Patterico's Pontifications

1/24/2023

Only One Side Has Been “Escalating” The “Conflict” In Ukraine…And It’s Not Ukraine

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:05 pm



[guest post by Dana]

I’m annoyed by a column I read this morning titled Avoiding the Nightmare Scenario in Ukraine. (To which I must point out the obvious: the nightmare scenario in Ukraine is already happening and has been for nearly a year.) While I disagree with several things in the piece (comparing Ukraine (which borders Russia and is a democratically run state) and Afghanistan (which doesn’t border Russia and is not a democratically run state) – “My nightmare scenario is making our Ukraine experience more like our Afghanistan experience. We babysit, fund, and provide the state capacity to a corrupt government” – underestimating U.S. and NATO forces, etc.), my quibble here is with a portion of the concluding view of the Ukraine-Russia situation. The author writes:

My belief from the beginning of this war remains relatively unchanged. Russia cannot create its desired Ukraine without unsustainable sacrifices. And the U.S. and the West cannot create the Ukraine of its dreams without massive risks (straining NATO to the breaking point, or leaving the Pacific undefended). That is why both sides must avoid escalating this conflict to the point where the players become convinced it can only end with NATO’s total humiliation or a regime change in Russia.

Why is Ukraine included in this warning to avoid escalation of the conflict Putin’s war in Ukraine for any reason at all? Ukraine did not invade a sovereign nation and wage war upon it. Ukraine is not committing genocide against the Russian people in their homeland. Ukraine is not intentionally targeting civilians. Ukraine has not abducted tens of thousands of Russian children and forcibly resettled them in a place other than their homeland. Ukraine is not being led by a murderous madman. Ukraine is not escalating the war. Ukrainians are defending themselves, their homeland, their sovereignty, and their way of life against an adversary who seeks to destroy the very existence of the nation. The war ends when Russian troops voluntarily leave Ukraine with no territorial claims, or when Ukrainian forces are supplied with all of the weaponry they need and drive the Russians completely out.

But why is the West afraid of the day after Putin anyway? Consider the viewpoint of pro-democracy Russians:

The regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin is living on borrowed time. The tide of history is turning, and everything from Ukraine’s advances on the battlefield to the West’s enduring unity and resolve in the face of Putin’s aggression points to 2023 being a decisive year. If the West holds firm, Putin’s regime will likely collapse in the near future.

Yet some of Ukraine’s key partners continue to resist supplying Kyiv with the weapons it needs to deliver the knockout punch. The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden in particular seems afraid of the chaos that could accompany a decisive Kremlin defeat. It has declined to send the tanks, long-range missile systems, and drones that would allow Ukrainian forces to take the fight to their attackers, reclaim their territory, and end the war. The end of Putin’s tyrannical rule will indeed radically change Russia (and the rest of the world)—but not in the way the White House thinks. Rather than destabilizing Russia and its neighbors, a Ukrainian victory would eliminate a powerful revanchist force and boost the cause of democracy worldwide.

Putin’s effort to restore Russia’s lost empire is destined to fail. The moment is therefore ripe for a transition to democracy and a devolution of power to the regional levels. But for such a political transformation to take place, Putin must be defeated militarily in Ukraine. A decisive loss on the battlefield would pierce Putin’s aura of invincibility and expose him as the architect of a failing state, making his regime vulnerable to challenge from within.

The authors also express concerns that a number of us share:

The West, and above all the United States, is capable of providing the military and financial support to hasten the inevitable and propel Ukraine to a speedy victory. But the Biden administration still hasn’t coalesced around a clear endgame for the war, and some U.S. officials have suggested that Kyiv should consider giving up part of its territory in pursuit of peace—suggestions that are not reassuring. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has made it clear that the Ukrainian people will never accept such a deal. Any territorial concessions made to Putin will inevitably lead to another war down the road.

The West must do everything in its power to help prevent this from happening.

–Dana

1/23/2023

Verdict: Oath Keeper Members Guilty of Seditious Conspiracy

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:11 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Just a quick update:

Three members of the Oath Keepers and a fourth person associated with the far-right militia group were convicted of seditious conspiracy by a Washington, DC, jury on Monday for their role in the January 6, 2021, insurrection…The four men – Roberto Minuta, Joseph Hackett, David Moerschel and Edward Vallejo – were accused of plotting to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral college victory, a conspiracy that culminated in the attack on the US Capitol…A sentencing date was not set, but all four defendants will be placed on house arrest until they are sentenced, Judge Amit Mehta said Monday. They cannot have firearms in their house, and all four will have limitations on their phone communications and internet use…In addition to the seditious conspiracy charges, Minuta, Hackett, Moerschel and Vallejo were also found guilty of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting, as well as conspiracy to prevent a member of Congress from discharging their official duties

Today’s verdict comes after Oath Keepers founder and leader Steward Rhodes and one other individual were found guilty of seditious conspiracy (and other charges) late last year.

–Dana

1/22/2023

Constitutional Vanguard: Is ChatGPT Woke?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:44 pm



I decided to find out, and wrote about it here. I learned something other things about ChatGPT along the way. Like, it knows who I am! Um, sort of.

In other ChatGPT fails, the musician Nick Cave has decried ChatGPT’s attempt to replicate his style as “bullshit.” At Slate, Charles Seife claims that he asked ChatGPT to write his obituary and found it riddled with errors. That piece motivated me to ask ChatGPT if it knew about Patterico. I was gratified to learn that it had heard of me:

Patterico is a pseudonym used by an American blogger, attorney and former prosecutor who writes about legal issues, politics, and technology. He is known for his criticism of the mainstream media, and for his coverage of legal and political issues, including the intersection of technology and the law. He is also known for his criticism of certain political figures and some of the events that took place in the United States during the last years.

“Former” prosecutor? Does ChatGPT know something I don’t?

Turns out it’s the opposite: I know a few things ChatGPT doesn’t know. (I am left-handed.) Its knowledge of me was pretty limited, as illustrated by the fact that when I asked it whether Patterico likes Donald Trump, it replied: “I don’t have enough information to answer that question with certainty.” LOL! And when I asked it to write my obituary, it refused, telling me “I apologize, but I don’t have any information that Patterico has passed away.” Thank goodness!

Read it here. Subscribe here.

1/20/2023

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:36 am



[guest post by Dana]

Let’s go!

First news item

I was sorry to hear that legendary singer-songwriter David Crosby passed away yesterday at the age of 81 years. He, along with fellow artists Graham Nash, Stephen Stills, and Neil Young made up the iconic Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Crosby and his fellow travelers were a large part of the music collage that wallpapered my teenage years (and adult years too). He was an immensely gifted songwriter and his lyrical harmonies pierced the heart. Crosby seemed somehow eternal. He just kept going: writing, singing, performing, and making albums. You can read a full report on the turbulent life and beautiful music of David Crosby here.

Second news item

In a blow to Kyiv and despite pleading for the Unites States to do so, M1 Abrams battle tanks will not be included in the latest aid package to Ukraine:

The Biden administration has decided against sending tanks to Ukraine for now…

Sabrina Singh, the deputy Pentagon press secretary, told reporters Thursday it “doesn’t make sense” to give Ukraine the tanks at this stage.

“The maintenance and the high cost that it would take to maintain an Abrams, it just doesn’t make sense to provide that to the Ukrainians at this moment,” Singh said.

Unfortunately, this suggests that Germany will now be unwilling to send their Leopard tanks:

In recent days, German officials have indicated they won’t send their Leopard tanks to Ukraine, or allow any other country with the German-made tanks in their inventory to do so, unless the US also agrees to send its M1 Abrams tanks to Kyiv – something the Pentagon has said for months it has no intention of doing given the logistical costs of maintaining them.

“They have us over a barrel,” a senior Biden administration official told CNN Thursday, adding that the Germans are demanding tanks for tanks, and not budging on considering any other offers the US has made to spur Berlin to send the Leopards.

Perspective:

The West’s strategy of moving slowly and doling out weapons to Ukraine bit by bit is misguided because it encourages Putin’s murderous ambitions. It leads him to believe that the West is running out of resources and that he will win a protracted war. We cannot continue to self-deter and we cannot allow ourselves to be duped by a dictator.

We urge the leaders of Western countries…to stop procrastinating and end the policy of small injections of weapons. This should be replaced with a very simple approach: give the country fighting for its freedom and for the peaceful future of Europe whatever it needs to defend its people and bring this conflict to a true resolution as quickly as possible.

Related: Thank God this idiocy was rejected:

Leaders in the Oklahoma Senate pushed back on Friday against a call made by one of their colleagues to prohibit Ukrainian soldiers from training at Fort Sill.

It was announced on Jan. 9 that about 100 Ukrainian troops would be sent to Oklahoma as early as this week to begin training on the Patriot missile defense system at Fort Sill.

That drew a negative reaction from state Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, who filed a resolution to reject Ukrainian troops in Oklahoma.

“These America Last policies of the current regime should not be tolerated in Oklahoma,” Dahm said in a release. “We saw how recently the Ukrainian military fired a rocket into Poland killing two innocent civilians. We certainly don’t need them practicing here in Oklahoma where our citizens could be under the constant threat of a similar failure.”

Colleagues of Dahm in the Senate responded with forceful criticism of the proposal.

“Oklahoma has had partnerships with military forces from partner countries to train and maintain the safety and security of the United States and other allied countries for decades,” they said in a joint statement. “To cut these ties would be akin to jeopardizing our national security. The resolution that was issued does not speak for the vast majority of the Oklahoma Senate, or Oklahomans, who welcome training exercises to defend the lands we love and our neighbors in other countries.”

Third news item

Supreme Court leak update:

Eight months, 126 formal interviews and a 23-page report later, the Supreme Court said it has failed to discover who leaked a draft of the court’s opinion overturning abortion rights.

Investigators conducted 126 formal interviews of 97 employees. They looked into connections between employees and reporters, including those at Politico. They looked at call logs of personal phones. They looked at printer logs. They even did a fingerprint analysis of “an item relevant to the investigation.”

The report goes on to note that as more staff worked from home during the pandemic, security became lax and it was easy to remove documents from the building itself. Also, we don’t know from the report whether the justices or their spouses were questioned with regard to the leak.

UPDATE: According to reports published this afternoon, the justices were interviewed:

Supreme Court Marshal Gail Curley, who led the probe, said in a statement that she “spoke with each of the justices, several on multiple occasions.” The justices “actively cooperated,” Curley said, and after following up on all leads she concluded that neither the justices nor any spouses were implicated.

This:

[I]t is paradoxical that an institution that cloaks itself in secrecy and casts itself above other Washington institutions would be exposed as such a sieve.

The report expresses outright how easily confidential information could have slipped out, whether deliberately or accidentally. About 100 people had access to the draft at the outset, according to the details of the report. Many employees, the report said, “printed out more than one copy.”

Fourth news item

No wonder he’s frustrated. After all, he was expected to announce his bid for re-election right after February’s State of the Union address:

A frustrated President Joe Biden said Thursday there is “no there there” when he was persistently questioned about the discovery of classified documents and official records at his home and former office.

“We found a handful of documents were filed in the wrong place,” Biden said to reporters who questioned him during a tour of the damage from storms in California. “We immediately turned them over to the Archives and the Justice Department.”

Biden said he was “fully cooperating and looking forward to getting this resolved quickly.”

“I think you’re going to find there’s nothing there,” he said. “There’s no there there.”

Fifth news item

Green-lighting system in high school cost taxpayers untold thousands of dollars in Massachusetts:

For nearly a year and a half, a Massachusetts high school has been lit up around the clock because the district can’t turn off the roughly 7,000 lights in the sprawling building.

The lighting system was installed at Minnechaug Regional High School when it was built over a decade ago and was intended to save money and energy. But ever since the software that runs it failed on Aug. 24, 2021, the lights in the Springfield suburbs school have been on continuously, costing taxpayers a small fortune.

One of the cost-saving measures the school board insisted on was a “green lighting system” run on software installed by a company called 5th Light to control the lights in the building. The system was designed to save energy — and thus save money — by automatically adjusting the lights as needed.

But in August 2021, staffers at the school noticed that the lights were not dimming in the daytime and burning brightly through the night.

“The lighting system went into default,” said Osborne. “And the default position for the lighting system is for the lights to be on.”

Osborne said they immediately reached out to the original installer of the system only to discover that the company had changed hands several times since the high school was built. When they finally tracked down the current owner of the company, Reflex Lighting, several more weeks went by before the company was able to find somebody familiar with the high school’s lighting system, he said.

The report notes that the necessary parts to fix the problem have arrived, and that an override switch put in so that this can’t happen again.

Sixth news item

Pay up:

Former President Donald Trump and his lawyers must pay almost $1 million in sanctions after filing a “completely frivolous” lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. In a Thursday ruling, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida ordered Trump and his lead attorney, Alina Habba of Habba Madaio & Associates, to pay $937,989.39.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by Trump in March 2022. Trump’s suit accused Clinton, the Democratic Party, the Democratic National Committee, former FBI Director James Comey, and a number of others of a racketeering “plot” against him. Clinton and the others had “maliciously conspired to weave a false narrative that their Republican opponent, Donald J. Trump, was colluding with a hostile foreign sovereignty” during the 2016 election, it said.

“This case should never have been brought,” wrote Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks in yesterday’s decision. “Its inadequacy as a legal claim was evident from the start. No reasonable lawyer would have filed it. Intended for a political purpose, none of the counts of the amended complaint stated a cognizable legal claim.”

Seventh news

Donald Trump says hands off:

Former President Donald Trump warned his fellow Republicans on Friday not to “destroy” federal retirement and health benefits as they try to exact spending cuts from President Joe Biden and his Democratic allies in the looming debate over the debt ceiling.

“Under no circumstances should Republicans vote to cut a single penny from Medicare or Social Security,” Trump said in a two-minute video message posted to social media that could test his influence among Republicans who now control the U.S. House of Representatives.

Eighth news item

Actor Alec Baldwin faces involuntary manslaughter charges:

First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies and special prosecutor Andrea Reeb have announced two involuntary manslaughter charges will be filed against ‘Rust’ actor and producer Alec Baldwin and the movie’s armor Hannah Gutierrez-Reed.

In a statement issued by the district attorney, Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed will be “charged in the alternative.” That means a jury would decide not if they were just guilty, but under which definition of involuntary manslaughter they were guilty.

The first charge of involuntary manslaughter must be proved that there was underlying negligence. New Mexico state laws mark this charge of involuntary manslaughter as a fourth-degree felony with up to 18 months in jail and up to a $5,000 fine. The DA says this charge also includes a misdemeanor charge of negligent use of a firearm and could merge together.

Ninth news item

This x 100:

I don’t get why members of Congress would let the George Santos story continue. It diminishes them. It is both a daily insult to the American people and a taunt.

He is a nut but can’t be dismissed as only that. He is also wicked in that he has for decades abused all around him by waging war on reality. He has stolen, from all who had dealings with him, including voters, a sense of what is true. He has lied about every central fact of his life, purloining achievement, stature and sympathy. He then hoodwinked a congressional district on Long Island whose residents are now effectively without a functioning representative. Seeing the chance to replace a longtime Democrat with a Republican, they gave him solid backing on the assumption that surely he’d been vetted by someone. He hadn’t.

He shouldn’t be in Congress. We all know this. It’s not good enough to say they’re all con men. Even in Congress there are degrees. This one’s a pro, a menace, a total, not partial, fraud. If he has any qualifications for public office they haven’t emerged. He is a bad example for the young: Cheating works. He is an embarrassment to the old. He is an insult to the institution.

Democrats love the George Santos story—more humiliation for the Republicans. Republicans hate it—he may be a bum but he’s our bum. Neither is thinking seriously about it.

Don’t give the world more reasons to laugh at our pretensions of good governance. Don’t give America more reason to disrespect ourselves. If you have to drag George Santos off the floor, do.

Read the whole thing.

Have a great weekend.

–Dana

1/17/2023

Constitutional Vanguard: Issuing Correction to Dispatch Pundits: You Do Not, Under Any Circumstances, “Gotta Hand It To” Chip Roy

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:07 pm



I was energized while writing this newsletter. See if you can tell. In it, I take on some of the praise Chip Roy has received from pundits at my favorite site, The Dispatch. Excerpt from the portion for free subscribers:

I gotta get something off my chest. For years now, I have listened to some of my favorite pundits on my favorite site, The Dispatch, extol the alleged Sincerity and Serious Thoughtfulness of one Charles Eugene “Chip” Roy, who represents Texas’s 21st congressional district. Roy is a personal friend of Sarah Isgur, who hosts the Dispatch Live podcast and appears on (and will soon host) the excellent legal podcast Advisory Opinions. Isgur, Jonah Goldberg, and Steve Hayes have often talked up Roy and his alleged earnest nature. Even my favorite writer, Allahpundit, whom I will have to start learning to call “Nick Catoggio,” has given Roy points for sincerity, saying of Roy: “You may disdain his policies or his political style but by all accounts he means what he says.”

I beg to differ. It’s rare that I’m more cynical than Nick, but I don’t think Chip Roy is truly sincere about anything . . . other than, perhaps, staying in step with his voters. And if that’s how you define “principle,” then the United States Congress is chock-full of the most principled people on the planet Earth.

And an excerpt from the portion for paid subscribers, discussing Roy’s anger at Cheney for expressing opinions out of step with her conference, and citing the example of Mitch McConnell’s “no” vote on the second impeachment:

So why did McConnell vote no? As reporters Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns report in their excellent book This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America’s Future, McConnell explained his vote in this way: “I didn’t get to be leader by voting with five people in the conference.” That’s basically the attitude Chip Roy is taking here. You want to be principled? You want to say what you actually believe instead of falsehoods that your colleagues believe? Fine, but then you don’t get to be a leader.

OK. Maybe that’s right. But you know who immediately put himself up for the leadership position once Cheney was booted out? That’s right: one Charles Eugene “Chip” Roy. He even sent a fundraising email boasting of how he was at the vanguard of the anti-Cheney movement:

On May 12, the day that the House GOP booted Cheney from her post in leadership, Roy’s campaign sent out a fundraising email boasting that Roy “was the FIRST to call Cheney out on her anti-Trump and self-serving hysterics.”

So apparently, Roy sees himself as a guy who, as leader, would never follow Cheney’s example of purposefully stating her actual opinion to a question asked by a reporter if the answer is out of step with the views of a majority of the Republican conference.

How, exactly, does that square with Isgur’s view that “[y]ou can not like what Chip believes, but believe me when I tell you that Chip believes it. . . . If Chip thought that his constituents would vote him out of office for believing what he believed and for voting the way that he would want to vote, he will happily leave Congress”?

I submit that it does not. You cannot possibly square that circle. You can fantasize all you like about Good Chip Roy. But Pandering Chip Roy will always emerge victorious.

But it gets worse.

It’s 6,000 words and over 3,000 are free. Subscribe here to read the part about Roy’s treatment of Cheney, and find out how it got worse.

1/13/2023

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:38 am



[guest post by Dana]

Let’s go!

First news item

$500,000 bounty for freedom fighter:

Former NBA center Enes Kanter Freedom has had a bounty put out on him by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government worth up to 10 million Turkish lira, or about $500,000, for information leading to his capture.

Freedom is on the country’s 2023 most-wanted terrorists list as he has been famously outspoken regarding Turkey’s human rights abuses through Erdogan’s government. He told the New York Post that he found out about the bounty a week ago.

“Before the bounty, Turkish intelligence were after the people on the list, but now everyone is after them because they want the money,” Freedom told the Post.

Kanter Freedom said that he is considering suing the NBA, as he believes he was blackballed for speaking out against China and the genocide of the Uyghur people.

Second news item

I don’t even recognize today’s once-Party of Reagan:

Shortly before the 2022 election, now-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) issued a striking warning: Were Republicans to win control of Congress, Ukraine might not be able to count on the United States’ continued financial support.

A new CBS News/YouGov poll this week – the first to test the issue since Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke before Congress in December – is the latest to illustrate that drift. And despite Zelensky’s plea for American resolve, it shows that a slight majority of Republicans want their member of Congress to oppose further Ukraine funding, by a 52 percent to 48 percent margin.

But saying we should do less isn’t the same as saying we should do nothing. And now a significant number of Republicans say that’s their position.

What the polls have also shown – and is likely related to the declining numbers – is more pessimism among Republicans about Ukraine’s ability to win the war and more desire to make concessions to Russia in the name of ending it.

Third news item

Special counsel appointed:

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday appointed a special counsel to investigate the presence of classified documents found at President Joe Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, and at an unsecured office in Washington dating from his time as vice president.

Robert Hur, a onetime U.S. attorney appointed by former President Donald Trump, will lead the investigation and plans to begin his work soon. His appointment marks the second time in a few months that Garland has appointed a special counsel, an extraordinary fact that reflects the Justice Department’s efforts to independently conduct high-profile probes in an exceedingly heated political environment.

Both of those investigations, the earlier one involving Trump and documents recovered from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, relate to the handling of classified information…

Related: Both of these can’t be true:

…President Biden’s two responses to the discovery that he had been keeping Obama-era classified documents at his personal residence have been:

I didn’t know I had them until December 20, 2022, and I still don’t know what’s in them.

Don’t worry, because the documents were safely stored in my “locked garage.”

But both of these cannot be true — at least not deliberately so. If Biden didn’t know he had classified documents in his garage, he cannot have knowingly secured them. Which means that, if his garage was, indeed, locked, it was locked for other reasons, and thus that the classified documents that it contained were secured by dumb luck…As for “locked”? Hardly. There are videos online showing Biden’s garage door being left open, and we know that people other than Biden — including his son, Hunter, the textbook definition of a security risk — had access to the house…

Fourth news item

Trump Organization fined:

The Trump Organization was hit with $1.6 million in fines Friday when a New York judge sentenced it for running a 15-year tax fraud scheme that prosecutors said top executives at the company orchestrated out of pure greed.

Trump Corp. and Trump Payroll Corp. — both subsidiaries of the Trump Organization — were convicted last month on 17 counts, including conspiracy, criminal tax fraud and falsifying business records.

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass had urged acting Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan to fine each company the maximum allowed under the law.

“The sheer magnitude of the fraud calls for the maximum possible fine for falsifying business records and helping senior managers evade taxes as they defrauded the tax authorities. The crimes were deep, wide and long, lasting for decades,” Steinglass said. “The conduct can only be described as egregious.”

Fifth news item

There is much to agree and disagree with in this essay:

There’s been a viral story making the rounds over the past week about a truly egregious incident at Hamline University, a small liberal arts college in Minnesota. In a course on global art history, adjunct professor Erika López Prater showed an image of a 14th-century painting that depicted the prophet Muhammad. On the class syllabus, she noted that the course would include images of religious figures, including Buddha and Muhammad, and that students could reach out if they had concerns—none did. Before showing the image, she told students that she was going to show it, and gave them the option to opt out—none did.

And yet for showing the image, she was essentially let go.

The Hamline University story is a shocking one, and it deserves the outrage and attention it’s getting. But before we dig into what exactly happened, I’d like to note that it’s only one in a larger body of troubling moves to cater to the authoritarian impulses of religious tyrants—those who want to shut down the kind of intellectual inquiry, academic freedom, and general excellence that make universities what they are, in favor of kowtowing to religious fundamentalism.

I realize I sound like a crotchety old conservative here, but college classrooms should not be “safe spaces.” They can’t be safe spaces. They should be respectful spaces, and professors and students alike should treat each other with consideration, but “cause no emotional harm” is not, in fact, a value to which academic institutions should aspire, or an ideal they can ever realistically reach—especially when “this is harmful” has become an easy cudgel to use in order to get one’s way.

Sixth news item

Discovery of Biden classified docs dividing Democrats:

Biden faces weeks, if not months, of legal probing, speculation and bad headlines over his handling of the material. Not to mention the very strong likelihood of additional House GOP probes into the matter. He also found himself deprived, for the time being, of a clean-shot talking point against his archnemesis former President Donald Trump — who is facing a separate special counsel investigation into his own handling of classified materials kept at his private club and home in Florida.

But some Democrats privately concede that their coexistence gives the president’s critics a chance to denounce him as negligent, hypocritical or careless right at a time when things were moving Biden’s way.

“I think it takes the whole Trump scandal off the table,” said one Democratic Party operative, granted anonymity to speak freely about the delicate situation unfolding around the president.

“Most polls show that voters don’t give a fuck about this stuff,” they added. “But the media momentum is real.”

Elected Democrats have largely rallied behind the president, with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries telling reporters that he has “full faith and credit in President Biden” on the documents matter. Biden, Jeffries told reporters, “is doing everything to take appropriate steps and how to move forward in a responsible fashion.”

But Capitol Hill Democrats have called for briefings and more information surrounding the former vice president’s document storage. And some have started to privately worry that the ordeal will distract from their collective priorities and could begin to help validate GOP investigations they dismiss as politically motivated headaches.

Seventh news item

Iran protests go underground:

Iran’s hanging of protesters — and display of their lifeless bodies suspended from cranes — seems to have instilled enough fear to keep people off the streets after months of anti-government unrest.

The success of the crackdown on the worst political turmoil in years is likely to reinforce a view among Iran’s hardline rulers that suppression of dissent is the way to keep power.

The achievement may prove shortlived, however, according analysts and experts who spoke to Reuters. They argue the resort to deadly state violence is merely pushing dissent underground, while deepening anger felt by ordinary Iranians about the clerical establishment that has ruled them for four decades.

Executive Director at the Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Hadi Ghaemi said the establishment’s main focus was to intimidate the population into submission by any means.

“Protests have taken a different shape, but not ended. People are either in prison or they have gone underground because they are determined to find a way to keep fighting,” he said.

Eighth news item

This ought not to be:

A recently enacted income supplement for low-ranking U.S. troops, put in place primarily to alleviate food insecurity in the ranks, will help less than 1 percent of the estimated scores of thousands of hungry U.S. military families, according to Pentagon figures…Fully 24 percent of active-duty servicemembers recently experienced “low food security,” meaning they sometimes lacked quality meals, according to the latest Pentagon survey of troops in late 2020 and early 2021 — before the recent inflation surge. Of those, 10 percent periodically experienced “very low food security,” meaning they sometimes ate less at mealtime, missed meals entirely or lost weight due to inadequate food intake in the previous year.

MISCELLANEOUS

Elected officials at work…

First: The issue in Idaho’s House was women’s health how women are like cows:

Representative Jack Nelsen, who was elected to his first term in the state’s lower house in November 2022, told a meeting that he has “some definite opinions” about “the women’s health thing.” However, two days later, he said his comments were “inappropriate.”

In his introductory remarks, Nelsen told the first meeting of Idaho’s Agricultural Affairs Committee on January 10: “I’m a lifelong dairy farmer who retired, still own part of the dairy; grew up on the farm. I’ve milked a few cows, spent most of my time walking behind lines of cows, so if you want some ideas on repro and the women’s health thing, I have some definite opinions.”

Second: The issue in Missouri’s House was shoulders, or no shoulders:

Lawmakers in the Missouri House of Representatives this week adopted a stricter dress code for women as part of a new rules package, and now requires them to cover their shoulders by wearing a jacket like a blazer, cardigan or knit blazer…The amendment was passed in a voice vote and the rules package was later adopted by the GOP-controlled legislature in a 105-51 vote, but not without pushback and debate from House Democrats…“Do you know what it feels like to have a bunch of men in this room looking at your top trying to determine if it’s appropriate or not?” Democratic state Rep. Ashley Aune proclaimed from the House floor…Republicans altered their amendment to include cardigans after Democratic state Rep. Raychel Proudie criticized the impact requiring blazers could have on pregnant women.

Third: Punishing lawmakers who lie about their backgrounds:

A pair of Democratic lawmakers from New York introduced a bill that would punish candidates for lying about their background while running for office — legislation that targets their Republican colleague, Rep. George Santos (R-NY).

Reps. Dan Goldman (D-NY) and Ritchie Torres (D-NY) introduced the “Stopping Another Non Truthful Office Seeker” Act in the House on Thursday, targeting the Republican freshman as he faces widespread criticism and calls to resign after he fabricated several details of his resume. The bill would require candidates to submit additional biographical information when filing for office, and it would impose penalties for those who are caught lying about their background.

The SANTOS Act seeks to amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1972 to include a requirement that all congressional candidates submit data about their educational, employment, and military background. Any candidate who knowingly provides false information would be subject to a $100,000 fine, one year in prison, or both.

Have a great weekend!

–Dana

1/11/2023

COVID Emergency Yesterday, COVID Emergency Today, COVID Emergency Forever

Filed under: General — JVW @ 7:28 pm



[guest post by JVW]

From NRO, earlier today:

The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it will extend the existing Covid public-health emergency for another 90 days in response to the latest variant of the virus.

The announcement, which marks the twelfth time the state of emergency has been extended since it was first implemented by President Trump in 2020, preserves a suite of executive-branch powers that have been used to implement longstanding progressive policy goals, such as increases to Medicaid benefits.

You don’t have to be as cynical as I am to start to wonder if Democrats in general and progressive Democrats in particular don’t love the COVID state of emergency as it allows them great latitude to advance lefty aims such as student loan repayment pauses, increasing health benefits, changing voting rules, and a whole host of other programs, some of which are patently illegal, without having to go through that whole pesky legislative process that the totally uncool and out-of-date Constitution requires. This is evocative of that ridiculous gasbag Thomas Friedman’s musing that it would nice to have China’s system of government for a very short period so that we could enact all of the great environmental regulations that would otherwise stand no chance of passing a duly elected legislature, representative of all of the citizens and not just the bureaucrat/media/academic/entertainment consensus that runs today’s Democrat Party.

At least when a villain like Gavin Newsom holds on to emergency power he is doing so at the behest of a supine and frivolous legislative body controlled by his allies, not like the Biden Administration who appears to be working to prevent their political adversaries from carrying out their appointed tasks. I mentioned this in passing on an earlier thread at the end of last year, but the continued abuse of power by the Executive — which didn’t originate with Joe Biden’s Administration but seems to have achieved its maximum effect thanks to them — will likely lead us to articles of impeachment being filed by the House, and I for one will probably find myself supporting his removal from office.

– JVW

President Biden: More Documents Marked Classified Discovered (UPDATE ADDED)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:42 pm



[guest post by Dana]

In addition to yesterday’s news that President Biden’s lawyers turned over classified-marked documents to the National Archives after they had been discovered in a locked closet at the University of Pennsylvania, we are now learning that another batch of classified documents has been discovered:

Aides to President Joe Biden have discovered at least one additional batch of classified documents in a location separate from the Washington office he used after leaving the Obama administration, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Since November, after the discovery of documents with classified markings in his former office, Biden aides have been searching for any additional classified materials that might be in other locations he used, said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to provide details about the ongoing inquiry.

The report points out that we do not know the classification level of the documents, exactly where the additional documents were located, or when the additional documents were discovered.

Neither the White House nor the Department of Justice have commented on this new revelation.

I’ll update the post when we learn something new.

UPDATE: The White House confirms that the documents with classified markings were found in President Biden’s garage:

In a statement released on Twitter, Special Counsel to the President Richard Sauber said the documents were found during a search for documents in Biden’s two Delaware homes.

“All but one of these documents were found in storage space in the president’s Wilmington residence garage. One document consisting of one page was discovered among stored materials in an adjacent room,” Sauber said.

–Dana

Rep. George Santos Called On To Resign, He Says That’s Not Happening (UPDATE ADDED)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:55 am



[guest post by Dana]

Of course this is coming after Rep-elect George Santos voted repeatedly for Kevin McCarthy in last week’s battle to secure the House speaker position:

Nassau County Republican officials on Wednesday called on newly sworn-in Rep. George Santos, the Republican who confessed to lying about key details of his background, to resign.

“George Santos’ campaign last year was a campaign of deceit, lies and fabrication,” Nassau County GOP Chairman Joe Cairo said at a news conference with other party officials.

Cairo took aim at Santos for having “disgraced” the House and made clear that the freshman congressman is “not welcome here at Republican headquarters.”

“We do not consider him one of our Congress people,” Cairo said.

Well, maybe you should have done your due diligence in fully vetting Santos. After all, even a small local newspaper was wise to his ways well before the election.

Santos certainly doesn’t appear to be going anywhere:

Hey, Nassau County GOP, you snooze, you – and the American people – lose.

UPDATE: House Speaker McCarthy commented about the calls for the newly elected representative to resign:

Leaving the Steering meeting, McCarthy said he was standing by Santos and would not call on him to resign. He said Santos would have to face the Ethics Committee but that the New York congressman would get some committee assignment.

“I try to stick by the Constitution. The voters elected him to serve. If there is a concern and he has to go through the Ethics, we’ll let him move through that, but right now, the voters have a voice in the decision … so he will continue to serve,” McCarthy said.

“He’s gonna have to build the trust here and he’s gonna have the opportunity to try to do that. … Is there a charge against him? In America today, you are innocent until proven guilty.”

McCarthy has also said that Santos would not be be seated on any top committees but that he would be seated on one committee.

–Dana

1/10/2023

Temple Grandin: Visual Thinkers Are Getting Left Behind

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:21 pm



[guest post by Dana]

There is a lot of good stuff in this op-ed by Professor Temple Grandin (Colorado State University). Grandin, who is autistic, discusses the role of visual thinkers in society and the need to provide avenues of learning that meet the needs of the neurodivergent so that they, in turn, can meet the needs of today’s society. Much of what she says speaks to my heart on a personal level, so I’m very glad to see her write about the subject:

When I was younger, I believed that everybody thought in photo-realistic pictures the same way I did, with images clicking through my mind a little bit like PowerPoint slides or TikTok videos.

I had no idea that most people are more word-centric than I am. For many, words, not pictures, shape thought. …

I was born in the late 1940s just as the diagnosis of autism was being applied to kids like me. I had no language until age 4 and was first diagnosed as brain damaged. Today, many people would say that I’m neurodivergent — a term that encompasses not only autism but also dyslexia, A.D.H.D. and other learning problems…

Still, many aspects of our society are not set up to allow visual thinkers — which so many of us neurodivergent folks are — to thrive. In fact, many aspects of our society seem set up specifically so we will fail. Schools force students into a one-size-fits-all curriculum. The workplace relies too much on résumés and G.P.A.s to assess candidates’ worth. This must change not only because neurodivergent people, and all visual thinkers, deserve better but also because without a major shift in how we think about how we learn, American innovation will be stifled.

Today, Taiwan produces the majority of the world’s highest tech silicon chips. Much of the specialized mechanical equipment used for processing meat is made in Holland and Germany. When I visited the Steve Jobs Theater in California, pre-Covid, I discovered that the glass walls were created by an Italian company. The massive carbon fiber roof that looks like a spaceship was imported from Dubai. The reason this equipment is coming from outside the United States can be traced in part to differences in educational systems. In Italy and the Netherlands, for instance, a student at about age 14 decides whether to go the university route or the vocational route. The vocational route is not looked down on or regarded as a lesser form of intelligence. And that’s how it should be everywhere because the skill sets of visual thinkers are essential to finding real-world solutions to society’s many problems.

Anybody who thinks that we are all hardwired to see the world the same, and to learn and process information the same is blind. Parents whose children fall under the banner of neurodivergent understand the truth of what Grandin says. They have watched their loved ones struggle to adapt to a standard learning style when they are simply unable to do so. But the good news is, as Grandin points out, that the word neurodivergent is now an accepted term speaks to “a growing understanding about the different ways that brains work.” This is a positive development that will continue to benefit families but will also benefit society at large as our need for innovation increases.

You can read more about Temple Grandin here.

–Dana

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