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


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