Friday, August 12, 2022

The Payback for Mar-a-Lago Will Be Brutal

From Kim Strassel, at WSJ, "What went around Monday will come around hard for the Democrats when Republicans control the Justice Department and FBI":

Trump derangement syndrome has a curious way of scrambling coherent thought. Witness the Democratic-media complex’s blind insistence the Justice Department raid on Donald Trump’s home is just and necessary—rather than a dangerous move for their party and the republic.

In descending on Mar-a-Lago, the department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation shifted the U.S. into the category of countries whose ruling parties use government power to investigate political rivals. No attorney general has ever signed off on a raid on a former president’s home, in what could be the groundwork for criminal charges.

Yet to read the left’s media scribes, Monday’s search was a ho-hum day in crime-fighting. The Beltway press circled the wagons around Attorney General Merrick Garland and primly parroted Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s piety that “no one is above the law.” “The Mar-a-Lago Raid Proves the U.S. Isn’t a Banana Republic,” pronounced the Atlantic, clearly worried readers might conclude the opposite. It is “bedrock principle” that those who “commit crimes” “must answer for them,” it lectured.

The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake attests it’s totally standard to investigate presidents—look at Israel! The New York Times soothingly explains that prosecutors “would have carefully weighed the decision,” and that the investigation therefore must be “serious.” Roll Call produced a law professor to remind all that a judge had to sign off on a “detailed affidavit that established probable cause.” The last time we got this level of reassurance about federal law enforcement’s professionalism was at the height of the Russia-collusion hoax.

The bar has always been at its highest when the investigation involves a former president. Even more so when the former president remains a contender for the office. Mr. Garland breezed past all this history and complexity in his “equal under the law” statement Thursday, even as he expressed outrage that anyone might mistrust the department and the bureau that brought us the Steele dossier and the Carter Page wiretaps.

Democrats may be betting that adverse coverage of Mr. Trump will help them in November, or in 2024. They’d better hope so....

All this tit for tat will further undermine our institutions and polarize the nation—but such is the nature of retributive politics. Which is why the wholesale Democratic and media defense of this week’s events is so reckless. Both parties long understood that political restraint was less about civility than self-preservation. What goes around always comes around. What went around this week will come around hard.

Henry Kissinger Is Worried About 'Disequilibrium'

The man's still in the arena, at 99.

At the Wall Street Journal, "The 99-year-old former secretary of state has just published a book on leadership and sees a dangerous lack of strategic purpose in U.S. foreign policy":

At 99 years old, Henry Kissinger has just published his 19th book, “Leadership: Six Studies in World Strategy.” It is an analysis of the vision and historical achievements of an idiosyncratic pantheon of post-World War II leaders: Konrad Adenauer, Charles DeGaulle, Richard Nixon, Anwar Sadat, Lee Kuan-Yew and Margaret Thatcher.

In the 1950s, “before I was involved in politics,” Mr. Kissinger tells me in his midtown Manhattan office on a steamy day in July, “my plan was to write a book about the making of peace and the ending of peace in the 19th century, starting with the Congress of Vienna, and that turned into a book, and then I had about a third of a book written on Bismarck, and it was going to end with the outbreak of World War I.” The new book, he says, “is a kind of continuation. It’s not just a contemporary reflection.”

All six figures profiled in “Leadership,” says the former secretary of state and national security adviser, were shaped by what he calls the “second Thirty Years’ War,” the period from 1914 to 1945, and contributed to molding the world that followed it. And all combined, in Mr. Kissinger’s view, two archetypes of leadership: the farsighted pragmatism of the statesman and the visionary boldness of the prophet.

Asked if he knows of any contemporary leader who shares this combination of qualities, he says, “No. I would make the qualification that, though DeGaulle had this in him, this vision of himself, in the case of Nixon and probably Sadat, or even of Adenauer, you would not have known at an earlier stage. On the other hand, none of these people were essentially tactical people. They mastered the art of tactics, but they had a perception of purpose as they entered office.”

One never goes long in conversation with Mr. Kissinger without hearing that word—purpose—the defining quality of the prophet, along with another, equilibrium, the guiding preoccupation of the statesman. Since the 1950s, when he was a Harvard scholar writing on nuclear strategy, Mr. Kissinger has understood diplomacy as a balancing act among great powers shadowed by the potential for nuclear catastrophe. The apocalyptic potential of modern weapons technology, in his view, makes sustaining an equilibrium of hostile powers, however uneasy it might be, an overriding imperative of international relations.

“In my thinking, equilibrium has two components,” he tells me. “A kind of balance of power, with an acceptance of the legitimacy of sometimes opposing values. Because if you believe that the final outcome of your effort has to be the imposition of your values, then I think equilibrium is not possible. So one level is a sort of absolute equilibrium.” The other level, he says, is “equilibrium of conduct, meaning there are limitations to the exercise of your own capabilities and power in relation to what is needed for the overall equilibrium.” Achieving this combination takes “an almost artistic skill,” he says. “It’s not very often that statesmen have aimed at it deliberately, because power had so many possibilities of being expanded without being disastrous that countries never felt that full obligation.”

Mr. Kissinger concedes that equilibrium, while essential, can’t be a value in itself. “There can be situations where coexistence is morally impossible,” he notes. “For example, with Hitler. With Hitler it was useless to discuss equilibrium—even though I have some sympathy for Chamberlain if he was thinking that he needed to gain time for a showdown that he thought would be inevitable anyway.”

There is a hint, in “Leadership,” of Mr. Kissinger’s hope that contemporary American statesmen might absorb the lessons of their predecessors. “I think that the current period has a great trouble defining a direction,” Mr. Kissinger says. “It’s very responsive to the emotion of the moment.” Americans resist separating the idea of diplomacy from that of “personal relationships with the adversary.” They tend to view negotiations, he tells me, in missionary rather than psychological terms, seeking to convert or condemn their interlocutors rather than to penetrate their thinking.

Mr. Kissinger sees today’s world as verging on a dangerous disequilibrium. “We are at the edge of war with Russia and China on issues which we partly created, without any concept of how this is going to end or what it’s supposed to lead to,” he says. Could the U.S. manage the two adversaries by triangulating between them, as during the Nixon years? He offers no simple prescription. “You can’t just now say we’re going to split them off and turn them against each other. All you can do is not to accelerate the tensions and to create options, and for that you have to have some purpose.”

On the question of Taiwan, Mr. Kissinger worries that the U.S. and China are maneuvering toward a crisis, and he counsels steadiness on Washington’s part. “The policy that was carried out by both parties has produced and allowed the progress of Taiwan into an autonomous democratic entity and has preserved peace between China and the U.S. for 50 years,” he says. “One should be very careful, therefore, in measures that seem to change the basic structure.”

Mr. Kissinger courted controversy earlier this year by suggesting that incautious policies on the part of the U.S. and NATO may have touched off the crisis in Ukraine. He sees no choice but to take Vladimir Putin’s stated security concerns seriously and believes that it was a mistake for NATO to signal to Ukraine that it might eventually join the alliance: “I thought that Poland—all the traditional Western countries that have been part of Western history—were logical members of NATO,” he says. But Ukraine, in his view, is a collection of territories once appended to Russia, which Russians see as their own, even though “some Ukrainians” do not. Stability would be better served by its acting as a buffer between Russia and the West: “I was in favor of the full independence of Ukraine, but I thought its best role was something like Finland.”

He says, however, that the die has now been cast. After the way Russia has behaved in Ukraine, “now I consider, one way or the other, formally or not, Ukraine has to be treated in the aftermath of this as a member of NATO.” Still, he foresees a settlement that preserves Russia’s gains from its initial incursion in 2014, when it seized Crimea and portions of the Donbas region, though he does not have an answer to the question of how such a settlement would differ from the agreement that failed to stabilize the conflict 8 years ago...


Actress Anne Heche on Life Support, Not Expected to Survive (VIDEO)

At the Los Angeles Times, "Anne Heche not expected to survive after fiery Mar Vista crash that left her in coma."

And from ABC 7 Eyewitness News Los Angeles: 

Author Salman Rushdie Attacked During Speech in Chautauqua, New York: 'Multiple Stab Wounds'

Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini placed a fatwa (death warrant) on Rusdie in 1989. Obviously claims that Muslims no longer adhere to it are false. Members of the audience were screaming, "Oh my god!"

At the New York Times, "Salman Rushdie is attacked onstage in Western New York."

And, "Stabbing sends ripples of ‘shock and horror’ through the literary world":

Literary figures and public officials said that they were shocked by the news that the author Salman Rushdie had been stabbed in the neck on Friday morning while onstage to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institute in western New York.

“We cannot immediately think of any comparable incident of a public violent attack on a writer during a literary event here in the United States,” said Suzanne Nossel, the chief executive officer of the nonprofit literary organization PEN America, who noted that the motivations for the attack and Mr. Rushdie’s current condition were unknown as of Friday late morning.

Mr. Rushdie is a former president of PEN America, which advocates for writers’ freedom of expression around the world.

She said in a statement that the organization’s members were “reeling from shock and horror.”

Ms. Nossel said Mr. Rushdie had emailed her hours before the attack to ask about helping Ukrainian writers in need of safe refuge.

“Salman Rushdie has been targeted for his words for decades, but has never flinched nor faltered,” she said. “He has devoted tireless energy to assisting others who are vulnerable and menaced.”

The author Neil Gaiman wrote on Twitter that he was “shocked and distressed” about the attack...

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Is Tearing Academia Apart

From John Sailer, at UnHerd, "Ideological litmus tests are becoming the norm in America":

Ideological litmus tests are becoming the norm in American academia. Already, many universities require faculty job candidates to submit “diversity statements” — 19% of the faculty job listings in one recent survey. Now, similar requirements increasingly apply to sitting faculty members, as diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) statements and criteria have become standard components of the promotion and tenure process.

To give one example: last year, the highly-ranked Oregon Health and Science University School of Medicine released its Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism Strategic Action Plan, listing dozens of “tactics” for advancing social justice. Here is an example:

“Include a section in promotion packages where faculty members report on the ways they are contributing to improving DEI, anti-racism and social justice. Reinforce the importance of these efforts by establishing clear consequences and influences on promotion packages.”

The reference to “consequences” reads like a warning to dissenters, especially given that concepts such as “equity”, “anti-racism”, and “social justice” often simply connote adherence to progressive political views. Thanks to the ubiquity of Ibram X. Kendi’s work, many American professionals are primed to point out that anti-racism, far from merely being “not racist”, entails embracing “race conscious” policies, coupled with the belief that any disparity is by definition racism.

With official DEI requirements for promotion and tenure on the rise, Kendian “anti-racism” has come closer to a formal requirement for many in academia. In its 2022 survey of tenure practices, the American Association of University Professors found that 21.5% of the institutions it surveyed had DEI criteria in their tenure standards. For larger institutions, it was 45.6%.As diversity officers increase, so too will their preferred policies.

Unfortunately, the diversity statements can easily stamp out dissenting viewpoints. At UC Berkeley, for example, job candidates will receive a low scores on their diversity statements for “explicitly state[ing] the intention to ignore the varying backgrounds of their students and ‘treat everyone the same’”, and a high score for “Discuss[ing] diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging as core values that every faculty member should actively contribute to.” Institutions from Emory University to the Texas Tech University Department of Biological Sciences have adapted the UC rubric, proudly policing the core values of faculty.

DEI requirements for promotion and tenure often come in the form of evaluation criteria, rather than required statements. The California Community Colleges (CCC) system — the largest system of higher education in America, serving almost two million students — recently mandated that all faculty, staff, and administrator evaluations “include DEIA [diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility] competencies and criteria as a minimum standard for evaluating the performance of all employees.”

The resolution mandating these competencies employs unmistakably ideological language...

Still more. 

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Attorney General Merrick Garland Approved Decision to Seek Search Warrant for Mar-a-Lago (VIDEO)

Extremely partisan.

At WSJ, "Attorney General Merrick Garland Asks Court to Release Trump Search Warrant":

Garland says he requested the warrant be unsealed because of ‘substantial public interest’ in the matter.

WASHINGTON—The Justice Department has asked a Florida judge to unseal the warrant FBI agents used to search former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home this week, Attorney General Merrick Garland said Thursday, raising the prospect that details of the extraordinary search of the former president’s home could soon be public.

“I personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant in this matter,” Mr. Garland said in his first public remarks since Monday’s search. “The department does not take such a decision lightly.”

Mr. Garland said he filed the motion—which asks to unseal both the warrant and the receipt that lists the items seized—in light of Mr. Trump’s confirmation of the search and the “substantial public interest” in the matter.

Aides to Mr. Trump didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Mr. Trump’s lawyers will have time to respond to the Justice Department’s request, including raising any objections to the unsealing, before the judge makes a decision. Mr. Trump was given a copy of the warrant and a list of items that were taken during the search.

Monday’s search of Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and social club in Palm Beach, Fla. was a dramatic escalation of a monthslong investigation into the former president’s handling of classified information. The move, while Mr. Trump was in New York, stoked a political firestorm with Republican lawmakers demanding an explanation for the unprecedented search of a former president’s home.

Mr. Trump and his allies have criticized it as a politically motivated stunt by Justice Department officials.

“I will not stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked,” Mr. Garland said, adding that “the men and women of the FBI and the Justice Department are dedicated patriotic public servants every day.” He didn’t take questions...

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Antonia Angress, Sirens & Muses

There are some very enthusiastic plaudits for ths book. I'm looking forward to reading it.

At Amazon, Antonia Angress, Sirens & Muses: A Novel.

End of the Republic

From Robert Spencer, at Jihad Watch, "With the FBI raid on Trump’s home, America has fallen into the abyss":

When the FBI raided Donald Trump’s home on Monday, a key aspect of what made the United States of America great and free has been lost, and likely cannot be recovered. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson detested one another for years before their eventual reconciliation, but neither one used the agencies of the U.S. government to hound, persecute or discredit the other. Other bitter political opponents throughout the history of the republic have never before used the government’s own mechanisms of justice to do injustice to their foes. Joe Biden, Merrick Garland and their henchmen have brought America to a new phase of its history, and it is not likely to be one that is marked by respect for the rule of law or defense of the rights of individual citizens. Instead, we are entering an ugly age of authoritarianism, in which the brute force of the state is used to bend the people to the will of the tyrant.

Trump announced on Monday, “These are dark times for our Nation, as my beautiful home, Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents. Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before. After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate.”

The 45th president is not given to understatement, but the FBI raid on his home is much more than just unnecessary and inappropriate. It is criminal. The FBI that was heavily involved in trying to frame and destroy Trump in the Russian Collusion hoax is now trying once again to destroy him, apparently by claiming that he improperly took classified material from the White House. They never cared when Hillary Clinton misused classified material on a grand scale; what is the difference? They’re also likely trying to find something to link him more firmly to the January 6 “insurrection” that never was. The Left’s January 6 narrative has been full of holes from the beginning: Trump told the demonstrators to proceed peacefully, the people who entered the Capitol had no weapons, and no one had sketched out any kind of plan to do what the Left continues to claim that Trump was trying to do all along, overthrow the government and rule as a dictator.

But Joe Biden’s handlers are desperately afraid that Trump will return to the White House on January 20, 2025 and that things will go harder for them next time than they did during his first term. They’re afraid that a vengeful Trump will do a genuine and thorough housecleaning of the desperately corrupt and compromised Washington bureaucracy, and that many of them will, quite justly, end up out of power, and some of them will, even more justly, end up in prison. So they’ve determined to pre-emptively do the same to Trump. If they can’t actually find anything to prosecute him for (and Lord knows they’ve tried, this is the most investigated and poked and prodded and scrutinized man in American history, and still those who hate him have nothing), then at very least they hope to taint Trump so completely in the eyes of the distracted and indifferent public that they will have a fighting chance in 2024....

Many conservatives are saying that this ensures Trump’s victory in 2024. But what makes them think that this corrupt regime will allow the man whom they fear and hate above all others return to the White House? It’s clear now. They will stop at nothing.

This is no longer a republic, except of the banana variety. It may be a republic again someday, but for now, the great American experiment is over. Born July 4, 1776 in Philadelphia, died August 8, 2022, in Mar-A-Lago, at the hands of Joe Biden, Merrick Garland, and Christopher Wray.


I so love her. I miss her more than any rock star who's passed in my lifetime.

The Carpenters:

White House Files Under Scrutiny in Trump Search, Signaling Inquiry’s Depth

Yeah, let's see the files the FBI Seized. Perhaps they were ooking for evidence of criminal complicity on January 6th, no?

At the New York Times, "Questions swirl about what exactly the F.B.I. was looking for, and why":

The F.B.I.’s search of former President Donald J. Trump’s home in Florida on Monday continued to rock Washington and, more broadly, American politics, amid a swirl of questions about what led the Justice Department to take such a stunning step.

The search came after a visit this spring to Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s private club and residence in Palm Beach, Fla., by federal agents — including a Justice Department counterintelligence official — to discuss materials that the former president had improperly taken with him when he left the White House.

Mr. Trump was briefly present for that visit, as was at least one of his lawyers, according to people familiar with the situation. Those materials contained many pages of classified documents, according to a person familiar with their contents. By law, presidential materials must be preserved and sent to the National Archives when a president leaves office. It remained unclear what specific materials agents might have been seeking on Monday or why the Justice Department and the F.B.I. decided to go ahead with the search now.

Mr. Trump had delayed returning 15 boxes of material requested by officials with the National Archives for many months, doing so only in January, when the threat of action to retrieve them grew. The case was referred to the Justice Department by the archives early this year.

In carrying out the search, federal agents broke open a safe, the former president said.

The search was the latest remarkable turn in the long-running investigations into Mr. Trump’s actions before, during and after his presidency — and even as he weighs announcing another candidacy for the White House.

It came as the Justice Department has stepped up its separate inquiry into Mr. Trump’s efforts to remain in office after his defeat in the 2020 election and as he also faces an accelerating criminal inquiry in Georgia and civil actions in New York.

Mr. Trump has long cast the F.B.I. as a tool of Democrats who have been out to get him. The search set off a furious reaction among his supporters in the Republican Party and on the far right.

Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader in the House, suggested that he intended to investigate Attorney General Merrick B. Garland if Republicans took control of the chamber in November. A delegation of House Republicans was scheduled to travel to Mr. Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, N.J., for a dinner with him on Tuesday night.

Aggressive language was pervasive on the right as Monday night turned into Tuesday morning.

“This. Means. War,” the Gateway Pundit, a pro-Trump outlet, wrote in an online post that was quickly amplified by a Telegram account connected to Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s onetime political adviser.

The F.B.I. would have needed to persuade a judge that it had probable cause that a crime had been committed, and that agents might find evidence at Mar-a-Lago, to get a search warrant. Proceeding with a search on a former president’s home would almost surely have required sign-off from top officials at the bureau and at the Justice Department.

The search, however, does not mean prosecutors have determined that Mr. Trump committed a crime...


Peter Navarro, Taking Back Trump's America

At Amazon, Peter Navarro, Taking Back Trump's America: Why We Lost the White House and How We'll Win It Back.

Federal Magistrate Bruce Reinhart, Who Issued Warrant for FBI's Raid on Mar-a-Lago, Is Democratic Donor Who Represented Jeffrey Epstein After Leaving Justice Deparment in 2008

On Twitter, "BREAKING; Florida Federal Magistrate Bruce Reinhart, who approved the FBI raid on Trump's home, is also a Democratic presidential donor who previously represented several Jeff Epstein Associates after leaving the US Attorney's office in 2008."


At AoSHQ, "A Federal Judge Would Never, Ever Show Political Bias In Authorizing a Raid on a President * Except It Wasn't a Federal Judge -- It Was a Mere Magistrate * Who Was an Obama Donor * Who Was an Epstein Lawyer."

Judge Reinhart's page at the United States District Court Southern District of Florida is inaccessable: "Access denied."

A Nation in Decline': Trump Posts Video Hours After FBI Raided Mar-a-Lago

Care of Legal Insurrection, "Former President Donald Trump released a video in the style of a campaign ad on Truth Social hours after the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago."

He's running. Makes you nostalgic, even if you're sickened by January 6th (as I am). 

He's going to announce before the midterms, I'm sure of it. It's been spectulation, but now after the FBI's raid it's almost a certainty. Even GOP non-supporters are expressing their outrage over the tyannical measures the Biden administration's using to take out his main rivil for the presidency in 2024. This is what banana republics do, I must concede, as so many folks on Twitter have suggested ad nauseum.



This woman is fantastic. 

On Instagram.

Garrett M. Graff, Watergate

Garrett M. Graff, Watergate: A New History.

The FBI's Mar-a-Lago 'Raid' is About the Capitol Riot, Not the Mishandling of Classified Information

From Andrew McCarthy, at the New York Post, "This search was almost certainly about much more than classified documents":

The court-authorized search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate is another unmistakable signal that the Justice Department is trying to build a criminal case against him arising out of the Capitol riot.

Ostensibly, the search relates to a long simmering dispute between the former president and the government over Trump’s potentially illegal retention and mishandling of classified information. But don’t be deceived.

National Archives officials alerted the Justice Department months ago regarding missing records and possible classified information violations. That owes to the chaotic atmosphere in which the Trump family decamped to Florida from the White House following the Capitol riot – with impeachment proceedings and even talk of removing Trump from office under the 25th Amendment then underway.

Reportedly, about 15 boxes of records were removed from the White House and shipped to Mar-a-Lago. The National Archives subsequently explained that much of the material should have been kept in the government’s possession, pursuant to the Presidential Records Act. After extensive negotiations, Trump agreed to return some of the materials in January 2022. Upon receipt, National Archives officials advised the Justice Department that the returned materials included classified information.

If true, that raises several issues. If Trump had not declassified these materials while he was president, then his continuing possession of them in a non-secure location was probably illegal. While presidents have unilateral authority to declassify intelligence, they only maintain that authority while in office – it may not be exercised in the post-presidency. The returned documents were thus potentially evidence of crimes. In addition, since it is believed Trump did not return everything that was shipped out of the White House in those hectic days of January 2021, there was significant reason to suspect he continued to retain classified information at Mar-a-Lago.

One of the potential law violations, under Section 2071 of the federal penal code, includes in its penalty provisions that, upon conviction, a defendant “shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States.” The ongoing proceedings implicating Trump – in particular, the Justice Department’s investigation and the House January 6 committee probe – seem geared toward undermining his capacity to seek the presidency again in 2024. Obviously, then, there is speculation that DOJ may be mobilizing now in order to trigger the Section 2071 disqualification.

I doubt that. The Justice Department well knows that the qualifications for a presidential candidate are set out in the Constitution. They may not be altered by statute, precisely because the Framers did not want the executive branch to be dominated by the legislature, as would happen if Congress could disqualify incumbent or potential presidents simply by passing a law. The Constitution’s qualifications for the presidency are minimal – one must be over 35 and a natural-born citizen. Being a felon is not a disqualification, so even crimes potentially far more serious than mishandling classified information are not a bar to seeking the presidency.

Moreover, the Constitution also prescribes the basis for disqualifying a person from seeking the presidency or other federal office: conviction by the Senate on an impeachment article voted by the House. Again, what is prescribed by the Constitution may not be altered by a mere statute. To trigger disqualification, Congress would have to impeach and convict Trump; it cannot be done by criminal prosecution.

The Justice Department obviously used the potential classified information as a pretext to obtain a warrant so it could search for what it is really looking for: evidence that would tie Trump to a Capitol riot offense – either a violent crime, such as seditious conspiracy to forcibly attack a government installation (which is highly unlikely), or a non-violent crime, such as conspiracy to obstruct the January 6 joint session of Congress to count electoral votes, or conspiracy to defraud the government.

As previously explained, I believe it would foolhardy for the Biden Justice Department to indict a former president on such debatable non-violent crime charges. That is especially so when it comes to a former president who could be the 2024 Republican nominee, since such charges would fuel the perception that Democrats are using the Justice Department as a political weapon...


Mollie Hemingway, Rigged

Mollie Hemingway, Rigged: How the Media, Big Tech, and the Democrats Seized Our Elections.

Search of Trump’s Home Roils 2022 Midterms, 2024 Presidential Race

Yeah, it's big. There was virtually unanimous outrage on Twitter last night (follow scroll down here). Even some Democrats see the threat to republican democracy. 

At the Wall Street Journal, "Many Republicans denounce FBI raid on former president’s Mar-a-Lago residence as politically motivated":

WASHINGTON—The FBI search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home rallied many prominent Republicans around the former president and could shift the political course of both the midterm elections for control of Congress and the 2024 presidential race.

While many details of the FBI’s investigation remain unknown, the developments both challenge and underscore Mr. Trump’s hold on the GOP, just as he is publicly considering a third run for the White House. Many Republicans, including potential presidential rivals, denounced the search, casting it as a politically driven action by the Biden administration, while others demanded more details from the Justice Department but stopped short of criticizing its motives.

“This is a brazen weaponization of the FBI by Biden’s DOJ against his political opponent,” tweeted Rep. Steve Scalise (R., La.), a member of the GOP leadership, reflecting the stance of many House Republicans.

People familiar with the matter said the search was part of an investigation into Mr. Trump’s handling of classified information. Trump lawyer Christina Bobb, who was present during the search, said that federal agents “seized paper.”

The White House didn’t get any advance notice of the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago, an administration official said.

The Justice Department has been looking into the former president’s handling of official records and his actions around the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Monday’s search is separate from the Jan. 6 investigation, the people familiar with the probe said. Mr. Trump has denied any wrongdoing and casts the investigations as part of a long-running campaign by Democrats.

People close to Mr. Trump said the search could further motivate him to announce a run for president in 2024 before the midterm elections.

Shortly after midnight, Mr. Trump posted a campaign-style video on his TruthSocial account that teased a possible campaign. “We are a nation that has become a joke … but soon we will have greatness again.” It ends with an on-screen message: “The best is yet to come.”

Some GOP lawmakers, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) have been pushing Mr. Trump to hold off on any announcement until after the election, to not upset the party’s chances of taking back the House. While Mr. Trump remains a powerful motivator of Republican voters, he repels many swing voters, and party leaders have focused their midterms pitch on the economy and inflation. Republicans are seen as heavily favored to win back the House, while the Senate is seen as a tossup.

Polls show Mr. Trump as the top GOP candidate in a hypothetical 2024 presidential field, and he easily won a straw poll at last weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference. “We may have to do it again,” he said in a speech Saturday at the gathering.

Mr. McCarthy said late Monday that “the Department of Justice has reached an intolerable state of weaponized politicization” and pledged to investigate Attorney General Merrick Garland and the department if Republicans take power.

Democrats have defended the raid. “No person is above the law, not even a former president of the United States,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) on NBC’s “Today Show.”

House Republican leaders will have a chance to take the temperature of the conference at a previously scheduled members-only call on Tuesday that was set up to discuss the Senate-passed climate and health bill. Members of the Republican Study Committee, made up of House conservatives, are scheduled to have dinner with Mr. Trump on Tuesday night at his Bedminster, N.J., golf club.

The members-only call is shaping as a proving ground for Mr. McCarthy, who is in line for the House speakership next year if Republicans regain control. Mr. McCarthy needs to show that he can be tough on the issue to respond to the restive conservative wing of his base, a House Republican said. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R., Fla.) suggested this week on “The War Room” podcast, broadcast by Trump ally Stephen Bannon, that Mr. McCarthy shouldn’t be speaker.

A Republican takeover of the House in the November midterm elections would give them subpoena powers in 2023 and the ability to create committees and lead investigations. Many Republicans were already planning to investigate Hunter Biden, the president’s son, and said following the search of Mr. Trump’s home that they would hold hearings on the FBI’s actions as well.

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who is increasingly seen by many Republicans nationally as a potential Trump alternative, joined in the condemnation. The raid “is another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the regime’s political opponents,” he said.

While some rivals were quick to defend Mr. Trump, the developments also underscored what they see as his vulnerability as a deeply divisive figure in American politics. He drew a record number of votes for an incumbent U.S. president in 2020, but lost by about seven million votes to President Biden.

“Other Republican leaders will see him as vulnerable,” said GOP donor Dan Eberhart. “There is now blood in the water.” He said that could give added reason for potential 2024 candidates, including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Vice President Mike Pence and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, to look at the race...

Monday, August 8, 2022

William Gass, The Tunnel

This is the novel that predicted Donald Trump's America.

At Amazon, William Gass, The Tunnel.

Aubrey's Blue Athletic Outfit

Aubrey is previously here.

She takes good care of her body. Very fit looking.

Unmask Alice Cracks Open Story of Wildly Successful Literary Hoax

I have a copy of Go Ask Alice, though I've only skimmed. But I've read reviews of the new book just out, Unmask Alice: LSD, Satanic Panic, and the Imposter Behind the World's Most Notorious Diaries, and I'm eager to read it.

At Quillette, "Go Ask Beatrice: Notes on a Dishonest Decade."

"Beatrice" is Beatrice Sparks, the notorous Mormon youth counselor and inveterate hoaxer. 

Albert Woodfox, Survivor of 42 Years in Solitary Confinement, Dies at 75

Following-up, "Solitary: A Biography (National Book Award Finalist; Pulitzer Prize Finalist)."

At NYT, "His term in solitary was perhaps the longest in American history. He described how he kept his sanity, and dignity, in an acclaimed memoir":

Albert Woodfox, who spent 42 years in solitary confinement — possibly more time than any other prisoner in all of American history — yet emerged to win acclaim with a memoir that declared his spirit unbroken, died on Thursday in New Orleans. He was 75.

His lead lawyer, George Kendall, said the cause was Covid-19. Mr. Kendall added that Mr. Woodfox also had a number of pre-existing organ conditions.

Mr. Woodfox was placed in solitary confinement in 1972 after being accused of murdering Brent Miller, a 23-year-old corrections officer. A tangled legal ordeal ensued, including two convictions, both overturned, and three indictments stretching over four decades.

The case struck most commentators as problematic. No forensic evidence linked Mr. Woodfox to the crime, so the authorities’ argument depended on witnesses, who over time were discredited or proved unreliable.

“The facts of the case were on his side,” The New York Times editorial board wrote in a 2014 opinion piece about Mr. Woodfox.

But Louisiana’s attorney general, Buddy Caldwell, saw things differently. “This is the most dangerous person on the planet,” he told NPR in 2008.

Mr. Woodfox’s punishment defied imagination, not only for its monotony — he was alone 23 hours a day in a six-by-nine-foot cell — but also for its agonies and humiliations. He was gassed and beaten, he wrote in a memoir, “Solitary” (2019), in which he described how he had kept his sanity, and dignity, while locked up alone. He was strip-searched with needless, brutal frequency.

His plight first received national attention when he became known as one of the “Angola Three,” men held continuously in solitary confinement for decades at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, which is commonly called Angola, after a slave plantation that once occupied the site.

In 2005, a federal judge wrote that the length of time the men had spent in solitary confinement went “so far beyond the pale” that there seemed not to be “anything even remotely comparable in the annals of American jurisprudence.”

Mr. Woodfox would spend more than another decade in solitary before becoming, in 2016, the last of the three men to be released from prison.

His first stint at Angola came in 1965, after he was convicted of a series of minor crimes committed as a teenager. The prison was notoriously harsh, even to the point of conjuring the days of slavery. Black prisoners, like Mr. Woodfox, did field work by hand, overseen by white prison guards on horseback, shotguns across their laps. New inmates were often inducted into a regime of sexual slavery that was encouraged by guards.

Released after eight months, he was soon charged with car theft, leading to another eight months at Angola. After that, he embarked on a darker criminal career, beating and robbing people.

In 1969, Mr. Woodfox was convicted again, this time for armed robbery, and sentenced to 50 years. By then a seasoned lawbreaker, he managed to sneak a gun into the courthouse where he was being sentenced and escape. He fled to New York City, landing in Harlem.

A few months later he was incarcerated again, this time in the Tombs, the Manhattan jail, where he spent about a year and a half.

It proved to be a turning point, he wrote in his memoir. At the Tombs, he met members of the Black Panther Party, who governed his tier of cells not by force but by sharing food. They held discussions, treating people respectfully and intelligently, he wrote. They argued that racism was an institutional phenomenon, infecting police departments, banks, universities and juries.

“It was as if a light went on in a room inside me that I hadn’t known existed,” Mr. Woodfox wrote. “I had morals, principles and values I never had before.”

He added, “I would never be a criminal again.”

He was sent back to Angola in 1971 thinking himself a reformed man. But his most serious criminal conviction — for murdering the Angola corrections officer in 1972, which he denied — still lay ahead of him, and with it four decades in solitary, a term broken for only about a year and a half in the 1990s while he awaited retrial.

The other two members of the Angola Three, Robert King and Herman Wallace, were also Panthers and began their solitary confinement at Angola the same year as Mr. Woodfox. The three became friends by shouting to one another from their cells. They were “our own means of inspiration to one another,” Mr. Woodfox wrote. In his spare time, he added, “I turned my cell into a university, a hall of debate, a law school.”

He taught one inmate how to read, he said, by instructing him in how to sound out words in a dictionary. He told him to shout to him at any hour of the day or night if he could not understand something...

Albert Woodfox, Solitary

At Amazon, Albert Woodfox, Solitary: A Biography (National Book Award Finalist; Pulitzer Prize Finalist).

Despite Climate Bill, Electric Cars Will Remain Out of Reach for Many

Well, blow me down! 

At the New York Times, "Electric Cars Too Costly for Many, Even With Aid in Climate Bill ":

Battery-powered vehicles are considered essential to the fight against climate change, but most models are aimed at the affluent.

Policymakers in Washington are promoting electric vehicles as a solution to climate change. But an uncomfortable truth remains: Battery-powered cars are much too expensive for a vast majority of Americans.

Congress has begun trying to address that problem. The climate and energy package passed on Sunday by the Senate, the Inflation Reduction Act, would give buyers of used electric cars a tax credit.

But automakers have complained that the credit would apply to only a narrow slice of vehicles, at least initially, largely because of domestic sourcing requirements. And experts say broader steps are needed to make electric cars more affordable and to get enough of them on the road to put a serious dent in greenhouse gas emissions.

Policymakers in Washington are promoting electric vehicles as a solution to climate change. But an uncomfortable truth remains: Battery-powered cars are much too expensive for a vast majority of Americans.

Congress has begun trying to address that problem. The climate and energy package passed on Sunday by the Senate, the Inflation Reduction Act, would give buyers of used electric cars a tax credit.

But automakers have complained that the credit would apply to only a narrow slice of vehicles, at least initially, largely because of domestic sourcing requirements. And experts say broader steps are needed to make electric cars more affordable and to get enough of them on the road to put a serious dent in greenhouse gas emissions. High prices are caused by shortages of batteries, of raw materials like lithium, and of components like semiconductors. Strong demand for electric vehicles from affluent buyers means that carmakers have little incentive to sell cheaper models. For low- and middle-income people who don’t have their own garages or driveways, another obstacle is the lack of enough public facilities to recharge.

The bottlenecks will take years to unclog. Carmakers and suppliers of batteries and chips must build and equip new factories. Commodity suppliers have to open new mines and build refineries. Charging companies are struggling to install new stations fast enough. In the meantime, electric vehicles remain largely the province of the rich.

To some extent, the carmakers are following their usual game plan. They have always introduced new technology at a luxury price. With time, the new features and gadgets make their way into cheaper cars. But emission-free technology has an urgency that voice navigation or massaging seats did not. Transportation accounts for 27 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Battery-powered cars produce far less carbon dioxide than vehicles that run on gasoline or diesel. That’s true even accounting for the emissions from generating electricity and from manufacturing batteries, according to numerous studies.

Only a few years ago analysts were predicting that electric vehicles would soon be as cheap to buy as gasoline cars. Factoring in the savings on fuel and maintenance, going electric would be a no-brainer.

Instead, soaring prices of commodities like lithium, an essential ingredient in batteries, helped raise the average sticker price of an electric vehicle by 14 percent last year to $66,000, $20,000 more than the average for all new cars, according to Kelley Blue Book.

Demand for electric vehicles is so strong that models like the Ford Mach-E are effectively sold out, and there are long wait times for others. Tesla’s website informs buyers that they can’t expect delivery of a Model Y, with a purchase price of $66,000, until sometime between January and April 2023.

With so much demand, carmakers have little reason to target budget-minded buyers. Economy car stalwarts like Toyota and Honda are not yet selling significant numbers of all-electric models in the United States. Scarcity has been good for Ford, Mercedes and other carmakers that are selling fewer cars than before the pandemic but recording fat profits.

Automakers are “not giving any more discounts because demand is higher than the supply,” said Axel Schmidt, a senior managing director at Accenture who oversees the consulting firm’s automotive division. “The general trend currently is no one is interested in low prices.”

Advertised prices for electric vehicles tend to start at around $40,000, not including a federal tax credit of $7,500. Good luck finding an electric car at that semi-affordable price.

Ford has stopped taking orders for Lightning electric pickups, with an advertised starting price of about $40,000, because it can’t make them fast enough. Hyundai advertises that its electric Ioniq 5 starts at about $40,000. But the cheapest models available from dealers in the New York area, based on a search of the company’s website, were around $49,000 before taxes.

Tesla’s Model 3, which the company began producing in 2017, was supposed to be an electric car for average folks, with a base price of $35,000. But Tesla has since raised the price for the cheapest version to $47,000...

Shoot, $35,000's still not cheap. Some schlup from the barrio, South Central, or any urban 'hood near you ain't buying this car, or any EV, for that matter. These cars are for the leftist climate change psychos. Teslas are everywhere in Irvine. They're boring af. They all look the same. Nothing against them in principle. But if that's your status symbol gtfo. (*Eye-rol*.)

Keep reading

Friday, August 5, 2022

Elizabeth Williamson, Sandy Hook

At Amazon, Elizabeth Williamson, Sandy Hook: An American Tragedy and the Battle for Truth.

Miranda 'Let Me Down Easy'

She was seen previously here.

A fit and fine lady. 

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Dorothy B. Hughes, In a Lonely Place

An brilliant novel, first published in 1947, by Dorothy B. Hughes, In a Lonely Place.

Britain's Tavistock Scandal (VIDEO)

Douglas Murray's at the video below.

And at the New York Times (the mainstream, noncontroversial take), "England Overhauls Medical Care for Transgender Youth: The National Health Service is closing England’s sole youth gender clinic, which had been criticized for long wait times and inadequate services."

Also, at Spiked, "How ‘The Blob’ smothered the Tavistock scandal: The civil service is determined to crush any dissent against gender ideology."

And from Kathleen Stock, at UnHerd, "Why the Tavistock had to fall: Its ideological roots were rotten from the start":

For years, the seeds of the Tavistock’s downfall have been hiding in plain sight, as a picture has slowly emerged of its clinicians doling out harmful drugs to gender-confused youth as if they were sweets. At the same time, though, a more subtle clue to the clinic’s endemic dysfunction has been contained in the generic communications that followed each new crisis.

“Thoughtful” is a self-description that crops up repeatedly. In response to critical reporting from Newsnight in 2019, the clinic’s Gender Identity Development Service insisted that it was “a thoughtful and safe service”. When Keira Bell and others took their case to the High Court a year later, arguing that under-16s could not give informed consent to puberty blockers, a GIDS spokesperson replied obstinately that theirs was “a safe and thoughtful service”. And when the Care Quality Commission rated the service as “inadequate”, the Tavistock’s ensuing statement defensively began: “The first thing to say is that GIDS has a long track record of thoughtful and high quality care.”

Alongside this manic insistence on thoughtfulness, there has also been a marked tendency to engage in special pleading about the especially difficult and highly contested cultural position the service occupies. For instance, in response to the damning CQC report, CEO Paul Jenkins replied that GIDS “has found itself in the middle of a cultural and political battleground”. And to the news of the closure last week, a spokesperson commented, with the air of someone sighing heavily: “Over the last couple of years, our staff… have worked tirelessly and under intense scrutiny in a difficult climate.”

Presumably what they really mean by this is that, as is now known, for several years GIDS has been caught between the emotionally blackmailing demands of transactivist organisations such as Mermaids and GIRES, talking constantly about suicide risk and lobbying hard for yet more relaxed attitudes to medicalising children, and the criticisms of those who profoundly object to the notion of a “trans child” in the first place. Former employees such as Susan Evans have reported the historical influence of Mermaids and GIRES on managers at the service, despite their lack of formal medical expertise and the possession of clearly vested interests.

Now, you might think that it is the job of a healthcare provider — and especially one who dispenses medication to children — to try to remove itself from current furores, social trends, and pressure from political activists, and to just get on with providing evidence-based medicine according to whatever gold-standard methodology is available at the time. And you might also think that while being thoughtful is all very well in a medical provider, you don’t exactly want them to emulate Hamlet. But to apply these earthbound medical standards to GIDS is to fail to recognise some of the distinctive and converging influences on the service that have led to the unholy mess we now see.

A crucial yet underappreciated part of the story is the clinic’s strong emphasis on psychoanalysis and psychodynamic approaches to mental health. The founder of the Tavistock, Hugh Crichton-Miller, was explicitly influenced by Freud and Jung. And when Domenico Di Ceglie founded the Gender Identity Service for children in 1989, later commissioned nationally as the only English NHS provider, he too was heavily influenced by psychoanalytic methods.

In a 2018 article describing his process, Di Ceglie quotes a Jungian perspective approvingly: “the psyche speaks in metaphors, in analogies, in images, that’s its primary language, so why talk differently? We must write in a way that evokes the poetic basis of mind… it’s a sensitivity to language.” He goes on to describe some of the metaphors and images he has found useful in trying help young dysphoric patients understand their own experience: the metaphor of being “a stranger in one’s own body”, for instance, or the image of navigating between the binary of sea monsters Scylla and Charybdis from The Odyssey. Throughout Di Ceglie’s published writing, there is an emphasis on the co-creation of meaning with young patients in the absence of access to any empirical certainty about who the patient “really” is.

This intellectual focus upon the fluidity and construction of meaning, and upon the power of narrative to create more stable personalities, is also heavily present in the published work of Bernadette Wren, Head of Psychology for 25 years at what insiders tweely call the “Tavi”. By her own description, she was “deeply involved” with the GIDS team for much of that time. Alongside psychoanalysis, she adds post-structuralist philosophy to her formative influences, citing figures such as Richard Rorty and Michel Foucault as important in her thinking.

True to the relativism of these philosophers, in Wren’s intellectual vision there are no objective truths but only a series of subjective narratives. She writes: “If the idea of living in the postmodern era means anything, it is that in all our activity together we are in the business of making meaning.” She continues: “In our time, it is hard to see any knowledge or understanding as ‘mirroring’ nature, or ‘mirroring’ reality.” She concludes: “There is an implication here for our work in gender identity clinics: that we are in the business of helping actively to construct the idea and the understanding of transgender, and for this we should accept responsibility.” In other words, ordinary binary notions of truth and falsity, or of discovering what is right and wrong, are inapplicable when it comes to the treatment of gender-dysphoric youth — because there are no prior fixed facts about identity, or truth, or morality here to discover. All meaning is up for grabs.

Against this intellectual background, the Tavistock’s flannel about being a thoughtful service sheltering from the storm of our present culture wars starts to make more sense. At least historically, senior clinicians at the Tavistock have never believed there is anything but certain context-bound forms of thought, floating about in a post-modern void. They have assumed meaning is constructed, not found. They have denied that there is any certain or timeless knowledge, but only specific cultural dynamics to navigate in the here and now. Under such an approach, what else could you do but be “thoughtful”?

A recognition of ambiguity within the life of the psyche would be perfectly fine — indeed, I assume, therapeutically helpful — if all that had ever happened at GIDS was that people sat around talking to one other. But the general relativist stance of senior clinicians was made incredibly dangerous for patients by the presence of an additional factor in the therapeutic mix, nestling somewhat anomalously among Di Ceglie’s stated foundational aims for his service. Alongside commonplace psychodynamic goals such as “to ameliorate associated behavioural, emotional and relationship difficulties”, “to allow mourning processes to occur”, “to enable symbol formation and symbolic thinking” and “to sustain hope”, we also find: “to encourage exploration of the mind-body relationship by promoting close collaboration among professionals in different specialities, including paediatric endocrinology.”

I don’t know about you, but when I read this, the birds — or rather the mermaids, perhaps — stop singing...



On Twitter.

How Crazy-Ass Tom Cruise and 'Top Gun' Saved America (VIDEO)

I saw this movie. Folks are right: It's very good.

From Matt Taibbi, on Substack, "America needs to get back to meaningless fun, and "Top Gun: Maverick" delivers in colossal doses." 

How Democrats See Abortion Politics After Kansas Vote

At the New York Times, "‘Your Bedroom Is on the Ballot’: How Democrats See Abortion Politics After Kansas":

A decisive vote to defend abortion rights in deeply conservative Kansas reverberated across the midterm campaign landscape on Wednesday, galvanizing Democrats and underscoring for Republicans the risks of overreaching on one of the most emotionally charged matters in American politics.

In a state where Republicans far outnumber Democrats, Kansans delivered a clear message in the first major vote testing the potency of abortion politics since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade: Abortion opponents are going too far.

The overwhelming defeat of a measure that would have removed abortion protections from the state constitution quickly emboldened Democrats to run more assertively on abortion rights and even to reclaim some of the language long deployed by conservatives against government overreach, using it to cast abortion bans as infringing on personal freedoms. (As of Wednesday, the margin was 58.8 percent to 41.2 percent.)

“The court practically dared women in this country to go to the ballot box to restore the right to choose,” President Biden said by video Wednesday, as he signed an executive order aimed at helping Americans cross state lines for abortions. “They don’t have a clue about the power of American women.”

In interviews, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, urged Democrats to be “full-throated” in their support of abortion access, and Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, the chairman of the House Democratic campaign arm, said the Kansas vote offered a “preview of coming attractions” for Republicans. Representative Elissa Slotkin, a Michigan Democrat in a highly competitive district, issued a statement saying that abortion access “hits at the core of preserving personal freedom, and of ensuring that women, and not the government, can decide their own fate.”

Republicans said the midterm campaigns would be defined by Mr. Biden’s disastrous approval ratings and economic concerns.

Both Republicans and Democrats caution against conflating the results of an up-or-down ballot question with how Americans will vote in November, when they will be weighing a long list of issues, personalities and their views of Democratic control of Washington. “Add in candidates and a much more robust conversation about lots of other issues, this single issue isn’t going to drive the full national narrative that the Democrats are hoping for,” said David Kochel, a veteran of Republican politics in nearby Iowa. Still, Mr. Kochel acknowledged the risks of Republicans’ overstepping, as social conservatives push for abortion bans with few exceptions that polls generally show to be unpopular.

“The base of the G.O.P. is definitely ahead of where the voters are in wanting to restrict abortion,” he said. “That’s the main lesson of Kansas.”

Polls have long shown most Americans support at least some abortion rights. But abortion opponents have been far more likely to let the issue determine their vote, leading to a passion gap between the two sides of the issue. Democrats hoped the Supreme Court decision this summer erasing the constitutional right to an abortion would change that, as Republican-led states rushed to enact new restrictions, and outright bans on the procedure took hold.

The Kansas vote was the most concrete evidence yet that a broad swath of voters — including some Republicans who still support their party in November — were ready to push back. Kansans voted down the amendment in Johnson County — home to the populous, moderate suburbs outside Kansas City — rejecting the measure with about 70 percent of the vote, a sign of the power of this issue in suburban battlegrounds nationwide. But the amendment was also defeated in more conservative counties, as abortion rights support outpaced Mr. Biden’s showing in 2020 nearly everywhere.

After months of struggling with their own disengaged if not demoralized base, Democratic strategists and officials hoped the results signaled a sort of awakening. They argued that abortion rights are a powerful part of the effort to cast Republicans as extremists and turn the 2022 elections into a choice between two parties, rather than a referendum just on Democrats...

Still more.


The Dam Breaks: Key Dems Run Away From Biden '24

From Byron York, at the Washington Examiner, "You've seen the polls showing that large majorities of Democratic voters want the party to pick a new nominee for president in 2024, bypassing incumbent President Joe Biden. Now we're seeing the living embodiment of those polls as some important Democratic lawmakers distance themselves from, or outright oppose, a reelection run by the nearly 80-year-old president."

The Origins of Erika Jayne's $800K Diamond Earrings — a Mystery

 At the Los Angeles Times, "Unraveling the mystery of Erika Jayne’s $800K diamond earrings — and Tom Girardi’s finances":

Not long after they started dating, Tom Girard presented cocktail waitress and aspiring actress Erika Chahoy with a pair of $800,000 diamond earrings.

“It was the first significant gift I had given her,” Girardi recalled years later to tax authorities.

The earrings set the tone for the private-jet-and-haute-couture lifestyle the pair would enjoy as a married couple.

Now, with the demise of the Girardis’ relationship and fortune, the jewelry has become a plot point in the quest to unravel the disgraced lawyer’s finances.

The trustee overseeing the bankruptcy of Girardi’s famed firm, Girardi Keese, has moved to seize a pair of diamond stud earrings, with plans to sell them to compensate cheated clients and other creditors. Erika Girardi at first agreed to relinquish them, but last month, her attorney announced that she was switching strategies and would battle for the baubles in court.

The earrings’ current location — a safe deposit box — is one of the only certain things about them. Neither the trustee nor Erika has described them in detail. There are no confirmed pictures of the jewelry, despite the star of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” having been a red-carpet regular who was photographed by paparazzi as she conducted her life in Los Angeles.

When Times reporters attempted to trace the gems’ provenance, they found a tangled web of contradictions that pointed to a deeper mystery.

By his own account, Tom Girardi loved showering his third, much-younger wife with expensive jewelry.

The diamond earrings he gave her around the time of their 2000 wedding, when he was 60 and she was 28, were part of a collection that grew to include rings, bracelets, watches and other jewelry with a total value he once estimated at $15 million.

The earrings and other pieces came from M.M. Jewelers, a small shop tucked in a warren of similar outfits in downtown L.A.’s jewelry district. As a lawyer for the store’s owners, the Menzilcian family, acknowledged, “The relationship goes back a long way.”

Minding the store on a recent morning, Ared “Mike” Menzilcian said his father, 85, had a decades-long relationship with the lawyer, 83. Menzilcian declined to provide specific information as to the cut or clarity of the diamonds in the earrings, but he said the two stones — one for each ear — were “near flawless,” adding, “They were extremely large.”

Erika Girardi possessed the earrings until at least 2007, when she embarked on a career, bankrolled by her husband, as pop singer “Erika Jayne,” according to court records...

Also, "Tom Girardi’s epic corruption exposes the secretive world of private judges."

In Debate, Democrat Congressman Jerry Nadler Refuses to Say That Biden Should Run For President; Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney Says She Doesn't Believe He Is Running for President

At AoSHQ, "If you recall, New York Democrats had long kept these two in their own separate protected fiefdoms by aggressive gerrymandering. But when the last gerrymander -- called the "Jerrymander," for carving an geometrically obscene district for Nadler -- was tossed out by a judge, the areas these two had represented for years (the Upper West Side and Upper East Side) got merged into the same district, and they're now competing in a primary against each other."

RELATED: At London's Daily Mail, "'I want you to run... I happen to think you won't be running... you're a great President': Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney botches apology to Biden for saying he won't be on 2024 ticket in very awkward interview."

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Ryan T. Anderson and Alexandra DeSanctis, Tearing Us Apart

At Amazon, Ryan T. Anderson and Alexandra DeSanctis, Tearing Us Apart: How Abortion Harms Everything and Solves Nothing.

John Eastman Was Always Looking for Election Fraud, and Looking to Get Paid

I've met this guy, years ago at the David Horowitz retreat at the Terranea, on the Palos Verdes pennisula.

He's not as he first appears, not be a long (money) shot.

At the New York Times, "Trump Lawyer Proposed Challenging Georgia Senate Elections in Search of Fraud":

On the day of President Biden’s inauguration, John Eastman suggested looking for voting irregularities in Georgia — and asked for help being paid the $270,000 he billed the Trump campaign.

John Eastman, the conservative lawyer whose plan to block congressional certification of the 2020 election failed in spectacular fashion on Jan. 6, 2021, sent an email two weeks later arguing that pro-Trump forces should sue to keep searching for the supposed election fraud he acknowledged they had failed to find.

On Jan. 20, 2021, hours after President Biden’s inauguration, Mr. Eastman emailed Rudolph W. Giuliani, former President Donald J. Trump’s personal lawyer, proposing that they challenge the outcome of the runoff elections in Georgia for two Senate seats that had been won on Jan. 5 by Democrats.

“A lot of us have now staked our reputations on the claims of election fraud, and this would be a way to gather proof,” Mr. Eastman wrote in the previously undisclosed email, which also went to others, including a top Trump campaign adviser. “If we get proof of fraud on Jan. 5, it will likely also demonstrate the fraud on Nov. 3, thereby vindicating President Trump’s claims and serving as a strong bulwark against Senate impeachment trial.”

The email, which was reviewed by The New York Times and authenticated by people who worked on the Trump campaign at the time, is the latest evidence that even some of Mr. Trump’s most fervent supporters knew they had not proven their baseless claims of widespread voting fraud — but wanted to continue their efforts to delegitimize the outcome even after Mr. Biden had taken office.

Mr. Eastman’s message also underscored that he had not taken on the work of keeping Mr. Trump in office just out of conviction: He asked for Mr. Giuliani’s help in collecting on a $270,000 invoice he had sent the Trump campaign the previous day for his legal services.

The charges included $10,000 a day for eight days of work in January 2021, including the two days before Jan. 6 when Mr. Eastman and Mr. Trump, during meetings in the Oval Office, sought unsuccessfully to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to go along with the plan to block congressional certification of the Electoral College results on Jan. 6. (Mr. Eastman appears never to have been paid.)

A lawyer for Mr. Eastman did not respond to a request for comment...


Katie Hits Laguna Beach

Soaking up the sun, on Instagram.

Kizer Cormorant Pocket Knife

This thing's a beauty, at Amazon, Kizer Cormorant Pocket Knife, S35VN Steel Folding Knives, Green Micarta Handle EDC Knife, Ki4562E3.

Also, the old reliable, Buck Knives 119 Special Fixed Blade Hunting Knife, 6" 420HC Blade, Black Phenolic Handle with Leather Sheath.

Vin Scully, 1927-2022

I can't add anything better than what all the other heartbroken folks have said. Major League Baseball lost a monumental soul, and all of America too.

At the Los Angeles Times, "Vin Scully, forever the voice of the Dodgers, dies at 94" and "The Dodgers lost their voice when Vin Scully died. Angelenos lost a family member."

At the video segment, his last day in the announcers booth at Dodgers Stadium, October 2nd, 2016, and his comments on socialism below:

San Clemente Considers Creating 'Abortion Free Zone'

Beautiful city. Classic California beach town. I was just down there over the weekend shopping at Beach Town Books.

Didn't see any pro-aborts protesting, however. 

At the Los Angeles Times, "This Orange County city to consider banning abortions, becoming ‘sanctuary for life’."

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Lottie Loves Summer

On Instagram.

Will Bunch, After the Ivory Tower

Out today, from Will Bunch, at Amazon, After the Ivory Tower Falls: How College Broke the American Dream and Blew Up Our Politics―and How to Fix It.

Rhian Cools Off

On Twitter.

The Left's Assault on the Middle Class (VIDEO)

Here's Batya Ungar-Sargon, author of, Bad News: How Woke Media Is Undermining Democracy, for the Rising on the Hill TV: 

Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster Antitrust Case Goes to Court

Opening arguments were held yesterday. 

The attorney for Penguin Random House, Daniel Petrocelli, is a freakin' firecracker.

At the New York Times, "The trial to decide whether the publishing giant may buy Simon & Schuster is a test of the Biden administration’s push to expand antitrust enforcement."

And at Vanity Fair, "The Antitrust Showdown to Determine Simon & Schuster's Fate Is About to Begin":

Jonathan Karp is rallying the troops at S&S as its suitor, Penguin Random House, heads to trial Monday against Biden’s Justice Department. The witness list is a who’s who of publishing bosses, power agents, and authors—including Stephen King—with a $2 billion deal on the line.

On Monday, as lawyers for Penguin Random House and the Department of Justice were sharpening their sabres ahead of the antitrust duel of the summer, CEO Jonathan Karp fired off an email to his approximately 1,500 employees at Simon & Schuster, the nearly century-old publishing house that Karp has lorded over for the past two years. The fate of Simon & Schuster—whose catalog stretches from the classics of Fitzgerald and Hemingway, to the mass-market gold mines of Stephen King and Mary Higgins Clark, to the recent political blockbusters of Bob Woodward and Mary Trump—has hung in the balance since the publisher was put on the block in March 2020 by its parent company, now called Paramount Global, which arose from the tortured recombination of Viacom and CBS, whose focus on mounting an offensive in the streaming wars leaves little room to manage a comparatively antiquated book-publishing business.

Almost nine months after the sale was announced, Bertelsmann’s PRH bested Rupert Murdoch’s HarperCollins with a $2.18 billion bid for S&S, a proposed mash-up that would turn the Big Five publishers into the Big Four. However, the Champagne toasts turned out to be premature: Last November, Joe Biden’s merger-averse DOJ sued to block the deal, citing concerns that it would give the world’s largest book publisher “unprecedented control” over the industry, resulting in “lower advances for authors and ultimately fewer books and less variety for consumers,” a string of claims that PRH characterizes as ludicrous. S&S has been in limbo ever since—a discontinued operation as far as Paramount Global’s earnings releases are concerned, and yet still bereft of its suitor’s embrace.

Which brings us back to Karp’s memo, a sort of pep talk to counteract the lingering uncertainty. “As I’ve told you before, I am hopeful that Simon & Schuster will become part of Penguin Random House,” wrote Karp, a 58-year-old former reporter and theater buff who rose up to become one of the most powerful and highly regarded figures in the publishing industry. “I spent 16 years at Random House, and I know their culture is a lot like ours—wholeheartedly devoted to books and deeply committed to its employees and authors. Penguin Random House’s parent company, Bertelsmann, has been in the book business since 1835 and shares Penguin Random House’s profound commitment to improve public readership. I strongly believe that Penguin Random House will be an excellent steward of Simon & Schuster’s legacy, and that we, and our authors, will benefit greatly from becoming a part of this superb publishing company.”

The fate of S&S will soon be decided one way or another, with PRH and the DOJ gearing up to face off in court. The bench trial is set to begin Monday, adjudicated by Judge Florence Pan at the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. Three weeks have been allocated for the trial, which is slated to run from August 1 to August 19. The attorneys will then have until September 7 to submit any additional briefings to the court, and Pan is expected to rule sometime in November. The witness list is stacked with A-listers from the publishing world, including executives from S&S and PRH, as well as top literary agents and authors. Karp and Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle are both due to be called, as are King (for the government), Hachette Book Group CEO Michael Pietsch (ditto), and power agents Andrew Wylie (whose client roster includes Vanity Fair), Gail Ross, Joy Harris, and Elyse Cheney. (Those agents and a few others are notably being called by the defense.) The array of potential witnesses includes PRH honcho Andy Ward and the Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and best-selling author Charles Duhigg. “During the trial, our ability to comment on the testimony and proceedings will be limited,” Karp told his staff. “We will keep you informed of further developments when we have news that we can share.”

PRH buying S&S is a small deal in the grand scheme of things, but the merger is being closely watched insofar as it reflects the Biden administration’s push to stem corporate consolidation. It also has obvious implications for the already much-consolidated publishing space, where there’s skepticism about creating another behemoth in an industry that has been upended by Amazon. As one big shot editor told me when the lawsuit was first announced, “I don’t know anyone who would think this is a great thing to happen.” Both sides filed their pretrial briefs last Friday...

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