Patterico's Pontifications

6/30/2023

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:09 am



[guest post by Dana]

[Reminder: Below the Weekend Open Thread, JVW has provided an open thread focused solely on today’s Supreme Court decisions.]

Let’s go!

First news item

When you willfully refuse to provide help to a victim in their fight against a genocidal maniac, you are not being neutral. Try complicit, indifferent, moral cowardice. You choose. And if you babble about how warfare is not part of the Swiss DNA, you will be treated with scorn you richly deserve:

Switzerland has vetoed a plan to export nearly 100 mothballed Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine, citing neutrality laws for a decision made just as Kyiv’s counteroffensive enters a decisive phase.

Bern’s veto is likely to spark anger among Switzerland’s European allies, who for months have been pressing the government to relax its restrictive interpretation of a long-cherished neutrality policy.

The tanks have never been in service in Switzerland, were never intended for use by the Swiss military and are not based in the country. All 96 are stored in Italy, having been acquired in 2016 from the Italian military in a private transaction by the Swiss arms manufacturer Ruag…

The decision deepens the wealthy alpine country’s diplomatic isolation in Europe, as it tries to steer a path that protects one of its most venerated national political principles, while also seeking to maintain economic ties with the west and cast itself as a moral critic of Russian aggression.

Note:

[T]e 96 tanks in question have never even been on Swiss soil, and were acquired from Italy’s military seven years ago as part of a commercial enterprise by Ruag. The company planned to sell them on to third countries anyway, after it had refurbished them.

Related…sort of: Ukrainian soldiers grateful to U.S. for sending Bradley Fighting Vehicles:

As Ukrainian forces continue their counteroffensive against Russia, some soldiers say an American-supplied vehicle is making a key difference in their advances, and more importantly, saving lives…

Two Ukrainian soldiers from the 47th brigade, Serhiy and Andriy, told ABC News that they and their crew wouldn’t be alive today if Bradley didn’t protect them from a battle early on in the counteroffensive where they were struck by mines, high caliber guns and attack drones.

“We were hit multiple times,” Andriy, who drove one Bradley, said. “Thanks to it, I am standing here now. If we were using some Soviet armored personnel carrier we would all probably be dead after the first hit. It’s a perfect vehicle.”

Second news item

As the war intensifies, U.S. considers sending cluster munitions to Ukraine:

The Biden administration is actively considering sending cluster munitions to Ukraine to help Kyiv’s counteroffensive punch through Russia’s defenses, two U.S. officials and a person familiar with the debate said.

The discussion to send dual-purpose improved conventional munitions has intensified in recent days as Ukraine’s effort to break through Russia’s frontline has stalled. The belief among some senior U.S. officials is that the munitions could be one of many tools that makes Ukraine’s campaign more successful.

Republican lawmakers are in favor of the move, and committee Chair Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said last week that cluster munitions “would be incredibly effective against the heavily fortified Russian defensive positions the Ukrainians must now breach.”

Congressional Democrats, however, aren’t in favor. This week, in a letter…14 Senate Democrats wrote to…Jake Sullivan that “the humanitarian costs and damage to coalition unity of providing U.S. cluster munitions would outweigh the tactical benefits, and urge the president not to approve such a transfer.”

Third news item

Bipartisan legislation to offer incentives on sanction evaders in the works:

U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and James Risch (R-ID) and Representatives Joe Wilson (R-SC) and Dean Phillips (D-MN) today introduced the Sanctions Evasion Whistleblower Rewards Act, bipartisan, bicameral legislation that would protect national security by offering rewards for information leading to the arrest or conviction of sanctions evaders.

“Our bipartisan bill will incentivize the sharing of information to help apprehend dangerous Russian oligarchs,” said Whitehouse. “Providing rewards to informants can pay dividends in protecting our national security.”

“As we continue to ratchet up sanctions and pressure on malign actors, those actors are finding new ways to evade sanctions around the world,” said Risch. “This legislation will leverage the success of the State Department’s existing Rewards for Justice Program by expanding the program to include rewards for credible information on U.S. and UN sanctions evasion.”

Fourth news item

JVW writes: It’s as if they are actively trying to troll everyone who is not completely in thrall to the trans agenda. Do these people realize that this just brings more derision (and justifiably so) on their allies?:

A U.K. cervical-cancer fund, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, has recommended “bonus hole” as a more inclusive term for “vagina.” A quick Google search defines “bonus hole” as “the vagina of a trans man.” Another alternative the group accepts is “front hole.” We’re to ask transgender men (a.k.a., females) which term they prefer.

Women keep taking the hit in these ongoing efforts at “inclusivity,” and it’s making me cranky.

Fifth news item

Well, if he means it won’t be a cringe-inducing circus without him, he’s right:

Former U.S. President Donald Trump said he might not participate in the Republican Party’s first 2024 election primary debate in August and may hold an alternative event, citing his lead in opinion polls and what he claims is the hosting network’s bias against him…called Fox News, which he has criticized for not covering his campaign events, a “hostile network” and said he saw little merit in debating candidates like former New Jersey governor Chris Christie who are far behind him in polling.

“We’ve had a lot of offers, whether it’s a rally or whether it’s an interview by somebody else,” he said. “Not to be braggadocious but the debate will not be a very exciting one if I’m not there.”

Sixth news item

Final report and recommendations from California’s Reparations Task Force on way to Gov. Newsom:

The task force has spent the last two years hearing testimony from academics, economists and other experts to gather evidence of the effects of slavery and to prove the ways in which government sanctioned policies continued to discriminate against Black people long after slavery was abolished…

Eligibility
The task force voted to recommend “only those individuals who are able to demonstrate that they are the descendant of either an enslaved African American in the United States, or a free African American living in the United States prior to 1900, be eligible for monetary reparations.”

Compensation
The amounts each individual receives would be determined by the number of years they have resided in California for a minimum of six months of each year during a defined period of harm based on the laws and policies enacted at the time. The money would be given to every eligible recipient and no one would need to provide proof that they suffered direct harms. The task force also suggested the Legislature adopt an individual claims process to provide reparations for those who can prove particular harms.

The pay models suggest:

Compensation for health disparities: $13,619 for each year of residency from 1850 to 2020. This figure was derived by comparing life expectancy between Black non-Hispanic and white non-Hispanic Californians.

Also included: [C]ompensation for mass incarceration and over-policing of African Americans, housing discrimination, changing existing law and adopting new polices to provide reparatory justice and ensure that the state does not repeat harms.

More details at the link.

Seventh news item

Ah:

The administration of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) steered $92 million last year in leftover federal coronavirus stimulus money to a controversial highway interchange project that directly benefits a top political donor, according to state records.

The decision by the Florida Transportation Department to use money from the 2021 American Rescue Plan for the I-95 interchange at Pioneer Trail Road near Daytona Beach fulfilled a years-long effort by Mori Hosseini, a politically connected housing developer who owns two large tracts of largely forested land abutting the planned interchange. The funding through the DeSantis administration, approved shortly after the governor’s reelection, expedited the project by more than a decade, according to state documents.

Hosseini plans to develop the land — which includes a sensitive watershed once targeted for conservation by the state — into approximately 1,300 dwelling units and 650,000 square feet of nonresidential use, including an outdoor village shopping district. He has called the Woodhaven development, which has already begun construction, his “best project yet” and promised to pull out all the stops for its success.

Government documents obtained by The Washington Post through open-records requests show a steady relationship between DeSantis and Hosseini in recent years. The governor’s office occasionally received requests for DeSantis to attend events or support proposals from Hosseini, and DeSantis extended invitations to Hosseini for events in Tallahassee.

Hosseini helped DeSantis arrange a round of golf at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia in 2018, according to the Tampa Bay Times. A year later, Hosseini donated a golf simulator that retails for at least $27,500 to the governor’s mansion, according to records previously obtained by The Post. In the 2022 campaign cycle, companies controlled by Hosseini gave at least $361,000 to political groups that benefited the DeSantis reelection campaign, according to state campaign finance records. Hosseini’s plane has been repeatedly used by DeSantis, according to a Post analysis.

Eighth news item

Getting serious about swatting:

As swatting incidents around the country increase, the FBI has created a national database to track them, according to new information from the law enforcement agency.

“In response to the national call on swatting, the FBI initiated the Virtual Command Center (VCC) known as the National Common Operation Picture (NCOP),” the FBI said in a statement to ABC News. The new database is a “collaborative effort between the FBI and law enforcement partners to track and create a real-time picture of swatting incidents,” the FBI says…

Since its inception in May 2023, the database has already tracked 129 swatting incidents around the country.

MISCELLANEOUS

Heh:

Have a great weekend! It’s going to be a hundred and hell degrees across the nation, so stay cool.

–Dana

6/29/2023

Final Day of Court Term Open Thread (But Not the Weekend Open Thread)

Filed under: General — JVW @ 9:24 pm



[guest post by JVW]

Since the final decisions from this closing Supreme Court term will likely come down early on Friday morning while many of us Pacific Coasters are still tucked snugly in bed, I thought I should start an open thread so we can separate our legal discussions from the items that Dana will be serving up for us to mull over the weekend. Here is what to look for from 1 First Street, Washington, DC 20543 tomorrow morning:

Biden v. Nebraska and Department of Education v. Brown
These are the two big cases to determine whether the Biden Administration invoking the 2003 HEROES Act in the context of the pandemic can unilaterally cancel up to $20,000 in student loan debt for qualified borrowers, in essence committing somewhere between $400 billion and $1 trillion in taxpayer dollars without so much as the assent of Congress. We’ve been following this case a bit here, and although it did seem during oral arguments that a majority of Justices were skeptical that the President had such authority, there was also some concern as to whether the plaintiffs in this case had legal standing to pursue these matters. Since then we have discovered that far from helping students dig out of financial strife, the COVID-related pauses in student loan repayments have only encouraged borrowers to accumulate more debt, a fact that might have made its way into the attention of even Sonia Sotomayor.

I hope that tomorrow morning the Court decides that allowing the President the latitude to appropriate that level of targeted funding on his own volition is simply a Constitutional abomination. That will not be the end of the story: as with a Federal court’s earlier admonishment to curtail the COVID-era rent payment pause which was then cynically ignored until the Supreme Court stepped in and told them to knock it off, Team Biden will likely concoct some other justification for granting relief to student loan payers through some sort of Executive act, if only to keep the charade alive until the 2024 election. This is all the more reason why tomorrow’s ruling needs to be pointed, direct, and unambiguous in slapping down this abuse of power.

303 Creative v. Elenis
Five years ago the Court took on the case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission which considered whether the defendant (CCRC) could require the plaintiff, Jack Phillips, the proprietor of Masterpiece Cakeshop, to create and decorate a customized wedding cake for a gay wedding. Dana provided coverage of the story. In that case, the Court declined to rule on whether a state regulation such as Colorado has which requires a business owner, Mr. Phillips, to provide a service in support of an event which violates his conscience thus infringes upon his freedom of speech, religion, and association. Instead, the Court engineered a narrowly-tailored 7-2 win for Mr. Phillips by finding that the CCRC failed to show neutrality in their decision to order Mr. Phillips to comply, with the CCRC having a record of statements and actions showing contempt and hostility to his religious beliefs. Justices Gorsuch, Alito, and Thomas signed on to a concurring opinion expressing regret that the Court failed to rule on the First Amendment implications of Mr. Phillips’ position.

So when the Court punted on the central issue of how to weigh First Amendment issues versus a client’s request for services, it was only a matter of time before they would be reviewing a similar case. This came with 303 Creative v. Elenis, in which another Colorado business owner, this time a graphic artist by the name of Lorie Smith, wishes to opt-out of participating in LGBTQ weddings (her business creates websites for organizing weddings) and has thus filed a preemptory challenge to the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA). She has lost at both the district and circuit levels. The Supreme Court will rule only on her free speech claims — her free exercise of religion claim is not being reviewed by the Court — after a divided Tenth Circuit ruled that Ms. Smith’s services are so unique that her decision to deny them to LGBTQ clients leaves them without anywhere else to turn, a contention which the dissenting judge said would open the door to allowing government to compel messages from artists everywhere. Maybe the Chief Justice can find another way to split the baby, but it seems more likely that the Court is actually going to have to decide just how far government can go to force commercial artists to create speech with which they fundamentally disagree.

Have at it in the comments, you East Coasters and other assorted early risers. I’ll look forward to reading what you have to say tomorrow morning.

– JVW

Supreme Court Rules Against Race-Based Affirmative Action Policies

Filed under: General — JVW @ 10:02 am



[guest post by JVW]

In a decision that had generally been expected, but certainly was not a sure thing, the Supreme Court ruled that efforts by both Harvard and the University of North Carolina to use race as a determining factor in granting admissions were prohibited by the Equal Protections Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The decision split along the traditional ideological lines with the six Republican nominees in the majority and the three Democrat nominees in the minority. Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson did not take part in the Harvard decision, recusing herself since she had previously served on the Harvard Board of Overseers.

One interesting aspect of this case is that it provided the public with a chance to peek under the hood of the Harvard admissions process. In the majority ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts described it as so:

At Harvard, each application for admission is initially screened by a “first reader,” who assigns a numerical score in each of six categories: academic, extracurricular, athletic, school support, personal, and overall. For the “overall” category — a composite of the five other ratings — a first reader can and does consider the applicant’s race. Harvard’s admissions subcommittees then review all applications from a particular geographic area. These regional subcommittees make recommendations to the full admissions committee, and they take an applicant’s race into account. When the 40-member full admissions committee begins its deliberations, it discusses the relative breakdown of applicants by race. The goal of the process, according to Harvard’s director of admissions, is ensuring there is no “dramatic drop-off” in minority admissions from the prior class. An applicant receiving a majority of the full committee’s votes is tentatively accepted for admission. At the end of this process, the racial composition of the tentative applicant pool is disclosed to the committee. The last stage of Harvard’s admissions process, called the “lop,” winnows the list of tentatively admitted students to arrive at the final class. Applicants that Harvard considers cutting at this stage are placed on the “lop list,” which contains only four pieces of information: legacy status, recruited athlete status, financial aid eligibility, and race. In the Harvard admissions process, “race is a determinative tip for” a significant percentage “of all admitted African American and Hispanic applicants.”

UNC has a similar screening process, with the applicant’s race being one of the earliest factors in the initial evaluation rather than as a secondary benefit used to supplement an otherwise qualified applicant’s case for admission.

The Chief Justice then outlines the long history of racial discrimination in the Reconstruction era and beyond, especially as to how it pertained to education. His narrative tells the story about ongoing attempts to end racial discrimination, and concludes strongly, echoing his famous dictum that “the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race”:

Eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it. Accordingly, the Court has held that the Equal Protection Clause applies “without regard to any differences of race, of color, or of nationality” — it is “universal in [its] application.” For “[t]he guarantee of equal protection cannot mean one thing when applied to one individual and something else when applied to a person of another color.”

I removed the citations in the above paragraph, but the last quote is from the majority decision in the 1978 Supreme Court case Regents of University of California v. Bakke in which hard quotas for minority student admissions were outlawed. And the Chief Justice’s final conclusion gets straight to the heart of the matter in a clear and understandable way:

Because Harvard’s and UNC’s admissions programs lack sufficiently focused and measurable objectives warranting the use of race, unavoidably employ race in a negative manner, involve racial stereotyping, and lack meaningful end points, those admissions programs cannot be reconciled with the guarantees of the Equal Protection Clause. At the same time, nothing prohibits universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected the applicant’s life, so long as that discussion is concretely tied to a quality of character or unique ability that the particular applicant can contribute to the university. Many universities have for too long wrongly concluded that the touchstone of an individual’s identity is not challenges bested, skills built, or lessons learned, but the color of their skin. This Nation’s constitutional history does not tolerate that choice.

I don’t really have the time or inclination this morning to slog through the dissents from the left-wing justices, so if anyone wants to take on that task it would be a great addition to the comments section.

– JVW

6/27/2023

Released: Trump Audio Concerning “Highly Classified” Document

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:00 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Appearing to undermine his own claim, CNN made public the audio of Donald Trump discussing classified materials in his possession:

From Politico:

Former President Donald Trump appears to have acknowledged keeping national security documents he did not declassify, according to an audio recording obtained by CNN.

In the two-minute recording, Trump can be heard stating, “these are the papers” while referring to something he calls “highly confidential.”

“This was done by the military and given to me,” Trump said in the recording. “See as president I could have declassified it. Now I can’t, you know, but this is still a secret.”

Trump describes his “big pile of paper” to people in the room and says, “Isn’t it amazing? … They presented me this — this is off the record.”

Trump responded to the release of the audio as you would expect – he claimed that the audio exonerates him:

The Deranged Special Prosecutor, Jack Smith, working in conjunction with the DOJ & FBI, illegally leaked and ‘spun’ a tape and transcript of me which is actually an exoneration, rather than what they would have you believe. This continuing Witch Hunt is another ELECTION INTERFERENCE Scam. They are cheaters and thugs!

And this morning:

Good times.

Really, what more can be said about Trump’s reckless handling of sensitive documents, his flippant dismissiveness and denial of the law, his continual flip-flops on what he had in his possession and what he didn’t, as well as the endless layers of lies coming from his mouth, all designed to save himself and confuse (and/or exhaust) the masses. This man has proven that he has absolutely no business being near classified documents, let alone actually getting his grubby little paws on them again. I’m tired, so I’ll just leave it at this: We are indeed electing idiots – and Republicans are posed to do so again:

Because of the situation that we’re in, where we have a major-party candidate who’s trying to unravel our democracy — and I don’t say that lightly — we have to think about, all right, what kinds of alliances are necessary to defeat him, and those are the alliances we’ve got to build across party lines…I really believe, and I’ve never believed something as strongly as I know this, that the single most important thing for the country is that Donald Trump can’t be anywhere near the Oval Office again.

Amen.

–Dana

Supreme Court Rules In Election-Law Decision

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:35 am



[guest post by Dana]

Per SCOTUS majority, “state courts do not have free rein”:

In a major election-law decision, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that although the Constitution gives state legislatures the power to regulate federal elections, state courts can supervise the legislature’s exercise of that power. By a vote of 6-3, the court rejected the so-called “independent state legislature theory,” holding that the North Carolina Supreme Court did not violate the Constitution when it set aside a congressional map adopted by the state’s legislature.

In a press release issued shortly after the decision was announced, Bob Phillips, the executive director of Common Cause North Carolina, one of the challengers, called the ruling a “historic victory for the people of North Carolina and for American democracy. Today, the Supreme Court made clear that state courts and state constitutions should serve as a critical check against abuses of power by legislators.”

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the 6-3 opinion. In part:

“Federal courts must not abandon their duty to exercise judicial review.

When state legislatures act pursuant to their Elections Clause authority, they engage in lawmaking subject to the typical constraints on the exercise of such power…In sum, our precedents have long rejected the view that legislative action under the Elections Clause is purely federal in character, governed only by restraints found in the Federal Constitution.”

Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett joined Roberts in the majority.

–Dana

6/24/2023

Putin Confirms Coup Attempt (UPDATES)

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:26 am



Last night word broke that Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the Wagner group, had claimed that the Russian military had conducted a missile strike on his troops. He denounced Russian military leadership and said that the Ukraine invasion had been conducted under false pretenses. Reports started to roll in, accompanied by unverified video, that Prigozhin was rolling his forces towards Russia.

Analysts warned observers to be cautious: all we really knew was Prigozhin’s recorded statements. And these people are all liars.

Well, now Putin himself has confirmed that there is a coup attempt in full swing. And he doesn’t seem pleased:

This is a suicide mission, I would think. It’s very hard to imagine this coup attempt being successful. If you don’t think Putin has planned for this sort of thing, you don’t know Putin.

Very interesting. Hard to know what it will mean for Ukraine’s counteroffensive. You might think that facing down a genuine military coup attempt would distract the Russian military, which is bombing its own fuel depots to deny resources to Wagner . . . but it could cause Putin to act desperately to display that all-important “strength.”

For what it’s worth, Putin appears to have left Moscow, as confirmed by government spokesmen denying it:

Updates as they become available.

UPDATE: Start making popcorn:

UPDATE: How long has Prigozhin been planning this?

UPDATE: Looks like a potential mass exodus of elites to St. Petersburg.

UPDATE: The Daily Telegraph (which is conducting a live Twitter Spaces episode of its Ukraine podcast as we speak) reports that Russian helicopters are currently bombing the Wagner convoy:

Russian military helicopters have opened fire on a convoy of rebel mercenaries already more than half way towards Moscow in a lightning advance after seizing a southern city overnight, Reuters has confirmed.

. . . .

A Reuters journalist saw army helicopters open fire at an armed Wagner column that was advancing past the city of Voronezh with troop carriers and at least one tank on a flatbed truck. The city is more than half way along the 680-mile highway from Rostov to Moscow.

Wow.

UPDATE: Zelensky’s statement:

UPDATE: This fellow questions the conclusion (expressed in a tweet linked in this post) about Russia bombing its own fuel depot.

UPDATE: https://twitter.com/Patterico/status/1672606082781577216

UPDATE: https://twitter.com/Patterico/status/1672610831945850880

UPDATE: And just like that … he’s gone. https://twitter.com/faytuks/status/1672658108143812608

6/23/2023

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:51 am



[guest post by Dana]

Let’s go!

First news item

Former Texas Representative Will Hurd enters the presidential race:

The former congressman has been an outspoken critic of former President Donald Trump and said last month that a race between President Joe Biden and Trump would be a “rematch from hell.”

“Someone like me, right, a dark horse candidate, can pull this off…One, you can’t be afraid of Donald Trump. Too many of these candidates in this race are afraid of Donald Trump. But we also have to articulate a different vision.”

…“Our enemies plot, create chaos, and threaten the American dream. At home, illegal immigration and fentanyl stream into our country. Inflation, still out of control. Crime and homelessness growing in our cities,” Hurd says in the video.

Hurd said that he will refuse to sign the required loyalty pledge to back the eventual Republican nominee:

I won’t be signing any kind of pledges, and I don’t think that parties should be trying to rig who should be on a debate stage…

Hurd voted against impeaching Trump in 2019.

Second news item

President Zelensky warns:

Ukrainian spies believe Russia is planning a “terrorist” attack at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant involving a release of radiation, Volodymr Zelensky has said, after his intelligence chief warned Russian troops had mined the cooling systems.

“Intelligence has received information that Russia is considering the scenario of a terrorist act at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant – a terrorist act with the release of radiation,” the Ukrainian president said. “They have prepared everything for this.”

The Kremlin dismissed the allegation as “another lie”, and said a team of UN nuclear inspectors had visited the plant and rated everything highly.

Third news item

Trump team receives first batch of discovery material:

Special counsel Jack Smith has turned over the first batch of evidence in the classified documents case to former President Donald Trump’s legal team, according to a court filing Wednesday.

The first production of unclassified discovery includes “the grand jury testimony of witnesses who will testify for the government at this case,” according to the filing.

Trump seems to be taking this well:

Fourth news item

Enough is enough. Maricopa County recorder suing perpetual grifter Kari Lake:

I’m suing Kari Lake.

I’d hoped the defamation would stop after the election. I waited.

I’d hoped it would stop after the first election trial. I waited.

I’d hoped it would stop after the appeal. I waited.

I’d hoped it would stop after the second trial. I waited.

I’d hoped it would stop after she got a new job. I waited.

But then I realized I AM the job. Defaming me is her path to campaign donations, speaking opportunities, and national trips.

I live a very lucky, wonderful life.

But these defamatory statements have altered my life. For the worse. Materially.

And just because I live a great life doesn’t mean I have to sit back while somebody says false things about me and says I did truly horrible things — things that multiple courts found to be false.

I wish it would have stopped on its own.

But it didn’t.

So today I’m suing Kari Lake to hopefully put an end to the false statements.

Fifth news item

Supreme Court ruling gives President Biden a victory:

The Supreme Court, in an 8-1 ruling on Friday, revived the Biden administration’s immigration guidelines that prioritize which noncitizens to deport, dismissing a challenge from two Republican state attorneys general who argued the policies conflicted with immigration law.

The court said the states, Texas and Louisiana, did not have the “standing,” or the legal right, to sue in the first place in a decision that will further clarify when a state can challenge a federal policy in court going forward.

By ruling against the states, the court tightened the rules concerning when states may challenge federal policies with which they disagree. The Biden administration policy was put on pause by a federal judge nearly two years ago and the Supreme Court declined to lift that hold last year.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote Friday’s majority opinion in the case.

“In sum, the states have brought an extraordinarily unusual lawsuit,” Kavanaugh wrote, in an opinion joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson. “They want a federal court to order the Executive Branch to alter its arrest policies so as to make more arrests. Federal courts have not traditionally entertained that kind of lawsuit; indeed, the States cite no precedent for a lawsuit like this.”

Sixth news item

President Biden fact checked:

Not true a brace increases gun caliber
Not true NRA can’t be sued
Not true gun firms are only firms shielded from suits
Not true 2A bans machine guns
Not true Beau Biden was first to enforce a red flag law

Read full report here.

Seventh news item

These are not serious people:

Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) introduced resolutions “expunging” Trump’s 2019 and 2021 impeachments, respectively.

It would be “as if such Articles of Impeachment had never passed the full House of Representatives,” Stefanik’s office said in a press release.

Eighth news item

State rep tells parents to leave California:

California State Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, urged parents to “flee” the state before it’s too late if they “love their children” in response to what he calls alarming language in a gender identity bill. Legislation AB 957 cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee with an 8-1 vote on Tuesday…”In the past when we’ve had these discussions and I’ve seen parental rights atrophy, I’ve encouraged people to keep fighting. I’ve changed my mind on that,” Wilk said. “If you love your children, you need to flee California. You need to flee.”

AB 957, was initially authored by Democratic Assembly member Lori Wilson and State Senator Scott Weiner, who also co-sponsored it.

A spokesperson for Sen. Wilson tried to downplay concerns over the amendment, saying previously, “It’s not saying [affirmation] is the most important factor or determining factor. It’s one of many factors that the judge should consider while working out a custody agreement.”

Weiner, a representative from San Francisco, also introduced a bill that would require foster parents to affirm the gender of a child entering their home and a third piece of legislation, SB 107, that would grant access to sex changes for minors without parental consent.

Related: New polling:

More than 40% of residents say they’re contemplating moving out of California, with nearly half of them saying they’re considering that “very seriously.” About 61% pointed to the high cost of living here as the reason they’d go.

Ninth news item

The Party of personal responsibility boos 2024 candidate for discussing Trump’s lack of leadership and failure to take personal responsibility for his actions:

Have a great weekend.

–Dana

6/20/2023

All Things Hunter Biden [UPDATED]

Filed under: General — JVW @ 1:05 pm



[guest post by JVW]

UPDATE: Well, well, well, it’s been quite the day of legal system accomplishments for Mr. Robert Hunter Biden. The NY Post reports that his Arkansas baby mama, Lunden Roberts, has just settled with the father of her four-year-old daughter Navy Joan for a 75% reduction in his monthly child support obligations, cut from $20,000 per month down to $5,000 per month. So either we are to believe that Ms. Roberts and her attorney resigned themselves to the idea that Hunter Biden’s financial situation has taken a drastic downgrade and that $5k per month is just about as much as they were going to get from him, or else some other rich sleazy Democrat fat-cat is quietly taking care of Ms. Roberts and her girl behind the scenes in return for the two of them no longer bothering the Biden family while they face a tough reelection fight.

And apparently the Biden family will continue pretending that Navy Joan doesn’t exist. This comes from Ms. Roberts’ lawyer, Clint Lancaster:

“Lunden is a great mum and little Navy is going be fine,” said Lancaster. “The kid has lots of love on the maternal side of the family in Batesville [Arkansas]. They are a very, very close family. They adore her and are always going to support her … But I think everybody is disappointed that there’s not more contact [with the Biden family].

“It’s not lost on anybody that Jill Biden wrote a children’s book and [dedicated it] to her grandchildren,” the lawyer went on. “She could have kept it at that, but she named every child except Navy.

“They hung stockings for the dog at Christmas but not for Navy. That is one of the saddest things.”

We’ve suffered through the Ozark dysfunction of the Clinton Crime Family, we’re endured the Golden Toilet escapades of the Trump Trash, and hopefully we can withstand the ugly sleaze of the Delaware Dipshits. But we really ought to be aspiring to a higher caliber of leaders in this country.

—– Original Post —–

I see that discussion has already started on the Weekend Open Thread, so we might as well migrate things here.

Here’s the general overview:

* Hunter Biden was charged today with felony gun possession and misdemeanor tax charges. The gun charge pertains to having lied about his drug use on a federal background check form he filled out in 2018. The tax charge is for failing to fully pay his tax obligations for 2017 and 2018.

* The defendant will plead guilty to the two tax charges and will be sentenced to a probationary term. So long as he fulfills the terms of his probation, he will not face prosecution for the gun charge and it will disappear from his record in two years. So he avoids being designated a felon, and forcing his old man to intercede and pardon him. A federal judge still has to sign off on this, but it looks like the ballgame has been fixed.

* The unpaid tax bill for the two years is said to be for over $100,000 each year. With penalties and interest, one would assume that he owes in excess of $300,000 which is a pretty large chunk of change for a guy who no longer has attractive employment possibilities with Ukrainian energy companies or sleazy Chinese billionaires. Do the Bidens know that if Hunter receives money from mom and dad to cover his tax bill, that in itself is taxable income? Or has Hunter squirreled away enough filthy lucre from his past business ventures that he can cover it himself?

Partisan Republicans are probably going to get a bit too overwrought about this whole situation. This plea agreement does not resolve the question surrounding Hunter Biden’s overseas dealings, including those while his father served as Vice-President. The U.S. Attorney for Delaware, David Weiss, was quick to remind everyone that these investigations continue, even if there are significant claims that the government is slow-walking them in order to push them past the 2024 elections. The Hunter Biden situation here shows that when you cooperate (even minimally so) with the prosecution you can reach an agreement that spares you huge embarrassment.

One thing to wonder is whether the government could have pressed Biden fils a bit harder, knowing that Team Biden did not want Hunter to be on trial this fall or next spring with his sleazy personal life and shady business dealings being detailed in court proceedings while his dad was out making the case for why he should be reelected to another Presidential term. And the seeming casualness with which the government provided an escape hatch for Hunter Biden’s gun crimes seems to put the lie to the incessant Democrat claims that we need more numerous and strict gun laws in order to make our streets safe.

In any case, it certainly was a busy holiday weekend in the legal struggles of Robert Hunter Biden. He appeared in an Arkansas court this past Friday in the matter of his desire to reduce child-support payments to the mother of his love-child (shamefully still unacknowledged by Joe and Jill Biden). This motion naturally has the court seeking financial records from the child’s father, who claims that his income has significantly dropped to the point where his $20,000 monthly support check is no longer feasible. So Hunter Biden apparently took the stand last Friday and testified under oath with respect to his finances in open court. Should his testimony not jibe with the records that investigators may eventually release, has Hunter Biden opened himself up to perjury charges which would violate the terms of his probation and theoretically put the gun felony back into play? Or since the probation deal has not yet been consummated, could he possible limit his liability to a perjury charge in Little Rock?

Stay tuned. Never a dull moment with this crowd.

– JVW

6/19/2023

Constitutional Vanguard: Fine, I’ll Write About the Trump Indictment

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:36 pm



I put aside more interesting topics to write about the Trump indictment. This is the greatest proof of audience capture I can imagine. I’m sick of this guy and his shenanigans, but it’s What the Readers Want.

I’ll give you a couple of excerpts. First, from the lengthy and self-contained 6,000-word section that is free to all:

Yes, admittedly, Hillary should have been prosecuted under the statute as written. But under a higher standard allegedly representing DOJ practice over the decades, it was a close call whether she met any of the elements. Reasonable people can disagree over whether that higher “Comey standard” was met in Hillary’s case.

But no reasonable person doubts that Trump meets the Comey standard.

If you think Trump should not be prosecuted, despite the overwhelming evidence of his knowing mishandling of critically important national defense documents—and his efforts to hide those documents, lie about the fact that he possessed them, and obstruct the feds in every possible way—you must be saying that because of the example of Hillary Clinton, no person can ever be prosecuted for mishandling classified documents ever again, regardless of the evidence.

Surely nobody actually believes in such an unreasonable position. Right?

The 2,200 word paid section discusses pardons, equal justice, and the story of one of my supervisors’ media cases. It’s all part of my rant about the conventional wisdom, recently articulated by Tom Nichols, that pardoning criminal presidents is necessary for the nation to “heal”:

If a president is prosecuted, the citizens of this country have to . . . what, exactly? Read about it in the news, I guess? If they choose to? Or maybe hear about it on the radio or see it on their social media feeds?

OH THE HUMANITY! OH THE SUFFERING! PLEASE MAKE IT STOP! The only humane way to end such terrible suffering is for a National Hero like Gerald Ford to come forward and make the Courageous Decision that no, the guy who nominated me to be Vice President shall suffer no criminal consequences for his crimes.

Not all heroes wear capes. Just think of all the National Agony avoided by this Bold Decision.

As I told Nichols, I think the accolades for Ford are entirely misplaced. Ford’s pardon helped cement the precedent that presidents and ex-presidents are above the law. I am unimpressed by concerns that upholding the Rule of Law is divisive or makes the country sad.

Before you respond to my excerpts, you might check to see if I responded to your argument somewhere in the piece. I tried to be fair and imagine what the arguments in response might be. I’m pretty proud of my identification and naming of a common fallacy I call the “You Bumped Me, So I Can I Shoot You” Fallacy. Once you understand it, you see it everywhere. It explains so much about partisan Republican arguments these days.

Read the piece here. Subscribe here.

6/16/2023

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:29 am



[guest post by Dana]

Let’s go!

First news item

A new GOP litmus test??

I listened to a smart podcast over at The Bulwark with Charlie Sykes and his guest, former U.S. representative Adam Kinzinger. During the discussion, the question of a new GOP litmus test was raised: Would the candidates be willing to agree that, if elected, they would pardon Donald Trump?

In 2017, after Trump won the election, the primary litmus test for Republicans was a demonstration of complete loyalty to Trump. It became necessary if an elected official wanted to remain in good graces of Trump, get re-elected, or increase their standing in the GOP.

After Trump’s election loss in 2020 (and especially after the insurrection on Jan. 6), the Republican litmus test was no longer just about loyalty to Trump. Parroting Trump’s incessant lies that the 2020 election was stolen was now on the bill. Republicans knew what was expected of them. And if they refused to play the game because their integrity and oath to the Constitution superseded all else, then the blasphemers found themselves on the outs with Trump and MAGA voters. (See: Liz Cheney) However, given that the predicted red wave didn’t happen in 2022, one could also reasonably say that, as time went on, some candidates’ loyalty to Trump and the Big Lie worked against them with voters.

Republicans may soon be facing a new litmus test. While not a leading candidate but a longtime Trump supporter with nothing to lose, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy is the first declared candidate to lay down the marker for said new GOP litmus test:

Vivek Ramaswamy stood outside the Miami courthouse…and said every candidate in the race should pledge to pardon [Trump].

“I challenge every one of the other candidates to actually act on their convictions,” he said. “If you’re not going to pardon President Trump on Jan. 20, 2025, you deserve to say why and we will hold you accountable.”

Kinzinger explained that he believes there would be two potential schools of thought behind any pardon of Trump. From true believers like Vivek Ramaswamy: We need to pardon Donald Trump because he’s innocent. And from the Mike Pence (and I would include Nikki Haley) corner: We need to pardon Donald Trump to heal the country.

You can read here where most of the Republican pack stands on the question of pardoning Trump.

Related:

Top Republican Party officials have a message for any candidate worried about signing a loyalty pledge to potentially support a convicted felon: There’s the door…[Asa Hutchinson] express[ed] concerns about the Republican National Committee’s requirement that they support the eventual nominee in order to qualify for the debate stage this summer, [but] the committee said there will be no changes to its protocols.

Hutchinson is the only Republican candidate who has called for Trump to step down.

Second news item

Former Marine indicted for death of Jordan Neely on New York subway:

A grand jury has indicted former U.S. Marine Daniel Penny in connection with the chokehold death of Jordan Neely aboard a subway train.

The exact charges will not be unsealed until Penny appears in court on June 28, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. Penny was initially arrested on a second-degree manslaughter charge.

Last month, our host took a long, hard look at the media reports that immediately followed Neely’s death and found them wanting, to put it mildly:

I’d like to share some thoughts about this case that I have not seen discussed in too many places. The narrative we have heard from many quarters is that this was a murder of a black man who was not threatening in any way, but simply said he was hungry and thirsty. He was then choked for 15 minutes by a white racist until he died, despite warnings of onlookers who tried to get the white racist to stop.

Nearly every aspect of that narrative is false.

Patterico explained:

I want to say up front that I’m not sure whether the charges are sound. Whether Bragg has a solid case depends on the evidence, and we’re not privy to all of the evidence the D.A. has collected. As a result, I don’t think it’s possible to know at this point whether the Manhattan D.A. was justified in bringing this charge, the elements of which I will analyze below.

The reason I tell you that early on in this piece is simple: I want you know right from the beginning that, while I have a lot to say to debunk aspects of the lazy narrative you’ve heard, that doesn’t mean that I have concluded that Penny’s actions were wholly justified in every respect. Put simply: if you’re someone who tends to see this killing is unjustified, I think you may well be right.

So if I tell you, for example, that the public narrative is wrong about Neely presenting no threat, or about this obviously being a race-based killing, please resist the urge to react instantaneously with the comment: “Oh, so you’re saying it’s OK to just choke this guy to death?” No, that is not what I am saying.

Third news item

Young guardsman, Jack Teixeira, also indicted in leaked documents case:

The Air National Guardsman accused of posting a trove of classified documents to social media has been formally indicted on six counts of willful retention and transmission of classified information related to national defense, the Justice Department announced on Thursday.

Jack Teixeira, a junior enlisted airman who worked within the Massachusetts Air National Guard’s 102nd Intelligence Wing, was arrested in April and charged under the Espionage Act. He allegedly took classified information from Otis Air National Guard Base and is accused of posting the information to Discord, a popular social media platform among gamers.

“Teixeira also posted images of classified documents to the social media platform, which bore standard classification markings – including ‘SECRET,’ ‘TOP SECRET,’ and SCI designations – indicating that they contained highly classified United States government information,” the Justice Department said in its announcement of the indictment.

Teixeira will remain in custody while he awaits trial.

Fourth news item

So exactly how has Trump polled since his indictment? Morning Consult:

Details:

Nearly 3 in 5 potential Republican primary (59%) voters back Trump for the party’s 2024 presidential nomination, up from 55% last week before news of his indictment on charges related to his handling of classified documents after leaving the White House. Almost 1 in 5 (19%) support DeSantis, nearing an all-time low since tracking began in December.

Pence, Christie and Burgum enter race with meager support: Former Vice President Mike Pence is backed by 8% of potential Republican primary voters, similar to his standing before he launched his bid on June 7. Two percent of the party’s prospective electorate supports former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, while zero percent support North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.

It’s incredible that Trump continues to lead the Republican pack, even after a second indictment. It’s anybody’s guess what will finally break the back of Trump’s cult of personality. But given that there is an increasing number of actual conservative candidates to back, maybe MAGA voters will see that Trump really isn’t the best and the brightest…

Fifth news item

One step closer:

US President Joe Biden is comfortable with removing one of the hurdles for Ukraine to join NATO, a source familiar with the situation told CNN…Biden would be willing to drop the Membership Action Plan (MAP) for Ukraine, which was described in a 2008 agreement as “the next step for Ukraine … on their direct way to membership.” The MAP, characterized as “the program of advice, assistance and practical support tailored to the individual needs of countries wishing to join the Alliance,” is a process that other nations have had to undertake to join NATO.

Why this matters: Its removal would represent a small step in easing Ukraine’s accession into the defensive alliance…however, the United States still does not view Ukraine’s membership into the alliance as imminent due to reforms that Kyiv needs to make, and the source said the Stoltenberg proposal reflects this.

The report confirms that President Zelensky understands that Ukraine cannot become NATO members while at war.

Sixth news item

Ah:

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa claimed on the Senate floor earlier this week that the foreign national who allegedly bribed then-Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter has 17 audio recordings of their conversations but questioned whether those tapes even existed in an interview with CNN days later.

“I don’t even know where they are. I just know they exist, because of what the report says. Now, maybe they don’t exist. But how will I know until the FBI tells us, are they showing us their work?” Grassley said Thursday.

House Oversight Chairman James Comer of Kentucky, who is overseeing the GOP investigation into the Biden family business dealings and has been quick to make the alleged bribery scheme a focus of his work, admitted to not knowing whether the tapes were legitimate.

“We don’t know if they’re legit or not, but we know that the foreign national claims he has them,” Comer said of the alleged recordings during a Tuesday interview on Newsmax.

House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, who also serves on the Oversight panel and has made the Department of Justice and FBI a target of his investigative efforts, told CNN of the tapes, “I have no reason to doubt anything Senator Grassley says, but I don’t know if they exist or not.”

And Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, who led his own investigation into the Biden family in 2020 and has long peddled the notion of wrongdoing, said in a separate Newsmax interview, “I’m not even aware that we verified those recordings exist.”

Seventh news item

Good news:

The top Republican on the US Senate foreign relations committee has introduced legislation authorising President Joe Biden to seize Russian sovereign assets and transfer them to Kyiv for the long-term reconstruction of Ukraine.

The move comes as both parties in Congress are increasing pressure on the Biden administration and its allies to find ways for Russian money to fund the billions of dollars that will be needed to rebuild Ukraine, rather than western taxpayers.

The bipartisan bill was filed on Thursday by Jim Risch, the Idaho Republican senator and the party’s top member of the foreign relations committee, along with Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat on the Senate judiciary committee.

It argues Russia “bears responsibility for the financial burden of the reconstruction of Ukraine” and gives the president the ability to “confiscate” frozen Russian sovereign assets in the US, including Russian central bank assets, so they can quickly be directed to Ukraine.

In addition, it calls on Biden to push for the establishment of a “common international compensation mechanism” with foreign partners as an additional way to funnel the seized Russian money to Kyiv.

Bill Browder gives the bill a thumb’s up:

The bill is well written and the most serious effort to date to confiscate Russian gov’t reserves. This should set the ball rolling for other countries to follow.

Eighth news item

Excerpts from a great interview with Natan Sharansky:

In a society under dictatorship, Sharansky says — has long said — there are three groups. On one end, there are true believers in the dictatorship. Sincere supporters. On the other end, there are outright dissidents, ready to sacrifice life and limb in a struggle for freedom. Both of these groups are very small. In between, there are “double thinkers” (a term originating in Orwell). They say one thing with their mouths but harbor other thoughts privately. They are governed by fear. When the double thinkers lose their fear and move into dissent — the dictatorship is finished.

That is the state of Russia today, says Sharansky. The group of double thinkers is massive. It is very, very dangerous to dissent. But once the double thinkers tip . . .

Of one thing, Sharansky is sure: Trying to appease Putin would be foolhardy. If you feed him parts of Ukraine, or parts of Poland, or a Baltic state or two, he will not be sated. He will merely take this as proof that “his strategy or tactics are working,” says Sharansky. The dictator will forge ahead. “So the only way to stop a dictator is to resist. The Western world, finally, is united in its understanding that Putin is a big threat. And we have to resist.”

Read the whole thing.

And have a great weekend!

–Dana

Next Page »

Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.2027 secs.