Patterico's Pontifications


George Washington Avoids a Self-Aggrandizing Title

Filed under: General — JVW @ 6:09 am

[guest post by JVW]

Today leaves us a mere eight years shy of the tricentennial of the birth of the Indispensable American, our first President George Washington. In the — gulp! — ten years that I have been guest blogging here I have tried to make it a tradition to mark the Great Man’s birthday by discussing one of the aspects of his life which helped shaped who are are as a country. Past entries are as follows:

2015 – George Washington’s Birthday
2016 – George Washington Quiets the Rebellion
2017 – George Washington Fears for His Country’s Future
2018 – George Washington Agrees to Serve Another Term
2019 – George Washington Goes Back to His Farm
2020 – George Washington Rallies the Troops
2021 – damn you, COVID
2022 – George Washington Takes Stock of the Senate
2023 – George Washington Goes to Church

Because this is an election year, I find myself thinking about how we Americans view our President. That, and the Roman Empire of course. I have long complained about my fellow countrymen and countrywomen’s predilection for exalting our Chief Executive and turning him into some sort of demi-God. We’ve seen this tendency from both parties, most explicitly within the past sixteen years. Part of this is the modern tendency of the President to behave like a celebrity, dominating news cycles, hobnobbing with the rich and famous, gallivanting across the country and the world in an effort to keep his name front and center. As for me, I prefer a Calvin Coolidge type, a salt-of-the-earth sort of fellow of acknowledged ability and strong character, and I lament that we no longer seem to recognize the virtue in that type, preferring instead the narcissists and popinjays with a high Q-score.

George Washington was a proud and dignified man who was born into a landholding family and who increased his own station in life by hard work and an advantageous marriage. He observed a stiff formality in his adult life, preferring a courtly bow by way of greeting rather than the more familiar handshake. Once he became the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army on July 3, 1775, he was usually formally addressed as “His Excellency, General George Washington,” a practice that according to biographer Joseph Ellis sprung from congratulatory letters addressed thusly sent to him by the Massachusetts and New York legislatures. (Colonial governors were also regularly addressed as “Your Excellency.”) Phillis Wheatley, a slave and poet, sent the General an original work of hers along with a letter wishing “your Excellency all possible success in the great cause you are so generously engaged in.” It was an apt designation for the man who carried with him the hopes of independence of his fellow colonists.

At one point, His Excellency’s insistence upon a proper title held up a British offer to allow the defeated Continental Army to escape from Brooklyn Heights to Manhattan after the Battle of Long Island in March of 1776. British General William Howe sent a letter to his American counterpart proposing lenient terms, but addressed it to “George Washington, Esq. &c. &c. &c.” His Excellency, already angry about the battlefield loss, refused to receive the letter. This was not an ego trip from the Continental General. When General Washington’s staff explained that he would not receive a letter so disrespectfully addressed, General Howe’s adjutant countered that to address his opponent in such respectful terms would lend legitimacy to to the rebellion. And so came an impasse.

But at the point where the revolution had been won and the first President set about establishing how the new Chief Executive would serve in this important role, the Great Man’s republican nature kicked in. Over in the Senate, a debate about how to address the national leader was underway. Vice-President John Adams, presiding over the upper chamber, suggested the grandiose titles “His Elective Majesty,” “His Mightiness,” and, incredibly enough, “His Highness, the President of the United States of America and the Protector of their Liberties.” Other members of Congress proposed “Your Highness” and “Your Most Benign Highness.” One Senator who at least understood the electoral process suggested “His Elected Highness.”

Then apparently one Congressman, whose name is unfortunately lost to history, read the Constitution and saw in Article 1, Section 9 that “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States,” and that was that. So instructed, Congress settled upon the title we have come to know, “the President of the United States of America.” In a further exercise in modesty, the holder of the office would come to be addressed as simply “Mr. President.”

Nowhere in the record is any indication of George Washington’s disposition in the title debate, but it seems unlikely that the figure who embodied our battle against monarchy would have desired a florid title better suited to heredity succession. The man who twice gave up power in order to return to his farm would not be likely to covet the title of “majesty” or “highness,” so I think it’s a safe bet that our first President gladly accepted the decision of Congress. In her terrific book Star-Spangled Manners, the inimitable Judith Martin, who writes as Miss Manners, explains the importance of President Washington appearing regal despite the humble title, while being forced to make it all up on the fly:

After all that work, a protocol-pooped first government turned over to the President the stylistically impossible task of appearing as both humble and exalted; a federal authority respectful of, but not subservient to, state authority; an unpretentious citizen thinking himself no better than his meanest countryman yet a figure of enormous dignity, respected, if not venerated, by all. Even the inaugural proceedings, the ceremony to raise to the country’s highest honor someone who was expected to make it clear that he wasn’t taking it too personally, was left to the President’s own design, with only the oath of office specified.

Today, long after kaisers have been displaced by chancellors and kings have given way to prime ministers, the world can look to the example of George Washington, Great Man though he was, as the model of the democratically elected leader of a republic, the first among equals. It’s another reason to remember him today and rejoice that it was he who set the course for our fledgling democracy.



Not All Women Are Equal: Women’s Organizations Everywhere, It Seems

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:24 pm

[guest post by Dana]

After her husband’s death was confirmed, Yulia Navalnaya released a video in which she addressed the Russian people. Completely shattered and yet defiant, Navalnaya bravely reassured her husband’s supporters that she “will continue to fight for the freedom of our country”:

“Vladimir Putin killed my husband…The most important thing we can do for Alexey and for ourselves is to keep fighting more desperately and more fiercely than before… We know exactly why Putin killed Alexey three days ago. We will definitely find out exactly who carried out this crime and how it was carried out. We will name names and show faces.”

Moscow claims that the accusations are “absolutely unacceptable.” Yeah. Whatever.

In the face of grief, Yulia Navalnaya shows both grace and courage. She understands her loss is also a great loss to freedom-seeking Russians. She knows that her husband was not just a Putin critic but a brave man who relentlessly mocked Putin and his cronies, and threatened them at every turn with his wit and smarts. And especially because he remained bold and brave despite their cruelty. Putin could no longer abide that. I pray that Yulia Navalnay is made of the same stern stuff as her husband. I pray that despite, or because of her grief and anger, Putin finds himself outraged by another Navalny troublemaker speaking freedom and refusing to stand down.

She certainly has her work cut out for, given that the presidential election is March 15 and her husband’s supporters are being arrested:

Arrested for leaving flowers, Navalny mourners fear worse to come. At least 366 people were detained over the weekend, leading to concern that the arrests could signal greater government repression ahead of Russia’s elections in March.

In contrast to the courageous Yulia Navalnay, the Board of INSPIRE, which sponsors a Women’s Day event in Canada , demonstrated anything but courage. To the contrary:

Leah Goldstein seemed like a natural fit to be the keynote speaker at an International Women’s Day event in Ontario, Canada, next month. A Canadian cyclist, she made history as the first woman to win a grueling 3,000-mile bike race across the United States. But in January, five months after accepting the invitation, Goldstein was told she was no longer invited to speak.

Can you guess why she was disinvited? Sure you can:

The cause, the event organizers said, was “a small but growing and extremely vocal group” that took issue with Goldstein’s service three decades ago in the Israeli army.

“Our focus at INSPIRE has been and will always be to create safe spaces to honour, share, and celebrate the remarkable stories of women and non-binary individuals,” the women’s empowerment group said in a statement. “In recognition of the current situation and the sensitivity of the conflict in the Middle East, the Board of INSPIRE will be changing our keynote speaker.”

Oh, bullshit. Quite clearly they are not about honoring, sharing, and celebrating the remarkable stories of women. Only certain women… What a disgrace. To show such disrespect to an invited keynote speaker because she served in the military is an Israeli Jew is enraging. But sadly, unsurprising.

On her website, Goldstein a posted about incident:

It has taken me a while to wrap my head around your decision to remove me as INSPIRE’s International Women’s Day “Inspire Inclusion” Keynote Speaker. I was hurt. I was angry. But most of all I was heartbroken.

I’ve been a speaker for nearly 10 years and have told my story in front of real estate agents, business managers, garbage collectors, CEOs, motorbike dealers, government agencies and many diverse women’s groups. Not once has someone (to my face, to the organizers, nor anonymously) ever claimed to have been offended by my presentation. Not once.

I must assume you hired me because I speak about overcoming sexism and failures. Correct? I speak to inspire and motivate. I speak about obstacles, and how to overcome them. I speak about bravery and growth and standing up for one another.

I don’t believe you hired me because I was a soldier and a cop. While these jobs are part of my story (and I’m very grateful to have had these experiences), they do not define me as a human being. As a Jewish woman, I would never be offended if a Palestinian woman were to speak about her obstacles and life journey. I thought that’s what women were supposed to do for each other – listen and support!

Instead, it seems you have chosen to give in to threats and hate – and this is the saddest part. You removed me and made a statement to your audience, without even giving me a chance to make my own. Why wasn’t I contacted personally? Don’t you think I at least deserved that tiny shred of dignity?

I will not pursue legal action, although I have been advised to do so. That’s not who I am. Right now, I am sad. I’m mad. And I am so disappointed. For now, I can only live in hope. I hope for peace. I hope that humans can learn to treat each other with respect and love. And I hope the future includes brave women who understand the fragile thread holding all of us together.

A smart and direct response from a classy woman. Shame on the women’s group for knuckling under to the outraged few. I hope the whiny-ass babies on the Board at INSPIRE find their missing spine. Are they afraid Goldstein will bite? Do they think she’ll attack them? Or are they just afraid of the worst possible thing they can imagine happening: Goldstein standing at the podium, sharing her life story, and graciously encouraging and lifting up women of all stripes – while being an Israeli Jew?


Beware Conventional Wisdom, Bragg Indictment Edition

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:16 am

As a longtime critic of Big Media, I am always on the alert for “tells” that suggest Big Media might be getting something wrong. One “tell” that crops up again and again is herd mentality. When literally everywhere you turn, from newspapers to cable news networks to online publications, everyone mindlessly repeats the same Conventional Wisdom . . . be careful. It doesn’t mean they’re wrong. Often they’re right. But it’s a sign that you need to carefully analyze the claim that is being mindlessly repeated. Especially when there is no real analysis of the contrary viewpoint — just an impatient dismissal of it without any attempt to analyze the facts.

Take the lab leak theory, for example. We still don’t know what caused the COVID virus to emerge, but for a while there, the Conventional Wisdom was that it was ridiculous to think it came from a lab. Big Media types never gave you a real analysis of the theory. They just impatiently dismissed it.

I think the same thing is happening with the Bragg indictment. This is not going to be a long post about the Bragg indictment. I have already written my detailed thoughts about why I, seemingly almost alone amongst legal commentators, think that the case might be solid, depending on the quality of the evidence.

My point here is, with the case seemingly first on the criminal docket for Donald Trump, you are increasingly hearing the Conventional Wisdom that the case is political garbage. Literally everywhere you turn, you will hear people shrug it off as an unimportant case. And everyone they know thinks the same thing. And nobody questions it.

It is less important than the other three, I agree. But I think it’s important.

Rather than reprise my previous screeds, which you can revisit in the links above if you like, I will simply cite a line from the judge’s recent opinion denying Donald Trump’s motions to dismiss the case. The line comes within a detailed discussion of a multi-factor test analyzing the issue of pre-indictment delay, so it could be easy to overlook. But the judge who wrote the opinion has a greater familiarity with the nature of this case than most people repeating the Conventional Wisdom about the case. And here is what the judge says:

[W]hile it is true that the charges involve the lowest level felony and no one suffered physical harm, it can hardly be said that the allegations are not severe. The People claim that the Defendant paid an individual $130,000 to conceal a sexual encounter in an effort to influence the 2016 Presidential election and then falsified 34 business records to cover up the payoff. In this Court’s view, those are serious allegations.

That’s true in my view as well.

I still don’t know what evidence Bragg has. His prosecutors might come up short. That is a real possibility.

But it is also a real possibility that about a month from now, the Conventional Wisdom will start to turn. And that people will realize: hey, this actually is a serious case after all.

In case that happens . . . you heard it here first.


Compare and Contrast: Trump on Navalny, Haley responds

Filed under: General — Dana @ 4:34 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Days after Alexei Navalny’s death was announced, Donald Trump posted about it. Well, after a fashion… Typical of Trump, he not only neglected to mention the despicable individual responsible for killing Navalny (President Vladimir Putin, whom Trump just happens to admire), but made it all about himself instead:

“The sudden death of Alexei Navalny has made me more and more aware of what is happening in our Country,” he wrote. “It is a slow, steady progression, with CROOKED, Radical Left Politicians, Prosecutors, and Judges leading us down a path to destruction. Open Borders, Rigged Elections, and Grossly Unfair Courtroom Decisions are DESTROYING AMERICA. WE ARE A NATION IN DECLINE, A FAILING NATION! MAGA2024.”

Trump’s challenger, the still-trailing Nikki Haley commented on the self-serving statement made by Trump:

“This is on the heels of Trump saying that he would encourage Putin to invade any NATO countries that didn’t pull their weight – And now the only comment he’s going to make about Navalny is not hitting Putin for murdering him, not praising Navalny for fighting the corruption that was happening in Russia. But instead he’s going to compare himself to Navalny and the victim that he is in his court cases?” she said.

While this is but one moment during the campaign, it speaks volumes about Trump and Haley, and how they view Navalny, Putin, Russia, and the sacrifice the Putin critic made for the people of Russia. So knowing that, how can Republicans choose Trump over Haley if they are truly voting for the most intelligent, clear-headed, knowledgeable, and frankly, normal candidate? One candidate who only cares about himself and can make even the most momentous, world-impacting event about himself versus the candidate who sees with clarity the evil that is Putin, the heroics of Navalny, and the obsessive victimhood of a narcissistic man-child. How hard can this be?

There’s so much more that can be said about Trump’s despicable victimhood, but we already know what he’s made of. Republican voters have an opportunity to excise the Party of this insanity. Let’s see if they do. If not, then yet again, the problem continues to be the voters.

Update: Trump spoke to Laura Ingram of Fox News today:

“Navalny is a very sad situation and he’s very brave, he was a very brave guy,” Trump said in response to a question from Fox News Channel’s Laura Ingraham. “He went back, he could have stayed away, and frankly probably would have been a lot better off staying away and talking from outside of the country as opposed to having to go back in, because people thought that could happen, and it did happen.

“And it’s a horrible thing, but it’s happening in our country, too,” Trump continued, suggesting his criminal indictments — which include two cases stemming from his efforts to overturn his 2020 defeat — are proof that the U.S. is “turning into a communist country in many ways.”

“I got indicted four times … all because of the fact that I’m in politics,” Trump said. “They indicted me on things that are so ridiculous.”

“It is a form of Navalny,” Trump said. “It is a form of communism, of fascism.”

Trump and Navalny, two persecuted peas in a pod, according to Trump. SMDH!!



Putin Wants You to Know He Murdered Navalny

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 4:39 pm

For several years I was the target of people who harassed me and my family. They disguised their identity, but they did so very, very thinly. They dropped all kinds of clues that they were the ones doing the harassment. They didn’t leave anything clear enough to stand up in court. But they came close.

You see, they wanted me to know it was them.

Vladimir Putin wants you to know he is the one who had Alexei Navalny murdered.

How do we know this? Because he chose a day for the murder that was one day after Navalny appeared in court via video — apparently healthy and in good spirits, even joking around.

Watch the video. He was a bad-ass to the end.

Vladimir Putin needs to swing from the nearest lamp post.

And every Republican who does not vote to support Ukraine needs to be shown the door.

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:44 am

[guest post by Dana]

Let’s go!

First news item

I believe that Putin essentially killed Navalny because he remained a serious threat (even in his weakened physical state) to the Kremlin’s iron grip over the populace. Even during his imprisonment, Navalny’s vocal opposition to Putin, criticism of the state, and his bruising humor while under the most severe circumstances could no longer be permitted. Thanks to Navalny’s courage, there can be no denying the evil that is Putin. He had to go. But Navalny’s legacy is firmly in place. There will be no erasing of his memory:

Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service said in a statement that Mr. Navalny, 47, had lost consciousness and died after taking a walk on Friday in the Arctic prison where he was moved late last year. “All necessary resuscitation measures were taken, which did not lead to positive results,” the statement said.

Navalny’s wife speaks:

Yulia Navalnaya just shocked the Munich Security Conference by taking the stage to make a statement denouncing Putin and his government. “We cannot believe Putin and his government. They are lying constantly. But if it’s true, I would like Putin and all his staff, everybody around him, his government, his friends, I want them to know that they will be punished for what they have done with our country, with my family and with my husband. They will be brought to justice and this day will come soon.”

One must also wonder how nervous the Kremlin is, given Navalny’s death right before an election…

Second news item

On Tucker Carlson’s ridiculous interview with Putin and subsequent praise of Moscow and Putin:

In a healthy democracy, if we still were one, such a double stunt—granting a sycophantic interview to a supervillain and then trashing the United States and praising Russia while onstage in Dubai—would be greeted with condemnation, shame, or both. But we don’t appear to live in that country right now.

This is to our shame. It’s still shocking to see Americans’ embrace of Putin and Russia.


If you’re going to worship a dictator, you must then worship the dictatorship. MAGA adoration of autocrats like Orbán and dictators like Putin may begin with “we need a strongman in America” but it logically progresses to advocating advocating for despotism.

Tucker is a propagandist, and the comparisons to Western leftists from Duranty to Bernie to Michael Moore visiting the USSR & Cuba in gullible awe are fine. But this is a concrete campaign on behalf of Putin’s murderous dictatorship, not credulous ideology…

It’s a war. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is the front line, but it extends to every aspect of the free world vs authoritarians. Trump & the GOP have picked a side. Propagandists like Tucker & Musk have picked a side. It is not the side of America or freedom, and they know it.

The depravity of an American pretending to envy life in Putin’s collapsing gulag state, & the history of such spectacles, has been covered. I will simply ask how many educated people move to Putin’s Russia vs how many leave?

Third news item

House impeachment:

The GOP-led House impeached Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on a second attempt after the resolution failed last week. He is the first Cabinet secretary to be impeached in nearly 150 years. The vote tally was 214 to 213 with three Republicans siding with Democrats.

The three Republicans voting with Democrats were Ken Buck of Colorado, Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, and Tom McClintock of California.

Fourth news item

The U.N. disgraces itself… once again:

Griffith tried to do some damage control:

Just to clarify: Hamas is not on the list of groups designated as terrorist organizations by the United Nations Security Council.

This doesn’t make their acts of terror on 7 October any less horrific and reprehensible, as I’ve been saying all along.

Of course, this only begs the question: Why on earth hasn’t the U.N. designated Hamas a terrorist group?

Fifth news item

Democrats are likely to oppose it because it doesn’t provide aid to Palestinians, and Marjorie Taylor Greene has said she would lead the move to oust Speaker Johnson if he brings any bill to the floor providing aid to Ukraine. So much for bipartisanship:

A bipartisan group of House members on Friday rolled out a $66 billion national security package that would provide aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

The 30-page “Defending Borders, Defending Democracies Act” would automatically reject migrants who legally or illegally cross the border without proper paperwork for one year —restricting asylum, but with humanitarian exceptions.

The bill also blocks the use of federal funds to transfer migrants between detention centers or other locations unless it is for adjudicating their immigration case.

It would also implement a Trump-era policy that required migrants and asylum seekers be turned back to Mexico to await their court hearings. The policy requires cooperation from the Mexican government and cannot simply be enforced from the U.S. side.

By the numbers: The bill includes $47.7 billion in aid to Ukraine, $10.4 billion for Israel and $4.9 billion for U.S. allies in the Indo-Pacific to combat China.

Sixth news item

As if flying isn’t stressful enough:

Unhappiness with air travel took a new turn when maggots rained down on passengers on a Delta flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, Michigan, on Tuesday.

A passenger reportedly brought rotten fish on to the plane in a carry-on bag, and placed it in an overhead bin, before the maggots broke free and rained on to passengers seated below,

This individual should be banned from ever flying again!

Seventh news item

Checking in on today’s Republican Party, and I see that CPAC 2024 lists failed Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy as a featured speaker at the Ronald Reagan dinner.

Eighth news item

While awaiting Judge Engoron’s decision in Trump’s $370 million civil fraud case, the former president is opting out in another issue:

Former President Trump and his legal team have decided against appealing a court’s decision that found he is not immune from civil lawsuits that blame him for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, after they previously signaled he would file an appeal.

Trump’s decision to not take his broader immunity claim to the Supreme Court means lawsuits seeking to hold him accountable for his role on Jan. 6 can move forward.

Have a good weekend.


Report: Navalny Dead

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 4:04 am

Murdered by Putin.

I am heartsick.

I bet Tucker Carlson is happy, that nasty sinister turncoat.

Evil must be defeated.

The GOP won’t help. Therefore the GOP must be defeated.


Another nail in the coffin

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:00 pm

[guest post by Dana]

That was then:

When [Trump] was asked in May if he was ready to admit that he had lost the election, the first words out of his mouth centered on the film’s [2000 Mules] claims.

“If you look at True the Vote,” he said, “they found millions of votes on camera, on government cameras, where they were stuffing ballot boxes.”

This is now:

Texas-based True the Vote filed complaints with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in 2021, including one in which it said it had obtained “a detailed account of coordinated efforts to collect and deposit ballots in drop boxes across metro Atlanta” during the November 2020 election and a January 2021 runoff.

A Fulton County Superior Court judge in Atlanta signed an order last year requiring True the Vote to provide evidence it had collected, including the names of people who were sources of information, to state elections officials who were frustrated by the group’s refusal to share evidence with investigators.

In their written response, attorneys for True the Vote said the group had no names or other documentary evidence to share.

Raffensperger’s office responds:

“Once again, True the Vote has proven itself untrustworthy and unable to provide a shred of evidence for a single one of their fairy-tale allegations,” said Mike Hassinger, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office. “Like all the lies about Georgia’s 2020 election, their fabricated claims of ballot harvesting have been repeatedly debunked.”



Another look at Trump’s Republican Party

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:31 pm

[guest post by Dana]

The current leader of the Republican Party makes no bones about it: a fellow election denier should fill Ronna McDaniel’s soon-to-be vacancy:

In pushing Michael Whatley as the next leader of the Republican National Committee, Donald Trump zeroed in on the North Carolina GOP chairman’s dedication to “election integrity,” baselessly suggesting he would ensure the 2024 race “can’t be stolen.”

SMDH. Every time Trump uses the word “integrity,” my eyeballs threaten to get stuck at the back of my head from such aggressive eye-rolling…

Whatley has faced criticism from some of his fellow Republicans, who believe that he “manufactured” his win as state party head. Of course there is irony:

“The next chair of the Republican Party is running on election integrity. His own election was called into question…” said Anderson Clayton, chairwoman of the North Carolina Democratic Party.

Anyway, this is yet another indicator of the direction Trump is taking the party. Oh, and let’s not forget that his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, is the person he would like to see as the RNC co-chair. She’s made it clear what her priority will be:

“Every single penny will go to the No. 1 and the only job of the RNC – that is electing Donald J. Trump as president of the United States and saving this country,” she added.

P.S. By the way, a real concern about Trump taking over the RNC (and Lara Trump’s possible involvement), is that the committee may end up paying Trump’s ongoing legal fees.



Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:59 am

[guest post by Dana]

The disarray of the Republican Party (see: House Republicans) was on full display this week. It’s a full Weekend Open Thread by itself! But there are certainly other important things going on than a constipated political party’s elected officials in action, so let’s go!

First news item

Special Counsel pushes back on Judge Cannon in Mar a Lago case:

Special counsel Jack Smith is asking Judge Aileen Cannon to reconsider a ruling that would allow former President Trump’s legal team to publicly disclose witness identities and their testimony to the court docket.… Trump’s team has sought to attach evidence given to them during the discovery process in other court filings set to be publicly posted in connection with the Mar-a-Lago documents case… The Justice Department argued late Thursday that Cannon erred in her legal rationale for allowing them to do so.

“That discovery material, if publicly docketed in unredacted form as the Court has ordered, would disclose the identities of numerous potential witnesses, along with the substance of the statements they made to the FBI or the grand jury, exposing them to significant and immediate risks of threats, intimidation, and harassment,” prosecutors wrote in the 22-page filing.

Second news item

The most useful idiot:

For instance, he allowed Putin to claim that the 2014 Maidan protests, in which Ukrainians took to the streets to demand freedom from Russian control, were a CIA plot. There’s no evidence of this.

He also allowed Putin to claim, unchallenged, that Russia sought peace with Ukraine before launching the 2022 invasion. There’s no evidence of this, with Russia illegally seizing swaths of Ukraine in 2014 and stoking conflict in the east of the country.

Putin was also able to claim, unchallenged, that the invasion was a bid to “de-Nazify” the country and not the campaign of revanchist conquest it is in reality.

Putin was given a two-hour platform to further undermine Republican support for Ukraine and offer an alternative version of history in which the US and NATO were the true aggressors.

Third news item

The special counsel exonerated President Biden in classified documents matter, in part because President Biden is viewed as “a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.” President Biden was not amused. And the White House was determined to do damage control, and scheduled a press conference last night. press conference last night:

Once there, he praised the special counsel for deciding not to charge him and nearly came to tears while chiding him for including the anecdote about Biden’s memory of his son’s death.

“How in the hell dare he raise that?” asked Biden through gritted teeth. “I don’t need anyone to remind me when he passed away.”

He snapped at Fox News’ Peter Doocy, offering a half-constructed crack about how “my memory is so bad I let you [Doocy] speak.”

He lashed out at another reporter who observed that “the American people have been watching and they have expressed concerns about your age.”

“That is your judgment! That is your judgment! That is not the judgment of the press!” he shouted, seemingly forgetting that he was engaging with a member of the press.

The RNC Research group described President Biden as “angry and incoherent” during the presser. I watched this several times and am still waiting for an angry and incoherent Biden:

Yea, President Biden did mix up Mexico and Egypt… and has confused other leaders in recent appearances.

Fourth news item

Conflict on how to proceed abounds:

Chants of “Now! Now! Now!” ring out at nearly every protest in Israel imploring the government to do everything possible to win the immediate release of dozens of hostages held by Hamas.

But a small group of hostages’ families is pushing a different message: Let the army first finish the job of defeating the militant group, even if that delays the return of their loved ones.

These families argue that the price to be paid in any hostage deal — the release of large numbers of Palestinian militants held by Israel — would endanger the country in the future.


During a meeting between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Wednesday, the American diplomat was shown photos of a giant tunnel that was exposed in recent days underneath the central headquarters of UNRWA in the Gaza Strip. The meeting was attended by senior officials from both sides.

The Israeli leader showed Blinken proof of the misuse of the UNRWA headquarters’ underground premises for apparent terrorist tunneling purposes.

Two questions: Why would anyone trust a Hamas hostage deal, and why is no one in the West marching and protesting Hamas?

Fifth news item

Belgium, because they hold the “biggest chunk of Russia’s frozen assets”.

Belgium’s government is shopping around an avant-garde solution to Ukraine’s money problems, now that further direct aid to the country seems all but dead in the U.S. Congress.

In broad strokes, the plan would entail Ukraine raising new debt from private-sector lenders, using Russian central bank assets (frozen by Western sanctions) as collateral, as the FT first reported.

Sixth news item


Former President Donald Trump and his allies are pushing to replace the chair of the Republican National Committee with North Carolina’s party leader who promoted 2020 presidential election lies and supported using the courts to overturn the results.

Michael Whatley, the chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, shared false claims that Republican observers were prevented from accessing polling locations and repeatedly said Democratic cities in swing states were engaged in “massive fraud,” a CNN KFile review of Whatley’s comments following the election found.

Still no question about who’s s running the table over there…

Have a great weekend.


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