt Gaetz demanded and received the augmented work requirements, then voted against the bill anyway.

This counts as a win for McCarthy and the Republican House members. The Biden Administration’s strategy has been to refuse to negotiate with McCarthy, demanding total surrender on the assumption that the Speaker would have no chance of getting 218 votes (one Republican member and two Democrats were absent from Thursday morning’s vote, thus the final vote was 217-215 in favor) on a bill, and therefore the final agreement would be written by Chuck Schumer with minimal input from Cocaine Mitch McConnell (who understandably does not like these sort of high-wire negotiations). But now, with an actual House-passed bill on the table, the Senate will have to act and the Biden Administration will have to horse trade. Here is more from Noah Rothman:

The party in control of the White House is ready to demagogue the Republican bill to death, according to Politico’s reporting. The party will pound the table on the GOP’s plan to increase work requirements for federal beneficiaries and attack the efforts to rescind the spending devoted to climate change in a law that was supposedly designed to restore price stability. Demagoguery is, however, a two-way street.

Will Democrats risk default merely to preserve the unspent funds American taxpayers devoted to an emergency that’s over, Republicans might ask? Do Democrats want to play chicken with America’s credit rating in defense of the orgy of spending on climate-related giveaways passed under the surreptitious guise that it somehow puts downward pressure on inflation? Is returning to last year’s discretionary spending levels such an apocalyptic prospect that the party in power would put the country’s finances at risk? If cutting spending in exchange for a debt ceiling hike is such an abdication of responsibility, why was that precise sequence of events routine for so many years leading up to this impasse?

Indeed, with Republicans united, it’s the Democrats who are now starting to blink. “He should negotiate on the budget,” Senator Amy Klobuchar said of Biden on Sunday. “That is the place to negotiate, and they should start those negotiations now.” Senator Joe Manchin agreed, adding that McCarthy’s is the “only bill actually moving through Congress that would prevent default.” House Democrats such as Representatives Debbie Dingell and Greg Landsman are also starting to publicly sour on the White House’s strategy of stonewalling House Republicans.

The GOP won’t end up getting everything they voted on in this bill. It’s doubtful that the entire remaining balance of the COVID emergency funds will be rescinded, a one-percent cap on spending growth if imposed will almost certainly be violated the moment we turn our attention elsewhere, and Democrats will find a way around the tightening of work requirements for welfare recipients. But the GOP proposal cancels the thousands of new IRS workers the Democrats planned to hire and revokes the student loan forgiveness scheme the Biden Administration attempted to impose unconstitutionally by Executive Order. The Administration may actually want an escape hatch from this ill-conceived campaign pander and would welcome being able to blame it on those nasty old Republicans, lest the whole thing be struck down by the courts as an obvious abuse of Executive power.

If the GOP plan were incorporated in full, the Congressional Budget Office calculates that the savings over ten years would come to around $4.8 trillion. That sounds impressive right up until Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz), one of the four Republicans who voted nay, points out that come 2033 the national debt would “only” be $47 trillion instead of the projected $52 trillion. This is an opening salvo in a long battle to acknowledge the havoc that massive levels of debt are doing to our economy and our society, but at least the GOP now has taken the field in full armor.

– JVW

4/27/2023

Big Media Very Incurious About How Biden Knew What an L.A. Times Reporter Was Going to Ask Him

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:07 pm



After Fox News settled its litigation with Dominion Voting Systems for the staggering sum of $787 million dollars, many noted the fact that Fox News’s coverage of the settlement somehow failed to mention the settlement amount. Fox News viewers will never learn about this! the critics said . . . and they were right!

But is Fox News the only organization that behaves this way?

Yesterday Joe Biden appeared to have advance knowledge of a question that he was asked by an L.A. Times reporter. I’ll hand the microphone to Fox News:

As Biden spoke alongside South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol in the White House Rose Garden, a photographer captured a small cheat-sheet in the president’s hand signaling he had advanced knowledge of a question from Los Angeles Times journalist Courtney Subramanian. The small paper also included a picture of the reporter along with the pronunciation breakdown of her last name. “Question #1” was handwritten at the top of the sheet, indicating the president should call on her first at the conclusion of his remarks.

“How are YOU squaring YOUR domestic priorities — like reshoring semiconductors manufacturing — with alliance-based foreign policy?” read the question in Biden’s hand.

The reporter, who was in fact called upon first but whose last name was omitted by the president, asked Biden, “Your top economic priority has been to build up U.S. domestic manufacturing in competition with China, but your rules against expanding chip manufacturing in China is hurting South Korean companies that rely heavily on Beijing. Are you damaging a key ally in the competition with China to help your domestic politics ahead of the election?”

It’s not exactly the same question, but Biden clearly had notice of the substance of the question. Hmmmm!

This seems like a big deal. The President of the United States — who, you might remember, is 80 years old and seems to have his events scripted to an almost ridiculous degree — knows in advance the substance of a question that a reporter was going to ask? Is this true of all questions asked by the White House press corps, or just this reporter/newspaper? One would think news organizations would be interested in such a story.

But when you Google the reporter’s name to learn who has written about the story, you notice a curious fact: nearly all of the outlets mentioning the story are right-wing outlets like Fox News or the New York Post:

The New York Times has not said a word about it:

And the L.A. Times has not reported about it. The stories available if you click the link do not mention the controversy.

Reminds one of Fox News’s refusal to report on the damning details of its own settlement, doesn’t it? Why, if you’re a reader of the L.A. Times or the New York Times — or both! — you would never know that there is a controversy over how the President of the United States had advance knowledge of the content of a reporter’s question.

Seems odd, no?

Not really. Not if you understand how Big Media routinely ignores evidence that serves the agenda of those gross people on the right. The attitude is: “Let right-wing media cover that.” Is there evidence that some people who transition to a different gender regret it and want to transition back? Let right wing media cover that! Is there evidence that statistical disparities in police shootings of black men line up with statistical disparities in black men killing police? Let right wing media cover that! Is there evidence that Hunter Biden really did commit crimes, or that some teachers want to indoctrinate schoolchildren in ideology that shames white kids for being white? Let right wing media cover that!

And apparently, even when there is photographic evidence that the President of the United States had advance knowledge of a reporter’s question, the attitude even for that issue is Let right wing media cover that!

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What is really going on here? To its credit, the Washington Post actually has published a piece about the controversy. Paul Farhi, quoting an anonymous “veteran White House reporter,” says this sort of thing has been going on for years:

How did Biden — or, more accurately, his press handlers — know that question was incoming, and know to call on Subramanian? The answer is because they asked her.

For many years, White House press employees have routinely polled reporters about their priorities and interests in advance of news meetings to anticipate what their boss might be asked when he or she appears on the podium. The practice is also common in news conferences with cabinet secretaries, such as the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State.

“Every White House press office will try to go around and take the temperature” of reporters, said a veteran White House reporter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because his employer had not authorized him to comment. “They want to look smart in preparing their boss for what we’ll throw at him.”

Farhi reports that the L.A. Times has denied feeding the question to the White House . . . but it also sounds like she kinda sorta did, with a wink and a nod:

White House officials declined to speak on the record, and Subramanian didn’t respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Times, Hillary Manning, said Subramanian didn’t provide White House officials with a specific or even general question in advance of the news conference. However, while covering Biden on a trip abroad, the reporter mentioned to officials that semiconductors was “one of several topics she might want to cover,” said Manning.

The White House also polls reporters before press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre’s daily briefings, and before “gaggles” (informal gatherings with officials). The inquiries come via email or in person. Another reporter — who also who spoke on the condition of anonymity because their employer hadn’t authorized them to talk about the topic — said that a White House press staffer emailed them recently asking “if there were any topics in particular” that they wanted to explore at an upcoming gaggle.

I’m not sure how much credence I am going to give to anonymous reporters about how long this has been going on. But the idea that this sort of thing happens seems to be corroborated by that very revealing admission by the L.A. Times spokeshole, doesn’t it?

Why would a reporter say “topic x” is a topic they might want to cover? How is that remotely ethical in any way? Why would a reporter choose to make such a statement to officials, knowing they will repeat it to the president? The answer is obvious: because they know that if they feed their questions to the White House in advance — not by saying “I will ask x” but through the far more deniable stratagem of saying “x is one of several topics I might want to cover” — they know the president is more likely to call on them.

You scratch my back and I’ll scratch your wrinkled 80-year-old back.

It’s pretty much the incestuous crap that cynical people expect, and for the L.A. Times to deny it in this Clintonian parsing fashion is an insult to the intelligence of anyone truly paying attention. They got caught and they ought to own up to it.

But, like Fox News and its massive $787 million payout, the L.A. Times hopes to bury the story and hope their readers never find out about it. And the rest of Big Media, for the most part, will help them out . . . because they play the same game.

So if you’re part of Big Media and you want to rant and rave about how Fox News is hiding facts from its readers, go ahead. I mean, you’re right, after all. But once you’re done, you might want to check for the mote in your own eye.

Just sayin’.

Tucker Carlson This and That…

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:51 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Now that he’s unemployed, Moscow is wooing Tucker Carlson:

The departure from his job as Fox News host Tucker Carlson on April 24 sent ripples all the way to Moscow. The decision seemed so important to the Kremlin that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov publicly questioned it and RT, Russia’s most prominent propaganda network, immediately offered Carlson a slot.

The RT offer, unavailable in the many countries where it is banned, was spelled out to Newsweek in a statement. “We already had the pleasure of working with the greats like [the imprisoned] Julian Assange and the late Larry King and had extended an invitation to President Trump in 2020, and we continue to welcome outspoken, diverse personalities on our network,” it said.

Not to be outdone, the Russian television host Vladimir Solovyov used his Telegram channel to make another offer. “Tucker, come and join us. You don’t have to be afraid of taking the p*** out of Biden here,” he said.

Official Russia’s affection for Carlson seems genuine and profound. Even before Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine 14 months ago, Carlson’s clips were a mainstay on Russia’s tightly controlled state-funded television. The American television host is a household name in Moscow, along with domestic TV figures like Solovyov, Margarita Simonyan, Dmitry Kiselyov, and other spokespeople for the war. Carlson has never outright endorsed the full-scale invasion, but has repeatedly questioned US support and asked, “Why is it disloyal to side with Russia but loyal to side with Ukraine?”

With friends like these, am I right?!

It has now come to light that Carlson’s abrupt firing likely involved some less-than-professional language used to describe a Fox executive and other vulgarities, thus exposing the company to embarrassment:

Carlson described a senior Fox News executive as a C-word in a text message obtained by lawyers as part of a defamation lawsuit between the network and Dominion Voting Systems…

In a case settled last week for $787.5m, Fox lawyers reportedly convinced the Delaware judge to redact the message from public filings. Carlson, however, was still reportedly furious the network was not doing enough to protect him.

Other messages in which he called the Donald Trump adviser and attorney Sidney Powell attorney a C-word and a “bitch” were made public as part of the lawsuit.

The primetime host’s internal messages were among the most embarrassing for Fox, as he said he “passionately hated” Trump, called for a colleague to be fired for accurately fact-checking claims about voting machines, and bluntly criticized Powell.

Carlson faces a separate lawsuit from Abby Grossberg, a former senior booking producer who claims that Carlson created a sexist and hostile working environment, that she was denied promotion opportunities, and that she was then set up to be the scapegoat in Dominion Voting Systems’ suit against Fox News.

Grossberg’s lawyer Parisis Filippatos filed a motion to intervene in Dominion’s lawsuit against Fox in Delaware to assert her rights to the scope or location of her potential testimony, or alternatively unseal any transcripts concerning her or her testimony. Her lawyers state in the filing that Fox cannot rely on her “coerced, inaccurate, deposition testimony” while simultaneously asking the court to keep references to her testimony sealed….In the interview, Grossberg said network executives were well aware that she was booking guests like Giuliani and lawyer Sidney Powell for the “Sunday Morning Futures With Maria Bartiromo” show, and that they were likely to spread unfounded conspiracy theories about Dominion’s voting machines.

While Carlson mulls over Kremlin job offers and lawyers work on his behalf, will Fox News continue to be the organ of the Republican Party? Will viewers stick with the network after this latest slap in their collective face? Carlson, like Trump, knew precisely what viewers wanted, and was more than willing to dish up their favorite MAGA gruel. He was rewarded with eye-popping ratings and a loyal following that continued to grow over the years. But Carlson isn’t the first major on-air “talent” to be fired by Fox (see: Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly (Carlson’s show was a replacement). Despite Tucker Carlson’s baffling popularity, the smirking little demi-god forgot that, at the end of the day, he was just an employee who answered to those more powerful than a cable pundit. And like the previously fired pundits, it probably didn’t ever occur to Carlson that he really was expendable. The man created a hostile work environment, he posed a tremendous liability to the company with the revelation of the text messages and was revealed to be little more than a grifter who peddled lies to his viewers. When you consider everything, the real question isn’t Why would they fire him?, it’s My God, why *wouldn’t* they fire him? Ultimately, Tucker Carlson failed to realize that a company’s bottom line matters more than anyone’s ego. Even an organization as powerful as Fox Corporation and as reliant upon its mega-star as Fox News was, has limitations. Only so many hits can be taken. I think that his insatiable ego and financial success convinced him that he was invincible, untouchable, and impervious to the standard trappings of employment. Carlson has always been a smart-ass frat boy with a delusional view of his importance and worth. It might be a jolt to Carlson, but it has been aptly said about Fox News: “They’ve built a machine over there that seems to function even when the pistons are replaced.”

Meanwhile, enjoy this little video that Carlson released last night. It contains his usual talking points and a reminder that he is the one who delivers truth. IOW, typical gruel served to his viewers:

P.S. Despite Tucker Carlson having been fired, rest assured, the First Amendment is alive and well.

Heh.

–Dana

4/25/2023

Biden Makes It Official

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:38 pm



[guest post by Dana]

We’ve been expecting this. In his video announcement, President Biden’s message is clear from the get-go as the first thing we see is footage from the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. The Biden team is framing this election as a fight against Republican extremism.

Because Biden doesn’t see himself as having successfully restored the nation’s character, he is asking for four more years to finish the job:

When I ran for president four years ago, I said we are in a battle for the soul of America. And we still are.

While the numbers might not be there yet for Biden, do you really see any other Democrat with the popularity and necessary gravitas to successfully challenge the lifelong party loyalist and current president (and be able to keep Donald Trump out of the White House)?

[A] majority doesn’t want President Biden to run for reelection, either, as he prepares for an expected campaign launch that could come as early as this week.

70 percent of Americans think Biden shouldn’t seek a second term — including 51 percent of Democrats. Forty-eight percent of those who said he shouldn’t run again cited his age as a “major” reason.

So just how unpopular is Joe Biden? Yikes:

Biden is tied for second-lowest approval rating of any president in past 70 years: President Joe Biden’s 41% approval rating is similar to Ronald Reagan’s and Jimmy Carter’s at this point in their presidencies.

Despite this, I’m guessing a whole lot of Americans will choose to put their money on an often-confused octogenarian rather than on an unhinged grifter (assuming Trump wins the nomination):

…41 percent of registered voters overall said they’d definitely or probably vote for Biden in the general election if he does run, including 88 percent of Democratic voters.

Anyway, the Republican National Committee responded to Biden’s announcement with an A.I. generated video depicting a dystopian American post-Biden/Harris reelection:

A statement from Ronna McDaniel accompanied the video, in which she said that “Biden is so out-of-touch that after creating crisis after crisis, he thinks he deserves another four years.”

And this is Donald Trump’s opening salvo from his response to the Biden announcement:

You could take the five worst presidents in American history, and put them together, and they would not have done the damage Joe Biden has done to our Nation in just a few short years. Not even close.

–Dana

4/24/2023

Tucker Carlson Out At Fox News

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:04 am



[guest post by Dana]

Do I have this right: The hypocrite who peddled lies (with Rupert Murdoch’s tacit approval) about the 2020 election (because that’s what viewers demanded), has been fired “parted ways” with Fox News because those lies ended up costing the company an extraordinary sum of money?

FOX News Media and Tucker Carlson have agreed to part ways. We thank him for his service to the network as a host and prior to that as a contributor.

Mr. Carlson’s last program was Friday April 21st. Fox News Tonight will air live at 8 PM/ET starting this evening as an interim show helmed by rotating FOX News personalities until a new host is named.

Who’s next on the Fox chopping block?

–Dana

4/21/2023

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:08 am



[guest post by Dana]

Let’s go!

First news item

Big government guy on the loose:

Mandatory stop-and-frisk. Deploying the military to fight street crime, break up gangs and deport immigrants. Purging the federal workforce and charging leakers. Former president Donald Trump has steadily begun outlining his vision for a second-term agenda, focusing on unfinished business from his time in the White House and an expansive vision for how he would wield federal power. In online videos and stump speeches, Trump is pledging to pick up where his first term left off and push even further.

Where he earlier changed border policies to reduce refugees and people seeking asylum, he’s now promising to conduct an unprecedented deportation operation. Where he previously moved to make it easier to fire federal workers, he’s now proposing a new civil service exam. After urging state and local officials to take harsher measures on crime and homelessness, Trump says he is now determined to take more direct federal action.

“In 2016, I declared I am your voice,” Trump said in a speech last month at the Conservative Political Action Conference and repeated at his first 2024 campaign rally in Waco a few weeks later. “Today, I add: I am your warrior. I am your justice. And for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution.”

Trump’s emerging platform marks a sharp departure from traditional conservative orthodoxy emphasizing small government, which was famously summed up in Ronald Reagan’s first inaugural address: “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” Trump, by contrast, is proposing to apply government power, centralized under his authority, toward a vast range of issues that have long remained outside the scope of federal control.

Trump team’s bottom line:

“There’s a glove of power needed to beat back the administrative state or deep state,” [former Trump budget director Russ Vought] said, “and if you’re not willing to put your hand in that glove you will fail, regardless of how much credibility you have with the base.”

Trump wants to build “Freedom Cities” from scratch:

The new cities proposal consists of a national contest to charter up to 10 D.C.-sized metropolises on undeveloped federal land. Administration officials discussed the concept toward the end of Trump’s term, but he did not campaign on it in 2020…Trump has discussed the new “Freedom Cities” in utopian terms, with flying cars, manufacturing hubs and opportunities for homeownership, promising a “quantum leap in the American standard of living.” The campaign has provided few details on how the plan would work in practice.

Second news item

**Great news:

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced Friday that the U.S. will begin training Ukrainian forces on American-made Abrams tanks in the coming weeks…Thirty-one Abrams M1A1s will arrive at a training area in Grafenwoehr, Germany, in mid to late April, with up to 250 Ukrainian troops beginning a 10-week course there soon after, according to U.S. officials. Follow-on maneuver training might also be done on a different base in Germany…In March, after consultation with Kyiv, Pentagon officials announced a plan to dramatically speed delivery of the 31 tanks the U.S. had committed to Ukraine by refurbishing older models instead of building new ones from scratch, which was the original plan. Building new M1A2 Abrams could have taken years, according to defense officials. Milley clarified that the 31 tanks heading to Germany are training models not suitable for combat. The training will be conducted as the U.S. refurbishes another set of 31 Abrams M1A1 tanks to send to the battlefield, which are expected to arrive on the battlefield this fall.

**“Great news” in that this is finally happening. As I’ve long maintained, the administration needed to move with urgency and provide Ukraine with what *they* they determined they would need to defeat Russia. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Worries about Putin and nuclear threats, thus fears of ratcheting up the tension has slowed down the decision-making. But this is great news if it helps boost morale for Ukrainian troops, knowing that the tanks will be coming soon…but admittedly, perhaps not soon enough.

By providing aid sufficient to produce a stalemate, but not enough to roll back Russian territorial gains, the Biden administration may be unintentionally seizing defeat from the jaws of victory. Out of an over-abundance of caution about provoking Russian escalation (conventional as well as nuclear), we are in effect ceding the initiative to Russian President Vladimir Putin and reducing the pressure on Moscow to halt its aggression and get serious about negotiations.

Third news item

Yikes:

Public schools in Texas would have to prominently display the Ten Commandments in every classroom starting next school year under a bill the Texas Senate approved Thursday.

Senate Bill 1515 by Sen. Phil King, R-Weatherford, now heads to the House for consideration.

This is the latest attempt from Texas Republicans to inject religion into public schools. In 2021, state Sen. Bryan Hughes, a Mineola Republican, authored a bill that became law requiring schools to display donated “In God We Trust” signs.

King believes the bill is necessary because he believes that the Ten Commandments are part of American heritage and thus should be visible in school classrooms.

In an interesting twist and making sense:

In opposition to the bill, John Litzler, general counsel and director of public policy at the Texas Baptists Christian Life Commission, said at the committee hearing that the organization has concerns about taxpayer money being used to buy religious texts and that parents, not schools, should be having conversations about religion with their children. “I should have the right to introduce my daughter to the concepts of adultery and coveting one’s spouse,” Litzler said. “It shouldn’t be one of the first things she learns to read in her kindergarten classroom.”

(The same parents that agree with Litzler regarding the religious teaching of their children would likely include issues relating to sex as well.)

Fourth news item

From the usual suspects, of course:

A coalition of GOP lawmakers has urged the Biden administration to stop sending “unrestrained” aid and weapons to Ukraine amid its ongoing war with neighboring Russia… The lawmakers noted in their letter the risks associated with supplying Ukraine with necessary aid and weapons, saying how the country’s continued contribution could escalate the conflict between the two countries and create a proxy war with Russia… The lawmakers also said that Biden should prioritize more diplomatic efforts to advocate for a peace agreement between the two countries…

“There are appropriate ways in which the U.S. can support the Ukrainian people, but unlimited arms supplies in support of an endless war is not one of them. Our national interests, and those of the Ukrainian people, are best served by incentivizing the negotiations that are urgently needed to bring this conflict to a resolution,” the letter concludes. “We strongly urge you to advocate for a negotiated peace between the two sides, bringing this awful conflict to a close.”

For the thousandth time: How does one negotiate with a morally bankrupt terrorist state that has unlawfully invaded a sovereign nation, annexed territories, targeted civilians (death, torture, rape, imprisonment), and committed war crimes by abducting thousands of children and sending them to Russia for re-education, and disposed of civilians in mass graves, etc.? Not until Russia pulls out of Ukraine and the annexed territories (including Crimea), then and only then, should negotiations be considered. Why do these far-right Republicans constantly put the burden on Ukraine to end this unjust war? Why don’t they put the responsibility for the war and its end on Russia? These Republicans are the gift that just keeps on giving…to Russian propagandists:

A few excerpts from the letter:

Over the past year, the U.S. has been the principal financier of the Ukrainian defense effort. As the war enters its second year, there is no end in sight and no clear strategy to bring this war to a close. A proxy war with Russia in Ukraine is not in the strategic interest of the United States and risks an escalation that could spiral out of control. The recently announced shipments of M1 Abrams tanks will require months of training and transport. Ground Launched Small Diameter Bombs will similarly take months to arrive.2 These announcements signal that your administration is settling in for a long-term conflict. The current strategy of sanctions and drawn-out aid will only prolong the conflict, leading to escalation and more violence.

Our national and economic security demand an alternative. Unrestrained U.S. aid for Ukraine must come to an end, and we will adamantly oppose all future aid packages unless they are linked to a clear diplomatic strategy designed to bring this war to a rapid conclusion.

Our military assistance goes beyond tangible assets to include military training6 and intelligence support. The extent of our aid makes it increasingly difficult to deny Russian accusations of U.S. complicity in a proxy war. Vladimir Putin’s advisors are already framing the conflict as “a military confrontation between Russia and NATO, and above all the United States and Britain.” Russian tolerance for fighting a proxy war with NATO could run out at any point. The decision to invade Ukraine should be evidence enough of Putin’s willingness to use military force and should give us pause in continuing to push the limits at the risk of catastrophe.

Fifth news item

NYC Mayor Adams unloads:

Mayor Adams charged Friday that New York City is getting “destroyed” by the federal government’s failure to contain the nation’s migrant crisis — a thinly-veiled broadside against President Biden delivered just hours before Hizzoner was set to meet with White House officials about the matter.

Adams, who claimed earlier this week that Biden has “failed” the city by not providing more migrant-related financial assistance, leveled the latest jab against the president in remarks at the African American Mayors Association’s annual conference in Washington, D.C.

Sixth news item

His age is the problem, according to those polled:

President Joe Biden intends to announce his 2024 reelection campaign as soon as Tuesday, multiple outlets report, though a new Associated Press/NORC poll suggests that most Americans, even Democrats, would prefer he didn’t run—even as Democrats are still prepared to vote for him in a general election.

The poll, conducted April 13-17 among 1,230 U.S. adults, found only 26% of respondents would like to see Biden run again in 2024, versus 73% who said he shouldn’t.

That includes 47% of Democrats, while 52% of Democrats do not want him to run.

The vast majority of Democrats—81%—say they’re likely to support Biden in a general election if he does run, however, with 41% saying they would “definitely” vote for him and 40% saying they “probably” would.

Seventh news item

Ditto:

Count me out of any overt or covert enthusiasm for [Robert F.] Kennedy’s bid…

Last year, Kennedy said during a speech, “Even in Hitler’s Germany, you could cross the Alps to Switzerland. You could hide in an attic like Anne Frank did… the mechanisms are being put in place that will make it so none of us can run and none of us can hide.” Kennedy later apologized.

Anyone who is going around arguing that today’s Americans have it rougher than Anne Frank needs his head examined.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, and American politics has way more than enough crazy people, statements, and behavior as is. This country’s paranoid schizophrenics are in bad enough shape; they don’t need another presidential candidate running around the country telling them that Cigarette-Smoking Man, the Illuminati and Bigfoot are all teaming up to work against them. Do you want more unhinged paranoid political enthusiasts sending pipe bombs in the mail?

Is it conceivable that some aspect of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s presidential campaign redounds to the benefit of Republicans? Sure. But for that to happen, Kennedy’s bid has to matter, and for Kennedy’s bid to matter, more Americans have to buy into his nonsense conspiracy theories. That leaves the country as a whole in worse shape, no matter who benefits politically in the short-term.

Eighth news item

Unsurprising:

Aid workers at non-profit organizations in Afghanistan that receive financial support from the U.S. government say they’re being forced to pay fees and provide services to the Taliban. They spoke to CBS News days after the head of a U.S. government oversight office tasked with monitoring how U.S. tax dollars are spent in Afghanistan told lawmakers that his staff “simply do not know” the extent to which the American people may unknowingly be funding the terrorist group.

“Since the Taliban takeover, the U.S. government has sought to continue supporting the Afghan people without providing benefits for the Taliban regime,” Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John F. Sopko said Wednesday in testimony to the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Accountability. “However, it is clear from our work that the Taliban is using various methods to divert U.S. aid dollars.”

Ninth news item

Warsaw Ghetto Uprising anniversary:

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the first German president to speak at the commemorations, joined Polish and Israeli heads of state to mark 80 years since a doomed uprising by Jewish insurgents against Nazi German occupiers.

“I stand before you today and ask for your forgiveness for the crimes committed by Germans here,” said Steinmeier, speaking at the annual ceremony held in Warsaw’s former Jewish district.

During his speech, the German president also blasted his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for waging war against Ukraine.

“This war brings immeasurable suffering, violence, destruction and death to the people of Ukraine,” he added.

Ultimately, the Nazis shut down the uprising by setting fire to it. Estimates are that 7,000 Jews died in the battles and another 6,000 in the fires. And yet, incredibly and heroically, the Jews remained determined while knowing the odds were strongly against them:

“The revolt was suicide. We couldn’t win, but we had to do them harm,” ghetto survivor Halina Birenbaum, 93, told AFP ahead of the anniversary.

Tenth news item

Another Russian dissident condemned for telling the truth about Vladimir Putin:

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., along with more than 70 other members of Congress, sent a letter to the U.S. State Department urging Secretary of State Antony Blinken to designate U.S. Legal Permanent Resident and Russian dissident Vladimir Kara-Murza as “unlawfully and wrongfully detained” under the Levinson Act (22 U.S.C. 1741 et seq.). The legislators also called upon the U.S. government to use its resources to free Kara-Murza, who was arrested by Russian police in April 2022 and was recently sentenced to 25 years in prison. Kara-Murza is reportedly in poor health after suffering complications from two previous Kremlin-directed poisonings.

“Since his arrest in April 2022, Mr. Kara-Murza has suffered from unjust treatment. His health has declined, and he has lost 40 pounds. As a result of two poisonings President Putin inflicted on him during trips to Russia in 2015 and 2017, he had already been diagnosed with polyneuropathy. He has now lost feeling in both feet and one arm… It is very likely he will die soon unless he is released,” the legislators wrote.

The legislators cite Kara-Murza’s strong support of human rights and his anti-war speech in their call for his release.

“His only crime is using his voice to oppose Putin’s evil. It is in the U.S. national interest to save his life and liberate him from Russian captivity,” the legislators wrote.

To rid the world of Putin, freedom fighters like Vladimir Kara-Murza, who has been the target of two assassination attempts by the Kremlin, must be supported:

On Monday, a judge in Moscow handed down the harshest penalty ever imposed on a member of the Russian pro-democracy opposition. For the crime of publicly stating his political views, Vladimir Kara-Murza was sentenced to 25 years of hard labour in a decrepit Russian gulag prison camp.

Mr. Kara-Murza was detained in April, 2022, as he told the court last week, “for speaking out against the war in Ukraine. For many years of struggle against Vladimir Putin’s dictatorship. For facilitating the adoption of personal international sanctions under the Magnitsky Act against human rights violators.” He is among more than 20,000 Russians who have been detained for speaking out against the regime over the past year.

Mr. Kara-Murza’s vision for a free and democratic Russia – one that respects the rule of law, human rights and the sovereignty of its neighbours – made him a victim of Mr. Putin’s domestic war on democracy and the truth, but it is a vision that the democratic world should support…

Russian opposition leader and chess grandmaster, Garry Kasparov, says Mr. Kara-Murza’s fate depends on the fate of the Putin regime. “The path to his freedom is readily available: give Ukraine the weapons it needs to win this war and accelerate the downfall of Putin and the liberation of all Russian political prisoners.”

Ultimately:

It’s unlikely the democratic world will be able to bear another 25 years of Vladimir Putin. This is why we must do all we can today, to take the battle to Russia’s crypto-Stalinist kleptocrats by enabling and empowering the movement for freedom and democracy in Russia and supporting brave heroes like Vladimir Kara-Murza.

Have a good weekend.

–Dana

4/20/2023

When Doing The Ordinary Leads To Being Shot

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:37 am



[guest post by Dana]

That these tragedies happened inside of a week only reinforces my sense of disbelief; that innocuous behavior resulted in gun injury or death is stunning. Something is very wrong:

In the span of six days, four young people across the U.S. have been shot — one fatally — for making one of the most ordinary and unavoidable mistakes in everyday life: showing up at the wrong place.

A man shot and wounded two cheerleaders outside a Texas supermarket early Tuesday after one of them said she mistakenly got into his car thinking it was her own.

A group looking for a friend’s house in upstate New York arrived in the wrong driveway only for one of them to be shot to death Saturday night, authorities said.

In Missouri last Thursday, a Kansas City teen was shot twice after going to the wrong home to pick up his younger brothers, raising questions about the state’s “stand your ground law” and heightening racial tensions. [A person may, subject to the provisions of subsection 2 of this section, use physical force upon another person when and to the extent he or she reasonably believes such force to be necessary to defend himself or herself or a third person from what he or she reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of unlawful force by such other person. The law also says: A person does not have a duty to retreat … From a dwelling, residence, or vehicle where the person is not unlawfully entering or unlawfully remaining.]

And just last night:

A North Carolina man allegedly shot a 6-year-old girl, her parents and an additional neighbor after a basketball rolled into his yard…Neighbors told ABC News’ Charlotte affiliate WSOC that the shooting began after a basketball rolled into Singletary’s yard from a group of local children playing basketball in the street. Singletary allegedly fired a gun at a neighbor before approaching a father and son — William and 6-year-old Kinsley White. Both were transported to a local area hospital for treatment…Family members say William White tried to draw gunfire towards himself to protect his family as Singletary unloaded an entire magazine toward his neighbor. White was shot in the back in his own front yard.

Surely we can all agree that, no matter where you fall on the issue of guns (gun control/gun advocacy), these shootings are not normal reactions to normal people doing ordinary things. (The Missouri shooting is a bit different as it may be found to have been justified under state law.)

I am reminded of this truth:

The answer to the “why” of these atrocities is frustratingly simple: As long as people with hate in their hearts have easy access to powerful and deadly weapons, the massacres will continue.

Obviously, we can and should do more to limit tragedies like these from happening, wherever and whenever possible.

–Dana

4/19/2023

GOP Candidates and the 2024 Presidential Campaign

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:52 am



[guest post by Dana]

Gov. Brian Kemp managed to rebuke Donald Trump at the Republican National Committee in Nashville without even mentioning the former president by name:

Kemp urged them to ignore Trump’s obsession with his 2020 reelection defeat, saying, “Not a single swing voter in a single swing state will vote for our nominee if they choose to talk about the 2020 election being stolen.

To voters trying to pay their rent, make their car payment or put their kids through college, 2020 is ancient history.” He went on to say that voters wanted to know the GOP’s vision for the future and “couldn’t care less about anyone’s sour grapes.”

Kemp also touched on Trump’s criminal inquiries in Atlanta, New York and Washington, calling it a “distraction that could cost us dearly next year if we allow it”.

Kemp echoes other Republicans who want to move on from the 2020 election loss drama:

“Voters wanted to hear about what Republicans were doing to help them fight through 40- year high inflation — not months and months of debate over whether the 2020 election was stolen.”

But given current polling, it doesn’t seem like Kemp’s announced strategy tracks with Republican voters. Trump still leads everyone by a mile. But enter Chris Christie, who hopes to change that:

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is talking to potential donors, thought leaders, staffers, and others to discuss a possible campaign for president in 2024, sources close to Christie told CNN.

Christie is in the process of making a decision and has indicated he will make one in the coming weeks.

The New Jersey Republican sees himself as the only serious GOP candidate willing to take on former President Donald. He also sees himself as a candidate who could appeal to enough independents to beat President Joe Biden in the general election, should Biden announce a reelection bid.

Ah, but how does he explain his support for the former president? Let’s see:

He…defended his previous support for the former president, saying the “line was crossed” during the 2020 election when Trump said it was stolen. “There’s a difference between spinning politically to try to put yourself in a better position before the vote happens and after the vote happens to say it was ‘rigged,’” Christie said.

“No one in this country asked him to be their retribution,” Christie added of Trump. “I think a President should be our inspiration, not our retribution.”

Yeah, I just don’t see him moving the needle.

–Dana

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