Patterico's Pontifications

9/29/2023

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:24 am



[guest post by Dana]

I’m traveling, so this will be brief.

Let’s go!

First news item

House Speaker, who made concession after concession, including a “motion to vacate,” is now under fire, as Republicans consider other candidates to fill the position.

Second news item

Yet again, a government shutdown is looming as Congress is at an impasse regarding the best way to keep the government funded.

Third news item

Sen. Diane Feinstein passes away at 90. RIP.

Fourth news item

Chew on this:

“The only explanation for either folly is actually the explanation for both of them: they both flow out of the explicit and adamant demands of a calculating and narcissistic Donald Trump.

“Trump has repeatedly called for Republicans to shut down the government as the ‘last chance’ to stop the four ‘political prosecutions’ against him on 91 different criminal charges. He and his sycophants would gladly deny paychecks to more than a million service members and strip food assistance from millions of women and children on the off-chance Trump could delay having to face juries of his peers for dozens of alleged criminal offenses.

“Similarly, Trump is explicitly threatening his House followers to impeach President Biden because Trump was himself impeached. ‘They did it to us,’ he says. But that is not the constitutional standard, which refers to treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors…

“The GOP’s opposition to Trump’s impeachment was a tragedy. The GOP’s support for Biden’s impeachment is a farce.”

Fifth news item

Russia seems to confirm that the invasion of Ukraine wasn’t about NATO, it was about restoring Russian empire.

Sixth news item

In light of “more than half of House Republicans” vote against $300 million in aid to Ukraine:

A notable milestone. A shocking turn of history, the modern GOP.

Have a great weekend.

—Dana

9/27/2023

Republican Debate Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:13 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Tonight is the big night! The second Republican candidate debate. It’s also the second debate where frontrunner Donald Trump will not be making an appearance. The former president will instead be rallying in a swing area of northern Michigan. He is scheduled to give a speech before the debate begins.

Anyway, there will be seven candidates will be vying for *second* place: Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, Mike Pence, Nikki Haley, Tim Scott, Chris Christie and Doug Burgum. Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson failed to make the cut this debate.

It’s ironic that the debate will be held at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, given the current MAGA state of the Republican Party, which Reagan would likely view as nearly unrecognizable :

The Reagan-era GOP base was made up of fiscal conservatives who wanted to slash government spending while cutting taxes and barriers to free trade, social conservatives who fought to limit abortion rights, and defense hawks who advocated for foreign intervention and steep military spending.

All three parts of Reagan’s “three-legged stool” are caught in a tug of war — one that kicked off as Trump remade the party in his image. Much of the party now wants to impose steep tariffs to limit global trade, while Trump and others have shown they have no issue with harnessing state power to achieve culture war goals. Recently, Trump himself has taken to criticizing the anti-abortion rights movement on his Truth Social platform while criticizing six-week abortion bans as “terrible.” And the war in Ukraine has deeply divided the party, particularly over how much the U.S. should spend supporting its Ukrainian ally.

Anyway, questions to ponder: Will the fading DeSantis come out fighting like a real contender? Will Nikki Haley continue to break through and push on to the front of the debate pack? Will that walking contradiction Vivek Ramaswamy spout more nonsense and yet still charm voters? Will Mike Pence find his voice, and realize that it’s 2023? And without Trump there, who will Chris Christie go after? And so on…

You can find where to watch the debate here.

To the dismay of many former Republicans, sane voters, and to the shame of our country, I’ll leave you with this dismally accurate observation:

Far from being an electoral liability, the former president is starting to lead — or at the very least tie — Biden in general election polling.

Not only is Trump the top choice of a growing majority of Republican primary voters in national surveys, but Republicans overwhelmingly think he’s the candidate with the best chance of beating Biden next fall. And poll after poll suggests Biden and Trump are essentially tied with just over a year until the general election.

Unbelievable.

—Dana

9/25/2023

Yep, That Nutty Debate Is Happening

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:53 pm



[guest post by Dana]

I suppose if Gov. Ron DeSantis were polling remotely close to you-know-who in the Republican race, there wouldn’t be much upside to this. It would be risky. And there would indeed be a possible downside for the Florida governor if Gov. Gavin Newsom wiped the floor with him. However, given DeSantis’s dismal polling behind Trump, I don’t think it will make much of a difference if he wins or loses the debate. There is, however, a potential upside for Gov. Gavin Newsom. If he dominates, voters outside of California would be exposed to a young, potential presidential candidate exercising his political chops and eviscerating his opponent. And, if he makes a last minute decision to challenge President Biden, winning a debate like this could bolster his chances:

The long-rumored televised debate between California Governor Gavin Newsom and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is officially a go.

Fox News says that its 9 p.m. host Sean Hannity will moderate the debate, which will be held Thursday, Nov. 30 in the state of Georgia. The 90-minute debate will take place at a location to be determined, and will run during Hannity’s 9 p.m. program.

This would make sense if both DeSantis and Newsom were both running for the presidency. However, Newsom has been very direct when reiterating that he will not challenge President Biden in 2024. And yet, while making an appearance on 60 Minutes last night, he was sure vague when questioned again about it:

And this caught my eye:

A DeSantis-Newsom debate…will give the politicians extensive time on Fox’s primetime lineup to make their case.

What case? One is a Republican running for the presidency, and one is a sitting Democratic governor who will soon be termed out. I think DeSantis is already starting at a deficit simply by agreeing to debate Newsom. Other than it being a matter of ego and pride (not good reasons), why would he deign to agree to this?

Anyway, there is some interesting chatter behind the scenes:

Advisors of Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have reportedly complained about the planned debate, with one calling the event “disrespectful” to the Democratic ticket. NBC News reported that some advisors are concerned the debate will make voters think Newsom is running a shadow 2024 campaign that could elevate DeSantis’ platform, but others have said it could be beneficial for the party to see a high-profile Democrat defending his record against a GOP hopeful.

At this point, everyone running on the Republican side is just playing for seconds, hoping to be selected as Trump’s running mate or securing a cabinet position (if Trump wins the national election). Remarkably, Trump continues to poll well above his challengers and not even the indictments or his insanity on social media are making a dent in his popularity. To the contrary.

At the end of the day, however, that Trump has an ever increasing lead over his competition remains an indictment against…Republican voters.

–Dana

9/22/2023

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:53 am



[guest post by Dana]

Let’s go!

First news item

Assigning Anne Frank graphic novel to 8th graders lands teacher out of a job:

A Texas teacher has been fired after a middle school class was assigned to read a graphic novel adaptation of “The Diary of Anne Frank” that officials say had not been approved by the school district.

The Hamshire-Fannett Independent School District announced that a teacher had assigned an eighth-grade class to read a passage from “Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation,” which includes passages Frank wrote about female and male genitalia, and a possible attraction to women. The unabridged version of Frank’s diary has been removed from schools in Texas and Florida this year after complaints from parents over the book’s sexual content…

An investigation is trying to determine whether the adaptation of Anne Frank’s diary had been approved. District officials maintain that the graphic adaptation was never approved, but the book was on a reading list sent to parents at the beginning of the school year, according to KFDM, a CBS and Fox affiliate in Beaumont that was the first to report the story.

Anne Frank was 13 years old when she received her diary and began writing in it. Kids in the eighth grade are usually 13 years old. While I’m pretty sure today’s kids can handle something Frank wrote at the same age, I can also see where students might be embarrassed hearing the graphic text read aloud in a classroom of boys and girls. But rather than it having to do with something like girls being ashamed of their bodies, an embarrassed reaction could easily be a kid’s natural modesty in action. And that’s not a bad thing. Especially in this day and age. But it seems silly, and perhaps unlawful(?) to fire a teacher over this, given the confusion over the reading list.

Second news item

A devastating snippet from Jeffrey Goldberg’s new profile of Mark Milley in The Atlantic:

Milley had chosen a severely wounded Army captain, Luis Avila, to sing “God Bless America.” Avila, who had completed five combat tours, had lost a leg in an IED attack in Afghanistan, and had suffered two heart attacks, two strokes, and brain damage as a result of his injuries. To Milley, and to four-star generals across the Army, Avila and his wife, Claudia, represented the heroism, sacrifice, and dignity of wounded soldiers.

It had rained that day, and the ground was soft; at one point Avila’s wheelchair threatened to topple over. Milley’s wife, Holly­anne, ran to help Avila, as did Vice President Mike Pence. After Avila’s performance, Trump walked over to congratulate him, but then said to Milley, within earshot of several witnesses, “Why do you bring people like that here? No one wants to see that, the wounded.” Never let Avila appear in public again, Trump told Milley. (Recently, Milley invited Avila to sing at his retirement ceremony.)

Unsurprising.

Third news item

Democratic senator nailed:

New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez was charged on Friday with corruption-related offenses for the second time in 10 years.

Menendez and his wife, Nadine Arslanian Menendez, are accused of accepting “hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes” in exchange for the senator’s influence, according to the newly unsealed federal indictment.

Prosecutors allege the bribes included gold, cash, home mortgage payments, compensation for a “low-or-no-show job” and a luxury vehicle.

This is the second set of corruption charges levied against Menendez by the Justice Department in a decade. He previously fought off conspiracy, bribery and honest services fraud related to alleged personal favors.

Menendez is up for reelection next year…

Details:

In June 2022, FBI agents executed search warrants on Menendez’s home and found more than $480,000 in cash, “much of it stuffed into envelopes and hidden in clothing, closets, and a safe.”

Agents found envelopes of cash inside jackets bearing Menendez’s name. Their search found home furnishings, a luxury vehicle and gold bars all provided by the businessmen.

No word if they found anything in his bathroom…

Menendez railed against the charges, sounding alot like that Witch Hunt guy:

For years, forces behind the scenes have repeatedly attempted to silence my voice and dig my political grave. Since this investigation was leaked nearly a year ago, there has been an active smear campaign of anonymous sources and innuendos to create an air of impropriety where none exists,” he said.

You can read the indictment here.

Fourth news item

Two years ago, Kevin McCarthy welcomed President Zelensky with open arms, not so much this year. Good to see a media outlet that I wouldn’t expect to take issue with McCarthy’s behavior, take issue with McCarthy’s behavior:

Speaker Kevin McCarthy dissed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday, not only refusing to OK a joint address to Congress, but even forcing the visitor to meet with House Republicans off the chamber’s floor.

Bush league, Kevin.

…we get that many of his members have turned all-out against US aid to Ukraine; keeping Zelensky at arm’s length spares him considerable flak.

(In reality, a huge chunk of “Ukraine aid” gets spent at home, on modernizing US ordnance as we send older equipment over there — and that modernization is vital to beefing up our neglected defenses.)

More important: Russia’s imperialist war of aggression needs defeating.

If the Kremlin wins, it’ll move on to bullying other neighbors in Central Europe, threatening NATO members and risking a conflict that would draw in US troops.

And would-be conquerors will imitate Vladimir Putin, as the entire world order decays.

America and the West will pay a far higher price than we are paying now.

Fifth news item

A no-brainer “yes” at the one year mark of Mahsa Amini’s death:

One of the bills approved on Tuesday, the Mahsa Amini Human Rights and Security Accountability Act (MAHSA Act), would apply sanctions to Iran’s supreme leader and president. The legislation is named for the 22-year-old Kurdish woman whose death and alleged abuse while in the custody of Iran’s morality police almost a year ago for improperly wearing her hijab, or head covering, sparked historic anti-government protests across Iran.

The National Union for Democracy in Iran (NUFDI), an Iranian-American group opposed to the regime and a supporter of the bill, said in a statement that the MAHSA Act would help reveal the true nature of the Islamic Republic.

“[The Islamic Republic of Iran] is not a partner worthy of engagement, but a brutal dictatorship whose opponents — the freedom-loving people of Iran — deserve America’s solidarity,” NUFDI said. “Holding the regime’s supreme leader and president accountable for their crimes against humanity with the human rights sanctions in the MAHSA Act has been met with overwhelming support from the Iranian-American community and is a needed first step in offering maximum support to the people of Iran in their quest to establish a secular democracy that will secure their fundamental rights and ensure American security.”

Guess which women voted against this? Reps. Cori Bush (D-MO) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN).

A rebuke Freedom fighter Masih Alinejad:

We the women of Iran will never forget that an American congresswoman who enjoys freedom of choice, voted against women of Iran who are getting killed for demanding freedom of choice.

@Ilhan! You sided with our killers by voting against #MahsaAct

The US House passed a bill, tightening sanctions on Iran’s Supreme Leader and President. Votes against were cast by Ilhan Omar. As we approach the anniversary of Mahsa Jina Amini’s death at the hands of the morality police, this timely bill aims to hold the Islamic Republic accountable for its crimes. The broad support for this bill moves us towards a freer Iran. Regrettably, the Biden administration released $6 billion to Iran, establishing a questionable form of diplomacy. I hope the Senate will pass this bill, reflecting our commitment to freedom and human rights.

It’s disheartening to see an American woman who enjoys freedom of choice, who should be advocating for women of Iran who face, prison, lashes, rape, chemical attack and get killed for demanding the same freedom to choose their own dress code, voting against a bill designed to support Iranian women. Yet, this doesn’t surprise me. When I was the target of transnational repression, she campaigned against me for the crime working freelancers for Voice of America media broadcasting. We, Iranian women, will never forget. Mahsa isn’t just a daughter of Iran; she’s a beacon for women globally who stand against dictators. It’s astonishing that while the world stands with Mahsa and Iranian women, you side with the oppressors. The bill was meant to sanction those responsible for atrocities under the Islamic Republic.

We will continue our fight against the gender apartheid regime of Iran, but the history will judge those of you who could help us but decided to side with the religious dictatorship.

I call on all women across the globe to join us to end the gender apartheid regime in Iran. We deserve to have a secular democracy no, not an Islamic terrorist regime.

Sixth news item

Turmoil in Kevin McCarthy’s conference:

Speaker Kevin McCarthy sent his House members home for the week without a clear plan to avoid a looming government shutdown after hardliners in the Republican conference once again scuttled his spending plans, delivering an embarrassing floor defeat for GOP leadership for the second time this week.

The Republican leader slammed his far-right flank for wanting to “burn the place down,” after conservatives dramatically bucked McCarthy and GOP leadership on a procedural vote over a Pentagon funding bill, throwing the House into total paralysis. And now, members are not set to return to session until Tuesday as the possibility of a shutdown at the end of next week appears ever more likely.

“It’s frustrating in the sense that I don’t understand why anybody votes against bringing the idea and having the debate,” McCarthy told reporters.

McCarthy sold his soul. The bill always comes due.

Seventh news item

After months of asking:

President Joe Biden has told his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, that the United States will provide a small number of long-range missiles (ATACMS) to aid the war with Russia, three U.S. officials and a congressional official familiar with the discussions told NBC News on Friday.

The officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly, did not say when the missiles would be delivered or when a public announcement would be made…

The congressional official said there was still a debate about the type of missile that would be sent and how many would be delivered to Ukraine.

The long-range missiles will give Kyiv the ability to strike targets from as far away as about 180 miles, hitting supply lines, railways, and command and control locations behind the Russian front lines.

Good.

Eighth news item

Huh:

Joe Biden’s re-election campaign is deploying California Gov. Gavin Newsom to the second Republican presidential debate next week in Simi Valley, Calif., Biden campaign advisers tell Axios…Donald Trump isn’t likely to attend the GOP debate Wednesday, but Biden’s team also is deploying top officials — including campaign manager Julie Chávez Rodríguez — to contrast the president’s agenda with what they call “MAGA Republicans’ extreme and out of touch views.”

Chávez Rodríguez and DNC chair Jaime Harrison will host Latino organizing events including one focused on Latino men, Biden campaign advisers told Axios.

The DNC also is hiring a plane to fly over Southern California reading “2024 GOP: A Race for the Extreme MAGA Base,” according to a Biden adviser.
Biden re-elect spokesperson Kevin Munoz told Axios: “The campaign response builds off the strong and effective plan from the first debate with a clear north star: Push back on Republicans’ lies and highlight their extremism at every turn.”

MISCELLANEOUS

I could watch this all day long:

Have a great weekend!

–Dana

9/21/2023

Still No Republican Standouts To Overtake You-Know-Who

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:01 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Good question: Why can’t any of the Republican candidates overtake Trump? At this point in time, Trump is not yet unbeatable but the conditions in which he could be beaten are still far from materializing.

From the analysis:

All hope is not dead for Donald Trump’s Republican rivals, but anyone seeking to emerge as a genuine challenger must soon begin to coalesce opposition to the ex-president to slow his chase toward a third straight GOP nomination.

A new CNN/SSRS poll showing the ex-president’s big lead steady in the first primary state of New Hampshire, an escalation of the campaign in Iowa, and frustrations among donors over a bloated field that is splitting the anti-Trump vote are injecting new urgency into the race four months before voting starts.

“We’re talking about four months. Can you believe it?” the ex-president said during a trip to Iowa on Wednesday, claiming that his polling had gone up like a “rocket ship” and boasting about how he had carried the state twice in general elections.

This is about a lot more than a horse race. In this unprecedented election, Trump’s strength raises the possibility that Republicans could chose a candidate facing four criminal trials, who could be a convicted felon by the November 2024 election and is promising, in an outpouring of autocratic rhetoric, a presidency of retribution that would test the rule of law more than his first term.

And yet…here we are.

Moreover:

But for anyone to seriously damage the ex-president, in the Granite State and elsewhere, one candidate would need to emerge in a still bloated field as the choice of almost all voters who oppose him. With four months to go, there is no sign yet of any of the chasing pack being willing to cede their own ambitions in favor of their rivals in order to stop Trump. And if Trump does not take on severe damage in the first two contests, it’s hard to see how his momentum can be halted as the race turns south and to big state primaries loaded with nominating delegates.

The second GOP debate will be held on Sept. 27. Now down from eight candidates, six candidates have qualified, thus far, to be on stage (Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, Mike Pence, Tim Scott, Nikki Haley and Chris Christie). It is being reported that you-know-who will skip the debate and instead speak before a group of union workers in Detroit.

The latest polls:

GOP, you have a big problem. Still.

–Dana

9/20/2023

President Zelensky Clarifies Yet Again: Ukraine Is Our Territory, Including Crimea

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:26 pm



[guest post by Dana]

I have a gripe. While I’m pretty sure he would claim that he was simply asking the questions that need to be asked, I was irritated when 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley put the onus on Ukraine for peace in a clip released prior to the interview with Ukraine’s President Zelensky:

PELLEY: Can you give up any part of Ukraine for peace?

ZELENSKY: No, this is our territory.

PELLEY: You must have it all, including Crimea?

ZELENSKY: Today you and I… you said it to me… you saw me awarding people [medals]. [Well] today is a day like that. A week ago, I gave awards to parents [of soldiers who have been killed]. There were 24 families of the dead. There was a woman. She was with three children. There were parents, very old. They could barely walk and they had had only one son. One of the women was pregnant. She arrived holding a baby in her arms. And she was pregnant. And that baby will never see… what should I tell them? That all of them died so that we could say, “It’s okay, [Russia] you can take it all.” It’s a difficult job. You understand me, right? Giving awards to people whose faces show their whole world has collapsed. And all I can give them, all I can give them – is victory.

Why isn’t the onus for peace put on the invading country rather than the sovereign nation that continues to battle an enemy seeking to destroy while occupying its territories? Peace will come when Russia leaves Ukraine and gives back the illegally occupied territories. There is nothing Zelensky can do to bring peace, other than defeat Russia, drive them out, and severely weaken them. If Zelensky said, yes, we will let them have the occupied territories, including Crimea, Russia won’t stop their march of conquest and genocide. Why would they? What indicators has Putin given that would make anyone believe he would be satisfied with that and stop his war on Ukraine – and by extension, democracy? Especially when the goal is to wipe out Ukraine and subsume it into Russia. It is inarguable that the burden for peace in Ukraine rests on Russia and Russia alone. But Pelley’s phrasing (coupled with his condescending tone) seems to imply that Zelensky should be willing to give up something for peace, because apparently the deaths of around 170,000+ soldiers and 10,000 civilians isn’t enough of a sacrifice. Additionally, Pelley’s tone of disbelief when asking “You must have it all, including Crimea?” sounds like he’s scolding Zelensky for being selfish.

Normally I wouldn’t be so judgy about a clip, but the thing is, this is the clip that 60 Minutes released to advertise the interview with President Zelensky. Anyway, I took a look around and it appears that I am in good company with my irritation:

Deplorable. Help Russia destroy his country? Murder more Ukrainians? It’s also a question based on the blatantly false pretenses that Russia wants peace and that Putin can be trusted. Ukraine gave up parts of Ukraine in 2014 and Putin attacked again. Not anyway, but because.

How about, “Why are the US and other NATO nations sitting on the weapons you need to save lives, retake your land, and bring peace?” Or, “What should happen to the nations and companies providing Russia and its allies with tech & parts used to murder Ukrainians?”

Russia has occupied and destroyed entire cities, leaving a trail of rape, torture, and countless other war crimes. Ukrainian children kidnapped, their parents murdered. Those are the human beings who live on the land this question asks Zelenskyy to give up for a fictional peace.

Putin has never stopped saying that his goal is the destruction of Ukraine. Russian propaganda boasts that this is a war of conquest and genocide. The only way to any real peace is Ukrainian victory, Ukraine whole and free, and Russia defeated and defanged.

P.S. I would add that while Zelensky didn’t bristle at the questions in the clip above, the smarmy Pelley did in fact provide an enormous platform for Ukraine’s president to once again clarify Ukraine’s position.

–Dana

9/19/2023

The Ongoing Obliteration of Our Social Standards

Filed under: General — JVW @ 9:47 am



[guest post by JVW]

You don’t have to be as crotchety, quarrelsome, dyspeptic, and intolerant as I am to have noticed that these days Americans dress like slobs. Casual Friday in the workplace has morphed into come-as-you-are, with hoodies replacing suit jackets, polo shirts replacing blouses, blue jeans replacing grey flannel pants, leggings replacing skirts, and tennis shoes everywhere you look (don’t get me started on those who wear flip-flops in the office). I know, I know: O tempora! O mores! to you too old man, and I certainly deserve that. But it is really too much to ask that a professional dress, uh, professionally?

Apparently it is for the United States Senate. The most august worldwide body of gasbags (average age: 80.4) has surrendered to the zeitgeist and is doing away with its sartorial requirements for the Senate floor. And guess which United States Senator is the impetus for this change? OK, that was an easy one. Rich Lowry has some thoughts about it:

John Fetterman’s Senate legacy is now set — he’s the guy who made it possible to dress like a slob.

What the Missouri Compromise was to Henry Clay, what the Second Reply to Hayne was to Daniel Webster, what the Civil Rights Act of 1957 was to Lyndon Johnson, Carhartt sweatshirts and baggy shorts will be to John Fetterman.

The Pennsylvania senator is the poster boy — if self-indulgent sloppiness is your thing — for the Senate dropping a dress code that required senators to dress in business attire when appearing on the Senate floor.

Fetterman briefly complied with the rule by making the sacrifice of putting on a suit and tie after he was first elected. Then, he reverted to his standard uniform that makes it look like he just arrived after sitting on his couch, surrounded by empty pizza boxes, watching football games all weekend.

And you know the best part of this new rule? Like virtually everything else in Washington, it only applies to the elect (quite literally so) and certainly not to the lowly help. From the Axios article linked above:

The updated rule will go into effect this week, according to a Senate official. The change applies only to senators — staff members will still be required to follow the old dress code.

It’s not as if the John Fettermans of the Senate had been disenfranchised before the rule change. Axios points out that tradition allowed for slovenly-dressed (and to me, slovenly dressed is stepping out without your diamond stickpin in your lapel) to stand with one foot in the Senate Cloakroom and one on the Senate floor and cast a vote from there, or to even briefly step onto the floor in order to cast a thumbs-up/thumbs-down vote. But now of course we’ll likely be treated to the spectacle of Senator Fetterman — whom I will acknowledge for the record is facing some issues with both his physical and mental health — standing in the Senate well where once stood giants such as Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, Robert Taft, and Carol Mosley Braun, speaking to the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body™ while dressed as a skater punk.

We’ve done this to ourselves. Gentlemen, put those neckties back on before you head to work. Ladies, no more sleeveless tops in the office. Let’s restore some dignity to our increasingly-dreary lives.

[Edit: Post-publication I changed the title of this post from “The Ongoing Lowering of Our Social Standards” (which you will still see in the URL) to “The Ongoing Obliteration of Our Social Standards” which I frankly feel is more accurate in this matter.]

– JVW

9/15/2023

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:07 am



[guest post by Dana]

Let’s go!

First news item

When you have to pay for protection for your family because of serious concerns about supporters of the leading Republican candidate for the 2024 presidential election, what does that say about your political party?

As a critic of Trump’s, King was concerned for Romney’s safety. More than two years later, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee is still paying $5,000 a day for private security to protect his family from the supporters of his party’s presidential nominee in the next two cycles…

Second news item

Despite the most “most pro-Union president” predicting that they wouldn’t strike, members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) walked off the job at midnight. Three plants are involved (Missouri, Ohio, Michigan). What the workers want:

The UAW had been seeking a 40 percent wage hike over four years (amounting to 46 percent compounded), along with cost-of-living increases; beefed-up retirement benefits, including pensions on par with what autoworkers previously received; and full pay for a shortened 32-hour workweek, down from 40 hours (NBC News). The union wants workers to benefit from corporate profits since the last contract in 2019, and to account for inflation.

Additionally:

They are also pushing back against President Joe Biden’s nationwide push for electric vehicles, a transition that could impact auto worker jobs when it is fully implemented. In contrast with gas-powered vehicles, electric cars require fewer workers to assemble, and the batteries can be made in non-union factories or by workers with lower wages.

Despite his vocal support for labor unions, Biden has not received an endorsement from the UAW. Many other unions have endorsed the president.

Oh.

Third news item

The courageous Masih Alinejad continues to work tirelessly for regime change and gender apartheid in Iran. As Iranian women remove their hijabs and brave the streets of Iranian cities and villages, they face arrest, torture and even murder (see: Mahsa Amini). While Iranian women are taking great risks in defying the government, so too does Alinejad:

Fourth news item

California school district says let’s stick to state and country flags:

A California school district banned the flying of any flag other than the United States or state flag, a move critics and supporters say is directed at the flying of the LBTQIA+ pride flag. In the same measure, Temecula Valley Unified School District also required that “Students not reciting the Pledge of Allegiance shall maintain a respectful silence.”

“No flag other than the United States of America and state of California may be displayed on school grounds, including classrooms, unless it is a country, state or United States military flag used solely for educational purposes within the adopted curriculum. Any other flag must be approved by the Superintendent or designee prior to displaying if, and only if, it is used for educational purposes and only during the related instructional period,” read the full section of the approved measure.

Either you allow the flags representing all causes to fly or you limit it to just the United States and California flags. I don’t have a problem with this district’s decision.

NOTE:

“The First Amendment bars the government from restricting others’ speech, but it doesn’t apply to the government’s own speech. A school district can speak on its own behalf and promote some views but not others,” said Aaron Terr, Director of Public Advocacy at free speech nonprofit Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression in response to an inquiry from The Center Square. “As long as the policy applies only to flags that schools display on school grounds, it should pass constitutional muster. But if the district were to, say, restrict students from wearing clothing or displaying a patch that depicts a flag disfavored by the district, that would raise First Amendment issues.”

Fifth news item

Top Democrats cannot bring themselves to say, Yes, Kamala Harris is the best running mate for President Biden. In the case of Jamie Raskin, he declined to answer directly when pressed three times by Jake Tapper:

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) declined to endorse Vice President Harris as the best running mate for President Biden in 2024 when pressed by CNN anchor Jake Tapper…Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) similarly declined to say if Harris, a fellow California Democrat, was Biden’s best option for a running mate earlier this week.

I get it. I feel the same way…

Sixth news item

I double-dog-dare you, cried the man who sold his soul to become the Speaker:

Angry, frustrated and unable to lead a fractured and unruly Republican majority, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Thursday told the colleagues threatening to oust him: Do it.

The embattled Republican leader essentially dared his hard-right flank to quit holding the risk of a vote to remove him from the job.

“File the f——- motion,” McCarthy said, using a profanity for emphasis, according to those in the private meeting.

With a government shutdown looming, McCarthy is confronting the same stubborn problem that has driven Republicans before him from the speaker’s job — trying to lead a ruptured GOP majority that’s split between what’s left of the traditional party and a harder-right element largely allied with former President Donald Trump.

Even his decision to launch an impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden did little this week to appease the demands of the Freedom Caucus and others as they threaten to shut down the government in pursuit of deep spending cuts or move to a motion to oust him from office.

Seventh news item

President Zelensky to address United Nations General Assembly:

US President Joe Biden plans to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky next week around the United Nations General Assembly meetings, according to multiple officials familiar with the plans…One source familiar with the matter told CNN that Zelensky is expected to travel to Washington, DC, after his stop in New York…Zelensky is planning to use an in-person appearance at the annual meeting to appeal for more support for Ukraine as it continues to wage a counteroffensive against Russia…Among his objectives will be trying to persuade nations that haven’t taken a firm stance against the war to be more forceful in their condemnation of Russia.

Unfortunately, moderate Republicans are also questioning funding for Ukraine:

Skepticism is growing among House Republicans on the approval of more Ukraine funding as Congress faces its first test on America’s role in the war against Russia.

The House could face a vote as soon as this month as the Senate looks to fold a Ukraine aid package into a continuing resolution that would push back the deadline for a potential government shutdown…

While a minority wing of far-right lawmakers have long opposed more Ukraine funding, several GOP lawmakers told The Hill this week that more moderate House Republicans are also raising concerns…

The uneasiness in the House comes as the Senate plans to include Ukraine funding in a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government funded as annual appropriations bills are worked out.

If the House refuses to pass a CR with the Ukraine funding attached, it could be punted to later this year and attached to other spending bills or considered on its own.

Punchbowl News reported this month that McCarthy does not want Ukraine funding in a CR but will move to pass it as a separate supplemental — but only if he wins additional funding for the border.

Note: The next vote on Ukraine aid will be the first on a major package since Speaker Kevin McCarthy took the gavel promising no more “blank checks” to Ukraine.

Eighth news item

Los Angeles District Attorney failed to apply for state funds to fight increasing crime wave:

Candidate for Los Angeles County District Attorney Eric Sapetto Siddall slammed District Attorney George Gascón’s failure to secure additional resources to combat the rampant smash and grab retail theft happening throughout Los Angeles.

The deadline to secure state funding to combat organized retail theft passed today and counties from all over California applied and received grants. Despite a dire need for additional resources to fight back against organized retail theft, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office was not on the list of grant applicants or recipients.

“George Gascón’s failure to secure additional resources from the state to combat smash and grab robberies is just another example of his negligence and inability to lead. As criminals carry out these brazen robberies, the district attorney’s office should be utilizing every tool to put a stop to these crimes. Once again, Gascón didn’t even show up. His incompetence failed all Angelenos,” said Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Eric Siddall.

Ninth news item

When you know you’re old: you roll your eyes from exhaustion at the mere thought of participating in group hyper-self-introspection, dissection, and navel-gazing…while naked:

When I arrived for the dinner party, a naked woman holding a wine glass filled with hibiscus tea greeted me at the door. Inside I could see a group of about 15 people already in the backyard. They too were all naked…This is how my night started recently when I attended my first nude dinner. I was among the 26 people who paid $150 to experience Füde, a plant-based gathering that invites people to leave their inhibitions, self-doubt and clothing behind…Charlie Ann Max, 29, the dinner’s founder, who told us it was time to start the evening’s Füde. The name is a combination of food and nude, with an umlaut to encourage the proper pronunciation.

Max is a multidisciplinary artist, chef and former dancer who began hosting nude-optional dinners in 2020. She started practicing nudity after she stopped dancing, seeking liberation from the constraints and expectations the career put on her mind and body. She also adopted a plant-based diet, eventually creating Füde……Max, introduced Lihi Benisty, a local breathwork, movement and meditation teacher, and instructed everyone to sit on the pavement around the pool.

“And this is Maya, our safety steward,” she said, and pointed to a young woman next to her. “If you have any concerns or discomfort, we can work together.”

Benisty then introduced the theme for the evening.

“Tonight, we explore the ‘yes’ within,” she said. “What does it mean when we say yes? What does it mean when we say no?”

Have a great weekend!

–Dana

9/14/2023

Sen. Mitt Romney Bows Out

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:53 am



[guest post by Dana]

Sen. Romney has announced that he won’t be running for a second term in the Senate. In his statement, he namechecks both President Biden and Donald Trump. He also gives his answer to the ongoing question about the age of elected officials… Here is his statement in full:

You know, I enjoy my work in the Senate a good deal. The last few years have been particularly productive, as I was able to help lead and negotiate the bipartisan infrastructure law, a comprehensive China strategy process, religious liberty protections, a compromise gun safety law, the Electoral Count Act reform and emergency COVID relief funding. I was also able to help secure key Utah priorities, including funding for Hill Air Force Base and its program to modernize our nuclear deterrent, as well as funding for wildfire prevention, water infrastructure, rural broadband, removal of uranium tailings from Moab, expansion and restoration of our highway and transit infrastructure, and federal studies to save the Great Salt Lake.

I have spent my last 25 years in public service of one kind or another. At the end of another term, I’d be in my mid-eighties. Frankly, it’s time for a new generation of leaders. They’re the ones that need to make the decisions that will shape the world they will be living in.

We face critical challenges—mounting national debt, climate change, and the ambitious authoritarians of Russia and China. Neither President Biden nor former President Trump are leading their party to confront them. On the deficits and debt, both men refuse to address entitlements even though they represent two thirds of federal spending. Donald Trump calls global warming a hoax and President Biden offers feel-good solutions that will make no difference to the global climate. On China, President Biden underinvests in the military and President Trump underinvests in our alliances. Political motivations too often impede the solutions that these challenges demand. The next generation of leaders must take America to the next stage of global leadership.

While I’m not running for re-election, I’m not retiring from the fight. I’ll be your United States Senator until January 2025. I will keep working on these and other issues and I will advance our state’s numerous priorities. I look forward to working with you and with folks across our state and nation in that endeavor.

It is a profound honor to serve Utah and the nation, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to do so.

I’m dismayed that Romney has opted to bow out. And yet, it’s understandable. His presence as a Republican in the Senate brought an unparalleled gravitas, wisdom, and commitment to upholding the Constitution in a body where a vast number of fellow-party members demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice integrity for political expediency and political self-preservation.

The Atlantic has published an excerpt from a soon-to-be-released biography of Romney, written by McKay Coppins, entitled Romney: A Reckoning. It provides a look into what led to his decision to retire. While it discusses the conflicts and struggles Romney faced, as well as his insights gleaned, these particular observations stood out to me:

1.

“A very large portion of my party,” he told me one day, “really doesn’t believe in the Constitution.”

2.

Shortly after moving into his Senate office, Romney had hung a large rectangular map on the wall. First printed in 1931 by Rand McNally, the “histomap” attempted to chart the rise and fall of the world’s most powerful civilizations through 4,000 years of human history. When Romney first acquired the map, he saw it as a curiosity. After January 6, he became obsessed with it. He showed the map to visitors, brought it up in conversations and speeches. More than once, he found himself staring at it alone in his office at night. The Egyptian empire had reigned for some 900 years before it was overtaken by the Assyrians. Then the Persians, the Romans, the Mongolians, the Turks—each civilization had its turn, and eventu­ally collapsed in on itself. Maybe the falls were inevitable. But what struck Romney most about the map was how thoroughly it was dominated by tyrants of some kind—pharaohs, emperors, kaisers, kings. “A man gets some people around him and begins to oppress and dominate others,” he said the first time he showed me the map. “It’s a testosterone-related phenomenon, perhaps. I don’t know. But in the history of the world, that’s what happens.” America’s experiment in self-rule “is fighting against human nature.”

3.

Perhaps Romney’s most surprising discovery upon entering the Senate was that his disgust with Trump was not unique among his Republican colleagues. “Almost without exception,” he told me, “they shared my view of the president.” In public, of course, they played their parts as Trump loyalists, often contorting themselves rhetorically to defend the president’s most indefensible behavior. But in private, they ridiculed his ignorance, rolled their eyes at his antics, and made incisive observations about his warped, toddler­like psyche. Romney recalled one senior Republican senator frankly admitting, “He has none of the qualities you would want in a president, and all of the qualities you wouldn’t.”

This dissonance soon wore on Romney’s patience. Every time he publicly criticized Trump, it seemed, some Republican senator would smarmily sidle up to him in private and express solidarity. “I sure wish I could do what you do,” they’d say, or “Gosh, I wish I had the constituency you have,” and then they’d look at him expectantly, as if waiting for Romney to convey profound gratitude. This happened so often that he started keeping a tally; at one point, he told his staff that he’d had more than a dozen similar exchanges. He developed a go-to response for such occasions: “There are worse things than losing an election. Take it from somebody who knows.”

To regain its lost credibility as a political party, Republicans need more Mitt Romneys in the Senate and House. He is the standard-bearer and example of successfully wrestling with one’s conscience and coming out the other side with an even firmer understanding that fulfillment of one’s duty to the Constitution and doing what’s right and honorable supersedes all else.

–Dana

9/13/2023

This Week’s Sordid, Sleazy, and Gross Story [Updated]

Filed under: General — JVW @ 4:19 pm



[guest post by JVW]

UPDATE [9/14/23, 2:00 pm]

I can’t help it; this is hilarious and sums up the hyprocrisy pretty nicely (hat tip to Powerline):

—— Original Post ——
Because sordid, sleazy, and gross is right up my alley.

Maybe you’ve heard mention of the story of Susanna Gibson: wife, mom, nurse-practitioner, Democrat candidate for Virginia’s House of Burgesses (i.e., the state legislature), and — well, how do we put this delicately? — camgirl on a pornographic website where she makes and distributes sex videos featuring herself and her husband in return for cash “tips.”

I have nothing of particular value to add to this story, so I’m just going to provide a round-up of others’ reactions to it. Over at Powerline, John Hinderaker finds the Democrat media up to their old tricks:

[. . .] In its effort to help the Democrats in Virginia, the [New York] Times slides from spin to outright falsehoods. It headlines: “State House Candidate in Virginia Condemns Leak of Sex Tapes.” But there was no “leak.” Susanna Gibson performed sex acts in public, for money. The videos were posted by her, not someone else. Nor was there a “sex tape,” which carries connotations of nonconsensual posting of a private video by another party. No: Gibson did this herself, publicly, for cash. And the paper’s suggestion that the story here is Gibson’s “condemnation” of Republicans, not what she did, is risible.

Just the fact that the NYT referred to the product as sex “tapes” shows how hopeless stuck in the Clinton 90s that paper truly is. [Confession: in the second paragraph to this post I instinctively wrote “sex tapes” too, before I managed to recall that we are living in 2023 and there is pretty much zero chance that VHS comes into play at all here.] Mr. Hinderaker then suggests that Ms. Gibson and her enablers are out to lunch when they attempt to claim that GOP efforts to spotlight the unusual hobby of the Democrat candidate amount to violations of Virginia’s nebulous “revenge porn” law.

It is true that “[r]eleasing damaging information about candidates of the opposing party…is an age-old political practice.” But the Times’s characterization of “releasing damaging information” presumes that Gibson was entitled to engage in public sex for money without the fact becoming known to voters. In fact, the “release” of damaging information was done by Gibson when she uploaded her videos (there were more than a dozen) to Chaturbate, to be watched by the public. And, yes, this situation is “highly unusual.” It is unusual because most politicians do not use porn sites to engage in sex acts for money.

Writing in The Spectator, Cockburn turns his jaundiced eye to the particulars of the matter and discovers that Ms. Gibson actually violated the terms and conditions of her sex video hosting service:

In her streams, Gibson could be seen prompting her 5,770 followers for “tips” in exchange for various sexual acts with her husband, who looks like a lost, and less talented, Manning brother. Tips are paid in the form of “tokens” purchased through the site. Asking for them apparently violates Chaturbate’s house rules. “Requesting or demanding specific acts for tips may result in a ban from the Platform for all parties involved,” the site’s policy says.

Gibson is a shrewd businesswoman though and won’t often settle for a measly one or two tokens. “I need, like, more tokens before I let him do that,” she responded to a request to perform a certain act with her husband. “One token, no. More. Raising money for a good cause.” In another video, she promised that for 500 tokens she would order room service in a hotel so the delivery person could see her naked. [. . .]

There some more gross stuff about Ms. Gibson in Cockburn’s column, so if like me you appreciate the raunchy details you will find them there.

Jeffrey Blehar at NRO is disgusted by said details, but he puts on a brave face and finds a bit of humor in the whole affair, though he recognizes that there is a quite sorrowful part to the story too:

The story’s details — and I will leave you to the links in this case rather than recounting them myself — are excruciating. (The sexual ones are unworthy of specific mention; the moment at which Mrs. Gibson pauses in the midst of said acts unworthy of mention to chirp that the payments for them are going to a “good cause” are an unfortunate matter for campaign-finance lawyers to scrutinize.) I want to start by clarifying that I understand that one must put on a brave face when caught in an intolerably embarrassing situation. Though I myself have never been caught running a pornographic live-cam side hustle after having asked a party’s voters to entrust me with its nomination, I think we can all agree that it’s the sort of “rookie mistake” anyone could have made.

[. . .]

I actually find it more difficult to be funny about this story than I otherwise might, and the reason is that I’ll never understand the internal psychology of a person who engages in this sort of public exhibitionism, much less then goes out and seeks nomination for public office (Gibson’s primary was not a blowout by any means) with it not just in their past, but their active present. And, more than anything else, because — although this is obviously newsworthy — I shudder to think of the consequences for her family. There’s no punch line to end on here, just a lament about the tawdriness of our demotic era and the invisible damage done.

It was obvious as the Baby Boom generation came to power that we would inevitably at some point end up with a First Lady who had posed nude during her modeling career (as well as the wife of a British Prime Minister who had done the same thing on a much more informal level), and it’s reasonably likely that at some point we’ll have a member of Congress who posed for Playboy while in college or who was photographed streaking through the campus quad one drunken evening. Heaven knows, Italy was electing a pornographic actress to to their parliament 36 years ago, so maybe Puritan America is just decidedly behind the times. But given the social crusading left’s zeal to provide legitimacy to what they deem as “sex work,” does that really mean that we’re ready to entrust our representation to the likes of Susanna Gibson? I guess we’ll find out, and perhaps quite soon.

But spare a kind thought for the pioneering Katie Hill, would ya’?

– JVW

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