Sunday, September 17, 2023

Top Democrats' Bullishness on Biden 2024 Collides With Voters' Worries

At the New York Times, "Party leaders have rallied behind the president’s re-election bid, but as one top Democratic strategist put it, “The voters don’t want this, and that’s in poll after poll after poll":

As President Biden shifts his re-election campaign into higher gear, the strength of his candidacy is being tested by a striking divide between Democratic leaders, who are overwhelmingly unified behind his bid, and rank-and-file voters in the party who harbor persistent doubts about whether he is their best option.

From the highest levels of the party on down, Democratic politicians and party officials have long dismissed the idea that Mr. Biden should have any credible primary challenger. Yet despite their efforts — and the president’s lack of a serious opponent within his party — they have been unable to dispel Democratic concerns about him that center largely on his age and vitality.

The discord between the party’s elite and its voters leaves Democrats confronting a level of disunity over a president running for re-election not seen for decades.

Interviews with more than a dozen strategists, elected officials and voters this past week, conversations with Democrats since Mr. Biden’s campaign began in April, and months of public polling data show that this disconnect has emerged as a defining obstacle for his candidacy, worrying Democrats from liberal enclaves to swing states to the halls of power in Washington.

Mr. Biden’s campaign and his allies argue that much of the intraparty dissent will fade away next year, once the election becomes a clear choice between the president and former President Donald J. Trump, the dominant leader in the Republican primary field.

But their assurances have not tamped down worries about Mr. Biden from some top Democratic strategists and many of the party’s voters, who approve of his performance but worry that Mr. Biden, who will be 82 on Inauguration Day, may simply not be up for another four years — or even the exhausting slog of another election.

“The voters don’t want this, and that’s in poll after poll after poll,” said James Carville, a longtime party strategist, who worries that a lack of enthusiasm for Mr. Biden could lead to lower Democratic turnout in 2024. “You can’t look at what you look at and not feel some apprehension here.”

In recent days, a barrage of grim news for Mr. Biden, including an autoworkers strike in the Midwest that poses a challenge to his economic agenda and the beginning of impeachment proceedings on Capitol Hill, has made this intraparty tension increasingly difficult to ignore. Those developments come amid a darkening polling picture, as recent surveys found that majorities of Democrats do not want him to run again, are open to an alternative in the primary and dread the idea of a Biden-Trump rematch.

A CNN poll released this month found that 67 percent of Democrats would prefer Mr. Biden not be renominated, a higher percentage than in polling conducted by The New York Times and Siena College over the summer that found half would prefer someone else.

In quiet conversations and off-the-record gatherings, Democratic officials frequently acknowledge their worries about Mr. Biden’s age and sagging approval ratings. But publicly, they project total confidence about his ability to lead and win.

“It’s definitely got a paradoxical element to it,” said Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey, a Democrat who is among a group of governors who put aside their national ambitions to support Mr. Biden’s re-election bid. “This is only a matter of time until the broad party, and broadly speaking, Americans, converge with the opinions of folks like myself.”

Many party officials say that Mr. Biden is making a high-stakes bet that the power of incumbency, a good political environment for his party and the fact that Democrats generally like the president will eventually outweigh the blaring signs of concern from loyal supporters. Any discussion of an alternative is little more than a fantasy, they say, since challenging Mr. Biden would not only appear disloyal but would also most likely fail — and potentially weaken the president’s general-election standing.

One Democratic voter who backed Mr. Biden in 2020, James Collier, an accountant in Houston, sees the situation slightly differently. He said he would like Mr. Biden to clear the way for a new generation that could energize the party’s base...

Monday, September 4, 2023

Julian Jackson, France on Trial

At Amazon, Julian Jackson, France on Trial: The Case of Marshal Pétain.

Voters Overwhelming Reject Biden As Too Old for Reelection

He's old, and he's tied for Trump in the general for 2024. 

I'm bored personally, but I'll vote for Trump in a hearbeat. 

At the Wall Street Journal, "Biden’s Age, Economic Worries Endanger Re-Election in 2024, WSJ Poll Finds":

Voters overwhelmingly think President Biden is too old to run for re-election and give him low marks for handling the economy and other issues important to their vote, according to a new Wall Street Journal poll that offers a stark warning to the 80-year-old incumbent ahead of the 2024 contest.

The negative views of Biden’s age and performance in office help explain why only 39% of voters hold a favorable view of the president. In a separate question, some 42% said they approve of how he is handling his job, well below the 57% who disapprove.

And Biden is tied with former President Donald Trump in a potential rematch of the 2020 election, with each holding 46% support in a head-to-head test.

The Journal survey, while pointing to a large set of challenges Biden faces in persuading voters that he deserves re-election, also finds weaknesses in his likely opponent. Voters in the survey rated Trump as less honest and likable than Biden, and a majority viewed Trump’s actions after his 2020 election loss as an illegal effort to stop Congress from declaring Biden the proper winner.

“Voters are looking for change, and neither of the leading candidates is the change that they’re looking for,” said Democratic pollster Michael Bocian, who conducted the survey with Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio.

Although the candidates are only three years apart, 73% of voters said they feel Biden is too old to seek a second term, compared with 47% of voters who said the same of the 77-year-old Trump. Two-thirds of Democrats said Biden was too old to run again.

By an 11-point margin, more voters see Trump rather than Biden as having a record of accomplishments as president—some 40% said Biden has such a record, while 51% said so of Trump. By an eight-point margin, more voters said Trump has a vision for the future. And by 10 points, more described Trump as mentally up to the presidency. Some 46% said that is true of Trump, compared with 36% who said so of Biden.

Biden is viewed more favorably than Trump on some personal characteristics. Some 48% of voters said Biden is likable, compared with 31% for Trump. Some 45% viewed Biden as honest, while 38% said so of Trump.

“If this race is about personality and temperament, then Biden has an advantage. If this race is about policies and performance, then Trump has the advantage,” said Fabrizio, who also polls for a super PAC supporting Trump’s candidacy.

The numbers come as Biden has spent months traveling the country promoting his economic record and legislative achievements, including major investments in infrastructure, clean energy and technology. The president has also touted job growth and higher wages under his watch, with data showing that the broader economy remains strong and inflation has cooled to its lowest rate in about two years. Unemployment remains near a 50-year low.

But 58% of voters say the economy has gotten worse over the past two years, whereas only 28% say it has gotten better, and nearly three in four say inflation is headed in the wrong direction. Those views were echoed in the survey by large majorities of independents, a group that helped deliver Biden’s victory over Trump in the 2020 presidential race. Voters were almost evenly split on the direction of the job market.


On Instagram.

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Thursday, August 3, 2023

Trump's Indictment and 2024

I can't see Trump winning the general in 2024. Voters will pick the least worst candidate if there's going to be a rematch of 2020, and while both Biden and Trump are very bad, respondents saw trump was the worst of the worst.

But if Trump is somehow --- only God knows --- reelected to the Oval Office, it will be both a political and legal victory. Team Trump has a plan to dismantle the deep state and streamline power in the hands of the executive. That would be really something to behold. 

We'll see, of course.

Meanwhile, at the New York Times, "Trump’s 2024 Campaign Seeks to Make Voters the Ultimate Jury":

Donald J. Trump has long understood the stakes in the election: The courts may decide his cases, but only voters can decide whether to return him to power.

The indictment of former President Donald J. Trump on charges of conspiring to overthrow the 2020 election ensures that a federal jury will determine whether he is held accountable for his elaborate, drawn-out and unprecedented attempt to negate a vote of the American people and cling to power.

But it is tens of millions of voters who may deliver the ultimate verdict.

For months now, as prosecutors pursued criminal charges against him in multiple jurisdictions, Mr. Trump has intertwined his legal defenses with his electoral arguments. He has called on Republicans to rally behind him to send a message to prosecutors. He has made clear that if he recaptures the White House, he will use his powers to ensure his personal freedom by shutting down prosecutions still underway.

In effect, he is both running for president and trying to outrun the law enforcement officials seeking to convict him.

That dynamic has transformed the stakes of this election in ways that may not always be clear. Behind the debates over inflation, “wokeness” and the border, the 2024 election is at its core about the fundamental tenets of American democracy: the peaceful transfer of power, the independence of the nation’s justice system, the meaning of political free speech and the principle that no one is above the law.

Now, the voters become the jury.

Mr. Trump has always understood this. When he ran for president the first time, he channeled the economic, racial and social resentments of his voters. But as his legal peril has grown, he has focused on his own grievances and projected them onto his supporters.

“If these illegal persecutions succeed, if they’re allowed to set fire to the law, then it will not stop with me. Their grip will close even tighter around YOU,” Mr. Trump wrote to supporters on Tuesday night. “It’s not just my freedom on the line, but yours as well — and I will NEVER let them take it from you.”

Mr. Trump’s arguments have so far been effective in his pursuit of his party’s nomination. After two previous indictments — over hush-money payments to a porn star and purloined classified documents — Republican voters rallied behind the former president with an outpouring of support and cash.

A New York Times/Siena College poll released this week found that Mr. Trump has a commanding lead over all his Republican rivals combined, leading Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida by a two-to-one margin in a theoretical head-to-head matchup. Mr. Trump, even as America’s best-known criminal defendant, is in a dead heat with Mr. Biden among general election voters, the poll found.

About 17 percent of voters who said they preferred him over Mr. Biden supported Mr. Trump despite believing that he had committed serious federal crimes or that he had threatened democracy after the 2020 election.

The prevailing Republican view is that the charges against Mr. Trump are a political vendetta.

Republicans have spent two years rewriting the narrative of the Capitol riots on Jan. 6, reimagining the violent attempt to disrupt the Electoral College vote count as a freedom fight against a Washington “deep state.” The result is that in many quarters of the Republican Party, Mr. Trump is more trusted than the prosecutors, special counsels and judges handling the cases against him.

“Even those who were fence sitting or window shopping, many of them are of the belief that the justice system under President Biden is simply out to get the former president,” said Jimmy Centers, a former aide to former Gov. Terry Branstad of Iowa, a Republican who later served as Mr. Trump’s ambassador to China. “It has only strengthened his support in Iowa, to the point at which his floor is much more solid than what it was earlier this spring.”

Whether Republicans continue to stand by Mr. Trump, as they have for months, remains to be seen in the wake of Tuesday’s indictment.

“At a certain point, are you really going to hitch your whole party to a guy who is just trying to stay out of jail?” asked former Representative Barbara Comstock, a Virginia Republican who lost her seat when suburban voters turned against Mr. Trump in 2018. “There may be another strategy that Republicans could come up with. And if they can’t, I think they lose.”

Strategists supporting rivals of Mr. Trump say that over time, the continued charges could hurt his standing with Republican voters, distract Mr. Trump from focusing on presenting his plans for the future and raise questions about his electability in the general election.

“Even though people will rally around him in the moment, it starts to erode favorablity and his market share,” said Kristin Davison, chief operating officer of Never Back Down, the super PAC backing Mr. DeSantis. “More people will start to look forward.”

Or they may not...

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Mark Levin, The Democratic Party Hates America

At Amazon, Mark Levin, The Democratic Party Hates America.

SpongeBob Bikini Top

Seen on

'Try That in a Small Town' (VIDEO)

I love country music. 

Jason Aldean's a freakin' patriot. It's a certainty the left'd come after him. Democrats hate this country. Anyone who countermands that message must be destroyed.

At the New York Times, "Jason Aldean, Decrying ‘Cancel Culture,’ Has a No. 2 Hit": “Try That in a Small Town” went from overlooked to almost topping the charts after a week of controversy":

In May, the country star Jason Aldean released a single, “Try That in a Small Town,” with lyrics that paint contemporary urban life as a hellscape of crime and anarchy: “Sucker punch somebody on a sidewalk/Carjack an old lady at a red light.”

“You think you’re tough,” Aldean sings. “Well, try that in a small town.”

Initially, the track got relatively little notice, landing at No. 35 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. That changed last week, after the song’s music video became a culture-war battlefield, with some accusing Aldean — one of country’s biggest hitmakers for nearly two decades — of employing racist dog-whistle tactics and the singer defending himself as the latest victim of an out-of-control “cancel culture.”

The controversy led to a rush on Aldean’s song, with both streams and downloads exploding over the course of last week. “Try That in a Small Town” makes its debut at No. 2 on the Hot 100, Aldean’s best showing ever on Billboard’s all-genre pop chart, beating current hits by Olivia Rodrigo and Morgan Wallen. Aldean was surpassed this week only by Jung Kook of the South Korean supergroup BTS, whose debut solo single, “Seven,” opens at No. 1.

The video for “Try That,” released on July 14, opens with Aldean performing before a stately building draped with an American flag; the structure was quickly identified as Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tenn., where in 1927 a young Black man named Henry Choate was lynched by a vigilante mob after being accused — falsely, historians believe — of raping a white girl.

The video features one montage after another of violent street protests, robberies and people antagonizing police officers in riot gear. Those scenes are juxtaposed with images of American flags being hoisted, children playing and what appears to be a television news segment about farmers helping out a neighbor.

Three days after it was released, the video was pulled from rotation on Country Music Television, without explanation. But it has been widely criticized as a thinly veiled attack on the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020.

Justin Jones, a Tennessee state representative, wrote on Twitter that lawmakers “have an obligation to condemn Jason Aldean’s heinous song calling for racist violence. What a shameful vision of gun extremism and vigilantism.”

Aldean, 46, has denied that race plays any part in the lyrics, or that “Try That” is a “pro-lynching song,” saying on social media, “These references are not only meritless, but dangerous.”

Some artists came to his defense...

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Carol Roth, You Will Own Nothing

At Amazon, Carol Roth, You Will Own Nothing: Your War with a New Financial World Order and How to Fight Back.

So Much for Local Control of Education: Gavin Newsom Takes on the Temecula Valley Unified School District (VIDEO)

And why?

Because the locally elected conservative board members don't want a social studies textbook that references homosexual icon Harvey Milk. 

So much for local control of schools? This is really pushing ahead the front lines of the culture war. 

At at time when average working- and middle-class families can't afford the cost of living, you know 100 percent that Newsom --- and the state's Democrat Party junta in Sacramento --- couldn't care less about the problems facing the state's everyday citizens. 

At the Los Angeles Times, "Temecula school board outrage over LGBTQ+ lessons motivates Newsom to rush new textbook law":

Temecula and most of southwestern Riverside County lean Republican, favoring former President Trump in the 2020 election and creating a rift with California’s Democratic state leaders. In December, the school board voted to ban the teaching of critical race theory.

On Wednesday, Newsom announced that the state is entering into a contract to secure textbooks for the district in time for the first day of school next month.

“The three political activists on the school board have yet again proven they are more interested in breaking the law than doing their jobs of educating students — so the state will do their job for them,” Newsom said in a statement, reiterating his commitment to fining the district.

Newsom — a national voice against red state policies — was so inspired to take on Temecula conservatives that he has publicly vowed to hold the school district accountable on the basis of a law that does not yet exist...
Laws? What laws?!! We make it up as we go!

More at KCAL News Los Angeles, "California Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday announced that the state has imposed a $1.5 million fine on the Temecula Valley Unified School District for 'willful violation' of the law," after board members voted not to adopt a new curriculum mentioning activist Harvey Milk":


On Instagram.

Emma-Jo Morris

This woman is amazing.

Click through to watch the video:

Flaming Skull: Burisma Founder Mykola Zlochevsky Allegedly Paid 'Protection Money' to Hunter Biden and His Dad, President Joseph Robinette Biden

At AoSHQ, "FBI Report: Burisma Founder and Oligarch Who Bribed Joe and Hunter Biden Alleges He Was 'Coerced' Into Giving Them Money."

ADDED: At the Other McCain, "‘Smoking Gun’ on Biden Bribery Scandal."

The Political Rise of Ultra-Orthodox Jews Shakes Israel's Sense of Identity

This is interesting.

At the Wall Street Journal, "Fast-growing group of religious conservatives allies with Netanyahu to take on Supreme Court, spawning mass protest movement; mandatory military service emerges as a key issue":

BNEI BRAK, Israel—Since Israel’s founding, mandatory military service for Jewish Israelis has been widely embraced as a unifying force in a divided society.

Now the issue threatens to tear the country apart. Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Jews, a fast-growing and potent political bloc, have long shunned military duty along with other aspects of secular society. Their effort to obtain a permanent exemption from service has repeatedly been foiled by Israel’s Supreme Court. Allied with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, they are pushing for a judicial overhaul to weaken the court.

The first part of the overhaul, which sparked mass protests that have shaken Israel for 28 straight weeks, is expected to be ratified by the Israeli parliament, or Knesset, as early as Sunday.

The clash goes to the heart of Israel’s inherent identity issue: Is it a modern liberal democracy or a society defined by religion? Many secular Israelis see the judicial reforms as a step toward increasing the power of people who would use religion to roll back fundamental civil rights.

“Secular society wants a full modern state,” said Gilad Malach, a scholar with the Israel Democracy Institute, a Jerusalem think tank. “The ultra-Orthodox aim is to have a strong religious society.”

Ultra-Orthodox Jews such as Yehoshua Menuchin, who at 40 has a wife, six sons and no steady job, refer to themselves as Haredim, meaning those who tremble before God. Many Haredi men don’t work regularly, instead choosing to study holy texts in religious seminaries called yeshivas. They argue that they contribute to the state in their own way by preserving Jewish tradition and providing divine protection for Israel.

“I don’t think we are making any less of a sacrifice,” Menuchin said. “I’ve passed on the pleasures of this world. I’ve given up on restaurants, on the cinema, on going to clubs. I’ve given up many things in my life.”

One element of Israeli society Menuchin and many other Haredim avoid is mandatory military service, a rite of passage in mainstream Israeli society. Most Jewish men and women spend two to three years in the army beginning at the age of 18. Friendships made in the army can also serve as the basis for professional connections after military life.

The Israeli Supreme Court has twice struck down legislation aimed at formally exempting Haredim from the draft, most recently in 2017 on the grounds that it created unequal treatment of citizens. The court has permitted temporary exemptions so that the government can find a solution.

Those decisions exacerbated friction between religious conservatives and the Supreme Court, which has long served as a strong defender of individual liberties, upholding the rights of Israel’s Arab citizens, women and LGBTQ people.

The Haredim now have the political heft to fight back. Their two political parties—one representing Jews of European descent and the other Jews from the greater Middle East—make up the second-largest bloc in the current government after Likud, with 18 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. They are key to Netanyahu’s grip on power, since his alliance controls just 64 seats in total. They have often threatened to leave the coalition if their various demands aren’t met.

The Haredi bloc in the Knesset hopes to enact legislation that would permit separating men and women in some public places. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Netanyahu called the Supreme Court “the most activist judicial court on the planet,” and said that “there is a growing understanding in the Israeli public that there’s a need for judicial reform.” Still, he says he has aimed to moderate several of the original proposals and instead “proceed in a measured way.”

The government wants to overhaul the system and hand more power to elected officials. Proposals include striking the court’s ability to overturn government decisions and giving lawmakers a majority say on the committee that picks new judges.

The backlash from secular Israelis and some moderate religious Jews has been intense.

In March, Ron Scherf, a 51-year-old reserve lieutenant colonel, helped organize a march through Bnei Brak, Israel’s largest Haredi city. Protesters carried signs urging Haredim to join the military. Some Haredim dropped fliers on protesters saying they would never serve in an “apostate” army.”

“We really believe there needs to be a new contract in Israel between the secular and Haredim,” Scherf said. “I don’t see a way that Israel can exist as a liberal, prosperous and strong country if the current situation doesn’t change.”

“We are getting close to a major clash,” counters Yisrael Cohen, a popular Haredi media figure. “If no side takes responsibility, it won’t end up in a good place.”

Military service aside, many in Israel believe the Haredi way of life represents a direct threat to the future prosperity of the country. About half of Haredi men don’t work. Instead, they pursue religious studies and live off a combination of their wives’s salaries, charity, government grants and subsidies. With a steadily increasing birthrate that today stands at around 6.5 children per female, compared with around 3.0 for the general population, according to the Israeli central bureau of statistics, the roughly 1.3 million Haredim represent 13.3% of the population. As its fastest-growing segment, they are on pace to be nearly one-third of all Israelis by 2065.

Haredim have used their political power to expand discounts on municipal taxes, subsidies for early child care and rental assistance for large low-income families—benefits that are technically available to all Israelis but that tend to favor Haredim because of their demographic characteristics. They or their yeshivas also enjoy stipends or grants for around 140,000 Haredim men who study full-time, according to the Israel Democracy Institute. The Institute, led by a former centrist politician, found Haredim pay one-third less in taxes than non-Haredi families.

In a letter to Netanyahu in May, over 200 leading Israeli economists warned that a plan to increase funding to Haredi educational institutions that refuse to teach secular subjects, along with the increase in stipends for full-time Torah learners, would transform Israel into a “Third World” economy by leaving Haredi children unprepared for today’s workforce.

The Haredim aim to expand religion in even more areas of public life. Since Netanyahu returned to power last year, they have passed a law allowing hospitals to ban bread products from entering public hospitals over the Jewish holiday of Passover. They have also said they hope to enact legislation that would permit separating men and women in some public places or events frequented by Haredim, something widely recognized by Israeli lawyers as unconstitutional.

Haredim already wield tremendous power over many aspects of public life. They control the Rabbanut, a governmental body that oversees marriage and divorce and determines who is a Jew. The Rabbanut’s long-standing refusal to recognize any non-Orthodox branches of Judaism has been a point of tension, particularly among diaspora Jews. They also have managerial control over prominent Jewish holy sites.

The recent protests in Bnei Brak left Yehoshua Menuchin’s wife, Dvora, unimpressed. “The people who are protesting, they don’t know anything about Judaism,” she said. “They are like babies. If they knew about Judaism, they wouldn’t do this.”

Her neighborhood is crowded, loud and vivacious, with pedestrians—including many children—filling the sidewalks on narrow streets lined with sacred book stores and small eateries selling traditional Eastern European Jewish food such as kugel, gefilte fish and cholent. On each corner and by each bus station stand rows of charity boxes, much of which will end up going to yeshiva students and their families...

Witness Describes Moment When U.S. Army Private Travis King Crossed the Demilitarized Line Into North Korea (VIDEO)

Following-up, "U.S. Army Soldier in North Korean Custody After Crossing Border 'Voluntarily'."

It turns out the kid was in big trouble and was in the midst of being sent back to the U.S., apparently for some kind of disciplinary action. Private King may have literally defected.

At WSJ yesterday, "Travis King, U.S. Soldier Held in North Korea, Had Been Detained in South Korea: The American’s ‘willful’ entry to the North instead of facing disciplinary actions creates fresh challenge for Washington and Pyongyang."

The Autism Surge

This is an amazing article. 

I mean, there's just so much information here. As a parent of a child "on the spectrum," it's quite refreshing.

At the Free Press:

Allie Forever!

This woman, oh god.

On Instagram:

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

U.S. Army Soldier in North Korean Custody After Crossing Border 'Voluntarily'

This is really bizarre.

I'm still figuring out this story. 

At the Wall Street Journal, "U.S. Soldier Held in North Korea After Crossing Border: American man on a tour of South Korean side of the Joint Security Area crossed over the military demarcation line without permission, U.N. says."

Monday, July 17, 2023


It's Rob Thomas and Matchbox Twenty:

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Heather Mac Donald, When Race Trumps Merit

At Amazon, Heather Mac Donald, When Race Trumps Merit: How the Pursuit of Equity Sacrifices Excellence, Destroys Beauty, and Threatens Lives

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., In Hot Water After Comments Suggesting Chinese and Jews Were Spared Covid (VIDEO)

Kennedy's desperately denying things on Twitter

But he says it.

At the New York Post, "RFK Jr. says COVID may have been ‘ethnically targeted’ to spare Jews."

And here comes the New York Times with the antisemitism angle: "Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Airs Bigoted New Covid Conspiracy Theory About Jews and Chinese."

You be the judge:

The 2024 Election Is a Fight Over America's Way of Life

Yeah. Isn't the next election always the one to save the American way of life? How's that been working out?

At WSJ, "GOP voters see a country corrupted by liberal ideals":

To win Jason Stewart’s vote, a presidential candidate should talk about stopping illegal immigration, taming inflation and keeping academic theories about race out of the classroom. But one overarching task is more important to the 51-year-old Republican than any single issue: rescuing American culture from liberals.

“Democrats and liberals have invaded every aspect of culture for the past 40 or 50 years, and we’re at a line-in-the-sand moment for conservatives,” said Stewart, a sales executive and Army veteran who lives outside Philadelphia. “What I’m looking for in a candidate is someone who can put up a fight across multiple fronts.”

The animating force in the Republican presidential primary, many voters and policy leaders say, is a feeling that American society—the government, the media, Hollywood, academia and big business—has been corrupted by liberal ideas about race, gender and other social matters. Democrats, in turn, feel that conservatives have used their political power in red states and in building a Supreme Court majority to undermine abortion rights and threaten decades of work to broaden equal rights for minority groups.

That has turned the next race for the White House into an existential election, with voters on both sides fearing not just a loss of political influence but also the destruction of their way of life.

“My biggest fear is about advancing that far-right agenda,” said Laurie Spezzano, 68, a Democrat and insurance agent in Louisville, Ky., who believes one of her own senators, Republican Mitch McConnell, subverted the legitimacy of the Supreme Court by using his leadership post to block a Democratic nominee to the court and to advance GOP nominees. Abortion rights have been diminished, she said, and gay rights in employment and marriage are at risk.

“I’ve never been against all Republicans, but it’s gotten to where they’re really scary now,” she said.

Republican Julie Duggan, by contrast, sees conservative values and traditional gender roles under attack amid social change that is moving too quickly. “It’s like half the country has lost their minds. People don’t even know what gender they are,” said Duggan, 31, a public safety worker in Chicago. If Republicans lose again, “it’s going to be the downfall of our society.” The Heritage Foundation, the conservative policy institute, has brought together 60 right-of-center organizations to compile a 900-page document of policy specifics to guide the next Republican president. But the group’s president, Kevin Roberts, says those specifics take a back seat to a broader goal. The next election, he says, “may be our last, best chance to rescue the nation from the woke, Socialist left.” “Their vision is to destroy everything that makes America America—our values, our history, our rights,” Roberts said recently at the group’s leadership summit. In an interview, he added, “We have lost our K-12 schools to radical-left activists. We’ve certainly lost our universities to the same, and other institutions,” including large businesses and even churches. “Everyday Americans,” he said, are being forced “to bend your knee to the rainbow flag.” Democrats and others say the GOP culture war is a backlash against greater acceptance of the nation’s growing diversity, which is long overdue in America, and that no one is being forced to bend a knee or otherwise get involved. Richard Blissett, 33, a Democrat and university staff member who lives in Baltimore, said that some Republican complaints are at odds with the party’s traditional faith in free markets. “There’s a big difference between government and Hollywood. If Republicans want more Republican movies, they can make them. No one is stopping them,” he said. The heightened feelings on both sides are reflected in a poll that found that about 80% of Republicans believe that the Democratic agenda, “if not stopped, will destroy America as we know it.” About the same share of Democrats had the same fear of the Republican agenda, saying it would destroy the country, an NBC News survey found last fall. The GOP’s sense that U.S. culture has gone off-track snarled legislation in Congress this week, as House Republicans pushed through a set of contentious social-policy amendments to an annual defense bill. The measures stripped money for diversity initiatives in the military and added restrictions on abortion and transgender care for service members. GOP lawmakers said they acted because liberal ideology was weakening the military. But the amendments endanger the bill’s path in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Many Republican voters say the pace of social change has left them off-balance, with schools and businesses pushing for racial diversity and transgender Americans raising difficult questions for parents, schools and sports officials. In Wall Street Journal-NORC polling this year, three-quarters of Republicans said society had gone too far in accepting transgender people. More than half said society had overstepped in accepting gay and lesbian people, and that businesses and schools had gone too far in promoting racial and ethnic diversity. Far fewer Democrats held those views.

In an Ipsos poll this March, about half of Republicans agreed with the statement, “These days I feel like a stranger in my own country.” Fewer than 30% of Democrats agreed.

While past GOP primary races have turned in part on policy disputes, such as remaking Medicare or scrapping the current tax code for a flat tax, the differences among candidates this year over matters such as abortion policy and aid to Ukraine have been a more muted part of the discussion. “Very few people are talking about tax reform, and everybody is talking about the cultural issues,” said Jondavid Longo, a Republican and mayor of Slippery Rock, a borough outside of Pittsburgh. Within both parties, he said, “they see politics as almost a life-or-death situation. Many voters believe that if their candidate does not win, then doom will follow.”

Wes Anderson, a Republican pollster who recently conducted focus groups with GOP voters, said the feeling of cultural alienation among Republicans stretches well beyond issues of race and gender to include the economy. “It’s all one and the same—there’s a cultural glue that goes from taxes and inflation to transgender policy,” he said. “Our base believes that we’re losing our country, and that the left has become radicalized to a point that they no longer believe in America and want to burn it all down and remake it in their image.”

GOP voters, he said, are asking two main things of candidates: Do you understand that we’re on the verge of losing our country? And can we trust you to fight back?

ormer President Donald Trump’s defining characteristic as a politician is his eagerness to both challenge the norms of Washington and fight culture-war battles. He regularly uses heightened rhetoric to emphasize what he sees as a threat from the left, warning of “pink-haired Communists teaching our kids” and promising to “keep foreign, Christian-hating Communists, Marxists and socialists out of America.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is also responding to the hunger among Republicans to take up cultural battles...

In Rolling Hills Estates, Million Dollar Homes Slide Down the Canyon (VIDEO)


At the Los Angeles Times, "In pricey Palos Verdes, the ocean view is great — until your house slides into a canyon."

Kaddy Reeves

Just wow.

On Instagram.

Video Animation of Titan Implosion Gets 5 Million Views in 11 Days (VIDEO)

Interesting viddy.

At the New York Post, "Animation of Titan sub’s demise garners 5 million views in 11 days."

It's got 15 million hits now.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Supreme Court Strikes Down Race-Based Admissions at Harvard and U.N.C.

This is really something. 

I've got CNN on. There's a bit of a freak-out happening, although I haven't been over to MSNBC yet, lol.

At the New York Times, "The decision is likely to reshape college admissions at elite schools. Here’s what to know":

Race-conscious admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina are unconstitutional, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday, the latest decision by its conservative supermajority on a contentious issue of American life.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the 6-3 majority, said the two programs “unavoidably employ race in a negative manner” and “involve racial stereotyping,” in a manner that violates the Constitution.

Universities can consider how race has affected a student’s life — a topic they may write about in an application essay, for example — but he warned schools not to use such considerations as a surreptitious means of racial selection. “Universities may not simply establish through the application essays or other means the regime we hold unlawful today,” he wrote.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor summarized her dissent from the bench — a rare move that signals profound disagreement. The court, she wrote, was “further entrenching racial inequality in education, the very foundation of our democratic government and pluralistic society.”

“The devastating impact of this decision cannot be overstated,” she said.

President Biden assailed the ruling in remarks hours after it was handed down in a televised address, saying the court had walked away from decades of precedent. He also offered guidance to colleges about how to move forward, proposing they take into account the adversity a student has overcome.

“Discrimination still exists in America,” he said, pounding his lectern and repeating his words for emphasis. “Today’s decision does not change that.”

Mr. Biden paused before leaving his remarks as a reporter asked if the court was “rogue.” “This is not a normal court,” he responded...

Via Memeorandum.

Also at the Wall Street Journal, "Supreme Court Strikes Down Affirmative Action in College Admissions."

And, "Affirmative Action Timeline: Key Dates."

Kenny Xu, An Inconvenient Minority

At Amazon, Kenny Xu, An Inconvenient Minority: The Ivy League Admissions Cases and the Attack on Asian American Excellence

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Friday, June 23, 2023

Submersible Passengers Died in Implosion (VIDEO)

We all know now.

But this was the big breaking letdown for so many yesterday. I personally saw no hope of survival, and the more we saw the more my initial intuition proved correct.

At the Wall Street Journal, "Search crews found debris from craft on ocean floor near Titanic shipwreck."

There's more at NPR (a great piece), "James Cameron says the Titan passengers probably knew the submersible was in trouble."

And an incredibly lucid and scientifically-informed interview with Cameron, at CNN with Anderson Cooper:

The interview continues here, "James Cameron on the 'surreal irony' of Titanic wreck and Titan implosion."

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Stephen McGinty, The Dive

At Amazon, Stephen McGinty, The Dive: The Untold Story of the World's Deepest Submarine Rescue.

Debris From OceansGate Search Confirmed as Coming From External Body of 'Titan' Sub

It was almost beyond hope, but now we know.

The U.S. Coast Guard press conference on the loss of the OceansGate submersible is about to begin. 

The company issued a statement, per CNN. Follow along:

As Many Reps As Possible

Watch, "Work out with Alexandra Daddario":

Friday, June 16, 2023

Mark Regnerus, Cheap Sex

At Amazon, Mark Regnerus, Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage, and Monogamy.

Why the U.S. Electric Grid Isn't Ready for the Energy Transition


And California is banning gasoline-powered, internal-combustion engines by 2035.

We won't be ready.

At the New York Times, "To start with, there is no single U.S. electric grid":

The U.S. electric grid is often described as a vast, synchronized machine — a network of wires carrying electricity from power plants across the country into our homes.

But, in reality, there is no single U.S. grid. There are three — one in the West, one in the East and one in Texas — that only connect at a few points and share little power between them.

Those grids are further divided into a patchwork of operators with competing interests. That makes it hard to build the long-distance power lines needed to transport wind and solar nationwide.

America’s fragmented electric grid, which was largely built to accommodate coal and gas plants, is becoming a major obstacle to efforts to fight climate change. Tapping into the nation’s vast supplies of wind and solar energy would be one of the cheapest ways to cut the emissions that are dangerously heating the planet, studies have found. That would mean building thousands of wind turbines across the gusty Great Plains and acres of solar arrays across the South, creating clean, low-cost electricity to power homes, vehicles and factories.

But many spots with the best sun and wind are far from cities and the existing grid. To make the plan work, the nation would need thousands of miles of new high-voltage transmission lines — large power lines that would span multiple grid regions.

To understand the scale of what’s needed, compare today’s renewable energy and transmission system to one estimate of what it would take to reach the Biden administration’s goal of 100 percent clean electricity generation by 2035. Transmission capacity would need to more than double in just over a decade....

There are enormous challenges to building that much transmission, including convoluted permitting processes and potential opposition from local communities. But the problems start with planning — or rather, a lack of planning.

There is no single entity in charge of organizing the grid, the way the federal government oversaw the development of the Interstate Highway System in the 1950s and ‘60s. The electric system was cobbled together over a century by thousands of independent utilities building smaller-scale grids to carry power from large coal, nuclear or gas plants to nearby customers.

By contrast, the kinds of longer-distance transmission lines that would transport wind and solar from remote rural areas often require the approval of multiple regional authorities, who often disagree over whether the lines are needed or who should pay for them.

“It’s very different from how we do other types of national infrastructure,” said Michael Goggin, vice president at Grid Strategies, a consulting group. “Highways, gas, pipelines — all that is paid for and permitted at the federal level primarily.”

In recent decades, the country has hardly built any major high-voltage power lines that connect different grid regions. While utilities and grid operators now spend roughly $25 billion per year on transmission, much of that consists of local upgrades instead of long-distance lines that could import cheaper, cleaner power from farther away.

“Utilities plan for local needs and build lines without thinking of the bigger picture,” said Christy Walsh, an attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Study after study has found that broader grid upgrades would be hugely beneficial. A recent draft analysis by the Department of Energy found “a pressing need for additional electric transmission” — especially between different regions.

The climate stakes are high... 

Laura Ingraham Interviews Cornel West (VIDEO)

Brother Cornel's announced he's the Green Party candidate for the presidency in 2024.

An interesting exchange:

Alternative for Germany Party Gains Ground Ahead of Elections


At Der Spiegel, "Normalization on the Extreme Right":

The far-right Alternative for Germany party is polling better than it has in several years. With elections approaching next year in a trio of eastern German states, the AfD is seeking to find its way even closer to the political mainstream.

The world wars, says Tino Chrupalla, head of the far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD), were "a catastrophe" for Germany and Europe. They "divided the continent and weakened it permanently."

Chrupalla speaks of Germany’s "defeats." He doesn’t, however, speak of the millions of dead, nor does he make mention of the Holocaust.

Instead, Chrupalla says that he finds it problematic "to always link remembrance with the question of guilt." Culpability issues should be "superseded by the question of the accomplishments of every civilization." That, he says, is a process the AfD would like to initiate. "Historical guilt should no longer determine the way we act."

Those who may still have been wondering where the AfD stands on the political spectrum and what to think of the party’s leader – who is fond of referring to himself as a mainstream conservative – such utterances should make it abundantly clear. The quotes come from an interview Chrupalla gave to the right-wing extremist blog "Sezession," which appeared two weeks ago – right around the time when the rest of Europe was observing Victory in Europe Day.

Chrupalla’s comments are reminiscent of the rather shocking claims of his predecessor Alexander Gauland, who is today honorary chairman of the AfD. In 2018, Gauland said that Germany had a "glorious history that is much longer than 12 years." And: "Dear friends, Hitler and the Nazis are but a spot of bird shit on German history."

Five years ago, Gauland’s statements triggered widespread indignation. Leading politicians from all of Germany’s democratic parties condemned his comments, the German government branded them as "shameful" and all major media outlets covered the story. There were even voices within the AfD itself demanding an apology, which Gauland then half-heartedly delivered. He regrets the impact they made, he said.

But following Chrupalla’s comments? Crickets. There were no objections worthy of note from his own party nor from other politicians – despite the fact that Chrupalla went even further than Gauland. Gauland at least mentioned the Nazis. Chrupalla, though, did not, nor did he say anything about their crimes.

Getting Used to the Party

The incident shows once again just how entrenched the AfD has become, how the party has become an accepted part of Germany’s political landscape. Ten years after its founding, so many have grown used to the party and its beliefs that not even historical revisionism is sufficient to trigger a debate. Instead, other parties have begun cooperating with the AfD time and again, particularly the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP), which is part of Germany’s current governing coalition.

Despite being monitored by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, on suspicions of right-wing extremism, the AfD doesn’t just have representatives in almost all of Germany’s state parliaments and in the Bundestag, the federal parliament in Berlin. It is also polling higher in public opinion surveys than it has in five years. A broad feeling of uneasiness with the current situation could be feeding the rise, as could the fact that the number of refugees arriving in Europe has once again ticked upwards. But are such explanations sufficient?

Keep reading

Groomer-In-Chief (VIDEO)

At MEDIAite, "DeSantis War Room Posts Bizarre Video Suggesting Biden Is a Groomer: ‘Keep Your Hands Off Our Kids’."

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, I Alone Can Fix It

At Amazon, Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump's Catastrophic Final Year.


On Instagram.

Pro-Pence Super-PAC, 'Committed to America', Launches First 2024 Campaign Spot (VIDEO)

The background's here, "Pence allies launching super PAC to back former vice president’s expected 2024 candidacy."

Also, at MEDIAite, "Brutal Ad from Pro-Pence Super PAC Hits Trump Over Jan. 6, Abortion, Putin: ‘A Weak Man’."

The Radical Strategy Behind Trump's Promise to 'Go After' Biden

At the New York Times, "Conservatives with close ties to Donald J. Trump are laying out a “paradigm-shifting” legal rationale to erase the Justice Department’s independence from the president":

When Donald J. Trump responded to his latest indictment by promising to appoint a special prosecutor if he’s re-elected to “go after” President Biden and his family, he signaled that a second Trump term would fully jettison the post-Watergate norm of Justice Department independence.

“I will appoint a real special prosecutor to go after the most corrupt president in the history of the United States of America, Joe Biden, and the entire Biden crime family,” Mr. Trump said at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., on Tuesday night after his arraignment earlier that day in Miami. “I will totally obliterate the Deep State.”

Mr. Trump’s message was that the Justice Department charged him only because he is Mr. Biden’s political opponent, so he would invert that supposed politicization. In reality, under Attorney General Merrick Garland, two Trump-appointed prosecutors are already investigating Mr. Biden’s handling of classified documents and the financial dealings of his son, Hunter.

But by suggesting the current prosecutors investigating the Bidens were not “real,” Mr. Trump appeared to be promising his supporters that he would appoint an ally who would bring charges against his political enemies regardless of the facts.

The naked politics infusing Mr. Trump’s headline-generating threat underscored something significant. In his first term, Mr. Trump gradually ramped up pressure on the Justice Department, eroding its traditional independence from White House political control. He is now unabashedly saying he will throw that effort into overdrive if he returns to power.

Mr. Trump’s promise fits into a larger movement on the right to gut the F.B.I., overhaul a Justice Department conservatives claim has been “weaponized” against them and abandon the norm — which many Republicans view as a facade — that the department should operate independently from the president.

Two of the most important figures in this effort work at the same Washington-based organization, the Center for Renewing America: Jeffrey B. Clark and Russell T. Vought. During the Trump presidency, Mr. Vought served as the director of the Office of Management and Budget. Mr. Clark, who oversaw the Justice Department’s civil and environmental divisions, was the only senior official at the department who tried to help Mr. Trump overturn the 2020 election.

Mr. Trump wanted to make Mr. Clark attorney general during his final days in office but stopped after the senior leadership of the Justice Department threatened to resign en masse. Mr. Clark is now a figure in one of the Justice Department’s investigations into Mr. Trump’s attempts to stay in power.

Mr. Clark and Mr. Vought are promoting a legal rationale that would fundamentally change the way presidents interact with the Justice Department. They argue that U.S. presidents should not keep federal law enforcement at arm’s length but instead should treat the Justice Department no differently than any other cabinet agency. They are condemning Mr. Biden and Democrats for what they claim is the politicization of the justice system, but at the same time pushing an intellectual framework that a future Republican president might use to justify directing individual law enforcement investigations.

Mr. Clark, who is a favorite of Mr. Trump’s and is likely to be in contention for a senior Justice Department position if Mr. Trump wins re-election in 2024, wrote a constitutional analysis, titled “The U.S. Justice Department is not independent,” that will most likely serve as a blueprint for a second Trump administration.

Like other conservatives, Mr. Clark adheres to the so-called unitary executive theory, which holds that the president of the United States has the power to directly control the entire federal bureaucracy and Congress cannot fracture that control by giving some officials independent decision-making authority.

There are debates among conservatives about how far to push that doctrine — and whether some agencies should be allowed to operate independently — but Mr. Clark takes a maximalist view. Mr. Trump does, too, though he’s never been caught reading the Federalist Papers...

How Putin's KGB Years in East Germany Helped Shape Him

At the Los Angeles Times, "Super Spy or Paper Pusher." 

Sunday, May 21, 2023

'Shark Tank's' Kevin O'Leary, 'I have 54 companies in every state and nearly every sector, and we now know what the percentage is, it's just under 40 percent --- 40 percent are never coming back!' (VIDEO)

Office workers. Are the coming back in the new economy? 

Elon Musk say employees working from home are like Marie Antoinette: Let them eat cake! (Like the folks who have to deliver your groceries every day and can't "work from home.")

Kevin O'Leary is great.


Martha Stewart Becomes Sports Illustrated's Oldest Swimsuit Cover Model

She's amazingly hot at 81!

At WSJ, "At 81, the domestic goddess fronts the magazine in glamorous swimwear that leaves little to the imagination. Her motivation? ‘Showing people that a woman my age can still look good and feel good’."

Russia Retakes Bakhmut (VIDEO)

At the Wall Street Journal, "Bakhmut Is Largely Under Russian Control, Says Ukrainian General":

Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskiy says Ukrainian forces are still clinging to a tiny part of the city.

KOSTYANTYNIVKA, Ukraine—Ukrainian forces have lost effective control of the eastern city of Bakhmut, Ukraine’s top commander in the region said, as Moscow declared its first significant conquest since last summer after months of relentless fighting that has cost thousands of lives and obliterated the city.

Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskiy said Ukrainian forces clung to a tiny part of Bakhmut and were advancing around its flanks, but acknowledged that the city was largely under Russian control.

The city’s capture would mark the only significant success of a monthslong Russian offensive that has severely depleted its military.

The question of who really won the battle of Bakhmut, military strategists say, will be decided not by control over the shattered city but by the next phase of the war. Kyiv fought street by street and at great cost to grind down Russian forces and prepare its forces for its own offensive aimed at seizing back territory occupied by Russia. Fighting has also cut into Ukrainian forces after Kyiv committed additional units to its defense.

The fight for Bakhmut has highlighted how limited Moscow’s war aims have become. Russian media, which at the start of the war reported on its army’s lightning thrust toward Kyiv, has in recent days instead given daily updates on the fights for streets and even single buildings in a city once home to around 70,000 people.

That Ukraine was able to inflict very heavy losses on the Wagner group and Russian forces in Bakhmut for more than six months remains a success for the defenders, said Nico Lange, a former chief of staff to the German Defense Ministry and a fellow of the Munich Security Conference, a think tank.

“The complete takeover of Bakhmut does not make any strategic difference,” Lange, who visited the front lines as part of a study trip. “Ukraine will continue the defense in well-developed positions a little further west and at the same time may even get the Russians into trouble on the flanks.”

Ukrainian forces have been clinging to a shrinking patch on the western edge of Bakhmut for several weeks while launching counterattacks against Russian forces around the city.

On Saturday, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner paramilitary group that has been spearheading the offensive to take the city, said his forces had taken control of Bakhmut...

Saturday, May 20, 2023