Patterico's Pontifications


Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:42 am

[guest post by Dana]

Let’s go!

First news item

Judge Chutkan cautions Trump:

“Mr. Trump, like every American, has a First Amendment right to free speech, but that right is not absolute. In a criminal case such as this one, the defendant’s free speech is subject to the rules…Whether or not Trump’s public statements are covered by the protective order that’s issued, if they result in the intimidation of a witness or the obstruction of justice, “I will be scrutinizing them very carefully.”

Amusingly, from Trump’s lawyer:

“President Trump will scrupulously abide by his conditions of release.”

Note: Chutkan adopted restrictions proposed by prosecutors that would bar Trump from publicly disclosing information from interview transcripts and recordings from the investigation, including from witness interviews with investigators that took place outside of the grand jury.

Addtionally, from Judge Chutkan:

“The fact that he is running a political campaign currently has to yield to the administration of justice,” the judge said. “And if that means he can’t say exactly what he wants to say in a political speech, that is just how it’s going to have to be.”

When Trump’s lawyer suggested that if Trump debates Pence, there might be an overlap of what is in discovery, the judge wasn’t buying it: “He is a criminal defendant. He is going to have constraints the same as any defendant. This case is going to proceed in a normal order.”

Meanwhile, the former president isn’t a unhappy camper:

Second news item

Judge Luttig opines on today’s Republican Party:

“American democracy simply cannot function without two equally healthy and equally strong political parties. So today, in my view, there is no Republican Party to counter the Democratic Party in the country…And for that reason, American democracy is in grave peril.”

“A political party is a collection and assemblage of individuals who share a set of beliefs and principles and policy views about the United States of America. Today, there is no such shared set of beliefs and values and principles or even policy views as within the Republican Party for America.”

Third news item

Military aid package to Ukraine:

The Pentagon will provide Ukraine with $200 million in weapons and ammunition to help sustain Kyiv’s counteroffensive as troops on the front lines face significant hurdles against a well-entrenched Russian defense, according to two U.S. officials.

This latest package will include missiles for the High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) and the Patriot air defense system, munitions for howitzers and tanks, Javelin rockets, mine-clearing equipment, 12 million rounds of small arms ammunition and demolition munitions, said a U.S. official. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the aid has not yet been publicly announced.

About continuing aid to Ukraine:

The idea that the U.S. is prioritizing Ukraine over domestic concerns is not true. For example, the CARES Act that was passed in response to the Covid pandemic cost $2 trillion. That’s about $15,600 per household. Total Covid relief spending totaled around $5 trillion, or about $39,100 per household. That’s 4,244 percent greater than Ukraine spending per household.

Ukraine aid is not driving the $32.7 trillion national debt. U.S. national debt per household is about $256,000. The $900 for Ukraine is 0.35 percent of that.

Consider the context of defense spending, which is a legitimate function of the federal government that should be prioritized in budgeting. The 2023 budget for the Department of Defense is $816.7 billion. That’s for one year. The $113 billion in Ukraine aid has been over about one and a half years. At an annualized rate of $75.3 billion for Ukraine, the U.S. is spending the equivalent of 9.2 percent of its defense budget to fund a country that is willing and able to effectively fight one of America’s top adversaries and degrade that adversary’s military capabilities, all while putting zero American lives at risk.

The unspoken assumption behind the $900-per-household number is that if only it weren’t for Ukraine aid, that money would come back to taxpayers. It would not. The government did not raise taxes to fund Ukraine spending, and it would spend those $900 on something else.

Hyping up aid to foreign countries as a fiscal concern is an age-old tactic in American politics. It’s much easier to argue for cutting spending when the beneficiaries of that spending don’t vote in American elections. But America’s spending problems are driven by health-care programs, interest payments, and Social Security.

The U.S. has indeed spent $900 per household on Ukraine aid in the past year and a half. Based on this year’s projected outlays of $5.3 trillion, the federal government is spending about $14.5 billion per day, $605 million per hour, $10 million per minute, and $168,000 per second. Ukraine spending isn’t the problem.

Third news item

Fuck these man-children who simply cannot handle women knowing freedom:

For months, Iranian authorities did little to enforce the law on women covering their hair but now the country’s theocracy is pushing to make businesses the new battleground over the mandatory headscarf.

The effort comes ahead of the first anniversary of nationwide protests that erupted after the Sept. 16 death of Mahsa Amini in the custody of the country’s morality police. A crackdown by security forces that followed saw more than 530 people killed and over 22,000 arrested.

These days, with uncovered women a common sight on Tehran streets, authorities have begun raiding companies where women employees or customers have been seen without the headscarf, or hijab. Iran’s parliament is discussing a law that would increase punishments on uncovered women and the businesses they frequent…

“I’m telling you that this lack of hijab will be definitely put an end to,“ hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi said Wednesday.

Fourth news item

Speaking of Iran:

President Biden has signed off on a politically charged agreement with Iran to bring home five American citizens in exchange for the regime gaining access in the coming weeks to billions of dollars in blocked funds sitting outside the heavily sanctioned country, CBS News has learned.

Some $6 billion of that money currently sits in a restricted bank account in South Korea that is inaccessible to the heavily sanctioned Iranian regime.

Adrienne Watson, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, confirmed the five prisoners had been placed under house arrest and said “negotiations for their eventual release remain ongoing and are delicate.”

Prominent activist Masih Alinejad reacts to the news:

Biden reaches $6B deal to free Americans in exchange for jailed Iranians.

Taking Americans and Europeans hostage is a business for the criminal leaders of Islamic Republic.

Many Iranians are glad that 5 innocent American-Iranians kept hostage, as bargaining chip have been released. From personal experience I know how hard it is for the families.

But the Biden administration is paying a huge price and there are no guarantees that more Americans will not be taken hostage.

Biden administration should be transparent about the details of releasing this five innocent prisoners. They have to address to all Americans that what Islamic Republic will get in return.

Giving billions of dollars to hostage takers will send a signal to them that from now on you can take more Americans hostage without any punishment.

This is called hostage diplomacy, and it should end.

The US and the European leaders must warn their citizens not to travel to Iran. Because my beloved country Iran under this barbaric regime is not land of tourism, but land of terrorism. Instead of sending billions of dollars to terrorists, the US must call it’s allies, to get them united and ask them to cut their diplomatic relation with hostage takers until all innocent political prisoners are free.Islamic Republic only understand one language: language of pressure.

Fifth news item

Special counsel appointed re Hunter Biden:

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Friday that he is appointing U.S. Attorney for Delaware David Weiss as special counsel to lead the investigation into Hunter Biden.

“Upon considering his request, as well as the extraordinary circumstances relating to this matter, I have concluded that it is in the public interest to appoint him as special counsel,” Garland said.

Sixth news item

Latest on the horrific wildfires in Hawaii:

As many as 55 people have now been confirmed dead in the wildfires that tore through Maui, and mass evacuations of residents and tourists continue.

Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen said Friday morning the death toll “could go up.” So far, victims were found outside buildings, the interior of structures have not yet been searched.

Six fires are still burning in Maui and the Big Island, but officials said the Lahaina fire is now 80% contained. Many of the town’s historic landmarks are lost.

Go here for information on how to provide aid to help.

Seventh news item

One of my favorite bands growing up was The Band, led by the talented Robbie Robertson. He passed away this week at 80 years of age. Whenever I listen to The Band, I am instantly and sentimentally transported back to summers in upstate New York. While I am unable to adequately describe their music because of its uniqueness, I think this is pretty close: The group’s rootsy sound and soulful performances, combined with Robertson’s evocative and enigmatic songwriting and strong knack for melody, helped set the early standard for the hybrid genre that would eventually become known as Americana, inspiring entire generations of future musicians. The outfit bid farewell with a 1976 concert at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom. The event was filmed by Martin Scorsese and released as the stellar documentary, The Last Waltz. The only surviving original member of The Band is Garth Hudson.

Have a great weekend!


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